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 charge.

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 something 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 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 that's true?

I always thought he came across as a shy character with a poetic soul. At the same time someone with a quick, deadpan sense of humour who could make you cry with laughter. Someone who always had a unique take on things, and 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 businesses and celebrities daily, or that he would have a diary full of events that wouldn't look out of place in a copy of Cheshire Life.

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. But I never expected it to go to this level though, it was just more of a private joke really"

It was images like this, back in the very early days of ShitChester that caught the attention of followers, and inspired the accounts gradual shift. Instead of looking at the quirks of the city, and seeking the humour, it began 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 was always the lack of cinema and parking.

“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 and 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


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.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

© Mrs Rachel O'Kelly and mrsrachelokelly.blogspot.co.uk  2016 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mrs Rachel O'Kelly and mrsrachelokelly.blogspot.co.uk. With appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I hate having to write something as wanky as this especially as my blog attracts hundreds per month rather than thousands, however the reality is, some people - perhaps because they can't come up with original content on their own - do nick other peoples content/ blog ideas/ instagram pics so there we are.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Why There's No Such Thing As The Perfect Mum

I've been a Mum now for 10 years.

10 years.

I can't quite get my head around that.

People always say in the begining "Enjoy it. It goes so quickly" don’t they? And you put it down as being just one of those things people say, but it really does. For me it feels like it’s gone by so incredibly fast, yet if I were to close my eyes I can recall almost every single moment, feel every wave of emotion I've felt as a parent. 

The Happiness, the pride and frustrations. 

The heart swelling moments when they tell you they love you without prompting. 
The heart racing moments when as a toddler they attempt to run directly into oncoming traffic. The feeling you get after this is fear, then anger, then pure elation. Quickly followed by guilt if I remember correctly. It's always about the guilt isn't it?

Parenting is a bit like being on an emotional roller coaster in general really.

I was the perfect parent before I actually became a parent. I had 2 much younger Sisters you see, so I was used to being around babies, thought I knew it all. I changed nappies, I made bottles, I rocked them to sleep. I also dropped them, well only one actually but you know, I therefore knew what to do in a crisis - all part of the learning journey.

When I got pregnant, I read every single baby book imaginable, I ordered my Bugaboo and purchased Clarins’s Beauty Flash Balm.

I thought I was already winning at parenting.

Then I had a baby. An actual baby and it turns out I didn't actually know it at all (Except maybe the nappies part)

I was alerted to the fact this parenting malarkey wasn't quite going to be quite how I expected, when said baby failed to leave my vagina according to my birth plan. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I Am Special. I Am Me

When S was in her reception class they worked on a topic called ‘I am Special. I am Me'

Each child produced a little keepsake box and it included stories and pictures of their birth. Not pictures of the actual birth obviously, that would be quite disturbing for a five-year-old. No, it was just things like the very first picture they had taken, what they weighed, who came to see them etc. My Mum thought it was a bit nosy actually but then she's a cynical bugger. Inside the box was a booklet where the parents, family members and friends could contribute stories and little anecdotes about their child. The things that made them special, what made them 'them'.

It was lovely.

S still enjoys looking through hers, she likes reading the stories and looking at the pictures. Seeing what it is her family and friends think made her special. In it we all talk about how funny she is, about how she makes us smile and laugh every single day. How she loves all animals, yes even spiders. How she loves playing football and mud and being outdoors. How creative and kind and brave she is.

“She’s one of a kind” they say “She is unique”.

Excellent we think.

Unique, one of a kind, quirky these have all been used to describe S in the subsequent years, and we’ve always celebrated that. That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges along the way, I mean no one gets through the early years of childhood completely unscathed do they, parent or child.

Being a tomboy has bought with it its own set of challenges. Not knowing quite where you fit in socially can be hard. S has friends but she much prefers spending time one on one, she struggles with larger social situations finding them at times overwhelming. She doesn’t always know how to react in them either and his can lead to frustrations on her part and understandably, her peers too.

We empathise with her struggles, we love all of her quirks and character traits. We would not change them or her for anything in the world.

That’s just who she is right?

Well what if we were wrong?