Monthly Archives: January 2012

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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Watch Your Back 2012, I’m Coming For You


“YEEHA-Mexican-Wave-Let’s-Smash-It-UP! It’s 2012! Year Of The Olympics! Year Of The Dragon! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Let’s have it. No, seriously, I’m totally cool with this. LET. US. HAVE. IT”

So that was me on New Year’s Eve. I’d drunk enough vodka and fizzy Vimto to get over the pretty depressing fact that a) we were watching TV’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks on a night when every other fricker we knew was at a party, having actual, proper fun that didn’t involve Debbie McGee and b) the other TV viewing alternative for such a momentous event as the beginning of a whole new year was The Cube. The bloody Cube. A show that sends shooting pains of angst through my very core. There’s just something about that spooky mask woman who demonstrates the games and the stern voiceover and the floaty graphics-in-space that Pip Schofield makes the contestants pretend they can see that leave my already frazzled nerves shot completely to shit.

Are you ready for The Cube? Not with that creepy bitch in it, Phillip, no.

Anyway. Digressing. What I’m saying here is, for a short while, largely because of alcoholic Vimto and the fact my kids had finally gone to bed, I was totally up for 2012. After what had been a pretty rotten year, I kind of welcomed the start of something new because new = exciting, yes?

Well. Yes. And no. Because new also = the unknown. And the unknown? Well, for anyone of a vaguely wobbly emotional disposition (ooh, that’s me! *eagerly puts hand up and shouts ME! ME!* *realises a wobbly emotional disposition isn’t actually such a good thing, puts had down, looks sideways to check nobody saw that*) the unknown can be a bit terrifying. One minute I’m a big fat mass of giddy motivation and positive enthusiasm – essentially, a walking, talking exclamation mark – ‘YEAH! 2012! So many goals I’m going to achieve, let’s DO THIS’. The next minute? I get the energy-crash of the ‘what ifs’. What if I my daughter doesn’t adjust to pre-school? I won’t have time to do half the things I have planned. What if I do find the time and what I then do is rubbish? What if that dirty black dog that has been known to piss on my happy parade scuppers the whole motivation thing? What if I get so tangled up in my 2012 to-do list that my brain gets overloaded, I can’t figure out what to do first so I just end up spending my childfree hours mumbling incoherently at daytime re-runs of Diagnosis Murder and Escape To The Bloody Country until its time to pick the kids up? THESE ARE ALL THINGS THAT COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Call it the sobering-up process. Call it Sandie Shaw in her hotpants on Hootenanny looking like Jessie J’s mother. Call it the sneaky side of my brain that acts like it’s trying to help me with its words of ‘advice’ but is actually just trying to screw things up (a bit like the time this girl at school suggested I’d look good with a perm when really she just wanted to get off with this boy we both liked who, it transpired, was very much not into the whole ginger-Anita-Dobson look). My mood switched. Something was trying to smack-down my zest for the oncoming year and I had to act fast.

How I imagine Hilary off Dragon's Den to look on a karaoke night down the pub

So, pissed-up, emotional and with a good two litres of full-fat Vimto-sugar coursing through me, I wrote a list. I won’t say resolutions because, let’s face it, the second you mention the R-word, people tend to roll their eyes, smirk and look at you with a smug combo of condescension and ‘bullshit!’ glinting in their eyes. Instead, it’s more of a list of stuff I intend to face up to or knuckle down and do before the year is out. 12 months to feel the fear then do it anyway. A bit like a Bucket List that doesn’t involve me dying at the end. A Fuck-It list, if you like:

Finally turn that sitcom idea I have in my head into an actual script. This will involve me a)not wetting myself with worry that it’ll be dreadful and people will laugh at me, rather than at what I write and b) in the name of research (no, HONESTLY), watching so much comedy, it seeps into my eyes, infiltrates my brain then falls out of my ears (jesus, you’d have thought I was on acid, not vodka)

Do everything I can to stop dwelling on stuff from the past, stop panicking about what could happen in the future and just go all buddhist on my outlook and live in the now (it’s ok, if that’s a bit new-age and wanky for you, the next one should sort that out)

Get someone famous to follow me on Twitter – Gino DiCampo? Barry Chuckle? One of Same Difference? I could not give a hoot who it is. I’m not picky, I just want someone who is/was once on telly once to be in my followers list. Is that too much (read: too shallow) to ask?

Get some official exercise because 1) it helps with the depression thing and 2)I’ve a bridesmaid dress to get into for my sister’s wedding in September and I want to pull a Pippa Middleton out the bag for it. Zoe – if you’re reading – that’s a joke. Everyone else – that’s so not a joke, I want to look hotter than my sister on the biggest day of her life, is that really SO wrong? Is it? Is IT? It is? Oh.
Note: Attempting to pull some BodyRockers Shufflin’ moves in front of the Viva channel on a Saturday night does not count as official exercise

Should the exercise thing not work out, wear M&S magic knickers every day and night until my body learns to stay that shape without the aid of reinforced control-lycra

Failing that, just do that diet where you chew food up then spit it in the bin because, you know, that’s healthy. I think maybe Geri Halliwell got skinny that way? Or was it Liz Hurley?

Learn to take criticism well and look at is as a positive and constructive means of improving myself. If that isn’t possible, learn to FAKE taking criticism well, whilst inside thinking ‘this person has no idea what they’re talking about. I am right, they are wrong’

Give Zumba a go. Solely to prove the point that not everyone likes it.

And finally…..(it’s quite profound this one, steady yourselves)

Accept the fact that cleaning products from the 99p shop will NEVER tackle limescale in the same way as Viakal. In the words of the great Status Quo, ‘you pay your money, you take your choice’ – never a truer word spoken when it comes to cheap bathroom cleaners

It’s not a long list by any means but hopefully that’s a good thing in the sense of making it more achievable. Of course, the 99p shop thing will be a stretch because, you know, they’re very clever. They know how to make the labels on some random bleachy stuff look like proper Cif from a distance so I’ll have to watch out for that one but otherwise, I’m feeling pretty hopeful.

Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat but I’d best crack on. I’ve got a boxset of 30 Rock to get through and a pair of control pants to wrestle my arse into. Look, you can’t argue with the Fuck-It list

@upyoursginaford

P.S. I’m not sponsored by Vimto. I’m from the north – I just really like Vimto. It’s akin to the whole Scottish/Irn Bru thing. Is that racist? I hope not. Most of my friends are Scottish. That’s not actually true, I have no Scottish friends but that’s not a conscious choice, it’s more of a geographical thing. Shall I stop talking now? Yes? Ok. Bye then…Big-up the Scots. Etc.

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