Sarah Standing

The ‘bovver birds’ are back

Sarah Standing’s daughter was attacked by a girl gang — but it wasn’t an isolated incident. Female thugs, of the sort who ran riot in the 1970s, are roaming the streets again It was a beautiful balmy evening when my youngest daughter finished school last summer. The A-level results had just arrived, and she was

Standing Room | 19 September 2009

Flying out of JFK on 11 September was a sombre experience. As I checked out of my hotel the concierge dropped his daily niceties as a mark of respect, and instead gently urged me to ‘have a thoughtful day’. The handful of star-spangled banners that lined Madison Avenue flapped at half-mast and the skies opened

Standing Room | 12 September 2009

Having made an ambitious campaign pledge and staked his domestic credibility on the promise to radically reform and restructure the health insurance industry, Barack Obama has been forced to endure a sticky summer of sliding poll ratings and sustained Republican attacks. One gets the impression that even die-hard Democrats are slightly ‘over’ their initial enthusiasm

Standing Room | 5 September 2009

Louis Armstrong singing the Gershwins’ ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ only touched the tip of the iceberg. Potato — potahto, tomato — tomahto; for two countries ostensibly sharing the same language, England and America have deeper cultural disparities than merely amusing colloquialisms, and never is this discrepancy more apparent than in the naming of

Standing Room | 29 August 2009

A new twist on an old favourite. Question: How many ministers/blondes/psychiatrists (feel free to fill in the social stereotype of your choice) does it take to change an old-fashioned 100-watt light bulb? Answer: None. From 1 September the joke will have become redundant due to the fact there won’t be any traditional light bulbs left

Breast is barred

Truth is indeed often stranger than fiction. It appears Big Brother is not just watching our every move but has also infiltrated our bodies. Speaking to a cranial surgeon over the weekend, I was fascinated to discover that most of our replaced, repaired or “surgically-enhanced” body parts are now bar-coded and given serial numbers –

Standing Room | 22 August 2009

The Borat-ish ‘burkini’ edict that’s currently causing ripples of concern in a handful of council-run leisure centres is undoubtedly going to provide a lot of challenging design opportunities for fashionistas. Officials are attempting to bar both Muslim and non-Muslim swimmers from entering pools in normal swimming attire during certain sessions unless they comply with strict

Standing Room | 15 August 2009

Oh dear. Nearly 80 years ago Dorothy Parker wrote a bleak poem entitled ‘Resume’. Back then she must have thought she’d been fairly comprehensive in covering all possible self-inflicted exit routes. Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as

Standing Room | 8 August 2009

‘Last chance for Krakow. Krakow only. Sir, I am not interested in Belfast. When I DECIDE to be interested in Belfast I will inform you. Until then wait your turn and rejoin the queue. Step aside Madam, if you will.’ Robert pointed to a woman with two small children. ‘You’re not listening. I am aware

Standing Room | 1 August 2009

How nice all our daily lives used to be before millions of David Brent wannabes saw fit to take the mother of all executive decisions and irrevocably tip the scales of justice away from our grasp. Hard to remember, but there was a time when authoritarians were still occasionally allowed to make ‘exceptions’ to the

The swine flu panic will turn into a national sickie

First, the good news. And we all need good news. According to the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, the UK is no longer at a ‘critical’ level of threat from a terrorist attack. We’ve been downgraded to a ‘substantial’ level of alert against al-Qa’eda or other extremist groups. So we’ve gone from a ‘touch-and-go’, worst-case scenario

Standing Room | 18 July 2009

All right, so perhaps I was a mite distracted. I was busy stirring a beetroot risotto, the television was on in the background, I had the telephone tucked under my chin and was also trying to figure out the solution to 11 down in the crossword (‘desire returns to writer covering S&M, spellbound’ in ten

Standing Room | 11 July 2009

I’ve been reprimanded three times this week for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ — issued with a trio of verbal ‘warnings’. I’ve been reprimanded three times this week for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ — issued with a trio of verbal ‘warnings’. None were handed out by law-enforcers — all came from members of the public. Random do-gooders. Total strangers have

Standing Room | 4 July 2009

When I was young, being given ‘options’ was a treat. When I was young, being given ‘options’ was a treat. It felt empowering — as though I were in complete control of my destiny. ‘Do you want to play Monopoly or Careers?’ ‘You have a choice — a Zoom or a Fab, what will it be?’ ‘If

Standing Room | 27 June 2009

Logging on to a university homepage I noticed that the first thing it flags up — breaking news — is that they’re installing a £56,000 digital satellite TV system which will ‘transform’ the way students access multilingual news and information from around the world. Apparently the purchase of Exterity IPTV represents the Language Centre’s biggest-ever

Standing Room | 20 June 2009

I have the fear. The fear wakes me up at 3 a.m. and for a split second I forget what it is exactly that I’m frightened of. And then I remember. I am a mother and one of my children is off travelling and is on the other side of the world. In the still

Standing Room | 6 June 2009

It’s always the smallest thing that tips one over the edge. It’s always the smallest thing that tips one over the edge. This week I cracked. I sat on the pavement outside King Edward VII’s hospital and shamelessly sobbed. My husband was ill with septicaemia, and I was desperate to get to him. I was

Standing Room | 30 May 2009

When I was younger (old habits obviously die hard and you have to forgive me for not automatically writing ‘when I was young’ — it’s just going to take a bit more practice), I used to find a particular greeting card amusing. It was a cartoon of a demented-looking career woman. She had one hand clutching

Standing Room | 23 May 2009

I am not one of those who believe that God made the highways solely in order for motorists to inherit the earth. But any milk of human kindness flowing through my veins curdles when I am driving on the Embankment during the early morning rush hour. I have to make the big sacrifice of not

Standing Room | 16 May 2009

Ideally I only ever want to come across the word ‘system’ when it’s used by an astronaut and sandwiched between ‘all’ and ‘go’. Ideally I only ever want to come across the word ‘system’ when it’s used by an astronaut and sandwiched between ‘all’ and ‘go’. ‘All systems go!’ has a chirpy, optimistic feel. Eliminate