The Transformation Of Jack Monroe (The Times, November 2015)

  

Jack Monroe, true to her self-outing last month as transgender “non-binary”, is surrounded by a mountain of masculine/feminine stuff in the small two-bedroom flat she shares with her five-year-old son in Southend, Essex. The skateboard with a shark on it (matching tattoo on her thumb), for example, versus the Disney Belle dress she tried to wear for Hallowe’en but couldn’t (due to testosterone therapy and working out to make her physique more masculine) encapsulate the contrasts.

She’s just dyed her hair white, with blue and purple chunks on the top – a far cry from how her image first came to widespread attention. Then, she appeared homey and ever so slightly mumsy in a floral pinny in the inside pictures in her first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, followed by A Year in 120 Recipes.

A Girl Called Jack, her bestselling breakthrough, was published in 2014. It started with a blog. The media pounced on something she posted, Hunger Hurts, in 2012, about trying to feed her son healthily (and at all) on next to nothing, going without herself and visiting food banks when she resigned from the Essex Fire Service after they rejected her request to work flexibly. She wrote her resignation letter from a hospital bed after she tried to commit suicide because she didn’t know how to both earn money and raise a child as a single parent. Her own parents were horrified when they found out she was on the breadline – “I kept it from them.”

Monroe, now 27, was more or less turned into an overnight star, not just as a “real” person capable of writing properly affordable recipes. Even The New York Times wrote a profile of her. She became what she called a “lezzer” food columnist for The Guardian (her son was conceived as a result of a brief relationship with a close friend, which she called off before she knew she was pregnant), and an impassioned liberal spokesperson for the underclass on a variety of political shows.

Today she looks like the most beautiful boy, or is it that she is a very androgynous beautiful girl? “Now my categories are completely wonky, because I don’t even know what I am.”

Since declaring herself transgender non-binary last month, she is already on testosterone, and seeing changes to her voice and stamina: “I’m not saying I want to be a man, just a slightly more masculine version of me. I want to be Jack. I might be a titless wonder, but I’ll be a titless wonder with great big long eyelashes and a pair of heels.”

The phone has started to ring again, after a fallow period brought about by ill health, both mental and physical, which meant she stopped writing and cooking. Now, modelling agencies are interested in her androgyny – “I think people find it interesting that I will model as male and female” – and the media have looked to her for transgender comment and explanation as it’s an issue very much in the air. Monroe has starred in a music video and there are also a few high-end clothing brands interested in attaching themselves to her. “But before I say yes, I have to know about what they pay their staff, their cleaners, the morality of it.”

She’s started to cook again properly, devising recipes, being creative and blogging: “I’d got to the point that it had bubbled up so much I couldn’t keep pushing it down. I don’t quite know where it’s all going to end. It will click into place and I’ll stop.

“And now I’ve got this off my chest – quite literally! – I’ve started writing again and creating recipes and I’ve got back in the kitchen. [Before then] I felt like I wasn’t being honest with my readers about something that was very fundamental. I had a two-month total absence from my blog and then I came back and had to say, ‘Please don’t call me “a girl named Jack”. I don’t feel like a girl. That name doesn’t suit or fit me any more.’

“In the morning I get showered and dried and put my binder on and then I like what I see in the mirror. I knew I had made the right decision to go public when I left my binder at a friend’s house for about four days and I was going mad. I have actually bagged up all my old feminine clothes and tea dresses to give to a transgender charity.”

She pulls up her shirt to show me her binder. I feel her flat bosoms (yes, I do!). She’s right. It’s like a very, very tight sports top. She doesn’t want a penis, she says: “I have seven of those in the drawer!” Pause. “I’ll spare you the show and tell. I have no desire to have a ghastly amount of surgery.” Are the seven penises for aesthetic reasons or sexual? “Both!” she says. “Multifunctioning! As far back as I remember I’ve roamed around the house with a sock in my pants, when other girls were sticking socks in their bras. [A penis] is not something I need or generally use, but it’s there and handy and it makes me laugh. I drag up sometimes. There are drag kings as well as queens.”

I think it’s safe to say Monroe and I have broken the ice. We’re sitting among all her higgledy-piggledy possessions, drinking tea and eating crisps. She’s got the munchies constantly, she admits, because of “the T” (transgender shorthand for testosterone), which is making the fat on her hips, thighs and tummy melt away.

There’s a sledge crammed in one corner; a baby grand piano she inherited from the landlord (she’s musical, with a beautiful voice, now lowering, and once busked with Billy Bragg); and bits of furniture she’s been given over the past three years since she sold everything to keep the bailiffs from the door in 2012.

There’s a note on the fridge – “For you, darling, Nigella xxxx” – which came attached to one of the little gifts the domestic goddess sends her regularly, and she wears a wedding ring on a right finger, moved from the left hand…

“I’ve come full circle,” she says. “Everything I own is pretty much in this room.”

Money, these days, is tight again: “Bills did and do scare the s*** out of me.” Monroe’s current financial situation is, she says, “hairy, shall we say hairy. I had to borrow money from a friend this month for my rent, but I know I’ve got money coming in. It’s feast or famine.

“One of the reasons I moved back was to root myself and cut my outgoings. To have a bit of financial security and sort myself out.”

It has not been easy this year. Today, she is covered in hives from stress. She shows me them – angry red patches – on her legs through the rips in her jeans and rubs Sudocrem over the hives on her fingers. Within the last month she has had three very terrifying episodes involving her heart in which she has, at least once, been hospitalised.

But she is trying to take better care of herself now, and falling back on old methods of feeling in control about money, making columns and lists about money coming in and due out. (In the dark old days of mouldy flats and bailiffs at the door, she had spreadsheets.) The fear of this happening again, I detect, is not far from the surface.

At the beginning of this year, Monroe had a nervous breakdown, which she attributes to breaking her foot, then being unable to work (lucrative recipe consultancies for high-street brands meant ten-hour days on her feet).

This coincided with the end of her broadsheet column. Much was also made in the press of the fact that Sainsbury’s, for which she had filmed an ad a year before, had supposedly “dropped” her over a high-profile Twitter comment she made about David Cameron using his son’s death to score points about the NHS. This was not true, she says. “I filmed the ad a year before. There wasn’t a ‘contract’ at all. But it’s safe to say I am f***ing ashamed of that comment and I wrote a page and a half letter to Samantha Cameron apologising. I should never have done it.”

It only takes a skim of her Twitter feed to see that Monroe is so impassioned that she can often be her own worst enemy. She regularly gets into long social media scraps with the Daily Mail (which seems to loathe her and everything she stands for). “I won’t be complicit in their lies about me,” she says.

She says she was written off at her very academic girls’ grammar school in Westcliff-on-Sea as a troublemaker. She was bored. Despite her obvious and fierce intelligence, she left with four and a half GCSEs, not enough to sit for A levels. She went to work in Starbucks.
“You’re only good to flip burgers,” her head of year apparently told her. “And when my first book came out, I turned down the corner of the page of my burger recipe and sent it to that teacher with a note, ‘Dear Mrs so and so, remember when you said, “I’m only good to flip burgers”? Well, here’s the recipe from my bestselling cookbook.’” She laughs.
It’s a great, ballsy story – a cautionary tale to teachers who underestimate – and a reflection of what makes Monroe such a powerful voice, but it also demonstrates the level of nervous and emotional energy that keeps her going. Her tweets show she has an almost constant instinct for combat, perhaps born of having to fight prejudice, perhaps because it’s her personality. “The abuse that I get thrown … I have had such a hellish time at the behest of trolls,” she says.

Underpinning the nervous breakdown, aside from the exhaustion and burnout, was, she says, fear of having to go back to her old life. “All the demons I have pushed down since the fire service came out,” she says. “I had panic attacks, anxiety attacks. I can’t even begin to describe the midnight nightmares, the sobbing and shaking in corners. My biggest fear was falling back into a spiral of unemployment with no money and poverty and everything that brings. Ridiculous, because I was living in a beautiful house with a woman who loved me, but I was very much terrified that everything was going to get taken away by the bailiffs.

“There was no rational thinking. I fell apart. I was so ashamed and fearful and I had all these readers telling me that my blog gives them hope for the future and I felt I needed to keep this sunny, chirpy personality going because people write to me every day.”

By then, Monroe had written her second book, A Year in 120 Recipes, at the bar of the Groucho club, sung with Bragg, been named Woman of the Year, appeared on Question Time and cooked and socialised with most of London’s foodie royalty. On a Wednesday night, she and McEvedy would cook at McEvedy’s new restaurant, Blackfoot, and come out together to meet the diners. She had cooked for and still drinks with Sue Perkins, who turned up to the book launch of her first book. “I was just thrown into this world,” she says. “What the f*** are you doing here?” Monroe remembers thinking when she saw Perkins. “I was almost too scared to set foot in the Groucho, let alone talk to anybody.” But, more importantly, she had continued to write her blog – now, post transgender outing, called Jack at a Pinch – in which she provided her recipes and advice free, determined that those unable to afford lots of cookbooks would not be excluded from being able to cook well. These were the readers for whom she felt she had to remain a success story. Unable to work, “I thought I’d become irrelevant.”

One night, she took too many sleeping pills. “I didn’t want to die. I just wanted that particular night in question to end, but when it’s a second attempt, they start to look at you really seriously then. But I was determined I didn’t want to be admitted, that I hadn’t wanted really to die and that I didn’t want to lose Johnny.” After a lot of initially expensive therapy at the Priory and then later through Mind and the NHS, Monroe recovered: “It was a really messy couple of months.”

“It was having to admit to my readers that it was over,” she says. It is the only aspect of talking about her life in which she exercises caution. All Monroe will say is that about the breakdown itself, “[Allegra] was nothing less than perfect”, that she regrets absolutely nothing and that they are friends.
__________

Jack Monroe has a birth name of Melissa. She changed it by deed poll after Johnny was born – an early step towards where she is now. Contrary to what her detractors think, “I’m not ashamed of it or embarrassed by it,” she says. “It’s on my bloody birth certificate and on my karate records and my GCSEs. My mum cross-stitched me a beautiful picture with bears on carrying a banner across saying Melissa and it’s in my flat. I haven’t burnt it or torn it to pieces or unpicked it or restitched it. I’m fine with it, but Jack is my real name.”

Jack was an old nickname and she changed her surname, too – “In for a penny” – because it sounded better. She had been intending to come out as transgender then, after Johnny was born, but she “bottled it”. She’s wanted to have her breasts removed – save during and post pregnancy – for nine years.

While her haters are always keen to bring up her birth name just to annoy her, and insist on ignoring the transgender politically correct “they” and “them” (sticking to “her” and “she”), she says to me, “I don’t mind if you call me ‘she’ and ‘her’.”

She’d bound her chest on and off since school (initially with bandages, a dangerous method, and now with the two compression vests) and has hated her breasts since puberty. She kissed a girl at 10, and began coming out from 14. She did dress in a girlie way at times, but always felt it was “dressing up”. She has no plans to give up her stilettos.

When she was working in the control room of Essex Fire and Rescue, she shaped her body with weights and protein shakes, cut her hair and tattooed her arms to look masculine.

She shows me some photographs that reveal her as a teenage skinhead. She grew up in the fold of the Baptist church (her mother, a former nurse, is religious), but was, she says, asked to leave Sunday school teaching once she had shaved her head and come out and was deemed “an inappropriate role model”. The Fire and Rescue period, during which she is photographed with her back to the camera in male pants, covered in tattoos, is what she calls her butch dyke phase (her words), but it was never really enough. “Like a hexagonal peg in a square hole,” she says. She’s also had a phase where she “tried to shag [myself] straight”, but that didn’t work.

Her son’s birth is, she says, an absolute blessing because she is devoted to him, and now she’s transgender, childbirth is unlikely to happen again: “Everything had to happen as it has.”

Having Johnny, she admits, also changed her relationship with her body and delayed her public admission that she was transgender non-binary, not least because she expressed her breast milk to feed him. Perhaps it’s why her look softened, too?

We look at the pictures of her in her cookbooks and on the front pages of the various magazines after she became high-profile. One shows her in a minxy blouse, which clings to her now famous “34DDs”. There is a whole wave of Twitter haters preoccupied by the imminent removal of her breasts. They are threatened, Monroe says, by her sexuality and it’s why she gets into frequent social media scraps.

Monroe is, without doubt, fashion model beautiful. A couple of model agencies said her face was right, but that at 5ft 2in she was too short. She was told to lose two stone. “How ironic is that?” she says. “A woman who hasn’t got enough money to feed her child, writing a cookbook, then being asked to lose weight.”

On one magazine cover, her face is made up, with mascara-covered lashes and painted lips. “I hate that picture because of them,” she says, pointing to the bosoms. If she hadn’t had big bosoms, she might not have come out as transgender, but might have just gone about flat-chested and topless, having built up her torso. “But I felt I had to be honest.

“I don’t [feel beautiful]. I photograph well if I’ve slept OK. I think that is about as far as I’ll go. I don’t consider myself to be attractive in any sense of the word.”

Her editor brought a floral pinny for her to wear in the pictures for A Girl Called Jack, which she rejected at first, finally relenting. “But I said, ‘That is not going on the cover.’” (There she wears a plain blue apron.) The idea of her wearing a floral pinny now is ludicrous. She looks like she belongs on an album cover. She’s wise to the game: “I probably wouldn’t have got a mainstream book deal if I’d been transgender then.

“The sexual objectification of women in my industry is absurd,” she says. “You look at Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley sisters … Like any female newsreaders, TV presenters, they are all identical. One of the things I most admired about Allegra was that she broke that mould. She was ‘out’ and gorgeous and wasn’t the cookie-cutter celebrity chef.

“It’s one of the things I admire about Nigella. You can’t put her in a box.”

Do you fancy her, though? She screams with laughter. It’s not what you think, she says, of the little billet doux on the fridge. Well, do you? She spends five minutes talking about Lawson’s kindness, her generosity, what a great, loyal friend she is, how she is the first to get in touch if Monroe is monstered in the press, and how her recipes (and Gwyneth Paltrow’s – who knew?) got her through her breakdown and then says, “Doesn’t everyone?”

Now that Monroe is clearer about the unclear nature of her gender, she can set her mind to the future. Her first appointment at the London Gender Clinic is in the next couple of weeks and, providing she makes it through the necessary psychological checks, she expects her surgery will have taken place by next summer. Her parents are fully supportive and Johnny, who calls her Mamapapa after the Barbapapa children’s books, is unfazed. There might be modelling to come, another couple of books, one of which she hopes will be political, and maybe some day in the future a political career, probably with the Green Party, to which she defected from Labour over immigration. And then there’s more kissing of girls – “beautiful, very feminine women who always smell so lovely, all the way through to the butchest of dykes” – to be pursued. “I must make time for that – it’s a wonderful way to unwind!

“I feel more confident, I walk taller – I know I need to have this done. I felt like I was lying to people. [By admitting it] I sort of unblocked the dam. I can write again now – spend three hours scrawling recipes and ideas, because … I just can.

“I’m doing all right. I’m doing OK. In fact, I’m doing better than OK. I have been through the mill and I’m out the other side of it. I can look back and say, ‘Life gets crap and I’ve pulled through.’”
By Louise Carpenter for The Times, published 14 November 2015.

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Categories: Blog, NEWS

49 Comments »

  1. Thank you for sharing Jack, and circumventing the paywall for us!

    So sorry to hear things have been difficult. I hope you don’t feel under too much pressure to be a certain way for your readers – we support you and love the work that you do, no matter the narrative arc. I hope things are getting easier now. x

  2. “I feel more confident, I walk taller – I know I need to have this done. I felt like I was lying to people. [By admitting it] I sort of unblocked the dam. I can write again now – spend three hours scrawling recipes and ideas, because … I just can.

    And that paragraph goes to show that you’re getting better and have found your own path. I’m delighted to hear it, and hope that there’s third cookbook to buy 🙂

  3. I can really relate to everything you have said about coming out as transgender. I myself had a difficult relationship with my own gender identity, veering one way and then the other, for many years following puberty, until learning what it meant to be trigendered and thus coming out as such two years ago at the age of 31. I feel lucky to be surrounded by friends who would just shrug and accept whatever makes me happy without judging, but I know many others are not as fortunate, and so it gives me hope to see more dialogue in the public eye about transgender issues beyond the heterero-normative preoccupation with drag acts and pre- and postoperative trans women’s bodies. So, thank you for sharing this with the world! And all the best.

  4. Very pleasantly surprised by the article. I had expected much worse from the Murdoch stable but it felt sympathetic. Congratulations on coming through the last year without bitterness and remaining positive. Your two cookbooks provide Shelagh and me much inspiration and delicious meals. xx

  5. When is the next book, and where can I buy a”real ” copy of your first? I find my iPad copy too irritating to flick through. I do like to browse through cookbooks,and see where they fall open at my favourite recipes. I also think it’s really great that you make everything from scratch,
    Enjoyed the above article,the world is out there for you Jack!

  6. Nothing but the very best wishes for you, your family, friends and future. Remarkable in part because you’re in the public eye, remarkable in part because you’ve handled the public eye, and remarkable for handling the trolls.

  7. Hi Jack, You really are my hero! Thank you for your authenticity, for your story, for your recipes, and for simply being you.

    What more can I say? Thank you. 🙂

  8. Hi Jack, sorry to hear how tough things have been for you recently and how alone you have felt. I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog, how it inspires me to get through the moments when life seems just about surviving and nobody can know. I admire your honesty and the fact that you admit you are on a journey and don’t always know the destination. Who does? What could be more amazing and brave than finding your way through life with passion, sensitivity and honesty. It is incredible and brilliant of you to share that journey with us, no matter where it takes you, making us all feel less alone in ours. Thank you. Keep being brilliant and beautiful and flawed. Inspired!

  9. Have shared this widely, so well written and non-judgemental, what a change The Times’ attitude is, contrasted with the DMa.
    Looking forward to Cookbook 3, very much. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying the seasonal eating from Cookbook 2 and old favourites from Cookbook 1.

  10. Keep “pulling through” Jack, you do have what it takes. I have followed you from that first interview, you are this old man’s hero…good on ya!

  11. I think that the support you have far outweighs the bad and knowing that should help you when you think life is on a downer. Having experienced a lot of the financial distress you have and even now still get the horrible pit in my stomach when a bill comes in or worry about the post I look to you and your abilities and strength and think that if you are as fab and strong as you come across in your blog and you can fight it then I’ll be ok too 🙂

  12. Hello Jack, Judging from this feature, you must be one of the world’s greatest multi taskers of all time………….!!!. Don’t know how you do it. What’s your secret? Good cooking ….?

  13. Great to see you “back to basics” on the cooking and writing, and to see you “peeling back the layers of onion” on yourself. Thanks for sharing your experience with the anxiety about being on the verge of homelessness – I’m amazed at how many of us women have that anxiety of financial apocalypse despite being successful.

  14. You have absolutely every right to live and dress exactly how you want – and to choose your own name and sexuality. However strong you are I know that everyone hurts when they are criticised or held up for pubic inspection. Such terrible things going on in the world; so how you decide to live – which hurts no-one – is nobody’s business but your own.

  15. Gorgeous person, who I find very attractive. Hacking off your beautiful breasts. Does that really change anything Jack? Sorry, cannot understand it.

  16. I’ve always thought you were beautiful. But what makes you even more so, is the fact that it isn’t just skin deep with you, you are as beautiful on the inside as out. You give a voice to those that can’t can’t articulate or communicate on a scale that do.
    Don’t care how you identify yourself, a beautiful soul is a beautiful soul.

  17. Good luck, dear Jack! From an Italian supporter… I have ben missing Your posts, So welcome back! I’m Happy to read You feel Ok again!

  18. Hi Jack,
    I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, hopefully 2016 will be a much better year for you and yours.
    Regarding the Hives, have you tried Sulphur 30C, I get it from the health food shop and it really helps with the itching. 😊

  19. Hi Jack,
    Sorry for your troubles, lets hope 2016 is better for you and yours.
    Regarding the Hives, give Sulphur 30C a try – it really helps with the itching, you can get it from good health food shops

  20. Hayley is right, you are a beautiful soul and an amazingly talented and courageous one too…how could your teachers get it so wrong?

  21. Hi Jack, You really are my hero! Thank you for your authenticity, for your story, for your recipes, and for simply being you.

    What more can I say? Thank you. 🙂

  22. Fascinating article. Grand to see a few more it’s of the layers of Jack. Looking forward to seeing a nonbinary Phoenix rise higher!

  23. Wow … just wow!! What a fantastic piece of journalism. Your story actually told as it is, and well at that. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I’ve been with you since the first blog post and I’ll continue to ‘read you’ as long as you write and when people write real stories about you I’ll read those too.

    You’re on a journey and as you say it looks like you’re now on the homeward straight. Thank you for allowing so many of us to follow this at time challenging and confusing journey. Respect. xx

  24. I’m so pleased that things are going better for you. I DID miss you while you weren’t blogging and I worried about you, hoping that you were O.K. (the Mum in me!)

    The most important thing in life is to be true to yourself. I wasn’t true to myself for a long time because I didn’t really know who I was. I was moulded by a lifetime of emotional abuse. I’ve been working for years to know who I am, and now I do. This place, recently discovered, where I know myself and am comfortable with who I am is magical and wonderful. I am delighted that you are now comfortable in your skin and I wish for you that the future continues to get better and better.

    It’s easy to be knocked down by the trolls and the nasty and barbed words, but there is a lot of support and love for you here on your blog, and from the many people whose lives you have impacted in a positive way, mine included. My daughter teaches R.E. and part of what she teaches in that context is diversity, social justice, tolerance and to be non-judgemental. She uses some of your writing from your blog as a teaching resource, and it always makes a positive impact. In this, I am proud of both you and of her for helping to shape a more positive and tolerant world through education. Your influence spreads far and wide.

    Be proud of who you are and of what you do. Continue to explore who you are and to grow, and to be unhesitatingly true to yourself. I’m sure your parents are very proud of you,

  25. Jack

    You’re gorgeous….. by that I mean your heart, soul, passion, ethics and fortitude (as well as physical amazingness).
    I read your blog when im looking for something to get me thinking. It is also my new Vegan bible in my slow progress towards a healthy vegan diet whilst trying to build muscle.
    Although I am not writing comments here for every post please know that whatever you feel the need to express I would be happy to read.

    Much love coming your way xxx

  26. Pleased to hear you are feeling stronger, wish you all the best.

    On a food note, I bought some rice porridge the other day, suspect it will be bland on its own, any ideas?

  27. What a well written article. So sorry to read how stressful everything got but you sound liberated so there will be no stopping you now. I hadn’t heard of being transgender non binary before and it sounds like it’s another layer of challenge but you are going to rock it 🙂

    I just watched this short documentary, it’s excellent and very uplifting, great kid with a wonderful mother, friends and family. Highly recommend.

  28. So sorry to hear how tough it has been for you Jack. Glad to hear you’re on the up again! I’m one of the many who has been following your blog from the (very) early days and I can honestly say that I have always regarded you to be just Jack…a great person who cares deeply about what really matters. Don’t let the trolls get to you, we are still here (and always will be!!) watching your back Good luck for the future!!!!

  29. Hello Jack

    I feel both warm and cold reading this article. Your warmth and passion shines through, without you even trying. But I felt cold toward myself in a way, that I recognised alot of your downside. It’s kinda made me think, I need to feel ok/good/content/settled about my self and life before I can truly live it. As a mam, I’m there. For me? I’m a part timer. If we learn anything today, maybe it’s just to remind ourselves, falling apart is an option, as long as we make sure we look after ourselves on the way down and back up again. If that makes sense?! All the love xxx

    8stepsfromshore/wordpress

  30. That was a really interesting article thanks for sharing.
    Hope things really pick up for you from here.At the end of the day you have to be happy,it’s the most important thing in life.
    Take care x

  31. So much explaining.., dear Jack, spare your energy for creating the wonderful life and food you are creating,we love you just as you are:)))

  32. Thank you Jack. You’ve helped underscore my belief that gender is non binary. I have a growing recognition that I am maybe 60/70% girl, despite what it says on my birth certificate.

    Go well xx

  33. Hi. Just wanted to say that I’m glad you’re in a better place now. I too had a bit of a breakdown about six years ago. I am still not back to the way I was, but I look after myself now and feel a lot better. Try mindful meditation – it works for me! Anyway, just wanted to say good on you for doing everything you are doing, you look fantastic and like the previous person who commented, I’m not into women either, but Nigella just does it for me too!! I love her! Dawn xx PS ignore the trolls, they are a bunch of arseholes!

  34. Hello jack, i just wanted to tell you that you have people who support you 100% on whatever you decide to do. I absolutely love your blog and have a deep respect for what you went through and any decision you will make. We are many people who don’t care at all about gender, but we care about you, a beautiful young person, inside and out. I am trying to sustain a lifestyle without spending all my time at work because i want to do other things. Until i find a way to make my interests a source of income, your blog helps me greatly, and your journey has inspired me. All the best!

  35. Really interesting article. Enjoyed it, and appreciated the raw honesty. But can I just say to the reporter – please don’t refer to ‘the underclass’. That’s not an acceptable way to talk about a section of the general population. Call them the working poor or people trapped in debt and despair, or something else that isn’t so condescending.
    I know that sounds nit picking when there’s so much in the article to comment on, but it’s horrible to hear how easily people in positions of power and/or influence now talk. Talking about the underclass is only one step away from ‘the feral underclass’ which I’ve also heard.

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