Monday, 28 July 2014

It sure goes quick

My best friend's Mum told me a while ago, "You only have your kids until they are about ten. Then they go; off seeing friends, having their own lives and before you know it they are off to Uni. It sure goes quick."

At the time I think my daughter was 1, my son 5. Days were fairly exhausting, life was all about routine and endlessly trying to entertain them. I kind of wished the years away. Which is funny, because now I'd like to slow them all down.

We've been away in York for a week and husband swears that our Sproglette has changed in that time. She's had her fringe cut, started making silly faces in photos and was obsessed about finding yellow bikes dotted all around York in celebration of the Tour de France having passed through a few weeks back. She's excited about starting school nursery in September and is demanding a party in December when she is 4, but wants to invite only boys.

All the endless opinions and questions she throws out; she is suddenly more than ever, her own little person. 3 for me is the age that kids are at their cutest - still a smidgeon of baby face in them, funny phrases trotting out their mouths and they still break out into dances no matter where they are. They've yet to feel judgement, or coldness or censorship. They just are. Sproglet at 8, is much more aware of himself now - happy (thank god) to kiss me and hug me still - but not so much in front of all his school buddies. He thinks One Direction are rubbish and is football crazy. He has a growing sense  of what he deems cool, what isn't. He has yet to care about his clothes or hair that much and I'm hoping vanity won't feature for a few years yet.

More than ever, I'm digging time spent with them. All too aware that the sand in the timer keeps falling and every step they take is one further away from me. Don't get me wrong, I still love ME time - what little of it I get, especially in the school hols - but when I'm with them, I'm really focused on the time I'm spending - not thinking ahead, not fretting about work or money - just being. It's doing my head all sorts of good. This year has been one of my finest - for no major, significant reasons - more lots of little ones: I've been invited along on 3 different friends' holidays, seen Prince, been offered two jobs I never would have expected and have thrown myself into a career change that has made me excited and nervous - both good things. Plus, I finally wrote my Dad a long overdue letter in the hope of healing our fractured relationship and the upshot is that he is coming over to stay from Ireland, in September - his first visit in my 23 years living in England.

On bad days I'll wander around my house wishing I had the money to repaint the hall, or fix the broken tile that has been chipped for 6 years in our dining room; I'll wonder why I don't have things all worked out just yet (fingers in pies, but pies not quite cooked), I'll hanker after that bigger house, bigger garden, flatter stomach... But on good days - and there are more of these than ever - like today when a spontaneous ice cream meet up with a mate and his son meant Sproglet and I learnt how to loom (important skill I assure you - and if you don't know what it is - be thankful!) and Sproglette and I walked in the rain laughing and Husband built me a fan for our bedroom - the mundane moments bring unbridled joy. Perhaps because, as my friend's mum said, this time will pass. They will grow and leave me, so I had better enjoy it all while I have it.

One day, they will be gone. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Players only love you when they're playing...

'But when we're together it's so good...then he kind of goes cold.... But he texts me and sends me emails all the time...really flirtatious... I know he likes me. He really does.' So said my good buddy, just before the object player of her affection brought another woman to the work Xmas party and proceeded to canoodle with her in front of my friend for the entire night. Nice. yet she went back for more. Time and again she let this man reel her in and then cast her aside. I sat high up on my happily married pedestal and judged (and also worried for her). One evening at a dinner, having drunk too much wine, I told her exactly what I thought and she refused to speak to me for the night - telling me that I was harsh, and I didn't understand what it was like.

But of course I did - I remembered back on the 6 years I had been single in London and dated all kinds of undesirables. We've all been there, haven't we? Been pursued with a relentlessness that borders on obsessive, felt a sudden chemistry that jolts you into next week, tentatively reciprocated the flirting and then..... nadda. They disappear - off to find the next victim on their ego-filling hit list. 

Once you are in a relationship, living with someone, or married even, you assume that the players of old - the ones that had you reaching for the vodka at 7pm, as you stared at an empty in box or a silent phone, are all in the dim and distant past. The last thing you'd expect is a new one to pitch up in your life, full of charm and chat, trying to schmooze their way into your life.

But that is exactly what happened to me a while back. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly pursued by someone (that at the time) I worked with. At first it was mild - email banter and the odd text. I was flattered, curious and surprisingly, attracted back. This was the thing that unnerved me most - how could I be married, happily and attracted to someone else? I immediately emailed player and told him it would be better to keep the whole thing professional - that whilst I had only been attracted to 2 people in my whole ten years of marriage (the other being Taylor Kitsch, and frankly, if you meet him and aren't smitten - you don't have a pulse) I didn't think it was a good idea to encourage our friendship any further. His reply was hilarious - 'Er, you know I have a girlfriend? And you are married with kids?' Then he ended 'if you ever think you could trust yourself around me to have a pint some time, give me a call.' 

As we say in Ireland, if he was a chocolate bar, he'd've had himself ate.

That, you would have thought would have been that. But still he pursued and for a man who worked with words, his attempts at flirtation where surprisingly cliched and obvious. I was no angel - lapping up this attention, that at the time was lacking in my marriage. But I did tell my Husband everything - and he replied that he was often attracted to others, but as long as I didn't do anything about it - then there was no harm done.

Yet, there was. Because the Player continued and I did nothing to stop him. He asked to meet, reeled me in, even with all his dreadful tactics: staring at me in meetings, always being overtly touchy, taking an interest in various Facebook status updates I wrote... I, foolishly and embarrassingly, let myself be played. Let me be clear though - NOTHING ever happened - I did not have an affair. But emotionally, I definitely moved into a shady area. 

Deep down, I knew the player was a tragic emotional vacuum who was only interested in fuelling his own ego - he had no real depth of feeling for me. I doubt he wanted anything to happen either - to him, it was all just one big game. But, something that had been a silly banter I would joke about with workmates, became larger - and they warned me to be wary - they saw right through him. Thankfully, I am not made for deceit, or webs of lies - I am as honest as the day, so I never crossed a line. But it made me see how fragile we can be, married or not, and how we are all vulnerable to flattery and attention, no matter how immune to it we think we are. 

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I left the job, moved on with my life, Husband changed jobs, we re-focused on us, on our family and I am in a much happier place now. We finally have weekends together and can make plans, we eat dinner together, he nightly bathes our Sproglets. 

So I learnt a valuable lesson - that I wasn't sitting on some smug married perch, immune to all the nightmares that single folk have to endure in the dating wilderness. That marriage takes work - that those vows once spoken wearing a lovely white frock, are in fact, pretty damn difficult at times to adhere to. That we are all fallible, that we all can make mistakes. 

I look back with shame, on that night with my friend, when she was teary and angry at my lack of empathy, my cool judgement on her yo-yo 'relationship.' If I could go back, I'd shut my mouth, fill her glass and give her a massive hug. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Sorry, blame it on the heat. (The ridiculous cloying, energy sapping, damp humidity that plagues us all).  Maybe my hormones (Raging). Whatever. Let me share with you all the hottest man model on the planet. He is a cross between Jesus and Brad Pitt.


See what I mean? 


Sometimes, it feels as if Richard Linklater's films are speaking only to me. Like he magically transported himself into my mind and read my thoughts, my worries, my grumblings.

When I walked out of Before Midnight last year, I stopped on route home to get wine, determined to smugly announce to my Husband that Linklater, Hawke and Delpy had proved that I was NOT mad after all. That the fight we had had that very day had just played out on screen.

Tonight I watched his latest film - and ultimately his best - Boyhood. Shot over 39 days, over a time spanning 12 years, it covers a young boy Mason's transition from boy to man. Or 6 year old to college boy at least. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but it is utterly incredible. Just visually stunning - to witness this boy grow literally before our eyes. The script ambles along at it's own leisurely pace, taking us along for the joyous ride. Warm, moving, funny and smart - it is almost feels like we are watching a lifetime of home movies, rather than a crafted film. So intimate, so real.

Ethan Hawke plays Mason's feckless Dad, who has a heart of gold buried underneath his teenage-style muso ambitions. He is incredible. As is Patricia Arquette, as the softly spoken hard-working Mom who makes ends meet and meets dead end men. Meanwhile Linklater's own daughter Lorelei is just astonishing - growing from precocious child to thoughtful adult.

Ellar Coltrane as Mason is nothing short of mesmerising - his huge blue eyes just aching with all the angst of growing up, surviving, loving, losing and all the rest. As I watched his pudgy years slip away, and acne begin, facial hair appear as his voice breaks - all I could think of was Sproglet and how every second he slips through my fingers a little more. It made me want to stand in front of Father time and tell him to take a hike. I just wanted to relish every single second, before it disappeared.

I wish I could define why I loved it so: and yet, I am at a loss for words. There is no other film quite like it - save the fantastic 7 up series on ITV, charting kids lives from the 60s. But this is contained within one family - and all it's disfunction.

At it's heart, the message, spelt out in the final scene (not a spoiler I promise) is to seize the moment - or it in fact seizes us. If there was ever a film that advocated that we cherish every second of life, the good and the bad bits - I have yet to see it. At over 2 and a half hours long, some critics may mock that we age along with it - but for me, there was never a dull moment.

Linklater's gift is to make us feel included in this family, to champion and cherish all the times we get to spend with them - to love them like he clearly does. Then it reminds us, to look around us and do exactly that with our own.  This is nothing short of brilliant.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Babbling away

Hello there, fine reader.

Someone tweeted me, saying they are missing my writing. Thing is - I am writing. Just not here. but I am writing over there at Babble - and loving every minute of it. Cos you see Babble have changed their remit - and instead of whacking up some pics of a star and a blurb about their toned bod, they are interested in a bit of debate and opinion and all that jazz. Right up CM's street!

So far, I've asked if Robin Thicke deserved all the abuse he got on twitter (it was hilarious abuse mainly),  if the ultimate celebrity sin is being fat? (Apparently so). How I wish Bert and Ernie were gay... and how we could all be putting down our daughters without even really realising it... (The Bert and Ernie one will be live on Monday). Still to come, a TV show where folk meet for the first time at the altar (YES really - only in America) and whether or not we should take the blame for our kids' happiness/unhappiness in later life. Who knows the answers to all these questions - I just like trying to work it all out...

Plus, I've been working on some of my own stuff for other projects I am grafting away at... So I haven't been slacking in the whole 18 hours a week I am child free.

The school summer hols are almost upon me, so I will probably be blogging more then, out of stress and angst and hating British summers... and being with my kids 24/7... Blogging, or maybe drinking. Or both.

I'm feeling particularly chilled today as I had some fab acupuncture. It was ace - apart from the moment where she jabbed the needle in my palm and an electric shock flew across my hand and down my ring finger. I looked at the woman like she had tried to kill me. Unblocked energy moving around apparently. Just in quite a violent way... The sun is shining and I'm feelin' pretty chipper with the world. This year has been a year of change - good ones: Husband's new job, my new way of living/working. While I may not be makin' millions, I am feeling a lot less stressed. Maybe that's why I've blogged less - blogging usually being borne out of my terror/stress/anxiety/fear etc. I'm in a better place, better mindset than I was at the start of the year.

This week past, I had a Mum's event to go to - and at a Mum's house. In the past I dreaded things like that - being not a very confident Mother (whatever that means). Plus, at those things you can't just get hammered to get through them, or cut up the dance floor, or flirt with the barman. You have to go and be polite and not say the C word and all that stuff. I surprised myself by having a ball. One woman, a make-up artist, was demonstrating techniques on another mum - getting a make-up makeover. It reminded me of my days as a kids' tv presenter - when I spent every morning in a the make-up chair -  the days I spent idling away several hours in Mac looking at glittery eyeshadows. As we chatted over wine, so spilled forth a few stories. One Mum turned to me and said, 'You've lived haven't you?'

It reminded me of that old cliche - life aint a sprint - it's a marathon. And, whilst occasionally I run out of juice, and maybe my trainers are too old and tight - the one thing I know, is that I have had a blast along the way. So, as I looked out across this woman's fab garden - 10 times the size of mine, with vegetable patch and decking and a driveway to boot, I swallowed back my house envy and toasted my own life instead. I wouldn't swap it for the world.

Monday, 7 July 2014


Yesterday, as I walked along a path way from a Devon beach with an old buddy, discussing the fact we are now, officially middle aged (as much as that horrifies me, it is in fact true) he laughed and said, 'it doesn't get better than this.' I was squelching along, sand forming a small ridge in my birkenstocks, a wetsuit clinging to every curve and seawater dripping from by bedraggled locks onto my sunburnt face and I realised he was completely right.

We'd arrived on Friday night, to the inevitable rain that always accompanies any type of vacation on UK soil. The house we were staying at was the type that you pick out online 'incase I win the lottery.' Airy, spacious, huge kitchen replete with an island as big as my own kitchen at home - with massive sofas, tonnes of windows and stylishly simple white walls dotted with fabulous art. 7 adults, 8 kids and still it felt massively roomy. I honestly wished never to leave. The garden led to treehouses, barns filled with a play stage, table tennis table and a disco glitter ball, and rolling hills. Utterly peaceful, blissfully quiet. I barely saw my kids as ran around, playing football and cricket and chess and feeding the two happy as larry pigs who grunted around the place. Sproglette fell in love with my old schoolmate's youngest son and for our entire stay one was never seen without the other following close behind. She sobbed her heart out when she left him, despite the fact she was calling him 'that boy' rather than his name throughout the stay. I guess she was playing the 'treat 'em mean' game...

Anyway, it was a weekend filled with sunshine and beer, cold rose and magnificent feasts, laughter, games and sea air. There was a moment when I was in the sea, jumping as the thick waves rolled in carrying me up and under, and I looked up at the sky and thanked whoever was there - for my blessings. As clich├ęd as it sounds, I felt at my happiest. Husband says I am always at my happiest when I am with my old school muckers and their other halves. The history, the ease, the comfort.

Yesterday had started with sunshine, then segued into stormy rain and still, in true Brit fashion - we all headed to the beach. One mate said, 'it will get worse before it gets better' - his prediction for all in life. He was damn well right - by the time we got to the beach - the sun split the skies. My daughter dug up half the beach, my son messed about in the sea. My friends kids - 3 Aussies, braved the cold sea with boogie boards and wet suits. Then we all headed for sunday roasts and the Wimbeldon final on tv. As we went to leave, my son was glum, his sweet face set, his big eyes watery. He desperately wanted to stay. Sproglette had tears tripping down her face as she refused to hug her new boyfriend goodbye - I assume in denial at the enforced separation. My other friend's youngest son came over to give me a pirate hug - one that squeezes you so tightly, it is like they will never let go. In that moment, with tears spilling out my own eyes, it was exactly what I needed.