Monday, 9 February 2009


Me to me

Dear Emma,

The reason your head hurts is because it is 3pm and all you have eaten is a large number of 50% off cheap chocolate balls. They aren't getting better with each fistful. You are in a chocolate induced sweat and incubating a heinous migraine. Go and get some food. Proper food with green bits.


Your body.

(ps - take the stairs you lazy fucker. It's only 2 floors and that old "ow, my knee" excuse is wearing very very thin)

Me to CFO

Dear CFO,

Thank you for informing me that whenever you find money "lying around" the house as you put it, you take it. I now feel able to take said money back from where it is "lying around" in your wallet without compunction. Please take this letter as giving due notice that I will do so from now on without further warning.

Yours affectionately,


(ps - I have not done anything about your parking ticket)
(pps - I still haven't cancelled the internet subscription)
(ppps - the dog is not living outside on Mondays and Tuesdays. Ever.)

Me to Observer Woman magazine

Dear Observer Woman,

Being at heart, a deeply shallow person with a love of the shinier, more expensive things in life, I have not thus far had a particular problem with your brand of breathless fashion and beauty journalism, interspersed with insights into Polly Vernon's life of thinness and cocktail drinking. I can cope with the American Psycho style brand name dropping interviews. I can cope with Kathryn Flett's sex life, and Lily Allen's views on men. Well, sort of. I confess that I did rather love Observer Woman Makes me Spit, but it did not stop me looking forward to Observer Woman Sundays. The Food thing has that horrible sanctimonious John Biffa trying to make us eat quinoa and bitter herbs, Sport is beyond the pale, Music is too blokey and anorak oriented.

This week however, your pieces on why women with children are ghastly, boring, stupid and unfabulous were quite uncomfortable reading. The tone of both articles was glib, vituperative and tacky. Yes. Parents can be boring and self-obsessed and smug. They should not assume that anyone wants to hear about the minutiae of their children's lives. I get that. But these were horrible pieces of journalism. If you have truly met many women who are so singlemindedly determined to talk about their children to the exclusion of all else, who are not interested in "books, or Michelle Obama or Mad Men", then I wonder quite where you hang out. Seriously, girls, you might want to avoid Baby Gap and Tumbletots. The cocktails are lousy anyway.

I am conflicted. Mainly I want everyone to get along and be nice to each other. I used to go to the Woodcraft Folk. I went to Quaker School. I am a peace loving individual. I think people - women especially, for crying out loud - should damn well respect each other's choices. I may be a lentil knitting hippie -it is, after all, my birthright. But I believe there are plenty of battles still to be fought for women, and not - for fuck's SAKE - with each other. Respect. Empathy. Consideration. These things are important on every 'side' (There should not be SIDES! It says so in the Woodcraft Folk handbook! The warring villages must make friends or they will never rebuild the bridge!).

Part of me thinks I should just ignore it; not rise to the bait and give you more publicity, since this, presumably, was the whole point of the piece. I am waiting for Zoe Williams to respond at length, given she gets the whole back page of the tabloid section of the Guardian every week to tell us about the minutiae of raising her infant son. I am sure Alpha Mummy and its army of rabid commenters will be weighing in to fan the flames any minute. This one is bound to run and run. Why encourage it? Another part of me is worried that the responses your piece will bring will just confirm your worst fears - that parents are humourless monomaniacs with a deluded sense of entitlement.

But part of me also wants to snap your legs like twiglets, Vernon, for allowing this provocative dross to go out. You are the editor. I blame you. And I'm not alone. You better run fast in your £1000 Balmain jeans because every woman with a buggy in central London has read your piece by now (Yes! They read! Sometimes whole books without pictures!), and they are all gunning for your ankles.


Brain dead of Brussels

Me to Liberty

My dearest, darling purple one,

Please stop sending me emails and letters suggesting I check out your new online service. Please, when you send me my new store card, do not titillate me with descriptions of the Hall of Shoes, new deliveries of Anglomania dresses and vintage treats in the jewellery department.


You know I love you. But right now, we cannot be together. We must be strong, both of us. One day, we shall be joyfully reunited but until that day I must not allow myself to weaken and listen to your siren song.

Yours always, broken heartedly,



fourstar said...

I note that Polly Vernon column is entitled "Why I don't want children" but throughout its entirety she refers to the myriad reasons for her not wanting babies. Unless this is the first part of a series, that's not really the same thing. Silly woman.

Cassandra said...

I agree with wholeheartedly. To quote one of my especially fab friends "don't judge your sisters." EVER. It is not cool and speaks volumes.

Cassandra said...

OH GOD. I agree wholeheartedly. Why do I always make bloody mistakes when I'm trying to be serious???

VW is oxystudd!

Chantal said...

I would comment (on the Vernon) but I fear it would turn into another rant and you've heard quite enough of that from me today. Am not coping with Monday very well. I'm going to take a beneran (WV) and have a little lie down.

Mrs Jones said...

I went to the Liberty site and looked at the jewellery. The sparkly things that I make are very similar to those being flogged by Lola Rose and are MUCH MORE REASONABLY PRICED. It never fails to astonish me that people will pay £90 for something that's not dissimilar to one of my priced at £25. Yes, this is a sales pitch - hie thee along to and bag yourself a bargain. And I do make all my own glass.

On the baby column front, I've not read it (not yet but will do so in a mo) but I am infertile, have been through IVF and have no kids at the end of it. It can be EXTREMELY tiresome to be with a bunch of women who do nothing but compare notes about their spawn so I tend to avoid those sorts of gatherings. I also didn't comment on your recent posting about kids because it's sad to read people complaining about something that I can't have and never will have, and for which I envy them. Please excuse this comment for lack of funny. But have a look at my jewellery anyway...

Welsh Girl said...

Mmm, chocolate balls.. No. Stop. Think of the apples. Eat the apples...

Must go and read this article. Or perhaps I shouldn't as that only encourages them.

As a non child owning bod I don't mind the child related conversations. In fact it is often interesting, or very funny!

I DO mind when it is implied that I am to be pitied because I am not in touch with my earth mother instincts and so do not understand the joys of motherhood, and can never possibly understand them until I too have pushed my very own football out screaming in agony and then been sleep deprived for two years. Now those mothers really annoy me.

K said...

I hate the mom stereotypes. Most of the moms I know are far more interesting than they are given credit for.

My body also tells me the same thing - put down the chocolate and workout. I usually ignore it.

Jaywalker said...

fourstar - well, yes. Children much easier. They can talk and everything.

Cassandra - aaah, why is it so hard not to be VILE about other people's choices? I don't get it.

Chantal - take two, you poor love.

Mrs Jones - I agonised about posting that, since I am very aware of how it can read. I am hugely lucky and I know it. Truly. And there are very valid points to be made around the way, apparently, some crassly awful parents behave around people who do not have children. But read the article and see what you think because I think it's needlessly provocative and judgmental.

Welsh Girl - who ARE these people? Do they exist? They sound SO VILE.

K - indeed. I usually try to drown the protest in trans fats.

La Belette Rouge said...

Could you write a letter to my body that will convince it that taking the elevator down to the lobby to get the mail is not the physical equivalent of a five mile jog?

Lisa said...

May I enlist you to write a letter to the University of Something's Dance Program? They would apparently prefer an audition by someone in the midst of a rare, but poorly-timed intestinal episode than no audition at all. Reschedule for the sick person? Apparently, The Dance cannot be interrupted by the vomit and the shit. A real dancer would just jette through it, I suppose....

I'll wait to hear back from you.

Potty Mummy said...

You know, for some reason the Polly Vernon thing reminds me of that famous (probably apocryphal) story about Winston Churchill. You know the one, it goes something like: "Sir, you are drunk" said a middle-aged lady to our revered leader. "Madam, I may be" he replied. "But in the morning, I will be sober. You, however, will still be ugly..." By which I THINK I mean, yes, motherhood - especially new motherhood - can make rather dull conversationalists of us all. But we get over it. I'm not so sure there is that hope for Ms Vernon...

nappy valley girl said...

Beautifully put, Jaywalker. I too wondered if I would be fanning the flames before I posted, but decided that it was worth it. I cannot stand PV and have stopped reading her 'Cocktail Girl' drivel because it annoys me so much. Which is a shame, because I like cocktails, and would gladly pour a Cosmopolitan over Polly's head if I saw her in a trendy bar. (But, being a boring mother, obviously I never go out.)

Mothership said...

Ahh, beautifully put, my dear.
I, too, hesitated before posting about that pathetic piece of shockjockery, but in the end had to speak out, mainly because it was so appallingly written and researched. Let's see how long the debate goes on. I wonder which advertisers will benefit most? I wish I had a product to sell..
Most interested to see you were part of the Woodcraft Folk. I suffered INTENSE jealousy because my closest friends in London went but, alas, there was no chapter in Brighton where I spent a good chunk of my childhood. I have recently been reassured (somewhat dishonestly, I suspect) by an old childhood comrade that they didn't have nearly as much fun as I thought they did but I still feel left out.

Pochyemu said...

Well, listen, it's only been very recently that I've thought perhaps one day I'd like to have a kid. But weirdly, and maybe only because the doctor told me that we may have issues conceiving, I'm not too concerned about taking care of the kid for the rest of my life. When I get baby-envy it's more geared at the being-pregnant side of things. Maybe it's a fetish??!

Anyway, many/most of my friends are 30-odd and have either just had kids (SIL, etc) or are contemplating. And there's this whole weird vibe going around about having to have all of the equipment - new, not second hand - and going to all of the classes (SIL went to a whole class that was ONLY ABOUT bathing a baby. How hard can it be?? Also, she bought a blood pressure monitor and tested herself every 20 minutes even though the doctor told her there really wasn't anything to worry about. Weirdo.), and I would agree with the article that having kids seems to be a much more materialistic endeavour. Also, women tend put a LOT of pressure on each other to have all the right things and the right make, etc. But it's stupid because, hello, why are you so worried about what kind of pram to get? As long as it has a minimum of two wheels, who gives a shit?

So, in a few ways, I guess agreed with some of the first article but then, THEN, the second one! My god! She sounds ANGRY and BITTER! But why?! I thought her life was so fantastic, what with the jetting to New York and all...and then she said this:

"I am miserable for my friends with fertility issues, of course, for my friends who desperately want families. They're so, so sad about it. At the same time, I do have to stop myself going: "Seriously?" every time they cry on my shoulder."

...and I thought, 'You cruel, heartless bitch'. Her friends are confiding in her that they are heartbroken they may be unable to have children, and she's still be patronising...SECRETLY PATRONISING.

That's when I thought, fuck you lady, have fun in New York.

Pochyemu said...

Shit, that was really long. Sorry!

katyboo1 said...

Hope your head is feeling better. Thank you for venting your spleen today re: Observer. You have saved me from doing it, and I'm already cross enough today.

Sass E-mum said...

Your letter to Observer Woman is great. I knew someone else would write the ideal complaint - and you have.

I posted about it though. How could I let such shoddy rubbish pass without comment?

Jaywalker said...

Belette - I have had no success thus far with my own body. I might not be the person to ask.

Lisa - ok, I'm thinking shouty, terse, fearsome. Is that true? What is WRONG with them?

PM - Yes Polly and Rachel; I AM totally jealous of your fantastic lives. You are right. I am a spent husk of a person. May I be excused now?

NVG - gah. I have run out of words. I keep fearing they will feel vindicated if I write about it.

Mothership - oh, sweetheart let me put you TOTALLY straight on that one. It was so. fucking. boring. No competitive games. Fannying around with a piece of silk and lots of singing. Enacting endless role plays where two warring tribes learn to cooperate and everyone lives happily. You missed nothing, I promise.

Pochyemu - you see I spawned when young and poor and far too self-absorbed to agonise about prams or go to any classes. And noone except my mum knew what a baby was.

Katyboo - Oh my GOD. ALAN MEASLES. Simply the most amazing thing ever. Tomorrow, when my camera is working, I will be singing his praises with a photo essay I think. Thank you thank you thank you.

The Recessionista said...

Did you see where Polly Vernon said "should we be slashing holes in our jeans"? with a bit of luck she will miss and hit a wrist!

Shoe Envy said...

To Mrs Jones - I just want to say thank you for being brave enough to say pretty much exactly what I wanted to say after the previous post but which I didn't because I didn't want it to seem like a personal criticism of Jaywalker (it's not - honestly). Mrs Jones, believe me, I know exactly how you feel.

JPM said...

AH-HA! "the American Psycho style brand name dropping..." Lightbulb. I have a friend who has developed similar writing style with increasing ferocity since high school but never before put my finger on its origins.

Jaywalker said...

Sass-E - I really fear they are just laughing into their cocktails. But hey.

Recessionista - does she have any idea how COLD it is here? And how sharp Oscar's evil little teeth are? Holes in my jeans? Non merci.

Shoe Envy - oh god, now I feel like an asshole. I'm sorry. I hate the idea of making you or anyone feel bad (except you Oliver James, get back in your box. And Vernon, you too). But imagine, it would be way worse if I wrote sappy poetry to the delighful curve of their ears, no? Then you should totally hire a hitman.

JPM - It's weird. It sort of sucks you in. And then you hate yourself.

Summer said...

OMG! i got scared with the picture with your son and the dog. :( :D nice blog u have here.

Jaywalker said...

Summer - scared is totally the right response. He is digusting.

Belle said...

I fought that I'm-so-much-more-than-a- boring-mommy battle a while ago. Like a Roman general, I now wait at the edge of the forest while my minions fight for the higher ground. Frankly I find most non-parents ghastly, boring, stupid and unfabulous. I won't even mention uppity psuedo intellectual singleton journalists. Sacrifice is the only thing in life that makes people real, and only mothers are stupid enough to endure sacrifice on daily basis.
BTW - vituperative - I'm so taking that word back to my blog with me.

Belle said...

Except for Pochyemu. She is not boring or ghastly.

Belle said...

And you have sacrificed Mrs Jones. Which makes you particularly fabulous.
And your jewellery.

Juci said...

Well, these two 'journalists' don't sound like they SHOULD have kids anyway, so it's probably better all around that they don't. They do have a point on the materialistic stuff but that is hardly any saving grace.
Anyway, how the hell do they expect to understand something that cannot be fully grasped unless actually experienced? (The feeling of being a parent, I mean.)

Jaywalker said...

Belle and Juci - no, no! I am a peacenik. No fighting. Be nice! I want everyone to LOVE EACH OTHER. Peace and love and green shirted complaint rock in the forest. Or I will cry.

Belle said...

Can we at least trash men then?

Jaywalker said...

Belle - oh, yeah. The patriarchy. That's fine. Continue. "Do as you're told" indeed!

Cassandra said...

Me again! In my experience, some people are crashing bores who make you want to gnaw your limbs off. Others are radiant and fabulous with magpie minds, sparkling eyes and filthy laughs. Whether they have children or not is immaterial. Boring parents would have been boring about something else, that is all!

Loved Pochyemu's essay, btw.

fourstar said...

@Belle: Yeah, the bastards.

Jeannette said...

Ha! Great letter to Observer Woman! And thanks for the link to OWMMS....

Welsh Girl said...

Oh my God. I've just read the second article by Polly 'full of herself' vernon and she is a silly bitch! Just thought I'd share that.

Léonie said...

"Hey Polly, what do you do for a living?"

"Oh, who me? I write self-obsessed pieces of drivel designed to make other people feel horrible about their life choices. I pretend that there is such a thing as a "fabulous" lifestyle that involves cocktails every day and city breaks every weekend, perpetuating a Sex and the City-esque ideal that everybody over the age of eighteen knows is a complete fabrication, whilst deluding myself that anybody, ANYBODY gives a shit about my life. The only people that can bear to be around me are as vapid and ridiculous as I am. Sometimes I sit in swish cocktail bars listening to the sound of women everywhere thinking, wow, thank God I don't have to be friends with that monstrosity of a person. I might pretend to be a feminist (sometimes) but in fact I hate women, I hate myself and I hate you."

"Right. Do you... enjoy that?"

N.B. As a childless woman I never have any objection to my friends talking about things they are fascinated and excited by. If that happens to be water-skiing or belly dancing, then so be it, or if it happens to be their children, then that is cool as well. (I am not comparing having kids to shaking around to Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, I'm just saying that I support my friends.)

Belle said...

Fourstar you don't count because you are a cross dresser. A thingy rather than a man.

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Ok, I read the rachel Cooke piece and thought that she was being quite fair. Mums can be bores. As can London based journalists. But as you have all said PV is a silly bitch, I am going to go and read that now. I am still reading you btw I just don't always comment. I loved your piece about how you got with the CFO. I too was a big Betty Blue fan, thought that was the way to love. By being a complete mentalist. I too had a bonding moment over the '97 election with my hubby...

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Why would it even bother anyone when PV wrote some high brow stuff such as this...

'The It bag did not die at the end of the last season (even though everyone said it would). What is dead, however, is the It bag with ostentatious hardware (padlocks; rivets etc; although chain handles, oddly, remain super-acceptable)..'

I mean, honestly EVERYONE was talking about the It bag, weren't you and all your friends?? And so glad that chain handles remain SUPER acceptable. I can now sleep easy tonight...and to think I dare talk about my children/my friends dare speak about IVF when there are chain handles to discuss...

Jaywalker said...

Whatever you do, noone check out the totally RABID comment thread on alpha mummy as I predicted. Yes. It was inevitable. All the frothing loonies are piling in.

Jeanette - yes, I was quite disappointed they stopped. It was fun..

Welsh Girl - I just don't get it. I mean, ok, rating booster perhaps. But even so.

Léonie - why hello dearest. If only having children was MORE like wiggling to Shakira. It should be.

CTTF - if just felt like a low blow from a Guardian group paper, when I have practically defined my bloody identity as 'guardian reader' since birth. AND they pay Zoe Williams every week to write a column of some of the most boring baby stuff ever. And the bastards rejected the marrowdile. Yes. I am bitter. You however, are way more grown up than I am.

fourstar said...

@Belle: What on earth gives you the idea that I am a cross-dresser - is it the photo? I hope you don't for one moment think my 'do' is some kind of periwig, hairpiece or toupee. I'm not sure I could live with the shame.

dangerosa said...

I'm a lurker (and avid fan of this blog!) not a poster or a blogger, and I realise I'm very late to this particular party, and I doubt anyone will even read this comment, but its been eating me up, so I have to comment.

It just seems to me that this ‘sisterhood’ thing works both ways, and in my experience some mothers could show a little more understanding and compassion towards their sisters who don’t have children. There are so many reasons that women don’t have children and not many of them have to do with wanting to drink more cocktails. They might have never met the right man at the right time, they might have fallen in love with a man who adamantly didn’t want to have children and as in my case, just couldn’t quite give up an otherwise big special love for the possibility of ending up with no kids AND no partner, and as your other posters have pointed out, lots of women can’t physically have children.

Some of the reactions I have seen towards both these articles highlight the kind of social undercurrents I always feel directed towards those of us without children – ‘women without children are usually materialistic, selfish career women’, ‘being a mother is all about selflessness’, ‘you’ll never know true love until you have children and ‘having children fulfils me as a woman’. In both these articles, I’m hearing defensiveness from the authors from years of these sorts of implicit judgements…

From the outside, having children seems to admit women to an exclusive club that also seems to be kind of myopic and inward looking, and quite dismissive of the lives of those who aren’t in the club.

And here endeth my rant (although I could go on and on and on....)

Jaywalker said...

Dangerosa - I read it! I'm obsessive like that.

I do think you make a lot of valid points, and I have found a lot of the commentary on these pieces really uncomfortable reading (it's done the tour of the mommy bloggers and set off some vicious stuff). Of COURSE it should work both ways. Why should anyone feel they can pass judgment on the way that other women choose to live - or don't choose but end up living? It's so utterly wrong-headed. But I feel Vernon and Cooke are fanning the flames in a very deliberate and calculated fashion and it makes me weary.

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