Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Great Expectations...

So how was it for you? Xmas that is? Did Santa deliver? Were your high expectations met? Did you feel that the christmassy moment buried deep within your heart spilled out and overflowed with goodwill to all? No? me neither.

Two nights ago I was at the DVD store (I still call it the Video store but whatever) chatting to the welcoming geek behind the counter - his words not mine - about our respective Xmasses. His was 'horror.' Mine was fine. Husband cooked a lovely meal. Sproglet got more toys (great - all 'musical') than you could shake a stick at, we lit the fire, drank champagne, stuffed our faces, ate too much chocolate, played on the Wii and all politely had a good time. There was nothing wrong, not even the usual friction that is obligatory between my Mother and I - but it just didn't fill my heart with exploding joy - and why should it? Thing is, every year we work ourselves into a frenzy of 'must have perfect house, great gifts, good food, there must be laughter and cheer and ... and... and... everything!!!' But does the day itself ever deliver? Has it ever really since we spotted Dad under the tree rearranging Santa deliveries?? Video store boy spent it with his dad's new family and his step-siblings who are like something straight out of Deliverance. He recoiled in shock as he spoke of his step-bro's racism and homophobia (a closet if ever there was one it sounds) and his miserable step-sis who wouldn't even speak - perhaps a blessing. The poor lad looked distraught as he told of his descent into the abyss of depression on 'the happiest day of the year.'

My new year's motto is to have less expectation that everything will turn into a Hallmark card just because it is meant to. I plan to stress way less. I'm not quite sure how to achieve this yet - but I am determined to try. My life has become an OCD stressathon where I worry about the house, my finances, my son's development, what to have for dinner, does my boss like me, can I do my job, when to replace the dripping fridge, do I need petrol, have I remembered so and so's b'day, will I make it to the nursery on time - every day. I need to give myself a break - chill a bit - just accept things and move on. I have turned into Bree Vandercamp without the glossy hair - and it is frightening!

So that coupled with a pledge to lose the 10 pounds that have settled comfortably on my hips and tummy - are my resolutions. I know it is so goddamn tiresome to have them as they are there to be broken - but as much as I loathe new year (high expectation event if ever there was one) it is a time to wave goodbaye to bad habits, shitty years, unmended hearts etc - and focus on today. Not even tomorrow. Maybe watching sproglet's Kung Fu Panda for the millionth time since Xmas is rubbing off on me...

Have a good one - see you on the other side. Oh last one - to blog more often - promise!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

I am alive - just!!

I have not died. I am still crummy. But Sproglet knocked the laptop off the sofa and we have been without one for about 6 weeks now. After haggling and more haggling and er... getting nowhere with those lovely insurance folk at Axa - we are getting a new laptop next week... I will rejoin the cyber world again...

It has been manic manic manic MANIC at work and what with Xmas (oh god - it should be bi-annual no?) and small child and gift shopping and Relate and wrapping gifts and buying chairs and hen dos (am too old for that kind of malarkey now) I haven't had a chance to write.

So this is a simple - hello - I am here, well, frazzled and will be back for a pre-Xmas rant if possible. Promise it'll be a goodie.

Is it wrong that we have bought Sproglet a dance mat - as his sense of rhythm is kind of like a slo-mo Stevie Wonder crossed with acid user - purely to laugh at... I mean with him?

So... have a great chrimble - hope you survive it and my tip is just to drink through it - and don't miss EastEnders (natch).

Must dash I have something to stuff, wrap, wipe or decorate...


Saturday, 8 November 2008

Eternal juggling

What the hell did I do with my money and time before I had Sproglet? I think I ate out all the time, took cabs, had long wine fuelled phonecalls, compared martinis across hotel bars in London lay in my bed (oh to have a lie-in)read more books, bought products that I didn't need and heels I actually got to wear.

Cut to now. My life has lost all spontaneity, and is an endless rush to and from work, nursery and Sainsburies. I have no money, live in flats, am too exhausted for phone chats and haven't had a martini way back when. I'm not bitter that my life has stopped being about glam restaurants and sexy bars and is now a fraught hour in Pizza Express with a pooey nappy break. My beauty regime is remembering to take off my mascara and shave my pits once a week rather than a cleanse, tone, steam and scrubathon of yester year.

Obviously I wouldn't swop life post Sproglet for life pre - but feck me, I am knackered. Every morning getting out of the house feels like a production in itself -a swirl of teeth brushing, wetting bed hair, cereal across the floor and shoes on beds. I achieve more before 9am these days than I used to in a week.

My mate Hannah rang me last week with overflowing guilt about not being a better friend/being in touch/sending birthday cards etc etc. We made a present amnesty to stop buying gifts for each other's kids as it was becoming a chore rather than a joy and an added stress to our already stressful lives as full time working mothers. Hannah admitted that she felt as if she was failing in all areas - as a friend, mother, wife, colleague, worker, daughter etc etc. Now Hannah to me is simply Wonderwoman. An amazing teacher, brilliant Mother, top friend and the best cook I know. Yet she was beating herself to a pulp. I admitted that recently I have felt the same - like I was just keeping my head above water and sometimes sinking under...

I wake up with lists dashing round my head - buy a birthday card, pay the nursery, buy milk, remember tampax, get scripts, have we run out of raisins, I should facebook Chris about our NY visit, I must call bank about going over my overdraft limit, did I switch off the heating, has Finn brushed his teeth etc etc I never feel like I get on top of anything and am constantly wondering when it will all collapse in a heap. This week was a tough one at work. I got screamed at my a frustrated writer - who vented all their anger at me. Tired, stressed and at the end of my tether I tearfully rang a friend at work - Caroline - who was brilliant and soothing and supportive. Word went round my fellow workers and they all were incredibly protective and helpful the next day - which is so great - because when your head is swimming and you feel kicked when you are down - having people become like a human blanket to you is very comforting indeed.

Anyway, I digress. By Friday I was melted down - ready to curl under a blanket and just watch X factor and read papers and do jack all, all weekend. I had a kid's party to attend today (Sproglet loved it) and one tomorrow that would have involved a 3 hour drive (alone) which I sadly declined. I felt like a crap friend. But I swear I am spent - physically and emotionally - I just need a break. My body craves the comfoting needles and drops from my acupuncturist saint-like woman Mary and about a months sleep. Memo to self - buy some multi-vitamins... I have no idea how some women manage to juggle everything and still look amazing, cook up masterpieces, claim to have sizzling sex lives, have immaculate houses and never forget a birthday. I hate these women!!! I feel like I am spread thinner than lo-fat butter on Victoria Beckham's gluten-free toast on a morning. I need to have a word with myself and work out I can't be all things to all people but somehow I still try.

Thank god I escape to NY this week... for a much needed break. I can't wait to wander in Central Park with a coffee and just breattthhhhhhheeee... I won't have much money, but hell I'll have time - and that sounds pretty damn good to me.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Happy Halloween!!!!

No I haven't been kidnapped by aliens or run off with the circus - I'm just a full time working Mother now and boy does that rain on the old free time parade. But I am back - in time to wish you all a very Happy Hallowe'en. What tricks or treats do you have in store? I just don't get how folk cannot be enamored with All Hallow's Eve. When I was growing up in Belfast - Halloween was a big deal - you saved your pocket money religiously to buy Bengal matches, sparklers and indoor fireworks (that stank the house out and almost gave you 3rd degree burns but when the snake thingy grew out of a small pink tablet or the mini volcano erupted it was worth it). We had no interest in Guy Fawkes Night - that was seen as an English celebration and besides, mid Troubles, the fireworks were banned save that some poor sod would assume that folk were bombing the house next door...

Halloween gave us a full week off school (once I spent the entire week trying to catch falling leaves as I heard for each leaf caught a wish was granted) toffee apples, costumes, carved out pumpkins and best of all - Trick or Treating - otherwise known as the cash cow. A tuneless rendition of 'Halloween is coming the geese are getting fat... ' would entice the kindly neighbour whose bell we had rung relentlessly to part with fifty pence, ten pence, or maybe the flutter of a pound note (no £1 coins in those old days) to get rid of us pronto. With necks of brass, we would call at every door up and down the neighbour hood, swinging our lantern that would stay lit for all of ten seconds and straightening our wonky masks. Those that offered apples or money nuts would be met with a disappointed grunt; a mental note made that this house deserved thunder and lightening played on them daily for the next 2 weeks (ringing their bell and running off). All we were really interested on was the cold hard cash. I remember my mate Mandy and I making £18 between us one Halloween - in the days where pocket money was 20p a week - this was akin to winning the lottery!

Now that I am a grown up (of sorts) my enthusiasm for all things spooky remains undaunted. I spent my last fiver on a set of fetching pumpkin lights that decorate my desk at work. When work mates trundle past my desk they will be rewarded with sweets shaped like human body parts. My son will go to nursery tomorrow dressed as a fetching pirate and I will have tat galore decorated around the house in celebration. Have you noticed how much Halloween related junk you can buy these days? Torches shaped like eyeballs, skeleton lights and liquid filled novelty green tongues... fabulous. In short I love this holiday as I can be a child again. I'm thinking of solving my own credit crisis with a spot of Trick or Treating. Anyone?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Maternity leave - can I leave it until now please?

Two friends had babies at the weekend - both boys. Both already had sons. My step-sister had a baby girl last Monday. Cue lots of pics of sweet wrinkled squished wee bunnies - all blotchy and new, mewing and snuffling as they splutter through their shiny new days on this earth. What long days they are... feeding round the clock, our bits healing, your body recoiling from the onslaught of birth - leaking and swollen, a shadow of it's former self.

I don't envy those first few weeks - to me they were hell on wheels. Second time around is never so difficult (apparently) - by then you have (hopefully) grown Mother's balls and no longer feel the fear of venturing further than a metre from the comfort of home and steady supply of wipes. You are immune to the dirty looks in Starbucks from career women chatting merrily about holidays and designer wear over coffee; from the sniggers of teenage boys as you buy maternity pads at the chemist and when you say the words 'nipple shields' with absolutely no hint of embarrassment in front of the ten deep queue in Boots you know you are in a new zone. Frankly, you don't give a fuck. You've been there, done it and can no longer fit into the T shirt.

These are meant to be the golden days - filled with baby bonding, sweet smells and Mommy lunches with the gals. In reality the washing machine never stops, your house looks like invaded Basra, your daily scent is crusted vomit and you are so tired you hallucinate that Josh Harnett is the milkman. (Not that you would be up for anything frisky with him even if he was - christ let no man go near there again!) No bra fits as your milk comes, nay, charges, in - you have begun sporting weird pigment spots on your face and you haven't washed your hair in over a week. You would sell your soul to the devil for 5 hours straight sleep and every time you open your wardrobe all you can see are a row of clothes mocking you - they may as well belong to Kate Moss they look so damn tiny. Golden days my ass.

God is certainly a man. Because if he wasn't this birth business would be a piece of cake - we women would pop them out and stride back into work a la Phoebe in the dream sequence episode of Friends, leaving the spew, sleep deprivation and complete loss of life (let's not even mention how isolating the whole experience can be) to men. Then, when the bunny turns two - all cute with new words and activities every day - THAT is when we can take our much loved maternity time. Sooo much more fun. Take sproglet to the jungle gym place filled with coloured balls; take sproglet for lunch and dare to have a glass of wine; read books, have afternoon baths, bake cakes, ice biscuits etc etc - all jolly fun. So much more fun than the 'golden days.'

Sproglet is so much fun these days I find it genuinely hard to leave him. Ok, not so much when he is throwing the king of all strops in Waitrose, lying on the ground refusing to move unless I buy him a cake shaped like Sponge Bob... but in general he is so much more... interesting. If I could vote on when to take maternity leave - something I never had in the first place after Sproglet was born, being self employed and all that - I'd like to call it in now please. If only that were possible...

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Snugglebunny - yes I really wrote such a nauseating word.

Sproglet has many new words. 'Duggg' for dog. 'Car' for car. Unfortunately the word' nig-nog' for the 'Ninky-Nonk' from 'In the Night Garden' and the like. Bless him - he bounds out of his bed and careers into us shouting 'La La' 'Duice' and 'Outide' while he directs me towards the TV and coco-pops in that order.

Best of all he shouts 'MAMA!' every time I walk into a room - with such gusto and joy that I feel like I have won an award every time. He is going through a 'Mummy' period where basically, I rock. Yay me! No matter what Husband does, what treats he bribes with or remote that he controls - I am king. Sproglet snuggles onto my lap and tucks his head in, or throws his arms tight round me and plants over long kisses on my face. Even though his never ending cold means I frequently am slimed with snot in the process, I am thrilled. Most mornings he comes into bed with me while I try to raise the will to shift myself out of it. He gazes up at me and tries to lift off my eye mitt things and picks at my glamorous mouth guard (have gritted my back teeth down to hell - this shield is an unfortunate necessity if I want to enjoy steak in life). I must look pretty scary with wild tossing/turning hair, embedded leftover make-up, ear plugs swinging to said hair and gumily trying to talk with a big rugby-player-friendly guard in my gob. But he stares at me like I am a goddess and strokes my face with his tiny hands, giggling and talking incessantly.

As we kick into Autumn - central heating at the ready, jumpers pulled out of the back of the closet, excuses to eat cake (gotta protect myself with an added layer of fat through harsh winter) - it is time to hibernate is it not? Lots of tea, stodgy food, oakey reds and tonnes of biscuits... and snuggling. Snuggle whatever the hell you can - blankets, stuffed animals, strangers, your plasma - whatever. Tis the season of snuggling - and no one does this better than Sproglet; with his freshly washed soft curls, clean jammies and blissful baby skin, he has the fine art of this down pat. Like all good things though, he reaches the end of his snuggle and jumps up - usually to get yet another book to read. But while it lasts, I'm telling you, nothing on earth comes close.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Time flies

How come the supermarkets are full of chrimbo chocs, trees and tacky gift sets and yet we are basking in August like sunshine? What is with this hurrying through the year malarkey? Is the credit crunch forcing shops to get in there early hoping that if they remind us for long enough we will indeed succumb and begin our yearly festive shop fest?

Xmas shopping is hell on wheels so maybe getting it started soon would be a good thang. I digress - what is bothering me is how this year has run away with me. Jan crawled by as did Feb then I got my job and zooooom - Halloween is round that corner. I haven't popped back to Belfast all year to see my folks and friends and suddenly my Mum has booked her Xmas flights... Is it me or are the years zipping past like the ads on Sky+ fast forward on 30?

When my girls started making plans for a big 4 0 get together my brakes slammed on - I am only 21!!! Mentally... maybe even 17. How can I be sprinting towards middle age - hell I'm even enjoying 'Casualty' these days - I must be gettin' on. My life is a blurrrrr of scripts and rushing to drop off/pick up sproglet from militant nursery, food shops, cooking, bit of Grey's (tis back thank god) drinking red wine, Relate, dip in my best mate's hot tub and not getting enough sleep. I curse the Sunday papers for coming along again so quickly when last weeks are still piled by my bed with articles I am desperate to read. My lit agent wants me to fashion my Crummy Mummyness into some book form - have I a moment to do it? And in the midst of all this why have I developed a chronic Ebay addiction? I have little enough time as it is! I seem to be forever 'booking in' mates weekends down the line - which I hate as it makes life devoid of all spontaneity.

Last week I made it to the movies - woo hoo!! There was precious little on and my cousin and his lovely girlfriend were off to see some comedy from the 'Knocked up' fraternity - I plumped for 'The Women.' Meg Ryan, the wonderful Annette Benning, how bad could it be? I'll tell ya. Worse.

When I got bored of trying to work out how much botox Meg had pumped into her impish features I walked out and marched up to the all important ticket stub holders. "I am a mother who doesn't get out enough - especially to the cinema - so I cannot lose two precious hours of my life to this trash. What time does 'The Strangers' start"? Slasher horror is a weird fav of mine. It was pretty good actually - until the gruesome end when I dashed out - gratuitous stabbing not really my cup of tea. Point is - if it 'aint floating my boat - I gotta move on pronto. Life is too short baby.

Now where is my pumpkin carving kit?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The World Cafe

I woke up this morning craving The World Cafe. A long deceased corner restaurant in West Hampstead that became our lounge (as I lived in our official one) from '99 - 2001. It had a long menu and a short clientele, thus it shut up shop shortly after we all moved house - I think my flatmates and I had kept it afloat. The staff were a mixture of fiery Italian chefs and Australian travellers. One boy - aptly named Angel - flirted with us all and fluttered his unfairly long lashes to the point that Nikki swore she was in with a chance, despite the fact he clearly preferred the hairier sex.

We would roll in every evening after work and stop for a glass that always became a bottle... or two. The staff would take a break and forget to go back to work. The bored chefs would send us over snacks - ideas they had for a menu that resolutely stayed the same. But Sundays, Sundays were our favourite days to stake our claim as territorial owners of the place - when I would stumble in, still in my PJs with a stack of Sunday papers and a tin of baked beans. The papers were to peruse over a leisurely breakfast - something to mop up the obligatory hangover. The beans because for some odd reason their cooked breakfasts omitted that all important ingredient; the sister restaurant had the same menu - the owner wouldn't add in the beans. So we bought them, brought them and the cook would nod and add them to our plates.

One Xmas we asked to hire the place for a big Xmas lunch - the staff agreed - closing it to the public, ordering in spirits that I'm pretty sure they didn't have a license for and asking us to come up with an Xmas menu. I seem to remember the event ended with dancing on tables and makeshift karaoke. We took it over for Claire and Est's b'day bash - once again banning uninvited guests and drinking wine that we somehow never paid for. The chefs would hang out at the back door, spilling into the alley from the intense heat of the stamp sized kitchen - offering a joint if we passed by and caught them on one of their eternal breaks. One night I went drinking there - already 3 sheets to the wind and in my jammies - I downed a glass of wine and then realised that it was actually the chef's wedding reception I had crashed...

It was never going to last. But while it did we ate like kings, were served by an Angel and didn't even have to get dressed to dine. I still miss those lazy Sundays...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Yes, I know it has been a while. I am sorry. This full time work malarkey sure is getting in the way of my blogging vents. For the first time I ever, I hesitate to write about something. Strange as I should hesitate more often when I speak - less of the old foot in mouth moments - but normally when I blog I just throw it all out there - lock stock and dirty barrel. Thing is, I know lots of folk who read my blog - and what I am about to write - I imagined them all reading and it made me feel a bit... well vulnerable or naked or something. But then I thought - I am crummymummy, I wrote this to be true and honest about life, love and motherhood - so if I can't be honest here - what is the point? Those that know me who read this tend to be lovely supportive warm fuzzy types - so what have I to fear?

Monday evening - Husband and I had our first Relate session. Yes, I am a tired cliche - but am determined not be a divorce statistic - so I made that call. It was after one particularly vicious rowing weekend - and a Monday that just didn't improve (bit like the summer weather). We had the initial 'meet and greet suss you out' kinda chat weeks and weeks ago - but this is where the ball starts rolling. Weekly chats for us to vent and bitch and get it all out there onto the table and somehow work through that resentment and anger that has festered and grown and sometimes squeezes the joy out of our extremely limited time together. I'll just say here that out of respect for Husband, I won't go in to the ins and outs of the machinations and recriminations that we fired at one another - but I will say how it made me feel.

Husband had been nervous all day - he kept asking of I was just going to bitch at him for an hour - at the end of which he would pay £40 for the pleasure? He could hardly look at me in the car on the way there - his nerves curtailing any humour he might have about the whole awkward situation. We were taken to a room that had no windows but oddly had a sunny yellow curtain that covered an entire wall and an air conditioning unit that filled half the space but apparently was too loud to put on. This room became a furnace. We boiled our way through the chat regardless of rage. Our counsellor type woman was lovely. Cheery, ruddy, good humoured - not dissimilar to the Farmer's wife in Babe (thought not as curvey)- she immediately clocked Husband's reticence. Behind that wholesome kindness though, lay a smart cookie who knew when to pipe up and when to let us rant. She was horribly fair and completely neutral - and appeared to be immune to the creeping temperature. I didn't want the session to end. I got the sense that she felt she'd be seeing a fair bit of us for a while yet optimism shone from her every pore. I bet she is the kind of person that all her friends tell secrets to.

Softly softly she hooked us in and then before I even saw it - boom! She had opened up Husband to the point I couldn't get a word in edge ways. Was it weird? Well having been in a small room listening to peoples' woes as a Samaritan, it didn't seem odd. I forget that Husband is a man - and Auzzie one at that, and isn't so in tune with the spilling gene us women have. The hour flew by as we danced in the merry circles things have become. I almost felt sorry for our Zen Lady. She feels like a safe pair of hands. I wonder how long this will take? Will it work? I'm pretty sure that both Husband and I don't want to jack our relationship in, nor do we want to damage it in any irreparable way - so this is.... a way to work through the fog. To come out the other side stronger and surer and happier. We have hope. We have time. This marriage game is for life as we see it. Husband is changing his ridiculous work hours in the next two weeks - which is the biggest breakthrough yet. As cheery lady said at the moment we 'have no time.' Robbed of time how can any relationship be well watered and continue to grow?

I'm thinking of this Lady as our Baby Bio. I'll keep you posted on how well we flower. The roots are pretty strong though...

Monday, 25 August 2008

My Ya Yas

Names for one's lady garden? 'Lady's promise'(sounds like a type of chocolate box that men swim through sharks and scale mountains to reach)... 'Fan Anne' (sounds like the name of a flight company "Fasten your seatbelts ladeez and welcome to Fan Anne. We will be travelling today at a constant speed arriving at our destination at 9pm"). 'Foof'... 'Hairy Clam'... and it went on. 4 of us old schoolmates, beers in hand in some bustling Vietnamese restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks in Newcastle. 10pm on a Saturday night. We haven't caught up in a while but no matter - our historys are long our memories short. I've known these 3 since early teenage days and they are easy company; Hannah's Mother calls us her 'Ya Yas' (from the Ya Ya Sisterhood book) - we have seen each other through first periods, failed romances, bad boyfriends, parental angst, marriage, birth and sadly death. Things don't need to be said, we just know where we are with each other. Time and distance may have curtailed our meet ups but only enhance the sacred time we do get together.

We had ditched our kids and other halves and had headed north (for Emma - south) and pitched up at Hannah's house with bottles and nibbles and the giddy excitement of having no responsibilities for a whole 24 hours. Within five minutes the fizz was out. Then cocktails, gin, beers and a mad dash for a taxi. A martini to keep us watered and then on to the noisy meal. Two men actually turned their chairs round to eavesdrop on our X rated chat: Caroline grilling me about any lesbian activities of my giddy youth; insisting she knew more about my (alleged) sapphic past than I did. naming our bits. Remembering losing our big Vs to unsuitables. Etc. We gossiped, cajoled and hooted. 'Are you happy?' Caroline asked whilst she could still remember the answers. It was the only Oprah moment. There were no rows, no tears. No old wounds opened. A quiet one for us lot.

We headed for a nitecap. The bar opened onto a terrace with huge sails above our heads as a kind of overhead cover, with plants creeping up the outdoor open brick, fairylights twinking overhead. The rain came down and we all moved slightly to avoid getting wet. Caroline, slightly worse for wear - complained to barman and we scratched our heads as to why. Turns out she though the indoor air conditioning system was dripping on her - but we were OUTDOORS. Cue much laughter and me feeling smug that for once I wasn't the butt of the joke.

Home to tea, chocolate pavlova and recorded X factor. Yes - we are just crazee. It was 11:30. I rang husband who laughed at our 'wild' night out (as I had billed it). No matter that we hadn't danced til dawn and flirted with jailbait - we had had a great time.

I lay in - bliss. Three of us cooked a huge fry up and ooh and ahhed over facebook photos that were less than kind to old schoolmates (the girls you see 'haven't the time' for Facebook but gobbled up the info that one can find there - their husbands have joined so they read through osmosis). Caroline was missing from the table. Emma sympathised (briefly) as for once it was not she who was propping up the toilet in a well of regret.

We disbanded shortly after lunch. Caroline still curled up in a ball on Hannah's bed - unable to move or even speak. Thank god one of us were sick - otherwise it 'aint a proper night out eh?

I arrived home to husband's waiting arms and a black eyed sproglet. They claimed to have missed me. Me - I was having too good a time to miss anyone. Love ya Ladeez - when is the next meet?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Thank you sweet Jesus!

Oh my god - a lie in!!! Drinking gin and tonics (huge measures - bless those Europeans and their free pouring) at midday, lying on the boardwalk watching fish swimming in the clear waters beneath, remembering why I love my boy so much, eating 3* Michelin food as the sun sets across the sea... oh my, mini breaks are fabulous!!!!

I forgot what 'we' were like. Minus the stress of bills, moving house, jobs and all the responsibility that children bring. Who were 'we' without all the baggage? We were/are people who wake up and still kiss before we brush our teeth. People who wander hand in hand and chat, never bored. People who relish great food and even greater wine. Who get excited by bizarre dishes brought forth from a chance booking at a dream restaurant. Who still enjoy time together, in silence, devouring papers and books, occasionally giving each other happy smiles and arm strokes. I relished every moment with husband. Not as a Father or boss or all the day to day things he is - but as my boy, my best friend, the person I most enjoy hanging out with.

Oh it was bliss. San Sebastian in festival week - fireworks soaring into the sky, children running from big headed puppets, music blasting from every available stage or step and cook offs releasing mouth watering flavours in every square. We met a fantastic couple from Chicago on our last night and drank with them under the stars until 2am. By then the buzzing streets had cleared, the warm night air had cooled. We strolled back to our hotel, mellowed by liquor, warmed by laughter and in need of sleep. Up at 7am we ran for the bus to the airport. As it wound through the lush green hills and drove through the hazy morning cloud, husband slept, head on my knee. And I... well I wished we were still there. In our own bubble.

PS I missed sproglet massively - to the point I viewed his pics on the digital camera every day... and yes he was our every third conversation... But we still managed to have fun!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

What is the point of men - bar Peter the nice boy at work?

Excuse my mood. It matches the weather. But with a bit more bite - if I had my way there would be thunder and some damn crackly lightening in there too. You know those days - washouts. A bit bleruurgghhh. I had one on Sunday as well. Keener than mustard I was about the Innocent fete at Regents Park - but as we arrived for a day of Pimms, sunshine, frivolity and a spot of Maypole dancing, the heavens opened. I was a drowned rat struggling to eat a £7 (!!!!!) burrito while my nose dripped water like a fountain. Sproglet slumbered underneath a plastic cover and I knew when he awoke he would want to run around and eat anything that didn't move. Sadly open toed shoes don't really go with muddy parks and teeming rain. Cue our exit from the most middle class of events. My mates stayed to savour the beer tent replete with bales of hay and jovial music but crummy mummies have to quit while they're ahead and find drier pastures.

Anyway I digress. I came home today to stacks of washed clothes, piles of clothes washing to be done, a full dish washer and breakfast dishes. Joy. Just what I fancy after a day at work. Oh - and a letter detailing the 3 points on my licence and a £60fine. My second lot in as many months. 6 points and £120 later....Yay! Dashing to pick up sproglet every day after work is playing havoc with my finances. But hey that's cool. I am a woman - ergo a juggler. But men - what are they there for exactly??? Nothing a turkey baster and a DIY manual couldn't fix. An article at the weekend stated that there has been a 40% increase in males seeking counselling for impotence problems and last month a medical study published proved the quality of men's sperm declines at 45 - to such an extent that the chances of their partner suffering a miscarriage doubles. (Ahh at last - the chorus of men bleating about their ticking biological clocks seems imminent - and gone will be the jokes about women over 30 settling for anything that shaves once a week with a pulse). Sales of beauty products for men have leapt 30% over the last decade and more men than ever are opting for plastic surgery. What have we here? A bunch of narcissistic empty-sacked egotistical mirror lickers?

What do men do exactly? Us women - well I could go all hippy dippy and talk of how we bleed and don't die,(on that subject I once knew a woman who made cards for her boyfriend decorated in period blood... ewwwwwwww) how we birth bairns and then be all things to all people for the rest of our lives, but that is just dull. Now-a-days us chicks can buy our own drinks, flats, shoes and sofas - we can jump up a career ladder without having to wear stockings and type proficiently and most of all we can grab a sperm doner or a rampant rabbit to fulfill all things male. Frankly if a man can't change a tyre or wire a chandelier for you - then why bother?

I tell you I am sick of stroking the biggest male member of all - (sadly) the ego. Boys can you not just do it for yourselves? Well the joke is on you after all - we can bat our lashes, put on a sickly sweet understanding voice and boom! you are putty in our hands. Don't get me wrong I believe sistahhhs should be doin' it for themselves and all - its just... aren't those testosterone filled man-childs so easy to play? It almost isn't sport. No wonder Li-Lo turned. Bimboy Callum Best or the talented Sam Ronson... no contest.

No - I am not about to eat from the hairy cup - I just had a crappy day and needed to vent. Husband being incapable of doing one whole job in the laborious house move -that of post redirection. 8 weeks later our post still goes to the old flat. Plus he booked our dirty weekend flights with a stopover. A stopover to Spain?? You gotta be kidding me! So I am venting about men, apart from Peter the nice boy from work who is our tea bitch and never complains. But I wonder if he uses moisturiser?

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The new drink and dial...

Facebook after a few. Suddenly is seems rude not to look up that old ex of yours and see exactly what he is up to, or rather - who he is up to. Flip through friends of friends and wind up oohing and ahhing over a complete stranger's holiday snaps that are mainly of a rosy couple drinking merrily and becoming all the more rosy. Yet, after a bottle of vino they are positively fascinating!

Oh - did you know that so and so knew so and so that you used to work with/date/be mates with/went to school with/once met at a party... possibly? Does anyone have any famous mates on there (who always hide their mates and homepage - boo! Spoilsports).

So I asked to be mates with my ex (lost my virginity to boy) - LMVT as he shall be known - which really galled me to begin with - it feels so damn sad ASKING can you be mates. Almost as horrific as waiting in line to be picked for sports teams at school. The fucker only rejected me!!! I thought he was just taking his sweet arsed time but a workmate helpfully explained how it all works - and no, he wasn't too busy to look at his facebook page, he just blatantly rejected me. Last time me and LMVT spoke - about 9 years ago - we were still mates as far as I remember... maybe now 'cos he is with some skinny dwarf that used to go to school with us and had a ridiculous crush on LMVT while he was my beau, he isn't allowed to be my innocent facebook friend. Good luck to them - I wish this boney pre-pubescent girl would realise - he doesn't do it for me anymore! I just wondered how he was - y'know, curiosity. I am not hoping dig my bitten claws into his skinny frame (they must almost break bones when they do the dirty together) - it was just sheer unadulterated nosiness.

Cut to last night after a fine bottle of wine - I ended up asking LMVT's old best school friend to be my mate. Yes I have no shame... I had a crush on him for 4 years - he didn't wash his hair, wore converse before they were trendy, was brilliant at art and his Dad lived in London - well St Albans - all of which seemed wildly glamorous to a hick from Belfast like me. I awoke today groaning inwardly but cheered up considerably when I found he has accepted me (why does that give me such a small thrill? I need to get out more, I know, I know) and even sent me a mildly amused cheery greeting. Phew - embarrassment curtailed. Have a learned my lesson? Maybe next time I won't be so lucky. So from now on... a few drinks in - my laptop stays shut and my dignity intact.


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Corner turned/ fab friends

So I threw in my towel and husband picked it up and said 'I get it'. Finally!!!!He came home in the dead of night and curled in next to me and kissed my sleepy cheek and said 'nothing is more important than us, our family.' I kinda mumbled something and went back to sleep. I think a corner has been turned. Husband has woken out of a slumber and realised we can't go on like this - he is hoping for weekends off and two nights a week. We need to see each other to actually be in a relationship, nay, a marriage. If I start bitching about not having any time to myself and how I used to hog the remote quite happily - slap me.

So today I woke with a spring in my step. Rome wasn't built in a day - but something will change and we can start being an us. The irony is not that I wanted to leave my husband - I wanted time WITH him. The lack of it was driving a huge wedge between us filled with resentment and rows and frustration. A heady cocktail that was watering down anything good between us. It aint easy - but I think things will get better. I can't wait to eat dinner with him, food shop with him, all the glorious mundane details of life that I have had to forgo. I have missed him. He is my best friend (in a non girlie way obviously) and I have craved some quality Thai (hellloooo Busaba) and a movie with him. Hanging out, shooting the breeze, reading the papers - has all vanished in our responsible roles both at work and as parents. And hurray for our (dirty? can you still have one of those 7 years into a relationship?) weekend away in 3 weeks - viva Espania!

Today I hung out with my old school friends. I never see them as much as I wish I could. They make me laugh in an easy way that is borne out of friendships spanning decades. We have added spouses and partners to the group who must have felt like a tonne of bricks hit them when the force of us on mass descended upon them for the first time - but now we have all been round the block together (several times) and I don't see who I made daisy chains with at the tender age of 6 - I just see us all as one big ever expanding gang. We snatched conversations between feeding, wiping and carrying our sproglets - my sproglet decided he could fly and did a dare-devil jump from a 5 foot something climbing frame - bashing his barnet on the way down. He has his own little egg protruding from his forehead - a badge of bravery or stupidity - not sure which. Anyway, the (not the warmest of) days flew by - and I felt like I hadn't really caught up with them all. We save the deeper stuff for smaller one to ones - group chat involves piss taking and the odd quip about life. Then again I could have all the time in the world with them and it wouldn't be enough. One of them once said 'We made each other who we are today.' A bit trite but also true. They know me. I don't have to pretend it is all rosy in my garden. They offer beds to stay in, shoulders to cry on, wine to drink. Unconditional friendship. Support without question. They are probably one of the things that I am most proud of in my life. That no matter what happens - with houses, work and all that jazz - I still have a circle that love me for me. Or at least they do a damn fine job of pretending - feckers!

Gawd bless 'em all. Good night x

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Its not about the fork.

When do you throw the towel in? When do you say 'enough'? When do you cut the cord and think - I am unhappy more than I am happy - it is time to move on. You see that husband has turned his fork the wrong way round. It gleams and winks at you on the empty plate and you look at it - you can't take your fucking eyes off it and you ask him to turn it the right way - he has finished eating, table manners dictates this. You want to tear him apart. You feel rage pulsate in your head and start to crawl down your arms towards your fingers and down to your toes. You feel prickly heat behind your ears.It isn't really about his social eating skills - it isn't anything to do with the sad little fork next to the grubby knife. It is all your months of frustration and hurt, all that anger that has drip drip dripped and collected to form an almighty dam that is just about to burst.

Marriage is work. I know that. But this hard? When the tears fall more days than they don't. When you start noticing how other couples behave and you think - we don't do that? When you speak to each other like you are dirt on the ground and it has become so normal to be this way that you don't raise an eyebrow. When you go to a lonely bed every night of the week. When you miss someone desiring you. When you love a child but have forgotten to love each other. When his career means more than time together. When you feel like you are holding it all together with the skin of your teeth and at any moment you could just drop that basket and bceome a basket-case. When you resent everything they do and even more everything they don't. When you eye wanders. When the loneliness eats at you at night and your stomach churns. When you remember the person you once were and you miss her. When you have gone round so many times in the same circles that you feel like a fish in a bowl. When you stop laughing.

Is that when you throw in the towel?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Other fucking Mothers

God I hate other Mothers!! Sorry, I should rephrase that. I hate other mothers in my area. Other Mothers scare me with their organic pies and fresh pressed linin trousers and their boden dressed offspring. But some can be friendly at least. The day before I left West Hampstead (sob - still missing it) I was in Starbucks working and I met a group of 3 brilliant women. All Mothers - one also a nanny - and they were such a laugh. The type who didn't do bath night every night, liked a bottle of vino or two and hated happy clappy keeping-up-with-the Jones's mother and baby classes. I wished with all my heart I had met them during my 16 months of part time freelance work and full time Mother stress.

So I move to a fairly affluent area - us like the pikeys who have invaded their sweet smelling town - plonk sproglet at a new nursery and sit back and wait to meet some yummy down-to-earth mummies... But all I meet are uptight cold bitches who look down on me and my chipped toenails (no manicure - how can she step out of the house??) my son's un-ironed tops and my tiny green car (bought from my lovely Auntie). I met one today - tried a bit of the old chat 'Hello... our boys started on the same day,' kinda small talk. What did this scrawny bird like witch do? Practically blanked me - looked mighty uncomfortable - squeezed out a few words as if she was trying not to breathe me in - before dashing to the rarified air and safety of her BMW and flew out of there.

My blood boiled. I don't CARE about fancy cars and banker wanker husbands and buying only from Waitrose and being stepford all the fucking time! I am a real woman, a Mother who gets it wrong and likes a Pimms and LOVES working (straight to hell for that one I am sure)and doesn't iron and never will!!!!

I was so desperate to move. I am so happy with the house. But will I stay here? If today's experience is to become the norm - then NO! I was avoided more than a leper. Stuck up snobs are up there in my most loathed group. You have money - so that makes you better? Yes, I like nice handbags, because they smell of leather and wear well. Yes, I like great cocktails and wish I could afford Manolo Blahnik shoes - but I don't need status symbols to declare my worth to the world.

God I miss the dirt of London.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Dawson's Creek

What should you absolutely NOT do when you have PMT, are exhausted, have inherited your child's vomming sick bug and feel like you have regressed twenty years? That's right - you shouldn't watch the last ever episode of Dawson's Creek that a work mate has lent you. Now it aired in 2003 - so I don't reckon I need a spoiler alert - but oh my god JEN DIES!!!! I nearly lost an eyeball and had to pause for ten mins while I composed myself.

See, DC was a Sunday ritual in my old flat. I had discovered it one Saturday afternoon - lurking after the sport on Channel 4. Suddenly the second series leapt onto an all new Sunday strand called T4 and it was a mega mega hit. I lived with 3 other girls and one by one they would troop (or crawl after a particularly heavy Sat night)into my bedroom (which was the lounge really) on a Sunday around 11am and take their positions: Nikki in bed beside me clutching my stuffed rabbit. Claire sprawled on my sofa and Caroline (always last in as she worked until 5am or later running a bar) would insist on sitting on the floor. Caroline cried in almost every episode - whether or not it was remotely sad. We sang along to the theme tune and all wished that Pacey would buy a wall for us to paint on. We never wanted tomboy girl-next-door Joey Potter (acting range limited to shrugs and goofy smiles)to get together with Dawson and his over large forehead and complete lack of humour. It was the wise cracking, sweet, mild mannered rebel Pacey that stole our hearts. Not in a sexy Chuck Bass rip-off-my-clothing-and-take-me-now way but in a marry-me-forever-soulmate way. We tried to date Pacey types. We failed.

The homage to John Hughes's The Breakfast Club was inspired. To me, Kevin Williamson could do no wrong - I know it all went a bit screwy with that irritating Audrey girl when they all disappeared to college - but when they where based in Capeside it was so golden, so perfect. The eternal love triangle, the best coming out scene I have ever watched and everyone hanging on to their virginity's for dear life. I craved to be 17 again. I think deep down I always will. It's like that scene in The Outsiders when Ralph Maccio (spelt wrong I am sure) is dying and he tells Pony boy that life is green, kinda golden. Sort of summed it all up for me. Full of angst and isolation and yet brimming with hope and potential. Whenever I watch the Creek now I feel old. We all know what happened - Katie Holmes married Tom Cruise and became cold and dull; Michelle Williams blossomed into a great actress and then her life became sadder than any DC storyline; James Van Der Beek vanished and Joshua Jackson seems to be arm candy at various premieres and fashion parties these days with a pretty blonde actress whose name escapes me.

I miss the show. I miss those lazy Sunday mornings. Everything felt so much more innocent back then - the story had yet to be written. Almost 10 years on and the show feels so dated. If Dawson hadn't tried to get Jen and Joey in a threesome and Pacey wasn't trying to sell Es at school prom by episode 3, I doubt E4 would have sniffed it.

Call me old fashioned, a romantic at heart. Ok, a not-so-closet Pacey obsessive. But nothing has come close to DC since. I think I may have to buy the box set of series one and take a nice long walk down memory lane again. Ok, you can call me sad too.

Monday, 16 June 2008

They say 3 things....

...are the most stressful in life: death, divorce and moving house. Thankfully i don't know about the first one. But I have recently come close to the second due to the third. Oh my god to say moving is stressful is a gross understatement - like saying women quite like handbags and men quite like touching themselves even surreptitiously as often as they can!

I have moved. I have house. I have no furniture for said house. Until Friday I had no TV or broadband - I felt like I was on freakin' Mars. Husband turned into a creature from Mars. We rowed. In between rowing we unpacked and painted and rowed some more. Over what? Him going to work on the day after we moved leaving me knee deep in boxes with a howling hungry 23 month old. Him arriving at the new house 4 hours before me - and unpacking....nothing, but building a BBQ. Him spraying droplets of paint around the lounge after he failed to put down any newspaper or dustsheets. We now have a fetching spotty modem and phone cradle. One little acorn of a row managed to grow into a great big tree. It culminated in world war 3 on Sat night when he stormed out and didn't return until the next day. I think if it hadn't been Father's Day and if I hadn't eaten a truckload of humble pie I might have been able to tell you how stressful divorcing is as well. Sproglet was unnerved by his enormous room, but has now acclimatised and loves to bring in a truck filled with small stones and deposit them in the kitchen, on the stairs and in empty shoes laid out in the hall.

The house is spacious but filled with boxes. It has a garden filled with weeds. It has a dining room with no table or chairs. A lounge with no soft furnishings. But if is beginning to feel like home. I now drive to and from work and listen to the radio, humming along with happy tunes as sunlight streams through the windows. I have seen more green in a week than I did in 13 years in London. I feel more 'normal' whatever that means. Barefoot I pad around the polished floorboards and step into the underfloor heated bathroom. I wander around the hall and up and down the two flights of stairs. I wonder if we will ever fill the space. And if our marriage will survive this damn move. Fingers crossed for both eh?

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Sex in the surburbs... not quite the same eh?

I've got my high heels on (a different shoe on each foot) parading around the flat wondering if I will ever wear either inappropriate, appropriately uncomfortable shoe again as nostalgia beats down my door. Yes, I saw SATC last night - the big screen version. I enjoyed it but well... I wasn't exactly overwhelmed. I wish that they had left it as it was - because that last episode was just perfection. Taking a sassy smart series and stretching it out into an overly long movie is a bit like watering down a good cosmopolitan with too much cranberry juice - it still tastes ok - but loses the all important kick.

It should have been called 'A bit of sex and Carrie's wardrobe' - as this was the obvious reason SJP had slung on her Manolos again. She fancied a bit of dressing up and ta da! A movie was born. The other girls have vague stories but nothing of real interest apart from Miranda's woes and one gratuitous shower scene (the kind that you pause your DVDs on) courtesy of Samantha's peeping Tom personae.

Anyway - I digress - and I don't want to give anything away to all of you have yet to be 'Carried Away,'** (makes a retching sound for the most awful tag line in film history). The reason I am really trotting around in a fluffy mule and a spiky pink Miu Miu heel is because I am packing. I remember the days not only when I was a single girl (having sex) in the city, but I had a goddamn reason to wear these beauties. Now I am married, feeling celibate and am moving to the burbs. ** (makes retching sound for other self-pitying reasons).

It is weird to pack up my life in my single gal flat - the one I bought with every penny I owned - and many pennies I have still to pay off - in a lovely villagey part of London. The place I had my first dates with husband in - when he was the boyfriend, in fact when he was just the 'quick fling' that became the boyfriend. The place he moved into. The place he proposed in. The place we left to get married and returned to from honeymoon. The place we conceived sproglet and brought him home to. The place that holds so many memories. In truth, it aint the flat that I will miss - it is the area. The brief walk to the wilds of Hampstead heath, the short jog to 3 different cinemas. My barrista friends at Starbucks...oh my, my love affair with Starbucks. The local wine bar that we grew to know so well, we invited the owners to our wedding. The weird video store guy who sometimes speaks to me, sometimes doesn't. But when he does has a scathing sense of humour - a frustrated film maker clearly. It has been my manor. One old friend once commented that they will have to drag me kicking and screaming from this place - and after 9 years in the area it is true.

I know it is time to go. I fear that I will be lonely out in the picturesque market town - missing the hustle and bustle and edge of such a cosmopolitan buzzy area - as I embrace middle class blandness. I remember my hopes and dreams when I bought my flat - although weirdly it has never felt like home. More like a stop gap. I have always wanted the garden, the green trees around, the stillness in the air - I am an Irish child at heart. I need green. I need space to breathe.

So I pack and ooh and ahh over my shoes of the past. The bargain buys, the ones bought for TV shows I presented, the one pair of Manolos I took a day off work to buy in the sale. I remember wearing them all vividly - to dance at the Xmas party, to drink (any night you care to mention), to flirt in Soho House in and to throw in a taxi when they finally tore my feet to shreds. (26 blisters once - more bloodshed than an 18 horror flick).

And you know what? I wouldn't have missed it all for the world.

Monday, 26 May 2008

The day I lost my sense of humour

So it started with a mild hangover. A cocktail hangover from a night out with my friend Sam - supposed to see Sex and the City (we hoped to go back in time to '98 and remember when we wore g-strings, too much lip gloss attitudes and kissed bad 'uns, young 'uns and sometimes any 'un within reach - heady days of private members clubs, bad dates and vodka redbull). You can't see STAC without having a cocktail or 5 - it would be rude not to. We met at Hakkasan - I drank lychee martinis and then a glorious rose water one - heavenly - and then... oh yes a cucumber martini - surprisingly sweet and refreshing. One to add to the summer BBQ list for sure. I forced Sam to drink a Fon Fon - which she kept saying with an oriental accent making it sound like a sexual invitation - and then we careered to the cinema to find out SATC isn't out until next wk and so we endured the new Indiana Jones. I was drunk and it was still crap. Why was Shiea LaBouff or whatever he is called (he sounds like a hairspray) dressed like Brando in 'The Wild One?' No idea. I also have no idea why Harrison made a come back for that rubbish - clearly it wasn't the plot that did it - as there isn't one. Oh and top marks to the props folk who made a crystal skull look like a bit of plastic with a few bits of clingfilm shoved inside.

I got up to find small whingey child refusing his breakfast - he has been whingey since 6pm on Fri evening and has been howling for hours for no apparent reason - even Toy Story won't shut him up and my nerves are FRAZZLED. Husband - who was meant to get up with him - gets up but promptly returns to bed as soon as I surface - thinking we are playing parental tag team. I watch desperate Housewives (as I now am one and am finding Bree oddly more normal as the days go by)get emotional and drink tea for comfort. Then the packing begins. Two boxes in and I am ready to murder my entire family and do time for it. A solitary prison cell would feel like bliss in comparison to whining child and moaning husband who is complaining BEFORE HE HAS EVEN PACKED ANYTHING. I am hoping for a slow jog through memory lane but as sproglet keeps putting his grubby hands into boxes and unpacking them - I end up sprinting through instead. I throw out all old music tapes (it hurt to throw away Tango in The Night which I played forever when I was 15) and VHS tapes. The home made ones I am not bothered about - but to throw out a VHS of Dirty Dancing felt criminal.

How have I accumulated so much crap? I harden my heart to a clay hippo my cousin gave me which he made when he was about 5. He is 24 now. The hippo has been in a cupboard for the past 7 years. It is time to bin it. I trawl through books and photos and find I have about 15 leads - and I have no idea what they are for, what they came with or why I own them. I pack them - just in case. Sproglet's soft baby books - what to do? Charity store. Have you ever given stuff to a charity store because it makes you feel slightly better about yourself than actually binning it? Oh yeah - I felt that alot today.

We order sushi for lunch - it comes an hour and a half later and is rubbish. I swallow cold Miso soup and hate husband for leaving dishes for almost 24 hours, bitching about how he wants to do nothing for the rest of today after filling half a box with restaurant magazines he never reads anyway and trying to wind me up with every syllable he utters. To make myself feel remotely better I regress 20 years or more and draw a penis on his foot with the marker pen and surprisingly I feel a bit better.

At 4pm I am spent. I lie down and sleep. Moving is hideous. I drift off thinking about soft furnishings I can't afford and worrying about how I will ever parallel park without asking a passer by to do it for me (which is my usual method of parallel parking).

At 6pm sproglet is still miserable but is at least eating pasta. We have run out of clean forks. Husband is reading newspapers on line and watching sport - clearly feeling he has completed all tasks for the day, when clearly he hasn't. I explode. I calm down. We have packed up most of the lounge, sproglet's room and the big cupboards in the hall. We are, at a guess, half way there. The thought of de- cluttering the attic freaks me out. What if there are mice up there? Eek! We make a deal not to do attic until morning of the move - less traumatic in daylight and when we are up against the clock. I bath sproglet and notice a spot on his tummy and a weird rash. Is it chickenpox? An allergy? Husband agrees to take him to the Dr tomorrow but announces that if he does he will veto the list of to-dos I have given him for before he goes to work. I have no idea why he thinks doing one 'chore' counterbalances doing any others. If this was the case after 7 years with him, I would now live in Hawaii with round the clock servants.

10pm: Sproglet now slumbers. Husband has done the dishes and gone to the cinema. I am still unwashed, stressed, with to-do lists coming out my ears and cold fried rice for dinner. No wonder this moving malarkey is up there with divorce (ironic that) and death on the stress Richter scale. Roll on June 6th and moving D day. Actually scrap that - roll on August - by then I will be settled and surrounded by soft furnishings - on credit. If only I could ebay husband and sproglet as a buy one get one free - then I would be stress free.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Why do all Starbucks toilets stink?

It is a question that haunts me. Yes - I do need to get out more. But why is it no matter which branch you go into, no matter what time of day - they absolutely reek. This is no mere remnants of recent defecation, this is an ingrained acidic stench that permeates the skin and strips one's nostrils of an inner lining. A fetid heavy pungent aroma that lingers in the air no matter what is sprayed to alleviate the odour. Maybe it is because there is no window? Maybe their cleaning products aren't up to scratch? Maybe all the pipes in every coffee shop are blocked? Maybe there is a toilet ghost that lurks in every cistern a la moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter books - but this ghoul is more akin to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller': 'the foulest stench (is) in the air, the funk of forty thousand years and grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom.'

My advice - cross your legs and wait 'til you get home. Or carry a nosepeg with you at all times. You have been warned.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Chuck Bass

Fluffy, vacuous, shallow, tedious and insipid. Gossip Girl has little going for it. Woolly plots, cliched characters and stilted dialogue. But my god it has a secret weapon in the name of Chuck Bass. Ed Westwick, a young lad from Stevenage has taken over American TV, infiltrated every gossip column and crept into my fantasies. He is delicious. Boy flesh at it's juicy best. I am a married mother of one and yet - I can dream can't I? That Chuck throws off his bow tie, loosens his braces and envelopes my neck in a priceless diamond necklace (he did this to ice queen Blair on Thursday night.... bitch) and then I abandon all sense of self and move into his Father's penthouse suite and basically own New York. Lovely. Why Blair only turned to Chuck after wimpy poster boy Nate ditched her is beyond me - I would have dumped the all American bore for the verbal wit of Chuck with one cock of his... eyebrow. I know this posting is wrong on so many levels and readers, I apologise. Trust me - in the books (a guilty pleasure for a woman who is teen obsessed) Chuck Bass is a fat obnoxious arrogant wanker who needs a lesson in both manners and style. In the TV show whilst he remains arrogant, aloof and utterly obnoxious - he is dashingly charming to boot.

The show is faker than a hair extension and has about as much depth, but when Serena Van whatsit shakes her mane and strides off with dull Dan and his bland sister, the screen fizzes to life with bitchy Blair and her male counterpart - Chuck. Thank God for him. TV is so dull at the moment that my Sky+ box is empty - save for my Gossip Girl addiction. It is meant to be the new SATC (Sex and the City) but SATC movie is the new SATC - and the fashion in GG is questionable, which makes the comparisons completely premature. I won't even go into the whole issue that SATC had fabulous plots, genius writers and characters we cared about - all of which GG lacks. GG isn't the new anything - it is a re-hash of the OC and all other high school American over sincere fare - it hasn't an original scene in any episode. But it does have Chuck Bass. For that reason alone I won't be missing a single episode. Have you not seen him yet? All furrowed brow and cat eyes with a splash of Josh Harnett and the sexiest voice since Willam Dafoe. ITV2 Thursdays - go on, treat yourself. You deserve it. But hands off Ladies - I saw him first!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Life and death...

There are only two things in life that are certain - death and taxes. Yet we are so unprepared for both. We forget to put money aside and then are caught short when the bill drops in our door come January - a lovely post Xmas gift. We stroll through life, convinced we are invincible and unprepared to deal with the reality that at some stage our spirits will soar to... wherever you believe.

We are conditioned how to celebrate: births, marriages, birthdays, engagements, promotions and exam results. How come we are never taught how to cope with death? My dear friend's Dad died on Friday. It is not my story to tell, so I won't go into detail. Suffice it is to say that it all was a horrible, tragic shock. An initial diagnosis, a pronouncement of weeks to live, which became days. He was such a lovely man. The kind of Dad you read about in nursery tales. The strong gentle giant who has kind hands and a warm chuckle. Always seeing the positive in life. Broad shoulders to withstand life's storms. Salt of the earth type with no pretensions who made every guest in house truly welcome. I had no idea what to say to her. What can you say? Words fail us.

Bless my friend. She was living in another country - due to fly back in 3 weeks, ironically to spend more time with her family. She knew they weren't getting any younger. How cheated she feels to have cut her plans short and arrive back, not to even have one day with her Father, where he was his true self. I wanted to reach out to her, hold her tight, make it better. All I could say was 'I am so sorry,' and listen while she wept. I cuddled sproglet, gave husband a break and counted my blessings. I felt useless. Unable to offer up anything of value. Death makes us all mute. We mean well and everything but words catch in our throats. Some people avoid talking to people in the aftermath of death - I remember one boy who never offered condolences when my Grandmother died one Xmas. He studiously kept away from me, being the only friend that said absolutely nothing to me. There was some romantic detrius between us which I think confused the issue too - but his silence bothered me. No-one knew what to say - but the fact they even tried was enough.

In Mexico people bring gifts to the grave - such as whickey and cards and things that the living person loved - and celebrate the 'day of the dead.' In Ireland a wake can go on for days - I remember drinking a bottle of port the night before my Grandfather's death (my Dad had to feed me headache tablets with my head still on the pillow in order for me to get to the funeral)- but in most cases we um and err and back away, afraid that we say the wrong thing, prick a nerve and cause more heartache. Worse - the person may show emotion in front of us and we will curse the fact we have caused them more pain. In truth, we haven't. Death is full of so much pain that I guess nothing we say or do will have any effect at all. I just wish sometimes we all knew how to celebrate a person's life and in the same moment - celebrate that their time to pass has come. The circle of life being complete, and blessed that we knew them at all.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Beauty Bollocks

Apparently to rid myself of the golf-ball texture to my thighs I need to either visit a swish Dr based in Paris and subject myself to his advanced (expensive) laser treatment or begin to 'dry skin brush' for 20 -30 mins per day. To keep skin baby smooth I need to exfoliate twice a week. Massage daily. Drink 2 litres or more of water. Cover in mosituriser twice daily. To keep hair glossy and skin soft and plump I also need to eat 5 portions of veg a day (raw best, steamed better, slathered in butter - not at all). Along with protein, 'good' fats and some whole grains. Maybe take a B6, Vit C, Vit E, Fibre provider, well-being type supplement or 10. Brush my teeth after every meal. Floss for 15 minutes daily - make sure I get between every tooth and in every nook and cranny. Use a moisture mask/cleansing mask once a week in order to replace 'vital nutrients.' Maybe fit in a few facial exercises to stop my skin from sagging to my chest.

I should cleanse, tone and moisturise daily. Using a different mosituriser morning and night. Pluck eyebrows before they resemble Noel Gallagher on a bad day. Shave under arms and legs. Get lady garden waxed so no stray hairs escape while swimming and someone assumes a spider is making it's way down my leg. Have nails freshly manicured - along with a facial once a month. Maybe opt for an eyelash tint or perm. Make sure I am wearing the correct bra and get measured often as cup sizes frequently change - we are aiming for 2 breasts, not four spilling out of ill-fitting cups. Hair cut every 6 weeks, deep conditioning hair masks frquently to ward off split ends. Highlights 4 times a year minimum to stop the two tone look I am currently sporting. I haven't even begun with make-up, anti-aging products, serums lotions and potions to fake tan, anti-oxidate, replenish lost moisture, delay the aging process with micro-infusion-quick-absorbtion-derma-pigment-protection-laboratory-tested-unique-hydration-concentration etc etc. Lip plumpers, eyelash conditioning, skin dermabrations and eye serums all are necessary if I don't want to end up a haggard old bag by 40.

Who has the time in their day, or even their life to succumb to the beauty rituals required to have 'Gwyneth's hot bod!' 'Madonna's abs' and 'Sonia from Eastender's entire body transformation!!' (She still looks a bit odd). Most of these folk have trainers, chefs, housekeepers, beautitians, hairdressers and above all - magazine re-touchers to air brush them into perfection. We on the other hand, have wonderful women's mags to remind us of all the many things we should be doing in the quest for eternal youth, size 4 hips and Gwynnie style polished grooming. Gotta run - as I throw Grazia in the bin - I don't have time to read it - got a thigh to brush to oblivion.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Transition traumas.


I made it through my first week back at work... full time work that is. The great things about my week:

1. An assistant script editor joined the same day as me and she is super lovely. To have a partner in crime (or in my case, someone to watch 6 weeks worth of Eastenders with) was fantastic. She is a girl's girl. Supportive and warm. Really helped me not feel like the lumbering Mother trying to squeeze herself back into the working world only to find that the world has moved on fifty years since I last did the 9-5 grind.

2. Everyone at work seems lovely and understanding about the fact I have no idea what anyone is talking about.

3. I have plastic rubber duck fairy lights above my desk for some reason.

4. I visited the Square!! Saw Arthur's bench, Kathy's cafe and the Vic. Embarrassingly excited about it and annoyed I forgot my camera for iconic 'Albert Square' stand-by-the-railings shot.

5. I went out with husband for cocktails at a farewell do.

Bad things about my week:

1. Could I be more nervous? You know that old paranoia that eats away at you - Will they find me out? Suddenly realise it was someone else they were meant to employ and turf me out as soon as it comes to light that I am crap? Can I do the job? Will my writers want to murder me? What is my name again?

2. Sproglet missing me. OH MY GOD. He followed me out even though I put on a DVD and crept out as if I was only popping to the kitchen. I quickly shot down the stairs and once outside the flat door, bent down to tie up my laces. I heard him career down the stairs after me. Then he banged his small fist against the door and howled. My heart sank to my converse and it took every ounce of my willpower to keep on walking out the front door, stomach in knots. Head metaphorically in hands. Heart left battered on the hall floor.

The next day I got wise - placed him in his Dad's arms so they could tickle and cuddle through my surreptitious exit. Husband rang me later to say that the minute Sproglet heard the front door bang he flew down the stairs and performed his banging on the door lament, then was mopey all morning and clingy when he was dropped to his child minder (whom he loves). If guilt were a monster it would be Jaws and I would be Robert Shaw in the scene where the shark chows down on him - as he slides down the boat into his hungry gaping mouth.

3.Husband is now having to get up when I head to work at 8:40am. (Train 8:48). He has a window of 2-3 hours before Sproglet goes to his childminder (a GODDESS full to the brim with patience and a telepathic ability to control Sproglet). Husband gets in at 3am/4am ish and then is up 4 hours later. He is tired. Super grumpy. Oh and I don't see him. We leave those dreadful cliched housemate type notes to each other ('Take out the bin'; 'wash dishes' 'we need milk' etc.) Romance has jumped out the window and down the street, never to be seen again. So Thursday evening was a big deal. We had a sitter and were actually going out together on an evening to Pocket's leaving do. We got there to discover it was at a ridiculously trendy bar where all the girls wore strappy tops, big earrings, scarves and giant heels and the boys had more products in their hair than Boots would stock for Xmas. It was so 'meeja' and youthful that I felt about 75. The music - thud thud thud - reverberated off the walls and husband declared he was leaving the moment we arrived.

I was so torn. My dear, dear friend Fran (Pocket) was leaving to go to LA with her lovely husband - FOREVER - and my husband wanted to walk. That good old 'friend v partner' debate. He bought a drink and sulked outside. I tried to explain to Pocket why husband was now an ogre. I understood he was tired, but I had looked forward to this night and just needed to let off some steam after such a transitional week. Pocket understood thankfully. My toes curled as husband pointedly refused another drink in front of a group of folk and stared me out with the look of death. Realising I needed to leave immediatly or he would divorce me - I said my hurried farewells, unable to get a decent goodbye (we Irish love our lengthy goodbyes that normally involve a 5 course meal, 3 toasts, a bottle of port, a cup of tea, 2 biscuits and 16 hugs)and didn't get to say hello or even goodbye to Steph - a girl who I was dying to have a great yarn with, as she used to work where I now do.

As I hugged Pocket (my rock in the past 2 years) - the one person I relied on most in my lonely Motherhood journey; the girl who always made time to pop in for a coffee no matter how busy her life; who cheered me through my job hell and who offers the best advice in the world (fact) - the tears spilled. It was like the boy and the dam - but the bugger took his finger out and the water kept a comin'. Husband and I went for dinner and he sent me to the ladies as I wept so much people were staring. You know you should stop the cocktails when you tell strangers in the loo your dramas as they try to dry their hands and they look frightened. Not for you. By you.

I blame PMT. Tiredness. The stress of trying to exchange on a house when mortgage folk are complete NUMPTIES. Losing a dear friend to another continent. Missing Sproglet. Going back to work stress. Etc. Etc. We rowed for oh... a good two hours. Who had the most stress? Did the most in the flat/for Sproglet? That lovely competitive row that gets nowhere and you go in circles until you wonder why you ever even shared a plate of chips never mind a life together. I drank far too many vanilla martinis and sobbed in the cab. If I had thrown up it would have a be a re-run of many nights out in my 20s, but instead - now in my 30s, I ended up weeping on my child minder's shoulder. She stroked my hair in a tender Mother-like way and I felt soothed.

Husband and I talked yesterday briefly. He sent loving texts. I had a moan to my best mate over wine (always helps to vent). Today we snuggled together in bed and laughed again. Sproglet keeps giving me lots of kisses. It is a time of change for our relationship, our family life as we knew it - juggling jobs, a house move and parenthood with little help isn't easy. I don't do change too well. But the dust will eventually settle. Until then I'll avoid the martinis and stock up on Evening Primrose oil.

Have a good bank holiday weekend y'all.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Money Money Money

Why are we so fucking obsessed with money? Seriously? Since I got new job, I have lost count the number of people who have asked - not even remotely embarrassed 'Is the money good?' A fairly standard question - but it always makes me frown. Reason being is that I have never worked purely for money. Ever. Honestly - hand on heart - apart from a few crappy presenting jobs and a stint waitressing at a poncy Moroccan restaurant run by a coke ravaged ego-manic, I have pretty much only worked at something that I enjoy - that makes (as trite as this sounds) my soul soar.

It's not to say I haven't suffered for this pleasure - my career has forced me to shed far more tears than I ever did over any ill fated romance. I just cannot do a job I hate. When I was 16 I glass collected for a pittance at a local squash and tennis club in Belfast. I would weave amongst the merry drinkers at the late license bashes and blush when the odd man flirted or asked me to dance. My confidence, which at that point - thanks to unfortunate teeth, having not befriended the humble tweezer and the boys at school being very cruel - was in the toilet, took a huge leap. I pocketed numbers and tips and compliments galore. I clearly remember the thrill of being so young amongst a sea of haggard drunken old women. (I clearly AM now one of those haggard drunken old women - but I digress). I loved watching older folk make twats of themselves when drunk: (so it wasn't just us teenagers then?) trying to dance sexily after 12 pints of Guinness or making a clumsy pass at a someone who proffers a cheek.

Since then I have worked as a barmaid all over the world - I know every dodgy chat up line and how to make a mean liquid ecstasy shooter - before I moved onto TV land. Occasionally when the bills came a callin' I have had to be an associate producer on a crap show or present on a quiz channel or two... but truth is - I did get something from these - and not just a paycheck. At a quiz channel the staff were so lovely that I would frequently arrive with a face like thunder and have such a laugh on set that by the time I left I'd be a brighter soul. If I'm not challenged, inspired or passionate about my job - I can't do it. Husband often tells me I am so damn readable. He can tell within 30 seconds whether or not I like someone. Things generally are written all over my face. I can't pretend to like someone, a situation or food on my plate. If it doesn't rock my world, it's outta there... Don't mistake me for an all or nothing kinda gal either - husband hates my liberal shades of grey. But in my working life - I have to love it - I can't spend 40 hours a week somewhere that cages me and stops me from being me. I often used to think I could only be a presenter or a barmaid - as I got fired from BT's Directory enquiries for being too damn friendly on the phone! Unbelievable but true. A girl who wore a silk neck scarf (says it all really) happily fired me after a mere two weeks training and escorted me from the premises. What did they think I'd do - nick a headset? I was deemed unsuitable because I would stop to chat to people who called up - just giving them a number bored the hell out of me. So I was axed. The only job that has ever fired me.

So I begin my new career excited and inspired and I honestly had no idea what script editors earn. It didn't matter to me. All that mattered was doing a job I love. Because that is worth more than all the money in the world. Or maybe that is just me...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Leaving Sproglet

There is a huge unmovable lump in my throat. A dreaded feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am damn excited to start work on Monday - in a job I will love and have waited a long time to get. But I have to leave Sproglet. Monday won't be so bad - he will be with husband. But the rest of the week, when I chomp a quick breakfast with him then race out the door and then only see him in time for a quick play, bath and bed, a gnawing feeling will eat away at me. A whole day will have passed and I will have missed all his new learning curves. Last summer when I worked at Emmerdale for a month, the first week was excruciating. Every day I raced home from the train station on my Aunt's bike and grabbed Sproglet the minute I saw him. I nuzzled and snuggled him, drank in his smell, took him to see the ducks and wept when I realised I hadn't seen him that day - having left for work before he had stirred.

Last night I craved him so much I brought him into bed with me. His wispy hair tickled my face and he moved round and round until I gave up my selfish needs to cuddle him to within an inch of his life and deposited him back in his cot. Husband woke me with kisses and we dashed into his room - a favourite hobby of ours - to watch our tot sleeping and marvel at how wonderful he is. Husband had had a few drinks and was in that soft mushy mood where he pontificates about how much he loves us both. I tell him how Sproglet came out for my child minder's b'day - and he planted a kiss on a little girl who took a shine to him. Then he ran off, having teased her with his affection. She duly chased him, never managing to secure another smacker. How he refused pizza but ate a tonne of dough balls. How he rejected the ice cream but opened his mouth wide for the toffee chunks. How his trousers fell down as he raced around the restaurant causing two tables to fall about laughing. We ooh and ahhh and go gooey for the little boy who has changed our lives forever.

Yesterday he ran between husband and I giving us liberal amounts of kisses. My heart swells so much I can't love anything more. I cannot believe I am so captivated and in love with him. Watching my boys together is my favourite pastime. What with husband's night hours, my day hours and his working on a Saturday we will have only Sundays together. I can't think about this too much as it makes me sad. I keep thinking of what my friend Justine said - and how I will look outside on a summer day and crave to be in the park, watching Sproglet negotiate climbing up the slide. I want to have a career - I need to be inspired and challenged and to converse with adults, work as a team. But my little boy pulls my heart strings and my ultimate commitment is to him. The eternal juggle begins. I am blessed to have had so much time with him, I know. But nothing - I mean nothing - tears you apart more, than the obligatory Motherhood guilt. Some days I cannot wait to drop him at his child minder's (she knows we are moving and cried 3 times last night, so upset to lose Sproglet) and other days we play in the park, watch Toy Story, eat cup cakes, play with trucks and read 'Where the Wild Things are' six times - and it is just bliss. I'm sure it will get easier. I'm sure I will learn to cope and juggle. But I'm bringing a few tissues with me next week - just in case.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


I had the best sex of my life last night. In my dreams. Literally. With an ex. It was all covert meetings and brushed thighs and loaded looks and wet lips and.... oh, I've come over all a fluster. Strange thing is - it is almost as of husband knew. Just as I was reaching my peak (god bless 35) he shouted out loudly in his sleep and jolted me from my illicit passion. I was out of breath, shocked and disorientated. Relieved and also... er... pissed off. Boy my ex was good - in the dream. In real life - I can't remember actually. Sounds awful to say, but it is all a blur. A past life that thank god, is buried deep in the past. In my dream all my mates knew - they somehow worked it out - due to some letter dropped at the scene of my crime. They all knew and they all gave me merry hell. I felt awful. Rotten. Tempted to do it again. Dear friends of old berated me and ostracised me. I was mortified and unsure how it had all come to pass. For a dream it was frighteningly real. I wish I had jotted down the story because it was soap gold. When I woke, I looked at husband's matted black tufty hair, his long lashes that mirror our son's and his soft features. I was so happy that my deceit was wiped away in the opening of an eye. Yet all of today I kept thinking of the ex. Who is an ex for a reason - many of them. Yet to my horror, he made me smile. Is that bad?


Blood is boiling. Rage overcomes me. My throat goes dry, my muscles tense and a throb begins in my right temple. What has driven me to such distraction? What has made me go loopy and want to scream until I can no longer hear?

Ikea. Dear god it enrages me beyond any other place on earth. I hate the shoddy furniture that can't withstand a good burp, the cheap touch of the fibres and the tacky neon colours that assault my senses from the moment I walk inside. But today - I was forced to visit. No other place on earth it appears, sells blinds (wooden slats) that are 100cm across. B&Q, Homebase etc - are all 120cm. Why is this? So my kind builder - who came round to tell me that my washing machine is in fact broken and we need a new one - drove me there and I scampered quickly through, only stopping at the candle and light section as it is the singular part that I can stomach. I grabbed a few cheap overly sweet vanilla scented tea lights, a few wine glasses and 2 lamps. A furry sheepskin rug for sproglet to curl up in (as he loves one at his godmother's). Got said blind and then paid oh... a mere £25 to get home again.

Once home I discover one wine glass is broken and one lamp. It only cost £8 - but that isn't the point!!!! The point is I had to trek to that godforsaken place and survive the laborious walk round it - and then pay for crap cab home - only to discover the shoddy goods are BROKEN shoddy goods. Yes I am more bitter than a lemon. Plus my bastard mortgage company have valued my flat £50k less than it is worth - and my whole house buying is once again on a precarious knife edge. All this whilst I try and work out when to start work and order furniture and try and get tenants. I am ready to kill.

Just spoke to my good mate Donna who puts my house buying hell into perspective. The poor woman has been due to move since January and some numpty at the bottom of her chain (buying from the people who are buying her place) has dilly dallied needing a Muslim mortgage (as Muslims cannot borrow money) which is fine - but his conveyancer makes Ikea look unshoddy. Today it all fell through - her house by the way is packed and ready to go. Her dream home awaits. But her vendor put it back on the market and has had a better offer - so it looks like she has lost her dream home. To say she is devastated is an understatement. I try to tell her that it means an even better home awaits her. That in this market - she can get a great deal. But they are empty words - because after all she has been through she deserves that house. Not for her whole chain to disintegrate before her eyes - and not on account of what she has or hasn't done - but because of other weak parts of the chain.

My tip - stay put. If you can. This market is a mare for all but savvy business men who can spot a bargain, smell desperation and move in for the kill, their fins circling as the desperate seller goes under. Whilst the rich bonus boys in the city who caused this catastrophe count their pennies and recline to watch their 42" TVs the rest of us mere mortals pay the price. I'm off to suck on another lemon.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Night tremors....

What do you think about when you lie in bed at night? The shopping list? To remember to buy your partner that anti-snoring spray? What great sex you've just had? (Sorry -it's just a friend of mine grilled me last week about how regular my bedroom activities were - she was smug with the glow of obscene amounts of sex as she has been with her partner a whole 10 months! They are still in that 'can't get enough of you - whip 'em off quick' stage - which I remember very fondly. They gave me pitying looks when I admitted I didn't swing from the chandeliers every night of the week. I quickly told them to get back to me 7 years and one child in, with her getting up at 8:30am every day and him hitting the hay at 3am every morning and then see how damn frisky one can be in those brief windows). Anyway - I have my most creative (and stressed out) thoughts as I wait for the sandman. I've decided to keep a dictaphone beside my bed, as all too often that killer retort I wish I'd had, the best blog ideas (in fact entire posts), the perfect 'discussion' I am keen to have with husband, all come to me in the darkness and are long forgotten by the time sproglet hollers the next morning.

Those niggles in my stomach get darn busy when the lights go off. I lie there (convinced I can hear mice - I will not rest until we are moved. No, it isn't funny) and little knots of fear start to twist and turn. These thoughts have been kinder since I got the Eastenders job but still they begin to beat their drums with the topics such as 'will this move work out?' and lists of things I have to do and 'how will I ever drive anywhere as I am a crap driver?' etc etc.

I twist and turn and try to drown out the metaphorical voices that yabber away worse than me after a several mohitos. Thus I have decided that a good nights slumber must be at the top of my list from now on and I have resolved to get a memory foam mattress and spend some serious wonga to make sure the minute my head hits the supportive pillow that I am OUT! I don't mind a few creative ideas spinning in there - whether it be aha! that is the colour I should be painting the lounge or a solution to a tricky scene in a script or even just a way to fit more into the next day or what to cook for friends that weekend. But I want to banish the insecure demons who wait all day in the shadows only to pounce when the lights go down.

So I must dash - I have beds and mattresses to check out. Dust mite resistant. Pocket sprung. Cushioned NASA spacemen during take -off. Etc. So sleep tight and don't let the demons bite!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

How will this work?

How is it supposed to work exactly - when I get start this new job? Husband has been living a somewhat pampered existence (he would dispute this) with my routine as follows: (sorry in advance if this sends you to a slumber - it sent me on anti-depressants) 8:15 up with sproglet. Make him breakfast. Hang with him while he eats and try to wake up. Sproglet plays with toys, I make him two nutritious meals to take with him to child minder and pack his bag - usually involving stir fries, boiling noodles, potatoes, carrots, grilling chicken etc. Try being Jamie Oliver every day - it is exhausting! Dress him. Tidy his room. Put on wash. Put out wash. Put away dried washing. Shower. Sproglet does Nemo or Monsters Inc. Tidy house for prospective buyers/tenants (hiding every sign of us living here) - this takes forever. In our small flat all storage space is full to the MAX. Latest spot - hide all under sproglet's cot. Dress - try to be creative, give up and wear usual jeans, white vest top under black top ensemble. Dry hair, spot of make up to try and look human. By this stage it is normally noon. Husband - sleeps.

Take sproglet to childminder and script read, organise house move, food shop to make sure sproglet has milk, wipes, cereal, eggs etc. etc. etc. Forget gyming it - body combat and my waist have gone by the wayside in this hectic era. Go through solicitor's papers, call mortgage man, try and pick a bed etc. Those 6 hours go mighty quickly.

6pm get sproglet back (this is only on Tues/Wed/Thurs - other days I have sproglet all day). Play for an hour, visit the park. Bath him, dress him, bottle and story. 8pm make myself dinner. Collapse on sofa. Notice how sofa needs cleaning. Wash bedding, towels etc. Normally watch all TV dramas to find new writers and to know my soaps inside out in order to find work. Riveting day eh? Sorry - are you still there? Thank god, thought you had gone to open a vein.

How will I ever juggle a full time job, sproglet and looking after a house (plus the move??) It took me all afternoon yesterday to research child care in our new neck of the woods - and we have only two possible nurseries - one of which may be full!! My lists are endless. Husband - sleeps - oh and works. Kind of like a bar vampire.

How we will juggle our lives and careers and a small child in between - with me working days and him nights? Will we see each other? Will he ever see sproglet? I voice these worries and he shushes me. It will all work out he says. I want to kill him as what he means is - you will somehow cope with full time job (described by one BBC exec as 'the hardest two years of your life') and picking up sproglet and taking him to nursery, and the house move and being able to do the shop/housework etc. I will try. I want to keep up Samaritans too - yes, I will be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d beyond belief. But hey - better to be busy than bored. But oh my god - how appealing does an afternoon of Danielle Steel trash movies and cupcakes feel now eh?

When I read that the non-entity singer/model/whatever-I-can-be-that-doesn't-require- any-training Lisa B has written a 'lifestyle book' I wanted to vomit on her. How dare someone who is married to a property tycoon multi-millionaire, replete with nannies and housekeepers and the like - try and tell ME how to have a perfect lifestyle!!! How to throw a well catered dinner party, have no cellulite and teach my kids yoga and find the ultimate truffle. I want to invite her round for a day at chez crummy mummy and then see what she advises. Why the vacuous rich idle away their days as yummy mummies telling us mere mortals how to live our lives - I have no idea. Will I buy this book? I would rather have a smear test every day for the rest of my life.The pictures of this book show Lisa in cashmere casual wear (think The White Company) in a yoga position, with fruit bowl in front of her, on a white daybed staring out at her lake. Yes, that's right - lake. Next to her mansion in the country. This woman isn't giving us advice on how to get through the day sans breakdown - she is smugly going 'look what I have. Unattainable - get me!' If she is a woman's woman I will eat my bra. In the photos there is not a puke stain, mushed tangerine or greasy hair in sight. It is all tranquility spa, fluffy and white. It is about as realistic as Jordan's breasts.

Vent over.

Ok - I am off to wake or murder husband. Not sure which.

Is it wrong to crave a martini at 11:15am?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

My neck of the woods

I've lived in my little neck of the woods for 9 years. Its a long time to be in one place - particularly in the fluid city of London. I arrived here in this leafy village in zone 2 as a recently unemployed associate producer - desperate to become a presenter. Sharing a plush airy mansion block flat with 3 other girls. There was Claire who had just split up with her boyfriend and was in the summer of woe (which became the autumn of booty-calling and the winter of discontent followed by a spring exit out of the UK) - she spent all her free time using retail therapy to mend her broken heart. Why else would a woman buy three types of facial glitter and a pair of Gucci sandals to go travelling in? Caroline - the work-a-holic who smoked like a chimney and rarely got out of her Pjs before 6pm on a Sunday. She was looking for love but ended up dating men who would try and persuade her to give them hand jobs under the bar table. Singledom was far more appealing, especially as she only had a night off once in a blue moon. Finally there was Nikki, who thought doritos and cream cheese were a staple diet, wore the most colourful clothes in the whole of London and dated many frogs in search of her prince. I lived in the lounge, which the girls still used as a lounge - we all used to pile into my bed and onto my sofa for our weekly Dawson's Creek rituals, replete with Sunday Papers. I began presenting on a teen channel and was well paid, with a wardrobe allowance to boot and yet I still found reasons to complain - mainly about my wasteland of a love life. About 20 seconds away was a cafe that we basically lived in - once we moved out they shut down, clearly we had kept them afloat - and would stomp there every night to moan about work and boys.

They were happy years - in between the beer goggle snogs with unsuitable boys (remind me to tell you my 17 year old masquerading as a 20 year old cookie boy story another time) the overdrafts and my yo-yo career in TV. There was always something going on: a party, a launch, a showcase, a free screening with free wine and tasty sarnies. We were each other's family - home from home. It couldn't last. Claire buggered off to NZ, Nikki moved in with her man and I bought a flat. I only moved down the road but the difference was acute. I rented out my spare room to a boy for a start - and desperately missed my girlie chats. Who to go to when I ran out of tampax? I still miss those days occasionally. The 'stealth' nights out in our 'operation summer'(a plan to kiss as many boys as poss - no more mind, we were moral girls) when we wore little make up and a lot of attitude and whirled like dervishes on the sweaty sticky dancefloor of our local late-nite dive 'Latelys.' I became a member the first time I went there - I still am. Gordon the owner never charged me to get in. I lost count of the number of random boys I would write my phone no on the arms of. In the dim pink neon strip lighting we would down vile shots and sexily shimmy to drive the boys wild. Except the boys were wild already - neanderthals in pressed shirts hunting prey and avoiding relationships.

I loved the area - I could walk to 3 different cinemas; drink until 3am in two local drinking dens (the kind of places where requesting Madonna's 'Beautiful Stranger' or Britney's 'Hit me Baby one more time' was not considered uncool); there was a bustling Sainsburies, a posh Waitrose and lots of restaurants and bars. I made friends with the boys in the Video store (that became DVDs), the owners of the local Italian - it became my second home and in fact I later invited them to my wedding - and the folk in the dry cleaning store and the bagel bakery. Out went my miserly lodger, in came one of my girls. When she left my boyfriend moved in. My small second bedroom had been my room from day 1, then my first 'living with my boyfriend' room; the room that he proposed in, the room sproglet was conceived in and is now sproglet's room. I saw out my twenties in this flat - had so many different folk to stay on my crummy sofa bed - left this flat to get married, returned to it from honeymoon. Brought sproglet home from hospital.

My memories are mainly all good: (apart from the summer of hell after I had sproglet and it was 37 degree heat, with builders creating dust clouds and enough noise to wake the dead) power walking on the Heath with my friend Magster - followed by cake and tea - we knew exercise required rewarding; drunken nights spilling out of Latelys trailing feather boas with my friend Sam (who discovered this area long before I did); many meals in La Brocca followed by lock-ins and helping ourselves to drinks behind the bar; the buzz of the place in the summer, the first chills of autumn walking to the movies down a much-used side path and the twinkling fairy lights lighting up the lampposts to announce Xmas is imminent. Finally the cute turtle that swims in the O2 centre fish tanks, who I am convinced recognises me and waves accordingly with his little fin.

I am ready to move on - to have a proper house, to drive to work like a grown up and to have room for more than 3 people in the lounge at once. I will miss my dear friends in the area - Pocket who is heading to LA anyway, Gerry and Lis who pop round with beers or a bottle - willing to lend helping hands at sproglet's bath time, Rachel who pounds the air with me at body combat, Kate who joins me for cakeathons in Hampstead, my amazing child minder who has looked after sproglet for almost 2 years (when I told her we were moving she was fine - I cried) and always is flexible and genuinely loves him. I am excited to move on, but a little part of my heart will be left behind here. No doubt on moving day I will shed a few tears. Forgive me in advance - this area will always be home to me - no matter where I am.