Hell in a Handbasket: Thoughts on Order, Chaos and Control

Looking back, I’ve written a number of posts that take aim at the comments sections of online news articles. In the back of my mind, I know that the Internet is riddled with hate-spewing trolls, but I still find myself drawn to them. I guess I’m hoping for that one comment that falls under the banner of honest debate – the “Holy Grail” of comments. It can be quite fun poring through the randomness that is troll logic, but it’s also quite concerning that others will see the volume of troll posts and believe they represent a consensus; adopting their views rather than engaging with them.

When I shared a link to my John Lewis article on Twitter, a couple of fellow musicians replied. Within their short discussion, it was asserted that, when things change, people don’t feel in control; however, nobody has control – it’s just an illusion created by civilisation.

It’s funny how something as simple as a tweet can inspire complex thought. Do we really have no control over anything? Beyond our own absolute position in time and space, I don’t think so either.

Think about time in terms of order and chaos. The past, I believe, represents order. In computing terms, it’s like a file that lacks random write permissions: it can only be read from or appended to. The future, on the other hand, is chaos: a vast void of uncertainty. We have knowledge of the past to inform and help plan for this future based on probability but, morbid as it may seem, we are always aware that the future holds just one certainty: we will die at some point in the future; we just have no control over when. With this in mind, the future can be frightening.

This fear of death is not necessarily physical – one can fear a social death where inflexibility leads to irrelevance, invalidity and isolation. When non-trolls proclaim that the world’s going mad or the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, I believe what they are referring to specifically is a possible future with little to no precedent to base it on – a future they either can’t envisage or a worst case scenario. Going back briefly to the subject of gender, by replacing the long-held concept of a monochrome binary with a more colourful alternative, we are causing chaos in the form of incompatibilities with whatever we built upon it – hence the hostility over things like sports, bathrooms etc. Because we have no control over the future, those who lack the flexibility to adapt to it become defensive, fighting for their own social survival.

But remember: there are no guarantees. This worst case scenario could be one of a billion possible outcomes with equal probability. You can, however, address the incompatibilities and stack the odds in favour of a more acceptable outcome. How you do so is up to you: do you reject any responsibility and insist the other party just “deals with it”, or do you collaborate on a more inclusive solution?

The answer, I believe, lies in how far you’re willing to go outside of your comfort zone; to open a dialogue you cannot control with those you perceive as a threat? It’s a gamble, but life is full of gambles.

Every once in a while, a small bet on long odds leads to a big payout.

Weighing in on John Lewis “girls and boys” clothing range

One story that’s hit the news in the past few days is that John Lewis, a British retailer, has produced a line of gender-neutral clothes for children. I don’t shop at John Lewis myself, but full respect for the move: It’s a great reaction to the growing concerns that childrens’ fashions are still rooted in anachronistic stereotypes.

The reaction in both the press and on social media has been quite off-balance. With few exceptions, the reports I’ve read have a very noticeable lean towards the negative: The Mirror and the Huffington Post are the only reports I’ve seen with any kind of balance or neutrality.

Yes, there’s been a lot of “outrage”, “backlash” and calls for a “boycott”, but it looks to me like a complete over-reaction:

  1. There was no indication of a “median” reaction so it’s unclear what proportion of people reacted positively or neutrally.
  2. With some comments, it was doubtful they’d even read (or understood) the whole story, given how many believed this was a plot to put dresses on boys. All John Lewis did was remove the gendered stereotypes and produce a range of clothes that could be worn by both boys and girls. If there was no demand from parents, there would be no supply.
  3. There were some comments stating that this would cause mental health problems in the future. These are only predictions, not facts, and they didn’t come from people with a background in mental health or child psychology. The demand for childrens’ clothing without stereotypes is relatively new, so without any case studies, the future effects cannot be predicted with any kind of accuracy.
  4. Some of the comments published came from middle-aged people who are less likely to be buying clothes for children, but more likely to hold conservative views on gender.

I’ve also noticed some of the logical fallacies at play – I’ve loved learning about these. The examples are not real quotes, but they are based on common comments and tweets:

  • Appeal to Tradition: “we’ve had gendered clothing for years and it’s never done us any harm”. While that may be true, it does not imply that non-gendered clothing must be harmful.
  • Red Herring: “But there are children starving and North Korea might be trying to nuke us”. A distraction away from the topic of discussion into something less relevant.
  • Appeal to Common Sense: “It’s common sense that boys and girls are different, therefore they need different clothes”. Yes, they are different, but that doesn’t mean they’re polar opposites.
  • Appeal to Popularity: “The majority of people won’t buy this, so why bother?”. The majority of people live on land, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a profit selling house-boats.
  • Appeal to Fear: “If you put your son in these clothes, they’ll get bullied and picked on”. It’s also possible that they won’t.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears to me that all of this negative reaction is down to that last one: fear. More specifically, fear of change; I’ve seen this recurring in whatever social subject I research.

Change is inevitable: with every generation comes new technologies, new possibilities, new outlooks. Our children are both the workers and the customers of the future, so businesses look to them to keep pace with the competition and ensure their survival; that’s exactly what John Lewis has always done. The only way to stop change altogether is to stop everyone from having children!

This is not about giving into political correctness either because your freedom of choice remains unaffected. Billions of people worldwide have Facebook accounts, but nobody is forcing you to sign up for one; likewise, you still have a choice what you clothe your children in – nobody is saying you must buy only unisex clothing. If they retracted the line following the “outrage”, minimalising the offence caused to conservatives, that would be giving in to political correctness.

There are those who say you get more conservative and right-wing as you get older, but I can’t see that happening to me. I refuse to be one of those frightened old men, clinging on to nostalgia. Life experience gets you so far, but it doesn’t imply greater wisdom or superiority over younger people, nor does it provide an excuse to stop learning.

Children live in the now, and I think that should continue throughout your life. You can learn from the past, but you can’t live in it; you also can’t predict the future, but you can influence it.

Longing for the past or fearing the future only makes you miserable in the present.

Trying to see the real me

One of the reasons why I’ve been posting more gender-related posts over the past week is because I’ve been trying to figure out more about myself, and it’s been at the forefront of my brain a bit too much.

As I was growing up, from adolescence through to my early 20’s, I’ve been mocked or criticised for what others perceived as wrong, abnormal or unacceptable. I had no interest in sports, so was often criticised for poor-performance when school P.E. lessons forced me into playing football and rugby. The P.E. teacher even pulled me aside once and told me I must “put more effort in”.

A word often thrown at me during those years was sad. Not sad as in unhappy, but sad as in socially-inadequate or undesirable. This was 1995/96 – in the era of Oasis and Spice Girls, I was digging 70’s Prog Rock. I couldn’t help it: I just preferred music with a lot more substance so, to me, Oasis sounded boorish and lazy while the Spice Girls were mere plastic, mass-market pop. I liked Oasis a bit more around the Heathen Chemistry era (2002), but by then it was too late.

I was also not one for “going out”. I’d go to the cinema with a couple of friends, or to a concert, but that was about my limit. I certainly wasn’t going out every weekend to the places “people my age” went to – it just didn’t appeal to me, but I was made to feel like I was abnormal for thinking so. I was even told that “I wouldn’t meet anybody” if I didn’t go out. When I got home after meeting my now-wife for the very first time, my mom asked me how we’d met; I lied to avoid the “sad” stigma she applied to dating agencies.

I’ve also had two serious bouts of depression and anxiety within the past ten years:

The first time, the expectations of others was pulling me in opposite directions. My son had only just been born, and my wife was suffering with post-natal depression – while she was trying to cope with all that, I was thirty miles away at work, trying to leave my home life at the door, as was expected of me, and pushing myself to succeed. The extra money was very-much needed with an extra mouth to feed, but to get promoted required me to overcome my introversion and become more visible – as if introversion was something that could be cured or grown out of. The pressure got too much, and I just snapped.

The second time was similar too – significant pressure from work, and a home life that left little opportunity for “me time”. I felt like I was merely existing, and failing in my duties as a husband and employee. I was also having trouble sleeping with so much whooshing around my head every night. I was off work for several weeks, taking professional counselling with a more specific focus on self-esteem. It’s not easy undoing 30+ years of criticism, mocking, social-programming and bullying, but I’m trying to keep what I learned in mind.

That brings me to today. I’ve made significant progress in regards to my self-esteem and self-confidence over the past year, but I still feel as if I’m holding myself back.

One theory I have is that it has something to do with “identity”: I don’t want to take the easy route and conduct myself according to pre-packaged, or stereotypical, identities. I want to build my own, free from the confines of arbitrary characteristics such as my race, nationality, age and sex – I didn’t choose to be born in the late 70’s as a white, British male, and I don’t want to behave like one. When I walk out of the door, I want the world to see me in the analogue way my wife does, not the digital approximation that marketers or the media would say I am.

I’m also quite concerned about the obstacles I’ll face. While I’m trying to break my programming and ditch the inauthentic parts that came from social conditioning, I recognise that there are many who rely on, or are even protective of, these unwritten social norms. They’re like a comfort blanket that keeps the world clean and organised. I’d like to be very open about myself and who I am, but I get the impression that, if I do, I risk being seen as a threat rather than an individual: a threat to society, a threat to my family and even a threat to my children. I’m aware that such people will not be in a majority, and that there will be others who believe the complete opposite, but the fear of confrontation and the risk of damaging existing relationships is still very real.

A big part of me wants to say “bollocks to all that – just do it!”… but am I ready for the big reveal?

Ruffling Feathers

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Looks like I’ve ruffled a feather or two. Apparently, my wife’s grandmother is still going on about my denim skirt from last Sunday.

She’s concerned for the children.

She need not be worried: if you want to shock and confuse children these days, all you have to do is disconnect the router and give them a whole hour without the Internet!

We went down into the town centre earlier this afternoon. With the weather looking rather changeable, I opted for jeans rather than a jean-skirt. I made the right choice. No matter how confident I felt, I’m still in the early stages, and with town as busy as it was, I’d have had to stick very closely to my family. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable breaking off from the group to drop shopping bags back at the car.

There will come a time, but for now, I need to choose my battles wisely.

Captain Paranoia: Round Two… FIGHT!

While Captain Paranoia took a bit of a beating on Sunday, I’d knocked him down, but not out. I think I just made him mad.

Last night, my wife informed me that her nan had indeed reacted to my denim skirt. Later that afternoon, she was asking my in-laws questions like “was Simon wearing a skirt?“, “why?” and the ultimate doozy “well, what does [my wife] think?“. As I tried going to sleep last night, Captain Paranoia struck back. “See – I told you it was weird. You’re going to be the laughing stock of the family now. If I were you, I’d give up now while you still have some dignity left.”

I will admit I did feel a little delayed embarrassment, but that was just the Captain preparing the ring for battle. Seconds out… Round two!

Let’s look at the evidence. All of those questions were perfectly valid and there was no hint of malice within them. After all, she’s in her 80’s, not very net-savvy (if at all), and I’m likely the first man she’s seen in a skirt this far south of Scotland. She was being curious, and nothing more. She’d have gotten more comprehensive answers had she asked me those questions rather than my in-laws, but what can you do? However, by asking that final question, I don’t believe she knows just how awesome her granddaughter is.

But “why“? Beyond comfort and temperature control, was there a deeper reason? That was the worst question I could ask myself at that time of the night, but it was worth thinking about.

I suppose, at a very low level, I’m quite open-minded and curious – I’m not complacent with the knowledge I have and there’s always room for more. I read a lot of information on-line, I ask a lot of questions, I research the answers, and I draw my own conclusions. When I asked the question “why are men allowed to wear skirts in some countries but not in England?”, the top-level answer was obviously going to be “but we can – it’s not against the law”. That then leads to the question “well, if it’s not against the law, why don’t we?”, and the first answer to that is either “because we don’t” or “because nobody else does”.

I love those sorts of questions – the one’s that don’t tend to get asked out of pure complacency and acceptance. If you look at the historical evidence, men in England did indeed wear skirted garments in previous generations, but with the advent of the industrial age, trousers became the more practical option. As generations passed, trousers became the de facto standard for men, and the reasons behind their dominance steadily faded from memory. So what’s stopping us from re-thinking the concept of a men’s skirt in the information age? Well… nothing!

One of the obstacles in the way is, I believe, pessimism. When you have a decision to make, and you weigh up the pros-and-cons, do you start by listing the pros or the cons? Do you give a con a heavier weighting than a pro? I was certainly guilty of both of those things, and the Captain is still trying to keep me doing so, but you lose sight of the positive aspects.

For me, they are more practical and comfortable because they fit me better, they provide better ventilation in warm weather, and allow greater freedom of movement (which you need when picking up after a four year-old). It’s a boost to my confidence and self-esteem because it forces me to re-think the neurotic thoughts that remain in my head, allowing me to come further out of my shell. It makes an interesting alternative and, as such, is much more fun. And yes, I also believe they can look good – it’s all down to how you feel.

Besides, I’d already put so much thought into the matter, it would be a waste of energy not to. Can’t you tell? I’ve just written a four-paragraph answer to the question that would still be answered if I’d skipped the first three. So much for not over-thinking things!

But one thing’s for certain: you won’t win this round either, Captain.

Simon 1 – 0 Captain Paranoia

There is a follow-on story to the one I posted earlier this week. Late last Sunday, long after I’d shut down any attempts at going out-and-about in a kilt, my wife made a suggestion. She said I may be better-served by going for a skirt designed for women. Same purpose, just lighter material and no pleats. I will admit, I wasn’t sure.

Fast-forward to mid-week, after I’d disassembled and re-evaluated the problem, and I felt it was worth a try. After a bit of research, I felt the best first-step was with an A-line denim midi-skirt; it would have the same flare as a kilt, the same length and in a unisex fabric.

Four days later, one arrived on my doorstep. When my wife saw it for the first time, she commented that it looked a lot better than my kilts. I must admit, it felt a lot more casual than my kilts – closer to the skirts worn by men in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Besides, it has a zip and a button at the front so, considering it’s not marketed as “unisex”, it’s still rather convenient when nature calls.

With today being Mother’s Day here in the UK, we ventured out to visit my in-laws. They’re very easy-going, and had seen me in my kilts several times last year, so I knew it wouldn’t be an issue. When we arrived, my wife noticed that her nan’s car was parked outside. Just to paint a picture, she’s close to 88 years old, a regular church attendee (and former church warden) and lives in the Tory safe-seat of Sutton Coldfield. Her reaction was, contrary to expectation, minimal. My wife said she gave me a rather odd look, but I hadn’t noticed – I give my kids rather odd looks when they do strange things or spout random nonsense, but it’s just a sign that they’ve got a good imagination.

The only comment came from my four year-old niece, who said I looked “weird” in a skirt. I took that as a compliment – after all, our culture would not be what is is today without the weirdos and oddballs of the past to stir things up.

Where I take victory from this is the fact that I didn’t talk myself out of it at any point – and there were more than a few opportunities to do so. I feel real progress has been made, and a lot sooner than I’d thought. My wife set me a challenge to wear skirts every day when we go away for the weekend in a month’s time – with the penalty of “wimping out” being not going to a local pub that serves delicious rotisserie chicken.

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The Danger and Futility of Healing Through Religion

During my research for future posts, I came across a blog called “Healing from Cross-dressing“. It’s a blog run by, and with contributions from, former Cross-dressers who, through their Christian beliefs, have recanted their old ways and are now helping others to do so.

Before I begin, I’ll just say that if that’s what they believe, far be it from me to criticize. Their methods and motivation, on the other hand, I’m not too sure about.

Deuteronomy

Whenever I research such things, the book of Deuteronomy is an old chestnut that I see around a lot. Whenever a short-and-simple quotable is needed to demonise an entire demographic, this book is full of them. In this case, Verse 22:5 is the one most-cited:

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.

What I recall of Deuteronomy’s many laws can be split into two areas: ritual and moral. The ritual laws are there to constantly remind you of what’s ultimately important which, in the Christian faith, is obviously God. It’s the same as kissing Sanka’s lucky egg in Cool Runnings to remind them of why they were competing in the Olympics. The moral laws – murder, theft, assault and all that – are the ones that form our legal system today. If putting on a “woman’s cloak” was heinously immoral, it would have become illegal in most countries with a Christian majority but, as it stands, Cross-dressing is as illegal as other so-called “abominations” such as eating bacon, trimming your beard, eating with foreigners and being a shepherd.

The most detailed commentary I read of this passage – approached with significantly more emphasis on historical culture (let’s not forget the law was passed down to cultures many centuries and many miles distant from our own) – said this:

The danger of “cross-dressing,” according to the analysis followed here by Rashi and the Shulhan Arukh, is that it might allow men to enter women’s groups and women to enter men’s groups. In societies in which gender segregation was widely observed, this subterfuge was seen as a real danger.

Today the concern would be that men or women would sneak into the other gender’s locker rooms or bath rooms. Given that men and women in our society mix freely in other settings, it is hard to see how heterosexual adultery is a particular danger of what is called “cross dressing.”

Here, we see where the moral code applies- it doesn’t condemn the act of cross-dressing in itself, but the motivation for doing so. Women can go around wearing fake beards if they want to, as long as they don’t go to any stonings. Why? Because it’s written… that’s why!

Bit of Python – love it!

Addiction

Comparing Cross-dressing to a drug addiction seems a bit of a false analogy as it ignores the myriad of reasons some people cross-dress in the first place.

C10Ka6lXAAALeDaIf you’re an entertainer who regularly cross-dresses in public because it’s how you earn a living, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing you can do about it either – ask Brendan O’Carroll to relinquish his role as Mrs. Brown and I’m sure he’ll have a few choice words in response.

If cross-dressing is how you get your motor running, so to speak, you might be able to replace it with something else, but if it gets your partner’s motor running too, what’s the harm? Poking your nose into other people’s love life is a sure-fire way of getting said nose broken.

Seriously though: spread your search a bit wider, and you’ll find a significant number of cross-dressers who testify to having done so since they were very young. Children can be quite curious and fickle – for them to carry something with them throughout their life, it must really resonate with who they are. I discovered my love for music at a very young age – 4 or 5 – and I’ve not exactly grown out of it thirty years later. I’ve still got the first single I bought back in 1985.

I doubt anyone who has cross-dressed since their infancy is able to just switch it off and keep it switched off permanently. If you put the “addiction” in your brain yourself, you can remove it – if it was there to begin with, it’s there for life. It’s like if someone has a natural speaking voice in a higher register, you can’t exactly train them to defy their vocal cords and speak in deeper, “masculine” tones. Besides – why would you? Don’t answer that one, Brother Hyles.

Healing

I believe trying to “fix” someone through guilt and shame is rather dangerous in certain circumstances. In children, a little guilt and shame is needed to instil a sense of empathy, but it only works on behaviour they have control over. Making someone feel guilty for something they have no control of is going to have severe effects on their mental health. The stronger their efforts to abstain, the easier it becomes to relapse. The more they relapse, the worse they feel about themselves. The worse they feel about themselves, the less stable they become. Is it really worth the mental damage just because your interpretation of a single Bible verse condemns it?

It’s the same as trying to “cure” homosexuality: you may feel like you’re doing them a favour by cleansing their soul, but when the cleaning products you’re using are so abrasive, you end up scrubbing away a little piece of them each time.

If God made us all who we are and, as I’ve heard many transphobic pastors yell, God does not make mistakes, then what exactly are you trying to correct?

How can you be so certain that what you’re fixing should indeed be fixed, and that you’re the one to fix it?

Could it be that their higher purpose is to show you what you need to fix within yourself?

The Menswear Liberation Movement

I’ve written before about the progress of, and the resistance to, blurring gender lines – I’ve also written about how men’s fashion should be allowed to cross the same lines women’s fashion has in the past 50 years.

This has been an area I’ve been researching and learning more about – I’ve also been rather keen to embrace, albeit rather apprehensively. It’s quite encouraging to see free-thinking and creative men discarding the traditional notions of gendered clothing and developing their own individual styles, but for it to actually become less of a ‘taboo’, I believe there needs to be more inspiration coming from those whose business it is to inspire.

This would work…

I’m a member of a group on Facebook called “Men’s Fashion Freedom”. I don’t really need to tell you what it’s about – the clue’s in the name. The men in this group wear whatever they feel comfortable in, regardless of where in the clothes shop it’s come from. I’ve scanned through a lot of the historic posts, and the pictures its members have posted of themselves, and there there are a lot of practical and creative ideas flowing through the group, ranging from the simple to the extravagant, but everything works for the individual. They’re not chiselled catwalk models either – they cover all ages, all builds and all walks of life.

… considerably better than this

Switch to similarly-minded posts on Tumblr and Pinterest, and it’s a different picture. On here, I saw a lot of gender-blurring ideas that were coming off the catwalks – ideas that are, supposedly, where men’s fashion is heading. Not wanting to criticize their ideas, but Nuno Gama and Marc Jacobs aside, there were a fair few ideas that looked like costumes out of a Sci-Fi movie; think The Fifth Element meets The Hunger Games rather than the skirted tunics seen on Star Trek; all very well and good on the streets of Soho, but rather out-of-place in Sutton Coldfield unless you’re performing some Gilliam-esque street theatre.

For those who agree that menswear should be less restricted, I feel the fashion world is doing the cause more harm than good by presenting ideas that are too radical to be accepted by the general public; there needs to be many smaller challenges and short-term goals rather than looking too far ahead. Encouraging men to break into their pre-defined “masculine” programming and re-code it for themselves may take away those “traditional values” many still treasure, but it also allows us to bug-fix, reconfigure and optimise for our own architecture. (Sorry for the software engineering analogy)

Opening up a new market for men’s skirts and dresses needs a movement in order to be successful. A movement moves – it does not leap. Designers need to inspire, support and, most importantly, be patient; rules are best broken down one-at-a-time as opposed to broken all-at-once. To many people, seeing a man in a skirt is radical enough without being so bold in the design.

 

The Normality of Niqabs and Drag Queens

One of my friends shared a video on Facebook concerning reactions to an image that went viral. The image showed two people sitting on the Subway in New York: one of them a Muslim woman in a niqab, the other a drag queen. The video interviewed a small handful of New Yorkers to gain their reaction to the photo, and they all seemed rather blasé about it. They’d lived in New York long enough to know how diverse its citizens are, and this was nothing out of the ordinary.

what_liberals_wantThe video also showed the conservative reaction via a tweet that showed the picture with a heading of “This is the future that liberals want”. Can’t argue with that – two people sitting peacefully side-by-side on the Subway… who doesn’t want that?

Okay, I get the idea that they were stating that niqabs and drag queens would not be welcome in a conservative future. I can also understand why, to a certain degree, but am still confused as to how they can harp on about their freedoms whilst simultaneously protesting others. Why are they free to wear a crucifix around their neck if they want to, but the niqab should be banned even for those women who choose to wear it? I can see how a drag queen can confuse those who see the world in monochrome, but if they’re out having fun and harming nobody in the process, what’s the big issue?

Before anybody says “it’s not normal”, I’d argue that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to people – our collective diversity is both “normal” and “natural”. There are statistical likelihoods, but that is all. For example, I am one of less than 0.004% of Brits that bought Steven Wilson’s latest single – does that mean my behaviour is abnormal, or am I just expressing my taste in music? 90% of the UK population live outside of London – does that mean all Londoners are “weird”, or is it just a meaningless statistic?

Being part of a minority does not imply you’re some freak of nature – the fact that you can think independently shows just how natural you are

Besides, aren’t we all part of at least one statistical minority, and if so, why are some so intolerant of those minorities that they have to abuse or lobby against them?

UPDATE: I’ve just found out that the drag queen in the image goes by the name of Gilda Wabbit. When everything is so Disney or Dreamworks, it’s good to see some love for the old Looney Tunes classics!

Bowie or Barlow: Dealing with Ennui

This time last year, when I really started assessing who I was and what I wanted, it felt as if I was undergoing some sort of mid-life crisis at the age of 37. At the time, my job security was uncertain and was having to deal with a lot of extra pressure. I’ve not been writing much here in the past couple of weeks because that’s all coming back.

While I was spared from the cull, the role I moved into was not what I was expecting and, with my current objectives, I could do with having an extra brain and an extra pair of hands. I had a pre-assessment for an internal position in the Procurement department last week, which I think went pretty well, and I should know some time next week if I’ve made it through to the face-to-face interviews. A change of scenery and a fresh set of challenges and experiences would be good for me right now, so if I am invited for an interview, I want to put everything I can into it. (I was invited for an interview, but taking recent events into consideration, I felt moving roles at this time would not be a wise decision and so withdrew my application)

With the weather starting to warm up, I’m also looking forward to getting out of this winter slump. I’ve been in jeans most of the winter and I don’t find them all that comfortable, especially when you’re active. I feel so much more comfortable in looser clothing, so I’m looking forward to getting my kilts out once more.

I watched this video on LaylahTalks earlier this morning about blocking out negativity, and it did give me some food for thought. I recognise that there are still some things I over-think to extremes, particularly when they don’t conform to majority opinion, but once I actually go and do it they don’t turn out anywhere near as bad as I think. It just needs a little confidence and a bit of a reality check: I’m lucky to have the support I need.

It boils down to this question: Would you rather be a David Bowie or a Gary Barlow? Both are, without argument, successful musicians but the big difference being that Bowie was always breaking through the boundaries Barlow wouldn’t cross. Almost everything about him was chameleonic, yet always one step ahead of everybody else. He didn’t follow, he inspired. 

Let’s just say that, in my record collection, it’s Bowie 6 – 0 Barlow.