Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Extended holiday listening...

Gosh can't the holidays drag? Well fear not. A full two-hour show I did on On.FM about abortion is up on Mix Cloud. It was a debate show with two guests on each "side", but I think I do the majority of the talking. Its so long it's in two parts. Part one and part two. That's a lot of listening though so I won't be offended if you-all don't finish!! Net conclusion: I'm right! Well actually the whole debate is rather "over" first when the anti-choice man (yes, man!) says he opposes all sex outside of marriage, and all sex not for procreation purposes, and all forms of contraception. And second, it's all over again when the host reveals his own mother died from a backstreet abortion.

Festive good will!

Here's an article and a picture of me doing a festive comedy engagement workshop with a group of older people in Oval. I do quite a few of these though Silver Comedy around London and they're really fun for me and the participants! Do get in touch with George (who runs Silver Comedy) if you know of a residential centre or a drop-in or community centre that would be interested in holding one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas thank you list

I thought I would write my Christmas thank you list earlier this year. I was thinking about the how some of the most vilified people in our society actually are doing incredibly important work. So thank you to:

1) Health and safety inspectors. Yes some of us appreciate living in a society where children aren't allowed to be send up chimneys and scaffolding can't be made out of cheese. Is it getting in the way of your massive corporations mega-profits? Oh well maybe don't put your employees at risk then, no?

2) No-win, no fee lawyers. Legal aid is harder and harder to get hold of in this country and there's a recession on so less and less people can afford legal support when they've been injured or ripped off. If you've had a serious injury and are having difficulty getting back to work the financial distress can be huge. So if that injury was caused by negligence or dangerous behaviour you're entitled to get some compensation. If it's not a real case, judges can throw it out.

3) Chuggers - aka "charity muggers" the people who accost you in the street and ask you to sign up to charitable direct debit commitments. Yes, I know, I've sworn at them sometimes too, especially the animal charity ones! But the point remains - charities desperately need money. I'd much rather they were in the street than going door-to-door and waking me up. And regular direct debit donations are a much better way of funding charities, giving them long term funding and predictability of income. If you don't like being interrupted in the street or worry about the amount of your donation that might end up in the chugger's pocket (though they're entitled to earn a living too!) why not find a couple of good causes and sign up online now? How about Eaves Housing who support women who have been trafficked to the UK and Wateraid who build water and sanitation pipelines in the third world?

So thanks very much to those much-maligned people!

I've been super-busy the last few months both with the never-ending excitement about the Atheist Bitchslap and with a gruelling touring schedule for a variety of reasons. So I'm taking Christmas off now (though I will moderate comments, etc every couple of days) and leaving town for a little bit. My plan is not to perform while I'm away but if any blog/bitchslap fans are in L.A. and want to arrange a festive drinks night, please get in touch.

Happy Winterval all!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


So London Green/green online magazine The Big Smoke asked me to write a Sunday Sermon. So I did. You can read it here!

Friday, December 16, 2011

More radio spots

So yesterday I was on two different national BBC radio shows. Firstly the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio Two, where we discussed the paucity of coverage of women's sports in the media. You can listen again here for seven days - my part starts just after 1h36minutes in to the show - and one little note, after the discussion Jeremy thanks me and it sounds like I'm leaving but actually I ended up staying and discussing some of the texts and calls that came in.

Then in the evening I was on the Tony Livesey Show on BBC Radio Five. We were talking about Micheal Buble and his use of "bad" language onstage. I'm on from 54minutes into the show on this one and again it's up on listen again here for seven days.

I also performed last night at The Laugh Goodbye - a benefit gig for mental health charity MIND in memory of Mackenzie Taylor, an incredibly talented performer and a good friend of mine who lost his battle with mental illness and committed suicide last year. Sorry if you missed it - it was completely sold out and a lot of money raised. At the end of the show in an echo of something Mackenzie did onstage at a show once the comics were brought back onstage and the right to spank us was auctioned off for the charity. Mine raised a rather measly £10... It was an amazing night though so I was really glad to have been a part of it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Diversity audit on music blog...

This blog post seems to have been doing the rounds today: 12 extremely disappointing facts about popular music. It's about how some acts of dubious quality hyped up by the music industry have outsold some "classic" acts. But check out the subliminal sexism...

Of the 12 examples:

Men who "shouldn't have been" more popular than other men: 3
Men who "shouldn't have been" more popular than mixed sex groups: 0
Men who "shouldn't have been" more popular than women: 0

Mixed sex groups who "shouldn't have been" more popular than men: 2
Mixed sex groups who "shouldn't have been" more popular than other mixed sex groups: 0
Mixed sex groups who "shouldn't have been" more popular than women: 0

Women who "shouldn't have been" more popular than men: 6
Women who "shouldn't have been" more popular than mixed sex groups: 0
Women who "shouldn't have been" more popular than other women: 0

And of course: jokes about Justin Beiber: 1

Including Beiber there are 12 acts who they are suggesting are over-rated, or deserved less success: 6 solo women, 2 mixed sex groups and 4 solo guys. And there are 15 acts who they are suggesting are under-rated, or deserved more success: 100% male.

Maybe the most disappointing fact about popular music is that in the 21st century brilliant female acts still find it incredibly difficult to be taken seriously.

Which is a miserable note to end on, so instead I'll leave you with proof that women have been rocking out pretty damn hard for a long long time... Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I particularly urge you to pay attention to the guitar solo she launches into about 1m20 in. But frankly the whole thing is a joy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

More radio, Ada Lovelace and less Clarkson (please?!)

Well I hate to say I told you so (I don't, I love it) but three year's ago I wrote an article called "I HATE Jeremy Clarkson", and today 21,000 complainers to the BBC agree with me. I was invited on the BBC Wales phone-in show with Jason Mohammed to discuss it at length (for a whole hour!). It'll be available for 7 days to "listen again" here, I'm on throughout the first hour.

[Celeb gossip aside - when I arrived at the BBC studios there were tons of paparazzi outside, apparently they were hoping to catch both Chris Martin and Jessica Biel who were coming in for interviews. Both came and went while I was on air, so I didn't get to hang out, they could probably see I was busy!]

Another lengthy item for your listening pleasure, finally up online is the show I hosted celebrating women in technology for Ada Lovelace Day. It was recorded by the ace Pod Delusion team who I have given interviews and soundbites to before on other subjects. I am on and off doing bits and bobs as host throughout but you'll also get to hear Maggie Philbin, Gia Milinovich, Helen Arney, Sue Black and Suw Charman-Anderson who are all fascinating.

Finally just now I was on George Galloway's TalkSport show discussing how totally rubbish it is that the Sports Personality of the Year Awards shortlist is 100% male. They don't have a function to replay it but the clips often show up on YouTube, let me know if you find it!! Basic conclusion: Yes it's rubbish. The nominations are chosen by a range of sports editors including those working at "Lad Mags" (i.e. soft porn and misogyny titles like Nuts and Zoo) and even the supposedly mainstream sports editors cover basically no women's sports aside from the Olympics and Wimbledon. Plus there's a lack of funding for grassroots level sports across the board, but especially girls. And with eating disorders and obesity at epidemic levels it needs sorting out. The end.

Oh and footnote on the general internet abuse situation. The response on Twitter to my remarks suggesting Clarkson shouldn't have said the horrid things he said about striking public sector workers:

Chris Morgan
love to track you down and give a good slap bitch

And footnote 2: Thanks a gazillion to photographer Charlotte Barnes who took the photo at the top of me leading the march at Reclaim The Night 2011. I love it!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Josie's words

Incidentally I agree with every word of what Josie Long says about women in comedy. Listen here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fawcett March and some radio clips

Yesterday the Fawcett Society organised a rally to protest the disproportionate way in which women are being affected by the cuts. I was asked to speak afterwards at the rally about the threat to reproductive and abortion rights. I am mentioned in the Morning Star newspaper.

I was also on BBC radio 5 Live Weekend Breakfast show yesterday talking about internet abuse. You can "listen again" here starting at 2h43m in to the show. Since then I've been discussing it a bit on Twitter with Dr Evan Harris and others. The question of what can be done about it is a tricky one. Certainly I get quite a lot of messages that are definitely the wrong side of the law - especially if they contain specific threats. But I don't really have time to launch a police case every time this happens. When I have contacted the police - they've been rubbish and done nothing. And for the general hate messages there is the issue that people are entitled to free speech but it also seems unfair that I, and hundreds and thousands of other women with an online presence (plus, I must add ethnic minority, gay, trans, etc bloggers who I'm sure get plenty of crap too) have to wade through this stuff in our inboxes every morning. We know young people have been driven to suicide by Internet bullying. My solution as ever is to tackle the hate culture, not the expression of it. But seems like not much progress is being made on that front either!

And this morning - yes that was me on BBC Radio Ulster debating whether single women should be allowed IVF on the NHS. Can't believe we're still having this debate really. Why would a health service offer "moral" or relationship advice. Loads of single women are great mothers and if they're coming for IVF it's not like they haven't given the matter serious consideration... And who wants to turn down the recently widowed, or a woman who's just escaped domestic violence? We have to trust women to decide what's best for them.

Anyway the most fun bit was that right towards the end the woman I was debating with opined that single women shouldn't be allowed to have IVF kids because it was against the bible's model of a family. Well it was left to me to point out that not everyone in the UK shares her religious perspective and blah blah blah. Anyway just as the interview was ending I casually mentioned that there is no God. Good morning Northern Ireland and you're welcome!! Sorry it's not available on iPlayer.

Footnote: thanks Paul - I stand corrected (and pleased) - you can listen to the Radio Ulster debate show here. My bit starts from 34m in and skip forward to 44m is you just want to hear my big finish!

Friday, November 04, 2011

New Statesman piece about me and other blogstresses.

I'm featured in a piece in the New Statesman today about internet abuse. You can read it here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

City Academy Plug

During a discussion about the forthcoming Squeakies movie on the Sunny and Shay show on BBC London last night one of the producers gives a lovely plug for the comedy course I teach at City Academy and how great my students are (I agree). You can listen again here and the bit where I'm mentioned starts at 1h44m in.

I'll add a couple of points about comedy courses, cos there seem to be some FAQs...

1) Can you really teach someone to be funny?

I don't really subscribe to this notion that people "just are" or "just aren't" funny. We all have different senses of humour. A course can definitely help you explore your sense of humour and different ways of bringing it across onstage. And if you met someone who wasn't a very good singer - would you tell them not to take a singing course? No - lots of people enjoy learning about singing, practising and performing to friends, anyone who fancies it should give it a try. Ditto comedy.

2) Surely you'd learn more by getting onstage and doing it?

You can certainly learn a lot by doing gigs, yes, and if that's how you'd prefer to learn no-one is stopping you. New act nights can be tough though - small distracted audiences, badly set-up rooms, and often they can be unreceptive to anything a bit different. If you can learn it in front of an audience, why not learn it in front of your classmates with the help of a professional comic as a teacher.

3) Do you just teach people to be like you?

Well I worry about that but I try very hard not to - I try very hard to provide skills and tools and techniques that can be applied to a wide range of acts. Some of my ex-students do character comedy, some do puns, there's a fair range...

4) What if I just want to boost confidence and presenting skills?

Yes, definitely, got a best man/woman speech or work awards do coming up? I can help. One-on-one or join a class.

5) What has happened to your ex-students? Are they all famous yet?

I've only been teaching just over a year - give them a chance - but some of them are doing really well. Here's a clip of one of my graduates Stephen Bailey performing in a pub in Manchester, if you're interested.

Funnily (sort of) enough the comedy course is one of the City Academy courses most often bought as a gift for a friend, which is quite a sweet way of saying "You've got a lot of interesting stories to tell, give it a go!". The link to City Academy website is above if you are now itching to sign up...! I promise you'll have fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Atheist B*tchslap and the Internet

Most of my regular readers (hello new people and welcome) will know that I've been a fairly frequent guest on BBC One's religious debate show The Big Questions. My most recent appearance culminated in me calling religious people "idiots". At the time unsurprisingly the assembled religious leaders who were on the show reacted as if I'd defecated on the studio floor. But I wasn't really expecting the general public to have that much of a reaction to the clip. I mean "idiots" is hardly the harshest insult. At very least it's the sort of insult that goes out on BBC One on a Sunday morning.

However recently when looking for the clip to show to a friend I noticed something: it's gone a bit viral. Well actually a lot viral. It's on YouTube several times and now it's on ebaumsworld which is a very high traffic site. There are various versions of the clip - this is a fairly extended version, showing the debate before and after my "idiots" comment:

This clip also has a fairly generic title. Most places have titled it "Atheist B*tchslap". I generally think the term "b*tch" is an unpleasant one, but in this case it seems to be being used positively so I don't mind.

Anyway here's the thing. Between all the various places it's been put up, it's had over 250,000 views. Yes - quarter of a million views and counting. I rather wish whoever has been posting it up would put my name, twitter tag and blog site in the title so people can find me and follow me and come to my comedy shows. But hey, I guess I'll just get a T-Shirt printed up with "Atheist B*tchslap" on it and that should jog people's memories!

And here's the other thing. As you may know I moderate comment on here and on my YouTube channel. I didn't for a long time but there were some particularly nasty internet trolls who would repeatedly post up the most horrible things and I just wanted my readers to feel they could read my site safely. I still approve comments from those who disagree with me, just not those who are creepy and threatening and all that sort of thing.

Of course on the wider Internet I don't get to moderate these things. In particular ebaumsworld clearly has no policy for moderation and doesn't even have a "report this comment" or a function that allows a comment to be hidden if a large number of people have "dislike"-d it. And it's getting pretty ugly. Trigger warning - I'm going to quote some of the comments (asterisks are mine, mostly to stop my page being blocked for anyone with a half decent Internet firewall).


Mmm, that was from the reassuringly-named ebaumsworld commenter "pygmiesrfun". And here's "southernguy3030" to remind us how kind and compassionate religious people are:

"She will remember those words when she faced
God. Have fun burning in Hell."

And this one:

"she looks like a lesbian b*tch anyways"

Ah yes that age-old insult "looking like a lesbian". I'm hoping that user "Montreal" means like a cross between Amber Heard and Tegen and Sara. That would be AWESOME! And someone else who spent a long time choosing a username: "sh*tpuppet" wants to be clear it's not just lesbians he has the problem with:

"No you're a woman right? Therefore by
induction, you're an idiot."

The fact that his sentence doesn't even make sense (induction?) really backs up his point too... But just cos you're educated enough to be pedantic about language doesn't make you a very nice person either. Look here's "jteague" with his/her insightful spelling advice:

"atheist not athiest. tard"

I think "tard" is actually short for "retard"!!? Seriously - that'a apparently a hip insult now and not in the least bit insulting to people with learning difficulties. Someone call Ricky Gervais... On the subject of spelling mistakes lets get back to the threats of violence. This one is from "canadianbeer":

"She needs to be gang reaped."

And atheists can be horrifically sexist too remember, thanks "mrcronic":

"so from now on when a make a chick have an
abortion ill just tell her the babys going to

And guess what peacemakers like "Skab" want to do to end fighting between atheists and religious people:

"Here's a solution that can unite all the
religious f*cks. Gang-b*ng her in a rainbow
unity and problem solved."

I'm only about a third of the way through the comments, and even then there's loads more I could post up, but I think that's enough to show I'm presenting a general trend, not just a couple of isolated idiots.

I guess three points:

(1) The anonymity and freedom of speech afforded by the Internet certainly have their benefits, as we've seen with the Arab Spring and reaction to suppression of news about human rights abuses in China, etc. But in general, my advice is, if you've got a site - moderate it... You can just glance at stuff and approve everything that isn't overtly horrid (note: there is also some nasty racism on the comments, aimed at the black people shown and at the Muslim guy). With a smart phone you can do it on-the-go so as not to stifle debate too much. Or failing that leave up a way for people to highlight comments they think should be removed and have a check through. I'm sure these guys didn't mean for their site to become a haven for hate speech.

(2) Interesting to see how a lot of people actually feel. I know almost no-one would say these horrid things to my face. So in a sense it's good that the Internet lets women and other groups see how much some people really hate us.

(3) Interesting and horrifying how quickly it all comes back to rape time after time. There are also a fair few people complaining that the clip doesn't show the "b*tch" actually getting slapped and posted by people who were clearly looking for pornography. If anyone ever tells you we don't live in a "rape culture" world - show them this. It's frightening but it does highlight the need for action to bring about dramatic change.

And let me add one very important thing about the clip. The show has tagged me as "National Secular Society" IN ERROR. I am a member, which clearly they have in their notes somewhere, but I'm not in any way a spokesperson for them... I'm just a spokesperson for me in the clip.

Friday, October 14, 2011

News at Kate - Occupy Wall Street

I made a little vlog about the Occupy Wall Street protests. Enjoy!

I might make some more of these... If anyone has requests on subjects I might discuss, let me know (no promises). Cheers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Edinburgh Last Night (or the night before)

Also discovered a little clip of me performing and then chatting at Edinburgh Tonight with Joe Simmons and Lorraine Chase in August. And my mum is in the audience and gets to join in too.

Squeaking On

The trailer has been released for a film which I appear in. I'm in the film as myself, as a contestant in a comedy competition which is the centrepiece of the film. Some of the other contestants are played by an ex student of mine and my husband, good luck guessing which is which! But all you'll see in the trailer is a bit of well done slapstick (mostly care of my good friend Mark Felgate, who is the one with no trousers!) and my face for about half a second. Still don't miss out...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Jobs for Girls

Well the Cru-blog has certainly been written of my Mac and my iPhone for a long time. But I don't have anything particular to add to the discussion of Steve Jobs' death. It's sad when someone dies, of course, whatever their role in life. There isn't really anything else to say.

Naturally enough though, the media is in need of something to pad out their articles with and the obvious choice is tributes from well known people in relevant sectors. The Daily Mail for example includes comments from 22 people in the worlds of IT, politics and the media. All 22 of those people are male. That's pretty sad. Later on they list a couple of twitter comments from Kylie Minogue and Tyra Banks but it's sad to think that women are so hugely under-represented in these areas in the 21st century.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Short open letter to Teresa May

Dear Home Secretary

"Human rights" is a funny old expression isn't it? I mean it makes it sound like people are actually entitled to these things. And weirder still it makes it sound like all humans might be entitled to them - even the brown ones, and the lesbians and Olly Murs.

Now when I hear you want to deny people their human rights my blood is already starting to boil. But I want to hear you out, to understand your point. I don't really believe that human rights legislation nowadays means mass murderers are entitled to champagne cocktails. But maybe you picked up a copy of the Daily Mail on a train and some of the lies sank in by osmosis and you're too busy to check them.

However even you must be able to see what's wrong with this sentence from you as reported on Sky News:

"I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have some problems with it, I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport people who perhaps are terrorist suspects."

Now those who've been convicted of "terror" (presumably this includes people who stand up in cable cars ... if not it should!) can be locked up. Those who are only suspected of terror however - surely you do realise that they could be innocent. In fact so far in the UK the vast majority of terror suspects have turned out to be innocent.

So you're advocating deporting the innocent? That seems just a little bit mean. Actually it seems criminal and evil - terrible in fact. And you've clearly stated that that is your position so I suspect YOU of plotting an act of terror. The act of deporting people for the sole crime of being pointed at by a neighbour or corrupt police official.

This makes you a terror suspect. And you believe in deporting terror suspects. So...

Get out.

Thanks very much.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Tip Top Sex Advice for Ladies

Need relationship advice? Where better to look for it than the Daily Male? Oh hang on ... what's that you say ... everywhere? Tamara Cohen's piece in today's paper deserves a destructive line-by-line more than anything I've read in years... It's catchily called "Boys' night out may be key to happy marriage as cutting ties with old friends could erode their masculinity"

Does anyone actually know what "erode their masculinity" means? Does the penis actually shrink? Or do they suddenly shudderingly come "to" and exclaim "My God! Are those my dirty pants on the floor? I'm so terribly sorry, I'll just go and stick them in the washing machine!"

"You book the theatre tickets, organise dinner with friends and remind him to have his hair cut this weekend."

Oh my mistake, I thought this was a relationship piece - evidently it's about caring for people in sheltered accommodation.

"But new research shows busybody wives to try to micro-manage their husband’s social lives may be storing up problems."

Hold on - if I buy the theatre tickets and organise the dinner - the response needs to be "thank you so much, I really appreciate you taking that stuff on".

"US scientists found men who do not have enough spare time to spend with their own friends, can feel less attracted to their partner."

Thanks for the detailed and specific information: US scientists. I know them. Jim and Sandra right? How much spare time is "enough"? Am I supposed to ring his boss and cancel his overtime? Who gave me this power? And who the fuck are his "own friends"? Am I not allowed to make eye contact with these people? And sure some people "can" feel less attracted and some "can" feel more attracted and some "can" wonder who the hell wrote this research and whether we should really be referring to them as a "scientist".

"They say wives who have steadily cut the ties with their husband’s old friends in favour of having dinner parties with other couples can erode men’s feelings of masculinity and lead to conflict within the relationship."

Really ladies if you want to "erode" your man's masculinity a simple point-laugh-"Oh my God, it's tiny" will suffice. Less washing up.

"The authors said there is nothing wrong with the wife doing most of the organizing of their social activities – as women tend to be more organized."

Of course there's something wrong with the wife having to do most of the organising. What's wrong is THE WIFE HAS DO MOST OF THE ORGANISING. That's what's commonly known as NOT FAIR. And really? Women just "are" more organised or women just are more likely to have a load of unpaid administrative work dumped on their lap while men watch Match of the Day? Aren't you scientists? Do you want to give us a reference for the biological predisposition of women towards social scheduling work?

"But they said reducing his contact with his friends to the point that all your socialising is done together can be dangerous."

Dangerous like shark attack dangerous? Anyway don't men love a bit of "dangerous" in the bedroom?

"It suggests wives should encourage their husbands to spend time alone with male friends – even the ones they don’t like."

Seriously? I'm now expected to try and talk my husband into going out drinking with blokes he doesn't like. How the hell is that going to help anyone?

"Professor Benjamin Cornwell, of Cornell University added: ‘There is a bit of a gate-keeper aspect that probably troubles some men."

Oh not Jim and Sandra then... Here's his CV - he's written eight papers which have been published in such illustrious journals as Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses and "has appeared live on Chicago Tonight". And men, listen, if you're unhappy about your wife's gate-keeping, why not keep your own gate?

"‘They key issue is whether it reduces his contact with his friends while it increases hers – for example she alters his social schedule to the point that his contact with his friends increasingly occurs in the context of couple’s dinners."

Ewww couple's dinners! Keys in the middle eh? Next thing you know someone comes round to read the meter, there's a terrible misunderstanding, ends up with vol-au-vents everywhere! Seriously couple's dinners are ace if YOU LIKE THE OTHER PEOPLE and shit if YOU DON'T. Thats all there is to it. Couples are people too you know?

"‘A man’s ability to play a round of golf or to have a few drinks with a friend who has only a passing acquaintance to his wife or girlfriend is crucial to preserving some independence in everyday life."

Well a man's ability to pick up a fucking telephone should probably kick in then. And is this actually science? Spending time away from someone preserves your independence from that person? Really? And if you wanted independence, why are you in a relationship where your wife tells you when to get a haircut?

"‘If he has to bring his wife along every time they meet, or his wife starts monopolising that friend, that’s when problems may arise.’"

So it's normal and healthy to not want to introduce your wife to your friends or to hope they don't get along? The words "not even slightly" spring to mind here.

"The researchers analysed data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a 2005 survey of 3,000 people in Chicago, who were aged 57 to 85."

Data from 6 years ago. And from then until now no-one noticed.

"They found the risk of erectile dysfunction was almost doubled in the group whose wives had the most contact with the couple’s shared friends, even allowing for related health conditions in this age group such as diabetes, heart problems and obesity."

Oh so this "eroding their masculinity" does mean "droopy cock"! Ha ha ha. And - look out "scientists" here's a quick newsflash: so you adjusted for diabetes, heart problems and obesity ... did you adjust for the fact that if you're senile enough that someone else has to remind you to get a haircut, erectile dysfunction is nature's way of telling you not to get it out in the grocery aisle.

"Men in their 50s and 60s were at the highest risk of this, suggesting the older men in the study had different priorities for socialising."

Yeah it's mostly group sex over 80 isn't it?* Maybe what these numbers were suggesting is that you were jumping to ridiculous conclusions based on a relatively small sample size of out of date data about highly subjective questions and a big ol' dose of wishful thinking. Just saying.

"Around 25 per cent of the men surveyed experiences ‘partner betweenness’ – when their partner becomes as close to one of their confidants as they are, in at least one of their relationships with a friend."

If your partner hasn't become really close to at least some of your friends - here's the skinny - you're not actually in a relationship. Or if you are it's going to end any time they take away your broadband.

"Prof Cornwell added: ‘We were surprised at how powerful the effect was – the equivalent of having prostate problems. For these younger men, partner betweenness more than doubled the risk.’"

Really? If I was you I'd be surprised how easy it is to plant a suspiciously poorly researched story into the mainstream press just cos it has the word "erection" in it and a deeply misogynist overtone.

"Co-author Edward Laumann, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago said: ‘He needs to have someone to talk to about the things that matter to him – whether its football, politics, what car he is going to buy or worries about his health or his job."

But first he needs a haircut, right? Can he not tell his wife these things? She's probably too busy embroidering doilies for the next couple's night.

"‘The important thing is that he can let it all hang out and know that what he says isn’t going to get straight back to his wife.’"

I'll have to say I can back them up on this point - my man hates it when I find out what he thinks about football. It makes his dick fall off.

"Last week research from six African countries revealed women who wear the trousers at home may pay for it in the bedroom."

Oooh new "research"! From new "scientists" right?

"They could find themselves waiting 100 times longer for passion than those who share household decisions – about shopping and the weekly budget – with their husbands, according to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore."

They "could" yes or they "could not". Also the Daily Fail's editors "could" all be screwed up fuckwits with limp dicks. Just saying - they COULD. Now more info on this report is available online here and again our trustee "scientists" (a different lot this time) are missing one great big point. The report says women who make household decisions reported less sex. Yes, I understand. Maybe, just maybe, that's because those who make household decisions are MORE LIKELY to also make decisions about whether or not to have sex. Less marital rape? How awful. And THINK THINK THINK before you call yourselves scientists. The report covers the following six countries:

Ghana 16.6%
Malawi 38.4%
Mali 6.3%
Rwanda 26.1%
Uganda 17.9%
Zimbabwe 57.9%

Oh I added in some numbers there - did you notice? - those are the percentages of the population with access to contraception in those countries. Can anyone think of a reason why a woman without access to contraception might not want to have sex? Gosh it's just as well these scientists are super-smart eh? Hate to see them miss something really fucking obvious.

So in case you missed it lets just recap: Hey ladies, want more sex with the guy you have to remind to get a haircut? Why not arrange for him to out drinking with some people he hates? That should help.

Seriously. Mainstream paper. I guess they chose to cover this "story" instead of updating their coverage of the Wall Street protests or the dismantling of the NHS? Ho hum.

*If you found my blog by googling "group sex for the over 80s" I wish you all the luck and love in the world but you will find no helpful links here. I assume the relevant website is called "Greydar"! [bows, accepts rapturous applause, leaves]

Friday, September 30, 2011

Do you live in Hull?

If so you should definitely come to this:

Research Seminar II

Wednesday 23rd November, 2011, Meaux Room, Staff House, University of Hull

4.15pm-6pm. Refreshments provided. Free entry, all welcome.

Kate Smurthwaite: feminist comedienne and activist: A powerhouse of observational wit” (The Spectator)

‘The British media: should we just burn it down?’

"Fifty years ago women were considered outrageous if they appeared in the media in a bikini and only men presented motoring shows. Now a woman in the media is considered lucky if it's only her cleavage - not her labia - on display and ... erm ... it's still only men who get to present motoring shows. TV, radio and UK comedy circuit regular Kate Smurthwaite will talk about the state of the media and her own experiences and call for immediate radical action. Bring battering rams and grappling hooks! The revolution starts here and we will televise it ourselves."

Kate Smurthwaite is a well known feminist activist and campaigner. She is the vice-chair of Abortion Rights UK, an active member of London Feminist Network and the Secular Society and a regular contributor to The F Word Blog. Kate is also a highly regarded British comedienne, having performed more than 2,000 shows including the Bloomsbury Theatre, Soho Comedy Club, Comedy Cafe, Edinburgh Festival, and the New York and Malmo Comedy Festivals. She is currently resident compere at the Soho Comedy Club and the host and writer of London’s most popular live political panel show The Comedy Manifesto. She is also a seasoned broadcaster, contributing to television and radio programmes including BBC Television and BBC Radio 4 and 5 and has hosted shows on a range of UK independent radio stations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

MY Home Town!

[trigger warning] I was born in London and I'm not one for pointless displays of patriotism, but I like London, I like living here and being from here. I was pretty horrified by this video from the BBC though. It's about an exhibition of tattoo art going on. Fair enough. But look at the guy 1m10 in... He describes his London-theme tattoo as featuring "Sherlock Holmes, dead prostitutes and Big Ben". Holy fuck. When did "dead prostitutes" become an ok thing to casually have tattooed on your arm under the heading "London theme"? And the interviewer doesn't stop him or question him. He allows him to carry on talking and describe himself as "an English gentleman". Lets remember lads, all together: real gentlemen don't trivialise the murder of prostituted women. Did that really need saying?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Memorandum to journalists about social media

Hello all. Sorry for the round-robin message, I know it's only a small number of you who are letting the others down but I really think I need to have a word here.

It's about social media. Yes Twitter, Facebook and blogs are exciting new platforms for communication and sharing of information. We can certainly look at them and see what subjects people are discussing. However what we can't do is this: Take one or two specific quotes from members of the public on Twitter, Facebook or a blog and act like that's the nation's opinion.

Let me show you what I mean.

Example 1: An article about Adam Ramsay in the Daily Mail.

"Last night, several messages were posted under Ramsay’s blog by readers mocking his background. One of them pretended to be his mother, writing: ‘Adam darling, We’ve got no caviar left and the staff have taken the day orf... please be a dear and pick some beluga up when you and your Uni chums pop into Fortnums... Mwah, mwah, Mumsy.’"

Stop press! SEVERAL messages? Really so lets say "at least three". Clearly what Ramsay was doing (he was alleged to have been something to do with UK Uncut) was attracting a lot of attention. Lets assume 20,000 people heard of him and his blog. And lets assume five of them wrote something "mocking his background" (I did have a look at the time, that's about right). That would be one in 4,000 people. I'm pretty sure that one in 4,000 people in this country has written to Points of View because they're "morally outraged" by Blue Peter. And at least two in 4,000 go to the pub and try to convince their friends that Elvis is alive and works in Lidl. It's not a measure of national opinion, it's a measure of the random opinions of a tiny handful of people. It hugely smacks of "I've run out of arguments to support my stupid point" and also rather of "I know I'll get my teenage nephew to write something on Twitter and then quote him in the national press".

Example 2: The Sun chucking its toys out of the pram on the proposed Lib Dem Page 3 ban.

"The ploy sparked a wave of fury on Twitter, with one user saying: 'A country full of problems and in desperate need of solutions, and the Lib Dems are voting on banning Page 3. Sheesh!'"

They have exactly one example of this "wave of fury" and it's not even from someone who says they disagree with the measure - its from someone who thinks it shouldn't be a priority. And where is this "wave" really? Twitter uses hashtags (where you write the theme of a comment in the form #Page3 so people can search for it) to allow you to see who else out of their 100 million global users is talking about a particular subject. At noon today I was interviewed on the subject by Wendy Austin from BBC Ulster. She put a post up on Twitter asking people to contact her show with their opinions. That was 14 hours ago and there have been 10 comments about #Page3 since - none of them really expressing "fury". So that's less than one comment per hour from 100 million users! The fairer news story would be to say "there wasn't much reaction on Twitter, most people were still talking about Ashton Kutcher".

Quoting Twitter, Facebook, blogs and social media on news stories is stupid and lazy. It's fair enough to quote a person who is directly linked to the news story. And it's fair enough to discuss overall trends, what were the top subjects discussed or the results of a fairly-conducted, large sample size survey. It's even, arguably, fair enough to publish a selection of responses to a particular issue from social networking sites.

But to quote "a Twitter user" or "a person who made a blog comment" is as ridiculous as saying "a man on the 24 bus said he thought the war in Iraq was a good idea" and "a woman in a blue cardigan in York agreed". It's not news, its propaganda. Stop it.

Thanks very much for your time. All carry on now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ultimate Daily Fail line-by-line

Who would have guessed the Daily Mail would have leapt on the bandwagon of a new film to let women know they need to stop trying to have careers? Yup, me too. Here it is: Women CAN’T have it all: Two thirds of working mums would have to quit their jobs if they couldn’t rely on help from family and friends. Right, but as long as friends and family are happy to help, they won't have to quit their jobs, so then they can "have it all". Right?

And here's the line-by-line...

"In I Don't Know How She Does It, Sarah Jessica Parker just about manages to juggle a job in a financial market firm with being the mother of two children. But she does it with a lot of help from a nanny."

Oh gosh, already I'm angry. Why does she "juggle" a job and kids? Doesn't juggle imply at any moment something's going to get dropped? Couldn't she just HAVE a job and kids? Or even "be busy with" a job and kids? Know any men who "juggle" tax accountancy with golf and a drink problem? Me either.

"Many modern working mothers can't afford personal childcare, though."

Right we should discuss three issues here shouldn't we?
1. Why do we still assume the mother is responsible for the childcare?
2. Why isn't the government doing something to tackle the cost of childcare?
3. Why is women's pay still lagging a long way behind men's and what can be done generally to increase wages?

"Instead they rely heavily on a close-knit circle of up to ten close friends and family to juggle their busy lives."

Juggle! Juggle! Juggle! Stop it already! But yes of course every child benefits from relationships with a range of adults.

"Mums call on their support network, dubbed 'Team Mum', to help out for around ten hours a week as they try to fit everything around their office hours, a survey found."

Ten hours a week is not that much really to have your child minded by others. It's less than two hours a day.

"Their own mothers are the first port of call in emergencies, while friends, neighbours and other children's mums are also likely to be on hand when needed."

Do these kids have fathers? Or has the Daily Mail uncovered human cloning?

"The study, carried out by Tesco Baby, found that 67 per cent of mothers believe they would have to give up work if they didn't receive help from Team Mum."

Why are these people called "Team Mum"? They're actually helping the kids. Just like Mum is.

"Having a close support network saves the average mum £140 a month in childcare costs. That adds up to a saving of £1,680 per year."

Only if we start from the assumption that the mother has to pay personally for 100% of the child-raising costs. What about the value of the child-rising these mothers do?

"The trend was revealed in a study carried out among 2,000 mums by Tesco to launch its 'Help a Mum' campaign."

Yeah the solution is not government action or societal attitude shifts, it's definitely for a major supermarket to launch a "campaign". If Tesco wants to help working mothers why not have creches in every store and sell real high quality food?

"Spokeswoman Lorna Dickinson said: 'Mums work incredibly hard and it's only natural that they rely on other people to help them out."

They rely on other people? Does anybody think that the rest of the world maybe relies a bit heavily on mums? Like to do 95% of the child-rearing for us?

"'Juggling work, meal times, housework and various appointments can be difficult so having a trusted network of reliable people can make a difference.'"

Jugglers work at the circus. But let it be known that Tesco thinks it is women who are responsible for housework...

"The study found mums typically enjoy ten hours of support from their network of friends and family, but one in 20 women has 31 hours of help every week."

Mums ENJOY ten hours of support? No mums enjoy back rubs and meals in nice restaurants. The real issue is mums only get ten hours a week of support. Where the hell are dads?

"Two thirds those who took part in the poll said their own mother was the one person they could not do without, and one third of women said their mother babysits their kids while they are at work."

Where were the questions about the support by the child's father? Where is the corresponding survey asking how tough it can be for working dads?

"Tesco's survey also revealed one in ten relies on their mother-in law's child-minding skills while five per cent get granddad to muck in."

How can these women have mother-in-laws? They don't know any men! Except - we learn - granddad!

"The findings come after Grannynet (a website for 'grannies in the know who are looking after their grandchildren') strayed into helping with childcare."

That sentence doesn't make sense. Not that that makes it look out of place in the Daily Male.

"Midwife Sally Underdown is running classes for members of the website which support the nation’s 7million grandmothers."

I'm not sure all of these 7 million women are using the site.

"Underdown teaches nans about how childcare has changed since they first had children."

Sadly it appears what hasn't changed is the notion that women bear 100% of the responsibility!

"Tesco's study found 40 per cent of mothers said they were part of a mum's network, with most belonging to two support teams."

Stop press! Parents get to know other parents and childminders...

"Around 58 per cent said no one in their support team accepted cash for their efforts."

That's why it's a support team - not an agency.

"But half of the participants said they returned the favour by babysitting for their friends when needed."

Is this news? Really?

"A third of mums said it was far easier to juggle everything when you are a stay-at-home mum as opposed to being a working mother."

I sure hope the other two thirds said "fuck off with your stupid survey, I don't juggle anything".

"And 27 per cent said it was 'impossible' to do everything yourself unless they were 'incredibly organised'."

And what percentage said they felt they ought to do everything themselves? I'm guessing about the same percent as the percentage that take shit they read in the Daily Mail seriously.

"Pippa Wright, mother-of-two and blogger at A Mothers Ramblings said: 'It is incredibly hard for mums working full-time during pregnancy but there are online pregnancy forums if mums are too busy to attend pre-natal classes."

Good. Hopefully these forums will have links to the Employment Tribunal service in case your company discriminates against you or fires you for being pregnant or taking maternity leave. This is amazingly common despite being completely illegal. We should be talking about this.

"'From these forums, I met almost 30 mothers who, after almost eight years, are friends I still rely on for advice."

Woman makes friends with other women in similar circumstance. Stop press. No really.

"'The smallest thing - like a rash - can be panic-inducing for a mum so being able to know another mum has been through the same issue and will respond is a massive weight off your shoulders."

If only there were another parent with whom the mum could share her fears and discuss them. Ah well - I guess one day Daily Mail readers will evolve from asexual to sexual reproduction...

"'Several friends have had to move back closer to their family in order to get help during and after their pregnancies."

Yes childcare is too expensive, women's wages (and wages in general) are too low. I blame the government.

"'Becoming and being a mother can be a difficult journey but as this research highlights, support is always available and mothers and friends should never be afraid to ask for it.'"

But don't ask the father. Just get his dinner ready on the table and practice giving good blowjobs right?

"The study also found a third of women said the hardest aspect of parenting was being a good mother whilst also being dedicated in the workplace."

Hmm - what percentage of fathers worry about being a good father? I'm saying less. So really the problem is living up to unreasonable gender-based expectations.

"But the same proportion said the hardest part of parenthood was keeping the house clean."

And the final third said the hardest part of parenthood was choosing outfits that made the whole family look like The Waltons.

"Nearly three quarters of mums said it would make their life simpler if they had more close family and friends helping them out with day to day errands."

Their own fault for "being afraid to ask for help" I imagine.

"Lorna Dickinson added: 'It's fantastic that mums help other mums out - from babysitting to giving advice and sharing parenting concerns."

Parenting concerns? Like where's that dude who knocked me up?!?

"'Being able to take the weight off their shoulders and having people to turn to is precious and our Help a Mum campaign is all about celebrating mums who help other mums.'"

Not all about getting your brand name in the papers without the inconvenience of paying for an actual advert then?

What's really amazing here is that we have an 800-word article about the difficulties faced by working mothers that NEVER ONCE so much as even mentions the idea that fathers can take responsibility for their children or contribute to their care.

Anytime I write something about the pay gap or the rape conviction rate I get a bunch of angry "MRAs" (so-called men's rights activists) telling me that actually it's men who are discriminated against because they don't get access to their children (like y'know, just cos they've got a couple of domestic violence convictions or something...). Well you want to be considered fully equal co-parents and given assumed shared custody in the family law courts? Maybe you'd like to start by campaigning against this attitude in one of the nation's most-read papers? Get back to me when you've finished and we'll talk.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Infuriating BBC!

Argh! Who allows this sort of thing to go out on air? A woman - Marine Debray - appeared on University Challenge and subsequently received stacks of awful comments and messages on the Internet. The BBC frame it as "is it harder for a woman to be smart?" which is not really the point. It's not her intelligence that made her a target - it's her gender. Women on the Internet - and in real life - get harassed for being ugly, for being attractive, for being smart, for being dumb, for being tall, for being short, for being cheerful, for being angry, etc, etc. Indeed some of the hassle this woman got was from people saying she wasn't smart enough to be on University Challenge - so essentially hassling her for being dumb even though she very obviously isn't.

But then they get their resident "expert" on. I haven't managed to figure out who she is, but she's awful. They ask for her response and she (1) describes the harassment as unsurprising. Well true but that doesn't make it ok and (2) suggests it is the responsibility of Debray herself to "come across" in a way that deters harassment. NO! The responsibility for this lies with the people who posted the abuse. Not the victim. STOP IT! Get the victim-blamers off my screens! And then the BBC turn round and effectively ask Debray to respond to the suggestion that it's all her own fault!

The truth is we should be congratulating Debray on having the gumption to stand up and admit it happens and it's horrid and for drawing attention to the wider issue of sexist abuse on the Internet. Something can be done about it as demonstrated by the jailing of Facebook troll Sean Duffy.

I'll be on BBC Radio Five Live around 11.15pm tonight talking about whether children make our lives complete...!?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Dorries, Lies, etc

I had a piece published in the Huffington Post yesterday about abortion access and Nadine Dorries. Seems like since then there is some good news. But we're not in the clear yet. Please if you haven't written to your MP about this - do so today! It's a two-click process here and you can join Abortion Rights while you're there and support our ongoing work trying to stop women's rights being eroded.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Escaping the Asylum

Some of the awesome women who I teach English to with WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together, a part of Women for Refugee Women) have a photography exhibition, which I've seen - it's incredibly powerful and moving. You can read about it and how to see it in The Observer here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Express Cru

I'm quoted in today's Daily Express espousing the radical notion that women don't like having their arses randomly grabbed by men!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Edinburgh 2011

Hello readers - so I'm up and running again at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe. All the info on my shows and what I'm up to Fringe wise will be over at my News At Kate blog here. Please follow that blog if you're coming up to the Fringe or suggest it to friends who might be interested. Thanks.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pro-choice Pod

I was interviewed for a podcast at the pro-choice demo a couple of weeks ago. You can listen in here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do what I say!

Just a short post but one everyone ought to read for your own safety. So Saturday night I'm coming home from my gig. The bus screeches to a halt - there's been a road traffic accident. A man is lying unconscious in the road in a pool of blood. Various bystanders are trying to help.

Now partly because I was a good girl guide and partly because I have witnessed several similar accidents I know what to do. So I get off the bus and since it's a long straight road and the traffic has stopped in both directions and an ambulance been called I say "Don't move him - he might have a spinal injury - don't move him, don't touch him". Now I am not lacking in a clear audible tone of voice - really - everyone hears me and everyone knows I'm serious.

Immediately a big bloke jumps in and starts moving the guy around. I shout at him to stop, that it's not safe to move him around. He replies "It's alright, love, I know him". Ah yes, the well known spinal injury preventing force field of previous acquaintance... Amazing it's not discussed in medical text books more. I explain again. "I hear you love, I hear ya" he says before grabbing the guy's head and lifting him up six inches by it. Yes he lifted the unconscious bleeding guy up by his head. "What are you doing?" I ask. "Chill out love, I'm not going to move him, I'm just putting a jacket under his head as a pillow" is the angry response.

It would be one thing if the big bloke had asked me to explain further or explained what he thought was a good idea. I would have been all up for explaining my point or asking the 999-ambulance operator for advice. But no, he heard me loud and clear and decided to just wade in and do what he (on the basis of clearly no medical knowledge whatsoever) thought was a good idea. Well if his friend never walks again all I can say is: blame the patriarchy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spot the Culturally Insensitive Difference

So here's the Daily Star's shock horror exposé claiming Ryan Giggs had a "kinky frolic" (I think that means "dance") with a belly dancer:
And here's what an actual belly dancer looks like:

I know lots of women who enjoy belly dancing classes and none of them would describe it as being about "kinky frolics". They do it to keep fit, to feel good about themselves, to maintain a link with their cultural past and a few, occasionally, to entertain - on a stage or in a performance space, in front of a well-behaved mixed or all-female crowd. If there is any audience participation it is usually getting people to join the dance imitating the professional - as a sort of teach-in. Oi tabloids, get your grubby sensationalising hands off of our art forms!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hello America

It appears your news networks think they can feed you any old lies... in case it's not clear (and it's REALLY not) the Pentagon and Citibank were hacked. People effectively broke into their computer systems and downloaded information. A discussion about whether finding out about dodgy corrupt goings on justifies the means used to get hold of the info and whether the info is ending up in the right hands might be interesting to have, but it's not the point. The point is that the News of the World organisation was a hacker - not a victim of hacking, a PERPETRATOR of hacking. Their journalists didn't hack government offices or large banks - they broke into privately owned mobile phones including those of murderer children and dead Iraq war veterans. Yes they broke into dead children's phones and dead soldier's phones. Seems like Fox News has forgotten to mention this in their coverage.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Woman of the Week

I only just found out I won something! Apparently back in April I was Platform 51's Woman of the Week. They also describe me as "absolutely hilarious" and an "amazing supporter" of their work! The week before they gave it to Susan B Anthony so I'm in pretty good company! Thanks.

I'm in the Daily Fail today quoted on rape and whether we are all asking for it by not covering our ankles. If that's to uncomfortable to click on there is a similar set of quotes from me in a similar piece in the Daily India.

And I was on BBC Ulster, TalkSport and BBC Five Live today talking about whether chivalry can be sexist. You can listen again I expect to the Five Live version, its at 11.20pm on the Tony Livesey show - they usually leave them up for a week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cameron's brain-dead perspective

According to a joyfully-written piece in the Daily Mail David Cameron is taking steps to reduce benefits to families with large numbers of children. But he doesn't seem to have twigged that as he punishes those irresponsible parents who have dared to reproduce without thoughtfully going to Eton first, he seems to forget that he's also punishing all eight of their children - eight children who have done nothing wrong and now can't afford to eat. How is it fair to punish those children for their parents being out of a job while Cameron does nothing to improve their economic prospects. Makes me so angry!

In all of his expensive education - did he never read Voltaire's Candide: "Dieu a puni ce fripon, le diable a noyé les autres.". Or indeed "Economics for Dummies"!.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Instant Karma!

Feel good about yourself right now, in your seat/pyjamas/office (delete as applicable, maybe all three). Mr Cru and I are running a 10k in aid of an ace charity that supports women in war-torn Congo (DRC). And you can sponsor me right here right now on this page! Think how good you'll feel when you've done it! And much much appreciated by me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Smurthwaite vs The World

...which frankly I think is what The Big Questions should be renamed when I'm on it! Anyway I was on it this morning and you can watch it for the next week on iPlayer here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Save Poppy Fundraiser tonight!

If you are London-based then please please please come to this awesome fundraiser tonight!

The event: all-female cabaret show featuring former nationwide "Funny Women" winner Debra-Jane Appelby, cabaret star Bunny Morethan, singer/singwriter Becky Rose, plus character comedy from Susan Harrison as Mina the Horse and Aussie star comedienne Celia Pacquola and hosted by feminist comedienne Kate Smurthwaite. Tickets £15 regular, £12 concessions. At The Comedy Pub, 7 Oxenden Street near Picadilly Circus. Doors 8pm, show 8.30pm. [footnote, venue is 18+ and not wheelchair accessible though we will try to help if we can in any way!]

The cause: The Poppy Project is the only dedicated organisation in the UK helping victims of trafficking for sexual purposes. They just lost ALL their government funding which is instead being given to homophobic, anti-choice, fundamentalist Christian organisation The Salvation Army. It's an almighty mess. We urgently need to sort it out!

How to book: go on to the just giving page and make a donation equivalent to (or more than!) the ticket price you want. Either put your name(s) in the "encouragement" box or send us an email telling us your Just Giving username and what tickets you want (you can email me here: We're doing it this way to avoid paying the 9% fee most ticket-sales websites take. But don't worry you really will be on the guest list!!

There might in theory be a few tickets left on the door but please book now if you want to come to make sure you get a ticket and so we know you're coming!

Not paranoid enough about your body?

Angela Epstein* can help. Apparently Cheryl Cole has fat ankles. Yes grab your sick bag (you may also need a magnifying glass to actually spot the "problem"), it's going to get gross. It's going to get gross line-by-line:

"Cheryl Cole and I have never had a great deal in common."

Good point - one of you is a brain-dead vacuous pool of seething hatred towards their fellow humans and the other is Cheryl Cole.

"The X Factor judge is a global superstar with the kind of looks that can bring traffic to a standstill."

Lets not talk about the effect she has on toilet attendants eh?

"I’m a mother of three from Manchester who rarely attracts an admiring glance."

Especially not for your journalism.

"She earns millions of pounds a year; I earn peanuts. You get the picture."

Really? Why debase yourself writing this drivel if you're not well paid for it?

"But after seeing recent pictures of the Geordie singer in the U.S., I realised we share something: cankles."

If only the Daily Fail's website would allow the word to be printed up in tombstone-style lettering?

"The lovely Cheryl may have looked like the perfect pop princess in a perky little dress and sky-scraper heels, but there was no mistaking the unwanted accessory pooling round her feet."

Prepare to vomit. Ready?

Unless a "cankle" is a large amount of someone else's hair glued in to your own to help you make shampoo commercials I really cannot identify the problem here.

"In fact, when I saw the former Girls Aloud singer, I gasped aloud in sympathy."

Think back to ten seconds ago, when you looked at the picture? Did you gasp? No, me either.

"Forget her previous woes (being cuckolded by a philandering former husband or flattened by a dose of malaria), this was worse — much worse."

I'll take the cankles myself, you can keep the malaria, and Ashley Cole.

"And as a cankles sufferer, I should know."

Really to make a fair comparison you have to have also had malaria and been cheated on by a top level footballer.

"Cankles, for the uninitiated (oh lucky, lucky you!), occur when the calf meets the foot in one unapologetic union. It’s a fusion of calf and ankle."

If your calf is not fused to your ankle - seek medical help urgently.

"No elegantly turned, twiglet-thin ankle contours for Cheryl or me. Just one sausage-shaped lump of fat splodged at the bottom of your leg."

There's nothing wrong with Cheryl's legs, really. But even if she had this debilitating deformation, is it really her fault? Should she be pilloried for it?

"Think Hillary Clinton, Cherie Blair, Patsy Kensit and Mischa Barton."

I'm getting: politician, human rights lawyer (actually called Cherie Booth), actress and who the hell is the other one?

"Even the saintly Helen Mirren — who manages to looks stunning in a bikini even though she’s eligible for a bus pass — can’t escape the curse of the cankle."

Is it saintly to look good in a bikini? When did helping the poor and needy go out?

"And my heart just bleeds for her because, unlike any other physical defect — jowls, ugly teeth, a wonky nose, enormous breasts —there’s little you can do about cankles."

Now go outside and ask the first straight guy you see whether enormous breasts are a physical defect? Frankly I tend to find when a gal gets her enormous breasts out everyone stops looking at her wonky nose.

"There is no ointment that can shrink your bones — nor can improving your diet or pounding the gym treadmill really help shrink your ankles in the way they can banish a tummy bulge."

Amputation? Or here's a radical solution, stop worrying about your ankles and focus on world peace.

"As a size ten, I can tell you from painful personal experience that cankles bear little relation to your weight or fitness."

Painful? Really I feel sorry for anyone who pushed themselves to the point of pain because they believed there was something wrong with their size ten ankles.

"After all, Cheryl’s slight frame would suggest she’d be the last person on the planet to exhibit the kind of lower legs usually found on a swollen matriarch down the local bingo hall."

Eww - a "matriarch" - literally a female head of a family - they're the gross ones right?

"In fact — and I try not to seethe with the unfairness of this — I once worked with someone who was as round and bouncy as a TV agony aunt (she even kept a scrunched-up hankie in her hand to complete the look), but come summer, she’d unpeel woolly tights to reveal the daintiest little ankles I’d ever seen."

So she was jealous of you being a size ten and you were jealous of her thin ankles. How the long winter nights must have flown by!

"It didn’t matter how many times a day I’d catch her face-down in a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. The ankles never put on a pound."

I consider smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels a healthy lunch option. But perhaps you could tell your friend to try lifting it to her mouth, biting and chewing. It's quite hard to graze a stuffed bagel.

"No, the only option for the Cankle Crew is to try to hide the damned things."

Or the stop-worrying-and-be-proud-of-the-important-things-that-make-you-great option. Especially if, like Cheryl's, it's a figment of your imagination.

"That is why I’ve spent my life constructing a wardrobe that means my shapeless ankles are out of sight: think thick black tights, loose-fitting trousers and no short, flirty skirts."

Spent a lifetime? Oh well you probably wouldn't have come up with a cure for cancer anyway.

"I dread the summer because that’s the time cankles are almost impossible to conceal — I thank God every sunny day for the maxi-dress: the ultimate in cankle camouflage."

By the way if you're going to play that game - God also gave you the cankles. Or you just evolved that way - though "evolved" seems a little kind for someone who writes rubbish like this.

"Selecting the right footwear is as critical as your clothes. Forget gladiator sandals or dainty ballet pumps. Flat shoes only serve to accentuate fat ankles."

They also serve to make it a heck of a lot easier to get around without developing a massive painful bunion.

"Instead, I live in long, slim-fitting, high-heeled boots — the column of black providing a cankle-disguising optical illusion. I keep these on even when the thermometer nudges 70 degrees."

That must be fun for you. I wear jelly shoes and flip flops and though no doubt this makes my ankles look disgusting at least my face isn't wrinkled up in agony.

"When I do buy high heels, I always select ones with an ankle strap or one across the foot to distract from the flesh beneath."

Why buy high heels when you "live" in boots? Unless, could it be? Is it possible? The Daily Mail has printed a LIE?!!

"I have a favoured pair of black stilettos with heels like a giraffe’s neck and a strap that garottes the skin and leaves a pink welt."

Why not accessorise the pink welt with a matching clutch bag? Perhaps one filled with some sort of medicine that helps you make more rational decisions.

"At times my feet go blue though lack of circulation. But what choice do I have?"

Trainers? Crocs?

"It’s the nearest I can get to ankle corsetry, squeezing the damned things into a shape that Nature denied them."

Really - there are people out there with spina bifida and you're complaining Nature gave you fat ankles?

"Any other tips? Well, I’m told that toning the calves may help — perhaps going on long walks or cycling to shift those fat deposits around the lower leg.And go easy on the salt. Too much sodium can make certain parts of your body bulge, especially your ankles."

But only a few lines ago NOTHING could be done. Now I can switch to a low-sodium diet and go cycling?

"Sitting around for hours (me in front of a computer; Cheryl in front of the next Mariah Carey) can cause blood to pool round the feet and enhance the swelling."

I balance my desk time out by also spending time with my feet over my head, doing yoga or having headboard damaging sex...

"So it’s important to get up every 20 minutes or so to stretch your legs."

But remember NOTHING will work. How can I get up every 20 minutes when MY LIFE IS RUINED?

"If the only thing for it is the plastic surgeon’s knife, some clinics offer laser-assisted liposuction of the lower leg."

Yet another thing I CAN DO? It's like this whole article is just lies!

"An incision is made in the skin and light from the laser is absorbed by fat cells, liquefying them so they can be flushed out by the body."

Sadly surgery can only remove actual problems (tumours, diseased organs), not imaginary ones. Also you might get an infection or take too much anaesthetic and die. Obviously that would be better than having imaginary fat ankles.

"For the more squeamish, the internet is crammed with magic creams and potions promising to fight cankle fat."

OK so I checked - I googled "magic creams and potions for cankle fat". The first result is Ms Epstein's article. Above that it says "did you mean magic creams and potions for ankle fat?". Neither search offers any specific product for ankles and most links are discussing how there is no magic cream that can get rid of fat.

"Do any of these treatments work? I doubt it. As far as I can tell, our hideous little problem is incurable and one we will take to our graves."

"Incurable"? That would imply it's an illness wouldn't it? And look back at the picture of Cheryl and try to decide her ankles are "hideous". What a load of rubbish.

"So my best advice, Cheryl, pet, is simply to take heart from the fact that very few women have it all. If cankles are all you’ve got to worry about, consider yourself blessed."

As you mentioned earlier Angela - she also has malaria and a husband that sleeps around.

"But take it from me: a short skirt, bare legs and heels? I’m afraid it’s not your most flattering look, any more than it’s mine."

Remember women - you should only ever go around in YOUR MOST FLATTERING LOOK. Never the thing you want to wear, the thing that you feel good in, the thing that's comfortable and practical or (like me) the thing that passes the sniff test in the morning! And let me conclude by saying Angela that even from here you DEFINITELY do not pass the sniff test. If they pay you peanuts - it's too much. Stop writing pointless nasty articles and shopping for maxi-dresses and do something useful with your life!

*Angela and I did the Jeremy Vine show together once before, I forget what it was about but I do remember congratulating her on her sense of irony after she told me women like me were setting the cause of women's equality back decades. Ha ha ha.