Monday, 29 July 2013

Cock Sparrer support Blackpool's vulnerable young people

It's summertime and as with every August, the excitement mounts as we get closer and closer to Rebellion. We've been cooking up something exciting for Sparrer fans this year and I wanted to tell you all about it.

The Rebellion punk festival is back at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, and this year festival headliners Cock Sparrer are helping raise money and awareness of local charity Streetlife.

This is the fourth time the band has headlined the festival and this year they decided that they wanted to give something back to the people of Blackpool. The band are raffling off the backdrop they will be using onstage to one lucky fan.

All proceeds raised will go to support Streetlife, a Blackpool charity which provides information, advice, support and counselling for vulnerable young people.

Singer Colin said, "We decided as a band that we wanted to do something to give back to the Blackpool community, and what better way than supporting an organisation like Streetlife who support those who need it most?"

"There are so many young people who find themselves in situations where they see no way out, whether it's issues with drugs, alcohol, mental health or homelessness. We're proud to be able to make a contribution to the work they do on behalf of our fans and the Rebellion community"

Come and find our stall in the Empress foyer to get your raffle tickets and chance to win!

- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

How to get a new wardrobe without spending a penny

This week I had another article published on the Huffington Post, all about how to get a new wardrobe for free and have a cracking afternoon into the process. The article plays down the sheer quantity of alcohol consumed during these afternoons. Check it out here and I'd love you to comment!

Friday, 19 July 2013

My everyday sexism experience at the House of Commons

When I lived in the UK I worked for a charity who held a function at the House of Commons each year attended by supporters and members. When I'm in the country, I try and support the organisation by attending. Plus it gives me a chance to catch up on any gossip from my former colleagues and drink wine on the Terrace.

This year, a friend and I were in conversation with two academics, both women about our age. We had discussed their research and their departments at both highly prestigious universities. My friend and I had explained our links to the organization and field, when the topic of conversation moved to gender responsiveness, and then to gender stereotypes.

(OK I confess, both of these issues were brought up by me - gender responsive ideologies and practices within the criminal legal system is something I have been working on for Justice Now, and my thesis was about gender stereotypes in election campaigns).

We started talking about a news story from that week, which had discussed prescribed gender characteristics in young children. In particular we were discussing environments in which women and girls are not encouraged to speak up.

One of the women we were talking to was literally in the process of describing she how difficult it sometimes is for a woman in academia to get their voice heard, when out of nowhere a man bursts into our conversation and asks her a question. As she was in mid-sentence at the time, it took her a moment to respond. The rest of us caught each other's eyes. The irony was not lost on us.

The man in question we'll call Professor X, which is by the by as he wasn't a Professor and I have a secret penchant for Patrick Stewart. He repeated his question, as if to imply that she hadn't heard him. It wasn't an interesting question, just about someone they both knew and had been speaking about in the entrance queue. He then started introducing a colleague he was with, at the same time asking our names.

When it got to me, I told him that I'd met him on a number of occasions before, having previously worked for the host organization. There was no way he was going to remember me this long after I'd worked with him and I genuinely didn't expect him to. He apologized for not recognizing me but made no effort to acknowledge that he'd hijacked our conversation. I announced that I needed a refill and we could carry on our conversation later, and asked the still aghast woman he'd interrupted if I could get her anything?

Making a hasty exit, the remaining three of us moved away and immediately turned to each other. None of us could quite believe the comedy timing of his interruption. None of us were surprised. This happens all the time and each of us had other personal and professional examples which we shared.

I've had people talk over me when I've been talking about football or baseball, as if my opinion isn't valid or I don't know what I'm talking about. I've also been talked over in strategy meetings and classrooms. A former colleague I was talking to about the situation later told me that her husband has had to intervene at PTA meetings when men have spoken over women. Ask a woman in your life and I bet she can tell you a story of it happening. I bet very few of them have such perfect ironic comedy timing as this one.

- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The terrible disappointment of the imaginary nacho hat

This is a story about why my first baseball game left me highly disappointed. When I fell in love with an American, I fell in love with baseball. When I moved to America, I accepted part and parcel that I would have to learn to understand unfamiliar sports. With gaining the love of my life, I gained an unconditional affiliation to the Red Sox. And being a West Ham fan by trade, I have very little problem with that. Plus we gained a claret and blue diehard in exchange. Happy Days.

I played rounders at school so I was pretty sure I'd be ok with the basics. Four bases, two teams, a bat, a ball and some fielding. With being a fan of any sport though, it's the nuanced understanding of the game and the culture that brings real pleasure. And I knew I wasn't going to get that at my first game. So I found something else to concentrate on.

A good number of people told me that the concessions stands at baseball stadiums were a smorgasbord of junk food. A new world of things deep fried and drizzled in other things awaited me. I'm not going to lie. This was mainly why I was so excited about going to see my first game.

I don't generally describe myself as a gullible person. I question the intended audience and agenda of what I read in the papers and see on tv. I know the difference between cartoons and real life. But I genuinely believed, thanks to the Simpsons, that at my first baseball game, I would at some point, be wearing a nacho hat.

Yes that's right ladies and germs, a nacho hat. As in a hat made of nacho, with the crown filled with fluorescent nacho cheese which was hotter than the sun. And as I'd seen Homer do, I'd break off a bit of the brim, dip it in the gooey goodness and slowly my hat would disappear into my stomach.

I didn't really think about the logistics before you all point out how ridiculous it would be to sit in a greasy corn-based head piece. I was focusing on the fact that the experience wasn't going to be like going to Upton Park. And I admit that I was blind in my desire for it to be an actual available baseball related snack.

The day arrived and decked out in blue and red, we went to the stadium to see the Red Sox play the Giants. People were right. The food was multitudinous and sublime. Mini helmets full of garlic fries, Cracker Jacks, hotdogs, all washed down with expensive beer. But despite my walking past all the stands twice, I still couldn't find a nacho hat.

I explained what I was looking for, with an earnest and excited look on my face. And it was one of those situations where until you articulate something out loud, you're not really sure of how silly it sounds. The expressions on the faces of my friends and family were exactly like you imagine. Shock, awe and hilarity. Like when a small child uses a word in a different context, making the sentence funny without even realising it.

I wasn't worried that I knew how daft I sounded, I'm fairly used to that by now, but I was genuinely disappointed. I had some garlic fries in a plastic bowl the shape of a helmet, but as it wasn't edible, it only went part of the way to ease the hurt. The Giants won the game and I became a life long Red Sox fan, getting used to seeing them lose. I haven't stopped searching for the nacho hat of my dreams, but for now I'll be content with a bag of peanuts and a lemonade.

- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.