Part 91: The Biological Clock


For a significant period of my life – like, from the moment I heard about it, circa 1993, up until the week before last – I presumed the biological clock (that thing that makes women of a certain age go totally mental up until they have a baby or, erm, channel their maternal instincts into dressing puppies in Halloween costumes) was a fictive device. I thought the concept was invented by the people who made Look Who’s Talking – pretty much entirely so they could include that scene with Kirsty Alley clinging to the hands of a massive timepiece, dangling precariously over traffic somewhere in New York.

Turns out I was wrong (as is almost never the case). The ticking of the biological clock is a real thing (in as much as a metaphor can be a real thing) that I am actually experiencing the effects of. Therefore I have decided to temporarily depart from the customary formula of hilarity and wisdom I offer here (you know the score: I introduce a subject and then I say why the subject’s a cast iron reason to remain alone forever and ever) and tell you all about my biological clock symptoms in the second person, so you can relate to them, because a) they’re quite intense and b) fuck it, this is my blog and, as I’ve said before, it’s one of the few places where I can do whatever I want with minimal consequences.

So, without further ado:

As anyone who’s familiar with the concept of the biological clock will know, its main symptom is this: it makes you want babies. It makes you want them in a physical, primal way that means you have to stop yourself from tearing cute ones out of prams when their parents’ backs are turned. Whereas once you found the idea of babies pleasant in an abstract way – as you currently find the idea of buying a cottage in Sussex and moving there to write a novel pleasant – now your need for them is solid and bodily; like the pulsing desperation of being trapped in a moving car and needing a wee and realising there’s nowhere convenient to pull over.

Also, you dream about babies a lot. Some of the dreams are dark and weird – such as the one where you have to throw fat bellied toddlers into a swimming pool to sate the hungry crocodile. And some of them are tragic in their mundanity – such as the one where you fall pregnant with the grandchild of a woman called Jane who works in your office, and you enjoy feeding the baby from your swollen, milky breasts but find you can’t quite remember his name.

Oddly enough though, many of the effects of the biological clock are not obviously to do with babies at all – though they do help you to make sense of the ‘clock’ metaphor. For example, the buzzing feeling you get when you’re due on your period (please only dispute the reality of this if you are not taking hormonal contraceptives, which, despite the manufacturers best efforts to persuade you otherwise, stop you from having proper menstrual periods) starts to feel a lot like the fast, rhythmic ticking of a clock’s second-hand. Also, you become acutely aware of time. You find yourself waking up each morning and thinking, ‘fuck. It’s August 2013. I’m twenty-nine years and eight months old. I haven’t had sex for over a year and I am earning less money than I did when I was seventeen and worked weekends at the Holiday Inn. What in the name of Jesus am I doing with my finite life?’

You will struggle to reconcile your past decisions – which included repeatedly rejecting men who wanted to have babies with you, when you were in your early twenties and life had fooled you into thinking that you were in charge – with your life as it now stands. You will scour your social groups for men who would be willing to offer donor sperm, and who are both healthy and hot enough to qualify as viable sperm donors.

You will drink a lot of red wine, and whisky. You will wonder whether your fledgling alcoholism is a result or a cause of your failure to procreate. You will frequently be convinced that you are having a nervous breakdown. But it’s alright, because, at some point during this spiral of ostensible madness, you’ll watch an 80s movie, remember the existence of the biological clock and realise that you are as sane as you ever were. Then you’ll drink some more red wine, eat a mini magnum and watch a couple of episodes of Phone Shop on 4od. Breathe. You are only 29. There’s plenty. Of. Time.

*image by Salvatore Vuono at


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