Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merrily on High...

Husband is home. Finally, after cancelled flights, airport stakeouts, plan changes, trains to Birmingham, new flights and a tonne of stress.

It feels great. Things haven't been easy for us but I know that no matter what - we are better and happier together than apart.

As I write my Mother creams a cheesecake she made as I hate Xmas pudding. She has toiled today on the food, bought the crackers, peeled the veg and tried to make it the best she possibly can. I am putting my inner demons to sleep and going to just relax and focus on the here and now. The things that make me lucky.

Sproglet is working himself into a tiny frenzy anticipating St Nick squeezing down our chimney. My stomach knot unravels - a by product of Xmas's past: when my parents would argue over who got me for Xmas dinner and I would wolf down two diners in quick succession to keep the peace.

I think my new years resolution has got to be to do more yoga or somehow to relaxxxxxxxxxx and stop stressing my head off. Ironically last year's resolution was to stress less - ha!

So pin up the mistletoe, uncork a bottle, light the fire, fill a stocking, stuff a turkey, roast some spuds, watch 'It's a wonderful life' or whatever gets you in the mood and have yourselves a merry little xmas.....

Here's to 2010. X

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Snow Came Again....

....and refused to melt away. My marriage was the only thing to begin to melt down. What is it with my life that the minute the bulbous fluffy flakes drift down my stress levels seem to go straight up? The snow began on Thursday - an innocent little flurry hoping to paint the landscape only to whip through the air and disappear the moment that they landed. Sproglet had the mother of all toilet accidents - a violent stomach bug exploding within him that gave him no time to connect his brain with the urge to purge. Oh, the horror. The horror. I packed him off to nursery and duly got the 3pm call that signalled his return and quarantine from his pals. By Friday the snow was no longer playing with the idea of creating a wonderland and instead had launched a full on 6 centimetre assault.

My sitter cancelled. The car couldn't be moved. The roads were an icy death trap. Sproglet and I trudged to the shops and I had to stop in the post office to blow on his frozen tiny toes. He cried because it was so damn cold. I still made it out to work xmas drinks - nothing was going to stop me. But boy did that take some serious planning and begging and all sorts. Perhaps because I was tired the next day and the snow refused to lessen it's firm grip on everything, that made me slightly on edge. Husband disappeared to sleep for 12 hours - a punishing week at work - de rigueur at this time of year for him - left him shattered. A knot began to twist it's way up my stomach and settle as a lump in my throat. We were ships that passed in the cold dark winter nights - barely trading words, hardly embracing, strangers in the same house.

Even on the rare occasions when he was home, Husband was the ghost in the room - his flesh there but his mind engrossed in a movie, on the computer, in a book or magazine, never engaged with me. I resented the fact I did the Xmas list, sent the cards, got the gifts, posted said gifts, packed, washed clothes, planned and sorted and arranged and got zero thanks in return. I felt lonely and taken for granted. He was there but not really there and I... I wanted to be anywhere but there.

The row brewed, in perfect time with the subsequent snow storm. Visiting friends departed after a festive xmas lunch in a toasty pub and braved a 2 hour drive that turned into a 12 hour marathon drive home. I unleashed my resentment, my loneliness, my anger, my frustration, my disappointment at a bewildered Husband. He felt victimised. My best friend had moved house and in the hectic-ness I had failed to help her - the snow making me a prisoner. My packed diary keeping me away. I braved the cold and marched to her lovely new house brandishing champagne - the weather had kindly chilled on route. Tears tripped me and I didn't really know why. I just felt so... well sad. Tired, unable to keep going in my hamster wheel. I need to change my life, our lives, the way his job is destroying us - and keeping us in this clamped fist of a money trap.

Then my flight home to Ireland got cancelled. I sobbed at the thought of my Mother alone over Xmas, and us snowed in, with no steaming turkey, and no main gift for Sproglet - it having been already shipped to N. Ireland. After buying new flights, (a cool £300) a hellish 2 hour train journey and a delayed flight from Birmingham - I am home, to my Mother's. Husband arrives tonight.

I slept for 10 hours, awoke and showered and today looked out at the view, absent of white stuff. I felt utter relief. A calm sense of peace that everything would be ok. I just needed to escape. I hate the fucking snow. On the surface it makes everything clean and fresh and a brilliant dazzling white. A quiet descends as the roads are deserted and everyone hibernates indoors. It would almost appear serene. And yet, beneath the surface it is utterly isolating, dangerous and somehow seeps in to every aspect of your life.

To some, it means Xmas. To me it means disaster. No cosy days unable to get to school or playground fights resulting in my tights having to dry on the radiator much to math's teachers discomfort. No fun and bright blinding sunshine and sliding down hills in joy. No, to me the perfect flakes just mean trouble.

The year draws to a close and with it reflection and a promise to make things better. As long as the snow stops, melts and stays the hell away, I reckon 2010 will be vintage.

Merry Xmas - and may all of them be any colour but fucking white.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Prangs for the memories

Another prang in my car. Jaysus - maybe I shouldn't be on goddamn roads. All truth be told I am not one of the world's greatest drivers - Jenson Button I aint. However, the snow crash car write off wasn't my fault - that was the weather. The pesky snow and slippery invisible ice. The scratch to my neighbour's car the very day I moved house and acquired my aunt's old car (in fact the very moment I put the keys in for the first time and pulled out and misjudged the fecking space.... scrrrrattttcchh) it wasn't my fault either. I'd owned the car for all of about 5 seconds, so that was an 'initiation' scratch.

Today my head was bursting with stuff to do and no time to do it in and all the nonsense that spins in my brain and I had put the sat nav up and was trying to get out of a park on a sharp nasty corner bend. I was taking my sweet ass time as I didn't want some boy racer speeding down west end lane, careering into me as I pulled out. I waited. The cars flew past, a flurry of headlights - then I moved off. Missing completely the woman coming from a street across the road on my right. She had pulled out, I pulled out - she had been in my blind spot and so guess what, yep, I hit her.

I've sustained only car scratches - I can live with them. She has a dent/scratch combo. She thinks she might need a new door. I think I need a new head. I'm so angry at myself for being so hasty and for not seeing her. My insurance is already sky high.

Husband and I work hard, he earns a good wage, I earn a pittance for the weight of work I do. Yet we never get a goddamn break - it is always something to pay - boiler, nursery fees, a dryer, you name it - and now a fleeting moment is likely to cost me £500 or maybe much more.

With Christmas round the corner like an expensive smear test I can't fucking avoid but boy I wish I could, I need this crash like the proverbial hole in my head.

Arrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhh. Maybe I need refresher lessons?

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Money Trap

Life plays tricks on you. Whilst at school you are told to work hard, get the grades, go to Uni, get a job - world is your goddamn oyster.

So you work your tiny butt off (or in my case wake up at 4am on the day of said exam and cram like crazy) and get to Uni and find a chosen path that if you're lucky, you can proceed in and make a decent living. Now I've pretty much never done a job just for the raw cash - if you work for the joy of money alone - then I reckon a little bit of your soul starts to shrivel. I've always thrown myself at things full speed - the word 'can't' banned in my book. You can do or be anything you want.

They lie. You grow up and get the career and house and kids and a new word shows up - compromise. Because how the hell do you get a kid to school at 9am and then get to work (40 mins away) for half past? And who picks up the kid from school at 3:15? No one tells you this - that at some stage of your life unless you are filthy rich and can afford a live in nanny - your life, your career needs to change. Not one woman in my office in a senior position has more than 1 child.

Husband and I lay awake last night debating our relationship, our money, our jobs, our life. He wants away from his job - but we have a mortgage to pay, we have a child to feed. We have somehow unwittingly signed up for the money trap - we now need to work to fund what we have: the house in the good area, so Sproglet can go to good state schools, the car, the nursery care for said Sproglet, etc etc. Husband feels pressure, I feel stress. He works nights, I do days, we meet... at weekends when I wanna run the social gauntlet having been a house prisoner for 5 days (bar work) and he wants... peace. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum and it causes us to grind our little irritations, water them until the seeds become massive weeping fucking willows and we do all but kill each other.

We want a ticket out. Yet still have our much loved house. Our very simple, cheap car. The good schools for our Sproglet. Maybe even another child! Ha! Like we could afford that! £927 a month in childcare... I don't think so!

I fell for those lies and yet all is brings is struggle and guilt. Instead of Xmas joy - it hangs on my shoulders - every part of it a chore that has to be squeezed in along side my full time job and time with Sproglet.

I wish I had answers. The new year is about to dawn and I'm determined to take some months off to write this damn book - even if I end up in debt to the eyeballs... It feels like a little oasis I need to swim to for a while. Husband has to find his own way through the labyrinth - I try and hold his hand but he is proud and needs to work out his own solution. I look around - and without sounding like a wanker Tory - I see people on benefits who have 6 kids and a house paid for by the government. I live near those who don't work, who have hired help, who don't have to sweat the bills. I'm in the no mans land in between - the sad middle classes who bought the lie, swallowed the sucker up, applied themselves and ended up on this merry-go-round.

I promise you, I aint bitter - even if this post sounds like I have been licking a lemon for the past few days. I've just had this floating round and round and round in my head - and I needed to get a load off my ever-sagging chest.

Before y'all say it - the way out aint being debt free - that isn't my issue. It's the trying to be all things to all people and somehow have one single second that is just for me - like now, writing this, is so damn hard to do...

One last thing - I can't tell you all how much I've been appreciating the comments of late. Strange as it sounds, it gives me comfort and much joy to know there are like minded souls across the globe who 'get' me. You make my day.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Why are the English so cold???

The English are so unfriendly. There I've said it. Actually I will clarify - the SOUTHERN English. Constantly disappointing. Apologies to those few southern English folk that I do like - you guys are obviously not included in my wild generalisation - but today I got concrete proof that the SEs are colder than Canada at a particularly vicious winter.

My story. One night I was drunk. No surprises there. I travelled home on the train to my little village and went to take a seat. I asked a posh woman to move her bag and let me take a seat as the train was bunged. She reluctantly moved it and muttered 'I hope you have a ticket!' Fuelled by drink and feeling ten foot tall and bullet proof I asked her 'excuse me, what did you say?' Now that little episode could be my case in point - but no, I will go further.

Annoyed and now being ignored by posho SE - I moved seats and chanced upon a couple who had sneaked into first class without appropriate tickets - and were giggling like school kids. Delighted to have found partners in crime as I too had a ticket, but not one for first class, I joined them. We began chatting and then gabbled the whole train ride home. I moaned about Militant Mothers - especially ones in my hood that don't work and just spend their husband's dosh as they look down their nose at me... We all cheerfully bonded. The grumpy man next to me who at first appeared aggrieved, could withstand the banter no longer and joined in. By the time we departed the train he announced that the 3 of us had made his journey a complete joy. Bless him.

Nice couple offered to walk home with me as it transpired nice girl lived opposite my house! However, when we got to the pub at the bottom of the street, suddenly they went into secret squirrel mode - he gave her money for her babysitter (she has a young son) and told her he would hide out in the pub til she told him to come back... Hmmm. She and I walked up the hill home - never mentioning how bizarre it all was.

Since then I think I have seen her baby Father move out - and now nice bloke from the train is around a lot. I've bumped into them a couple of time and we have exchanged a bit of banter. So far - so nice.

Then today I take Sproglet to the park to run off some of his boyish energy. We get there just as nice couple and two small kids with them are walking in - they walk past my car as I am trying to park and I shout a hello. Once inside I imagine we will trade some Xmas chat and how they are etc. I walk in, Sproglet charging ahead to the swings and see them a little way off at a table. Nice woman and her son. Nice man and I assume his kid? I shout 'how are you guys' and he answers politely but there is something in his stance - the way he doesn't engage in any more conversation, the look on his face that I register as - don't come over. I feel it and I know to keep my distance. They play with the kids, going from one kids' park activity to another - while I studiously make sure Sproglet and I are a safe distance away. At one point nice now cold man's kid and Sproglet run towards the same climbing frame and I can see his slow walk, his horror that we are going to speak. I smile awkwardly and he ignores me while he talks to his own child. I hurry Sproglet away. I leave the muddy park quickly.

Somehow, I am disappointed. I knew their relationship was complicated. I knew they were kindred spirits, fun folk who could have a drink and a laugh. Nice woman and I had said we must swing by each other's places and have a cuppa.

But today I felt the cold shoulder. Nothing was said - but they made no effort to speak to me or ask about Sproglet. I just knew. They wanted to keep together and not near me. I'm not so sad that this rejection wounds me - it just, grates on me slightly. What is wrong with people???

What if I bring up Sproglet here - will all his joy and sociability be squeezed out of him and will he too turn into a SE robot?

Yes, I'm generalising. But I feel it. There isn't the warmth of the Irish, the natural openness that tailors their every conversation. The ability to chat to all, regardless of age, colour or creed. (I do know that we spent years bombing each other - but I'll ignore that religious nightmare for a second). Whatever their reasons today - nice but now cold couple could have said a brief hello. But no.

I'm thawing out at home. Wrapping myself in soup and Sproglet's hugs. But I think it'll take a darn sight more to keep out the coldness I feel here on a daily basis.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Groundhog Day....

I'm a bit fed up. No real concrete worthwhile reason - I just am. Life feels a bit groundhog day - in cold wet miserable grey weather that stretches before me as autumn makes a hasty exit and winter blusters in. My life is all about rushing and doing and yet never really achieving anything. Except the need to rush and do all over again.

I miss my carefree spontaneous days when I could be like 'yeah, let's have a drink after work' and 'sure, what time is that movie?' and 'another round - make 'em doubles.' Now my life is all about 'why didn't you get the f**king milk?' and 'didn't you pay the electric bill?' and 'it is your turn to wipe his arse.' Not quite the same.

Don't get me wrong - Sproglet is just brilliant at the moment - gave up his dummy to Santa and has done cold turkey all week. I'd say he cracked his addiction pretty swiftly, bless him. Santa in return has to cough up for a spectacular Buzz Lightyear and a talking Lightening McQueen - I thank you Disney, for getting your mitts on my child so early, and in turn my wallet so tightly.

Everything feels a bit grey. No my Xmas decorations aren't up yet. The thought of writing Xmas cards fills me with dread - where will I get the time for that little nightmare - filled with scrabbling everywhere for addresses and trying to remember who bothered to send you a card last year... Don't even start on the Xmas shopping malarkey - and this year, I can honestly say there is nothing I want. Not in a 'I just want peace for all mankind' mushy kinda way - nope, I just feel a bit over it all - already. Perhaps the shops filled with Xmas overkill from two minutes past Halloween has made me lethargic already.

What do I want? My figure back. To flirt with young boys. Oh yes I want to point out that I have always thought Aaron whatsisface.... Johnson! was hot - even though he be 19 and my work colleagues called me a 'paedo' because of it - and now I am vindicated as he is marrying - yes, MARRYING, Sam Taylor Wood - she be 42!!! Time. Peace. To lie on the sofa and watch an entire box set of Dawson's Creek and not be interrupted. To sleep in. To go to 3 movies in a day. To mooch around shops looking at shoes that I once afforded - nay, were bought for me, from clothing budgets, in my heady presenting days...

Husband and I have barely traded more than 5 words in a week. He was in France - some fancy chateaux to sip Cognac for a few days courtesy of a drink label. Nice. I flew to Belfast with Sproglet who vommed in the cab on the way to the airport. Then I got back and we both have been working like maniacs every since. We only speak to bitch about who should put on a wash. Feck me, it aint glamorous is it?

And even when I had glamour a few weeks back - when I hit some swanky members only clubs in London (Milk and Honey, Bungalow 8) and drank ridiculously expensive cocktails and got smashed, to the extent I danced - alone - in one bar (soooo not a good look) - I was near death's door the next day - boy did I suffer. (Maybe not as much as one friend who also did the 'vomit in the taxi' trick, but not because she gets car sick sadly). I simply can't hold my liquor anymore.

The Xmas bug has yet to bite. Maybe a bout of stressful shopping with Husband through the minefield of Westfield shopping centre will help that along, or send me spinning towards the happy tablets. 2.5 weeks until school is out (well, work) and I get 2 whole weeks off. Naturally I have packed them with seeing folk and charging around the country like a madwoman - trying to squeeze a years worth of social activity into 3 days. See that is what happens when you have no time and a full time job.

Have I said this before somewhere? Yes, I am even boring myself. I'll sign off before I send all readers - all 6 of them - reaching for the gin.

Bah Humbug.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

First time

The first time I married my husband I wore a white trouser suit and a nervous smile. Even though it was a clear mid summers day I shivered as we waited on the registry office steps. Little beads of sweat began to form on the back of my neck and trickled down my collar bone, forming a small pool in my bra. My clammy hands gripped a mixed bunch of roses and lilies, hastily wrapped together, an empty symbol of our non-wedding wedding.

Our secret. One that burned inside of me, making me squirm every time I thought of my family, who had no idea this little event was taking place. I kept telling myself that it wasn't my wedding day, it was all for a mere piece of paper that would keep the boy I loved on the same soil as me.

Yet it felt real, this fake wedding. We trembled in front of the registrar, giggled like naughty school children as we stumbled through our vows and blushed when he slipped my great grandmother's ring on my wedding finger. I stared at the smooth rose gold, hugging my finger tightly, whispering it's forever promise. We'd only known each other a year. One year to the day in fact. In my heart I knew, he was the only boy for me - with his soft werewolf orange flecked eyes and handsome strong jaw, his blinding smile and laid back manner. But his visa had run out and no matter which way we turned, there seemed to be only one solution.

We opened the doors and a handful of close friends - and co-conspirators - tossed little flashes of colour before my eyes. We smiled and posed for photos, going through the motions. I'd seen it all before a million times in the movies and had the moves down pat. Yet it felt hollow and bizarrely, lonely. I crept away from the customary drinks and wept in the toilets. I had signed my life away to a boy and yet we weren't really committed to one another. We had called it the 'between living together and getting married day' - doesn't that have a warming ring to it? Through the whole day my Mother's face kept flashing into my mind and my stomach would churn at my nonchalant deceit. As we clinked glasses and laughed I marvelled at my ability to pretend. Was I meant to be celebrating? What exactly for?

Once home, I pulled the small worn ring from my finger and placed it inside it's usual home - a small velvet box at the back of my drawer. If I hid the ring I could pretend that today never happened, simply erasing it from my mind. I curled round my new husband and watched him sleep, knowing that tonight I would not fall into an easy slumber. Guilt kept me wide awake, fear it's sidekick. Had I done the right thing? My heart said yes, my head felt fuzzy and my gut had it's own little roller disco going down.

One year and two months later not-so-new-husband-who-I-still-called-my-boyfriend proposed. I said yes, then called my Mum at 2am so he couldn't take it back. We had a church wedding the following Halloween. I wore an off white dress and a nervous smile...

That was 5 years 1 month and 2 days ago. Guess I made the right decision.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Down the steps we go...

Sproglet trundled down the steps to nursery, proudly displaying his spanking new bit of tat. A platic watch that came free with those clever magazines who offer new and improved tat every week. Sproglet always zeros in on them, determined that I will buy them for him - all because of a tacky silver phone or crappy little ball game that they offer on the cover - a beacon to his tiny desires. He is powerless to resist the pull of the tat!

He wandered inside, surveyed the scene; several girls dressed as princesses - all pink satin and bits of net, a few boys brum brumming with trucks and a couple of hungry monkeys snacking on crackers at a table. His big doe eyes peered up at me and he didn't let go of my hand. My stomach lurched down a rung or two. I took off his coat and I we hunkered down to take of his shoes. As I unpeeled the velcro, I smelled his freshly washed hair. His soft curls tickled my face. I held him tightly to me, not wanting to let him go. I stood up and he held on to my leg, hiding his little face behind me. 'Mummy... ' he began. He had no question, he just hoped his chatter would keep me there.

I tried to show him the trucks, the games, the kids. Still he clung. Then just as I thought I'd be there for good he suddenly sprinted off, in search of a chum. I called his name, hopeful for a parting kiss, but he was immersed in a show and tell, his watch thrust in front of some child's face as he talked about it with glee. With a heavy heart I climbed the steps back towards my car. I didn't want to leave him. Every day brings new words, new discoveries, new joy - and I miss it. Some days, whiney, tired grouchy days, I am happy to descend the steps, but other days, like today, I don't want to drop him there. I want play time, and fun time with him.

Tonight we read a tale of two guinea pigs called Bob and Brian. It's a tear jerker for sure - Bob is bought by someone and leaves Brian all alone - and devastated - until Brian gets bought - by the same kid. Thank god it has a happy ending. We read a favourite: 'Room on the Broom' and he giggled and tried to say all the words. It is our time together and every night I treasure it. We finish, I place the books back on his shelf and he curls under his covers, awaiting his goodnight kiss. We rub noses and I note another freckle, how his hair hangs over his ears. Its getting long. He's getting bigger every day, his little life racing on and I get so few moments. He strokes his duckie and turns on his side, always easy to go into a slumber.

All too soon we'll be descending the steps. As I watch him sleep the only thought I have is that I am looking forward to April when we won't need the steps any more...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Fuckety fuck fuck

Why did I think I could write a fucking book?

I must be mad. My head spins at a million miles an hour, overflowing with ideas of how I want it to work and yet when it comes to getting it all down, I'm constipated beyond belief. I get impatient. Why don't the words flow fast enough? Why can't I find the right ones and why dear god do I seem to have a vocabulary of only about a hundred words??

Everything is scrambled in my foggy brain, undecipherable and confused. Should I start it this way or that way - am I making sense, where is this going, do I have a climax, what the hell is the resolution, why am I trying to do something I so clearly suck at, should I just give up now and burn my notebooks to create a hearty warming fire out of my failure.

I sigh, I make tea. I play on google, I scrub pots, I make beds I do anything other than write yet all I want it the time to write. A mass of contradictions, a head of sweetie mice, labouring guilt when I realise I have wasted precious time, anger at my inability to concentrate for longer than twenty minutes and greater anger that I am not born to write.

Argggggggggggggh. Fuckety fuck fuck.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Countdown to Xmas...and other stuff

The countdown to Xmas has begun. Suddenly it feels imperative to cram in as much as possible before the year ends for no apparent reason. People want to meet up 'before Xmas' and 'catch up' when in fact you haven't seen them since just before last Xmas...

Dates are booked up in advance, lists are written, flights booked and everyone whirls around desperately trying to have something exciting booked in for NYE. Now I hate NYE with passion. I vote we should all go out on 30th Dec and get ratted, and sleep off the dreadful new year celebrations; a private rebellion to the awful feeling of having to have a good time. Why? Because its new year's eve! It has to be exciting! It has to be fun! What? Spending a mint to go to some poxy function where the free drink runs out at 9pm and you have to queue for 20 hours to get to the bathroom and your taxi home costs a million quid? Bugger that.

Before you ask - I am not Scrooge. No, I like my festivities with the best of 'em. Especially the office count down when chocolates are strewn on every desk and we all giggle over secret Santa and everything feels that bit brighter as there is light at the end of the long grey tunnel - the 2 week break. I cannot wait.

Sproglet has demanded Buzz Lightyear from Santa and boy am I relishing the old 'Santa is watching' card. Like a referee on acid I am spinning that one out at every opportunity. God bless Santa.

Of course Xmas brings the old 'are you in or out' feelings with acquaintances. Are you sending so and so a card - they never bothered last year - so strike! That's them gone. The scary local Mothers are planning an Xmas party - eek! I have been invited. I debated it for all of two seconds, then popped down to see nice Mother (I also know her from work) and told her that I couldn't make it. She asked if I could make it if they swapped days and I was forced to admit that should the world be ending and it was the last party available that wild horses wouldn't drag me there - even if Brad Pitt was dressing up as a half-naked oiled Santa. I explained that other Other Mothers (OMs) weren't exactly friendly - and so I didn't feel like doing the sad girl with no mates shuffle again.

Since then the same group have sent me invites to a girls' Xmas drinks. Now my idea of Xmas drinks is several glasses of champagne, a couple of cocktails followed by harmless flirting with a cute barmen, a singalong on route home with a potential Beyonce homage dance at a place of disrepute that sells shots. Somehow I don't think the OMs would approve. Part of me worries that I have ostracised myself from the local 'in' group - but the rest of me feels like 'they aren't my type of people - just cos we have children the same age, have I got to befriend them?' God forbid. My childish need to be accepted rears its tiny head but my 'confident in who I am' bravo of adulthood is trying to squish it back down again.

I'm happy to dance to my own dodgy tune - create my own group of buddies. The countdown also begins to me leaving my job. Instead of feeling utter panic, I'm fairly cool about the whole thing. Money has never been my motivation in life - why start now? I want to take some time off - finish my book and then see what's out there. The raging ambition of my 20s has been satiated. I still have things I want to achieve but am less of a hurry to do - what have I got to prove? Nothing.

In saying that, I'm in no hurry to become a housewife either. God that phrase made me shudder. I have complete respect for those who make that choice - rock on - but it aint for me. Work doesn't define me - but I sure like having a purpose other than raising a little a person. Something that is just for me. Which brings me to my last countdown currently in my CrummyMummy charts. The old second child debate. It still rages within me. The other day Sproglet had a meltdown so I joined in with him. I imagined another kid thrown into this bargain and then thought - how would I cope with that?? Sproglet and I can hit the movies, grab some sushi, dander in bookstores - we can chug along quite nicely. Adding another some being into the equation would only make everything twice as hard. Husband would still be doing his crazy hours and we would be even more broke - and still we have no outside help as we have no family nearby. What is the solution? I don't have one. Do I want another kid for Sproglet, or for me? Could I really cope? I struggle at the moment and Sproglet is by all accounts 'an easy child.' Don't know when I'll have this one figured out - maybe I never will...

As the air dips a few degrees and the dark nights draw in and I reach for my gloves and a hearty bottle of red, my heart lifts slightly. Everything gets cosy and it feels completely normal to drink hot chocolate at 9am. I stock up on mulled wine, mince pies and garish xmas decorations (last years highlight was a glittery silver deer with pink fur collar - oh yes) and begin mulling over my xmas list. So who is in and who is out this year? Hmmmmm.....

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Halloween Hell

Sproglet looked at me as if I had asked him to eat only greens for the next 10 years. No amount of cajoling, clapping, or praise was going to get his tiny butt into the Bat costume. He had liked it - but now, now he was refusing to be anything other than Spiderman. This - at 8:30am on a Thursday morning as I raced to get him spruced up for nursery in full Halloween attire. There aint a lot of improvising one can do for Spidey. I used some face paints and drew Spidey features on his rosy wee cheeks. Crucial error - (memo to self) I should have done the red base first. Instead, I drew out the black web and then had to fill in the blank spaces so Sproglet ended up looking like a creepy harlequin. He rushed through the nursery door shouting 'I am spiderman!' and all the kids were like 'eh?'

Determined to get it right for the local Halloween party on Sat I spent an hour online finding a padded muscle spidey costume with next day delivery. The party was held in a dark and slightly dingy church hall at eleven am - a strange time for a party, but who I am to argue with the cliquey Mummy's group that had sent me an invite - replete with SPREADSHEET dictating what I should bring.

I dragged Husband with me and he sat glumly in a corner growling quietly. Frankly, he had a point. Maybe I am used to the Irish way of partying - which means that after 10 minutes of arriving you have been invited to two weddings and are practically family to those you have just met. Not so in Southern England - where the friendship winds are decidedly icy. No one spoke to us - apart from the 2 Mums I already knew. Husband slunk off after an hour. Everyone else seemed to know each other. I recognised a few folk from the Xmas do last year - all had another new born child on their hips. The alpha Mums strode around with their special baking and organic raisins for the kids - easy to be a special baker when you don't work 5 days a week - and barely looked at me. I felt like the new girl at school. A posh, prefect aspiring, comfortable footwear and sensible clothing, no sneaky jewellery kind of school. I counted down the minutes until I could leave and then beat a hasty retreat. The two Mums that I knew were lovely - chatty and warm - but the queen bee Mum who seems to run the whole shebang, held court with her husband (who fancies himself rotten - as we say in Ireland, 'if he was a bar of chocolate he'd have had himself ate') and he blanked me even though we have met before. HELL ON WHEELS!

My new rule - is I'm not going to any more of this things. Sproglet has been to a few parties in the past few weeks - all of which have been by and large - great. But yesterday's event just felt laced with tension - as if underneath this whole 'gee whizz aren't we great parents' charade there was a mountain of unspoken competitiveness and snipping. It was all I could do not to reach for the gin when I went home.

Thank god for trick or treating. One street in my neck of the woods had gone to town - and I set off with Sproglet, my good mate from school Gary (who was visiting), his daughter and cool Mum I like and other nice Mum's husband - and their brood. It was as if my nice safe middle class area had actually grown a personality - as every other house sported amazing carved pumpkins, cobwebs, decorations and flashing lights. People answered the door in full costume with large vats of sweets to pour into our kids' buckets.

I think I was a tad over-enthused to see such merriment, and folk embracing my fav holiday with such passion; at every house I thanked them for the sweeties and then gushed about their fancy carved pumpkins until they practically forced me off their properties. I wanted to hug them all and thank them for being such fun people, and invite them all to my own Halloween do. Who had the better time - me or the kids? Hmmmm. Got back and proudly displayed my own carved pumpkin - scary face, nothing fancy - as a sign of 'yes, we 'do' Halloween here, get your candy!' We answered the door every 5 minutes to groups of treaters, some surprisingly old (Gary was amazed that 'girls with breasts are calling at the door - is that allowed?') In the end he had to hit our corner shop for more chocolate as the treaters cleaned us out. It felt like one big party - Sproglet was in his element - but not as much as me.

Today, I am tired, a little glum. The festivities are over. It aint new year but I've made a couple of resolutions: To have my same friends back next year as my manor does Halloween with gusto; to get in more candy; to avoid cliquey Mothers at all costs and finally to remember to do a red base first at all times.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Childhood Memory

It came down to a book. Or rather a pile of them. Everything I'd ever dreamed of hung in the balance of a simple question 'where should she put her books?'

My knees shook and I felt sure that at any moment they might buckle sending me tumbling down the stairs. I stood at the top, a book in one hand, clutching a small wooden box covered with shells in the other. It was my secrets box. Those beady polished little shells almost winked at me, concealing my delightful booty within: coins from Spain, a prized sticker, a baby tooth not yet given over to the generous tooth fairy and some badges I had collected from comics. Treasure indeed.

My Father stood at the bottom of the stairs, staring up at me, a look of fear etched across his handsome face. Next to me my Mother repeated the question. This time her voice was slower, measured, anger dancing right through every vowel. Her nails dug into my arm and she tore my book from my hand, waving it furiously. It's pages flapped creating the slimmest of breezes. Moments passed. I held my breath for what felt like forever.

I had shared a bedroom with my Mother since I was born, in my Grandmother's house. Having divorced when I was 3, Dad lived about a mile away, in a big creaky old Victorian house with my Grandfather. But after a torturous reconciliation, a couple of family vacations and four years of dating my folks were finally ready to take the plunge again. I had packed my beaten up vanity case and accompanied my Mother for a weekend at Dad's house. She told me Grandpa was away fishing and that after the weekend was over, we would be staying there for good. The thing I was most excited about was finally having my own room - my own private space, for sleepovers and everything!

Carefully I had selected which toys would be coming with me on my new adventure. Pride of place was my favourite sticker - a padded cartoon, that I wanted to stick on my new bedroom wall. Once stuck it would be impossible to prize off, or re-stick, so the place it came to rest upon had to be a permanent home. I'd stored my sticker for so long, waiting for the perfect place to attach it.

Finally it had come.

I could smell the bitter sweet alcohol on her breath. I didn't understand why she was crying. Hot salty tears dripped onto my arm and still she didn't let go. My Father hung his head, he remained mute. Why didn't he just tell her I could put them out in his old room - my new room?

I waited. She waited. There was no answer. Suddenly I was flying, hurtling down the stairs, the book tumbling down, coming to rest at the foot of the stairs, as my feet were pulled on, through the hall, past my Father and out the door. I glanced back, but he didn't meet my eye.

My Mother's grip stopped the blood from flowing into my limp arm. Before I could protest I was bundled into her car and we were driving away. She didn't speak. I was too scared to try. The journey to my Granny's only took a few minutes. We were home again, back to our poky shared room.

I went upstairs and opened my bottom drawer. I had a small cherised set of drawers at the end of my bed - a kindly neighbour had given them to me the year before. The held everything I owned. Carefully I placed my box inside. I opened it and let my finger run over the shiny plastic sticker, feeling it's smooth curves and contours.

It had yet to find it's home.

PS If you liked this post please vote for this blog entry at a competition run by called 'The great experiment.' Thank you

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Maybe it's because....

Things at chez CrummyMummy are looking up. I'm always bleating on about when things are going wrong - I blog to vent most of the time - so for once, I want to post when I'm pretty darn chipper.

Maybe it's because right now is my favourite time of the year: the trees a whole spectrum of reds and oranges, crisp bright days, the smell of bonfires hanging in the air as we count down to my favourite holiday - Halloween. Today I dragged poor Jen from work to Tescos to trawl through their row upon row of tat. Normally I hate tat - the plastic creepy rubbish that folk dot their abodes with at Xmas makes me feel nauseous - but at Halloween - bring on the tat I say! You can never have enough spooky crap! I spent far longer than was necessary debating over which costume to get Sproglet (Jen found a magnificent bat one and he thinks it is AMAZING) for fear of being the Mother who tried to hard or didn't try hard enough in the costume stakes at the bash Sproglet has been invited to.

Maybe it's cos I've got enough sweeties in the shape of body parts to fill my pumpkin basket and I will be bringing Halloween cheer to the (rather stressed of late) office come next Friday. My festive pumpkin lights will be strung around my desk next week while my fellow script eds shake their heads and wonder why I have regressed to being 5 again.

Maybe... because Husband and I are 5 years married on Saturday. 5 years and I still like him. At the moment I'm likin' him a whole lot. He's around more than he used to be. We curl up on the sofa and drink feisty reds and watch rubbish tv - like we have begun our own hibernation. Sproglet creeps down the stairs and jumps between us, thinking life on the ground floor is way too exciting for him to meet the sandman. Husband's taking Sproglet to this 'Little Kickers' football training club on Sunday mornings and feeling like a proper Dad - doing sports stuff with his son. He was even willing to attend a kid's party with me on Sat - at a complete stranger's house. Their kid knows Sproglet from nursery - hell, Sproglet has better social life than me - and we duly went along. Watching him try and hide his bursting pride at Sproglet's ability to share and hang out with other kids, makes me go all gooey.

Or it could be that I have a day and a half off work and am getting some much needed book research done. Plus I'm taking Sproglet to see 'UP' on Saturday - and I don't know which one of us is more excited - the reviews are amazing! Apparently I'll need to take a box of Andrex with me as I realise that part of getting older is letting go of your youthful dreams...

Could be that I'm loving my new Mac nail varnish - limited edition which I sourced at the only shop in the UK still to have a bottle. A good shade of purple and yes, there is one. I know, I need to get out more...

Is potentially due to the fact that I have met some cool Mothers - finally! And have made plans to drink with them - not just play dates! They are down to earth, warm, honest and are not militant mothers - hurrah!

Might be because a lovely writer I worked with sent me a cool piece of vintage jewellery as a way of thank you - and I have just published my week of scripts at work - life becomes calmer (fingers crossed) for a week or two.

Is definitely because I'm having those needles inserted tomorrow - a dose of acupuncture with the most amazing woman I know. Is also because a wise friend of mine Hannah told me exactly why I have forgiven my Father and not my Mother (because he is the life and soul of a party and is so much more like me, or me like him, that I somehow absolved him of blame) and I was so ashamed at how simple this was, how shallow, and how right she was - that it has changed my attitude to my Mother completely. She is having a new knee put in this weekend and I've started to realise how precious time is - and I don't want to waste any more of it feeling sad or angry. It is time not only to forgive - but to try and forget. This is my work in progress, but I'm starting with a new frame of mind and it strangely gives me some peace.

Think it might be because I'm taking my best mate for a night in Husband's swanky hotel on her birthday in a few weeks - Sproglet is coming too. It's called 'Girls' night in' and we get DVDs of Dirty Dancing and the like, Diptique candles, boxes of sweets, cocktails galore and in room manicures - bliss. She needs some serious TLC. A night of wrong food and right drinks and I am sure she'll feel better.

Most of all I think it is because I've started this small thing. Bear with me, because it sounds a load of wank. But I've tried to think every day about what I'm grateful for. Are you vomiting yet? I know, some days it aint so easy to even crack a smile let alone be grateful for anything other than making it through the bastard day - but I am giving it a go. Plus Sproglet is just brilliant at the minute - definitely my favourite age. He is bargaining with me to give up his dummies to Santa at Xmas - as long as he gets Buzz Lightyear. Every day brings more fresh bargains than an East End market.

Thr Grinch in me has gone into hiding. For this festive Happy Halloween period I'm pretty freakin happy. Catch me while you can...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

X factor

The winter I was pregnant with Sproglet I cried the night X Factor ended. What would become of my Saturday evenings, without my reason d'etre - the trashy, addictive and utterly contrived tear fest?

Each year gets crazier than the last where poor misguided fools throw themselves at the mercy of the public and Simon Cowell's mood swings and convince themselves that they will be living the dream forever. It never ceases to amaze me that the contestants don't grasp the fact that there is only one winner and even when they get through to the finals - they have a 1 in 12 chance of it being them. Odds are not good - from the off. The producers should win awards for their ability to manipulate the viewers: a few well chosen baby photos, an ill relative, a hard luck story and you can be sure of surviving until week 5 or 6 at least. Until your mediocre talent runs out and you have to high tail it back to singing Beyonce hits to three men and a dog in your local for the rest of your life.

For those few precious weeks when they all bunk down in some glam house in Hampstead, those fame hungry freaks believe that they have got the golden ticket. Until reality bites and they sing for survival only to bucked off the show and then be shipped back to nowhere-by-sea and back to their Dad's courier business or Uncle's chip shop or whatever. I'd feel sorry for them, but years in the cynical world of telly has made me immune - I just wish they'd smell the coffee before the greasepaint is plastered on them.

Take this year. There are a pair of twins with one arrogant brain cell between them that somehow - god only knows how - have survived the phone vote to 'entertain' us again and again. I've seen more talent in a morgue. The only thing vaguely interesting about them is how blissfully ignorant they are to the fact they are without any vocal ability whatsoever. They genuinely think they could win and then 'date Britney Spears.' Both of them at once. Yes.

There is a 16 year old who looks like a scarecrow and dared to sing a Justin Timberlake song... standing still. A girl from Dagenham whose teeth threaten to crush the microphone every time she sings - and when she speaks, well you wish she wouldn't. The winner has already been picked. If that Daniel or is it Dan'y'l (that bit funkier) the sweet teacher who cries if you even look at him - doesn't win, I'll eat my... TV. Clearly he is Cowell's favourite - and that is really what is going to win the X factor - his patronising seal of approval. Although I have to admit, most of what he says - his favouritism for his own acts aside - is actually true.

I have a secret wish this year: that those two Irish numpties win it. Cowell's face would be priceless. No Vogue covers and cosy chats with Oprah for them methinks. Leona they are not. Louis would jump around - his eyes wide - oh hold on, post surgery they look like he popped 5 Es anyway - with glee like a garden gnome brought to life. Watching them plug their Michael Jackson cover (surely?) in a bid to hit that Xmas no 1 slot, would make great viewing.

So vote for the Irish ejits - make a mockery of the whole show and flummox the big wigs who are sure that their carefully edited sob stories will guarantee their preferred winner. John and Edward to win! Sing it!!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Where did all the nice guys go?

Seriously, where are they all hiding? On another fucking planet? Have they been snapped up already? Or is this species extinct? Was I lucky enough to catch one of a dying breed? I ask because in the last week two very dear friends of mine have been messed about, or rather, shat on from a great height by two absolute wankers who came dressed as nice guys, with good teeth, full of promise.

These charlatans led my friends down a merry path, strewn with great sex, declarations of love, firm friendship and a never ending stream of texts. They buoyed up my fragile chums' egos - led them to a place where they felt comfortable, where they let down their self-preservation barriers and then WHAM! Like the scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the child catcher drops the props from his colourful all singing all dancing sweetie cart to reveal a cold hard steel cage - they dropped the Mr 'take me home to meet your Mother I am that good' act and became complete bastards.

One guy works with my friend - so he completely abused his position of power - strung her along and then meekly announced he had fallen hard. For another girl. He expected them still to carry on as friends with benefits! My friend declined - to his surprise. SURPRISE!! Now she is far from stupid. A keen traveller, there aren't many species of man that she hasn't encountered - and she has a fairly good bullshit detector. Yet she fell for him and is still puzzled how they can be so perfect and have such a ball together and yet... what he clearly wants is to have his ego pumped by a 22 year old with an IQ lower than a dead frog and fake tits.

My other friend - a mate from work - had gone much further down the path - set up home, built a life, were preparing to have a family. That far. I liked this guy - he seemed beyond smitten and made her so happy. There were niggles that appeared about a year into their relationship which I tried to ignore - but more and more his veneer slipped to show a narcissistic control freak just below the surface. I must admit, even then, the flashes were so short and so sporadic, I too was conned by him. But now he has thrown off his cloak and revealed his true colours - and he is one cold, cruel **** (please place the other C word here). The only saving grace is that he is so vile, that it makes it so much easier for her to walk away.

I've known a few assholes in my time: the boy who lived on a boat who dumped me because he said and I quote, "You personality is too much for me." He was right - I had one, he didn't. The horror film director who invited me on a date, made canapes and called me a 'little Nazi girl' and asked me if I would let John Malkovich (his latest leading actor) sodomise me. Nice. Yes, it was the one and only date we went on. There was the the other director I dated who said he would call me. He did. Two years later. The boy who would sleep with me, then pace the room in horror at the deed he had just done, flirt mercilessly and then act like I was a stalker. Boy he fried my head. The list goes on. But thankfully I have a happy ending (so far). But I certainly kissed a few frogs in my time. Thing is, I wish my mates would stop meeting such toads.

They are hot, funny, switched on, lively, warm amazing women - catches both of them. Thing is, they are out in the whole dating pool again, while most of their mates are settled down with a partner, sprogs whose idea of a wild night involves doritos and the X factor. It aint easy. Available guys are either commitment-phobes who channel the inner Clooney; divorced with rug rats chomping on their heels and an ex wife chomping on their wallet or freaks who have been sitting on the shelf so long they have developed twitches and a need to propose on date 3.

I wish it was the days of our 20s when we had 'trash or treasure' parties, where each gal would bring a male mate - what is one girl's trash, may be another's treasure (I never got one date from any of those nights sadly - although everyone else seemed to). How does one date in the age where you can be rejected about 50 different ways (not calling/texting/replying on facebook/deleting you from facebook/not replying to tweets/rebounding emails etc etc)? How does one even get a date these days? Having been that single girl for 6 long years - where I made dating a fucking art - I am lost in this high tech age. I have no words of wisdom, I can just buy good wine and even better cake and sympathise, give hugs and remind them how special they are.

But still I ask you, where did all the nice guys go?

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Wishing for willpower

Heavy breathing is involved. I lie on the bed thinking - one more try. I raise up my diaphragm, point my toes and and hold my breath. Can I do it? I wiggle, squeeze, sigh and curse and still it alludes me. The holy grail of the moment.

Buttoning up my skinny jeans. The ones I fitted into back in January - when I was 8 pounds lighter than I am now. Enough. Enough celebrating all things cake. Enough enjoying toast and peanut butter, muffins - even if they are offering a free one at starbucks on Monday - 'sweet treats' and helping Sproglet finish dessert, ice cream at the movies. ENOUGH. I have a whole wardrobe that is calling me, begging me to return to it. There is only a small portion of my wardrobe that I can actually fit into these days and boy am I bored of it.

Thus the bed contorting. The infinite hope that I will get into those friggin jeans, I will damn you, I will.

So a new life beckons me. By tomorrow we will have a TV set up in the basement opposite the evil exercise bike. A box set of the West Wing combined with a liberal dose of determination, a ban on all things well, tasty and a few protein shakes later - I will be in those jeans. Watch this - presently large and soon to be small - space.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Been there done that...

Reading through the entries for The Girl Who's monthly blog competition I noticed one writer listed things she had done - such as surviving 4 hurricanes, living in 5 states etc.

It made me think about all the stuff I've managed to pack into my 36 years - most of them pre-Sproglet:

I've trained as a life coach. I've earned a living as kid's TV presenter, showbiz reporter, film reviewer, associate producer, script editor, barmaid and won Gap's northern employee of the month... Oh yes. I can fold with the best of them. Learned to water-ski (badly). Interviewed DiCaprio (twice), Scorscese, Samuel L Jackson, Vivienne Westwood, Robbie Williams, Frenchie from Grease, Bjork and Helen Mirren amongst others. Told Micheal Stipe drunkenly that 'everybody does indeed hurt...' Married the same man - twice. Fought for and got a C section. Had my teeth fixed. Skinny dipped in Thailand in the middle of a thunderstorm. Got a small tattoo. Had (my only) one night stand with a famous US TV star. Got my heart broken by a director who went on to marry a supermodel. Bitter? Moi? Dyed my hair red and blonde together and separately. Had millionaires pay for my friend and I to stay at the Shangri La hotel in Hong Kong - for a week. White water rafted. Been taught to salsa dance by Will Smith. Bought two properties - both while I was unemployed - go figure. Become a volunteer. Lived in a disused restaurant in Melbourne. Travelled 1st class on Eurostar. Drank cool beers in New Zealand hot tubs. Been inside the Taj Mahal. Nearly got eaten by Jaws at the ancient Florida fun ride. Hosted a weekly live debate show. Asked a boy for a date in an Xmas card and hand delivered the card. He said no. Completed two sponsored silences and was heavily sponsored. Eaten a 22 course meal at El Bulli. Bliss. Stood at the top of the Empire State building at 8am, alone. Blade skated in Vondel Park in Amsterdam. Owned a pair of Manolos. Mastered cartwheeling - in heels - drunk. Fell in love for the first time in Berlin, at 17. Went back a year later, had my heart broken in Berlin, at 18. Lied my way into Paris Fashion week. Attended a human autopsy - the smell of a human heart has never left me. Produced a series of Topless Darts at the Circus, with a dwarf as the ringmaster, in a disused circus in Great Yarmouth - in November. Snorkelled in the Maldives. Windsurfed. Written off my car in the snow. Haggled in a souk. Visited Mozart's house in Vienna. Kissed a girl and liked it. Had a fling at 27 with a cute boy who worked in a cookie store and told me he was 20. At my work's Xmas do his best mate told me and my assembled colleagues and bosses that cookie boy was in fact...17. I don't regret it. Presented a dating show. Taken a film class. Learned pottery. Had a tango lesson. Broken my arm in 3 places. Survived a Brazilian wax. Learned to roll a perfect er... cigarette. Paintballed and seized two of the 3 flags. Danced on top of the Felix bar in Hong Kong. Been asked to leave the Felix bar in Hong Kong. Star bothered John Galliano and Starsky - or was it Hutch? Not in the same evening. Had a Halloween themed wedding. Watched fireworks in the snow on New Years Eve. Been a bridesmaid 5 times. Discovered cooking and the joy of going to the cinema alone. Worked out how to use tit tape. Cycled in London. Slept under the stars. Seen Prince in concert 3 times. Got my bronze Duke of Edinburgh. Captained a debating society. Learned how to put on make-up. Still learning how to save money. Stayed at The Mercer NY. Visited the old leper colony Spinalonga in Crete. Eaten lamb's brains. Caught crabs and cooked them in Perth. Danced in Paris. Survived 3 broken hearts and one pregnancy.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Back to Life... summer of '89

It happened on an innocuous morning. Moseying to work, radio on, flicking through the channels. Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' came on and bam! I was back in April 1989, my 16th birthday. I can't remember who bought me the cassette album, but it stank of patuli oil and featured Madge with all new long dark hair. I remember it was a Friday; after arguing with my Mother (who had bought me a rose gold cross which I wore on a piece of worn leather and thought I was ultra cool) and her booting me out of her car, I strolled into her ex-boyfriend's house (I lived with him at weekends).

I didn't care that she wasn't speaking to me, because tomorrow was my celebration! A bunch of us hitting Harveys pizza place in town and then the smokey dingy Empire pub with our fake IDs. At the restaurant my best friend presented me with a god awful cake she had cremated in the microwave - but she had filled the middle with party poppers and balloons that I doled out to all there and proceeded to stand on a chair to make a speech. I remember it being the year I bucked the trend and invited those I liked - even the geeks - rather than the 'in' gang to my do - I had had enough of having to like ignorant rugby boys because it was the done thing. I was making my own rules. The thought still makes me smile.

Later at the dive pub, I met a cute boy called Mark (crucially aged 21) and I pretended it was my 18th; he gave me the birthday kiss to end all birthday kisses. I think I swooned. Our 'romance' continued when I went to his house a few weeks later to help him babysit his kid sister. I crept around trying not to wake his sleeping Granny while he spent the night trying to get in my innocent virginal pants and even made me stand on the opposite side of the road from his house when my cab came to pick me up. I found out via a phonecall with his brother (Mark no longer returned my calls and it was long before mobile phones) a few weeks later, that his kid sister and Granny had been at an ice skating competition in Dublin and I had been there as a lamb to the slaughter...

The DJ (irritating twang, nasal voice) announced next up was 'Back to Life' by Soul 2 Soul. Tune! All of a sudden I was lying on my back on an itchy woollen rug, celebrating the end of my GCSEs, hoicking up my top for the merciless sun to tan my oh so flat stomach. There had been a helluva party at Blair's house the night before - we'd had to break in as his parents had locked it up tightly before they disappeared for the weekend. But we had celebrating to do. The exams were over, the world was our oyster and I already knew I had bagged a much coveted A in art. I hitched a ride with some older boys to grab beers at skanky Laverys off license to take back to the party - I think hoping I would bump into asshole Mark - and that night we camped out in my Dad's back garden (he lived near Blair and was also away for the weekend - but having been caught for having an illicit party there the year before, I wasn't going to offer it as a place to hold the party).

I woke the day after the party in the sweaty smelly tent, desperate to breathe in fresh air. I threw open the tent entrance, took a deep breath and gagged as my friend Emma had vomited right there. My other tent buddy was nowhere to be seen. Our other friend (god knows how we hoped for of us would sleep in this tiny tent) Caroline had already christened the abode with her own puke and had scuttled home - or maybe had crept into her boyfriend Colin's house... Good times. Breakfast was a Burger King thick shake and then home to sleep off the hangover in the sun... Listening to Soul 2 Soul and Prince's Batdance.

Then it hit me - like a fucking bullet - that was 20 years ago!!! 20! Oh my god. Where did all those years go? Because I know every word to Like a Prayer and if I close my eyes I am 16 again, I'm so full of hope and determination. How can I now be thirty fucking 6?? And what would my 16 year old self make of me now?

I reeled as I went up the stairs to the office. I was mulling over the fact I was a devout viewer of the show I now work on, in those days - never missing an episode even though my Mother regularly told me I should be revising instead of watching a soap. I mulled over how unbelievably fast those years sped by. I missed my life then: the tight bubble of friendship, the incestuous school affairs, the feeling that everything happening to me was so BIG in my little world. My desperation to escape Ireland and have adventure. I wish I'd known I was having great adventures even then. I still see my school mates all the time. My same best friend lives 5 mins away. Us gang of girls (the tent pukers) got together only 2 months ago. Yet I miss those carefree days. When we ran to the store that would sell us single cigarettes, gossip and smoke in little booths in Delaneys coffee house after school on a Friday and neck half pints of cider and black while listening to tuneless bands in the Empire every Saturday, hoping to kiss wrong boys and life, well it was for the taking.

There was something so new about it all. Lt reminds me of the film 'The Outsiders' when Ralph Macchio says that everything is 'gold.' I wish I'd appreciated it more. Like in 20 years I wish I'd appreciated now more....

The upshot of all this is... well... I'm not gonna worry so much. It never gets me anywhere anyway. I'm not gonna worry about losing my job in April - things'll work themselves out - they always do. I'm counting blessings and enjoying the here and now. I'm determined not to let a single second pass me by - and unless he/she/it is worth it - I'm just not investing in it any more.

Maybe the turtle in Sproglet's 'Kung Fu Panda' movie has the answer: Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery - that is why today is 'the present.' I intend to grab it with both hands.

Now where the hell is my best of Soul 2 Soul CD?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Greetings from Sardinia

Hello! Wish you were here and all that. No really, I do. 10 days in the resort from hell has got me bouncing off the walls. The weather has been mixed, the room shabby and don't get me started on the service - but I don't want to dwell on all that stuff. Husband was grumpy by day 2. Thank god the cocktails were good and he had a gripping novel to get stuck into or there could have been bloodshed. No more last minute travel for us! It will be a military planned affair - ticking all the needed boxes... Husband aint good without a city to meander through and a temple/fancy restaurant/old building or two to visit. Me - stick me on a beach with a cosmo and I'm as happy as a jaybird.

But when I get back to Blighty tomorrow, rather than bitch about the dreadful resort (Chia Laguna if you want to know) I'll remember the little wonderful things: Sproglets's face as the sea whooshed over his tanned little feet - how he danced away with squeals of delight as if a monster were chasing him; him struggling into his yellow rubber wings and frolicking in the pool insisting he was 'swimming'. How every evening he asked where was the lizard that seemed to live in the air conditioning unit in his room. How handsome Husband looks with a tan - one that he gets by merely glancing at sun. Me - I have a wonderful Irish tan after hours out there - blotchy and freckled on pure white skin. Nice.

I'll think about how we played games soaking each other and laughed like drains. How Sproglet slept in his Father's arms while a massive thunderstorm raged and rain poured in buckets into the one great restaurant we found two nights ago. How I shoved a lamp out of the path of the torrent of rain and the next day a breakfast a man called me 'heroic' - when actually I was just plain stupid.

I'll think about Sproglet making chums and then asking for them long after they departed. How his feet are stripey from the sun only hitting the spaces between his sandals. How I mulled over my book with a corona on our balcony and watched the sun set as a million birds tweeted nearby. I'll hear Sproglet singing 'chichy wah wah wah' in his sweet tone deaf voice captivated by the kids' entertainment dancers. The mountain of watermelon I chomped through at every meal and my amazing lobster pasta. The cute train that ferried us to the golden beach and the size of the waves on our last day, that caused the lifeguards to go surfing.

When I think about all these little things on a dreary night in October, I'm sure I'll find myself missing here and wishing I was back. Must go - I have a case to pack with salty clothes...

Saturday, 5 September 2009

500 days of summer....

Last week I watched '500 Days of Summer' a sweet but underwhelming movie that has been over hyped to it's detriment. A joy to watch but sadly not memorable - perhaps because the leading lady was so cold and unlikeable that we never really got why wonderful boy fell for her Arctic charms in the first place.

The reason I enjoyed it so much was it took me back, waaay back to all those tentative fumblings and messy pronouncements: the stomach churning baby steps towards the holy grail that is love. How far I fell and how badly I was burned. Would I change it? Not a bit of it.

It made me yearn for the moments where a silent phone is the most devastating of all objects; where you change three times before you venture out on a date and then ruin everything by getting plastered before the mains arrive - elbows slipping off the table, yes waiter we'll have another bottle...; where you wax weekly; paint your toes to match your nails in vivid happy colours; pour over your stars for the week convinced that Mystic Meg will predict that your courtship is destined last and when first kisses were better than than the sex to follow.

Drunk with lust, how your rose tinted glasses disguised the unfunny jokes or the dirty nails because they were so fucking hot you didn't care - you would simply die if you didn't lick the sweat off their neck or hold their bare flesh next to yours for a whole blissful elicit night. Waiting for that oh-so-casual call to invite you for the next date; debating when to shag them, deciding 5 dates minimum and only making it to date no.2... Fifth date how their white sports socks would be the deal breaker that had you deleting their number from your mobile and failing to return their calls.

Oh the merry-go-round that is love or lust or just getting out there. I miss the unwrapping of another's body, discovering hidden secrets in their smiles and raised eyebrows, touching for the first time, letting them discover you as if you were virginal again. Heart flutterings, unable to concentrate, talking all night, morning sex, feeling alive, high, unlike you have ever felt before. The tumble into the darkness when they fail to call, or give the old 'it's not you, it's me' or simply continue the dance with you until you are so broken you can't see what is right in front of you anymore and it takes all of your supreme strength to shout 'enough!' and start again once more.

The escasty of newness can turn to dust in a heartbeat. Which is why I am happier where I am these days. Oh I know that Husband and I can't go back and have that first kiss which set him on fire - literally - he was leaning over a table in a dirty underground smoky bar and didn't see his sleeve was hanging into the romantic table candle. I can't return home from a great movie (for the record a little Swedish gem called 'Together') to find him waiting on my doorstep, smoking a cigarette on a hot humid night, where I sucked in my breath as I'd forgotten how jaw droppingly handsome he was and thanked my lucky stars that he was staying the night... I can't go to Venice with him on our first break away, where we ran through the narrow spooky streets, took a speed boat along the winding canals and drank prosecco until dawn.

I can't go back. Some days I wish I could. It was all so intoxicating.

We go to Sardinia for 10 days on Monday, as a family. Italy again. Different place, with our addition of Sproglet. And as the sun sets and we drink our sundowner beers and listen to crickets sing their cheerful chorus, he is still that boy on the stoop and I'll still get excited.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

One or two with that?

There is an internal debate that has raged within me for the past year. One day I am on one side of the fence, the next day the other. Some days I just sit on this metaphorical fence and procrastinate my ass off, worrying about all the scary magazine articles that tell me my ovaries are shrivelling up as I read.

I am 36. That upsets me on many levels, but this post isn't about the loss of youth... I will be 37 in April. Oh yes, the month that I lose my job. Sproglet turned 3 two months ago. Friends tell me constantly that he is an 'easy child.' Having spent time with around other kids now that Sproglet is getting a busier social diary than Posh, I know this to be true. He wolfs down his grub, does as he is told, gets two stories post bath and is asleep in five minutes. He is sweet, shares his toys, entertains himself, loves movies and two Mothers told me last week that he is the 'least aggressive' child their kids had ever played with.

Yet I still have meltdowns. So the maths is: take one stressed out full time working Mother, add a Husband who wants to change job, (meaning big salary cut) and currently works nights, divide by me losing my job next year and very few script editor jobs flying around, multiply by the fact I find many aspects of parenting hard and tedious and we have no grandparents nearby to help us, add in the fact I don't get enough time to do anything for myself any more and child care costs an arm and a leg and an ear and what do you get?

You get a woman who has no idea whether or not to have another baby.

Heart says yes. Head says no. Body says get me up the duff tonight as I need to procreate NOW! Hormones spinning and whizzing across the place like a pinball machine on acid.

I was an only child. Explains a lot yes? My parents split up while my Mum was pregnant with me. I yearned for a sibling as I grew - someone I could say 'aren't our folk freakin' nuts?' to on manys an occasion. I yearned not to play alone knocking a tennis ball against the wall daydreaming I was winning Wimbledon. Making up problems and answering them like an Agony Aunt (what was all that about?). Yes, I was talking (quietly) to myself. I swore I would never have an only child. I always planned on 2.

And here I am. We go for dinner and it feels wrong with that empty fourth chair. I watch Sproglet tenderly kiss little babies and I want to give him some family of his own. Then I look at him and can't imagine loving something as much as him.

What to do? Because if it wasn't hard enough - I've got that ole biological clock tick tocking it's fucking head off in my ear. Researching for my book, I've been speaking to IVF clinics and they scare the bejesus out of you with all their graphs of 'stiff decline in the potential to conceive' and '13% chance of conceiving in the first month at optimum age and with no fertility issues' statistics. I know there is never a good time. Am I ready to give my life over to Motherhood completely? What do I still want? I worked fucking hard for my degree, my career, my life. I still want to be me.

Can I go through all those sleepless nights and weaning and rotten nappies again? What if I decide no - then leave it - too late? My son has made me happier than anything, but am I thankful when the sandman arrives and I get to slump with a glass of red on my (most expensive regret) of a sofa? You betcha.

Part of me thinks it is just this pressure to conform - to have your 2.4 - and that alone makes me want to have only one. I do and I don't. I feel sad at the thought of only having had the one and am not quite sure I am done. Sproglet just needs to have a meltdown in Waitrose when I won't buy him a second cookie and I will swear off ever sprogging again.

Then we go for pizza and I stare at the empty fourth chair....and the biological alarm goes off. I press the snooze button - again.

Monday, 31 August 2009


Over the past two weeks or so a cloud has descended. With it an invisible block has settled on my shoulders weighing a mere tonne. My head has felt woozy and unfocused - full of cotton wool. Melancholy has got me firmly in it's grip and nothing I do seems to loosen its stranglehold. I feel spent. No energy, little enthusiasm, a weird sense of numbness. This isn't depression. Depression charges over you - a thunderous wave dragging you under to the abyss where you remain, sinking lower and lower until you are lost in the eternal pit of despair. I'm not sinking. No, I'm afloat, but I'm treading water.

I thought it was PMT. Period came and went.

I thought it was the weather's subtle dip in temperature, the sure sign that summer is about to hit the highway and autumn is 'a knocking. Yet today the sun blazed - as if a Indian summer had overuled Autumn's arrival and still I remained in my emotional limbo.

Last week I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep - a mixed up mess of anxiety that gnawed away at me refusing to let me have a moment's peace. So I visited my acupuncturist on Saturday. Curled into Husband's waiting neck, bathed with Sproglet, ate chocolate, read great blogs, indulged in some West Wing whilst prone on the sofa - all big comfort providers. Still the lingering grip...

Today a friend who has known me many years said she had never seen me struggle so hard for so long. The solution to her was simple: work less hours or get more help. She is right. Along with some horrendous Protestant work ethic I have some inbuilt need to beat myself up at every opportunity if my life isn't straight out of a 'White Company' catalogue replete with Jamie Oliver culinary skills, a 2.4 angelic brood and a life that screams 'I did ok - honest!' at every turn. Every day my little voice begins its chant - starts with my morning shower - 'You could be thinner. What is all that cellulite - you could make a golf ball factory from your thighs!' 'You must hit the gym before your jeans button explodes and takes someone's eye out.'

Continues at work 'you could have done that better.' 'Why don't you remember who shagged who and when X character died and what story line you has changed etc' 'Everyone can see through the fact you can't do your job!' Over lunch 'You failed today. So much for healthy eating - you gave up the minute the birthday cake went round and you insisted on getting the corner knowing it was the biggest slice.' 'YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN BE THIN - LOSER!!!'

'You are a bad Mother. You let Sproglet watch TV when you picked him up. You should be playing games and being entertaining and whisking up some cupcakes and organic broccoli soup even though you are shattered. Oh, did you forget the milk? Again...'

After dinner 'You should be cleaning out the fridge/washing clothes/ironing so your son doesn't look like he crawled out of the bog when he hits nursery/making a healthy lunch/cleaning/hoovering/dusting/did I say cleaning?' 'You forgot so and so's birthday. You suck as a friend.' 'You didn't call your step-sister back. You are lazy. And that book aint gonna write itself... how can you watch TV when there is so much to do. To do. Did you hear me? THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO.'

Yes I am mad. I never stop. I never just let it the fuck go and relaxxxxx. I wind myself into a tightly coiled spring that is ready to pop at any given moment. I need a break - but more than that - I need to rethink my whole juggling act. I'm dealing with too much and I'm slowly sinking under - there is no respite. But there is an end in sight. My job ending may well be a great thing. Come spring I don't want to work full time. I don't want to bust a gut trying to be all things to all people. I don't want to end up this tired and drained and grey. The winds of change are coming.

I'm ready. I'm not scared any more. I'm relieved.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Too much information

You know how most folk have an internal dial that alerts them to the moment when they should wrap it up and keep the rest of their story to themselves? Yeah, mine is missing.

Today we got talking at work about hair removal. What a pain in the ass it quite literally is. All that shaving followed by itching, agonising waxing followed by rashes or dying - which just makes your mo look Swedish in origin but by no means hides it's thick dusky beauty.

I piped up with my Brazilian story. The one where the woman took me to new heights of pain and then announced that we were barely a quarter of the way through (and I am fair haired!!). The one where she showed me her fabulous creativity by holding up a mirror for me to admire my 'last plucked turkey in Tescos' crossed with little pre-pubescent girl look that I hadn't exactly been striving for. The one where I got many white headed spots sprouting pesky in-growing hairs in places I could barely reach as a reward for my troubles. Now at this point I should have stopped. But oh no, I was only warming up. I opened a dialogue about why we need pubic hair to funnel/direct urine as we wee. That with the absence of such hair we frankly piss like watering cans.

Cue much shuffling of scripts and frantic typing on computers - time for old CrummyMummy to wrap up the chat! But I blustered on almost demonstrating how pubic hair plays such an important role in a woman's life. I was just about to launch into my 'I would rather have a smear test than have a Brazilian again' chat when finally the dial clicked in and a warning light buzzed on in my brain. I retreated to my desk.

In disgust with a writer I once worked with I announced that I would rather have a smear than work with him again - 'point me to the stirrups' was my defining argument on that one - although I perhaps should have stopped short of clambering on a desk and portraying such a stance.

Often I will share my news with the office - my latest being that Sproglet has begun FINALLY to crap in his pot. Whilst a friend's daughter had brilliantly got into Oxford University that day - I was equally proud that my child had finally mastered where to poo - and felt the need to share my joy.

Marriage meltdowns, dreaming of obscenely young men with 9 inch tongues who breathe through their ears, hairy nipples, mucal plugs falling out, tampons getting lost internally, sex in phoneboxes - oh the range of my inappropriate conversations is vast.

Did I tell you the time that I.... maybe not. I'll save it for later, shall I?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I try to walk past but I can't. My head whirls round with the speed and agility of the girl in the exorcist movie. I tiptoe across the supermarket aisle, hopeful that I won't be seen. My eyes flick over the titles, drinking in the celeb updates! Hot new fashion! The tips to make you cellulite free in 5 mins! The scandal! The NOOZE! Before I know it my addiction has me fully in it's grasp and I am hungrily, nay, ravenously drinking in all the frothy information dressed up as journalism.

Trash mags. I know they are wrong: fawning over stick thin fame chasing B listers who haven't a brain cell to rub between them; endlessly trying to pit women against women (who wore it best? Who is TOO FAT! - next week - TOO THIN!); focusing on inane subjects such as the merry-go-round of incestuous celebrity love lives and generally making us all feel that bit worse about ourselves, not to mention a bit well... dirty. Like we need a good hour in the tub to scrub off all that glee at clocking that the rich and famous still have problems, just like us civilians.

I pour over photos debating have they/have they not had surgery? Try to quell my house envy when so and so invites us to their palatial 3rd holiday home in Miami. I lust after shoes that I would never have the opportunity to wear in a million years but oh my god - I want them! I read about special machines that would turn me into 'an A lister body' if I re-mortgaged my house and could then afford two treatments on them. Time flies by and the check out assistant begins to cough to let me know that I had better stop fingering the goods and cough up some dough.

I can't buy them though - that would mean admitting to reading them. Something I am not prepared to do. I stuff them back on the shelf and walk quickly away from the scene of my crime. If anyone asks - trash mags, you read 'em?


Saturday, 8 August 2009

The G fairy

Is it wrong to eat strawberry cream tarts for breakfast? No I didn't think so. Friends came over for dinner last night and by the time I had bathed and bedded Sproglet and rustled up some culinary joy, we kind of forgot about dessert. It might also have had something to do with the many jugs of gin, elderflower cordial and apple juice - try it, trust me - that I kept pouring...

Sproglet couldn't believe his luck at the booty I brought forth from the fridge. I debated if we really should be chowing down on such fare, for all of about two seconds and then we tucked in. Sproglet had already had proper breakfast I might add, should you think I'm pumping my kid with fat and sugar without some proper sustenance - mind you most cereals are filled with just that - so the innocent little tart probably is healthier...

The crummy mummy tribe are on the move today - we're off to Southampton to visit an old friend of mine, over from Canada. I call her G Fairy - as in 'the good fairy.' Because she is, or was, so damn good. She has a sing song voice, a sunny disposition, unrivalled politeness and is the kind of person who buys an Xmas tree for her room in a grubby shared house.

One particular Xmas when we shared a flat, I came home slaughtered, lips stained black with a violent strain of red wine, to discover G Fairy having a merry little Xmas sing song as she carefully wrapped her carefully chosen gifts under said tree. Never again have I seen such a visual that captured the holiday spirit. She belongs in the Waltons or something... Anyway, I picked up my unwrapped (largely unbought) gifts and demanded she wrap them too. Out of fear or simply to humour me, she did. I might add my current fling at the time, well, he kind of looked like the devil. All dark pointed eyebrows, thin face and black hollow eyes. Yes, a real stunner. Let's make it clear that I was with him for his mind; he was a hugely talented TV producer with a hugely expensive cocaine habit - and obviously best avoided. (I was young and mending a broken heart at the time so he seemed the perfect tonic. His scary eybrows and all). G Fairy glanced over my shoulder at the antithesis of everything she was - glaring at her and she squeaked in fear.

From that moment on I became the Bad Fairy. She calls me B. Funny thing is, I bought a flat, met Husband a few years later, married - with G taking the pics at my wedding - had a baby - all very G stuff. She however, followed an unsuitable boy to Canada, settled there, ditched unsuitable boy, hooked up with another one and then ditched him and settled for... well, his boss. Not so G. She now has her own baby with said boss man.

Somewhere along the line we worked out that we swapped places - although I would wager that deep deep down she was never that G that I was never as B as she thought I was.

Her Dad has a sprawling house, with a pool and... a pub in his back garden. A small one, but a pub none the less. Husband likes it very much. They never call time at the bar. Never have to throw out a rowdy rugby bunch or wait for an hour to get a drink. Brilliant.I'm going to meet her son for the first time. No doubt we will drink to his health.

Maybe we'll revert to our old roles... we'll see.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Brandy baskets

My Mother came to visit for a week.

A mundane, simple statement that provokes all kinds of turmoil for me. To start with my Mother and I are opposites in every way. I am my Father, at least in personality. They separated while she was pregnant with me and then conducted a torturous courtship where he managed to have not one, but two simultaneous affairs. She couldn't live with him, couldn't live without him. They were due to remarry - she even bought the dress. But the affairs came to light and my Sunday visits to Daddy became gin fuelled violent rows, home in time for Sunday lunch with Granny.

I had dinner with Husband last night. 8 years together. He looked dashing in a suit and ordered a memorable bottle of red, while listening to me babble incessantly about my story course for the entire meal, willing him to understand the intricacies of story structure that I barely grasped myself. He mentioned my Mother. They discussed me, as always. My Mother said to him, 'She has forgiven her Father and yet she won't forgive me. But I try the hardest, I make all the effort to make it up to her.'

I couldn't breathe. It was the moment in a movie where time stops. Where the world slows down and the only thing you can hear is the dim squawking around you and you try and breathe.

She is an alcoholic. A recovering alcoholic. Her alcoholism is possibly the most interesting thing about her. If she wasn't my Mother, would I want to spend time with her?

She comes to stay and we begin the dance. She unpacks calling it 'her room' and I let it slide. The words 'spare room' linger in my head but I let it go. She has just arrived. Then the expectation. That I will cook, that I will attend to her. That somehow I have to be grateful, that I have to show how happy I am to see her. She showers Sproglet in love and declares him 'Granny's boy' and my hackles rise. How easy it is to be the brilliant grandparent and to forget how fucking woeful one was as a parent. But if we can just convince all around us that we can do this Grandparenting bit right - then no-one will cast up, no-one will remember.

I remember. And I can't let go. I try, but I can't. I spent my life with her walking on eggshells, trying to work out what I had done wrong, what had triggered a mood, what had sparked her venom. Now she has changed, I know it, we all know it. We've turned tables. She no longer has the power to make my life miserable - instead I watch as she squirms and tries and flounders and I let her walk on the eggshells. I don't consciously do this - I don't wake up wanting to make it difficult for her. But my default setting is adjusted to 'defend' and so every comment she makes I am there with my shield - ready to pounce - sure that she is judging every tiny thing I do.

The worst of all to criticise my Mothering. What would she know about that? Then I'll come home to find every piece of clothing washed and ironed to perfection. The fridge to be filled and Sproglet bathed and ready for bed. I'll feel all these stirrings of gratuity and then she'll tell me what she did, she'll expect gratitude and so I'll withhold it - like some stupid playground game, some power play. It is pathetic, but i don't know what else to do. Who else to be around her.

She'll offer to pay for new blinds for our bedroom and I will take the money. I'll accept it without thought. I'll never think about how hard she worked or what she went through to earn that money - I'll just be selfish and think how great the blinds will look. Fucking white blinds. She has a bad knee and will mention it in between hobbling and instead of having sympathy for her I will be mildly irritated as if on some dark level she is faking it - or even darker, that her fucking sore knee will mean I am duty bound to show sympathy for her - when my heart is stone.

Then she'll order dessert in a restaurant and the ice cream will come in a dish, in a brandy snap. And I'll eat the same dessert and I'll say how brandy snaps remind me of my childhood and she'll tell me how I used to suck all the cream out of them and then ask for more and in that moment I will love her so much and so strongly that my heart will be eaten up with guilt for being the bitch that I have been all week. And yet I can't forget, I can't move on.

Then we'll drive to the airport, not before she has pressed an envelope filled with money for the blinds in my hand and I will thank her and feel bad, but still take it - not knowing really what to say. Maybe I think she will always owe me. At the airport she will kiss Sproglet and he will ask where Granny is going and she will begin to cry and then hobble on her stick to the airport door, scared to look back. And I will drive off and feel relieved and come home and look at that sad little envelope with the fucking blinds money and I will weep.

Because I don't know why I can't love her, I don't know why I can't move on. Why I am always on edge when she is here and when she tells me how much Sproglet loves her and talks about it - it only serves to irritate me further. Husband says I need to give her a break - and I want to. I really want to.

Her last Husband walked out of her life almost 2 years ago. I had liked him the first time I met him in '96. Another man she'd brought into my life, made me love and then he'd gone. He hasn't spoken to me since they day he left. She mentioned this week she had seen him and shown him a photo of Sproglet. He asked if I was disappointed in him - she told him I was. I told her that I never want her to mention him to me again.

She stopped drinking 10 years ago this September. After a usual drunken evening I had taken her aside, confident that I would bear no consequence as she lived (lives) in Ireland and I was about to step on a plane back to London. It was so wonderful to be able to be honest with her and know that I could walk away. She attended her first AA meeting that night. She never looked back.

But I look back. I remember. Even without the drinking, the fear, the loneliness, my Mother and I were never friends. We were and are poles apart. We talk about trivia but the things that inspire me most in life (bar Sproglet) - a film, and article in a Sunday paper, a book - she would have never seen, never read. I often hate myself for wishing she was a different person - a person I had something in common with. For finding kinship with my Aunt (her Sister)and for enjoying her company more.

When I think of every Xmas, being duty bound to have this woman in my life it fills me with anger and resentment. Why should I? Why I am beholden to her? I will feel so conflicted and unresolved about her that it churns up the teenager in me and it is like I never left Belfast, that I never escaped.

My childhood was long ago and I don't want to be that sad bastard that can't let go, that can't just grow the fuck up - and yet here I am. I love her because she is my Mother and yet it isn't that simple. It is all immersed in politics and recriminations and revenge and I am not even aware that I am doing it.

She has gone and I realise that in the 7 days she was here I never once hugged her. That makes me sad.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

From the darkness there came light....

....So I got my period on Tuesday. Thank God for that. Boy does my PMT push me into some dim and dark places...

A couple o' other things have pulled me from the abyss:

No.1 The West Wing. Just discovered it. I know, I know, forgive me. I found Oasis 3 years after Britpop. I just kinda like takin' my sweet ass time to like things, not just cus someone tells me to. It is now my crack. I need to feed my addiction daily or I get twitchy. Is just so brilliantly written and smart and funny and poignant and engaging and thank god there are another 6 series for me to gorge on.

No.2 I'm on a course this week. I don't talk much about work here on my blog as I fear the wrath of the mighty BBC. I don't know why I should, as next April in line with their 'refreshing talent' ideal (which boils down to 'after 2 years here we are obliged to make you staff, which we don't want to do as that would costs us more, with all the privileges that being a staffer allow, so thanks for all your hard work, see you round') - I will have to find new work... Anyway, I'm on a story course which is all about how to structure story - 5 acts, multi protagonist, what is the protagonist's flaw, what is the story value, how to tell the theme from different view points, how to create a hybrid multi-protgaonist story, how to shape shift blah blah - for those not enamoured with such detail, I'll skip it.

Suffice is to say - it is just brilliant. Inspiring, informative, thought-provoking and downright exciting, it has put a smile back on my chops. Shame it only lasts 3 days - I could attend it every week. Its great never to stop learning - the day you think you know it all, I guess is the day you should give up. The joy in what I do is the constant drive to better oneself, to sharpen my skills, to test myself.

No.3 Husband and I have been together 8 long years tomorrow... 7 legally married, 5 officially and publicly married. Have we passed the 7 year itch?? Who knows, occasionally we both scratch. We are going for dinner at a place that is slap bang in the middle of the city, but has a rooftop garden and more importantly a lengthy martini list. People keep reminding me how recently some poor city fella got all spruced up, had a glass of fine champagne and then threw himself from the building. Hopefully the fact it is now the in vogue place to jump in these credit crunch times, will not put a dampener on our date.

No.4 We have booked a Holiday. 10 days - not 7 - crucial difference - in September, to Sardinia. Most importantly - they have a Kids' club. So Sproglet can mingle with Italian kids and splash around and I can read a book!! Then in the afternoon I can take him on a mini train that the hotel runs to the beach: white sands, idillyic clear water. We can build sandcastles and rockpool. In the evening we can step away from the hideous hotel's evening events and as Sproglet sleeps I can do some writing. This book aint going to write itself. Husband can drink fine wine and sleep. Bliss.

So.... things aren't so bad. It is swings and roundabouts I guess. Now I'm off to take the slide...