Sorry, Not Sorry

A number of years ago, I was asked to participate in an ad campaign for Origins’ new skincare range. Participants were invited to fill answer questions about our skincare regime, what we disliked about our skin and what we wanted to improve.

We were then given Origins’ new products and asked to test them out for a month before answering more questions, this time about how we’d found the skincare range. We were then made-up and photographed. We were asked to rate the products from 1 to 10, and we were (supposed to be) photographed holding up the corresponding number of fingers to show our approval of the range.

The plan was to use our pictures in Origins’ local (Malaysian) promotional campaign for the products, but mine were never used because I didn’t rate the products. The reason for this was I didn’t actually notice a difference in the way my skin looked and felt. Mind you, I’d not expressed any dissatisfaction with my skin during the first round of questions. My skin care regime has always been just to wash with whatever soap I happen to be using in the shower and then slap on the ‘moisturiser of the moment’, i.e. whatever I can afford to get, usually Johnson’s Baby Lotion. I have never spent more than a minute on my skin and don’t pay it much attention, so I really would not have noticed even if the products had resulted in any changes.

It’s been said that the beauty industry would collapse if women were happy with themselves. Cosmetics companies depend on us finding fault with our appearance. Not noticing wrinkles, pigmentation and goodness knows what else women are supposed to stress about with regard our skin meant that I wasn’t an effective tool in persuading other women to part with their cash.

I never had a single pimple growing up, and I’ve been told how lucky I am in that respect, but I wonder if dealing with spots would have been easier than worrying about what others identified as my ‘weight problem’. Acne seems a more acceptable adolescent challenge than being overweight: Apparently, no one asks to be pimply, but you only have yourself to blame if you’re fat.


Spa a Thought for Your Vagina

Did you know there’s a sort of Fitbit for vaginas? Yes, it’s called an Elvie: ‘your most personal trainer’. For just USD199 you too can track your pelvic floor exercises.


Put it in, hook it up to the app and work the hell out of those Kegels!

However, if you prefer something more old school, there’s what is known as a jade egg, which was apparently what the empresses and royal concubines in ancient China used to keep their vaginas fit. Basically, it’s, as its name suggests, an egg-shaped piece of jade or rose quartz. You pop it into your vagina and, through a combination of the healing, positive properties of jade and the effort taken to keep it from slipping out and rolling away down the household cleaning aisle at Tesco’s, the egg is supposed to increase ‘chi, orgasms, vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general’. (The quote is from the goop shop, which shouldn’t surprise you. Who else can afford USD60 for an egg that you wear in your vagina, but Gwyneth Paltrow and her groupies?)

The Elvie is also featured on goop, as is vaginal steaming, not to be confused with the kind you would achieve when preparing nasi kangkang.

By the way, I was looking at pictures of jade eggs when I came across this person who takes photos that prove how strong her vaginal muscles have become thanks to, amongst other things, jade eggs.


This is not a joke. Check out her Instagram for more pics of her iron vag (she describes herself as a ‘vaginal weight lifter, OK?), plus tips on sexual health: for the guys, get a ‘rock solid cock’ by eating betroot. Who knew!

Finally, and also vagina-related, I was looking for books (fiction and non-fiction) about nuns and convents (research for my novel) and came across Sister Katherine by Tracy St. John. Here’s the synopsis:

The Earth/Kalquor War seems far away to Sister Katherine and the nuns of the convent on Europa. That changes in an instant when an enemy spyship arrives and invades the tiny moon colony.

Katherine’s world is torn apart when she learns she is to become the mate to a clan of three fierce Kalquorian men. How can she save herself or the convent’s children from their conquerors when her body, heart, and soul cries out for the blasphemous touch of her captors? How can it be that her peoples’ sworn enemy is her only chance for true salvation?

sister-katherineIt’s pretty run-off-the-mill erotica featuring one woman (in this case a nun) shared (lovingly) by several men (in this case, three hunky aliens with blue-black hair, violet eyes and two dicks each – no prizes for guessing where the second one goes), but one thing caught my attention: the use of the word ‘sleeve’ for vagina. For example, ‘Her sleeve even clutched at Simdow’s finger, as it it would pull him further inside her.’ I know, right?


What Books to Pack

When I move to Lagos, Nigeria I will be leaving behind over a thousand books. I hope to ship them all to me one day, but until then I have my Kindle, which contains a large number of my favourite titles. I also intend to take about twenty ‘real’ books with me and trying to choose just twenty is proving difficult (you don’t say!).

(For practical purposes, I shall take books that aren’t on my Kindle.)


I have decided on four so far: Three are Elizabeth Goudge comfort reads: Towers in the Mist; City of Bells; and The Dean’s Watch. And the fourth is Gratitude, a small and beautiful, posthumously-published collection of essays by Oliver Sacks.


I am trying to decide if I should take The Complete Uncle, the crowd-funded collection of J.P. Martin’s original six Uncle books. It’s a large, handbound volume that weighs a tiny bit over 1kg. Perhaps I’ll put it in my hand luggage or my ‘dainty’ lady’s handbag.




Travellin’ Light

Ugh, I have so many clothes. I have clothes that I bought in 1990. WTF.

I have clothes that I have not worn in years and years. I have clothes that I will never be able to get into again. I have clothes that I’d forgotten I ever owned.

Sorting through my closet, I’m finding it so hard to get rid of the stuff I’m unearthing. What the hell is wrong with me? Am I a hoarder? Actually, I know I am. Not extreme, but I definitely am a bit of a pack rat. Look at all the things I have – stuff that are encased in layers of dust because I have not used it for years and years, because they are useless, or at least not relevant to my life.

I’ve had to be ruthless and I know it’s the right thing to be because once the outfit or the magazine or toy or whatever is in the bin liner, I cease to want it. I must make it a point not to do the same in Lagos. We have a huge house so it would be so easy for the junk to pile up, especially as I am a sucker for baubles.



I need at least one of these letterpress trays to display my treasures, none of which I am discarding because each piece means something to me. I have wanted one of these tray since I saw one used for this purpose in England. You can get them on eBay still. Another cool way to display knickknacks is in one of these tables with compartmentalised tops.


Ikea used to have one in their coffee table range, not sure if they still do, but I don’t think there’s a store in Lagos anyway. However, perhaps I can commission one from a local carpenter, and even something that looks like a letterpress tray. What fun.

As for my clothes, although I have already weeded out many items, I will have to discard even more. I am going to try to maintain a minimalist wardrobe, try being the operative word. Actually, I think it’s doable because I’ve always stuck to the same twenty or so items in my closet despite having dozens more. Apart from anything else, I don’t want to spend all of my 30kg luggage allowance on clothes. Hmm … maybe I should pack as if I’m going on a fortnight’s vacation ….

I’ve actually been reading fashion blogs and started a board on Pinterest for capsule wardrobes of various kinds. Who knows I may write my own capsule wardrobe guide one of these days 😉


Minus the winterwear of course!

Reading Plans for 2017

I read sixty three books in 2016, including many re-reads (Antonia Forest, Barbara Pym, Enid Blyton). I hope for more time to read this year. That is my dearest reading wish.

I would also like to read work by the following authors: Flora Nwapa; Octavia Butler; Nisi Shawl; Erin Bow; Rainbow Rowell; Dudu Busani Dube.

I would like to re-read Megan Whalen Turner; Susan Cooper; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Those are my plans for now.