Sunday, 18 May 2014

I don't normally do beauty product reviews...

...Partially because I'm not good at reviews in general (a quite accomplished journalist once told me that my reviews read more like sketches, but I still don't really understand what sketches are in the journalistic sense, and they're usually about politics...) and partially because I know nothing about make up or beauty, not naturally being a possessor of it.  Everything I know about how to apply make up I copied from what make up artists do to me at shows, and even then it continually looks half arsed (though in fairness, 99% of my make up is applied on moving trains, so maybe I could do better).  I wore heels for a day a week and half ago and my feet still hurt.  If someone actually invented Homer Simpson's make up gun I would totally use it.   Basically, I am a shambolic, fraud of woman.  Anyway, as ever, I digress.

I don't usually do beauty product reviews, but then I'm never normally impressed by beauty products, because they keep not making me look anything like Kate Moss, as is often unfairly suggested by the advertising.  But a good product deserves a shout out, so a shout it it's going to get.  I'm talking about Benefit's Big Easy liquid to powder multi-balancing complexion perfector.  The box says "Bigger than BB", but a BB cream is this product's closest living relative; it's more than a BB cream and less than a foundation.  Let me explain.

I've not historically been impressed by BB creams (though all three I've owned have been under the £5 mark and the last less than £3.50 I think.  I am not one to spend a lot on make up, I ALWAYS get the cheapest thing I can find, but I think maybe with BB creams the expensive ones really are better). They've always been too dark for me, as they tend not to come in the same range of shades as foundation, and offer little to no coverage.  The last one was by Miss Sporty, and it was just awful.  I bought it because my regular foundation (Rimmel Match Perfection in Porcelain) is £7, and although that's average for a good foundation, I was really trying to scrimp.  Anyway, it lasted just under two months, which is a shockingly short amount of time, but thank heavens, as I was bored ploughing on with it.  The consistency was barely thicker than water (if you opened the tube upright, it would flood out over your lap), it had weird bright red streaks in it, and there was basically no coverage, although it was dark enough to leave tidelines if you didn't blend really well.  The only good thing I have to say for it was it was very moisturising - I didn't usually use any serum or moisturiser before applying it, as I didn't need to.

So although I have more foundation now, I decided I wanted something lighter and more natural for summer, and had originally hit the Benefit counter in search of You Rebel tinted moisturiser - I've never tried it, but I know friends wear it, and that it has SPF, which is necessary in a summer skin product.  But when I tried a smidge, I wasn't that impressed, as it was, as usual, far too dark for my pale skin.  The sales lady was immediately on at me to try their BB cream, which is why I hate staffed make up counters.  I have to talk to people - urgh - and they'll make me buy stuff. I relented, and tried a bit, and it was much paler, and because I hate to disappoint people by not buying things when they've tried so hard to sell me them, I reluctantly allowed her to ring it up for me, despite it costing an eye-watering (and just about everything else-watering) £27.50.

But I wore it for the first time today and I have to say - this is some good shit.  It's exactly what I wanted; a light, even coverage, that just made my skin look naturally "nice" for lack of a better word, without covering up my freckles (I'm not fussed on whether my freckles show or not, just an indicator of how deep the coverage is).  It did appear to, as it claimed, "self adjust" to match my skin tone.

But what I was impressed by was the liquid to powder finish.  I was wary when the sales lady told me that it was a matte finish, as even though I wear powder to combat shine, I also have areas of dry skin, particularly on my nose, and matte is no good for that, and I just generally find matte products quite dull and dry.  Now, I didn't moisturise before applying the Big Easy, as instructed on the box, and that was a mistake - it felt quite dry going on and absorbed almost instantly, meaning I ended up using more than I'd like, and it's only a small tube, and it cost me the price of a weekly zones 1-2 travelcard.  BUT, it does exactly what it says on tin, it dries to a velvety, powder like finish.  I *could* have applied a little powder to my forehead, but only if I wanted a really, really done up look, for a natural look, this really did the job of eliminating shine, without being at all thick, claggy or overbearing.  It dried out the skin on my nose (despite claiming to be "moisture balancing" whatever that exactly means), but this is common for me, and I think if I'd moisturised first you'd barely have noticed.  And it didn't leave my skin looking dull, it looked bright and refreshed.  Plus, it does last - I'd had it on a good six or seven hours before I notice signs of it fading. Oh best thing - it's SPF 35, so perfect for protecting skin from sun damage in summer.

I'm not sure how long it will last, and thus how good value it will work out to be - the sales lady told me it lasts for ages as you only need to use a little bit, but it is really not a large tube - but if you want a light product for summer that still has some coverage, and particularly if you have shiny skin or just prefer a matte finish that is still natural looking, I guarantee you will like this.  It comes in six shades; I have 01 Fair, and the darkest is I think "Deep Beige" which is a sort of caramel colour I think, so sadly we're not really catering for women of colour here, yet, but hopefully they will expand.  The colours are quite flexible in that they adapt to your skin tone.  I've included a picture of a model wearing the darkest shade below, for reference.

So that is my not particularly well written, rambling, but hopefully still informative Big Easy product review/appreciation.  For a beauty blog written by someone who actually has a clue what they're talking about, check out my friend Jill Robinson's blog here:

The dangers of conflating contentment and happiness

There's definitely something about the sun coming out that puts people in a good mood.  I actually think that if our winter's were a bit shorter, we'd probably actually be less cynical and bitter as a nation (let's pray that never happens, because cynical and bitter are the two key strengths of my writing and I don't want to be left without an audience).  However, I'm here to darken the mood with a heartfelt plea to "happy" people - please stop it, you're making me miserable.

One of the few criticisms of social media that I do find to be valid  is that the tendency of many people to only comment on the positive - and not the negative - things in their life can have the unintended effect of making other people feel like they're missing out because they're not having such a good time, all the time.  Personally, I think everyone should be more like me and provide the internet with a relentless stream of misery to even things out, but I digress.

While the above serves as a good introduction, that's not exactly what I want to talk (moan) about.  You see, people have a terrible tendency to conflate contentment and happiness, and I never realised until today.  I also never realised how dangerous that is.

You see, while I'm not one to get depressed by the state of my life because other people are posting photos of them smiling in nightclubs (sidenote: I originally wrote "smiling AT nightclubs", which gives me an idea for a Tumblr) - after reading the article about how people deliberately project a highly manipulated image of themselves and how much fun they're having online, the scales really fell from my eyes - but some things do bother me.  What bothers me, you ask?  Semantics and proper use of the English language, that's what.  (Again, I'm getting, very slowly, to why this is actually relevant to mental health and is not just me being a pendant, although there's probably a degree of that in there).

So today, a lot of both my Twitter and Facebook timelines have been taken up by people talking about how their lives are perfect and they're "so happy".  I don't know why, let's, as before surmised, blame the sun.  Now I don't begrudge these people their good fortune (lols, I begrudge like a BITCH), but I question if it's happiness they really feel.  Don't they mean contentment?  If you're talking about how great your life is, how much you love your partner, or your job, or your house, that's contentment, not happiness.  That is general, long term satisfaction with your situation.  Happiness is a short term, fleeting emotion.  Why is the distinction important?

Because I never have, and almost certainly never will, feel the way these people do.  I've never had a proper, happy relationship, I've never had a stable job, I've never had an ideal home life.  And for a long, long time, I thought that that meant I'd never been happy.  That I was complete freak, so crippled by depression I was unable to feel basic human emotions.  And then today, I realised - of course I've been fucking happy.  Because happiness is fleeting, and made up of moments, not months, or years.  I was happy the moment I walked out Berlin Tegal airport, following the path to the train station that would take me to the city centre to start my new (and is it turned out, short lived) life in Germany.  I was happy the moment I first walked out into Tokyo.  I was happy the moment I found out I was getting paid to go to Australia.  Apparently I'm only happy when I leave the country - could be onto something here....Ok, no, British examples.  I was happy the moment Morrissey shook my hand in Victoria Hall in Halifax (I didn't dare wash it for days) and I felt, for a second, like someone who mattered.  I was happy the moment I got offered my current job.  I was happy the moment I realised in Brixton Academy that my not exactly lost, but lets say diminished love for the Manics had come back with full force I was struck in the face by awe at how fucking awesome they are.

So yes, I've been happy, and no, I hate to disappointment you, but you are not happy because you're engaged to the man or woman of your dreams, or because you've got a nice house or because you're job is going really well.  You are content.  Enjoy that feeling.  But don't call it "happiness", and make people who don't have those things think that they are broken.

In which I am so annoyed by a stranger's blog, I am moved to patrotism

I'm not generally a hugely patriotic person.  I feel incredibly fortunate to be British, and English - there's certainly something to be said for not growing up in a war torn third world country (although being from Essex I'm not entirely sure my experience was completely dissimilar). However, I do like my country, and I dislike arrogant idiots, so when in the course of researching an article for work I happened to stumble upon a blog whose author was being really very rude about London, England and the UK (she seems to think they're all the same place...), supporting her assertions with outmoded stereotypes and gross generalisations, my moron sensors were activated.  Alarm bells started ringing.  And I started getting annoyed.  Very annoyed.

I was tempted to leave a comment, but as that particular post was written three years ago, it seemed overly antagonistic (although I was disappointed to see she's still posting now, so presumably has not died in a fire in the intervening period).  However, I'm not much given to letting things go (beware, I bear more grudges /than lonely high court judges), and there were so many problems with her post that needed deconstructing that I decided the only appropriate way to deal with this was to fight blog post with blog post.  And so, here we are.

Final thing to note before we proceed: as mentioned, she uses the words London, England, and the UK interchangeably.  She bases her professed disgust with England on one five day visit to London.  I'll try to keep up with her mixing her proper nouns, but it gets confusing.

Let's start at the beginning.  With her intro:

"England has never been on my list.  It just seems boring and uninteresting."

Well, fair enough, everybody has different tastes.  However, I find this intriguing coming from someone from Colorado.  I'm just saying, people in glass states shouldn't throw boring stones.  You also shouldn't write off an entire country without ever actually knowing anything about it.  I've been to the States and I'd happily go again.  Hey, maybe I'll even go to Colorado one day, if I ever develop a desire to go live in the mountains like some kind of cave dweller (whoops, I can be really mean about somewhere I've never visited too!)

Next up is a complaint about our "unaffordable dental care".  Dental care is not cheap, I admit, even on the NHS.  I fail to see how it can possibly be more expensive than in a country where there is no social option and they pay privately, but never mind.  I will just say that I'll happily pay a bit more for a six monthly check up than maybe other countries do while I know that if I ever have anything seriously wrong with me, I have instant access to world class healthcare that is FREE at the point of use.  I will never understand resistance to socialised healthcare.  It seems at best counter intuitive, at worst backwards thinking.  *Cough* North America *Cough*.

I'm now going to quote something that may shock and offend some of you.  Please look away if you are of a sensitive disposition:

"Yorkshire pudding - have you tried that crap?  It's disgusting."

It's oven baked batter, and it's delicious.  How can someone be offended by something so simple, so pure, so....tasty?  Did she misinterpret the name and try serving it with custard as a dessert?  One cannot dislike Yorkshire pudding.  DOES NOT COMPUTE.  She's going to get far worse about an entire nation's culinary skills but for the moment I'm going to leave you with these images:

England gave the world this:

The United States gave the world this:

The KFC Double Down Burger.  The culinary expertise that went into that one!  Two pieces of chicken with some cheese in between!  Whatever inspired the great chef to think up this masterpiece?  And it only has 32 grams of fat and your entire RDA of salt!  No wonder Americans manage to keep their weight to a healthy 25 stone (am I deliberately making crass generalisations about an entire nation?  Yes, I am!  Hurts, doesn't it?).

Ok, so that was just her intro.  I'm moving onto the meat of the main post now.  So we really start with:

"The annoying, condescending accent."

THE accent?  THE accent?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?  This another incident of her confusing London with England as a whole, being as that's the only place she mentions having been to, but fucking hell, it's not like there isn't a range of accents in the metropolitan capital!  THE accent?!  And if she is talking about England as a whole....It's just indescribable, that level of sweeping statement.  THE accent?!  There is a Liverpudlian girl in my office and with no offence to any Scousers I know, I wish she came with subtitles.  Absolutely genuinely, I've had entire conversations with her where I've had no idea what's been said.  THE accent?!?!?  Scouse, Geordie, Mancunian, Lancashire, Brummie, Bristolian, Cockney, Received Pronunciation...All sound identical.  Who knew?

Also, "annoying and condescending"?  No one can put you down without your permission dear.  It's a bit of an old stereotype that Americans suffer an inferiority complex with regards the class and culture of the motherland, but this women does little to dispel it.  To quote Nicky Wire, we're just naturally fucking intelligent.  Deal with it.

And so, we circle back to the food:

"English food is bland and weird".

Sweetheart, "bland" and "weird" have diametrically opposing meanings.  Pick one, because you can't have both.

"Oh holy hell!  Who would put a disgusting kidney in a perfectly good pot pie?!"

I don't know.  My grandmother did, but I haven't had it since because I'm not EATING IN THE 1950S.  Maybe some places still serve steak and kidney pie, I don't know, I don't look for it so maybe I don't see it, but don't pretend that you can't get plain steak pie, or chicken pie or whatever else it is you get in pies these days (I'm not a big pie fan, in general.  I guess I hate ALL English food, huh?), it's just dishonest.  And I refuse to believe that anyone could have a problem with roast beef and roast potatoes.  Think it's bland? That's what horseradish sauce is for, they keep it right on the table.  And you hate full English breakfast?  So Americans hate bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns and sausages?  Because I'm pretty sure I saw a burger in the States that had all that in it.  Fish and chips?  Yeah, Americans are totally opposed to anything served in batter, those health nuts.  Cheddar cheese?  Gross.  Bangers and mash?  Don't be ridiculous, Americans would never touch complex carbs.  Dairy Milk?  Ew.  Everyone knows Americans like their chocolate to taste of vomit (seriously, try Hershey's chocolate, it tastes exactly like sick).  I could do this all day.

Next up, we decide to round upon the English fashion sense, because again we dress exactly the same and London is representative of the entire nation:

"They were the biggest congolmerate of some of the most unfashionable people I've ever seen.  It's like the English get dressed in the dark or something."

Again, England/London, same place, apparently.  And I'm not convinced she stopped to check the nationality of the majority of people she saw walking down the street.  And that's relevant because like all American tourists (stereotypes are FUN) she only went to the big tourist attractions, meaning everyone she saw there was a tourist.  In fact, is she certain she wasn't looking in a mirror?

Here are some designs by English fashion houses:

Alexander McQueen:
Urgh, THAT dress.  Can you remember the global furore about how much everyone hated it?

Stella McCartney:
Wouldn't be caught dead in any of these.

Classic tailoring, schmassic tailoring

Paul Smith:

Well boring.

I could go on.  I thought I'd do side by side comparison with some famous US designers, but I couldn't think of any, so here's a picture of a Kim Kardashian:

America: keeping it classy.

Think posting images from professional fashion shoots is unrepresentative of actual English fashion? So's posting a picture of one man on the tube with shoes that don't match his suit.

Onto the weather:

"The sun doesn't come up until, like, noon, if it ever does."

You visited in November, moron.  Except the sun still rises around 7.30am even in the depths on winter...Wait is she sure she wasn't in Finland?

And then the press:

"You'll have to wade through the crap to get to the financial section."

Or you could buy the Financial Times?

"Guess where the tabloids first debuted in 1900?  England"

Guess where newspapers in general debuted in the 16th Century, brainbox?  England.  You can still buy broadsheets, like I don't know, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, off the top of my head.  And you can buy tabloids that aren't red tops, like the Independent or the i.  But much easier to pretend they don't exist to prop up your negative view, I guess.

And music:

"The good days definitely ended with punk"  (Backs up her view with existence of the Spice Girls)

Yeah, I  forgot Britpop never happened, that was a dream I had.  The Smiths?  Morrissey probably made them up, like he did the whole game-changing New Romantic/Electro scene.  David Bowie?  Who's he?  Certainly not one of the biggest musical acts in the entire world, who saw the best of his career in the 1980s. Adele?  Not my cup of tea, but she's in the Guiness Book of Records about 12 times for all the musical awards she's won and records she's broken, but maybe she's secretly from the States?  

Adele: has not won multiple Grammy awards.


"Luckily, culture is everywhere in England. After all, it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language. Says who? Says Wikipedia. So it must be true. His plays were translated into every modern language. And you'll be happy to know that the rich tradition of live theater lives on here. The evidence of it is everywhere. Big, pink posters declaring Legally Blonde "fantastic" and "blows other musicals out of the water". Uh, REALLY? Now I didn't actually spend any money to see it, because I hate musicals and being raped by the Pound, personally. But, (and I'm just guessing here) it's no Shakespeare. So it's yet to be determined. Will Legally Blond be pronounced legally dead or will it be translated into Swahili? I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation and sitting here reading the dictionary while I wait for the verdict."

"Raped by the pound"?  Everyone loves it when you diminish the status of rape as a serious crime.  Did feminism not reach North America yet?  But, pushing that aside, I'm intrigued by the assertion that because there is a Legally Blonde musical there is obviously NO GOOD THEATRE ANYWHERE IN ENGLAND.  I guess I fucking dreamed seeing Corialanus live from the Donmar this year?  And Hamlet at the Young Vic.  And The Islanders in Bristol.  And A Doll's House and Miss Saigon in Birmingham. Cos, I've been dreaming about a lot of plays lately.  Maybe I should see a doctor.  Pretty sure I did see Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre though.  The very, very, American musical.  I thought it was hilarious personally.  But to quote someone we all know far too well by now, "it's no Shakespeare".

Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus: not a thing that happened.


Onto the traffic:

"But, the most treacherous thing about London traffic? It's walking across the street. You see 99% of the world drives on the right side of the road. And by right I mean right side of the road. And 99% of those crossing the street in London are foreigners. So, 99% of people are going to look left, even if your condescending crosswalk reminder says to look right."

How is it condescending to give helpful advice on how to not get hit by a car?!  I suppose we shouldn't fucking bother.  And because "everyone else does it", is that really a good reason for us to change?  If all of her friends were jumping off cliffs for fun, would she?  Probably, actually.  And 99% of people crossing the road being foreigners is an interesting one, but I have to give it to her.  I have a confession to make.  In my 31 years on the planet, I have never crossed the road in London.  I've remained on the left.  I see all these foreigners doing it (and miraculously not being mown down by the traffic?) but I've been too scared.  Oh, to be a brave American!

"And who the crap looks down at their feet when crossing the street?"

Uh, you did?  Else you wouldn't know about our "condescending" (there's that word again.  Feeling inferior, much?) signs, or have been able to take the photo of one you posted.  Idiot.

"Not my brother, a casualty of looking left when he should have looked right, who got assaulted by a mirror on a double decker bus right after we said goodbye on that fateful day. Don't worry, he's ok (sic)."

Oh thank Cod, I wasn't hoping he'd died just out of spite, by this point.  Assaulted is an odd choice of word when she admits it was her brother who deliberately stepped out into traffic after looking the wrong way, rather than the bus driver targeting him because he looked like the wanker he almost certainly is.  I mean, this sentence pretty much sums up this woman's woeful world view.  Goes to another country, doesn't observe the rules of that country even though they're clearly written for everyone to see, then blames us when she (or in this case, the brother, gets hurt).  I mean, SERIOUSLY?  If bet she's at some point been to Australia, ignored multiple signs saying not to approach wild kangaroos in wildlife parks, and then blamed "stupid Australia" when one kicked her in the face.  Although the head injury might explain a lot of the subsequent blog posts, I suppose.

My point?  I was brought up to believe that if you didn't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all, but I suppose ALL AMERICANS (gross generalisation status: active) weren't quite so well brought up.  

In other words, shut your mouth, you rude, mean, stupid, uneducated, ignorant and nasty piece of work.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Isn't it obvious?

In which V, for the first time since she was 12-years-old, attempts to write fiction.  It's not long enough to be a short story, but too long to be flash fiction.  It's a mess, is what it is.  Be kind, sometimes not all the things I wan't to say can be expressed directly, else I'd end up on a watch list.  The following story is fictional, and any resemblance to any persons, either living or dead, is coincidental.  Especially if it's to some bitch I used to work with.

"How many calories do you think are in cocaine?  I need to update my weight loss diary", Holly called out, directing her words at the dimly lit figure she could see through the crack in the bathroom door, although not really anticipating a response.  When sure enough, none was forthcoming (the figure had stepped into the shower now, and almost certainly couldn't hear her), she groaned, and her hoisted herself up onto her elbows in the massive double bed, almost slipping back down again as she struggled to find friction with the shiny, satin sheets.  Satin sheets?  What a wanker.  Where did she find these men?

She looked around for a light switch but couldn't see one, though the motion was enough to send her hand flying to her head as she winced in pain.  It was still early, 1 or 2am maybe, but she was already feeling the effects of the evening's indulgences.  Her head was spinning.  "Booze or drugs, Hol, booze or drugs", she chided herself, although by then it was already a familiar refrain.  "Jesus, I'm getting too old for this shit", she mumbled aloud as she fell heavily back down on the bed, her head hitting the pillow with a dull thud.  Although at 26 she was certainly younger than her latest "catch", and he seemed to be doing fine, she noted with some bitterness.  Deciding she needed to up her game, she groped her way gingerly across the bed and fumbled in the darkness on the bedside table as she looked for the last of the coke.

"Shit!" she yelped with some agitation, as she managed to send a wine glass, an alarm clock and a stack of magazines flying.  She hated being in unfamiliar surroundings, usually insisting on the same, bland, chain hotel for all of her trysts - the small flat she shared in south east London with her mother and sister when she was at home being generally ill suited to torrid affairs - but this time his girlfriend (wife?  No, definitely girlfriend, she decided) was away and he'd insisted they go back his place in Docklands.  "Oh GOD", she'd groaned inwardly, as he'd led her down to the DLR platform at Bank station after casually dropping £200 on about four cocktails in some bar populated entirely by smug, city wankers, as she realised he was taking her back to the suburban heart of smug, city wanker-dom.

She'd gone along with it wordlessly though, realising that she didn't have much say in the situation, particularly as he always paid for the hotels, although why the cheap bastard couldn't have shelled out for a taxi home she couldn't fathom.  She didn't keep her own place in the city, not seeing the point in it, as she was barely ever there.  Well, that, and she couldn't afford it.  She taught English for a living, to whiny little brats in third world hell holes that happened to have good beaches, and while it paid well enough to support her life of luxury in hot countries where a double vodka and Coke cost about 50p, it wasn't conducive to saving for a deposit at home.  But she'd worry about that later.  Frankly, her life right now was pretty perfect, living it up on a semi permanent holiday, then crashing at home for a few weeks or months between teaching assignments.  She was fired on an alarmingly regular basis, usually for turning up to work hungover, if she made it in at all, but you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, she thought.  Christ, she wasn't even trained.  And besides, teaching English as foreign language was one of the few areas where work was still plentiful, if you knew where to look, so she knew she'd always get another position eventually, after spouting some crap down the phone about having left her previous job to "pursue new challenges".

Originally she'd signed up with a temp agency to make some play money when she was in London, doing tele-marketing, data entry, that sort of thing, but she wasn't really suited to the work and didn't stick at it long.  On one of her early assignments though, at some high end bank's offices in Canary Wharf, she'd realised there were other ways of making ends meet.

She hadn't intended on having an affair with her boss.  She didn't fancy him, he was about 50, for fuck's sake, but she was bored she guessed, and he'd impressed her at team drinks one Friday night with the huge wad of cash he'd been waving about all night, and the even huger wad of coke she'd spied in his wallet, and she'd allowed him to take her back to a hotel, not-so-discreetly calling home in the cab to make some excuse about having to "pull an all-nighter with the boys to get these accounts done".  That had gone on for a few weeks until her assignment came to an end, and she'd gone off to another teaching placement, but after a few months she was back again and it had happened at her next temping assignment, and her next, and she soon realised she quite liked this state of affairs.  Older men were good for a few shags, at least, and even better for their stacks of cash and seemingly endless supply of drugs.  What was it with city boys and coke, she wondered absent-mindedly?  Sometimes she thought London ran on the stuff.  She always went for the ones in relationships too, the ones who nervously tried to hide their ring fingers as they chatted her up in the staff canteen, and conspicuously switched their mobiles to silent when they were out together.  She didn't need to be tied down when she was having so much fun flitting off abroad every few months, and they rarely complained when she wordlessly dumped them to get on a plane to Timbuktoo, or wherever she was off to next.  Plus, it had to be said, the guilt some of them clearly suffered tended to add an extra frisson.  She liked being the other woman.  It was a thrill, knowing she could casually take something that belonged to someone else, usually from right under their nose.

After a few work based trysts with various bosses and colleagues, she decided to cut out the middle man and ditch the temp jobs when she was in London - she didn't need the money with the amount these men were willing to spend on their pathetic attempts to impress her.  Instead, she'd head straight out to the bars on a Thursday and Friday night, the sort of places around Canary Wharf and the city where champagne was ordered by the magnum and if a round came to less than £100 it was considered a bargain.  She'd quickly become adept at spotting viable targets, usually men in their forties, usually having an obvious midlife crisis (you could tell by the tight fitted suits and the too young haircuts), who'd pretend to be oh-so-in-love with their wives and long term girlfriends, but in reality would trip over themselves to get to any plain looking girl in her twenties who batted an eyelash at them, to prove to themselves that they were still young, dynamic and virile, even though most of the time they really weren't.  Honestly, she didn't even have to try.

She'd been with the latest one, a financial journalist, she thought, a couple of weeks now, and quite frankly she was tired of him already, especially since he seemed to have run out of drugs, and was spending even longer in the shower than she did.  Her eyes beginning to adjust to the gloom, she surveyed her surroundings properly for the first time.  The bedroom was all white walls, black furniture and pretentious art - typical wanker pad.  He's said something about having a girlfriend of ten years, the usual "we've drifted apart/she doesn't understand me" excuses, but Holly couldn't see much of her influence around.  Clearly she didn't have as strong a hold on her man as she'd like tho think she did.  Really, Holly didn't have any respect for these delusional women, who clung to the idea that they were in relationships with men who obviously barely tolerated their presence.  They ought to take a leaf out of her book and get some self respect.

Fighting the nausea that was rising up from her stomach, Holly propped herself up on her elbows again, and ran a hand through her long and now greasy, matted dyed blonde hair.  She really needed a shower.  Rapidly sobering up and starting to shiver she decided to get dressed, and maybe then consider sneaking out  and looking for a night bus, but she cursed inwardly when she picked up her crumpled black cocktail dress from the floor and immediately remembered  that she'd tipped a glass of red wine down her front a few hours before in a drunken stupor.  It was still wet, and sticky.  She dropped it back on the hardwood floor, located her underwear and slipped that on instead and padded over to the large double wardrobe in the corner of the room, thinking she'd borrow something of his to wear.  She doubted he'd mind; men always seemed to find it quite cute when she dressed her tiny, 5 foot nothing frame in their over-sized shirts.  On opening the door though, it was obvious that she'd accidentally found the girlfriend's little corner of the room.  She pulled out the first few items and smirked - it was all knee length dresses, plain white blouses, and sensible shoes.  She checked out the labels; all size 12-14 and makes Holly'd never heard of, but seriously doubted were designer.  Holly thought to herself that she'd never let herself get into such a state, obviously out of shape, and dressed like a frumpy German hausfrau.  And these women wonder why their boyfriends cheat on them, she thought.  Isn't it obvious?

Closing the wardrobe door, Holly wondered if this one knew what her supposedly faithful partner was up to the minute her back was turned.  She'd only been caught out once as far as she was aware, when she'd been screwing a 40-something lawyer with a wife and kids, of course, although it had turned out OK; she'd managed to extricate herself from the situation fairly easily.  She remembered seeing a headline in one of the London papers a few weeks later about a domestic murder suicide, a well off man in a huge house in the suburbs who'd killed his wife and kids then turned the gun on himself after she'd found out about his affair and threatened to leave him.  She'd meant to look it up later, but never got around to it.  "Shoot them all and let God sort it out" as her grandad used to say, she thought, chuckling slightly to herself.

Lost in her thoughts, Holly hadn't heard the key turning softly in the lock.  Self absorbed as usual, she hadn't heard anything, right up until the terse black fabric of what she thought in her dying breaths was a pashmina (poor quality, the pain hadn't dulled her style sensibilities) had been wrapped tightly around her neck, choking her before she even had a chance to cry out.  As she struggled to focus, she could still see the outline of a figure through the crack in the bathroom door, towelling off, seemingly oblivious to the scene unfolding a few feet away. In the mercifully short few seconds that followed, just before her body went limp and her vision went black, she wondered "why?"  Isn't it obvious?