The original plan for my A-Z posts was fictional bad girls of my own creation. But how could I not talk about Fleabag when Fleabag has done so much to help me write bad girls of my own?

In many ways, Fleabag is flawless. In a couple of other ways that I just want to touch on before I get into the main body of this post, it’s not. It is, undoubtedly, very middle class, and therefore completely understandable that, although nearly everyone I know can relate to it, that doesn’t mean that everyone can. Also, it’s not great with its disability representation – the character of Jake functions, I think, too simplistically and comedically for him to be considered a fully-rounded disabled character.

But. I’m trying not to allow slight quibbles with things I absolutely adore to ruin them for me entirely – loads of bloggers and podcasters I enjoy are great at pointing out the flaws in stuff while still celebrating the strengths – so on with the main point.

For years, when writing longer fiction pieces, I’ve struggled with endings for ‘bad women.’ Fiction is, after all, almost always about transformation, and how do you transform the bad girl if not by making her good? And yet, I never want to. I never want to write women who learn to stop chasing the wrong kind of men, women who learn to be happy with themselves, with their lives. I haven’t learned to do it myself, so if I write women like that, I’m writing women I can’t quite relate to, and that feels weird. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but I’m not there yet. And Fleabag is a woman I can relate to now.

There’s so much I could say on this (fears about having a massive arsehole are just the start), but in the interests of keeping it brief, I’m just going to focus on the final episode of Season 2. In fact, probably just the last ten minutes of the final episode of Season 2. What, if anything, has Fleabag learnt by the end of the season? When she tells the sexy priest she loves him and he says ‘It’ll pass,’ does he mean that it’ll pass and she’ll just go back to doing what she’s always done – having largely meaningless sex as a way of avoiding her feelings? Didn’t Fleabag need to learn how to love? Or does it mean something more than this? Does it mean that one day, she’ll learn to stop pursuing unsuitable men, even if she’s not there yet?

The thing is, by that last episode, I’d argue that Fleabag has learnt to love – she’s learnt to love other people and by doing so, she’s learnt to, if not love herself, then certainly to make her peace with herself, which, let’s face it, is far more realistic. It’s just not by falling in love with a man that she’s got to that point.

I’ve described Fleabag to friends as ‘Frozen, but sexier,’ and although that’s kind of a joke. I don’t think it’s an unfair way of looking at it. It’s all about coming of age by grieving and appreciating just how much family can love you – just look at how tight the relationship between Fleabag and Claire becomes over the course of this season. Plus, at the end she takes the statue back from her wicked stepmother – she gets her mum back.

So maybe she will carry on fucking the wrong men. It kinda doesn’t matter. She knows she’s loved, she knows she’s capable of love, and that? In the end, that is all that really matters.


Emma is fucking a writer. Well, she thinks she’s fucking someone who writes from time to time, but him? He assures her she’s fucking a writer.

And then he gets published, and even she has to admit she’s fucking a writer. It maybe wouldn’t bother her so much if she didn’t also write, but she does, and she’s disciplined. For two years, she’s been getting up at 6 every morning, weekends included, to write, and she knows her novel still isn’t quite good enough to submit. Perhaps she’ll send out the next draft – the ninth draft. He on the other hand, wrote a whole book in what seemed to Emma like a series of afternoons in the pub. She didn’t even realise he’d proofread it before he sent it off.

When the book comes out, she takes solace in the fact she knows he’ll at least say nice stuff about her in the acknowledgements. But his mum is there, his sisters, his nieces, even his fucking cat is there. But Emma is not.

‘Read it, honey’ he tells her, when she confronts him, ‘maybe there’s a surprise for you inside.’

So she reads. Fifty pages, a hundred pages, two hundred pages. Still no Emma.

‘I wouldn’t lie to you,’ he says. ‘Keep going.’

She’s on page 356 before she discovers her surprise. He’s waited right to the end to show her how much she means to him.

On page 356, the hero proposes to his girlfriend with a ring hidden in a cake.

And Emma?

Emma is the name of the waitress who carries it.


Delphine is having a clear out. It’s been three months since her husband left and she’s ready for a fresh start.

She has already filled two bin liners with clothes, dithered over whether to keep her wedding photos (not the professional ones, they cost too much to bin, but the ones the guests took – Delphine and her husband had left disposable cameras on every table. The idea had seemed cute at the time), and got rid of all the novels her mother-in-law bought her as gifts. She’s never read a single one.

She moves on to the cupboard under the TV. There are so many DVDs, so many board games – so many things to not have in common with someone. Perhaps it’s no surprise it didn’t work out.

Behind all the DVDs and games though is a box she’d almost forgotten about. A box full of VHS tapes – of home video footage. But this is not footage of weddings, christenings or birthday parties, this is recordings from the bedroom in the first year of marital bliss. It seems incredible that the man she could no longer bear to lay beside, let alone have inside her, was the same man who let her film all these tapes with a second-hand video camera, but somehow that’s the truth. For the first year of their marriage they made the tapes, in the second year they watched them together, and in the third year Delphine watched them alone. Since then, they’ve been forgotten – the thick layer of dust that coats them is testimony to that.

Watching them now is not an option. She no longer has a VHS player, and even if she could find one, on Gumtree or somewhere, she can’t imagine her therapist having anything good to say about her filling her time watching sex tapes of her ex.

And yet. The thought of the videos alone has made her wet. She slicks her fingers between her folds, finds herself drenched. An idea comes, just before she does. Perhaps she doesn’t need to watch them. Perhaps she could just…

She fetches a piece of A4 paper and a Sharpie. In big letters she writes ‘Free to a good home.’ She carries the box downstairs, leaves it next to the bins.

And then she waits.


Caroline likes to make gifts. Sometimes it’s chocolates, sometimes biscuits, occasionally a bottle of sloe gin, but more often than not, it’s pickles.

Her boss, Andy, loves nothing more this a burger, medium rare, with a couple of beers on the side, and although he doesn’t know it yet, Caroline loves Andy so, for his birthday, she has big plans.

She’s found a recipe online. It’s simple – just sugar and vinegar, mainly, but Caroline likes to put her own special touch on stuff – it’s why she took calligraphy classes, so she could make immaculately neat labels.

But for Andy, her plan for personalisation is different. Truth be told, he probably won’t even notice it. She’s certainly not planning to reference it on the list of ingredients.

Normally, she has her groceries delivered, but for Andy, she goes to the supermarket. She chooses carefully – she wants something that’s a good size, sure, but this is for Andy, not for her, so the colour, the firmness, the freshness – all of these things are more important than the length, or even the girth.

She thinks about Andy while she fucks herself with it – thinks about his big hands wrapped around a nice, juicy burger, or clutching a bottle of beer. She comes in just a few minutes, but that’s in keeping with the quick and easy part of the recipe, she supposes.

Then she chops it, douses it with the vinegar and sugar and gets to work decorating the jar.

Pickled cu-cum-bers, she notices, as she carefully spells it out. She’s never spotted that before, but from now on she’ll never see that word any other way.


Amelia is content. It’s been a long time since she felt that way, a long time since she’s been free of the urge to do something – anything – to jeopardise her own happiness.

She’s good at jeopardising her own happiness. She’s always been best at working independently – never was a team player – and this is no different. She doesn’t need to kiss other boys or fuck around on Tinder to throw a perfectly solid relationship into disarray: all she has to do is retreat into her own head.

With Will, she hasn’t had the urge to do that and it makes her feel … good? Does she trust him more because he’s less attractive than other guys she’s been with? Because he’s older? Or because he wears baggy Y-fronts that have gone grey in the wash?

Yeah. One way or the other, he makes her feel safe.

She can hear him now, upstairs in the shower. He’s singing something she can’t quite make out, although listening more carefully, she decides it might be Lana del Rey.


On the table beside the sofa, last weekend’s newspapers – and the ones from the week before – are still piled high. She reaches across to extract one of the glossy supplements, but then she realises that his phone is sitting atop the stack. It would be just like her to send it accidentally crashing to the floor and then have to explain to Will that the cracked screen was the result of her clumsiness, not a fit of jealousy at seeing a message from another woman.

Except. When she picks up the phone to move it, it’s not a message from another woman she sees, but messages. Plural. Ten, at least. Maybe even a dozen.

All from Bonnie.

Whoever Bonnie is, she thinks, she’s verbose as fuck.