My Communication Fatigue: Why I just can’t be bothered… (…to even finish this sentence.)

I am unwell. Out of sorts. Under the weather. 


I’m suffering from an illness so socially severe, that I risk losing good friends and upsetting the people in my life that matter most to me. It’s serious and it’s a bit embarrassing; Dr Christian would have me on the couch by now, legs akimbo, knees tucked behind my ears. The situation’s grave – desperate, even. And here are the dreadful symptoms (that is if I can bring myself to reveal them, such is the social stigma attached):

Emails go unanswered. Facebook messages get lost in the machine. And texts can take days to ping back to the recipient. Days. I regularly lie and say I never received anything.

But now I’m coming clean. I have a serious problem, and it’s that I’m in the advanced stages of CFS: or Communication Fatigue Syndrome as it’s known in certain circles (ok, just mine).

computer says no

My condition began to show its listless face a couple of years ago. Email, Facebook, twitter and texting – not to mention actual talking – were all getting a bit much for me. I worked in a busy, lively, open-plan office, and my job meant I was constantly talking to colleagues and suppliers; on the phone, on email and in meetings. I was communicating all day long, often using different media simultaneously.

So I really resented having to go home and carry on where I’d left off. Pretty much. Keeping in touch socially had started to feel like just another tedious administration task, and, as I’d never been that keen on (or good at!) admin, I’d ignore stuff until it became urgent. Never a good strategy. Friends got annoyed with me and I’d feel guilty and like a really bad person. And I don’t like feeling like a bad person (naughty’s ok – hell, yeah!) which meant that I’d have to do a damage limitation communication to get myself out of trouble – i.e., more bloody admin. Gah.

It was really getting to me. I felt like a stressed air traffic controller; friends and family stacked up like impatient 747s queuing in the sky above.  My life had turned into a tedious cycle of stress/guilt/admin that, quite frankly, I could well do without.


So I decided to take it back.

I figure if it’s my prerogative when to answer my phone (it is) then it’s also up to me when I reply to any other form of communication. I don’t react instantly and feel the need to treat messages as urgent (unless they actually are!). I generally take my own good time replying, and it feels great. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone and there are some people in my life who struggle with my tardy transmissions. But – special exceptions aside – I’m not giving in. They just have to lump it. And on the whole it works fine – I even have a couple of friends who have taken my laid-back line. We treat non-urgent messages like little postcards: casual mini letters with an enquiry here, a comment there, and it really doesn’t matter if either of us takes days to answer. We know we will eventually.

It works beautifully; no stress, no guilt, everyone’s happy. Give it a try – what’s the worst that could happen..? The people who love you will accept it (with a little training) – and as for the ones who don’t…

Popping my cherry with Smut


Last month I did something you don’t do every day: I went to my very first erotic writer’s convention. Yup. Smut Manchester, to be precise.

And, yes, it was 1. smutty, and 2. in Manchester, so they got the title bang on the money.

Safe to say, it was one of the most mundanely surreal days of my life.

My good friend Jennifer Denys is a published author and writer of erotic romance and she very kindly invited me along. As a writer, I’ve always got a few stories on the bubble and one genre I’ve not yet touched is erotica, either straight up or with a bit of romance thrown in. It’s not something I’ve thought about.

But that’s all changed. And how.

I got the trans-pennine train to Manchester and got lost, both getting to, and in, the hotel where it was being held, spending the first 10 minutes wandering and lurking around the place, muttering surreptitiously to various hotel staff members unlucky enough to bump into me: “Smut..? Excuse me, do you know where I can find Smut..?”. My self-conscious murmuring turned out to be pretty pointless as most of the staff weren’t English and didn’t understand me, although I was surrounded by delegates from a Deaf Signers convention that had spread out into the lobby so at least they will have picked it up…


Anyhoo, I finally found it – down a bit of a rabbit hole (anyone would’ve thought they wanted to keep us out of the way!) – and sidled into my seat, late as usual. But, thankfully in time to hear the talented *Ashley Lister read his wonderfully bawdy poem: The Ballad of Poor Dave , which had us all laughing our heads off – and had me rolling around like a Smash Robot. Very funny.

I’ve described the conference as “mundane” but I don’t really mean it because that would be to insult Smut and its members.  What I actually mean is that there was an ordinariness about the day that was really quite extraordinary, given its subject. The delegates and speakers were lovely and perfectly…well…normal  – not what you’d expect from an erotic writing conference.

Although not everyone was “normal”, as evidenced by the glorious apparition that was Sister Jaqui (she’s the one in the middle). Praise be.

me debs sister jackie

In fact, the impossibly fantabulous Sister was a star player in the craziest moment of the day. Picture a snapshot of a young, half-naked man, tied up in all kinds of leather and steel and with a ball gag in his mouth, being whipped by a 6ft 4 nun in a 1950’s cherry-print prom dress and red PVC platform boots. With a beard. In a hotel conferencing centre in central Manchester on a drizzly mid-November Saturday. As you do.

All in all, a cracking kinky day with lots of interesting stuff going on and fascinating people to meet – although it did make me realise that I don’t have a kinky bone in my body (I’m a right goer though! Oh yes ;)). Oh, and I won a bottle of lube on the tombola. Organic lube, at that.

Smut left me with inspiration and lots of naughty ideas – a fantastic kickstart to my erotic writing adventures.

Watch this space.

*Ashley’s blog:

Sleepless in Sheffield

“I’m a woman of a certain age and I love an open window!”

These are the words that, these days, greet bemused colleagues and kick off any meeting I’m ever in – usually accompanied by an unseemly dive for the chair nearest said window. You see, I’ve always known I was hot. ;). But now I’m red-hot. And not in a good way. I’m talking about hot flushes (flashes, for my American cousins :)). Potatoes have got nothing on me – my hot flushes are so goddamn NUCLEAR you could run Blackpool Illuminations with my emissions. The heat fair radiates off me like I’m some kind of organic convector heater. I could wire myself up to the National Grid in times of critical power shortage. I might too, I’m that civic-minded.

potato clock

My hot flushes are so violent, so sudden, so HOT that I can be totally fine one second, and the next resemble a drenched sunburn victim with sweat literally trickling down my face and rolling off my chin. Not a great look on the beach, never mind in an important stakeholder meeting. And a look that has my colleagues staring in a kind of disgusted fascination as I go into full-on meltdown. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do but sit tight and hope it passes quickly.

But I don’t suffer in silence – oh no, everyone knows about it. Why keep it in, I say. It’s uncomfortable, and unpleasant but entirely natural and I refuse to be embarrassed – so I demand as much sympathy as I can get. Particularly from men, the jammy gets. They don’t have to go through it, so I don’t spare them any of the detail. It’s a fair tradeoff, don’t you think?

And don’t get me started on the sleepless nights. I usually know as soon as I lay down when I’m not going to sleep; and if the heat’s not bad enough my racing heartbeat will put the kibosh on anything resembling restful slumber. Toss, turn, swear, cry. Covers off, covers on, covers, off, covers off. Rinse and repeat.

The joys of menopause, eh – it’s the gift that just keeps on giving. Brilliant.

Hair today, gone tomorrow #2

Age has indeed played a cruel, cruel trick.

My once luxuriant bush is no more. YupIt’s not the bountiful bush it once was; in fact it’s thinned out dramatically, and the glossy, chocolate brown lustre of youth is rapidly fading to grey. *Sad face*. It would be bad enough if this were the extent of it, a couple of grey nether hairs here and there, but no – it’s much, MUCH worse than that. Far from growing the kind of exuberant bush that would put a 1970’s porn star to shame as I reach middle-age (and which I’d secretly quite looked forward to), I have developed what I can only describe as ‘(fe)male pattern baldness’. But on my nether regions. I have lost much of the hair down the middle of my pubis, but kept it on the outskirts. Which, as you’d imagine, looks horrendous.

So I have to shave it quite extensively, leaving just a pathetic bit of bum fluff on show at the front. But my man (who loves oral like the dear departed Bill Hicks did – how lucky?!) has been begging me to leave it au natural, a la 1980s – him being nostalgic for his teenage years when girls didn’t have smooth, shaven groins like creepy Barbie dolls. He thinks (bless) that I shave my bits because I’m self/sub-consciously buying into the current trend for bald, hairless ladyparts, because that’s how I think I should look. Hah! I can’t bring myself to tell him that the nearest we’re going to get to a retro bush is in fact the 1970s, and I’m not talking about the spectacular porn-star arrangement as mentioned above. giphy

No, sadly, I’m talking about the “Max Wall”, the “Bobby Charlton”, and Pennywise, the evil clown from It.

(Ok, the last baldie in this tragic list isn’t from the 70s but if the dutch cap fits…).

Definitely time to consider a merkin, methinks – wonder if ebay do them..?    

Eyes down

Adverts for online bingo are weird, don’t you think?  Plenty of people dancing – with dogs, with each other – swimming, partying and generally having a ball. Hey, bingo is FUN!

But no poor sods sat in front of the dim, grey light of the monitor, crying in their pants as they gamble away the last of the housekeeping.

Funny, that.

Hair today, gone tomorrow: #1

Right then. Let’s talk about hair. Hair down there.

But first, let me put this out there: I’m fancying a merkin.fuzzy-heart-merkin

You see, in my younger days, I had a pretty decent bush. Not too thick and not too thin. Relatively easy to control, although it did meander slightly down the insides of my thighs (and perilously close to my knees in the winter)…but anyway, nothing a sharp razor wouldn’t fix.

But the razor rash was a swine. So one day I decided to try waxing. By god it hurt. A good friend of mine is a beauty therapist and she did it for me. How she laughed and called me names as I screamed and squirmed and swore like a navvy – and the more I screamed and swore, the more she convulsed with laughter (she’s not particularly mean, I was just pretty inventive with my swearing). Of course, laughter renders you momentarily weak (think about your knees buckling when you laugh really hard), so instead of whipping the hair out at the speed of light (and therefore marginally less painfully), she was actually wrenching it slowly and agonisingly out of my bits like some kind of sadistic beauty-therapy-based torturer. Which is every bit as painful as it sounds.

waxing some eecards

Unsurprisingly, we had to abort this particular mission, and decided to try again another day. So we did. I still screamed and cursed, but she didn’t laugh, and we eventually got the job done (thanks mainly to the small bottle of vodka I necked just before we got started).

Or at least we thought we had. On closer inspection –  both of us peering down together at my blood red, angry-looking groin – we realised that instead of pulling the hairs out, they had actually been ripped off at the roots. My super-pubes were so strong, so deep-rooted, that they just refused to come out. Hence all the super-pain I’d been in. See?? But I tell you, she’d given them a bloody good going over: I went on holiday two days later with extensive mottling/blue-black bruising all over the insides of my thighs, which actually resembled huge, juicy love bites. Classy. Although to be fair we were in Ibiza so I didn’t look that out of place, but even so…