Stewart Lee on Ricky Gervais

My favourite comedian isn’t pulling any punches.

[Jeremy Clarkson’s and Boris Johnson’s] careers have flourished by exploiting the notion that they are lone voices of sanity against a politically correct snowflake cabal intent on silencing normal blokes like them. Their comedy counterpart Ricky Gervais has managed to monetise this notion spectacularly, saying the things that he is apparently not allowed to say, on a variety of global media platforms, for millions of dollars, with the full co-operation and approval of the legal representatives of the institutions on which, and about which, he says the things he is not allowed to say, his functionally adequate standup act having been overpromoted worldwide off the back of his pitch-perfect contribution to the ground-breaking Office sitcom two decades ago.

“Forgive yourself. Every goddamn day.”

Over at Ask Polly, Heather Havrilesky responds to a reader who’s finding it hard to find joy any more. 

Engage with this crisis instead of trying to cut it off. Let these feelings in instead of blaming yourself for them. Be more patient with your own sadness. And look for joy everywhere you can, every day, from the first hour you’re awake until the moment you fall asleep. Stop torturing yourself and make joy the first priority of every single day. I know I’m a broken record on that front, but it’s honestly the one clear and solid contribution I feel I have to make to this world: reminding people that just enjoying yourself is important. It matters.

Christmas wishes

As someone wrote in a song:

I hope you have a good one; I hope your Christmas is fun
I hope you’re with your family and there’s something for you under the tree
And I hope you thank your lucky stars

I’m thanking my lucky stars this year: in the run-up to Christmas I’ve been able to spend time with people I care about very much, and after a couple of very difficult years I’m looking forward to spending Christmas Day with my children and close family.

Others, I know, are not so fortunate. Some of us will be mourning loved ones they’ve lost, or that they’re estranged from; some will be gritting their teeth to spend time with people who won’t accept them for who they are.

If you’re one of those people, I hope the coming year brings you joy, joy that’s bigger and more powerful than any of the sadness you’ve experienced. If you’ve been rejected, I hope you find the chosen family who can give you the love you so richly deserve. You might not know them yet, but they’re out there. And if you’re one of the people who’s caused or contributed to others’ sadness, I hope 2020 fills you with the love and empathy you lack.

Merry Christmas.

C x

I think this means I’m a toddler

It’s time for my annual joke: every queen should have two birthdays. Today is my second one of the year, because I legally became Carrie two years ago.

It feels much longer than two years, and sometimes I feel like this.

(click for full size image)

But more often, I feel blessed. This isn’t an easy road to walk but life is good. I’m happy. And that’s largely because of the people I spend my time with.

I feel blessed to know so many wonderful, beautiful, kind and hilarious humans, many of whom I didn’t know before I became me. They have made me feel happy, made me feel safe, and made me shoot expensive gin out of my nose.

I hope they, and you, have a very happy and joyful 2020 when it comes.

As for me, I’m going to the pub soon. After all, it is my birthday.

Support this crowdfunding campaign to help women

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and Rape Crisis Scotland needs your money. Please donate if you can: it’s an essential and desperately underfunded service. The stories being shared by the @rapecrisisscot Twitter account are heartbreaking.

On a typical day across Scotland this year over one thousand survivors of sexual violence are waiting for specialist support from Rape Crisis Centres.

The wait can be excruciating; the support is described as lifesaving.

Frozen 2 is very beautiful

I took the kids to see Frozen 2 today and had an unexpectedly brilliant time. The film’s a ton of fun, particularly so in 4DX when your seats move and you get sprayed with compressed air and water. 4DX is ridiculously expensive but hugely entertaining.

if you’re going to go, try and see it in 3D. It’s a very beautiful film, and the way it uses 3D is often breathtaking.

Why we remember

It’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) today, the day when the trans community and our allies mourn the deaths of people killed because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.

2019 isn’t over yet but so far 331 trans people have been murdered, hanged or lynched. Those are just reported and recorded crimes; the real number is higher.

I’m lucky to live in a relatively safe part of the world: just one trans woman was murdered in the UK for being trans this year. In the US, where “trans panic” – “I discovered she was trans and I was so upset I stabbed her 27 times in self-defence” – is still a legal defence against murder in many states, there were 30 murders. In Brazil, there were 130.

I’m not a black, poor trans woman in North or South America, so my life expectancy isn’t 35. But just because “only” one trans woman was murdered in the UK doesn’t mean that people don’t die here because of fear, intolerance and hatred of trans people – although inevitably the bigots claim exactly that, while dismissing TDOR with uncanny impressions of the men who ask “but when’s international men’s day?” on International Women’s Day. We have many days to remember and raise awareness of violence against women, so for example International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is next week; the bigots are well aware of that but pretend otherwise.

You don’t need to be murdered to die because you’re trans. For example, trans people are more likely to be homeless than cisgender people. They are more likely to be forced into sex work, to be exploited. If a homeless trans person freezes to death or or if a trans sex worker dies of a drug overdose, it isn’t murder. But they’re still dead.

And then there are the lives we lose to suicide. Trans people kill themselves because they feel they can’t come out. They kill themselves when the years on waiting lists become too much to bear. And sometimes they kill themselves post-transition because while transition may fix your body, it doesn’t fix the world around you. That world is often hateful, and not everybody is strong enough to endure it.

Here in Scotland, the LGBT groups from the main political parties have released a joint statement to mark TDOR.

…visibility cannot be conflated with progress when it also makes you a visible target for abuse. For the last two years, the UK media coverage surrounding the Gender Recognition Act’s reform has concentrated on rights outwith the remit of the legalisation itself. Trans people have had hard-earned rights endowed by the Equality Act 2010 brought into question. For many trans people, it has felt as though the very foundations of their daily lives are being pulled from under their feet.

Here’s former Times editor Katherine O’Donnell.

Trans people are less than 0.5 per cent of the population but face overwhelming levels of hate and violence.

Here in the UK, some politicians, journalists and others with influential public platforms seek openly to take away the trans population’s legal protections. In Scotland, MSPs Joan McAlpine and Jenny Marra had chosen today to invite to the Scottish Parliament speakers who agitate against the human rights of trans people and call us parasites and perverts.

The event has been postponed but the intentions of these members of the SNP and Scottish Labour are plain.

The consequences of preaching hatred and division, of stripping away legal protections are greater discrimination and violence. The evidence for that is written ultimately in the hundreds of murders we remember, the suicides, the beatings, the healthcare, housing and work denied, the bullying and the daily anxiety.

I speak now directly to those journalists and politicians here in Scotland who have given platforms and lent credence to the ideas that propagate this hatred.

What you are doing is wrong and the consequences are real and terrible.

I see you. We see you.

Stop this today.

Sheep laughs

The kids and I went to see the new Shaun The Sheep film, Farmageddon, today. It’s warm, wonderful, and very British – in the best possible sense of the word. I laughed even more than my kids did.

Lipstick for singers who want the stick to stay stuck

I know what you’ve been thinking. “Carrie,” you’ve been thinking. “All this politics stuff is all very right-on, but where’s the #relateable #content? Why can’t you blog about interesting things, like how to find lipstick that doesn’t make you look like Robert Smith from The Cure’s granny?”

This post’s for you.

One of the things I have to think about now I’m back doing music is whether my lipstick will end up all over my face when I sing in my band. Some singers stand back a bit from the microphone, but I’m not one of those singers – so if I use anything more interesting than a nude colour, I end up looking like a messier version of this:

We did some promo photos recently before rehearsing and I went for a pretty dark colour; after a few hours of singing afterwards I looked like a toddler who’d got into their mum’s makeup bag and also made a lot of really bad life choices.

I’ve been trying to find something a bit less frightening for a while, and thanks to a recommendation on Twitter by National columnist, genuinely nice person and rocker of superb lipsticks Kirsty Strickland, I tried this stuff:

It’s called Superstay 24 Matte Ink, it’s by Maybelline, it’s currently 3 for 2 in Boots and it’s brilliant. I can get through three hours of mauling the mic without moving a single molecule of it, and it’s so tough that it might be the only thing left after a nuclear war: we might end up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but at least we’d look pretty fierce.

It’s not perfect. It feels tacky on your lips – you know how gloss paint feels when you touch it and it’s almost but not quite dry, and you leave a fingerprint? That – and the darker colours are a nightmare to get off when you’re tired and just want to go to bed. It’s also a menace to fix if you get your line wrong.

But if like me you’re all over the mic when you perform and you’d rather not end up looking like a bad hallowe’en costume, or if you’d just like to go for a night out without having to reapply every half hour, it’s worth the downsides. This lipstick stays stuck.

Voter ID: a solution that doesn’t work for a problem we don’t have

To paraphrase Mrs Merton: what first atttracted the Conservative government to voter ID, a scheme that would stop many non-Tory voters from voting?

After an unsuccessful attempt to introduce it in 2017, voter ID is back! Back! BACK! This version is slightly more sensible than Theresa May’s version from two years ago (unlike May’s proposals it has plans to try and address postal fraud too), but it suffers from the same fundamental flaw: voter ID is a solution that doesn’t work for a problem that we don’t have.

We have a problem with election rigging in the UK, but it isn’t happening in person at ballot boxes. It’s happening in campaigns that flout electoral law with little regard for the consequences, and on the ground it’s happening with postal voting. Voter ID doesn’t affect either of those things.

The number of people prosecuted for the offence of personation in 2017 was 1.

The number of people in the UK without photo ID is 3.5 million.

We know voter ID disenfranchises people, because we already have it in the UK: it’s part of the Northern Irish political system, and it disenfranchised 1/10th of the electorate. That’s with the same system the UK government is proposing here, where photo ID will be available for free (when you’re poor, £43 for a driving licence or £85 for a passport is a lot of money). In the UK’s trials of voter ID so far, significant numbers of people were denied a vote. When some majorities can be as small as two, every vote matters.

Voter ID being sold as a solution to a problem that we do not have, but the government doesn’t want it because it believes it’ll stop one or two people from committing personation. It wants it because voter ID reduces the number of people who vote, and those people tend to be the ones who don’t vote for right-wing parties. That’s why it’s a favoured tactic of the Republican Party in the US, which the UK Conservative party increasingly resembles.