This pack includes 2 postcard designs: 8 x “CHILL, IT’S ONLY BLOOD” 8 x “HISTORY IS A WEAPON / CREATIVITY IS A WEAPON”
and 1 x “YOURS, ETC.”
This mini-zine is lovingly dedicated to post, friendships and my favourite author. The title is a reference to the way in which Jane Austen’s characters end letters to each other, and the zine touches on the way in which Austen employs letters in her novels. It also contains a recipe for A LETTER TO A GOOD FRIEND, ideas for what to send your friend without breaking the bank and other bits and bobs.
I hope this pack leaves you both equipped and inspired to be sending love to your friends in the mail.
The UK is due to give notice of withdrawal to the EU by the end of March. I’m not deluded; I don’t expect Brexit to be revealed as one massive prank on April 1st. I know that Brexit is well in motion and that a lot of people are “over it” by now – so what is the point in moaning about it? Well:
“Brexit means Brexit,” said Theresa May in one of her more brilliant speeches. It’s not hard to understand why people are confused about what will come of this pantomime of a negotiation process, seeing as not even the government has a solid plan. I know a lot of people are switching off from the news because it’s tiring, maybe boring. What we can do is hold onto what we do know amidst the uncertainty and I’m going to start with democracy and the mandate for withdrawal.
Leavers and Remainers have found tentative common ground in complacence. They are either crowing or mourning, but the words are the same and they are something along the lines of well, we have to respect the will of the people. The general idea is that Brexit is what the people wanted and it is what we will get.
The mandate for Brexit cannot legitimately exist. While the referendum was open to British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens (including Britons who have lived abroad for less than 15 years), European nationals were not allowed to vote despite many having residency rights and paying taxes here. I have lived here since I was 5 months old; I couldn’t vote in the election that kept the Tories in power and when they called a referendum on the EU, I couldn’t vote either. How we talk about the democratic mandate for Brexit matters because you have to consider who did not vote. Had the 2.9 million EU residents in the UK voted, the vast majority would have voted to remain.
I’ll interrupt myself quickly to address the question: wouldn’t EU citizens be too biased to vote? Firstly, bias is simply another word for having an opinion and EU citizens are no more biased than anyone in what people are calling the most significant decision voters have made in decades. Secondly, a decision made about us should involve us. In recognition of this, the Scottish Referendum allowed a wider pool of people to participate, including EU nationals and anyone over 16. So, if you think that Brexit is the will of the people, you can’t believe that your EU friends and colleagues – who make up 5% of the population – have a place within the democratic process.
There is even less of a mandate for “hard Brexit”, the cringe name given to Theresa May’s stance in which the UK plans to be vaguely “tough” in EU negotiations. Turnout to the EU Referendum was 71.8%. Leave won 51.9% over Remain with a very narrow margin of 4%, which will now set the tone for the rest of our lives. 4% of Leave voters (which would make up approx. 2.1% of all voters) polled by The Independent said they thought Brexit was the worst thing to have happened in 2016 and regretted their decision. Many said that they had cast thoughtless protest votes and many others placed genuine trust in the now discredited lies told by the Leave campagin, most notably the promise to divert £350 million to the NHS.
When we say that Brexit was democratic, we make it seem sacrosanct. When Brexit is sacrosanct, it moves further out of reach for the possibility of scrutiny and becomes untouchable as a topic of debate. Anyone who criticises any part of the process is smeared or made out to be a tantrum-prone child. People are told off for being “sore losers” which is a fair comment to make about etiquette at a sports competition, but considerably less fair to tell an EU citizen who has spent 8 months watching squabbling clowns try to make decisions in heightening states of anxiety about what their life might look like soon.
Supreme Court judges were not ruling on Brexit itself; they were ruling on the correct procedure in constitutional terms on how to trigger Article 50 yet they were declared “Enemies of the People” by the Daily Mail. This attitude means that people will become very cautious about critiquing government because it is too easy to be painted as anti-democratic. When Parliament passed the Article 50 Bill last month which enabled the government to proceed with the withdrawal from the EU, lots of MPs, even those representing Remain areas, voted it through. They did this because they had to respect the will of the people which all sounds very commendable until you realise that they have effectively given free reign to Theresa May’s government to do what they like with the withdrawal process.
Concerns over the “blank cheque” nature of what MPs were being asked to endorse was the main reason for why rebel MPs opposed the Article 50 Bill in Parliament last month. Catherine McKinnell MP who voted against the government said that whilst respecting the outcome of the referendum, she remained “hugely concerned about the lack of transparency around this monumentally important and historic process”; voting without clarity would not be responsible. It is worth noting that MPs were given just 5 days to scrutinise the draft Bill for withdrawal in comparison to the 40 days that MPs spent on the enactment of the European Communities Act 1972 which saw the UK become a member state in the first place.
The House of Lords defeated the Article 50 draft legislation this week and proposed an amendment which would require the government to ensure that EU citizens have the same residency rights they expected before the vote, citing the unfairness of using this population as a “bargaining chip” in negotiations. Government ministers plan to resist any changes to the draft legislation, and will be able to remove the amendment when the Bill comes back to the Commons.
I’m unsure of what will happen next but I would urge you all to stay on top of the news and to keep talking about Brexit because it is the only way that Theresa and her pals will feel any sort of pressure to act in our best interests. The decisions being made about our futures are not inevitable truths but instead political choices so accountability is key. The UK voted to leave the EU but the “hard Brexit” terms that the Tories are working with are not endorsed by the public.
Frame the issues appropriately; we’re already fucked by virtue of Brexit and the last thing I want is for the government to take it to extremes under the false premise that we asked for them to do so.
Bedrooms are a sanctuary and as such, they should feel good to be in. Since you spend a lot of time in your bedroom, it makes sense to me to invest enough effort into making it a space you enjoy.
All the IKEA catalogues of beautiful, stylish rooms only look that good because nobody lives there. There is no mess in those photos, because there are no belongings. You could take this as a hint to declutter which is a good shout but given that most of us are pretty keen materialists, I would consider this a sign to give up on a sleek, minimalist aesthetic and embrace reality.
Get photos printed for free here and here and here and here when you sign up. Pick up free magazines and cut out the pictures you like. Instead of making a scrapbook or putting together moodboards, use the space on your walls. This way you get to look at your fave pics all the time, instead of hiding them away on a shelf. Every time you turn on the TV or leave the house, you are bombarded with thousands of images designed to undermine your confidence. In the words of this See Red Women’s Workshop poster, don’t let them into your homes!
In your room you can recharge and you can help yourself by surrounding yourself with positive images that affirm your identity and inspire you, or at the very least, don’t make you feel like shit.
Decorating the walls will boost your creativity; as an exercise it destroys your fear of the blank page because you know you can change it all around again if you change your style or your mind. You have the time and space to do all this, so it’s no pressure. To some people it will just feel like sticking things on the wall, but to me it sometimes feels like curating my own gallery and other times working on one big collage. From my perspective, you can explore your creativity this way without having to learn new skills.
Once you have worked on your room and if you are feeling bold, you can break out and start decorating the streets. If you want inspiration on street art and subvertising, check out See Red, Brandalism, Stop Telling Women To Smile, etc.
You can often find good furniture in your area for free on Freecycle, a project which reduces waste by sharing. I’ve got a bookshelf, picture frames, posters, a mannequin torso and other stuff from here before.
PROS: it’s shiny, better quality than the online version. £££ supports the project and is appreciated. You can hold it in your hands (nice feeling). You might forget you ordered it and then be pleasantly surprised to receive post.
I think the idea for the series is super important, because as a young adult you are thrown into a lot of social situations (be it work, study, friend related) which are often pretty daunting. And it can be hard to adapt to the different social requirements of various gatherings, especially if you have anxiety. Group contexts are hard, particularly if you are going by yourself and are not sure of how to ‘insert’ yourself into the situation.
I totally agree that social skills are not innate and something that you can nurture and develop! Obviously some people have more outgoing personalities, but it is definitely possible to learn and grow from each new social experience, and confidence is an ongoing process.
Advice-wise, the first thing is to acknowledge your own limitations. For example, I recognise that I find group events (e.g. private views) intimidating, so my coping mechanisms are:
Get in contact with a friend or acquaintance who I know might be going to the event and arrange to meet them there or beforehand
Try to rationalise my anxiety by thinking ‘what is the worst that could happen?’
Make sure I have a plan for going home afterwards
Phone my mum or close friend if I am feeling especially nervous about going into a room with a large group of people in it
For advice about replying to people through text or email:
Don’t pressurise yourself- take your time to reply if you are feeling nervous about reading or replying to a message
Perhaps write down what you want to text beforehand to clarify it in your head
Remember that the person you are texting will probably not analyse your reply in as much depth as you have analysed it whilst writing it
For advice on talking to people one on one, friend-wise and in a professional context:
Generally, I’ve learned that most people are not as intimidating as they look. If you are nervous and this shows when you talk to someone, the other person will understand!
It’s a bit cliché, but just try and keep calm and be yourself. Remind yourself: WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS VALID and just as interesting as the other person
Remember that everyone has their own shit going on, so if you sense that someone is a bit ‘off’ with you, don’t automatically blame yourself!
Finally, if you find you can’t go to a meet up or are taking a while to reply to people because you are feeling really anxious, remember it isn’t your fault. Think of a close friend who you could confide in, and perhaps talk through things with them- or if you feel safe doing so, let the people you were going to meet, or need to reply to, know that you are finding things a bit hard. A lot of people find various social situations intimidating, some people are just better at hiding it than others.
Starting Uni can be really daunting and scary but also really exciting, you might want to throw yourself into everything or you might want to find your own space in this new environment. Everybody’s experiences of these strange and disarming times are different but here are a few tips I picked up from my own freshers week (getting very drunk with people I barely knew) and last years freshers week when I worked behind the bar at the student union (very sober watching the terrifying antics).
Those freshers helpers who seem so much older, more mature and independent, who flatter you with their smiles and helpful advice, probably have a bet on who can sleep with the most freshers. Yes they’re not all like that but freshers week is generally seen as a time to have lots of casual sex, especially for older students who might have forgotten how bewildering it can be for someone who has just moved away from home for the first time. Of course this attitude can mean lots of fun but its worth being aware that this whole experience may be the most exciting thing to happen to you yet but for them it does not have the same magnitude. So go have fun if that’s what you want but as always be safe, keep yourself protected and be aware of the situation from all perspectives.
If you don’t want to drink or go to loud club night events or gigs that’s fine! There will be people exactly like you, but they are likely to be harder to find so try and make the effort to go to some of the day time events too and hunt them out. Freshers week is really great for making friends, especially with the people you’re living with so even just hanging out with other people in their rooms or communal areas can be a great idea.
Even if you do plan on drinking and going out every night remember that the day time events can be just as good of an opportunity to meet new people, perhaps even more so- when classes start are you really going to find that one person you met at the bar also doing your subject in a lecture hall of 200+ people and if you do will you actually have that much in common?
Don’t worry if you find that neither the night time events or the day time events are your cup of tea. You can find your own way of settling into uni and making friends, you don’t have to stick with the prescribed events that your uni thinks will help you if they are not helpful to you personally. However I personally would advise at least giving freshers week a chance because you never know what you might find.
If you’re nervous about talking to new people freshers week is a great chance to push yourself, chances are you won’t see the same faces much (unless you are at a small university) so why not try talking to that girl who’s dress you’ve been admiring, it could be the start of a great friendship.
Equally, don’t worry if you don’t meet anyone in freshers week who you feel an immediate affinity with! It is perfectly possible to find friends in lectures, societies or later on in the year who you become closer to than the people you met in freshers week.
If uni is the first time you’ve really drank then try not to feel pressured to keep up with everyone else, as I said before the people you meet might not be your lifelong friends (especially if they try to pressurise you into drinking more) so don’t worry about impressing them.
Homesickness will (probably) hit at some point. It may not be in freshers week if you’re busy with events and meeting new people, or it may be the second your parents leave. Either way moving away from home, even if your uni is in the same city as your home, can be scary and its ok to feel overwhelmed. It might sound corny but everyone is in the same position so reach out to the people around you if you feel like you can, if not maybe you can talk to friends from home who have also gone to uni and will understand the position you are in. Even your friends who have not gone to uni will be able to help you, so don’t be put off talking about how you feel.
Freshers week is only a week, once uni starts things will likely be completely different so don’t let this week get to you too much, if you feel overwhelmed or isolated remember that it isn’t going to last forever.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take these tips with a pinch of salt! They are generalisations and your experiences could be completely different, as long as you keep your wits about you and stay safe you will have a great time and learn lots about yourself.
Leave some comments with your tips and advice if you’ve done freshers week before or if you’re going to uni soon and have any questions!