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?