Archive for January, 2009

31
Jan
09

Still looking for the G-Spot? Here’s why you can’t find it

Like Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster, scientists are now telling us that the G-Spot doesn’t exist.

This must come as welcome news to anyone for whom searching for the elusive G-Spot has always been, for want of a better phrase, a wild stab in the dark.

Scientists working at the University of Sheffield have revealed there is no evidence to support the existence of the G-Spot which was ‘discovered’ by German gynaecologist Dr Ernst Grafenberg decades ago. My, that must have been a popular degree course.

I always thought a woman’s ‘seat of pleasure’ was a chair positioned in front of The Wire season three, but according to Dr Grafenberg, it’s actually a tiny, nerve-packed area offering a sexual punch second to none.

The search for the G-Spot has been similar to that for the Holy Grail, Noah’s Ark or the key to the shed which was last seen in 1993 near the broken umbrella in the hall; pointless, time-consuming and ultimately fruitless.

Generally, heterosexual men fall into one of three camps – those who pride themselves on being the embodiment of The Joy of Sex, those who read Cosmopolitan once  and think this qualifies them to know what women want and those who believe pleasuring a woman involves buying her a new vacuum cleaner.

The first group will not let you leave their room of seduction until your G-Spot has been found and pinpointed on an exact map of your body which they have covered in highlighter pen and plastered with Post-It notes. Damn it, you are going to ENJOY this sex. Right now!

Youre not leaving until I find out which one of these is your G-Spot

You're not leaving until I find out which one of these is your G-Spot

In fact, this may be how the myth of the G-Spot emerged in the first place.

Bored into a state of almost catatonic compliance, Dr Ernst’s wife suddenly realised that if she pretended he’d hit the internal jackpot then she might be able to go back downstairs and have a nice cup of tea and a piece of shortbread. Little did she realise that she’d condemned the rest of womankind to a lifetime of fruitless excavation with the sexual allure of a smear test.

Group two are by far the most common of the three – during the honeymoon period of your relationship, the bit where you still find the fact they trim their toenails with their teeth alluring, they might make a couple of attempts to get out the compass and ruler to make a cursory search for your ‘seat of pleasure’. Then, showing great common sense, they will give up.

The third category of men would probably gnaw off their left leg before they did anything other than recreate the sex scenes in the BBC’s Walking With Cavemen series. Foreplay for them involves clubbing women over the head and dragging them back to their pile of skins.

Surely for all those smug couples who claim that on the night they discovered the G-Spot a chorus of angels appeared towing a rainbow over the bed, the news that they’ve been getting worked up over an imaginary erogenous zone must come as a bit of a blow.

Personally, I find it hard to get too upset at the G-Spot’s demise, because you can’t miss what you never had, or that no one ever found, or, indeed, bothered to look for with any degree of enthusiasm.

In my experience, the men I have encountered along life’s highways and byways find it difficult enough to find  a huge pack of nappies in a  supermarket; their chances of finding a minute spot of questionable existence without benefit of large signs, helpful assistants and a tannoy system is negligible at best.

By widening the search to a G-Zone, scientists have offered men a fighting chance of being in the right area. Had they broadened the field to “somewhere below the neck and above the knees” it would have been even better.

So the G-Spot is lost, possibly forever. Although of course, you know what will happen now, you spend forever searching for something and then it just turns up when you’re least expecting it. Probably down the back of the sofa.

* The Woman in Black apologises for her two-day absence. The ‘G-Spot Workshop’ took somewhat longer than she had anticipated.

28
Jan
09

Madonna – those pre-airbrush pictures in full

Madonna is on the warpath after discovering that unflattering photographs of her Hard Candy pre-airbrushed album artwork have been leaked to the press.

Seeing as this is a woman who launches legal action if her children’s hands aren’t disinfected every half hour, one can only imagine how put out she might feel to discover that people no longer believe she stopped ageing in 1984.

Excellent! Just two more to go!

Macbeth casting director: "Excellent! Just two more to go!"

Post-airbrushing, she looks vaguely more humanoid.

This isnt sweat, its Kaballah water

There's a definite nipple slip here, Madge.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sample of a ruinously expensive and ludicrous new perfume that I think might temporarily solve Madonna’s problems with the natural ageing process and enable her to resist wearing clothes that would make a teenager look like mutton dressed as lamb.

Ageless Fantasy is an anti-ageing perfume which has been created in order to knock at least eight years off your age. Put the bottle down, Madonna, drinking it won’t improve its results. Billed as ‘the essence of youth’, it smells of citrus fruits, mangos and pomegranate; a bit like the popular drink-in-a-carton Um Bongo, in other words, but around £164.61 more expensive.

Apparently, scientists have concluded that in particular, the scent of pink grapefruits on a woman can give her an impression of youth. Just imagine, therefore, how young people would think you were if you hollowed out three or four and wore them as a citrus bikini and a jaunty hat. I suggest you try it forthwith.

The concept works on the basis that people, men in particular, associate certain scents with certain ages and can therefore be fooled into thinking women are younger if they detect a ‘youthful scent’ around them.

Women are slightly harder to trick. We associate the ‘youthful scent’ of a younger man with a great deal of cloying Lynx worn in lieu of bathing, or of a pervasive aroma of wet trainers, four-day-old polyester school shirts and egg sandwich-flecked bum fluff.

Even given the superior olfactory know-how of women, the only way I can imagine Ageless Fantasy really working is if you spray your date in the eyes with the perfume as soon as he arrives to pick you up.

Then, like Cinderella waiting for midnight, you’ll have to keep watching your man until the blinding effect starts to wear off at which point give it to him with both barrels with as many blasts as it takes for him to agree that you look as if you’re only 22.

Because I have a magic portrait ageing on my behalf in the attic (I’m actually 83), I don’t need gimmicks or trinkets to help me look any younger or more desirable, and any lurking persistently around the tropical fruit section at supermarkets is, I promise, purely incidental. I kept the sample, though. At the very least it means I can definitely keep going on the Club 18-30 holidays I so enjoy.

27
Jan
09

The woman in black has scarlet fever – finally, some colour in my life

“We don’t want to worry you, but there have been several diagnosed cases of scarlet fever in year three…”

This letter narrowly pips last year’s missive about the strange man hanging around the lower playground with a camera during PE lessons (turned out he was a bird spotter, although that’s what I’d say if I was a paedophile in hiding) to the post in terms of the worry factor.

The woman in black felt slightly overdressed for the school run

The woman in black felt slightly overdressed for the school run

Generally, I ignore all letters that arrive home from school, or at the very least I try very hard to. The last time I did look at one, it was three sheets of A4 instructing parents how to make an exact replica Tudor costume for seven-year-olds. Just who is at school? The children, or me? My delicate ego can barely afford further shame on the scale of what I will only refer to as: The Egyptian Servant Costume Debacle.

Letters from school serve only three purposes: to chastise (‘there have been several cases of headlice in school – have YOU been checking your child’s hair?’), to beg (‘there are still plenty of spaces left for parents to sign up for a stall at the Country Fair!’) or to extort (‘the school trip this year is to Saturn. Please send your first installment of £12,053,021 to the office by Tuesday morning’).

I cling to the hope that if I ignore things for long enough, they will go away. This is a policy which has let me down very badly in the past.

Scarlet fever, however, cannot be ignored. I have tonsils like golf balls, a tongue like raw beef and a rash that renders me even more loathsome to the eye than usual. I am weak, weary and irritable. Those who know me might think this is no different to normal: they have yet to see the creeping plague over my shins and wrists.

I may take to my bed. Inform the emergency services if you hear nothing for more than 24 hours – or at least whip me up a Tudor costume, it’s ‘History Alive!’ day at school next week, and I have a feeling Tudors didn’t wear Darth Vader outfits. Boring, madrigal-obsessed bastards that they were.

26
Jan
09

Have you got bird flu? Here are the symptoms

There I was, all smugly bored about bird flu, looking forward to panicking about something new and exciting, like the credit crunch, and what happens? Six new cases of bird flu have been confirmed in China and suddenly we’re all watching the skies again.

For the past two years, the papers have been filled to the brim with stories about bird flu which, we were told, would single-handedly wipe out half the population, like the Black Death with wings, feathers and really horrible, scaly feet.

Suddenly, birds were our enemies. We used to marvel at the timeless grace of a flock of swans sweeping across the sky but overnight they became the advance guard of the Armageddon.

If you found a dead bird, the only decent thing to do was to shoot yourself in the head to avoid infecting your children, pausing only to set all your clothes and belongings on fire to prevent the virus spreading.

Then, of course, nothing happened, other than the death of one swan in a Scottish village. By Christmas 2007, we’d even put away the staff shotgun which we used during lunch hours and tea breaks to pick off passing birds we didn’t like the look of.

I don’t mean to sound like a cynical old goat, but I have to confess that I was beginning to believe that the whole thing had been blown out of all proportion. I mean, how many times can Britain come to the brink of catastrophic destruction and escape unscathed? This is the UK, not Die Hard 2.

Just when I’d let my defences down, made myself a cup of tea and was preparing to have a nice afternoon panicking about global warming, the news broke that an outbreak of bird flu had been confirmed in the far east (by which I mean the orient, not Norfolk).

If you ask me, we should have been better prepared: birds have been showing signs of insurgence for years.

Seagulls, for example, started acting up in 2004. Thanks to rising obesity levels – particularly amongst those who holiday in our less salubrious coastal resorts – there was no longer a constant supply of fish and chip leftovers for the gulls to polish off. Unwilling to spend days at sea hunting for fish which wouldn’t come in batter or with a side-serving of mushy peas, they headed for the bright lights and burger bars of the cities.

But the greedy gulls didn’t stop at ransacking bins. Soon they started concentrating on the diner, rather than the dinner.

In London, Brighton and Scotland gulls attacked people in the street, swooping at 40mph, their cruel beaks filled with the scent of what cannibals  refer to as long pig. In Wales, they even managed to kill a man – we can’t say Hitchcock didn’t warn us.

Peter Rock, Britain’s leading gull expert (as opposed to all those other gull charlatans) has warned the gull population will be “monstrous” by 2014 and that soon we will all be living indoors and hiding in the shadows to avoid becoming the latest victim of a fly-by killing.

I paraphrase only slightly.

“If they swoop, it’s death,” Mr Rock reassured us all, “in order to shoot the lot, you’d need an army”.

I know where you live

I know where you live

There are only five years to go until seagulls outnumber humans and we are all answering to our feathered masters, although to be fair, half of us will have died after contracting bird flu, so it’s not as bad as it could have been.

While I expect all of you have already assembled a well-stocked “bird flu pantry”, crammed with bottled water, tinned tuna and gold bars (for when civil unrest causes the collapse of all banks, as opposed to the recession), it is important that we are all able to recognize the signs of bird flu in humans.

They are, handily, pretty much the same symptoms you’d expect to have for every other common illness.

Look out for a high fever, chest congestion, nausea, fatigue and aching in the joints. And if you suddenly have an irresistible urge to empty your bowels over a freshly-washed windscreen, don’t hesitate: dial 999.

25
Jan
09

Why the woman in black wears bright red knickers

I used to wear black on the outside because it was how I felt on the inside, now I wear it in the vain hope that it will somehow disguise the fact that my backside is used by astronauts as a homing device when they return to Planet Earth.

When I say I’m the Woman in Black, I mean it. I am the only person I know to whom getting dressed in the dark holds no fear.

My only concession to colour is my underwear, which is brightly coloured. This was a tip from a women’s magazine I once read that advised you should always aim for an element of surprise with your outfit. My element of surprise is saved for the ambulance service in the eventuality they might need to cut off my clothes after a hideous accident or the lucky few (if Mum is reading) who have been allowed access to my inner chambers.

My pathological hatred of fashion or clothes shopping means that as soon as I find a garment I can bear, I instantly buy six identical garments and then rotate them until I find something new that I like. Due to this fact, I shunned trousers for 15 years because I was working my way through dozens of totally identical skirts.

Flagrantly ignoring the Bible’s warning – “woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man…for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” – I bought myself a pair of trousers and experienced a sense of liberation I had not felt since I discovered the mute button on my phone at work. I instantly went back to the shop and bought five identical pairs.

God’s vengeance was of no concern to me. I have seen the gentle BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley, I know that God allowed female clergy in Dibley to wear trousers without sending plagues of locusts or apocalyptic floods to punish their sins (more’s the pity).

For the first few days of trouser-wearing, I was irresistibly drawn towards sitting with my legs splayed like a leering uncle at a wedding and had to fight the urge to ostenatiously adjust myself whenever anyone was looking. And oh! the joy of being able to step out of my horseless carriage without showing even an inch of petticoat – I tell you ladies, I think these ‘trousers’ might catch on.

Having embraced a whole new world of sartorial possibility, it seemed time to readdress my hatred of fashion and give it a second chance. I was not far into my search for inspiration when I found this crock of shit from celebrated Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.

The police's new community support officers weren't entirely happy with their new uniform

I know I have been away for a long time, locked into a clothes hell of my own making, but is this really what the young people are wearing these days? Just look at those buffoons in the background; it’s like a New Order video for the colour blind. And then there’s this:

As Jared walked down the runway, he couldn't help wondering: how had it all gone so terribly wrong.

This is the kind of coat that the kids with fleas wore at my high school. At best, you could say the coathanger hat might come in handy if you needed to pop into the dry cleaners and didn’t have a spare hand to carry your freshly-laundered smoking jacket home, at worst, well, is absolutely everything else.

I need no further proof that black is the way forward. My calculations show that I need not shop for clothes again until 2012.

24
Jan
09

C4 commissions a new reality TV show based up someone’s rectum?

Hooray for the Government which this month is rolling out its ambitious project to encourage patients to treat themselves.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson believes that hospitals can drive down costs by putting the Expert Patient Programme in place, which involves patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis and arthritis learning how to treat themselves.

Just to clarify, by “treat themselves”, the Government is talking in medical terms. They’re not proposing offering people lessons on how to buy themselves a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates or a ready meal from Marks and Spencer.

And “Expert Patients” aren’t people who have a never-ending supply of dressing gowns, slippers, pyjamas and weak orange squash by their bedside, either: they’re well-informed individuals who know a great deal about their condition and how to treat it (there is, of course, a thin line between “well-informed” and “smart arse with a sheaf of print-outs from the internet”. If you’re going to be a know-all, please don’t feel the need to go and see your GP to boast about it. Stay at home and be ill in silence).

According to the Department of Health, in hospitals where the programme has been tested, patient visits have been reduced by almost 20 per cent. What the figures don’t reveal is if the morgues have been almost 20 per cent busier, but that’s New Labour for you.

The Government has finally realised that hospital doctors are far too busy dealing with NHS red tape to see ill people, especially boring ill people who’ve STILL got the same thing wrong with them that they had 20 years ago.

Treating people who don’t get better is just so damnably depressing.

And it’s not just these chronically ill time-wasters who are hampering the NHS – in the olden days, euthanasia was practically mandatory if you’d had a cough for more than three days. Today you even have to keep old people alive – it’s political correctness gone mad.

The health department has high hopes that when the programme is successfully rolled out across the entire country, no one will ever need to go to hospital again, meaning that doctors can spend their days concentrating on more important matters such as playing golf, sunbathing in the Bahamas and window-shopping for Land Rover Discoveries.

The DoH is keen to put an end to the “handout culture” that pervades the NHS and sees patients given “what they want, when they want”. It’s time those pesky asthmatics and diabetics learn that inhalers and insulin don’t grow on trees.

If it’s cost-cutting they’re after, the NHS could do worse than show potentially chronically ill patients (those who visit their GP more than twice a year) back-to-back episodes of Casualty and Holby City, which illustrate just how much of a downer it is to be ill in a state-run hospital.

Casualty used to be an almost-factual representation of what happened in a busy accident and emergency unit – now the staff spend half their time avoiding being trapped down mine shafts/in bomb-struck trains/under collapsing bridges and the other half either sleeping with a consultant or going bananas and being hauled in front of disciplinary committees about their conduct/that patient they killed.

Everyone on the ward has a life story they could flog to Take A Break and every operation involves the insertion of a microscopic camera into an orifice, even if the patient is just having a piece of glass removed from their toe.

On this note, with all those camera crews already in situ, it’s a wonder that Channel 4 hasn’t commissioned a reality TV show based up someone’s rectum or inside their urethra. Perhaps they already have – it couldn’t be worse than Celebrity Big Brother.

Watching Casualty or Holby City is like sitting through an elongated party political broadcast by a private healthcare provider. As the credits roll at the end of every episode, you’re resolving never to go into hospital again unless you’re on a trolley with a tag on your toe heading for the fridges.

When it comes to medicine in the old doctor-patient relationship, I’m kind of banking on the doctor knowing more than I do about what’s wrong with me: after all, one of us went to university to study medicine for seven years and the other one passes out if anyone so much as mentions eye operations.

You have to wonder what else is in the NHS pipeline.

The introduction of DIY surgery kits? Incentives for people to try and die early from diseases which don’t require any medication? Or perhaps grants for the long-term sick to cut out the middle man, schedule a relaxing holiday in Switzerland and come back in a six foot by three foot casket. Preferably before they blow too much cash on prescription morphine.

23
Jan
09

A talking vibrator – every shade of wrong in the sex toy rainbow

One Valentine’s Day, a friend of mine was given a ‘Talk To Me’ vibrator by a paramour keen to demonstrate his sexual liberation. As all ladies are aware, nothing says: “I love you” like being palmed off with a piece of plastic and then being expected to go away and make it work ourselves. You might as well just give us a dustpan and brush or a washing up brush and be done with it.

The vibrator had a heart-shaped controller with record and play facilities meaning it could be pre-programmed with a message that would play at seminal (so the wrong word) moments to “heighten the excitement”. Or cause you to make an ultimately very shaming phone call to the police, one of the two.

For those without any imagination whatsoever, the vibrator’s manufacturers made the following suggestions for appropriate phrases you could record for your loved one, such as “I love you baby” or “ooh honey, you look so hot”.

More terrifying than childbirth

More terrifying than childbirth

However, as figures reveal that most women buy their own vibrators, there’s more than an outside possibility that the only voice you could persuade to leave racy messages on a sex toy is your own, and when I last checked, leaving yourself dirty voicemail was as socially acceptable as wearing a hollowed-out baby seal as a hat.

I suppose, though, that for authenticity’s sake, you could record yourself saying out loud the things you might be thinking if you were with a flesh and blood partner: “have you put the bins out?” or “did I remember to tell you that your mother called? She’s checked herself into rehab again”.

Or maybe you could record your favourite celebrity from the television. Noel Edmonds on Deal or No Deal, perhaps (cockney rhyming slang joke: “It’s the banker!”) or maybe the music from CrimeWatch to perk yourself up a bit.

You could try and teach yourself a foreign language. Or remind yourself to pick up the dry cleaning – we women are adept at multi-tasking, I see no reason why we can’t make our orgasms really WORK for us.

By the way, the message left for my friend (and yes, it was a friend. Or was it a friend of a friend? Or was it a dream? I must move away from the photocopier) got somewhat lost in translation.

Rather muffled while in use, she thought it said: “I’d love a cup of tea” when in fact it said something about loving her cu…I’ll leave it there. I have young children and every time I curse a fairy dies. Or something.

22
Jan
09

PE knickers and the newest way to skive school – get so fat you can’t fit under a desk

School children have come up with a cunning new way to skive lessons – they’re becoming too fat to fit under their desks.

According to a policy commission on the future of education, standard school furniture is based on measurements made in the 1960s when children were smaller and thinner. New research suggests that the average height of children has increased at the rate of 1cm a decade, with the majority of growth in the lower leg, and that the prevalence of obesity among pupils has risen from around five per cent in 1985 to 15 per cent in 2008.

Positively anorexic in comparison to schoolchildren in 2009

Positively anorexic in comparison to schoolchildren in 2009

I’m not sure about you, but when I read those figures I’m not worrying about school furniture, I’m worrying about 1,000 years hence, when all our children will have lower legs that are a full metre longer than they are today.

They’ll look like grasshoppers. Finding them a pair of trousers or some wellies that fit will be even more of a nightmare than it is now.

Additionally, if the obesity crisis continues rising at its current pace, those spindly lower legs aren’t going to be of any use whatsoever – the first time children stand up they’ll buckle under their own gigantic weight and need to be wheeled around on giant skateboards for life. Thank God I’ll be dead by then.

According to studies, unless schools start ‘going large’ with their school furniture orders, children’s schoolwork could suffer as back pain distracts their attention and causes absence from school.

We may not have had an over-sized obesity problem at my high school, but we did have more than our fair share of those freakish early-developers who reach puberty at six and look like 45-year-olds by the time they’re 12, and they managed to fit under the desks.

As for myself, I certainly wasn’t overweight at school, although I may have been slightly under-height for my weight.

But even at my lowest height, ahem, I could still fit under a school desk and have room for a copy of Jackie magazine to read during geography, particularly when we were learning about the import and export trade in Nigeria (a subject as relevant to my life then as it is now, ie not at all).

Maintaining a healthy weight in those days meant not being so fat that your thighs persistently rubbed against the chewing gum left on the bottom of the desk by its previous occupant. These days it means being slender enough not to require being washed with a rag on a stick.

Namby-pamby excuses about desks and bad backs would have been met with hollow laughter and a month of lunchtime detentions in the lair of the terrifying bearded maths teacher whose hatred of young people was considered a bonus, rather than an impediment, to his teaching career.

It practically took the production of a death certificate to get you out of PE lessons, let alone ordinary lessons, and even if you had that, you’d still be expected to carry the netball bibs, keep score and apply pressure to wounds when required.

Forget about small desks and chairs causing backache, the PE knickers at my school in the late 1980s caused the kind of injuries to one’s self esteem from which many, including me, never truly recovered.
Even the good-looking twig-legged girls struggled in those monstrosities, so for those of us who had nice personalities and arses so large they had their own gravitational pull and corresponding solar system, the knickers were an appallingly unsubtle form of torture.

Quite why fostering team spirit amongst people that, on the whole, you probably wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire was considered edifying is anyone’s guess.

More to the point, why that fostering had to be done while wearing a huge pair of pants made from  an exotic blend of manmade fibres – one stray spark during hockey practice and the entire school could have been blown sky-high – also remains at issue.

Skiving PE, unless you were a future Oscar winner, was difficult, but avoiding communal showering was attainable with that classic Get Out Of Jail Free card – your period (unless you were a boy, when it was less likely to work unless you were dealing with one of the foreign student teachers).

There were many girls in my class who appeared to defy biology and have their period every single week of the month in order to evade the showers, but it was when it came to  swimming that the menstrual situation got really out of hand.

In the end, we needed a letter from our parents to prove the painters were in – teachers rightly feared a situation where only one student ended up in the pool, the pregnant one from the fourth year who realised the period excuse was out of bounds for at least nine months.

Come to think of it, even she could get behind a school desk. Just how big are kids these days? Should I be saving up for a winch for when my children hit puberty?

I think all this trouble began when they got rid of the nit nurses.

21
Jan
09

Five most repulsive Valentine’s Day gifts from The 99p Shop

Money can’t buy you love – never has this phrase been so apt than when browsing the Valentine’s Day section at The 99p Shop. There, not only can money not buy you love, it probably can’t even buy you anything more than a withering glare and your marching orders.

I am not a rampant materialist. If money is too tight to mention, be inventive. Cut your loved one’s morning toast into heart shapes. Run them a bath. Give them the Findus Crispy Pancake that hasn’t exploded in the oven. Carve their initials into your flesh with a plastic set square. Just don’t get them one of these:

1) The Friendship Vase. Perhaps you’ve only just snared the object of your affection and don’t want to frighten them off by delivering a bouquet of roses made from your own hair and teeth, maybe you want to give a gift that says: ‘I want to make it clear that I haven’t committed to you yet’ or maybe you just don’t give a damn. Whatever the reason, nothing shows a special friend just how much they mean to you like a 99p vase holding a lurid blue plastic flower, except perhaps a fist in the face.

The vase that says...back off

The vase that says...back off

2) Yellow, purple and pink nylon knickers. Who says you can’t get sexy lingerie for 99p? I do. If you get a woman into these knickers, refrain from all heavy petting if you are within 25ft of a naked flame, are wearing a shell suit or have had a pacemaker fitted.

Also known as 'the firelighters'

This is not my arm. I am the woman in black

3) Kiss Here Posing Pouch (pube-free crotch not included): will only work if you administer a shot of Rophypnol 20 minutes before you slip into them, and then it’s still only a 50:50 chance of success. Even the catatonic have standards.

Contents may vary

Contents may vary

4) Bonsai garden: the art of bonsai is one that requires hours of study and dedication, an eye for detail and a delicate, deft touch. Alternatively, you could forget all that shit and get yourself a plastic bonsai tree for less than a quid – and who’ll tell the difference, apart from absolutely everybody? Included in the price is a mystic figure, who blows ancient wisdom from his preposterously large anus.

Morph had been comfort eating again

Morph had been comfort eating again

5) Inflatable Boob Pillow: Perfect for the partner who continually puts you down about the size of your breasts, for any fans of BBC3’s Grown Ups/Clone/Coming of Age (who will consider this an ‘intellectual’ gag in comparison) or as a bridging gift when you can’t quite afford to give her the boob job you’ve coerced her into agreeing to.

We're leading separate lives

We're leading separate lives

The worst Valentine’s Day present I ever received was glandular fever. But that’s another story. What’s the least romantic gift you’ve ever been given? The best answer doesn’t get the bonsai garden in the post.

19
Jan
09

Heston Blumenthal puts wizard tongue on the Little Chef menu – five reasons why Little Chef kicked the Happy Eater’s arse

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve popped into Little Chef to break up a long car journey and rued the fact there was no lamb thyroid hot pot with oysters or smoked salmon and scrambled egg cooked in a bag full of Lapsang Souchong tea on the menu.

Last night’s Big Chef meets Little Chef on Channel 4 saw the struggling roadside chain employ mad-cap kitchen boffin Heston Blumenthal to revolutionise its menu and employ “blue sky thinking” and “taste explosions” all within a budget of £6 per head. Predictably, Blumenthal’s ideas were so mesmerisingly insane that no one in their right mind, even Little Chef customers, wanted to eat them. They just wanted the Olympic Breakfast. Or the teacake. And then the lolly.

Let me nail my colours to the mast: I love Little Chef. Without it, the world would be a darker place, especially on the A11 at Attleborough in Norfolk, where its fluorescent lighting is the only sign of human habitation for around 15 miles.

Although concerned to hear of the chain’s plight, I am quietly confident that Little Chef will survive. After all, he already saw off the Happy Eater and sent its deeply disturbing mascot (a livid red, dead-eyed Pacman-like creature) packing in 1995.

Even without the logos, you could tell your Happy Eaters from your Little Chefs by the presence of pollution-caked play equipment bolted to a piece of unforgiving tarmac outside the former. It was here that your kids could choke down the passing fumes of 10 billion lorries while you ate the very antithesis of a good meal.

Little Chef, on the other hand, needed no such gimmicks.

If you were lucky, you got a picture and some stubby germ-laden crayons with which to colour it in – today, the illustration of the Little Chef is probably the kind of thing children are asked to look at before embarking on The Jamie Oliver Experience (a school lesson parents pay for in order for their kids not to eat some vegetables) to see what happens to you if you keep eating Turkey Twizzlers.

A visit to Little Chef was the highlight of any long journey by car, a time when you could sit and argue with your family in comfort and marvel at the strange things on sale in the ladies toilets (chewable toothbrushes, chocolate condoms and once, memorably, a china thimble – don’t tell Heston, he’ll freeze dry the lot and have it on the menu by dinnertime).

I once had a boyfriend who – and for once I’m not lying – took me to a Little Chef for a meal on Valentine’s Day. He requested a table by the window where we gazed out on a sea of traffic, an electricity pylon and some trees stripped to the bark by pollution while we ate fried things – it was like a BBC Four documentary or a Mike Leigh film.

We are no longer together.

But I digress. There are manifold reasons why Little Chef is fantastic, and here are but five of them:

1) When it opened in the 1950s, Little Chef boasted the first ever celebrity bulimic – a mascot/logo of an obese chef with two fingers pointing towards his throat, possibly a nod to the incredibly close proximity of the toilets to the restaurant {It has been pointed out to me by the sharp-eyed Becky that, in fact, the retching logo did, in fact, belong to Happy Eater. Little Chef is an obese man holding plates. My bad}

2) For a while, Little Chef was the only mainstream restaurant to offer a vegetarian burger which didn’t look and taste as if it had been harvested from a vomiting drunk outside a public house. Sadly, the burger’s life on the menu was cut cruelly short, but I have a long memory. Ah, happy days.

3) Most restaurants are wi-fi hotspots, whatever that means. This appears to encourage ashen-faced, heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen in suits and ties to set up their laptops while they consume an Olympic Breakfast, resulting in lots of hilarious “yolk on the keyboard” incidents. It’s the roadside equivalent of having a pianist in the dining room.

4) They don’t tell you when you can eat breakfast, in fact they positively encourage you to eat breakfast at 9pm despite the fact that IT’S NEARLY TIME FOR BED. Such disdain for traditional values and conventions puts so-called cookery rebels like Gordon Ramsey to shame.

5) Forget the loaf and the fish, a teacake from Little Chef could easily feed a party of 5,000, with seconds.

When I went to Little Chef, I used to order the Jubilee Pancake and steal the free copy of The Daily Express.




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