“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee.

Since the rumours of Gove’s most recent nail in the educational coffin began to surface on Twitter yesterday, I’ve been trying to translate my utter despair into written word, but my mind has continued to return to the above quote from the great novel at the centre of this story.

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How to be a Woman… apparantly.

As we shimmy into June, unsure as to whether we should be keeping emergency sun cream or brollies in our bags, it’s a little unnerving just how quickly the year is flying in.

It’s only June and the summer could already be over for all we know, Christmas is only round the corner!

Browsing over this year’s resolutions, it’s just as unnerving to realise how very little I’ve actually achieved so far in 2012. I have yet to stop biting my nails, get my driving licence or win the Euro millions.

I can’t even keep up with my Good Reads Challenge as I am rudely reminded every time I log in to update my ever-expanding ‘want to read’ list. Emma, it tells me, at your current pace, you’re three books behind if you want to reach your reading target for 2012.

Yes Good Reads, I say, I know, but you tell me how I can squeeze in any more books to my busy schedule of work, study and social life I’ll gladly take your advice.

At present, I have five novels and one collection of short stories on my bedside table – including Pride and Prejudice, which I am re-reading for the nth time at my leisure.

Of the books I have managed to finish so far this year, there is a clear front-runner for favourite, not only of the year, but of life.

Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ is not just a book, it’s a life lesson.

I implore every woman to read it, and have been passing it around my friends since finishing it in the space of a flight home – the Liverpool to Derry commute is about half an hour.

It’s a hilariously frank insight into Moran’s journey towards becoming a Woman, warts and all as they say. We are all women (or half of us at least) but becoming a Woman is something much greater.

I arrogantly thought I had become a Woman after graduating from university.

I had a degree, a flat that didn’t have the grimy charm of student-housing, I had two jobs, I was paying taxes, and making a grand attempt at being a “real person”. I was such a Woman!

Of course I wasn’t… you realise these things when you wake up with a bucket by your bed and patchy memories of a bottle of Baileys.

Because Women, with a capital W, do not jolt awake on a Saturday morning with a splitting, empty, head and a cement-mixer stomach. They don’t spend the rest of the day wallowing on the sofa eating giant bags of Heat Wave Doritos and groaning nonsensically.

Women come to life in a glorious bloom of sunshine, they slide out of bed and dance to the kitchen on tiptoe. They sit at a sun-bathed balcony table with a floral centre piece, reading the morning papers and drinking peppermint tea, pinky out.

I have so very far to go…

I am a 23-year-old woman who still cannot wear heels. I drink pints. I have footballer’s knees. My sneezes sound like volcanic explosions. And I have all the grace and elegance of a baby elephant on roller skates.

Not quite the awe-inspiring image of Women which grace the pages of our glossy magazines. And yes, I know, it’s all air-brushing and good lighting – this has nothing to do with body image – please, I’m a goddess!

It’s the seemingly effortless grace with which these women exist.

It doesn’t take air-brushing or make-up artists to make these Women beautiful or elegant – it’s a certain composure they have naturally which makes a pony-tail high maintenance or checked shirts sexy rather than lesbian chic.

I know these women exist without a team of fashion and beauty experts at hand before they leave the house, because I see them, every day! They parade past me in the morning, glamorous, driven, in control… while I yawn past them with bags under my eyes and an unbrushed mane.

Real Women are those fiercely elegant creatures who strut out of Tesco Express in heels and shades with a trendy shopper and a vintage satchel bag swinging on one arm, a coffee in the other.

I scutter along behind them, bent over and weighed down with awkwardly shaped bags, sweat already dripping from my brow, the top button of my shirt beginning to lose the battle against the cross-body strap of my bag.

Real Women seem to illuminate dance floors, the crowd parting to admire their beauty and poise while I, in the corner, demonstrate the Carlton Dance in high-tops, with a pint glass in hand.

I bet these Women have no problem squeezing another book into their busy schedules of work, study, social life and being generally fabulous.

How to be a Woman?

I’ve just about managed to paint my fingernails an inoffensive dusky pink colour without causing myself an injury –   I’m getting there. And it might help me stop biting my nails…