Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Waiting for a kid to get over an illness is a bit like waiting for a BT engineer who said he would come at 8am but actually comes at 5.30pm the following day. You take the day off, you pace, you worry, you get frustrated, you watch TV, you flick through magazines and you look out of the window and think 'GOSH I REALLY WISH I COULD GET OUT OF THE FUCKING HOUSE BEFORE I DIE.'

My child isn't very well. Nothing serious  - just a non-specific and nasty winter virus of the kind most people get just before Christmas, the kind that makes mince pies and stuffing look as appetising as poo. As I write this, he's watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon and looking woeful. At 4 am he needed water, at 5 am he needed water, and at 6 am he woke up crying and dizzy with a temperature similar to the Earth's Core. Then we watched a Japanese cartoon called Monsuno, which is the shittiest programme EVER. After that there's been more telly, books, writing, a nap and some DS. Lots of moaning and wet flannels and untouched toast. We've been housebound so long I'm starting to feel like Grandma Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What is the world like out there? Does it have many shiny things?

Of course, it could be a lot worse, and for many families it really is. This is just a standard issue ailment, so I can't imagine what it's like to contend with a long term illness. When your kid is ill, even with something boring, it feels horrible. I hate it. It's like you're hanging around waiting for an unpleasant invasive procedure sometime in in the not-too-distant future, like a colonoscopy or a smear test. You feel a nagging stress that no number of magazines about Anne Hathaway's vagina can quell. You can't relax, day or night, for fear of being woken up by a crying, overheating lump of unassailable distress. You can't detach yourself, because they are you, except you feel perfectly healthy, and you'd quite like to do something other than offer hugs and dispense Calpol, like go to the pub, or do a human pyramid, or ride a motorbike through a circle of fire. You are the opposite of Monsuno. You don't have monster power in your hand, and you don't control the battle. You have no power, and you can't even convert into a tarantula/wasp/turtle at the touch of a button, which quite frankly sucks.

All you can do is wait. Wait for them to get well, and go back to normal, so you can shout at them about leaving things on the floor and tear your hair out and write moany arsed blogs about how they don't behave themselves. I cannot wait. In the meantime, could someone go out and get me a Dominos? Ta.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Let me tell you a story about my mattress. (Hey, where are you going?). My mattress is vile. It's like sleeping in Spongebob's square pants. And when you breathe, you can hear the springs boing deep within, like distant bongos in the Congo. When I wake up, my neck feels like I've been attacked by bears. If I could afford to get rid of this mattress, I would stamp on it and take it to its orthapedic grave with a flame thrower, then I would call an independent inquiry into its reprehensible behaviour between 2009 and 2012.

Now I don't normally do promotional blogging things, but I NEED A NEW BED. I don't just want one. I mean, I want a spacious Victorian house in a leafy area and to be next Tina Fey and have the skin of a baby antelope and to be able to fit 20 Jaffa cakes into my mouth. But I'm OK if that doesn't happen. But this bed, I actually need it - like flowers need rain and Nigella needs Spanx.

So I'm going to use my blog to enter a competition to win a new bed from Warren Evans, and you my dear readers, are just going to have to deal with it. Warren, I've always imagined you to be a handsome devil with strong forearms and a checked shirt, who can fashion a comfortable resting place from a large tree trunk. A bit like that guy from Sex in The City with the dog, but with a more intimate knowledge of ticking and pocket springs. Please give me a new bed, Warren. My back hurts. Did I mention you have lovely forearms?

Anyway, Warren Evans wants bloggers to blog about you or your child's favourite toy that guards your bedroom at night. The one that keeps the monsters at bay. You can do it too!

My child sleeps with an army of toys of all different sizes, plus a machine that plays music and a light saber. But I believe I have the most effective deterrent against things that go bump in the night. I've slept with his toy for about 17 years now. He's called 'Ian' and he's 36 years old. Sometimes he rolls over and kicks me and farts, and good luck asking him to get up in the night to feed a baby. When he's awake, he's always talking and he could take the recycling out a bit more often, if you ask me. But when it comes to making me feel safe, Ian is the best toy in the world. He sleeps by the door, in case of burglars, and will always investigate imaginary noises if you scream loud enough. And when I snore (the scariest, most monstrous sound of all) he gives me a swift knee in the back and tells me to shut up. Bless him. Here's Ian, primed for action, like a tiger. (An unconscious tiger.)

So thank you Ian, for looking after me for all these years, and protecting me from the imaginary burglars. Thank you for being my bed companion and a nice warm person to snuggle up to. And just think, if we had a lovely new bed from WARREN EVANS, maybe you wouldn't sleep diagonally and push me into the pointy corner of the bedside table every night.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

If I was Chris Brown's Mum: A short play

Int. Day. A suburban living room. Chris Brown lies on a DFS recliner listening to his Skullcandy headphones and eating a packet of Mini Cheddars. Enter me, brandishing a large stick.


Chris: What, ma?

Me: I said, come here - and wipe that smirk off your face you suppurating little turd. No, c'mere a minute. *waves stick threateningly*

Chris: Don't do it, ma.

Me: I won't, Christopher. Because I believe in love and tolerance and equal rights, unlike you. I wish you were more like your father, Arnold Brown, the famous Scottish comedian.

Chris: Don't be hatin' on me, bitch.


Chris: Sorry, ma.

Me: Now I want a word with you about all these tattoos you've been getting. Firstly, they look like a 13 year old boy has been drawing wonky pictures on you with a leaky biro. Secondly, is that a poorly rendered image of Rihanna's beaten and bloody face on your neck?

Chris: No, it's just some random woman.

Me: I can tell when you're lying, Christopher. Your lip wobbles and you get a squeaky bottom. Remember that time you stole a pencil from the pencil museum in Keswick and you followed through?

Chris: I didn't!

Me: IS IT RIHANNA? If you lie, there'll be no CITV FOR A WEEK!

Chris: OK, OK, yes.

Me: That's disgusting. I am ashamed of you. RiRi should have you murdered by a hitman and the crime scene made to look like a suicide *just a little hint for you there, love*

Chris: I'm sorry, Ma.

Me: Oh, you will be. Because until you get that monstrosity lasered from your neck, and apologise for your vile attitude towards women, you will be wearing THIS jumper. And you won't be able to go on the swings with Bazzo and Dobber from school for an entire month! Do you understand?

Chris: But muuuum!

Me: Enough! Now go to your room and think about what you've done. I have replaced all your offensive posters of naked ladies with pictures of leading feminists. So next time you have a hand shandy - and DON'T TELL ME YOU DON'T - you'll have to look at Andrea Dworkin and Camille Paglia with flecks of spit in the corner of their mouths, arguing about the third wave!

Chris: WAAAA! *slam!*


Thursday, 23 August 2012


I have been led to believe by other mothers - including my own mother -  that when your kids go to school, life gets easier. 'Oh, it'll be fine when he's at school!' they say, cheerily, when I complain about my stuttering, collapsing clown car of a career. 'Don't worry, he'll knuckle down and grow up when he goes to school!', they say, when I catch him sticking a pencil in his ear. 'You'll have all the time in the world - you can write novels and paint delicate watercolours and ride a dappled horse on a moonlit beach when he's at school'. And so on and so on.  But since he started his first half-day sessions on Wednesday, I am alternating between being busy, overwhelmed, bored, depressed, proud, happy, frustrated and having no idea what I'm doing. Here is a list of things that are freaking me out, in real time, right now.


1. First off, you've got to get up early EVERY DAY. No more putting on a Spongebob DVD and then returning to that brilliant sexy dream you were having about Paul Rudd. Did I say Paul Rudd? I meant, my husband* (*my husband, Paul Rudd). By the way, here's a clip of him and me, earlier.

2. My son's school appears to be obsessed with making them wear shirts and ties and smart trousers and having their picture taken constantly. Oh, the ironing, the sorting, the name tagging, the straightening and the fussing. I feel like a wardrobe assistant on Newsnight. ('Get me Clegg's trousers. No, not the grey ones - the GREY ones!')

3. It requires social interaction with adults in the morning! When you haven't even had your second cup of tea! Attempting to be funny! Making small talk! Asking after people! Remembering what they say! Gaaaaah! What am I? Graham Norton?

4. Where I live, there is a settling-in period at school, which means half days for 2 and a half godforsaken weeks. Half days of pain. Of teeny weeny rushed mornings, followed by tired tantrummy trauma and long, long afternoons. God knows how I find the time to write rubbish moany-arsed lists like this.

5. The trauma of change. I didn't cry in the playground, and I managed not to have a total meltdown in the school outfitters shop, or in the hairdressers, and I didn't even blub when I saw him for the first time in a pair of school shorts and his shiny new school shoes. But that doesn't mean I'm not deeply traumatised. I don't like change. I don't even like it when someone moves a piece of furniture, or I don't have my special pizza in Pizza Express, or they've run out of Frubes at the Co-op.

6. My child has started pretending he's a teacher. That means when I'm writing anything he asks me: 'do you do it this way?' *penetrating look* 'Or this way?' 'Do you start from the top, or from the side?' 'Very good!' It's weirdly instructional, like a junior Christian Grey. 'Would you like to come into my red room of Jollyphonics?'

7. Oh yeah, they do Jollyphonics. I will jollyphonics yo ass. That's A (apple, ant) S S (snake movements). My kid doesn't know whether he's learning to read or whether he's a reptile.

8. Then there's the letters to the parents. So many letters, all in COMIC SANS. Oh, my eyes. I am font sensitive, people. I'm going to lobby the parent council to get them to switch it Arial as a matter of the utmost urgency.

9. I have a problem with authority. In that I'm obsessed with pleasing authority and not getting into trouble. This leads to much stressful faffing, trying to please a teacher who is about ten years younger than me and probably couldn't even beat me at a cut-throat game of Connect 4.

10. Did I mention the Comic Sans? 

Anyway, I'm sure it'll all be fine. I am in a period of flux. I'm sure I will get used to the rushing and the fretting and the letters and the homework, and when he gets to do full days, I will be on easy street, hanging out with the other mums, drinking Lambrini at the gates. Make it happen soon, though - I can stand any more worrying about creases in all those identical grey pairs of trousers... 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Now we're full on OlympicaddicksTM, there's never been a better time to feel shit about yourself because you've not spent the last 4 years running 150 miles a day in the rain with torn ligaments and tears of pain in your eyes. You don't have a xylophone midriff, you will never know glory, and the closest you'll get to gold is a box of Terry's All Gold from your Aunty Pat at Christmas (if you don't like the strawberry creams, I'll have them - ta).

As a result of the sheer emotional drama of the Olympics - which according to my Olympic Emocalculator outnumbers Cowell's singing dogs and the tearful journeys of X-Factor contestants by about 18,000 to one - I've noticed a seismic shift. A large amount of impressionable people have started Ostentatious Running. Whereas two weeks ago they were just running to tick off a lifestyle box and make themselves feel better about eating a large pie, joggers everywhere are pushing themselves, aping The Ennis and getting arse cramp. People with no previous interest in sport are throwing themselves over sandpits willy nilly. My own husband has taken up tennis, which is HILARIOUS. It's like the 'before' bit at the beginning of Casualty featuring cheerful builders putting up dangerous scaffolding as a baby goes by in its pram. It's like an Eastenders party. 'Bad Idea' is written through it like a stick of dangerous pointy rock.

Of course, by extension, the Olympics will also influence parents to force their useless, talentless children to practice a variety of sports against their will. This 'inspire a generation' line, cooked up by copywriters (who do nothing but sit in front of Macbook Pros listening to 'Tea Time Theme Time' on BBC 6 music and making up Lolcats captions) has put ideas into the nation's heads. Soon, children will be marched to velodromes and forced to train for hours going round and round on little Thomas the Tank Engine bikes, to the booming accompaniment of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' -  while Paul McCartney waves a Union Jack and gives two thumbs up.

Perhaps before we embrace this whole idea of Inspiring a Generation, we should have a good look at ourselves. We might like pretending to be an athlete when we go running, but we will never possess the skills and commitment to be one. It's a fantasy, a happy fantasy that might create a few good health benefits - or bad ones - but a fantasy nonetheless. I used to pretend to be Tracy Austin by batting a tennis ball against the back of the house because I LIKED HER EARRINGS - does that make me an athlete? No, sir, it does not. (Her earrings were totally awesome diamond ones, by the way, and they went really nicely with her tan). What we really need is more realism. Why don't we just set ourselves a goal we can stick to? How about 'Inspiring a Generation To Do A Tiny Bit More Exercise Before They Go To Greggs.'?

Equally, we really shouldn't get carried away and push our children towards disappointment. Not before we ask them what they think, anyway. My child is by no means swept away by the emotional and physical dramas of the Olympics. His attitude is both world-weary ('not watching the lympics AGAAAAAAIN') and slightly arrogant ( 'I can do that' he shrugged, as he watched Usain Bolt run faster than a comet). Occasionally, I can see a glimmer of inspiration, like when he pretends to go up on starting blocks and runs wildly out of the room and into a chest of drawers. But I'm not going to kid myself I have a Little Mo Farah. Like his Ma, he prefers to watch the telly and make sarcastic comments. It might not win him any medals, but we can still have a good time. As long as he keeps his hands off the strawberry creams.

Friday, 13 July 2012

10 Tips for Freelance Writers (with children)

This week marks the first week of my transition from part-time real-life job to being a freelance arse-scratching writer who looks down the back of the fridge for coins. And what a week it's been!

I know that freelance working mothers everywhere have the same mantra. 'It's so hard juggling childcare with watching Loose Women.' And it is. For some reason kids don't want to stare at dessicated daytime TV cadavers held together by Touche Elcat and this season's Simply Be catalogue, making yawnsome 'observations' about women's 'issues'! They want to watch 80 back to back episodes of Pingu and eat a metre long packet of Maoam chews, and then demand to be taken to a far flung park in the pissing rain.

I thought getting back into the freelance game would be easy. Before children, I miraculously got writing jobs, went for lunch a lot and pretended to be Julie Burchill. Oh, the fabulousness. Sometimes, I could even afford cheese! But since I opened my legs and got up the duff, life has been a complex tangle of logistics that would make Prof Brian 'Big' Cox reach for a paper and pen and scribble down calculations with his tongue sticking out in concentration. Things just don't work out how you'd hoped. If Dorothy Parker was around now and had had kids, she would have been slumped in front of Ben 10, suffering from stultifying writer's block, phoning the editor of the New Yorker to say that her deadline needs to be put forward because Parker Junior (let's call him Ray) needs some new school trousers from BHS.

So it's the usual mad scramble to do anything, punctuated by long periods of nothing. One week in, I've done a bit of work, a lot of childcare, and shitloads of housework. There is no work lined up for next week. AND I AM STILL NOT AS FAMOUS AS KIM KARDASHIAN. So to make my life easier, and to reach out to freelance parents who are more successful than me and might lend me a fiver, I'm giving you some survival tips. Please feel free to suggest your own.

10 Tips For Successful Freelancing (and parenting)

1. God invented the DS for a reason, and that's so you can quickly knock out 500 words on John Terry being a nasty man for Bumhole magazine. To subdue your child further you can also use telly, the CBeebies website, or a crusty old bottle of Medised.

2. Your ideas are your currency, but how do you have them when you're knee deep in a ball pool in Fruity McGumbo's Soft Play Palace? Instead, work with what you've got, and phone the editor of the Independent with the words: 'Could you use a funny thinkpiece about ball pools?'

3. If your child is at school or nursery, focus your wandering mind by reading the Mail Online showbiz sidebar and incessantly tweeting about it.

4. Even though you're writing on a table covered in Moshi Monsters magazines, Bakugans and snot, remember that you are supposed to be a professional. Do not have a brain fart and accidentally attach a photo of Nicolas Cage to your job application, like this woman.

5. Don't bring your work home with you. Your 2 year old doesn't give a fuck what your take is on 50 Shades of Grey.

6. Dreaming of that regular freelance gig? Ha! You idiot. Even so, keep yourself hungry for it by growling at Grace Dent's Twitter avatar and saying 'THAT COULD BE ME - IF I WAS BETTER AT WRITING'

7. Sometimes it's hard to keep up all that aimless internet searching, fruitless pitching and self loathing. Step away from your empty inbox and take a break by climbing on the roof of a multi-storey car park and threatening suicide.

8. Kids love to help! If your child is a rudimentary reader, ask him or her to skim through The Sun in case there are any features you can re-write in a wry, post modern way and sell to the broadsheets.

9. Building up contacts is a tough job. Always be polite when contacting someone called Sarah-Jane/Emilia/Jacinta who went to Oxford (Polytechnic) and accidentally ended up in the media/publishing industry because of something to do with her rich dad. If you're super lovely maybe they'll remember you and give you a job one day! (They won't).

10. Get a proper job. It makes life so much easier, even if it is cleaning the bogs at Nandos. And you can steal some piri-piri sauce from the kitchen so your children won't starve.

Lucy Sweet is a freelance writer for hire. She has contributed to the Sunday Express, The Guardian, Glamour, London Look, Nickmom, Brides, Radio Times, FHM, Sabotage Times and the Daily Record, and is the author of 2 novels published by Black Swan. She's available for work on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday when she's not shouting at her child to stop climbing all over her and elbowing her in the boob.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Ball! Ball of fire in sky! *beats chest* Come, Ug, look at ball! Worship ball! Ball is good!

This is my usual response when I see the sun in Scotland, an event that takes place once every 3,000 years when the moon is in the seventh house and the mongoose of Aragon doth rise from the swamps of Tylenolle. (Sorry, my husband is reading Game of Thrones and some of it has leaked out of the sides).

Sunny days are also a chance for me to be a total PARANOID LUNATIC when it comes to my child's skin. Never mind that I have a peeling, sun scorched neck that would make Dennis Potter reach for the celestial aqueous cream. Like the worst kind of hippy, overprotective parent, I dread my kid getting sunburn. However unrealistic it is, I want his lovely smooth skin to stay unblemished by sun damage forever. But it's also because I fear terrible consequences - never mind that sunburn can happen in the blink of an eye, somewhere in between hoiking your sandy knickers out of your crack and searching for your sanity in the cool bag. These days, if you let your child burn, you're a terrible parent.

I remember getting sunburn when I was about 4- screeching as my mum tried to cover my shoulders in Germolene. Of course, back then, nobody knew much about the risks, and in summer everyone had skin like a flayed chorizo. The only sun protection a family needed was a slimy brown bottle of Coppertone factor 1, carelessly sealed with a piece of cling film. Sun tan lotion was considered the reserve of international jetsetters, women in Campari adverts and some mysterious bloke called Piz Buin. Not for the likes of us, with our terry towelling and windbreakers, gurning on the beach in Scarborough. You just had a fag and got on with it.

But these days, you must slather your deeply annoyed, wriggling, complaining kid from head to toe in bright blue 'fun' sun block every 10 minutes. If you don't follow this tedious process, you may as well give them a packet of B&H and a plutonium rod and tell them get down to Tan Canaria for a quick sizzle on the hi-definition Burn-o-tron 3000. Why not leave them in the road? Give them a crack pipe? Enter them into a beauty pageant and make them sing 'Happy Birthday, Mr President' in a sexy voice?  Such is our fear of the sun's dangers, our kids are sent out wearing weird caps with flaps on the back, looking like ghostly white pharaohs, unable to move and sweating cobs in full body lycra.

The problem is, protecting children from the sun involves a combination of pain, anxiety and extreme helplessness. Monitoring the possibility of sunburn is a whole lot of hand wringing and squinting with the voice of Lynn Faulds-Wood in your head reeling off cancer statistics and saying 'look at that, it's a death trap.' Putting suncream on them is even worse. I would rather climb in a vat of tripe and have a saucy wrestle with Eric Pickles than put factor 50 on a screaming 2 year old, or have a 10 minute 'conversation' about how they need to wear a hat no-it's-not-too-hot-it'll keep-you-cool-just-put-on-the-FUCKING HAT.

Something has to be done about this dermatological stress. Someone needs to invent a sheep dip style sun-tan lotion dunking system you can take to the beach - in, out, done. One application covers all. No more greasy struggling and indignant tears, no more guilt ridden cold baths. That way Mummy can get on with something more important than worrying about her parenting. Like reading middle aged lady porn and slurping her way through a litre bottle of Asda rose while the kids disappear into the sea.

Friday, 20 April 2012


I've never been skinny. In fact, since the age of about 3 I've had a belly that seems to think it's attached to Jocky Wilson. Somewhere there's a photo of me standing in the garden aged 5 in a pair of awful brown flares with a gut similar to a truck driver who drinks 10 pints of Watney's Red Barrel a day. My vicious rabbit, Flopsy, is next to me on the grass, but you can barely see the little shit because my belly is BLOCKING OUT THE SUN.

The thing is, I'm taking it on holiday in a couple of months, and for once in my life I'd like to wear a bikini. In theory, that should be fine. My bum is still OK and my boobs are alright, as long as they're supported and lashed to the upper half of my body with a series of wires, bows and buckles. But I can't vouch for my jelly belly. It has a mind of its own. Give it French bread and butter and cheese and wine and it will spread, until one day I will find woodland creatures sheltering under it from the rain. I can't be responsible for it.

Now I've had a child, it's got even worse. Now I have the 'roll'. I'm not one of those women who loves their floppy bits and their episotomy scar because they 'tell the beautiful story of childbirth'. I hate my conjoined lard twin. I want it gone. The roll (let's call him Roland) conspires to push down every pair of jeans and trousers I own. He makes skirts ride up so I end up inadvertently flashing my pie at people when I bend over. Roland sits there, directly on my waistband, and no matter how much weight I might lose from other parts of my body, the malevolent bastard lives on, quietly chuckling to himself like the pigs in Angry Birds.

OK, so I could stop eating so many Gregg's toffee popcorn doughnuts, or I could do sit ups (ugh) or I could have a wheatgrass enema, but I refuse to have anything to do with the idea of getting 'beach ready'. I will not starve on rice cakes and water for a month just so I can look good on a beach full of fat people on lilos. I particularly hate the word 'de-fuzz' (which is such a quaint term for 'having hairs manually torn out of your vagina with a piece of glorified fly paper'). I will not change my lifestyle just to wear a bikini. Fuck you, THE MAN.

So as far as I can see I have three options:

a) Wear a full length burkini, like Nigella
b) Hide my gut at all times with a large print copy of Jo Nesbo's The Snowman
c) Embrace the lard and make Roland into a feature, like this guy

I think I'm going to choose c. I'm going to be a man about this. I'm going to let it all hang out. It'll take guts, but I got plenty of those.

Just don't lie near me if you want to see the sun.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Celebrities are just like you or me - if we were self-absorbed midgets with big heads and tiny bodies who are trying to impress an absent parent. And in the world of celebrity, there are several rules to be obeyed, including smiling vacantly on a red carpet, frequenting Starbucks, and calling your kids terrible made-up names. Yes, I’m looking at you, Robert Downey Jnr. Having coke holes in your brain is still no excuse for naming your child EXTON, which makes the poor lad sound like a cross between an abandoned petrol station and a financial services company.

Being the muppets that we are, the general public tend to follow their lead, filling provincial primary schools with outlandishly named kids called Optrexia, Norovirus and Spicée-Nik-Nak. But we must resist. After all, celebrities are idiots, and that's a fact that can probably be proved scientifically by this top 5 list of vile non-names:


Perhaps blue is Jay-Z’s favourite colour, and Beyonce was watching old episodes of Corrie and found the drunken acting of Ivy Tilsley unbearably moving. Unfortunately, Blue Ivy could also be the name of a shit nightclub in Stockport. Or a Dulux paint colour you can make in that juddery machine at B&Q. Mind you, I bet she’d look good in the lounge, on an accent wall next to the telly.


Here’s the conversation I imagine took place between Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson when naming his progeny.

Michael: Hey Michael, what am I going to call my son?

Debbie the surrogate: well, I thought…


Michael: Well, Michael, how about naming it after the thing closest to you.

Michael: Liz?

Michael: No, just the actual thing closest to you.

Michael: I don’t know Michael. I mean, Propofol is a registered trademark.

Michael: Ok then, how about that blanket you’re crying and wanking into?

Michael: OK. Blanket it is.

Michael: Shamone!

Michael: Shall we get the robot butler to take us to Space Mountain for ice cream?

Michael: Wooo-hooo! I'm BAD! etc.


Suri is Scientology-speak for ‘the chosen child alien who knoweth about shoes.' Probably. Maybe it's the fact that I've seen this kid coming out of Prada holding a vente latte and trash talking the nanny, but I think there's something mean about the name Suri. It's a sneer of a name, made worse by the fact that Tom and Katie dress her up like a f-row bitch from hell and indulge her when she has a tantrum because her Marc Jacobs peplum is stopping her from getting on the see-saw. Also, Suri sounds just a little bit like 'urine'.


Jason Lee, you know that moment when you've taken your gazillionth hit of the bong and you see God's face? That's not the best time to name your kid.


Brangelina's offspring may be many and varied, but they have uniformly terrible names. Maddox and Pax sound like vending machines, whereas Zahara could be a little-used search engine. Meanwhile, international cat-burgling duo Vivienne and Knox are busy infiltrating the air conditioning system of a Vegas casino using Sat Navs and razor wire. But the cherry on top of this inedible name cake is poor little Shiloh, who is so traumatised by her ghastly moniker that she has TURNED INTO A BOY. Sadly, nobody knows whether Shiloh is a boy's name, a girl's name or Hebrew for 'blessed turd'.

Anyway, it's not right, and it needs to stop. It's time to ditch the stupid names and bring forth a new generation of children who can hold their heads high when the morning register is called. Bring back the Colins and the Johns and Brians and the Shirleys! In fact, let's have a celebrity kid called ROGER. Go on, Brad and Ange - I dare you.

Friday, 27 January 2012


Class differences are rife in parenting. For a start, you only call it 'parenting' if you earn over £20 grand a year and have money to invest in Keep Calm and Eat A Cupcake signs. Middle class mums pander to the every need of Millie, Francois and Hericlitus, following them about as they reach 'developmental milestones'. Meanwhile, the rest of the world drag their children around behind them while they argue into their Nokias, occasionally stopping to give them a well-deserved kick up the arse.

It's typically superior of the middle class to imagine they're doing things right and the underclass are ill-bred swines who create the devil's spawn. The middle-class mothering mafia might think they've got the edge with their tupperware and Ugg Boots, but just look at their progeny - flinging babyccinos around and running amok in art galleries, wiping snot on the Rothkos. Just because they have tangled hair and applique Boden tops with cute pirates on them doesn't mean they're not odious little shits. Meanwhile, if you're called Jayden and have a mini Celtic strip and an alcoholic Dad who owns a samurai sword, you're a menace to society. It's not fair.

It's time we stopped vilifying working-class children. Remember when David Cameron made all those speeches about Britain's families opening their curtains and going to work? Forget it. There's a lot to be said about not having a job and being around to look after your kids. Big families, lots of support, time to go to the park. So what if the baby's eating a Twix?

I think the middle-class and the working class need to work together and form a new wave of tolerant, enlightened parenting, which gets the balance right between over-attentive fawning and outright neglect. Working class people can teach the middle class to give their kids loads of sweets, put them on the bouncy castle and stop worrying so much. In turn, the middle class can teach them about dental health, Twitter and amusing Emma Bridgewater tea towels.

When this cross-cultural parenting is done right it's a joy. One of my heroes is a mother who wouldn't be seen dead fondling the heart-shaped silicon bakeware at John Lewis. My son has a friend at nursery who we'll call Lee. I invited him to my son's birthday party, and because I'm so hopelessly middle class I thought maybe she'd show up with him and hang around for a glass of wine. But no. Instead he turned up with his granny, who gave me a Toy Story bag, said: 'if he has any accidents, here's a spare pair of pants,' and fucked off. Three hours later, Lee's ma rocked up, hungover to buggery, with a lovebite the size of Canada.

And do you know what? Her son was the most charming and well-behaved boy at the party. Now THAT'S the way you do it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Occupation: Piss Artist

It might surprise people who read this blog, but I am a writer by trade. 'By trade' makes it sound like I have a van, or at the very least a dungaree pocket containing a spanner, but no. (Actually, perhaps writers should have vans, and take out adverts in the Yellow Pages. 'Sebastian Faulks- Complex Plot Devices While U Wait'. 'Joanna Trollope - Gas Safe Registered Aga Technician' etc).

Anyway, I wish there was a degree of legitimacy to being a writer but there isn't. Unless you're famous or you stand about all day waving a big fucking quill, nobody knows. So you'll just have to take my word for it that I once wrote some books that are at #19,567,984 on the Amazon list. Also, once, in 1997, the Independent on Sunday proclaimed that I was genius. I had the clipping, but NOW I CAN'T FIND IT. Oh well. If you're one of those people *Dennis Norden face* who likes to spot writers in the street, look out for the unkempt fat people who are crying on a park bench. That's us. Or it might be a tramp.

Being a (not very successful) writer is weird, and a source of endless strife. Really, we should get proper jobs and just give up, but we don't. I scrape a living from words, but nobody can really call themselves a writer in casual conversation, even if they've been published, without sounding like a pretentious, cretinous turd. This leads to a perverse state of embarrassment, to the point that you may as well work in an abbatoir. You almost talk yourself out of it. When I was stressing out a couple of months ago, my own mother suggested I get a job at a cheese shop. 'But I'm...a writer,' I stammered. Even I didn't believe it when I said it.

When you've got kids, writing becomes an impossible dream, unless you have an understanding spouse with an inheritance, a large family or an army of helpers. There's no way you can write a synopsis for that elusive bestseller when you've got a chimp hanging off you bollocking on about Balamory. Sitting around making things up seems like a ridiculous indulgence, especially if there's no cash guaranteed at the end of it. You also need time. Lots and lots of time. Time to examine your metaphorical belly button fluff. Time to let your mind unspool, like the multicoloured wheel of doom on your laptop. Time to sit on a park bench and cry and share a bottle of White Lightning with a man called Nobby.

But maybe time's on my side. The other day I registered my son for school. It was a weird feeling. Part of me was sad. Part of me was yelling 'YEAH! BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 9 AND 3 I CAN DO ONLINE GAMBLING AND WATCH REPEATS OF COACH TRIP!'. One thing's for sure - once he's at school I'm going to have to either write myself out of poverty, or get that job at Cheeseworld. (Or both.) So I've had some ideas and I'm writing them down and I'm going to get back to number #19,567,983 on Amazon if it kills me. And if that doesn't work, I'm going to become a plumber.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In 2012, I will drive my family into a wall.

Is it 2012? *checks Busy Mum Calendar with laminated pockets, cutesy font and the inevitable bird on it*. Yes, it is. In that case, my new year's resolutions are as follows:

1. Be the best I can be. At eating.
2. Get more sleep.
3. Write a novel.
4. Learn to drive.
5. Learn basic Romanian in order to converse with husband's family
6. Become a rock star, finally.

Although learning basic Romanian will not be easy (Este ca o rapita in buzunar sau esti multumit doar sa ma vada?*) the thing that scares me most on this list is learning to drive. I'm 40 this year and my inability to drive is becoming more and more shameful. If I'm going to be a fully functioning mother, then surely I have to be able to command a large vehicle and park it on the ziggzaggy bit outside school, narrowly avoiding the shins of the lollipop lady. I'm going to have to drive to the houses of my son's friends to pick him up after an evening of looking at www.bigjugz.com. And I need to take my tank to the supermarket, load it up with huge packs of toilet roll and crates of wine, then crash it into a bollard. To be a grown up mum - a proper capable mum - I need to know how to drive. I will also require two bumper stickers - one with 'Mum's Taxi' on it, and the other bearing the legend: 'MY OTHER CAR IS A BROOMSTICK'. Isn't that the idea?

But the whole thing gives me sweaty palms and a mouth like furry dice. By learning to drive, I believe that I'm technically signing up to murder my family in the grizzliest manner possible. I have no spatial awareness and I get my jumper caught on door handles. I've never had any sense of left and right. And I'm very easily distracted. To sign my name on a provisional licence may be akin to signing my own death sentence.

Then again, you see some major eejits driving cars - people who need a lie down after choosing their lottery numbers. That should make me feel better, but it only makes it all worse. Even if I'm the best driver in the world, the Jensen Button of Sainsbury's car park, I still might bump into a four wheeled lunatic. This seems like too much of a risk to take, especially as I will be one of those drivers who has to switch off Ken Bruce's Popmaster in case a particularly tricky question about ELO sends me careening into the central reservation.

The other thing I've failed to tell my husband, who is ever hopeful that I'll drive his sorry arse home after a night on the booze, is that I have absolutely no interest in it. I would rather learn how tripe is made, or visit a factory that makes paperclips. Hell, I would rather learn Romanian. And as they say in the motherland, 'Nu ti-a pus lingura intr-un cazan care nu se fierbe ai.'**

* Is that a turnip in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
** do not put your spoon into the pot which does not boil for you