Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

Summer's here, and I look like Godzilla with an orange tan and a spider in my cleavage

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The other week I said it's sometimes hard to be a woman, which is what I thought at the time, but now I know I was clearly talking complete nonsense (for once!) as it's always hard to be a woman. There really is no "sometimes" about it, and "sometimes" was mighty lucky to get a look-in, because while it is always hard to be a woman, it is hardest right now, with the weather warming up as it did for 10 minutes last Tuesday. Here are just a few of the things that people of the lady variety have to do as the weather warms up:

The other week I said it's sometimes hard to be a woman, which is what I thought at the time, but now I know I was clearly talking complete nonsense (for once!) as it's always hard to be a woman. There really is no "sometimes" about it, and "sometimes" was mighty lucky to get a look-in, because while it is always hard to be a woman, it is hardest right now, with the weather warming up as it did for 10 minutes last Tuesday. Here are just a few of the things that people of the lady variety have to do as the weather warms up:

1. Apply self-tanning product so you don't frighten children with your winter-white luminosity.

2. Race round chemists in the hope of discovering a self-tan remover so you don't frighten children with your terrifyingly orange luminosity. ("What is that?" children will ask as you pass. "That," they will be told, "is someone who did not properly exfoliate first, as always advised.")

3. Wax, shave, Veet and generally depilitate like a loony while asking yourself: "If I skip the bits I can't see, will I look like Godzilla from behind?"

4. Apply polish to toes, badly. Remove and reapply. Badly. Repeat process long into the night, never getting anywhere.

5. Fret about what to wear to a summer wedding, which is obligatory, even if you haven't been invited to any.

6. Wax, shave, Veet and generally attempt to depilitate the bits you can't see, as 27 people have already shouted out "hey Godzilla" as they've come up behind you, and a dog even tried to have sex with the back of your leg.

7. Equip yourself with this season's funky high wedges and fall arse over tit at the entrance to Finsbury Park Tube station. "Look like fuckers, them shoes," Jim, the Big Issue seller, will say, as if he is up on fashion (well, honestly).

8. Have another go at the toe-nails. Nope, still looks like a drunk with Parkinson's has been let loose on them.

9. Panic about imminent school summer fair and bake lots of cakes to be sold for 20p a go, which doesn't even begin to cover the cost of ingredients let alone the fraught labour and why not just open a sweatshop in the playground and go for it properly?

10. Book in for a proper pedicure, then cancel, because the toes on your right foot have, over the years, fiercely ganged up on the little one, which now looks like a squashed giant grub, and you can't face broadcasting this to a third party.

11. Pinch an inch and say you don't give a shit even though you do.

12. Spend hours at www.figleaves. com searching for the perfect bikini which you'll never have the figure to wear.

13. Attend to hard skin on feet with a good pumicing unless it's so grim down there only a cheese-grater will do.

14. Attempt to discuss with school head the merits of competition and capitalism - with particular reference to cake profit margins - but discover she's not making herself available until after the non-competitive sports day when every child will get a ribbon, no matter how useless they are.

15. Search the internet for more realistic swimwear and luckily hit upon www.wholesomewear. com. (so I think you'll know who I am on the beach).

16. Accepting that exfoliating properly first - as always advised - is way beyond you, decide to give up on fake tans and go for the real thing. Drag out sun lounger from shed, bravely flick off spiders and desiccated moths with only the maximum amount of shrieking and whimpering, then lie down and get up (need sunglasses), lie down, get up (sun cream), lie down, get up (phone), lie down, get up (doorbell), lie down, leap up (spider in cleavage) and just generally go up,down, up, down, in, out, in, out, until you think: "Oh, forget it."

17. Pass the sign outside Fitness First that says "Tone those wobbly bits for summer!", backtrack and spit at it.

18. Fret about why you haven't been invited to any summer weddings, which is very annoying when you've put so much effort into thinking what you'd wear if you were.

19. Have another go at toenails... etc etc.

20. You've even thought about the right hat.

And here's what people of the male variety to do:

1. Check if the big chef hat and jokey barbecue apron will do for another year... yup, just as funny

2. Er... that's it. (Unless a man happens to read this over your shoulder in which case he will add indignantly: "Hey, that's not fair... I have to get out my sandals out!", even though you wish he wouldn't.)

So this is why it is always hard to be a woman - "sometimes!", my arse - and why it will always be hard to be a woman, and why the summer is womankind's burden, and why it wouldn't do to take it out on men by letting them nibble at what they imagine are the last bits of cheese on the grater. Or would it?

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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