The Best Beauty Advice You’ll Ever Get

Beauty is indefinable. Some people find moustaches undeniably sexy and others believe that bald heads really will keep them warm at night. Regardless of how blasphemous it is to perm your hair in the 21st century, it’s whatever sets your love buds tingling.

The problem is that everyone seems to be looking for the latest ‘beauty tips’. They buy Heat magazine in the hope that Kim Kardashian has laid her DNA all over it ready for them to ingest or they crack eggs over their hair because some prankster on Google tells them it’s healthy. But this, right here, will lay bare the real ‘beauty tips’ for one and all to orgasm over on a Saturday evening.

Hair. Everyone has it scattered across their bodies in great, jumper-like thickness but most tend to whip it off quicker than you can say Pussy Galore. Whether it’s under your armpits or under your bellybutton, allow nature to take its course until its protruding through your clothes. At least then, you will have an extra layer for when the winter truly takes charge.

Make up. When used correctly, it can transform you from Ann Widdecombe to Kate Moss but when it’s not, hello Pete Burns. There is nothing attractive about pouring foundation over your face until it becomes Niagara Falls. Mascara is a nice subtle friend to us; do not use it to make your eyelashes look like long, thin spider legs. If you decide that lipstick is the way forward, be sure to stay within the lines. Practise using paint-by-numbers if you struggle to do so.

Skin. We have bad patches and imperfections but scrubbing your face with muesli isn’t appropriate. Forget buying mud masks, why not nip out into your garden after a fresh storm and face-plant into the soaked soil. You will save endless pounds and eventually come to realise that it makes you look more like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre than ‘ten years younger’.

Clothes. I have a phobia of suits with trainers. Don’t do it; it wasn’t cool in the eighties and it’s almost illegal now. Kitten-heeled shoes are forbidden and if you still decide to wear them, you belong in Back to the Future and should be locked in that terrible franchise forever. Sunglasses inside are not even awful, they’re just idiotic so don’t be like Kanye West all your life and put them away. Deciding on a white shirt out? Superb but don’t wear a black bra and think we all want to see two bobbling nipples darting through the transparency.

You. As long as you don’t believe in nasal hair and cropped tops in January, you don’t need all these endless beauty regimes that take up more of your time than an X Factor finale. Your eyebrows are fine, crayons are best left for the colouring book, and no doubt your eyes are already dazzling. Let’s forget about face contouring like we’re suddenly part of Mount Rushmore and focus on what really is beautiful in life – watching footballers run around in slow motion.


Men Are Not What We Ordered On The Menu

Men are not the enemy; they’re just not what we ordered on the menu. Some we would bow down to whilst dribbling like pubescent teenagers. Others wear cardigans.

It’s understandable that the world would need the male species. Without them, the exceptionally thrilling sporting giants that are cricket and darts would be extinct and would therefore prevent us from living. No one would pose with a one hooped earring and end up looking like a mid-eighties George Michael. There would be no drunken brawls at Yates for us to film, put on YouTube and become internet sensations from. The globe, quite literally, would be at a standstill.

Women fail to see all these fascinating reasons for the existence of men. They can’t see the point in Spiderman when he’s clearly not a spider and the erection men have over HP sauce. They’re hurt by the obsession with Fifa; watching men run around on the pitch in slow motion was meant to be their personal enjoyment of the game. They’re bored of watching repeats of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air however much they fantasise about the lean, mean, comedy machine that is Will-hump-me-all-night-Smith.

The female species see only the bad in these Inbetweener-like creations. They sob over nostril-heaving underwear sat an inch away from the wash bin. They watch his every move on Facebook in case he ‘likes’ a woman’s Kim Kardashian-style selfie. They will waste their life away dissecting a text that ends with an ‘x’ and whether that is a secret marriage proposal with a hint of we’re-going-to-have-babies-tomorrow.

I must confess that I am one of these women. We just can’t understand them. Men confuse us more than Chris Martin being voted sexiest man of the year. Our well-developed, can-cook-more-than-beans-on-toast brains can’t function. It’s like the moment you found out in Maths that Pi wasn’t the kind that Jason Biggs became famous for; complete shock horror.

Women are simple. We like to cry about pandas, talk to inanimate objects and apply mascara with our mouths open. There’s nothing wrong or remotely illegal about spending time to cleanse ourselves in a shower after touching your beard or wanting to settle down to a guilt-free episode of The Only Way is Essex on an intellectual Wednesday evening. Kissing is a must unless your lips are drier than the Sahara desert and holding hands will gain you brownie points when we later decide if we’re ‘tired’ or not. Just remember, a hot dog without the bun isn’t fun for you either.

Women want Johnny Depp shipping them off to some dark and dangerous place in the Caribbean but end up with a caravan in Southend-on-Sea. Men want Jennifer Lopez in a maid’s costume in Manhattan but end up with their wife in a giraffe onesie in Hackney Central. We need to find a common ground where both sexes can accept each other even if they do the forbidden and wear flip flops. Let’s all agree, man and woman alike, to do the one thing that we both love doing – putting Hula Hoops on our fingers and pretending we’re married.

The Job Hunting Joke

Job hunting is like being part of ‘You’ve Been Framed’. Every time you click ‘apply’, you expect Jeremy Beadle to pop out of the nineties with a camera crew full of men with mullets and unacceptable beards. You search online for hours stopping only to weep into a Kleenex at the prospect of working in Subway and gorging on the meatball Sub every day. Whilst Googling, you realise that you have more chance of discovering Narnia than you do of finding a job.

The holy grail of job hunting lies with the array of ‘job sites’ that want to know your entire life story; name, address and number of sexual partners. Some then redirect you to other sites that request registration so you spend the next decade of your already sad baked-beans-from-a-tin life bowing down to the computer screen. After detailing school grades, degrees and ‘extra-curricular activities’ which always seems to make me blush, you’re asked to ‘log in as a human’. Now I can understand why I never hear anything back; I forgot to log in as a Smurf.

These sites then ask you to type in your ‘key word’; this is the most pointless thing since Wayne Rooney’s balding hair transplant. I’ll type in ‘writer’ to which they’ll list ‘mechanic’ as the best suited. We have to rejoice at how far we have come with technology.
The next issue is that they promise thousands of vacancies within a three mile radius and then present you with an opening in Kuwait. You ponder your options but eventually decide that the commute from Shepherd’s Bush really would be too far.

Once you find an extraordinary opportunity that details everything you’re good at, you start to flap around like Mr Bean on Christmas day. You don’t care if Jeremy Beadle is secretly filming you because after all the pain and heartache, your dream job has arrived. It’s staring at you as you salivate from the vision of mansions, BMWs and Dominos on tap. It’s only after you’ve phoned your husband, put up a status on Facebook and tweeted to every Tom, Dick and Harry down the lane that you realise it’s UNPAID. I’m sure we could all live happily in a rent-free cardboard box.

After the breakdowns have finished and your laptop has survived being thrown about and screamed at, you apply to some jobs that do not include flying across the Bermuda Triangle. They include a salary that will allow for pot noodles and all the good things in life so you can finally sleep easy at night. This is short-lived as the impersonal email arrives with the line ‘We regret to inform you…’; I’m sure we’d like to regretfully inform them of a few things.

The next time I’m job hunting, my Curriculum Vitae will talk of the Eurovision song contest, bouncy castles and my hatred of Tottenham football club. At least then I will know if they ever truly look at the CV’s. When I undoubtedly get an interview from this, I’ll be ready with my Papa Smurf outfit, a pre-paid ticket to St Kitts and Nevis and a purse full of Monopoly money.

New Year, Old News

2015 has arrived in the usual unexciting, mundane New Year’s kind of way. January offers little and takes a lot; we get a new series of Celebrity Big Brother’s human hamster cage in exchange for giving up Cadbury’s chocolate and bad men or Cadbury’s chocolate on bad men depending on your taste buds.

In the dying months leading up to a new year we indulge in alcohol, yule logs and Bruce Forsyth’s ghostly face only just visible on the latest Strictly Come Walking. We allow ourselves to parade around in reindeer onesies with wine-stained teeth safe in the knowledge that next year, we could run for the president of the United States of America.

In December, we decide to make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It takes a while to start writing as our E.T looking hands fiddle with a pen that we haven’t held since 1997 until we get into the rhythm of writing. Optimism begins to flow as we imagine marital bliss on the beaches of Mexico having secretly eloped with a bigamist George Clooney. We see our dreams coming true because a new year allows for change and we can morph ourselves into anything; we could wake with Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

Most people opt for the obvious; dieting or sucking on anything other than cigarettes. Others decide it is time to throw caution to the wind and do obscene, nearly-time-to-be-sectioned kind of things like botox and growing moustaches. Just remember that we have to be realistic when deciding; Madonna’s armpit hair was grown for artistic purposes and should never be imitated as part of our New Year feminist empowerment.

With the lists ready and January coming to unpack a hamper full of success and orgasms, we wait patiently until it begins. We cram in any last minute gorging of cheesecake and One Direction because after, we shall no longer be these sad, depressing, I-heart-Harry kinds of people.

All of last year’s disappointments are left behind as we try to forget exes, the World Cup and the continued existence of Kanye West. We can disregard the momentary joy we felt that Take That might finally be breaking up and the chance that X Factor would fall further than Louis Walsh’s reputation as a talent spotter. 2014 is long gone and we no longer have time for it.

So here she is one and all. Her majesty, January, with nothing but rain keeping you wet when you would rather it came from elsewhere. We’re only a week or so in and we could still marry Prince Harry, travel to Jamaica on a banana boat and befriend King Kong but maybe one less tube of Pringles on our hips may be a slightly more realistic prospect.

The Best First Date Advice You’ll Ever Get

First dates are like losing your virginity; painful and awkward. Forget the rules Sex and the City taught you – happy hour cocktails are out and an influx of what the ‘urban’ kids call ‘banter’ is in.

The issue is that most people find a date on Tinder. This dating platform is where you ‘swipe right’ if someone looks remotely like a human or ‘swipe left’ if they’re deemed below par. It sounds simple enough until you’re interrogated by the Karma Sutra police about your ‘experiences’. Ignore these nymphomaniacs immediately and stop posting pictures of yourself delicately nibbling a banana.

Once you have arranged the date, be sure to prepare yourself mentally. The person you believe to be ‘Robert Daley’ is probably ‘Ken Bridge’ who likes to collect toy soldiers and watch Countryfile. Any photograph that has been ‘cropped’ or distorted in any way means they are either acne-ridden, twenty years older or are simply Frankenstein’s brother.

More importantly, have a plan in place if you’re stood up otherwise you will be left with nothing more than a peanut-sized ego. Just think of it this way – either they turned up, saw you and left or they couldn’t prise themselves away from the Vaseline pot.

When the first date arrives wear appropriate attire; clothes are a good suggestion. Meet in a place that is bustling with people so you can run away if a monobrow replaces the man you were meant to be meeting or if he turns up wearing socks with sandals. Greet him with a polite smile and silently judge his entire existence.

There is nothing worse than going on a first date to a restaurant so most people generally decide to go to a restaurant. Always say no to a curry house; spicy foods and a nervous stomach is the perfect combination for an hour in the lavatories.

With the two of you sat opposite each other at the table, you can determine if the person in front of you looks like a married father of four or if he’s a suitable match for the rest of your life. If you’re sat across from someone who is sporting double denim, enjoy a slurp-fest of a dinner because you can’t possibly take that bad boy home for ‘coffee’. If the heavens have blessed you and Ben Affleck’s lookalike shows up, stop drooling before it stains your dress and get your act together.

Discuss anything other than what your ‘type’ is; if he has nasal hair sitting on his top lip, he knows he’s not your type. Forget mentioning exes or what horrendous heartbreaks you have powerfully overcome; it’s boring and no one cares. This is your ‘swipe right’ match so find out more about each other; preferably if he’s a Dexter-style serial killer or a completely normal person.

After the date, say your goodbyes and keep your lips to yourself. Remember all those scary news reports you’ve been reading lately about Ebola; no sharing bodily fluids until the new year. Take yourself home and shower the date away with some strong disinfectant. If you had a good time, you can feel optimistic about the prospect of further dates, a wedding and eventually marital flatulence. If not, you got out of a night in front of Eastenders crying into a bucket of KFC hot wings. After all, just because he’s your ‘swipe right’ it doesn’t mean he’s your Mr Right.

Broken Homes, Broken Record

I’ve never met my Dad. He’s out there somewhere in this world not knowing my name, my age or my number. He doesn’t care and neither do I and that’s the harsh reality of it. Some men were born with the physical inability to grow a pair of at least average-sized testicles and feel paternal love. Some men give it in abundance.

I am not filled with hate or a sense of rejection. I am not waiting one day for a love-filled reunion where he can shower me in birthday presents, Christmas presents, graduation presents and I-wanted-you-aborted presents. In my head, I see a man that my imagination has allowed to grow as years have passed and the only constant is the disappointment in his eyes at having to look at the sperm he unleashed twenty one years ago.

There are some people who are either full of good faith or possibly suffer from our long term friend naivety that claim being a parent is just as hard as the presidency. They argue that to know your child’s first name is a step too far in the maturity level of manhood and that men simply have to perform a magic trick and disappear. I fear this is as true as going to the back of my wardrobe and stepping into a fairy tale land of Narnia.

Growing up, it was never a deep dark secret as to why the man that forgot to use a condom one day wasn’t there to play against the other fathers on sports day. It was out in the open like some sort of infectious disease that other dads could catch, become ill with and eventually abandon all involvement with their own children. I was told, in very simplistic terms so my four year old mind could understand them, that he ‘just didn’t want you.’ But to me, it didn’t matter because I had Bananas in Pyjamas on video and those trusty old friends always wanted me.

When you reach a certain age, you realise you’re part of something bigger like a revolution of the half-parented. There’s a school full of abandoned students daydreaming just that little bit longer in class. There’s a street full of children holding onto their mother’s hand just a little bit tighter. There’s a world full of people loving their partner just a little bit stronger.

You meet people and discover their broken-home status. You feel relieved that you’re not alone in knowing more about Leonardo Dicaprio than your own father. You don’t know his age or his hair colour or how his touch would feel. The relief is short-lived. There’s a look in people’s faces and it’s a look as though a part of them is lost somewhere in gravity and no force, no matter how strong or scientifically proven, can bring it back to them. This, however much it is denied, is unmistakable.

In most cases, children grow closer to the parent that chose to nurture them and who taught them that they weren’t going to die if they let go at the top of a really big slide. There tends to become an unbreakable bond that life, in all its many stages, cannot tarnish for that one love does conquer all.

For some of us, it doesn’t quite work out that way. The cracks were always there; no loving kisses goodnight or a hug before school. The years start to erode at the parental relationship until there is nothing but debris left and you wonder if there had ever been love at all. You wonder what having a mother would feel like and how there was such distance there that you may as well live in a foreign land. You try at length to build something, no Eiffel Tower of emotions but something that you could feel inside your chest when you couldn’t breathe. But sometimes, just sometimes, all is lost.

I think it’s a sad truth and statistic that broken homes are becoming more of a norm. If parents aren’t together but a child still knows the difference between Pat Butcher from Eastenders and who their mother is, life has pulled itself together. If not, us children that society tries to ignore or who they are slightly embarrassed of will be fine.

I read a quotation once in an English class back in secondary school and it is one that has stuck with me when delving into what my mind tells me not to – ‘smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.’ We are skilful and we are not alone, parents or no parents, we will know how it feels to be truly, heart-warmingly loved.

The Hopeless Hope of a Graduate

University consists of sex, drunken nakedness and wasted seminars. Sometimes, you learn things. Sometimes, you learn how to look like you’re learning things. You spend three years of your life in further education knowing how much you hated the previous fourteen years of schooling – tears, tantrums and thoughts of setting the labs on fire with that trusty old Bunsen burner. However, you go to university knowing it will all be different. There’s freedom everywhere. It’s dancing around in the air and seeping into your nostrils. It’s sat in your lungs as you breathe in and out the rules and rule breaking of living at home with your parents. You’re told university is the start of an amazingly successful career that will put you alongside Richard Branson and his England-sized jumbo jets. With this definite fact that will definitely happen no matter what, you live your adolescent life wondering what job will be waiting like gold at the end of a non-existent graduate rainbow. It’s best that I shatter that illusion with a Miley Cyrus-licking sledgehammer now rather than allow you all to wait until graduation day where a piece of paper offers you nothing but dismissal.

For a lot of people, you’re sort of pushed into going to university whether you want to or not. You don’t even stop to think about it or ponder anything else; university will be ‘the best days of your life’. This is a line we’ve been told since we were four years old, clasping a book bag in one hand and fiddling with three fallen teeth in the other – ‘school will be the best days of your life’ and now university has supposedly overtaken those best days and provided us with even better days. I can’t help but feel we’ve all been blanketed by a barrage of lies that is now suffocating us as we wallow in self-pity over the lack of job opportunities.

University definitely starts as one of those amazing experiences that you think is incomparable to anything other than multiple orgasms. You believe that the fact you can cook repulsively strong smelling boiled eggs at three thirty on a Monday morning is the epitome of perfection. You believe that bunking lectures whenever you choose an Eastenders omnibus over a Poetry morning is the start of a rebellion that will fundamentally change the world as we know it. Your beliefs are short-lived.

                In my first Creative Writing lecture, I got out my fresh notebooks and Parker pen and stared at the lecturer with beady eyes. In hindsight, we looked like a batch of farm hens waiting to be confined to years and years of constant pressure to produce goodness. But for that one moment, we sat with an abundance of optimism; brimming inside like a pubescent, hormonal mess.

                My lecturer began by introducing herself; a pleasant formality that kept me calm and awaiting her next words. What followed was unexpected; a crisp, honest, brutal admission that I should have listened to rather more closely – ‘The Creative Writing course will help you with your writing but offer you nothing more than that. This course will offer you zero jobs.’ Thank you for finally unwrapping that cotton wool.

After three years of giving up a few times, vowing to quit other times and eventually doing everything I was told and then some, I completed the course. There was a short wait until the results were released and finally I knew my gold was waiting somewhere and I only had to find it.

                Graduation followed with the rules of no hat throwing and no alcohol; it was as exciting as hovering in a public toilet to find there’s no tissue roll left. I found the whole experience vomit-inducing although the quiet, underlying feeling of success seemed to settle my dishevelled stomach. When you graduate, you have sober beer goggles. They work the same as beer goggles that find you grinding on a balding Asian man in Yates but you’re sober and quite frankly, just stupid. You see the world from a graduate point of view; endless money, endless opportunity, endless everything because you have five letters after your name – the elusive BA Hons.

                As time slowly starts to pass, you realise that eight episodes of Come Dine with me doesn’t quite constitute a well-paying job regardless of how many CV’s you’ve sent out. You start to understand how awful it would really be to become one of those middle-aged people wearing denim on denim that sit in the audience of Loose Women as opposed to at an office desk with a deadline.

                After you pick up more hours at your current retail job, clock-watching and talking to inanimate objects like broken hangers and tills that refuse to open; you wonder what the point was. Three years of your life seemingly wasted when you could have been earning for your future or gaining that much-respected ‘experience’ that companies drone on about as though it’s as wonderful as Viagra. No matter how you decorate your CV with endless ‘graduate talk’, nothing works. No one cares that you spent twenty one hours straight putting together a portfolio of writing only to spill your coffee over it mid-consciousness. No one cares that you’re in twenty thousand plus worth of debt and a bank balance that screams through the cashpoint at you with three zeros. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to write an honest covering letter telling ‘future employers’ that I’m struggling with rent bills in an over-priced studio flat in Shepherd’s Bush because it was the only place I found with a flushing toilet and distinct lack of damp.  But somehow that takes away that graduate dream we all once shared; that luminous beacon of light that we somehow thought we were following.

The truth is you get a degree so that you don’t have to do a job that everyone can do; you get a degree to become more than the ‘average’. Companies write that the candidate needs experience but I ask you what is more relevant than life experience? After all, experience is the result of time and opportunity but a degree is the definition of skill and dedication.

Six months has passed since I graduated with my fellow writers and I can give you a crisp, honest, brutal admission now; not one of us has a graduate job. This isn’t through laziness or lack of trying; this is the state of England’s job market and small mindedness. The only thing that we can all hope for (undergraduates and graduates alike) is change. Let that be the beacon of light for you to follow.