Purity – A good thing or a little bit weird?



This week channel 4 are showing a documentary about one of the 'Purity Balls' that are springing up around the US. It intrigued me so I thought I'd read up a bit about and having done so, to decide whether this movement is a genuine urge from parents to protect their daughter from going off the rails or a desperate attempt to retain control of them in a world where young girls don't stay young for as long as they did in their parent's generation.

From what I can see, the argument is that the bible laid the responsibility of taking care of a daughter on her father and so it is up to her father to ensure she remains pure for the man she marries. They also claim it is keeping their daughter pure in a world that is tainted. To an extent I can see the point, the world can be a dark place and protecting a child is surely a natural instinct but I'm also sceptical.

One article I looked at was this one. In it the father of an 11 year old girl says "It sounds unrealistic in our day and age, it's not the exact path I went down personally, but if it can work, how cool would it be to say I've been kissed by one man in my life? How special, how cherished, how set apart? Why not shoot for the fairytale?". Firstly he is openly admitting that he wasn't prepared to take this path, he didn't save himself purely for the woman who would one day become his wife but yet he is asking an 11 year old to pledge to do just that. 11 is young, at 11 you aren't yet rebellious, you still want to please and personally I believe it is too young to ask a girl to make a pledge that she may have to stick to for ten years or more. Secondly, I don't believe that only kissing one boy in your entire life makes you any more cherished than anyone else. You still have the same chance of marrying someone who turns out be a complete swine and who has the ability to make you feel 2 inches tall, probably even more so because if you haven't even kissed him it's doubtful you've lived with him and it's not till you live with someone that the moths come out of the cupboard.

The Purity Ball was set up by Randy Wilson of the New Life Church in Colerado. His belief is that "if girls get assurance about their beauty from their father they won't need to go outside the home to find out from other men. The father, he is convinced, is everything to a young girl.". Well yes, it's true that girls will always be special to their fathers. Despite the fact that my dad and me swear like troopers at each other and mock each other mercilessly, everyone knows that I'm still Daddy's Girl. My best friend is the same (although her family swear a lot less). However I believe that there are some things that are not the role of a father and deciding a husband, fulfilling all but the sexual roles of a boyfriend and deciding for a girl whether she will or she won't be taking the abstinence path are 3 that should not be done by daddy. Getting involved with boys, be it romantically or not, is part of growing up, it teaches you how to deal with the attentions of men, it teaches you how to interact, it teaches you to look out from behind the safety of your family and see the world, to take your first peek at the good things and the bad things that might be waiting out there. Getting your heart broken by some pimply little squirt whose name and face you won't recall in 5 years time is a rite of passage that most girls go through and I think should be a girl's decision whether she wants to experience these everyday teenage dramas, not her father's. Randy's daughter married the first man she had ever dated. She had known him for 8 weeks when they got engaged, their engagement was 6 months long and for 5 of them he was away with the military. They didn't kiss or even hold hands until they got married. Personally, I think that's bloody weird.

To be honest it would never have worked in our house anyway, from the age of about 12 onwards I would rather have removed my spleen with a rusty teaspoon than discuss sex with my dad, the very thought of him having any input into my sex life would have had me running screaming for the hills but that's just our family I guess. Maybe some teenage girls are less awkward than me but even if I hadn't been that way it wouldn't have happened because my dad was a believer in letting me make my own mistakes and decisions. Sure, my parents advised me, they had boundaries and limits but they wanted me to discover life for myself and this is my main issue with the Purity movement, is the decision to take the path of abstinence the decision of the girl or her father? Nine times out of ten it appears to be his and she goes along with it because young girls look up to their dad and want them to be proud. It must be hard being a father because at some point you know that you won't be the centre of your little girl's world anymore, another man will come along and take that place. These Purity fathers seem to me to be trying to hold on to their children, to keep control of them for longer than they would be able to under normal circumstances, they seem to want to delay the moment of losing their place for as long as possible.

So, I'll be watching the programme tomorrow to see if it tells whether it tells me anything I didn't know or whether it confirms my suspicions. Who knows, perhaps it'll change my perspective and show me that in a chaotic world this is the way forward but to be honest it'd have to contain some pretty compelling evidence to convince me that Purity Balls and all the related pledges are anything more weirdness and control freakery.  

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Question of the Day

"How do you know when a relationship has run its course and it's time to call it quits?"


When you'd rather sleep with Gordon Brown than him and everything he says makes you want to knock him out with a heavy-based pan.

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Another one who believes their own hype….

What has been missing for a while is 'Wanker of the Week", in fact we haven't had one since Robert Mugabe graced these pages with his hilarious insanity so, although it's only Monday I feel it's time to crown ourselves another 'Wanker of the Week'.

And this week's award goes to…….



JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. Let's have a look at what she has done to merit this prestigious prize shall we?

This week, JK has announced that she has donated the princely sum of 1 million English pounds to the Labour party because:

"I believe that poor and vulnerable families will fare much better under the Labour Party than they would under a Cameron-led Conservative Party.

"Gordon Brown has consistently prioritised and introduced measures that will save as many children as possible from a life lacking in opportunity or choice.

David Cameron's promise of tax perks for the married, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the Conservative government I experienced as a lone parent.

"It sends the message that the Conservatives still believe a childless, dual-income, but married couple is more deserving of a financial pat on the head than those struggling, as I once was, to keep their families afloat in difficult times."

Absolutely JK, this is a brilliant theory as long as you ignore a couple of pesky facts that get in the way.

1. The gap between rich and poor in this country is bigger than it has ever been and is widening still. Labour have, in this respect, made things worse. They have also wreaked such havoc on the education system that a fair number of kids in deprived areas leave school unable to read or write. They abolished the assisted places scheme so really bright kids who could previously attend private schools and have their fees paid for them can no longer do this. They got rid of the grants system and introduced tuition fees followed by top up fees, meaning that even if kids decide that they can afford university, they will emerge from it with a debt of tens of thousands of pounds. Personally, I wouldn't have said that New Labour have done anything to improve the choices or opportunities of kids who are struggling.

2. The government's policy of paying out and dishing out council houses to single mums has left us with one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Europe. This isn't something to be proud of or to be encouraged as a career option. Don't get me wrong, there are loads and loads of single mums out there struggling through no fault of their own after relationships have broken down but all of the single mums I know have taken control of their own situation and are working, they are not sat at home all day bemoaning the fact that state benefits aren't high enough. If we weren't spending quite so much cash funding multiple kids for teenagers who never intend to pay their way then we would have more money to support the women who have actually found themselves unable to manage through no fault of their own and who require assistance.   

3. Do a little bit of research and it emerges that JK's harsh life as a single mum in Edinburgh is not quite what it seems. According to her own interview with the BBC she had a number of secretarial jobs but:

"I was never paying much attention in meetings because I was usually scribbling bits of my latest stories in the margins of the pad or thinking up names for my characters," she said.

So she kept getting fired. She then considered going back to teaching, but decided that:

"I knew that full-time teaching, with all the marking and lesson planning, let alone a small daughter to care for single-handedly, would leave me with absolutely no spare time at all,"

My heart bleeds dear. Welcome to the world of working parents everywhere. So basically JK, what you've said is that you chose to not concentrate at work then when you got fired to not bother seeking further employment. This means that the struggle you harp on about ALL THE TIME is entirely of your own making. Frankly my dear, if you'd spent your time working instead of sitting on your arse in cafes writing mediocre prose about teenage wizards, you might have found things a little easier. 

4. JK has claimed that she got a grant from the Scottish Arts Council that 'helped her buy a typewriter' so she could painstakingly type out the manuscript for her second book. According to the Scottish Art Council's website, the amount granted to her was £8000. What the fuck sort of typewriter did she buy that cost her more than £8k? Jesus, you can buy a laptop with a printer and scanner for a whole less than £1k so this image of her using her tiny little grant to keep her struggling little head above water is just one more crock of shit in the pile that is JK Rowling's spin. Still. I guess we should have been able to guess what party she would come out for, given the fact that virtually everything in her past has been spun and shaped into something different to fit the image she is trying to portray.

5. If she was trying to help single parents and poor children, as she claims, why give the money to a political party? Everyone knows that it will just be swallowed up in pointless committees and red tape so why not donate it to a charity that helps kids stuck in the poverty trap. There are plenty to choose from so why not offer the million pounds to one of them to really do some good? Call me cynical but I suspect it's because donating a shitload of money to a charity, quietly and without fuss, isn't going to buy you a space on the New Year's Honours List. As we've all seen time and again, donating a shitload of money to Labour does. Dame JK? Doesn't it sound lovely? She's probably practising her new signature as I type.

So, it's well done to JK Rowling, a woman who has been called "One of the world's greatest living authors" by her great friend Gordon Brown, despite not even being one of the greatest living authors in Edinburgh, never mind the world. A woman who had been out of the headlines for a while so decided to garner a bit of publicity by announcing that 'Dumbledore' a geriatric wizard who had the sum total of no sexual encounters throughout the entire Harry Potter series, was in fact gay. JK Rowling, you might not yet have your OBE but step forward and collect your prize for I do declare you to be…Wanker of the Week.

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I’ve got a lot to get done in just one year.

It's my birthday. Woooooo. I'm stuck at work. Not wooooooo.

Today I'm 29. This means that next year I'll be 30 and as everyone knows, there are certain things you are supposed to have achieved by the time you're 30 to avoid becoming a loser, one of those people that no one wants to sit on a table with at family weddings who smells like a cross between cats and wee and who doesn't brush their hair. You know the type. It's a well known fact that if you can achieve all these social milestones you will be a bastion of happiness, taste, personal hygiene and contentment. So, how many of these milestones have I achieved?


Living with the person you want to settle down with.

Technically speaking I've lived with 2 people I fully intended to settle down with, 3 if you count the very brief sojourn on a canal boat with a chef I met on a train from London (not my finest hour, admittedly). The first one, Ben, I lived with for 2 years during my 2nd and 3rd year at uni and for a while afterwards. The second one I married and after 2 years am STILL married to (result!). So, I think I can definately tick that box. Good start.


Living in a nice house in an area you like.

Well I live in a house which when I can be arsed cleaning or tidying it is nice. I suspect it would be a whole lot nicer if I could afford a cleaner because after a full day at work I am ill inclined to spend my evening dusting and vacuuming. And let's face facts, I've always been a slovenly wench. So the house is good, I can tick that. The area, well, that's up for debate. I live in a semi detached and the Hell-Twins next door, who I think are about 4, spend all day bouncing each other off the interior walls. At least that's what I assume the little sods are doing because I can't think of anything else that would produce banging, crashing and screaming for 18 hours a day. When I went to my cousin Chris's house I looked out of his upstairs front window and looked over the fields of Cumbria. At Andrew's house I looked out of the upstairs front window and looked across a ploughed field down to the river Tweed and the ruins of Berwick Castle opposite. Last night I looked out of my upstairs front window and what did I see? The teenager in the house opposite was once again watching porn on his 42 inch bedroom TV and an exceedingly scruffy looking woman was walking an albino ferret round the car park on a lead. I'm not joking either. House is good but I think the location needs work.


Be financially solvent with plenty of savings.

I'm not even going to go there.


Drive a nice car.

I am perfectly happy with my Harlot Scarlet Ford Fiesta. Box ticked.


Have a good job that you enjoy and a career (if that is the path you have chosen).

Percentage breakdown of my day: 30% - Doing work that Mr Useless should be doing but has been deemed too stupid to complete successfully. 20% – Correcting things that Mr Useless has cocked up and taking irate phone calls from people whose day has been hijacked by Mr Useless's complete rubbishness. 30% - Doing stuff that is in my job description. 20% – Fannying about on the internet to avoid doing the really boring things that I am meant to be doing. I think the career/ job thing needs dealing with this year.


Have had your first child.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure children are a delight and all that but it isn't for me. You can't leave them in the house when you go to the pub, you can't put them in kennels when you go on holiday, you can't even have a lie-in anymore because for some weird reason kids get up stupidly early. They bring home such many and varied gifts as flu, gastroenteritus and art made form glitter and pasta which sheds all over your carpet. You are guaranteed to spend at least a week of your life sitting in various hospital departments while they get their bones/ nose reset after falling over/ getting run over/ falling out of trees. And they cost a FORTUNE. Especially if they're clever. You'd spend less money buying a Bugatti Veyron than bringing up a kid and a Bugatti is never going to give you nits.


So, all in all, I've ticked some boxes but a few still need some work before next year. I'm saving up for a detached house in the country and I've worked out that at my crrent rate of saving it should only take me 563 years to reach my goal. Never mind, one step at a time, eh? 



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The London Olympics – Let’s get involved!

Politicians, mainly the ones who are involved in this harebrained scheme, have been complaining that there are those in the provinces and indeed in the capital itself who are not showing the proper enthusiasm and reverence for the multi-billion pound scheme that is London’s 2012 Olympics. I say piffle, why would we up North possibly not think it’s a great idea when hurtling towards a recession to spend the price of 16 new hospitals on a fucking great stadium and some more London based attractions? As if! And just to prove my support for the idea, I’ve come up with some more ideas for sports ‘with a British theme’ that I think would make a charming addition to the Olympic schedule.



Chav Hunting

Fox hunting was a uniquely British pastime but was rightly banned because foxes have feelings too. So how about chav hunting? No one gives a shit about chavs, they are ten a penny, they smell funny and they aren’t cute and cuddly like foxes. Release a chav in Croyden, Salford or some other rathole and give it ten minutes to run. Then….RELEASE THE HOUNDS! Off go the horses, away go the dogs, feel the excitement and hear the hunting horn competing with the roar of horns from the knocked off Datsuns parked outside Lidl. See the Elizabeth Duke jewellery and fake china shepherdesses go flying as 15 hounds and 8 thoroughbreds pursue Jaydon through Kofi Annan House! The winner is the hunter that manages to get the chav in a headlock and remove its fake Rolex and dodgy Burberry cap.




Formation Pram Dancing

It’s a little bit like sychronised swimming but there’s no water and none of the competitors are more than 15 years old. See the sparkle as the sunlight hits the chrome of Kayleigh-Chantelle’s mock Burberry pram. So far Britain has excelled in this sport because it’s the only country with enough teenage mums to be able to be selective but my, the girls are good, you’ve not lived till you’ve seen their rear axle spin with double nappy reach. Occasionally there’s some rivalry but Aliisha is on a waiting list to have her front teeth replaced and I’m sure she didn’t mean to call Kaytee a slag. Their matching sparkly tracksuits and Rockports have been kindly donated by Jade Goody who was once herself chairman of the Pram Dancing Committee.  This year the team are expecting fierce competition from the Russians who are being sponsored by Roman Abramovich, a man who is living proof that Chavdom is not limited to the UK.




Fence Hurdling

For this sport the competitor loads up with stolen goods and then sets off across a set of surburban gardens, hurdling fences as they go, with a policeman giving chase. This sport has a handicap system, that is worked out using a complicated formula which plots BMI against years served inside, giving a figure in plasma screen TVs and portable electrical equipment. The winner is the thief that manages to get the most stolen gear over the finish line without getting tasered by a policeman.




Medal Winning Pickpocketing

This one is very simple. The world’s best competitive tea-leaves (that’s Cockney Rhyming slang for thieves, in case you don’t speak Londoner) are let loose in the Olympic Village towards the end of the games with the sole intention of lifting medals from the pockets of other athletes. The winner is of course the one who manages to get the most gold medals. Expect Michael Phelps to be looking very nervous during this event.


If anyone else has any ideas for sporting events then I’m sure the Olympic committee would love to hear them.  If any of them involve dropping Seb Coe out of a plane without any form of parachute I’m sure they’d be doubly excited, I know I would!

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A letter to the chairman of NPower.

Dear Al Capone, Reggie Kray or whatever you name is,

I suppose it was destined to happen wasn't it? I mean, by the law of averages eventually I was always destined to become embroiled in one of the energy industry's mendacious scams or rip offs and now it seems my day has arrived.

I refer to the gas bill that we received this morning. In case your butler or PA hadn't informed you, I will let you into a little secret – last month was AUGUST. It is traditionally one of our warmer months and although it was rather wet, this year's temperatures weren't anything unusual. This means my central heating was ont switched on at all, in fact it hasn't been since April. Given this fact I am intrigued as to how the partially trained gas-monkeys working for you have figured out that my bill should rise from approx £10 per month to over £90 per month. The media has been full of the rise in utitlity bills recently but I was under the impression that your price hike was 26%. Was I mistaken? Did I misread? Was it actually 900%? Because if so I may have to recoup the massive cost by selling this bit of news to the tabloids, who I am sure would have great fun making up headlines about gangsters and highwaymen freezing old ladies to death over winter while chairmen receive bonuses of tens of thousands of pounds.

I am going to let you in on another little nugget of information here – you've got more chance of growing 3 extra kidneys and marrying Angelina Jolie than you have of getting me to agree to this price rise, you robbing bastard. My gas use has not increased nine-fold and therefore I am not paying for nine times as much gas. It's as simple as that. Maybe it was the name, maybe that fooled you into thinking I am one of those little old ladies who lives in fear of an official looking letter and will just pay up on any demand from you bunch of bloody cowboys. If that was what you were thinking, let me now put you straight – I am not. I have no problem arguing the toss with you, I am not afraid of your official looking letters, I am not scared of your threatening tones and your blustering about debt collectors and cutting off my supply. Frankly, at those prices it would be cheaper for me to heat my hot water in a tin bath over a smouldering pile of £50 notes than it would be to use your gas. God alone knows what you're going to claim for when the heating goes on. So really, what I am saying, in a roundabout sort of a way, is that you can take your £90 a month and piss off. I won't be paying this so you might as well recalculate it and if you send me another one of these rip-off bills I'll be taking my business elsewhere. I realise that ripping off the customer might have been lesson one at the Asshole School of Business Trickery but it doesn't wash with me panshine so I suggest you don't try it again.

Yours disrespectfully

Yet another pissed off customer.



UPDATE: Since I wrote (and sent) this it seems that the smug, theiving bastards have decided to scrap all pretence that they care about the fact they are crippling your average householder. Hot on the heels of the "Wear another jumper" jibe comes this  http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/Campaigners-Fury-Over-Fuel-Crisis-Jibe-Made-By-EOn-Energy-Company-Executive/Article/200809215097206?lpos=Business_3&lid=ARTICLE_15097206_Campaigners%2BFury%2BOver%2BFuel%2BCrisis%2BJibe%2BMade%2BBy%2BE.On%2BEnergy%2BCompany%2BExecutive 


May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpit hair.  


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Goodbye Connie.

I would like to say a fond farewell to my great-aunt Constance Devonshire who died yesterday afternoon. She was an entertaining and forthright woman who was never afraid to tell someone if they were getting on her nerves. Usually rather loudly because someone lost her hearing aid years ago and she never got another one. She was the lady who gifted me with the invaluable piece of advice that "Women who work should NEVER do their own cleaning". Wise words I'm sure you'll agree.


So it's goodbye to a compassionate and funny lady who even had the grace to be amused when she was summoned to the front of the group on my wedding photos by the photographer with the bellowed command "WHEELCHAIR….FRONT!". May she have gone on to a better place where the sun is shining and the gin & tonic is flowing.

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