Thursday, 23 April 2015


This is a Currently post, inspired by and linkable to Ot and Et and Kale and Beans. The words they have provided this week are growing, playing, singing, choosing, looking. 

I think I may be experiencing some weird, middle aged version of growing pains. I am being pushed out of various comfort zones, and it's having consequences, good and bad. I'm still trying to work it out, and no doubt part of the process of doing so will involve a blog post at some point.

It's the end of the football season, and Goldie is playing in various cup finals. Tonight, his school team play, sadly without either Snake or I being able to be there (I have a feeling that not having the potential embarrassment of his parents at a school match might not be too sad for Goldie), and on Sunday the team he really cares about, his Sunday league team, travel across county for their final. It's a big deal. The prize for me, win or lose, is that subsequently we get some free Sundays. Staying in bed late, listening to The Archers omnibus on radio 4, cooking lunches for friends....

Out of kindness, nearly all my singing takes place in the car, on my way to work, insulated from the world. This week, I've been singing along to (surprise surprise) The National and The Smiths, but also a bit of Radiohead, a bit of Ben Howard.

I think we're choosing to spend some unexpected money (some from the sale of some items of Snake's dad, some that my parents gave us on their anniversary) on a holiday in the summer. Some of it's gone on debts, and there are more sensible things we could do with the rest, but the plan is (if we ever get our shit together, gather our shit in) to book some time in Lisbon, a city none of us have ever been to, where there is sun and water and art and shops - something for every one of us. The holidays we've had over the years are so much a part of our being a family. It's sort of what we do, when we get the chance, and I guess we don't know how many more chances there will be, with the rate they're growing. Not that I can really foresee a time when either of them would turn down an opportunity for a holiday.

I'm looking at images that I think I want to incorporate into a tattoo, partially to cover up an existing tattoo on my upper arm. I have ideas, and last night I finally got round to asking a talented friend of the girl's if she would design something for me. Perhaps this is part of my mid life crisis, or whatever it is that's going on.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I don't know why we had to lose the ones who took so little space

A few times on Facebook I've seen a status that causes a flurry of  concern. One time, it resulted in help being called for a friend, and him having a hospital stay. He's living in France now, with a new partner, creating beautiful things. It's worked out for him, for now. Maybe that post, deeply worrying for family and friends at the time, got him the support he needed and led him to where he is now. I hope so. I hope the froth and frippery of Facebook has within it to save lives, to make things better.

Last night, in my insomniac hours, I read an update from a young man who befriended me on Facebook about 6 months ago. I haven't met him, but we have friends and - probably more importantly - causes in common. Matthew is 21, but has already served on his town council. He's at university. He does voluntary campaigning work for the NSPCC. He has autism. He has been bullied all his life and was trying to find ways to stop that happening for anyone else.

The update he posted last night was a suicide note, a farewell, a resignation from caring too much and being punished for it. An acknowledgement that adulthood doesn't solve all the problems, and doesn't protect.

Facebook did what it does and reached out to him. Police were called. Friends rallied - real friends, who knew him and could reach him. I got a few more hours sleep feeling that everything that could have been done had been done. During an exceptionally busy working day, I didn't get a chance to check in on him, and it wasn't until I was walking to a friends for an impromptu 'it's Spring!' barbecue last night that I had a chance to check my phone, and to see that he is dead. He is really dead.

There is the tearing away of a young. committed and talented man gone. There is the crime of someone being bullied beyond limits. There is the feeling that we should all have done more. There is wanting to believe that if someone had only been able to find the right combination of words then he would have made it through to the morning, and that it would have been possible, then, to start making it better. There is disbelief that he shared his intention with 100's of people, and yet was still able to walk out of his house to the station and step in front of a train. There is an image of this very young man stepping (jumping? climbing?) off the station platform. There is a ridiculous, irrelevant, question I want the answer to and will never have - did he take his glasses off? Was he so sure, so committed, that he could do this without choosing the option of blurring the edges?

The National - Hard to Find

Friday, 17 April 2015


This is a currently post, linked up to Ot and Et and Kale and Beans. This weeks themes are reading, eating, enjoying, learning, wishing.

I have been re-reading Cats Eye by Margaret Atwood, and thinking about going back to H is for Hawk which is our real life book group book this month. I have also started reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler for Ladies Who Book Club book club. I understand very little of the cultural context presented, and I'm still enjoying it and finding it worthwhile, so I imagine it will be extremely entertaining for people who know who Amy is. 

Hmmm. I'm still doing the 5:2 diet and eating very limited calories on 2 days of the week. I'm still enjoying the choice to by hungry sometimes. But I haven't been taking a lot of notice of what I eat during the rest of the week, which is a concern on several counts. I know that how I eat has a disproportionate impact on my mood and wellbeing, and also I'm the big vegetable eater in the house - if I'm not occasionally making a vegetable based meal, it means that the rest of the family are living on a largely pasta and rice based diet. It's been a little busy and chaotic here. I need to re-group on the eating. 

Last night I was enjoying watching Amelie at a college film club run by a friend who is a teacher in film making there (I'm pretty sure that's not her job title). It was a really lovely film, and I can't quite believe I haven't seen it before, until I think about it and remember that I'm crap at watching films (2 hours seems like such a commitment, and I'm not great at sitting still without falling asleep). Still, Ms K, who came with me, had it in her head that I'd seen it before and hated it .She's known me forever and has a far superior memory to me, so I was inclined to believe her. It's still possible that I have seen it before, although scary because I have no memory of it whatsoever, but I can't believe I'd have hated it. It was gorgeous. 

I want to say I've been learning Spanish, or knitting, or a comprehensive understanding of the major parties manifestos for the upcoming general election, but I can't think of anything here at all. It's been a bit of a flat out week. I can't actually remember Monday. 

I am wishing for a couple of things to be resolved successfully today so that I can enjoy the weekend. I am presenting the project I am involved in to a group of organisations this morning, and will be glad when it's over (public speaking is not something I'd choose to do, though I'm getting better), and I'm still waiting to hear if we're in court on Monday to try and move forward on a complex situation. It would be good to know today whether that's happening or not. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sunshine on my back

I had a weird sensation of adulthood this evening, just a glimmer of it. It was felt as a counterpoint to a memory of being just out of childhood, living in a squat in west London surrounded by the most chaotic of people, and feeling how that felt, and realising how things have changed.

There was something about today - having got up early and gone swimming despite the exhausting weekend we had, then doing a 500 calorie day although I hadn't really been organised enough to eat a lot yesterday, when we were travelling all day. Something about getting back on track.

Then it was doing a day at work, catching up on the ridiculous number of emails that accumulate in two days absence, negotiating my way through a situation that I'm trying to keep out of court for a while longer, hearing that the budget I'm nominally in charge of has come in on target at the end of the year (this has very little to do with my efforts and feels vaguely miraculous to me).

Running from work to pick up Goldie from Ms M, stopping to talk to her about the difficulties she's having with her girl, with a friend who stayed at the weekend, with the after effects of a car accident. Home and straight back out to stock up on food for the week. Home again to the realisation that the bath I'd been planning isn't going to happen - the children have got there first.

It's about knowing the girl is going back to York this week, and that is OK, missing her is OK. It doesn't diminish me to miss her. It's about having spent a weekend with my brother and having avoided all the old behaviours from early childhood and a time when we were simultaneously fighting each other for survival and clinging to each other in order to survive. It's realising that family relationships can change and become sane and kind and measured.

It's about messages from various friends in various parts of the country, checking in, reaching out. It's about knowing my dad is back in hospital tomorrow for more chemotherapy, and containing my response to that.

I'm 46 years old. The children I refer to are 20 and 14. I have a house and a job, a long standing good, strong marriage, and numerous responsibilities. I am by any measure an adult, and today was much like many many others. But so much of life is minute to minute. Something about the tangible change in seasons, the sun finally shining through, something about the act of introducing my favourite music to somebody and re-hearing it and re-loving it, something about feeling that I've come through some of the hard stuff, and this is where I'm meant to be.

Sunshine On My Back - The National