• ‘I had been the perfect wife and mother – so why did my husband walk out?’

    Like many people before internet dating, I met my husband in the office.

  • The truth about the ‘sexist surcharge’ on emergency contraception in Britain

    There are few products on sale in our pharmacies that have a greater mark-up than emergency contraception. While the pills can now be purchased for under £4 from online retailers, women are still paying four times that for an equivalent product in places such as Boots.

  • ‘Dad’s extravagant spending almost ruined me’

    Money flowed into my childhood home. It was the 1980s – era of the yuppie – and in our house in the Essex countryside, the supply seemed endless to me and my siblings. For my mum, I know now it wasn’t such fun.

  • ‘Four maternity leaves took an unimaginable toll on my life’

    More than £70,000. That’s the basic cost of raising a child to the age of 18 for couples in the UK, according to the Child Poverty Action Group’s latest “Cost of a Child” report. More than £70,000 per child, that is. Throw in additional expenses like food – which, somewhat bizarrely, isn’t classed as a basic cost – and childcare and that figure rises to more than £150,000 per child. Or £600,000 if you’re a mum of four like me.

  • ‘He told me that my body belonged to him – and I believed him’

    There was violence in my home growing up. Not at first, when I was very young, but by the time I started school, it was there – and that was just the beginning.

  • Getting up at 5:40am changed my life and saved my sanity

    In the summer of 2015, I was a mess. My six-month-old baby, Raffy, was waking on the hour, every hour, every night. I was so tired that I thought I was going mad. My brain was mud. I couldn’t think clearly, which, as a freelance writer, was upsetting to say the least. I would often come home from walking my eldest son, Bear, then three, to nursery and cry with tiredness. One day, I put the boys in the car and, as I was about to drive off, Bear asked, ‘Why are we not wearing our seatbelts today?’

  • I've tumbled from one personal disaster to the next, and one thing saved me

    There’s only so long even an anxious, self-absorbed neurotic like me can spend worrying about houses and gazing at her navel. I’ve spent almost a year panicking about property, feeling my life was on hold until I’d bought somewhere to live. But now, settled and happy in my silly, twinkly caravan, I finally have headspace to think about something else. And what I begin thinking about is starting a writing course in Somerset.

  • Are we the last generation of binge drinkers?

    ‘Wine! Helping Mums One Sip At A Time’ reads my most recent birthday card from my teenage daughters. I can’t blame them for choosing it. For nearly two years, they’ve witnessed me pouring my evening beaker (actually a good half pint because the glasses are so fashionably huge) of chardonnay. Then – often – another.

  • How to tell if you've been hit by HOGO – the Hassle of Going Out

    Remember all that talk of “freedom day” back in the summer? The idea was that we would unshackle ourselves from the chains of lockdown to party like it was 2019, go to every theatre opening and never again turn down an invitation. There was even a Wrigleys Extra advert showing the masses logging off Zoom to rush into the streets to hug strangers and make out in parks.

  • Why I’m not selfish for refusing to wear a mask

    Last week I was in Waitrose, doing my food shopping. Bare-faced and mask-free, I spied an old friend. As I wheeled my trolley over to her, smiling, our eyes met for a millisecond, before she looked off in the other direction and scurried off, disappearing – pink mask and all – into the frozen food aisle.

  • ‘I removed my age from my CV to get a job in midlife’

    Before the pandemic hit, I’d been working for 19 years at a travel company based in west London. I was hard at it day and night, but I loved my job.

  • ‘I know several senior political figures who no woman would want to be alone with’

    “What are you doing dragging this up from 18 years ago?” an exasperated Tory minister asked me earlier this week. I’d had the temerity to finally speak publicly about the time Stanley Johnson smacked me hard on the backside at the Conservative Party conference in 2003 (something he claims not to recall). Perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone in the Party was happy to see this dirty laundry receive a public airing. Johnson is, after all, the Prime Minister’s father. The behaviour I talked about on

  • I was ghosted by my rental dress company

    When the delivery of a leaf blower generated as much excitement as the arrival of a glamorous new dress and vertiginous heels once had, I knew that I was completely out of practice with party wear.

  • Florence St George: 'It looked like I was living the dream, but I was in a dark place'

    As soon as I gave birth to my daughter Iris, we were in love. She was perfect and I felt an overwhelming protective instinct towards her. But that night, I also felt a chemical shift inside me. I’d be laughing and loving one minute, sobbing and angry the next.

  • Equal Pay Day: How one simple change could solve the gender pay gap

    Today we’re marking Equal Pay Day, the day women effectively start to work for free because, on average, they are paid less than men. Progress to close the UK’s pernicious gender pay gap has been slow and if things don’t speed up, we won’t see it done until 2050.

  • One message out of the blue from an old love and I'm planning our new life in Mexico

    Last Saturday I met up with an old flame who contacted me out of the blue after not hearing from him for more than two decades. Tragically, I mistook the invitation for a date. Projecting 20 years of lost love on to one lunch sitting was never destined to end well. Unsurprisingly nervous, I behaved in a very out-of-character fashion (spending Sunday clutching a bottle of gin staring at the ceiling dying of embarrassment wasn’t part of my weekend plan). The “date” (ho ho ho) that was actually not

  • Tiger King’s Carole Baskin: ‘I’ve been made a villain because I’m a woman’

    In the waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency, much of the world’s attention was focused on the violent storming of the US Capitol, and whether Trump might be removed from office a week or two early. But for Carole Baskin, the hippyish 60-year-old thrust into fame last year by the release of the seven-part docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness, there was a more pressing question afoot: whether Trump would issue a presidential pardon to Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka Joe Exotic), th

  • Why working from home risks making women vanish from the career ladder

    There is an old truism that there is no great loss without some small gain: the big loss of the pandemic was our freedom to meet people, to be together. But in work terms, the gain was finally fitting work around our lives, rather than our lives around the needs of work. For those with caring responsibilities, women particularly, it felt as if that mythical grail of ‘having it all’ might have arrived.

  • Inside the mind of a village busybody

    When I moved into a new house six months ago, Arthur (name changed for security purposes) who lives next door, popped around to ask whether I wanted to join the village Neighbourhood Watch. “Everyone looks out for each other around here,” he assured me. Every month, he emails a local police update (crimes tend to be along the lines of shop-lifting Mars Bars, but give me a thrill nonetheless). This community spirit instils the most extraordinary sense of security. Arthur and his all-seeing eye –

  • Malala: what will married life look like?

    “Today marks a precious day in my life. Asser and I tied the knot to be partners for life. We are excited to walk together for the journey ahead.” With these words, Malala Yousafzai, the 24-year-old women’s rights campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, stunned the world this week as she announced her marriage to Asser Malik, a Pakistani cricket executive.

  • All the things you really shouldn’t be doing in your 40s

    Ulrika Jonsson has this week been sharing details about her night on the tiles with her young adult daughter, owning up to various DRIs (drink-related injuries) and being kicked out of a club. All good fun and, yes, plenty of us – while questioning how it could ever be a good idea to show the world your DRI bruises – will have felt a twinge of recognition. (Some of us were practically the same age as Ulrika, 54, when we awoke the morning after a friend’s party in a super-king-size bed, fully clo

  • I ventured to a sex club – it was about as erotic as a trip to the fishmongers

    It’s been quite the week. I ventured to a sex club last Saturday night, where, to my relief, I found no signs of anyone having actual sex. The following day I was insulted on the dating app Bumble (the one where women are “in charge”). After 20 years an ex-boyfriend came out of the woodwork, which knocked me sideways. And to top it all off, a friend’s 50th turned into the kind of outrageous lunch that was just what the mood-doctor ordered.

  • ‘The war bumped me out of my sheltered life and made me feel more important than ever before’

    We came from a very military-minded family in Lancashire. Between the wars, my father was in the Territorial Army and a favourite game was called “bombing the Germans”: we’d throw stones into a quarry full of old metal contraptions – a direct hit would send up a tremendous clang! But what began as child’s play morphed into something altogether more serious with the outbreak of war. By the time I left school in 1942, my father, Colonel Carey Owtram, was already missing in the Far East and my sist

  • I'm 40 and single – is it too late to consider motherhood?

    I never wanted to be a mother. My relationship with my own mother was so chaotic, I worried I wouldn’t be any good at it. Equally, having mothered my little brother, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it again. Now, aged 40 and single, perhaps it’s too late to be reconsidering motherhood anyway.

  • 'I proposed to my partner at the age of 39 – and people still ask why he didn't do it first'

    Until my late 30s, I hadn’t given much thought to marriage. I wasn’t against the idea, but it didn’t feel important. I have been with my partner, Dan, for 11 years and we have three children together aged six, four and two. All the children have my partner’s second name and I assumed that one day he would pop the question – but, as the years passed, the opportunity never arose. I was 39 when I woke up one morning and simply decided to take matters into my own hands by asking Dan to marry me. Alt

  • The 18 months that changed our sex lives forever

    ‘And then we got to tell complete strangers what to do – they’d do whatever we wanted while we watched them.’ A single friend in her early 40s is telling me about a recent online orgy she attended. Think masks, a roulette wheel and a series of non-virtual acts shared virtually…