• Mauris euismod rhoncus tortor

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mathematics Maketh Man.

What disappoints me most about the child I was, is that the woman I have become quite likes maths and science. Why didn’t I pay more attention in school? I could have been a contender. Back when my brain was a sponge and I was receiving a free education, why didn’t I absorb all the wonderful things I was being taught, instead of spending all my time trying to subtly turn my shoe upside down so I could play with the puzzle Clarks had built into the sole?

A new report has revealed that half of working age adults - that’s 17 million people in the UK - have the numeracy skills of a primary school child. I think I can stand up and be counted in that statistic.

There’s a lovely anecdote in Ben Miller’s It’s not rocket science (that’s me trying to claw back an education) where he pays homage to his maths teacher at primary school, Mr Bailey, who taught the kids that times tables were fun - something for which you needed a tables license, which Mr Bailey painstakingly made himself using a signature, a counter signature and a photo of said pupil.

He’d issue the license to any pupil who could prove they really did know their tables. And as if to illustrate just what a gifted teacher Mr Bailey was, every child in the top stream for maths at the secondary school Ben Miller went to had come from Mr Bailey’s primary school maths class.

Sadly I had no such Mr Bailey.

Mrs Geary taught me that if you run the cold tap over your wrist you can control a hot flush. Quite why I needed to know that, I don’t know, but it’ll come in handy when I hit the menopause.

Mrs Tew taught me that the six most important words in a relationship are ‘I am sorry, I was wrong.’ But I haven’t mentioned that one to my husband.

And Miss Dick taught me what to do if someone has a heart attack. By pretending to have a heart attack. It was terrifying, but certainly sunk the info into the old psyche.

I remember being very jealous of the kids in Mrs Tatler’s class, who told me they’d learned about division by cutting a cake in half. Then quarters. Then eights. Then they ate it. Not fair.

Aside from that, not really sure what else I learned. After reading Ben Miller’s lovely tables license anecdote, I started testing myself on my tables and I definitely get a bit rusty around the 8s and above.

 Maybe I need this. I do like owls...

Maths needs to be more fun. Schools need to take the anxiety out of it and make it enjoyable - cutting up cakes, for example.

As regular readers will know, maths and anxiety go hand in multiplying hand for me. The very man who would have so loved me to be as swift with my long multiplication as he was, was the very same man who has filled my internal calculator with anxiety instead of mental arithmetic. That’d be you, Dad.

It was his sheer frustration at the fact I clearly wasn’t turning out to be a genius which shut my brain down around maths to the point that I didn’t even bat an eyelid when, after a few months running my own business, I calculated that I’d made £200,000. I just thought I’d been doing quite well, until my husband pointed out I’d somehow added two extra zeros. And I’ve been doing my own accounts ever since.

Being this crap at maths does have upsides though. It means I still need my dad, which I think he secretly likes. Like the time I was writing a feature about a woman who had three children born on the same day, years apart. I needed a statistic for the chances of that happening and had found something online which seemed about right.

Roger Heath-Brown, professor of Pure Mathematics at Oxford University, said the odds of the couple's children all being born on the same date were 48,627,125 to 1.

Not one to instantly trust the internet nor any professor of pure mathematics who isn’t my dad, I asked the old man for his verdict.

Turns out prof Heath-Brown had it all wrong.

‘The mathematical answer is 1:133225,’ Pops explained. ‘1 in 48 million is the figure for 3 children being born on a PARTICULAR date, as in saying to a not yet pregnant woman, 'you will have three children, and they will all be born on January 1st’ - a 1/365 chance, multiplied 3 times.

He continued: ‘The odds of three children being born on the same but unspecified day means actually that first one child was born (probability 1/1) then another was born on the same date (probability 1/365) and then another was born on the same date again (probability 1/365). Therefore the odds of 3 children being born on the same date is these 3 figures multiplied together. 1x365x365, which = 1/133,225.’

Still with me? He added for good measure: ‘In practice it would be less than 1:133225, because the parents might be more sexually active at a particular time of the year (like on holiday).’

It was a shame because my story would probably have sold for more if the chances were in fact 1 in 48 million, but I have to hand it to Dad, he is bloody good at maths. And even though we were now talking about parents having sex, which always leaves me stuffing cotton wool in my ears, we were bonding. Over maths. Which I suppose is what we’d do if I was a mathematical genius and we spent our time bantering about just how different the world would be if Pythagoras hadn’t come up with his theorem and testing each other to see who could remember the most digits in the never ending mathematical number Pi, rather than me just saying ‘that new film Life of Pi looks good’ and Dad wondering where it all went wrong.

Read More

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Song

All loved up and mushy couples have a song, right? Ain’t that the epitome of romance, the day you secure an ‘our song’?

I used to think When A Man Loves A Woman would be my Our Song one day when I was older. Then Meg Ryan made a film of the same name and seeing as she was an alcoholic who was always getting herself in trouble, while her ever-adoring husband supported and loved her, maybe not. Although, that does sound strangely familiar.

G and I don’t have a song and mostly forget our anniversary. I’m not entirely sure he knows how to spell my middle name and that’s just the way I like it.

Except apparently we do have a song. I just found out.

And it’s not Michael Nyman's Love Doesn't End from The End of the Affair, which is what G asked me to walk down the aisle to, proclaiming that he’d always imagined it was what I’d walk down the aisle to when the day to do so came.

‘I’ve never heard it before,’ I told him as he played it to me. ‘Sounds like it belongs at a funeral, not a wedding.’

And so the one song that might have become our song got vetoed.

Yesterday G and I were driving along in the Willis-mobile when the other contender for Our Song came on.

I can’t find it on You Tube, it’s that popular, but it is called My Baby, it's by NQ Arbuckle and you can listen to it here

Now this almost does have merit to be our song - first heard on a road trip from Boston to Montreal when we’d been together a few months and hadn’t yet said I love you... Ahhhhh.... And now we're married. I remember the song well. I remember liking it because it builds a picture of what can only be described as the perfect woman, then NQ Arbuckle has a bit of a breakdown at the sheer exasperation that a woman could be so perfect. She must have something wrong with her, he sums up. No woman is that perfect.

‘This song reminds me of you,’ G said, turning it up. He’s a charmer.

A huge compliment, see, as the lyrics are thus:

my baby brings me flowers
my baby lets me stay up late
and she doesn't mind the drinking
or the mess that i make

my baby gets up early
my baby cooks me big breakfast
my baby cleans up the kitchen
my baby is friends with all the neighbours

my baby lights all of my cigarettes
she stays up late to do the laundry
my baby calls just to say that she loves me
and she dances like a beauty

my baby don't mind when i come home late
she doesn't listen to idle chatter
she says she loves me just how i am
and those other women do not matter

well she just lets me watch tv
she just lets me hang around
my baby likes all of my friends
and she even likes this house

what's wrong with my baby?

Now, I don’t want to burst his bubble, but G has got me all wrong. I know we’ve just got married and he should probably know me better, but seriously. Let’s examine the evidence.

my baby brings me flowers Nope, never. Would be quite nice if my baby bought me flowers once in a while though, so I didn’t have to go to Asda when we have guests coming round in order to spruce the place up.
my baby lets me stay up late Nope. In fact I get in a right huff when G tries to stay up later than me as I know it means he’ll be waking me up a bit after I’ve fallen asleep with his big oaf-like clambering into bed and switching on of lights.
and she doesn't mind the drinking Winner! I love it when he drinks. In my opinion he doesn’t drink enough.
or the mess that i make Nope. The mess that he makes will be the undoing of our marriage.

my baby gets up early Well, the early bird catches the worm, right? I’m no night owl.
my baby cooks me big breakfast I do chuck a bowl of porridge his way most mornings.
my baby cleans up the kitchen And makes sure he knows it. A loud declaration of: I CLEANED THE KITCHEN usually accompanies my cleaning routine.
my baby is friends with all the neighbours I hate the neighbours.

my baby lights all of my cigarettes  I once accidentally slapped G’s face in an attempt to remove the cigarette from his mouth. I hate cigarettes and hate him smoking. Which he only does when he’s drinking. Which I try to encourage. Catch 22.
she stays up late to do the laundry I did recently stay up late to empty the machine of G’s clothes because he was really busy and needed a shirt for the morning. Then I went on about what a good wife I was for about a week afterwards.
my baby calls just to say that she loves me Winner.
and she dances like a beauty Loser. I dance like my limbs involuntarily spasm, sporadically adding the odd hump and thrust. It’s a sight best reserved for the blind.

my baby don't mind when i come home late See above section on coming to bed late. I do mind.
she doesn't listen to idle chatter I love gossip.
she says she loves me just how i am He’s alright. Could do with a few modifications.
and those other women do not matter WHAT OTHER WOMEN?!?!?!?!

well she just lets me watch tv Oops. I sold his TV. For £20. Without asking. Then bought scratch cards. And didn’t win.
she just lets me hang around Not if I’m CLEANING THE KITCHEN at the same time G just wants to ‘hang around.’
my baby likes all of my friends Yeah, that’s true. I do. Even the one who has served time for handing out party drugs at festivals. Actually, especially him.
and she even likes this house Damn straight. It has a particularly tidy kitchen.

what's wrong with my baby? I often ask myself the same question.

So you see, when G said sweetly that this song was about me, I just accepted the compliment. At least two to three lyrics do apply to me. And just like when Derren Brown gave out the same astrological reading to people with different star signs and they all thought it fitted them perfectly, let’s roll with G’s selective hearing and let’s not point out to him that his perfect vision of his wife is way off the mark. Hopefully he won’t read this post. Hopefully he’ll be too busy buying me flowers and CLEANING THE KITCHEN.

Read More

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Great British Boycott

I never used to pay much attention to ethics, shopping as I did for what I wanted, when I wanted it. Then I met my cleverest friend, who was taking a masters in international development when I was sitting around, unemployed, smoking dope. She is very clever about things I don’t understand, and she patiently tried to teach me that my pound was powerful and I should make choices based on a company’s ability to not employ children and not fly mangoes half way around the world just so I can have a stir-fry.

I jumped aboard the ethics bus, keen as I was to impress her. What’s that you say - boycott Nescafe? Sure! I wasn’t even that au-fait with the whole - they bullied breast feeding mothers in developing countries into switching to formula they can’t afford. Which is BAD - thing, but I sprouted what little knowledge I did have whenever I saw someone dare eat a Kit-Kat.
After that, I heard Unilever were a bit questionable. Down with the multi-national corporations, I declared. Being quite a massive company, it meant I had to boycott my beloved ice-cream, Ben and  
Jerry's - because it’s not made by two fat blokes in America - avoid all moisturiser flying the Dove flag, wave goodbye to Hellmann’s mayonnaise, make my own stock because Knorr ain’t got the Know-how, say no to Lipton’s Ice-Tea, a Radox bath, Sure deodorant, a decent hair-cut in Toni and Guy and a shed load of other sacrifices as a result of my apparent political stance.

It was more than I could achieve in an average week just to keep up with their acquisitions. I didn’t even really know what they ever did wrong - I certainly can’t remember now - but when a friend came round for dinner and announced that upon graduation she was going to apply for a job at Unilever, I felt it was my responsibility to shout loud words at her. She quietly explained that in fact Unilever are an exemplary company with an excellent ethical reputation and a sustainable agriculture programme - whilst also helping one billion people improve their health and well-being (and not just through making one billion people have a nice relaxing Radox bath).

Well, that told me. All that boycotting, wasted. I quickly bought some Caramel Chew Chew, just so they’d know I was back.

What good does it do, to boycott, anyway? Does my silent protest really make a difference? In the news of late, some big cats have been naughty: Amazon, (What can’t you buy from Amazon?) Starbucks (love their Chai) and Google (love the days when the Google word is written differently in tribute to someone’s birthday. Those are fun days. Plus they know everything. Quickly.)

They have managed to siphon off a staggering amount of money that really ought to be paid in tax. Our struggling economy continues to gasp for air, while they roll around in their billions, laughing at us as we order our Chai’s and google ourselves.

I want to boycott these companies, especially since Costa started serving Chai, I really do. But is it my responsibility to marshal them? Yes, we should all, as a nation, together, no longer shop at Amazon. But when the next big gun rises up from the ashes, you can bet your bottom dollar that when they start turning over the billions Amazon currently enjoys and their accountant says, hey, there’s a legal loophole here, do you fancy avoiding (and remember, avoiding is legal, evading is illegal) vast sums of tax payments, so you can buy an island instead? - they are going to say yes please, why didn’t you tell me about this before?
In summary, I will try to choose independent, small and local, (which is how all these big boys started out, lest we forget) but ultimately, the government needs to sort out what’s legal and what’s not. They’ve only got themselves to blame when companies find ways to avoid tax. I don’t have all the answers - I mostly just read Grazia - but I am tired of boycotting companies because the government can’t sort it out at the top. Starbucks probably won’t miss my custom, but they might be more abiding tax-payers if there weren’t loopholes to jump through.

Well, if you need me, I’ll be over here, smelling of Dove, eating Ben and Jerry’s and stroking my Toni and Guy-cut tresses. Let me know when it’s okay to google myself again.
Read More

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Obama's Dramas

Barack Obama, the fly-swatting, basketball hoop-shooting leader of the free world, has Beyonce going gaga and Gaga in glee at his re-election, while Sarah Jessica Parker wore an Obama T-shirt and Eva Longoria cried.

Although, it might have been a tear shed at the realisation that now, the whole world knows she has posters of her own films up in her sitting room.

Oh, what, this old thing? It’s just my movie room, complete with movie posters of movies I was in. I was in the Sentinel (Rotten Tomatoes: 33%) and Over Her Dead Body (Rotten Tomatoes: 15%) but I don’t like to go on about it.

Anyway, despite my inability to remember to vote for my own Police and Crime Commissioner (along with around 80% of my nation - well done us) I did very much want to vote for Barack. He’s got a nice bum and a calming influence on me, the USA and hopefully the world in general. He’s going to fix things.

Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri

This week, he’s busy in Burma, taking off his shoes and meeting people for photo ops, like this one, where he’s seen kissing Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader and all round good egg, while he and she attempt to illustrate that they are striking a balance between progress and reform.

All I can say is, oh thank god, Barack’s pretty much the coolest guy in the world and he still gets the old ‘kiss / hug / handshake’ drama as tits up as the rest of us.

My husband is the worst perp of them all. If this was a picture of him and Aung San Suu Kyi, guaranteed Gaz would be accidentally kissing her on the lips while she pulled away in horror. He just can’t help himself. He’s a socially inept tomfool, who isn’t helped by a muddled society unsure of itself.

He’ll usually get home from work with a certain look in his eyes and I know he’s done it again. ‘What happened this time?’ I ask, curling my hands around a cup of cocoa as I get myself comfortable, ready for a ruddy good chuckle at his expense.

‘I thought we knew each other well enough for a cheek-kiss!’ Gaz will lament. ‘But she stuck her hand out. It was too late, I was going in for one, so I ended up just grabbing hold of her and forcing her into some kind of weird hug where my lips were pressed into the kiss shape on her ear.’

Oh dear.

Another time: ‘We really didn’t know each other well enough for a kiss, I thought, so I stuck my hand out, but she came in for a kiss and I ended up punching her in the crotch!’

Then there was the time we met up with some old friends. Gaz messed it up brilliantly when he tried to shake the girl’s hand, then tried to make amends by going in for a kiss with the man, who quickly moved away, leaving Gaz lingering mid-air, lips pursed, with no-one to kiss while we all looked at him a bit like you might look at a child who had just wet itself in public.

These moments mortify him, but he’s not alone. No one really knows what to do - in this country at least - they’ve got it sorted in France and other more romantic, touchy feely nations than ours, where even if they did mess it up, they’d laugh it off without any mortification at all. Does a man shake a woman’s hand? Is two kisses ever appropriate? (No, in my opinion, just the one then let’s step out of each other’s personal spaces pronto.)

The other day, Gaz and I were standing with a female associate I’d just met that day, Gaz had known for some time. We’d spent the whole day together and built up a rapport, so by goodbye time I was pretty sure it’d be a one-kiss situation, and I was happy with that. But the girl in question was Spanish, which threw some spanners in my works as I prepared to say goodbye - I didn’t know what she might try to do to me. Luckily Gaz went first and royally cocked up his goodbye, so I thought, by learning from his mistakes, I’d be fine.

He went for the one-kiss, pulled away slightly, only to realise she was going for the two-kiss, so he went back in, only to see she’d given up and was pulling away, so he pulled back, only to see that she’d seen he was coming in for the offered second-kiss, so was coming back. And he ended up in an awkward muttering of ‘ooops, one or two, don’t draw attention to it, ha ha, I’m British, BYE’.

Me, meanwhile, had witnessed and clocked her two-kiss penchant and was all ready.

But by my turn, she had clearly realised this funny little English couple were of the one-kiss variety, so she didn’t bother with the second kiss. But I did, even though I hate them, because I saw her do it to Gaz. And so we had a little kiss-dance, which resulted in me wanting to die a bit.

My favourite of all these faux-kiss-pas is when my friend Mike met his now mother-in-law for the first time. The greeting went so badly that in those vital few seconds where you’re either both on the same page and no awkwardness ensues, or you cock it up royally and years later your mate is still writing about it, Mike managed to end up patting the top of mother-in-law’s head in a mangled mess of aborted kisses and fumbled hugs. He patted the top of her head. Bloody marvelous start to their relationship.

So, Barack, I guess what I’m saying is, good job on the re-election. Either we’re as cool as you, or you’re as socially awkward as us. I’m good with either, any comparison to a world leader, albeit a comparison I’ve made myself, gets my vote.

Read More

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Honeymoon Olympics

I’m sure some readers might think I’ve been banging on about marriage for a while now. This will be my last post on wedding related matters, before I return to life as the gin-drinking, mistake-making moron you all know and love.

On the hen do, I was struck by luck - all non-competitive invitees were willing to put aside their aversions to competitive sports long enough to spend a weekend humouring my desire to compete. Except for my competitive friends - they didn’t put anything aside. They just got feisty. Feistier.

On honeymoon, as if I needed proof, I realised I’d definitely married the right man, willing as he was to embark on a two week ‘Honeymoon Olympics’. Early on, we agreed that there would be a points system in place throughout the honeymoon, and whoever ended up with the most points would win a present from the other person, to the tune of £50.

As is my want in any airport, I stocked up on glossy magazines and on the plane, started flicking through Cosmo. Oh, hello, what did I find betwixt the pages of articles about sex and men and jobs and whatnot? Just a very snazzy pair of boots. The kind I HAVE to own. The kind that will make my wardrobe complete. The kind I could spend two weeks competitively thrashing my husband in any given sport to acquire.

The bets hedged, I got to winning. It was easy in the first hotel we stayed in - lavishing us as they did in things I could win at. Table tennis, snooker, checkers, mini golf, who can hold their breath under water the longest. It was almost embarrassing how far ahead I was. Or it would have been, if I didn’t have a ripped out advert of my new boots in my back pocket.

Gareth losing at checkers.
Me winning at holding my breath. Oh, that's just a mountain upon yonder.
Gareth losing at snooks.

When I owned these boots, I thought, I’ll probably do a bit more walking. People will stop me in the street to ask me where I got my boots and I’ll say, you’ll never guess, and they’ll say, no, go on, and I’ll say CLARKS! And they’ll say no! You never! Not Clarks! And I’ll say yup, they are making a come back, one leather bound foot in front of the other.

Fantasies like these drifted through my mind as I sat poolside with my gin tonico’s (that’s Portuguese for gin and tonic, I learned quickly. Who needs a phrasebook when you’ve mastered the essentials).

But it was crass of me. Cape Verde was a poverty stricken, fly ridden, barren dollop of land 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. As we walked down mountains, past ramshackle huts miles from anywhere, I thought about my boots and was disgusted with myself. Cape Verdians, living in huts four hours walk from the nearest shop, don’t beat their husbands at table tennis just so they can have a new pair of boots.

I realised I bought too much stuff, back home. I was a big spender and it was inappropriate, what with all this lopsided distribution of wealth going on in the world.

But, I did really want those boots. Did you look at the picture? They were really lovely.

So I made myself a promise. I’d win the Honeymoon Olympics, pocket the prize, then stop shopping and appreciate the smaller things in life, like my new boots.

Only, there was a hiccup. Gaz started to catch up on the leader-board. We were introduced to a local game called Oware, a game of maths. Suddenly my hand-eye coordination skills counted for nothing. Anyone who was brought up by my father has a propensity to melt pathetically at the mere mention of arithmetic. I blame father. Genius of calculus, he couldn’t understand why we hadn’t inherited his penchant for long multiplication in our heads, while he stood over us and bellowed: ‘WHAT IS 48 x 356 x 12? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T THINK?’

As a result, the very sight of maths makes my brain shut down, like a transformer going from sprightly, all guns blazing robot to, well, a matchbox, at best.

Gaz started to acquire points. It didn’t help that we mostly played when I had gin tonico running through my veins. The boots started to walk away from me. The prize that had once seemed so close, so easy, was disintegrating, fading away like a distant dream.

I didn’t want to buy Gaz a stupid present. £50! But we’d both benefit from the boots! He’d look great by association. I tried to help Gaz see that even if he won, we should probably just get me the boots, but it didn’t wash.

By the last day, he was three points ahead.

But there’s a reason Gaz married me. And there’s a reason I married he. He married me because he thinks it’s cute how much I like winning and how much I like boots. (Probably. Needs citation.) And I married him because he is happier making me happy than he is making himself happy.

Although, the next two points I gained definitely made him happy. That’s right, he gave me two points for a little bit of how's yer father. Well - I did really want those boots.

So then we were even. We reached the airport and I just needed one more point before wheels up to secure the boots, my future happiness, my winter wardrobe sorted.

‘If you dance in the airport, all alone, to no music, for one minute, I’ll give you the final point,’ he said.

Well this taps into a fear for both of us, it was the ultimate challenge. For me, a fear of dancing. Sober. For him, a fear of being judged by unknown members of the public. He’s a low profile kind of guy.

Yet here he was, suggesting I make a fool of us both.

Did I do it? Of course I did. I want boots. The Olympics is the Olympics.

Did I make it to one minute? No. But only because, at 40 seconds, Gaz could bear it no longer. My gyrating, my invented-on-the-spot move that encompassed putting on imaginary boots then doing a boot-wearing moonwalk. My Saturday Night Fever. He stopped me in my tracks, humiliated by the very idea that someone he’d never met and never would meet again might form an opinion of me.

I didn’t care. I got my point. And thus my boots.

Now I am not going to shop anymore, because I saw a house four hours away from any shops at all and I felt bad. But I do need a skirt to go with those boots...

Read More

Goodbye Wedding, Hello Marriage.

Well I would absolutely definitely categorically recommend getting married.

Not only did all our lovely loved ones flock to the Isle Of Wight especially, but they all showered us in love and approval and everything one needs in order to be stood in good stead for a lifetime of matrimony.

At 7am on the morning of our wedding, Gareth and I went for a run. A run which we had announced on Facebook in the hopes our 103 guests would turn up and join us for a Chariots of Fire-esque moment of enthusiasm and team spirit.

Four people turned up, three of whom were bridesmaids and probably felt some moral obligation.

But what a beautiful run it was. I'd been running in the rain all week, (I woudn't normally, I'm a fair weather runner, but I had become increasingly does my bum look big in this as the day approached. I ran in hail one morning. Dedication.) willing sunshine to arrive, willing the forecast for Saturday (0% chance of precipitation) to be true. And it only bloody was. The sun broke free from the horizon as we jogged along the seaside. I looked at my very-nearly husband, my three bridesmaids and my one fiance-of-a-bridesmaid and I thought wow. This. Is. Awesome. We are having a moment here guys.

Then I got a bit raspy because I kept trying to talk while running and I don't usually do that. But we were having a moment and I wanted to let my runner-buds know it.

Post run, Gareth was kicked out of the bridal suite (yes, we slept together the night before. We like to slap tradition around the face) and sent packing, so the girls and I could beautify. 'See you at the altar,' I said, waving him off. Getting ready with my bridesmaids was a magical morning of make-up. I watched the little beauties transform from sweaty runners into dazzling ladies in red, ready to catwalk that aisle and reduce the entire wedding party to tears at their sheer beauty. Being so blooming organised, we were ready to go an hour before the chauffeur arrived. That's just how we roll. No dramas, no tantrums or tears. Just a bottle of champagne and a mini-speech from me about what legends they all are.

The ceremony... Ah, the ceremony! Managed not to shed a tear because I didn't want to ruin £100 worth of make-up, but seeing so many friends in tears was the box ticked enough for me. So I committed to spending the rest of my life with Gazza, the lucky devil.  I vowed to be a good person for him... and hoped the times when I'm grumpy and miserable because I'm tired and have eaten too much or not enough definitely count as me being a good person. We kissed, to seal the deal, the crowd went bananas, and then we were pelted by confetti by my rascal of a nephew. It was like being punched by rose petals. See picture.

The sun shone - thanks for that one, God. Who'd have thought he'd sort the weather out for such a fervent atheist wedding? Very kind of him indeed. The wine flowed, the people laughed and smiled and danced and posed for photographs. We ate, we cried (ok, I didn't cry) we cheered, we heckled the speeches. The fabulous speeches, to be treasured forever. My sister took to the stage to perform a rap about love. It had to be seen to be believed, it was mesmerising. Then we ate cheese.

The confetti throwing nephew came up to me while I was talking to my friend Olly and complained that he was bored. Olly asked what he'd like to do about it. Troy suggested, innocently, but with definite intent: 'Well, could you come outside and chase me?' Such a simple request, but he knew it would relieve the boredom. He's a clever kid.

Surveying the dance floor, I realised that all these people were getting their groove on - to Bohemian Rhapsody - to celebrate little old Gaz and me. I was hit with overwhelming gratitude. I was in a room full of people I absolutely adored, who might never fill one room again. I was smug that I didn't get too drunk and forget it all. Well, until the 2am beach-side shots, but I think I was allowed to get drunk by then. Three shots of Drambuie in as many minutes and I was suddenly ready for bed.

People love to know if a married couple consummate the wedding on the wedding night. I'm always slightly relieved to hear that they don't, because they were too busy having fun. Our truth? Did we heck. I don't even remember getting into bed and was quite surprised to see Gaz lying next to me the next morning. Or maybe we did and I just don't remember. Rest assured, we made up for it once the Drambuie headache wore off. It would now be complicated and expensive to break up, as Gaz charmingly pointed out.

As we packed up our bags and left the Royal Yacht Squadron (the most prestigious yacht club in the world, as my father pointed out in his speech, just to let people know how lucky they were to be there) Gareth turned to me and said: 'Goodbye wedding. Hello marriage.'

I couldn't have put it better myself. Hello marriage. I'm ready for you.

Read More

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Girls are great, aren’t they? I have certainly realised so, after a shaky start.

When I was a teenage dirtbag, I used to think girls were boring. I preferred the company of boys. The banter was better, they liked drinking and pretending to be Jack Bauer. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything by not being friends with girls.

At one point, I only had one girl’s phone number in my phone and it was definitely gathering dust. Everyone else - a lad. LADS. Bloody lads, making jokes, being hilarious, drinking beer. That was my peer group of choice and I certainly didn’t want to trade it in to be doing what I thought girls did - painting nails, squealing, talking about bras and periods. No thanks, I had too many gigs to go to and too many empty bottles of booze to collect on my shelf in my dirty little hovel of a bedroom.

Then, slowly, I met a bunch of girls who were legends. One here, one there. One at uni, one through a friend. One or two through a job, one through a sister, a brother or a lover. And what did all these girls have in common? Well, they could all and constantly do out-banter men, they’re all sharp as a pin, intriguing, wonderful, creative beings who would out tumble Jack Bauer any day of the week. They have shown me, individually, over the years, that girls are an absolutely essential part of a girl’s life.

These here girls have just given me the best weekend of my life, my hen do. All creatures great and small, competitive and non, got stuck in with an Olympic extravagance of competitive sports and games.

I’m competitive - there’s no doubt about it. First person to finish reading this sentence wins! (Get in touch for prizes.) I love competing, it’s great fun. I guess I must have made that pretty obvious because my hen do was a point scoring bonanza. We played rounders and croquet and Articulate and official games like that, but there was also a gung-ho impromptu hunger for games at any given moment. ‘Who can do the most push ups?’ I asked, nominating my tough as a gun army friend Becks to take one for our team. (She did 50 in 60 seconds and scored a whopping great point for reds.)

 Smells like team spirit.

‘Whoever goes for a swim in the sea gets a point!’ was declared while we were enjoying a picnic on the beach. Cue lots of girls stripping off and sprinting into the sea in search of a point for their team. It was September, it was freezing, but there were points to be had. When I was a yoof I just thought if I wanted my life to be all about points and teams and prizes, then I was going to have to stick with men because girls just aren’t into that sort of thing. Watching all my girlfriends charge into the icy sea made me realise that just ain’t true.

As day turned to night, ‘who can tell the difference between cheap gin and Hendricks?’ and ‘who will open their gullet and let Amy the Vodka Pusher pour caramel vodka down their throat?’ were all efforts blessed with points.

It was neck and neck. Reds in the lead... followed by a few good kills in the murder mystery and suddenly blues are back in the game. Reds waste no time in declaring ‘who can do a headstand for longest?’ and storming back into the lead. Points for staying up latest, points for being the quickest to put your shoes on, and my personal favourite, points for taking the initiative to turn your bedroom into a pop-up nightclub, complete with a ‘one in, one out’ policy, strobe lighting (Boo the Foxy ginger ninja standing by the light switch patiently turning it on and off quite quickly) and Amy standing in the hallway trying to encourage punters in with a bit of promo.

This might sound like some people’s idea of hell, and not just women - I know some men are not competitive either. But to me, it was pure heaven. And it was pure heaven because as I surveyed the various moments of mayhem, brilliance, laughter, competitive spirit and sheer skills on display, I realised what an essential part of life girlfriends are. Boys are still great, obviously, I’m marrying one and I had two on the hen do (heterosexual, manly ones), but girls are what girls need - be it for advice on which shoes to wear or what creams really do work, to who can throw grapes in the air and catch them in their mouths or who can keep getting rounders over and over again when most of their team are out and they are your only hope. They are every bit as competitive and fun and funny and outrageous as boys, but more so, and without all the things that make boys rubbish, like taking competitiveness too far and punching each other and having willies all the time and not caring which shoes you wear.

Reds won (obviously) and we all got goodies, even the blues, because girls are lovely and even losers get prizes… And we finished off the weekend with a spectacular pub lunch, complete with an inappropriate amount of flirting with the waiter, because it is important that a big group of girls completely objectifies and intimidates waiters - in return for a round of free drinks.

Just as lunch was served, the chief bridesmaid presented me with a photo album she'd made full of pictures and a little message from each hen.

Well, at this point I just fell apart. Maybe I’d had too much to drink or hadn’t slept enough for the last 48 hours, or maybe I was just completely bowled over by the fact there are 18 such terrific people in this world.

Tears rolled down my silly little cheeks and I couldn’t even eat my pizza as I read through the album. Let’s just take a moment here to really take in the gravity of what I just said. I couldn’t even eat my pizza. That’s never happened before.

I tried to make a speech thanking everyone for their contribution but I couldn't pull myself together enough to form a sentence so I just punched myself in the head instead and mumbled ‘man up, Kim!’ Everyone seemed satisfied with what I was trying to say…

Girls are ace.

Read More

Top Menu