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.