Wednesday, 31 December 2014

And so to 2015

When I was little I used to have a recurring nightmare: the world was a blank white space, with small islands dotted around. The islands were made up of black and white dots - the kind you see on a broken television screen. As I stepped onto one island, they would begin to shrink at a speedy rate. I had to jump across the huge void onto another island to save myself, whereupon it too would start to shrink. I would wake from these dreams, gasping for air - my hair stuck to my forehead, my heart racing. I could never stand still, never get any peace. 

Last week, I dreamt it again.


Whilst many have been keen to see the back of 2014, for me, it will always be memorable: for the trips away with friends, the joy of writing for a living, for getting time with my kids. for my Dad visiting for the first time in 23 years and obviously for seeing Prince. So tonight is New Years. Normally it is my least favourite event on a calendar - all that enforced merriment just makes me uneasy. They key is to doing absolutely nothing or seeing old friends - those preferably with kids - so you can all give up the hope of ever getting them to bed and just drink prosecco until you pass out. That is what I did last new years and what I shall be doing tonight. For all those who showed me amazing hospitality this year - I am eternally grateful. Nothing on earth is as great as breaking fresh hot bread with those you feel most comfortable with. Washed down with a bucket of red. 

Xmas this year - the day itself, was lovely - but I may well cancel it in future. Or do my damnedest to avoid it. Forgive me as I don my Grinch costume - but all that expense and over indulging and endless cheer - well, by the time Xmas actually came, I was over it. I think - after one more home Xmas, I shall be on a plane on Xmas day every year - jetting to warmer climes, and avoiding the month of sundays between Xmas and New Year. Those days get me every year. Blank days where kids are on a post xmas comedown and every day there is a joyful text from Lloyds reminding me I am on or near my overdraft limit. Of course I am - it's fecking Christmas! Seeing Santa, Winter Wonderland, meals out, Xmas gatherings all draining funds as we fruitlessly strive for that elusive 'Xmas feeling.'

I shall no more be hunting it. Whoville be damned. 


Usually I loathe making NY's resolutions - as they seem a guaranteed way to fail before the year has begun. So I'm gonna try and keep it less resolution and more hopes for the year. Firstly dry January is calling me. Mind you, it is a LONG old month so it may have to shut it's mouth by Jan 10th. I'm going to try and give a lot less of a monkey's what folk think. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing - having proper careers for example, because I am rowing my own boat and it is a different wee ship. I'm where I want to be - almost - and I have my own marathon to run and all those fabulous cliches. I expend far too much energy worrying why my kid wasn't invited to a party or if the neighbours think our hedge is too overgrown or if people think I am a fool and a failure and at the end of the day it doesn't matter what folk thinks - it matters how I FEEL. How someone else is living their life has absolutely no bearing on mine - so why compare? 

This year will be my one of graft. That excites me. Having goals and challenges is the way forward - life is too short to stand still. I may blog less, live more. If I didn't have to share my blogging work on Facebook I'd have shut that one down a while ago. Whilst I love seeing old school friends looking great with their families, and hearing how old colleagues are jetting off on hols etc there are some status updates that make me want to unfriend someone I previously liked. I am certain my endless parade of articles causes folk to feel the same... It is time to set down technology and run out into the sunshine - let's hope for as glorious a summer as the one we have just had.

So - dance away 2014 and have high hopes for 2015. You never know what is around the corner...

CM xxx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Finally Festive

Finally I feel festive! It bloody well took long enough. What did it? A friend giving me a fabulous wreath, (see above) donating to charidee and my 21 year old neighbour (home from Uni) and I supping prosecco and having a good gossip in my local gastropub. Catching up with folk who are 'home for the holidays' always reminds you that it is indeed the holidays and we should start feeling Xmassy.

I've just about recovered from the X factor final - which on reflection, is the slickest production I have ever seen in my life. A military style choreographed spectacle that presses buttons marked 'CRY NOW' and 'CHEER' and we the obliging audience both in the flesh and on our sofas at home, do as we are told. It practically tells us when we can go to loo. (Interestingly Mel B never did - not once did she move from the judges' desk and when she finally had to leave - show being over - she was helped as if she was an old lady. Something odd going down there fo' sho'). Then there was the after party where I ran around shouting 'Stereo Kicks' to any young boy who walked past, (as friend who brought me hasn't watched the show so knew who no one was and I ever helpful, was keen to explain) only to be told, 'No, we are the $%XCT& band who got thrown out in week 1.'

Oh. Oops.

At 1am there was no way I was gonna make it home from Wembley Arena's Hilton hotel, not when I had just drunk my 10th glass of red and was eating some delicious goulash (well what else do you eat after a night on burgers, nachos, prawn cocktails and festive shortbread?)  - so I crashed at my friend's - furiously texting Husband that he had to do the school run. The next day I wasn't at my most productive. But I did get to bond with Fleur's Dad and meet her (the real winner of X Factor 2014 because if anyone says Panto next year and then back to the white van, it is Ben Hay-NOW).

Xmas TV hasn't really kicked in (about from Black Mirror - good but not the greatest one methinks, sorry - that be the one that Charlie Brooker didn't actually write... ) so instead I have been emotionally ravaged by the incredible The Missing. I sobbed so much in the final that my son had to come downstairs and hug me, while I necked red wine and pretended to be fine. memo to self - dramas on child abduction aren't ever gonna have happy ending). James Nesbitt that was your finest hour. I also spent an evening writing Xmas cards - something I don't intend to ever do again. Next year you shall all get an email, and I will donate to charity. But enough PLEASE of this total waste of time and money. All the cards I have received are lovely - but my kids have come home with a million teeny tiny cards the size of postage stamps and every time a door opens they scatter to the floor like confetti. I HATE THEM. Enough. Plus stamps cost a fortune (er... have I mentioned this?) and you just bin them all come Jan. I say let's give up this tragic tradition and all give money to something worthwhile instead. So if you got a card from me - enjoy, it is your last. I say this with love and festive greetings of course.

Finally I have moved onto bitter street, as I alone appear not to have a festive jumper. It seems obligatory now to sport Santa or a festive scene of reindeers shagging on one's chest. I have nothing - apart from a jumper I loved with two squirrels on it. Worn proudly to work once I was dubbed 'squirrel tits' so it now resides at the back of my wardrobe. Girls with boobs can't really do festive jumpers - or you just end up looking like a giant Xmas pudding.

So on Xmas eve you will find me at 8am doing a mad trolley dash with my mate to get the grub in for Xmas day. On the day itself we are having neighbours in for fizz and bacon sarnies, then a pub stop off to see buddies and then to another friend's house for the slap up meal. The day after we are heading off to more friends to eat (what else?) turkey sarnies in floury baps and steal our kids' toblerones. So a drinking and eating marathon as always. Maybe I should dig out some old maternity trousers so I have something to wear that fits...

Whatever you are doing: getting on a plane (show off) staying at your Ma's, meeting up with old schoolmates in the local pub and regretting the ten years you sent lusting after Colin Webster as he is now bald and bigger and than Santa, or trying to build fifty million Santa toys on Xmas eve when you are slightly pissed, please have a fabulous one. Thanks for reading, commenting, sending me private emails or abusive texts about this blog. I always aim for a reaction, so it is thrilling when I get one.

Merry Xmas love CM xxx

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Who can we trust?

Just over a week ago, I met with a whistleblower. Let's call him Bill. Bill was or maybe still is, a police officer, who back in 2004 uncovered connections between VIP people in power and the systematic sexual abuse of children in care. The deeper he dug, the murkier the waters became. To his horror, his main witness suddenly died and his senior officers told him that funding into his investigations was to cease. He was advised to forget what he knew and move on.

Bill wore the expression of a man who knows such horrors he can barely sleep at night. He was jumpy, paranoid, with a pale pallor and rings under his eyes. Why did I meet him? I had discussed the  recent news of Theresa May opening an enquiry into the alleged abuse of children by a VIP paedophile ring with a police friend of mine. (May has yet to find anyone to chair this inquiry as both people she put in place have had to step down due to their 'establishment' links.... Will this inquiry be botched due to 'lost' evidence and witness accounts? Will it go nowhere like the 1984 dossier? Can we trust May to see this through to the bitter end??). My buddy casually mentioned an old colleague of hers - saying that he was disillusioned with the police and had been told to keep his mouth shut if he wanted to keep his job many years back. I asked to meet with him, hoping to persuade him to take his story to Exaro - the online newspaper that appears to be one of the only media outlets who actively want to cover this story. The mainstream media have barely touched it.

We talked for almost 3 hours, during which I broke down in tears. We were discussing an 8 year old child who went missing the day of the Royal Wedding in 1981. I was 8 that year too. His father was telephoned weeks after his son went missing, and told that he had been taken to the Elm Guest house, where he had been killed. Some of his remains were found a year later. No one has ever been charged with his murder.

I thought somehow, that talking to Bill, maybe writing up his story, would somehow contribute to the pressure that must be applied to seek out justice for these children. The tragedy is that many of the abused kids - now adults - have turned to drugs or crime as a way to obliterate all they have endured and therefore will be discredited witnesses. The most sickening aspect of this whole story is that those in power, those with links to the Royals, MPs, high up police and judges - they preyed upon the forgotten children in society: those whose parents had died, who had no one fighting their corner. They were used like pieces of meat. They had no one to tell.

Bill's story was a mixture of paranoid bizarre theories, truth, first hand evidence and suspicion. Therein lies the problem: so many people have hidden in the shadows - unable to tell their story so the only places they can turn to are the areas of the media which allow conspiracy theories to flourish. What is fact gets blurred with fiction and it is hard to know the real raw truth in it all. But certainly, the dossier written by Geoffery Dickins in 1984 and given to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan, that was mysteriously 'lost' must come to light. Those who have spent years protected by their rank and connections, must now pay. They must be named and shamed. Operation Fairbank, Operation Midland have all been opened to try and get to the bottom of what happened at the Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square. But if the police have allegedly covered up these grotesque rings for years, what results will we get now? Just more cover ups? Or someone hung out to dry whilst others remain anonymous - having literally got away with murder - the murder of children?

The tentacles of this whole sickening operation are far reaching: government, police, media, social services, all complicit in the abuse of children. Those who kept their heads down for fear of losing their jobs are just as guilty. Anyone who doesn't come forward with what they know, is every bit as culpable as those who have blood on their hands.

There is nothing that upsets me more than the abuse of children. They are the most innocent and vulnerable members of society - none more so than those in care. Bill wants justice for them - the those whose voices have never been heard. For those who are brave enough to speak out, when years ago they never could. For those whose lives have been shattered because of the horror they endured. For their loss of childhood, for their loss of themselves.

Bill has a good team of journalists, supporters, charity bosses etc around him. Thankfully he is not a lone wolf speaking out about what he knows, what he has witnessed. He is passionate and determined - disgusted at those retired officers who only now are speaking out, NOW that they have fat pensions and security, do they spill the tragedies they knew of. He thinks they are cowards and I agree.

That night I took my 8 year old son swimming; as I dried his small frame I noticed how tiny he is. How fragile. I started to quietly cry at the thought of anyone harming a single hair on his head. That night I barely slept. I felt sick to my core. My stomach churned with all I had heard and I couldn't shake this overwhelming sense of sadness. Two good friends listened and helped me put all I had heard in perspective.

The next day Husband hugged me tightly and let me weep on his shoulder. I just couldn't comprehend the cruelty in the world, as cliched as that sounds. I didn't write up Bill's story - that is his to tell. I didn't lead him to any journalists - he has them ready and waiting. There was nothing for me to do. Except this. Share it on my blog. Ask anyone who knows anyone who ever was in care, who was ever abused, to speak out, get help - you will be believed. I hope that in 2015 these vile bastards get exposed and the punishments they deserve. May the victims get some resolution, some peace. It is the least they deserve.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sober is the new Drunk

This may just be the smuggest post I have ever written.

I write this, sipping hot builders tea (obligatory bag still in cup) lying in bed, feeling damn fresh. It is unusual in the frantic festive season for me to feel this way. Normally I'm throwing water down my neck, my head pounding, a foggy mist of confusion settling across my brow; my stomach folding into knots as I hastily try and patch together the events of the night before: did I REALLY say that? Oh god, was I holding court? Did I throw shapes alone on the dance floor or drag the intern on to the floor by his tie? Is that vomit in my hair? Where is my other shoe? Fuck, is my phone in the taxi - panic panic - oh no, it is here - in my knicker drawer, where I carefully thought to place it at 2am.... etc. etc.

*Shudders at the memory*

You see all that alcohol - it does no good. Now you feel wonderful at the time, all buzzy and beyonce like. But then what begins as a mellow good feeling lurches into the blurry territory of 'must get as much down my neck as is humanly possible' (or the old 'one more for the road, one for the ditch') and before you know it, you have rocketed into tragic sad woman land. I have been there. MANY TIMES. I could write the book on drunken exploits. If only I could remember what happened.

But now I get to watch everyone else make twats of themselves: lumber around, drinks spilling everywhere trying to strike up conversations with strangers; getting smoochy with the office letch; raucously laughing that little bit too hard at their boss's jokes; dancing 'sexily' in a way that suggests they are about to have a seizure; boring folk rigid with another tale about how fabulous they are; unleashing bitterness at the cards life has dealt them; revealing their usually well-concealed jealousy at their best friend's career etc etc etc.

I haven't given up the booze completely. Dear god no. I am a mother - how would I cope without my little helper? More, that I am PACING myself through the Xmas marathon. Monday's comedy with Louise Omielan wouldn't have been as completely amazing as it was, had I been too hammered to fully appreciate her sharp observations. A Mums' Xmas gathering would have been a stage for me to humiliate myself with 'over sharing' had I not stuck to prosecco all evening. (Come to think of it, maybe telling my story of kissing a 17 year old who worked in a cookie store when I was 27** wasn't advisable.  But it could have been SO much worse...

I wouldn't have been able to recall all the lovely catch up convos I had with old colleagues at a leaving do, had I not been on the diet coke all night. If I get trollied on Sunday I won't remember all the fabulous jumpers Andrea will be sporting as he loses in the X FACK-TOR final... So sticking to the not-so-hard stuff actually enhances your evening's experience. For one thing, you can remember everything the next day - and you don't have to watch the episode of The Missing again, because ironically you missed most of it having consumed the guts of a bottle of red wine. (Also, you won't look at your phone and remember you found you had James Nesbitt's phone number from 11 years ago and decided to call it to check it was still a number - and then text him telling him how fabulous his performance was - only for him to ring you back wondering who the feck is calling him at 11:20pm on a school night... How you had to remind him of the time you and he got trashed until 4am and he escorted you home in a cab... Not looking like a stalker much at all. No).

It is cheaper, wiser and healthier to abstain. Ok, it is duller. I will grant you that. Alcohol is a social lubricant, making it easier to recall all the Facebook status updates you have read from the person standing in front of you - and you trawl through them, using them as conversation openers. It also helps if you are still there 20 minutes later, all update material used, tumbleweeds rolling past - because being pissed, you just don't see them. Sober, it all becomes like an episode of The Office.

The morning after is a whole new ball game. A clear head means work can be done; you happily guzzle down your nutri-bulleted shake bursting with spinach and flaxseeds without gagging at the first mouthful. You aren't standing in Waitrose, like someone on day release, blankly staring at the food aisles, thinking 'what did I come here for?' You aren't asking buddies/colleagues to fill in the blanks and then crawling under your desk to hide from the shame of their revelations. You aren't crafting apology emails and ordering flowers for your spouse who had to help you through the front door as you 'couldn't find' your key that was in your HAND, who then helped you undress, and eventually slept in the spare room as your alcohol fumes nearly knocked him out.

Nope, the slate is clean, your head is clear, a whole new day dawns without a well of regret opening up before you. Ahhh. Feels good. I may keep this up longer. Become horrifically smug and sanctimonious. Hold on, I think I'm there already. Must dash, my nutri-bullet is calling me.

(**HE TOLD ME HE WAS 20!!!!).

Monday, 8 December 2014

4 and Fabulous

The Diva turned 4. In true diva fashion she had 2 cakes - an Emmet from the Lego movie and a red velvet number. She had a party, shared, with a cute boy, and came home with more gifts than in Santa's sack. Also she found time to nip into the school fair and get her make up done, reindeer style.

Well, it's what every discerning fashionista will be sporting this festive season....

Thursday, 4 December 2014

All I want for Christmas....

Ho Ho Ho. Have you got your festive cheer on yet? Not sure I have - but December promises to be a pretty facking great month for many many reasons. Firstly Sproglette turns 4 on Saturday, so someone will be wired to the gills on sugar and racing around like a mad thing. And I don't mean the kid. Sunday is the Paddington movie (again, I think I am more excited than the children) and the annual tree decorating.

The week after is a mixture of nativity plays, leaving dos, Xmas drinks dos, a comedy night seeing Luisa Omielan, a 40th and a trip to the old X FACTOR final. If I am standing by next Monday, it will be nothing short of a miracle. I'm hoping by then, that with all the twinkly lights dotted about, plus enough mulled wine, I shall feel more Xmassy than Rudolph.

It has got me thinking what I want for Xmas - which is.... nada. Seriously. Husband is buying me The MOTH book (I went last night to this NYC originated story telling show and it was nothing short of brilliant - I laughed and cried in equal measure) and that is truly all I want. I hate all the consumer bullshit of Xmas - shouldn't it be about the food and cheer and love for fellow man, than about Jo Malone candles and fucking cashmere sweaters? Fuck buying gifts, bake someone cookies instead. (In truth my bestest gift of last year? My neighbour brought me an exquisitely wrapped box filled with her home made meringues - AMAZING. It meant far more than any perfume or trinket).

Now you may think I've gone a bit soft in the head - but after one particular story I heard last night at the fantastic Moth gig - I came away thinking that every day is special. A chance to do this one better. And how lucky we all are to have it.

So - my wish list for Xmas and 2015:

No. 1 I'd like all the friends I know who are struggling with trying to find work, or change careers, or make a bold move into a new field, to be able to take that flying leap. To get the promotions and jobs they deserve. There are so many wasted folk who are brimming with talent and yet never get to shine - and it is downright criminal. Let 2015 be their year - the one that changes everything.

No. 2 In a similar vein, I'd like all my single buddies - the ones who aren't on tinder shagging anything with a pulse - to meet someone. I know some AMAZING women (and two men) - all hot, funny, super smart and generous to a fault - and all are single. Yet I know many assholes who are taken... Odd. So I hope that at the book store, or while they buy Xmas gifts, or sing Old Lang Syne that their eyes meet with a handsome stranger and that is it - boom! I'm a romantic at heart, and in this cold weather there is nothing better than watching crappy films with someone stroking your hair.

No. 3.  I'd like any one of you that has read a single blog post this year of mine - or more, (and I thank you for it) and enjoyed it - maybe even chuckled, to dip into your pocket (I know I know, I'm ANOTHER person asking for money) and give as little as a £5 to this.  It is The Kids Company - and they want to give vulnerable children a Christmas. The film they made showing that to some kids, Christmas day is just another Thursday, is heart breaking. All donations will go towards The Kids Company creating a winter wonderland filled with toys, games, a Santa's grotto and a hot Xmas dinner. So, please, no matter what other charities you are giving to - please give to this one. It doesn't matter how little - but to those receiving, it is a lot. Thank you readers - you are a lovely generous fabulous bunch. X

No. 4 I'd like there to be some great writers' room, where writers can go and hot desk and chat like the one in New York. Because we don't have anything like it here in the UK - and writing is a lonely old business. I miss chin wagging with my old work mates - which was pretty much all I ever did at work - so I would like to have one of these pop up so I can work and then chat, work and then chat. Obvs more work than chat... *straight face*

No. 5 I'd like to continue to have good health all through 2015, and for all I know and love to have the same.

No. 6 There are too many news stories that make me feel frustrated and angry with their injustice and inhumanity - to pick just one to wish resolution for. I'm not religious at all, but I have private prayers and hopes - and I wish nothing but success for all those who are struggling to make a difference, who are campaigning and raising awareness to the plights of others.

No. 7 Finally, my only wish for myself is that the seeds I have sowed in 2014 - will bear fruit in 2015. That I'll continue to enjoy trips and dinners and afternoons and film dates and coffees and A LOT of cake with all of those I care about. My friends and family have been my heroes of 2014 - and sorry to break it to you lot, but I expect more of the same in 2015.

Feck me, if I aint feeling all festive and a bit misty eyed now. Now where's my Now Thats What I Call Christmas mix tape?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

All I want for Christmas.... are these Hobbs boots.

I can die happy, sleep easy and all the rest.

The worlds most perfect boots have been invented. Congratulation Hobbs - what a brilliant job. The said boots are calling to me - and I covet them more than ANY other item I have desired this year. Or maybe any year since I asked Santa for a Girls World in 1981 aged 8.  (I washed the model's hair and dried it - then found the instructions with 'DO NOT BLOWDRY HAIR OF TOY' after the event - when hair was more knotted than a seaman's rope and the toy was alas ruined, within 12 hours of it arriving. *Sighs*

Please look at these boots. If you are a size 39 do not buy them - that is my size. These boots say winter walks' and 'quality leather' and 'last forever.' They say, 'CM, this Xmas is a lean one, but with these, everything will be well in your world. You can walk over anything in them.' There is no hurdle that CANNOT be climbed in these beauties.

If only I were famous, I would ring up Hobbs - or rather my lackey assistant would - and they would persuade them to grant me the boots and I would wear them daily and shout from the rooftops about how fabulous they are. They are similar to a pair of Tory Burch ones that I mentioned in an Xmas blog of the past.

Anyway, I hope you lovely readers all get what you ask for. I shall content myself in this lean Xmas year, with great food and festivities - because that after all, is what it is all about.

Well, it is. Of course. It just would be even lovelier with these stars on my plates of meat. Ahhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Things I have learnt this week #367

No. 1 Gin is not your friend. You may think that a coupla doubles will simply mellow you into an evening, giving you that secure yet relaxed feeling of unwinding. Then you'll think a long evening on singles will increase the buzz BUT will still keep you safe. It won't. Gin is a mother's ruin for a reason: it RUINS you.

No. 2 Drinking said gin all evening when it is your first ever night out with the Mums from your daughter's nursery class isn't a good idea. The result is they get a FULL ON, undiluted CM experience: the one replete with holding court, making the cute barman admit that he once YEARS ago called you a MILF (gawd bless him) and demanding a lock in - until the cute barman is forced to offer you a round of free drinks the next time you come in - if you will only just LEAVE.

No. 3 The next day you will be unable to move, save for wandering in a daze towards your child's school reeking of booze and then stumbling onto your sofa, where you will remain, for a lost, soulless day when your head will swim and your eyes will water and you will feel violently ill if someone dares to offer you food of any kind. Damn them.

No. 4 Don't start listening to Serial one morning, because that day, well it will be spent doing NOTHING as well, save listening to Serial. All day. Because it is gripping, informative, frightening, shocking and goes at a faster pace than the road runner. Sarah Koenig is a master broadcaster and each episode I swing between 'is he innocent?' 'He MUST be guilty?' and everything in between. I am suspicious of Jay's story, I think Adnan Syed sounds utterly convincing - so he is either innocent of a total psycho - but which?

No. 5 Xmas isn't going to go away, even if you try to avoid it and it's twinkly hands. It is coming, like it or not, so start making those lists and face the fact you are going to haemorrhage money between now and January the 1st.

No. 6 A waiting email inbox never boils. :(

No. 7 There is nothing better in the world that hot chocolate with marshmallows. It is almost worth having winter to delight in eating hot choccy on a daily basis. By this rate I may well have a bigger belly than Santa by the 25th...

No. 8 Scrap number 6 - there IS something better than hot chocolate - it is buddies. (I am sober, but forgive me for this soppy moment). This year more than any other, I have appreciated my friends. My trips away with them, my dinners at their houses, them trundling to mine (often with kids in tow) and meeting me for movies or chat - you have all been absolutely scrumptious. Even those who have mainly been online chums - I thank you. This year would have been a cold lonely one, without all your cheer. This week a friend invited me to the theatre, another for Boxing Day and another is coming over to plot our Xmas day plans - our families joining together. This festive season promises to end on the same defining note of this year: me grateful for all the colourful, fun lot that enrich my days.

No. 9 Now imagine me on Gin. Imagine just how GUSHY I can become. You see Gin, it is not your friend. No matter how tasty and bitter and edgy it is. It hates you - even more the next day too. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Why shopping at Gap is anything but relaxing....

Confession: I worked at Gap for almost a year back in 1994-95. I won 'regional employee of the month' whereupon they tried to make me take a Gap voucher as my reward. Needing some Chanel foundation I refused and insisted upon a Fenwicks voucher instead. I knew my ACE steps (approach, close and end the sale) and shoplifting prevention: that folk tend to steal mainly from the fitting rooms and at the front of the store. Me, I know my GAP onions... so when I go back to the store, I expect the same kind of service with a cheery smile that I gave all those years ago. (Once, I got a woman who hadn't worn jeans for ten years, and was a size 22 plus, a fab pair of men's jeans and she tipped me a fiver in thanks).

So on Sunday I swung by Gap in Watford as my Mum had bought me a pair of jeans in Medium in Gap Belfast. Medium is UK 10-12 US 6-8 and I am UK 8-10 US 4-6. So they were too big. The store didn't have any in size small. (Although as small is 6-8 US 2-4 chances are my butt wouldn't have got into them). 

So I said, no worries, can you refund my Mum?

Gap said: Nope. As your Mum is in Northern Ireland and we can't put money on the card without the card owner there. 

I get that, so I said, can you give me a credit note and I will use it online to get the jeans I want? 

Gap said: No again.  The online company is different to the in store, so if we gave you a credit note you couldn't use it online. (Which is odd as Zara for example - if you take something back and they don't have it in the right size - refund you on a card that you CAN use online. Which seems a normal way to do things).

Ok, so can you order in my jeans and I can pick them up here? 

Gap said: No. We don't offer that service. 

So Gap - what can you offer me? 

Gap said: Well we can give you a credit note which you can use in other Gaps. 

Yes but I don't live anywhere near other Gaps, so that is useless to me... and what if all my local surrounding stores don't have the item I want in? Do I just spend my days driving from Gap to Gap in the hope of finding my jeans? 

Gap said: Yes pretty much. 

I said: Gap I would rather gauge out my eyes than shop in your store again. Instead I will now post said jeans back to my poor Mother who will have to go into Belfast again and take the jeans back. Meanwhile I'll go to Topshop who will give me superior service and I'll get a pair of jeans that will fit. 

Which I did. Moral of the story - for an unhelpful shopping experience, go to Gap. It sure aint what it was back in '95 (and your jeans wall sure aint folded like it was in my day). 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014



I am in a ferociously bad mood. I am certain it is PMT. Soon, soon this will be a thing of the past. But until then, until I start taking the contraceptive pill (whoop) and my life miraculously becomes a zen white company Xmas advert, I am going to vent at all the niggley little things that are pissing me off. Feck gratuity lists, right now I am all about the GRRRR. If you want joy, go watch the John Lewis advert. For all else, here goes:

1. The weather. Rain - no sun, no grey no cold no mild. MAKE UP YOUR MIND and just put us into the depths of grim winter - where no one smiles, there is no point in attempting to style hair and everyone pokes each other in the eye with umbrellas and spits bile about delayed trains and leaves on tracks.

2. Xmas adverts. FUCK OFF it is NOVEMBER! I don't care that Boots has glitter and John Lewis has penguins and we should all be buying Links jewellery and thick musky scents. Come back in December when I may feel more inclined. Why is everyone rushing to finish the year already? We barely have passed Halloween!!

3. People who pretend to be in my life and talk of meet ups that never happen - please don't even keep trying. We both don't care about meeting up or else we would have done it in the 2 years (or more) since we met up. All that 'we must meet!' emails is a cowardly way to try and remain in touch with people you long stopped caring about. Ending the charade is preferable. Don't you think so? Exactly.

4. I am so fed up feeling like some tragic failure every time someone genuinely wants to meet up. People, I left my job in Feb. NO INCOME. Husband supporting us both as I try to change careers. It is a slow process and leaves me with precious little income from blogging - so dinners, drinks, dancing and festivities are all glorious - and most 40+ year olds I know are on 60K plus salaries a year - so this is nothing - but for me it is impossible. I'm not avoiding you - I just can't afford to pay £40 for dinner and then drinks and taxis and all the rest. It is my choice, and whilst I'm not thrilled with it - it means more to me to be around for my kids and try to find a job solution around their schooling. I am bored of being broke. So bored of it I will never mention it again. But if I aint running to have festivities with you - don't make me feel bad - I feel bad enough as it is.

5. Teachers' pay. This one just makes me filled with rage. I talked to my son's teacher about the hours she puts in - and when you think of all the class preparation and marking and reports and all - and divide the hours teachers work with what they earn - along with nurses and service folk - it makes me fuming. Yet Wayne Rooney who is as thick as mince can buy diamonds daily - the world IS MAD. Our priorities in life are seriously screwed when the folk who are shaping the minds of our children are not worth more £££. remember your favourite teacher - the one who discovered you were great at art? Or maths? Who encouraged you like no other, who understood the peer pressure you felt or the fact you didn't fit in or whatever? Those who teach deserve awards and praise because it is a challenge and beyond a job.

6. It is interesting at times of your life, when you aren't your usual self - when you need help from others: be it support or shoulder to cry on, or someone to offer career advice, or to say 'I'll buy you a beer and cheer you up.' Because there are those who you expect to be there for you and suddenly they are not. Yet there are those who you never imagined you could turn to and they surprise you by being brilliant. These past few months have been an eye opener - I have turned to unexpected people who have been completely AMAZING (I genuinely love these folk) and then there are those who have only been interested in their own issues. It has been beyond enlightening. You live and learn, even at 41.

7. I saw Nightcrawler and whilst Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing - and ridiculously creepy - it is actually a wildly depressing film. Clever yes, and verging on smug as it pats itself on the back for making the point that TV people are just as vile as those who prey on the carcasses of car crashes and robberies and shootings for their dollar. You can imagine the smile on the director's face as he says, 'yes, but he doesn't NEED to go on a journey, or change - that, that is precisely my point.' Very clever yes. Satisfying? No. Hollow and over long and the shadow of the fabulous film it could have been? Yes. Oh and Rene Russo - why the botox - why???

8. I'm still enraged. Hopefully screaming at the twats on the Apprentice will abate this PMT. Because if there is ever anything to make you feel better about yourself it is watching these numbskulls try and out shout each other. Hilarious.

9. The price of stamps. For SNAIL MAIL!!!! That is all.

10. Birthdays. Do we really need one a year? I move for bi-annual birthdays. We'd all be younger, happier and have more cash. Result.

There - now write your own GRRRR list.  It feels better, really does.

(*Sorry. Blame my PMT)

Monday, 10 November 2014

I feel 17 again

Update: so I went to the doc and have been prescribed the pill. Apparently this will help my periods and my moods - WIN WIN. I am sure all my ex-collagues are wondering why I never did this years ago (bless poor Pete who at one stage was the lone male wolf amongst a sea of PMT'd women who's periods were all in sync.

It felt deliciously naughty to ask for the pill - and took me back to the days of the Family Planning Clinic opposite my school - where I went (after a quick uniform change) when I was 17 and a Doc with a flickering eye (as if she was giving me a knowing naughty wink) would ask me, 'do you need condoms?' At 41 I am FINALLY sorting out my hormones. Very exciting stuff. I may even have sex again. I kind of wonder what took me so long - why was I so obsessed about NOT putting hormone sin my body - when my body is clearly over-hormoned. Well, something that makes me CRAY CRAY every month is deffo going on. Husband is pleased although has yet to be convinced that demonic raging GRRRRR self followed (when bleed starts) into needy weepy clingy mess has gone. We shall see. I'm well stoked to hopefully not feel like Mrs doom every month and then be surprised when my period starts.

So thanks for all the messages ladies. I took all your advice and am stocked up. Well 3 months anyway. I am looking forward to a calmer 2015. Who I am kidding. It is the pill, not a miracle personality changer! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I wish I had the life to go with these shoes....

Shoe shopping is almost better than sex. Almost, but not quite. Why? Well let me count the ways:

1. shoes make you taller - all the better for seeing the world with

2. No matter how big your thighs or waist - shoes FIT. Yay!

3. They are simply works of art. You don't believe me? Check out the below - Sophia Webster has joined forces with J Crew (well this happened eons ago, but I just wanted to draw attention to it now) and the results are STUNNING.

4. Shoes transform an outfit, more than jewellery or handbags or all that jazz. Shoes take something a bit meh and making it A-Meh-Zing.

5. Oh god, why did I start this list? For me, the love of all things shoe began in '97 when I was asked to interview Manolo Blahnik at London Fashion Week. A quick root around his store prior to interview and I was SMITTEN. I thought my Oirish charm would encourage old Manolo to swing a pair of Mary Janes my way, but sadly he never did. I however feel hook line and sinker for a well crafted heel and immediately took a day off work to attend the press sale at Blahnik's a month later. I still have the pair of shoes that I bought, my credit card burning a hole in my hand.

So below are some beauties that I could only dream of owning, or wearing. Because they don't exactly scream 'school run through the autumn leaves muck' do they? Or the 'last dash around waitrose with two screaming kids?' Exactly. There was a time in my life (my 20s) where heels were a daily joy - for hot dates, cool parties and luke warm interviews. Now, they are objects of desire - memories of another era, bygone days. Frankly if Cinders was in any of the works of art below, she'd never have left one behind. Well you wouldn't, would you?

My favourite of all:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Halloween 2014

This year we went bigger. It was carnage. Good carnage. Well until Sproglette's bat cape caught alight and she screamed blue murder. Thank god Husband whipped it off her pronto and apart from some singed hair, she was fine. 28 adults, 14 kids and a million treaters at the door. Trick or Treating was a nightmare as your kid disappeared into a swarm of costumed kids herding towards the doors for candy, and in the dark it was hard to tell which witch was which. I think that'll be my last hoorah for a while - I was shattered after. Special thanks to the marvellous Fran who was an amazing cleaning fairy and I awoke to discover the place was spotless. The house survived - just. Think I was slightly crazy inviting so many to our not-massive Victorian semi - but hey, it felt busy. Hope you all had a spooky All Hallow's Eve. As usual, the wonderful Louis Quail came armed with camera and took some fabulous photos. Halloween got did in style. x

Photos -

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

5 Random things

Ok so my cyber buddy Dresden wrote about 5 random things and suggested I do the same. What Dres doesn't know is that all I DO is blog about random stuff from periods to Prince, so this is no real change from the norm.

My life is one long tangent according to my old workmates, my Husband and er... anyone who knows me.

No. 1 Yesterday the sun shone - it was positively hot; so much so I had to take off my jumper and just wear a vest top as I walked my son to football, with my 3 yr old in tow. Nothing strange in that, except it was the 28th of October!! As we passed people, everyone stopped to remark on what a glorious sunny day it was, people were full of smiles and Sproglette even remarked, 'You are talking to everyone today Mummy.' No change there. It did make me think that I wonder what folk in LA talk about it. I mean the weather there every day is ace, so not much to remark on. 'Oh, lovely day today, er... again.' But us Brits - that is ALL we talk about: the weather. The big freeze that is coming (never does) the heatwave due (always comes) the unexpected storms, the disappointing rainy bank holidays (a guarantee) and the lack of snow on Xmas day (also guaranteed). What on earth would we say as we passed each other, or waited in queues, if we didn't talk all things weather?

No. 2 I have yet to see a ghost. Believe me I have tried. Looked in a candlelit mirror at halloween at midnight, kept an eye open in scary houses I have stayed in (there was a night I stayed in an old rambling manor - certain I would hear a spook, but no such luck). My mate Hannah says she used to hear a ghost breathing under her bed, and I've heard a few spooky stories in my time. This Halloween, crossing my fingers as always. Do I believe in them - absolutely.

No. 3 This whole being grateful malarky is paying off. Unexpected things have happened. People have been generous and lovely. Good things have come. I am continuing on that theme - it reminds me how lucky I am. After a weekend watching 'Stand up to Cancer' and then a documentary on the tsunami in 2004, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I'm holding that thought - and the luckier I feel, the luckier I seem to get. Try it and see.

No. 4 I wish I could afford more products. I am obsessed with Origins 'never a dull moment' face scrub, their 'drink up' face mask and charcoal one. I wish for Guinot's deep moisture mask - amazing, that Estee Lauder overnight repair stuff... Also I want some GlamGlow masks. You can't beat a good mask. Lots of Ren scrubs (the salt body one is amazing) and AHA products, and rose bath oil. Some Jo Malone Roses perfume (I have No perfume at the mo at it is odd). I like Victor and Rolf's Flowerbomb too, and Givenchy's Dahila Devin. Finally I could do with some Charlotte Tilsbury Wonder glow stuff you put under foundation and her under eye highlighter thing. Oh Santa, win the lottery please. Then I'd be EVEN more grateful!

No. 5 This is my favourite season for food: soups, hearty stews, tasty roasts. Begone salads and all that crunchy stuff and give me stodge. Lots of it. To combat this need to eat more potatoes than an Irish man in a chip shop, I start every day with a Nutri Bullet shake with spinach, flaxseed, protein powder, frozen fruit berries, avocado and pumpkin seeds. It tastes AMAZING and my skin has never looked better. Get thee a Nutri Bullet - which sounds like an excellent sex toy but is actually a gift to your health. You can thank me later. x

Monday, 27 October 2014

Period pain - time to end it period?

Men folk who don't like discussing 'the blob' look away. This is not the post for you. Not that I'm gonna go into any excruciating medical details, but I need advice and I'm turning to my blog readers for it.

At the weekend I had two good friends over for a glass of vino or six, and mid epic chat, I brought up that a month before I had had a weekend where I was utterly depressed - filled the brim with unyielding PMT. One buddy wagged her finger at me and said that all through our 20s, she remembers me having severe PMT, and whilst others glided through - I didn't, which she put down to me not being on the pill. My other chum chimed in with 'every time you call me and you are down, I say to my partner, 'I'm certain she's just got/about to get her period.' As we chatted it seemed like every other fecker has noticed that I am in dire need of having my hormones sorted, except me.

I haven't been on the pill since I was 21. I was on it at 17 for 6 months, then off it, Then on it for a year, then off it for 2 and finally on it for about 6 months in 1994. Then, I dumped the pills and contraception was condoms, or in later life, the withdrawal method. I know. Don't even start that finger wagging, please. 'What do you call people who use the withdrawal method? Parents!' I know, I know.

The reason for my refusal to pop the tiny pills was because I hated the thought of shoving hormones in my body - hated the fact they made me (initially) gain weight and sent my skin haywire. My PMT at Uni was ferocious - in fact, now I come to think about it - it always has been. Several times I can hand on heart say, that it made me feel practically suicidal. Over and over I went to the Drs - they suggested: the pill, prozac, and therapy. Brilliant. I felt like no one could help - until I started having acupuncture and it really improved them. Every month I either had - unfailing relentless blues, followed by a heavy period OR rage and stomach/back cramps, followed by a tolerable period. I read everything there was on making them better: exercise, getting sleep, yoga, eating XYZ foods, not eating meat, eating red meat, avoiding alcohol, drinking alcohol, avoiding dairy blah blah blah.

The good news is, I got pregnant both times immediately. Afterwards my periods came back and were as regular as clockwork (having on occasions when I was stressed being 5 weeks apart, then 6, then once 12). Last year - probably at my height of stress, with 2 jobs, 2 kids and all - they were horrifically heavy - getting up twice a night to change tampax, embarrassing over flow situations in clothes etc. The Doc prescribed me a homeopathic set of pills that I took 3 times a day - which stemmed the blood flow. They worked - hurrah! Periods improved - but then, without the tablets, recently, it is back to the horror show again. Up to a week of my life is spent with PMT/sore chest/bloated stomach. Then the bleed itself lasts up to 6/7 days.  That is almost half a month with period hell. Half a year in some sort of period related pain.


Should I go on to the pill, after all these years of being scared that it could effect my body/fertility? After all, I don't plan on having any more kids... Don't suggest to me things like a 'coil' as I have a gynaecological phobia - remember, I don't do birth! (In fact it took me three attempts to even type that word). My Mum and Aunt have both had hysterectomies in their 40s and I am now 41. I don't want to suffer any more. Is this a no brainer? I'd love to know if any of you take the pill - I think mine was Femodine way back in the 90s.... Does it help your periods? Any other suggestions to make life more bearable? I'm fed up of one year Drs telling me to take anti- depressants to help periods and the next, telling me the pill works best - make your mind up!

At this point I'm open to anything. Yesterday I read that 80% of women have stopped their periods at 54. So in 13 years I won't need to worry about this, but I can't live this way until then... So any advice ladies, or brave gents who read this post - I'd be delighted to hear.

Love, CM xx

Friday, 24 October 2014

How I knew he was 'the one.'

Ten years ago, at this very minute, I married him, for the second time. 3pm on Sunday October 24th, 2004.

Technically and legally, our first wedding was a secret affair, merely to let my (then) Australian boyfriend remain in the country with me; we regarded it as 'the step between moving in together and actually getting married.' It was held at a registry office on the Kings Road, where Judy Garland, Roman Polanski and allegedly George Clooney all wed.  We told only a couple of close friends, who we asked to be our witnesses and signed on the dotted line a year to day of our first date. I wore a white suit and he wore a nervous smile.

Looking back on that day, some folks would have called me crazy, to marry a man I had only known for a year. But I knew, deep down, that he was the one for me. Even though it took him another 14 months to actually propose (then I had to sink a bottle of wine before I broke it to my Mother that we were in fact already wed, but yes there would be a wedding) and another year for us to have the actual church wedding and all the formal celebrations with all our friends and family.

Prior to meeting my Husband, when I was 28, I'd had 6 long years in the dating wilderness: filled with broken hearts (mine) and bloody awful dates. I had almost given up on 'the one' ever appearing. I'd quiz all my married friends, desperate to know how they 'knew' and what had separated Mr Right from all the Mr Wrongs that went before. Most people mystifyingly said things like, 'I just knew,' and 'it was different,' which was about as helpful as a chocolate kettle.

So how do you know when he is Mr Right as opposed to Mr Right-for-now? How can you be sure that he isn't gonna run off at the first hurdle, or he wants the same things out of life that you do? In short, how do you, 'just know?'

My answer is this: it all comes easily. Not that any relationship is easy - of course, over time there are all sorts of things to have to negotiate - but the thing I realised most about my Husband, when he was my new boyfriend, was that it all came easily. He didn't play games, he called when he said he would. He didn't play it cool, but nor did he chase me. It just felt like I'd known him a long long time, and every time we hung out, we had a great laugh. Plus I fancied the pants off him. Before him the men/boys I'd dated were all either: super hot and super dull, or really great but really unsexy. I just couldn't find someone that I wanted to go to the movies with and then snog the face off him later.

I met Husband because I walked through the wrong door in a hotel, hoping to find the bathroom, only to knock him on the head and send him flying. Turned out he was the cute barman and later, a bit tipsy, I gave him my number. He looked at that bit of paper as if I had handed him a used tissue. I didn't expect him to call, so I shouted as a passing shot, something like 'I believe in Carpe Diem, so if you call you call, if you don't you don't.'

He thought that was funny, and called. So my first idea about Mr Right - you'll never find him sitting waiting for him to come to you - get off your arse and give a hot guy your number.

Then he called, leaving the DULLEST message I have ever heard. Next bit of info: single ladies, if he sounds awful on the phone, do NOT despair - most men are useless on the phone.

He expected me to call him back and to be a 'sure thing.' Nice. I was busy with work, so didn't get to call him back until 5 days later. We met for coffee - which is a BRILLIANT first date. Why? Because you don't get hammered and fall into bed with them and be filled with a well of regret and never see them again. Day time dates are ace - because you get to talk, see them in cold harsh daylight and all that stress of 'will he expect a kiss/shag/to come to mine' doesn't exist.

I waited 5 dates until he stayed over. Oh yes! Treat 'em mean! Every woman I know who waited 5 dates to sleep with someone, married them. TRUE STORY.

But how did I know that was 'different?' Well, on our second date, a heard that a friend of mine had died. A bit of a mood killer, on a date. But he was great - being supportive, taking me for some food and trying to be as understanding as he could, seeing as he barely knew me. A week later I attended the funeral and as I was travelling on a coach home from it, very upset, he rang. He asked how the funeral had gone and how I was doing. When I asked about his day - he'd been to some excellent England v Australia cricket match, he didn't answer. Then he said, 'I called to see how you are, I didn't call to talk about me and my day.'

At that moment I knew. It was in that split second, I realised he was special. All it takes is one moment - one seemingly insignificant sentence, or gesture and you KNOW.

Then I let myself fall in love with him. That also is crucial - that you are ready in your life, to love someone else. Sometimes, we think we are ready, but we're not. Plus, sometimes we have our own baggage we need to address, before we can allow ourselves to love someone else. Because falling love is a scary old business - it makes you vulnerable. At that point, you have something to lose and those who have had their hearts trampled on in the past, it is doubly hard to let yourself trust again. But if it feels right, it isn't scary. It is only when it is bad love, do we feel anxious and fretful - because that is our intuition telling us it isn't right. Danger ahead!

I listened to my gut. I let go of all my fears and did it anyway. He moved in 3 months later. A while later I found a diary entry with a list of all the qualities my ideal man would have. It also said where he'd live and what job he'd do and a load of superficial stuff about what books he'd read and movies he'd watch etc. What a load of crap! The first thing that any single woman should do, is take that tick list for her ideal man and burn it! Because no one ever fits a specific list. And when you find him, the elusive 'one' (and for the record I believe in life there are many 'ones' along the way that you could meet, not just one) there are things you'll have wished for and others that you never imagined, and are even better.

Then one day, you'll wake up and discover you've been married for 10 years. Then someone will congratulate you and ask how you knew he was the one, and you'll find yourself saying, 'I just knew.....'

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Room 101 - first thing in there? #Kids' Parties.

Cast your mind back. You are 6, maybe 7. You are carefully scrawling 8 or ten friends' names on a  flimsy 'pack of ten' invitations which you will then hand out to your classmates with a swelling sense of pride. It's your birthday and my god, you're gonna party. There will be sandwiches that you'll be forced to eat, lots of crisps and cocktail sausages, followed by some buns and then a home-baked cake that took poor Mum 2 evenings to make and ice. Badly. You'll enjoy one hour of pass the parcel, musical statues and chairs with a bit of blind man's buff or pin the tail on the donkey and then everyone will go home shattered and sweaty with a slice of that cake, glued to a soggy napkin, sugar rushed to the eyeballs. Fabulous. Job done.

Now? Dear god, no mother on earth would be braver than the one that suggested a mere house gathering with a tape deck and balloons for fun! You can't get away with just that. Oh no - you'd better do something BIG and preferably original. Go karting, dodge-balling, archery (YES indeed), some animal man who drapes himself in snakes and chinchillas, mountain scaling, indoor skiing, bowling or some rare form of dance - are all expected.

Invites - email, texts, are followed by the paper kind. I have heard of one party where the kid had a gift list. (* eye raise *). The party is a two hour affair, which will involve some exciting activity, a poor exhausted entertainer (or both) and will be followed by a catered spread fit for a king. The kids naturally won't touch a single cherry tomato or carrot stick (who fecking would when you can stuff your face with crisps??) and will gorge on all things sugary. Then out comes the cake - no wobbly two tier affair with melted icing - nope, this will be made by some cake specialist person and will have a dragon, a castle, turrets, a knight and an army. It will weigh and cost more than your wedding (cake).

Then comes the BANE OF MY LIFE - the fucking goodie bags. Gone are the days of a simple piece of cake and a rubber or pencil as your 'thank you for coming to my party and having a great time at my expense' gift. Now, it is a book, or a toy, or something that usually costs MORE than the gift the kid brought for the birthday boy/girl. Getting 20 of these together is like paying for Christmas.

All of this for your 4 YEAR OLD. They will never even remember the party in years to come, but your bank manager will.

Since when did kids' parties become such 'events?' I mean, who the FUCK started this all? Whoever she is - I want to get that clearly demented (obviously loaded with TOO much time on her hands) mother and well, shout at her. A lot. Because it is an extraordinary expense to pay for your kid, on top of a present, and don't get me started on how much time it takes to plan/arrange -  and at the end of it - what will they say? Well, my son, after said animal man party on his 4th birthday (replete with spiders, a skunk, aforementioned snakes and chinchilla and many lizard things) whispered sadly, 'but Mum, he didn't bring a frog...'

At that point I nearly gave him into care.

It is insane and yet no one stops it. No one is brave enough to make their kid the laughing stock of the class by simply having a party where the kids eat some buns and pretend to be statues. We all moan about it and yet we feel powerless. It is like all the hen night rubbish that goes on these days - who thinks it is fine to ask your mates to cough up for a week in Ibiza just because you've found the love of your life, eh? INSANITY. What happened to a few swallies down the pub the night before the big day??

Now we all know I am one for a party and I like merriment as much as the next person. But something has got to give. Will it be me? Of course not. Sproglette is having her first party in Dec for her 4th, replete with a dance instructor type to exhaust the beasts, an all singing all dancing cake and I must get started on sourcing a rare unique toy (26 of them) on ebay for the party bags.....


Saturday, 11 October 2014

At last

Ahhhhh at last. Autumn is here. Crisp cold-ish days with a sun splitting the sky, a slight nip in the air as we all crunch through the multi-coloured leaves.

I trudge up the seemingly vertical hill to school every day and smile as I negotiate my way through a snicket that smells of pine and damp. The sprogs chatter and we repeat Sproglet's spellings, Sproglette repeats her own thoughts of the day - relentlessly until we stop and pay attention her every word. For such a small person, she sure does pack in a lot of personality.

The Halloween decorations call me from the attic, and with no shame I can tell you that one of the highlights of my week was finding that Sainsburies hadn't run out of giant spider decorations after all. The celebrations are just 3 weeks away and yes, we are counting the days. This is always my favourite time of year - when the jumpers come out, the clocks go back, it is ok to say 'no' to any invitation that involves more than a twenty minutes taxi ride. The box sets come out (Husband has broken the cardinal rule and gone ahead on Game of Thrones, leaving me languishing in series 2) and the heating goes on. All the pent up angsty weather of summer - the humidity followed by thunder storms and punishing sunshine - has gone. It's the glory days before the frosts of winter descend and the isolation that snow brings in it's flurried wake.

It has been a fabulous week, for many reasons - not that it brought anything definitive for me, more that it brought hope -  bucket loads of the stuff. There was the Bake Off final replete with pizza, a buddy getting a spanking new job, an offer to read an old Parenthood script from someone amazing, cake and coffee with my family just because it was Friday, our decrepit old hall being FINALLY painted (we have only lived here 6 years....) and a good friend sticking his neck out and recommending me to his boss - which was possibly the best bit of all. When people go out of their way for you, champion you - there really is nothing better. It is the ultimate kindness isn't it? There are days I wish I was rich - not to buy myself diamonds and designer clobber - but because I'd like to take all the people who have helped me along the way, to a damn fine dinner and many many cocktails. Maybe one day I'll be able to do this.

Now I have to kind of put my money where my mouth is and actually see if I can write after all. To say I'm terrified is an understatement. Having worked for so long with some incredibly talented folk, there is the fear - but can I do this myself? Hell, I'll die trying.

Yesterday as I walked down the hill from school in the morning sunshine, I realised that my entire career has been peaks and troughs: the highs of being offered a presenting job on Trouble TV, or my own live show on UTV in Ireland, the lows of scrabbling around for money working in a book store and having to be a waitress at the hellhole that was Momos restaurant. There have been so many moments where I thought 'This is it! I'm here - arrived. I don't need to worry any more,' only to wind up hating the job, or the show getting cancelled or the director being satanic or whatever. The lesson I should have learnt is that it is all just one big journey - a marathon rather than a sprint and you ultimately never 'arrive.'

The other lesson I learned, is one that I should have cottoned on to years ago. When a prescription you are on says 'DO NOT DRINK' maybe pay heed. Because otherwise, two nice glasses of red later, you'll spent a night violently vomming in a most undignified manner. And before you ask, there is a dignified way to vom. I've mastered that art years ago.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Things I have learnt this week part #167

No 1. It is absolutely ok to be obsessed with Sia's amazing Chandelier song and video and watch it at least 6 times. Daily. 

If there was ever a song that in captured my entire 20s - this is it. I met her waaaay back in 2000 when I was presenting a kids' show. She kept swearing and we were recording 'as live' so we had to keep starting over again. The producers were screaming in our earpieces and she could hear - which was mortifying. She was lovely, bonkers and loud. Have no idea who she reminds me of...

No. 2 If you don't ask you don't get.

This week Babble were about to cut my pay in half and I had a small fit. I need that income goddammit!! I worried, felt sick and then decided - speak up, what have you got to lose? It worked. Normal service was resumed and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. Mind you, I feel like the rug could be pulled at any given moment. Such is a freelance life...

No. 3 Waiting for a movie you are excited to see to open, is an underrated joy.

Tonight - Gone Girl. Now, I wasn't that jazzed on the book (disliked both main characters so was hard to empathise) but in Fincher's hands this could be a masterpiece. Can-not-wait. I have that friday feeling. Which, as any parent will tell you - ceases to exist the moment you have kids. Weekends are no longer your friends people - they are just 48 hours to entertain small people who piss their pants, demand the world and never thank you anyway.

No. 4 The best advice is: this too shall pass.

At the weekend, my hormones dragged me to a bleak dark place and I just felt utterly overwhelmed and completely numb. Could not see the wood for the huge dark twisty angst trees. Both people I reached out to simply told me to stay in that moment, let it be, acknowledge how I was feeling - and then let it pass. Thank gawd it did. Feeling sane is really quite fabulous. Well, as sane as I get.

No. 5 Patience is a virtue I have yet to master.

Waiting for people to read your script, or let you do a trial or all that jazz takes time. Which is fine - everyone has jobs and lives and is uber busy. But when you are at home staring at a clock - you lose all sense of reason. You think why aren't they calling me? Oh god they hate it. They hate me. They think I can't do it. I can't do it! Who am I trying to kid? I should never have left my job. I should have been a nun. Or a lawyer. Or something. Should I? I'll just eat some more cake and think on it.
Being in my head is EXHAUSTING.

No. 6 Getting a DM tweet can be thrilling.

Especially when it is from your fav ever writer/showrunner in the States.  Oh yes. *GIDDY*

No. 7 Children are sent to test us - but that is why god invented alcohol.

All this SoberOctober business - clearly for people who do not have children. Every night I think, I won't drink, I am busy, I'll do some writing or tidy out that cupboard or whatever. Then I spend an hour making a fab thai dinner and my kids spit it out and demand cherrios instead. Then comes bath time and a floor wetter than the basement of the Titanic. Followed by several meltdowns, a tantrum (that's me) and bedrooms that a twister seems to have visited. I reach for that bottle of red and think, 'there there, it'll all be fine.' And usually after glass 3, it is.

No. 8 That sometimes, when you least expect it, the answer arrives.

So Sproglette's favourite hobby, (apart from talking) is to put items in the narrow spaces between the floorboard in our house or decking outside. It's a special trick indeed, to magpie like, light upon all kinds of shiny objects - necklaces, wedding rings, coins etc - and put them in places where we can never get them back. Two weeks ago was a tiny little nut, inconsequential except it holds her entire tricycle seat together and without it - no bike. I tried everything to retrieve the little nut winking up at me between the decking boards - to no avail. I filed replacing said nut on the 'must get around to doing at some stage of life, no doubt when kid is 18' list of to-dos.

Then, as I walked to school on Wed to collect the kids, I indulged my inner child and crunched through the leaves. No one was around, so I kicked and stamped and had an ace time. (I don't get out much readers...) Suddenly I looked down and there, in the gutter, glinting in the sun, was a tiny silver nut. I pocketed it, thinking 'maybe....' I came home and went outside to the garden, where I lifted the seat, the screw and voila! Like a modern Cinderella, the nut fitted. In this tiny moment, I realised that Paulo Coelho may indeed be right... That the universe does indeed provide after all.

Shame it wasn't a winning lottery ticket, mind.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Peter Berg broke his promise...

Over the years in my chequered career (barmaid, reporter, news reader, kids' TV presenter, script editor, writer) I've done some bizarre things to get folks' attention. Not I might add, in some weirdo way - like those deluded folks who charge the stage at X factor auditions, convinced they can sing and perform like Queen Bey, only to unleash a sound like a strangled Banshee and gyrate like my Dad on a wedding dance floor.

No, I mean the lengths I've gone to, to get my CV on the right desk, or (in my presenting days) my showreel on the producer's list. (Oh and quell your dirty mind - I don't mean any casting couch shenanigans either - no one ever tried any of that. Which is good. I think. Or maybe I had the face for radio after all...).

Anyway, no matter the showreels stuffed in boxes of muffins hand delivered, or the CV attached to a helium balloon, or the time I attended a Q & A and doorstepped the speaker afterwards, CV in hand - nothing has come close to my determined efforts to get a Parenthood spec script into the hands of Peter 'FNL' Berg, to pass on to his buddy and Parenthood Showrunner, Jason Katims. The whole thing was planned with military precision. I'm not a gal to do things by halves. I knew that his film Battleship would, at some stage, be doing the promotional rounds. So, my Parenthood script was written, re-drafted, polished and ready by the time his plane hit Heathrow. But how to get near a Hollywood god, when I am but a lowly writer?? If in doubt - ask your mates for help. My theory in life has always been, that if you don't ask, you can't possibly ever get. So old buddy Max, head of a news showbiz desk, agreed to let me slip on my reporter shoes once again, and cover the junket.

Junkets are always great - lots of pastries, and pasty looking journos scuttling around, occasional freebies (NB the worse the film, the more freebies one tends to get) and as much still or sparkling water as you can shake a stick at. I did have to sit through Battleship - which was perhaps the toughest part of the challenge - but it was all worth it, back in March 2012 - when I climbed up the steps to the Manderin Oriental hotel, my questions in my sweaty palm. My script - a PARENTHOOD spec, on a USB stick in my pocket.

Another bonus of this quest, was the mere fact that as well as interviewing Mr Berg - I'd also have to interview the star of the movie - one Mr Taylor Kitsch. What a bind eh? 15 minutes with Tim Riggins himself, where after a cursory question or two about the movie, we settled down to a great chat about the merits of Friday Night Lights: the great writers, wonderful direction, on set gossip, etc etc. I did get a bit carried away and tried to coerce him into a rousing 'Clear Eyes, Full Hearts....' but he laughed and let me finish it all by myself...

*Sighs at the memory*

Where was I? Oh yes. I was escorted by terribly serious looking people in black suits, with Madonna-esque headphones around the hotel - from one incredibly hot light-filled room to another. They would open a door to the dazzling Brooklyn Decker and her amazing pins and then send me back to the journo hub, for yet some more mineral water. After a wait of a mere 4 hours, they said, 'Please come this way to meet Peter Berg.'

With a deep breath, I entered the room and shook his hand. He looked tired, thin and seemed slightly delirious. (After about 100 interviews that day, I'm not surprised). We did the obligatory Battleship chat before I launched into my un-ending praise of FNL. I told him how I loved the writing: Kerry Ehrin (New York, New York and After the Fall, Texas Whatever) and David Hudgins (Hello, Goodbye) and of course Jason Katims (Always) being my favourites. At this point it could have gone either way: Berg happy to talk shop on another project or keen as mustard to get back to all things Battleship. Thank Gawd he was impressed, (delighted even) to talk about something other than 'what made you think of creating a film from a board game' chat; saying 'she knows her stuff,' - especially when I noted he had only directed 2 eps (the pilot and the first ep season 4 in case you are interested).

As the interview was being wound to a close (which is nice speak for a PR making signs of my throat being cut behind Berg's back and tapping her watch furiously) I could feel my heart hammering in my chest. I said how lovely it was to meet him and then held onto his hand a moment too long. I asked him a favour, then carefully gave him my USB stick, explaining that I was massive fan of Parenthood, that I'd written a spec script (mid season 2 - just stopped the DVD and then wrote the next ep) and would he be so kind to pass it on to show runner Mr Katims. He smiled, impressed (again - yay!) with my chutzpah and agreed to do so. I made him promise. He did. I stopped short at the whole pinky swear thing, just.

Then I stepped out into the unseasonably warm March evening with a massive grin on my face. Mission accomplished. As I trained it home, collected my children from helpful friends and bathed them, I imagined Berg jetting home and finding the little USB stick in his inside jacket pocket, many moons later and remembering our chat. I'd stuck my name and details on it - for fear he would just bin it. I let the universe take my hope and crossed my fingers a mysterious email would pop up in my in box one day.

It never did. Peter Berg, you broke your promise!

Meanwhile I heard from an American friend that Katims would have never read it anyway - in the US they refuse to look at specs on their own shows - for fear of lawsuits decreeing plagiarism if a similar idea was ever aired.

But would I do it all again if I had the chance? Absolutely. Because asides from the bonus of getting to talk with Berg (and did I mention I met Kitsch?) the whole thing gave me something that as a new mother of two, I desperately needed: hope. Hope that I'd somehow get to write for TV shows, hope that all my experience as a script ed on UK dramas wouldn't go to waste. Hope that the little USB with my Parenthood ep is stuck in Berg's jacket pocket, or in a drawer in his office, that he will discover one day. You never know...

Monday, 29 September 2014

Dotty Apple - for the person who has everything

So whaddaya get the person who has everything? Me - I will never be unhappy with any premium bourbon, good red wine, stationary and Jo Malone candles, book or Zara vouchers - thankyouverymuch.  In fact I'm pretty easy to buy for. But many folk are not. Men for example. After the obligatory smellies or a decent book, what do you get them? Socks??? Some technology stuff? Something to put all those coins and little bits of paper that they leave lying around on every available surface?

Plus, we all have that friend who has everything - or uber expensive taste that your budget doesn't quite extend to (Tiffany earrings a tad outta your pay cheque range). Now my buddy, she likes the finer things in life - but is down to earth, so I could have gone for some M & S salty snacks and she would have been happy. (She likes the salty snacks does Big T).

Anyway, as luck would have it a lovely lady got in touch with me from a fab website called Dotty Apple. She makes canvases and framed prints of lots of lovely words - that you would use to describe someone, or all the things in life they love. Or their birth date/weight/place etc for a newborn. Or a unique wedding gift... All completely personalised and in whatever format or colours you want. Have a look here to see. Or take a look at Big T's above. (I hasten to add that my daughter Sproglette christened her Big T on account of having a buddy at nursery who is 'little T.' The size here is on account of age, not stature or weight).

Most of my friendships involve plenty of banter and taking the piss. Therefore Big T was never gonna get a framed print of all her fabulous qualities - rather, I'd draw attention to the fact she compared herself once to a Rodin sculpture, admitted that she had 'completely fallen in love with the theatre' (again) and the fact she is useless at internet dating.

Naturally she loved it. The colours, the sentiment, the beautiful frame. So thanks to the fabulous Dotty Apple. Now, when you're thinking of what to get the person who has everything for Xmas, get them something personal, unique and that reminds them what an ejit they are! You're welcome!

Saturday, 27 September 2014


“He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones "it’s" rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly.

He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
dies slowly.

He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn't know, he or she who don't reply when they are asked something they do know,
die slowly.

Let's try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.

Only a burning patience will lead
to the attainment of a splendid happiness.” 
― Pablo Neruda