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.

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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.

I Saw My Neighbour Naked

I saw my neighbour naked. There were nipples bobbling, a free fall of pubic hair and a hint of a vaginal lip. I didn’t know whether to scream, faint or declare myself blind forever. All I did know was that I had seen a forbidden forest and things were never going to be the same again.

My neighbours have always been an acquired taste. They’re the type to knock on your door just to say ‘hi’ which I’m sure hasn’t been legal since the 1960’s. They like to leave jigsaws by the front door in case anyone is feeling, in their words, ‘adventurous’. It’s as adventurous as discovering a verruca. They like to put the post in alphabetical order for all those that, I can only assume, can’t read their own name.

One such neighbour that lives directly below likes to announce what he’s eating as he’s eating it. I always get slightly concerned when the word ‘fish’ is screamed. Next to him lives a couple that seem to be able to set the fire alarm off using only two slices of bread and a piece of ham. At the bottom of the stairs are a group of souls that regard themselves as ‘hippies’ which I’m sure is a more politically correct term for having a gang bang. On ground floor, there’s a man that seems to dial an 0800 number for all those lonely nights and next to him is a woman that is more Sweeney Todd than Nigella Lawson in the cooking department. The house smells like dead people.

This is all part of living in a block of flats in an area where foxes are allowed to sit on your doorstep whilst your neighbours strum a guitar singing Kumbaya.

I, too, have my faults. I like to play Westlife at a night time to remember the glory days of the nineties. I can also hold my hands up and admit that I have cooked a fried egg or two at an inappropriate time on a Saturday morning however, no one has been scarred by the sight of my au naturel under parts.

I always knew she was one of those ‘open’ women who shared their deepest darkest secrets with the entire population from the moment she moved in.

“I just love watching Countryfile.” She said on introduction. I bowed my head in embarrassment, had she no shame?

After this came the washing machine incident. My clothes were in the middle of their weekly spin, enjoying themselves no doubt, when they were stopped by her. She wanted to know what was in the washing machine. It doesn’t exactly take a trip from the phantom of Einstein to reveal what was in the machine but she had to be sure. When I came down to see her fondling my sopping underwear, it became one of those socially awkward situations where there was nothing to say but ‘erm’.

“Lovely bras.” She said, smiling with her I’m-a-pervert style lips.

This could only mean one thing, she was either simply commenting on my fantastic taste in women’s lingerie or she was having a jolly old time with my smalls.

I decided to let that slide. After all, she hadn’t done the worst thing in the world and stolen my two pounds out of the machine door. But then came that fateful Sunday evening.

All was well in the house. I was enjoying a repeat of Golden Balls and everything was just as appropriate as a church sermon…until the screaming began. It was a high pitched scream as though she was in pain but enjoying the rollercoaster of life at the same time. I pondered whether to ensure her safety from what could possibly be an attack from the jigsaw maniac or ignore the rude interruption of my programme. Suddenly, without a thought for my own wellbeing, I hurtled across to her flat with my dressing gown floating in the distance. This was finally the moment that I could be a caped hero. What greeted me next was only for Hugh Hefner’s imagination. I saw things that fully grown men would weep at having come face to face with and I, for one, was ready to weep. As I squinted my eyes and slowly walked backwards, some Golden Balls that didn’t quite match what was on my television appeared.

After that, I remember nothing. It’s like a sordid cloud of smoky perversion sent me into a coma. When I woke, I knew I never wanted to see nipples darting towards me ever again. I knew I never wanted to help a neighbour in need ever again. But mostly, I knew I would never trust someone that liked Countryfile for as long as I live.

Football is all Cock and Balls

Men know nothing about football. They think they are the superior gender who know and understand all in the world of the Premiership. Unfortunately, this is a lie that they’ve conjured up together in some ‘girls are not allowed because they have vaginas’ meeting to ensure they have full ownership over the sport.

They believe that women know nothing about football. How could women possibly have any understanding of a ball and the back of a net? It’s as obscene as the idea of Djourou being an ex-Arsenal defender. However, I’m here to prove that we’re not all moaning at you to switch off Sky Sports One on a weekend; we’re moaning at you to hurry up and switch it on.

I’m an Arsenal fan and I have been since I was a ten year old shouting at the computer screen playing Championship Manager. Jumping up and down waiting for Aliadiere to score was all part of the fun although the waiting felt as long as it took Scholes to hang up his ginger boots and retire. It was at this age that I took my first trip to North London’s answer to Buckingham Palace, Highbury, where I met old Arsenal legends and where my love of the all-cock-and-balls- game began.

The issue is as soon as a male football fan hears a woman likes football, they have an image of what that woman is like. She must be the ‘sporty’ kind, the kind that prefers Bridget Jones’ style underwear to a lacy G-string and who would rather scoff a hot dog than delicately eat a salad. This is not the case. I’m a ‘girly girl’ who would never go to a match without a full face of make-up and a perfect hair-do but it doesn’t stop me from screaming ‘stand up if you hate Tottenham’ so loudly I almost lose my voice halfway through the game.

Some will accept that women go to matches but they’re going to ‘impress’ a man. This is a sad reality. I know a lot of women who make out they know everything about football in the hope that a man will be on bended knee hours later. They say things like ‘United won on Saturday’; no dear, it was Manchester City, there is a difference. Maybe it’s their inexcusable behaviour that leads men to cast us with the same you-don’t-know-who-Gerrard-is brush although I’m not into discussing Liverpool midfielders.

Others try to test us. They accept that we are football fans so they try to get us to take a nose-dive like an embarrassing Didier Drogba through some mastermind-style questions. They ask us to name as many football clubs as possible. My answer is ‘get real’. A chuckle ensues as they think of something ‘difficult’ to ask someone with breasts.

“Name five Arsenal players.”

I’ll name the entire squad; even the ones we’d like to forget like the lanky, goal-less Yaya Sanogo. I’m not including the Emirates Cup in this statement because it amounted to nothing much like Torres’ move to Chelsea.

“Name five England internationals.”

I’ll name the entire pointless squad called up for the World Cup 2014 although is there really any point in embarrassing Englishmen all over again?

It’s basic information. Women who are football fans know the years their team won the FA Cup, they know Bergkamp’s best goals, they know the rivalry between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane, they know that Wenger and Ferguson actually got on; they know just as much as your beer-swigging self. They could list the Champion’s League group draws for 2014, who scored the 1966 World Cup winning goal and how bad Rob Green is at international goalkeeping. It’s about time you swallowed your pride like Bendtner had to when he finally realised he couldn’t be classified as a ‘striker’ and allow us women to teach you a thing or two – maybe the offside rule?

(I know that most men really don’t feel this way; it’s all written tongue in cheek!)

Marital Flatulence Saved My Life

I nearly died on the London Underground. Forget ‘don’t cross the yellow line’, I had my near-fatal experience once I’d stepped onto the train and hugged the safety that I thought had surrounded me.

It was the morning rush hour; prime time maniac mode for all those rushing to work with their flies undone. I should have known better than to risk everything for a trip to Krispy Kreme’s but I didn’t know what awaited me. I took a seat next to the door and settled down to a competitive game of Candy Crush thinking that I could get to the next level before someone sat on my lap. Unfortunately, a heavily ‘curvaceous’ woman decided it would be a treat to place half of her cellulite-ridden body parts onto my hip and half onto the buckling chair beside me. I wanted to scream out in pain and manoeuvre the sagging skin so it was no longer swallowing my bone structure but the looks from the I-have-an-office-job suit and ties in the corner silenced me.

I remained static; partially warmed by her body heat and partially cold as the blood drained from my body. As the train halted and opened its doors to that fateful passenger, I was concentrating on getting the conker to the bottom of the Candy Crush bucket. Forget the nineties; this really was on par with the menacing shapes of Tetris.

            Other people barely acknowledged his existence; he was just another contributor to the increasing stench of body odour that filled the carriage. He was middle-aged in a way that said he would be thankful for any female attention regardless of explosive acne or similar Adam’s apple styled necks. I looked at him for a few seconds purely so I knew he wouldn’t be able to see through my shirt with that predator-like x-ray vision.

It took five or so minutes for him to unleash it. It was a moment of panic for us all as we threw our heads back in horror and winced. We were wide-eyed and gasping for breath as though intoxicated by the fumes. I was willing for someone to pull the emergency lever just so I could escape and feed clean air into my system again. The oxygen was scarce and flooded with a vomit inducing quality that made me fixate on this dire excuse for a human being. He had a bewildered look on his face as though he’d been caught with an erection by his mother and if I had been his mother, I would have been ashamed.

It was the largest onion Cornish pasty I’d ever seen. He was cramming it into his mouth so hard that it was falling in great lumps down his shirt and onto the floor. Children were screaming, parents were cradling them with sympathetic noses, elderly women were woken by the avalanche of crumbling pastry and I sat there knowing that soon enough, there would be no oxygen left. It was a full frontal fight until the end; a classic game of old school survival of the fittest and I wasn’t going down without my Krispy Kreme doughnut.

This was the only time in the entirety of my life that I have wished for nasal hair. I would have loved to fashion a jungle of thick pubic-like hairs dangling from my nose so I could somehow fend of the fatality-factor of the pasty before it entered my system. I looked over at the smug sixty-something man opposite. He knew he had an advantage; sniffing away and enjoying only the gentle swishing of his greying forest nostrils.

The train stopped in a tunnel and my life flashed before my eyes. It was all the times I had breathed in so freely without thinking my lungs were crying inside. I saw beautifully clean walks along the beach where my mouth was parted and I tasted nothing but the salt of the British sea. I almost forgot myself and tasted the chunks of onions sweating with grease that had sat halfway onto his tongue and halfway onto his bottom lip, embarrassed to be seen.

Eventually, the train dragged into my station. I leapt up from my seat as though Usain Bolt had morphed into my twenty one year old self and hidden his penis. When the doors opened, it was like a rebirth; fresh out of the womb smelling life again for the first time. I stumbled off with relief and a newfound respect for life. I could have died on that train and if it wasn’t for my ability to hold my breath when my husband casually let out wind, I wouldn’t have made it through the ordeal. God bless marital flatulence.

 

 

A Couple of Married Twenty One Year Old’s

I’m twenty one and married to him. He’s twenty one and married to me. Before the inevitable flurry of ‘aren’t you too young?’ questions, I haven’t done a Kim Kardashian and married a gangster for a vagina-waving video that will be leaked to ensure my future millions. I am in love with a beautiful man and age is irrelevant.

At eighteen, we fell in love. At twenty, we got engaged. At twenty one, we said I do. Admittedly, I have never felt twenty one. Twenty one is meant to be the moment where you feel brave enough to try that forward roll that you couldn’t quite master back in PE lessons. It’s a time where you can wear a jumpsuit without walking around worrying about the camel attached to you. It’s being brave at its most envious. If asked what I’d choose as my mental age, I fear I’d be closer to the pensioner than to my twenty-one-year-old-skinny-dipping-in-a-mould-induced-pond-for-the-sake-of-it friends. So in that respect, I am somewhat of a cougar marrying this delicious twenty one year old toyboy.

The reality of it is that we’ve come up against a wall of negativity as though we’re claiming to be the next BNP leaders once we’re married. At one point, a Robin Hood style ambush nearly pushed us to elope somewhere in the Caribbean and skinny dip in those waters instead. But we didn’t. We made a choice to take life and love into, as our good old friend the cliché says, our hands. We decided that a small gathering at a pleasant registry office with five or six people would suffice for a long enough bedtime story for the future grandchildren.

When the day arrived, it wasn’t all fields of gold with Kool and the Gang giving some heartfelt rendition of ‘Celebration’. It was more like Rylan Clarke howling into my ear at it’s-too-early-o’clock.

                I woke furious for no other reason than the fact that morning had come and slapped me in the face too soon. I wanted a coma-like sleep where not even the smell of Johnny Depp’s dreadlocks could raise me from the bed. But on one occasion, a woman has to accept her bride duties and muster the effort to actually put on a dress and hide her dishevelled self beneath a white veil. Once I had, I felt like Cinderella albeit with a slightly transvestite-like tallness.

Arriving before the groom isn’t tradition but I wanted to sit down without sweating through the layers of netting that had stuck to my nipples. I wanted to be still without the worry that my hair would blow so far back in the open car windows that I’d eventually turn up bald. I wanted to throw myself in front of a mirror to ensure my fake eyelashes didn’t look like two slugs chasing each other on my eyelids. I arrived mere minutes before him and was ushered into an office whilst he gallivanted like some gladiator through the halls of the building.

I walked into the ceremony with my best friend of eleven years to Mariah Carey’s voice. Although, we had discussed how romantic it would be to play Kesha’s Timber and allow for a country dance down the aisle, we opted for the sensible choice.

                Once we were stood facing each other, we couldn’t help but laugh. The registrar silenced us and we began to say our vows to one another. It was when love pulled through and showed everyone that it really does conquer all even for those who can’t cook eggs properly.

With all the meaningless jokes pushed aside, it was as beautiful as the warm, orange sun setting on a summer’s evening. It was like all your favourite memories merged into one black and white film. It was like hearing all the angels sing together just for you. It was like our lives had stopped and a new one had started where we had new titles and new beginnings. It was, and still is, the best decision we’ve ever made, twenty one or pensioner.

 

Tip-ping Me Over the Edge

I refuse to tip in restaurants and I’m not sorry. Why is it after we’ve paid a David Cameron style wage on food that we really could have just microwaved at home, we’re supposed to hand over ‘loose change’ to someone who has barely acknowledged our existence for an hour? Hold me hostage and feed me meat-filled burgers until I pay up because otherwise my purse will stay firmly shut. It’s become this strange legal kind of mugging where they stand before you ready and waiting as though you’re drowning in money and they have to somehow relieve you.  

I can understand that waiters and waitresses have a difficult job; cleaning up some mutated spaghetti mess is hard for even the no-gag-reflexing individual. However, they’re not the only ones that ‘serve’ people. In retail, you don’t walk up to a till point and add a tip to the payment of a crop top, in fact you’d be completely outraged and stroll out with an air of ingratitude. So I’m struggling how after a quick Mr Muscle wipe of the table and a plate of chips I’m expected to hand over my flat keys as a substitute for my lack of tip just so I can escape through the side exit.

The worst part of the whole ‘dining out’ experience is the expectation at the end. It’s an Oliver Twist style moment where ‘more sir’ really wouldn’t be an exaggeration. We all want more money but by giving me a glass of coke and a toothy smile really isn’t the way to go about it. Here’s a prime example of exactly why I’m not willing to give up my week’s earnings on someone who probably chucks hangers on me when walking out of a high street fitting room.

When I was out for dinner the other evening, I requested a vegetarian meal. As abnormal as that is for a waitress to hear that vegetarians really do exist and they’re not just an urban myth, she asked me if I was ‘sure’ that is what I want. Pondering this for a whole second of my life, I proceeded to tell her that yes, after eleven years of Quorn and Tofu, I was extensively sure that my choice was one that I would not later regret. When she left, we waited for forty minutes without our drink order although I’d asked numerous times emphasising the ‘please’ in case I got the whole saliva-in-burger drama. When the dinner arrived, it was a chicken dish that smelt of farmyard manure and a breaded Chicken Run character. After huffing and puffing like an overheating, constipated fish, she eventually replaced it with a salad that I, once again, didn’t order.

            At the end of the meal, my Nan decided to tip six pounds for her ‘enthusiasm’. She had as much ‘enthusiasm’ as a funeral director in a labour room. I kicked up what can only be described as a ‘hormonal’ raucous until my Nan told me that ‘its rude not to tip’. I need this explained to me because for the love of all that is food, I was given a bird to eat.

Call me the wicked witch of the west but my point is true; service is service and it shouldn’t be one rule for one and one rule for another. Receiving great service is a joy but it isn’t one that deserves reward because at the end of the day, they’re getting paid. You may argue that it’s ‘stressful’ and ‘busy’ in restaurants but it is too, in a shop or in an underground station or on a bus. These people don’t play the puppy dog eyes and almost splutter into your soup when you give them nothing. It’s not about politeness because I will engage in conversation in the very typically English way where we evaluate the ‘awful weather’ and I will always say my please and my thank you. But I wonder, when did a heart-felt thank you become a metaphor for I’m-a-tight-fisted-pessimist? It’s about time we all admitted that it’s tipping us over the edge.