Zetteler interview with Annie Ridout - about The Early Hour

I was interviewed by Zetteler about setting up The Early Hour

The result of an intense and increasing online “content” saturation, there’s a perpetual discussion among brilliantly vocal communities of writers and editors that questions the rapidly-changing relevance and role of online output. In a world where anyone with an internet connection can publish an uninhibited stream of consciousness and effortlessly access a global audience, the pressure to justify your narrative is higher than ever.

Annie Ridout had been working as a freelance copywriter before she fell pregnant, and suddenly found herself with an automatically-terminated contract 40 weeks into her pregnancy. Overcoming any sense of fear, Annie embraced the sudden liberation. Founding The Early Hour – a digital culture and lifestyle magazine for nocturnal parents – shortly after the birth of her child, she immediately recognised the potential of strategically-timed online content being used to connect the vast network of sleep-deprived mums and dads up at silly hours of the night tending to their children.

Having read about Annie’s journey in an article for The Guardian’s Women in Leadership, we wanted to ask the inspiring journalist, editor and mother a few questions of our own…

You can read it here.


In her latest book, author Samantha Ettus recommends that parents get up at hour before the kids to get started on work. While I’m an eager early riser – and feel most productive first thing – I’m under no illusion that this is for everyone. Some parents have kids who wake at 5am; some parents look after their offspring full time so need the extra sleep.

But where Ettus has really dug herself a hole is by suggesting that mums and dads who look after the kids full time are leading “woefully imbalanced” lives, and will wind up “bored and unfulfilled”. So I wrote my response for the Guardian – you can read it here or by clicking on the image above. And share your thoughts in the comment section below, or under the original article. Interested to hear what others think…

A TUC report (produced in collaboration with the Everyday Sexism Project) was released earlier this week. According to the research, over 50% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

I was asked to talk on BBC Radio 5 Live and the Victoria Derbyshire show about an experience I had while working in an art gallery. It was when I was in my early 20s, and one of the (male) trustees wanted to photograph me for a listings guide. The other (male) trustee said that it could be a “glamour shoot” (a topless photoshoot, rather than a glamorous one).

I was challenged on air (by men – only men) about whether this was actually harassment, or if I should have been lighthearted about it. My response is that while sexual inequality prevails, it’s of paramount importance that women are respected, and not made to feel small, insignificant or scared at work. And everywhere, for that matter. When we’re all equal, perhaps there will be more scope for jokes and ‘banter’.

Interested to hear other people’s thoughts?


Following a fairly atrocious article in the Daily Mail, where I was misquoted and generally misrepresented (I won’t do them the favour of linking to it) I was asked to speak on the Niall Boylan show about raising children as gender neutral. The presenter (Niall) was biased and ill-informed on the subject, so it wasn’t quite the intellectual debate I was hoping for, but I at least got the opportunity to share my unedited views on the matter, as it went out live. If you fancy having a listen, the programme is online here.

Sunday Times - Melanie Wright article


I was interviewed by Melanie Wright for The Sunday Times about the ridiculous cost of childcare meaning returning to part time work was (financially) pointless, which is why I started my online culture and lifestyle magazine The Early Hour. In case you haven’t heard about The Early Hour… articles are published daily at 5am, for people who are up early in the morning.

The interview was used for a news piece by Becky Barrow, too – also in The Sunday Times. The second photo of Joni (by photographer Vicki Couchman) was hilarious…

Sunday Times new article by Becky Barrow

post baby belly

This morning I was sitting on my bed, naked, after having a shower. The Gypsy Kings were playing through the Spotify app on my phone and Joni was holding it up to her ear saying “ello” repeatedly, while running around the room – occasionally stopping to twerk.

The song came to an end and she looked me in the eyes. She came over and started to point to various parts of my face and body: “eyda” (eyes), “non” (nose), “air” (hair), “booboo” (boobies). She got to my stomach and stopped. She looked a bit confused. Then using both hands, she lifted a piece of flab and found the “tata” (tattoo) she was looking for on my hip bone.

I laughed. And then I thought: shit, we’re a year and a half post-birth – should that flab still be there? And then I thought: yes, it should, because it’s winter and I although I run every morning, I also like (in fact LOVE) drinking white hot chocolate every day, and eating flapjacks and thick slices of sourdough bread with chocolate and almond butter.

In a recent interview (coming soon to The Early Hour), a mum told me that she feels we are all in awe of a pregnant body but disgusted by it post-birth. And I agree with her – pregnancy is buoyant and blooming and rosy, while our postnatal bodies are flabby and sagging and feel as if they’ve been used and are now just getting in the way.

Funnily enough, in the photo above – taken three days after I gave birth – I remember looking down at my stomach with its stretch marks, linea nigra, flaps and indents and bobbles and loose skin and feeling amazed and so in love with my body. Rich caught me taking a photo and asked why I wanted to photograph “that”. He didn’t see the beauty in it, like I did.

But my amazement at what my body had achieved in growing and birthing and feeding Joni ceased after a few months, when I started to feel frustrated that I couldn’t run without getting mastitis, that my back ached and that those rolls of loose skin/fat weren’t shifting from my belly.

So this morning I was imagining a world where a female’s body is considered beautiful throughout childhood, teenagehood, adulthood – through pregnancy, birth, post-birth – into the menopause, out the other side and all the way into old age… Wouldn’t that be so lovely? If us women didn’t have to feel guilty about what we eat, how much we exercise (or don’t), and the state of our frame after growing and pushing out a baby…

And then, after my initial moment of horror/hilarity as Joni shifted my belly fat around while hunting for my tattoo, it dawned on me that there is a world where women’s bodies are revered whatever their size, shape, texture, age. It’s the world through children’s eyes. Joni is fascinated by my body – crevices, rolls of skin and fat, hair (wherever it may be. She excitedly referred to my pubic hair as ‘dogon’ – yes, DOG – in the bath recently).

And her love and fascination of bodies extends beyond just me, her mum. She loves her grandma’s “booboos”, her auntie’s “booboo” (as well as breasts, this means belly – her auntie has a lovely big round one, as she’s six months pregnant). And any other woman she is fond of will undoubtedly have a body Joni thinks is just wonderful.

So for anyone feeling down about their body today, try to shift your perspective. Take yourself back to childhood – when beauty was about kindness and warmth and smiles and playfulness; not skinniness, flawless skin, youth, cool clothes – and keep that outlook firmly in place as you look at your sisters. If we all start loving our own and other women’s bodies just as they are, as children do, the world will be a better place.