My inspiring women

Despite my whinge binge over at Get Into This earlier, I actually like International Women’s Day. It’s one of the few official “days” that doesn’t have the gift and card industry attached, which makes a change. To celebrate IWD this year I compiled my list of women who inspire me the most right now. Here goes.

  1. Hillary Clinton.IWD Hillary
    Hillary’s going to be the first ever female POTUS, and that’s amazing. She’s been called a witch, a bitch, a murderer, evil, ugly, a dumb/big c*nt (much like myself, you can read about that here) and a lying  whore – and the rest – over and over again yet she keeps on going. Every lunch hour I log onto her Facebook page to see what’s she’s been up to. Her accidentally on purpose wanderings into bachelor parties are a favourite of mine, but above all, it’s her bravery that inspires me. One foot in front of the other, no matter what, she carries on. And I think that’s great.
  2. Women cleaners.Cleaning is a largely feminised profession because of low pay. I’ve worked in the business and I probably will again; I’m no job snob. The fact is, most of those who clean and pick up other people’s rubbish are treated as if they are the rubbish. The wages are terrible. I bang on about this a lot, but if a cleaner is going into someone’s house each week to work, even for just a couple of hours, and she doesn’t get maternity, sick and holiday pay, then she’s being taken advantage of. And not many people understand that. I wrote about this and more in my essay THE HOUSEWORK ISSUE : THE OTHER ONE for I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, which you can get here.
  3. Jess Phillips MP for Birmingham Yardley.
    IWD jessSays what she thinks, and I  respect her for it. I don’t always agree with her, and thank god for that. I don’t want to live in a world where everybody nods along with politicians, and I don’t want them to pretend to agree with me either. Plastic smiles, glassy eyes and unquestioning devotion? Not for me, thank you. Jess is so bloody refreshing. And I get the feeling you could have a proper barney over politics with her and she’d still be ok with you afterwards. I hope to get to test that theory out some day.
  4. Women from my old boxing gym.I had to stop going when it started getting dark in the evenings because I don’t find it comfortable walking 30 mins on my own there and back as I describe here, but I’ll return when it gets a bit safer, in a few weeks’ time. Recently, I bumped into one of the women who is a regular. “You’ll love it in Spring!” she said, beaming. ‘When it starts getting light, Sean (the instructor) takes us outside and we get to drag his van across the car park.” BRILLIANT. How I miss those women.
  5. Kim Kardashian.
    IWD Kim
    If I had a bod like Kim’s, I’d be doing this too 

    Another woman who plugs on regardless, despite the abuse. Put together all the things Hillary and Jess get called and multiply it by at least a hundred and that’s what gets flung at Kim.

    From my perspective, Kim can do what she wants to her body and put whatever she wants on it. She’s allowed to fall in love with whoever makes her heart go boom. What she calls her babies is down to her and her husband, not people on the internet.
    As my feminist hairdresser and friend Alison says, ‘Someone took Kim’s sex tape and made it public without her consent. She turned it all around and made a multi-million dollar business out of it. If that’s not feminist, I don’t know what is”.

    Cleaners, Hillary Clinton, Jess Phillips and Kim Kardashian on a list together? Hell yeah!

  6. Jenny Pepper.I was originally going to compile my top five, but Jenny is too ace to leave out. She’s the protagonist in the novel Vigilante, written by Shelley Harris. Jenny is a middle aged woman who turns invisible to all around her – her husband, family and society don’t seem to see her anymore. So she decides to get herself a superhero costume and fight crime. When girls in her fourteen year old daughter’s class at school are being attacked, she decides to do something about it. The book is BRILLIANT.

    IWD vig


I know some people won’t love my list, and that’s ok. Whether you do or don’t then why not head over to Twitter, and name your selection using the #inspiringwomen #IWD2016 hastags?


I’m (in) Hooked!


I did an interview with former footballer Paul Gascoigne very recently. It was for a brand new lifestyle magazine Hooked, aimed at those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and their families too. I was initially unsure whether to do the interview or not, something I wrote about here but now that Hooked is out I’m so delighted with it.


gazza 1


I wrote “Perfect Skin” a piece of fan fiction for Geeked magazine’s Sexy issue nearly two years ago now (beautifully illustrated by Lily Rose Beardshaw), it was initially a digital release but is now available in physical format.

geeked perfect

I spied a copy in Foyles in London last weekend, in the front window as part of an impressive display of zines.

foyles geeked

It’s always nice to see things I’ve worked on and contributed to, getting around!

Issue 1 of Hooked is available now, for Android here and Apple here.


Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre new foyer opening


Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre has come a long way since its “Royal ourt” days, the C dropped off the sign out front and never reattached. I’ve often wondered what happened to that lonely C – one of life’s little mysteries, I suppose. The quality of Royal Court productions has rarely been an issue but the once grand building has badly needed refurbishment for a while.

Now, thanks to European Regional Development Fund grant and a loan from the council plus a £1 levy on every ticket sold for Royal Court performances, the place is elbowing its way forward to stand alongside other cultural buildings in Liverpool city centre.

I went to the unveiling of the Royal Court’s new foyer last week, if you’ve been inside or walked past you can’t have failed to notice the beautiful new box office.

foyer 1

Behind that is an extended foyer, a lift to all floors of the building and a sizeable terrace upstairs on the first floor.

foyer 2
The opening of the newly refurbished upstairs bar…(I need to stop looking so stern in photographs!)

Late last December on the bus on the way home from a night out, I got talking to a lovely couple. Proudly in their eighties, they were fizzing with delight after a night watching the Royal Court’s Christmas production Pharaoh ‘Cross The Mersey. A young woman sitting across the aisle had just been to see it too and I’d caught it the week before so basically half the bus ended up having a good gab about what a great production it was, and raving over the bossness of the Royal Court’s plays in recent years.

And that’s it, you see. Why the Royal Court works so well is because everybody goes there, and loves it. It’s not known as “the people theatre” for nothing and I for one am made up it looks so beautiful again.


My flash fiction short story You Promised, first published in Landmarks, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2015 is featured on Femmuary this week. You can read it here.



Telly appearance, feminist rants, busy busy.

It’s only Tuesday and already this week is turning into a busy one for me.

In November last year I wrote a personal essay on the politics of cleaning, and housework. It’s not part of the “why don’t men and women do their equal share of household chores” debate because I think that’s discussed enough already, and very well. I wanted to explore our attitude to cleaners as paid employees, and how we view what is essentially physical labour, but from a feminist perspective. It was inspired by a Facebook conversation about memes like this:


The essay is published this week in new feminist publication Rants, edited by the fabulous Abigail Tarttelin, author of the award winning YA novel Golden Boy. I’m so pleased to have my work alongside top class writers such as Shelley Harris and Kit de Waal in this zine, and I feel privileged to have my opinion in a publication that offers writers the opportunity to express a wide range of views. I find the current trend of no platforming dissenting voices very disturbing, and akin to censorship. Bravo Abigail for allowing us the opportunity to speak so freely and honestly.

Issue #1 of Rants.

(I spent my lunch hour today working out which of these bottoms most resembles my own)

You can buy Rants here.

Yesterday I was invited onto the sofa of 52%, a TV show here in Liverpool, hosted by the brilliant Claire Simmo.

52 photo

It’s a programme presented by women and it’s ace. We talked about women and food, entrepreneurism and home baking plus what’s trending, news wise. We spoke about the north west band Viola Beach (I wrote about them for The Guide) ; their deaths over the weekend marked a very sad day for the local music scene.

52% will be broadcast on Saturday in the Merseyside area on Bay TV, Freeview channel 8 at 7pm.

Today, a teeny snippet of the crime novel I’ve working on, is published over at Paragraph Planet:


In addition to that, my interview with The Trouble with Goats and Sheep author Joanna Cannon is now online over at Urbanista, a preview to her appearance here in Liverpool next week.




Alice in Wonderland, in Liverpool

As a girl I found Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass frightening. I preferred Enid Blyton. But on reflection, I guess the Land of Dame Slap and the like appearing at the top of the Far Away Tree isn’t a million miles away. And don’t even get me started on Dame Washalot.

alice 2

I mentioned my Alice wariness to another writer at the press launch of walk-through theatrical production The Alice Experience at St George’s Hall in Liverpool last week. She lowered her head in embarrassment and whispered, “Me too! It freaked me out! Still does.”

alice 3

As I’ve got older I’ve read the books with a new eye and enjoy the weirdness of Wonderland. I even took part in a day-long reading of the first Alice novel at The Bluecoat a couple of years ago, people reading a handful of pages at a time in front of an audience. Having rows of people mouthing the words back at you in a silent echo is other worldly in itself.

alice 1

The Alice Experience, quite a trip. The White Rabbit was my favourite. He looked like furry eared Bill Oddie. We had cake at the Mad Hatter’s tea party; so much cake. (The Alice Experience is on until  9th February.)

alice 4


In other news, Get Into This who I now write about music for, was this week included in this rather prestigious list. We are at number eight!




Sad writing, happy writing

Back in December, I was offered an interview with Paul Gascoigne, aka Geordie former footballer Gazza. He’s not someone I’ve given much thought to up until now. I don’t follow football or read celebrity magazines or tabloids so for the most of it, he’s passed me by. I know about his football achievements, his personal problems, mental health and alcoholism, and of course that infamous Raoul Moat incident, but not much more than that.

I was in two minds about whether to do the interview. For one, I wasn’t sure who’d take an article about Gazza from me; most of my non-fiction is feminist based or music related, and he’s no hero to either sector.  (I don’t know of any music editor who upon hearing Gascoigne’s version of Fog On the Tyne doesn’t want to die, for example). But then I mentioned the offer on Facebook and to my surprise an editor friend DMd me. I’m launching a magazine for the drug and alcohol recovery sector, she said. Would I be interested in placing the Gascoigne interview there…?

Of course I was. Work is work.

But some feminist friends – quite rightly – raised reservations with me, privately and politely.

Why Gazza? After his record of domestic violence?

Well, this is why.

Because no one will pay me for an interview with a member of the public who happens to be a victim or survivor of domestic violence.

Because in order to get shut of domestic violence, we have to understand why it happens. To understand is not to condone it; we can’t confuse the two.

Because sometimes good people do bad things, I suppose. And mental health issues don’t go away by sharing a Facebook meme pic of Robin Williams looking all serene with bland motivational quote attached. They are much more complicated.

Anyway, my write up of the interview which I’m doing this week is quite heart breaking, in many ways. Upsetting to write, in some places. And I didn’t expect that. But it doesn’t mean there’s any less sympathy from me for victims of domestic violence. On the contrary, in fact.


On a brighter note, a short prose piece written by me as a tribute to the stupendous Katharine Hepburn was published by Silver Birch Press as part of their Same Name series last week, and you can read it here.


Men who bark at women, woof woof

jess 1

Jess Phillips, saying what she thinks, how dare she. On Question Time on Thursday evening the MP for Birmingham Yardley remarked that the UK was in no position to talk when it comes to the abuse and harassment of women by men, citing the stubborn statistic that two women are killed each week by their male partners, and that women are routinely baited and heckled at night. People were upset by this. Twitter is horrified and appalled, as per. Hmmm. I’m guessing those having a fit of the vapours at Phillips’comments  aren’t females who walk through our towns and cities of a night on their own.

The truth is, Jess Phillips’ observations don’t even go near the reality.

On the way home from the gym in the last fortnight alone, I’ve been barked at by a group of men smoking outside a pub – yes, actual adult males, making woofing noises, like dogs; young lads on bikes bellowed “shitty arse! shitty arse!” across the street (my bottom was perfectly clean, I’ll have you know). One man made a pervy comment then when I ignored him he started following, shouting his proposal louder just in case I hadn’t heard him the first time.

All this happens in the street, in the dark. And before anyone suggests amendments to my own behaviour, I don’t drive and I’m not sure why I should require a male escort to walk the ten minutes to my house. This isn’t the Victorian era, you know.  Men, if you’re walking down a deserted road and there’s a woman ahead of you on her own, have the good manners to cross the bloody road instead of shadowing her footsteps. If you’re driving past a lone woman, don’t honk your horn at her or slow down beside her, just because you can. Common sense, all this; or so you’d think.

And it’s not just outdoors. In a venue in Liverpool city centre in December, the security guys on the door were loudly judging all the women customers A to F as we walked to the toilets (I’m a C minus, apparently. Must do better.). Twelve months earlier, watching the same artist at a different venue, a man in front of us was watching a pornographic film on his phone, holding it up so myself and other women behind him could get a good view. And by the way – no, I’m not going to stop seeing the artist in question, it’s not his fault other people are dicks. I’ve got a ticket for his next show in March, so I look forward to reporting back on that. Third time lucky, ay?

So yeah, all told, I think Philips might have a point. A starting point, that is.