Should we all cheer up?

The chair of the Orange Prize, Daisy Goodwin, has revealed that the contenders for this year’s award are all unfathomably depressing and “grim“. Women’s fiction is, apparently, in a dark, dark place. So are we losing our sense of humour? Or has it just been a tough year for womankind?

As someone who has always preferred a bit of comedy with my tragedy, this comes as a surprise. If I’m feeling down, I’ll want to laugh. If I’m up, I want to stay there. So here’s to a little more light with our shade – and I for one plan to scour the book shelves for some smiles.

Hugo Boss and other disappointments

It’s not that I begrudge my fellow man earning a decent living. It’s not even that I’m still furious with The Cowboys (TM) for conning me in every possible way to get me to buy the shoebox in the ghetto and then running off into the sunset with my money, emitting hyena-like shrieks of pure evil. It’s the fact that my new and blameless plumber wears Hugo Boss jeans, drives a Mercedes, and has just presented me with a quote with far more zeros on it than I had expected. And I have no shower. 

We have always been bathless (apologies to all my lovely friends who bought me fancy pants bath oils and lotions for my birthday. I’ll try not to ply you with so much wine next time you’re over so perhaps you’ll notice), but we took a great deal of comfort from our shower.  I did a lot of thinking under it in the mornings, while my mind was gently lifting itself out of dreamland, free from the constraints of rational daytime thought. It helped set me up for the day and woke me up like nothing else could. We also made good use of the shower at other times (no, not like that).

Living in a studio flat means that the bathroom (oh, okay, the loo-with-a-shower-hanging-over-it room) is the only place you can go to get away from it all. Had a row and want to flounce off in a dramatic huff? Need some thinking time? Feeling bloated? You head straight for the only space with a door in the flat. As a result, I and my other half have never been cleaner. We were positively squeaky. That is, until Sunday. 

Since then it’s been like The Poseidon Adventure round ours. And the couple living below isn’t too chuffed with us either. So now we are washing at work (not fun) and counting our pennies to work out when we can afford to get the damn thing fixed.

And my new plumber? Well, rumour has it he’s planning his next shopping trip. 

Do you think there’s time to retrain?

Awards season frenzy

This week we’re preparing for the Oscars. From salivating over menus that have been accidentally ‘leaked’ ahead of the big night, to lusting after gowns, laughing at last-minute presenter panics, furiously writing prediction pieces and hoping – really hoping – that Kathryn Bigelow triumphs over ex husband James Cameron in the best film awards. It’s not just that the Avatar director has recycled his boy-meets-girl plot in blue alien form, that the 3D effects are little substitute for a subplot, or even that his non-mammal protagonists are inexplicably blessed with DD breasts. No, it’s that every other male over the age of 15 thinks it’s great and wants to talk about it. A lot. And that’s only going to get worse if it wins. Vote Bigelow, for sanity’s sake.

The Joy of Text

Has the world learned nothing from Tiger Woods? We all know that in the wrong hands a mobile phone can be a dangerous weapon and even the best of us have texted while under the influence and lived to regret it.  And yet, so far this month, we’ve had Ashley Cole, Vernon Kay and John Terry all hitting the headlines due to their alleged illicit texting behaviour.

Are they looking for an escape route? Are they insane? Are they woefully under-briefed on the costs of contemporary divorce settlements? Fiona ‘Steel Magnolia’ Shackleton should prepare for a field day.

Who stole Friday?

I arose this morning to glorious sunshine. Brixton lay before me and a brand new day was mine for the taking. Now it’s dark outside, someone’s removed the old sofa from outside my front door (my only means of identifying which flat was mine) and I have been verbally abused no less than three times by kindly neighbours irate at my efforts to fit my keys into their front doors. If only someone hadn’t stolen the house number last week.

My new site

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a journalist in posession of any form of technical knowhow should be in posession of a website. So here’s mine. Only I had a little help. This site has been built with loving care by the excellent Rhodri Marsden and is intended to bring together all the various strands of my work floating out there in cyberspace.

I’ll try to update this as often as I can, and do let me know what you think via email (down there, to the right, see?), twitter (@helenswitter), or telepathy – depending on how inspired you’re feeling.