Thursday, 28 February 2008

Good Neighbour or Atrocious Snob?

As I was getting ready to go out this morning, I couldn't help but notice three large, scruffy and unattractive dark-haired women on my street. They stood out because it's not that kind of street. My street is full of women who insist on being blonde, trendy and tanned, regardless of whether or not these things a) are natural or b) constitute a good look for them. If there's a non-blonde scruffbag about, the chances are that it's me.

c. EssJayinNZ courtesy of Flickr

Anyway, I assumed that they were just out leafleting, or collecting catalogues, and thought no more of it. When I opened my door to go to the car though, I saw a similar looking lady having a good look in my next door neighbour's letter box. She definitely didn't put anything in there, just had a nosey around and moved on. This was even odder, especially as there had been no leaflet or catalogue pushed through my letterbox today.

As I drove around the corner, I saw yet another one, sporting more huge gold hoop earrings than is generally considered acceptable, even around here. By that point, there was only one conclusion in my mind - the pikeys were in the area, having a nosey around and looking for stuff to steal.

This gave me a bit of a dilemma, and no small amount of soul-searching. Which would be worse - to alert the police and risk being completely wrong and exposed as an appalling snob of the highest order? Or not to tell anyone, and feel awful if I later found out that a neighbour had been burgled or had their car stolen?

Were the women really just leafleting - was the second lady just perhaps a supervisor checking up on whether the leafleting had been done properly? Was I simply reflecting the local obssession with the (alleged) thieving antics of our neighbouring community of Irish Travellers?

Am I an appalling snob of the highest order? Has the unthinkable happened, and I have become a tedious, middle-class curtain-twitcher?

What would I even say to the police? 'Excuse me officer, but there are some fat, ugly women on my street, wearing far too much hideous gold jewellery'?

It's hardly an attractive sentiment, is it?

Still, the Community Support Officers have been round, and all is quiet at the moment. Perhaps next time, I'll just call the Fashion Police instead.

What would you have done?

Monday, 25 February 2008

All dried up...

I am sorry to inform that you that I am currently addled with both hormonal nonsense and chronic insomnia. And as a result, I can barely string a sentence together, and I've got nothing for you. Nothing.

However, the thoroughly lovely Gypsy recently stumbled across a fine example of the 'Vitriolic Open Letter' genre that I am so very fond of myself. It's old, but I've never seen it before, and as a quick bit of Googling revealed that the lady in question, Wendi Aarons is a Blogspot blogger herself, it seemed appropriate to give it some more publicity. I laughed my tits off...she is hilarious.


An Open Letter to James Thatcher, Brand Manager, Proctor and Gamble

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my "time of the month" is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period."

Are you fucking kidding me?

What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and KahlĂșa and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong"? Or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Wendi Aarons
Austin, TX

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Bloggers For Charity

Some lovely bloggers have come up with a great idea.

Peach from Peach, Sarah from He Loves Me Not, Ariel from From Fuck Up To Fab, Ms R from Woman of Experience and Vi from Village Secrets) are putting together a book for WARCHILD written by bloggers. They would like you to submit a written piece about something you’ve been through from any aspect of your life that you want to share, to

It can literally be about anything: your relationships, your past, a road not taken, being a parent, an illness or your regrets etc. They’ve called it “You’re Not The Only One” to reflect the camaraderie of blogging.

There are a few simple rules, and these are as follows:

  • You must be a blogger with a live blog.
  • It must be about something you’ve been through, amusing or serious or any style you like.
  • You can submit in your blogname and remain anonymous, or not, up to you.
  • It can’t be something previously published outside the blogworld, but anything from your blog, or something entirely new, is fine.
  • Try to keep below 1500 words.
  • You must pimp the book on your site and buy it if you make a submission to be in it!
  • DEADLINE IS 29th FEBRUARY 2008 for submissions.
  • Send your submissions to

Proceeds will go to WARCHILD and the book will be published through This is a no upfront fee internet publishing site who will take £4.70 per book sold if it is no longer than 200 pages. The book is to be priced at £9 so £4.30 will go to straight to the charity.

For further details, the original post can be found here.

Given that the bestseller list is currently packed out with misery memoirs, I'm hoping you're all going to buck the trend by submitting something very amusing indeed.

Consider the book well and truly pimped...

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

DNA Dating: A Service Not To Be Sniffed At?

Dear Dr Eric Holzle-Egg-Head,

I have read about your new DNA-based dating agency Scientific Match with interest, amusement, and no small degree of frustration.

A dating agency that uses swabs of cheek spit to analyse a customer's DNA, working to a theory that we are inclined to sniff out mates whose immune system's genes are different from our own? An easy target, surely?

A whole week later, I am forced to admit defeat.

I am almost entirely unable to write a reasoned piece showing exactly why your methods are insidious pseudo-scientific bollocks, designed to create maximum profits from minimal evidence. And believe me, I have tried.

Even my learned scientist friend, MadCow Ph.D. - who, I swear, knows everything - couldn't take it apart. She informed me that 'It is true that there may be something in the "smell" thing', although she did add 'I think you need to be in the same room'. She also muttered something about being 'a great way to meet some real wankers', but we digress...

Let's have a look at the packaging though.

You're quite open about the fact that you are not a chemist by education or training. You are, in fact, an engineer. You don't say what type, but you clearly know what people think about dating engineers. I've been down that road before now, and believe me, you are quite right to take the first shot at that one.

Let's be frank, it's a much quoted truism in university engineering departments and engineering firms - I've worked in both, never, ever again - that even clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste. Unless you're pitching for commerical business, in which case, your secretary will be required to dress you before you leave the building.

And let's not forget the engineers' classical view of the physical differences between men and women.

And you want us to give you $2,000 to solve our dating issues?

Still, in my experience, engineers are generally quite bright in their own, unique way, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one too.

I'm intrigued by the idea that women have better orgasms when properly matched to a DNA-compatible partner. How do you test for this, exactly?

When I lived in Cambridge, I used to earn myself some extra cash by pimping myself out to postgraduate research students as a guinea pig for their experiments - at £10 a go, it was reasonably lucrative, cash-in-hand evening work.

None of them ever asked me to submit some cheek spit, have sex with a number of men of their choosing, and then rate the quality of the orgasms - several times, of course, to control for the fact that scientific results must be consistent and repeatable. Still, there's only so far £10 will go, even for a poorly-paid music graduate from the wrong side of the town/gown divide.

I'd also challenge the hypothesis that DNA-matching will return a compatibility with 20% - 30% of the population. I've been to parties and bars where well over 100 people have been present, and have failed to find even one that I'd have taken home, never mind 20 - 30. Perhaps I just went to the wrong parties. Oh hang on, I used to spend too much time around engineers...

It seems that the rest of the $2,000 life membership fee goes towards personality profiling, just like any other dating agency.

Given that a high proportion of the population seem to believe in their compatibility with 2 or 3 particular star signs, you could also look at starting your own astrological dating agency - the odds of success appear to be reasonably similar.

Alternatively, heading towards the shallower end of the gene pool, how about an agency where all the women are young, slim and attractive, all the men are rich, and no-one's IQ is over 105? That should definitely work...particularly in some areas, like our very own Canvey Island, where, if the rumours are true, finding many examples of differing DNA may prove to be more of a challenge than you originally bargained for.

I've got to ask though - if the service is so effective, why on earth would anyone be needing a life membership? If it's that good, I would have thought that if you're not happily married, and enjoying the best orgasms you've ever had within 6 months, nothing short of a full refund should be in order?

Still, in all my years of opinionated carping and bitching about marketing and advertising-related bollocks, this is possibly the best wheeze I've ever seen. I'm a huge fan of true entrepreneurship, and you have spotted and seized a niche market and garnered a remarkable amount of positive publicity in a very short space of time.

Very well done, sir. A+, A* - or whatever it is you get for being a smart arse these you.

Kind Regards,

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

My Anti-Valentine

I had just got my Valentine's Day rant perfectly planned out, when Charlie Brooker went and wrote this, which, whilst brilliant, has made me feel hopelessly inadequate in the area of vitriolic invective. So, I had to rethink, and this is what you get at short notice...

I firmly believe that much of our day-to-day malcontentment is caused by a gap between expectations and reality. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our approach to Valentine's Day.

If you are single, then the whole thing is unbearably awful, for obvious reasons. You just want to go about your everyday business, yet every conceivable shop plasters itself with hearts and teddies, desperately seeking some red-hot Valentine-fuelled spending action. It's as though the whole world belongs to a club to which you are denied access, and it's not funny.

If you're in a relationship, then you have several obstacles to negotiate. Over the last few days, some of my favourite bloggers have been describing the awfulness in brilliantly graphic detail. Charlie Brooker's rant covers the expectation gap perfectly; Ms R provided a hilarious account of competitve rose-hauling between the girls in the office, whilst Maria over at Just Eat Your Cupcake nearly made me spit my tea with her account of the nonsense that her daughter's school are insisting on...

Where I live, Trophyism definitely rules supreme. A woman who keeps herself within the 'thin, blonde, tanned and manicured' parameters of the Essex Trophy Wife template expects (no, deserves, she would insist) no less than a brand new item for her Tiffany collection and dinner at The Ivy.

The wise and well-trained husband would do well to take note that in this case it's definitely the thought that counts - not his thought, no - the thought that this will show all those posh cows from Surrey at his City office that their flirtations with him are in vain, meaningless, he's hers dammit, and she's got another Tiffany ring to prove it...

This year, The Husband and I have concluded that, since we are still fortunate enough to have more sense than money, we're boycotting the whole thing. I fully expect that this will be the nicest and most relaxed Valentine's Day I have had since February 14th, 2002.

In 2002, I was working in an office that had a particularly strong anti-Valentine's vibe going on, due to the number of women there who had recently suffered a painful screwing over. I was one of them. No competitive comparisons of roses were permitted in our department that year - anyone who found themselves called down to reception to return with flowers faced a barrage of obscene hand gestures over the cubicle screens, accompanied by a lusty chorus of 'Oh, Just Fuck OFF!

No exceptions were made on the grounds of age, seniority, gender or sexual orientation...the smugger they were, the harder we jeered. It was fun.

When I got home that evening, I poured myself a gin and sat down in search of a TV programme unrelated to Valentine's Day. Before I found one, my flatmate H arrived home. H's luck with men had been just as awful as mine recently, and I think we'd both reached the stage of waking up on a Sunday morning wondering what kind of of manky specimen we were going to find in the kitchen this week...anyway, he said exactly what I needed to hear. 'Fuck them all darling - we are not staying in feeling sorry for ourselves on Valentine's Day, let's go out to dinner'.

A quick change of clothes later, off we went. We had a lovely meal in a Persian restaurant in South Kensington, where we scoffed at the poor mugs buying over-priced roses from the restaurant table muggers. We drank far too much wine, and then decided to test H's theory that you can say almost anything you like to a soppy couple on Valentine's Day as long as the man looks as though he is on a promise for an excellent night that might include a little extra something that he doesn't normally get. Our reasoning was that he's not going risk his luck by getting into a fight with a drunk gay man and his equally sloshed 5' 3" female companion.

Cheap pleasures admittedly, but still - so much more satisfying than getting a crappy 'joke' card and box of Ferrero Rocher. Or even worse, a creepy card or e-mail from the ex that you'll always be ex-directory for...

So, if you find yourself wanting to shout something other than 'Get a Room' at sloppy, slurping couples this Thursday, might I suggest the following for starters.*

'That's OK, you carry on, you clearly need the practice'
'No diamond ring? Oh bad luck...but still, it's a leap year you know.'
'I've had him - he was crap'

Happy Anti-Valentine's Day.

*Melissaria accepts no responsibility for any injuries sustained as a result of the above.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Splash Therapy

All things considered, it's been a bit a of a crappy week.

This is nothing new, just the usual February blues - Christmas is long gone, Spring is still too far away and the evenings and mornings are still dark and miserable. All that, and the whole Valentine's Day lunacy too - February is not my favourite time of year.

So, in the hope that a bit of weak, late-winter sun and some cold, fresh air would blow away some of the lingering malcontentment that makes me a rancid, horrible February ratbag, I packed the boy into the car this morning, and set off to our local butterflies, birds & wildlife place.

The boy, perhaps sensing my mood, sat in his buggy with politeness and good grace all the way around the tropical butterfly house, smiling and pointing obligingly in all the right places. He wasn't keen on the very loud squawking parrots - a shame, because Charlie the chattering Lory bird is a scream when he gets going - so we had to push on and out of the aviary.

(I wonder if the staff know that Charlie often says 'What's this? What's this? That's shit...' to the gathered pre-schoolers?)

Next up was Pet's Corner, where it seemed like a good enough opportunity to get him out of the buggy and let him have a walk. He chased the chickens, poked at the guinea pigs, and finally, we wandered off into Wallaby Paddock.

And that was when he saw it.

The huge, filthy puddle, lying straight ahead, right in the middle of the path.

'It's OK', I said. 'You've got your wellies on, that's what they're for - off you go'. He didn't need telling twice.

Today, I learned that there is no pleasure on earth to match that experienced by a one-year-old splashing in a puddle for the very first time. I nearly cried with laughter, as he danced, stamped, stomped, splashed, giggled and squealed and the filthy water sloshed all over the pair of us.

As an inexperienced, first-time parent of a toddler, I tend to find that these new experiences often teach me something new on a practical level - so here are today's lessons:

1. All the exciting, hoppity-hop action of an entire, free-roaming mob of tame wallabies is as nothing compared to the unadulterated joy to be had from one good, muddy puddle.

2. Any expedition that involves wellies will also necessitate a change of clothes. This is crucial, because...

3. must choose trousers that will stay tucked in the wellies. The mid-splash-wardrobe-malfunction/no-spare-clothes combination is disastrous!

Bring on the April showers - I'm off out to get myself some new wellies, and get in on the Splash Therapy!

Photo courtesy of Flickr/sierraromeo

Monday, 4 February 2008

Corporate Cowpat Awards 1

From time to time, I fall into the inevitable trap of feeling as though I am very much 'stuck' at home with my boy and longing for involvement in the outside, adult world of work. This is thoroughly irrational, because I only ever had one good, music-related job that I enjoyed - all the rest have made me feel as though I was about to lose the plot...

Still, every so often, an absolute gem of a Corporate Cowpat flops down from the sky, and makes me realise that I'm far better off where I am, because work is clearly where a lot of very stupid people hang out...

Last week, the Golden Cowpat award went to UK high street retailer Woolworths, for trying to flog a little girls' bed by naming it Lolita.

It's not so much the unfortunate brand name that made me laugh, nor the flustered ruffling of feathers that it caused among the mums' internet forum whose complaints led to the product's eventual withdrawal. It was the following explanation given by a spokesperson for the company.

"The staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita and to be honest no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we know who she is now."

Well thank goodness for that.

Perhaps now, the newly-enlightened Woolworths staff, and uptight mums' forum users might care to take a second look at this Bratz 'twin baby doll' product still on sale in Woolworths. Yes, you read it correctly. Twin BABY dolls. With matching twin buggy & sexy lingerie, slutty make-up, and frankly filthy pouts.

Once they have done so, perhaps they would tell me if they still believe they picked the right sexualised product to get all het up about?

Whilst I'm on the subject of corporate horseshit, here's someone else who should be sacked immediately; the person responsible for corporate communications at Percepta. They recently ran a job ad in our local paper containing the following delightful examples of contemporary jargon:

'Percepta UK is an innovative and progressive customer relationship management organisation who are seeking key people to champion our values and whose primary focus is to deliver quality customer service'

Well that was snappy - I'm hooked already, do tell me more...oh, I see, you want someone to be responsible for...

'Designing, developing and delivering operational learning solutions aligned to business objectives...'

Ah. Someone to do your training then...why didn't you just say so? I'm still not sure what you actually do, although I'm getting a very good picture of the type of employee you're looking for.

In the meantime, please step forward to receive your Corporate Cowpat Special Award for 'The Week's Best Bit of Buzzword-Loaded Bollocks'.

My sincerest congratulations to these shining examples of how to reach the bottom of the business barrel and keep on digging. Ricky Gervais is probably writing a brand new BAFTA, Emmy & Golden Globe-winning script in your honour as we speak.