Tuesday Reviews Day 29th November 2016: This season’s top 5 compliment grabbers

I’ve long been particular about my style and appearance.  As an early teen I remember scouring several branches of Topshop to find the belted cardigan that most resembled the one featured on the Calvin Klein catwalk (and then getting hacked off when other stores started stocking similar ones too).  Around the same time, I saved my pocket money until I could afford to go to the big department store in a nearby city to buy the just released Yves Saint Laurent Touch Eclat and was super chuffed when the sales assistant gave me a load of extra samples too.

Now I’m a freelance writer with an interest in fashion and beauty, I spend even more time thinking about and researching lovely things.  When I write about articles, I try to place them in their broader context and discuss their significance and meaning too.  I don’t want my work to read like a fluffed up press releases.  That said, it seems daft for me to not find a way to simply and quickly share some of the products I come across in the line of work and pleasure if I think other people might like them.

As a result, I’ve decided to introduce ‘Tuesday Reviews Day’ to my blog.  Each week’s listicle will will feature a handful of products, ranging from bargain beauty buys to best biscuits (I’m lining up a festive special on that one already!).  I’m not an affiliate so I don’t stand to gain from recommending anything that I include – every item listed is genuinely something that I think warrants a shout out.

I hope that you find this new feature both a fit of fun and useful too.  Let me know if your thoughts on what I’ve included and whether you’ve been tempted to try any!

First up, we have the five items I’ve been most complimented on this season.

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Boden leopard print boots || raeritchie.com

Leopard print seems to be everywhere at the moment, which usually puts me off something.  I also usually avoid pattern, preferring plain colour.  Yet despite these two provisos, I couldn’t resist these leopard print boots from Boden.  Turns out they are popular with others too; barely a day goes by when someone doesn’t comment favourably on them. They are from the Boden children’s range but they go up to a size 42 (UK 7.5, US 8.5) so they’d fit most grown women as well.

 

 

Green Boden dress || Tuesday Reviews Day 29-11-2016 || raeritchie.com
Green Boden dress || rae ritchie

Also from Boden this season is my gorgeous green dress.  This has been a wash-and-wear favourite since the weather turned cold enough for its thick fabric.  Its stretchy material keeps its shape and doesn’t crease even after several hours in the car or on a train (you can just about get away with not ironing it either, although I tend to run one over it anyway).  Again this has garnered lots of compliments.  This may be because I’m wearing it so often but even so that just reinforces what a great dress this is!

 

Nars Matte Lip Pencil in Damned || Tuesday Reviews Day 29-11-2016 || raeirtchie.com
Nars Matte Lip Pencil in Damned || raeritchie.com

This burgundy shade is a great match with the green dress so has been getting lots of wear too.  I was inspired to get this after watching Candice and her perfect pout on the Great British Bake-Off and love the dramatic but not too dark colour.  Because it’s a pencil, and a matte one at that, it gives great coverage and it doesn’t easily slip.  I’ve not found it to be quite as long lasting as other Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils that I’ve tried but it still lasts pretty well through eating and certainly drinking.

 

 

 

Nars Matte Lip Pencil in Damned || Tuesday Reviews Day 29-11-2016 || raeritchie.com    Kevyn Aucion The Matte Lip Colour in Eternal || Tuesday Reviews Day 29-11-2016 || raeritchie.com

Kevyn Aucoin The Matte Lip Colour in Eternal || Tuesday Reviews Day || raeritchie.com
Kevyn Aucoin The Matte Lip Colour in Eternal || raeritchie.com

I’ve been using this for a while – I initially tried it when I wanted a matte red like Nars Dragon Girl but had got fed up with having to keep sharpening the pencil.  Women in all sorts of situations continue to ask me what it is and I’m always happy to recommend it as it isn’t a brand that you are likely to just stumble across.  At £26 it isn’t cheap but the pigment is great – you can put it on first thing and not worry about touching it up until dinner.

 

Ikea Förenkla Red Back Pack || Tuesday Reviews Day 29-11-2016 || raeritchie.com
Ikea Förenkla Red Back Pack || raeritchie.comThe

 

[NB Boss Lady badge didn’t come with the bag, this was a gift from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes]

I love this bag!  It’s a good size – it can take everything I need for a day’s work, including my laptop, but it doesn’t look daft if it’s not full either.  There’s an internal divide as well as two side pockets and a large front one.  Like everything Ikea, the design is plain and simple but the colour is fab and I for one like the totally plain outer.  Lots of people have asked where it’s from and saying Ikea feels like we’re all in on a big secret.  Who knew they did such good bags?  Of course well priced as well; this design comes in a range of sizes, mine is the largest and costs £25.

 

 

Sunday Suggestions 27th November 2016

Sunday Suggestions: a round up of things to read, watch, listen to and do
Sunday Suggestions 27th November 2016 || raeritchie.com

Welcome back to my regular series with suggestions of awesome people and things to check out, read, participate in and follow.  Today I offer you a heartwarming sight, some of my favourite things and some good news about this generally crappy year.

To begin, I’m breaking one of my Sunday Suggestions rules.  I aim to only share web-based items that are openly accessible to everyone, everywhere, but this little gem was too good to not give a shout out too: Project Calm is a new magazine that looks great & seems to offer great contents too (the always brilliant Susannah Conway has a column in it so it can’t be bad). I’ve just ordered my copy to try it out.

Some of you may have caught Tuesday night’s Channel 4 documentary Breaking the Silence which showed deaf people hearing for the first time after having cochlear implants fitted.  It was a really moving programme that had my partner & I marveling at the wonders of modern technology.  I’m not sure that the option to watch the show will work for people outside the UK so as well as signposting to that, I wanted to link to an older article from Stylist magazine on the same subject.  This article includes a video of a woman’s first experience hearing  & details a playlist that her friend made her for when she heard music for the first time.  Hearing music for the first time!  How unimaginable that is for most of us.

So, for three of my favourite things.  First up is a beautiful tribute to one of my top tunes, ‘Love and Affection’ by Joan Armatrading.  The most well-known of all her hits, this brooding love song just exudes sex and passion in a way that we don’t often encounter in songs by women (or alas in society more widely still).  In ‘No conversation.  No wave goodnight. A love letter to the lyrics of Love And Affection by Joan Armatrading‘, Phil Adams on ‘A Longing Look’ evokes some of its majesty and glory.  Read it & listen at the end!

Sunday Suggestions 27-11-2016 || raeritchie.com
Here’s my partner & I at Wembley recently for the England v Scotland football match

Second is totally different.  It is a little known fact that I am a pretty big football (soccer) fan.  In particular, I love listening to football on the radio.  I love the hazy tone of my old transistor radio & the way it evokes a happy Saturday afternoon curled up on my bed or the sofa listening to the commentary and punditry and summaries.  The magic of football on the radio is delicately captured in this Guardian article on the subject.  I’d go as far to say it’s worth a read even if the subject itself doesn’t interest you but maybe I’m not a good judge of that.

The third I just wanted to tuck in here as my own expression of thanks and gratitude.  Last weekend I went on an amazing, sumptuous and powerful retreat with fourteen other women in the Cotswolds countryside.  It was truly life-changing.  Here the retreat leader Sas Petherick (one of my favourite people in the world) talks about her experience of organising the event and what it means to her (I’m one of the ones who’s already signed up for next year).

I’m a newcomer to the joyous Yes and Yes blog (‘Because Yes is More Fun than No’) but I love it enough to have signed up to the mailing list – a big commitment, because we only sign up to the mailing list for blogs we love, right?  😉  Anyhow, this post on 11 Ways to Practice Gratitude Without a Gratitude Journal is fun and captures what I like about the site so much.  (I think I previously suggested the Yes and Yes ’19 Ways To Make The World A (Slightly) Better Place‘ post; if you missed it the first time or fancy a re-read, this one is also worth checking out).

On Thursday I wrote a blog post about why this year – universally acknowledged as pretty crap – may not be quite so bad after all.  Among the doom and gloom, of which there is plenty, there are also some moments of light and goodness, both personally and on a bigger scale.  You can read the post here, including the contributions from friends and readers about what made 2016 great for them.  It was also good to see another similar list by Dominic Upton for the Daily Telegraph list recently.  His contains some examples that had totally slipped my mind; which of these did you relish?

And finally, because I’ve realised I like to end this post with a funny video, I have this little blast from the past for you…When The Fully Monty came up in conversation twice on Wednesday night, I knew I had to go with this classic scene of the men in the dole queue.  It’s hard to watch it and not twitch along with them!

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

 

 

 

 

Is it me or has 2016 just been a bit good?

 

Is it me or is 2016 a bit shit?  || raeritchie.com
Because caramel apple pancakes help to make *everything* a bit less shit || raeritchie.com

*As a Brit, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but it just occurred to me that this is a totally apt post to coincide with the big US holiday.  Nice bit of good timing!*

Now we’re quickly heading to December, I can’t help but look back and think it has all been fairly rubbish on both a micro and macro level.  Over the last several months I’ve written on here and elsewhere about the mental health struggles which have dominated my year, while two weeks ago I shared my lament for the post-Trump, post-Brexit world.  Things have not improved in the meantime.  On the contrary, even the mere suggestion that Nigel Farage should be the next British ambassador to the US shows that a whole lot more s*** could hit the fan in the months and years ahead.

From my perspective, probably the most redeeming feature about this year is that it has flown by in a flash.  2017 in already looming and it can’t come quick enough – but where has the current calendar disappeared to?

With only five weeks left until January, I was bemoaning the general crapness of this year when my partner gently pointed out that it hadn’t been all bad.  We had been travelling around Japan, he reminded me.  We’d also had other lovely adventures, like our impromptu weekend at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

What if 2016 has actually been a bit good?  Is this a totally crazy notion or can I actually find evidence to support it?

So I had an idea.  What I need is a visible aide-mémoire that focuses on the good bits of 2016 so that I don’t write the entire twelve months off in one dramatic swoop.  In particular, I want a list of good things about this year which includes personal highlights, global good news and lovely events from others’ lives.

I asked around on social media and here’s what we came up with, and *huge* thanks to my lovely friends and readers for their openness and generosity in sharing.  It is certainly some list.  You people are amazing!

 

Good things about ’16

Me

1 Our amazing trip to Japan

2 My relationship with my partner grew stronger in both adversity and joy

3 Went on a beautiful and powerful retreat

4 I’ve seen lots of my friends, old and new, and we’ve had some great times together

5 New work direction and purpose

The World

1 The Planet Earth II series – how amazing is the natural world despite all its challenges? The craziness of the snakes ganging up on the baby iguana is grizzly but awe inspiring too.

2 The fairytale of Leicester City Football Club winning the English Premier League (and their lovable, slightly eccentric manager Claudio Ranieri – his ‘dilly ding, dilly dong’ catchphrase being just one of his great moments last season).

3 The excitement of the UK Women’s Hockey team getting their first ever gold medal after a penalty shoot out at the Rio Olympics

4 The Chicago Cubs breaking their 108 year wait to win Major League Baseball’s World Series (and this moving tribute to fans who didn’t live to see this success)

5 And an important headline from Australia (thanks Rachel!): Melbourne firefighters save tiny black kitten from Rebels bikie gang clubhouse fire

Others’ good news

‘I sold my house and all of my belongings, moved into a van, traveled around the world, and met you Melissa and Jennifer at a little coffee shop in London. ❤’ Alicia

‘This year WAS total shit.  And yet.  Antidepressants, which changed my outlook and lifted the grey fog that had dulled life for so long.  Breast self exams, which found my cancer in an early stage, insurance to pay for surgeries.  17 years with the best doggie ever.  Finally founding the best panties ever.’  Amie

‘I’ve been inspired by your piece on alternative advent calendars to buy an assortment of inexpensive makeup and toiletries and will have a DIY alternative advent calendar!  Another one: Stu, Joey and I had a wonderful trip back home to North America, and I didn’t even feel very depressed when I got home’ Anna HM

‘I got to marry the love of my life – something still illegal in many parts of the world.’ Anna K

‘Now that’s a challenge indeed! Thinking…. Oh! Went glamping then camper-van camping. Not news, but good’ Catherine

‘My little sister’s wedding four months after a successful op to remove tumours on her kidney and ovaries.  Passing my PGCE and getting a part time teaching job with a charity on my own terms’ Claire

‘2016 has been a tough year.  The good news I have is the wedding of my grand daughter, was beautiful’ Elisabeth

‘Predictably, mine is a much longed-for baby. He’s a constant source of delight and antidote to the year’s otherwise awfulness.’ Elizabeth

‘I got to swim with (& learn about) the dolphins in Hawaii for a week over my birthday…. 🐬🐬🐬’ Kate

‘I had a healthy, bonny, beautiful baby in January, after a difficult and (towards the end) quite risky pregnancy.  I recovered completely from the liver condition I developed during pregnancy and got better quickly after my C section.  I am thankful for her every day – even on days (like today) when she gets me up at 5.20am….Zzzzzzz.’  Laura

‘I took / was given the opportunity to put down everything that I was holding and I have been so discerning about what I have chosen to pick back up.  I think I learned more about friendship and listening this year than I ever have before.’  Melissa

‘Saying good bye and good riddance to my gall bladder was very good news for me in 2016’ Miriam

‘I found the job that I had been seeking, that supports me financially, intellectually, and with the perfect work life balance.’ Stephanie

‘Being home after 8 months away last year was the best thing ever – loving the simple pleasures of being home and quiet’ Terri

 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

 

Sunday Suggestions 20th November 2016

Sunday Suggestions: a round up of things to read, watch, listen to and do
Sunday Suggestions 20th November 2016 || raeritchie.com

In the three weeks that I’ve started putting these ‘Sunday Suggestions’ columns together, I’ve noticed that themes will naturally emerge.  Sometimes I’ll just happen to spot several items about one specific subject; others will feed into a topic that’s on my mind anyway.  Examples of both feature in this week’s list of things to read, watch, join and do.

First up are two harrowing accounts of rape.  I’ve wondered long and hard about whether to post these but despite the difficult subject matter, this is not something we can shy away from.  Rape and sexual assault are real and prevalent issues for all of us, and perhaps never more so than in the wake of comments made by the US President Elect.  I applaud and admire these two women for speaking out about their experiences:

Anna Lovind: Break the silence sisters, your story matters

The uncomfortable truth about my rape & why I’m coming forward now

On a similar but not quite the same note, I came late to seeing this article by Monica Lewinsky about being a Hallowe’en costume.  If you haven’t heard or read anything by Ms Lewinsky in recent years then I’d definitely encourage you to check out these links.  I’ve found it humbling to learn about how she dealt with the shame and vitriol directed towards her.  Twenty years on from the scandal that made her (in)famous, I also find it significant to remember that she was a 23 year old intern while Clinton was a far older and far more powerful figure.  As with the two links above, power dynamics have a considerable role to play in sexual relations whether seemingly consensual or not.

Monica Lewinsky: What it’s like to become a Hallowe’en costume

Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk: The price of shame

Speaking of power, I’ve also stumbled across two examples this week of attempts to challenge the gender status quo.  One of these is on an individual level, the other trying to initiate awareness through the medium of fashion and social media – the latter you can join in with on 25th November (next Friday) by wearing orange and sharing on your networks.

Refinery 29: Nine women on why they shaved their heads

UN Orange Label Project: Fashion says no to violence against women

And finally, for something completely different, I wanted to mention podcasts.  I am *really* late to the game with this!  It’s only in recent months that I’ve started to listen to all the amazing recorded material that is out but like so many others now I’m hooked.

I’m currently working my way through the back catalogue of Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  For some reason I can’t bring myself to just listen to the most recent – I want to hear them all – so Rubin’s tips and advice on how to live a happier life accompany me whilst I get ready every morning.

On holiday at the end of September, I binged another great series: Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert.  These gems are all interviews about creativity, inspired by Gilbert’s brilliant Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  If you are even vaguely interested in the subject then listen to these!  I cannot recommend them highly enough.  Each one is so inspiring.

And if you are interested in creativity, its magic and how you can get more of it, then you might want to sign up to my newsletter.  Following requests from my readers, this monthly mailing will from this month onward contain a creativity tip for you to try out.  Because I’m so excited about this new feature, and have been researching lots of ideas, November’s issue will have a bumper round up of suggestions for you to try!  Sign up over here if you’d like to receive it.

 

 

 

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live || raeritchie.com
The marketplace & the statue of George Eliot

This week’s been a busy one so I’m writing this post ahead of time.  It’s Friday afternoon and I’m sitting in my regular booth in my favourite local coffee shop, Crave Coffee & Desserts.  It’s been closed for a few days due to a family emergency and as well as my heart going out to the lovely owners, Sharzia and Raj, I felt a bit bereft too.

For the sake of my conscience I am pleased to say that my first thought on hearing news of the closure was ‘Oh no, hope everything’s okay’ – but this was quickly followed by ‘What am I going to do?’  I love the solitary life of a writer and would happily spend my whole time alone at my desk in the corner of my bedroom but I know it does me good to get out of the house at least sometimes, so once or twice each week I head down to Crave and enjoy the hubbub of the outside world while still getting on with my work.

Part of the problem with Crave’s closure was that I couldn’t think of anywhere else locally that I could go to instead.  Sure there are some chain coffee shops around but they’re not really set up for workers.  I searched online for options in nearby towns but again nothing seemed quite suitable.

This lack of local options turned my mind back to a subject which has much occupied my thoughts in the last couple of months: learning to love where you live.  I love the ‘Weekend in…’ or ‘See the best of my city’ type articles that are a staple of magazines but they always leave me a bit disenchanted.  My feelings to where I live could be described as ambiguous at best.

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live || raeritchie.com

 

Nuneaton is a large working-class town in the middle of England, part of the beautiful county of Warwickshire but firmly in the less affluent northern end. Much of its 120,000 strong population are in the D and E class groups and this relative poverty shows in the town centre with its boarded up windows alongside bookies, charity shops and every variance of Poundland imaginable.

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Some know it as the birthplace of the great nineteenth-century novelist George Eliot but in recent years it has received media attention for being a crucial ‘swing’ seat in parliamentary elections.  This has made the town more prominent but even the most sympathetic coverage can’t disguise its shabbiness and struggles, as this report by left wing journalist Owen Jones shows.

I was born here, in the George Eliot Hospital no less, and spent the first eighteen years of my life vowing that I would leave and not return.  Off I went to university, only to find myself back for a year after I graduated while I saved for my MA.  It was like I could never quite escape the lure of the place: family, friends and finances kept pulling me ‘home’.

Towards the end of my PhD I returned again and several years later I’m still here.  In spite of my best intentions, I put down roots.  Even though my job took me to London and the south east for half of each working week, I didn’t want to relocate down there.

My partner, another rather ambiguous Nuneatonian (albeit one with a diehard love of the town’s non-league football team), and I are now settled in our home here.  Despite being freelance, and being on a yoyo up and down to the capital (twice this week), I don’t have a huge desire to move.  Family, friends and finances still win the day.

But… (there’s always a but isn’t there?!) I can’t shake the feeling that I *ought* to be somewhere else.  Somewhere more exciting.  Somewhere more glamorous.  Somewhere with an M&S Foodhall, let alone a Waitrose.  Somewhere with more than one option for a coffee shop where I can work for the afternoon.

I’m trying to work my way through these ambivalent feelings, the connection on the one hand and the revulsion on the other, in different ways.  A large part of this is figuring out what my callings to move represent.  Some of it is snobbery, some me feeling that my choice of location reflects badly on me as a person.  Am I boring for living back where I was born?  Have I not been adventurous enough?  Am I at heart just as downbeat as the town’s image despite all my pretensions to the contrary?

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live || raeritchie.com

Big questions but alongside this I’m working away at nurturing more love for the place.  And if I can’t get to love then at least respect.  For me this means recognising the town’s good points, the things that it does have to offer.  Surely its only attraction can’t be that, well serviced by the motorway and rail networks, it’s easy to escape from?

So I’ve been working on putting together my own version of ‘See the best of my locale’ article.  I’m still refining this, as well as trying to put together prompts that other people can use if they too are looking to develop a more companionable relationship with where they live.

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live || raeritchie.com

The photos used in this piece were taken when I embarked upon an artist’s date to capture the varied architecture of the town centre – little glimpses of a proud past that can be easily missed.  My goal now is to create a list of ten things that I’d like to do in or related to Nuneaton.

Nuneaton, or learning to love where you live || raeritchie.com

So far I have five!  I should be clear that I can only come up with five because I’ve already actually done some of the good stuff, some of the iconic Nuneaton stuff. I’ve eaten in both Toppers and Wales, two of our celebrated fish-and-chip shops.  I did the George Eliot walking tour when I met up with a Japanese academic who was visiting the town to research our trailblazing homie.

What remains?  Just five ideas so far:

1 Commit to memory the name of the prominent architect who designed the town library as well as some other famous buildings that he is responsible for

2 Visit Arbury Hall, a significant local country house that doesn’t get much public attention because it’s still in private ownership and only opens on a limited number of days each year

3 Read a George Eliot novel (*hangs head in shame*).  Many of them are set in this area and landmarks can be identified still

4 Go to The Tavolda Calda.  I can’t exactly say I want to do this but it seems integral to the town’s identity.  Every year the Carnival Queen and her maids are wined and dined there.

5 Spend an afternoon in the Atack Snooker Club.  A snooker club wedge in between the railway line and Chinese takeaway.  As a child I thought it looked like a den of iniquity (I was precocious and probably would have used that phrase).  Sheer curiosity draws me in.

And what else?  If you are familiar with Nuneaton and can think of anything I should include on my list, let me know!

And where do you live?  Do you love it or loathe it – or somewhere in between?  I’d love for you to come up with an equivalent list.  What have you never done in your locality?  Share your thoughts below or on social media.

Let’s all learn to love where we live, one small step at a time.

 

Sunday Suggestions

Sunday Suggestions: a round up of things to read, watch, listen to and do
Sunday Suggestions 13th November 2016 || raeritchie.com

This is the third Sunday Suggestions column and I simply cannot ignore the US election in today’s round up.  As always, you can rely on the Pool to provide some thoughtful, reflective reading on the subject:

A response about Trump’s victory from one of their regular writers who is also a New York voter

Gaby Hinsliff writes about the election and the crumbs of comfort that we have to hold on to

I found this, Sali Hughes, again on the Pool, sharing both serious and less so good things about 2016 (even she admits it’s hard to do so), useful reading that lifted my mood slightly after sharing my lament for the world as my blog post on Thursday

From other sources:

Here’s the reaction of an American living in London as appeared on Refinery 29

My friend Anna Kunnecke wrote this moving piece about what the result demands of us once we have finished mourning for what has passed

Likewise over on the Yes and Yes blog there’s a list of ‘real, actionable things we can do about Trump’ – some really good practical suggestions that can help us to feel like we’re at least trying to do something

And because I’m sure you’re like me and are desperate for a glimmer of laughter and amusement in these dark days, I had to include one of the greatest and most joyous viral videos of all time – even if you’ve seen it one hundred times before, please watch it again: Jessica’s daily affirmations.  We all need her sass and her strut right now.

 

 

 

Austerity, Brexit, now Trump: my lament for a world where walls are going up not coming down

Austerity, Brexit, now Trump: my lament for a world where walls are going up not coming down || raeritchie.com
Austerity, Brexit, now Trump: my lament for a world where walls are going up not coming down || raeritchie.com

First there was the global economic downturn. So many things that we took for granted, you know, like jobs, disappeared, seemingly overnight.

Then we got a Tory led coalition government elected on a platform of austerity. At that time I woke up in a state of despair for many days believing things couldn’t get much worse. We’re all in this together, they said, which would have been funny if only it weren’t the poorest and most vulnerable that were really getting hit.

But you learn to tolerate a certain level of despair. You become accustomed to it, accustomed feeling alienated from not only those ruling your country but also those who support them, whether other institutions, elements of media or even a few of those you know and love. You wonder why some people are so hateful towards others, how it is that their hearts are filled with fear rather than love. You wonder and despair yet retain some hope. You hold on to an optimism which says this is a blip, an aberration. One day soon normal service will be resumed and everyone will look back and wonder what in earth happened to common decency and kindness and respect and tolerance. One day we might even be able to laugh about it.

Only that day never comes. Instead we wake up the morning after another election feeling battered and bruised and confused. How did that happen? Not only did the bad guys win, they did much better than last time. Hell, they did better than they expected they would. Even they are confused about it.

We tighten our belts and brace ourselves for the worst while still valiantly believing that the whole wretched nightmare will be over soon.

Only then Brexit.

The country you’ve lived in all of your life becomes unrecognisable overnight. Again even the winners seem unprepared for their victory which only makes you further comprehend (as if you needed any reminding) how ridiculous the entire idea of leaving the EU is. You also discover that no one has any actual plan as to what to do. Great.

The nation is up shit creek without a paddle and any remnants of optimism that you were still harbouring are fading fast. You become suspicious of everyone you know and meet. You stare into the faces of strangers and wonder is this down to you? Are you one of the ones who voted out? Worse still are you one of the ones who voted out with little or no idea of the consequences? What do you mean you didn’t realise the Prime Minister would resign?!

All of your snobberies, biases and judgements come out in full force. You don’t like the way this makes you feel but struggle to act otherwise. Desperately you clutch at straws, clinging on to the hope that there is any hope left to have.

Once more you think this is it, things cannot get any worse. We’ve austerity, a hard line government, we’re leaving the EU even if no one knows how and the political opposition choose this moment to implode. Oh and Boris Johnson is made Foreign Secretary.

Sometimes we get distracted by the Punch and Judy side show happening in the US. We laugh at the Trump shenanigans until suddenly we aren’t laughing anymore.

Still things couldn’t get any worse.

 

Yesterday things got worse.

Yesterday things got a whole lot worse.

And the worse part of this worseness?

I no longer believe that things cannot get any worse.

I’ve wised up. With this latest turn of events I know things are going to get much, much worse – and there’s not even a vague hope of anything getting better any time soon.

Maybe, perhaps, it’ll only (only!) be for four years. Except a lot of damage can be done in four years; a lot of irreversible damage. And we’ll probably still be mopping up the repercussions of Brexit then anyway.

Twenty seven years ago the Berlin Wall came down. International politics change overnight. The whole world changed overnight.

On the same day in 2016 international politics again changed overnight. The world changed overnight – but the two events couldn’t feel more different.

Hope…fear.

Looking forward…looking backwards.

Love…hate.

Tearing down walls…putting them up.