Saturday, December 16, 2006

Until we are truly equal, we are not free to choose. Anon

We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.
Victor Hugo (author of Les Miserables)

The exhibition today at the Women's Library blew me away. Shon and I spent about 4 hours there, absorbing each aspect of each display and we still did not get to see it all. I would strongly recommend that anyone, man or woman, takes the time to get to London's Women's Library and see it for themselves. I can guarantee that this exhibition will do what every good piece of culture does: entertain, inform and challenge.

Prostitution: What's Going On? is dedicated to Josephine Butler, who was an early campaigner for sexual equality and who led the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts, which gave the police the right to arrest any woman suspected of selling sex. The aim of these acts, believe it or not, was to stop the rise of sexual diseases amongst the military, yes, that's the right - who were men. So who got arrested, detained and subjected to compulsory 'treatment?' The women. Butler said of the Acts:

"They are nothing but an arrangement for catching, examining, cleansing and returning to the street women for the safe enjoyment of men."

And in this piece of history lies a central point in any consideration of prostitution through the ages - more often than not we're looking at women, not men. The buyer of sex stays as a mysterious, undiscussed and predominantly unchallenged figure, whilst the women, as ever, are placed under the microscope, labelled and filed. This remains broadly similar to the legislation on prostitution of many countries now, especially those who have decriminalised or legalised it: the women selling sex are registered and regularly, compulsorily screened, but there is no compulsory screening for the buyers.

Here are some frightening facts included in the exhibition for those of you still labouring under the common misapprehension that the majority of prostitutes or sex workers 'choose' their profession freely:

At the point where they sell sex for the first time:
  • 1 in 2 women are under 18 years
  • 1 in 4 are under 16 years
  • and 1 in 3 have experienced violence or abuse
The issue of prostitution is not an easy one to cover. What I liked most about this exhibition was the variety of ways in which they looked at prostitution and the variety of mediums that were used. The curator has obviously tried to include as wide a diversity of opinions as possible, and also consistently draws the visitor into the debate, asking difficult questions on the displays and encouraging people to contribute to the key discussions.

There are two phone-boxes in the exhibition each of which presents two oral histories taken from two different people: two are prostitutes and two are punters. The dichotomy of experience presented here was at times exceptionally disturbing. In the first phone box, a woman tells of her first experience selling sex at 14 years old. She was given ten pounds by a man who had sex with her in the back of a car. Later, when her mother found out what she was doing, her mother let her use the house to bring clients back to.

Here are some quotes from these women's testimonials:

"The trouble is it's easy money and it's hard to get out fucks your head up. I've never enjoyed sex, never had an orgasm...I hate men."

"I'm never going to get out of this job and lead a normal life."

"Sometimes I'm tired of greasy people, touching and pawing me.....but you've got to be an actress on the mattress."

"It eats away at you like acid."

The reality of listening to these interviews was for me, the moment when I began to discover my core feelings on this issue. Women like me, who have never been in these women's shoes, can stand outside of their experiences and struggle to understand the complexities of her right to sell herself and his right to buy sex as much as we wish; wringing our hands and trying to pass the correct judgement. But for me, the reality of it came down to hearing these women speak: about violence, about lack of choices, about having sex for money when you're 14 - and one other central point.

When you regard prostitution and sexual trafficking as the industry that it is, the ones really bringing in the cash are men. It's an industry owned, controlled and almost exclusively used by men - and if you bring in government, it's an industry that's almost exclusively legislated over by men, too. To give you an example, a trafficker called Luan Plakici, selling women through escort agencies, earned £144,000 from 1 woman in just 2 years. How is that different from a slave owner on the plantations in the 1800's?

The division between the experiences of the sex workers and the men who buy sex was also, at times, bitterly funny. In the Punter's phone box were the accounts of two men who regularly use prostitutes. On one of the displays was a piece of research telling the visitors that sex buyers are almost overwhelmingly male, and in a minority (i.e. comparitively few men regularly use prostitutes). Most interestingly, very few of them have no other sexual outlets, indeed most have long term partners. Here's some excerpts from the men:

"it allows you to be promiscuous without it having to impact at home, like having an affair without the mistress asking you to leave your wife." (That's an interesting comparison, isn't it?)

"there are no thoughts of (the woman) being any less than my equal...and I've met so many nice people."

"It's a good release for them, and it's a good release for me."

Both punters made reference to the women having a 'good time' sexually (yeah sure - how likely do you think that is, really?!?), which considering that both women in the other phone box referenced their relationship and respect for men being permanently damaged, I found fascinating and more than a little contemptuous.

Most frightening of all, for those of us who view prostitution/sex work/sex industry and sexual trafficking as inextricably linked with the sexual objectification of women (there can only be about two readers who have made it to this point, and they're both hardened feminists - anyone else still here, good for you!), is one other fact that I wasn't aware of.

The numbers of women and girls being sexually trafficked globally are growing with every passing decade. Currently, at least 1,000,000 women and girls are trafficked globally every year.

The display on global trends concludes:

"sex industries and trafficking expand considerably in the aftermath of conflict, the arrival of peacekeepers and burgeoning criminal activity."

So, with the UK engaging in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan at present, we can now quite genuinely lay claim to screwing the world from every conceivable angle. The more the boys bring out their big guns to play with across the globe, the more women paying the horrific, unchosen and - for women in many countries STILL without the vote - undemocratic price.

There are several other aspects of the exhibition we hardly got to spend any time with, for example, a short film about women being trafficked from other countries across the world into the UK. Being in the process of working on slavery and the slave trade, the parallels here were shocking: Guinea, including Sierra Leone, which form the focus of the Chasing Freedom exhibition, is one of the main originating countries in Africa of women for sex trafficking, and the UK is one of the major destinations of trafficked women.

We also didn't get to spend much time with the young women's diaries. This part of the exhibition presented diaries from 6 projects across the UK working with girls and young women who are being abused through prostitution. I think this was one of the main succeses of the entire exhibition - at the end, prostitution no longer seems like a faceless issue, it seems like an infinitely human one.

In my opinion we are a long way from a place where the majority of women can freely make a 'choice' to sell her body for sex, and this is evidenced in the fact that the vast majority of women are not making a 'free' choice. The common denominators for entry into prostitution include: abuse, violence, drug or alcohol abuse, debt, poverty and being in care in childhood. The infinitely intricate and highly organised supporting structure of sexual trafficking, and the fact that the only ones making a profit are, in the main, men, tells me this 'industry' is not about equality, freedom or choice for women at all. Which is not to say that the women who involved in it are merely victims - quite the opposite.

Whether you think you're interested in the issue of prostitution, whether you think it has anything to do with you as a person, or your life or your lifestyle, I would recommend - no, in fact, I would plead with you, to see this exhibition. There is no one who would come away from this exhibition without learning something about the world and something about yourself.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The Women's Library - just on principle, really

2. Deciding to organise my own exhibition - on 'The Punter'

3. Culture, in all its infinite variety

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hyenas in Petticoats

Today's image comes courtesy of the fabulous Jacky Fleming and is called 'Never Give Up.'

Tomorrow, I'm jaunting up to London to see an exhibition on prostitution at the Women's Library. The exhibition is called: Prostitution - What's Going On? (it's an awful title, but I can understand that it was probably very hard to name) and it examines the issues surrounding prostitution and trafficking, in the past and the present. I have always wanted to visit the Women's Library, so I'm really looking forward to it, and in addition, I'm going there with my best feminist friend, Shon.

One of the sections of the exhibition that I am most looking forward to is some work completed by a group of young women exploited through prostitution, which Kit Kat's project was involved in. I know that for many prostitution is an unpopular subject, but it is also one of the most commonly misunderstood issues in our society, or indeed, the history of our society.

I know also that this exhibition may not be to everyone's tastes, but worry ye not, that's why you have me - to visit the parts of culture others flinch from. I'm the cultural correspondent on the edge, on the streets, on the edge of the streets sometimes when I'm feeling particularly, er, edgy. I'll be lecturing all about it when I get back...

To me, the interesting thing about prostitution from a sociological point of view is what any discussion of the topic reveals about our beliefs on sex (biological) and gender, and sexuality. My beliefs on the subject are underpinned by my long-standing thinking as a feminist, and this exhibition comes at a particularly poignant time, given the horrific murders taking place in Ipswich and the huge attention that is given to the fact that the women being murdered are prostitutes.

Go back to the reports on the Yorkshire Ripper, (hell, while you're there, go back further to Jack the Ripper if you want to) and the rhetoric remains the same as that surrounding the Ipswich killer. What rhetoric, Sarah? Well...
  • When prostitutes are being killed, it's different somehow from 'normal' women (are we really saying 'good' women?)
  • There are repeated warnings for ALL women to 'be careful,' this often accompanies clearer calls to action for women, including don't go out alone, don't engage in dangerous behaviour (which means deviant behaviour, and includes having too much sex, being sexually aggressive or 'asking for it', wearing short skirts, drinking - oh, and especially, it means being a prostitute).
  • There are also repeated reports of how the prosititute 'community' (as if they have an official professional association that feeds them press releases and codes of practice) are repeatedly behaving 'dangerously', many of which reports say just about everything they can without actually saying 'she was asking for it.'
  • There is a subtext that the killer is a monster, not a man. This was the biggest mistake made with Peter Sutcliffe and countless serial rapists: an underlying belief that the suspect will be somehow 'obviously' deviant.

It's as if we have a problem understanding that this is the behaviour of one guy - he's probably married (sorry ring-wearers, but statistically, your favourite institution is often home to some of the major forms of deviance that western civilisation has on offer. That's why we say 'keeping it in the family' and 'behind closed doors'), average, and dull; an unsurprising little freakazoid, one pathetic little man.

He'll be the kind of guy you stand next to in the queue at the supermarket, he opens the door for you at the library, you see him every day at work - and here's the clincher, you'll never have suspected a thing. This isn't as controversial as it sounds, think about it - if serial killers and rapists were easily recognisable monsters, I think we'd find them more easily.

There's another contradiction in the rhetoric, too, because if it's the fact that the killer targets prostitutes that distinguishes these murders, why are the police telling all women not to go out alone?

Now the nights are dark, I think about the 'Ipswich Ripper' every day, when I walk home alone from work. That's how powerful we make these men. One man, whose most notable achievement is to kill women in secret in one sodding English town, who chooses to kill women and then to hide, gets to control a nation of women. And I'm going to go one step further - the way we report these killings encourages that control and feeds that power.

The reality is that the killer is the problem - this freakish little screwed up nothing of a man is the problem, not whether the women of Ipswich go out at night. I'm guessing his mother didn't kiss goodnight often enough or something; whatever - he lost the right to my compassion when he started killing easy targets. And you might be thinking, Uh, yeah sure Sarah, state the obvious, of course the killer is the problem - but then why are we talking about what the 'prostitute community' are doing? Why are we telling women to stay home, to stay sober in order to stay safe?

I say screw that (actually, I'd say something a lot worse, but Lady Drusilla at the Ministry of Culture gets scary mad about swearing and I only just gave her the blog address).

Women should not only be going out at night - all night, every night - they should be going out en masse, patrolling the streets in packs, hanging out on corners as the Prostitute Personal Protection Patrol and praying that they, and not the police, are the ones who will catch this guy and personally punish him. A bit of penile as opposed to penal justice, I think.

In 2003, I wrote a polemic essay for a book themed around the feminist seventies for The Centre for Women's Studies at York University. My essay was about the nature of women's and, more specifically, feminist anger. It was called 'No Longer Reasonable' and in it, I wrote the following, and it still remains true for me today.

"A I write today, a serial rapist nicknamed the 'Trophy' rapist, who has claimed ten victims so far, fills the news. Police are warning women and girls across the southeast of England 'that they should be accompanied and remain alert' (BBC news online), as they have no doubts the rapes will continue. The atmosphere of watchful panic is reminiscent of the fear that spread among women during the attacks perpetrated by the Yorkshire 'Ripper' during the late seventies. Once again, one man sentences the women of the UK to self-enforced curfews and helpless dependency. Once again, one man, portrayed as a monster, reminds women of what we already know: the perpetual awareness of being a potential victim that serves to undermine our autonomy.

I would like to see women stepping out of their houses, together, into the very areas they have been warned attacks may take place. I would like to see large groups of women searching for this man, I would like him to feel hunted and haunted and afraid. Most of all, I would like to see acts of furious and open defiance by women to illustrate that we will not be passively terrified into submission until the burly police force comes to our rescue. In order for this to happen, women would need to link such acts of violence against women with a feminist understanding of women's oppression worldwide. As Solanas fumed in her SCUM Manifesto (1968), women 'could acquire complete control of this country within a few weeks by simply withdrawing from the labour force, thereby paralysing an entire nation...The police force, National Guard, Army, Navy and Marines combined couldn't squelch a rebellion of over half the population, particularly when it's made up of people they are utterly helpless without.'"

This is why they call us Militant Feminists. Let me close today's entry with a Manifesto written in 1975 for International Women's Day by
Joyce Stevens.

Because a Woman's Work is Never Done Manifesto

Because a woman's work is never done.
and is underpaid, or unpaid, or boring, or repetitious,
and we're the first to get fired,
and what we look like is more important than what we do.
And if we get raped its our fault
and if we get beaten we must have provoked it
and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches
and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos
and if we don't we're frigid
and if we love women it's because we can't get a real man
and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic or pushy
and if we expect childcare we're selfish
and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and un-feminine
and if we don't we're typical weak females
and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man
and if we don't we're unnatural
and because we still can't get an adequate, safe contraceptive, but men can walk on the moon
and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion
and for lots and lots of other reasons
we are part of the women's liberation movement...

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The joyous struggle

2. Solidarity in adversity

3. Never Give Up

"Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art." Charles McCabe

I missed the blog again. I spent last night manipulating the voice of Tom Baker. No, honest! I did. I may need to explain.

I've been emotionally dislocated over the last couple of weeks, and, along with a few other things, it's been bothering me a little. So, I've spent the last few evenings in solitude, trying to reconnect with the Grumpster in myself and have a conversation with her about what exactly is biting my ass so badly that it's turning me into a Blue Meanie.

Last night I had planned to do the same, and I had set myself up nicely with a simple dinner (pig and roasted vegetables) and a bottle of wine (chosen by the Chief, who we bow to in all things tasteful) for some quiet, relaxing reflection and an evening with a good book (but more of that later). As you may already have guessed, and as I have mentioned a thousand times before about my best laid plans, they all fell to the wayside.

My brother turned up to pick up some money I owed him shortly after I came in from work, and just as I was cooking dinner. We chatted for a bit, shared my meal and opened the wine. Then I mentioned a joke (and I use the term loosely) that he had sent me by text message to my landline. I don't know how many of you use this facility, but if you send a text to a landline, a computerised voice reads the message out for you. It's really very clever.

As I explained to my brother, the voice that reads the message has changed, and it's gone from being a highly digitised female who reads everything in a monotone, to sounding like, well, like Tom Baker. Matt swears that on his phone, the voice is a woman from somewhere in India, but on mine, it's definitely Tom Baker. Please feel free to experiment with sending texts to your own landline and let me know your voice.

You'd have to know my brother for this to be obvious, but once he discovered that my phone can speak like Tom Baker, the course of the evening was pretty much certain. We spent the rest of the evening sending texts to my phone and getting Tom Baker to say outlandish things. Obviously a sigificant amount of wine was consumed, but it really was hilarious fun, and before I could say 'Good Lord, isn't that an old fashioned police box?' I was far too drunk to write the blog.

I have considered allowing myself to write the blog when inebriated, but I'm not sure who would suffer more for it, me or you. Anyway, I'm currently trying to work on a way to upload the various messages of Tom Baker onto the blog for you (WARNING: some of them contain swearing and not to be listened to by Miss Drusilla for this reason. Dru, I had nothing to do with the swearing bits, I promise!).

Three Beautiful Things

1. Hi Sarah. It's Tom Baker. Yes, that's right, Tom bloody Baker.

2. Matthias

3. Unexpected evenings and laughing until you're making silly noises through your nose

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The world's as ugly as sin, and almost as delightful. Frederick Locker-Lampson

Tonight's image is courtesy of Liz Cohn. Please have a look at her website, I don't feature artists as often as I should and she reminded me today why it's important! This picture is called Hormonal Sage.

You can't buy it from her website because it's already been sold, but you can buy her diary for next year, which looks awesome and is themed around collage. Anyone looking to buy me gifts, this is a good one!

Rainy Night - Dorothy Parker
I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the windowpane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

Yesterday I was a hormonicidal maniac, or as the gorgeous Miss Clark puts it, "wearing my grumpy hat." I find it harder to counteract the effect of my hormonal cycle than I do an average moment of depression. I think this is because there is no rhyme or reason to a hormonal cycle mood swing - one minute you're fine, the next you're sad, then you're fine, then you're angry, then you're fine but you're crying and you don't know why.....

I cried off the cinema last night, which as you may remember, was my night to see the critically slated 'The Holiday' with Miss Lisa, Miss Sally and the ever-dapper Chief. By the time it came to leaving time, though, I knew I wasn't in the right head-space and I went home, tucked myself up and watched about thirty episodes of American Gothic (which I would love to tell you is my new 'House', but, entertaining though it is, isn't. I hope the good side win though, all the same.)

For those of you who still haven't checked out Mark Kermode's review of The Holiday, he opens it by saying, "They say more people commit suicide over the Christmas period than any other time. With movies like these in the cinemas, I can see why."

This adventure in the art of criticism leads me nicely to some examples of my favourite Dorothy Parker's best comments on others, which are guaranteed to make me feel better, even when hormonicidal (the chief called me witty yesterday, btw, and the Dorothy Parker that lives on in my frontal lobe positively glowed):

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B. (speaking of Katherine Hepburn)

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

This is not a novel that should be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can't say No in any of them.

Aimee Semple McPherson has written a book. And were you to call it a little peach, you would not be so much as scratching its surface. It is the story of her life, and it is called In the Service of the King, which title is perhaps a bit dangerously suggestive of a romantic novel. It may be that this autobiography is set down in sincerity, frankness and simple effort. It may be, too, that the Statue of Liberty is situated in Lake Ontario.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. Waking in the warm to the sound of a wailing wind

2. Chasing the blues

3. And speaking of blues, here's Glenn (doo do doo doo do do do dooo - oh no, that's Bod, sorry. Lou, you may be the only person to catch this reference...)

Monday, December 11, 2006

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it. Leo Rosten

This morning started well. Kate’s car wouldn’t start, and we were trapped in an immobile vehicle with the choice of persevering in the attempts to start the engine, or sitting in the car and waiting for the weather to subside so that we could leave. One choice that was definitely not on the books was to brave the weather that had just soaked us through whilst crossing the common to get to the car. Instead, we sat inside, giggling hysterically (and I mean that literally) wishing for the car to start and shouting every so often to Kit Kat’s car, “C’mon Peanut!” (Kate believes in naming her cars).

At 8.45 I had to call the office to let them know that I wasn’t hungover and retiring under my duvet (I was hungover and stuck in a car). Miss Sally answered cheerily, and I explained our predicament. At the exact moment that I told her the car wouldn’t start, Kate turned the key to the engine, and – you’ve guessed it – Peanut roared into life.

“Miss Sally!” I declared, “You’ve magically started the car with the power of your mind!”

“Oh, what hilarious fun! It must be our magical powers!” she replied.

And I think she’s right. Magical things happen when Miss Sally and I are together, like when Eric Twinge (of 29 Acacia Road – remember him? Lou, I know you do…..) eats a banana and magically transforms into Bananaman. Except a bit different, obviously.

The rest of the day passed peacefully and uneventfully enough in the Ministry of Culture. A couple of people gave some good feedback on my culture sermon from the weekend, which I rather liked. It’s interesting how some of my most popular observations are a result of complete inebriation isn’t it?

And talking of culture, did anyone catch the Culture Show over the weekend? It was notable for two particular reasons. The first was the regular slam-dunk of a review that Mark Kermode gave the new Christmas cinema favourite, The Holiday. I’ve heard Kermode give some pretty condemnatory reviews, but this one really held no prisoners. As I recall, at one point, he compared it to spending two hours “wading through vomit.”

Now although I laughed at the review (how could you not? The power of the critic is awesome!), I was thrown into a state of DDD (Deep Down Disappointment) at this condemnation because I have really wanted to see The Holiday. Mostly because it features Jack Black, who I L-O-V-E, admittedly, but I would have gladly tolerated the rest of the cast, too. It is Christmas after all. I was then further confused when doing my daily check of favourite blogs this morning as the gorgeous Miss Lisa gave The Holiday a rave review! Fortunately, thanks to the wonderful Clarky, we are all going to see it tomorrow night and I’ll be able to find out for myself. Watch out Mr Kermode if I disagree with you!

And finally, whilst talking of the Culture Show, you must check out the Christmas Greeting from Coldcut. Incredibly powerful stuff. You can find both Mark's reviews (also of Happy Feet and The Nativity) and the Coldcut Christmas Greeting here

Today’s Beautiful Things

  1. Miss Sally taking extra special care of me when I felt like I was birthing a mule this morning
  2. White chocolate buttons – a special treat for every suffering feminist everywhere
  3. The Chief’s new coat – it’s more than a bit fabulous, you know.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Stars in the mind

On Friday, Bean - who knows my feminist interests well and knows everything I need to know about all things science - told me all about Henrietta Swan Leavitt, an astronomer who lived in the 1800's and who Bean described as the enabler of cosmology.

Leavitt volunteered at the Harvard Observatory for 7 years before they offered her a permanent post in 1907. She was tasked with determining the brightness of all measurable stars, and her work enabled later astronomers to accurately calculate the distance between stars, and thus provided a significant contrinution to cosmology as we know it today. You can find out all about Leavitt here.

Yesterday, I was seeing stars of a slightly different kind, as G and I braved the insanity that is Palmerston Road to attempt some Christmas shopping. At first, I thought I was just in a bit of a shoddy mood. There were too many people around, being all kinds of moody and non-goodwillish to all men, for a start. Then I made the mistake of trying to do some clothes shopping at the same time - not my favourite of all things in any case - and the day was finished off. Tears in the changing room are not a happy sight.

Poor G suffered my craziness with her usual calm distance. I turned into even more of a mood Nazi. By the time we returned to the Heights, we had both had more than enough of me and the Universe rightly handed out some karma by smacking the top of my spine across the fireplace. I cannot describe to you how painful that was, both physically and spiritually. I cried like a small chimp separated from its mother.

G departed to visit my brother round the corner (and probably to search out a human being who could actually smile) and I collapsed into more confused tears on the couch. When I called G about half an hour later to apologise, she asked immediately, "Sarah, what have you eaten today?"

It was five o'clock in the evening and I realised I hadn't had anything to eat since the morning, when I'd had some cornflakes. Apparently, you can really mess with your blood sugar levels this way and your blood sugar levels can really mess with your mind, and by proxy the minds of everyone else around you. We had a lovely dinner (basically pig and potatoes) and I felt much better, mood over.

All of which provides further proof that if at any point I seem unhappy, I should be instantly handed a bar of Dairy Milk. I've been trying to convince many people of this for a long time.

It's hard for me to deal with the fact that I am a brain in a body and that the sense of me as an individual originates in the fact that my brain - whilst being aware of every single part of my body, from the tiniest nerve endings to the entirety of my skin - has no awareness of its own existence. Because of this fundamental fact, we perceive the world as an 'I', rather than perceiving the world as a series of operations being carried out by the brain.

But I explain all this very badly. Should you require further proof of the power of the brain and the body, please read some Oliver Sacks (available at your local library, of course). Start with his neurological adventures in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat

Quote du Jour

A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience.
- John Updike

Last thing today, for those of you who have taken my advice and customised their Google, can I please recommend mysteries of the day. If you're not sure if you'd like it, check out a sample story - this one reminds me of experiments where scientists have created the conditions under which people report feeling spooked with electro-magnetic fields, which was of some comfort to me last week when I went into the spooky collections store at the RN Museum and was repeatedly convinced someone was in there staring at me.

Have you experienced any spookiness lately? I had a very weird dream about a lunatic asylum last night, if that counts. It involved my friend Howard, a large group of people I don't know, the Chief and a cat called Ashantee. I know, not all of my madness is caused by blood sugar.