About soothfairy: the overshare

Biography | Stance | Nuts | Neurotype | Contact

This blog is my opinions, thoughts and ideas, plus some poems. I started writing it for two reason. Firstly, I was annoyed by cafe food served on top of a paper napkin, and wanted to vent about it. Secondly, I was getting some letters published in the Guardian (UK left-of-centre quality national newspaper) and wanted to archive them.

Some posts are backed by extensively researched facts, and some aren’t. I write about whatever’s on my mind. My favourite post is a long one: Racism explained as a redundant instinct. My most-read post is Jackson Browne and Daryl Hannah, an investigation into the rumour of domestic violence.

I spend a lot of time – possibly too much – updating, re-reading, rewriting, editing and generally tweaking my posts. It’s great – you can ‘publish’ something, but keep rewriting it for ever! The posts I’ve updated most are the rolling posts Halo Goodbye, Suu – the Rohingya crisis and Brexit and the east European elephant.

My target reader is an open-minded young person in a village in the Third World, er, a developing country, er, the global south. Fuck’s sake. In, say, Africa or India. (I think I might’ve just offended my target reader. Sorry.)


Soothfairy – the overshare
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Robert the Bruce meets Kilvert’s Lard

Hi. I’m Chris Hughes. I live in Leicester, a city in the English midlands. I’m white, mainly English, mainly liberal and in my mid-70s.

A product of suburbia, I was born and grew up in Altrincham, a small town formerly in the county of Cheshire, now in Greater Manchester in the North West of England. We lived in the suburbs of Altrincham – first Timperley, then Bowdon Vale.

Long-suffering fellow addicts of Manchester-based TV soap Coronation Street (long-suffering because of the increasingly rubbish storylines and often horribly bad acting) will hear Altrincham mentioned occasionally, as though it’s a magical place of beauty and gentility, tantalisingly within reach, yet far from the Street’s urban grittiness.

Actually, Altrincham is a fairly ordinary town on the Cheshire edge of Manchester. However, the posher parts now house premier-league footballers – and Coronation Street soap stars!

A couple of my ancestors (one suppositional) are of general interest. My father’s mother was a Bruce, as in Robert the Bruce. A relative claims to have discovered we’re descendants of the Scottish warrior king. Freedom!

(According to a postal DNA test done from idle curiousity, I have 36% Scottish ancestry.)

And my mother’s mother was a Kilvert, as in Kilvert’s Lard (big in Victorian times, still a brand). Sadly, her husband, my grandfather, blew the lard dowry. Mind you, my mother was the youngest of 10 (I think) – so I wouldn’t have been a lard heir.

In any case, I’d have renounced my lard fortune when I became a vegetarian in my mid-20s. Probably.

Kilverts Lard was made in Old Trafford, also home to Manchester United. This (poor quality) 1962 photo shows the mighty Dennis Law and the ‘Kilverts Pure Lard’ factory | Photo: source unknown – probably the Manchester Evening News

My parents’ marriage wasn’t happy but – as people generally did then – they stayed together for the sake of the children. My childhood was happy-ish but despite our parents’ best efforts my sister and I were affected by it. Neither of us had children.

I left Altrincham to go to art college in Leicester, a small city in the East Midlands of England, where I’ve lived more or less ever since. (Leicester College of Art became a polytechnic and then De Montfort University.)

For a long time, I lived in various flats in Leicester’s Highfields – an interesting area populated by hippies, druggies, prostitutes and South Asian families.

After I met my wife we moved to the safer but equally interesting Clarendon Park area. Close to the University of Leicester, it’s been described as a ‘redbrick uni nirvana‘.

Now in my mid-70s, I’m retired, I suppose, busy denying impending Death. When I hit 70, the dreadful reality of mortality hit me back.

    ‘Now you’re retired, what are you going to do?’
    ‘I thought I’d try a spot of old age, sickness and death.’
    © the Buddha

In my early 70s, after a while I forgot about Death and started to enjoy being still alive. But when I hit 75, the dreadful prospect of being 80 suddenly loomed up… And so it goes.

I’m half-educated: six GCE O levels, left A levels halfway through, got kicked out of art college (a traumatic event, not as amusingly Bohemian as it might sound).

I’m enrolled in the University of Life, of course, but I keep missing the lectures. I’ve got a small chip on my shoulder about not getting a (real) university education or having had a proper job.

I confess I’ve lived a somewhat drifting life, and, like the biblical unfaithful servant, I’ve mostly wasted my talents (such as they are).

I claimed to disdain the question, ‘What do you do?‘ – but, secretly, I’d like to have had an answer. In an adjacent parallel universe, I’m a semi-retired academic. In the next one, I’m a successful freelance journalist.

In another one, I’m a homeless alcoholic junkie. And so it goes.

Not that I’d want to categorise myself, but (in this universe) I’m a cisgender, heterosexual (despite being the Soothfairy), neurotypical, ex-omnivore semi-lapsed-vegan organic-buying vegetarian, left-liberal-Green, antireligious agnostic lapsed Anglican Christian with pantheistic, panpsychist and antitheistic tendencies.

On an even more personal note – why not? – I’m in respite from depression. Having tried most available treatments, with varying success, I now occasionally self-medicate with cannabis.

I’m currently hanging on to my precious marriage. (Counselling has – kind of – helped. The cannabis, probably less so.)

Having more or less stopped working, I liked to linger over a coffee and read the complementary Guardian – it’s expensive – in a nearby café (unless some other beardy freeloader got there first).

That pleasure was interrupted by the apocalyptic pandemic. Cafés are now open again, but the complementary newspapers haven’t returned.

I now go to the local library (amazingly, still open) to read the Guardian, like some pathetic old git. After extensive negotiations, they agreed to let me bring a takeaway coffee in. (They allow screaming kids to run around – fine by me – but they’re strict on drinks.)

I got letters in The Guardian! Reading it most days, I often felt moved to write to them, and had some letters published.

That was one reason for starting this blog – to brag about getting a letter in The Guardian (it’s not easy) and to expound on the theme. Some posts have links at the top to such letters.

Here’s a letter in The Observer – AKA The Guardian on Sunday – about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, re my post Halo goodbye, Suu.

And here’s one in The Guardian about the racist question ‘Where are you really from?’, re my post Asian, Indian, Pakistani: what’s in a name?

I also play guitar and keyboards, and write and record songs. On the whole, it’s a wonderful life, and I’m happy! Ish.

Happy, happy! Joy, joy! | Nickelodeon

Soothfairy – the overshare
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Where I stand on the great issues of the day

In case it matters

Brexit | Trump | Corbyn | Johnson | Woke | Covid | Life, love, death

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼


I voted Remain in the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, but was actually undecided. Loved the noble internationalist idea, disliked the corrupt neo-liberal bureaucratic gravy-train reality. So it was OK with me that we were leaving*. I enjoyed the lively media discussion, dominated by remoaners upset that the ‘ignorant’ majority rejected their expert advice. After decades of being more or less ignored, the UK’s relationship with the EU suddenly became the subject of passionate debate! (*It was OK with me but I changed my mind.)

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼

Donald Trump

I sympathise with the anti-establishment mood of the times, but I wish the Democrats had read that mood correctly in 2016 and had selected Bernie Sanders. Voters would then have had a choice between two anti-establishment candidates, one covertly on the side of the super-rich and one honestly on the side of the people. I like to think they’d have chosen Sanders. After Trump’s election, Sanders was said to be by far the most popular US politician. Ahead of the 2020 election, he remained a contender. Radical rival and ex-Republican convert Elizabeth Warren (in the top five or thereabouts) had a good line on government corruption by corporate lobbyists. Sadly, they were both cravenly dumped for Boring Joe Biden, thought to have the best chance of beating Trump and uniting a divided nation. Biden, 78, won narrowly. Running mate Kamala Harris, 56, is also boring, but will be the first female, the first African American and the first Asian American to be vice president – and might well succeed Biden in 2024. Yay.

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼

Jeremy Corbyn

    Controversial leftwing former leader of UK Labour Party, supported by most party members but opposed by most Labour MPs

I liked him. I voted for him. So his approval rating was -42%. So what? Following UK prime minister Theresa May’s disastrous – for her – snap June 2017 general election, Corbyn’s rating shot up to 4%! Then he lost the 2019 general election. He was ambivalent on Brexit – but so was I. Oh well …

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼

Boris Johnson

    Conservative UK prime minister after winning 2019 general election with majority of 80. Promised to “Get Brexit done” (unlike previous Tory government under Theresa May, hampered by hung parliament following 2017 snap election).

Jesus fucking Christ. Thanks, UK electorate. A Trump-like frontman for the super-rich disguised as a clown. God help us. Except there’s no God, so we’re basically fucked. The next general election’s due in 2024. The UK opposition Labour Party needs to win back its traditional Brexit-inclined voters to overturn the Tory majority, and there’s no sign of that from the metrocentric party. So, here’s to 2029.

Update, December 2022: Bonzo’s Trumpish clown act wore thin, and his party kicked him out. His ultra-neolib replacement was quickly replaced after upsetting the all-powerful ‘market’. Her replacement is facing multiple strikes. Polls show Labour deserters returning (without any help from the centrist Labour leadership). Here’s to 2024!

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼


PC | ID politics | Cancel culture

Can whites be woke? If so, I like to think I am. Is my self-ascribed wokeness political correctness by another name? Maybe. Both ideas attract disdain from gammon numpties and wierdo intellectuals (Jordan Peterson). The ‘anti-woke’ backlash is no joke.

However…a heartfelt plea by black US academic John McWhorter in his 2021 book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America – I’ve read about it – made me think twice. He says it’s wrong for black people to be persuaded by the woke to see themselves mainly as victims of racism. (He’s conservative, but even so…)

If that’s what’s happening, maybe wokeness has gone too far. Black, South Asian and mixed-heritage people living in the West are victims of racism – but they’re much more than that.

soothfairy | woke   🔼

Political correctness

I came across a 2018 live four-way Canadian debate on YouTube with the oddly worded motion, ‘What you call political correctness, I call progress’. That assumes that to call something politically correct is to insult it. ‘PC’ has been used mockingly since the 80s, but when did it become only an insult?

Opposing the motion were Jordan Peterson (Canadian wierdo) and Stephen Fry (English actor). Despite being – surprisingly, for a leftie lovey – on the ‘wrong’ (insult) side, Fry blew the three north Americans away. He was good on the tyrannical language-mangling of PC (recently) gone too far.

(The ‘debate’ loses the point and goes on a bit – FF advised.)

soothfairy | woke   🔼

Identity politics

Woke’s imperfect cousin, it’s a hot potato, the snowflakes’ playground, fun with Foucault. (I’ve read about him.) See, if you will, the section on this in my anti-racism post, Racism explained as a redundant instinct.

soothfairy | woke   🔼

Cancel culture

Has wokeness and political correctness gone too far?

Despite PC’s 1930s totalitarian origin and its early ’70s satirical reintroduction, 1970s PC became progressive, protecting minorities from abusive language. Then it started protecting minorities from criticism.

Now it protects identity politics snowflakes (no offence 😉) from offence. Witches have been hunted, offenders ‘cancelled’ and careers trashed.

The cancel culture issue was brilliantly addressed by US fiction author Philip Roth in his book The Human Stain (2000), in which an American college professor resigns in disgrace after describing two students who haven’t turned up for his course as ‘spooks’.

He meant ghosts, but ‘spooks’ is also a term of abuse for black people. He didn’t know the missing students were black. He refused to apologise, and was forced to resign.

(Yes, I know, re PC, Roth’s been accused of misogynism – but the jury’s out. In a nicely nuanced article, female journalist and author Hadley Freeman provides expert evidence for the defence.)

Apparently the book’s scenario actually happened to a friend of Roth’s in 1985. In that case – in those days – there was no witch-hunt. There was an investigation, and Roth’s friend was exonerated.

These days, mess with the snowflakes if you dare.

  • My mother said I never should mess with the snowflakes in the wood
  • It’s dark in there and full of trolls with teeth and claws and big black holes
  • To pull you in and spit you out, cancel-cultured, nought and nowt
  • Mess with snowflakes if you dare; heat of reason serve you fair
  • Hugo Brucciani, 2021

I’ll stick with the 1970s version.

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼

The coronavirus pandemic

Millions dying, lockdown and the tantalising mirage of a post-pandemic utopia slowly drove me mad. Global neocapitalism (along with its associated environmental destruction and austerity economics) temporarily retreated, but no doubt the evil empire is regrouping, ready to feast on the weakened poor.

Soothfairy – the overshare
Great issues of the day   🔼

Life, love, death

A double-choice test/false dichotomy:

What’s the meaning of life?

    A. Life is a mirror. Its meaning is to give individual form to universal consciousness in order to reflect it.
    B. There’s none – life’s a meaningless pile of poo.

What’s love?

    A. What the heart wants
    B. A hubristic illusion

What happens when you die?

    A. After death, your individual soul is healed and lives on for a while. Then it’s reborn. After many rounds of reincarnation, your soul returns to universal consciousness.
    B. A big fat nothing

(Answers given in the Book of Life)

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Blog nuts and bolts

HTML, blah, blah, blah

WordPress.com is a nice, free, open-source blog platform. You can buy upgrades, but they don’t hassle you. The WordPress Foundation is a nonprofit organization.

My blog’s only got one menu (top right): all my posts are in it. Recently viewed posts are at the top; the rest are in alphabetical order.

I’d like to have more readers and more feedback, but despite reading all the tips and trying many of them out, I still don’t know how to get more visitors – apart from emailing relevant people.

For some of my more serious posts (about Islamophobia, racism, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya, east European migration to the UK, the call for UK patriotism, and the implications of increasing automation) I’ve searched for experts, and emailed them an invitation to read the post and respond. I’ve had some responses, most of which I’ve summarised in the post.

I used to happily do everything on my phone, but a WordPress.com upgrade badly messed up my blog. It took weeks to sort out the messed-up HTML. After that disaster, I found that continued phone editing was highly unsafe. Now I only do it on the laptop. (Not so nice, WordPress.com!)

Yes, I use HTML. WordPress upgraded to ‘blocks’, supposedly a user-friendly design tool – but it’s less flexible than DIY HTML. I tried moving a post to the new system, and it destroyed all my internal links. (I use a lot.) So, no thanks. Anyway, I like messing about with HTML.

I don’t much like the look of the blog on my laptop; but I’ve tried to find a WordPress.com ‘theme‘ that looks OK on laptop and phone. I’m currently using Colinear. I’ve finally figured out (more or less) how to have a ‘static home page’ (this one).

I try to credit all the photos and images I use. Google’s reverse image search is good for finding image sources and higher resolution images (on phone: https://ctrlq.org/google/images in Chrome). The occasional speech and thought bubbles are mine – I use a nice little app called PicSay.

Why are some words and phrases in bold? Why not?

That’s it!

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Spectrum analysis

If, like me, you like to arrange your sock drawer just so, you’re not – as people often say – ‘a bit OCD‘.

There’s no such thing, and people with OCD (a seriously debilitating mental illness) can be – rightly – offended by that term. However, you can be ‘a bit autistic‘.

Apparently, we’re all on the autistic spectrum and, apparently, compulsive behaviour is a feature of autism – it’s soothing and a source of enjoyment (unlike with OCD).

Those of us at the lower end of the spectrum are ‘neurotypical‘: people without a defined neurological disorder. Another clue – as well as my sock drawer – to my self-defined lower-end autism is that I don’t listen to song lyrics.

For an insight into how (defined) autistic people see themselves portrayed by us allistics (neurotypicals), there’s a fascinating review by an autistic person of the movie The Accountant, in which Ben Affleck plays an autistic assassin.

I enjoyed the movie – the character’s obsessiveness makes him an excellent assassin – but the review exposes the film’s stereotyped and one-dimensional portayal of autism.

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It’s good to talk

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