Writing Anxious Characters

I’m an extremely anxious person and I think that comes across in a lot of my writing. My protagonists are often anxious beings, because that’s the mindset I understand well enough to portray at the centre of a story.

I avoid using the words ‘anxious’ or ‘anxiety’ in my writing as much as possible, as I think they are all-encompassing and easy words to describe a much more complex physical and emotional reaction.

My stories are either in dream-like worlds, distorted realities or far-away dystopian futures, which hardly follow the much-repeated motto of “write what you know”. Despite what I can extrapolate from current governments, we’re not quite in a classically dystopian society just yet — so beyond dreaming, and living under Trump, I can’t say that I intimately know the settings I write about.

That’s why I tend to make my central characters anxious and neurotic people. If the situation isn’t familiar, then at least the subjects navigating it will be. As someone with a fairly serious anxiety disorder, I don’t make my characters quite as stricken as I am — as they actually need to be able to mobilise and get things done beyond reclusively working at home.

Their call to action is my call to action.

I think that anxiety in characters makes for a well-rounded, three-dimensional individual. The way I’m about to explain this — via a list of character flaws and strengths — will make it appear as though I use anxiety as a quick cheat-sheet for character development at the start of a novel. Which may well be the case. But I’d like to think that if anyone gets to do this, it would be a writer who could portray the feelings and sensations of the mental health issue accurately, through experience.

So here are the strengths and weaknesses of an anxious character:

Weaknesses

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Neurosis — This relates to over-thinking. My protagonists will often over-think a situation to the point that nothing practical is being done. The situation is well analysed, which helps provide exposition or potential solutions, but to what end? That’s why some of my secondary characters are the more get-up and go types.

Selfishness — Anxiety sufferers worst fear is being labelled as selfish. The truth is, from the outside perspective we often seem so. We’re inwardly thinking about other people all the time, but take very few practical steps because we assume that everyone is thinking about the world in this way. So, my protagonists often assume that those around them are thinking in the same way that they are, and therefore lead others down paths they wouldn’t normally go on.

Panic — My characters with anxiety will emotionally react first and think second. After they’ve thought, they’ll combine the logic with their original emotional response to create a positive, but it’s that original reaction that often lands them in trouble.

Weight of the World — Given that my protagonists are usually in a situation where there’s something wrong with their environment or the world they live in — that means there’s always something to be fixed. Through neurosis and selfish thinking, my anxious characters will take on more than they can handle before they decide to reach out for help, making the problem worse than it would’ve been had they worked as a team from the start.

Strengths

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Empathy — Many studies have linked anxiety disorders with a heightened sense of empathy. My protagonists feel for people, and notice when others’ emotions are declining or when they are suffering in silence. Asking how people are feeling is what gets people talking, and so the plot is pushed forward through little moments of empathy.

Analysis — Like an in-control neurosis. As long as my character has someone around them to keep them grounded, so they can use their anxiousness as a method of problem-solving, then this is definitely a positive. They’ll look at a situation from multiple angles and decide the best course of action.

Leadership — Anxious people make for great leaders of talented teams. Put an anxious person in a room full of people who simply want to follow, and the anxious person won’t do a good job. But, put an anxious person in charge of a group where each member has very specific talents, and they’ll co-ordinate that group to the best of its’ ability. Given that my secondary characters usually have specific talents, traits and skills — my analytical and introspective protagonists slot into natural, situational, leadership roles.

An Alarm Bell — Other than during dramatic second-act twists from the antagonists, my protagonists can usually tell when something is about to go wrong. Due to the constant analysis of their environment, they understand when they’re about to push something too far, or when danger is coming. With dramatic writing this leads to a lot of situations where my protagonists can go right to the edge without falling. At least this is the case earlier on in the narrative, sometimes you have to fall.

This isn’t to say that all of my protagonists are simply walking balls of anxiety who behave in these exact ways, with these exact traits, in everything I write. They have much more layered on top of them; Everything else that goes into well-rounded characterisation.

Anxiety typically acts as a base for my central characters because it’s the mindset I know. I’ve grown out of the habit of writing everything in first person present tense, as this pushes me to get across the emotions of a character via third person past tense. Which is a lot more challenging, but equally far more rewarding for the narrative as a whole, as well as for secondary characters who aren’t typically given the luxury of perspective.

I’d love to hear about the general make-up of protagonists in your written works. Do you write what you know situationally, and therefore not worry as much about the characters being so familiar? Or do you, like me, often put a small piece of yourself into each of your central characters? I’m extremely curious.

Best of luck to anyone writing this weekend. I know you can open that document and get some solid words down. Express those thoughts and feelings into words — you silver-minded devils you.


Today is Saturday, August 18th and there is some quality professional wrestling on tonight.

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Writing With Themes

I’m around 75% of the way through the first draft of my YA dystopian novel. I think I have around 25,000 words to go and things are really starting to ramp up for my fabricated teenagers. I’m up to the writing equivalent of the page-turner chapters; That final handful where the devil himself couldn’t bargain you into putting the book down.

Writing is re-writing, so it’s all far from over. I’ve done second drafts of some of the earlier chapters and so I’ll pick it up from there at the end of the month. This will be the third book I’ve written in a year, and this one has come about a lot faster. It could be because I’m writing YA this time, or third-person past tense — but I’d like to think that it’s due to my increased discipline. Maybe.

As I’m reflecting on the novel and the first draft, I’ve been looking back to the pages of notes that I originally scrawled out for this project. I’d love to post a picture, because they’re quite aesthetically pleasing (for me) — but I can’t find a section that doesn’t contain some major plot revelation or intense character detail.

The interesting part is a small box in the top right-hand corner of my page that contains a list of themes that I want to capture in the novel. I don’t know if other writers think that way, or whether they’re quite happy to let a story be a story, but as someone who’s spent more of his life analysing media than creating it, themes always dance around my focus.

I think both ways are “correct”, and I also think that the only incorrect way of writing is not writing.

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Some of my themes are typical of both YA and dystopian books. Friendship, coming-of-age and rebellion make up my YA themes — I think I’ve managed to hit two out of three well enough so that some fantasised reviewer would use those words in a write-up. Anxiety, government control and propaganda round out my dystopian themes, two of which are done in a fairly traditional way, with my method of presenting propaganda being a little different.

Then there’s a couple of other themes that are influenced by my own personal interests, experiences and recurring elements throughout anything I’ve ever written. In particular these are homelessness, activism and mental health. Three elements which I hope will serve to make my YA dystopian story a slightly more unique read.

It’s not really for me to decide if I’ve conveyed these themes, or done them the justice of scope and realism — but I’ve done my best in the initial draft and can only improve on the foundation I’ve laid for them.

As I’ve written each chapter I’ve thought about which of the themes are featured and how I can best develop that theme. This is on top of narrative and character development of course, I’m not just pushing them to the side in favour of a hypothetical pseudo-intellectual (me, basically me) looking at my work and saying:

“Well oh yes he conveyed that very well, and you really get a sense for both this and that in the later chapters. He writes as though he’s very passionate about X, and yet crippled by Y — 7/10.”

But it’s my themes that have kept me grounded, they’ve stopped me from going off on an improvised “jazz” tangent at least three times a week. If I come up with an idea for a scene that wasn’t in my original plot-outline, I ask myself if it serves to develop one of my themes. If it does then I go ahead and write it, and if it doesn’t then I let it slip away into the back of my mind — to eventually float into the ether of ideas that may reoccur on a later project.

If you’re a writer and you have a current WIP, I challenge you to look for the themes of your work. They’re definitely there — I doubt anyone has ever written anything that doesn’t have a single tangible theme. It could simply be love, death or good vs evil — or something more specific like totalitarianism, abstinence or Buddhism.

I just know that focusing on my themes has really helped me to write this novel. They’ve kept me grounded when I’ve wanted to stray somewhere that only served to have fun with one of the characters. Or when I’ve been lead by my mind to write a scene that would inevitably end up being deleted for lack of relevance; Of which I’ll probably still have many.

Let’s use the comment section on this post to talk themes — Yeah, let’s use the social element for once. I’d love to hear about the themes of your current WIP or a past work you’ve completed, as they’re a great way of providing insight about your narrative without giving away plot details and spoilers.

You can also tell me to shut up, (in the comments, please don’t call me to yell) and tell me that to focus on themes is unnecessarily pretentious, and that kind of thinking gets in the way of a good story — I’m no authority and I love to be criticised.

I almost wrote “punish me ;)” there — what’s wrong with me!?

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Today I’m starting a chapter that I’ve been looking forward to for some time, as I’m allowing myself to be surreal and explore a lot of dream imagery. I’ve written the rest of the novel by-the-numbers, but made sure to telegraph a plot device that would allow me one chapter of bizarre near-horror for my protagonists.

I wish I could elaborate — which I suppose the feeling of wanting to is driving me to finish this project so I can one day share it with the world. So I best get back to it. Have brilliant Friday’s, and be good to someone you don’t know while you’re out and about in this world.


Today is Friday, August 17th and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy has been delayed until November. Oh well.

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Enemy of the People?

51% of Republicans now think that the “news media is an enemy of the people”. This is a very dangerous opinion to hold and it’s all I can find myself thinking about this morning.

Nearly 350 news organisations published editorials today that defended the freedom of the press. Given the results of some recent polling, it appears as though now was the right time to do so. They blame Trump’s constant attacks on the “fake news media” as the reason for the mistrust, and I can’t deny that his mouth is the most likely cause.

Any rational person knows by now that Trump brands any story he doesn’t like as “fake news” — the facts don’t matter to him personally. Fox News Entertainment regularly pumps out opinion pieces and skewed statistics in favour of Trump, yet for some reason he never seems to brand these as “fake”.

I’m not saying that CNN and some other outlets aren’t guilty of putting an anti-Trump spin on things, but the danger lies with branding ALL negative Trump pieces as “fake news”. The facts, as best presented to us, don’t always support our personal bias, and we need to be okay with that.

For example, I know that Trump is currently polling well with the people who voted for him originally. I’ve seen some left-leaning news sources claim that it’s fallen, just because it’s dropped by an average of 2% over the last six months. Unbiased news outlets and individuals are saying that he’s just as popular, because he essentially is.

I also know that he’s just as unpopular with people who identify as Democrats as he has ever been; No change there. The “triggering” of the left via hard-right policy is what got Republicans to show up to the voting booths in the first place.

What’s interesting is that his approval rating among moderates and independents has steadily fallen over his presidency. The alarming thing for me is that when this is reported by an unbiased media outlet, its declared as “fake news”.

A democracy cannot exist without an informed electorate, and that means a variety of sources. Unless they did some Alex Jones-levels of stupidity, I would never call for Fox to be taken off the air. It’s providing a hard-conservative voice for people to listen to, and it’s their right if that’s the voice they want to hear.

Equally though, outlets that openly criticise Trump beyond what the facts (and the man himself) tell us — they also need to exist. Personally I prefer getting my news from a variety of outlets, so I don’t just become a vocal puppet for that particular organisation, but I know not everyone feels the same.

enemyofthepeople

When Trump says things like the “failing print media” and “failing cable news television” he’s absolutely right — those mediums are nowhere near as profitable as they were ten or twenty years ago. Only, journalism isn’t failing, it’s simply adapted to a new form. Trump just wants his voters to believe that the medium of “journalism” is dead.

Through advertisers and subscribers, strong and decent news outlets continue to exist online. Good journalism is being done every day, by good people who just want to present the events of the day, as accurately as possible, to the American people. The best journalists keep their personal bias out of articles, but if Trump says something offensive it’s their duty to report it.

The 51% of Republicans who go as far as to say that the news media is “the enemy of the people”, a phrase thrown around by President Trump no less — which the fact that they’re willing to parrot him on such an extreme opinion is terrifying in its own right — those Republicans probably couldn’t imagine a world without the news media.

Let me try and help you out — although I doubt you’re one of the people who’re reading my morning warm-up blogs.

If the news media is the “enemy of the people” that means ALL news media is. Therefore — in a world without news — you’d either be completely in the dark about what the government is doing, or you’d be listening to a government-sponsored voice. For the sake of hyperbole, lets say that Trump has appointed his “good friend” Alex Jones as the face of this tax-funded, daily news broadcast; Available on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.

alexjonesmad

“Good morning patriots! It’s another brilliant morning in these Great United States. The lizard-people journalists are no longer allowed to peddle you fake news and stuff. So now you good people can hear the voice of God directly! Beamed straight into your ears via government-owned satellites.”

“You may see on the twisted social-media that several people are dead in a mass-shooting — but don’t — you — believe — these — lies, okay? President Trump keeps a safe America, he keeps a better America — okay? Gun violence is a non-issue in this country and thanks to the banning of all private and publicly owned media companies we don’t — have — to — talk — about — it — anymore! Remember to visit the NRA website to renew your subscription today, before Obama can take — your — guns!”

“In real news, let me tell you how it is folks — I can not even express how well President Trump is doing, but God damn-it I’ll try. His approval rating is the highest in history, and wow — what a story. Everyone in this country has a job — okay? That’s the truth people, you can hear it now.”

“Now finally, the really important thing you have to know today folks is that if you hear someone talking — if you hear them so much as whisper that the words in this broadcast aren’t true — well I’m calling you to action right now patriots. I want you to take your rifle and shoot them in the street — shoot them where they mother-f***ing stand!”

“Have a great day America, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

A free press is a key element of a strong democracy, in my opinion. It’s how we receive the raw facts of what’s happening in the world, along with a variety of opinions. We then take this data into debates, discussions and conversations — in an attempt to make sense of the madness of it all. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest thing we have to complete free-will and choice in the delicate system of society.

Branding news media as “the enemy of the people”, means that 51% of Republicans — Around 17% of the country — would rather words like the above paragraphs were broadcast into our homes each day, instead of the freedom and choice to consume a variety of sources.

And that, my friends, is just one of the reasons I have anxiety dreams every night.


Today is Thursday, August 16th and I’m around 2-3 weeks away from finishing the first draft of my YA dystopian novel!


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Make a Woman Out of You

Mulan was one of the films that helped make the 1990s the best decade for Disney. It was a feminist piece that gave a different message to young people than the typical “be pretty and boys will like you” of older, female-lead Disney animated features. It was also a female-lead action movie that came before studios realised they could make a guaranteed profit from that genre; So it felt genuine.

It’s for that reason that I’m concerned about the live action Mulan. During the last few days more details have been revealed in regards to the Disney “reimagining” — and with just these few pieces of information, I’m concerned that the strength of a woman overcoming and outsmarting a man’s world has been lost.

Let me start by praising Disney for opting to cast Chinese and Chinese-American actors. At one point, a few years back, they weren’t going to — and casting people as the correct race should really be base-level common sense in this decade.

Cut to:

scarjo

So they can definitely have some points for doing the right thing as far as casting goes. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Scarlett Johansson auditioned for the role of Mulan, given her recent penchant to pursue roles meant for actors of different cultural backgrounds. Disclaimer: She probably didn’t — because she’s already crossed “Asian” off of her white-washing bucket-list.

The promotional photo of Liu Yifei as Mulan looks incredible, and I have no doubt that director Niki Caro will oversee a project that does the protagonist justice.

It was different news that made me feel uneasy, and that was the casting of the new antagonist. It will no longer be a Hun invader (a man), it’ll be a witch from somewhere else (a woman).

Part of the beauty of the original film is that wherever Mulan turns she sees men — men who’re trying to destroy things or destroy themselves. Her grandmother acts as a supportive, anarchic female figure, but the other women (her mother and the matchmaker) are as traditional as the men in the movie. If the villain of the piece is also a woman, I don’t know if the message will be as strong.

shanyu

Not only that, but making the villain a witch just feels so stereotypically Disney. Very little emphasis is placed on Shan Yu in the animated feature — sure he’s the threat, but he represents more than who he is as an individual. I can’t see them creating a witch character and not featuring her more prominently, as they can’t just rely on history to get over the severity of the conflict, they need to show (and tell) us about the magical element.

Most Disney stories about an “evil witch” character are just a way for the female protagonist to work out her mommy issues, which would obviously be horrible for Mulan’s narrative. My hope is that she’s the antithesis to what Mulan stands for, in that she says women shouldn’t be going to war — but honestly, that would be pretty rich coming from a woman who chose to study and learn a complex craft such as the magical arts.

Also announced for the film is “Mulan’s sister”, a character who does feature in some of the early Chinese versions of the legend. I’m hoping that she slots into the role that the grandma held; Someone who encourages her in spirit but is too old (or too young in this case) to do anything herself.

In this version of the story, Mulan loses the war and is forced to become a concubine. Instead of submitting, she gives her sister a suicide note to send to her fiancé and subsequently kills herself. Her sister is then captured, raped and killed before she can deliver the note.

Something tells me that Disney will pick and choose which elements of this story are included.

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If Mulan’s sister takes the ‘Mushu’ role of the film, and plays the sidekick who tags along, then this will be another way of moving the story away from one lone woman vs a world of men.

There’s a cynical part of me that’s wondering if they’ve had to change the entire plot of the film out of fear of it being transphobic. It’s not for me to say whether it is or not, but I can’t imagine that a woman dressing as a man in 5th century China would be considered as such. Especially as the character of Mulan herself isn’t trans — and more androgynous characters in film can only be a good thing, right?

But, in recent years, historical media texts have been criticised for men dressing as women, so for it not to play the other way has me wondering about the levels of sexism prevalent in trans issues. Which is a whole other, unrelated thing.

I’m still thinking and I just can’t come up with a logical reason for them shifting the plot so much that they need to incorporate such a majorly different antagonist. The Hun’s were people who did awful things and were eventually on the wrong side of history — like the Nazis or the alt-right — so surely they’re still fair game as villains?

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I’m glad that Disney have found a way to cast more women in the film, but ironically, by casting more women — it pulls focus from the primary female protagonist, thus ruining a “reimagining” of our generation’s early exposure to a feminist text.

It’s far too early to tell, but my worry is that the live action Mulan will be praised for its casting choices as far as race and gender are concerned — but the story won’t have the impact of the animated version. I mean, can it be as swift as the coursing river? Or have all the force of a great typhoon? Surely it won’t be as strong as a raging fire? But as we know very little so far, I can say it’s mysterious as the dark side of the moon.

I’ll close by saying that if Disney would work on original warrior-woman stories that aren’t based off a movie, that’s based off a play, that’s based off a poem — then maybe we wouldn’t be having all of these issues.


Today is Wednesday, August 15th and I’m sorry I did that bit with the song at the end there.


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Six Things We’ll Miss After Brexit

The following is a work of hyperbolic satirical fiction — I only believe that three (maybe four) of these things will actually happen.

It’s 2029 and Britain has been out of the EU for a decade. It didn’t exactly go according to plan, but when there’s not much of a plan in place — that’ll happen. Over the last ten years the UK has slowly severed ties with various branches of EU government, and the economy has gone down the toilet faster than a dead pet goldfish.

Who would’ve guessed that in an increasingly globalised community, it would be better to rally together instead of pull apart?

America were our hope for a strong and stable future, but they did a lot of mad and unexpected things. The UK’s only export last year, for example, was from their newly founded sweet shop industry — sorry — sweat shop industry — for an order of ten million Ivanka Trump 2028 bumper stickers.

1. Scotland

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After living through the first few years of the disastrous Brexit, during which poverty increased by 30% and “generalised death” increased by 170%, Scotland decided to hold another referendum for independence. The result was the biggest landslide victory in history for an uncorrupt democracy — with 97% voting to be free of the UK.

By 2025 Scotland were back in the EU. Europe, being the cheeky scamps they are, decided to give special treatment to Scotland, just to annoy the rest of the UK. Half-price energy imports and all-you-can eat bratwurst — that sort of thing.

Ireland have entered talks this year to reunify the country as one. With Catholics and Protestants doing everything they can to improve centuries of turmoil. One Catholic priest said:

“Well what’re the differences anyway? So they don’t have as many sacraments and their churches aren’t quite as shiny — we still all worship the same almighty. We definitely do — don’t we? Ah it doesn’t matter either way, they can worship Satan himself for all I care — nobody deserves to suffer through that Brexit s**te.”

2. Cheap and Easy Holidays

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Europe has been our off-shore neighbour for the last 9,000 years, ever since the collapse of Doggerland. Those Tardenoisian’s didn’t have the branding ability of modern man, so despite this being a physical “Brexit”, it was simply referred to by locals as “a shift in landmass based on the melting of glaciers, erosion and the ever-changing effects of continental drift — Ugg!”

For around 2% of those last 9,000 years, British people have enjoyed quick and easy holidays to mainland Europe. Well — no more! Now it’ll only be hassle-free if you can present a cash donation to Greece, which is currently going through its 5th financial crisis, but as it’s part of the EU it hasn’t descended into a dystopian hell-scape.

EasyJet had to rebrand as RuddyDifficultJet, and their flights now cost nearly three times as much — starting at £19.99. The majority of UK holidays now take place on British soil, with Brighton and Blackpool once again becoming coastal meccas. The good news is that thanks to climate change, Hartlepool can now enjoy thirty-five degree heat all year round.

3. Arts and Culture

There’s a theory about creativity and poor mental health going hand in hand. That those who suffer with depression, anxiety, PTSD etc. use art to express how they’re feeling in an attempt to heal. Well, there’s depression and then there’s Brexit Britain.

There’s a tipping point for mental anguish, after which you can no longer create. What happened to the musicians, filmmakers, writers, actors, artists, dancers and photographers? They all jumped into the North Sea in 2027. Most were attempting to swim to Scandinavia, but obviously most of them died. They were malnourished creatives, not athletes.

For a while, Britain decides that it’s doing okay without arts or culture — it means everyone left behind is focused on repairing the shattered economy and putting out all of the sudden wildfires. At least that’s how it is for the 7am-9pm workday. When you want to relax for two hours before bed, all you have left is the Slade back-catalogue and fifty Liam Gallagher solo albums. As you were x

4. Food

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Oh you love your food don’t you? I’ve seen you, with your Tesco meal-deals and corn-beef cutlets from Iceland. Well there’ll be none of that in Brexit Britain — No sir.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your food, because it’s strictly potatoes and other root-based vegetables from here on out. Scientists say that in twenty years it’ll be warm enough in the UK to grow tropical foods during the winter, but until then it’s going to be turnip stew, turnip meal-deals and turnip cutlets, from Iceland.

There was a man from Hemel Hempstead called Gary who started up a chicken farm in 2028, but it was overrun by starving citizens three months later. I’m told that Gary was delicious. Which reminds me, cannibalism in Brexit Britain increased by 7000% in just ten years. But that’s a skewed statistic, because it was only people in Middlesbrough partaking before we left the EU.

5. Premier League Football

The economy just couldn’t support the greatest football league on the planet. The FA and FIFA decided to move everything to mainland Europe, to keep as many international brands alive as possible. They simply tweaked the names slightly, to make them more marketable on the continent, teams now include:

  • Bayern Watford
  • Athletico Palace
  • FC Pool de Liver
  • Manchesteré Unité
  • Everton
  • Le Chelsea

6. Hope for a Better Tomorrow

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For a short while it looked as though there might be a Brexit backlash, right up until the hanging of Jeremy Corbyn in 2024, then everyone just sort of gave up and went home to cry into their remaining linens.

Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, and declared himself the “jolly brilliant dictator of this beautiful Britain” — he’s told the media that he “shan’t be up for election” for at least another couple of decades, “so stop asking and drink your bloody tea!!!”

Only 5% of people who voted for Breixt are still alive in 2029, and nobody can really remember what the whole thing was about — or why we did it in the first place. Everyone is worse off, and those who aren’t worse off are dead. The average British person in 2029 really envies the dead.

The one hope that the people have left is the theory that the British Isles might just sink into the Atlantic Ocean and be gone forever. This rumour, perpetuated by crackpot scientists and fringe revolutionaries, is what keeps the heart of Britain thumping — albeit on a life-support machine after a quadruple bypass.

And isn’t that just so wonderfully British; The thing keeping everyone alive is the promise of a cold, damp death.


Today is Tuesday, August 14th and I’m glad Disney haven’t white-washed the live-action Mulan.


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Tea for the Paperman

Alex “Boris” Johnson attempted to deflect questions from journalists yesterday by offering them a round of the nation’s favourite drink. No — it wasn’t Tizer — he emerged from his country home carrying a tea tray.

His attempt appeared to work, as now people seem to be discussing Johnson’s beverage brilliance, and not the fact that he made Islamophobic comments last week.

Take the title of this piece for example, it’s all about the tea. Tea gets clicks, tea gets reads — everyone loves tea, whereas very few people enjoy reading about religious prejudice.

I’m more disappointed in the journalists than in Boris himself. My entire life I’ve watched Boris do increasingly buffoonish things, in order to deflect from his deeply disturbing personal views and actions. He was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was Donald Trump.

Oh no — I’ve heard that if you say his name three times quickly he appears behind you.

I genuinely just looked over my shoulder after typing that — what’s wrong with me?

The journalists laughed and many accepted Boris’ gift of leaves and water. You see, most aren’t there to push for the hard answers, most just want something to write about in order to fill the pages of their paper — So Rupert Murdoch has something to masturbate over the next day.

As soon as Boris emerged with the tray in his “casual rugby-wear” and “sleepy-time summer shorts”, they knew they had their story. If we’re being honest, no self-respecting journalist would’ve been camped outside of Johnson’s house anyway.

Boris has figured out that he can deflect the kinds of journalists who would park themselves in front of his, presumably, three million pound home — by simply offering them everyday things, in brightly coloured containers.

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Let’s talk about his mug choice for a second, shall we? He certainly hasn’t said anything terrible in the last week that we should focus on. So let’s look at the mugs of tea, yeah?

Boris has himself here a classic muddle o’ mugs, but it’s so stereotypical that it looks to be that way by design.

I’ll preface this list by saying that they’ve obviously “stunt mugs” (as they’re known in the business); Mugs he keeps around for whenever he needs to appear normal. Nobody buys packs of mugs, except the upper-middle-classes and those who want to appear like the upper-middle-classes. Normal people just sort of collect a hodgepodge of mugs from gifts, souvenirs and maybe the odd hotel.

The Early 00s Cow-Print Mug — I believe this to be the first mug bought and added to the collection. Sometime around 2003 he decided that he’d need a group of
“normal looking” mugs, so he went out and bought the first mug he could find. The pattern is obviously at least ten years old, but the texture has not faded, thus proving that he does not use these mugs on a regular basis.

The Faux-Pottery Blue Floral Mug — It’s my belief that this mug is a part of his regular set of mugs, which he uses primarily to drink the tears of families who queue for food banks. Rees-Mogg hooks him up with a regular supply. He has, rather cleverly, realised that he can take one mug from the set and add it to his mug mix, as it won’t look overtly fanciful on its own.

The Cadbury’s Mini Egg Mug — The most politically motivated of all the mugs. This came from an Easter egg box, Easter being a Christian holiday, but one that has enough secular overtones to appease the entire nation. Normal, working class people buy Easter eggs — at least they did before the sugar tax. 45% of British households own this exact same mug, and Johnson is well aware.

The Sports Club Logo Mug — This one is tricky to make out. Boris should’ve made this mug merchandise from a football club shop. From either the team that was selected for him by the Conservative party, or one of the London ones. But its tucked away towards the back of the tray, and obscured from a clear camera shot, so I’m going to assume that it’s a rugby club mug, disguised as a football mug.

The Yellow Mug With Text — Absolutely impossible to read what this mug says. We can only speculate that it’s something along the lines of “don’t worry, be happy” or “live, laugh, love”. Maybe “take all of their money and hoard it, you delicious arse-hole” managed to sneak its way onto the tray; A Christmas gift from George Osbourne.

The Penguin Classics Mug — We can see it hidden-away at the back. The basic white girl of mugs; A staple to go with the basic white man of politics.

See, he has us sat here talking about mugs. The blonde boy-wonder has duped us once more! Here I am speculating on his hilariously obvious choice of mug, instead of re-hashing exactly why what he said about the burka was wrong.

I’m going to do that typical left-wing thing of “could you imagine if…” in regards to this, but it’s a fairly apt moment.

Could you imagine if Jeremy Corbyn responded to the anti-semitism within the Labour Party by offering everyone at the press conference a mug of tea? He wouldn’t be allowed back inside the House of Commons, and the press would drag him so far through the mud that he’d be removed as party leader.

What Boris did yesterday was patronising and served no purpose other than to deflect from the serious issues he’s facing right now. I’ll be clear on something; I don’t personally think he should resign over his Telegraph article. I’m not some angry individual who is gunning for his job based on righteous outrage. He’s done far worse things to the people of this country, via his party’s policy. If he’s to be removed, it should be for something else.

He should, however, apologise. He said something that wasn’t his place to comment on, and did it with the sort of derision that stirs up racial-hatred among readers of The Daily Mail or The Sun — who use snippets of The Telegraph to rile-up their base.

At the moment, he doesn’t want to be sorry, and can’t understand what he has done wrong. A man who isn’t humble, and who can’t admit when he’s made a mistake, is several months away from making a play for Prime Minister. To quote Boris himself; “This simply isn’t on chaps.”


Today is Monday, August 13th and thousands of people were playing Pokemon GO together in local parks on the weekend, and that was cool.


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Defamed, Denounced, Demonetised

We live in a time where public figures are defamed, denounced and demonetised for the things they do and say. One side calls this an appropriate response to people saying or doing something that is socially inappropriate, while the other calls it an attack on freedom of speech.

So, which is it?

James Gunn was fired by Disney for some distasteful jokes he made a decade ago. Alex “Boris” Johnson is currently being accused of islamophobia for making public islamophobic comments. And Alex Jones has been removed from many mainstream, public platforms for peddling lies and conspiracy in the form of legitimate news.

This morning — as I sipped on some cheap coffee, wondering where it all went wrong — I found myself thinking back to distasteful jokes I may have made to friends when I was younger, or even something that I’ve said in private more recently, that wouldn’t sound great if taken out of context.

I don’t think I’m prejudiced in any way, and if I don’t understand a perspective I tend to listen to that perspective before doing some research for myself. So I think I’m okay on that front. However, I do tend to make inappropriate jokes, but usually at the expense of politicians, rich celebrities or anyone else in a position of power; Punch up, never down.

Then I realised something; I’m not currently trying to make a studio movie, hold political office or run a factual news outlet. The examples I gave, along with 99% of the people who’re publicly shamed on social media, are usually trying to hold a position of perceived power or desired status. If James Gunn, Boris Johnson and Alex Jones were sat at home, saying the same things and not trying to make money or gain status from their opinions — nobody would bat a solitary eyelid.

This means that — in my opinion — they still have freedom of speech. Our leaders and spokespeople should be held to a higher standard, as they have the power to influence others; Especially children, and people who’ve unfortunately had a lack of education.

If a teacher acts inappropriately in school, then you suspend or fire that teacher, but if a student misbehaves then you give them detention. That’s because the actions of the teacher effect the whole class, whereas the actions of the child would typically only effect themselves.

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My favourite element of idealised free-market capitalism is the power to “vote with your wallet”; The ability to dictate the shape and landscape of society based on who or what you give your money to. In modern living this could also mean time, patronage, or even your own vocal opinion of that person.

If the majority of the public voice is “we don’t like what you’re saying” then that person will be dragged through the social media mud before losing their job, and potentially their status.

Although, there are those who specifically love to support people who’ve been publicly shamed for saying terrible things, but that’s another beast entirely.

Let’s take Alex Jones for example. He’s someone who still has his website and news show, on which he can say whatever he wants (as long as he’s prepared for defamation and libel lawsuits). He has been removed from speaking these things via privately owned companies. His freedom of speech has not been infringed upon, the market has simply said, “No — You can’t make money from us anymore”, and the majority of people have agreed.

As a side-note, I think that Alex Jones could make all of his problems go away if he started each show with the disclaimer:

“The following is a work of fiction, any and all people you see on this show are characters. This show is not to be believed as it’s not properly researched and each segment is shoddily designed to peddle you another useless product. This is not a news program and you should not use InfoWars as a source of information, any more than you would use a toaster as a source of the concept of righteousness.”

I’ve seen Alex Jones fans defend his show as “It’s not real and if you believe that s**t, then shame on you.” But the fact is that people do believe that s**t, and that s**t is dangerous if believed.

Anyway, my point is that Alex Jones can still attempt to make money from his brand of conspiracy news via his own channels, but if the market eventually decides to no longer monitise him in that way, then he can’t claim an “attack on freedom of speech” — he’s just bad at making money correctly.

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Let’s look at Boris Johnson, who recently said that Muslim women in burkas look like “letter boxes” or “bank robbers”. He has refused to apologise for his comments, doubling-down on his Islamophobia. Now, I understand that burkas are a misogynistic tool designed to suppress and control women, but neither Boris Johnson or myself are Muslim, so it’s not up to us to decide when that particular revolution comes about.

The majority of muslim women have some excellent opinions on the use of burkas in their faith, and those are the people who should be listened to — Not chubby little Eton boys who never managed to attain their fathers love, or hold an erection for more than ninety seconds without being in a shower.

See, that’s punching up.

My point is that if Boris was just some guy at the pub, who made those same comments, then people would laugh nervously before directing the conversation somewhere else. Johnson, however, is Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, who is looking to make a bid for Prime Minister in the coming months and years. If public opinion says his comments aren’t okay, then guess what? We don’t have to keep him in a position of power.

But who will be left to be in positions of status and power if we all say bad things from time to time? Well, it’ll be made up of those like James Gunn, who actually apologise for what they’ve said, instead of deflecting the problem back onto anyone else. It’ll also be made up of those from younger generations, who’ve been taught that their actions and words have consequences.

As soon as James Gunn’s ability to make independent movies, Alex Jones’ right to a personal website or Boris Johnson’s right to have private opinions — are infringed upon, then we’ll have a bigger issue. As that hasn’t happened yet — we don’t. The “free” market and democracy are simply doing their thing.

Now if you’ll allow me to be intentionally flippant to close:

Alex Jones, Boris Johnson; famed conservatives — does this mean you hate capitalism and democracy?


Today is Saturday, August 11th and I’ve nearly been in America for a whole year.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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