Book film butterfly moth: the Covid months, pt. 2

I didn’t really want lock down to end. There. I said it. I kind of liked it. Except for the poverty and desperation.

I want to do the things I should have done the first time round. I had plans. Big plans. (Loathe to admit it as I am, the Twitter, discipline millionaire dude was kind of right – we might not be gifted this time again). Damn him. I was going to write, set up a website, blah, blah. Of course, I didn’t expect the lockdown to last quite so long. I don’t think any of us saw that coming. I took out a small, cheap loan to see me through a month. Two months later, I was getting creative with dried pasta and a stock cube and looking at the *cat funny.

When I started to feel better, I thought, ‘Right! Time to emerge like a beautiful butterfly.’ I planned to exercise daily. I came out the other side like a moth. One of those massive, hairy-ass ones that scares the living bejeezus outta ya. Never mind the Llandudno goats, nature has well and truly returned – on me. Razor, scissors, nail varnish? Do me a favour. I’ve gone feral.

I lost, I’d guess, three/four kilos during the five weeks I had and was recovering from the virus. I don’t have scales, because I never want to see the numbers. I’ve gained god knows how much in the time since. I mean, sweet, bouncy Joe Wicks was leading seven million people around the globe, daily, in his PE with Joe. Free.

I wasn’t one of them.

The sense of optimism was buoying. People kept bandying around words like ‘reset’, ‘reboot’ and ‘restart’. All the REs. We showed love and appreciation for really important people. The daily clap for healthcare workers was the highlight of my days. I cried almost every night. I felt connected. It was beautiful. Damn! I even got to meet neighbours across our balconies and across the street during those moments, I hadn’t seen or spoken to before.

I liked the idea of finding other ways to communicate. There was the elbow bump, some suggested a polite bow, as the Japanese. I have pretty much embraced the curtsy. To be fair, it’s something I’ve been trialing for some time, along with formal greetings such as ‘Miss T’, ‘Sir’ and ‘Lady F’. Now I had the perfect excuse to roll it out formally.

I did a lot of one things. I:

– watched one movie. Concentration didn’t (doesn’t) even extend to a paltry 90 minutes. World War Z might not have been my best decision given that 2020 could literally present anything and I probably wouldn’t blink. ‘Zombies?! ^throws up arms^ Of course, it’s 2020.’ It could have been worse, it could have been Contagion. I mean, there’s a poor choice when you’re actually living a global pandemic. #1 on Netflix. Human beings are very weird.

– read one book. I took Adults to the hospital with me as I’d been warned it could take some time. By the time I was discharged 30 hours later, between the jabs and wires and swabs, I’d read 90% of it. It kept me sane and distracted. That was the end of March. I finished it on Saturday this week.

– did one stretch.

– did one sketch. I saw a lovely black and white photo of a dancer. I liked his lines. I thought, ‘that’s nice’, got my pencils out, sketched it, popped everything away and posted it on Instagram. It got 30 likes. It’s not surprising really. Looking at it now, it’s clear to see, it was very much half-arsed.

Hours. We…. Had….. Hours…. And……. Hours.

– attended one protest. A peaceful gathering with a talk, taking the knee and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. I cried. Again. We were one.

– attended one online chat with a comedian and a writer.

– attended one online short film presentation.

– watched one series from the pilot to the finale.

– attended one local government webinar.

Although this list is more extensive than I thought it would be when I started writing it, when you add up the actual hours (with the exception of the series) it pretty much equates to the time it takes to blink.

I discovered that PEOPLE HAVE STUFF IN THEIR HOUSES THAT THEY DON’T EVEN IMMEDIATELY NEED. Like flour and **baking powder and saucepans.

Mind. Blown.

I want us to have more time. It feels like the inspiration we found in our shared humanity is already slipping away. Our appreciation of glimpses of nature, a life less rushed, more peaceful, more valued, an opportunity to make changes. Things are returning too quickly to the way they were; even quicker than I thought they might. In the time it’s taken Edward Enninful to turn around his ‘Reset’ August edition of Vogue, people have already forgotten to what he refers. My anxious self is bracing for no longer having lockdown as a valid reason to take it easy.

In one of the first returning classes I had online, I hazarded a guess that it would be six months before it was a hazy memory for most. One of my students said I was an idiot.

It seems he was right.

*I was not looking at the cat funny. Of course I wasn’t. I fed him before myself. I was the more likely of the two of us to be discovered with a half-eaten face. (Not restricted to global pandemics).

** I have this now to accompany the thermometer, glass water bottle and iodine in the cupboard marked ‘adult’.

Jobless Sleepless Pantless Cake: the Covid months, pt.1

Well, I don’t think any of us can deny, it’s been a wild ride.

Sitting with two friends in a cafe in London, back in January, there was much talk of new clients, new contracts and full diaries. Even after many, many years of saying, ‘let’s never say again, “this is going to be the year”‘ after literally all of those years fell flat; we said it.

Well, here we are. Three and a half months later, the global economy is bust, unemployment has skyrocketed and the vast majority of us have forgotten how to wear shoes.

A year from fifty, I had committed to not wearing pants and found myself without freelance work within a twenty-four-hour turnaround. With a newly approved consolidation loan, no savings, a lone ball of mozzarella in the fridge and a dry, scratchy cough; it wasn’t looking good.

A few days later, I casually text the WhatsApp group that had planned a Houseparty that I wouldn’t be able to make it, as I was in the hospital waiting for a Covid-19 test. I did a ring round of the inner circle to let them all know. I was all very matter-of-fact. If anything, I was mildly irritated. There’s a lot to unpack about my approach to serious illness that’s best broached with a professional.

Thirty hours later I was sent home with the drugs and an instruction pack about COVID pneumonia treatment and aftercare after battling against admission to the hospital on the grounds that I was already three weeks in to feeling ropey, past the worst, had got myself to the hospital and there were others more deserving of any beds that should become available any time soon.

I also cried about my cat being left in the house alone. I’m that woman now. I had slept for only two of the thirty hours and was so hysterical, a kindly medic, forever known as ‘Doctor Cat’, even offered to get a friend of hers to collect my keys and pop in to feed him. I was too ashamed of the mess to permit that to happen.

Well, it had been two weeks of only enough energy to shuffle from bed to sofa and receive Glovo takeaways.

There was a great sense of camaraderie as we all rallied. Online seminars, music and comedy gigs, covideo parties, series recommendations and art classes. We were connected through our shared cake efforts. Marie Antionette would have been proud, we were all bloody eating it. Group chats a-go-go with folk you might not chew the fat with on the reg and hadn’t spoken to since that disastrous school reunion in 2010. That happened once. There’s a reason we don’t maintain contact.

Weirdly, I hadn’t felt this calm since 1957. Jon Ronson mentioned in a tweet that maybe it was because those of us with anxiety had been preparing for this our whole lives. We were ready. I quote tweeted him. He liked it.

Then the fear set in. I was jobless.

Until I started to feel the knot of dread creeping in again, I realised that I hadn’t felt it for four whole weeks; and it had been blissful. They do say, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. It was a beautiful, calm stomach, clear head, peaceful night positive in the craziness. But here we were again. Sleepless.

I baked. I did not:

write a novel

start a side hustle

sign up for a masters

find a cure for Coronavirus

or donate any organs…

…or whatever the hell else the millionaire with no financial worries told us we should all do, over on the Twitter. He said we had no discipline. I said, ‘kiss my arse’.

The ex that I lived with in Liverpool text and asked if I was home. Eeerrrmm, aren’t we all? (Except the half a million people on Bournemouth beach, of course). Once that had been established, he told me he’s going to be a dad. So that’s two of my exes straight outta the Pank finishing school and into the arms of their baby mamas. ^curtsies^

Work picked up again in May, thank all the gods for that small mercy, although it brings with it a raft of other concerns. I keep my jade eye roller to hand at all times because: Zoom. I’ll be recovering financially for the foreseeable future. I’m already bracing myself for a lean August and I’ve written the rest of this year well and truly off. I’ve made my peace with no trips and no visitors…. no drinks with the girls, dinners, sale shopping, house trinkets. Na. Da.

I am pretty gutted that I didn’t have the foresight to buy shares in zoom. I do, however, have an appointment with a new accountant and now own a thermometer, iodine and a corked glass bottle to decant my own filter water, so I guess that means I’m some kind of grown-up.

Thank you global crisis.

International Women’s (Richard Herring) Day 2020

So, here we are again and it’s a sad day indeed…… Richard Herring has announced that this will be his last year of searching out the lazy men of Twitter who can’t be arsed to do a quick Google search, prefer to bemoan International Women’s Day and ask, ‘but when is oooouur day?’, and doggedly directing them to November 19th. I, for one, will be holding a minute’s silence in his honour. ~crosses self, lowers head~, God bless you, sir.

We could do with more of Mr H’s sort. With no concern for his own wellbeing and without fear of undermining his own raw, brutal masculinity, he is very comfortable giving us laydees a leg up. It’s not hard and as far as I know, his years of support haven’t resulted in his penis falling off.

Aside from the online heroics of Lord Herring, things are just peachy, aren’t they ladies? Ladies?? ~echoes ring into the distance ~. Yeeeeaaah, they are. No more fighting to be heard, no more catcalling in the street, no more dismissive attitudes in the boardroom or Twitter mansplaining. I don’t know what happened this year, but something changed and it feels good.

Aaah, who am I kidding? Not you guys, that’s for sure.

In fact, it was only last Sunday that I was reading how the UK government tried to block Mary Beard, Britain’s best known classicist, from being appointed a trustee of the British Museum. Now, that would probably be due to her pro-EU views, one might argue, and one might be right in assuming that. But then you would have to look to other appointments (Grayson Perry, for example, also pro-EU) and wonder why they chose to attempt to veto apparently mild-mannered, sweet, little grey-haired old lady, giant-brained, opinionated Mary. It might also be interesting to note, that Mary won round an audience in a debate against Johnson in 2015, discussing the contribution of the Romans to the world, as opposed to the Greeks for whom the then Mayor of London argued. But that’s by the by…….. we suspect.

Whatevs – burn the witch.

But, but Harvey Weinstein is going to jail! And while that is true, and is of course a great step forward, it took dozens and dozens of women coming forward to secure just two guilty verdicts. He will return to receive his sentence on the 11th of this month. Yeah, let’s see how that goes (minimum five years, actual sentence five years). Should I place a bet?

The same weekend as the Beard story was published, the Bristol Post in the UK took the bold step of publishing the names and faces of half a dozen grown-ass men, who had advocated some form of violence against seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg, from the safety of their social media accounts.

Grown men. Violence. Seventeen year-old girl.

Whatevs – burn the witch.

She was appearing for School Strike for Climate in the city and tens of thousands of people turned out to hear her speak at College Green. The level of vitriol levelled at Thunberg since she hit the headlines is remarkable and any sane human reading the hateful comments would think she was advocating kicking puppies or something equally sickening, like, you know, actual fascism. It’s weird, because all she wants is that everyone takes a little more care of the ONLY PLANET WE HAVE TO LIVE ON, FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. ~breathes~. Again, I wonder what exactly it is about the young, tiny woman with opinions that gets those men so riled up….. it really is a puzzle.

I like the Bristol Post, they’re our kind of people. They put six faces, from all the comment writers they had responding to their Thunberg in Bristol story, in their pages slap bang next to their own toxic words. Chaps, if you’re happy to post that shit in the comments section, then I totally expect you have no problem at all with the paper actually printing your names and mugs. Eh, dads? Oh yes, some of them have kids of their own. I wonder what they’d have to say about adults addressing their children the same way. In the article, the paper explained that literally thousands of negative comments had been levelled at Thunberg personally. Thousands. After just one event.

Looking over the water, despite having the credentials and experience to fulfil the role, Elizabeth Warren has sadly just pulled out of the race to become the presidential candidate for the Democrats and I think writer Katy Brand summed it up perfectly with this tweet

Progress, ladies, I think we can agree, is slow.

But there is progress. So, you know, chin up Bristol menfolk, I know you’ll be delighted for your daughters. “As a father of daughters” seems to be a popular segue into some pearl of wisdom connected to women’s issues, because apparently the only way for a particular type of man to see and treat women as humans – is to breed females. (Otherwise, fuck ’em, eh, lads?)

Back to happy. During her trip, Thunberg met with Malala and the photo made my heart burst with hope. Here was Greta with her hero, another woman who had almost been silenced forever in her very simple desire for an education. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that conversation.

And cop a load of Finland, for goodness sake. Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old Social Democrat was sworn in as prime minister at the beginning of December 2019 and now heads a coalition of the four major parties and a cabinet dominated by women. Three of the four party leaders, like her, are under 40. Oh, and she’s a mother to a toddler and the youngest serving premier in the world.

It can be done (I’m looking at you, America), all you need is the will. This makes the UK and the US look like complete amateurs with their creaking systems and political dinosaurs. Note: you don’t have to be old to qualify for this mantle, simply glance in the direction of Jacob Rees-Mogg…..

There were some other good news stories for women and girls – Indonesia lifted the minimum legal age for marriage from 16-19, Mozambique made child marriage punishable by 12 years in prison, Mexico banned it in 31 of 32 states. A UN report stated that in South Asia the practice has almost halved in the last 25 years, from 59% to 39% last year. Also in 2019, Saudi Arabia granted women the right to travel overseas, register marriages, births and divorces, receive family documents, be eligible as guardians to minors and congregate in the same places as men. Which really, when you read that back, seems ludicrous given that we are in the 21st century – but you have to take your victories where you can.

So, ladies (and gents) we have to keep going. Keep fighting the good fight, protesting, writing to MPs, demonstrating, donating to court cases and charities and speaking up. Whatever your contribution, it’s vital. Keep climbing and building and battling and supporting each other and banging on doors and lifting. We have to make things better for everyone.

And guys, why don’t you try taking a leaf out of Mr H’s book, give it a whirl. It doesn’t take much effort to be positive and supportive, even helpful (imagine), and it absolutely won’t affect your baby making equipment in any way. Honest.

Richard Herring’s International Women’s Day effort over the last nine or so years has raised money for Refuge in the United Kingdom. You can donate here:

Feb 14, 2020

Another day, another dollar.

Or: another year, another day of somewhat forced reflection as to why I’m still single and not being awoken with a big fat portion of Instagrammable love. You know, a kiss and a coffee and a pain au chocolat flown in from Paris all the while looking forward to a day of pre-planned delicious lunches, epic dinners during the opening (and giving) ceremony that features a raft of presents painstakingly chosen during the exceptionally limited time after the Christmas promotion stops and before the Valentines Day arrives. All documented, of course.

I haven’t dated for a whole year (except for two hours last June) and it’s been pretty cool. I haven’t felt under any pressure, I haven’t depilated and I haven’t had to tolerate the usual dating app crap – you know, the inappropriate questions and comments. In fact, as I discovered this week, the rude questions are just as readily available in real life. So, you know, yay! No, no, you can get those in cafes. I was asked by a chap, after chatting for a few minutes, for my number, which led to the first WhatsApp message being incredibly swiftly followed by ‘Oh! By the way, do you like sex?’ So, no need to even open Tinder. I don’t need to subject myself to oily gym-selfie guy or excessively large tool guy again to get that kind of chat. A spanner. The large tool was a spanner……

I knock off at 14:00, will go to the florist and buy me some flowers, pop to the bodega and get me a cheeky liddle red and the butcher for a nice piece of steak. I’m seriously craving decent red meat……. No puns please. Maybe the date is no coincidence. Tonight I’m going to light me a few candles, get my house trousers on and listen to some tunes while throwing together something French. Then bed in for the night and choose a movie (Terminator: Dark Fate if I can find it. Romantic? You betcha).

Sure. Be nice to feel as excited about getting home to my man as I do about getting home to my cat, but that’s the situation as it is. And, at least I’m actually willing to accept a certain amount of disdain from the cat. Thinking about it now, if I approached men the same way, I might get somewhere. Look. They’re usually all fired up and enthusiastic for approximately five minutes, then they don’t answer your calls, they disappear, absorb all your affection and don’t return it and sometimes they puke on the floor in your hall. No, wait……. that’s just Merlin.

Nah! Forget it, I’m trying to convince myself. Coercion is bad, even when it’s auto. Is that a thing? Did I just invent a new term? If I need to persuade myself that much, then maybe I really am OK and only feel socially obligated to think about it at this time of year. And write about it here, because, you know, it makes for a funny story. PANK still single! PANK crazy cat lady now! PANK hasn’t dated since she scared the living bejesus out of the nice illustrator.

So, for those of you who are loved up – well, good for you – for those of you who want to be loved up and aren’t, I see you, I love you, you are worthy of love and for those of you like me, who simply enjoy not shaving your legs, getting into your house trousers at 8pm and stroking your nonchalant pussy, well, you guys are my tribe.

Cheers to you all. Charge and raise your glasses and celebrate love of all kinds on all days. Especially self-love.

Not that kind.

(Well, maybe just a little bit).


To do list – 2020

• Marry an EU National.

The end





Only joking. About the ‘the end’ bit. Obvs. The marriage bit – notsamuch….. Otherwise this would qualify as the shortest (shittest) post I’ve ever written. This is not up for debate.

Nobody seems to be taking me seriously. I’ve been tentatively tabling the idea since June 2016 as follows: ‘Right! Let’s get me good and married.’

I’ve set it as a permanent homework for students since the result of the referendum. I’ve mentioned it to my hairdresser, GP, the man who pays my salary and very much to all the men friends I have. I need a European husband and pretty pronto, given the current timeline of Bozo and his cabal of hard Brexiters. As I understand it, I have until December 2020, so come on, let’s get cracking.

Despite constant reassurance that it is, indeed, just for the papers, the men I’ve spoken to definitely don’t (want to) understand that it’s *Just. For. The. Papers.

With my best interests at heart, some have entered into big bro mode – seeking to screen potential suitors for my guaranteed future in the EU, in the manner of a character from an Austen novel. Others, who are single, to whom I’ve said, ‘marry me for the papers‘, have suffered, I’m sure, anaphylaxis. The symptoms are all there: skin flushes, hives, the throat and mouth swell and they can’t swallow. There has been clutching of abdomens, nausea and some vomiting. Some described a sense of impending doom. They could all be possessed, of course. I’m not stupid, I’ve seen the documentary: The Exorcist. But I don’t think so. It’s because marriage not for the papers is ‘terrifying’, and marriage for the papers is, of course, one in the same. One even passed clean out. Poor soul. Quick, call Austen again, we’ve got a vapours situation over here.

It doesn’t matter how much I say, ‘it’s just for the papers’, it’s falling on deaf ears. Is it because I’m knocking forty-nine and have a cat? Fair enough, I suppose I’m fair game in that respect. Shouldn’t be, but probably am.

Because, of course, any woman in my situation can’t possibly just want a marriage of convenience. They must really want to get married (due to profound **single sadness syndrome) in the real sense, to finally fulfil that Disney dream. You know, for that happy ever after. Well here’s a message for ya, my ‘happy ever after’ is the ability to retain my full rights as an EU citizen and keep moving around the EU if and when I want, freely, until the day I die. You won’t see that in any Snow White adaptation, so stick that in your breeches, Prince fucking Charming.

There is, inevitably, the question of what I will be bringing to the party. Well, to paraphrase Jack Kerouac; I have nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. So whoever might decide to help a gal out would simply be an altruistic hero and would probably go to heaven. Or something. And of course, there’s the T. O. T. A. L. F. R. E. E. D. O. M. You can suffer two years of someone else’s post going to your house, can’t you? And you can use the situation to fend off real suitors with the genuine excuse of ‘I’m married’. Waggle that ring finger, baby. You can have an affair claiming ‘she doesn’t get me’ without having to do all the sneaking around, because you’d be in your place and I’d be in mine. Then when she wanted more, you could claim, ‘it’s complicated’….. I’m not advocating any of this, of course, I’m just saying it’s there should you want it. Come on chaps, isn’t that the dream? I’m doing the donkey work for you. If, for authenticity, a little kiss at the registry office is in order, I’ll spruce meself up for the occasion. I promise, sir (channels Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady).

Should there be occasion to spend some hours in each other’s company at any time during the mandatory two year period, in the words (or not) of another famed writer, I have nothing to declare (offer) but my genius. I may have tinkered with that a tad. And by genius, I mean witty repartee. And by witty repartee, I mean nonsense. You might be familiar with this.

The confusion of a woman wanting a marriage of convenience seems genuine and the fear seems not to be of the magnitude of the undertaking of marrying someone simply to help them out, but in the notion of marriage itself. As if once those papers are signed they’ll come home to find all their soft furnishings changed, their pants in the wash basket (stereotype? You betcha) and me reclining like Babs Cartland on the sofa with the – heaven forfend – remote control in my hot little married hand. Oh the humanity.

And so it is I continue upon my quest, like a secondary character from Lord of the Rings, hoping, at some point in the not to distant future, to be able to place that European ring upon my finger. I’ll keep you posted on progress, my Precious……

* (unless of course they’re handsome and charming, in which case I may be persuaded otherwise)

** made it up, sounds plausible.

End of decade review

It’s a long one, strap in…….

What. A. Decade.

This time, ten years ago I was living with a man, managing a jazz festival in the north west of England and anticipating my oncoming forties with all the dread of a fever dream in which you are frozen to the spot as a juggernaut heads straight for you. I was celebrating Christmas with the man’s family in Mexico, with no idea of how radically my life would change in the next four months.

April 2011: Having only just recovered from the shock of hitting the big 4 – 0, I returned home early one afternoon after having been given the news that I was one in the first round of redundancies due to funding cuts where I worked. Then a receipt for a sex toy (that had not been gifted to me) fluttered to the floor from my boyfriend’s wardrobe as he was pulling out a jumper. Hmm. Bit of a pickle. Bit. Of. A. Pickle.

This two-short-links chain of events would see me retrain to teach English as a second language, get stupid drunk, a lot, lose so much weight a middle-aged French woman said I was hot (do you understand the kudos?!) and pack up and set off with two suitcases to the spare room of a friend’s house in another country to see what might ensue. When we still could, you know, move around Europe freely. More of that later.

The decade has been quite remarkable in so much as it seemed pretty good at the beginning: in no particular order, we had the launch of the first iPad, Andy Murray won Wimbledon, not once but two whole times, Watey Katie finally got her man, we tussled ‘good naturedly’ over *that* dress (it was blue), same sex marriage finally became legal in the US, Obama was still POTUS and the London Olympics was just an epic, AMAZING homage to everything that was wonderful about the UK……. aaahhhh, remember that feeling? Pride I think they called it.

Then Cincinnati Zoo went and shot Harambi and the whole world turned to shit.

British football teams continued to not win major international tournaments despite the country being covered in flags. Turns out, they don’t possess magic powers. The flags, I mean. Or the British come to that. Iceland knocked England out of Euro 2016. But, they did introduce the world to that chant. So you know, swings and roundabouts.

It now resides in my special bank, along with the All Blacks’ Haka. (Believe me, I’d post that video too if I had the room).

It was the decade I finally felt I found my home, and then promptly lost the right to live in it because a bunch of people I don’t know (and my mother) voted against EU migrants. Of which I am one…. along with five million others of us scattered across the Continent. That did and still does include you United Kingdom (bellend).

Big kick in the slats. Big. Huge. As Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman would say. Or words to that effect.

I did Glastonbury that one time it didn’t rain and promptly forgot I’d seen Dead Weather and Shakira due to the sheer volume of cider I consumed. I also completely forgot that I’d seen the Streets in Liverpool. Strangely, neither of these blackouts prompted me to tone down the alcohol consumption. That wasn’t to happen until summer 2018. I travelled to Sri Lanka, Mexico, New Zealand and several European destinations including Munich in Germany, Parma, Rome and Naples in Italy, all over the Costa Brava and Malaga in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal and Toulouse, Marciac, and Paris in French France several times. It was here, the most romantic city in the world, that I received two of the most wonderful compliments in my life on two different occasions from two different people: “You’re really funny” and “You were just lying there, like a Delacroix”. I’m not sure which is my favourite. ^whispers^ ‘funny’…… I was a jazz groupie for three years. I learnt (am still learning) a new language, I started a little freelance business, I met a bunch of really cool people from all four corners of the globe (one for the flat earthers, there). I fell down two flights of Metro steps and didn’t die, dated a guy for a year (go me!), and another one for a month (amongst others). He, I learned – just before that month was up, like literally seconds, had once smashed a glass into his own face because he was so happy in a nightclub. That was back at home in Serbia when he were a wee lad….. and back in May of this year, I stopped dating. MayBE forEVer.

I fully embraced my ‘I am a free spirit’ spirit when I moved out of the shared flat I had after my friend’s spare room and into my own place in the heart of the hectic, noisy, dark Gòtic, in 2014. Men went, and came. It was during this period, which I like to refer to as my Renaissance, that I was seduced by a twenty-six year old French boy. It might be the only time in my life that I will ever be seduced, in the purest sense of the word. It was beautiful and I will forever treasure the memory. In stark contrast, after two years in the barrio, I also started fantasising about buying flame throwers on EBay so I knew it was time to flat hunt in a quieter, less crazy neighbourhood. Far, far away from Sidecar. Look it up.

2016 happened.

This is when I convinced myself we were all on the set of some elaborate Truman Show-esque light entertainment telly programme. Only, two things were missing – lightness and entertainmentness. You couldn’t make it up. (Unless you were in the writers’ room.)

What the hell world? I’m sure Nostradamus, or one of the various guys who wrote the Bible must have foreseen this. What do they say about what happens next? Any historians or scientists or theologians out there shed any light? Get Greg Jenner on the blower. Or Brian Cox. Or the Pope. Someone must know when Pandora will shut her box again and let us get all those big ugly, angry, racist and xenophobic worms back in the can. (And while we’re waiting, we can just, like totally mute them on Twitter.) When did everyone start fewmin’? I thought that just happened in Liverpool (one for my Scouse friends, there).

There’s a clown in the White House and a clown in Downing Street and the globe is burning. There’s a song in there somewhere, eh, Billy Joel?

Wow. There’s a reference.

However……. despite the shitshow that is the latter half of the 20teens (how do we say it?), there is a whiff of hope. Among the rubble of humanity, the kids are mobilising. They are kind and thoughtful and they care. And they march and they strike from school and I believe them to be ‘woke’. God, I feel old. They know shit too. Malala, Thunberg, Femi Onuwole. I wouldn’t challenge any of them in their chosen fields, I think they’re bloody amazing. Can you imagine seeing them in office in the not too distant future? ^looks off wistfully into the middle distance^ We can but dream…..

Talking of young people, a decade is a bloody big deal when you were born in two thousand and something. The changes in my nieces and nephews have been immense. From their births to the oldest visiting universities for entry in September, the time has rocketed by. For crying out loud, at least two of them are six feet tall! They’re all so responsible and sorted and not at all like we were at their age. I’m amazed by them and in awe of them.

This tiny glimmer of hope was, unfortunately, unable to stem creeping anxiety. I got pills and saw a *therapist. For three years it was like being in a plane and the floor suddenly disappears and only the flimsy seatbelt is keeping you from plummeting thirty thousand feet to your death. Not wholly unsurprisingly, this coincided with Brexit.

I seriously got my politics on. I mean, the whole world seriously got its politics on, didn’t it? In the last three and half years I’ve signed enough petitions to last a life time, donated to more court cases than I can remember (very proud to say I contributed to the case that stopped Johnson’s October 2019 bullshit), attended more meetings with the British Consul than I would have liked/ imagined would be necessary back when I arrived and written to my British MP, like, a gazillion times. ^raises fist in solidarity with literally anyone who isn’t a complete bellend^.

So here we are at the end of the tweens (is that it? Am I even close?), and I finally took responsibility for something that wasn’t a plant. In January a rescue kitten arrived. Responsibility not being my forte, I of course freaked out, but after eleven months Merlin is still alive. So, you know, that’s something. A very good decision if I do say so myself, as he’s an absolute joy to have around. And so soft. So soft in fact, that when he dies, I’m going to have him stuffed in the shape of a stole and then when I die, my siblings will bury me with him wrapped around me. We had a little practice run. I think it went rather well. 👈🏼

There were heavy celebrity losses this decade: amongst many others there was Prince, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams (I was surprised how hard this hit me, I cried for a week), Carrie Fisher, Stephen Hawkin (I felt suddenly unanchored), Joan Rivers, Burt Reynolds, George Michael and Aretha Franklin. George Clooney and Prince Harry took their grade-A loins off the market and a lot of us mourned that too. I’ve embraced body neutrality – thank you Jameela Jamil, embarked on peri menopause – thank you mother nature and started using factor 50 as my daily moisturizer – thank you Heliocare (makes note to tag them and sit back and wait for the products to roll in). I started writing a book. And if it never sees the light of day, I will finish it and add to my list of accomplishments. I’ve never really had a plan or a list of life goals I could tick off, but I’ve done some shit.

It’s been a bloody rollercoaster ride.

My hopes for the next decade? Just that everyone will calm the fuck down a little bit. We’re all so tired. I want to go back to liking good boi Twitter posts and not despairing during dinner with friends about vote rigging. Remember those days? Come on guys, be decent.

It takes only seventeen muscles to be kind to other people and a thousand and ninety one to be a cunt.

That’s a lot of effort. Ask Donald Trump. I hope everyone starts meditating. I hope we can all be more pleasant to ourselves. I hope I eventually have at least some money to put down on a place here and I hope, finally, I can stay in said place should it ever come to fruition. I’d like the world to be a lot more peaceful in my fifties than it was in my forties. Not just for me but for life in general. I think we all deserve a little bit o’ that. Don’t you? (I’d also like to not turn fifty, but that’s not going to happen, is it?)

Welcome 2020. Play nice.

*There are enormous benefits to seeing a mental health professional. I can wholeheartedly recommend it. But don’t fall in love with your shrink.

Nev..ver hap..pened.

World Mental Health Day 2019

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last post and these are my sins….

I’m quite sure that not writing anything for this long is a mortal sin, but I need to look it up on (pretty much the exact name of the site I got the confession words above).

The reason for my absence? Apart from an epic lack of imagination, brought about primarily by the state of the world at the moment; life is actually pretty dull, on the day to day. But, picture if you will, a duck. I function like a duck. I am The Duck of Existential Dread. On the surface, most everything is calm and serene, but under the surface, my mental legs are going like the clappers.

Summer went off peacefully and warmly. Friends and family passed through, filling my time with laughs and linen changeovers. For the latter part of August, I was mooching, eating good food, chatting up a storm and pampering. Can’t complain. Some of my favourite humans shared my holidays and were a welcome distraction. Apart from that, the stuff that makes great stories (you remember: assholes, drama, dating, partying, traveling) is, for the most part, on the back burner while I navigate the choppy undercurrents of the daily news.

Not dating, and not missing dating, has been a revelation. I’ve got enough on my plate, waiting to hear my fate with regards to the whole Brexit debacle, without trying to accommodate the emotional demands of another person; or indeed, myself in that situation. Dating while on an emotional knife edge ain’t pretty. Read my post on how not to date and you’ll understand.

One source of joy has been NOT DEPILATING! (don’t judge me, you take it where you can find it.) What new found freedom is this?! I didn’t go to the beach this summer, so between that and the lack of potential intimacy, I didn’t see the point. And it was fucking glorious. Think a reworking of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’; but with fur and in reverse. I didn’t really appreciate how exhausting it all is until I stopped doing it. One less thing to worry about.

My anxiety has been ever present, but in the days since Johnson took office along with his band of merry criminals, it’s been more prevalent. Every day they said something regarding immigration or pissed off another EU dignitary (see Belgian, Spanish and German); my fear increased, and the reality of the consequences hit home as the deadline approached. I could be asked to leave this country.

If I could explain how busy my brain is, I would but it’s impossible as it’s just constant noise. That too is exhausting. Ain’t nobody got time for dating (or shaving) while the Duck of Existential Dread paddles like shit, under the surface. Not knowing what the hell is going on is torturous, but at least it’s just me and the cat. I can’t imagine the frustration and hurt of families with a foot in both camps, in the same situation. It’s awful. It’s all consuming and honestly, all joking aside, there really isn’t room for much else.

Hence, no post. What’s really occupying most of my waking life (and sometimes also sleepy time), is just that, and I don’t want to bore anyone of you with that, that’s not what this blog was/is about.

I can’t imagine my view on dating changing any time soon, as it’s been one less pressure to accommodate.I’ve been too frazzled to dip my toe back into that murky pool. Honestly, not even idle curiosity has seen me glance in the direction of a hot guy or at Tinder et al. OK, that’s not strictly true, attractive men I cross paths with, or brush shoulders with in cafes are rewarded with a momentary mention in my internal dialogue. But for the most part, logic kicks in and talks me out of anything more than a cursory nod/coy smile, by playing out the endless conversations about the idiocy of the UK (and never ending grooming).

As a way of compensating, I’m also nesting. I think it’s a backlash to the situation. On some subconscious level, I think that if I make my home really special, there’s no way the authorities will kick me out. Which of course, is ridiculous. I’m moving things around. I’m throwing things out. I’m donating to charity. I’m trying to curate art by illustrators I enjoy. It’s the emotional equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and repeating ‘LaLaLa‘ over and over again.

Merlin is an endless joy. What a godsend he’s been. There’s nothing like a purring bundle of fur to calm your frazzled nerves.

And so, I thought it apt on the World Mental Health Day, to share this openly.

When people ask ‘How are you?’ and I say ‘fine’, it means fine for me. Fine for me is a permanent nagging anxiousness in the pit of my stomach, pain in my shoulders and chest and a desire to get home as soon as possible. Those are the days that it simply is what it is and I go to work and do the shopping, see friends and feed the cat. It’s permanent.

Other times, it disturbs my sleep with nightmares leaving me exhausted in the morning, I drag myself out of the house, put on my work face, because as a freelance: no work, no money. It burdens me with an inability to function like a regular human in social situations. When I’m not obligated to go out, I lock myself in and call in even the basics like water, because I am quite literally, physically pinned by fear and incapable of going downstairs to the the corner shop. Those are the worst days.

So, for the most part, that’s the reason I haven’t posted. I haven’t been able to clear a corner of my mind long enough to fill it with funny stuff, life observations, general musings.

Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. It really is that simple. Although it may not feel like it at times.


AP xx

For the love of sweet baby Jesus

What is with this heat? It’s not time…..

Water is pouring out of every part of my body. What is happening? Why aren’t I smaller? Why this is hell, nor are am out of it…..

I’m a bit hot.

Scorching temperatures have arrived (it’s already 36 degrees) and are expected to increase in a freaky heat wave that is gripping mainland Europe. Hello there, welcome to the weather forecast…… apparently, I’m branching out. I may be delirious. I’m sure I can see a camel crossing my lounge through the wavy heat.

This hell has sparked the premature arrival of the time of year I like to call; Arseageddon. Two months mostly spent trying to avoid a visibly sweaty back end. You know, that moment, when you stand up after say, a lovely lunch or dinner with friends, or from the desk after class, and realise you have, what I adoringly like to refer to as the ‘bum smile’. No? ^tumbleweed^ Just me then.

Sadly, I am not a woman who glows, or one who has enough money to invest in a surgically managed sweat-free body, a la Kim Kardashian. I perspire. Ok. It’s perfectly natural and human and anyone who thinks otherwise can kiss my arse. Actually, that is not recommendable any time of the year, especially not at the moment.

Most women’s press would have you believe it’s unsightly and dirty and something to be ashamed of. It’s nature’s way of keeping cool. End of……. end of….. see what I did there?

Despite knowing better than feeling embarrassed, I do remember the first time the bum smile happened to me, before I was used to the notion that when humans get hot, they sweat and it shows (British, you see). I had just arrived in Barcelona and went out for a couple of drinks and pintxos with a bunch of people I didn’t know from the school I’d got work in. We went to the FURNACE AT THE GATES OF HELL (a tiny, packed bar). After sitting for only a few minutes, stressed out of my tree (new country, new people, only six hours a week work secured), I needed to pee and stood up, only to realise that my khaki cargo pants were stuck to my rump. Khaki banished from the summer wardrobe forever. And any shade of blue, except navy. And red, orange, green… Listen. Basically black and dark pattern are ok this time of year. Punto. I scuttled to the bathroom like a naked and vulnerable hermit crab looking for a new shell before the seagulls swoop in. Trying to avoid the table of colleagues seeing evidence of my stress in the heat, while also trying to avoid every other patron of Satan’s kitchen from seeing it too was a lost cause. Mor…..tif…..ied.

During the summer months, every moment seated is a moment spent contorting into wholly unnatural shapes you never knew were possible, to avoid a hundred percent contact with the chair and minimise the consequences. I really should get around to giving yoga a whirl, I’ve been threatening it for years. I might be better at it than I expected.

And my ass is just the underside of the iceberg. If you have breasts or arms or a face and neck, or skin, then you are going to appear as if you just stepped out of a shower, for approximately sixteen hours of every single day for at least the next two months. We’re human, we perspire. Get over it. All we can do is endeavour to make it as comfortable as possible in the coming months. Assume the position, people! Spread eagle in front of a fan on full blast, barely moving an inch. But not in work. That would not be cool. *Actually, it literally would.

So, as I dig out the flimsiest clothes I can get away with wearing on a daily basis, and limber up for another week of perching and lifting, while ducking from air-conditioned office to cafe to bar, I’m already quietly looking forward to storm season…… and buying my own body weight in talc and industrial-strength Rexona.

Now, anyone know how to get into the ratchet operated man-spray? Heat-addled lady brain, you see……

*I am in no way advocating nakidity in the workplace.

How not to date – a simple tale

Act one: the set up

Dipped my toe into Tinder’s murky waters for a couple of days. I swear, it’s as addictive as Lays campesina crisps. Or crack. I have partaken of only one of these.

Nice chap, artist, illustrator, cartoonist, educator……… and founder of his own art-based charity to help refugee children. ^does a million swoons^. Like, totes adorbs, right? Of course. A week of chat before we could find a mutually suitable day. Chat ranging from music tastes – very similar, to interest in arts – his professional, mine amateur, to life in general – neither a fan of drama, etc. etc. He says he’s going to marry me, he’s got a good feeling. Bit freaky but roll with it, I think his tongue is firmly in his cheek. He sends me a cute little illustration on the morning of the date. (Which I can no longer look at, due to shame). Read on.

Act two: the date

Meet tiny illustrator, who is very cool, cuter than his photos and doesn’t appear fifty, in any way, shape or form. Have a couple of beers while we chat. He brings gifts….. two books and a selection of artwork from the charity website. ‘Stop it!’, I say, ‘I didn’t bring anything.’ I feel slightly fuzzy due to heavily reduced alcohol intake over the last year. In fact, the date may actually be the first anniversary of my decision to stop being a drunken idiot. Double fabulous. Woohoo! Fuzzy feeling does not stop me consuming red wine while we have a bite to eat…. said bite being a cheese board and little else. Uh oh.

We’re having such fun we decide to not call it a night when the restaurant shuts, and go on to a bar. Lovely. I am very sensible and stick to red wine. Probably glass number three now. Uh oh. And then we move to the last bar, which actually is en route home, as we live very close to each other in the same direction. Dear lord, maybe the stars really are aligned tonight and this is going to be all the lovelies.

Act three: how it ends

In said bar, where I am having glass four of red wine, (I must interject here to say, he too was drinking, now on his third gin) a couple of dodgy looking characters walk in and appear to start giving people drugs. Me being a perennial people watcher, I draw his attention to what’s happening behind him, merely commenting that humans are fascinating and that they are not being terribly discreet. His response, ‘do you want some drugs or something?’ No, of course not, but look at them. Not everyone is as fascinated by these things as me it would seem. Oops.

We leave the bar as things appear to be getting a little rough and continue our walk home. On the corner where we part company, we have a little kiss and he suggests coming to mine. I politely decline and go home and get into bed and write the following texts (in Spanish):

‘If you just want a quick shag, then I am not the woman for you. Fuck you!’ – send

But on the other hand, thank you for a lovely evening! It’s been a lot of fun!‘- send

His response, ‘Sorry?’

Me, ‘Oh, OK! Thanks again for a great night!

Reader; I married him!

(Of course I didn’t. I never heard from him again) and who can, quite frankly, blame him, when the woman in question appears to be Jekyll and Hyde, with a transition period of a nanosecond……

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to date.


If you’re not entirely sure of the message of this post, it is this: don’t be a crazy bitch.

Also: please donate here ❤️

Progress is a dish best served….

…extremely slowly. Never mind the slow-food revolution, I’m pioneering the slow-life movement. And when I say movement, I really mean a very gentle amble.

When they say, don’t sweat the small stuff, you can guarantee I’m ‘glowing’ profusely pretty much all time. Progress is PANK speak for the smallest of things – paying a bill, filing your tax return, (or your nails), wiping down that particularly dusty shelf. It literally took me two weeks of passing it and saying, ‘I really must wipe down that very dusty shelf’, to actually wipe down the very dusty shelf. Getting out of bed at the weekend – one small step for man, one giant leap for PANKind.

Accompanied by much heavy exhaling and eye rolling, I grudgingly fired up the old laptop and trawled through my bank statements of 2018, composed an email with the details of my expenditure and sent it off. You’d think a pharaoh had casually asked me to fetch another two tonne block for Giza. It really wasn’t such a big deal and actually only took me an hour. Could have done that at the end of a March as per, but the thought really bloody annoyed me. Why? Because it was time spent out of sitting on my ass on the balcony, or sitting on my ass bingeing Mad Men. Do you mind, very much? I am sitting on my arse. Good day to you, sir!

Bank account brain, ‘But there may be a rebate in it for you.’

Sitting on my ass brain, ‘You think I don’t know that?’

Funny thing is, filing a tax return is an ass-sitty job.

With the same level of enthusiasm, I did a supermarket shop. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’d be more animated about feeding myself in order to stay alive. You’d also be forgiven for assuming that I would be a svelte example of ladydom with that attitude. Your honour, I refer you to exhibit a), previous blog post – pit pony reference.

I can’t blame the heat either as it’s been pretty chilly here, relatively speaking.

The joyful thing (always a silver lining, guys, always a silver lining) about finding these mundane, everyday tasks such an upheaval, is that once they are done, you can legitimately reward yourself. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for the things we achieve every day, because we all think that they are simple tasks that everyone else is managing effortlessly. So what we do is just get on as if nothing has happened because celebrating would appear churlish, when all the other grownups are keeping ten balls in the air. ^whispers^, they’re not. Those folk are one in a gazillion and good for them, but for the most part, we are winging adulting and don’t have a clue what’s going on.

So, give yourselves that pat on the back, bar of chocolate, a pair of shoes, a holiday. Why the hell not? It’s not always easy, the day to day, and for the rest of us mere mortals, the achievements we make are going to be real life, bill-paying, home-maintenance, keeping flowers/animals/kids alive. If you save all the celebrations for unseating Donald Trump or halting climate change – then your whole life will be spent waiting for the big one. Celebrate your contribution to those things instead – a vote for a progressive (somewhat normal, kind) individual. Make sure you recycle. Those things may seem small but they are a valuable contribution.

And with that in mind, after getting myself up, dressed and out and placing some examination papers in front of students all day – I’m going to pick up some sushi on the way home and pop out for a glass of something ice-cold later. I’ve earnt it.