Perimenopause, HRT, Sexual Harassment, Misogynistic Abuse from Peter Hitchens? Who’d be Female? Also, a Lemon Cake.
Sexual harassment stuff – beyond depressing. And it is complicated by the fact that my generation grew up watching Benny Hill and The Generation Game. Women with their tits half out giggling while men in suits made lewd comments. I remember feeling confused about it. Wondering how I was going to manage to be like Anthea Redfern at the same time as liking books. I had goofy teeth, was skinny and anxious, I wet my bed until I was 11. How was I ever going to get men to fancy me (clearly the be all and end all of life). All the men I knew, led by my father, made it very clear that women and girls needed to be “cute” and sexy and were otherwise to be derided. But, hey, I got my teeth fixed and both my parents were hot so I turned out hot too. Turned out I could look like someone half-naked on telly and read books. Who knew? So, by the time I got to work I was wearing short skirts and hoping to be fancied by men in the office – it was at least half of my worth, I thought (brainwashed bitch that I was). Probably more. I didn’t want to be assaulted or touched, obviously (though I was both – not in the office), but I did think I was supposed to be sexy. The whole fucking culture was and is sick. And, men? Seriously, fuck off.
Peter Hitchens (poppet) wrote a sweet piece in the Mail about how women shouldn’t “squawk” about sexual harassment in case they end up even more oppressed and wearing the hijab. Twitter went nuts. I joined in. But, of course, he’s asked to say offensive shit. If people like him and Katie Hopkins write offensive shit, we all talk about it, they get more page views and, therefore, more advertising. If he wasn’t a dick they’d sack him and hire someone who is.
The menopause (or perimenopause to be more accurate) has dominated my life and health since I was about 43. Apparently I’m still years away from the actual thing, but who cares because the symptoms of it not quite happening yet have been horrific (Sweating at night so much I have to change the sheets every day, a horrible smell and so much blood loss I go blue, and I also have other nasty stuff – endemetriosis and adhesions and general hell that means the hysterectomy I still might have comes with a 5% of them piercing my bowel…). So, I had a hideous and terrifying (but, actually, fine) injection that brings on the menopause and then went on add back HRT. Not taking progesterone, as I’ve been doing in some form or other for about five years, is fantastic. The puffiness that was making me look pregnant went down immediately and I look normal again thank fucking God. No sweating, got my own smell back (never noticed it until it had gone). I can’t drink because I’m also on high blood pressure meds and am now officially the cleanest-living person in the world. Not so much as a Pringle. And every time I tell someone female about this they tell me all their awful stories – so angry and weepy, ruining clothes with sudden blood loss (I’ve thrown so many pairs of jeans away), scary scans, can’t remember anyone’s name, operations, drugs, toughing it out. All these stories told in a whisper.
I was sitting next to an old man at a dinner. He was famous and fun and the woman on his other side was great too. Afterwards I said to her: “We had such a fun corner!” She said: “Ooh, doesn’t he have piercing eyes. Quite sexy.” I was shocked. “No,” I said. Later I took my shoes off walking through the foyer and told her they don’t fit because I’m all swollen on norethisterone (the progesterone I’ve now stopped). She told me her menopause was horrific but the HRT she’s on and loves makes her really randy (her word). “I think that’s why I said that about his eyes. It’s quite an unsettling side effect.” We laughed and went off to find our cars. But there is this wierd bonding, camaraderie that you wouldn’t get talking about a bad back and the treatments you might be having. We don’t like talking about it in public because we want to pretend we’re still young and sexy as per the above (otherwise we are worthless and shit, right?) and not weeping in pain and a supermarket toilet (zeugma there) over a terrifying lake of blood like I was doing half an hour ago. Outside again, sitting in the car in the rain, just felt very old and lonely and nothing at all like Anthea Redfern. Well, the Anthea of fantasy anyway. In reality, of course, she’ll have been through her own hell with misogynistic wankers and menopause. Obviously.
I feel like I want to put a lemon cake recipe here but it seems inappropriate….Oh, but it was delicious. It’s a Honey and Co. recipe as usual. You caramelise sliced lemons with sugar, saffron and turmeric so they go really, really yellow. Then you make a lemon and almond cake mix. Line the tin with parchment paper and then the lemons, pour in the cake mixture. When you turn it out it looks like the photo above. Tip over the rest of the syrup. It’s just amazing.
- 3 or 4 lemons
- Enough water to cover the lemon slices plus 400ml water for syrup
- 250g sugar
- A pinch of turmeric
- A big pinch of saffron
- 140g semolina flour
- 3 tbs plain flour
- 1/2 tspn baking powder
- 200g butter
- 270g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 200g ground almonds
- A pinch of turmeric
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ F/ 175˚C/ Gas mark 4.
- Butter and line a cake tin.
- Slice lemons, cover with water and boil.
- Add sugar, turmeric and saffron and make a syrup for the lemons.
- Arrange the lemon slices around the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Save syrup.
- Blend all the ingredients together and pour the mixture into your cake tin already lined with lemon slices.
- Cook until it’s golden brown and not wobbly. Don’t forget a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to keep it moist. Cook for ages on a low heat. Keep checking.
- Turn out. Gawp. Eat.
Talk to me about your menopause and anything else that troubles you. Therapy via Skype or email: firstname.lastname@example.org