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