Friday, 28 October 2011

Jeans, Ren miracles and spooky stuff.

Hello y'all.

I haven't had the chance to write for a while. Stuff has been a happening in these parts which has been pretty tough. Husband is probably going to have to resign from his job, which is all a bit hideous, seeing as I am not bringing home any bacon. Not even a pork scratching in fact. Is a long and complicated story - and for no doubt legal reasons etc I can't go into it. But we have had sleepless nights, lots of stress and manys a harsh word.

However, in the midst of this moment of sheer terror, there are good things. Such as Sproglet won a trophy at soccer today and he was as pleased as punch - for 'most improved player' during his half term football school. I was beyond chuffed and cheered way too loudly just so everyone knew that was my son - yes, my boy, who won.

I have these vouchers for Selfridges - swanky shop in London - and decided to get myself some new jeans, as all of mine are falling down my ass. Not a good look. I went to the denim section and tried on many pairs - before I knew it, delighted with having dropped a dress size, I was bamboozled into buying a pair of J brand jeans that were sooooo expensive I felt sick. They looked great, were a size I have only dreamt of getting my arse into, and so somehow I agreed to this insanity. Came home, modelled said jeans for Husband who replied 'yeah, they are jeans, and?' Yes, they are going back. For in swapping them I will be able to buy an entire wardrobe of clothes for this winter. In my head you have to be mental to pay over £200 for jeans. They are JUST JEANS as Husband rightly said.

One thing that did excite me on my shop was the purchase of a Barbour International coat. Whatever that title means - but it sounds good doesn't it? Strapped up in it - for it does take a good five mins to do up and belt in around the waist and neck - I feel invincible. I probably look like suburban mother who needs to get out more, but in my head it has a biker feel - it is the closest to a bike I will ever get. I hate shopping usually - am a complete impulse buyer - so when I walked past the Barbour concession - I tried it on and when 3 women browsing nearby told me to get it (and not just the over-keen assistant desperate for commission) I decided it was a must. Winter - I see you and laugh in your frosty face. I am ready for you. BRING IT ON.

As I was leaving the store, desperate to use up all vouchers I stopped in the products area - where women pounce on you like hungry tigers who haven't seen flesh in months. I headed over to the REN counter as when I have had a facial (in about the 5 whole times in my life I have had one) that has a chemical fizzy peel thing in it, I end up with glowing newborn skin afterwards. So, I invested in this product - Ren Resurfacing AHA concentrate. Sounds like a hell of a potion doesn't it? Well, I'm not going to get all Gwyneth on yo' ass, and start telling you what you should afford that is merely 9 million pounds, but I have to say it is incredible, and is only £30. Lasts for ages apparently. It has this little pipette thing that feels very technical and chemical and terribly scientific, (so therefore MUST be good) and you put on a few drops before bed. You sleep and voila! A-MA-ZING skin. Newborn. I have two little dry patches and they are disappearing when they normally stubbornly hang around until spring. You use it for 7 nights and you are 21 again. I am sure this is true as my skin is all a-glow. It is the little things isn't it?

Halloween party time is nearly here - hurrah! I am reciped up - lets hope the Oreo spiders turn out ok - they may look like lumps of brown stuff with legs, but here's hoping. I have webbed out the dining room - plus garlands, streamers, candles, glittery spiders etc and Husband bought me a fabulous cookie tree of Halloween things - bats, ghosts, webs etc. I LOVE IT. I may just have to post a picture of said tree. When the little kids at the party try and get their hands on it - they will be in for a ghostly shock from me. Hands off rugrats!

So, things are still on the up. My best friend has been allowed to take a drug called Tyrabsi which she starts in November - and she will have an 81% chance of never having another MS attack. Fingers crossed. She is slowly starting to walk again - very very slowly, with crutches, but she is being strong. I took her to the movies last night to see 'The Help' - really great by the way (wonderful book, but brilliantly cast film - the book is better (natch) but film is still worth a watch. She really enjoyed getting out so I feel this could bcome a weekly date. Anyway, she spoke to a lady who had MS and lost her job because of it (back in the 80s) and she told my friend - 'Never ask why me? Never wallow. Don't look back at the wasted time being ill, only look forward and you will get better.' I love this idea. We can't change the past but tomorrow is a whole new day.

Here's looking forward. x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


We take so much for granted. Bitter when we run for the bus and miss it, never stopping to think that 'hell, at least I can run for the sodding bus!' The little things get us down. Only when something really awful happens do we stop and gain a bit of perspective. Life isn't so bad after all.

My best friend has MS. She was diagnosed with it almost 2 years ago - after her first 'episode' (as they call it) when her foot went numb. Scans revealed lesions on the brain. She recovered, she got on with her life. Then in the summer she fell while on holiday and hurt her shoulder. She was in excruciating pain - on tonnes of painkillers and then she began to feel numb - all the way down, below her chest. It kept going and after a couple of weeks she could barely walk - she hobbled like an old woman. She went through 3 doctors, two physios and one hospital trip until she was finally referred by her GP for MRI scans. I took her to hospital and we sat for 5 long hours waiting to seen by a consultant who finally agreed an MRI scan was needed. It showed inflammation to her brain and spine. She was in hospital for a week being pumped full of steroids. I held her hand when she had to endue a lumber puncture in her spine. All she was worried about was the fact she was wearing big pink pants. I told her thank god she was wearing pants - and talked through every episode of 'The Killing' while student doctors debated how to stick a needle in her spine. I brought her cup cakes and flowers and tried to be chipper, then would go home and worry.

Eventually, when she was well enough to make the journey she went to Scotland to stay with her parents, who drove her all the way there. Last week she came back and they brought her to see me. I was shocked. She was even worse than when I had taken her to hospital, back at the end of August. She couldn't walk at all without crutches, she couldn't stand to hug me, she can't get up stairs without help. We had tea and cookies, but she had to leave as she was in so much pain. When she left I sat on my sofa reeling, wondering how on earth she had gone backwards. Turns out steroids only temporarily help. She was back to square one.

She is seeing her consultant on Friday - and has started thrice weekly physio. It seems she can go one of two ways - she can take steroids which will prevent another MS episode (there is no MS cure) and do physio, acupuncture and the like to get her mobility back. It will take months. She won't be back at work this year. Or she can try a drug that has not been trialled over here but has been used in the States - LDN. My Aunt knows a woman whose niece takes it and she has gone from wheelchair to training to be personal fitness coach. Thing is, this doesn't prevent attacks, it just helps solve one. She has no idea what to do and is trying to do as much research as she can. A nurse told her that LDN is just a placebo - that it doesn't actually work, but yet my friend has read tonnes of cases online where it has helped folk.

She is so strong it is amazing. I really am in awe of her. I pop round with the kids as they create havoc and she hugs them, pulls them to her lap and shares a joke. Occasionally her eyes water, when I say that her parents are doing a brilliant job of taking care of her and she replies 'it should be the other way around though.' I hold her hand and tell her it will all get better - that she will walk again. That there are options. Then I go home and sit in a quiet rage that this happened to her and try not to cry because that would be so weak, when she is so brave. She is my oldest friend, godmother to my kids, my bridesmaid, the girl I travelled the world with. I have known her since we were 9. In a job she once started, she had to write a biography - and I wrote it for her. She is like a sister to me. Why has this happened to her? She's had a shitty time already with a divorce and men - she needs luck and joy and she needs to bloody well be able to walk. I feel so useless. I don't know much about MS - only what I read on line. I don't know anyone who has it.

I pray for her - and honestly, I am not religious. I just want her to get well. She is probably the nicest person I know. She is kind, thoughtful - always helping others, always thinking of people. She has a great heart. She has more courage in her little finger than I have in my entire body. It saddens me that life can be so cruel - that things we take for granted can just disappear. Every day now when I get up and deal with the kids I think how lucky I am to be able to carry my daughter down the stairs, to chase my son around the house. I'm off now to look up LDN and do some research of my own. As silly as this sounds - but faithful readers, would you do something for me? Will you include my friend in your prayers?

She will walk again. Hopefully to the pub with me. When we can celebrate her health and this horrible horrible time will be a thing of the past.

Halloween is coming and the geese are getting fat!

So I'm throwing a party for Sproglet for Halloween. Ok that is a big fat lie. I am throwing a Halloween party because I love Halloween and am pretending that it is for the kids, when in reality, it is all for me.

Husband isn't exactly jazzed on my crazy decoration shopping - he asks 'are these glittery spiders an essential purchase?' And I reply 'yes, of course.' I have seriously gone to town - I have pumpkin and bat garlands, bunting with ghosts, scary tinsel, pumpkin fairy lights, a skull cupcake stand and the said glittery spiders. That is even before I get going on the scary food and carved out pumpkin lanterns... Halloween is my favourite holiday. I put that down to growing up in Ireland where we never celebrated Bonfire night - as far as the Irish were concerned Guy Fawkes was a hero in blowing up the Brits in the olden days - and as we were knee deep in the Troubles you weren't allowed fireworks in case folk thought that a bomb was in fact going off. So we went big with Halloween: trick or treating (for a good few weeks before the event), carving pumpkins or turnips, and embracing the finger burning nightmare - 'indoor fireworks'. In reality these were a burning pyramid, a weird snake that bubbled up from embers and a strange blue dot not unlike a pill, that would flicker intermittently and smoke the entire house out. Guaranteed trip to A&E with every set.

The Indian summer has left a wonderful kaleidoscope of colours in the trees and an amazingly satisfying crunch when jumping in the fallen leaves. Bonfire smoke curls through the air and evenings become cooler - blanket reaching times. I cannot wait to head out trick or treating. They go to town in my neighbourhood - those who want to play along stick a pumpkin in their window as a sign. I've got a fabulous wreath for the door, so they know we are IN!

Life is pretty damn good at the mo. I've decided not to go back to work this year - which gives me more time to concentrate on important things like Halloween decorations and how to make witches fingers... Sproglette is almost one. Where did that year go? She will be dressed in something suitably spooky and ridiculous this Halloween although her trick or treating days are a few years off. Sproglet has a bat costume and is beyond excited. Almost, but not quite, as excited as me.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Last night when I was lying in bed, reading Red magazine, something caught my eye. A small column, but a really significant one. A woman wrote it called Helen Salberg and she told of how she suffered a stillbirth three years ago - losing her daughter Grace, who she never really met, due to being horrifically ill and asleep for 3 days after her emergency C section. I can imagine nothing more horrendous in life than having a stillborn child after going through pregnancy. What I cannot imagine is how someone begins to come to terms with such a devastating loss, or how life ever feels 'normal' again.

I know several women who have sadly gone through this experience and I have always struggled with what to say to them - what words are good enough? Once you are pregnant your whole body changes - from your glossy hair to your swollen toes and your head gets to grips with what is happening and what will happen. There are tonnes of books to read, websites to pour over, friends to swap stories with - even strangers smile at your bump in the street. You pick out names, plan the nursery, imagine yourself out with the stroller, stroke your belly, feel the life kicking inside you. Your future is planned - the weeks counted off. The biggest moment of your life is about to happen. No matter the heartburn or the breast pain, or the sore limbs, swollen feet, aching joints, sickness and nausea, it is all worth it at the end.

But to go through all that and then - an empty cot... What is meant to be a time of joy suddenly being a time of unmeasurable grief. While all around the world carries on its merry way and seemingly every other celeb announces their 'great news' that they are expecting. It is so terribly unfair and unjust and sad.

Helen did something incredible - at a support group she went to, she found that lots of women noticed changes in their baby's movements before losing them. So she designed wristbands, which have babies footprints on them with the idea that when a pregnant woman feels her baby kick she turns it over - so it acts like a warning signal. A fundraising event she held on what would have been Grace's second birthday provided the funds to start production of these bands. Her local hospital is trialling them with 300 women and the feedback so far has been amazing. She hopes to go national. Helen strikes me as an amazingly brave woman - to try and find positivity through such heartache. To want to help so that others will never suffer what she has. Women like Helen render me speechless. I am simply in awe.

I've read several articles recently where women lost babies after their due dates had passed - one woman wrote an incredibly moving piece about how she always thought she was 2 weeks ahead of the hospital's due date that she was given. She is convinced that if her son had been born earlier that the tragedy would have never happened. There has been a call for the government to fund more regular scans during a pregnancy - (at the moment in the Uk you get 2 in the whole 9 months - at 12/13 and 21 weeks which seems ridiculous when a pregnancy lasts 40 weeks). Hoping for the Tory government to do anything positive seems futile (when we have to fight tooth and nail to stop them privatising the NHS with their planned reforms) so why not check out ?

This tragedy happens in over 4000 births a year - which is 11 a day. If a wristband helps in any small way, then that is brilliant and a wonderful legacy for Grace. I wanted to write about this so we can help Helen to help others. I have never gone through this so I can't pretend to have any idea of how soul destroying and life changing this heartache would be. But as a mother, it touches me. So if you can donate, please do. Thank you.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Update to last post

I swear my heart was beating pretty darn fast as I watched the verdict on the Meredith Kercher case. It was so bizarre as SKY tv got the verdict wrong and started to flash up 'Knox loses appeal' across the screen, while Knox remained emotionless. For one moment I thought 'Christ she is taking this all really well' and then she began to sob, with what looked like relief, and the screen changed and suddenly all we heard was 'she has won her appeal, she is free to go!'

I watched her sobbing as she left court and it would have been a cruel person who did not feel for her - so tiny amongst the whirl of police, the snapping paps, the booing crowd. But my real sympathies lay with the Kercher family. Her Mother looked completely stunned. She sat, motionless, barely blinking, as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Poor Meredith, lost in all the palaver.

So Knox got to go home. She was whisked to the prison where apparently the inmates gave her a huge cheer. Then to meet her family - what a reunion that would have be - and to Rome, to begin the first leg of her long journey back to Seattle. How can one begin to process four years inside prison? The life that you have one day and the freedom you have the next? The fame, the doubters, the hungry baying press, Donald Trump on the phone - that alone would fry anyone's head.

And what for the Kerchers? All the verdict did for them was bring them back to square one. Yes, Guede undoubtedly played a role in their beloved daughter/sister's death. But the stab wounds - could only have been caused by more than one one person. Guede did tell a fellow inmate that he had someone else with him on the night of the murder. Is there another killer at large? I hope Guede rots in jail. Only he knows what happened that night. If Knox is truly innocent, he let her and Sollecito suffer for four long years. He has no heart, no humanity. To murder a young girl so brutally, without regard for life - he is an animal.

I'm not one for prayer, but I genuinely pray that the truth will prevail. That justice will be done. That Meredith and her family may at last be at peace.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Knox - guilty or innocent?

For the past few days I have been devouring all the articles and essays I could find online about the Amanda Knox case. Or rather, as it seems to have been forgotten in the midst of this media frenzy, the Meredith Kercher case.

It is truly fascinating. Everywhere I turn there is conflicting information - the pro Knox supporters (Knoxophiles) tarnishing the prosecution's case with disputes, such as Knox having bought bleach the morning after the killing. They say it took the shop owner a year to come forward and he only did so after receiving a low level of fame through his chats with a reporter. That a shop assistant also working the same day never saw her - because they assert - Knox was never there in the first place. This is merely one small detail amongst many that the defense insist did not happen. The general view in the pro Knox camp is that prosecutor Giuliano Mignini made up the sex crazed orgy story and fitted Knox and her boyfriend into the story - a tale that he created to appease the Italian authorities who wanted a quick resolution to a case that had garnered worldwide interest. They say his tale is fabricated and flawed.

Upon first glance it would appear that it was in fact a lone wolf attack - Rudy Guede, a drifter and petty thief has already been convicted of the murder and sentenced in a 'fast track' trial. His DNA was found on, inside, and all around Meredith - and his bloody hand print was left on her pillow. Why on earth would Knox, seemingly a bright student with no previous record, be involved in a crazed sex game with a man she had only fleetingly met, and her new boyfriend? It isn't exactly the stuff of early dating rituals.

However, I just can't get past the fact she blamed an entirely innocent man, due to a 'vision' she had that he was killing poor Meredith. Patrick Lumumba is currently suing Knox as it was proved he had a cast iron alibi. Why would you blame an innocent man? Why change your story so many times? Why did her boyfriend and co - accused Raffaele Sollecito explain Meredith's DNA arriving on a knife he owned by way of her having dinner at his place - he cut her accidentally when cooking - when she had never been to his home? Then there is the whole break-in issue - was it staged? It was a damp night and yet there were no footprints or scuffs on the wall outside the window that was broken - no signs that someone climbed in. Guede's DNA was not found in the room with the broken window - proving that is not how he entered. Again, this is one mere detail that could potentially point at their guilt - why stage a break-in? When nothing was tacken from any other room than Meredith's? There is debate over when Sollecito called the police, the prosecution arguing he only did so when postal police arrived at the scene, checking out mobile phones that had been found in a nearby garden.

Then there is the DNA - which appears to be inadequate in proof that Knox and Sollecito were in fact there. Guede left prints all the way out the front door - however, the DNA found showing Knox's blood mixed with Meredith's could in fact just be DNA shared from living together. The DNA issues are the reason the appeal has been lodged in the first place. If the two lovers had killed Meredith, why was the room free of their DNA? Had they cleaned it away, if indeed Know bought the bleach after all?

It is mind boggling how conflicting each side is. At the heart of it is potentially two innocent young people who could spend the rest of their lives in jail if today's appeal is quashed and the prosecution wins a longer sentance for them both. But, there are so many odd things to think about - not least Knox's behaviour after finding Meredith dead in her room - that perhaps there is no smoke without fire... Today we will find out the appeal verdict, but will we ever really know what happened to that beautiful, happy kind girl with so much to live for, so much hope for her Italian adventure?

In all the foggy maze, it is Meredith that we should think of and not some trial by media. However, it would be a lie if I said I wasn't on tenterhooks awaiting the verdict. I cannot explain why this case has fascinated me so. The horror in such a beautiful place, the tragedy of it all, the fact it seems unending. I have no idea what the outcome today will be. I hope though that Meredith's family find some peace and finallity in it, as they have suffered enough.

Did she do it? What do you think?