Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Today is all hallows eve, halloween, samhaim, the death of the old year and the start of the new.  Today the dead come out to roam the streets and folk everywhere have a party.  Well some do.

By the time this goes  live I'll have carved a pumpkin, hopefully it will actually look ok.  It will be the second pumpkin I've ever carved.  A book I have on Pagan feast days says that at halloween, pumpkins become a holy item Ihence why we carve them) and recommends that you place pumpkins and other root vegetables, such as turnips and swedes on your altar.  Well, I'm fuusy, and what will be going on my display will be my decorated cloth, my pumpkin and my orange and black candles.

I've been thinking for a few weeks about what to put in this post.  It is the end of the year so it seems apt to look back on the past year.  This last year has been pretty crappy.  Last autumn/winter was very stressful for me, and although I got a permanent reasonably well paying job, it's not what I hoped for and leaves much to be desired.  However, it does provide a regular wage and it does allow me to pay for my BSL training, which will get me permanent work using a language I love.  Having finally started my BSL level 3 I find myself knackered and extroadinarily busy, but that's ok. I expected that and I love the course.

This past year has seen a lot of people I know get seriously ill.  Like life threateningly ill.  The good news is they all recovered.  The other good news is my sister is now pregnant so I'm gonna be an aunty!

Then of course there's all the government cuts.  I think that I heard about Norfolk County Council's proposed cuts on about the 2nd November last year.  This seemed like a pretty bad omen for the year ahead.  On the plus side, the final cuts weren't as bad as foretold.  On the bad side, the whole country is facing severe cuts and those most vulnerable are getting screwed over again and again and again.  It feels like this has been a year of protests.

It also feels like it's been a year of disasters - the Japanese earthquake, the recent Turkish earthquake, and well there's probably lots more that I can't quite recall.

And a year or uprisings - well hello Arab Spring!  The Arab states have been amazing to watch this year.  I feel far more aware of international affairs than I did a year ago.

Writing this, despite listing all this shit that's happened, I do feel more optimistic that I did a few weeks ago.  Certain aspects of this last year have been hard, really hard, but they could have been worse and I've got to focus on the good things.  Here's to a more enjoyable, more relaxing 2011/2012!
(and keep protesting folks!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Guest post number 2! - The Big Project

This is the second of our guests post from Will aka Rob, of Reynard City.  In today's post he talks about his project, Reynard City, what it means to him and why it's important to do something you love.

I have made a number of mistakes in my life. Letting my brother cut my hair in the style of David Beckham. My brief attempt at being a postal worker, despite being not that quick on a bike, a poor sense of direction and a fear of dogs (Yes even your cute little dog that has never bitten anyone and the saints sing their praises for being so wonderfully doggy)

But one thing I can’t regret is working on Reynard City. It’s taken a number of years, format changes and general figuring things out but we seem to be getting there. And it is down to a collaborative effort with a number of different people.

One thing I realise now is that the whole “Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan” thing need not necessarily be negative. It is often trundled out as a cynical response to someone succeeding and people jumping on the bandwagon.

However in this instance it is more that working together with people gets results, while trying to do things on your own is a heck of a lot harder. The range of contributors over the years has included writers, artists, costume designers, musicians and film makers, all of whom have added their creative spark to the collective fire.

While I love talking about the comic and the characters I’ve practically grown up with, it is also awesome to see people from all over coming together to work on something. The good news is that if people have an idea then there are people out there that can help.

The problem is that sometimes you may think “What if someone steals my idea?” While this can happen and there is always a danger of that, sadly risk is a part of life. I think it’s better to be inclusive and try to bring people into it as much as possible.

Inevitably sometimes it’ll go wrong, you’ll annoy people and so on. But I have found if a concept is strong enough then it won’t go away, regardless of time, money or lack of sleep. In short, if you love a project, find some people and share it.

Rob Turner (aka Will Turner) is the writer/producer for Polycomical Studios, a group dedicated to young and emerging artists. Their webcomic Reynard City ( is currently being made into a cartoon pilot and a video game.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A guest post! 'In defence of Superman'

Today I have the first of two guest posts written by a friend, Will aka Rob.  The first one is, I am pleased to say, a look at Superman and what he means.  Take it away Rob:

I know it sounds strange to defend someone whose image on his chest is one of the most recognisable symbols on Earth. Whenever anyone is asked to name a superhero inevitably his name comes up (it helps he has “Super” in his name I guess).

However when it was recently asked on Twitter who they would rather be more people chose Batman. In some respects this is down to the way our culture has changed. The internet means less people identify with a character that is said to be synonymous with “Truth, justice and the American way.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go at Batman. His character has echoes of some of my favourite American literature, combining the gothic visuals of Edgar Allen Poe with the stolen childhood of Citizen Kane and the self myth making of The Great Gatsby.

Superman by contrast seems to belong to a more innocent age. His story reflects that of his creators, two Jewish immigrants who seemed to suggest that a person could transcend where they are from to be the symbol of their adopted homeland.

For me (a man who has worn glasses since childhood) Superman and many heroes like him have that concept where you can be more than who you seem to be on the surface. That idea that one day you too could rip off your work suit and reveal the costume underneath.

Maybe that view is childish and na├»ve but I think it’s too easy to go to the dark side sometimes these days. More people seem to be enamoured with the badass nature of Batman, someone who won’t kill but use all his resources to spread fear amongst the criminal underworld.

Strangely enough it was the director Tim Burton, the one responsible for popularising the Frank Miller superhero noir to the masses (albeit with his typical visual flourishes) who was recently quoting as saying “Maybe it’s time for the cartoon to come back.”

I’m not saying I want to go back to the “Gee shucks” early fifties idea of comics. But while the character of Batman is iconic and helped to create a more complex idea of the superhero, Superman represents a kind of ideal that goes beyond even that of America or superheroes. And I think it would be a shame to lose that.

Rob Turner (aka Will Turner) is the writer/producer for Polycomical Studios, a group dedicated to young and emerging artists. Their webcomic Reynard City is currently being made into a cartoon pilot and a video game.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wonder Woman Wednesday


(I know I used this in last week's post, but I still like it, so it's getting used again)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hearing dog awards

Hearing dogs for deaf people do an annual award ceremony where they recognise particular dogs that are really special to the Ddeaf people they help.

One award is the Life-Cganging Hearing dog of the year award and my friends have just won it!

See Foggy and Simon's story:

See the other finalists here.
See finalists for all awards here.
See winners for all awards here.

YAY! Well done fogs and Simon :D

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Norfolk County Council recognise comics!

But thinks we read too many...or thinks we chuck too mnay in the bin...
Honestly, they don't know comics fans very well do they? Like any comics fan would chuck one in the bin or recycle it!


Friday, October 14, 2011

I got a guest post on the F Word!

Remember how a little while ago I asked ya'll about menstrual cycles?  Well, something I saw on The F Word about PMS prompted me to write a comment, which before I knew it had turned into a full post about the myth about 28 day cycles.  You can read it here.   Although anyone reading this blog probably already knows what i'm gonna say.  Anyhoo, I'm quite pleased :D.  I feel immortalised on a proper feminist website :D.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Best. thing. ever.

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is Captain America aftershave.  In a bottle shaped like a fist. Awesome. Sauce.  I'm not sure how it smells, probably melon-y, most stuff in the shop did that day.

The badge on the fingers says Diesel.

Monday, October 10, 2011

World Mental Health Day

Today is world mental health day. As someone who has been officially diagnosed as suffering from depression and stress at various times in my life, and has self diagnosed as having OCD, I thought I would contribute to this day by listing the symptoms I experienced and talking about the diagnosis methods doctors used on me.

Symptoms first:
Tight feeling in my stomach
Often feeling fearful (i.e. at least once a day)
Often crying (again, at least once a day)
Feeling numb, emotionally but also feeling angry and hateful
Self harm
Sleeping for long periods
Difficulty concentrating
Feeling of un-connectedness from other people, my emotions, my body and my thought processes
Paranoia – feeling that the people you are talking to are not who they say are
Little to no concept of time – feeling like what is happening now will last forever and being unable to recall feelings or events from previous days when I felt different (worse or better)
Poor memory
A need to repeat things, either in my head (thoughts or statements) or in physicality (locking doors, counting, checking things)
Smoking (half the time when I smoke it’s because I want to hurt himself, I know it’s bad for me, that’s the point)
Low self esteem
Self hate
Not caring about self
Difficulty moving
Over eating or sometimes under eating (mostly over eating though)
And more, many more symptoms, but I now can’t be arsed to go into them.

As for how I was diagnosed, well the psychiatrist I got took to when I was 15 asked me about some of the above but phrased it in such a way that he asked if my sleep patterns or eating patterns had changed. This was not a helpful way to ask as I could not remember feeling any different. I was not in tune with my body, I was depressed. How was I meant to answer these questions? He then asked me if I ever had moments of lightness, if I ever felt better when feeling low. I could only recall a phone call I’d had a few days ago (see, I told you I had problems with concepts of time) from a friend where for the couple of minutes it took to have the conversation I felt not quite as shit as I did just before. But as soon as the phone call ended I felt shit again. Anyway I answered yes to his question, although in hindsight my reasoning was probably not what he meant. Because of this answer, he decided that my depression wasn’t chemical in nature, so I didn’t need to be prescribed pills.

I was referred to a psychotherapist and saw her for 3 years, I think. It could have been one year, I don’t know. I have difficulties with time. Seeing the therapist wasn’t the most useful thing I have ever done, but I couldn’t say I was unhappy with her as I had low self worth and didn’t value myself.

When I was 20 I went to the University doctor who asked me very similar questions, to which I had the same problems answering, and she diagnosed me with stress. I was referred to the University counselling service, who were by and large, shit.
That’s my experience of the mental ill health profession. It is not overwhelmingly positive, but I am glad to say that I am now much much better. I haven’t self harmed in years and I think I now get more anxious than depressed. Woo, go me.

1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health problem in their lifetime. Don’t be dismissive, or critical, or think because you are worried about them you have it hard. Be supportive. Ask them how you can help. Be a friend.

Ok, it's kinda scary to post this as I know that real life friends get the link to this.. so please, if you're gonna comment, play nicely.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

It's Black History Month in the UK

I offer you two videos.  Both, Nina Simone, one is Strange Fruit and the other is Young, Gifted and Black:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Coming out in comics: Catman

Gail Simone confirms that Catman is bisexual and in the new DCU he will be witten as bisexual when she next writes him.

She also describes the make up of Secret Six. Who is who do you reckon?

Anyway, aww yeah!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

ASN October e bulletin

You know how this goes:

Welcome to your ASN eBulletin. Thanks so much to those of you who donated to our recent appeal! Make your past, present or future ASN donation worth 25% more. We hope to see you at our birthday party 26 October – please note the new venue! Women we’ve helped this month. Live in Liverpool and have a spare sofa or room? Are you a poster person for choice? Read on!

• We got what we wanted for our birthday!
• Register for Gift Aid
• Come to our birthday party – please note the new venue and RSVP!
• Women we’ve helped
• Seeking hosts in Liverpool
• Pro Choice photo project

Happy birthday to us!
Last month before we experienced the circumstances that resulted in our emergency appeal, we asked for people to donate in honour of our second birthday party. We never got to send out the official request card (it’s attached) but despite this, your generous response to our call for help put us ahead of our goal, which was to raise £2,222 in honour of our 2nd birthday. Our recent campaign brought in more than £2,300, including almost £100 in Standing Orders - putting us just over 80% of the way to our goal of £1,000 in SOs every month, and in a position to have reached our birthday goal before publicising it! Big thanks to all who donated – including a special shout out to our friends in NYC for their extraordinary support! An individual acknowledgment and thank you is on its way to each of you. If you don't receive one by Monday, don't hesitate to email us to make sure we have your contact details.

If you would still like to make a birthday donation – or better yet a birthday Standing Order – to ASN, you can find out how to do so here:

(And if you need a fabulous designer like the one who did the attached card, please contact Ruth)

Register for Gift Aid!
If you are a UK taxpayer, registering for Gift Aid will make your gift go 25% further. If you have donated to ASN in the past, or plan to do so in the future, please fill out a Gift Aid Form so that we can collect Gift Aid on your donation. You can fill out the form here and post it in, or wait until next month, when we will have a link to an online form that you can fill in.

Party! Party! Party!
We have so much to celebrate – the success of the recent campaign, the fact that we’ve heard from and helped THREE TIMES the number of women this year compared to last, and how much we appreciate you, our wonderful supporters and volunteers. Please come celebrate with us – and special guest speaker Diane Abbott MP!

ASN 2nd Birthday party
Wed 26 October
7.00-10.00 pm
50 Great Dover Street
London SE1 4YG

Can’t wait to see you there! PLEASE RSVP to

Women we’ve helped
In August, ASN heard from 27 women, including the four urgent cases we emailed you about last week. We are immensely grateful to all of you who enable us to help women, the phone coordinators (Katie, Maddie, Sarah, and Jane) who help these women navigate their way to a safe and legal abortion, to Women on Web for the amazing services they provide, and to the clinics we work with for making it all possible.

In addition to the four women we emailed about last week, women we helped this month included:

A woman who delayed paying rent in order to afford flights to come to England

A woman late in pregnancy who was further delayed in coming to England as she needed a visa to travel.

A woman in a relationship with an abusive man who is against her having an abortion and spends the little money they have on drugs and alcohol.

A young single parent, recently laid off from her job and pregnant as the result of rape. She was so desperate for funds for her procedure that she was considering contacting her rapist for financial assistance. To add to her distress, the counselling service she contacted when she was raped were not supportive of her choosing to have an abortion.

A married couple with several children and financial difficulties. Prior to getting pregnant again they were so determined not to have more children that they asked their doctor about sterilisation, only to be told that she was too young, and that they could not afford it anyway.

A college student who can barely afford rent and groceries, let alone travelling to England to pay privately for an abortion.

ASN thanks these women and men for sharing their stories with us, and for permitting us to share them with you. We also thank the clinics, counsellors and other groups who ensure that these women receive the care they need.

Do you live in Liverpool & have thoughts of becoming an ASN host?
ASN will be in Liverpool on Saturday, October 8 to interview a potential host for the women who travel to the bpas Merseyside clinic. If you live near this clinic and have a spare room, pull out sofa or air mattress and the willingness to participate in this direct action work, please contact us.

Pro Choice Photo Project
We were contacted by a student obtaining her MFA in photography in N Ireland. She is in the process of putting together a photo journalism project about abortion, and has already interviewed a number of ASN volunteers. If you consider yourself to be someone who works, volunteers or campaigns in or around abortion, and are interested in being a part of this project, please email Emma. More about Emma on her website,

Thank you thank you thank you!

ASN is funded almost entirely by the generous donations of individual supporters – like you! Without ASN, the many women we help wouldn’t be able to access vital financial and practical support towards covering the costs of their procedures and their journeys. Donations to ASN are vitally important to the lives of women faced with unplanned pregnancies.

We are entirely volunteer-run, and our small overhead costs are covered by a regular donation. This means that any money you donate goes directly towards the cost of a woman’s abortion or transport to England.

Thank you again for all your support. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to provide accommodation, financial assistance, and confidential, non-judgemental information to the women in difficult circumstances who have contacted us.

With best regards

Abortion Support Network
+44 (0) 7897 611 593
Charity Number 1142120

Abortion Support Network (ASN) is an all-volunteer charity that provides accommodation, financial assistance and confidential, non-judgemental information to women forced to travel from Ireland and pay privately for abortions in England. The cost ranges between £400 and £2000 depending on circumstance and stage of pregnancy. While other organisations campaign for law reform, ASN is the only group on record providing women travelling for abortions with the thing they need the most: money.

ASN is now a charity! Registered Charity Number 1142120