Thursday, 29 January 2015


This is a currently post, with the themes - wondering, running, winning, calling, finishing - provided by Ot and Et and Kale and Beans.

I am wondering what life will be like in post-austerity Greece. And if Snake and I will ever live there again, just for a little while. We talk about it a lot, and it's do-able, in theory. Goldie sort of likes the idea of us taking off now, but I think if it does happen it will be when he's through school, in that mythical time when we might have fewer ties.
I may have committed to running in a Race for Life event, with colleagues, all of us dressed in pink leggings and tutus. I have no idea when this is due to take place, or what exactly it entails. It is not the sort of thing I say yes to. If I am made to run I am likely to actually pass out, or maybe die. And pink leggings? A tutu, on 6ft me?

Most unexpectedly I feel that I am winning at publicly explaining the project I'm leading on to all and sundry, big groups and little groups and people who know a little about it and people who don't. I was near phobic about public speaking, but among many other benefits, this project has made me the nearest thing that the organisation has to an expert on implementing something that is going to change the way a lot of people work. I know I'm not good at the performance aspect, but I'm reasonably articulate and it's good to feel that I know what I'm talking about.   

Looking for Banksy's and eating pasties and maybe climbing something tall to test out another of my phobias....a weekend with Snake in Bristol is calling me.  We leave tomorrow.

I am relieved to be finishing January. I feel that a few monsters have been defeated, and I have so nearly made it through what I always feel is the worst month. It's all in my head, of course, but then, where else would it be?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Coming around again

My life feels full and busy and varied just now, and sometimes it's overwhelming, but I am also very grateful for the richness in its repeating rituals of friends, food, places.

At the weekend I escaped for a few hours with Ms M and the dogs, and we headed for the coast, for a long walk along the shingle, for fish and chips out of a paper bag and a shared pint of Broadside. We got back just in time to grab flowers, wine, cake and to head to Ms K's for a wonderful long shared meal with large glasses of prosecco and Malbec, and to be organised into games by Goldie and Ms K's girl. As Goldie and I and Ms M walked towards our respective homes, wondering at the stars and staggering just a little, Ms Sparks saw us pass and called us in for cups of tea and glasses of baileys. The next morning I wasn't hung-over, exactly, but it took me about an hour to buy 5 items in Aldi, and I forgot one of the things on my list. The Greek election coverage made Snake and I painfully homesick for Greece, and Goldie started looking up English language schools in Athens, trying to galvanise us into action, trying to make us make our dreams real. Later, I cooked and Peel joined us so we could catch up on each others weeks, check each others wellbeing.

Yesterday, after a day of running around the county for work, I met with some colleagues in Cambridge, for one of our semi regular group therapy sessions. They are all such fantastically funny women and I laugh so much with them. We ate in an Italian restaurant, crowded with students, and   found the humour in A's dad's stroke, in P's ovarian cancer, in T's dilemma about wanting to lose weight for her daughter's wedding, but knowing that when she diets her hair falls out. "Fat with hair!" we all screamed at her, drawing the attention of many earnest, bearded young men. "Be fat, with hair!". Sitting round the table with us there were serious health concerns, and worries about children and worries about parents, and partners and jobs, because none of that goes away, but there was also an acknowledgement that we've made it this far, and we'll probably keep going for a while yet, and for humanities sake, grab the laughter, grab it and let it heal you a little.

Back home and exhausted I needed to do some work for Fawcett that I'd been putting off and putting off, partly because it involved having to get a photo of myself for an election poster campaign to encourage women to vote. In the end Goldie, on his way to bed, grabbed the phone and took a series of shots, and we chose one of them. I also entered into a sudden panic that in the morning I needed to head back to the University of East Anglia, for the beginning of my research project. I grappled around for my student card, log in details, paper, pens, feeling entirely unprepared, feeling the many ghosts - the not being good enough at school, the crash and burn I experienced last year, the dread that I can't do it, I'm not able. I got up stupidly early and got here while it was still dark, and have been in the library ever since, hungry (it's a 500 calorie day) but happy to be here, enjoying the sights and sounds, as I always have.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


This is a currently post, a link up with themes, hosted by kale and beans and Ot and Et. Today the themes are starting, looking, listening, snapping, making.

I'm starting to focus back in on my physical and mental wellbeing, after the survival mode that characterised midwinter - the 'let's just get through the forced jollity of Christmas and many birthdays with continual eating, reduced physical activity and regular alcohol.' Which was a strategy that worked, and what are historically the most difficult weeks of the year for me are behind me, so no regrets. But for now, I am swimming 3 mornings a week, and aiming to eat no more than 500 calories on 2 days a week. Only my second day on the diet/not diet, so we'll see. But just the intention makes me feel a little better. Despite the aching legs.

Next week, I'm back at Uni with the intention of starting the piece of research that will let me finish my MA, which I've been working on for however many years, in time stolen from my job and children and stuff. I have been looking for a research area, and also for motivation. After a helpful meeting with someone who has agreed to mentor me through this, I think I have a better idea of what I'm doing, and am a little more motivated. The rest of the motivation, if it doesn't suddenly well up from a innate love of knowledge that surely lies within us all, will come from my desire to please my father, who always talked about wanting to study beyond school, but who was not able to defeat the demons that would have allowed him to do so.

My little iPod Nano, lost for months in the bottom of a random bag in the boot of my car, has come back! I'm listening to that through the car stereo, and thinking I really must put some more music on it. And take some off, if that's possible.

Not snapping, really in any sense. This weekend I have a long walk planned, and will aim to (pictorially) snap.

On Saturday evening, with minutes to go before I was leaving to attend a 40th birthday party, I realised I had no present organised. So, I set about making (not really making - compiling) a presentable gift. I found suitable small, pretty things and put them in a little jewellery bag, along with a typed quote from a tin of gorgeous quotes that I was given for my birthday by Ms K. I haven't even read all of my small, folded messages yet, but each of the times I've dipped into them, what has come out has been perfect. If anyone else is thinking about making a present for a friend then, a tin of quotes and messages and poems may be the most thoughtful thing you can do. I love mine.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

I tried to call you from the party

I had a text conversation with the girl, and told her that her adored and adoring grandfather (the one she spent Christmas afternoon next to, with her head on his shoulder as he dozed) is moving into a new phase of his illness. The next morning, after she'd had a night out partying, she sent a text to Snake telling him to look after me. She is 20, in any culture and by any standard an adult, but still, I am moved when she untangles her feelings from others and shows empathy.

I went shopping with my mother to buy a dress for their 50th wedding anniversary. When my father was first diagnosed he set his goals as being a big holiday and this anniversary. They had the holiday, and now they're planning for the party at the end of February.

Neither my mother or I like shopping, and it was a cold morning meaning lots of layers, and she has arthritis so taking on and off clothes in the confined space of a changing room isn't fun. Still, we found something. A dark, embossed print, with muted pink and blue flowers, and a wide skirt. I thought she looked wonderful in it. She may well change her mind and return it before the event, but I hope not.


Snake went to London for the weekend, to a launch party for a magazine/book thing he contributes to. Goldie went out for a meal with a whole group of school friends, to celebrate a birthday. I went to the 40th birthday party of a friend (it was cold, and I had that rare opportunity of few hours in an empty house, but I'd committed to the party, and I knew I'd have to go out later to pick up Goldie anyway). This friend has bi-polar and has frequent hospital stays. She is creative and warm and attracts people to her. I spoke to doctors and social workers and support workers, many of whom had their own histories of mental illness that meant that they had met my friend on various wards, but not in their professional roles. It was a good night. I didn't mind that Goldie's evening stretched way beyond the time he had originally said, and that it was late when he rang me to arrange for us to meet.

I Need My Girl - The National

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Currently  is a weekly link up with Ot and Et and Kale and Beans. They provide words to inspire reflection. This weeks word are showing, working, testing, cooking, dreaming.

I have been showing myself that I can be a little ridiculous at times in relation to completing tiny little 5 minute tasks that I somehow make into a huge deal. Now the dread rigmarole of Christmas and birthdays is well and truly over, I knew that I needed to make long overdue appointments with my GP and with my hairdresser. It just meant a couple of phone calls, but that felt huge and I've been putting them off, putting them off. I think I really believe that I might be told no, or told off. I imagine the hair salon saying, you're joking, we're not touching that hair that hasn't been near a professional in almost a year, and is a horrible growing thing ON YOUR HEAD that just keeps growing on your head, like some sort of head growth thing. And doctors receptionists are trained in resistance, and I've taken up way too much of the NHS's resources this last little while and I imagine whoever answers the phone will be thinking, oh for Christ sake, what does she want NOW.....Anyway, all done, appointments made, with lovely helpful people.

It seems to me that if you want to keep moving you have to keep moving and I need to do a little more exercise. I walk when I can, but that's not as much as I want to, and the only other sport I enjoy (apart from yoga, which costs, because I am terrible at motivating myself and need to go to an Organised Display) is swimming. So I'm working on a plan to be at the local swimming pool at 6.30 in the morning on 3 mornings a week. The first one was Wednesday. I did 25 lengths, and I ache, terribly. I will go again tomorrow and keep going, because I may be 46, but a little bit of a fairly gentle exercise shouldn't hurt like this and I need to get fitter.

My dad has been undergoing more testing in relation to his leukaemia, and last night my mum rang to say that he needs to start a course of chemotherapy in a few weeks time.

There has been minimal cooking here, by me anyway. Although I put together a meal of quorn sausages, sweetcorn and potato with the best gravy I've ever managed. It had to fit in between picking up the dog from the vet on my way home from work and getting to school for a parents evening, and the sausages and sweetcorn came out of the freezer, but it did the job.

Snake and I sometimes indulge in dreaming about roaming the world once the children have properly left home, and this week we were talking about living in Athens for a while. We lived in Crete pre children, and got to know and love Athens. The heat and noise of it. The history and protest.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Take me to the nearest city middle where they hang the lights

Goldie's birthday is over and my birthday is over, and it's the end of birthdays for a few months, and the end of all things celebratory, and I'm glad.

Having said that, they went fine. January is hard for me. Maybe because of the lack of sunlight, maybe because of various deaths over the years. But this year is so much better than last year. Goldie's birthday on the 8th marked the 1st anniversary of me realising that I needed to get to  doctor, that I really wasn't functioning in any part of my life. This year, Goldie asked for a meal that he specified, just us, at home. Peel popped round and ended up staying for cake and it was a lovely, relaxed, happy evening, reminiscing about Goldie's powerful, joyful birth.

On Saturday we headed to London for him to spend the money he's accumulated over the last few months. Like his sister, he loves clothes. Unlike her, he is a focussed and decisive shopper, which I appreciate a lot. We got round the huge Westfield Centre, a weird commercial legacy of the 2012 Olympics, in a painless and time efficient way, then ate sushi surrounded by bags, before heading off to the other side of the city to the Natural History Museum.

I love and adore the Natural History Museum. I have memories of it from my childhood, when my father's stepmother used to take us to see the blue whale, Chi Chi the panda, and a particular glass case filled with hundreds of tiny stuffed birds. When Eden was small we used to jump on the train just to spend a day there, loving the always the same and always different - ness of it. Or we'd be in London for something else, and at the end of the afternoon we'd race across town to spend the last, quiet, emptying out hour there, seeing what we could see. One of my favourite memories is of a day when the girl was maybe 3 or 4, and we arranged to meet a group of friends from all over the place. I'd done a night shift and was in a slightly hallucinatory state of no sleep at all, and I remember a day of so much laughter and so much wonder. Goldie first went when he was 6 weeks old, and I was delighted when this year he said that was were he wanted to go for his birthday. I still don't know if he really did want to go, or if he said it to please me. Either way is wonderful.

It was crowded though, so when we needed cups of tea we escaped over the road to the V and A (another astounding place, and one that I'm only really starting to know in adulthood). We sat in the William Morris tea room and soaked up the last hours before putting the girl on the train back to York.

Waving her off at the ticket barrier at a packed Kings Cross, even I with my poorly performing eyes could still see her for some minutes as she made her way to the train. It was partly her light coloured coat among the winter dressed travellers. And she's tall, which helps. But there is something about her that glows for me, some attachment that pulls my eye and that goes back to when she lay curled up under my heart.

Yesterday, my birthday, and Snake woke early to give me presents (a carved piece of garnet, a gorgeous charity shop jug, some perfume from the girl) and went off to his shift. I took Goldie to football, then we all met back at home to head off for a walk and a then a meal prepared by Ms M and Ms Sparks. Peel and her girl C came, and Ms K and her family, and it was easy and I felt loved and wondered why I make this time so difficult for myself, year after year.

City Middle - The National