Instagram

I killed five succulents last year, yes those ‘impossible to kill’ succulents. I can be accused both of over loving, under loving and accidentally giving one gin…if they were children I would be locked up. But since they are plants I can just ashamedly put them in the bin and head to my local market for more. There is no register for serial succulent killers.

Quite why Lex and Aaron decided to ask me to plant sit while they were in Japan is beyond me. It is possible they didn’t know about the succulent massacre of 2017, but they have been in my flat enough times to see the ever revolving door of small green things, so they must have had an inkling. Despite their possible misgivings they left me in sole charge of Felicity the house plant for almost a month.

It all started off so fine. I watered Felicity the required amount every few days while whispering mantras of empowerment into her spiky leaves. I positioned her as close to the window as possible so that the weak winter sun could bring her joy. I even left audiobooks playing while I was at work, I know Lex and Aaron would want their little plant entertained (she really liked hearing about Stephen Fry’s adventures with cocaine in the 80’s).

But then a week ago, something weird started to happen. One day I bumped into Felicity as I was getting ready in the morning. She had been sitting near the window as per usual, but when I rounded the corner to go and put my makeup on she seemed to be a little further out from the wall than when I left her, causing me to jostle her as I went by. I didn’t think much of it, I put it down to the usual pre-coffee clumsiness. Oh how wrong I was, I wish I had known what was to befall me.

A couple of days later I was sitting at my computer, much as I am now (although I wasn’t shaking, heart racing in panic as I am now). I saw an airplane flying past my window and I started thinking about my upcoming trip to Florida with my parents. I was all excited thinking of the sunshine and laughter, when I glanced to my right and saw Felicity – staring right at me.

She won’t stop. Like a Weeping Angel, Felicity haunts me. Its fine when I’m at work and she can’t get me, but when I am back in my flat I can feel her watching. I never see her move, but she is always in a different spot every time I turn around. Could Felicity know about the succulents? Is she here to get retribution?

I don’t know what to do, I fear there are not many places to hide from a vengeful flamingo in a studio flat. Oh god, I can see her in the hallway now. Felicity is coming for me.

Lex, Aaron, what have you done?

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a panel show, asking where all the god damn women are. Call me crazy but I was under the impression that the earth was made up of 50% women. Actually I just checked the UK Office for National Statistics and the population of the UK is around 51% female. Which makes me beg the question…where the fuck are all the fucking women on the fucktrumpeting panel shows. I know you still have the Christmas wind in your hair, but I have come down from a roast potato and port high to a very cold reality (read, I have binged too much TV over the break). All the comedy panel shows that I know and love? Yeah, no such thing as gender equality where they are concerned.

Y’all know I love a spreadsheet, so I spent an evening hopped up on port transferring the guest listings from my favourite panel shows from Wikipedia to Excel. I know there are websites (like this one) that have already calculated the gender split, but I am a strong independent women and let’s be honest I didn’t think to google that until I was half way through. Besides, I got to use two of my favourite formulas for this (VLOOKUP and COUNTIF if you were wondering).

Anyway, my rules were to look at all shows, excluding Christmas compilations, from 2015 to present season (even when the shows were yet to air). I marked every host, regular and guest as either male or female (I recognise how problematic this is, but given the data I had and how much port I had consumed I had to work with what I was given). I decided to review this over a couple of years to try and give all the shows a fair chance. Statistically speaking if we had true equality then there would be some shows of all men, some of all women and the rest being a mix – however over time this would result in a 50-50 split between male and female. I figured that the longer period of time I could give them, the more likely we would hit on a normalised ratio. The reason I didn’t go back further, well, to be honest given the Weinstein revelations I consider anything pre-2015 the dark ages where all the ‘isms’ ran rampant.

The shows that I looked at (and I am sure you can read a lot into my mind from the shows included on this list) were:

  • Taskmaster
  • 8 out of 10 cats
  • Mock the Week
  • QI
  • Would I lie to you
  • Have I got news for you

Side note: these are the shows I got hooked on in my university semester abroad, and continued to watch through weird YouTube uploads from NZ. In my head they showed the broad minded and witty comedy that the UK was so good at. SPOILER: hence why I am so disappointed in the results.

Which brings me nicely onto the results. I split this in two ways, the first was including everyone that appeared on screen aka including the team captains and hosts. I thought this was possibly the most relevant since a) hosts are people too and b) the shows could always, oh I don’t know, employ people of the female persuasion in positions of power?

It is also interesting because in 2017 two of the shows included took that big step of trusting females with the buzzer and the cue cards; QI gave Sandi Toksvig the job of host (replacing Steven Fry) and 8 out of 10 cats gave Aisling Bea the job of team captain. Yes, you read that right, before 2017 LAST FUCKING YEAR there were no female hosts or team captains in the list. There is a reason my spreadsheet has the file name ‘RAGE’.

Sorry I need to calm down, I’m going to stop for a pastel de nata break (NB: if you learn nothing else from this blog post, try warming up a pastel de nata and throwing some cinnamon on top, it’s a game changer).

Right, tart consumed let me tell you of the second group. Being generous I figured that some hosts and team captains might be on long term contracts, making the gender balance of permanent roles hard to change. To allow for this I did a second take at the numbers but this time only looking at the guest spots, because even if a show has a male host and two male captains they could still have great representation of genders in the guests right? Right? RIGHT? SPOILER: The trash-fire shows are still trash-fires even when you take out the males hosts and captains

To make this easy I have divided the results into three categories:

  1. Mmm ok, but still need to try harder
  2. You will, I am sure, try to explain this away in a press release but we all know what is really going on
  3. Get in the fucking bin you sexist trash-fire

Mmm ok, but still need to try harder

Total people on screen Total guests
8 out of 10 cats Male 82 59% Male 42 52%
Female 58 41% Female 39 48%

 

Total people on screen Total guests
QI Male 154 64% Male 90 63%
Female 86 36% Female 53 37%

 

You will, I am sure, try to explain this away in a press release but we all know what is really going on

Total people on screen Total guests
Would I lie to you Male 151 80% Male 70 65%
Female 38 20% Female 38 35%
               
Total people on screen Total guests
HIGNFY Male 222 78% Male 108 63%
Female 63 22% Female 63 37%

 

Get in the fucking bin you sexist trash-fire

Total people on screen Total guests
Taskmaster Male 28 80% Male 18 72%
Female 7 20% Female 7 28%

 

Total people on screen Total guests
Mock the week Male 195 84% Male 121 77%
Female 36 16% Female 36 23%

Pissed off yet? Worst in this unbelievable line up is Mock the Week with a resounding 84% male presence on the screen in the last two years, only improving fractionally to 77% when you take out the hosts and regulars. To put this in context, in the last two years Mock the Week has had 31 appearances of guys called Ed. 31 Eds and 36 females. Forgive me for thinking equality isn’t high on the agenda for those funny, funny guys.

What I hate more than anything is that what I looked at was one form of representation, male vs female. However if you were to do this same experiment with race or disabilities as factors then the results would be dire (and if you want to do this, I can send you my spreadsheet). The format for representation on panel shows seems to be one white girl and one black guy amongst the sea of white men. This leaves almost no space at all for women of colour, any disabilities or anything else that might veer slightly away from TV ‘norm’. We all deserve to see our faces represented on TV, and it makes for far more interesting content.

It is a bullshit excuse that ‘there are no funny women’ or ‘the list of comedians to pick from is majority men, it’s not our fault’ – if a show named after a fucking cat food advert can get close to 50-50 then so can a topical news show. And if you are really stuck for people then check out this thing called ‘social media’, the music industry has been discovering talent on there for years.

I’m both angry and disappointed in the results of this, and excel usually brings me such joy. I don’t think that equal representation is too much to ask, particularly given the current political climate. I really don’t care how complicated the producers (side note, I would love to do this again but with the producers and writers who make the shows, my guess is they follow similar gender splits) say it is. DO BETTER.

If you have seen me in the last week I will have told you the story of Baileys. More specifically I would have run up to you like an overexcited Pomeranian and forced you to sit as I regaled you with the tale of the Irish cream. This amazing story of tax, Soho and cream has captured my imagination like no other.

It all started when I decided to crack the Baileys out of the cupboard and toast the impending Christmas season. Yes the Baileys was three years old, and yes drinking Baileys by yourself on a Tuesday night might be considered sad, but…actually I don’t have a but here, it is both sad and questionable behaviour. Feel free to stage an intervention any time now. I happened to look at the bottle after a couple of sips and noticed that the ingredients were ‘whiskey and cream’. It really shocked me, I’m not sure what I thought Baileys was made of, but whiskey and cream were not it. I did what any millennial in winter does, I took to Instagram Stories to broadcast my amazement and ask if it could possibly be true. (Side note, to experience such ground-breaking revelations in real time you can follow me here: @therunawaykiwi ).

What I got back was a resounding confirmation, yes Baileys was just whiskey and cream. However the answers started me down a rabbit hole of the origins of Baileys. And boy oh boy it’s a good one. In the late 60’s there was a company that was looking for products that could be exported from Ireland because there was a great tax break in the offing. Two guys in Soho (yes, the London Soho) thought they would have a crack at it. They went down to the corner store and grabbed the products that could be vaguely considered Irish and mixed them together. It tasted questionable at best, so they added sugar and Baileys was born. Not exactly the traditional Irish creation I pictured. As for the name, even that was a uniquely London affair, they named it after Baileys Bistro the restaurant that was underneath their office.

All of which brought me to this blog post. I never thought product creation was so simple, and if two guys in Soho can make their millions from a cream concoction then surely I can do the same. Time for the experiment, if successful I might be onto a multi-million dollar idea, if un-successful then I would be full of curdled cream and various spirits on a Tuesday night…seriously that intervention is welcomed any day now.

Chambord and Cream

Hypothesis: Strawberries and cream is a common combination right? So raspberries (that’s what Chambord is???) and cream must be palatable at the very least.

Result: This is a solid 8/10 winner. It was one of only two that I finished off and didn’t spit take over my carpet. It is super sweet and would taste great over ice cream or for that matter as ice cream – can someone with an ice cream maker please create this for me? For some reason it tastes quite floral, which is going to be excellent when it comes to logo design (I’m thinking getting hipsters tattooed with flowers as part of the launch event). I did write in my notes that “kids would love it”, but given the alcohol content that might not be the best idea. Only an 8/10 because turns out small shots of cream are inherently gross.

Mulled Wine and Cream

Hypothesis: This could be the Christmas hit for 2018, it would be the best parts of Christmas in a single sip. I’m hoping for a rich spicy flavour that will allow you to be buzzed all day.

Result: Oh god 1/10. Mulled wine and cream might be the work of the devil, it tastes curdled even as you’re drinking it. It’s like a child has accidentally dropped an open bottle of mulled wine in the bath and then you had to drink it (PSA: Don’t give children mulled wine in the bath, or any wine for that matter). If you want to get a taste for this horror just add some balsamic vinegar and a cinnamon stick to your morning cup of tea and try not to vomit. In some weird quirk of science, the mulled flavour is completely missing in the shot.

Malibu and Cream

Hypothesis: Coconut is the 2017 opiate of the masses, and apparently you can put it on or in anything and it makes it instantly healthy. I’m sure this one is going to be drinkable at least.

Result: Another 8/10! This is delicious if you like fake coconut flavour in your dessert. It does taste a little like you are drinking a suntan lotion but I can see how this would completely work with a pineapple based dessert. Although as I learned from a close friend, if you had questionable experiences in a club in the early 2000’s then avoid this at all costs, this is your Malibu trigger warning.

Hendrick’s and Cream

Hypothesis: Of all the gins in my collection (its getting rather extensive, I must do a post on it soon) I chose Hendrick’s because I thought the mellow rose and cucumber flavours would complement the cream perfectly, like a fancy panna cotta.

Result: This must never be repeated 1/10. Turns out when you mix cream and alcohol together it enhances the strength of the alcohol flavour, in this case it means all you can taste is pretty much straight vodka (yes I know it is gin, but this combination did weird things to me and all I got was vodka). You do get a token aftertaste of either rose or your grandmother’s perfume, but mostly it just tastes like you are licking an aggressive seal who is Instagram famous. Of all the experiments this is the one that I could still taste years later prickling my tongue, haunting not only me but future generations.

Rum and Cream

Hypothesis: I mean, Waitrose sells Brandy Cream at Christmas, and this is pretty much the same thing right (look I know about gin ok, but the amber spirits go over my head). Regardless there is a lot of rum in desserts so this must be ok.

Result: Not too shabby 6/10. If you like pudding but get weird over carbs then this shot cuts right to the good bits. Highly recommended, quite smoky with hints of caramel, it almost tastes like a pirate you know on Facebook got stuck in a dairy while looking for loot and you ‘liked’ his ironic post about it. I might be quite drunk now.

Sloe gin and Cream

Hypothesis: Sloe gin has the berry rich flavours that worked so well with the Chambord, so this could be the gin redemption tour as part of this experiment.

Result: Gin is going to be banned from all future experiments 1/10. I would say this is the worst, but we were all there for the Hendrick’s rumble. Thankfully it pretty much curdled as soon as the sloe looked at the cream so you don’t have to worry about your stomach doing any of the work. Just like the normal gin the alcohol flavour of this is hugely enhanced which means you get rid of all the richness of the sloe and are left with the devils saliva. Not a fan.

Final comments

Well…I’m now drunk and full of cream. My dreams of being the next Baileys millionaire is literally circling the drain. If I have learned anything from today (and from most of 2017 to be honest) it’s that we should not try to emulate the ideas of the late 60’s. I’m going to have a sleep now.

This year felt like the year I put my life on hold, it moved both at a snails pace and also in the blink of an eye. So I thought it was time to get my planning on for 2018, and since all the cool kids are writing bucket lists I thought I would jump on the bucket-wagon. Without further ado I give you my 2018 bucket list.

Classic red bucket

You can’t go past a classic. This is the bucket of my childhood, perfect for washing clothes on camping trips, throwing up in when sick and of course holding miscellaneous pegs. I was surprised you could still get these to be honest, I thought they would come with wifi now.

Harrods bucket

Sometimes I think we are all equal, then I find Harrods selling a £400 silver plated ice bucket. It’s not that I begrudge anyone a £400 silver plated ice bucket it’s just I can’t help but wonder what it feels like to be the person to receive it as a Christmas present. Surely it would have to be the main present (I question the world if it is a stocking stuffer), but what does it say when your friends/family get you a bucket for Christmas?

Galvanised Pail

This is the one that we think of as an ‘olden days’ bucket, you know the ones you see in the barn weddings on Pinterest. Although by the reviews maybe the olden days weren’t so good “No good whatsoever”, “BEWARE”, “I am annoyed that the bucket is not as described”.

Collapsible buckets

These are the buckets of the future, the buckets we could only dream of: a bucket that collapses! I can only imagine these are for that oft hoped for situation when the local gin distillery explodes and you have seconds to grab your collapsible bucket from your handbag and collect drops of ambrosia from the sky.

Skull ice bucket

If you are a goth being forced into a silver and white Christmas theme by your family then this is the solution you have been looking for. I vote for adding a couple of ice cubes made entirely of red food colouring, so that as it all starts to melt it looks like it’s bleeding. I’m totally normal I swear.

There are not many brands that I have an emotional connection with. I mean, my love for Excel knows no bounds, but aside from that my relationship with brands tends to be a lot more transactional. PANDORA however, PANDORA is the exception. You may know it as the Danish jewellery brand making memory filled charm bracelets, but for me it is what set me on my current career path years before I knew it.

Throughout university I worked at a jewellery store, three years of lectures in the morning and diamonds in the afternoon. It was a great introduction to working life …as working with customers often is. I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can always describe something hopelessly ugly as ‘unique’ when someone asks (and you don’t want to lose the sale) and most importantly that sapphires come in many colours but ‘ruby’ is the only sapphire to have its own name because it was prized in India.

About a year into my time selling jewellery we got PANDORA in the store. I think we were one of the first stores in NZ to be a reseller so it was a big deal. I loved selling it because you heard such incredible stories of love, achievement and hope as customers picked out their charms. My favourite was a guy who filled an entire bracelet for his wife of 50 years, with each charm representing an important milestone in their relationship. So many stories, so many tears.

So how did selling PANDORA predict my future career? For those who don’t know, after going down a few wrong paths I have ended up as a business analyst. It is the perfect job in my eyes; I deal with fixing processes, creatively expressing data and making businesses work more efficiently. I freakin love it.

The problem that we had back in the jewellery store was that PANDORA had literally hundreds of different charms, rings, earrings and bracelets. When we first got them we kept all the beads in little bags in a big plastic box. It was a nightmare to find the one specific charm full of meaning you were after in a sea of plastic bags. The situation was even more of a nightmare when it came to ordering the charms, there was no easy way of knowing what stock levels were like (we were all manual back in the day with handwritten receipts and everything, no computers to do the thinking for you).

Being the manager on a very quiet Sunday I took this and designed a stocktaking system. Looking back it is really adorable, laminated pages and whiteboard markers, but at the time it made life easier and we used it until the store got a computer system. This little system was my first taste at improving business processes, a job that I now own and love. PANDORA will always own a warm fuzzy place in my heart for giving me a taste of my future years before I understood the importance and joy of a VLOOKUP.

But why am I blogging about them now? PANDORA have just announced their collaboration with Disney, something that customers were asking for all those years ago in little old New Zealand. There is a new range of charms celebrating the castle, the carriage, the characters and the magic that is Disney. I am actually heading to Disneyworld next year, so this partnership is just all kinds of amazing. PANDORA invited me to a Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea to celebrate the launch, and I can’t say how grateful I am to be given this beautiful walk down memory lane.