Thursday, 24 July 2014

Players only love you when they're playing...

'But when we're together it's so good...then he kind of goes cold.... But he texts me and sends me emails all the time...really flirtatious... I know he likes me. He really does.' So said my good buddy, just before the object player of her affection brought another woman to the work Xmas party and proceeded to canoodle with her in front of my friend for the entire night. Nice. yet she went back for more. Time and again she let this man reel her in and then cast her aside. I sat high up on my happily married pedestal and judged (and also worried for her). One evening at a dinner, having drunk too much wine, I told her exactly what I thought and she refused to speak to me for the night - telling me that I was harsh, and I didn't understand what it was like.

But of course I did - I remembered back on the 6 years I had been single in London and dated all kinds of undesirables. We've all been there, haven't we? Been pursued with a relentlessness that borders on obsessive, felt a sudden chemistry that jolts you into next week, tentatively reciprocated the flirting and then..... nadda. They disappear - off to find the next victim on their ego-filling hit list. 

Once you are in a relationship, living with someone, or married even, you assume that the players of old - the ones that had you reaching for the vodka at 7pm, as you stared at an empty in box or a silent phone, are all in the dim and distant past. The last thing you'd expect is a new one to pitch up in your life, full of charm and chat, trying to schmooze their way into your life.

But that is exactly what happened to me a while back. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly pursued by someone (that at the time) I worked with. At first it was mild - email banter and the odd text. I was flattered, curious and surprisingly, attracted back. This was the thing that unnerved me most - how could I be married, happily and attracted to someone else? I immediately emailed player and told him it would be better to keep the whole thing professional - that whilst I had only been attracted to 2 people in my whole ten years of marriage (the other being Taylor Kitsch, and frankly, if you meet him and aren't smitten - you don't have a pulse) I didn't think it was a good idea to encourage our friendship any further. His reply was hilarious - 'Er, you know I have a girlfriend? And you are married with kids?' Then he ended 'if you ever think you could trust yourself around me to have a pint some time, give me a call.' 

As we say in Ireland, if he was a chocolate bar, he'd've had himself ate.

That, you would have thought would have been that. But still he pursued and for a man who worked with words, his attempts at flirtation where surprisingly cliched and obvious. I was no angel - lapping up this attention, that at the time was lacking in my marriage. But I did tell my Husband everything - and he replied that he was often attracted to others, but as long as I didn't do anything about it - then there was no harm done.

Yet, there was. Because the Player continued and I did nothing to stop him. He asked to meet, reeled me in, even with all his dreadful tactics: staring at me in meetings, always being overtly touchy, taking an interest in various Facebook status updates I wrote... I, foolishly and embarrassingly, let myself be played. Let me be clear though - NOTHING ever happened - I did not have an affair. But emotionally, I definitely moved into a shady area. 

Deep down, I knew the player was a tragic emotional vacuum who was only interested in fuelling his own ego - he had no real depth of feeling for me. I doubt he wanted anything to happen either - to him, it was all just one big game. But, something that had been a silly banter I would joke about with workmates, became larger - and they warned me to be wary - they saw right through him. Thankfully, I am not made for deceit, or webs of lies - I am as honest as the day, so I never crossed a line. But it made me see how fragile we can be, married or not, and how we are all vulnerable to flattery and attention, no matter how immune to it we think we are. 

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I left the job, moved on with my life, Husband changed jobs, we re-focused on us, on our family and I am in a much happier place now. We finally have weekends together and can make plans, we eat dinner together, he nightly bathes our Sproglets. 

So I learnt a valuable lesson - that I wasn't sitting on some smug married perch, immune to all the nightmares that single folk have to endure in the dating wilderness. That marriage takes work - that those vows once spoken wearing a lovely white frock, are in fact, pretty damn difficult at times to adhere to. That we are all fallible, that we all can make mistakes. 

I look back with shame, on that night with my friend, when she was teary and angry at my lack of empathy, my cool judgement on her yo-yo 'relationship.' If I could go back, I'd shut my mouth, fill her glass and give her a massive hug. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Sorry, blame it on the heat. (The ridiculous cloying, energy sapping, damp humidity that plagues us all).  Maybe my hormones (Raging). Whatever. Let me share with you all the hottest man model on the planet. He is a cross between Jesus and Brad Pitt.


See what I mean? 


Sometimes, it feels as if Richard Linklater's films are speaking only to me. Like he magically transported himself into my mind and read my thoughts, my worries, my grumblings.

When I walked out of Before Midnight last year, I stopped on route home to get wine, determined to smugly announce to my Husband that Linklater, Hawke and Delpy had proved that I was NOT mad after all. That the fight we had had that very day had just played out on screen.

Tonight I watched his latest film - and ultimately his best - Boyhood. Shot over 39 days, over a time spanning 12 years, it covers a young boy Mason's transition from boy to man. Or 6 year old to college boy at least. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but it is utterly incredible. Just visually stunning - to witness this boy grow literally before our eyes. The script ambles along at it's own leisurely pace, taking us along for the joyous ride. Warm, moving, funny and smart - it is almost feels like we are watching a lifetime of home movies, rather than a crafted film. So intimate, so real.

Ethan Hawke plays Mason's feckless Dad, who has a heart of gold buried underneath his teenage-style muso ambitions. He is incredible. As is Patricia Arquette, as the softly spoken hard-working Mom who makes ends meet and meets dead end men. Meanwhile Linklater's own daughter Lorelei is just astonishing - growing from precocious child to thoughtful adult.

Ellar Coltrane as Mason is nothing short of mesmerising - his huge blue eyes just aching with all the angst of growing up, surviving, loving, losing and all the rest. As I watched his pudgy years slip away, and acne begin, facial hair appear as his voice breaks - all I could think of was Sproglet and how every second he slips through my fingers a little more. It made me want to stand in front of Father time and tell him to take a hike. I just wanted to relish every single second, before it disappeared.

I wish I could define why I loved it so: and yet, I am at a loss for words. There is no other film quite like it - save the fantastic 7 up series on ITV, charting kids lives from the 60s. But this is contained within one family - and all it's disfunction.

At it's heart, the message, spelt out in the final scene (not a spoiler I promise) is to seize the moment - or it in fact seizes us. If there was ever a film that advocated that we cherish every second of life, the good and the bad bits - I have yet to see it. At over 2 and a half hours long, some critics may mock that we age along with it - but for me, there was never a dull moment.

Linklater's gift is to make us feel included in this family, to champion and cherish all the times we get to spend with them - to love them like he clearly does. Then it reminds us, to look around us and do exactly that with our own.  This is nothing short of brilliant.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Babbling away

Hello there, fine reader.

Someone tweeted me, saying they are missing my writing. Thing is - I am writing. Just not here. but I am writing over there at Babble - and loving every minute of it. Cos you see Babble have changed their remit - and instead of whacking up some pics of a star and a blurb about their toned bod, they are interested in a bit of debate and opinion and all that jazz. Right up CM's street!

So far, I've asked if Robin Thicke deserved all the abuse he got on twitter (it was hilarious abuse mainly),  if the ultimate celebrity sin is being fat? (Apparently so). How I wish Bert and Ernie were gay... and how we could all be putting down our daughters without even really realising it... (The Bert and Ernie one will be live on Monday). Still to come, a TV show where folk meet for the first time at the altar (YES really - only in America) and whether or not we should take the blame for our kids' happiness/unhappiness in later life. Who knows the answers to all these questions - I just like trying to work it all out...

Plus, I've been working on some of my own stuff for other projects I am grafting away at... So I haven't been slacking in the whole 18 hours a week I am child free.

The school summer hols are almost upon me, so I will probably be blogging more then, out of stress and angst and hating British summers... and being with my kids 24/7... Blogging, or maybe drinking. Or both.

I'm feeling particularly chilled today as I had some fab acupuncture. It was ace - apart from the moment where she jabbed the needle in my palm and an electric shock flew across my hand and down my ring finger. I looked at the woman like she had tried to kill me. Unblocked energy moving around apparently. Just in quite a violent way... The sun is shining and I'm feelin' pretty chipper with the world. This year has been a year of change - good ones: Husband's new job, my new way of living/working. While I may not be makin' millions, I am feeling a lot less stressed. Maybe that's why I've blogged less - blogging usually being borne out of my terror/stress/anxiety/fear etc. I'm in a better place, better mindset than I was at the start of the year.

This week past, I had a Mum's event to go to - and at a Mum's house. In the past I dreaded things like that - being not a very confident Mother (whatever that means). Plus, at those things you can't just get hammered to get through them, or cut up the dance floor, or flirt with the barman. You have to go and be polite and not say the C word and all that stuff. I surprised myself by having a ball. One woman, a make-up artist, was demonstrating techniques on another mum - getting a make-up makeover. It reminded me of my days as a kids' tv presenter - when I spent every morning in a the make-up chair -  the days I spent idling away several hours in Mac looking at glittery eyeshadows. As we chatted over wine, so spilled forth a few stories. One Mum turned to me and said, 'You've lived haven't you?'

It reminded me of that old cliche - life aint a sprint - it's a marathon. And, whilst occasionally I run out of juice, and maybe my trainers are too old and tight - the one thing I know, is that I have had a blast along the way. So, as I looked out across this woman's fab garden - 10 times the size of mine, with vegetable patch and decking and a driveway to boot, I swallowed back my house envy and toasted my own life instead. I wouldn't swap it for the world.

Monday, 7 July 2014


Yesterday, as I walked along a path way from a Devon beach with an old buddy, discussing the fact we are now, officially middle aged (as much as that horrifies me, it is in fact true) he laughed and said, 'it doesn't get better than this.' I was squelching along, sand forming a small ridge in my birkenstocks, a wetsuit clinging to every curve and seawater dripping from by bedraggled locks onto my sunburnt face and I realised he was completely right.

We'd arrived on Friday night, to the inevitable rain that always accompanies any type of vacation on UK soil. The house we were staying at was the type that you pick out online 'incase I win the lottery.' Airy, spacious, huge kitchen replete with an island as big as my own kitchen at home - with massive sofas, tonnes of windows and stylishly simple white walls dotted with fabulous art. 7 adults, 8 kids and still it felt massively roomy. I honestly wished never to leave. The garden led to treehouses, barns filled with a play stage, table tennis table and a disco glitter ball, and rolling hills. Utterly peaceful, blissfully quiet. I barely saw my kids as ran around, playing football and cricket and chess and feeding the two happy as larry pigs who grunted around the place. Sproglette fell in love with my old schoolmate's youngest son and for our entire stay one was never seen without the other following close behind. She sobbed her heart out when she left him, despite the fact she was calling him 'that boy' rather than his name throughout the stay. I guess she was playing the 'treat 'em mean' game...

Anyway, it was a weekend filled with sunshine and beer, cold rose and magnificent feasts, laughter, games and sea air. There was a moment when I was in the sea, jumping as the thick waves rolled in carrying me up and under, and I looked up at the sky and thanked whoever was there - for my blessings. As clich├ęd as it sounds, I felt at my happiest. Husband says I am always at my happiest when I am with my old school muckers and their other halves. The history, the ease, the comfort.

Yesterday had started with sunshine, then segued into stormy rain and still, in true Brit fashion - we all headed to the beach. One mate said, 'it will get worse before it gets better' - his prediction for all in life. He was damn well right - by the time we got to the beach - the sun split the skies. My daughter dug up half the beach, my son messed about in the sea. My friends kids - 3 Aussies, braved the cold sea with boogie boards and wet suits. Then we all headed for sunday roasts and the Wimbeldon final on tv. As we went to leave, my son was glum, his sweet face set, his big eyes watery. He desperately wanted to stay. Sproglette had tears tripping down her face as she refused to hug her new boyfriend goodbye - I assume in denial at the enforced separation. My other friend's youngest son came over to give me a pirate hug - one that squeezes you so tightly, it is like they will never let go. In that moment, with tears spilling out my own eyes, it was exactly what I needed.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Still here...

I haven't blogged much of late. Not for any ominous reasons - just haven't felt like it. There is always something more pressing to be done - or I've kind of felt like blogging about something inane, or just a two minute rant, nothing that particularly tickled my fancy. You know those kind of months that just slide on past you - and there is nothing really worthy of note, nothing major to go - oh yes, that was mega/exciting/insightful/insane - I MUST blog about that. Mind you since Prince, nothing could quite be as exciting as that... *sighs*

And yet. Great things happened - all in the little moments. Like:

1. Husband and Sproglet bonded over world cup games (as an aside - wasn't that Brazil v Chile match insanely good tonight?) and Sproglet was BEYOND excited to stay up and watch England's second game. He watched the first part at our mate Dave's house - along with Dave's older son who is Sproglet's age. Sproglet used his birthday money to buy them gifts (unbeknownst to me - on Dad's watch) of football stickers and a slinky - later telling me that 'it is nice to give give things to people.' Bless him. He also stressed when he discovered another kid was having a birthday party on the same day as his - worried when he heard that out of 4 kids invited to both parties, 3 were coming to his. He didn't want the other kid to feel bad. My son amazes me all the time - and before you think I am up my own arse about how great my kid is - remember I also have Sproglette, who doesn't give a fuck what anyone thinks and decrees the world should jump to her tune - so trust me, it aint down to my parenting skills, that my son is such a nice kid. The Diva (as I also call her) complained that 'you serve corn every day for dinner. I have had enough.' (Not true). She also stood naked at the top of the stairs when a little boy she loved left after a play date - sobbing and begging him to 'come in the bath pleeeassseeee, or have a sleepover in my bed.' Her technique with boys has GOT to change...

2. Husband and I had a couple of epic rows and then he got his hair cut and I kind of swooned a bit. He is still quite cute in a certain light. Marriage is so freakin' tough - and I wish more folk talked about it and admitted how they'd love to be 21 again at a bad disco kissing some hot boy who they met 5 minutes ago, downing shots - but at the same time, don't want to be anywhere else.

3. Something I was working on wasn't working - so, after fretting a bit -  I threw it to one side and began something else, which is nearly completed! I sent it to a couple of people whose opinions I value and trust - and who I knew wouldn't dress it all up in cotton wool - they'd lay it on the table straight... Taking the time to read my work, be supportive and to be encouraging (and complimentary thank the lord) - really made my month. That, along with a few other moments made me realise - again - that giving people your time is the best thing you can give them. Which is also why, I'm only giving it to people who add value to my life. Life is too freakin' short.

4. I found a red lipstick that works after all. By Nars - called Cruella. Fabulous. I also got a woman to bleach me into next week - I am BLONDER than ever. I love it.

5. Told you it wasn't exciting stuff - why are you still reading? Although today I read a fab interview with Ethan Hawk who had struggled in his career with the fact he had/has the ability to do commercial work - that more people saw The Purge (some dire horror) on the opening night than would have seen the entire Before trilogy (which I loved). But the artistic stuff never pays the child support. He clearly has wrestled between fulfilling his artistic desires or paying the mortgage. He envied Brad Pitt being able to do a Malick film - and everyone paying to see it - i.e. that Pitt can do artistic films that DO make money... It interested me no end because one never images Hollywood stars (though I think Hawke would loathe being called that) struggling in any way... He also said he thought he'd hit a 'magical place' at 23 or 28 - when you find yourself - but instead it has been a slog and he said he felt like 'a cat, I keep having to survive and land on my feet.' It oddly made me feel less alone.

6. Babble axed 50% of their writers, but kept me on. They are focusing on less quantity and more quality - which thrills me. Hoo-rah. Blogging is a joy - when you have something to say...

7. I realised that I love cake and food and wine and life too much to ever seriously diet. Plus every woman (bar one) that I know, who lost drastic amounts of weight - immediately looked about 10 years older facially. If I have to chose between my face or belly - I go face - and the plus side is I get to eat cake too. I've started running more to try and balance this out - it de-stresses me - but the first 15 minutes are worse than having a smear test. Really.

8. The constructed reality show I've been working on is about to end - and I'm sad as it has been hilarious - more fun than I ever imaged, to do. It has also made me insanely grateful to NOT be in that era where you are seeing someone but it isn't 'exclusive' and 'he says he doesn't want a relationship and I don't want a relationship either... but we are sleeping together and I think he really likes me so what does that mean' bollox. Just a minefield. How do folk date?

9. Nothing in the world is better than a cold beer and salt and vinegar kettle chips at the end of a long day. Nothing.

10. Jack Thorne's 'Let the Right One In' is nothing short of amazing. Go see. Better and funnier than the original film.

See, nothing major, nothing of note. I promise not to blog again until I have something vaguely interesting to say.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Play that funky music...

                                   The empty stage - raw and ready. Who needs gimmicks?

It begins in those teen years. You pick your band, your singer, your hero, your 'team' and that is it. Hooked for life. Unshakable loyalty to the bitter end. Those tortured years filled with endless growing pains are made marginally easier simply by playing their music... the stylus getting stuck in a groove, the vinyl warping with over-use.  You know every word, every note - have poured over the inside sleeve to memorise all the B-sides... Their names are scrawled on your study files, their posters adorn your walls. Nothing comes close to the years when you have the time and the pocket money to worship so religiously, to devote yourself so entirely to one hero.

It began for me in '84 and I only wish my teenage self could have imaged just how close she'd be to her god, 30 years later.

I went alone, but wasn't worried - with fellow tweeters telling me where the gig would happen and how to get tickets - there was a general comradeship amongst the fans: selling tickets at face value to others, trying to help people lay their hands on golden tickets etc. I immediately met a couple next to me - turns out they were brother and sister (later it turns out they know old mates of mine in York and even my cousin!). They offered me a tin of gin and tonic - all terribly civilised now that most fans are 30 plus... I queued from maybe 4:30 - doors opened at 5:30 and even had time to get drinks - and still was 3 people from the front.  This, my 4th ever Prince gig - was the first I had to don my specs!  My new BFFs had never seen him before and were beyond excited - but even they weren't prepared for the epic-ness of the next 2 hours...

A little after 7pm out he came (heels, natch). The intimate crowd went nuts and he kicked off with a string of hits - one segueing into the next. I could see every single expression on his amused face - behind two blonde women who had even seen him gig at Paisley Park, at his home. Turns out he drinks 'Prince water.' AMAZING.

For the next two hours, it was nothing short of electric. Here's the thing about his purpleness: he aint in it for the fame (1D) the pretentiousness (Coldplay) the money (U2 - and before you berate me, where does Bono store his cash? Hmmm methinks Monaco...) - he is in it purely to get his funk on. He is up there on stage having the time of his life - he loves the music, is lost in the moment. 3rd Eye Girl were everything the Revolution were and then some. These kick ass women were incredible - especially Donna Grantis (sweating to death in a sprayed on leather catsuit) on lead guitar. His first encore ended with an 8 minute Purple Rain guitar solo - the crowd woo hoo hooing with all their might. At that point the tears came and all I could think was 'please please let this not be the last time I ever see you play.' Prince is 56 next week and here is is playing for over 4 hours at 2 gigs in the same night... What if he never returns to these shores again? And boy is he tiny. I think if I hugged him I would squeeze him to death. His afro is easily as big as the rest of him.

                                                 Prince climbing on a speaker (as you do).

There were hits galore, a string of less well known songs for the hard core fans and an amazing version of Joni Mitchell's 'a case of U.' Frequently he referred to himself in third person, even asking if 'Prince should play that funky music?' He updated Kiss from 'Dynasty' to 'Real Housewives...' His second encore felt like it was almost just for him... as he pounded the keyboard, then picked up his guitar, even twiddling the odd nob on stage. Then he stood and thanked us all in a heartfelt manner, clutching his chest and saying 'I will never forget tonight.' (According to other fans he hasn't done that this year at any other gig). He came back on stage and released a handful of purple and white balloons, they soared up to the roof and then he was gone.

We left and envied the crowd busting to get in for show 2. As I walked through the Camden puddles I felt immense love for my husband who had said, '£80 a ticket? It is PRINCE Suzanne. Go! He is your icon.' He was right. Never in all my life have I been to such a gig. Yes, the crowd all looked a bit knackered towards the end - everyone mainly over 40 and thinking about long journeys home; yes, it has been manys a moon since Prince had his hay day - the topless oiled days are gone, replaced by polo necks and bizarre tabards, BUT no one comes close when performing. No one can whip a crowd into the same frenzy - some 30 years later.

It began in '84, on a tape deck, my step-sister having recorded the charts and 'Let's go Crazy' was in at no.4. All I ask, Prince, is please don't let last night be the end....

                                                        3 heads from the front. Amen.