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.