Coils, Circles and Conical Activity

Have you ever had the sort of friend who isn’t really your cup of tea and yet as much as you try desperately to shake them off, they stalk you with the same intensity as an unhinged basketball player who still wants your ball even though the game finished yesterday?

I have had more than one. Not sure why. Seem to attract them. When I was at school there was even a girl who used to bribe me with chocolate bars to be her friend. Which was difficult as I do truly love chocolate.

Question is, how do you get rid of an unwanted unhinged basketball player, whilst retaining a good degree of British niceness?

I had to deal with this very question about two weeks ago, when one of these old friends rolled up onto my doorstep. Her name is Ground-Eat-Me-Now-Oh-My-God-Did-I-Really-Do-That. As you can see, this friend’s parents went a bit mental on the whole hyphoned names/double barrel surname thing.

To make things easier I usually call the friend plain, simple Humiliation.


Sunday 18th, morning, post launch fail, Humiliation turned up. She burst through the backdoor as I slumped at the kitchen table, sulkily prodding my Rob Ryan book launch invite design.

“Hiya, it’s meeeee! I’ve come to stay for a few days,” she squealed, chucking her bags down by the fridge and giving me this massive, squeezy hug that practically had me vomiting on the bit of the flier that said “vintage tea tent”.

“Nice place,” Humiliation gushes, glancing around. She tottered into the front room. “Oooh, super sofas. Love the cat hair throw.”

Crushing my face into my hands I sink further onto the table. “What are you doing here? I’m terribly depressed after the launch fail. Need peace.”

Humiliation, who had now perched herself on the kitchen table, looked wounded. “But sweetie-pie, how can I leave you in peace? We have had so many wonderful times together.”

“Wonderful times?” Taken aback.

“Yes, some wonderful, shared times.”

“Like when?” Was so shocked was practically frozen to chair. “Name one.”

“Well,” pouted Humiliation, glancing up at the ceiling through her thick eyelashes. “How about that time when you and the Naughty N de-

Decided to glam up the school fundraising camp out by having a lavish picnic with lobster, crab, duck, champagne and Pimms.

The champagne and lobster mix must have had a strange effect on me because quite suddenly Glastonbury festival had been super imposed onto the school field and I was filled with love, butterflies and rainbows.

Basically – in the humble words of Naughty N – I got a bit over excited.

By the end of night I found self sitting at campfire with head teacher’s husband, chair of governors and a few other select members of the community, begging the guitar wielder to play Joni Mitchell “Circle Game.”

Have. You. Heard. This. Song?

If not, here is your opportunity …

I swear it’s not singable. Even when Joni Mitchell sings it, it makes me wince slightly.

That night, I murdered it.

Every verse.

Almost to the bitter end.

I say almost, because as I was happily getting to the final verse, a parent (doctor’s wife. Normally very serene. Obviously a little ticked off) poked her head out of a tent and hissed, “For God’s sake, shut up will you? We have kids trying to sleep here!”

And in the silence that followed it dawned on me that the entire playing field, with all those brooding silhouetted tents, actually contained parents, teachers and children who were pinned to their ground sheets, rigid and wide-eyed, while I OBLIVIOUSLY tortured them.

“I haven’t been able to listen to that song since,” I told Humiliation in a muffled voice.

“I know!” she beamed, clapping her hands like a small, tickled and oh-so-amused Victorian posh kid. “It was all so much fun!” She sighed, took out a little mirror from her handbag and started to check her make-up, whilst adding, “But not as much fun as the other thing.”

“Other thing?” I started to silently panic. “What could be worse than the Carousel song?”

“The coil,” replied Humiliation dryly. She snapped shut the pocket mirror. “Remember that coil incident?”

“Oh My God. No.” I groaned, shoulders sinking further down than is strictly humanly possible. “Not that bloody contracep-

Contraceptive devises can be like birds. They migrate. Sometimes they move out into the hemisphere of internal lady bits and need to be relocated. Sometimes they are effected by the gravitational pull of the earth and simply pop out.

When your little coil decides that it is migration season and you can’t get a doctors appointment, there is only one thing to do and that is to take yourself off to the Emergency Sexual Health Unit at the hospital.

This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t get lost and have to ask over ten people … “Psst, excuse me. Do you know where the Emergency Sexual Health Unit is please?”

By the tenth person your voice has gone so hoarse that it’s like you are drowning in humiliation soup, capable only of rasping “Sex-u-al health unit? Em-er-gen-cy! Em-er-gen-cy!”

This makes you look odd. On top of having an STD. Which you don’t.

It also makes you wonder why the hospital couldn’t call the clinic something other than the EMERGENCY sexual health unit. It makes you wonder why they couldn’t call it something nice? Like the Freshwater Ward? Or the Cupcake Clinic?

Anyway, as if getting lost and requiring directions wouldn’t be upsetting enough for someone with a migrating coil, imagine that you eventually get to the Emergency Sexual Health Unit and as you enter the strange atmosphere of shame, guilt, humiliation and bowed heads, you sit down and glance around to see …

Oh my.

Oh my, my, my.

Hot flush. Must fan face.

You sneak another peek.


Sitting right in front of you, burying their head in a National Geographic magazine is Someone You Know. Worse still, it’s NOT someone you know well enough to hiss in their ear, “I’ve got a migrating coil …. What have you got?” And then snort hysterically.


It’s someone you only know well enough to clear your voice slightly and trill, “Hello. Fancy seeing you here!”

The person looks up. They go red. You can practically hear the sirens blaring in their head. Their eyes scream, “ground eat me.”

But the ground does not swallow them. And it doesn’t swallow you.

So you sit there, making polite conversation, knowing that they are wondering what you have got and them knowing that you are wondering what they have got, whilst simultaneously wondering what they have got or if they simply have a migrating coil too.

You are so humiliated that you fight an urge to stand on your chair, prod yourself in the chest and declare, “I am INNOCENT! I have a migrating COIL! I do not have emergency sexual health problems!”

But you don’t. Your name is called and you creep off to The Room Of Doom.

“That was quite bad,” I said from the humid, darkness of my elbows against the kitchen table. 

“Yup,” Humiliation replied. Behind me she begins to study her nails and adds casually, “Sooo. Thought I’d hang around for about a week?”

In my kitchen table, elbow pillow I stayed very still. A horrible feeling of unease had crept through  me. Was realising that there are different categories of unwanted friends; those that bribe you with chocolate so they can hang around. And those we let in through some weird politeness, even though they suck our self worth and quietly undermine our confidence.

What to do with people/thoughts/feelings like that?

Do they even deserve British politeness?

I think not.

That Sunday you would have been very proud. I threw all British Politeness out of the window and instead leapt up from the table, grabbed all of Humiliations baggage and ran to back door, down the garden and bounced it all off the end of the large compost heap – into the Christian Holiday Retreat just below. Ha!

Feeling utterly elated, I slapped my hands together triumphantly and turned. Saw Humiliation standing at kitchen window, arms folded, looking livid. Yet when I got to the house she had vanished. Went and checked upstairs. Looked in the toilet. Looked everywhere. Humiliation was nowhere to be found. Went and sat on stairs and picked up a book that my friend Katy Woo recently lent me. Opened it up and read this little passage;

“The book also says that coping with difficult times is like being in a conical shell-shaped spiral and there is a point at each turn that is very painful and difficult. That is your particular problem or sore spot. When you are at the narrow, pointy end of the spiral you come back to that situation very often as the rotations are very small. As you go round, you will go through the troubled times less and less frequently but still you must come back to it, so you shouldn’t feel when it happens that you are back to square one.”

This seemed very apt and very fitting. It fitted in with the spirally Circle Game, by Joni Mitchell and it also is quite artfully tied in with my migrating coil. I know that me and Humiliation will come together again at some point in the future. When this happens depends largely on how far down the conical shaped spiral I am. But in the meantime, HA, I have turned the coily rotation and am now in the clear for a little while.

With that in mind I hurried back to the kicthen, put aside the Rob Ryan invite and took out a huge A1 sheet of blank card. Then proceeded to use all the children’s best felt tips to create a brand new, epic Goal Map about how to take the book into the world post launch. On the bottom of a Goal Map you always have a ladder of actions – little jobs that will atke you up to the main goal. My very, very, VERY first job was this:

Tell everyone who reads the blog that orders of Grow Your Own Gorgeousness can now be pre-ordered on Amazon by clicking HEEEEEEE-AAAAAAARRRRRREEE.