Sunday, 25 June 2017

A love letter to Storyhouse

This may come as no secret to those who knows me in real life, or to those who follow me on social media, but I am just a little bit love with Chester's Storyhouse. OK, a lot.in love, and I don't throw that word around lightly. That's usually only reserved for my very nearest and dearest, a cold glass of pinot grigio. Oh and Tom Hardy, obviously.

It's just that my feelings for Storyhouse go beyond being just a crush, or a brief encounter, much like my flirtation with a gym membership did,.I'm not going to turn my back on it if the plush red carpet fades, or if the furniture that looks like it belongs in a luxury hotel get's a little bit grubby.

Now, we might not always get along all the time, we nearly fell out as I navigated the website one evening, and when I felt like I might develop claustrophobia stood in the Queue of one of the smaller ladies loos! Getting through little bumps in the road like that, are the sign of a good relationship though.

So Storyhouse, thanks for coming into my life. I love thee. Here's why.

 1. You came along at just the right time

We have no culture! We need a cinema they said, we need a theatre, they said. We're losing people to Manchester and Liverpool! I know, things were starting to get a bit manic.....

So what happened? Well you came along and gave them exactly what they wanted. A £37 million pound investment in our beautiful city. A 100 seat cinema, showing the big hits as well as smaller independent films. A theatre sitting up to 800, a restaurant and bar, and wrapping it's arms lovingly around the whole building, is the library.
You gave us everything we needed and more, all in one space. All by redeveloping one of the city's most iconic buildings. The 1930's art deco, Odeon building.

Thanks Storyhouse.


Merging the old, with the new.


2. I can read, and eat, and drink wine....all in one place and nobody will judge me!

Storyhouse has genuinely become one of my favourite places to spend a couple of free hours of an afternoon. I can change my book, read a newspaper and grab a coffee. Or a wine, if it's at a reasonable time in the day of course *cough* I can order a bite to eat and take a seat to settle in and read for as long as I wish. You also never know who is going to be there, I've had a coffee listening to live music, and read a book whilst watching children excitedly dressing up in Alice in Wonderland costumes, it's a real hub of activity.

If it's peace and quiet you want, then you can sit upstairs in one of the quieter reading areas in Storyhouse. .


No disapproving looks if you drink wine in a library! Not that I've tried.....

3. You like Kids!

Kids are welcome, kids feel welcome and as a parent? That's a big deal.

Firstly the kids library, it's a joy to enter with it's bright colours, it's decorative items and the comfy window seats. You don't feel you have to hush them every five seconds through fear of disapproving tuts and stares They have their own small theatre space where story time, and music time takes place, They can so arts and crafts here, dressing up, puppets I've seen it all.

My 10 year old feels like she can walk around the building, interact, look at books and feel's as if this is much her library as much as the adults, I love that.

Best of all Under 12's go free! All children can experience the joy of theatre as they are free under 12 (with accompanying paying adult) Whilst some may, and do take advantage (an entire row of loud schoolchildren sat behind me at one show) You can't deny it makes theatre accessible to all, and listening to the children laughing and clapping and gasping along to Shakespeare? Whats not to love about that.


No parenting with hushed whispers needed here at Storyhouse!


4. You can take classes.

Storyhouse also offers a wide range of classes suitable for all ages and open to everyone. From sewing club, to creative writing and scrabble club. Sessions to help those looking into their family history, work club - which is free to anyone unemployed, to give them the skills they need to look for work. And an online basics class, a reading group for the visually impaired. Hey, there was at one point a Beyonce dance class! Yes really.



5 The Library won't mind if you talk

I think this has to be the most controversial part of Storyhouse. The library.
Now some HATE the fact that you can actually speak in a library. Personally? I love it. I love feeling like I can walk around and not feel like I'm in a museum with a squeaky shoe. Some people hate this and need peace and quiet, for this there are the reading rooms upstairs, and lots of nooks and cranny's you can hide away in. If you really need absolute peace and quiet to read you could you know, always take the book home, That's kinda the point of the library anyway right?


Quieter reading areas.


6. It's open until 10 pm

Why do we need a library open until 10 pm I've heard people moan. Well, why not?
People can pop in after work, and not everyone's work finishes at 5 pm! They can use the library, or grab a bite to eat before the cinema or theatre. Parents waiting to pick up kids from town/parties can do so without mindlessly wandering around Tesco buying £35 of stuff you didn't really need in order to not pay for parking, we've all done this!.
You can grab a drink in there, Students can study.

I've seen the building abuzz with activity, yes even after 7pm.




Open for good times, even past 8 pm.


7. There's always someone around

Not following you around to make sure you don't slip a book under your jumper, or sneak popcorn into the cinema...which is actually fine to do btw. These are the fabulous Storyhouse helpers.
Wherever you look, from the lobby to the library, and the theatre spaces. If you need any help to navigate the building, the bookshelves, or to check out or return a book, they'll be right behind you. In a totally helpful and non creepy way as I've made it sound.


8. They like a Tweet.

If your on Twitter give them a follow, They are not only are pretty hot at tweeting about whats coming up. they are also good getting back to you with any complaints or queries.
They also have a sense of humour. A must in any good relationship.

Ahh Storyhouse, you smooth talker.

9. They cater for all tastes.

Chester wanted a theatre, they got a theatre. Ahhhh but is it bringing the shows that we see in Manchester and Liverpool? (It's always Liverpool and Manchester)
Yes, Yes it is.
Blood Brothers, Footloose, Spamalot. Along Shakespeare, The Beggars Opera, comedy and children's favourites such as Alice in Wonderland, There is something for absolutely everyone.to watch at Storyhouse.


10, But they don't sell pints.

And if that's the worst part of this relationship Storyhouse? You and me will be just fine.

Here's to a long and happy future Storyhouse

Cheers!




Find out what's going on at Storyhouse here https://www.storyhouse.com/

Pictures with thanks from Rob Jeffries, mrsrachelokelly, Storyhouse and The Chester Blog 


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Monday, 12 June 2017

Dear Theresa May

*contains swearing
Dear Theresa,

Well, you went and fucked that one up didn't you?
It's been four days since the election now - which on reflection didn't quite go the way you expected did it? And look I'll be honest, it's all getting a bit awkward now.

It feels a bit like being at a party you know you really weren't invited to, but you went along anyway. Then refuse to leave when you've got a bit drunk and shouty and start saying thing's like "Let's call another election" and "Shall we run through a field of wheat" .
At some point surely you've got to say to yourself I made the wrong call here, throw your hands up and say "This shit's all your's now Boris"
But not you T! Oh no, instead you decide to cosy up to a bunch of anti abortion, anti LGBT, climate change denying people like the DUP, in a desperate attempt to cling on to Number 10. If that's not a power trip, I don't know what is.

I mean The 'Conservative Unionist Negotiation Team' that just rolls off the tongue doesn't it. What could possibly go wrong?
What on earth did her Majesty say when you went to see her? Did she not just roll her eyes and say "Oh for fucks Theresa are you having a laugh now? Philip come in here and listen to what she want's to do now"

Bloody hell. You must really, REALLY want to be able to go fox hunting with your recently purchased ivory riding whip and mess around with the education and NHS.
 I won't get started on your cuts to police and defence.
Look, I'm not saying Corbyn has all the answers here, but I do know this. If you were at my party? I'd be the one who put's my hand on your elbow and call's you a cab

Go home Theresa, you're drunk.

Rachel 



"ITheresa I don't care HOW strong and steady you say you are he won't let you bring a cone of chips in the back of his cab"
*originally a facebook post to the group Theresa May's leaving drinks


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Friday, 19 May 2017

The 10 Rules Of A Mums Book Club.


"For a book club to be successful, thrive and grow, it is important that certain rules and standards for behaviour are adhered to. Take some time when starting a book club to sit down and draw up a list of rules and standards of behaviour which all starting members agree upon. 
Make sure that everyone is agreed on what is acceptable behaviour within the club" Actual rules there on how to run a book club from The Reading Club. 



Gulp. So Book Clubs have rules and regulations that are all sensible and stuff? Who knew!
Well here are the rules and regulations from our book club. Every Thursday 8 pm.

1. You bring along the book obviously.

2. You also bring wine and chilli heatwave Doritos as this is a proper classy book club.




Wine, Doritos and cats! What's not to love about our book club?


3. You lie to the (only) other member about reading a couple of chapters each night before bed like a normal person, and don't admit that you actually binged read it whilst steadfastly ignoring all housework and jobs that needed doing on your only day off this week.

4. You both finish your first glass of wine and pour another.

5. You are meant to start talking about the themes within the book but get distracted with talk of playground gossip.

6. Realise half a bottle of wine is gone and decide now is a good time to crack open the Doritos. Someone feeds one to the dog. That'll be fun later.

7. Start looking online for what you will read next week but get distracted by social media.

8. Start stalking someone you once met on holiday in 1997 and absolutely S*** yourself when you relaise after 3/4 of a bottle of wine you've liked a post form 64 weeks ago.

9. Get shushed by the husband as he's trying to watch TV and your both laughing so loudly he can't hear. Send dog into living room as punishment.

10. Dog farts. Husband asks what the "Bloody hell has he been eating" The wines all gone and you both vow next that week? You'll take book club a bit more seriously.

(but you both know you won't)

THIS WEEK'S BOOK WAS:



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Lost Boy Review

The Lost Boy is the latest production from Theatre in the Quarter. 2 years in development the play emerged from work done by musical director Matt Baker with local schools.  A play for today’s troubled times, The Lost Boy , acted by a cast of 4 professional actors and a community chorus tackles the topical issue of the worldwide refugee crisis, as well the response to the 2016 EU referendum. Tuesday’s press night began with a chance to meet the creative team as well as some real life refugee’s whose stories were the inspiration for the play. Jeff Morgan of City of Sanctuary was also in attendance, noting the historical attitudes towards refugees, pondering if they have changed over the centuries and also looking for the facts behind alarmist headlines about refugees.  Review by Rachel O Kelly :
Last night, I was invited by 'that' popular Chester based Twitter account, to attend a theatre production in the beautiful St Mary’s Centre in Chester.
Now, I have to be honest here, it’s not somewhere I had ever been to before and when I stumbled across the building I had to ask myself why? And made a promise to myself to make sure I visit again, and again.
Not only is the former church impressive from the outside, it also feels as if you’re stepping back in time as you walk through the pretty cobbled streets leading up to it. Once inside, the size of the church although impressive with its high ornate ceilings and gothic architecture, didn’t feel overwhelming or imposing. It still felt like a comfortable, inviting and intimate space, and I can see why it is so popular with theatre and musical productions both large and small.
The play was the latest production by Theatre in the Quarter 'The Lost Boy', written by Stephanie Dale, and directed by Kate McGregor. It is an emotional and thought provoking piece of theatre highlighting the current refugee crisis, and it kept me awake thinking about it long after I went to bed.
Telling the tale of Karem, a teenage boy who finds himself fleeing his home in war torn Syria. Leaving behind everything and everyone he knew and loved to be free, and to be safe. Karem is played by Andrei Costin whose performance was simply spell bounding, and whose voice simply blew the audience away.
Through Karem we hear stories of other children in similar circumstances, and what we hear and see on stage are their true first hand, personal accounts. These were their stories and their experiences, and Theatre in the Quarter worked closely alongside the charity City of Sanctuary to deliver them.
Producer Jo McLeish had said earlier in the evening at the Q&A that proceeded the show, that one of the aims of the play was to “show the human behind the headlines” and The Lost Boy most certainly delivers.
Karem is first seen hiding on the beach injured and starving, in a small, close knit fishing town that I feel I’ve been to on holiday many times before. He is discovered by grumpy teenager Maddie who is excellently portrayed by Jill McAusland, I honestly believed every eye roll, foot stamp and exasperated sigh! As well as every shoulder slump, fear of saying the wrong thing, nervous bundle of energy that was her Mum. And to every Mum of a teenage daughter I’m sure, achingly identifiable and played by Victoria Brazier.
We see that the town is in its decline. The cinema has closed down and the theatre. Jobs are scarce, money is tight and people are worried. They are desperately holding on to the past ‘the way things were’ with the rotary club meetings and the swift pint afterwards. The Christmas lights switch on and annual choir performance, and no one more so than Maddie’s Dad Frank, with a very strong performance by Jonathan Markwood.
I felt his desperation and his frustration not only his words, but he carried them with every step he took on stage. We could see felt like a failure, he had lost not one but two jobs and neither by any true fault of his own. He had a family he wanted to provide for, to look after and he simply couldn’t. When that happens it makes you afraid, it makes you feel worthless and that makes you angry and bitter, and Frank encompassed all those things.

boy6
Our Town. Pic by Mark Carline


I veered from feeling desperately sorry for him, to feeling uncomfortable and angry with his words. The blame for the town’s decline was placed firmly on the shoulders of refugees. “Coming over here taking our jobs” “Invading us” Frank cries in a march with his band of angry villagers holding placards, chanting and cheering alongside him. As if it’s almost safer, stronger to be angry about all of those things together, they don’t feel so alone in their fears.
But his fear, his unwillingness to listen, to learn and be open finally alienates himself from his wife and daughter and he finds himself alone, leaving his home and his family.  Like Karem, leaving behind those he loved and wanted to protect.
Despite Claire and Maddie being unsure at first, tentative, a little afraid. They learn about Karem, they listen to his story, they look beyond the dirty clothes, the desperation and see who he was before. I think sometimes we are all guilty of not doing this, myself included. When I open a newspaper and see the pictures of refugees in Calais, and Syria am I always really looking at the people? The individuals that find themselves there? And no, it’s not by choice, don’t listen to the crap you overhear on the Bus.

Do you? I know I don’t, not always.
That needs to change, and what the Lost Boy is trying to do is to try and change the opinion of a Frank and one of his rotary club mates. It wants to spark a conversation, a debate. It wants to challenge opinion, to open our eyes and as Jo said to show us the human behind the headline.
It achieves all those things and more in the most beautiful way. I honestly don’t think there was a dry eye in our row at the end of the show.
I have to say beyond the main cast, I could not take my eye off each and every other member of the Theatre in the Quarter team. From the choir, the young children running around, the protesters and the musicians. Each and every one played their part with such conviction, what a team.
 boy5
With thanks to Matt Baker and Erin Elston, Theatre in the Quarter and reviewer Rachel O Kelly.
The Lost Boy runs until 7th May. Tickets  can be found here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/creativemarys

Monday, 10 April 2017

The 10 Stages of a Family Trip To Ikea


1. Preperation.

You tell yourselves you'll make a list beforehand, taking down each items product code so you can go straight through to the warehouse and not get distracted in the Marketplace.
You'll leave the kids at home, and go one evening after work. Hey it'll be nice to get out just the two of you! You laugh when your husband suggests all you'll come back with is "Candles and shit"

2. The Journey.

Childcare has fallen through so you make the first mortal mistake of going at the weekend.
You're desperately trying to convince yourselves that it "Won't be that bad" but you both know deep down it will be. It will be just as bad as you remember.

Halfway through the journey you both realise that one of you the husband  has forgotten the list of things you needed and all the product codes. You try to log in to the Ikea website on your phone but have no wifi Consider throwing phone out of window. You have the first row of 547 rows that married couples have during a trip to Ikea.

Your 10 year old looks at you with disgust when you suggest her playing in the Ikea soft play.

3. The Car Park.

Point out several perfectly good car parking spaces which your husband obviously ignores. He decides he's going to park "A bit closer to the entrance" You helpfully remind him that it's Ikea, you know on a Saturday and there won't be any but hey, he knows best.
He clearly doesn't because there ARE no spaces. The ones you pointed out? Have now all been taken by husbands who actually listen to their wives.
Drive around the car park 48 times. Want to punch husband in the face.




Ikea. Causing marital rows since 1987

4. The Doors of Doom

You've parked up and you walk through the sliding doors into self assembly hell.
It's rammed with couples who look like they want to kill each other because A} they have been made to come to Ikea on a Saturday or B} Because they couldn't find a parking space either.
Children are either strapped inside a trolley they're too big for OR running around dangerously close to baskets of glasses and kitchenware.

You tell yourselves it's going to be a bit like a shop raid. In and Out as fast as you can, you won't stop for meatballs or a hot dog.

5. The Cafe.

You decide food is needed for fuel. And that fuel is hotdogs and meatballs.
You try and find a table whilst your husband orders the food and attempts to keep an eye on your child who has disappeared into the abyss of the drinks machine.
He clearly isn't doing a good job of keeping an eye on here as you spot her mixing about three fizzy drinks together, so that'll be something to enjoy later when the buzz has worn off.

Finding a table is worse than finding a parking space and uou tut loudly at people who have finished but are still sat chatting. Putting off the inevitable doom like you probably.....
You hover as close to a family who look like they are about to leave and try not to look like you are trying to rob their handbag.
After 11 minutes smugly sitting at your empty table for 4, ignoring other peoples tuts at doing so you spot your husband and daughter sat at a table eating their meatballs and hotdogs.

#fml


6. The Showroom

You're pretty sure they design the showroom as some sort of maze to stop you leaving. Because after you've done one lap of it, you find yourselves at the beginning again and no where near the exit.
You see lots of inspirational, clever space saving and storage solutions and realise your house lacks all of them. You decide you need them all, they will make your house more organised and therefore your LIFE more organised.
Ikea has given you a bit of a spiritual awakening to be honest, your husband is just shaking his head at you a lot, muttering about how much all this is going to cost (hardly anything it's all so cheap you say) and shutting the draws that your child keeps opening to look inside.

7. The Marketplace.

It's designed basically to make you buy stuff you don't need, but it's cheap so you find yourselves falling for it. You fall for all of it.
The first thing to go in your trolley are candles obviously, then picture frames and candle holders. Basically all the shit your husband said you were going to buy. By the time you've got to the glassware, that looks like it's been stacked to actively encourage small children to knock them on the floor, you've forgotten everything you went in there for.
You take one of those pencils and pieces of paper to note down all the clever storage solutions you are buying.

8. The Self Service Furniture Area.


You are trying to help navigate the trolley your child is insisting  they push, but actually can't because it's too heavy. At this point you are too drained to argue, the trolley is overflowing with crap that even you know you didn't need. Everything keeps falling out and you keep putting it back in, you want to punch yourself in the face and wish you'd ordered all this shit online.
You are trying to be helpful by shouting out the product codes and aisle numbers to your husband for the stuff you have no idea how your going to get home. Your husband then proceeds to not find any of them.
When he finally does, you've wandered off to the sale area and wonder if you need a sideboard with a massive scratch down the side?  When you spot the other half sweating and dragging flat pack furniture behind him looking a bit cross, you decide not to ask.

9. The Till

You argue over which till to use, then pick one that obviously is going to keep you there until closing. You also keep picking up random crap dotted around, as if you are appearing on Supermarket Sweep.
The tilling process in Ikea is more stressful than Aldi any day. You try to make sure your husband packs everything properly and doesn't smash all the glassware you didn't need into the trolley.

You ask your husband if you should get this delivered, he say's it will easily fit in the car. You think it won't. You quietly row about this under your breaths, with fake smiles on your face  until the cashier looks a bit uncomfortable.

This little trip to Ikea for a few essential bits and pieces has cost £323.95 and obviously you haven't got any of the 48 blue Ikea bags with you from home.

10, The Return Journey.

After you have navigated your way to the car, and your child has attempted to steer the trolley directly into oncoming traffic. You both look at the boot and then the trolley, and then you panic.
Your husband tries to cram everything in, using every available space.

Flat pack furniture is dangerously close to your child's head on the back seat and when you helpfully suggest home delivery again he mutters the F""" word a lot under his breath. You decide to pop to the loo and  just leave him to it.

When you return 30 minutes later as you get distracted by diam bars, he's gone.

Several sweary phonecalls later you find out that he's driven around to the exit to collect you.
You drive home  in silence, apart from your child whose fizzy drink buzz is still strong and bouncing off the car roof. Well,  if her head could reach the car roof that is. It is currently pinned to the window by a shelving unit.

You decide not to mention the fact you have now found the Ikea shopping list, and have come away without  at least 80 per cent of it.

Maybe another trip next week?











Wednesday, 22 March 2017

5 Disney Princesses Who Could Have Done With Some Relationship Advice


I loved Disney films growing up, and not going to lie, I still do.
However, as a Mum to a real tom boy I don’t get to watch the Disney Princess films very often, apart from Tangled that is. That's the the only 'Princess' film my daughter will get on board with. I mean a Princess that runs around barefoot and doesn't like to have her hair brushed? Who doesn't need a man to save her, and will knock you the hell out with a frying pan if needed? 

Yup, that's my kind of heroine too.


Rapunzel. She's ain't no damsel in distress. 

So, I therefore may have to watch some of those Disney Princess films all by myself, and if you could possibly imagine me doing this in a way that does not make me look in the least bit sad? That'd be great.

I used to love all of the classics, especially The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. But nowadays, as much as I still enjoy them and the magic and pure schmaltz that a Disney film brings. I also find I get a bit, well, judgy when it comes to the girl's relationship choices.

You see if I were the Mum of a Disney Princess? Well I’d be having some serious words.
Not that many of them have Mum’s do they? Not real ones anyway. Walt Disney seemed to have a real issue with the ‘Mother’ figure, they either appear to be dead, an inanimate object such as a teapot or just plain evil.

So, in honour of Mother’s Day here are 5 Disney Princesses who really could have done with some relationship advice from their good old Mum!

1 Ariel – The Little Mermaid.

Ariel, you have just turned sixteen. You still like playing with your friends and collecting things. OK perhaps they aren’t the sort of things I collected as a 16-year-old. Like rubbers, scrunchies and body shop lip balm. No, you collect ‘artefacts’ like forks, bottle openers and “oozits and wotists” galore.

So bearing this in mind, do you really think you are ready to fall in love and run off with the first man you meet? You have never even spoken to this Eric person due to him being UNCONCIOUS when you saw him! Are you really going to pursue true love based on just his looks? He might be a completely sexist pig who leaves his clothes all over the floor.

Are you prepared to never see your family again, to sacrifice a possible career as a singer ‘under the sea’ and completely change your physical appearance just for him?

Oh. You are.






2. Belle – Beauty and the Beast.

Ah Belle, I see so much of myself in you, I too was a bookworm, seen as a bit of a daydreamer. A real Daddies girl.

You possess some wonderful qualities that make me so proud. You are feisty, and brave. You stand up for what you believe in. You saw straight through Gastons misogynistic advances, whereas your counterparts would have simply married a man they first met (Yes Aurora, Ariel, Cinderella etc I'm looking at you)

You want more than that, more than what you consider a ‘provincial life’ Which is amazing, a bit sneery perhaps. When I was growing up our ‘provincial town’ didn’t even have a post office. You had a Bakers, a book store and a pub so you should count yourself lucky really.

But, for someone who yearned for far off places and sought adventure, you ended up shacked up just down the road. With a man who has essentially made you his prisoner. That’s hardly what you had your heart set on is it Belle, why settle?
Now while  I agree you really shouldn’t have gone around poking your nose in other people’s homes, especially when you were a guest, and they expressly told you not to. T
hat does not excuse ‘Beasts’ quite frankly abusive behaviour. 

He shouts at you, smashes furniture, he’s controlling. He needs anger management Belle, not a wife.

I am worried about you and think you should seek professional advice from a counsellor. I think you may be suffering with something called Stockholm syndrome.

Get out Belle. You deserve better.





3. Snow White – Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

I feel for you Snow White, losing both parents at a young age and having to be raised by a Step Mother. A woman so consumed with jealously over your beauty that she wanted you dead. I mean you’re going to have issues.

But I have to ask you something Snow. Why so stupid?

As a young teenage runaway what part of shacking up with not one, but SEVEN strange men in a wood, did you think was a good idea? You cook for them, clean, wash their clothes, essentially kept as some sort of slave.

To be honest it was a bit like watching Taken in parts, except Liam Neesons role went to the Step Mother “I have a particular set of skills. I will find you and I will kill you” And she did. 
OK, her set of skills was less arm to arm combat and more fancy dress, but she got to her target just like he did. She just used a poison apple instead of a gun.

And after eating the poisoned apple and falling into a deep sleep, and being kept in a GLASS coffin by the seven strange small men, which is in NO way creepy. You decide to marry the guy that likes to kiss dead girls in coffins!!

FFS Snow, sort it out.



And then she marries him, obviously.



4. Cinderella.

After the death of your Father, you spent your teenage years cooking, cleaning and sewing for your Step Mother and Step Sisters. Now, as far a Step Mothers go in Disney at least she didn’t want you dead. Just as an unpaid housekeeper. 
The fact that you seem OK with this change in circumstances is worrying, and say's something about your self esteem. As if it is perfectly normal to go from sleeping in a bed and eating around a table to sleeping in the cinders of a kitchen fire, and sharing cheese with the mice. 

I'm here to tell you Cinders, it isn’t. It really isn’t.

Living each day like this, it’s really no wonder you want a break from reality, and an evening at the ball. Being driven by a pumpkin turned carriage thanks to your Fairy God Mother it's certainly that!

So, what do you do with this rare night of freedom? Chat, dance, make friends? Get shit faced on sambucca and fall over in a hedge? Oh no.

You fall in love with the first man you meet!  

He comes looking for you to propose, as you do after one dance with someone. A romantic gesture slightly marred by the fact he doesn’t recognise you when you’re not dressed up, only when the shoe fits! So obviously, you accept.
What are you thinking Cinderella? Don’t you want to see what else is out there for you?

I just hope you haven’t swopped cooking and cleaning for your Step Mother, to cooking, cleaning and being a housewife for the Prince.


Meet Prince bloody Charming.



5 Ana- Frozen.

Poor Ana, you certainly haven’t had it easy have you? Having your big Sister give you a brain injury whilst playing. Beig healed by trolls and therefore having all your childhood memories wiped away.
Losing your sister because your parents decide to lock her away in her room, and then who die in a terrible storm. Which is what happens to most Disney parents to be honest.

So, after many years of what seriously looks like a case of neglect. Having to fend for yourself in an almost empty castle, devoid of any parental roles. It’s no wonder that when Elsa ‘opens the gates’ and throws a party you latch onto the first guy you meet.

Not going to lie though Ana, I feel as much of a cold hearted little ice maiden your Sister is – no pun intended. You could have spent more of that evening, talking to her and listening to her. Rather than dancing and singing with a guy called Hans you’ve just met and then agreeing you MARRY him.

It's no wonder your Sister goes cray and runs off.

After the drama of searching for your sister with an ice salesman and a singing snowman, and the heartache of finding out Hans was in fact a con man. Did you decide to have a bit of 'you' time, connect with your Sister?

LOL.NO! 

You start a relationship with Kristoff the ice salesman. I think we should all be thankful here that at least it wasn't the snowman.


 Still, first Disney Princess NOT to marry the first guy she meets. #progress




Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Body Shaming



Dear Diana,

Last night, as I was scrolling through my phone before bed, I stumbled across the picture you posted.

I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about, the one you put on the internet for the whole world to see. A picture body shaming another woman, who just so happened to be working out in your gym. I'm not going to post that picture on my blog, because it really doesn't need sharing again. However, I'll link the article here if anyone isn't sure what i'm talking about.

You posted an apology, you claim 'body shaming' wasn’t your intention.
You didn’t mean to hurt anyone, that you aren’t a bully. With that one photograph you proved to be exactly that though, don't you see?



An apology.


You say, you were simply commenting on the fact that she was using her mobile phone whilst on the treadmill. Gym etiquette obviously means a lot to you, by being so incensed by this that you felt the need to take a photo of it and then you know, post it on the internet.

May I ask what did you use to take this picture then? If mobile phone useage ina  gy is so frowned upon? Do you have magic powers? Are you able to blink and suddenly project an image onto the world-wide web? No? 
Did you use your phone then Diana? The one you have no problem using to take gym selfies of yourself, and which therefore discredits your rather pathetic attempt at an excuse.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Beyonce uses Paypal. Who Knew!



Dear Bey,

Thanks so much for sending me the $3,182.00 dollars this week. It's 2 days before payday and the dog's been to the vets this month. That's not all that unusual to be honest, you see he has 'allergies' aka he's an awkward T*** and needs a constant diet of pills, wipes and drops. Like a leaky Keith Richards.

It also looks like we need two new tyres on our shit car, I'm not allowed to call it a shit car though - you see my husband works hard. he works very, very hard, and a couple of years ago when a lump sum of money came his way, he was going to get a nice new car. He'd be dreaming about it for ages, but my dream that i'd had since, well that month, was to have two nice holidays that year,
We decided to compromise about it,  like adults, to talk about it rationally and we did. We decided I decided that memories are far more important than a car. So we booked them,
Then the bloody car packed in.

Mr O spent several weeks looking murderously at me, whist  I had to put on such a chipper front that I looked like I was on hallucinogenic drugs. It was exhausting.

Holidays were fab though.

He is a very patient man as you can gather, and he really does deserve a new car soon, but for now the money will be really useful as you can imagine.

Also last April, after 21 years service for the same company  (yes, yes it does sometimes feel like a sentence, or during sales like a zombie apocalypse) we will have undergone huge changes to our premium payments. Compensation we received for working Sundays will be no more, compensation that makes working in retail, on a Sunday somewhat bearable. When all you really want to do is be in a cosy pub eating a roast dinner, after a nice long walk. Or in a play barn, or dozing on the sofa, basically doing anything other than standing behind a till watching someone go bat shit over a 5 p carrier bag charge. Then attempt to cram a king size duvet cover into a Tesco carrier bag.

Actually anything except for a play barn, no one actively chooses to spend Sunday in a play barn do they? Unless someone has booked one for a party, and there's a special place in hell for those kind of people.
Anyway, It's going to mean a significant monetary loss to some, a lot to others especially idiots like me. Idiots who kept putting off, and putting off finishing her degree because there "was a plenty of time" And now there isn't, and that's a bit shit.

Good old Steve though (our Boss) he read the blog when I wrote about all this last year,
I thankfully managed to keep my job cheers Stevey, and if you get to read this one (and due to the company's strict social media policy I'm guessing you will) It looks like Beyonce is sending me $3,182.00 !So that is going to fund me finishing my degree now! So, I'm sure the sleepless nights you've lost worrying about the affects the loss of the premium payment will have on my family are over for you. Hurrah!

If you do feel the need to alleviate any guilt you may be harbouring, then just send some wine, or Percy Pigs. Or, you know, both.

So, back to you Bey. As you can see, this money will make a HUGE difference to our lives and our future so I can't thank you enough for thinking of little old me to send it to.

It's a good job I'm not a hard faced, suspicious individual isn't it! Wondering if you're sending what could be perceived as scamming emails, in an attempt to get some money out of people.

It's a good job I'm not like that, isn't it?

Can't wait to hear back from you. I can see we are going to be good friends! And I didn't think we would, because if I'm being honest I NEVER got the hype about Lemonade.
It's just that for me, if my husband had been shagging around, I'd have punched him in the throat and divorced him. Not spent months writing an album about it, then get myself knocked up.
But hey we're all different. No judgement!

Thanks again Bey, You must need to tighten the purse strings now with twins on the way, so I really do appreciate it.


Rachel x


You're welcome.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Darkness of @ShitChester




I have followed @ShitChester since the very beginning, back when it was just two friends and one Twitter account. Two friends who were armed with a keen eye, a quicker wit, and the remarkable ability to find the humour in some of the most mundane aspects of our Roman city.

It was their tongue in cheek look at Chester, their sharp observational humour and engagement with followers, that meant it soon surpassed anything they could have predicted. In 2013 Jennie Povey departed @ShitChester, leaving Tony Chester in sole control. 


Four years later, after the infamous Kony picture, the ‘Dig up Deva’ debate and "Eating The Facts’ with Mike Jones - which some may agree is what gave the account it's notoriety. And after a LOT of talk about parking, lack of cinema, and the Northgate development, @ShitChester has become somewhat of a local cultural phenomenon. 

I recently sat down with Tony Chester over wine, Jager bombs, and of course, Lego. To talk about the success of the Twitter account, the time and effort that goes into maintaining it, and the passion he has for our walled city. Also and perhaps surprisingly, the darkness that accompanies running it alone, and anonymously.

I’ve known Tony Chester for 9 years now,  before the days of @ShitChester and way before everyone started calling him Tony. I’d like to say before the darkness but I’m not sure if he’d agree that was true?

I always thought he came across as a shy character, with a poetic soul. Yet, at the same time someone with a quick, deadpan sense of humour who could make you cry with laughter. Someone who I always thought, had a unique take on things. I’d say that’s still very much who he is today.

Did he ever think back in those early days, with those very first tweets, that one day he would be mixing with local politicians, some of which he could now count on as friends. 
"What are you doing tomorrow Tony" "I'm meeting Mike Jones for a coffee in Ginger" That one day he would be interviewing local buissnesses and celebrities daily? Or that he would have a diary full of events, that would make even Cheshire Life impressed, well reasonably anyway.


Taking a sip of his Jager and assembling his Lego beach Batman figure, he thinks about this for a moment "Not really, I thought it was clever and I thought we could have some fun with this. I never expected it to go to this level though, it was just more of a private joke really. 

It was images like this one, back in the very early days of @ShitChester that caught the attention of followers, and inspired the accounts gradual shift. From looking at the quirks of the city, and seeking the humour. To championing change and celebrating what was going on in Chester. Rather than letting followers focus on what the city lacked.

Mainly, a cinema and adequate parking. It's always the lack of cinema and parking.


#weneedmoreshit

“I spotted the graffiti on my way to work one day. It tied in with what was being said about Chester at the time, and also the Twitter name. I thought we do need more stuff happening here, we do need more positive things. That inspired people, It was like a cult...people jumped on that quite quickly and it became a lot more positive, more journalistic and it suddenly grew from there”

Despite @ShitChester growing and evolving from here on, gaining notoriety, what never changed was the desire for Tony Chester to remain anonymous. As once famously asked, by the then Lord Mayor of Chester Hugo Deynem during an interview:

"Why do it covertly"

"Why? I don't want attention for myself. I want to have that anonymity. Chester's a small place. Also, If people don't know who you are they don't notice you and I guess that's the appeal. I could be anyone in the street taking a photograph, I don't want to be seen as anything more than what I am, I just want to be myself. And if I don't want to be @Shitchester one day, I can just not do it"

"I think people trust in that anonymity. Without giving too much away I would like maybe someone else to be that public face, which is why I often get people to help me out with interviews. Companions that come along with me. A bit like Dr Who and his assistant.



Can I be Rose then please? No? More Donna?

But by remaining anonymous, by mostly working alone, doesn't that make it quite a lonely experience?

Friday, 17 February 2017

50 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME





I recently read through some of my most recent blog posts. The past year has been draining to say the least and I think you can sense that in them. As someone who suffers with anxiety, I can honestly say this past year has been one of the hardest in a long time.
I've struggled and I’ve very much tried to deal with it alone. In doing that I feel like I have alienated people. I’ve not known what to say, or how to act in certain situations. 
If I do find the right words, then I worry that I’m saying the wrong thing! For example, I've gone from someone who would walk into the school playground at pick up ready to start a conversation. To standing on my own and avoiding eye contact, there’s probably three people I’ve actually felt comfortable speaking too. For someone who looks on the outside as a pretty confident person that’s probably strange to hear but it’s nevertheless true.

Amazingly the past few weeks I’ve felt like I’ve come through the other side. I feel like I am finally through the fog., and like a great big weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I feel happy and that I’m 'free' again.

So with that in mind I’m thinking that this blog needs a good dose of fun!


So here’s 50 completely random facts about me:

1 I don’t watch ANY of the soaps. I used to occasionally watch Hollyoaks but lost the will to live when Mercedes got kidnapped for the 987th time. It also has a lot of unrealistic storylines, like trying to make us believe 16 members of one family could live comfortably in a 3 bed semi.

2 I was once Miss B.H.S. Oh. Yes. I thought the catwalks of Rome, Paris and New York awaited me and I would model for Seventeen magazine. It was a bit more catwalk in the Arndale centre, and modelling for catalogue buyers though. Still, I felt like a rock star for a while. That’s if a rock star had a jaunty hip pose and bounced around to Yazz of course.




The only way is up! if up was the Manchester Arndale centre on a Saturday afternoon.



3 I can’t ride a bike.

4 Or drive. There is a hedge at the top of the lane in my village that has never grown back the same after I drove through it on a lesson.

5 I can ride a horse though.

6 I had a huge crush on Shakin’ Stevens as a child.





The British Elvis my Nana said!



7 Wuthering Heights is my favourite book in the whole world and I think it’s darkly romantic. At University I got told this meant I had a twisted view of romance.

8 Which leads me to the fact that I am surprisingly not romantic in the slightest.

9 I am obsessed with Nuclear War.

Rest assured I’m not willing it to happen or anything, but if Trump did go cray and push the button? Then I’d be confident that I know enough stuff to keep us alive. Don’t come knocking at my door though, I know how long the tinned goods need to last. I think it all started when I was a little girl, I had read Children of The Dust by Louise Lawrence and it genuinely frightened me that the world in which we lived could be completely destroyed in a matter of minutes. I was so worried about it happening growing up my parents stopped me reading or watching the news.

10 I still read and watch almost anything post-apocalyptic now, it’s one of my guilty pleasures.