Tuesday 20 July 2010

Help! I've forgotten how to be female

Somewhere along the way I have stopped being a girl. I am many things Mum, cook, cleaner, laundress, chief weeder, chaperone, taxi driver, chicken keeper, bottle washer, dog (and cat) pooper picker upper extraordinaire, but sadly not female.
I actually didn’t notice the loss of my sexuality, it didn’t hurt at all. And it wasn’t until recently that I noticed it had gone in the first place. And now I am rather discombobulated as I don’t know what I am anymore.
Maybe it’s because all the rest of them are boys and I have to sort of blend in so I don’t stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a camouflage thing. I hate being different. It’s also not necessarily practical being a girly. I mean I can hardly see myself feeding the chickens in my Louboutins or wearing a beautiful Roksanda Ilincic dress when I wring their necks and eviscerate them.
It’s unlikely I’ll be putting my beautifully manicured hands through the trauma of pulling bind weed or getting all dolled up for a game of tag rugby in the back garden.
But I still wonder where it all went.
In London I used to dress up every day and thought nothing of it. I had beautiful clothes which I loved to wear, high heels even, and I always wore makeup. Not much mind as I never could deal with foundation but mascara, eyeliner, a bit of lip gloss. A bit of Bronzer, a dusting of “instant health”. My hands were always clean, nails always short and neat with a bit of clear nail polish. My toenails on the other hand were always painted in an array of colours to match my outfits even if no one but me ever saw them.
I enjoyed shopping for clothes and updating my wardrobe. I loved trying things on and the heady indulgence of buying things on a whim or for an occasion and then of course there were the shoes! Oh the shoes! Russell & Bromley, Charles Jourdan, Gina, Emma Hope, it was heaven!
I dressed brightly drawn to strong colours and I revelled in the fact that with my coloring I could carry them off as well. The smart savvy little red wool business suit from Hobbs worn with a black roll top. My legs incased in long black leather jack boots. Topped off with a vibrant stripped velvet trilby hat and scarf. The amazing 1950’s style bright pink ¾ sleeve jacket and skin tight hobble skirt from LK Bennett worn with a rakish navy and white staw hat, huge sunglasses and my Gran’s white kid gloves and delectable navy kitten heels for a friend’s wedding.
Nowadays I worry about where I will get new jeans as mine are splitting at the seams and unsightly white flesh is seeping through. I bulk buy them from Sam Turners in Yorkshire as they are the only outlet I know that sell Wranglers. If I am feeling a little crazy I buy a darker shade of indigo for smart. Oh how the mighty are fallen!
I notice I now have flesh rather than a body and it doesn’t do what I thought it should still do. Now it sags. The definition between my hips, waist and boobs is somewhat hazy and I note the size differential and lopsidedness of my right hand boob is more pronounced than I remember.
My clothes are mostly made up of jumpers and sweatshirts in the winter and strangely foreshortened T-shirts in an array of colours which I inevitably have to have a shirt to cover because well I look odd. And all this is worn with the ubiquitous jeans. Boot cut in an effort to try to stay in style and to draw away the eye from the fact that my legs are rather short and stumpy and yes that huge round blob at the top is my bum. I try to stick to the rules a la Trinny and Susannah and I try to love myself as Gok says I should but it’s hopeless. I have forgotten how to be female!

Saturday 17 July 2010

Bringing up Boys: The art of saying goodbye - their persepctive!

Bog Boy is off to school in the Autumn and on Thursday it was his last day at Nursery before the long summer holidays, in fact it was his last day ever.
I love his Nursery, it has no outside area, it gets overly hot in the summer and it has no acoustics to speak of so when all 40 of them are playing you are lucky if you can hear yourself think let alone speak!
Oh but it is a happy place, a refuge and just plain wonderful both my boys have been there and well I just wish I had more.
On Thursday when I went to pick up Bog Boy ran as usual to greet me:
Bog Boy: Muuummmyy! Mumum!
Me: Hellooo Monstrous! How ya doing?
Bog Boy, with huge grin: It’s my last time!
Well that’s not what I expected! I thought there’d be tears and crying. Oh God I am sure that he really shouldn’t be this pleased. It’s not as if he hates it here quite the opposite he loves it! Well maybe he’s not registered that it really is his last day…
Me: I know! Would you like to say good bye?
Heck, I am sure he’s going to say bye bye to everyone now. Maybe I shouldn’t have suggested it. We could be here ages. Maybe he’ll get upset. Too late now!
Bog Boy, yelling at the top of his voice: Good bye everyone!
That’s not quite what I expected. I glance over at Rosie who’s been there for ages and is one of Bog Boy’s favourite carers. She gives me a big grin.
Rosie: Oh Bog Boy we’re going to miss you!
Here we go then, huge tears and big hugs. I do love him…
Bog Boy: I know!

Thursday 15 July 2010

People who make you go Arrrggghhh!!!!

Arghhhhh! There are some people in one’s life that will always make you feel inferior. One suspects that actually they go out of their way to do so.
These people are subtle and so the insult comes upon one unaware and even if you know it’s coming it still has the power to devastate.
This I call the Sugar Sweet Viper Modus operandi; one Sadie is a black belt in. She is quite incessant and incredibly patient and she tends to drip drip her poison all the time wearing away at your soul and even when you feel totally crushed she seems to take great delight in grinding her heel in; why not? It’s in her nature anyway.
Sadie’s parents and mine have been friends for years and we holiday together as our husbands are mates too: it gets complicated. But I loathe her and always will. She’s just plain mean.
Not that it was always so but I think I was a sucker. It wasn’t until I got married that she went really funny. At the time she was unmarried and being older than I this, I think, really got her goat. She was cleverer and prettier than me and certainly a lot thinner, so why did I get there first and not her? I suppose that was the problem but life’s like that.
I must admit it did come as a shock for even though I would never have counted her as one of my closet friends I did think she was one.
After my marriage she went on a whispering campaign letting people infer that I had kicked her out of the flat she was sharing with my husband prior to our marriage but come on he was never going to be sharing a flat with her while married to me there wasn’t enough room to start with and anyway we had told her months before that that was going to have to come to an end. Believe it or not she was still in the flat when we returned from honeymoon and she left owing my husband £300. You would have thought that would have been the end of a beautiful friendship but as I said it was complicated and anyway she worms out of trouble like an eel.
Over the years I weigh Sadie's words carefully and try to look at the bigger picture in line with her way of thinking. If she bounds up to me and wraps her arms round me in a big hug I can’t take it at face value. I have to think who’s she trying to impress, who has she been talking to and will she use my response for or against me? If I respond joyously then she doesn’t lose face with whomever she is trying to impress, if I respond unfavourably will it mean that she can tell whoever it is: “But you saw her reaction to me, she (meaning me) is just awful, weird, loopy etc”
I’ve been caught out in that one far too many times to count. I never know how I am meant to respond. If I throw my arms back people wouldn’t believe me and if I don’t well you know!
I have been bad too; I deliberately down play my sons in favour of her girls because let’s face it the last thing I want to do is get them involved in her games. If the boys are misbehaving, i.e. running around and being loud like boys should do, I say I can’t do a thing with them and don’t. I say my boys are behind in school work and everything. Just so that she can be comforted in the knowledge that she’s the better Mum. I find it easier but it still hurts when she seeks reassurance that she’s the better one all that false caring for me and my sons’ welfare - arrrggghhhh! Thing is it didn’t have to be this way.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Admiration: an A to Z meme

Yesterday I held a cup cradled in both my hands. It’s huge and used to be my Granddad’s favourite for his early morning cuppa. I recovered it from the dusty old barn; one of the myriad of forgotten things that have lain waiting for me this past decade.
Its liberation could not have been more apt for on July 6 1910, one hundred years ago my Granddad was born. I’d like to say we celebrated yesterday and that he got a telegram from the Queen but he’s been dead for 18 years now.
I wonder if anyone in the family bar me even noted the significance of the date, for I don’t think my Granddad endeared himself to his sons, although I adored him and he me. With him I could be who I was, just me, and his love and that of my Grandmother, was unconditional.
Over the years since he passed my eyes have been opened to the sort of man he was; I don’t think the portrait is particularly flattering but however much I learn, the love I hold for him remains untarnished.
I accept he was hard on his sons, too hard. I accept he was difficult and sometimes seemed snobbish. He was tricky and sarcastic his wit was razor sharp. He loved beautiful women and adored flirting. He was a man of his time impossibly glamorous and very aware of himself.
He liked things just so and had high standards. He was very ambitious socially and yet always utterly polite to everyone. Affable to strangers, welcoming, warm.
He didn’t suffer fools and could be very cutting and like many of us he hated to be told he was wrong. He was proud. And he wanted the best.
As a young man he was an excellent sportsman, hunting shooting and fishing. But by the age of 40 or there abouts he contracted polio and became wheelchair bound. I never really noticed it to be honest but there again why should I? He was, as far as I was concerned, always in a wheel chair.
Now imagine what it must have been like especially then in the 1950s. People talking above his head, asking my Grandmother if he took sugar in his tea. I kid you not! This for a man who’d gone to University, fought in the war, played Rugger at an almost professional level and held down an important job for Courthaulds?!
Is it any wonder he was frustrated? Is it any wonder he pushed his sons? You could almost say though that whatever they did unless they were feted as the best by the world, they would never have been good enough. That I think is the greatest tragedy of my Grandfather’s illness. Not that he could no longer do the things he was used to, but that by not doing them he could never understand the processes of ageing, of not being as good as he once was at things. For him his legs ceased to be at the height of their powers, he was aged and wizened before his time, over night.
It didn’t stop his hopes and dreams, it didn’t stop his ambition, it didn’t stop his zeal. He had to try harder and work harder. It did not make him popular and frequently made people angry. However, I feel that if he had two legs people would have admired him more for all these traits and if he had had two legs he would have been kinder because then he would have been able to afford to be.

This is an A to Z meme of short essays looking at the people/places/things in life that make it varied and wonderful. Feel free to join in. A is for Admiration. Next Sunday it will be B for Belief.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Not knowing what I want...

For months now I've not known what I want from my marriage. I try to think of the things I don't want: to be patronised, to be told what to do all the time to be criticised for being too negative, too messy, too disorganised, too grumpy, too forgetful.
These are not things that have just happend they seem to have always been there. And it is not as if he his a bad man far from it but we have drifted from being lovers and friends to being parents and strangers. The lovers bit has been strained for many years before the boys were born because as I have said to him I want an accomplice not another father - he just doesn't get it. I don't need a knight in shining armour I neet a partner in crime.
I did try I tried so hard and now I just feel tried out. He says I've been sulking these last few days. I said I have not far from it; he says then I've been cross. Well no shit Sherlock! But to call me cross would be futile for I haven't got the energy to be cross with him. I don't feel any anger - I feel nothing really.
He sent me an e-mail saying we have to discuss the situation and why don't we do it at this really amazing restaurant. When I read it I thought here we go; I'll say no and then he'll say well don't say I didn't try to take you somewhere nice! But for F**ks sake do I have to go to these great lengths just to be taken out to a decent restaurant! Sorry just to be taken out!!?? You guessed it when I said this evening why did we have to go out to disucss the situation he got all on his high horse about him taking me out basicaly meaning I should be grateful. I said it seemed stupid for me to go to all this trouble...that's when he asaid I was sulking. I replied that he only said these things to make himself feel better and to allow him to square his conscience so he could prove to himself that I was the unreasonable party. I also called him a t****r but not when he could hear. Somehow it felt good.
But gettng back to the point at hand what do I want? Do I want to leave him? What with two boys, no career to speak of and no savings - are you joking? What choice do I have! Of course I have to stay. So it's a case of on what terms...and that is just what Idon't know. I do like him, I have been in love with him, I just don't think I am now.
So all of you wonderful people out there forgive me for not respondng to you, for not visiting as I should. I thnk I need to prioritise. It would just be so much easier if I knew what I wanted.

Monday 5 July 2010

Cybermummy: Lasting impressions...

Of nerves and nervous laughter
Tentative smiles and shy hellos
Of squeaks of recognition
Connections made and fear let go

Of loud and raucous laughter
A cacaphony of sound
Of old friends just recognized
And new ones just found

Of lessons and of learning
Search Engine Optimisation
Of Twitter and of tweeting
New ways of Communication

Of faces and of voices
Standing up there in our stead
Of bringing a new meaning
To the words that we just read

Of listening and of hearing
Tales of laughter and of sorrow
Of wishing that the day of course
Could start again tomorrow…

Saturday 3 July 2010

Cybermummy: It's a nightmare and it's not even open yet!

We all look suitably wide eyed and worried at least the two or three women I've seen wandering slightly self consciously round the foyer. We've passed each other and coyly lifted our gaze as we pass, a tentative smile on our lips and a frantically beseeching look in our eye; Help! it says. But we're English and we pass by; it's too early yet. In fact there is an hour and a half to go!
I've sought solace in a high backed sofa on the opposite side of the entrance so I can spot in peace. They drift in in ones at present no gaggle yet laughing raucously and chatting too loud. Just the ones who no doubt have travelled half the length and breadth of the country to get here and land up being far too early. Oh the embarrassment...
Some come in full of confidence others slightly more nervously self consciously flicking their hair:
Her: Excuse me can you point me in the direction of the ladies?
Ah the haven of the ladies loos...
Here comes another one, more confident striding through the foyer definately knows where she is going and bouyed by the thought that if launch myself from the sofa I too can wing it and those on the otherside of the double doors will never know that I am not as confident as I seem; here goes...
8.45am: Bollocks crashed and burned. I return to the bonkette and want to curl up and die. OK it's not that serious but my tummy is doing flips and I so wanted to seem to know what the heck I was doing too.
8.47am; Have just finished a call with Dear Charlie and confessed my sins. I couldn't face a the tube on the way over so undulged in a taxi. The problem with having a husband who works in London and uses taxis is that he knows to the penny how much I spent.
Him: What £20 or £30 quid. No lunch for you then!
Bollocks I hate it when he does that makes me feel I complete spendthrift. Problem is I am. The cost fo the Taxi was nearly as much as the train journey on the way down...
8.50am; This is getting bad. Am now surrounded by Japanese tourists. Teenage Japanese tourists and am definitley going to be sick. Great wafts of manly aftershave and sherbert scented perfume envelop me.
8.52 am: Decide to go and blog to take my mind off things. Land up having to use computer with screen facing the door. Terrified people will see and feel ludicrously embarrassed again. Shit the computer freezes on me and my blog page is glowing for all to see. Die die die I want to die! I pluck up courage to ask the deliciosuly geeky boy next door to me to help he's gorgeously kind to a demented old bat and suggests I ask for help. Well I did and thought all young men knew about computers. Needless to say I spend time closing down the screen whenever people walk behind me so they cannot see. God this is difficult! Will people stop looking over my shoulder. Techno guy pops his head in and switches on the screen again for all to see. I want to spread myself across it to keep it from prying eyes. Oh thank heavens I am on and off so to speak...please dear god may the day get better...
Getting very loud in the foyer. Better gird my loins and off I go
Wish me luck!

Friday 2 July 2010


My heart is racing and my mouth feels dry I cannot concentrate and I jitter –it’s just nerves. Yesterday it manifested itself in a full blown panic attack and I was unable to travel up to London to do a face-to-face interview but the good news is at least I wasn’t sick.
I was able to carry out the interview via the telephone so to be honest no one lost out, I mean if they were actually to see me well my cover would well and truly be blown. How can anyone take a frumpy fat forty year old seriously especially if she turns up in jeans and an ill fitting T-shirt? I swear these were the ONLY things in my wardrobe I felt I could possibly be seen in for anything else would be far too humiliating. All my old work clothes are juts that OLD and out of date. Not so old as to be vintage but old enough to make you cringe and that’s before you realise they make anyone over 30 look like mutton dressed up as lamb. I no longer have the legs for it, actually I never did have the legs for it, but at least I was young!
Now I wait to go up to London again and wonder if I will be sick with apprehension. No I really do mean I will be sick, I usually am. It started when I was laughingly called a cub reporter and I had a rather dubious experience on my first solo interview. In those days and possibly now there was a tension between advertising and editorial. In that advertising would tear their hair out if editorial wrote something that upset the advertisers and editorial would get equally frustrated about being told what they could and could not write. Somewhere amongst all that, one had to keep a balance. Usually editorial won out because that is the integrity of the magazine and without integrity why on earth would anyone want to read it. Anyway, I was to interview one of the magazine’s top advertisers and also one of the top dogs in the food manufacturing world. I was meant to be going along with our senior reporter but she called in sick at the last minute and because it was such an important interview I had to go on my own. It was a lunch at Chelsea Wharf in a very exclusive restaurant. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat and write at the same time but I needn’t have worried about that because I landed up having to worry about SO much more.
Having travelled down from god knows where this 40 year old director decided it was time to have fun and I was basically served up to him on a dish. Try as I might to get the interview all he was interested in was touching me up under the table cloth and whisper revolting things to me in my ear. And I was SO stupid all I could do was try to carry doing the interview and look beseechingly at the waiters hoping that they might rescue me but they didn’t. Perhaps they thought they had seen it all before and this was some sort of sex game the both of us played; me being all coy and him getting more turned on but trying to do it discreetly before we rushed off to some hotel where they turned a blind eye to couples hiring room for the day.
You’d have thought by the end of the meal I would have been desperate to escape but back in 1989 Chelsea Wharf wasn’t exactly easy to get to and there were no taxi’s to be had, even if I did had the money to pay for one. In fact I had no money at all as in my rush to get to the interview I had left my purse behind. He did apologise to me and offered me a lift back to Charring Cross and can you credit it because he apologized I thought he meant it and gratefully accepted the lift. Well you can guess that he pounced on me the minute we were in the car. I got really angry and told him very very forcefully to pack it in and drive me to the station. Like a lamb he did as he was told. How was I to know he thought it all a game? I just wanted to get back home. I spent the 45 minute drive to Charring Cross slapping his hand away from my thigh and telling him that I would not go to the movies with him and that I didn’t care if he did know a great little club in Soho however discreet it was. I felt such a fool and I felt increasingly nervous about what I was going to say to my editor for not getting a story and what on earth I was going to say to my publisher if I pissed this man off – I mean he might never advertise again!
Ever since that day whenever I had to go and do interviews I was always sick before hand, sometimes I suffered chronic panic attacks  and would be found hyperventilating in the loos of a variety of up market and exclusive hotels and restaurants in London. I have no idea why I carried on; perhaps I am some sort of masochist. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind not to do the job I did. Needless to say I wasn’t a very good reporter but there again I wasn’t too bad either. I wonder sometimes what would have happened to me if I never had gone to that interview…
Anyway tomorrow I go up to London for a Conference one I should enjoy and even though I know it is highly doubtful anyone will try to touch me up or anything daft like that I am still full of nerves, I’ll try not to be sick but if I look kinda wild eyed and jumpy please bear with me once I am in the swing of it all I’ll be perfectly normal…honest!

Go on you know you want to...


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