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Friday, 30 January 2009


I've just been asked to provide two references and I'm stuck. Who do I know to provide a reference testifying to my non-mentalistness? These are people who:

I can't be having sex with
Or be related to
Or be the parent of
Have to be human
And of good standing
Who have worked with me
And wanted to work with again

That leaves about . . .nobody.

What do you do when you're asked for a reference? This is for a US company so I suspect they want to know if I smoke, take drugs or have ever been a communist. Or have a moustache.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Angry Christians

I was brought up Catholic so I know something about Angry Christians. It's something to do with absolute moral rights, the certainty that there is a right and a wrong and God is on your side. It's harder and takes more moral rigour I think to believe that the world is several shades of gray. I've only ever met one truly Christian person in my life - her name was Meg and I went to college with her. She was gentle, non-judgemental, kind and forgiving. Proper Christian virtues that are sadly lacking in far too many God loving people. Instead they seem full of rigid
self-righteousness and sometimes downright hatred of anyone who thinks differently. Their spelling usually stinks too.

When I worked at Random House we got a lot of manuscripts from religious people who wanted to spread the word through children's books. They were all terrible, all of them. I suppose if one of the central tenets of Christian faith is conversion, the poor children are a target audience, and alas, too many people think that a preachy book is perfect for children. But nobody wants to be preached at, especially children. We used to get tomes with titles like:

Jesus Bear
Hell and Damnation (Illustrated)
Does Fluffy Have a Soul?

I used to get hate mail occasionally from disgruntled authors. I was going to hell, I was the 'hore of babbylon' and a 'f***ing bitch c***' (I kid you not) for not publishing their books. All were written in the kind of crabbed, obsessive hand that makes you think of an unshaven middle age man with a twitch in a tiny cellar and the dead body of the last woman who said no to him, rotting in the next room. No that's not fair - one of them was from a woman (I think) who said she was a 'devotid momma of Kymmie the beauty queen' but I was still going to burn in hell for not wanting to publish her book on cosmetics for toddlers.

What is it about Christians and hate mail? They seem to think that with God being on their side they have the right to send vile, abusive letters to people, littered with horrible grammar and bad spelling to anyone who doesn't agree with their world view. Or swears. Or is David Attenborough. Can you believe that this lovely man, who makes the best programmes in the history of the world gets hate mail from Christians?

Atheists don't behave like this. You don't get Christian groups complaining about being deluged in green inked moronically spelled missives accusing them of being thickoes because they happen to believe that the world was created in 6 days and God says in the Old Testament that anyone who works on Sunday should be stoned to death?
Exodus 31:13-15 (Six days my work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.)

However, since the Pope has un-excommunicated Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier who remains firmly convinced that feminism is linked to witchcraft, and trouser wearing (oh and women shouldn't be allowed to go to university) it must be a bit embarrassing for God. I mean who is really on his side? Fat, red faced Neo-Cons, hate mail senders, Holocaust deniers and George W.Bush. I'd be well embarrassed if this was the calibre of my fan base.

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Secret of Success as a Writer

I've just stumbled across a fabulous blog by a writer called Sally Quilford and read a thoroughly inspiring post about why some writers are more successful than others. Do read it. I've just spent the day crossing out what I wrote a few days ago, but this piece cheered me enormously.

Children's Parties - Argghhhh!

Don’t have children. It means you have to spend years of your life taking them to parties. From the age of about five when they first go to school, till they’re teenagers and embarrassed by your very existence, you have to take them to an endless succession of ghastly parties. Unless you have a socially inadequate child with no friends. Sometimes as you take your sugar crazed child home from the latest Themed Horror, this doesn't seem such a bad idea.

The Girl went to a Mermaid Party at the weekend. Her best friend had invited a maximum of THIRTY children to the local swimming baths followed by tea in a room lit with the kind of strip lighting you see in interrogation scenes. Oh God I hate swimming baths. They bring back all those dreadful memories of Monday Afternoon Swimming at my primary school. We had a sports mad teacher who after lining us up by the side of the pool to humiliate whoever had sprouted a verucca – she yelled at us to get into the cold, stinky chlorinated pool. Armed with a pole topped off with a hook, (in case some errant child tried to get out of the pool, for nefarious reasons – fear of drowning, possibly) she would march up and down the pool blowing her whistle and screeching. Then when the swimming lesson was over we would troop shivering into the changing room and I would discover that somehow my clothes were now on the wet floor. We would all dress as fast as possible, struggling to get wet clothes onto our dripping, chlorinated infested limbs. “Last one out of the changing room loses as House Point!” shrieked Teacher, as we emerged, wet, bedraggled, full of self-loathing.

So no, I don’t like swimming. And taking The Girl into this particular cold, damp, echoey changing room brought all this back. But she of course, loved it. Leaping into the kiddy pool like a little fish, while we mothers Had Fun pushing our children round the pool on various rubber contraptions. The children were screaming like little tyrants. “Faster mummy!” The water was cold, so after gritting my teeth and splashing about for ten minutes I gave up and clambered out, half expecting to be poked by teacher.

Then we all dressed and lugged legions of party food into the room with bad strip lighting. There were so many children it resembled a medieval feast with us mothers standing behind our children (just like medieval serfs, all encouraging and pleading with them to eat a few carrot sticks and sandwiches) If any adult, fainting with hunger pinched a sarnie or a crisp, (ie me) we’d get a lava freezing glance from Birthday Girl’s Mum. Nicking party food is a capital crime even if there’s tons of the stuff.

Thirty children?! Or was it Forty? Or was it just a sea of little girls wearing tiraras? I don’t have that many friends and Birthday Girl was only five years old. It’s all politics. If you insist your child only invites a small number of children, it gets round and on the next party with laser lighting and a personal appearance by Dora the Explorer, you can guarantee your child won’t be invited. The Girl will be five soon and already she’s come up with a list of her bestest bestest friends. I’ve made her cap the list at ten people, and I’m frantically checking out party entertainers, and wondering how I could sneak some valium into the marmite sandwiches.

Just had a thought of a Really Good Party Game. You send all the children into the garden and offer £20 to whoever comes back last.

On another note, I was sad to hear of the death of lovely Tony Hart. He created Morph and the original Blue Peter badge. I will never forget the joyous thrill I felt on tuning into Vision On and seeing my splodgy daubs featured. Altogether now: "And now . . . The Gallery."

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Experts Say . . .!

When I wrote for magazines, one of the phrases most often used in editorial was: "Experts say . . " or "Experts agree . . " and then you'd have to phone up the British Psychological Society to find a psychologist flogging a book who'd be happy to endorse whatever shite you had to say in the article. I have to say Dorothy Rowe, that wonderful wise Yoda of psychologists was always friendly and didn't cringe at some of my dumber commissions such as: What does shaving your pubes into a lightning bolt say about you? Experts say . . . (That you have far too much time on your hands?)

We had to find at least two sources that backed up our point of view though, so if a lawyer or far worse a PR company came after us we could point to proper research that did indeed say that women with lightning bolt shaped pubes were more extrovert than women with ordinary hamster fluff pubes. Incredible though it may seem.

But now - whenever I hear Experts Say, or Experts Agree, if it's not backed up with solid research - I just think: "You're making it up". Because they are. Or it's based on a survey of 12 people in Kansas. Anyway, I've just read a survey that says beautiful women are more likely to stray because they're constantly seeking a more alpha mate. And this survey is based on 52 women in Texas. Whoo hoo!

It's always about changing up with women, apparently. We only shag about to get a Higher Earning Male. But I've got a very beautiful friend who also happens to be very dirty. She just doesn't look dirty - she looks quite proper and English Rose. So she attracts lots of guys who to put it bluntly, get very upset when she gently suggests that a swift poke and a grunt just doesn't do it for her. She's just come out of a relationship (the only time she did come frankly) with a man who on paper was fine, but the sex wasn't working. "So when did you realise?" I asked. "When he got his clothes off but it seemed rude to say - er I've changed my mind." Oh dear. And the actual sex was of the nipple-twiddling-as-if-trying-to-locate-Radio-Luxembourg variety-followed-by-a-few-jabs. So my friend suggested various other possibilities all of which met with "But what would I do with my hands?" and "Dear me how messy!" They've just broken up and he's back on the Dating Scene. I've had a look at his online profile and oddly enough it doesn't say Shit in Bed anywhere. But he's nice looking and owns his own company so maybe that's enough for some women. Not the proper dirty ones though . . . .

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Bollocks to Detox

Somebody very clever who I would credit if I could remember their name, once said that dieting is the western equivalent of foot binding. It keeps people (mainly women) in a permanent state of dissatisfaction with their bodies. As I was munching a steak sandwich at the time of reading, I heartily agreed. Now of course, in the icy grasp of January, vile 'detox' diets are everywhere. You basically eat disgusting herbal concoctions with twigs floating in them (yes just like pond scum only less tasty)bushels of fruit and veg, and the occasional slice of steamed fish. At the end of this, you feel cleansed, smug and no doubt, absolutely starving. But no matter. The diet is the western replacement for organised religion. They show you the way, the truth and the lite.

However, as if you didn't already know, an article in the Guardian yesterday by Hadley Freeman argued that it's all bollocks, and our livers should be doing that particular job (as long as they haven't gone on strike after Christmas) and real doctors as opposed to bossy blonde witches who call themselves 'Dr', also agree it's a waste of time and the only thing it does is add lots of money to the already bulging coffers of the diet industry. And as I was eating a fried egg sandwich at the time of reading I heartily agreed with that too.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Snot Grout

Here are some signs you've been with your partner for a looooongggggg time . . .

1. One of you farts so loudly the cat starts, flattens his ears and hares out of the room (ok it was me) but your partner doesn't bat an eyelid.

2. While your partner is checking something on your laptop, you notice a bit of fluff on his sweatshirt and pick it off. Your partner says: "Did you just pick your nose and wipe it on my sweatshirt?" And what's more he doesn't sound particularly shocked! As though having bodily secretions wiped on clothing is a sweet declaration of affection. Either that or he has given up on any basic notions of decorum.

3. You discover that your partner (oh and this isn't me) has been picking their nose in the shower and flicking it, supposedly down the drain but somehow it ends up calcified to the shower wall like snot grout. And partner affects surprise like it's a charming little affectation. "If you had a new partner you wouldn't do this!" merely meets with a hurt look as though bogey blasting in the shower is an entirely reasonable activity. So you smile calmly and try to scrape it off. With a scrubbing brush, with a FINGERNAIL and finally with his toothbrush. This is very satisfying, especially when you watch him brushing his teeth the next day.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


was a bit shit frankly. Not a lot happened that was good. Ok so neither of my children were run over, and Husband still seems to be alive (I keep hearing the sound of effing, blinding and machine gun fire upstairs so he's still playing Grand Theft Auto), but still, it wasn't much fun. Here's to a better 2009 for all of us. May books be published, scripts bought, and children bring home Smartypants Awards from school.