Nobody told me you can’t use toilet paper
Nobody told me that you bleed
Nobody told me you might need a secret place
where you can scream.
It’s a hefty 400 pages of all the diaries and poems and thoughts and feelings I wrote about becoming a parent. All the things I was unsure of, the things nobody told me and the things I didn’t want to talk about to anyone. They weren’t meant to be published, but after all the support I’ve had for poems like ‘Wow‘, ‘Embarrassed‘, ‘Breasts‘, I figured I should just go with this opportunity.
I’m sick of feeling ashamed about things to do with parenthood. About feeling guilty about being bored sometimes, despite the beauty and love of it, about loneliness, about not knowing how I feel about my body as a mum, about trying to be a worker and a parent and a partner, about issues around sex or relationships or feeding or just feeling guilty for everything I do and don’t do well! The more I talk to parents, the more it seems there are a lot of these undercurrents going on.
So this book is full of mine. I hope you enjoy reading it when it’s out. For now, here’s Embarrassed x
I’ll be direct: this is about feeding babies and cash. If you feel like sharing this that would be grand!
Channel 4 have a commissioned a short video of the poem I wrote about feeling embarrassed to breastfeed. To air for World Breastfeeding Week.
The budget is very low. Very very low.
The film company is doing it basically as a favour cos they want the message out there. And one of the guys has a newborn.
I am doing it all for free, three days filming plus all the prep and have given £750 of my own money towards extras travel and any other stuff filming needs. Just so you know, I’m not asking for cash to pay me. I’m unpaid for this and fine with it. None of this money will go to me.
So the film company have set up a Kickstarter. There are 10 days to possibly raise some money to make the film really good. I’ve offered books, signed things, love, affection, praise, gig tickets in return for your hard earned cash.
So if you think you would like to donate, ace. If not, but you can share this page, that’d be ace too. It’d be great to make it happen well.
That’s it. Thanks so much x
After reading four books, three essays, lots of websites and all information at the National Football Museum, Manchester, on the History of Women’s Football, I am more and more fascinated by one seemingly small change in the language of the commentary on matches.
From 1890s to 2015, the players have gone from being ‘girls’ (or in certain media ‘harlots’) and ladies to ladies / sturdy young ladies / unmarried ladies to, more recently, women.
But this change from Ladies – Women seems to really hack some people off still.
When I was at the England / Germany Women’s match at Wembley, someone started talking to me about the England Ladies team and basically how shite they were, saying that they were worse than any men’s professional league teams, ‘even second divisions’.
When I said ‘Yeah I agree, they’re not as good as men’s leagues, the women’s team. But even those who play for the country hardly get paid so are never gonna be able to train a lot, have to have other jobs mostly and women’s football was banned for 50 years by the FA so they have a lot of catching up to do’. The person got that gutteral angry reaction I see when I mention anything to do with women, rather thn just agreeing with a shitty comment. But the reaction was mainly about me using the word ‘women’ when they had said ‘ladies’, as if I was deliberately correcting them:
The reply came roughly:
‘What is so wrong with calling it Ladies Football? What is this obsession you have these days with having to be called bloody ‘women’. Women women women. Why can’t it be ladies anymore’.
As much as it was a bit shit cos I wanted to watch the match and I got pissed off, I find these sorts of reactions so interesting cos:
1) It is not an obsession. Everytime people seem to want some change, you get accused of being obsessed with it as if you do nothing other than sit and get angry and shout at people.
2) What is it that makes the word ‘woman’ so fking aggravating to some people. To lots of people I meet. Way more than the word Man ever has. It’s like it’s a dirty word sometimes. An insult.
3) Why is it not obvious the difference in the tone / idea / reaction / language when you use the word ‘lady’ to describe a player, rather than ‘woman’. Because there is the EXACT equivalent for men. And it makes the exact same difference if you substitute for example:
The Gentlemen’s Cup Final
Gentlemen’s Hockey League
The Gentlemen’s Club Captain
It makes it sound like a bunch of tweed jacketed 19th century Etonites are walking around the pitches smoking pipes. Lady has the same historic connotations, ideas of class etc etc.
It amazes me when people react so violently on things like this
Man / Woman
Gentleman / Lady
It’s not rocket science.
They’re pretty similar comparisons.
Anyways, before I start researching more and trying to write commentaries from various matches through the last 100 years of women’s football, a few of my favourite quotes from some of the reading I’ve done so far, so thought I’d share:
(good books on it:
Tim Tate: Secret History of Women’s Football
Barbara Jacobs: The Dick Kerr’s Ladies)
– from the Pall Mall Gazette, 19th Century, when both women’s football and women being allowed to ride a bike was extremely frowned upon:
“Women may boat, women may ride – they can do so gracefully – but women may not ride a bike or kick a football. These pasttimes are beyond them….She is physically incapable of stretching her legs sufficiently…the smaller a woman’s foot is the prouder she is of it, and very naturally. I dearly love to see her feet come peeping in and out of her skirts, as the poet says ‘like little mice’.
– from the Victorian era, on the ‘publicly debated moral panic’ when middle-class women were attempting to take up cycling.
“ There were two immediate difficulties: The first concerned the obvious dangers of allowing a woman to straddle something. At this stage in the late 19th century ladies were discouraged even as children from sitting on see-saws or riding on hobby horses for fear it would either damage their reproductive organs or promote undesireable sexual pleasure….(on cycling) the results of sitting astride a machine and then leaning forward were too horrible to contemplate….One French expert pronounced firmly that cycling would ruin the ‘female organs of matrimonial necessity’.
And on the class wars of male football 19th century, something I was never aware of at all:
“The England sides selected…were resolutely stuffed with ‘gentlemen’. So much so that when a working class player, Billy Mossforth, from Sheffield, was selected to appear for his country, the rest of the team refused to once pass him the ball.”
Anyhows, just a thought. It’s a very interesting history, the history of football. x
The School Run
This morning I had to fight a very strong urge to ditch work, go to the pub and cry into a pint for three hours.
Sometimes the school run is like that. Sometimes it is totally fine.
But it got me thinking. I do not understand where this idea comes from that those parents or carers who ‘leave employment’ in order to look after kids are losing valuable skills / CV points / job training.
Personally, the task of managing to get a kid who has broken down in tears for a reason I don’t know, gone into a strop, slammed her door and hidden in her bed in protest, taken an hour to brush her teeth – to get her out the door, only be a bit late for school, without losing my temper, raising hands or crying hysterically and lying on the pavement just to cool myself down. To me, that’s a skill.
I think that after only one term of the school run, I feel finally ready to apply for a job as chief ambassador of the UN peacekeeping conflict resolution force.
As stated in article 1 of the UN Charter, the UN was expected ‘to maintain international peace and security,…to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace,…and to bring about by peaceful means…adjustment or settlement of international disputes.
Now, I went to a good school – St Barts Comprehensive, Newbury. I worked geekily hard with a lot of help from family and teachers and got into Cambridge University to study languages. I worked in a nightclub and a shop to pay for a part time MSc in Development Studies with Economics at the School of Oriental and Africa Studies in London. I read lots of papers and studies about international conflict.
None of those qualifications made me feel capable of applying for the kind of job I wanted. Doing the school run without losing my temper, maybe yes.
In fact, I feel that the new skills I have now acquired should be a mandatory part of any application for a UN or government position which requires any sort of negotiation or discussion with other people
-Hello, please come in. Which position are you applying for?
Er, Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission
-And why do you feel qualified for this job?
Well, I graduated from Eton and have a first class degree in politics from Oxford University, a PHD in conflict and international peacekeeping and I have been on an unpaid internship for an international charity for the last three years, as well as having experience in my fathers department of the World Bank
-Ok, fine. Are you a parent or guardian of a child?
-Have you ever spent at least three full days and nights as the sole carer of a child (or other person in need)
– Have you ever had a baby’s poo spurt up your arms while changing a nappy and still carried on saying ‘goo goo’ and smiling?
-Have you ever had to get a child dressed and out the house, been able to keep your cool and react calmly and peacefully under the intense pressure of tantrums and crying and screams and then stand on the pavement as other people walk past you, smiling to them red-faced whilst your child lies on the floor screaming ‘go away, I’m never speaking to you again’ and refuses to move. Without crying or screaming yourself?
Have you ever had to settle a dispute with a child or group of children without resorting to fist banging, shouting rara mr speaker, raising your voice or laughing in a pompus, arrogant manner at them
Ok, thank you. We’ll let you know. We were really looking for someone who has school runs skills. Primary teaching might work too.