Dearest Doctor, please return thy to ye old world of yesteryear.

I can picture it now, sitting here at my desk when all of a sudden I hear this loud noise outside in the garden. I look out my bedroom window but see nothing, so I go to the window on the landing, again nothing. So I climb over the clutter in the spare bedroom and look out the back window where I spot it, there, on top of our garage, the TARDIS. If it happened I’d probably be petrified, but that’s beside the point.

Today’s theme was set by me and I asked the Katys to tell the world what period in time/or person from history they would visit if the Doctor offered them just one trip.

My favourite part of history is the Second World War, I’m not sure why because I know it’s not ‘interesting’ in a happy way, but the Holocaust particularly fascinates me to no end. I’ve studied it at school, read books set in occupied Europe, even visited museums dedicated to the war and more significantly, the Holocaust itself.

But do I really want to visit it? Probably not.

As much as I love that period in history, I’d like it to stay in books and museums because it’s hard enough standing in a museum staring at thousands of shoes all piled up remembering that once upon a time their wearers were alive. Until they were brutally murdered in concentration camps. But the thing that scares me the most isn’t that, per se (though it is frightening to imagine being there), it’s the thought of being in a world where guns and bombs are so common that you don’t actually know if you’re going to survive until the next day. So I’m going to put my favourite part of history to one side and opt for something a little more…sober.

Despite setting this theme myself, I actually cannot think of any specific person in history I would like to meet. Nor can I think of a time, in terms of significant events or specific moments that I’d like to be there to see. I do, however, know that I’d love to go back to a period in history where the world was a lot simpler.

I am a self-confessed modern day girl in that I’m bisexual (that wouldn’t be very accepted way back when, however, without the internet and the television programme Skins, perhaps I’d never have realised), I’m a bit of a feminist at times (my simpler time being back before the twentieth century and so before the suffragettes made their mark) and I don’t believe in God…something which really would be seen as terrible in the simpler times I hope to visit. I also love the internet, television, technology generally is something I enjoy to use.

But that doesn’t mean that a simpler time would be any less enjoyable. It would be weird at first, an adjustment to live in a world where I have nothing I’m used to, but I know I could do it. I’ve had to live without my mobile phone on more than one occasion and aside from the brief visits to the internet in the two months I spent at summer camp, I lived in a world which was rather rustic and old fashioned.

I like the idea of living within your means, not wanting to stretch yourself too thinly because there’s nothing you really want that you don’t really need. Right now I’m surrounded by things I own which serve no purpose in terms of making my life better. I could live without them. I don’t *need* an iPod, I don’t *need* a sewing machine, I don’t *need* a webcam. If I was in a simpler I wouldn’t need to worry about that because I could milk cows, or cook dinner, or sweep floors. I could walk across moors and through forests just to get to the nearest village.

I tend to have quite old fashioned values so I think I would fit in quite well. Despite yesterday’s rant about how chivalry is a little sexist, in years gone by it would be normal and I’d be okay with that because that would be the era I’m in.

As much as I dislike reading books like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice (the stories are great, I just hate the language) the worlds they’re set in have something magical about them. It’s like it’s a time where you just want to be because everyone is so happy and though that’s not really true, there’s certain conventions which you live by and you do it because it’s expected of you and that’s normal.

So, Doctor, I don’t care which date we go back to (as long as we avoid plagues and wars) just make it a long, long time ago so that I can live in a simple world without the complications we have today. Oh and be sure there’s cows, remember, I’d like to milk one.

Find out which period in history Katy and Katy opted to visit by reading their blogs – lilmisskaty and katysense.

Can something be extinct which hasn’t really existed for a long time anyway?

I’m not talking about types of tiger or parrot; I’m talking about the age old act of chivalry.

(Click image for website where image is from.)

A long time ago chivalry was known to be “an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others” connected to the knightly virtues of Courage, Justice, Mercy, Generosity, Faith, Nobility, Hope, Strength, Truth, Humility and Determination. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry)

In modern times we associate chivalry as being an act of men sweeping women off their feet and treating them right; picking them up for the date, opening doors, ensuring they gets home safely. They’re all acts we consider to be the nicest way a woman can be treated by a man. But some say such acts are old fashioned and some believe that men who exhibit them are a dying breed.

Others are likely to believe that such acts are actually quite sexist. Why can’t a woman open her own doors? Does a woman really need a man to pick her up or is she perfectly capable of finding her own way to a restaurant or other location?

These old fashioned values, which actually tie in quite nicely with the knightly virtues, are lovely in an ideal world where people treat each other kindly. Except that why should men do all the work? We no longer live in a world where men are the most powerful sex. They don’t take home all of the bacon; in fact some women will earn more than their date. I find the whole thing quite old fashioned. I happen to believe that there’s nothing wrong in the woman picking the man up for a date, or paying for lunch, or opening the doors. Why shouldn’t we? It’s the twenty-first century and women are more than capable of being independent people who do not need men doing things for them in order to live.

Besides, it’s not about being chivalrous; it’s about being respectful of the person you’re with. If leaving/entering a shop I’m likely to hold the door open for the next person, because it feels like the right thing to do. Alternatively, there are more and more people out there performing random acts of kindness where they’re paying for a random person’s coffee in a queue at Starbucks, or something similar. It doesn’t take a man to be kind, nor does it take a knight.

There’s also the more recently accepted world of homosexuality.

If you have two men on a date, who should hold open the doors? Alternatively, if lesbians were on a date are they both going to be stood waiting for a door to be opened for hours? Probably not. They’re clever enough to just open it themselves.

Regardless of gender and sexuality, whoever opens the door first should hold it open for their partner. Each person is perfectly capable of opening their own car door. If one person asked the other on the date then they can pay (“it’s on me”) though the other person should probably pay for a later date, or they can go dutch, or a bit of half and half where one person pays for the main course and the other for drinks and dessert; all options work.

I do believe that men can and should exhibit some of the age old knightly virtues; it would be rather wonderful to see a man’s generosity, or humility. It’s a far cry from the idiots you find in clubs who feel they have the right to touch someone they don’t even know or try to chat them up with cheesy pick-up lines. But I also believe that women, too, should show their generosity and humility. Knightly virtues may have originated in a man-ruled world where sexism was “the way it is” but it’s not the way it is anymore and women are more than capable of being as virtuous as the knights of medieval times.

Today’s theme was brought to you by Katysense, to read hers and LilmissKaty’s blogs for today, or other themes, then visit our Twitter Blogathon page.

Spooky Goings On

Monday is Halloween, as you probably know, a day which tends to be celebrated in many ways by many people. Despite it still struggling to take hold of the UK (we know it’s been all the rage in the USA for decades) I’ve actually noticed a decline in the way we celebrate.

I remember as a child going trick or treating as it was fantastic, then by the time I got to thirteen nobody wanted to give us anything and those that did gave us money. One year I remember Halloween was on a weekday (like this year) and my friends and I went out at the weekend – someone told us off for trick or treating ahead of time.

I’ve never really been too sure of that aspect of Halloween. When should you stop trick or treating? Is it appropriate to celebrate on a day other than the day itself?

These days the problem seems to be neither here nor there. I don’t know many teenagers willing to go out trick or treating and as a rule of thumb, people generally opt for parties instead of roaming the streets.

One year we were all prepared with sweets, sat there in the front room with a pumpkin in the window (I think) and waited.

Nobody came.

So we ate the sweets.

Another year I tried to buy a pumpkin but couldn’t find one anywhere!

I’m not a big celebrator of the ‘holiday’, I don’t tend to go to Halloween parties (don’t know of any to go to) and I don’t have any little kids to take out in the street. So I usually sit at home and treat it like any other day…except we usually have sweets for trick or treaters.

And it’s my sister’s birthday.

Last year it fell on a Sunday so we went to Pendle Hill which is well known round these parts because of the Pendle Witches. Very Halloweeny. There’s a little shop full of spooky things especially for anyone in search of a bit of Pendle Witch history. Then we went to another little village nearby (possibly the actual village of Pendle, I can’t remember) where we went for a walk. They had a charity run…hang on…this year we’re going watching my sister run in some fancy dress run, perhaps it’s the same thing…anyway, that was an enjoyable way to spend the last Halloween. This year we’re going for a meal with my sister (obviously) after the run.

Strangely enough this year my boss who I do consider a friend is due to give birth (today) and is desperate NOT to have a Halloween baby. Fingers crossed.

P.S. Apologies, this should have been written yesterday. Can’t believe I went to bed without doing so. Sorry lilmisskaty who set the theme.

Home is where I’ve always been

I’ve lived in the same house for my whole life, that’s twenty-four years and nine months. The first few days I probably stayed in the hospital and for two weeks in primary school we moved in with my grandma and granddad whilst we had some work done on the house and I spent three months in the USA. But aside from that, I’ve only ever had one place that I call home.

As you can probably guess, when faced with the option to move away to university, I decided not to. I wasn’t ready at the time and actually was quite happy living at home. I like having my cats around me and I enjoy going home to my parents for the most part.

Nowadays it’s a little more complicated than wanting to stay at home or not. Not only do I have no money to move out of home but I also have no one to move out with, so would have to live on my own. I’m not sure I want to do that at the moment. I don’t know.

Anyway, my home has always been this detached house in Bolton where I’ve had three different bedrooms. Once upon a time my sister’s and I shared a bedroom whilst my parents had the master bedroom. Then my eldest sister moved into the box room. Then after we had our house extended and a further bedroom put on the back of the house for my parents, I moved into the little bedroom whilst my sisters had the other two bigger rooms. Finally, when my eldest sister officially moved out of home I got the other big bedroom.

I think there’s advantages to living in the same house forever. I know this area like the back of my hand, I know where feels safe and where doesn’t feel safe. Perhaps I take a few risks walking along a couple of small paths when it’s pitch black, or last night I was dropped off a minute’s walk from my house about eleven. But I feel comfortable doing so because I know this area is a good one, in that crime is generally minimal.

My second childhood best friend used to live up the road (and still does as far as I know, or at least her family still do, though we don’t really know each other anymore) so I spent a lot of time going up and down my street at various times of the day (and night). We’d go and play at each other’s houses which sometimes involved starting at one and ending up at the other. I remember when I was small her mum would stand at the top of the road by their house and watch me walk down to make sure I was safe. It’s good really because it made me feel independent even though I was being watched.

Though sometimes I wish I didn’t have the same connection with this one house. I hear of other people who have moved once or twice or multiples times in their lives, some people have moved from others town and cities not just nearby but on the other side of the country. I feel a little envious because the connection I have with this house sometimes makes me feel like a dog with a rope around my neck. I don’t want to live anywhere else because the thought of not living here is actually pretty scary. Especially when I know my parents want to move. It’s all I’ve ever known and though I dream of all the possibilities, I know that part of me wants to live here forever. Lottery win anyone?

I guess it’s a cushy little place to live – a good distance away from many shops, supermarket, reasonably good bus links, plus a short bus ride from a town. If I ever got stranded in my house with no transport out of here, I know that I could walk to ASDA or a pizza shop, or even pasty shops. It’s all there, within reach.

I was actually discussing this sort of thing yesterday with someone, we were talking about the North/South divide/battle type thing that goes on. I confessed that I am fiercely protective of Bolton, the North West and the North and yet I’m not that way when I’m faced with having to be patriotic. But the gist of the conversation was that I’m happy here, in the North, in Bolton and this is where home is. I may move out of it, I may move further afield, but right now, as I said to Hannah, I don’t feel like I need to. For example, I don’t want to look for jobs in say the South just because I struggle to find one up North. Why should I have to move? Why should I have to move to have a job?

Because really, this is my home and it may not always be home, but for the last almost twenty-five years it has been and right now, that’s all that matters.

The day Fiona socialised…I know, I know…

Today I visited the DW Stadium in Wigan for the final event with this years summer job on The Challenge. For those that don’t know, The Challenge is a programme run over the summer for young people who have just finished school. They spend three weeks challenging themselves in many ways, personally, emotionally, physically, in teams and it’s rather intense. All of the young people who ‘graduated’ today have been through the three week summer programme where they went on an expedition, learnt a skill and planned community projects. Over the weekends in September the young people then conducted their projects with the assistance of people like me, their mentors.

As with anything that involves adults around a certain age (as much as it pains me to stereotype) there was a big night of celebration planned. The ‘core’ staff had spent a year putting this programme together and many summer staff had put a lot of work into making it successful. Everyone was there with them to see the 2011 programme end.

I’m not one for socialising. It’s not that I dislike it but I tend to avoid it for several reasons. 1. I like to chat, clubs/very noisy bars and I don’t mix. 2. I don’t have friends to socialise with. 3. I hate not knowing how I’m going to get home safely, especially from a place I’m unfamiliar with at a time I’d be quite happily sat at my computer.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t do more of it if I could because there are certain kinds of socialising I’m more than happy with. Take this afternoon for example. A handful of summer staff (including myself) attended the second of four graduations. As the core members of staff had to work until the end we had about four hours of time to kill. So we went to a pub and ate lunch, sat chatting and generally enjoyed laughter and the company.

The other upside is the people I was with liked me enough to hold a conversation with me, to ask me questions (which I sometimes need in order to help prompt me to speak) and generally I felt part of the group not someone sat on the outside. Which has been known to happen on many occasions.

Once we returned to the DW Stadium we had a couple of drinks at their bar and I somehow ended up moving to a new group of people – well one I’d spent half the day with but knew less well and one who I’d spent some time with in September. We had a really enjoyable time chatting. Then we were joined by someone new, well I’d met her at training in June. She was lovely and we continued to laugh and joke and yet again I was part of the group.

We eventually moved on to Revolution. I’d never been in a Revolution bar before but I expected your average very noisy bar with little space to think let alone talk. I agreed to stay as Ed (the programme manager) offered me a lift home. Since my getting home was sorted the whole night felt infinitely easier. I went and sat down with slightly different people which lead to me being sat next to someone I dislike, but I handled that. I tried my best to be part of the conversation as much as I could…and I did a good job. I could have sat there silently and listened/watched it happen but I didn’t.

The Challenge have a few new staff members and I was happily sat next door but one to a lovely young woman called Emily (cute, lovely voice…but straight and has a boyfriend). She introduced herself which helped but I was intrigued enough that I hoped I’d find a way to talk to her anyway…and I did. I asked her about her life before The Challenge. Check me out, asking people questions and starting up a conversation. That’s not usually what I do.

Anyway, eventually I ended up on a table listening and watching and not participating anymore, so I moved. And thus I realised that I, Fiona Bond, mingled. That’s right. I spent the day with different groups of people and I enjoyed it.

In all fairness I had moved to a table with Helen and Michaela on it, who are both all kinds of awesome. In fact earlier when I’d told Helen I planned to go home she told me not to. She said I wouldn’t have a good enough excuse and she was right.

And you know what? I enjoyed it. It was everything I would want from a night out.

Plus, as short a time it was, I got to meet Tallulah (though maybe not officially) who has the most amazing voice…and to be honest, the face really matches it. ;P

Then having done all that I got my lift home with Ed, just me and him in his car which seemed a little awkward (I’ve had loads of lifts off Ed this summer except there’s always been others in the car too) but it was actually alright. I asked questions…I know, what have I done with the real Fiona, right?!

The only thing that makes me feel sad about the whole thing is no matter how much I want this to be regular and for me to have people I can spend time with in that way, I don’t. Ah well.

I still did it, when this morning I thought I wouldn’t. Proudness.

F#*@%^¥ S%#*^!•* C!@*€ (beware the swear)

From today’s title you either think I’m very angry or you’ve guessed today’s theme, yes that’s right, swearing. Please be warned, this blog post will contain real swearing, without #^*€!.

I have a rather love/hate relationship with the language of vulgarity. I tend to dislike swearing. In spoken form 90% of swearing (not a factual statistic, one made up for the sake of this sentence) is useless and unneeded. Do you effing really effing need to effing use effing every second or third word?

Swearing seems to have become nouns, adjectives, verbs, the lot.

There’s the odd occasion when I don’t mind swearing; the odd word in a song (Sarah McLachlan’s Building a Mystery is prime example of how swearing actually works as language not just insult/anger/randomness – “you’re so beautiful, beautiful fucked up man”) I don’t like it when they’re every few words in songs (though Song for the Dumped is rather funny by Ben Folds, however, thats from a comical viewpoint – “well fuck you too give me my money back give me my money back you bitch I want my money”), when you stub a toe and/or hurt yourself and in fiction as long as it works in the world you’ve created.

The time I swear the most is when I’m angry. If I’m really worked up it can be very unpretty I must say. I’ve always tended to avoid swearing other than that. My friends used to know I was angry based on the swearing tirades coming from my mouth. Also, working with children and young people I simple can’t swear around them which is easy.

That has changed some though and it’s all because of Skins (I can still avoid it around children though, of course). I was exposed to a world in which swearing is frequent and vulgar. I now have to think a little harder sometimes to turn off the swearing switch. Though why is it easy when there’s children around? I’d probably be fine if I didn’t write Skins fanfiction but when you’ve got Cook’s potty mouth to contend with and that’s only on the side of everyone else’s love of swearing.

In life though I don’t believe it’s truly needed as much as we allow it. Society has accepted it as another way of speaking, almost like we accept people speaking another language. No longer are the days where children swearing gets them in trouble. I guess I come from quite a middle-class background in that swearing was never part of daily life and even now as an adult I wouldn’t swear in front of my parents. I turned the TV over last night to someone using the f-word, my mum had left the room but the TV was quite loud, even that left me feeling uncomfortable. I really would rather live without it though. I don’t believe a lot of swear words are used very nicely at all. And yes I hold my hand up with the rest of them, but if the world around me wasn’t covered head to toe in swearing and I didn’t have to use it in my writing, I’d rather hang up the swearing boots for good.

The Bad Boy is Back…

For today’s theme Katy P asked us to choose a random DVD from our collection and tell you all about it. When I first stuck my hand into my DVD box I came upon an animated film called The Reef. I have very little story behind this DVD, despite it being a wonderful story, so I decided to choose one of the ones next to it. Weirdly enough on one side was City of Angels which has always been a firm favourite and I could talk about for hours, though really, I hate spoiling it, so I’d probably not so very much. But the one I looked to first was Blue Streak.

Blue Streak is a crime/cop style comedy a little like Beverley Hill Cop, but maybe not quite as funny. It stars the ‘other’ Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and it’s a film which has quite a bit of a story behind its purchase.

On my 17th birthday I went to ASDA with a friend from college. I didn’t really have any close friends and so I didn’t have any big plans either. We walked around ASDA for a little while and for some reason, after a brief discussion with Siobhan, I decided to buy a DVD. This DVD. She’d seen it and said it was quite good and I took a chance. I’d only really bought one DVD before this one (You’ve Got Mail, which I absolutely adore) and so it was all a bit new purchasing DVDs. It was pretty cheap as far as DVDs go, probably one of the first £5 DVDs in existence.

When we went to the checkout it did its usual ‘check ID’ so the woman asked how old I was. For some reason I told her I was 16 and then quickly said no wait… and it was all rather funny. Being the first day of being 17 I’d actually forgotten for a moment that I was 17 at all. It’s a 15 film and because I’ve always been small and never really looked my age it was only natural the woman would ask such a question. Anyway, for a low-key birthday it was rather enjoyable.

Now, on to the film itself.

It’s a pretty basic film about a bank robber who spends two years in jail after being caught committing a crime. Said crime, however, was not very well handled because he put the loot somewhere safe…only after two years in jail a police station had been built around it. So he goes ‘undercover’ as a police detective in order to recover the loot stashed in a ventilation shafts. As you do. He’s not your average police officer; naturally, he’s not one after all! So it’s often rather funny watching him learn the ropes on the job.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best piece of film ever to be made, nor is it the funniest. But as far as action comedies go, it’s not half bad. Certainly not a waste of 90 minutes…unless you hate cop films and/or can’t stand Martin Lawrence. I can’t really remember the first time I watched it but I know I enjoyed it enough to watch it two or three more times since then. In fact I’m going to watch it tonight because now I really want to return to the funny.

I think the idea of the film is a rather good one. How many times do you watch the same film over and over again? Romantic comedies are the worst for that because it’s the same story done in the same way with different characters or different locations. Blue Streak is a bit different to your average cop film, it’s a bit different to your average comedy and it’s certainly a bit different to your average…well…non-Eddie Murphy film. The only thing it is alike is Eddie Murphy’s films, obviously. Well, it’s not really. But I think if you like Eddie Murphy in Beverley Hill Cop then you’ve got a good firm chance of enjoying Blue Streak. If you don’t, well, it’s not really any loss.