Weekly Newsletter – issue 03


Issue 03 : 12 June 2017


Welcome to my weekly digest, covering things I’ve been reading, and interesting fact, my favourite posts on Instagram and a few things I’ve spotted that are on my shopping list. 

Oh my goodness, WHAT a week. I’m not sure I could do a weekly summary without mentioning the UK election. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week (probably very happy and blissfully unaware of this strange new world that is unfolding around us) you’ll know that it was the UK general election on Thursday. And what a nail-biter it was too!

Election chat:

Short story: Imagine it’s a few months ago. Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) is ahead in the popularity polls, and unexpectedly – after denying that she’ll call a general election – calls a general election in a thinly-veiled attempt to try and gain a further majority to push through some horrendous legislation. She refuses to debate the leader of the opposition on television. Both manage to eat hot dogs and bacon sandwiches without being made into memes. The country is pleased that Jeremy Corbyn under Labour will offer free school meals and a fully-costed manifesto, although they are a bit worried about money matters (who isn’t?). They go to the polls on Thursday to cast their vote. The election coverage starts at 10pm, and it all seems to be normal; everyone is expecting a Tory majority.

When SUDDENLY – this mad-looking chap called John Curtice appears, and tells everyone that the exit poll predicts a hung parliament. There is plenty of “oh but the exit poll might be wrong” and “well, you never know with these polls” – and everyone is STILL shocked when Labour gain over thirty seats. THIRTY. And the Tory party lose seats. It’s a hung parliament, meaning there is no overall winner, and everyone is very British about it. Confused about what happens next (Tory and DUP coalition? But they want to remove abortion, and think Creationism should be taught as scientific fact, and don’t believe in climate change – what madness is this?) it looks like everyone has lost the election.

So here we are, in this weird place where our politicians are confused, we’re confused, and nobody knows what on earth is going on. ISN’T POLITICS FUN.

I, for one, screamed in joy at the exit poll and danced up the hallway. Because in a harsh world that continues to horrify me, these small things (like half the British people realising that the Tories might not be the good guys, and Comey’s frank testimony to congress over in the U.S.) fills me with hope. And as a bleeding-heart liberal, hope is about all I’ve got.

Trump chat:

I do recommend watching at least the highlights of Comey’s testimony. It’s very interesting to listen to – but he does also say some fantastically weird things, besides “I can’t answer that in an open setting” over and over again. One of my favourites was, “I worried it was like feeding seagulls at the beach.”. He also quotes Henry II: “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

It’s worth a watch. A fascinating insight into the Trump administration.

Other news:

Beyond biting my nails down to the quick thanks to one hell of a week in politics (students in 50 years time are going to have fun analysing 2015-2017 aren’t they?) I haven’t done an awful lot this week. I’ve been working on a podcast with someone, which is quite good fun, but I still haven’t quite nailed the whole being-in-front-of-a-microphone thing. Is there anyone out there who actually likes the sound of their own voice!?

I’ve also been watching the original Twilight Zone from the 50s. I’ve been putting off watching it for a while, but now I.AM.HOOKED. They are such lovely 25-minute shorts, all with a sci-fi theme to them. Considering they are 60 years old now (gulp) they are still very relatable, and thoroughly fascinating. Growing up with Hollywood of the 80s and 90s, I’ve been trained to expect the plot beats, Save The Cat style, but these always seem to surprise me. The pilot episode had me guessing all the way through, and I really didn’t see that end coming. Please someone, watch the Twilight Zone too, so I can excitedly talk about it with you!

> The Twilight Zone, Season One (1959)


Mark Devenport: ‘DUP deals and dialogue: where are we now?’

Anthony J. Williams : ‘making sense of white domestic terrorism’

The School Of Life: ‘How To Be Sad’ (video)

Sarah Schuster: ‘Texts To Send Someone With Depression’

Tobias Stone: ‘Trump has damaged America, not the environment’

Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘Fear is boring, and other tips for living a creative life’

Nathan Hill: ‘The Nix’ (book)


This week, the Madrid transport authorities tackled a problem that is quite close to my heart: manspreading. In case you’re linguistically curious, in Spanish, they translate that as ‘El Manspreading’. (I’m personally pretty disappointed that they didn’t just make up their own attractive-sounding word; ‘el hombre-extensión’ or, even better, ‘persona-untada’.)

They’ve not gone as far as to make it illegal, but they have put signs up all over the metro asking people to take up their fair share of seat. I only wish they’d bring the same signage over here, as it’s not really the height of summer yet and I’m already at my limit of sweaty strangers’ legs. I was surprised to learn this week that there doesn’t seem to be any similar signage anywhere else in the word, beyond a more generic “don’t be rude, dude” which has popped up on the NYC metro.

I did however discover that -whilst manspreading seems to be okay to do everywhere but Madrid – kissing on the train carries a penalty fine of £42 in Austria. They classify kissing as ‘discourteous behaviour’, which I think is a pretty weird definition of kissing. Eating smelly food? Fine. Putting your feet on the seats? Sure, be my guest. A polite peck on the lips at the end of a date night? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

It’s also outlawed in Eboli in Italy, where kissing in a moving vehicle can incur a fine of up to £415. No, I’m not sure how they reached that number either.

“Kissing must be stamped out!”
“But how much shall we fine those rude individuals who flaunt the rules?”
“How about £40?”
“What are you on, Roberto? I was thinking more…£345?”
“That seems a bit too random. How about £400?”
“Seems a bit…too rounded to me. And I don’t like zeros. Don’t ask me why – probably some childhood trauma.”
“Okay…um, £425?”
“Way too much!”
“£415?”
“Hm, okay. I guess that sounds okay. Of course, nobody will question a fine with such a random amount.”
“I guess it’s quite romantic to chance a £415 fine for the person you love.”
“You disgust me, Roberto.”


View this post on Instagram

in the beginning

A post shared by Poorly Drawn Lines (@poorlydrawnlines) on

 


 

I have no idea where they’ve all come from, but I suddenly have A LOT of brooches. And is that a surprise when cute bonsai brooches like this exist?! I was quite excited when Lottie & Lu launched, selling Baccurelli, Erstwilder and Deer Arrow brooches to us poor sods in the UK whom might otherwise have to deal with expensive import fees – finally, somewhere I can go to get my weird and wonderful brooches! I’m in love with the Japanese collection from Erstwilder, in particular this sweet bonsai brooch, with a little red background. This striking beauty is available from the Lottie & Lu website for £22.

‘Breathtaking Bonsai’ from Erstwilder (via Lottie & Lu)

Oh my goodness – how amazing is this dress?! I am particularly in love with the red, but it turns out there are loads of other colours available on the UV website, including a lovely polka dot. I’m normally not a huge fan of halterneck dresses (as I, um, struggle without a bra, and I think bra straps ruin the look somewhat!) but I love the way this one crosses over at the front, which seems to be a bit more supportive. And I adore the shape, and the flare! Simple, but beautiful. It’s only $78 direct from Unique Vintage, but that might incur some customs fees, which can be quite steep for me in the UK. I found this red version available at Deadly Is The Female, which is a gorgeous store based in Frome, Somerset, which also has a speedy online counterpart. They deliver DPD too (I avoid Yodel like the plague) and their customer service is second to none, so I thoroughly recommend them!

> For UK buyers, ‘Rita’ is still available from Deadly Is The Female for £90 in sizes Medium to XL

caitlin-swing-dress

Anyone who knows me well will know that my wardrobe is pretty much 90% Collectif clothing. Which isn’t exactly surprising, when they keep releasing cute prints like this one! The blue is such a lovely mid-blue, and it’s covered in teeny anchors and helms. A subtle but summery nautical dress. I love their thicker belts too! Sadly, I can’t justify buying this blue dream (yet) as I splashed out on the Jade dress recently, as well as a Jasmine skirt. Here are fingers and toes crossed that this pops up in a sale sometime soon…

This is available in sizes 6 to 22 (the wide range of sizes is one thing I am especially fond of Collectif for!) and is £51. Collectif delivery is £5.50, but is IS DPD, which is one of the more reliable couriers.

> The ‘Caitlin’ Nautical Swing Dress is available direct from the Collectif website


 

Commute like a total nutter with this one weird tip

Mile End in rush hour is like the next level down from Hell where even Satan refuses to go to; throngs of people armed with what seems like a million suitcases, and armies of commuter clones ready to elbow you out of the way for the benefit of added room for their Starbucks extra-wet skinny soya mocha-latte.

I arrive to the central line platform of Hell at the beginning of rush hour this morning to find the expected crowds are somewhat larger than usual, thanks to a well-timed signal failure.
Figuring I am at the back of a queue of about 500 angry now-late Eastenders, I pop out for a cheeky coffee whilst the queues subside slightly.

30 minutes later, fully caffeinated and ready for some commuter action, I saunter downstairs and wait patiently for the train to arrive on the, now significantly emptier, platform.

The train pulls in — and I am pleasantly surprised to spot a seat available in the middle of a row. Hungry for the touch of that worn, soft, blue fabric that has graced the derrières of thousands of strangers, I gingerly approach, warding off any other seat predators with my best ‘don’t fuck with me’ expression. There aren’t many, so I just look like a mildly disturbed young woman (which is not far from true).
With an expert precision known only to regular Central Line travellers, I twist about and tuck myself into my seaty prize without headbutting the pole. Win.

Immediately, I register a problem. No, it is not the seat itself — which is, it had to be said, just averagely sticky at the edges and only mildly stained.

No, it is a lot worse than that. The large (and by this, I mean tall and broad and with the mean look of someone who could knock a man dead just by tapping his shoulder) businessman next to me has a problem. Which is now my problem too.

This man is a very serious manspreader.
I mean, THE WORST.
Imagine you measured every manspreader in history with a metre stick to mark the distance between the knees: this man would require at least four metre sticks, and is definitely in the upper percentile of gentlemen-whose-legs-are-extremely-wide-apart-when-seated-on-public-transport.
The distance between New York and Beijing would have nothing on this guy; he is virtually running his own airline from knee to knee. Each leg has its own ecosystem.

Initially, feeling that my personal space is being violated by these offending ecosystems, I privately bubble with fury over how selfish and inconsiderate he is being. I find myself getting increasingly angry at the touch of his enormous knee on mine. His patella is doing an excavation to find my hip bone, and it was in every way just as bad as it sounds. It hurts.

Then I have a thought. Why am I just sitting here and letting it happen? Am I not becoming part of the problem if I just sit back, silently infuriated, and allow this kind of behaviour to happen?

London, it was time to make a stand. I do what I’m sure every one of us poor individuals imposed on by these power-high twitheads has always wanted to do, but felt too angry and violated and British about the whole thing to do so.

I TACKLE THE MANSPREADER. HEAD-ON (or leg-on, whatever) in the most passive-aggressive way I can possibly think of.

I widen my legs (luckily I am not wearing a skirt) (actually, so what if I am? I have nothing to hide and that would just add extra drama to my story) and gently nudge my thigh back into his enormous leg — which is no small feat, I tell you.
And because he was just so large and so imposing, just for extra points I push out my elbows. Just slowly, so it isn’t too obvious.

And just like that — war has been declared.

In retaliation, he pushes his knee into mine and the silent battle well and truly begins. I respond by sitting further back in my seat and widening my legs even further. Then everyone else gets off the tube and we’re both still sat there, many other seats now available but still pushing knees. His leg starts shaking so I guess at least he’s putting some effort into it.

This continues for a number of stops. I think about all the empty seats opposite us and dream of a parallel world where I had got on a different carriage and was having a nice, uneventful journey to work. Instead, I am locked in an endless battle of pride and strength with a total stranger, neither of us willing to just give up and move to one of the many, many beautiful empty blue seats around us.
It’s gross; his leg is so firmly wedged into mine that our femurs are basically kissing.

I eventually realise that like true war, this was not going to be won by the troops downstairs. (In fact, my knee is beginning to hurt a bit. And anyway, by this time my legs are so far apart I’m virtually doing the splits. On the Central Line. It’s very uncomfortable.)

No, this needed to be won through charm and diplomacy.

I tap his knee with my finger.
“Do you mind?” I say, edging my knee further into his.

His head snaps up like one ugly balding Jack-in-the-box and he glowers at me furiously. “Yeah, I do actually.”

“Well maybe you could consider how much space you’re taking up.”

He looks incredulous. Oh good, I think. Touched a nerve. Excellent.

And it then descends into everyone’s childhood.
“Maybe YOU should!” He gesticulates at my lap.

I shrug. “You set the example, I’m just imitating it.”

“But you’re on my side of the seat!”

Laughable, because I point out where the line between the two seats should be, were it not for his leg/bottom/existence. (If I could do the emoji face for how I felt right then it would be the squinty grinning face with those little tears of laughter coming from both eyes.) “Actually, see, I’m not,” I reply. “You’ve imposed yourself on both sides around you. That woman to your left has been squashed into the glass. And you’ve actually moved your legs closer since I pointed it out.”

He pauses. “And so what if I am?”
He shoves his knee back into mine. (Mature.)

“Wow. I’m not sure I’ve sat next to someone before with such a total lack of respect for the people around them.”

“And I don’t think I’ve sat next to such a total nutter before. Justify it, so what if I am?”

“Well, I think it could be viewed as sexist if you’re imposing yourself into women’s personal space because you think you can get away with it. I bet you wouldn’t be acting this rudely if I were a large burly man.”

Silence. He looks at me, and it is not a glare, it actually looks like a mixture of embarrassment and horror.

I break the silence.
“You’ve never been pulled up on this before have you.”

Small pause. “No.”

I move my legs back to a normal seating position, and in a voice reserved for only those in which I am EXTREMELY disappointed, I say, “Well, next time be a bit more considerate of those sat next to you.”

The train comes to a stop at the next station.
And wordlessly, he gets off.


Originally written in 2016. Whilst nobody was harmed in the making of this story, some egos may have been.