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

FREE

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.

FREE

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.

FREE

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.

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!