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 http://www.thegirlwho.net/ 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.