IVF and that

So, it’s in the news in the UK that NICE (a rather jolly little acronym for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) have recommended that IVF should be offered to couples after 2 years of trying to conceive, and that the upper age limit for a woman should be moved from 39 to 42.

Which seems very progressive and less arbitrary than the previous cut-off age.
But the reality is that we can debate it until we are blue in the ovaries, it’s not going to make very much difference at all.

The trouble is that these are only recommendations so the NHS trusts are not bound by these guidelines, which only means that they CAN continue to treat for fertility problems past 40 if they choose, not that they will.
Additionally, after 2 years of trying to conceive naturally, a couple can be referred for fertility treatment, instead of 3, so the ball should roll earlier on in the process.
But what does that mean in real terms?

My dear husband and I started trying to conceive, in a general “let’s see what happens” kind of a way when we were in our mid 20s. Nothing happened, but we didn’t get checked out until we had been not “not trying” for around 5 years.

We were tested and found to have “unexplained subfertility” and, because it had been longer than 3 years, we were referred immediately for tests within the NHS. Our GP “fast-tracked” us, told us that we were lucky that we lived in the right Post Code, and that our IVF journey could start from the moment I was first stabbed in the arm with a vicious needle by an angry phlebotomist.These preliminary tests (both male and female) took around 9 appointments and 11 months to complete. By which time, the first set of tests were out of date, and so had to be done again.

Around a year or so after we were referred, and after several days off work and trips to the hospital, a consultant (not our consultant – the one we were officially under; we never actually met him) advised us that we were eligible for one NHS funded round of IVF and that we could start as soon as something or other was sorted.

This was most confusing, as we thought we’d already started a year previously.

Anyway, from that point we had to do lots of visits to private clinics, because that’s where fertility treatment is actually done, and we had to have a bit of counselling, and then we had to have some more tests, because the results of my day-21 blood tests had been mislaid, and by the time we actually were booked into the clinic for our first appointment with the clinician, it was just over 2 years from the date we had been initially referred.
After trying to conceive for 5. And that was before the treatment had even begun.

What I am trying to say is that the guidelines can be whatever they want to be, the facts are that the reality is often completely different.
The NHS is underfunded for fertility treatment as it is – so increasing ages and decreasing timescales isn’t worth a bean, if they ain’t got the cash. And if, as in our case, the guidelines are nothing more than a dusty book on a shelf, then there’s nothing to even debate about, because until the real problems of consistent treatment and care are addressed, this is just another non-starter. Add to that the fact that IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) has now been found to be no more effective than sex, then it seems that there are even medical issues to balance out before we mess around with eligibility.

There are arguments out there (generally from people who have never struggled to conceive) that IVF is a waste of NHS funding anyway, and the money should be better spent on cancer research, the elderly and other more worthy conditions, but the trouble with that line of thought is that you head down a murky road of those who “deserve” medical assistance. And the NHS is about care for everyone, not just those with life-threatening conditions.
Because the truth is, that even though having children is not a right, and that infertility is not life-threatening, it is a condition which is all-consuming, heart-breaking, devastating debilitating and painful. And, no, that isn’t an exaggeration.
Depression and infertility go hand-in-hand, and the truth; the ugly, ugly truth, of infertility is that it can adversely impact every facet of your life. So even though it isn’t life-threatening, it is still hugely important, and fertility treatment exists. Therefore it should be offered.

Let’s face it, it’s not like for every couple who are refused NHS funded treatment, the Trust bung a few thousand quid into the cancer pot. Budgets don’t work that way.

The NHS is free at point of use, and fertility treatment is a service that they offer.
It is already a lottery, and the funding is based on throwing up a dice and seeing if it lands on a 6. Or something equally capricious. So, really, all of this consultation and recommending that something or other ought to be something else, is nothing other than smoke and mirrors.
There are already problems within the system, and these changes may improve some people’s chance of parenting, which is all to the good, but it’s not really a new issue, and it’s not tackling the real ones.

And if you were wondering, we actually refused fertility treatment in the end. Felt it was invasive, with little chance of success, too expensive and not for us.

And have never regretted that decision.


No More Page Three

One weekday morning, a little lad,
Who wanted to be just like his Dad,
Sat down for breakfast, toast on plate
His Dad he tried to emulate.
So he reached out and picked up The Sun,
Transition to adulthood begun.
He turned the paper, page one…page two..
And then page three. Well, wow! Who knew?
“No need for sneaking on the internet,
No scouring mags for a hot brunette,
No need to hide stuff under the bed
Because this is right out there instead
And as it’s printed in daily news
That MUST mean it’s safe for views.
It’s right there, getting daily hits
So that means it’s FINE to ogle tits,
And if Mum should wander near
I’ll pretend I’m looking at the news stories here,
Because as a handy little motif
They’ve also printed “news in briefs”
So if I should be caught ogling these birds
I can pretend I’m reading their insightful words.
Of course, I doubt the words are theirs
What do lasses know of world affairs?
If all the paper cares about
Is what they look like with titties out,
Then why should I believe that they
Ever have anything of interest to say?
No, because this is in daily print
It’s fine to leer at this bint,
Other men can’t think too much
Of these chicks – they’re there to touch.
If porn was dirty or a private affair,
Then it wouldn’t be printed so boldly there.
No, this must mean that it’s alright
I’m so lucky. Tits in daily sight.”
And so the little lad grew older
And with the ladies grew ever bolder.
Page 3 featured in his daily life,
Even when he “took a wife”
She didn’t much like the tits on show
But it was in a newspaper, so
She didn’t feel she could complain
He’d moan about her nagging again.
So each and every weekday morn
She accepted with her breakfast, porn.
And so did her kids, who didn’t think
That tits and news have no link.
Until one day, after years of thinking
Support for Page 3 seemed to be shrinking.
A group of people who’d had enough
Of being labelled as tits and chuff,
Worked on a campaign to stop the boobs
From appearing in the daily news.
They still championed femininity
But advocated it in privacy,
Nothing to do with porn being banned
Just about Page 3, they made their stand.
It’s all about objectification
Which is embedded within our progressive nation,
It’s all about how women are viewed
And how leering and perving is downright rude,
It’s baby steps towards a state of equality
And not seeing sexism as merely frivolity,
It won’t change the world overnight
But a step in a direction overdue, and right.
So boobs aren’t news – find your pictures elsewhere
And women aren’t commodities at which you should stare.
We are all equal unless it’s otherwise proved,
No More Page Three – take the boobs out of news!

Threading. It’s the future.


Well, everybody – big news on the Bectora front – I had my eyebrows threaded this week for the first time in a while.

If you don’t know what eyebrow threading is, let me bring you up to speed…

Threading is an alternative to plucking, where a length of cotton is doubled over and sort-of twisted, and then you pay another person to use this cotton to grab a whole bunch of hairs from your eyelid, and yank them out at break-neck speed.

Truth is that it’s quick and effective. It hurts less than waxing, and takes much less time than tweezing, but good lord, we do some things to ourselves in the name of vanity.

I’ve had mine threaded about half a dozen times, and each time, my eyelid and the surrounding areas are a little sore and a little tender for about 12 hours afterwards, and my eyes water like I’ve been peeling onions while watching Blood Brothers – but here’s the thing:

I kinda like the pain.

It gets addictive. It’s over in moments, and when it’s finished, your whole face changes. The little specks of blood that persist are merely testament to your commitment to the art, and because you have been sitting in a salon chair under some treatment lights, you almost feel that you’ve been pampered and earned it.

So, I wholeheartedly recommend threading. I almost look forward to the hairs growing back, so I can have another go, and I have a rather sadistic desire to watch someone with really bushy brows go through it.

But I draw the line at upper lip and chinny-chin-chin.


I’m not an idiot!

The Reality Is Really Very Poor

Reality TV. The most inappropriately named genre in broadcasting. What kind of reality spawns such demons?

Look, I have watched reality TV; I watched the first series of Big Brother, I watched X Factor and Dancing on Ice for a couple of years, and I have a guilty pleasure in I’m A Celebrity.

But I am seriously at a loss to understand how this visual weirdness is still so popular.

Reality TV recently hit an all-time low, for me, with that bizarre diving show “Splash”. It was not something I ever intended to watch, but was reluctantly subjected to it for about half an hour on one of its airings. My initial reaction was one of open-mouthed fascination. For those who haven’t watched it, the premise seemed to consist of the following: each week a handful of minor celebrities (some of whom are only famous for being on OTHER shows of this ilk, but that’s a conversation for another day) who can’t swim/dive well/at all are,over a period of weeks, trained to do some Olympic-style high-diving. Tom Daley is involved (although, I suspect not as regularly as it is implied) and so is Vernon Kaye, which is a reason in itself not to watch the show.

Anyway, on the night, we are subject to a plethora of these celebrities dressed in sparkly/garish bathers, skimpy to differing degrees based on hotness of body or humour of spectacle, who take it in turns to have a dive. But it’s not that simple. We have to have some montages of Tom Daley explaining something or other, repeated throughout the show. We have to have an introduction to a panel of “experts”, only one of whom is really an expert, and we have to have several minutes detailing each celebrity’s individual story. Then, we get a dive. Not always a good one. Then we get the panel rabbiting on about nothing, and then they show some numbers. The numbers are, by and large, irrelevant because although they are classed as scores, the real scores are determined by nothing more than a phone vote of popularity. Then we get an ad break. Then it all rolls out again, and lasts from anywhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours.

What. The. Heck?

This is prime time Saturday night TV. The concept is probably sound, and hot on the heels of the 2012 Olympics, could have been executed with a real nod to sport, and some dignity, but clearly that’s not what people want (judging by the odd popularity of the show.) And my question is, why? Why do people need the glitz and the glossiness and the banality of hearing some random not-quite-famous-person’s opinion on a sport they know nothing about, referring to another not-quite-famous-person’s attempt at said sport? Why do we need the endless repeated shots of what we’ve JUST SEEN? Why do we need 10 minutes of build up to a 20 second shot of action, followed by 10 minutes breakdown of it? Why can’t we just have shows with content, and not fluff and filler?

Obviously advertising and revenue is the ultimate reason. But the popularity of this style must have been brought about by years of the networks trying to improve the brand, to such a level now where the hour-long fillers surrounding the content of these shows, is generic and absolute.

And because they started it, they have to keep adding to it. If you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards.

Take Dancing on Ice. In the first year, I thoroughly enjoyed it; the incredible Torvill and Dean fronting and performing in the show, Robin Cousins, Karen Barber and Nicky Slater all offering their opinions on celebrities I had (mainly) heard of, and veteran professional Philip Schofield presenting. The celebrities took weeks of training to learn how to ice skate and then dance. It was marked out of 6, like the Winter Olympic scores, and the errors and flaws and technical hardships were evident for all to see. They worked their butts off, basically, and ended up with a real skill. And it’s nice to watch a bit of ice skating anyway.

It was really successful and really well watched. And then they gradually, over the years, started messing about with the format. And what we now get is this:

Too many celebrities to fit into one week,
People on the judging panel who are “experts” on performance skills (because they were on a west end stage in the chorus a couple of times, or sang backing in a girl band),
Limited conversation with Torvill and Dean,
Endless repeat showings of the routines that we have already seen,
Montages before each routine showing some dire accident during the week leading up to the show, with some “will-they/won’t-they” music playing while it is debated whether or not they will be physically able to even compete (they always are) or a move which has caused them to vomit/cry/be unable to sleep/all of the above (which they always execute perfectly),
Unimaginative and generally unfounded criticism from the panel to create controversy, usually with a disagreement thrown in,
Individual judge’s scores which are so at odds with one another it is impossible to tell if a) they are marking the same thing or b) if it was good or poor,
Irrelevant judge’s scores, because the phone vote is merely a popularity vote and alters the leaderboard on a weekly basis,
Celebrities telling you they are enjoying themselves and did their best while Christine Bleakley either smiles in empathy or frowns in sympathy,
and then several repeats of the whole thing until the end of the show.

Which we then have to suffer all over again half an hour later when the phone votes are counted.

But it’s not just the result we get in the result show. Oh no.

We get some MORE repeats of the routines.
A vox-pop with each skating couple telling us exactly what they told us in the first show, but backstage.
We get a performance from some completely unrelated pop band, occasionally with a skate routine.
We get Christine Bleakley asking the judges the same questions that she asked them in the first show. Then we get the adverts.
Then we get a long drawn-out “Schofield-Pause” list of who has got through and is “safe” for another week, and who is in the dreaded bottom two.

Then the bottom two – the ones no one voted for – sodding well skate again.

Then the judges decide who they are saving.

Blow me, I’m bored just thinking about it. And for what? The honour of winning a show that everyone forgets about when The Voice is back in town.

I’ve found a solution, though. Thanks to the technology of my sky+ box, I record the spectacle (despite my negativity, I really do like the shiny suits and the dancing) and then I fast forward all of the crap. I fast forward Schofe and Bleakers, anything to do with the judges, anything that is clearly pre-recorded or repeated, and all the adverts. And then I watch the skating. As I’m fast-forwarding, I note the scores and the leaderboard, so I have an idea of how they are doing, and then I skip to the end of the result show. Sometimes I watch the “skate-off”, sometimes I don’t. Either way, I can watch 2 and a half hours of Dancing on Ice in less than 24 minutes.

And I can spend the saved time writing about it. Everybody wins.

So, until Big Brother actually starts referring to Orwell’s dystopia, and incorporates totalitarian ideology associated within modern society and politics, and until the X Factor really does project a je ne sais quoi that sets it apart from everything else with an indefinable quality that defies description, and until Strictly Come Dancing drops the ridiculous word “Strictly” from its title and acknowledges that it doesn’t friggin’ mean anything I will continue to enjoy my DVD collection on a weekend night.

And I will still watch I’m a Celebrity, because I really like Ant and Dec.

Estate Agents? Pah!

I have, this week, had the misfortune to be on the wrong side of some incredibly poor customer service from one of our biggest Estate Agencies. Let’s call them Thy Motion.

The facts are pretty straightfoward. My good-sized three bedroomed semi in a nice quiet street in a decent-ish sized town with great transport links and a good back garden, was placed up for sale in September 2010. By December 2012 it had been the subject of three viewings. Three. In 27 months. That’s pretty poor, but the Estate Agency cannot necessarily be held accountable for the stagnancy of the market.

What they can be held accountable for, however, are the following issues:
1) Losing our mobile phone numbers and pretending that we never gave them to them – even though they managed to call us on them a few times in the early months. Then getting angry with us for not being contactable.
2) Claiming that we had not paid an energy certificate fee, accusing me of lying about it and actually removing our house from the market until they received payment – and then miraculously finding our (dated) cheque sitting in a drawer in the branch that I had personally handed it in to some weeks earlier
3) Contacting us from their own call centre, to advise us that our estate agency were under performing, providing very poor service and that we should ditch our agent and go with them – and then, rather rudely and swiftly putting the phone down on me when realising that THEY were, in fact, our estate agent
4) Failing to respond to FOUR requests to retake the photographs of our house, because they were initially done at night and looked rubbish – and then claiming that they had no record of our requests. In fact – taking rubbish photographs of our house in the first sodding place, and advising that it was “usual policy” to take them in the dark with poor artificial lighting.
5) Not listing our property in their branch window or in the local newspaper – and then disclaiming that by telling us that it was an ineffective marketing tool anyway. Which is not, let me assure you, the marketing that they used in the initial hard sell!
6) Telling us that they tried desperately to contact us on 13 occasions to discuss some of the above, but were unable to because they couldn’t get through via landline or email – and then emailing us on a totally separate matter and failing to mention it.

They can, and should be held responsible for all of those things. Which is what I told them when I sent them a beautifully worded letter, detailing those 6 plus another 6 offences that they have committed over the last two and a half years.

The course of action which prompted me to write this letter was their “withdrawal fee” of £250 +VAT, which we received an invoice for when we decided that as they weren’t actually doing anything, we’d probably be better off not having our house on the market with them. I feel quite strongly, that the withdrawal fee was unreasonable, considering the catalogue of error which befell our contract with Thy Motion.

The Withdrawal Fee is an incredibly cynical charge. You see, Thy Motion tell you that they are a “no sale, no fee” agent. What they mean by that is that they won’t charge you for not selling your house, if they don’t sell your house, whilst they are trying to sell your house. With me? Hang in there… what they WILL charge you a fee for, is if you leave the contract or if they bin you. So, basically, if you don’t sell your house, but stay “on their books” you won’t get charged. It’s only if you ask them to remove the For Sale sign that you get whacked with this fee.
Anyway, as the For Sale sign clashed with our venetian blinds, we thought we’d rather have it removed then it live there indefinitely, so we withdrew from the contract, but I did go on to dispute their fee. I wrote a very respectful and eloquent letter detailing why I felt we had not received good service, and that we felt the waivering of the fee would be a goodwill gesture and small recompense for the (numerous) difficulties that we had had.
Thy Motion disagreed. Which, actually, is fine. It’s their business, and even though their service is dreadful, they did loan us a lovely For Sale board and they occasionally answered a few phone calls. And we did sign a contract tying us to the withdrawal fee.
That was not the problem.
The problem was an unimaginably rude letter which I received in reply to mine, from their “Customer Relations Manager”. The quotation marks here are sarcastic.
Essentially, her letter consisted of a list of most of my points (most, not all. She helpfully ignored the ones that she clearly couldn’t dispute) and a couple of paragraphs for each one of my points, detailing exactly why none of it was their fault, and all of it was mine

I’ll give you some examples:
I advised that our property had not appeared in the estate agency window or the local newspaper, in direct contravention of their policy. I contacted the branch three times, and was told that it wasn’t a very effective advertisement anyway (like that was alright then.) This was the reply I received:

“You say that we did not advertise your property in the window. Yet you did not complain about this at the time. Complaints at the time of an issue are a good indication of how much importance a person attaches to a problem. You did not complain. This is a non-issue”

Ooh – But I did complain. I did. I did. Am I allowed for it to be an issue now, m’lady?
Here’s another:

“What strikes me upon reading your file, is how difficult it was to contact you. Our branch attempted to contact you on no fewer than 13 occasions, but we had no response, and there was no facility to leave a message. Also, you didn’t furnish us with your mobile phone numbers until your house had been on the market for 16 months. If I was a seller, I would have been concerned that I had not heard from my branch, and I would have checked in with them. You did not seem to show such concern. Perhaps the other minor issues that you mention could have been cleared up, had our branch been able to speak to you. I cannot confirm that this was, indeed, a problem”

13 occasions, you say? Hmm. It’s funny how I actually have a text on my mobile from Thy Motion around 6 months after it went on the market, booking a viewing. Oh, and an email confirming a price reduction. Oh, yes, and I dug out an old phone bill and…voila…there is Thy Motion’s phone number on it. I guess I called them a couple of times. Oh, and I have my carbon copy here of the original assessment form, with all of our contact details on it, including those pesky mobiles. Still, if you say 13 times, then it MUST be right.

Do you see a pattern forming?

Essentially, this patronising, truth-bending, fact-omitting tosspot had the nerve to respond to my well-mannered request with a long list of exactly why everything was my responsibility and my fault, and actually blamed me for not following up with the branch after I had complained about something. Because apparently, that’s not their obligation!
If I claimed that I had a conversation with a member of staff, she disputed that it had ever happened because there was no evidence (dammit, if only I’d taken a Dictaphone, or video recorded my visits!) At no point did she apologise that I felt inconvenienced and at no point did she express any kind of empathy or concern that a client had cancelled her company’s service because of a bad experience. In fact, at one point she even stated: “We do not guarantee that anybody will ever want your house. This is not how an estate agency works”

Well, no shite Sherlock?! Really??

You see, I thought you had a cellar-full of ’em somewhere? You know, itching to get on the ladder. Or, failing that, I thought you were a marketer of properties. Well, shoot – now I feel bad for expecting you to, you know, MARKET OUR PROPERTY.

At the end of the day I didn’t get the money off, which was what I wanted. And that’s disappointing. But it was worth a shot. That wasn’t really the problem. The problem here is lack of good, old-fashioned giving-a-monkey’s-about-your-end-user customer service.
You know, I look at this, and it really gets on my nerves. It could have been so easily avoided whatever they thought of me personally – I don’t care if they read my complaint, laughed about it in the office, “filed” it in a bin, or called me a harridan or whinge-bag in the privacy of their offices. I don’t care if they laughed at my audacity, were incredulous that I’m a chancer, or just thought “here we go again.” I don’t care if I NEVER stood a chance of getting a bit of a discount.
I care that WHATEVER their personal responses to my complaint, their directed response to me should have been respectful. They should have acknowledged I felt inconvenienced and unhappy. They should have advised me that they were investigating. They should have confirmed they believed me. And they should have said sorry. Apologies do not have to represent culpability and they could have apologised that I was left feeling that way, assured me that they were going to look into some of those practices, and then advised me that unfortunately they can’t waiver the charge, even if they didn’t mean a rotten word of it.

Instead, they have inflamed me. So, I have written back, and I have withheld nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

I have let them know exactly what I think of their response, and I have even, very kindly, written them a template that they can use in the future.

I know how companies like that sort of a thing.

I have sent it to the CEO, the board members, the committee members, various business managers, a few people in HR, a number of branch managers, and quite a few pretenders to the customer relations throne. Oh, and to several of their competitors along with a copy of their original letter. Because, let’s face it, I can’t fight a company that huge on any kind of productive level – they won’t give a gnat’s doodah about what one house-seller feels, and nothing I do or say will have any kind of business impact one way or another.

But I can waste a bit of their admin time, I can infuriate a couple of them on a minor level, I can maybe even raise a bit of awareness within the closing ranks, and I can hope against all hope, that the “Customer Relations Manager” gets a paper cut.
Because, actually, this week I’m sweating the small stuff.
And because it is making me smile!

Thy Motion? Gazump THAT up your leasehold!

My Life in Sleep-Walks

The other morning, I woke my three-year old son up, to get him dressed and to take him to nursery. Stumbling and bleary-eyed, he made his way from his bed to the bedroom door, and protested by saying: “I don’t really want the day, Mummy. I want to keep night a bit longer.”

I get that, totally.

There has been countless scientific and social research done on how much sleep an avergae adult needs, and physiological, gender, age and medical factors aside, it is generally acknowledged that a “good night’s sleep” which leaves you refreshed and ready for the day ahead, is optimally achieved at around 8 hours.

I have never really managed 8 hours, I don’t think.

When I was a teenager I had insomnia. Proper insomnia – not just a “grrr” feeling of struggling to sleep, but an actual condition whereby some nights I just didn’t sleep at all, other nights I drifted off but woke up anywhere between 6 and 10 times, and other nights where I went to sleep, but then woke at 2am raring to go, but practically dead by 7am. All of this was compounded by the fact that since childhood, I have also been a sufferer of sleep talking and sleep walking.

I say I was a sufferer – probably more true to say that my parents and sister suffered from my sleep walking. My friends who stayed overnight in our teens were sufferers of my condition, and a couple of former boyfriends and now my husband are sufferers too. Because, quite frankly, I’m used to not sleeping very well now. I get by on around 4 hours a night. And if I happen to sleep walk and talk during that time, it’s not me who’s disturbed.
Although, that depends on what your definition of “disturbed” is.

I have literally dozens and dozens of examples of my ridiculous nocturnal behaviour:

There was the time that I “sold” hotdogs outside my bedroom door for a couple of hours. My Dad came onto the landing to see me meticulously placing pencil cases on the floor and accepting invisible money, before retreating into my bedroom and then coming out and doing the same thing again.

There was a time that I was sharing a bed with my (then) 6-year old sister, when I heroically “rescued” her from a giant gorilla called Diana, who (in my sleep-deprived world) was sitting in the corner of our bedroom getting ready to pick our bed up and swing it out of the window. My sister was, understandably, far more freaked out by me telling Diana to stop it, than she was by the imaginary gorilla herself.

There was the time at University when my boyfriend had come to stay, where I (for some reason) got up in the night believing that I had thrown his return train ticket into the wheelie bin. It wasn’t until I was outside our double-locked front door (having come down from the upstairs flat) and onto the street, dressed in pink pyjamas and giant rabbit slippers with floppy ears, that I remembered we didn’t have a wheelie bin, so consequently went next door to look through theirs. The neighbour, that I was too embarrassed to face for the next 7 months, and who caught me in mid-rummage must have got quite a surprise at my rapidly running away self, fleeing up a concrete flight of steps, falling over grazing my knees and ripping my pyjamas. But not as much of a surprise as my boyfriend got when I returned to the bedroom covered in blood – or, indeed, myself in the morning when I realised that it hadn’t, in fact, been part of a dream, and that my boyfriend’s train ticket was in his wallet where he had put it the day before.

Because that’s the thing. Sleepwalkers – we kind of know what we’re doing, but we don’t really believe it so we just carry on. I generally remember in the morning what I’ve done – sometimes when reminded by my sleepy husband, and sometimes when it just comes to me, and I remember talking garbage or rummaging in cupboards for no good reason.

The thing is, it’s still happening. And I hate looking up reasons on the internet, because they usually tell me that I must be stressed, or hysterical, or anxious, or over-worked or depressed. Or have fever, asthma or sleep apnoea. And,genuinely, none of these are the case. Nor am I talking hallucinogenic drugs or drinking lots. I don’t even eat cheese after 6pm. The only other alternative I can see, is that I am prone to bouts of psychosis. Either that, or it’s to do with my chaotic sleep pattern, which isn’t really chaotic, just short.

Whatever the reasons, I’ve been doing this since I was an infant, and I’ve never grown out of it. It looks like I probably never will, so my long-suffering husband and my night-time-keeping son are stuck with this for the foreseeable.

The latest one was the most disturbing one yet, for several reasons – see what you think; My husband was at work, when a colleague answered a phone. She chatted to the person on the end of the phone for a few seconds, and then handed the phone to my husband. My husband took the call. It was me. I asked him if he knew anything about where my bag was. He said he didn’t. I said “No problem, I’m sure I’ll find it later.”

It all seems fairly normal, until you realise that it was 5am and I didn’t wake up until 06:30.

Still, at least it gives us something to talk about at dinner parties.

I Am A Feminist

There I’ve said it.
And it wasn’t so bad.

I am not a lesbian, I don’t have hairy armpits, I don’t hate men, I’m not shouty or militant or aggressive, and I don’t spend all my time making banners and trying to get rid of porn. Although, it would be just fine if I was any of those things (apart from the hating men one)

But I do believe in equality for women. I cannot understand why there shouldn’t be parity on pay, employment, education and society. I believe in a concept of mutual respect and on the notion that people shouldn’t form opinions immediately upon noticing whether someone owns a penis or not. Yes, I’m talking to you, man who told me I should have L Plates on my pushchair when I had my brand new baby inside it. Not because I wasn’t pushing it properly, but because “women drivers need to be trained”

The time has gone now, where it was OK to judge women on their looks rather than ability. The time has gone where it was OK to differentiate between which jobs or studies women should and could have. And consequently, the time has gone where it’s OK for men to whistle at women in the street, or attempt to grope us in nightclubs. Newsflash – WE’RE NOT GRATEFUL. WE THINK YOU’RE A MORON.

Look, I’m not going to go on about this, because it’s not something that I do – it is something that I am.
I believe I am equal to everyone else, unless proved otherwise. And what’s more, I believe that everyone else is too.

I haven’t given time or commitment to feminist campaigns, for various reasons, but what I will do, is ask you to have a look at this: my lovely friend is part of the team who are campaigning for the abolition of Page 3 in The Sun. They need support. If you are unsure as to why this is a problem, or don’t really know if it affects you, why not give them a read? They are enlightened and eloquent women who believe passionately in this cause, and will be able to explain why.

Thanks sistas and bruthas