Thursday, 18 February 2010


As a freelance beauty journalist lots of my time involves going to product launches and fancy central London hotels. In any given day I can be in the Dorchester for a fragrance launch, in Soho Hotel to see new Spring/Summer make up colours and I can end my day in Claridges having tea with some lovely PRS. Today was one of those hectic days and I decided to jump in a black cab (the rain and thought of frizzy hair pushed me over the edge). As I sat in the cab I said, “St Martin’s Lane hotel please” and then it came. The nudge nudge, wink wink and old twinkle in his eye.

Have you seen Billy Piper in ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’? She describes this moment perfectly as every time I jump in a cab at 3pm in the afternoon all black cab drivers assume I am a pro and by that I don’t mean a freelance journalist who has been working for a decade in the beauty industry but a P for prostitute.

Every bloody time I get the same banter from male black cab drivers and today was no exception. The conversation went something like this- he goes, “business or pleasure, darlin’”, and I go, “business”, which makes me look like a right slapper. Then he goes, ohhhhh I hope it’s more pleasurable than just business”.

Now what really makes me angry is not that this man thinks I’m a ho but that in 2010, the only reason a woman in her early 30s is going to a posh hotel for work is because she is working on her back. At this point I then say,” I am a journalist, a beauty/ fashion journalist”, because saying just beauty gets confused, dazed looks. They wonder is that really a job or is this prostitute in the back of my cab really inventive

Anyway, today after I convinced him I was not an escort he asked me, “what is beauty?”. We had a really interesting chat about this highly controversial topic, in the end I said that depends on who and where you are asking the question. In India, being fair is still seen as the height of beauty, I personally get stalked by Nigerian traffic wardens because of my gigantic boobs and junk in my trunk and up North the pale and interesting look just doesn’t wash, it’s fake tan all the way. I also said beauty changes with time because 60 years ago if I showed him a picture of JLO or Alek Wek he wouldn’t think they were that attractive but culture and historical changes also shape our perceptions of beauty. The taxi driver’s response to this was really interesting in the way he rationalised what I was saying as he said, “what you’re saying is that if you look at someone long enough your perception of beauty can change, like when the new Mini came out, I didn’t like the look of it but now I quite like it”. I loved our chat and my black cab beauty discussion, hopefully if I ever get in the back of his cab again the first thing he assumes won’t be that I’m a happy hooker with well applied make up on.


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  3. there I was thinking this was going to be all about not poking your eye out with your mascara in the back of a cab, but this is a totally different type of poking! Golly. I would like to say this has never happened to me but maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention. TravelLodge, Kings Cross and step on it my man! xx


  4. Ha ha maybe my PVC catsuit and riding crop was a tad inappropriate and gave the wrong impressive but you know what it's like at launches you have to look fashion forward. It was lovely hanging out with you today at The Dorchester for the launches- sounds dodgy when you say it like that!
    See you soon x

  5. A brilliant piece of writing - I loved your use of slapper and ho in the same article - lol x

  6. Have to say, I would have been reaching for the pepper spray if he'd said that to me - on second thoughts he was driving... Next time you see him the P in his vocabulary will stand for Peptides! xxx

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  8. LOL! You made me laugh and think with this one. True - beauty is so subjective, so why do women feel like they have to achieve one boring blonde haired/blue eyed/small nosed goal? There is beauty in diversity.

    Lucky you in some ways with that cabbie -- 9 times out of 10, my husband always gets the white supremacist drivers. No joke. The driver would vent about immigrants in the UK and on and on, with my husband's mouth agape and silent of words.

    Nadia Z

  9. Brilliant as usual! I've known you for a long time now, and your writing just gets better and better. A book next perhaps? Thank you for this fantastic blog!

    xoLove, Nonie C.
    Founding Creative Director
    butter LONDON

  10. I loved your article on your black cab experience
    and the way you wrote it, I just read it to my boyfriend and it made him laugh
    too but we both agree with you regarding the perception of beauty.
    You have also given me something to think about every time I get into one

  11. Your article always stay with me for hours,sometimes days like this one. It really gives one food for thought! Who said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Now add this to it...the makeup brush weilds a mighty stroke.

  12. Great post. Who knew something so interesting could go down in the back of a cab ;)


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