Sunday, 29 May 2011

It costs me a lot to look this average

I need to ask a question. When did personal maintenance start costing so much money? There was a time when I knew nothing of beauticians, deep conditioning treatments, anti-aging eye creams or waxing. I miss the days of not knowing about waxing. They were a happier time.

And the thing is, I know that as I get older it is only going to get worse/ more expensive. Men don’t have to worry about this. Ok, they might go bald, but unless they know a wig-maker or believe in miracle re-growth creams, they just need to learn the art of acceptance.

As a woman I dread to think what I will spend in the years to come trying to defy the passage of time, regain my youthful looks and turn back the clock. Should I be saving now for the face lift?


The amount of time and money spent on my hair is frightening. Not that you’d know. I am sick to death of washing and drying it - every damned day. Although I do have a confession, if I am feeling particularly lazy, a fringe wash will just about suffice.

People spend an hour a day, seven days a week, washing and blow drying. This is 365 hours a year. I’m not sure I’m willing to make that kind of commitment.

And which shampoo should I be buying? Shelf after shelf of multi-coloured bottles. How bad does my hair have to be to qualify as ‘damaged?’

And then what happens when greying forces you to colour it? A cut is expensive enough. I can’t cope emotionally or financially with greying. And that isn’t taking into consideration the time commitment. Hair needs colouring 6 weekly to avoid unsightly and age-revealing roots, takes 3 hours, and requires a remortgage.

The hair no-one wants.

At present I do not have a moustache. I have very dark hair, so it will come in time. Women are not meant to have moustaches, and thus are forced to either bleach it (unwise and unsightly), wax it, thread it, or laser the little blighter off.

Our eyebrows are expected to be neat, shaped and not meeting one another on our nose. So to avoid a Gallagher look we pluck, wax, or pay a skilled professional to thread. We endure the pain and eyes watering for the smooth and pristine result that is left. Until it grows back 48 hours later.

As for the hair of the lady garden, well ladies, what a hard time we have. Oh, lady gardens, what a bother they are. It's not like you can let them run wild, or even leave them for a few months to see what comes up in the spring. It’s Brazilians and Hollywoods and landing strips. Why do we need to shape our pubic hair like topiary? And don’t even get me started on vejazzling.

Staying trim

I wrote about my latest exercise experiences here. You should read it. After you finish reading this post of course.

I know people who are literally superheros in the exercise stakes. They get up at 5am. They run marathons, lift weights, and are so self righteous I wish to smack them clean in their very slim chops.

I have recently started swimming before work to stay in shape. Goodness, I’ve gone to the dark side of self-righteous exercisers. However, this righteousness is slightly offset by the water that then rattles around my head for the rest of the day. It’s torture. Have you ever had it?

Exercise is definitely overrated. In the history of civilisation, exercise is a rather late arrival. Until around 1910 people exercised all the time, but did not think of it as this, it was life itself. And then, along came cars. Cars are the reason people now have to go the gym and walk on a stationary conveyor-belt.

The good news is I don’t own a car. Maybe I can stop exercising?


I have a lot of lotions and potions. The boyfriend, whose idea of a beauty regime is a wash with a bar of soap, thinks it is hilarious. I know in my heart that all these potions are the same, and are designed to make vulnerable women shell out ridiculous sums for useless products; but I won’t be using foot cream on my face – just in case.

I worry that I am only a few hours a week, (and a fair amount of cash) from looking slightly homeless. The frizzy mop of hair I would have without my shampoo for damaged hair and most prized straighteners. The pot belly I would develop if I ate just half of what I think about eating and gave up the gym. The grubby nails, moustache, bushy eyebrows and worse.

I know that it’s only going to go downhill as the years go on, but at least I can console myself in the fact that I’m probably not going to go bald.

Friday, 27 May 2011

I’ve got pretty good feedback

Today I handed over my latest batch of parcels – mismatched shapes and sizes, patched together with brown paper and sellotape. Hand written addresses of strangers around the globe. 

The post office-man handed me my receipt and said ‘Latest eBay sales huh?’ I asked how he knew. ‘Oh you can usually tell,’ he casually remarked.

He could tell what? That I was a cheapskate flogging my old Topshop dresses for a few quid That I was stony broke? That I was not a professional parcel-wrapper?

I decided not to take offence. But for this guy to be so astute, he must have witnessed a whole lot of EBay sellers posting their items. People just like me, turning up with piles of packages. People who were once oblivious to the complex world of customs forms, shipping costs, the 
differences between a parcel and a package, and the veritable merits of proof of postage.

If Ebay has taught me anything, it is that anything can sell. Whereas our incomplete box sets, tatty furniture and old clothes would once have been boxed up in the attic, given away to charity shops or sold for a couple of quid at a boot sale, now we know better. We sell on eBay.

This virtual auction house is a phenomenon. Every day, 10m people in Britain surf more than 3m live listings, hoping to fall in love with treasures that others have outgrown.

3 million live listings. I need to up my game.

So I should get back to it. It’s time to wave goodbye to the Wii fit. What an utter waste of money that was.

I must say, as I photograph my possessions and load them onto the internet superhighway, I am reminded of the Weird Al Ebay song. For anyone who doesn’t know it, you can watch it on Youtube here

I'll buy your nick-nack, Just check my feedback, 'A++' they all say. They love me on eBay.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

TV dinners are turning my stomach

I like a documentary. No scratch that, I bloody love them. Recent gems have included Inside the Human Body, Louis Theroux’s mega-jail horror, and (only available to the lucky few Scots viewers) The Scheme – subtitles essential.

I am not entirely sure about reality shows, but as they feature on most channels most days, and watching TV is infinitely cheaper than going to the pub, going out for dinner, or the incredibly expensive – going the cinema, I’ve been tuning in.

I do think that the term ‘reality’ should be applied somewhat loosely. Watch The X Factor, tune in to The Apprentice, sit through Saturday’s episode of Britain's Got Talent, and every one of these lunatics will have been vetted in a process as picky and rigorous as any Hollywood casting session.

Apparently though, reality isn’t quite real enough, and so the latest craze is ‘reality drama.’ These are really taking off. These follow real people as they go about their real lives doing real things – things that might have been only ‘slightly’ changed for dramatic effect. Right...

It started in America – of course it did – with The Hills (a load of spoilt LA brats) and moved to the UK with The Only Way is Essex (a load of spoilt Essex brats). Now we’ve got the horror that is Made in Chelsea which is about – wait for it – a load of spoilt Chelsea brats.

I sat down and braced myself, because it's easy to paint a bad picture of posh people; Chelsea is, after all, rather notorious for its landrover driving types.

Made in Chelsea kicked off with a bloke who did something in diamond-mining. He'd spotted a girl called Caggie whom he thought was "parfect, yah". She was wearing a fur coat indoors and his friend reckoned she looked "endangered".

I think he was trying to make a joke. How we laughed.

There was a pretty girl with hair so messy that she had clearly spent at least 5 hours making sure that she looked like she had never met a hairbrush and had in fact just had a fight with  a hedge. She wanted something to eat. "Chelsea girls don't eat! Guffaw" exclaimed a nasal man in a velvet suit.

"This one does," said the messy haired girl. When the velvet suit man sneered back "I know, I can see the cellulite," I judged myself for not turning off.

Ollie had a problem with his hair. Personally I feel his problems were more deep rooted than that, but he was worried his “once fabulous” locks were now “utterly crap darling.”

Luckily his hair worries were forgotten when he, Cesca, and Binky decided to escape to the countryside for the weekend because, as one of them put it so well, "I get bored of pavements."

Cesca said she felt like a "hefferlump". Binky asked what a hefferlump was. "It's not a real animal," said Cesca. "It's a bit like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh."

"Who wrote Winnie the Pooh?" asked Ollie.

"Charles Dickens," said Binky, with all the confidence that the privileged are born with. "No! He wrote Pride and Prejudice," Ollie snorted through his hair.

"Actually," said an appalled-looking Cesca, "he wrote Victorian novels such as Great Expectations." Binky had heard of that – proof, she thought, that she was actually rather clever.

Turns out, you can’t fake that level of stupidity. Maybe Made in Chelsea is real after all.

Friday, 20 May 2011

How to shop for free

Sometimes, when a girl needs new clothes, she has to get creative.

And so the idea for the Swish was born.

The Dictionary definition of swish is ‘to rustle, as silk.’ But for this purpose the definition is slightly more loosely applied, coming to mean ‘to rustle clothes from friends.’

If you love new clothes, but not the unfortunate side effects on the Visa, perhaps you might try a Swish too? Swishing, readers, is shopping without the guilty spend hangover.

And so, on a sunny Saturday in Edinburgh, I entered into the new-fangled world of swishing. The rails were erected, bucks fizz was poured, cakes were enjoyed, and a group of women came together in the hope of finding something new to wear.  

Running a Swishing party is simple, if you just follow the Rules of the Rail.

1) Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.
2) You will have half an hour to browse before the swish opens.
3) No item may be claimed before the swish opens.
4) As soon as the swish is declared open, everyone may take what they want.
5) Remember no scratching, spitting or fighting.

I am glad to report there was only minimal scrathing and spitting. In fact, what a civilised affair it was.

People came armed with bags of clothes - once loved, something to ‘slim into’, clearly the wrong colour for them, pre-childbirth, a guilty buy with the tags still on, a sale bargain… the list goes on.

I am sure if you ask your friends they’ll have these wardrobe critters taking up their rail space, racking them with guilt, a reminder of money wasted, begging to be given a new and loving home.

Save the landfill. Save your credit card. Swish instead.

I’m already planning the autumn/winter collection.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The art of blagging

I hope you’ll forgive me a quick unplanned interlude.

In January I decided to follow my dream to be a writer. I had always said it was what I  wanted to do, but then it struck me one cold day in January that I wasn’t really doing a lot about it. Was I even writing anything?

And so I started writing on the blog. People enjoyed it. They emailed me. They were reading. They said encouraging things. I was encouraged. Perhaps I could do this after all.

In February I set about looking for freelance writing jobs on the internet. I found an American website looking for contributors on a financial theme. I doctored a post from this very blog and emailed it off to them. I told them I was a freelance writer. 

They hired me as a freelance writer.

The first article they asked me to write was on ‘The 5 US Cities with the worst credit card debt.’ I didn’t have a bloody clue. I almost said I couldn’t do it. For some reason I emailed back ‘no worries.’ I did a lot of googling. And when I sent the article, they said ‘thanks’ and paid me. 

I was not found out as a fraud.

Am I being paid a lot? No. Could I quit my job and do this full time? No. Am I a published writer? You bet your life I am.

Tonight I have written an article for Yahoo Finance. The pay is rubbish. But I don’t care.

The day I decided that I was going to do something about being a writer, things started to happen. Until that moment nothing had happened. It’s not rocket science.

Whatever you want to do, just start doing it. Pretend you are already it. Shockingly, people will not ask too many questions.

I don’t know what will happen with the writing. To be honest, I’m not that worried. I wanted to be a writer, and by my definition of being a writer, I already am.

So what am I going to put my mind to next?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Be nice

I have often thought that kindness was underrated. I’m sure it was a lesson taught at Primary School. ‘Be kind to other people’. Back then kindness meant not pushing in, not pinching, and at my rather rough school, not carrying a weapon.

Now, as an adult, I value kindness over almost everything else. I am quite confident that a great deal of the problems in the world could be solved if a dose of kindness was injected.

We sort of expect our friends and family to be kind to us. But when we are befriended in misfortune by people we have never in our lives seen before, well, this is the most striking manifestation of kindness there is.

The other evening, after a real shocker at work that day, I went to the gym, against all of my desperate desires to go home and crawl into my bed. Pleased with myself I staggered (it’d been body pump) home, only to arrive on my doorstep, in my stinking gym kit, sans house-keys. Sitting on my doorstep it started to rain. I was now wearing a damp gym kit with my suit jacket on for shelter and a 1980’s aerobics - style headband. My sense of humour was failing, and the universe was surely having a bloody good laugh.

At that moment, I could have done with a kind passer by. One woman passed by and looked at me strangely. I live in the posh end of town – people do not tend to loiter in doorways. There is something bloody awful about being locked out of your home, and this sneering passer by was no Good Samaritan.

The last time I was locked out, I’m glad to report that a kindly couple did more than sneer. 

I was in New Zealand a few years back and living in a campervan. In my rose-tinted memory this was a bohemian and freeing experience. If I really think hard though, the reality was ice on the inside of the windows every morning and a fair amount of wee-ing in bushes.

But it was, for that period of time, my home. And one day, when my boyfriend ‘misplaced’ the van keys, I was pretty much homeless in a foreign land. I’d like to say I was calm and collected about the whole matter, but I’m pretty sure that I went relatively mental. My irritation was made even worse by the fact that I could see the spare set of keys through the window. I didn’t cry, but I may well have kicked the wheel. No doubt all this achieved was a sore foot.

A couple from Austria, or Holland, or somewhere European, discovered me on the roadside kicking the crap out of the tyres and my other half trying (and failing) to break into our own van. After explaining that the spare set of keys was helpfully locked inside, they offered to call their roadside assistance and pretend the van was theirs.  This was almost certainly against their policy, but they seemed un-phased by this unlawful and reckless behaviour. What mavericks they were.

They waited with us for a number of hours until the recovery man arrived so that they could show their membership card and keep up the pretence. Being British we endlessly apologised for the inconvenience we were causing them. ‘It was no problem’ they genuinely assured.  The recovery man commented in passing that the van registration was rather different from the one he had in his files. Very kindly he did not mention this glaringly obvious point again, and with the skill of a carjacker and the assistance of a large coathanger, he broke into our van.

 The couple would not accept anything for their trouble. To them, it genuinely was not a problem. Of course the only thing to do was to let us illegally use their roadside cover policy and offer us shelter in their car for the hours we waited. Of course.  They saved us several hundreds of dollars in locksmiths, and no doubt one or two rows.

Obviously I have never seen them again, but I have come to think of them as half mythical beings.

On reflection a lot of strangers were very kind to us on that trip. A garage gave us their emergency droplets of petrol when we had foolishly run out. A man walked several miles to return a lost hub-cap to us. Twice. Time after time we found ourselves the grateful recipients of directions offered, meals provided, lifts in cars and kindness abounding.

One day you will find yourself at the mercy of a stranger. Out of money, out of food, lost in a big city, or simply locked out of your flat. Whatever the situation, dramatic or mundane, you will be hoping that a stranger will save you.

So go forth and be kind. Give that lost looking soul directions, pay for the coffee of the guy in front who’s forgotten his wallet, ask the 80's throwback on the doorstep in the rain if she’s ok.  I guarantee that you will feel better about the world, yourself, life in general.

Kindness is contagious. Why not go out and spread it around.


If you have a story of kindness, why not share it in the comment box below.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The bottom line

Florida is trying to pass a spot of legislation that would ban people from having sex with animals and also wearing their trousers lowly slung.

So Floridians are going to have to start pulling up their trousers and stop having sex with animals pretty soon.

This attempt to ban young men from "sagging" – wearing jeans so low they show their underpants – is not new. In 2008, on the campaign trail, Barack Obama told MTV that "brothers should pull up their pants". A year before, a mayor in Louisiana threatened six months in jail and a $500 fine for any man allowing his jeans to slide down his buttocks. The sight of an exposed boxer short has caused uproar this side of the pond too: last year, an 18 year old was threatened with an Asbo for wearing trousers so low that they were showing his underpants. In the end, I am glad to report, the attempt had to be abandoned.

Is this really what it has come to? If this is a pressing problem for society then I think we should all head down the pub and count our lucky stars.

The look originated in hip hop culture, in the 90’s, and echoed the look of prisoners who had had their belts taken away in case they used them to hang themselves. Today, indie emo kids, who need a good meal and are not overly endowed in the bottom department, also tend to wear their jeans hanging low – although a skinnier fit is now en vogue. I am sure that a jean that's tight in the leg and low-slung in the crotch is not easy to wear, but this does not seem to deter them. Maybe they aren’t climbing over anything whilst listening to emotional rock.

So why are the authorities trying to stop them? Is it because the origins hark back to a lawless attitude?

Now I don’t want to see a teenager’s skinny bottom any more than you do, but is this really worthy of arrest? Is it antisocial behaviour? Is that kid making a political statement about gangs and politics?  No, of course not. For most it is rebellion against how their parents would like them to wear their trousers. For goodness sakes, it’s just a trend.

I say this from experience, as someone who had a number of years following the grunge tradition. I committed a host of crimes against fashion. Fishnet tights, oversized boots, morbid hoodies, purple hair and pale make-up being only a handful. Luckily for us all, no-one thought that criminalising any of them was a good idea.

And anyway, where will it end? A law against barely clad backsides may only be the beginning? What other fashion faux-pas will be seen as moral crises for society?

Large women in leggings? Crocs on adults? Clashing?

Call the police, I can see a muffin top.

Friday, 6 May 2011

I’d rather eat at Nigella’s pleasure than Her Majesty’s

I like to eat. This is not to say I am greedy – although my love for cherry bakewells has often made me wonder if there is fat girl inside me trying to eat her way out.

What I mean is that I like food. I love to cook it, eat it, share it with friends, wash it down with red wine, spend lazy afternoons enjoying it and fantasise of living in Italy and making eating a full time occupation, or failing that, moving to a countryside cottage and magically morphing into Nigella Lawson.

But I am not a foodie. I know this because I recently met one. She was straight out of book of ‘how to be a dreadful snob.’ After remarking that she would think less of person for eating in a chain restaurant, I had a sudden desire to invite her round to my home for dinner and force feed her battery farmed chicken. Perhaps even mechanically reclaimed.

Foodies do not eat crunchy nut cornflakes, or skip dinner after a long day at work for half a pack of hobnobs and a cup of tea. And boiling up a pan of spaghetti, then stirring through some Jamie Oliver pesto is definitely not classed as cooking.

But, I imagine, being a foodie is an expensive pass-time. Farmers’ markets do not have BOGOF offers. Purple sprouting broccoli is expensive all year round. And happy animals mean high prices.

As someone who is trying to make necessary financial cutbacks I was interested to read that Sainsburys have launched a promotion that claims that a family of four can be fed on £50 a week. A £50 a week budget equates to £1.79 per person, per day. By these calculations I should be able to feed myself for £12.53 a week. Needless to say this is a lot less than I currently spend, so I was interested.

Shortly after, I learned that this amount is less than is allocated to guests of Her Majesty's Prisons, and only marginally more than is spent on the daily meals of the majority of NHS patients. Whilst one doesn't hear of too many people dying of malnutrition in hospitals and prisons, one also doesn't hear of too many people clamouring to change places with them when dinner time comes around.

As such, perhaps this is one scrimp too far, even for a non-foody. Come to think of it, having subsisted as a penniless a student – the regular arrival of bowls of soup or dishes of spaghetti bolognese, night after night, was enough to drive me to bloody murder.

For now I might allow myself to continue a love affair with food. I like Pizza Express too much to give up chains, could not get used to daily macaroni cheese and cannot bring myself to eat unhappy chickens. I'll never own a noodle maker. I will never tut at other people's lunches. But I will enjoy cooking and haplessly attempt to emulate the mighty Nigella.

I must practice my food related innuendo. With a sideways smirk announce: ‘My gleaming lemon cream is ready.’ Sigh giddily: ‘Ah, look at these gorgeous golden balls.’ Purr at the male guest assembling a fajita: ‘It's a very artistic package you have there.’ Easy.

But let me tell you my favourite part of the Nigella magic –  it’s the moment at the very end when the credits are rolling.  It always shows her (slightly slutty Nige!) in a silk robe in the dark, peering into the bright lights of her refrigerator to find the leftovers of what delights she cooked earlier.  She’ll find her midnight feast treasure and take a bite right out of the bowl.

Oh Nigella you are naughty. Are there any cherry bakewells in there?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Bikram can bugger off

I have just got home from a Body Pump class. As a result my hands have gone into solid claws from gripping the bar and I can barely type.

For anyone who has ever done a Body Pump class, you will understand. Others will no doubt be thinking this is a spot of melodrama for comic effect. Think again.

Body Pump is, to coin a phrase, pretty flipping evil. The correct term is endurance training, where participants, to the background of hard-house music, work all the major muscle groups via a series of weight-bearing exercises including squats, presses, lifts and curls.

I haven’t been to Body Pump in quite some time. Let me think. 3 years. The last time I went I was unable to drive my car home due to leg shake. I remembered this around 3 minutes into the class, but my path to the door was blocked by a knucklehead squatting. Tonight, after reacquainting myself with the ‘pump’, I was gaily walking home and hopped, with a skip of smugness, off the kerb. And my leg gave clean away.


I have friends who partake in Bikram Yoga. For the unenlightened, this is yoga performed in a room heated like a sauna. Roasting hot and 40 per cent humidity. Why? God, why? A friend summarised Bikram Yoga to me, saying, ‘Putting aside the mental pious vegetarian stick insects and the fact it’s massively overpriced – it’s amazing, and will change your life forever.’

Well that’s me sold.

I mean do we really loathe ourselves this much? From StairMasters to kettlebells, Rosemary Conley to Natalie Cassidy, we understand and expect that getting in shape is going to require serious effort on our part. But we pump, pose, zumba, shimmy and now even part-cook ourselves under the loose heading of ‘exercise.’ I fell flat on my face in the street this evening thanks to squats. Is it worth it? Is it really?

I mean you can’t blame us. If I hear one more of the most beautiful women in the world, size zero, preened to within an inch of her life, tell me that ‘she’s just like everyone else and hates her tummy too,’ I am going to go to Hollywood and force feed her Ginsters Pies.

I can’t listen to one more starlet complain about her body.  Cheryl Cole says she has big bum days too. Oh spare me, that woman does not need magic pants. Angelina Jolie herself has moaned that she feels her lips ‘take over her face’. 

Do these women think it's endearing to complain about their appearance? If they put themselves in our size 12 jeans, they would understand that it just makes us want to smack them in their perfect little faces.

A survey by American Glamour magazine found that 97 per cent of readers had negative thoughts about their body every day. I wasn’t surprised, but I’d quite like to be in the other 3 per cent. Every day is a lot of time to commit, life is short.

So for now I will be resting my exhausted (and utterly seizing up) size 12 self, slapping my cellulite with enthusiasm and rejoicing that wobbly bits or not, at least my lips aren’t too big for my face.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Why vouchers aren’t always good news and hairdressers should stick to talking about the weather

I cheated on my hairdresser.

I knew I shouldn't  – but I got a voucher. I know you’ll understand. Reputable chain, 50% off, and with the senior stylist. It was, to coin a phrase, ‘a no-brainer.’

Before you go imagining a wonky fringe, yellow highlights or a hideous bowl cut, my hair is fine.

But I am not. It was horrific. I left feeling slightly dirty, relatively traumatised, and with a solemn vow never to return.

I have been trying to determine why.

At first I thought it was because my hairdresser, Pete from Darlington, spent the full hour sleazily cracking onto me. ‘I’m not gay’ he said within 3 minutes. I politely laughed. It is unfortunate that the nature of the set up meant he was looking directly at me for an hour.

But I think the problem lay deeper than his less than subtle chat up lines. An example of one such line: ‘You remind me of someone.’ (Dramatic pause.) ‘Someone I once slept with.’


The problem was that he wasn’t following the unwritten (but entirely real) laws of being English. As a hairdresser he should have been well versed in the art of small talk and interaction with total strangers. But he wasn't. 

He knew my name. This in itself was problematic. We English do not like strangers to know our names. Nor do we wish to know theirs. Certainly not until a much greater degree of friendship has been established. But as I had given my real name at booking, it was reasonable that he might refer to me as it. But he shortened it, without permission, or years of friendship to excuse it. ‘Rach’ he repeatedly called me. Crime of all crimes: over-familiarity.

He continued down this line of crimes against the English, moving, with pace and without grace onto another: invasion of privacy. Does he not realise that we are a reserved and inhibited bunch? Invasion of privacy is a very serious matter, punishable in a court of law. We are taught as children to mind our own business, not to hang our dirty laundry in public and never, oh lord never, to be a nosy parker.

Pete was a nosy parker.  Pete, listen up. It is not polite to ask me what I do for a living, why I moved, do I have children, am I married, how old I am, where I live, which gym I attend, my motivation for exercising, where I like to drink, why my last 2 relationships failed or my bra size. Only the last one is made up. And he may have asked this whilst the hairdryer was blasting. Prying bastard.

Crime three. Perhaps this was the crime, being trapped as I was, that made me feel most violated. He was touchy bloody feely. Please know that I do not have ‘personal-space issues.’ I like affection, hugging and friendly touching with a very select group of people. Casual acquaintances and my current creepy hairdresser are not in this group. Even with my closest friends I am still not entirely sure what to do. Should we hug or kiss? Is it one kiss or two? Where should we put our hands? But the most pressing question of all, why does the hairdresser keep touching me?

I must say, I was reminded of the time I shook the hand of a removal man, with whom I had been acquainted just long enough for him to move a sofa, and he kissed me sloppily on the face. But that’s a story for another day.

Pete kept touching me. Obviously he had to touch my hair and head for the purpose of the haircut. But my shoulder? My neck? My back?

I’m sure you’re wondering if I said something. If I asked this gentleman to cease his interrogation, stop touching me, and kindly refer to me as Miss Brown – if at all?

Well of course not, it wouldn’t be terribly polite to do that would it now? I am English you know.


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