Saturday, 11 January 2020

Fuck The King

So who is your favourite Game of Thrones character? 
For a long time I could never answer that question because I have always liked all the characters. (I think the only one I didn't care about was Stannis, but he has a place in the story and I don't hate him). There were some that I liked straight from the start, others I grew to like. I was glad I could make sense of who was who in the first place, with cast of that size. Then I read the books and there were even more characters but that's not what I'm talking about today. What I was saying was that I could never pick one character and say, this is my fave. But now that the show is over I have a definite answer--it's Cersei Lannister. It's likely to make people's jaws drop which is always entertaining. Bad women in fiction are just fascinating. But even this changes sometimes.

Sometimes, depending on... not my mood but on external circumstances, my favourite changes. When I feel passionately about voting rights, it becomes Samwell Tarly. (Who's a good choice overall anyway.) And then at other times, when the news gets obsessed with certain high standing family, the spot gets taken over by this guy.

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane

Such a beautiful, simple, well put quote. 

Whatever the universe has in store for me, I hope the next country I live in will be a republic.

Come to us, Sandor. We have chickens!

PS: Shout out to the all the Wildlings, of course. The Freefolk don't kneel.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Christmas Thoughts

So, the festive season is here--and it got me thinking about... Christmas.

I'm not a believer so the religious side of the holiday never meant anything to me. I have to make a confession here that I didn't know Christmas Day was the day of birth of Jesus... at first. I grew up in Communism so religion was off limits (also nobody in my family was religious, at least not much) so I had to wait till after the Revolution to find that fact out. When I first watched the midnight mass on TV, I was like, why are they saying that son of God was born today? *shrug* Make of it what you will.

Last year I went to the midnight mass, mostly because I wanted to experience it. I liked the whole calmness of it, the singing choir, the incense.

some decorations, idk
In my childhood, my favourite thing, apart from the presents, was the Christmas tree. My mum used to a get a real one and we would decorate it together. I remember this set of lights we had. Twelve of them, shaped like big bells, in six colours: red, orange, yellow, pink, blue and green. It was a different style from the lights we have now. It wasn't that long ago that my mum still had them, but she eventually had to throw them away as they stopped working completely and there was no way of repairing them.

I loved the Christmas tree so much, I would spent the entire holiday season sitting by it and once attempted to go lie underneath it as if I was a present. I said to my mum: "look, I'm a Christmas present!" and the next thing I know, the tree fell. Nothing got broken or damaged and I wasn't injured, my mum put the tree back up but the funniest thing was that one of the baubles somehow got stuck on the net curtain--our tree was always next to the window. You know that glittery stuff that's on the baubles? Or at least used to be, back then? That's what made it stick to the net curtain. It was the 80s...

Because I liked drawing, during the Christmas season I would draw Christmas pictures, which just meant a giant Christmas tree with presents underneath it. Then I started a Christmas Book. I took one sketch book (I used to have loads of those), and wrote on Christmas Book on the cover and that's how it started. That particular book didn't last, I replaced it with another one, which I have to this day.

the back cover of Christmas Book
The oldest drawing in it is from 1989. A few pages I tore out as I was embarrassed about some of my art and I haven't been contributing into it for the last 7-8 years. So this year I decided to give it a makeover and these pics here show the front and back covers of the book.

front cover of the Christmas Book
My younger siblings contributed some of their own art too. We also share another Christmas memory together--in the late 90s we crafted a big Christmas poster. The idea was mine but that's not bragging, I was the oldest (there is a big age gap between me and them) so it's not surprising. We took sheets of blank paper and sellotaped them into a big poster and then drew on it. The drawing was of a Christmas tree near a window and Santa and some angels looking at it in awe from the outside at the beauty of the tree. (We live in block of flats, no chimney for Santas to slide through for us.) This all makes me sound like an artist but I'm not. I just liked drawing things... and sometimes still do. Though it is photography for me these days.

In Slovakia the custom is to eat Christmas dinner and give out the presents on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, which we call Generous Day, is also a public holiday, so people get three days off instead of two. I can't really answer if you ask me what we do on Christmas Day. Nothing I guess? Sit at home and watch TV mostly. What else? I live in UK now so I do it the local way, with turkey etc on Christmas Day ("immigrants don't integrate"). Christmas Eve I usually work, if it falls on a weekday; depending on how not-lazy I am, I prepare the closest thing I can to a Slovakian traditional Christmas meal. It's all about the food once you grow up. I like the traditional British Christmas dinner--pigs in blankets being my special favourites--and I like pince pies and Christmas pudding. I mentioned here already that I don't drink alcohol but at Christmas, I like me some Baileys.

Every year I look at how stressed people get themselves over Christmas and I find it so sad. Humans invented Christmas (or Yuletide if you like) to cheer themselves up during the bleak winter months. I'm sure it wasn't supposed to be like this. I wish it wasn't like this. I celebrate Christmas on my own terms, because I'm lucky enough to be able to do so. But not everyone is. For some it's a difficult time of year because of many issues... Hugs to you, you are valid. Some have to work, like the emergency services--we are grateful to you for watching over us.

Let's just be good to each other.
red things
And don't beat yourself up if there was something lacking. Embrace the not-perfection of your Christmas!

Samaritans are available round the clock on 116 123 (UK) if you need to talk to someone.

Look after yourselves.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Ah well...

This is a reproduction of a real conversation I had with my brother on Facebook Messenger. (That's how we usually talk, you know, as we are in different countries.)

Brother: You may have heard of it; Google has bought FitBit.

Me: Yeah, I've heard. But I don't really know what it means for me?

Brother: We don't know that yet.

Me: On top of everything else they have on me, Google will also know how many steps I do every day.

Brother: They know that already anyway.

Both of us:

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Right To Vote

I came home from work to find poll cards in the mail. I picked them up and looked through them, checking them one by one. (I live in a house converted to flats with a shared letterbox.) I don’t know what I was hoping for. Perhaps there was a glitch somewhere and they sent me one by mistake. Perhaps they changed the rules and EU citizens could vote in general elections. Fool. Of course there was no poll card for me, of course I would have known if the law changed, because it would have been major news. Of course they didn’t make a mistake, The System never makes a mistake that benefits you. Welcome to my world of being disenfranchised.
I’ve lived in the UK for 16 years, I’ve worked and paid tax, yadda yadda yadda... you know all those things we EU citizens say to justify our very existence on these islands. This will be the fifth general election I will experience here, the second snap one. Experience it without participating in it. Citizens of EU living in UK (other than citizens of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus) cannot vote in general elections. We can vote in the local ones, which is great, but not in the general ones, which is not so great. (I wrote about voting in EU Parliament elections on my main blog.) Neither can we vote in referendums. Yeah, those things. Regardless of how long we’ve lived here. 

“You should have got the citizenship.”

Yes, I’ve heard that before. But Commonwealth citizens can vote in all elections without having to apply for UK citizenship and regardless of how long they’ve lived here (or if they even intend to live here long term or forever). So, you see, that’s not an argument. 
Alexandra Phillips, the Brexit Party MEP, tried this on me on Twitter not long ago. 

One local election in which I voted took place in 2015, alongside the general one. So I walked into the polling station to cast my vote. There were three poll clerks. The first one was crossing out the names of voters from the list. The third one was giving out ballot papers. I don’t remember what task exactly the one in the middle did but I do remember something else.
In the queue in front of me was a Commonwealth citizen. I know this because this is the person I was with and we went to the polling station together. Behind me was another voter, I can’t recall if there were any more people. 
So when it was my turn, the middle clerk pointed at me and said to the ballot-giving clerk: “she only gets the local election ballot”. 
Just slap me in the face while you’re at it.

You're not allowed here
I attempted to joke. “Yeah, I’m the poor relation,” I said. I watched that woman’s face but not a muscle on it moved. She didn’t respond. I took my ballot paper, did the voting and went home. I felt kinda hurt but I forgot it soon. I didn’t think about that woman again until sometime after the Brexit referendum. And this time I got angry. 
At that time in 2015 I was still trying to reclaim the “poor relation” label. I thought it would help me cope. But it didn’t, of course, because it’s a shit label in the first place. I reject it now. I threw it in the fire. And I’m angry. Yes I understand that the poll clerk was doing her job. Yes I know that voter fraud is a serious thing. But the thing is, she didn’t have to be such a bitch about it. There was no need to point at me and refer to me to her colleague in third person. I know I don’t have the right to vote for an MP. I know.
And it never occurred to me to question it. It’s just how it is, I used to believe. But not anymore. Not after the referendum. It’s unfair and I will say it.
Look, I live in such a safe Labour constituency that it’s not even worth getting out to bed to vote. But that’s not the point. There is a difference between choosing not to do something and being denied the right to do that something. Besides, other EU citizens live in more marginal constituencies and I may not live in the same place forever. 
Suffrage is not a thing that is set in stone. In the past, only men who owned property could vote. Prior to the Peterloo Massacre, cities like Manchester and Leeds had no representatives in Parliament, despite being large industrial places. First women were able to vote in 1918--those over the age of 30 with properties. Finally in 1928 the suffrage was extended to everyone over 21 and then in 1969 to everyone over 18. 
In the final episode of Game of Thrones, during a gathering of lords of the noble houses of Westeros, in which they were to choose their next ruler, Samwell Tarly proposed that everyone should have a right to vote. The lords exploded with laughter. “Maybe I should get my horse to vote,” said Lord Royce (paraphrasing). Nobody took his side, not one single person. Not even one of the (precious) Starks. They just sat there, letting Sam be mocked, so he sat down and shut up. But I like to think that he didn’t get tired and continued campaigning and who knows, even achieved some change. We need you, Sam.
As for me, come the election day, I will once again be watching others as they enter the polling stations, invisible door barring my way, locked with no key in sight.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Christmas Time Now?

This year, Christmas markets opened on Friday 8th November here in Manchester. Early, you think?

Normally I would say it's early. But then I thought about it and realised--it doesn't matter. Let them be there. 

A bit of cheer in grey and wet November won't do any harm. On this picture I captured stalls with decorations only but plenty of them (majority I think) sell food and snacks, from--and that's what I like most--continental Europe. 

So enjoy the pre-Christmas period, or not if you don't want to.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Happy No Brexit Halloween 2019!

So, it's Halloween. The (delayed) Brexit day that (again) never happened.

As stated in this blog's description, my main blog is I usually make seasonal posts there and in last year's Halloween entry I posted four smartphone pics of Halloween displays from Exchange Square here in Manchester, all skeletons in funny positions. I captioned each picture with a line of dialogue I imagined the skeletons would use in those situations. Link to post here.

This was the last pic:

"And then he said there was going to be a new 50p coin to commemorate Brexit."

So it must have been about that time when they first announced there will be a new 50 pence coin to celebrate Brexit. I still thought it was a joke then. I should have known better.

They were totally serious.

At that time, Theresa May was the Prime Minister, Philip Hammond was the Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka the guy in charge of the Treasury) and Brexit day was set for 29th March 2019. As you know, that didn't happen and in the meantime, we got a new Government. The Prime Minister now is... well, Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid is the Chancellor. New Brexit date was to be 31st October 2019--Halloween. 

Guys, they were totally serious about those 50p coins. 

They were to have "peace, prosperity and and friendship with all nations" inscribed on them (friendship with all but the 27 member states of the EU was too long, I guess), with the date, 31 October 2019. 

So far so good, you think (I mean, not good but it's a figure of speech), except--there was no Brexit on 31st October. Like the last time, they couldn't get a deal through he Parliament. Another extension was granted till the end of January 2020. But by then, the coins had already been minted. With the day 31 October on them. So what do they do now? 

The narrator: They had the coins melted down.

And that wasn't the only wasted expense. We also had the "Get Ready For Brexit" adverts. Like the below one, for example. With me not missing an opportunity to express my opinion on them in a form of a gesture known all around the world:

(Note, it was one of those digital changing billboards--or whatever they're called, not as big as billboards but you know those ones you see around the city centres--and as I snapped it, the advert seemed to be changing to a McDonalds one, so just to be clear I am showing my middle finger to Brexit not to McDonalds, I have nothing against McDonalds.)

And now we have another election coming (in which I can't vote because I'm not allowed because I don't have the right) but that's for another time.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Why Do Birds Do This?

They fly in formation round and round in a sort of a spiral?

Like, I'm not criticising them. I think it's cute.

I wonder if the birds also get puzzled about things humans do and more so.

Like: why you destroying the planet? 

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Some Fails on Smaller Scale

We've all heard of epic fails--but what about those fails that are not so epic? Minor fails, epicless fails, mini fails, call them what you want. This post is a collection of them from my own experience.

In no particular order:

  • This Blog
It's hardly gets updated if at all. Hopeless, just hopeless. *shakes head

  • This chest of drawers

It was of such poor quality it could never be a real chest of drawers as it was impossible to assemble it properly. I got it from Littlewoods, shame on you Littlewoods. It put me off buying furniture forever. I've not needed to buy any furniture since then anyway but if I do, I will only go for second-hand, already assembled pieces. I've never been to IKEA since I came to UK 16 years ago and don't even know where there is one in Manchester.

  • This bench


  • Transport for Greater Manchester's new year billboard

"Thanks for travelling with us in 2018" - like we have a choice?

Thanks for those extortionate prices, more like. And in the time when we have to protect the environment, no less!

  • Stealing comic books - not cool

Seriously, stop it! It's pathetic!

  • This douchebag on Facebook
So, this needs context. 

There was a post on a Facebook page "You know nothing Jon Snow" which was a meme about House Stark going soon extinct because Rickon was dead and Bran is weird, so there were no surviving male members. Of course, House Stark and their stans always believe they are so extra (they think they've suffered so much despite having more members alive at the end than any other house, whilst they never batted an eyelid when, say, Martells or Tyrells evaporated as if under a Thanos snap.) So I commented that it didn't have to be that way (even though, I stress, I'm not a House Stark fan):

"Her ultimate name will be from whoever she ends up marrying, But unless she gets hip to the incest, it ain't gonna be a Stark." It ain't gonna be a Stark because Sansa is a woman, you mean. Even though in this universe, it is not unheard of children taking the surnames of their mother if the mother is from a higher house than the father. House Stark is the most important house in the North, they are the wardens of the North, so if Sansa was to marry a Northman, she would always be positioned higher than her husband, so their kids would have the Stark name. I think I made it quite clear in my post, yet he has to argue. Because dog forbid a woman doesn't take her husband's name. 

But guess what, Sansa became literally a queen so she can name her children whatever the fuck she wants, so joke's on you, loser. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And yes I did go through my Facebook activity to look for this comment, I am that petty. Don't you just love being proven right?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Thank You, Marvel

So, how do you do a tribute post to Marvel Cinematic Universe?

I don't know.

I have pictures of my cinema tickets for four out of the five latest movies; the three latest ones are in Instagram Story format.

What can I say? 

I got into MCU in 2014 after seeing the very first movie, Iron Man, on TV. At that point, the franchise was in Phase Two, between Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron. To watch the rest of the movies was only a common sense decision, though I won't pretend it had nothing-at-all to do with Robert Downey Jr. I was already familiar with some of the superheroes, or at least knew their names, from watching the animated series with my younger brother in the late 90s (the Spider-Man 1994-1998 series mainly, X-Men and Fantastic 4 too). I caught up and saw Age of Ultron in the cinema when it was released. 

I'm a bit sorry I hadn't been a fan yet in 2012 when the first Avengers movie came out and didn't get to experience that. Still, I usually name Avengers as my favourite movie, if I have to pick one. Others I'd like to point out would be Thor: Ragnarok, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy and most importantly of all Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Iron Man 3 seems to be the one that divides opinion most; count me in as one of the ones who like it.

I know, I know, the series has its problems and it only took them 11 years to make a movie centred on a female hero, but I'll leave that for now--there's plenty of criticism elsewhere on the interwebs. When it comes to pop culture, I choose positivity over negativity every time. 

The other day, a colleague of mine asked me which superhero I'd like to be if I could. I said I'm not sure I would want to be one. Big power equals big responsibility and it's way too much work and I'm rather a lazy person. But if I had to, I'd say Black Widow 'cos she kicks ass. Being an Agent of SHIELD would be even cooler.

And here we are, the end of an era.

So I want to say, thank you, Marvel, for giving us this amazing experience. Thank you, Kevin Feige. Thank you, Russo brothers for pulling off the almost impossible. And thank you, Stan Lee, once again and forever and always.

And thank you, Alan Silvestri, for the amazing Avengers theme tune!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Strong Independent Woman or something?

I have seen this meme somewhere before, I don't remember where. I feel like I have something to say about it.

Mainly that: I don't get it.

So, this is supposed to be an aisle at a supermarket, right? But, it makes no sense. Aisles are normally dedicated to similar products. While cat food and cat toys would be together, the other two are completely different. But okay, let's move on.

So, cat food and cat toys. Nice, but what does it have to do with strong independent women? Whether you're a strong independent woman, a weak dependent woman, a man or a non-binary, of any degree of strength and independence, is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether you have a cat or not. If you have a cat, then obviously the cat needs to eat. Like, you're not gonna starve your cat, are you? Cat toys are maybe not as necessary, maybe you'd get one or two things from there. If you don't have a cat, this aisle is of no use to you.

Next, wine. I don't know about that because I don't drink any alcohol, therefore that section of supermarket doesn't interest me. I didn't think there was a specific aisle for wines, as I thought all the alcoholic beverages were together in one place? I guess it depends on the supermarket.

Now, the last one is the one that makes least sense of all. "Meals for one". Because I can't imagine a supermarket that sells meals for one, when everything is targeted towards families. Last summer during the heatwave, I wanted to get an ice lolly from Tesco. Just one. All I saw was multipacks and when I asked a shop assistant, I was told they don't sell individual ice lollies. You'd have to get one from an ice cream van or a corner shop. I go to supermarket a few times a week and never encountered anything like "meals for one". They do have ready meals, of course, but never have I seen them labelled as "meals for one". Why would they do that?

So in conclusion, I don't understand what all of the above has got to do with strong independent women, or women at all. I don't know what the creator of the meme for trying to go for or whether it was a joke which I misunderstood. I fully accept it may be the latter, because I usually fail to understand jokes. Majority of them are just not funny to me.


Another strong independent woman meme. I included this one because not long ago there appeared a tweet on my timeline about someone who came out to her mother as a lesbian and the mother said, but who will open your jars for you if you won't have a husband and that in retrospect it was quite funny that all that the mother thought men were useful for was opening jars. I can't remember whether the person who tweeted it was the daughter or if it was just someone telling a story, I saw a screenshot of that same tweet later on Tumblr, but I can't be bothered to look for it again and anyway, that's not the point. The point is, what the hell is it with women and opening jars??? Is this, like, a thing? Because I'm a woman and I've never had a problem opening a jar. I never needed anyone else to do it for me. I never knew I was supposed to struggle with opening a jar. Nobody told me. I'm not strong, it's just common sense. If a jar is particularly tight, I insert the tip of a knife between the neck of the jar and the lid and twist it, sometimes there is a pop! sound and the jar opens without any difficulty.

It makes me wonder how the hell have gay women managed to survive. Maybe they don't buy anything in jars?