Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I have nits. All day, it feels as though the four horsemen of the apocalypse have been galloping freestyle across my scalp. I have scratched my head so much I look like the Medusa. When I told my partner about my condition, he looked so disgusted, so well and truly turned-off, I may as well have said, “Hey darling, I just love eating shit.” Or, “Honey, I seem to have acquired an infestation of pubic crabs, but not to worry, they’re as happy as larry playing in the moist, thrushy rock pools of my groin.”

I should explain. My partner is the Nits Nemesis. He hates nits more than anyone else on the planet. I would go as far as to say that his hatred of nits is so off-the-scale that he now has a fully-blown Hedrin habit. Every time he goes shopping, he buys another bottle of the stuff. I say things like, “Look love, it’s not as if you’re stocking up on bottles of water, which, you know, in the event of the Mayan Apocalypse, might be really useful. It’s only Hedrin. And we’ve got six bottles already.” But then, to be fair to him, Hedrin is always bringing out newer, better versions (lotions, mousses, spray gels, overnight gels, one-hour gels), and it’s pretty hard to keep up. Hedrin is worse than that other motherfucking asshole, Adobe Reader, which needs about 40 updates a week just to stand still, each of which requires downloading and installing programmes, and shutting down and rebooting your computer, which eats up at least twenty minutes of your ONE AND ONLY life, every day, and all of this when you only have half and hour of childcare every week, the fucking assholes.  

But anyway, before I go on, let me give you a ‘flavour’ of the kind of conversations we have about nits:

ME: I think I might have got nits.
PARTNER: Go and sort it then, for fucksakes.
ME: Yeah, I will in a minute love, just give me a minute will you?
PARTNER: There’s plenty of Hedrin up there. GO.SORT.IT.NOW.
ME:  Yeah, I will love, IN.A.MINUTE. Can’t you see that I’m just trying to put this kitchen FIRE out!?

I freely admit I procrastinate. For a start, applying Hedrin to your hair makes you look like one of those tragic sea otters caught up in the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. (Or Bob Geldof.) Also, if you do happen to drip even the tiniest droplet of Hedrin on your bathroom floor, please don’t EVER try to clean it up, please. If you do try to clean it up, this is what will happen: you will die. You will slip on the tiny Droplet of Oleaginous Doom and skid, in some horrible parody of figure skating, through your bathroom window, to your death.   Instead seek out the assistance of someone who can build a suspended floor.

But the absolute worst thing about head lice is this: even when you’ve applied a whole bottle of Hedrin to your hair, and sectioned it, and scraped a nit comb through it for half a day, and there’s a stink of genocide in the air, and the evil teeth of the nitty gritty comb are dripping with blood and human skin tissue and drowned louse carcasses, and you’ve also managed to get a bit of Hedrin in your eye, and you are standing half-blind, gorgon-like, in front of your bathroom mirror, you just know that there’s still one left. One survivor. In the night, you can feel her, The Alpha Louse Mummy, The Immortal Grey Queen, running triumphantly between the strands of your hair, high on blood and human shame and Hedrin. And you know that she’s heavy with child. God bless her.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Last summer, I spent a couple of days at a life-coaching retreat in the countryside. For the most part, it was a happy constructive experience, with time for reflection, a heavenly reflexology session, and sound nuggets of advice from the life-coach, such as YOU CAN’T EAT AN ELEPHANT ALL AT ONCE, which is a metaphor. I think.

On the downside, I flipped. 

It happened on the second afternoon, during a stroll to the village shop to buy a Twirl. Afterwards, when I was supposed to be listing practical strategies to manage my time and emotions, I wrote an alternative list, a kind of memo to self.

This is just an extract:   
  •  In future, when you leave the retreat for the recommended afternoon stroll, don’t assume - as you turn on to the High Street - that the posh middle-aged woman tending her garden is ALMOST DEFINITELY thinking “Look, another one of those mentalists from that retreat.”  
  • Do not immediately greet the woman with an overdone exaggerated ‘Hi’ to reassure her that you are not a mentalist. Do not further assume – when the ‘Hi’ gets stuck in your throat and comes out wrong – that she will immediately think, “Not just a mentalist, but a sheep-shagging cottage-burning mentalist”, just because you have a Welsh accent.  
  •  Once the crisis with the posh middle-aged woman is over and you’re passing a creepy narrow lane, try not to dwell on the idea that you are about to be gang-raped, and that this will be made all the more hideous because you are wearing a MAXI sanitary towel the size of a cruise liner. Try not to worry that the distinctive outline of the sanitary towel is ALMOST DEFINITELY visible through your jeans. Instead, thank god that you are still a fully-functioning woman capable of producing menstrual blood, and that you are not yet lugging around a bunch of dead rancid organs in your body. 
  •  As you pass a young couple with a baby, consider the (admittedly remote) possibility that they may NOT be thinking, “Look at that poor childless woman who has probably been staying in that retreat because her life is so lonely and tragic.” Ignore the fact you are exhibiting signs of agoraphobia. FOR FUCKSAKES JUST RELAX.
  •  On arriving at the Co-op, don’t freak out over the realization that you have forgotten your PIN number and every single piece of information relating to your PIN number, and that you only have about 80p left in your childishly bohemian purse.  Furthermore, as you are counting coins outside the shop, do not assume that all the passers-by are WITHOUT EXCEPTION ALMOST DEFINITELY thinking, “I’ve not seen her around here before. She must be one of those mentalists staying at the retreat. Look at the nutty OCD way she’s counting those infinitesimally small pieces of currency.”
  •  On your way back to the retreat, try not to worry yourself sick over the fact that the life-coach (whose house overlooks the retreat) will see you returning so soon after you left and conclude that you cannot possibly have had time to engage in reflection, and that you can’t be taking the retreat and life-coaching process seriously. Do not, I repeat, do not carry on walking down the High Street for at least another fifteen minutes just so that you can give the life-coach the impression of having been on a long reflective walk.
  •  As you’re walking around, wide-eyed, drooling now, with your stupid empty purse hanging weirdly from your hand, pointlessly killing time for some imaginary reason to do with your own paranoia, feel free to wonder why, when you’re with the kids, when you’re hiding behind the big green Phil and Ted double buggy, you feel less paranoid, almost normal.
  • Don’t start crying as you realize that when you’re with the kids, you are in love with humanity; when you’re with the kids, you see everyone around you as someone’s son, someone’s daughter; someone who is loved and cherished; someone who someone else would die for... But whatever you do, don’t start crying … don’t start crying …  oh for fucksakes …

P.S: Since then, I’ve been told that reflexology, massage, too much time for reflection, and an over-stimulating afternoon stroll, can make you go gaga. I blame all that shit about trying to eat an elephant in one sitting, which is a very fucked-up image to give to someone who suffers from a general anxiety disorder.  

PS I’m dedicating this blog to the Black Dog Tribe blogging network.