The bathroom debate

Have you ever sat and listened to the ludicrous waffle spouted by the right wing in the US when it comes to transgender people using the toilets for their actual gender rather than their birth assigned sex? Have you sat and read the articles on how it puts our children at risk of assault, etc. etc. etc.? There’s nothing more ridiculous in my eyes than this debate.

As a disabled person who uses a wheelchair or walking sticks to get around, I use the accessible toilet. I can’t get myself up off the toilet without the bar to pull myself up on or on some days, help from my carer. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t mean that I’m a pervert, and I don’t think anyone would call me one for needing someone with me in the toilet to help me in and out of my chair on bad days. So why is it that a person using a toilet cubicle or a urinal is a pervert? They are just going about their business.

Also, if you’re from the UK there’s another thing to add to this debate, something that all people who require the use of an accessible toilet will acknowledge, our toilets are unisex. Every single accessible toilet you come across in public spaces is unisex. Admittedly there’s usually only one, unless you’re in a large shopping centre, and it’s usually a single room, but that’s not the point. Ladies get one toilet, gents another, and the accessible toilet is unisex. We’re not expected to want or need a single sex toilet. For us it’s a case of ‘this is what you get’ and this has been the way of it since accessible toilets became a thing in the UK.

At home our toilets are unisex. We don’t have separate bathrooms for the men and women who live with us. We’d think the idea absurd. So why in the hell is it an issue when a transgender person who was born with different genitals from you wants to use the same toilets as you use because it’s the gender they are?

Beware the healthy mommy blogger

So a friend posted that they’ve worked with Goop magazine recently. This has given me huge issues. I get that they were working with a particular friend who was featured in the magazine, but here’s the thing, Gwyneth Paltrow is a hack. Her website advocates crap like Autism Speaks without challenge. In articles such as this one:

It talks about chemical contamination from Teflon – science has shown us that in order to be contaminated by Teflon you’d need to be cooking at temperatures far higher than you should be and that you’d be using your cooking equipment really badly. You’d be burning all of your food. Articles like this are misleading:…/food-p…/what-we-need-to-know-about-pfoas/

Articles that recommend chelation of all damn things! Which by the way is harmful to the human body. Because apparently ‘heavy metal toxicity’ is a thing that we all need to watch out for and it causes things like chronic illness (apparently):…/what-to-know-about-heavy-metals/

Look guys I get it, we all need to work. We all need money, and we will all do anything for our friends. But when we sell ourselves short, and when we sell out it really is disturbing. There are certain people who do more harm than good in this world with their views on things like vaccinations and autism, chelation, and bleach enemas. And inserting jade eggs in your vagina. Let’s not forget that Gwyneth and her team really aren’t doctors. They aren’t even trained alternative therapists, they’re mommy bloggers with a desire to push their lifestyles on the world.

I’m tired

I’m tired. Perhaps that’s the hardest thing to explain. Because when I say I’m tired, I don’t mean that I’m just ‘tired’, I mean that I’m tired to my very soul.
I’m tired of being a chronic pain patient. I’m tired of being in pain all the time, I’m tired of having to explain what it’s like to be in pain all the time. I’m tired of people telling me that they don’t know how I do it or that they couldn’t do it. Because, actually, yes they could. When you’re faced with this sort of unending pain you get on with it because you have no choice. There is no option but to get up each day and get on with it. And even if you find that you can’t get out of bed, you still have to just get on with it.

Continue reading “I’m tired”

C Three Foundation is 5 years old this month

If you know me, or follow my work, you know I’m an avid supporter of Claudia Christian’s C Three Foundation and the work they do in advocating The Sinclair Method of treating Alcohol Use Disorder. They are celebrating their 5th birthday this month with a fundraising silent auction and have a goal of $5k. Let’s help them smash it! It runs until 17th June and there’s some amazing things on offer, especially if you’re a sci-fi geek or nerd!

Tuesday Top 10 – Books from my youth

As I’m a Young Adult author, this Tuesday I thought I’d share with you my top ten favourite books from my youth. These books go back to the earliest chapter books I remember reading, onwards to books I read as a teenager. They may look like a random mix of books, but they are the ones that have stayed with me the longest. Continue reading “Tuesday Top 10 – Books from my youth”

The Cherry Orchard – Two hours of your life you won’t want back.

An intimate theatre setting is always going to be my favourite. Small audiences, close to the stage, no matter where’re you’re sitting, and that feeling of the fourth wall being so close that you literally are the fly on the wall (and for this drama student a throwback to the days of drama studios and confined spaces) The Cherry Orchard at London’s Union Theatre is no exception.

Before we get any further, I’m going to preface this with saying that I’m the Theatre kid that loved Chekhov and Ibsen at school. I’m also the English Literature kid that devoured Orwell and Huxley, and I’m a Stargate fan. Why is this all important? Simple. Suanne Braun was the reason that at least half of the audience were in the theatre last night. She was our Hathor, Mother of All Goa’uld in Stargate SG-1, and we were all eager to see her perform. But for me, it was my fifth adaptation of this Chekov play that has always had a place in my heart.

The set evoked the crumbling estate perfectly, the decaying walls of the building, the moss growing up through the floorboards, walls falling down around them, the set design perfectly echoed the era in which Chekhov’s play was set. Yes the theatre geek in me was happy to note the tiny details like the plant life between the floorboards, Justin Williams and Jonny Rust definitely did the production justice in this regard.

I’m a Chekhov purest at heart, you might have guessed that from the fact this is the fifth adaptation that I’ve seen. But even that didn’t stop me loving this one. This production had one major and vital change in that the Bolsheviks took the estate. Something that doesn’t happen with the original. And perhaps that’s the reason that amidst the chaotic feelings of the end, I still found myself crying with Ranyevskaya as her world crumbled around her. Or perhaps it was the fact that as Lopakhin and Trofimov discussed the past and the future, she sat their silently staring out at her beloved orchard, weeping silently.

Braun’s portrayal of Ranyevskaya was, quite frankly, sublime, and I’m not just saying that as a fan of the sci-fi franchise that introduced me to her work, or a fan of her body of cinematic work (I will admit to having purchased Fleshtone and Starhyke because once I find myself enjoying someone’s work, I want to watch more of it), but because she pulls the audience in. You ride her emotional rollercoaster with her, wishing that she really could forget about her financial worries, and not wanting to blame her for her desire to run away from her troubles into a world of fantasy. Braun showcases the rapid emotional shifts that Ranyevska is prone to with a beautiful fluidity that makes them completely relatable and believable for the audience. It’s breathtaking to watch.

The cohesiveness of the cast is beautiful. I’ve been to other productions near the end of the run and found that by this time, the cast have been a little shoddy when it comes to their interaction with each other (yes even professional productions) and their hearts aren’t really in it, but that wasn’t the case with The Cherry Orchard’s cast. From Anya to Charlotta to Yasha, the way in which the cast portrayed the relationships between the characters was just perfection. I have to give a mention here to Molly Crookes for her performance as Dunyasha, the maid. The way in which she portrayed Dunyasha’s feelings for Yasha, her disdain for Yyepikhodov, her flirtatious nature, it all fitted the nature of the character in a way that is often missed in productions of this play. She’s often played as flighty and silly, whereas I found Crooke’s performance showed her humanity.

Caroline Wildi’s Pishchik on the other hand, was exactly as air headed as she should have been. Her lack of understanding that others around her were often in a worse state than she, the wistful look in her eyes when she talked of her dancing days and her dear father were just right. Lakesha Cammock was a wonderful browbeaten Varya whose sensibility was a stark and brilliant contrast to Braun’s emotional frivolity and Lucy Menzies’ ideologically naive Anya. Richard Gibson’s Gaev (Ranyevskaya’s brother) was a performance that will stick with me as a portrayal of the dementia that hits those in later years. Having lost both my grandmother and an uncle to different types of the harrowing fate that is dementia, I was struck by the truth in his performance. How coherence and lucidity mixed with bouts of nonsense and memory.

I feel guilty for not going into depth on each and every performance within the production, but truth is that I could be here for hours if I did. And I still wouldn’t do them all justice. I’ve chosen just a few highlights from this wonderful show. And if you’re able to see it before it closes tomorrow, Saturday 7th April, I recommend you do. It’s most definitely one that shouldn’t be missed. But as I said, it’s a small theatre and tickets are on a first come, first served basis.

The production is at The Union Theatre, Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London, SE1 0LR.

So this is Christmas….

…. almost. This year seems to have flown by in a flurry of activity that has been never ending. There’s been a tonne of stress and bodily pain and dealing with a lot of things I really wish I hadn’t had to. But overall I’m ending 2017 with a grateful heart. An exceptionally grateful heart. Things have changed this year, a lot, and actually whilst they were scary, I think overall they were worth it.

  • I started this year with a decision that was ultimately life changing. But it meant that I was choosing to focus on my health, my diagnoses, and my ability to look after myself. My relationship of ten years ended. It was a tough decision. I’m not going to deny it. But it was something that ultimately needed to happen in order for me to focus on understanding myself as I now am.
  • I spent an amazing few days in Telford with the FCD lot. Made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and began to realise just how loved I am.
  • I spent an amazing few days with my two favourite people in Edinburgh. That trip was life altering in so many different ways, and it left me with a deeper understanding of myself and my relationships with both of them. I also made a new friendship with someone who is as nuts about hamsters as I am.
  • I met Christin Baker in person. This amazing woman is the power behind Tello Films, she is a powerhouse and one of my inspirations. To sit and have brunch with her and discuss Riley Parra and other things was just amazing. And to be treated as human and not someone in a chair was beyond fabulous. Not that I expected anything less.
  • Being able to support my wonderful Geonn Cannon as Riley went live on Tello and connecting with Marem Hassler was beyond beautiful. She is the perfect Riley. And I desperately encourage everyone to donate in the last few days of the season two crowdfunding so that we get to see the next instalment!
  • Seeing Stockard Channing perform in London was a last minute, crazy, day whirlwind of an experience, and damn if I am not still recovering from that. To see her in all her formidable force on stage was just beyond epic. There are no words for that night.
  • Being given a second hand laptop by a dear friend to replace my falling apart one was a huge plus. It’s enabling me to keep on writing.
  • Sitting in Citizen M in Tower Hill working on The Stolen Generation was amazing.
  • Consistently being published by The Mighty shows me my voice is being heard.
  • Being reminded randomly by the most random people that I’m loved and appreciated is beyond special.
  • And fundraising for C3 Foundation and trying to help them win the Newman’s Own Foundation Holiday Challenge on CrowdRise, has once again reminded me just how amazing people can be. You can donate to my Team C3 Page here.

This year has been amazing. If I could give shout outs to everyone who has made it so I would. But you all know who you are. Instead I’ll say this to just a few:

J – I’d be lost without you. You make every day so much easier and help me with so much.

MC – not your real initials but you know who you are. I look forward to our next adventure, and I’m so fucking grateful for the one we’ve had this year.

G – you’ll always be my platonic hubby. I love you.

JH – you’re my best friend, my sister, my guru. You mean the world to me.

SD – you blew me away when you sent me that PM.

DH – I love you too. Always. We neurodiverse thesaurus swallowers have to gel.

NLM – thank you for the book discussions and the ongoing support.

KitS- you’ve been a stalwart support as always, and you mean so damn much to me. We need to find a way to meet up soon.

KBS – where would I be without my sister in feminist fannish arms?

KazS – I’m so glad we’ve had the time to text this year. I love you.

To all I’ve met through The B Cup – I FUCKING LOVE YOU!

#Apologia – a true West End Gem

Occasionally you get an opportunity in life so rare that you have to grasp it by the neck and relish it with everything you’ve got. Yesterday was one such day.

My sister and I travelled to London for various reasons and decided to stop by the TKTS booth on the off chance we could get cheap tickets to see Apologia before it closes on the 18th. I mean Stockard Channing live on the West End? That’s a lifetime dream come true for this former drama student. Turns out not only were we in luck but a further turn of luck on arrival at the Trafalgar Studios meant we got upgraded from Row P to Row J.

I’m going to be honest here and say that Trafalgar Studios isn’t brilliantly accessible but they have made some changes to the theatres that do make it easier, and on a day where I was using my sticks it was easy enough to navigate, and the staff were more than helpful. A huge shout out to them all for ensuring my safety and comfort throughout.

I mentioned earlier that I’m a former drama student. But the truth is I don’t think that ever leaves you. I found myself looking at the picture frame set with interest whilst waiting for the play to begin, noticing the small details that made the production that little more intriguing. It was clear that every little piece of set dressing had a function even if it wasn’t directly obvious and it was beautiful.

A quintessential English kitchen through the eyes of an American. That was the impression it gave and it fit Channing’s character of Kirstin Miller, an American Art History specialist and activist who had escaped America as a young woman for a life in the UK.

The use of lighting was beautiful and the thunderstorm before the interval deserves a special mention here as it can often be difficult to pull off a convincing thunderstorm in such an intimate auditorium space, but it was spectacular.

The advantage of seeing a play near the end of a run is often that the cast are so comfortable and gelled by this point that the production is seamless. But it can also be a downfall. With Apologia however, it’s definitely the former rather than the latter. The performances were outstanding. For a play that relies heavily on dialogue, and monologue, it easily pulls you in and allows you to forget the world outside.

Freema Agyeman astounded me with the diversity and depth of her performance. Her character of Claire starting out as an annoying bubblehead but slowly revealing herself to be much more. The tender revelation scene with Kristin whilst everyone else is out of the kitchen had tears in my eyes, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried more than once during the performance.

Trudi, played by Laura Carmichael, with her annoying American Evangelical Christianity claptrap actually proved to be the most compelling of the younger characters, I went from wanting to stick her head in Kristin’s defunct oven to actually quite liking her by the end. Even if she was still a little sickly sweet. Her transition throughout was the most profound I think.

Hugh’s (Desmond Barrett) effervescent, self-deprecating gayness reminded me of the drag queen fairy godfathers in my life. Men of a certain age who fought in their day for the rights that we enjoy now whilst continuing to fight for further rights. He was sweet and kind and particularly drôle. But there was also that wonderfully sharp acidic tongue that underlies it all.

Peter and Simon, Kristin’s ‘neglected’ sons being played by one actor was genius and a clear display of Joseph Millson’s talents. The more forthright Peter who has been able for o find a way forward for himself is actually on reflection, perhaps the more damaged of the two. Whilst Simon, who has a history with mental health issues and whose punctuated staccato speech emphasises the effort with which he puts his point across, has clearly done more work to reach a point of self-realisation. The polar opposites of the characters showed a varied range from a versatile Millson.

That brings me to Stockard Channing as Kristin. By no means am I saving the least for last. As I said earlier, I have been a life long fan of this enigmatic actor. Whilst other kids were obsessed with Sandy, I wanted to be Rizzo. As a teenager (and even now), I wanted to grow up to have half as much sass as Aunt Jet in Practical Magic, or Dr Bartlett in The West Wing. Ms. Channing’s voice was, and still is a regular sound in my home, so seeing her performance last night was a true pleasure.

The way in which she captivates an audience from the moment she walks on stage, is striking. Each character I’ve ever seen her play, whilst carrying that wonderfully recognisable timbre, is so very different and striking from the last, but they all have one thing in common, Ms. Channing plays strong females, and Kristin is no different.

There were points her humour was so cutting you felt sorry for the person it was aimed at despite the fact you were laughing with her, times you could feel your chest clenched as hers did, but nothing prepared me for the gut wrenching tears that Ms. Channing’s performance pulled out of me at more than one point during the evening.

I’m in complete and utter awe as I write this over a cappuccino this morning. If I wasn’t heading back to Yorkshire tonight, and if I had the money, I’d spend the next few days in the audience of every remaining performance of Apologia, with my sister by my side. It truly is an utter gem amongst the productions currently on offer in the West End.

Looking for a holiday gift but hate going into town to shop?

Why not purchase both The Search for Lana and The Stolen Generation in ebook directly from me for £5? Just click on the image which will take you directly to my PayPal. From there, you’ll be able to pay for the books. Just let me know which format you want the books in, .pdf, .epub, or .mobi (Kindle), to sideload onto your ebook reader or put into iBooks on iTunes.

Ebook special offer

Looking for something other than a book? Why not head over to my Redbubble and take a look at the designs there? There’s something for everyone!