Lez Miserable: "Is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?"

Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain.

The Lesbian Apocalypse is upon us. According, that is, to the President of the Center for Marriage Policy, David R Usher. The CMP is an American right-wing Christian group and one of the many voices against marriage equality in the US. Usher has warned us, in his column for Renew America, that if same-sex marriage is legalised in all fifty states, the men of the US will be doomed to enslavement by Machiavellian lesbian sex-maniacs. These women will, according to Usher, underhandedly get pregnant by men and, in doing so, entrap them economically. Sounds like the plot of a porn film written by a heavily armed survivalist from the safety of his bunker, right? But what if Usher has a point? What if Valerie Solanas’s man-hating SCUM Manifesto was actually a Nostradamic prediction of a new world order? And since same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK this year, is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?

Cat flaps are being installed in the Houses of Parliament. Burly women in hardhats are replacing Big Ben with a mildly nauseating, yonic art instillation. The rainbow flag flies atop Buckingham Palace, which has been converted into a giant performance poetry and “knit your feelings” venue. Led by Jane Hill, an army of lesbian journalists have seized control of the media. The streets run with soy milk and gin. The sound of atrocious Tracy Chapman covers has become grasshopper-like background noise. Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain; the Big Mother state.

So, what’s on the political agenda in the SRGB? I think I can safely say that lesbians are a bunch of lefties. Granted, conservative gay women are a thing. I met one once. It was strange. But let’s say the lesbian takeover happens tomorrow. Military intervention in Syria? Yeah, right. Nationalisation of pretty much everything? You’d better believe it. Hell, we’d nationalise cake. And state produced Ms Kipling fondant fancies would be more than exceedingly good. It would be nice if we could retain a democratic system, but hey, we’re trying to install a matriarchy here and could really do without the likes of Cameron and Clegg manning shit up. So, apologies to all you ballot fanatics out there, I’m afraid we’re talking one-party state. Don’t you worry though, lesbians know how to party.

The Sapphic State would be policed by formidable, Amazonian types who would arrest anyone found selling overheated lattes (bad coffee is offensive to lesbians), dancing non-ironically to Robin Thicke, or watching the kind of lesbian porn where women with long nails jab at one another’s fannies with cucumbers. These dissidents would be sent to Group Therapy. This is where you’re forced to sit in a “trust circle” with other enemies of lesbianism and, fuelled only by herbal tea and sesame snaps, talk about your feelings until you pray for death.  

Now, hetero folk – fortunately for you, being straight will be legal in the SRGB. In fact, we have no problem at all with your bizarre sexual practices. Sure, a lot of us would rather you kept it between the sheets. But the SRGB won’t discriminate, except against cat-haters, perhaps (they’ll be sent to re-education centres where they watch hilarious YouTube cat videos until they crack). You know what though? We’ll even let straight people get married. What’s more, the state will provide support groups for those struggling with their love of the opposite sex. There are going to be a lot of support groups in the SRGB. You’re absolutely right, David R Usher, the lesbians are coming for you.

 

In the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain, the streets will be paved with rainbow. Photo: Getty

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Getty
Show Hide image

A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear