Bathroom Laws (by )

I've been thinking about the bathroom law thingy in the US and I'm starting to think I actually wont be able to visit the US because as any who's known me for a while will know... I kind of sometimes end up in the mens loos - mainly due to being completely ditzy. We've tracked it down to the signs - it doesn't happen when there are written signs but does when there are the figures - I have to stop and think - I tend to not wear skirts. This started at nursery/pre-school because I remember getting into trouble over it and my little friend giving me a scooter and informing me it could be my willy so there wasn't a problem - it was the 80's I wore dungerees, my infant school had no uniform so skirts outside of party dresses came late though my track suits were often "girly".

I still get teased by family because I would cry as I didn't have tail-all (penis - I thought it was a tail you weed out of).

Roll forward to sixth form college where I spent a whole term using the boys toilets to be fair this is because I thought they were unisex loos because that made sense to me. University being male heavy had more boys loos than girls... car workshops had one loo for everyone which was frustratingly why I wasn't allowed to go and have work experience there because I'd have to share a loo with guys :/

There are countless examples the most recent being a pub here in Gloucester - I spent an entire arts festival using the guys loos without realising - everyone thought it was hilarious. And now because they are wedged in my mind as the loos to use I wonder in every flipping time I go to that pub... "oh I'm in the wrong loos again!" and general then turn and trip over the doorway step thing straight into confused looking drunk guy who then panic and check they are going in the right loos.

Of course having been a cleaner and a steward doesn't help - you shout you are going in and then you go in - to ALL bathrooms/toilets and you clean them or restrain the attacker or help the sick person depending. I'm kind of notorious for this now. But from what I understand this is now a crime in the US?

I don't really understand why - they are saying it's to stop attacks on girls?!

But as you may have caught above I have stewarded a lot of events and venues, I have been clubbing and...

a) as a teen/early 20's person I and my friends got barred from a series of clubs because the staff had a sex assault thing going on, they didn't care what loo was what - they drugged drinks and then followed the girls into the loos - we stopped this happening to one of us and had the audacity to call the police and take it further - bathroom laws are not going to protect from that, nor being dragged into a bathroom at random (in this case a female (me) being dragged into a college toilet people saw it happen so came and stopped what ever was about to happen however my left arm didn't like being squeezed so hard and took 3 months to heal)

b) most of the responses to the panic alarm I attended as staff where women attacking women, a few where men being the victims of sexual assualt and yes they were put in to stop rapes (as in unofficially they were called the rape alarms) but mainly we broke up fights and did first aid on drunk people who'd passed out and hit their head on the sink.

c) I've been told women wont be able to ask for period help if there are people who were born men in the bathroom... ???? you see this really makes no sense to me as someone who has had many many "womens problems" with bleeding etc... I will ask the nearest avalible person for help reguardless of gender.

One of the things working at the campsite taught me was that boys have period stuff mostly hidden from them - they are scared of it, it is foo, it is DARK MARGIC... the campsite was brilliant with this sort of thing and stamped out any notion of sani-bin emptying being a women only job, infact everyone had to clean everything and yes this means I was scrubbing urinals and clearing the poo-bergs but it also meant the boys had to empty-sani bins, deal with messes left by 8-18 yr old girls being caught out by their first periods whilst staying with us ie blood covered climbing harnesses, ruined matraces in the sleeping dorms, little girls complaining of stomach cramps.

And that's the way it should be, they in the most part have mothers and sisters and quiet a lot will end up with daughters and wives and... well ok transwomen do not have wombs so can't bleed but you know med tech is moving on and that is only a matter of time and even if they don't go for body alteration/modification/transition... where is the problem? Humans have this thing called empathy, humans help other humans out when they are in distress.

Menstruation is just one more thing used by society to make women feel dirty and isolated so breaking down that barrier is a good thing. Personally due to queuing etc... I would get rid of toilet gender completely, in fact when I was having gut issues the clinic told me... "if theres a cue for the women's use the disabled loo if there is no disabled loo just use the mens. Better that than pooing myself in public - I mean you weigh that one up and see what you would do!!!

So yeah America - I want to come and visit you and see your fab cities but I'm kind of concerned I'll get arrested for accidently wondering into the wrong loos.

Shakespearian Mock Tales (by )

Twelfth Night mocktail

Last night we had the second ever Mock Tales - 2 hours of stories and writing creativeness with sticky non-alcoholic cocktails. They were Shakespeare themed as it was his 400th birthday at the weekend :)

I did 20+ pages of my comic book script/story board and now know how this story arc ends, Alaric managed 5000 words of our joint novel/series.

There were 3 of us so I was limited as to how many drinks I could make!

Twelfth Night mocktail A midsummer nights dream mocktail The Scottish Drink for Shakespearian Mock Tales Tempest non alc. cocktail for Shakespearian Mock Tales

Above are Twelfth Night which was minty, Midsummer Nights Dream which was vanillary, The Scottish Drink which was fruity, and The Tempest which was Sugary.

We also had home made Pizza which was dairy and gluten free - Mary had opinions...

Mary proclaiming her dairy and gluten free pizza is yucky whilst grinning and grabbing the next slice

I remembered that when I was in secondary school I became obsessed with The Tempest as a story and drew the whole thing as a comic - I wonder if it survives somewhere? I loved the stop motion animations they did of the shakespeare stories I need to try and find them for the girls.

Jean tried a Tempest before she went off to best - she was a little horrified at it's stickiness - she still drank/ate it.

Jean being unimpressed by mocktail

Recipes are being written down for Salaric Cooking before people start prodding again :)

A Stranger Dream – Virtual Launch Party (by )

Identity Clinging Poetry Cards

I am a poet, I am an artist, I am many things some of which seem contradictory - after the head bang last year the question of identity reigned large in my vision of self - not just my identity but everybody's and societies reactions to identity issues - so I started working on a series of images.

I was learning how to draw again and the ideas were appearing faster than I could create them, I spent 3 months working on the visuals for A Stranger Dream. And mainly I have had positive feedback though some people do hate the style and that is fine it is stark, it was meant to be.

But what is A Stranger Dream? Well for a start it is not A Stranger Dream it is A Stranger Dream: Love but it's not it is

Love: A Stranger Dream...

or both or neither or something...

Love: A Stranger Dream

It is a non-linear visual poem on identity, gender, our place within family, our concentric non-ecludian intersecting and exclusionary circles of all the cultures of us - it is the distorting mirrors within our own heads - the fitting and the not fitting - the fires within.

I know it doesn't look it but it was a hell of a lot of work.

Then someone said "it says colouring in book to me" and I thought... why not?! I thought people colour to relax, to sort thoughts, to just be themselves and that is fitting - plus colouring in book is on the list of to-dos and I have been producing colouring in sheets for my kids workshops for ages.

So I started by popping the images up as individual sheets for download and colouring - they are still there and they are free.

Then I made ring bound ones at home for shows and events... people far away started asking how they could get hold of them so I have created a colouring in book complete with purple spine and title box because... I am the Purple Poet!!!!

Here is a picture of the spiral bound ones at The True Believers Comic Book Festival earlier this year.

A Stranger Dream spiral bound

And this weekend (April 22-14 2016) I am having a launch party - sadly I am only running a virtual one but it is going to be epic!!!

I will be pinging around the internet - of course hoping people will buy the book but as I said don't feel you have to because I put the individual sheets out there for free download and I know times are tight (having said that I need to buy more art supplies... to you know produce more art!).

There is a Facebook Event, a Google+ Event, a twitter hashtag # astrangerdream and my patreon account (which will have hidden extras in it for patreons only). There are also the blogs namely this one and Turquoise Monster which is my poetry blog :) So I think that is pretty much everyone covered - I am hoping to do a little film thingy too but we will have to see how the laptop holds up!

The colouring book is already up on Amazon and Book Repository etc... it is appearing as £10 odd - I meant it to be roughly £7 if you've bought the £10 copy let me know as I have a little goody bag to post to you containing some lovely tie-in items :) (yes I am trusting people to be honest here! Thankyou :) )

Oh and there should be a gallery unveiling where people can post pictures of their colouring in - if they wish :)

There are going to be give aways but there will also be merch for sale and special offers etc... (sorry guys I would love to give you everything for free but I do need a new computer!).

I am actually stupidly excited about this and am even making myself an outfit out of the art work! The poetry cards have arrived and are beautiful in a way I was not expecting :)

Most of all though regardless of weather you buy or take for free or just look - mainly I hope everyone will be enriched by the work itself, it was very important to me whilst creating it. It's kind of an imprint of the soul, maybe a darker one than people would like but it is... something - I'm not quiet sure what.

I hope you will join me for turning the starkness into a rainbow.

Splice and Split rainbow

Park Run Issues (by )

So a while ago now as in more than a year ago I went to the Ignite talks in Bath (part of a Tech festival I believe) to tell the world about why I designed Cuddly Science - the theme was Tech/Science for the wider good or something like that.

Whilst there we came across a group who had made a system for timing people and getting people to run and train and do exercise together. Without it costing the participants a butt load of money because that is a huge issue with exercise - I know when I was younger and even now I never really went to the gym or swimming that much because they cost money.

In fact one of the big draws of working at the campsite was that I got to use the climbing wall, lake, rifle and archery ranges for free after work (which was teaching those things except lake stuff due to pathetic swimming abilities). At uni I wanted to take part in loads of things but it was all too expensive and had a tendency to mount up cost wise but I did manage a bit of caving and Kung Fu.

My own struggle with wheelchairs and walking aids has shown how much of a difference having access to equipment can make not to mention people to encourage you and kind of group learning when you are doing things wrong as well.

Part of my miraculous recovery resulted from me having enough money to get a recumbent exercise bike with back rest and large wide padded seat - with a busted pelvis there was no way I could even get on a normal bike. But the bike, pool, chin up bar, pedometers etc still set me back hundreds of pounds because equipment is not cheap and needing what I did meant I couldn't just wait for free cycle and though social services where brilliant in providing me with bedsticks and aids to get in and out of baths etc... they could not provide what I needed for my physio. (to be fair I have bought all this stuff over like a decade but I did kind of need it in one hit and the thing is that because I was going to have to get a taxi or something to the gym in the first place the cost of gyms for a couple of months was enough to get the bike etc... and I can use it whilst the kids play at home etc...).

I digress some what - the point is there needs to be free stuff our health is kind of dependant on it. People need to climb, swim, run, we need a variety of stuff so those with various injuries or medical conditions which the longer you go in life is more likely to be you, can exercise.

This did not used to be such an issue but it is with modern lives and yes we could argue about that for a millenia and not change a single thing. Bikes are expensive, bikes get stolen or damaged but... there are great projects a foot to refurbish old bikes so they are accessible to everyone - fit free clean transport for the win (just please don't moan about me and my kids being in the cycle lane when the vegetation has grown over our pedestrian bit of path and hey they are scooters anyway! and never mind there is a mobility scooter coming and we all need to navigate the hideous junction with the lorries and more lanes than I can work out).

Back home in Essex and London there is gym equipment in the playgrounds or rather in the parks just outside the playgrounds - for grown ups to use! And people use them - for FREE (except you know they are paid for by taxes and that is the sort of thing I want my tax spent on!).

So bikes good, walks good (whilst we still have access and the national parks to walk in :( ), and we have basically already lost swimming and climbing as free accessible things unless you are really lucky - but running and pull ups etc... there are games set up to help walkers and runners, Bristol even has a playable city!

And that brings us to the reason that I am writing this post - Bristol.

They want to charge the Park Run runner with path maintenance - something most of them will already be paying for in tax. They are saying they can't expect the non-runners to pay for it equally - erm... but community, society, COMMON SCENSE!

Because yes people cause erosion - big problem with some areas of outstanding natural beauty and so on but there is a lot of wear and tear from just WALKING, from dogs scratching, bikes biking, kids scooting... also are they planning on charging everyone to just run? Regardless of weather you are with the Park Run?

Charging for the free sports and exercise that will help people lead fitter and healthier lives - which will drastically reduce the cost on the nhs (injuries costs are minimal compared to long term chronic conditions which exercise can help control (if you can and have access to the exercise!)).

This is more than short sighted - looks like I am not the only one who thinks so.

The same park seems to charge for the football club to use it on Saturday mornings - is that normal practice?

Now obviously we are angry - mainly because as geeks neither of us has liked sport that much - that is because we perceived it as aggressive and bully-tastic - this changed with the Olympics where we got to see it more as striving for personal bests and being the best you can be - a world of self improvement.

We did not see the climbing and shooting as sport they were activities we liked - again that barrier came down. We were no longer doing those things because - money. We spend too much on the kids clubs and activities but that is because we have learnt that a) confidence is important and b) they are both girls related to me and yes they maybe lucky and take after Al but.... they need their core muscle strength and they need good metabolisms and they need strong lungs and hearts.

But we are paying alot for that and many don't have that (we don't really have that and rely on people giving classes or equipment instead of presents for the girls).

And the thing is it isn't just me - Alaric is actually the one who takes part in the park run as part of him sorting his body out - for years he had bad back pain but it got worse and worse - its siatica, he's lucky the Dr spotted the problem - we had to pay a physio to sort it as though it would have resulted in him needing a hip replacement in 2 yrs time the nhs could not pay for the preventative yanking the leg back out of its socket but they would pay for the hip replacement :/ So obv. he had loads of physio ad stuff to do afterwards - it's acting up again which is a bad sign but it is more than the 2 yrs on now - he is working on his general muscle tone and stuff.

He does Krav, that costs money... but he also does park run - he was running by himself but motivation is hard - but park run... that is different.

It's free, it's all together, it's mildly competitive but mainly supportive.

I was/am looking forward to running in it but am still struggling with getting round the block - but hey I am getting round the block and now mainly not weeing myself in the process (yes literally and yes probably TMI). We are planning on including the kids which is another thing taking kids to gyms doesn't work - it used to when I was a kid - I remember sitting at the edge of the gym whilst my dad and uncles weight trained but that doesn't happen anymore - so what do you do with the kids whilst you use the gym?!

So we plan to run as a family but that has to wait on Mary levelling up with Ballet as the times currently clash.

I hope Bristol does not set a trend - it would be a shame and a tragedy to loose something that is designed to help everybody.

(p.s. written whilst Jean was at her pre-school free running club which is fab but not sure how wide spread those are!)

Ok so I side tracked myself a lot but basically park runs make running and exercise accessible to everyone allowing a reduction in the impact poverty can have - it is a good thing why break it. (or course you also need access to tech so we need the libraries as well for people to get the full goodness of the thing and sadly also the foodbanks :(.) Also positive impact on health, attitudes.

Here is the petition.

Mock Tales (by )

Decatant Coffee Pot Mocktail

Last night we had the first of what we hope will be a roughly fortnightly event - that can not be set in stone because we are just too busy.

And that is part of why we've set it up - Mock Tales is literally a night of tales and cocktails except there is no alc. this is an important factor as pubs are great but not always productive or helpful for creative works. People work in different ways.

So we created a creative zone of 2 hrs ring fenced for writing projects specifically and made sticky drinks with bits of fruit, gold lead and coconut!

We started by sharing tales with each other (see what I did there!!! SEEEEEE) around the table with a share alike curry. Then we took our second round of drinks into the living room and wrote...

I had plenty of writing stimuli incase people got stuck including a new deck of tarot cards with amazing art work, but as it turned out everyone had their own projects and were typing or scribbling away like mad :)

And Alaric broke the 90, 000 word barrier on his novel 😀 This is the novel he's been working on every since our first date really. We got into a conversation and... well discovered we both had a similar world story line mapped out in our heads and that it would be easy to make them be the same story from two points of view. We decided he'd write his bit first but what with me and illness and babies and floods and storms and roofs and so on it has only inched along with a little blast everytime we managed to have a holiday (which has not been every year).

So that is big achievement UNLOCKED :)

There was only 3 of us last night and that was fine and great :) I only popped the fact we were doing a mock tales evening up on Facebook on Sunday (I think), which lets face it - is not much warning!

Basically if you are a writer or would like to try and write that book which has been languishing in you, then you are welcome to join us.

Also money!

Ok so Al's new job pays less than the old, it shouldn't be a problem but... for the cost of one drink in the pub I produced:

2 Decadent Coffee Pots (photo above)

2 Raspberry Fizzes (pint glasses and complete with frozen raspberries)

1 Mint Lush

1 Vanilla Lush

1 Vanilla Coke

They tasted as good if not better than the ones in the pubs - to be fair I this only works out cheaper because I have big bulks syrups that I use for my coffees etc... but by amount used the most expensive thing was the silken tofu that I marinated with coffee. And the chocolate was a bonza reduced find which I was very lucky with but even so...

And don't worry these are not instead of Creativi Tea - and yes I know I should organise the Spring one :)

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