Mims' Musings


I’ve never been good at playing sports, but I’ve always supported them. One of my first memories is watching rugby with my Dad. I was about 3, dressed as a princess with my hair in curlers and completely fascinated by the rugby. I’ve continued to be a strange combination of a sports loving girly girl, although never quite overcame my fear of playing them.

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I recently spent nearly a month in South Africa, where the whole country was excited by the start of the World Cup in New Zealand. I was proud of the replica shirt I bought over there, and impressed with how their shops stock women’s shirts nearly everywhere that men’s shirts are stocked. I always knew that women’s shirts are hard to find in London, but what I found when we returned home was shocking.

One thing I always look forward to when England are knocked out of whichever competition, is the way prices for replica shirts drop afterwards. In anticipation of this, I started looking around at possible retailers online. However, I found myself frustratingly unable to find anything resembling a Women’s Replica Rugby Shirt. When I couldn’t find anything on the official RFU website I started to worry. I sent Customer Services an email,  here was the reply I received:

“Thank you for your email.

After looking into your query, I can tell you that all the items we stock can be found on our online store.

Unfortunately if the items you require can not be found online we do not stock this item and do not have any dates available for when we will be getting it in, in the near future.

As our website is being updated regularly all we can advise is that you keep checking the website for any new products which may feature on there.”

After another hour or so of frantic Googling, I accepted the truth. There is no such thing as a Women’s England Rugby Replica shirt. I know that I could fit comfortably into a small men’s shirt, but why should I have to? Why should I need to pay the same price as other countries, when women there get a well-tailored, curve hugging shirt with a flattering neckline? Furthermore, why would sportswear manufacturers choose to alienate all women? That’s a large part of the market to ignore.

The problem is, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I have no place being a sports fan as a woman. Without even scraping the surface of how women who like or play sports are labelled as Lesbians. Last year, during the football World Cup in South Africa, I was trying to find a Women’s football shirt in big sports shops in London. It was a nightmare. Many shops told me that they didn’t stock the shirts in women’s sizes, and those that did only had one or two in each size and so sold out within hours. More recently I found myself wondering why one of the big sports shops had put out an advert where Men’s and Kids football shirts were reduced, but no mention of  Women’s.

During this mission I also found myself overwhelmed by the quantity of merchandise aimed at women, with slogans such as ‘Mrs Beckham’, or ‘Future WAG’ on them. It seems that if you’re a woman, your place in supporting sports is if you fancy the players, as some sort of wannabe WAG. As if that wasn’t enough, you can now dress your baby girl in t-shirt expressing her wish to be nothing more than a footballer’s girlfriend, before she can even talk.

The view that only men enjoy sports is just not true, and yet that seems to be the message that retailers are trying to put across. But is that only the case because women feel like they aren’t supposed to like sports? This is something I’ll continue to wonder about for a while, especially as other teams such as Scotland and Wales seem perfectly able to release a women’s replica rugby shirt.

If anyone has any answers about this I’d like to hear from you, please comment below!

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As I was writing my portfolio for my Journalism coursework last year, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Daniel Sloss and submit the write-up. Apart from being a fun chat, it was a great way to test my self-editing skills (and my tolerance for listening to my own annoying voice). It would’ve been a far more interesting  write-up if I hadn’t been so limited on what my ‘target publication’ had to be, there’s nothing I hate more than censorship but it worked (the mark sheet is still on my fridge as one of my proudest academic moments ever).

Special thanks to Daniel and his agent, I hope I get another chance to interview him in the future where I’ll be writing for something far cooler. It’s taken me a shameful amount of time to get this interview posted, while you read it you should definitely open this link up in a new tab for Daniel’s new tour, ‘The Joker’,  find the nearest gig to you and purchase tickets immediately! You won’t regret it, I promise: CLICK HERE!

Behind the Comedy- Daniel Sloss

 Walking through the crowd going towards the Soho Theatre, Daniel Sloss seems like any other average young man. He is laid back in both attitude and dress sense, and speaks honestly and eloquently with a melodious Scottish accent. His show, which he is currently touring, is called My Generation. During our conversation, as well as talking about his secret to success, he reflects on his views of his generation and older generations. It becomes easy to see how the 20-year-old comedian has risen in popularity over the last couple of years. This increase in fame is reflected by the weekend he’s just had:

“It’s been insane. I filmed Mock the Week on Saturday, I did the Apollo yesterday. It was amazing, my first time at the Apollo, it was a charity gig with 3500 people, it was lovely.”

As part of a generation that craves fame, you may expect Sloss to be somewhat inflated by this popularity. However, he remains remarkably grounded and modest about his success so far:

“I started by doing open spots. I’d been working on my set for ages before I had the courage to get into it. I had jokes and my Mum [who is an editor]. She was able to get rid of all the unnecessary bits, so I had a really tight punchy set. Since I was young, people weren’t expecting me to be funny, and then I was so they laughed harder. Then it was a matter of just really sticking with it. I’d say 70% of my career is down to luck, and the other 29% is my agent, then 1% me.”

During the course of our conversation Daniel often mentions his family, particularly his parents, who have been vital in supporting his career as a comedian. Unusual in that they encouraged him to take a gap year rather than pursue his place at university:

“When I started I was still at high school so I was just doing it after school. My Mum was like ‘Still revise, still get to university.’ I did manage to get into university, but over the Edinburgh festival that year I got to the finals of ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ [an annual stand-up comedy competition held at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe]. I wasn’t the one that wanted to take a gap year but my parents said, ‘If you’re on a roll, don’t get off it.’ My Mum made it very clear that I’d be working; treat it like a real job. She sat me down, forced me to write jokes and I just never went to university.”

This decision seems to have benefited Daniel, whose set holds audiences captive for over an hour; a length of time which some comedians would struggle to fill. However, Sloss does so naturally, with such flair and hilarity that the audience is left feeling light-headed, having laughed so hard for so long. Sloss’ success lies in how comedy appears to be intrinsic within his personality; he peppers our conversation with humour. He reveals that his comic ability dates back to his school days:

“I was always the funny one at school. I was never the sporty one, I was never really the attractive one, I was never the smart one. I was the one that could make everyone laugh. The funny kids are always more popular because they take the piss out of themselves. I wasn’t the most popular but no one particularly hated me so I thought maybe something along the lines of comedy might be a good idea [for a career].”

Daniel seems to be thoroughly grateful for the success the last few years has brought him, describing it as, “Absolutely mental! I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been, I’m very happy with how it’s gone.” However, he also identifies the drawbacks that come with having a career as a comedian, especially when it comes to travelling:

“It’s annoying to be honest with you. It’s why hopefully one day they’ll finally invent teleporters. The worst thing about travelling is that you just miss your own bed, and not seeing people as much as you want to. I’m away for weeks at a time so when I go home I need to spend time with my parents, and I go see my girlfriend, so those are the two things I have to juggle. My best and closest friends get pushed back, I don’t see them as much as I’d like to, then I rarely get to see my other friends. It’s horrible but it comes with the job.  The travelling can also be good, I get to go to some amazing places, meet new friends on the road, but it’s the actual travelling that sucks, like physically being on the train.”

One of the few regrets Sloss has about not attending university, is missing out on the social aspect of student life:

“I would’ve been terrible at university. I’m just too much of a lazy bastard. I wouldn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have done anything. The only bit I missed about university was that I was meant to go to Dundee and that’s where all my mates are. I don’t go out as much as I would like to. My mates don’t give a shit about what telly I’ve done, as soon as I get up there it’s like, ‘On television you’re Daniel Sloss comedian, here you’re dickhead, and we’ll refer to you as dickhead for the rest of the night’, that’s what I love about it.”

Another drawback that Daniel has found whilst doing his show is the sense of disapproval that members of older generations seem to have for some of his material:

“At one of my show’s there was an old man, I was on stage and I [swore]. He stood up, anyone else would’ve left, but he stood there and had a go at me for 15 minutes. After everything we’re told about learning manners I just thought you’re in an audience of 300 people, 298 are enjoying themselves, so you stand up and ruin it for everyone. I just can’t stand it.”

The frequency of complaints from older members of the audience has made Sloss consider extreme measures for future shows:

“We’re considering putting an age limit on the tickets, but not down the lower end of the spectrum but at the upper end. Not saying that it isn’t suitable for under the age of 15, because those aren’t the ones who are upset by it. If you show 12 year olds someone on stage swearing and talking about sex, they love it! They’re not going to complain. It’s someone over 60 that I worry about. Kids know more than people give them credit for, I learned about sex when I was 8 years old, like most kids. Kids are smarter than old people, maybe not intellectually on a degree basis but all in all…”

However, Sloss makes it very clear that his attitudes are in no way ageist:

“Age isn’t a number, it’s an attitude. When I was at the Soho Theatre, a 91-year-old man in the audience laughed the entire way through. When I did smut he loved it, that’s what it should be about! Then the next day a 55-year-old didn’t approve of anything. Age isn’t a number, its how you are. I would never be ageist, because I wouldn’t refer to someone as old because of their age, I would refer to someone as old because of the way they act.”

So what does he attribute this change in attitude to?

“There’s an age you get to, an age which I intend to die by, or if I don’t, kill myself by, where the world changes. Especially now, the rate the world changes is astonishing, and they don’t like that. They think everything should stay the same, and that ‘It wasn’t like that back in my day’, and its like ‘yeah that’s because your day was shit, in your day people only lived till 50.’ If a normal person isn’t enjoying comedy, rarely will they say, they’ll just sit there going ‘not enjoying this, I’ll go and tweet or Facebook about it’. An old person will say something then and there, ruining something for everyone else.”

Rather than sounding bitter about difficult audience members, Daniel remains optimistic about how his generation:

“Every generation before us has had trends and fads, like in the 80s with the stupid hair and stupid clothes, but there’s no such thing as fads now, there’s ‘oh that exists but now that’s a culture’. Emos are a culture, Goths are a culture. We don’t have fads we don’t have trends, we’re more universal. We’re not saying you have to be like this, you can be anything you want to be. It’s why stand-up has become so successful, because we’re the generation that accepts everything. I reckon when my generation gets older, we’ll be more tolerant. We’re very diverse and I think we’re also the most politically correct. Homophobia doesn’t exist in our generation, among certain groups it’ll always exist but normal decent people will go on to achieve something from this generation. Racism obviously still exists because you still have ignorant people but it’s not the kids, you have to blame the parents because you can’t get a racist kid without racist parents.”

As our conversation draws to a close, I feel sorry that we didn’t have more time. There is far more to Daniel Sloss than a label of ‘young comedian’, he has fascinating and intelligent insights into the world around him; a talent which I hope he’ll continue to use to inspire his comedy for many years to come.


Did you spot the bird in the picture? Even I didn’t know it was there until I just loaded it up on the laptop. There’s another one below as well. (10 points to whoever spots it first).  Our last 24 hours of the trip started of beautifully, walking around the gardens at Kirstenbosch. Immediately we realised we should have done this at the start of the trip and spent more time there, it looks like an awesome place to picnic.

Below is a selection of pictures from the gardens, enough to produce my own ‘Protea of Africa’ Calendar. There were some truly beautiful things in that garden, including the King Protea which there’s a picture of below (it’s the really massive one), and the raspberry coloured Protea which is so rare it doesn’t have a name and could only be found on this one path we went down. At the gift shop I bought an egg box full of indigenous South African seeds and soil to grow them in, so hopefully some of them will survive at home.

 

Here’s me in my new rugby top, I’m sure you can all see the sense of relief that I’ve survived this epic journey. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t feel like it’s flown past it feels like I’ve been away from home for an age. But now I’m excited to get back and see what lies ahead on my return. For one thing there’s the 800 page Mandela book to get on with!


Our last leg of the trip has all been based in Cape Town, so we’ve had a good chunk of time to explore Cape Town itself and some of the places near it.  On our first day in town we went to the Company Gardens for some lunch, where they had a display of Bonsai trees. Some of them were really impressively sculpted, and some of the trees were over 90 years old. My favourite one was an Olive Tree, although it did make me slightly sad that my Bonsai tree died!

 

 

Of all the times to forget to put my memory card back in my camera, the day we went up Table Mountain was the worst. Shocking in fact.  I did take some with my camcorder but I haven’t transferred them yet. However, I do have this great picture of the mountain which I took from the Waterfront. We were whisked up there in a Cable Car, and you never quite believe how high it is until you see it from the bottom again. It was a moment where the world below felt extremely small, but completely worth it. Although the mountain looks flat from ground level, it’s surprising how hilly it can be as you walk around up there. In fact due to my colourful history of ankle injuries I decided not to trek around it too much, but had a few hours of total silence on peace sitting on a rock catching a tan.

 

Another must-see in Cape Town is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, but not released from prison as many people think. We caught a ferry there from the Waterfront, then there was a 45 minute bus tour of the island, and we were then led around some of the prison blocks by an ex-inmate. The above picture is of the actual cell that Nelson Mandela was held in for 18 of the 27 years that he was inmate number 46664 (number 466 in 1964).

 

Having visited Alcatraz in San Francisco, I was surprised at how comfortable and somewhat beautiful Robben Island was. not at all like the imposing rock I was expecting after connecting it to Alcatraz in my head! Before catching the ferry back I bought a copy of The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. The gift shop rubber stamped it with a thing saying ‘Purchased in Robben Island’, which made it feel that bit more special. I look forward to reading it.

 

The following few pictures are of a few things we’ve done whilst based at my Uncle’s house in Cape Town. Below is the Rhodes Memorial, which doesn’t convey how windy it was when we visited it, a penguin that we saw in the Boulders area, a striking picture taken from Chapman’s Point, the Boschendale Winery, and a flower we saw growing in one of the vineyards.

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow will be our last day of adventure before we head home on Monday, by the time we get home we will have been travelling for 24 hours straight, so who knows what will happen in that time…


So, on we trekked down to Ballito, where my Uncle has a holiday house. We had a day up in Durban where we walked from one end of it to the other, (which turns out to be quite a long distance!). This is me in front of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which was built for the World Cup.

We were lucky enough to go in the SkyCar up the arch of the stadium, which gave us a great view of Durban. We were impressed with how beautiful the beachfront area is, but also surprised how quiet it was. This is why we ended up walking so far, in the search for a ‘town centre’.

We stopped at the International Convention Centre in Durban for a convenient toilet break, and I was delighted to find something called the Durban Peace Quilt on the walls. There were several quilts made up of panels, all in different shades of blue and with some lovely peaceful images. It really made me want to bump quilting up the list of crafts I want to learn!

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Unlike underpasses in London, where they tend to be half brothel/half toilet, the one in Durban is decorated with lovely tile displays of native flowers, the best named one being the ‘num-num flower’. I have to say, whichever creative soul thought of altering this flower should be commended, it definitely put a smile on my face!

After nearly a week in Ballito/Durban/seeing family near there, we moved on to Port Elizabeth where we saw more lovelly family, then began driving along the Garden Route to Cape Town. I’ve decided to include this picture because what happened next was our stop in Wilderness, at the Wilderness Beach Hotel. The rooms were nice enough. But what I may as well have been spotting in those binoculars, was in fact a TERRIBLE MEAL. At the hotel restaurant we waited an hour for our food, which then varied between Lukewarm to Freezing cold.  During the wait I’d lost the will to eat, then when my meal came the pork filling was cold, but I struggled on, took a few bites and realised the meat was rare. Then realised you can’t eat pork rare. I wasn’t very well that night.

We then had another stop before reaching Cape Town, in a place called Swellendam, where we had a great meal at Powell’s Coffee House, completely making up for the previous night’s disaster. Next door to the restaurant was a wedding shop where they were sewing dresses, if we weren’t in such a rush I would’ve spent hours in there!. We then arrived at my Uncle’s house where we’re now staying with my Uncle, Aunt and two cousins until we head home. This picture was taken today at Hermanus, where we had a great lunch and even spotted a few whales.

Although I would be lying if I didn’t admit I felt a little twinge when I saw this reminder of how far away from home we are!

So onward to the last part of our jouney we go. On the agenda are Robin Island, Table Mountain and I’m sure some adventures with my cousin who we’ve been playing poker with (note the lucky hoods!). Stay tuned for the next installment…


A mainly visual post today. Including highlights of our trip in the Victoria Falls area: the sunset cruise on the Zambezi, the Victoria Falls themselves (note the pretty rainbow!), the walk with Lions we did, Gem squash (if anyone knows where to get these in London please tell me!), the beach in Ballito where we’re now staying, and the souvenir from my Dad’s Aunt Maureen’s birthday celebration!

 

Enjoy!

 

For more information on the charity which runs the lion walks, please go to:


www.lionalert.org

 

 

 

 


 


 

So, here we are. After a tiny stopover in Paris, we travelled for 10 hours to Johannesburg.  Dazed and disorientated, a gathering of ‘Chefs on Tour’ at the airport didn’t help! Around 50 chefs, all gathered and waving flags, can be quite surreal to the weary traveller.

Pictured above is Johanessburg’s equivelent to the Oyster Card from what I can tell, called the Gautrain. We got the yellow line from O R Tambo airport to Sandton (just about visible in the picture!). As we were riding this cool looking gold train, my dad told me that it was built in the UK. As I observed how clean it was, how incredibly comfortable the seats were, and how fast and smooth the ride was, I couldn’t help but think, if it’s built in the UK why don’t we have anything that good?!

As we were staying overnight in Sandton City, we spent the afternoon in Nelson Mandela Square, where there’s a mighty impressive statue of the man himself! We spent hours going around the Labyrinthine shopping mall, watching a bit of the South Africa vs. New Zealand rugby game, then we all watched a movie.

Today we caught a flight from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia. Then spent most of the day going through border offices, first at the airport to enter Zambia, then at the Zambia border to leave it, then a few minutes later at the Zimbabwe border to enter it! It was quite an experience. But well worth it once we got to our hotel…

This is part of The Kingdom Hotel, near the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In this building is the Casino and gift shops, then when we’re staying is the pool, about 10 blocks of accomodation and a huge restaurant.

This is what’s known as the ‘Gorge Bridge View’, (not because it’s Gorgeous like I thought….), it’s about a 5 minute walk from our hotel and as you can see, it’s amazing! On the left side there’s a bungee jump, and a zip line that goes all the way across, which I’m actually semi-tempted to go on.

Just behind where this gorge is, we could see the spray from the Victoria Falls themselves. Tomorrow we’ll go see them properly- exciting!!!
And so ends the first installment of our African Adventure….make sure you don’t miss the next installment, subscribe! (enter your email address in the top right)

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