Thursday, 31 December 2015

Things I have learnt this year... #375

And so we say goodnight and goodbye to 2015. How was it for you?

Bizarrely, although 2014 was infinitely more financially challenging - it just radiated brilliance. Surprise trips and a summer of sunshine made it memorable, with 2015 somehow trailing in it's wake. And yet, I made more in roads in my career than I had ever hoped for; I shared many brilliant moments with people I love and I had the joy for being able to be much more present for my kids than in any other year before.

What I have leant without question is that whilst money doesn't make you happy - it sure is lovely not to have worry over every single pound. That whilst eating well and exercising do no harm to the body - the place they help the most is the mind. That opportunities abound - if you start to create them for yourself. Most of all, I have realised - take no one for granted - even yourself and your health.

What else?

- I have also learnt that I am no baker - but that is why Waitrose make fairy cakes that you can add a topping to and a choc button and voila! Home baking CM stylee.

- That you are lucky with kids to get 5 minutes to yourself. Which is why next year I must step away from more social media and go for long walks instead. Headspace is an underestimated joy....

- South Cross is the best gin I have ever had the joy to taste - and if you ever wonder what to buy me - look no further than it....

- That a trip home to Ireland and a walk by the sea sorts out any head...

- That letting go of hate makes you lighter than any diet...

- A spirilizer creates endless possibilities... as long as you like courgettes...

- Most folk who are wealthy are simply so because they never buy a round...

- That if you can't quite do it - FAKE it until you MAKE it...

- There are no friendlier folk on earth than the Irish - but sure, you knew that anyway...

- Series 2 of The Affair was even better than series 1

- Most of all listen to your gut - if it don't feel right, it aint.

So, I must away and start swallowing gin like prohibition starts at midnight - and all that is left to do is wish you all a wonderful, inspiring, challenging and enlightening 2016.

Keep her lit!

CM xx

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New box

Every time in my life I've had to tick one of those damn boxes: are you '25-29' '30-34' '35-39' '40 - 44' etc I've just ticked and not really given it much thought. A friend on my 30th kindly pointed out I was 'in a new box' but it didn't phase me - age is just a number.

Really, in my case it has been. Often I find myself shocked to wake up and discover I am responsible for two other lives on this planet; I read my 17 year old diaries and feel exactly the same sentiments; I  go for prosecco with the 23 year old Uni graduate next door and think we have loads in common... And yet, in the past month I feel I have entered a new box. A new zone.

I can put it down to 2 things - the first being my upcoming hysterectomy. Yes, everyone else gets a new year hangover and I get a hysterectomy. Yay me! The hospital sent me the leaflets and on the cover are all these grey haired older ladies laughing - obviously just tickled pink at the thought of being womb-less, and I thought 'Christ, is that me now?' My Mother had the same op when I was 11 and I remember thinking it was for OLDER women - like REALLY old - and yet, she was younger than me when she had it. Similarly my Aunt had one aged 41. So here I am, in the era of untenable periods and gynaecological surgeries.

Obviously I'm thrilled about no longer having to suffer for 3 weeks of every month - but there is a part of me that mourns my fertility. That though I don't want any more children, I'm saddened that the child bearing years are over. That I'm done. There is something so finite about it all - that is hard to swallow. Most of all, the knowledge that that era has passed... and the new one makes me... old(er).

The other reason is a sadder one: in the past month I have had so many friends lose their parents or receive devastating news about their health. This Xmas, as I sat next to my Mother as she drove around Ireland, shopping for her perfect Xmas, I looked at her with new eyes - simply grateful to have her in my life. I'll confess I take my parents for granted, expect them always to be around - have only in the past few years put my childhood grievances to bed, and embraced this new dynamic.

Are we really here - at an age where our parents are not the robust over-bearing energetic folk that we once knew? Even, are we?

This Xmas, though it is far from my favourite holiday (too much stress and pressure and expectation for the good of anyone's health) I jumped head first into the celebration pool - made time for all my family, flew home to Ireland, though it was far from the easy option. Rather than eating out as I preferred, I respected that my Mum loves a home cooked turkey instead. It's time for me to be less selfish - to just accept my folks for who they are and relish what I have.

Because of the new box. The box that says I'm not 23 any more, and make up isn't going to hide the morning after the night before sins. That I no longer paint the town red, but cosy up inside friend's houses with all our children running feral way past bedtime. That conversations with my 17 year old niece suggest I am the older tragic adult who thinks they are still cool but is far removed from the word as is possible. That exercise isn't a choice any more, but a necessity. That a size 4/8 may no longer be within my grasp - and that is OK. For the first time in my life, I'm in a new box. But I'm here and that is all that matters.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Planets colliding

Rarely if ever do I find myself looking for astrological guidance - but today I googled Astrology zone just to see WTF is up with them there planets.

Why? Because since mid November things have been turbulent to say the least. There was the operation that never was - or rather it was an op, but just not the one I thought I was going to have. Followed by the news I have to have another, more serious one. NO SMILEY FACE HERE.

Then after that it all went a bit tits up really: people misconstruing things I've said and taking it all wrong; people I thought I knew well behaving in a wildly different manner; and all and sundry having horrifically bad news. Not a day has gone by in this past week where I have not heard a tragic story - it seems the world has gone a little cray cray.

Sadly I could find no rhyme nor reason to all this presumed celestial angst. Perhaps it is also the loom of bloody Xmas and all the exhausting expectation it demands - not to mention exhausting efforts. Every year I swear I will be on a plane for the next one - and at last in Dec 2016 I think it will be so - as we finally head to Aussie shores, for my Husband's return - a first in 15 years...

I don't know, I thought life got LESS complicated the older we get - not MORE. And yet, it seems as if so much more is at stake. Plus, in this digital ace - when we communicate by text, snapchat, email and Facebook - the nuances in our sentences, the tone - the meaning is all but lost. People read into our words as if we had never written them. The room for misinterpretation is enormous - and the result? EVEN more emails and texts and snapchat and Facebook conversations to resolve them. *Sighs and yearns for a simpler time*

I've even been misinterpreting things myself: on a night out in London last week, with a group of amazing drunkards women, after consuming a lot of fizz and jagarbombs and shots and dark and stormies - we all had to make like Cinders to jump into our waiting carriage minibus. I arrived at said bus and then remembered I had left my nice scarf behind in the club. So I dashed back and retrieved it (after almost coming to blows with a doorman who was about to refuse me entrance - see what I mean about everything being difficult??). then I came out - and... No bus. The had left without me. I paced along Camden, verging on tears, with no coat, no phone, no money - nothing - panicking at what to do. I searched along the street, screaming for my group - when about 15 minutes later - a LONG 15 minutes I add - one of them called to me. I jumped into the bus and raged at the crew - 'I am so fecked off with you lot! You left me! Deserted me! In Camden! How could you have???!!!  I then leant my head on the window and tried to keep awake on the journey home.

Once home, I dropped my spare jeans in the street (my daughter found them the next day) and stormed drunkenly into my house. Only later did the ladies tell me, the bus had never moved. I however had walked in try wrong direction and in my state had been unable to find them. Where they stayed, waiting patiently and wondering where the feck I had got to.


Planets, hurry up and speed up and stop this retrograde nonsense I tell you. Roll on 2016....

Monday, 30 November 2015

Goodbye Flo you old bitch...

I want to say it was an unseasonably cold May, back in 1987, but in Ireland, summers rarely began, if ever, before June. I stood at the top of the stairs in a flimsy white tennis skirt - barely covering my derriere. My Mum's partner shouted up to me to get tracksuit bottoms on, that it was freezing and there was no way I could go to tennis practice dressed like that. Deciding I couldn't be bothered to argue, I obliged.

Never have I been more grateful - as that day, I got my period, aged 14 and one month, for the first time. For some reason I thought a period was a moment of purge - and that I would only have to wear the brick like sanitary towel for all of a day. Then, yes, only then, did my mother break it to me that it lasted longer. I was devastated. But not as much as I was 3 days later, when I was certain Flo had left the building, only for her to return with a vengeance, just as I played a competitive game of squash in the same flimsy white skirt.

From that day on, I decided on two things: 1. tampons were the only way forward and 2. Flo was my enemy. And she has been ever since. Let me count the ways? The jeans she has ruined on her tidal days; the carefully chosen delicate lace underwear destroyed upon her early arrival; the sheets she has  coloured - on holidays, at friends' houses, on a first 'sleepover' in a new relationship, on camping trips in sleeping bags (my favourite); the nights of passion she has refused to allow; the moments she has shown up - in meetings, on dates, at weddings, in job interviews - completely unexpected. The stress she has caused to find myself out of tampax and the shops all shut; the embarrassment at her over-flow (once on a tube, another time on a bus - and let's all forget the airplane drama). Nothing has ruined my life quite like Flo.

Her best buddy PMT hasn't exactly made life a walk in the park either. The sheer force of my hormones has rendered me suicidal, psychotically angry, desperately needy and wildly violent - all in the space of ten minutes. Husband says he too 'suffers' my PMT. Not a month in my life has ever gone by without breast pain, aching stomach, bloated belly, back pain and cramps. Except when I was pregnant. The only 2 times I have ever been grateful to Flo. Yes, my 2 kids have been worth every second of all that hell. But weighing it up - God is having a freakin' laugh isn't he, if this is what women have to endure just to have children one day?

But come January, me and Flo are divorcing - for good. It has been a bizarre pill to swallow - that my child bearing years are over; that my womanhood will forever be changed - but I am more than ready. Surgery is my only choice - after two operations this year I cannot keep going under only to wake and discover more surgery is needed.... I may have a tampax bonfire to celebrate. My lovely 'luxury items' that I guess at 3.50 per month for towels x 13 times a year (every four weeks people!) equals £45.50 plus tampax at £50.70 a year (lets not include all the prescriptions for transexamic acid and stain removal etc) is £92.20 a year for 28 years - is almost £2,700 I have spent in my lifetime. That is a freakin' holiday there... Anyway, whilst I am not jazzed on the thought of surgery at all - and the recovery - I think I will be a new woman - Flo-less. The PMT will stay - well I have to give my husband something to keep him on his toes, no?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Halloween is my Xmas

If only I had more time to blog... So what is moving and shaking around these parts?

No. 1 The quest for the PERFECT winter boot continues. I have tried on Uggs (SO comfy but the nicest ones are the biker boots and I have a pair of bikers already - not Ugg ones - so can't see the point in forking out for another pair). I've tried on the fluffy Ugg trainer thing which made me look like an ostrich and I have spent more hours online than I can mention hunting - but at last, sitting in the hairdresser the other day as my daughter got her blonde locks chopped, I spied these babies in an advert:

OH MY GOD COME TO MAMA. But they are a fecking fortune. I'm going to torture myself by trying them on anyway. Then if I really love them I may ask a friend going to the States to get them as they be WAY cheaper there. But will I look fabulous in them, or somewhat Yeti?

No. 2 I have only just discovered The Jinx - which I know I know, is like saying 'These Oasis lads are onto some decent music aren't they?' Anyway I have only a second to blog as I have 2 eps still to do on it and away I must.

No. 3 I'm off into hospital again next week - and I can't wait. Apart from the going under bit and having surgery and all that - I'm excited as it is a night away from the kids. Plus, after it I shall never have a period again. How goddamn exciting is that? Those 'luxury' items cost me £££ every month not to mention the fortune I spend in prescriptions for Tranexamic acid tablets. Honestly women get such a bum deal in life - teens blighted by unexpected period arrival, twenties trying not to get pregnant, 30s desperately trying to get pregnant and 40s suffering for having had children. God was most definitely a man.

No. 5 WHY OH WHY are we even talking about Xmas? I fecking HATE Xmas. Did I mention that before? All that money and greed and trying to keep everyone happy and waste of paper - I wish to god it was bi-annual. All it says to me in big letters is 'STRESS.' Oh yeah the run up is fun - all festive dos and red cups and mince pies and frantic meet ups, but the actual day itself? Anyone who enjoys it is lying. This year - thinking my family would want to see me on Xmas day, I booked to return to Northern Ireland - but it turns out folk make their own plans and I'm not included after all. Or I am... when it suits them. Slot in. Fly all the way to Ireland to slot in? Thank god some good buddies are around - their festive cheer would light up Oxford street, so all is not lost. But in general, the event brings me out in hives. All that expectation -for what? Wish we all slung money in charity boxes and went to the pub instead. Call me grinch, or bah humbug - and I accept. Halloween is my Xmas, we all know that.

No. 6 Halloween was epic this year. I think the best by far. Husband, who started drinking as he made his famous chilli at 11am, was hammered watching the rugby at 4 (a devastated Australian). Why we let him near fireworks with kids around at 8 is beyond me. He was safely tucked up in bed by 9. Meanwhile I made more lychee martinis than you could shake a stick at... My neighbours called in at 9:30 and no one was making any sense, so they promptly left. Oddly we all made sense to one another... Still, at 11:30 my Mum told me to keep the music down and I forced everyone out like Cinders at midnight. It was memorable. Well until 9pm anyway...

I am just SO pleased with my pumpkin bag, aren't I? #style #youknowyouwantone

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Rage, rage against the well, whatever you fancy.

This week has felt quite emotionally difficult - for many reasons. Oh where to begin. I know! Things I learnt this week... part 389


So when I arrived in my small market town, I heard only bad things about the local high school. Meanwhile, several years later a good friend told me she was putting her son through the 11 plus. She had struggled to get a good tutor, which would ensure a great chance at passing the exam and going to a fabulous highly academic grammar school in the next county. I immediately got on the case as my son was a year younger and sorted a fab tutor. I was all set. So I thought.

Then it came to visiting the schools. The big wig grammar was fab - just like my old school, in a 70s building. The headmistress seemed fine, not warm or exciting - but safe. The school looked great. All boxes ticked. Then I went to the local high school - set in stunning old buildings, with a beautiful vista, stone chapel and luscious grounds. The headmaster gave a speech so inspiring I nearly jumped up in pew shouting 'Captain my Captain.' He said his school was not an academic hot house, that their motto was to 'aspire and achieve,' that schools must constantly adapt in a world where our intake were barely born by the time Facebook began. I left thinking, 'have I got it wrong?' 

Then I chatted to my son's head teacher and she was brilliant. She asked, "why put your kid through all that pressure at 10?" What if he failed? I did the 11 plus - because in Northern Ireland, one has to, and I swore I would never put my kids through it. 

I realised something huge: my son is not me. He doesn't come from a broken family; he is not an only child; he does not need school in the way I desperately did. It may have been my salvation in many ways - but that was pure luck - luck that I made the amazing friends I did. Luck that I still have them in my life today. 

Instead of getting caught up in all the vacuous social status, the running with the herd, the blind thinking - I listened to my gut. For some people with academic bright kids, the 11 plus is a great idea. My son is emotionally smart, a wonderful peace maker and his teacher said he would probably pass - but not fly though it. Why go through all that stress only to maybe ruin his esteem if all his mates passed and he didn't? Why make him be the kid I was - the kid he isn't? It was hard for me, to let go of all the dreams I had had in my head. But I thought of what school would be best for him - what school really excited me - and how lucky I am that I live in a lovely town where the local one is so impressive. I emailed the tutor. I'm out of it. My son is happy and therefore so am I. 


I got the train back from story conference last night - and met 3 brilliant women (and 2 of their kids). One was a student from London, studying in Glasgow. We envied her youth, until she reminded us that she may never get on the property ladder. And has debts of 40K, before even doing a masters.
She was articulate and lovely and a feminist. She worried about ever having kids and juggling it with a career.

Which is where we took up the gauntlet. All 3 of us worried about work and kids and the eternal juggling. I can honestly say that it hasn't been until this year that I FINALLY think I have got to a place where I have work/life/kid balance. Yet I talk to so many women friends who tearfully admit they want to work - but how on earth do they combine it with motherhood? Just read THIS. If it doesn't make you bloody raging - then you are dead to me. I mean WHAT is the world coming to??? When did it get so hard for women to have careers? Why do we always have to choose?

What is the point of getting degrees and debts and all that jazz if we end up having to leave work or be demoted just for having kids? WHEN are employers going to wake up to the fact there is an army of talented educated women who want to work - but just want to do so with flexible hours or the understanding they have families that sometimes they need to get to. What future is my daughter looking at? One where she has to graduate, pay off her debt, buy a house, meet someone and have kids in 15 years? That is A LOT of pressure to put on women don't you think?


Try as I might I can't get an appointment with my GP - the one I want to see - about my never ending periods and raging hormones. If this is what it is going to be like until the menopause - KILL ME NOW. I'm keeping Tampax in business and not much else. Meanwhile I had my 'NHS check up' which was pointless as I refused to give blood or be weighed. The above article only highlights how ridiculous it has become for a junior doctor - those poor overworked people who do their best and are thwarted at every turn. Before our eyes it crumbles and how do we stop it? Read this and weep. 


Because it looks a feck of a lot better on their tanned, lithe bodies than it will ever look on YOU. They have 15 years on me, no kids and a life spent moisturising, detox dieting and searching for the perfect winter boot. They aren't doing a supermarket sweep of Zara with a crying kid on one arm and the other shouting they 'need a wee.' All you are doing is spending a lot of time wrapping up boxes and going to 'collect plus.'


Well I had to end on a cheery note didn't I? Thank god Halloween is next week. Lychee martinis ahoy! 

Over and out. x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Back from the dead

This morning, a grey wet miserable excuse of a one, I decided to read back over my blog and a thought struck me - I have MISSED blogging. A lot. I just didn't seem to have time to get my blog on when I was juggling other paid blogging writing and script writing and child rearing and house cleaning and all that jazz.

Plus, (those that know me in the flesh may well be surprised by this comment) I felt like I had nothing to say. There is something about being in a work environment that gets your creative juices flowing and through various chats you come up with a whole range of stuff that you simply MUST blog about. But as I am no longer in full time work, seeing fab colleagues every day and now that my kids are not quite as stressful (though they have their moments) and Husband works from home all the time (he has gone from NEVER being here which did my head in to ALWAYS being here which obviously also does my head in) there aint so much to have a beef with...

I don't find a wealth of material to comment on, with the school run being my main social outing in the day. I haven't been to the cinema for an ages because there is feck all on I want to see - save the Krays film with Tom Hardy (that man can act, if you don't believe me watch Locke, where he holds an entire film driving in a car - no mean feat). I can't even remember the last film I saw - oh hold on - it was Trainwreck, which was so woeful I walked out. I love Amy Schumer (who doesn't?) but dear god this was bad - particularly the scenes when she wasn't on screen - with some bumbling sports star who's name escapes me. I've seen plates of lard with more personality. I'm amping for pre-Oscar season to finally get exited about something film wise - as the new stars wars? Meh.

I've gone from a summer that was nothing short of frantic to an autumn that is oddly quiet. Perhaps I'm just treading water until Halloween, my favourite holiday as you know. This year it'll be filled with fresh troops as I usher in a new set of folk I've met through my daughter, to celebrate with lychee martinis and more decorations than Harrods at Xmas.

One thing you should catch (if you be in London town) is a great exhibition called, Before They Were Fallen that two of my mates put together. It combines portraits and stories of those who lost loved ones in Afghanistan. I went along to the opening on Wednesday and to say it was moving was an understatement.

Often things haunt us - we see something on the news, read a story in a paper, and we just can't seem to shake it. The story that won't leave me is this one, from Humans of New York. It's the tale (in 3 pictures) of a guy called Shane, who was left at a children's home when he was 4. He remembers trying to persuade his Dad not to leave him yelling, 'I'll be good. I'll be good.' In an attempt to stop his Dad leaving he rips at his shirt, so his Dad ends up driving away shirt-less. The imagery of such pain just guts me. Every night I kiss my 4 year old daughter as she snuggles down to sleep and I can't ever imagine leaving her, or bear the thought of her being left. His tale has no happy ending, so if you read it and like me, want to help, his Go Fund me page is here.

So how have you all been? Anyone still reading - be nice to know you're around. I'm gonna try and dip in a bit more. Maybe even find something to moan about...

CM x

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

All over a frock?

September: the air cools, the knits at the back of the closet are reached for once more, the heating goes on and every single newspaper and mag bleats on about London Fashion Week with breathless abandon.

It makes me chuckle when I'm told what 'It' bag (costing enough to feed a refugee family for 5 months) I should be slinging over my shoulder; or that 'culottes are back' when in fact, why did they look good on anybody, ever? "Oh must get a culottes jumpsuit, it's so flattering and warm in winter" said no one, ever. As my photographer  mate Derek said to me in the Sep of '97 as I ran myself ragged trying to get into some inane fashion show, almost trampled by a dozen papps and heeled skeletal women wearing shades indoors, "all this fuss over a frock." Quite.

That's not to say I didn't have a ball when I went to all the shows in London and Paris Fashion Week back in my fashion reporter days. Dame Viv was always good for a cackle, Manolo the nicest man in fashion, and Amanda Wakeley a designer with manners, grace and taste.

I remember feeling high as a kite when I grabbed the first interview with Stella McCartney after her first ever collection for Chloe in Sep '97. I went with Christian Louboutin after spending the morning interviewing him; he gave me the name of Chloe's director: Patrick De La Tour on a yellow post it note and I used this tiny piece of paper to inveigle my way into the show, and somehow backstage - demanding my meeting with Patrick. A security guard the size of an ape, parted the sea of people and brought me through - my cameraman trailing behind me, my mic our umbilical cord. Patrick looked confused, as he would, so I asked the obvious, 'where is Stella?' He pointed over to where she was, exiting a room with Paul and Linda, and I dashed over. She was witty and warm for the whole two minutes I had her, before the room converged upon her and I was squeezed out.

Because you see, everyone takes FASH-ONNNN very seriously. Which is a shame, because the only folk having the last laugh are the big wig companies who are persuading hard working women to part with ££££ to buy something that is 'in' and 'hot' one minute and 'out' the next. The joke is indeed on us. No one has summed up the bizarre notion of fashion better than Dr Seuss, in his book 'The Sneetches.' Read it and see... are we all just craving to be a Star Bellied Sneetch one season and star-less the next...?

Thank the lord for folk like the late, mad, Isabella Blow, (who was hilarious to interview, always wearing a giant Philip Treacy shrimp hat - or some other creation of his - to obscure the back two rows from seeing anything on the runway) or enfant terrible Andrew Groves (ex of McQueen) who had a model wearing latex and a fake fur strut on the catwalk, then open her coat to let out a tonne of flies over the fashion mavens' heads, as she turned and swaggered off, tampon string clearly visible.

I no longer subscribe to fashion for many reasons, not least because my life as a writer doesn't require any fancy heels or pencil skirts or anything other than comfy jeans and trainers. Thank god. All that preening and grooming is such an effort. The best dressed folk are always the ones who just throw things together and don't throw themselves at the mercy of a few editors of dwindling magazines....

That isn't to say I didn't have a blast when I gadded about from show to show and after party. The most memorable being Antonio Berardi's show at Brixton Academy, with Kate Moss strutting down the catwalk wearing plaits and a glittery stetson; or in '99 at Camden Roundhouse, Mel B giving it some oomph at the Julian Macdonald show, cheered on by the rest of her Spice Ladies (minus Geri). LFW was 5 days of eating nothing, drinking anything I could lay my hands on and being asked by frightfully nice ladies like Camilla Morton (Isabella Blow's successor in my mind) if my thrift store dress was 'Versace Versus?' £2 from an All Aboard shop... It was 1997, Labour had just got in, Patsy and Liam were on the cover of Vanity Fair, La Moss opened London Fashion week in a Clements Ribeiro union jack sweater (and avoided all my interview questions, glaring instead) and Britpop ruled the world. London was swinging. It was a fun time to be inspired by all the theatrical shows, chase the attending celebs and star bother the designers themselves at various London haunts like Momos at the Met Bar (where Galliano and McQueen both were charming and agreed to later interviews, but this never materialised in the cold sober light of day).

So as autumn descends once more and fash-pack race around London town ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the latest frock, I can cheerfully say I won't miss it one bit. There is something slightly repugnant in these times to be fawning over mere material, that costs a ridiculous amount of money only to be tossed aside, when the world has much greater needs for your hard earned buck. Are your status items  - your trinkets and toys - the only things to define you? Does anyone ever need to be on a waiting list for a handbag?? I can understand that paying extra for a well cut piece of clothing that will last decades is infinitely better than buying Primark tat that has been made from abusing workers in a far off country. But still. As the dandiest fashionista of them all, Quentin Crisp once said, “Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are.” 

Amen to that. 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Summer 2015

Is finally over. And apart from major anxiety over a script and eternal fretting over juggling childcare and work, it was ACE. I got to spend some excellent quality time with my kids and hang out with those I love. So, for Matt's party and a day in Greenwich; meeting Judy Blume; climbing around Dolby forest with cousins; a York chocolate history treasure hunt with Auntie M; hanging out at the park with C and kids; having H and family to stay (the bar plan to ditch the kids with the Dad's was foiled - next time!); rounders on a sunny beach with the McC clan (#wesowon); dinner at Rathmullan House (and the best breakfast granola I have ever had the pleasure to munch on); Jaws open air cinema with my son at Regents Park (next time remember the blankets!); Nix's wedding (ahhhhhh) and catch ups with C; watching my daughter fall in love with tennis and my son bat at cricket; prosecco at Uncle N and Auntie F's (followed by riverside races); lobster straight from the tank in Portugal (I am going to hell, or coming back in the next life as a lobster); shelling prawns in Portimao; caipirinhas at sundown on Praia Luisa beach; Mark's 40th - glitterstastic; reading Katy's book on the lounger (so proud) ; the best burger of my life at Riding House Street cafe with old schoolmates and a million trillion kids; Munching the best pizza in Ireland with the McK/H brigade in the last of the summer sunshine; walking along by the sea with my Mum on a balmy evening in Ireland (yes they exist); dark and stormies with the entire family at the Jamaica Inn watching the sea roll in and out; M coming to tea (and giving sympathy) and finally, a welcome home lasagne and comfort with the fabulous R's - I thank my lucky stars.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Quick vent

Ok people, I'm just gonna get this one off my sizeable chest.

The summer hols are fucking tough enough. They are relentless and feel a LOT more than 6 weeks as we try and entertain our kids without spunking ££££ every day on activities. So when we make plans to meet, to entertain the kids in some way and it gets cancelled - I get grumpy.

Now I'm totally cool with the fact that kids get sick and can't make it. That I understand. No one wants to hang out with a kid crapping their pants every six seconds or vomming up lunch. I also understand when your car tyre is flat, or you are stuck at work or you 'mixed up' your dates or whatever... But when this happens several times I begin to wonder - do you simply not give a shit and take me for granted???

When it comes to summer hols I am over it like a dog on it's dinner. I plan the whole time with meticulous precision so my kids don't get overly bored and we get around to seeing everyone we love. It is a busy time of year and folk are often away and so filling the days isn't always easy/possible.  My daughter especially gets uber excited when I have made plans to see folk that have kids her age. She talks about it for days on end leading up to the event. So when it gets cancelled, not only do I have to find something else to do, but she gets upset. Meanwhile, I've got in lunch or dinner or whatever, and have to use up the extra food in some way before we ourselves head off on vacation.

Since when did people stop caring and become all about ME? That is fine to cancel the night before or the day of plans? Because hey, CM won't care and she'll have me round/I can have her over another time. I get that life throws spanner in the works - I make allowances all the time. But sometimes I think folk just don't really think through what affects changing plans has.

Well I'm done. Sorry/Not sorry. I'm a pretty damn loyal friend who goes out of her way for folk - and hopefully is a generous host and someone who wants to help people out. But after a while I stand back and go, am I a fecking Mug?? Why make all the effort when those around make none.

So from now on, I'm cutting out the dead wood. If you let me down don't expect me to waiting in the wings next time you need a favour. I'll be washing my hair. 

Monday, 10 August 2015


Last night I took one of those stupid tests on Facebook that people randomly post. It showed just how stressed you are are. My % a mere 70. Meaning I guess that 2/3 of me is wildly stressed. At all times. This chimed with something a friend said to me the other week at dinner. He said that I love stress and will always find something to stress about. This both shocked and unnerved me for several reasons.

Firstly it is always hard to take a long cold look at yourself and see what everyone else appears to and you do not. Secondly, I am certain now that I suffer from anxiety and that the 'stress' I produce is my way of coping with my life. My need for control, my endless angst over the smallest things. Do you honestly think this is how I WANT to be? That someone wants to live in a state of constant anxiety and fretting?

Years ago I worked on some short films about teenage charities - who were all trying to win SKY's 'Make it Big' funding of one million pounds. While filming one day in Herefordshire, I was seated in a bar chatting with a psychologist. He went for a cigarette and when he returned I was speaking to my (then) boyfriend on the phone, asking that the flat be tidy when I returned home. As I chatted, I unwittingly ordered this guys notebooks etc into a neat pile. When I got off the phone he asked me, 'is order important to you?' He gestured to his tidy pile of belongings on the table, then noted my need for a tidy flat. Within minutes he deduced that my chaotic upbringing had made me an extremely anxious child - someone who needs order at all times, to maintain some control over a life that I had (at one point) felt I had no control over.

I grew up in permanent fear that like my Father, my mother would leave me. I shared a room with her until I was 10 and most nights would wake from nightmares and ask her the time. I have a distinct memory of asking my Mother the time over and over again - simply to check that she was still there.

As I aged, I constantly feared that I would be moved - my parents would re-marry and I would be expected to join a new family. Oddly when this happened, I was delighted. It was only when it broke down did the true anxiety begin. My separated families all refused to speak; they would fight over me and about me. I spent years quelling angry parents and trying to placate them all, just to get by. I had 3 sets of keys, and lived with my Mum's ex partner at weekends. I always carried a bag and moved from house to house from the age of 14.

To say it was stressful is an understatement.

Often I try and psychoanalysis myself - work out why I have stress in my life and what makes me anxious. Why am I always afraid? What of?

Have you ever sat around around a table with your oldest friends and wondered if they still like you? Have you ever expected every person you love to leave - so you almost goad them into doing so, just to prove your twisted hypothesis correct? Have you chosen careers in the most rejecting and competitive industries - when in reality you don't feel confident enough to succeed in them yet you are compelled to try?

Then don't judge me. I'm far from perfect. I wish to god I didn't feel as stressed as I do and that I could manage it better. Often I do. But for the majority of my life I've lived hand to mouth. I've picked incredibly unstable but deeply rewarding career paths. I always worry about how to pay my mortgage and bills - I don't have wealthy parents who will bail me out, there isn't an inheritance waiting to save me from all my financial stresses. Yet I won't compromise. I won't give up dreams just to get by. I believe life is for living - and that you should do what you love - that it isn't about the money. And yet, everything costs. Particularly having a family - so this anxiety is one about me wanting to provide and at the same time wanting to be true to myself.

Added to that, I'm not a secure person. I'm not someone who has oceans of confidence and the ability to believe in themselves at all costs. I know people like this; I have a cousin who I've always admired for his ability to sail through life, seemingly unhindered by negative thoughts or worry. Who gets on with things and they always work out. He is uncluttered by the angst that clouds my life, the fears that fog my brain. I don't have that faith in myself. Often I have felt there is a void in me, a blackness that cannot be filled. I once asked my Husband jokingly 'love me more,' and he replied, 'it would never be enough.'

If you think this is easy to write - it isn't. Often those who are the most gregarious, the loudest, the most fun are actually the shyest, the most introvert, the most scared. I'd say my personality masks all the fears that bubble below. The stomach churning angst that accompanies most of my steps. Of course, there are times when I do relax. Mainly with my children. With my oldest girlfriends, who make me feel secure and loved. With those who understand my insanity and who love me in spite of it. They are the truly brave because I'm not an easy package to take on.

I think, as I type at 5:25am, after a sleepless night, that I'm going to look into some cognitive therapies. A way out of this mire. A way to worry less: that I won't get another writing job, that I'll fail, that I was always doomed to fail, that I'm not talented, that I'm not as good a mother as everyone else, that I have somehow fucked up my life, that my Husband will leave.

One of these days I'm not going to worry at all. I'm going to just be.... Just like you.

Friday, 17 July 2015

The new normal

Years ago I explained to a friend that my Husband and I didn't even shop for food together, due to the fact he worked crazy hours running bars and was never home. That if we ever got to do a dash round Sainsburies together, it was almost an exotic event - picking out some cheese. She looked at me wide eyed and said, 'Most people just take that for granted, but you don't even get to do the mundane stuff together.'

It was true. Every night, I ate alone, or caught up with friends. Sundays were sacred days - days when we actually spent some time together, usually watching a double movie bill or lazing with starbucks and papers. Festive events, birthdays, New Years Eves - he would work, helping others to celebrate and get hammered, while I made plans with our him. I never realised just how hard it is, to be married to someone who's night is your day and day is your night.

With children, the loneliness became more acute. I couldn't just pop out to see friends, catch a movie or sink cocktails with colleagues. For a long long time, life was difficult. I envied those who could make weekend plans; had a lump in my throat when I saw happy families sitting down to brunch, felt an all consuming rage towards my other half, for somehow deserting me. I had signed up to parenthood - but not as a single parent. I distinctly remember watching the clock on a Sunday, every second hating him that little bit more, as the small hand edged towards the one. Meanwhile, I'd been up with a toddler since 6 am. 7 hours later, living in a new town knowing no one, with a small child to entertain, I was fuming...

But life is a world away from that now. Everything has changed. Both for Husband and his job, and my work too. I don't think I have ever been in a happier place. Is a weird sentence to write - I feel some bizarre sense of guilt at admitting this. Lord knows why. I've worked bloody hard to be at the place I am now... Anyway, getting paid to write means I don't have as much time, or in fact inclination, to blog. I don't have gut churning angst to pour out, anger to spill, torment to share. I feel so lucky all the time. Thanks to my kids' godfather, my Husband has a whole new life - one in which he manages my son's under 9s cricket team, assists the football coach and even plays cricket himself. (Then hobbles around like an old man, virtually in need of a stick). He goes to the gym, he has time to watch endless Seinfeld re-runs, he makes sure I get time to write. Every chore around the house is spilt 50 - 50. (I still think laundry counts as much more than the bins being brought in - but hey, I won't nit pick).

FINALLY, I am getting the opportunities to have the career I have long wanted - perhaps even longer than I ever admitted to myself. I'll never feel like I'm there fully (9 years as a freelance presenter taught me the minute you rest on your laurels, see that rug you be walking on? It be pulled from under your feet...). But I am so grateful to have the chances. I'm hoping that it fits in with being a Mother. In having more time for my kids, they are so much happier and I feel so much less stressed. I think for many years I felt incredibly insecure in my abilities as a Mother - mainly because I worked so much, and never felt I was there enough. Plus, in lots of ways I didn't want to be - because I did struggle so much with the loneliness and relentlessness of it all.

But now, aged 9 and 4.5 - it is the best thing ever to hang out with them. Who is more excited about the Minion movie this weekend - them or me? Don't get me started on Inside Out - we are counting the days...

Yesterday as I walked to school with Sproglette, I realised that this is how other people must live: working, raising kids, doing the whole schebang together... But I never had that. Plus, in the last 4 years, due to loss of jobs, leaving jobs, having a second child, paying for child care etc etc - I've been asking the church mice for a loan. As my daughter begins full time school in September, we possibly, (hopefully?) are out of the woods.

Last weekend was the best I'd had this year. The sun shone, I took my kids to Greenwich and a friend's birthday party. I was already hungover from a Mums' drinks with a hilarious bunch of women who just happen to have kids the same class. (It was a balmy evening and we sat outside a bar sipping martinis and prosecco, until the bar literally ran out). Then on Sunday, warm rain descended and with soaking wet feet and a newly purchased umbrella I arrived to hear Judy Blume talk about her new book and all her old ones... The teenager inside me danced with joy to hear her talk about Forever. Judy made me not scared to lose my virginity, not afraid to worry about my skateboard boobs, and not ashamed to will my first period to make an appearance. (How in god's name did I ever WANT a period?). Anyway it was fab.

Now school is out this week for summer. I've scripts to write, articles to post, cases to pack. Team CM is on the move for most of August, bar a few days here and there. I'm taking Sproglet to see Jaws at an outdoor cinema. The last time I saw it on the big screen I was 8. It's his fav movie and he can't wait bless him. I can honestly say I'm pretty damn excited about summer and catching up with all those I love. It's always scary to admit any kind of happiness - it's like God is just waiting for that, to then throw a massive curveball your way. Is it just a British thing that we can't relax when things are going good, so worried that the bad is on it's way?

Well, who knows what is around the corner. So while I'm now in this new normal phase, somewhere it has taken me a LONG time to get to, I'll just be grateful for every moment. Happy summer y'all. I wish you nothing but sun, sand, sea, and simply as many rose wines as you can get down your necks.

See you on the other side.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Golden Years

My neighbours' daughter is back from Uni. She wears the sun kissed glow of freedom that comes when Uni ends and the rest of your life beckons. Having spent three years vaguely studying and hardcore partying (like all students) the time has come to depart the flatshare and venture into the big wide world.

How I envy her.

I've decided that, like Ethan Hawke's character states in the brilliant Before Midnight film, there are only a few years where you are genuinely 'free.' From about 18 until 30 or so, when children enter the equation. I'm calling these: The Golden Years.

Of course, they start of pretty grimly. No money, endless job interviews, endless not getting the job after all moments etc. Mind you at least the buggers today have email. Back in my day (Jaysus how old am I??) it was FAXING. At the local newsagents (I mean who could afford a fax?) paying an ungodly sum to send over a largely fake CV. Then, there was the horror of MISSING a potential job lead phone call - as mobiles, - WHAT mobiles - they didn't exist! So you sat staring at a machine all day, willing it to burst into life.

Stamps. Remember those things? The cost of bloody writing (hand written!!!) letters to potential employers - with your typed, photocopied (more money!) CV and then buying 50 million stamps and saying a silent prayer as you sent them. Then - nothing. No fucker in the world getting back to you. Crushing disappointment as you watched every other friend get a stable job, while you grappled with getting a career in telly. Them all going for fancy lunches while you continued folding jumpers at Gap and getting told off my your hitler-youth boss who complained your jeans wall wasn't 'exact' enough. Then finishing your shift and trekking across London to your 'home' which was crashing on the period stained sofa of a friend in St. Johns. Not St. Johns Wood. No, St. Johns, Lewisham. Eating stale reduced price sandwiches as they were the cheapest thing, or surviving on hummus and pitta bread because after you token rent and travel, Gap's pay didn't go too far...

So not so golden to start off with, I'll grant you. But then - you get the job!! My first full time job was as a reporter/news reader at L!VE tv. I honestly was paid £20K a year to read the news in front of a man (my mate Scott) in a 6 foot bunny costume. (Before you ask, I once I had to get in it myself. It stank).

My first day was out interviewing Marti (obviously with an 'i' he was a pop star back then) Pellow from Wet Wet Wet. I covered the news of an election date being set in 1997. I also produced a rather classy series of 'Topless Darts at the Circus.' I made 20 eps for 2K. It was the kind of place where in rain, we covered the cameras with black bin liners and every PR in London refused to let us into anything. I remember European Business News (who? Exactly - and they still got in)  giving us their passes to a Bond Premiere - so we took the flags off our mics and ran in. A woman strode towards me and I thought - this is it - we're getting slung out. She announced, 'You're first to interview Pierce Brosnan.' Hoo rah! Then she asked,  'How is my good friend John?' Obviously I knew no John. I smiled and lied my way through the entire night, expecting to be ejected at any time.  In my time at L!VE I interviewed everyone from Di Caprio to Kate Moss (she hated me) and watched a human autopsy, dressed a dwarf as a ringmaster and got him to chase women around a disused circus in Great Yarmouth (in November) attended Paris Fashion week and became a ghost hunter. (Yes I believe in them).

When I met with mates for cocktails, their jobs seemed dull in comparison - but they are the ones now with private health care and pensions and all that jazz and me? I have memories of getting drunk with Ollie Reed's best friends and chasing George Clooney across Leicester Square demanding an interview. (He refused. Mind you I wouldn't have wanted to talk about THAT Batman movie either).

Anyway, I digress. Once I'd got that job - which was well paid at the time - off I went head first into the golden years of bad dates, good cocktails and most of my money spunked on having a roaringly good time in bars in Soho. I lived in St. Johns Wood (hurrah - the real one at last!) and West Hampstead with a fab bunch of girls. 2 of them were Tv bookers, so there was rarely an evening were we weren't off to some album launch, gig, festival, etc. Meanwhile the rest of my evenings were spent working - blagging and lying my way into every event and hounding celebs like my life depended on it. How did I have the energy? Most were wankers. There was something wonderful about being despised though. It made every snatched interview or grabbed shots feel like a mini victory.

I left L!VE. Began 'freelancing' as an associate producer. Did everything from a doc on Ollie Reed, to showbiz reporting for The Big Breakfast. Until I got a break and became a kids' Tv presenter in 1999. I don't think I actually ever grew up. My first job began on March 7th 1997. I had my first child in June 2006. I had 9 GOLDEN years. Sure they were fraught with periods of unemployment and many many broke days (I remember us all going for dinner in Camden and eating an apple, because I couldn't afford a meal - I did afford wine though so I had my priorities right). I remember the fear of a mate leaving a flatshare - who would replace her? I remember worrying over affording my £450 a month rent... I often wonder how I ever afforded to go out EVERY night and how I ever made it to work of a morning, when I was in the Met bar when the lights went on (school disco ending style) at 4am.  I remember having many's a broken heart over some idiot or other and being convinced I would marry a rock star and move to Miami.

I didn't obviously.

But I sure had a helluva lot of fun. But the more I think back, the less I envy the girl next door. Because all those years - in many ways - were my search to end up where I am now: having a permanent home, being in a relationship, having a family. And so I must finish this post - I've a shower to jump into and a movie to catch: a family outing to Jurassic World. The more I think about it, those golden years - they're actually a bit more silver. Or now, now is the platinum era for sure.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Nostalgia part 1.

Ahhh back in the day, I used to do some fun stuff on telly and the other week I found the DVD.  Christ, I got paid to act like an ejit.

Shame that isn't still the case... 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Internal Debate

So here's the thing - do I move home?

As in, do we pack up lock stock and barrel and move to Northern Ireland - where we can have a sea view, be near family, neck some dark and stormies over good craic and have a 5 bedroomed house with huge garden for the price of our Victorian terrace here?

For so long I always said, 'Nah, we can't go - work keeps me in London' -when I presented, when I script edited. But I've long ago let my ambitions fly out of the window - I don't want things with a burning desire any more - I want the easy path. I don't want to fight and compete and network and all that bullshit. I just want to see a movie or two, hang out with friends, afford some dinners out.

Husband and I used to be all about the fine dining, the Michelin stars, the latest hip place. Now I think it's all such a load of wank. Husband, he who spent years in the food and drinks industry - hates the pomp and posture of half the new restaurants - he thinks they are all just carbon copies of all that has been before. I'm never gonna spunk £400 on a meal for 2 again - when I could put that towards something brilliant for my kids. Life is all about family now - not about being able to brag about getting into some 'exclusive' bar or restaurant, only to feel on edge the whole night, not sure if what you are wearing is right.

I'm over anything pretentious and anything shallow. I just want home comforts and sincere friends. Going home feels easy. There is nothing on earth like a stroll by the sea. The food in Belfast is hearty, healthy fare, the locals chatty, the atmosphere warm. I feel slightly out of place, having lived away from the Isle for so long - 24 years. But lately I have felt the pull, the lure of place.

I have family there - all my family pretty much. I've some good mates - not many - count 'em on one hand - but they are the kind I'd drop everything for. Instead of weekends like this one - where, save for maybe a saturday night dinner with mates - I am alone. There are no 'pop-ins' here. Sure we have friends - but only a handful I see regularly. Writing from home has made me more insular than ever, and I'm not ashamed to admit it has made me lonely at times. I have maybe 3 women (in my small town) who ask me for a coffee out of everyone here I know - and whilst my daughter's class is filled with fab Mums, I don't know any of them in a close way.

I kind of feel like a fish out of water here. I like company, I like chat, I like being surrounded by people and warmth. Here it feels it has to be planned, it has to be carved out in stone weeks before as everyone is so busy busy busy. I find some folk odd - they are friendly one day, cool the next. I miss the Irish way of chatting to everyone - even a lamppost in the hope that it will talk back to you.

We write lists, Husband and I, about what to do. Where to go. Houses in my neck of the woods cost ££££ - I don't have a spare £1.2 million for the next size up of my house. I love my little town: the canal, the sweeping fields where my son plays cricket, the cobbled streets and quirky houses. But I'm also slightly bored of it. I love London being a mere 40 mins away - but I don't visit it very often. Nothing on earth beats Soho in the summer - the sweaty heady potential of the gridded streets, filled with those spilling out of bars. But Fealty's with it's turf underfoot during race week, the Empire with it's gallery, the Merchant hotel with it's architecture - can all give it a run for it's money.

I'm not really sure about lots of things at the mo. I've changed, I know that. I used to care about being at the right places, star bothering, glam nights - all in the 90s and early 2000s. Then I married, then I had kids. My life is a world away from those days. So now it's time to think about the great school my kids could go to (my old alma mater), the big house we could buy, the family support we could have. Yes, it will rain. Daily. Yes I will often wonder why I moved somewhere that I was once  desperate to escape from. But my heart is telling me one thing, my head another. I see how happy my son is at his school - yet I also know that in 2 years he will leave it.

Maybe we will all be leaving here, who knows?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Letting go.

Today my heart feels a little heavy, my step a little weary, my head a bit bleurgh.

All because I sent my 8 3/4 year old off to an evacuee centre, with his little number round his neck and a black cap on his head. He'll be staying there for 2 nights, learning all about what evacuated kids went through during world war 2. He was beyond excited: patiently listening as I packed and re-packed his case, with a tick list ready for him to adhere to when he packs to return; studying his costume in the mirror and fixing his cap at a jaunty angle. Me - not so much. I mean of course I'm delighted that he's heading off on a school trip with all his buddies, and how much he'll learn and grow from the experience - it is just - he has never left me before. EVER. I keep walking past his room and it all feels so quiet. Sproglette is in mourning - but has managed to quell her tears with haribo. What a trooper.

All of a sudden - on the cusp of 9 - he is growing away from me: he now walks to school with his friends, he changes on his own at swimming and no longer shares baths with his sister - preferring to shower alone. It's as it should be - and yet, I feel so redundant at times. Like, I've waited for this moment (to not have to suffer stinky swimming pool changing rooms for example) and yet now that it is here - I am a bit bereft. Bizarre isn't it? Tis so true that they grow up so friction' quickly. I can understand completely why folk squeeze in baby no 3 (NOT that I have any plans in that direction).

We trundled into the school hall and found out which group he was in. We wandered over to... a group of about 10 girls. His face fell. All around the room his buddies stood in other groups. Luckily he had one chum in his group - which seemed ok, until this kid was sent to another one! Sproglet's face fell and I asked the teacher if he had any more boys in my son's group. He read the list and Sproglet looked so gutted - none were his friends. Now he has many buddies - yesterday he wrote a list of 14 he plans to invite to his party - but not one was on the list. His face told the story. I asked if he disappointed and he replied quietly, 'very.' He stood silently and stared ahead. I sighed, my own stomach in knots - not wishing to leave him with his little face so downbeat.  It reminded me of the years at school in sort when I was picked last for the team, or left out of a girlie secret - it is just DEVASTATING. Suddenly the teacher said, "Sproglet why don't you join Mrs XYZ's group over there," and pointed towards a group of boys in the corner. Sproglet BEAMED and ran towards 6 of his friends. I thanked the teacher (I could have hugged him right there and then like a complete weirdo) - I was just so so glad that he had clocked the situation. The next minute Sproglet was in group photos and laughing away, so kissing him goodbye was easy.

For him.

I dashed away from the school, tears in my eyes and a massive lump in my throat. I miss hearing his voice, hearing Sproglette's laughter as he messes about sending her into fits of giggles. He'll be back on Friday, exhausted, with a (no doubt) half packed case filled with dirty clothes. He'll have stories galore and will ask once again to watch Dad's army. But that night, when I get my hug, I'll be squeezing more tightly than usual. While I still can...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The end of CMWD?

I started this blog many moons ago, mainly because I felt so disenchanted with Motherhood; with the idea I had been sold about what the whole experience would be. I felt lonely, isolated, trapped and insecure and by writing about it, I hoped somehow to connect with others in a similar predicament.

Over the years I've struggled with how to combine motherhood and work; I had never in my wildest dreams imagined how hard a task this would be. My original career as a presenter just wasn't working with a baby's routine and I was somewhat lost about what to do next... As someone who had been incredibly ambitious all her life, to suddenly not be so, left me all at sea.

My marriage suffered many low points with my Husband's demanding job: for 5 plus years I felt like a single parent, without the kudos and occasional free weekend...  I lost my job due to company policy to not let a script editor stay on after 2 years and got pregnant the same week I left. I tried to find solutions to my never ending work/motherhood problem but the solutions didn't pay very well - and most of my income was taken by childcare costs.

I bemoaned the difficulties of Motherhood, not least the loss of self. It felt like a job I had no apparent skills to do - the needs of children forever shifting, my abilities never quite enough. This blog became my place of respite, where I could vent un-judged. Where I could be honest and still find support. Most of all, it was somewhere I could go to write - something I loved to do.

At the weekend I realised I've kind of come full circle. I am now in love with Motherhood in a way I perhaps never was. My kids are at gorgeous ages: almost 9 and 4. Leaving my job last year to be around for them more, was one of the best things I have ever done. In having more time for them, I became less stressed - and all of a sudden things became so much easier. Sure, I have been broke most of this year - as I plough on towards new horizons, but I am much much happier. On Sunday the gales blew, and we ordered Thai food. Sitting around the table we played the post-it game where we all tried to guess the name on our foreheads. I felt content. Grateful for all I have. It has taken me a long time to get here.

I don't have buckets of angst any more. I'm not bitter about earning so little but working so hard. I'm no longer enraged that I never had maternity pay, that my career in TV proved so difficult and relentless. I don't feel other Mothers are better than me, or have some insider secrets. I'm no longer lonely. I've reached a point where I'm beyond proud of my kids - not through my parenting - but just the little people that they are. The way they view the world. The joy they see in it.

Husband, thanks to his best friend - has a whole new way of living and is an equal parent in every way. He has been more supportive to me in the past year than I could have asked of anyone. He believes in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

Finally, I think, I'm at a point where all my questions of old: 'how do I combine work and motherhood successfully?' have been answered. I'm not there just yet, but almost.

I feel I don't want to share my life any more. It isn't interesting to anyone but me. It is school runs, and football matches, plaiting hair and washing swim kits. It is parent evenings and movie dates. It is dinner with friends and Husband cooking up a storm for neighbours (beef wellington no less). It is red wine and Bloodline. It is sun on my face as I run along our pretty canal and wind in my hair at the side of a football pitch. It is deeply mundane. It is perfect. I've learnt that no-one is the perfect mother - that no marriage is forever secure. That everyone worries about money and career and making ends meet. That we all fear failure, that we all have moments of doubt. I just shared mine with everyone on here, that was all.

It's time for me to take a break from here. Not that I won't be back. I just don't know when. Writing as my job now has meant less need to jot it all down here. Maybe I'll buy a diary instead. But I do want to thank all those over the years who have told me how much they love my blog: that it made them laugh, or cry, or both. For the lovely writers who have told me 'You can write' - a huge compliment from such talented folk. I have felt so much love and kindness when people bothered to comment in my moments of dark despair. I honestly think this blog is the reason my marriage is still together and my head is vaguely sane.

I will always be the crummy mummy who drinks. I just don't feel so crummy any more.

Love always,

CM xxx

Saturday, 14 March 2015

How little we need

Today I had had enough. I couldn't open my daughter's wardrobe due the two enormous overflowing toy filled bags that were in front of it. I sighed. Time for the spring clean. 4 hours later, we can open said door AND my son can now see his wardrobe floor. Sproglette and I have tussled over every toy and managed to fill 2 bags to go to charidee and 2 for the bin. I have yet to tackle my son's toys - that will maybe be the summer clean.

Plus today I read of Daisy Goodwin's house burning down and how she literally had nothing bar the clothes she stood up in, and whatever she had in her handbag. I felt an odd emotion creeping over me - one of almost... envy. Now that is frankly bizarre I know. But apart from my old diaries, some old photos and the baby gros I brought my kids home in, my mothers day cards and er... a toy hippo I have had since I was 7, I don't have much sentimentality. I HATE clutter. I have few clothes, one make up bag, a drawer of products and no fancy jewellery save for my engagement ring.

It made me realise how little I value material possessions. Sure I love a good moisturiser and a lovely White Company throw, but ultimately I don't really give a flying fuck about having swanky stuff and endless ornaments and tat. I read about a guy who had just one of everything in his house: one plate one cup, one pair of jeans, one chair, etc and it sounded insane - and blissful. Goodwin commented that wearing the same clothes for 3 weeks had made life simpler - a uniform of sorts. Obviously it is hideous having to be uprooted and all the horror of dealing with insurance companies and memories of things once loved now gone - but oddly it has made her happier, and I understand why.

We clutter our lives with objects and gadgets and trinkets that we think will make us happy. For a brief spell they do. The delight when getting a new pair of shoes is a good few weeks of joy. But ultimately it is just 'stuff' that gathers on shelves and in wardrobes and often we forget we even have it.

I am regular de-junker. Sometimes I think, in not regularly buying our kids toys - unless it is special treat - have we denied them? I have walked into homes where the kids have more toys than you could shake a stick at. But my kids never want for anything - and I'm more about 'lets go to the park/eat ice cream, go swimming,' than 'lets play with a lot of plastic.' Once they have outgrown a toy I am unsentimental (bar Woody and Buzz who I love madly) about lobbing them into the charity box.

There are drawers in my house that are filled with sellotape and odd stuff from Xmas crackers and batteries and playing cards. I often de-junk these but somehow the junk creeps back. For some reason, I hate stuff, I love clean lines, empty spaces and very little on display. I feel secure when everything is tidy and in it's place. To say I have OCD wouldn't be a lie.

Husband has even less possessions. He barely buys clothes and has never really cared about having anything apart from SKY tv and an iPad. He often says that all he needs to be happy are us and a good bottle of wine, a movie trip occasionally and maybe a book or two.

It is funny the older I get, the less I need, the less I want. The fancy shoes of my 20s lie at the back of my wardrobe gathering dust - holding too many memories to throw out, but yet I will never wear them again. They are from a different life: one that involved heels and lipgloss and 7 outfits to present all the week's continuity in. But my life now is a school run; hunched over a Mac feverishly typing. If I go out for drinks, I'm as likely to be in trainers/converse to comfortably run for the last train home. Slinky dresses and pencil skirts with towering heels are just not in my world.

Is clearing them out confirming what I know - that life has moved on and will never be that again? Do I hold onto the one pair of Manolos, the beautiful Westwood skirt, because although I know they won't be worn again, I'm somehow still unable to give that girl up?

Anyway, nothing has made me happier this weekend in my de-cluttering. (Apart from my daughter telling me she loved me more than all the dolphins and fish in the world - and er... werewolves and dogs). Plus I'm off to see It Follows - a horror movie date with husband is one of my favourite things - and yes, you've guessed it - I won't be wearing heels.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Lunar Tempo

I can hardly walk, bend down or climb stairs. I am THRILLED.

I am back at the gym. Back in the hands of sweet Paul with the nice eyes who makes me hurt from every possible muscle. I think I love him. That, combined with body combat and the fact the sun is shining and my endless period has ended - has made me, to quote Pharrell - Happy.

Thank god for sunshine and for throwing one's body around in bizarre contorted shapes, because it will be the salvation of me. I have managed through alcohol, cake and a lot of bread,  oh and crisps - goddamn them - to put on 8 pounds since the start of December. Now, off they must come.

Exercise not only helps my heart and my stomach, it also helps my mind. Which is why I invested in a brand spanking new pair of trainers that will arrive later today. I think I may love them as much as my children. Stepping into them, I will feel like a new person. One who will enjoy running. One who likes a lunge. Not at a man I may add. They shout 'she exercises' and look like the kind of thing athletes or those who know how to lift a kettle bell wear. Nike lunar tempo. Almost poetic eh? In them I will become a new woman. One who likes blisters and has firm thighs.

When I get them I know it will look like a elephant putting on some ballet slippers. It is that much of a paradox. But over time, we will become one, this shoe and I. I will eventually earn the right to wear them.

For Mothers day I am asking for stretchy legging things instead of a cake and flowers. Most of all I need new headphones. (Although I did read a disturbing article today that runners with headphones are more likely to be attacked).

I have 5 weeks to lose ten pounds and become ready for summer - so that when I discard those jumpers there will be a normal human being underneath. A firmer one than there is now for sure. Day 2 of no sugar and bread and rice and pasta and spuds and all the joyous white food that exists. I'm going pretty good - even though Husband dramatically opposes every SINGLE thing my trainer has said about diet. Trainer thinks I should just be a panda (look at the size of those fuckers) and eat plants and not much else. Husband thinks that is wrong and you need meat as your protein source to build muscle. He mocks trainer - and whilst I am desperately wishing he is jealous of me giving my attentions to another man 2 hours a week, it isn't the case.

So trainer Paul says eat lentils and sweet potatoes and no meats - fish is ok - and lots of veg. Husband says fuck that - eat LOTS of meat and veg and cheese and good fats all cooked in coconut oil. I am confused, but at least not reaching for the biscuit tin. Life was simpler though when a bad day could be cured by cake and fine red wine. *Sigh*

I know that this 5 week torture will end, and I cannot go back to my cake guzzling past. I must venture into new pastures. So thank gawd I have my new trainers to take me there....

Monday, 2 March 2015


The days where the blackness descends, when my head is foggy and my heart heavy, when I don't want company or even comfort, the only thing that lifts me from my funk is hiding away in a darkened cinema.

I've been struggling a bit of late; my operation has left me with an eternal period and there is nothing quite as draining as an endless bleed. TMI? Like I care. I've felt despondent about everything - my appearance, my work, my general connection with the world. It all feels like a lot of effort, too much in fact, and I feel like I have nothing to give or contribute of any relevance.

The winter blues have grabbed me and have me in their frosty clutches. Perhaps when spring has sprung and the sun begins to shine, I too will emerge from my hibernation.

I feel like I've begun to look at things with a new perspective: really notice everything much more acutely. For example, since when did people stop listening? I mean really listening? Are meet ups with people simply to serve the purpose of letting someone hold court - pontificating on all their favourite topics: themselves and their favourite films, restaurants, their work, their exhaustingly RIGHT opinions, until you wonder why you are sitting there? Maybe just to be lectured at. If you vanished would they notice or even care? Since when did people think that their opinion was the only one that mattered and lose all graciousness when it comes to being interested in others?

God, I know I can talk for Britain, and heck, I love a movie debate more than anyone - but I hope with all my heart that I also ask questions; that I also am interested in others, curious even, in their lives, their hopes, their worries. That I am not just fixated on myself and showing off whatever knowledge I have acquired from someone else's writing and merely regurgitate it in some insecure way in the hope of impressing folk...

Lately I've begin to sit back and observe more. It is unlike me and yet it is a lesson I should have learnt a long time ago: you learn so much more from listening rather than talking. I see the incredible social awkwardness that exists in almost every sphere of human interaction. No wonder parties are awash with alcohol - what we would say to the person at a leaving do that we haven't seen in a year, if we haven't had 3 gins?

Anyway, yesterday I went to see the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. It was breath taking. Incredibly moving and exceptionally well written. A journey of 1000 miles through desert and snow does not riveting viewing make - so kudos to Nick Hornby and the director Jean-Marc Vallee for creating such a captivating film. Witherspoon has never been better as the broken girl, walking herself back to the 'woman my Mother thought I was.' My friend Ayesha had read the book and long ago recommended it to me - I now wish I had read it. Without giving away any spoilers, Sheryl mentions her mother saying that every day there is a sunrise and a sunset and you can ignore it, or choose to see the beauty in it.

I'm trying to see the beauty. I know, shortly, I will.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things I am digging - Fashion me Now etc.

February is meant to be mercifully short but boy has it d-r-a-g-g-e-d. I am more excited about March and spring than all the lambs in Christendom.

For one, I will be getting my arse to the gym, where a guy called Paul who looks as sweet as pie but who takes no prisoners, will be whipping me into shape. God it is gonna kill. I'm mentally psyching myself for the journey ahead - 6 weeks of abstinence and lunges - by eating as much cheesecake as I can get down my gullet. I am ready. By the time I turn 42 (WTF!!!) I will be a different person. Or at least will have discovered my biceps.

So what has been floating my boat as winter has worn on? What has got me through this dark miserable days when that shite Emperor's new clothes film Birdman stole Linklater's Oscar triumph from under his nose?

No. 1 House of Cards (season 3) is back. Yesterday it hit Netflix and tonight Husband and I will hunker down and try and limit ourselves to 'just the 3 eps.' But as 1am hits and we fight over who will get up the kids it may go on...and on... and on....

No. 2 I've found this great website for all things stylish. Called Fashion Me Now, it is the blog of stylist and writer Lucy Williams. She looks like a model, writes like a journo and has impeccable taste. Her boyf is a photographer and his shots are simply sublime. You just have to remind yourself that just because clothes look good on tall slim gorgeous bronzed Luce, doesn't mean they are gonna look the same on you. Her life looks enviable, but not so much that she comes over all Paltrow. You can relate to her, appreciate her fashion know how and ooh and ahhhh over her pix. You can thank me later.

No. 3 Nespresso delivered. HOO-RAH. Waking up to coffee is a JOY. But why on earth do they not bring back the Hazelnut flavour goddammit!!!

No. 4 Divine chocolate. OMG. The milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt is SEX IN A BAR. Plus Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by Cocoa farmers. Fairtrade ensures that farmers receive a better deal for the cocoa and additional income to invest in their community - plus company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine's profits. Sold in Oxfam and Waitrose, you can buy knowing you are being ethical aware and getting the best choc around. A double win.

No. 5 Busaba Eathai, my favourite restaurant on earth for week night eats, has started a kid's menu. So all the yummy food that I have been scoffing since 2000 is now available in smaller portions for your rugrats to munch on. My kids loved it - the guava collins drink went down a storm along with the lemongrass chicken. It is without a doubt the thing I most miss about living in London. Plus, we had an epic game of thumb wars. Ace.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Whiplash is simply wonderful

In my time, I've cycled through rain to get to a 9am screening; driven over an hour and a half to catch a flick at some obscure cinema, or cancelled plans to head to the movies alone. And it's all worth it, when the film is brilliant. This of course is a sadly rare occasion.

But last night, driving for an hour to get there and (due to an insane amount of roadworks) an hour and a half on the way back, paying £24 for tickets and £8 parking - I was still smiling. Why? Because I saw Whiplash. What a glorious, subtle, thrilling little gem of a movie it is. And I fucking HATE jazz.

'It's about a boy and a teacher..' someone said. Ok, so far, so Miyagi. Seen it all before. But this time is it Miyagi or the drill Sargent from Officer and a Gentleman? That was the burning question... With incredible performances from JK Simmons and Miles Teller (previously amazing in Rabbit Hole) and a director who makes jazz as thrilling as Fincher made coding (in The Social Network) and a script so perfectly tight that every single line is crucial, it is story telling at it's finest.

After Birdman I'd have been happy never to hear a cymbal crash EVER again, but here, I was mesmerised - someone willing to bleed for his art, quite literally. So many gorgeous themes were touched upon but not rammed home: was Andrew the little drummer boy, looking for acknowledgement from a teacher simply because he didn't get it at home? Or was it that his Dad - too busy adding chocs to the popcorn at the movies - just failed notice what really drives his son? If he didn't even realise his kid had to eat around the candy, then what else doesn't he see?

We all know that in every good climax there is a battle of sorts - but I have never seen one take place over a drum kit. To say it is beyond tense is an understatement. I won't add in any spoilers because it is simply too ace to ruin a second of your viewing pleasure. Go see. By the end of it, you may even be a jazz convert...