Modern Life Is Rubbish

RescueRemedy_1

Because it only happened when I was awake the doctor said it was stress. Which was a bit stressful.

It was ok she said, we could do something about it. As her words hung in the air my mind wandered into a sort of dream sequence where lots of pretty pills were floating around me with soundtrack provided by The Orb. I was the opening credits to Nurse Jackie and about to join the Valley of The Dolls.

I wasn’t afraid, I was about to be normal! We rattle as a society. Everyone seems to have a little bottle of something for their joints or their moods or their heart, or some dodgy unregulated pill from the internet that guarantees to drop you a stone in a fortnight, but only manages to drop the contents of your stomach unexpectedly. On the way to work.

I waited for the illegible script. Maybe she’d give me one of those special blue ones that I’ve ‘heard’ are great at counteracting that Sunday fear after a clatter of wine. Maybe my modern life stress was going to be cured at the expense of my vital skills, like my ability to scan the shelves for the biscuits on offer at breakneck speed or to know the exact length of time you can get away with shoving the washing from machine to tumble without them smelling mildewy. Nope, she suggested Rescue Remedy.

As the young, non-stressed types would say, WTF. Where was my bloops! Instead I was being given the medical equivalent of a bouquet garni diluted with equal parts water and Dettol. She asked how I tended to manage my anxiety normally, and did point out that while half a bottle of Chardonnay and a Morse box set would indeed do the trick, it wasn’t really practical for a working environment.

In the end we agreed to watch it for a month and I would try very hard not to worry that a lack of pak choi in Tesco would prove detrimental to my health and personal relationships or any number of equally toot things that generally keep my mind going most of the time, I’m sure just like yourself.

I didn’t buy the rescue remedy, but the off license is pleased to report a slight rise in Chardonnay sales. Cheers!

 

Fit for nothing summer

gutties It is a random Tuesday morning.

Friends and people I’ll never meet are beavering away in offices and other designated workplaces they work in. I am in my living room in my pants and a vest. The vest may or may not have curry on it. It probably does.

Jillian is speaking to me from the screen. She thinks that between us, in 6 weeks, I am going to have a ripped midsection. Every time she says it all I can hear is the Beastie Boys asking for some action from the back section, but Jillian doesn’t seem to notice. She’s already halfway through the warm up. She wants me to drop my ‘tush back, bend at the knees, eyes to the sky, pound it out’. Thank god the blinds are closed, I feel like a dick. And who knew that a soft sole would make such a racket? I can barely hear the instructions over the noise of my feet, but it appears Jillian and her chums and their tiny toned midsections are floating through the air. Jesus, now they are on the ground. How’d they move so fast? Right, must concentrate.

Apparently I need to pump it, but I’m missing out the reps as I can’t get comfortable on my exercise mat. Stupid mat. Who makes a mat that slides along the floor? I’m sure I was in the middle of the room at the start but now I’m practically hitting my head off the radiator. Sorry Jillian, I am concentrating. I start matching my breath to my movements as per the helpfully screamed instructions, but now she wants me to crank it. Is that the same as the pumping? What does that even mean? It’s just so, so American. Jillian looks like she is glowing with post-coital joy. I look like the woman from How Clean Is Your House having an inspection. I’ve never noticed the skirting board from this angle and as I start thinking about how much time other people spend actually really looking at their skirting boards, and my goodness this floor is stinking and is that a bit of fir tree, and all of a sudden Jillian wants me back on my feet. Too late Jillian, too late.  My midsection is now bored.

It is a random Monday morning.

The week is fresh, the grass is wet with dew and stay at home mum’s are skipping from the school gates to enjoy coffee dates with lady mates. I’m in Stormont Park in running trousers that may or may not be on back to front. They probably are.

The lady in the app tells me to begin my warm up. Is just leaving the house not warming up? There are two bitching-housewives mucking about on the outdoor gym and I speed past them at a fair walking pace to avoid their judgement and to hit the safety and cover of the woods. I’m enjoying the air and the light dappling or whatever light does and then the app lady spoils it all by telling me to start running. Don’t start too quick, don’t want to run out of steam. Don’t want to run, but don’t want to eat food cooked in steam, so run. I’m pretending not to be counting down the seconds until she tells me to stop and just casually running and enjoying the movement and the tunes but I’m really 32….33…is it nearly over yet, come on? My calf feels tight. Or does it? It’s just in your head, keep going, think of mythical hot-pants. The app lady tells me to begin walking again. She took her time, but everything is ok again for another couple of minutes. I’m sure that calf is stiff, but it’s just the walky bit, it’ll loosen. If you burnt fat with every thought I wouldn’t need some patronising biddy from the app store telling me to shift myself. And then she spoils it again, telling me to run. And I do, for about 5 strides and pain shoots up my leg, and I’m stopped. I’m no Paula Radcliffe but I know this isn’t good. My eyes are starting to get very hot and stingy and I’m really starting to feel sorry for myself. I want to be home. And a fag. Running is bollocks.

A short cut through the bushes seems a solid plan until I get there and find myself a hobbling, teary blot on the landscape of a bus load of tourists’ picturesque shots of the grand drive. They can edit me out later. I’m beyond caring. The app lady helpfully tells me my workout is nearly over. Silly cow.

It is a random Wednesday.

After lunch, at least. Jillian and the app lady have been given the day off. There is wine in the fridge.

Farwell to nylon

The Administrator

Farwell to nylon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She woke up one Monday and discovered she was an administrator.

She didn’t know how this even started. She was at school hoping the weird fabric blazers are made from didn’t give her BO, full of hope and possibilities, and the next moment she was in admin. It was a mystery. And a misery.

No one starts their working life thinking they want to spend their days doing things to a spreadsheet. When Bell created the telephone she was sure he didn’t even dream to imagine “one day this simple machine will create employment by one person answering it and then calling another to tell them that they have answered it, I am a freaking genius, evil laugh.” She wanted to be curator of MOMA. Or Sir Nicholas Serrota but without looking like she was seriously into the BDSM scene.

When she discovered that she was an administrator, which took a lot longer than you would imagine for someone whose main skill is knowing stuff in an organised way, she decided she didn’t like it. And left.

Then the weirdest thing happened. She turned into a boy.

Not an actual boy, but apparently she had balls. Big massive balls. People stopped her in the street to comment on these balls, they messaged her and congratulated her about all the ballsyness. She had a jumper that washed badly and a yoga ball whose main use was dust gathering, but was otherwise balls-less.

Two things worried her about this balls situation.

Firstly, why did the act of following your dreams have to be a boy thing, like the Fast and Furious franchise? Bravery had been designated a boy thing in the big gender pot at the Garden Centre of Eden, and she didn’t like it one bit. She thought it was, indeed, ballicks.

The other problem had nothing to do with Germaine Greer. It was that she didn’t feel brave at all. Instead she had the crippling fear.

This was not the type of fear most sensible wine-loving types get after a night out, as they grasp around hopefully in the dark beside their bed for phone and purse shaped items, no this was worse. The fear of being found out. Of being wrong. Of failure.

This fear is a real thing with a proper name and everything called Imposter Syndrome, and she had it in bucket loads. If you’ve never had it, lucky you. One of the most ironic things about the whole imposter-fear-worry-business is that actual idiots don’t suffer from it at all. The fools. The other thing is that it affects more women than men. And no one is going to tell you about it, because they have the fear.

As time passed and the balls-myth grew and grew, and the fear followed her around like toilet roll on a shoe she realised she was not alone. There was loads of people with varying genitalia and The Fear, throwing themselves into the unknown every day, and all she needed to do was get on with it and suck it up.

So she sucked it up, handed back her lanyard and walked into the sunshine of freelancery.  So far she has learnt much. She had never known that people called to her door during the day, desperate to hear her bread-buying mental processes. She discovered that people other than well dressed Americans want you to find Jesus on a Tuesday afternoon. Her mind has become much more inquisitive, a thought she pondered one Friday morning as she watched death metal outfit Cattle Decapitation (real band) on YouTube just because they were mentioned somewhere, which led onto a lengthy mental debate as to whether lead singers in the genre really suffer from throat pain and perhaps put Throaties and honey on their riders.

She also found massive love and respect for all the wonderful people in her life who put up with her fear while dealing with their own. The fearful will be victorious.

Most importantly she discovered that drowning out the fear and bigging yourself up is definitely much easier after a glass and a half of wine.

But perhaps not on a Monday morning.

With a pollster.

im-sorry

Sorry seems to be the easiest word.

im-sorryI’d like to start by saying sorry.

God knows what I am actually sorry about, but I am bound to be sorry about something. I am always sorry. Whether it be that I am 5 minutes late for something vital like the pub or sorry I couldn’t find the Tunnock’s Tea Cakes in Tescos because they’ve been moved to encourage the impulse buying of nettle tea, I find myself constantly being sorry. And the stupid thing is I am sorry for all the sorry-ing. I blame the Daily Mail.*

I doubt I am alone. Self-help books to improve your life are still selling like hot (don’t eat them if you want to find love) cakes, the government is encouraging us all to embrace a spirit of entrepreurism to get the economy going, Jordan has written (ahem) her umpteenth book while making perfume and more babies in her garage while managing a tan and eyelash maintenance,  yet I still can’t seem to get to the bottom of the washing basket. Sorry.

The World Database of  Happiness, yes, this is a thing, would say that happiness cannot be found at the bottom of your laundry pile anyway, so there is one less thing to worry about, hurrah!  This gorgeous shining beacon of research has made other remarkable findings too. If you go out for dinner you are going to be happier. If you are in a long-term relationship you are going to be happier. Your glass will be filled with joy if you’ve had kids and they have buggered off to their own homes, and, my personal favourite, if you drink in moderation you are going to be happier than those who don’t drink at all. That’s my girly Wet Wednesday Wine Night not-sorry justification right there!

One of the more interesting positive ideas coming from this research however is about your self-image. Apparently whether you look like the side of a bus or a spud in a field doesn’t matter to your happiness at all. So long as you think you are pretty as a picture your happiness levels will soar, regardless of whether you could star in the Next catalogue or just let it drop on your doormat.

So that’s it then. I’ll stop apologising, and start thinking I’m a fox, and everything in the garden will be peaches and cream. It is never as easy as that though is it. Show me a woman who doesn’t compare herself to someone else and I’ll show you my bank account is in the black.

It is time to stop comparing and start supporting instead. A very gorgeous friend has recently lost a considerably hefty load of weight. She looks fabulous (well done) but it wasn’t a walk in the park. If that is all it took, we would all be at it. She has worked bloody hard and denied herself treats a plenty. She’s had an egg in a cup while workmates have devoured chips. She has exercised like a machine. She looks great. How have her colleagues responded to this transformation? Showers of praise?  No. Telling her she’s gone too far and looks too thin. Bollocks. That’s their issues, not hers.

So enough Go Compare and let’s have more Big Me Up. In our body image obsessed culture of  over-achieving,  more and more people are going off work on Thestress (real illness) because it seems no one can keep up. In the past happiness used to be a question of what’s your name, what’ve you had, reach for the lazers, safe as fuck.

Lets get back to that.

And don’t feel jealous of the boy or girl across the office from you. You are both gorgeous, and the only difference between you could be as simple as an egg in a cup.  

 

*Actually, this time I can’t even blame the Daily Mail, but I am never going to apologise to them. Twats.

Dead-wood1

The One About Gwyneth and The Dead Wood

Dead-wood1 Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow is the prettiest darn lady in the whole wide world. And she has the prettiest darn book out about how rubbing some organic couscous over some samphire and eating it makes your bottom tiny and your kiddiewinks super clever and well-behaved. She has an Oscar in her downstairs loo. Her hair has that darn delicious ‘just done a Coldplay’ tousle. And she is in that super douper big Iron Man 3.

Gwyneth Paltrow is so darn smug.

 Not everybody loves our wee Gwynie though. Despite all these accolades she has also been voted the most annoying celebrity in the world as well. Poor gorgeous rich lady. It was probably the samphire that swung it.

Then again, she probably doesn’t give a toot. What probably does keep her pretty little peepers open at night is the dwindling frequency of calls from her chums. Lets face it, who wants to go to someone’s house for the babbling crap over a vat of wine just to hear how goji berries are the new wheatgrass, and the vat of wine is invisible? I think I’m busy that night.

Gwyneth is not alone, it can happen to the best of us. Like hair and skin elasticity, the other thing we can lose as we age is friends. It could happen for any number of reasons. You might not work together any more. You might have moved house, had kids, taken the pledge, become a sex addict. That old end of a relationship adage ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ does have it’s place, but just sometimes it isn’t you, it’s them. The Dead Wood.

It has happened to me. I had a friend. We were friends for a very long time. Then one day I woke up and realised that it was always me who called, and even when I did all I got was earache, complaints and guilt trips. Fun times indeed. I decided that day just to wait and see how long it would be until she actually called me for a change. It has now been 4 years.

Everyone has some dead wood in their lives. You may not see it, but it is there. You can see it in your hesitation to ‘accept call’ when their name pops onto your screen because you know you’ll be stuck for the next 45 minutes talking about getting the driveway paved or how great work is going or how, oh god,will they ever stop blowing, how long have I not been listening, is there a way back into this conversation? You can see it in your frantic searching of the memory bank to come up with a reason why you can’t join them at the dinner dance or coffee or Tescos. Even for a moment. In three months time.

It may sound harsh, but that dead wood needs cutting out. It is the kindest thing to do. It is best for both of you. You are setting them free to spend more time with the other wab parents from their kid’s nursery which no doubt they will thoroughly enjoy. As they swap boasts. And power hoses.

As for you, as Shakespeare would say, life is too darn short to spend with people who do your nut. Cutting out the dead wood means you have more time to spend with the friends who make you laugh, who have your back, who make you smile at just the thought of the look of them when you caught them dancing alone in the kitchen in the afternoon when they didn’t know you were there. The friends you love.

So lets raise a glass to our friends, old and new. The ones who tell you that you were fine and not at all drunk when you have the fear. The ones who tell you they think you’ve lost weight when you clearly haven’t.The ones who don’t give you shit. The ones with whom the conversation just carries on whether you spoke this morning or last week.

And most importantly the ones who don’t see you as dead wood either.

Cheers to you all.

mel-b

Slim Down With Scary

mel-bI can tell, you’ve noticed, haven’t you? Ok, ok, I admit, yes I have put on a few pies. These things happen. Sadly I suffer from a very under appreciated eating disorder known as loving to eat stuff. Sweet or savoury, I love you all. Whoever said that nothing tastes as good as feeling skinny feels was telling a whopper – a big fat juicy Burger King Whopper at that.
 
I have hit my limits though, and am getting back on the cutting-down wagon, spurred on by the support and encouragement of that great feminist icon, Scary Spice.
 
Yeah, right.
 
There she is, all over my tv in a hideous bodycon dress telling me to get my summer body now. Really, already? I seem to be a bit behind schedule, as last Christmas’ ‘Christmas Cracker Not Christmas Puddin’ diet, and my ‘Hot Pants by Paddy’s Day’ regime are still ongoing with little success. But it is ok, Spice Girls to the rescue! Scary says all I need to do is eat her mate Jenny’s microwave toot and everything will be bodycon-tastic.
 
While my taste buds start to withdraw at the thought of some pea-sized portion of plastic wrapped slop, and growing levels of obesity are without doubt a major health concern, no one seems to be asking the real question – hey Scary, what happened to all your Girl Power? Are we ladies to forget about empowerment and celebrating our differences now and all struggle to get into frocks as tight as sports socks and as equally sweat inducing?
 
Everywhere I turn women are trying to make other women feel fat or that their hair isn’t as shiny as glass or their skin the texture of a ceramic doll. Having pores is frowned upon. As are veins. According to Katie Holmes our lipstick should not only be applied 24 hours a day, but that it unifies us all as women. Toot. As if she should be listened to after her wonderful life choices, ahem, cough, Scientology.

One of the worst culprits on the making-you-feel-shit-about-yourself front is chick lit. Just you be careful as you throw that Marion Keyes into your trolley with your organic rocket and Dairy Milk. You could be opening up a whole can of worms for your mental health. Research carried out by Virginia Tech found that reading about skinny women makes you feel less sexually attractive, and reading about insecure women increases anxieties about your own weight. What a fun way to while away an afternoon. That basically covers all women in chick lit. This alone should be enough to send you scurrying to the crime section, never mind the fact that chick lit tends to read like a cider-fuelled GCSE project.

I know I’ve said it before, but let’s all be nice to one another. Encouragement costs nothing. So Scary, I think I’ll give the microwave option a wide birth, and opt for the 5:2 diet – eating normally and on two days a week you eat frig all.
 
My two fasting days to be the ones following a good night on the vino with the girls.

We will tell each other we are fabulous.

I will be too hungover to eat.  
 
The lipstick will have well worn off.
 
And the chic lit can do one.

The Acquired Inability To Escape

Don’t, don’t, don’t believe your hype

The Acquired Inability To EscapeThere was once a little girl, who had a little job, right in the middle of the city. She loved her little job, and all her worky friends, but sadly the money was quite shitty. One day a prince called her phone, offered a new desk home, and all the magic riches with it. The little girl had her eye turned by the offer, and took it. The dick.

I was that dick.

The job itself sounded fabulous. The work was to be varied. It was a cool office. The work produced was interesting and arty and jam-packed with the sort of culturey goodness that really pips my horn. Oh, and there was free parking. I was so excited that I missed the bit in the small print that said the boss was an arse. Not just a personality-clashing kind of arse that resides in offices across the land, but this guy is the king of the arses.

Despite my small-print oversight, it didn’t take long for his true self to come to my attention. I could just do nothing right, and his constant reasons for my chastisement ranged from the banal to the ridiculous. I forgot to put a lamp on. I bought his paper too early in the day. I didn’t update a spreadsheet with information that I only could have known if I had started the job 4 months earlier, so I was basically accused of having an inability to time travel. I had an inability to be psychic. And worst of all, I was too punctual.

One afternoon I was getting the usual grilling in his lair of arrogance and pretension, and all the while he kept typing. Even for him I thought that was quite rude, but by this stage nothing would have surprised me. That is until I returned to my desk to discover what he was typing was another complaint, shiny and new in my inbox. The wab.

Lets face it, working life is rarely a fairy tale. Unless you are very lucky, you rarely spend your toil bubbling over with joy and excitement with every fresh task, endorphins peaking at a nice clean excel. At the same time you shouldn’t sit at your desk filled with fear, trying to work out the odds on keeping the tears back until at least lunchtime, as that is some pretty sad maths. Nor should you have to smile sweetly as a man with all the confidence and charm of Jeremy Kyle tells you he is “not sure if you are having a bad day or are just bad”.

I resigned at the start of the year. He didn’t even respond, which I did find quite surprising considering he always had something to say about everything. I’m sure if someone brought up the topic of Always Ultra he would be able to wax lyrical about how you put them on wrong, and how he used Bodyform as they were better.

While my savings are now disappearing, and my confidence feels like it has taken one hell of a kicking, I have learned a valuable lesson that I bet the Dalai Lama wishes he’d thought of – don’t do stuff that makes you unhappy, life really is too short. Chase your passion not your pension, and sometimes running away is the bravest thing you can do.

....built for comfort, not for speed.

Down with the big pants

....built for comfort, not for speed.

Hello, my name is Thelazycreative, and I am wearing crap pants.

Not every day, but most.

My pants are crap for many sad reasons, not all their own fault. Like they went through the wrong wash, or they went through the right wash but they still went a funny sort of purpley-grey, or the tumble dryer ate a bit of them, or they are too tight, too loose, too cheap, or are too fancy for work. Perhaps the print on them which you thought was a little quirky and fun in the shop now make your nether regions feel sad, because your 38-year-old bottom no longer has the perk of your 18-year-old self..

Whatever the reason, my drawers are filled with bad drawers.

I only noticed the other day, and the sorry, cottony, sight depressed me no end. For how long have I been letting myself go? Why do I choose the food hall over the lingerie department? Should the suggestion from my husband that I might be having an affair, just because my undies accidentally matched one day have been a warning? I have seriously pondered the reasons for my nylon nightmare, but its all going to be ok. It’s not my fault. It’s the global economy.

Apparently it is a proper thing. Economists know that the end of  recession is coming because we start buying pants again. And I thought economics was hard? During times of hardship it is common to try to get a few extra hundred miles from the stuff that the most amount of people will see the least, apparently, and your poor pants are the first to go.

There is just one problem in this type of economising. Someone DOES see your pants every day. You.

Whether you are married or single, missionary or missionary position, if your pants are grey, your day will be too. It’s all very well counting the pennies. These are difficult times. And then there is Christmas to pay for, as if this time of year comes as a shock expense, but come on people, I bet even Martin Lewis has some nice pants.

I was asked for my Christmas list the other week, and all I could think of was a new frying pan. At the pub a sexy, glamorous friend and I discussed what untold joy would abound if Santa brought us one of those fancy Dyson Hoovers that are tiny, but can basically clean your house while you just stand in one place. Where have all the fun times gone? Did we leave them behind once we started stepping over the thresholds of garden centres for coffee dates? I mean, a frying pan….jeez.

So I have a massive recession recovery plan. Lets all ask Santa for pants!

The economists would report the rise in sales, hailing the end of the dark days. The BBC would be thrilled to report on something a little more lighthearted than paedophilia, or themselves. More importantly however, it would signal and end to sad bottoms all over the country.

So while you hide your VISA bill and get a bit teary at the latest John Lewis emotional blackmail, get rid of the grey and shake your bootys one and all this recessiony festive season…. because you’re worth it!

Everything is beautiful

Sisters are doing it, to themselves

Women are mental.

They are.

This is not a sexist comment, as I am one of these mentalists. If a man says ‘why do women wear perfume and makeup? Because they are ugly and they smell’, it is sexist. If I say it, it is a social comment as to the pressure placed on modern women in relation to their appearance. It is also my favourite joke. A joke with a jag.

In so many ways women are not mental. They run homes and businesses simultaneously. They can converse on world politics and Celebrity Big Brother at the drop of a hat. They mother their children and love their families, they are Delia in the kitchen and E.L. James in the bedroom. They provide shoulders to cry on, wine to laugh over and Olympic gold medals to amaze and inspire. And then someone brings out a camera, and out floods the crazy.

A survey conducted by Photobox last week brought out some sad, but not surprising statistics. While we may be happy to share with our 1500 Facebook friends that little Jonny managed to use the big boy’s toilet, as soon as someone posts a photo of us, all our achievements are reduced to a few hundred mean, mocking pixels. It has happened to me. A couple of weeks ago I was part of a surprise birthday celebration. It took months of planning. People flew in from all over the world. Old stories were told, new friends were made, we even managed to take in a world heritage site amid all the wine. The most memorable part? The fact that two days later one of the revellers posted a photo of me online where I appear to be smuggling a kilo bag of Maris Pipers up my jumper.

Of the 1000 women questioned there was the usual sort of responses. No one likes a photo of themselves in swimwear, older ladies like to hide in the back of a group shot and 40% said that they would avoid getting papped when drink had been taken. That’s a bit unfortunate, for tis when the Cosmo is in the Canon comes out.

Magazines today are still as filled with articles on how to please your man as they were in the 50′s, but when it comes to modern women, self image and photography, we don’t give a fiddlers about what men think- it’s the judging eyes of other women. 90% of those surveyed said that it was the opinion of other women which scared them the most.

This is terrible news, and it is time to stop it. We live in a world where women died in order to get the vote, where cameras are increasingly attached to any old toot you might have in your handbag, and social networking has the power to educate, mobilise and change opinion. Let’s use it all for good. I don’t care whether Andy Murray is Scottish or British, nor do I want my timeline filled with #justiceforcody (although, obviously animal rights is important, before you start..). I do care that ladies are sitting at their desks throughout the land filled with self loathing because Michelle from accounts may have seen ‘that’ photo of them in a frock.

So ladies, lets play nice. Lets have a little love for ourselves, and for our fellow sisters (and brothers). If you see a photo of someone you know, tell them they look pretty, bag of spuds or no. Because we all are pretty in there somewhere.

cableties....so sexy.

Varying Shades of Toot

The red white and blue of the Diamond Jubilee is over and the international rainbow of the Olympics are round the corner, but  summer of 2012 is all  about the battle of a couple of other colour palates- that of the neon and the grey.

T’is (allegedly) the season to dress skimpy. The clothes shops are jam-packed full of gaudy blinding pre-school paint-play nightmares. No woman I know can confidently pull them off in their head, never mind in reality.  Only a teenager can feel sexy in a luminous yellow with the sides cut out to emphasise the love handles. If the frequent statistics spewed out by intellectual giant of morning tv Daybreak are to be believed we are a nation of big fat biffers. Who wants to see a biffer in a stretchy fake lace bodycon? The average UK lady will not feel sexy in stretchy bright fake lace. They feel skinny in black. And sexy in grey.

And here lies the other colour de jour- the grey.

From tube trains to tea rooms, buses to park benches, women throughout the land are sucking up 50 Shades of Grey like the literary equivalent of meow meow. They are twitching in their seats and tweeting on their phones,  sex is back and this time it’s bondage!

If you haven’t read it, this is what happens. Young girl pulls millionaire who wears a tie, whose trousers hang ‘that way’ (what, like down, with gravity?) and who likes to tie her up with cable ties listening to Now That’s What I Call Gregorian Chants 2012. Oh, and they have some sex.

At this point I must admit I have read it. Look, it was £2.49 on Kindle. I was raised on an adolescent diet of Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins- I can read trash. I’m not the only one to have read it, you judgers out there. As of last week it had overtaken Dan Brown in the big massive sales of toot worldwide categories.

I blame the Kindle for the sales. If no one can see the cover of your book, no one can see your shame. While it has brought ‘mummy-porn’ to the autoque of News At Ten, and openness regarding sexytimes can only be a good thing , there is one thing that people are not talking about - it is really, really badly written. My god, it is terrible.

Modern women are often juggling long working hours, and kids, and Tescos, and Weight Watchers, and wine, and feeling guilty about not going to the gym. Half of them don’t have the energy for sex, never mind nipping down to B&Q beforehand to prepare for it. Most women I know don’t have matching undies never mind bondage gear. Mr Lazycreative accused me of wearing matching underwear recently. I had to point out that although both pieces were black, they were far from matching.

Reading is a wonderful thing. So is sex. Both if which need to be good though. Now where’s my cable ties….

the start

Beating Jordan II- The Victory

So I did it.

I whipped that big-boobied bombshell by 9 whole minutes in this weekend’s London Marathon. I probably could have knocked a few more off it if I hadn’t stopped for the loo a couple of times, or been a taller, fitter version of my little self, but who cares. I did it.

Running a marathon is no joke. Wandering round the start line  in the sun, smiling, pointing at the mental fancy dress costumes, standing line in the longest best-natured queue for the loos I’ve ever witnessed. Those bits are wonderful. Strangers cheering you on, running past dancers and jazz bands and drunks and drum-n-bass, hi-fiving hundreds of kids and taking sweets from strangers. All joyous. The sense of achievement and pride- priceless.

The rest is not.

What isn’t all glowing light and majesty is the pain. My god is there pain. Places hurt that you don’t believe even have a biological name. And my god is it far. To cap it all off, once you cross that finish line in celebration and victory and clutch your medal triumphantly, you are handed a goodie bag which weighs 3 stone. Cheers.

But I did it.

According to a survey commissioned by mental health charity MIND published the following day however, it is a shock I managed it all.  They found so many women fear exercising during the hours of daylight, putting themselves through torturous early morning alarm calls and dangerous late night pavement pounding not because of vampiristic tendencies, but the fear of ‘being seen’.

They also (shock horror) found

  • 2 out of 3 feel conscious about their body shape when they exercise in public
  • Many doubt their own ability compared to others; 65% think it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep up in an exercise group and almost a half feel they will look silly in front of others as a result of being uncoordinated
  • 60% are nervous about how their body reacts to exercise – their wobbly bits, sweating, passing wind or going red
  • 2/3 feel that if they joined an exercise group, other women would be unwelcoming and cliquey, with only 6% feeling they would be very likely to make new friends

No shit.

Well zip up your man suit ladies (and gents too), as this doesn’t have to be the case. Not all activity is competition.

Life is filled with competition. Sometimes they are competitions you aren’t going to win, like  going up against Meryl Streep’s Maggie at the BAFTAS, or yer wan who is standing for Mayor of London against Livingstone and the blonde one, but there are plenty more that you are. The people  in your gym class or running down your street aren’t the competition, they are the inspiration. I used to sit behind a lady at spin whose beautiful bum was like two eggs in a hanky. It didn’t put me off, it spurred me on. I pedaled like bejesus the mornings I was behind that fine specimen.

As for unwelcoming classes, what a load of toot. Everyone else is there for the same reason as you- that they caught sight of their tummy while reaching for the Chardonnay. They don’t care why you are there. There is a special kind of bonding that comes with sharing not only your sweat, but the secret tears of laughter at the freaky Zumba teacher pretending that what she is doing is actually an exercise ‘thing’ and is not just sex moves in front of a mirror.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a natural fitness bunny. I love sofas and booze, and greasy food delivered to my door. 9 out of 10 women aged over 30 battle body-confidence and low self-esteem when considering outdoor exercise, and I am one of them. But I fought it, and if I can anyone can. And while the London Marathon is not a competition, I did beat Jordan.

the joy of the finish line

Beating Jordan (not with a stick)

It’s official- my new athletic inspiration is Katie Price. I don’t intend to tango myself up and my baps, while ample, are nowhere near her standard, but she is my Jessica Ennis. It’s  just over a  week to the London Marathon. A girl’s gotta take inspiration where she can. I HAVE to beat Jordan.

And I will.

I never thought I’d be a runner, but now the stupid thing has taken over my life. I pour over running chat rooms, I buy magazines, I bore people rigid talking about it. I browse shoes based on comfort, not on the fact Kurt Cobain blew his brains out wearing them (Converse One Stars in case anyone is interested). Oh yeah, and I run. Not fast or stylishly, but I do do it.

While the peachy-hot-pant bum of my dreams has not materialised over the training period, I have learnt a lot.

Firstly, I am not J-Lo, and running to her funky latin beats is more likely to give me a heart attack than a PB. Also, listening to the theme from Rocky does not make hills any easier. You are more likely to do better if you are listening to stuff you like. Stuff the BPM and stick on a bit of some ole dreary indie. Your heart will thank you.

Secondly, lycra is your friend. Before starting running, I would see all shapes and sizes shoved into lycra and marvelled at their obvious sense of delusion. I was the one who was deluded. Lyrca rocks. Not only is it comfy, but it ties my thighs together, stopping them blowing in the wind, providing aerodynamics Audi would be proud of.

While a shiny lycra-fueled trouser may fill you with joy, the same cannot be said of sports bras. If you are blessed with anything larger than a tangerine you know you are going to go into a shop to be robbed and leave with something that would not look out of place in a war-time lingerie advert.

During my obssession I have also discovered there is a spiritual side to running…(ahem). There are those devottees out there who think that it’s like some chi shit, to create harmony and integration of body, mind , and spirit…in motion. That you can learn how to build your runs from the inside out, clear in the mind, steady in the heart, strong in the spirit. That sounds marvellous. I would totally buy in if I could just switch off my own mental wheels, like before metrosexuality, did men suffer chapped lips in agonised silence, coveting the lipsalve of their ladyfolk? Why did David Beckham put his hair in corn-rows? Would it be more or less of a health and safety issue for the council to cover the roots determined to break my ankle on Massey Avenue with more tarmac creating massively high kerbs?

While this does not sound like normal mediative thoughts, taking my crazy to the streets has been a wonderful thing. No more gym bunny action for me. No more ‘pretending’ to ski beside some bored-looking housewife watching a mute Phillip Schofield or E-ed up yoof tv presenter. I’m keeping it real, in an outdoors stylee.

What else has been wonderful has been the overwhelming support of all my friends. You guys have been incredible.  Thank you all.

It would almost bring me to tears. And it will, when I beat Jordan.

all that glitters can sometimes be plastic

As one door closes

Work, like love, is a many splendored thing, and sometimes as one door closes another opens. Behind that door may be untold joy. Behind that door may be a whole day of specialised focus training, starting with those immortal words…..firstly lets split us all into groups. Not untold joy.

It was through this door I found myself this week, opening into a hot training room at the London HQ of Corporate Toot LLP. The theme was Customer Service Olympics, and if there was an olympic event in sighing and eye rolling, the assembled crowd would definitely be in the finals.

The day started off as is customary in these situations with an introduction from the trainer, who skillfully managed to be at the same time manically enthusiastic yet dead behind the eyes. How can light not radiate from your face when you know you have successfully managed to hypnotise a huge firm into paying your company (Money For Old Rope Ltd) shed loads of cash for absolutely no work or specialised knowledge? I would be glowing like a beacon. Especially as the start-up costs for such a venture seem relatively small. By the looks of things all you need are some string, a packet of felt tips, a couple of hard-boiled eggs and balls of steel, most of which are readily available in Poundland.

The day’s activities of ‘learning through fun’ began with each group making a Power Point about how great work is, an oxymoron if ever there was one. We had a quiz where I learnt that the London office used 12,496 rolls of toilet tissue in January. Who cares. We made a sandwich pretending to be blind and handless, which is vital in an administrative function. There  followed more such developmental tasks such as completing a jigsaw of the smiling faces of our bosses, wrapping an egg up in all manner of stationary and a three-legged race in a small room, where each team had 5 people tied together with what can only be described as razor wire. My ankles looked like I’d been at  bondage convention. Another girl had her skirt ripped right to her undergarments. Obviously all things ripe for embellishing a CV.

Following each event we were all invited to give feedback on how we thought the activity had gone. Sadly no one told the truth, which was that the whole thing was a pointless pile of toot, and through this neglect the trainer’s power only grew stronger. It was like the warnings from The Brother’s Grimm had been purely for the good of their health.

With this mighty strength (following a buffet lunch which drained our powers even more), she unveiled the final task- run round the building, find rubbish, make musical instruments out of them, and then compose an opus as to how wonderful Corporate Toot LLP was. Sweet Jesus. Luckily due to having to fly home to the wee island, I escaped the actual performance. I fear my soul may never have recovered.

What this whole day discovered was people have different internal views of themselves than others do, that people work better with one leader rather than many, and people change their personalities depending on time and circumstance. Groundbreaking. That’ll be 20 grand please.

Where was the Health and Safety freaks when you needed them to put a stop to this madness? The best bit of the day was looking at the graffiti from the windows of the Stanstead Express.  That and browsing at the felt-tips at the airport.

all that glitters can sometimes be plastic

Gutties..the tools of the trade

Waynetta Slob to Paula Radcliffe – The Journey Continues…

So. It is 14 weeks to the London Marathon, and the training is in full effect, by which I mean the beautiful multi-coloured plan is on the kitchen wall. Unfortunately the progress I had hoped to make by this point has not happened.

I have not transformed into a lithe-legged, hot-pant wearing fox. I do not gallop the streets with ease, breath coming calm and easy. If I see another runner coming towards me, I do not smile and greet them, but instead tell myself not to collapse until I am past them. I don’t have the breath to say hello. When I get back to the house I do not feel revived and glowing, I feel punctured with a full on sweat-tap beetroot face.

But I do run.

At Christmas the Bank of Husband bought me a running watch to ‘help’ my training. It is certainly helping if the aim was to do weight training while I run. It is massive. It may be  all singing and dancing, but its like those watches from the 80′s with a calculator on them. It is the actual size of a calculator sellotaped to your wrist, and the sums it does are how rubbish your speed is divided by how little distance you have covered equals shame and disappointment. Then again, guilt can be a great motivator as centuries of the Catholic Church can attest, and it has made me run further…

So now along with my trusty calculator watch, the new year has seen me  embark with renewed vigour on the training malarkey in my usual manner- by having a good read, in this case ‘The Complete Book of Running For Women’ by Claire Kowalchik.

So far I have discovered a wealth of really, really useful information, such as if you lift one foot off the ground before the other foot has landed, then you are a runner. Holy shit, if only I had realised this earlier, I’d be a size 8 and capable of running the 4 minute mile! Claire also suggests that you can run for years and not enjoy it, every time a struggle, which is equally empowering. Also, if going out for a run in the dark after work is not miserable enough, she has a whole section on how not to get attacked by scary rapists by not listening to music, but then goes on to say later that listening to music may improve your running. Tell you what, I’ll keep my Ricky Martin on repeat, as if a scary rapist starts coming after me, I’m sure I will find never before heard of reserves and fly like the wind!

If this is what it takes to write a running book, I might knock one off myself after the marathon, as there is obviously gold in them there hills. At one point I even considered reading World record-breaking triathlete and Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington’s book. Obviously I felt a connection with her as she didn’t go pro until she was thirty (ok, ahem, I’m not thirty, but denial is a joy), but then I read an interview with her in The Guardian at the weekend. While discussing how to remain motivated, she says things such as ‘boredom can set in quickly’ and “You kind of enjoy the pain and discomfort from working hard but it’s not the most interesting,”. Apparently a good skill to develop is to be able to “endure that monotony”. What a wonderful optimistic cheery-bake!

As obviously the literature is not going to inspire me, I think I’ll turn to my old favourite motivator- Field Of Dreams. OK, I’m not a one dimensional actor building a baseball field for ghosts, I’m a short arse running a marathon, but I have the place, and I WILL run it.

If you would like to support me, which would be greatly appreciated, you’ve no idea, please visit

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/weejulesrunsthemarathon

rocket

If hunger is not the problem, then food is not the answer and other resolutions

Happy new year! HAppy new year..Happy NEW year..flip, I’m bored of it already.

As if the stress of Christmas isn’t enough, you have to start a whole new year as well. The moment the last James Bond has got his bit of skirt into bed, and the credits roll, the guilt advert bombardment begins..

Firstly you have to get a quick loan through to get you to payday from 1-Million-Percent-Loans-For-You. Then you need to consolidate your loans. Then you should flog all your presents to Cash Converters, but all this may be to no avail, as you don’t know what your credit rating is, and someone may have stolen your identity after you bought a hamper online. AND the hamper was rubbish.

So while you sit on your sofa worrying about all these things, the tv then tells you that your sofa is beyond awful, and that you need to get to an out-of-town centre quick and get a new one at really unbelievably cheap prices which will guarantee all manner of frolicking. The stress would drive you to smoke, but you can’t do that either, as your arms are pinned to your sides with patches, and giant fags will follow you everywhere screaming obscenities…while your friends smoke away happily, having all the craic outside. The bastards.

The worst tv guilt however comes from the fat fighters. Everywhere you look a new diet is being forced down your throat. Even Weightwatchers have a ‘new’ one, which is basically the same as the old one, but with one less chocolate digestive a day. The wankiest (technical term for nutritional plans) was in the Sunday Time Style magazine last weekend.

It suggests you use your store cupboard ingredients such as furikake seasoning, cacao nibs, chia seeds and Golden Elixir. The Marmite, baking powder and indiscriminate flour which are in mine are obviously just not cutting it. They also suggest eating your ‘iLunch’ and ‘iDinner’ where your bit of salmon is as big as your phone. What a load of ole toot.

I say it’s time to regress. Spend long periods just chilling with your mates, not an hour where you are busy keeping junior’s fingers out of sharp stuff. Listen to tunes-they are free, you have no excuse. Spotify your heart out. Drink a pint rather than a bottle as its cheaper, healthier as you need strength and balance to hold it and good for time economy as it gets you drunk quicker.

Oh yeah, and don’t eat goji berries.