Written by Dotty Winters



Ever wanted to apologise for something but don’t know where to start? In the first of a regular series, where our writers atone for their past sins, it turns out Dotty Winters is only a bit sorry.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I’d like to teach you how to play a game. It’s not for everyone, but it is a lot of fun for the right people.

1. First you need to get pregnant (I told you it’s not for everyone). Now, there are lots of reasons why you should think carefully about getting up the duffer, but for the purposes of this article the main one is that this game is only really fun if you are happily, nay joyfully pregnant.

2. Secondly you need to get pregna-fat. The first stage of the process will help with this, but if not I recommend injecting any fruit you eat with peanut butter. This game will not work if you look like you accidentally dropped a marble into your maternity tights.

3. You need to practise not smiling. Again, steps one and two are gonna help you out here. Should you find yourself feeling unhelpfully perky, take a good look at your ankles. Can you see them? If so, return to step two. Remember, day-to-day grumpiness about lugging a fat-filled beach ball around up your jumper while battling a semi-permanent UTI is no reflection of your love for your unborn child; a good parent can be delighted to be having a baby and still operate at dangerous levels of daily rage. Besides, Step 6 is gonna cheer you right up.

4. Get a taxi. If possible, choose one with a really irritating looking driver. It shouldn’t be a long wait.

5. Heave yourself into the taxi with as much audible effort as you can muster. Flop onto the seat like an enthusiastic manatee, try (and then give up on) stretching the seat belt round your bump. Recline awkwardly in the corner of the cab, resting your hands lovingly on your bump.

6. Wait for the taxi driver to ask when the baby is due. They will ask. If they don’t ask, it’s not a taxi, it’s one of those children’s ride-on cars. Look closely – if your driver is Iggle Piggle return to step 4 and play closer attention. It won’t matter, they will ask.

7. Look horrified.

8. Deadpan, ask: “What baby?”

9. Cry (depending on your stage of pregnancy you may have been crying since step 2).

10. Rinse and repeat steps 4-9 until you give birth in John Lewis (if you give birth in John Lewis you get vouchers apparently, plus it relieves the strain on the NHS).

“Remember, day-to-day grumpiness about lugging a fat-filled beach ball around up your jumper while battling a semi-permanent UTI is no reflection of your love for your unborn child.”

You are welcome. If any of your well-meaning friends call you out on this behaviour, remember to blame pregnancy hormones; it’s the perfect crime (in that it’s not even a crime).

If you do this enough times just think how many men you can train not to comment on women’s bodies. Sure, you could argue that you are also training them not to give up seats on buses or trains, but if you’ve travelled anywhere while pregnant recently you’ll note that someone has already completed that training.

As with all heroic acts, there is a price to pay: for years to come after you give birth people will regularly ask you when the baby is due even though you aren’t pregnant (and your youngest child is 14). When this happens the tears in Step 9 may be real, but then you can remember how great Step 8 felt, and spread the word. The more of us who do this, the less likely any of us will ever be asked when the baby is due again. PAY IT FORWARD ladies.

This feature is called Atonement and I am writing this to ask forgiveness, only it seems I forgot to be sorry. I blame the pregnancy hormones.

Although, to that one taxi-dude whose car I guffed in at 39 weeks, I do owe a heartfelt apology. I truly am sorry, and I hope the blindness, inability to concentrate and blisters have cleared up.


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Written by Dotty Winters

Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.