Shirin Gerami, 24, will race in full Islamic dress and Iranian flag colours in world triathlon grand final in London’s Hyde Park
This is an amazing achievement and a beautiful example of how eastern and western cultures can be compatible without either side compromising their beliefs. Shirin made her own position and dedication clear and worked with both the Iranian authorities and the organisers of the triathalon to find a middle ground.
Also, I saw the friendly guy who took some of my hijobfit pictures at the bus stop. He asked me about my blog, and then we started talking about dinosaurs. We realised that dinosaurs are a really broad topic and not only should feature more highly in the curriculum, but also we should talk about them more.
For the next ten or so working days, I intend to post a picture of myself wearing work clothes and write something about it. This is to talk about the practicality of hijab and the mindset of women who wear it which I think some people may find interesting or it may teach you something about your muslim friends or generate exciting conversation about what different people think about when they get dressed and the way our clothes portray us etc..
I heard about Ethel Sparrowhawk from my friend Jemima, a co-creator along with Steven Tillotson. Based on nothing much, I imagined that Ethel Sparrowhawk was some sort of british warrior maiden who rode on a horse and wore combat appropriate armour.
I was wrong, and that’s probably a good thing, as the actual comic is much better than that.
The set up is simple and easily relatable. Ethel is sad, unfulfilled, lonely but hopeful. Tragically funny and poignant, it takes place in a world that edges on surreal, at times whimsical and at other points brutally unapologetic. It’s sober but familiar; a world that we all inhabit from time to time. Where life is mundane and bleak, but something as simple as a smile can feel like a victory.
The first book, ‘Ethel Sparrowhawk’, introduces the character as a likeable but downtrodden heroine, desperately searching for ‘luck’ as a way out of her unpleasant life. The second story, ‘Ethel Sparrowhawk’s Terrible Hangover’, sees her connect with a lost relative in panels that are warming and awkward in turn.
The art is minimalistic with a wonderful focus on empty space. It captures countless little details that enrich the story sufficiently to make a second and third reading worthwhile. I loved Ethel’s character design which was distinctive and mundane at the same time, and somehow seemed to further underline her isolation from her peers and society in general.
If it sounds like your kind of thing, you can buy the pdf of Ethel Sparrowhawk here for a giveaway price, and a beautiful printed copy of Ethel Sparrowhawk’s Terrible Hangover here.
Disclaimer: I do have a story published in this anthology, but I don’t make any money from it, so you can be sure that the below review is genuine.
Derby Shorts - an anthology of short stories centred around the world of roller derby - was released this year. The anthology was published by For Books’ Sake in collaboration with London Rollergirls and features fourteen stories that each offer their own unique slant on life on the flat track.
Something that struck me right away is that though you can enjoy and understand the book with no prior knowledge of the sport or culture, it’s clear that everyone involved was passionate and well-informed. There’s no undertone of ‘these girls put on fishnets and punch each other hurr hurr hurr’. It’s a matchless blend of love of the sport and expressive talent - essential in any creative endeavour that involves derby.
The editors did a fantastic job on choosing the order of the stories. More stylised pieces were interjected between traditionally written stories and anything too similar was broken up. That said, certain archetypes and tropes did repeat, making the stories better to read each individually, rather than one after another.
A particular favourite was ‘This Is Not Your Great-Great-Great Granddaughter’s Derby’, masterfully chosen as the opening story. It takes the well known disparities between derby of the 70s and the present day and throws it into a discovery period piece any rollergirl will love. It’s also very funny. Likewise, ‘Welcome Home’ saw rollergirls on the hunt for a suitable venue, stepping back from the glamour of bouting to put the behind the scenes, DIY grassroots spirit of derby in the spotlight.
Bold, fully-formed universes leap out from the pages, giving you a tantalising glimpse of stories that could span entire novels if only the word count allowed. Even in the stories which are furthest removed from reality, the scenery is peppered with easily recognisable derby landmarks; teamwork, ambition, violence and tattoos.
Surprisingly there was a large amount of off-track negativity portrayed in the book, although arguably that is only because malice lends itself well to drama. There are only so many stories you can write (or read) about someone finding themselves in roller derby and skating happily into the sunset with their new family. Still the darker pieces were interspersed well enough between tongue-in-cheek humour and heart-warming inspiration so that any remaining bitterness was soon washed away.
Overall, it’s an excellent addition to any rollergirl’s bookshelf and also reliable gift for anyone that’s caught the derby bug. The diversity of plots, writing styles, characters and settings reflects the diversity and awesomeness of the derby community and means that within the pages there’s something for everyone to fall in love with.
I think wearing hijab can go some way in helping women to reclaim their own bodies and to feel that they don’t have to live up to other peoples’ expectations of body image. It’s interesting to see a scientific paper on the topic.
For two years in Syria the conflict, which fractured Heshan’s family, put a stop to celebrations, and this year in Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq there isn’t the money or the spirit to mark the occasion. “It’s not a special day anymore. It just happens and no-one notices,” his mother, Naslya, tells me. “There is no life in this tent.”
Even though roller derby runs on love and sweet addiction, in the creation of a derby girl - sorry, athlete - pragmatic issues play a part.
Specifically, transportation and money.
You cannot get to practice, bouts, meetings and bootcamps by wishing really hard. Likewise you cannot get your own skates by drawing a picture of them in blood and praying to Quadzilla.
When people first join derby, there’s always a wide spectrum of interest, dedication and aptitude. Slowly the herd thins out and only a few will make it to their first bout. For me, although I was head over heels for derby (sometimes quite literally) by the end of my first practice I know that I would have eventually lost interest if transport had been an issue.
The average rollergirl spends seven hours at practice in a normal, non-bouting week. Let’s not even get into how much time get swallowed up by cross-training, league meetings and games. With this in mind, clocking in extra time for travel can push roller derby from a full-on hobby to something that dominates so fully that it leaves precious little time for anything else.
For the two years I skated with the Blitz Dames, I was lucky enough to get a lift with Nico Warrior. I was fortunate that not only did she live near me and was willing to take me to practice, but she loved derby and would go to every single practice she could. Therefore, so could I.
Without Nico, getting to practice would have been an hour long journey, and with weekday practices ending at 10pm, a public transport commute was just not viable for me.
If it wasn’t for getting a lift, I would have given up on roller derby. It’s strange to think that something that’s so powerful could have been derailed by something so trivial, but there it is.
Which is why I am so excited that owning my own car has finally become a possibility. I have a full-time job now and since it is a thirty minute drive away, but two buses and twenty minutes walk, getting a car finally makes sense.
I’m not at all confident in my driving ability and I’ve enjoyed feeling eco-superior for a while but the idea of being able to get myself to and from derby independently is too tempting to pass up. The idea that if I have an afternoon free, I could just drive to a bout without having to plan a route in advance and write-off an entire day is impossibly liberating.
I just hope any scrapes occur when I’m skating on eight wheels, not driving on four.
Dear Daphne! I am interested in work during Ramadan. In particular, is it difficult not to drink all day? I probably think it is difficult because I am a very thirsty person but maybe it is manageable if you are a) not me and b) have a reason for not drinking. Pip pip.
Starting a new job during Ramadan has been tricky. The hardest part is arguably getting enough sleep, since I have to wake up at 7.30 but generally don’t get to bed until about 2AM. After I come home from work I try to get in a few hours of napping.
Normally at work I would be all drinking water and eating snacks, but fortunately when you are fasting your mindset is a bit different. I think when you don’t eat or drink anything from the time you wake up, your body kind of gets the message.
I do feel a bit sleepy at work and I zone out a bit, but I just try to double check my work and take little walks around the office to keep me lively.
In actuality, the fast goes a lot faster (HA HA HA) when I’m at work, since I’m keeping busy, rather than when I’m at home with nothing but tumblr to pass the time with.
The Senegalese striker trained on his own on his return from his summer break last week after refusing to wear the branded training kit, as well as the match day shirt, because it is against his religious beliefs.
This is interesting and not something I’ve ever thought about. As a rule, Muslims do not advocate borrowing or lending money with interest, as it is often an unfair arrangement and can have very serious consequences.
How would you feel if your team was being sponsored by a business which you felt was unethical?
After the initial 'is there a moon, isn't there a moon' Ramadan is now well underway! Something that always puzzles people about Ramadan is how it never seems to be at the same time of year. They have firm memories of a Muslim friend or neighbour fasting in October or December, and can’t work out how this year Ramadan can be in high summer.
Puzzle begone! Muslims follow the lunar calendar, which is ten days shorter than the solar calendar which runs parallel to the seasons. As a result, Ramadan advances through the months and seasons.
Maybe I’m just simple, but I found that a difficult concept to understand and explain. The crux of it is that Ramadan begins ten days earlier every year. It takes about thirty five years for it to pass all the way through the calendar.
Fasting entails going without food or water during the daylight hours. When I started fasting as a ten year old, Ramadan was around Christmas time and fasting really just entailed missing lunch.
Nowadays it’s quite different, with the hours of fasting in England from about 3AM until 9PM. The first few fasts I struggled with until I realised that my lethargy was not down to lack of food, but rather the heatwave that has borne down on us this month.
Still, it’s really important to eat right, now that there is less and less time to do so. SAY FAREWELL TO PLATES OF SAMOSA AND PAKORAS, embrace fruit salad, yogurt and lots of water! Dates and nuts have always been lauded as the go to snack for breaking fast, and not without reason. There are few Ramadan ails that can’t be fixed by a generous serving of dates and almonds. Plus they are delicious. NYAM NYAM NYAM.
Here is a picture of the fruit salad I had yesterday after breaking fast.
The month of Ramadan is starting soon! First fast is expected to be Tuesday. During the month I’m going to try to write some of my thoughts down but if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask :).
there was this big thing at my gym because someone took someone else’s space in the fitness class and it all escalated on facebook. people generally agree that you can’t have your own space in a gym, but i’ve been to lots of gyms where the gym regulars were always in the same place. In fact they often wouldn’t move out of your way and you’d have to talk to them about their training routine and then you’d have to defeat them in a fight and only then would they let you go past so you could challenge the gym leader and try to get a badge.
Take a look at the Nurofen page on facebook and vote for Holly Sheet (Gemma Warne) to win a £1.5k grant from the Nurofen Big Lives Trust! Voting takes literally 2 seconds and you don’t have to register or anything - just click a button and promote roller derby!
Sarah Moola is the only Muslim girl in the UK who competes in roller derby. Despite its reputation as an aggressive contact sport with women wearing raunchy costumes, Sarah adores roller derby and insists it does not clash with her religious beliefs. When she was meeting prospective husbands with her parents, Sarah was careful to choose someone who would be happy to let her pursue her love of roller derby.
I filmed for this about a month ago. I hope other muslims see it and realise that it’s possible to get involved in sport without compromising your faith.
I requested a skater reference from the Blitz Dames to give to the Dolly Rockits in order to help them group me, and this is what I got.
Daphne is a good player in a strange sort of way. She has many interesting takes on the game of roller derby. She has excellent hand writing and her spelling is of a high standard. Given enough cake, she has the potential to become the most serious banana.