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 24 CHRISTMAS EVE LIFE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THE MOVIE DIE HARD EDITION

Look, a while ago (day 15? 1992? The twentieth century? Time no longer has any meaning for me) I mentioned Die Hard, and this made me watch Die Hard for the first time in about 15 years, and I’m going to use today’s *final* Radvent of 2019 as a spurious reason to chat shit about it. This is like those school assemblies I had where the vicar spoke about his dispute with his neighbour over the wheelie bin for 10 minutes and then segued seamlessly into the Parable of the Talents, thank you for your time.

Stereotypes Are Bullshit

First of all, what you need to understand about Die Hard is that it is about 7-10 hair care professionals who need to steal 65 million dollars from a company called the Nakatomi company, which has 3 computers and a security guard and a surprising amount of fake rocks in it’s breakout meeting space. Imagine Guns and Roses, but they need money for deep conditioning treatments and a solid trim every 6 to 12 weeks and they shoot to kill. Are you imagining it? Good, now imagine they are in a lift and wearing suits and Alan Rickman is in charge. This is so amazing you will forget that Bruce Willis turned up at the airport 20 minutes ago, smoking and carrying an actual gun at the luggage carousel and he is *not the bad guy*.

You Are At Least As Competent As This Mediocre White Man

In case you ever have a bad case of imposter syndrome, please remember that in this film

Bruce Willis is a highly trained police officer tackling a complex hostage situation, who discovers that the bad guys are called Hans and Karl and then literally has to write ‘Hans’ and ‘Karl’ on his arm in case he forgets.

Believe in yourself!

That guy Ellis in Die Hard looks like he’s having a good time, being an arsehole and taking cocaine at this terrible fake rock company. He’s got a nice aged Brie lined up! He believes in himself! Believe in yourself like Ellis, who decides to stroll in and negotiate with homicidal, Forbes magazine reading, impeccably dressed Alan Rickman. Controversial opinion here, but Team Ellis.

Disclaimer: It does not end well for Ellis.

It works better if you imagine Ellis is negotiating with every woman you have ever known and they all have semi automatic rifles.

Tbf the whole film works better like this.

I won’t go on, but Alan Rickman.

Lean In!

Holly Gennaro leaves her heavily armed husband bc she’s a feminist and it totally pays off because she’s the Vice President of the fake rock company now! The VICE president! All she has to do for that final promotion is endure some sexual harassment from Ellis and wait until her boss is literally shot dead by a pseudo terrorist! They let Holly be the Actual Lady Boss for 24 hours during a corporate crisis. This is so forward thinking! I’m excited.

Find Someone Who Looks At You Like Al Looks At John McClane.

This whole film is a love story between John McClane and an LAPD cop called Al who was out buying Twinkies for his pregnant wife until international thievery brought them together. They support each other. They have a deep connection. They know a lot about the nutritional value of Twinkies. They help each other through emotional lows. They always respond to each other’s walkie talkie call outs no matter what the FBI say. Accept nothing less

Perspective Is Key

Die Hard may be a nuanced and sharp musing on masculinity, capitalism and the American class system disguised as an action film and homage to the Western, but it also has a couple of scenes with tits in, just because.

If I made this film it would just be Al’s pregnant wife wondering where the hell her Twinkies are alllll niggghhhht. The Twinkies, Al. Fucksake.

If someone else made this film it would just be Pauline the Early Years Professional wondering why Holly Gennaro, boss and white feminist lady, doesn’t pay her more, or actually say goodbye when she hangs up the phone, or what her working hours technically are as she seems to be there all night. Intersectional, my ass, Holly.

Always Wear A Vest

Always Ride Up Front In A Limo

Always carry pens in your bag, in case you have to write ‘Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho’ on the sweater of the dude you just killed in hand to hand combat. Maybe a fabric pen? Maybe practice writing the ‘o’s’ on sweater fabric, it’s hard.

You Are Never Too Small To Make A Difference

Doesn’t matter how big, well planned or oppressive something is, one person can disrupt it, even without their shoes on. All you need is confidence, some pens, and a bag full of detonators.

Have A Day Off Mate

Do you think John McClane emerged, blood stained and triumphant from the Nakatomi Tower and immediately wondered if he had enough aged Brie for Christmas Day? Reader, he did not. He literally has Pauline and also Holly to worry about that shit. So put your slippers on, plan an elaborate heist, demand the police deliver a helicopter to take you to an undisclosed private airport, think about Alan Rickman and enjoy your day. Merry Christmas! Over and OUT xxxxx

RADVENT DAY 308 OF CHRISTMAS TIMEZ HERE ARE SOME PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO INSTEAD OF YOUR INNER MONOLOGUE EDITION

Enrich your views without leaving your spot next to the Christmas Nibbles buffet! Widen your horizons without leaving the fancy chocolate selection box unattended! Unpack your privilege like a 3 ft Amazon delivery containing a novelty garlic press! Learn stuff without saying *anything* to the people telling you things about their lived experience, every day is a school day, guys. Here is a random, late night, recommended by me and by people I happen to know, small list. There are *millions more*. You can find them on the worldwide web or just lurk about on the twitter dot com and learn from people who walk through the world a little differently to you, but, you know, quietly. Take that knowledge and pass it on to the space you already occupy. Change that space. Yes, I am talking about the Christmas Nibbles buffet. GOOD LUCK

FREE

https://guiltyfeminist.com/

https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/bang

https://www.theguardian.com/society/audio/2017/apr/12/the-why-do-you-walk-like-that-episode-token-podcast

Seeing White

https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/hekakanoahau

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/?t=1577124794657

https://www.aboutracepodcast.com/

Yo, Is This Racist?

http://www.guidetoallyship.com/#the-work-of-allyship

SELF CARE

Wear headphones. No, bigger headphones than that. Bigger. BIGGEERRRR. Deploy White Noise. Enjoy the Christmas Nibbles.

RADVENT DAY 22 ABSOLUTELY SHITTING IT ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE EDITION

You may have spotted that Day 21 of Radvent failed to materialise, and this is because my daughter and I were visited by the Very Festive Diarrhoea And Fever Elf, while packing the car up for driving home for Christmas. Chris Rea did in fact sing about this, in his difficult follow up album, but it doesn’t receive a lot of airtime tbh.

But that isn’t going to stop me, on Day 22 and probably a bit too late and therefore in keeping with everything trying to stop climate change, from talking about trying to stop climate change.

Because nothing says Christmas more than wrapping up ethically sourced gifts by a roaring fire, except when that fire is in Australia and has to date burned over 3m hectares of land in unprecedented December temperatures, which is a hard number of hectares for me to imagine over here in Northern Europe, so I’m just imagining Wales, and then a bit more Wales, but all of it on fire.

Now, I don’t want to make anyone shit themselves, because in the last 24 hours I have done enough of that for everyone, but the effects of climate change are happening now, in real time, and they are just beginning. My children’s lives will be shaped by it. They may be shortened by it. Their children, if they have them, will have lives far harder than mine. And either we collectively realise this in time, or we don’t. Anyway, this is really getting me in the mood for a Baileys and a re-run of Gavin and Stacey, BUT one radical thing we can do, literally in the next 48 hours, is first of all not to despair. It might not feel like buying beeswax wraps and getting our veg without plastic wrapping is going to transform the global industrial complex, but just by doing whatever we can, whenever we can, we show that we hope, we are together, and we make change. And that’s all we can do.

FREE/CASH TO SPARE

This year, there has been more information than ever about working to have a greener Christmas, and I can’t possibly summarise them, or even list them all here. However, here are some good places to start. Many happen to also be good ways to save money and stop your house filling with a tidal wave of crap that you have to spend time clearing out later. Like getting gifts from charity shops and buying vouchers and using plain wrapping paper made fancy with string and cinnamon sticks with dried oranges tied onto it, you know the kind of Pinterest stuff I’m talking about. You can also wrap up presents in scraps of material, bc pls believe this takes about 20 seconds per gift and means you can say that the cardigan you got in Sue Ryder is in fact fancy ‘vintage’ knitwear <chefs kiss> and then post pictures of this on the internet rather than the roller skates you panic bought off Amazon.

A lot of the stuff you can do that is going to help prevent a Mad Max future, or at the very least a future that doesn’t feature Mel Gibson, costs either time, or money, or both. If you don’t have either of these things, and shopping local and plastic free involves giving up your only day off, twice as much cash and your will to live at the nearest farmers market, then ignore all of that. Get online, campaign, support action in any way you can and know that you may not have bought a homemade shampoo bar, but you also haven’t flown to Europe for a mini break this year. If you DO have cash and time, then go at it on the shampoo bars, guys, and also the dismantling of capitalism by practicing a radical and ongoing analysis of your privilege. In my opinion that’s festive af 💪

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/lifestyle/21-ecofriendly-christmas-tips?amp

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/16/dreaming-of-a-green-christmas-heres-how-to-make-it-come-true

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49756280

#plasticfreeadvent

SELF CARE

Distract yourself from the heat death of the planet with this video of the best intro to any episode of anything I can think of. I just really needed to share this. ENJOY.

RADVENT DAY 20 OMG ITS THE HOLIDAYS ACTUALLY EDITION

Since 7pm I’ve been eating curry and giving everyone in the house with a chest infection calpol and and watching Christmas telly. I only have one tradition for the start of the holidays, and it is to generally have an evening off, and to read this while simultaneously drinking whisky and watching literally any other film with Alan Rickman in it. I really can’t recommend it enough. Enjoy 🎄

https://jezebel.com/i-rewatched-love-actually-and-am-here-to-ruin-it-for-al-1485136388

RADVENT DAY 19 PLURALITY IS ACTUALLY PRETTY HARD TO PRONOUNCE EDITION

This month, my lifestyle choices have included deadlines, family meals of crackers and pizza purchased from petrol stations, a second hand Ford C max held together with masking tape, and a selection of berets ranging from red (angry) to green (SAS) – as a result I am rarely challenged when overtaking horseboxes on the A46.

Another consequence is that I have bought myself a coffee bean grinder, I grind my own beans now, that’s just *who I am*. Anyway, as is traditional (since 2018), by this point in December my late night radvent posts increasingly have the feel of being poorly thought through and hastily patched together by a wild eyed lunatic on the road to oblivion, which is a lie peddled by the mainstream press – it’s Thursday so I am in fact mostly on the road to Nailsworth via Minchinhampton.

I have invested in more heavy duty concealer up to cover up the dark circles of exhaustion as i juggle gift buying and support work and homemade cards from the kids and plans for a post oil future – and you know how else you can conceal things? Having 3 companies owning 83% of the national newspaper circulation that’s right I’m talking MEDIA PLURALITY, guys. I’m sorry if you came here looking for cute tips about beeswax wraps, this is Radvent, I am 83% caffeine and economy bourbon biscuits, also there will be something about beeswax wraps soon k thx bye

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Things are a bit Orwellian right now, and there is nothing more radical than checking your facts. Check other people’s facts. Check the back of your trousers before you leave the house, it’s hard to explain convincingly that you have small children and that is definitely toothpaste OK. Here is some bedtime reading:

Media pluralism

CASH TO SPARE

Donate to these guys, and have a good look even if you don’t.

https://fullfact.org/about/

SELF CARE

I know it’s the middle of winter, but even so, never look directly at The Sun

RADVENT DAY 18 THE MIXTAPE EDITION

FREE/CASH TO SPARE

Nothing says 1 week until Christmas like a half arsed blog post squeezed into a 16 hour working day with a late bedtime for the kids and only parsnips and salad cream in the fridge. Good loooord it’s hump day, and please be assured this is not as exciting as it sounds. Have a look at the millions of brilliant ideas for a hope-filled, radical and ethical Christmas that have been collated by other people, which I have now collated for you here. I’m eating half a fruit cake for dinner with the electric blanket on, and I’ve gone meta. READ ON

https://www.theguardian.com/society/shortcuts/2019/dec/13/dont-despair-a-practical-guide-to-making-a-difference-from-food-banks-to-fighting-fake-news

After The Election: How To Do Something When Everything Feels Pointless And Awful

https://www.theguardian.com/a-different-christmas/2019/nov/27/give-joy-without-the-junk-and-prepare-poems-for-loved-ones-christmas-morning-reimagined

SELF CARE

Playlist yourself. Think of all the music that evokes very particular times and places that you loved, list them and make them into one lovely, nostalgia filled soundtrack to your evening. Pass them on to your kids, who will absolutely not care about how On A Ragga Tip makes you remember that time you went youth hostelling in 1992.

Personally, I have a playlist on my phone called Desert Island Discs, but there are more than 8 tracks and my luxury item is a full night’s goddamn sleep.

I also have a playlist featuring Sucker by The Jonas Brothers, and that one is called ‘Disposing of a Body’ and while I can heartily recommend this as an act of self care, let the record state that I’m writing about this in a piece of fiction and this is genuinely the soundtrack, please don’t call the police. Anyway, Day 18, DONE. Enjoy!

RADVENT DAY 17 GET INTO CHRISTMAS EDITION

No need to fall out with friends and family at Christmas! Respond radically to difficult discussions about politics this holiday with love, by smiling and nodding, and also by faking your own death mid conversation.

Beginners will need the ability to lie very still for up to an hour at a time, with a glazed, desperate expression. Practice in advance with a box set of Dad’s Army. Those progressing to Advanced Level Family Christmas will need a false wall in one of the bedrooms, a one way ticket to Brazil, and a canoe.

Top tips here:

You know what would add to a discussion about immigration over Christmas pudding? That’s right – your dramatic fake death by face planting into a bowl of custard. No need to suggest that 10 years of aggressive cuts to the NHS might actually be why there are long waiting lists! Lie on the floor with custard on your face, just like Socrates.

Someone has brought a vegan casserole to Aunty Sheryl’s Jingle All The Way bring and share party, and is getting a lot of side eye for not eating meat. What better way to gently inform everyone about the impact of climate change on insect populations, than by lying down on your back, your limbs tucked in close to your torso, your eyes squeezed shut, until everyone walks awkwardly out of the room. That is the Daniel Day Lewis method right here, well done. Now you can get up and polish off the pigs in blankets. To the victor the spoils.

Someone just used a Latin term to sound like they know what they are talking about. Quietly pretend to clasp an asp to your own neck and die from self-inflicted poisoning rather than continue this discussion about the Supreme Court. Festive fact: Mens Rea actually means getting your period while listening to Chris Rea. Carpe diem, ladies!

Climb into a box with a cat and a flask of poison during a discussion about men’s rights. Et voila! You are simultaneously both alive AND dead, just like every time you hear somebody describe Jordan Peterson as a ‘philosopher’.

Your grandad is on his third glass of sherry and is quoting ‘Allo ‘Allo while he circles things in the Radio Times. Listen very carefully – I will say this only once: put sunglasses and a beret on and hide in a cupboard.

Uncle Bill says he doesn’t want same sex couples on Strictly Come Dancing. Ballroom dancing is the last bastion of heterosexuality, guys. Respond by just silently holding up a score of 1 from the other side of the sofa, or thinking about Ed Balls dancing to Gangnam Style until you are literally dead, your choice.

Someone has started a sentence with the words ‘in actual fact’, and now your soul has left your body. Put a sheet over your head. Respond to comments with low groans. Float terrifyingly over the roast potatoes. Manifest as a mysterious blood stain in the drawing room every other thursday. Walk backwards out of the room saying ‘weeeelllllll, accctuuualllllyyyyyyy’ like a mansplaining Marley’s ghost. Merry Christmas!

RADVENT DAY 16 DISABILITY RIGHTS EDITION

Disabled people are some of the most affected by austerity, which has been to blame for more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012. But don’t listen to me – an angry able bodied woman in her pyjamas and a boiler suit at 3pm, who works with an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of disabled people experiencing hardship thanks to the cuts to their daily care, or the Institute for Public Policy Research, or the UN Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which found there had been ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights since the changes to the welfare system were introduced. Instead, you can listen to comedian Francesca Martinez knocking it out of the park on Newsnight.

Here are some things you can do to support disabled people in your community and nationwide.

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1. Join Disabled People Against Cuts, either on their website or on facebook, and find out more about how to help. There are both local and national ways to assist.

2. Check out the Disability News Service and Disability Rights UK.

3. Check if there any groups locally that provide support to disabled people.

4. Check in with people you know who have mobility issues, and see if they need help with transport or anything else.

CASH TO SPARE

You can donate to any of the groups listed here. And, i cannot stress this enough, you can donate to the Disability Law Service. They rely on donations to provide free legal advice to disabled people and their carers, on the phone and by email. I have used them, they are amazing, there is SO LITTLE free legal advice now, it’s all been cut. However much free legal aid and advice you think there is, halve it. Halve it again. Fold it up. Scrunch it into a tiny ball. Throw it out of a window. This is still more than there actually is. And it’s worth noting that the only time the government acts responsibly and fairly is when it is forced to by the courts. One reason among many why this administration aims to restrict their powers, and access to information about your rights. Read the DLS case studies on their website and *please* give if you can.

SELF CARE

Don’t write out your Christmas cards – don’t even feel bad for not writing out your Christmas Cards – SEND E CARDS AND DONATE THE MONEY YOU WOULD SPEND ON CARDS. It’s a master stroke of passive aggression when dealing with unpleasant relatives, and it’s better for the environment too, you are WINNING

RADVENT DAY 15 WHOOP WHOOP SOUND OF THE TONE POLICE EDITION

The election is over, so I have taken time to reflect on my initial feelings, and get some sleep. By reflect, of course, I mean stand naked in front of the mirror reciting the Ancient Mariner in the voice of David Bowie. And by sleep I mean 14 hours in a bunker war room with a lit cigarette dangling from my lower lip, drawing arrows at pictures of Owen Jones and jabbing my finger at a map of Finland. Like everybody, this is how I behave under stress.

And like everybody, my knee jerk response was simply to accuse all the financially comfortable people who voted for this undeniably and openly racist government of being racist. But since then I have heard many nice people and also Piers Morgan saying that it’s very divisive to just say that people are racist. And it’s important that we listen to this, because basically everyone saying it has no lived experience of poverty or racism and therefore is more impartial.

So, I try to understand everyone’s concerns.

I mean, I can understand why some people don’t like those in government, but it is unfair to judge people just on how they look. Most of them can’t help it, they just have Resting Posh Face – you get it at public school, along with your first set of brogues and repressed emotions. It’s possible that they care deeply for the people who are dying as a result of 9 years of austerity, it’s just that they are unable to show it with their face, or their policies. School for them was like Harry Potter – it’s where you go to learn how to make things invisible. Like women! Or Northern Ireland. Or women in Northern Ireland.

Anyway, try not to be angry. White hot rage is only ok if you are a middle aged white lady receiving slow service while buying a Christmas themed rolling pin at Lakeland in a garden centre just outside Cirencester. This is no time to discuss the fate of pregnant migrants – it’s Christmas. So at this time of year, let’s all sit together and remember what Jesus said – ‘No politics at the supper table’ (Corinthians 6: 3-9)

Anger is unhelpful and it isn’t *persuading* anyone. if you are busy dealing with the effects of systemic inequality it’s very important that you persuade people to help you by always being nice and kind. If you don’t like it guys, it’s time to nicely and kindly dismantle it yourself, with a positive attitude, some inspirational memes on facebook and the sleigh you hijacked from Santa’s grotto at Lakeland, brandishing a Christmas themed rolling pin and a brick, while shouting ‘BIG BRICK ENERGY!’ It’s David Cameron’s Big Society! It’s finally here! Let the healing begin.

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Send a message to the people you know who will be more directly affected by this government’s aggressive attacks on public services, and on those who are not UK citizens. Call them up. Invite them round. Let them know they are valued. Find out exactly what the risks are for their future. Prepare for the worst.

If you are impacted by the hostile environment, or if you know someone who is, then you know that the worst has already begun. If you don’t, and think this is hyperbole, educate yourself.

Save, stockpile, reflect on how far you will be willing to go to protect those who are having their rights removed. If you have ever wondered how it was that fascism took hold in Europe 80 years ago, while people went about their business and kept their heads down and looked out for their own interests, and if you have ever wondered what you would do if that happened now, then this is your chance to find out. Make a plan.

CASH TO SPARE

If you have spare cash and social capital connect with people who do not have those things. If you’ve never been politically active before, have hope and take action now. Set up groups, meet up, find out what’s already happening in your area. Who needs help to find work, who needs childcare funded, who needs a fridge, carpets, transport, funding for legal advice, funding for medical treatment, a home. These things should be provided by your government. They won’t be. Make a plan.

SELF CARE

Don’t go shopping in garden centres containing a Lakeland, for a while, at least. Make some mince pies with your now slightly battered stolen Christmas themed rolling pin while singing ‘Get Into Christmas!’ Treat yourself.

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.

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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!