Tuesday, 24 November 2015

My Story For The Milifandom: Our Friend (Sort Of) Knew The Miliband Brothers

So, I randomly posted on my Tumblr the other day about some stories a family friend told us who knew the Miliband brothers as kids, and thought I might as well share it here, since there's currently a load of DRAMA in UK politics, and it's bringing back memories of the infamous Miliband brothers' feud in the leadership contest of 2010. So, here's the text from my Tumblr post, copied and pasted:

OK, by popular demand, lolitics fans, some true stories about the childhood of  Ed and David Miliband from our family friend that knew them as kids:

Family friend’s husband was one of two boys about the same age as David & Ed respectively. He was the younger so his elder brother would play with David and him with Ed. (How they knew them-their parents were acquaintances with the Miliband parents and they had holiday/summer cottages near each other or something.)
Both of them were really geeky but David was less so and was definitely the more confident one, and the more sociable. Ed was shyer, quieter and SUPER geeky.
Family friend thought Ed was nice enough but at the time “a bit weird” because of his interests, etc. He didn’t talk about politics all the time-they knew each other from when they were little kids to sort-of teenage years, I think-but he was into it and numbers, too. Ed was really into numbers and was always carrying around a book.
Family friend didn’t mind Ed but thought he was a bit of a telltale. :D He said Ed would run to the adults a lot and he thought, being a kid, that Ed was a bit of a wimp.
However, he WAS really impressed with the fact Ed Mili was super smart and always had a book, etc.
David Miliband and family friend’s elder brother used to hang out and Ed & family friend would try to tag along but David M & friend’s elder brother would try to ditch them. :D
David Miliband was less geeky and into playing football. He and friend’s elder brother would play football. Ed always wanted to join in but wasn’t allowed because he was no good. :( Poor lil thing.
Family friend would also want to join in but would be made to “keep Ed company” or as he called it “getting stuck with Ed.” :D :D
Ed really looked up to David and wanted to be like his big brother. :( He’d get a bit upset/sulky when David wouldn’t let him join in with the games. :(:(
Remember, I’m getting all this through a family friend's husband so I’m taking his word for it. :)


So, there's a story. Now, I feel like I can start playing six degrees of separation. Think I'll draw a line at calling Ed Miliband "Buddy" though. The Milifandom would murder me.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

In The Aftermath, OTPs And The Great Sunbed Argument

Part of having a dad who's a part-time musician/used-to-be musician is that listening to music in the car is sometimes an exercise in "Which one of these did Dad know?" The other day, while my dad and I were driving down the road (which I posted on my Instagram as "She Way Out" by The 1975 was playing at one point, which was too fantastic to let go), he put on a song and then reminded me that I'd run around a kid's play area with one of the lead singer's/guitarist's daughters when we were kids, who was a bit younger than me. I remembered it, a family holiday when I was about ten. (The song was "African and White" by China Crisis.) The other side of my dad's career, incidentally, is being a private detective, which my cousins used to think meant he got to conceal James Bond-style weapons in a guitar.

In the last week, the news has been filled with war and fear and constant wondering if we're all going to be safe or not.  It feels like attack after attack litters the news. It's also a time that leaves me watching Labour-the Opposition party here in the UK-and thinking "Get your act together, for God's sake." I'm non-partisan, but lately it's been harder and harder to think I'll ever vote for them. One of the downright simple criteria for me with politics is that I'd feel safe if these guys were in charge. With the way Labour is now? No way. Anyone who's on my Twitter will have seen me ranting about that though so enough about it for now. At the moment, I've got "In The Woods Somewhere" by Hozier playing which gives a sufficiently dramatic vibe.
(On another note to do with Labour, I shared a story on Tumblr about our family friend who was childhood friends with the Miliband brothers, but I'll save that for tomorrow.)

In the meantime, winter leaves me down with what we've always suspected is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but has never actually been diagnosed. Dad gets the same way so today Mum endured both of us sitting there, looking like the world had ended.

"You get SAD too?" she said to my dad, and my dad blinked. "I get SAD too? SAD TOO? Lydia gets SAD from me! I am the original SAD!"

Our family know all too well that you can find humour in a lot of weird stuff when you're dealing with feeling down for absolutely no reason.

Mum suggested a lamp. A lamp that had colours that reportedly help to lighten someone's mood.

"A lamp?"

"Two lamps."

Dad burst out laughing. "Yeah, I can see us comparing them. "What colour's your lamp?""Mine's blue." "Mine's green." "Fascinating."

"Oh, shut up." This was my mum (jokingly) who then said "The two of you need to get more fresh air. Start walking."
To my dad, this is like a suggestion of chopping his leg off so he spluttered "But-but-I thought we were getting a sunbed!"
"A sunbed?"
"To get light in for winter!"
"When did I say we were getting a sunbed?"
"You haven't. But I just thought it would be a good idea."
"We do not need a sunbed."

For a family of high IQs, the sunbed argument was deemed rather important. However, they both found the time to join in with my general ecstasy at discovering a song that fitted all my OTPs, as both of them are-thanks to me-aware of various fandoms, OTPs, shippings, even though they remain rather puzzled by it all.
The song was "Like Real People Do" by Hozier if you're interested and it's below with the Destiel video I originally found it on (and yes, Destiel is one of my OTPs that I absolutely refuse to accept is not an endgame OTP.)

Tonight, walking in from the cold, my father still hadn't let go of the petition from earlier.

"You know, we could still get a sunbed."

One thing you learn in my family is persistence.

Friday, 13 November 2015


I was going to write about the walk home in the dark, standing in the bus stop in the darkness and watching the streetlamps flicker in the autumn night. I was going to write about watching the John Lewis advert over and over again. I was going to write about having another short story published. I was going to write about not blogging enough.

But then Paris happened.

We were watching Gogglebox. We were laughing at Leon and June and their comments on Billy Elliott. We turned over to Newsnight. We heard the words "shootings" and saw ambulances. We heard "Paris." And then it was all different.

My friend was in France. She'd been in Paris, as far as I knew. I logged onto Twitter, shivering. There were tears prickling at my eyes. I felt as though I was about to be sick. I typed a message to her. No response.

My timeline was screaming with messages of horror. I'm sitting in front of the news right now, staring at the BBC, Twitter refreshing constantly. I hadn't spoken to my friend in ages. Nothing bad had happened between us, we just hadn't spoken much.

On the BBC website, it had breaking news about hostages. I ran upstairs to grab my phone and it was dead. I was shaking it and it wouldn't work. I felt like I was going to vomit. There were bodies on the news. My friend said she and her friends went out at night sometimes. My mother was on the edge of the couch, staring at the news. My dad was hugging a cushion. Any thought of going to bed that I'd had a few minutes ago was gone. I sat there, waiting. Wild thoughts raced around my mind about it being a sick, wild joke. It felt like an hour had changed everything.

Still no word from my friend. I started praying. She's a devout Christian, and I knew it couldn't hurt. I couldn't remember when I last spoke to her. Please, let her be safe.

I frantically typed a message to our other friend. She knows our friend in France far better. She would know where she was. I typed her a message. Please. Please. Is she in Paris? Where is she?

I felt like I was going to be sick. I felt hot and cold at once. I was shivering. I didn't know whether I was going to cry or scream. I was shaking.

My ipod pinged. It was a Twitter message. I dived for it.

My friend was there. "She's not in Paris, girlie. She's in the south of France, near Marseille."
I felt like I was going to collapse. I didn't cry but I held onto the phone and all I could type was "Thank God."

I'm still sitting in front of the news. I'm sitting here, shivering and it's only now that I can feel the shock, sending sickness into my stomach. My mother is next to me so I don't have to watch it alone. My father is tracking the news upstairs on the BBC newsfeed. It feels like the end of the world. Like this is what the end of the world will be like.

I watch Obama speak and as weird as it is, I kind of want our Prime Minister to come out there and speak too. It sounds incredibly weird, but I suppose right now's when everyone feels a sense of patriotism, of wanting someone to come out and provide some reassurance when there can almost certainly be none. For some reason, it would feel better to see our leaders too, to know that there's something we can do.

Right now, we're waiting. We're waiting and praying and watching. There are hostages now. It feels like everything ending. I'm watching with my family and on the Internet, it feels like the world is watching too.

My friend is safe. I hang onto that. We watch and we pray. We watch and hope and pray and we are all watching together. Right now, all of us, no matter how different, are watching. All of us are watching together.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

No Doesn't Mean Yes

One of the Best Friends is over, and we spend the afternoon slumped on the couch, watching the BBC show Is This Rape: Sex On Trial? It's a weird thing to see, kids our age who don't know what has always been imparted to us since we were old enough to know what sex is, don't know that just because she doesn't say no doesn't mean she says yes.

One of them says a smile could be a signal and I look at JW (they're not her initials. I used to call her John Watson to my Sherlock Holmes. I'm not sure how much she liked it) and say "If that was the truth, then that would mean that every guy I've smiled at I want to have sex with."
She bursts out laughing because she couldn't imagine anything further than the truth.

In the show, the defence barrister asks the girl about photos she's sent, the way she was behaving, and it makes me angry enough to throw something at the screen because none of that matters. None of that was that moment, that second in time when she was assaulted, when she wasn't asked if she consented and was too terrified to move.

She was blamed in court, the way so many real girls are blamed in court. As though they have asked to be assaulted. It was awful to watch. As if whatever a girl wears, whatever photos she takes of herself, justifies a sexual assault. The emphasis is on the ruination of the boy's life; not the ruination of the girl's.

I won't write the outcome of the trial in the show but it's something that I felt like I needed to watch. I needed to watch it because it was scary. I needed to watch it because it was frightening to learn that some boys would object to a person who raped being called a rapist because of the effect it would have on the boy's life-as if his was so much more important than the girl he had attacked, than the damage she'd carry with her forever. It was frightening to watch because it was an awful picture of the truth.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Three Calliopes, Little Comets and This Charming Man

My dad and I are listening to music one night when he asks me "Do you think there's a connection between people who are really creative, people who could be called a genius, and people who have a mental illness?" We talk about the book Touched By Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison, and he plays me clips of Pete Doherty talking about the Libertines, which I listen to until three in the morning. "When you make a guitar" he tells me. "You have to get the wood exactly the right thickness. Too thick and it sounds terrible. Too thin and the whole thing just shatters. It has to be exactly the right thickness." He watches Pete Doherty talking quietly, like his voice might dissolve and then says "Whenever I hear him talk, he reminds me of that."
At night, sometimes I'll get hold of memories when I was little, of my mother sitting with me cuddled up on her knee while she watched Prime Minister's Questions every Wednesday lunchtime. When I was three, I grabbed my dad's Private Eye and giggled at the picture of Tony Blair on the front, before deciding I found Calvin and Hobbes more interesting. My parents carried me up and down the stairs when I couldn't sleep, singing "This Charming Man" until I nodded off. When my cousins and I were running about, scribbling stories on piece of paper while we ran through the woods and around the lakes near one of the summer homes we stay in, my mother affectionately called us the Three Calliopes.
I sleep strangely, sometimes closing my eyes at six in the morning and sleeping until four in the afternoon. Other times, I wake up at ten and sleep for an hour in the afternoon. It's a weird thing, but there's something that makes me feel safer at night, when I'm awake writing or listening to music.
Bethany and I did an interview about Doll Hospital, which you can find here, and I've had two more articles published by the Huffington Post, which is great. It's a strange thing, to feel up and down at once. It sometimes seems like it's all I write about.

Last night, I escape from the thoughts for a while when I see two of the Best Friends and we curl up together on the couch, watching a Bill Murrary film (St.Vincent, if you're interested) and start singing Christmas music now that Halloween is over. I remember Halloween when we were kids, especially the year our parents took me and my cousins out for trick or treating and then brought us back for a surprise Halloween party, our big eyes round and bright in the dancing flames of the candles.
Over the last few days, I listen to "Salt" by Little Comets over and over. It's a song that sounds like someone screaming under a laugh and once I learn what the song's about, it's sadder than ever.