Saturday, 30 March 2013

Boring, Boring, Bored.

Is it me, or is Easter the most boring ass holiday ever? Okay, Okay, I know the whole religious story - and that is the one amazing part. But on a day to day level - Christ, it is dull.

4 days. 2 kids. minus 2 weather. What to do? Baking? Done that the past two weekend? Build a den? Likewise. Drawing - been there done that. I know! Let's get bikes and scooters and wrap up warm and go to a nearby/forest/park place where we can have a blustery walk and shake off the cobwebs - Yay!!

So we spend twenty minutes wrapping up and packing the car and all of that and arrive to a thick wall of mud. Sproglette refusing gloves while her hands turn blue. Insisting on scooting over -unscootable ground. Sproglet is on his bike, but is coming a cropper on all the potholes and ends up in a ditch. There is a point where I am standing in gale force winds while both my children are crying and I am thinking of ways to jet to Mexico - never to be seen again.

Husband hates this park. His attitude: 'a bunch of dead looking trees, some nature trails and mud. Is that it?' So we re-pack the car, wipe muddy hands and snotty teary faces and head to another park - one with actual swings and slides and all that.

Sproglette insists on scooting instead - takes off down a path at a speed Evel Knievel would be proud of. She wobbles, straightens, wobbles and then takes a huge stack. She sobs. I cuddle her as I look over at Sproglet - he is getting to grips with his new bike again - and failing in his quest. He sobs. I feel cold wet drops on my face - no, I am not sobbing too - it is snowing.

Snowing. At Easter.

Husband and I give up on these 'fun' outdoor activities and head home. Sproglette screams when her scooter is put in the car, Sproglet is in a huff because he 'didn't cycle well enough.' Husband and I discuss how next Easter we will drop the kids with Granny - and maybe never come back. We have had such a fun day. No really. FUN.

Home. Sproglette has gone for a sleep - but guess what? Still cries! Sproglet has taken to his room with a  'door not come in here' sign on the door. Husband and I know we have a list of chores to do and have sacked them off to eat chocolate.

Me? I am lying under the covers with the kids' eggs until this godforsaken holiday passes. Or Spring at least has sprung.


Sunday, 24 March 2013


Years ago, just before I turned 30, I worked in a bookstore for about 4 months. I was 'between' presenting jobs and utterly, utterly skint. I had no idea what to do - but my mortgage had to be paid - so I got a job at the now defunct Books Etc for a mere £250 a week. I had been used to earning this (and more) a day as a presenter (oh those were the days... Jaysus what I would give for that now...) so this was pretty hard to swallow. But I grudgingly did... and slowly but surely I actually discovered ways to enjoy the darn job - even if I had put my back out and was frequently told off for committing the ultimate crime of 'reading at the till.'

My colleagues were an eclectic bunch: a man who wore suits and waistcoats every day and declared he was relieved to tun 40 as he had in fact been 40 in his head since the age of 16. He looked 60.
A Swedish girl who admitted to be from a inbred family and had a strange tick and talked about her irregular bowel habits. An ex-banker who had given up his lucrative salary to write book just as his wife was 6 months pregnant - as you do. He had written about 2 chapters and was 'stuck.' A short Canadian who went on Internet dates every night - his lesbian sister then would try and hit on his dates. His dream was to bring his future wife back to Canada where he lived by a lake and it reached - 28 in winter. There was a girl called Red who would go to meet her mates in a bar - get there, see them and then think 'I can't be bothered' and trek back home. She said was absolutely not a a single per cent depressed. Finally there was the manager - a nice guy who wore every shade of beige one could ever wear - ate the same lunch from the same cafe every single day and said he had only ever dreamt of managing a bookstore.

Best bits of my day were in no particular order: the half hour walk to and from the bank, depositing takings - a total dawdle, a gossip fest and gettin' some fresh Spring air; lunch - I'd hit a local cafe called 'bada bing' to be served by two brothers I nicknamed 'the cheeky boys.' Their lasagna was to die for. I flirted to win extra garlic bread. (In those days extra garlic bread could make or break a good/bad day). Meeting reps and picking books I wanted in store - as I covered Politics, Kids, History, Film and (fittingly) self -help; re-stocking the card selection, which I took over and trebled profits (I know me a good greetings card when I see one. In fact that's where I discovered the amazing cards called Harold's planet. Uber cute.)

I swore I wouldn't be there when my 30th b'day came around - problem was, it was a matter of weeks away. The clock was ticking - job interviews in telly came and went, each one I'd be almost selected for, only not to be. I wondered if I'd ever get out from between those dusty shelves - ever work in telly again.

One day as I left the coal bunker like staff room (dank and dark and smelt of mould - in the basement) I stopped to flick through the slush pile - books that had been damaged in transit - and spied one on luck. Seeing as I could do with a whole heap of it in my life, I grabbed it. I'll be honest, it wasn't the most exciting read: repetitive, overly simplistic and ragingly positive. BUT it did make me think. I started to adhere to it's suggestions - grabbing opportunities, appreciating what I had - and feeling lucky. The moral was: act like you're lucky and you damn well will be.

Lo and behold it bloody worked! By the time my 30th rolled around, I'd handed in my notice, planned a massive party, secured a job on a travel show as the presenter and met with an agent who had a publisher interested in the teen novel I had written. It was like stars aligned, the angels sang and all my lucky numbers came up in a row. Never mind that the publisher rejected my book in the end, and that the tv show was the worst experience of my life as I was mercilessly bullied - at the moment - as I turned 30, I felt like everything was up for grabs. The torturous 20s were over - my career was on an upward trajectory - I'd met my soul mate, I'd bought my flat.

Now, it is 10 years on. They have flown by in a heartbeat. In a way everything has changed - and nothing at all. I'm married now - got engaged 6 months after I turned 30. Married the following year - 9 years ago in October..... We've had two kids - moved out of London. I've changed career - been in the same job on and off for 5 years - which on bad days worries me and good days I feel so blessed to have had something that I really enjoyed - and has let me be a Mum - getting home in time for bath time. On good days I remind myself how hard it was to move from a tv presenting career to that of a script editor - and I managed it in 12 months. In my heart, I believe if you want something enough - you can do anything. (Except it seems write for 'Parenthood' in the US - I don't have that little green card unfortunately....). I digress. Mostly - with luck, with persistence, with a bit of serendipity - you can get what you want.

Weirdly, I read an article today that mentioned that Lucky book. Exactly 10 years after I read it. I felt this this was a sign. During Martini Friday (a night I throw occasionally where I invite some cool women I know in the area over and I make some killer martinis - on Friday, they were lychee) one woman said to me 'You are about to enter the next phase. It's exciting. Your next career chapter.' I think that's true. I can feel it - everything happens for a reason and all that. Husband today announced his career plans and they excite me a lot. I'm not quite sure where the wind will take me yet - but it'll all work out.

It always does.

Now if only I could find that book!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

I hate me

Some days - like today - like ten minutes ago - I do not recognise myself when I look in the mirror or hear myself speak.

I do not like what I see. What I hear. I'm like a drunken fishwife who hasn't got her rocks off for a while. Angry, spikey, snappy - a jagged voice shrieking from somewhere deep within.

The day started with my daughter announcing 'I done poo!' As I peeled off her Pj bottoms ( on top of the bed she refuses to sleep in  - she won't move from her cot no matter how we bribe or promise) the nappy somehow got stuck to them - so along with her bottoms coming down - the nappy came too - and the entire contents of it - spilled out across the uncovered duvet.

Poonami hits again. The horror. The horror. I won't go into details but sadly, her bowel offering was not of the 'solid' kind. I used a whole pack of wipes and opened the window.  Duvet went into the washing machine. She went to nursery - half a stone lighter.

Then my work internet went down and I heard the place I'm having my party is now accomodating another group of people upstairs and yadda yadda yadda.  Just one of those days.

Meanwhile, my throat aches (has done inexplicably for the past three days) and I feel doggone tired. But still I have soup to make, the kids to bath, groceries to remember, homeworks to do, clothes to wash and fold away, dinner money to sort out, party invites to reply to, thank yous to write (from December). Somewhere amidst this I have to remember to floss. Flossing is important. Oh and eat 5 portions of greens. When all I really want to do is gobble down a family pack of Malteser bunny rabbits that someone kindly gave me today.

We got in the car from school/nursery and the arguing had begun. My son can't be heard as Sproglette repeats everything I say over and over and over, drowning out my boy. He gets frustrated. He shouts. She shouts. Then not be outdone, I shout. I grip the steering wheel and think of alcohol.

Then we are home and it's bath time and I warn them not to get their hair wet, as they splash the entire room. Then I gather discarded socks and try to get organised for the next day. But the shouting has begun. 'She hit me!' 'He izzzz nawtee' - then 'No, don't wet my hair.' 'No, that's MINE.' 'NO - MINE.' MUM!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMM! and she chimes in 'MUMMMMMMY.' And I feel violent.

And they are soaking - hair and all, and I slip on the floor. And downstairs the pin number to all SKY movies is buggered as my son has tried to break in... And so as I slip, I am actually talking to man at SKY who is boring the tits off me talking about Tom Cruise movies... and I drop the phone into a puddle and my thigh hurts and I scream so loudly I could wake the dead and I am not me anymore. I am angry Mummy.

So I text Husband that I want a divorce. It is his fault obviously, because he is NOT HERE. Then I take Sproglet out and announce that they will never bath together again. I dry him and I am raging and I try to reason with him that Sproglette is only 2 - and so she doesn't understand - all the while I - I am being a whole ocean away from being understanding myself. The irony.

He retreats downstairs and then I pull the Diva from the bath. She is crying and saying over and over and over again 'I want a bottle. I WANT a bottle. I WANT A BOTTLE.' 'I WANT A BOTTLLLLLLEEEEE.'

he child could seriously do interrogation techniques for the CIA. She could break anyone. Easily.

I snap 'I KNOW!!!!' Because I am just a ball of snapping by now.

I dry her and dress her and we go downstairs where Sproglet comes and says sorry to her, she says sorry to him and they have what they call a 'huggle.' Bless. Then Sproglet whispers to Sproglette that they should say sorry to Mummy and I feel like THE DEVIL INCARNATE.

So we all eat the chocolate.

As she sups her bottle, all wispy blonde hair and enormous blue eyes, wrapped in her favoutite blanket - and Sproglet - all tufty dark hair and long limbs, cuddles her - I slip away, a tear in my eye.

Upset to be angry Mummy. Upset to be tired and crabby and always working or too busy and still there isn't enough money so what is the point and where am I in my career and what does it all mean and I didn't floss and will I ever be a size 8 again and what does so and so think of me and did we get milk and oh god my throat hurts and I should call that person and make soup - yes, I need to do that... and and and and and and.....

My daughter appears as I write this. She has emptied her bottle and announces she is ready for bed. She wants the owl story and more bottle. She burps and looks delighted. Says 'pardon me' and smiles. She is adorable. She asks to hug me and stares into my eyes. She asks if I am sad. 'Mummy, you alright?'

Sometimes I hate myself. I really do.


Aint nothing better than Eames

I have a minor addiction that I have not let you be privy to. Most months I contain it - occasionally I will relapse. Then I will lose two hours or more of my day wallowing in LIFE ENVY: whereupon I devour such interior mags as 'Living Etc.' and 'Elle decoration' and wonder why I am not residing in 1. a loft (painted open brick) apartment in New York with a roof terrace and bikes hung on the walls beside the fancy artwork or 2. A 5 storey 'north london' Victorian house that has been casually knocked around with so it has a sprawling kitchen (come breakfast room), movie room, massive landscaped garden and one of those fabulous roll neck baths - in the bedroom. Everything always looks so neat and clean - with over flowing fruit bowls and carefully placed immaculate cushions. My life never resembles these photos...

Before we moved into our house, I went over to take measurements and the couple who lived there (John and Julie - dull as dishwater) let me take some pix. The the dining room looked like this:

Now I loved the fireplace and the idea of a long table - but I fecking hated the stripey wallpaper and all twee chairs etc. I wanted to mix the old with the new. I fancied the idea of a really rustic table to match the fireplace - but I wanted to make it a bit more modern - taking inpiration from all the fab Victorian houses featured in magazines that I previously mentioned. But - and there is a but, I couldn't afford to pay for the original designer chairs that these rich folk had. I loved Eames chairs with all my heart - but not their hefty price tag. So I found this brilliant place called Interior Addict - where I bought 'reproduction copies' at a fraction of the price.

I sourced my dining table from a brilliant place called Pine Finders - who use old reclaimed wood to make made-to-measure tables/cabinets etc.  And voila:

Another pic - of Halloween (you can just make out the chairs):

I went for 3 chairs that were plain white - clean treat with my childrens' mucky hands all over them - and 3 of the wire/leather covered ones - to mix it up a bit. The room looks bigger and brighter I reckon. What I am really coveting is the rocking chair version for my bedroom.

I'm a big fan of white walls, colourful artwork and old furniture - maybe with modern reupholstry. Lots of funky cushions and candles. Whilst I'm really into a modern clean look - I can't live in a home that is a museum - or so damn minimalist that it is cold and uninviting. I want somewhere I can relax - and at the same time looks good. If you shop around you can keep the green eyed monster at bay, get your designer furniture at half the price and never let on they are reproductions. Who can tell the difference?


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Asking Oprah

In 4 weeks I will be 40.


I am slightly terrified by this event for many reasons, but mainly because I thought that I'd be you know, kind of sorted by 40. In my groove - on a career trajectory - when I kind of still have no idea where I am going... Should I try and do this, or that - but I don't really want to do what everyone else seems to be doing - which is what I should be doing if I want to be a script editor - but I don't know.. I just don't know. Mind you - I did hear this song on the radio the other day - some Baz Luhrmann thing about Everyone Should Wear Sunscreen - and he did say that lots of great people have no idea what they are doing at 25 - but the most interesting folk at 40 still had no clue. I'm sure Baz is a complete expert on this - and knows what he is talking about (can't wait for Gatsby!) so I must be WILDLY interesting. Beyond so.

Meanwhile folks keep asking what I'd like for a present... Not wishing to sound ungrateful, rude or downright spoilt - genuinely, these are the things I need in my life right now - but I am not that sure that all of them can be bought....

1. A great bra. Feck me, but I'm shoving my bazookas into worn 'old lady' bras (as Husband calls them). 'Flesh' coloured (the most offensive colour of all methinks) and rippling across the cup - these bad boys have been around longer than my 2 year old. It really is time that I got measured again - and supported in the way that women with a D+ cup need to be. At least bra off, they still remain upwards - but too much longer in these excuses for underwear/underwire and my nipples may hit my knees....

2. My hall painted and a new carpet. Dull, I know. But my daughter has 'brushed the teeth' of all the walls - and drawn on them. There are tea stains and an inexplicable white stain that looks like someone barfed and forgot to clear it up - that ironically was made when I borrowed a CARPET CLEANER from a friend. It is also all shades of cappuccino - i.e. WRONG. Every day I wish for a hall make-over. Every freakin' day.

3. More time in my day. For sleeping and reading articles and books I never get to read. And box sets I still have to watch (Game of thrones anyone? Oh and Breaking Bad).

4. The BLOODY FUCKING rain to stop. And the cold to bugger off too. So as I can get out running again. Oh yes - running socks! Need those. And the weather to get out and about in. At the mo all I want to do is eat Lindt Easter bunnies (meant for the kids, but ends up down my gullet) and drink tea. Or guzzle a hearty red. Enough winter - you have had your fun and games and now it is time to begone and let Spring damn well sprung.

5. I need a holiday fund to go away for a weekend with my girls from school - I have known forever - in a 'we are 40 but still can sink cocktails and laugh' way. To prove that mentally we are all 17 even if we don't quite look it. We have talked about this for years and 2 of them have saved every month (they are uber smug). I of course expected to win the lottery by now - and instead childcare at 1K per month that I solely pay - has just about ruined me. Bitter - no! In Germany childcare is 9% of a couple's wage. Here - 33.3%. Something is mighty wrong - but that is another whole blog....

6. I am just about to run out of foundation and perfume. Two things that are hard to justify spending money on - unless they are bought for you. Otherwise, even though I am (gulp) almost 40 and need some help in the 'smoothing out fine lines' department - and a daily spray of something fabulous always lifts the spirits - I can't quite justify spending £38 on the new Armani Maestro Fusion foundation just because India Knight swears by it. (Wasn't she swearing by £5 mineral foundation about a year ago? Maybe she just got a big pay check...).  In wicked timing - I also have sprouted two amazing spots - they are in line with each other on my face. They mock me as I stick Q tips into my foundation bottle, foraging for the last drips to cover these monstrosities.

7. A mentor. I would like someone to take me aside and have a word in my shell like - telling me what to do and what not to do. My own personal career's adviser. I'd make them great tea or a great martini. I would even stop talking and listen. It is possible, even though many doubt it.

8. Someone left a lovely comment on my blog saying that they liked my writing - I just need to find my audience. So I would like my audience for my birthday thanks.  More twitter followers and blog readers and all that jazz.... I actually am planning to tweet Oprah on the eve of my 40th, in the hope she takes pity on me, retweets my blog and before I know it - I am writing for lots of fabulous people - about anything and everything - and I finally have my calling. Then my mentor can go home and come back next time I have a career crisis. Ohhh maybe Oprah will want Crummy Mummy who Shrinks in her mag... That would be AWESOME. So Oprah retweeting me. Isn't much to ask for a 40th birthday, now is it?

Before you ask - I haven't smoked a reefer before I wrote this post - but it is a fair question at this point in reading...

9. A babysitter so Husband and I can go to the movies and catch up on all the films we never got to see. Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, etc. I did see the Latest Soderbergh at the weekend - and if you see him I'd like a refund please. Side effects was RIDICULOUS. The only good thing in it - was Catherine Zeta Jones' lipstick colour. Honestly.

10. A supermarket sweep trolley dash through ZARA for new clothes. I'm really a comfort dresser (i.e. a lazy dresser) so I don't need big fash-scion clothes - as I am never gonna wear them. but you know, a new top brings joy. It does. Something that fits across the bust, hides the stomach and 'brings out your eyes' is fairly priceless. And in Zara, it does come cheap.  As a kid I used to fantasise about being left overnight in the M & S food shop - whereupon I would eat lychees and their gooseberry fool desserts until they came out my ears. Now I dream of the same thing - in Zara. And me a stone lighter.

That's pretty much it. My car needs a good clean (inside) and I quite fancy a thumb ring (no euphemism there, sorry) but apart from that - there aint much I am after. I'm having a party - theme is Pimps and Hookers through the ages - so as long as folk turn up for that and throw some shapes to my dreadful (but brilliant) party tunes list - then I'll be stoked. At the end of the day, that's the main thing - having fun and buying folk who have stuck by me all these years a margarita or two. I wish I could buy you readers one too.

In the meantime - I'll trust Baz on the sunscreen....


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Get your skates on!

Today is Mother's Day and it has been perfect. Woken with big grins bearing cake and cards and breakfast in bed - tea and pancakes - and kisses. Sproglette wished me 'happy birthday' all day. I got taken for a slap up roast at Husband's work and had more hugs than I could wish for. Yet last night, well, it was my first glimpse into the future, and with that in mind, I write with a small lump in my throat.

I will explain: You see, last night I took Sproglet to his first ever Roller Disco. This is a watershed moment in anyone's life. the moment one laces up their day glo boots and strides out onto the busier than Hyde Park corner rink - ready to bust some skating moves.

Now the last time I was roller disco-ing was about ohhhhhhhhhhh 1983. 'The Big Apple' opened in Belfast to much fan fare and delight from anyone aged between 7 and 15. I genuinely thought Kagagoogoo's 'hit' song 'Life in the Big Apple' was dedicated to this darkened hall - replete with disco lights and a glitter ball. I will never forget an afternoon there with Joanne B and Linda B, when my dull Saturday was utterly transformed by the arrival of several boys from our class. After much cajoling, they agreed to skate around with us - only to fall on their asses. Colin and Allen were no natural skaters. They clung to the sides, unable to let go while we whizzed around, even using our stoppers. They were forced to hold sweaty hands with us - just to save themselves from breaking a limb.

This all came back to me last night when my 6 year old son shoved his feet into the lace up boots and then wobbled like a just-birthed foal. He was beyond excited and clearly expected to just pop on these skates and speed off. He was disappointed to discover that there is some skill required in standing, let alone skating on wheels - and so my mate K and I had to hold him up and drag him around the floor. Six year olds aren't light. My back was killing me as I struggled to stop him careering backwards, doing the comedy wobble back, forward, back and then Wham! Straight on the butt! I tried explaining he needed to stay straight and bend his knees and all that stuff - even putting wrist and shin pads on him for the predictable falling - but over the loud din of Girls Aloud, he wasn't really listening to me.

Bam! He went down. Bam! Bam! Bam! Even leaning against the wall proved futile. I was shattered - trying to balance in my own skates and keep him afloat was wearing me out. When he fell - again - he started to cry and announced he wanted to go home. Then an angel called Jane, wearing a florescent jacket with 'steward' on it - came over and whisked him off round the rink - just twice - and returned to me a confident kid who wanted to let go off my hand and skate alone.

My baby duckling was pushing me off - going it alone to paddle through the speed skaters and conga loving train of giggling girls. Round and round he went - baby steps, not so much 'skating' than 'surviving.' Then I noticed his (ex?) 'girlfriend' there with her parents. She sped over to Sproglet - grabbed his hand and off they went - another girl in tow. They went round and round - picking him up after ever fall - eventually the other girl gave up gooseberrying and disappeared. So Sproglet skated hand in hand with his girl-friend as I watched at the side.

My little boy was practically all growed up! At 6! In that moment, sidelined, I saw the future. A future filled with his little heart being mashed to a pulp by girls that will skate in and out of his life... And some other girl will pick him up from those falls - and it won't be me. (Sob!).

But amidst all this self-indulgent mourning, was pride. Within an hour he was skating alone - confident, happy and loving life with his buddies. His Father only made it once round the Rockefeller ice rink in New York on our honeymoon and then announced he was done (having fallen over so many times much to the joy of the a packed restaurant, watching his every clumsy move). Sproglet was braver. As we left, he asked if he could get his own skates - and begged to come back. He waved goodbye to his chums and beamed. Then he reached for my hand and I took it, leading him out the doors and home. I held it tighter than usual. I'll be holding it extra tight from now on, until the time comes, when he wants me to let go. When he'll skate off on his own journey. Here's hoping it takes a while...



Monday, 4 March 2013


On Sunday afternoon Husband offered me the chance to go to the movies, read a book, do whatever I I wanted - just have some ME time.

I immediately went to bed. Curling up under my uber soft duvet, eye mitts on and ear plugs in, I drifted off into a peaceful, unbroken slumber. I awoke two hours later feeling like a new woman. This sadly, rarely happens. There was a time in my life where I regularly cat-napped. I'd come home from school, dump my schoolbag in the hallway and hit the sheets. I'd wake just in time for dinner. When I went to Uni, as often as I could, I'd squeeze in a little afternoon siesta.

Maybe I have European blood, and my natural body clock tries to force me out of the midday heat and into a nice cool daybed... Maybe I'm slightly more vampire than I realise... Maybe I'm just addicted to bed?

So, it's always been important to me to have somewhere uber comfy to rest my head. A piece of advice I was once given: get a good pair of shoes, and a good mattress - because you're either in one or t'other. Now, I haven't always adhered to this when it comes to beds (in student days and flat shares my mattresses were 'soft' to say the least) or indeed shoes. But the older I get (did I mention I turn 40 in 6 weeks - yikes) the more important I feel it is, to take this rule to heart.

Leaving shoes to one side (after all, some are designed merely to admire rather than for the purpose of walking - and as a woman, I am totally down with that - I call them 'taxi only' shoes), I thought I'd give you my bed lowdown, in case like me it is your favourite place on earth.

A good mattress may be down to personal taste - springs or memory foam, sponge foam, latex or waterbed? When we moved house 5 years ago, I plumped for memory foam, as I was tired of husband rolling into me - his weight greater and therefore him forcing the mattress to go lower and me constantly being rolled into him, like an unwanted guest constantly banging on the door at a party. (At first it was cute but after a while, not so much).

I'd heard that they take the shape of your body and so give greater support and ultimate comfort. Which they do - but Husband thinks they make him a bit well, hot. But for me, the support is second to none. The difficulty was trying to sort out what exactly I needed from a mattress - all the descriptions are so damn confusing... I went to this shop and lay down on every mattress in the there. Asked a million questions. Husband disowned me - he stood at the door pretending to take important calls. In the end, yes, I picked the most expensive one. But I could also have gone here : Oldrids and Downtown (a business started over a hundred years ago) or indeed here

Next up - a good duvet. All that tog business is a bit confusing - but ultimately here in the freezing UK you should be going about 4 for summer (what summer?) and 12 for winter.  I went for this one - which feels uber soft - but then, it is in cased in a duvet cover anyway - so why need the duvet itself to be soft? Duvet cover and sheets wise - if like me, you live in a hard water area - your linen is never as soft and delicious to touch as if you live in Ireland or somewhere that has soft water (no matter how much fabric conditioner you chuck in the wash) - but the key to a comfy sleep - is Egyptian cotton. Whilst I dream of owning these White Company ones, instead I got mine from Dunelm. It changed my life, honestly. I had never climbed into something silky smooth and relentlessly soft. Being enveloped in utter comfort.

Lastly - you need a good pillow. Personally I like something you can wash - all that drool seeps in the pillow itself, and no amount of pillow case washing will do. You can always count on good old John Lewis can't you? I have no idea why snow goose down is so ridiculously expensive - but me and feathers don't mix that well - so a cheaper, flatter pillow does me just fine. Some folk like to sleep like the princess on the pea, their pillows are so damn high - but I like 'em better when the life has been knocked out of them a bit. I've never really tried a memory foam pillow - or an orthopaedic one - but who knows, I may be missing out.

There is no point in me spending a fortune on fancy bedding - as my kids dive on my bed, my duaghter has pooed and weed on it at varipus stages of her young life - and last week she found a biro pen and proceeded to draw all across it. When they are older, I'll maybe invest in some quality stuff. I dream of bedrooms like the below pic - all serenity and soft lighting. In reality I have a mound of unread books and newpapers by my bed in a tidy if somewhat chaotic pile;  I rarely find matching pillow cases, and often ear plugs and eye mitts are discovered in the crevices; serenity it is not. Still,  Husband often complains the duvet is too hot - likewise the mattress - and he storms off to the basement. Hurrah! And then I have it all to myself.

My own little oasis of bliss. Quite honestly, there is nowhere I'd rather be. Goodnight!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Reclaim The Curse.

The other day I glanced at my Tampax box (super plus in case you are wondering) and noticed that they were advertising another type of tampon on the side. This tampon was in a smaller applicator and they described this as 'discreet.' Being discreet about one's feminine hygiene products must therefore be a good thing.

I felt a surge of anger. Why do we have to be discreet? What is so shameful or embarrassing about having Flo come to town?

All of a sudden it was May '88 and I was in the back of Jeremy Hall's brother's car - getting a lift home from a party. I was 15 and I'd been naughty and glugged down some vile paint stripper type wine with two buddies before my mate Colin's party. The wine had hit me harder than I'd expected and I'd ended up kissing a boy sitting on top of a compost pile and my reward for such endeavours was him giving me a purple hickey on my neck, roughly the size of a 50p piece. Classy, I know.

But this all wasn't the worst part of the whole episode. No, that happened when I was sober in class assembly the following Monday. Jeremy, god bless him, subtly tried to return my Tampax holder (a long blue plastic case that I'd got free with a box of tampons at some stage) that held two Tampax. I'd left it in his brother's car. For some reason, I pretended it wasn't mine - just point blank denied all knowledge of owning such an item. Which was ridiculous, as it clearly didn't belong to Jeremy. Then my two so-called buddies pipped up 'But you had your period that night. It IS yours.' The whole class turned to see what all the fuss was about and suddenly I had 28 pairs of eyes boring into me - was the Tampax holder really MINE? Still I denied ownership. Thankfully the bell rang and we all scuttled off to class and I'd lost my Tampax holder forever. I don't think I stopped blushing until lunchtime.

'Tampaxgate' as I called it, haunted me for years and I vowed to be much more careful with my feminine products.

But this makes me furious. Where was I conditioned to believe periods where a thing to hide from view? A secret between a woman and her pants? God forbid someone sees us buying feminine hygiene products - and actually while we are here - why are they called 'feminine hygiene products?' It isn't about hygiene - it is about trapping blood loss. Let's not dress it all up.

Why all the shame and embarrassment? Bleeding is as natural as eating, and yet there is such a stigma attached to it. Only the other week a colleague lambasted me for brazenly opening my bag and lifting forth a Tampax on route to the loo. Here is my issue: we are on this planet because your Mother bled monthly (well anywhere between 26 and 42 days I'm guessing) and every other person on this planet over 11/12 (I was 14 when mine started) and under 55 (??) is bleeding monthly too.  So why the secrecy?

I wish I could get T-shirts printed : 'Beware, I'm on my jams.' I would happily distribute these to all and sundry. Although, I hate perpetuating the myth that all women are byactches on their periods. This is a fallacy. I am sometimes demonic prior to blood loss, and then become all needy and nauseating as soon as the curse arrives. But in general, women aren't mental on their periods - they have a better sense of smell, have greater sexual desire and are often more attractive then (and around ovulation. Mother nature was pretty clever).   

There's another thing - all the names for periods: Flo, painters in, red rag week, on my jams, the curse, on the blob, vampire's lollipops, BJ week and 'muff on a leash.' Clearly these have all been christened by a man. They all make a period something wrong, damned, a frustrating occurrence. Why the hate? I mean guys, trust me, it ain't no picnic for us - so why do you get to complain about it?

Menstruation is normal. All the pain, tiredness, sickness, backache, headaches, spots and other symptoms vary from (unlucky) woman to woman. But we should be able to talk about this much more openly than we are. Some women suffer so badly, they blackout with pain. Then there is the massive expense - all the products we use - with wings, pearl applicators (why pearl - you won't be wearing these things, will you?) different absorbency's etc - all cost a fortune. I have no idea why these aren't available for free - even a basic kind for those who cannot afford the more expensive brand. They are not 'luxury' products - they are a necessity - unless you want puddles of blood on the tube/bus/restaurant? I genuinely wish we could all rebel and (as my friend M suggested once) throw a 'period reclaiming' day where we all just openly bleed - and then once public transport have footed the bill, they would then decide to allow free products for all women.

And buying these 'luxuries' is (for some folk) an arduous task. What if a man is at the till? What if you bump into a friend/neighbour? (As I did the other week - buying sanitary towels, an orange, some nuts and a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon - I fancied an old fashioned, what can I say? The neighbour said you can tell a lot about someone by their shopping. I guess that makes me a bleeding alchy. Fine). Here is the thing. Bumping into a neighbour buying nipple clamps or maximum strength pile cream - fair enough, is a bit well, cringy. But sanitary stuff? Husband was a bit mortified (he refuses to buy me such products - apart from the time I had his son - and then I demanded he bought me nipple shields and maternity pads (let's face it, it was the least he could do). I wasn't embarrassed at all. I bleed, what's the big deal? And, I drink quality bourbon. If he'd caught me buying Jack Daniels - now that would have been embarrassing.

I wish we shared more about periods, PMT, products, overflow (ruined sheets, or is that just me?) and all that jazz. Maybe if we did, we'd teach our kids not to be ashamed about something natural and normal. I'm not suggesting we all make cards by the full moon using our menstrual blood (as one girl I knew did) as that is just a wee bit icky. But striding to the staff loo, tampon in hand - should be utterly fine. There is no shame. We are healthy, we are bleeding. We survive.

And Jeremy, if your bro still has my holder - it'd be great to get it back. Thanks.