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Posted in advice, education, Film and TV, People, People and Lives

Murdered for Being Different.

I have failed to post for three months now. This post, however, is too important not to write.

Tonight, I finally sat down, amongst my abundance of moving boxes and cleaning supplies, to watch Paul Andrew Williams’ Murdered for Being Different and I am in awe.

To say that I am in awe seems almost thoughtless. That something of this measure could be considered wonderful and incredible seems unjust. Yet, those are just a handful of words that I could use to describe this BBC drama.

Telling the harrowing story of the murder of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, Murdered for Being Different is a tale of love and hate. With almost 70,000 reported Hate Crimes in Great Britain alone last year, the importance of telling this story is so astonishingly clear.

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Image courtesy of BBC.

Nick Leather’s script delivers this story so well, recording such an unfair and one-sided crime that was unprovoked and so plainly unnecessary. It begs the question: why not choose love? Why are we each not celebrated for our differences, rather than our similarities? Humans were not created to fit a mold. We have our own minds, our own opinions and our own beliefs. That is what is so beautiful about humankind and to pretend otherwise is to provide a disservice to ourselves as well as those around us.

I am keen not to go into too much detail of this tale, though many of you will remember this story from ten years ago when Sophie died due to the injuries that she sustained when she and her boyfriend, Rob, were assaulted purely because of their gothic looks. I do not want to go into these details because I am of the firm belief that everybody should watch this story themselves. Never would I want to write a post that makes you feel that you have already seen it because never could I deliver such an important tale so eloquently.

It feels wrong to call Murdered for Being Different a ‘story’ or a ‘drama’ because it is true. It has happened. Sophie was murdered and this cannot be denied. Yet, this is what it is: a true story that is yours to watch, to learn from and to hold in your heart.

Based on this tragic tale alone, Murdered for Being Different is extraordinary yet the added wonder of Paul Andrew Williams’ direction, Vanessa Whyte’s cinematography and a phenomenal use of music make this drama a cinematic masterpiece. From the very first second, when we are reintroduced to the “world of pure imagination” that transports us straight back to our childhoods, we are hooked on the tale that is about to unfold. We are drawn into a love story of two young adults who had their entire lives ahead of them, but mostly, we are drawn to Sophie, who never had the chance to see how her life would turn out or even to see the movie world of Harry Potter come to its end.

Murdered for Being Different is haunting and beautiful, harrowing and chilling, heart-wrenching and imperative. My heart stayed in my throat throughout but the last fifteen minutes will make you rethink everything you have ever thought of the world. I have never felt such heartache when watching television and I mean that in the most wonderful way.

Film and television is such a powerful medium for storytelling and this is no exception. Murdered for Being Different is, quite possibly, Williams’ best work. A must-see.

 

(I have linked every reference to Murdered for Being Different in this post to BBC iPlayer so that you, Reader, have no excuse not to watch it. Thank you.)

Posted in About Me, People, People and Lives

I Quit Sugar: Days 2, 3 and 4.

I have not had sugar for four days. Honestly, I feel better than I thought I would.

Day Two was a good day. I had no cravings and felt fine physically. I did get a little hungry at work, especially when my colleagues were eating chocolate, but I held off from eating until I left work. I went straight to the supermarket after work to buy some fresh ingredients like meat and vegetables, and discovered Warburton Wholemeal Protein bread, which has no sugar in and tastes delicious. I bought the Warbuton Thins but will definitely buy a loaf next time because the bread was delicious. I ate this with some cooked chicken breast and some Pure sunflower spread: the perfect easy dinner after a long day.

What did I eat on Day 2?

Breakfast: Overnight oats (yoghurt and porridge oats) with mixed berries, mango and a dash on honey.

Lunch: Wholewheat pasta, tuna, kale and a sprinkling of soy sauce.

Dinner: A chicken sandwich with protein bread.

Day Three was where things started to get a little bit tricky. Continue reading “I Quit Sugar: Days 2, 3 and 4.”

Posted in About Me, People, People and Lives

I Quit Sugar: Day One.

I quit sugar.

Not all sugars, but refined sugar. I quit.

Today marks Ash Wednesday. This is just another Wednesday for some people but, for me, it marks my commitment to forty-six days of sacrifice. As Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days, I will give up something that tempts me for the next forty-six days (forty fasting days, plus Sundays which are typically non-fast days).

My decision to quit sugar did not come lightly. I have given up many things for Lent in the past: coffee, crisps, chocolate. I have always succeeded so it is not my doubt in myself that makes me question what I am choosing to go without. More than that, it is my want for sugar. Do I want to stop consuming sugar? My birthday is always during Lent. Do I really want to not get to eat my favourite birthday cake?

Last year, I gave up chocolate, as I believed it had the added benefit of not just being a sacrifice but also a great weight loss tool as I didn’t like cakes and biscuits that much. It turns out, however, that, when you can’t eat chocolate, you learn to love cake and biscuits and I gained weight instead! I knew that, this year, I had to work ten times harder and really sacrifice something that I, currently, cannot live without. The obvious choice was sugar.

Continue reading “I Quit Sugar: Day One.”

Posted in About Me, Film and TV, People, People and Lives

“Write what you know.”

It seems that this blog has become a distant memory in my mind. I do this a lot: pick up a hobby and drop it just as quickly. I have always been the kind of person who gets very bored very easily; it is an unfortunate trait passed down to me by my mother. I never set out to quit but it does seem to be an inevitable part of my life. This blog appears to have fallen into that category recently which is a shame because I do love an outlet.

It has been said by many, but mostly by me, that I spend far too much time on social media. I spend an awful lot of time tweeting or sending snaps. This is because I spend an awful lot of time alone. Since leaving university, where it felt like I had friends on tap at some points, I seem to spend most of my non-working hours sat on my bed with Netflix on and an intense game of Sudoku open on my phone. Occasionally a somewhat ‘interesting’ thought will spring into my head and I will feel that intense need to share it with somebody. But who? Who is interested? The correct answer is ‘nobody’ but, alas, once a thought is in my head, I must share it and so, there I go again, opening Twitter and sending a sprawl of nonsensical, random and completely-uninteresting-to-anybody-who-isn’t-me tweets.

Continue reading ““Write what you know.””

Posted in About Me, Film and TV, People, People and Lives

“We could be each other’s soul mates”: Friendship and feelings.

It is 2016 and everybody is afraid of their feelings. Why is it so normal to keep your thoughts bottled up inside? Why is it not our first instinct to tell that person that you really miss them? Why can’t I tell my friends that I love them? Why are we so afraid?

Continue reading ““We could be each other’s soul mates”: Friendship and feelings.”

Posted in About Me, People, People and Lives

Untitled.

I didn’t have a good evening. I didn’t have a good day.

I left work this evening tired and slow. It was a long day. A typical Monday, you may say. It wasn’t bad but it dragged and I struggled to keep my eyes open. It was dark because the weather was bad and the sterile lights of dozens of computer screens puts a real strain on your eyes after eight and a half hours.

I left work this evening cheerful. I walked out with my friend. We laughed, spoke about our plans for the evening and laughed some more. He went one way to his car. I went the other. I live close to work. It’s a twenty minute journey at most and, after sitting down all day, I crave that walk home where I get the chance to stretch my legs and my back and breathe a bit of fresh air.

Today was different.

I said goodbye to my friend and I crossed the road and turned right onto a main road. There were a lot of cars at standstill, waiting for a gap in the roundabout traffic ahead so they could, like me, go home and relax for the evening. I walked past a silver car with its windows down and, inside it, I heard men talking. I didn’t listen to their conversation. My mother raised me well. It isn’t polite to eavesdrop. Besides, I presumed they were talking to each other and not to me. After all, I didn’t know them from Adam.

I continued walking, mindlessly thinking about putting on my pyjamas, crawling into bed and watching EastEnders. Maybe I’d play a couple of games of Sudoku if I was really looking to treat myself.

I was about two cars in front of the silver car when I heard his voice, calling me. He sounded polite. I thought that maybe I had dropped something and he was getting my attention so I’d notice. I turned around and the man beckoned me with his finger. Alarm bells rang. I looked at him with “Are you serious?” eyes, said “Er no,” turned around and continued to walk, getting to the roundabout that had everybody at a standstill.

It always takes me a while to cross that road but I prayed that today would be an exception. Behind me, the silver car honked its horn and its passenger continued calling me, yelling unintelligble phrases along with “Excuse me, come back.”

Occassionally, I heard “bum.”

Did I have something on my trousers?

I didn’t want to chance it so I looked the other way and hoped a gap in the traffic would present itself quickly. There was a brief one so I legged it. This was unlike me but I wanted to get away. I didn’t know what they were saying and past experience and stories from many of my female friends told me that I shouldn’t wait to find out.

I stepped out into the road and the car honked its horn again. They were driving past me. This time, I couldn’t escape them. I was looking that way to ensure I wasn’t about to be run over so how could I ignore them?

The passenger leant out the window and the things he said he wanted to do to me were disgusting.

As quickly as it happened, it was over and I was stood on the island in the middle of the road, stunned.

I had rolled my eyes at him to pretend I didn’t care but the moment that car had disappeared, my eyes pricked with the threat of tears and I felt the burn of my cheeks turning red.

How humiliating.

In front of dozens of cars and people, in the middle of the Hertfordshire rush hour, two young men felt that they had the right to degrade and objectify me.

Who gave them this right?

I felt dirty. I felt ashamed. I began to question myself.

How was I walking? Was I asking for their comments with the way I dressed? Were my bootcut tailored trousers and long white shirt too sultry? What about my denim jacket that hid the outline of the camisole I wear underneath it? Was my tired, “I can’t wait to crawl into bed” walk mesmerising for them? Did they see everything they wanted in my dull, unbrushed hair and make up-less face?

Why was it okay for them to yell at me the grotesque acts they wanted to undertake with my body?

Why was it acceptable to make a twenty-one-year-old woman cry in the road?

What’s funny, and yet not, is that I thought of things I could say back to them. I thought of things I could yell at them but I didn’t. I didn’t because that voice in my head told me that the people around me in the surrounding cars would be disgusted by those unladylike words. They would think poorly of me because of the choice phrases I so wanted to throw at those boys. But nobody stepped in and stopped them. None of the people walking by. Nobody else with their windows open, watching these actions take place from their own safe havens, inside their cars.

I don’t blame them. I wonder if I would help if I saw another girl in my situation. Would I be too scared that they would do the same to me? Probably.

I wouldn’t usually cry. Unsurprisingly (or maybe surprisingly for some of you), this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

From the little things, like the men making comments as I bought bananas in ASDA in May, to the bigger, like the man who tried to grab me in a subway while I walked my dog when I was fifteen. The man who, by the way, tried to grab several girls around that time, all of whom gave statements and all of whom (including me) have to see him when they go to the shops for a pint of milk or wait at the bus stop because he was never charged.

To the friend who used my anxieties over that incident to coax me into his house, make me feel comfortable and then used my trust against me to try and make me perform unthinkable acts on him or the guy who kissed me at university and when I wouldn’t go home with him, spread rumours about me to our friends.

From the men who shout at me and my friends in the street, asking us to take off our clothes, to the boys on nights out who feel that they have the right to grope us in a dark room and that we won’t mind.

I cried tonight because it had all built up.

From the man last week who told me I needed breakdown cover purely because “you will break down because you’re a little girl” to those slimeballs who beeped and shouted at me along a main road in pure daylight in front of dozens of people today.

I have had enough of the misogyny that is still so evidently in effect in today’s society. I am so privileged to live in England where, as a woman, I am mostly equal. The occassional situation that scares me or upsets me brings my opinions on my country down so much. England is great. England is wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else (except maybe Lapland) but why do a small percentage of men find it acceptable to make women like me feel dirty, ashamed, embarrassed, anxious, scared, upset, disgusted and self-conscious?

My mum, as her job, helps and hears stories from people of all genders, ages, races and backgrounds who have been a part of horrendous and horrifying acts, acts I could never imagine. Why is this still happening?

I am sad today. I want this over now. It’s 2016. Give us our freedom. Give us our safety.

 

Post-word: I am well aware that, compared to many, I have it easy. I am also well aware that this happens to men too. This post is purely my way of letting my feelings about today and the past few weeks (where this happened quite a few times) off of my chest. Love and blessings to all of you xo