Category Archives: Gemma Burgess

On… pregnancy obsessions

Fact: Life milestones cluster.

First, everyone you know turns 21 and all you seem to do is go to 21st birthday parties every damn weekend. Then everyone moves into grubby-floored shared apartments with friends, and all you do is go to housewarming parties where someone ends up sleeping in the bathtub. Then everyone moves in with their significant other and you go to a lot of dinner parties (and eat either roast chicken or lasagne). Then everyone breaks up with said significant other, and decides they hate their career, and you all go out to bars in hope of widening the social gene pool and drinking away the worries about how much you hate your career. Then everyone gets engaged and married, all at once, so all of a sudden you spend every second of your life travelling to, shopping for and recovering from weddings.

And then everyone gets knocked up. And that’s where I am right now. It’s baby baby baby, plop plop plop. Everyone I know is clearly getting laid. A LOT. And high five to all of you for that. (You smutty little filthmongers.)

Now, some women waft through pregnancy, looking amazing and feeling fantastic, barely noticing any difference in their day to day lives. Others are slayed by nausea, exhaustion, and general aches and pains, and wake every morning wondering what fresh hell will arrive that day. I was firmly in the latter camp. And these are the items that helped me survive. So if you’re knocked up, or know someone who is, enjoy. If you’re not in this place at all, then this post will really bore you. But then again, my bourgeois analysis of the concerns of 20- to 30-something yuppies like moi was probably highly tedious too, and you clicked away on like, line three. So never mind.


If you’re plagued by nausea / vomiting / acid reflux / heartburn, nothing will taste very good for the entire nine months. On the plus side, you can impress your friends by burping like a trucker. And nothing says ‘mother’ like someone leaning over a toilet bowl for the sixteenth time that day, screaming ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ in between mouthfuls of [insert foodstuff here].

Super Lemons are a Japanese lemon-flavoured candy that are so sour they make you wince and drool and swear. They also may stop you feeling godawful for an hour or so. Apparently extra saliva helps create enzymes that relieve nausea. We ate a lot of these in Hong Kong when I was a kid (though we were not, I hasten to add, knocked up). And we liked another candy called, I think, Toxic Waste. No confirmation if Toxic Waste is good for pregnancy or not. You can usually find Super Lemon in Japanese food shops, or try Amazon or Ebay.

Next, Pink Lady Apples, cold from the fridge and sliced into 1cm rounds, also helped my nausea. I don’t know why; I’m not a nutritionist. Warning: chew them VERY well. If they come back up, apple skin will slice the shit out of your throat.

Ditto cucumber. Sliced thin, on buttered toast, with cracked pepper. If you are great with child and feel meh, try it.

For the last trimester, heartburn can be a real bitch. Sometimes it gets so bad you’ll throw up. At least, I did. Eating almonds will keep you going without feeling sick. Something to do with the alkaline/acid levels of your stomach, or some shit like that. (I’m not a doctor, either.) Man, I ate a lot of almonds. I also ate a steak sandwich cooked in butter every day for breakfast, as it was the only meal that was guaranteed not to give me heartburn. God, that was awesome. I’d love a steak sandwich right now. Let’s put a photo of a steak sandwich in, just for fun.


Of course, you can take drugs for nausea and heartburn… I tried Vitamin B6, Omeprazole, Zantac, Motilium, Gaviscon, and a bunch of other things. Tums were the most calming and the yummiest. Sometimes I’d fall asleep, sitting up (lying down makes heartburn a lot worse), with a Tums dissolving in my mouth. A few hours later, I’d wake up with heartburn again, pop another Tums, and drift back to sleep. I’d wake up with coloured spittle dried around the outside of my lips. Which means I was also probably drooling. Did I mention pregnancy was sexy? No? That’s good. Because I would have been lying.

I have a thumping great girl crush on this woman. Tara Lee. I did her pregnancy DVD every single morning from week 12 onwards, even when walking or sitting for longer than a few minutes was no longer an option (pesky back and hip problems). She’s sort of gentle and calm and kind, and so pretty, and she has a nice voice, and um, oh, she has really great hair, and oh no, am I gushing? I feel like I’m gushing… The yoga moves are very easy, and really stretch out all the muscles that are working hard to carry that 30 pounds of babygut around. All in all, it was a lovely way to start the day. By week 37, I could recite the entire thing, word-for-word, with Tara’s calm-but-wise-inflexions, including lines like ‘feel like you are doing an internal dance with your baby’, WITHOUT IRONY. More worryingly, so could Fox.

You can’t sleep on your back during pregnancy for a number of boring-but-scary reasons. This pregnancy pillow is comfy as hell and doubles as a nursing pillow once your baby arrives. My sister asked if it was from Pacha in Ibiza, and I replied ‘no, Peter Jones in Chelsea’. That kind of highlights the different stages of life we’re at right now.

Support belt. It’s ridiculous, it’s unattractive, and it’s silly. But it really helps with aches and strains you might have if you are large of bump. No, of course this photo isn’t of moi.

Lastly, a reminder of why you are enduring the hell of pregnancy in the first place. Because babies are awesome.

Errol Fletcher Barry. This morning.

On… The Afterparty

I chose this book just for the cover.

The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus.

And then I read it.

It’s brilliant.

I wish the cover for The Dating Detox looked like that, by the way. It would seem so much more appropriate, don’t you think? Only with vodka instead of whiskey, and maybe a cigarette stubbed out in it instead of a floating dude (which, by the way, I only noticed after staring at it for a very long time).

People sometimes email me asking for recommendations for books like mine. My suggestions are usually pretty useless. For one thing, I don’t read a hell of a lot of chicklit. And though I know there’s some great chicklit out there (and, of course, a lot of fluffy shit), I don’t know many chicklit books with heroines who drink and swear and screw and work hard and hope and fuck up and recover… and who are, most importantly, funny. And that’s why I started trying to write in the first place: I felt like reading something comforting-yet-sharp and nothing satisfied me.

These are the dependably satisfying reads that I usually recommend: Talli Roland’s The Hating Game, starring a hilariously strong and snarky heroine. Plum Skyes’ Berdorf Blondes always cracks me up. Jennifer Weiner and Candace Bushnell are consistently excellent (they’re bestsellers for a damn good reason…). I always enjoy Emily Giffin books, though they’re sometimes a little heavy on the concept and light on the laughs. Jilly Cooper is laugh-out-loud funny, but she writes bonkbusters and that’s not everyone’s cup of hot cha. And Helen Fielding is of course the funniest of all… but don’t we all know Bridget off by heart by now?

Anyway, read The Afterparty. It’s smart, fast and very funny.

On… just for Dubliners

Do you live in Dublin? Or know someone who does?

If so, I have ace news for you: just go to South Anne Street today, or on Saturday 26th or Sunday 27th, and visit the NOHO pop-up store, say ‘Conor sent me’ and get 20% off the cost of NOHO!

What the hell is NOHO, you ask?

Well, it’s the hangover defence to end all hangover defences.

Now, full caveat: I haven’t tried it myself (preggers + nursing = booze-free 2011 for Gemgem) but Fox has, and it really does work. Normally, his hangovers render him bedridden for at least a day, groaning piteously, begging me for toast / water / coffee / the laptop / the papers / some cola bottle candies / a head massage / anything else his poisoned liver demands. But the morning after he tried NOHO, he sprang out of bed, chipper and ready to face the day. And the man was drinking martinis, wine, and G&Ts; the night before. He’d come home at 1am, serenaded me with ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ (yep, from Three Men And A Baby), and then snored like a dinosaur bear all night. He had no business being chipper. No business at all. When I am back in the drinking saddle again, I shall be on the NOHO bus faster than you can say ‘double vodka on the rocks’.

Anyway. Here’s the stuff you need to know: it’s a little shot bottle sold in packs of two, you take one before you go out, and one before you go to sleep. There’s no sugar, no caffeine, no crazy stimulants. Just the perfect combination of vitamins and nutrients (like Ginger Root Extract and Prickly Pear Extract) that help your body break down alcohol. And dudes, I’m pretty sure it’s the real deal. NOHO is the No.1 hangover solution in the US.

And now my brother-in-law Conor is bringing it to Ireland. For Conor, being hangover-free is every Irishman’s God-given right.

For the next six weeks NOHO will be available from a pop-up store on South Anne Street, just off Grafton Street. So swing in and say hello. It’s normally €5 for two bottles, but you can get it for €4 for the next three days just by saying ‘Conor sent me’ at the check out. And €4 is, after all, less than the cost of a drink in Dublin these days. So please, check it out, and then let me know if it works for you.

Conor has a cameo in The Dating Detox, by the way, as the smart-mouthed Irishman at the country house party. When he found out I was writing a book, he asked if he could be in it, and I thought: why the devil not? (When I tell people that, they tend to ask ‘why isn’t Foxy in it?’ and Fox replies something like ‘because I am both JAKE AND ROBERT! Rolled into ONE PERFECT SPECIMAN OF MANLINESS!’ And then I reply ‘sure you are dude, whatever gets you through the night’.)

On… outfits from the past

Age four. Daisy bikini. Would totally still wear this.

Age eight. Pale pink pencil skirt, grey suede booties, hot pink sweater with a balloon appliqué. I would wear this outfit today, except for the sweater (I’m over 30; I can’t do ironic appliques). Man, I loved that skirt. My mother told me I looked like I worked in a bank. I loved that even more.

Age 12. Black opaques, DM boots (only six hole, wasn’t allowed the eight hole), seriously frayed denim shorts, oversize burgundy cardigan. I may have hit my sartorial apex at the age of 12, as this look is still pretty much perfect.

Age 14. Pale blue Levi’s 501s, oversize black belt with daisy-shaped belt buckle, white tshirt, black blazer with the sleeves pushed up, silver peace sign pendant on silver chain. Totally Cindy Crawford ya know? Also, peace signs were really big in Hong Kong in the 90s. Ditto hypercolour tshirts, high top sneakers, and enormous carryall bags made of purple and orange wool that we bought from street vendors from, I think, Nepal. Holy shit, those bags were ugly.

Age 16. Secondhand flowery tea dress with the hem cut off far higher than it should have been and a pair of huge steelcapped (no, they really were steelcapped) brown farmers boots that were two sizes too big. I bought the boots from a secondhand shop in a small country town one summer vacation, somehow got them home though they added about 5kg to my luggage and my mother had threatened me with death if I overpacked again. I wore them constantly for years, even though they were so heavy I could hardly lift my feet. I was trying to do a grunge thing, I guess. What can I say.

Age 17-20. These were my university years. My friends and I were lucky if we got out of PJs. We often didn’t. We also wore a disturbing amount of extraordinarily unattractive rugby jerseys. If one of us actually wore jeans, or – gasp – a belt – we assumed that person’s parents were taking them out for dinner or something. When I look back, I am mildly surprised any of us ever got any action at all.

What about you?

On… sartorial outrage

I really want these.

Unique Flare Jeans by Goldsign.

But US$278 on a pair of jeans is ricockulous. What are they made from? Unicorn sperm?

I am starting a new 99% movement for the 99% of people who think nearly US$300 for a pair of goddamn jeans is an outrage. Join me! (Fear not, we’re not gonna do the whole sleeping-in-tents thing. I’ve never slept in a tent and I’m not about to start now.)

On… an email that I love

I have an email to share with you.

I got it a few months ago, opened it by mistake, read the whole thing as it made me laugh so much, and every now and again I remember it and think ‘I should so blog about that’.

Yeah, it’s a phishing scam spam thing.

But it’s strange and hilarious and kind of beguiling.

The first few paragraphs are, though lexically tickling for the copywriter, rather predictable. So if you’re in a hurry, skip to the paragraph starting ‘Yes it’s true the world is a global place’.

FedEx UK Head Office
Parkhouse Industrial Estate
East Chesterton
Tel (+44) 7024018994

Attention: Dear Valued Beneficiary,


This is to notify you that your parcel is still in our possession, this parcel contained an International Cashier Bank Draft/Cheque worth the sum of $1,500,000.00(One Million five hundred Thousand USA dollars)only and it is ready for delivery to your door step. Meanwhile, before the delivery or shipment will take place, you are advice to send to us the following data’s

mention below:

1. Your full Name :
2. Residential Address:
3. Private Telephone:

The above requested information’s will enable us deliver your parcel correctly without any mistake or delivering your parcel to a wrong person. Further more, you might be asking yourself how comes this email, cheque or draft, Anyway, your cheque was brought to this office by a Lottery Fiduciary Agent Or Claim Agent, signifying that you are a rightful winner to their Lottery Award selected randomly from 10 lucky email addresses which your email address is one of the lucky email address.

FedEx Courier Service mailing you as per your parcel that was brought to this company to be delivered to you by the lottery groups, along the delivery process that brought a misunderstanding between you and the lottery claim agent and in regards of their request as per their insurance certificate cost, tax fee and lots of other universal corps and drug searches which happened to be the course of your parcel being pending for the past months/year.

Meanwhile we are hereby happy to inform you that the FedEx Company has finalized and resolved the whole issued with the legal offices like the International Monetary of Funds(IMF),and the Internal Revenue Service(IRS) offices, the company organization has also listed 24 valuable parcel’s to be intact in their office after the released of the parcel’s from universal corps and drug searches.

We are happy to inform you once again that your parcel that contains the sum of $1,500,000.00 is among the 24 parcel’s listed which is now in our office and also with your name as the receivers despise, that we lost your private residential address’s, which is an indication that you can now re-send your residential address, telephone as stated above back to the FedEx Company where your parcel can be delivered to you without hesitation.

Meanwhile remember that the sender of this parcel to you that’s the fiduciary agent still owes this company the sum of $121 usd before the incident occurs, Note that this fee is not just for delivery but with the immigration and customs stamp duty, this company has spend out of their incomes in the process by the recovering back your parcel? so dear customer we once again appreciate your patronage in our favour.

Without hesitations you are to pay for just the balance left by your sender since we have lost his contact. this payment have to be made via Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram with the below payment information so that your parcel can be delivered to your residential address before it accumulate a demurrage after one week, only,as you know your parcel is not just an ordinary parcel but with a huge amount and I think you understand what I mean by accumulating a demurrage?

Which you will not allow that to happen to your recovered parcel that almost gone if not for the love that God have for you by favoring you with his favor by now there could have been no hope at all.We assure you that your parcel will arrive at your home country in two days time and it will get to your door step the third day as soon as this company receive the balance payment of $121 usd the tracking number of your parcel will be sent to you via e-mail immediately so that you can track it yourself to see your parcel on the way and you will also know when it will arrive at your home country because we operate in trust and loyalty in your favor. And also the FedEx Courier Service hereby inform all their customers through this media by heradicating all their communication with the scam mails that are going all-over the world be careful with their e-mails so that your parcel will not be in danger with their evil planes.

FedEx provides access to a growing global market place through a network of supply chain, transportation, business and related information services.

Yes it’s true that the world is a global place that people would easily go and scam people most especially on the net because the internet is the easiest way to reach to people and making them believe that the transaction they are offering is real. Therefore i must say that you deemed it fit and did right for explaining all to me in details so that you won’t misunderstood the whole issue.

I need you to know that i’m a man of dignity and keeps to my word. It’s therefore an insult on my face and on me as a person for you to have thought that i belong to those imposters, though i saw your reasons.By the virture of a man’s word, you could tell who is geniue and not.Though have been involved in such like this does not mean that when you see a legit one you can’t tell it’s really. God our creator has different ways of restoring all our wasted years and this is the restoration that the lord has ordained for you.

Furthermore, i would want you to know that there is scam in the globe and i would advice you to be careful with the kind of emails you reply to so that you won’t be a victim of circumstance anymore . it’s my duty to protect your interest and also advice you on legal matters on how to go about it. I promise you will be revived and regain all that you’ve ever dreamt of at the end.You must also know that you will be surprised that the delivery will be made to you as soon as you make the payment and at that point and level of success, you will live to remain greatful to me, I want you to have your mind rest and make a delivery choice and your consignment will get to you safely with any more problem.

PAYMENT INFORMATION FOR THE IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS STAMP DUTY CHARGES BEFORE DELIVERY EFFECT, FIND BELOW the information for Western Union or Money Gram to enable you make the payment of $121 usd before the delivery commence:

Receivers Name: Diakunu Standwell
Receivers Address: Accra Ghana
Senders Name: ————
senders Address:————
Text Question: In God?
Answer: We Trust
MTCN or REF Number:————–

Amount to be sent: $121 US Dollar

Please you have to send the full payment information including the MTCN Number to enable us fully proceed on your delivery FedEx is one of the world’s greatest successful story, the start-up that revolutionized the delivery of packages and information. In the past 30 years, we’ve grown up and grown into a diverse family of companies as FedEx that’s bigger, stronger, better than ever.

Mr.Steven Billias

Agent Jan Ward

Don’t you find the ranting-yet-patient tone of voice so charming? “I think you understand what I mean by a demurrage?”

From now on when I’m pissed off, I’m going to say “that is an insult to my face and me as a person”.

I almost hope the dude got some money. I feel like he earned it.

On… a new lip balm

Last night I was almost asleep when I realised I’d forgotten to apply lip balm. Dry lips are the bane of my life (uh, after my eyebrows… and the perma-hangnail on my thumb… and – oh, never mind, back to the point), so I drenched up the energy to reach into my nightstand and fumble around the mess for my trusty tube of Homeoplasmine .

It was not there.

Instead I pulled out a tube of Lanisoh nipple balm, the most useless item I bought when I was pregnant. I never needed it. My puppies adjusted to breastfeeding pretty effortlessly, bless their not-that-little souls.

So I gazed at the tube of Lanisoh sleepily through my lashes, thought ‘fuck it, if babies are allowed to eat it it must be safe enough’, and smeared some on my lips. It’s very thick and clear, like a balmy-paste thing. It doesn’t taste or smell of anything, either.

I woke up eight hours later with the stuff STILL ON, lips perfectly plump and moisturised, no cracks, not even a hint of dryness.

I thought you guys should know about it.

Best. Lipbalm. Ever.