Eating Healthy Costs More and It’s Time To Stop Pretending It Doesn’t.

pexels-photo-116726.jpegIn the past 12 months, I have lost almost 5 stone in weight. It’s been *hard* work, and not because I don’t want to diet, but because it’s difficult to afford the foods I should be eating if I want to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle.

As anyone who has attended a Slimming World or WeightWatchers meeting will tell you, losing weight is easy: it just takes cooking all the meals you eat from scratch; a kitchen; the right equipment; your energy costs covered by a magic money fairy; the money in your pocket to be able to buy a fabulous array of vegetables and fruits, be they fresh or frozen…

It just takes being able to buy a whole chicken and a lettuce!

Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a mystery to most people. Not the very well off, not the middle classes, and not the working classes. Most of us know what we should be eating, and we know what our children should be eating. I don’t know any parents who have sat down and decided they want their child to be fat, unhealthy, and unable to play and run with free movement, whatever perceived class they are from.

I know fat rich people and skinny poor people, but mostly it’s the other way round. Not because of a deliberate choice to eat crap and laze around on a fat arse all day, though. It’s not a ‘lack of willpower‘ that makes those in poverty put on the pounds, something Jamie Oliver tried–if clumsily–to get across this week.

Unfortunately, the entire concept of food and food poverty seems to be based around the idea of a Class System. The wealthy, if we are to believe The Times, are taking heed of the Government’s advice on healthy eating–an approach that will not, apparently, work on the poor. The article actually calls those in poverty an underclass, although it hasn’t directly attributed those exact words to Jamie (read it here). I can’t begin to express just how offensive that is, and how much it hurts to be deemed as less than, as below. It invalidates my humanity, and that’s painful to deal with.

It’s not class that’s the problem, it’s money.

Poor children are twice as likely as rich children to be obese. Two thirds of children living in poverty come from families where one, or both, parents work. I have emails from nurses, from teachers, and even from a solicitor, all sharing their stories of struggling to get food on the table. One nurse actually has a slice of bread before work, and nothing else until she ends her shift, when she has a bowl of porridge. She’s not an underclass, and I’m pretty certain these educated men and women don’t have trouble grasping “middle class logic”. It’s not a class problem, but a financial one. Something I was able to discuss in detail at the Food Foundation‘s Vegetable Summit last year, and also wrote about earlier this year for the Health Foundation.

Back to my own weight loss. Two years ago, eating what I eat now was an impossibility. It’s not that I suddenly have a diet of roast duck and caviar, but I am able to afford to buy a chicken in place of nuggets, and pork shoulder instead of sausages. We still eat our staples and favourites, like sweet potato and butternut squash tagine, curries, and anything with rice, but we’re able to eat better than before, and you know what?

…it costs more…

It costs more to buy. More to cook. More physical energy to prepare. A degree of risk, because trying new food around kids is always a risk, right? I don’t know about your kids, but if I served mine chickpeas on a regular basis, I would be slaughtered–and they wouldn’t have even tried them when they were young. I know this as fact, because I like the bloody things and love cooking with them. A tub of hummus lasts exactly 30 seconds if it’s put close to me. My children thought chickpeas were weird, bland, and disgusting, the same as most other kids. Poverty happens in the pocket, not in the taste buds. Sure, as they’ve grown older, I’ve got them to eat more foods and now we argue over hummus and the valuable cucumber sticks we get to scoop it up with.

We have a richer, more varied, diet thanks, in part, to our struggles with poverty and the breadline. We’ve had to adapt and learn that what was in front of us is all I had to give, and if my kids didn’t eat it, they would go hungry.

Please, understand, when I say ‘they would go hungry’ I don’t mean the old threat, “You eat that, or you go to bed hungry,” – I mean there was nothing else to eat, and we had no access to food unless they ate what was in front of them; the same reality as millions of other children know every single day. Some days the best I could offer was smashed up kidney beans (bean burgers) and some potato wedges made from those last couple of sad looking spuds in the cupboard. If you haven’t been there, you’re lucky. If you have, I’ve cried your tears.

The risk of trying new foods is a very real one, in households where a meal for four people has to cost around £1.50 – £2.00 in its entirety. Wasting money, wasting food, is never an option. So what happens? Normally something like this:

Me: What should I cook for dinner? This is a nice recipe, and I should be able to afford the ingredients…squash is cheap as anything in Lidl, so that’s not an issue. I have rice, and I’m sure I can stretch to a tin of tomatoes…

Me: Although we’ve had tomato based dishes all week. I think I might cry if I have to face another tomato sauce. Even ketchup would be too much, right now.

Me: We could have fajitas, but without the meat…

Me: Oh yeah. I have a daughter who doesn’t like veggie fajitas. I can’t feed her separately today, so…

Me: I could always do rice. Again. I am so bored of rice. And potatoes. My life is rice and potatoes. Where do these people on TV buy their takeaways? A kebab costs seven bloody quid…times that by six…hahaha NOPE. That’s not going to happen. Okay, so no takeaways for us. Twenty quid for a pizza? I’d rather shove wasps up my…

Me: Was that the electric meter beeping? Damn, it was. Okay…no long cooking times, then. Quick, cheap, and easy. God, I’m tired. Okay...I have a fiver–that’s enough for some Iceland pizzas or sausages, a bag of oven chips, and some beans. 20 minutes and we’re done and I can finally sit down for half an hour and still have the lights on in the morning! Yay! Whoop–living the high life!

And so it goes. I can feed a family of four an evening meal for a fortnight at Iceland for £21.55 (as at time of writing). £20 for 14 meals for four people. That’s without additions, like vegetables or fruits; they cost more, and at my most desperate all I could think of is to stop the constant whines of, “Mum, I’m hungryyyy. So I’ve based this on those feelings of helplessness.”

It’s no secret why those in poverty are struggling with obesity. 75 breaded chicken nuggets for £3.00? Middle class logic? How about 4 Scotch Pies for £1.25? Lack of education? 40 value sausages for £2.00 might have more to do with it. People eat this stuff because it’s cheap. Most of the people I’ve spoken to don’t even like the bloody stuff, but it’s the most calories for the least amount of cash–it’s economically sound, if not nutritionally so.

Short cooking times, ease of storage, the knowledge the food will be eaten? It all combines, becoming the only safe route forward. Healthy food simply costs more. A cheap chicken, while only £3.00, takes an hour in the oven. Pulses and beans need soaking and boiling for an hour. Even potatoes are energy-expensive, depending on how they’re being cooked. And this is before we’ve even thought about how the kids are going to react to a courgette and pasta bake!

I have no trouble grasping the Middle Class Concepts of healthy eating. I’ve taught my children to cook, and we’re so lucky in that we have a well functioning kitchen and the things we need to cook our meals. I can cook, and I’m not half bad at it, either. But there are still times, even two years on from my original blog post, that dinner is something from a bag from an Iceland freezer. There are still times when there’s not so much as a solitary pea on my plate, and there are still times when I’ve resorted to eating just a bowl of plain steamed rice, rather than risk putting on weight and eating processed frozen foods.

Each extra item added to a plate costs money. It’s a very simple fact to grasp, regardless of class, that more food on a plate will mean higher costs. So food is removed from the plate, and the food removed cannot be anything that will fill a stomach…so the added vegetables are lost, and a beige plate of oven-baked nuggets and chips reigns supreme for another night. Bellies are filled, and kids will sleep without waking up because they’re hungry.

Food Poverty is not a class problem. It’s a financial one.

I Wasn’t Qualified To Make This Decision…

I Wasn’t Qualified To Make This Decision…

So, we’re out of the EU.

That sucks.

I have been asked for my opinion several dozen times over the course of this referendum, and I have stayed silent in the main, posting only on my personal Facebook page, to friends and family. My political stance isn’t a secret–in fact, I would say it’s the absolute opposite of a secret–but the truth is I didn’t know which way to vote. I couldn’t make the decision, and however much I read up on it, the lies and bullshit were too hard to wade through. I ended up on the Remain side of the fence, because I couldn’t trust the people waving from the Leave camp. Farage and Johnson? Yeah, but no thanks. Still, I wasn’t qualified to make the decision and cast the vote. None of us were.

Sure, on the surface, Remain seemed sensible.  It was what I have always known, after all.  I was born five years after the UK joined the EU, so I have never known any different. I believe in open borders and a fair chance for each and every human on the planet, so immigration and the supposed use of ‘our’ resources didn’t have an effect on which way I would turn. I liked being a part of a larger whole, and even if ‘we’ might not get a say in some big laws passing our way (bananas, anyone? Remember that?) the payoff was worth it, because it meant David Cameron couldn’t become David Hitler. The overseeing eye kept an eye on not only us, but our politicians as well. I liked that, because no man who desires power should be given too much.

But then, the leave side had some fair points too. Not the immigration bullshit, or the ‘Make Britain Great Again’ rubbish. But the lone sane voices on the sea of madness, calling out that we could do it away from the iron fist of the EU. That the time had come to make a stand and not be *told* what to do by people across the sea, who have little to no idea of just how crippled we are becoming under the weight of legislation. Yeah, some of the ‘Leave’ camp had a point. A point that won.

Make no mistake. They didn’t win because of racist xenophobic bigots. If you believe that, then your opinion of your countrymen and women is damaged beyond repair, and no referendum would have changed those thoughts. Leave won, because independence from the mythical eye of Big Brother was more desirable than having a nameless, faceless, politician a world away from us, make our decisions for us. We have MEPs, sure…but where they were is anyone’s guess. Nigel Farage never bloody showed his face, did he?

Our working poor are getting poorer. Tax Credits have been cut again. We have, in effect, a two child policy for those families who are on less than £38,000 a year, because you can’t claim Child Tax Credit for more than two children. Our hospitals are falling apart at the seams, while managers get bloated on their raises, and doorways fill up with homeless people who can’t afford £1,000 a month rents. It wasn’t the EU who did that, it was the Tories. But to have the infamous “We Give £350m a week to the EU!” on a bus was inspired! It shifted the blame to Europe for our own government’s failings. It blinkered us to the truth, and we fell for the greener grass trick.

Well played, Boris, well played.

So, we’re out, and the world is laughing at us. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s not. I promise.

The UK was not the only country to consider leaving. We were simply the first to go. And as the first, we are in unknown waters. But unknown waters are one of the things we’re generally good at navigating. I have faith in our tiny little island. We can do this.

We’re not going to do it by tearing each other apart though. Whether you voted leave, or stay, the vote is cast, the ballots counted, and the results are in. It was a very narrow margin, but the die is cast, and we are leaving. Half of us don’t want to go, but we’re going to be kicked out if we don’t get a shift on, so get to it

So do it with a bit of dignity. No screaming and shouting. Don’t throw the priceless vase. It’s bad enough without kicking each other while we’re down. Pack a bag, shake hands, and leave quietly, through the door, and close it softly afterwards. Then take a deep breath, look at what we’ve taken with us and what we’ve learned, and use that to go forward to a new dawn and a new life.

And remember, when everything seems as bad as it could be, it can always be worse.

So please, stop tearing each other apart and looking to the dark side. Look to the sunshine and seek out a better way forward. Grieve today, because it deserves to be mourned, but then lift up your chin, dry your eyes, and show the rest of the world what we’re made of. We can do this. We must do this.

So let’s do this.

My Body Isn’t Subject For Debate.

My Body Isn’t Subject For Debate.


On Wednesday, 24th February, a video opinion piece I had filmed with the Guardian Newspaper went live on their website and Facebook page. It was the video accompaniment to my ‘Modern Day Poverty‘ article.

I was excited.

I had managed to (finally) grow out the ridiculous haircut I had done last February, an entire year ago, which was a treat, supposedly, after not visiting a hairdresser for close to a decade. After looking in the mirror at the new ‘style’ I remembered why I hadn’t been for a decade and wished I’d stayed away. But anyway, my hair had grown back, and I’d even used some straighteners on it. It looked good.

I had watched make up tutorials and managed to conceal, contour and powder away my strawberry-red skin. I was happy with the result. I looked a normal human colour instead of like an extra from Attack of The Killer Tomatoes. My skin condition (an allergy to one of my medicines) had cleared up, so I didn’t look like a tomato pizza either.

And I had bought a nice top from Select for the occasion. In a size 14, if you care. Not because of any massive amount of vanity, but honestly because my wardrobe had come down to three T-shirts from Primark and two pairs of jeans. If I was going to be seen by thousands, maybe millions, then I owed it to myself to make an effort.

And here’s the thing. You don’t see my body in the film. At all. You can see the width of my shoulders, my neck, and my face. My face, which was bloated, because on a day when I will be spending hours travelling to and from London, across our great Capital, into Guardian offices, filming, I was not going to take my usual two water pills and be stuck without a toilet.

Oh, yeah. Let’s be blunt about it, as no-one seemed to have issues being ‘honest’ about my weight.

Each morning, I wake up between seven and eight pounds heavier than I weigh when I go to bed. My heart is too weak to effectively stop water building up in my body, and the tablets I take allow me to, frankly, piss away the excess. The water gathers around my ankles and my calves…and my face. It makes me look bloated. It makes me look fat. It gathers during the day, and again through the night. My pills stop it building up, because oedema, especially around a heart as strained as mine, is dangerous.

Now, I’m not one for body positivity. In keeping with the blunt theme here, I hate myself. I can’t stand the way I look. I detest what has happened to my body since my heart attack. My reflection fills me with disgust, shame, and grief. It makes me cry. There is no part of my body left, which I can look at and know as my own. It’s bloated, tired, scarred, and isn’t recognisable as the ‘me’ I used to be. I avoid cameras and photos as much as I can, and only use a mirror to do my hair–and on this day, my make up.

I felt good, when I filmed the opinion piece, though. I felt confident. I was wearing size 14 clothes, didn’t look terrible, and my angina was behaving.

And I knew the instant I caught a reflected glimpse of myself in a window, that I would be ripped apart because my face was fat. So I prepared myself for it. I knew it was coming, and I battened down my mental hatches and waved a figurative hand in a ‘whatever’ gesture, and waited for the onslaught. An onslaught, which pissed me off because my gods there are some dickheads out there! An onslaught, which pissed me off because rather than focus on the very real struggle of so many thousands of people, day in, day out, there were dickheads discussing my size–which they couldn’t see.

For all you can see of my body in this video, I could have been wearing a light grey scarf, and had the rest of me naked, painted blue, with a fucking rainbow across my missing nipple! But despite my anger at their ignorance, I wasn’t upset.

And then I was. Because there are thousands of women, and more than a few men, who were reading those comments, and they had not had the time to prepare themselves for what was being said. They were reading those comments, overweight, perhaps having so little money available that their meals are largely consisting of Iceland Value sausages (40 for £2) and bread (10p if you can get it at the end of a day in Tesco). And I started to get angrier and upset on their behalf. I have a fat face, which deflates when I take some pills. Whatever. But the reality of poverty, as so many people face, means subsistence living and cheap, fatty, unhealthy meals. It means so many people living under the breadline are medically overweight. So, so many.

I am fortunate. As I have previously posted, I learnt to cook by watching Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, The Hairy Bikers and Rick Stein. My meals consist of a lot of rice, pulses, pasta, vegetables, and cheap meat (sorry, it’s not free range organic, but it’s cheap and it’s enough to fill us all up). I can cook. I cook without oils and without fats, Slimming World style. I use herbs, spices, and I am consistently losing weight despite the medication and the water retention.

But there are thousands out there who don’t know how to cook, and they had to also read the vitriol aimed at my head. A message that said clearly, “You can’t be struggling, you are fat.” “You’re obviously not starved.” “You have enough to buy food, obviously.” (I do have enough – I have never said it’s not enough)

I am so sorry, to all of you who might struggle with your weight, and who read the crap written by the sanctimonious arseholes in those comment sections. Thank you for getting in touch with me to see if I was okay–I was. I am. I hope you are too. You’re beautiful–more than those idiots typing vileness into a comment box can ever hope to be.

But, for goodness sake, people, since when is it okay to ball out someone for their size? To insult a body you can’t see? To grind away the small bit of pride I had felt in my appearance on the day I filmed?

Since when do you have the right to use my body as a debate about poverty? When did my face get in on the argument and write anything? The only thing my face does is act as a front-piece for my head, which holds my brain. My face, and the size of my chins has no bearing on my intelligence. It holds no bearing on my financial status, and none at all on how much money I have left after paying all my bills.

It’s just chins. It’s just a face. Most people have them. They’re nothing special.

And mine, away from the cameras, aren’t much bigger than the average. But if they were?

That’s not up for debate either.


Do You Have A Story You Would Like To Share?

Do You Have A Story You Would Like To Share?

Hello, Everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a decent start to the year. I know some of us are struggling, and others are about ready to punch politicians in the teeth (don’t do it – you’ll get arrested and the politician will claim for new teeth on expenses!), but I wanted to shout out to you all to say a huge THANK YOU for all of your support over the past year.

Over the last 12 months, my inboxes have been heaving. You have contacted me in your thousands to tell me your stories, and to give me an insight into your worlds. Some are heartbreaking, some are funny, but all, almost with exception, are inspirational. I never thought for a moment that a blog about a leg of lamb and Jamie Oliver would go quite so viral, but it did. It touched a nerve, with a hell of a lot of people.

And you all have your own stories!

During March, I would like to hear from you. I want your stories, and I want to know how you all live, year to year, week to week, day to day.

I want to hear from you if you have had your DLA/PIP stopped, as though the government think you can grow back an arm (yes, really, I’ve heard from (and of) no less than seven amputees who have had their disability payments stopped). I want to hear from you if you are losing your home because of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. If you are trying to navigate your way through the maze of Child Tax Credits, or Childcare Payments. Has your Working Tax Credit been stopped, based on last year’s earnings? Are you elderly, or a student, living far below a breadline politicians (don’t punch them) don’t think exists.

Or do you have tips from a generation past, and know how to make something from nothing, and think vital skills have been lost along the way?

I want to hear from you.

You don’t need to be able to spell, or be able to pass A-Level Grammar (there’s no such thing anyway). I will take what you send me, edit it, and then publish it after you have read through the final article. You can remain anonymous, if you choose to do so. Or you can attach photos or pictures to your email, which would be amazing.

Over the last year, I’ve learnt that the Reality of Modern Day Poverty is something that affects thousands, upon thousands. We’ve sat in our homes, thinking we’re alone.

We’re not alone. And it’s time to start believing the shame is not ours! So email me. Share your stories. Tell me your experiences. Let each other know we are not alone, and more importantly, let that one person, sitting in the dark, feeling hopeless, that they are not alone either.

This March, let’s group together and share our lives. It helps more than you’d believe!


email me at or contact me through Facebook.

Kathleen Kerridge is an author of Fantasy Fiction & LGBT Fantasy. Her books are available on Amazon.

Willow’s Vision And A 24 Hour Push By A Madman.

Willow’s Vision And A 24 Hour Push By A Madman.

I have some strange and wonderful friends. I just want to get that out there before I go any further. I know some weird and wonderful people, all of whom will drop round to my house and sit at my table. They usually bring vodka, so I allow them to stay for a while. Some end up moving in. Most go home. They all add something to my life that I would be lost without.

One of these friends is a stray brought home by The Hubs. They used to work together, and one night he said, in passing, as you do, “I’ll be bringing a friend round for dinner Wednesday.”

So I nodded, prepared a meal. Waited, and waited, and the bloody friend never turned up. It took another ten months before I finally met this friend of The Hubs. By this point, I thought he had gone a bit mental and had an imaginary friend. But he was real, and David entered my life.

Now, David is crazy. He’s been known to dress up as Widow Twanky. He’s done pantomime, radio, plays sport (gasp) and makes up completely mad scripts to songs he hears. He can hold his liquor too. I like that in a friend. But above all that, he works tirelessly for good causes. He’s one of those genuine people you want to be able to hate, because no one can be that nice, surely.

He’s also a double amputee (through the knee on both legs), and a full time wheelchair user. He has prosthetic legs, but he’s been known to break them or take them off and wave them at people. One night, round my house, he scared my daughter’s ex-boyfriend by twisting a leg behind his head. He’s that sort of person.

So when he said he was going to do a 24 hour push, in his wheelchair, I thought, “Okay. Sounds like something insane enough for you to do, David…”

Willow – Always Smiling!

Willow is a 6 year old girl. She has a myriad of issues with her health, and broad learning difficulties. She was starved of oxygen during a complicated birth, and suffered a bilateral brain haemorrhage the day she was born. Willow’s mother, who was kind and patient enough to chat to me about her, thought she was going to lose her baby. She was terrified. She prepared herself for the worst. Yet Willow didn’t die. She lived. She has had nine brain surgeries, has Cerebral Palsy, suffers from Hydrocephalus (Fluid on the brain) and has shunts to drain the fluid.

She is also registered as blind.

David’s 24 hour self-propelled push aims to raise £10,000 for Willow. To get her the sensory equipment that would make her quality of life so much better. She’s had some stem-cell treatment, which has yielded some hopeful results, and now it’s time to build up her eye muscles, and just help Willow have a better quality of living. There may be more treatments in the future as well, but the hospitals are abroad, if her parents choose to take that route again. Travel time, time off work, accommodation…it all adds up. It all takes more money than they have.

So, please, share this around. Because a legless maniac wants to wear out his arms and push himself for 24 straight hours to raise these funds. Do it so Willow can get the sensory equipment she so needs, and deserves. Do it, because you’re all amazing, and you can share things better than anyone I know.

So for Willow, please spread the word about a very odd man, and his masochistic tendencies. Sponsor him if you can. Ask others to, if you can’t. Thank you!

It Could Be Worse? Try Saying It Another Way!

It’s just a saying, isn’t it? People say it all the time. They look at a broken leg, and tell themselves they should be thankful they have a leg to break. They get the flu, and tell themselves they should be thankful it’s not pneumonia. Some, like me, get pneumonia in the middle of summer, and are thankful it’s not some fatal rapid-onset variety of lung cancer. We all do it. We see ourselves, and our friends in situations, and we say “It could be worse.”

But, and here’s the thing, saying that doesn’t help. It doesn’t make things better. It doesn’t change the dire situation someone is in, just because, somewhere, somehow, it could be worse.

The other night (just before payday, which happened and then, faster than I could appreciate it had happened, it had gone again) I was staring at the contents of my fridge and wondering what the bloody hell I could cook for dinner. As most of you will know, there’s only so many times you can feed kids pasta with a chopped onion and some tomatoes before they begin to riot like French Peasants prior to the revolution. They probably feel the same way about rice, near the end of the month.

You can jazz it up all you want, but it’s still pasta. And that gets bloody boring, right?

So there I was, staring into my fridge, wondering what I could do with some limp spring onions, half an aubergine, and a withering pepper which, to be fair, looked as terrible as I was feeling (I had a cold last week – my heart hates me getting colds and objects in terms I can’t ignore). There was enough to feed one adult, in my fridge. So I looked at my bank balance and decided to risk a small top-up shop. Up the road to Tesco I went, and began to choose the cheapest food my extortionate little corner-Tesco offers. Seriously…it’s a Tesco Metro. This means they can scrap their value range, replacing it with premium brands. It means tomatoes aren’t 32p. They’re, like, a million pounds (or 85p, whatever). Anyway, I was staring just as blankly at the shelves in Tesco as I had stared at my fridge. I debated walking the two miles to the bigger Tesco, but my energy was gone. I thought about walking the mile to Lidl, but honestly, walking to the end of the road was already pushing my hard limits that day.

Then, miracle of miracles, I saw the man with his mark-down gun. He marked down chicken, and potatoes, and vegetables. I tell you, I grabbed that food as though I was in a bread queue in the USSR circa 1986. I paid (it came to under £3.00, and I had two days food, plus lunches. RESULT!) and I went home. And I told myself ‘Well, it could be worse. I have food. Many don’t. There are starving people in the world. Homeless people. My husband has a job, many don’t. I’m not dead yet, so that’s something.”

And it sounded, for once, like what it was. A trite remark, which is meaningless. It’s something people in dire situations tell themselves, and others, in the hope that it will carry them through one more hour, one more day. The politicians, bludgeoning us all with figures to make it seem we’re better off than we are, love it when we look at each other and say ‘It could be worse!’

Maybe, instead of saying ‘It could be worse’, we should start saying, ‘It should be better’. Because when we realise it should be better, we will make other people hear the truth. The truth about rents of £1100: more than the total take home pay of an average earner each month. The truth of council tax that costs close to an entire week’s income, every month. The truth of shops who hike up prices to over double the cost, because they’ve not got competition and because they can. The truth of energy suppliers, who are given a license to steal our money and increase their prices, because no one will stop them. The truth of a government who would have their cronies believe a working family with Tax Credits is playing the system and deserves the same irrational contempt they give someone who isn’t, for whatever reason (and there are many) in work. The truth about media portrayal of the poor, victim shaming and blaming until everyone is too scared to admit the struggle they face, despite being nurses, or office workers, or managers, or shop assistants. The truth that poverty is real, but hidden, and shameful.

So yes, it could be worse. But, for crying out loud, it should be so much better.

If You Need A Gun To Make People Do It Your Way…You’re Doing It Wrong.

If You Need A Gun To Make People Do It Your Way…You’re Doing It Wrong.

In a bit of tremendous foreshadowing, I have a line in my third book:

“It’s naïve to think any peace gained by such means would be a lasting one.  It is like holding someone under the point of your sword, and declaring him willingly obedient, when he is simply too afraid to move.”

The same, I think, works with religion. If you point a semi-automatic weapon at me, and tell me to obey, then I will. I am no hero, for all I would like to be. I have no religion; I am not ashamed, or fundamental, about my Atheism. I think believing in a monotheistic sky-god is weird, but it’s not my choice what you want to believe.

You want to think the son of a god came down from Heaven? Great! You do you, and I will do me (that sounds bad, but we’ll run with it). You want to think there are aliens, or prophets, or a being watching you from the sky? Cool. You think that.

But your beliefs are not mine. They should have exactly zero impact on my life. They should not rule my uterus. I have four surviving children, all grown nicely, thank you, and I did that without religion telling me how to go about it. I have had early miscarriages, and lost a child, late into pregnancy, and I did that just fine without a Bible in my hand. If I found out I was pregnant tomorrow, I would be at the clinic on Monday to deal with it. My husband has had a vasectomy, and I do not want another child.

It is my right to have autonomy over my own body.

Your beliefs have exactly nothing to do with how I live my life.

But, and here’s the thing…I want to live, and let live. I want to enjoy the fact I am a Godless Heathen. I love believing that when I die, I will be dead. There will be no other life. There will be nothing beyond this existence. I will have lived and, much like a hamster, I will have died and be remembered by a few people. In a hundred years, there will be no one speaking my name, and I will be gone. That’s comforting to me. It’s what I believe. I am a card carrying paid up member of the British Humanist Association. My body is going to science. Do not pray over my corpse. Do not throw holy water at me. That is YOUR belief. It’s not mine.

Yet I will go to your funeral. I will bow my head, through your prayers. I will be respectful in your churches, and respect your mosques. I will enter your temple softly, and leave it as I find it. Your beliefs deserve my respect.

And my beliefs bloody well deserve your respect.

You will not find agreement, or belief, by firing guns into a crowd. You will not find converts at sword point. You cannot police the mind, you cannot tell us what to believe. You cannot kill swathes of people, and make us all join you in your demented war against rationality. You cannot make me become like you. You cannot make me think what you want me to think.

Honestly, I think you’re not helping your own cause, really. You want to rule. What you desire has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with belief. It has nothing to do with a ‘Holy War’ or anything ‘Holy’.

Holy is something found when human loves human. When we embrace our world and care for it, and each other.

And peace will never be found at the end of a sword. Submission is not permission. You will not win this war. We don’t believe in you.

We don’t believe in you.

You will not win.