Kitty’s Adventures at Torture Garden

Fucked It Fans, my apologies for the wait. I’ve been busy doing life things, changing careers really soaks up your time, especially when you’d been just sitting at a desk for a year! BUT the wait is over. I did a fun thing.

Wandering around in a corset, frilly knickers and a pair of heels is something I have always wanted to do. Something which I wholeheartedly imagined would happen within the bonds of a relationship(HA!) , not within the leather bonds of some sort of modern take on a  Berkley Horse (google it) while a crowd of twenty strangers clad in latex offer up words of sexually charged encouragement. But that’s what happens when you buy tickets to a Fetish Night called Torture Garden. In my quest to rid my mind of past conquests and focus on a more egocentric future, I took up a friend’s invitation to be spanked, and it was fucking brilliant.

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Arriving at Electrowerks, I was pleased to watch a group of seven or eight swaying men clutching bags emblazoned with the words “Fancy Dress Shop” being turned away by a plump girl wearing a latex pencil skirt and nipple tassels with the words “This is not a fancy dress party”. Having spent an hour or so frantically squeezing myself into lingerie in the fairly public changing areas of Camden Market, I was armed with a cream corset and was taking no prisoners. This is one thing the patrons of TG don’t fuck with. You follow the dress code. Leather penis pouches, bridles, duct tape and nothing at all are accepted, but you turn up with anything polyester, you’re gone. Inside, the balmy lighting and soft thud of familiar house music created an atmosphere of possibility, a tranquil oasis of sexual opportunity where to be present was to obtain a unique worldliness, unknown to the “Vanillas” drunkenly roaming the streets beyond. The eyes that watched us enter and pass by followed us without scorn, without a hint of haughty derision, but rather a knowing look that told us, “Welcome to the fun house”.

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The first thing I noticed, besides all the latex, leather and PVC was the diversity in the place. Three floors filled with every kind of person you can imagine. Curvy, emaciated, bald, old, young, gay, straight and everything in between I met a woman dressed in full PVC gimp complete with pigtails who claimed to be in her sixties! Damn Mama! And the energy in the place was electric, everyone talking and laughing, “what are you into”, “have you ever…”. And when my corset started slipping, I literally had five people offer to help! There was very much a “We welcome you with open arms for being brave enough to try this” vibe going on. And I’ve got to say, since my trip amongst the whips and chains and restrictive outfits, I have looked upon the world in a different, slightly pervier light. I now look at my neighbors and colleagues and think, whats your thing? What do you like? It was truly a trip out of reality, I was Alice, I’d fallen down the Rabbit Hole and now the Mad Hatter was Fingering the Red Queen in the corner while she spanked the Cheshire Cat. Also, and I’ll be totally candid here for a change (ha), I really thought that the night would be filled with weirdos and perverts, people rubbing their erection against you without so much as a “How do you do”. But there was a polite humanism that ran through the night, a respect that radiated out of every person there, dick in hand or not, and I felt genuinely safe.

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One of the most revealing conversations I had all night was with a man who had come out in drag for the first time. Something which I have always had an enormous respect for is the idea that a man, after months, maybe even years of pleading with himself, finally finds the courage to go out in a dress for the first time. That takes some balls. George (the draglet) was wearing full female garb complete with false eyelashes and heels, but forewent the wig, saying he thought it would have been too much. His girlfriend had wanted to be there that night to support him, but had a thesis on the normalisation of recreational drugs for her MA in criminology due. Amazing.  Some of my most amazing sights of the night included a couple dressed as a pair of Lindt Bunnies (complete with full gold bodypaint) a six-foot bald black dude wearing 7 inch stilettos ON COBBLES and two men wearing feather headdresses and dressed in leather harnesses with special penis holders, for their special penises. Amazing. It’s incredible how quickly you lose your inhibitions when everyone around you is either naked or getting that way.

My one bad memory is speaking to a middle-aged couple, the lady wearing a corset that made it look like she was smuggling two bald guys into the joint, the man wearing leather trousers holding a lead that was attached to his companion via the medium or a leather collar. They joined me at the bar and struck up a conversation regarding my headpiece (a bespoke piece by Twinks Burnett) and bought me a huge rum and coke. We were happily nattering away about how our evening was going, had I caught the self-bondage show (yes, I had, it was ridiculous) had they been to the medical themed room with all the creepy amputee mannequins watching people wank each other off (oh, there was lots of that). The woman laughed and, though I was standing half a foot away, I caught the strong smell of what I can only describe as ‘Cock Breath’. Such a lovely couple too.

At the core of it, TG is a place to be accepted, stripped (literally in some cases) of your outer shell there is nowhere to hide. No one to pretend to be anything else to. You don’t have to suck in your gut or wear enough makeup to make a drag queen blush (except if you actually are a drag queen obvy) It’s a place to be open and completely honest about yourself. It’s hard to lie when you’re standing half-naked in a room full of people who have literally just watched your ass get smacked with a flail. Somewhere in the cacophony of sound, made up of the slap of leather against skin and bamboo against skin and skin against skin, was a low rumble. A vibrating excitement which reverberated off of every body in the room, filling our minds with visions of the last days of Rome. Here there was no judgement, there were no ‘players’ no ‘sluts’, just people openly and honestly engaging in adult playtime, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before or since. As I wondered around the dimly lit rooms of London’s Premiere Playground with my modelesque friend, all 13 stone of me felt sexy, not because everyone was staring at me, but because no one was. There I was thinking how brave I was being, how brash, how incredibly daring. It turns out you don’t have to be confident in your body to go out in a corset, frilly knickers and heels; that’s how you gain confidence in the first place.

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Talk.

Ok, so here’s a thing. Depression is the number one most diagnosed mental disorder in the UK with about a quarter of the population experiencing it in the course of a year. Think of four people you know. Odds are one of them is experiencing a weird kind of pain that you have no idea about, or maybe you do know and you have no idea how to help. Maybe you’re the one in four. I am. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mark Twain said “write what you know”. So I will.  Since December 2010 my mind has been playing nasty tricks on me, making me feel things harder, think things through badly.

 

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Its not about being sad. Its not about crying. Its about guilt and self loathing.  Its about the cycle of doom which is going round and round in your mind without you realizing it. Its about cutting yourself off and being alone in something because you don’t want to burden other people with your stupid brain issues. Its about assuming the roles of other people in your mind as you put words into their imaginary mouths. Its about going to parties and feeling invisible. Its about how five minutes feels like an eternity in a room full of people where you’ve somehow never felt more alone.  Its about doing nothing. Not bothering to get out of bed. Not looking after yourself. Punishing yourself for not being better than you are. Not being as good as other people. But who told you that? You did.

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Depression is a master of disguise. I’m often the loudest in the room. The most boisterous. I command. I attention seek. I laugh and I make jokes and I have a good time. But there’s always a part of me, even when I’m with my closest friends, that feels out of place. Like somehow I shouldn’t be there and it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t. That its probably what everyone wants anyway. Someone who suffers or has suffered depression on any level can instantly recognize it in others  because its like looking in a damn mirror. Your own pain reflected back at you. We know man. We get it. But what about the people that don’t? The partners, the parents, the friends? The people that worry on the outside of the glass house but can’t find the door to get inside. The people who have an entire toolbox but not a single thing that they can use to help. Help. Get help? How can I help?  Cheer up. Fuck, look at that I’m cured. They feel useless. You feel useless. We all scream for ice cream.

 

Let’s take a moment to think about the suffering of non-sufferers. Watching someone you know dig themselves a pit to curl up and hide in and standing on the lip looking down is terrifying. Its as though you’re both stumbling about in heavy fog, both trying to find a way to each other and a way out.  Missing the tip of their fingers by a hair as you reach out to help in any way you can. Its watching them sink in quicksand and beginning to sink yourself. Its the empty void swallowing you both. Its arguing and fighting. For us its rage that we feel for ourselves  projected on the ones closest to us because we don’t know what else to do. We push you further and further away bringing you closer to the edge of the pit. You are our punchbag. Our pillow fort. You are the only good thing we have and we don’t deserve you. We’re so sorry. We don’t know how to change our behavior yet. We know you don’t have the answers. We know its hard for you too. Separate us from the illness. We aren’t one in the same. Depression is selfish and nasty. Depression shuts you out and keeps us isolated. We need you more than we can ever articulate. Please don’t give up on us.

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So, what do we do? What is the answer? Medication? It helps. For real, it helps. The feeling of anti-depressants creates is best described as “Everything still sucks but it doesn’t matter as much”. You don’t go numb. You don’t suddenly walk out the door with your own theme tune playing in your head to be greeted by the mental equivalent of a sunny day. There are down sides though. I find I can’t really get drunk on them. Ever. Bad idea. My body tends to eventually just reject all the booze in my system at once. Which is horrendous. There’s the fact that if you accidentally stop taking them, you will crash and have a meltdown. Frighten your mum, worry your friends and set yourself back a few months. There’s the fact that they become kind of a crutch. I know I need them. I know that if I don’t take them I won’t work properly. But I do have the answer.

 

Talk. Own your madness. Know that its ok to not be ok. That your friends want to know if you’re feeling low. That it won’t be easy, but that there’s a major difference between actually having no one and choosing not to see the people closest to you as your shield in the fight. Show your weakness and let that in itself show you your own strength. Know that depression is not emotional weakness. Know that your loved ones want to understand, and the only way they can is if you explain. Own how you feel. Focus on you now and make the decision to care enough about yourself to get better. Reach out in the dark and finally find the hand that’s always reaching back.

 

Should I be freaking out?

Thanksgiving is not something I have ever celebrated, being from the UK it isn’t a tradition I was brought up on. However, this year I was invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with some family. Sitting at the table was an ex Investment Banker, the Director of a successful Advertising Company, a Children’s Theatre Manager, an Events Manager, a medical student about to receive his Doctorate and me… a receptionist and the youngest in the room by only a matter of months. Throughout the meal a thick helping of loaded questions was sprinkled upon me, the sum of which  was: “what are you doing with your life?”  I feel as though its a horrible question that people are asked only at the times of their lives when it is obvious that they don’t know what they’re doing. From my online ramblings alone, I think it is pretty clear that this has been a tumultuous year for this somewhat sporadic writer. And I ask myself this same question pretty much every day…”What are you doing with your life?” Honestly, I don’t know. I sit in an office in central London, working with perfectly nice people, in a perfectly nice job feeling perfectly unsatisfied. A bit like being in the gilded cage, its all very nice but its not enough. This weekend, I met up with the girls I used to live with at University. Of the 6 of us, 5 were living at home, and working in the gilded cage, trainee lawyers who worked their arses off for three years back in offices and retail outlets because that’s how you have to do it to get a trainee-ship. I’m told that we are supposed to get ourselves on the job ladder, to seek work from work. But how is that possible when you don’t know what you’re doing now, let alone what you want to do for the rest of your life.

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It’s a shock spending 4 years away from home living what you thought was ‘independently’, using your student loan to buy food and pay rent, using money from a part time job to get yourself drunk on the days where you should have been working, then moving back home. I am one of the lucky ones; I live at home and I have an amazing relationship with my ma and her man, we eat dinner together every night, we have breakfast together on weekends. So for me, the pull of ‘independence’ is not so strong what with the lack of rent to pay and the constant feeling of support. In truth, I know that the only way for me to find me impetus to move would be to find my dream job somewhere I couldn’t get to from home in less than an hour by train. Very few of my friends have moved out of home, and those who have are paying though the nose for rent and bills. At the end of my working month, less than a grand goes  into my bank account. I am staying put until its at least a grand and a half. A lot of the time it is easy to get my head down at work, binge watch a series on an internet TV site and not think about the future. Other times, like Thanksgiving, I begin to freak out asking myself endless unanswerable questions; have I wasted my degree and gotten myself into over 10k’s worth of debt to sit in reception all day doing nothing? Was doing a drama degree a terrible mistake? Was my father right to unsuccessfully try to dissuade me for all those years? I felt, after this meal last week, about an inch tall. I was useless, going nowhere, I had no wish to act anymore because I dislike the attitude of young actors, I had no qualifications to get myself a job which I could potentially do well in. What I do have is my ma. I have my mates. I have a support network that will never fail me. Even if I feel I am failing myself.

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I have a friend who is an actor. He has gotten pretty constant work from when he left uni to the present (he’s currently touring with a show!) We had the most brutally honest conversation the other day over a glass of red wine in a virtually empty pub in North London. We came to this conclusion: everyone is struggling in some way or another. Whether its the problem of making ends meet and paying rent, whether its finding a job that makes you happy so that scraping by doesn’t matter so much, whether its freaking out because the idea of getting yourself a mortgage and paying real bills every month. Everyone of my generation, bar those who managed to sort themselves out (hats off), is freaking out a little. It seems as though we have to settle in one part of our lives, if we want a good job which pays well, we have to let go of our passion. If we follow our passion we wave a tearful farewell to financial security and what my friend described as comfort. Comfort comes in many forms, whether its treating yourself to a solo Wagamama’s at the end of a brutal day of envelope stuffing or receiving a drawn out hug from a parent. Comfort is one of those little things that can make everything ok, and put you in the frame of mind that says “Life is not so bad”.  So when comforts are few and far between, when pressure from sources out of your control gets too much, when you are unhappy at work, what do you do? Make time.

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It might be the spirit of the holiday season which is forced upon us like acid rain, but I honestly feel as though making time to see friends and family around this time of year is worth its weight in wine. And gold. And gin. And cheese. In all seriousness though, when you feel as though you are drowning in your worries, that you’ll be alone forever and die alone only to be eaten by Alsatians, that you’ll never pay this month’s rent on time, that you’ll be eating tinned beans until March, that you getting a promotion is about as likely as unicorn orgies; just find some time to spend with your loved ones. Talk things out, be honest. The less you talk about what’s worrying you, the more gravity you give it. Everyone is freaking out. Its only natural that you are too.

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Girls…Please

Many moons ago, in my first year of uni, I was all about the heels and the dresses. Night after night I would go out dressed to the nines, wearing heels that made me look like an unsteady baby giraffe and more make up than you could shake a packet of face wipes at, only to inevitably come home, shoes in one hand, wadge of toilet roll in the other desperately trying to mop up the tequila and shame from my skirt. These nights out were a meat market, a cat walk without the glamour, during which time the sole aim was to be considered ‘fit’ by the dribbling masses slurring into their jagerbombs and forgetting your name every ten seconds. I shiver now when I think of the money I spent on these dresses, the time I wasted convincing myself that I would totally wear those heels all the time and the smiles and fake laughs I wasted on those mugs in the smoking area who didn’t give a fuck what your favorite Kubrick film was as long as they could tongue you.  I remember the significance those nights out had, how important it was to look good, to look like everyone else, to dare to wear the tiniest skirt, the highest heels, to pull off that quiff and why? Because it gave you some sense of self, some evidence that you exist in the eyes of others, and you know, since I stopped giving a shit, more people have been interested in talking to me. Gone is the girl who would get too drunk smile and laugh and play along, she has long since been replaced with a more superior model; the girl who is quicker than you, funnier than you and can take an insult better than you. Beware, females, your doe lashes and hair extensions will only take you so far, but what happens when they come off and all you have is you, and you’ve forgotten how.

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As I take the final pull on my cigarette before extinguishing it against the side of TGI Fridays, I see the hoards of girls begin to flock by in a milee of tiny skirts, huge coifs and heels that could kill a man. Inside ten female traipse in, each wearing heels and dresses that would make a drag queen blush. There is a sense of competition in the air as she who dares will surely be carried off over the shoulder of some hulking rugby player who has replaced his brains with biceps and foregone having a neck in favor of having pecks like dinner plates. This competition is at the centre of it all, the push up bras, the heels, the holding in tights, the false eyelashes, the mesh skirts, the see-through tops. I saw a girl wearing a white pencil skirt which was all but see-through throw shade at this girl for wearing a tiny black dress displaying both T and A. Hilarious, pot kettle slut! This is it though, these girls are going out dressed like they’re going to some horrendous TOWIE party, they work all week in jobs they hate, developing no real interests or hobbies focusing everything they are on how they look, the clothes they wear, the next color to dye their hair and literally living for the two nights a week they can put on a costume and pretend to be like the people they see on these horrendous shows (The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, The Valleys) when these people do fuck all with their lives. Oh look, Kim Kardashian posted another selfie online, why? Because she has no fucking life, she spends money, she has her picture taken and she goes home wondering why she still feels empty inside even though there is a generation of girls coming who want to be just like her. Forget Ellen Page and Michelle Obama because Jordan just released another autobiography about her life, oh, Emma Watson did a nice speech at the UN, that’s cute but look Rita Ora just dyed her hair pink, I wonder if  I could pull that off.

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Meanwhile, in my leggings and t shirt I tuck into a burger the size of my head, having already tucked into two starters waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I have no shame. We all meet for dinner and head our separate ways to get ready for our friends’ birthday night out, for some this means taking out the rollers they wore at dinner, applying fake tan and picking one of the ten dresses they brought to wear. For me it meant having a shower, sticking me face on (and attempting contouring) and pulling on my jeans and top. Boom. Low maintenance. Ready. I even have time to roll a joint which I will share with the only guy in the group before we brave the land of spanx and blisters.

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As we head out, most are already drunk, girls walking around looking like Bambi on ice in heels that will doubtless be worn for an hour to deliver maximum effect when strutting into that first bar, to show in the split second that less than half the eyes in the place will be on you, that you take care of yourself, you make an effort, you’re a hottie.  Meanwhile, yours truly draws looks all night wearing black jeans, doc martens and a  nondescript black strap top. How upsetting for those who spent hours on their hair and make up to be ignored in favour for she who made the most minimal effort possible, and isn’t even remotely drunk when she cracks out her best grunge dance moves (all knees and face). I should point out now that it is not everyone’s fault that they are so drunk, the drinks in Swansea are hilariously cheap, at one bar I got a sizable cocktail for £6, a tequila for £2 and a Disaronno Cranberry for £3, so its no surprise that at one point I see a woman in a pencil skirt cuffed and escorted by police still holding her stilettos.  Also, tits. Tits everywhere in Swansea, little tits shown off with a plunging neckline in a backless number, tits propped up by so much foam they’re popping out of the tops these girls shouldn’t even bother to wear and the sheer amount of fake tits about was staggering. The rest of the night was harmonious, we kept to ourselves, danced like we were the Supremes, Michael Jackson and Beyonce all rolled into one. One of the girls in heels disappeared and returned triumphant and smug in flip flops and I have never been so proud.  It was traumatic for me to be confronted with the types of people I thought ceased to exist after 2009, but I feel secure in the knowledge that eventually they will go, fuck this, catapult their spanx out the window and opt for something comfy and let themselves be themselves rather than the girl who’s face they put on to go out in.

 

Power and Passion

Today there is a worldwide lemon shortage as I have apparently eaten them all. Such bitterness has not been experienced since Megan Fox had hundreds of  thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery done only to have her toe-thumbs pointed out (seriously, Google it) . Love and hate are twin emotions, both felt with a fiery passion which is hard to extinguish once the embers are crackling to life. One could argue that the difference betwixt the two are simple, one is positive, the other negative. We are supposed to associate love with romance, warmth, puppies and kittens, toasting with champagne and generally being really quite smug. Hate is the badlands, the shadows, lurking alone scowling and nothing filling the void. However, each can be as brutal as its brother. Love can put a sharper edge on the twisting knife just as hate can make you feel power and accomplishment. Love lifts us up where we belong but hate sends us into orbit. Both can send us spinning us out of control until we slow down enough to enjoy the view with which we have been presented. Yes, glorious perspective. Given the impetus for today’s post, I will focus on hate, with the promise that if I ever experience smugness of the romantic sort I will create a post full of puppies and kittens and feelings and sweetness. But that is not for now.

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What, I hear you cry, has happened to send your blood boiling to this extent? What chaos has erupted into your life, miss salt, to make you unleash the beast? I’ll let you think about it for a second or two…..can you guess what it is yet? Ahhhh yes what else could it possibly be.  For a few months now I have been battling a ghost, something not quite there, but who is the vengeful spirit now?! Me… I am.  I have spent time with G (for Ghost) fewer times as I can count on both hands, and yet my mind has given him such power as the spirits themselves possess. Lurking in corners and disappearing from view when looked upon directly. There is nothing supernatural at work here, no measurable powers of charm, persuasion or seduction, there is only the smokey air of vague. I gave him undeserved weight, status and purpose in my stupid mind clouded by a pretty face and cracking blue eyes. And an accent. The journey of blogging began with him because I let myself feel. Well, lesson learnt, there is to be no more of that nonsense.

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The best thing about being on the other side of the fairground ghost train is knowing it’s not real. Knowing its cogs, bells and whistles. Seeing the horror house actors underneath the makeup and wigs and knowing that the fear comes mostly from you imagining what isn’t there. The same is true of whatever I have let myself feel, reading warmth into an icy blast, making allowances, omitting and adding details, essentially creating a person who doesn’t exist out of the good bits you find. And so Frankinstein’s Monster is given life by its creator and allowed to blunder about in my mind for weeks on end, trampling everything in its path. But in my version the monster doesn’t develop a sense of duty to those around it. It just ceases to be. Hate helps,like a torch in the dark it picks out pieces of Lego and upturned plugs on the floor wishing to cause us harm in the night. Nothing can hide from hate, nothing fogs its crystal clear focus.  It is not the nasty dark power people think it is,it is the last knife in the drawer when it comes to self-preservation. Hatred is both sword and shield, aggressor and protector. It gives a sense of purpose, an outlet for excess emotions, recently evolved from something softer and less able to protect itself. Where many of us are left in a state of dribbling confusion, unsure of what to do with ourselves when mere thoughts sting, we can use hate. Give your weakness strength; transform those fragile butterflies into iron dragonflies. Shed your exhausted and tear-stained skin and step out clothed in glorious hate, the smoldering embers in your eyes the only clue as to the depth of your true feelings. Some may say that promoting hate is a bad thing. I am promoting the kind of hate that you feel but never act on, it gives you a charge, an electricity that surges through your veins, speeding up synapses, reminding you what you’ve been through so you are not taken in again. I’m preaching power with a sustainable source, you don’t need to feel weak, no more tears only clenched fists and a source of power that will never run dry, after all, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

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Posers, Musclemen and Heroes

Lets face it, the only time we tend to smile at the gym is when our workout is over or when we have managed to smuggle out a fart without anyone noticing. Ah yes, that glorious moment when we finish that last set, wipe our faces and machines respectively and skip over to the changing room to see exactly how haggard we have made ourselves look.  One thing, however, which is making my whole gym experience a little more bearable is the presence of FPT (Fit Personal Trainer) FPT is 45, bald with rugged dirty blonde super manly stubble and a stomach you could grate cheese on (this last i know through very minor Facebook stalk). My general demeanor in life is not that of a shrinking violet (as those who have read my previous ramblings will know all too well) and at the gym I am no different. When something hurts, I give FPT verbal hell like I’m in labor with his child. The other day I was using a hard foam roller to stretch out my hamstrings (which essentially involves oscillating up and down on it starting at your ‘pockets’/ vageene). So there I am, essentially dry humping this roller, when suddenly i hit a nerve and freeze mid-thrust and utter everything under the sun between gritted teeth.

I shit you not, this is what I was doing

I shit you not, this is what I was doing

It’s amazing how quickly you stop giving a shit about wandering around semi naked in there as well. I tend to strip off and saunter over to the showers in the nuddy so I can see if the last half an hour of pain has paid off yet. It hasn’t. Gympatience strikes again. Whats also fairly amusing is the rate at which you grow accustomed to conversations with strangers when one or both of you has their tits out. Its pretty rad, we are all girls here and its great not having to awkwardly fumble to keep them covered when you’re trying to get your bra on.  The other day I had literally just stepped out of the shower and opened my locker when the gym’s receptionist came in for a casual chat. Allow me to elaborate; it was her last shift and it was pretty quiet, as it tends to be when I’m there, and she came in to check the changing room, found me in there,  and decided to stay for a chinwag. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really not shy when it comes to my body (insert reference to Lena Dunham here) and it was only when she gesticulated at her own nipples,  smiled wide and said ‘I love those’ that I remembered that mine are special. They are pierced, straight silver bars. Yes they hurt, you have a needle shoved through one of the most sensitive parts of your body. But its one hell of a show stopper when people first catch a glimpse.

 

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Let me assure you all, I have NEVER been a gym-bunny. In fact, back in the days when I was basically eating all of my feelings and then some, I spent much time scorning those who voluntarily put themselves through the undeniable torture than is willingly moving at anything other than regular walking pace. I recently realized that when I go do some exercise I go through the Kubler-Ross model; first comes denial (this isn’t going to be that bad, I’ll be fine) , then its anger (fuck me ow ow ow), followed by bargaining (OK I’ll do three more sets and then I’ll stop), depression (oh god, will the pain never end) and finally acceptance (fuck yeah, I can do this!) I tell you its an emotional roller-coaster three times a week for everyone there. Don’t get me wrong, there are still those people in the gym who you look at and go “please, God, just fuck off”; like the forty-something bloke in the tight vest top who seems to think he has more bulging muscle than bulging belly. Or the girl wearing a crop top and power walking at a feeble pace for 5 minutes then making a big show of mopping her brow (note the orange smudge on the blue paper towel),  taking a huge gulp from her pink gym bottle before she retires to the yoga mats where she spends the remainder of her ‘workout’ working out how best to stretch in order that the whole place can trace the outline of her thong through her tiny shorts. Whore. If you are not a red sweaty foul beast by the time you’re done, you are being a huge pussy. If you walk down the stairs with ease and saunter casually into the changing rooms, you are faking all of this gymness. You are a poser. We do not wear makeup for a workout. If we do, it gets everywhere, you sweat it all off, you clog your pores and end up looking like a pizza later on in the week. Not worth it. No one is there to look pretty while they put their bodies through hell.

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But hidden amongst the posers and the limp-wristed wannabes, the overly muscular and very vocal lifters are those hidden gems, like this lady I see there every time I go, who has to be in her 60s, who absolutely kills it on the rowing machine for forty mins, or the balding guy who runs along beside me on the treadmill listening to old school rock which I can hear him quietly singing along to. Even I have become my own hero, I force myself over there thrice a week, obviously the promise of half an hour sweaty and breathless with FPT helps. I even got an email telling me I was in the top 15% of users at my particular gym. MENTAL. Thus concludes today’s ramblings.

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My Preciouses

Oh my god it is beautiful. It is the most glorious thing I have ever seen in my life, I need it to complete my soul and cement my happiness… this bag shall rule over all of the other bags. Turquoise leather with a large leopard print pony skin panel and a removable strap made of chain and leather, it is truly a thing of substantial caliber. My heart race increases as I click on it, choosing it alone  from among the ranks of  lowly polyester blended tat, all neatly presented in tile formation across my screen. It has become clear to me by now that this gorgeous little piece would go with anything, smart, casual, fancy dress it would go, I just know it. My palms perspire as I click the add to bag button… the items in there have a total cost of £177. A dress with a thick petticoat layer in a neon tribal print at £98 tops the list, a moment of weakness…deleted. A Boy London T-shirt at £49….gone. All that remains is you, sweet bag, you alone are destined for a place in my life.  You alone have been chosen to join my celestial collection of eclectic accessories; the illustrious holographic clutch, the renowned Vintage Mulberry, the splendid silver glittery round shoulder bag and the ridiculous menagerie of enormous earrings. For all of them I fought to resist, fought to remain abstinent from shopping, spending, going on a…..a spree.

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Two words that will get us more worked up than finding an oiled up Channing Tatum waiting for us in the shower are “Shopping Spree”. Our pupils dilate, we take a shallow, faltering breath, we grip the edges of our laptops and think of England as we prepare to hit that “Pay Now Securely” button and ready ourselves for our ecstasy comes to an exultant climax. But there’s a problem… its slap bang in the middle of the month..and you are, once more, poor as shit til pay day. Alas, the collection you have built up in that online shopping basket over the last hour or so cannot be yours. After all you had that night out at the weekend, you bought that book that you probably won’t have time to read, that lunch last week when you forgot to prepare anything at home, not to mention your Gym Membership and Phone Contract. God damn our incredible ability to spend faster than we save.  But its so EASY, you click a little button here, tick a box there and two passwords later you’ve spent £45 on a pair of novelty sunglasses with flamingos on them, a T-Shirt featuring a cat pun and a scarf you don’t actually even like that much. I mean obviously we all forget our passwords here and there and end up having to use CAPS LOCK, symbols, numbers, the Deathly Hallows and the One Ring to create a new one. Now, as much as this is a total ball-ache, it does often somehow manage to deter me from my spending habits, slowing down the depletion of my bank balance to a rate I can almost keep up with. But there are times when you will find something in particular, be it a book, a dress, a rare original DC Print of Jennifer Walters mid-transformation (She-Hulk for you non-nerds out there), you end up like Gollum, rubbing your hands together, eyes like saucers whispering “I must have the precious” to yourself over and over again. Sure, every few seconds you will come to and realize that you have none of the money, and should probably ignore this absolute diamond for the sake of your future self who will want a beautiful pair of limited edition Irregular Choice Sequinned Kitten heels instead.

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So you force yourself to forget. It’s almost like a breakup because you had your sights set on a beautiful future with your precious, you could see the photos together, the holidays you could go on, the compliments you would receive from envious party-goers. Due to internet ‘cookies’, you’ll see them everywhere you go, on the Facebook Sidebar, in the ads when you are trying to stream the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ on your preferred pirating website (no judgement here, we all do it). Its painful seeing them out there in public as though nothing has changed between you, acting nonchalant when all you want is to scoop them up into your open arms and never let them go. You clear your cookies, and your internet history for good measure. ‘Just forget about it’, your mind says, but your heart can’t let go just yet. You find yourself creeping back to ASOS.com just for a look, just to see if the price has dropped, whether there are any left in stock. Of  course there they are, looking as glamorous as ever, surrounded by their mediocre friends who make them look even better than before.  Eventually the memories fade, and life moves on, you find yourself taking joy in all things free; walks in the park, sunshine and birdsong, dinner with friends. One fateful day you brave checking your bank balance and find a TRIPLE DIGIT for the first time in weeks, and all hell is about to break lose. You have no option… you …. must… SPEND.

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So you make a day of it. You pick Saturday (just like everyone else) to go out armed with your smallest shoulder bag (room for key, phone, card and fags only), flat shoes and sharpened elbows ready to give a bitch a black eye if she even touches that clutch bag before you get there. You arrive in your local town center and one of two things will happen. Either you will go out and all your shopping dreams will come true, you will find endless bargains, that vintage shop will have a 1950s velvet prom dress made for you, there will be a sale on at Topshop and only YOUR size is left and you will get so many taster samples of food that you skip lunch and spend the money on shoes. Alternatively nothing will fit and the one thing that does is a totally ludicrous neon orange neoprene playsuit with scuba zip detailing which you would probably buy, wear once and regret it so much you donate it to a local charity shop where some crazy old lady will buy it and wear it in the streets with her pink dyed hair and her enormous 90s platform trainers asking for spare change to feed her thousands of cats. There is no rhyme or reason to a bad shopping day, but it can happen to the best of us, just remember, with that failure comes the promise of a better run next time, with double the budget (YAAAAY). People may say that society is becoming increasingly materialistic, and honestly I’m inclined to agree. As Carrie Bradshaw once said “I like my money right where I can see it… Hanging in my closet”.     It is true that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you lots and lots of shoes and bags and shit, and that’s a good start.

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One Night Stands

Its coming, the weather is hotting up, the skirts are getting shorter, the tops are getting plungier and the hedonistic nature in all of us is effervescing away beneath the surface waiting to burst forth in a wave of skin revealing revelry. Summer. The time of year where the youth of the day return to a primordial state where the smell of sunscreen, sweat and hair products propels the masses into a frenzy of sloppy tonguing sessions and even sloppier sex. We abandon ourselves to our baser instincts, summer is prime time for one night stands and I am here to tell you the DO’s and DON’Ts of this oh so special of occasions.

First things first, if you don’t use a condom when bonking a stranger, you are essentially a vile slut who doesn’t care if she catches every STD under the sun. This goes for boys and girls, for both are sluts equally. Do not skip the rubber, you don’t know where Mr P has been, and you don’t know who has been visiting Mrs V, so why risk it. Better than to have to momentarily pause proceedings than have to call ever one of your sexual partners and explain that due to your foul sexual discrepancies, you may have given them herpes. The rule is essentially, if your partner doesn’t suggest the use of any sort of protection with you, the odds are they don’t use it with anyone. Bail.condom1

 

Now, the fun bits. One night stands are the perfect opportunity to try those weird sex tips your read in  magazines, or to try that thing you’ve always wanted to. For example, in my final year of uni, my sluttish behavior was at an all time high, I had a fire escape outside my room, which my bedroom window opened onto. I called it the balcony and it was a happening place. I therefore made it my mission to get laid on there at least once. And I did, with a total random, who was JUST terrible. Which brings me to do number two; always bring them back to yours. This means you have control of when your conquest vacates the premises; fire escape guy wanted to stay and cuddle (something I will literally never understand) so I had to deliver the classic line “oh shit, my boyfriend is coming home in like twenty minutes. You should go!” (scoffing quietly to myself at the idea of me having a boyfriend at all)  It is also the perfect time to be demanding. Once you know that bonking is on the cards, you can pretty much draw up a little contract in order to be fully satisfied, I once gave a guy actual rules before agreeing to sleep with him (which ended up being a three-hour romp, followed by wedding  jokes at breakfast with the rest of the group in the morning) Also, one night stands are prime time for hilarity; take the time to do something hilarious and socially inappropriate and create an urban myth that you know to be true. For example, I had one guy back and after thirty minutes of heavy petting he was still…..a little more Philadelphia than Parmesan in the penis department.  Anyway, I was drunk and intolerant and delivered the classic ultimatum “Babe, at this point, go hard or go home”…he went home and I passed out naked…again. Then there are those classic moments when you’ve drunkenly gotten naked with a friend with no real intention of actual penetration. This happened to me at uni and the pair of us ended up passing out au naturel. About an hour or so later, our mate came into my room (greeted by the sight of my bare ass) to get the guy to go back and smoke up at his place, and I (still in a naked drunken stupor)  could only repeat the words “Babe, just chill out, its fine”.  There are those moments when you both think you are porn stars and then catch sight of yourselves in the mirror and both have to take a second to laugh hysterically. There are those times when you take a mid-session break for a cigarette and end up performing a top-notch blow-job in the communal garden in full view of the upstairs neighbors… just cos. There are hilariously awkward moments, however. For example, I once ended up bedding my Uni’s water polo captain, who definitely forgot my name and just referred to me as  “Baby”, I have never been so pleased as when he got up and left in search of a kebab.

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Things to beware: Beware the “accidental slip”, we all know what I mean here, and there is a chance that in the fumble to pleasure you, your partner may have gotten too excited and popped something somewhere it doesn’t belong for a second or two, causing you to perform the gravity defying ‘gecko’ move up the nearest wall.  Beware Magic FM…Seriously, I remember ‘Careless Whisper’ coming on at 2am and being completely unable to continue, while my playmate thought it was the sexiest thing ever. I literally almost pee’d with laughter at how cheesy it was. Horrendous.  Beware volume control. There is nothing worse than hearing other people bumping uglies, honestly it isn’t ok, you end up feeling like some sort of aural voyeur because no matter what you do you can’t block out the sounds.Beware inequality; go tit for tat, if you go down for fifteen minutes, the favor should be returned…any guy who says anything pertaining to “I don’t do that” can suck your imaginary balls and get out of your bed.  Beware feelings. As I have said before, if your legs open faster than Google’s homepage, you are not girlfriend material…one night stands are called this because they have a very precise shelf life. You are not going to find ‘the one’ this way. What you will gain is confidence, skill, experience and fun. Try not to give a shit about reputation, because the only reason people will disapprove is if they aren’t getting laid or if one of you is cheating. Cheating is BAD. Do not get involved with ANYONE who is attached.

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Gympatience

Gympatience is a phenomenon which occurs when one finally decides to haul ones ass to the gym, and grows impatient when results aren’t instantaneous. With my first pay from my new job,I bought myself a pair of bright orange Nike Free Run iDs. With my second, I got myself a gym membership to the gym right by where I work. I now have no excuse but to go to the gym. At the particular establishment which I am starting to frequent, there is a personal trainer who I will refer to as SBG (Sexy Bald Guy) who is probably the only reason I’m so committed to going at least thrice a week. SBG is in his late 30s, and is one of few men who has managed to go to the gym and not end up looking like a horrific cave man/ hulk hybrid. He is toned and muscular but he still, somewhat miraculously, has a neck! Hurrah! So i had some free sessions with him, and it turns out, I can tone up simply by doing a little weight training and a little cardio for 20 mins three times a week! IDEAL!

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So summer is coming, Bikini Panic is occurring all over the world, and cupcakes have never looked so sexy. They peek at you from all over the place, behind glass counters in coffee shops, all over platters at family parties, blushing with pink icing, flashing a strip of  chocolaty muffin top before all is hidden beneath the thin layer of a pastry case. The sluts. Salad is making an effort, collecting together the best parts of the season in the shape of brightly coloured peppers, sweet vine tomatoes and creamy feta cheese, but it will always look like a sack of shit when placed beside the glory of a freshly made meringue pavlova oozing with raspberry coulis and chocolate mouse. Oh summery desserts, you are the bane and the beauty of the next few months, tantalizing me with your zesty yet creamy fillings, your sticky, crumbly, crunching texture and your empty, sugary, malicious calories. ‘You know you can’t resist me’, the siren cupcake murmers with a voice like honey, ‘Just one bite, no-one has to know!’ You resist!  Walking away, an ice cream catches your eye, ‘Oh, but I’m so delicious, and its summer! When else can we be together like this?’

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You find yourself salivating, your eyes drawn to all things naughty! Why is everything so much more delicious when its hot! Burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, scones, whipped cream, donuts, french fries and fucking pizza all baying for your attention like the gorgons on the rocks, luring you in with sweet sticky promises then devouring you whole. What’s a girl to do?!

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We ignore the temptation around us, throwing ourselves through the doors of the gym, out of our front doors, into the local school hall for Zumba and we move our gelatinous asses in the hopes that we will jiggle them right off! Lately I’ve been massively addicted to the health and fitness section on Pinterest. I go there for inspiration (NOT THINSPIRATION…this is a hugely unhealthy way to look. You want to be strong. Not thin) I see stories of ladies who have lost half their body weight and the only way to do it is to work hard and commit. So I am… fucking finally. I’ve flirted with the idea before, but never really bothered to stick with it but I’m in the right head space now. This weekend was horrific, surrounded by tiger bread, real butter (be still my frothing thighs), cupcakes, kettle chips and SO MUCH BOOZE I managed to stay strong. I owe it to myself to get this waist nipped in the bud! Its week 3 now. Just you wait til week 12 bitch.

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Love is a Tool

Love songs are unrealistic. Written to tell us what we want to hear, making him out to be a saint and her to be this perfect pedestal dwelling angel. They aren’t. They are people with flaws. It is the most written about subject in literature, film and song. Shakespeare had it right in his sonnet 130 beginning “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, in which he talks about his amour being imperfect and even ugly, but concludes with ‘and yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare’;  essentially he loves her for who she is. A glorious revelation, but one whose value has been lost in time. We tend to listen to people drone on about how in love they are and how the world is new to them, how everything has changed,how perfect she is, how wonderful he is,  how lonely they were before and how fucking smug they are these days. Its fucking exhausting hearing about it. Today’s drive for perfection has seen beautiful women reduced to alien beings, more plastic than fantastic! Giving themselves horrifically over-inflated trout pouts, noses that belong on barbies and don’t even get me started on fake tits! These poor women think that looking ‘perfect’ outwardly will help them find love, help them to find someone perfect for them, when actually you should be more concerned with giving your mind a makeover because you will only ever attract someone who is as apparently vacuous as you seem to be. That’s the horrible thing, I see these barbie dolls walking around like clones of each other, all of them armed with their black leather Michael Kors Tote, hair up in a high bun, each clinging ferociously to the over-pumped arm of some orange skinned slick-haired buffoon.  I look around at these couples on MTV’s The Valleys and Geordie Shore and it’s no wonder it makes such good entertainment when those people essentially are caricatures of themselves. Covering themselves in war paint and hair extensions, the lads doing so many push ups they end up looking like a skinny guy coming out of the torso of a buff guy, it’s just not right!

 

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Love is a complicated mess and yet the pinnacle, the summit of our lives.  My uncle asked my mum recently whether I would be bringing my ‘latest squeeze’ to this family party we are throwing. And the truth is i have never had a ‘latest squeeze’. The relationship thing is a shadow to me, an illusion. I don’t know whether its me being hilariously picky, whether I ‘just haven’t found the right person yet’ (ps for the love of fuck, relationship dwellers, stop fucking telling us this…I know I haven’t otherwise I wouldn’t be on my fucking one now would I?) or whether its something deeper like a the constant need to self-sabotage for some reason. Who knows? But one thing is certain, whilst I may have missed out on many, many lovely things like make-up sex, couples holidays and whatever else it is that they do, I’ve also avoided break-ups, cheating, foul PDA and the absolute hell of meeting the parents. I think so many people these days are so preoccupied with not being alone that they will jump into any relationship offered to them, rather than spend some time getting to know themselves a little better. Especially the generation following mine, where 14 year old seem to think that listening to Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift makes them ready for any kind of committed relationship that isn’t with a celebrity who is unaware of said relationship. I have friends who have never been truly single and who like to pretend like they are just  like me… gurl…you  are not. Spending a couple of months post break up is not being single…it is being momentarily indisposed. Having to pick between guys and it being a struggle…not being single.  Spending at least a year struggling to even sleep with the same person twice…that, my friend, is being single. And you know what, for me, so far, it’s working. Sure I don’t have anyone to wrestle naked with, but I have friends with whom I can do literally anything a couple would. We cook dinners together, sleep in the same bed, share secrets, cry together, laugh and love. As I’ve said before, friendship is a BIG deal to me and there aren’t enough songs about that!

 

Here is a poem I enjoy immensely:

 

Love is a tool

Love is a tool to manipulate the weak.

We see love on TV every day,

But its something that’s followed with ads for Diet Dr Pepper and mascara or Trojan Condoms

Love is a marketing scheme designed by CEOs

Who have gone through five wives with no remorse

And haven’t paid child support in years

But their bank accounts support octuple digits

That can buy a new car

A Swedish cabin

Or a set of new shot glasses.

Thats why when you tell me you love me

I’m reluctant to believe it.

How do I know you’re not going to sell me shoes

Or trade me in when the new wears off?

I don’t want a price tag on my head,

So fuck love

And its sneaky trappings.

Love is a tool to persuade girls like me to buy romance novels

and Ben and Jerry’s

And sit and cry over guys in High School

Who called us fat one too many times.

That’s exactly what love is.

Take the Tesco sticker off your roses

And try to convince me otherwise.

– Anon

I think love is finding someone who drives you up the wall but you can’t kill them because you’d miss them too much. Its laughing at every fart (because they are always funny), sitting through questionable movies and braving awkward social situations like a two man army. Its finding a best friend who you want to have naked playfights with and who will hold your hair back when you puke. It isn’t just having someone.