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Why Caitlin Moran should be the next Doctor Who

Forgive the recycling, but I’ll stand by this diatribe (oh and happy with Phoebe Waller-Bridge thanks)

Northern Likes

Caitlin Moran has blogged today about the Twitter walk-out she has proposed in response to the threats received by Criado-Perez and others is also on this Sunday. It’s a great article – I encourage you to read it.

In her article, Moran makes some persuasive comments about change, and resistance to it. I am now going to make an extremely tenuous literary leap that has nothing to do with the context in which Moran addressed this, and start talking about Doctor Who.

Change is a crucial aspect of Doctor Who (viz. the whole regeneration thing). Fans will know that the current incumbent of the role, Matt Smith, is due to leave at the end of the year. His replacement will be announced on Sunday at 7pm. I’d like to be cool, and pretend that this news doesn’t have me wild with excitement, but the reality is I’m an incorrigible geek…

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A Pox On Both Your Houses

There are times, occasionally, when I wistfully wish I didn’t have to work for a living. I don’t mean the idle, speculative lottery-winning fantasies (I have those far more often), but rather I think enviously of my mother, giving up her career as soon as she had my elder brother, and dedicating herself to the nurture and care of her home, her husband and her children for the next couple of decades.

Does she regret it? No, I honestly don’t think she does. I mean, for starters, she sent us all away to boarding school so it was a frigging picnic right but, also, she went back to work in her later years and then held a very respectable magesterial office (sp? magisterial? I mean she was a magistrate, not entirely sure why I couldn’t just say that) for some years which now allows her to hold forth in strident tones on all manner of subjects of which she has no actual knowledge, most particularly my pathetic attempts to combine a professional career with rearing a small lunatic. She and my father live very comfortably and take many holidays and generally enjoy a lifestyle that I couldn’t begin to aspire to despite both H and I holding down effectively full time jobs.

Far wiser people than me have said far wiser things on this subject of deep and divisive controversy but I think what I want to say but can’t be bothered to set out a properly reasoned argument for is this: out of my mother and I, who had more choice? who had more freedom? who was happier? And the answer is: I have no idea but I am slightly concerned by the direction of this ramble that I am turning into a right wing fundamentalist.

What I really want to say is that, whilst having the Nipper has in many ways made me more insanely and deliriously happy than I could ever imagine being, and whilst I love him from the top of his curly head right down to his frankly quite odd looking toes, and whilst I couldn’t live a day without him, I do feel that I have suffered from a post-natal crisis of confidence, in that I feel I am utterly shit both in my job and domestically. The domestic thing doesn’t really bother me, I’ve always been an utter slattern, and I don’t actually think I’m a terrible Mum, even when I’m feeding the Nipper cheerios with chocolate sauce just in the hope that he will actually eat something, but the incompetence is more striking now that there is a whole tiny human who needs looking after and, man, I have become so useless and indecisive and ineffective at work that sometimes I don’t even know why they pay me. And, more, a lot is talked about equality but very little is actually done. I work in an industry that sells services on a time-based model (no, I am not a prostitute, not in a literal sense). By virtue of being a working mother, I have less time than my male colleagues. Consequently, my male colleagues outstrip me unless I am prepared to put in extra time and work to overcompensate for my audacity in having a child, i.e. by working for free on my “non-working” day; being constantly on call at any hour, and constantly feeling guilty, guilty, guilty about everything. How am I equal to my male, childless peer, who gets into work at 7.30 a.m. five days a week and leaves at 5pm, but is always one step ahead? Or my male boss, who has children… and a stay at home wife. I am not, I cannot be, so why do we all insist on pretending that I am?

Maybe I’m just tired. I mean, I am really, really tired. And it’s not like oh I had a bad night last night and now I’m tired, it’s like I’ve had a bad night every night for the past 4 years if not longer and now I just feel about ninety and that’s why I like to sit in my armchair and drink red wine whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this is that the Nipper has chicken pox and I therefore find myself taking an expectedly week’s “holiday”, by which I mean I still have to do my work, because it’s nearly year end and god forbid I should have an actual break, but I have the privilege of doing it at night instead of the day and of using up my holiday allowance as well so as to tend for a very spotty and very grumpy small person.

Here’s what I planned to achieve:

  • Full day’s work before 8am
  • Revamping wardrobe
  • Manicure and deep conditioning treatment
  • Cooking healthy, nutritious light meals which Nipper will love
  • CRAFT FUN
  • Playing in the garden
  • Spring cleaning and decluttering entire house
  • Working on novel
  • Become an expert in Italian cookery and having 3 course meal on table for H every evening
  • Conquering Laundry Mountain
  • Generally being a domestic goddess and bonding with my son

Highlights of my first day as a “SAHM” have so far included:

  • Failing to wash or dress child or self
  • Trying to write a long and overdue report in 5 minute bursts, 4 minutes of which are spent trying to recall where I was up to
  • Trying to give illusion to work of being absolutely on top of my game (i.e. by replying to emails within 9 seconds, even if response is gobshite)
  • Cheerios and chocolate sauce for breakfast (see above)
  • Phonecall with boss re: important project whilst Nipper runs around naked waving aloft a potty shouting MUMMY I’VE DONE A BIG POO and dog walker chooses this moment to let self in and collect dogs who go mental
  • Allowing Nipper to get arm stuck in roll of kitchen roll (how? I mean how?)
  • Slicing 3 million grapes in half, of which Nipper consumes not one
  • Making an exquisitely decorated badge for Nipper (CRAFT FUN)
  • Watching Nipper throw said badge on floor in disgust
  • Turning Optimus Primal into a robot… into a dinosaur… into a robot…into a dinosaur…into a robot…
  • Starting to declutter wardrobe. Piling 85 garments on bed and then throwing them randomly into either bin bag or floor of wardrobe
  • TV
  • Unloaded and reloaded dishwasher (BOOM)
  • Doing online supermarket shop in about 3 minutes and ordering mostly wine
  • Greeting H with a badge that says DAD and telling him to make supper
  • Going upstairs to do work and instead writing this ramble

Sort of like a mini-maternity leave secondment, really. It made me quite nostalgic and quite keen to return to work at the earliest possibly opportunity

 

 

February Fun

So, obviously I’ve been away for a while, but as the murky fogs of post-IVF depression are starting to recede, H and I and the increasingly nippy Nipper have made it our mission to get out and about at the weekend instead of just loafing around drinking rioja and watching Netflix. (Fair dos, I am drinking a glass as we speak and watching Gilmore girls in the background but don’t judge me. Actually do, I deserve it.)

Anyroad, having had my eyelids prised open at the crack of dawn by the Nipper and tried to deflect the inevitability of having to get up by any means possible (Transformers, Power Rangers, Coco Pops, you name it), this morning we finally dusted off the walking boots, packed up the dogs, and piled into the car for a day of Peak District fun. Sorry, no photos as phone packed in, so use your imaginations.

First treat was a lovely drive past Mam Tor down Winnats Pass to Castleton (do a Google images search and you’ll see what I’m on about) to Speedwell Cavern, which we have passed many a time but have never braved. This was a peculiar but not unpleasant experience involving donning a hard hat, descending 106 steps with a slippery toddler down to an underground canal and boarding a boat which our dour but entertaining guide proceeded to navigate down a long waterway in a, let’s be frank, relatively confined tunnel, to a cavern, which we looked at, before resuming said boat, canal and 106 steps up with a slippery toddler, before removing said hard hat. Was it the most amazing experience of my life? Honestly, no. It was interesting though, heightened by the slight edge of claustrophobic panic, and the Nipper seemed to almost enjoy it, which is about as much as you can expect of three year old who’d rather be watching Fireman Sam.

Attempted to park up at Castleton; failed. It’s a nice town if you’re ever passing that way. Set off to Hathersage, which I also recommend, especially for its lido, but got distracted and ended up in Tideswell. I have literally no idea of the name of the pub we ate in, which is embarrassing, and I can’t work it out from t’internet, but it’s the big one next to the church with the car park. It was fine. Nice standard pub fare, very reasonable. Very jealous of Nipper’s child meal deal which included huge bowl of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce which he refused to share (and I intend to recreate at home this evening when he is asleep).

Had a mooch round Tideswell, and then an easy but very pleasant walk at Tideswell Dale. Lovely walk along a flat path next to a stream, perfect for Nipper to run along, and fairly quiet as well which is always a plus with a noisy child and two ill behaved dogs. Felt the sap rising and the land awakening momentarily, until Nipper insisted I engage in races for 90% of the walk. If you’re looking for a new fitness challenge, I heartily recommend having to trot like a horse whilst an insane toddler whips you with a branch and then insists you give him a shoulder ride all the way back to the car because he’s got a speck of mud on his shoe.

From Tideswell, to Brierlow Bar bookstore, apparently the largest independent bookstore in the country (and the highest – can this really be true?) where we spent a pleasant 33 seconds before the Nipper had an enormous tantrum and had to be removed. Purchased, in haste: book of Sudoku puzzles; book about coastal wild swimming; fuzzy felt; and the tale of Little Rabbit Foo Foo, which I do recommend you listen to on youtube if you would like to have an ear worm which will delight you night and day for weeks at a time until you lose your mind.

Detour via the shops and an unexpected road closure in Buxton, and then home for rioja and Netflix.

All in all, an enjoyable day. Next mission is to get camping again. With an inadequate tent, demanding 3 year old, ancient decrepit labrador, demented cocker spaniel puppy and no roof box, what could possibly go wrong?

 

 

onwards

Source: onwards

HPT hell

Source: HPT hell

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T day

Source: T day

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T-1

This.

Source: T-1

T-7

Source: T-7

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It was Capaldi

Six months is a long time in blogging, as nobody to my knowledge has ever said. What is new?

  • I’m back at work.
  • The Nipper has started nursery.
  • We bought a house. It has a dishwasher. This is without doubt the single most important thing to have happened to me ever bar my marriage and the birth of my child (and even then it’s close).
  • I have had approximately ten hours sleep in the past five days.
  • I did a juice fast. It lasted 8 hours. (It certainly was fast! Oh shut up).
  • I have a contact lens stuck behind my eyelid. This is I hope a temporary difficulty.

So anyway, now that I’m in Manchester at least less occasionally then I was during those carefree days of maternity leave (see already how I yearn for that time nostalgically, having already forgotten how I spent it almost exclusively wondering around the house in stained pyjamas shouting at things like a lunatic and eating toast) I obviously have grand plans for spending my lunch hours etc.  rediscovering the delights of my favourite city and thus resuming this blog and exploiting its full potential. Unless it’s raining. Which, let’s face it, it probably will be.

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Why Caitlin Moran should be the next Doctor Who

Caitlin Moran has blogged today about the Twitter walk-out she has proposed in response to the threats received by Criado-Perez and others is also on this Sunday. It’s a great article – I encourage you to read it.

In her article, Moran makes some persuasive comments about change, and resistance to it. I am now going to make an extremely tenuous literary leap that has nothing to do with the context in which Moran addressed this, and start talking about Doctor Who.

Change is a crucial aspect of Doctor Who (viz. the whole regeneration thing). Fans will know that the current incumbent of the role, Matt Smith, is due to leave at the end of the year. His replacement will be announced on Sunday at 7pm. I’d like to be cool, and pretend that this news doesn’t have me wild with excitement, but the reality is I’m an incorrigible geek, and therefore it does. In fact I have never experienced such frustration as when trying to breastfeed the Nipper whilst simultaneously surf the internet for snippets of potential leaks as to who the new Doctor might be.

I am actually sorry to see Matt Smith go. I liked him as the Doctor. I liked the sexual tension with Amy and Rory before they became his in-laws (weird); I enjoy his affectionate obsession with Clara Oswald; I like the occasional Tom Baker-esque moments he delivers; I loved the fish custard scene from his debut episode. However, I am nothing if not fickle, and I’m ready to get proper excited about his replacement.

Apparently the favourites for the role are: Peter Capaldi, Ben Daniels, Rory Kinnear, Daniel Rigby and Ben Wishaw. Capaldi is the favourite of favourites, which suits me fine, as I don’t really know who the others are (this is what comes of a TV diet solely consisting of Game of Thrones, Made in Chelsea and Masterchef). However, whilst I like Capaldi a lot, I can’t quite see him as the Doctor. I fear I will forever be waiting for him to slam a door and call someone a see you next tuesday in Malcolm Tucker-esque rage.

Amidst the placing of odds and speculation, there’s a lot of whinging about whether the next Doctor should be female, or black, and equally a lot of whinging about how if we had a female and/or black Doctor that would just be capitulating to the politically correct brigade (heaven forbid of course that a female and/or black actor might actually be good in the role). Matt Smith was asked here if there could be a female Doctor. In his response, he said:

Why not, if she’s the right actress for the part, if she’s the most inventive, if she can do courage and madness and all the things that you need to be a Doctor?”

Let’s skip the right actress part for the moment; yes, yes, I know Olivia Colman is the bookies’ favourite for a female Doctor, and brilliant she would no doubt be, as would Dame Helen Mirren, or Miranda Hart, or any of the other half-arsed suggestions of excellent female actresses. The fact is, for many people, myself included, the concept of a female Doctor feels uncomfortable, at least at first blush – but why? We expect the Doctor to be inventive, courageous and mad – why can’t a woman be all of those things, and more? Is it because there is an unspoken expectation that, because the Doctor adopts and is often accorded a position of authority and respect, we also expect him to be white, and male, and middle-class, just as he has been for the past five decades?

I am ashamed to say that I think the answer is yes. Whether I am right or not, I am guilty of that subconscious assumption. In some ways it’s inevitable. I come from a family where my father – white, middle class (and, for the avoidance of doubt, male) – had absolute authority, and my brothers’ sporting prowess was always to be preferred over any academic or creative success I might achieve. I also work in an industry where the majority of the positions of power and authority are filled by men; where women do occasionally get on, but in spite of themselves and their “encumbrances” (i.e. their gender, their families); where women will often act in a stereotypically male way in order to compete with the boys. And I am guilty of subscribing to these expectations, rather than pushing for change, and I hate it, not least because I don’t want the Nipper to grow up in a world where women are still told to get back in the kitchen (see glosswatch on this subject if you don’t believe that this still happens).

I do know, thank you, that Moran is not an actress and unlikely to be in the running. I am also aware, thank you, that Doctor Who is a fictional character (I say that scathingly – there is of course part of me that hopes he’s not) and therefore not too much weight should be given to his casting; it’s hardly a presidential election. But he is a cultural icon, and a hero, and he too is guilty (or his writers are) of perpetuating the stereotype of the male hero and the weaker female companion, however “kickass” the companions might be portrayed to be. The writers have a golden opportunity to ring the changes here. Why don’t they, and make the next Doctor a woman?

And I think that woman should be Caitlin Moran. Why? Because Moran isn’t afraid to be a woman. Her writing, particularly How to be a Woman, makes me realise that when I think I’m being a feminist, I’m often just trying to be a man. She kicks feminism right into the forefront of popular debate, where it should be; she does so in ways that are inventive, and courageous, and sometimes mad. She can be brutal, but she is also passionate, exuberant and above all funny. The Doctor is all of these things.

So Caitlin Moran for Doctor Who, I say. That would be a regeneration well worth watching.

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Things we didn’t do yesterday

Having decided that we would definitely Do Something yesterday to mitigate the onset of cabin fever, here is a (non-exclusive) list of some things we didn’t in fact do yesterday:

1. Walk the nature trails at Blaze Farm, aka the Ice Cream Farm. This was our primary objective for the day (the nature trials, not the ice cream – honest, guv). We loaded the Nipper and the Dog in the car and had what I am sure would have been a very scenic drive, but for the torrential rain and heavy mists, along the A54 from Buxton to Wildboarclough. However, despite the lure of the road signs (Ice cream farm! I mean, it’s an ICE CREAM FARM!), we were unmotivated to stop, given the weather, and did not. (This uncharacteristic resistance to ice cream may have been because I had just eaten a cheese sandwich). 

2. Camp at the Wild Boar Inn. This was in fairness never part of the plan, notwithstanding that torrential rain and heavy mists constitute the weather in which we most like to camp, if the law of averages is anything to go by. I don’t think H or I are realistically going to be brave enough to attempt camping until the Nipper is at least 2. However, I mention it as somewhere I have often fancied camping, owing to its promises of live music and food. On we drove. (It’s adult only anyway). (And we didn’t have a tent).

3. Visit Congleton. At this stage I fell into a delirious sleep, having been awake with the Nipper since about 2am. I am told we drove through Congleton. We did not stop. More than that I cannot say.

4. Visit Biddulph Grange Country Park. We then found ourselves parking up at Biddulph and preparing, in an ill-advised fashion, for a Country Walk. On with the boots and waterproofs, up with the buggy and its rain cover, and off we all went. After taking ten minutes to get the buggy through three gates, by which time we were all soaked to the skin, except the Nipper, who was empathetically shouting from within the rainproof confines of his travel system, we bailed out and went back to the car. I’m sure it would have been lovely.

At this point marital relations began to deteriorate,whether as a result of my bitter complaints about the weather, or H’s helpful response of “Thatcher”, or the fact we were stuck behind a flatbed trailer for half an hour travelling at 10 mph, and it was clear that the only rational thing to do, it now being some time since that cheese sandwich, was to drive back to Blaze Farm and eat ice cream (it’s an ICE CREAM farm, I tell you).

So we did. They didn’t take cards, so we ransacked the car for small change and had a slice of hot chocolate fudge cake with the ice cream that I think I may have mentioned. It was amazing.

Cake

Cake

 

End of cake

End of cake

 

Today is Yorkshire day, so we are going to drive to Sheffield to look at second hand cars and invariably get lost and end up in Rotherham. Hashtag greatbritishsummer, or something.

 

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