Howling with a heavy brogue

IF a man indulges in casual sexism in an unintelligible accent, is he really being an ignorant oaf?

Or consider this.

If a woman doesn’t realise she is the butt of a man’s casual sexism, does it mean she’s no longer a feminist?

Hard hitting questions, all.

This post is a confusing one for me to write – so I’ll just tell it as it happened, because, it was an amusing blip in my otherwise ordinary day.

It was a Monday. I’d happily survived another one and was walking post-work from the train station to where I park the car – about a five minute walk; I’ve convinced myself if I don’t have time for formal exercise on any given day, at least I walked briskly for 10 minutes. And used the stairs instead of the lift. And only had two chocolates at 3pm with a cup of tea.

Deep in aimless, western society thought…what should I make for dinner, damn I forgot to book the dogs in for a groom, again, that champagne on Saturday was really nice, what brand was it…I was pulled from my mental meanderings by a rogueish brogue.

Well. I didn’t know that’s what it was until my mind had caught up with the situation – someone was talking to me, or attempting to.

As I turned my head toward the train station access road beside me, I noted a white 4WD ute had slowed to walking pace and a male driver, dressed in hi-viz, was talking out his open window. Probably to me. Because there was nobody else around.

My thoughts began to speed up, I checked my surroundings wondering if he was slowing to give me a warning about some sort of nearby danger, maybe someone was nicking my car, but how would he know which car was mine, and why do we suddenly think these weird sorts of things?

There was only one thing to do.

“I beg your pardon,” I genuinely asked, looking for clarification of the impending danger.

“Yaprollydoneffennohowotyearrrr,” came the repetitive, slur-ry reply.

Now, I know the helpful grinning man was repeating his statement so I could better understand it, but it sounded just the same, only slightly slower.

As my brain worked overtime to decipher it, and matching it with his boofhead smile, I instinctively realised bodily danger was not imminent. Besides, there was a fence and a car between him and me.

And then it clicked.

“You probably don’t even know how hot you are,” was the helpful offering of life advice, in a thick Irish brogue.

And what was my brilliant reply?

“Okey doke.”

Brilliant! A wordsmith without the wherewithall to wield them.

Well, what was I supposed to say? And what was it all supposed to mean?

But, back to my first question – was this harmless gent a sexist oaf?

No. I think he thought he was giving me a compliment. Because, it’s a looong walk from the train station to the deserted car park and I don’t know how much more silence I could have endured without a reassuring ‘compliment’ from a stranger. Withdrawals already!

We women need reassuring that we are hot, don’t we. I will refrain from making a dad-joke about the weather at this point. (Ooops, was I being sexist then? Sorry dad.)

Was I being an anti-feminist by not calling him out as a sexist or in fact, not realising that’s probably what he was being? It only became clearer when watching this week’s hooha following Chris Gayle’s clumsy and inappropriate flirtation with TV sports reporter Mel McLaughlin. I’m a bit slow on the uptake some days.

I say inappropriate because it’s not nice to show someone up in public for your own entertainment. If a romantic relationship did eventuate from this shallow televised attempt, expect more of the same top quality respect for your feelings. Privately and publicly.

But, unsurprisingly, I digress.

In a nutshell, I was momentarily confused. I didn’t feel like a victim, because I don’t think our Irish friend set out to make me feel that way. I think Chris Gayle distinctively did. Ms McLaughlin certainly didn’t appear as a slaughtered lamb.

So, I am not an anti-feminist for just ‘shaking my head’ at the thoughtless things some men will do to communicate to a woman that they think they’re a bit of alright. I don’t think I needed to take any stronger action…I think my ‘okey doke’ will have convinced him beyond doubt of his stupid, sexist actions…pfffffttt!

But, seriously guys, what do you want us women to do when you offer an uninvited impression of our attractiveness? Scale the fence between us, clamber through your open window and plant sloppy, thankful kisses all over your dusty, stubble-pocked face, then use a hanky to wipe the spittle away and remind you to put your dirty work clothes in the laundry basket and not on the bedroom floor?

No. Well, behave then.

On another aside, we women don’t publicly voice our impressions of men’s physical appeal because from the moment we are born little girls are conditioned to behave politely and be sensitive to the feelings of others. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Blokes, it’s time to be awesome role models for the little men in your lives. It can’t just be mum’s job any more.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Picture: Norbert Rosing/Getty Images

 

 
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Going round the Benz

 

It’s morning peak hour, just as harried working mothers are ferrying their children to school in the nick of time, up and down already congested roads, when the unthinkable happens.

Your car conks out right at an insanely busy intersection to an arterial route linking to the main freeway of the capital city in which you live.

This was me today. I apologise to everyone behind me in the metal line-up that stretched as far as the eye could see as cars, trucks, bikes, taxis, utes, SUVs, limousines (ok, that might be stretching the truth – ha! See what I did there…), did their best to steer around my forlorn 1975 Mercedes-Benz as it languished in the turning lane.

A remarkable woman for her age, the white automatic I’ve dubbed Ida – because she’s my private Idaho, not after the popular Germanic woman’s name – decided to have a little nanna nap at the lights.

Yeah, tell that to the frustrated, previously on-time drivers, doing their utmost not to erupt in road rage as they attempt what they do least best – merge.

Thankfully, as I fumbled in my purse for my gold RAC card, which I couldn’t find, then Googled the magic phone number and dialled it, only one fellow road user honked in desperation. But I was very focussed on trying to get myself out of a pickle so there were probably multitudinous birds being flipped, and looks trying to kill.

Finally, after what seemed like an absolute century, I successfully made contact with roadside assist who would send a tow truck forthwith to pull me off the road, freeing up the congestion I was sure must now be part of every commercial radio station’s droll 8am traffic report.

“A silly wild-haired woman is stranded in her posh (near) vintage petrol-guzzling Merc at one of the most used intersections linking to the City’s only congested freeway system, otherwise known as the carpark. Will someone give her a hand to push the clapped out piece of art onto the bloody median strip! Doesn’t she know we’ve all got deadlines to meet and rubber to burn at this time of day!!!”

Then, just as my stress levels peaked, a knight in shining armour pulled up beside me in a deep cherry red 90s Landcruiser, having logically mounted the kerb to do so, and offered to pull me off. What! That’s two offers in the space of three minutes! Maybe my luck was changing.

Michael ‘The Practical’ said he would happily attach a rope to the front of his car and the back of mine, before reversing up onto the generous, grassy median, removing me from harm’s way, and letting morning peak hour catch up with itself.

I couldn’t have been more overjoyed, especially when he mused that someone really should have offered help well before now, shading his eyes as they gazed into the distance at the endless snaking vehicular centipede.

Resolved to take action, I looked down at my gearstick and realised, sheepishly, that it was sitting neatly in ‘drive’…possibly the reason for my ignitionless ignition…oh, ooohhhhhh.

I gently put her in ‘park’ and turning the ignition again, Ida’s rhythmic pistons sparked into throaty life.

While she had stuttered on take-off due to her customary flat spot on acceleration, she probably would have started again quite quickly had I put her in park before trying to turn her over.

I admit it. Sometimes I am a silly wild-haired woman. But I guess you’ve figured that out by now.

So, why, when I have a perfectly serviceable 2010 Nissan sitting in my garage, was I driving that dinosaur, you ask?

Just to keep the motor ticking over 🙂

Train wreck roach

WHAT is one of the worst passengers you can encounter on a Perth metropolitan train on your way to work…apart from a racist?

The Australian cockroach.

Which is misleading because it’s actually an introduced species from Asia according to my research (thanks Google) – and it was certainly an introduced species on this early morning train where it was met with amusement, terror and worse, by some of its formerly mild-mannered fellow passengers.

Generally, the commonly annoying commuters are those who force you to listen as the fine hairs (known as stereocilia) inside their cochlea are bashed down, never to send electrical impulses to the brain or stand tall again, in time with the unrelenting decibels from their natty ear phones.

But I met a new kind this morning.

She welcomed me onto the empty seat beside her, a refuge from the gently swaying herd; I felt safe beside this pretty 50-something wearing a dusty pink twinset.

Despite sitting very close to one another, as you always do on public transport, we didn’t touch, despite the lurching passage of a learner driver as they arrived and departed the six or seven stops.

I drifted into my usual absent-minded reverie, studying people’s shoes, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, dandruff…contemplating why people cared less about taking personal phone calls knowing they were being overhead by all and sundry, well, those of us without earphones…Oh. Just me then. Marvelling at those stoically reading actual books in such cramped confines, randomly dotted between others mutely interfacing with their smartphones as if their happiness depended on it.

Until! The demure lady alongside shoved her elbow fair into my side-boob rib cage!! Thinking she had simply been thrown off balance by an unsteady neighbouring passenger, I was soon staring into her popping, terror-filled blue eyes as she loudly declared, in a thick Scottish brogue, “thayre’s a cookroooch on the trreyne”!!!

As she jerkily lifted her knees to keep her feet safe from the wretched beast, another passenger sarcastically mused it must have gotten on at bogan-ville further down the line.

Of course it did! It jumped the gap, minding it all along, desperate to get off at a more affluent suburb.

Feet shuffled, eyes peered floor-ward, shoes lifted and toes twitched and before I knew it, the dark brown insect was a sickening mush.

“It’s awkheee! I’ve murrrdurrrudd ut!” the Scottish train cockroach spotter proclaimed victoriously, her face turning nearly as blue as her homeland’s prood flag.

The carriage drew to a standstill, the doors opened and the commuters grimaced at the rank smear on the heavy-duty carpet as they filed out…that roach was less scarier alive.

I moved seats, knowing I’d be compelled to look at the insectuous remains over and over again, otherwise.

RIP Australasian traveller.

Photomontage by Hanane Kai

Photomontage by Hanane Kai

Confessions of a check-out chick

As a customer, I might be a bit…well…shit.

How do I know this, and why am I only finding out now?

Do you want the long story or the short? Ok, I’ll get straight to the point.

I spent two hours behind a cash register in a retail environment the other day and some of my customers were annoying. And I’m embarrassed to say, I too display some of ‘those’ habits…the ones where we think we’re being helpful.

Wrong!

It is not helpful to say you don’t want a bag when I’ve already packed your goods in one. Environment 1, me, the patient checkout-chick, 0. Now you’ve made me feel like a dimwit,  there’s a bag on the loose in my cramped workspace and I’m second guessing my formula for not charging customers twice for their goods, by putting those already scanned in. the. bag.

It is not necessary to give me a $20 for your $13.45 purchase and then, just as I have counted out your $6.55 change and am handing it over, you decide you do have the right change after all! You empty the contents of your purse onto the counter and start behaving like The Count from Sesame Street. Do you have any idea what that does to a numerically challenged wordsmith?

When you are third in line and waiting patiently for a numerically-challenged wordsmith to remember how to do an EFTPOS transaction, don’t pretend to smile and instead grimace as you realise your lunch hour is draining away like your very lifeblood.

It just makes me more nervous, I start to flap, and I go s.l.o.w.e.rrrrr…..

Another interesting observation was that some customers think the server is a servant, and somehow beneath them.

Please do say ‘hi’ when I greet you and let me know if you’re having a good day when I ask – being economical with your words is not saving you time. It is making me wonder though at how often our service personnel have to put up with being ignored. And customers complain about bad service!

I’ve never learnt how to work a cash register which means that a skill vital to perhaps jagging a lifesaving job during hard times is an intimidating mystery to me – a generous family member stepped in and offered to have her staff teach me. They said it was easy. I’m not so sure.

These women have been working the register in a retail environment for years and the role is an extension of their personalities. They are generous and knowledgeable and friendly, and see the gamut of humanity as it slides through the checkout daily.

From the woman who bought eight $1 cards for the birthdays she will be helping others celebrate this month to the unsure young fellow who spent 30 minutes searching for just the right gift for his girlfriend, to the elderly parent taking their middle aged daughter with Down syndrome for her weekly shopping outing, to the headscarf wearing handyman in search of mousetraps to halt the unwelcome vermin insistent on sitting in front of his heater as he watched the 6 o’clock television news, the rainbow of human allsorts will generally go through a cash register at some point in their normal day.

I realised that the time in service both flies and drags, that the feeling of exhaustion after standing for only two hours almost gets through to your marrow, that a 30 minute lunch break is gone in the blink of an eye, that checking a $100 bill transaction with a colleague can prevent a suspicious discrepancy over the correct change, that sometimes going through a checkout might be the only social intercourse some people will have all day.

Little old ladies with their old fashioned clip top purses, jingling with coins, mums on the look-out for cheap craft items for their children, grandmothers treating their progeny with an inexpensive purchase just for fun, men in search of cheap batteries and light bulbs, others for that perfect gift for the woman in their lives.

And then there is the retail environment itself – these women notice if their local shopping centre is having a busy day, it’s a subject of earnest discussion, like the weather. When people don’t spend money, discretionary or otherwise, people’s jobs are on the line.

One till operator, who unpacks and marks down goods between customers, was adjusting to a third less hours as staffing numbers were adjusted in line with the shopping habits of our cautious, cash-strapped society.

There. I said it would be the short version! Never look a gift shop in the mouth – it is a microcosm of human experience that ends with the patient operator at the exit counter. Give them a real smile and engage in some simple banter. It’s priceless.

Bucket already half full

I’m not sure if my latest impulse buy is confirmation that I have a bucket list or that I am indeed, part bogan.

Firstly, let me qualify a couple of things. I get BOGANS – Bold, Ostracised, Generous, Aussie, No-nonsense Shit-stirrers. They are comfortable in their own skin, make no apologies for it and believe in living for the moment, regardless of how it looks to others. All while wearing black skinny jeans, a flanny shirt and Ugg boots even if it is 40 degrees – not my chosen uniform, but I do love slumming it in a pair of tracky dacks, gymboots and a sloppy jumper come winter.

Of course, it may also be relevant that I grew up watching Bon Scott on Countdown in a Pilbara mining town before living in a suburb known as Armadale-by-the-sea for a couple of decades, and then moving up in the world (in my language, this simply means closer to Fremantle) to a former market gardening suburb where HSVs are commonplace.

But I had no idea I even had a bucket list. Until I bought myself a ticket to AC/DC. Then it really sunk in. I had given in to a long held desire to let there be rock.

Yep, little old me. Former journalist of 30 years, fulltime newspaper Editor for five, lover of gender fluid funkster Prince and the Revolution, green tea, antique chairs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, period dramas, burgeoning book cases, a 20-year-old book club habit and a heavenly clutch of bookish bosom buddies to go with it.

At this point I feel you urging me to explain the bloody awesomely liberating act of buying a ticket to see Australia’s international rock legends, and I will in due course, but first I must tackle the largest land mammal with a prehensile trunk in the room – the bucket list.

I can remember being baffled by what one was, until someone explained the bleedin’ obvious – it’s a list of things we really want to do before we kick the bucket.

Ohhh, that. How maudlin. When the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie (which I still haven’t seen) of the same name came out in 2007 I felt the phrase was a trendy Americanism that I needed to shun. Research suggests that may be the case, although its idiom was used as a totally unrelated computer programing term since the 60s. You really needed to know that!

If we think about the retrospective concept of a bucket list, we all started kicking goals off it years ago – I have flown to Brisbane especially to see Prince, I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower and Uluru, explored Karijini, done a tandem skydive, skinny dipped at Cable Beach, been on an exotic overseas Club Med holiday, ridden on camels and elephants (the latter now a regret), cuddled a baby tiger, driven across the Nullarbor, sailed the high seas aboard a Bark and scaled its 33m main mast, swum with dolphins, interviewed the first female Prime Minister of Australia and managed to keep two incredible daughters alive until (near) adulthood.

And now I get to see those fathers of rock, Acca Dacca, after years of threatening to make do with seeing a tribute band – the suggestion of either option irking even the thickest of my thieves.

And while I am stoked, if not a little (shit) scared, I can’t wait to be one of those about to rock while being saluted by the makers of a music brand that has the kind of primal, driving, addictive beat only a nest of Sunnis in Fallujah would avoid. There are reports that US troops blasted enemy snipers with Hell’s Bells via loudspeakers during the Iraq War in 2004.

I hope the no doubt diehard folk in the seats next to me can embrace my bookish appreciation as this problem child shakes all night long to some high voltage rock and roll, come November.

What goes down always comes up roses

THANKS to an interesting Facebook post http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/ – relating to emotions people feel but can’t explain – I realised there were a couple among the list of 23 words that went some way to describing the aftermath of my last big fall. No, not the shopping centre slip up of recent days, but the shit-scary bike stack I managed to walk away from in 2006. I put together a descriptive piece about six months after the ordeal, and I‘ve included it below, for your cringe-worthy enjoyment.

I fell off my bike. Aged 37.

It wasn’t just a little bingle, like those giggly stacks you have at Rotto http://www.rottnestisland.com/, it was a nasty, head-over-handlebars-while-speeding-down-a-big-hill style stack that would have appeared painfully spectacular to onlookers.

Perfect fodder for funniest home videos; ugly but hilarious all at the same time, with the rider “no outdoorsy mothers were injured during the filming of this video.”

I can still feel the massive blow to my chin as I ploughed into the concrete path, and that was more than six months ago.

The flashbacks only hit me occasionally now. For a while there everything I thought about doing, driving the car, riding ‘the’ bike, even going for a walk, would end in an eye-scrunching memory of that “bang”. It made me much more paranoid about the possible negative outcomes of doing everyday things, too. I’ve since progressed to riding my bike again, even down that big hill, although I avoid that part of the path if I can. And I am very conscious of never, ever again applying the front brakes without first engaging the rear ones. Doh!

I ended up with a deep gash under my chin that needed six stitches, various superficial facial and limb grazes, two breaks to my left wrist, a broken bone in my right hand and a fracture to my left elbow.

It could have been so much worse – not long after my accident a front-page story on a weekend city paper detailed the story of a cyclist who wound up a quadriplegic after crashing into other bike riders on a Perth cycle path.

For a week I had both arms in plaster. I was unable to drive for six weeks because of the (fluoro pink – so me) fibreglass plaster that remained on my left arm, this initially scared the hell out of me – the loss of control and freedom was claustrophobic. I was unable to work for nearly four months as my wrists strengthened and eventually realigned thanks to lots and lots of physiotherapy (and patience), and as a casual journo, the loss of wages was another hurdle to overcome.

Why did I put my front brake on anyway, I hear you ask? Well, as my two daughters and I coasted down the hill that afternoon, I became aware of walkers chatting on the pathway up ahead and called out for the girls to ring their bells.

I also began ringing my bell, then put a hand to my head to stop my hat from blowing off (no, I was very stupidly not wearing a helmet) and swiftly realised I was about to crash into the rear of my seven-year-old. I immediately applied my right hand brake, it seemed instinctive at the time, being right-handed and already using my left hand to keep my hat on.

The rest is family history. I came to a very sudden, crumpled stop. My children stopped when they heard my squeal, which was all I could manage, and the walkers ran over to help. My 12-year-old called my partner on my mobile, and my father arrived, along with the ambulance.

So what did I learn from this experience? Heaps. It challenged my need to always be in control and to constantly do things for myself without asking for help. It made me realise how we coast through life never realising how lucky we really are and what dangers potentially lurk in even the most innocuous activities. It made me realise I had to slow down and stop trying to do a million things at once.

Being a working and studying mother of two busy children meant it was commonplace to do several things at once to capitalise on my time – when I look back now, my frenetic lifestyle was always going to come crashing down around my well-organised ears. I am just so thankful I didn’t have a car accident, or hurt other people during the “crash I had to have”. Even my bike escaped unscathed. Now, when I feel my life speeding up, I take steps to slow down and yes, the roses do smell great.

PS: The obscure words that related but not necessarily resonated were Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire. Are you kidding!!!; and, Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it. Except that they do…everyone’s taken the bark off or smashed their ego when gravity separates bike and rider.

Is there an upside to falling down?

It’s been years.

Since I fell over.

Ok, I’ve tripped up the stairs in a rush and lost my footing over less than flat mats, and there was that time I fell off my bike, aged 37….but we won’t go there, again.

No, this was an embarrassing fall from grace exacerbated by a large, unsympathetic audience.

There I was, minding my own business, a woman on a grocery mission. Kiwi fruit, unsalted butter, gluten free bread, Sensodyne…and then wham! I was in an alternate universe where even as I plummeted floorwards I was saying to myself “Hey, this feels a lot like falling over, doesn’t it? Am I? Falling over? Nooo. Yes, I ammmmmmm”.

…Right palm typically takes the full defensive brunt as my foot pathetically slips and my legs become entangled, handbag landing thwack on the floor below me…

And, with Murphy among my closest friends, it was a day when every seat in the food court was taken up by infinite bus loads of elderly morning teas-ers, their mouths gaping slackly open, mid-muffin munch, blinking unbelievably at the silly cow sprawled before them.

Did they hastily get up from their chairs to help, or ask if I was alright? God no! They were too stunned to know what to do. Had they really witnessed a woman in her mid-40s hit the tiles baby giraffe style? I gave them little time to react, jumping up as soon as my confused body would let me. Even the woman sitting on the chair closest, almost within reaching distance, sat motionless, staring, like some sort of taxidermied goldfish out of water.

Had these people never seen anyone fall over before!!!!

I made my escape to the nearby post office, rubbing my sore hand and checking my ego for permanent damage, glancing behind me, almost expecting to see myself still lying on the floor. It was that surreal.

Finally composed and balancing a parcel in my good hand, I set off gingerly to my next port of call, flagging down a weary, black-clad security guard on the way. How serendipitous – now I could tell someone and make it real!

“I was walking around the corner to the post office,” I said “and all of a sudden I was on the floor.”

“Rightio, can you take me to where it happened luv. We’ll be able to check it out on the security camera, see if we can work out what happened,” he purposely took a small notebook and stubby knife-sharpened pencil from his top pocket. Things were getting official.

Again I felt as though I was performing for a nocturnal house full of bug-eyed possums, the audience watching intently as I explained where I had fallen.

“I’m not sure if something has been spilled on the floor and it’s a bit slippery. It would be terrible if one of these elderly folk slipped and fell, they’d probably break a hip. Or their concentration….”, I mumbled.

Scuffing his own sensible shoe across the floor, peering at it from all directions, searching for any imperfections, he began to resemble a dodgy mechanic with a Bali holiday on credit.

“Floor looks alright to me. Hmmmm, maybe it’s those shoes,” the security official accused, bending to inspect my feet.

“WHAT! Are you telling me I don’t know how to walk in my own boots with the sturdy medium heels,” was what I wanted to say.

What I did say: “I don’t think so. I wear these shoes all the time. I was walking fine until I got to this spot, and then I was on the floor. Ok. Thanks, anyway,” I trailed off, feeling belittled by a uniformed grandfather wearing a bunch of keys on his thick belt.

Now I almost want some old biddy to slip and fall at the same spot, just to prove a point!…In her moccasins, pushing a walking frame, husband following behind with a trolley containing just two bags, still sucking the muffin crumbs out of his falsies…

As I teeter on the brink of the age group being urged to leave the ‘burbs for the permanent bliss of an ever growing selection of convenient and sophisticated lifestyle villages, I cringe. Then shudder. Are slippers, walking aids and Metamucil really that far into my future? And how can I get a gander at that CCTV footage…

www.dailymail.co.uk 1933 Some of the fair competitors come to grief in the sack race during the sports of John Baker & Co at Southfields today.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk
1933
Some of the fair competitors come to grief in the sack race during the sports of John Baker & Co at Southfields today.

Mums, don’t look now, but you’ve been Snapchatted!

PARENTS – especially mums – of teenagers, be alert, and possibly alarmed.

It’s very likely your ‘little angels’ are using their parent-funded mobile phone to send unauthorised, unapproved and unfiltered (ie sans soft focus) images of you to all and sundry. Even if it is just for a moment or two.

I have become aware that my little darling – a nearly 16-year-old daughter – regularly sends Snapchats of me to her friends for momentary entertainment.

The other day while driving her to one of her many social engagements, I realised a neck-heavy image of me on her phone had been sent to a close friend, just in passing, as a visual indication of her how school holidays were panning out.

Now, my neck from a low angle is not flattering, but I also have to admit it could be one of the nicer uploads of me her friends have seen, as me cooking in the kitchen in my “thank god work is over tracky dacks” and unwashed hair and “what do you want now” expressionism is probably more the norm.

It started to dawn on me when I came across one of my daughter’s friends waiting at a neighbourhood bus stop as I clocked up my early morning walk a few weeks ago. I stopped for chat, it would have been rude not to, and what did I get in return? A Snapchat!

Later that day, my daughter quizzed me about what I’d been doing that morning and where I’d been going? (Why did she care, and) How did she know, I asked. “Oh, Rosie sent me a Snapchat of you walking,” she said as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

So mums, and dads, beware. Your image is out there, unapproved. In all your glory, ripped footy shorts, hair in rollers, chucking a wobbly or sunbaking nude on the trampoline, there’s every chance your kids are sharing you with their pals.

And if you’re really lucky, some of those ‘friends’ will be saving those images for posterity if recorded within the 1-10 second window before it disappears from their phone’s screen. Yeah, you didn’t know that did you.

Welcome to your future. Thanks circa-1986 computer geeks.

Designer vaginas – the next must-have beauty treatment?

Is your vagina designer?

What? Don’t play stupid with me – Has it seen better days? Have people been complaining about its appearance? Does it need redoing, you know, like your holiday house décor, or your roots?

Because, apparently if your ‘ladyparts’ don’t look like a petite, perfectly closed purse you need surgery to fix that – a bit like those boobs in need of perkifying and that unattractive non-trout pout.

According to a gloriously pink full page ad in a weekly newspaper delivered to Perth’s most elite beach and riverside suburbs, local women should contact a particular ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to find out how they can get their own designer vagina.

‘Tighten vaginal tissue, remodel collagen and rejuvenate the vulva. Revive the sensations, revitalise the tissue of the vagina and improve urinary incontinence’ is the ad’s teasing hook line (and sinker), with a web address using the words petite and lady, because that’s what we all aspire to be, isn’t it!?

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I would love myself sick, and so would others, if my brain, pay packet, personality, role and presence on this planet was so much smaller, thinner and petite than they really are.

I’m so thankful I have the choice to get a designer vagina if I want one – hooray! Unless it’s just another way to make women part with their hard-earned and their self respect by buying into the pressure to conform to yet another sanitised, feminine ideal of sameness.

What is the perfect vagina? One that can adequately birth children and still function as a pleasure receptor and provider, surely.

If you need help with urinary incontinence, pelvic floor exercises work wonders and if not it’s a bone fide medical condition that may need specialist surgery; it’s not an excuse for a ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to charge you thousands to improve the appearance of something that is already unique, beautiful and functional.

Is this pressure to possess a ‘healed’ over vulva coming from men, if so, is there a particular age range flexing their muscles? Is it women – it seems unlikely, you can’t even show off the finished product? Is it the cosmetic surgery industry?

I’ll go with the last one – I’m informed there is a demand for the service at this western suburbs clinic, but advertising the designer vagina treatment perpetuates what is a sad, damaging cycle – it doesn’t just involve medically unnecessary surgery with a painful recovery but the reiteration of an unhealthy and inaccurate belief that as women, our natural appearance is not good enough.

I’ve even heard the frightening anecdote of a teenage girl so ashamed of her vagina that she is convinced she needs surgery – and she hasn’t yet seen what an amazing array of yonis are even out there, so that she can see she is perfectly normal, or given birth…but that’s a topic for another day.      

We cry foul at the thought of women undergoing female circumcision and/or genital mutilation. I don’t see how this is any different, except that the patients have been brainwashed into thinking it’s just a normal desire all women have the right to fulfil.

Get real. There’s nothing wrong with your vagina. Embrace it. And do your pelvic floors.