The rudest letter I ever wrote

It was 1997, and I was 16 years old. Despite having an on-off boyfriend, I was very lonely. Then I stumbled across a now-defunct music magazine called Select, which had a contact ads section at the back. The pages weren’t exactly lonely hearts, though I’m sure that was on the minds of numerous advertisers, but they were an opportunity for geeky outcasts to meet other misfits.

In January of that year, a man called Graham placed an ad that said ‘Adventurous and insatiable male hermit, 19, requires intelligent corespondents [sic] to astound, bewilder, tantalise and bore. Self-important wordy sarcastic types encouraged.’ (The spelling mistake was the magazine’s, but I didn’t know that.) Graham seemed smart and interesting, so I wrote him a rather combative letter, trying to be sarcastic while simultaneously taking his ad entirely seriously. The one-page letter was typed on my parents’ word processor.

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I’m cringing just reading it now! Back then, my personality was an odd combination of zero self-esteem, due to being abused physically and emotionally at home and bullied all the way through school; and self-confidence, having recently discovered that a lot of men wanted to have sex with me. At times, when I thought about my life to date, I felt suicidal – and, at that age, I was still self-harming and had only just stopped being anorexic.

Graham wrote a caustic reply in response to my opening gambit:

Graham's intro

Touché! So started a friendship that would last from then until the present day, off and on. Looking back, Graham’s letters were much more readable and mature than mine, but then I guess he was more than three years older.

However, I may have been an embarrassingly gauche and daft correspondent, but I certainly wasn’t boring. I was sure I had nothing to offer in terms of my personality, so tried to convince Graham I was irresistible – as I believed this was the only reason a man could ever be interested in me. In my first letter, I told him ‘I spend my days straddling naked men’. He retorted, ‘You didn’t say whether or not the naked men were conscious.’

In another letter, I naughtily tried to turn him on:

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The rest of the letter is so racy and smutty that Graham asked last night, ‘Are you sure you want it out there if you’re applying for jobs? It’s X-rated!’ So I will save it for the memoir.

Back in 1997, Graham totally refused to take the bait and reciprocate. He said later that he had no idea what to make of me! He was much more withdrawn, reserved and measured than I was (then again so was pretty much everyone, including Julian Clary).

But our friendship progressed. Graham eventually sent me a perfectly attractive if rather sullen photo of himself:

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However, he was extremely self-deprecating about his appearance, and I tried to reassure him:

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Reading back through the letters I sent him, though there were jokes in, I was also incredibly depressed. I was still focused on self-harming:

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And I couldn’t stop feeling sad and angry about my childhood:

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But having a good friend to write to helped ease my pain very slightly, and he’s still there for me 22 years on.

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THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 29

Me: 12st 5.4lbs (total loss in 29 days: 8.8lbs)

God I can’t wait to be slim again!

John: 14st 3.5lbs (total loss in 29 days: 4lbs)

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of exciting rewards in addition to this credit, including my secret never-published fiction and top secret photos! If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon. 

Rewards start from just $1 a month, which is 85p in real money and gets you access to my weekly Patreon email. It’s like this blog, but EVEN BETTER!

Why I had the world’s most embarrassing parents

Every kid thinks their parents are embarrassing, but I’m fairly sure that mine actually were the most embarrassing parents in the world during my childhood. Here are my reasons:

The bottle of wee

When I was about 11, my mum decided she would start fertilising her allotment with urine. There was therefore a bottle of urine in the tiny upstairs toilet that we were meant to wee into instead of weeing into the loo.

(The actual loo was for poos only, and thank heavens my mum didn’t decide to fertilise the allotment with human excrement too, though I wouldn’t have put it past her. Instead, she made my dad and I go to the local riding stables at the weekends to shovel horse poo into bags, which she then fertilised the allotment with instead. What fun!)

Anyhow, I didn’t really mind giving a urine sample every time I needed to pee. In the long list of my parents’ parenting fails, it was pretty near the bottom.

What I did mind was that, one of the few times I got someone from school to agree to come round, my mother asked the girl pleasantly, ‘If you go to the toilet, please could you pee into the plastic bottle provided?’

Of course, the girl promptly went back to school and informed everyone she’d been made to wee into a bottle at mine. This got translated into ‘Don’t go round Ariane’s house – her mum’s taking the piss!’

As if I hadn’t already been bullied enough…

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The clapped-out old banger

My parents owned a filthy white 1960s Peugeot 404 that didn’t so much glide as bounce, wheeze and sputter down the road. It was the sort of dirty where people would write ‘Clean Me’ with their finger in the grime.

The car was basically half-dead and would always refuse to start, so each time my mum collected me from primary school, she would have to open the bonnet, then whack the fan with an ancient wooden tennis racket in order to get the engine going.

Cue snotty small children boasting ‘My dad has a Mercedes-Benz. Your dad can’t even afford a proper car! Or a proper tennis racket.’

When the second-hand (or more like tenth-hand) Peugeot finally packed up for good, my dad bought another second-hand car: a Saab 900. It was so long, it was impossible to park, and my dad would go round trying and failing to reverse into parking spaces while swearing under his breath in German. (He used to live in Germany, and possibly thought it was more acceptable to swear in front of small children in a language we couldn’t understand.)

peugeot [A Peugeot 404, though ours was much dirtier.]

Then there’s the small matter of the Nazi jeep my dad built in our garage, though I’ll save that for the memoir.

The terrible clothes

Looking back, my dad’s clothes really weren’t that bad. The main cringe factor for me was that he always, always wore a black or navy corduroy Lenin cap. I have no idea why, because he had hair up until the very end.

The kids at school would tease me because he wore the cap, and call him a ‘gippo’ (though not to his face, because he was 6’4″ and prone to violence and would have ended them).

He also always wore a white vest. He had the slightly excruciating habit of scratching his skin until it bled, so his white vests were always covered in faded brown bloodstains.

Oh, and in the late 1980s he went through a phase of wearing bright fluorescent trainers… with a dark suit jacket and black trousers. It was not the best look.

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My dad’s Unmanageable Penis Syndrome (and other embarrassing habits)

I don’t think my dad actually ever wore deodorant. I certainly never saw him apply any. He always smelt of soap, so he did wash under his arms, but the soapy smell was mingled with a kind of musky body odour. I’m not sure he ever showered either.

I didn’t mind my dad’s body odour – it was at least fresh, and I thought he smelt quite nice, certainly better than the overpowering aftershave of some dads – but I did mind his other personal hygiene habits.

At home, I was always walking in on him washing his willy in the bathroom sink (there was no lock on the bathroom door). I would back out apologising as he swore and muttered. I reckon he used the sink for all his washing – no idea why.

When driving on the school run, with three other girls from school sitting in the back of the car, my dad would fuss with his willy through his trousers. He wouldn’t actually take it out, thank the good Lord, but he would prod it around and have a good old rummage.

My parents would walk around naked occasionally (they were in their teens and twenties in the 1960s) so I have the unfortunate knowledge that my dad was rather well-endowed (bit of sick in my mouth here), and I guess his trousers were always too tight for this reason.

I would sit there cringing as he manhandled himself in front of the girls from school. He was presumably shunting his willy into a less constricted position (my best male friend refers to this euphemistically as ‘comfort issues’).

I think perhaps my dad should have claimed Scottish heritage, invested in a kilt and gone commando. I would genuinely have rather he’d done that than foraged in his crotch all morning, as it was the bane of my life – and that’s before we get to him proudly letting out loud farts in the street.

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And the rest…

This blog post would be very long if I listed all my parents’ cringeworthy habits, so I’ll leave it there. If your parents did anything that can rival mine, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 26

Me: 12st 6.4lbs (total loss in 26 days: 7.8lbs)

Oops…

John: 14st 6.5lbs (total loss in 26 days: 1lb)

I have no idea what John ate yesterday to cause a 3lb gain. My guess is an entire elephant.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of exciting rewards in addition to this credit, including my secret never-published fiction and top secret photos! If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon. 

Rewards start from just $1 a month, which is 85p in real money and gets you access to my weekly Patreon email. It’s like this blog, but EVEN BETTER!

The much-fabled sleepover

Since I bought her a new bed with an extra pull-out mattress, my daughter has been asking me for a sleepover. She asked if she could have one with her best friend Ella, but to be honest I think she’d have happily accepted a sleepover with Mummy Pig or Mr Tumble if it meant she could show off her Harry Potter bedroom.

Lily Buddy bed

Lily desk

Last night was the big night, and I think it went quite well, though kids in real life never say ‘Darling Mummy, thank you so much for making my sleepover so special! I love you completely. Take all my pocket money and enjoy a spa day on me!’. You’re more likely to get a grunt and a request for Haribo for breakfast.

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The planning that went into this sleepover should not be underestimated. I cleaned the house from top to toe, worried Ella might tell her class I’m a Scummy Mummy (my present title of Fattest Mum at School is depressing enough already). Like the middle-class health-conscious parent I am, I also bought an array of nutritious foods for the girls, as seen below:

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After prepping for the big night, I had to ferry both children halfway across London to my newly-clean house. They were engrossed in my daughter’s iPad and barely registered my presence. This behaviour continued throughout the evening, with vociferous protests when I made them put the iPad down to eat their nourishing dinner. (It was fish fingers, chips and beans. Told you: I’m practically Gillian McKeith.)

However, they were far from satisfied with the hearty food I provided: the fish fingers were “not breadcrumby enough”, the chips were “too soft” and the vegan Magnums were met with a scornful “dark chocolate is yuk!”. When I furnished the girls with bottled water, I was informed in outraged tones that, because of my purchasing decision, “sea creatures are dying!”. (This didn’t stop them asking for breadcrumby fish fingers though.)

When not glued to the iPad, the girls painted each other’s nails:

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Plaited each other’s hair:

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And tried on necklaces I’d made, but as hair crowns:

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A few hours later, the battle of the bedtimes commenced. The girls wanted to stay up until midnight. I was wrecked from all the cleaning, and wanted to go to sleep at 9pm. ‘It’s not Cinderella, you know!’ I insisted. ‘Nothing exciting happens at midnight, you just get more and more tired!’

In the end, they fell asleep at the preposterous time of 3am. 3am! (I was only informed of this in the morning, as I went to sleep well before midnight.)

All in all, the sleepover was rather exhausting. I think the girls enjoyed themselves; they were very cute. But if they want to repeat the experience, I might have to insist on that pocket money spa day.

MY DAILY STATS

Weight: 12st 11.4lbs (goal weight: 7st 11lbs)

Waist: 36″ (goal: 25″)

Bust: 42″ (goal: 32″)

This post has been made possible by my Patreon supporters Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Lucy Spencer, Mark White, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of amazing rewards in addition to this credit! Please support me on Patreon.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful life

I had such an amazing birthday, full of friends and love. I was woken up by my eight-year-old daughter singing Happy Birthday down the phone, which was super-cute, even if it was at the crack of dawn before she went to school. I love her so much, sometimes I actually think my heart is going to explode, which would be unfortunate as my next book is called How to Live to 100. 

After being serenaded, I went for a run, because the new book I’m writing says the more exercise you do, the longer you’ll live. The run was meant to last ten minutes, but actually lasted about one minute. I’m hugely plus size and don’t own a sports bra, so was basically doing keepy-uppies with my boobs. It was not an edifying spectacle, so I curtailed it in seconds. THE SHAME!

Then I went for a massage. This was meant to be a blissful and relaxing experience. In reality, it meant having a strange woman’s elbow ground into my buttocks as I screamed in pain. ‘It will feel good after,’ she reassured me. I was like: yeah, because you’ll have stopped! This is the same beauty salon where I was ‘cupped’ against my will last week by an over-eager therapist. My back now looks like I’ve had sex with an octopus. I haven’t had any sex for ages, even though my new book says it lengthens life expectancy, so I guess I have to take what I can get…

Cupping

After the Massage of Pain, I enjoyed sushi at Yo! Sushi in Westfield Stratford City with my friend John, one of the warmest and funniest people ever. He’s almost exactly 30 years older than me, so next year we’re going to celebrate our 40th and 70th birthdays together and turn 110. Because he couldn’t quite be my grandad (he would have had to have been 15), I call him my Illegal Grandad. So he got me this birthday card:

John's card

Hilarious, and yet somehow so wrong.

Then I spent my best friend Graham’s birthday present: a £25 Paperchase gift card. I love stationery so much, I would have walked around the shop sniffing all the notebooks if it wasn’t ridiculously antisocial. If you want to make me happy, just send me a Paperchase gift card and I will happily spunk it on bits of overpriced paper. Hell yeah. I also bought a memory jar, which I’m going to fill with all my favourite recollections.

Paperchase

After that, John and I went to see the film Yesterday, which was very enjoyable and a solid 7/10. The best character was the cynical, sociopathic artist manager, who had absolutely no filter. She was great, and Ed Sheeran was also good value. It was a much better film than Support the Girls, which we saw on Monday on Barack Obama’s recommendation. It was rubbish and we walked out after 20 minutes (I had to wake John up as he was asleep!). My new mission is to track down the rest of Bazza’s favourite films so I can avoid them all.

Yesterday

Throughout the day, I was amazed by incredible messages of kindness on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It was a real outpouring of love, and I felt overwhelmed and so happy. Human beings can be so lovely. Sometimes I think I have few friends compared to other people and feel quite lonely – I don’t have a big group of girly mates, for instance, and I’m a bit different to other people as my life hasn’t been the easiest 39 trips around the sun – but on days like this I realise I have lots of support out there, and it means the world to me.

The pièce de résistance of my 39th birthday was a meal at dreamy Soho dim sum restaurant Yauatcha with my wonderful friend Annabel. She’s just so big-hearted and generous and funny. She arranged for them to bring out a birthday ice cream with a candle for me, and sang Happy Birthday! We only really struck up our friendship earlier this year, after knowing each other a little for 12 years (we used to work together) and every time I see her, it’s like having happiness injected into my soul. (Yes, I am very soppy…)

Annabel

All that’s left to say is: thank you if you were a part of my birthday. It’s the best one I can remember, and I can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds.

This post has been made possible by my Patreon supporters Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Lucy Spencer, Mark White, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of amazing rewards in addition to this credit! Please support me on Patreon.