Shazia’s week

A crowd of Nobel Peace Prize winners and my lust for John Major.

A few days ago the Nobel Women’s Initiative held its first international conference in Galway, Ireland.

Six Nobel Peace Prize winners gathered for an event called Women Redefining Peace in the Middle East and Beyond. On their last night they had a dinner and dance. I was the entertainment.

Many of the women couldn’t speak English, so my set was translated into Arabic, Farsi and Spanish. My jokes have never seemed less funny. I have enough trouble with my first language – my ill-conceived ideas and Frankie Howerd-style innuendo don’t travel far beyond Watford, never mind the Middle East.

At dinner I sat next to the great Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting human rights in Iran. After meeting her I decided to avoid all jokes about cocaine, shoplifting from Oxfam and stalking men.

I always worry about performing at women’s things. These women were hardcore feminists: I felt like Pamela Anderson at a physics convention. I wondered, “How butch should I be?” One woman was wearing camouflaged army dungarees, wellington boots and a tank top. There wasn’t a whiff of Chanel anywhere. I quickly threw off my Manolos, smudged my make-up, and walked in looking like I’d just been dug up with cement still on my face. I didn’t want to let the sisterhood down.

The gig began, though the laughter didn’t start until ten minutes later, like a very long satellite delay. When I was on joke number six, they were still laughing at joke number one. The Farsi translator had difficulty finding the word for “pound-shop hoodie”, so she demonstrated it physically. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an Iranian woman doing impressions of Snoop Dog, but it turned out to be funnier than the actual joke.

This was overcompensated for by the rowdy enthusiasm of a table of American lesbians who all looked like Mr T. They particularly appreciated my stories about women with moustaches. Some jokes need no translation.

The tone changed when I mentioned how much I fancy John Major. They gave me daggers, as if to say: “Stop right there, sister – there are limits.” Lesbians are always very supportive, until you start talking about the men you fancy. Conclusion: I think instead of helping the peace process, I have confused it.

I have decided to have my garden done. My friend Christine recommended a man called Bob, who comes over to do odd jobs such as turning my mattress, hanging up mirrors and cleaning my taps. Bob has been round three times now and I suspect he likes either me or my house. I don’t know anything about men. A man could rip my clothes off and sit on my face and I’d think – why’s he doing that? Bob is actually quite pleasant. I feel safe despite the large skull-and-crossbones tattoo across his neck.

Recently he’s started to call me with meaningless stories about garden brochures and his van’s MOT. It’s not so much the brochures and the van that worry me, but the lingering looks he gives me when I walk downstairs in my fleece jogging bottoms and 10am shadow. I’m thinking I should dress like this more often.

I wish I could read the signals people send when they like each other. My antennae are dormant. When I like someone, I just stare at them, follow them home and sit in my car looking up at their window all night.

Bob was round last week and my alarm clock went off. My parents bought me this clock from Bahrain. The alarm sound is the Muslim prayer call. As it went off he looked frightened and disturbed and asked where I’d got it from. I said, “Argos.” He quickly gathered his tools and said, “I’ve got to be off now.”

I haven’t heard from Bob since. I think he’s gone off to redefine the peace process in the Middle East.