Tag Archives: Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz

The Sex Issue

It’s three PM and I’m sitting in Cafe Jacqui’s with my Diet Pepsi and the sex issue of Diva trying to decide on what to write for this week’s blog. I feel a tiny bit awkward because I hadn’t actually realized that the May issue was the sex issue: I simply grabbed the magazine on a whim as I was rushing out of the house, thinking that reading one of the monthly columns might unlock some inspiration; but now I keep looking surreptitiously over my shoulder to see if the two octogenarian ladies at the table behind me have noticed on one of their many trips to the toilet that I am perusing a publication that is full of naked ladies.

Not that I’m particularly shy about my sexual orientation – my days of playing the pronoun game whilst trying to maintain a hetero charade are long and truly over, and there would quite possibly be a murder if Antonia ever heard me referring to her as ‘Toni’ – but similar to comedienne Susan Calman, I grew up in a household where sex was an untouchable subject (throats were cleared and channels were switched over whenever there was an ounce of nudity, or snogging scenes got a bit racy on the telly); and like she says in her latest article (‘It’s Getting Hot In here’), I also would ‘really rather we didn’t talk about it at all, thank you very much’.

And I know, that this might come as a surprise to some people – especially those writer friends of mine who’ve read the graphic lesbian sex scene in my girl-meets-girl novel ‘Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz’, not to mention the post-bath-time chapter early on where my young butch narrator gets on down with a hand-mirror to examine her vagina for the first time – but I really am quite shy when it comes to watching, reading about or discussing carnal topics; it’s all very well making my characters hot and horny and sexually liberated between the sheets of my manuscripts, but those people aren’t me – and if they were, I certainly wouldn’t be giving anyone a running commentary of what I get up to in the privacy of my bedroom!

To be on the safe side, I decide to quickly flick past the top five sex toy guide and the photographs of scantily-dressed couple Emily and Ali, and fix my gaze on Joanna Benecke’s queer grooming column. This month’s focus is on ethical make up and it includes the low down on Super Drug’s B range, a new-to-the-UK vegan brand called Pacifica Beauty, and a company called VF who specialise in cruelty-free face paint (veganfaces.co.uk); there is also an information box which goes into detail about
shark liver oil, boiled animal fat and other unappealing ingredients like cochineal beetles that are used in the production of non-vegan makeup, and I begin reading it with the best intentions, right before my gaze accidentally wanders to the opposite page where there’s a P!nk For Peta advert featuring the caption ‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’ alongside an au naturale picture of pop star Alecia Moore…

I don’t stay to read the next page which is about masturbation (another theme which has popped up multiple times in my writing) because I realise it’s nearly closing time, and besides I’m starting to sweat inside my hoody and I’m not certain it’s the heat that’s causing that. Also, I’m not sure whether the owner (who just walked past) was coughing loudly because she wanted me to leave because she was anxious to clear up and go home, or whether she just wanted me and my cheeky magazine to leave, period. Alternatively, I suppose she may just have had a summer cold.

As soon as I go home I plan to have a cuppa and a Nakd bar whilst checking out the film and TV reviews on pages thirty-one to thirty-three, before Antonia comes hammering on my door for her dinner; because, really, that’s about as risqué as I get.

Hairy Experiences


Recently I noticed a small, circular, bald patch on the side of my head about an inch or so above my right ear. It’s about the size of a twenty pence piece, and I’m not sure what caused it or when it first appeared: I suppose it could have been prompted by my overuse of ghds, or those corn rows I had put in last June (but I’m sure I would have noticed before now if it was traction alopecia); or it could simply be stress-related brought onby my recent life-changing cirumstances (although, to be honest, I’ve felt much more relaxed overall since I got the hell out ofRenfrew).

The thing is, I’ve spent so much time and energy over the years attacking my hair both physically and mentally that it probably serves me right: I’ve had it sheared short, tied back, waxed and gelled down flat, and even braided close to the scalp in a bid to keep it under my control. Nothing has worked for long. And aside from my barnet being bigger than anyone else’s I know (the girl who did my cornrows actually exclaimed mid-hairdo ‘you have the thickest hair I’ve ever saw on a white person’), my main (mane) moan is that it is neither completely straight nor completely curly, but a strange mingle of ringlets, semi-crimped clumps and occasional perpendicular strands.

My gran had hair like mine. At least that’s what I’m told. I saw an old sepia photograph once that more or less backed up that claim. But that’s not how I remember her. No, my gran’s most distinguishing feature was her almost completely bald head. Alopecia robbed her of her locks long before I knew her, save a few white whisps that grew around her ears and down the back of her neck. She didn’t like to wear hairpieces either because the one she got from the NHS irritated her scalp.

I often used to think about shaving my head so that I could wear a wig. I liked the idea of having lego hair that I could swap on a whim. I thought it would be so much easier for things like swimming because I wouldn’t have to wash’n’go – plus I could finally wear a swimming cap which was something I could never fit over my head because of my voluminous tresses.

As an adult, people often say to me now: ‘I wish I had hair like yours’; then they’ll follow it up with comments about how thick and glossy it is and how I’ve got lovely curls. Plus, they’ll ask shock-horror-style why on earth I waste two hours straightening it!?

But people weren’t always this kind: during high school, my hairdo was the bane of my existence and the butt of many jokes: ‘Hairdo’, ‘Scare cut’, ‘Hedge-hopper’ (who knows how the last one came into being or what the logic behind it was) these were just some of the nicknames I was plagued with. I was also once asked by a bitchy fourth year girl in my class if I’d had a perm that ‘went wrong’, and as a result I wore my hair in a pony tail plastered with products for the next two and half years.

Years ago, I wrote a teenage character with alopecia into my first novel (‘Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz’). She was partly inspired by my ex-girlfriend’s little sister who lost her hair during childhood. But Kirsten Best aka Princess Zest was a lighthearted and quirky wee soul who – on the surface at least – appeared to accept her baldness with amazing gusto; so I never really got to the root of describing the hairy angst that she went through, or my own shaggy demons.

Then in January this year, Magi Gibson, the writer, asked me to compile a short piece about hair during one of her Wild Women Writing Workshops. And, although I gave it a go, I didn’t get very far on that occasion, but I’ll admit it’s been a bit of a bugbear ever since.

Now, I don’t know if or when my hair will grow back, but I can only wait and hope. And next time be a little more grateful, and careful of what I wish for. Because I’ve just been doing a bit of googling, and decent wigs are not cheap.