Crying on My Birthday

I wrote about crying on my birthday for Oh Comely magazine’s 50th edition. Below is an extract:

I turned 29 this year and, on my birthday, planned to meet my boyfriend in the William Morris Gallery. When he got there though, strolling in confidently I imagine, he couldn’t find me. I had arrived before him and had been crying in the toilet, looking at my wet, red face in the mirror. You’re allowed to do this on your birthday.

When we did meet, I was glad to see him, pleased not to be alone. He asked me what was wrong and I said it was to do with my hair looking stupid and my new dress flapping too much in the wind. Later, the wrapping paper he had used for my present flew out of my hand and down the road, hot pink against the grey, March day. We decided to chase after it.

Once as a child my mum shouted at me on my birthday and made me cry. I can’t remember the exact reason why, instead I recall the cake, a special one I had admired beforehand in Sainsbury’s, decorated with thick, pink icing and girly sweets, as well as her cross face at the top of the stairs, white against her black hair. Later she told me that she had lost her temper because I was about to go to my dad’s house and spend the rest of my birthday there. Either that or she didn’t tell me and I worked it out myself.

Buy the magazine here.

Letter to my Teenage Self


This letter was originally written for the LUNAR Project screening of films by Jennifer Reeder, THE YOUNG-GIRL IS NOT ALWAYS YOUNG, AND NOT ALWAYS A GIRL

Dear Cat Madden,

I’m sorry I’ve overlooked you for so many years, but I am close to the child, she is easier  to understand and I find you hard to pin down and embarrassing. I have wondered why you never learn to play the guitar, choosing instead to grow your nails long and paint their tips white with  a little pen you have read about in a magazine and buy from Boots.  I don’t know why you scrape your hair back like that and still fancy the boy who burnt your arm with a lighter. I hate those scraggly hair extensions that you click-in on the night you’re sick at a club opening your friend’s uncle took you to, after two drinks. He is annoyed, but later turns out to be a paedophile. That is your fault. And why do you just stand there smoking when the two men talk about how tight it would be if they fucked you in the arse? I suppose you do tut, and not to be underestimated is the excitement of a stranger wanting to fuck you.

I do things that you can only dream of on a lonely weekend: I have my clitoris licked, I sit under a duvet watching TV with somebody who loves me a lot. These things are more boring than you think.

I don’t think people think I’m as clever as you, and I’m not as well read in comparison to my peers. I don’t masturbate as successfully as you who have a free and easy mind, to spend all morning thinking about a woman with no personality touching me up in a shop’s changing room. Infeasible now when I feel guilty for not craving sex for weeks.

I don’t smoke any more. You started so that you wouldn’t look so young and that boys would like you.I don’t look old, but my tits are bigger.

I suppose you are just as pure as the sad little girl you tried to give the slip, just as vital, an overly optimistic oracle of un-tired sexuality. Come and sit with me and we can talk about things you’ve read, poetry by men, after all you are one of the mothers of my woman.