It’s beyond frustrating that things like empathy, tolerance, manners and kindness are what get you branded a ‘snowflake’, ‘SJW’, or some other snide description.

How about, instead of laughing at someone, take a minute to understand why they’re offended?

I’m not saying I’m perfect (by any means!), but I’m learning as I go.

While we’re on it, can we also please stop using ‘liberal’ as an insult. Wanting equality, and respecting others, doesn’t make us ‘whiny pussies’. Times are changing and we need to change with them. We need to listen to survivors, victims and minorities, and learn how to be better.

Being open-minded and accepting of others takes nothing away from you. Stop hiding behind your ‘traditional’ values and realise that letting women have rights over their bodies, or accepting other beliefs and sexual orientations WON’T AFFECT YOU IN ANY WAY.

The people who call us snowflakes are always, oddly, the people who get the most butthurt when they think their ‘freedom of speech’ is being taken away. The people who ‘speak their mind’ or ‘tell it like it is’ are usually the people who hate to be challenged.

Listen. Open your mind. Be better.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The lovely people at Paperless Post very kindly reached out to me and offered me some free credits to use their online invitation and guestlist service.

With my book coming out soon, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create some snazzy launch party invitations.

With so many lovely designs to choose from, it was a tough decision, but I settled on something fun, bright and colourful. You get to customise everything and the website is super user-friendly.

I’m so happy with the finished design, and the whole process took hardly any time at all. It’s really easy to manage your guestlist and keep track of who’s RSVP’d.

Overall, I was really impressed by the service. It’s a really simple way to send out beautiful digital invitations and have your guestlist in one easy to manage place.

If you’ve got a big event coming up and you want to do a bit more than just create a Facebook event, but don’t fancy faffing with old-fashioned postal invites, this is ideal.

Laura Crow, 24, has suffered from OCD since she was 15. At her worst, she was consumed by a compulsive need to check locks and turn lights off, which left her unable to leave the house.

Writing Greyhounds helped distract her from the debilitating effects of her illness, and she found herself writing mostly in the early hours of the morning – when her OCD was at its worst.

“It distracted me from the compulsive thoughts and rituals that become so bad in the evenings,” Laura says.

“I’ve always felt drawn to the past, epspecially the 1940s and soon I’d developed a whole set of characters and a story that had to be finished. People in a time of crisis – at breaking point – resonated with my state of mind.”

Cast in front of Spitfire

Greyhounds is set in a small village during World War Two. As the war rages around them, a group of residents attempt to put on a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry V, to raise money for their local Spitfire fund.

Following two successful runs in 2017, the play is set to be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Laura plays the part of Katherine, a young woman with a gift for spotting numbers and patterns. She struggles with social interaction and adapting to change, which leads others to think of her as strange.

Laura wanted to portray the strength and resilience of someone who doesn’t fit in because of their ability to see the world differently. This, she says, is a feeling that many who struggle with their mental health will likely relate to.

More info

When: 3rd-18th August, 8:15pm
Where: Edinburgh Fringe, the Space on the Mile
Contact: itslauracrow@gmail.com

Before you start, I just want to apologise for the videos not being embedded – WordPress was having none of it for some reason. All the screenshots below are clickable, and will open YouTube in another window.

Georgia ‘No Grips’ Dabritz

NCAA champion gymnast Georgia is a joy to watch on bars. What makes her all the more impressive is that she never wears grips – hence the nickname!

Georgia Dabritz

Beth Tweddle

Who can forget her incredible performance on the uneven bars at the 2012 London Olympics? While I don’t find her routine as enjoyable to watch as others that are more fluid and flowing, the level of technical difficulty she displays is just incredible.

I was gutted that she stumbled on the landing, but she still managed to take home the bronze medal.

(Watch from 16:26.)

Beth Tweddle

Bridget Sloan

Former Olympic champion and Florida Gators gymnast, Bridget Sloan, is one of my favourite gymnasts to watch. Her floor routines are full of energy and personality, and the huge smile on her face makes this particular one an absolute joy.

Bridget Sloan

Team USA, 2016 Olympic Games

The US women’s team made history at the 2016 Olympics, winning the all-round gold with some truly outstanding performances. The first I’m going to mention is Aly Raisman and her stunning floor routine.

I still get goosebumps when I think about her becoming overwhelmed by emotion as she finishes and is hit by the full weight of everything she’s just accomplished. I almost cried with her when I first watched it.

Aly Raisman

Gabby Douglas returned for her second Olympic Games. I personally loved her performance on uneven bars, even the small mistake she makes. The way she recovers from it and carries on going, displaying remarkable strength and control, is amazing. See if you can spot it!

Gabby Douglas

Madison Kocian, the team’s bars specialist was one I was very excited to watch, given that the uneven bars are my favourite apparatus. She definitely did not disappoint. She may have just lost out on gold to Aliya Mustafina (whose routine was very similar, with just a few added skills earning her some extra points), but I’m confident we will see big things from her at the 2020 Olympics.

Madison Kocian

Simon Biles, widely thought of as the best gymnast in the world, gave a remarkable all-round performance. On floor, she stunned with powerful tumbling passes jam-packed full of skills. I look forward to seeing what she delivers in 2020.

Simone Biles

I’ve saved my favourite until last, with Laurie Hernandez and her vibrant and joyful floor routine.

The song choice is impeccable, her timing flawless, and the amount of personality and sass she injects into her performance is captivating. I get goosebumps whenever I watch it.

Wow.

Laurie Hernandez

Nadia Comăneci

How could I leave this historic moment off my list? At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, a fourteen year old Nadia Comăneci became the first gymnast to ever score a perfect ten.

This routine will be very different to what we’re used to seeing in modern gymnastics, with two notable differences being the space between the two bars, and a skill known as belly beating (when the gymnast holds the high bar, curls around the low bar and ‘bounces’ her stomach off it).

Comaneci

I love watching old routines, as it’s very interesting to see all the ways gymnastics has changed, and see former skills that have since been banned. Which leads me onto…

Olga Korbut

Watch the incredible moment Korbut stuns the crowd with a skill that became known as the Korbut Flip. It was later banned for being too dangerous.

Olga Korbut

Sky Sports very kindly reached out to me to see if I would support their campaign with the Women’s Sport Trust.

#ShowUp is all about encouraging women to get more involved with sport – whether that be watching or playing.

I plan to continue watching the incredible gymnasts who inspire and amaze me, and start playing badminton again with Dave.

#ShowUp wristband

Two years ago, while searching for jobs on Gumtree, I spotted quite possibly the best (and strangest) advert I’ve ever come across.

Being that I’m wasn’t a bald man (I’m still not, so I don’t know why I phrased it like that), I laughed it off, resigning myself to the fact that this was one mystery I probably wasn’t going to solve.

Except I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Why the oddly specific number of bald men? Actually, scrap the number – why was this person trying to round up bald men, full stop?! And not just any bald men, but fully bald ones?!!

Eventually, after many WhatsApp conversations with friends, I concluded that this must be for some sort of student film.

Phew. What a relief. And so, I went on with my life.

We all know that’s not what happened though, don’t we?

Unable to stop the niggling itch of curiosity, I did what any person would do:

I set up a new email account and replied to the ad

That’s right. I catfished a man who was actively seeking bald men for unknown purposes.

Naturally, I told him that I, a proud bald man, would love to take part in his project, and perhaps he could tell me a bit more about what it involved?

It wasn’t long until I got a response. Excitedly I opened the email, eager to find out what this strange project was all about.

And it turns out, it was actually something pretty wonderful

But rather than carrying on telling the story now, I’m going to share the blog post I wrote when this all happened two years ago. Names and a couple of details have been changed as I never got final approval to share the story, but it’s so cool that I’m going to take a chance. If the people involved are actually somehow reading this, I’d love to hear from you!

The adventure continues…