Long distance relationships - can they ever work?

Long distance relationships are forever scrutinised for their difficulty and the stress and heartbreak that they cause those involved.  When I was 17/18 I was in a long distance relationship.  It eventually became very difficult to maintain due to the one-way nature of the relationship.  Despite me feeling like the most grown up and mature person in the world, I was very young and naive.  143 miles seemed like the longest distance in the world, and the uncertainty over when you would next see each other was horrible.  Of course, long distance relationships aren't easy.  But is any relationship?  There's always got to be compromise, trust, and understanding whether you live down the road or at the other end of the country.

Trust and honesty are the biggest necessities in a long distance relationship.  If things do take a turn for the worse you have to ask yourself why you drifted apart in the first place:  Were you attentive enough?  Did you make the effort to visit and set time aside for each other?  Did you take each other for granted?  Were you honest about your feelings and where you saw things going?  Because, with a long distance relationship it is imperative that you are both honest and on the same page, otherwise you are guilty of leading someone on.  Once you have realised why things went wrong you can make changes accordingly.  If you want something enough you can make it work.

The hardest thing I found with the distance was not knowing when you would next see each other, and having to plan so far in advance.  Sometimes it would be six weeks in between seeing one another - not easy when all of my friends were seeing their boyfriends all the time.  I'm more understanding of the difficulties distance can pose now.  I'm still a female, though, so I am obviously still occasionally needy and irrational, but with it I am more tolerant and understanding to the demands of everyday life.

A long distance relationship is hard but they can work.  I have friends whose relationships have survived university, years abroad, months travelling, and being in the forces.  Those who say it can't work don't try hard enough.  

Distance matters so little when someone means so much; and this couldn’t be closer to the truth.  Yes, everyone has busy lives these days and lots of stuff going on, but is something so special really worth throwing away because the next few months are going to be a bit chaotic?  Distance won’t last forever, it’s a minor hurdle which, it seems, only the strongest of people can overcome.

I could spout all the old clich├ęs 'love can conquer all' etc, but I will save my breath.  Distance is definitely not something that should put people off being in a relationship.  And it should never be used as an excuse.

Long distance relationships do have their benefits, believe it or not!  The time you spend together is precious so you do more than lounge around watching television; you're always excited to see each other, something which you take for granted when you see someone everyday; you get time to spend with friends and do your own thing, rather than being one of those people who ditches their friends and is never seen or heard from again; there’s more scope for spontaneous surprises, which make even the simplest of thing seem special; and, most of all, it makes you so much more appreciative of each other and your love.

The problem today is that people give up too easily – they don’t fight to keep hold of what they’ve got; taking for granted everything that they have.  There’s no desire to make things work when things get hard.  If there are true, strong feelings between two people then none of these things will be an issue and the distance will seem like nothing.

I would definitely advise anyone not to let distance be the reason you don't follow your heart.  You have to be open to making sacrifices and be willing to compromise.  Yes, you have to try so much harder and learn not to take each other for granted but it won't be forever.  

It's not easy, not by any means, but nothing worth having ever is

Are appearances still over-shadowing success?

Following on from the 2012 London Olympics last year, the country was on a high.  Everyone wanted to don their running gear and be like Jess Ennis, or hop on their bike and epitomise Bradley Wiggins.  Sports like rowing, cycling, gymnastics, athletics, and dressage saw their popularity rise and their Olympic stars become national heroes.  Finally, the next generation had more to aspire to than to being 'like Wayne Rooney' or 'a pop star'.

It was an incredibly positive outcome of a brilliant period of time for Great Britain.  It finally looked as though young girls were starting to focus more on the person that they could be, rather than the way they could look.  So I was astounded by the way Rebecca Adlington was speaking during her time in the I'm A Celebrity jungle.

She was blaming girls like camp mate, and Miss Universe Great Britain, Amy Willerton for making her feel self-concious.  Rebecca explained how beautiful girls like Amy, who have a great figure, have made her hate her body and have really damaged her self-esteem.  This coming from a gold medal winning Olympian who set world records in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

If Rebecca Adlington can't embrace her tremendous achievements and allow for them to send her self-esteem through the roof, then what hope is there for the next generation of girls?  Not only was Rebecca revealing a lot about her own insecurities, she was also being very unkind to Amy.  It is not her fault that she is a naturally pretty girl who has a good figure.  You could see Amy was visibly upset by Rebecca's comments; who was bringing down Amy's self-esteem as well as her own.

It's not only Rebecca Adlington who has been negative towards Amy because of her looks.  Lucy Pargeter has been the biggest surprise to me.  In fact, all of the females in the jungle have.  All of them seem incredibly jealous of Amy and are being very nasty to her as a result.  Last night they were all shown questioning whether any of them had heard of her before she went into the jungle, asking what she had actually done to be there.  So what if she isn't as well known as some of the other camp mates?  You can't tell me that they have all heard of each other and can, hand on heart, say they know the reason behind each other's 'celebrity' status.  These catty women in the jungle need to back off the poor girl.  She's proved that she is more than just a pretty face and a pair of boobs; and has certainly come off a lot better than any of them.

It serves well to remember that life isn't all about looks and how attractive somebody is.  Yes, given the choice I am sure most girls would choose to look like Amy - tiny waist, toned tummy, big boobs & a bum.  But if I was given that choice or having an Olympic gold medal and my name as a world record breaker, I would choose the latter.  But whether someone is attractive or not, there's no reason to be nasty to someone on that basis.  Jealousy is always going to rear it's ugly head, but being jealous and being cruel as a result are two very different things.

Achievements and successes last forever, but appearances don't.  Are men still going to be drooling over Michelle Keegan when she is 80 and covered in wrinkles?  I don't think so.  Rebecca's gold medals and incredible achievements will never fade, disappear, or go South with age.

I understand how hard it must be for Rebecca Adlington to receive the nasty comments that she does via Twitter.  Nobody deserves to have their looks commented on in a negative way.  But she should rise above it and remember that, at the end of the day, she has far more going for her than whether she looks like a size 6 glamour model.  She should be immensely proud of her body and want to show it off as much as possible because that is what won her all those accolades and why, after the Beijing Olympics, everyone took to the pool to be just like her.


'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'

Quinn Woodward Pu is 25 years-old and has made headlines this week after the extent to which she went to seek revenge on a man who dumped her via text.  This included contacting the man’s workplace and complaining that he bombarded her with ‘inappropriate’ messages using his work phone.  She also went on to forward these messages to the man’s boss.  She boasted about her childish acts of revenge in her blog, Little Black Blog, and has come in for a lot of criticism as a result.

What must be made clear, though, is that this woman was not in a relationship with this man.  They had only been on two dates.  TWO.  Following date number two the man in question, clearly realising that she was one to steer clear of, text Miss Woodward Pu and told her that he was ‘really not looking for a relationship’.  He apologised for ‘being a downer before your birthday’ and wished her luck in the future.

Unfortunately, Miss Woodward Pu did not recognise the fact that the man in question had been totally honest with her; albeit in quite a cowardly way.  He could have told her face-to-face instead of taking the easy way out and texting, but he told her nonetheless.  He didn’t continue to go on dates with her, lead her on, and reap the benefits from the situation.

Obviously Miss Woodward Pu is not accustomed to such acts of honesty as she exclaimed ‘I had no words – this never happens’.  In reaction to this, Miss Woodward Pu began her childish revenge by taking screenshots of the intimate texts that the two had sent to one another and passed them on to his bosses.

Of course, Miss Woodward Pu claims to be a feminist – doing it for ‘you, and your girlfriends, moms, grandmothers, daughters, etc.’  She claims that women should ‘never remain silent in the bombastic, outrageously chauvinistic face of an insecure man.’ 

Miss Woodward Pu is certainly not doing much for the case of the independent women.  She is completely undermining the case that she is, allegedly, fighting for by exposing herself as a weak, self-absorbed woman with terrible coping mechanisms.  In addition to this, she allowed herself to become embroiled in a ‘sexting relationship’ with a man whom she only went on two dates with?  That’s hardly the best advert for feminism I’ve seen.

As the saying goes ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.  Women have been known to conduct some rather extravagant revenge tactics following betrayal, but this is something else.  As my favourite tv heroine Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke has demonstrated in the hit US show 'Revenge', women will go to any extremes in order to carry out an act of revenge. But I would hardly count what has happened to Miss Woodward Pu as ‘betrayal’ and she most certainly has not had her heart broken.  That is, unless she fell madly in love with this man at first sight and knew he was ‘the one’ after just two dates.  But, even so, the two had no commitments to each other and were not in any sort of relationship.

This woman is a far cry from the next Carrie Bradshaw.  Her actions make her look incredibly vain and immature.  No woman is going to view her as a ‘hero’ for the way that she ‘stood up’ to this man.  She has made herself look like a fool while risking the career of a man who was stupid enough to date her. 

I just hope that the man’s bosses don’t punish him too severely and simply congratulate him on the lucky escape from this nutcase.  Not only has she infuriated many females but she has done a superb job of making sure that no man ever goes near her again.


25 things a man should never say to a woman

Women really aren’t as difficult to understand as the opposite sex would have you believe.  We really are pretty straight forward.  Any men reading this – pay attention to the following.  To the women readers – pass this on to the man/men in your life to read.  It will hopefully lead to a more harmonious life for all.  Gents, just remember to never say any of the following to us and all will be well in the world...
  1.      You look tired.
To a woman this means: you look like shit.
  1.      My ex used to do that too.
Never EVER compare your new girlfriend to your ex. Ever.
  1.      I can’t believe you finished all of that!
Woah, are you saying I’m fat?
  1.      Are you going out dressed like that?
This triggers the following thought process: Do I look fat?  Does he not find me attractive?  Do I need new clothes? 
  1.      Is that all you are wearing?
Excuse me, you’re not my dad. 
  1.      Oh, is she the fit one?
WARNING: A question like this will probably trigger a deathly stare. 
  1.      I told you so.
Don’t ever go there.  Women are always right.  It will serve you well to remember this.
  1.      It’s nice that you don’t really care how you look.
If we are spending time with you in our joggers with a scruffy knot tied on our head and a bare face it’s because we are comfortable with you, not because we don’t care how we look.  Instead of the above sentence, replace with ‘I like the natural look, it’s nice that you feel comfortable enough with me to go for that’.
  1.      Maybe you need a bigger size?
Three words: Can. Of. Worms. 
  1. Stop nagging me!
We wouldn’t need to nag if you did it the first time we asked.
  1. Will you iron my shirt for work tomorrow please?
Only if you’re wearing it as we iron.  Guys, you really need to learn this vital life skill (or learn to live with creases).
  1. Do you want me to park it for you?
  1. This is a 40 zone not a 30.
SHUT UP! There is nothing worse than a know-it-all, male, back seat driver.
  1. Aww look, your first wrinkle/grey hair!
This is never ok.
  1. Calm down, dear
Don’t tell us to calm down, this will just make us more angry.
  1. You’re so hormonal, is it that time of the month?
We don’t like this.  Just as you don’t like it when we talk tampons and sanitary towels. Leave the subject alone.
  1. I thought you were going to the hairdressers?
Pay more attention.  Compliment on our hair even if it looks no different.
  1. Have you seen that new exercise DVD advertised?
Do you think I’m fat?
  1. What’s happened to your eyebrows?
Don’t ever mention our brows unless you are complimenting them.  If they look like caterpillars, or are barely even there, we will know about it.
  1. Do you really need another pair of shoes?
  1. Just remind me when your birthday is...
Always have a diary to avoid the consequences of this question.
  1. You’re turning into your mother!
Unless this is meant as a compliment, don’t say it.
  1. Make me a sandwich.
This is only ever an acceptable demand if we get something in return.
  1. ...but you didn’t text.
Ah, but did YOU text?  No.
  1. What’s the point?
If we have asked to do something there will be a point to it.  Don’t question it.  If you want an easy life just do it.
The basic message is to think before you speak.  Would you like it if a woman commented on your weight, your driving, or your fit friends?  I didn’t think so.  If you follow this easy ‘what not to do’ guide you will find that your life is free of hassle, backlash and unhappy women. 


Controversy surrounding the use of the C-word

The C-word is one of the most contested words in the English language.  ‘Not appropriate’, ‘unnecessary’, and ‘uncalled for’ are just a few of the ways its use is condemned.  I am, of course, talking about Christmas.  Scrooges across the land hate the word even being mentioned before 1stDecember; but with 99 days until the big day it would seem that the countdown is on for some.
Advent calendars, selection boxes and mince pies are already claiming their shelf space in supermarkets and it won’t be long before Christmas adverts are being sneakily slipped in the breaks between Corrie. 
A lot of people complain about the use of the C-word any earlier than December itself, but it pays to be organised for this time of year.  Christmas shopping is as equally enjoyable as it is stressful.  Late night shopping in York is one of my favourite times of year – getting all wrapped up and wandering around the streets lined with Christmas lights while enjoying a Baileys hot chocolate.  But it is equally stressful with crowds of people bustling around desperate to find a bargain and to grab the latest top presents.
Every year you hear of friends and family who claim they are starting their Christmas shopping ‘early this year’.  My friend said it to me just the other day – and we are only mid-September!
Yes, being organised has its benefits.  The cost is spread out over a longer period so seems much less harsh; and you can avoid the hustle and bustle that is the last few shopping days before Christmas.  But you can’t beat that Christmassy feeling you get when you are strolling through the streets all wrapped up while a brass band play Christmas songs or a choir entertain with well-known carols.
I love Christmas.  Winter nights getting cosy in front of the fire; eating your body weight in seasonal goodies; and parties left, right and centre.  There are bank holidays galore and the January sales are just around the corner.  Huge tins of chocolates are practically being given away by supermarkets and the Coca Cola advert is on television.  And, of course, not forgetting the work Christmas do.  (Unfortunately for me, I have forgotten everything that happened on my Christmas do last year.  Except the fact I ended up in A&E the next morning.)
It’s acceptable to watch Elf, The Polar Express, and The Grinch; as well as the hundreds of other festive films.  There are Christmas specials of your favourite television shows; The X Factor final is nearing; there’s a race for the coveted ‘Christmas Number One’ (with not a Christmas song in sight); and Slade, Mariah Carey, and Wham are played everywhere you go. 
Everyone dreams of a ‘White Christmas’ and gets excited at the first snowfall; the outdoor ice rinks pop up across the country; and the mulled wine is back (wahoo!).  John Lewis outdoes its previous Christmas advert; everything sparkles and is covered in glitter; and Christmas decorations are suspended, stuck, and stood on any available space.  Most importantly, you get to see friends and family who you normally don’t get chance to catch up with. 
For people with young children Christmas is a magical time, and they probably avoid the use of the C-word too early to prevent too much excitement building up.  Although, the threat that Santa can see everything that is going on is an excellent tactic to use all year round.  The anticipation on Christmas Eve and the elation on Christmas morning is something that cannot be described.  Gathered around the tree with your loved ones, opening presents, chocolate for breakfast, enjoying the smell of the Christmas dinner cooking away...
If you aren’t excited about Christmas after reading all of that, come back in a month.  99 days is a long way off, after all, with Halloween and bonfire night to come first.  But get used to the C-word being dropped more and more often as we inch closer and closer to the festive period.
Of course, there are still going to be those who are unable to get excited about Christmas.  Whilst it is a happy time for the majority of people it is tinged with sadness for some.  This must always be remembered when Christmas is being forced upon them by every high street, television screen, and radio in the land.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to spend Christmas with their loved ones and all of us who are must be very grateful for that fact. 


The changing face of online dating

Match.com, uniformdating.com...  You wouldn't find many 18-30 year-olds signing up to these sites.  The stigma that is attached to online dating paints the picture of someone who is in the autumn of their life and desperately searching for a companion.  For the millions of single people out there, online dating it seen as very much a last resort.

For single twenty-somethings, online dating is a no-no.  Until now, that is.  A new dating app has taken off which has given online dating a much needed face lift.

Tinder is growing by the day as thousands more people sign themselves up and enter into the game.  The app connects to your Facebook profile and uses a selection of your profile pictures and your profile information in order to build your Tinder profile.  Then, using your current location, it suggests people who are nearby to you.  If you like them, you say so.  If you don't, you say no and move on to the next person.

The brilliant thing about this app is that if someone doesn't like you back, they never have to find out that you liked them.  Better than that is when you like someone who also likes you and you get the exciting message informing you that you have a match.  You then have the option to message this person and strike up a conversation.

The key thing to note about this app is the option to 'send a message or keep playing'.  Essentially, this is a game.  An ego boost which picks you up when you are having a bad day.  There are people on it looking for fun, looking for something serious, and, most commonly, looking for something casual.

So does this mark a change in the perception of online dating?  With the app growing by the day it seems that young people are embracing the dating game and jumping on board the Tinder band wagon.  Over the last few days I have been playing the Tinder game and have met some really interesting people.  I am not on it looking for a date or to meet up with any of the people on there, but a lot of the people that I have spoken to are.  This tells me that the online dating stigma has been removed, with more and more people keen to join in the fun.

Allegedly, the app is popular with celebrities.  Unfortunately, I have not come across Prince Harry on it yet.  Although I would probably need to extend my 30 mile radius first.  I have, however, found a lot of people I know from school or college.  This presents a slight dilemma - do you like their profile to be polite?  Or do you risk giving them the wrong message?  Have they seen you too and have jumped to conclusions as to why you are there?

Of course, there are the risks that there are with online dating.  Do you know that the person you are talking to is the person that you see in the photo?  Is the person really as genuine as they seem?  And do you go and meet up with someone you have met over the internet?  I would still view Tinder with the same caution as I would any other dating website.  But, then again, I would never meet up with anyone I met through the app.

It is just a fun and exciting past time which makes you feel better about yourself without the rejection and the knock backs.  It's an easy way to meet people near you, if that is what you are looking for.  It's the perfect way to find like-minded people who are looking for something casual, serious, or a friendship.  All of this without the shame of admitting that you are a member of an online dating site.

The novelty is starting to wear off a bit now, though.  Last night, I received a message from a guy I was matched with which said 'I put the STD in STUD, now all I need is U'.  Wow.

Tinder has passed the time at work, given my ego a big boost, let me chat to some weird/interesting people, and taught me that the perception of online dating has definitely changed.  It is challenging, head-on, the stereotypes of people who use online dating sites and shows how technology is influencing that change.


40 Days of Dating

An unlucky in love pair of best friends in New York have made the headlines recently following their decision to date one another for 40 days as part of an experiment.
The pair, Jessica Walsh and Tim Goodman, had been best friends for four years before deciding to embark on the 40 day relationship after they both found themselves single at the same time.  They agreed on six rules: seeing each other every day, going on three dates a week, completing a daily questionnaire, visiting a couples' therapist every week, going on a weekend trip together, and abstaining from dating, kissing or having sex with anyone else.  Complete monogamy. 
But would you consider dating one of your best friends if you were yet to find ‘The One’?  And can you really ever escape the ‘friend zone’?
I think it would be a possibility.  There’s always the worry that things will not work out and your friendship, as a consequence, will be ruined.  But what if it did work out?  You’d have the best friendship in the world then!
Blurring the lines between a friendship and a relationship can have its complications but it can also have numerous benefits - you already know each other really well, and most probably each other’s family; you feel comfortable in each other’s company; and you’ll already know each other’s circle of friends. 
Of course, there’s the awkwardness which could occur if/when things began to get intimate.  Even if you have previously harboured feelings for your best friend it will always be a bit strange the first time you endeavour to cross that line.  More often than not, best friends of the opposite sex see each other as siblings rather than anything else. 
But how would all of this play out during a 40 day trial relationship?
Changing your relationship status on Facebook, going on dates, suddenly being a couple... all overnight!  No gradual build up of feelings, just a sudden change of labels and ‘rules’.
Yes, it sounds like a fun experiment and it’s always nice to be able to know the answer to ‘what if..’  But it can also come across a bit desperate.  Why try and force a relationship between the two of you when you are such good friends already?  Surely if anything was ever going to develop it would happen naturally, over time.
I suppose the best way to think about it is like a test drive.  You have to test drive a new car before purchase because you don’t know how it is going to suit you, how it is going to drive, and how much it is going to cost you.  The exact same principles apply for a relationship.
I’m not sure whether I, personally, would ever embark on such a trial.  Although, who’s to say anyone would want to take me on for a 40 day trial!
If you want to read about how the experiment worked for Jessica and Tim their daily diary entries can be found on: http://fortydaysofdating.com/


'Cheers' to drunk texting!

No doubt the majority of people reading this will have been there: you have just poured yourself another drink, where the spirit heavily outweighs the mixer, and out comes the phone.  You find yourself squinting at the screen attempting to send a text which you, no doubt, will regret in the morning.  However, under the influence of Captain Smirnoff, everything seems like a good idea.

Whether you are drunkenly texting your best friend declaring your love for them, or emphatically trying to get in contact with everyone in your phone, we have all done it. 

Under the influence of alcohol, everything seems like a good idea.  ‘Cna i coome bcak toyousr?vvv’ (Translation: Can I come back to yours????) is possibly the best/worst, and most common, drunken text.

Texts like this are never looked at in a very good light.  The desperation that oozes out of such texts sometimes is beyond humiliating.

That aside, I think that drunk texts are actually shown in an unnecessarily bad light.  I saw a quote a few weeks ago which summed it up nicely:

 ‘I don’t understand people who think drunk texts are annoying.  I think drunk texts are so cute. Just think of it this way: you’re who that person is thinking of when their brain isn’t functioning properly; you’re who that person is thinking of when they can’t even form coherent sentences; and you’re on that person’s mind when they have the motor skills of an infant.  That’s all pretty awesome to me!’

Of course, drunk texts are annoying for the recipient: tucked up in bed, fast asleep at 3am only to be rudely awoken & bombarded with messages/phone calls by a boozy individual begging for a conversation. But I would prefer to look at it the way the person above has.

This is probably because I am guilty of sending many a drunken text in my time.  I have lost count of the number of mornings I have woken up red-faced after checking my sent messages from the night before and discovered what my alcohol-infused alter-ego is capable of after a few too many jagers.

And just when I thought there was nothing worse than the shame of drunk texting along comes snapchat.  With that you have no evidence of what you sent - just a list of recipients who have been lucky enough to be inundated with your snaps from throughout the evening.

After the feeling of invincibility wears off, none of the above ever seems like a good idea and you swear you will never do it again.  Until the next time you climb aboard the vodka vessel, that is.  


The right-to-die debate

The issue of euthanasia has, for years, been a debate which has rumbled on; occasionally making the national headlines when high profile cases are being discussed.  Most recently there have been the well-publicised cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb. 
Tony Nicklinson was a 58 year-old father of two who was paralysed from the neck down after suffering a stroke in 2005.  He was left with locked-in syndrome and was only able to communicate by blinking.  He lost his High Court bid in August 2012 which aimed to allow doctors to end his life without fear of prosecution.  A week after the decision, Mr Nicklinson passed away from natural causes.
Almost a year on from Mr Nicklinson’s death Paul Lamb, a 58 year-old man from Leeds, joined forces with Mr Nicklinson’s family in campaigning to allow doctors to end his own life.  He was severely injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function in any of his limbs, apart from a little movement in his right hand.  Mr Lamb requires 24 hour care and has told how he is ‘fed up of going through the motions of life rather than living it.’
Both of these cases highlight the growing arguments for the introduction of euthanasia.  It is a highly controversial topic which has strong arguments on both sides.
In the last few weeks the Channel 4 soap ‘Hollyoaks’ has successfully covered a euthanasia storyline involving the character Ste Hay and his mother, Pauline.  She was suffering from cancer and only had a matter of weeks to live.  Her deteriorating condition was depicted on screen and her desperation to end her suffering was portrayed.  She begged her son to put her out of her misery, explaining how she would die soon anyway and wanted to do so with dignity before it got any worse.  Ste, in the end, granted his mum’s wishes and gave her a lethal overdose which ended her life.
Luckily for Ste, he was not discovered to have been the cause of his mum’s overdose; with the police concluding that his mum took the fatal overdose without any help.  The soap, in my opinion, cleverly demonstrated the desperation felt by those who wish to end their own life.  If someone is suffering at the hands of a terrible illness, has no quality of life, and wishes to end their life in a dignified manner surrounded by family and friends then I can not see how anyone can be in a position to stop that. 
If a dog was suffering from cancer, or was finding its old age difficult, nobody would say ‘it is unfair to the dog to put it down, let’s carry on leaving it to suffer’.  So why should dogs be granted that and not humans?  A dog can’t even tell the vets how much it is hurting; a human can express this.
When Tony Nicklinson suffered his stroke it wasn’t just his life that changed.  His wife and two daughters saw their lives change, too.  They became his full time carers, having to adapt to this new situation that the family found themselves in.  Similarly, Paul Lamb and his family had to do the same.
Both had their High Court appeals turned down, which I am not surprised at.  There are many people campaigning to have their lives ended by family members or doctors and, I believe, as soon as the High Court give in to one of these cases they are going to have to give in to them all – something they will not want to do.
Euthanasia, as previously mentioned, is a very contested issue with incredibly strong arguments on both sides.  Whilst it is deemed to be humane to grant people’s wishes to end their pain and suffering it faces a wrath of anti-euthanasia arguments.  These include huge questions about pressure and abuse; the belief that it’s against the best interests of patients & brands disabled people as not worthy of life; and many religious arguments.
Some of these make a lot of sense.  There are obviously strong arguments against legalising euthanasia in Britain, otherwise it would have been done years ago.  The substantial point that it devalues life is a very valid point.  In some respects it does suggest that the disabled or terminally ill are not worthy of life.  However, in the majority of cases it is the person suffering requesting to be euthanized in order to end their pain – not someone else making the decision for them.  Inevitably, there is the danger of the legalisation of euthanasia being abused and it no longer being voluntary.  But if someone is euthanized involuntarily there would surely be support systems in place to notice this?
To me, euthanasia seems like a much fairer option than suffering.  If one of my loved ones was suffering at the hands of a terminal illness or a debilitating disease/condition, and they asked me to end their life, I would seriously think about it.  I, obviously, do not want to be arrested on a murder charge and sentenced to a spell in prison, but I would certainly join the campaign to have it legalised.  If I knew that there was a way in which I could help end the pain and suffering for someone who so desperately wanted that, I don’t see how anyone can be in a position to decline that wish.
Yes, there are issues raised over the possibility of abuse and pressure, but surely these issues are just as prevalent today even without euthanasia being legalised?
I can’t see an end in sight to this long-running debate, unfortunately.  For the families of those tirelessly campaigning for a change in the law, I hope they get what they are looking for eventually.  Nobody should have to suffer any longer than necessary.  If it isn’t right for our pets to suffer then why should our loved ones?

Bridget Jones in the 21st century

Bridget Jones – the woman, the myth, the legend.  We all know the tales of Bridge’s hapless love life, battle with her weight, and her determination to quit smoking and drinking.
When having a bad day, or a night in with the boys (Ben & Jerry), I often refer to myself as having a Bridget moment.  I sit in my sweats, eat my body weight in carbs and high calorie goodies, and guzzle wine while watching The Notebook (or other equally depressing films).
Poor Bridge has gained quite a reputation as being unlucky in most aspects of her life.  Her trademark ‘stomach holding in pants’ are a prime example of the ‘plump’ image that we were given of Bridget throughout the films.
However, after watching Bridget Jones’ Diary the other night I began to think about what I was seeing.  Bridget actually has her life pretty sorted: she has her own flat, a good job (until she sleeps with her boss and has to leave, of course) and two men fighting over her (and not just any men – Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver!!  Aka Colin Firth and Hugh Grant).  What shocked me most was that in her diary entries she always mentions her weight.  It fluctuates between 130lbs and 140lbs throughout the film (around 9st to 10st).
From the way this is discussed in the film you would think she was weighing in at much more than that.  I haven’t been 9st since I hit puberty!! Yet, at 9st, Bridge needs her stomach holding in pants.  Does this mean I need stomach holding in pants?!
My lovely evening plan of watching Bridget Jones’ Diary & feeling better about myself took a slight unexpected turn. I realised that I don’t have my own flat, I don’t have two men fighting over me (and if I did they would most likely not look like Colin Firth or Hugh Grant), I weigh in heavier than Bridget...
Perhaps it is time to stop using Bridget as the matriarch of ‘real, unlucky women’ and remember that she is ‘Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess, with a very bad man between her thighs...’


'The Gap' vs. A Chocolate Digestive

'The gap' - the latest 'must have' for women.  For those of you who do not know what this is, it's the inner-thigh gap (i.e when you stand with your legs hip distance apart).  However, many people now wish to be able to stand with their feet together & still have a space between their legs at the top.  Some girls go as far to say the bigger the gap, the more attractive the girl.

The chocolate digestive - a satisfying, chocolatey biscuit treat which is loved by millions around the world.

Celebrities such as Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne  are now role models for many females who wish to achieve 'the gap'.  The internet is full of advice on how to achieve it.  One of these suggests hormonal fixes, toning your thighs, and healthy eating.  What many advice sites forget to mention, however, is the health risks attached to this.

The rise of 'the gap' equals the decline of the chocolate digestive.

What is more shocking is that women have nearly died trying to perfect 'the gap'.  Young girls see images of super models in magazines and aspire to look just like them.  They see airbrushed, photo-shopped images of women who are deemed by these magazines to look perfect.  Teenage girls are starving themselves, as a result, in order to achieve this look.

It is possible to achieve naturally and can look incredibly healthy.  However, many are so obsessed with this new craze that they don't want to exercise in order to achieve it in the correct and healthy way, as this would take too long.

Whose figure would you rather have? Alexa Chung's and her thigh gap?  Or Beyonce's incredible curves?

I, personally, would take Beyonce's figure over Alexa's any day of the week.

Many women believe that men find a thigh gap attractive.  I spoke to a handful of men and most didn't even know what it was, and the rest said they would rather have a curvaceous, healthy figure.

The thigh gap is yet another craze which puts pressure on women.

Yes, thigh gaps can be achieved healthily and naturally.  Unfortunately, it's the painfully thin celebrities like Alexa who are teenage girls' role models when it comes to  'the gap'; and these women have probably never seen a chocolate digestive.

The obsession with it is ridiculous and dangerous.  A recent advert by Target highlighted how unnatural thigh gaps are in the majority of models.  In the image, the model's vagina had partly disappeared - someone obviously got a bit carried away with Photoshop!

To the people who obsess about achieving a thigh gap, I would say this: I really wouldn't bother trying so hard.  If you have a thigh gap' and drop your chocolate digestive while sitting down it will just fall straight to the floor.  If, like me, when you sit down your thighs close quicker than a door in the wind you will catch the chocolate digestive and feel a sense of triumph over all of those who lost theirs.

I would choose a chocolate digestive over 'the gap' every single time.


Woolwich murder: 22nd May 2013

Today, a horrific crime was carried out on a South East London street.  An innocent, young man was murdered - hacked to death by mindless thugs, armed with knives and machetes, in the middle of the street.  It has been reported that the young man was a serving British soldier; as of yet he has not been formally identified.

Police are apparently treating the attack as an act of terror.  This announcement has opened the floodgates for the mindless, racist generalisations towards Muslims.  'Get all Muslims deported out of this country!' is just one of the many ridiculous comments I have seen on Facebook and Twitter this afternoon.

Evil people commit evil acts because they are evil, not because of their religion, or because of their skin colour.  For people to make sweeping statements that all Muslims are evil and that all Muslims should be 'thrown out of Britain' is shameful.  There are British people all across the world who live in other countries who commit horrible crimes, but do they receive the same kind of judgement and the same racist reaction?  The British man who killed his two children in Lyon at the weekend is a prime example.  The two barbarians who killed this poor, young man today just so happened to be Muslim.  It's no different to the racist brutes who killed Stephen Lawrence - they were white.  Was there a similar backlash and racist outburst towards them, calling for all white people to be thrown out of Britain?  No.

Unfortunately, there are evil people everywhere in this world.  It doesn't matter what their religious beliefs are, what the colour of their skin is, or what their nationality is - there is not an 'evil race'.  To believe such a thing makes you no better than the Nazi Party.  Their victimisation of the Jews began in a very similar way, culminating in the Holocaust.

The people who carry out these horrendous, unthinkable attacks on the world are in the minority of all religions and races.  Making snap judgements and racist remarks, and calling for horrific things to be done to them, only makes people look just as bad as those who have carried out these atrocities.

Theresa May calling this 'an attack on the whole of the United Kingdom' and referring to it as 'a new type of Islamic terrorism' is only fuelling those mindless, racist idiots.  The media coverage is also just as bad.  ITV News showing the video of the murderer with blood-stained hands, still clutching the weapons, attempting to justify what he has done, while the man lies dead on the ground behind him, is a very confusing move.  To give him the media exposure to get his views across is only going to encourage like-minded people to carry out similar attacks, as well as further fuelling the racist minority in this country.

This evening I think people should spend more time thinking about the family and friends of the victim, and the poor people who had to witness this attack, rather than dwelling upon the religious background of the attackers and pointing the finger of blame at an entire religious group.  Spouting racist remarks and comments does not make anyone look big or clever.  It makes you look senseless and irresponsible.


My thoughts on Samantha Brick's ridiculous article about dieting

Today, the Mail Online published an article by Samantha Brick entitled 'Joan Collins is right. Any woman who wants to stay beautiful (like me!) needs to diet every day of her life'.  Within the article she goes on to describe how she has been on a diet for three decades because 'men prefer slim women' and describes her boyfriends as being like 'weight-loss coaches'.

She explains how at college she invented the 'polo diet' which involved eating only a packet of polos for breakfast, and a packet for lunch; sometimes making them last up to an hour.  She describes how she fainted because of the hunger once but justifies it because she was being asked out on lots of dates.  Essentially, Samantha Brick is starving herself: 'To avoid culinary temptation, I even made a point of renting a house without a kitchen. Of course, constantly denying myself food was not and is not easy, but it has always brought enough rewards to make it worthwhile.'

I completely disagree with almost everything she says in her article.  To positively advertise starving yourself is an incredibly irresponsible thing for Ms. Brick to do; especially via The Daily Mail.  Her article is bound to be seen by millions, including young girls who will take her comments on board and, possibly, attempt to copy her ridiculous diets.

Just as it seemed the country was starting to change its attitude towards womens' size and embrace the curvy, natural woman, women like Samantha Brick come out with ridiculous statements such as this.  There are those lucky few who are able to maintain a slim figure despite eating what they want and not trying to diet - those people are, and probably always will be, the envy of most females.  Then there's those who, unfortunately, are not so lucky and have to exercise regularly and enjoy things in moderartion. 

Samantha Brick's ridiculous comments throughout this article demonstrate how shallow some of the female population still are.  The belief that being skinny is the only way that a woman can be attractive is so beyond stupid that there are no words.  In her closing sentence she states 'there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat'.  I think that Samantha Brick should take a long, hard look at herself in the mirror.  Yes, she might be slim and have men throwing themselves at her feet, but is she really happy?  And is she a nice person?  I think the answer to those questions is most probably a no and I, personally, would rather be happy, healthy and curvy than skinny, starving and a complete and utter bitch.


The death of Margaret Thatcher

Today a formidable woman has died.  Margaret Thatcher was the first, and only ever, female British Prime Minister.  Throughout her time in Downing Street, and even in the decades after, Mrs Thatcher divided opinion within Britain.  The Falklands War, the miners' strikes, Poll Tax, and Hillsborough are just a few of the controversial events which occurred under Thatcher's reign as Prime Minister.  In the North she was, and to some extent still is, hated.  Elsewhere, opinion is mixed.

She epitomised the rags to riches fairytale - the grocer's daughter who smashed through the glass ceiling and achieved all of her dreams.  An icon for women across the world, Thatcher demonstrated that anything is possible if you dare to dream hard enough.  Her image as the 'Iron Lady' drew admiration from across the globe.  In some respects, Thatcher was an icon.

However, the reaction to her death today exceeds anything that I imagined.  Yes, the negative comments were expected and the celebratory tone was predicted.  But some of the comments I have read on news stories, on Twitter and on Facebook have been disgusting.  She was a controversial woman who changed Britain, changed the economy, and changed the way Britain was perceived abroad.  Those whose lives were changed for the better are remembering Thatcher fondly today.

Nevertheless, the negative comments are appearing to dominate.  The Telegraph has been forced to close its comments on every Thatcher story this afternoon due to the amount of abuse the site was attracting. The editor told of how the email address set up for tributes was filled with abuse.

Understandably, a lot of people in mining communities in the North will not be shedding tears this evening.  They fought a long battle with the government over their jobs; an industrial dispute which got incredibly nasty.  Across the North she is viewed as a hate figure.  In Liverpool, the perception is very similar.  Thatcher was held responsible for the Toxteth riots of 1981 with many in Merseyside today being glad that she is gone.  Resentment lives on in Liverpool, and across the North, towards a woman who was blamed for unemployment, suffering, and rising discontent.

However, the abuse which she is receiving today comes from many who most likely weren't alive during the Thatcher years and/or have no connection to anyone who was affected by any of her destructive policies.  Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion; free speech is something we are lucky to have in this country.  But to use it in such a malicious way, when the majority of people being so abusive probably have no idea about the history or the political background, is ridiculous.  There is no denying Margaret Thatcher was controversial and I am, by no means, condoning any of the policies that she introduced.  She destroyed the mining community in the town where I am from and I know many people who's families were torn apart as a result.

I think that people need to take a step back and remember that, above all, Thatcher was a human.  She was a mother and a grandmother.  There are family, friends, and colleagues who are grieving at this moment in time.  Yes, you may have an opinion on her and you may have suffered first hand as a result of Thatcherism; and I would not blame anyone for enjoying a drink this evening or for celebrating her death.  But to broadcast such malicious, abusive comments on social media and on sites which are set up to pay tribute is not fair.  What I do find slightly sickening is the people who are jumping on the bandwagon and hurling insults and abuse at a dead woman; most of whom probably did not even realise she was still alive.

Today marks the end of a long period of history - the final end of Thatcherism.  A period which saw industrial unrest, riots, ideological shifts, political battles, and international conflicts.  A period dominated by a formidable woman who showed no mercy and stood strong and firm.  Margaret Thatcher was an iconic, internationally adored woman who was incredibly well received on the world stage; much more so than she was here in Britain.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on Thatcher.  Mine is that she changed Britain for the worse; bringing suffering to hundreds of thousands and changing the way of life for millions.

On the whole, I am sure she will not be remembered fondly.  How history will remember her in years to come will be interesting.  History is written by the winners, after all, so it is possible that she will be painted as an adored heroine who saved Britain and turned it around when it needed it most.  For now, though, I feel it is worth remembering that Thatcher was popular for a time.  To spend nearly eleven years as Prime Minister indicates that there must have been a large degree of support for her.

Thatcher was far from sympathetic towards the suffering of the miners or the victims of Hillsborough, so I find it slightly ironic that people are calling for sympathy to be had towards her today.  I do not think people should be sympathetic or empathise with her, but they should be towards her family and friends.  They were not responsible for what she did and, at the end of the day, they have lost a loved one.

Arguably, and rather ironically, Thatcher was the last Prime Minister to have the balls to stand up for what she believed in.  Her strong, bold, determined attitude will never be forgotten by a nation who were divided during her life and, even more so, after her death.


The perils of social networks

The other day I nearly got run over by a bus.  I was crossing the road and it went straight through the red light.  It was very traumatic.  And what was the first thing I did?  I tweeted about it.  Today, we live in a society where someone would tweet about their house being on fire before they would ring the fire brigade.  The rise of Twitter and Facebook in the last few years has changed the way we communicate with one another; changed the way we go about our daily lives.

Instagram seems to have developed into a mini modelling site for wannabe Britain's Next Top Models, whilst Twitter is a breeding ground for young girls obsessed with Justin Bieber and One Direction - verbally attacking anyone who dare say a bad word against them.  Girls as young as 8 now use Twitter as a way of keeping up with Bieber and the like.  When I was 8 my technological exposure was Pokemon on the Gameboy, Tony Hawk Pro Skater on the PlayStation, and my ever-faithful karaoke machine (sorry, again, mum and dad for my murderous versions of Eternal Flame that I used to blast out!)

It's terrifying what some of these young girls write on Twitter - sending death threats, promising their virginity to a boyband member just for a retweet...  The dangerous, obsessive cult of young girls who exist on Twitter (the Beliebers, the Directioners, Lovatics etcetcetc) are all tweeting, the majority of the time, from their own laptops/computers, iPads, or smart phones - they're more technologically advanced than I am!  Not only is it dangerous, young girls being exposed to the internet, their comments are able to be read by anyone.  People tweet in the heat of the moment and do not realise the repercussions that can come from it.  The student who was racially abusive towards Fabrice Muamba is a prime example - he was arrested and charged by the police for his comments. 

Modern day society is completely wrapped up in social networking.  I found out some of the biggest events of recent times via Twitter: Bin Laden being captured and killed; Whitney Houston dying; Rylan winning Celebrity Big Brother... Without it, I probably wouldn't have a clue what was going on in the world.  But how did this dependence come about?  How did it come to the constant refreshing of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for hours on end?  Seeing nothing new or interesting but continuing to refresh anyway.

Here are a couple examples of conversations between my best friend and myself from last year, highlighting the importance of social networks in our day-to-day lives:

Me: I wonder if they are ok, they seemed a bit odd last night
Soph: He'll be fine, I'm sure, have you heard from them since?
Me: Nope, and he hasn't tweeted in over 13 hours now. Something is not right.
Soph: Oh, that is unusual.
Soph: Do you want to check us in at Meadowhall or shall I do it?
Me: Woah, people are going to think I'm dead - I haven't tweeted in over 36 hours!

[I'm quite sure nobody did think I was dead.]

I wonder what would happen if Facebook and Twitter did just, out of the blue, close down one day?  Or if everyone emigrated to another, brighter social network? [RIP MySpace and Bebo]  Would the world end?  Possibly.  But without Twitter, nobody would ever find out about it...



It's here again: V-Day.  The one day a year where foods full of saturated fat and soon-to-be-dead foliage are expected by women across the land.  But, for every loved up couple out there enjoying a candlelit dinner and a night with Marvin Gaye in the background, there's a single girl at home eating her body weight in chocolate and watching The Notebook.  It's sad, but true.

The country goes mad for Valentine's Day.  Supermarkets look like Cupid was sick all over an aisle; restaurants have been emailing since January advertising their romantic set menus; Champagne, steak, and boxes of chocolates bigger than me are all half price; and every other advert in between Corrie is for Moonpig, offering ridiculously large bouquets of roses and a free card for ONLY £35!!  This isn't the end of it, though.  Oh no.  The radio dedicates a day to 'your romantic requests to your loved one' and there's always someone proposing to their other half on This Morning; who thinks they are just there to talk about their ingrowing toenail problem.

I won't feel bitter come the 14th when my friends upload photos of the impressive bouquets of flowers they've received, or express to everyone how they're 'the luckiest girl in the world' or want to be sick at the grossly, over the top public displays of affection. I'll not sit in my onesie listening to Adele and Leona Lewis, making my way through a family-sized pack of Sensations and a box of Milk Tray, with my cat keep me company (although, to be fair, one of those is an activity most nights anyway).

The worst thing to do on Valentine's Day is dwell and be bitter...(HA)  Of course, if I were in a relationship I would be Team V-Day all the way, but I'm not.  So to me it is just one day out of the whole year where couples decide to demonstrate the magnitude of their love for one another, purely because everyone else is.  It's one of the cliche days to get engaged and one of the only days of the year which, pretty much, guarantees sex.  That is, unless your man completely forgets about it.  He then has to wait another month until the, alleged, male equivalent of Valentine's Day on 14th March: 'Steak and Blowjob Day'.  Despite it's growing popularity, I can't see that one catching on with Hallmark any time soon!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Student life woes & worries

Typically, people view University students as slackers who sleep all day and party all night.  This is usually the view held by people who never attended University, and is only really applicable to a minority.  In actual fact, it is really hard being a student (honest).  Granted, my timetable is ridiculously minimal: 6 hours a week for my first two years and 4 hours a week in my third.  It's the huge workload, mass of deadlines, and super long reading lists which are just the tip of the iceberg.

For me, the workload is not the difficult part about student life.  It's the stress of what I am going to do once I finish.  I will have finished my degree in 4 months time.  What am I going to do then?  Go on holiday with my friends, see a bit of the world, go to a few festivals, see a bit more of the world, marry Prince Harry?  All of these (even the last one) are more likely than me finding a career in something that I actually want to do.  Applying for graduate schemes is slowly, but surely, sucking all of the life out of me.  I have never been one to cope well with rejection but this whole process has driven me to the brink.  The application process is so long, with some taking at least an hour.  For that effort to then not even be acknowledged with a courtesy 'sorry you were not successful, thank you for your time and good luck in the future' email is soul-destroying.

I have had one interview, or rather, assessment day.  It was scary.  I felt like I was on The Apprentice.  Sat round a table with 8 guys and 1 other girl: all wearing suits and carrying briefcases/snazzy work satchels.  I was terrified.  I didn't feel grown up enough to be sitting in a board room dressed like I'd fallen out of Zara's workwear catalogue.

Then it hit me: I've spent the last 17 years of my life in education.  17 long, hard, tearful, but sometimes fun, years.  I've learnt a lot, obviously.  But not just my times tables and how to make an apple crumble - I've learnt a lot about myself.  I am not the kind of person who spends all that time doing something, and becoming the person I am today, to throw it all away sitting behind a desk doing a job that I hate for the next 50 years of my life.  No.  Thank.  You.

I am bombarded everyday with emails about graduate scheme after graduate scheme, promising me jobs at the end, luring me in with generous salaries.  But is it what I want to do with my life?  No.  It's not a case of me not knowing what I want to do with my life.  I want to be a journalist; I've known that for a long time.  The problem is the difficulty of getting anywhere these days.  Jobs are scarce.  I am lucky to have always had a job since I was 16; I'm even luckier to have 2 at the moment.  But securing a stable career is incredibly hard.

Going to University you think you are guaranteed a good job at the end.  Throughout school and college University is built up to be a place which guarantees you success - if you have a degree you are more employable and more likely to get where you want to be.  But I have friends who have not been to University and are in a much better position than those who did: no debt, a good job, savings...

Yes, University is a lot of fun.  You get so many experiences that you would not get otherwise.  For example, I never imagined myself throwing myself out of a plane.  But whilst it is a lot of fun, the reality is harsh.  The niggling fear of disappointing my family is the only thing stopping me giving up on the graduate scheme scene and heading out into the big, wide world: travelling and teaching abroad.

Who knows where I will be this time next year.  In a job I hate: sat behind a desk 8 hours a day, 7 days a week?  In a job I love: excited to wake up every morning and probably in love with a colleague?  Still a Barista at Starbucks: getting unacceptably drunk on staff nights out, singing Bridget Jones-esque karaoke on stage and flashing next week's washing to anyone who will look?  Doing something crazy like bungee jumping off a bridge in New Zealand or swimming with Sharks in Australia?  Or being an absolute darling and giving the UK a bank holiday because I'm marrying Prince Harry? (You can thank me later!)