Mum’s the word…apparently 

I encountered a very annoying taxi driver this morning. As we all know, the best kind of taxi driver is the type that drops you off at your destination in complete silence. I regret to inform you that this fella did not shut up from the moment I got in the car.

In the space of a twenty minute journey, he managed to complain about everything from the council to “the foreigners”; please note that my response to the latter small-minded comment would be too lengthy to be included here and is a different blog post for a different time.

However, none of the above irritated me as much as when he asked me the question that I find myself answering more and more these days, especially since I turned 30 last year.

“Do you have any kids?”

I seethed inwardly. “No,” I replied, through gritted teeth. “Don’t think it’s for me to be honest.”

His response, and this is a direct quote: “Oh, you’ll be fine – once you meet the right fella, it’ll be ok.”

Firstly – RUDE. Yes, I’m crap with money, and still living at home, and get myself into drunken mishaps on the regular – but just because I haven’t got a partner or kids doesn’t mean I’m not “ok.”

Secondly, I didn’t actually at any point confirm whether I had a partner or not. He’d therefore made the assumption that just because I had no kids, it was only because I am alone in this cold, cruel world, and that once I met the right man, all would be well. 

He’d also assumed that I would change my mind. Yes, this may well happen in the future. But I don’t need anyone – especially someone I have known for the grand total of twenty minutes – to reassure me about this, as if my life is on hold until I’m lucky enough to be swept off my feet. *eye roll*

Taxi Driver didn’t know the first thing about me, other than my name. I may have had fertility problems, for all he knew. He could ask that question of someone who has lost a child, or who does have children but they don’t live with them – and that would be distressing and completely avoidable, solely by keeping his mouth shut.

I posted about it on Facebook this morning and a lot of women, all in different circumstances, offered their experience of similar encounters. One is married but doesn’t want children; she would probably have resulted in Taxi Driver crashing his smelly cab. My best mate is a brilliant mum to two beautiful boys – but is often asked if she’s trying for a girl. How can anyone think that this is an acceptable question?

I resent being asked this question so frequently. I feel it implies that I am somehow lacking, that until I have a child I am incomplete as a woman. How dare I be in my early thirties and have the audacity to be both single and childless! What a societal let down! I also feel irritated by the fact that men are asked similar questions on far fewer occasions. 

Finally, and most importantly – it’s none of your business, pal. And I’m “ok” already – thanks so much for your concern. 


Let’s rise above the Daily Fail’s comments about the ladies at Aintree

Just a quick one about a subject that rears its ugly head every single year and never fails to get me riled.

Yup, it’s that time of year again when the Daily Fail gleefully and spitefully goes out of its way to make a mockery of Scouse women going to Aintree. I’ve said only Scouse women there, even though obviously people from all over the country attend the races, but this doesn’t suit the Mail at all; they don’t like the idea of someone well-to-do looking a bit dodgy. This year’s coverage has been particularly cruel, I think. The photographers have gone out of their way to get photos of women when their skirts have blown up, and the captions have veered from the snobby to the downright mean – many basically said “good God woman, you are just too fat for that outfit!”

How dare they. How do they know that the women they’re photographing and sneering at don’t already have self-esteem issues, or have had eating disorders in the past? Or simply thought they looked absolutely great as they left to have a fun day out with family and friends that was then ruined by the malicious words from a cruel newspaper. I’d be crushed, I know that for sure.

However, there are a couple of things I’ve noticed in people’s attempts to defend our fine city. There have been comparisons made with other race meetings like Ascot and Cheltenham, and comments about how women – and it’s always the women, never men, as men will never have to worry about their appearance and behaviour being scrutinised and commented on to the same degree as women do – behave badly there as well, and have patchy fake tan on display there as well, and fall over when they’re a bit pissed in their dress that’s maybe a little bit short there as well, as if this comparison is a great defence. Actually, the fact that it’s being noticed at all at other race meetings too shows that women are clearly expected to behave and dress in a certain way all over the country – are you really trying to tell me that men don’t get drunk whilst maybe wearing a suit that doesn’t quite fit at the races? – and it’s only the media who are portraying the image of the northern girl making a show of herself.

I’ve also seen a photo of the journalist who wrote the article doing the rounds on social media and her appearance is being ripped to shreds, apparently to “shame her like she’s attempted to shame the women of Liverpool.” People are ridiculing her, calling her names, laughing at her choice of tights for God’s sake. Errrr…isn’t that stooping to the Mail’s level? Isn’t that being just as nasty, and making a woman feel bad about how she looks, which is WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO AVOID?!

Basically, what I’m saying is let’s all be bloody nice to each other. Let’s not childishly retaliate when a journalist writes a mean piece about the great women of our city. Let’s rise above it and tell each other we look beautiful. And to everyone going to the races today, I hope you have an absolute ball and I bet you all look gorgeous. Do us proud!

Music that means something to me, day 7 – Don’t Look Back Into The Sun by The Libertines

The Libertines’ first album was released as me and my mates were starting sixth form, their second just after we’d finished our A-Levels, and so they basically soundtracked our formative years.  Mixed Bag every Thursday and Le Bateau every Saturday, without fail (we’d moved on from the Walkabout by this point.) We’d spend all our time in the common room discussing the previous weekend’s nights out and planning the next.  Nothing much ever changed from one week to the next, but we didn’t want it to because we were having a ball and The Libertines existed and nothing else mattered.  We devoured the NME for every last scrap of gossip about them and were swept along in the romance of it all (as romantic as a heroine addict robbing his best mate and being sent to prison can be, but it seemed so to us at the time.) They played the Zanzibar when Pete got out and I remember being there with all of my friends and feeling like I was going to burst with happiness because of this brilliant band and I just knew that Pete and Carl were going to be friends forever.

Obviously, the bubble burst soon afterwards.  The Libs split up.  Pete and Carl had fallen out.  Fast forward to Leeds Festival 2010 and they were back together.  However Pete freely admitted it was just for the money, and my word did it show.  I remember watching them just going through the motions, not caring about anything, least of all the music and I was so very disappointed.

But then Glastonbury 2015 comes around.  Grohl’s broken his leg, Florence has taken the Foos’ place – and we wake up on the Friday to rumours that The Libs were taking her slot.  I can’t quite describe the joy we felt when the banner displaying their name was unveiled.  We were seventeen again. The only thing that mattered was passing our A-Levels and having enough money for Pub Thursday and our taxi money home from Le Bateau.  No debts, no job, no worries.  Pete and Carl cared again, they loved each other again, they loved music again. And I looked at our Paul going mad for them too – sixteen years old, too young to remember when they were around the first time – but they will mean the same things to him and that’s a beautiful thing. 

I’ve barely listened to their new stuff; I don’t really want to.  Those two near-perfect albums are enough for me.  This song’s probably my favourite.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about music that means something to me, despite the fact that I’ve managed to do it wrong by dragging it out for weeks rather than doing it on seven consecutive days. (I’d like to say that I’ve been too busy to keep on track with it, but if I’m being perfectly honest I’ve only been busy having naps and watching telly.)  I could probably carry it on forever to be honest.  Here are a few notable omissions from my list that could have been included:

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great
This song reminds me of living in a flat in town and thinking I was having a ball but I wasn’t, far from it.  I was unemployed, slightly unhinged and my bedroom had no windows, for God’s sake.  I would have included this properly but the accompanying spiel would probably have been extremely depressing – I thought I’d spare you.  See also: All My Friends, notable for a smidgen of it being included in the latter stages of Hot Chip’s utterly glorious Glastonbury 2015 set.  I cried, obviously.

The Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There.  Girl power and all that.  We’ll ignore the absolute travesty that was Viva Forever: The Musical.  Still not over it.

The Lion King soundtrack – Hakuna Matata
It means no worries, after all.  (I once did this on karaoke.  Video footage may still exist.)

Elbow – One Day Like This
I saw this live at Glastonbury on one of the best days of my life to date.  It reminds me of love, loss and someone who changed me for the better, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time.

Joni Mitchell – Little Green
An ex-boyfriend introduced me to this album; my incessant playing of it thereafter probably contributed to the demise of our relationship.  “You’re sad and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed.”  Beautiful.

I’ll wrap this up here with another Libs lyric, otherwise I’ll be chatting on all night: if you’ve lost your faith in love and music, oh the end won’t be long.

Music that means something to me, day 6 – Riverdance


For one, because it’s so hilariously dated.  The presenters introducing it in unison!  The hair!  Michael Flatley in general!  Amazing scenes.

But also, I can remember the exact moment that my dad saw it for the first time.  Yes, my dad – not me.  The whole family were away for a weekend and Tam was watching Eurovision in the hotel bar (😂) and when we all met him in the lobby later on he could barely speak, he was that overwhelmed by it.  Being an Irish dancer at the time, it wasn’t long before we all saw it with our own eyes and a obsession that lives on to this day began.

I need to set the scene a little here.  Irish dancing was absolutely not cool at the time.  (Some people may say that this is still the case, but these people would be wrong, especially when comparing it with pre-Riverdance days.  Also, you end up with calves of steel.)  I was an absolutely rubbish Irish dancer – really appalling.  I was good at the heavy shoe dances but only if I remained rooted to the spot, and my attempts at the light shoe dances were frankly comical, but I adored it, adored my friends there and adored it all the more when Riverdance and Lord of the Dance came on the scene.  We went to see the latter at the Empire on its first tour – still, to this day, one of the best things I have ever seen; I was transfixed.  Our Maria had my nan demented making exact replicas of the gypsy’s costume (God bless my nan, what a babe.)  And even now, Reel Around the Sun off the Riverdance soundtrack is one of my yarden dances of choice. (Sorry neighbours.)

I only actually saw Riverdance for the first time (onstage rather than onscreen) a couple of years ago.  I cried within about twenty seconds of it starting; the entire soundtrack is so beautiful and powerful.  But this…this is the original, and the best, and sends shivers down my spine whenever I listen to it.  I love it with my all heart.

Music that means something to me, day 5 – September by Earth, Wind and Fire

Day 5 of 7 (we’ll ignore the fact that it’s three days since my last post) and it’s a song that never fails to put a smile on my face. 

For a person who is not very shy at all – give me someone to talk to and I will chew their ear off for hours – I am absolutely terrified about getting up in front of people and doing presentations or performing in any way shape or form.  This became so bad that I dropped out of university – twice – because I steadfastly refused to participate in any modules that involved doing presentations (that’d be all of them) and also didn’t turn up to a teaching placement once because I was too scared of the seven year olds that I’d be working with.  Daft, I know.  But a GENUINE FEAR. 

I avoided the issue for years until one day my sister Helen, who was at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts at the time, showed me an advert for a choir group that was beginning in the Black-E in town.  Now, I love singing (as my poor family and neighbours will attest) and had talked about joining or even starting a choir for years, but then did nothing about it because of the  aforementioned crippling fear.  But I really wanted to have a go at this one, so our H said she’d come with me for some moral support.

Oh god, the fear I felt before that first class.  What if I was asked to leave FOR BEING TERRIBLE?  What if I cried in front of everyone due to abject terror? (This has happened in the past.)

Of course, none of these things happened.  I absolutely loved every second.  Our H only went with me to the first couple, admitting that she’d had no intention of sticking around once she knew I was going to be okay. (Awww.)

The choir only ran for about twelve weeks and culminated in a little concert in front of everyone’s family and friends, something I’m sure that my mum had thought she’d done her fair share of attending; obviously I had other ideas.  September was one of the songs we performed.  I sang my little heart out with a massive smile on my face and, although in the grand scheme of things that little fifteen minute concert didn’t mean much at all, to me, at that moment, it meant so, so much.

Music that means something to me, day 3 – Set You Free by N Trance

I’ve just got back from a cottage in the middle of nowhere for one of my best friend’s 30ths so it’s only right that my next choice is the song that reminds me of all of my close mates collectively.  From the early days in the Walkabout, to a million brilliant nights in Le Bateau, via house parties and now weddings, Set You Free is the song that’s guaranteed to get us all on the dancefloor dancing like divvies and screaming the words at each other, getting a bit emotional at the same time.  We’re getting on a bit now – gone are the days of THURSDAY: Mixed Bag, FRIDAY: Bumper and SATURDAY: Le Bateau, every week without fail – but no matter where I am, whenever I hear the thunderstorm intro, I think of my beautiful girls and all of the amazing times we’ve shared together.  Here’s to many, many more.

Music that means something to me, day 2 – Wake Up by Arcade Fire

I’ve managed to mess this up already by posting my first song just after midnight today, instead of last night like I was meant to, so it’s turned into “seven songs in six days, because I can’t count or tell the time.”  What a divvy.

I could’ve gone for any one of loads of Arcade Fire songs.  Neighbourhood #2 (Laika) makes me think of our Maria.  Rebellion (Lies) reminds me of an ex (one of the sound ones.)  Reflektor brings to mind its glorious release day, and the realisation that it only bloody featured David friggin’ Bowie.  However,  I’ve chosen Wake Up because it reminds me of epic closing stages to many a brilliant night in Le Bateau (R.I.P); seeing them at, yes, you’ve guessed it, Glasto, which will probably be mentioned in every single one of these posts, and when I went with our Maria to see them at the Carling Academy in town (now the O2) over ten years ago now.  Which makes me feel old.  We thought we were wildly extravagant because we bought tickets off touts for nearly £50 each, when they’d only cost £9 at face value, but it was worth every penny; it remains, to this day, one of the best gigs I have ever been to. 

It also reminds me of my dear friend Erin, one of my fave girls, and screaming the lyrics to each other at most of the aforementioned venues.  “I guess we’ll just have to adjust…” Love you, prin!

I wasn’t at Reading to see this performance, but I love this video – take care of each other indeed.