Skirts were recently banned at a secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent because the head teacher believes they are distracting to male teachers and other pupils when hitched up. This caused an inevitable media furore and the country began debating the issue.

So firstly, what is the issue? Well, one aspect is the suggestion that girls are inherent sexual objects for the male gaze. The idea that dressing in a certain way is ‘provocative’ feeds the outdated notion that men can behave and dress as they like but women must cover up and behave appropriately so as not to titillate men.

And why are male teachers distracted by young girls in short skirts? Perhaps it’s because society tells us that youth and flesh are sexually appealing. Porn plays a part. The film industry plays a part. Ads on billboards, TV and in magazines play a part. A broader choice for what constitutes ‘sexy’ (age, size, colour, dress) would be helpful.

Another issue is the reason the girls want to hitch up their skirts. I questioned this a couple of years ago in this blog post and concluded that women wear mini skirts because they have become the norm; they are welcome at work, weddings – they don’t garner the same response they might have back in the 60s when they first came into fashion.

But what about girls in short skirts? As a 30-year-old woman, I still have vivid memories of my rebellious teenage years, dressing in stupidly short skirts with platform heels. I’d dress like this at school because we didn’t have a uniform and it wasn’t so that male teachers, or male pupils, would find me sexy but because I was simply a teenager pushing the boundaries.  

I get the pros of uniform but it does limit young people who are exploring their identity and who don’t necessarily want to conform and look exactly the same as fellow pupils. My school seems very liberal when I look back: we dyed our hair all the colours of the rainbow, a boy in my year had a leopard print pattern dyed onto his nearly-shaved head, we wore whatever we wanted (ripped tights, fishnet, polkadot).

Teenagers will continue to experiment with fashion – uniform or no uniform – and they should be able to do so without being told they’re putting themselves at risk or luring older men. Instead, older men should check themselves – the real concern is that they are viewing young girls as sex objects.

So what’s the solution? Well how about rather than banning girls from wearing certain clothes, which has a worryingly religious resonance, we address the objectification and sexualisation of girls in schools. Boys (and male teachers, apparently) need to be taught that there is more to a girl than the way she looks.

Equally, girls need to be reminded that there is more to life than the way they look. There was certainly huge pressure to look – rather than to think – a certain way when I was growing up (there still is). A less narrow beauty ideal and greater emphasis on intelligence over appearance would be useful – within the wider context of freedom to express yourself however you choose.

As usual, with any feminist issue, education is key. As a society, we need to change the way we view women and girls – and those formative school years are key in determining our general outlook. A class on sexuality, equality, the freedom to choose, liberating not repressing females and identity would be a lot more useful than, once again, blaming girls for the way they are viewed by men.

 

 

 

A Mindful Morning

bread

Waking up on a Saturday feels different to the other six mornings. Monday feels slightly daunting – even if you’re not working, as it’s the start of something new. By Tuesday you’re settling into it but there’s a long way to go until the weekend. Wednesday is a solid day: slap bang in the middle. Thursday is creeping, daringly and delightfully, into the weekend. Friday is the weekend (but not quite) and Saturday is: YES. It’s sunshine, reggae, BBQs, brunch and dunch: mid morning meal, then mid afternoon meal – and a late night. (Sunday, if I imagine it visually, is black. Personified, it’s feeble and drooping at the shoulders; as a sound it’s white noise.)

So today I woke up feeling good. Rich is working so it’s just me and Joni this morning. I fed her a big bowl of porridge with berries and banana then we set off on our morning run (me running, her kicking back in the buggy: cushioned by sheep’s wool, wrapped in blankets, drinking milk). We stopped off at the poshest Spar in the world in Walthamstow village and picked up two loaves of freshly-baked sourdough. The smell reminded me of mornings in the south of France with my family, popping into the boulangerie for croissants and strawberry tarts and hot chocolate and a stick of French bread. I also treated myself to some organic body wash made with orange and cinnamon. It’s more expensive than your average shower gel but smells so delicious and helps me to be mindful in the shower.

We bought a newspaper from the friendly newsagent across the road and I tried to pay with an odd foreign coin that looked curiously similar to a 20p but was of a lesser value: 2 (something). Friendly he may be – stupid he is not, so he didn’t accept it. I rummaged in my bag for more change, while the man behind me patiently waited. I was grateful for his patience; so often people grow fidgety and start tutting if you’re slow. I left the shop and ran about five metres with a now quite heavy buggy across the newly-paved part-pedestrianised strip of Orford Road then swung down a side road, narrowly missing a builder and his scaffolding pole. It was about 8am so the only people on the streets were me, builders, old people with dogs and men (not being sexist – they were all men) changing bin bags in the park.
wisteria

On another residential road, a house was decorated in the most beautiful climbing wisteria. I ran past it and then stopped and walked back. I decided to enjoy it for longer than a passing moment. I decided that today I should be mindful. I stood there for a few moments, took a photo then ran on. I saw some bluebells on the next street and contemplated the seasons. Spring is full of hope, blossom petals swirling through the streets; like confetti, bluebells blooming everywhere, the sun becoming warmer – teasing us; beckoning us into summer. I wondered if perhaps it’s easier to be mindful in the spring and summer, with so many flowers in bloom and bare skin being warmed by the sun and painted toe nails and sweet fruits to eat. But winter can be lovely when your cheeks are bitten by the cold air and then toasted by a roaring fire and you can drink hot chocolate and toast marshmallows. And autumn leaves are enough to make autumn exceptional.

bluebells

We carried on roaming the streets, flying past irises and tulips, and stopped to peer into a sweet ‘free books’ box that lots of people around London are putting on their front garden walls. You can take a book to read but you’re asked to return it or replace it, if you can. I just took a photo:

Books

We got home and I realised how cold our fingers were from the early morning chill, so we rubbed them together to warm up then sat on the rug in the sitting room and I put on some music for Joni. She loves to bop her head when there’s a good beat so i’m compiling a Spotify playlist for her. Bedouin Soundclash ‘When the night feels my song’ is a firm favourite, as are ‘Roxanne’ by The Police and ‘Bamboleo’ by the Gypsy Kings. I slipped in Blackstreet’s No Diggidy as an experiment but she’s not sure about R&B yet. No worry, she’ll grow into it.

After some deep breathing and pilates (with Joni using me as a climbing frame and trying to put her very small socks onto my comparatively very large feet), I put Joni down for a nap, showered (using my lovely new shower gel) and drank a decaf coffee with almond milk, ate a slice of the delicious fresh sourdough bread, toasted, with almond and vanilla butter and sliced banana, and begin writing this. Now Joni is cooing for me to collect her from her cot. The end of my mindful morning alone with my daughter, as soon we’ll be off to meet a friend for lunch. So good to enjoy the simple things sometimes: flowers in bloom, upbeat music, smells, spring time, fresh bread – and to just enjoy being alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Nipples on Page 3

page 3

So, it seems Lucy-Anne Holmes’ ‘No More Page 3′ campaign has at last paid off – following three years of activism and 200,000+ signatures on the petition. The Sun, with its new feminist; women-loving hat on, has stopped printing images of topless babes on page three. They are instead printing a daily image of a woman in her underwear. Hurrah? Not quite.

However, Holmes’ hard work deserves recognition and this – albeit small – step should be celebrated as one that’s at least moving in the right direction. If a little step like this could be taken in other areas of sexual inequality it might look like this:

– The gender pay gap reducing from 19.7% to 10%, so that women earn £90 for every £100 earned by a man, rather than £80.30. For doing EXACTLY THE SAME JOB.

– Adopting the Swedish prostitution laws so that punters, not sex workers, are criminalised. Currently in the UK women can sell their bodies legally; the only illegal aspect is brothels, pimps and soliciting. It wouldn’t make prostitution illegal per se but it would shift society’s attitude from denigrating the prostitute to questioning the john.

– According to Women’s Aid, one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. So a baby-step forward might mean one report every two minutes. That would mean the suffering had halved – 720 women a day, rather than 1440. Or 262974.383 a year, rather than twice that very big number.

– Currently just over one in five Members of Parliament are women. Let’s work towards making this two in five initially, and eventually it might even go up to 2.5 in five. That would be half. Or, as there are slightly more women in the UK than men, maybe three in five would make it a more equal representation.

Who knows, maybe one day The Sun will stop posting images of scantily-clad women entirely. They may even post stories about women’s intellectual achievements. But it’s unlikely. So instead, let’s work on educating people – young and old – about the benefits and importance of sexual equality. That will lead to people becoming less tolerant of objectification, exploitation and all other forms of repression. And then they might just stop reading The Sun altogether. And that would deserve a ‘hurrah!’.

Motherhood has changed me

IMG_2812-0.JPG

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Rich and I began wondering how we’d change after the birth of our baby. We questioned whether we’d find the same jokes funny. A friend reassured us, confidently: “Of course you’ll find the same jokes funny!” and she was right – Joni was born and we were pleased to note that we’d each retained a sense of humour. We still found farts – and other basic humour – hilarious.

But as the months go by (we’re approaching Joni’s fifth month) I’ve been noting the changes in me. Because whilst Rich and I still communicate in the same way, make each other laugh, enjoy film and art, take an interest in current affairs – I feel that having a baby has altered my sense of self quite profoundly.

It’s the small, unexpected changes that I find most interesting. I knew my body would be changed by the pregnancy and birth – for one, I now have a belly layered with stretch marks – so I was prepared for this. What I wasn’t prepared for were the following…

1. Sensitivity to sound

At first, most newborns will sleep soundly anywhere. They’ll fall asleep on your chest and lie there for hours. They’ll sleep in the car, the pram, the moses basket, the sofa, your bed. Anywhere. But then they become more awake and alert; fascinated by the world – and so the silhouette of a tree might prevent them from falling asleep on a walk, or a flashing light will jolt them from slumber.

But the biggest sleep preventer, for Joni, is noise. I’ll put her down to nap, leave the room and accidentally drop my keys on the floor. BANG – awake. So i’ve taken to walking around the house with my index finger perpetually affixed to my pursed lips, going “shhhhh!”. It might be good practise to make noise while a baby naps in the day but I don’t give a shit – we’re all a lot happier when Joni’s had a decent nap.

2. A deeper interest in maternal lineage

As I navigate blindly through the misty landscape of motherhood, I’m often looking to my mum for guidance. Not always asking her for it immediately, but instead imagining how she might have dealt with certain situations. And then I go to her for clarification – often asking about my grandmother and what she would have done, too. I cherish my maternal lineage and the qualities in my mum and grandma that I hope have been embedded in me, so that I can pass them on to Joni. Becoming a mother has reminded me of the time, love and nurturing that my own mum put in to raising me. And her mother before that.

3. Risk assessing

A friend told me recently that the way a new mother’s brain functions could be compared to a psychotic brain. The constant risk assessments – “if she’s not strapped into her buggy properly, a car might career off the road (a drunk driver?) and she’ll fall out and die. But if she is securely buckled in, the whole thing will fly in the air and i’ll dive towards it to make sure it lands safely” – can torment a new mother on every outing. This is in stark contrast to my previously lackadaisical attitude to being a pedestrian. But it is a necessary aspect of parenting: protecting our helpless babies from external dangers.

4. Next level organisation

I thought I was organised before Joni came along but that was NOTHING. These days, an appointment without her means getting up early to express milk, storing it in the fridge until it’s time to leave, making sure the nappy bag is full of outfit changes, wipes, muslins, nappies – and enlisting the help of Rich or my mum, who’ll need to be available to look after her while I go in.

And then there’s the multi-tasking. Try holding a baby on your hip while running a bath (and monitoring the temperature carefully, as it can’t be above 37 degrees), going to the toilet – as bath will inevitably lead to a long feed so no escape – preparing bed clothes and shutting the curtains.

5. Feeling more spiritual and connected to the earth

Having Joni has made me acutely aware of London’s pollution, of people smoking, of chemicals, of waste. It’s made me look at the planet differently because I want Joni to live a long, healthy life in this beautiful world; and her children, and their children. It’s no longer just about my generation. And so while i’ve always respected the earth, I find myself making even more effort to be less wasteful and more green.

It’s also reignited my spiritual self. I’m more in tune with the earth’s energies. I’m contemplating life and death and connectivity. I see auras and believe in karma, once again.

6. Putting someone else first

I’d heard other people say that once you’ve had a baby, they will always come first. But it’s an abstract concept until you look into the eyes of your newly-born flesh and blood. Suddenly you hardly matter at all; all that matters is this new being. Some mothers aren’t prepared to relinquish their centre-of-my-own-and-everyone else’s-world throne for their baby and this is what makes them resent becoming a parent. But they are the minority. Most mums would give their own life in an instant to save their child’s life. It’s a truly unconditional love.

I’m sure i’ll continue to change with each new beautiful moment or challenge that motherhood throws my way. My essence remains unaltered but I feel there’s a new layer on top, and some deeper layers that have resurfaced. And I wouldn’t forfeit any of it.

Back on track

photo.PNG

The moment I found out I was pregnant with Joni – after weeing on a stick and seeing two blue lines appear – I went for a run. It was early, around 6.30am, so Rich was sleeping. I remember it being a cool September morning with a clear blue sky and the sun just beginning to shine. I ran fast through the streets of Walthamstow, elated, a new bounce in my step.

I’d been running daily, between three and seven miles, for five years. Nothing put me off – i’d be out there with severe hangovers, in torrential rain, on icy winter pavements, in the blisteringly hot Sicilian morning sun. I love running. I love feeling my heart beat fast, my body warming up – and perspiring – controlling my breath so that i’m not panting. I love crunching the auburn autumn leaves with my heel, feeling the sting of a December morning on my cheeks, running under a pink sky as the sun begins to rise and darting past newly blooming spring flowers.

So when, at 8 weeks gestation, I developed bad morning sickness – throwing up from the moment I rose until midday, sometimes longer – I was fairly disappointed that I could no longer go for my morning run. I assumed that the sickness would ease at 12 weeks (that’s what everyone tells you) and that i’d then be able to run again – but mine continued until week 30.

To plan b: swimming. I realised I could swim through the sickness if I had a small snack first thing, so from then on I swam between 30 and 60 lengths every weekday morning. If I felt particularly weak, tired or sick – i’d take it easy, but often I felt amazing in the water so i’d take to the fast lane and swim front crawl – much to the surprise/ dismay/ disgust of fellow swimmers who assumed pregnant women are disabled by the foetus growing inside them – until I hit a (metaphorical) wall. I was still swimming up to, and past, my due date. I could see the man on the front desk growing increasingly concerned as my bump got bigger and bigger and I kept appearing. He’s Chinese and explained that in his culture pregnant women stay at home, sometimes in bed, for the last few months.

Swimming helped me to maintain a decent level of fitness throughout my pregnancy. I felt heavy and tired towards the end, but never breathless. And so after giving birth, I spent the first two weeks resting and doing pelvic floor exercises (SO important – if you don’t want piss yourself when jumping/ sneezing/ laughing etc for the rest of your life) then I began doing gentle pilates, using YouTube videos, and baby yoga classes. At six weeks I got back into the advanced pilates I was practising pre-pregnancy and today, at 12 weeks postpartum, I went for my first run.

As well as being my first post-birth run, it was the first time i’ve been separated from Joni. I left Rich with two bottles of expressed milk and a recently-fed, chirpy baby and set off. I was wearing my new Nike running trainers from Runners Need, chosen by the assistant after she watched how my feet landed when I jogged on a treadmill, and a very supportive Nike sports bra. As I ran along the pavement and into Priory Park, I was surprised by how comfortable it felt to run. Then after a half a mile, I felt a burn in my throat. It reminded me of when I first started running and all the shit that had settled in my lungs was pushed up into my throat. That’s why runners spit. So I spat, did some stretches and set off again. I went round the park three times (about 5k), stopping to catch my breath and stretch, remembering little tricks like arching your back for a burst of energy (yoga tip), then spotted a dodgy geezer lurking in the Philosopher’s Garden and sprinted back home to safety. Feeling a bit scared always helps me to pick up speed.

At home I warmed down, did half and hour of pilates then showered. And I’m still feeling HIGH an hour later, as Joni feeds and I write this.

So good to be running again.

The Cornershop

felt 3

When I was about seven, my mum said I was allowed to walk the half mile to school with my friends and without adult supervision. I was delighted. I’d meet four friends, excitedly, at the Park Avenue North entrance to Ally Pally, then walk through the alleyway towards the school gates, always finding time to pop into ‘Amit’s’ sweet shop on route. Amit was the son of the owner and in our year at Campsbourne primary school – I never knew what the shop was actually called.

There were big plastic tubs of old school sweets: aniseed balls and twists, lemon sherbets, Tom Thumb drops – as well as a selection of magazines, cigarettes and household items. We were only interested in the sweets and the Hubba Bubba bubblegum (9p a packet).

I remember standing in front of the counter, a tall man looking down at me, deciding what to spend my 50p on. And I have a vivid memory of it being very dark. The lights were never on, or they were extremely dim, so it was cool in the summer but also a momentary downer as you left the bright sunshine to buy a lollypop from a near pitch-black shop.

The reason I was reminded of Amit’s – and of childhood sweet shops in general – is because I went to see Lucy Sparrow’s felt installation: The Cornershop, last weekend. Set in a little shop on the corner of Wellington Row and Ravenscroft Street, just off Columbia Road, Sparrow spent months sewing replica feminine hygiene products, sweets, chewing gum, fags, newspapers – and everything else you might find in your local convenience store – to fill the shelves and units.

felt 2

felt 1

Walking around the cramped, dark shop – eyeing up the familiar items so perfectly reconstructed in felt – took me back to childhood. But not in a superficial, rose-tinted way; it mimics the slight grottiness of those shops, which makes it feel incredibly real. Sparrow’s installation made me realise that the cornershop, as I know it, is dying out. (Amit’s closed down years ago and is now someone’s house).

Take your children, who’ll love this life-sized, exciting installation – and if you grew up frequenting cornershops, as I did, you’ll love the trip down memory lane too.

Open until 31st August 10am-7pm daily.
19 Wellington Row, E2 7BB

IMG_2199

Before Joni was born, I spoke with friends about how I intended to continue seeking intellectual stimulation after the birth and to not become completely lost in a world of nappies and newborn baby photos. I was, and still am, keen to socialise with other mothers – but as well as sharing baby anecdotes, I wanted to be discussing adult issues.

And I maintain that it’s important to engage with the wider world. But what I didn’t realise was how utterly all-consuming motherhood would be. You can’t convey, sufficiently, to someone who isn’t a parent how it feels to bring a new life into the world. How besotted you become with this wholly dependent being. And so I didn’t understand other parents’ attempts to relay this to me.

So then Joni was born and suddenly my life completely changed direction. Or perhaps it was the same direction – but just playing out at a different pace. A much slower, more considered pace. Everything I do, including but not limited to: going to the loo, preparing food, shopping, getting on the tube, leaving one room to get something from another, going to bed – requires careful consideration because I’m no longer rolling solo. Now there are two of us, at all times.

I enjoy the challenges of motherhood – there’s nothing as satisfying as soothing a crying baby. Or as joyous as making your baby smile and laugh, or as funny as hearing them release huge farts – and so I want to share these experiences with my friends and family. But then I’m reminded of those conversations during pregnancy – the ones where I said my Facebook feed wouldn’t be filled with photos of my baby, or that my conversations wouldn’t be dominated by poo stories – and suddenly I feel guilty for every conversation about Joni. Like I’m burdening other people with the details of my seemingly mundane life. But to me it’s so far from mundane.

That’s why reading psychotherapist Naomi Stadlen’s book: What Mothers Do (especially when it looks like nothing) – and her stance on becoming a mother – is so refreshing, and reassuring. She compares the initial shock of having a newborn baby to the emotional and physical changes we experience when falling into ‘erotic love’, but we prepare very differently for each event:

‘We don’t go to falling-in-love preparation classes. Rather, the enormity of falling in love is described in songs and poetry, as tragedy and comedy, so it is communicated on many different levels by one generation to the next. ‘Oh, she’s in love,’ we say, and those two crucial words convey a wealth of meaning. We expect the person who is in love to be dreamy, moody, forgetful, unavailable for ordinary commitments and wholly focused on the beloved person.’

This, too, is how a new mother may feel and behave. And yet she’ll often feel guilty for being fixated on the new object of her love and affection: her baby. Imagine feeling guilty for putting up pictures of you and your boyfriend on Facebook? Or for worrying that you’re talking about him too much with friends? You wouldn’t, because friends should be delighted that you’re happy and should revel in your tales and photos. Of course, most of the guilt a new mother feels is self-inflicted. I know that my friends and family love hearing about Joni, and my experience of motherhood. They’ve not once made me feel as if I should change the subject – I issue myself with limitations.

But I want to be out and proud, rather than apologetic, about falling in love with Joni. There’s nothing more beautiful than new love – this is why it’s the subject of some of the greatest films, novels, poetry and paintings – and this certainly is new love. I’m writing songs and poetry about Joni and the new journey I’m on, as well as filling my blog with posts about motherhood because, right now, this is what I’m doing. And it’s beautiful and enriching and eye-opening – and as wonderful and inspiring as falling in (romantic) love for the first time.

The novelty of true love never wears off but we become less utterly submerged in the object of our affection, and more able to focus on other aspects of life. So if my Facebook feed’s a little baby-heavy, or my conversations centre around sleep routines and nappy breaches, fear not: I’ll soon come back down to earth. But in much the same way that your first love opens your eyes to something so all-encompassing and magnificent, Joni’s arrival has changed me profoundly and i’ll never be quite the same again.

american beauty

Teenagers tend to have a warped view of the world and so they think and behave in a questionable manner. Of course some are intelligent, sophisticated and able to decipher between right and wrong, logical and illogical, conducive to a better future and highly detrimental. But, let’s be honest, they’re the boring ones.

I was a typically deluded, ignorant teen – thinking I was the height of cool but actually spouting a constant stream of fraff. I made bad decisions and focused most of my attention on completely the wrong things.

Now heading towards my first real age milestone: the BIG 3-0 – I’ve been pondering what progress I’ve made since my teenage years. (I’ve got to do 29 first but Rich is on the brink of 30, thus my current contemplation).

So teenagers, let me enlighten you. Adults, let me humour you. Those aforementioned well-behaved young people who didn’t roll with me and my badly-behaved friends: let me shock and disgust you (and remind you why you were definitely better off not being part of my gang).

1. I genuinely thought smoking was cool.

marlboros

I now know it makes you stink, wheeze like an oldie, waste $$$ and piss off the 80% of the UK population who don’t smoke.

2. We fancied boys who bopped their jeans:

bopping jeans

Even when it looked like this:

bopping even more

And when our mums discussed how silly and impractical this look was we thought: god, you’re so old and past it. What do you know.

What they knew was that wearing your jeans this low is silly and impractical. At the time, boys used to bowl rather than walk so the restrictions caused by jeans hanging so low didn’t matter too much. But I now know that bowling isn’t very cool, either.

3. And our dress sense wasn’t much better. We copied the All Saints when they wore their baggy b-girl trousers low, flaunting their g-strings:

allsaints2

The baggy trousers had holes in the bottom from rubbing on the pavement and pulling up your thong so that it would show above your low-waisted jeans was, frankly, painful and pathetic. But then Sisqo released the Thong Song, telling us it was good to show our ‘thong-tha-thong-thong thongs’. And so it continued into the new millennium.

4. One more on fashion. Rubber-soled palladiums:

palladiums

Now I need to be careful because of the current revival of 90s fashions but the bouncy squashy rubber soles of these high-heeled numbers just weren’t good for walking in. The heels would bend and snap. And they still will. So fashionistas beware – palladiums are best left back in their rightful era.

5. We misguidedly thought that boys would fancy us if we doused ourselves in sickly sweet Impulse:

impulse

They didn’t then, they won’t now. Remember this: less is more.

6. And Lynx Africa was no better:

lynx

I’ll admit that a sniff of Lynx does have an effect on me, even now – but it’s a nostalgic memory of sneaky trips into the boys’ changing rooms, trying to catch a glimpse of them in the showers before they sprayed an entire bottle of Africa under their yet-to-develop-underarm-hair armpits. It’s not a scent for grown-up men.

7. Drinking straight vodka in parks and then puking everywhere.

vodka

I can’t remember if we couldn’t afford mixers, or thought it best that we downed the vodka straight to get more drunk – but either way: big mistake. Having to climb over high gates when we got locked into parks and then somehow get home and pretend we hadn’t been drinking even though we’d left a trail of sick and stank of booze (the ‘vodka doesn’t smell on your breath’ myth is definitely a myth) got us into lots of trouble.

It’s no fun projectile vomiting alcohol. But hangovers didn’t really exist in those days so we repeated our mistakes weekly. Later life liver damage will be largely down to those teenage years.

8. Getting sex tips (long before we were having sex) from teen magazines like J17:

just 17

In the 90s, foreplay was called ‘heavy petting’ in teen mags. But in real life it was ‘tingsing’ – or any number of other terms that J17 journos just weren’t clued up enough to know. It’s now probably called something else entirely and will be embarrassing many a teen as they’re asked if they’ve ever done [insert zeitgeist foreplay term] with so and so.

9. Bunking school

bunking

Sneaking out of school and skipping lessons doesn’t make you cool. It makes you uncool because eventually you’ll be less intelligent than your contemporaries and feel like an arse. Learning is cool. Being offered a free education is cool. Impressing people with your knowledge is cool. Being a dumb arse and smoking behind the bike shed isn’t.

10. Eating pizza, chips and other greasy food for lunch

pizza

The above picture actually made my mouth water for the greasy, cheesy pizza I used to eat every day at secondary school. But it’s not good to eat that stuff. Opt for the salad, healthy hot meals and vegetarian options that Jamie Oliver is trying so hard encourage school canteens to provide. Then when you’re not bunking your last lesson, you’ll pick up – and retain – even more knowledge. Healthy body, happy mind.