Saturday, 29 September 2012

Re-evaluating how we live

Some days I read the news and it rolls over me. I'm apathetic to the politics and the crime and the sensationalism. Then one story hits me and that is it - I simply cannot get it out of my head. All day I have had a heavy heart after reading about an Irish girl in Australia with a beautiful smile and and porcelain skin.

She was cruelly raped and murdered last week in Melbourne, not ten minutes walk from her home. Most chillingly of all we have all seen the moment she crossed with the man charged with her murder - as it was captured on CCTV about 10 minutes after she left a bar where she had been drinking with friends. It is around 1:40am in the morning - on a street in Melbourne where taxis speed past and folk head home. There she is, in her pretty grey heeled boots, holding her phone in her hand - stopping to speak to a man wearing a blue hoodie. She stands back from him - from what we can see she engages with him, but is never close. She hangs back and lets him walk on, as she pauses and fiddles with her phone. Bet she thought he was some weirdo and just waited until he was far enough away to continue her walk home.

Except she never made it home. I have watched that footage several times and I want to grab her into that shop and hide her amongst those glitzy dresses - keep her safe from the harm that awaited her - as I am sure we all do.

How many times have you zig zagged home, tottering on heels that you'd regret wearing within half an hour of being out? Have you ever flagged an unlicensed mini cab in the street - a bit tired, a bit tipsy - just needing to get home? I have. Several times I just stuck out my thumb and waited for a car to slow. Could have been anyone in it - taking me anywhere. Have you ever stopped to talk to a stranger on your way home, who needed directions? Yep, me too. Or have you ever been turfed out of a cab at 2 am because you only had 13.75 and the cab home would have cost another 70p or so? I have. Have you ever called your Mum or whoever as you walked home in the small hours, convinced that that somehow made you safer - the phone that in reality attracts muggers and the like? Have you ever ran home in the dark, striding in the middle of the street, your heart racing - determined to get home and cursing yourself for being able to get a cab - the wait was simply too long?

We have all been there. When I lived in Melbourne I celebrated my 23rd birthday and drank more vodka than I could ever need. I was broken hearted and friends had clubbed together to buy me a flaming lamborgine drink and some other nasty concoctions. that night someone I knew - but not that well - gave me a lift home. I remember I didn't want them to see where I lived so I got out of the car at the end of an alley by my house and then ran down the cobbled stones in platforms and toppled over. My flatmate opened the door to find me with bleeding knees. She warned me to stop wearing platforms or drinking vodka. I never remembered who brought me home. I asked everyone I knew but it wasn't any of them. To this day it is a mystery. I also accepted a lift from a policeman outside the nightclub I worked in (in Melbourne) and only half way through the drive did I realise he was drunk. He let me drive as I felt safer doing so - even though it was illegal. He asked to use the bathroom in our house and something - a sixth sense - made me tell him to wee in our front garden and I raced inside to the safety of my flatmates.

It is so so upsetting to read about Jill Meagher and her untimely death. She is just a young happy married girl - had a few drinks with friends after work and then was walking home - a walk she must have done many times before. It is so wrong that she'll never take those steps again.

It reminds me how lucky I am to have always got home in one piece. It saddens me that women have to worry for their safety and plan so much in advance, just because they are women. We should be able to go anywhere and do anything at any time of day or night - and not be victims - beacuse we are NOT victims, but we are the weaker sex, no matter what we think we are capable of. So, sorry to sound preachy - but I just need to urge all my lovely readers:
  • - never walk alone late at night - always get a cab or a male friend to walk you home. 
  • - Never get in an unlicensed cab - always ring the cab company and get car details and reg before you get into a car - and check them before you get in.
  • - Don't let anyone overhear your conversation when you're booking your cab. You especially don't want someone to overhear your name or address. Someone might use that information to pretend to be the cab you called for.
  • - Don't accept food or drink from your cab driver.  It may be drugged or contaminated.
  • -  Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave the house.
  • - Always sit in the back of the cab and keep your phone in your hand.
  • - Do not sleep in the taxi. If you have to, use your phone to call someone so you can keep yourself awake.
  • - Do not reveal personal information to the cab driver.
  • - Let the driver overhear you call someone to tell them you're in a cab and where you're headed and what time you expect to arrive.
  • London cabbies have their license badge on a key fob thing usually round their necks and the same number is also in the back seat.
  • Trust your instincts - if it feels weird - pay and get out asap. Be aware!
  • Always have your keys in your hand and I usually ask cabbies to wait until I am safely in my front door.
In Melbourne there is quite rightly an outpouring of anger. Women plan to march at night down the street where Jill was last seen, to RECLAIM THE NIGHT.  I think it is a fitting tribute to a woman with great shoes and an even greater smile. A woman who was just getting on with her life - a woman just like us.

Jill, rest in peace.

To all of you, be safe.


Friday, 28 September 2012

What say you???

Ok People, I have news.

No, I'm not up the duff.

A media company contacted me and asked if I'd like to talk about some of products for clients of theirs, on my blog. They'd pay me of course to do so - but trust me, I won't be swanning off to a desert island on it just yet...

I made a rule for myself though. No one wants to read a blog that just endlessly tries to sell stuff - that is never what I wanted my blog to be about or for. So I will only write about things that have a personal resonance with me: things I wish I'd known about when I was going through the hell of breast feeding, or a blow up cow my daughter is obsessed with - that kind of thing. I will mention that the post is sponsored as such - so I won't be tricking y'all along some garden path.

These folk contacted me last week - but I never check my CM email that often - so I only saw it on Wednesday. I would love to blog/write in some way in order to earn a living - I have some plans along those lines - and this is a small step in that direction. I hope you guys will support that and not think I'm selling out/selling my soul/turning into an advert soapbox.

Because you know, I care about what you all think. Loyalty and all that. So if it's ok with you guys, then I'll do it. What say you?


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Show for it...

Last night a friend came over for dinner and we chewed the fat as I rustled up some Thai food and helped Sproglet with his Samuel Pepys homework. He now could be my Mastermind subject - old Peeps (as it is pronounced). He was one of 11. 11 kids! My mind boggles. 6 of them died in the plague. Which was spread my fleas on rats - not dogs and cats as was thought ... and... Anyway, I digress, as usual.

We got onto the subject of various folks turning 40 and she mentioned someone who turned 40 last year and had a bit of a meltdown - thinking '40 and what do I have to show for it?' This person she was referring to lives a full and exciting life, albeit a single one - one without kids, or a mortgage or all that grown up stuff. It sounds like a pretty fun life to me. Mate that was round for dinner prickled a tad as she said this - it seemed to resonate with her. I remember a similar conversation we had recently had when she has asked the same question about herself.

So what SHOULD we have to 'show' for being 40? An odd idea isn't it? That by a certain number in our lives we should have achieved something, done whatever and be able to show it - like Sproglet in his show 'n' tell in class. It got me all a thinkin'. It isn't the first time someone has said the like to me... As if there is this secret checklist we all need to have done before we knock on the door of 40. Married - tick. House - tick. Giant mortgage - tick. Kids - tick. Bigger car - on the to do list etc. It made me feel kind of sad. I don't measure my life in what I have to show. I aint all about the show.

But maybe that's what everyone is thinking - that we should be married by now, should have kids, should be in a wildly successful job, should be getting that extension etc etc and everyone who hasn't done these things has nothing to show.

How utterly depressing a mindset. What about all the great adventures you have had? The hearts you broke? The towns you painted the red? The stories you can recall and the better ones you can't? The tables you danced on? The meals you ate? The seas you swam in? The kisses you'll never forget? The friends you made? The ones you lost? The moments - the great moments that made up the story of you - don't those all mean something? Doesn't all your memories make you? Who gives a fuck about the things that supposedly show who you are? They are not you... are they? I'm thinking Fight Club here... Are you the car you drive and the Ikea goods you have bought? Are we that shallow? Is that all that matters at the end of the day - that by 40 we say we have bought those things - because we have money and that is what is successful? That is the show???


Maybe because I never expected the Husband or the kids - maybe because I always followed my heart in all that I do - I just never thought about it. I just had this sense that things work out most of time - and if they don't - hell it aint the end.

What I have to show for 40 - well yes, my kids - but that is just luck. Many folk I know wanted kids and for one reason or a not it didn't happen - but is that a reason to have nothing to show? I can't show how great it is to have friends at almost 40 that I have known since I was 6. I can't show how great it was to be inspired by all the movies that I've seen - the books I have read, the countries I visited, the people I have known, the meals I have eaten, the jokes I have shared. I can't draw a diagram of the mass of stories I have acquired from my several careers, my heartbreaks, my bad dates, my once active social life and my volunteering. I can't show that. I just am so pleased I had it.

The older we get - what matters most? Time and how we spend it. Love and who we give it to and all those other Hallmark card cliches. Earning a hangover and wearing it like a badge of honour. Still getting excited by life - and all it throws at us.

I remember once watching a moving documentary about a single mum on benefits who was uber poor - she gave her kids a cupcake to share on xmas day. She wasn't ashamed. She said that it was the best she could do. That folk may judge that she chose to have these kids with no father around and no job etc - but she wanted to try and it was HER life and she was going to do her best. I was so in awe of her - because it was HER life and she owned it. She didn't feel she had to be anything other than what she was. It completely humbled me.

So as I knock on the door of 40 - still confused about career paths - wishing I had a bigger garden and could fix our dented car and all those cliches (lose half a stone - oh yes!) the one thing I don't feel is that I have to show something for this age. It is a number that doesn't define the 17 year old that mentally I still I am. It will never show all the lives I have lived and the joy that I have had. But I know it - and frankly, that is all that matters.

Monday, 24 September 2012



I know, I know. Am I blogger or what?? I just haven't had a moment. A single moment I swear.

AND my mother in law was here so I should have had like a zillion moments to blog, to bitch, to banter to blather and all other verbs beginning with B that I can't think of.

But my God work was just PUNISHING. Yes in caps. That punishing I swear. And I got ill - I had like a ulcerated stomach (sore) and then ulcers in the mouth, and cold and I just felt shattered. Now I would rather have another C section than have those 2 whopping mouth sores again I tell you. One was like a gaping hole in the side of my tongue and meant I sounded like Chrith Eubank when I spoke. It was all Ths and pluths and no 'S' s. It was bad. Plus I couldn't eat. I was on yogurt for like 3 days. Husband made Mexican food and I cried and ate yogurt because I couldn't chew. I was in agony.

I bought this igloo stuff that seals over your ulcer and is amazing - but being on the side of my tongue it just wore off and then I was spitting out globules of this igloo stuff and every time I moved my tongue (which is involved in even drinking water or saying 'hello') it grazed across my teeth that felt like razors attacking my mouth. It was HELL.

So small a thing and so. much. pain.

I felt spent. Work was relentless and I had no catch up reading time, or work from home days when I can lie in bed, laptop on my tummy, pillows to the eyeballs. Sproglet went back to school, Sproglette started nursery, Husband started new job. There was no time to pee let alone write. Bake off started again on TV - how brilliant is that? And I tried to catch up on all my missed Sopranos. I came off facebook to save time (and plus I started to dislike folk I even like - with all that posturing and showing off and wow my life is so amazing and look at my house/kids/car/holiday/name drop/exciting social calendar - I mean my god IF YOUR LIFE WAS AS EXCITING AS YOU FUCKING MADE OUT YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TIME TO GO ON FUCKING FACEBOOK!!!!). But all I wanted to do was sleep. Or try and go for a run and then get sorted for the next day and read scripts and try and remember birthdays (which I didn't) and do washes and all that blah.

But I am determined to get back on the blogging trail again - there is so much to tell: I am love - totally smitten - yes, with a new show called 'The Audience' - where 50 people - yep, 50 strangers follow you around for a week and solve your dilemma... A-maz-ing. I want them all to come and solve my work dilemma - but that is a whole other blog post.

Bake off - is there a better show ever??? I love Brendan so much - for all his perfect pastry and non soggy bottoms and how much he tries to hold back tears when he wins baker of the week. For my yank followers it is a show called 'The Great British Bake off' and in a twee marquee, in the grounds of a British stately manor, folk bake stuff and compete to win. Sounds inane and dull but in fact is nail bitingly gripping, heart stoppingly pretty and the ultimate in food porn. You know my love of all things cake? I practically wept in waitrose this week when they said they didn't have any 'Queen of puddings' in. It was last weeks challenge you see. Brendan - a queen of puddings if ever there was one - did it magnificently. It is custard, jam and meringue. Genius. What is not to love? And why haven't I stuffed this down my gullet before??

Plus I have new plans, new ambitions all in time for my favourite season - Autumn. Hurrah - a Halloween party for me, I mean my son is planned; My 8th wedding anniversary( that neither of us will remember on the actual day) is coming up and Husband and I are having date day on Fri - when we both bunk off work (taken leave really) and are heading into London to eat at our favourite ever Thai restaurant and then see a movie at Soho curzon cinema. Sans kids!!! Bliss. Cannot wait!

And he has just downloaded Cabin in the Woods so I must away and watch. You know me, I love a slasher horror.

So I am back. Blogging every other day for sure. How you all been?? Did I miss anything - I probably have like one reader left.... So to you humble and loyal friend - hello. I am writing again into the wilderness. Feels good to be back. More to follow....

Saturday, 1 September 2012

It's 3am in the morning...

It is 3:30 in the morning. The world outside is fast asleep. The street lamps have long gone out - we are surrounded in pitch black darkness, as if we lived smack in the heart of the country. (A council money saving exercise apparently. Gawd help any woman walking home alone in this I say...) Husband is snoring... The rest of the house is mercifully still. Where am I?

Filled with anxiety, sipping Vaerian tea, tying myself in knots. Over what? Let's see - where to begin? Over the fact I joked that day at work about fancying young guys - my next door neighbour who is 22...  spilling forth over lunch how my mental 'fancying' clock must have got stuck when I was 17 and I am forever beholden to my teen crush years - except now I am knocking on the door of 40. Folk laughed - partly through humour but mainly fear 'Is she really that mad?'

I'm also concerned that I shouted about how a group of writers were so good to work with - that had I got them as my week's episodes, I would have 'tossed myself off' with joy. Not that I meant to say that - it was meant to be 'wet dream of a team' or something of that ilk. But at 3am, in the dark, all I could think was how unprofessional I sounded, how weird I must come across.... Like some creepy cougar with too much time on her hands...

So I started there. Then I worried about organsing said 40th, and work and where I want to be versus where I am. And lists of things that need done involving lightbulbs and broken loo seats etc. And then exercise - and will I ever get back to the weight of last December, and things I shoulda woulda coulda done. I was virtually pacing the living room floor - until I took a deep breath and told myself, or my head rather, to SHUT THE FUCK UP.

 So I sipped the strong tea, lay back down beside a still snoring Husband around 5am and had ravaged dreams about hotels dressed as the Old Curiosity Shop; gifts showering down on me that I was then told I had to pay for; finding a flat to rent in a high rise building; trying to escape talking candlesticks and visiting a party filled with cakes that were wax.... WTF??? I think Hugh Jackman featured too but I can't quite remember.

Today I felt frazzled. Like I'd stuck my finger in an electric socket and was in recovery mode. But there was too much to do - meetings and kids and house stuff and a cocktail party (that I should be showering for now - but I am writing this).

Are you like me? Do you ever wake up in the dead of night and wind yourself into a frenzy - until the idea of sleep is so far out the window you may as well get ready for work even though it is 5 hours away?? Why? What makes some slumber and others pace? I think I need a good dose of acupuncture - if only I had the time and money. I need some yoga. Some breathing space. At the minute there simply aren't enough hours in the day for all I need to achieve - all I want to achieve.  I want to spend time with my kids - not incidental, but quality time. I want to cook and make sure we have clean sheets and run a house. I want to remember birthdays. I want time to go for a run. I want enough sleep. I want time to write. I want time to read newspapers and catch up on box sets that are gathering dust. I want time to chat to old friends that I have neglected. I want more sleep. I want to go for long walks. I want to have dates with Husband. I want to do my full time job. I want to paint my toes and get a bikini wax. I want 68 hours in a day.

If this happens to you, and you have any sleeping /anti anxiety tips to pass on that don't involve prescription drugs - please holler. Until then it's me, the ticking clock and valerian tea.