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

The subtle beauty of the humble tinned gin and tonic

Tinned G&T holds certain negative connotations. It isn’t your ‘Lager with the lads’ Becks or ‘Going to a BBQ’ cider; its the beverage that says ‘I own several cats, some alive, some less so. I party alone. I have sex alone. I drink alone. I will die alone.’ It’s a budget buy for classy ladies fallen on hard times, or a luxury beverage for tramps. I personally fall somewhere in between the two demographics, although admittedly it is a sliding scale, or scaling a slide depending on your level of inebriation.

A few lesser celebrated advantages of G&T

  1. It’s versatile. Owing to its protective outer shell and modest opening (the tinned G&T is like a tortoise in a number of ways) you can drink it at home, on the train, under your desk, whilst breastfeeding – the possibilities are endless. And I’m not promoting the consumption of G&T during sex, say in reverse cowgirl position, but if you wanted to I bet you could.
  2. It’s delicious. It tastes exactly the same as normal G&T in a glass, but with the added titillating pleasure of cold aluminium on your lips. Feels a bit like the barrel of a gun. Added entertainment can be sought by pronouncing aluminium the American (muppet) way.
  3. It’s cheap, so you can drink more of it in tins than you can of it in glasses. This often leads to an entertaining, sociable evening of stealing, fighting and bleeding, not to mention a substantial period of crying and vomiting. Let it all out. You just can’t get this experience with your traditional G&T.
  4. It’s an excellent accessory for your tramp disguise. Transform an ordinary outfit into homeless chic by putting your hood up, sitting on the floor and drinking thirstily from your trusty tinnie. You could stand to make up to as much as £1.80 in one hour, which will buy you another tinned G&T or perhaps another accessory such as a cold sausage roll or another tramp’s rabid wild dog to attract more punters.
  5. It doubles up as eye make-up remover, as long as you drink enough of it and have some desperate emotional issue to dwell on for three hours while you drink, alone, and increasingly aware of said aloneness, rocking back and forth, blaming yourself, reaching for the knife drawer etc.
  6. No mixing is required. You just shake, open and go, like a modern day impoverished female James Bond with little-to-no self-respect.
  7. Not breakable. You can drop a tinned G&T on the floor as many times as you like and you won’t anger the bar men, make anyone’s feet bleed, or spill much gin.
  8. It’s an excellent substitute for a man. It may still make you cry, after six or seven violent slugs, but it doesn’t then attempt to defend itself, and you don’t have to take it to court to make sure it doesn’t get custody of the kids / your remaining G&Ts.

Top five uses for mouldy shoes

What’s worse than finding all your shoes covered in green and white mould? Throwing all your shoes in the bin.

I went delving for sexy heels last Friday whilst getting ready for a rare night out (I’m a quiet soul) and was astonished to find that my build-in wardrobe had turned into a Bosnian spore-zone. I did battle for 20 minutes with limited resources (vinegar – my room smells lovely) and had to throw away two carrier bags of shoes and store all my clothes on my bed until I was certain the wardrobe was mould-free.

It’s not all bad news though (it is, obviously – the bastards are out to kill you); now I have a sexy new dehumidifier which I am keeping on full-blast in the wardrobe. It sucks every last drop of moisture out of the air, including from my eyeballs and other damp orifices which makes me feel all hygienic and blind.

Top five uses for mouldy shoes

1. You can strap all your spore-covered heels together until they form a large spiky mould boulder which you can lob at people who piss you off, people with unmouldy shoes for example. The military may be interested, hold out for a decent price – those guys have money.

2. Mould-ridden shoes are truly eclectic and unique accessories to any outfit. Milan is calling.

3. Useful for warding off overly attentive men. “Yes, yes, yes. Have you seen my fungus feet?”

4. Developing new medicinal cures a la Alexander Fleming. Penicillin 2.0.

5. Useful for when one is stalking one’s favourite Royal, and one is required to disguise oneself as a dead festering tramp or a crumbling mildewed wall to avoid questioning.

Hormones are a leading cause of haircuts

Kate Middleton is pregnant and nobody is happier about it than I am, not even Kate herself, who is probably loving being hooked up to a drip and chucking her guts up in hospital. She can anticipate nine months of similar activity according to the thousand other sympathetic sufferers of HG (severe morning sickness) in the comments sections on online newspapers around the world.

The first I knew of it was a million Facebook notifications as my friends raced to spread the good news on my wall, incredulous that I had actually been doing some work for once and not trawling the Daily Shit for Kate news. Pulling out my phone I had eight text messages and a voicemail, most of which tempting me with a sweepstake on the name (Mary, duh). I headed straight to the pub to celebrate with three anti-royalist fascists who listened quietly while I ranted, eyes glittering, about the future of the monarchy and the likelihood of it being a girl (Kyle: ‘What’s the likelihood of it being a baby?’) The best response was from my Dad, to whom I immediately texted the good news (‘I’m going to have one too, Dad’.)

Dad’s actual text response was 3-tiered:
1. I’ll organise a street party
2. I’ll arrange a competition to help choose his name. I know, how about “parasitic useless pointless bastard”
3. I rang the palace with my name suggestion, their flunky told me he thought I was very insulting. I replied that they started it by insulting the intelligence of 60 million citizens by suggestion that they should defer to a few average human beings who happened to have ancestors who were more venal and psychotic than anybody else’s.

I replied: ‘Unborn baby sad :(‘

Elated though I am, like thousands of other women, I wasn’t shocked. We’d all clocked the new fringe last week and splattered ‘PREGNANT????’ on our Facebook walls while men tried to notice anything different about her hair and fathom how this might relate to having a baby. Hormones are a leading cause of haircuts – so many of us go for a haircut not because we have split ends but because we’ve had a break-up or our friends hate us or we’re feeling fat. Kate’s hair has never changed except on two occasions: When she and William broke up in 2007, and last week. Something was in the water.

A final note: Does Alexander McQueen do maternity wear?