One of the most chilling aspects for me about the tragic death of 23-year-old backpacker Catherine Shaw in Guatemala recently is that it’s already barely registering as news.
Because ‘woman dies while travelling’ isn’t really a huge surprise, is it? Appalling but true.
I shudder when I think back to some moments from my own backpacking days when I was all of 21, exploring Greece and Turkey, naively full of my own invincibility. Many times, it was just dumb luck that saved me from disaster.
The body of missing British tourist Catherine Shaw (pictured), 23, was found in Guatemala. But while we don’t yet know what happened to Catherine, the fact that her body was found naked makes me dread what details are to come
Like the time in Cappadocia when I was shoved violently against a wall by a furious hostel manager because my two friends and I had been out until around midnight.
He screamed at me about our disgusting behaviour and I screamed back. But I stopped when, as he pinned my shoulders, his jacket flew open and I saw he had a gun.
There was the time a man followed us back to our hotel. We went inside to our room and locked the door, but a few minutes later he was trying to force it open.
He’d asked reception for our room number and they had cheerily told him.
Miss Shaw, a former yoga teacher, was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am on Tuesday morning leaving the hostel where she was staying
In a hotel on the Black Sea coast, a woman let herself into our room with a key, sat on my bed and offered to put us all to work as prostitutes.
I’d like to think the world has changed. But while we don’t yet know what happened to Catherine, the fact that her body was found naked makes me dread what details are to come.
My daughter, 13, is already talking about her gap-year travels. I’ve always quelled my anxiety by thinking that, unlike me, who’d disappear for weeks before finding a working phone to contact my poor parents, she will have an iPhone and I’ll always know where she is. But Catherine’s story has made me realise how silly it is to think technology equals protection.
I know when my daughter heads off with her backpack, I will fix a smile on my face and applaud her independence, while my insides will be eaten alive with nausea.
Because I know what happens to women who travel. Even the ones who have a wonderful time and make it back home.
Trust me, £30 tights are a real bargain!
I hate to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of being outraged by tales of the Duchess of Sussex’s diva-esque extravagances but I’m sorry, she’s being positively frugal with her reported ‘demand’ for Wolford tights.
An aide who tried to palm her off with M&S versions supposedly got short shrift with Meghan refusing to wear that ‘garbage’.
Most of us happily slum it in said garbage, because £30 or more for a tights seems nuts.
But I have to admit that I own some Wolford pairs that are older than my nine-year-old dog and they’re still going strong.
In a cost-per-wear analysis, that’s a pretty convincing win for Meghan.
I don’t need a wife – I need four of them
I was recently at a gathering of financial experts, at a networking seminar to mark International Women’s Day. I know, try to keep a lid on your jealousy.
But it was fascinating. Several female money experts agreed: in the male-centric world of finance, most advice is geared to men’s money behaviour, and helps sustain the huge wealth gap between the sexes.
Someone joked that all women should have a Financial Wife: in other words a woman who delivers female-tailored money advice and, like any good wife, actually nags you into acting on it.
Confrontation Wife would help me be that unicorn in the office; the woman in charge who isn’t universally hated. I’m not the ‘bossy bitch’ giving you the bad news, I’d say. She is! It’s her you can’t stand! [File photo]
Which got me thinking – why stop with money? There really is no end to my limits as a human being. I could use a whole team of better-skilled wives to improve my performance.
Like today, I wish Heating Wife existed: unlike me, she would know exactly which buttons on the thermostat do what.
Confrontation Wife would help me be that unicorn in the office; the woman in charge who isn’t universally hated. I’m not the ‘bossy bitch’ giving you the bad news, I’d say. She is! It’s her you can’t stand!
Sex Wife does what it says on her sexy tin. Nothing – not 14-hour working days, washing fox wee off the dog – ever dampens her mood.
But even she bows down to the ace in the pack: School Admin Wife. You’d never catch her scooping up autumn leaves on the street and gluing them on to an envelope on the way to school, in the saddest attempt ever to pretend she hadn’t completely forgotten the Harvest Festival project.
Patronised… by a drinks coaster
Last week a PR company sent me a coaster with Wonder Woman’s face on it and the message ‘You are stronger than you believe’.
I do tire of the onslaught of ‘empowering’ statements being rammed down the throats of women and girls.
I know I’m strong. I don’t need another patronising reminder, especially from a coaster.
Budget airlines have standards? Who knew?
Did you know that budget airlines had a dress code? In… economy?!
Thomas Cook passenger Emily O’Connor was nearly thrown off a flight from Birmingham to Tenerife for wearing a tiny bra-style top.
I can’t be the only one floored by the idea that budget airlines have standards.
Emily was flying to Tenerife on 2 March when she claims Thomas Cook staff told her crop top and trousers were ‘causing offence’ to other passengers (pictured here after landing in Tenerife). The airline has since apologised
You know, those buses with wings, where you sit with your knees kissing your eyeballs, getting third-degree burns from a £6 congealed cheese toastie, while trying to ignore the odour coming from the loo and fellow sweaty passengers.
Honestly, Emily could have walked through that cabin naked, wearing a dead kitten as a hat and she still wouldn’t be anywhere near the most offensive thing in economy.