Wednesday 25 July 2018

Bedtime Story 25/7/2018)

This story goes live on the day I finally have some bright colours added to my hair, having wanted pink and purple in it for a very long time!  So, I'm celebrating the fact with a special themed story...

When I Grow Up, I Want Rainbow Hair!

I can't wait to be a grown up,
And do anything I want.
I'll dye my hair rainbow colours,
With pink right at the front.

I want a tattoo of a mermaid
And a pair of funky boots.
I'll wear a glittery top hat
And a snazzy sequined suit.

When I'm grown up and I can choose,
I'll ride a motorbike.
I'll have a shiny helmet
And go wherever I like.

I'm going to wear nail varnish
That glows even in the dark.
And I'll wear trainers with lights that flash
Whilst I run round the park.

I'll go as crazy as I like
When I'm all grown up, I swear!
I'll have mad hair and wear the clothes
That make all the people stare.

Because being grown up
Can sometimes sound quite boring.
With jobs to do and bills to pay,
So I need some reassuring

That life won't be dull,
When I'm not a kid, anymore.
I need to make it fun,
Of that I'm very sure!

Grandad likes to say to me:
"Life's too short, you know!
So eat that cake, buy those shoes,
Go out and watch that show!"

That's why I never want
My life to become plain.
So when I'm grown up, I'll stand out,
And not just look the same.

Of course, it's what's inside
That really counts, I'm sure.
So people might wonder
What my strange look is for!

But I'll be happy, being me.
I really doubt I'll care!
I'll be a grown up, walking down the street,
With sparkling rainbow hair.


Wednesday 18 July 2018

Bedtime Story (18/7/2018)

This week, I've been thinking a lot about a close friend of mine who is unwell.  This story is dedicated to her - may she make a full recovery and be back to her fabulous self, soon!

Apologies for the lack of a podcast all July.  My throat is very sore and just not up to recording the stories.  Here's hoping the podcast will make a triumphant return in August.

Charlie's Hospital Stay

Charlie blew out a long huff of air, as she watched her mum packing a bag.  "Maybe they'll let me come home today?  I might not have to stay overnight?"  She suggested, holding Grimpy, her teddy bear, very close to her chest.

"Sweetheart, you heard the doctor at your appointment, last week," her mum replied, patiently.  You have to stay in hospital just one night, so they can keep an eye on you."

Charlie rolled her eyes.  "But it's not like they're cutting my leg off or anything!  I'm only having my tonsils out.  It's no big deal!"  Charlie's cheeks turned red as soon as she spoke the words - she knew she was lying.  Ever since the doctor had told her she had to have an operation to remove her tonsils, Charlie had barely slept, for worrying.  She had never stayed overnight in hospital before and she'd never had an operation!

"I promise you," her mum replied, breaking Charlie's thoughts, "it's not going to be too bad.  You'll be back home this time, tomorrow."

Charlie sighed and cuddled Grimpy even closer.

She didn't say a word all the way to the hospital.  She sat in the back of the car, watching trees, houses and shops pass by in a blur.  Her baby brother gurgled from his car seat.  Mum and Dad tried to chat from the front.  But Charlie stayed silent, lost in her own little world.

The hospital ward was bright and busy.  There were pictures of balloons painted on the walls and the little girl in the bed next to Charlie's waved, as she sat up, drawing pictures.  A friendly nurse came and put something called a "cannula" in Charlie's hand, which she said was going to help the doctors put medicine into Charlie, so she would fall asleep for her operation.  The nurse had to use a needle and Charlie jumped.  It stung!  But it didn't hurt for very long.

Everyone was talking around her, but Charlie was too nervous to join in.  Before long, a smiling man came over and told Charlie it was time to go to theatre.  Charlie sighed, wishing it was a theatre like the one Nan had taken her to at Christmas, to watch a pantomime.  But she knew that this theatre was where they performed operations.  Her stomach lurched as she lay back on a trolley bed and was pushed down the corridor.  Mum walked beside her, holding Charlie's hand.  Mum had Grimpy tucked safely under her arm.  She promised he'd be waiting for her when Charlie woke up.

Finally, they reached some doors Mum wasn't allowed to go through.  Mum gave Charlie a kiss on her forehead and as the doors closed, leaving Mum on the other side, Charlie took a long, shaky breath and tried not to cry.

A lady wearing a green hat and a matching green outfit, came over to say hello.  She was smiling and talking, whilst some other people fussed about, around her.  "We're going to put some special liquid into your hand, now," she told Charlie.  "It'll make you go to sleep, okay?"

Charlie's lower lip wobbled and she struggled to nod her head.  This was it - the moment she'd been dreading!

A strange, cold sensation flowed up Charlie's arm, as the lady injected a needle into the cannula in Charlie's hand.  She lay back and stared at the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep.  Her dad had told her to count to ten, but Charlie was so nervous, she was counting much quicker than usual and she was horrified when she reached ten and was still awake!  She wanted to open her mouth and shout, but she suddenly felt very strange and woozy.  Out of nowhere, she blinked once, twice and fell into the deepest sleep she had ever had.

When Charlie woke up, she was a bit confused.  There was a radio playing, somewhere, but it seemed ever so far away.  She was in a small room, with peachy-pink walls.  Her throat felt a bit sore and she felt very groggy, but other than that, she was fine.  She could hardly believe that the operation was over - it felt like only five minutes ago, she'd been counting to ten in her head!

"Oh, hello there!"  A man grinned.  "We've been waiting for you to wake up.  Your parents and your baby brother can't wait to see you."

Charlie frowned.  This definitely wasn't the ward she'd been on, before.  "Where am I?!"

"You're in Recovery," the man replied.  "This is where people come after their operations, just to wake up nice and slowly, whilst we keep an eye on you."  He smiled again.  "I'll take you back down to the ward, soon.  Everything looks okay."

Before long, the man was as good as his word.  The brightly lit ward came back into view as Charlie was wheeled down the corridor.  She saw the same little girl in the bed next to hers, no longer colouring anymore, but instead sitting up and talking to a lady that Charlie assumed was her mum.  And even better, Charlie's own parents were sitting, waiting for her.  Charlie's baby brother was smiling as he perched on Dad's knee.  To Charlie's amazement, there were two brightly coloured balloons tied to the little cupboard next to her bed, and Grimpy was sitting on top of the cupboard, next to a bubblegum pink, cuddly unicorn toy!

"You've been so brave," Mum explained, as Charlie gazed at the gifts.  "We wanted to get you to something nice to come back to."

"I love it all," Charlie beamed.  She picked up the unicorn and stroked its rainbow hair.  "I'm going to have to think of a name for this little one..."

"What about Beau?"  A voice piped up.

Charlie looked round.  The little girl in the bed next to hers was grinning over at her.  "I like the name Beau, because it sounds like the end of the word 'rainbow,' and that unicorn has really cool rainbow hair!"  She waved her hand.  "My name's Beth, by the way.  I broke my leg and I had to have an operation on it."  She pointed down to a plaster cast on her leg that Charlie hadn't even noticed, before.  "It was so gross," she laughed.  "The bone was starting to stick out and everything."

Charlie pulled a face, but she laughed, too.  "I'm Charlie," she said.  "And I like the name Beau!  Thanks for naming my unicorn!"

Soon, a lady in a stripy apron came over to Charlie's bed, with a big bowl of ice cream.  "Here you are," she told her.  "This will make your throat feel better."

Charlie couldn't believe it - first she'd gotten a cool new toy, then she'd made a funny new friend and now she had ice cream?!  Being in hospital suddenly wasn't so bad.

In fact, soon, Charlie was enjoying herself rather a lot, despite still feeling a bit tired and fuzzy from her operation.  She didn't even mind when Mum and Dad had to take baby Ben home.  They kissed her goodnight and asked if she was okay.  Charlie pointed to the little TV monitor by her bed.  "Beth's going to show me how to get cartoons on TV," she giggled.  "I get to wear headphones," she added, pointing to a pair.

That evening, Beth ate chicken pie and mashed potato for her tea, whilst Charlie had a few bites of a sandwich.  She wasn't feeling very hungry, but she was in a much happier mood than she'd been when she came into hospital, earlier that day.  After dinner, the girls chatted about school, their friends and what their favourite hobbies were.  It turned out that they both liked collecting shells from the beach and they didn't live very far away from one another!  Charlie thought it felt a little bit like a sleepover, albeit a slightly strange one, with nurses coming over to check their blood pressure throughout the night.

Beth showed Charlie the little shower room, where they could clean their teeth before bed.  She also introduced Charlie to another little girl called Sabrina, who was in the bed opposite Beth's.  Sabrina had bad asthma, and she showed Charlie how she had to take her inhalers.  She was nice, too.

When Charlie's eyes finally started to close, once again, she couldn't believe what a big day she'd had.  She'd been braver than she ever thought she could be, and now she'd realised that sometimes, even the big, scary things don't turn out to be half as bad as you imagine they will.

With the soft bleeping of hospital machines in her ears, Charlie drifted off to sleep, with her mind full of ice cream, friends and rainbow-haired unicorns...


Wednesday 11 July 2018

Bedtime Story (11/7/2018)

This story goes live an hour before England play in their first World Cup semi-final in almost 30 years.  What else could I write about?!

This story is dedicated to Gareth Southgate and the England team - whatever happens tonight, I'm so proud to support you! 

Apologies for the lack of podcast the last two weeks - I've had a terrible sore throat and not much of a voice, recently.  Hopefully it'll be back very soon!

Harry The Football Hero

Harry liked lots of things.  Cars, dinosaurs and chocolate spread on toast, to name a few.  But he loved one very special thing.  Harry loved football.

As soon as Harry got up in the morning, he wanted to kick a ball around in the garden.  He wanted to practise penalties when he was supposed to be getting ready for school.  And he had a football at his feet the very second he got onto the school playground at break time and lunch.

When Harry was supposed to be doing maths, he was usually planning the perfect pass, instead.  When his whole school gathered for assembly, Harry would close his eyes and imagine himself scoring the winning goal for England.  He wanted to be a footballer more than anything in the world.

Harry belonged to a football club.  Every Saturday, he practised with his teammates and hoped that maybe next time they played against another club, he'd be picked to play.  The trouble was, Harry was the youngest player and he always seemed to sit on the bench, waiting for his chance.  He was starting to think it was never going to happen.

This Saturday was no different.  Harry's team were playing a club from the next town down the road.  He was on the bench, digging his studs into the ground, fiddling with his football shirt and sighing loudly.

His team were losing one nil.  Harry wasn't very impressed.  He stared down at his hands.  In fact, he was looking so closely at his bitten nails, he didn't even notice the team's best striker slip and twist his ankle.  He barely spotted the club's coach dashing over, waving his hand at Harry.  Before Harry knew it, he was being ushered onto the pitch!

Harry jumped from side to side, trying to calm his nervous legs.  The ball was being passed between his team and it seemed to be getting closer and closer.  Harry could hardly breathe.  He found himself jogging backwards, watching the ball all the time as he got closer and closer to the other team's goal.  He knew someone would pass the ball to him soon and he knew exactly what had to happen.  Sure enough, soon the ball came flying towards him.  Harry didn't even think.  He caught the ball with his foot, quickly turned on the spot, shifted his feet and booted the ball as hard as he could in the direction of the goal.  He watched, his heart in his mouth, as it sailed past the goalkeeper and landed safely in the back of the net.  The crowd went wild, Harry's teammates came rushing over to hug and cheer him.  He couldn't believe it - he'd equalised!

"Ten minutes left," one of Harry's teammates whispered.  "We need another goal to win!"

Harry knew what he had to do.  He ran down the pitch, jumping carefully in front of one of the other team's players, nipping the ball out from under their feet.  He turned, keeping the ball close and ran as fast as he could, ducking and dodging the other team's players as they chased him, desperately trying to get the ball back.  Harry could see the goal getting closer and he darted around the other team's last defender, walloping the ball in the direction of the net.  

"GOAL!"  Harry's teammates were shrieking and jumping.  He'd done it!  They'd won!

The rest of the game passed by in a blur.  Harry's team carried him on their shoulders around the pitch, all of them shouting his name.  Harry was overjoyed!

That night, Harry lay in bed, exhausted, but with a wide smile on his face.  His mum came in to kiss him goodnight.  "I'm so proud of you," she told him.  "You should sleep well, tonight!  You've probably worn yourself out.  And have a lie-in tomorrow morning.  I think you've earned it."

Harry grinned, shaking his head.  "Oh, Mum," he smiled.  "I've got to practise!"  He closed his eyes.  Suddenly, he didn't think he'd be sitting on the bench too often, anymore.  

Harry still had a smile on his face as he drifted off into a wonderful dream about scoring the winning gold for England...


Saturday 7 July 2018

Arguing With Homophobes on Pride Day...

Homophobes are, as is turns out, much like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense:  walking around like regular people.  They don't know they're homophobes.

Today, as it's Pride Day and lots of members of the LGBTQ+ community (and their allies) are marching through London, many organisations have chosen to show their support.  M&S, The Royal Navy and The Royal British Legion to name a few.

I've spoken about Pride and about sexuality on this blog before, so I don't feel any great urge to repeat myself too much, but I've never said this, so I'll say it now:

Last year, I realised that sometimes, I find women attractive.  Sometimes, I like a woman in that way.  Sometimes, I find it very easy to imagine myself with a girlfriend.  I get girl crushes and they're exactly the same as my guy crushes.  What I realised last year, was that I wouldn't turn someone down, just because they weren't my usual preferred gender.  If I liked someone, their gender wouldn't necessarily have to be a factor.

I've not really put a label on it.  I guess if I really wanted to, I'd put myself as the "Q" in LGBTQ+.  But I don't feel any pressure to label myself.  I am what I am and sometimes, that means I think "she's hot" and sometimes I think "he's hot."  It's not a big deal.

So, this year, when I spotted the inevitable dissent from the homophobes of the world, my actions were the same as they always are.  I called them out on their ignorance.

Because that's what it is.  And this year, I've seen some fabulous examples of ignorance.  Behold, some of my personal favourites:

  • "I don't hate all gay people.  I just hate the whole LGBTQ+ community."
  • "The gay agenda is disgusting.  Why must they flaunt their sexuality?  Straight people don't."
  • "I will be complaining about this.  The Royal British Legion should not support Pride.  They should support ALL service men and women and their families."
  • "Pride is just virtue-signalling, political correctness gone mad.  Why SHOULD it exist?!"
  • "Indoctrinating children to believe being gay or transgender is okay is unreasonable."

Here's the thing: Straight people flaunt their sexuality all the time.  What was The Sun's Page 3 if not aimed at placating a straight dude's sexuality?  Have you ever seen a straight couple holding hands, or kissing in public?  I know I have.  I don't get my knickers twisted about their agenda.

Also, the whole "support ALL service men and women" comment goes against the "they should not support Pride" thing, rendering it one of the most wilfully stupid arguments I've seen all day.

And I've seen many.

The trouble is, I've made the mistake of trying to speak reasonably.  Trying to explain how horrific it is that a person's sexuality could be illegal.  That loving someone could be reason for you to be attacked, persecuted or made to feel so isolated that you consider taking your own life.  That love is love and that rising above all of that horrendous history (and for some LGBTQ+ people in other countries, it's not even history at all) is worthy of celebration and pride.

And I shouldn't have bothered.  Because I'm arguing with the wilfully deaf.  I'm talking to people who use the word "hate" freely and yet call you a "virtue signalling, SJW snowflake" when you highlight the fact that all they're doing is hating for hating's sake.

So, I've stopped.  

I haven't stopped supporting Pride, or being supportive of all my LGBTQ+ friends (or being comfortable in myself).  But I have stopped trying to speak reason to those for whom reason has long since been thrown out, in favour of hateful, often far-right rhetoric.

I haven't stopped believing that using religion as an excuse to pour scorn on gay people is abhorrent and that no God I will ever believe in could persecute a person just for who they love.  But I have stopped trying to make the indoctrinated see sense.

And you know what?  I feel better for it.

I'm not saying I won't speak out, where I see hateful words spat all over a computer screen, or where I see intolerance preached as though it has any place in our society.  But I will know when to shrug my shoulders and say "what a sad little life you must lead, if this is how hateful your views are," before walking away with my head held high.

Sometimes, that's the best thing to do - leave them to stew in their juices, posting far-right propaganda about how hating the entire LGBTQ+ community doesn't mean they're homophobic, as though that makes any sense...

I'm off to enjoy the sunshine and bite my nails off whilst watching the World Cup.  I'll leave the idiots to argue amongst themselves.

Happy Pride, everyone.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Bedtime Story (4/7/2018)

I may not be American, but how could I ignore the fact that this week's bedtime story goes live on 4th July?!  So, this story is dedicated to my American readers.

I'd Like To Be A Firework

I'd like to be a firework,
Fizzing through the sky.
Illuminating the darkness
Whenever I pass by.

I want to zoom into the stars,
bursting with energy.
I want to paint my colours
Onto people's memories.

I'd love to dance through the night,
Sparkling like the stars.
Leaving my troubles far behind,
In that dark, grey world of ours.

I'd sprinkle rainbow flashes
As I burst into the night,
Breaking up the darkness
With colour and with light.

I'd like to soar high in the air,
Effortless and free,
With glitter trails in my wake,
As far as I can see.

I want the crowd to gasp,
As I put on my show.
I want there to be no limit
To how far I can go.

I'd like to be a firework,
That's what I'd like to be.
But I'll sparkle and be colourful,
Even just being me.