Hello!

Hi I’m Mary, a freelance writer from darkest Lancashire coming up to my eighth year down south. I am gradually coming to terms with the lack of decent gravy and having my accent used to comic effect at meetings and social gatherings.

In addition to my main job as a marketing and PR consultant, I provide freelance copywriting services and creative content for publications and businesses. My main activities are for The Metro and Yell – you can take a look at my published work here.

Thanks for visiting my website!

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Three solid reasons to stop eating meat this year

I’m a meat eater – not a particularly dedicated one, but a meat eater. I can’t identify as a vegetarian or vegan because while I don’t like the idea of hurting or killing animals, I do rather like the taste of meat, eggs and cheese.
I’m not alone – the majority of people in the UK eat meat. But it seems that increasing numbers are turning to vegetarianism (up to 12% of people according to one source, although other sources put the figure closer to 2%).
So apart from the difference in diet and taste, why else is there a reluctance towards going vegan?

Continue reading

Death by flat-pack

wardrobe 1

What’s worse than building a wardrobe and two chest of drawers with no prior DIY experience? Building a wardrobe and two chest of drawers with a rolling pin and a mini screwdriver, during a heatwave. As a wise friend pointed out, purchasing flatpack furniture is symptomatic of extreme masochism, and my stifling hot bedroom made a fine stand in for a whips n’ chains torture parlour as I wrestled my furniture into being last week. Continue reading

Getting curb-crawled, murdered, mugged or kidnapped

Accepting sweets from strangersNone of the above has ever happened to me, apart from the first, and I rather enjoyed the novelty and optionality of it (“Show us your tits?” “No thanks I’m fine.”) so it doesn’t really count as a harrowing experience. The other three I live in terror of happening, because my Mum used to be a social worker and she has passed down her alarming tales in the graphic oral tradition. From the age of seven she would sit me down and ask, “What do you do if a stranger offers you sweets?” And I would answer automatically, “Scream until you come and get me,” while my little brother bobbed in the background going “Get the sweets! Get the sweets!”

“And what do you do if a stranger asks you to get into his car?” Mum would ask, and I would say solemnly “Run away and find a nice lady” while my brother shouted “Drive it away and crash it!”

“And if anyone ever hurts you, you come and tell me immediately, and you won’t get in trouble, but they will go to jail,” she would say. “Yes Mum,” I’d say with relief, our weekly test finished, as my brother said “I’m going to go to jail when I grow up then I don’t need to go to work like Dad.” Continue reading

London terrifies me, and I live in Reading

Every time I find myself obliged to go to London I wish I’d stayed in Reading, mincing down the high street past our traditional afternoon brawls and clockwork-regular floods of chav vomit instead. Why does London fill me with such foreboding?

1. People don’t look at you. They look at the space around you to see if they can squeeze past without having to touch you, but they don’t look at your face, or watch where you’re stepping, or wonder where you’re going, or wonder why your hair is sticking in all directions so exotically; you’re about as significant as a bit of prehistoric dog turd on the pavement, blindly stamped down underfoot in the foot-pummelled city streets. There are so many people in London that they’ve all seen far more of humanity than they ever wanted to and so they’ve simply stopped acknowledging each other. Going on the – correct – assumption that most people are sinister bastards with death in their hearts, I normally wouldn’t mind this lack of acknowledgement, but it makes it impossible to ask for directions every time I get lost. Continue reading

Kyle the doubting serial killer

My friend Kyle is walking a tightrope, leading a double life. He is at once a copy-writer and a prospective serial-killer-you’d-least-expect to murder-you. His greatest earthly desire is to slaughter indiscriminately (he hasn’t settled on a ‘pattern’ yet) like his sinister hero Emperor Nero.

His motivation is clear – “I crave the media attention” – and his ambition loud and concrete, but like anyone considering a new career, he has had his doubts and sometimes questions his suitability for the role – he is partially human after all. He has done his research, and found, irritatingly, that he doesn’t fit the psychiatric mould for serial killerdom. There are three key childhood traits which most serial killers have and Kyle lacks all of them: bed-wetting, murdering small animals and pyromania. I tried to reassure him that this needn’t hold him back; that it would help his cause if things ever came to court and he needed a psychiatric assessment, but Kyle is an anxious soul and a perfectionist and is convinced he doesn’t have what it takes.

“What about the mess,” he worried, “and the clean-up? Dexter makes it look so quick and hygienic but it will take them hours to clean up between shots. I think to myself, could I be doing something else with this time?” I suggested strangulation, poisoning and suffocation as three non-messy options, but (a true artist) he is reluctant to limit his craft, and is also starting to worry about where to dispose of the bodies. I suggested throwing them into the River Kennet and he laughed scornfully. Cowed by his expertise, I stopped making suggestions and started making notes to document his reign of doubt-ridden savagery. “It will just be so time-consuming. The maiming and the torture – OK I can enjoy these things. But finding and stalking my victims in the first place, the arduous process of mopping up their blood afterwards (it goes everywhere), taunting the police during their laughingly unsuccessful manhunt – people don’t realise how much time this takes. I’d need to give up my day job which would then limit me to seeking out richer victims who might carry cash.”

Furthermore, he hasn’t decided on his target market. As a marketing consultant I stressed the importance of knowing your demographic but he just isn’t fussy, and my non-marketing side commends that; old, young, male, female – the world is full of bastards of all shapes and sizes so why discriminate?

Kyle’s inherent doubtfulness may hold him back for some time, but rest assured, one day we will be seeing this man on the news, and it will not be regarding his copy-writing proficiency. He has already decided on his ‘calling card’: a single playing card placed whole in the mouth of each victim (“No folding. I’ll remove the tongue if necessary.”) I said “Oh, like the Joker?” and he gave me a withering look and said “No. He only left a joker playing card. I have 52 lives to play with.”

If you’d like access into Kyle’s pre-serial-killer thought-stream, see his Twitter here.

My family

People often say to me, ‘Now that I’ve met your family, I understand you a lot better,’ which is an odd thing to say because I’m pretty straight-forward on the whole, two arms, two legs, at the most one head, good at counting etc. Nothing untoward, morally questionable, mentally dangerous or erotically charged going on in this hash-brown-and-diet-coked-up temple of a body. I’ve summarised each family member to try and clear up any remaining confusion for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them. I haven’t lived with them for seven years but they’re all still as mad as biscuits and just as moreish. Continue reading

One of those unbearable bastards

I’m officially one of those unbearable bastards who enjoys exercise. I know this because I’ve started updating Facebook and Twitter with every rush of endorphins that accompanies the movement of a taut, aching limb, and because my friends have stopped talking to me and started throwing bricks at me. But exercise is amazing! Here’s why:

1. It’s like evolution sped up – run fast enough and you will grow millions of extra detachable arms and legs and heads and other stuff so that you’re able to survive for longer in a hostile, anaerobic world.

2. It gives you an alibi for all the murders you didn’t commit. You won’t think you need one until you are accused of murder so try to exercise for 100% of the time you’re not with another human being, like when you’re eating dinner or asleep.

3. It keeps you the same size so you don’t need to buy new bigger clothes, or makes you smaller so you get to go shopping for smaller clothes. This is a surprisingly understated benefit, and almost never touted by the so-called exercise professionals who are too busy shrinking people to think about the important stuff.

Some other unbearable things that I do:

1. Clog up the Facebook newsfeed with hourly updates about my uninteresting day, because I don’t know how to make it just appear on my timeline and because I need somewhere to test my personality on people where they can’t glare or chuck acid at me. Glares aren’t physically corrosive but they still hurt.

2. Use Vicks as body moisturiser because I like the smell and the consistency.

3. Brush my teeth in my room, only bolting to the bathroom at the last possible moment when my mouth is burning with fluoride. I do this to minimise potential interaction time with my housemate, and because I’m scared he will tamper with my toothpaste because he is completely fucking mental.

4. Express ill-researched overblown opinions about current issues / articles, partly just to bait people but mainly because I like pretending I know what I’m talking about. If we were to compare it to a child’s pretend tea-party, my opinions would be the cups of air and my brain the empty teapot.

How to cope with a hangover at work

The face sags and collapses inwards like an aged souffle, the skin around the eyes puffs into grey little saddlebags and the eyes themselves shrink into obscurity as they try to let as little light in as possible. The shoulders hunch to ward off potential conversationalists, and the stride constricts to a tortured shuffle. The brain itself diminishes into non-existence. Being hungover is shit, being hungover at work is diabolical. Here’s how to cope:

  1. Hook yourself up to an intravenous drip of special hangover solution consisting of 10% hash brown and 90% tea. Tell anyone who asks that yes, it is terminal, and try not to trip over it as you wheel yourself back and forth to MacDonalds from your desk.
  2. Under no circumstances do any work. Work is incredibly bad for your health anyway, but on a hangover it can be lethal. Your best bet is to plug in your headphones, place your head between your knees and weep for eight hours until you can go home. Weeping too enthusiastically will exacerbate your hangover – a gentle wracking sob is considered by many to be the most soothing form of despair.
  3. Don’t speak to anyone. Ignore colleagues. Glare at visiting clients. Answer the phone with a strongly articulated silence – they’ll know you’re there, and will take your austere non-verbal approach as an indication that you are too busy and important to deal with the spoken word. They’ll send their request via email which you can delete at your merry leisure.
  4. Don’t look at the computer screen. In an office environment this may initially prove challenging, but by getting creative and using traditional methods (paper planes instead of email, handwritten novellas instead of company blog posts, minimal Facebook activity), you can considerably diminish this obstacle.
  5. You will probably find yourself shivering uncontrollably all day so keep warm by making a small fire out of all the stuff you no longer require (telephone, laptop, chatty colleagues)
  6. Go to the gym at lunch – this will get you away from all those hangover-exacerbating factors in the office (everything). Find the machine with the least knobs and handles and take a well-deserved nap. Other gym-goers will assume you have simply exercised yourself to death, which will pique their already-demented competitivity and cause them to work even harder. You won’t be disturbed.
  7. Keep your desk stocked with fatty, salty snacks in case your IV drip runs out. As a general rule of thumb, the more heart-attack-inducing the snack, the faster it will cure your hangover. Trust me, I’m a nutritionist, and a doctor. And a copywriter.
  8. People will often tell you to drink lots of water to cure a hangover. This is dangerously misleading: water is made up entirely of hydrogen and oxygen – in unequal parts! Your best bet is to continue drinking alcohol, that popular and trusted age-old cure touted by any alcoholic worth their weight in unprocessed vodka. If hipflasks go against your company policy just go to the pub – your boss will rather you reeked of whiskey, urine and despair there than in the office.

 

Tax review

Only if he were heavily bleeding and unconscious, and therefore unable to beg, weakly, “No… please… call my private doctor” would Strapping American succumb to treatment on the NHS – such is his distrust of our free healthcare system. He won’t be happy until he has flattened the entire National Health Service with his weighty Republican rhetoric, and with the viciousness and frequency of his attacks it won’t take him long even if he does it all the way from America. Continue reading