Words in E –Minor proudly presents….An Interview With Me

I have a confession to make. I’ve cheated.

Being the busy social butterly I am, I haven’t actually had chance to write a full and detailed blog post like I know you have come to expect (the shame). It is a cruel and busy world out there, but worry not, I will not let you down. Like any good 90s child, I have taken the teachings of Blue Peter to heart so here’s one I prepared earlier. Oosh.

Before getting into it I have a few points of interest from the weekend that I’m going to just drop in for you – I like to keep you all abreast of my life.

– We went down to visit my mother for a few days and I am glad to report she is holding out admirably against the elements determined to rain all over her parade (rather literally). Perhaps not quite as dramatically as some parts of the world, she’s has nevertheless had to deal with a natural disaster and was woken up one night last week to find water gushing in through the back door and sweeping poor BobCat off his paws. Rather dishearteningly, she’s going to have to have entirely new flooring and is currently living with enough industrial fans to re-enact a late 80s soft core rock video, but she is maintaining a strong and (mostly) postive attiude (read – heavy sarcasm) and the cats are gradually recovering. We did spend the majority of the time there with the three of us tucked up on her bed like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (being as there was no power and limited furniture downstairs), but we left her with a smile on her face and the promise of further assistance whenever required, so things were looking up

– The weekend took a dramatic turn of events when TMM tried to kill me by dropping an apple the size of a watermelon on my face. We were gathering some of the bounitful harvest that Mother’s garden had provided (like the adorable little hobbits we are) when I was brutally attacked and nearly blinded when an apple catapulted from the branch TMM was fettling with. He says it was an accident but I remain dubious. Annoyingly I don’t have anything apart from a tiny red mark to show for it, but I can promise it was very dramatic.


An innocent scene, before everything took a dark and violent turn

–  You’ll all be glad to know that Operation Prepare for Christmas is well under way. It’s excellent – there’s wool everywhere. Bucky is being very well behaved considering and I’ve only had to bat him away once or twice. He does have to sit very close to me though so he can keep an eye on things and make sure I don’t need saving from a savage wool beast. My hero.

–  Speaking of the Buckmiester General, the furry little bugger has some how injured himself and I reacted, as any good parent should, with complete hysteria. It isn’t much more that a semi-deep scratch on his paw (and it can’t even be that sore because he let me prod and poke it for ages without so much as a wince), but I was VERY concerned and made TMM research pet antiseptic creams just to be on the safeside. #seriouscatparent

With those announcements out of the way, I’ll get on to the main event. I’ve got a couple of little nuggets like this saved up for such eventualities from when I researched best blogging protocol. Apparently, readers are very interested in lists, personal details and small comedic interludes, so I’ve combined all 3 into a Listicle – 10 things you might not know about me (unless you’re TMM because he basically knows more about me than I do these days). I’m unsure how well it’ll go down, but at least it gives you all something to read on an Tuesday evening (and please feel free to share your own personal facts, or judge me heavily).

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

First Kiss

So it turns out I can’t actually remember my first kiss. How awful is that? According to TV and young adult books, the first kiss is the realisation of sexuality and the pinnacle of your youth. Your whole life blossoms from that point and  you look back fondly with misty screen and singing cherubs. Proving once again that I like to buck the social trend, when I tried to think back on this monumental and life changing event, I came up completely blank.

It’s not that I think it was particularly scarring and therefore have scrubbed it from my memory, nor is it that I actively tried to disregard anything relating to it. And it’s not as though I can’t remember other such key life events – I vividly remember my first kiss with TMM, though that might have been because he came at me with a knife.

*Side Note* it wasn’t as threatening as it sounds. It was St Patricks Day and as any good Uni student should, our not so little gang had all covered ourselves with as much green as we possibly could. I was in charge of drawing all the cheek shamrocks with my green eyeliner pencil (I say mine, it was definitely my sister’s – sorry) but being somewhat tipsy, mostly I was just smudging great green blobs on people and rather horrifically blunting the pencil. Ross proclaimed to be able to sharpen it for me, dragged me into the kitchen where he proceeded to produce the most inappropriately sized knife for the job and then promptly forgot all about sharpening it in favour of snogging my face off.)

I can equally remember the first time meeting each of my besties, graduating and my mother’s wedding. The first kiss though? Nada. I can only hope whoever it was with doesn’t remember it either….


He might not have been my first kiss, but he’s certainly my favourite.


I apparently have weird elbows (and possibly knees). After countless years of being awful at PE and failing most physical activities, my bestest Woo pointed out to me during a yoga class that my elbows hyper extend (like a big weirdo). I can also pop out one of my thumb knuckles. Great for party tricks, useless for anything else.


I see a counsellor and have done for nearly 3 years now. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if this is actually news to anyone. I tell literally everyone. All the time. Whilst I am pretty quiet about most things, mental health is something that should never be ignored and I do my part to make sure my part in it is visible.

Thumb Sucking

I still suck my thumb when anxious or depressed. It’s something I used to do when I was little and just never really stopped. I never had a dummy, but my trusty thumb has been there through thick and thin. It has messed up my teeth up something rotten (the roof of my mouth is so arched and narrow that I can’t even fit a chubba chubba lolly between my top teeth) and the thumb in question is slightly longer than the other one but it’s something done so unconsciously I don’t even register it anymore. I kind of think that maybe I should be embarrassed by it sometimes, and that being 26 I should maybe look for different coping mechanisms, but to be honest I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and if anyone’s got a problem with it, I dare you to tell me to my adorable, thumb sucking face.

Body Art

I am tattoo free but do not always intend to remain so. People are always a little surprised that I am un-inked (I obviously give off that kind of vibe), but I have big dreams people. Low pain threshold but big dreams.

Twinkle Toes

I have sleep musical toes. I only learnt this recently, but we have the radio on in the morning and according to TMM, my toes will join in with most songs, regardless of whether I’m actually awake or not.

*Big Families*

I have lived more of my life with my parents separated than with them together. Now in today’s society it’s not actually that unusual anymore, but I think the bit that people are always surprised about is how pleasant and friendly they still are with each other. It’s been nearly 17 years now, but they buried the hatchet long ago. There have been parties where my mum and her ex husband’s girlfriend have laughed together and hugged, holidays where my dad and his girlfriend have stayed with his ex mother in law, and whilst I don’t think either of them regret the time they spent together, they have found love in other places. Divorce has not torn my family apart. It has only made it bigger.


 Just a couple of the motley crew

Personal Grooming

This ones a bit risqué, but I feel it says a lot about me as a person (for good or bad…) I once dyed my “lady hair” to match my head hair – a lovely vivid pink. Shout out to Uni friends for this – (a lot of the strangest events in my life occurred at University). I can’t remember how it originally started, but it ended with a 3 hour group research quest on some of the strangest websites out there. During the second year, we spent far too much time googling strange and unusual things and learnt far more about the dark corners of the world than any decent person should. One such sojourn took us to the land of “lower region” maintenance and let me tell you, people are willing to do some weird shit to their undercarriages. Obviously this spurned much curiosity about what could be done and resulted in a bet that I wouldn’t match all my body hair. Worry not Reader, I did. It was hilarious, and excellent if only because it meant that when someone crudely shouted out (as they were wont to do) ““Oi love, do the collars and cuffs match?” I could say yes and watch them stumble over themselves in shock.


I’ve kissed more girls then I have boys. I mean, to be honest it’s not like I’ve kissed huge amounts of either, but my girl count outweighs the boys by nearly 2:1. Mainly I blame University, but to be honest I just think it’s the fact that girls are just much more friendly.

Childhood Companions

I once tried to keep a mouldy cake as a pet. There really isn’t much more to this story, but it always makes me people laugh. I was DESEPRATE for a pet when I was little (as are most small children I think) and did all I could to convince my parents that our lives would be very much enriched by the presence of a small furry beastie. They did not agree and I, of course, was devastated beyond all belief. Instead, I found and secreted a carrot cake in a tin that I found in the cupboard under my bed and cultivated it until it had grown a lovely mossy green coat and proceeded to generally stink out the house. Unsurprisingly, I could not keep the cake hidden for long and my father rooted it out and summarily disposed of it in the outside bin. I still think back fondly on it sometimes.

So there we have it. You now all know a little bit more about me than you did before and hopefully I haven’t disturbed you too much, or ruined anyone’s opinions on me. It’s surprisingly cathartic to tell the internet a bunch of things about yourself, I definitely recommend it as a starter blog post for all you budding writers out there. Who knows, you might learn something new about yourself in the process…

(God, what a cheesy ending).


A Curious Case of Spontaneous Inflation

I’m struggling to write today – not for want of a topic but because I am so bloody sleepy. Literally, one 4am get up has completely scuppered me for about 3 days – you wouldn’t think I was in my mid twenties. I’m in the prime of my life for gods sake, how did I end up living like a petulant 90 year old? It’s concerning that I see far more similarities between myself and Molly that between myself and that of anyone under the age of 30. Gone is the party lifestyle (jokes – when did I ever actually have that?), gone is the youthful enthusiasm and sense of adventure (again, I don’t think I ever actually had either of those. I’m still waiting to grow into that kind of person) and gone is the ability to get up early and mot complain about my aching joints. Instead I ricochet from day to day just waiting for the point where I’m able to get into bed and  go to sleep. Occasionally I will be motivated by the idea of doing some kind of craft project or the (very) fleeting urge to tidy the bathroom, but by the time I get home all drive has leaked out and I’m left collapsed on the couch making a slight whining sound like balloon with the air escaping.

I am wallowing now though, like a big sad slug and (as all good counselling teaches) that is just not on. Instead, I must embrace the positives and I am lucky enough to have plenty of those. Indeed, though it does not always feel like it, TMM and I are trying our best to fight against our natural proclivity to hibernate and instead embracing being action and spontaneous. Our National Trust Memberships (whilst not helping combat the pensioner image) have been getting us out of the house and all over the country with gay abandon. We’ve seen more manor houses and country estates than strictly necessary, but I’ve enjoyed every one and now have plenty of inspiration of how my mansion will look when I come into money. We’ve also tried to make sure that we’re picking up new positive habits – I’ve written “planked?” on the bathroom mirror in washi tape and TMM has new back exercises to help him limber up and stop slouching about like Quasimodo.

The jewel in our spontaneity crown has to be this weekend though. If you’d have asked us last Wednesday what we had planned, we wouldn’t have been able to say. By Thursday evening though, we had tickets for the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta and a travel lodge booked for the Saturday night. Now that might not seem like the world’s biggest achievement, but for those that know us it’s clear that that’s a pretty big step. Typically, anything we plan has to be at least 2 months in advance, must be seriously discussed at least twice, will go through countless plan revisions (which TMM will repeat to me at least twice a day, subtly rewording sections because he thinks that way I won’t notice that he’s just parroting) and then will end up not going according in any way or shape like how it was supposed to. It’s a rhythm we’ve come to embrace and have settled into rather despondently. However, thanks to Classic FM (I swear to God, it’s like we’re not even trying to deny we’re OAPs) and a rather hysterical WhatsApp exchange, the Balloon Fiesta sucked us in and we went from hearing about it to actually going in less than 3 days.

Now, this isn’t to say there wasn’t the usual amount of panic. Booking everything was mostly done whilst in a flustered haze and then we had to print EVERYTHING out and put it all in sensible plastic wallets. On the way there I was in charge of SatNav (which is always a challenging experience) and TMM had to practice his deep breathing exercises whilst we were driving through the centre of Clifton. Still, we made it in in one piece and had a preliminary wander around the area, which was distressingly lovely (seriously, I didn’t know how much I needed a veranda with a swing chair until I saw about 300 of them). We treated ourselves to tea in a fancy restaurant as well, where I learnt a valuable lesson about myself – the fact that I apparently have a chip on my shoulder about the size of Mexico when it comes to posh people. I mean, I was already a bit anxious about being in such a nice restaurant, regardless of the fact we were sat outside, in a corner, doing our best Lady and the Tramp impression. But then we were settled next to “Charlie” and “Freddie” who were there visiting their parents. They proceeded to pompously discuss “day trips to Lisbon”, how to correctly pronounce Laurence Llewelyn Bowen (with far more phlegm than was strictly necessarily apparently) and the “mostly unknown but truly artistic second album of Shakakhan”. TMM had to give me various warning looks to stop me scoffing in a distasteful northern fashion and making an idiot of myself. However, we didn’t let my grimy working class soapbox ruin tea or run away without paying (even though I tried to convince TMM we totally could and they’d never catch us alive), and we even managed to make it to bed for 11pm in preparation for our early start.

That was another new one (for me, not TMM who is the proverbial early bird) – the joy of a Sunday morning 4am start. It was a bit of a shock to the system I can tell you, but I am nothing if not adaptable. Whilst I complain heavily about mornings and the actions I am required to complete during them, I am actually pretty nifty once I’m out of bed. From the first alarm to getting out of the door, I was ready to go in 30 minutes (and at least half of that was lying in bed and girding my loins). By the time we were in the car though, I think we’d both gone from feeling a bit sick and shell-shocked to overexcited and mildly hysterical. TMM had a slight panic over the directions, but my soothing dulcet tones (and continually shouting of “OMG HOT AIR BALLOONS”) got him through and we were parked up and settled on our picnic blanket with an excellent view with time to spare.

If you look hard enough, you can actually see the madness in my eyes.

I can quite happily say though that the whole thing was most emphatically worth it. We were actually there before some of the balloons were, so we got to watch a couple of them turn up and be unfolded from their trailers. There’s something a bit odd about seeing so many huge balloons all spread out like damp tea towels, but we did enjoy all the tinkering with gas burners that went on (lots of ooh’s and ahh’s from the gently swelling crowd). There was one mildly concerning point (read – heart-stopping fear) when the little man on the tannoy announced that we were waiting for the discussion in the Balloonist’s Pavilion (which is my new favourite place name ever) regarding whether or not the flight would actually be going ahead. Whilst perhaps an obvious concern, I had not even factored on the notion that the whole thing was weather dependant. They had a rather hilarious set up reminiscent of the papal smoke signals – red smoke would indicate a no go, amber would mean a tethered lift and green would be Go Dog Go. Whilst I could appreciate the novelty of the situation, I did get a bit breathless and I think I may have left some nail marks on TMM’s arm whilst waiting for our signal, but thankfully it was a hearty green cloud and I didn’t have to worry about making a spectacle of myself by wailing loudly and throwing myself prostrate across a balloon corpse.

The actual even itself was truly magical – it did exactly what it said on the programme. I even got a bit emotional at one point, but I blame that on the classical music they were piping out and the fact I’m always a bit delicate after an early start. I do have to say though, the whole event most definitely reinforced my desperation to run away in a hot air balloon and become an aeronautical pirate. If Felix “Nadar” Tournachon, the first aerial photographer and inventor of crowd control barriers, could launch a balloon in 1863 that was so big that it could heft a two storey cottage under it (complete with a balcony, working lavatory and wine cellar), I’m pretty sure I can find a way of making a life for myself in the clouds in this day and age. I could travel the seven skies and see the world whilst stealing booty from passing planes. It think it would be an excellent way to survive.

There were a couple of balloonists on Sunday who I think lived by this kind of mind-set too. A couple of nutters who had decided that just strapping a garden chair with a seatbelt to the bottom of a balloon was a great idea had fun bobbing about up and down for a while, and the Royal Navy managed to show of by launching a para-glider and a couple of guys in parachutes all at once.

One of my personal favourites though was a blimp with an engine that was up pretty much before anyone else and proceeded to lap the field, crashing into other balloons with gay abandon and ricocheting between them quite unconcernedly.

 I couldn’t help but hear the music from the Baron Bomburst’s blimp in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at this point.

Overall though, it was a spontaneous trip that was a complete success and I am immensely proud of us. With weddings, journeys to visit friends and possibly photography shoots (TMM is deadly serious about his new camera – it’s rather adorable) still to come, this is hopefully a positive sign that we will continue on our upward trajectory into functioning adulthood…Who knows!

15 Ways I Can Keep You Safe (and ruin a perfectly good article whilst I’m at it)

Hola Amigos (I said, in a horribly mismatched multilingual fashion).

Just few points to bring to the table since our meeting last week before we get to the main agenda:

  1. The Mars Curiosity Rover celebrated its birthday on Sunday, and in keeping with tradition, it sang itself a little Happy Birthday (plus hip hooray) which succeeded in being simultaneously the most adorable and the most HEARTWRENCHING event ever. I mean, I love that it’s scientists parents have programmed it to be able to do this, but oh my god how sad is it that it’s all by itself? I know it’s a machine but I am painfully attached to it and have a desperate urge to send it a balloon.
  2. I bought not one but TWO dresses in preparation for the upcoming nuptials of TMM’s sister. I’m quite proud of this because not only does it mean I am nearly ready for one wedding (minus shoes, hat or hair colour), I am also going to be prepared for the marriage of TMM’s brother in February. Admittedly, I was nearly brought to tears at one point, but TMM was very encouraging and didn’t judge me at all for making him drive all the way to a shopping outlet only for me to have a stress and have be taken home practically immediately.
  3. Our mission to visit every National Trust property in the land was brought one step closer to realisation when we went to visit Kedleston Hall. TMM took some superb pictures and it made me realise how much I desperately need a Marble Hall and a circular ballroom.
  4. I have now convinced 4 other people to read the Rivers of London series and am feeling IMMENSELY proud of myself. They are just too good.

For the main event though, I’ve been inspired this week to write a commentary about an article I stumbled across on Facebook. I follow a large number (probably too many) pages that throw up listicles and the like on a regular basis about pretty much everything under the sun. From the growth rates of polar bears to 4 ways to skin an egg, nothing is safe from their scrutiny. This particular one was focused around personal safety and security which you might not think is a particularly funny topic, but by the end of it I’d put myself into a fit of hysterics. Prepare for muchos sarcasm.

15 Tricks That Might Just Save Your Life


Handily numbered, the article provides tips and guidelines that range from quite sensible to rather ridiculous, and then there were just some that I clearly had much better answers for.

  1. Use your Head

For the first one, they go straight in with the big guns #NoMessing. I can respect this. “A well placed headbutt can wonder wonders, much more than punches or kicks.” I mean, I was thinking maybe thinking they meant logically –perhaps  take a second to assess your situation and try and reason your way out of it. Not so. “Your head is big, hard and armoured”. Mainly – whack the crap out of your attacker like one of those pecking bird toys. Though try and do it so you aim right and damage their nose and don’t knock yourself out. Remember kids – violence is always the answer.

2. If someone attempts to abduct you, scatter your belongings.

“Leaving evidence at the scene of a crime could help investigators track you down.” This is a bit of a Hansel and Gretel scenario. You want to leave behind enough of a trail that if you are smuggled away there is enough evidence that you can at least be identified as missing (rather than just incredible unlucky and a bit clumsy). The trouble is, I’m not sure how many items I have on me at any one point that I can scatter behind that a) are easy to drop, b) not my phone which I would like to try and keep so I can ring for assistance c) aren’t just random crap that would be less of an alert of ‘Eleanor has been abducted!’ and more or a ‘wow, what complete tramp of a child has just chucked all these starburst wrappers and bus tickets here’?

3. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

For this example someone was obviously dead chuffed that they could use ALL of their Muhammad Ali gifs.  “Standing still makes you an easy target. If you’re able to keep moving, you can avoid being attacked – and give yourself an opening to make your move” (I don’t know what they’re thinking my move is, but I can guarantee it will not be as impressive as Ali).

Indeed running in zigzags will save you from crocodiles and bullets, but I’m not too sure about anything else if I’m honest. Let’s face it, anybody attacking me is more likely to be faster than I am through dint of being an attacker (and therefore likely more experienced) and probably not as unhealthy and sluggish as I am. I think I would have more chance of just lying on the floor and doing dead weight.

Can you guess which one is me?

    4. Learn some pressure points.

“Don’t fight hard, fight smart”. Motivational words there. I mean, this is sound reasoning and there’s nothing more fun than being able to knock someone out from a Vulcan death grip, but the diagram shown is perhaps a little involved to remember under pressure. I much prefer Miss Congeniality “S.I.N.G – Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin”- . As my dad always said, don’t be afraid to fight dirty. Go for bits and peepers every time.


   Who is going to remember this in a crisis? It would be more use just to keep jabbing at them – according to this diagram you’re bound to hit something.

     5. Home invasion? Head for the kitchen.

This sounds oddly more like some kind of motivational America craft diy show. Some preppy high pitched painfully cheery blonde lady in a pink cardigan is encouraging you to find handy homemade weapons. However, I do feel oddly validated by this as it was always my plan of action. Ask my mum. “Go to the room in your house that’s full of potential weapons.” When I was little, I used to plan routes to the kitchen and what weapons I could use to defend myself. Admittedly, I don’t think I had really thought it through properly as I was convinced the best option was the blender. Still, at least I am more likely to survive than any teen in a slasher movie.

6. Toss your wallet

There isn’t really much I can say about this. It’s pretty sound, though it’s important to note that you must throw your wallet off to one side and then be prepared to scarper, not just lightly through it at them like a gentle game of ball. This is a distraction technique people! I mean, with my aim I could probably aim to throw it off to one side and then hit them in the face with it, so I reckon this could work.

7. What to do if you feel threatened in an elevator.


(That’s not what they suggested, but it’s definitely going to do more for you that what they said.)

8. Don’t be afraid to yell.

“Fuck off you fucking attacker!” They recommended things like “Fire” or “Help” but I really don’t think that’s sufficient. People are prone to avoiding confrontation and usually veer away from someone shouting, so I think it’s important to make the situation abundantly clear from the off.

9. Know how to escape zip ties.

I love this one and do think it’s clever. Being able to manipulate your restraints is hella spy-like and cool and something that I do think should be drilled into younger people so that it’s something that comes to mind readily when they’re in dire peril. However, literally once the video is over I have immediately forgotten what to do and would probably end up resort to trying to knaw through them with my pointy sharp incisors.

10. If you’re being followed, take action.

Don’t start flashing all your shiny technology and suchlike. Instead, secret it all about your person and head to a public place. Then (this is where I wanted to add my input) maybe point at your follower and be like – “Look at this weirdo following me” which will hopefully shame them into very quickly not following you.

11. Wear dual purpose jewellery.

Again, I can see the sense in this, however the ring in the article is taking the piss a bit. I was always a fan of putting your keys between your fingers so you’ve got your own personal shank, but I can’t say I’ve ever actually had to utilise it (thank god). There’s really only so much you can do about “personalising weaponry” though before all your knife theme earrings and garrotting necklaces get confiscated. TMM get’s panicked enough about taking his teeny tiny penknife off his key ring if we’re going anywhere, so I can imagine he’s not going to be happy with me packing a Smith & Wesson in my handbag and telling everyone it’s just a lighter.


Come on now, this is just silly.

    12. Take a self-defence course.

Well…obviously. But if I haven’t got around to that by the time I attacked, it’s going to be a fat lot of use. However, after watching Wonder Woman I am incredibly invested in the idea of taking some courses. I just need a friend and not be a complete wimp about organised exercise classes, strangers, being touched by people and being out in public.

13. Let your hair down.

I’m sorry, but this one seems like guff. If you have long hair, it’s going to be pretty easy to grab whether it’s up or down. Let’s face it, unless you’re bald your hair is going to be a handhold for nefarious types regardless of how you style it. The only way I could only see this being useful is if you’re like a lizard and your hair just automatically falls off when attacked and means you can run to safety and leave your would-be assaulter holding a handful of hair and wearing a bemused and slightly disgusted expression.

14. Kick the knees to get away.

This made sense when I read it and I did like it, but then I saw the gif and now I freaking LOVE it. I’m going to try and convince TMM to let me try it


I mean, good lord how FUN does this look?

    15. Pull on your attackers ear.

And then slap their bottom round in a circle. Or, you know, just rip it off in a wild and untamed manner. Either works. Whatever happens, ears are fragile and you can definitely win this fight.

Well I hope you enjoyed my re-telling of this security based classic, and you’ve learnt some key facts to keep you safe in the future. I’ve enjoyed myself far too much than is strictly necessary and will be keeping an eye out for more articles to rip the shiz out of for your delectation. Until next time my little warriors.


All images are taken from the article listed, except the cat on a leash which was found on this Buzzfeed article (which in itself is worth a read) – https://www.buzzfeed.com/briantron/walking-a-cat?utm_term=.oyDQPY4nM#.msKm6PalY via Morgan James / Via youtube.com


Less of a Do-er, More of a Don’t-er

Well hello there dearest readers.

I must apologies for being lax in posting recently, but as usual I went on holiday and promptly shirked all responsibilities like a big old butterfly bursting free from a cocoon. However, I am now back and will be updating as per the schedule, though I can’t say I am too happy about being back in the real world. I mostly spent Monday trying desperately to stop my head thumping on my desk and letting tiny screeches of devastation escape. I basically sounded like a deflating balloon and definitely didn’t look much better. I should have realised that the morning wasn’t really getting off to an auspicious start when The Man Muffin discovered a mutilated and bloody rib cage/spleen combo on the cream carpet of the bedroom at about 6.30am. We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion that Buckycat believes that when we go away for days at a time, it’s because we’re having to scavenge for food. In attempt to help us, he brings in various rodents in numerous stages of death/decay so that we may snack on them and he doesn’t have to worry about us abandoning him again. The gesture, whilst heart-warming in it’s conception, is getting a bit tiring in it’s physicality. Spending the Monday morning I am due back into work sat on the floor in my pants scrubbing at sizable blood splatter whilst raging at the fact my holiday is over is not really what I’m looking for in life.

In fact, I am rapidly come to the realisation that I am just not meant to be a worker. I just feel like nothing prepared me for this. School and University do not do justice to the amount of time you have to spend in an office when you’re a grown up and childhood does nothing to get you ready for the real world. For example, when you’re younger your parents encourage you to try things you don’t like in an attempt to see if they can wean you on to it – like cucumber. They give you a little bit with tea one night, prompt you to taste it and then promise if you don’t like it you don’t have to try it again for a while. Then a few weeks later they give it another go and this continues sporadically for about a year until it becomes apparent that either you have learned to love the cucumber or that is a relationship that will never flourish and should just be given up on.

Well I’ve tried work for 7 years now and I can categorically and without a shadow a doubt state that I do not like it. At all. Not even a smidge. I resent the early mornings and the having to talk to people all day and being forced to do things that are not craft or cake eating (and therefore unworthy of my time) for a majority of my day. My week off proved to me that I was so much better at life when work didn’t get in the way. I also realised that, surprisingly, I actually saved money whilst being on holiday. Admittedly, part of that is due to the fact TMM drives us everywhere and sorted most things, but I was still quite surprised. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been when practically the first thing I did when I got to work was go on Amazon and buy myself two books as a reward for actually making it to the office. To that end, I really do think it is time that I am allowed to give up. #firstworldproblems

To look back fondly on happier times (you know, that one week where I WASN’T at work) with one of those misty 1940’s screens, I’m already getting a bit emosh that they are over. We spent mornings having leisurely breakfasts in sunny gardens, visiting beaches (called Mwnt – pronounced Munt and making us Beach Munters, trolololol) and National Trust castles, as well as achieving childhood dreams (mine, not Ross’ even though it was technically his birthday holiday).

 This is St. Catherine’s – or Azkaban as I affectionately call it. After seeing it from the bay for years during every holiday to Tenby and never actually being able to get in it, Mother and I had to fight back tears of hysteria and joy when we realised it was now accessible. Starting off as a Napoleon era fortress, it’s transitioned through two world wars as well as being a family home during the 30s and a Zoo in the 70s. They’re hoping to be able to get more funding for it and do more with in the future, which is obviously a perk for us.

We also spent time visiting families (so happy), seeing kittens (SO CUTE), having a sneaky visit to Hay on Wye (so joyous) and collecting presents for TMM wherever we went. Admittedly, I lost major Fiancée points by only realising half way to Wales that I had forgotten my presents for him. This was then compounded when we got home and it became clear I hadn’t actually finished or wrapped them either. Still, after having to banish him to the kitchen for twenty minutes and furiously sorting everything out, I like to think he was happy with the outcome. Though if not, he’s left it a bit late to complain now… In true birthday fashion though, TMM has also treated himself (as should be done) and purchased a brand new super shiny camera (to go along with him super snazzy camera satchel and 400 other camera bits). We have watched all the Master of Photography, bought all of the magazines and I’ve already been told to pose dangerously on rotten logs so he can get his photo jam on. I have to say though, it’s nice to see him so invested in something, and he is a bit of a cutie with all his gear so I’m definitely not complaining.

And here we see a Man Muffin, in his natural habitat. See how he settles himself to take the perfect photo, oblivious to any threat of danger in his quest to take the perfect picture.

I’ve also spent this last week encouraging my book club (I say club, there’s literally just the three of us in a whatsapp group) to read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch and believe they are now sufficiently hooked enough to read all 6 books (+ 3 graphic novels and 1 free audio book) so that we can gush about them together. Because gush we bloody well will. I thought I was doing very well with this series too; remaining sensibly detached and un-obsessed with it. Guess what? It didn’t last. I think I lulled myself into a false sense of security but the moment I got to the last book I knew it had all been a lie and I am now OB-FREAKIN-SESSED with them. Seriously, I’m trying to reason with myself that it’s not really sensible to just start the whole series again from the beginning, but I’m not sure if I’ll win that fight. I do have to say though, I can’t recommend them enough. One of the main reviews that’s pasted all over the front covers describes the series as “What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz”. Now whilst this might be a good tag line to draw readers in, I think that barely scratches the surface of what makes these books so darn good. Our hero, Peter Grant, is drawn into a world of magic that (whilst not being out there for everyone to know about) is still pretty established and acts in such a way that makes you think “yep, that’s pretty much what I’d do”. His voice is written in a way that is so accessible and relatable (which has got to be a pretty nifty achievement since the lead character is a 30ish, mixed race male copper, and I am a slightly younger, white female wimp) and treats the subject matter (mostly magic and murder) in exactly the way I want it to be dealt with. His confusion and education aren’t glossed over in a cheesy montage in favour of action-based DRAMA, but instead dealt with in a surprisingly realistic (yet still enjoyable) way. They even  go to some geeky corners of studying the science behind the magic in a way that pleases my inner nerd immensely. It’s not just Peter though; each of the characters are fleshed out and dealt with in a way that proves they aren’t infallible, but just doing what they can. They make decisions that I think I would find myself making in similar situations and regardless of their magic or non-magical status, they are incredibly human in how the deal with things. I mean, it probably also doesn’t hurt that one of the character DCI Thomas Nightingale is a stone cold fox and appeals to me in the kind of way old men coppers always seem to (Hey Lewis).

The thing is thought, Aaronovitch has perfectly managed to make sure that he never once falls into cliché or trope. Every single time a situation seems to be going a certain way, he doesn’t just avoid it, he bloody well blows your expectations out of the water and goes somewhere else entirely. He easily spans various genres, incorporating urban fantasy, magical realism, crime, thriller and comedy in such a seamless way I would really struggle to know where to place in on the library shelf. Considering he manages to do this consistently through each book that I’ve read (plus the graphic novels), I really can’t see myself getting out of this rut anytime soon…Back to the bookshelf!


 I mean, come on. Just look at them for Pete’s sake! How these have not been picked up for a TV show yet I will never know.




To Hip or Not to Hip? Is that the Question?

So I’ve started this week with freshly dyed hair again. The blue was starting to fade rather dramatically and my roots were coming through at a drastically unnecessary rate. I wouldn’t mind so much if I had a decent natural colour or even a nice big white mallen streak (which I am still holding out hope for) but unfortunately it’s a no go. I’ve got that bog standard mousey brown which is pretty much identical to when you mix all the paints together in the hope of creating a rainbow and instead get a sad muddy sludge. (Apologies if anyone actually happens to a) have that hair colour or b) like it. You probably look glorious with it. I just look like a drab Victorian peasant).

I have rebelled against the status quo as always though, and this time I’ve gone for a delightful mishmash of green shades; a summery selection of daffodil yellow, spring, apple and UV blue. TMM was excellent as always, frolicking about in his pants with the bleach brush and helpfully shaving the pattern on my under cut (before napping HARD). I was hoping for a kitty cat design, but he said he’s starting small and stuck to simple chevrons, and after the last incident (when I was left as bald as the proverbial) I suppose I can’t blame his caution.

Whilst doing my hair though and staring gormlessly into my own dye splattered reflection, I was led to pondering upon a deep philosophical dilemma – a generational query that has plagued millennials for a while now…

Is it hipster to have been hipster before hipster was cool?

Now I am firmly of the belief that as much as I laugh at the hipster culture, I am unapologetically ensconced within it. I may scoff, but I like an underground subway tiled, steam punk inspired cocktail bar as much as the next person, and I already own two Edison light bulbs. It’s definitely an undeniable fact as well that there are quite a few new additions to my lifestyle that could be laid at the feet of the hipster gods – having fruit and yoghurt for breakfast every morning in branded Kilner jars (because apparently we’re jar snobs) and spending our weekend making furniture from pallets that I like to describe by using vulgar terms like “bespoke” and “neo-vintage”.

I mean, we own all of those things. Not even pretentiously.

The thing is though, I was doing a lot of these long before it was cool. Big framed Jarvis Cocker glasses and rainbow hair have been part of my life since the early 2000s, and even though my blog is a relatively new addition, my need to offer DIY self help advice through rousing motivational speeches and/or Facebook messages is a lifelong past time. Whilst there are many of aspects of this particular fad that I love, I love them because I want to, not because pinterest encouraged me to. Men with beards have been a fascination of mine ever since I was a tiny tot (seriously I had such crushes on Wolf from Gladiators and Worf from Star Trek because of the amount of fantastic hair on show) and I will happily stare lovingly at anyone in trouser braces, regardless of age, gender or how creepy it makes me look.

I think the trouble stems from the fact I’ve always been a bit of an oddball. I am unaccountably shy, but desperate to be noticed and I will wear what I like and damn the consequences. I remember having a pixie cut in high school, knowing full well it would lead to bullying (and that REALLY awkward moment when the prefect in the girl’s toilets thought I was a boy and shouted at me) but it was still worth it. (Super healthy hair, no time spent faffing about in the morning and I totally looked like an adorable fairy – just ask my mum). Dying it was something I was DESPERATE to do, and after a few years of sensible (read boring) school appropriate hair, I got my mum and sister to dye it the most vivid pink we could find. I could never go back to normal hair now, and I laugh in the face of anyone who tells me I have to. When I started this hair based vanity project, only weird punks in inner city Manchester or arty kinds on TV had rainbow locks. Now, it’s all the hipster rage to have a flash on colour or an ombred pastel do. I’m not sure how many people see it as such an integral part of who they are, but I for sure know that I do it not because of the impact it has on other people (though that is pretty awesome), but because of the impact it has on me. It does help that both my sister and dad have had bright hair in the past, and my Neens has purple hair right now (a more hip and happening septuagenarian there has never been) and I WILL tell people that the bright coloured hair runs in our family DNA just to watch the confusion blossom on their faces.

Whilst my “style” (or possibly lack thereof) lends itself to this hipster curve, I hate to say it wasn’t really that intentional. The way I look, just like my annoyingly nerdy personality, are elements of me that have been around long before hipsters were. I’ve always been a complete sci-fi/fantasy nerd and been involved in more than one argument with someone who thought that just because I was a girl I wouldn’t have any clue about Farscape or the characterisation of Jean Grey. The good thing about this social movement is that it’s much more acceptable now to be weird and I really can’t say that’s a bad thing. We might laugh at the notion of the “hipster”, but what’s wrong with making these things something to be proud of? I like that there’s pop-up organic cafes popping up all over the place, and that playing the accordion whilst wearing herringbone trousers is the “done” thing. It’s not hurting anyone and it’s definitely one of my preferred movements (surely it’s better than the tight pony tails, shell suits and choreographed dance routines of the 90s?)

Who knew though, that I would eventually fit into the “IT” crowd? I still remember looking in a mirror a few years ago and being shocked by the fact I looked just how I wanted myself to look when I was a little girl dreaming of growing up. I mean, I would have maybe liked more tattoos and less mental issues, but I always knew how I wanted to end up, and it’s quite rewarding to know that there’s a huge chunk of my generation who thought it was a pretty cool place to end up too.

Of course there’s still a kind of soft cultural mockery directed towards hipsters, just like there is with every generational fad, and it’s completely understandable. It is pretty hilarious that moustache waxing and banjo playing are encouraged, and it’s a little bit weird how much of my instagram feed is filled with artfully displayed avocado based meals and hilariously depressing cat memes. Whilst I poke fun though, it would hypocritical of me to fight against the label. I’ve spent today wearing non-ironic dungarees and writing a ridiculously verbose post-modernistic hipster-ception commentary blog post. I am just as much to blame as anyone else, but I can’t say I really mind. Fads will come and go, and even though I might be cool now, I can bet you a dollar I won’t be in a few years. The real question though is, does it  matter? Will I care that in the future my colourful hair, my love of space and my inordinately large stack of country CDs will be laughed at rather than lorded?

Will I boot.


My Sunday Scene – Sunshine, Screws and Sanding

Now I must start today’s post with a little apology, as I have been somewhat remiss in my writerly duties recently and left you all sadly lacking in blog posts. I would like to be able to give you valid excuse for my absence; like how I was too busy fighting deadly ninja bears or coming up with a plan to end world hunger, but mainly I was a bit busy and lacking in any kind of inspirational spark. This week I will be much better though and keep you all thoroughly updated. You’ll no doubt be proud to hear that I’ve been continuing in my action plan of regular planking, cross training and watching Fast and Furious. My motivational work out wall has some new members (shout out to Vin Diesel’s tank top and Gal Gadot who is just repulsively perfect) and I feel their patiently encouraging stares as I sweat my way unhappily to fitness. We’re going to be taking on the Press Up Challenge next week (oh joy, oh rapture), though I think there might be a couple of false starts with that one. I can’t even remember the last time I tried a press up, and with my weirdly locking elbows there is the slight concern I might get into a position and then never be able to get out again. Still Ross assures me there is at least one wash board ab hiding somewhere in my noodly body, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going until I can see it.

Motivation Wall.jpg The Motivation Wall. There are some bonus pictures round the fireplace and a lovely shirtless one of Captain America that is stuck to the inside of the kitchen cupboard door – providing motivation whilst preparing lunches 😀

Continuing in my action vibe, I’ve been very social this weekend. We had Granddad Pendlebury’s 80th birthday party on Friday night, and we were out until 1am (which was a shock to the system for both of us) having a jolly old time. Saturday was spent in Manchester for a friend’s birthday with a good rabble of people. We visited many lovely bars, had many lovely beverages and I spent a good hour or so deliberating the merits of selling body parts for money in order to fund my dream of becoming a stinkingly rich Contessa living on the coast somewhere. I often forget how much I miss Manchester and it’s nice to be reminded of what a lovely city it is now and then. Even though I was born and bred there, I still sometimes get a bit panicky about having to wander around with that many people (god I’m such a wimp), but after a little “What Would Stu Do” chat (curtsy of my ridiculously social dad), and a hipster pub or two, I’m back in the groove. We were home slightly earlier than the previous night (read about 9pm), but I still had to have a good 12 hour nap to recover for all the excitement.

I also branched out to carpentry as well this week. After replacing the diaphragm on the toilet (fyi – don’t google diaphragms on the work pc), and changing a tyre, I’m now convinced I’m the new improved Handy Andy and can turn my hand to pretty much any task. This time, I made the executive decision that we should make a coffee table from scratch. There were a selection of influences leading to this – mainly the fact that our original coffee table had a rather disturbing lean (one leg was making a desperate bid for freedom in an upsettingly creaky manner) and that Pinterest encouraged me to believe that hipster DIY is clearly a far superior choice to buying something. After much deliberating, we decided pallets were the way forward and I then spent the next three weeks bullying The Man Muffin to bring some home from work.

Cut to a few days later and I’m pinning things left, right and centre and bombarding my friend Em for guidance over what kind of drill I want and which make of electric sander will work best. She was very supportive and I am now the proud parent of a Black and Decker Mouse sander and a lovely blue driver drill (you can tell it was pay day, can’t you?). There were emails flying all over the place with various tutorials and pictures requesting TMM’s approval and the weekend was set aside (weather pending) for our creative endeavour.

The fun started when, possibly true to form, we got outside on the Sunday morning, tooled up and raring to go only to realise the pallets we actually had weren’t quite the same as the ones we imagined we had, and our original plan was gracefully thrown out of the window. Somewhat depressingly, most of the things Ross and I attempt start with four hundred years of planning and end up with a slapdash half an hour of panic and the table wasn’t really much different. Still though, I don’t think it came out too badly in the end. I spent about 2.5 hours sanding the pallets down (I had, quite literally, all of the fun with that – my hands went numb at one point and I had to be forcefully told to take a break), TMM did some lovely painting (and got it all over his nice new jeans *facepalm*) and then was a fun five minutes trying to match up wooden pegs with drilled holes that did not go anywhere near as smoothly as we imagined whilst Bucky serenaded us loudly (and unhelpfully) from the kitchen. We persevered though and everyone got to use the new drill, nobody cried and we now have a lovely new table (with wheels) and limited storage space (so we can’t continue to hoard crap) in pride of place.


Just look at the action going on right there. I’ve even got gloves

 Seeing as how we are now two pieces of furniture handmade up, I’ve (somewhat punch drunkenly) told TMM that from now on we can just make everything we need and live like Tom and Barbara in the Good Life. I’m not too sure that I’ve thought through the logistics of that particularly thoroughly, but I’ve got a pair of denim dungarees, a new tool belt on the way and a bucket load of gumption – so what can go wrong?


Dedicated Follower of the Fast, the Furious and the Fashionable


Now I would love to be able to start this post by telling you how I plough my own furrow and am unfettered by convention. I’d smugly say that I’m remain completely unaffected by the social perspective of beauty and am not driven by being particularly fashion conscious, but let’s face it; that would be a blatant lie. I am just as obsessed with how I look as the next person and spend far too long watching videos on how to get smoky eyes or the perfect hair curl (managed the hair maybe twice, still haven’t mastered the eye. Less sultry sex goddess, more hung-over panda). This weekend though I was taken over by the need for change – possibly brought on by my cheery desk daffodils and the one day of summer we had last week. Bearing in mind I’m not really in a position to dye my hair again (having only actually been blue for two weeks) I decided I might as well just go for a new style instead. Depressingly skint and embarrassed about going back to the hair dressers (I only went last month but don’t tell anyone), I figured I might as well just do it myself. 23 YouTube tutorials later and I’m standing in the bathroom in my pants, Henry Hoover on standby and shiny new hair cutting scissors in my hand.

I do have to say though, it went surprisingly well. It’s not the first time I’ve cut my own hair (and certainly won’t be the last) but I think it’s the first time I’ve gone at it with an actual “plan” and an idea of how I wanted it to look. Now, it wasn’t like I was cutting masses off, but there’s certainly something very liberating about slicing through nice big chunks of hair and feeling the weight lessen with each snip. I’m really in love with blunt bobs at the moment, but being as I’ve got curly cornflake hair, I wasn’t too concerned about making it razor sharp – mainly I went for a simple bob. I’ve taken it to just below chin level because I’m desperate to grow my layers out. I’m one of those people who goes to the hairdressers with plans, pictures and diagrams and then ends up saying (in a rather high pitched tone) “oh just a trim and yes I would love for you to cut my layers back in” and then just stare sadly at my own reflection cursing my social awkwardness. When you’re the one in charge though, it’s a little bit easier to be honest. Whilst I’ve not quite achieved a uniform level all the way round (I swear there are layers on top that just grow to about four inches completely horizontally and then laugh at me) but it’s definitely better now. Before I was rocking the sort of weird mushroom cloud look; where the smooth bottom layers lie flat again your neck and the top frizzy layers arrange themselves in some sort of unnecessary balloon affair, but now I’ve got more of a dandelion clock going on. Hopefully I can keep on top of this and trim it myself every few weeks – keeping the layers under control and the costs down. Boo yah!

Anyhoo, seeing as I had a free Friday evening in which to cut my hair, I thought I might as well go full out and sort everything out.


Look at this arty hipster Barber’s kit – I totally trust me

 After spending twenty minutes looking at my new hair in every possible angle in the mirror and snipping individual hairs like some kind of poncy horticulturalist, there was a quick whip round with the hoover (much to the cat’s disgruntlement. He sat on the top stair and glared at me a bit before presenting his butt hole and vanishing off to find Ross – *more on the adventures of Bucky boy later), and I went for a shower. I am not ashamed to admit my showers are well known for their lengthiness – I am a firm believer of spending 5 minutes just slouching under the spray, at least 10 minutes trying to soap my hair up into a Mohawk and then another good 5 practising my Adele impression before I even start actually doing anything constructive. This one was no different, and by the time I actually got round to doing anything useful, I was already slightly pruney. I went in for a full body exfoliation though this time (admittedly with only one glove because I think TMM has adopted one as his own and who knows where that’s gone), and a complete hair conditioning treatment (curtsey of Redken – I’m pretty sure this stuff is made from unicorn tears and mermaid wee, because boy does it do some delightful things to my locks). I even shaved my legs, because summer is coming and I thought it time to get rid of the winter coat. This is not to say I haven’t shaved at all over the last few months, but man – who can be bothered keeping on top of that kind of job when nobody even sees them (except Ross, who is enough of a feminist not to give a damn). I treated myself to the “real man” shaving cream block as well, which I literally cannot recommend enough. Seriously, I have no idea why anybody bother’s using shaving foam in a can anymore. This stuff is the most long lasting, smoothest, great smelling stuff ever, and you get to apply it with a badger brush which has the added bonus of making me feel like a Victorian gentleman. I mean sure, it’s not actually mine, but TMM has the beard of a twelve year old (sorry love!) and has also stolen one of my exfoliating gloves – so tit for tat I say.

I then did nail painting and face masking and I even decided to start fake tanning again, because it really is time to get some colour back in the old girl. I’m not a massive follower of the generational habit of caking up with as much Mahogany Magic as possible, but I was getting slightly concerned that I was becoming translucent. Just a little coat (including my feet which for some reason made my dad hysterical when I told him – but you can’t have odd feet!) and I would now say I am the colour of a bowl of milk after you’ve eaten all the cornflakes, so that’s definitely a start.

Eventually I made it downstairs before TMM sent a rescue party and I spent the rest of the night slobbing about in my PJs watching the new Ghostbusters. {Side note: this is an excellent film and I will not hear a word said against it! I enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to anyone.}

I have to say though that whilst I could never actually be arsed to do all the faffing about on a regular basis (I will shower and then I will moan about having to dry my hair and that will be it), it was nice to do everything all in one go and actually end the day looking like a real lady (even if I didn’t start it looking like one).

 hair 4



 *As mentioned above, Bucky has been on form this weekend. Friday presented us with some kind of fluff massacre outside the bathroom door. Fur like a rabbit, shaped like a squirrel tail and lacking in any blood or gore whatsoever (though there was a little stripe of skin) we prodded and poked it for a few minutes before deciding whatever it was – it was no longer and binned the whole lot. On Saturday though, Bucky really upped his game and brought it his first live catch. Swanning in through the cat flap, he dropped a tiny little mouse in the hall, proudly made his presence known and then proceeded to be heartbroken when I grabbed him and Ross bundled up our little visitor and threw him outside through the cat flap. Sir Buckalot miaowed his way around the hall and kitchen looking for his new friend, sniffed a lot of things and then yowled sadly when he realised he had been deserted. Quarter of an hour or so later, he disappeared back out in a huff and we settled down to enjoy more Fast and Furious (WHICH I AM IN LOVE WITH. LIKE, LITERALLY. IN LOVE. I don’t feel I can clearly convey quite how much). Five minutes later however, he returned with Mr Mousey (we’re assuming the same one, but who knows)  and lay down in the hall, rubbing his face all over his little rodent friend (who was scrabbling about like the proverbial). The more we think about it, the more we’re starting to think Buck is perhaps more of a Lenny from Mice of Men rather than Hannibal Lector. All of the previous prizes he’s brought in have been dead, but not mauled or damaged in any way except the fatal puncture. We’re now pretty convinced he just wants to invite them in to sit with him and discuss the merits of wet vs. dry food and whether his tail looks fat when he wears his collar.

Anyway, Bucky continued to nuzzle his companion in a loving and slightly forceful way, completely ignoring Ross’ war cries of “finish it!” and in the confusion of trying to rescue the mouse from being hugged to death and Bucky’s plaintive cries intermingled with Vin Diesel’s gravelly undertones, we managed to lose the bloody rodent under the fridge. We did set out a “humane trap” (a wine bottle full of feta) to no avail and TMM spent most of the evening pulling out kickboards and staring into the dark depths under the cupboards. Nothing has been found yet, so we must hope the Great Mousedini has escaped to safer pastures.

Obviously Buck is refusing to be kept down though, as when we got home yesterday, it was to find a rather annoyed looking starling sitting by the sink chattering furiously. He was quickly directed to the window and released to the outside, unscathed and seemingly fine, but who know what surprises will await us tonight…

Please enjoy these photos for our deadly panther. On the left we can see him relaxing after a hard evening of lying on the bed by moving to lie on the couch, and on the right he’s wearing what we have affectionately named “the Mane of Shame”