Sunday, 28 September 2014

I am good and I am grounded

After a mood plummeting day at work, on Friday Ms K drove us into London, to Shoreditch, land of hipsters and coffee bars and art galleries. We had an evening of people watching and listening to music over the babble of heavily bearded young men and beautiful fresh faced young women, too fascinated with themselves to stop talking to listen to the band. The drive back was taken up by a discussion with Mr K about Utopia. I was home by midnight.

Last night was cooking for friends and watching our (big) children play with matches, making candles out of candles while listening to Goldie's playlist, drawing comparisons with what we were listening to 20 years ago. We talked about going into town to see a band who were playing, but chose sleep.

This morning I skipped the first half of Goldie's match to sit in the car and listen to The Archers. When I did go and stand on the sideline, there was one man I hadn't seen for a while, back watching his son play football in the pause between surgery and chemotherapy. I sat next to him on the grass for a while, as he told me how life changes in the instant between the day to day and diagnosis.

And then the 7th (we worked it out) annual sloe/slow walk, always with a different group of people, but always with a core of me and Goldie and Ms P and her boy. The sun was out and there were stretches where the late September day was hot and it was a relief to get into the shade of the woods. I remember how I felt on this same walk at this sort of time last year, before I'd labelled what was wrong. Some days, some weeks, are still just a matter of getting by, trying not to do too much harm, but today I could gage how much better I feel than I did 12 months ago. That's what ritual allows, I guess. A door frame on which to measure change, and growth.

I need my girl - The National

Thursday, 25 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 watching, learning, considering, needing, changing.

A couple of evening this week  I've been watching an hour of television in the evening instead of retreating to the bath or bed. One evening I watched posh quizzes on BBC2 (University Challenge and Only Connect) and last night it was Great British Bake Off which I'd been meaning to watch because of the inordinate influence it seem to have on people at work. As in, "I don't think I'll go for the team manager job because I'd have to do the application form tonight, and it's Great British Bake Off night".  Or "I can't stay late tonight, it's Great British Bake Off".

For real life book group I have been reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I may have picked up some facts about New Zealand, and gold mining, and opium, but probably the most significant bit of learning is that sometimes a book only really gets good on around page 621. I am still not sure that makes the endeavour worthwhile. I'll see how the next couple of hundred pages go.

I am considering Goldie's plea that we (me and him) go and see a Liverpool match at Anfield. I would love to, and I'm delighted to be asked, but the expense and logistics are a bit beyond me just now.

Today is  day off work and I am needing to fit in food shopping, bathroom cleaning, floor scrubbing, a visit to a DIY store, a decent walk with the dog, some long overdue paperwork. And cleaning out the snake, Severus.

Everything is changing at work. In a good way. We have permission to try some stuff out and to make some stuff up. I' officially 7 out of 10 excited, which for me is pretty excited.

Next weeks themes are throwing, drinking, looking, loving, sharing.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon

Today I had enough serotonin or there was enough sunlight right at the tipping point into the dark part of the year, or maybe it was the bight blue of the sky as I drove west towards work, or maybe I was just bored of all the woah and drama, the drudgery of depression, but for whatever reason it suddenly struck me that, yes, my daughter went back to uni on Saturday, and yes that means she's not with me, and the world is a big and scary place, and she's not my baby anymore.... and that is a GREAT THING. She is having the time of her life up there, being clever and bright and funny and learning oh so many lessons. And that means that we got enough of it - of parenting - right. Through guess work and good luck we somehow did enough of the right things and not too many of the wrong ones and this is what might happen when you do that, not always, because everyone has their own needs and their own access to choices, but sometimes, with parenting, if you get it right they're going to leave you. They are going to fly. And how on earth is it that over the last year I somehow forgot that what I always wished for my children was that they would learn to fly. THIS  is what I wanted for my darling, longed for girl.

And the grief of her going hasn't been about her. Yes, I miss her. We are missing a girls worth of laughter and affection when she isn't here. But she's in touch all the time with ridiculous texts that I relish, even the 3am "they're playing The Smiths in this club mum!" ones, and she loves coming home when it's time to come home. The grief was about my sad and lonely leaving home at 16, and the years in hostels and squatted houses, always a bit scared and a bit hungry. Which is why I spent Saturday morning with my daughter spending money we don't have to fill her cupboards, her freezer, and the fridge before I left her. Because it's different this time. There's no need for her to be scared or hungry. She's not running away from anything, she's running towards adult life, eyes and arms and mind wide open.

The Geese of Beverley Road - The National

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