Why maybe we can keep smiling.

So a couple of days ago I started hearing nasty little bits floating around about some riots going on in London. The bits multiplied and had baby bits as the rioting spread and worsened until it was all over the papers and everyone I saw (including me) was saying to everyone else “wow, London, ay?” with a shake of the head.

I don’t live in London. I am far far away from the chaos, and most people I know are too, but that hasn’t stopped us reacting. My Facebook newsfeed has been ablaze with people exclaiming, pondering, laughing and generally throwing hands in the air, wondering what has happened to our fellow humans.

I don’t undersand it all. I caught on to the situation late, as is my wont with situations that are in any way important or biggish, and so missed any sort of original happenings or things that could have set it off. I have of course now seen and heard things about the police shooting a man, which is awful in and of itself as I don’t like people getting shot, pretty much full stop, and I’ve heard a bunch about the disenfranchised youth of England being fed the hell up and sort of losing it a bit, but all in all mainly riots, fires, awful, youth, race issues, awful, shit, fires, etc.

I’ve heard stacks of blame and recrimination and calls for vengeance and justice and I’ve heard enough to make me deeply, deeply sad.

But I’ve also heard some other things.

My housemate said to me tonight that she read a story about people hitting the streets of London with brooms to clean up. I was considerably cheered by this. Another friend posted a photo she found somewhere of some lovely people offering the police guarding their street a cup of tea. Naw.

How could I forget? What gets me through the frequent moments of “aaah the world is falling apart and everyone is mean and no one loves anything but themselves and why don’t we all give up” anguish I experience is the knowledge that the jerk-non jerk ratio in my life (considerably higher on the non jerk side) can’t be a singular thing. The jerk-non jerk ratio must be similar all over the world. Which means:

There are good, sensible people in the UK, doing good and sensible things.

For instance, the people behind #riotcleanup. Not only have hundreds of people, brooms proudly aloft, flocked to the streets of London and Manchester to clean up their homes but the riotcleanup tag was the most trended topic in the UK the day of its inception, and the second most trended worldwide. This is wonderful news I think, for the rep of social media. It mean that while Twitter and Facebook etc helped organise the rioters, they also helped organise those that wanted to respond in kindness and practicality, proving once and for all that the interwebs CAN be used for good as well as evil.

Lovely Londoners with Lovely Brooms

I found so many stories all over the place about men and women heartened and inspired by the people cleaning up their streets. Little old ladies cleaning alongside youngins, people travelling for miles to help out. I sat on twitter (I was lured back! the riots got me!) and watched the dozens upon dozens of people per minute posting their support and gratitude for what they’ve called “the real London”.

Something else I stumbled upon is this little gem:

Buy a Bobby a Beer.com What a wonderful way to thank people for doing what is no doubt a ridiculously tiring and difficult job.

Also, this! Operation Cup of Tea, which is also going a little bananas on Twitter, asks people to join them in posting a picture of them having a relaxing cup of tea, instead of rioting. They have nearly 200 000 attending on Facebook, and looking over the hoards of photos of cups of tea and coffee consumed by citizens who would rather sip and smile than rail or accuse is heartening.

Just so you know, I’m not trying to be naive. I know there are deep and abiding evils and injustices in the world and in our systems that hurt, incapacitate and frustrate my fellow citizens. I don’t think rioting and generally going a bit troppo is a helpful solution but I am not cruel or cynical enough to dismiss this mess in its entirety as youthful idiocy. I know that cups of tea and brooms won’t fix what has caused this, and that what is lacking here goes deeper than what a smile can counter.

But I needed to be reminded that London, and the world, hasn’t completely lost its mind. My heart breaks for the UK, and for all other countries experiencing unrest and fear daily. I simply am warmed by the appearance of so many wanting to help, to laugh, to smile, to love and by the knowledge that where these are known, there must be many who are unknown.

The rioters and the press may be louder but my favourite type of revolution has always been a gentle one.

So thanks to you all, and my prayers are with you.


Ps, a couple more examples






I wonder

what this will look like.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately…


about creativity.

About wonderful ideas


and things that people make

and do.


I’ve been thinking about exploring.

About finding more trees.


I’ve been thinking about yarn bombing,

about note posting









  I love it.                                                                  I think we were made to make things.

I’ve been thinking about how I, like so many others, want to make things that make people want to make things.

and make them want to laugh

and to sing

and to smile






hear       touch  pause      breathe    make

write readunderstandthink


I’ve been thinking.


Things I’m average at no. 763: Being Academic

(I wrote this after assignment time around two months ago and was unable to finish due to shame induced blog amnesia so it’s a little out of date now. Here it is.)


I’m having essay regret. Not the regret that comes around every assessment time shaking its head saying “what the frick are you studying for anyway, you should have stayed stupid”, although I get that too, this regret is the regret that comes from handing in a piece of work you know is shoddy, you know is under researched, you know is basically a ramble of thoughts and words so loosely related to a topic they may as well have just brushed past it in the shops. I’ve handed in a pile of Arial fonted shite.

Oh God Oh God Oh God. Why.

Every time I think about this essay my mouth does this thing. It goes into a line, a thin tight line that pulls a little to the left. Like a wee little stroke of shame. My mouth is trying say “oh god oh god I can’t believe I handed that up oh god” but all that  is appropriate for most social occasions is the slight twitch.

Also, I liked my tutor. I don’t want him to think I’m a git. We had drinks together, he listened when I spoke, and now, inevetably he’ll read my essay and think “why in the hell is that seemingly intelligent girl handing in what is essentially a tenth grade book report?” Oh man.

You need skills to be good at this study thing, I guess. Time management and all that shit, but also, the ability to do it. To put down the remote, or the novel, or the table tennis bat (I don’t know) and turn to What You Need To Do and friggin DO IT. I have a very limited grasp of this skill. Even now, I’m on holidays and I’m not doing that right. I have books I want to read and stuff I want to write and I’m watching a shit load of Greys Anatomy because I am so crap at telling myself to fucking DO IT.

I honestly believe I have some undiscovered form of learning disability that manifests in a squirrels attention span, a large lump of brain play-dough that sits in front of a concept I need to grasp making it nigh on impossible and a near complete inability to express thoughts that I do understand.

And the thing is, is I did understand this. I listened to my tutor and read the books and got it but when it came time to get down.. holy shit. Everything broke and I submitted the academic equivalent of Twilight.

Oh God oh God.

Anyway, sorry to whinge. It’s not so bad. Luckily for me this grossly malformed learning gene hasn’t stopped me from memorising copious pop-song lyrics, hundreds of movie references and the way to the toilet. I’ll be fine.



Dear Baking, Sorry we’ve not been friends.

I know a number of people, people that I respect, who love you. They love to stand in their kitchen and move pans about and find ingredients and look in their pantries and make things for those they love. I’ve always thought that’s fabulous. I love the idea that people can be not lazy. That they can make food for themselves. It amazes me. And some of them really love it. Like, they LOVE it. They want to be with you, Baking, a lot of the time. Your sometimes painstaking methods seem a sweet price to pay for the result they get.

Not so for me. It’s not always been that I hate to cook. I don’t even think I do. It’s just never occurred to me to like it. I will certainly grab a spatula or wooden spoon and do my half assed duty, but the idea of cooking as something that’s fun to do, of YOU as an interesting way to spend my time has, on occasion, seemed laughable.

I hope this isn’t offensive… It’s not you exactly, it’s just that why would something that seems almost chore-ish be fun for me? Putting flour and salt and other shit together in exacted quantities just doesn’t get me going.


As you may or may not be aware (I’m sure you’re busy with Nigella or Masterchef or something but you may have read my blog..) I decided I wanted to make a pie. I decided this around seven or eight months ago as a part of my quest to do some shit before I turn 30. I have after all, always been a huge fan of pie  -one of your finest works, I think- and the making of one, crust and all, seems like such an insignificant and obvious part of other peoples lives that the lack of any experience making one in my own began to look ridiculous.

The pie making scheme sat latent within me, swallowed by laziness, fear and my super human ability to forget things and be easily distracted for many a moon. Then, one unsuspecting Friday night, at around nine, I began to think. I began to think pie thoughts. I began, Baking, to dream pie dreams. We didn’t have a lot of fruit, so I googled pear pie recipes lazily, still not entirely committed to the revolution.

I found one. It looked good. I sat, and read it and thought and read it some more and then, when my self esteem thought all hope was lost I said “fuck it, I’m doing this” got off the couch, took my place in the kitchen and, may I say, my place in history.

First, as you will know, I made the crust. I took the crust part of another recipe as the one I found was all American and saying things like Wholewheat Flour and stuff. I hoped the recipe wouldn’t know I cheated. The dough freaked me out when I took it out of the food processor as it was a little wet and greasy. Convinced that I had fucked even that small a part, I divided it in two and put it in the fridge to set. Or whatever.

Next! The filling. Several sloppy pears dripping all over the bench later,

I know, right? Nutmeg and cinnamon and honey dude. Damn.

So. Once this was done and after a few minor interruptions in the way of facebook chat and freaking out a little more over the fate of the ill-begotten crust, it was time to like, assemble this sucker.

Here is where the trouble started. I placed the pear mix in the middle of my very nicely rolled (I thought) pastry. I began to pull the edges of the pastry over the pear to form a little tart case thing. But woe! The pastry was too thin and the pear too juicy and small cracks began to form in the newly soaking dough. I would smoosh one crevice together only to catch another forming on the other side. It stuck to the bench and looked unlikely to ever make it into the oven. Somehow though, the lumpy pear boat was placed hastily on a tray to await fate and my surrender to inadequacy.


I moaned aloud, I told friends on facebook this was sure to result in horror, I lamented my danged decisions to attempt anything ever as the little pear boat waited for me like an unassuming time bomb of floury doom.

I waited.

Something peculiar happened. When repeatedly checking the pie, I noticed it had begun to look..golden-ie. Sort of baked and delicious. It looked, dare I say it, edible.

Not letting myself dare to hope, I paced the kitchen some more and then…

… it was born. My first pie. And I cut into it, and I ate it, and Baking my friend, it was good. The crust was crumbly and baked through and not dry and the pear was succulent. I was exultant. Where there had been no baked good, I had made baked goods.

And now here I stand, on the other side of my great adventure, humbly asking for your forgiveness. I’m sorry I thought you were naff, Baking. You gave me pie and for that I will be forever grateful. I now look forward, almost, to spontaneously deciding to try you late at night again, and possibly at other times when we might combine to make other pies.

Here’s to a long and healthy friendship,




A story (sorry, bit of a downer).

You have been home about two hours when she brings it up. You’re standing on the concrete that forms a bank for the green on her lawn, a little cold with just socks on your feet but you’re only out here for a short while. You both watch Belle as she trots around slowly, sniffing and moving her head all around her as if aware of something baffling and elusive. Mum says I worry about her and you keep your face closed because you know that Belle is frail and you feel the sorrow that wells at the suggestion not made yet like a needle in you. You look at your mother as she looks at the dog and you say mmm hmm because you are listening and open to what she says.

She is old, nearing seventeen which is good for a dog. She doesn’t see, or hear much at all. She always seems agitated now. Your mothers voice is normal but you know there is weight behind it. She says she walks all around the house. I don’t know if she’s comfortable. She says she could be in pain and inwardly you wince

I wonder (she hesitates or maybe you just think she does) if I should have her put down. Here her voice raises a little, a note of desperation enters as she feels she must explain herself. Belle is old. Belle is not happy.

You nod and you know she’s right and you keep your voice steady as you say should we do it while I’m here then as you think hell there’s no turning back around now.

The next morning Belle walks into your room in her gentle, confused way and mum comes in and lifts her onto your bed. She curls in to a ball, hesitant and weary. She is a tiny shape. You’ve always loved the feeling of her small weight on your bed, next to your legs. You would seek her out when she settled away from you, wrap your feet around her side, pray she didn’t move. You look down at her and gently, slowly touch her back and even then she flinches but she stays in her ball next to you on the bed as you marvel again at her bones through her skin. Such a tiny thing now.

You slide down the bed so she doesn’t have to move and she’s still there an hour later.

Those you do tell ask how will you do it, it will be awful for you because they know you’ve had her since you were quite young and how you get emotional and you smile and agree and talk of other things.

You are at your brothers house and you watch your niece play and laugh and occasionally you almost understand what will happen at six o’clock. Your mother has made an appointment. It seems odd that you can ask someone to do this for you.

Your mother is talkative, she is keeping her quiet lake of grief at bay with her words, she has had Belle for company for longer than you. You are carefully still sheltered behind a wall of not thinking about it. You leave before five, so as to make your appointment. You go home to get her and in the kitchen you slip a little and tears form a barrier between your eyes and the small greying dog, looking blindly up at you. You remember without choosing to when she was a tiny black and brown thing, all fur and miniature legs and bright eyes and a yippy bark, hitting a tiny ball with her head, panting in glee and zooming across the lawn to push it back after you kick it away.

Your mother asks if you want a leash on her and you say it’s ok, you’ll hold her. You lift her, she weighs hardly anything at all and you carry her to the car, climb into the back. With the window down it is cold but she has always loved to have her face in the wind, used to ride in the car all the time. You want her to have this and you smoosh your face into her side and her mouth is open in the wind and she leans back to sniff your face.

It seems a shame to cry like this in front of strangers but you don’t even have it in you to care. There are two people in the waiting room and you don’t look at them much, but they murmur in the background. She is jumpy but you hold her tight while your mother talks to the lady at the desk, pays the fee. You are silent, but for occasional murmurs of comfort for Belle. You don’t want to talk to the lady at the desk for you are steeling yourself.

When you ask your mother if she wants to say goodbye her voice breaks and she says just go so you turn and you open a door and behind it is a man who smiles at you because he knows why you are here. You ask him if this is the right thing, your voice hitching and your words sliding around your sobs awkwardly. You tell him: she is old, she’s not happy. He nods and says her so thin is not a good thing, it could be any number of things that all point here and he pats her and blows in her face to engage her, to make her happy and you love him for knowing that she matters. He takes her away for a catheter and says wait here, sit down, I’ll be back in a minute.

Not for the first time you feel this can’t be happening, not because people’s dogs don’t die, but because the shock of such grief, such a kind of crying out loud in public as compared the usual cadence of your life is extraordinary. You sit but you’re thinking oh god she must be scared, why am I here, she must know what if it went wrong what if they just do it I need to be with her she must be scared and I need to comfort her how can I comfort her when I brought her here to die and you pace in a tiny back and forward motion and you’re crying and craving the last tiny space you’ll get with her and the minutes stretch and you feel like you’ll have to pull open the door at the back of the room because it’s surely been too long and what are they doing and then the vet comes back in with Belle and he puts her on the table and you feel her bones through her skin again.

He has a needle and he says I will give her a little, and she will go to sleep then I will compress the syringe and that will stop her heart and you think, oh, her little heart.

You have your arms around her, her tiny frame and you tell her she is good dog, that you love her. He pushes down a little and she is agitated but soon she does fall asleep and you can’t control your voice and you wail a little as she is there sleeping because it’s a lie and he pushes down on the syringe again and you want to yell at him to stop, it’s not too late yet, she is still alive and can stay alive and your little Belle for a while but it’s already decided so you watch him stop her heart.

She is so still and he has a stethoscope. He puts it to her chest for a moment and says in a very soft voice she’s gone. You cry loudly, you can’t not cry loudly how could this have happened, how have you let this happen, how is she so still and you can’t stop noticing her small frame feels heavier now and how she is still warm, her little body.

Later in the car you swear you feel her move, and you horrify yourself imagining her buried but awake but your mother says no, there’s nothing. You bury her in the backyard next to Jake, your mum has dug the grave this morning, knowing she wouldn’t have the strength tonight, tonight is given over to her, to what she meant.

Your mother goes back inside for the shovel and you look at the small red bag the vet gave you and you tell her you are sorry that you did this. I am so sorry.

She is covered over with dirt. Later you will feel as though your eyes are broken, that too much salt water has made them permanently blur. You can’t sleep for wondering if she knew when you took her there that you were betraying her. You ask your mother and you curl up next to her as your eyes blur again and she says no, sweetie, she didn’t know, she was old, it’s better this way and you both talk about her and what a good, good dog she was, how she really wasn’t her anymore anyway and though you feel better you cry yourself to sleep, because you are full up of tears that must be evacuated whether you like it or not.

The next day you are so heavy. You feel weighed down and you get up and dressed too early for when you finally slept but you and your mother drive you to the airport and you look for parks and joke about having to walk a long way. You worry about your mother in her house without the tiny dog following her, needing her assurance. Your mother is quieter now, you think she’ll fall apart more when you’ve left. You say goodbye at the gate and sleep on the short flight home.

It’s easy once at home to get on with things, because what else are you going to do, you can’t stop because your dog is dead. This is special kind of sorrow, it will brown if you air it too much. After a few days, you think you can’t keep being a little quiet, because she was a dog, that worse can happen and has and you feel foolish for the consistent crying when you are in bed. You are more tired than you’ve felt in a long while and you mostly put it down to being away, not sleeping well. But, you feel better when you’re talking and working and soon it’s easy to be the normal you and the times when you are stabbed with guilt that you killed her come less and less frequently now.

But, you will be at the sink, or walking to the tram, or in a park and still be floored by the memory of her small, warm weight in your arms, of your feet around her in the dark as she sleeps.