The Etiquette Of Dealing With Neighbours

In a frantic bid to avoid dealing with the looming spectre of Israel and the frankly horrendous atrocities recently committed, I ask the following: How does one deal with neighbours having alarmingly loud sex?

It’s not an isolated incident; they have their windows open and the woman sounds like she’s having her legs sawn off with a blunt hacksaw. We live in a block of flats with paper-thin walls (I swear I can hear the man next door farting sometimes) I have a feeling these people are exhibitionists, or extraordinarily selfish, or both. Because although I’ve nothing against whatever it is they’re doing (sawing legs off excepted) it really is something they don’t need to share with the rest of the block. At 3am. Or indeed 9am. At ear-piercing volume.

Last night they were at it, and frankly it was putting me off my book. And that is no way to endear yourself to me. So I opened the window and yelled “Will you please keep it down, you noisy bastards! There are kids trying to sleep.” (There are actually kids in the flats too, although I can’t verify whether or not they were trying to sleep, but I feel sorry for their parents having to explain some of her noises to them…) I felt a little guilty, sure, but they shut up immediately. Maybe they shut the windows, or turned off the microphone. Either way, I got to read my book in peace, and that’s all that matters, right?

Daily Mail in “Women are Evil” shocker

It should come as no surprise to you that I despise the Daily Mail with every inch of my being. It’s exemplary of everything I hate in the world: right-wing tinfoil hat wearing paranoia, unabashed sexism, furious hatred of anyone not white, middle class and Christian, sloppy shock-journalism, Richard Littlejohn.

The Femail section is a particularly odious hive of half-arsed bollocks. It tends to feature fluffy articles about women looking “fat” in celebrity dresses, doom-laden articles about career women who LEFT IT TOO LATE to have children, and realised that actually, a baby was ALL THEY EVER WANTED but because they were 40 and therefore ‘past it’, ended up losing their legs and arms and teeth during childbirth. And of course, thinly-veiled attacks on Those Nasty Feminists.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s rant. Femail is currently running an article detailing how women are mostly competitive, jealous harridans eager to make each other look fat and ugly so they can look beautiful and young and therefore successful. It’s a typically nasty piece of journalism created to foster distrust among women – the idea that there is an epidemic of women habitually trick their friends into wearing ill-suited clothing sounds lifted straight out of The Devil Wears Prada. It’s a caricature of female friendships.

The author talks about her friend Jayne, who was one of these terrible witches and made her variously resemble Maggie Thatcher, a pottery teacher on day release (eh?) and a pregnant woman.  And to be fair, Jayne does sound like a nasty piece of work, assuming she really is as cutthroat and ruthless as the author purports. However, she also admits: “My fashion disasters continued, but they were now down to my own innate lack of style rather than any sinister ‘sisterly’ acts of sabotage”. A sentence which makes me wonder whether her poor clothing choices were really her own fault all along, with Jayne set aside as a convenient scapegoat. Who knows? I do know, though, that if women like Jayne do exist, they’re almost certainly influence by the kind of nasty, disparaging, judgemental articles peddled by the Mail and their ilk:

Britney Spears wear clothes we don’t approve of!

Kristen Stewart gets damp, looks ‘like a drowned rat’

Kim Kardashian looks pale and therefore ugly! (bonus hypocrisy points for the ‘dangers of tanning’ article sat alongside this one)

Kim Cattrall dares to look her age!

Kate Moss is hideous witch, die die die!

With these kind of articles becoming a daily feature in rags like the Mail and Sun, it can’t be any wonder that women like Jayne are supposedly on the increase. We’re practically force-fed the message that we must be prettier, thinner, better than other women, and that women who don’t fit the current ideal should be mocked and derided. But I’m not convinced we’re at that stage yet. I think a better explanation comes from the author herself:

I suspect the majority of us praise our friends’ clothes because we’re too kind – and cowardly – to be honest.

“We’d rather gasp ‘Wow!’ when a friend arrives at her 40th birthday party in unforgiving leggings than enquire: ‘Did you think you were appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show?'”

Because of this culture of superficiality, we’ve developed a society in which our good looks are sacred and so telling a girlfriend that her trousers are giving her a camel toe is now akin to calling her grandmother a whore – it’s just not the done thing.  Not when we can open up the Mail and laugh unashamedly at someone a little too fat, a little too droopy or pale or just different to ourselves.

I like videogames.

It’s true. I’m a geek, a nerd, a bona-fide dork. And I say this without shame. After all, videogames are the new Cops ‘n’ Robbers – all the fun of chasing other kids around with big sticks shouting “Bang! Bang!” without the danger of splinters, or grazing your knees, or going outside where the paedophiles lurk.

Well. All that aside, they’re just good fun. But there are problems with being a girl gamer.

For one, you’re never taken seriously. I used to play Aliens vs Predator 2 online several years ago. I was careful to pick a nice, non-gender-specific pseudonym, never mentioned my gender to anyone. I even avoided playing as the female characters (although they had sniper rifles) just to be on the safe side. And then, one day, another gamer (a friend of mine) let slip that I was a girl.

Within seconds, a flood of private messages from the other players: are you really a girl? are you hot? how old are you?

I didn’t reply to them. I figured ignoring them was the smartest thing to do. Not so. The messages then became ruder, more pornographic. They weren’t sent privately anymore, either: they were broadcast publicly.  girls can’t play shooters, hey […], show me your tits, why won’t you talk to us you slut

It’s the sort of thing you joke about, this sexism within gamer communities, and this was the first time I’d experienced it first hand. The word ‘cunt’ appeared with alarming frequency within private messages. Eventually, I quit playing that game online altogether. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t want the baggage that came with being a girl. I haven’t played online since; it’s not just the fear of being ‘exposed’ as female that stops me, but something more basic. I just don’t want to be part of a community in which this sort of misogyny is so normalised. Not one of those gamers attempted to defend me, or chastise them for their rudeness. In fact, the overall impression I got was that I’d asked for all this attention by virtue of being female.

I don’t know if this sort of thing goes on in all gaming communities. In fact, I’ve heard positive things from some about Counter Strike and Halo among others, so maybe I just had the bad luck to stumble upon a group of particularly immature, sexist gamers. But the whole thing left me feeling pretty cold about playing online.

It’s a shame because there are a lot of women and girls who enjoy playing games, despite their being traditionally a bastion of male entertainment, and to my mind this number can only increase if there is an effort, both by the makers of videogames and by the established gaming community to stop alienating them because of their gender, to forego the ingrained ‘girls can’t play games’ attitude, the assumption that women only like chick flicks and shoes and have no interest in, say, shooting banditos in Red Dead Redemption or racing spacecraft in Wipeout. Hey, some us like to unwind with a little God of War, and furthermore, we’re not uniformly butch lesbians (although who cares if we are? It doesn’t make us any less female)

I know Facebook is hardly the best place to get balanced opinions on gender politics, but the sheer number of groups equating Call of Duty for men with sandwich-making duties for women is enough to get my inner Dworkin all ablaze with feminist rage. I’m sure there are plenty of women who have zero interest in playing games, and that’s absolutely fine – but it really doesn’t prove that all women would prefer a pair of Manolo Blahniks to a shiny new PS3 (fuck the shoes, I can’t walk in the bastards anyway)

Absolute Platinum My Arse

Let me introduce you to Schwarzkopf Live XXL: Absolute Platinum.

Now of course, I didn’t expect to go the colour on the box. I’ve dyed my hair enough times to know that you never get the colour on the box, and since my hair was already a pinkish-reddish non-colour:

Well, I wasn’t really aiming for platinum anyway. I am blessed dubiously with pasty white skin prone to red blotchiness at random, so I’m not sure the Vanilla Ice look is one I’m made for. No, I just wanted a ‘roughly blonde’ shade with which to mess around.

It’s also worth noting, at this juncture, that I suck beyond belief at applying lightening dye. My slapdash technique works okay with ordinary dyes, which are liquid enough so that the “Jackson Pollock” method eventually seeps in, with a little massaging, and coats all of my hair. Not so with lightening dye, which has a thicker constistency and clings to your hair, resisting attempts to spread it.

The Schwarzkopf effort was easy to put together and, surprisingly, smelled quite pleasant (which is handy – I have to lock myself into the bathroom so Wilson doesn’t try to drink the dye) but I didn’t think there was quite enough in the bottle. My hair is just shy of shoulder length and of moderate thickness and I didn’t feel like it was particularly well covered.

I left the dye in for around 45 minutes, avoiding the roots as they were already blonde. The result was something akin to a nuclear explosion in a custard factory:

Waaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Needless to say, I have purchased an ash blonde dye and I’m going to sort out this yellow mess. But seriously Schwarzkopf? Wtf?

A Brief Introduction To My Cats

Since it’s a bit early in the blog for ranting (too early for ranting? Yes, really!)  I think now seems an appropriate time to introduce my cats, as I am a little bit of a Mad Cat Lady and will almost certainly be referring to them almost constantly.

This is Bruce

Bruce is a soft cuddly hulk of a cat of indeterminate age – somewhere between 3 and 5 years old at an estimate. Like most of the cats I’ve owned, he was a rescue. My sister-in-law works at the local vet practise and regularly offers us waifs and strays. Prior to owning Bruce, we had a rescue kitten named Leyla who died at 3 months old from congenital defects. We adopted Bruce five months later. He was found wandering in a car park with an abscess and severe gingivitis.

Bruce is sweet and very laid back. He is mostly quiet and likes his naptimes. He is also the biggest cat I have ever seen.

This is Wilson

Wilson is roughly 8 months old and is pretty much Bruce’s polar opposite, despite being nearly identical. He is also a rescue cat. He is very fond of mad dashes around the house, freerunning (which usually ends with him balanced precariously on the doorframe, mewing pathetically because he can’t get down) He does occasionally involve Bruce in his circuit training but the poor boy just doesn’t have the stamina.

Wilson is particularly mischievous at night, which doesn’t bother me half as much as it does Mr Monkeh. An average night with Wilson will mean book covers being chewed, toys hidden in shoes, shelves being helpfully re-arranged and socks hidden under the bed. Occasionally, Wilson will do something really special, like knock the bedside lamp onto Mr Monkeh while he’s sleeping, or attempt to groom his hair at 4am.

Despite their differences, Bruce and Wilson are BFF’s:

There is another cat in my life:

This is Fizzgig

Fizzgig lives with my ma, although I got her while I was at university. When I first agreed to home Fizzgig, I was living in a shared flat – an insanely spacious place (although really quite run down) with plenty of room for Fizzy. However, circumstances quickly changed and we ended up having to move to a smaller, colder house with, conveniently, a no-pet rule. This, combined with a mini nervous breakdown meant that poor Fizzgig ended up going to live at my ma’s.

This seems to have been for the best, though; she is absolutely the queen of the house and is spoiled rotten, so I’m quite sure she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

A Brief Introduction

There is nothing so self-indulgent as a blog of one’s own, and I’m under no illusion; I’m reasonably sure that nobody will stumble upon this blog and pronounce it a Pulitzer Prize winner. And, accordingly, that’s not the intention.

What will I write about, then? Mostly guff about what’s made me angry today (there’ll probably be a lot of that), snippets about my cats, the weather, British newspapers (which links in nicely with the ‘stuff that made me angry today’), the few TV shows I watch and possibly reviews of the multitude of hair dyes I use, because goodness knows I’d have found such a thing useful before I bought the bloody things.

So yes. Potentially an extraordinarily dull corner of the interweb, but sod it. I’ve got to have some outlet or I’ll implode messily.

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