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 -