Archive for the 'women' Category

21
Jan
11

‘SHAKESPIER U R GAY ROFL’ and other attempts to bring culture to teenagers

If youth is wasted on the young, taking them to watch Shakespeare at the theatre is like escorting a warthog to the opera.

Expecting teenagers to appreciate the glory of the Bard is misty-eyed lunacy which should only really be tolerated in freshly qualified English teachers who haven’t yet had every drop of enthusiasm wrung from their exhausted bodies (ones who haven’t actually taught yet, in other words).

Teenagers hate Shakespeare because he didn’t have a great deal to say about N-Dubz’ latest single or Justin Bieber’s asymmetrical fringe. The only good thing about Shakespeare when you’re doing GCSEs is that he’s not Chaucer.

Aware of the general apathy about one of our country’s greatest exports (second only to Marmite and horse brasses) teachers have apparently been besieging theatre companies and begging them to make Shakespeare more accessible to the youth of today.

Initial plans to hand out tenners after each act to anyone still awake stumbled at the first hurdle when the cast realised they stood to lose at least £30 per performance.

Theatre companies have tried the lot: they’ve incorporated mobile phones and Jeremy Kyle-style roving microphones into Much Ado About Nothing, they’ve used puppets instead of actors (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: if I was a puppet, I’d do the decent thing and throw myself on the nearest fire) and they’ve even tried performing entire plays in text speak.

I never trust anyone that tries to update Shakespeare for the kids. Give them an inch and they’ll be setting Pride and Prejudice to some hard house beats or approaching Peppa Pig to present Milton’s Lost Paradise in a bubble wrap bikini.

That said, there is great comedic value in watching theatre companies valiantly try to make the Bard ‘relevant’ to the youth of today – especially when those attempts include interaction.

I remember hearing about one Shakespeare performance where the cast encouraged teenagers to text their questions about England’s literary treasure to a big screen that projected them to the rest of the room. The texts would, the programme promised, ‘affect the performance’.

Around five per cent of the audience sent pertinent questions about Shakespeare’s imagery and motivation, the other 95 per cent texted: ‘SHAKESPIER U R GAY ROFL’ or some similar permutation.

The texts did indeed ‘affect the performance’, halting the text facility within 10 minutes of the first act.

In the 1600s, the height of modernity was going to the toilet in a bucket rather than simply sticking your backside out of a window.

Anyone attempting to “interact” with the performers at the theatre would have been stoned to death in the interval. Suggesting that one day people might be able to send messages to each other through the air without strapping a scroll to a pigeon would have led to a witch hunt and a subsequent barbecuing on the village green.

When I was at school I attended an avant-garde (longhand for ‘crap’) production of Richard III which was set in the Second World War and had the eponymous Richard dressed as if he were Hitler.

The novelty value of seeing Richard III with a toothbrush moustache lasted for around four minutes. The play lasted for four-and-a-half hours – it was like watching Dad’s Army: The Needlessly Aggressive Years on a continual loop.

All the above is a lengthy preamble to the latest misfortune to strike the house of WIB: my daughter has been told that she faces Shakespeare in her English lessons soon and has reacted with the same enthusiasm I’d expect her to show for deep root canal work.

My fridge poetry is better than Chaucer. Fact.

My fridge poetry is better than Chaucer. Fact.

Of course, I’ve droned my way through the timeworn ‘Shakespeare is good, honest’ excuses, but none of them will wash if they throw her in at the deep end with something impenetrably dull like Julius Caesar.

Introducing children to Shakespeare with Julius Caesar is like introducing someone to rock music by playing them Marillion instead of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.

You can promise them that things are going to get better, but by that stage, Caesar or Marillion will have put them off for life.

So I’m changing my tack and trying to present Shakespeare to my daughter in a modern way that won’t alienate her before she’s appreciated the joy of the Shakespeare plays that aren’t really dull. That 17th century version of Taggart, for example.

I’m going to channel the Inbetweeners and tell her that Shakespeare is a short cut to hundreds of Elizabethan slang words for reproductive organs and bodily functions and that pages of windbagging ‘thines’ and ‘wouldsts’ is compensated for by whole sections of ‘Gadzooks, M’Lady, canst I squint at thy chuff?’ comedy gold.

The great genius of Shakespeare, I will tell her, is his mastery of the English language, his artist’s eye for detail and his unfailing ability to slip a willy joke into absolutely any situation.

If that doesn’t do it, I’ll threaten her with Geoffrey Chaucer. Now he really was, in the words of Shakespeare, a total poperin pear.

* I have a new fridge since that picture was taken. It seemed more sensible than trying to clean it.

19
Jul
10

Why ‘Girl Power!’ makes me want to climb into a microwave oven with a pocketful of spoons.

News that The Spice Girls are planning a West End musical is a bit like receiving notification in the post that you’re due for a smear test.

You’ve known it’s been on the cards for a while, you haven’t been looking forward to it, but if you just grit your teeth and get on with it, hopefully the pain will be short-lived.

After their disastrous reunion in 2007, Our Ladies of the Hideously Unsuccessful Solo Careers have announced they are ‘brainstorming’ with Mamma Mia! Producer Judy Craymer to create Viva Forever: The Story of the Spice Girls.

Brainstorming with the Spice Girls: there’s a concept.

On the plus side, the working title of the musical isn’t “Girl Power”, a phrase I loathe so completely that when I heard it on Britain’s Got Talent a month or two ago, I had to fight the urge to gouge out my ear canals with a pair of nail scissors so I would never hear it again.

For those of you who might have forgotten, Girl Power involves turning a blind eye to your husband’s infidelities, having eye-wateringly extreme eating disorders which include rooting around in George Michael’s bin for leftovers and hiring witch doctors to perform love spells involving Eddie Murphy’s pants and a pickle jar.

Victoria Beckham's figure is the envy of the world

The Spice Girls tirelessly fought for a woman’s right to wear microscopic hotpants and halter-neck tops – think Emmeline Pankhurst if she’d dolled herself up a bit and stopped banging on about politics.

They sang one feminist-lite song about telling men what they really, really wanted and then stuck to beige love songs and choreographed dance routines – all of which served to make the male svengalis behind the band hugely wealthy. Girl Power!

With the launch of a musical, we can look forward to lots of personal appearances, photo calls and endless interviews about ‘empowerment’ and ‘friendship’.

Of the Spice Girls, only Mel C – dubbed ‘the ugly one’ back in 1996 – and Emma Bunton – ‘the fat one’ – look as if they don’t earn their money hanging around on street corners offering sailors saucy cuddles for a handful of grubby small change.

Indeed Mel C looks positively radiant next to Victoria Beckham, who resembles a Versace-clad preying mantis wearing an Andy Warhol wig and the rictus grin of a cadaver.

Mel B, once a terrifying harpy who looked as if she was only one misjudged comment away from glassing you in the face, now looks about as scary as a bowl of blancmange being gently agitated by Dickens’ Tiny Tim.

Mel B at the height of her sexual allure

One’s ability to terrify mankind diminishes somewhat when your public learn that you’ve tearfully demanded a DNA test from the Donkey in Shrek in order to prove he’s your daughter’s father and taken part in a ballroom dancing competition.

Geri Halliwell, meanwhile, remains the haunted shop mannequin we have grown to know and ignore, a talent vacuum who has completely refused to let a lack of any discernible ability prevent her from describing herself as ‘an entertainer’.

It’s this kind of plucky attitude which would have netted her the consolation prize for village idiots at school prize day for learning to put her clothes on the right way round after PE.

The Spice Girls’ ill-fated reunion was believed to be the result of Take That’s triumphant return to the charts some months beforehand.

What Victoria and clan conveniently ignored was that the secret behind the incredible success of Take That’s reunion and subsequent follow-up singles was due to the fact that the public were genuinely interested to see some old faces again.

Bar the odd appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, or news from my cousin in Manchester that Jason had joined her pilates class (apparently, he was hung like a donkey), we’d heard nothing of Gary, Howard, Mark and Mr Orange for years.

Since the Spice Girls went their separate ways, barely a day went by without at least one of them appearing on a reality show, judging a reality show, writing an autobiography, having a baby, failing to chart or being involved in a love triangle involving a footballer, a Hollywood actor and a woman who pleasures pigs on farms.

The Spice Girls didn’t so much split up, they dispersed.

Scary, Ginger, Baby, Sporty and Posh were what happened when you base your music career on an image and not talent, Take That were what happens when you let the fat one stay in the group because he can write good songs.

We can but hope that the musical is as successful as the world tour – not that that stopped them last time.

06
Sep
09

Women allowed to box at the Olympics? Next thing you know, they’ll allow us to vote

For years, women were denied the right to box in the Olympics on the grounds that pre-menstrual tension made us all ‘unstable’.

Now, the Olympic Committee has announced that women can compete in 2012 and have the same right as men to willingly open themselves up to brain injury, flat noses and black eyes: hooray for equality!

Personally, I’d have to be suffering from PMT 365 days of the year to even contemplate getting into a ring and punching the bejasus out of an opponent. And the opponent would have to be someone who I felt had wronged me: a snippy shop assistant, maybe, or someone who cut me up on a roundabout without raising a hand to say sorry.

I’d have thought that PMT would be an absolute bonus when you’re in a boxing ring, offering you the opportunity to channel all those ‘why is everyone getting at me? Why is life SO UNFAIR? Why is everything so totally and utterly SHIT?’ feelings into a series of mindlessly violent lobs and lunges.

In fact the only issues I can see being a problem are making sure your boxing matches are carefully timed to happen at the right moment during a 28-day window (my fights, bearing this in mind, would be on the first of every month. I could take down a rhino).

OK, I want a good, clean fight. No punching below the belt, no holding, no Kylie, you havent got time to have a kebab first

OK, I want a good, clean fight. No punching below the belt, no holding, no Kylie, you haven't got time to have a kebab first

Only 40 years ago, women were banned from taking part in marathons because the powers-that-be thought their wombs would fall out (no, really) because “of constant jarring”.

When it was proven that wombs didn’t fall out – although I’m fairly sure that if I ran a marathon mine would, along with my liver, lungs, heart and toenails – women were given the green light to compete, although it took until 1984 until they could participate in the marathon at the Olympics.

In 1896, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, described the concept of women participating in the games as: “impractical, uninteresting, ungainly and improper” (I wonder if he had access to a time machine and had watched me taking part in PE lessons at high school).

To this day, women are still barred from a whole range of Olympic sports – of seven track disciplines, women are only allowed to compete in three – so I suppose it’s a step forward that we’re now allowed to box. Even though boxing is really, really horrible and reminds me why I am a lover and not a fighter.

It’s because I’m a coward. And I paid good money for these teeth (please note, US readers – some Brits do have nice teeth. Sometimes they’re even our own).

15
Aug
09

Mix tapes – the lost art of trying to pull someone at school with a Memorex C90

It’s a terrifying 30 years since the Sony Walkman was introduced and music became portable in a way that didn’t alienate everyone within a 500m radius.

I didn’t have a Walkman 30 years ago, obviously, because they were ruinously expensive and I was only little – I simply didn’t have the strength to carry one.

They started to creep into my consciousness when I was at high school and a fellow student, one of the ones who always had the right coat, bag, shoes and highlights, brought a giant yellow Walkman on a school trip.

It was passed around the coach with the kind of reverence you might expect if you whipped out the Turin Shroud at a convent.

Despite being the size of the Yellow Pages and boasting the kind of sound quality that made listening to music underwater seem crystal clear, it represented an exciting, high-tech future.

Cliff Richard could make anything look cool (nb: leotard-wearing models did not come with standard Sony Walkmans)

Cliff Richard could make anything look cool (nb: leotard-wearing models did not come with standard Sony Walkmans)

Having only just persuaded my parents to buy one of those tinny made-for-teenagers ‘ghetto blasters’, I knew it would be a while before I could tap them up for a Walkman, or rather a Walkman equivalent available from my Mum’s home catalogue.

As archaic as it was, my own tape player had released me from the tyranny of my father, who was somewhat of a stereo Nazi, owning a set of hugely expensive ‘separates’ which made me the only person I knew who had to master a tuner and graphic equalisers before being able to put Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ on the turntable.

Everyone else’s Mum and Dad had a nice, simple Hinari or a Binatone stereo that could have been operated by an earthworm. Mine required tutorials from What Stereo? magazine before you felt confident enough to even switch it on.

On the plus side, my Dad’s technical fascism did mean that I made the most professional mix-tapes this side of the Western hemisphere.

He even taught me how to produce ‘quality silence’, a lost art these days, especially in cinema or theatre audiences when I’m in the auditorium.

In the good old days, if you made someone a mix-tape, it represented a fair chunk of your entire Sunday given over to faffing around with the record player and hovering over the pause button on the tape deck.

(I think, by the way, that that’s a contender for the most biddified, grey-haired, mobility-scooter riding sentence I’ve ever written.)

I would spend hour-upon-hour carefully working out an intricate play list that would fit on each side of a Memorex C90 without cutting Morrissey off midway through ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ or, more likely, Aha off during ‘Take On Me’.

Helped me to seduce older boys with cars and jobs. Although ye Gods, look at this picture. How many shades of wrong? And lets face it, teenage boys are pretty simple to seduce - I doubt I needed Aha: a pulse was enough.

Helped me to seduce older boys with cars and jobs. Although ye Gods, look at this picture. How many shades of wrong? And let's face it, teenage boys are pretty simple to seduce - I doubt I needed Aha: a pulse was enough.

It could easily take eight hours to make one 90-minute tape. An hour of which would be spent making ‘quality silence’ (also known as ‘sulking’ if my Dad was still lurking around trying to be ‘helpful’).

Each tape was compiled with the recipient in mind or, less nobly, as a blatant attempt to persuade the recipient to want to get off with me – those tapes cost good money, and I was keen to see some form of return. Teenage boys being teenage boys, I wasn’t often disappointed.

Hours would evaporate as you tried to cut out the recording ‘click’ between songs, struggled not to put two songs by the same artist in a row, resisted the urge to kill any parent unwittingly walking into the front room and jogging the needle on the record player and then struggled to fit all the track names on the tape insert in felt-tip pen.

After all that effort, keen to get the mix-tape to the recipient, I’d then bike it round, by which I mean I got on my bicycle and pedalled to their house rather than called on an in-house courier (even though I lived in a Grade  II listed house with a balcony AND window boxes, I wasn’t that posh).

These days, I can burn a CD in about three minutes (is it illegal? If it is, when I say that I burn CDs, I refer to music made by my family. On, er, spoons) and email it to someone immediately. It’s taken some of the magic away, frankly.

Equally, I can now have up to 10,000 songs on my iPod and if I shake it, it randomly chooses a new track for me to listen to.

Try that with the Walkman and you’d have been listening to a decidedly old record: your parents giving you the ‘you never look after anything properly’ speech for the gazillionth time before grounding you indefinitely.

NB: I still have some of my Dad’s stereo equipment, even though he went to the big hi-fi shop in the world back in 1992. And it still works, which kind of annoyingly proves his point about quality. Any of you fancy a mix-tape?

**** It’s been many a long week since last I graced WordPress. Lots of work, a lovely dose of swine flu (I didn’t throw a party for others to catch it), the odd weekend away (empahsis on ‘odd’), general apathy and ennui have kept me from posting. I will be visiting you all later to see what you’ve been up to. You’d better have been good while I’ve been away or I’ll know not to leave you home alone again. And don’t think I won’t be checking the phone bill. And the liquor cabinet ****

05
Jun
09

My children love me reading aloud to them. Selfish little sods.

A major new survey of children’s reading habits has revealed that a third of the multi-GCSE owning youngsters of today believe that books are for “nerds” and half think libraries are boring – and that’s despite plans to introduce gay fairytales into the National Curriculum.

Personally, I thought that gay fairytales had been around for years – Snow White and the Seven Co-Habiting Dwarves, anyone? – but thanks to Clause 28, a bill which in my day banned schools from “promoting homosexuality” in case children became gay overnight after discovering that there’s more to love than boy meets girl, I never got to read ‘Jenny lives with Eric and Martin’.

Poor old Jenny caused uproar in the 1980s, when the Daily Mail discovered that the Labour-controlled Inner London Education Authority had placed copies of the book about a little girl living with her father and his gay partner in school libraries.

 

Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. Deal with it.

Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. Deal with it.

She was quickly removed, and replaced with lots of staunchly heterosexual books about morally upstanding subjects like algebra, geography and the Cold War. By God no one was going to catch gay from a school library, or if they did, it’d be because they’d looked it up in an uncensored dictionary.

These days, children are so intelligent that they are passing 34 GCSEs each while simultaneously being the least literate generation since we sent nine-year-olds up chimneys or down mines. When pupils from 35 schools were asked what they thought about reading, one wrote: “Reading is the last thing i (sic) would want to do i would rather die.” And that was the most enthusiastic response.

The gay fairytales need to be drafted in quickly before reading becomes something quaint which used to happen in the olden days, like riding side-saddle or smiling at people in the street without being knifed. Who could resist ‘And Tango Makes Three’ about gay penguins who fall in love and raise an adopted child? Or ‘King and King’ about a prince who searches his kingdom for a princess to marry before realising he actually fancies other princes?

I only wish my own children favoured such literature instead of steadfastly sticking to the kind of books which give you newfound sympathy for the unnamed pupil quoted above.

For example: I challenge anyone in full possession of a working brain to read The Scooby Doo Storybook Collection without mentally assessing any nearby beams for their potential to bear the weight of a noose and a swinging body.

Hours of my life have been squandered to that damnable book, clearly written by a revengeful depressive attempting to bring the rest of the world into his dark nightmare, and I will never, ever get them back.

 

Now let me think: where did I put the Scooby Doo Story Collection again...?

'Now let me think: where did I put the Scooby Doo Story Collection again...?'

On the rare occasions that I have been able to hide the Scooby Doo Storybook Collection somewhere so cunning that my son can’t find it (past successes have included putting it in a plastic bag and placing it in the toilet cistern) I am faced with a book about the revolting personal lives of insects.

I say “a book”, I mean one single passage, which I have now been reciting on a continuous loop for several long years. Let’s put it this way – I finally have a specialist topic which I could take to the Mastermind studios.

My boy is endlessly fascinated with the life and times of the Bombardier Beetle, a highly-strung creature which defends itself from predators by firing a high-pressure jet of toxic boiling liquid out of its rectum. 

 

Whos up for some water sports?

Who's up for some water sports?

No laughing yet, you haven’t seen the money shot: if the Bombardier Beetle gets really, really angry, it squirts so much toxic liquid out of it brown eye that it blows its own arse off. Now imagine how much my son, an eight-year-old boy whose idea of highbrow comedy is farting on a leather sofa, loves the Bombardier Beetle.

Personally, I long to hear what other insects can fire out of their arses or whether they can blow off their thorax with a particularly loud belch. But we have settled on the Bombardier Beetle, and I fear we may never turn the page – I should be so lucky as to read the adventures of a gay penguin.

My daughter, thankfully, would rather die than listen to me reading after suffering years of my attempts to emote my way through the latest Spot the Dog potboiler or yet another identically-plotted Rainbow Fairy “adventure”.

Now she disappears into her bedroom with a Harry Potter book which, judging by the slow progress of the bookmark, is less to do with her thirst for literature and more to do with a large bag of sweets she has hidden under her bed (more on H Potter another time. I have much to say about that magical little shitfish). 

Personally, I say bring on any books whatsoever which might capture the attention of children, whether they be about gay princes, co-parenting same-sex penguins or transexual elephants who’ve lost a balloon. Anything bar Scooby effing Doo or the Bombardier Beetle. Even if they start co-parenting together.

**** What can I say? Work has been insane. Apologies for my sporadic posting – I will try and be slightly more productive. Blame my son – that bastard beetle eats up precious time when I could be writing for you and he’s only eight, so most of you (Ram not withstanding) could take him in a fight ****

17
May
09

‘The new baby will fit around our lives’ and other lies you tell yourself pre-children

It takes a brave soul to offer a new mother advice about how to look after her baby – when someone tried it with me, the mood swiftly degenerated into something closely resembling a scene from Saw V.

The other day, while listlessly flicking through TV channels in a bid to bore myself to sleep, I came across a series that aired a year or so back on Channel 4 called ‘Bringing Up Baby’.

I figured that it might just be dull enough to banish insomnia (which is ironic, because insomnia was the last of my problems when I was bringing up babies. Babies bringing up milk in my face, however, was definitely on the list).

The programme tested three different baby care techniques, Truby King, the Continuum Concept and Dr Spock, to see which method is best for children and parents. My own choice ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ has perhaps been left for a later series.

The latter method, Truby King, is ideal for parents who, on the whole, would rather they’d given birth to Sky+ or an iPhone.

Having brought your newborn home, you then set out to ignore it as much as possible so you can start having loud dinner parties at 7.30pm the day after you’ve given birth to illustrate the fact that you’ve given birth to a robot who could sleep through Krakatoa erupting next door.

Truby King nanny Claire Verity, who tellingly has no children of her own, is often hired by the rich and famous for £1,000 a day to practice the method on their offspring.

The technique involves rigid four-hourly feeds, no cuddling during the feeds or at most other times (‘attention seeking!’) and leaving babies outside in their prams for three hours a day in Siberian temperatures so that they can scream themselves knackered enough to sleep through the night.

It lends a whole new poignancy to Tom Jones’ hit, Baby It’s Cold Outside.

Verity’s aim is to restore ‘normality’ to new parents as quickly as possible. As far as she’s concerned, a baby is a bit like a flat-pack wardrobe from Ikea: a nightmare to begin with, but it swiftly blends into the background to the point where you forget it’s even there.

In essence, ‘normality’ appears to involve getting the parents to have a bottle of wine at 7pm every night to prove what little effect having a baby has had on them.

Parents clink glasses and look unbearably smug as Verity lurks outside the baby’s room, muttering darkly about how she refuses to be ‘manipulated’ by a distraught baby who is screaming itself mental in a darkened room.

It’s a definitive guide to the class system: pay someone a grand a day to tell you to get bladdered while your baby screams for attention and you’re middle class, ignore your kid on your own initiative while you down a few cans of cider and you’re working class scum who can expect a visit from Social Services any day.

Using the Truby King method, parents can expect their children to be sleeping through the night from six weeks, goose-stepping by six months and uttering their first sentence (‘who are you again?’) by nine.

Being ignored as a baby never did me any harm!

'Being ignored as a baby never did me any harm!'

Another method on trial in the C4 programme was the Continuum Concept, also known as the ‘Osteopath’s Meal Ticket’.

Parents must maintain body-to-body contact with their baby at all times for the first six months of its life, carrying the child in a sling throughout the day and allowing the baby to sleep in the parental bed at night.

The concept was inspired by the child-rearing techniques of the Yequana, a tribe of Amazonian Indians, who carried their babies continually throughout their first few months and seemed to raise particularly well-adjusted, happy children.

There are many good points about the Continuum Concept, not least the fact that you’re not expected to ease a six-inch lip plate into your mouth like the Yequana in the spirit of authenticity, but the technique has its downsides, mainly the whole non-stop carrying thing.

Just for the record, I’d like to make it clear that I maintained body-to-body contact with my babies for nine, not six, months – I called it ‘pregnancy’.

Finally, there’s the Dr Spock method, which is the perfect baby-raising technique for anyone too lazy, tired or sensible to read a baby manual.

Spock babies are fed on demand, sleep in the parent’s room in a Moses basket and basically rule the roost like miniature dictators without the facial hair (some even have the facial hair – there were some monsters born when I was in hospital).

As a Spock baby myself, I am still feeding on demand, although I am making a concerted effort to cut out the 11pm and 5am bottles thanks to continuing support from Alcoholics Anonymous.

With my own children, I decided that I could either study baby manuals and equip myself with as much information about child-rearing as possible so that I could make an informed choice about which technique to use, or I could spend the time I’d have wasted reading claptrap sitting on the sofa watching Hollyoaks and eating chipsticks.

By the time I gave birth, I knew nothing about child-rearing but a great deal about Chester teenagers and the differing quality of own-brand chipsticks from several leading supermarkets.

As a result, I made it all up as I went along. We quickly established who was boss in the house (the babies) and what kind of routine would work for us (one that involved me not getting dressed for days on end and looking as if I’d recently escaped from an asylum).

Instead of trifling matters like routines and consistency, I concentrated on far more important issues, such as buying really nice babygrows, identifying which jars of Organix baby food caused the much-feared ‘up the back and into the hair’ nappies and honing my withering put-downs for non-parents who dared complain about feeling tired in my ear-shot.

There’s nothing that irritates a parent more than a non-parent telling them how tired they are. Even if the non-parent has plenty of good reason for being tired, parents never accept that it can be the same kind of ‘I just washed up the margarine and put a hair brush in the fridge’ tired that we suffer from.

In turn, non-parents feel patronised when new mums and dads claim to have the monopoly on being knackered.

Of course, both camps have valid points, although you’d think those disposable-income spending, mini-break taking, tidy house owning, wide-awake, well-rested childless gits could cut us a bit of slack now and again.

Yes, you’ve just climbed Mount Everest with a fridge freezer on your back for charity and you’re moving house again, but I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since 1997.

I see your stress at work and I raise you impetigo, head-lice, threadworms and children’s entertainers. Now tell me you’re bloody tired again and I’ll brain you.

As I see it, I am selflessly continuing the human race so that there are enough care workers to wipe the backsides of the people who won’t have any sons or daughter to do it for them when they are old and infirm.

Obviously it won’t be MY children doing that particular job because they’re both going to be architects, but my point remains the same.

The least the childless can do to repay us is to let us have the upper hand when it comes to being shattered.

Oh, and maybe they could babysit a bit more often; say twice a week, preferably on the nights one of the kids has got tennis and the other one has football, simultaneously.

**** I’ve been away. I am going away again. But I’ll always be back ****

29
Apr
09

Woman who not many men want to bone can sing shocker

There are many mountains to climb this week for the Woman in Black, who has an interview on Friday and is spending every spare hour finding new and imaginative ways to say: ‘PLEASE GIVE ME THE JOB’ (is weeping and wringing my hands a good, or bad idea? It may be involuntary by the time I sit in front of the panel).

But I didn’t want to forsake my readers. And because I am a born leader, motivator, multi-tasker, ideas generator and all round fabulous employee human being, I am offering you part of this week’s column – slightly rewritten for those of you who have already read it and feel short-changed – until I can turn my attention to you fully. You’d give me a job, right? RIGHT?

It’s about Scotland’s darling (stay away from recently-returned honeymooners who’ve been to Mexico, Susan!) Susan Boyle, who recently caused a YouTube sensation by being able to sing at the same time as looking a bit like a partially shaved warthog. That was mean. All this ‘blue sky thinking’ is making me darker than ever. Susan looks like my first boyfriend’s mother. That my first boyfriend was a warthog is neither here nor there.

Back on patrol soon. Please invoke whatever idols you worship (unless it’s Ben Affleck) to help me in my quest to get a better-paid job.

BREAKING NEWS: Reality TV show contestant Susan Boyle single-handedly shatters accepted wisdom that only the slim, attractive and young can sing.

The Britain’s Got Talent auditionee sparked worldwide interest when she managed to sing a song DESPITE being on the homelier side of fairly average-looking.

Astonishingly, her physical appearance didn’t seem to affect her vocal chords whatsoever – I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

Before: The virgin Connie Swayle. Sorry, Susan Boyle.

Before: The virgin Connie Swayle. Sorry, Susan Boyle.

There’s no denying it, Susan Boyle can hold a tune  and she’s got the kind of back story that makes news providers, like me, salivate at the chops with unadulterated, undignified glee.

She’s a 47-year-old virginal charity worker who looked after her dear old Mum until she popped her clogs, lives alone with her cat and hasn’t picked up a pair of tweezers this side of the millennium.

Indeed Macbeth’s crones, sitting on the judging panel of BGT could barely disguise their incredulity that before them stood someone who wasn’t blindingly attractive yet still professed a desire to become a famous singer.

After all, it’s a proven fact that only good-looking people have any talent: just look at Kelly Brook.

‘So what’s the dream?’ asked Simon Cowell, his eyebrow racing towards his pubic weave in that trademarked ‘God you make me feel physically sick you pathetic nobody’ style he’s honed to perfection over the years.

Susan name-checked Elaine Paige, joked about her appearance, exhibited the natural ease of a vampire in full sunlight and then opened her mouth and let her voice do the talking.

Judge Amanda Holden was so moved by the fact that someone without a store card at Harrods could sing that she shed a tear and Piers Morgan claimed Susan was ‘the biggest surprise’ he’d ever seen on the show.

It’d have been surprising if Susan had suggested she’d like to be an in-house Chanel model before squeezing into a bikini and suddenly becoming jaw-droppingly gorgeous in front of our eyes. But why is it surprising that she can sing? Have these people never seen Neil Young?

**** Since writing this piece, Susan has undergone a dramatic makeover. By dramatic, I mean her mono-brow has been tamed with shears, her hair has been cut and she’s put on some lipstick. Whether or not this will have an effect on her voice is yet to be seen: perhaps the excess hair balanced her vocals. Lord knows what might happen to her voice if she loses her virginity. Before I lost mine, I had the voice of an angel. Now I sound like Darth Vader with swine flu. ****

After: Susans radical makeover, including hand amputation

After: Susan's radical makeover, including hand amputation




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