Thursday, 18 September 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are calling, loving, eating, riding, wishing.

Before the girl went out this morning with friends she played me a 3 am voicemail message from a boy she met over the summer. He's back at Uni somewhere far away now, but he was calling, very drunk, to tell her he misses her. "Will you see me because we should be together, because we met in the summer, like Calvin Harris says. We should be together. Calvin Harris. I have to open the window now....Calvin together....." he says, repeatedly, for some minutes. We laughed a lot. She's back to York tomorrow, and he's somewhere down South, and he honestly doesn't sound like he has the mental wherewithal to arrange for them to see each other any time soon.

I am loving that Ms K, my lovely friend who moved to this town a few weeks ago put the soundtrack to a film we saw together through my door one day this week. The film, a COMEDY as I keep having to remind myself, was majorly emotionally devastating for me, because I have no sense of humour and am missing several layers of skin at the moment, and the soundtrack is every song that was on the radio in 1984, when I was 15. It makes me cry in the car on the way to work, but so would the shipping forecast just now. That's not the point. The songs are SO GOOD. God, I was lucky to grow up with The Smiths. I really, really was. (There's a bit of a leap there, as I don't think they're on the CD, possibly because they weren't ever played on the radio much, but they infuse the whole time for me).

As I type, I am eating a prawn and okra curry that Snake has just produced. Warm and spicy. Comforting, and made for me.

Tomorrow the girl will be riding the train to meet me from work so I can drive her back to York for another term. It has been wonderful having her home. It's going to hurt all over again to leave her there. She'll have an amazing time. It's entirely the right thing to happen.

I don't even know what I am wishing. I have such a privileged life in so many ways. I think I am wishing that I was finding it a bit easier to stick to that compass point I set for myself, to be brave and be kind.

 Next weeks themes are watching, learning, considering, needing, changing.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I'm too tired. I'm so very tired

I feel terribly out of step with the world. Convinced I'm not fit to be in it. Not sleeping. Crying. Unable to connect with people.

I've said for years that I was an unhappy child but that's not really it. I am sure I was born with the same capacity for happiness as any other child but I was subject to behaviour and threats of behaviour that meant I was scared and depressed for a lot of the time, especially when I tried every way I knew to tell the people that should have been protecting me what was going on and they failed to listen.

Being taken back to how my childhood felt is always difficult. Today I went to see a film that I needed to see and that was wonderful and powerful and very funny and full of hope but that plunged me back to a time when I was fighting and fighting to be heard on every level from 'keep me safe' to 'change the world' and, guess what, the world won't listen. The film this afternoon made me desperately, disproportionately sad. It made me want to go back to 15 and to do again and do it right this time, somehow. Try harder and save both the whole world and this one fucked up girl.

I wanted to stay in the cinema, grieving, but that wasn't an option, so I came home to talk to Goldie about homework, to put a chicken in the oven to share with Peel and her girl, to dig out the citalopram that I haven't quite got round to throwing away.

What Difference Does It Make - The Smiths

The World Won't Listen - The Smiths


Can I ask you about today

Last weekend was Burston Rally, a strange hybrid of village fete and trade union rally that takes place in the Norfolk countryside. It is eccentric and friendly and a good day out. This year was the centenary of the school going on strike to support it's teachers, and it was also the year in which both Tony Benn and Bob Crow, stalwarts of the movement and the event, have died.

It was a hot and bright day. We saw some old friends and we bought some revolutionary chutney. But it was another, strange anniversary. Although the dates don't quite fit (the actual anniversary was last week), last year we didn't go to Burston because Snake's father was critically ill. It was the day before his death. That was with us there as well, somehow, that year we missed.


For years, since Goldie was someone we could pick up when his legs got tired, rather than the 6 foot huge man boy he is now, we've been doing an annual walk with some friends which incorporates picking berries to make sloe gin. It's the sloe walk, or the slow walk, since it always seems to take about double the length of time that the distance suggests. I hope we will do it with friends again soon, but on Thursday Snake and I decided that is how we would spend a day off together, because it is the end of summer and because the sloes are early on the trees this year as a result of the (relatively) warm, bright weather we've had.

We thought that with just the two of us we would do the 6 miles in a coupe of hours, but we hadn't taken into account the sloe picking time, or stopping to talk to a man who was providing refreshments to a group of people who were running 10 marathons in 10 days. He had set up a stall by the side of a very lonely road, in an unpeopled landscape, with, among other things, cups of rice pudding which he said were to meet the needs of a woman in her late 60's, who would eat nothing else. There was no sign of any runners, then or throughout the rest of our day. And we hadn't taken into account stopping for flask tea and olives and cheese. Or a conversation with a man cutting down a diseased beech tree. Or diving into one of the churches on route to check that the Sheela na gig was still there, hidden behind a curtain.

So even without children or many people and dogs, it took us five hours to cover a faction of a distance that the runners were doing day after day in less than half that time. But they were good hours.


La had a party yesterday. There was wine and cake and their beautiful garden and people were being bright and funny and friendly. Apart from me. As soon as we walked in I knew I should have stayed at home. I'm OK, but not OK enough for that just now. Or in fact, it's nothing to do with being OK or not. Just me.


The huge moon, or the change in seasons, or stresses at work or something has meant that sleep has been particularly elusive this week. I'm awake too much and in my own head, and I want a break from it. This morning there is some empty time. I aim to spend it alone and at rest, listening to The Archers and thinking about nothing at all.

About Today - The National


Thursday, 11 September 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are falling, wearing, making, smiling, learning.

Last night I was almost falling over with relief at the successful completion of a long awaited day at work, the launch of a project that was handed to me when I returned in March and that I've been working up to some sort of real life, fit for purpose, do-able thing to present to the team. The jobs we do aren't ones that can pause while we change things, because we are supporting the most vulnerable people and they and others will be at huge risk if we don't continue to do it. So asking people to work differently is a big expectation on them to make the head space, to trust us, to give even more of themselves than they already do. I'm relatively new to the team, and it was, frankly, frightening to ask them to make this leap with me. I was also aware of the assurances I'd made to several senior managers who were in the room with me, and were relying on me to make this work. It went well, and I drank wine in the bath to celebrate.

Clothes are weird. Or what I expect of them is weird, or something, Since I was about 14 I've worn predominantly black, and most of my choices are designed to conceal rather than enhance. Deciding not to buy clothes that are new has been liberating because if I see something that I like in a charity shop and that will fit I buy it, even if it's not something I would previously choose. And I think the thinking behind that is partly that what it looks like is less important than that I've removed myself from an exploitative system, and maybe also partly, I'm 45, who cares what I look like, and/or I'm 45, I'll wear what I like and what other people think about is entirely up to them and not my business. Having rambled all that, I'm still predominantly wearing black, mostly leggings and flowy/baggy long tops.

We have been making changes in the semblance of a routine that we have. My work pattern is different starting this week. Goldie is at a new school, football is a big chunk of each weekend again, dog walks are taking place mostly in the dark.

I have been smiling at the stories that Goldie has been bringing back from upper school. New friends, new subjects, new lunches. Yesterday he was picked for the football A team. A week in, and he's loving it. I'm very happy for him, and I'm hoping the school recognises and sustains his enthusiasm.

On Tuesday I went along to the school where I am Governor to join a group learning about safeguarding. A few hours of horrific statistics and heart-breaking stories. I sloped in late and sat opposite a friend who works at the school. I haven't seen her since I heard her sister had died, and in a room full of people I could only ask her how she was with my eyes.

 Next weeks themes are calling, loving, wishing, riding, eating.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are loving, craving, demanding, questioning, worrying.

I have been loving love which I now believe to be sweaty, noisy and right on the edge of hysterical laughter or uncontrolled sobs. And experienced by a couple of thousand people simultaneously.  I wrote here about a mass wedding by the Thames. I haven't recovered yet.

Goldie goes back to school today, it's my last week of working part time, and Snake has a day off, so me and him are heading to the coast to satisfy a craving for sea air, the crunch of shingle and fish and chips eaten on the beach.

Work is extremely demanding just now, and I'm beginning to feel the impact of changes that were made when I returned 6 months or so ago. And wondering what I need to do about them. And how to prevent them taking up too much head space over the next few days when I am supposed to be off work. That old anxiety is creeping back. My body and mind demanding some preventative action.

Yesterday evening I picked up Goldie's from a friend's house on my way home from work and we went to buy wine and cake and flowers to take to and end of holiday distraction evening with Ms K and her girl. That half hour or so that Goldie and I spent together allowed for me to catch up on where he is a little, where his friends are through some targeted questioning. At what point does it become that they explain their world to you, rather than the other way round? In some ways , right from birth I guess, when you're learning this whole new person, but it feels particularly now when he's moving on to a new school and a bigger world, and his friends are experiencing a huge range of stuff  that he is finding ways to understand and support (O's parents relationship is ending, F struggled with the party they were at and had to leave, M is going to a different upper school than the rest of them and is scared she's made the wrong decision, 13 year old T is already talking about the man that her family have decided she will marry in the future), and he is the one I need to go to for lessons on how his world works. I am very grateful that he still lets me in.

I have just looked at our bank account. I am worrying about how we get through this month, and the next, until my full time wage kicks back in. There is always a way and it's a stupid thing to expand energy on - we're not going to starve - but it's a trap of concern that gets me every time. Also, worrying about work, and Goldie at his new school, and about how I'm going to react to the girl leaving again to go back to uni, and how I'm going to cope with winter.  What an elaborate and useless cage I build myself. Just get me to the sea for a reminder of what's important and of how powerless we really are.