I think the general election left a lot of people feeling a bit flat. I felt that way. I have always voted either Labour or Lib Dem (this year, fruitlessly, Lib Dem), but despite this I've been feeling disconcerted by so many people who vote on the left or middle-ground assuming a moral superiority that gives them the right to publicly attack anyone who votes differently from them, labelling them heartless, uncaring bastards. Usually with more swear words, vitriol and character assassination than that.
In my own life, I know a Conservative who dedicates much of their time to charity work and helping others, and a life-long Labour supporter who is so mean-spirited that he leaves me feeling chilled every time I come into contact with him. I've found myself feeling disbelief at the mass over-simplification that would suggest that the way these two people live their day-to-day lives could be considered so insignificant that after making their voting choices, Mr Lovely-Pants is to be branded a villain who should go and eat coal in a corner and Mr Bad-Crumble patted on the back and sent straight to heaven in a post-voting glow of worthiness. I don't think these two people are voter-profile anomalies - I genuinely believe you'll find an equal amount of caring people on both sides, who just happen to have varying views on the country can best be run to preserve our benefits system and NHS in the long-term.
The smog of abuse that's being thrown around on social media platforms seems like an opportunity to vent and bolster one's own status as 'one of the good ones', rather than a genuine defence of the poor and disadvantaged (which is always more persuasive when not calling someone a wanker). Minds can only be changed by discussion and the blanket abuse that's being hurled halts the prospect of any intelligent, lively conversation at a peer level for future elections - simply because most people on the right will not bother to voice their true opinions, but take them quietly off to the polling station with them. And who would blame them?
I don't know whether I'm alone in this, but I feel like it's been a hideous week of stereotyping that's made my toes curl and my head feel noisy with how much hatred and negativity has been flying around online (when I say online, I mean newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - I've never heard this kind of abuse being bandied about by people face-to-face. When I realised this delineation, I avoided looking at any of these things, but by then my headspace already felt polluted).
When I sat down today, I'd intended to write about something sewing-related, but that's not quite what's appeared on the page. So, in an attempt to re-balance, I thought I'd share a list of totally random things that I'm really enjoying at the moment.
- Let's start with the slippers at the top of this post. My husband bought them for me from Christmas. They're made by Ugg and are the comfiest, cosiest things I've ever worn and have allowed us to have our heating turned down a few degrees lower than usual this winter. I'm still wearing them now even in May - my feet feel naked (in a way that's more naked than usual foot nakedness) without them. (If you're planning to put them on your own happy wish list, it's worth noting that I'm usually an UK size 3, but that with sheepy Ugg slippers I take a UK 4.5.
- A friend bought me The Year of Living Danishly for my birthday, as she'd read and enjoyed it herself. I found it completely fascinating and inspiring reading about how Danish society operates. Did you know that their quest for a socially equal society runs so deep that when you buy a second hand car, the law dictates that the number plates must be swapped for new ones to avoid there being any social stigma around the newness of car one can afford?
The book also introduced me to the term 'hygge'. You know when you have 'a thing' that doesn't have a name in your own language and then you discover that someone else's does and you feel so happy that a whole nation sees this 'thing' as deserving of a name? That was discovering 'hygge' for me. It's the cosiness of everyone gathering in, turning their backs on the outside world and nestling down to make merry with their family and friends for days on end. It's the lighting of candles; the warmth of big, home-cooked meals; time spent chatting around a table; and copious amounts of alcohol being drunk. As a homebody, I have a vast appreciation for hygge. I think that we have it to different extents throughout the year, and like the Danish, more so in the Winter than summer. The long Christmas holiday is the height of our hygge, where we play board games for hours on end, drink more than we do for the rest of the year put together, cook enormous meals and spend extended time with a lovely family friend, who comes over most days over the holiday and is so hygge (because apparently hygge can be a verb or an adjective) that there is no need to actually get dressed to enjoy his company.
- The same friend made this fudge recently. I'm not sure there's anything more joyful than someone randomly arriving at the door with a tin of fudge. I didn't think I liked fruit or rum in my confectionery - I would have said I disliked both, in fact - but I am now ruined for eating any other type of fudge. This was the best thing I've ever tasted. I have no recipe to point you towards, so I feel slightly mean posting this. Sorry. But my reason for posting was more to comment on how special I found handmade food feels when given as a gift. I really loved it and I'm determined to bake random bits of sweetness up for others more often myself in future.
- I recently bought a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo, purely because I find tidying so comforting that I thought it would be a really enjoyable read. It sparked an absolutely massive decluttering session. Marie Kondo said two things that really resonated with me and I realised had previously stopped my tidying being truly effective. The first was that you should tidy by type rather than location. When she elaborated on this I realised how true this is - we had shoes in our understairs cupboard; in the cupboard in the hall; under our bed and a few other places around the house. When you get everything out in one place, you're suddenly able to view duplicates clearly and then tidy them away so much more effectively when you give them a home all in one place - you wouldn't believe how many places this left empty in our house - in fact, we got rid of the hall cupboard entirely, because we no longer had anything to put in it. Tidying by this method will also reveal some startling neuroses that you may not have been aware of having: I clearly have a real fear of running out of dental floss as 12 packs of dental floss were unearthed from various drawers and handbags over the course of one weekend.
- The other thing that Marie Kondo said, which I initially thought was madness, was that you should store your clothes vertically, rather than horizontally. This is not madness at all; getting dressed each day is now a joy and done in two minutes as I can see everything immediately. I'm also able to see that I dress mainly in stripes or in shades of blue and grey. My clothes rarely need re-ironing before I wear them now either. The really colourful scarf at the front of this photo is one my mother bought me when I was 21. It's a very lovely Missoni one that I couldn't afford myself at the time, but loved with all my heart. I no longer wear it on the grounds of it feeling too colourful, but it gives me joy every time I see it and Marie Kondo says that that kind of hoarding is fine.
- I absolutely love wearing eye make-up and mascara, but am less enamoured by dragging a cotton wool pad over my eyelids each evening to remove it before bed. But a few weeks ago, Natalie Fergie (aka The Yarn Yard) posted on Twitter asking if anyone had used Clinique's Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I hadn't, but I looked at the reviews on Boots.com and decided that I wanted to try it. This stuff is amazing. You put on the balm, massage it gently over your face and eyes for a few seconds while it emulsifies into something slightly oily and weird-feeling. You then rinse it off and your face is left completely spotless, with no horrid dragging around 'the delicate eye area' (I love that when reading about anything beauty-related it's never just an eye area - always 'the delicate eye area'). I have very sensitive eyes and am allergic to several brands, but happily this doesn't give me watery eyes. I love it.
- We've watched some fantastic films recently: The Imitation Game, about the life of Alan Turing and the attempts to crack the Enigma code during the second world war; If I Stay, which my daughter and I wept our way through; The Greatest Game Ever Played, which was incredible, even though no one in our family has even the slightest interest in golf.
- Finally, Nell's desire for you to sit and hold her paw in your hand. It is the most delicious, simple thing. That her life-long quest to elicit displays of your love for her AT ALL TIMES can be quelled for the duration of some very human hand-holding always make my heart ache a little. In a good way.
Right, I'll stop now as I feel I may be in danger of overloading you with the things I'm enjoying - this list could go on for a very long time as I feel like I've read so many interesting things lately! Please feel free to add any of your own joyful discoveries in the comments.
With all good wishes, irrespective of how you voted,