Shoe, Prosecco or willy joke: The six types of birthday card for women

DESPITE it being 2023 there are barely any birthday cards for women which aren’t pink and don’t set feminism back by a decade. Like these:


You don’t own a pair of high heels and rarely wear anything other than trainers but this won’t stop your mum sending you a card with a stiletto on it. Is this a sly dig at your perceived lack of femininity or just panic in the card shop? Probably a bit of both.


Men get beer cards and women get sparkly Prosecco or gin cards. That’s the natural way of the world. The sender obviously thinks that you’re a bit of an alcoholic, but in a fun girly way, which makes it glamorous rather than worrying.

Willy joke

There’s some very sophisticated humour out there nowadays but sadly it hasn’t reached the greetings card industry, which still thinks a cartoon of a penis and the phrase ‘Have a willy great birthday!’ is the height of hilarity. It’s the sort of thing your auntie thinks is a bit of a giggle, while you’re cringing yourself inside out.

Food guilt

Different from the borderline-alcoholic Prosecco card, this genre covers faux-cheery statements like ‘Calories don’t count on your birthday!’. Nothing says ‘celebration’ like a bit of body-shaming. Usually sent by a friend who has been doing Weight Watchers for the last decade.

You’re old

Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of mild abuse on their birthday, especially the type that reminds you you’re rapidly hurtling towards the end of your finite years on this planet? This type of card usually says something like ‘Ha ha, you’re an old twat’ and will be sent by a younger sibling.

Baffling ‘With sympathy’ card

Despite your dad’s strong denials, the evidence suggests he did in fact forget your birthday and fished this out from the back of a drawer. It’s the thought that counts, though, even if the pre-printed message in the card says ‘Thinking of you at this difficult time’.

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Fish pedicures, and other stuff that vanished without you noticing

FISH pedicures were everywhere, until they vanished so thoroughly you feel crazy for insisting they existed. Along with these former commonplaces:

Car anti-static strips

In the late 80s and early 90s, Britain was very conscious of the dangers of static build-up. We’d all seen neighbours launched 15ft into the air from the static charge of a Ford Granada. So we all affixed short trailing strips to the back of our cars to earth them. And, at some unspecified point, each of us individually realised this was bollocks.

Fish pedicures

Those years when fish would eat dead skin off your feet in a shopping mall feel like an intrusion from another reality. You wouldn’t have believed it beforehand and you don’t believe it happened now. And it turns out disgusting warm tubs of fish in a former Dolcis aren’t that safe and you could get hep C.


Tech experts were sceptical when the iPad was launched. ‘What’s the point?’ they said, as we bought them and loved them in our tens of millions. We never admitted the experts were right. We just quietly never replaced them or gave them to kids.

Pulled pork

Just a few years ago we insisted our pork was pulled. Nobody would go near unpulled pork. Did the pandemic kill it? Will it come up at the Covid inquiry? Nowadays we don’t give a shit, a great relief for those who never knew what pulling pork involved and it was too late to ask.

In-flight entertainment

Describing a crap Drew Barrymore romcom as ‘the kind of film you watch on a plane’ still makes sense, just about, even though all those tiny seatback screens vanished, unnoticed and unmourned, about a decade or so ago. Along with ten million pairs of crappy airplane headphones that we’ve thoughtfully buried in landfill for future generations.

School Discos

Not the actual thing for actual kids, but men and women dressing as schoolchildren, getting pissed and snogging each other, which is so psychologically transparent the 00s phenomenon presumably died of shame. Were you unpopular at school? Are you trying to make up for it? Is this a distinctly noncey concept for a night out?