Monday, 31 March 2008


Do you ever dream of escape? A world away from the mundane grey existence that the daily grind has been reduced to? I remember when I had just had sproglet. I desperately wanted some respite. I knew post section that a tube journey was out of the question and it never occurred to me to get a cab - so I reckoned the furthest I could get away had to be on foot. Not for me the fantasies of Hawaii and an oiled Brad Pitt lookey-likey rubbing my rolls of flesh or a spa retreat to pamper me into oblivion - no, all I craved was a night at the Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn. The thought of the air conditioned rooms, clean sheets and the ability to sleeeeeeeeeeeep a whole night through was my idea of ultimate escape. Bless me.

We get those moments (my most recent one was post Easter) when we need to down tools and get the hell outta there. I am blessed. I have a retreat to run to. My Auntie M's. She is amazing - a product from another innocent era, where men worked and women tended the home: where cakes are made daily and scones are whipped up in the blink of an eye. I arrive to hot baths, roast dinners and shortbread. She gets up with sproglet and lets me lie in until 10am!!! My clothes are washed and pressed and left back in my room as if the laundry genie (that husband believes in) actually exists. She slips fivers in my pocket and runs me to the cinema, babysitting sproglet. She asks me what I want for dinner and always has hummus in the fridge. And home made jam. She is the Uber Mother. I feel secure and calm and my stress just melts away. She lives in York - a quaint beautiful city (until the bloody tourists take over). I wander around the town, pausing to watch street entertainers (they were my big crush when I was an over-romantic 15 year old, I thought them glamorous a bit dirty and inviting - like circus folk)shoving home-made ice cream in my mouth and popping in and out of clothes shops - finally having the time to try on an item or two. She lives next to a small lake and it is utterly surprising how good feeding pesky ducks can make you feel(even though sproglet chased a goose today and I fell on my arse in the mud trying to stop the bird from taking out his eyes). All too soon the day rolls round when I have to leave - say goodbye to the over-flowing cake tin, the meals that appear from nowhere and the pretty green garden that catches the sun in the mornings.

I get on the train for the big smoke and bite my lip. It is never easy to leave. When I used to visit every summer as a child, my Aunt then lived in another area - teaming with kids - they used to form an arrivals committee on the bench at the end of her road, cheering as I climbed out of the car, delirious to be there. I would play out from sunrise to sunset: bombing around on a borrowed bike, climbing trees and building playhouses, eating hot salty chips with scraps (a Yorkshire thing - little flecks of batter that have fallen from the fish - heavenly) and sucking frozen ice pops until our foreheads hurt and our lips were stained blue. I wore a T-shirt with an ironed-on tigers head and skin tight jeans and had a crush on the boy across the road who had a big nose and brother who did wheelies on his motorbike. Summers felt like they went on forever to a soundtrack of 'Fame' 'Eye of the Tiger' and 'Frankie' by Sister Sledge. Every time my case was packed and the goodbyes were said I would sob the whole way to the airport and the whole flight home to Ireland. I remember a woman once taking me under her wing convinced I had a fear of flying - I just hated to leave my haven.

26 years on and it is still my escape destination. I leave again tomorrow. There may be no-one to wave me off bar my Aunt and Uncle, I'm not leaving behind a cherished bike and a secret stash of 'Top Deck' shandies, but I'll be sad all the same...

Friday, 28 March 2008

Closet teenager

Christ I am 35 in 2 weeks. What the feck is that all about? thirty.... five. It's a new box for starters. In any questionnaire, job application thingy.25 - 29? 30 - 34? and eek - 35 - 39!!! One day and suddenly - boom! You are a whole year older (wiser?) and well... I just don't feel it. Don't get me wrong, on days Sproglet runs circles round me, I have PMT and husband makes me contemplate 1st degree murder - I feel 156. But most of the time - I am still 17!! I am a sucker for a John Hughes movie, I love Dawson's creek, my music taste is firmly planted circa 1986 and I would have sleepovers if it wasn't illegal at my age - I am still a youth! Make-up excites me, I love boy chats and would spend half my life on the phone if only someone else would chat at length with me... I am a closet teenager at heart. Heck, I still get spots.

Do you remember Jackie magazine? I started reading it when I was 9 to collect (swoon)'Adam and the Ants' posters. It was meant for girls who had periods and wanted to know about french kissing and whether or not pedal pushers worked with tuck-a-boots or not but I aspired to all the problems on the 'Cathy and Claire' page and read it to feel older and and more mature - even though I had no idea what 'discharge' meant amongst other things. I moved on to Just 17, then mags in my Mum's hairdressing shop that had tantalising problem pages and excerpts of Jilly Cooper's 'Riders' to pour over. It was great to get an 'in' on subjects that were far removed from my suburban dull teenage existence in Belfast. I couldn't wait to escape my mundane life. The same boring pub every weekend. The same tedious rugby boys to have crushes on (or not as the case may be - I loved a boy called Gareth who never washed his hair and wore pink baseball boots - I called him, 'the artist' when actually he should have been called 'the wanker').

Point is - I wanted to get the hell outta there so bad. And now as I approach this number - a number that doesn't feel remotely like ME or anything to do with me - I crave the simplicity and ok, drama of a teenage life. Better than stewing about a job at Eastenders or a fucking mortgage offer eh? If only all my worries were getting a politics essay in on time, whether or not my teenage love was going to call me that evening or 'to take or not take' the pill... I kept diaries all my life - they are truly sad. And amazing. And sadly not so far removed from who I am now. My good friend Eleanor went to school with me. She had about as much interest in french as I had - so all we did was pass or throw notes to each other - and I got a sore neck from trying to oggle 'the artist' in the classroom behind. Eleanor secretly kept all these notes and recently gave them to me. And weirdly, I had some of her scribblings too. They made me laugh and cry. Laugh at how ridiculous and (shock horror) overly dramatic I was. Cry - because I was so full of potential and inspiration and niave ambitions. It would be years before I became the bitter old lemon that I am. Eleanor got pregnant at school. I was shocked - I didn't even know she was having sex - in fact she was the kind of girl I wasn't even sure knew how to have sex. Anyway she had a baby and did her A levels 2 days later. Passed with flying colours, went on to Uni, did a PHD etc. - is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. She sweetly kept a letter I wrote to her(aged 17) when I learned she was expecting - I read it again - age 34, and oddly I would write the very same letter today.

Inwardly I am still that 17 year old - desperate to get amongst it and be challenged, succeed against all costs and make something of myself. I still am a sad old romantic at heart and would watch 'The Breakfast Club' until the cows came home. My favourite times are still with folk I knew when I was 17. I still get a thrill out of an illict cigarette (being a preachy non-smoker for 7 years). So as I approach such a ridiculous age - if anyone fancies a sleep-over, smoking their first joint and talking about which base to go to with the captain of the rugby team - give me nudge, I'm there in a heartbeat. And can I bring Madonna's 'True Blue album?'

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Baby blues - pass the soapbox please

Forgive me in advance. But I had had a crappy Easter. I was putting on some make-up, waiting for the lunchtime news on Easter Monday and it was on TV. Yes, I caught a few minutes of 'Loose Women'. Normally this is akin to enduring a smear test - but their chit-chat topic of the day intrigued me. Terri Dwyer (actressy presenter type) was on plugging her new DIY style show - this was as dull as dishwater. But then the women moved on to the subject of how Terri apparently used to host Loose Women, but left when she had a baby. They asked the typical inane questions about her taking time to lose the baby weight etc and then they ventured into the territory of how she enjoyed motherhood. I expected the usual gush of how it had enriched her life, is the whole point of living blah blah blah - when she admitted she had struggled in the first few months and although she loved her son to death, she had found it hard to adjust to her new role and became quite depressed. She said it was a relief to go back to work; that she had struggled to breast feed and it had taken several months to get it established. She didn't automatically take to motherhood like a duck to water and felt bad because of it. Whilst she didn't have post natal depression, she definitely had the blues but was too ashamed to talk about it. Well, this chat forced me to stop applying my mascara and wave the wand around in joy. Not because I would wish any woman any kind of suffering - but because someone had actually opened up about her difficulties - even saying, and I quote 'I expected it to be all ribbons and bows and when it wasn't I felt like I had failed.'

A friend of mine had a baby just before Xmas and only recently admitted to me that whilst she didn't have depression - she cried for several weeks, completely in shock just how much her life had been taken over by her gorgeous wee one. She said she knew that being a Mother would change her life but she had been totally unprepared for the extent to which she lost her life and identity. I remember seeing her 18 days after she had sprogged and bless her - she was exhausted, looking pale and gaunt and barely able to hold a conversation. Now I know we all know how hard the first few months can be - that is a given - but I am interested in the expectations we all put upon ourselves; the image we all have of idyllic blissed-out motherhood and the disappointment we all feel when it isn't quite as we'd hope. Do we tell people? I don't know about you, but all but one midwife that visited me scared the bejessus out of me and I strived to please them the way a class swot would lick up to a teacher. I cried when husband went back to work and I was left alone with my wee mite. I loved him but oh my god, I missed my life! I remember going to the cinema when he was 10 days old and it felt as if a lifetime had passed since husband and I had taken the familiar 15 minute walk to the flicks. It was a hot humid day cooling slightly as evening approached and he held my sweaty hand and I yearned for life to be this simple again.

One midwife - a woman with twins, one of whom was disabled - admitted to me how she had struggled. How she demanded a section after fainting the first time she witnessed a 4th degree tear birth during her training. She seemed to be real and honest and didn't jolly me along impressing upon me what I should be doing to be a 'perfect' mother. I begged her to come back but my sproglet weighed so much that I had to be signed off for home visits. I shudder to think what would have happened without those visits - and yet the government are considering abolishing them! When a woman is at her most vulnerable, when she has a whole new world to cope with - the male orientated government would consider abandoning her??

I digress. It just got me thinking. I've had quite a few personal emails from friends I have sent the crummymummy blog details to - all saying that it is great to have something so honest to identify with. How many of us keep schtum when we are inwardly caving - determined to prove 'we can cope!' For fear of not being a 'good mother.' Husband often tells me I am not a natural mother - but I am a good one. Whatever this means. The way some folk can dive gracefully or whip up Ramsey style feasts or lick their toes - we all have different talents. Some of us adapt to Motherhood in an instant, instinctively knowing what to do and when to do it. It took me 7-8 weeks to get to grips with sproglet and feel like I was making progress. I had to get a train alone with him and the thought of the 2 and a half hour journey brought me out in a cold sweat and hot tears. Once I did it (sproglet slept and then stared at two pretty girls who got an hour before London) I felt like I had scaled a mountain! It gave me confidence and I went from there.

My moral is - don't suffer in silence, you'd be surprised how many of us are out there. And we get through it and live to write about the tale.

Monday, 24 March 2008

The worst thing in the world.....

The worst thing in the world happened this morning. I am shaking as a type. Excuse the drama but please note I have an extreme phobia about two things - birth and mice. Well vermin of any kind don't do it for me in truth. This morning - at oh 4:20 am I was woken. Not by a sound - that in itself would have been horrific. But by a feeling. A banging from my mattress that went 'gung' 'gung' 'gung'. As if something was coming out of my bed - Freddie Krugar like (if you remember the scene in Nightmare on Elm St where Freddie came actually out of a bed with a fetching sheet straining over his mutilated head). I waited. I am mad I thought. But no, something was banging in my bed. Maybe underneath it, maybe in it's drawers. But deffo in my bed. I woke husband. He was furious. Beyond enraged. He claimed I was making it up. I asked him to turn on the light and pull out the bed in proof. He cursed me and pushed the bed aside to reveal a smattering of droppings. I was not mad. There was indeed something rodent like making itself a brand new home in my knicker drawer. Shaking, I left the room. Impossible for me to even contemplate sharing my room let alone my bed with a small monster. Husband? He went back to bed. Helpful to a T. Me - shaking mess. Where has this beast come from?

Just after Xmas I had another visit from our furry friends. To me, this was the worst horror - returning from Xmas to discover a mouse had been in. I crawled around the floor - a super mouse sleuth - and investigated for droppings. There was a small hole next to the kitchen door - which thankfully had been closed so mousey had only been in one room - my son's. This distressed me most of all and I made husband go in and take the room apart - brandishing a baseball bat - in the hope he would catch our unwanted guest. No sign of the bastard. I went round every radiator - filled every small hole with wire wool and contented myself that house was mouse-proof. That night my cousin and his girlfriend came to stay. There was no evidence of any more mice visiting again. The following night I headed to bed but unable to sleep I got up and made my way to the bathroom - and something in the dark scuttled past my foot. I screamed louder than if I had been in labour - my cousin and his girlfriend came dashing out of the lounge (they were on the sofa bed) and I cowered inside the bathroom, unsure whether to ever come out again. Tentatively I opened the door and screamed at Cuz to put on the light. He thought there had been an intruder. Trembling, I told him what had happened and deduced the only place the wee bugger could have run into - was my open bedroom door. I dashed up the small flight of stairs to my room and clung to my cousin like he was a hero in an action film. He crept down the stairs trying to imagine the horror that had come before, when his girlfriend shouted 'What's that?' Lo and behold a tiny mouse (she actually thought it one of my son's toys)was crouching in the corner of a stair. My cousin who can see nothing without his lenses - swung at it with a bat but the mouse tore down the stairs. I sent my cousin after it - dressed only in his pants. He hunted and discovered the blighter had escaped under my door. I sent Cuz out said door into a shared hall - where he found a massive hole around a pipe. I was prepared. I had bought that stuff that foams out and fills holes - and cousin and his brave girlfriend filled anything resembling a hole to within an inch of its life. We deemed the place a mouse free zone.

Until now.

The pest control folk will be here at 10am. £125 plus VAT. Bargain. Don't think I will ever be able to sleep in that bed ever again.

Part 2:

So a burly chap called Rod with no hair, a goatee beard and specs that magnified his eyes to enormous peepers, arrived at 8:30am. I think I told him I loved him before he had even got up the stairs. I had to wake husband who was disgusted. I didn't care. Rod my saviour had arrived. With a name like 'Rod' he sounded safe as houses. It's one of the those names isn't it? Like 'Ken' or 'Ron'. Safe, reliable - in good hands. Rod set to work and turned my tidy bedroom upside down in a bid to catch my unwanted guest. I heard him pull out my knicker/tights/socks drawer and for a moment was a bit embarrassed that Rod would be rooting around my smalls. This mere blush deepened somewhat when I remembered that an old Xmas gift from my best mate Esther lay gathering dust at the back of the drawer: my rampant rabbit - who was more of a resting rabbit these days. Next to it is a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs given to me on my hen night - I wonder what a delightful visual Rod had of me when he made these discoveries. He thundered around and came out the door a sweaty mess. He had spied the unwanted guest.

He returned with 'glue boards' and wire wool and various hunter type equipment, but was dismayed when mousey had given him the slip and disappeared up, or below the chimney. Kindly he filled all the holes and left me wire mesh to stop mousey, Santa or even Mary bleedin' Poppins getting down my chimney! He didn't meet my eye when he apologised about having to take out my drawers from beneath my bed. I tried to laugh off him having touched my pants but we both knew what he had really seen.

Kind calm Rod left after we had a twenty minute discussion on mouse proofing a home -apparently I have been meticulous at this - and he was shocked that a blighter had got past my fortress style precautions. I set to tidying the flat on a mere 3 hours sleep. That and getting sproglet ready for his child minder - thank the lord for her today. The rest of the afternoon was spent discovering my laptop has stopped working (my good friend Lisa came over and lent me hers - what an angel) my front door lock breaking and checking on my paint job that was hurriedly done on Saturday after water gushed down my lounge wall, post monsoon style weather.

All in all a cracker of an Easter. Hope the Easter Bunny was a dann sight kinder to you. To quote that not-so-well known Irish pop band 'D:Ream' and Blair's political campaign mantra of '97: 'Things can only get better...'

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Get it off your chest...

GGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR.......... eat! Apparently it is good to argue. Well, not argue, but getting things off your chest. According to a recent study - suppressing anger can kill you. At the uni of Michigan researchers studied 192 couples for 17 years (they must have got so damn bored: the mundanity of life and the daily grind researched in minute detail). They discovered that of the couples studied, in 26 of them both partners repressed anger - resulting in 13 deaths. Truly. The bottom line is that is good to express your anger rather than brood and fester resentment - but the whole point is to resolve the conflict, rather than have an endless battle zone that swings from stalemate to front line attack every hour.

It made me think of the time when husband and I were forced by an over-enthusiastic vicar to attend 'marriage classes' at a beautiful church in Farringdon. Naturally husband hated this - being an atheist. He used to consume as much wine as possible before the 3 week classes and then guzzle nuts throughout. While cooing couples held hands and spoke in gooey voices about their up-coming nuptials, husband sat a metre away from me, almost refusing to acknowledge we were even together. Anyway, one night the class was about anger, conflict and resolution. We were asked to define ourselves as either a rhino (charges at an argument, attacks with horns, full of steam and bluster) or hedgehogs (recoil from conflict, curl into a ball and ignore the issue at large). A hedgehog and hedgehog relationship is apparently the most doomed - as each person shies away from discussion and broods on their anger. Rhino and Rhino wasn't too hot either, all crackling storms and rage without much listening going on. We were all asked to disclose who we were. Normally reticent husband gleefully told the assembled lovebirds that I was easily a storming Rhino, but he added that so was he. However he had to pretend to be a hedgehog to get by. They all laughed. He was deadly serious. There followed some god-awful quiz thing where we had to tick boxes to state if our partners had ever (gasp!) sworn at us! Shouted! Called us names! Etc. Husband had never ticked so many boxes in his life. The vicar was keen for us to tell the group our results. I glanced sideways to see a sweet woman lean her head on her fiance's shoulder as he ticked a solitary box. Husband held up his hand super keen. I shoved his hand back down, mortified that my barely suppressed anger would be exposed to all. Husband shuffled comfortably into his seat, casting a smug look that me as if to say 'I'm really enjoying this now.' I willed the class to end before he got the chance to grass me up as the witch I am.

So it is a relief to discover my daily verbal jousts with husband are in fact good for my health as well as my soul. I remember coming back from a holiday one summer - a group of us had all gone away to relax in the sun and husband and I hadn't hidden our little tiffs from the world. Upon return one well meaning friend nervously asked another if husband and I were really meant to be together, concerned as he was for our well being. My other friend knew husband and I better and assured him that our relationship may be a stormy one, but it is solid as a rock.

In the last year or so we definitely have felt the rumble of an earthquake or two in our foundations as we struggled to cope with the strain of a new baby, husband's 65 hour working week and my lack of work stresses. But one thing is for sure - we have no problem in expressing our anger, frustration and pissed-off-ness. Sometimes it is exhausting. Sometimes I crave an easier path. Someone who re-fills the ice cube tray when he has emptied it; someone who remembers to put cheques in the bank when he says he will; someone who understands that sheets and towels do not miraculously wash and dry themselves and then fold themselves neatly into the cupboard. But I would never trade what I have: a husband who makes me laugh daily - often during a heated discussion. Someone who holds a mirror up to my insanity, but champions every avenue I choose to take - even this script editing lark that has seen me out of work for 14 months. A husband who pays a child minder so I can volunteer at Samaritans. One who is affectionate and romantic and knows me inside out. Who works crazy hours to provide for our family. Who has seen me at my best, worst and in between and still is there.

So this Easter - when the kids are wired to the eyeballs on sugar, the traffic is at a standstill, you can't believe you had to spend your precious days off work placating HIS Mother and HE still hasn't fixed the leaky tap in the kitchen 8 weeks on, let it all out! It'll make you live longer....

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


Don't panic - I'm not about to talk about birth. Christ no! If you recall I don't do birth. Not because it isn't amazing: my friend Eleanor gave birth - drug/air/gas free - last Fri night in 20 mins, with her partner in her lounge, and the midwife hadn't even had time to get there!!! But because in Biology in 4th year we had to watch a video where 'Mary' went through the joys of pregnancy and then splayed her legs and showed us just how precious birth could be. Now Mary needed a good waxer frankly and this alone was enough to put me off - but what followed made all horror movies up to that point seem like an episode of The Magic Roundabout. Mary wailed and howled and pushed and went very red and there was lots of blood and gunk... and then I don't know - I'd hit the floor by that stage. I then faked an asthma attack and disappeared for some fresh air. What I needed was 20 years of cognitive therapy to recover - but anyway, it left such an impression that my birth phobia was perfectly formed and was subsequently enhanced along the way with various other friend's horrific birth stories; full of phrases like '3rd degree tears' 'in surgery for 3 hours' 'stitches that hurt for 6 weeks' '24 hours of pain' etc. I can't even say the word 'dilate' without raising my blood pressure. Truly I was so scared I went to the Docs before I even got up the duff to ask how I could ever get through having a baby without actually having to have the baby. Not that is Irish! Enough of this digression - we are not here to talk birth after all.

It is rebirth I want to dwell on - it is Easter after all. I read over a few posts and my god I sound so moany! This weekend is one for salivating over shiny bulbous eggs ripe for cracking open and guzzling down the sweets inside before devouring the chocolate egg itself. It is also the time that - if we all remember our new testament, and apparently 80% of school kids today have no idea about the Easter story - Christ was crucified and then was reborn. Today was a bit of a rebirth for me - albeit in a small way. A lovely man called Simon came to view my flat. His mate has viewed it already and wanted him to see it as they are thinking of buying it to rent it out. I sold it better than any estate agent has ever done. Simon and said mate are coming back on Friday - if they put in an offer I may just buy them Easter eggs. Plus the job I am after may still be up for grabs... not sure if it is external or internal though - but hey while I don't know - there is hope! Plus my good mate Gerry came round as she is a computer whizz and I am as good at technical stuff as I am at driving... She helped me save stuff on a stick thing and also sort out my blog. She knows stuff, Gerry does. She speaks in a language that is foreign to me with words such as 'codes' 'cookies' 'saver drive' and 'off line editing.' So all in all, a good day. Plus sproglet only watched Monsters Inc on and off 3 times. Husband gave me a loving kiss goodbye as he went to work. I had a good hair day. So much to be thankful for. As my mate Pocket says 'stop worrying about the things that haven't happened yet.' I'm going to make that my mantra and sickeningly try to be ultra positive - at least until after Easter. Until then it's all about rejoicing and rebirth for me... and chocolate.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Home sweet? Home

Did I mention we were moving house? Picture the scene if you will - we live in a small two bedroomed split level flat. The kind that is perfect for a single girl with a flatmate or a couple with no kids or well - anyone but a family of 3. Sproglet's toys take up half the living room. His new game is to hide things - my Origins lotion to secure a good nights slumber has been missing now for 3 weeks and my huge bags tell the story - and somehow everything is on a low level, just perfect for his grubby wee hands to reach. My biggest bug bear - the kitchen. Oh sweet jesus the kitchen sends me into a rage that would rival Daniel's Oscar winning turn in 'there will be Blood.' There very nearly is blood every time I enter that domain. It is small, cramped, with one cupboard to hold everything under the sun utensil wise and one other food storage cupboard that doesn't open well as the door hits the boiler. In said food cupboard is a balancing display that would put a circus troop to shame - but every time I reach for a spice or some raisins for sproglet the threat of an avalanche of tins and rice showering me from every which way engulfs me. To say it is precarious to take out a mere tin of beans is a gross understatement. I am almost taking my life in my hands.

The floor is old black slate tiles now stained and old and shabby. Cracks abound around the badly put-in sink where rivers of water have begun to flow beneath, creating more cracks in the fake granite surface. Oh I could whinge about this room until next year. You get the drift - I hate it. To compound everything - my view is one of a gorgeous London train track and a newly built council building that is a huge yellow monstrosity packed into a space barely big enough to contain it. The kind council began the excavations for it the very day I brought sprog home from the hospital - so I languished in 37 degree heat, in a small top floor flat, with concrete mixers and drills playing a merry tune all day. It was the closest I have ever come to a Michael Jackson kid out a window moment when I er...hung out a window screaming 'wanker!' to a poor truck driver who beep-beeped his way up and down our tiny cul-de-sac 24/7. No wonder Bob the Builder brings me out in hives...

I have wanted out of the greyness of London and the confinement of my flat for so so long. So finally this year - I took the bull by the horns or the estate agent by the balls - and found a beautiful house in a gorgeous little market town half an hour on the train from London. I fell hook line and sinker for this blissful oasis - the rolling views, the big basement to stuff husband and sproglet and all their junk in, the heated floor tiles in the bathroom - I could go on. And the kitchen!! It has drawers!! A dish washer!! The drawers glide as they close and then silently shut. Honestly it is the closest I have come to an orgasm in a while. So we put in an offer - they put the price up - we haggled - I pretended I didn't want it at all - lied, played the game, danced around and lo and behold - it was ours! We are now steeped in mortgage hell and on tenterhooks that it will all come together.

Hopefully we will exchange in 2 weeks and then move in 4. It cannot come soon enough for me. Except.... There is of course a but. I have no money. I have been living of my flat equity for about oh, 8 months now? Maybe more. So I need to get a job pronto. Or else we cannot pay the mortgage on our dream house. So I have less than 6 weeks to - get a job, pack up the flat,sort mortgages, move house, unpack, get a car, furnish new house,clean both properties, get flat ready to rent out, find tenants for the flat and start new job! Phew. How does this make me feel? Stressed to within an inch of my life I tell you. If I didn't dye my hair blonde I am sure it would be grey. After my meeting with Mr BBC drama big wig the other week I thought at last my plant would bear fruit - but it remains a dried up old shell. I thought an opening - MY opening - the one I have waited a year for, would be coming up this very week -but it appears to have been filled INTERNALLY!!! Arrrrgggggggghhhhhhh.

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was at the end of my tether. I lied. I hadn't even gone half way. NOW I am there. On vacation hopefully. But it feels like I am bedded in. Don't get me started on our little visit to a furniture store yesterday when I tried to pick sofa materials, sproglet ran around changing the price tags on everything (I noticed one couple delighted to see a dining table at a mere £125) and then waddled towards me with his hands covered in bright red paint. Turns out they were painting a wall in store and sproglet had discovered the paint tray and decided kindly to help. Thank god his dunked mitts didn't make contact with any fancy sofa or I would have disowned him there and then. Husband went for every leather option and began a battle over which room he had 'the power of veto' over. By the time we left I didn't know whether I wanted a gin or a divorce.

So buckle up - these next few weeks are going to be an interesting ride. I have no idea where it will all lead - but I wish we could swop places. Now where did I put that tonne of camomile tea?

Monday, 17 March 2008

I get by with a little help from.....

What gets you by? For me it is cupcakes. Friends. Blogging. Red wine. Oh yeah - and my anti-depressants! But normally I need to bend the ear of a good mate to vent my wrath, to be able to let off steam and feel human. I'm lucky - I have quite a few good female mates who I bend the ears til they almost fall off - but sometimes, it is hard to admit things even to them. We are all so busy trying to prove to everyone that we are fine, life is just swell and gee don't you all wanna be like me - that it is difficult to open up and say - you know what, my life sucks! Christ if we all were swinging from the chandeliers in the bedroom, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, tidying our houses to Bree style standards, raising perfect rugrats and still holding down great jobs and being a perfect size 6 - feck, we'd be stepford women. Dull as feck. Yet, we try. We are overwhelmed with guilt for craving 5 mins to ourselves to read a newspaper, or for putting the sprog in front of Monsters Inc for the 50th time, just so we can shower in peace. We starve ourselves and stuff ourselves and endlessly diet and berate and massage dimples in order to look better, younger, more glowing... I mean can you honestly tell me you like the taste of green tea? Yeeach.

We fill our houses and wardrobes with status symbols - I've made it! We brush our hair, shave our pits, paint our toenails and hell, even floss. I have no idea on earth why I ever had a brazilian wax - I mean, I like myself - and this is surely a form of self-abuse? Anyway - point of this post is to say - that we all try to get by - to show others that we are successful, happy, content - and inwardly we are often curling into self-loathing balls, willing the ground to swallow us up. If not -then hurrah for you! But me, well my rocky job road is just about sending me to hell and back. I can just not get a break - and on this fair St Pats day - for I am Oirish, I should be drinking a whisky (yuk) and singing old songs and being filled with joy - but instead, I am reaching for the cup cakes.... and despairing of ever getting a script editing job - ever! i thought there was an opening coming up this week but it appears not. I had my frail hopes so damn high and now... well, pass the cakes. Now if you ever feel you can't get by - give Samaritans a bell. They really are the business. I know, I volunteer for them. They don't advise or judge or give an opinion. They listen, they befriend, they support. A problem shared is definitely halved. So if you feel you can't tell others that life aint too good, for fear they would judge you, or try and advise - when all you want is someone to unload to - then don't be afraid to pick up the phone. Samaritans care and they always want to know how you are.

I'm off to bend the ear of a friend I call 'Pocket' - for she is so damn chirpy that we should have a pocket version of her in our bags/pockets to pull out when we need cheering up/help in the old optimism department. She makes my glass seem more half full. And I'm grateful for her. So on St Pats day I give thanks for all my female friends. And anyone who is reading this too.


Thursday, 13 March 2008

Feel the fear and take the anti-depressants anyway

There is this girl I like. I've never met her. I stumbled upon her one drunken evening when I was digging around (actually her husband's website led me to her - I like his band - having been to 2 of their gigs, including one when I was 7 months pregnant). Since then, I've popped my head round her blog door quite often - she writes the way I think. She's a kindred spirit even if she doesn't know me. The other day she mentioned that she had started taking medication for depression/anxiety. It's a brave move to announce on a blog, no matter how open one is. So I thought I'd show Monica - for that's her name, some moral support and admit that I too have been along a similar path.

Last November I ran home to Ireland. Escaping myself and my grey London existence. My lack of work, the drudgery of motherhood household tasks and long dark days when the husband would go to work and come home at 3am had conspired to rob me of any optimism, any joy. Everything my Mother did made me want to tear out my hair. The poor woman couldn't even make me a cup of tea without me raging at her. She had just split up with her husband and instead of comforting her - all I could think was - another man you have brought into my life as a father figure only to snatch out again. Anyway, one morning I dashed out - storming away from my toddler son, determined to relaim ME - and walked to the sea across from my Mother's house. It was the coldest greyest day (even by Northern Ireland standards) with huge storm clouds brewing over restless water. I sat on a rock and wept. I had no idea how to dig myself out of the hole I was in. Every which way I turned it seemed impossible to break into Tv drama for work. The presenting work had dried up and well... I was washed up. Husband worked such crazy hours that I ate most meals alone; TV and books my only companions. Friends were well meaning, but busy. People have their own lives to lead. Some days the only people I spoke to were the women at the gym creche or a supermarket checkout girl in Sainsburies. Loneliness is cruel. It creeps up on you. What had once been a choc full diary of a single girl hot-footing it around London, lay empty. Other mothers terrified me - they were confident, over powering and seemed to love the happy clappy groups that I loathed. I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere. Husband tried to be sympathetic, but he wasn't around long enough daily to really be there for me. I hated him and his ability to walk out the door and have a life, while I was left holding the (beautiful) baby. Adjusting to motherhood had taken it's toll. I loved my son with all my heart, but I mourned my life and what it had been - the freedom I had had.

When I realised I wanted to curl into a ball and not wake up (the irony being I was a Samaritan this whole time, every other week helping suicidal and unhappy people and yet I was unable to help myself) I knew I had to do something. Going home seemed to be the only answer. My poor Mother, plagued with worry, watched me stumble through days and collapse into bed, tired and weepy; she dragged me to the Dr and made me get help. The Dr calmly offered me tablets - I could hardly see her I was weeping so much. I cried to my friend Nikki on the phone, worried that this was just further evidence of my failings. She told me she was surprised I hadn't crumbled earlier. Other friends echoed these sentiments. I succumbed and took the tablets - Citalopram. But by god, they worked. I've still had the odd weep. I've still worried about work - and how the hell I will pay the mortgage when we move in 6 weeks or so. But by the third day of taking them I didn't feel rage pulsate through every nerve threatening to engulf me. I didn't feel so low I dreamt of climbing out of skin and becoming someone else - anyone, just to not be me. I stopped hating the one man who loves me above all. I stopped despairing and started believing in myself again. It's still a rocky road. I'm not there yet. Maybe I will never be 'there.' But I know I did the right thing. I know my Mum was right to try and help me - because my glass was so damn empty it was dry. Citalopram made me breathe again. The blackness faded and life became bearable and brighter. I coped with Motherhood rather than feeling trapped and caged. It didn't solve my problems but it made me able to deal with them, to be rational, to cope. (And yes, I can still have a drink,in fact on occasion more than a few!)

So good luck Monica - you took the right step. Whatever works for you can never be wrong. I no longer feel like I failed. I defy anyone to go through the year I had and not turn to something to get them through. I'm glad I had - or my Mother had - the serenity to know the things she couldn't change, the courage to change the things she could for me and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Thanks for the mammeries

I am the devil. Spawn of Satan. The Beelzebub. Why? Because I didn't breast feed of course. Somehow I have failed my son. I'll be lucky if he is ever able to read the back of a cereal packet, tie his laces or get a single grade, because of the choices I made in relation to my breasts. I'll explain - the other day the husband read out to me yet another article, sprouting the importance of breast being best and how when sproglet is older he will only ever be in the remedial class stream as he hasn't had enough omega 3 - having only ever supped from a bottle from 2 weeks of age and not the Mummy cups that runneth over. These articles piss me off in a way that even the Daily Mail can't. I can literally tie myself up into knots of apoplectic rage and ache to burn all maternity bras in way of demonstration.

Let me go back - to the pre-natal classes that the hospital kindly offered. There were 4 - intro to birth, birth in all its bloody glory, feeding and what to expect when you leave hospital. As I don't do birth (another story and no doubt another reason I should be cast into the pit of hell or burned at the stake) I skipped class 2. As I think no one can ever prepare you for what happens post birth (and there was good tv on that night) I missed class 4. But I merrily went to classes 1 and 3. They were pretty sad these classes if I am honest. The midwife who took them obviously delighted in her one moment in the spotlight and was milking it (no pun intended) for all she was worth. She asked us all to stand up and then our partners to hug us. Apart from the fact husband HATES public displays of affection and could hardly get his arms round my enormous frame - I loathed this exercise. All the women who had come alone, for whatever reason, sat there looking like they hadn't been picked for the netball team. Their seated, blooming forms screaming out their apparent single parent status. It made my blood boil. Fine for those who had partners at work or squash or hiding in the garden shed, whatever, but for those who genuinely were bravely going through pregnancy and birth alone - did they need to be singled out so spectacularly? Anyway, I digress. Apart from mention of the jelly substance that is is the cervical mucus plug dropping out (husband nearly threw up) and green coloured water when your waters break being a bad sign - we got through it ok. Class 3:'feeding' was a whole different ball game. The woman who took it - a thin, ironically flat chested spiteful looking sourpuss) announced breast was best and that was all there was to it. She then proceeded to talk about how to breast feed until you were the cow that came home. I know, from friends' experiences that breast feeding is not always possible and the pressure to feed this way was weighing heavily on my mind. I had enough weight weighing on my wrestler-sized ankles and didn't need a heavy mind as well - so I tentatively asked if there was ever a time when you threw in the towel and reverted to the old bottle. I may as well have stood up and said "I eat live children" and then weed on the floor for the look that she gave me. She visibly recoiled and then said in the most patronising voice she could muster 'Well you make it work for you and don't give up.'

Great. Thanks a lot. Gee that was helpful. Then every time she mentioned bottle feeding (kind of the way someone talks about the neighbourhood peeping Tom - hushed voice, disgusted manner) she looked straight at me. When she handed out horrible plastic dolls to demonstrate how to breast feed - guess who got the position wrong in a room full of 20 women? Oh yes - me. And she let me know by marching across the room and showing everyone how NOT to feed the way I had cupped the scraggily one-eyed doll. When she said there was to be a break, and offered sheets on bottle feeding, that those who wanted could collect from the front table, I ducked down. Who would be brave enough to do the walk of shame? Not me. Desperate as I was for the information I felt ashamed to ask about anything other than how to express with a double bra breast pump, so I shirked at the back of the class hiding behind the husband. The class went on, winding up with her gleefully explaining next week would be a full birth on video and a C section for us all to watch. Hurrah! Naturally when she mentioned a section her face fell, as she intimated that of course we would all want to push and shove until our fannies have split up to our eyeballs (and that intercourse from then on would feel like a pork sausage being thrown up Oxford St) rather than ever stoop so low as to have a baby cut out of us. Why, then we'd be failures...

I was incensed. I left distraught and stomped up the hill from the hospital - straight to the lovely new gastropub. I actually cried I was so bothered by this woman's attitude and my own fear that I would not be a 'good enough' mother if I didn't breast feed until a nipple fell off. Husband was mortified and said he couldn't be seen with a weeping pregnant woman as it made him look awful. I told him to bugger off and get me a Pimms and lemonade quickly. He refused to accompany me into a pub - so I went in anyway. Then he decided to be a bit more knight in trainers and bought me said drink. Bliss. Pregnant women and Pimms - go together like burgers and ketchup.

When sproglet came out - blisssssssful section on the NHS (yaye me!)I shoved him at my dilapidated boob and he suckled. Briefly. The next day as 2 breast feeding experts visited my hospital bed before 9AM(!!!!) he clamped on to one nipple and refused to let go. I was in agony. That afternoon while 2 dear friends visited one of the breast army returned, replete with crochet breast, with its very own erect nipple and demonstrated how to position one's nipple for maximum breast use. Exhausted, thirsty, bleeding and without dignity I shoved the dark unrecognisable nipple into sprog's mouth while my friends tried to talk amongst themselves. Every time I took sprog off breast he howled. Have you clamped anything to your nipple for more than two hours - it fecking hurts!! Anyway, a huge domineering midwife called Ida (I loved her) walked in and said 'Mr Grumpy! He is hungry - do you have formulae?' It was as if I had been pardoned by the king of state - I grabbed the Hip Organic, filled a pipette she gave me and lo and behold, child gobbled milk and slept like an angel. The colostrum hadn't filled his hungry wee belly. Husband was able to bond and feed him and I continued to try and persuade sprog that my breast was in fact, best. Sprog rejected one nipple - the right one - no matter what I did. The only man ever to reject my breasts and he did so with a vengeance. The other nipple felt like it had been set on fire and she chewed and nuzzled and sucked for all her was worth. For 9 more days I tried. I put a bottle teat over a nipple (well a midwife did and believe me it was just as graceful as it sounds); I bought tablets to increase my breast milk; I bought a hand pump and pumped until I was a weary teary mess on the floor - nothing came out, husband sent me to bed worried for my sanity; I got nipple guards that covered my bleeding wounded nipples whilst sprog recoiled from the plastic; finally I got an electric pump and watched as a midwife helped me express - my nipple going in and out, in and out as milk - bright yellow - squirted out of many holes like a watering can. Midwife was delighted. "Ok, repeat this six times a day, six minutes on one breast, then the other, then five mins, then four, then three, then two. Easy?" What? I didn't have time to wee six times a day let alone bovine myself on each breast. I shook in horror. She rang me later to excitedly tell me that she has procured for me a breast pump bra - so I could express on both breasts at once - hurrah! I lay on the floor and wept. Sprog only fed from a bottle and refused my breasts completely. 9 days old and he knew what he wanted. My own Mother watched as I chided myself for being a crap Mother and tearily admit ed defeat. I rang my friend and saviour - Hannah. She said 'Are you doing this for you, sprog or because you think you have to?' I remembered scary lady at the classes. 'Because I have to' I replied. 'Then stop NOW!' She gave me the confidence to say - no, feck this, it isn't for me. I hate it. Sprog hates it. My nipples are cut and bleeding. I am exhausted. The pump repulses me. I rang the midwife back and told her politely she could keep her double bra hell. I look back and wonder why I put myself through such a nightmare when I had enough on my plate with early Motherhood? Why I was conditioned to believe that if I didn't breast feed I was indeed Satan? Why I struggled on until I felt I had a midwife's permission to give up? They felt like teachers that I was forever trying to please. Give me the gold star - I am pumping, taking tablets, wearing nipple shields, bleeding and still am determined!

Never again. If I ever decide to have another sprog - what I do or do not do will NOT be up for discussion. I will decide what suits me and my child. As it happened I took a part time job a few months later (I am freelance in TV - if I don't work, I don't eat) and often had to feed sprog on the plane, in a cab, on the tube, in Sainsburies etc. It was a relief not to have to worry about flashing a boob in public, to feel at ease feeding sprog anywhere at any time. He took bottles at room temperature - and other people could feed him too! I got respite, and sleep! And yes, I drank a cocktail again! That should just about send me to hell by Friday eh?

So to that woman at the antenatal class and all women who make other women feel bad for their choices - shame on you. It is our bodies, our babies and our choice. I made mine, I stand by it. Sproglet is healthy (the 91st centile) bright and brilliant. I'll even wager he'll do fine at school. To all those who breast fed - I applaud you. You and your pumps and creams and cold cabbage leaves in the fridge. And to the Mothers that tried and then - I am not going to say failed - decided it was not for them, good for you too. Have a Pimms on me!

Monday, 10 March 2008


So Flo came to town. The painters are in. Its red flag day. I'm 'on.' Time of the month. Or personal favourite 'On the blob.' And boy can I feel it. Yesterday: tired, chest aching, the feeling of impending doom. Inability to get anything of note done as lethargy claims me. Jeans too tight. Today - a black cloud stalks my every step and regardless of the gales blustering outside, it refuses to be blown away. Nothing feels right. I worry endlessly: about will the damn flat sell? Will we get the mortgages we need? Will I get work in the next 6 weeks? What will I do if I don't? How will we ever cope? My glass feels not even half empty - it feels bone dry. Nothing raises a drop of hope in my dampened spirits. I crave comfort - soft clothing, dark rooms, blankets, tea and sweet treats. I feel vulnerable, exposed. The husband calls me 'needy' and notes this occurs every time its a red letter day, on day 1. Day 2 I resemble a human again. Day 3 and I fit my jeans again and my sense of humor returns. Normally I visit St. Mary (my acupuncturist) to prick me with needles and wrap my spirit in an internal comfort blanket so I float out her doors, oozing loving feelings and contentment. But she costs £45 a pop, or prick, so I haven't worhsipped at her altar for quite a while. Only sugar seems to ease my frustration. I am sure I should be exercising, drinking wheatgrass and meditating my way through PMT - but who the feck wants to do that when a cupcake is screaming EAT ME from starbucks seductive counter? It's soft creamy frosting curling round the fluffy sponge with flecks of sugared lemon rind decorating the top. Perfection. So I did what a wounded animal does - I hid away. I snuck off to a chick flick with said tea and cupcake then came home with soft furnishing magazines and lay on the sofa, comfort blanket wrapped round me. One minute I snapped husband's head off, next I burrowed under his arm demanding that he love me more and that he drowns me in affection. Why he puts up with this insane bi-polar freak every month lord only knows. There is great TV tonight, so I must away from the blog - even if the laptop is warming my bloated stomach nicely. Hopefully Flo will bugger off sharpish in about 4 days. Until then, pass the cakes....

Friday, 7 March 2008

Take the trash out on your way...

I have a confession for you. Just the one mind. If I confessed all, frankly we'd be here all damn day. I used to be addicted to trash mags. Hello my name is crummymummy, I am 30 something years old and I am addicted to trash mags. My life is unmanageable without trash mags, I have given my life over to trash mags.... you get the picture. I would pretend that they were of no interest to me whatsoever and then sneak into Sainsburies and binge read whilst on route to the gym. It was my guilty pleasure. Like eating ice cream in the bath (no? you've never done it? Hell you don't know what you're missing!) or picking your blackheads it was a habit that is best done alone and kept quiet.

I always glossed over the articles and just relished the pictures - the bags, boozers, bitches, boob jobs and barbies. Pantomime and slightly grotesque - this unrealistic airbrushed celeb worshipping culture. The other day I slunk over to the mag stand to get a fix and (although I had always known this deep down but had chosen to just park it)whilst I perused the usual weekly gossip fests I felt a wave of revulsion wash over me. These headlines dominate: Too Fat! Too skinny! Stop working out! Stars battle of the bulge! Cellulite! Muffin tops! You're wearing that? Worst look of the week!Knobbly knees! Has she had surgery? Worst boobs!

There were options to vote which of two women looked better in the same outfit; whether or not Cheryl should take Ashley back and if Victoria Beckham was a good mother or not. What the fuck is going on? Why are we reading this shite, even in jest or just to see who wore what at the Oscars? Why in the world are we comparing two women - who both look amazing, who both look happy, and judging that one has to look better than the other? Who are we to decide who is a good mother/wife/friend etc. Fair enough to debate the talents (or lack of) - after all, that is the trade that they sell - like we would discuss if a plumber was any good, or of you should eat at this or that restaurant. But to judge a woman we have never met on her private life and the choices she makes in it - who do we think we are???!! Eternally pitting women against each other in order to make ourselves feel better - sucks. It was like the truth screamed out at me and jumped out of every page. These magazines criticise and vilify and amplify every small quirk - however natural - in a woman's body for us to eat up with glee that their 'perfect' lives aren't so damn perfect after all. I shut the mag and walked off. Life is too short. Way too short for such sloppy journalism, non entity adulation, narcissism and women bashing.

I'll find a new vice, just give me til Tuesday...


I had a heavenly moment. The kind of moment that makes it all feel worth it. The wee bunny fell asleep on me tonight; something he hasn't done for months. He grew out of this ages ago - now bouncing round his cot for a while before he finally caves in to sleep. But tonight, after whining through bath time and moaning as I dried and dressed him, I noticed his weary big eyes close a heartbeat too long. He was tired. I scooped him up and curled him into me, smelling his baby clean sweet smell and grabbing his bottle with my free hand. Normally he sits up swigging his beloved bottle during story time, but tonight the sandman was already at the shore and he was too knackered to do anything but lamely touch the bottom of the bottle, as if only to confirm it's existence. He snuggled in to me and supped contentedly. I stroked his soft fluffy hair and marvelled at his perfect long black lashes; curling down his chubby little cheeks - flickering as slumber overtook him. I played with the fine hairs that sweep over his ears, sticking out at odd angles. I kissed his button nose with skin so soft an clean that it shines. I breathed in his scent and felt blessed that I have such a beautiful son. His mouth stopped sucking and went slack. I prised the bottle from his cherubic lips and felt his torso rise and fall with every slow deep breath. He sighed contentedly and turned his head inwardly, wrapped in my warmth. I held him and loved him and never wanted to let go. The blissful moment when he felt a baby again and the only person he wanted was his Mother.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Starbucks supermum

A new mum walks into starbucks, her mewing newborn clamped to her chest in a sling. She looks exhausted. Her eyes scan the room in the vague hope she will meet someone she knows. Someone to become her armour while she sips her coffee. Sorry, chi soya milk decaf latte (she is breast feeding after all). If the child should suddenly cry she has some protection, someone to shield her from the disgruntled look and irritated sighs. The looks that scream ‘BAD MOTHER!’ She sees me tap tap tappety tapping away on my laptop and drags her gaze away from my seemingly blissful solace. She is wearing baggy clothes and tugs at her jumper, willing the baby fat to disappear the way it seems to off celebs who run around in bikinis 3 weeks post birth. As she walks past I catch the smell of baby wipes and desperation. For adult conversation. She’ll pretend that the yummy mummy group who meets at the library to sing happy clappy god-awful songs and subtly compete about whose child sleeps the longest is ‘fun.’ What she always dreamed motherhood would be. Pretends that she doesn’t watch the clock willing her husband to come home and take over. Give her a whole fifteen minutes to herself to read the paper (which only depresses her more when she sees all the seasonal fashion that she is meant to be wearing when she isn’t even sure what frigging month it is) before she has to whip out a breast and become the human udder again. (Have you ever tried expressing? Who knew your nipples had so many holes? I have never felt so bovine in my whole life.)

She orders her coffee. She can do this. She is wearing the latest baby holder, the baby is in top to toe gap, she has on her uggs and hefty Chanel shades and a fine layer of make-up. She knows how to give good Motherhood. But underneath that stylish exterior belies a sad, lonely woman. She misses her friends, her relationship, her after work drinks, the cinema, sex, her sleep, who she was. But if she can just order this latte and make some small talk with the cute barista (her only adult conversation until 9pm as husband is playing squash tonight) then she can prove to herself she is ‘getting out there and having a life.’ The baby starts to cry. Loudly. She frets, willing the bloody barista to hurry up. She grabs her coffee and runs. Before people can get fed up with the howling. Before she has to concede that she has no idea what to do to stop the child yelling save lopping out her prominently veined droopy breast. Out she dashes to the sanctuary of home. Her prison. She wills the next 3 weeks to pass quickly – after 6 weeks it gets better, apparently. It’s ten past four. Her husband will be back in 5 hours. Motherhood – piece of cake eh?

Monday, 3 March 2008

Its the thought that counts.... yeah right.

Mother's Day. Normally a stresser - remembering to send cards, flowers, make that call declaring she is the best Mum in the whole wide world etc. Then I remember - I am now part of this club and boy, I am gonna milk it for all it is worth. I tell husband that I want flowers and a card. Not his usual card giving procedure either - which involves him getting up on THE day, going shopping, returning, disappearing to kitchen and then appearing with card 'Ta Da!' like he had it all along. No, I wanted to wake up to glory, to wallow in the greatest of my maternal nuturings. He was warned - this meant flowers and a card. It is what Finn would have wanted I assured him.

But before I continue I must go back. On Saturday I had a great day. Went to amazing physio who manipulated me in a way that I haven't been since my Mum persuaded me to cut all my hair off (boy stylee) in order to get to wear my school (compulsory) summer dress in 1979. His name was Albert and I love him. He convinced me that my life has been meaningless without daily stretching and that all the world's ills would be cured if we all just got down on the floor and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d every morning, noon and night. Think about it - animals do it and they don't hobble to physios now do they? He helped the bad back my son helped cause on poonami day last Wed. Wee bunny was in the gym crèche. I was pissed off at husband's no gym show so I took wee bunny to Yo! Sushi as I knew that wee bunny would love it and it would really annoy jealous husband. Bingo. He ate like an angel - causing a terribly posh woman to stride over and tell me how great he was. Posh woman was with her two sons and American (banker??) husband. She was abrasive, arrogant and demanding to the staff and I loathed her. But she complimented bunny so I became putty in her hands... Her eldest son asked how old bunny was - I said 20 months. He thought on this. I said 'He is a year and... " when Posho shushed me with a raised hand and then demanded her brat worked it out for himself. I realised what she was doing. My kid was saintly - she now had to show that her offspring also possessed talents. The poor private schooled child couldn't work it out. I returned to my tempura and carried on helping the bunny to stuff his wee face. Posho's younger son made polite chat and Posho cajoled older son until as they walked out he announced - "One year and 8 months!" She repeated this to me triumphantly. I smiled weakly, thanking god my son was not in her son's class and that my school run would never be one long Olympic competition of one-up-mothership.

Wee bunny and I hot the book store, the play park and then home for a 'Finding Nemo' afternoon. What a movie. the bunny loved it . Now in the book store I purchased a book in the name of research. It was called 'Same sex in the city' and explains how two girls came out as lesbians. I am planning to write a new book with a girl and girl love affair so I thought this would be helpful. wee bunny got Nemo. I got lesbian love affairs. Fair deal. Anyway, Mother's day arrived. I got up to a hungry bunny and discover a pretty but wilting bunch of tulips and pussy willow outside the bedroom door. the way they had been tied suggested husband and nicked these flowers from his hotel display. Next to them lay a card. No, it was actually a piece of white paper. Flimsy and unable to stand up. On it husband had drawn in crayon 'Happy Mother's Day.' Next to it lay the Same sex in the city book. Inside paper husband had written 'Mummy why do you have this book? Do you have something to tell Daddy and I? Are you a closet dyke? I don't understand and neither does Daddy.' What a beautiful sentiment in my card.

Thank god I got cocktails, dim sum and praline cakes at Yauatcha or today husband would be minus a testicle.

Boys - it is never the thought that counts. If husband had read Same sex in the city he would have known this.

What happened to us?

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and I want to scream my head off. It is not yet 10am. Wee bunny has been fed and watered - by me - and has taken a massive dump. But the nappy has managed to come off so said dumpage is now all over him, his sleepsuit and the nappy. This is no job for the meek. I manage to strip him and plonk him in the bath. I am hosing him down, all the while he yells like I have set the poor little chap on fire. I meanwhile am covered in stale crap, struggling to hold the bunny up in one hand, a shower hose in the other and navigate my way through his nooks and crannies to clear the debris that has welded itself to every available surface of his bum. I think he is clean and lift him out. Yeooooooowww. Something goes in my back. Bunny is howling still and I shush him as I dry him, patting his baby soft skin and noticing that all the shit has not come off and is now on the towel. I wipe his arse, slap on some cream, nappy and dress and him, stopping to let his fluffy hair caress my face and then return to clean the bath/my hands, dump the dump in the bin and then place the clothes in a nuclear site to be eradicated - I mean, in the washbasket.

Husband surfaces. Makes his weird bird seed and meat so-uncooked-it-is -still-breathing concoction that will be his days sustenance. I'm all right Jack is his attitude. I hate him. I hit the shower and try not to cry. My life feels like an endless well of poo and dishes and washing and bath times and I want MORE THAN THIS!!! I dream of running away with some obscenely young boy who looks like Mark Ronson with the wit of Eddie Izzard and the money of Donald Trump. Husband tries briefly to be understanding but returns to his cook-athon leaving wee bunny to endless Bob the fecking builder repeats. I try to dress. Notice the dimpling and curves were once taut flesh stood. Full of self loathing I reach for something to wear. Husband and I have had no conversation today whatsoever. No laughs. Breakfast together? Don't make me laugh - he is always so tired after his long bar shifts that he has no energy for me or the wee bunny. Oh but energy for the gym. Husband has managed to give wee bunny a small cup from the bathroom - a dirty old playtime cup no less - which wee bunny drinks from and then spills over himself. Enraged I get husband to dress wee bunny again - as his clothes are saturated. Husband thinks I am insane and tells me to de stress. It is not husband who spends every waking hour worrying about money and where the next job is coming from. It is not husband who spends two hours making the wee bunny healthy chilli beef for his lunch today and who has to make sure wee bunny has wipes/nappies/food/milk/clean clothes etc etc. I hate him with every bone in my body for having a life. We argue about trivial stuff. These daily verbal jousts exhaust me and wind me into a frenzy. The dishes are left for me to do - he claims they are mine and I scream that they are all dishes from the child's breakfast. He sarcastically tells me maybe I need a lie down. His goading eroding any confidence I have left in myself and making my blood boil. Is the bunny's bag ready, he snaps. Of course it is - all packed, all ready as my life is one only designed to clean up everyone else's shit and make sure everyone else is good to go. What about me? Where did my life go? My hopes, my passion for my work? My sense of goddamn self?

He slams out. The wee bunny follows, trundling along, his every step melting my heart. A sinking feeling grows in the pit of my stomach as I note we haven't kissed goodbye once this week. We're did we go husband? The 'us' in all of this. No longer a team we rant and rage and bully and hate and slowly tear us to shreds. It is all about my unfulfilled needs and your fucking job that gives us no semblance of a normal life. Where do we go from here I wonder? Because I can't live like this forever.


I have a meeting. Not just any old meeting - but a meeting with Mr BBC drama himself! Am excited? You betcha. I even kept my cool this fair morning when small child had a major fist-pounding-the-floor tantrum after refusing his lunch and being denied his crack-like addiction to Bob the Builder. Pity Bob wasn't around to fix the tantrums he creates... Can he fix it. NO HE CAN'T!! Plus I am doing some work with the loveliest man on the planet - Mr Grey as he shall be known - a Lit agent, by reading some of his clients work. He's taking a gander at my penned efforts. So I have a few little rays of sunshine in my otherwise cloudy sky. The wee bunny is asleep. He is refusing all savoury food at present, only opening his trap to whinge, drink or eat chocolate, fruit and nutella. I am hoping that the universe will conspire for me to achieve a job, successful house move, great child care in new area and a flat sale - in that order. Oh and loyal tidy clean tenants too.... I've read 'The Secret' and am pouring out those positive happy shiny rays. Apart from doing my back in after poonami on Wed morning, things are not too bad. Even husband and I have exchanged pleasantries and kisses today. Plus it is Mother's Day on Sun - which I had forgotten actually refers to me too these days. I am getting dim sum at Yauatcha and hopefully flowers - rather than the crap Best one all night shop card and scraggly lilies that were last years token. After the poo hell I survived this week - I am expecting great blooms.

As for the meeting - keep your fingers crossed for me eh?


End of my TETHER!!

Why can't I get a job? Seriously? If an interview is based 70% on how you look: I am presentable, a dab hand with my make up, able to scrub up ok, girl next door looks, blue eyed, blonde (albeit with roots) and size 10-12. 20% on what you sound like: lilting Northern Irish tones, softened by 17 years in London, thankfully not nasal sounding. 10% on what you say - well I am always well researched on anyone I meet and the subject we are due to talk about. I spend hours trawling the net, hopeful to find a little snippet of info that will set me apart from the other interviewees. I know my onions when I get in there - years of interviewing celebs has made me fearful of ever being underprepared. That way you can never be thrown. You always have an answer/solution. A good story teller, I have several up my sleeve and pride myself on being able to wheel out an anecdote on any given subject - always with a humble angle, always taking the piss out of myself. In short - I give good interview.

Ok, so interview aside. I have worked in TV for ten years. Trained as a broadcast journalist (2:1 degree) then travelled for a year. Lived in NZ and Oz. Visited Hong Kong, Thailand, India. Came back and was a reporter for 2 years and then freelanced since 1999. An associate producer on channel 4 shows including the obligatory stint on The Big Breakfast. Presented shows on relationships, teen dating, DIY, news, fashion, current affairs - a fecking Dog show programme for gods sake - for a breadth of channels - and made a living in the cut throat bully-boy playground that is presenting. In a sea of fluffy vacant models who somehow snapped up the best jobs - I stood my ground as a comfy girl next door type: friendly, a woman's woman, non threatening and good company. It made me a great interviewer even if I do say so myself. But I tired of being in and out of work like a yo-yo. Never knowing of I had any pennies to go on hols, buy an outfit etc Always living in fear that a new producer would take over and make their mark by axing your truly. I think when I did a screen test at almost 9 months pregnant and the TV company didn't offer me the job saying that I hadn't been 'energetic enough' (a was a bloody beached whale in flats for gods sake - what did they expect?) that I realised how ridiculous the business called show was and decided to jump ship. That and the fact that I flew home to Belfast every week for 10 weeks to present a live show (small babe in arms - the wee bunny was 4 months old), which everyone loved - but the muppet that ran the station insisted on putting the show out on a Friday evening when folk want to watch inane sit coms and relaxing comedy and not tax their wound up brains after a week on the treadmill. It was a Thursday evening show for sure, but muppet wouldn't accept he could possibly be wrong - and so canned my show. Audience figures not high enough. I wanted to scream at muppet - 'Cos they were in the fucking pub!!! Now put it out on a Thursday and you'll see...' Even the vicious TV critics liked it... Anyway, it wasn't re-commissioned. I was out of work and trying not to live on bitter street.

I have spent a year trying to get into script editing. Never one to expect everything on a plate, I wrote letters: cheeky but charming and managed to get renowned people in TV drama to chat to me. They all said "Go work on a soap!" And made it sound like all I would have to do something akin to hailing a black cab. Come to think of it - getting one of those in Soho around midnight is damn impossible - as is getting work on a soap. I've script read for a year... learnt loads about what makes a good, a bad and a downright ugly script and am more confident (not only that I am improving but that this really is the area I want to go into) than ever. I did get a wonderful job offer last year - based in Leeds, on an ITV soap that I had to turn down. I cried for a week. Especially as the folk were lovely and I really felt I could learn so much from them. Since then I have whittled my job opportunities down to one job. In the whole of the UK. You see there are 8 soaps in the UK. 3 in London. 2 of those see themselves as 'continuing drama' not a soap. So there is one soap (thankfully the that one I love and have watched for many many years) in London for me to apply to. I met with lovely folk who work there and found out I am not experienced enough - instead I would be suitable for an assistnat script editor job. There is just one of those at this soap. Now, I move house in 6 weeks and need a job. Or quite simply I won't be able to pay my new King Kong sized mortgage. Last week I wrote to 25 literary agents who represent TV writers - offering to read for them/assist them/ water their plants etc etc. 4 replied they do not need readers. I met with one. The loveliest man - a genuine pleasure. But he wanted to me to head up a department and work on commission only. No can do as sadly banks do not wait around until your tree bears fruit for mortgage payments. Alas I need raw cash - and now. But can I get employed - frankly I couldn't get arrested. How is it that a bright, enthusiastic, loyal graduate with 10 years of work under her belt is unable to net a job?

See my tether. Go to the end of it. That's where you'll find me.