15,000 Vampires in the UK? I’m getting out my garlic!

Apparently there is an underground cult of vampires in the UK. Dear Lord.

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I’m getting out my garlic

According to Dr Emyr Williams, there is a subculture of around 15,000 vampires in the UK and vampirism is in fact a ‘worldwide phenomenon’. I only hope this is news to most of you. Now, I like a bit of Robert Pattinson as much as the next person, but actually behaving as a blood-sucking vampire in real life is just plain wrong.

Is this some kind of warped BDSM that takes even that kind of sexual fantasy too far? Apart from the fact that ingesting blood is not natural, normal or tasty, the risks of contracting a blood-borne disease are extremely high. So while schools are teaching kids about safe sex, the vampires are (slightly) reversing this precious barrier against dangerous infections and disease. I never thought it would be necessary to remind people that Twilight is fictitious. After all, Kristen Stewart’s emotional range is incredible.

Aside from disparaging dreadful pieces of cinema (and literature, although it’s easily forgotten), I can see some other problems with assuming the life of a cold one. If the cult grew, the population would be enormous because vampires are immortal. There would be a national blood shortage, so instead of blood banks for transfusions, we would be opening our veins to feed the mouths of the poor, hungry weirdoes.

Or perhaps in less voluntary way. Claiming to be a safe group, the vampires have only killed one person in the UK, how kind. But you never know what the future holds. In my opinion, one vampire-related death is enough.

And since the future is uncertain, I don’t know when the vampires will come for me. Maybe Taylor Lautner will come to the rescue. But one thing is for sure: I’m getting out my garlic.

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The Scale of Cynicism: a call for call centre courtesy

I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Some call centres are important, and some people who work there do a great job. But if I get hung up on by another call centre without them saying good-bye, next time they ring I am going to put them on hold…if I could, damn it. It seems ridiculous to me that so many workers complain about how hard it is to be hung up on or talk to rude customers when they hypocritically do the same thing themselves.

This is Britain, the land of common (and often superfluous) courtesy, so why can’t people adopt this over the phone? Surely call centres want to create a good relationship with the people they harass phone, as evidenced by the incredibly irritating first-name-parroting-a-thousand-times-per-sentence they often do. If a friend hung up on me without a word they could jolly well expect a very cold shoulder and a kiss-free text. Perhaps a passive-aggressive Facebook status if they were lucky.

However, I am becoming increasingly aware of my position on the Scale of Cynicism (which goes from 1 to Jack Dee), so am making it my ambition each time the phone rings to have a delightfully polite conversation with someone who may or may not be trying to sell me things I don’t need at a price which may or may not be astronomically inflated. So far, I’m not doing terribly well.Is it the lack of face-to-face contact that makes such rudeness acceptable? Maybe not for any of Jeremy Kyle’s guests, for whom there are no boundaries, but it is true that a cowardly ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach has been adopted by internet trolls. So maybe this is the problem with call centres. Each customer is dismissed as a mere statistic and no pretence of courtesy, emotion or authenticity is endeavoured. I know that if I behaved in this manner at my job, I would be sacked instantaneously.

So, to courteously conclude this post, I will hasten to add that if the person you would like to speak with Madam is not available, a thank-you and good-bye would not go amiss. Thank-you. Good-bye.

Waterproof underwear and the world’s dirtiest tub: at least sexism isn’t seasonal

It’s coming up to holiday season and I personally cannot wait to parade around half-naked wearing a bikini in front of complete strangers. What could be more thrilling than to squeeze into, let’s face it, some waterproof underwear and take a bath in the world’s dirtiest tub? Nothing, if by thrilling you mean: a keen sense of Sweaty Panic and a fear that everyone can see it, as you saunter stumble across the beach.

So, I think you can understand why I am not jumping at the annual obligation of wearing a bikini on holiday. For one thing, they are so uncomfortable and stress-inducing that the only possible reason for their existence is to satisfy the dirty old men, who will probably be sporting baggy shorts and a t-shirt. Oh well, at least sexism isn’t seasonal.One of my favourite things about this time of year is that as we girls are sucking in our stomachs and exerting an incredible amount of effort to look effortless, inevitably several fat old men will be slouched on sun loungers, picking their noses and gawping at us. Younger men actually manage to keep the ogling on the down-low during the day, so they get an “A” for discretion, but the old pervs are a mystery to me. I figure that as their eyesight deteriorates, they think they can be seen less too.

And now, as if they weren’t bad enough alone, apparently we have to wear jewellery with our bikinis. How has this got anything to do with swimming anymore? Last time I checked, toe-rings and bangles were not part of Team GB’s wardrobe essentials. The pressure placed upon women to look perfect come summer is terrible. If you want to dress up (or down, rather), lose weight or wear jewellery at ridiculous moments then fine. If not, great. I for one though, will not be changing myself based on the season, and certainly not for the benefit of others.

Keep your money: I would rather not become a diluted prostitute

Following some of my recent posts I have received many comments from men about their views on feminism. Some of them are not bothered, some are supportive and some even give examples of how they enact this support. They can go to the top of the class! Well, some of them can…

Unsurprisingly, I have encountered some examples of what I like to call False Feminism. This refers to actions which men believe to be feminist, but actually come across as condescending and sexist. For example, I think one man may have confused supporting women’s rights with Patronising The Life Out Of Them when he insisted on pushing me to the inside of the pavement to protect me from the scary road. Apparently some women are even allowed to drive cars nowadays? Shocking! Another frequent misconception is that a man physically defending a woman from a verbal insult is supporting the movement. Au contraire my chivalrous knight, punching an aggressive person for being rude to ‘your woman’ actually makes the situation worse, never mind demonstrating that you believe you own her.

But the worst offender on my list of False Feminism is the man who supports gender equality by giving a woman financial security. Funnily enough, as well as being able to drive, women can go to work and earn money themselves as readily as men can (ignoring the wage gap, that’s a whole new rant), so to declare to a woman that she will never have to pay for anything ever again is actually the opposite of supporting equality and completely inappropriate. Especially on a first date. Speaking of which, flashing a wad of tens and presenting expensive jewellery is equally unhelpful. This type of behaviour is otherwise known as buying a woman and, as much as I appreciate the offer, I would rather not become a diluted prostitute. Maybe that’s what I should expect from Tinder.

I realise that this might sound like a rejection of anything men do for women, but it really is not. If a man suggests a date then he can by all means pay for it, but this should not be an assumed norm and most importantly should work when the roles are reversed. The point is, whether you are walking along the road, ‘defending’ a woman or paying for her dinner, you should not assume that your role as a man is the one which denies her any responsibility or autonomy. Go on, take a break from reinforcing gender roles.

Jeremy Kyle: Saving the Nation

I like to think we can gain a reasonable impression of the state of society from what is currently on television. For example, the obsession with fame is demonstrated well by the enormous amount of reality television on our screens, which also shows how liberal society has become – even talent has become an unnecessary aspect of talent shows. But without going too far into my devil theories about Simon Cowell or disparaging his ‘entertainment programmes’, I’d like to address another mogul of ITV: Jeremy Kyle.

Please can somebody explain to me at what point a person thinks, gosh, the only solution to my drinking/drugs/stealing/anger/sexual problem is to appear on national television brawling with whomever it affected/pointed it out? Personally I would rather get my arse out on Embarrassing Bodies than prove to the nation that I’ve got an arse of a personality. It could be that they are desperate for Jezza’s top-quality after-care, however the quantity of returning cast-members to this disturbed pantomime would suggest not. This is how low we have sunk. The fame game has become so easy that you only have to sleep with your sister to become a celebrity.

I think most of us understand the lunacy of the participants, but what about those who watch Jeremy’s circus of slobs? In all fairness he does point this out, but the hypocrisy of Jeremy telling his rising stars to get a job whilst encouraging a studio audience to take a day off work to watch him do so is incredible.

But why do we find ourselves watching it anyway? Evidently the behaviour showcased on this programme is not admirable, so maybe it is supposed to show us how not to act, or make us feel better about our own problems, fashion-sense and teeth. Admittedly, amongst all the anger this embarrassment of a show creates inside me, there is a smug, self-congratulatory part of me that knows I would never behave like the people who take part in it. Or broadcast it to the nation.

So in a mind-blowing U-turn, I would like to thank Jeremy Kyle and his shameless participants. Why, oh why? Because, dear reader, they have brilliantly reminded me that television is not always an accurate reflection of society.  

Ageflash: You can play strip poker sitting down

As a child, the few weeks before your birthday are incredibly exciting, intolerably so. Waiting. Anticipating. Wondering just which toy from the Argos catalogue you will receive this year. But inevitably, the older you get, the less you look forward to it. Age comes to all of us unfortunately. Just imagine my horror to find out that Brad Pitt is older than my dad. (Cue existential crisis.) Well, there goes another person on to the pile of inappropriate crushes in my mind.

So, as my own birthday approaches, it’s not looking that great. Besides the fact that it has been, and will forever be, situated in the middle of exam season, the thought of it now being considered odd for me to hire a bouncy castle or play Biscuits on Strings (I’ll tell you later) is distinctly depressing. Never fear, dear reader, not one to bow to social conventions I will be doing at least the latter, even if I look weird. And why shouldn’t I? It would be ridiculous to have an ageist constraint placed on an eighteen-year-old, so why do we do it against older people? I appreciate that physical difficulties might impede an eighty-year-old’s enjoyment of Twister, but you can play strip poker sitting down.

More importantly, age should not be the determining factor in a person’s job prospects. The media is constantly shoving older women behind the scenes to shield our eyes from the ghastly beasts called wrinkles, grey hair and menopause, or patronising them with quotas, allowances and Loose Women. In contrast, older men are allowed to dodder on in the limelight to the brink of cremation – I’m sorry Brucie, that was harsh – the brink of senility. Whilst some might not admit it, we all know that skill and talent is more important to job competency than superficial beauty, and this has nothing to do with age.

So, as a person ever keen to Practise What I Jolly Well Preach, I am going to resume my crush on Brad Pitt. I encourage you to do the same.