The Grey Cardigan: 22 June 2007

PING! The inbox bulges at the seams as yet another missive from an angry female arrives following my comments last week about pregnant weathergirls. Now I am not a misogynist, but if you want a row, ladies, then bring it on.

One Evening Beast employee – a senior editorial executive – recently threw her toys out of the pram (literally) and stomped off to an industrial tribunal claiming sex discrimination after a barney with The Brute, our despicable deputy editor. To be fair to the bastard, his offence was merely to suggest that the demands of new motherhood might be incompatible with the demands of running a hectic editorial department.

And he was right. But discrimination? You are joking, aren’t you?

Let me paint you a picture. As an enlightened employer, you willingly recruit bright young women. After all, they’re cleverer than the comparative blokes, they work harder and they’re more ambitious. They smell nicer and they’re easier on the eye. Especially the ones with big tits.

Up the ladder they climb, into senior management positions where they perform admirably. And then, and then… they hit 30 and ‘fall pregnant”. And that’s when the nappy hits the fan.

The minute that bit of fuzzy felt turns blue in the lavatories at Tesco, the enlightened editor who has always advocated the advancement of women becomes the enemy – an evil MAN who, in their eyes, is determined to do them down.

But look at it from the employer’s point of view. The key worker who was essential to their business has suddenly turned into Mother Earth. Her brain has turned to porridge. Her hormones run amok. The run-up to maternity leave is seen as unofficial holiday. If she doesn’t fancy coming in, she won’t. And what are you going to do about it, YOU MALE BASTARD?

It gets worse. Once the mewling infant has been delivered, we have the ordeal of the Office Visit. In sweeps the New Mother, treasured child in a £500 carbon fibre pushchair that looks like it has been built by Porsche. The barren, childless crones of the office gather around, making those noises that women do. The baby in question might well be boss-eyed, smelly and ginger, but the assembled company conveniently ignores that fact and gushes over the new-born brat as if it were painted by Caravaggio. And hadn’t just filled its nappy.

And then we have the defining moment. The New Mother, by now sagging in once otherwise pert places, desires to return to work. Fine, you think. It will be nice to have her back. But then the dead hand of legislation descends upon you.

‘I would like to come back to work,’she states, damp patches already leaking through her Mothercare-clad bosom, ‘but only for one day a week”.

One day a week? What kind of a newspaper are we running here? How can a news editor or a chief sub only come back for one day a week? But that’s the law, folks. You have to accommodate every wish of the New Mother, regardless of operating efficiency.

And then, even when you get your previous superstar back for one day a week, she’s utterly useless. Never mind the needs of the business – little Kylie had a sniffle this morning and the Albanian au pair doesn’t understand the directions on the Calpol bottle. Oh, and I won’t be in next Tuesday because it’s baby Pilates class.

And just as normality returns, and as your previously-valued employee begins to return to full efficiency… IT HAPPENS AGAIN. Child Number Two is on the horizon and the brain turns to porridge once again. At the company’s expense.

So a valuable asset, promoted on merit and in the spirit of equality, becomes a business-funded baby factory. I am led to believe that all women want is a level playing field. Well from the male point of view, the sooner the fucking better.

NOW HERE’S a funny thing. The combined police forces of Europe are combing their patches for missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann, yet according to the London-based News Shopper freesheet, it’s all a lot of fuss about nothing. The kid is alive and well and living in a plastic bag factory in a coastal town called Shohb in the Yemen. No, really.

We are indebted for this information to the News Shopper’s resident clairvoyant, Graham Dare (above on the online version), who further offers the information that local landmarks near her location include an old cannon and a large tent-like structure, and that Madeleine was taken away in a red 4×4 vehicle with a number plate including the letters F and H.

Quite what a reputable weekly newspaper is doing publishing this shite I don’t know, but I can assure you that if I ever bump into Mr Dare, he’ll come across an unexpected fist and two words beginning with F and C.

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