The M-word Millennials

It is popularly accepted those born between 1980–2000 are the millennials. Also referred to as Generation Y …..or should that be Generation You’re Totally F***ed? The way I see it, it’s thanks to the efforts of Gen X (my generation) that life has dealt a double-whammy to these lovely folk.

Having worked alongside several millennials I found myself increasingly falling into the use of phrases and expressions my Dad was inclined to use, principally about having to get off your arse because life will gift you bugger all. In the style of Monty Python, “trying telling the youth of today that and they won’t believe you!” …….

……they just didn’t appear to believe in ‘working your way up’ or ‘earning your stripes’. Oh no, none of that shit for them thank you. These guys and gals are f***ing awesome. So lucky, lucky me …they chose to come to work in my company. Although, not for them a starters salary/menial work/subordinate position/junior status. No siree. They expect, nay demand, a minimum 30k starter salary, a new car (preferably BMW), exciting and diverse projects, and managerial title, Why? Because they’re special. Because that’s what they want.

In the beginning I just laughed, (generally right into their shiny, wrinkle free, fresh faces), but as time went on there was a dawning – this was now the way of the world. Jumped-up princes and princesses who behaved like the world owed them something. In an act of utter incredulity, I once asked a young woman, who was behaving like a first-class prima donna “are you like, a real, actual princess?” Suffice to say she giggled, sighed, shrugged her shoulders and declared ‘it wasn’t fair’. That’s right princess, it really isn’t.

So, how did Gen X screw things up for these guys so spectacularly? Because we were the parents, teachers, guardians, TV producers, magazine editors, and significant others who fed them the line that they were special, and that they could be, do, and have whatever their little hearts wanted. They simply had to want it badly enough.

But we all know the sad reality is that most people truly don’t give a crap what they want, especially in the horrible, roughtee-toughtee world of work. They discovered they’re not special. Stuff will not simply fall into their laps by sheer will of wanting of it. That flash car, the designer lifestyle, the big house they covet, will have to be earned. They are going to have to work their arses off for several years, they’re going to have to save, and embrace the notion of delayed gratification, and generally do everything previous generations have had to do to get where they are.

So my profound and sincere apologies to the millennials, who were so comprehensively duped ……karma will prevail, have no doubt. All I shall say is geriatric care, old-people’s homes, ageing population …….revenge will be sweet.

The M-word Marriage

This blog is going to place me, justifiably, into cynical witch territory. I understand this, and yet feel unable to change my views. God knows, I’ve tried. Truly, I have. However, despite my best efforts I have yet to see anything to alter my view that marriage has little relevance to our lives today. For those who enjoy happy, fulfilling and loving marriages I’m sincerely blissed out for you; long may it be this way …… and before the pseudo shrinks start with the emotionally-scarred-poor-role-models-argument I can confirm the following –

  • My parents were happily married for over 65 years before passing away within 6 months of one another
  • My siblings enjoy happy, loving and (mostly) contented married lives, on average 20-30 years together
  • Many of my friends are happily married, and have been for a long time
  • I love fruit cake with fondant icing and Richard Curtis movies

What I dislike is the whole aspect of weddings and the notion of marriage. The foolish and obscene amounts of money spent for one day, the time and energy spent agonising over shite to create this one day, the not thinking through what marriage is really all about. There seems to be little reason or relevance to marriage in today’s world. Please, humour me out for a minute –

  • It used to be because a couple wanted to live together (without it being ‘in sin’ and so free from being doomed to hell) but millions of couples now live together, without so much as an eye being batted or a soul burning in eternal damnation
  • You got married because you wanted to have children. Well, it’s widely acknowledged that sex out of wedlock is now the norm, and marriage as a prerequisite to having children is positively quaint in some circles
  • It demonstrates a solid commitment to one another. Does it buffalo! If the relationship needs a circle of metal, a piece of officially sanctioned paper, and a posh frock before it can establish a firm commitment then it’s well and truly in the brown stuff
  • It makes our relationship official – officially what? I could take an ad in the paper announcing ‘we’re official’. I guess the only, and probably the smartest reason to making the relationship official would be for the tax and inheritance benefits, although this tends to benefit those in later life rather than young couples. Now, who said romance was dead?

I have yet to attend a wedding, especially of young couples, where I’m not overwhelmed with feelings of melancholy. So much so I feel compelled to leave early for a cup of tea and a lie down. It’s the heady combination of naïve expectation and a belief of happily-ever-after mixed with the unspoken certainty that there’s always divorce to fall back on when it all goes tits up.

At heart I’m an old romantic ….I want marriage for love not for economics. Yet, when it comes down to it I’m left with very little other than economics.…….bloody Walt Disney. One day my prince will come…….

The M-word Menstruation

This appears to be the last bastion of taboo subjects; although the situation is changing rapidly there remains an intake of breath in certain circles at the mention of a woman’s monthlies. The dreaded periods.

Thankfully my days of waking in the middle of the night looking like I’ve been attacked by a grizzly bear are well behind me. And good riddance I say. The whole experience was a total bore, although I consider myself fortunate. I didn’t get hormonal breakouts, or cramps, or mood swings (I was a grumpy bitch every day!) but I did have to make conscious wardrobe choices (light colours? Ha, in your dreams sister), I did have period pants, and a paranoid compulsion to check seats after standing up. Mother Nature, I decided, was a total bastard. An opinion that changed little over the years.

I do remember, aged about 11 or 12, attending a lesson in school when the nurse came to tell us about the ‘beautiful gift of becoming a woman’ (silly cow) and thinking “f*** that for a game of soldiers, I don’t want a baby so I’ll just skip periods thank you very much”.

The ‘beginners’ pad resembled a small pillow cushion, while the one reserved for ‘heavy days’ had the width and depth of a small mattress. No siree, not for me. Not interested in becoming a beginner or having heavy days thank you very much. When the inevitable happened I was too embarrassed to buy sanitary products so I’d plead with my Dad to get them for me, and love him, he did right until my 50’s ……ha! just kidding, until I left home at 18. Thanks Dad x

There were some fabulous synonyms invented by my mates to describe being on your period – I’ve fallen off me bike, I’m on the blob, the Russians have invaded, I’m living in the red tent this week, the uterus demon is home, and finally, I’ve got me pyramids (this same friend misheard the greeting ‘peace be with you’ in church as ‘pleased to meet you’ so it figures she thought they were called pyramids. Although….the Egyptians built the pyramids??) Mind well and truly boggled.

The two most embarrassing events of my life involved tampons. The first was a friends’ puppy, who’d slyly investigated my bag and then took itself off to quietly chew on an ever expanding Lil-Let before being discovered. I vigorously denied he’d got it from my bag, despite it being obvious to all concerned where it had come from (aside from the red face I was the only girl in the room!)

The second was worthy of a scene from a Bridget Jones movie….. I was being chatted up by a particularly gorgeous guy at a bar (like you do) and I nonchalantly lifted from my bag what I thought was a lipstick but which turned out to be a Lil-Let, a mistake only discovered once I’d put it to my mouth…..not so nonchalant now are we?

As a final thought, if I were prime minister I’d insist tampon producers put little gifts in every box of white cotton mice (tampons) with the message ‘here’s a voucher for chocolate you cranky bitch’ – now, that’d be worth paying the VAT for wouldn’t it!?!

The M-word Maternal Instinct

Hands up, I’m a disgrace to the female sex. I never wanted children.

I do remember not really liking dollies, although I longed for a Tiny Tears just because I wanted to see it wee, but I can’t honestly remember ever dreaming of having children. As a girl I imagined being a princess (tick, I totally am), I imagined being the bionic woman (Lynsey Wagner was my hero), I imagined being Captain Scarlett (he had a very cool car), I imagined a career in the police (I really wanted a German Shepherd dog), I imagined being a nurse (I loved the smell of antiseptic and plasters), but I don’t ever recall thinking ‘oooh, I really want babies and I’ll call them Jemima, Patrick and Harold’ (which is a f***ing good job by the sound of that lot!)

And let’s get all the predictable reactions out of the way first –

  • no there isn’t a medical reason – at least I don’t think so, although like the airbags in my car I’ve never been tempted to test things
  • no I am not a man-hater/andromorph – seriously, I’m meant to answer this??
  • no I’m not a virgin – when can I hit you?
  • yes I like sex – I really want to hit you
  • yes I must be selfish and self-absorbed – said a woman I’d just met
  • no I don’t hate children – I just couldn’t eat one all at once….just kidding

The reactions of men and women has become something of a fascination for me over the years. Generally speaking, women have recoiled in horror (what is wrong with her? What will we talk about? Is she mentally unstable? Oh God, get me away from her). Men on the other hand appear more relaxed, or better still aren’t especially interested.

Please be assured, despite not wanting my own children I adore the little people in my life. Astonishingly, I know how to hold a baby, I know how to soothe a baby or a child, I know how to play with them, read bedtime stories, and generally lark about with them. All this, in spite of never having had one of my own.

I say this because some Mother’s comment in astonished tones, like I’m deaf as well as child-free, “oh, isn’t she good with them. Isn’t it amazing?”…….I have not parted the red sea, or fed fish to thousands, I’ve behaved normally around a child.

Being child-free doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and knowing how to behave around children is not the exclusive province of being a Mum. As I see it, being able to connect with children just takes time, patience and a little bit of creativity……and as a woman with no children I’ve of course got oodles of that!

The M-word Masturbation

Even more than menstruation or menopause, masturbation is definitely not a matter for polite conversation (at least not in my world). It was certainly not something that was included on the school curriculum, or in cherished conversations about puberty with my lovely Mum. Some topics it seems are simply too intimate and too personal.

For sure, I’d have died with embarrassment and shame at any mention of fiddling with my down-below area. The majority of the sex education I received was fairly representative of teenagers in the 70’s – sneaking in to the cinema underage to watch The Stud, copping a feel behind the bike sheds, and hanging about in the 5th form toilets to discover what the promiscuous girls were talking about, (most of which delayed my foray into S.E.X for at least a decade.)

At no point was there mention of the natural instinct of exploring your own body; if nothing else, you’d at least discover where everything was and what it felt like. In fact, masturbation was the province of teenage boys with girlie magazines and boxes of Kleenex. Good girls never participated in this filthy, dirty habit lest they, well, I didn’t know exactly, just that I wasn’t meant to do it. I remember a girl in my class at school who used to stick her fingers in her lady parts and then smell them. Quite unabashed she was. I’ve often wondered if she continues to this day?!? All I recall of that time was a fascination and twinge of jealousy that she was brazen enough to indulge herself, while all I felt was total horror and abject shame. I was young, but I would learn ……

Scoot forward to my mid-40’s. Newly single and plump for seduction by a deliciously dirty, (or deeply enlightened), younger man who delighted in teaching me the pleasures to be had from self-gratification (providing I shared the experience with him). Talk about overcoming my inhibitions!!

Suffice to say it was a time of absolute filth …….and it was magnificent!

I believe every woman should know the joys of masturbating heartily and passionately at least once in her lifetime. My theory, (which of course I have, it just took me a while to get there), is that the sex lives of the nation would improve significantly if women knew what it was they enjoyed in the bedroom department. My generation appear to have laboured under the belief that men would know intuitively how to bring a woman pleasure; perhaps the boys attended clandestine sex masterclasses while the girls did double needlework? This fatally deluded belief was probably responsible for more deeply uncheerful sex lives than anything else I can think of. If a woman doesn’t know what gives her pleasure, then how on earth was a man meant to know? (Of course, at this point I’m compelled to say this could be a same sex relationship so as not to suffer the wrath of the PC police).

Or maybe it was just me??? Maybe I was so sexually inhibited I failed to notice my peers having a daily wank-fest? Trouble is, I’m not so enlightened that I feel able to fling off years of inhibition to discuss this over dinner just yet. Maybe from behind a curtain, or beneath a blanket …..oooh err matron!

The M-word Mobile phones

Much has been discussed in relation to our dependency on these slabs of glass and plastic, and I can’t imagine anything I’m about to say hasn’t already been said.

By and large I find my mobile to be an invaluable piece of technology, it’s lightweight, it’s very clever, it’s versatile, and from time-to-time it’s smarter than I am!

There was a time when we called them mobile ‘phones’, but as they’ve become way more than an apparatus for making a phone call while out and about, (without the need to enter a urine-filled oblong box spilling over with fag ends and condoms), we’re obliged to drop the phone bit. I remember being given one of the early mobiles, a bloody great thing with a battery pack that occupied most of the front seat in the car and weighed more than a small child. I thought it was remarkable. I could phone someone. From the car. Without leaving my seat. Cool.

That was 600 years ago.

Now they’re ‘smart phones’. Their world domination is complete. Our addiction is startling. The velocity of both, unprecedented. Even the most remote, emerging cultures have smart phones. The plugged-in lifestyle is global and it’s here to stay. If we’re being observed from another planet the belief that we’re totally reliant upon this piece of shiny plastic would be entirely justified. Few people can now walk in the street, sit on a train, eat a meal, go to a concert, visit the theatre, drive a car, go to bed, go to the toilet, leave the house, or spend time with other people without this small device.

It is needed to film, photograph, capture, communicate, check-in, check-out, chat up, connect, and influence our mood.

I find it alarming on occasions just how addicted people are, how utterly absorbed they are by the content, to the exclusion of environment, circumstance, or consideration of others. I have clattered into more people dawdling or stopping dead in front of me because of their absolute immersion in their virtual world. And then they glare at me like I’m the one who’s the cretin!

If I were queen for the day, the law I would introduce would have to centre around the use of these gadgets in a public place. I would make it totally acceptable to either kick the shins of someone flouting the law of ‘moronic mobile usage’, or else you could legitimately confiscate it in order to bring on the inevitable panic attack.

Harsh but deeply entertaining …..

The M-word Multi-tasking

I’ve made a realisation, and it’s epic! I’ve become a multi-tasker. I know, it’s worthy of the front page isn’t it? Although, before I continue I feel compelled to declare I’ve actually been training for this moment for years, quite unwittingly, but perfecting my craft nevertheless. More on this in a minute.

You see, I believed my memory and inability to focus had been high-jacked by the ever lovely Mother Nature (the menopause. Does wicked things with your memory. Renders you incapable of finishing one thing before starting something else, entirely unconnected to the first thing, only to discover 2 hours later what it was you were doing originally). I digress……my belief it was Mother Nature being a shit again was mistaken. I apologise. Turns out I was multi-tasking!

Looks like it’s nothing more than being able to switch my attention from speaking on the phone, while reading email, replying to a text message, dodging an interruption from him-in-doors, cooking dinner and sticking a broom up my arse to clean the floor at the same time…….and I’ve been doing that for years.

Increasingly I’ve felt like the 21st century has been bullying me in a direction I don’t want to go. I was too slow-witted to embrace the change of this new world order, namely, being able to switch and alter tasks in the blink of an eye. I’m old-school. I prefer focusing on a single task through to completion, something which has become ridiculously old-fashioned.

I much prefer to appreciate things one at a time. Well, mostly I do. The exception is when I’m out in public spaces, especially anywhere I can people-watch, and then my ability to multi-task becomes akin to a super-power. I can effortlessly have a conversation over dinner, while listening to an ‘animated discussion’ between the couple three tables away, observing the body language of another couple and deciding it’s their first date, and noticing how happy the serving staff appear. You’re impressed, I can tell.

Multi-tasking was definitely conceived of by woman. Apart from the ability to switch attention from cooking, cleaning and helping with homework it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Ergo, it’s a female invention!

The M-word – Magic Pixies

Who doesn’t love their magic pixies? You know the ones; they do all the boring shit. They cook, they clean, they repair stuff, they organise stuff, they write letters, they remember birthdays, they organise Christmas, in fact, they do pretty much every God damn thing you can think of!

What? You don’t have one? Oh, you must, they’re simply amazing……

But here’s the thing. You must NEVER, ever pay attention to anything they’ve done, or indeed, mention it if ever you do notice what they’ve done. You see, drawing attention to them by showing appreciation leaves them feeling ever so upset……SAID NO MAGIC PIXIE EVER!

Magic Pixies are especially dangerous when mixed with a volatile dose of hormones. My advice would be to invest time in studying your pixie in order to determine when said hormones are at their most unstable, and potentially lethal.

It is also worth noting there are magic pixie models out there who can demonstrate this volatility without a hormone ever being present. Generally, this is found in the more advanced models who have yet to be programmed to tolerate crap ……

The M-word Memory

It is said if you’re concerned you’ve lost your mind then you haven’t – when you truly have, you won’t give a monkey’s!

For several years my memory has taken on a life of its own, appearing to delight in creating mayhem and mischief without ever having to take responsibility for its actions. This began with conversations I’d be having, where halfway through describing something (with wit and animation, naturally), I would have no idea what I’d been talking about. I figured I was either getting bored with myself, what I was talking about, or perhaps the person I’d been having the conversation with? Who knows? All I do know is that it was deeply embarrassing…….because at the time I was making a very nice living as a professional speaker.

As this happened on successive occasions I decided to ‘embrace the moment and go with the flow’, just as stress management gurus instruct, so turned it into a comedy moment “sorry folks, temporary break in transmission, normal service will resume shortly” (I always wanted to say “I’m receiving a message from God” but decided it sounded funnier in my head).

Anyway, I have a theory on this phenomena, (of course I do), and it’s to do with my brain being full. Full from education, experience, trivia, stuff, recipes, song lyrics, old car registrations (??WTF?), where I put something in a safe place, other people’s name, my name …..so I decided it was time to ‘defrag’ my hard drive, get rid of stuff I haven’t used in years, de-clutter, and embrace minimal thinking (a bit like minimal living but for your head).

And do you know what? It made not a jot of difference! I continue to get to the top of the stairs and forget what I went up for, open cupboards and forget why, or, as happened recently, forget who it was I was talking to on the phone!!

So, here are some of my failsafe suggestions for getting a grip when your memory behaves like a recalcitrant child –

  • avoid putting things (coffee, mobile, important documents, files, cake, books, babies), on the roof of the car. You will forget. You will drive off with it on the roof. So instead, put them on the bonnet of the car
  • write it down or make a list – remember to take the list with you – ha! Take huge amounts of smug satisfaction on forgetting said list but recalling over 70% of it anyway
  • slow down a little – when I’m rushing I forget shit. Normally the important shit. Never the pointless, incidental shit that doesn’t affect outcomes
  • dodge interruptions – the phone ringing, child calling for your attention (includes the grown-up child), birds singing, butterflies, shiny things ……

Ultimately, getting stressed, frustrated or upset solves nothing. Laugh a little, breathe deeply, and do something else – I’ve found memory to be similar to a naughty child; ignore it long enough and it’ll come to you in the end.