Who, her? What I would like to see for the twelfth Doctor.


Some news you have probably already heard: Matt Smith is hanging up his bow tie for good sometime soon and ceasing being the Doctor. And you know that means? Regeneration and plenty of press speculation about who will be the next Doctor. The question being asked by many is will the Doctor have a sex change and be played by a female. I’ve had some thoughts and have decided to share them with you all today.

When I was little “my” Doctor was Sylvester McCoy.

This guy

This guy

He was the doctor from 1987–89 and came back to show his regeneration into Paul McGann after the series was cancelled and the movie was made. He was something of a bumbling idiot at first, making pratfalls and basically being a bit of a loser, but still kept the Doctors intelligence and knowledge. I don’t really remember him having been born 2 twos prior to the start of his tenure, but my parents watched repeats a lot so I did see my fair share of him. To be honest I was not overly bothered by the Doctor. He seemed like a grown up and as a small child I didn’t identify with that. I did get a desire for the Doctor to come and find me, invite me on the TARDIS and take me travelling through space and time. I still dream about it now.

So the Doctor was to me like the fun uncle who comes to collect you to take you on the adventures your parents wouldn’t, in which case the companion was the one I identified with. For me that was this girl…

 

Dorothy "Ace" McShane

Dorothy “Ace” McShane

This companion was aptly named, for she was truly ace! From her Wikipedia entry: “Ace is a 16-year-old who first appears in the 1987 serial Dragonfire, where she is working as a waitress in the frozen food retail complex of Iceworld on the planet Svartos. She had been a troubled teen on Earth, having been expelled from school for blowing up the art room as a “creative statement”. Gifted in chemistry (despite failing it for her A-levels), she was in her room experimenting with the extraction of nitroglycerin from gelignite when a time storm swept her up and transported her to Iceworld, and far in her future. There, she meets the Doctor and his companion Mel. When Mel leaves the Doctor at the conclusion of the serial, he offers to take Ace with him in the TARDIS, and she happily accepts.”

Ok, did you read that? Read it again! She was doing chemistry experiments in her room when she was whisked away in a time storm until the Doctor met her. She’s proper tough-girl nerd! She was great to watch as a young girl and she and the 7th Doctor had a relationship not unlike Harry and Dumbledore; the Doctor used the opportunity of her travelling with him to educate her about the universe and the history of earth, yet their friendship was strained at times by his manipulation of people and events. There was no love story, just an old man and his friend travelling the universe.

My point is that the Doctor has never been a role model to young women and girls. He’s a man. He can be something we aspire to find in the opposite sex, but we will never be like him. We can aspire to be like the companions at the moment, but the offering so far has been paltry. Rose Tyler loved the Doctor, Martha Jones loved the Doctor unrequitedly, Donna Noble did some amazing things as the Doctors friend and companion but had to have her memory erased rendering everything null and void. Amy Pond loved Rory and was best friends with her Raggedy Man, which was nice, but her storylines involved marriage and pregnancy. Granted perhaps Clara might be better, but I found the series flagged so badly at the end of Amy and Rorys run that I couldn’t be bothered with the next. I’d like to watch it again and watch it with my children and I’d like for there to be a good female role model for my daughter. It would be  nice if the Doctor could be a woman so that my girl can look up and see herself wielding the sonic screwdriver and, well I was going to say steering the TARDIS, but you know what I mean. Failing that can we maybe have a companion who isn’t gaga over the Doctor. Maybe one of an age closer to Donna or River Song? Maybe one who can be clever and quick, but not equally vapid and girly to counteract it. Can we maybe have a male companion who is not a tag along boyfriend of the primary companion?  There have been male companions in the past who have been much beloved and very successful. Love stories, while they have their place in the world, can be kind of boring. Certainly they are boring to children my daughters age. Lets have some mates bombing around the universe with the Doctor, preferably an old and grumpy one rather than the current young, manic and sexy ones. A female Doctor would be nice. A Doctor of colour would be pretty good, too.

Basically it would be nice to see a change of pace to liven up a somewhat stagnant formula.

And more Neil Gaiman penned episodes. In fact, lets just replace Stephen “sexist jokes are always funny, right?” Moffat with Neil.

I’m not going to Gavel! today because I’m in two minds about it. I think I’d be happy with either and I’m certainly going to be watching to see who appears out of Elevens regeneration. I’m going to put it to you Discussers instead: do you think we should have a female Doctor or another male?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewsday – Grief

Reviewsday doesn’t quite work on a Wednesday. Revednesday. Nope. That Bank Holiday’s made a right mess of things!

Anyway, we have a bit of a dark Reviewsday this week… I’ve decided to review Kübler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief. Most of you will have experienced grief at some point in your life; the loss of a friend or a family member, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship. Many things create in us a state of grief. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross put forth the theory that the brain goes through a series of stages when coping with grief. Her initial thoughts were that these stages were passed through by a person suffering with a terminal illness, but the theory has since been expanded to cover any form of grief.

The stages can be remembered by the acronym DABDA; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Different people will pass through the stages at different rates. Some people may skip stages; this is just a rough guideline. Grief is on my mind quite a bit at the moment. In real life I’ve got a very poorly Nanna, and a very poorly dog. Both mean a heck of a lot to me, and the prospect of losing either one is ridiculously upsetting. Slightly more trivial; a couple of the short stories I’m currently writing involve emotional devastation; through death or through the learning of terrible truths. So I’m very aware of grief right now, and the most pragmatic part of my brain wants to deconstruct the stages to be better prepared.

Denial
Somewhat toddler-like, we start out with the sheer refusal to believe that the impending doom is going to happen. This is the desperate attempts to believe that it’s all going to be alright. Maybe you misheard the news, maybe the test results got mixed up and it’s really happening to someone else. Maybe there was some sort of mistake. Maybe this is all some terrible dream and in the morning you’ll wake up and it’ll be ok.

Anger
So you wake up and it’s not ok. And the next morning you wake up and it’s still not ok. And eventually it sinks in that this terrible thing is happening whether you like it or not. You really don’t like it, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening and the powerlessness drives you absolutely crazy. The more you can’t do anything, the more angry you get that it’s happening. It’s not fair, you’re better than this horrid thing. You’ve worked so hard to do the right things, why should this happen to you?

Bargaining
The anger breaks on the hundredth utterance of ‘It’s not fair’ and a last ditch of desperation appears. You find yourself willing to do anything to escape your fate. You walk the safest paths and avoid anything even remotely risky, you swear by whatever deity you believe in that you will be the best person you can be if only they give you another chance. I would call this step ‘Desperation’ except that would ruin the acronym; no one wants to associate ‘DADDA’ with grief.

Depression
Your bargains receive no answer, the impending awfulness is still impending and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. So you give up. You shut out well-wishers and you wallow in futile sadness that it’s all so very out of your control. Now the tears shed are not the tears of shock, but the tears of how bloody rotten everything is, and how this shouldn’t be happening, and how distraught you are now you know what you’re distraught about.

Acceptance
Then something clicks in your understanding. It’s not necessarily the serenity of being granted the knowledge to see what you can’t change, or however that goes, but rather the point when you realise that there’s nothing you can do about the fact that there’s nothing you can do. You’re no less sad than you were, no less angry at the way things are, but you’re probably a bit less stressed and able to deal with the things you need to deal with.

And that’s that. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

Now, to make up for the really sad subject, here’s a couple of adorable things.
really cute puppies grief
adorable baby kitten

Reducing Pregnant Women to Fibbing Children; Why The Smoking Tests at Antenatal Appointments are a Really Bad Idea

It’s been a while now since I had a baby. My youngest is now 13 months old, but I remember all the antenatal appointments during the times that I was pregnant. I had 3 booking in appointments in my time due to the fact that I miscarried at between children. All three appointments were brilliant: relaxed, informative, friendly. I really felt like I connected with my midwife even though it was a different one each time. Trust was established. I felt that I could call any of these women whenever I felt like I needed some support or had any queries. I left the appointments buoyed up with glee and only some of that was pregnancy bloating.

Were I to get pregnant this year and go to a booking in appointment, I have learned, I would be expected to perform a breath test designed to monitor carbon monoxide levels. I would refuse and I’m not the only one.

I am not a smoker, never have been and never intend to be. I was asked at each appointment whether I smoked and explained, as I just have, that I don’t. Tick. Done. Apparently it turns out that pregnant women can’t be trusted. The purported aim of this test is to offer advice and help for the expectant mother to quit smoking, but if the woman wants to quit smoking she will ask for these things. In truth this is designed to root out the liars and badger them until they quit. This quote from NICE explains their reasoning:

“Some pregnant women find it difficult to say that they smoke because the pressure not to smoke during pregnancy is so intense,” 

What’s that now? Some pregnant women find it hard to admit that they smoke because of societal pressures against smoking while pregnant? Well then I’m sure an ordered breath test will make them feel nice and relaxed and ready to talk about quitting.

Look, its not good to smoke during pregnancy. There are a multitude of reasons why smoking is bad for you regardless, and during pregnancy its especially not good for the foetus. If you are pregnant not only is it better if you quit, but surrounding folks ought to as well. I’m looking at you, fathers-to-be. But ultimately it comes down to your body, your choice. If you are a pregnant woman your rights as a human come first. I respect your choice because I’m a decent human being.

The point of the booking in appointment is to fill out the start of the blue folder (in my Trust the folder is blue) and to get onto the system as a being with child. The appointment usually lasts an hour and you can ask questions, find out valuable information and get to know the department who you will know over the next months. I’ve said it before: its about trust. You can’t have trust if you listen to a woman tell you that no she doesn’t smoke and then you insist upon a breath test to make sure she’s not lying. You just can’t. And that’s a bad thing. For women like me, the baby in your uterus will be much wanted. You’ll be happy and excited and want to feel validated for that feeling. Millions of women get pregnant every day, but (especially for your first) you want to feel the most special. You also want to establish that trust thing I keep harping on about.

For women like me in my 3rd pregnancy you have one child, have miscarried once and you’re pregnant again. You are scared. Due to the midwife being sick you are having your booking in appointment at 11 weeks instead of 8. You’ve already had some spotting in this pregnancy and spent some time in A&E thanks to that. You’re scared. Your much wanted second child might not ever become a child. You want to get the booking done so that you can go to the scan booked that afternoon, where it turns out the foetus did not make it past 8 weeks. Once again you answer no to the smoking question. Just imagine if at that moment your midwife insists on a breath test. You’re fragile and vulnerable and suddenly the person claiming to be there for you is treating you like a sneaky liar. Fuck that shit.

For some women, if we want to look at the possible worst case scenario, they are not there because they are having a much wanted baby with a man they love. Let’s imagine the case for hundreds of women in the country. She is pregnant by a man who scares her. She is isolated from her family and her friends have been steadily eroded from her life. She literally feels trapped and being permitted to go to a booking in appointment is about it in terms of freedom. The midwife is a friendly face who is there for advice and support in pregnancy, but she brings up domestic abuse, too. The pregnant woman suddenly has a little spark of hope. Maybe she doesn’t bring it up then, but as the relationship between mother-to-be and midwife grows so does the trust and one day she speaks out. Except that when the pregnant woman says she doesn’t smoke, the midwife brandishes a Breathalyzer  The mother-to-be is snubbed; she is not believed when she says she’s a non-smoker so why the hell would she be believed if she said “my husband hurts me”? Trust is broken right at the start and it’s impossible to build up again.

I can’t see a way in which this test is OK.  Perhaps the end result might be that the mother-to-be quits smoking, but if she truly wanted to quit she would bring it up at the relevent time, right? And if the mother-to-be quits but the father-to-be or anyone else living at the family home does not, then was it worth it? Second hand smoke in a persons home is almost as bad at direct smoke. But wait a second…no-one is suggesting breath testing the father, are they? Nope, this is just for the mother-to-be. I wonder why that could be…perhaps it has something to do with the fact that women are often considered to be nothing other than incubators once they become pregnant (warning on this link due to the possibility of graphic images, although that page is pretty safe).

mf44J--TCUxycgsAggl7tnQ

Only if you in turn trust us

 

(I must just point out that this has come from NICE guidelines, rather than directly from midwives, who I think do a terrific job under difficult circumstances and I’ve never met a bad one! I’m concerned, however, that their job will be compromised by this legislation, as well as the effect it will have on mothers-to-be.)

Let Kids Be Kids

I woke up this morning and checked my e-mail, checked my facebook, then had a look at the BBC news webpage in case something had happened overnight that I would need to be aware of.

What I found was the following headline;

Age of consent should be 13, says barrister

The barrister in question, one Barbara Hewson, specialises in public and administrative law; human rights and civil liberties; and professional discipline and regulatory law. She lists her interests as the following; ‘abortion rights, autonomy, childbirth, civil liberties, due process, privacy’. And yet I almost don’t need to know any of that. My entire view of this woman, whom I had previously never heard of, is now tainted by an article she wrote for online magazine Spiked.

Hewson’s article does not make for very pleasant reading. Her attitude is awful as she stomps eloquently from the 1880s Social Purity movement, when the age of consent was raised from 13 to 16, to the last few decades and revelations of what was happening at the BBC and, I believe, more widely spread. I could easily give a strongly worded retort to each sentence in her article, but I will restrict myself to just a few.

I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.

This is Hewson’s opening line. This pretty much sets the tone for the entire article. It’s disgusting, especially when you consider that this is coming from a barrister; from a woman whose job it is to uphold the law, to ensure justice is done. She seems to be missing the major facts; that these ‘old men’ being ‘persecuted’ are actually suspects of rape and sexual assault who are being questioned and/or arrested for actual crimes which happened to actual people. Actual young, unwilling girls. This is not persecution – there are no pitchfork-wielding mobs traversing the streets and baying for blood; this is an attempt at justice.

In the 1880s, the Social Purity movement repeatedly tried to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, despite parliament’s resistance. At that time, puberty for girls was at age 15 (now it is 10).

The second sentence in this quote was where I am startled at Hewson’s attempt to twist logic and factual accuracy to make her point. The fact is that, on average, puberty for girls in the 21st Century begins at 10 or 11 and finishes by 15 or 16. Thus the age of consent standing at 16 makes sense. There is a school of thought that puberty in girls happens earlier now than it did in the 19th Century – this would make sense; puberty is triggered by how physically capable a girl’s body is of carrying a child – 150 years ago girls would have been thinner, possibly weaker or more unhealthy, and so their bodies would not change so early. What these facts say to me is not that the age of consent should lower as the average age of puberty has, but in fact that the law change of the 1880s was much needed, and did not go far enough to protect the girls of the time.
(‘Behavioural Endocrinology’, edited by Jill B Becker provides some scientific back up for the above statements.)

It is depressing, but true, that many reforms introduced in the name of child protection involve sweeping attacks on fundamental Anglo-American legal rights and safeguards, such as the presumption of innocence.

In a way I don’t disagree with this quote. It follows a strangely-worded rant about how the NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police, in a report on Operation Yewtree and, in particular, Jimmy Savile’s crimes, are calling the accusers ‘victims’ rather than ‘complainants’. It’s a fairly major step in terms of semantics.
I do firmly believe in the adage ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’, and this is a place where I really struggle. It’s said that one of the main reasons victims of rape or sexual abuse don’t come forward is because they are afraid they won’t be believed. They are ‘alleged victims’ and ‘complainants’, and in the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ way of thinking there was no rape or abuse until a court of law has proved that it happened. This doesn’t seem right, but at the same time I can’t in good conscience advocate the switch around to ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’. To me, the whole thing is so dangerously convoluted I don’t think I’ll work my thoughts out today, so I’m not going to dwell too long on it. What I am going to do is distract you with a subject change, then continue my reading of Hewson’s article. Charli has much clearer views on this issue, so I’ll eagerly await her comment, putting forth her better-structured opinions!
Mumsnet have a campaign entitled ‘We Believe You’. This campaign exists to support victims of rape and to break down rape myths.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

I guess I’ve lost touch with reality… sexual assault on anyone (regardless of gender or age) is, in my eyes, a major crime. Arguably it is the fore-runner to rape and gang-rape, if we’re going to simplify things to a hierarchy of criminal activity. To say to a child or teenager ‘don’t make a fuss dear, it was only a little bit of groping – at least he didn’t rape you’ is tantamount to saying ‘you’re a sexual object for men to do with as they wish; let go of whatever self-worth you had and accept the abuse. The fact that you don’t want it to happen is irrelevant.’ I am not cool with that. I am incredibly not cool with that. I, and every man, woman and child on this earth has the right not to be sexualised against their will.

As for Hewson’s ‘regrettable necessities’, let’s take a look at them one by one…

It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest.

She’s talking about Operation Yewtree… I’m pretty sure it does have something to do with justice. Children have been assaulted, have lived their lives with this hanging over them, afraid to come forward and speak against a tv star. Undoubtedly their lives have been affected by what happened to them and they bloody well deserve justice. It doesn’t undo what happened to them, but it’s the right thing. Lessons have to be learnt from the things that were allowed to happen; those criminals still alive need to be brought to justice for the crimes they committed (if proven by a court of law they actually happened, but that’s what the justice system is for.)

Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime.

I do think people wear their ‘victimhood’ as a shield at times, but having never been a victim of that nature of crime I can’t possibly say I wouldn’t do the same. Making today’s yougnsters responsible for protecting themselves against the unwanted attentions of people in positions of power, on the other hand, is preposterous. How is the molestation of a 9 year old down to the child to prevent rather than the molester? Children should be aware that there are some bad people in the world, but they shouldn’t have to live in fear and paranoia. There should be no ‘compromising situations’. Celebrities should not be allowed to use their position to shame/intimidate children into being abused and remaining quiet about it.

As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity;

…and force more victims to not report their assault/rape for fear of repercussions? This is such a dangerous suggestion, more likely to allow crimes like those of Jimmy Savile and associates to remain hidden than to do anyone any good.

introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions;

Just because a crime happened 20 years ago does not make it any less of a crime today. Speak to the families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster. Sexual abuse is such an awful, life-affecting thing to be put through, it can take the victims a long time to come to terms with what happened to them. As much as I would wish all victims could report it as soon as it’s happened, realistically this does not and will not happen.

and reduce the age of consent to 13.

No. Just no. As I wrote at the top – the average girl does not reach sexual maturity until 15 or 16, boys tend to be a year behind. Allowing/encouraging sexual activity to happen at 13 (the average age of a girl’s first period and a boy’s first ejaculation, and thus the age the average child is able to make a baby) is just madness. At 13, most children are simply not ready for the complications that come with sex; family planning, STDs, what is and isn’t ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ (horribly vague terms, I know, but this isn’t the place to talk about what’s wrong or right between consensual adult partners…)

To conclude; Barbara Hewson’s article represents one of the worst pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time – her thoughts and ideals just strike me as unimaginably wrong, and I can’t help but to wonder whether she has a 13 year old daughter.

Let children grow up in their own time. Let them reach adulthood (be that 16 or 18 – I’m still unsure) in their own time, and for pity’s sake protect them from predators. Gavel!

Discuss…

The Power of Procrastination

It’s been a little while since my last post… I’ve missed two articles. I could give you excuses – I was ill at the beginning of last week, and commuting to and from London every day. I was busy at the weekend; racing ferrets on the Saturday and at a family gathering on the Sunday. I could tell you I just lost track of time; I was busy or tired. I forgot.

The real truth of it is that something else came up. Something more exciting than blogging. So I did that, and not this.

I thought I would feel guilty, but I don’t. The blog was created as a place for me to get my thoughts and feelings out and arranged in sentences and paragraphs. I invited my best friend to join in and we invited our friends and families (and random strangers on the internet) to have a read. I hugely value the people who do take the time to read it, but given our massive range of topics, I don’t feel we owe regular articles, but it was sort of a personal challenge to myself to keep up a steady stream of content.

So I figured I would put my procrastination to better use by telling you all what it is that has caught my attention. It involves my fantastic fellow Gaveller, but I don’t think she’ll object to my telling you.

I’m writing a book.

In fact, I’m writing my second book.

This book, like the first, is only expected to have a print-run of 5. That’s 5 copies of the book. Hardly the next Harry Potter. It’s not even a novel; it’s going to be a collection of short stories. I’ve tried writing full length novels but it all comes back to this wonderful thing called Procrastination. I can’t keep focused on one thing for as long as writing an entire book takes.

So last year, in the post-Christmas lull, whilst discussing our convergent tastes in music, Charli and I decided that for Christmas 2012 we would write each other a book. We decided to pick 20 songs we particularly liked, and to write a short story for each song, then to compile them into actual manuscripts to be sent to CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing company (many other self-publishing companies are available) and we would gift one another a specially written book for Christmas.

And we did. And it was fantastic.

So we’re doing it all again this year, except we left it until mid-late April to definitely decide we were doing it again. I’ve spent a lot of time this past fortnight putting together a spreadsheet (because all projects in my life have to start with a spreadsheet!) and coming up with basic outlines for my 20 stories. Last year we were constricted on the music front with a date range of 5 years from which to pick our songs. This year we have free rein on the music, but have to include 50 dares in our stories. This means a lot more planning is required!

Exciting, eh? Can you understand why that, coupled with the aforementioned illness and London-based training has meant I’ve allowed myself to be distracted from blogging?

But I’m back now, determined to continue, regardless of exciting new projects. Two blog posts a week isn’t too much to commit to, especially when one of them is a review, and so doesn’t require me to be up in arms about any one thing.

It’s a personalised gavel this week; aimed at myself, rather than the world I so often try to right.

Giving up is not cool; sometimes things aren’t easy, or seem for a moment uninteresting, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to put them aside in favour of something else. Work at it, find inspiration and motivation and keep at it. It’s quite possible you’ll refind your stride. And if you don’t, well quitting when you know you’ve tried your utmost is much better than quitting at the first sign of trouble.*

Gavel!

Discuss…

*Disclaimer: If trying your utmost is likely to cause damage to you, to someone else, or to our own wellbeing, then don’t. It’s important to recognise when something is a lost cause, and when something still holds so much potential. For me this blog still has a lot it can offer me, just as I still have a lot I can offer it. Other situations might not benefit from such perseverance…

The Best Article You Will Read About JLS Splitting Up *gavel*

Ooh, look at me, gavelling right there in the title! Well, dear Discussers, that’s because I feel so darn confident about my title reflecting the article. You see, the band who came second on the X Factor in 2008 have announced that they are splitting up. It’s a sad day for the fans, for music, heck, it’s a sad day for everyone. And I feel for loyal JLS fans. Your favourite band splitting up is like a rite of passage for teenagers. It’s like the first time you get dumped; you have that sense of rejection and loss for the first time. They said they’d always be there and you believed them, but they lied!

Usually bands split up in order to persue seperate projects or solo careers. So no doubt we’ll see Aston and Marvin and…the other one and…are there four of them? Yeah, I know next to nothing about the band, besides that their condom affiliation and I want to say that one of them is dating a Saturday. I don’t know and I can’t be bothered to look it up. It’s a hot day. Google it yourselves.

I don’t want to talk about JLS. I’ve used up my reserves of knowledge on them already. I don’t care that they are splitting up, but I do know what it feels like to love a band and have them break up. So that’s what I’m going to talk about. We’re going to delve into the nineties and the first decade of the noughties, so leave your dignity at the door folks and lets begin.

untitled

 Westlife

Look at that picture. Heartthrobs all of them. I remember being fiercely loyal to Mark, lower right in case you didn’t know. I had an argument with a friend at school where I maintained that Mark was the dishiest, whereas she favoured Shane, the other brown haired lead singer. These arguments took place over sheets of letters we wrote to each other in class and it got ugly. Really ugly.

The bands first single “Swear It Again” came out in 1999 and I was in lurve. They were Irish, they sung lovey-dovey ballads and they stood up for key changes. What wasn’t to like? The group suffered a break in 2004 when Brian McFadden, then married to ex-Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona, left the band. Things weren’t the same after and although they had a sort of come back as a foursome in 2011 they officially split in 2012.

imagesCA3Q2OH1Steps

There are boybands, there are girlbands and sometimes there are bands with boys and girls in them. Steps were formed in 1997 and quickly became famous for their catchy pop tunes and easy to follow dance routines. To this day it is not unusual to see someone throw their hands up either side of their head if they hear Tragedy, even if they hear the original Bee Gees version. Don’t fight it.

Their first song was “5, 6, 7, 8” and involved line dancing. Line dancing. Kids today have no idea.

The band also became famous for one of the most dramatic break ups in history when hours before their final night of their Gold Tour Claire and H both presented their bandmates with letters of resignation, allegedly completely independantly of the other.

big-reunion-bwitched-then-590x350 B*Witched

This band got me through the Spice Girls break up. They were an Irish four piece band who sang songs with twinkly tunes and they wore denim with more denim and they each had a logo of sorts. My favourite was Lindsay who had black curly hair and had a little black cat as her logo. They were magical to me and I would listen to their albums while playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and so the two have become fused in my memory.

They were active between 1997–2002 when they went their seperate ways due to the usual case of one person getting most of the lead vocals.

five5ive

These guys were part of my bad boy phase. Shut up.

They sang the same old pop songs, but cultivated a very kid-friendly “lad” image. They were essentially a British version of the Backstreet Boys or N*Sync.

They formed in 1997 and released “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” as their debut single which reached number 10 in the charts. According to Wikipedia they split up in 2001, which is news to me as I thought they had disappeared way before that. I guess my bad boy phase was pretty short.

pa-1044982The Spice Girls

I don’t care who knows it, I LOVED the Spice Girls so, so much. They were The Band Of My Youth. I wanted to be Geri Halliwell and she made me feel good about my boobs, which developed before many of my peers and as a result of which I was bullied for having them. Looking back now I know they aren’t the feminist icons they allegedly were at the time and Girl Power was just an excuse to be a bit “crazy” and “wacky”. But whatever. I loved them.

They formed in 1994 after each one answered ads in The Stage. Each one cultivated a personality by which we came to know them. Ginger, Sporty, Baby, Posh and Scary Spice. They had a movie out in 1998 entitled Spiceworld and the VHS I owned was lime green. Awesome.

In 1998 Geri Halliwell decided to leave the Spice Girls and I, well, I cried. Only a bit, I didn’t need to ring a helpline like some Take That fans before me, but I was sad. It was the end of an era. The rest of the Spice Girls carried on for another two years until they officially split up and all of them went on to have moderately successful solo careers. They re-formed for a bit in 2007–2008 and currently a musical entitled Viva Forever is playing at the West End using the songs of the band. I will always love them for the musical place they had in my life when I was a teenager and for being the reason I wore platform shoes to school throughout ’97.

And there you have it Discussers. 5 bands I enjoyed in my youth who all split up and broke my teenage heart a little bit. And now I put it to you, because I’m sure we’ve all been there. Who are the bands that you loved? Do you remember what it was like when you heard them for the first time and how it felt when they broke up? Please add your thoughts in the comments; lets revel in teenage nostaligia. And if you are a current fan of JLS and are distraught by the announcement, take heart from this article. Yeah, it’s sad, but one day you’ll be able to write a blog post all about it and it’ll all be ok.

Cookery Corner: Individual Chicken Wellingtons. Sort of.

It’s Tuesday, which means Reviewsday, but I’m going to sneak in a quick Cookery Corner. I know they are scheduled for Sundays, but you know. Life.

I made up a random meal with chicken and philly cheese and pasta and added some mushrooms and spinach to make it sort of resemble a beef wellington. With chicken. So, here’s what you need:

This was the smallest bag of spinach I could buy. We had spinach in everything until it was used up.

This was the smallest bag of spinach I could buy. We had spinach in everything until it was used up.

As with most chicken dishes, I like to cook the chicken first, then because I’m working with pastry, I set the chicken aside to cool down otherwise the pastry will suffer for it. And yeah, you could make your own pastry, but unless its choux I don’t tend to bother. I can make pastry and that’s all I need to know!

Next is the cream cheese to give the dish some yummy, gooey-ness. I could have bought philly with chives and garlic and stuff, but given that I took the cheaters way out on the pastry, I thought I’d make up for it buy essentially making my own mix!

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That’s regular philly, chives, basil and garlic all mixed up. I used the whole tub of cheese and just added the ingredients to taste. This is a very lead-by-taste-buds meal!

Next cook the mushrooms. I made this once before and left the mushrooms raw–they oozed out moisture until the pastry wound up with the soggiest of bottoms, which is a big no-no for making pastry dishes, plus its a helluva mess to clear off the cooking tray. So cook your mushrooms and then let them cool, finally pressing them between sheets of kitchen roll to dry them out substantially. The cheese sauce melts beautifully so you don’t want excess liquid!

Then you get to pretend you are Captain America as you order your food to Assemble.

Stack 'em up!

Stack ’em up!

Just because

Just because

Then it’s just a case of using the old water-as-glue trick in order to paste the pastry together and then sticking on fun shapes because this post is sponsored by “just because”.

Beautifully golden brown

Beautifully golden brown

And there you have it. I didn’t bother listing measurements or ingredients beyond the pictures because I made this up and will probably tweak it the next time I make it. Its a fluid sort of dish, one you can make your own very easily. Change anything you like about it and as long as you cook the meat first you can pretty much just bake until the pastry looks done. No need to worry about precise times; just keep an eye on your oven.

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