Bleary eyes, new cat, and favourite history features

Bleary eyes, new cat, and favourite history features

10 May 2021

Wait a second, it’s May! When did that happen? Wasn’t it January just last week?

As the lockdown restrictions lift - and we all emerge from our homes bleary eyed and wiggling uncomfortably in our non-stretch denim - it’s easy to fob off the last 14 months as a time when absolutely nothing happened. But really, that’s not quite true.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a bleak year. But if this bleak year has taught us anything, it’s that life is a real stubborn cow and will always carry on - worldwide pandemic or not! When I really think about it, good things have happened: friends have got engaged, had babies, moved into their first homes, and most importantly of all, we got a cat!

(She’s a rescue, she’s called Millicent Pawcett, and she’s the greatest cat to ever live. And before you ask, yes, I have become a shameless cat mum. Case in point, the boyfriend had to stop me from buying her a cat-friendly Easter egg last month - rude!)

World’s best cat aside, however, living under the storm cloud of the pandemic has made it easy to forget certain wins in life - and the same goes for our careers. Like many many people, the lockdown has really rained on my work parade, but when I think about it, I’ve also written some of my favourite articles during this time.

Most of those have been for The Flock. Talking of achievements through the pandemic, Jen Crichton, writer, broadcaster, and all-round classy lady, launched The Flock during the throes of lockdown and is absolutely smashing it.

She’s also been foolish smart enough to commission me to write some history-related features for the site. As a history nerd, I’ve had to come to terms with the harsh truth that not all people, (and not all editors), share my love of history - shocking, I know!

Fortunately, The Flock has always been willing to give history a chance. So, to blow my own trumpet briefly (toot toot!), here are a few of my favourite pieces I’ve written for The Flock over this last bleak year.

AIDS, the 80s, and the shaming history behind It’s A Sin

Anyone who spoke to me in February will know how absolutely obsessed I was, (and still am), with the Channel 4 series It’s a Sin. Russell T Davies’ series follows a group of friends living through the AIDS crisis in 1980s London and the episodes are as beautiful and funny as they are heart-breaking. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of 80s nostalgia? That’s why I jumped (lept!) at the chance to write about the history and context behind the brilliant series.
Read it here

Even in death, these women were told ‘Give us a smile, love!’

This feature was a response to an ‘artist’ who had been covertly adding smiles to photos of people from the past, including genocide victims and imprisoned women. I’m over-the-moon at how well received this feature was especially given that, at its core, it’s really a rather dry discussion around public history and using photographs as a historical source. However, it’s also the most nervous I’ve ever been about an article, because the story was quite a hot topic on social media and social media can be a scary place, (who knew!?).
Read it here

Protests, power, and the urge to ask permission

While I love any excuse to write about the Suffragettes - or any cool women from history - in many ways I wish this feature hadn’t needed to be published. That’s because it was in reaction to the police crackdown at the vigil held on Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered back in March. The piece questions how far violence is acceptable - and even necessary - in protests, by looking back at the Suffragettes and their surprisingly violent actions little over a century ago.
Read it here

To finish off, here are three things I’m loving at the moment because, why not?

  • The Instagram account @skintension. As a shameless cat owner now, I’m obviously following countless cat Instagram accounts. My current favourite is Sigrid, the beautiful furry feline who flies around London perched in a basket on the front of their owner’s bike. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it’s the sweet, wholesome cat content we all need!
  • Caring Hand Cream from Nursem. As someone well onboard the eczema train, (choo choo!), I’m always hunting for a sensitive hand cream that actually works. While Nursem has a lovely backstory about being launched by a nurse and giving back to other nurses, all you need to know is that it’s a darn good hand cream!
  • The film Hidden Figures. I realise I’m six years too late saying this, but Hidden Figures is a great movie! Who knew? (Apart from the Oscars, the BAFTAs etc…) I’m not sure how I missed it, considering it has everything I want in a film: history, strong women, vintage fashion, and a great soundtrack.
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