Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Ziggy the Zoologist

There was a zoologist called Ziggy
Who fell for a sweet-hearted piggy
They made love in her sty
Beneath a moonlit sky
And wallowed in mud with a ciggy

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yancey the Yeti

There was an awkward young yeti called Yancey
Who had a peculiar fancy
He liked to sniff cheese
And lick mushy peas
And then shove 'em down his girlfriend's panties

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for The Xmas Sunday Driver

X is a nightmare letter. Last year I cheated and did X is for the Kissable Letter to get myself out of a hole (my ignorance of words beginning with X) and this year I am going to cheat again by doing X is for Xmas which means effectively I write about whatever I want. Hurrah! Three cheers for ingenuity!

So X is for the Xmas Sunday Driver.

As someone who does a lot of driving, I deplore Sunday drivers because they are always, always, always, getting in my way and slowing me down. I am one of those people who drive to the speed limit so if I get stuck behind an elderly couple driving at 40 mph in a 60 mph zone because they are admiring the pansies on the roadside I instantly turn into a road-raging monster. I know it's hard to believe that a sweet, English rose such as myself could ever be angry but when I have places to go and people I want to see before I die I am like the Incredible Hulk on speed.

However, in my experience, Xmas Sunday drivers are the absolute worst of their breed. I always know when Xmas is approaching because of the sudden appearance of Sunday drivers on the road during the middle of the week. It's bad enough they disrupt weekend travel with their visits to bird sanctuaries but, in December, they descend onto the roads causing monumental havoc wherever they go. You may have thought the increased number of road accidents in the darkness of winter is due to poor visibility but it’s not – it’s due to Sunday drivers venturing out from their bungalows to do their Christmas shopping and holding up the traffic at every junction in the entire Western Hemisphere.

So the midweek arrival of the Sunday driver is mine and probably other every commuter’s worst nightmare. The sheer randomness of encountering a Sunday driver midweek can turn even the most resilient of commuters from a sane, competent adult into a suicidal maniac prepared to run down the M1 wearing his pants on his head. You can always spot a Sunday driver because they are either consulting a map, have their hazard lights on, or are driving so slowly it looks like they are parking up for a picnic. This total lack of road awareness is due to the fact that the only other times of the year Sunday drivers venture out midweek are for MOTs, GP appointments and visits to the crematorium (not usually in their own car though). So by the time most Sunday drivers realise they need to do their Christmas shopping they’ve forgotten how to drive, where they live and sometimes even who they are. Thank God the police force can tap up the DVLA for car ownership details and remind Sunday drivers who they are and where they live otherwise there would a perpetual circle of lost OAPS driving round the M25 in December.

Anyway, the last time I encountered a Xmas Sunday driver he was driving down the centre of the road in what appeared to be an uncontrolled zig-zag manoeuvre. After I’d careered into the kerb and resuscitated my kids, it duly dawned on me that the festive season must be approaching and I needed to pose myself some urgent questions such as whether I'd still got the Christmas cards I didn’t send from the previous year or whether I could get into the loft to retrieve the Xmas decorations without being buried alive.

Unfortunately, I was unable to ponder those important questions for very long as not long after getting back on the road I was distracted by the need to safely overtake another Sunday driver so I could get home before the New Year. Now I don’t normally have a problem with overtaking Sunday drivers but occasionally there’s the one who thinks he is being carjacked and puts his foot on the pedal in panic. This usually results in me racing them side by side yelling “Out of the way mother fucker!” whilst praying to God that no one is driving in the opposite direction and that the police will believe me when I say I’m a responsible driver. (Ho hum.)

I should also like it noted that it's my belief  that Sunday drivers are also guilty of causing all the congestion in town centres on Christmas Eve. This is because they have an innate desire to pick up their turkeys from the butchers at precisely 9.05 am thereby conflicting with all the workers who only have Christmas Eve to do their shopping. This selfish behaviour leads to frayed tempers, massive bottlenecks and tailbacks (particularly in the vicinity of Marks and Spencer) and some workers not returning home until after the Queen’s speech. The congestion is also exacerbated by the fact that after 11am Sunday drivers tend to fall asleep at the wheel and it is not uncommon to see one of them veering off onto the pavement only waking up in time to narrowly avoid the other Sunday driver who has parked there because he left his glasses at home and can’t tell the difference between “To Let” and “Toilet”.

Now I know some of you will be moaning about how unfair I am being to Xmas Sunday drivers and that one day I too will be one. However, I have it on very good authority (mine) that by 2030, when I’m a pensioner, teleporters will be the common mode of transport and I’ll be able to beam myself to the butchers on Christmas Eve. In the meantime, I count myself lucky to be alive. However, I still have to negotiate another fifteen Christmases on the roads so I ask you all to pray for me - I am too young to be driven insane, or worse, meet my death on the bonnet of a 1974 Ford Cortina.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Whinging and Whining Authors - The Writers' Curse No 2!

I am sick to death of reading articles by whinging, whining depressed writers or writers pretending to be depressed. It's so depressing I'm actually thinking about killing myself.

Okay, maybe not: I like living too much. Living is interesting. You know - wine, sex, that kind of stuff.

However, I am seriously beginning to wonder if some of these whinging authors are faking their depressions because they are everywhere. I mean everywhere. For example, I am minding my own business, humming and happily "researching" and I click on what looks like a jolly looking writer's website which might have lots of useful tips and I find...

I was depressed for years. My writing suffered: I couldn't find my pen, my computer crashed and even my printer cartridges imploded. I became an alcoholic and addicted to chewing the ends of biros, smoking pot and watching Friends. I read Martin Amis. Finally, when I trapped my head in my desk drawer I decided to consult a therapist who put me in touch with my inner soul and I subsequently wrote a book about demons castrating small piglets. It's been nominated for the ManBooker...

*Files nails, picks nose.*

Now I have deduced from all this apparent whinging and whining amongst writers that many of them have this image that to aspire to be a creative or literary genius you must cultivate a tortured image and, at the very least, be prepared to cut off your ear, eat your bowels or kill yourself.

I don't plan to do any of them.

Now, I admit I do occasionally say I want to blow my brains out on this blog but that is normally in relation to specific events such as: car crashes, unexpected weight gain, irritating children, autistic husbands, schools, sports cheats, schools, politicians, schools, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, schools and Justin Bieber.

So quite a lot of stuff then. But let me assure you, I only contemplate blowing my brains out for a few seconds at a time. Although I did once contemplate it for longer but came to the conclusion Mr T would probably have a breakdown if I pegged it. Not because I was dead but because it would take him weeks to clear up the blood splattered over the kitchen worktops. Thus, it would simply be unfair to kill myself and inflict such distress on the good Mr T.

Now I am sure there are some writers out there who do have genuine reasons to complain as life can deal the occasional hard blow and perhaps there are even some who do have genuine mental health issues. But there are some who never stop whinging - about Amazon, their publisher, their sales rank, the fact their mother-in-law never wrote a review for their book, the dust on their desk, that their PC has crashed...and so on and on and on and on and on and on and on. When I hit on one of those writer's websites I usually have to make a quick exit to The Daily Mail otherwise I know I am going to be still there three hours later glued to the comments from the other three hundred and fifty whinging writers who have commented with their own thoughts on whatever is the Major Whinge of the Day.

Now it's true that a recent study has shown that writers are one of the most vulnerable of personalities and literary heavyweights such as Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway are often cited as evidence of this and that to be a genius you have to peg it by your own hand. However, I've come to the conclusion that with so many writers competing for chart positions and their place in history viral whinging or even blowing one's brains out like Hemingway will not get a writer much attention. These days to be a truly great and memorable writer you need to die in a dramatic and noticeable way. I suggest something like the following:

1. Run naked across Time Square whilst quoting from your latest work about satanic pigs before ensuring you are hit by a bus and trampled by onlookers. Make sure your last words are: "It was a pig and I loved him." Thereby securing your place as a (dead) literary genius.

2. Jump out of a plane at 50,000 feet wearing only a large pair of silk pantaloons or a voluminous petticoat and skewer yourself to a high profile building - like The White House flagpole or Big Ben. There you will die a protracted and lonely ( but poignant) death whilst quoting from your novel. Onlookers will gaze up in bewilderment and say "He/she truly was a literary genius. We should go to the charity shop and see if we can find the first edition of that book about pigs."

3. Tie yourself to the London Eye. As it spins around you must quote from your novel as well as Shakespeare, Mein Kampf, The Little House on the Prairie and The Da Vinci Code. For a while, people might confuse you with Dan Brown but they will soon to come to realise as you self-flagellate with a free hand that you really are a tortured genius. When you are at the point where you think your head might explode don't forget to cry out: "Forgive me, Father. I never meant to read Dan Brown!" Then close your eyes and utter the dying words: "It was a pig and I loved him."

Now I could go on but (and it's a big but) I don't want to give any writers popping in too many ideas how to kill themselves as basically I care about my readers. I really do. I don't want any of you to peg it. (Not before you buy my books anyway.) I just want to say this: lots and lots people over the world have problems and suffer from intermittent depression and have serious problems to whine about. There is a lot of sadness, pain and upset in this world BUT most folks live through it and move forward. So, if you're a writer, STOP whinging about Amazon etc etc and stop banging on about being depressed and STOP torturing yourself and us with books about pigs etc etc etc.

"I'm a Young Adult paranormal romance writer and I've run out of ideas."

So to end with (no pun intended) here are ten good reasons to be a happy writer and celebrate life:

1. Right now, you probably have a roof over your head, have access to medicine, you are clothed and probably have your next meal lined up. Stop whinging!  Your problems may be very real and tangible but in all likelihood they are not insurmountable.

2. Western society allows artists, musicians and writers to say what they want and do as they please. This is very fortunate, especially if you are Justin Bieber.

3. I've mentioned this before but as a writer you can legitimately Google any image and read any crap on the net and justify it as research. Not only is this immense fun but you should never be bored or lonely and even if you're fed up Googling you can always sign into a Writers Discussion Group at 3 am and discuss book blurbs and sticky toffee pudding for several hours with another bored writer. This is a lot better than killing yourself.

4.You can follow this blog which is a wonderful source of mind-boggling, enriching and life-enhancing stuff.

5. You can probably cook better than I can. See - it's easy to lift your spirits. Just compare yourself to someone worse off than yourself and you instantaneously feel better!

6. Somebody, somewhere, will like your book. Okay, so it may only be the bloke you overpaid at the garage or your priest but does that really matter? Have realistic expectations. We don't all look like Julia Roberts or write like Virginia Woolf. Get a grip on it.

7. You will be happier if you are truthful to yourself. Admit you're not going to be a literary genius and that you quite like disco music and Justin Bieber. You don't have to pretend to like Mozart, drink effluent and study Tolstoy by candlelight. It's okay to like normal stuff. Like Strictly Come Dancing.

8.You can have lots of sex - and even write about it! This is potentially one massive ego trip. (Unless you suffer from premature ejaculation when you might genuinely have to consider killing yourself.)

9.You can slag off other people's books and justify it as in the common interest. This is guaranteed to make you feel happy.

10. People aren't that discerning these days. Even if you can't write a literary novel there's still the potential to make a whole heap of cash by writing something topical like Fifty Shades of Grey. Now that news should cheer any writer up. In fact, I am studying Fifty Shades at this very moment. I have even got out my ABC: How to learn the alphabet book in case I stuck on any unfamiliar words and I've also got out my illustrated  Karma Sutra just in case I get *stuck*.

Right, I'm done for day. Time to clean the kitchen worktops.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vacations

With the prospect of long summer evenings and some pleasant weather ahead I won’t be the only housewife fantasizing about lying on a beach, nibbling grapes, sipping Coladas and being waited upon by a handsome young manservant.

Unfortunately, when I’m in the middle of these and other exotic fantasies a whining voice asking an annoying question often brings me back down to reality. A recent example of this was when I had my hands immersed in the washing up bowl whilst dreaming about surfing with Damien Lewis when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the question every mother dreads;

“When can we go camping?”

Now imagine the onset of acute postnatal depression combined with the news that Daniel Craig has quit as James Bond and you will have an idea how such a question cuts me to the quick. What I’d really like to do in such circumstances is to stick my head in the oven. However, due to the small personages to whom I gave birth and who regularly attach themselves to my purse at the sweet counter, I have to abandon such thoughts and attempt the “Distraction Technique.” It goes something like this;

“Would you like some sweets?”

“Oh yes please, and when can we go camping?”

“You can have the sweets and I’ll put on that new DVD.”

“Oh great! And can I take my cricket bat with me when we go camping?”

“Why don’t we talk about camping later? These are your favourite sweets.”

“Daddy loves camping.”

“Daddy has been working hard lately. He needs a rest. Here, have a milkshake.”

“Oh goody. Strawberry, my favourite. When we go camping, can we stop at MacDonalds so I can have chocolate flavour?”

Okay, what I’m saying is the “Distraction Technique” which is usually a foolproof method of diverting children’s foolish escapades doesn’t work with camping.

Blast and double blast.

What is it with kids and camping? It’s almost as an attractive proposition to them as Christmas. Thank goodness retailers haven’t reinvented Christmas in July. The thought of having to stick up streamers and Christmas trees in a tent is like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Forget The Birds and Psycho imagine The Campsite…

The night before Christmas, silence reigns over The Campsite. A bedraggled mother is found hanging from an impromptu washing line. Children lie quivering in their sleeping bags. A man dressed in red is seen stalking the nearby flooded toilets. Who is this strange being? Is it Santa or a holiday maker with sunstroke? What dark and deadly secrets lie beneath the façade of The Campsite? Find out the horrifying truth this summer at a cinema near you!

Yes, you might have realised by now that to me camping is the most unappealing “vacation” ever. I use “vacation” very loosely in this context. In my opinion, no such thing as a “vacation” exists when camping. Indeed, the thought of using public conveniences or squatting in a field whilst the 7.15 express from Plymouth to Paddington hurtles past is about as seductive as spending the night in a mortuary. And no one mention those portable toilets; last time I went camping I thought it was an ice box and ended up with some funny tasting bacon and eggs.

A sight that strikes fear into the heart of every living woman

As for those so-called “inflatable” beds, have you ever tried sleeping on one with someone substantially heavier than you? Well, it’s like being at sea and being tossed up and down like a dingy. After spending a night on one with my husband once and alternating between bouts of seasickness and nightmares of being trapped inside a whale I was forced to go out and buy my own the very next day or (and this may come as a surprise to you) hang myself from an impromptu washing line. Anyway, those mattresses should be renamed. Something more akin to “The Slowly Deflating Mattress” would be more truthful. Yes, why is it that at 2 am when the water is trickling under the tent and there’s a force 10 gale blowing outside do they require pumping up? I think they should carry a government health warning;


Further, an extra warning could be added for increased awareness. I suggest something like;

“This mattress may cause reduced blood flow, impotence, headaches, sciatica, visual disturbances and near-fatal heart attacks.”

However, camping is a positive for anyone who wants to follow the Atkins diet. Kids and men seem to love no end of sausages, burgers, eggs and beans at 8am in a field in the middle of nowhere. But after 2 weeks of a meat-only diet most women would outpace Paula Radcliffe in a sprint to the nearest Thorntons’ outlet. But if a race to Thorntons is out, you could always join the race to wash your dishes at the nearest available standpipe which makes the chore of stacking the dishwasher seem quite blissful. Yes, it’s remarkable how all those things you took for granted like prepackaged pizzas, loo roll and a shower that doesn’t conk out when you’ve got soap in your eyes, suddenly acquire luxury status.

Sadly, camping seems to appeal to most men. This one is even reading Camping Weekly which may have come in handy since he appears to have forgotten his loo roll.

Now it would be unfair of me to imply all women don’t like camping but I did do a survey amongst my friends and acquaintances and only one lady actively enjoyed camping. After some pertinent questions, I deduced this was due to an indecent amount of alcohol and a failing memory. Admittedly, these are probably very useful assets when camping. However, I’m not sure if I like the idea of wandering into a stranger’s tent in a drunken stupor and asking if I can have a ride on their boat.

Anyway, this year I’ve taken the precaution of booking a vacation abroad, so I’m saved from yet another trip to hell and back. Well, not unless you count camping in the back garden. But hey, whilst my boys are frying their bacon and eggs I shall have my feet up and be daydreaming about that tasty young manservant.

I wonder what it would be like to get stuck in the outback with Ray Mears and a Pina Colada?

Hmm… hold that thought, ladies.Especially if you’re going camping this summer!


Ps I cheated on this one as it's an article I wrote for the BBC a while ago. Due to a severe lack of time today it was this or nothing! Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll have a bit more time to write an original post!

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for U2 and Mary J Blige

It's a cheat night. I am still racing around with my Fitbit on and I've thrown in an hour of swimming today as well today so I'm taking the easy way out tonight with a song that hits the spot with me from U2 and Mary J Blige. I reckon it's a good way to end a long day.

Any suggestions for the remaining letters are very welcome. Otherwise, there could yet be more dubious poetry!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Typofuckitupitius - The Writer's Curse

A couple of years ago, when I was preparing The Changing Room for publication it finally dawned on me why most writers are mad. Of course, I'd heard stories about writers who imagine aliens and psychotic wide-eyed rabbits peering out of bushes at them but I've never considered myself one of them because, as anyone who knows me is aware, I am completely normal.

However, what I have discovered whilst proofing The Changing Room is that these crazed writers are not just authors of science fiction, fantasy and obscure meaningless poetry as I imagined. They are not even affected by booze, drugs and mental illness. (Well, not all of them.) They are just poor unfortunate writers, such as myself, who have been cruelly afflicted by a terrible disease called
Typofuckitupitus. Now you may not have heard of Typofuckituptis before but let me assure you it is very real and very dangerous. Here's the definition from the Turley English Dictionary:

Typofuckituptis (Ti-poe-fuck-it-up-ti-tis)

A disease afflicting mainly authors whereby the writer develops an inability to spell even those most common words whislt under pressure. The disease can spiral out of control so that in the advanced stages the author will become delusional  and imagine mispleled words leaping of the page and slapping him around the face with a wet mackeral. In recent years, the disease has spread from the author community to the journalistic community. Daily Mail Journalists are particularly affected and a recent outbreak at The Guardian caused The World Health Organisation to issue an international health warning to journalists the world over. There are three stages of Typofuckiyuptitis:

Stage One: The author, usually under pressure to meet a deadline, starts to spel homofones and and random lenghty words wrongly. It is, however, sometimes difficult to diagnose in American writers as they spell things wrong on a daily basis. Therefore, caution must be exercised in diagoinsing  American authors as they can be highly volatile when accused of spelling things incorrectly. It should allso be noted that most American authors sleep with a gun under their pillow (in case anyone tries to steal their manuscript) so editors, proofreaders and medical practioners are advised never to ring thier clients late at night.

Stage Two: The auhtor begins to spell even more words wrongly. Theise include simple words lik 2, free and fore, fhe and fuk. This inablity to spell even fhe most simpl off words cuases the writer to become mentaly unstable. Soem off the wurst cases have led to authors riping up their manyouscripts, senfin letter boms to literary agnets or microwavingt their rabit. During this stage jounrlists at the Guardian will usually be fired but at the Daily Fail they will be promted to senior columnist.

Stage Three: Thise stage is the most sevear. Auhtors beging to see typos that don't even exist. The delusons become staedily wurse until they r comparable to a heroin trip, accompanied by a bottle oaf whiskey and a large joint. When the delusions are a tthei peak auhtors beginn to to read Fift Shaeds of Grey an stab themselves repeatedly and cry "If only I had writon ths mastrepeice!"
At this stage, if the auhtors' wpunds have not proved fatal they are incarcervated in a mentall institution.

So there you have it - Typofuckituptis which as those of you ahve read this blog for a while I have been afflcited by for quite some considerbale time...

This is what happens to writers with Typo Fuckitupitus. As the author of children's picture books, this writer thought she was immune from the illness - until she found she'd spelt her own name wrong on front cover. She collpased on the way to library on her way to pick up a ccopy of Fify Shades.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for The Sandwich Club

I’m fifty years old. It’s an abominable age for a woman and not just because some mornings there’s so much hair on your chin you resemble a yeti. You see, fifty is an age where a woman is likely to be part of the sandwich club: jammed between her career and caring for her children and parents like a piece of overly ripe cheese and rather drab lettuce. With no relish.

Some women would rather not sign up to the sandwich club as it frequently arrives at the age when the effects of the dreaded menopause take hold. Insomnia, tiredness and hot flushes are common grievances but some women, like me, suffer from more unusual symptoms like road rage, the desire to skewer politicians with a meat fork, and lusting after David Tennant. Sadly, as the sandwich club age is the one most likely to be filled with responsibilities, there’s very little time to drool over younger men for more than a few minutes. And if there’s a choice between working and coping with demanding teenagers and elderly relatives or finding the time or money to spend on yourself, inevitably a sandwich mum’s needs sink to the bottom of the pile.

Being a sandwich mum can take it toll. This mum is so overwrought she
can't even find her mouth.
Another unfortunate side effect of being an overworked mum absorbed in everyone else’s problems is that you’re flummoxed or shocked by your own problems, especially during the menopause. I was upset when I discovered my waist had thickened to the extent that I could pass for a Teletubby, but I was distraught when I lost my car keys for three weeks and then found them in the fridge. However, my absolute worst moment was when, aged 48, I discovered a grey pubic hair. It was a moment of total terror quickly followed by a torrent of crazed thoughts including: “Oh God I’ll never have sex again!”, “Should I get a Brazilian?” and “Does pubic hair fall out with age?” Luckily, I had to dash off on the school run before any ideas about fashioning my pubic hair into a comb-over took root. Two years later I still haven’t contemplated my dilemma any further - although I’m fearful the next time I dare look I may find my beaver looks more like a badger.

But the truth is no matter how much sandwich club women want to be in control of their lives, the day-to-day struggles of living mean plans and aspirations can fly out the window at any time. All of our decisions, big or small, pose moral dilemmas. One of my friends chose to send her poorly child into school with a sachet of Calpol in their lunch bag rather than endure the flak of missing a critical meeting. Another was forced to choose between finding a care home for her mother, moving her in with her family, or facing a 200-mile round trip every weekend to check on her. Another had to tell her son he couldn’t play in the school football team because parents were responsible for travel arrangements and she couldn’t take the days off work.

Like my friends, sometimes I’ve had to prioritise. The decision to switch from full-time to part-time work when my husband and I were in negative equity but childcare was becoming a monumental struggle was a tough call. But perhaps not as hard as my friend’s decision to give up her job to care for her 88-year-old father with Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, her siblings agreed to pay her a wage from her father’s estate so she wasn’t financially disadvantaged but, no doubt, had he lived for a long time and his funds run dry then the pressure on her to be both carer and part-provider or to place him in a state-funded care home would have mounted.

Elderly parents can sometimes be very unpredictable and require incarceration  a lot of care.
After her father’s death, my friend was left with having to jump-start her career and worry about her pension, which can be another problem for women who have at some point forsaken their careers or put them on the backburner. It can be disheartening in middle-age to find yourself at the bottom of the job pile again knowing the little you earn is going to help pay for your child’s university bills, your mum’s home help or the latest overpriced gadget for your teenager when what you’d really like is a holiday or a facial to boost your flagging self-esteem. And a gap in your CV, even if filled with numerous voluntary roles, is equivalent to having the plague. Trust me I know. I have the career equivalent of the plague and syphilis. I’ve come to hate job application forms, especially ones which insist you list every period you didn’t work, the reasons why you left, every exam you’ve ever taken and your sexual preference. (After 8 pm with Mr Tennant.) It’s like the Spanish Inquisition. The only question they don’t ask is when you last broke wind. Worse, since I’m a child of a less politically incorrect era, if I do manage to get as far as an interview I inevitably blow it apart with inappropriate responses. Sadly, I’ve learnt that the answer to “What are your personal weaknesses?” is not “chocolate”.

So life in the sandwich zone can be very frustrating when you’re being squeezed from so many sides. Especially when you don’t have the same youthful energy, no longer recognise yourself in the mirror, and the only time you’ve ever fashionably layered your clothes is when you’ve had a run of hot flushes. Every sandwich woman, no matter what hours she works, has at some point either failed to change her knickers, worn her cardigan inside-out or forgotten where she’s parked her car. I’ve done all three. On the same day.

Unfortunately, society places so many expectations on women now that it’s almost impossible not to at least momentarily consider what others think of you. Life is so public and so competitive that if you aren’t constantly posting Facebook status updates and pictures of your busy life you could easily feel a failure. In addition, those annoying coined phrases like “Super Mum” and “Having it all” rather than inspire, only serve to remind us of our inadequacies. (Mine are an extensive history of burning pizzas, pans, sofas, carpets and just about any combustible material as well as the ability to reverse into parked cars with alarming regularity.) In fact I’d happily consign all those silly phrases to Room 101 (alongside celebrity chefs, support pants and tights which collect around your ankles) because sandwich mums do not need reminders that they’re not Hollywood stars or CEOs with perfect kids, perfect teeth and the ability to whip up a perfect broccoli smoothie at a moment’s notice. And what’s more, we don’t care. Chiefly this is because we’re realists and a pretty sensible lot, but it’s also because anyone with any common sense hates broccoli smoothies.

This is a kale smoothie. It also tastes gross. Looks can be very deceiving.
Despite all the problems and difficult choices I’ve faced in my life, I know I’m extraordinarily lucky to have had so many opportunities and the freedom that has been, and is, denied to so many women. I’m thankful I’ve never used a twin tub like my mother or a mangle like my grandmother, and I’ve never had to chain myself to railings to be heard. Yet, when I reflect upon my own life and the lives of my friends, I can’t help thinking that female emancipation has brought us a new set of problems as we attempt to compete with men in the workplace and value ourselves more in monetary terms.

It’s unsettling that modern life now has so many costs attached to it: the cost of childcare, the cost of parenting, the cost of living. I don’t think we can ever escape those financial burdens, so sandwich club ladies just have to do whatever they need to survive. Like women have always done. Sometimes it’s choice, sometimes it’s necessity.

Perhaps what’s most important, as women challenge their traditional role in society and continue to push open the door to equality, is to be true to yourself, know you made your best decisions and don’t live a life of regret. Being a sandwich mum can be exhausting but it can also be very rewarding and a lot of fun. So whatever your struggles, as you seek out your own path to love, laughter and fulfilment, always look forwards never backwards. And when the going gets tough put on your best lippy, smile, and keep on walking.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rubbish Ramblings

Gasp. Yet another post I've left too close the deadline. Let's face it, I am rubbish at planning and self-discipline. However, I do have a treat for you tomorrow as I have an actual "S" post for you that I have actually spent more than five minutes thinking about! In fact, it was commissioned by one of the UK's national papers but, sadly, they didn't run with it which in writing terms would have been a bit of a breakthrough for me. Humph. I haven't figured why they didn't run with it (but apparently the offending newspaper has a practice of commissioning more articles than it needs) so I have decided that my article was one of the following:

 a) Too good (Well obviously I'd think that.) 
 b) Too bad
 c) Not sleazy enough. (Hard to believe given the general standard of writing on this blog.)
 d) Too humorous 

Anyway folks, you can let me have your thoughts tomorrow on why you think the paper didn't run with it. In the meantime, it's another quickie post!

Oh wait a minute... Master Benedict has just come downstairs to tell me to stop posting mentally scarring stuff on my blog. (Apparently my G-Spot post is a hit with his school friends.)


Right, back to my R for Rubbish post. Let me make this a quick post as I have have family matters to attend to now. (I knew this blog would cause me trouble one day.) So here are twenty definitions of the word "Rubbish" as defined by... me.

1. The London Fashion Week
2. The Eurovision Song Contest (Goes without saying really)
3. The Paris Fashion Week
4. That ghastly newspaper that didn't publish my article. (Rotters.)
5. Kale smoothies (Obviously)
6. Those garbage/dustbin bags that always rip before you can even get them out of the trash can which, ironically, here in the UK we call "rubbish bags"
7. Those funny little cars with three wheels which look like they've been designed especially for Tom Cruise.
8. That awful Thomas The Tank Engine Film starring Alec Baldwin which nearly made me kill myself out of sheer despair and boredom.
9.Those little towels that they give you at the gym which you are supposedly meant to be able to dry yourself with but will barely fit around your left thigh.
10. Any food label where the writing is so small you can't read it without a x20 magnifying glass.
11. Croc shoes. Because they make your feet look twice as big as they are and like one of those kids on the front of a cheap birthday card where their head and feet are three times the size of the rest of the body.
12.Any product that claims to remove stains from clothes because NONE of them work. 
13. Cheap loo paper that feels like your wiping your ass on sandpaper.
14. Fingerless gloves because they make you look about 90 years old or like a criminal out of a Dickens novel.
15. Crotchless knickers. Because they are way too drafty.
16. The European Union. Hey, let's vote on it!
17. French restaurants. ( I have to put that out of principle as they are always bragging about being better cooks.)
18. Chick pea fritters. (Sticks fingers down throat.)
20. Those silly designer fascinator hats which makes celebs look like their wearing toilet brushes on their heads.

That's it. And so to bed!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Queues and British Stoicism

A peculiar characteristic of being British is being very patient and stoic even in the most difficult of times. This sort of resilience can be seen in all aspects of the British life: from our ability to hold the Germans at bay with some old rickety boats and a few squadrons of  Spitfires to our ability to stand in an orderly queue for hours on end without a fight breaking out.  We are a nation of stoics - any other country would have ejected Piers Morgan permanently. So today I thought I'd list my Top Ten Example Scenarios of British Stoicism...

No 1. It goes without saying that at the top of the examples list is the British habit of waiting patiently in a queue. Sometimes people wait in queues for whole days outside Harrods at sale-time or sleep on the pavements outside Buckingham Palace for a glimpse of Her Majesty. In fact, there is no greater crime in the UK than queue-jumping. Try it and you will be met with scathing looks or, at the very least, whispers about being mentally unstable, drunk or "not from around here." If you are in the doctors, dentists or hospital waiting room the conversation will always be about what position you are in the queue:

"He's first, I'm second, so you must be after the woman in the polka dot dress who's third."

"But my appointment is 10.30 and your card says 10.40."

"You were late. You've missed your place in the queue."

No 2. You're covered in blue welts, have ear ache, gangrene in one foot and ulcers on your tongue. Your neighbour sees you hobbling in your garden trying to hang out the washing and says:

" You don't look well. Why don't you go to the doctors?"

"There's nothing wrong with me. If I'm not better in a few days I'll book an appointment."

No 3. You've been waiting in the queue at the newsagents for a lottery ticket and a packet of Benson and Hedges ciggies. You get to the front of the queue and you say:

"I'll have two lucky dips and a packet of Benson and Hedges."

"I'm afraid the lottery machine's just broken down."

"Oh. Just the Benson and Hedges then."

"I'm afraid I've just sold the last three packets to the man with the walking stick."

"I'll have a packet of Gillette razors."

No 4. You're sitting outside your child's reception classroom. Your appointment was at 5.45 pm and it's now 7.55 pm.  The teacher bounces to the door wearing Jesus sandals, a flowered smock and a daisy chain around her neck.

"Who's next?"

You leap up overjoyed: "I am!"

The woman next to you bursts into tears: "I can't wait any longer. My mother's in hospital and my husband goes on night shift in thirty minutes."

You sit back down with a thump. "You can go first."

The teachers wraps her arms around the other parent and give you an encouraging wink. You open up your bag and take a Sudoku puzzle and fill in random numbers whilst you imagine torching the school.

No 5.

You ring British Telecommunications (BT) for the twentieth time to tell them your mother died three years ago, you no longer own that property and to stop harassing you for an outstanding payment you don't even owe.

"Oh, I see. I quite understand the problem. I'll just transfer you to someone who deals with this..."

" No! Wait......"

*Music plays*

No 6.

You go to the hairdresser and ask for a "few light waves" to add a bit of bounce to your thinning hair. Ninety minutes later you look in the mirror and see you've transformed from a middle-aged, white middle-class woman into a young Michael Jackson. You politely thank the hairdresser and walk to the nearest alternative hairdresser and ask them to cut it all off. Three months later, after you've spent thirty minutes smoothing down the last of the curls with extra strong gel, you open your Sudoku puzzle book and randomly fill out the numbers whilst fantasying about torching the hairdressers.

Your confidence can really be affected when you get the wrong haircut. If you're like me and get an unexpected afro it ain't so bad as you can say you're a big fan of MJ and you're going to a rock-star fancy dress party. Unfortunately, the  gentleman above couldn't use the same excuse as his haircut made him look like Justin Beiber.
No 7.

You've been waiting for fifteen minutes in the queue at the petrol station. When you finally pull up at the pump, just as you get out of your car the attendant appears and puts the "empty" sign on the diesel. You get back into your car, drive out of the station and onto the next petrol station. When you get there is it closed due to "unforeseen circumstances." You drive home without the air conditioning on, trying to not to brake or speed and wondering whether to stop en route and purchase a new book of Sudoku puzzles.

No 8.

You are just about to step on the 9.30 am train to London for a day's shopping, revisiting old haunts and tea with your best friend from college who you haven't seen for twenty years when your phone rings:


"Mrs Turley?"


"I'm afraid Ben's fallen over and has a slight scratch on one of his fingernails and the hairs on his eyebrows look slightly out of place."

"Is he concussed?

"I don't think so."

"Is he bleeding?"


"Well, he sounds okay. And as I'm just about to step on the train to London and I've already bought my ticket can you send him back to class, please."

"I really think you should come. It could turn into something serious."

*Long pause*

"Are you there, Mrs Turley?"


"We'll we see you in thirty minutes then. I'll give Ben a cold compress."

No 9.

You ring BT and get cut off. You ring BT and get cut off. You ring BT and get cut off. You ring BT and get through to customer services and just as you tell them your problem you get cut off. You ring BT, you get through, tell them your problem and then you get put on hold. After ten minutes on hold a man comes on the line and you tell him your problem again. He says "You've come through to the wrong department, I'll transfer you."

 *Music plays*

No 10.

You keep telling your son's teachers that your son has a learning difficulty. None of them believe you. You tell his teachers for 12 whole years that there is a problem. You try persuading them with reasoned arguments, gifts, irate letters, and finally raised voices. No one is interested. So you change schools. You spend vasts amount of money on extra Maths and English lessons and extra-curricular sports to boost this confidence. And just when you finally give up all hope that he will ever get any help he is finally diagnosed as dyslexic. For a moment you are elated .... until you discover that because of all the help you have given him he is within the "average" ability bracket so he will still not get any support from his school.

You contemplate hanging yourself from your washing line but realise that won't help matters. You must be stoic. You must be brave! You remember Winston Churchill's famous words and open a (very) large bar of chocolate in consolation.

"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."

So there you have it. That's what life is like in the UK unless you're the Queen who incidentally is ninety years old tomorrow. God bless her! (Even though she's probably never been in a queue.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Pork Chops and Promisicuity

I am cheating tonight as I am tired and want to skive off to bed after a long day incorporating several long walks. (I'm trying to shift some weight and counting my steps on my Fitbit.) So here's my short story Pork Chops and Promiscuity which is from my story collection A Modern Life. You can pick up the entire collection free on Amazon Kindle between 21st- 25th April US Eastern time. If you enjoy the stories please consider leaving a review. Just a few words will do - nothing fancy is required!

And so to bed!

Pork Chops and Promiscuity.

Judith was a lesbian. Only she didn't have short hair and she didn't wear wooden beads. Neither did she have a girlfriend with a moustache and legs like a Russian shot-putter. In fact, Judith didn't have a girlfriend at all; she preferred the anonymity of one-night stands with girls picked up in gay bars and communal changing rooms. Judith particularly liked the changing rooms at the exclusive gym she attended where all the tanned PR girls hung-out, stripped to the waist, chatting nonsensically about their executive boyfriends and the latest skincare products. Whilst the nubile objects of Judith’s affection compared the benefits of the latest three-for-the-price-of-two offers in Boots with make-up bags gifted with a purchase of two face creams in Debenhams, Judith would happily eye-up their scantily covered buttocks.

        Judith’s own choice of underwear was hipsters, as they flattered her slender hips but, as a voyeur, she preferred thongs. Often she would imagine ripping them off with her teeth and, after rampant sex, flossing with them in the same way she might do after enjoying a particularly good pork chop. Not that Judith should eat pork because it was against her religion. Well, her father’s religion. Anyway, it didn't really matter about Judith’s fondness for pork chops anymore as her father had disowned her when she’d told him that she was “coming out” and that she’d rather die than spend another evening, at his behest, with his best friend’s son who had a PhD in engineering. That last dismal night with Englebert had resulted in a massive showdown - the culmination of years of Judith’s self-hate for being her father’s lackey. The acne-covered Englebert would have tested even the most stalwart socialite but, since Judith found nothing remotely interesting about the internal workings of office photocopiers, and had no knowledge of the functionalities of dynamic equilibrium, the evening had held even less interest than her great aunt’s funeral. And Aunt Florrie had been a hundred and six when she died and only two people under the age of ninety, excluding Judith and her parents, had turned up. So it had been exceptionally dull. 

        Of course, there were good things and bad things about not having your father’s love. Or his money. In fact, Judith’s life had been somewhat difficult for six months when, without the comfort of her father’s allowance, Judith had been forced to wait tables, in addition to her office job, to pay her bills. Although Judith enjoyed prying on her customers’ conversations and flirting with city workers in order to elicit a big tip, it had been an enormous relief when her father was run over by the no 33 bus. In his statement, the driver had declared he hadn't seen Mr Freud crossing the road; a fact which Judith thought highly unlikely as her father weighed twenty stone and had been walking his Great Dane, Hildegard. However, it also seemed unlikely that the bus driver was an assassin and Judith wasn't one to complain about minor details. So, even though poor Hildegard had also perished, Judith was finally relinquished from her father’s influence and took comfort in the knowledge that Hildegard’s retinas were used to restore the sight of a Chihuahua from Golders Green.

        Unlike Judith, her mother had been distraught at the news of the tragic accident. Indeed she’d been distraught until the day Solomon’s will revealed that there was more than enough money for mother and daughter to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Judith and her mother celebrated with champagne and pork medallions on a bed of exotic rice.  Nevertheless, Judith’s mother was a good woman and kept her joy well hidden, wearing black for six whole weeks and impressing all the neighbours with her solemnity. Until she met the new head butcher at Waitrose and was spotted barbecuing spare ribs and drinking sherry on the Sabbath.

        So, it was shortly after her father’s death, and her mother’s exodus to Spain on a prolonged tour of the vineyards, that Judith found herself at a crossroads in life. Having temporarily handed over the management of her father’s pawnbroking business to Jerri Scholar, her father’s deputy, Judith continued with her office job whilst pondering her single status and the future of Solomon’s Gold Mines. Judith didn’t trust Jerri Scholar because his name was, in fact, Gerry Schulberg and Judith had a deep-seated mistrust of people who changed their names for fashionable reasons. After all, this was the twenty-first century and none but the most bigoted was the least concerned by the fact that she was an (ex) Jewess with a penchant for young girls and pork chops. Not that Judith broadcasted her sexuality but, when she’d had fleeting affairs with younger women dissatisfied with their boyfriends, none of them seemed that bothered by either her sexuality or their own changing sexual preferences. Modern life was one big new adventure which, at times, young adults and teenagers seemed to consume faster than wholly appropriate - even to Judith, who was still only thirty-one.

        However, Judith was not about to knock the society which, more or less, had accepted her ways. Particularly as she had recently discovered that, if she chose carefully, she could also solicit the attentions of older married women wishing to spice up their flagging sex lives and whose husbands thought female one-on-one titillating rather than grounds for divorce. As it turned out, Judith liked mature women as much as she liked younger women. Although younger women had the benefit of the freshness and enthusiasm of youth, the experience and determination of older women to obtain at least one more orgasm before they died impressed Judith, and more than made up for any sagging buttocks. Judith’s only exception to this mantra was women who had sagging buttocks, breasts which touched their knees, and who also participated in aqua-aerobics. Having witnessed the carcass of an elderly aqua-aerobics swimmer hauled inelegantly from the pool one day, Judith had decided aqua-aerobics was a precursor to sudden death. The image of the bulging body, complete with yellow rubber cap and frilled costume, would remain imprinted on her memory forever.

        So it was one day at work, whilst Judith was contemplating her future and refilling the photocopier (about which she now had more knowledge of its internal workings than what she felt wholly comfortable with) that the unexpected and yet, perhaps also the inevitable, happened. Out of her employer’s office came a vision of loveliness so great that Judith’s heart fluttered with the stirrings of lust and, very possibly, love. Judith had been beginning to wonder if love and marriage was something that happened only to heterosexuals. She had almost entirely resigned herself to a life of physically satisfying but emotionally barren intercourse when Shelley, eighteen-and-a-half with big brown eyes and hair from a L’Oreal advert, tripped gaily into the open-plan office with the aptly named Mr Hands following close behind, his palms hovering over her curvaceous derrière.

        So the delightful Shelley joined the team at Handy Hands’ Stationery Suppliers and became the object of both Judith and Mr Hands’ desire. Unlike the salacious Mr Hands who could barely stop himself salivating over Shelley, Judith found herself adopting traits that she had previously thought more particular to love-struck heteros: gazing into space, doodling hearts on her notebooks and maintaining a safe distance from her love interest in case of embarrassing rejection. As the weeks went by, Judith found it increasingly awkward when Shelley would pull up a chair, her soft breasts pouring over the top of her cheap low-cut tops, and ask Judith to demonstrate the finer details of Excel spreadsheets. Unfortunately, Judith would often imagine herself sucking Shelley’s sweet pink nipples and was unable to concentrate on the job in hand which, for the purposes of demonstrating Excel, was rather a hindrance.

        So with love in her heart and confusion in her logic, Judith stayed on at Handy Hand’s Stationery Suppliers despite the fact that she was sure Jerri/Gerry was on the fiddle. Profits at Solomon’s Gold Mines were down and Jerri’s excuses about the gold price crashing, whilst seemingly plausible, didn't tally with her examination of the spreadsheets. She supposed that Jerri thought that because she’d only worked in a small office and had never been ruthlessly ambitious he didn't think her capable of spotting any irregularities. However, the fact was that Judith had inherited more of her father’s aptitude for numbers than her mother’s aptitude for the consumption of Spanish Cava.

        The unhealthy situation came to a head one day when Judith, stomach aching and with a splitting headache caused by her unrequited love, was not at her best. Feeling particularly irritated that she’d run out of staples just as she was about to affix her final spreadsheet of the day, she dutifully headed down to the stationery cupboard, deluxe stapler in hand, to replenish her supplies before packing up and returning to her flat to spend the evening leaving woeful messages on Facebook. Judith was in two minds about Facebook as occasionally her exes would leave encouraging comments about her now undesired single status but, for the most part, Judith was besieged with a stream of photographs of lattes or cream cakes. These visual feasts only served to make her more depressed as, although Judith didn't have a weight problem, she didn't need to be reminded that some women could eat anything they wanted and still not have to work-out. So, feeling somewhat peeved about her situation in life, Judith refilled her stapler and pocketed the remainder of the packet. She was returning down the corridor, wondering if the news about her stapler being refilled would be sufficiently interesting to post on Facebook, when a loud squeal reverberated from the broom cupboard. Judith realised the squeal was that of a woman in distress and, more importantly, a woman whose high-pitched girly squeal was instantly recognisable as that of her beloved Shelley.

        With her adrenaline running high, Judith threw open the door to the broom cupboard aghast at the thought of Shelley clinging to a top shelf, the portable steps having fallen away. But what Judith found was not Shelley holding on for dear life and about to fall into her arms but the poor girl wedged up against a stack of disinfectant, cleaning cloth in hand, wearing an expression of sheer terror. In front of the terrified Shelley, with his head buried in her breasts and a hand up her skirt, was Mr Hands grunting and moaning like a sow in labour.

        As Judith absorbed the ghastly scene, her gaze locked with Shelley’s pleading eyes.  “Help me,” mouthed Shelley as Mr Hands’ fingers encroached inside her knickers. Shelley’s pitiful appeal pierced Judith’s heart and reservations, and with explosive fury Judith marched into the broom cupboard, grabbed Mr Hands’ testicles as if she was going to bite into a massive pork chop and stapled them with all her might. Mr Hands screamed. And screamed. And with a final scream of ear-piercing stupendousness, Mr Hands collapsed to the floor writhing in agony, tears flooding down his beetroot face. 

        “You bastard,” said Judith and, as she was never one to do anything by halves, bent down and stapled his testicles, not once, but twice more to be absolutely certain Mr Hands would never, ever, touch her dear Shelley again.

        On completing her rescue mission, Judith held out her hand to the trembling Shelley and the two of them retreated to the office, cleared their desks, deleted all the electronic spreadsheets, shredded the paper ones, and sojourned to the Chinese restaurant for a dinner of sweet and sour pork balls accompanied by Spanish Cava. It was over a second helping of the pork balls that Judith, her emotions still running high and slightly intoxicated by the wine, declared her undying love to Shelley.

        Not knowing what to expect, Judith held her breath at the possibility that pork balls might be thrown in her face. So it was a huge relief and surprise for Judith, even bigger than when her father had been mowed down by the no 33, when the almost inconceivable happened: Shelley declared her undying love in return. It transpired that Shelley had loved Judith since the day she’d joined Handy Hands' Stationery Suppliers and the only reason why Shelley hadn't declared her love was that she had no idea that Judith was also a lesbian. In her innocence, Shelley had been led to believe that most lesbians had moustaches and legs like a Russian shot-putter and that Judith, who had neither a moustache nor unwholesome legs, could therefore not be a lesbian. As for herself, Shelley believed she was a misfortunate rare exception to the lesbian rule and, lacking interest in hairy ladies with muscular thighs, she would be doomed to a life without love.

        So perhaps it goes without saying that Judith and Shelley got married and lived happily ever after. But in this case, not before Judith had first fired Jerri/Gerry for embezzlement and discovered her father’s payments for a lease to a flat registered to a woman who, coincidentally, shared the same surname as the bus driver who had run over her father and poor Hildegard. On balance, Judith decided her mother didn't need to know this information as it was pointless spoiling her new-found happiness. As Judith deleted the evidence she surmised that, even though she was still in the learning phase of life, she’d already discovered that all over the world people were screwing each other and it didn't really matter what race, religion or sexuality you were. Neither did it matter whether you were fat or thin or beautiful or ugly. Or even if you did aqua-aerobics. All that mattered was that you got to share a little love. 

Never underestimate a woman. Or the power of her stapler.

Pork Chops and Promiscuity is taken from my short story collection A Modern Life  available on Amazon.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Ode to Oedipus

Yes, it's time for one of my departures into appallingly bad poetry. This is because as usual I had no idea what I was going to write about today so I looked up a list of words beginning with "O" and found I didn't know most of them. Well, I knew a few words such as... "on", "one", "once", "oh" and "oven." I did toy with the idea of writing about my oven (*spits*) but I thought that would probably spiral into one of my celebrity chef rants which I had been thinking of doing for "C" and then forgot at the last moment and so ended up doing the Christmas Male Dancer.

However, I did recognise the word "ode" in the list which was closely followed by "Oedipus". ( I knew O level English would come in handy someday.) So I thought why not throw them together and see what happens.....

Oedipus was a king of Thebes
Who didn't like controversies
Especially about his unfortunate herpes
Which tormented him so much at night
He wished he was a hermaphrodite

But Oedipus was already distressed
Having killed his father in a rage contest
He was even more depressed
When he discovered he'd married his mother
And hadn't thought to use a rubber

Oedipus was distraught by his affliction
And cursed by a sex addiction
So he went to see his physician
Whose only pathetic solution
Was the suggestion of an institution

Oedipus wept and threw himself upon the floor
I cannot bear this anymore!
I am someone to abhor!
And so with wailing cries
He pulled out two pins and blinded his eyes

There is a moral to this sorry story
And all its poetic allegory
Which is condoms should be mandatory
Especially if you take a lover
And then screw your mother

There's also another moral
Which is if you write some twaddle
For the April A to Z
Make sure you post it after the watershed
Or preferably when you are dead.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

N is for No

"No" can be a difficult word to say for many people. But I think it is an especially hard word for women to say.

Historically and culturally woman have been moulded into saying "yes" in a world which, despite progress towards female emancipation, is still male dominated. Even in England, which has been at the forefront of female emancipation, women still only received the vote in 1918 and even that was only for women over thirty. It was not until 1928 when The Equal Franchise Act lowered the voting age for women to 21 did women's voting rights finally become on a par with men's rights.

So less than a 100 years ago women in the UK were still considered unequal to men. And that still holds true today in many areas of our lives in the UK despite our legal rights. Across the world women are even more marginalised. Women are still paid less, promoted less, sidelined and abused as slaves, servants and sex workers. They are far more likely than men to be the victims of bullying, rape and murder. Women are, too often, disposable items.

When you examine women's roles in society, both in the past and present, and then factor in the physical disadvantages of being a woman you can see why it can be difficult for any woman to say "no". We are even more disadvantaged because as natural nurturers and carers it is never easy for us to say that one word even when we know we absolutely should.

And even though I have had many advantages over the many abused women across the world I too have found that saying "no" can be a difficult task. Instead, I've found myself saying phrases like:

"That's not fair"

"Don't you think it would be better if..."

"Perhaps there's another way...,"

"That doesn't seem very moral..."

 And so on....

When what I meant is "no".

So as I become older and my days fewer I have resolved to say "no" more often. Join me.


Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Moustache

This is one of my true-life embarrassing stories that happened several years ago.

It was just before Christmas and Master Ben was in dire need of a haircut. I wasn't going to put up with any of his feeble excuses in an attempt to get out a much-needed haircut, so I frogmarched him into the barbers which, in the pre-Christmas rush, was pretty busy. Now this is a barbers which is principally a male barber's shop but will occasionally cut women's hair if they're not busy.

Anyway, Master Ben and I were awaiting his turn in the barber's chair. It was a long long wait and although there were two barbers both had clients and there were two further clients in the waiting area. I was filling in my time reading The Sun (standard barber shop reading) and Master Ben was filling his time just looking around. This was the conversation that followed:

Master Ben: The women's haircuts are more expensive.

Mrs T (Looking up at the price board): I know - but it's still cheaper than my hairdressers down the road where it costs a lot more.

Master Ben: But why do they charge more for women's haircuts?

Mrs T: Well....ladies' hairdressing saloons are usually a bit more luxurious... and it can take much longer to cut ladies' hair.... and (keeping voice low so the barbers don't overhear) women on the whole are more vain so they tend to get more easily ripped off.

( I know - it was a tad cruel to be mean about my own sex but I figured I might as well break it to Master Ben now - that way he can get the pre-nup in place first time around.  And if he earns a ton of cash when he's older hopefully he'll still have some spare to support his old mum rather than several high maintenance ex-wives.)

Master Ben: But your hair is short. Why should you pay more? (Thoughtful pauseWhy don't you pretend you're a man?

Mrs T (Momentarily flabbergasted) Umm... because I look like a woman?

Master Ben: But you have a moustache.

(Slight pause as Mrs T contemplates a) suicide b) putting Master Ben up for adoption and c) pretending to be deaf.

Mrs T: Well I do have very dark hair....

 (Mrs T is now as bright as a pickled beetroot but trying desperately to look totally nonchalant )

Master Ben: And you have a beard.

(Mrs T's hand immediately flies to chin to check for giant facial hairs whilst turning a deep puce and feeling the first stirrings of a panic attack.)

Mrs T: ********* ****** *********!!!*******!!!!!!

 ( It's not expletives - I just can't actually remember what as I said - I was too distressed.)

Master Ben: But in the sun I can see blonde hairs beneath your lip!

Mrs T: *************Ummmm.......********  Ahhhhhh.....******

 (I said something but again I can't remember what - probably some unintelligible dribble as by this time I was practically an incoherent red mass of blubber on the floor.)

Master Ben: You could wear a baggy jumper and no one could see your....(giggles) one could see that you're a woman.

Mrs T: (Still trying to be nonchalant) I still think people could tell I'm a woman.

Master Ben: But no one's going to check.

Mrs T: I suppose so. (Anything to shut the kid up.)

Master Ben: Well they're not going to look down your pants.

Mrs T: Oh look it's the football highlights...... (Anything to distract the kid - even football)

It's a sad fact of life that as women get old they get hairier and as men get old they go bald.  Currently, I'm offering my facial hair for sale on Ebay. It's the  ideal birthday gift for any man considering a hair transplant as it will replicate and get thicker on a daily basis. And - just in case anyone asks - my pubic hair is not for sale. A woman has to have some self-respect.

Finally, I just want to confirm that conversation really did happen. Now I know some of  you will be thinking one of the following:

a) I need a shave


b) Master Ben sounds so sweet and innocent he probably didn't really mean to embarrass me in front of six men and push me to the edge of a violent and bloody suicide.

To which I answer:

a) My life would be a lot easier as a man. However, I swear to God I am not as gross as I sound. In fact, about 25 years ago I once got my arse pinched twice on the same day. The fact they were both school kids is totally irrelevant.

b) Master Ben is about as sweet and innocent as Dita Von Teese. I saw his face. That boy will go far, believe me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Laxatives and Loos.

9.59pm. Two hours and one minute before the A to Z deadline - Mrs T wanders into the lounge where Master Benedict is relaxing with his feet up watching the telly and drinking a glass of orange.

Mrs T: What subject beginning with the letter L should I write about for the A to Z?

Master Benedict (instant reply) Laxatives.

Mrs T: Laxatives?

Master Benedict: What is "laxative" not good enough for you?

Mrs T: No. Laxatives will do just fine.

You see folks, that is what my life is like as the mother of three boys who lives in a house with four males. If I am not being subjected to rude jokes and the regular breaking of wind, I am subjected to conversations that seem always to revolve around bowel movements. Oh, how I long for some sophisticated conversation about what's on the West End or the latest bestselling books! Sadly, that just does not happen in my house. I am the solitary female and must suffer the consequences.

So laxatives it is.

At present, I am not aware that any of the males in my house need laxatives. And I pray to God that they never do because cleaning my bathroom is already a punishment worse than death. It requires a decontamination suit, a Geiger counter and an extra large peg on the nose. I have seen things down our loos that, if I didn't know better, I would have thought were alien species. I have seen things down our loos that if Her Majesty's government knew about them they would be requisitioned and stored as weapons of mass destruction. I have seen things down our loos that make me wonder why it isn't men who give birth to babies.

I have seen things down our loos that no man, woman or child or even a Tory MP should see.

You know I look forward to the day when my kids leave home and I have my own spotlessly clean white bathroom so that when I sit down on my loo seat I can do what comes naturally without jumping up and shouting:


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Kale and Karma

Being a girl who was brought up in the countryside I am fond of my vegetables. (And I am not talking about the locals.) I even eat Brussel sprouts which probably puts me in a minority group and deserving of a government grant. I must also be one of the very few who eats the gherkin slices in a McDonalds' hamburger. I'm not sure what a slice of gherkin adds to a hamburger - maybe it's to fool customers into thinking McDonalds' burgers are healthy because they have some ghastly greens in them. But anyway, I am one of those people who don't like to waste food (especially out-of-date chocolates and biscuits) as I was brought up in a family with a frugal budget where we couldn't afford to waste what little we had.

So this brings me to the subject of kale which, just in case you don't know, is a type of cabbage. It is described by the Oxford dictionary as "a hardy cabbage of a variety which produces erect stems with large leaves and no compact head."

This is a rather brief definition which, frankly, does not impress me. Thus, I have written my own defintion which I shall be submitting to the Oxford dictionary for consideration in due course. If you have anything to add to my defintion please leave a comment.

Kale: (Pronunciation: Vom-it) A hardy cabbage of a variety which produces erect stems with large leaves and no compact head. It is universally hated by women, except those who favour Feng Shui, due to its recommend use in (supposedly) healthy but foul tasting smoothies. Despite it's reputation for being healthy many women have reported vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, bile, violent stomach cramps, profuse belching and farting on the consumption of kale smoothies. Some women have been hopsitalised due to the onset of severe depression after atempting a 28-day kale smoothie diet.

Alternate thesaurus words for kale: disgusting, vile, inedible, sickening, rancid, gross and putrid.

Decorating your kale smoothie does not make it taste any better.
Now to end this post here's a question for you: Do you believe in karma? Becasue I have had such rotten luck for the past 18 months I am beginning to wonder what I have done wrong. In fact, I am deeply worried not just about what might happen to me next but also what might happen to me in the afterlife. Knowing my luck, I won't just burn in the fires of hell - I'll be forced to eat kale smoothies for all eternity or be reborn as a stick of kale that is pulverised in a mixer before being drunk with glee by some overly enthusastic dietican.