Sunday, 31 May 2015


Here’s the thing. I need a haircut. It’s been literally years.

I get that thick hair is seen as a blessing, but with summer coming I’m seriously going to struggle under the weight of this mat I carry on my head. Plus there are more split ends than I have time to chop off by myself.

The reason I’m not keen on going to the hairdressers is because it’s another introvert vs extrovert thing. I’ve made a checklist of phrases I’m going to repeat to myself before I head in and am plonked in a chair facing a huge mirror (ARGH! Is that what I look like?!) beside a window (ARGH! People!)

"I want my hair thinned, please."

I usually get “Oh that’s not necessary!” or they pretend not to hear. Or maybe they actually don’t hear because I’m basically inaudible most of the time.

Mrrfph! (And hello boys).

This is my hair washing routine, right. Bend over bath, get hair wet (this alone can take a while), massage in shampoo for a coupla minutes, rinse that shit, apply conditioner (10p’s worth? More like a fiver’s worth), let that shit soak in for 15 minutes. Rinse. Let it dry naturally for a while. Apply Lush R&B. Finish it off with blowdryer and heat protection spray. If I still have energy, straighten, or (more likely) leave til next morning.

I’m tired of this. Fewer hairs please. Snippety-snip.

"Two inches means two inches."

I know exactly how much hair I want gone. Don’t talk me into saying bye to more. My hair is thick and wavy; if it’s too short it’ll curl up and I’ll look like a poodle. I need it a certain length to pull it straighter.

"MORE hairspray."

I mean, have you ever set foot outside this salon? Do you know how breezy Brighton is? There is no point trying to maintain any hairstyle without at least a can's worth of hairspray before heading out in that whirlwind.

"Don’t tell me off for dyeing my hair at home. "

I once had “Someone’s been playing with colour, haven’t they!” from a senior stylist. Yes, and someone’s also a grown woman and wishes to be spoken to as such.

"No, I don’t want a fringe."

You may be in an experimental mood buddy, but I'm not. Plus it wouldn’t suit my face shape. Plus see weight point and breeze point above.

"MORE serum."


Basically I’m paying for the service, you should comply with my demands. I know you’re worried about the reputation of your salon but I’m not going to go out with name of it branded on my FRINGE-FREE forehead for all to see. The times when I’ve given the hairdresser free reign to do whatever they thought was best I’ve been uncomfortable with the results. I’m more likely to recommend a place when I can say "they did exactly as I asked."

Which also applies to tattoo parlours. But that's a story for another time...

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Election Infection

So I skimmed over this news about changes to strike laws this morning. Apparently, "Unions said the plans "will make legal strikes close to impossible"." That's the Tories for you!

I think the problem is not enough young people are voting. Well, I know it. They think, "I can't make a difference" "they're all c*nts" "what's the point" etc etc. I was one of them. I didn't vote for most of the time since returning to the UK in 2002. I'm more politically aware now, so I feel able to make an informed judgement.

So you get the retired people, and the older folks who stand to profit the most, being the ones who actually go to the polling stations. (Personally I use a postal vote and am very much looking forward to the system joining the 21st century when we finally get to do online voting!)

If the Lefties could only pour more of the energy spent in designing witty mock manifestos in getting younger people riled up enough to vote then outcomes could be a lot different.

Don't ask me how though. I don't design the curriculum. Or write TV shows. Or pop songs. Or sell hoops and sticks or whatever it is young people play with these days.

I propose leafleting (unless you're the Greens, talk about hypocrisy eh!) with designs featuring some of the common elements found on flyers for festivals that young folk flock to. The 'a' of Labour replaced with a triangle, for instance. // Sentences divided with forward slashes. // Totes reem and ting!

This could be your background:

Oh crap. I've started doing it. Piss-taking mockufestos. It's quite fun though, I'll give you that.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Challenge 'Challenge 25'

I’ll vote for whatever party gets rid of this ridiculous ‘Challenge 25’ bollocks.

In Spain I wasn’t ID’d at all. That’s because they probably only ID people that look under the ACTUAL LEGAL AGE. Also there's this fear of alcohol in England, probably because of alcohol-related domestic violence incidents, that you just don't get so much on the continent. Alcohol is served without fear the youthful-looking imbiber is going to turn into a flailing urinating slurring monster. The key is to start everybody off early. Milk from one teat, whiskey from the other, perhaps.

I’ve gone through various stages of how I react to being ID’d:-

- Ages 18 – 22: “Ooh, isn’t this exciting! I get to use my passport for something at least!”

- Ages 23 – 26: “Ooh, isn’t this exciting! I get to use my full driver’s license!” For way more times than I would use it to actually drive, as I was to discover.

- Ages 27 – 29: “Well this is kinda annoying, but I guess I’ll just do what everyone is telling me to do and take it as a compliment. Like how I listen to random guys on the street when they say “cheer up love!” and flash ‘em a smile and maybe some tits.”

Ages 30 onwards: “This is fucking stupid now. I’m at least ten years older than you, you spotty owl-tattooed meedja studies Bastille-loving goon. Give me my beer.”

The way the assistants stare so sternly at you makes you feel like a criminal when you’re actually doing something perfectly legal. I slink out of shops clinking my bottles feeling as though I had a close call.

Three ID-ing related incidents: The man in Co-op who said after seeing my ID “Have you had a good life?” Although maybe his English wasn’t so great and he meant to ask whether I’d had a nice day.

The frightened rabbit-like girl from Tesco who was unsure if she should serve me because my driver’s license stated Belgium as my place of birth. Where I’m born doesn’t make me a different age, love!

The staff at the Bristol who informed the middle-aged couple who had bought me a drink (co-workers, not a sex thing) that I was to go up to the bar to present my ID. They didn’t mention anyone else in the party, which included two women of my age. I laughed at being singled out, and after knocking back a swig a beer declared the bar staff could come the fuck over to the table if they were that bothered. Which they did.

I’ve started giving it some backchat now, for laughs.

Co-op man: “How old are you?”

Me: “30”

Co-op man: “Could I see some ID please?”

Me: “You know, you could’ve just asked for the ID first. A laaaaady never reveals her age!” *mock fanning of self*

Co-op man got in fluster and apologised like nine times and I felt bad for making him feel bad so thanked him profusely for each individual item of shopping he bagged up for me. It was very British.

Backchat occasion No.2:

Newsagent man: “May I see some ID please?”

Me: “I’m old; I’m just short.”

(It is discrimination against us shawties after all!)

I started getting my ID out but newsie bloke was just laughing and said “No, I believe you!”

Using that one more in future.

Although hopefully in future I won’t have to, because this Challenge 21/25/30/65 is going to be abolished, right? Because you should only be ID-ing people that look under 18, right?

Another reason whoever’s behind this crackpot idea should think again is because with the advancements in the beauty industry everyone’s looking younger for longer. I’ve seen teenage girls on Instagram and Twitter already boasting about the ‘age-delay’ moisturisers they’ve purchased.

So yeah, considering changing my response to “I’m not young, good sir, I’m short and I use No.7 Protect and Perfect which reduces the appearance of fine lines and contains active ingredients that help to repair and protect as well as helping to tackle blemishes..."

And I should definitely get a free beer for giving away my beauty secrets. Or maybe they'd get so bored they'd give me free beer to go away.

I did that How Old thingamy recently and got 27. Acceptable. And above the '25' limit everyone's been told to look out for or lose their jobs serving a minor (24yo). Just get the app and scan everyone's faces with that thing maybe. Just ffs stop ID-ing men with beards and women with wrinkles.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The First Time

On the bus to Dad and stepmum’s after work. Fidgeting, as I was about to drive their car alone for the first time, without an instructor’s feet hovering above a second set of pedals beside me.

Yet another stop. I wouldn’t miss these fifty minute stop-start journeys.

Finally I arrived at my destination, and the bus hissed off. Crunch on gravel. Knock at door. I always forgot my spare set of keys. Again I wondered if I was up to the task of looking after a car and yet more keys.

Anita opened the door. “Hello love.”

“Is that Karen?” I heard Dad ask from his armchair.

“Hello Dad,” I said.

“Looking forward to driving?”

I shrugged. I wouldn’t say it was the best term for what I felt. I peered through smoke-stained net curtains at the red Ford Fiesta parked outside. I’d been kindly insured me on it. Actually, they’d done that without me asking. I expected I’d be chauffeuring often in the upcoming weeks.

It was getting darker out.

Dad was unusually chatty. He normally saved his breath for arguing with newsreaders or asking Anita for more biscuits. But I was actually being asked about jobs and boyfriends. While honoured to partake in some paternal bonding, I was also keen on returning before nightfall. Driving alone for the first time was nerve-wracking enough, but add darkness to that and you’ve a recipe for a panic attack.

“Have you performed all the checks on the car?”

I sighed. “No, I’ll go and do those now.”

I was poking about under the hood, then realised I was being watched from the front door. Dad leaning on his stick, Anita peering over his shoulder. My brow began to shine. Would the whole street like to come and watch?

“Better get going.” I slung my bag onto the passenger seat. “Getting rather dark now.”

“Have you remembered to check the oil?”


“Have you closed the bonnet properly?”

“YES.” I took my phone out to have a peep at the time.

“Oh, would you come back inside for a minute, there’s been some post for you.”

Quietly fuming, I collected it. Finally, I was off, and with the quickest wave hands that didn’t want to leave the wheel would allow I drove off. In darkness.

I followed the road I knew best, the most brightly lit. I followed the bus route.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Epidural, Schmepidural

I've found a cure for back pain. Or rather nerve pain. Gotta stop telling people it's back pain, it's friggin' nerve pain; it just happens to start off in my back.

Here's an explanatory diagram which includes ASS for attention-drifters:

It's called being on holiday and having a man to carry your shit around.


Picture by Alex (K)

I think an important factor was the lack of standing and queuing. In Brighton I seem to spend a lot of time waiting at busy crossings for lights to change, which absolutely kills, then I'm queuing up in supermarkets for painkillers, hopping from leg to leg or standing on my right leg (the one without the pain) like a flamingo.

The lesser-spotted Midgebird. Should you see one, feed it painkillers, M&Ms, or rum (or a combination of all) and it will leave you in peace.

Sitges had lots of pedestrian crossings, which was a blessing.

I think the way I was sitting was important too. Sofas. A luxury given I'm accustomed to bedsitland. I'm typing this from my bed, spine curled. Memories of chairs at restaurants and bars with back support. So good. Not sitting at a desk for 7.5 hours a day: also good. Variety of movement is key.

Also not having to be the one that carries stuff all the time was a blessing. Picking things up and carrying them compresses the thing that is leaking out of my vertebrae and pain shoots down my leg.

So the cure is just to be on holiday forever. And a helper to do the bending and lifting. Is that available on the NHS?

If looking through other people's holiday pics is your bag, check these out!