Today I sewed on a button

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Today I sewed on a button.

That may sound so inane, so simple, so easy.

Yesterday, I found it overwhelming to even think of sewing a on a button. So, for me, it’s progress.

This is not the story of me climbing Everest, or winning an Olympic medal, or even overcoming a traumatic injury. It’s just one day in which I managed to overcome so low, dark, depressed feelings. Just enough to complete what would ordinarily seem a simple and straight forward task. And even now I’m belittling an achievement, making light of it. It’s just a button, right?

Getting up was difficult. A night with little sleep, which becomes a pattern during times like these. Everything spirals, and what didn’t worry me yesterday worried me in the night. So it feels good to put on a fresh pair of clothes. A clean pair of trousers. I’m halfway in, skinny legs covered, and pulling the waist up, zipping up, and realise the button is missing. They’re active wear trousers, a special kind of stretchy material that’s all treated with insecticide and UV protection and waterproofing and all sorts of marvels. But without a button, I can’t wear them.

And that’s the day ruined. But I drag them trousers off, and find another pair. In a few minutes, I’m at least dressed, and manage to feed myself and take some pills and have a cup of tea.

The Epic Search begins. Not the Third Ring, not the Keys To Time, not the Golden Fleece. Just a sodding button. High and low – every button but. Surprising how many buttons you can find lying around when you want one particular button. The right button. Because, if it’s not the Right Button, I’ve Completely Failed.

It’s located. I sit myself down, consider this to be a Mindful Task. It will calm and self-soother me, so it can help with the dark mood. I focus on the needle I’ve pulled out, and the black thread I have chosen – it has to be the right thread or it will look STUPID.

And I try, and I try and I try to thread the needle. And I fail, and I fail, and I fail. Again, again, again. The mindfulness becomes a barrage of self criticism, and encompasses everything I haven’t achieved today, yesterday, this week, this month. I can’t even thread a needle now.

I gave up. I just couldn;t face it, and halfheartedly mention it to family in the hope that Someone Else Will Do It For Me. Rescue me, save me, from my own failure.

The morning comes, slow and inevitable and unwelcoming. The trousers remain on the floor, the button unsewn. A cup of tea, pills, some toast.

Today is another day. Another attempt. I pick up a thread, a needle, a button. And I try again. Cursing the size of the eye, cursing the state, of my eyes, licking and sucking the thread to straighten it. I try to think mindfully, to focus on process and not outcome. perhaps I will be able to thread it this time, perhaps not. I am in the process of doing it. This time, I have not given up.

Unbelievably, astonishingly, I reach the summit. I climb Everest, I find the Golden Fleece, I knock out Goliath. The thread is in, and I tie it off before it escapes. I hold the button in place, and I thread in and I thread out. In and out of the back, in and out of the front. A slow but determined rhythm develops, and I try to breathe with it. This is process. This is determination. This is The Moment for which I am grateful.

I’m wearing those trousers, and the button is still on. This is the small tale of that moment, when I dragged myself out of gloom and despair and failure.

I sewed on a button.

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Sport Is Evil

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Sport is Evil. All The Sports. I loathe and detest each and every one. I have never derived a moment’s enjoyment from playing or watching any form of sport whatsoever.

There. I’ve said it. I have no understanding of any sport, and no desire to learn. I see no point to them, aside from the fact they may stop (though occasionally cause) people to kill each other.

Yet they are everywhere. You cannot escape, or  have a ‘sport filter’ on the internet, television or media. Or even prevent your friends from spreading its poisonous influence.

Worst of all is the conflation of ‘news and sport’. So we go from stories of economic hardship, murder, war to …. the fact someone’s kicked a ball about. Worse than that, today the announcer told me to ‘look away now’ if you don’t want to know the result. What is  the point of broadcasting ‘sports news’ then? YOUR JOB IS POINTLESS.  Why is it even on a ‘news’ channel anyway when there are endless sports channels available? 

Sport announcers. A breed of people with barely an ability to communicate in any known language, who get away with lazy, overblown and excitable  ‘commentary’ consisting of cliché after cliché, peppered with casual racism, sexism and homophobia.

Yes, I hated sport and ‘PE’ as a kid. I remember being castigated for not bringing a football kit to school, resulting in my parents being forced to spend money on an expensive football kit (there’s no such thing as a cheap one, is there?!) that I hated and tried never to use. No, it didn’t traumatise me. It just reinforced an opinion I’d formed early on in childhood about the Omnipotent Tyranny of Sport.And every now and then we’re forced to endure that tiresome debate about the importance of ‘competitive sport’ in school. Despite every argument I’ve heard from politicians playing kickyball in an attempt to delude us that they’re just ordinary blokes and not over-privileged millionaires, the truth is sport has no function in school. It teaches nothing, and is a waste of time that could be better spent actually learning something useful. If you want to kick a ball or climb a rope, go outside and PLAY.

PE teachers. The smell of disappointment and failed dreams accompanies them  like Brut or Karate every time they mope into a changing room, and prepare to channel years of anger, frustration and athletic  failure against some unfortunate wimp they’re determined to bully into sport. Like a sadistic version of Conversion Therapy. In all my years of compulsory sport at school , I learnt nothing except how to shirk sports lessons and drop soap in the communal showers . More seriously, and more damagingly. it deterred me from taking any form of health or  fitness activity until well into my 30s.

And my old PE teacher got an MBE for that. He taught me nothing, on a twice weekly basis. The sum of his contribution to my education was his  smug and recalcitrant comment of  ‘satisfactory’ on my termly PE ‘reports’ – the same word, three times a year, for six years. But he liked watching young men playing rugby, apparently, which is something for us all to applaud.

I have no idea what the constantly referenced ‘Olympic ideals’ are and, quite frankly, after hearing of the whole Sochi, Beijing, and London debacles, I simply don’t believe they exist. Money, money, money is the ONLY value I see portrayed in sport – from motor racing to paralympics to rugby, cricket, horse racing. I don’t even know how these can fall under the same definition of ‘sport’. Curling, darts, snooker – really? I can see that they’re pastimes for the bored, drunk  and bewildered but – sport? Sportsmen and women make enormous amounts of money – and for those who don’t, who put in all the hours of training  just for the love of it –  don’t bother. Get a real and more productive job. Paint a picture, sing a song, read a book. Anything, anything, but the pointless pursuit of sport.

Yes, when I rule the world I will ban all of The Sports. You may argue that it would drive it underground. Good. Finally, it will have some illicit thrill. And punishment.

Next week is Sport Relief, (and the BBC never tires of reminding us of the fact, over and over again, on each and every channel, even that most evil one they ‘dedicate’ to sport) and you’re all invited to join in. Please Give Generously. For heaven’s sake, just write them a cheque and end it all. But, whatever you do, don’t bother with all that dull, tiresome, evil sport nonsense.

What?! No boobies?!

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Coventry has just welcomed its giant 2012 Olympic puppet mascot of Lady Godiva back into the city, wearing her Zandra Rhodes designer dress.

Which I find disappointing. The story of Lady Godiva is that she rode naked through the city in protest at the imposition of additional taxes on Coventrians. The story behind the story is that this was as an invention many years later to discredit a wealthy and successful woman landowner – a political smear to make her appear cheap and tawdry.  The citizens of Coventry decided she was a hero to be celebrated.

I like my heroines dirty. Forget princesses and virgins. One of the reasons for writing erotica is seeing sex and sexuality as potential sites for resistance, revolution, redefinition. A battleground for pleasure and empowerment, sex positive reimaginings in a world of increasing commodification and fetishisation.

Godiva is still a powerful narrative, whatever the true story. A naked revolutionary using the political power of her sexuality and gender. The Pussy Riot of her day.

It seems such a shame to cover her up. I want a naked puppet with huge wooden nipples defiantly on display. She looks quaint but powerless. She could be anyone.

Today, London demonstrates against Russia’s latest homophobic laws as Sochi prepares to host the Olympics. How brilliant would it have been if Coventry’s Olympic mascot had ridden naked in support of her Russian sisters and brothers, defying a convention that worships the Olympic Ideals of corporate commercialism above human rights.

In my mind, she did. Here’s to the true revolutionary spirit of Lady Godiva, and dirty heroines everywhere.