Churchhunting

So there was this church. It wasn’t a particuarly amazing church in many ways, but it had a fabulous vicar and it also had James. Not long after I met him, he decided that he wanted to rescue me from my life of sin charismatic Baptist church membership, and he started taking me along to this church. Just off Edgware Road it was a bloody long way away from Lewisham, but as I always spent Saturday nights at his in Vauxhall I never really noticed.

I got to know the congregation, joined the choir, got myself on the readings rota and the intercessions rota and the Sunday School rota and the tea and coffee rota. I started working as a Server or an Acolyte on Sundays that I wasn’t in the choir stalls. I considered joining the PCC and did join the Church Re-Evaluation Committee1. I did, you know, all the things you do that mean you have Joined A Church.

Then, as you will probably all have noticed by now, he carked it. And first I didn’t go very often because it made me cry, and then I didn’t go very often because it was so bloody far away, and then I didn’t go very often because I’d fallen out of the habit (ba dum, tish). I still Served and filled all the various duties when I did turn up and I stayed in regular contact with the vicar, but such occasions became increasingly few and far between. At Greenbelt I got this nagging feeling that I Need To Go To Church Again, properly, every week. I tried to ignore it, but the damn thing just wouldn’t go away and eventually I gave in. ‘Alright,’ I thought. ‘But I’ll never make it all the way up there every week…’.

And so tomorrow morning I’ll be up bright and early to trot off to St Paul’s Deptford2 for High Mass at 10:30. It’s a lot closer: walkable If You Really Have To, and a short, simple bus ride from just round the corner to bang smack outside the church usually. I’ve been there for Ash Wednesday services once or twice and they’re about as high as you get, proper Anglo-Catholics. There’s a Father Paul who I know nothing about, and a Father John who according to my dad wears a lot of leather and raises money for AIDS charities.

I’m a bit nervous, actually. I’ll keep you all informed.

1Look, stop laughing at the back there. It’s a well-known fact that one of the things the Anglican church does best is organise rotas to decide whose turn it is to draw up the rota for who’s chairing the committee meeting about the exact positioning of the paintings in the church hall during next week’s parish lunch, during which behatted old ladies will argue about who is on the most rotas.

I thought it was just the Anglicans who did this. Then I went to a BiCon Decision-Making Plenary. First of all someone proposed that next year we have a meeting to discuss what we’re going to say in the meeting in which we’re going to discuss what we’re going to say in the meeting in which we’re going to discuss it. And then we had a vote on whether or not we were going to have a vote. I suspect the reason that I took so easily to handling Bisexual Faff is that I have herded many many cats, and most of them were wearing a cassock and surplus at the time.

2That’s a really badly designed website. Give me a few months and I’ll probably be on the committee to redesign it. [ahem]

Debate Of The Day

Have just seen this.

If two people who want to have sex with each other have sex with each other, then there should be no punishment for it. I can certainly see that there is a level of maturity before which people might not be likely to consider the consequences of their actions as much as is necessary. I can also see that there is a level of maturity before which it may be much easier to coerce someone into having sex against their better judgement. I can also see that there is no reliable way of the government measuring this on an individual basis, so we need one blanket age of consent. I think that 13 or 14 is a much more realistic age to choose than 16.

I think that expecting anyone to be psychic is ridiculous. She’d said she was eighteen, she looked eighteen, they’d met on a website explicitly for over-eighteens, she probably wasn’t a virgin. What are people supposed to do? ID all their prospective shags? You can only go with the information you have. So long as consent is absolute and not coerced in the case of either party, go right ahead.

We don’t need stricter laws about who can and can’t shag each other, we just need better sex education from an earlier age and a society which allows people to talk more freely and honestly about sex with their parents, their teachers and their peers. We need a media that provides solid and unhyped information about sex to those who need it. We need birth control to be even more readily available, and we need to find a way of lessening the stigma that surrounds buying it or asking for it.

The good, the bad, and the unbelievably bloody gorgeous

I’m posting this from the Easyinternet Cafe on the Strand. I’ve done the Pride march in it’s entirety, and heard Ken’s speech in Trafalguar Square. Other than the general fabulousness of it all and the fact that I’ve had a brilliant day, two things stand out to me about it – one wonderful and one not quite so.

1. We walked past a small group of National Front members. I accidentally caught the eye of one of them and I have never had a look of such pure hatred directed at me in my life. It was actually really disturbing. I was amused, though, by the fact that there were more policemen standing in front of the NF than there were of the NF!

I was also quite pissed off when I realised that I recognised a few of the heckling Christians, come out with their banners and their bibles to tell us we were wrong. Their expressions were quite different to those of the NF, and both less scary but just as infuriating – their looks were looks of pity, of ‘loving worry’. It drives me up the wall to think that I supposedly share a religion with these people.

But, on a lighter note:

2. WE WALKED RIGHT PAST JOHN BARROWMAN. RIGHT PAST HIM. HE SMILED AT ME! RIGHT AT ME! THERE WAS EYE CONTACT!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m quite disturbed by how much of a squeeing fangirl I was. The reaction was actually quite physical – my legs went all shaky and I got very lightheaded. Seriously embarrasing, of course, but OH MY GOD HE SMILED AT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So yes, all in all it’s looking to be a good day. I’ve walked for nearly three miles without giving up (I’m in a hell of a lot of pain now, but it was more than worth it and I didn’t give up, which is the important thing if you’re me) I have been SMILED AT by JOHN BARROWMAN and tonight I’m going to go to the pub, drink till I fall over and smoke till my lungs explode, as it’ll be the last time I’m able to.

All your base are belong to whom?

A combination of this rather wonderful winning of the intarwebs that you should all go and read *right now* and playing with del.icio.us and Greasemonkey scripts today has got me thinking about the way I use the internet.

Odd as though it may sound, the one thing that’s had the biggest effect on how I use the internet over the past few years is Firefox. I really do have a Highly Personalised Browsing ExperienceTM. I haven’t joined a site in ages and not gone to look for addons or userscripts pertaining to it pretty much straight away.

I use scripts for LJ that change how I tag posts, that unfold stacked comments, that make various changes to userinfo pages. I can’t remember what KoL looked – or played! – like before I downloaded everything I use on it. My browser has a pink skin and my tabs are multicoloured. I’ve got a load of stuff for del.icio.us already, altering colours and fonts and options to get everything exactly as I like it. The search bar next to the address bar has all the search engines I use in it (Google, Wikipedia, IMDB, the KoL Wiki, Bible Gateway, Dictionary.com, YouTube) and I’ve got a script that makes results open in a new tab. Not even Google itself remains immune. I’ve got a thing for making favicons show up on the results page (I have a Thing about favicons, though god knows why), a thing for opening lots of results in different tabs all at once.

And in fact I’m going to have to stop listing things there – partly because I use so many, but also because I’m so used to them that I forget what’s an addon or a script and what’s a built-in feature! (And all this is why I still can’t understand people who don’t use Firefox…)

It’s a far cry from the internet of even just a few years ago. It’s gone – in my memory – from being this thing that was really cool that not many people I knew did to being completely the norm – in fact, far and away my main method of communicating with people now. I’m crap at writing letters, I’ve mislaid my mobile somewhere around the flat yet again and the landline’s still broken, but if you email me or IM me or comment on my LJ I’ll almost certainly read it in minutes and reply immediately.

Even more recently than that, it used to be that there were people who were just offline, people who were just online, people you met online and then offline, and people you met offline and then found online. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Apart from the RYLers and the Shipmates I’d be hard pressed to say which of you I met first in the flesh and which of you I saw around on LJ before that. And either way, we’ve all got so many mutual friends – both fleshly and digital – that it’s entirely a moot point now.

So come on then – how do you use the internet? How has it changed over recent years? What do you think about the web as the primary method of communication?

“Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.”

3:37AM in June. The earliest dawn of the year is just beginning outside. My father and I stood out in the garden earlier, staring up at the stars, marvelling at the size of everything Out There. They’re all gone now but for one, Vega, the brightest star in the summer sky, the handle of Orpheus’s harp.

The year turns ever on, and I am lucky to be awake to see it.

I will stand outside, and watch the dawn as it rises, watch the sun as he brings us into tomorrow. I’ll stand and watch Vega’s last twinkle as he fades into the morning sky, listen to the birds as they welcome the day. I shan’t sleep, not now. But that’s alright, because right now it feels as though I am the only person awake in the world, standing in solitary awe as the dawn draws in.

Night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards.

-From A Midsummer Night’s Dream

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Because obviously, it only matters what the men think.

I posted this as a comment to a friend’s blog and was so irritated about it that I’m now reposting it to half the known universe. Er, sorry about that. Original article here and it’s all about what men think and it makes me so angry I want to scream. Yes, I’m overreacting, but still.

My goodness, this makes me so angry! If anyone seriously thinks that I am going to wear a minimiser bra just because some bloke thinks that large breasts are too sexualised for the office then that is their fucking problem. Because there’s a fair chance that’s what it is: Obviously, breasts are about sex. The sex and the office are not compatible. Therefore, we don’t want large breasts in the office.

It links in to all the shite we hear about men not being able to control themselves. They can’t help it, apparently. It goes way, way back through time. It’s our fault if they can’t concentrate on their work becuase we have a chest, it’s our fault if they fancy us and we won’t sleep with them, it’s our fault if they rape us because we were drunk or we were wearing a short skirt or we fluttered our eyelashes the wrong way.

And I know I may be getting as bit over the top here but honestly, saying that “all women should sport medium-sized breasts in the office – by either using “a little padding” to boost their bosom, or investing in a “minimizer” to suppress it” really is just fuelling this whole idea that men are the victims of their own irrepressible sexual desires and that really is just a few steps away from blaming a woman for her own rape.

Not to mention it being extremely demeaning to men – suggesting that they’re all crazed and out-of-control, nothing more than slaves to their libidos. And the crap that stems from is mostly bullshit in and of itself – from what I can make out, the average woman’s sex drive is actually higher than that of the average man. But we Don’t Talk About That, do we, children?

D’oh.

I thought I’d see how much was in the change jar, as I need some money for tomorrow and I currently have None. So I got a glass of water becuase I’m thirsty, fetched the jar and went to tip the change onto the living room floor and count it out.

While sitting down, I accidentally took a swig from the jar and a load of coins hit me quite hard in the teeth. I simultaneously tipped the water out onto the living room floor.

I are an idiot. QED.

Barbie Loves M.A.C


Walking down the street the other day, I wandered past the M.A.C shop. Seeing as how they do good makeup and all, I peered through the window and noticed an advertisment for their new range.

It’s called ‘Barbie Loves MAC‘, and the poster shows two painted, plastic women with more airbrush than flesh. There they stand, blank and expressionless, their perfectly pink lips slightly parted. I actually had to do a double-take to confirm that they were in fact women and not Barbie dolls themselves.

According to the video on the website, Barbie “represents such diverse beauty-it doesn’t matter about ethnicity, cultural background, she is the face of beauty”. What utter, utter bollocks. The black Barbie dolls and the Chinese Barbie dolls and the mixed-race Barbie dolls are from the same bloody mould as the white ones, they’re just different-coloured plastic. Diverse? Good grief.

Why, as a society, do we do this to women? Why must we attempt to force beauty into a pink plastic mould? Why can we not just accept that women don’t look like that, no matter how hard they try?

(Note that of course I’m not trying to suggest that the media doesn’t do this to men, too-it was just this particular advert that pissed me off…)

“Damn, where’s the Tiny Tea Tent got to? Oh, hang on…yeah…”

Imagine all the stereotypes you ever heard about local pubs, all the stereotypes you ever heard about the working class males of Sahrf East Lhandhan and all the stereotypes you ever heard about the Irish. That’s probably a pretty good picture of the Rising Sun. Now imagine that plus a coach, more drink than you can imagine could be fit onto a coach, and the first day of the most prestigious hunt racing event of the year.

We were all given a drink on the house at eight fifteen in the morning, and by the time we arrived in Cheltenham at one nobody was even remotely sober. It was very, very different from Plumpton (sort of like Little League as compared to the World Series…) and in a way, from a watching-the-races perspective I actually prefer it there-it’s smaller, and more intimate, and nothing like as loud or claustrophobic.

There was a wonderful, buzzing atmosphere in Cheltenham, though, and it was interesting to see what it looks like when it’s not being Greenbelt-I kept going ‘gosh, this is so weird! See that betting pit over there-I saw The Proclaimers there! And I went to a goth Eucharist in that room! And I saw Billy Bragg on that patio! My old youth leader did a comedy act in that building! I fell asleep on the grass in the middle of that paddock!’

After the first three races I was tired, claustrophobic and in pain-LACK OF SPOONS ALERT-so I sat in the bar (yes, I sat in the Winged Ox! It was much more crowded than it is at GB…) and happily watched the last three through the window while dad ran around betting, taking photos and generally having a Good Time. There was even more drinking on the coach on the way back than there had been on the way there, and it was great fun. When we got back to the pub there was a party starting-but I was too knackered and spoonless by this point so I wussed out after one last drink and left them to it.

It doesn’t look like THIS when it’s being Greenbelt-this photo was taken from that bit of the terraces outside the bar where the Ship Of Fools lot always hang around at Greenbelt.

And here’s the obligatory photo of me, sitting in the Winged Ox:

Dad emerged from his room at eleven.
Dad: I didn’t get up.
Me: No, you didn’t. I came in poked you but you rolled over and told me to bugger off.
Dad: I’m going back to bed. But first I’m going to call my boss.
Me: [giggles]
Dad: What? I’m ill.
Me: [giggles more]

KITTUNZ!

So yesterday I went round to see Lucy and Dani. We watched a film, at Chinese, giggled at their astonishingly pregnant waddling cat-all was good. Dani knew that the cafe she worked in would be dead for her whole shift this morning, so I stayed over last night and went with her to keep her company. Not long after we arrive at 8AM, the phone rings and it’s Luce, telling us that Treacle’s just gone in to labour.

The first kitten was born at nine, the second at ten and the third at eleven. We got back shortly after that and proceeded to SQUEE madly (though quietly and soothingly!) with another friend of ours who’d popped round. Treacle then proceeded to have contractions on and off for hours, and there was clearly a fourth on the way. Lucy and Dani managed to fall asleep while waiting, and I curled up with a book.

Glancing up after a while, I realised that the fourth kitten was just being born and it wasn’t looking too healthy. It twitched a little while I woke the girls up, but despite our best efforts he didn’t make it and we finally admitted that he was definitely gone after about fifteen minutes.

We all cried a bit and it was very sad, but after burying him we came back in to three very healthy kittens and one extremely proud mum! The third kitten isn’t quite visible in this shot, as he’s buried underneath his sister and his brother. [grin] Mum is pleased but exhausted. There will be more and better photos when I go back to visit with my own camera tomorrow.