Oh my eyes...

I know summer has started when my mother reminds me to wear sunglasses. I can’t recall when she first read that blue eyes are especially sensitive to light but over the years the risks have assumed ever-greater dimensions. I know now that if I don’t wear shades my…

Feeling selfie-conscious

I’m being more disagreeable than usual. But I’m pregnant. I blame the baby, or as I call him, ‘the excuse’. I was in the green room the other night and had an argument about Brexit even though I was voting the same way as the man I was arguing with. Then a comic expressed his disgust at Adam Johnson’s punishment for getting it on with the fifteen-year-old. Not the severity of the punishment, the fact of there being any punishment at all. ‘Did you see her?’ he asked aghast. But it wasn’t a mistake. Johnson didn’t accidentally whip his dick out thinking she was 25. ‘He knew she was 15. He knew it was illegal. He checked that online. He did it anyway. If you think it’s ok to shag a 13-year-old* why don’t you campaign to get the law changed?’ I quipped. Of course hormonal teenagers fancy adults. But now I’m in my thirties (stage age 29) it seems pretty gnarly pulling someone who spent their day in a playground trying to look legal. What would I know? Little boys clearly aren’t wearing enough make up to tempt me.I moved on to safer ground. It’s been great gigging while pregnant. It seems to be amusing in and of itself. I was wolf whistled onto stage the other night, which was genuinely funny. Only this comic didn’t think it was funny, he thought it was a thing: pregnancy porn. That wasn’t where I’d been heading with my anecdote. ‘Pretty niche’ I managed. ‘Oh no, it’s a really big thing pregnancy porn. Because a pregnant woman’s nipples get darker.’ Pregnancy chat often naturally morphs into an, ‘oh yes, my ankles are swollen too’, but I had nothing to report back to this strange little man about nipple discolouration. I invoked the linea negra. A black line that can apparently appear down the centre of the stomach, and whose name has the virtue of being in Latin, which I am confident must make it niche masturbation material. Small talk, eh?Another day, another dollar. Up the Creek has had a refurb and the new toilets are sublime. It used to be that you would return home after a night out and be grateful to use your own bathroom. Public amenities were something to be dreaded. They offered a moment to reflect on the diseases you might catch if your knees weren’t strong enough. Not anymore. Now they’re an opportunity to take a photograph of the stonewashed tiles you’ve always aspired to. I’m grateful, especially as I’ve never needed to pee so often in my life, but I’m disconcerted. There is more room for a sense of inadequacy in the average pub toilet these days than there is on all types of social media combined. These loos are more impressive than instagram snaps posted from a yacht. Because they’re just toilets and they’re decorated better.Talking of snaps there’s nothing bleaker than seeing people pose for selfies. Especially young people who really know what they’re doing and will ardently pose for hours to capture an effortless image. What would I know? I’m older. Although time has its own advantages that I noticed at the airport recently. I was at an oyster bar with my water while my other half enjoyed a glass of wine. Alongside us a single woman slurped oysters and sipped champagne. Things have changed. I lived abroad on my own for years and got used to eating by myself. But then I couldn’t afford smart places so there was little risk of being mistaken for a high-end prostitute. (And what’s wrong with them? Many people have made happy second marriages from such encounters). I felt really happy that this woman looked so great and independent at this bar. I willed her to order another oyster platter like a gluttonous king. Instead she took out her phone and started taking shots of each oyster slithering from its shell into her carefully pouting mouth. This might work on a Testino shoot but everything looked repulsive at the airport including the oyster. Over and over she tried, like Sisyphus, to achieve the unachievable. You can’t take a picture of yourself looking like you don’t realise how great you look, because you’re taking a picture of yourself. So there it is. The camera and its phone makes us feel connected and at ease, but make us look as uncomfortable and out of place as we did when we weren’t supposed to leave the house without a chaperone. Maybe by the time Adam Johnson’s ‘seducer’ grows up, technology will be so advanced we’ll be able simply to blink and capture the idea of how we hope we look. Until then, it's a fail.*did I mention I'm pregnant?

But I'm Alright, Jacques

I really resent this EU referendum. We all know that despite the best intentions, like most overambitious projects the EU is failing. Its representatives are corrupt, its economic policies are destructive, its unaccountability is contributing to a far right surge not witnessed in Europe since the 1930s. But until Conservative Party infighting made this moral maze my problem I could ignore it. I was like a long married woman who would never leave her husband even as she secretly hoped he choked on their Golden anniversary cake: now I’m being asked to renew my vows with the enthusiasm of someone that wants to. But if I actively vote for the EU, am I strengthening the very institutions whose policies are crushing our weaker European neighbours?It’s not my fault that the EU is rotten. I’ve never even voted for an MEP. I pretend the European Parliament isn’t there; and simply enjoy the trickle down of benefits like a man whose dad had multiple offshore accounts in Panama. In fact I took a look at who does represent us in the European Parliament and the biggest party is UKIP (26.7%) – nothing to do with me at all. Meanwhile, our right wing looks more welcoming than an equal opportunities application at the BBC next to their defiantly nationalistic French cousins in the Front National.I’m English not Greek. In the UK we’re not faced with the spectre of Golden Dawn representatives sitting in Parliament or its swastika-tattooed spokesmen strutting down our streets. My idea of a Nazi is someone that watches too much Top Gear.We’re not in the Euro. So why should I care about the 50% youth unemployment stalking the Spanish. Their national crises are my bargain holidays. My passport is a golden ticket to their golden beaches. All I have to do is avoid the Greek ones buckling under the weight of the migrant crisis, while I sip a pina colada and criticise Angela Merkel.So why do I feel guilty for lurking in the Remain camp? What’s wrong with voting for the devil I’ve been dancing with all my life? As the mean spirited calculator circulating Facebook reminds me, I might even be a few quid better off if we stick with the status quo. And for God's sake, think of the paperwork. Certainly if I don’t do anything, I can’t be blamed for anything. Anyway, it suits me. Particularly mid-row when I remember I can move back to Paris, or when I’m having a drink with friends whose passports aren’t British. Of course I should and will vote for the convenience of me and mine, and ignore the mass unemployment of strangers.The problem with short-term self-interest though, is that that’s all it is, and as I’m not an oligarch readying to empty my accounts and relocate to the Cayman Islands I care about the long-term future of Europe. Is weakening the EU by leaving better or worse for this long-term future? I just read the left wing Varoufakis’ scathing analysis of EU austerity that the right wing Gove recently praised so heartily. I don’t want to be sandwiched between these unlikely bedfellows when I can stay in the sack with Clarkson and the Remain gang. I’m due to give birth at the end of June and I don’t want a Brexit baby. What I want is someone, somewhere, to make the moral case for staying in the EU in its current form*. I want to feel good about my vote. In the meantime I will eat an enviable amount of curry in the hope of going into labour early and avoiding this referendum altogether.*Varoufakis also believes that Brexit will hasten the deterioration of the EU but argues that staying in and fighting to democratise its institutions is the solution to the far right surge. Is this possible? By his own account “And The Weak Suffer What They Must?” it certainly isn’t probable. It’s also unclear how his pan-European Diem 25 movement will benefit by a strengthening of the power bases it aims to transform.

What a great looking pelvis...

Finally I’ve been offered a gig at Glastonbury Festival. I’ve wanted to play Glastonbury forever: even before stand-up, back when I didn’t have anything to play. Desperation like mine is why the triangle was invented and called an instrument. The only sticking point is that I’m due to give birth that week. I pointed out to my better half that Glastonbury is filled with ambulances because loads of people are overdosing but he didn’t look reassured. Even I know that I will spend the entire time peeing in a portaloo regretting the superhuman sense of smell that pregnancy bestows. I can’t do it. It’s only a great anecdote if nothing goes wrong. And things have already started to. I’ve sprained my sacroiliac joints. I didn’t even know I had sacroiliac joints. Two weeks ago I went to bed like the legend that I am and woke up unable to walk. I’ve been advised to keep my legs together. ‘That ship has sailed, doctor,’ I quipped. But my delivery was spoiled by my sobbing and I didn’t get the ovation I deserved. So this is it. A world where the sight of someone strolling easily along the street makes me weep bitter tears of envy. A world where I’m no longer in control of my body, my emotions, or my festival-going priorities. Motherhood: and I haven’t even given birth yet.Generally gig-wise pregnancy has been great. But the tick-tock of change is booming. Even the abortion jokes I’m killing with right now won’t make sense when I pop this sprog and my ripe belly is nothing but an empty sack I’ve had to neatly fold into a pair of corrective post-partum pants. The worst thing is I’m not even miserable about it. I’m happy. And I’m absurdly in love. I know it’s a hormone surge because I’ve read all about it but it feels real. I’m as convinced as a festival-goer high on life, that the world is beautiful, and it’s a joy to be a part of it. The real winner is my husband. He only has to scratch his head and my heart melts: for soon there will be a mini him to confuse with my tidal emotions too. For now, I am stuck in the flat, admiring the people nonchalantly passing beneath my window; as if their pelvic function is something they can take for granted.

Unreasonable? Who, me?

I was welling up with tears recently when my other half said “oh no” as if he was watching a drink someone else had spilled drip into a stranger’s lap. It was a disconnected lament. A here we go. I could see him calculating how long the mess would take to mop up and how much action was expected on his part. Should he contribute a napkin to the cause, or would a sympathetic look suffice. How dare you? I thought. I headed for the bedroom and started to pack.He followed. I pulled a bag from the wardrobe and declared I was leaving. ‘Don’t be silly,’ he said, increasing my resolve. As I tried to work out whether I was leaving for a day, a week, or forever, I noticed his face had cracked. There was no doubt about it. He was trying not to laugh. He sat on the edge of the bed to observe me unravel. I turned back to my packing. Suddenly it occurred to me that I am now so pregnant there was very little to pack. Nothing fits. The dam broke. ‘Nothing fits!’ I cried.‘That’s ok. We’ll buy you some stuff that fits,’ he reassured me.‘But I’m leaving.’ I sobbed. ‘I’ve had enough.’‘Of what?’ he asked. I couldn’t remember.‘Where to?’ he queried. I wasn’t sure.‘How long will you be?’ He pondered wistfully.These were all excellent questions. The thing is, ignoring for a moment that I’m at a stage where I have no idea what’s bothering me, I’m also at an age where I don’t really fancy going anywhere. Certainly not late in the evening, in the rain, without a firm plan in place, or a bottle of vino I can actually drink waiting with someone somewhere for me to drink it. To be honest, I’m not even sure where I’d be welcome.Yes, I have friends, but they now fall into distinct groups: married with kids (in bed already) and single without kids (still out). Of course there are some exceptions hanging out with their new lovers, or taking a night off to read a book perhaps, but I don’t want to doss down on their sofas. Especially when my best friend is sitting right there, on our comfortable bed, asking me what’s the matter, in the warm. ‘I have friends,’ I declared, grabbing a jumper, and a beach towel that could surely come in handy for something. ‘Loads of friends!’ I shouted at some shorts. Finally, he stepped up, and started to unpack my bag, while I gratefully repacked it. Now we’re dancing, and we’re almost done, I realised with relief, while loudly listing all the people that would be thrilled to watch the end of Newsnight with me. Ah, that was it. He’d objected to my talking over the news even though we both know that I always talk over the news. It's one of my most endearing qualities.Since then I have noticed him treading carefully. Even though 98% of the time I am deliriously happy he hasn’t seemed relaxed. During the dangerous 2% his sensitivity has bordered on patronising, and I’m certain the last time I wept he only faked concern about my bad dream – but he was so convincing, I couldn’t critique him. It was five stars.So you can imagine how shocked I was when he openly disagreed with something I said yesterday as if I was my normal self again and he was entitled to an opinion. Such was my surprise the moment went before I had time to react to it. Has the worst passed? Am I rational again? Do I even want to be? I guess only time will tell.

Wishful Thinking

My friend was thrilled to report this morning that she is due a modest tax rebate - to be transferred to her account tomorrow.“What perfect timing!” she exclaimed. She was radiant. Positively post-coital.“Did they email you?” I ventured reluctantly.“Yup.”“And did you give them all your account details?”If J makes a mistake she always sucks in her cheeks and looks ahead quizzically, as if she’s counting sheep, before remembering to look cheery and changing the subject. This morning her ponderous expression lingered. It was mixed with disappointment and still twitched with hope.I told her to pull up the email. It said it was from HMRC but was peppered with spelling errors and an unlikely speech about rebating tax to the honest majority while making sure that the dishonest minority didn’t get away with whatever they were trying to get away with.But how could she have noticed any of that when she was so busy filling out her card details to facilitate a refund?I never understand how these outrageous spam scams find enough fools to function: “you have wun munny”; “get unbending erections”; “he’s away, come ASAP”; “shy neighbour waiting for you.” Maybe I don’t understand because I know two inches isn’t enough to make me a man. Perhaps I’m not vulnerable to this kind of phishing because I haven’t been pining after my shy neighbour. Although now that I think of it, I did have a neighbour once, who was so good-looking he made taking the rubbish out exciting for a year. Perhaps if I had received a “shy neighbour waiting for you” email back then I’d have knocked on his door or sent my bank details to the Ukraine.There’s no doubt that when you’re looking for something anyone can take advantage of you. Because you’ll believe anything. Years ago when I lived in a garret in Paris I came back to London for a few days to catch up with friends. At one party a bohemian read my palm. She was full of praise and positivity. I admit I was pretty pleased that my future looked so promising. Few people could see past the fact I was aimlessly waiting tables mid existential crisis - until now.About a year later I met the same girl again. And I could barely contain my excitement and sceptic cool. Sure I was still waiting tables, but maybe I would soon be doing something else in gay Paris, like mixing cocktails or cleaning toilets. Again she read my palm. This time she was extremely negative. It didn’t bother me. I always think criticism, particularly harsh, personal criticism, is a warm up to a compliment. But she stopped talking. She turned away. She turned back. “I can’t go on with my reading,” she said.I’m not a believer. I don’t believe in hell or damnation. I was never shaken by the Ouija board experiments at school. I boldly step on cracks. Sometimes I recklessly throw salt over my right shoulder instead of my left. But now I was afraid. For the next few weeks after my return I lay on my thin single mattress in my chambre de bonne listening to the broken window bat against the ledge in time to my trembling heart. What could go wrong with my perfect life? What terrible thing had she seen?I was tortured. Full of fear like a Catholic in lust with her brother-in-law. It was nonsense. But I couldn’t help it. Until one day I did. I just decided not to believe in an idea that was making me unhappy. And I was cured. It was as simple as that.Today when I really want something I try and remind myself that I have to make it happen. I am responsible. It’s the only way to avoid the dragnet of those dangerous phishermen. But we are all sometimes vulnerable to a ruse. Maybe I’ve even been offered an improbable tax rebate by email myself.Anyway, J cancelled her card. And I’ve bought her a lottery ticket. Nothing wrong with keeping hope alive.

It's February mate

The plump little man in my local shop is wearing a well-worn Christmas jumper today, its faded front announcing beneath once gaudy baubles that he is ‘Well Hung’. Ew. It’s too late to be wearing a Christmas jumper of course. Profound lapses in taste and judgement are less easily forgiven in February. But whatever the date, it’s never a good idea for your season’s greeting to be, “I’ve got a big dick”. Even pretending for a minute that the desire to purchase such a jumper doesn’t suggest thou doth protest too much; as a rule your clothes are one opportunity to disguise the kind of prick you are. They don’t need to say Bonjour, or More Issues than Vogue, or Geek. People can find out that they don’t like you later, in much the same way that they can wait for an ill-chosen gift, or to discover how little your clothes are concealing.

What the Google?

I have filed my tax return with 9 hours to spare. This is a success, or as George Osborne would describe this kind of wet fart in the Treasury’s favour, 'a massive success'. It’s taken me nearly 10 years to become this efficient and I want to tell everyone about it; but they’re either not interested (because they filed their returns last year) or they’re too busy (filing their returns). Evidently George forgot what side he was on when he announced the £130mn in back taxes wrangled from Google. 'Finally it’s filed', he thought, too exhausted to realise he is at the receiving end of this violent frottage. He’s spent so long lusting after Google’s numbers he’s gone goggle-eyed. Sure it should be £1bn at least but he felt he’d won the lotto, just not on a rollover week. No wonder he couldn’t keep shtum.Other European leaders of course are delighted. It’s the first bit of good news they’ve had in months. They only have to beat George by a smidge to look like they’ve succeeded. And Google can afford to let them, because the benchmark has been set so low, and because it’s so wealthy. And Google is wealthy. I know, because I Googled it. The problem with money is that people that have it want more and more. They want to count it; wear it; fuck it; and float around in it. Look at Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, and his obscene, ugly £114 million yacht that just tore up 80% of the Cayman Islands protected coral reef. ‘He is an environmentalist’, his PR agent has managed to sneak into every account of this ecological travesty. With environmentalists like him, who needs BP?My point is that Google will never have enough money for Google, so we can’t ask for it like it’s a favour, we must take it in accordance with the law. And if there’s a Google-shaped hole in the law, we must close it. Google, and the other big companies we love so much, like Vodafone, Apple and Starbucks, won’t suddenly stop selling in the UK if they have to pay tax because they will still be making billions of pounds. But nor will they pay tax voluntarily, because when you have billions, billions don’t seem like much. Our government can’t do it alone. The Labour party can’t help, because they’re not about to win, so they’re even less relevant to these big companies than national borders. We, the consumer, must pitch in. But have I launched an alternative server, transferred my mobile account or given up my MacBook? No. I have merely used the Starbucks amenities without purchasing a coffee, and I’m not sure anyone noticed. Shame on me. Disgust with Osborne will only help a little. We must give up our Google to make a real difference. Until it costs them more than it saves them, they will continue to avoid paying tax, which chips away at our public services, while paying their minions to tell us how cool they are to work for. A bit like a tycoon with a disgusting yacht that wreaks havoc, who pays his minions to remind us that he cares about the ocean.

Outrageous Cover Ups

In Rome this week Italian masterpieces, including a life size Venus emerging from a bath and a statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback, were covered up in case the sight of a naked woman or a horse’s genitals offended the visiting Iranian President Rouhani. When in Rome do as you would at home, as the saying now goes. Poor old Rouhani can’t catch a break. He neither gets to enjoy a full-bodied Venus nor demonstrate his piety by averting his eyes. And he didn’t even ask for this (apparently). Of course he could have avoided having his photograph taken near a horse’s penis if that was indeed an issue. He has successfully evaded being captured near any women without headscarves. And they are even more common than rudey nudey masterpieces in the Italian capital. Personally, I think the powers that be are taking the piss. Rouhani looks ridiculous requiring a boarded up Venus and a boxed in horse’s penis. This was clearly the plan.On the subject of cover up Joseph Fiennes won’t need much to play Michael Jackson in an upcoming comedy, as “my skin pigmentation is pretty similar to his at the end” he actually said on Entertainment Tonight. But if anyone can make Michael look black it’s you, Joseph. It’s awkward timing. Following dismay that no black actors were nominated for Oscars again this year, various commentators have argued that the real problem is diversity in casting. But then it’s tricky, some explained, when so many biopics of white people are being made, for black actors to find the best parts. So how do you explain a white guy playing Michael Jackson, a black man? Has someone already run with the diversity in casting memo? Will Lupita Nyong’o play Elizabeth Taylor and Idris Elba tackle Marlon Brando? No. It’s being left to poor old Fiennes to show that race doesn’t matter. Only it does. This isn’t Gandhi circa 1983. When white guys won Oscars for playing non-white guys too. It’s 2016. This kind of casting decision makes all pretence of a level playing field absurd. I appreciate that actors find it hard to imagine anyone else playing a part as well as they can. But if casting directors refuse to show some imagination, they are going to have to.

Because I'm Worth It...

I listened to a woman boring the ass off a waitress yesterday with an intimate list of things she didn’t eat, which concluded (triumphantly) with the declaration that she couldn’t eat raw salad. ‘Then why are you in a café?’ the waitress diplomatically resisted asking. I know the answer. She has clearly worn down her friends and enemies and the only people prepared to listen to her gastric musings are now paid members of the public. This is why you should always tip. Somewhere a waitress is listening to your friend discuss the dilemma you know can’t be solved because you can’t bear to. It’s national service.Hairdressers are the only people who enjoy a crisis as much as whoever’s having one. They’re more expensive of course, but then your hair looks great so it’s a quid pro quo. I love the hairdressers and all the perks that come with a cut and blow-dry these days: last month’s magazines, cheap prosecco, and stale pretzels. I still remember 90s hairdressers. The head massage had just been introduced. No one told me. It was a time of mixed emotions. I panicked that the stylist was behaving inappropriately but I couldn’t instruct him to stop because I was already in a grateful stupor.I still associate any kind of beauty treatment with indulgence, no matter how torturous the process or lame the results. These days the nail bar is in its ascendancy. It’s an American idea that I enjoy with a British sense of apology. The last time I had a manicure the beautician chopped my cuticles so vigorously my fingers bled. I didn’t complain of course; I just gritted my teeth. I haven’t given up.This morning I went somewhere new. I was greeted by the only Polish girl in the salon: she looked tired and fed up. Unfortunately her Vietnamese colleague was in high spirits and wouldn’t stop chatting. There was an alarming amount of dead skin on the towel. She plopped some cream on my left hand and plonked it into a dish of warm water. I couldn’t help but notice that lumps of cream were already floating in the misty liquid. ‘It’s dirty water. It’s definitely dirty water. What are you doing?’ is something I didn’t say out loud. I tried to meditate on the dead skin and nail clippings. She moved the bowl and plopped my right hand into the grey soup.Meanwhile, her colleague started singing along to Madonna’s Express Yourself on the radio. ‘Maybe we all know the words to Express Yourself’, I thought bitterly, ‘but we’re trying not to ruin the song for everyone else.’ I cast my mind back to happier experiences but to be honest these things never work out for me. Before my wedding I was gifted a massage that required three weeks of remedial treatment at the osteopath’s. Once I had my eyebrows done at Harvey Nichs. The girl that threaded them didn’t have a left hand. It was very impressive of course, that she could thread one handed and she was awfully nice, but then she offered me a head massage I felt obliged to agree to. We all know I love a head massage. She managed to apply the same pressure with her stump and her hand, yes, indeed she did. But the stump was coated in a nauseating paraffin-based lotion that I can still taste in my mouth three years later.Meanwhile, back in the salon, I have selected the red polish. Most of the team are downstairs on their break when the screaming starts. The Polish girl scowls, the Vietnamese girl smiles apologetically. Finally someone takes control, the screeching subsides and the saviour strides up the stairs. She is balancing a large piece of kitchen towel on the flat of one hand and shielding it with the other. “What is it?” I ask her. None of us are sure she should show me; after some hesitation she peels back the paper to reveal a fat, five-inch slug stretching languorously across her palm. “They’re coming in through the pipes,” she says, “all the time.”What an awful place. I’m booked back in for next week.

Lady Justice needs to put her blindfold back on...

Ul Nasir is a confident bloke. He must be, to have appealed his seven-year sentence for sexually assaulting two children. I’d have kept my head down. His argument is that the sentence was inflated because of his ethnicity. Did no one mention that he could be out in three and a half years for good behaviour? Lock up your kids. Unbelievably, race did come into the judgement. Justice Walker has stated in the Appeal Court that Sally Cahill QC was right to take into account the ethnicity, not of the perpetrator (bad luck Nasir), but of his victims. She believes that because the children are Asian this brings more shame within their community; it might be harder for their fathers to marry them off later - and this is a bad thing.What kind of Kafkaesque hell are we living in that this judgment could be considered ‘right on’? It is so racist and so sexist and has made me so angry I’ve become impossible to live with.So here are my five main problems with the judgment:1) It is racist. It gives a longer sentence directly because of the race of the victim. All children deserve equal protection under the law.2) The argument about culture is invidious and perpetuates two dubious narratives that we need to change; that white children are morally transgressive and promiscuous (an idea exploited in Rotherham), and that Asian children should be shamed by abuse (which could stop victims coming forward).3) In the longer term the judgment suggests that whatever your race or cultural sensibilities you should argue that your religious and social outlook makes your child’s experience more valuable than your neighbour’s.I know plenty of people that profess religious beliefs to wangle their kids a place in the local school; that the same kind of jiggery pokery is the surest way to see your child’s attacker serve more time in prison is repugnant.4) It is sexist. The judgment prioritises the prospects of an arranged marriage over the autonomy, confidence and trust of young girls.5) Finally, it correlates the punishment of the victim with the punishment of the perpetrator (the unhappy own goal of the victim impact statement). We can stamp out shame and punish paedophilia. We do not need to chase a conservative narrative or colour-code our children to achieve fairness.It’s time for Lady Justice to put her blindfold back on. 

Hell hath no fury like a Tory scorned...

Disillusioned Tory billionaire Ashcroft has discovered that money can’t buy you a senior position in government - and now we will all see if it can bring down a Prime Minister. The political strategist has suggested that as a student the PM put his private parts in a pig's head. And he's too rich to sue.The pig scenario as political manoeuvre is an old one: President Lyndon Johnson spread a similar rumour about a rival to see “the son of a bitch deny it”. Denial itself is a humiliating defeat – it recognises that people can picture you doing the deed. It's taken twenty-four hours for opinion to split into those that know Cameron did it (and still hate him) and those that don’t care that he did it (and still hate him). Everyone seems to agree he did something. As the jokes are elaborated so are the theories. Did he teabag a pig’s head, or have sex with a live beast? Pointing out that Cameron wasn’t in the club in question, never mind the meat, is now secondary, politically speaking, to whether he can negotiate Britain’s position in the EU, navigate the migrant crisis, and argue for intervention in Syria, when at any moment an unfriendly oink could crumble his authority.Making an enemy like Ashcroft is another sign of weakness when there is no gulag to banish him to. As for Ashcroft, he can sit back and watch his experiment play out. Even attacks on him personally are a boon. Every time someone argues he's bitter about being excluded from cabinet despite his £8mn donation to the Conservative Party we are all reminded that for his £8mn Ashcroft was offered a junior position – and a knighthood – and his non-dom status was 'missed'. The whole thing stinks.Of course there is no photograph of Cameron with any type of head - but the hint of one is enough to make us wonder if he was in mufti or top hat and tails. I just slapped it with a lamb chop, your Honour. It’s no good: anyone who has seen Charlie Brooker’s satire Black Mirror, or read about public school rites, or military initiation games, thinks it’s the truth. Only Cameron and Ashcroft know that it isn’t - and neither of them will squeal.

Throw yourself under a boot…

I've never had a problem telling idiots to f*** off, so when I see accomplished peers winning their five minutes on the front page of The Guardian with faux outrage, I cringe. There is a huge difference between sex and sexism. Some creepy old dude sending you a creepy old dude’s message on Linkedin invites one of two responses, “blocked” or “when can we meet?” - depending on whether or not you find him attractive. Of course if you are concerned that a fool fancying you smacks of patriarchy and misogyny you can save your limited correspondence for an appropriate moment like Monica Lewinsky saved her cum covered dress: men be warned. But in a different world from Charlotte Proudman's appeal to the bored and the irritated lurk Femen.I never thought much of these topless agitators who burst onto our pages with their tight phrases and their tighter bodies, until this week, when two of them stormed a conference in Paris to protest misogyny in its gravest forms. The women, of Algerian and Tunisian backgrounds respectively, didn't like the question of the day, “is it ok to beat your wives?” and stormed a meeting to declare in French and Arabic that they were masters of their own destiny.Of course apologists have been quick to point out that beating your wives wasn't the only question on the table and one Imam didn't even think it was a good thing… But these pesky militants were having none of it. As I watched men race to physically stamp on these determined women I saw the perfection of this female rebellion: tits and attitude. No guns, no machetes, no bombs - just a rallying cry of freedom. I hear you my sisters. And I am proud to be one of you: even as I recognize that I do not have your vision or your courage. I hope the men that beat you are prosecuted. But even if they're not - you have highlighted the absurdity of inequality so gross we dare not interrogate it; you have countered the darker recesses of an ideology you could have sought refuge in; you have fallen under the jackboot of oppression to raise the eyes of all that refuse to look. I salute you.

Life Goes On…

As I listened to David Miliband dissect his brother’s failures on the news in a eulogy written to offend the faithful, I found myself squawking, ‘he’s not dead David, he’s only in Ibiza!’ But politically dead Ed is; the headstone he commissioned foretold it. Every time I see that headstone I picture David slipping the chisel back into his Bible at the page marked Cain and less-Abel. How a party accused of mismanaging money thought such a terrible waste of it was a selling point is remarkable. But more bizarre is what it had to say. What does “An NHS with time to care” mean? And what was it supposed to mean to an electorate who hopes for an NHS with more cash to spend and ideally less time to queue. This monument to platitudes will be studied alongside Liam Byrne’s suicide note, ‘I’m afraid there is no money – and good luck’ by PR types and politicos until the next round of gaffes. (And no, it doesn’t matter that Maudling apparently left a similar note for his successor Callaghan in 1964. No one remembers him. That’s the nature of politics.) Meanwhile the arts world is seething. Everywhere I look people I respect are damning (other) voters as ignorant, racist degenerates – and that’s just the English ones. Sure there are problems with the electoral system like the relative underrepresentation of UKIP that we’re happily ignoring. But the hyperbole is making me anxious. If people who profess to care about our public services can’t explain the need to protect them in a coherent manner, why should anyone listen? And how long will it be before dismay at the loss of a hospital ward is secondary to the thrill of distressing a luvvie? I was thinking about this last week when I had my foot cleaned and re-bandaged after recent surgery.IMG_3567The nurse was delighted, ‘doesn’t that look great?’ she exclaimed as she wiped the crust off the stitches, ‘what a fantastic job. See how that plaster is keeping the nail in place?’ It looked pretty grim to me but I tried not to whine and thought about the positives. An obvious one being the incredible treatment I have been so grateful to receive. I can see a few positives about this election too - including the huge turnout and the fact that two major political figures took responsibility for their losses and resigned. Even Farage kind of tried to. This was a free and fair election and there’ll be another one before we know it. In the meantime £8bn of additional funds per year has been pledged to the NHS by 2020. Let’s make sure it gets there. Because as these springtime pigeons remind us: life goes on.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 19.35.27