Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2014 - Bring. It. On.

And so farewell to 2013 - a better year than 2012 by a country mile.

Every year I say I have high hopes for the new one - when in reality, I have no idea how it will pan out. This blind faith usually lasts as long as the resolutions, so this year - 2014 - I'm not making any claims - in fact, as I prepare to leave my job - again - I have no idea what will happen, or where the winds of work will take me. I may be slightly mad, but hey... 

I'm afraid, I'm excited. A little under-confident in some areas, but bursting with belief in others. But no point worrying - things usually work out in the end. So, were the best bits of 2013? 

This much I know is true:

- Turning 40 was fabulous. Age is just a freakin' number and without doubt, my party was a big highlight of my year.  Looking around at all the ejits gathered as I made my speech, I felt like the richest girl in the world. Friends I had known since I was 6. New buddies from work/my area. TV mates gathered along the way. All there, all toasting my years. Afterwards, a friend said that I could never ever complain again, having such a wealth of mates. In dark moments I think back on this, and remember how lucky I am. Even if they all do encourage me to drink too much...

- My best friend got all old school buddies/flatmates and their partners together to buy me a beautiful painting. I love it with all my heart - because it is such a thoughtful gift and every day it makes me smile. The snail:

- Watching my son enthralled by a Mandela documentary, and then asking to choose him as the subject of his school speech made me brim with pride. His little heart is so pure and he grapples with trying to comprehend what it all meant, what it all means. Later a parent told me that at some school council meeting on 'good behaviour' he announced that we should all try and have 'integrity like Mandela.' I am just grateful that his hero is no longer Homer Simpson (as great as the yellow one may be) - as it is a worry when your kid knows the Kwicky Mart and the name of Burns' assistant, but has no idea where Australia is on a map...

- For me the best moments are the little ones - the huge belly laughs that I have daily in my 'golden time' with my pod mates at work... The joy at catching a REALLY good movie - and being blown away by it. Husband and I saw World War Z in the summer - and although far from perfect, I loved it. Him, me, Brad and popcorn. Nothing beats it. Or hanging with my kids and them deciding on names for us all: Sproglet is Super Infinity, I am Lady Diamond, Sproglette - Poopaloopoo, of course.

- The buddies that came and Husband fed; the BBQ on the bank hol at T & M's, the catch ups with my girlfriends, the bottles of red with friends that always turn into two or 3, the weekend staycation at the McC's in the summer, the martini Fridays with my local mates, my cousin's amazing wedding - these are the moments that made my year.

- Walking by the sea with my Mum... on a warm summers evening. There is nothing as wonderful as staring at the ocean.

- My Halloween bash. An annual highlight. Less martinis, more treating next year.
Step away from the glass...

- Christmas and it's comedy moustaches...

 May 2014 bring me as much joy. To you all too. Thanks for reading, for still clicking by. You clearly have too much time on your hands!

Happy Noo Year! x

Sunday, 29 December 2013


There are occasionally moments of such clarity in your life, it is like you have shoved on a wonderful new pair of glasses - and everything that was blurred, or grey, comes crashing into blinding focus. You think, how could I have missed this before? How did I not see? The unlucky find such mystical specs when the moment has passed and things that were said cannot be unsaid, things done cannot be undone.

Husband and I had an epic row on Boxing Day - and in it, he threatened to leave me.

In that moment, I loved him with such certainty and such vigour that it was as if I had donned such glasses. He wasn't serious - thank god. Just angry, and frustrated and tired. Maybe tired of me. I tend to bring that feeling out in most people.

Christmas is one big pot of enormous expectation just waiting to blow. Frayed nerves and even more frayed tempers all lead to dark roads filled with resentment. Water it all with too much alcohol and not enough alone time and voila! Pot boils. Emotions spill out.

I looked at him and saw something different. Every day I see his face, a blur as he rushes to work, stares at his phone, throws his head on the pillow. I see him and yet I don't really take him in. I forget to appreciate all he does for me. How he puts me above all in his life. We forget don't we, to appreciate what we take for granted.. What we expect to be there every day. We never imagine a time when it/he/she won't be...

Until they aren't.

I shouldn't be writing this as Husband has made me swear not to discuss him on my blog. It is my life to splurge he admits, but not his. Because he is everything I am not. I am wildly social, desperate to talk (endlessly) to everyone, he is quiet, prefers to be alone. While I hold court, he likes one to ones - always looking out for the awkward person who is alone. I bound around, gathering new people, he prefers a close old few from Uni. I am addicted to facebook, he hates all forms of social media. He is black and white and I am 'the screaming grey liberal.' On holiday, I'll read some claptrap and he'll indulge in some Naomi Klein or Nietzsche, or some light reading on socialism. I can burn toast, he is brilliant cook - spending a day making stock, or sourcing cheese... I am an emotional nightmare, he is calm, rational, always taking a step back - seeing the bigger picture. I stress, he chills. He is the first to leave a party, whereas I am the last. I dance on tables, he left me dancing on our wedding song as he simply 'doesn't EVER dance.' We are day and night, chalk and cheese. Total opposites.

The only thing he matches me on - is our temper.

On a holiday in 2003 with friends in France, my buddy asked me if we were sure we should be together - so combustible was/is our relationship. We are not the couple to make you feel like a gooseberry - we'll banter and bite back until you wonder if we are really meant to be. But another friend spotted him kissing my forehead, when he thought no one was looking. Husband isn't one for grand gestures and attention seeking declarations. He keeps it quiet.

He is my best friend. The one person who loves me throughout everything - no matter how much I have ever tried to push him away, take him for granted, challenge his devotion. He accepts me, for all my faults, for all my insecurities, for all my mistakes. For 12 1/5 years he has done so.

On Boxing Day, I put on the glasses. I saw him again as the boy on my stoop, back in the thick of summer - August 2001. With the eyebrow piercing and the soft brown eyes, the handsome smile, the black black hair. Waiting for me to come home, champagne bottle clutched in hand. I saw all that I loved and needed. I said sorry.

What was done was undone, what was said was forgotten.

I am one of the lucky ones.

Monday, 23 December 2013

It's my Xmas party and I'll cry if I want to, and other festive traditions…

I don't know about you but I've always preferred the run up to the big day rather than the day itself, or the mind numbing, toblerone and bad film filled days that lull endlessly between xmas and new year… The few weeks prior to xmas are filled with mince pies, Starbucks red cups, twinkly lights, office gatherings, frantic online shopping and the insane need to see everyone you know before the end of the year for some inexplicable reason.

It all culminates in the staff party (lethal, hilarious and one where I always promise to be sober and then end up drinking quadruple vodkas and dragging some poor defenceless boy onto the dance floor by his tie, because you see in that moment, I am 10 foot tall, bullet proof with moves like Jagger), followed by a brief period of regret, and then a mad rush around as I try to make sure I have all gifts sorted and enough milk in the fridge to stock a dairy.

Yes, I was even the girl who cried on the stairs at the party… an old favourite tradition of mine, but one I haven't pulled out in a while. Lord knows what was so distressing at that particular vodka fuelled moment - but taking a wild stab in the dark, I think I am filled with fear and sadness about leaving my job in about 7 weeks. I've knocked around my work place since 2008 and being someone who is 1. over emotional anyway and 2. not great at change, the whole leaving thing (which I have done before several times) is pretty daunting. It is necessary and I need to be able to juggle less than I'm doing at the moment - but it still isn't easy. Oh to be the person who has all the answers in life… Colleagues were also uber lovely, saying how I'd be missed - which is something you NEVER do to a less than sober person with PMT. Because there is nothing worse than people be especially lovely when you are an emotional drunk anyway. Better they throw some red wine down your dress or flirt with your husband - all much easier to handle.

Last year I inadvertently started a tradition with some buddies at work. Over a chat about Xmas films, one admitted she had never seen 'Trading Places.' Criminal I know. Who the hell hasn't watched Trading Places at Xmas and if that is you - hang your head in shame. It is the BEST. So I bought Lauren the DVD - and then other two colleagues sitting nearby bleated for a bit about where was their gift, so I duly bought them some movies I thought they'd enjoy. Krus got St Elmo's Fire because again, if you haven't seen it - have you got a pulse?? Quite asides from Rob Lowe's famously non ironic 'Let's Rock' line, I'm always gutted that I have never had a Billy/Wendy moment in my life - where he asks for a 'special' leaving gift before he goes… In that era, NO woman would have said no… It is the most 80s of all 80s films and that John Parr song is brilliant - I say this with a completely straight face. I have no shame… Krus has yet to watch it. A YEAR LATER, BUT I AM NOT BITTER. Thea got Door in the Floor, which I love - the first act in the John Irving book, Widow for One Year. Starring Jeff Bridges. Most folk have never heard of it. Watch it. And before you ask, I love it not because I secretly want to get up to what Kim Basinger gets up to…(even though I am known for my crushes on younger men) but because of the deep sadness that is the subtext of every scene.

This year, the DVD choice was simpler - Krus loves Glenn Close and thrillers = Jagged Edge. I may be trapped in the 80s.. Thea got Tootsie, because it is brilliant and such a simple idea and Hoffman is incredible. And did I mention I am trapped in the 80s? Lauren had NEVER seen Jaws, which is unbelievable. Even Sproglette has seen Jaws and she is 3. So Lauren got the anniversary edition and thank god not another 80s film…

They bought me in return such thoughtful gifts - including some gay porn (only joking Thea, I know it is a love story…) and an inappropriate T shirt that has two plump xmas puddings right where my boobs are - but the T shirt is so damn tight it turns me into one giant mono-boob instead… 

It is a strange old beast Xmas - filled with expectation and a need to feel 'chrissmassy.' Whatever that is. I'm off to the money haemorrhaging adventure that is the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland on Xmas Eve to take my son ice skating. The kid hasn't mastered roller skates yet so there is a high chance we'll be spending Xmas in Casualty… If that all doesn't get me festive - nothing will. Sproglette wants a castle and pirates for Xmas as that is what all 3 year old girls want, no? Husband is already working out how he can get pissed on Xmas eve and build the fecking thing… As there would be nothing worse than a disappointed kid on Xmas morning…

So whatever traditions you are engaging in: mulled cider (vile stuff) and eggnog, carols at the church because it is what you do every xmas even though you never set foot in a church otherwise, stockings hung with hope, fizz at breakfast, the 'Xmas day walk' - come rain or shine, the neighbours boxing day gathering where you relive tales of your misspent youth with their kids, the annual meet up of old buddies where you all pretend that your lives are great and thank god you all moved to London unlike the folk who stayed behind but live in houses that have downstairs loos bigger than your London flat, the family row that refuses to die, the old lady at no 63 who smells of cat piss but you always visit and she gives you a Terry's Orange for your trouble, the bin men you never catch, the tedium of boxing day board games, the joy in the gatherings - have a bloody good one. It is Christmas. Don't worry, you won't have to do it again for another a year.

See you on the other side. Big love. CM x

Friday, 13 December 2013

How to survive Christmas in EVERY way

Personally I believe Xmas should be bi-annual. Seriously, you no sooner have put the darn decorations away that you are up in the attic, fighting your way through yards of twinkling lights, slicing your fingers on cracked baubles, and hunting for festive wrapping paper that you are sure you had leftover from last year.

Xmas, well, it's a bit of a ball-ache. All that forced joviality and money spunked on useless tat that will gather dust on folks' shelves or be 're-gifted' by Spring. Still, I quite like it, even if sound all Grinchy.
Because I value you, my fine readers, I thought I'd give you the CM way to survive Xmas - that includes the cooking, the decs, the gifts and even a way to get your festive cheer on that doesn't involve 3 bottles of fizz and a dire novelty flashing hat. If you want a stress free festive season, then folks, read on....


No. 1 Blokes, Ok I know it is 'impossible' to buy for her indoors - but I have some tips. NEVER attempt to buy underwear using your hands as size descriptions. Also, don't be clever - and check out her bra for the size and buy accordingly. Take it from someone whose cups runneth over - that all bras are DIFFERENT. So what might be a D cup in one, she'll need an E in another make. Play safe and buy something for her to sleep in, instead. There is not a woman alive who doesn't get giddy at the sight of a Liberty bag, or a White Company ribbon, or Jo Malone box. Because lads, it is ALL about the wrapping. Think black ribbons on tasteful white boxes and you are there...

No. 2 Products - we love them. Not body shop mind, as we are not 12 and bath balls went out of favour in 1987. My tips? As a product queen - you can NEVER go wrong with Kiehl's body moisturiser. AMAZING. It makes your (I mean HER,) skin feel like a baby's butt. Ditto go for anything by Guinot (fancy french make) or a Ren body scrub or rose bath oil. If in doubt walk into the biggest department store and walk up to the woman behind the counter wearing the LEAST make up but who has good skin. She will know what is what. NEVER buy anything anti-aging - it is an insult no matter if she loves it and uses it daily. You buy it and you won't get laid until next Xmas.

No. 3 Cashmere always works. Jumper, scarf, gloves - you name it. It just is the best.

No. 4 Jewellery is for a brave man to pick. Too glitzy and she becomes Mutton. Not bling enough and why did you bother? One thing we never say no to: diamonds. Just don't get one that looks, smells, sounds like an engagement ring if you do not plan to pop the question - because then you have to say awkwardly, 'it's an eternity ring, for you know, friendship' and you will indeed be single for New Years.

No. 5 Shopping should only be done either on Xmas eve, or on line. Anything else is suicide. Queues galore, stressed out salespeople and blind panic as people stand vacantly hoping for inspiration to hit, at the bottom of the freakin' escalators. It is CARNAGE. Avoid, until Xmas eve after midday, when the sneaky sales have started and everyone else in the world is in the pub. Then you can saunter along and be treated like a king/queen, getting everything wrapped for you and bagging some bargains. Risky tactics, but worth it. Everyone else, sit down, cuppa in hand and go on line - it is the only civilised way to shop.


No. 1 I am a gay man trapped in a woman's body so for me - you can never have too much... However, my pink glittery reindeer are this year staying boxed - whilst I opt for the tasteful white and silver only decorations on a real tree. Fake trees are more eco friendly I know - but for me Xmas is all about the real tree. Only put one up if you can remember to water it and you can face pine needles in your socks for a month. A small price to pay I feel.

No. 2 A wreath goes a long way to looking festive and cheering up a door. I applaud anyone who puts up outdoor twinkly lights - one set ONLY mind. If it snows, nothing looks prettier. Don't go all Clark Griswold on your house... think of your neighbours.

No. 3 If you head home for Xmas - why bother? What looks glittery and fun on Xmas eve, will looked tired and sad on Jan 4th. Spend your money on booze/and or gifts instead.


No. 1 Get on a plane. Seriously - if you can, just escape. No one will judge you, but everyone will envy you. If you want to keep your friends for 2014 DON'T post any Facebook pics and scrub off your fabulous tan by Jan 7th when you return to work.

No. 2 Ok, so you couldn't escape. Well next best thing - go to someone else's house for Xmas day where they LOVE cooking. Or go out to the nearest fashionable gastropub (tis what we have planned) for some slap up fayre. The last thing you want to do is slave over some dried out old bird and then have everyone drown it in gravy before your very eyes, before smothering it in watery cranberry sauce, in order to make it edible. Turkey is ALWAYS dry - what did you expect? Go Goose, go beef or simply go out. Avoid the bird and I reckon you are well on your way to breaking free of Xmas traditions that no one really remembers why they do them in the first place.

No. 3 Start drinking early if you must. By that I mean November (ho ho!). No, by that I mean, as soon as you wake. It makes the day pass quicker. Have one fizz, one water as you don't want to be so pissed you start a row at the table or miss EastEnders. Or both.

No. 4 Always keep a spare bottle of fizz, a box of Lindt chocs (for that neighbour popping in that you didn't expect) and lots of milk and bread. Why when the shops are shut for only one day? I have no idea, but everyone stresses and assumes we will never have bread and milk again. It is just what you do.

No. 5 It MAY seem like an ace idea to start snacking on Toblerone at 9am, but you will vom by midday if you do. Save yourself - think of the cheeseboard that you can attack at 7pm, along with the port before you are forced into a game of charades....

No. 6 If you can get out of the house do, or by Boxing day you will kill each other. A brisk walk, a sneaky trip to the pub, a G & T at the neighbours - however you do it - GET OUT. Because families are not made to be together for long periods of time - all that hope you came with on Xmas eve will have evaporated by Boxing Day and you will start thinking of 'the rope, in the pantry...or a candlestick?'


No. 1 Dear god, where do I begin? It is pointless of me saying 'don't drink' as that is the ONLY guaranteed way to still have job next year, but we all know that the minute you get a whiff of free booze, you'll be all over it like a dog on it's dinner.

No. 2 Eat dinner first - that does NOT mean crisps, dips and some prawn nibbly thing that is masquerading as a decent canape. It will not sustain 6 sambuca shots and 8 vodka tonics!! Eat as much as you can get down your neck. White food especially - bread, carbs, spuds - all GREAT.

No. 3 For those that are attached already: Ladies, wear an amazing lippy that requires upkeep through the party - it will mean you cannot under any circumstances smooch with that hot intern from accounts - no matter how much booze you have quaffed. Gents, eat raw garlic. There you go, flirting will be impossible. For those unattached: do not touch garlic, wear NO lippy and corner said boy/girl by the photocopier and do not let them past until they have adhered to the mistletoe above you. Ok, ok, it aint above you - it is three office floors away, but that isn't the point is it??

No. 4 Get yourself sorted with a drinking buddy - who is sober. Someone who will carefully steer you away from announcing how you 'really feel' about all the office politics. They will be on hand to dole out the garlic, the sobering kebab, get your taxi home booked and in general to make sure you behave yourself. You owe them a gift, and your job.

No. 5 This is NOT the time to unleash your inner Beyonce, your party piece, or your twerking skills. You have to face these people come January and they WILL remember. Avoid 2 weeks of fear and shame as you wonder 'did I really...' knowing in your heart, you probably fucking did. Behave. For every unit of liquor, drink a glass of water. Or two.

No. 6 What to wear? Don't wear anything see-through, slutty, or over cleavage revealing unless you want your boss talking to your tits all night. Invest in a LBD, some spanx and accessorize with the rule - less is more. Always. If you wear a pair of reindeer antlers you will NEVER get that promotion and frankly, you don't deserve it. Ditto flashing earrings. You are not Bet Lynch.

No. 7 Make like Cinders and leave by midnight. Always better than being the last man standing, trying to persuade people you don't even like to go to that 'little lock in place' which, by the time you get there, will have shut. Have dignity. Go home and sleep it off.... (See No. 4 - they should be shoving you in a cab by then).


No. 1 If you didn't send cards (and frankly this year I do not have the time - friends, forgive me) then don't expect them in return. You can still post them after Xmas but it is like those invited to the evening do at a wedding - your mates will know they are B list.

No. 2 NYE is always a let down. All that expectation would ruin anything... If you can't get to a house party (the ONLY party to go to on NYE unless you are loaded and don't mind queueing for the lav all evening) then lock your doors, get a take away, and avoid the whole shenanigans. Is over rated in my humble opinion.

No. 3 Everyone always thinks they pull on NYE but it is just a pity kiss - two lonely souls stumbling drunkenly towards each other because that is what you do... Avoid by bucking the trend and go out on NYE's eve instead. Waaaay cooler and takes all the pressure off the big night. Guaranteed chances of meeting fabulous person who needs to escape family Xmas and is getting their wheels oiled for new years. Trust me.

No. 4 January is not the time to give up drinking - why on earth do it to yourself - it is a long cold, miserable endless month. Drink more! Just take up hot toddies - call them 'medicinal.'

So, let the festive season commence. Tomorrow our tree goes up, mulled wine to be drunk, X factor final to be watched (come on lovely Luke!!). Monday is work Quizmas (best moment of Xmas bar my kids' faces on Xmas morning). Followed by work do on Friday. I for one, am prepared. You?

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

It's all about the er... eyebrows.

Do you ever realise something about yourself when you never knew it? Even after knowing yourself for like - well, as old as you are??

So the other night I went with my best buddy to see the new Hunger Games movie. Jen Lawrence is just so amazing in everything she does that I think I'd watch her in a DVD where she just ate burgers. Plus, I love Katniss - now THERE'S a heroine character for my daughter to look up to rather than barbie cut-out babes. (BTW Sproglette wants a Castle for Xmas. And went to her first birthday party on Saturday - two days after she turned 3. It was a boy's natch. She ran around with Orson and Milo and Nathan and got them to chase her. Then bossed them into next week. Those poor sweet boys do not stand a chance...).

Anyway, at the movies, I mused to my best mate how hot Chris Hemsworth is. Which may be a bit wrong as I am er... 40 and he is like 20 something. But hey, he is cute. Best mate replied, 'Of course you fancy him. Look at his eyebrows!'

Let's take a moment and check them out:


Where was I? Oh yes. So I said to best mate, 'What, do I have a type?' And she replied, 'Duh! Of COURSE you have a type. It's all about the eyebrows.'

Really? Then I realised - she was right! A quick mental flick through the good the bad and the down right beer goggles ugly, and yep - the good all had one thing: a great set of .... brows. 

Favourite man:

I first discovered Jon Kortajarena in the movie, The Single Man.  He has nice everything. But especially eyebrows. 

In case you need reminding:

Oh and just one more time then...

WOW. Anyway - Husband, love of my life, ever patient and great listener - it turns out joins this eyebrowed throng. I remember when our son was born I bumped into a guy who knows Husband and told him that our newborn son looked exactly like him. He replied, 'dark haired with big eyebrows' and I swear to god it was first time I thought, 'Huh, Husband has big eyebrows...' We'd been together 5 years by then...


Husband has good lips too. But ahem, eyebrows yes.

Here is more proof:

And finally:

Meanwhile, in my dim and distant youth, in my 20s I had a small fling-ette with this man:

It's all about the eyebrows!

It took me to 40 years to work it out. I have a type. Somewhere, somehow, I am obsessed with pro-creating with a man who sports some serious slugs above his peepers. Why? I have no idea.

But for me, forget the pecs, the sexy smile, the long lashes, the pert butt. Nope for me, it was all about the brows. So what's your type? Do tell.... 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Christmas Wish...

Last night, I climbed the stairs to bed, weary after a day at work and an evening writing blogs. As always, I peeked in on my slumbering children - all wrapped up cosily in their beds. I listened to their soft breathing and kissed their smooth cheeks. In that moment, I wished I could put them in a bubble - keep them safe from the ills of the world; so that they may never suffer rejection, failure, heartbreak, loss or grief. Then I lay on my bed and imagined their faces on Christmas morning - their delight at all the gifts and fun that we have in store for them. I don't know who is more excited - them or me.

Again, as is my habit, I reached down beside my bed, to grab a book, a magazine, a leftover paper - whatever I can read for the whole 6 minutes before the ZZZzzzzzzzz get me. I'm a huge fan of Stylist magazine - and I flicked through it, then something caught my eye. A columnist was suggesting something to do this Xmas - to go on line and go to Refuge - a charity that helps women and children who have suffered domestic abuse.

I imagined being a woman who fears for her safety and that of her child. A woman who wants to keep her child in a bubble and who, showing more bravery than I ever have had to do, has escaped her situation and is staying in temporary accommodation - with no Christmas tree and festive trinkets - no luxuries and treats. Safety has come at a price. I can't for a minute comprehend how hard those life changing steps must be. To make that bubble. To begin your own healing - physical and mental. How scary and overwhelming it must feel. As all around gather their loved ones close, and the material world jangles it's purse in every advert, every song...

So, I know you will have charity boxes put under your nose, and the milk man to tip and great aunts to buy for, and the food and the tree and all... But if you have read my blog once, or all year - or all the (6!!) years I have been writing (and you know I never ask for much bar a few babble clicks) - can I ask you a small favour?

Could you go here...to The Refuge site, where you can donate whatever can afford. OR (and I love this idea so much) you can go HERE to the John Lewis gift website - where you can put in the number 564013 and you can buy a gift for as little as £5 that will go to a Mum or child, who needs it this Christmas. Who will appreciate your act of kindness and what it means, at the start of their new journey.

£5 is one drink at your staff xmas party, or half an xmas dinner at the pub.... But it could go so much further... It could make all the difference to a woman who desperately wants her child to have the same Christmas we want all our wee ones to have...

Anyway, I won't preach any more. There are enough soap boxes at this time of year.... but not enough Bubbles...

Merry Xmas and thank you xx

Friday, 29 November 2013

Nananananananananananananananananana BATMAN!!

We have started Sproglet on his film schooling. Mainly because, whilst kids' films are ACE (Nemo, Incredibles, Monsters Inc. to name a few) we felt it was time he dipped his toe in the world of films we watched around his age, or maybe just a bit older. And.... we are sick to the back teeth of Nemo et al. Bring on the new movies... 

So, with slight trepidation, we let him watch Jaws. Yes. The scary shark one. To be fair, it has aged slightly - but I still insisted we fast forward during the moment a kid his age is mauled by said shark whilst floating happily on a lilo. If my kid never ventures into the sea again, it would be all my fault. Anyway, he loved it. The only bit he was scared by, was when the eyeball hung out of the man's head in the night dive. Whoops! I had forgotten about that one... Fair point. When I first watched that bit aged 8 1/2 I nearly wet my pants... Anyway, this weekend, having moved through Spielberg (E.T. has been done - as has Back to the Future) we are venturing into Tim Burton territory. Hurrah!

Back in the summer of '89 I queued round the block (on I think around August 10th... this memory is crystal clear) to get a load of Batman - replete with Prince (LOVE HIM) soundtrack and the wonderful Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Husband is more of a Nolan fan - and I'm with him on The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises - but Batman Begins? Not such a fan. Even though I watched it at the Tuschinski cinema in Amsterdam...

Anyway, back to Burton. The gothic king is a favourite of mine (Big Fish anyone? Or Nightmare before Christmas?) and I feel Sproglet is ready. Plus, he is already a fan of all things Batman. Ok, ok, it's camper than Christmas and maybe the plot aint so great and I distinctly remember only liking the car, the soundtrack and the Joker after that '89 viewing, but time has dulled my memory and now I think it is just swell.

Plus, superheroes are a big thing in our house - none more than the Avengers - Sproglet's fav film of the past year. No wonder Marvel and DC classics have been brought to the big screen for the first time or remade - those film studio bosses aint dumb. I guess If it aint broke... it just needs some CGI.

Plus, I'm reckoning those film bods worked out JUST how much they could make from merchandising. Sproglet likes anything with an Iron Man face attached - or, could anything be cooler than a Imaginext Batcave? Sproglette meanwhile, being a complete tomboy, is obsessed with Sproglet's Spiderman costume and thinks there is nothing wrong with wearing it to Waitrose. Replete with mask. Not disturbing at all. Nooooooo....

So, wish me luck as I educate my son in the world of film. Obviously there is a long way to go. But, I work with people who have never seen Jaws (LAUREN I am looking at you). Or Raiders of the Lost Ark (on Sproglet's list). I simply can have borne a kid who loves films as much as me (his first Ratatouille aged 1, followed by Horton Hears a Who - both fab) and who doesn't know his Welles from his Weirs....

Do you think he'll like Batman??

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Things I learned learnt this week part 2.

No. 1 Never ever Facebook while drunk and pre-menstrual. It will come to NO Good. You will have bad, wrong knee jerk reactions to things that through an alcoholic blur will seem vastly important - as you subsequently think your opinions are. Which you will then unleash. Then you will wake up the next day with a foggy memory of turning into a Mean Girl - ironic really as that is what you were watching at the time - and a heavy leaden guilty feeling that will follow you like a bad smell all day.

Whilst I'm on the subject, a colleague recently said that Facebook started out as a fun host of the party, all 'come on in, this is fun' and now is at the creepy stage of the night, suggesting we all do drugs and touch each other. I concur. I'm tired of flipping over to FB to see pictures of dead children assaulting me from nowhere, or 'like and if I get 6 million then I might consider vaguely committing to my girlfriend of 15 years.' For every cute lost teddy reunited with it's teary owner, is 50 awful 'Love is a butterfly, now go be one and spread your wings angel' mush that makes me want to instantly un-friend the poster.

I'm all for folk sharing their lives - I have looked at countless wedding pics of people I DON'T EVEN KNOW (but mates of mine went to the wedding), but there comes a point when you wonder who is it for? To share a moment, or a moment made just to share? Aaron Sorkin famously said that Facebook is just a stage, a place for folk who have never had the chance - to perform - and he refused to be on it. Husband refuses to join saying he sees everyone he wants to see and that is all he needs. His anti-facebook rant is really quite something. Somewhere though, there is a happy medium - but I'm not sure what that is. And definitely NOT happy if drunken facebooking, like I said.

No. 2 Handing in one's notice is an anti-climax, but still feels pretty good, if slightly scary. I head off into the unknown on Feb 8th.  What's next? A trip to make my bank manager be understanding that is for sure... I'm scared, but I'm also relieved - an end is in sight. There is a finish line - hurrah! Not that I won't miss my work buddies - I will, enormously - but I won't miss feeling that I'm not really present enough for my kids. And the tonne of homework my son gets. If this is what it is like at 7, what will it be like when he is 11??

No. 3. It is ok, (I think) to take the left over baking your Aunt brought on Halloween, and 're-cycle' it for the school bake sale... er.... two weeks later. Well no reports of anyone dying so far, but there is a nasty stomach bug doing the rounds at school....

No. 4 NEVER feed a hungry kid who has been sick that day and sent home from school, even if they BEG you. Because that bagel and yoghurt - you'll be seeing them again later. On your rug. ALL over it. Nice.

No. 5 If you don't do enough 'slideshows' and get them all up in the first two weeks of blogging, you will end up with LOW hits on your blogging job. Please people, if you can - can you click here and here and here and here. A LOT. Oh and share and tweet and kiss and love a little. Then maybe they won't fire my ass. I thank you.

No. 6 Xmas isn't going to go away, so you'd better get with it - and quickly Humbug. Those present lists will have to be dealt with at some stage - but please people, can't we do this in December? Y'know the actual Xmas month?? Memo to self - don't talk gifts IN FRONT of your kids. Sproglet wants Battleship. Bonus - £15 Toys R Us. He piped up with this and then Husband announced, 'Oh no, you don't want that one. You want the one that has all the sound effects. The one I had as a kid. We MUST be able to get that somehow.' 'Yes, yes, I want THAT one,' Sproglet chirps. Great! Collectors item on ebay! ££££!!

No. 7 That sometimes, when you least expect it you get great news, and hope. All you need to do is work hard, have some luck and always have a plan B. preferably C too. Then A works out. Odd that but true.

No. 8 That whilst Starbucks mince pies are the BEST mince pies in the UK, (I have tried Tesco, M & S, Waitrose - own and Heston, shortcrust and pastry, Costa, Sainsburies and Greggs) you really shouldn't feel it is your duty to stuff as many of them down your neck as possible 'because it is Christmas.' Unless you want a tum to rival Santa's. Ho Ho Ho.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Breaking Point...

...was reached.

Just can't go on the way I am going. It is no way to live. NO ONE I know does what I do. Every single Mother I know works part time, if at all. Most, were far smarter in their career choices than I have been and so work less hours but earn more than I do, even though they do 2/3 days a week.

Several Mums I know DON'T work and their kids are at school all day. I have no idea what they do all day - but I envy their ME time. Me? I work 5 days a week. I am the only mother of two amongst colleagues who do my actual job. In fact, the only mother. The others sweetly tell me often that  they don't know how I do it. The work can often mean evening reading/weekend note writing - this week I lay in the bath reading scripts so I felt like I was doing something for myself that evening...

But once I've done my day job - then I come home and do my SECOND job. It takes hours. I love it - but I am technically a bit slow - so all the uploading and linking to and all that jazz takes HOURS. The sheer brain power of coming up with 3 articles a week and then writing all the accompanying blurb takes time. Time flies when I am doing it - but still.

So weekends become the time to do everything that you didn't get done during the week: food lists/shops., ENDLESS laundry, lists, chores tasks galore and the whole 'having fun' seems to be bottom of every list.

Someone once said to me that it would be harder to do my job with 2 babies, rather than kids my age (2 and 3/4 and 7). Thing is, babies - hard when teething and not sleeping - which should really sort by 12 months - are easy when you are working. You drop them to nursery/child minder and you pick 'em up. Bath and bed. Done. My 7 year old each week has a literacy homework - and maths, and spellings and reading and a 'talk' homework which he then has to write about. Then there is the running kit to be cleaned, and football etc - the parents' evenings, the 'bake' sales that I have ZERO time to get all bake off for...

I have turned into someone I HATE. A nagging, stressed, tired neurotic mess - and I was that when I was single, let alone now with all the responsibilities I have. Something has got to give. I realised this, on route to work on Wednesday, when I ended up sobbing on the phone to a friend, who safe to say, could easily be a Samaritan.  I'd gotten up at 6am to do some Babble writing - only for the site to be down... Then I headed to work, paid for Sproglette to go early club at nursery to get in and get the much coveted parking space - as for various reasons, there were very few this week. But there was a massive traffic jam so I went off route - only to discover that Husband had broken the Sat Nav lead. I was lost, tired, stressed. I kind of flipped out.

My mantra, 'I am but one woman' just doesn't work any more.. I am tired of saying it, feeling it, thinking it. I am tired of the stress, the constant anxiety, the feeling I am not being good enough at any of my roles. The fact I get on average about an hour a week to watch TV, read a book, relax. Head space - something I NEVER get.

So I have a new plan. It will mean no money - and starting from scratch again - but I am excited. Because I see light at the end of my tired dark tunnel. I am giving up on trying to be all things to all people. I just need to be a great person to two little people. I know that being at home with little people all day kind of fries my head, so I've got to find a way round that. Thank the lord my daughter is entitled to 15 hours free child care as of December.

No matter what happens, I won't be in this place. I won't be this person. 2014, I cannot wait to meet you.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Broken hearted in Berlin

Sometimes, the biggest moments in your life - the ones that change you irreparably, happen in a matter of seconds. You stand there, time slowing down like you are in one of those awful rom-coms, and you know, you fucking know, that you won't ever be the same again.

One of my most defining moments happened on Sep 10th 1990, in a Berlin airport.

I stood, in a sweaty cramped room in the departures gate, waiting to board a flight to London, with tears streaming down my face. I could hardly breathe I was so heartbroken. I gave up trying to dab my eyes with a small sodden tissue, or hide the fact I was openly weeping. A tall handsome man with wavy brown hair strode over to me and offered me a cigarette. My hands shook as he lit it, and he smiled gently as he asked, 'So, did you throw the flat at him, or just pack and walk out?' He carried on, 'Sometimes it doesn't have to be over, it just feels like it is.'

But it was over. It was never going the same again. I was never going to be the same again.

I'd spent 10 glorious days in Berlin, living with my boyfriend, my first love. I'd flown in on a Friday, to be met by him and his brother, then taken to a bar where his mother greeted me with a rose between her teeth. She gave me champagne and cigarettes and asked me what contraceptive I used. This was her opening question. I kid ye not. She went on to say that the first time she had sex, he'd given her VD and got her pregnant (whoever 'he' was) and a doctor had given her an injection that had 'killed both.' She laughed, smoked and re-filled my champagne glass. I nervously drank it in one gulp.

His Mother lived on Brandenburgische - a small walk from the Brandenburg gate. Her sprawling, slightly run down flat was next door to his brother's - and we hung out in both. I watched endless MTV (the only English speaking channel) and played Tracey Chapman's Fast Car over and over. His Father's flat (where we stayed) was a lengthy 2 bus, 2 subway ride across town - in a dull suburban suburb.

By day we slept and by night we drank frothy beers, got stoned and kissed our way across the city. I was blindingly in love - playing at being a grown-up: cooking him meals and shopping for groceries. His step-mother kept some English language books, so I read Riders and The Secret Garden. The latter being a book on sexual fantasies, and I would lie in the bath and read aloud the craziest ones. We watched Polanski's Rosemary's baby in German, and I still loved it.  Every morning I would wake and feel momentarily gutted - another day had passed. A day nearer to flying home.

My trip there was 6 months into our relationship. My first, real proper relationship. One filled with dates and phone calls and hand holding in public. He had stayed at my house - separate rooms of course - and eventually, I'd given him my virginity. It felt right.

He taught me German phrases and took me on a tour of the East side of the city - this was shortly after the wall had come down. We shopped at flea markets and drank coffees in cafes, ate steaks in a wooden bistro called 'The Woodworm' and he watched as I danced alone, at a club called Far Out where an 80 year old guru skated around the floor. He took me to his Grandmother's 70th birthday party and not one person spoke English. They appraised me and decided we should be married. He paled. I blushed.

Eventually it was time to go. I stood in his sloppy navy sweater and refused to return it. It smelt of him. I shoved a crumpled love letter into his hands. Then complained about the traffic on route to the airport. He replied his usual phrase, 'If you don't like it, you can always go home...'

Then we stood in the busy airport terminal, teeming with people bumping into us and said goodbye. He was headed to Manchester Uni, me to rainy Belfast and A- Levels. It felt like my pretend life was over. The crazy Mother who ordered us out of her flat as her lover was visiting that day, the Baileys he would pour me at night, the kisses he woke me with... All gone. He promised we would stay in touch, but I knew this was it. That it was over - we wouldn't sustain over a stretch of sea and an entire year apart... Me, headed no doubt to a London Uni the following year.

He kissed me goodbye and I turned and fled, lest he see me cry. There had already been too many tears. Too much discussion over how to 'make it work.'

So I stood in that humid airport and knew that I wasn't the girl who had touched down 10 days prior. I'd left my mundane school life, my small little world of school and tennis and the Empire pub, and I'd felt really, truly alive. I'd been smitten with love. How could I go back, and be the person in the school uniform, trudging up that hill, knowing he had gone?

I spent that night in Gatwick airport - which is somewhere unholy to try and bed down. I chain smoked cigarettes and cried down the phone to any friend who would talk to me, whilst my coins ran out. I listened to crappy music on a prehistoric Walkman and finished reading Riders...

Looking back over my life, over those boys that I have loved (for there only have been 3), that was one of the moments that defined me. Defined what I knew love could be - the pain of it all. The seemingly unending heartbreak - that stayed with me for at least two years after that day... But I wouldn't change a second of it. I wouldn't go back and tell my 17 year old self to do anything different.

It brought me here, eventually. It taught me (trite thought this may sound) that you could love, you could lose, but you could still get up and do it all over again...


Monday, 4 November 2013

Why buying a Handbag is SO much easier than buying a Bra...

On Saturday I went bra shopping. Now this, this traumatic for me. I haven't been bra shopping since... oh 2010 - before my daughter was born. Contrary to what you might think, I have no issue in getting my chest out there for some nice lady to stare at - or even hoist into whatever boulder holder they suggest. No, what I hate is the complex hunt that is required to get a bra that actually fits me, keeps everything you know, together, and doesn't make me look like some busty wench serving fine ales in 1864. On Saturday, I explained how much I love T shirt bras - nothing lacy and scratchy, nothing too 'uplifting' and something comfy, but not padded (I don't need that there padding on jot) or already 'moulded cups, because they create fake boob shapes - and I tried on 8 bras. FINALLY, Greta got me the perfect bra. This was after she announced that one boob was in fact almost a cup size bigger than the other.

You know how you never notice something and then someone points out your monster boob and then ALL YOU CAN SEE is your mahoosive boob and how freakish it is?? I haven't been able to look at myself naked without thinking 'how did I NOT notice this?' Husband says he knew, but just didn't want to tell me. I didn't even breast feed for longer than a few weeks!! How has this happened. Anyway. Greta, in John Lewis at the Harlequinn centre Watford - is AMAZING. I hugged her as I left. Apart from pointing out my defect (in the nicest way possible - apparently we ALL have different sized boobs, yes, even models and all those celeb folk) she told me my bust was 'pert' and got me looking great in the best ever bra. In it, my chest is in perfect symmetry. Phew!

She told me NEVER to buy a bra online as they change size and shape in each bra - so even a bra that is the same make as one you have - if it is in a different colour - you need to try it on, to make sure it fits you.

It got me thinking how much I LOVE shopping online, and what items are totally safe to buy online - without even having to try them on and all. I came up with one in particular: bags. You know what the bag looks like - and what you want from your bag - the colour, make, size, style, zip, shape, and so go forth and bag buy! You can't go wrong!

With that in mind - and as Santa will soon be visiting (as long as I am good) - what bags are on my wish list? I love Brit designer Paul Smith. Waaay back I interviewed him - several times - and he was utterly delightful - really friendly and smart and the kind of person you could drink tea with. I always buy Husband one of his scarves for Xmas - and I myself love his bags.  This place Diffusion online is great for bags - including another fav of mine - Vivienne Westwood. Now if you have a spare 3K to drop Santa - please bring me a Chloe bag - preferably this one. Maybe fluffy owls aint your thang - but if they are - this Fendi bag is the best thing I have EVER seen.

I should add that the only fancy pants bag I have ever owned is a Mulberry Bayswater (a classic) that Husband bought me for giving him a son. But Mulberry have a new bag out and it is lush. It has that kind of manly edge that I love. Girly handbags, bar the fluffy owl, are not me. I like classic, stylish - not filled with tassles and tat....

If like me, you can't afford to re-mortgage your house in order to pay for a funky bag like this one - a Halloween clutch that is a mere £395 - my tip? Shop around - as I got the cutest bag ever for Halloween at Asos for £18. True, my almost 3 year old thought it was for her when she clapped eyes on it  - but I have never had so many compliments on a bag in my life. One shaped like a pumpkin no less...

So people, the moral of the tale? Shop to your huge hearts content on line while perusing bags (lots of great sites also show the bag in 360 - so you get to see every angle... ohhhh ahhh, imagine how great it will look on you arm?) but never EVER buy a bra online, ok? Now go look in the mirror. See, one IS bigger than the other!


Saturday, 2 November 2013

How to Throw a KICK ASS Halloween party (well, the CM way at least).

Hurrah! My favourite holiday of the year is back! All Hallow's Eve... the night where ghouls and spectres roam the land and all things spooky appear...

Every year I throw a party - this you already know - and invite a handful of fun people I know in my neighbourhood to come over, bring their kids, bring a bottle and get celebrating.

So my list of things you need for a Cracking Creepy do:

No.1 A good invite list. That means inviting parents you actually LIKE, not just because your kids are friends with them. Let's not pretend this is for the kids - it is, a tad - but it is also about YOU. Just because Billy is mates with John and Jack, you do not need to bring John's dull as dishwater Mum and Jack's bitchy Dad over to hang. Invite the folk you like. Then it will rock.

No 2. Don't slave all day making spiders web buns and witches' fingers - as great as they are - no kid cares. All they want to do is get out there and Trick or Treat. The kids this year barely touched all my fab spooky treats, and instead they just ran in and out of the house giving out treats to the 50 million treaters at my door. Seriously - we had a knock every 5 minutes for 2 hours. I love all this uber social stuff - I kept bringing strangers into my dining room for a bit of Halloween chat - so if you don't, take that the battery out of your doorbell, close your curtains and sit in the darkness, the misery that you are. Boo hiss.

No 3. Be careful how you dress your kid. What you envisaged as being a Mummy - turns into 80s popstar Boy George in the drug years..... Sorry Sproglet.

No. 4 Alcohol is great. A spooky martini gets a party going. Guests love a cocktail. The moral though is not to enjoy TOO many of these, forget to go treating until 7pm and find everyone in the neighbourhood has run out of candy... Er... not that that happened to me this year... oh no. *whistles*

No. 5 Make sure you get great pics. Every year my friend Louis comes to the party and takes some shots - and they are beyond amazing. I think my favourite part of the whole thing is looking back the next day and seeing how it all went.

No. 6 It is ok to make a fool of yourself. That is what Halloween is all about. Wear a hat, some stupid googly glasses, some fake blood, something fun and silly. Don't dress as a slapper naughty devil - that is so 1991. You are an adult, it is Halloween - the only way to maintain any dignity is to embrace to stupidity of it all and get in touch with your inner dress-up kid. See below... 

No. 7 As you can see, NO ONE ate the buns. Note the empty martini glasses, but NO ONE ate the fingers... (And my Aunty made them and they were delicious...). Next year - just get in crisps. Everyone always eats crisps. Crispathon and some dips. Party is done.

No. 8 If you want to 'play' and it is LOADS of fun - get carving. Get your pumpkin at the ready and leave it out - showing that you too, are having Halloween fun and you welcome Treaters with open arms. The folk who did the fabulous pumpkin below had a KEEP OUT sign and never answered the door which defeated the whole purpose - so I had to bellow loudly outside their door 'IF YOU PUT OUT A PUMPKIN YOU SHOULD HAVE TREATS PEOPLE.' That is the rule dontchaknow?

No. 9 Eat some dinner before you start the martini drinking and candy stealing from your kids, or you will be wildly ill come November 1st - as several of my party guests were....

No. 10 Finally, remember a bucket to treat with - and leave someone at home to dole out the candy while you and your crew are merrily (and indeed merrily as we drank wine on route) winging your way around the neighbourhood, full of festive cheer. A torch is always good as kids tend to scuttle like cockroaches in the dark and you could be bringing home a bat that you thought was yours and is the kid from 3 doors up. After 8pm most folk act like Halloween is over so don't be disappointed if folk no longer answer their door... (Memo to self there). Then go home and have some banter, finish those martinis. There are party games galore - pin the spider on the web, apple bobbing, stick hands in ghostly graves to unearth treats amongst slime etc etc - but there are great websites for those sorts of tips. Mine, are for a CM Halloween party and that is always quite different to the norm... 

Happy Halloween y'all!

Photo credits: Louis Quail - amazing!

Enough Said

My good friend M told me that October was going to be fraught. Planetary activity was all over the shop, so we could expect it to be tough. Now September hadn't been a walk in the park - but October was something else. More than any other month this year - it whizzed by and I held on by my finger tips for dear life.

Work - day job - was FULL ON - in a way that means I still haven't caught up on all the stuff I should be catching up on. Hopefully I can be catch up queen next week. I was working evenings and weekends, so the minute that I had finished work work,  I was jumping on to all things Babble... And that left no room for this here blog. Which makes me a bit sad - I don't think there ever has been a month where I blogged here less. Not that I didn't want to - manys a day I would be like - oh yes, I must blog about that and oh that, and THAT. But my fingers never made it to the keyboard.

So, this is a catch up. A hell, how ya doin'? Anyone still reading (?) kind of thing. Last week was easily the best - Husband got a new job, I went to the movies with my mate T, and saw one of my fav movies of the year and I threw my annual Halloween party - replete with lychee martinis... I wasn't feeling too clever yesterday it has to be said. Anyway, the movie that T and I saw was 'Enough Said' with the late great James Ganolphini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. If you haven't seen it - do. It is just wonderful.

Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a divorced Mum with a daughter about to go to college, who meets Albert at a party. He isn't really her type, but he makes her laugh and the chemistry fizzes. They begin dating. Meanwhile in her job as a masseuse, one of her clients - a poet Marianne, has had a bad break up - so as Eva is jumping into a relationship again, she hears how badly they can go wrong... It aint easy the whole dating game, especially not with all the baggage that comes with people in their 50s. Then there are all the idiosyncrasies people have accumulated in life - something you find a turn off, others will find a turn on... Gandolphini is amazing - his charisma just bounces off the screen, and the script is super smart and very funny. Louis-Dreyfus does all the awkward embarrassing things that you and I do all the time - which makes the whole thing so relatable. At times moving, others, sheer laugh out loud delights. If you missed it, you missed out. T and I sat in our ridiculously overpriced cinema seats ('All seats in this screening room are £13 I'm afraid...' Really? WHY?) and reeled from enjoying the film so much. We sat there, musing on all the reasons why we loved it so damn much.

I get to cinema faaaaaaaaaaaaar less than I did in my 20s.. (and early 30s), so thank gawd there are far less films that I want to see. The halcyon days of great cinema, for me, are over - and we are forced fed a diet of shit remakes (Carrie - WHY???) and blockbuster superpower bollocks. Give me the charming, character led, quirky little talky films any day. More 'In the Bedroom' and 'Door in the Floor' and 'Little Children' movies please, and less Transformers 15. So, when I do get spend a kings ransom on a cinema ticket and it isn't just to keep the kids amused on a wet Saturday afternoon but is a movie that I am watching (usually alone) I want it to be AMAZING. I want to run out of that cinema and kiss the screen attendants with joy, I liked the movie so much.

That happened on Tuesday. Praise be.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Don't look back in Anger

When you look back over your romantic history: the fumbling snogs of youth, the drunken sex of your 20s (just me then?) the love affairs in your 30s etc etc - you always remember the really HOT ones, don't you? The ones that caused you to do all kinds of weird things - like pretend to be interested in a band you hated, or going to a bar because you knew they'd be there, or arranging to film a male model for a day for a feature on the fashion show you worked on, because you were basically stalking them (oh, just me again...). The ones that stick in your memory because they were so damn cute that if you didn't snog the face off them, then you would have died right there on the spot.

Now in my time, I have (thank you god) kissed a couple of hot guys. Obviously in my mind, they were all hot - or at least looked luke warm after I'd sunk enough tequila. But I have a kind of list in my head of 3 that were particularly gorgeous - whom I am most proud to have locked lips with.

I was discussing this at work the other day with a colleague, and launched into the tale of the boy I would have put at a very respectable NUMBER 3. His name was Matt, and I met him when he was 16 and I was 18 - the summer of '91. Smack bang in the middle of my A-levels. When I should have been studying for exams.  

Instead, my Mum mentioned that there was some tennis tournament on down at the local tennis club, and the books immediately took a back seat. For a hick from Belfast, to suddenly be surrounded by all these strapping tanned tennis gods from all across the globe - it was well worth chucking Hamlet to one side for an evening. I dragged my mate Jules along and pitched up at the club. I noticed him immediately. Swarthy, with twinkly brown peepers, cow like lashes, blonde hair that flopped to one side and with a cheeky grin - he was so freakin' hot! I could barely look at him. Now, around boys I fancy, I get all tongue-tied and bumbling and my palms sweat. So when he joined our table and chatted away in his soft cockney tones, I barely glanced in his direction. I seem to remember my Mum dropping him and his mates at their hotel and he asked for my number. (This in itself was a miracle - as this is me pre-dental work, with bad hair). 

We traded calls the next day - me shoving 10 and 20p pieces into the payphone at school... eventually arranging to meet that night at the Eglantine Inn - a pub across the road from my school.

He stood me up. 

I was FURIOUS. Later he told me he'd been on court until 9:30 and couldn't call me (damn those mobile phones for not being invented yet) and so had gone for a KFC bucket. This - the mere fact he chose greasy chicken over me, should have been my wake up call.

But no, I pursued him even harder. 

The day after was Saturday (oh yeah, it's all in my diary too - tragically) and I left the library and headed to the same squash and tennis club where I was working behind the bar that night. He appeared and I blanked him. That'll show him eh? He blanked me back. Hadn't counted on that one... So I hung around, pretending to chat to my friends, until finally, he apologised and I forgave him in a heartbeat. (I want to go back and slap my younger self, but that was then...).

He spent all evening propping up the bar where I served and trying to get me on the dance floor. Some girls flirted with him but he turned away quickly, focusing all his attention on me. Instead of glass collecting, i was too busy giving him free beer... He was flying back to London the following day - he lived in Woodford - and he invited me back to his hotel when I finished my bar shift. I had an A level in Eng lit that Monday to study for and he had STOOD ME UP.

Off I went. 

I kissed that boy for an entire night (but nothing more I add). He had soft stubble that eventually felt like it was scrubbing off my chin - but no matter - who cares about stubble rash when you are kissing such a hot boy!! He gave me his number, kissed me goodbye, (Ow!) wished me well and told me to look him up when I went to Uni in London the following term. 

I was smitten. Until weird blisters appeared in my chin that evening, and then more and more. He gave me what rugby players call scrum pox - impetigo. Nice. My Dr told me it was the 'kisser's infection.' I had to go into school with my chin covered in cream and my mates pissed themselves at me... Nice parting gift, I agree.

Worse still, he had given me... the wrong number. Oh yes. He hadn't wanted to see me in London again after all. Which he kind of made clear, when I bumped into him at Wimbeldon a few weeks later. He was playing Wimbeldon boys and looked surprised to see me. Not in a good surprised way either. As in a 'what the hell are you doing here?' way. 

The impetigo cleared in a few days. I got an A in my English A level. The boys in Belfast seemed dull in comparison... 

I never forgot Matt. His big brown eyes and his cheeky grin. His sharp cheekbones and his floppy fringe. Until this week. When my colleague, who heard this sad tale, decided to look him up. Bless her. 

And here he is, today, as a tennis coach.....

HE WAS MY NUMBER 3!!!!!!!!!

I mean seriously! What happened?? Who does he remind you of? Oh that'll be......

Greg Wallace from Masterchef. In fact Greg looks better!!!

The moral of the story is this: Never tell anyone about the hot boys/girls of your youth as they most certainly do not look that hot NOW. Or if they look even hotter, that is almost worse, no?

I now feel much much happier that he never gave me the correct last digit to his number, and even more bitter about the impetigo. Will I be asking him for tennis coaching? That, would be a resounding.... No. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Bare your Bush

Is the bush back? Recently I've been reading a LOT about Gwyneth Paltrow's pubic hair: I seem to remember somewhere around 2001 her saying a brazilian wax changed her life, but recently on the Ellen show she described her lady garden as 'rocking a 70s vibe.'  Meanwhile writer Caitlin Moran has come out and said that everyone should have a 'great big hairy muff' and be proud of it. 
Now, I've got say, there is nothing groovy about being in the local swimming baths and your son telling you "Mummy, you have a spider working it's way down your thigh" - when it aint a spider... However, there is also nothing good about the pressure to be bald as a coot down there... Isn't that some dreadful porn fetish; somewhat infantilising women? Who wants to look like the last plucked turkey in Tescos on Xmas eve? Now, I'm fair haired, not that hairy - but when I had my first brazilian in 2001  it was more painful than both my C sections put together. The woman used pouring wax which she then ripped off me in huge clumps, as searing pain shot across my groin. At the end she held up a pretty little hand mirror for me to inspect my lady - not so much garden - desert. Then came the joy of ingrowing hairs, (OUCH!) and - she forgot to mention this - peeing like a watering can. Pubic hair is supposed to act as a funnel, and without it - well, you can imagine. (Sorry Matt Evans, TMI??)
Getting waxed is so intimate and embarrassing I have to talk through the whole thing. There is no dignity in slipping into surgical style knickers and then having someone bend your knees and fiddle with parts of you that rarely see daylight. I tend to rest a magazine on my stomach and babble about the article I'm reading, trying not to focus on what's going on down there. It aint as bad as my friend R, (who goes to Cheryl Cole's waxer apparently). R has to rest on ALL FOURS as she gets waxed from behind! THE HORROR. Why go through all this? To please a man? What if you leave him and get with someone who loves the full package? I read a story recently where some poor woman tried sticking false eyelashes on down there, in her quest to appease her new boyfriend - having had the whole area lazered off forever. Surely to god there must be nothing less sexy than post coital, her man wandering around covered in fluttery black lashes?? 
All this razoring off (itchy as hell in the grow back stage) or depilatory creams (smell BAD) or lasering (still grows back apparently) or waxing (ohh that STINGS) - in the quest for a full muff/porn star/hollywood/vajazzle/landing strip etc etc is frankly WRONG. I'm all with being tidy ladies, but at what cost? Financially and also personally. Can't we just all have the nether regions that we want - without feeling there is a WAY we should be?
Creative agency Mother London has launched Project Bush, where they hope to trigger "a modern day feminist debate through the lens of a Brazilian." They are taking feminism by the short and curlys and inviting women in London to get their lady gardens photographed in a custom made private 'bush booth' (isn't that name AMAZING?) on Thursday 3rd October, at their offices. Photos will be taken by top female photographer Alisa Conan and will be shown in an exhibition at a later date. If you are interested lovely readers, then check out Mother London's website or book a 15 minute slot anytime during the day or evening of the 3 October by emailing bush@motherlondon.com. As they explain, "We're not pro-bush or anti-bush. We're pro-choice." 
I totally support this idea - but am aware that whilst some will find the idea of anonymously showing off their bits somewhat erotic or hilarious, others might be horrified by it. But what I think is fab about this whole getting it on the table idea - is the range of women's triangles that they will surely see. So it doesn't matter if you are a jurassic park of bushes, or totally smooth, or all the shapes and colours in between (or even sport a merkin). What matters is, you are celebrating what is yours - and your choice. Isn't it about time it was cool to have whatever type of beaver you fancy? Now, what am I doing on Thursday??

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Confession: I hate summer.

Just as felt like it was safe to chuck my fitflops back into the wardrobe and haul on my hunter wellies, the bloody sun came out again.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WEATHER? I mean come on, it is October next week - I need that cold crisp air, heavy with bonfire smoke, the sun shining only to warm the sky, on a clear blue Autumnal day. That back to school feeling. Except the kids have been back for over 3 weeks...  I need the shops to fill with Halloween tat, and for the temperature to dip enough for me to argue with husband that it is OK to turn on the gas fire that he says we 'may as well pour £10 notes on to it as it costs this much to run it.' He really has turned into Scrooge when it comes to all things gas bill...

I'm over this Indian summer. Maybe that is terribly un-British of me, to wish for colder, wintery-er (new word there) weather. I don't care - I think summer is over rated. There, I've said it.

What is so freakin' good about a sticky hot summer, when you aren't lying by a rippling infinity pool and you aren't drinking cocktails? Think on: you are holed up in a sweat box office, desperately hoping that the 'extra strength' deodorant that you bought will live up to its advert. Or you are crushed like a battery hen against some sweaty smelly man on the tube, as every other man glances at your wet cleavage reflected on the curved tube door windows. As your bosom heaves as you try to gather a morsel of air to breathe in the stagnant humid fetid tube air. Every journey becomes a bind - an epic desert cross, where you have to carry water, a change of clothing and make up supplies to get you from A to B. Because there is NO point in plastering on the slap before you head out - it will have melted off your face by the time you get to that hot date - like a victim from the House of Wax. (Good movie - honest).

Then there is ALL the pressure - to be slim, to have waxed all regions, to remember to apply fake tan (not when you're pissed so you look like marble cake legs) and all that exfoliating and toenail painting and finding a bra that works with a summer dress - it is all STRESSFUL.  Some women - the 6 foot flippy ponytail type with olive skin and a smattering of freckles, they DO summer well. California girls with their sunny sunny faces and figures. Us Brits, or lily white Irish - we do blotchy. We don't even tan after a month in Mexico. We just get weird heat rashes and red patches and the odd burnt nose that peels for eternity. Not a good look.

Plus - all those FEET on show! Now you can dress them up in a pretty sandal or two but at the end of the day - they are there, looking all crooked and dry and gnarled. Oh, just me then?

The heat makes everyone cranky and the only decent thing is being able to hide sneaky glances at hot boys (24 and up obviously) behind a pair of massive shades. No for me, Autumn is the best season. When bikini angst (because no sarong looks great - it just creams - I am hiding my large ass in this teeny bit of see through material. It is now hidden. NO babe, it isn't) has gone. When the sweatiness has subsided. When it is totally cool to wear old baggy jumpers and cashmere socks and great big stonking boots.  When lying in hot baths is important - with glass of red natch. When the dark nights march in and one doesn't feel the need to HAVE to be social. When it is ok to let your kids rot in front of the telly for a whole day. When Sunday roasts become a MUST. When mulled wine starts appearing in shops. When trick or treating comes upon us. When decent films and not blockbuster trash start hitting the flicks.

When we can all stop talking and obsessing about the weather and pretending to enjoy picnics. When we can lie in front of fires watching cracking Autumn telly and be the grouchy grumbling hibernating Brits that we love to be.

*finally takes a breath*