Be Kind For A Month – Gave Clothes To Charity

Oct 17 2014 Published by under Be Kind For A Month

My wardrobes – like most people’s I would imagine – are bursting with clothes I either a) have never worn; b) haven’t worn for years; or c) can’t fit into any more. In fact, on seeing some of the clothes I pulled out of my wardrobes today I wondered how I ever managed to squeeze into them in the first place. Was I really the size of a five-year-old, five years ago? I had a good sort through and got a bundle together to give to a local charity shop. There were clothes I was sorry to see go (dresses I like but would feel too muttony in), clothes I’d worn once and wouldn’t wear again (dresses from Jigsaw and Bench), clothes I have no intention of wearing again (a suit and ‘officey’ type trousers) and various other items.


But which charity shop to take them to? I’m fussy about my charity shops – any that fund animal testing are definitely off my list, so I walked past the Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation shops and went straight to the PDSA shop; partly because, you know… animals… and partly because the last time I took clothes in there to donate, the old lady behind the till was so grateful you’d have thought I’d just changed my name to Noah and personally saved not just two of each animal but every single animal in the world.

Then I had a dilemma. The PDSA shop was shut for refurbishment (my cast offs had obviously made them a lot of money) and was empty except for a man cleaning the shiny new wooden floor. The sign on the door said it was re-opening tomorrow but I couldn’t see how unless they were planning to put all the furniture and stock back overnight but, still, I wasn’t going to lug all the clothes back home and bring them back tomorrow (I’m not that charitable) so I had to find a Plan B charity shop. Ashford is full of charity shops and I thought about giving them to Oxfam but then thought, don’t they get lots of funding and make loads of money anyway? Then I pondered taking the clothes to the YMCA shop but I’m not really sure what the YMCA does and doesn’t the C stand for Christian? I don’t want to give my clothes to some dodgy God thing and then I spotted up a side street a Pilgrims Hospice shop. Hooray!

I unloaded my rucksack full of clothes and gave them  to the woman behind the counter, then went over to the bookshelves and filled my rucksack back up with books. (When I say ‘fill’, I mean ‘three’ and yes, I did pay for them first.)



These books were a bargain – just £1 each, and the Complete Bread Machine Cookbook has been in my Amazon wishlist for approximately forever. I was also mega-tempted to buy the ‘200 Best Panini’ book (yes, really, such a book exists) but as I only like mozzarella and tomato panini, I left it on the shelf.

I think I’ve found my new favourite charity book shop. Yay.

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How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran: Book Review

May 12 2012 Published by under Book reviews

A Memoir of Masturbation, Menstruation and Music

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

I used to think Caitlin Moran was cool. This was because she worked for Melody Maker and, although that wasn’t as hip as working for the NME, it sounded more fun than, say, working in insurance.

How to be a Woman is part memoir, part feminist rant. Alarm bells should have rung when I saw the word ‘feminist’ (although, being female, I’m a feminist by default; I’m just not one of those feminists. Caitlin Moran most definitely is – or, at least, aspires to be – one of those feminists. You know, the really annoying ones).

The first three chapters concentrate on Moran’s fascination with masturbation and menstruation. Because her hero, Germaine Greer, says in The Female Eunuch that everyone should taste their own menstrual blood, Moran says, ‘I have, of course, tasted my own’. I’ll pass, thanks.

A discussion around masturbation and what she calls her vagina takes up an entire chapter. She also uses an impressive nine different names for it in two pages (including ‘lulu’, ‘moof’, Chihuahua’ and ‘toot’) and recounts a two-hour conversation with her sister where they suggest ‘Rolf’, as they decide it looks like Rolf Harris’ beard. Despite her vast vagina-based vocabulary, she can’t conjure up anything more creative to call masturbation than ‘it’ (‘“Masturbation” sounds too much like “perturbation”, “Wank … sounds like cranking a handle”’, she says).

Moran’s vagina monologue doesn’t stop there. We are treated to graphic descriptions of childbirth (‘my waters are unbroken – they break them with a crochet hook’) and abortion (‘The doctor then uses a vacurette to hoover my womb out’), and my own womb starts to spasm in sympathy. How her editor resisted reaching for the biggest red marker pen to scrawl TOO MUCH INFORMATION all over the manuscript, I don’t know.

A quarter of the way through the book, she starts getting SHOUTY and TYPING IN CAPITALS. This, as well as being unnecessary, is annoying. Fortunately, towards the end of the book she stops being shouty and turns off the caps lock.

Moran’s credibility shrinks when she writes about her time at Melody Maker in 1993. She whinges there weren’t any female singers to write about, making do with putting Echobelly on the cover. She asks where were the female rock bands to rival Led Zeppelin or Guns ‘n’ Roses. She obviously didn’t look very far. Come in L7 and Hole. And if they weren’t good enough for her, just how much more of an example of feminism did she need in 1993 than Anjali – the overweight Asian female singer of Voodoo Queens – screaming ‘Just get your shallow diets out of my face / Your thigh-rendering body-toning schemes’ in ‘Supermodel Superficial’? Remind me, where was Moran working that stopped her from hearing about these bands? An insurance office? No, Melody Maker. The music paper.

There are times, though, when I’m laughing and nodding my head in agreement (I too have neither a capsule wardrobe or a £600 investment handbag). She has an undeniable warmth to her writing, being funny without trying too hard. It’s just that at times she writes – to be blunt – rubbish, like she’s having an argument but with no one in particular. When Andrew Marr wrote in The Guardian that blogging is ‘the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night’, given her outpourings in How to be a Woman, he could have been talking about Moran, except Moran doesn’t need a blog. She already has one. It’s called ‘a column in The Times’.


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