Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Today, I have been mostly thinking about the pros and cons of working from home, which I’d like to share.

I'll begin with the bad news: 

1. Working from home can mean extensive periods of isolation, leading to a catastrophic degeneration of socio-personal skills. In extreme circumstances, this can mean going to ridiculous lengths to avoid human contact, such as using the sewer network to get to the post office, or leaping from branch to branch in the overhead tree canopy to avoid footpaths.  

2. Conversely, working from home can also mean getting so ridiculously over-excited at the possibility of human contact, that when the postman delivers a parcel, you end up speaking in the jumbled, rapid manner of a psychotic:   

ME: Oh, hi, sorry I took ages ... I was upstairs in the bathroom … Ha ha ha! Ooh! I’m so out of breath though ... can’t believe how unfit I am ... still, what’s it like OUT THERE? Haven’t been OUT today! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Least it’s not raining though! Do you want to step into the hallway?
POSTMAN: (looking alarmed and holding handset with attached pen-thing at considerable distance from body) “This just needs signing for”.

3. People who work from home typically end up reporting hostile feeling towards their house. One woman told me that she fantasised about drawing a giant spurting cock on to the living room wall, even though it had JUST been painted in Farrow and Ball heritage colours! Another had a recurring dream about digging an escape tunnel under the hallway floorboards. Thankfully, I don't have this problem. No siree bob!  (So, yes, ok, there is THAT smell, and yes, I did spend last Friday sniffing the skirting boards, on all fours, trying to locate it), but for the most part I love being in the house all day every day with hardly a break. 

courtesy of Modern Toss

But then, there are the PROS! Yay!

1. Working from home offers healthier snacking opportunities. Yesterday, I ate an entire packet of cherry tomatoes. In one sitting. By 10am. Admittedly, this did trigger a fair amount of gastro-intestinal disturbance (and at one point I had to cross-reference my symptoms with those of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate factory, especially the bloating), nevertheless, this is not the kind of snacking choice you could make in an office, without getting looks.

2. Working from home offers ample opportunities for reflection. Just the other week, I spent an extremely constructive twenty-two minutes staring at a tree outside the window. To the untrained observer, it probably looked like I was catatonic (what with the horrible, glazed expression, the drool dribbling down my chin, and the pyjamas), but then, the same thing could easily be said of the untrained observer, by which I actually mean our Peeping Tom of a fucking window cleaner, what with the horrible, predatory expression, the drool dribbling down his chin like a perv, and the unsettling pinky ring.

3. But most importantly, there are far fewer interruptions at home. Because the hardest thing about working in an office is trying to do ANY actual motherfucking work:

COLLEAGUE: See Paul Hollywood on the Jonathon Ross show? I’d so DO him. Remember Terri, she used to do that train the trainers course with Helen Pickering, well, she went to the live roadshow he did at St David’s Hall couple of weeks ago. Loads of people went up on stage and …
ME:  Yeah, right, thing is I’ve got to finish this newsletter by midday, so   
COLLEAGUE: My mum’s gonna get us tickets for the Bath show in a coupla weeks. We’ll probably end up making a weekend of it and … blah blah blah blah ad infinitum, until blood is gushing out of your ears, the newsletter is beyond fucked, and all you can see, dancing in front of your eyes, is Paul Hollywood, waving his big, yeasty-smelling breadstick about the place. Like a twat.

Which is, I should add, easily the best reason EVER to work from home.

If this kind of calendar ever appears on the wall at your workplace, it is a contravention of your human rights, and you have the right to sue, or to demand to work from home. According to the U.N. 

PS Feel free to share yours pros and cons, as I’m hoping to syndicate this blog to a TOP business magazine! Yeah!  

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Everyone remembers their first kiss, right?

For me, the story involves a widowed second cousin-in-law, twice-removed, who lived in Carmarthenshire with some other cousins, who went by the name of Great Auntie Maud. (Fuck knows why I’m specifying the exact degree of kinship of those involved.) Suffice it to say that Great Auntie Maud was as old as Methuselah, and may have even been a childhood friend of his.

Anyhoo, one day, during one particular visit to our cousins’ home, Great Auntie Maud shot up from her armchair as we were leaving, and stood in the doorway, blocking our exit.

“Give Auntie Maud a kiss goodbye then”, she said, turning to me.

I was thirteen and three-quarters at the time. And although kissing somebody was on my bucket list, Great Auntie Maud looked nothing like a) Andrew Ridgeley from Wham, b) John Taylor, the bass guitarist from Duran Duran, or c) Stephen Jones from Form 3C, who were the usual objects of my kissing fantasies.

“What you waiting for boy?” said Great Auntie Maud, offering me her cheek.

“I’m not a boy Auntie Maud”, I said.

“Never mind that!” she said, offended.

“Give Auntie Maud a kiss”, said my mother impatiently. “We’re gonna be late for cello lessons.”

“Okay okay!’ I yelled. 

It happened in less than an instant. As I stretched on to the tips of my toes, angling myself towards Great Auntie Maud’s cheek, she spun towards me, jamming her mouthparts against mine, launching her tongue into my mouth at a speed that would have amazed even a chameleon.  Within seconds, there were rivers of Maud slobber running down the slopes of my soft palate towards my throat, and drool collecting in ducts under my tongue. I could even taste Jacob’s cream crackers.

“Maud. That’s enough!” said my mother.

But Great Auntie Maud wasn’t listening.  Her tongue was spinning around inside my mouth cavity like a sock in an out-of-control washing machine. She was gaining in confidence, experimenting with different thrusting techniques, showing off. At one point, I felt her quivering along the whole length of her body.

Finally, my mother pulled her away from me.

“Helluva boy”, muttered Great Aunt Maud, satisfied.

Great Auntie Maud's Guide To Tonsil Hockey. Available in all good bookstores. 

Later, in the car on the way home, my eleven-year-old brother laughed so hard my mother was forced to tell him a cautionary tale about the perils of excessive elation.

“Your gran laughed non-stop all the way through a Laurel and Hardy film. Burst a brain aneurysm because of it”, she said. “Dr Levi was bloody livid.”

Meanwhile I used a dried-out packet of Wet Ones to scour the inside of my mouth, leaving streaks of perfumed horribleness.

“It wasn’t even THAT funny!” said my mother.

“She snogged her!” said my brother. “She ACTUALLY snogged her!”

“I meant the film”, said my mother, irately.  

Determined to clean out my esophagus, I shaped the last of the Wet Ones into a compact cylinder, gagging as it hit the back of my tongue.  

“I’m gonna be sick!” I shrieked, as we joined the motorway.

“For godsake settle down!” screamed my mother.  “She’s not right in the head! There’s no need to make a bloody song and dance of it!”

On the kissing front, things improved, of course.  Soon afterwards, I made it to first base - and then second base - with a horn player from county youth orchestra called Tweetie (Jones).  And although he lacked the blistering sex appeal of John Taylor and Stephen Jones, and reeked of Insignia, on the massively plus side, he was a) not my Great Auntie Maud, b) not my Great Auntie Maud, and c) NOT. MY. GREAT. AUNTIE. MAUD. 

"That your first time then?” he asked, smugly, after the event.

“As. If!” I said.  

Er, NO. 

PS: I'm dedicated this blog to Great Auntie Maud, who is no longer with us, and to everyone I know who's got dementia, including my lovely funny father, who would never let a crappy hideous illness get in the way of a good story. 


Thursday, 18 September 2014


Let me get one thing straight.

In spite of my buffed appearance, I am NOT a gym bunny.

I loathe exercise more than I loathe Facebook updates about exercise.  I loathe exercise more than I loathe the new iWatch. I loathe exercise more than I loathe the idea of shitting on the pavement in full view of the world’s media, which is also to say that if I’d been the one running the London Marathon in 2005, shitting on the pavement would have been the highlight of my race, Paula. All of which makes my recent love affair with an exercise bike, frankly, disturbing. 

It all began a few weeks ago, during an episode of PMS so severe that not even smashing the kitchen up – normally a marvellous stress-buster – would have worked. So, having read that exercise was good for regulating hormones, I approached the exercise bike gathering dust in the study.

“Hello Mr Bike!” I said, brightly, hoping he’d forgive the years of neglect. “Are you pleased to see me or is that just a massive head tube?! Way-hay!!"
The exercise bike wasn’t talking. But I could tell from the way a light went on as I brushed accidentally against his flanks that he was up for it. He even made an excited beeping noise as I straddled his seat to begin pedalling. At first, things were awkward, even strained.  Nobody wanted to admit that this felt good, real good. But then, as I was approaching the summit of a virtual mountain pass, I could no longer ignore the prickling sensation in my solar plexus: the rush of wellbeing spreading everywhere.

I pedalled harder, faster, and at higher resistance levels.

“Go me!” I shrieked euphorically.

“Beep beep de beep!” beeped the bike. 

Soon I was entertaining a succession of endorphin-fuelled fantasies in which I was a normal, productive human being.  I imagined waking up at 6am driven by a heady excitement about the working day.  I imagined being able to hold down a nine-to-five job without falling headlong into a bottomless pit of despair.  I imagined PHONING broadsheet editors and television commissioners to pitch writing ideas, as in actually PHONING, not emailing! 

By the second day of my love affair with the exercise bike, I was able to proceed to the next transformational step of my, uh, transformation. Following thirty minutes of a kickass programme entitled Switchback Trail, I ticked off multiple items on my To-Do-List, including “Call Auntie Eileen TODAY to thank her for the birthday money". And all this whilst hoovering!  I was growing new skill sets. I was on an accelerated schedule. I was powering through this shit like I was Angela Merkel.  

I should have known it wouldn’t last, however. On Day Three, I was tired and a little bit emo. It was all to do with not going to bed on time the previous evening - 11.23pm instead of 10.30pm - causing a catastrophic 53-minute sleep deficit. The bike, meanwhile, was looking dishevelled but ready for action; an empty water bottle complete with lipstick traces, sitting at a rakish angle in the cup holder.

“Beep beep baby!” he said, drawing the beeps out, wantonly.

I felt awful, guilty, and slightly nauseous. I couldn’t look him in the screen or touch his outstretched handlebars. Pedaling slowly at first, I tried customizing the settings to introduce mood-elevating variety, careful not to allow my hands to drift onto the metal plates that told me my heart rate (because who wants to be reminded that the ageing pump in the middle of your chest could explode at any minute, right?) But it was no good. I wasn’t feeling it. The bike gave a protest beep when I slowed down again.

“Sorry" I said, climbing off. “I’m not in the mood.”

The lights on the screen grew dimmer.  There was a film of moisture on the handlebars that I’m guessing was, maybe, tears. The empty water bottle suddenly looked, well, empty: a relic from happier times.

“It’s not you. It’s me!” I said. “I have a low boredom threshold.”

“Me? Boring?!” he suddenly blurted, beeping hysterically.

“I’m gonna put you on ebay,” I said, interrupting. “We’ll find you a buffed gym bunny. Someone with an iWatch with one of those built-in activity apps. It’ll be like a ménage a trois. You’ll be happy.”

“But what if she gets runner’s trots and accidentally shits on me like Paula Radcliffe?”

“Now you’re being silly," I said.

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Once upon a time, when I was a not-so-sweet sixteen year old, I quit shaving my legs.  I can’t remember the exact reason - it was probably more to do with youthful contrarianism than feminism – but I do remember that unlike other acts of teenage rebellion, my shaggy young forelegs were a transgression too far.   

“No gorillas in the back seat!” shouted a handsome sixth-former (on whom I’d had a long-standing crush) as I boarded the school bus, his face so full of fear and confusion it was as though I’d rocked up the aisle in a witch’s hat and bikini top, a giant veiny dildo strapped to my skirt, roaring I’M HERE, I’M HAIRY, I WANT TO FUCK YOU. Backwards. And at double speed. 

Exiled to the front of the bus to sit with the first-formers, I reconsidered my options, which were a) continue the experiment in not shaving and risk being stoned to death in the schoolyard, or b) conform to the fucked-up idea that says women must not be allowed to thrive in their natural state, because it is both DISGUSTING and UNFEMININE, by resuming depilation. (I say fucked-up, because the desire to make women look like prepubescent little girls is kind of weird. No, scratch that, perverted.) 

So that night, largely because I like the feel of stones against my body even less than I like the feel of blades, I shaved.

These three dames would definitely have been dispatched to the front of the bus ...

And so it was until a couple of weeks ago, when having forgotten to include razor blades in my online shop, and with the heat inducing a state of Can’t. Be. Fucking. Arsed-ness that made nipping to GroTesco Express a physical impossibility, I didn’t shave again. And because I am a sexually mature woman, I grew hair. Lots of it.  Within days, I was sporting the hairiest pins in northwest Cardiff, probably the universe. In a breeze, I could feel the hair blowing gently across my legs, which was nice. (No. Seriously. I could.) But there were also darker moments when I wondered whether I might be descended from a long line of lycanthropes. But just as I was building up to attacking myself with razor blades, in what is usually a frenzy of murderous insanity that is arguably the opposite of self-acceptance, I heard the voice of my sixteen-year-old self.    

“Why the actual fuck do you need to shave anyway?” “What is WRONG with your body as is?”

And I didn’t have an answer that made sense to me.

“Erm, hair is so itchy”, I said, tentatively. “It makes me too hot.”

“Hair is only itchy until you grow it out properly”, she said, a little too smugly. “It protects skin from drying out in the sun. Also, it aids heat transfer into and out of the body, which means, scientifically-speaking, it cools you down.”  

“Plus, pubes and pit hair trap pheromones, which means that on a primal level, hairiness makes you hot.  But NOT sweaty hot. Basically, it’s meant to be there. It has a function”, she continued.  

I wanted to tell her is that in spite of the pheromones argument n’all, I worry that body hair, particularly leg hair, will make me look like a man, which will, ergo, make me unfuckable.  In other words, I don’t want my partner to think that I look, in any way at all, like Brian Blessed.

But I am also self-aware enough to know that every time I shave, part of me is pissed off. Pissed off at the idea that in order to be attractive, even acceptable, I have to get rid of something.  Root something out. Shrink myself down to a one-size-fits-all version of femininity.  I even wonder whether, by suppressing my outer hairiness, I'm suppressing my inner hairiness: some part of me that is assertive, ambitious, and yes, animal. RAWRRR. And as much as I tell myself that shaving is a matter of choice (as in “Shall I have the Brazilian or the Hollywood? Wow! Such a dizzying array of beauty choices!”) I suspect it's all bullshit.  Because if shaving your legs were a choice, I would statistically-speaking see me some other women with bushy shanks walking around the joint. Right? As opposed to ZERO women.  Ever. (Which is all the more surprising given that recent research suggests that leg shaving is women’s most hated beauty chore.) Perhaps the truth is that as long as women feel that they have to choose between being a sexual pariah or shaving, it’s hard to frame the whole thing as choice. 

And so, like the women of Tumbl’r new Hairy Legs Club , I have decided to go head to head, pin to pin, with prevailing norms.  “Don’t think you’re coming out with me like that!” said a friend a few days ago, though to be fair, she was (kind of) joking. Others tell me that I’m brave. (This to a women who is scared of balloons.) And yet, in spite of the comments, and the staring, one of the more difficult aspects of the journey has been my own response to my hairiness.  If I were an Elizabethan woman, I’d have shaved off my eyebrows and hairline; if I were an Egyptian woman, I’d have shaved my head.  As it is, it is my leg hair that disquiets me: the straggly monkey trousers that falls, unashamedly, from my knees. But I am determined to persevere, to get used to it, to fall in love with it. Yeah! Go me! 

Tomorrow I go to the international swimming pool in Cardiff Bay. It is the summer holidays. The pool will be chockers. But already, I feel something changing. I am not so frightened of what others might think of me. It is a new exciting feeling.

It is, methinks, my inner hairiness ...   

Monday, 7 July 2014


My father in law is a good sort: generous, good-humoured, sincere. But frankly, when it comes to women’s issues, he is all kinds of fucking dinosaur.

“Paternity leave! Bloody ridiculous!” he exclaimed the other day, while reading the paper.   

Now normally, for the sake of family cohesion, I let things like this go:

Father-in-law: Global warming is bloody rubbish!
Me: Sheesh! You’re sooo craze!!  But whatever … 
Father in law: Brawn is bloody delicious! Not like that foreign muck.
Me:  Mmm. It does sound tasty. (A terrine of meat jelly made of a pig’s head and pig’s tongue also known as head cheese … what’s NOT to like?)  

But the notion that paternity leave is bloody ridiculous got right on my mildreds. As far as yours truly is concerned, the new legislation on shared parental leave may well be the single most important piece of legislation in the struggle to achieve workplace equality in a decade, forcing employers who currently look upon women of childbearing age as liabilities to consider that men, too, may also require extended leave. Yes, the policy needs some serious tinkering  – more on this later - but the principle of extending paternity leave to allow fathers to share up to a year’s parental leave is a no-brainer. End of.

“So why is it bloody ridiculous?” I ask my father-in-law.
“Why should Jo Public pay for men to stay home for two weeks doing nothing?” he says.   
(Turns out my father in law isn’t objecting to shared parental leave. Just basic paternity leave. Bless his long spiny tail cotton socks.)  
“It’s not doing nothing!” I say. “It’s a job that NEEDS two people …”
“So how did people like my mother manage?” he says.
“Probably because they had five great-aunts, eleven aunts, grandmothers, five sisters, a mother, and assorted members of the extended family ALL living next door” I say, contemplating the horror of having your relatives around for 30 days, crinkling their noses at the whiff wafting from your vagina, and demanding tea.

I don’t mention the idea that just because something might be “manageable” doesn’t make it ok. People managed for years without entitlement to sick pay, holiday pay, a minimum wage, employment rights of any kind, or the vote, and even my father in law would agree that we don’t want to go back there.

“Besides, why would you deny men the chance to spend time with their babies?” I say, hopefully.  
“They see them in the nights and weekends. No need to bankrupt the bloody country over it", he says. 

I turn to my partner for support. Being a boy, I’m guessing he’s loads better than me at sums *sarcastic face*.  I’m hoping he might explain that paid paternity leave – even if it were extended to four weeks at full pay as recommended by the IPPR – would only cost the taxpayer in the region of £150 million. I say “only”, because compared with the £95 billion a year that rich corporations and individuals cost the state when they shun taxes or the £100 billion a year it costs the taxpayer to pay for insurance for the banks, this is a small price to pay for a more equal society.

“I think paternity leave is a good thing”, says my partner, but without the unbridled enthusiasm I was looking for. And with that he walks out of the room, presumably because he suspects that I am THIS close to talking about my vagina. 

This is NOT my father in law. 

As it turns out, my father in law is not alone in his aversion to even basic forms of paternity leave.  Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) shows that a quarter of new fathers take NO paternity leave. According to the ILM, one issue behind the dismal take-up is the attitude of employers. “There remains a cultural expectation within organizations that women will be the ones taking extended periods away from the workplace”, says Charles Eleven, ILM Chief Executive.  His thoughts are echoed by Cityfathers, a support group for working fathers in the City, which found that a quarter of men feared it would be 'career death' to ask for time off to look after their children. To which the only reasonable response is MAN THE FUCK UP.  IT’S YOUR BABY TOO.

But attitudes aren’t the only issue. Paying men less than the minimum wage to stay at home (statutory maternity or paternity leave currently stands at a grim £138.18 per week) in a society where men earn an average of £5000 a year more than women, won’t work. Even in Sweden, famous for its enlightened attitudes, (where eight in ten fathers now take a third of the thirteen months of available leave), the gender pay gap meant that men didn’t take up their entitlement to shared parental UNTIL there were financial incentives to do so. And by financial incentives, I mean a quota of paid parental leave available ONLY to fathers.
In a stroke of genius, the Swedish government introduced exactly that, back in 1995. Dubbed ‘daddy leave”, it constituted a month of non-transferrable parental leave at close to full wages. No father was forced to stay home, but if he didn’t, the family lost one month of subsidies. The policy had an immediate impact. More than eight in ten men took the leave. The addition of a second non-transferrable daddy month in 2002 continued the trend. Soon it became the norm for dads to take off a month, two months, even longer, and the culture at work – and at home - began to shift. Not only did the pay gap between men and women start to close, but men got a taste of what it was like to be the primary parent, assuming responsibilities traditionally left to mothers. The divorce rate went down, at a time when it was rising elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I will never convince my father-in-law that a system of properly remunerated shared parental leave, including at least two months of paid daddy leave, is a force for good. Like columnist Liz Jones, who argues that extending paternity leave is a ghastly slippery slope towards men wearing fake mammary glands, my father in law’s worst fear is that shared parental leave could make men grow vaginas. Whilst there is no hard scientific evidence that this is likely to happen, (no, really, I looked everywhere, even in The Daily Mail), red-blooded men still unsure about whether or not to take up their fair share of parental leave should probably know this: most women love a man who can change nappies AND use the eco-settings on a washing machine. And when I say love, I mean lurrve. As in, want to fuck. So in a way, maybe it’s best if my father-in-law remains a dinosaur, because THAT would be awkward.

This is a slightly edited version of an article that appeared in the vagtastic Vagenda magazine. To read the full version, click here. 

Friday, 13 June 2014


So, gals, here's the thing. 

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered I suffer from a previously unknown condition called 'simia cervux' (to give it its Latin name), meaning my cervix is basically a monkey.

This shocking discovery was made during a routine smear test, when the practice nurse, having pried me open with an icy metal speculum THIS big (the bronze vaginal dilators of ancient Rome are an excellent reference point), made an exasperated announcement.
“Cheeky little monkey your cervix, isn’t she!”   
As always I tried to make light of things.
"Ha ha! Maybe try banana on top of the swab?!” I said. Like a twat.
She shot me one of those weary “not again” looks that people usually reserve for moments when they a) step in dog shit or b) hear something Michael Gove said. Which is very fucking annoying, as it was she who brought the monkey into the conversation in the first place.

I'm not a fucking vet, love. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time my lady parts have been treated as biological rarities. (A mermaid foetus? A two-headed dog? A kidney stone the size of Jupiter that also happens to have the face of a transmogrified Jesus? Whatever. For a whole sackful of proper weird, just try looking DOWN HERE ...) 

Take my first-ever smear test at the tender age of 25, when the nurse, after some protracted rummaging, said:
“You have a very long vagina. I’ll have to go get the longer speculum”.  
The way she said "long", it was as though she had accidentally walked the whole length of my vagina, realising, too late, that it was exactly the same length as the Wales Coastal Path. After a massive manhunt for the outsized speculum, involving two other doctors, she suggested I “pop” onto my knees. 
“Do you mean doggie style?” I said.
I don’t know why I said doggie style. I was ALREADY more embarrassed than I had ever been in my entire life, except for the time my mother found a cucumber on my bedroom floor.
“Yip, uh uh”, she said.  “I’ll be able to reach up higher then.”
In hindsight, I’m surprised that she didn’t mention the cheeky little monkey who lives at the end of the Trans-Vaginal Interstate Highway, you'd think she would n'all, but either she was too frazzled to notice, or my cervix is actually a 'normal' cervix. 

PS: This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week. Go get yourself screened. Beware, though, of all the public health advice that tells you it doesn’t hurt because it hurts Like A Motherfucker. Then again, if it saves your life, who cares?! As for the nurses who may or may not call your cervix a little monkey or refer to your vagina as “down there”, I suggest you practice saying VAGINA and CERVIX in the mirror beforehand. Then you can introduce them all properly and be friends. Yay!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

N is for Nipple Pride

Everybody knows that there are two kinds of nipple. 

The first kind of nipple looks like a nipple, or, perhaps, a kitten's nose. Gentle but perky, with a hint of moist juiciness, it is usually attached to what family newspaper editors* like David Dinsmore like to call hooters, funbagsor chumbawombas. It can also be seen on a daily basis through pretty much anything worn by Rihanna or Beyonce. 

The second kind of nipple, conversely, looks like something you might find stuck to your shoe i.e chewing gum. Often the result of extreme breastfeeding, which in the UK means breastfeeding for more than three days, it could also (apparently) be mistaken for an attack of ringworm, or a scary witch's teat, which is why you never see it featured in newspapers, magazines, campaign billboards, or on the catwalks at New York Fashion Show

Not so long ago, I was confronted by a nip of the second variety on Embarrassing Bodies, when a concerned mother of three made the mistake of showing her cherub-chafed titties to telly doctor, Dr Christian Jessen. Drawing back the curtains (of his hair) and looking slightly bewildered, Dr Christian reassured the mother that "for someone who had breastfed three children", her nipples were, er, "okay". (Rumour has it that he also said, "Frankly m'dear, your nipples look like you've been suckling Satan. And all of his goats. But as an older woman, that's the least of your fucking worries." Which they must have edited out … )

Examples of Dr Jessen's sensitive engagement with women's issues on Twitter 
Now whilst I don't approve of Dr Christian's dismissive attitude (and I'm sure the mother in question was very cross for forgetting to reassure Dr Christian that although he had really shit hair, he had an inimitable bedside manner), I can nevertheless see where he's coming from. Because unless you're in the habit of drawing attention-seeking circles around your nipples using rhinestones and body glue, like those rad 'feminists' over at Cosmopolitan suggest, or unless your nipples are angled up by exactly 20 degrees with a picture-perfect ratio of breast tissue above and below, as described in The Times, or unless you're Head Nipple-Flaunter Rihanna/Beyonce/Scout Willis, I don't quite understand why would you give a flying fuck if your jalobies are a tiny bit less perfect than they once were? Seriously. 

Unless of course, you live in a society that  bombards you with images of perfect norks - and nipples - each and everyday. Perish the thought. 
Image courtesy of Closer
* Just to clarify. When I say family newspaper editor, I mean prick. 

Friday, 16 May 2014


When I was a kid, I used to love space hoppers. 

Or, to borrow modern-day parlance, I used to heart them. 

I loved their weird, rabbity, scrunched-up faces; their funny, whimsical, gormlessness. I loved their plump orange bodies, and their ribbed little ears, and the smell and feel of them, and the way they lay there, on your lawn, all forlorn-looking.

But, as always, shit happens. Or, as the philosopher and visionary thinker Samuel L Jackson famously put it, snakes on a plane man, snakes on a plane! 

And now, the sad fact of the matter is that I fucking hate space hoppers.

I do not heart them AT ALL.  

In short, those orange FATSOS are on my shit list.

It was a love affair that ended suddenly, traumatically, at my daughter’s ninth birthday party. The party - billed by our host venue, the local Bowlplex, as the Ultimate Birthday Bash - started well enough, with unlimited bowling, ‘sharing’ party platters, and a ‘glow bowling’ disco atmosphere, offering no hint of the horrible drama about to unfold. But then, just when we thought it was nearly over and we could all go back to our houses, or in my case, the dark sombre corner that is the downstairs scullery, the live entertainer (suddenly revealing himself to be an outright cunt) gleefully announced one more special game. Just for parents.  

The Mummies and Daddies Space Hopper Race.

“Hey, Mr Live Entertainer, say that again, so that I can use it a pretext for throwing a bowling ball with the inner core of a neutron star at your fucking head?”  

But I digress.

When my partner and I got to the starting line, having been loudly nominated by my daughter’s friends, two space hoppers were waiting for us. Not the friendly eccentric creatures of my childhood, but dog-faced grinning entities, with nothing inside them except Evil and the desire to humiliate.

And yet, the first few metres of the race – which involved bouncing 20m along the carpeted lobby area, around a reception desk, and back again – went surprisingly – freakishly - well. I bounced zestfully past my struggling partner, grinning broadly. After years of degrading, dehumanizing experiences at the hands of hockey, netball and rounders enthusiasts, all whorebags and motherfuckers, here at last was an opportunity to heal myself, to feel good again.

It was, of course, not to be. By the time I reached the reception desk, my knees were abnormally spongy. The space hopper was, I realized, a predatory life-form in disguise as a toy, sapping my energy, giving nothing. My partner, too, was gaining ground on me. Halfway around the reception desk, he pushed me off the space hopper, thinking it was all, you know, good fun!!!
“What the fuck are you doing?” I shouted. “Do you actively want me to spend the rest of my days rocking away in a corner, do you? DO YOU?”
Actually I didn’t say any of that. I just laughed a bit.

When it came to getting back on the space hopper, I couldn’t do it. Somehow, I managed to crawl a few more metres, dragging the space hopper behind me like some grotesque haemorrhoid, fighting back vomit, unable to think or see properly. I fell forward, and off again. The space hopper rolled away from me, like a bastard.
“Is she still at it? roared the live entertainer.  

I can’t remember the last few metres of the race.  I do remember standing up at the finishing line, my skirt was around my waist, my butt on show, like a baboon.  I remember finding out that my partner had quit the race, bored, half way through, and that I was the only one racing. 

I puked up in the ladies toilets. I sobbed.

Afterwards, I rejoined my daughter’s birthday party, and ate cake, quite a lot of it. On the way out of the Bowlplex, I remember seeing the space hopper, lolling around on the lobby’s carpet tiles, a monstrous look of satisfaction on its face.
“What’s wrong mummy?” said my daughter. “Is it because you didn’t get a present for winning the mummies and daddies space hopper race?”
“Gosh, no, ha ha ha! Of course not! It was just a bit of good old-fashioned fun”, I said. "I love space hoppers!" 

This is an artist's impression of the space hopper I raced on. I know I know, it bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr Hoppy, the space hopper serial killer from 'Monkey Dust', right?! 

And now, dear readers, time to share your moments of public humiliation ….

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


So I know it’s unreasonable, even sociopathic.  But as March 2014 is Caffeine Awareness Month, now seems like a really good time to share my feelings on the subject of ‘to-go-coffee’ culture, or more specifically, the people (by which I mean tosspots) who partake in it.  

I mean, what’s the deal with ‘to-go coffee’ anyway? Is anybody really so busy micro-managing the shit out of everybody else that they can’t SIT THE FUCK DOWN at the table like any other self-respecting human being? Huh? Or is rushing around the place clutching a signature Triple Grande Quad Shot Espresso Macchiato With Ten Extra Shots of Salted Caramel JIZZ Foam seen as proof of one's success? A way of communicating to others that you are too important, too indispensable, to sit still?

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the need for caffeine, of course.  It’s just that as with most things in life, there’s a time, and there’s a place.

Take the other day. There I was, strolling around the place with my three-year-old daughter, when I stepped into the path of a hurrying businessman who looked like Big out of Sex and The City (you know the type gals, likes to engage in hilarious willy-bashing contests with workplace rivals but is also sensitive and likes art, etc.) This ubersexual was taking his first power-gulp of a steaming hot 'coffee-to-go' (judging from the unfeasibly large head on it - it must have been one of those Trenta Ten Pumps Extra Hot Drizzle With Ten Inches of Extra Whip), when suddenly he had to manoeuvre out of my way. The coffee-to-go missed its target, scalding his cheek. 
"Awwww!" he shouted. "Watch where you're going!"  

Afterwards, after apologising, I was fuming. OK, I know I should have been more vigilant. But I wasn't the one running about the place on an accelerated schedule, talking into my smartphone about 'performativity', whilst also attempting to transport a towering cup of boiling liquid from one place to another, when there were little kids about, and human flesh. 

Fucking cockmonkey.  

But, I suppose my real issue with 'to-go' coffee culture is not a concern over the health and safety implications of carrying hot fluids around the place. Neither do I really care if you want to demonstrate your extreme productivity and fast sexy lifestyle with your 'to-go coffee' accessory. (Even though it makes you look like a jerk-off. Just saying). My real beef is with the fact that 'to-go coffee' culture – and our addiction to caffeine in general - is symptomatic of a society hell-bent on promoting the idea that faster is always better.  A society in which people who stick to the speed limit get tailgated; a society that has created speed dating, and one-minute bedtime stories, and guides to achieving an orgasm in thirty seconds, and now Speed Yoga! Grrr. And yeah, I know I'm a bit of a slow coach and a hippie and I prefer tea (which according to a survey by coffee company Nespresso is not the drink of choice for "high achievers".) But I’m also saying it because everyone I know is knackered, because we now have ninety minutes less sleep than we had a decade ago, because  according to Carl Honore in his book In Praise of Slowness, fatigue played a role in disasters like Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Union Carbide, Three Mile Island, and the space shuttle Challenger. And, well, because we obviously need to slow the fuck down - not speed up. 

Or, as my favourite super-tramp and prolific Welsh poet and writer W H Davies put it, in his famous poem 'Leisure':

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Now, I’ll go stick the kettle on. And we’ll have some tea. And a nice biscuit. OK?