#MeToo -Exposing the Reality of Life as a Woman

I noticed that Tim Westwood was trending on Twitter and looked into it a bit more. Numerous young black girls have spoken up about the attempted abuse, abuse and rape committed by him. I find it baffling that in 2020, people (mostly men) still say that women are making this stuff up. So I wanted to share some of my experiences as a woman and the things that have happened to me in my life.  I will say, that my experiences are nowhere near as horrible as some of the experiences other #MeToo survivors have been through, but I want to share them nonetheless.

I know there will be men (and probably even some women out there) who will try to justify these experiences by saying “lighten up” “it was just a joke” or “frigid bitch” because these are all things I have heard and been told before.

It started when I was 5. I was sat on the windowsill in the chippy whilst my dad was at the counter putting our order in. A man came in and sidled up to me and smiled, saying how pretty I was and asking what my name was. I stayed silent. He asked where I lived, which is when my dad turned out and asked the man what he was doing. The man ran away. When I’ve mentioned this in this past, specifically to men, they roll their eyes and just say “he probably thought you was lost and was trying to help” If that was the case, why did he run off? It still sends shivers down my spine when I think about what might have happened had my dad not turned around.

A few years later at Primary School, me and my friends were doing handstands against the fence. An old man approached us and got his penis out and urinated in front of us. He put his finger to his lips and said shh. I screamed and ran away. It was the first time I ever saw a penis and I was in school, a place I was meant to be and feel safe.

When I was 13 and waiting for the bus to school, a group of men drove past in a van and asked me to get my tits out. I was wearing my school uniform and already so uncomfortable and aware of my developing body. I wore an oversized hoody for about 3 weeks after, despite the weather being warm because I felt so scared of it happening again. When I’ve told people about this it’s often been seen as funny, as just men being men and I’ve been told to ignore it “cos it happens all the time” For starters, it shouldn’t be happening all the time and secondly, why is it ok for men to sexualise a 13 year old girl stood on her own at a bus stop? Just sit with that for a minute. A 13 year old child should not be seen as sexually attractive by anyone, ever.

The next scary thing happened when I was about 20, I used to work at Starbucks and as a Supervisor I had to get to work for 6am to count the safe and get the shop ready for opening. I’d noticed this guy staring at me on the bus a few times, but this one morning, he not only stared at me the whole bus journey, but then proceeded to follow me to work. I practically ran the last 100 yards and opened the door to the store as quickly as I could. I locked it and watched as he took a seat on a bench outside and stared into the shop. I locked myself in the office and sat near the phone. When my male colleague arrived and the man saw I wasn’t alone. He left.  Over the years, some people have said “well at least he didn’t hurt you” or “maybe he was concerned you were on your own” but those things don’t matter. If he was innocent, why didn’t he say something when I ran? Why stare at me and follow me? I felt so scared at his behaviour and felt people were disregarding what happened because he didn’t hurt me physically.

I’ve also had my arse, my vagina and my breasts groped by numerous men over the years, when I’ve been walking through a crowded bar to the toilet or waiting to be served at the bar. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been on public transport after a hard day at work, only for both sober and intoxicated men to sit next to me, force me into a conversation and make inappropriate comments. The few times I’ve felt strong enough to speak up and ask them to leave me alone, I’ve been called a frigid bitch, told to lighten up or told I’m “nothing special anyway” It happened a few months ago, not one person stepped forward and asked the man to leave me alone. It’s easier to stay quiet sometimes because if you speak up, you fear verbal or physical abuse. Again, just sit with that. As a woman, I feel the safer option is for me to allow a man to say inappropriate things about me and to me, and make me feel scared, than I do to speak up and ask him not to.

I have been spoken down to, belittled and undermined by men throughout my whole career. Some have made comments comments about my appearance that have made me feel really uncomfortable. I’ve also had women make comments about my appearance, because I have bright hair and tattoos. Tutting under their breath and shaking their heads, whispering the words “tacky” or “not suitable for work” sorry but my hair, tattoos and piercings don’t stop me from being good at my job and it doesn’t make me any less valid than you. I’ve also had people who have entered my industry at beginner level try to mansplain a job I have been doing for six years to me. I haven’t hired them again.

I’ve had friends who have been raped. Some have been to the police and some haven’t in fear of not being believed. Those who have gone to the police have been made to feel responsible for the attack with questions such as “what were you wearing?” “had you been drinking?” and “had you been flirting with them” How can people come forward when they’re instantly questioned what their role in the attack was? Making them feel like it was their fault in some way?

I know men suffer abuse from women, but I can only talk about my experience of what’s it’s been like as a woman. I still feel anxious when I’m walking home in the dark, clutching keys in my fist and hyperventilating.  I still feel worried when a drunk man gets on the tram and walks towards me. I still feel conscious wearing certain clothes because I don’t want men to make inappropriate comments, grab at me or talk to my breasts and not my face.

If it was your daughter would you be so quick to dismiss these actions made against them?


Little Britain vs White Chicks – Black Lives Matter

I am white and even I am tired of seeing everyone post about the difference between Little Britain and White Chicks. If you don’t see the difference and you’re “confused” about it then that’s on you and your white fragility coming into play. But for those who refuse to see there is a difference, let me break it down for you.

In 2016 Washington Post did an article that shows 100 times that white person has depicted a non-white person in film, often in “black face” The first film I want to bring to your attention, is one of the first films ever shown in the White House, that film? “The Birth of a Nation” from 1915. If you don’t know this film, I urge you to google it, but for those of you who “can’t be bOvVered Its all bollox, white and proud LOL” I’ll tell you that in it, white actors use “black face” to depict African Americans. In the film the black characters are referred to as “renegade negroes” who are portrayed to attack and rape white women. Throughout the whole film they’re played as animalistic, rape mobs who are a danger to white women, it might not surprise you that the Ku Klux Klan used this film for propaganda to perpetuate the “fear” of black people and help justify their lynching’s to achieve their goals of ethnic cleansing, with the goal of White being the superior race.

You might want to read about the lynching of Jesse Washington, so you can see how powerful WHITE men depicting black men as awfully negative and incorrect stereotypes , had an effect on 1916 America. Read what they did to him, look at the pictures (yes there are pictures) and just sit with that. Whilst you’re at it, read about the lynching of Emmet Till, a 14 year old boy in 1955. And just think that these two men were instantly seen as guilty, with little to no evidence because they were black.

There are others “The Conqueror” a film about Genghis Kahn was played by John Wayne, or how about Laurence Olivier playing Othello in “black face” in 1965. Not to mention the whole Minstrel movement, white men depicted in black face, which even spilled into TV shows as late as 1975.

Now just imagine for a second that you’re black, imagine looking at film and TV and seeing your race being depicted as either “the token black guy” a gang member, lazy, criminals, rapists, murderers or the butt of the joke. Imagine seeing that for most of your life. Imagine picking up the papers and seeing the difference in language used when the media talk about white people to how they talk about black people. Think of how these seemingly small and “confusing” things to you spill into every aspect of daily life for a black person.

White people have never been the oppressed race, they have never been painted as rapists and monsters and a danger to black women. Which is really ironic if you look at the raping and enslavement that white men did to “colonize” the modern world. That’s why “White Chicks” is different. Because white people haven’t had their race constantly ridiculed in cinema, we haven’t been attacked or lynched because a film depicted our race as something to fear.

When you watched “Little Britain” you probably laughed and thought it was innocent, but that’s you watching it. By saying it’s confusing and arguing its bollocks is once again silencing the voice of black people whose experience of it is VERY different from yours and perpetuating the belief that it’s ok for white people to continue to use their race in negative contexts and as the butt of the joke.

Don’t ask black people to justify their feelings to you or ague that it’s just a “joke” don’t share #BlackLivesMatter and then days later share the Little Britain vs White Chicks posts because all that does is show that YOUR enjoyment of it is more important than their experience of it. STOP EXPECTING BLACK PEOPLE TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU… If you’re feeling uncomfortable about any of this and don’t like me, then click the unfriend button. I’m too busy to take the trash out, do better.


The Testaments – A Review

I’ve always been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Since this was announced I have been desperate to read it. Fortunately my fiancé got it me for Christmas, but as I was working through the books reviewed below I only got round to it recently. As this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it, maybe skip this review and then come back when you have.

The Testaments

The Testaments is narrated by Aunt Lydia, which for me was such a good move by Atwood. The Testaments are provided by two girls Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy a young woman living in Canada. So from the get go there’s massive juxtaposition to the lives the two girls lead, though some very subtle similarities.

But as this develops and you realise that the two girls are connected, it enables them to use their unique differences to get them through tough times. However, by far, the best thing about this book is the amount we learn about Aunt Lydia, from her life pre-Gilead, to the days of first arriving there. Reading the plotting she weaves to bring down Gilead is so thrilling, and the interactions with the Commander make you hold your breath.

This was a page-turner (I finished it in two days) and well worth the wait, the only downside for me was the last chapter (I know it’s a small gripe to make) but I just don’t think I liked it being set so far in the future, with the authenticity of the testaments being doubted slightly. Other than that, a great read.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

Happy Reading.


Time’s Convert – A Review

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know how much I enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Although Time’s Convert isn’t strictly part of the trilogy, it’s part of the series and focuses primarily on Matthew’s son, Marcus and his fiance’s transition into becoming a vampire.

Time's Convert

It was great to read about the familiar characters again, and have a glimpse into what was going on in the lives of Matthew and Diana and their steps into parenthood. BUT as I mentioned above this was focusing mostly on Marcus and Phoebe. 

Once again, Deborah Harkness, did a great job of the flashbacks aspects of the book, when Marcus tells his story of his life before being made a vampire. This part of Marcus’ life was really well written and at times, quite emotive. You really can tell that Deborah has a passion for portraying history and historical events authentically.

We then learn about Marcus’ early days as a vampire and the years following. It was these latter years, after Matthew and Juliette kill off most of Marcus’ children that it started to all get a little too convoluted for me. I had the same issues with the latter part of the last book in the All Souls Trilogy, in the sense that things felt a little rushed and almost too easy.

Whilst aspects of Phoebe’s transition were interesting, I just felt that alot of it was kind of disappointing, and again, the last part of her transition was rushed and easy. What saved this book for me were the parts about Marcus’ past. Which thankfully, there are quite a few chapters of. 

Not a bad read, but not great.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Do you have an opinion completely different to mine? I’d love to hear it. Comment below with  your thoughts.

Happy reading.


A Room of One’s Own – A Review

Whilst I know it’s not strictly a book, this has to be considered one of the most infamous pieces of Woolf’s work. Based on two lectures Woolf delivered in 1928 it’s often noted as being an important feminist text, so I’ve been super intrigued to read this for a while and as it was free on the Kindle store at the time I figured why not.

A Room of One's Own VW

I read this underneath a palm tree on my holiday, so in a way, I didn’t miss the importance of how far women have come. I mean I doubt in Woolf’s time many women would have had enough money to book a holiday with their own money but I digress. In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf offers up the argument (both literal and figurative) of space for women within the world of literature, which at the time (and perhaps some would argue still is) dominated by men.

Simply put she puts forward the idea that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” she goes on to support this with facts that lead to questions, such as how was a woman supposed to have success when there were so many constraints against her. Not only financially but for lack of education, she even addresses lesbianism and the women who have written about it. You can’t deny that at the time she gave this lecture, the world was a very different place, yet here she was offering up so many relevant issues against women on a social level. 

It was thought provoking, insightful and a book I feel every feminist should read. Whether you agree with her sentiments completely or not, you must agree that she was raising the voice of women everywhere, especially those that didn’t have the privileges she had. I’d say Woolf is just as important to women’s rights as the suffragettes were. It also highlighted, that whilst we’ve come along way since Woolf’s time, there’s still a lot of suppression and decision making made by men about women. Not to mention the fact that there are still countries in the world that don’t allow women to vote and places in the world where female genital mutilation happens regularly. So it’s an important rousing read, even now all these years later.

Definitely an important piece of feminist literature that everyone should read at least once.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading!


Meet the Bookworm – Jay Harley

It’s been a while since there’s been a “Meet the Bookworm” feature on the blog, so it’s great to introduce you to Jay Harley, they come from Worcestershire and have offered up some great ideas with their answers. Say hello to Jay everyone! 🙂

Jay Harley

What age did you get into reading? I loved reading from 4 or 5 – I remember moving from my mum making up stories at bedtime to getting deep into books I couldn’t put down.

What’s the first book that really struck a chord with you and why? The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler kind of changed my life. I had already identified hard with George in The Famous Five, but – (without spoiling the ending!) Tyke was a revelation to me. There was also a TV version and it made a nice change from somewhat obsessively reading Roald Dahl books.

Do you have a favourite genre? I read and listen to a lot, so I love loads of different things. Anything gay, queer or trans wins for me, such as Rubyfruit Jungle and Stone Butch Blues. I really love when speculative fiction has something interesting to say; anything by Margaret Atwood or Becky Chambers, plus Nora Roberts’ Chronicle of the One series and Station Eleven. Genre is probably less important to me than relationships, and I love sad books, so anything by Willy Vlautin I can read over and over. I also love series, such as Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels (crime), Charlaine Harris’ True Blood (vampires), or Claire McGowan’s series (Irish crime) or a big, fat trilogy, such as The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen or The Folk of the Air by Holly Black.

Is there a fictional character or characters that you can relate to? I really related to Becky Chambers first book The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – not one specific character but the blend – and I’m really moved by the way she explores outsiders, across people from different species. I also really enjoyed Emma Jane Unsworth’s Adults, because it’s funny but also really delves into the nourishment we can gain from social interactions online, which are often dismissed as trivial by people who don’t understand them.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read and why? I strongly remember throwing Stephen King’s It across a room when I’d reached page one-thousand of about twelve-hundred. That’s how frustrated I was, but I did see how it ends across the movie franchises. I have OCD so I very often have to finish books even when I’m really not enjoying them. I took three run-ups to Kate Mosse’s Burning Chambers, but just couldn’t get into it. I did listen to all forty-six hours of the audiobook of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, which I enjoyed at first but went off about halfway through, because I just don’t know why even speculative fiction needs to be about the rape of young girls – can’t we imagine something else please?

What’s your favourite book to screen adaptation and why? I have a few actually, which is nice, because for decades I strongly disliked all adaptations except for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I worked in movies and TV for a long time, so books remain my hobby and my love, while for many years TV and film were ruined for me! But I saw Call Me By Your Name before I read the book and it was an almost transcendental experience – blew my mind, such a perfect reminiscence of young love. Soon after, I saw The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I’d been hotly anticipating as it is directed by Desiree Akhavan. This time I read the book first, was really impressed by the characterisation and I thought the adaptation was one of the cleverest I’ve ever seen – selective but so evocative. You can watch and read in either order and the book and the film really complement each other.

What was the last book you read? This week I have read Find Me by André Aciman, which is the follow-up to Call Me By Your Name. I didn’t like how it started and I wasn’t convinced by the ending but there is a lovely bit in the middle. I also read the Secret Barrister, which I found to be gendered in a really painful, stereotypical way, The Last Leaves Falling, which I also didn’t enjoy, but then I read Adults which was a blast.

What are you currently reading? At the moment I am finishing Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, which is one of the saddest, most wonderful books I’ve ever read. I’m listening to Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which seems excellent so far. I’ve been reading Ducks, Newburyport for a long time, because I’m not afraid of big books, but I am struggling to make time for it – it is an effort. Also, I’m reading Troll Hunting by Ginger Gorman. I read a lot of non-fiction, but it always feels a bit like homework, and novels are my first love.

If you could recommend just one book to everyone you ever met, which book would it be and why? It has to be Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. It is by far the saddest book I’ve ever read and definitely one of the very best. It’s also great for desert islands and global pandemics because it’s huge. I’ve recommended it a lot, with several disclaimers – it’s tough to tell people to read it when I know it will hurt them. Most importantly, I think it describes the most relatable character of all time, someone who is crippled by their childhood and experiences of love and unable to get past that. I hope no one has as hard a time as poor, darling Jude, but I think we all relate to that ache of self-blame or feeling unloved, despite evidence to the contrary.

And finally, if you were to write an autobiography of your own life what would you call it? Transient: Living out of the boot of a VW Golf – this is very clever wordplay because I’m trans and because I’ve never owned a home and worked all over the UK for years, living in cheap digs or sleeping in film unit trucks. At the moment I’m back at my poor mum’s house, although I now have a different VW.

I’d like to thank Jay for taking part, they certainly recommended some books I’m going to stick on my TBR list, if you’d like to be part of the “Meet the Bookworm” feature, please comment below.

Happy reading!



The Virgin Suicides – A Review

I’ve never seen the film, whenever this book is mentioned, people always mention the film or assume that as you’ve read the book then you must have seen the film. But I haven’t. 

The Virgin Suicides JE

I read this one on holiday, it’s been sat on my Kindle for some time and I got if for 99p. And I have to say I am thankful that I didn’t spend a lot on it. The book in itself is pretty easy reading, but it just lacked something for me.

I know Jeffrey wrote the story so that the suicides of the Lisbon girls would always remain a mystery and unknown. But it makes the whole read quite convoluted. And it’s a shame because there were character dynamics that could have been discovered more and made the book so much richer. It just left me kind of empty.

Is that what he wanted from us as readers? Did he want us to feel that same sense of emptiness and questions that will never be answered as the male protagonists? Because if he did, he certainly achieved that, so I commend him. But if the whole point was for us, as readers, to create our own ideas, then it completely missed the mark with me personally.

It served it’s purpose as a quick and easy beach read, but it’s not the most mind blowing book I’ve ever read.

Star Rating out of 5: 2.5

Is my opinion completely wrong? Do you love this book? If so, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Happy reading.


Norwegian Wood – A Review

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for quite a long time. I’m yet to read many books that have been translated from Japanese to English, but if this one was anything to go by I will certainly be reading more.

Norwegian Wood HM

After hearing The Beatles song of the same name,Toru Watanabe is overcome with nostalgia as he remembers his first best friend, his first girlfriend and his life as a student, and his unexpected meeting of another girl named Midori.

It’s hard to talk about the book without giving away too much, but there’s an almost ethereal quality to this, which really adds to the feelings of loss, regret and nostalgia, that I feel Haruki Marukami really wanted to get across. The characters are well written, interesting and all have an air of mystery about them, which means you’re never quite sure what they’re going to do.

I really did enjoy this book, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The first Japanese to English book I read was The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide but it didn’t blow me away and made me reluctant to want read anymore Japanese literature. However Haruki Marukami has made that change.

If you’ve read any of his other books and have any recommendations, please feel free to leave them below.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading.


My Name is Why – A Review

Lemn Sissay is without doubt one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. If you’re not familiar with him, google him, listen to him talk and you will know exactly what I mean. He’s a naturally poet and storey teller and can captivate an audience with his words and voice. 

My Name is Why LS

When Lemn Sissay was just a baby he was given up for temporary adoption by his birth mother and this book is all about his time in the Care system. Through a mix of actual reports and recollections, Lemn pulls together and tells the story of his life. It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get reading this book, because there’s a mixture of them. 

It’s a hard story to read, but not in the sense that it’s badly written, but more in the sense that it’s hard to believe that so many people who were meant to be providing an environment of understanding and nurturing, could be so blind. Some of the reports written about Lemn are quite upsetting, painting him to be problematic and uncooperative when in reality he was just hurting but struggled to vocalise it, be heard, taken seriously or understood.

I really don’t want to give away too much, but this is an important book to read. If you wish to have a better understanding of Lemn’s journey, and the journey of many other children in the care system, then this is an insightful read. But more than that, it’s a testament to strength of character, spirit and the magic of what can happen when someone is finally given a voice.

Definitely worth a read.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there who have read this and hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Happy reading.


All Souls Trilogy – The Book of Life (Book 3) – A Review

This is the final book in the trilogy and it was the one I took my time with the most, I’m sure all fellow bookworms out there can relate to the pain we feel when a good book series comes to an end. 

The Book of Life DH

After travelling back from 1590’s London, Diana and Matthew, now married, face bigger challenges than the Congregation and tracking down Ashmole 782, a disavowed son of Matthew’s by the name of Benjamin. A truly hellish creature who uses methods of torture to see if witches are capable of getting pregnant to a vampire. So not only do Diana and Matthew have to battle for their relationship, but their survival too.

As with all the books in the series, there’s a great mixture of the supernatural, science and history in the book. And plenty of drama to keep you interested, however the ONLY thing I felt was a bit of a let down was towards the end and the meeting with Diana and the congregation. In a bid to get inter-species marriage allowed and recognised. I felt that it was resolved far too easily, considering that a large chunk of the battle was to get people out of their antiquated mind set.

That being said, it did tie everything up nicely and I really did love the series. It was the first book in a long time that made me want to know what happened next, and really helped re-ignite my passion for reading.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

What did you think of the last book? Do you agree with my comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.

Happy reading.