Thirty Things That Can Fuck Right Off

Inspired by a wonderfully funny (and sad) list in Dawn French's "Me - You - A Diary", I've compiled my own list of things that can fuck right off...

1) Period pain

2) The pink tax

3) Immigration restrictions and the term, "economic migrant"

4) That Rhys-Mogg person and all his greediness

5) The relentless scrutiny of Kylie Minogue at 50

6) Animal cruelty

7) Weddings and all the judgment and expectations of other people that come with it as an unspoken rule

8) The menopause

9) Built-in obsolescence

10) Mansplaining

11) Manspreading

12) Telling women they have "shrill" voices

13) Ageing

14) The deliberate underfunding and dismantling of the NHS

15) Repeatedly moving house with heavy cases and bags and no personal driver

16) London rent prices

17) New York rent prices

18) Judgment of women who have children and work, women who have children and don't work, women who don't have children ... etc

19) People who say, "I don't mean to be rude, but..."

20) Ignorance of ignorance

21) British customer service (which runs along the lines of 'If you're British and you're a customer, don't expect any kind of service')

22) Toddlers running around and under my arm in supermarkets so that I nearly accidentally decapitate them with my basket

23) Men saying, "cheer up darlin' it might never 'appen!"

24) People who ask women with children and a successful career: "How do you balance your career with having children?" who have NEVER asked a man the same thing

25) The ever elusive "property ladder"

26) Boyfriends who think they've been really helpful when you ask them to do the washing up, who have failed to additionally: wipe surfaces clean, put away the mustard/mayonnaise/cream/yoghurt that has to go back in the fridge, swill out the sink/washing-up bowl, and put the cork back in the wine bottle. (Oh, wait, scratch that last one. Fuck it - I'll finish the wine.)

27) Men who call women: 'love', 'darlin', 'sweetheart' or even (yes, this happened at work once) 'treacle', because they're too lazy to learn and use my name

28) Citizenship tests that citizens of that country would never pass in a million years

29) That one-inch gap between the door and the 'wall' in US bathroom stalls (what's up with that?!)

30) Tassels for earrings ... (why is this a thing?)

Ok. There's my rant. Your turn...

What I’ve learnt from Wimbledon

Once upon a time, there was a man who got a wildcard to get into the Wimbledon tournament. He was ranked 125 in the world. He had been in a Wimbledon final on three other occasions, twice involving tense battles with the likes of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. He had always dreamed of winning Wimbledon. His serve is a weapon still remembered to this day, as he has just been voted as having the 2nd best serve of all time in an online BBC sports poll. Second that is, only to Pete Sampras. Why am I even mentioning this player? Because he entered Wimbledon in 2001 on a wildcard, ranked 125th in the world, and yet went on to win the tournament. He seemed to have ‘god’ on his side. He beat a very humble Pat Rafter in a superb and incredibly close and tense final, one which could not be forgotten by anyone who saw it. His name was Goran Ivanišević.

My interest lies in the fact that this guy somehow beat all the odds. ALL OF THEM. Mentally, the loss at the last hurdle three previous times must have been huge. The idea that he was also a man from a small country no-one really cared about and hadn’t grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth also makes it all the more surprising. The fact that he had to beat the odds of there never, ever having been anyone entering the Wimbledon tournament on a wildcard and actually going on to win the championships must also have been an enormous mental block to overcome. The fact that rain disrupted his semi-final match to such an extent, that the championship final actually took place on the Monday, not the traditional Sunday was also a factor that set his victory apart as unique. To align all these factors, to result in a Wimbledon triumph is something even Goran could never have actually planned. He knew it was largely down to fate, god, the universe, or whatever outside force he trusted in. And yet, he didn’t dismiss that element of the situation, quite the reverse.

Here’s a clip of the highlights of that epic match:

All of this inspires me and reminds me of the important mental discipline that is required to achieve any big goal that feels like a huge mountain to climb. It’s part of the kind of thinking that I have been trying to incorporate into my own life, especially with regard to my ‘Patsy Pioneer’ alter-ego and the necessity to combat the evils of the things that oppose my progress. The things in my life that are like kryptonite to me need to be renamed as something silly, so that I remember not to place too much importance on them. Old-school thinking such as, “no-one earns any money from music” or “there’s no way I can make a career out of this with my background” has to be eradicated, and indeed, laughed at. Because it’s irrelevant. If a guy from a town called Split can win Wimbledon on a wildcard, despite no-one else in the history of the championships EVER doing this, then I can beat my own family background, class, lack of music education, lack of piano access and so on, too. It’s my choice where I place my focus, where I choose to hang my thoughts and beliefs. It’s my path and mine alone, and although tennis also reminds me that having a coach and a team of people helping you to achieve your goal is absolutely vital, and therefore going it alone is not an option, I also recognise that the responsibility for keeping my thinking focussed on what I’m trying to achieve and why I’m trying to achieve it (and expressly not on asking ‘how’ all the time) is entirely mine.

Finally, the one other thing about this unique Wimbledon final that also bears mentioning is the fact that in defeat, Ivanišević’s opponent, Pat Rafter, was an incredible example of how humble, kind and fair someone can be. The way he reacted to the outcome of the match, the way in which he dealt with his own sense of missing out on the title despite two near-misses is admirable. When something is truly out of your hands, there comes a time when remaining open, optimistic but accepting of where you are is an incredible set of qualities to have. I aspire to hold those too.

A Response From Vivienne

I recently went to Vivienne Westwood’s shop at The World’s End in Chelsea and performed my song, ‘How Can You Sleep At Night?’ about the MPs expenses scandal there. I felt that it highlighted an issue with our politicians that formed another element of those that she had mentioned in her, ‘Politicians R Criminals’ campaign. (I’m glad to note she purposely mentions Caroline Lucas as an exception to this rule.) I sent a link to this YouTube clip of my performance via Vivienne’s website:

And I received a reply via her assistant with this attached handwritten letter:

Answer-from-Vivienne-724x1024.jpg

What do you think of her response?

I do already follow Vivienne on her Climate Revolution blog and have been keeping an eye on her posts about TTIP and other aspects of the ‘Politicians R Criminals’ campaign as well. I feel that the MPs expenses scandal is another example of the ways in which they so often fail to uphold the values I hold dear, and those of course include maintaining human rights and doing our best to protect the environment. (The first song I ever wrote at the age of 11 was actually about environmental issues!!) I am not sure that reporting on this element of politicians’ work ethic misleads us into thinking that politicians are otherwise doing their job perfectly well. But maybe I’ve misunderstood Vivienne’s point. I feel that it’s another side to the story that shows us the true nature of the people we voted for. (Or indeed the people we didn’t vote for because the ones we did, didn’t get elected.)

I personally think that human rights include the right to expect our politicians to spend their electorate’s funded expenses in a manner that is fair and reasonable, in accordance with them expecting us to be fair and reasonable in how we go about paying our taxes and making use of public services. I feel we have a right to speak (or sing!) openly about our opinions on the political system and governmental decisions made for our country, with a view to trying to improve them for the better, on all fronts.

What do you think? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

I will be writing to Vivienne to thank her for her response, as I do very much appreciate her taking the time to do so. Little by little I hope both of us can keep pushing for improvement and fairness in our world, in our own disparate but equally valid ways.