Holiday Un-LOLs


So last week, I was on holiday. An actual holiday, in another country, with extortionate cellular data costs and salami at breakfast and everything. An actual holiday at an actual holiday resort. A white, shiny place where blue slush was an acceptable pre-breakfast aperitif; water polo was a deadly serious post-lunch pastime and the continuous sunshine and, ergo, sunglasses wearing said sunshine brought, meant you could totes give that bronzed lifeguard the sly side-glance perv without anybody being any the wiser. Look, he was a qualified lifeguard. He had access to the portable defibrillator. He MUST have been at least 18. Don’t judge me.

Anyway. Holiday. Sun, sangria, Stefan the fit Spanish lifeguard. How lovely was that? After one great big whore of a month leading up to this break it was all going to be perfect and totally relaxing, right? Well. Sure. Kind of. Ish.

Actually, not so much.

Because, three days in, surrounded by chirpy, oiled-up holidaymakers, the majority of whom seemed more-than-content with happily cocking around to shouty Europop in the name of Aqua-Zumba, and gleefully clapping along to Team Animacion’s weird Club Song (something to do with saxophones and samurais – exactly what though, is anyone’s guess), I found myself having none of the fun that that lot seemed to be having. In fact, not only was I struggling to jiggle along with the Spanish frivolities, I instead found myself curled up on a poolside sun-lounger, logged on to the shonky free hotel wifi, Googling ‘holiday depression’.

WOOO. Hands up who wants to come away with me next year?

Now, if you want to give such Googling a shot (LOLs), prepare for a big fat ‘OH’ when those results come rolling in. Because, despite me trying all kinds of search filters and canny word arrangements, all that Googs came back with was a bunch of forums full of ‘back in UK. Raining. FML. Monkey-covering-his-eyes-emoticon’ post-holiday blues type stuff OR people talking about holidays in the festive American context?

I mean sure, depressives, we all know Christmas is pretty fucking grim, right? RIGHT?!*, but a holiday-holiday? Whaaaat? Don’t get me wrong, the wanker in my head (he’s called Alan**) can usually piss on almost any seemingly pleasant parade but, as a source of some sadness, a summer holiday was a new one for me.

And actually, while I’m being that wanker, now’s probably a good time to be straight about the ‘some sadness’ thing too. Because, as anyone who’s been in this situation themselves know, it was far and beyond ‘some sadness’. It was a soul-ripping monster of sheer fucking anxiety and hollow misery that I just could not shake. No matter how much I reminded myself of what this holiday had cost, or what effect this was having on my family, or of what an utter arsehole I must be to want to cry over EUROPOP AQUA ZUMBA (‘how can anyone garner gloom from a hot senorita with great abs side-shimmying to some Latino-based house tracks, you fucking BELLEND?’, I shouted at myself on pretty much an hourly basis), I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t shake this shit off. It was like the world’s oddest relay race, with the world’s shittest relay team – my head and my face and my voice. They were giving it a half-arsed shot to work as a team – my head being the lame-o cheerleader, telling my face ‘come on, COME ON, until we figure out a real way out of this cloud, let’s fake it’, and my face, though reluctant and a bit glassy would be all ‘sure sure, let’s give this a pop’ and would stretch a tight smile across it, but then, the moment I had to speak in any kind of chit-chatty type way, everything just fell apart. The usual, holiday-convo words got caught in my throat. The happy fell at the last hurdle. And it was really, really bleak.

I tried all sorts. From throwing myself full throttle into the entertainments timetable (darts, boules, some weird Scandinavian shuffleboard gig – I was on first name terms with that ents team by the end of the week); to reading and re-reading the filthy bits of 50 Shades; to afternoon naps; to, the old faithful, gin. And then no gin, because let’s be honest, as much as I love gin, when in any kind of funk, gin is not the answer. But nothing, NOTHING worked. And instead, the cloud grew thicker, the black dog barked louder and the words of faux happiness bottle-necked in my throat to the point that I could physically feel them. You know that tight neck thing when you’re trying not to cry? That. That for a week. Grizzly. I even tried downloading a self-help book but my mind was so fucked with all kind of interweaving, cloudy thoughts of doom, gloom and YOU ARE A DESPICABLE PERSON, I couldn’t get past the first page. So, instead, I carried on Googling, in the hope I’d come across something that showed me I wasn’t on my own with this, that holiday depression is an actual thing. And still I couldn’t find it.

And then I remembered a friend. A friend who also suffers from this grotesque condition, who’d told me a story about something similar happening to her while away with her boyfriend. A holiday where, consumed with depression, it had felt like anything but. So I messaged her. I went and sat in the pocket of less shonky wifi that I managed to find in the hotel reception, got on WhatsApp and had a big old cry as she reassured me that these feelings, combined with a holiday, weren’t all that weird. And in fact, what is more weird, is when these feelings do come along and you expect a bit of sun, some cheap cocktails and the Macarena on repeat each evening to suddenly flip them. It was never, ever going to happen.

So instead, my friend suggested, in the pursuit of some clarity, I try writing about it. And I did. I started all of the above while away and carried it on on the plane but then, when home, for some reason just stopped.

And then Robin Williams killed himself. And some people on that this here internet started bemoaning the fact that a person with so much money/success/adulation could even feel sad in the first place, let alone do such things to themselves. And, without wanting to blow any of my stuff out of proportion and into the terribly, terribly sad thing that he did, it kind of made me realise that despite all the online articles and the ‘in-depth’ chats on Lorraine and the celebrity columns in Closer magazine, it doesn’t matter how much this stuff is being talked about at the moment, a clear understanding of depression is still a long, long way off.

Whether it’s a bubbling undercurrent of something just not feeling right, to an all-consuming sadness with no apparent way out, it doesn’t matter how great your holiday resort is, who you’re hanging out with, what you’ve got in the bank, how big your house is, how ‘perfect’ everything in your life seems to be…if you’re overwhelmed with depression, this stuff means jack shit. In fact, if anything, it  just makes things seem a trillion times worse when you’ve got people listing all that stuff off for you and pointing out how what you’re feeling must simply be wrong. It’s not fucking wrong. It is just what it is. And, for want of a better word, it’s shit enough as it is, without you telling me otherwise. When you already feel like you’re failing at life, to have it suggested you’re also failing at appreciating life, really, really sucks.

HEY! So. Anywaaaaay. For anyone asking what I did on holiday, I wrote the above. And then I saved it on my laptop with the intent of never doing anything with it ever again. But the last few days have made me realise that this is still a topic that needs to be talked about. A lot. Without any sense of apology, or embarrassment or worry that you’re boring someone with this shit. Because it’s when the silences of people affected by depression start to draw in, that the repercussions of the condition become truly dreadful.

This piece originally wasn’t intended for anything other than a means to move some debris out of my head and onto the page, and give my thoughts a little space to breathe. But all of the press and online coverage from the last few days has changed that. This is still a problem. Depression is still a taboo. And the shame and simpering apologies that go with admitting to suffering with depression – mine very much included in that – will only ever help this illness spread. Having nobody to talk to, and the endless, heartbreaking loneliness that comes with that, will always make depression the winner. And believe me, nobody wants depression as the winner. Depression is a terrible winner. All up in your grill. A real showy gobshite. So this, here, now, being put out there for anyone else to read? Well, at least if even just one person in the future finds themselves curled up on a sun-lounger, looking at the people around them, wondering what the fuck must be up with them to not be feeling what everyone else seems to be feeling, and they also decide to Google ‘holiday depression’, they won’t come across zilch. They’ll instead come across this and, hopefully, someone who was, and maybe still is, in the same position as them. Someone who gets it.

*holds up hand for a Christmas-is-shit-for-me-too-high-five, gets punched in the nose for mentioning Christmas in August

** this is Alan. He’s a prize cunt.

alan

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POUNDLAND BAUBLES


upyoursginaford:

In the words of the great raconteur Joey Essex, ‘I done a write’. Have a look, I talk about Stefan Dennis.

Originally posted on upyoursginaford:

Cast your mind back. Way back.

No. WAY back.

Further.

Oh come on. Work with me here.

Way, way, WAY back.

Ok fine. Let me give you a hand. Well, a date, actually. GO back to July 2012. Specifically, the 4th of July 2012.

I know, bleeding yonks ago, right? 

On the 4th of July, 2012, a lot of shit had not even happened. Kim K’s pelvic floor muscles were still intact, with baby North West nothing but a twitch in Kanye’s boxers. Abi Alton believed that the X Factor was her ‘Go Straight To Stardom’ pass, as opposed to something that would break her fragile soul. Joey Essex had not yet gone on his jungle mission to replace the English language with a series of winks, gurns and emoticons, and we all still thought Tom Daley was straight…..ummm…

One thing that had happened though, was this. My…

View original 1,930 more words

POUNDLAND BAUBLES


Cast your mind back. Way back.

No. WAY back.

Further.

Oh come on. Work with me here.

Way, way, WAY back.

Ok fine. Let me give you a hand. Well, a date, actually. GO back to July 2012. Specifically, the 4th of July 2012.

I know, bleeding yonks ago, right? 

On the 4th of July, 2012, a lot of shit had not even happened. Kim K’s pelvic floor muscles were still intact, with baby North West nothing but a twitch in Kanye’s boxers. Abi Alton believed that the X Factor was her ‘Go Straight To Stardom’ pass, as opposed to something that would break her fragile soul. Joey Essex had not yet gone on his jungle mission to replace the English language with a series of winks, gurns and emoticons, and we all still thought Tom Daley was straight…..ummm…

One thing that had happened though, was this. My blog. Specifically, my last blog entry before now. 537 days ago. For those of you who subscribed – I imagine you’re wondering why you bothered. For those of you who bothered – I imagine you’d forgotten you’d even bothered. And finally, for those of you who remembered you’d subscribed and wondered where the feck my blog went – I’m really, really sorry. I promised regular, written LOLs and those LOLs did not come. It’s a bit like that time in 1989 when I signed up to the Neighbours Fan Club and all I got was a shit Stefan Dennis button badge and a grammatically-shoddy newsletter promising ‘more Ramsay Street treats on their way’. An annual subscription fee of £12.50 and the Neighbours fan fun stopped right there (and somewhat quite poignantly, the badge fell off my purple, padded bomber jacket not long after – last seen somewhere between the Stockport branches of Our Price and Tammy Girl. A sad, sad story).

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Stefan Dennis – The Michael Flatley of the Australian Soap Industry…

Anyway. Back to you. Back to this blog. Long and the short of it is, I got a job, started commuting 4 hours a day, working like a motherfucker. Blog went dowwwwn. And to be honest, up until last week, I thought the blog was dead. But then something happened.  More to the point, something came into my life. Blog-pal, I found this:

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The Polar Opposite Of Take A Break

I was on a train (if there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I am ALWAYS on a train), and the lady who’d been sat next to me, left it. Dude, this magazine costs £3.99 – I was almost tempted to run after her with it but then, you know, I was kind of bored and short on reading material so I snaffled it for myself. Hey, train lady got off at the posh stop – she wasn’t going to miss this glossy. I imagine her mag rack is stuffed full of glossies (fnar, fnar – insert Sid James cackle here).

So, a free House & Garden mag for me. Hooray!

Actually, no. No hooray. And really, I should have known from the cover that all was not right. That this was 100% not a publication intended for the likes of me.  

For one, there was this:

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Subtle sparkle? ‘SUBTLE SPARKLE’? It’s Christmas, who wants subtle sparkle when there are disco balls and glitter cannons in this world? Know another thing about me, I love camp. I LOVE CAMP. When Barry Manilow did Copacabana at the Children In Need gig last month, I was so enraptured by his performance, I started a meeting at work with a clip of it the very next day. Not seen it? Spoiler alert; it ends on Manilow doing a flamenco-inspired ‘olé’. It’s fucking glorious. Watch it right now

For two, there was the tree. Or, more specifically, the tree in such close proximity to the words ‘Family Home’.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I live in one of these ‘Family Homes’, one with kids and pets and shit, and my tree does not look like that. In fact, my tree is the opposite of that. Where the House & Garden Tree has silk rosebuds, mine has Poundland baubles. Where the H&G tree has gently twinkling lights, mine has ones that made a weird fizzing sound and prompted my husband to double check the ‘Fire Damage’ section of our home contents insurance policy when we switched them on. And where the H&G tree has its decorations spread evenly across it’s plump, grassy branches, mine has a job lot of festive fancies hanging from one, bare branch – bare because the kids have insisted on piling 3 kilos of faded tat onto the one twig and the pine needles can’t take it, and bare because the cat keeps lollopping into it and knocking every one of those FUCKING FESTIVE FANCIES on the floor.

So yeah. The tree is the opposite of mine. And soon, as I peeled back the pages, it became obvious that EVERYTHING beneath this cover was the opposite of me. I wasn’t just reading a magazine, I was stepping through a portal into a world that I never have, nor will ever, inhabit. House & Garden is 178 glossy pages of a parallel universe. One in which I own a country pile in Surrey, wrap presents by candlelight and own a dachshund called Theobald.

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Candlelit Gift Wrapping: A Big Ol’ Wanky Fire Hazard

This world that this magazine represents is INSANE. So insane that I need you to step through the portal too. Picture the A-Ha Take On Me video – I’ll be Morten, you be the girl with the Lady Di hairdo – take my hand, come with me…because I need to show you some crazy shit.

LAVINIA BOLTON  

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If someone asked me what a ‘Lavinia’ was, I’d hazard a guess that it was a part of your fanny.

Imaginary conversation:

Me: Is the baby ok?

Midwife: perfectly healthy, although I think we may need to stitch up your Lavinia.

Turns out Lavinia is a name. A name so posh, I have never, ever heard of.  Says here ‘Lavinia’s sleuthing uncovered a sixteenth-century Suffolk farmhouse’. Yeah, well my sleuthing uncovered that unpleasant college ex of mine on Facebook – turns out he married a girl with a lazy eye and a penchant for scrunchies. Ha! to the ex and in your face, Lavinia.

£20 FOR THREE ROLLS OF TAPE

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Unless each roll is 700 metres long, I’d say that’s probably not value for money. Unless you’re the jammy beggar who’s selling this shit to a bunch of bankers’ wives at some overpriced crafts fair in Chelsea, in which case, money-wise, YOU. ARE. WINNING.

ALEXANDER BREEZE

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“My boyfriend has an irrational dislike of Christmas Trees, so I miss out’.

Aside from people who know people who’ve been killed by Christmas-trees-gone-wrong, who actually has a dislike of them? Alexander’s boyfriend? Grow up. Alexander? You need to stand up to this pissy nonsense. He’ll be telling you what to wear next.

BONNIE ROBINSON 

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Meet Bonnie. Bonnie thinks Christmas trees are wasteful, so instead has decorated this ‘early 20th century ladder’ (£350) that she just ‘landed upon’. Sure, that’s already pretty mental, but Bonnie’s ladder debacle takes a whole new spin-of-crazy at the end of the piece when she says:

‘Sadly ladders do not smell quite as nice as real trees. ..”

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The Kind Of Tree I’d Imagine A Squatter To Have

QUITE as nice? So you’re suggesting ladders so smell almost as nice? Do early 20th century stepladders actually smell, Bonnie? Do they? Or do you maybe think it’s time for you to take a little break?  Has the House & Garden editor been making you work late? Come on Bonnie, let’s go have a little lie down…

THIS COT

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Do you have a ghost-baby living in your 16th century Suffolk farmhouse, crawling the hallways, falling over stepladder trees, searching for something crazy and haunted-looking, and costing in excess of FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS, in which a ghost-baby can sleep? Then may I suggest this. You know the film The Others? This is 100% the bed that the dead ‘you’re not my mother’ girl sleeps in.

THESE DUDES

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Oh HI there, poor person. Check us out. We’re all minted. We’re also at a party that’s serving free champagne and gin cocktails, and yet not one of us looks remotely shitfaced, nor do we have a bit of sick-splashback on our tops from where we’ve had to bob to the loo for a tactical chunder. Not in my world House & Garden. Not in my world.

And then, THEN, just as I’m thinking that I really need to put the magazine down and revaluate my now seemingly trite, not to mention piss-cheap, life, I come across Herbie and Heather Hancock. In real life, my path and the path that Herbie and Heather Hancock stroll down, do not cross.  Mine is a road signposted with Prawn Rings, Seagull Punch-Ups and Crisps For Tea, the Hancocks’ is one landmarked with grouse shoots, partnerships at Deloitte and great big, burning piles of money that they simply can’t spend quickly enough.

MEET HERBIE AND HEATHER 

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Herbie and Heather must have a very lovely life. They’re happy, right? I mean, look at them, with their big, fuck-off house and seven-page spread in House and Garden. Well done, you two, WELL DONE. But as I was pouring over every minute detail of the Hancocks’ lives, something kind of weird happened. Call it sleep deprivation. Call it train-sickness. Call it me being a massive bitch….all of a sudden, the happy house of Hancock took a more sinister turn…

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House & Garden Say: “Herbie and Heather Hancock decorate the Christmas tree in the hall of their North Yorkshire home…”

My Eyes Read: “Heather decorates the tree while Herbie glares at her from the stairs . ‘For pity’s sake, Heather’, hisses Herbie, ‘the theme’s red and gold, what’s that fucking turquoise bauble all about?’”

 

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House & Garden say: “Herbie sits in the kitchen with Heather…”

My Eyes Read: “Herbie sits in the kitchen while Heather is made to stand and think about the bauble incident. ‘Why am I never allowed to sit next to you?’ asks Heather. ‘You know why’, growls Herbie as he snatches up the cheeseboard and leaves the room.”

 

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House & Garden say: “Herbie reads the newspaper in the drawing room”

My Eyes Read: “Herbie reads the newspaper in the drawing room, pretending not to hear Heather tapping on the door. ‘Can I come in please? I really fancy some Cathedral City’, whines Heather. ‘Not a chance’, whispers Herbie, as he sits on the cheese board to spite his hungry wife.”

 

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House & Garden say: “A fire blazes in the wood-burning stove in the sitting room”

My Eyes Read: “While Herbie builds a fire in the sitting room, Heather uses the time to leave the house for a few moments…”

 

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House & Garden Say: “Heather and Robert Phillip, a Highland-cattle expert, inspect the cattle on the moor…”

My Eyes Read: “In hushed tones, Heather pleads with Robert to help her. ‘I don’t care if it’s Christmas we must leave tonight’. ‘Did he sit on the cheese again?’ asks Robert, as Heather blinks away tears. ‘BASTARD’ seethes Robert, not noticing Herbie at the window.

 

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House & Garden Say: “Herbie and Heather go on a shoot.”

My Eyes Read: “For the first time in years, Herbie asks Heather along on a shoot.”

 

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House & Garden Say: “Herbie has a drink at The Queens Arms with Roger, Yvonne, Emma and James.”

My Eyes Read: “Herbie has a drink at The Queens Arms with Roger, Yvonne, Emma and James. ‘Such a shame Heather couldn’t make it’ says Yvonne, ‘do you think she’ll be joining us any time soon?’. ‘Oh, I VERY much doubt it’, cackles Herbie, draining his glass and throwing down his winning domino.”

 

Woah. WOAH. Shit just got dark. 

Sorry about that. I’m not sure where my mind went then. If this were an episode of Dallas, I’d be coming to in the shower right about now, wondering what-the-Bobby-Ewing just happened.

But anyway, listen, thanks ever so much for reading and a very, very Happy Christmas to you all…

From me and the Hancocks…

*softly closes laptop. Un-tapes fake passport from underside of desk. Heads to meet Herbie at Heathrow….*

 

 

You Ever Seen A Cat In A Bikini?


Hands up if you’ve been a bit of a bloggy shitbag? A writing-wrong ‘un? A copy-dodger?

Yep. It’s safe to say that, when it comes to updating this here blog ‘n’ ting, I’ve been a gigantic douche. I’ve been rubbish. I’ve made excuses, I’ve totally blogged off. And for that, I’m really honestly very sorry.

It’s not like I haven’t been thinking of the blog though. In fact, a few weeks ago, I pretty much had my next online offering planned and perfected by way of the shenanigans that were my first ever family holiday. I mean, when it comes to the bleak, black comedy of my family life, a trip abroad with two ‘spirited’ toddlers was surely going to be ideal blog fodder, right? And really, it pretty much was. Yes, I was all set to tell you that, while the world, his wife and her right-royal highness were basking in the drizzly glow of British skies, bunting and a four day boozathon, me, my husband and our two kids turned our backs on Union Jack and his piss-wet Jubilee, headed to France and…

…drank wine that came from this fetid-looking tap in a wall, the fear of contracting typhoid totally trounced by way of the fact the booze cost just TWO EUROS A LITRE….

God Bless The French

…on a similarly grubby tip, bought sangria in an old lemonade bottle, from a stall at the side of the road….

Rustic.

…wrestled my daughter’s head free, after it became wedged in this here chair-back….

Where There’s Blame, There’s A Claim

…got a lot of mileage (pardon the pun) out of this comedy numberplate…

Good, Clean, Family Fun…

I was thinking of relaying the story about how, not even ten minutes into our three-hour journey to the airport, a can of de-icer went off in our boot and, already running late and not wanting to stop the car, I tried to convince my husband it was actually our kid making the weird hissing noise.

I was also considering mentioning the bit about my son yelling ‘WE’RE GOING DOWN’ as the plane began its descent, much to the absolute hilarity of the jittering wreck of a plane-o-phobe sat across the aisle from us. I would probably have then thrown in some kind of comment relating to the bizarre-but-oddly-compelling 10ft Sexy Cat statue in Toulouse airport and my 3 year-old son’s fascination with her kind-of-inappropriate-for-a-public-space, sticky outy nipples…

So, You Know How Everyone Thinks ‘Like, Cats Are OK, But Sometimes I Just WISH They Were Sexier’?…

…All before rounding-up with the at-the-time-quite-miserable-but-in-hindsight-ho-ho-ho-how-funny-are-my-anxiety-issues? tale of my ‘what the FUCK happened to my life?’ panic attack as I, my husband and various other parents with children too young to be left at the campsite’s kids’ club stood in the middle of a baking hot field, dicking about with two nonchalant holiday reps, a clutch of toddlers and a parachute whilst all internally asking ‘is 10am REALLY too early for a drink?’. I mean, I get it – you can’t leave your kids if they’re below a certain age. Fine. But please, beautiful Dutch reps with awesome tans and the BEST of your years ahead of you, can you not just take some pity on me and leave me to sit here on this scorced patch of campsite and read a book/catch some sun/swig neat Campari straight from the bottle while YOU work out the parachute game WITHOUT ME? Christ, if the ghost of holiday future had paid me a visit five years ago with that little vision – my 33-year old self, sweating over a swathe of mutli-coloured Early Learning Centre polyester while singing This Old Man – it’s more than likely I would have had my tubes tied on the spot…

Anywaaaaaay. Anyway. That was my plan. To chirpily tell you about the occasional lows, mainly highs of my trip. But then we got back. And the happy aura of a week on the continent kind of got its arse kicked the moment we arrived back in the UK. Yes the weather. And then normal, day-to-day life. And then me, being a bit of a cock-end and forgetting that whole ‘don’t dwell on the past, live in the moment’ bullshit I promised to abide by on New Year’s Eve. Because while holidays are lovely, that huge low I feel when they’re over sometimes makes me wonder if it’s a worthwile pay-off? 7 days in the sun in exchange for one month+ of feeling really, really sucky? It’s not ideal is it?

So. Yes. There you go. The more time passed, the more I struggled to get my shit together for long enough to write about my jollies.

If you have read this blog of mine before, you’ll probably have gathered that, while I like to look for the funny stuff in the crappy side of life, there are also times when the lift of a laugh doesn’t come. Having been pre-disposed to some pretty grizzly depression in the past, being a mum and all the emotions that come with that (well, the emotions that come with that for me, in my self-destructive, out-of-proportion mind) can mean there are moments or days or weeks when I find it almost impossible to shake that sense of gloom that likes nothing more than punching me in the knackers. Having been a huge fan of the benefits of meds in the past, more recently these little tablets of joy haven’t been doing it for me, so I have decided to deploy Plan B – a bit of therapy. Therapy. I hate that word. I think the connotations are of me being some sad, shaky wreck, seeking spiritual guidance from some kind of sentimental-spouting weirdo with a dead-gaze and manic smile. A bit like Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise maybe. But therapy is what it is. So there you go. A couple of months back, I swallowed the fear and got me some therapy.

Anyway, so far, so reassuring. Talking to someone experienced about the things that fuel my anxieties is hugely helpful, but so too is the way the lovely woman I visit gets me to look at stuff. She makes me realise that, while a lot of my low moods may be based on unwarranted fears, as standalone things they are real because they do, definitely make me worry. i.e. The way I think isn’t wrong or weird – it’s just the way the world works to me. For the first time, in a long time, rather than berating myself for the stuff I do/say/think, this whole concept of being allowed to regard things in my own way, rather than the way you’re supposed to look at them has been kind of liberating. Obviously this works well for the mum stuff – i.e. just because a lot of ladies love the mum-job, doesn’t mean I have to – but it also ties in nicely with other walks of life too. It sort of takes the fear away when it comes to saying or doing things that go against the grain.

Before this turns into some kind of crazy-fest, I’ll get to the point. Recently, I was talking to a friend about getting older and the weird shit you do* and we were joking about mid life crises. And then it struck me – what if a mid-life crisis is just that defiant part of you who thinks enough is enough, I’m sick of going along with things, I’m old enough to know what I want, I’m confident enough to pursue it. If that means digging my BMX out of the shed so I can bomb around my tiny village on it, so be it. That tattoo I quite fancy? Bring it. Those 90s dance compilations that I want to blast from the car when I have the luxury of a journey without the kids? Dario G – let’s DO THIS.

Full-time mum. Working mum. BMX. Bike-with-a-basket. Dario G. Darius. The top-line of this VERY long-winded entry is that I’m starting to realise the importance of going with what you want to do, rather than what you think you should do. It’s all good if it makes you happy.

And yes, sexy cat sculptor of Toulouse, that includes YOU**

* her: wear false eyelashes to work; me: dress like Jesy from Little Mix

**you mad bastard

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If You Liked It Then You Should’ve Put A Ring On It


This time last year it’s not unreasonable to say the life I was living was pretty bloody stark. Devoid of any real purpose, I was bouncing from day to day, feeling like nobody understood me. That I was a misnomer. Lonely and stuck out in suburbia, my only real portal to the outside world was Facebook and that…well, in retrospect, that only really made things worse. Inane statuses updating me on an hourly basis about the bowel movements of the kid of this girl I used to sit next to in double maths (all of which were punctuated with a smiley-face emoticon (nobody get me started on emoticons )); LOLs for things that so did not deserve LOLs; photo after photo of an old media friend who’s now living the high life in Sydney, sipping mojitos with his unfeasibly HOT boyfriend and going to showbiz parties with Kylie – none of these things were good for any mind, especially one that had been left a bit fucked-over by no sleep, too much gin and a lingering concern over dicky pelvic floor muscles. I felt like an outsider. From posts about potty training; to wanky thumbs-up ‘likes’ for things that were neither funny nor interesting; to someone else’s carefree Antipodean lifestyle that only served to highlight how shit my existence of kettle descaling, arse wiping and Dairylea dunking was – this time last year, it’s fair to say, Facebook was bringing me down.

But then, out of the murky depths of despair shone a light. A glimmer of hope that slowly started to talk me round to thinking that maybe my anxieties about being different were unwarranted. That perhaps, just perhaps, an irrepressible potty-mouth, obsession with M&S cocktails in cans and, yes yes, a somewhat inappropriate fantasy about me and the boys from The Wanted AND One Direction stuck in a cable car over the Swiss Alps with only a Toblerone, bottle of brandy, and LOVE to keep us warm, were not solely exclusive to me.

That light, you good, good people of the internet, was Twitter.

Twitter. Gorgeous bloody Twitter. Having been dragged into a mad-ass suburban world with a vernacular peppered with phrases like ‘Pilates apparatus’, ‘engineered wood flooring’ and ‘charity barn dance’, Twitter was like a breath of fresh, sweary air. If the world of social networks was high school (go with me on this one) then Facebook was the goodie goodie superswot and Twitter was my fifth-form mate Erin Wilson. Erin Wilson snogged boys in the playground, had a ‘Set U Free’ tattoo as a tribute to the N-Trance song of the very same name and introduced me to the wonders of Sun-In and Silk Cut. Me being the girl who’d never put a foot wrong her whole school life, Erin Wilson was the much-needed naughty-but-nice in my life. She was the person who showed me that not everything had to be perfect and smell of fucking roses.

Fast forward ten years* and what Erin Wilson did for me then is exactly what the awesome people of Twitter do for me now. Twitter reassures me that not only is the way I think ok, it’s actually quite normal. Yes I swear. Yes, pretty much every Friday, from around 11am, I obsess over which Marks and Sparks ready-mixed tin of booze I’ll be buying for the train that evening. And no, I don’t have to talk with the twee kind of whimsy that some people think a woman in her mid-thirties with two kids, a Skoda estate and subscription to Good Food magazine should. All of the above? Perfectly acceptable. Because, you know what, girls are normal, and they’re bold and just because some out there obsess over the Boden catalogue as though it’s some kind of smiley-smiley, robo-woman guide to how ladies should dress (in pastel stripes. Vertical, obvs), behave (always laughing. At something in the distance, preferably) and live (in a beach hut), Twitter has shown me that it’s them who are in the minority. Real women do not fucking think like that. Real women swear, and find boys a decade younger than them fit. Real women are FUNNY. Now let me show you why…

About a week ago, following a drink with a friend, I tweeted this:

True story.

The response was a whole world of AWESOME. Replies that not only brought a smile to my tired little face, they actually made me laugh. As in proper LOLZ. And right now, here for you, are the highlights. For blogging purposes, I’ve tried to categorise them into The Food, The Med** and The Ugly***. Bitches, let’s DO THIS.

The Food

Don’t get me wrong, I like food. I love food. In the right circumstances, I’m like some kind of record-breaking, speed eater. Chuck a cheese counter my way and I’ll show you something quite, quite special. However, food in exchange for having just expelled an entire person from your muff? No, men, NO:

The Med(ical)

These responses fall largely into the category of ‘ways having a baby screws with your body’. Some are physical, some are emotional, all are way less fun than a Porsche. Broken biffs, colostomy bags and shattered dreams…sounds like the title of a Mike Leigh film, doesn’t it?

If only Hermes made colostomy bags…

The Ugly

For ugly, read: ‘rubbish’. Really rubbish. And actually quite ungrateful: Hello darling. You didn’t get drunk for 9 months. In fact, you drove me around for 9 months while I got drunk. You developed cankles. You cried because your wedding ring got stuck on your water-retentive fingers. You committed numerous selfless acts to procreate a little piece of me, and for that I am truly grateful…now here, have this shit ‘gift’.

The following ladies? I implore you to siphon off some hard cash from your joint bank account, bob down to Selfridges and piss it up the wall on selfish tat purely for you. Go. GO!

So there you go. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is not some snooty rule book or smug ‘how to’ guide to life. It’s a conversation. A confession. A little reassuring, non-judgmental, honest bunch of people saying ‘we’re in the same boat too’. Right now, hanging out in my laptop or kicking back in my mobile, are my kind of people. I’m sorry it took so long, but I found you in the end.

*ok. Twenty. TWENTY. Yeesh, what are you, my birth certificate?

**-ical

*** I know, it’s a terrible pun. Big sozzes for that.

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A Break From The Bitching


So I could start this post with 40-odd excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in ages. AGES. Like, proper ages. The last time I blogged, a lot of stuff had not happened in the world that has now very much happened. The Kim Kardashian/Kanye West love-in was just a twinkle in Twitter’s eye. Samantha Brick and that terrifying French marksman she’s married to had not been invented yet. The “Where’s Me Keys, Where’s Me Phone” man off Britain’s Got Talent had yet to make it to the heady fame heights of a Simon Cowell half-bored, half-irritated eye-roll and was probably still sat at home, working on his other, often overlooked track “I Was Sure I Had A Tenner In My Wallet. No. Wait. I Think I Used It To Buy That Pasty At Lunch” (sure, it’s not as catchy as his BGT follow-up but if you can get hold of a copy on eBay, I think it could become a collector’s item one day). Where was I? Excuses. Yeah, what’s the point? What is the point in my lame excuses for not writing? For one, all 40-odd of them would largely be variations of “I’ve been really busy” and seriously, when addressing a bunch of people who are also “really busy”, is that going to wash? Is it hell. Do you ever get that? Do you ever get people saying to you “you know, I am SO busy” and whilst on the outside you nod and sympathetically smile and make little mewing noises of “poor you, you need to take it easy”, inside you’re shouting “busy? BUSY? Oh, you’re busy are you? BOO HOO, poor you, you can’t possibly be THAT busy because look at you, you’ve managed to find time to put mascara on both sets of lashes. BOTH. That kind of luxury I could only dream of. Not that I do dream, obviously, because I am so busy, I can only sleep in 30-minute, dream-free stints. Do you have any clue what busy means? I’m SO MUCH BUSIER THAN YOU”. Do you get that? Do you sometimes (always) genuinely believe you’re the busiest person EVER? Or the tiredest? No? Are you still reading? Shall I get my coat?

Um yeah. YEAH. Anyway. Busy. Working working working. Things are still going well. I’m enjoying the job and feel like my kids, husband and I have settled ok into the new routine. There are still moments when the big, dirty guilt-bombs drop  – usually when my son is asking me why I’m going to work AGAIN (but why mummy? Why? WhywhywhywhyWHY?) – and I suddenly find myself struck with an overwhelming panic that my selfish needs are effectively turning my children into woman-hating psychos, but the majority of the time, I successfully drop-kick these ‘am I doing the wrong thing?’ anxieties into oblivion – usually with some reminiscing about the good old days when I didn’t work and could often be found weeping over a pile of felt tip pens with their lids missing because my mental state was so screwed-up – and get on with it.

Guys, has anyone seen the lids? Guys? GUYS?
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEBODY FIND THE FUCKING LIDS BEFORE THEY ALL DRY OUT.

I won’t lie, having a job is tricky, but it’s not anywhere near as tricky as being with my children full-time and I’m pretty sure this was the right decision for me…much to the chagrin of some of the mums I know from round my way who seem genuinely disappointed when they ask me, again, how things are going and, again, I tell them things are going good. Take this conversation I had the other week:

How’s the job going?

Yeah, good thanks. I’m really enjoying it.

And how’s the commute?

Yeah, it’s fine. It doesn’t bother me to be honest, I quite enjoy it.

Really?

Really.

You must be tired though. Are you tired? It’s a long way to go. Are you tired?

Um, yes, I suppose but I’m always tired, working or not. Honestly, all in all, it’s going well thanks.

Well, the novelty will soon wear off I expect. I must say, going back to work isn’t something I’d consider doing just now, while the kids are so little.

And that was that. I was left stood there, feeling like a bit (a lot) of a twat while the mum in question sauntered off, smugly. Smug that she’d put me straight. Smug that she’d chucked some passive aggressive shit into the equation about me leaving my kids. Smug that she’d told me there’d be some point in the near future that the enjoyment of my job would wear off and I’d come to my wretched senses. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

What a bitch.

Seriously, what a bitch. What a tactless, unnecessary thing to say. And of course, rather than taking the sensible route of shrugging off the comments, flicking the Vs at her as she drove off in her wanky car, and carrying on with just doing my own thing and not worrying too much about what other people (particularly people I hardly know and don’t especially want to know) think, I started to wind myself up about it all. Why are women sometimes so horrible to each other? Why do some feel this need to turn everything into a fricking contest over who’s doing the best in life? It drives me insane. This one time a while back, I was talking to one mum I knew (note the past tense) about food shopping (I know, I’m a right laugh, me) and happened to mention this farm shop I’d found that sold decent, cheap veg (stick with me on this one). It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t organic, I wasn’t applauding their fucking globe artichokes and hand-foraged truffles – in short, I had no hidden agenda, I was just passing on what I thought was a nice little tip about somewhere that sold cheap spuds. Big wow. Do you know what she fired back with?

“I’m quite happy with Tesco, thanks. Lucky for me, I’m not a food-snob”

No word of a lie, that is what she said. Somewhere in between coming out of my mouth and being processed by her ears, my thrifty (albeit mind-numbingly dull) chit-chat had somehow become:

“oi, Tesco twatface, my veg is better than yours”.

I’m so over it. I’m so over this competition. Life as a mum is hard. In fact, life is hard – mum or no mum-stuff – full stop. Everybody in the world knows this – it’s an actual fact – yet so many women refuse to acknowledge this to one another. And, yeah, I know that really it’s a case of taking the moral high ground, shrugging off the idiots and only hanging out with the people who make you smile rather than those who make you seethe but still, I’d like to make a little plea for a break from the bitching. It’s ok, I’m don’t want to cuddles or anything, I’m way too anxious and uptight for physical contact with strangers, but still, a smile and a little shared, sympathetic nod towards the tough stuff in life can go a long way.

Failing that, be nice to me and I’ll tell you where you can get a good deal on Maris Pipers. Yeah? YEAH! Come here, let’s hug this out.

Because The Term ‘Big Trunk’ IS FUNNY…


So, including the couple of weeks I did from home prior to venturing into the big, wide, often grubby but jam-packed with enough badass clothes and food shops to counteract any hygiene concerns, world of London, my one month trial as a full time worker is coming to an end. Yesterday, it was review time. Was my boss happy? Was I happy? Did I want to carry on?

No….I didn’t…..

Sorry. I don’t know why I did that. I’m just dicking with you. Of course I did. Of. Course. I. Bloody. Did. I’m having the time of my freaking life. And I’m really sorry because that might sound gloaty or showy-offy and I know, nobody likes a smart arse (yes, smug mum acquaintance who, after my request for hangover cures on Facebook, responded with ‘I’ve never had a hangover so I can’t help you on this one’ – THAT MEANS YOU) but if I tell you that, prior to coming back to work, I largely spent the previous two years crying, enduring 4am anxiety attacks and repeatedly berating myself for generally being shit at life, then hopefully me saying ‘actually, yeah, things are pretty good right now’ won’t make me seem like such a wanker.

So yeah, things really are pretty good right now. The job is ace, I work with a lovely, funny bunch of people – not one of whom has ever told me anything remotely passive aggressive about their kids and what they’re capable of – and as a result I am laughing a lot. Like, proper laughing where my face hurts, not manic laughing that has been instigated by my daughter rubbing yoghurt up the wall and, as a result of me being so exhausted, I can’t do what I want to do, which is cry, for fear of passing out (because obviously, me passing out = nobody to stop the kids getting those indelible ‘children’s’ paints out = another fucking wash to put on when I come round).

Where was I? Oh yes. So all good. Getting the work done, raising a lot of eyebrows (ok, raising BOTH eyebrows, that’s pretty much the maximum eyebrows any one person can raise) when anyone apologises for the heavy workload because seriously, compared to 6.30am-8pm of pure, unrelenting kids, a full-on day or writing and researching is genuinely a doddle in comparison, and feeling a whole lot better in myself and what I am capable of. Sure, I have guilt and there are still flashes of ‘my children, I have ABANDONED MY CHILDREN’ panic that run through my mind each day but I find I can usually stamp on these with a quick text to our lovely nanny to see how everyone’s getting on. Failing that, I just bob out to Urban Outfitters and look at pretty things until the worry dissipates (‘ooh, fake-vintage necklaces….Children? Eh? What?).

Anyway, chat with boss went well, I’ve signed up for another few months and hopefully many more will come after that. And, in celebration of this very news and of life generally picking up a bit, and in a kind of farewell to the stay-at-home mum in me, I thought what better way to remind me that I’m doing the right thing than with a little review of my SAHM cock-ups. The clangers. The bollocks I dropped. The opposite of highlights. Basically, the shit that happened when I was with my kids. I like to think of it as not totally dissimilar to the part in the Oscars where they show you a montage of who died and their work. Although obviously in this case nothing died. Except my soul, obviously, but I think I might have resuscitated that so dry your eyes and cancel the wreath. It was touch and go at one point, but soul hasn’t taken its last breath yet.

No. I’m not on drugs. Well, not illegal ones anyway. I’ll shut up now. Here are my motherly balls-ups:

After a particularly stressful day at home with the kids that had seen them throwing Whiskas around the kitchen, we had to then go to a bonfire party at the home of my husband’s boss. Through no fault of my own, and through every fault of the boss for having rosé wine when EVERYONE knows you should never EVER give a highly emotional woman with a screaming child on her hip rosé wine, I got drunk. About an hour into the party, I thought ‘sod this’ and, grabbing the nearest available stranger, handed them my baby, briefing them with the words “if her hands smell of fish, it’s because she’s been eating cat biscuits”. And off I fucked to get more wine.

Social Services In A Glass

Getting a serious, and somewhat inappropriate attack of the giggles at the local music class when, as part of ‘Africa Week’, the teacher encouraged the kids to join in with the words “come on kids! Dangle with me. We all like a big trunk don’t we?”

One Christmas, attempting to make my own mincemeat (don’t start), I had just bobbed in to Tesco Metro to buy a quarter bottle of whisky. Trying to channel my inner green goddess, I decided to say no to the plastic bag and just chucked the bottle in the nappy bag. Naturally, seeing as I apparently live in sitcom-world, who did I bump into just moments later, whiskey bottle sticking out of my nappy bag? That bitchfacesmuggysupermum who, just the day before, I’d been telling how fraught and desperate for a drink I was. ‘Hello alcoholic’ – that’s pretty much what her eyes said to me.

Scrambling around a church altar during a playgroup nativity service as my errant toddler, complete with bulging shitty nappy, took the opportunity of the diversion of every other child angelically singing Away In A Manger to leg it from me. There was a plus point to this, however – as we all filed out of the church, the hot vicar complimented me on my rugby tackle. Phwoarrrr, hot vicars totally dig a woman who knows how to floor a stinking 2 year old in a place of all that is holy. Get. IN.

Crying, in front of the kids, at Subo singing Both Sides Now on This Morning as they rubbed Sudocrem into my good coat. Hey, we’ve all been there, right? RIGHT?

Shit. Scary.

The moment when, as I was loading one kid into the car, my son decided to lean on the horn one morning after a particularly stressful playgroup that had witnessed me breastfeed my daughter CONTINUOUSLY for THREE FUCKING HOURS. This would not have been so bad if we weren’t parked up outside a church. Which we were. Or if there had not been a funeral taking place. Which there was. Or, had he not taken the precise moment the coffin was pulled from the hearse to start his honkathon. Which he totally did. My son heckled a corpse. Is it any wonder I quit full-time motherhood?

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Dirty Dancefloor


I have officially been working for over a week now. A WHOLE week. In my terms, that’s usually more than enough time for me to have loved something, grumbled about that same something, reconsidered it, got itchy feet and started planning my next move. I wouldn’t say I was fickle, more…ambitious?…ever in search of life’s challenges? Ah, fuck it, I’m fickle. However, in the case of this lovely job stuff, I haven’t for a minute thought ‘should I really be doing this?’ or written a pros versus cons list (I used to do that a LOT) because it has, just naturally, felt right. I hope that doesn’t sound smug. It’s really not meant to and if it makes any difference, I am shattered and a little bit missing the lazy mornings when the kids were at pre-school and I could watch 90210 under the pretence I was doing some terribly important research on teen surf boys and their abs (good teens, you know, like over 18 and allowed and stuff). But, BUT, on the whole the ‘feeling right’ thing and not spending a good part of my day questioning my existence and worth is quite nice. It’s really nice, actually. After generally being a bit incompetent at being a full time mother, it’s nice to remember there’s something out there that I’m not so shit at.

Anyway, wanky-wanky-my-fragile-soul-wah-wah-wah-you-have-heard-it-all-before rubbish out the way, here are some other things I have learned this last week:

The GAP near the office is open when I walk past in the morning. Ditto Urban Outfitters. This can only point to one thing and that thing starts with me building a collection of more jeans than any one person could ever need and ends with the kids having to wear clothes I’ve made. Speaking as someone who once used staples to mend a hole in her top, I think you’ll agree that that is more than a fair trade-off and my children are actually very lucky to have such an innovative, creative mother. Who will make them new clothes out of staples and plastic bags

That, although yes it is still dark outside each morning, the blackened windows of the train carriage act as an excellent mirror for when I’m putting on make-up

Eyeliner application and a moving train do not a happy combination make

In order to get out of the house in time each morning, I need to plan my outfit the night before. A bit like when it was out-of-uniform day at school only this time around, I’m trying to work the ‘young enough to get asked for ID’ look, as opposed to the ‘old enough to get served Hooch at Bargain Booze’ look

Binge Drinking: The Glory Years

There is a really fit guy who gets on my train two stops after me. I must make sure to apply my make up within two stops

Bob, the buy in the ticket office, is my new best friend. So far we have talked about the snow, made noises of derision at the guy on the bike in just his shorts and skinny top (Australian?) and discussed a couple of South West Trains’ policies – namely pricing. I’m a little fuzzy about the details but it ended in Bob suggesting I dress as a schoolgirl to get discount. I went and waited on the platform at that stage

There are more places of lunchtime glory near the office than any food obsessive/anxiety sufferer can stand. Today, I think I will go the whole hog and do a supermarket sweep style run around them all, piling noodles, superfood salads, gourmet burgers, falafel, low gi, high gi etc into my mouth as I go. That is genuinely the only answer to this dilemma

If I don’t bankrupt myself on jeans, I’m going to do it via lunch

Four years ago, a Thermos cup in public would have been the social death equivalent of doing a poo on a dancefloor (anyone?). Fast forward to today and I refuse to leave home without it. I still, however, would not crap on a dancefloor

Stand Tall, Stand Proud: My Insulated Capsule Of Geek Glee

A lot has changed in music since I was last working and I’m not talking about The Zingzillas. Lana Del Ray, Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks – I’ve heard these noises before but just presumed they were things young people said like ‘tings’, ‘bare’ and ‘you messing around in the wrong manor, blud?’ (no?). Turns out they’re actually real people what make songs. To get up to speed, this weekend I will mainly be watching a lot of YouTube

Either the lighting in the loo at work is really bad or I need to wear a lot more makeup

In my efforts to outwit a similarly apostrophe-obsessed, punctuation-enforcer, I have discovered a website called grammar-monster.com. Oh yeah, it’s like ASOS but better because it teaches you about adjuncts and doesn’t make you feel fat

My Kind Of Woman

While four years may have stripped me of any current musical knowledge, it seems time, and the mum thing, has taught me a lot of good stuff in return. Namely:

I don’t hang around. Having had to master the art of dressing and feeding two toddlers, sorting my own pallid face out to make it bearable for the good, good people of the outside world, make two reasonably decent lunch boxes AND leave myself five minutes to watch, then grumble, about Lorraine Kelly on morning telly, all in the space of 45 minutes means my mode is very much permanently switched to ‘time is of the essence, hurry the fuck up’. This, teamed with an occasional fall off the caffeine wagon into a double espresso, has made me quite productive within limited time scales. Handy when trying to knock up a 4-page pitch document within the space of a train journey

I can deal with noise. The radio, over zealous banter from very typical telly people who should be on stage not behind a desk, 16 different conversations going in, around and across me and the guy from IT talking me through the ins and outs of the intranet? It’s fine. I can concentrate. In fact, compared to Upsy Daisy and that ffffffucking trumpet, it’s like Enya’s whispering her harmonic sweet nothings as I work

Whilst still very much doubting my ability etc etc blah blah blah, I’ve also returned to the workplace with far less fear and much more of a ‘let’s have it’ attitude than I had pre-children. I imagine that is because nothing could be as shit-scary as raising children. NOTHING

Have a great weekend y’all.

@upyoursginaford

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For The Love Of Cher, What Have I Done?


So, Thursday is IT. The big day. This week, after almost 4 years of being a stay at home mum, I am going back to work. Like, WORK work. In exchange for money, in an office, with a commute and an expectation to produce stuff other than Play-Doh-dog-poo and four-letter words with the alphabetti-spaghetti. And you know, it’s a good job I’m naturally such a laid-back, whatever-will-be-will-be, kind of person, otherwise I’d be totally crapping it right now.

Alright. I’m totally crapping it right now.

Anyway, in honour of my angst and all-round obsessive, anxious nature, and to explain the mad-ass run of emotions having a house party in my head, I’ve created a little pie chart. Would you like to see it? Would you? No. WAIT. Don’t make that snoring sound. See it. It’s got colours and everything. Go on, give the pie chart a chance…

For The Love Of Cher, What Have I Done?

Firstly, can I point out that the Cher to whom I refer is Cher-Cher. The Cher. The one who straddles cannons in her knickers and once closed a show by riding on stage atop a life-size papier mache elephant. Not X Factor boo-hoo-er and jagger of the swagger, Cher Lloyd.

Secondly, as the big slab of red pie suggests, What Have I Done is definitely my overriding emotion. A real sense of what the FREAK am I thinking? It’s a lovely little combo of worry, fear and confidence issues, all of which join forces and like nothing more than to wake me up at 3am, asking me a gazillion different questions. Will the kids be ok? Can you manage the commute? What about the work? It has been FOUR YEARS Abby, can you do it? Do you think maybe your employers made a mistake? Hey? Do you? Do you? Oi Abby, take the pillow off your head, WE’RE TALKING TO YOU.

The kid stuff, I try to reassure myself by thinking of the pros. The weekends that will be more fun because I’m not so stressed or frustrated or plain depressed. That their dad will be spending more time with them. That I will still get to see them every night and that the time I am with them, I will appreciate more. And hopefully, that they will appreciate me a bit more because right now, as things stand, the days we are spending together are getting increasingly stressful for all of us. Is it bad to say that? I think it might be. I just find it hard to hide my emotions and when those emotions revolve around me being so bloody bored and miserable, the kids respond by getting equally pissed-off. We need this time apart so that the periods we do have together are more fulfilling and enjoyable. I’m aware this all probably sounds quite mean and selfish and completely un-maternal but all of the above is not meant to suggest I won’t miss them, because I will, a lot, and that’s another corner from which a worry creeps.

Then there is the work itself. For anyone who ever had any long-lasting doubts as to the validity of their achievements, you need to read about Imposter Syndrome because it seems it could be an actual bloody condition. Right, I know this sounds a bit bollocky but a friend put me on to it and reading the details made me go all shivery with recognition:

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalise their accomplishments….despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others”

Seriously, Wikipedia may as well have just put a photo of me with this piece (a nice Instagram one. With a sepia tint and red-eye reduction) because this is how I feel EVERY SHITTING DAY. That I’m going to be found out. That people have got me wrong. That any praise I get is because people feel sorry for me. That any success is a fluke. Yada-yada-does-this-make-me-mental-are-you-backing-away-slowly-making-excuses-about-having-left-the-oven-on-just-so-you-can-escape? So yeah, another worry is that I’m going to go to work, get in a meeting and the only impact I’m going to make to my new colleagues is that of a mis-hired, bungling goon. My writing? They’ll think it’s shit. My ideas? Laughable. You know that time Alan Partridge pitched his ideas of Inner-City Sumo, Cooking In Prison and Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank to the guy from the BBC? That’s how I imagine my first day will be. Me clamorouring for good, witty, intelligent ideas and instead shouting out a load of random words.

You know what, I’m even getting on my own nerves now. Let’s move on to the next one.

What To Wear

Moving seemlessly from borderline emotional disorders to clothes. A bit like the time I was on LK Today and they preceded an ‘in-depth’ talk about body issues with Kool and The Gang miming Celebration. Or like when Pip Schofield interviews a domestic abuse victim on This Morning then moves swiftly on to a feature about swiss rolls. I’m digressing. Anyway, you know, for anyone starting a new job, officewear is an important matter. And of course, an always-welcome excuse to go shopping. So yesterday, that’s what I did. What you need to know is that I’m re-entering the world of telly. A realm that, from what I remember, is populated by people who look like T4 presenters. Boys who look like younger, less drug-ravaged Pete Dochertys and girls who rock the dress-down look in a way I never could. Their version of festival chic channels the likes of Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller and Kate Moss. Mine takes inspiration from Charlie Dimmock and Mr Bloom. Yep, if memory serves right, my colleagues are going to be a good decade younger than me and at least 3 stone lighter (probably following a tapeworm they picked up whilst travelling around India over Christmas) and was with this notion in mind that I hit the high street. Thankfully, the one thing my age-cultivated wisdom told me was that while the high street offers a treasure trest of fashion wonder, it also tells lies. Yesterday, the fibbing little shitbag tried to convince me that the Kat-Slater-does-Hammertime look was very much the one for me. It wasn’t. Nor were the Little-Mix-esque patterned leggings or the sequinned knickers. Ha to you, high street, HA. I may be emotionally wonky but I’m not blind. Instead of all of the above (and a whole lot more – neon bandage dresses? is that a wind-up?) I took my chances and purchased an AMAZING pair of coloured jeans and badass top to match. Something a little bit different from what I’ve been wearing the past 4 years (bobbly leggings and a hoodie) will surely help get my worky, creative juices going?

Not a joke. Not part of a Mel B fancy dress pack. Actual clothes.

Ooh, Lunch

This could easily have been titled Ooh, Pret. I love Pret. I love food. I love lunch. I also love choice and where I live now, in the middle of nowhere, you’re lucky to find much else in the way of takeaway food outside the culinary confines of a ham roll. Dairylea Lunchables have to be shipped in from the north round our way. A pasta salad? Are you out of your mind? Um. Anywaaaay, the promise of almost unlimited lunch options in lovely London town where I will mostly be based is something that cheers me right up. Add into that the factor of being able to eat said lunch in peace with nobody asking me to wipe their arse or put Jim, Jam and Sunny on the fucking ipad for the fifteenth fucking time that day is a veritable dream. I’m sorry for saying fucking so much in that last sentence, it’s just I’ve seen Jim, Jam and Sunny do their wigglewigglewiggle dance 876 times and the resulting emotional paralysis has affected the bit of my brain that stops me using the F word.

Giddy Excitement

While the worry and the panic does take precedence in my little ginger head, the excitement does very much come a close second. I’m thrilled to be going back to work for a company that I genuinely admire, with people I know will inspire me and in a role that I would have never in a million years expected to be in when I was fresh out of uni and wondering what the mothership to do with my life. I am excited about using my brain. About earning money. About feeling worthwhile rather than worthless (my own failing-as-a-mum issues, not how I think ANY stay at home mother should feel, EVER) and about taking this next step in my life – a life that, while full of achivements in the sense of ‘I made two people and kept them alive’, has kind of felt on hold the past few years. My children will always, absolutely take priority – always – but the idea of devoting a bit of time now to the woman I used to be is the biggest thrill of all. I just hope she’s still around. I hope she has waited for me.

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Olive Sucker. Shouter. Dishwasher Bitch


Man, you bloggers out there, you’re so GOOD. Not only do you write well, you write often. Power cut, earthquake, Dont Tell The Bride marathon on BBC3 – I bet there’s not a household crisis, natural disaster or the distraction of an enraged woman in a white dress screaming “what the FUCK am I doing at Thorpe Park on my FUCKING wedding day?” that would stop you from writing your posts-of-glory on at least a weekly basis. Usually more.

I, on the other hand, seem to be starting more and more blogs with lame sorry I’m late-type apologies, despite not knowing if anyone could really give a flying shitbag anyway as to when my next rant was coming or how long it had been before I last bleated on about getting tanked up on boozy Vimto / Peter Stringfellow’s motorbike / KirstiefuckingAllsopp. But you know what, if it helps or matters or makes anyone feel even a little bit better, I have had a mega week from dilemma-hell with a lot to think about, fret over and use as an excuse to cry about. Here’s what happened…

Right. Tuesday, I went on a train. This might not sound like a big deal but let me explain three things about this train:

1) It did not have a smiley face on the front of it, nor was it plugged into the wall outside Tesco. This train did not involve me putting 20p in a slot for 3 minutes of underwhelming entertainment
2) It was a proper bloody train. More importantly, my children were not on this proper bloody train
3) It was taking me to London. To London to talk to someone about me going back to work

Thomas The Tank Engine's tranny cousin. The one nobody talks about.

Pretty fricking exciting. And then terrifying. Because it’s me and for every good thing there has to be a good three or four or fifty bad things. But I’ll go into that in a bit. Wahoo! I just promised you some upcoming gloom and anxiety, don’t say I don’t treat you right, bitches.

Anyway. The good stuff

Two hours on a train. It was amazing. I had my coffee, I had my computer jacked up to the hilt with sitcoms (for research purposes, you understand), I had my book, I had clothes on that neither smelled of shit nor had any dubious is-it-yoghurt-is-it-spunk? stains on (NOTE: that question is always posed by the onlooker. I know it is ALWAYS going to be yoghurt). The only concern I had about these two hours would that they would not be enough to do all the exciting stuff like reading, eating and sleeping that I had planned. What I also dug about this trip was the distinct shift in my role and identity for the day. To the untrained eyes of the commuters sat around me, they didn’t know me for being a mum and that felt amazing. The incident the night before where, having dealt with an angry, constipated kid all day, I’d found myself involved in some kind of deranged, grotesque horror-movie waterbirth where, to a chant of ‘come on, come on, you can do it’ my daughter had crapped directly into my hands – my fellow passengers knew nothing about that. That I had sat sobbing in a car park the other week whilst frantically sucking the red pimento bit out of a tub of olives because it was the only way to placate a screaming toddler who loves olives but hates pimento? Yeah, they didn’t know about that either. Nor were they aware of my meltdown when, just moments later, I’d had to fill out the ‘occupation’ part of a form and written ‘Olive Sucker. Shouter. Dishwasher Bitch’. To them, I was part of their gang – just another person, on a train, on their way to work. To me, this train journey was a lovely little reminder of what I used to be (and maybe of what I still actually am, given half a chance) and I liked it. I felt free.

Well, free right up until the moment that the bitch who lives inside me and likes nothing more than punching my positivity square in the face pitched up. And promptly tried to shit me up.

First came the panic about the kids. I hadn’t left them in the car or anything – they were with their dad – but then I started thinking about exactly what that meant. For one, my husband had seemingly channelled ‘off-duty lapdancer’ as his inspiration for dressing our daughter that morning. Secondly, the last thing I’d seen as I left the house was him – and this is 100% actual truth – stood at one end of the kitchen, lobbing loose grapes and jelly babies into the kids’ lunch boxes at the other end of the kitchen. ‘My GOD’ I thought ‘nobody will ever look after my children as well as I do, what the hell am I thinking? I can’t go back to work’.

And that brings me to childcare. When I’ve had a bad day and I’m calling my husband at work, weeping ‘she just brushed her teeth with my FUCKING Beauty Flash Balm. I can’t do this anymore’ down the phone at him, I tell myself I couldn’t give a hoot who looks after the kids. My husband; an unqualified, slaggy au pair with a sex addiction; an affable chimp with a basic grasp of communicative grunts – a lot of the time, I’d happily hand them over to any one of these. However, this day, on the train, with the guilt of momentarily enjoying some time on my own weighing heavy on my selfish shoulders, I started to brick it. What would I do about childcare? Like sure, there are nannies and childminders and pre-schools but, after three years as a stay at home mum, would any outside influence just make my children hate me? You know, like, even more than normal?

Alright, kids? I'm your new mummy

These disproportionate feelings of guilt and fear of doing the wrong thing by my kids and my role as a mother probably aren’t helped so much by the fact I live in a village where 97% of families are run by stay at home mums (I totally made that statistic up but you get my point). Women who wouldn’t dream of working and who rank me with my vague career aspirations somewhere between King Herod and that woman who bought her daughter a boob job for her 7th birthday on the ‘who’s the shittest parent?’ scale. I made the mistake of mentioning the whole job/London thing to a local mum at a toddler group before voicing my worries and fears in a misjudged search for some reassurance. Tilting her head to one side and scrunching up her nose, she reacted with ‘ooh, I know, it can be frustrating sometimes but they’re only really teeny-tiny and you do have to think of the kids first’. Think of the kids? Think of the fucking kids? That is all I have done for the past 3 years and all I still do now. I think of them every waking moment. I lie wide-eyed at 2am, crapping myself about stuff I do and how it affects them and yes, I know a kid is for life, not just for a year or three but sweet Jesus, I’m not suggesting I sell them to someone on Gumtree, I just want more from life. I WANT MORE.

Her hand is MASSIVE

Anywaaaaay. Anyway. There was that. And then there was the job itself. A really, really brilliant job with an amazing company, doing something I would love. Like actually, properly L-O-V-E. But whether I could do it was another issue. Three years out off work can do a lot to your confidence and while I’ve been doing little bits and pieces of writing and stuff on a freelance basis for the last few months, this has all been done remotely from a hidden corner in my local Caffe Nero. It didn’t involve an office, colleagues or the daily pressure of earning money by creating work that a lot of other people then have to like. It felt like I was kidding these potential employers. And kind of like I was kidding myself. Despite having a really lovely meeting, I left their offices feeling like a big, fat fraud. Who did I think I was? I wasn’t the woman I used to be. Time had changed. I had responsibilities and priorities that top-trumped anything I wanted to do. Returning to work was never going to happen and I was a massive prick for even thinking for a second or two that I could somehow pull it off.

So, with all of the above and a whole lot more running rampage in my head, I turned the job, with the brilliant company, working with brilliant people, down.

And they came back to me and told me to think about it.

So I thought about it and went back with another polite, somewhat apologetic no thank you.

And they suggested I have one last think about it.

And that is exactly what I did. And by ‘think’ what I could easily have said is that, between the hours of 8pm and 10pm last Wednesday night, I turned my life into a big, ridiculous, all-wailing, all-hating drama. A bit like Eastenders but with added doom. Eastenders at Christmas, say. Honestly, it was full-on. I cried, I got snotty, I told my husband it was all very well him saying to go for it, he was ‘emotionally devoid’ when it came to our kids (sorry John). And then, after two hours of me being a bit of a wanker with no perspective as to what constitutes a real problem, things went quiet and a new thought fought its way into my head.

What if I did take the job?

What if I just stopped cocking about and gave it a go? What if, I figured out the childcare, sucked up my issues, tucked them away into a little corner in my brain and let them fight amongst themselves for a bit. And then all the other good stuff came flooding back. That this could be an amazing chance to prove myself, to myself. That yes, it would be tricky on so many levels, but maybe a chance to reaffirm the shit I am good at, rather than spend all day berating myself for the things I am bad at could really kick what has been, and kind of still is, a really stubborn bout of depression into touch. And you know, as much as the idea of doing this is scary, there was one overwhelming thing that terrified me far, far more – the thought of not doing it.

Holy crapbags Batman, I think I’m going back to work.

@upyousginaford

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