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My love for my family is etched on my back

You’re looking rather pale,” my sister noted helpfully, some time into my first tattoo. “I think you’d better breathe.” This was useful advice, as I had been holding my breath for 10 minutes. Teeth clenched against the pain, I felt pretty odd as the artist applied my sister’s design, drawn to celebrate our bond, and tattooed in the same spot on each of our shoulders. My little sister had rejected the opportunity to join in with some disdain. “I’ve never seen a tattoo I like,” she declared. But surely that’s the point. Brought to these shores from the South Pacific by 17th-century sailors, tattoos are highly personal pieces of body art that are often difficult to explain to dissenters (sorry, Mum), although since the days of my first tattoo, fashion and celebrity have made them increasingly common.

The Guardian, 17 January 2009

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Granny’s in the glove box

Giving my friend Dominic a lift the other day, there was a moment of high drama as he prised open the overflowing glove compartment to find the A-Z. “Watch out!” my four-year-old shouted, “Great-Granny’s in there!” Once Dominic had ascertained this wasn’t just my son’s idea of a bad joke, he quickly shut it again, looking faintly appalled. And it did suddenly sound rather peculiar, even to me, as I attempted to explain that, yes, my grandmother’s ashes were riding up front with us, but sort of inadvertently – and mainly because I had begun to feel she brought me luck …

The Guardian, Saturday 8 November 2008

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A bumpy ride

Like a lot of people, I reckoned – when I got to 30 – that it was time for kids. My husband and I fancied the pitter patter of tiny feet, and we weren’t thinking the feline kind ….

The Guardian, London, 22 June 2005

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Health: happy pills

It’s scary how quickly life can change. One summer’s afternoon a few years ago, I idly answered my office phone. Flatly, succinctly, a voice told me …

The Independent, London, 25 January 2005

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What really bugged me

Imagine a ferocious mosquito bite and multiply it by 10. Suppose the itch never abates, no matter how hard you scratch. There is no relief on hand and no one knows the cause. Your doctor cannot see anything, and hints that you are imagining it. You wonder if you are going mad, but still you scratch – so hard that you are covered in fingernail marks. You are now a little closer to understanding the nightmare that is undiagnosed scabies ….

The Guardian, London, 18 April 2002

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Usual rules suspended

We ran into the toilet and I took her against the wall, whilst the fairy lights bobbed outside the window and tinsel fell from her hair.” Tales of lust abound at this time of year. There’s real…

The Independent, London, 20 December 1998

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Real Living: Can’t let you go, babe

The week after I split up with William, I called round to see my best friend. She came to the door flushed and quite obviously hiding something from …

The Independent, London, 13 December 1998

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Mummy’s little darlings

Friday morning, 7.45am. As the nation wakes, Denise claps scarlet- tipped fingers and squawks in an Essex kind of way while Johnny introduces this week’s “Pushy Mum” for The Big Breakfast.

The Independent, London, 29 November 1998

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Real living: What makes these men so attractive?

“MONEY can’t buy you love” went the song – but there was no mention of pretty young girlfriends. Rupert Murdoch has a new one of these. We all know …

The Independent, London, 11 October 1998

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Getting away with it

One stained dress and a secretary’s midnight raid – sordid evidence in what will be remembered as the most famous office affair of all time. Silly …

The Independent, London, 4 October 1998

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Such devoted sisters?

“SISTERS ARE doing it for themselves,” sang Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin a while back, metaphoric soul sisters. In the Winslet sisters’ case, the …

The Independent, London, 26 April 1998

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