MORANTHOLOGY The very best of Caitlin Moran – in the first ever collection of her writing
‘In HOW TO BE A WOMAN, I was limited to a single topic: women. Their hair, their shoes and their crushes on Aslan from The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (which I KNOW to be universal).
‘However! In my new book MORANTHOLOGY – as the title suggests – I am set free to tackle THE REST OF THE WORLD: Ghostbusters, Twitter, caffeine, panic attacks, Michael Jackson’s memorial service, being a middle-class marijuana addict, Doctor Who, binge-drinking, Downton Abbey, pandas, my own tragically early death, and my repeated failure to get anyone to adopt the nickname I have chosen for myself: ‘Puffin’.
‘I go to a sex-club with Lady Gaga, cry on Paul McCartney’s guitar, get drunk with Kylie, appear on Richard & Judy as a gnome, climb into the TARDIS, sniff Sherlock Holmes’s pillows at 221b Baker Street, write Amy Winehouse’s obituary, turn up late to Downing Street for Gordon Brown, and am rudely snubbed at a garden party by David Cameron –although that’s probably because I called him ‘A C3PO made of ham’. Fair enough.
‘And, in my spare time – between hangovers -
I rant about the welfare state, library closures and poverty; like a shit Dickens or Orwell, but with tits.’
And here for your reading pleasure is a little extract
I REFUSE TO MAKE YOU PARTY BAGS.
LEAVE BEFORE I SUMMON A POLICEMAN
I am not a curmudgeon when it comes to my children’s birthdays. Not
at all. I make them a card, I make them a cake. Let’s cut to the chase – I
made them. I am a birthday originator. If it weren’t for me, they’d just be
card-less, cake-less, aimless sperm.
But whilst there is no end to the amount of delight I am prepared to
shoehorn into my daughters’ big days, I do draw the line at one thing:
party-bags. I find party-bags unconscionable. I will not hand them out.
I think they are the symbol of a decadent and corrupt regime. There is
no logical reason why they ever have come into existence, or why we – as
reasoning, sane people – should continue to support them.
In the sixteen, peaceful years my husband and I have had together,
there are only two subjects on which we come to blows. The first is over
his repeated, intolerable desire to own an oven glove – MAN UP AND
USE A FOLDED TOWEL. YOU DON’T NEED SOME MANNER OF
PAMPER MITTEN TO GET A TRAY OF OVEN CHIPS OUT, YOU
And the second is party-bags. Twice a year, it is the same argument.
Him: ‘Party tomorrow. Better get the party-bags ready.’
Me, reasonably: ‘Pete, as those children leave, they will already HAVE
a party-bag. The bag is their own heads – and the gifts inside are the
memories of a great day, spent violating a balloon-animal man.’
Him, not listening at all: ‘I don’t want to put the same things in it this
year as I did last year. Last year I did mini Rubik’s cubes. It’s got to be
This desire for ‘unending bag surprise’ has led my husband down some
unexpected party-bag alleyways. Last year, he made every single kid at
Lizzie’s ninth birthday a compilation-CD of songs he thought they’d like.
We never got any feedback on the ninety minutes of the ‘more accessible’
works of Stackridge, Kraftwerk and psychedelic folk-jazz titans Pentangle
– possibly because kids these days have everything on MP3, instead. They
must have been intrigued by the odd rainbow drinks-coaster in their bag.
Perhaps they thought it was a duff pirate BlueRay of Avatar.
Pete’s problem is that he is essentially a good man, trying to make
sense of a bad system – but he should never have been pushed into the
invidious position of trying to get nine-year-old children into psychefolk
in the first place. Why on earth would a child attending a party
receive, essentially, a gratuity? It’s like we’re tipping them on the way
out of the door.
Let me make this clear: I am not thanking them for coming. I’ve just
laid on three hours of food, amusement and tolerance in the face of Alfie
taking over the disabled toilet at Pizza Express, and using it as his own
private office-cum-hangout, much in the manner of the Fonz conducting
his ‘business’ from his favourite booth at Al’s Diner. I have also had
to deal with Emily, who has explained her attitude to pizza thus: ‘I don’t
have the pizzas with tomato sauce, or cheese, on. Not those.’
The message I have, to 24 departing children, is not ‘Here is your
treasure-bag. I am grateful for this special time with you’. It is, ‘You’ve
had your fun – now sling your hook, sunshine, before I summon a police
I don’t believe in children’s party-bags in the same way I don’t believe
in ‘the Gifting Room’ at awards ceremonies. People rocking up at the
Oscars don’t need to be taken into a room full of high-end consumer
durables and/or ‘pamperment experiences’.
By the time you’re walking down a red carpet, a kilo heavier from all
the diamonds, all your life is basically one big gift. You know – Mariah
Carey’s had a great day. She’s got out of the house, worn a nice frock, had
a conversation with John Travolta she probably didn’t understand, and
now she’s going home again. She doesn’t need a Diamonique-covered
Magimix and some spa vouchers to sweeten the deal.
And yet this pointless giving of gifts continues, unstopped. Parents are
brought to the edge of despair by it. You see them, the day before a party,
wandering around shops with that ‘party-bag look’ in their eye.
‘I just need a collection of stuff that comes to no more than £2 per
child,’ their posture is saying. ‘It honestly could be anything. I will put
an apple, a box of tacks and a copy of the Express in there if I have to. I
just need a quantity of stuff to weigh a child’s hand down as it goes out
of the door.’
The honest, untrammelled reaction of a child, meanwhile, reminds
you of the pointlessness of the whole thing.
‘Oh,’ they say, looking inside the bag. ‘This rubber is all covered in
And then they throw the whole lot in the bin.
I have to read this book! I finished “how to be a woman” just minutes ago and I crave more of your brilliant words to lighten up my day.
I love you Caitlin Moran.
I’m feeling very bereft. I have just finished Moranthology and now have no Caitlin to make me privately snort with laughter or give me material to happily recount to friends and colleagues with a relit feminist gleam in my eye. I’ll miss you till your next book – don’t be too long!
I bought this after becoming obsessed with how to be a woman. Started reading this as my holiday book, laughing my arse off, sat by a pool drinking cocktails. Awesome
I purchased “How To Be A Woman” after watching an interview with Caitlin on ABC down here in Australia, simply because I was convinced I could listen to her talk about absolutely anything at all and think it was fascinating. And I was proven correct! However there was the small issue of the ostensibly disaproving looks I got on the train while sporting such a book. This now solves the problem! Couldn’t put it down, this is pure gold-plated brilliance!
Yes! Yes! YES!!!