Donating – A Quick Update

First off, a massive thank you to everyone who has given me monetary donations to support some of the, quite frankly, kooky writing I do, even though no one ever really asked for it. Mumma B is baffled (really; she often asks me what people are on).

While I was always aware of the fees incurred by the Buy Me a Coffee (BMC) website/platform, aka the money they take out of your donations as admin, I wasn’t quite aware of the competitive alternatives.

After conducting research, I’ve decided (at least for now) to switch my funding platform to Ko-fi. Unlike BMC, Ko-fi doesn’t charge fees for handling donations (the company make their money from users paying for “gold” subscriptions and hahahaha if they think I’m going to be doing that anytime soon!)

This is why the link at the bottom of my posts will now refer to Ko-fi.

On Ko-fi I still pay PayPal fees, but no platform costs = more money for moi. Understood? Great.

Look! I even recycled this super high-brow video to convince would-be donors who happen on my funding page:

I used to dabble in video editing/production back when I was at University, you know? No, really, I did. I used to love meddling about with film equipment, me. And, even after all these years, I think it really shows. #TeamWindowsMovieMaker

(Even if you don’t watch the video, the thumbnail should sell my charity case by itself.)

Again, this doesn’t diminish what I’ve been donated so far. I’d rather be given £1 on BMC than nothing at all. My BMC page will continue to exist and if you have a burning desire to donate there instead, a) might want to get that checked out, but in all seriousness, b) go ahead.

As per usual a quick update has turned into me rambling and now I’m telling you to get that rash looked at by a doctor. Wonderful.

Oh and PS, in return I’m going to start making a point of thanking people for donations – on social media, possibly here if source material gets tight (it’s a wonder to us all that a year into a pandemic I’m still finding shizz to type about). If you’re a bit shy you can always donate anonymously. (You’ll be like the secret valentine I never had.)

Argh, going off topic again! In short, give me your money and give it to me on Ko-fi. Thanks!

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Ko-fi (Formerly Buy Me a Coffee)

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Why Alice is *Still* Single…Probably

Candles, erosion excitement and a scurvy-inducing diet, we’ve got all the reasons (and more) why I’ve quite possibly still yet to become one half of a “smug couple”.

Why Alice is Still Single…Probably

First Things First

  • I can’t help that a pandemic happened.
  • I don’t proactively choose to shun humans (Yeah, I’ll call up my insurance firm now. “Hello, I’d like to record my profession as ‘Aspirational Spinster’ please? What do you mean, that’ll increase my premium?”)
  • Although, for the benefit of reassurance, I am attracted to humans.

(But I am also attracted to that part of YouTube.)

I’ve Made My Memory Foam Bed, and it Serves me Well

I live where I live and do what I do. And before you give me that Sliding Doors baloney, “if only you’d taken that fictional job somewhere else, then maybe things would be different”, I mean, sure but…

A) Not God.

B) There are loads of amazing things I’d have missed out on.

C) I lived in London for a year and guess what? Despite getting my bag stuck in the Tube countless times and missing countless more trains altogether, John Hannah still didn’t show up and I’m still not Gwyneth Paltrow.

(But at least my accent isn’t that grating.)

My Cooking is Beyond Questionable

Case in point, I routinely eat leftover Chinese with pasta. I call it “East Meets West” (no, really, I do).

I know what you’re thinking and yes, I am the kind of girl who brings a stapler and a rack of business cards to dinner (and you thought the Chinese was hot stuff).

As a rule of thumb, the dishes I cook involve three ingredients. E.g. scrambled eggs: eggs (no milk), bread, butter for bread. Soup: tin of soup, bread, butter for bread. Chips, fish fingers, peas.

I also routinely snack on dry cream crackers.

#NoShame

I’m Not in the Market of Being Someone I’m Not

I’m so out of habit with makeup I barely wear it nowadays. The idea of putting all this stuff on my face to create something to satisfy everyone but me just doesn’t do anything for me (you can’t see your own face after all).

Looking at this from a positive angle, this is presently the worst I’m ever going to get:

*Well, excluding when I’m chilling out in the back of Shoreditch clubs.

Moving on…

Everything Excites Me…But Men

Things like having David Nicholls, author of One Day, like my Tweet:

(Reason .5 for staying single – I like using words like golly)

I also like seeing the effects of coastal erosion on tiny pebbles:

Longshore drift is a thing y’all.

Even these socks with one of my favourite Picasso paintings, they got me excited:

I didn’t even care they only were available in a men’s size. Why? Because I’m now the proud owner of Picasso socks. Duh.

It doesn’t take much to get me excited, but on the downside, it doesn’t take much to get me excited. I don’t need a guy to be the *sole* provider of my joy…unless you have Picasso socks. And yes, pun intended.

I Have Awesome Friends

Doesn’t everyone bring hand sanitiser and a banking card reader to their girls’ night in calls?

Granted, things are a smidge surreal at the moment, but I still have my girl (and guy) friends. And if I can’t meet up with them in real life, I still can connect with them digitally.

Dressing up and dancing around my bedroom, it’s like the teenage years I never had. Back when I was too busy wearing jeans and playing about with hair straighteners and knives.

Oh, Cotswolds, you do crack me up.

Nb, that was taken on my eighteenth birthday. Disney need to do a rerun of that film, 13 Going on 30.

We’ll call it 30 Going on 13, and it’ll be 90 minutes of me struggling to comprehend water installations in urban environments:

Ten years on and I’m still trying to work them out.

Hmm, I think we’ve gone a bit off topic somewhere around here. What were we discussing, again? Oh yeah, why I’m single.

Me, Myself and I; We’ve got Our Own Thaang Going on

*cough*

This is How I Dress

This is How I React to Confusing Things

I Already Have an Interim Solution, and it’s a Candle

I can’t quite fathom how Glade have done this, but I swear this candle smells like a ‘best of’ man collection. It’s kinda musky and has a nice cologne-like secondary smell. I think it’s a honey and chocolate combo.

I can’t share the smell, but trust me, it’s solid. And no, I’m not backing down on this.

And Then There Are the Creeps

Ooh! Bear with, just got a new match.

Right, let’s open this up…

Ah.

In Summary

Your best bet is to cook me something with four ingredients, invest in quirky socks and dip yourself in molten wax.

Guess what? I’m eighteen years old in that one too.

I need to get into teen movies. Where is my non-existent agent?

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Working From Home, Day 330: The Cat Hates Me

This one goes out to everyone powering through a seemingly unending home working setup, whilst having to share with others who are perhaps less understanding.

Yes, I’m talking about our pets.

It starts innocently enough, like this:

Discovering that the traditional ‘chair hop’ approach wasn’t getting perhaps the desired result, Squeak starts trying on some new moves. Well, I say new moves, it involves her sticking her bum in my face and using my torso as a multi-level way to easily climb down.

Then all hell breaks loose.

This continuously carries on until, weeks and weeks later, I’m tipped over the edge of breaking point.

She’s totally the only reason I’ve started taking to wearing a dressing gown around the house all day. Nope, sure as heck nothing to do with anything else, I’m as sane as a…drain?

(Oh, and before you ask, I have no idea what I say at the end either. Let’s just settle with ‘generic old woman grumblings’.)

So, to ensure any work gets done we’re had to reach an uneasy compromise. It looks something like this.

FYI if anyone is on the receiving end of a questionable email or ‘jdfsklfdivl’ (or similar); the cat made me do it.

That said, I am becoming increasingly aware of how much sensitive information my cat has access to.

She’s also taken to passing judgement it, too.

If looks could provide constructive feedback…

As home working is likely to be a major factor in working life both now and possibly into the longer term, Squeak and I are just going to have to work things out between us. Not that I’m comparing a family pet to that of a human child, but I’ve discovered this tactic of distraction (using a personal laptop) works surprisingly well.

(Just sayin’)

And if all else fails? Well, if you can’t beat them…

…Turn them into free blog/social media content.

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Cheers To The Happy Couple

For the lockdown marriage of one of my mates (remember Woman on The Verge of a Birthday Breakdown?) the groom’s sister asked everyone to record a video message to send to the happy couple.

“Sure!” I thought, “this’ll be easy. I can be classy and endearing at the same time, that’s totally me!”

Then again, this is also me:

Several glasses of prosecco down (you’ve got to get into the party vibes with this sort of thing), I set up my phone and filmed this.

“I mean, it’s something,” I mused whilst watching it back. “Not sure what that something is, but it’s that. Hmm, maybe I’ll do a second take, just in case.”

And then the cat came along…

It was a tough call between the two but ultimately I knew which one I was going to send over.

Yes, I sent the cat video.

(Jess, I hope you and Dave had a lovely wedding day. See you on the other side when we can properly celebrate. x)

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A Very 2020 Take on the 1974 UK General Election

While the rest of the country flipped out over Covid for the billionth time that year, my sister and I chose to spend one particular Saturday night watching the high-quality coverage of the 1974 General Election.

No, I’m not joking.

One day we’ll look back on things like this and go, “yes, we really were living life to the best when in our 20s.”

(By the way, we shouted “PHONE!” When the phone was heard ringing in the studio. It’s not quite audible on the playback and I’d hate my reputation to be damaged by this one element.)

Spoilers: Harold Wilson of the Labour Part won a majority of three seats and took over from Ted Heath’s Conservative-led government (I may have Googled that – even I couldn’t face staying up until 12:45am).

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Born on This Day: Lin Biao, Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party

Happy birthday Lin Biao! Born 5th December 1907

Lin Biao was the Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1966 until 1971 and was instrumental in laying the foundations for Mao Zedong’s Cult of Personality (fuelled by “The Little Red Book”). This Cult became a dominant feature underpinning the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.

Ironically, the Cult and Lin’s subsequent rise in power deeply unsettled Chairman Mao, in fact Lin would later face severe criticism from within the ruling Communist Party for being the sole cause behind the reckless cultural destruction inflicted by the youthful Red Army in the 1960s.

By 1971 Lin had fallen from favour, putting him and close supporters at risk. After an alleged assassination attempt on Mao failed, Lin was in the process of fleeing China that same year when his plane crashed just off the Russian border, killing all those on board (including his family). It was reported nationally at the time that this was due to his plane running out of fuel, however due to the nature of Lin’s political decline and the secrecy of the Communist state, the true cause of death is still speculated to this day.

Huh, now we know. So, tune in next year for another edition of “Born on this Day”!

(Oh, and happy birthday to me too.)

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Be Right Back – Quick Update

For those not already aware, I’ve been pretty rough of late.

Quick update, I seem to have turned into a floating head.

I suppose anything that gets me one step closer to forming a tribute act to Talking Heads…

Jokes aside, things are still very on/off. Moved onto new antibiotics on Thursday and I’m holding out on those to sort me out which should take a couple of weeks. I’m also on strong pain meds, probably why you might find me posting things like this:

My stomach is swollen up and burnt to shreds from the hot water bottle, but nobody wants to see that (including myself). It also means I can’t drink alcohol while on this medications OR COFFEE* (*on the particularly bad days).

I’m aware that to an outsider perspective this might look like me adopting Kerry Mucklowe levels of melodrama…

…But if you genuinely want you to know why I’m not responding to your emails or texts or anything else, that’s why. It’s not you, it’s really all down to me. Well, and Squeaky the cat.

I put her as acting secretariat but as expected, she’s a cat.

The times I feel more myself, I hurriedly blogging future posts/writing Christmas cards/doing human things, as well as the full-time job.

So please and thanks for bearing with me. x

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Oh, and I’ve had a few questions about why I’m so rough. High-level summary; cut in my arm didn’t get bandaged correctly, so that got infected. Plus complications with a routine procedure so more infection! (It took 5 weeks to get a formal diagnosis which is never ideal, especially when you’re being told to take painkillers and see how it goes. But hey, it’s in the past now. Totally over it…totally.)

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Look Out Gardeners’ World: Dad’s Polytunnel Revisited

Following the huge popularity over my previous post on the topic of Papa Bennett’s polytunnel/allotment (Dad’s Polytunnel), I decided to drop on by to give an update on how things were progressing as of October 2020.

Papa B was busy at the time I wanted to film this, so I didn’t have his services to help document the changes. But still, it’s only a couple of plants, how hard can it be?

Yeah. I think the cat had a better idea of what was going on (and she’s a cat).

Thankfully, Mumma B showed up to provide from subtle guidance. And you know my Mum, she was incredibly patient and by no means frustrated by my lack of knowledge…

I think we can agree that going forward we’d be better off asking the cat to tend to the plants.

That said, at least the raspberries are coming out alright (Papa B asked me to include this as proof he can grow more than six. Sorry, Dad).

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Be Right Back

Full disclaimer – I’ve been bloody rough of late. At best, I look like this:

And at worst:

(Oh, and there was a delightful interlude when my arm got infected and swelled up to the size of my face. My face, that was too sleep deprived and exhausted to even care anyone.)

I’m still rough (the water bottle and I are now exclusive). Hot drinks = pain, eating too much = pain, too much sleep = pain (wft?), ice cream = PAAAIN!

You get the idea.

I’ve been watching Selling Sunset in a bid to get my body to pull it’s shizz together:

If anything I think it’s making me worse.

It’s an unpredictable situation, after I upload this I’m going back to bed. I’m that exhausted.

I’ve got loads of great posts lined up, bear with me on this. If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the only one missing my sparkling presence.

NB – this is totally unrelated to Covid, it’s not contagious and I’m being cared for and supported by a mix of family and friends.

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“Protect Swindon 18-30!”: The Unexpected Success of Community Fundraising

You’re only as valuable to the community as the last thing you did for it.

That might or might not be a plagiarised quote from someone notable or, more likely, something I just made up after two (large) glasses of wine, but I’ve put it in fancy italics so the point stands.

This is the story of a group. No, actually, not a group, a community. Thrown together by birth, work, or sometimes just passing through; a community of humans who came together under limited expectations, only to save something far greater.

The Birth of a Community

When it comes to community the good deeds you make only go so far. It’s harsh but true. Unlike the good old days, people come and people move on.

The movement of people was one of the reasons I initially established Swindon 18-30 Professionals. People were coming into the town (mostly for work) and then rapidly fleeing as soon as they’d decided it wasn’t a place for them. Not enough to do, not enough of a scene for young people. And I couldn’t blame them; I’d relocated to the area and was feeling the cold shoulder of the real world. A world outside education where you can’t make best friends with people simply by shaking hands or offering out birthday chocolates by means of bribery. The real world just simply isn’t like that, in or outside Swindon.

From Strength to Strength

It came as a massive relief to me when I won the support of a local sponsor to cover the essential website maintenance costs. With the free subscription membership blossomed, and with it the strength of having a group that arguably was the biggest apolitical collective of local voices the town had seen in many years, if ever.

Over the months and years that followed, friendships were made and romances solidified. Multiple engagements, weddings and even babies have been created as a direct impact of the conversations struck up in pubs or over bowling lane rivalries. I was humbled, that feeling that the group was now self sufficient, it didn’t need me to babysit it 24/7 anymore.

Anything But Normal

And then Coronavirus happened.

Our version of normal was now ‘old’ and everything else was now to be referred to as the new version (whatever that was). Social gatherings were illegal, mental health, financial security, a secondary concern compared to the threat of a killer virus. We watched it all slip away, like sand through our fingers.

My steadfast sponsor, like everything else, was forced to close. As their income disappeared overnight, so did the lifeline of Swindon 18-30. I sat on my bed one night, barely able to sleep. Years of hard work, of creating and building, ended before people had even the chance give it a decent send off. I was left hollow, wounded but without the blood to show for it.

“Sh*t Happens, Get Over It”

I proposed to the leadership team setting up a fundraising page. A last-ditch hope that we could scrape together enough to cover the next six months of fees (around £100).

I did some research, compared the options eventually went for GoGetFunding which was one of the few which let fundraisers withdraw money, even if they don’t make the target set on the page. This in mind, I went for a over optimistic £260 which would cover costs for a year, plus the fundraising page fees. I hit submit, the page went live.

I sent a frank and blunt email to all the members with a link to donate money and walked away. A watched pot never boils and I couldn’t bear to spend a wasted evening watching a page that got no engagement. In five years I’d never asked anything of my members, new and old, so to be begging for money now? I was adamant that they’d see me as being unrealistic.

The Kind of Thing That Only Happens in Movies

I retuned to my laptop and was taken with the number of emails in my inbox. “Probably spam,” I thought, but I was wrong. Very wrong. Because instead of the junk mail I was expecting, all the emails were notifications from the fundraising website.

Donations came in thick and fast and at values that almost made me want to cry. I probably would have if not for the personalised messages getting to me first.

There I’d been, working my socks off and building up a strong leadership team and thinking no one had noticed. That no one had particularly cared for all the effort we put in. The words I was reading now, they proved me wrong.

“Every penny well deserved!”

“An amazing organisation, I hope it carries on long into the future.”

“This group helped me take control of my social anxiety and build my confidence.”

“I owe so much to Swindon 18-30. So many incredible people I wouldn’t have even crossed paths with if it were not for the events put on.”

“Well done Alice! Keep up the good work and long live the mermaids!”

In just over 24 hours we hit my target for funding, but yet the money kept pouring in, it seemed everyone wanted to show their support and ensure the group stayed alive. And this wasn’t just current members, people who’d long left Swindon donated, keen to ensure its legacy for new batches of young professionals.

For the second time that week I found myself unable to sleep, although this time it was out of happiness and relief. The group had validated its existence, it had an army of young people prepared to fight tooth and nail to keep it running.

Stop the Press!

The local press release was published the following week with a number of last minute updates. The original purpose, framed to act as a plea for help was now repurposed as an awareness piece, to reach out to those who felt alone and isolated. That at the end of all this there would be a place to safe place to meet and engage with other people.

The finished article can be accessed online via this link.

Trouble on the Murky Crime Horizon

Like everything that happens in my life, there had to be a catch to all this positivity. For me, this came when the webpage was bombarded with fraudulent donations. The alarm bells came when the donations were coming in tiny denominations (usually £1) and from people I didn’t recognise. Later it transpired that these payments were likely stolen cards being tested out prior to the thief either selling them on or using them for bigger transactions. Wanting to do the right thing (and wanting to avoid severe penalties), I promptly returned the money back to the payment card, only to then be charged a handling fee for doing so!

I spoke with both customer services on GoGetFunding and then PayPal, voicing frustrations. They both pointed fingers at the other, both refused to acknowledge the faults in their system, both saw no reason to refund me for doing the right thing. I enchanced secrity controls, as per PayPal’s recommendation, which made things worse. The next morning I had ten transactions to refund. It was at that point, stressed and deeply angry, that I was sadly forced to close the funding page ahead of time.

If there is one top tip I can place in all of this it is to not use GoGetFunding. The commission is less but damn, you pay more in blocking fraudulent payments in the long run!

However, all said and done the final figure at the point of close spoke for itself. The group had done it, we had enough to keep going throughout the tough months to come.

The Future is Bright…

On the far side of all this (whenever that might be) it’s confirmed, that there will be a group and place for people to call their social home. A place to buy a pint or two and give toast to everything that’s made us who we are today.

Here’s to the silent supporters and the ‘this one’s on me’ drink buyers. Long live the donators of good causes, the ones who have the vision to see beyond the news headlines and the weeks on a calendar. From my heart to yours, thank you. Thank you so much.

You can find out more about Swindon 18-30 Professionals via the group’s dedicated website. https://www.meetup.com/Swindon-18-30-Professionals/

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