How to Embrace Your Inner Bitch.

Farmer Farthing over at the Asylum recently described how a run-in with a bottle of vodka awoke the Kraken within. I nodded in sympathy. Everybody has one.

Once again, Mrs Playmo had failed to put her Inner Bitch on a lead.

Once again, Mrs Playmo had failed to put her Inner Bitch on a lead.

Meet your Inner Bitch.

She’s raw, she’s rough and she makes Ridley Scott’s Alien look as scary as Yogi Bear. We are brought up to ignore her, yet we don’t listen to her often enough. She tells us what we don’t want to hear – she’s our inner voice, our gut feeling, our deep-seated instinct.

Inner Bitch is Gollum’s little sister,  jealously guarding your most secret fears. Naked, unkempt and rebellious, she keeps away from the light, crouching in the corners of your mind and flitting through the dark shadows of your consciousness. At nightfall, she grabs her bag, slams the door and gets the lift to your mind. She parties drunkenly in your dreams and lets rip with her high-pitched screams, appealing to you through the mists of sleep to say things her way. You refuse. As the day dawns, she stomps back to her cave, where she kicks off her scruffy Doc Martins, crouches on the floor in her underwear and flicks cigarette ash into a dirty coffee cup. She mutters obscenities and calls you a loser as she observes you smiling through gritted teeth at someone she wishes you would hang upside down off the nearest lamp-post with their underwear on their heads. If only you would listen to her…

My genetic heritage has rewarded me with 1) an exploded brillo pad growing on my head and 2) a multifarious character combining four contradictory elements: English stoicism, Scottish candour, Irish hot-headedness and Welsh stubbornness.

A rare picture of the author to prove that I'm not kidding about the brillo pad. My kids call me Chewbacca.

A rare shot of the author, fondly referred to as  “Chewbacca” by her offspring. Just to prove that I’m not kidding about the brillo pad…

Below this thick coat of hair there is an ideal habitat for my drooling, rabid inner bitch, who is waiting for that one ideal moment to rear her ugly head, known as

The Fuckwit Vortex

We’ve all been sucked into the fuckwit vortex at some point in our lives. Fuckwit is a term I first read in Helen Fielding’s book Bridget Jones’ Diary, and describes a fool or an idiot. We all know a fuckwit, and we are all somebody else’s fuckwit, no matter how hard we try.

For reasons that elude you, someone, consciously or not, is doing their best to goad your Inner Bitch into a conflict. You put on your best deadpan face in the full knowledge that she is foaming at the mouth. Seething and bubbling like a lake of lava behind your mask of self-control. You visualise the words “Off” “Water” “A” “Back” “Duck’s”, and “Wrongs” “Right” “Two” “Make” “A” “Don’t”, and encourage yourself to assemble them in the right order and repeat as necessary until symptoms subside. This “ignore it and it will go away” policy, otherwise known as putting your head in the sand, doesn’t work every time. But fear not, dear reader. We have a secret weapon:

The two-way fuckwit filter

A fuckwit filter, also known as taking a step back, filters the majority of negative fuckwit frequency input. This substantially reduces the amount that reaches Inner Bitch in her cave. When the negative vibes attain her, she bounds up to the access hatch with wild eyes, hair flying and saliva dripping off her chin, only to be caught in the fuckwit filter.

1953 Ad, E Z Kleen Air Filters

If the fuckwit filter could be bought, it would look like this.(Photo credit: classic_film)

Oh frabjous day! Caloo, calay! The fuckwit filter saves the day! Or not. Overpowering the inner bitch, muzzling her and putting her back in her cage cannot work for ever. So here is another simple method:

Embrace your inner bitch.

Accommodate her voice and modulate it into a polite form. You can even tinge it with a touch of humour to spice it up if you so wish – this is commonly called sarcasm. Watch the grin spread across your inner bitches face. She will clap her hands with glee, leap into her armchair and grab a bucket of popcorn to enjoy the show, because you finally gave her some air space. Amaze yourself as you deliver a softer version of her first draft. Like in music, you can choose the beat and the melody : hard rock, love song, folk or blues. John Lennon, Metallica or the Muppets: the choice is yours and yours only.

This does however demand a great amount of self-control. It is often confused with the very dangerous third option:

Letting the bitch loose.

Woe betide the girl who lets Inner Bitch run amok – if she escapes into the room, she can cause more havoc than Samantha Fox running around the Vatican in her birthday suit.

This often happens when events are taken over by the only other threat to humanity: Herr Hormone and his henchmen (more about him here). When the bitch hooks up with Herr Hormone, she explodes out of your mouth like Godzilla with a skinful of Jack Daniels and steroids. She rips the truths out of your innards, whizzes them together and vomits them into the room, then returns to her cave and punches the hell out of your stomach wall. This is the worst possible option, because irreparable damage occurs and feelings are hurt. Including yours. From now on you are alone with Inner Bitch, and neither of you will gain any more than solitude from the escapade.

Little Bitch

This girl let her inner bitch escape. She was immediately devoured with ketchup and her shoes were given to Oxfam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So get in touch with your inner bitch, but don’t confuse it with being a bitch. The first is good for you, the second is self-destructive. Inner Bitch really is your best friend. If she is happy, so are you: it’s a win-win situation. Just remember to put her on a lead when you take her out for a walk.

My thanks to Farmer Farthing, aka Welly Girl, for inspiring this post. Welly Girl is a terminally good egg: a ray of sunshine in any grey day. Her blog is a fabulous cocktail of fun, fiction and reality checks. She has a refreshingly different way to cut the proverbial crap, and you should check her out here and now at

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Gizmo, the Smarty-Pants Phone.

English: "Stripe" Gremlin figure, le...

Never get water on Gizmo the smart phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three weeks before my birthday, Norbert the Nokia kindly decided that I no longer needed the bottom row of keys, lined up like baby teeth at the bottom of my handset. From that moment onwards, I was condemned to only phoning the numbers that were already stashed away in Norbert’s memory, and I crossed my fingers that he would not suffer from amnesia as well as paralysed digits.

But that’s not all. I also had to get my head around a texting world that was devoid of the letters W, X, C, V,  B, M, and N. Texting became as easy as simultaneously whistling and cleaning your false teeth – it was like playing Scrabble with half the letters missing from the box. By the time I had found a synonym that did not need any of the missing letters, the person I was supposed to pick up at the bus stop had given up and walked home.

The major disadvantage of being deprived of these letters was that I was suddenly incapable of refusing anything to my children at distance, as I had no way to type the word “no” in a text message, whatever language I used. The absence of an immediate refusal was therefore interpreted as a tacit consent.

I can hear you all from here. “Why didn’t you just phone them?” I hear you ask. Simple. Using a phone to talk with parents went out with the arc (even if this was the only viable argument they had for buying the thing). When we parents call our offspring, we are generally greeted by the answering machine – taking a call from your mother on the school bus is as high on the humiliation scale as showing a pimple on your backside to your family GP.

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Gertrude and Doris enjoyed calling their children on their mobiles and muttering “I am your Mother” through their gas masks. (Photo credit: Foxtongue)

A teenager’s mobile phone could be defined as an alarm clock that allows its owner to play games, communicate with friends (by text message only), listen to music and avoid being spoken to by the kid in your class who wants to go out with you when waiting alone at the bus stop. It is also an ideal means to reverse those parent – offspring roles and keep constant track of your genitors – a bit like Argos transmitters on migratory birds. When I leave the house at the weekend, I have approximately ten minutes of freedom before the tracking squad kicks in with regular calls demanding where I am and what time I will be back. This makes me feel like a fifteen-year-old girl who’s been caught sneaking out the back door in her sister’s high heels and sequined boob tube when I’m just on a mission to fill the fridge for the second time in three days.

Anyway, I digress. When PF, Bigfoot, Little My and Rugby Boy took me off to choose my new phone for my birthday, I was a happy cookie. My offspring pointed excitedly at ultra thin phones – the technological equivalent of Paris Hilton after a run-in with a steam roller. The things just oozed sexiness, and when I saw the price label I realised why – they’d had enough microchip surgery to keep them looking young until the next model elbowed them off the telecommunications catwalk into early retirement six months later.

A salesman cruised around the corner and mooched over to us. Flashing a pearly white smile, he smoothly ran off the characteristics of the über-sexy model in his hand. When he stopped for breath, I asked, “So, does it phone?” He drew himself up to his full height – somewhere around my belly button. “Yes, madame. You can also takes pictures and videos, surf the web, get the weather all over the world, the news…” When he had finished, I asked: “Does it do the washing-up and bring me breakfast in bed too?”

He blinked. I explained that although it may appear strange, I don’t have an internet package for my phone – I actually enjoy the freedom of not being followed by social media and emails when I’m out. I just needed a phone that phones. I pointed behind him to a bright red candy-bar that could survive being dropped in the Atlantic, thrown off a cliff and run over by a tank. This little beauty had probably been designed by Playschool, and would survive well after the scorpions had kicked the bucket in the Apocalypse. I quickly found myself imagining the scene – I would tuck it under my lycra knicker elastic and be the new Lara Croft, albeit with less generous boobs and extra padding on my bottom half, bounding around the scorched remains of the earth. Yeah. The only girl with a phone that would work to call the President when the other survivor, Bruce Willis, got the network up and running…

The iStone: at the cutting edge of technology.

The iStone: at the cutting edge of technology.

Little My shook her head and dragged me out of my dream to show me another phone. Her siblings agreed: this was the real McCoy. And ever since, I have been the adoptive mother of Gizmo. Gizmo is a smart phone who is too big to fit in my jeans pocket but small enough to disappear in my handbag. He’s not just a smart phone, he’s a smarty-pants phone. His insatiable need for attention has driven me to lobotomise him by depriving him of his lifeline to the internet router after more disturbances than I care to mention. A night with a teething child is probably more restful than a night with a phone that pops its cheek at you through the dark every time someone on the other side of the world posts a picture of their lunch on Facebook.

Gizmo is obviously a man – he is very touchy-feely, and constantly requests stroking and TLC. Like a Gremlin, Gizmo must be kept away from water at all costs. Whereas I could just wipe my hands on my jeans and press the button to take a call with Norbert when I was peeling the spuds, Gizmo has to wait until I’ve washed and dried my hands before I can tend to his needs. When he rings in my pocket and it’s raining, I find myself reassuring him that I will release him from the dark just as soon as I find a dry place to stand. The idea of him getting covered in warts, and evil baby smart phones popping up all over the place scares the hell out of me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go… Gizmo’s ringing.

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Tuning in to Radio Badger.

My phone startled me out of my work on Sunday. There was a young Frenchman on the line who made an effort to pronounce my name correctly, and politely requested five minutes of my time for a survey to establish which radio stations the French population enjoyed. As I was working on a Sunday too, I felt sorry for him. I decided to break my vow to reply “Bugger off and find yourself another victim”, and said “yes”. (nb: Kathryn, I did you proud! )

Italiano: Radio Marea (1950)

Italiano: Radio Marea (1950) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think he was surprised by my answer. We are not on the same wavelength about radio stations in my family, leading to regular fighting over the twiddler on the radio. (Yes, I know that word doesn’t exist. Or didn’t. It does now.) We don’t listen at the same volume, either. (I thought that it was older people who needed to turn the volume up high, yet the opposite phenomenon occurs in our home).

NRJ is the kids’ favourite radio station. I can’t stick listening to it most days, although I would maybe admit after a few G&T’s, breathing in a balloon full of helium and sticking a 40 denier stocking over my head that Manu does makes me laugh in the morning.

PF listens to classic FM. This transforms a short family car trip into a long torture session. For my offspring, it is the auditive equivalent of having cocktail sticks slid under their nibbled teenaged nails. The boys whip out the teenager’s equivalent of musical earplugs for instant relief, whilst Little My wrinkles her nose and rolls her eyeballs in despair.

The last time PF did it, we were on our way out for the day. The tinkling piano music in the car deadened my senses and made me feel like I was in an airbus rather than a Citroën. My enthusiasm for the day waned as I saw myself transmogrified into a kind of Alice-banded member of the Parisian bourgeoisie, twin-setting her way across impoverished Provence in her private plane to show little Charles-Henri how lucky he was to be born with a silver ladle stuck up his Burberry-clad rear end.

I tried very hard to resist, but on arrival at our destination, I cracked. Pinching my nose closed, I held my mobile phone skew-whiff in front of my mouth with my little finger sticking out sideways, and launched into a loud Air France trolley dolly announcement. Imagine Pam Ann with a French accent, and you’ve got it (there’s a video for you at the bottom).

“Lay deezeuh andeuh Dgenteulmen. We ‘ave landeed een Lamaloueuh-les-Baings hairporteuh. Ze wezzeur eez fiyn. Pleeaseuh reemaineuh een yor seets unteel ze haircrafteuh ‘as stoppt mooveeng, andeuh be kairefool when openeeng zee over’edd lockeurs. Sank yio fore flyeeng MM hair-lines, an we ‘opeuh to see you agin soon”.

PF tried to look unimpressed, but the laugh escaped along with his opinion that we were all Philistines.

If I’d been alone, I would have tuned in to local radio. Here in the South of France, my radio is set on “Radio Badger” as soon as the kids leave for school. I call it “Radio Badger”, because the first time I came across it, the announcer had run all the words into each other, and combined with his strong accent, “Radio Bleue Hérault” turned into “Radio Blaireau”: “Radio Badger”.


The queue of candidates for Radio Badger’s phone-in competition read up on their encyclopedias as they waited for the final clash. (Photo credit: Clapagaré ! (Les chiquitos)

Radio Badger is the bee’s knees for anyone who enjoys observing human nature. The phone-in competitions are hair-raisingly nerve-wracking. Two housewives, both entrenched in the organza-curtained living rooms of their Wimpey homes, clutch their receivers in sweaty, manicured hands as they battle to the death to win one of two prizes. These are usually a Radio Badger watch or a ticket to see one of their geriatric French idols crooning through his false teeth at his last concert in Sète.

What is important to them is to win, because all their friends from the knitting club are listening in and they don’t want eggs Benedict on their faces for the next WI sale. The clock ticks as they hesitate before breathlessly delivering their reply, whether it is the name of the river running through Pezenas or how many Front Populaire strikers enjoyed boeuf bourgignon every Tuesday back in 1935.

This week, both candidates were disappointed. Alice lost the game as she wasn’t able to say who dubbed Columbo’s voice in the French version of the series. Régine won, but she didn’t want the Radio Badger radio because she had already won one a month ago. She didn’t want the latest CD of Maxime Le Forestier, either. She grumbled and said that she would have preferred the Gypsy Kings (no doubt desirous to twirl around her kitchen in her 1950’s pinny, using a pancake pan as a guitar and the washing-up brush as a microphone).

The man organising the competition was a born negotiator and moderator. He suggested phoning back again on another day when she could maybe win what she wanted. After twenty years negotiating with disappointed Languedoc housewives, he could no doubt settle current discord in Turkey by distributing complimentary Radio Badger oven gloves to all concerned. Radio Badger rocks. Before we go back to the studio for the news, here’s Pam Ann, complete with PF’s airbus music.