A Rose by any other name…

It was the most progressive of times. It was the most regressive of times. It was less than twelve months since Oxford dictionary’s word of the year had been lie. As a professional wordsmith and feminist it was a surreal moment to be alive.

A female writer, and especially one with an angle on gender was constantly in danger of using the wrong word. Furthermore, there were many stipulations about identity that a woman who wrote needed to consider. It was called a privilege check, and its purpose was to keep the little woman in her place, and boy did it work. By the time a girl had finished ticking off all the different ways her various privilege might inform her argument, she’d need a lie down, or a stiff drink, or something stiff…

It probably started with Alanis Morisette in the mid nineties and the innocent mis-appropriation of irony. Going on to sell millions what the song Ironic proved was that redefining a word had vast commercial potential. By 2017 words were evolving faster than the above average intelligent individual’s mind. In some cases, there was no guarantee that the words used to describe something in the morning would be the same by tea-time. This was a source of huge concern for the writers and the feminists, and most especially the feminist writers.

Some stopped writing because they could not keep up with the pace of change and the retribution when they used the wrong word, because it had meant something entirely different, only a few short hours before. No-where was the war on language more prevalent then in the feminist community. In the trenches the rad fems clung to the traditional view of the word ‘woman’, as per Oxford dictionary. They fought a daily onslaught of threats and insults from the lib fems who sought to liberate the word woman from the confines of an actual literal meaning.

‘Course the rad fems had their reasons for wanting to hang on to word woman and many subsidiary terms like vagina and breasts, uterus, period and lesbian. And the writers were also invested in the word woman retaining its meaning, because once words start to lose meaning then the ability to communicate diminishes. And writers are communicators.

The lib fems favoured changing the word woman to the word people, as this would make it more inclusive. Of course it’s impossible to argue that the word people is less inclusive than the word woman, but to many, that’s the point.

Eventually all writers and feminists had to pick a side, and most especially feminist writers. Did they favour the old world view where men and women were two distinct biologically different but fundamentally interdependent groups of people? Or were they  willing to be pioneers of a brave new world, where ideas are so vast and experiences so unique, that no dictionary need dare contain them?

Whilst woman and all its related terms vagina, breasts, uterus, womb, period, lesbian were up for reallocation, the word of the year, fast overtaking lie was binary with a non before it. Non-binary was the term used to describe a growing sub culture of people that believed themselves to be neither woman nor man, boy nor girl. A short, sharp look in their underpants was no longer a determinant factor in what sex they might be.

It was all very confusing for those who dared dig into it, because when viewed objectively, it made no sense at all. Gender was replacing sex as the deciding component in what defined the terms man and woman. The biologically reality and difference that distinguished two groups of people was being eroded, like it did not exist. Only, it continued to exist, it just became more difficult to logistically speak about.

‘But, do you know where babies come from?’ became a controversial phrase and yet, babies continued to come from wombs, and wombs continued to come attached to women. And, it was still her tit that a baby drank life from, and her belly that was bent out of shape.

The lib fems argued that it was crude to reduce women to their body parts. The rad fems countered it was cruder to pretend women weren’t reduced to their body parts, systematically, by the patriarchy.

The rad fems had it on logic, and reason, but fell down somewhat in style and presentation. There, the fur coat no knickers lib fems, brought the house down. Though their words, at best, distorted meaning, at worst,were just plain unintelligible, they spoke them with such pezaz.

And they appealed to that deep, real fear we all have, that we’re actually a bit stupid. Truly, people were so terrified of being exposed as not getting it, that that they suspended all their ability to critically analyse what was being proposed.

And, it is here, we now sit, in this pivotal period in our history as thinkers, as seers, as knowers of stuff, as people who must pass on to our children a semblance of biological sense. ‘Coz kids deserve biology. More than that that, kids need biology, especially teenage kids, especially teenage girls. And I’ll tell you what else girls need- words.

 

 

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There ain’t no cis in sisters.

I’m not really sure what a cis woman is, which seems unfortunate given I am one, allegedly. I am sure what allegedly means, it’s an unproven claim. I know that word well because every time a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, the media gets that word in. Because it might not have happened. The woman might be making it up. Women do. Cis women, I mean.

Cis women have no real expectation of justice. This is reflected in the fact that only 15% of rapes are reported to police. So, those crimes you read about every day, that allegedly happen to cis women, are actually the tip of the iceberg.

Well over a million cis women will experience domestic abuse in the England and Wales this year, if last year’s statistics are an indicator.  20% of these women will see their perpetrators face criminal proceedings. That means the vast majority of these women victims will never see a man punished for his crimes against them. By inference, many of these perpetrators will go on to abuse, beat and maim other cis women. Two cis women will be killed this week by their male partner or ex partner. It’s almost as if putting the word cis before the word woman makes her no more lightly to to gain any measure of fair treatment.

Cis hasn’t really taken off in the real world, but is huge in feminist circles. Yeah, you read that right. The average woman on the street will give two fingers to the idea that she has to put a three lettered word before her sex, but self declared feminists are queuing up for a more complex way to describe their sex than plain old woman.

The fact that it is linguistically impossible to be cis and feminist seems to have gone over these women’s heads. Cis, in this context, means to be aligned with the gender that was determined at birth. No feminist ever aligned themselves with their birth gender. Whatever individual event, or series of them, took them to the door of feminism, their core motivation is always the same. An inability to accept the limitations placed on them by gender roles they were assigned, after their sex was determined. The very act of becoming feminist and standing up for women’s rights is a slap in the face to the gender expectation of women to be submissive. See?

Women are a class of people that are oppressed by another class of people (called men) under a system of oppression called the patriarchy. The patriarchy maintains its stronghold through violence and resource control. An obvious example of this is the universal obsession with birth control which leave women’s most basic health in the precarious hands of various religions and ideologies that value the seed she carries over her right to life.

Men don’t fear dying in child birth or being forced to carry a fetus they don’t want because men can’t get pregnant. There! I said it. We all know this, of course, ‘coz anyone old enough to read this started life the same way. We all had to serve our time in a woman’s womb, and whether pushed out of her vagina, or cut from her belly, we all had to sever that umbilical cord, before we took our first breath. So, lets hear it for all women everywhere, who have made the writing and the reading of this blog possible.

The cisters won’t like me now. What with the cis feminist is a paradox and men can’t get periods admissions. The cisters hate it when you talk sense. It confuses them, profoundly. This is evidenced by the censorship their ideology demands. Disagree, and we will call you TERF or SWERF  (These are real acronyms, I’m not making them up). Disagree louder, and we and we will demand your exclusion from our conversations, in the interests of inclusion, obviously. Disagree loud enough and we will get you fired, or at the very least, make sure you are never safe to speak publicly again.

In the past month, Linda Bellos has been no platformed, Julie Bindel has been harrased whilst promoting her new book and Helen Steel was surrounded by a mob at the anarchist book fair. Yeah, you read that right too.

As feminists, and as women, we need to ask ourselves what is progressive in telling women to STFU? As feminists we need to fight for all women to be heard. Even…cis ones.

 

Spoiler Alert – The Dr Foster ending is s***! (also lots of other spoilers!)

I’ve never been a huge fan of the B.B.C. What with the pedophilia, and the sexism, and the bias reporting and the licence. I object to the idea of paying a fee to watch the B.B.C., because the quality of material they produce does not amount to a fair return on investment.

If I wasn’t politically opposed to paying a licence, I would have bought one to watch Dr Foster. I’m a big fan, or I was, until today, when I watched last night’s episode. Now, I’m no longer a fan. I hate it.

If you haven’t seen it, don’t watch it. If you have, you’ll know why this advice is so pertinent. They took a beautiful and very rare thing, an intelligent, vengeful woman, with the ability to carry out a master plan to military precision, and they made her pay.

For loving her child, she paid. For hating her philandering, violent, gold-digging husband, she paid. For protecting herself, she paid. For protecting his new wife, she paid. For protecting her son, she paid. For facing the truth, and refusing to lie, she paid with her’s son life.

Not death, but the fate worse than that, the runaway child, who ain’t ever coming home. Because of her, see? She was a bad Mother, obviously, that’s why her kid is roaming the streets of some British city, alone, and utterly unprepared for what must surely now lie in store for him.

Only I thought she rocked. She could raise me any time. She put food on the table, and clothes on his back, and she was always kissing him, and asking him if he was okay. Sure, she f***ed over his Dad, but only in so far as he drew first. And in this series, she was a ball of re-action. There was nothing she could do from week to week, except respond to his ever increasing megalomania and his inability to take any responsibility for any facet of his existence.

The five week drama took an unexpected up-turn, last week, when the eponymous doctor ran her violent ex down…or so we thought. This week we learn, she swerved. He lived and contemplated suicide, including a few convincing attempts. By then, she’s compelled to talk him out of it, aware the son has internalised every s*** action he’s committed. Whilst saving her violent ex from himself, her self hating son flees.

The moral of the story is a Mother most never exact any level of righteous retribution on her ex.  To do so will so damage her children beyond all repair, they will abandon her and she will be left alone, with a bad hair-cut, to contemplate her moral and maternal failings for all eternity.

My first novel Nailing Jess was published by Cranachan in June this year.

 

 

 

TRIGGER WARNING HAPPY Trigger Warning: This blog contains no trigger warnings

The ‘Trigger Warning’ is having a moment. Much like after the bankers f***ed up the economy and ‘austerity’ went from being a word mostly found in Dickensian era literature to common usage overnight. In fact, it’s only very recently that ‘austerity’ has fallen out of favour as the blanket explanation for all the profit focused policies that have post dated it.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think ‘Trigger Warning’ is even a decade old. It is certainly very new to find it everywhere, all the time. Perhaps, it’s just the circles I frequent. The feminist ones, especially. They are just wall to ceiling ‘Trigger Warning’. Many make you agree to adding a ‘Trigger Warning’ to everything you post. Think about that, for a moment. Feminists sites that ask you to designate your feminist content potentially harmful to other feminists.

Perhaps I sound flippant? Like, I have missed the point. Trigger warnings are there to protect people, who may be experiencing P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from being triggered by other people’s stories or even opinions. So far, so sensitive. But, ultimately, not sensitive enough, because here’s the type of content that might make a traumatised individual feel unsafe. F***ing anything!

Such is the nature of unresolved trauma that a smell, a sound, a taste, or a picture may resonate with some part of our deep sub conscious – where all the bad s*** lurks – and make us feel vulnerable, alone, sad. Such is the real dark stuff that happens to people in a patriarchy, that many spent their entire life’s a bit or a lot broken. Trigger Warnings won’t resolve their conflict. Truth and affirmative action is much more plausible.

When did feminists become so f***ing sensitive to the needs of everyone, all the time, whilst so simultaneously desensitised to the needs of women? Seriously, what is that about?

It’s all part of a wider conspiracy to make feminism so dull that only suburban house-wife’s and aspirational career types need apply. All the thinkers, all the truth seekers, all the herstorians – nope, it’s not a typo – will be either dead, or living in some underground compound in UTAH waiting for a post apocalyptic future with a less bleak outlook.

Can we stop censoring women? Can we stop patronising women? Can we recognise that talking about trauma is not inherently traumatic? It is not even as traumatic as not talking about it. Can we stop boring each other’s pants off with long, convoluted explanations of what feminism is? Can we narrow down the definition of feminism to more realistic aims? Can we make sure the draft includes stuff about women and their oppression under a patriarchy?

So, in summary, feminism is not an ideological version of a health spa. If you want to feel good about yourself, you need to see a life coach, or an emotional freedom therapist, or even a good old fashioned shrink. If you want to fight for the rights of women you need to find yourself some like minded women who call themselves feminists, but are also interested in such matters. And that, in this current climate of schizophrenic women;s rights, is a pretty hard find.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is available now from amazon and all good bookstores.

 

Everyday Feminism – I’ll take mine to go…

So, now that I’ve launched my book, I need to get back to blogging regularly. Blogging’s hard. You have to think up stuff to write about and then write about it. You have to have an opinion and be sure where you stand on something and the older I get, the less certain I become about where I stand on anything. Take feminism, for example. I used to be so sure of what feminism was. Then I discovered twitter. Some time later, I came to realise that my own understanding of what feminism was, which had come largely from the academic writings of the second wave feminists, was no longer relevant. Feminism had morphed into something entirely different. It had been re branded so that it might appeal to a broader section of society. And in theory, that’s a good thing, surely?

Everybody knows you’ve got to de-radicalise to maintain viewing figures. Remember New Labour? But, at what point, do you lose all credibility? At what point are you looking from the misogynist to the feminist, and then from the feminist to the misogynist and scratching your head? ‘Course it could be simply that the movement has evolved too fast for me, and I’m stuck in the rigid thinking of a by-gone era when feminism was all about fighting for women’s rights. Most especially, their right to control of their womb. Their right to live free from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to protect their children from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to an education. Their right to be self defined autonomous individuals, with control of their own destinies. Their right to live free of oppression and fear. It was a very rights based time.

And these sisters got shit done! Between all the toking and the dancing around naked and hairy in the gardens, coz body hair is a very political thing, they achieved practical, massive stuff. They got us divorce and abortion and contraception and women’s refuges. They got us better pay and working conditions and opportunities. They radically changed our lives. Then, as far as I can tell, they packed up and moved back to suburbia, in time for rush hour at the fertility clinic. There endeth the second wave. Now, we’re in the third wave, I think, it’s hard to keep up. Some even talk of a fourth, so it could be like a tsunami soon. Only, that’s not the feeling I get. This third wave seems very sketchy to me. I’m not even convinced it’s a wave, more of a series of ripples. Okay, enough with the ocean metaphor! But you get my point. Feminism is having a moment.

Everybody’s feminist right now. It’s not just Emma Watson. Teresa May is a feminist, she literally bought the t-shirt and that Canadian prime minister bloke, and of course Obama and also Ryan Gosling, though that could be an irony thing. There’s even talk that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. They are f**king everywhere! So, here’s the thing? How is it that the patriarchy can withstand the force of their numbers? ‘Coz latest update on the patriarchy is, it’s still standing strong, holding its own, making gains in many areas. Globally and locally it continues to win a war many feminists on the ground will tell you no longer exists. So, what’s up with that?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I’m not, I’d say that patriarchal thinking had infiltrated the feminist movement to such an effective degree as to render it neutral. The movement is now so lacking in threat that it is allowed to grow, wild and without nurture, in the corners of the most feeble brains.

Feminism is an ever evolving concept, we are told. There is no need to know its history before you sign up. Only, there is, and it’s there in those very words. His Story. And he owned the words. And as long as he didn’t educate her, she might always believe he was smarter than her. ‘Course these days she’s educated, in some countries, and in many she can get her hands on the internet. And how must he play her now?

It calls to mind a recent article published in the Gaurdian about a feminist that attacked a life size statue of Trump during its unveiling ceremony in Madrid.  She was one of that femen crowd, so she was topless. Femen, you may remember, was the topless women’s rights movement, set up by a bloke. And yes, origins matter, as anyone who is familiar with the tale of Adam and Eve, can validate. What I want to know is why?

I know that makes me a philistine, ‘coz art, especially performance protest art speaks for itself. And also, to be fair to her, she was very clear. She wrapped her fist around Trumps plastic, clothed crotch and painted ‘grab patriarchy by the balls’ on her naked back. I still want to know why? To what effect? For what purpose has she stripped and risked arrest? Greater purpose that is, than five minutes of twitter notoriety and a story to bore her dinner guests with in a decades time. And, when you break it down, what was her real, exposed body, groping a plasic effigy actually saying? Her slogan echos very hallow against the stark portrayal of her powerlessness. And, I don’t think that was the look she was going for.

I’d like to compare the lone wolf femen agitator for social change with the more logical, considered and ultimately liberating Irish feminists, who in 1971, took a train from Belfast, carrying contraceptives where they were restricted but legal, to Dublin where they continued to be completely illegal for another eight years. In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that condoms became freely available. Picture that, folks! A world without johnies! This huge publicity stunt co-existed with the underground provision of contraception, thus the grassroots and the political, working together, created meaningful social change. And he quaked in his boots, ‘coz she created laws to stop him kicking her.

And that takes us the full circle back to what is feminism for? Take this Everyday Feminism, and after a quick scan of their vision, I’d rather leave it. Wtf are they selling? Seriously, it reads like a cross between a brahma kumaris leaflet and an early draft of some HR speech on political correctness for octogenarians still in the workplace. See, I like my feminism a bit more feminist, you know? I mean, its all well and good to save the dolphins and recognize the rights of indigenous people to self identify, but what are you doing about the rapists and perverts and the paedos? What’s your plan to keep the refuges open? When they close, more women have to remain living with violent men, and it’s really hard to find your zen when you’re not sure if you or your kids will make it though the night without a beating. How’s the fight for reproductive control going? ‘Coz if we lose that, on top of the refuges, and the legal aid, well then it’s going to take a lot more than a spot of yoga to redress the balance, don’t you think?

So, to summarise, yoga is great if you want to detox and re energise, but has proved singularly ineffective when used as a weapon of war, as the exiled Tibetan monks would surely testify. Feminism is a movement to agitate for the rights of women. When working properly it can change laws, create new laws, allow women autonomy over their own bodies, generate finances and power, facilitate education, free women’s minds and empower them to self realize beyond the confines of their patriarchal jailers. When defunct, it can’t do much, except spit out mindless art or intellectually warped philosophy and distract. And oh, how he laughs, but these oh so clever people, they don’t get the joke….

My debut novel Nailing Jess, published by Cranachan, is available for download for 99p on Amazon for the month of July.

Indyref2: A Resident’s Perspective

So, I don’t usually write about conventional political stuff like elections for a number of reasons, the most compelling being that I don’t know very much about such things and I don’t want to sound stupid. In recent years catastrophic national and global events like the failure of the Scottish Independence campaign, the failure to campaign of the U.K’s Remain in the E.U. campaign, and the mind-blowing headf***  that resulted in Donald Trump becoming president of the United States have made me somewhat less hesitant to voice my opinions. If I say something dumb, who might notice?

If the mainstream media are to be believed there are two major losers of this election, namely Theresa May and Scotland’s chances of holding a second referendum on Independence.  The immediate and constant conflating of these two separate issues serves to make all put the most ardent ‘Yes’ supporter (of which there are many) head for the Brexit highway and accept their fate. You could be forgiven for thinking the impending independence referendum had already been held and resoundingly lost.

As someone living in Scotland it’s left me feeling a bit confused. On the one hand, the mainstream media are selling Scottish Independence as dead. On the other hand, I speak to activists on the ground and they laugh at the arrogant suggestion that the fate of Scotland has been decided by a Westminster government.

They have a point. Whilst the SNP sustained losses, including the formidable Alex Salmond, they are unquestionably still in the game. Whilst a Tory revival is never a happy event, it is the predictable consolidation of the ‘No to independence’ vote behind the party least likely to ever lose a square mile of the once great, but now simply British, empire.

The message of these activists appears to be ‘Game On.’

So who to believe?

Is it possible that they could both be telling a truth?

‘Independence is Dead’ shouts the mainstream media and these very cries inflict blows on the cause.

‘Independence is Alive’ responds the ‘Yes’ movement of Scotland, and you have to believe them, because their actions breathe life into their campaign.

I wish I cared.

I did care. Last time around. The 2014 drive for Scottish Independence was so vibrant and infused with promise, expectation and possibility (much like the Corbyn movement) that I caught the bug and became one of those people that believed change was possible. I put a ‘Yes’ poster in my living room window, and pinned a ‘Yes’ badge on my handbag, and reveled in the comradeship on the street. Once awkward silences in the supermarket queue had morphed into animated conversations about our future autonomy and all the fun we would have and all the social justice we would create. I have since read a number of articles from ‘No’ supporters who campaigned under the now hallow ‘Better Together’ slogan portraying a time of deep division and bitter conflict, and I don’t recognise their descriptions. It was actually a blast to be living in Scotland in the run up to the last referendum.  There was as much hope as you will ever find in a people not noted for their cheery disposition.

Then we lost. It was a dark day. All those prospects of a bright future eclipsed by the power of the status quo. I was very sad. Many people were very sad.

But not the core activists. Strangely enough, they claimed their loss as a victory. Much like Corbyn’s team are doing right now. And the subsequent elections every year since have, more or less, validated their position. The S.N.P. are the biggest party in Hollyrood. The S.N.P. are the biggest Scottish party in Westminster. However you spin it, enough people in Scotland continue to support them to make the possibility of another referendum on Independence a valid option.

This may seem like a political broadcast on behalf of Scottish Nationalism but it isn’t. It’s an observation of how things actually are in Scottish politics, at this point in time. I’m not even sure how I’ll vote, when or if there is another vote on Independence. I do know that there are far greater threats to global security, and even British security, than the Scots flying solo.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is being released by Cranachan Publishing on June 26th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patriarchal Rumours

I’ve decided to splash out on some professional photos to aid with my metamorphosis from unknown writer to global brand.  I got them done yesterday, it only took about half an hour. That was the camera stuff, obviously. The pre shoot hair and make up took an awful lot longer. It’s not, I must say because I’m in particularly bad nick for my age. In fact given that I’ve never been a mistress of what theses days we call ‘clean living’, I reckon time’s been quite kind to me. It’s just I do look my age and that in our youth and image obsessed times is utterly unforgivable because I’m a woman. If I was a man, it would be absolutely fine because everybody knows men age.

Given that I’ve written a book where feminism is a major theme, then my look becomes even more important. Yes, I do hear the irony but with the rise of ironic sexism, feminism needs to catch up. Of course eventually we will reach a point where everything is ironic and the word irony shall cease to have meaning but people say we’re not there yet.

As a writer I spend a lot of my time in comfortable clothes, face bare, hair in scunchy, chipped nails pressing keys on a computer and I have to say, it’s a good look. Without getting too biblical it’s how God intended me to be, and given we have so little common ground, I want to give him this one. It’s not even that I’m a natural slob, it’s just that life is short and netflix is vast and there feels like so many more meaningful ways to spend my time than in front of a mirror painting out hard earned living. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m low maintenance, itself a sexist phrase but only when not used in an ironic context.

I worry that my attitude to my image will prove a barrier to global domination, but I can’t see me changing much at this stage in life. See, I know they say women can have it all only I’ve never been convinced. I’m not even sure who they are and where they came by their definition of ‘it all’.  It obviously wasn’t in a dictionary. Because of the elusive nature of ‘it all’ and in the interests of only producing, quality, researched blog material I typed ‘what does the ‘it all’ in the phrase ‘women can have it all’ mean?’into google and I have to say I didn’t find a lot of consensus. The general theme for ‘it all’ seems to be striking some kind of harmonious balance between professional and family life, and I feel compelled to point out that as a definition of ‘it all’, it falls far short of even a very broad one.  There are many more things in life that belong under the umbrella term of ‘it all’. What about stella artois? What about scented candles? What about pirated copies of the award winning ABC network show ‘How to get away with murder?’ What about the search for existentialist truth and the core connectivity of all living things and all inanimate matter?

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get at the phrase ‘women can have it all’. Bet I know where it comes from to, it’ll be one of those patriarchal rumours. Think about it – The sum of a woman’s desires reduced to working,nurturing and fucking, it’s got to be the patriarchy. For those unfamiliar with the term ‘patriarchal rumour’ – It’s a rumour, spread by the patriarchy, that is completely at odds with all scientific data and known information about the same subject. Other well worn examples include ‘Hell hath no fury greater than a woman scorned’ or ‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.’ Even the scantest amount of thought employed very quickly reaches the conclusion that the above statements like the aforementioned ‘have it all’ theory have no basis in fact whatsoever. Put simply, they are all utter bollox. I must say I’ve had it up to here with misinformation spawned by the patriarchy passing as truth. In fact, I think I’m going to drop them a line and tell them just that. If anyone is inspired by my bold move and wishes to follow suit then I shall provide an address for the patriarchy at the end of the post.

Dear Patriarchy,

Re: ‘Women can have it all’ rumour.

I don’t believe you and furthermore I, and I’m willing to wager, many women don’t want ‘it all’. In fact, were there to exist greater awareness that the sum of ‘it all’ equates to not very much at all, then I’m willing to further wager, even more women wouldn’t want it. Can you please desist from clogging up consciousness with ill conceived  gender generalizations and perhaps instead spend your time redressing the gender imbalance within the hierarchical structure of the workplace and the institutionalized misogyny in the legal system that leaves us struggling to get our hands on close to half of it. In layman’s terms – Stop stealing all the good stuff and most of the all right stuff and leaving us with all the shit stuff, when you leave us anything at all, and then maybe you wouldn’t have to make it up to us with empty promises and past their sell by date roses from a twenty four hour Tesco garage.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,

Triona Scully

Address for the patriarchy : The Patriarchy, F***ing Everywhere.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is released by Cranachan Publishing on June 26th.

Marketing to marijuana smokers.

I spent yesterday at the magic meadows festival and had the chance to hand out some flyers advertising my debut novel Nailing Jess, being released by Cranachan publishing on June 26th. It was fun but ultimately fraught, as I spent much of my time trying to size up who among the festival crowd was most likely to smoke marijuana. For two reasons.

Firstly, I like to tell tokers about my book, coz my main protagonist D.I. Jane Wayne is partial to a joint or seven. Secondly, I wanted to make sure as few of them as possible take home my flyers. It is a sad truth that no matter how much enthusiasm a smoker may appear to have about your artistic idea your flyer will be taken home and placed by a window sill or on the kitchen table, where at some future point it will be torn into strips and used as roachs for cannabis spliffs. Of course, this is the long term fate of all Edinburgh flyers that don’t wind up in re-cycling bins, but if you are actively handing your publicity material to known or suspected weed smokers, then it is likely you will accelerate this process considerably.

It’s not an easy task to weed out the smokers in any crowd of people. In fact, it’s almost impossible. The young and those with a point to prove may blow it in your face, but in general most people who partake of illegal substances don’t advertise it. They don’t want to get in trouble.

It’s bewildering why dope remains illegal in a time when you can inject your own ass into your face. A 2011 call for a review of the U.K. drugs legislation by The Global Commission on Drugs Policy was rejected by the then prime minister, David Cameron. “We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs (sic) are illegal because they are harmful — they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.” It’s an interesting viewpoint, but doesn’t actually answer the question – Why is marijuana illegal?  Especially when you couple it with the knowledge that alcohol is legal in the U.K.

The Oxford dictionary definition of drug is as follows: Drug – Noun – ‘A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.’ Re-read this definition, if you will, and recognise that this statement applies to most of what we eat or drink.

But, there will no serious talk of criminalising pie eating any time soon. Or introducing some kind of fine system for caffeine abuse, modeled perhaps on parking tickets, with the requirement that all coffee users be subject to random piss tests.

And as for prohibiting the sale of alcohol…

I’ve never got my head round the hypocrisy of a society that pretends alcohol is safer than weed. It’s such a mind numbingly ill informed opinion, and is completely unsupported by any evidence based or anecdotal data.  Think about it, how often is exclusive marijuana use a mitigating factor in a crime?  How many football hooligans tear up the centre of foreign cities, after having a few tokes at the back of the stands? How many rounds of a bong, before a group of stoners turn native and kick f*** out of each other?

The phenomena of drexting is a wonderful example of the universally held truth – that people do really stupid things when they consume alcohol to excess. Drexting, as defined by techopedia – ‘Texting friends, family, coworkers and significant others while intoxicated.’ I would add texting exs, people you hate, and people you cyber stalk to the endless list of individuals that may find themselves a victim of a drexter’s ill advised 4 a.m. rant.  The word stexting does not exist in Techopedia. That’s because stoned people don’t lose inhibition and reason to the the point where contacting someone that they haven’t seen since 2006 seems like a good idea.

All this talk of the idiocy of our drug laws has distracted me from the purpose of this piece. How to minimise the number of Nailing Jess postcards that will wind up in badly rolled 4 a.m. joints. The absolute truth is I can’t. And, thinking it over, I’m not sure it matters. Yeah, sure, they’re postcards of my book and I think they’re a work of art, a collectors item even. But many smokers turn joint rolling into an art form, so it’s actually a form of up-cycling. All I ask is that you put Nailing Jess to the back of the pile and smoke all the Vote Tory stuff first.

Still crazy after all these years…

I was somewhat of a neurotic kid, and I went on to be come an even more neurotic teenager. For most of my twenties the neurosis was clinical, tapering off to a more manageable ‘we’re all a bit crazy’ in my early thirties. Then something spectacular happened, I had a baby and it knocked the neurosis clean out of me.

I know many women go the other way, and I guess I got lucky. There’s something about the constant immediacy of a helpless living creature that focuses the mind entirely, and the urge to obsess about an incident in a bar in the early nineties dissipates completely. Like all the best metamorphosis, I can barely remember how I used to be, and I often think I make up stories about my misspent youth, just to sound interesting.

More recently, I’m starting to suspect that all my tall tales weren’t actually that tall at all. As crazy creeps into my bedroom at 4 a.m., and shakes me awake with another barrage of unhelpful what if scenarios, I long for a howling baby who shuts up when you feed it. Crazy, on the other hand, is a lot harder to put to sleep. If I engage, then the possibilities are infinite. What if no-one reads the book?  quickly becomes What if they do and they hate it? which begets the question Why would they hate it? which invites the answer They won’t hate it, if they do, it’s because they don’t get it  which poses the query Why won’t they get it? What’s not to get? which prompts the response They won’t get me! They won’t get me!, and suddenly it’s 1993 again, and there’s this incident in a bar…

Only, it’s not the nineties. I’m painfully aware of this, as I sip chamomile tea instead of sinking back Stella – the young lad gets very judgey if I’m drunk before breakfast. It’s all the exposure, see? It’s driving me a bit nuts. I know that’s ironic, ‘coz that’s what creatives types crave – attention, an audience.

Pondering this paradox takes another half hour, and the ship sails on getting more sleep tonight. That starts me worrying about my future lack of energy. How will it affect my performance and drive, in the days ahead, when I need to be on top of my game? Wtf did I become a race horse? It’s very confusing, all this sub-dividing of self into other parts. One part creative- one part seller – one part promoter – one part cheerleader. Just to be clear, I never signed signed off on the cheerleader part. That’s the self that hasn’t already been subdivided by Motherhood. One part carer – one part teacher – one part nurse – one part cleaner – one part cook – one part play mate – one part playstation repairer- one part social representative for your child in the outside world. So, keep your hair washed, and your nails clipped, or he might not get an invite to you know who’s party.

Now, I know other women do all this s*** and never complain, except to each other, where they are always sure to find a captive audience of empaths. Even then, there’s always a caveat about how much they love whoever they’re wishing harm on. Normally, those they’re compelled to care for. Why would you want to kill strangers unless your a psychopath? Which, statistically, most women aren’t.

Except in Nailing Jess, my debut novel, out on June 26th. Withering, the novel’s setting, is overrun with female psychopaths, which is one reason why you should read it. Another is that it’s very funny.

 

The Hard Sell

ARC – Advanced Readers Copies of my debut novel ‘Nailing Jess’ arrived about two weeks ago. Most of time since, has been divided between staring at them, a stupid post sex grin on my face, and stroking the cover, running my fingernails across the title and my name. The other thing I’ve been doing is handpicking influential people I want to read one and approaching them personally, asking them to do so.

So far, so textbook. I’m lucky, I’m on the ground in one of the cultural capitals of the world -Edinburgh. My home for many years, the birth place of my son and the first city that ever showed me kindness. The six degrees of separation rule halves in a city like this and you are never more than an overprised latte away from somebody who knows somebody whose floor Russell Brand crashed on in the early nineties.

I’m also lucky in that I’m an extrovert. I love having conversations with people, especially strangers. When somebody interrupts my reading on a train, to drunkenly tell me why their ex is such a prick, my eyes light up.

With this in mind, I have managed to orchestrate a few meetings with individuals I really want to have a copy of my book, and persuade them to take one.  Persuade is perhaps the wrong verb. In actuality, once you stand square in front of someone, a copy of your debut novel thrust into their space, they have to be harder than Ray Winstone to hand it back to you. The real challenge is getting them to read it.

So far, still text book. Last week, I had the pleasure of handing a lovely lady – hello lovely lady! – who works at the Edinburgh International Book Festival a copy of my book. At a guess, this woman gets handed a half dozen free debuts every week.  The front cover of my debut saysNailing Jess‘ – “The most shocking book you’ll read this year”

‘You must be happy your publishers wrote that,’ the lovely lady observed. Now, you might think I seized this opportunity to give it the hard sell by saying something like ‘Actually, I’m a bit concerned they’re understating it. I wanted them to go with ‘Nailing Jess’ – ”The most shocking book you will ever read” or ‘Nailing Jess’ – “A book so shocking you may never read again”

You might think I would use such a sentence as a chance to dazzle her with my profound intellect and innate authors ability to articulate. Don’t forgot she’s a literary type. I could have replied ‘What they are referring to is the subversive nature of the book’s core premise.  Namely, that the innate maleness – in origins, in concept, in design and delivery of the patriarchal structure mean that any apparent gains of any ideology opposed to it, are in fact an illusion.’ The trouble with this strategy is with every big word you use, you increase the chances of losing your train of thought and inadvertently sounding silly.

To avoid this, you might have think I could have led with with a more conversational approach. Referring to the fact that my book is set in a matriarchy I could have said. ‘It’s only shocking, coz it’s happening to blokes. Everything that happens in my book – well not quite everything – happens in the real world, every day, somewhere to some woman. And we are not shocked by that at all.’

Alas, retrospect and it’s all knowing analysis, have in no place in actual real time. ‘Nailing Jess’ – ‘The most shocking book you’ll read this year’  ‘You must be happy your publishers wrote that,’ says she. I find myself blushing, and mumbling ‘Well, they have to say something don’t they?’

So lovely lady, if you’re reading this, they didn’t have to say that, they choose to market my book with this line because they believe it.

Nailing Jess – Reading is Believing

Nailing Jess published by Cranachan out June 26th 2017.