The Thigh’s the Limit


The other week my daughter (who is the length and build of a racing snake) commented that her thighs were fat and they should be covered up.  She’s eight.  And she’s not overweight.  Still coming back from the stratosphere after last week’s Cartastrophe,  I explained to all three of my children that hips, thighs and bottoms are very important, as not only do they hold your entire body up to permit you to move about, they also help to keep all of your internal organs in the right place.  I spoke at length about how important it is that these parts of your body are strong, and looked after, and in order to be strong and looked after, they need to have a food source and also some muscle to them which involves exercising, because they have the weight of whole body resting on them.  Who knows if they were listening to me?  They probably weren’t given that they kept asking me to move out of the way.  However, I spoke to Sister B earlier today and she said that Niece (also the height and build of a racing snake and aged eight) had made a similar comment whilst poking her thighs.  This displeases me intensely.

In an entirely unrelated conversation, a couple of weeks ago a friend revealed to me that at the age of forty she was “going to get the legs out.”  Rather than it being her issuing me with a warning to run for cover as she was about to strip off, she meant that she was wearing (woo-hoo) a dress with a short skirt.  Now when I say a short skirt, I don’t mean a bum-skimmer.  Just a perfectly decent and acceptable skirt above the knee.  She had decided that she was not going to hide her legs away anymore.  So after forty years of keeping them under wraps she has unleashed them.  And they are perfectly lovely legs, which I am given to understand carry her about without any difficulties and have been known to run occasionally.

Inspired by the latter conversation and enraged by the former, last week,  I purchased a pair of shorts.  I can hear you wolf whistling now.  And I don’t mind telling you that partly because I wanted to show my daughters that thighs without that ridiculous gap are normal and nothing to be ashamed of, and also because I too have spent forty years covering my legs up, I had all good intentions of wearing them.  They’re not short shorts.  Whilst I strongly believe that you should wear whatever the hell you like, as far as I am concerned, no matter how good my legs may or may not be, short shorts are only for anyone under the age of thirty and Kylie Minogue.  It is to my (and that of Man of the House’s) eternal chagrin that I do not fall into either of those categories.  Plus my legs are quite fair indeed; unlike Kylie’s, they are translucent rather than transcendent.

Of course, just by making a purchase, it is not as easy as all that for a woman to wear a pair of shorts.  Men buy shorts, put shorts on, and they’re good to go.  It’s like swimming.  Men think to themselves “oh I fancy a swim, I shall take my shorts, a towel and a pair of goggles and make my way to the local swimming pool.”  It should be that easy for women, but it isn’t.  Women think “oh I would like a swim.  But do I want to go through at least an hour of hair removal before I am fit to be seen in public? And where I am going to find this hour undisturbed so that I may gather my array of tools in order to shave, pluck and wax so that people will not gasp in horror or faint when I disrobe?”    So I had to commence on the task that is not dissimilar to painting the Forth Bridge.  Ladies of diminutive stature be grateful because whilst those of us on the taller side may be able to reach some things on the high shelves, not only do we continually bang our heads on the cooker hood, it also takes us bloody hours to shave our legs.  Deary me you don’t know how lucky you are.  So after a geological age, my leg hair was dealt with for at least twenty four hours.  I could have got the shorts on and the legs out there and then.  But I felt that it would be unkind to everyone, and especially unkind to the Hound who can only see in monochrome, not to do something about the glare.

I decided to set about dealing with this issue with some fake tan.  I first had a fake tan only a few years ago.  Man of the House had said “why don’t you have a fake tan before we go away?”  Thinking to myself “Blimey, if he thinks I need to have a fake tan, I really do need to have a fake tan” I immediately booked myself in to a beauty salon.  Someone stood me in a shower cubicle stark naked apart from the tiniest disposable pants in the world (me in the pants, they were professionally and appropriately attired for the task) and advanced on me with a spray gun.   If I hadn’t have given birth to three children when I couldn’t have cared less if a brass band had been in the room, I might have felt a tinge of embarrassment.  As it was, I barely flinched when I was asked to put myself in all number of ridiculous poses, which the therapist confidently assured me was to achieve the much-vaunted all over glow.

This year I thought that I could probably manage my legs myself. I had been advised by a friend that one should moisturise one’s legs prior to application of the fake tan to ensure even cover and no streaks.  I placed a towel on the bed, myself on the towel, moisturiser on my legs and then the fake tan.  I lay down to let it dry and closed my eyes.  That was a mistake.  I woke up to a little face next to me at the side of the bed, for whom a promising career in the diplomatic service awaits: “Mummy why are your legs orange?”  She should have looked more carefully.  They were orange at the front and stripey at the back.  A wash did not improve them.  So I am afraid that the shorts, and my not very subtle point about thighs are going to have to wait for a few days until the legs aren’t streaky and I can spend another eon shaving them.  By which time Summer will be over and I can retreat to the comfort of my jeans.  Thank God.





Photograph from

Not to be Sniffed at


At risk of utterly alienating the very few followers that I do have: I don’t have hayfever.  There. I said it.  I have never had it.  And hopefully I never will because it is awful, and has been particularly bad this week.  Nevertheless, and before you stop reading in disgust, I do have Sister A, a Childerbeast and a Man of the House who do.  And whilst I don’t live with Sister A anymore I do remember when we were little her having to bathe her eyes open in the morning because they had sealed up with goo in her sleep, and I also remember her coughing up pollen balls in a particularly attractive manner, not entirely dissimilar to a cat and a fur ball.

For my own personal viewing horror this week have been The Eldest Childerbeast and Man of the House.  It has been so bad for The Eldest Childerbeast that he has had time off school.  This was causing him particular distress when he thought that he might not be well enough to go on the annual school residential trip.  As far as I can tell the residential trip consists of getting wet and dirty, and near constant eating, so I can see why he would be upset at the prospect of missing out. Meanwhile Man of the House has still been off to the office looking rather like Sir Christopher Lee in Dracula most mornings because unless he were to have something instantly terminal, or I’ve told him that we-are-going-on-holiday-and-you-are-coming-with-us, he always goes to work.

So what to do with a Childerbeast who is obviously poorly, but you do have to try and teach them to cope with something that will probably happen every year?  First, like everyone else in the country at the moment, I went to Boots and bought out their range of hayfever products.  What a time not to be able to find your Advantage Card.  If you need any hayfever medication, anything at all, I’m your woman.  And if I haven’t got it I can guarantee I have a friend who does because her Childerbeast has also been struggling this week as well and between us we have the whole thing covered, probably for the next five years.

My First Parenting Fail of this week was quite late in the week really – Tuesday – in that I tried to dose him up and send him to school. I am the sort of person, like Man of the House is, that sometimes, most times, no matter how bad you feel you just need to get on with your day.  And I mistakenly thought that this was one of those times.  I had just sat down at the hairdressers when I received the call; begowned, my hair parted in that particularly attractive fashion that they do when about to put a colour on your hair, and with a stylist poised with the colour brush. I got up, apologised profusely to my lovely hairdresser who couldn’t have been more charming about it, and I left,  still sporting the cream that they put on your hairline to stop it dying your skin.   Five minutes later with the colour brush let loose and it would have been an even less attractive prospect, so I think we can all be grateful for that.  I was in such a dither driving to collect him, that I went around a roundabout twice.  I think that is because whenever I had a call for emergency childcare when I was in paid employment it never went down well at all and that was always made very clear to me.  The lowest point was when the nursery was being closed in the snow and I had to challenge my boss to let me leave the office to collect my child.  That is to say, if they had continued to say no, I would have just had to walk out because that was the position I was being put in. I tried to remind myself that this was not the same situation, there was no one effectively making me choose between my job and my child, and I did not have to react in the same way.  Also, if I kept going round the roundabout, then all it was going to do was make me dizzy and delay me further.  I got to school, got a reminder from the Eldest Childerbeast not to cuddle him until he was in the car, and popped him on the sofa under a blanket.

Second, we ditched the school thing and tried the range of hayfever products and paracetamol whilst lying on the sofa watching ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and eating popcorn.  That worked rather well.  If nothing else the sight of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn always serves as a healthy and pleasing reminder to me that I am married, not dead.  But it was not doing anything to get rid of the headache that had been making The Eldest Childerbeast feel so poorly.

Third, fruit.  Well it was okay, probably an ego boost from virtue if nothing else, but no discernible improvement.

Fourth, junk food  Not bad.  Helped.  A bit.

Fifth, a HEPA filter.  Every year I say I’ll buy one and every year I don’t.  This year I did.  Expensive.  But frankly I would have paid a King’s Ransom at that point to have a child who wasn’t so distressed. He believed his room to be pollen free.  I wasn’t going to tell him otherwise.

Sixth, a headache cooling patch.  That was good.  I recommend.  Not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before but I hadn’t.  Neither a long term nor practical solution for the young discerning tweenager about town.

Seventh, finally, and in desperation that he wasn’t going to make his trip, we went to the doctor.  Or The Prodders as they are called in our house.  The Prodder did indeed prod the Proddee.  There was nothing seriously wrong with him (I knew that but sometimes I need a medical professional to tell me) and she prescribed a steroid nasal spray.  The instruction to The Eldest Childerbeast was to stuff it up his nose and give it a big enough squirt so he can taste it running down the back of his throat.  That sort of disgusting instruction from a doctor was met with considerable enthusiasm.  The same enthusiasm with which he happily drank a bottle of ginger ale that he had won on the bottle stall from a vase that one of his friend’s had won on the tombola at the church fete last weekend.  And so it begins…..

Last night, after twenty four hours of snorting (medically prescribed) steroids, he was running around the house and shouting.  So much so that after the start of the week when I had that panic that you always have when your child is ill, I was more than happy for him to bugger off for four days.  Five would have been fine by the time he actually went to bed.  When he came in at half past four this morning to chat, I decided that a week would have been better and made a mental note to mention it to the Head when they get back.  Assuming that it is not my child who deliberately capsizes her kayak like someone apparently did last year.

I waved him off.  He even let me give him a kiss in public.  And as they departed my friend and fellow hayfever medication stockpiler asked me if I was okay.  I blamed the watery eyes on the hayfever that I didn’t think I had.  Apparently she had just the thing for it.  Turned out it was taking me to another’s friend’s house for a cup of tea and a biscuit.   They said it was too early for gin 😦




Photograph courtesy of blickpixel on Pixabay

The Emperor’s New Clothes


I read a very interesting piece the other week about women being the ones who bear the mental load of a family with children; the assemblies, the playdates, who doesn’t like bananas, the whereabouts of “that shirt I wanted to wear”, dishwasher salt levels, fridge supplies. I could go on for pretty much forever and most men probably won’t have a clue what I am talking about but I guarantee that most women, regardless of whether they are in paid or unpaid employment, will.

I think that the bearing of the mental load is particularly evident when considering the Summer Holiday. With the warmer weather you could be forgiven for starting to think about getting away. That is, if you can get through all the emails about GDPR to consider it. Whilst I am thrilled that anyone I have ever shopped with and people with whom I have never shopped are deeply concerned for my privacy and are exceedingly tearful at the prospect of us parting company, I am delighted that my inbox will no longer be filled with rubbish. I have therefore done what everyone else has done and that is to gleefully delete every single email begging me to stay in touch. I digress. We are planning on having a holiday in the Summer. I have booked a week in the Lake District as we have not been there before and Man of the House wants to go on a looooonnngggg walk with The Eldest Childerbeast. I booked and advised Man of the House of the dates. Now given that I bear the mental load in our house, I guarantee that it will not really be discussed in detail again until much nearer the time, save for requests for items of clothing to be bought or to check that general administration of said holiday is on schedule.

When we get to the date of the holiday, Man of the House will get up, shower and enquire as to whether we are all packed. He will then announce that he needs a clear run (i.e to be child free) so that he can Load the Car. Loading the car seems to be a big event in the male holidaying calendar. And I suspect it is because packing for the holiday is not. The planning involved in getting five people and a dog ready for a week away is a daunting task indeed. Not only do I need to get clothes for five people for a week, packing for all weathers, I also need to consider their potential ailments and how to deal with them, whether including a particular t-shirt/jumper is likely to cause offence to the wearer, whether we have sufficient numbers of pants and socks, how far we are likely to be able to travel before someone will need feeding/to be sick/a wee, and of course, there is the Hound.

Now I have no objection to being the one of the two of us to do this – Man of the House is not exactly sitting and contemplating his navel whilst I stockpile suncream. However, ’twas ever thus. Even when I worked full time for pounds sterling. And that seems to be the case for most of my female friends. For example, I have a friend who I hope is currently enjoying a holiday with her family. She and her partner both work for money. And yet it was she who was doing the washing to get ready for holiday and she who packed. I can’t think of one of my female friends who wouldn’t.. There must be one, but I am not sure who it is. Slightly off tangent, but same point – one male friend announced that he had just cleaned the whole house for his wife. I queried as to why it was for his partner (both partners work for money), as presumably, he also resides at the family home. He didn’t really have a answer. I know I didn’t.

Of course one of the things about packing for holiday with children is that you end up taking very little for yourself. If you’re going to have to do all of the packing and end up taking bugger all to wear, you might as well take one nice item. So I think, girls, it is time to treat ourselves and I have found just the thing. Pre GDPR and popping up in my timeline the other day was an item of clothing that was termed “a swimming costume”. I believe that these are two too many words for the item concerned as you can see for yourself here:  If unclear from the photograph, it is crafted in nude mesh so it would appear to give the illusion of the wearer being completely starkers. But don’t worry, there is a modesty panel to cover a tiny portion of your lady parts to save your blushes. Everything else, I’m afraid, is very much on display. But that’s okay because it is a swimming costume. Honest.

Before you poo-poo my suggestion, claiming that you neither have the figure of the model in the advert, nor the ego of someone who I have heard on the grapevine this week tells everyone that they don’t have a profile picture because they’re so attractive that they want to be known for their work rather than what they look like, I think you should re-consider. Once all of the running and screaming has piped down, picture the deserted beach. A mere snip at one hundred and twenty five pounds for a week. And takes up no room at all in a suitcase. Have a think about it.



I have been absent for the past few weeks for no other reason that I have been struggling to get my shit together in order to be able to write. I read an article about dispensing with the idea that you will have the time to sit and write for any period when you have children, and that you just need to write in the inbetween.  So here I am in the inbetween.  This morning you find me inbetween the Walking of the Hound and the Hoarding of the Food.  By the time I finish writing this I will probably be inbetween the Duvet and the Pillow.

Solicitors or rather, attorneys, are in the news again this week.  Turns out that President Fart’s lawyer did not pay over an enormous wadge of cash to the other side without his client’s instructions to do so. What an huge surprise that was.   It has made me think once again about the rules by which solicitors are (quite rightly) governed, those in other professions who are not, and those to whom it would probably not make a difference either way.

For the past four months I have been attempting to buy a new car.  I contracted to purchase a new car in January to be delivered at the end of March.  I agreed a price, I signed a contract and paid a deposit.  My first red flag should have been having to ask for a copy of the order form a fortnight after they had taken the deposit because it had not been sent to me.  Red flag number two was that the order form was dated the day that it was sent to me and not the date that the order was placed and the colour (very important) was wrong.  Red flag number three, hearing absolutely nothing at all between receipt of this form in January until I chased at the end of March to ask where the car was, that being when it was meant to arrive.  The email response I got at the end of March was a red flag to a bull.

Apparently the dealer had some good news.  After speaking to Head Office they could confirm that my car was going to be built in a fortnight.  It should be ready for the end of April or early May.  I was unsure as to why this was good news in that it was being built two weeks after it was meant to have been delivered.  Some email to-ing and fro-ing went on, but essentially the position was that I could either like it or lump it and my distinct impression was that they didn’t really care which.

A fortnight later I received another email.  In summary; the car should be with the dealer within a few days, it needed to be registered before the end of April or the price might go up, and could I send the money over?  I asked for information such as the date the car was expected to be with the dealer, why the price would increase when I had contracted to buy a product at a price, and the requirement for me to send the money now when they did not have possession of the car and I had not seen it.  I did not consider any of these requests unreasonable, but that is not how they seemed to have been received.  I said to Man of the House that I expected that if a man had been having the same conversation they would have thought of him as a firm but fair negotiator.  As a woman, I expect that they just thought of me as a bitch.

So bearing the above and my own profession in mind, I wonder if I may put a hypothetical conversation to you.  For the avoidance of doubt, I would never treat or ever speak to anyone, not even the world’s most ghastly person (if a solicitor refers to someone as ghastly or beastly, they are really very horrible indeed) like this.

Imagine I am acting for you on your property purchase of Buckingham Palace, upon which you instructed me in January, with all parties aiming for completion by the end of March.  This timescale fits with you getting started on the double-glazing over the Summer so it is all done and dusted ready for the Autumn.  This also suits Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she has a couple of family weddings coming up and she wants to be settled in her new abode before it all kicks off in May.  After hearing nothing from me since January, this conversation is taking place at the end of March.

Me: Good news, I think with a bit of luck and a following wind I might be able to complete in a fortnight.  Can you send over the money ready for completion?  It’s probably peanuts to you so you don’t mind do you?

You: Completion was to be for the end of this month. You haven’t been in touch since contracts were wrong in January when I asked to see a copy of the contract, parts of which were incorrect.

Me: [hands over ears]: Lah-di-dah…… so could you send the money anyway on the off-chance I’ll do it?  And can you send me my costs as well because it’s really important for me that I get my bill in for the end of this month even if I haven’t completed.  And by the way, if you don’t send the money before the end of this month the purchase price and my fees are likely to go up.

I was opining as to how the conversations would go for solicitors in other areas:


Client: Wasn’t there a deadline for submitting that to the Court?

Solicitor: Deadline, schmedline.  I’ll work to my own timetable, thank you.


Client: (4am).  I really need you here to advise me.

Solicitor: I’ll see you at 9am and not before.  Sweet dreams.

Private client:

Client: Is my Will ready to sign?

Solicitor: It’ll be ready when I’m ready to draft it.  If you die, you die.

If any of these were true I am sure that the SRA would be on it faster than me on a box of unattended After Eights.  And there are bad solicitors as in any other profession, otherwise the SRA would have had no need to strike off a solicitor who head-butted the other side (both litigants in person for the purposes of that matter) or investigate a firm where one solicitor sent what the judge investigating referred to as “breathtakingly rude correspondence” which included a letter saying “You will get nothing then.  Goodbye.” .  Of course some people do act out of character (the barrister acting for the solicitor struck off for administering a Glasgow kiss said that the stress of the case caused his client to behave in such a manner).   But it strikes me that rather like my Flybe debacle last year (see Fly Maybe blog) some people either just don’t get it, or worse still they get it and just don’t care.

So what do I do?  Headbutting would seem to be rather over the top.  I was going to write to their CEO and explain so they can try and put it right for the next customer, but that could cause someone to directly lose their job, or at least have a very unpleasant meeting with management; I don’t want to do that to anyone, particularly when the failings seem to be both systemic and endemic. And why should I care about their business when to all intents and purposes they do not care about mine?  When I mentioned where I was getting a car from to a neighbour this morning, entirely unprompted, they guffawed loudly and voiced an entirely uncomplimentary opinion. A complete stranger asked me in the showroom if I thought they were any good and when I said not she said that she had found it to be so awful that she was never going there ever again.  Perhaps I don’t need to do anything.  I think I’ll just never go back.





Photographs courtesy of scred and stux on Pixabay




Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything, take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath, every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more.

Christina Perri, A Thousand Years


I seem to have a problem with my eyes this week. It all started when, after admiring my lovely new hair do, I happened upon a video that has been made for World DS Day 2018, which is today. I sat and watched it and discovered that something was in my eyes. Both of them. It was a most unsettling experience, given that I had not been near an onion. It seems that I was not alone, the problem being specifically brought about when watching this video in particular. It is of fifty mums with fifty four year olds whose children share one extra chromosome; it has gone viral. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here and see how your eyes react.

I need to declare my hand here.  My nephew has DS. If you are a follower of my blog you will probably already know this.

Abortion is illegal in this country after twenty four weeks except for certain circumstances. One of these circumstances is where there is a substantial risk that if the child is born that they will suffer mental or physical abnormalities; this includes Down Syndrome. A blood test during one of my pregnancies raised the possibility (only the possibility) that my child may be born with a disability. I asked what the options were in such circumstances and the only one presented to me, the only one, was a termination. After some very direct and specific questioning I managed to extract some facts.  Me and Man of the House decided that termination was not a viable option for us, whatever abilities or disabilities that child I was carrying may or may not turn out to have. Other couples may have made a different decision. However, it cannot be that the only option offered is to terminate the pregnancy. What do less stroppy people do when presented with that by a medical professional as the only choice? The statistics bear out the answer. In the UK, ninety per cent of women who know that their child has Down Syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy. In 2015 that amounted to 689 terminations and rose to 706 in 2016. Under current laws our parliament, our government, those who have been elected to represent us, have legislation in place that gives the message out very loud and very clear that a a child with DS is less worthy of life than one without. I wonder if we will ever have the technology to screen murderers and thieves in utero and if we do, will we use it.  Sally Phillips had a point when she used the word ‘eugenics’.

Sister B (jumper stealer of Sister A – see While You Were Out) is the mother of Nephew. Nephew is four. Sister B declined being in that video because (and I paraphrase) she hates her face. First, this is something of an insult to me because we do look quite similar. So similar in fact that when he was a baby, I used to be able to hold Nephew so he would think he was being held by his mummy whilst she got on with doing something else. It was only when he got older that he was sitting on my lap and he looked at me, then over to Sister B, and then back to me, and was clearly wondering how she was doing that trick that all parents wish they could do of being in two places at one time. Whilst I do not consider myself to be a stunning beauty, I hadn’t ever thought that I, and consequently, Sister B, was so unattractive that it would cause people to turn away if they saw either of us in a video. And secondly, as I pointed out to Sister B, the video isn’t about her. Or any of the other mothers. It’s about the spaces between them and their children. The spaces between all of us. And how very small and very special they are.

On reflection I felt bad about saying this. It may support Sister B’s seemingly expressed view that she shouldn’t be seen, is best hidden away and only exists to help her children grow and thrive. Whilst most mothers feel like this a lot of the time, I suspect that mothers with children who have disabilities, and in this case, DS, feel this more keenly than most. Particularly in a country that has laws in place to screen their children out.  So what I want to say to Sister B on World Down Syndrome Day 2018 is this: I see you. When you have had a bad night and you are not at your most effervescent, I see you. When you insist on Nephew being referred to another doctor because the one in front of you doesn’t see the point in helping children with DS to hear properly, I see you.  Nasty looks from other people, I see you. Nasty looks followed by nudging, pointing and whispers that are anything but from other people, I see you.  When you read with Niece because you desperately don’t want her to miss out, I see you. Even when I am not with you, I see you. And when the day comes that I am not here to see you with my own eyes, I will still see you. I have loved you for a thousand years, and I will love you for a thousand more.






Photograph courtesy of Crepesuzette on Pixabay

Good Hair Day


I hope that you have all had a great couple of weeks of being fabulous and gorgeous.  I know I have.  I can’t tell you how wonderful and brilliant and not forgetting incredibly talented I have been.  And if it were possible to be even more alluring than I already am (pretty difficult, I know) I have also been to the hairdressers.

A woman’s relationship with their hairdresser is a mystery to most heterosexual men – they don’t seem to understand two things.  The first is how having their hair done is a recreational activity for a woman.  And the second is why it takes so very long.

The second one is easier to explain so I shall take that first.  Look boys, we generally have a lot more hair than you, even if it is just longer, and it therefore takes a lot more time to deal with.  We tend to have more complicated cuts, colours and blow drying which tends to increase with age. Whereas boys tend to have less hair and less interesting things done to it – if you ever were attentive towards your hair, then that is more likely to decrease with age.   I have a lot of hair even for a woman.  And when I say a lot of hair, a lot of hairdressers have not really believed me until they have witnessed it for themselves.  I am now familiar with the crestfallen look on the poor trainee’s face when they are presented with my barnet and told that it is their task to put the colour on it.

The first one is more difficult – the recreational aspect.  You know when you go to buy a new pair of shoes and you go into the shop with your old, grotty pair on your feet and you feel ashamed that you’ve been walking around with such awful shoes on that up until that point you didn’t think were that bad?  Then, after talking yourself out of the sparkly high heels (it’s not as if you go anywhere to wear them now) you leave the shop with a new pair of shoes that do not look as if they have been chewed and you feel like you’re dancing on air?  Well that’s how I feel when I go to the hairdressers.  Or to be more specific, that’s how I feel when I leave the hairdressers.  When I arrive, I usually look like the wreck of the Hesper.  A few hours later I leave looking like I imagine the Hesper did when she first began to founder (they’re hairdressers, not Hogwarts), but nevertheless a miraculous improvement on what fell through the door first thing.

Every woman reading this will be familiar with arriving at the hairdressers.  After what feels like two hours of shouting at someone to put their shoes on, and searching for a lost cardigan, we are all welcomed warmly by the receptionist or our stylist.  Our coat is taken and we are offered a drink.  As it is probably the first opportunity that we have had to have a drink, we gladly accept.  We are shown to a chair and given some magazines.  Man of the House goes to a barbers where if you are five minutes late they not only disapprove and make their disapproval known to you, they refuse to do your hair, make you re-book and send you away with a flea in your ear.  Probably an actual flea if the cleanliness of their salon is anything to go by.  Meanwhile, I am being sat in front of an exceedingly unflattering mirror.  Then my hairdresser wafts into the room, places both hands on the back of the chair and asks me “what are we doing with your hair today, Natalie?”

Every single time I say “Whatever you like as long as it’s not awful.”  I then gesture to the mangled creature that resides on my head.  It has an entire life of its own.  Over the years I have tried to curl it, straighten it, get it to go a particular way, stay up in a style, stay in a clip even, and it won’t.  So I no longer bother. I would say that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but my hairdresser can.  My hairdresser rifles through my hair and then talks a lot of numbers at a trainee standing next to her which I am given to understand relates to the colour.  I am put in a gown and a towel, then some plastic around my neck and the poor trainee takes a deep breath and sets to work.  It would be difficult to describe how stunning I look with a colour on my hair and crocodile clips helping it stick up in every direction, but I am sure that you can all picture it.

Across town, if Man of the House has managed to beg an appointment, probably on his hands and knees, his hair cut is almost done.  Which is just as well because if he needed the loo he is probably risking dysentery given that they never ever clean the toilet there. His barber starts huffing on a mirror and rubbing it with his sleeve to try and create a space so he can show him the back.  Man of the House steadfastly refuses – he doesn’t need a reminder of what once was.

As he’s paying with one note, and possibly having the door slammed behind him as he leaves, I am just settling into reading ‘Cosmopolitan’ for the first time since the last time I was there. As usual it’s full of adverts of impossibly thin women holding handbags that look as if they might snap their twig-like arms and wearing sunglasses that really could do with a nose to sit on.  Oh, and lots of articles about impossible sex lives.  Nothing like filling our young girls’ heads with ridiculous notions of what they can expect from being a grown woman in 2018.  As I flick through on the one hand thinking “This is an outrage, these women haven’t eaten properly for years” and on the other “oooooohhhh, nice shoes…..” the trainee is still painting colour on.  And then s/he puts me under a heater that looks like it ought to be on the Starship Enterprise.  I imagine Hollywood stars whom the tabloids would describe as “age-defying” being sat under these with a head full of foils.  I am then taken over to the basins and the colour is washed out and I am given a lovely head massage.  On one occasion, the lady at the basin next to me was so relaxed that she fell asleep and started snoring.  When she snorted herself awake, someone appeared at her side with a cup of tea.

My hair cut takes another hour.  Yes, an hour.  But in that time my hairdresser updates me on her love life and tells me how lovely the colour looks on my hair.  She makes my hair look beautiful.  And as she gets a mirror to show me the back of my head without the need to clean it first, I confirm that the colour does indeed look lovely, I have lots of hair, and there is no way I will be able to make it look that nice myself.  I then look in the unflattering mirror and ask if there is anything that she can do with my face.  She always laughs as if I am joking.

I hand over many more notes than Man of the House did.  My coat is held for me as I put it on, the door is held open for me with wishes for a lovely rest of the day, and I leave.  Straight back into the real world.  And as usual I’m on a tight schedule. I have three children to pick up from school and three swimming kits to get ready before that as well as a load of washing to get out of the machine and on the airer and another one in.  Did I mention that everyone will also be starving hungry the minute they emerge from school?  The Childerbeasts hand me their coats, their school bags and then run off.  Laden, I follow them.

And that’s why women like the hairdressers.



Photograph courtesy of hansbenn on Pixabay

Because You’re Worth It


Last week a man who has avoided being drafted into the military five times claimed that he would have run, unarmed, into a classroom where people were being murdered by a person armed with an assault rifle.  Of course no one believes him.  But he doesn’t care.  Like he doesn’t care that the entire world pokes fun at his hairstyle.  He doesn’t care that The Establishment are permanently frothing at the mouth that he is doing exactly what he said he would.  He doesn’t care that a recording of him talking about grabbing women’s genitals was heard all over the entire world.  He simply does not give a monkies.  He thinks he’s brilliant and gorgeous and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to change his mind.  He’s right and anyone with a different opinion is just plain wrong.  There seems to be a lot of people like this in the world – people loaded with self-confidence, the skin of a rhino, and not a lot of anything else.  And then there’s the rest of us.

I must admit that I have a grudging respect for The Deluded Narcissists because it doesn’t seem to hold them back any – they think that they are both very good at their job and incredibly attractive.  What a brilliant way to go through life.  A friend was sat in a team meeting at work the other week. I say, sat because that was all they and their colleagues, bar one, did.  The meeting was meant to be collaborative, hence the word ‘team’.  As we all know, there is not meant to be any ‘i’ in team.  However, the person who assumed the mantle of leading the meeting presumably got a different memo advising that they were the ‘I’ in team.  They treated everyone else to an inspiring monologue about how attractive and talented the speaker was and how everyone should be more like them.  I am given to understand that a bewildered audience sat and listened to this speech, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with each other in order to not give the game away, not that the speaker would have noticed.  Being British they didn’t want to call the person out and say “oh do shut up, you’re an insecure arse, none of us are interested and we’d like to do something useful” but I bet that’s what they were all thinking.  So they sat politely until this person decided to stop speaking.  I gather that it was some time.  Maybe they just ran out of superlatives.

Another friend has a colleague who is hopeless.  Lovely person.  But genuinely hopeless at their role. It would seem that everyone except them knows it.  Believing themselves to be the best thing since sliced bread, the colleague has been muttering loudly about wanting to “talk money” to the boss.  Everyone else has been trying to think of ways to stop this excruciating conversation taking place to save their much-liked colleague from themselves.  The colleague is adamant that the conversation must, indeed, needs to take place and cannot be dissuaded.  Some people just can’t be helped.

All of us have been treated to the social media post.  I don’t mean other people telling each other about their lives: children growing up, holidays, landmarks of life – none of those things.  I mean two things specifically.  First, the selfie and secondly, the nauseating boasting posting.  As far as selfies are concerned, I am referring to the duck face selfie or the selfie of someone if not in a state of undress, then some article of clothing clinging on for grim death, the only purpose of which can be to show off how attractive they think they are to invite affirming comments.   I read something yesterday about someone taking 200 selfies a day and the point, just in case we had missed it, was hammered home by an accompanying picture of the self-confessed narcissist pulling the duck face. Write the article by all means, but don’t post the photo – you’re feeding the beast. We look at those Victorian photos when everyone had a very serious expression and we know it was because photography was in its infancy and there was only one shot to take.  But the duck face selfie?  What are our grandchildren going to think of that?  That everyone was poised to snog someone else at a moment’s notice? There was an unexplained penchant for sucking lemons?  Or maybe everyone will be too busy admiring themselves to actually meet anyone to make babies with and there will be no grandchildren.

Moving on to the passive-aggressive boasting post.  Usually, but not always, on a professional website, so to be viewed by people that the writer doesn’t know all that well and along the lines of: “Forgive the self-congratulatory post, but I am so thrilled to have been nominated as one of the people most likely to go to the opening of a crisp packet.”  I am afraid that we won’t forgive you.  Not unless you have come through the other side of a rough personal struggle, won an Olympic Medal, broken a world record, or done something significant to contribute to the peace, safety and security of our planet.  Sir David Attenborough, Knight of the Realm and a man who has probably contributed more to our understanding of the natural world than anyone else in history of the world ever would never do such a thing.   And if David’s not doing it, you definitely shouldn’t be.  If you have to tell people that you are something, you aren’t.  Tell us something useful or informative, or tell us nothing at all.

As for the being attractive thing, I truly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Why do people insist on foisting their supposed attractiveness on everyone?  These are usually the same people as those who like to tell you how wonderful they are at their job.  A friend of mine goes weak at the knees if you mention a certain racing driver to her.  I wouldn’t know who he was if I tripped over him. And he’s quite short, so I could easily trip over him.   Similarly, mention the words ‘Kylie Minogue’ to the Man of the House and he will get a glazed and faraway look come over his face – he’s gone to a place that is very warm and friendly.  I know someone who genuinely thinks that if a man smiles at them, they want to sleep with them.  They also think that if someone asks them the time that it is actually a secret code they are asking them if they have time for sex, not any desire to know what the actual time is.  I’d love to live in that world for a day, I really would.  That must be a day when you get out of the shower and after blow-drying your orange bouffant into a comb-over-cum-quiff, you look in the mirror and instead of thinking “oh my, what the hell is that?” you nod approvingly and say to yourself, or even out loud “not bad, not bad.  Still got it” and sashay out of the bathroom.  Naked.  Because why wouldn’t anyone want to look at you in the buff?

And then there’s the rest of us.  Do you think that any of these people wake up in the night in a cold sweat?  It is very much a thing in the legal profession to sit bolt upright in bed at four in the morning and think “oh Christ, did I remember to do that?” and either have to logon to double-check or stay awake worrying about it until you can get up to go into the office early to make sure.    I still remember how it feels to have that rush of horror when you think you might have missed something on a file.  I bet we’re not the only ones.  Are these people racked with worry?  After I went on a safeguarding course when I was a trustee of the Pre-School and was told the statistics of at-risk children I rushed back to the manager in a blind panic (because statistically speaking we had at-risk children) and said “what have we missed?  Who have we missed?”I worried about it for all of the six years I was a trustee. Do those people do that? Something tells me they don’t.

If a man smiles at me, I assume that he’s either lost, has wind, or maybe he’s just trying to be pleasant and non-threatening.  If I am asked what time it is I believe that the person asking just wants to know what time it is so they can continue to plan their day.  Irresistible as I may be, don’t assume that they are trying to squeeze a shag with me into their hectic schedule.

So The Rest of Us, I have a proposal.  There is not a cat in hell’s chance that we can beat people who are as mad as a box of frogs – the sky in their world must be either pink or mirrored.  Even if they’re reading this they’re just thinking “Well I am brilliant and gorgeous, what’s your point?”  So as we can’t beat them, we are going to join them.  Every morning for a week, when you peer at yourself in the mirror, even if you don’t believe it and even though you’ll feel a complete fool doing it you are going to repeat, three times, after me: “Goodness me I’m brilliant and gorgeous.” No one has to hear you.  You can say it under your breath, or in your head.  But do it and see if it makes a difference in how you tackle the day ahead.  If someone congratulates you, even if it is just for getting out of bed, invite people to forgive the self-congratulatory nature of your post, and then tell people how amazing you are for getting your pants on the right way round/turning your computer on/making a colleague a cup of tea.  And finally, if someone says “good morning” do not assume that they are merely wishing you a good start to your day, they’re not.  You’re hot.  And everyone, simply everyone, is just desperately trying to find a way of letting you know it.  But you already know it because for the next seven days you’re brilliant and gorgeous.  Good luck.

Remember, Remember the Ninth of November



Lots of headlines this week about it being one hundred years since women got the vote.

The first thing that has got me riled is that it is not correct.  Only a very specific group of women got the vote on 6 February 1918; you had to be over thirty and own property of a value of over five pounds, or had a husband who did.   It was another decade before women got the vote on an equal footing to men.  In 1918 any woman under the age of thirty who didn’t own property worth five pounds was persona non grata as far voting was concerned.  Heck, we don’t want someone who might not agree with us voting.  That would be disaster.  So we shall allow the rich women who should be old enough or rich enough to know better to vote, or if they don’t know better then their rich husbands can tell them, because women should always do what men tell them.

I cannot help but wonder if British men were feeling a little threatened in 1918.  700,000 of their number had been killed in the First World War.  That was just over 11.5% of the six million British men mobilised.  I have seen comments along the lines of “that’s not very many”.  Perhaps not in comparison to the bloodbath that came just over twenty years later, but 700,000 is a large number however which way you cut it.  Everyone must have known someone who died in the war.  Perhaps people were feeling pretty vulnerable, and maybe men in particular when they came back to a country that had been run whilst they were away.  Hands up who knows who was holding the fort back home during the First World War?  Anyone?  Anyone at all?  Yes, you at the back.

It wasn’t until 2 July 1928 that Royal Assent was given to the Act that gave all women over the age of twenty one the right to vote.  My grandmother had not long celebrated her first birthday when that Act was passed.  I’m not really that old – my children told me only yesterday evening that it is only the wrinkles and that patch of grey hair at the front that make me look old – I just can’t hear that enough. So someone whose hand I held for the first twelve years of my life was born into a world that did not recognise her, her mother, or her sister as having any formal contribution to make at all.  It was not considered that she had a contribution worth making.  My grandmother was ten when it was decided that she might be able to be let loose in the ballot box with a pencil when she reached her majority.

It has also been one hundred years since women were allowed to practice law.  The first female solicitor admitted to the Roll was Carrie Morrison in 1922.  Miss Morrison had earned a first class degree from Cambridge University, but the university refused to award it to her because she did not have a penis.  Or testicles.  I don’t think that was specifically referred to in the official refusal but as the refusal was because Miss Morrison was a woman, that was what it amounted to however euphemistically it was phrased.

In 1913 the Law Society refused to allow Miss Morrison and three other women to sit the Law Society examinations.  Had the Law Society been asked and had they had been minded to be so bloody unreasonable eighty six years later then I could have avoided a lot of stress and expense myself.  Times had moved on and I, and all of my female peers were allowed to sit Law Society Finals with, and be judged on the same basis as, the males, which was all Miss Morrison et al wanted. The Court of Appeal upheld the Law Society’s 1913 decision with the judge ruling that (you’ll love this) women were not “persons” within the meaning of the Solicitors Act 1843.  Not persons.  I bet they were persons for lots of other things, such as, oh I don’t know, bearing the next generation when the population had been literally decimated by war.

In 1919 the Sex Disqualification Act came into force and women were allowed to practice law.  Presumably that is because women became persons within the Solicitors Act 1843 at that point.  I wonder if becoming a “person” was like when The Doctor regenerates.  Obviously being admitted as a solicitor was, and is not instantaneous, so when the law changed it took a very small number of women time to train and then be admitted hence Miss Morrison being admitted in 1922. If in 1922 a  solicitor found themselves to be female, under thirty and not owning of property of five pounds or more then no voting for them, young lady.   Practice law, yes.  Voting, no.

There has also been much discussion about whether the suffragettes should be pardoned.  The government has said that it is “complicated”.  I’m not sure why it is complicated, but far be it from our elected public servants from explaining anything to us.  Bless us, we probably wouldn’t understand anyway.

As we have already established, apart from one or two barely-noticeable wrinkles and a light peppering of grey hair that makes me look distinguished, I am not that old.  As it happens I was poised to make my entry into the world a few months after the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 came into force.  That was when it became illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their gender.  Well it may have been on the statute book, but minds take a little longer to change than legislation.

About fifteen years ago I was introduced to someone at a dinner as an assistant solicitor and whilst sloshing a glass of red wine to and fro he uttered the immortal words “but you’re a girl.”  I was one of very few women at said dinner, so I can only assume that he had thought I had been bussed in for his entertainment.  He must have been bitterly disappointed when he realised that was not why I or any of the other women were there.

More recently I was told that my career was on hold whilst working part time.  A seemingly outrageous and undisputedly, a discriminatory and illegal statement.  However, as much as it pains me to say it, it was factually correct.  Regardless of how good I was at my job or how much money I brought in there was no prospect of advancement when I was working part-time.  Ever.  I wonder for how many women this is a day to day reality.

The decision for me to work part-time was one of pure economics for us and I suspect is for many working families.  Man of the House out-earned and had an ability to out-earn me by some considerable margin.  And we did the same job.  Almost precisely the same job.  So are we to blame for perpetuating the cycle?  Probably.  Maybe I should have stood up for my gender by working full time and jumping up and down for more money.  But should I have had to?  We all need to feed and clothe our children and not at all oddly, we chose the kids.

I have no idea whether the suffragettes would want a posthumous pardon. I am particularly mindful of not falling into the trap of telling women what they should or shouldn’t want, posthumously or otherwise.  The world they lived in thought it was an outrage for women to vote, be educated, think.  That was and is something to be angry about.  I am not sure how a pardon now makes that ludicrous line of thinking all right.  Would it stop men in positions of power today from cornering women in hotel rooms because they think it’s their right to assault them?  Would it stop men-only dinners where women are brought in with instructions not to wear too many clothes and cosmetic surgery is auctioned to “spice up your wife”?  Women being paid less because……er…why are we paid less than men for doing the same job?  Is it because we haven’t got a penis? Or testicles?  That can’t be right.  This is 2018.  It’s ninety years since women got the vote, surely it cannot be that men are consistently paid more than women for having a Y chromosome?

Gather round people, we still have much to do.

Bye January


Hands up who is currently living with a snot goblin?   Child Number Three is making barking noises at the moment.  There were five children off in Child Number One’s class a couple of weeks ago.  Kids barfing.  Parents barfing.  Everyone barfing.  Child Number One has escaped so far, but as I have two other children, and it is currently sweeping through the school, I have two more tempting opportunities to hold a child’s head over a sink awaiting me in the next few weeks.

Child Number Two had very painful legs last week.  I am of the view that unless you have lost a limb and the bleeding cannot be stemmed then you get up and go to work or to school.  I was also not sure if it was a case of Skivitilis. I therefore administered paracetamol and sent her on her way.  When I collected her from school, she was not feeling very well at all, and we decided that unless there was an impressive overnight recovery, she would stay home and rest the following day.  The next morning I needed to get some petrol so I could collect the other two children.  Immediately after I ended an unexpected call from The Mother of the Year Award Committee,  I wrapped Child Number Two up and popped her in the car with the plan that she would be back on the sofa within the hour.

Whilst I was filling up the petrol, I realised that I should not be filling up with petrol, but diesel.  Never done it before, believe me, won’t be doing it again.  No, I didn’t start the engine.  I decided to do what any sane person would do in these circumstances; panic.  I ran into the petrol station in a flap and the lady serving very calmly told me to telephone my breakdown people and they would advise me what to do.  She would shut down the pump and take my mobile number so I could take poorly child into the coffee bar for warmth.

I ran back outside and made the call.  A recovery was necessary and it would be ninety minutes.  Ninety minutes in a freezing car with a poorly child.  Man of the House was in a meeting all morning so I telephoned the next best thing – his secretary and decided to tell her all about it.   She said that she would tell him as soon as she spoke to him.  I telephoned a retired relative for assistance – they were going out for a cup of tea in the afternoon, so for reasons unknown to the rest of the English-speaking world, no one in their house was able to assist. So I did what I should have done in the first place; I telephoned the Oddfather.  The Oddfather and his wife, The Godmother, are family friends, without whom I would, on many occasions, have been buggered.  He was there within twenty minutes.  He took crying Child Number Two, from a tearful me, collected The Hound and they were all ensconced on his sofa before I could say ‘Transylvania Two.’

So began my wait. During this time a male member of staff helpfully pointed out to me that my cap does say ‘diesel’ on it – what a pity I am not able to take him with me everywhere to point out everything that I do wrong.  His female counterpart decided to be more constructive and gave me a hot chocolate. Ninety minutes turned into two hours, two hours turned into three, and three turned into four.  I felt increasingly envious of people filling up their cars with the correct fuel and then going about their day.  One of my friends felt increasingly envious of me sitting on my own with a hot chocolate and a magazine for hours on end.  If I could have felt my feet by that point, I would have agreed with her.

The recovery truck arrived.  Four hundred pounds, yes four hundred pounds, worse off for my own stupidity and a lot of inconvenience to several people, I got the car back the next day.

By the end of this already trying week it had also become apparent that my deaf and aged cat was giving up her very long and hitherto healthy life. I asked the vet to try and get her to eat.  I thought that after seventeen years I owed her that.  The vet tried, but after twenty four hours, we decided that enough was enough and rather than let her starve to death, it was time to let her go.  So I stroked her head, kissed her and said goodbye.  The only thing that made it feel better was walking out into the waiting room to humans who smiled at me knowing exactly what had happened in the room, and the owners of wagging tails who had absolutely no idea but appreciated a fuss from a red-faced and tearful woman who needed it more than they did.

Never have I spent so much money in a week and felt so unutterably crap. I was cross with myself for doing something so idiotic with the car.  I felt angry that a cup of tea was more important to someone who ought to feel better, than my poorly child.  And the soul of my furry companion of the last seventeen years has flown and it is going to take me a long time to get used that.  But as always, try to take the positives.  The lady who insisted I have a hot chocolate on the house.  The recovery driver who told me about the person who drove out of a car park, through a fence and straight into someone’s back garden taking out a trampoline (blessedly with no one bouncing at the time).  The Oddfather coming to my rescue once again.  Friends offering to help with my children.  The vet so kind in making a difficult day bearable.  Man of the House bringing fish and chips home because he knows I love it.  The kindness of strangers, the kindness of friends.

Knowing Me, Not Knowing You


I thought that I would have got it all sorted by now.  I thought that I would have seen everything.  Of course, I only thought this when I was about eighteen, and that was a time when my mentality was rather like my friend’s five year old who declared yesterday that he would stop counting after thirty nine “because there aren’t any numbers after that”.  Now that I have discovered that there are numbers after thirty nine, I wonder if I will ever stop being surprised by the world around me.  Not that I spend everyday leaping about because everything is just too much, but often I discover something and am left thinking “good grief, I didn’t expect that.”  You know what I mean?  Like it being the current fashion for women to remove their eyebrows and then paint them back in.  Didn’t very little and very old ladies do that when we were small along with a purple rinse to complete the look?  In fact, dying your hair grey and then purple is a thing now isn’t it?  What is that?  Geriatric-chic?  The Elephant (see Dumbo blog).  President Fart and his tiny button.  Rolf Harris.  I was surprised by all of it.

I have just put down a book to write this piece.  It is a serious book covering about 3,000 years of history.  I have just read a section which if I have read it correctly, claims that there was once a couple of Vandals, one called Suebi and another called Alan.  Now I have no wish to question the author as she has a brain the size of Jupiter and I do not.  However, I have known a few Alans in my time, and I also once met a canary of the same name. Alan the Canary seemed like he may have benefitted from meeting Colin the Cat, but Alan the Humans were pleasant company and all perfectly well behaved.  So I read this thinking to myself, “Alan?  A Vandal?  Are you quite sure, Bettany?”  This is small fry in comparison to something else that I found out about the other day, which shouldn’t have caused me to raise an eyebrow and yet it did.

As many of you know I live on the border of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.  It is a beautiful part of our lovely country, and I am very fortunate to live here.  A number of people visit  the area enjoying the walks, scenery and the pubs.  Every Sunday me, The Three Childerbeasts and Man of the House are treated to a selection of people enjoying a bracing walk which also involves them staring in at us eating our Sunday lunch.  When we start waving at them and the children shout “hello Starers” these people tend to realise that we are not an exhibit and quickly move their gaze and their pointing (yes, they point) and pretend that they were actually admiring the shed.

Now there are a number of lovely establishments in the area to suit all tastes and all budgets in which you may wish to rest your aching fingers and your weary feet.  Apparently there is also one venue where you would perhaps only go if you have a very specific taste.   If I were to tell you that I was told that it was carpeted for comfort and not with linoleum for ease of cleaning (as I had assumed), you might begin to catch my drift.   I found the website (yes, there is a website with photographs) where there is, for me, a complete head-fuck of chintz in the bed and breakfast area and leather and wipe-clean surfaces elsewhere.  I showed this to Man of the House to read and he declared that he stopped reading when he got to the word ‘enema’.  Another friend, until that moment a woman whom I (and she) had considered to be an experienced and broad-minded person. She asked me what an “inspection chair” was.  I replied that I was unsure but I did not think it available in the DFS sale which was a shame because it ends this Friday.  Reviews also report that the breakfast is excellent.

I was shocked.  I shouldn’t be.  I’m not a nun.  And I don’t think a nun would be shocked either. I firmly believe that if there are two consenting adults in private then what they get up to is entirely their business and their business alone.  This venue is not near to my house. The website would suggest that the business is run in an entirely discreet and professional manner.  Statistics would dictate that there a number of entirely unpublicised places inbetween.  My eyes tell me that there are many, many private homes with couples living in them also in which I assume there may be also some sexual activity at some point.    So why was I surprised? And why am I surprised that I am surprised? I have absolutely no idea.  But if I bump into anyone called Alan asking for directions when I’m walking the Hound, I’m running for the hills.