Archive of ‘Let’s Get Serious’ category

From the American Dream to an American Horror Story?


Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be a political expert and certainly can’t predict how Clinton would have fared as president, had she won the US election 2016. This article is not about Clinton’s eligibility for the role of President. It’s about her opponent’s eligibility. Maybe the millions who voted for Trump know something that those of us who are shocked at the US election result don’t. Maybe I’m a bleeding heart Liberal. What I do know is that I have some sense of a moral compass and an ability to distinguish right from just downright wrong. So the following is my view of the situation. Not as a political pundit. Not as a grandstander who loves the sound of her own voice. But as a mother and a global citizen. Some of the most intelligent, cultured, rational, kind, open-minded people I know are American. It takes all sorts, especially in a country as vast as the USA. I realise this. Nevertheless, the following is how I feel. (Who knows? I might even break an Absolutely Prabulous rule and use the f-bomb.)

I set foot on American soil for the first time aged 21, with a huge rucksack on my back and an ecstatic smile on my face.

I will never forget almost falling out of the airport shuttle bus with excitement upon my first sighting of the Empire State Building. My heart just leapt. New York, one of the symbols of the American Dream, the city of a thousand TV series and films…was finally in front of me. I spent two months working on a summer camp near Great Barrington, MA, before Greyhounding it around the States, East to West back to East coast; the best memories.

I returned to the UK two stone heavier with a ridiculous (thankfully shortlived) American drawl and an addiction to Mexican food and American pancakes.

A love affair with the USA had begun; I really did think it was the best at everything. There were frustrations too such as the lack of wordliness of most Americans I met and the belief that their country was the centre of the universe. But I was young and forgiving (naive?). The years rolled by. Many dreams of living there, several wonderful holidays to the States – including an incredible honeymoon – later, my husband and I applied to move stateside with our young family. We were denied the visa twice; despite having a very strong application and an excellent sponsor. I cannot deny, that for various reasons, I was actually relieved. I had decided, for so many reasons (how long have you got?) that it just isn’t a country where I would feel comfortable raising my children. The love affair had ended.  I take no pleasure in saying that and hope with all my heart that my friends Stateside are not offended.

Today, the day on which the US election 2016 results were announced, I walked into my neighbourhood café, stared open-mouthed at the TV screen and genuinely considered asking the barista to slip some whiskey in my cappuccino to take the edge off my horror.  

Note, I hate whiskey. The café was packed; the staff immobile watching the news aghast.  My friend Marilyn (alias) arrived to join me for a quick coffee.  The first thing she said was “I thought of you as soon as I heard the result and I thought Prabs must be so happy they never got the visa to move to the States.” (Well I think the very first thing she said to me was Holy F**k). And yes, I am thanking my lucky stars and stripes (see what I did there?) we didn’t move. The ensuing conversation consisted mainly of WTF and several more various expletives. “This is Brexit supersized”, she said. Well it’s the USA. Everything is supersized. [Ponders whether to elaborate on this…]

We finished coffee, I headed off to run household errands and then a while later, sat down to try to write something about this fateful day, the day the world became even more insane.

Which brings me to now. Frankly I’m staring at my screen paralysed, unable to process what has happened. The line ‘I don’t know how to explain this to my kids’ was never more true.  When your 12 year-old daughter asks “But Mummy why would women vote for a person who has zero respect for females or anyone?”…actually I can’t finish that sentence.

I wanted to entitle this piece A Letter to America, You are Still the Biggest and the Best.

But the American dream and horror film analogy kept whirring round in my head. But if I did write a letter to those in America who voted for Donald Trump, I guess this would be it:

So America you have spoken. The nation that has forever believed itself to be the biggest and the best, showing the rest of the world, the land of dreams where anything is possible…you have put a maniac with no moral code in the White House (well at least you proved that anything is in fact possible). Donald Twunt has made it to the Oval Office. A classless belligerent liar is replacing the famous stars and stripes with ignorance, chauvinism, hatred and division etc. You have shown that you value the nonsensical promises and locker-room utterings of a man who is unable to construct a coherent sentence.

In voting to Make America ‘great again’, you have actually made America an utter laughing stock. Except what has happened is no laughing matter; it is in fact utterly terrifying, an example of totally incomprehensible democracy. More American Horror Story than American Dream.

You, the country that filled us with hope in electing its first black president, have done an absolute u-turn and now handed the most important job on the planet to an orange-faced racist, homophobic, tax-avoiding sexual predator. I can’t help thinking of the TV series title. I guess Orange is the New Black now… This isn’t entertainment, though. This shit just got real.

Let’s not pretend that the gender of the loser was not a very real issue here. You see America, it’s no longer a mere glass ceiling. It’s a gigantic concrete one, painted an ominous black for all the world to see.

 You have declared to the world that it is perfectly acceptable to have someone with the intelligence and sensitivity of a spoon run your country as long as they are not a woman. It would seem a woman, on whom the only ‘dirt’ that could be found was an email scandal that turned out to be no scandal, is not to be trusted…whilst it is clear that a man, with an exhausting record of blacklistable offences, is the perfect contender for President of the United States of America.

You have decided it is safe to give the enormous responsibility of the role of Commander in Chief to an unpredictable toddler who masquerades as an adult. Just think about that America. A man who is incapable of controlling his words and behaviour – whether it’s his urge to grab a woman by the vagina or insult a terminally ill supporter – will have his finger on the button! Not a woman’s blouse button…well alright there’ll be plenty of that because he thinks that the sexual harassment of women is a sport and a man’s birthright…but no I mean THE BIG RED BUTTON.

You are comfortable having the USA represented on the entire world stage by a narcissistic showboater who can’t even behave himself in front of just a few hundred people and makes the most hair-raisingly inappropriate comments.

You have shown to your own flesh and blood that you place zero value on the existence or future of females or else why would you have put a contempt-filled misogynist, guilty of repeated sexual assault, in such a position of power? Female Trumpettes…you stagger me!

You have chosen to believe that a self-aggrandising bully has your best interests at heart.

 You have entrusted the overseeing of financial policies for the restoration of your retirement pensions and the rehabilitation of the American dollar to a man who has boasted about tax evasion, lost a billion dollars and is notorious for shafting his own employees.

You apparently see no wrong in putting at the same table as Heads of State, a raging racist. Oh the mental image America! Never mind Trump holding discourse with Presidents and Prime Ministers in the Eastern or Arab world. He’s only got to go north of the border: how long do you give it before he insults the Canadian Minister of Defence?!

You have found it in yourselves to invest a power hungry devil with the authority to nominate the Supreme Court members. The Supreme Court people! The most powerful entity that makes THE most important decisions that affect you, your partner, brother, sister, mother, father, children (God help us all YOUR CHILDREN!), your neighbour, your friend.  If that isn’t a horror story right there, I don’t know what is.


I understand that people are sick of the political elite and feel that the establishment has ignored them – but the idea that a billionaire, non-tax payer like Donald Trump is their anti-establishment champion is what baffles me. He’s not the answer, he’s part of that same problem. Jeff Gardiner, Author


So dear America. You really have gone from embodying the American dream to a total nightmarish horror story.

Whilst I be may be sighing an enormous sigh of relief over you denying us that visa, I can’t deny that you still are the biggest and the best.  Bravo. You elected the biggest imbecile and when you fuck up, you do it better than everyone.

Oh look, there’s the f-bomb.





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Will We Ever Get There? (International Day of the Girl)

I tend to start my day checking my social media on my phone before I’ve barely drawn two breaths or gone for a pee.

What can I say?  Blogger.  A couple of weeks ago I saw something in my Facebook feed that caught my attention…and not in a good way.  This:




Yep my day had started with me feeling a bit riled.
I shared it on my Facebook page (link) and filed it away in my brain in the ‘pending’ compartment rather than shoving it right to the back of my mind as I had a funny feeling I’d end up writing about it.  Fast forward to this morning: cursory check of social media and I see something in my feed about some sort of World Day and almost ignore it as every day marks something or other (well with 365 days in the year, every day marks more than one thing).  I don’t know what caught my eye and made me hover instead of just scrolling past but I’m glad I lingered as it was a World Day that I could actually appreciate.  International Day of the Girl to be precise.   You may have seen the frames you could place temporarily on your Facebook profile picture in honour of it and to show your support for girls.  ‘Support for girls’…I can’t help wondering if this is a sad regrettable turn of phrase to have to use…


It’s accurate to say I’m usually late to the party, always the last to know etc so I’d never even heard of this day until today.  (Incidentally, blogger extraordinaire Motherhood the Real Deal who had heard of this day published a fantastic article with regards to raising girls; I really do think it’s a must read.)  I actually wasn’t going to write anything as I’d sort of ‘missed the boat’ with timing and I’m not a fan of hurriedly bashing posts for publication the same day as I usually regret it.  And I would love to write something positive and uplifting.  Instead I’m giving you this!

Something happened.  My eldest said something that was so very telling that I knew I had to write something.

I had asked her about her day – as you do while chopping the onions for dinner, answering questions from the other two at the same time and trying to drink that cold cup of tea – and she mentioned a learning assistant who is fairly new amongst the teaching staff.  She gushed about how lovely she is and I asked what she liked about her.  The first thing she mentioned?  Not the assistant’s teaching ability/professionalism/friendliness/nationality or even which class she assists.  No.  It was her looks.  I nearly cut my finger.  This is becoming more frequent; her talking about people…females…firstly from a physical perspective.


Image courtesy of Loryn Brantz Books


It’s not unknown for her to meet someone for five minutes and decide they are the nicest human she’s ever met being purely because she thought were physically attractive.

But who can blame her?  The media and entertainment industries endlessly pushes its version of the perfect female and what girls are ‘good for’ at us so you can’t blame past, current and future generations of females to buy into it and believe they are meant to be that version.  Hell, hardly any of us have been able to avoid the self-doubt, the desire to be thinner, taller, have perfect hair and skin and so on.  I honestly can’t blame my 12 year old daughter for judging other females first and foremost by their looks, hate it as I might, because she really is just a product of the society she’s growing up in.  The thing is, we’ve all done it and it’s a vicious circle.  How can we hope to be taken seriously by males when actually we ourselves judge one another on entirely the wrong criteria?

Our everyday language referring to females is full of references to beauty, princesses, booty, finding Mr Right (as if that’s the ideal).  Shouldn’t it Be More About Ambition Achievement, Humanity and Intelligence?

I think of those magazine covers that had annoyed me so much and the many magazines that have been published over the decades with nothing but beauty and fashion for girls, those damned tabloid newspapers that only manage to describe women in terms of hair colour and relationship status, beauty pageants, porn sites and those bloody Kardsashians who’ve done such a great job of making intelligence old fashioned.

Ultimately, however, I know no matter how well I teach my girls, no matter how many opportunities my husband and I try to give them in life, they are living in a society that still has far to go in improving its attitudes towards females…



Are our girls’ very own attitudes part of the problem, especially if they are growing up in environments that don’t empower females or recognise they can do pretty much anything they set their mind to?

I’m not suggesting those brave suffragettes at the turn of the last century and the feminists of later decades suffered and struggled and raised hell in vain.  Not at all.  Women are better educated, wealthier, healthier, more independent and more accomplished than those suffragettes could ever have hoped for.  We have amazing athletes, people of science, artists, entertainers, heads of government, revered academics and so on.  But we also know there is still that glass ceiling.  We know that negative body obsession and failing mental health is on the increase. We also know there are far too many countries where females receive no education, too many cultures that have horrendously little respect for females and too many incidents of physical torture and sexual assault and then right here on our Western doorstep…those damned magazine covers!  Let’s face it, you don’t have to go East to India or the Middle East or down to Africa to encounter disparaging attitudes towards women designed to keep them down.

Thanks to the toupéed one who goes by the name of Donald, we know that the West will also never be rid of men with an ingrained disrespect for females…monsters who are making sure the ‘female struggle’ continues.  

As a mother I can’t help worry about this.  The obvious question of what world I brought my kids into comes to mind and I do feel that the struggle to raise females is real (don’t forget to read that post by Talya mentioned above once you’ve finished this).

I guess that’s where i’m going with this.  When it comes down to it, I have to ask how far have we actually come raising our daughters?  We want so much for them…

Will we ever get there?

back of girl in swimsuit about to jump into the sea


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How has it come to this and when will it stop?

How has it come to this title image of Prabs sitting on beach pondering

I thought a lot about the title of this post. I mean, how do you distil that feeling of ‘For crying out loud, what the actual heck is WRONG with people?’ into a snappy and less immature headline?

I also contemplated a fair bit how to write the post itself.  Sometimes, when you feel really strongly about a subject, the words just pour out of you, so fast that you in fact struggle to get them down quickly enough. Other times, you are so incensed, so utterly furious, it’s just impossible to find the words because you can’t even ‘think in a straight line’ through the hot anger.  The screen remains as blank as your mind.

Maybe I’m just premenopausal or highly strung and need to take a gigantic chill pill in the form of a massive suppository to put up my uptight bottom.  Yes I said that.  Keyboard warriors are welcome to latch onto that and do their thing.
Maybe I should just accept things have always been this messed up and it’s naiive to think it has not and I’m simply noticing it more now that I’m an adult and because of that pesky ‘can’t live with it-can’t live without it’ thing called the Internet.  After all, you can’t fight every battle and you just drag yourself down if you try.
Maybe I should just stay off social media as there is increasingly some sort of poison on there and the only way to avoid it is…well to just avoid it!
But I’m a blogger so social media is an essential tool for me.

Or maybe…just maybe…I simply care.
Maybe I simply give a damn in this age of apathy.
Maybe I’m really really tired of the dumbing down of society, of stupidity and vulgarity being the new aspiration whilst intelligence/intellectualism (which used to be the aspiration) is increasingly reviled and mocked.
Maybe I’m simply staggered at the malevolence and cowardice of keyboard warriors who probably shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of a device because of the long lasting damage they inflict with a comment that took seconds to type, without so much as batting an eyelid…

Blimey…what’s eating at her then?

Frankly, there have been many things causing me a heavy feeling of despondency and despair for some time but inevitably there is usually that last straw to break the camel’s back.


Talk about my frustration over not being able to just let my children listen to the radio on the school run without me constantly assuming the job of lyric police because it’s become the norm, certainly where I live, to air songs full of the F-bomb during the day.  No 9pm watershed.  I could then go on to mention how it’s not just on the radio but at playgrounds, like the one near my kids’ school that also has an outdoor cafe where you can relax with other parents and chat over a coffee while your kids play.  Sorry, let me rephrase that: where you can relax while your kids play until the sound of their laughter is sharply interrupted by the foul words in the music coming through the speakers.   I could then further elaborate about my despair that this has spread to places including retail outlets.  Imagine just popping into town with your kids and as they’re in a changing room trying on essentials, humming along to some song, that same cool track descends into a shocking chorus consisting of F this and F that, leading your six and nine year old to look like rabbits caught in headlights.

MDK listening to music with headphones

How has it come to this?

How have we got to the point where those involved in the entertainment industry have so little integrity that they give higher priority to shock value and the almighty dollar than protecting young eyes and minds?
When will the foul language in the music our kids are singing along to stop?


Air my utter sadness and confusion over the endless breast feeding dramas that hit the headlines and wonder why there is such an outrageous incomprehensible double standard going on.  I barely have the energy to write much about this because frankly I’m tired. Tired of one of the most natural things being maligned by narrow-minded ignoramuses.  Tired of it being acceptable to see a barely clothed woman on a magazine cover promoting something banal like a hair brush, or to drive down a road past prominently placed advertising boards showing boobs spilling out of teeny weeny bikinis just to advertise sunglasses.


How has it come to this?

How is it deemed perfectly acceptable for women’s breasts to be used in unnecessarily provocative images by the advertising industry but woe betide a woman who actually breastfeeds her child in public?  When will women stop being treated like lepers for using their breasts for one of the main things they were designed for?!


Describe the ugly incident I endured recently when I went to a sports shop to collect the kids’ kits for their swimming course and was told to “shut the **** up” by the Neanderthal who barged into the changing room where my son was waiting for the correct size of trunks.  When I expressed dismay over him using such foul language in front of children, a barrage of further insults came at me…in front of my kids and other children.  Sadly, it was one of those times in my life where I knew that had I been a ‘lighter’ colour, this man would have had no issue with me.  In fact, one of the mortified female shop assistants agreed when I quietly mentioned this to her.  Equally sad, other customers simply looked on.  I’d be unable to stand by and do nothing if I saw someone going through that! Talking of the assistants, I pray there will be no employee of the year prize for the male shop assistant, whom I begged to help me, who simply replied with a hostile “What do you want me to do?”

This was just one week after a cyclist (in London) called me every name under the sun including a few I’d never heard when I mistakenly walked across a pedestrian crossing thinking the green walk sign was on.  Yes, I know, my bad (well actually my mum’s as I followed her) as it would have been nasty if he’d fallen off.  I get it.  (And maybe my face just invites trouble!)  But given there were no other vehicles on the road and he had ample space to ride, the tirade of abuse that continued in my direction was unreal, especially as he carried on shouting it from half way down the road, again in front of children who were waiting at the kerb.  I’m not some Dolly Daydream wandering about picking flowers and wondering why everyone isn’t singing the Sound of Music score all day (you should see me behind the wheel of the car here in Malta) but it’s the sheer level of hate that falls out of people’s mouths that just astounds me.



How has it comes to this? 

Why are people SO ready to just sound off at someone with unjustified vitriol?  How has society abandoned its belief in the importance of collectively raising the younger generation?  How have we got to the point where people don’t want to help someone in trouble?  If there is a fear of being attacked for intervening, fair enough I guess, but this is a small Mediterranean island, not New York or London, and that isn’t common here.  I’ve experienced this before (the infamous fishmonger incident) and again, people just looked on in silence.  When will apathy and non-reaction stop?

But actually, the thing that has really jolted my blog brain back into action after it was melting in the Maltese heat upon returning from my UK trip, because it has irked me so much, is…

the absurd reaction by many to the picture of Victoria Beckham kissing Harper, her daughter, on the lips.  I’ll just let that hang in the air for a minute…

Yes, VB, former pop star, now fashion designer, mother and occasional smiler, posted a picture on Instagram of herself and her baby girl in a pool with a caption wishing her daughter a happy birthday.  A picture that anyone well meaning or with two brain cells to rub together or just anyone capable of loving another human being, would surely view as a gorgeous testament to a mother’s love for her daughter (and presumably vice versa)?  Nothing more, nothing less.  Or am I just mad?


Now, let me state I am not a fan of Mrs Beckham.  I’ve just never warmed to her, I think mainly because of the non smiling thing.  BUT I am a fan of common sense prevailing.  I am a fan of showing kids they are loved.  I am a fan of behaving with dignity and not spewing out spiteful rash remarks on people’s social media posts.  And I am a huge fan of butting the heck out of someone’s right to show their love for their kids rather than viewing them with narrow-minded suspicion.

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second.  Let’s say we’ve all been played.  Who knows?  Maybe this is one of those fake ‘I’m the perfect mother with the perfect family and every day is wonderful and nothing bad ever happens’ posts.  Maybe this was the former Spice Girl’s PR team calculatedly planning that day’s IG feed.  Maybe it’s just an excuse for a spot of narcissism (isn’t the very essence of Instagram a bit narcissistic?).  In that case, I suppose if VB cares – and I hope she doesn’t – it backfired somewhat, given the nutty comments.

But I’m willing to bet money it’s just an innocent picture of a mother kissing her daughter.  That. Is. All.  There is no scandal here people! There is no wrong doing or image showing dubious intent here!

Can’t we just see images like this as a welcome relief from those we are seeing in this awful period of massive political divides, terror attacks, political party leaders treating their jobs like a game of Musical Chairs and the horrifying growing influence of that toupéed one they call Donald.  Some light in the darkness, right? No harm done, right?  Nope, apparently not.

Have people just seen so many images of global atrocities, paedophiliac poison, inexplicable murders and children being abducted, that it’s darkened their very souls leaving them unable to recognise a wholesome positive image when they see one?

Here are just four of the bizarre (in my view) remarks posted by people in response to the picture:

  • “Gross, it looks like they’re making out.”
  • “This is so inappropriate and so lesbian.”
  • “It’s weird.”
  • “It’s nice but you’re not supposed to kiss you’re children on the lips. I’m not trying to be rude but it’s true.”

I totally understand each to their own and all that.  If you’re not comfortable kissing your child on the lips, that’s your prerogative.  Just as it is Victoria’s prerogative to kiss Harper on the lips.  Making offensive judgemental remarks like the above is just mind boggling to me and I say to those specific commenters:

  • No it doesn’t look like they’re making out.  Clearly you don’t know what making out looks like.
  • The only thing inappropriate here is your own twisted reaction to this picture, not to mention your obvious anti-lesbian attitude as well.  Let’s trash parental love and have a sideswipe at female gays too while we’re at it.  Way to go. Two insults for the price of one.
  • Nope, not weird.  I’m looking at the picture trying very hard to spot the weirdness but nope.  I just can’t find it.
  • That’s just it, you are being rude actually.  Telling VB (literally stating it as if it’s gospel) that she is not supposed to kiss her kids on the lips (or in fact telling her what she is or is not supposed to do at all) is…  What’s the word?  Oh yes.  Rude!  As for the ‘true’ bit.  Seriously?  Obviously I can’t be aware of every law that was ever passed but I’m pretty sure that kissing one’s child on the lips has never been outlawed. PS What you’re not ‘supposed’ to do is batter your child or sexually abuse them.  You are supposed to shower them with love, however.

And then there are the social etiquette experts (there’s an expert for everything) such as Liz Brewer who claims “Normally with a member of your family you don’t kiss on the lips unless it’s your husband”.   You can read more in this BBC News article.  I have to say I would have thought someone who is an expert on social etiquette would realise that actually the only ‘normally’ should be that:

Normally people determine within their own family unit what they consider to be appropriate expressions of affection because this will differ from family to family, culture to culture.

(I also would have thought they would be aware that not every family has a husband and that there are different types of partner but there are only so many battles I’ll fight in the one post.)  We are not in the puritannical 1800’s or the repressed 1950’s where any form of public display of affection was frowned upon.  Now obviously, forcing oneself upon somebody is unacceptable.  Obliging another human being to engage in physical demonstration of affection against their will is not on.  And Cathy Bussey does raise some interesting and valid points on this whole issue about the blurred lines in her Daily Telegraph article.

How has it come to this?  

We can’t get away from the culture of sexualisation of our children from an early age.  The music they are hearing is filled with filth.  We are surrounded by provocative advertising just to get us buy a ruddy chocolate bar.  And there are those who raise their girls to be hot for the opposite sex from an early age.  But the trolls don’t bat an eyelid about these very real problems because apparently, they aren’t worth their energy.  Meanwhile a mother posts a picture of her and her daughter in what is an innocent affectionate act.  Keyboard warriors go crazy, call it sexual and turn a non-issue into an issue.  As blogger Helen puts it,

The world has become so angry and people’s minds explode over the smallest thing.

World’s gone mad.

When. Will. It. Stop?

If you liked this post and/or enjoy my blog, would you consider voting for me (takes literally seconds) in the Mumsnet Blogging Awards?  I’d be super grateful if you gave me a vote for the Best Writer and Best Comic Writer categories. Thanks in advance!


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