These were written for The Worthing Herald, from the present day dating back to about 2009. Before 2009, my parents clipped them out of the paper and kept them in a box file.
After 11 years I've finally decided to bring this column to an end, and so am VERY INTERESTED in a new weekly gig. If you'd like me to write for your paper, magazine, website or pamphlet, please let me know.
As a strident feminist*, there is little I take more pleasure in than stomping over a few stereotyping myths. I stomp over them, in my non-gender-specific shoes, then I kick back with a… what’s a non-gender-specific drink? Cider maybe? Cider, in a glass, with a bit of ice but not loads. I kick back with one of those, listen to some non-gender-aligned music and enjoy a small moment of pride, for having Proved the Misogynists Wrong.
I was a little overdue a myth-stomping feat this weekend, my last one having been several weeks ago when I correctly named Michael Owen as the youngest British premiership footballer of the 20th century at a pub quiz in the face of opposition from my male flatmates, and I have since been set back by a few spider-catching incidents and some re-runs of Cougar Town. So, to top up the quota, Female Flatmate and I decided to have a barbecue.
It was a small affair – shattering the first myth of the bunch: that barbecues have to be a Massive Deal, involving loads of prepping and muscle-flexing and borrowing of garden furniture from Mrs Down the Road. We blew that myth out of the water, simply by having nobody else we could be bothered to invite round. So it was a nice, intimate, rooftop barbecue for two.
Then we did the shopping. Another opportunity for female reclamation of the sport, by proving that barbecues don’t have to be heaving, carnivorous affairs full of massive hunks of blackened, unidentifiable flesh (besides, barbecued sausage eating was ruled out several years ago by that “When Will I See You Again?” food poisoning advert – thanks, Food Standards Agency). No, we would make a modest feast of vegetable kebabs and some homemade burgers. Veg, protein, carb. Lovely.
There’s something brilliantly decadent about whipping out a barbecue for an everyday dinner. Like making your morning toast with a blowtorch, or spit roasting a Findus crispy pancake. It feels like it shouldn’t be allowed. But now I’ve started, I’m inclined to start barbecuing everything – it could be an era of groundbreaking experimentation, like when the Bravo family first got a toaster and my brothers and I ate every single meal on toast for about three weeks. I ate grapes on toast. Biscuits on toast. Salmon en croute on toast. Now I will barbecue my breakfast, chargrill my cheese sandwiches, warm my Horlicks through on some hot smoky coals. This could have started years ago, but I never knew just how easy barbecuing was before.
Easy, that is, until you melt your roof. After we’d eaten the food, cracked open some beers, and were basking in the contented sense of primal achievement you get having successfully heated some meat and not died in the process, we noticed something. Black, sticky gumph, oozing out from the bottom of our disposable barbecue. It was tarmac. We’d melted the roof.
Excellent timing, then, for Male Flatmate no.1 to come home and successfully override our myth-stomping glow with smug rants about “putting it on bricks” and “watertight ceilings” and “Duuuuuhhhh.” But let it be said, the food was delicious, the roof solidified again, and Male Flatmate no.1 was forced to watch Over the Rainbow to balance out the gender gap. Someone alert Germaine, and pass me that cider.
*Is anyone ever a strident anything else? It seems to be an adjective reserved for that one, very specific, occasion of noun-accompaniment. As such, when I am feeling my most feministy, I stride everywhere. And use Trident toothpaste.