RECIPE: Sparkly Princess Coconut Cake

Preparation time: 15 mins

Baking time: About three days longer than you think 



420g sugar

180g softened butter

470g flour

4 eggs

¾ can of coconut milk

120g desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon baking powder

½  teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of almond or vanilla extract


Desiccated coconut and almond flakes for topping



  • Switch the oven on to Gas Mark 3, or if you are lucky enough not to own a cooker from the 16th century, 180°C.
  • Grease your cake tin with butter.
  • Gooey stuff in one bowl, dry stuff in another.


  • Mix the gooey stuff in with the dry stuff.
  • Realise you have incorrectly converted the measurements from US to metric and subsequently have to add around four tonnes of flour to achieve the correct mixture consistency.
  • End up with approximately 300% more mixture than you should have, and therefore have to (okay, maybe not have to) eat quite a lot of it straight from the bowl. Alternatively, you may put the excess mixture in another cake pan, or muffin cases, or a hat. You do you.


  • Go off and do something distracting, like stalking a girl you don’t like on Twitter or watching TV. Preferably something really engrossing like CSI, where you can get so impressed by your own super-sleuth detective skills that you completely forget you’ve got a cake in the oven and leave it baking for around nine hours longer than necessary.
  • Excellent news. You didn’t put enough baking powder in, so it hasn’t risen anyway and is a soggy, gloopy mess that looks like something Mulder found in a forest on The X-Files.
  • Check to see if there has been any miraculous progress in the last 15 seconds by stabbing the cake with a fork to see if it comes out clear. Repeat this process seven million times, ideally while tutting and shaking your head in disbelief.
  • Horribly realise that this cake isn’t having any of it. This cake has lost the will to bake. This cake has been stabbed more times than a Glaswegian drug dealer. This cake ain’t got no time for dat.


  • Plead with the cake to no avail. You’re having visions of your flatmates setting you on fire for using up all the gas. You’ve half-composed an email to your boss saying you can’t come in tomorrow because there’s no way you’re wasting £3.90 worth of ingredients and SO MUCH WASHING UP, and you subsequently have to see the bastard thing through to the grisly end. Kind regards.
  • Give up and decide that you would rather die of salmonella poisoning than have this cake mock you for one more second.
  • Remove from the oven while fatally burning at least one of your fingers.
  • Prod curiously, before breaking off a corner to nibble.
  • Think ‘Fuck, this actually tastes really weird’. Slather with jam and sprinkle with desiccated coconut and almond flakes to mask the aftertaste.
  • Leave to cool, take some cute pictures for social media, and then palm off slices to your flatmates and work colleagues in case it is poisonous.


It’s OK if your 20s haven’t gone to plan

So young. So full of hope.

Being 26 is a curious thing. And by curious, I mean bewildering, soul-destroying and occasionally absolutely terrifying. It’s a ‘nothing’ age. You’re neither young nor old. You’re like an awkward fringe you can’t quite grow out.

When I was younger, I thought that people in their twenties were adults, they had their shit together, they were O-L-D. But now I realise that they weren’t old at all. They were like me. A child trapped in an adult’s body, squeaking desperately for someone to come and rescue them.

Over time, I have learnt that life isn’t like one of those Goosebumps books where you can sneakily flick to the alternative endings and pick the one where you don’t get eaten by a mutant sponge. It’s scary and unpredictable, and you just have to roll with it.

So here is a list of 7 things I thought I would have going for me in my mid-20s that I seriously, seriously don’t:

1.I thought I would be married with at least one kid by now.

I used to think that people who were still single in their late twenties had some kind of icky, gross malady that prevented suitors from wanting to put a ring on it. But sometimes relationships just don’t pan out the way you hope they will. And sometimes it’s for the best. Plus I am definitely not ready for offspring. I had to hold a baby at a wedding last month and I hated every second of it.  Between trying to look maternal, all I could think was ‘why won’t it blink?’ and ‘why does it not cry when people pick it up by its armpits when I cry if I catch my bingo wing on a door frame?’

2. I thought I would be a sex goddess by now.

I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. It’s like trying to assemble an IKEA wardrobe. WHERE DOES THIS BIT GO? WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS WEIRD LITTLE LEFTOVER THING?! My predicament is not helped by frantically reading bizarre sex tips in women’s magazines. Instead, I am left with further performance anxiety after discovering that I can’t quite pull off rubbing cocoa beans over my lover’s scrotum while in the Grab Your Coat You’ve Pulled a Cheeky Flamenco position.

3. I thought I would understand bills and general life crap by now.

I do not understand bills and general life crap.

4. I thought I would be a stunnah by now.

The one thing I clung to when I was a teenager and my hair was greasy and I had no boobs and developed a moustache was that one day I would be peng. One day, puberty would wave her magic wand, release me from this sarcophagus of 4-out-of-10-ness and rebirth me as a beautiful butterfly. But if anything, I am grosser now than ever. I have fat in places I didn’t even know you could have fat. I am spottier. I am hairier. I am scalier. I am basically turning into an armadillo.

5. I thought I would be on the property ladder by now. 

One of the many perks of being a journalist is that I earn way below the average graduate salary. Like if the graduate salary was a bus, I would be running after it panting. If the graduate salary was Leonardo DiCaprio, I would be being restrained by a security guard after trying to stroke its face. If the graduate salary was a Snitch, I would be chasing it on a mop. So unless I immediately marry a Russian oil tycoon, I shan’t be owning my own house anytime soon.

6. I thought I would stop getting ID’d by now.

When I got the A Level results I needed to get into university but couldn’t celebrate with my two friends at Ko-Ko’s in Rochdale town centre because I didn’t have ID and had the face of a Cabbage Patch Kid, I was fuming. “You will pay for this,” I vowed, as thunderstorms cracked in the midnight sky. I considered writing to Parliament. I considered a dirty protest. I considered launching my own charity to help other victims. But now, it’s the opposite. As I inch closer to 30, looking young is a compliment. In fact, I am offended if people don’t ID me. “Wait, don’t you want to verify my age?” I want to cry indignantly. “Don’t you think I’m too young-looking to be purchasing this alcoholic beverage?” I reach into my bag. “I have ID. Check my ID. Please,” I beg, before slamming my driving licence, passport, birth certificate and 22-week ultrasound scan onto the counter.

7. I thought I would have outgrown my ‘awkward phase’ by now.

Chink chink. The sound of glass tinkling, a champagne cork popping. Laughter. Schmoozing. Another glamorous cocktail party organised by yours truly. So, this one didn’t pan out. Mainly because I don’t live in the 1980s, but also because I am still super awkward.

U OK, hun?

Detective Inspector Jose Mundalez knew there was something weird about this one. Just knew it.

He crushed his cigarette beneath his foot and moved one step closer to the body. Matty ‘MJ’ Jacobson had boiled to death in an enormous vat of baked beans, his corpse discovered in a desolate warehouse at just after 6am on a swelteringly hot Chicago morning.

Mundalez had worked some sick cases in his time. He’d been just a rookie when he’d solved his first serial homicide case: a psycho by the name of The Washing Up Liquid Killer (also known as Steve). Tortured by his memories, he’d drank too much, screwed too much, couponed too much. Ordered by his captain to take leave, he’d left Chicago P.D. to rediscover the convoluted sob story that had made him want to become a cop in the first place.

But now he was back, and something about this case had excited him. What was the victim doing out here? And why was he covered in beans?

Matty’s family, friends and co-workers had all confirmed that he didn’t even like baked beans. The CSI squad had recovered no beans from his house. So what was he doing dead in this warehouse, beans all up in his grill?

“Lopez,” Mundalez barked at the young detective examining the vat. “Have we confirmed the time of death?”

Lopez smirked. “In Heinz-sight that would have been a good idea.”

“Get back to work,” Mundalez snapped.

He stepped carefully onto the silver ladder attached to the side of the vat. Peering over the edge, he surveyed its contents.

Beans. Lots and lots of beans.

The smell was rancid. Like tomatoes and entrails and when you pull a load of hair out of the plughole and it looks like a small mammal. At the edge, a puffy face floated helplessly.

Teetering on the top rung of the ladder, Mundalez leaned towards Matty’s face.

“U OK, hun?” he whispered.



Deep in the Cornish countryside, there is a legend as old as time itself. A legend so ghastly, so blood-curdling, dear reader, that I am loath to utter it. For in the shadows, in the whisper of the trees, there resides a ghoul. Consumed with torment, she haunts the village with her anguished wails and icy breath.

Whether people are birthing a sheep, paying their respects at a funeral or watching reruns of Top of the Pops on BBC2, the ghoul will appear and start breastfeeding her ghoul baby indignantly. Only if you say “Please can you put your breasts away so I can eat in peace” three times will the ghoul float away, screaming, to the Daily Mail.

Living in constant terror, the country folk are unable to sleep or eat. The life expectancy is now 37. Crops are withering away. Cattle are perishing. So that’s where I come in. Timothy Rothchild, ghoul hunter extraordinaire, pleased to meet you.


“This’ll be your lodgings for the night,” Martin Jackson, the landlord of the local pub says as he places my suitcase on the bed. 

I glance around the room. It’s not much, just a single bed and a rickety wooden chest of drawers that looks like it will collapse at any moment. But there’s a pile of lovingly-folded blankets and a pitcher of warm milk to keep me cosy.

“This shall be more than adequate,” I say, taking off my flat cap. “I bid thee good night.”

Once the door closes, I change into my night garments and huddle beneath the blankets. Sleep is slow to come, but when it does, it embraces me fully.

Some hours later, I am awoken by a curious suckling sound. Striking a match, I light my candlestick and gasp. It is she. (The breastfeeding ghoul I mentioned earlier, please keep up).

“Be gone, ghoul,” I command, my voice wavering. “You are not welcome here.”

“But discrimination…”

“Be gone!” I shout, throwing some frankincense and eye of newt at her.

Her pale eyes glare in the darkness.

“You must leave this village and never return, do you hear me, ghoul?”

“It’s Sarah.”


“My name is Sarah.” She floats to the window, gazing sadly into the distance. “I wasn’t always like this, you know. I didn’t assume that people were sadists if they’d prefer not to watch me lactate into someone else’s mouth while they’re eating a steak bake at Greggs. I wasn’t always hated so.”

“It can be so again,” I say, reaching my hand out to her. “Breastfeeding is a normal, natural part of life. No-one thinks it’s gross. Just stop being so smug and self-righteous about it.”

“You’re right,” Sarah says. “Thanks, Timothy.”

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“I have always known,” Sarah says as she fades into the darkness. “I have always known.”




It was the year 2023 and the Labour government had released its target that 86% of all school-leavers should be beauty bloggers.

It was Armageddon. The UK had gone completely tits-up. B&Q had run out of white paint, scientists had been forced to cultivate giant mutant avocados to keep up with demand and teens across the country were in counselling.

“I’m just not chirpy and kitsch enough,” they sobbed breathlessly. “I can’t take close-ups of my Benefit cheek palette because I have a moustache, I don’t know my foundation from my arsehole and I have to live in a hazmat suit to keep my room spotless enough to take artistically arranged snaps of my #MAChaul. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t.”

But it was the law. And so engineers, teachers and doctors had been phased out in favour of people who could take 236 selfies per day and use gross words like ‘adorbs’ and ‘totes’.

The population now stood at 1.7 million. Six million people had died of food poisoning after taking 28 minutes to upload pictures of their quinoa salad. It was a pandemic, it was cruel and it was the law.

“It is the law,” said Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs. “The UK will become a world leader in beauty blogging.” He clambered onto his bench, gyrating his hips slightly. “We will not surrender to Tory ideals of literacy and numeracy. Nor will we accept that people should do something better with their lives than make gormless pouty fish faces and then edit the shit out of their pictures. Hashtag effyourbeautystandards.”

As the population dwindled and the English language waned to just nine words – eyebrows, bae, fleek, on, MAC, strobe, NYX, Benefit and haul – the UK ground to a halt.

Eventually there was just one beauty blogger left. Her Instagram handle was @unicornrainbowglitterprincessveganmarilynmonroewasasize16primarkhaul and she was 19 Illamasqua Skin Bases old.

As she lay weak in the beauty section of House of Fraser, her pot of Anastasia Dipbrow Promade fell from her hands and rolled into the distance. With her last dying breaths, she typed a caption for her Instagram selfie.

Eyebrows. On. Fleek.  


Two centuries later, her crusty old remains were discovered and displayed in the Natural History Museum. They can still be viewed today for £8, or £6 if you order through Groupon.


*Please note some of this is not historically accurate.