The Queer Rebellion of Embracing Your Body As It Is

There are two things I never thought I’d do:  go bare legged in public without shaving, and wear short shorts.

I did both of these things last weekend, while playing in a roller derby tournament.  And I survived.  I won’t say there weren’t moments of doubt and self-consciousness, but they were minimal, just minor irritations I could brush away.

For some, this won’t seem like such a big deal.  But for me, this is HUGE.   Continue reading


Dear Auntie Beeb,

I don’t watch programmes like Silent Witness so much anymore. I spent a lot of my life watching crime shows on TV.  At some point, though, I’d had enough. Maybe it was an increasing sense of my own mortality, maybe it was seeing one too many women get horrifically killed for our viewing pleasure. After the first season of The Fall, which sent a clear message that if you dare to be female, single and live alone then terrible things will happen, and the Luther that ran at the same time and reiterated the same message, I swore off such programmes.

So I’m not sure why I watched the latest two episodes of Silent Witness. Continue reading

the changing body fortunes of a woman in her forties…

…specifically, me.  An age is just a number – or, a gateway into a weird, dark, unsettling place full of doctors’ waiting rooms and sympathetic nods and new prescriptions and ominous letters from the NHS.  (And praise be for the NHS.)

weight gain



breast cysts

ovarian cysts

polyps (actually just the one but it was a whopper)


periods: heavy, whole body painful, unpredictable…

…or not periods. who knows. still hurts like fuck though. sore boobs 4eva

perma pms.  what with the no period thing.

joints.  which I mentioned but seriously.  Fucken JOINTS

Okay, I know I’m too guilty of self-deprecating creaky age jokes (funny because they’re true though).  I mean I also think it’s weird to celebrate age (FUCK YEAH FORTY FUCKING TWO BITCHES) as if it’s not just some accident of birth or circumstance, there’s not really anything I can do about how old I am.  BUT.  You know, despite all the weird changes it’s going through and the distinct lack of love and respect I give it, my bod can carry me through a couple of back to back crazy tough derby games as if it ain’t no thang, so hey – it’s pretty amazing.

roller derby feels

I went to my first roller derby practice in 2009. A friend had mentioned it to me a few months previous and we’d gone and had a peek at a practice at Meadowbank. It seemed like this exciting new thing that might be for people like us and I pored over their MySpace page looking for info. Eventually I rocked up to a session at the Jack Kane centre, on my own, armed with a pair of cheap skates and some kiddie pads. No fresh meat in those days, some poor person was taken out of practice to pootle round the track with me, then when I didn’t immediately break anything I was just expected to join in with the session – including a relay race and 180 knee turns. The whole thing was pretty scary and stressful and painful and then I came outside to find my bike lights had been stolen. I cried a lot of the way home. It wouldn’t be the last time.

Six years later and I can safely say that roller derby, and specifically ARRG, has changed me, and my life. I love this sport so much, it has made me a better person and introduced me to some of the most wonderful people I’ve known; it also broke my leg, and, at points, has broken my heart, my spirit.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever stuck to. I played in a game the day before my mum died, wondering if I’d just said goodbye to her, yet sometimes the thought of practice is so overwhelming I can barely move let alone leave the house. It makes me feel simultaneously so fucking amazing and shit about myself.

Coming back from a broken bone was fine, scary but fine.  But after my mum died and everything else in my life fell apart, that was harder.  I’d lost my foundations, my confidence, my drive. I couldn’t cope with the pressure.  Roller derby is a constant journey, an emotional and personal one.  Sometimes, it gets too much.  I discovered I wasn’t as stoic as I thought, I suddenly had all this fragility, this anxiety.  (Well, it had always been there, it just finally bubbled to the surface and didn’t go back down again.)  Maybe I should have had a proper break, but I just stepped back a bit, removed myself from the pressure and tried to just enjoy it again.  I guess I still needed it, but my attendance dipped, my skill level dropped, my confidence – already shaky – wavered then deserted me.  But roller derby and ARRG – they were still there.

I’m not sure what changed. Well – life had got better, slowly but wonderfully.  I had got better.  Then suddenly my attendance was up, and I was feeling better about myself, and about my skating. I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed, as I got offered a spot on the All Star Roster for this quarter.  I couldn’t believe it.  I thought about not accepting: surely I wasn’t good enough.  Besides, I’m happy being on the AS Reserves, proud to be voted in as captain, keen to help make it the best team it can be (and it will be amazing).

My mum used to come to every game I was in, she was so proud of me playing this weird sport.  No matter how ridiculous I thought I looked or how many mistakes I made – she didn’t notice that, she just saw me trying hard doing something I loved.  Thirty-odd years before she sat watching me try to get my Brownie swimming badge, and failing – three times.  She took me to tap class, and watched me have the time of my life, while getting everything wrong (“well, you weren’t a natural.”)

I want to go back to those times. I’m going to keep trying, keep pushing myself.  I’m going to try to not worry about how I look or what mistakes I make or how much better everyone else is.  It won’t be easy and I will probably need to have a few stern chats with myself along the way.  And, if I fail, I fail.  I’ll have tried, and I will be doing so with an amazing and inspiring group of women, and I’ll have lots of cool stories for my nieces and nephews.

So here I am, sitting moving a bag of frozen peas and a hot water bottle around my body, feeling excited for what’s to come.  Bring it!




It’s July! What?! Oh, the sands of time….

Good things that have happened in the last four months:

moved into a lovely flat with a lovely person
many lovely times with lovely person
trip to Berlin with roller derby pals
got an amazing new tattoo
played in three fun derby games, got MVP in one of them
was line up for our team at British Champs – and they came 2nd! In the UK!
did okay on my uni assessments, got a wee break
got discharged from Breast Clinic
had pelvic scans and gynae checks and nothing serious is wrong
made a little difference to some folks’ lives through my work
my little car made it through its mot
had a lovely 42nd birthday with my lovely person
had a birthday month full of amazing treats including Patti Smith, L7, Matthew Bourne ballet…
lovely annual family holiday to Dumfries & Galloway
made derby team, got voted in as captain
got a new job! woo!
handed in my notice to old job…FUCKING YES

there were probably some shit things too but fuck me if that was not a bad few months – 2015 ain’t shaping up too badly 😀

Anyway. I do have plans to come back here more regularly with some Thoughts and… Other Things. Just so you know.

Spring the changes

see what I did there?  No?  Oh well…

Anyway winter has been going on for approx seventeen months. I am writing this (illicitly) at work buried in several layers, a hoody and a fleece, with Peyton the Pug* stuffed up my top.  Hope glimmers in the form of crocus blankets and snowdrop tuffets, but it’s still cold and windy and wet.  BUT. Spring is reassuringly inevitable and buds are budding and frosts are thawing and hibernation is nearly over.

And more changes have happened!  Well, one. But a big one. I moved out of my flat share, and am staying with my dad again.  Which is lovely.  It’s like a wee holiday.  And kind of is – it’s only temporary.  Because I will soon have a new home!

Yes like the cliche couple we seem to be, we are moving in together.  Something that I would have thought should be terrifying and overwhelming and all those things was a simple conversation, a quick and easy decision, and is very, very, VERY exciting.

Our move is happening between two derby trips, two uni deadlines, with little time off work.  Logistics are hard and time is limited, I am tired and stressed and yes, there are risks, no, we don’t know what’s around the corner.  Who does?  What I do know, is that I am happy, happy, happy.  And right now, that feels like enough.

*not a real pug

this time, I mean it

It wasn’t that I forgot, more that I got distracted. I was still having the ideas, just not extracting them from my brain in anything other than status form. I even forgot to press the publish button for my last post, but it was nice and summery and right now it is dreich as all wintry get out so I just did it just now. CRAZY I KNOW.

Anyways. 2014 started out, well, not great. 2015 has started out a lot better. (It actually started out with some violent vomiting but let’s not go into that right now. Let’s just say, not my fault, mkay?)

So yeah. Last year was mixed. Some things weren’t great. I still don’t really have a home to speak of… I moved out of my dad’s into a flatshare, which is, you know – fine. Just not what I’m used to, or where I expected to be. But everyone living here is lovely and I have a nice room and I can park outside and it’s next to a park. I still get *menstrual migraines* (I puked in public for the first time ever!) and the grimmest pmt, periods, and now *wooo* ovulations. Super. I still have dodgy knees, and maybe body. I click when I move. I still have no assets or prospects. I still miss my mum like nothing I have known, I’m still so sad and angry that she isn’t here anymore and sometimes it hits me so hard I can’t breathe.

But guess what? There has been good stuff too. I still have an amazing family and have had lovely times with all of them throughout the last year, and had a lovely lovely family holiday in Wigtown in the sunshine. I still have a job, I still make a tiny difference in a tiny corner of the world. Also I got to go to America! I went to Oregon to line manage our roller derby all-stars, and had a wonderful time with wonderful people. I got a roller derby holiday in Oslo, too!

And I started a post-grad. I’m a student now, whut?? I’m doing MLitt in Gender Studies at Stirling Uni. I gave myself no notice, deciding to do it the week it began. SPONTANEOUS MEGA COMMITMENT. It’s over two years but still plenty work, particularly for someone not from *the academy*. Good news is I love it so far, although I might have forgot that as I cobbled together two essays with a migraine the night before the deadline o.O

And. AND. I met a person. I have a person. I have an amazing, wonderful, beautiful person. I haplessly nursed a crush for months, clueless that it was requited. How could it be? But it was, it is, and five months and a lot of *feelings* on, I am starting to accept that I am loved – but more importantly, that I can, and do, love too.

2015 – BRING IT.

buzz buzz

One of the best things ever is just lying on some green grass on a summery day, closing your eyes and listening to the world in miniature.

I was in my dad’s garden today and it was lovely. Sunny but not too hot, and so peaceful. Bees buzzing, birds singing, the distant hum of a lawnmower, strains of muffled laughter.

I tried to take some pictures of the bees, the coconeaster in particular was absolutely hoaching with them. They’re hard to photograph though, on account of all the flying about.

giant bee

mooncup love

I love my mooncup. I love mooncup. I want to work for mooncup who seem to eat a lot of cake in Brighton and chat about it on facebook.

I am evangelical about the mooncup, I admit. It changed my life. I have been plagued by heavy, painful periods since I was eleven. They have got progressively (exponentially?) worse as I’ve got older. I have had numerous incidents of unexpected bleeding and embarrassing leaking. I must have spend an absolute fortune on tampons and towels (they were still charging VAT on them until relatively recently, before realising they maybe weren’t a *luxury* product), many of which may well have ended up on Portobello beach.

So I spent about £20 on a mooncup. It arrived in a plain brown envelope, this was a while ago before it was so de rigeur. It sat in a drawer for some time. The first time I wore it, I didn’t put it in properly and it filled up so quickly that within a couple of hours, I was spongeing down my legs and my cream sofa. The first time I put it in properly, I hadn’t read the instructions fully and when I went to take it out I didn’t release the vacuum and almost removed my uterus. I worried a lot about it getting stuck/falling out. I have had incidents in toilets with no sink and a lot of gloopy blood and one ply of scratchy toilet paper left. I have merrily emptied it into a toilet that then didn’t flush. I have smelled it. I have purchased some milton sterilising tablets.

So I get it, I really do. But if one more person says to me, “But it’s so gross! I don’t want to have to deal with that/see all of that!” then I may have to punch them in the vagina that they don’t seem to realise they have.

If you menstruate, you menstruate. YOU BLEED FROM YOUR VAGINA EVERY MONTH. YOU CAN’T PRETEND YOU DON’T. So woman up, stop wasting your money and adding to landfill, and embrace the mooncup.

I’m telling you, it’s amazing.


So the referendum is this year. I’m going to vote yes. I’ve always thought that I would because it just always seemed right to me. People have said “Oh you can’t vote based on a gut feeling, you need the FACTS and the FIGURES and the INFORMATION,” to which I say, “it’s my vote and I’ll use it however the fuck I choose.” I don’t need to justify my decision.

However, I would like to be able to articulate why I feel the way I do, because “just …. because!” never really goes down that well in debate.  Also I think it’s really important to challenge yourself and call yourself out on things. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this and reading stuff and talking to people because just because I felt a way about things before, doesn’t mean I can just mosey on through life based on that. Things change.

And I still think it’s really, really important that we vote yes.

1. Social justice. Our country is in a bad way. Food poverty is at an all time high. The uptake at food banks is ridiculous. PEOPLE CANNOT AFFORD TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES. The benefits system is crippling the most vulnerable people in society. This is the society our Westminster governments have created and are maintaining.

2. I want my vote to count. Since I’ve been 18 I’ve voted in every single general and local election. Not a single vote has made any difference to who governs us from Westminster. Scotland did not vote for their current government.

3. No-one knows the future aka what is wrong with a bit of idealism? People keep asking for promises, guarantees, about independence. When are we ever guaranteed anything from anyone? How far into the future has any potential government made promises? How often have they been kept? No, we don’t know what our future holds. But we do know that if we vote yes, we will get a say in it. If we vote no, we won’t.

4. It’s not a vote for Alex Salmond – it shouldn’t matter whether you like him or not. Vote yes, and choose choice. Independence does not necessarily mean SNP! It mean you get to choose your next government.  It means your vote will count.

5. Environment.  Scotland has already made amazing progress in environmental issues.  Independence would offer us a say in how our society is built, how our economy is run, how our natural resources are managed and how our environment is protected.

6. Culture.  Scotland is rich in culture and has a proud history of cultural exchange. We don’t need to be led by a government we didn’t vote for to keep that.  In fact, our culture could thrive in an independent Scotland.  Just look at National Collective.   

7. NHS Scotland.  It’s good.  Let’s keep control of it and ensure its protection.

8. Immigration. It would be encouraged – there would be a more liberal policy, a policy voted for by the citizens of Scotland to best suit their needs.  This appeals to me

9. Project Fear.  The desperation of the No campaign has been spectacular from the start.  A campaign based on peddling fear and negativity fizzled out as the Yes campaign picked up momentum, and now David Cameron is making pathetic noises from London as if we’re a beleaguered spouse finally gathering the strength to pack our bags.  Instead of giving us good, positive reasons to stay in the Union, they just tell us how terrible things could be if we’re independent.  Well, they’re pretty bad now, guys.

10. The alternative. The alternative is how things are now, and that is just not good enough.  This cannot be as good as it gets – we do not need to settle for it.

Okay, I know I don’t have facts and figures and information, and I know I’ve got a way to go before I win the debating champs.  But here is my nutshell anyway:

I’m Scottish because of an accident of birth. I’m a citizen of Scotland through choice.  I want it to be the country it can be.  I believe we deserve better.  That’s why I’m voting yes.