I had a press release land in my inbox last week that I’ve been mulling over for a while now. It was based on a survey of a few thousand people*, asking them whether or not they snoop on their partner via phones or other devices, and if they’ve ever deleted content so that their partner doesn’t see it.

It also asked people whether or not they trusted their partner.

Just that, straight up, do they trust them.

Now you’d hope that this figure would be pretty high – you wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone you didn’t trust would you?

Apparently you would. While 67% of men said they trusted their partners, which honestly felt bad enough to me already, only 28% of women agreed.

TWENTY EIGHT PERCENT!

Really? Do only just over a quarter of us trust our partners?? I can only pray for a skewed sample otherwise I despair of humanity.

Is my partner checking my phone? View Post

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We are in Ireland this week, partly for a gig that Belle went to last night and partly for Halloween. We were over for Halloween last year and discovered that Ireland goes in for Halloween in a big way. When we went over to friends of my sister’s for trick or treating we found an estate positively FESTOONED in spooky garlands, fake cobwebs and garish pumpkin themed decorations.

Inside the house was even more spooky. Rather than an unenthusiastic clump of parents sulking in the corner while the kids went door to door threatening the neighbours and gathering Halloween themed Haribo there was a full on party – every adult seemed to be wearing an intricate, well thought out costume and the whole matter was taken very seriously. One dad was even dressed up as Banksy’s shredded painting.

Fine. I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is the trend for all women’s Halloween costumes to essentially be that of ‘sexy prostitute’.

We had a look around the shops today to try and pick something out for me, as I hadn’t had any space in my suitcase to bring something with me, and honestly I was just blown away by the women’s Halloween costumes. It was hard to remember sometimes that I was in a fancy dress shop and not some kind of low rate backstreet porn shop.

You can’t apparently just be a pirate, you have to be a ‘sexy pirate’ tottering about on deck in high heels, a mini skirt and suspenders, which is hardly practical is it? Fancy dressing up as a mummy? Nope, no full length bandages for you – you can be a ‘sexy mummy’ though if you like, which is probably just a scrap or two of sheet strategically draped so as not to be completely illegal. ‘Sexy school girl’ always feels like the most disturbing, especially for children’s parties.

My absolute favourite in the shop we went in today was this one:

women's halloween costumes

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I’ve not been interested in dating at all now for a good six months. It’s actually the most chill I’ve ever felt relationship wise and I’m really enjoying doing my own thing, pottering about and basically not caring much about anything.

I’ve painted a wall in my bedroom a really dark greeny teal colour (there’s a picture on my Facebook page) and rearranged the furniture so that my bed is now in a corner and can only be accessed from one side. If that isn’t a statement of intent then I don’t know what is. I even went to an evening class and learned how to make prints in a dark room. Menopause here I come.

A few days ago though I had a bit of a moment – curiosity more than anything I think – and I redownloaded Tinder, just to see. Obviously the first thing I saw was a man holding a big fish, and then another looking incredibly sad and like dating might tip him over the edge, (two ticks on my Tinder bingo card), and so it served as a welcome reminder of why cats are better than boyfriends.

(I also saw that the man who called me a liar was still there. Not sure why he hasn’t been snapped up.)

I did have a cheeky swipe though, just to check that the evening course hadn’t crushed all of my desirability, and I got a few matches back. Fine. In my experience barely anyone ever actually bothers to message once they known that they could if they wanted to, so I didn’t feel under pressure.

And then this morning I got this lovely message and felt it my duty to reply:

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I was on the brink of joining an amateur dramatics group and auditioning for a role in the Christmas production of Aladdin when I finally concluded that I am in the midst of some kind of midlife crisis.

I’d volunteered as a Brownie leader a month or so before, which I’d let slide because I actually like making peppermint creams and hanging out with children who still find joy in life, but pantomime? No.

The trouble I’ve had is that at no specific point do I feel like I am actually IN crisis. No switches have been flipped, I’ve not lost it in Waitrose and swept a shelf of artisan artichokes onto the floor or anything, and yet… for quite a while now something has been OFF.

When I tried to explain it to a friend at the weekend it sounded kind of lame.

‘I just feel kind of BLAH,’ I said, ‘like the stuff that used to feel meaningful just doesn’t. Every day is FINE – I get on with things and I enjoy stuff on one level, but I have no idea what I want to do or where I want to go. I kind of thought by now that I would KNOW, that something would have clicked in. But what if it doesn’t? I used to feel like I had time to decide things and make stuff happen, but what if this is it? I feel like I’ve trapped myself.’

I sighed a bit.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I just don’t know. I swing from the urge, albeit brief usually, to make a grand life plan and act upon it, to just wanting to run away in a mobile library.’

It sounded kind of whingy to be honest.

Midlife unravelling

Mood courtesy of Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Luckily it turns out that I’m not alone in feeling like this. My friend confided that she’s felt the same for a while now, like she just wants to jack everything in and move to France and write novels and not think about anything. What I found really interesting is that although we are similar ages, we are at very different life stages with our families, and so it can’t be just about children growing up.

‘Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis,’ I said.

‘It sounds,’ she said, ‘like more of a midlife unravelling.’ View Post

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I was scrolling through Instagram the other morning, kidding myself that it counted as work, when I came across one of those alleged inspirational quotes.

It was pink and in the kind of shitty font that you see in Powerpoint presentations made by 13 year olds.

‘I don’t sweat,’ it said, ‘I sparkle!’

‘Fuck off,’ I said. (Sorry Daddy.)

I have recreated something similar for you, to give you an idea of how much it made me want to punch my phone in the face:

I don't sweat, I sparkle

Can you FEEL MY PAIN?

Aside from it being awful on a superficial, design level, the message is truly terrible. I’m assuming because of the pink and the flowers that it is aimed at women, and it seems to be implying that sweat therefore, for a woman, is a BAD THING.

Um, why exactly?? View Post

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This morning I accidentally went to an old lady aerobics class.

I belong to this group of council gyms you see, with a very vague programme. I’ve been to two different ‘dance aerobics’ classes for instance – in one of them I was given glow sticks and made to bounce around in the dark to 90s dance music, and in the other I turned up to find everyone is professional dance shoes, ready for their hour of salsa.

This morning then I had taken a chance by signing up to a class just called ‘aerobics’.

On the way in, I bumped into the woman who normally teaches my yoga group, who it turns out was covering the class.

‘You’re not here for the aerobics are you?’ she said, eyeing me suspiciously.

‘Yes,’ I said, and quickly added ‘I’ve not been before,’ as though that would excuse me from whatever blunder I’d inadvertently made.

‘Only I think it’s more of a senior class,’ she said, ‘I’m not sure how much aerobics will be actually going on.’

Super. Old lady aerobics. I didn’t actually mind, because I imagined it would be more my pace, and I am going to be a granny in a few months after all. So there I was, in a room full of senior women many of whom, to be fair, looked in much better shape than me. And I was right, it turns out they WERE in much better shape than me, or at least they LOOKED it, because they don’t have my BRIGHT RED BEETROOT FACE.

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Today I had my MIND BLOWN by a story in the papers about how to open OXO cubes.

First of all, let’s picture a little scene where I’m making something tasty – a shepherd’s pie maybe, or a bolognese.

I’ve fried a onion, browned my mince and had a glass of wine and I’m ready to add some stock. I get an OXO cube out of the little OXO tin I have in the cupboard which says ‘the original beefy cubes’ on the side. I fiddle about with it, trying to peel off the foil and invariably dropping at least part of the wrapper into the frying pan.

Finally I have it unwrapped and I crumble it into the pan. My fingers are covered in OXO cube. I lick them, forgetting it’s OXO cube. Bleurgh. I wash my hands.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s because all this time we’ve been OPENING OUR OXO CUBES IN THE WRONG WAY.

I can barely believe it. It’s like my idiotic hand gliding vs hang gliding moment all over again. View Post

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A couple of years ago Belle and I told my mum that Bee’s favourite thing was flamingos. My mum loves to jump on a theme for birthdays and Christmas and we thought it would be funny if Bee ended up with a succession of flamingo themed gifts.

And we were right. It WAS funny.

Do you know what though flamingos? We’re done now. You’ve had your moment, we’ve had enough. It’s time for flamingos to get in the bin.

I’m sick of going into EVERY SHOP IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD and finding some kind of novelty flamingo merchandise. It seems that flamingos have become the new salted caramel and you know how I feel about that.

Yes you’re cool with you’re crazy pink feathers and your bendy backwards legs, but you’ve made your point. We get it. We don’t need all of our umbrellas from now on the have a flamingo head as a handle.

Yes you, you heard me.

flamingo gift ideas

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

We definitely do not need: View Post

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I went to Iceland for a few days with my sister recently. We had a really lovely time, made even lovelier by the fact that my sister is one of very few people apart from my children with whom I can watch TV.

What is it with people pretending they don’t like watching TV?

Is it just not FANCY enough? Do we want people to imagine we spend our evenings reading wholesome books or going for walks or learning to crochet or something? Because sure, I do do those things from time to time, (not the crochet), but mainly by the time it gets to the evening I just want to mix up a cheeky pina colada, sit on the sofa, and watch some TV.

(The pina colada bit is mainly just in this hot weather.)

how much TV do people watch

My living room. (Not really.)

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I’ve seen a few people mention on Twitter recently this idea that we only have 18 precious summers with our children, and how important it is to treasure them.

I have two issues with this.

Firstly, what the bejesus?? Everyone knows that the summer holidays are the WORST thing about being a parent, especially a single parent of primary school aged children.

Let’s do some maths shall we? There are THIRTEEN weeks of school holidays over the course of a year, not including INSET days. In a standard job you normally have around six weeks of paid holiday.

13 – 6 = 7.

SEVEN weeks where you have to come up with some kind of interesting, affordable childcare solution. Seven weeks where you have to try to convince your nervous nine year old that their very favourite thing to do is to spend a week with strangers in an unfamiliar location, putting on a short play or learning basic tennis skills.

Take it from me, that is NOT easy.

If you don’t work, or during the time that you do have off, you’re not let off the hook. Apparently it’s not enough any more just to tell children that ‘only boring people get bored’ and shoo them into the garden to makes dens. You’re meant to provide structured, wholesome activities or collaborate on Pinterest worthy crafts, because without supervision they become screen bandits, unable to entertain themselves for more than five minutes.

18 precious summers

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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I was on Twitter this morning (for a change) and I saw a tweet from Women’s Hour advertising one of their shows:

‘New Late Night Woman’s Hour pod out now! We’re talking Upskirting, Abortion, whether it’s OK to call a woman Feisty (clue: no) and self-care…’

Now first of all obviously my senses were assaulted by all of the capital letters, because you know how I feel about those. BBC, what is the matter with you??

But then I read it again because since when are we not allowed to call a woman feisty? To me it feels like a positive word. It reminds me of the Shakespeare quote – ‘though she be but little she is fierce.’

I looked up the definition to check I wasn’t missing something:

can I call a woman fesity

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Today I had an intriguing email. It was titled ‘looking for a single mummy.’ It was from a man, I can only presume, who introduced himself as Henry.

Hey, am Henry from Africa, Nigeria to be presided. Am 25 of age and am really looking for care and support from any single mummy around for a son to take care of. I saw your email online so I decided that I let you know that someone is interested in your caring. Thank you for audience, I hope for a positive reply. Thank You.

Well. I had only been thinking to myself just this morning how I didn’t feel like I quite had enough to think about, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Hi Henry,

Thanks so much for thinking of me for this role! Just to clarify – exactly what tasks would I be expected to perform? I’m assuming cooking and washing up as a given, but I should warn you that I’m not very good at ironing. Should I start practising or could you do without that?

Would I need to move to Nigeria or would you live here?

I eagerly await your reply.

Jo

P.S. When you say you preside in Nigeria, does that mean you are president?

I didn’t need to be eager for long, Henry was quick to respond. View Post

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