How To Look Good At Forty And Overthrow Your Government

We all know, because we’ve been told, that 40 ish is a difficult time for the smart lady about town.  You are not young.  You are so definitely not young!  Ha ha, you said young like it might apply to you, you are RIDICULOUS.  But also, you are not old.  Not really.  These days, 50 is the new 40, so essentially 40 is the new 30 and you are both 40 and 30 and you have gone back in time to warn your 30 year old self about the wtf is about to happen sometime around 2016, because 40 is the new 12 Monkeys.  I mean, you are basically 20.  Times have changed.  Fiona Bruce is 53 and she barely has to think about her age as a TV presenter.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for women now – they get to present programs with old things, so that they can place a tiny piece of their soul into every ancient artefact that they touch on the Antiques Roadshow and Fake or Fortune, like a Horcrux, making their human form immortal.  Then they are allowed to remain on TV.

Anyway, anyone who has read women’s magazines recently or looked at the internet with their eyes will know that 40 is great and older women are fierce and powerful, and they should also worry a lot more because their husbands are probably going to leave them.  It will be ok though, because then they can go on to run their own ethical business wearing a capsule wardrobe made entirely from inspiration.    The aim is to undermine the mechanisms of an oppressive patriarchal capitalist state (women’s magazines are so feminist and intersectional now! Go girrrrrl!), but also to look young, but not like you are trying to look young.  Never forget that the aim is to look effortlessly chic.  EFFORTLESSLY.  For Christ’s sake don’t look like things require effort.

Luckily, I am here to help your confused old lady brain decipher the cryptic clues of media and advertising aimed at women, with my handy How To Look Good At Forty guide.  You are *welcome*.

Your FACE

Looking at your old face is the main way that you know you are getting old.  If you aren’t sure what getting old looks like, because there is only Helen Mirren and that doesn’t look like you, then you can handily refer to the Boots No.7 Seven Signs of Aging.  If you haven’t seen them, here they are:

  1. Looking older
  2. Looking older
  3. Looking older
  4. Not giving a shit about looking older
  5. Enjoying looking older
  6. Not noticing that you are looking older
  7. Overthrowing your corrupt and unjust government

Your face says a lot about you.  Sometimes it says that shit out loud, even though we’ve been told, over and over again, that evidence based opinions make us sound fat.  They also give you mouth wrinkles of the mouth.  It’s almost like we’re not even listening any more!  Heads up, everyone, here are some things that will age your face:

  1. The sun
  2. Pollution
  3. Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two
  4. Royal weddings
  5. Elon Musk

The beauty industry has so many products for the older woman, whose mind is literally unravelling at the prospect of no longer being able to seek validation based on her appearance, as she has been conditioned to do since childhood.  ‘Women are idiots!’ they think.  ‘They need help for their faces.’  So true.  But many items of make up are also unnecessary, so don’t get suckered into buying the latest fad like a thing that is called a serum that is made from crushed hopes and literally magic, you old ladies whose insecurities are manufactured over a lifetime and then mined for profit.  Women are idiots!  SO make sure you look good and buy the right stuff so men will know that you don’t give a shit about them.

Luckily, I have a go-to make up range for really making me look confident, almost as if I’ve lost weight.  Especially if I know I’m going to be photographed – even the most assured of us can feel nervous about appearing in front of the camera!  Or the judge!  It’s an organic range, called ‘camo paint’, and it works almost exactly like contouring.  Camo paint is very slimming.

NEVER rub your make up in, ladies.  Such a common mistake.  Sad!  Rubbing your make up in will cause you to rub off the woman suit you’ve been wearing and reveal the Many Breasted Bride Queen of the Underworld, Destroyer of Men underneath.  Pat your make up in.  With your fingertips – pat, pat, pat.  Sleep upside down, like a bat.  Do this, and your skin will carry on bouncing back, firmer, stronger, flexible – just like your career when you had to take 5 years off to be a mumtrepreneur.  Follow your dream, ladies!  During school hours!

All the same, a fair and impartial system has shown that women are not as good as men at being competitive in the workplace (science!), so some of us may not be earning quite so much.  Or anything at all!  So here is how to save money on make up:

  1. Imagine you are already wearing make up.
  2. Imagine your face looks nice. Imagine if we all did this.
  3. If sometimes you like to wear make up because you want to, you can also wear cheap make up that is pretty much the exact same thing as the very fucking expensive make up. You’d be amazed how many different brands are owned by the same people and made in the same factories, although they don’t really shout about it.    Be aware that every time you buy Chanel eyeshadow for your sad lady eyes at full price, somewhere a make-up industry executive sitting at a mahogany desk presses a button labelled ‘IDIOT WOMEN’ and is showered with cigars from a trap-door in the ceiling, which he lights with £50 notes.  YOUR £50 NOTES.  If you don’t like one of them, you can boycott their products.
  4. If you would like to wear make up because you want to and your skin colour is not something the rich and diverse beauty industry likes to associate itself with, you can go to mainstream shops where they have two foundation shades and some eyeshadow for you, or you can go elsewhere.
  5. Btw if you have children, remember that they are agents of the resistance for you to release at will onto the make up counter like winged fucking monkeys.

Your HAIR

Do you have a fringe?  A fringe is cute.  Maybe you are 22!  And likeable!  The internet has made it very clear that after a certain age, the key to good hair is hiding as much of your face as possible so nobody notices that the unceasing passage of time is bringing you ever closer to your last fuckable day.  Nobody needs to see a strong, independent woman who doesn’t give a shit about her hair.  Grow your fringe longer.  No, longer than that.  Entwine it with your burgeoning chin and nose hair to make your very own balaclava.  Warm, practical, useful for maintaining an ID defence during a police interview.  Nobody likes a lady who talks too much in her shrill lady voice!  So go no comment under the advice of your legal representative!  And remember, frown lines make you look unapproachable.  Frowning while facing down Nazis makes you look unapproachable.  Smile!

THE CASUAL WARDROBE

Everyone dreads the ‘smart casual’ event.  But we should all remind ourselves that anyone who objects to you attending a school event smoking a cigar and toting a machine gun is probably just as worried about their own outfit.  ‘I love it when a plan comes together’ you will say, reaching for another tombola ticket at the Christmas fair prize draw.  Anyway, here are my suggestions for a practical yet chic approach to those tricky day to night looks:

The Wetsuit

Commonly associated with the summer months frolicking in the warm, sunlit waters of the British coastline, many women file the wetsuit under ‘fuck this’ before they have even had the chance to go on a self-catering holiday and throw themselves into the pounding Atlantic surf in an attempt to drown out the sound of their children’s voices.  And this is a shame, especially if your days of grunting while trying to take your clothes off in public toilets are now just a distant, mostly consensual memory.   There is a well known fashion saying: women over 30 should never miss an opportunity to assume a deep squat in a public place, and of course, this still holds true.  But a wetsuit is so much more than just something you can do lunges in next to a body board you rented from a 23 year old white man called Jed.  It is also fashion’s one truly absorbent, year round wardrobe staple.  The original onesie, it is designed to retain both heat and liquid, meaning you can save on heating bills and bathroom breaks – freeing up valuable time for burning your laundry in the street and fomenting civil unrest.  Not only this, but it can form an empowering under-layer for the busy woman who has moved beyond underwired bras, to a higher plane. This is a plane she might at any moment parachute from into the ocean, like James Bond but younger than Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice.  Try wearing one for a day around the house.  Really, try it.  I promise you will feel amazing.  Recommended.

The Boiler Suit

Are you HANDY?  Can you FIX SHIT?  Do you work in MAINTENANCE?  Are the things that you maintain called ‘relationships with friends and family and the unending list of domestic tasks’?   Would you like to be treated as if all the emotional, mental and unpaid labour you do is tough and important and should be shared equally?  Well don’t worry ladies – the boiler suit is for you.  Cheap, tough, all over you and hard to get out of, this is the Tinder date of leisure wear.  And it’s usually the boiler suits for men that are most easily available, so just like gender stereotypes – one size really does fit all.

But don’t be deterred by having to roll up your trouser legs like you are trying to sneak your tits into a Masonic lodge* (and I mean literally in your trouser legs if you have breastfed anything, ever).  This is a wipe-down outfit with pockets. Buy 5 of these** and you have a complete wardrobe. Underneath could be anything you like – vest tops, sexy underwear, your pyjamas, a cute dress, your pyjamas.  The point is, you won’t have to think about anything apart from which boiler suit you are going to wear.  Because you’ve got one hand in your pocket, and the other one’s smashing the patriarchy with a hammer that you keep in your other pocket.

*I have done this.  It was not as exciting as it sounds.

**I would recommend a boiler suit from Dickies, but other brands are available.

WORK PLACE CHIC

If you dread having to find clothes that say both ‘take me seriously’ and ‘don’t worry, I like men’ but also ‘this will not harm the case for the prosecution if I am sexually assaulted’ then you might want to consider taking a job where there is a uniform.  I have been dressed as a clown since 2014 for this very reason, and the accountancy firm I work for have openly applauded my easy up do and roomy yet professional trousers.  Bright colours are very slimming.  Of course this isn’t an option for everyone.

Equally, if you are a person who has produced a human being from your own body, then we all know that what follows is a time for you to take a few months out for adventure and self-discovery, to adjust to this huge transition while your partner takes care of the kids.  Parenting can prompt a lot of anxiety about our own mortality and it’s common to express this by dicking off for long periods of time and maybe tackling a risky creative project we’ve always fancied.  Or maybe having sex with someone much younger.  And who would mention even once that we are parents and should shelve that for a bit like the men in our lives have?! NOONE, GUYS!  THIS IS *OUR* TIME!  Anyway, what we got up to in Papua New Guinea that time was definitely not idiotic or racist. Well done if you got rescued by helicopter from a place where plenty of people live all the time!  Welcome back.  But what to wear?  And how to wear it on your body??

Here are a few simple rules for hassle free work chic:

Ironing

So many ladies fret about ironing their beautiful work clothes, when really you can iron the hem of the stained maternity dress you are still wearing with hair straighteners – life hack!

You can iron out the ups and downs of your profound disappointment and exhaustion with rage supressing alcohol, hahaha gin for mummies is funny – life hack!

Upper arms

You know, we call them ‘Bat Wings’, which is a funny little joke between us girls because our arms are undead and will burst into flames upon exposure to sunlight.  Aged crone limbs need to be kept under wraps in the day guys, so we can release them at night to drink the blood of younger men, sapping their strength until we control the media.  Cosmopolitan magazine does not lie.

Knees

Who hasn’t put together a snappy little ensemble for a work Christmas party that says ‘Hey, I’m a young lady! Touch my knee!’ only to find innocent people who have wasted their time explaining things to you recoiling at the sight of your elderly knees.  This is not a safe time to be a man!  Because – that’s right – your knees were built on an ancient Viking burial site, and now the spirits of your ancestors won’t laugh at anyone’s informative anecdotes.  So what I’m saying is that if you really have to sit next to senior management at the annual office do, your wizened harlot spirit medium knees are always there if you need them, to ruin Jesus’ birthday with feminism from beyond the grave.

Accessories

Play with accessories.  Play. With. Them.  Go on a lunch date with them.  Overshare.  Block them.  You are a ghost.  You are the Merciless Lord of the Accessories.  Your accessories will scare other accessories with stories about you.  You eat small accessories.   Ladies! BE the accessory you want to see in the world.  An accessory to crimes relating to the criminal damage of advertising in public spaces.  CCTV black spots are very slimming.

Shapewear

How does she look so slim?  Well, don’t tell the chaps – shapewear is our little secret.  That and the fact that we control the moon with our back fat.  My motto is Live Fast, Die Young While Out Walking Alone, Leave A Desirable Chalk Outline For the Forensics Team.  Chalk is very slimming.

Hiding your belly

This is a problem area for many women, especially after having babies, or killing and eating the bodies of the men who have wronged them.  Many successful working mothers keep theirs in their handbag, along with an all-purpose packet of wet wipes and their prolapsed uterus.  Pro-tip.

Shoes

The centre piece of any outfit, many people will tell you that when it comes to shoes, less is more.  And I of course would reply that in fact it is fewer, not less.  I have been corrected on this point so many times that, let me tell you, it’s always a delight to hear it, however many shoes I have forcibly removed from the men who cannot stop correcting me and strung around my neck as trophies like I’m Colonel fucking Kurtz.

SHOPPING

Peg leg trousers.  Leather leggings.  Bandeau tops.  Are these for you?  Well, you’ll have read a lot recently about the powerful, strong older woman who can do anything she damn well likes, so the answer is very clear: Absolutely not.

As we have all understood it, shopping in actual shops is supposed to be a segregated affair, with younger women corralled in places with loud music and shop assistants dressed in ripped irony.  Anyone over saaayy, 40, is directed to dimly lit scandi affairs, where everything is soft to the touch and there is only the Radio 2 playlist and Vaseline on the mirrors, like the set from a Fifty Shades of Grey film but with pictures of Dame Judi Dench where you least expect them.  (Exactly like the set of Fifty Shades of Grey).

Ideally, of course, women would shop at home.  Online.  Separately.  They wouldn’t get out there and get together in large groups at all.  Much is done to deter women of different age groups from mingling in person.  In Topshop and Urban Outfitters, the blast of hot air from above the door as you enter is in fact designed to mimic the symptoms of the menopause so that older women leave immediately to protect their shrivelled ovaries.  Those who linger too long in the entrance, confused by reflective spandex, are ushered kindly but firmly out of the building and into the nearest White Stuff outlet store, where somebody picks out an A-line mid-length skirt with drawings of boats on it saying ‘This is for you now’.

But don’t be deterred.  You have a job to do.  Since the public spaces in which we used to gather are increasingly taken up by sort of, maybe, don’t tell anyone definitely private spaces (with handy shops in), then I guess this is just where we are going to have to talk about dismantling the structures of power.  If you do make it past security, then here are some tips to avoid detection and alert any women who haven’t noticed yet that they are putting up with a lot of bullshit.

Firstly, play it cool.  Blend in.  Put your head through random holes in clothing as if you are subversive and not confused.  Roam the band t-shirts IN SILENCE.  Saying things like  ‘Songs about being a Nice Guy are a bullshit part of rape culture’ will trigger the XX to play on the in store speakers, and then, as you are old enough to remember that this is the music that David Cameron listens to during sexy times, you will have only seconds left to live.

Some shop assistants will see you flailing, red faced among the obviously uncomfortable heels and, mistaking your outrage for confusion, pick out some shoes and say ‘these shoes are very slimming’.  It’s important to make sure you maintain eye contact while you eat the shoes.

On busy days, try on new things in front of the mirrors in the middle of the store because if they don’t provide enough changing rooms then you will literally show them your ass.  On quiet days, try on new things in the changing rooms.  The staff won’t bother you in there, because they know you have visible pubic hair and they are afraid.    Stand in the changing room Hall of Mirrors, dressed mostly in gold listening for low self-esteem like the poorly lit Louis XIV of Unsolicited Life Advice.

You don’t even have to lock the doors until the end of your lecture on feminism and consumer culture, your very presence is enough.  Do not underestimate the power of seeing someone out there who gives no fucks, especially women, especially about their body.   If you are over 40, you’ve got a head start on this bullshit.  We’ve got a lot of work to do, and in 10 years it’s going to be my daughters in those changing rooms so let’s get in there and set some fucking examples.  Try on new things.  Love yourself, forget your body.

If you think that you are not strong enough, that change can only be great gestures, millions of people on the march, then think again:  10 years ago I saw a woman in a camo bikini and a gold helmet driving a quad bike down a red dirt coast track.  I didn’t know her.  She didn’t see me.  She passed me, standing by the side of the road, sweating into my long sleeved top that covered up my imaginary flaws, and I looked at her for maybe 30 seconds before she turned the corner.  I do not remember whether her body was beach ready or if she was fat or thin or whether her thighs had cellulite.  I only remember that somehow, somehow I knew that she gave no fucks.  And for 10 years now, every day, I have tried in some small way to be that woman.  On the school run, wiping arses, dancing at children’s parties, running, walking into meetings, I am wearing a camo bikini and a gold helmet on the inside.  There is no shop that can sell that to you.  No t-shirt with strong words on it made by companies run by white men.  We can only give it to each other.

So guys, hang out with other women, especially those who are at a different stage in their life to you. Soak it up.  Find some hope.  For better clothes, a better future.   Young people are amazing.  Many under 25’s are ripping it up right now, because they are as angry as you are, and they don’t have a mortgage and two kids.  They are not the apathetic, dumbed down economic cannon fodder the government hopes they are.  There is an army out there of highly educated digital natives on zero hours contracts, with no pensions, no free health care ahead of them, no hope of owning property, who have realised that their parents and grandparents, for whom most things were free and the rest was cheap have gone ahead and pulled that ladder right up behind them.  Their future has been driven off a cliff by people who are about to die soon anyway and they have absolutely nothing to lose.

They are activists, organisers, protesters, voters.  At an age when I was checking neither my privilege nor my non-existent email at the university I attended virtually for free, people now are organising cultural movements on a massive scale.  They are targeting policy makers, campaigning, marching, fighting for their reproductive rights like it’s the goddamn Handmaid’s Tale, making films about activism, making documentaries, reporting on injustice, changing the set text in education, in the workplace, in fashion and consumer behaviour.  I have seen discussions online between 19 year olds that make most mainstream political commentators look like fucking schoolchildren.  That is, assuming schoolchildren aren’t as woke as they actually are right now.

Youth-quake, Corbynistas, whatever sneery term is applied to them by the increasingly nervous mainstream press, know this: you spent your twenties waiting for a seat at the table.  These guys are going to spend their twenties picking up that seat and using it to smash the fucking table up.   And you get to watch them, you get to watch their back.   It may not be your first time being angry, outraged, passionate or tired, but ladies, this is the first time in history that we’ve gotten close enough to see the whites of their eyes.  This is the first time that when other people say that they are not just sick and tired, they are hopeful, we get to say Me Too.  And we must, because hope is contagious. It changes things we haven’t even thought about yet. If you don’t see it, if you think that this is all going to blow over, then you are not paying attention.

Women – whatever your goddamn age, the body politic is your bodies.  Your face, your hair, your skin, your age, your voice, your height, your weight, your clothes, your uterus – this is what we talk about when we talk about power.  The media knows it, they’ve been dressing it up and selling it back to you for decades, and now more than ever, so do you.  You don’t need to buy power, ladies.  You already own it.  So go, tell your stories, listen to theirs, come find me in my boiler suit in the spandex aisle, wear whatever the fuck you like and join the revolution.

 

RADVENT DAY 11 WELCOME TO THE PARTY EDITION

It’s election eve! Whoop! Can you feel the magic? Have you left a glass of whisky and some mince pies out for the canvassers? Have you dressed up as Socialist philosopher Friedrich Engels and crept about the house leaving notes about the means of production in the children’s advent calendars? Are you hiding in the fridge? It’s not too late!

You might think that i would be tired of talking about the election by now, but actually all the hot take racist memes on the Facebook are making me feel very festive, by which I mean running around barefoot at the top of the Nakatomi Tower in a vest, smoking Marlborough reds. Welcome to the party, pal.

FREE

Plan your day tomorrow! Find your polling station and work out how to get there and when. The weather will probably be shit. Take a brolly. Take a friend. Take down the government.

https://action.labour.org.uk/page/content/polling-station-finder

SPARE CASH/TIME

Sponsor a canvasser! Help people get to marginal seats even if you can’t! Help out on the day by driving people to the polling booth, or offering to go with people on foot who might not make it otherwise. Vote early, vote with your heart. Vote.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/2664536117116159/?ref=share

SELF CARE

The only way to survive an election eve is to take off your shoes and your socks and walk around on a rug barefoot making fists with your toes. Also, don’t look at the Facebook. Sleep well!

RADVENT DAY 10 TAKE A BREAK FROM THE POLITICS – NOT REALLY THAT WAS A JOKE I’M STILL TELLING YOU TO VOTE THE TORIES OUT, I APOLOGISE FOR NOTHING EDITION

Hey I guess we all just need a break from thinking about what’s happening with the election right now so here’s a picture of an 80s festive jumper i just scored in a charity shop for £3.99 to wear ironically when global temperatures rise by 3 degrees. It’s a bit Partridge! I will say, and that will be extra ironic because East Anglia will be permanently under water. Ho Ho Ho. Please enjoy this break from politics thank you.

FREE

Stop buying shit you don’t need! Stop buying other people shit they don’t need! In this climate, that is a radical move. Next up: give away a whole heap of shit you don’t need! I don’t mean broken crap that you don’t want but reckon it’s good enough for the charity shop. That isn’t charity. I mean stuff that is clean, working and useful, just not to you. This year i’m giving away anything that doesn’t spark joy, which includes the 78 different recipe books I have been gifted over the years (wow! no), my least favourite child and the mental and physical load of clearing the house out every year just before Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you are in the shops, and you see someone moving towards the scented face cream section, just make SAS ‘retreat’ signals at them until they understand. Follow them into the jewellery section and prevent them from buying something with a heart on it by silently making a heart shape with your fingers and then slamming your fists against the glass cabinets until they put some actual thought into their gift buying. No guys. NO.

CASH TO SPARE

Buy your presents in charity shops. Get into town. Recycle, reuse, donate, shop local, all in one. That’s efficiency, that is. Try Oxfam online if you can’t get to the shops. Or buy a gift from the Choose Love site. There are many terrible things gathering pace at the moment, at home and abroad, and we need to see how they are connected. We are all connected and we all need to be fucking nice to each other – not passively, but urgently, and as an act of rebellion. Plus, get yourself a party dress off of oxfam, go on. You can wear it while stockpiling your cupboards with Blitz spirit and asthma meds for Brexit, and imagine you are a TV chef!

SELF CARE

It’s dark and freezing out, so as soon as you are at home wear all your brightest clothes, like all of them, and wrap yourself in actual lights and put some tunes on and rave it up in your kitchen while you make a hot beverage of your choice, HAVE IT LARGE, YOU WONT BE STOPPED

RADVENT DAY 9 BRITISH POETRY GOD BLESS THE QUEEN THEY ONLY HUNG ME THE RIGHT WAY UP YESTERDAY EDITION

You know what we all need in the week of an election? Apart from a buccaneer shirt and a large periwig in which to complete our descent into madness? That’s right – your first answer was correct – poetry, motherfuckers.

Britain has a long history of dissent, and radical poetry and song to go with it. We like to present ourselves to the world as polite, stiff upper lip types with a deep seated sense of fair play, which is why we are constitutionally bound to write the word ‘TWAT’ on anything featuring Johnny Mercer’s face. Under even the slightest pressure, we revert to our natural state of shouting ‘Bus Wanker’ out of car windows at our elected political representatives while cheerfully voting for the ones most likely to punch us in our actual faces.

We are in fact an anarchic, back seat of the bus bunch of arseholes with a particular set of skills, those skills being civil unrest, knob jokes, racism and naming boats, not necessarily in that order. It’s a double edged sword. On the one hand i see that we’ve decided to leave the European Union with all the dignity of a middle aged man who has taken his divorce badly, and is driving his Morgan into the Channel to fight the French AND the Germans while wrapped in a National Trust promotional banner and waving a cutlass. But on the other hand, i see Prince Andrew is in the news and the hashtag #nonceuponatime is immediately trending. The yin and the yang there.

ANYWAY, i digress. Poetry. Radical poetic acts for the day. Here you are:

FREE/SELF CARE

Go and immerse yourself in radical, fuck you and fuck this and laugh about that poetry. If poetry nights sound fancy, we have youtube now, fill your boots. Find a poetry night near you. Find poets whose experiences are different to yours. Whatever and wherever you are, find a new perspective. It doesn’t have to be British poetry, I’m just saying – radical poetry is big here and always has been. We don’t get taught this at school. Learn a poem off by heart – a free and radical act that makes you richer and noone poorer, apart from possibly my children who have heard one limerick about farts too many from me. I am learning, for Christmas Day delivery the most radical text of all – How The Grinch Stole Xmas. Recommended.

https://www.vanessakisuule.com/

http://johncooperclarke.com/poems/twat

CASH TO SPARE

You can support poets through the Poetry Foundation, or via their websites and on Patreon and in all kinds of initiatives. A couple below. Or just go along to a spoken word event and support the venue and the poets.

You can of course express your feelings on the current government in the traditional English way in the form of pithy poems on publicly available billboards around the country – just a thought.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/give

https://www.boatpoets.com/about

RADVENT DAY 8 I FELL ASLEEP AND FORGOT TO POST DAY 7 DICKENS EDITION

FREE/CASH TO SPARE/SELF CARE

There’s an election on!! Have you SEEEEEN??? Tis the season! The Conservatives have picked Christmas time for an election, because it plays to their core values – elaborate lies about old white men! Decreasing the surplus population! And of course, a perennial fave: pregnant women in temporary accommodation.

The best thing about an election really is that you get to enjoy the democratic processes and the rule of law that we fought a world war to protect, before everyone currently getting nostalgic about the ‘good old days’ votes to obliterate them in a way the Blitz never did. Because if there is one thing the British do better than anyone else, it’s irony. And also – genocide.

Anyway, never mind how you vote, what’s most important is that we respect each other’s opinions. I’m joking of course. So, if you came here looking for phrases like ‘agree to disagree’ then you need to pick another place, and a decade that isn’t only responsible for Dominic Raab as a credible political force, but also the recommissioning of Death in Paradise 9 ACTUAL TIMES, including the ones with that guy from the BT ads, as if we haven’t suffered enough. Anyway, buckle up, strap in, get your big girl pants on, or big pants at the very least and get out there because we need to get the Tories out or die trying. Find out how to vote tactically. Get in touch with your local campaign office, put up posters, man a stall, wear a sticker, share something online, drive people to the polling booth, all of this stuff is free if you have the time. You can canvass! You can travel to a marginal seat and canvass there! Tell people to Vote With Love:) Come to my marginal seat where there may be as few as 100 votes in it and stop me shouting ‘I SAID VOTE WITH LOVE, YOU SHITS’ and showing everyone my hostile environment. This is not a drill. I’m very tired, I haven’t slept more than 6 hours/night for the last 8 years and I have 73 things to organise before Christmas and working to prevent my childrens’ early death from a preventable disease because of lack of affordable health care is like, number THREE. God bless us, every one!

RADVENT DAY 6 NOT GOING OUT OUT EDITION

Booze. Boozey boozey booze booze. It’s gin o clock, ladies! It’s one for the wine mums! Hard week? Big meeting? Christmas shopping? Intersectional oppressions making everyone a bit ‘off’? Have a wine! A large wine! But not a spliff or a bottle of White Lightening, that’s for drug addicts. Anyway, don’t overthink it guys – the alcohol industry wants you to have FUN! Remember, the less uptight you are about the 67 to do lists scrolling down the side of your vision like The Terminator as you go about your daily life, the more attractive you are! Like a sexy Terminator! The kind of Terminator that has come from 200 years into the future to tell you that the only things that have survived the heat death of the planet are cockroaches, the Morecombe and Wise Xmas special with Angela Rippon and the gender pay gap. But in a bikini or something! And also – SHHHHHH.

Today is possibly peak work Christmas party day, so if you aren’t already out there with a paper hat on pulling crackers in a Cafe Rouge, then buckle up for your party season radical acts cos here they ARE

FREE/SELF CARE

If you want to feel the heady thrill of genuinely making people uncomfortable in a social setting with your radical behaviour, then don’t drink. If you aren’t going out (and i can’t recommend this enough) then have a cuppa and watch Gogglebox or read a book you fucking rebel. If you are, have a soft drink with someone who is also alcohol free. It’s a thing now. Some people even drink in moderation, it’s like we’re French or something. I know, I know that alcohol is just a fun and traditional part of Christmas, like domestic violence and suicide, so that means that not drinking is actually a real load of effort for those trying to avoid it. If you are going to a work do, you can help make sure there are loads of nice non-alcoholic drinks around. Maybe you could make mocktails! Maybe you could make molotov cocktails and incite civil unrest with Sarah from marketing! It’s just part of the magic of Christmas guys, i don’t make the rules.

CASH TO SPARE

Check out all the support available for people who want to manage their drinking and mental health better. Have a look. Slip them some cash. Maybe the cash you were going to spend on wiiinnnneee, everybody wins.

RADVENT DAY 5 GOING OUT OUT EDITION

I haven’t got long to write today – I’m going out in the actual bloody evening. On a school night. Normally, once I’m home and my bra comes off, it would take a genuine emergency to get me out of the house again. However. I bought tickets in the summer holidays, when I was off my face on Vitamin D and picnics, forgetting that by December I would be tucked up in a box in the attic with plenty of hay and a 6 month supply of Quality Street, like Mrs Rochester but way more into standing on rooftops in wedding dresses laughing maniacally. Anyway, i”m going out to see people i know and do things. At this point in the year, it feels radical.

FREE

We are supposed to be very divided at the moment. Well, I can tell you from spending most of my working life in community spaces, we ain’t. If you feel the same, then undertake a radical act, and talk to people you know. Pick up the phone, talk words at friends. If you are overdue a coffee with someone, make it happen. If you’ve got extra time and energy, pop round to a neighbour, see who is feeling low or happy and wants company. Many people experience intense loneliness at this time of year, especially if they lack money or mobility. Age UK runs a brilliant befriending service you can get involved with, and check your local council and voluntary sector websites, or the library for other things you can sign up to over christmas. I guarantee there will be a community cafe where you can get excellent Bakewell Tart with custard and a game of mah jong is all i’m saying. Go.

CASH TO SPARE

Find a project that supports your own community, and donate to it. Better still, find out how you can invest, and help them to grow. Or gather friends together, online or in person, to support someone you know is struggling. You will know someone, and if you don’t, find those who do.

You could also donate to the Samaritans, whose volunteers provide support on the phone to people who are suicidal all year round, 24 hours a day, and are an incredible service.

SELF CARE

Pay attention to who you are with when you feel like the best version of yourself, and spend time with those people. Break bread with your mates. Eat the food that nourishes you, and that can mean anything – Gregg’s pasty, a massive roast, a fruit salad, fill your boots guys. Eat, drink and be merry. Squeeze your marvellous people. Yes, i know it’s a school night just DO IT.

RADVENT DAY 4 WHY DON’T YOU JUST BE MORE ORGANISED EDITION!

Is there a lot to do this month? Well MaYbE yOu ShOuLd Be MoRe OrGaNiSeD ladies! Make a list!

Here’s mine for today:

Plan better in order to be on time. Make kids lunch boxes in advance! Life hack.

Feed evil cat

Make nourishing self care porridge breakfast. Maybe some seeds and so on!

Be relaxed

Don’t shout at kids when they put face paint on the cat and it eats my breakfast

Handmake Gordon the Goat outfit for nativity play instead of buying from Amazon

Respond to Google Hangout invite

Google ‘Google Hangout’

Maintain the will to live

Park in parking space, not in a bush

Don’t overtake horse boxes on the A46 in third gear wearing a beret with the windows down because the de-mister is broken, while eating a triple bounty bar for breakfast

8 hours of work.

Buy healthy food from local zero packaging shop

Carry porridge oats home in a coffee cup, 16 Happy Meal boxes out of your car, a pair of socks and your own actual hands

Next time, remember kilner jars, like you are French and have a pantry

Don’t buy dinner from an actual petrol station even if there is a surprisingly wide range of pizzas there

Buy exactly the right card for a colleague who is moving to Spain but might be pro Brexit you can’t remember

Buy thoughtful Christmas presents made by local artisans who live in huts with white painted floorboards and are only visible to the human eye as the Instagram filter ‘Maven’

Pick up kids 10 minutes late. Don’t shout at kids

Text neighbour apology about evil cat

Send supportive email to friend

Send supportive facebook message to someone you are not sure you actually know but they went to that yoga class you tried out once and they are really going through some tough stuff with their divorce right now

Don’t shout at kids for eating only cheerios and face paint

Save planet from heat death

Overthrow government

Drink enough water

Be relaxed

Wrap all handmade gifts in cloth not paper this year that will be definitely a William Morris print or some shit like that that you have painstakingly sourced from 6 different local shops

Apologise to kids for shouting

Apologise for kids

Apologise to everyone

Go to bed, late

Google ‘Latest election polls’

Google ‘Crypto-fascism’

Maintain will to live

Remember, too late, to make snack pots in advance

Buy child’s goat outfit off Amazon

Be relaxed.

FREE RADICAL ACT

Don’t do anything at all that you don’t have to do. Not one thing. Sip your motherfucking tea.

IF YOU HAVE CASH TO SPARE

Buy the shit you need. Don’t make it. If you like making stuff because that’s your groove, buy things for someone else that doesn’t have the time or money for that shit.

SELF CARE

Make a list. Colour code it. Burn the list. Daub your face with the ashes of your mental fetters. Stand naked reciting the list to the distant, milky sun while eating a triple Bounty Bar. Log in to that Google Hangout. Enjoy your meeting with the finance team! You’ve GOT THIS.

RADVENT DAY 3 HOPE AND ACTION AND GOOD THINGS EDITION

FREE

It might feel like there isn’t a lot to feel hopeful about at the moment. It is, of course, hard to say why. Maybe it’s the long, dark nights, maybe it’s because Poldark has finished but the good Christmas TV hasn’t started yet or maybe it’s because the country is being run by the Slytherin Second XI. WHO CAN SAY.

Whatever the reason, to hope right now is a radical act. I don’t mean a general sense of optimism that everything is going to be OK. I mean hope as a feeling that it’s worth doing something, and all is not lost. Hope is contagious, it has consequences we don’t know about yet, and above all, it’s free. FInd the things that give you hope, and share them. Here’s a video that has been watched many, many times around the world. One of the people in it has written a book about big, hopeful ideas like everyone having enough money to live on, and it’s in the library, so read it before your library closes. Anyway, this video gives me hope about speaking truth to power, and the things it can do. Yes, even if they won’t let me into soft play without buying their expensive branded socks THEY CANNOT OPPRESS ME AND I WON’T BE TOLD.

IF YOU HAVE CASH TO SPARE

There are quite a lot of cash strapped essential services that need support at the moment *gestures vaguely at everything* but to pick one at random, the number of children living in temporary accommodation in the UK has risen by 51% in the last 5 years to 135,000. So if you aren’t keen on a record number of children spending christmas day in a sub-standard b&b, or a damp room above a boarded up pub, sometimes hundreds of miles from their schools and home towns, then you might want to do something. Maybe voting!

But also, you can donate to Nightstop, an organisation that supports young people in crisis around the country through community hosting. You could look into becoming a host yourself. Or you can give to Shelter, who provide an incredible advice and support service to homeless families around the UK. Or contact your local council’s housing team directly to find out more about how they support families facing homelessness, and how you can help. Many have a welfare support fund to pay for essential items during these periods. Many, recently, do not.

SELF CARE

Watch Flirty Dancing. Feast your eyes on hope and love and joy. Seriously. Binge on it. You will cry happy tears. I did, and I have a cold, frozen heart and i never cry at anything. You are welcome.

RADVENT DAY 2: KIDS EDITION

FOR FREE

In the last financial year the Trussell Trust saw a 19% rise in the use of their food banks across the UK. 1.6 million emergency food parcels were given out. 500,000 of those were given to children. Tonight, C4 launches a Dispatches programme about children living in poverty in the UK. Have a watch before you vote next week. Tell other people to watch it too. Have a look at the ways in which the Trussell Trust campaign to reduce food poverty in the UK, and get involved. You can volunteer at your local food bank – they are extremely busy at Christmas and often need extra hands for collections and distributing emergency parcels.

I’m going to point vigorously at the campaign to end the 5 week wait for Universal Credit payments. If you want to talk more about this, message me because dealing with the insecurities in people’s lives caused by Universal Credit is literally my job and i will shout about it AT ALL TIMES please invite me to parties i’m a hoot.

IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO SPARE

If you want to help the children featured in this C4 film, you can go to https://aletheiafoundation.org.uk/

If you want to help a food bank, check the Trussell Trust website for your nearest one. Ask what things are in short supply, or check their social media for the latest priorities. I know razors and toiletries are often overlooked. Maybe steer clear of baked beans and chopped tomatoes. Also they have an attached organisation that looks for toys and children’s clothes donations.

While donations peak just before Christmas, they will still need your help in January, so if you can, set aside something from your big xmas shop for donating over the weeks ahead, or slip them a cash donation to kick off your New Year.

SELF CARE

It’s hard to avoid the headlines at the moment. Maybe you should give yourself a break. Take a stroll down to a local supermarket that’s popular with the older consumer, head to the newspaper aisle and find the Daily Mail section. Do you see it? Well not any more, because you have methodically covered all of them with copies of The Beano and The fucking Independent. Or maybe you have just gently placed them all on the floor under the shelves, where hate speech should be found! Do you feel better? Yes, you do. I hope everyone enjoys getting their little green coins and free cup of coffee now.

Radvent 2019 DAY 1 SHOPPING EDITION

RIGHT. Buckle up everyone because it’s *RADVENT*, that magical time of the year where i try to post 3 radical things a day until Christmas day or whenever i hit 26 things on my to do list or the point at which i start smoking cigars and wearing a pineapple as a hat in the car park at Asda, whichever comes first. Obviously, I’m already late and knackered. Anyway, one thing will be for free, one will be if you have some money to spare, and one is about looking after yourself. OK. Here we go, here we fucking go.

DAY ONE

FOR FREE

It’s Black Friday weekend, and for those who enjoy a 45 minute queue for new age fun with a vintage feel, late stage capitalism is a *delight*. Maybe by vintage, shops designed for women actually mean ‘the Stasi’ because that’s who designed the cubicle lighting in Toast at Swindon Retail Outlet. Just so you know. They will ask you for your papers. Maybe you’ll be deported! It’s very 2019.

Anyway, not doing any of that is a radical act. Maybe you’ve been told that we need to prop up the economy by spending a shit tonne in Anthropologie, but you only experienced the existential pain of realising that the floor length yellow velvet dress you thought would make you look like a fourteenth century French queen inexplicably attending an office festive brunch was actually made ONLY for Tilda Swinton and you are not, and i cannot stress this enough, Tilda Swinton. No need for this. No need.

IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO SPARE

Dick off Amazon and get shopping ethically. I know, i know, there’s no such thing as ethical consumption, but not actively promoting a company that abuses it’s employees and works best in a hyper-consumerist and unsustainable environment is a good start. If you can afford to. Some of the time. Birdsong is good! Check them out. There are loads more. Use the world wide web via your smartphone containing cobalt mined by children in the DRC lol try and escape complex inequality in a post industrial landscape you can’t. Merry Christmas!

SELF CARE

Baby it’s cold out there. So don’t go out and have to listen to dubious Christmas music about dudes that don’t let you leave their house. Stay in with a bunch of small children that take 3 hours minimum to leave the house. You will spend exactly no pounds, so you can sit back and imagine you are a large multi-national evading corporation tax. Maybe find yourself a swivel chair and dress entirely as Tilda Swindon and stand masterfully at windows while shouting ‘I OWN THIS TOWN’ at the cat. Me time.