Book Review | The Gilded Cage by Vic James

In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power – and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters – the magical elite – you owe them ten years of service.

Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them.

Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.

This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.

Have a quick ten years. . . .

gilded cage

Free books are my jam (thanks to Sarah from Sarah Withers Blogs for the heads up that this was the iBooks free book of the week) but I don’t expect very much. Which means I’m pleasantly surprised when I become actively invested in them.

The Gilded Cage reminded me in a lot of ways of the Doctor Who episode Turn Left – a dark, alternate parallel of our own world. For most of the characters I either wanted to put them in my pocket to keep them safe or push them off a cliff, but in a chunky number of cases I’m not sure which. There’s magic and rebellion and some REALLY dark politics – for real,  some of the reviews I’ve seen cite the political aspects of the book as a reason they DNF’d it, but take it from someone who will windmill slam a book closed if it gets political and turgid: it’s not anywhere near that bad. Vic James makes it enough to be interesting without it being a slog.

Solid 4/5 stars, with the missing star purely because at some points I didn’t quite jam with the style of writing and the romantic subplot did absolutely nothing for me – but that’s not really the fault of the book, and I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

Rating: ****

Kids TV: the Hall of Fame

Last week, Sean decided to point out I look like Oakey Doke. Fortunately for him, we’ve already put down money on the wedding.

oakie doke

It got us both talking about what programmes we used to watch when we were younger, and we had a great time watching YouTube videos of 90s kids TV shows and reminiscing. My mum used to tape a load of these while I was at nursery. Here are some of the best.

I’m not over the fact that I know people who are younger than most of these, by the way. Stop it.

Balamory

This one is technically after my time, proven after a debate with Sean where he was convinced it was broadcast in the early nineties. (First broadcast in 2002, FYI fact fans.) When my mum worked in early years education we used to record it so she could bring it in for the kids, and we all inevitably ended up watching it from beginning to end.

So innocent and pure. Plus Archie lived in a pink castle, which is the most extra thing I’ve ever seen and I love it.

Come Outside

The Original G. If you didn’t watch this I strongly suggest you find it online and acquaint yourself. Lynda Baron flying around in a spotty plane with a dog? Making up songs about everything? Teaching a generation of children how washing up brushes and teapots are made? Hell yes I’ll come outside, but only if I can hang out with Pippin.

Fireman Sam

I just about choked on my tongue when Sean told me he’d never seen Fireman Sam. He’s always on the scene! How is this possible?

Fireman Sam endures today, but like several kiddie TV shows of years gone by it’s been given the CGI animation treatment. Can someone with kids who’s watched the new ones confirm if Norman is still a little shit?

Fun fact: when I was very small the line “Someone could be in a jam” confused me. I pictures someone stuck inside a jam jar.

Fun fact II: there was an episode where they felled some trees and because I was little I shouted “timla” instead of “timber”. My parents still bring it up.

Camberwick Green

Here is a box. A musical box!

Will it be the excellently- named Windy Miller, owner of yep, you guessed it – the windmill? Or PC McGarry Number Four Five Two? Or probably-wouldn’t-get-away-with-calling-him-that-now Paddy Murphy the baker?

See also: Trumpton (no, not the US) and Chigley for further adventures in the same vein.

Joshua Jones

Now I’m going to hold my hands up here and say that I don’t remember a HUGE amount of significant detail about Joshua Jones. I only ever saw three or four episodes but for some reason the theme tune has stuck with me for 25 years, to the point where I could have sung it for you on demand.

I found the opening credits on YouTube and showed Sean, and he kept saying “I’m SURE I’ve seen this. But I’ve never heard of Joshua Jones! But I recognise that character!”

Eventually it clicked that he’d been watching it in Gaelic. He doesn’t speak Gaelic.

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I have inevitably forgotten a true classic, so please shout at me in the comments with your favourite. Unless it’s Brum. Screw Brum. Creepy cars are not my jam.

Disney music: the PBPR Hall of Fame

Disney is universal. Enchanting to children and adults alike. Setting unrealistic expectations for men. I personally am thoroughly disappointed every time I remember that Sean didn’t morph from a large beast to a man before my very eyes.

A big appeal of the Disney movies is the music. Even if you loathe the films (does anyone?) you can’t deny that the music is incredible. Let’s go on a little adventure through some of the best examples.

Tarzan

First things first: Tarzan is the most underrated Disney film of all time. Tarzan should be on every list for everything. It’s got BRIAN BLESSED in it, for the love of god, why isn’t this film HUGE.

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GO-RI-LLA.

It’s also got my favourite soundtrack. The Phil Collins fandom might the most uncool, but please join me in here, because the music is worthy of inclusion in every Disney playlist.

It’s the best. Fight me.

The Lion King

This doesn’t even need any text.

Mulan

Let’s get down to business. (To defeat…THE HUNS.)

Make A Man Out of You is the obvious classic, but the rest are pretty spot on as well. What do we want? (Reply in the comments or I’ll be sad.)

Oliver and Company

Oliver and Company is great. It’s got dogs, a tiny kitten, all of the above starring in a retelling of Oliver Twist. What’s not to like?

If that wasn’t enough to sway you, the dog version of the Artful Dodger is voiced by Billy Joel. Yep. Plus Better Midler is in it. And Huey Lewis sings the song at the start. YEP.

Moana

Obviously.

As well as being the prettiest of the Disney films, this ramped its way up to number two in my all time favourites list. The soundtrack is QUALITY. It’s got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson singing You’re Welcome. It’s got that weird Shiny song, which didn’t float my boat (heh) at all when I first saw the movie, but it’s grown on me.

This is my favourite, though.

Brave

When you get past the accents of questionable authenticity (“It’s jist ma booooow”) the soundtrack to Brave is AMAZING. I love Julie Fowlis, so imagine how here for Brave I was when I found out she was singing on the soundtrack.

Hercules

Find me a song that’s more fun to belt out than BLESS MY SOUL, HERC IS ON A ROLL, PERSON OF THE WEEK IN EVERY GREEK OPINION POLL. This is Sean’s favourite Disney film, and another one that sadly seems to have slipped into the depths of obscurity compared to some of the others.

Sean will tell me off for not putting Go the Distance in here but I DON’T CARE, the vase/vase line in this makes me laugh.

Movies that I deliberately didn’t feature, before everyone goes “But what about THIS one:

  • Frozen. Overrated.
  • Dumbo. I have a Pavlovian response to Baby Mine in that I crumple into a wreck whenever I hear it.
  • Robin Hood and Pocahontas. NEARLY made it though.
  • Any of the Princessy Classic Ones. Purely because they’ve only got like two songs per movie and that on that basis alone they have flawless soundtracks and it’s not fair.
  • Beauty and the Beast. Forgive me, Angela Lansbury.
  • The Little Mermaid. Forgive me, my sister.

Please flame me and tell me what’s not on here that should be. Thanks!

Top Ten Tuesday: Love Freebie!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is on the theme of “love”, with no restrictions…so for fun I thought I’d find someone I loved and get ten books THEY loved. As Sean and I had a weekend in Derby where he was unable to escape my wheedling, I took the opportunity to make him my special guest.

me and sean

I bent the rules a little and let him pick full series instead of a books in some cases, because he was angsting about it and let’s face it – we all know that pain.

This, therefore, is Sean’s Top Ten Tuesday – his favourite books (or book series) of all time.

White Wolf – David Gemmell

white wolf

“I was recommended both White Wolf and Legend by David Gemmell by a friend at university – whilst both are brilliant, the character of Skilgannon reminded me a lot of Drizzt Do’Urden from Baldur’s Gate, one of my favourite games I played as a kid. The quality of the character development of Skillgannon from start to finish is amazing, and I would recommend picking it up if you haven’t yet.”

Legend – David Gemmell

legend

“While I grew to prefer Skilgannon as a character (compared to Druss in this book), Legend is still a brilliant book with one of the best battle scenes I have ever read.”

The Empire Trilogy – Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

feist

“Feist is probably more well known for the Riftwar Saga book Magician than this duet with Wurts. The depth of the individual characters and the world’s political atmosphere is something very akin to Game of Thrones and having a female protagonist is awesome. The experiences Mara goes through from book to book gripped me and I already want to go back and experience them again.”

Gameplayers – Stephen Bowkett

gameplayers 2

(This is the book that I tracked down and bought for Sean for Christmas – find out more about that here! – Kirsty)

“Out of all of the books on the list, Gameplayers is probably the least technically well written – but it still appeals to me, pure because of the nostalgia. I first read the book when I was around the same age as the characters and found myself going through lots of similar experiences that John went through. It also led me to loving RPG games and trying to play Dungeons & Dragons with people when I could. I’m still trying to D&D today!”

Riftwar Saga – Raymond E. Feist

magician

“My grandad Adrian knows of my love of high fantasy and one night in 2005, while my family were visiting, he asked if I had read Raymond E Feist’s Magician. I said no, and that weekend we went out and I got a copy. Before I had travelled home, I had read the entire book, and already bought Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon on Amazon. From there I was hooked on Feist. Whilst Kirsty has issues getting into High Fantasy, i love losing myself in 6 pages picturing the fjord around me.”

(This is one of my biggest bugbears with high fantasy – yes I’m sure that’s a pretty hill and you’ve described it wonderfully and I know that the setting in a lot of stories is a character in its own right but come on.)

The Two Towers – JRR Tolkien

the two towers

“I’ve always favoured the Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Events of Helms Deep and since the first book is primarily two chapters of Tom Bombadil and lots of character development and Frodo whining, i found it to be the perfect balance of building up to the events of the third book and having enough context to keep me gripped.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

azkaban

“It’s time to admit it, Sirius Black is a man-crush i had throughout Prisoner of Azkaban similar to those man-crushes people supposedly had on Keifer Sutherland when he did 24. Things just kicked off straight from the start in this book, and its always been my favourite in the series.”

Talon of the Silverhawk – Raymond E. Feist

silverhawk

“Talon of the Silverhawk was the final Feist book I really enjoyed – I finished the full Conclave of Shadows saga, but as I got through each book I started to find them harder to read. There are three books that Feist wrote that I’d love to see as a film or series and those are the three in this list. Talon was just sufficiently distancing from the ever present story surrounding Pug and I enjoyed the aspect of how Talon grows from the start of the book.”

The Hunger Games trilogy

hunger games

“The first non-High Fantasy book/series on this list! i picked them up before I had a long weekend from work, and by the time I had to go back all three books were finished. Out of the three, the second book was my favourite. The games like a clock was just such a cool system that I have to give a nod to it.”

The Goosebumps series

goosebumps

“The Goosebumps books my brother’s, but I read them all as I grew up. They are aimed at young teens, so obviously the writing style is focused at that, and they aren’t the type of book I’d be looking to go back and read now as i’m in my mid 20’s (mumble mumble…. 29) but I wanted to capture my full reading history on this list. These were essentially an introduction to reading for me, and they mean a lot to me.

SEAN’S HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Narnia – C.S Lewis

Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

Romance of the Three Kingdoms – Luo Guanzhong

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In case it’s not obvious, I’m marrying a big fantasy nerd. Thanks Sean!

Lessons from my mother.

It’s my mum’s birthday today! Normally on these occasions people post some poetic quotes on Facebook, perhaps on top of a picture of a Minion. Or just a paragraph on how much they love their mother. Maybe a card or a text message if they’re not into their social media.

Surprise! My glass heart rejects any overt emotional display, so I’m not going to do that. Aside from the card. I’m not a total animal.

I have a feeling that, having kept her questionably competent daughter alive for 26 years, my mum would prefer if I shared some of the most important (or at least memorable) things that I’ve picked up from her in my lifetime.

In fact, I think she’d like it about as much as she likes cake.

maw

Mummy Mac’s Life Lessons

You have to be able to taste the gin in a gin and tonic

If you’ve ever had a drink mixed by my mother, you’ll know this one first hand. She once complained to the dude giving out samples in Malaga airport because there wasn’t enough gin in her G&T. It was 8am.

I left.

The wine buying priority goes percentage -> price -> anything else

I am frequently caught looking like the world’s biggest jake in the supermarket. If you see someone methodically turning round bottles of Pinot Grigio in the wine aisle, it’s going to be someone in my family. Take your bets on which one!

The horn in the car is not just to alert other drivers to your presence

Let me take this opportunity to apologise to my driving instructor if he reads this, because I have – whether through genetics or social conditioning – adopted my mother’s attitude. Someone cuts you up at a roundabout? Horn. Someone pulls out of a junction a little too close to you? Horn. Someone generally being a dick on the road? Yep. I’ve been in the car with my mother and she’s overtaken someone driving obnoxiously slowly with her hand on the horn the whole way.

Never trust a driver in a flat cap and a Volvo

I think she got this one from her driving instructor. I’ve never actually come across a flat cap wearing Volvo driver, so I can’t vouch for the integrity of their driving, but every time I see someone in a Volvo I automatically double check their headwear. Just in case.

You shouldn’t kill insects when they come into the house

You have to understand what an internal struggle this is. I’m entomophobic to the highest degree. The only insects I can tolerate are flies and occasionally wasps. Anything else turns me into a weeping snotty mess.

My mother has drilled into me that it’s cruel to kill them, which makes me feel an enormous amount of guilt when my first reaction is to get the Dyson, attach the longest selection of cleaning tools I have and suck the offending beastie up. Now I usually get Sean to get rid of them. Or whichever of my friends happens to be coming round.

I’m not entirely sure Mummy Mac’s approach of “trap them carefully under a glass, carry them gently to the upstairs window and lob them out” is any more humane, but I’ll humour her.

The Eighties were the peak of music

If I’m ever looking for a decent playlist with very few songs I’ll need to skip on it, I’m almost definitely going to the 80s. Much like the car horn thing, I’m not sure if this is something I’m genetically engineered to enjoy or if I’ve been carefully trained through years of background music, but now that I’m in my 20s we both love an 80s night.

Unless they play Come On Eileen. I have never seen anyone have a reaction as visceral to a song as my mum does to Come On Eileen.

Happy birthday Mummy Mac – you’ve taught me everything I know to be a slightly functioning adult. Especially when it comes to alcohol.

me and maw

Life update: not dead, ate potatoes.

Remember when I was ill earlier in the week? I’m still ill. At least now I feel like a human being and I’m eating plain cooked pasta and mashed potato like it’s the best thing on the planet. It’s so boring. I crave sauce.

Tomorrow is First Day At New Job Take Two, since I had to call in sick on Tuesday (which should have been my first day) and then push the start date back by a full week, much to my eternal shame. It was, however, a good decision, considering I haven’t eaten any real food for a whole week and spent several days wishing for death.

The most exciting day was Friday (Saturday?) –  I ended up reluctantly going to A&E after seven hours of chest pains that Gaviscon, indigestion tablets, ginger ale, milk, water, ice, painkillers and making myself throw up failed to conquer. I was there for four hours, during which time:

  • I was told I probably had indigestion (I nearly melted away from shame)
  • I spent a lot of time on my own on a trolley, because I told Sean I wouldn’t be long and to just wait for me in the reception. HA.
  • Some absolute rocket was going off his head at everything. The doctors, the fact that he was in hospital, the fact that he had to get a blood test, the fact that the blood test hurt, the fact that his wife (I presume it was his wife?) wouldn’t let him go home…Terry, u ok hun?
  • I had a bunch of tests, and was given my own “personalised bracelet”. This was suspicious, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was deficient in just about everything, so I thought maybe they were going to hard reset me with a drip and send me on my way.

band

  • Was told that my liver something gall bladder something in my blood test was elevated, and they were going to keep me in for observation.
  • Five minutes later I was told that after speaking to the surgeon (THE SURGEON, I’m thinking in alarm, I thought I had indigestion?) he was happy for me to go home.
  • Five minutes later the surgeon called the nice doctor back and said he wanted to come down and speak to me.
  • Eventually managed to escape after being lined up for a high priority MRI scan at some point to double check I haven’t grown a cheeky wee gallstone in the past three month.

My life is WILD. Imagine what I’ll get up to when I can do things like “stand up” and  “leave the house”.

We’ll find out tomorrow. Hopefully. Please.

 

I am so miserable, please send me ice lollies.

This week was going to be so good. I had a load of blog posts scheduled, I’d started writing a couple of other things, I’d had a good weekend away in Derby, I was ready for my first day at my new job…

Within a couple of hours of being home on Monday night, I was horizontal turned into the worst stomach bug I have had for about fifteen years. This morning I really wanted someone to come and put me down. It’s horrendous.

I suspect norovirus, but I’m not allowed to confirm with the doctor or mix with the general population. Probably just as well as everyone I see is starting to morph into walking chicken drumsticks, like in a cartoon.

I am SO hungry.

So yeah, I had to push start date of new job back after calling in sick on what should have been my first day. I’ve had to abandon my first week of a concrete streaming schedule because I can hardly stand up and look like death awoken. I haven’t been able to go and visit my granny because I’m Patient Zero. I haven’t eaten for four days, and for someone who’s obsessed with food this is the worst.

The only point of this post is because I’m feeling sorry for myself and I’ve bored Sean to death already by telling him every ten minutes how hungry I am and how miserable I am and how terrible I feel. Normal service will resume soon. In the meantime, please send me ice lollies and anything else that won’t turn me inside out when I eat it. Thank you very much.

bbe
The medical care has been top quality, however.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

I feel like I’ve mentioned most of these before, which gives you some idea of how miserably extensive my TBR list is. Maybe I’ll get so sick of myself that I’ll do something about it. Advance!

Wing Jones – Katherine Webb

wing jones

The fact that I’m putting this on a TBR list AGAIN brings me skin-crawling shame. I’ve had this since the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and its sprayed edges keep looking at me from the cabinet in the living room. Once I’ve read The Fandom, Wing Jones. I promise.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Bought Six of Crows before going to Florida last year, got about five pages in on the red eye flight home and fell asleep after a gin and a dose of Kalms. I will read it again without any of these factors in the mix and hopefully stay conscious.

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.indd

This is one of my two longest-standing TBR books. I picked this up with Orangeboy and The Hate U Give, read THUG and then never quite got round to starting the other two. Oops.

Orangeboy – Patrice Lawrence

orangeboy

See above.

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo AND The Complete Fiction of HP Lovecraft

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Look at the cover of that Lovecraft anthology. Every time I pick it up to read it I end up staring at it instead.

Sean bought me that glorious hardback edition of Les Mis for a birthday present after he saw me eyeing it up. This means it looks really pretty in the bookcase, where it’s been sitting ever since. Multiple people have told me it’s even more of an experience than the musical, so I really have no excuse.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

wuthering heights

I always felt like a horrible English student because I couldn’t stand the “classics”. I found them chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read. In my old age (ha) I’m finding that I too am chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read, and therefore I’m more inclined to give them another go.

Doctor Sax – Jack Kerouac

doctor sax

I don’t even remember buying this, but I loved On The Road (see last week’s TTT) so I’m assuming that was my motivation. Kerouac is one of my favourite writers, so I know this is going to be good…I just wish I didn’t keep forgetting I actually own it.

Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

tender is the night

Similarly, I’m fairly sure I bought this because I loved The Great Gatsby, but have not read.

I must stop doing this.

 

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

am i normal yet

I’ve never read any Holly Bourne books. Grab your pitchforks. Then chase me into a shop and force me to buy it without being distracted by notebooks and shiny covers. Thanks!

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Is there a support group for people like me? Cause I think I need one.

Being Excellent.

I thought about this post while I was lying on a trolley in the hall of my local leisure centre, with a tube and a tourniquet. The man next to me called it a “civic duty”.

It’s not a duty. You don’t HAVE to give blood. Some people can’t, for reasons medical or arbitrary. But it is a good thing to do, and I can do it.

I’ve become more aware over the past twelve months of my own incredibly fortunate position. I’m white, able-bodied, financially comfortable. I live in Scotland which is a pretty swell place to be at the moment. I own my own house and drive my own car. I was able to walk away from a job that was damaging my mental health without any financial repercussions. I don’t face any discrimination for my religious beliefs or sexuality. Privilege seems to be a dirty word right now, but I’m not too dumb to recognise my own, and the more I do the more I feel like I have to give something back.

Maybe it is a duty, after all.

If you’re in the same position I am, here are some of the things you can do to be an all-round swell human being.

Give blood

I’ve already said that some people are excluded from this, but if you can, you should. It’s painless, they take a TINY bagful and I’ve never seen anybody pass out dramatically in a sports hall. Worst that’ll happen is you’ll be tired and have a slight headache. Go in the evening and then sleep it off. You’ll save a life.

You can learn more here, or here if you’re in Scotland.

Join the organ donor register

This one is EASY. You don’t even have to do anything except fill in a tiny form and then tell your loved ones that you’ve done it. The rest happens after you die. It might actually be the least amount of effort required to do anything ever. I’ve had naps that were more taxing.

You can learn more here.

Donate to your local food bank

Yes, we shouldn’t have food banks. The sad fact is that we do, and people rely on them. a A lot of supermarkets have donation points and when I go shopping, I like to buy two or three things to throw in. Doesn’t have to be food, and trust me, EVERYBODY buys tins. Go for something else. UHT milk. Toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo. Condiments. Tea and coffee. Biscuits.

And actually, while we’re on the subject:

Donate sanitary products to your local food bank.

Surprise! Food banks don’t just give out food. Period poverty is real, people, and take it from me: those are NOT something you can go without. AT ALL. EVER. They’re not a luxury. Please throw some Always in there. Do it for me.

Support small content creators

So YouTube recently (I suspect in response to the Logan Paul shitshow) changed the goalposts for the criteria YouTubers were required to meet in order to monetise their channels. This means that for a lot of smaller content creators,

A lot of people make videos because they’re passionate about what they’re talking about. A lot do it because they love the community and want to be part of it. But for some it is an income source and one that makes a big difference, so to have that suddenly cut off is a big deal.

So whatever your hobby is, be it books, games, competitive llama grooming, whatever it is, I guarantee that there are a bunch of smaller, hobbyist YouTubers making videos purely for the love. Step outside the big guns and look for some of them. You’ll never find a more enthusiastic, unconditional community.

Review something

I don’t mean start a blog and start waxing lyrical about books. Literally take a minute or two to give a book you loved or a game you played for hours or a really cool artist a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or Etsy. It’s the easiest (and most valuable) way to give something back to a crea

If you have them on Twitter, drop them a note as well telling them! I’m not even an author and every time someone tells me they look forward to reading my posts I get a warm fuzzy feeling that melts my cynical heart.

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What have I missed? What else can I be doing to give something back? Let me know in the comments!

Time to Talk: about triggers.

Today is Time to Talk Day, a day for everyone – not just those who struggle – to talk about mental health. On the table: one of my personal bugbears, trigger warnings.

For a start, if you haven’t already, try this article from The Atlantic that circulated a few years ago. In relation to the increasing use of trigger warnings on content that might be uncomfortable, it claims that:

A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.

To this I say: bollocks.

student

Let’s get this out of the way first: there is a difference between something being a trigger and something making you uncomfortable. I have a Twitter account, I can’t help but see some amount of trash online every day that makes me very uncomfortable.

I’m not triggered.

Remember when you learned about the First World War in school? Shell shock? Reactions to loud noises? Yup. PTSD. Sexual assault. Violence. Accidents. Anxiety symptoms. Flashbacks. Panic attacks. Triggers.

When I was fourteen years old I had a mental breakdown. Around the same time I watched The Exorcist and my warped, malfunctioning brain led one into the other, crashing down around me, until any reference to the film was enough to give me a serious case of The Anxieties.

Tubular Bells? I’m leaving the room. GIF of creepy girl vomiting that weird green crap all over the priest? Probably going to cry. Even saying the title dried my mouth out faster than a nasty hangover.

imagesEven searching for that picture still makes me vaguely uneasy.

For me, it was relatively easy to avoid anything that was going to trigger this reaction, as it was unlikely I was going to bump into Linda Blair in Tesco shopping for crucifixes and pea soup. But things like sexual assault and violence that are becoming more of a talking point – the #MeToo movement, for example – and it’s becoming increasingly easy to stumble across something that can cause a similar reaction in people who’ve had a traumatic experience.

Trigger warnings are there to give people a warning, an opportunity to prepare themselves, a chance to make sure they’re going to be OK.

They’re not an easy way out, an excuse to coddle a bunch of millennials into avoiding things they think might be difficult, creating a society of easily-offended cotton wool fluffs.

lamb

You wouldn’t laugh at someone who served in active combat for suffering from anxiety and flashbacks if a car backfires in their street. If you agree with that but in the same breath accuse a sexual assault survivor of being soft because they want the option to avoid or be aware of something that might cause them distress then you have problems I’m not even sure I can be bothered to unpick.

Putting warnings on things isn’t a sign of a soft society, it’s a sign of an educated one. We know that some things have an adverse reaction on peoples’ physical health, we know that some things have an adverse reaction on peoples’ mental health. It’s like saying “well you shouldn’t have allergy warnings on food”.

I’d like to invite anyone who thinks that to come and look after me when I’ve accidentally eaten something with gluten in it.

You can, of course, argue that some allergies are fatal. Guess what? Bad mental health days are fatal too. Suicide kills more people every day than anaphylaxia. The fact that we aren’t treating them equally as seriously is a sign that that we still have miles to go.

robot

In conclusion, don’t laugh at trigger warnings. Don’t take the piss. Don’t slam your hands on the table and claim you’ve been triggered because you disagree with something. Don’t be an ass. Don’t do it.

Since it’s Time to Talk Day, DO: talk about mental health, ask your friends how they’re doing, share this post if you think I’m making a modicum of sense.

It’s mental health, my dudes. It’s a big deal.

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If you want to read an awesome YA book on PTSD and what triggers can actually do, let me point you in the direction of The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.

The Impossible Knife of Memory

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