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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

School Holidays - Day 1

The first lovely thing about the first day of the school holidays was having a nice lie-in without all that frantic school uniform, book bag, games kit, who wants what for breakfast rush.

Having said that, my childless brother laughed that I sent him an email at 8.50am so I guess in non-parent terms, it was not a treat but it was for me.

The second brilliant thing about the day was my husband bringing me a coffee in bed and telling me not to rush to get up.

We then had the sort of day that my fellow Mummy blogger "YummyMummyNo1" blogs about so well where you are not tied by the usual non-negotiable timings of school runs. So we played, we cooked, we laughed, we talked, we too it easy.

Highly recommend musical bottles by the way and also a great excuse to have that wine habit, mummies. Fill bottles with different levels of water, hand children a spoon each and you have a band. It is great how when you actually make time to indulge in these things with your children, you often end up having as much if not more fun than they are.

The only downside to the day was having to wait quite a while to find the time and space to write a blog about Dads which I wanted to be getting on with. It got written in the end so no big deal.

The evening was good too with my employed husband returning from work and cooking me a steak dinner and then putting me to bed early as I was exhausted for some reason. Not sleeping too well in recent nights and hope that changes soon as suspect I will need all my energy to entertain my trio over the next 5 weeks.

Today is art day and my daughter has already told me that "As Monet is dead, I will just have to be as good". She is very talented, very keen and very aspiring. All good in my book.

Here's to the school holidays, their joys and their challenges!

Let's make the most of them this year.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Dear Daddy ...

Dear Dad

I wish you had stuck around. I wish I knew you. I wish that I did not have to wait until the age of 40 to even know whether you had ever seen. You had and that was wonderful to know. I wish you had stuck to your guns if you wanted to keep me. I wish that about the only thing I know about you is that you are alleged to have hurt my mother physically. I wish I knew that you cared and that you still do.

Dear Dad

I wish Mum was still here so that you don't have to try to be both Mum and Dad. You will never manage it but it is lovely that you try.

I am thankful that you adopted me in middle age when most people would have been enjoying moving on to being just a couple. I remember so many good times. Daft but meaningful things like you spending one Christmas Day working on a Tumble Doll to make it work when everyone else gave up. How you asked your best mate to make me the most wonderful and unique dolls' house. How we walked together with you telling me the names of trees, berries and son on. I could confide in you about my teenage crushes and my adult love interests. You were such a good listener and never seemed to judge me.

I appreciate how you went without holidays so that you could put me through university and so that I would always have as much ready cash as anyone else did so I did not feel down at heel. You worked all your life, turning your hand to many things to bring in an income for the family.

My brother tells me you were always the same sort of father. I don't think so having heard to family stories over the years. In the Fifties, you identified as a breadwinner I think. Mum used to say that when she went into labour with her second son and it was breech so a bit of an emergency, your major concern was who was going to do your packed lunch for work. My older brother tells of tales when you were a strict disciplinarian.

With me, you took me to work with you sharing cases and acting as if my opinion counted. You organised work experience placements for me. You did my breakfast and got me to school every morning. We walked, we laughed, we talked.

I wish you had not always taken Mum's side in arguments. Sometimes, I think she was dealing with her own personal crises rather than reacting to my bad behaviour. You loved her and was so loyal to her and sometimes that grated.

I remember you getting really angry with me when I challenged the police once. As an ex-police officer that must have been difficult for you. I also remember your distress at realising just how livid you had got with me and how you might have scared me.

Now, I live with the reality of losing you. There's a wake-up call when one parent dies. Every time I leave you, I try to imprint the image of you on my brain just in case ...

I love you Dad.

Dear Dad

I don't understand how you could leave your two daughters. You never telephoned, wrote or visited them in the time I knew you. I used to raise the issue but you didn't like that, did you?

I also cannot believe how you denied the existence of one of your girls. What was that about?

I nearly caught you out in the lie once. Ever the quick thinker, you persuaded me otherwise. I know the truth now. It is not a nice truth but I know it.

I have reason to know that your daughters were probably better off without you.

There are many different types of Dad in many different types of circumstances reacting and behaving in very different ways. Here are letters to three that have mattered in my life. More to follow but welcome comments in the meantime.

What does you Dad mean to you?

Has being a Dad changed throughout the ages and how?

What is your Dad like?

What is the father of your children like and do you have any frustrations?

Are you a Dad? Is it easy or challenging? Who taught you how to be a Dad? Can you learn to be a Dad?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Thoughts on Grand Prix

This post is inspired by watching today's Grand Prix. Apparently "team orders" are not allowed these days but today one was given in a roundabout way. Basically, from what I can tell, it meant one driver was told to let his team-mate past him.

Now from the team point of view, they got first and second place so were successful. Does that work from the individual's point of view though?

I would like to declare now that I have always remained unconvinced of the benefits of team work. Too often, it means being dragged back by people with less enthusiasm or skills. I like to be defined by my individual things and not by those of others. Does this make me a nice person? Probably not but one of the lovely things about blogging, is that you can be honest.

Who would want me in their team on the sports front for example? I was always picked last and the reasons were obvious. I was rubbish at sport. That's OK and should apply more in the workplace.

Everytime I have done well at work, someone like a boss has parachuted in and claimed the credit either for themselves or the organisation. Interestingly, when I am perceived as not performing well, I am fired. Apparently, when things go awry, it is all the individual's fault and nothing to do with other team members including bosses or the organisation itself.

I do like to learn with and from others. I think I have worked as a team well once and it is where I had the definite role of leader and my colleague accepted that. Also, I worked with a real team-player who brought lessons from the sports field into the mix. A very special individual to interest me not only in team-playing but in sport too.

I know I am supposed to think team-work is great but I just don't buy into it. If I was second when I should be first, I would be throwing a strop. I couldn't do anything else.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Can men and women ever be just good friends?

I am writing this blog post at the request of someone I knew 20 years ago although not very well as it turns out. In answer to the question can men and women ever be just good friends, I have done hours of research but like most of these blog postings, there will be lots about me in here. I certainly think I have had my Vince and Penny moments in my time.

My first male friend was forced on me by my mum. I had to play at his house so that my mum could visit his mum and chat the afternoon away. All I remember is hating him playing with my toys. This may have proved very significant setting a pattern for future relationships with men. Get off my toys!

At primary school, I was placed on top table with three boys. I think I fancied them all at some point. I certainly flashed my boobs at them for a dare. Well actually, I flashed at one boy for a dare and then all the other boys threatened to tell Miss if I didnt's show them too. Contrary to my image, I have had quite a habit of flashing ever since according to my other half. My take is that I do it with exuberance but only on special occasions. I developped some sort of early crush on one of the lads in particular hiding a Valentine's card in his mathematics book. I don't think he reads my blog but yes, Simon that was you.

At secondary school, it became clear to me that I was totally unfanciable. So my male friendships there were real enough and based on playing cards for money. That sort of thing did not seem to appeal to the other girls at all.

At college, I feel I made some good male friendships uncomplicated by me fancying them and I am grateful that some of these continued beyond 1990's Graduation Day. Do I think any of these blokes were harbouring any sexual interest in me? Not really. Perhaps one in a bleak period love-life wise. I also got in a strange relationship in my first year which I tend to blank out as it ended up with the bloke in question threatening me with a knife. Home-sickness is a dangerous thing!
And then in life there will be the undisclosed gays and bisexuals who will use you as a cover story if you are willing to play that particular game.

I do think you can talk yourself into love interests when life is a bit empty that way and with the most unlikely candidates. I also think girlfriends and wives are very suspicious of unattached females. I have experienced both sides of that - one is quite good fun in a way and the other is torture. Whilst I can accept me having friendships with the opposite sex, I am not at all good at allowing that privilege to my husband. Yes I have trust and insecurity issues. I also think that karma may be repaying me for some of my silly games when I was younger.

Sometimes, you miss out on getting to know great women whilst you are busy fancying their fella or they are imagining you are. That's a real shame as fancies are by their nature passing whereas female friendships can be strong and long-lasting. Sometimes, the wife or girlfriend will make huge efforts to be your friend when their bloke likes you as a a friend. Working on the assumption you would not steal a friend's boyfriend or husband perhaps.

I guess the easiest person to be platonic friends with is someone you actively don't fancy at all even remotely. But if you find them repulsive, would you want to be friends with them in the first place? I have known men that I knew were straight but did not find convicing as men and they bored me so we never went beyond polite conversation if that.

So that is some initial thoughts on the topic that I was asked to blog about. I do have more but welcome feedback and comments first.

Describing Words

In recent times, people have started to use various describing words and terms about me and maybe they reveal something and maybe they don't but here they are anyway. See if you can fill in the alphabetical blanks and see if you agree or laugh out loud.

A - Astute
B - Bunny Boiler
C - Cute
D - Deep
F - Fierce
G - Great
I - Inspiring
J -
K -
L - Literary Lovely
M - Moody
N -
O - Obnoxious
P -
Q - Quirky
R -
S - Sexy
T -
U -
V - Vivacious
W -
X -
Y -
Z -

Well, what do you think?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Several amazing or good things about little old me

1. I gave Mum and Dad their much longed for daughter when they had just about given up hope
2. I got a Highly Commended for my cooking in a competition
3. I started a novel as a child
4. I got a fair few O and A-Levels and got into Cambridge University.
5. A photograph of me at Glyndebourne once won a prize
6. I once nearly choked at Edinburgh Castle
7. I once nearly fell over the walls at Edinburgh Castle.
8. I gave birth 3 times including to a whopper at nearly 12 pounds
9. I walked on fire and absolutely loved it
10. I had my heart shattered and dared to love again
11. I became a step-parent
12. I have volunteered for good causes for many years in total and worked for charities
13. I got a Cosmpolitan Magazine Woman of Achievement certificate
14. I have struggled with depression but always tried to live and aspire throughout
15. I am a loyal friend and really do care about others, whether close or not
16. I have a good sense of humour - quirky and sometimes quite black but funny
17. I talk at tangents but I think that makes me interesting
18. I blog in an open and therefore potentially embarrassing manner but it's honest
19. I took my clothes off and had a good time despite being overweight
20. I have the ability to surprise myself and others

This was written because recently I have had a tendency to beat myself up, see myself as lesser and so on. It's not healthy or good so here is my spin on me but all true too


What is charisma? How do you recognise it? Are you born with it? Can you gain it?

The first person in my life who had real charisma was my Uncle. He was a magical creature - talkative, opinionated, difficult sometimes but always entertaining. We would visit him regularly in Shepherd's Bush and if he did something, it exuded glamour for me. So I have a love of busts because he had one (not man boobs but a classical head and shoulders thingy) and like Pears soap because he did. He had a drinks globe and silver tray for yet more bottles. Later, I became aware he had a drink problem but as a child just loved his sense of adventure and possibility. The flat was so Seventies looking back with one of those flexible sofas ideal for parties. At his funeral, I heard that as well as a career as a tap dancer, he had also trained as an accountant later in life. Not bad for the lad from a Northern working-class town. When I was 17, there was a family falling out and I did not see my uncle again. So in a way, he is crystallized in time for me and I never knew some of the troubles that his huge character could bring if you knew him in adult life. Charisma of my uncle - he walked in the room and made something happen.

My older brother has charisma in heaps. He is tall, dark and good-looking. He left the same town as my uncle with just one o-level to his name. After trying priesthood and being kicked out (dont go there!), he did various jobs. He had the ability to walk into a potential workplace with no qualifications or experience and convince them to take him on. So he has worked in a posh Soho restaurant as a chef telling them his mother was a famous Northern chef. (Reality - Mum was a good home cook and a schools and hospital cook on occasion). He also charmed his way into a managerial position in Harley Street. Later he ended up at the top of a retail fashion chain. Approaching 60 years of age now, he can enter a room and everyone looks round and fawns over him. He can actually get away with the open shirt and gold medallion look should he choose. He likes the best things in life and has them in abundance.

A colleague of sorts had charisma for me. He turned out to be gay too so maybe there is a connection between gay and charismatic? He spoke silkily and always made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. That has to be a very special skill, don't you think?

Obviously, recent posts reveal the fellas I found charismatic but fancying is a different thing and you can convince yourself all sorts of creatures have charisma when actually they just spark something in you for a period in your life. Does not mean that they really have it. Which leads me to wonder if charisma is objectively there as a given or is a subjective opinion.

Who are the charismatic women? People have banged on about Princess Diana and Mother Theresa as having "it". I remember a teacher who I felt had charisma and this was largely based on the fact that she was happy to make her own choices even if we thought they were odd. An example would be that she did not have a television.

You can like people loads without them having any charisma as such or not what I mean by it anyway. So it is not necessary. Overall, I think you probably either have it or you don't and that it cannot be learned. Would you want it? I confess I would love to have that ability to have an immediate impact on people and a positive one at that.

Funnily enough, in recent days, I have been described as fierce, weird and a bunny boiler. I guess I will have to wait till next time round to be charismatic. Maybe I will invent a very charismatic heroine for that romantic novel of mine and call her Kate. She will keep bees, ice cakes and listen to Bach. She will wear orange and purple. Maybe, I shall write the novel on here and hope an agent happens across it

So I ask again, what is charisma? Do you have it? How do you recognise it in others?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Who is following me?

Blogging is quite an interesting journey in itself.

When I started, it was so I could please my Mum who had gone on about how I had always intended to write and if I only kept a diary, it would be a start. Her terminal cancer diagnosis not long after sort of hijacked the blog for a while. I note a long silence from around April last year until her death in September really. What was going on for me then? Not even sure. Lots of wailing, lots of keeping up appearances, lots of throwing myself into work and the wrong work at that.

In recent months, I have enjoyed returning to blogging either on here or in the micro form on Twitter. Both allow some elements of creativity - playing with different ways of writing and seeing what happens.

I note I have 75 followers and, being me, think I can't really be taken seriously at all until it is 100 followers. Of course, if I get 100, the next target will be 1000 and so on. Always aspiring, never satisfied.

Most followers do not comment on the blog which is a shame as it really helps to know what people think and when they say nice things, it is a lovely stroke to the ego. Official followers include friends, acquaintances, strangers and one wicked step-daughter.

Recently, a Facebook friend told me his mother-in-law wanted to be my Facebook friend just so she could access my blogs. How lovely is that?! So here's to Beryl, my first full on fan.

In the last few weeks, I have become aware of secret followers. In other words, people who read the blog but don't necessarily let me know they are doing so. Then it is revealed and I can feel quite exposed and vulnerable but also grateful for their comments and interest.

So if you blog, you never know who might be following you, when, where or with what intentions.

So who are you? Manic Mum, Wicked Step-daughter, Secret Sibling, Curious College Contact, Academic, Business-person, Stranger or Spirit?

When do you read blogs? Get a sense most read late at night but may be wrong

Where do you read blogs? Too many do it at work - naughty!

Why do you read blogs? I tend to read blogs to feel less isolated and to have a sense of empathy with people. I write them because it cheers me up, it turns me into a "real" writer and because I learn so much from comments left both about myself and others.

And what would you like to appear on here next? I aim to please as you know

When is a bench more than a bench?

When Mum was bed-bound in the latter stages of terminal cancer, she made plans. She told me that she wanted a bench bought and placing at the crematorium. Her thinking was that Dad would need somewhere to rest when he visited the crematorium with flowers. Dad is bad with his legs and often in pain so she was thinking of his welfare.

Following her death, Dad enquired whether he could have a bench but the crematorium said he could not as they no longer were adding benches to the grounds. Mum has stressed she did not want a tree so Dad started stressing about where he could get a bench and where he should put it.

At this point, my eldest brother offered to pay for a bench but Dad would not accept that. He spoke at length to me about the bench and I felt so fed up with it. The only reason she wanted a bench was for Dad's sake so, to me, once the crematorium said no, that should have ended the matter.

So in the 10 months since she passed away, Dad has fretted about getting the bench sorted. What type of bench should it be? Where should it be placed? What should be written on it? I have found it very hard to feign interest in the subject.

Finally, the bench has arrived ordered from the internet. It upset Dad a bit when it arrived flat packed but he seemed to feel better when he went to a shop to order a plaque for it. He spent ages trying to get the wording right and what he has put is fine. It's just that it does not move me. Like my son, I would have liked the bench, if we had to have one, to be placed in a public place that Mum had loved so that people would wonder who she was and how she lived her life. Dad has decided it will go in his garden (not hers as he moved following her death) and at the back so it does not get nicked.

Last week, he dutifully took photographs of the finished product and sent them to me via email. Still, I can't work up interest but know I must for his sake.

We visited this weekend and he insisted on me going to look at the bench so I took my two youngest children with me too as he seemed to want to make some sort of event of it. I asked my daughter to read the plaque which she did out loud. It just gives my Mum's name, date of death and says she was a loving wife, mother and grandma. All went well until we hit the R.I.P. bit which my daughter just read as the word "rip". This amused me but of course smiling was not the thing to do and Dad looked really moved and affected. I guess we all do grief in our own ways and losing your life partner must be devestating.

So the issue is resolved. Should we sit on it or look at it? The problem is in the year after a death, everyone thinks too much. Trying to do and say the right thing.

My husband found a grave in a field next to my Dad's bungalow when he went to retrieve a frisbee. It was for "Marley" presumably an animal. I said that was cool as Mum loved Bob Marley. Dad said maybe it was Jacob Marley. My husband told me later he felt totally insenstive for even mentioning the grave. Thinking too much ...

So when is a bench more than a bench? When it makes a widower feel that he has done what his late wife wanted and can be at peace with that.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

What my mantlepiece says about me and mine

Starting from left to right

1. Stripey mug of mile - this tells you that I get heartburn a lot and that my lovely son knows my tastes and got me a lovely bright mug for my birthday.

2. Various other mugs and beakers - this tells you that I am not the best housekeeper in the world and that my children are constantly thirsty (and hungry for that matter)

3. Car documents - these tell you we have permanent bad luck with cars

4. Random ribbon thing and pen - debris from artistic daughter's efforts

5. Wedding photo showing me and Him Indoors head butting each other and giggling - says it all and demonstrates our relationship very well. Also very rare as I have make-up on and look almost decent. The photo is displayed in a frame that is too big for the picture. This shows I am a cheapskate and buy such things in charity shops.

6. Photo of my youngest son aged 4 - looking very gorgeous, he will be a heartbreaker

7. Photo of my husband and oldest son when he was around 2 years old. We are on holiday in Mumbles at the lifeboat station. Husband looks so happy and carefree. I reflect how three children add grey hairs and stress to the mix.

8. Drawings of cunning cat and bright flowers - done by my late Mum specifically to ensure the children would remember her. And yes, she was both cunning and bright!

9. Photo of late Mum on Orient Express - a gift for her 50th wedding anniversary - the one time I did something really good in my life.

10. Dying roses and carnations from my husband who brings them rarely so I have to keep them till they go completely. These are in a Hot Chocolate machine thing. Why? Because I don't have a vase.

11. Oil burner and aromatic oils - part of my pseudo New Age interest

12. Medal my son got from Sports Day with third place written on it which is farcical cos he came last and then I pulled him out of the event (see the Sadism of Sports Day post from last week). So this shows how his teachers are trying to woo me out of an official complaint at how they treat him. Also various "taking part" certificates.

13. Two glass paperweights - one shows the Willow Fairy and was an inspired pressie from my best friend when my daughter was born. Other is a recent acquistion and shows the Eiffel Tower in Paris and my fashion-conscious daughter adores it.

14. The owl my late Mum bought for my oldest son. A statue type thing for him to have when he leaves home. She is now joined by two little owls.

15. Incense stick holder - another New Agey pretension

16. Hairdresser leaflet to remind me to get my hair cut. I am useless at going to the hairdressers.

17. One of the three wise monkeys covering his eyes because it represents how I look when I face life. I bought it for my husband for his office but my daughter stole it back.

18. Pine cone - a pressie from my oldest son

19. A clock and two Next type framed thingies - acquired cheap off Netmums Nearly New boards

20. A box of crystals - another New Age pretension and another charity shop find

21. A picture of Madonna and child - sent to me by my old college friend, barrister turned nun.

There you go. What do the contents of your mantlepiece say about you? And what do you think mine say about me?

What's your type?

According to my late Mum, my first love interest was a Maltese boy when I was around 4 years of age. I even have photographs of him somewhere in what looks like a tiny fisherman's jumper and me in my adored baseball cap in pale blue with badges sewn on from all the places I visited. I don't remember any affection for this boy - I think it was a case of my parents showing far too imagination.

My first boy that I had a crush on came when I was around 7 years old. He was a server on my lunch table at school. Hence, he was older by around 4 years and part of a double act of lads somewhat like Ant and Dec only with Yorkshire accents. I won't name the lad as we don't want to terrify him should he happen to chance on this but old schoolfriends can probably work out who it was. Anyway, maybe this experience set me on a path of older men? Maybe I just liked boys who had power? Anyway, this lad was the first of many not to requite my great passion. He used to call me "Mork" referring to my general moodiness I think or maybe that I used to enjoy sitting upside down about that time!

The next one came along the Summer before starting secondary school. We had moved to a new area and I met him when playing out. I decided to like him when somebody told me he liked me. That seemed a positive step up from the primary school one. So I played with him innocently along with a gang of us playing tennis trying to be the next Chris Evert. I remember him running off with my Slazenger racquet and me chasing him and then getting attacked by a dog. That should have taught me never to chase men! I think he was a bit of an eccentric and probably not able to be so comfortably in view of the restrictions of a Northern mill town. He used to wear lots of digital watches and sported a skinhead haircut. So what, you might say? But these little things impress when you are 11 and lovestruck. Of course, nothing was ever going to come of it as I was and remain the shyest person in the world. He, as boys and men will, got bored and went off with another model - more blonde, more glamorous. I continued to mentally obsess about him until his untimely death at the age of 16.

From around 1985 and with puberty well in force, I could just about persuade myself to fancy anyone who gave me a kind word. I had a penchant for those who looked a bit different or talked in an interesting way. So if you were nice to me when my dog died or had long hair or an earring, you were in whether you wanted to be or not. Again, I did nothing about these affections. Even if any lads at school had liked me in that way which still seems highly unlikely, I would have missed the clues or just bottled things.

In Sixth Form, there was a trip to Blackpool. Finally, I gained a bit of acceptance from the girls by slow-dancing (well slow-shuffling as couldn't dance either!) in a pub with a Dean from Sunderland. He was again an older man and I thought he looked very fetching in his yellow T-shirt. I can remember my best friend being totally shocked that I had let anyone that close to me. She looked similarly stunned on my wedding day two years ago. Well, as Dean and I were on separate coaches going in different directions, this one was not going to be very long-term. I came back to school where my Dad was waiting for me in the early hours of the morning. "Have you had a nice time?" Boozed up, I replied excitedly "Yes, I got off with somebody".

So that covers about half my lifetime's loves and lusts. We can deduce several things ...

1. That nobody fancied me although if they were on a bus out of town, they might give me a go.
2. That lads that were older than me tend to feature
3. That I liked lads with status of some sort
4. That I adored anyone who was confident enough to be that little bit different in terms of style

So off I went in 1987 to university and then into the big wide world. Who will Katy fancy next? And will it still be older fellas with summat that bit different about them?

Monday, 12 July 2010

More questions than answers

What damage does it do when a parent rejects a child whether as a baby or later in life?

Why do women choose keeping men happy over their own children on occasion?

Why does society stand by and not tackle domestic violence?

Why would any parent parade their underage child to older men in inappropriate settings?

Male depression - is it the same or different from women's experience of it?

I have reflected on these questions many times and just thought I would post them and see what readers think. Over to you!

Moving on a step at a time

When Mum died in September last year, I almost felt as if I was regaining her after the awful ravages of cancer. At the funeral, I smiled quite a lot thinking about what she would be saying about it all, who was there, what they were dressed in, whether my eulogy for her was good enough and what an arsehole the priest was. She had clearly upset him by picking a psalm he did not know!
After sorting through her clothes and even the blankets from her last-week rush into hospital with haemorraging, I could not let them go. I wore her clothes and just could not bear to part with the blankets. Also and unlike my Dad and brother, I could not cope with having photographs of her on display.
A couple of months ago I put up a photo of my Mum. It shows her on the Orient Express trip I bought for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. She looks so serene and classy. I cannot even imagine how someone who had to share a bed with her 6 siblings in thirties poverty felt on such a luxurious trip. I am also reminded that Mum and Dad only just missed out on their Diamond Anniversary by one year.
This week I put Mum's photo in a nice photo frame so now she sits there on my mantlepiece and it feels OK. Over the months, I have charity shopped most of her clothing a bit at a time and this week the blankets were disposed of. I sense these are signs of my moving on, still grieving but intergrating it more into my life rather than it being so gut-wrenching all the time.
There are still tough times and they catch me unawares. At the school fete, I saw an elderly woman sitting on a bench. She did not look like Mum but it brought up feelings of how nice it would be to have her there. I find myself very greedy for her company but is she had died at 110 years of age, I would have still wanted more. Perhaps it was time for her to have a rest. She always used to laugh that she sensed even when she got to the pearly gates, Saint Peter would be there with a hoover for her to use. As a harrassed housewife and mother, I can now empathise with that one.
I came downstairs yesterday and my little girl had found some pictures that Mum drew for the children when she knew she was dying. There are two of flowers, brighly coloured in pinks and oranges. There is also one of a stripey and slightly cunning looking cat. One for each of my children. Then we found my Mum's last birthday card for my daughter - she had done a drawing of my daughter with spots as she had chicken pox at the time and we could not visit as planned till the week after to avoid Mum getting an infection. By the time we did go, Mum was irritable and said that would be the last day she would see the children, preferring them to remember her in the fun times.
What am I saying? What is the point of this post? I suppose it is just a reflection on how grief changes over time and you learn to fight back the tears and have a positive day anyway. Which is exactly what Mum would have wanted saying, "Now, don't you be getting upset".

Friday, 9 July 2010

Several wonderful things about my husband

1. He made me feel good when my heart was broken and my emotions were shattered
2. He cooks a really good meal
3. He can create a party when it is just me and him in a room
4. He was willing to change nappies, put up pushchairs and do night feeds (latter with a kick!)
5. He is funny and makes me laugh ever day
6. He lives with my many and varied moods
7. He still wants me after all these years, weight gain, depression, angst and life crises
8. He works really hard, doing 110% for his clients. He works not for the money but through a genuine commitment to helping others.
9. He shares his interests and makes them interesting - grand prix, cricket, RAF
10. He always gets me where I need to be on time (both in car and life journeys)

There are lots of other reasons too but as I regularly moan at him, I thought I should acknowledge some of the good stuff. It is a shame that in the having to bring money in and juggle a young family, the "us" sometimes gets lost. But it is there and we only need a day or a night out alone together (which happens about once a year if we are lucky!) and we become the best couple in the world again.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The sadism of sports day

I am angry, very angry.

I attended my primary school children's sports day today. I took along my pre-schooler and we packed a little picnic to make it a fun day for him.

My son ran in an obstacle race. The first task was to do an egg and spoon race until the next obstacle. When the whistle blew, my son's egg blew off the spoon and he tried to retrieve it. By the time he did so, the other boys had either finished the race of were just about finishing.

Showing what I see as great strength of character, he continued the course going through the various obstacles but finishing several minutes after the person before him. He was clearly upset and went to sit a little distance away from the other children.

He remained there with nobody offering him a kind word or anything. The teachers and staff totally ignored his obvious distress. I was on the banking on the opposite side of the field and could see he was unhappy. I watched thinking that any second someone would go to comfort him but nope.

So I got up and went to him. He was sobbing, breaking his heart. I asked him if he could cope with doing any more and he said that he couldn't. I know this will bring huge judgement but at that point, I took my son to sit on the banking with me telling the teacher he was feeling unwell. If I had opened my mouth to deal with the real issue at that time, I would have exploded. I have spent years trying to keep my children healthy emotionally as well as physically. I resent the fact that the school staff do not provide emotional back up to a sensitive child.

Then I watched as my younger daughter did her races. Inevitably, she came last. It is what happens. It is in my children's genes - I was just the same and remember the torture of sports day. People don't realize that it is not just the day itself but the worrying about it for weeks in advance and the bullying from other children afterwards.

My daughter cried after every race but was supported by staff who put their arms round her and talked to her. One even did one of the races with her which helped a lot. Then they brought her to me for a cuddle before she went back into class.

My son is that bit older and male. This does not mean that he does not need support from teaching staff particularly when bullies are giving him grief for the fact that he is not great at sports.

So I brought my son home with me. Naughty, aren't I? I love him. Why should he suffer just because he cannot run fast?

If I complain to the school about the lack of humanity from teaching staff, I will doubtless be viewed as a difficult mother. Others might say I am a loving one.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Dedicated to my followers and supporters

Thank you to all my followers and it is great to see the number growing weekly. This helps me to believe that I have something to offer people on the writing front after all.
I am always very keen to have comments both positive and negative as these help me to learn so if you read what I write, please have your say. You have the power to see more of what you like on here and less of what you don't.
I have every intention of pursuing my writing professionally but having taken advice from a published author,I am enjoying this pretend time before I make it all happen. Will commence that journey once my 4 year old goes to school in September.
Writing around children is not an easy task as they like the laptop too and Club Penguin is apparently far more essential to society than my little blog.
If I make you laugh, cry, aspire and learn, this is fantastic. If I make you feel less isolated in your thinking and feeling, that is even better. We live in a mad world where via Facebook and so on, we appear to be so connected but are often not sharing fully at all.
What I write on here (apart from the short stories) comes direct from the heart. I don't censor myself. That is my way so sometimes what I write may prove difficult to read. And I don't write in a convoluted or impressive way. I just say what I think and feel in simple language. This sometimes makes me feel very intimidated by the quality of other writers' work and is another reason why followers and their comments keep me going.
If you are a new visitor, please have a look at my older blogs from April onwards last year. This blog was inspired by my mum who was convinced I would not be fully happy until I started to take my writing seriously. So here's to her and you can find out about her many qualities and flaws in my earlier postings.
Finally, if you would like me to comment on your blog or to follow it, please let me know. If you have not tried blogging, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Waiting for the flags to go out

He waits.

He is dressed casually after a night with friends at his local. The talk largely focussed on the forthcoming World Cup and the chances of the England Team. The group planned to meet for all the England games whatever girlfriends thought. After all, it only happened once every 4 years.
They had raised a glass or two to England chances. He complained that his mum wouldn't let him put the huge England flag he'd bought out on the house and those who had their own flats had ribbed him about still living at home. Laughing back and telling them to "Piss off!" he makes his way home over the bridge across the bypass.

He is not cold. It's June after all. Even in the early hours and it must be around 1 o'clock now, the air feels balmy. It won't hurt for him to sit here a bit longer leaning against the bars on the bridge.

He thinks how much he is looking forward to seeing his 3 year old little girl, Louise, tomorrow. She is the apple of his eye, the best woman he has ever known. Pretty, funny and clever too. He had once thought he loved Louise's Mummy but they were too young when they got together he reflects. Mind you, he can't complain. Sarah lets him have contact just about whenever he wants it and they get on OK, probably better than when they were a couple. He plans to take Louise strawberry picking tomorrow. He expects he will do most of the back-breaking work but they can take the strawberries back for grandma to work wonders with and Louise can have an ice-cream too.

He should be getting home really. He can't work out why really but he can't be bothered moving. His Mum will be in bed by now anyway. No rush.

So he sits on and thinks about when he wanted to be a footballer when he was little. It must be great to see all those England flags out at a match and know they are for you. It would be great if England did it this time. He gets bored still of hearing his grandad go on about 1966. It would be good to see England win in his own lifetime.

How long has he stayed here? He hears police car sirens. He does not need to worry. He has done nowt wrong. Sounds like somebody's in for it though.

The body of a young man aged 20 was discovered at 4.30am. He had multiple stab wounds. It is thought the time of death was around 12.30am.

It's the strangest thing. He can see forensic officers like you see on the telly on the bridge. They come and go. He sees his Mum come with the England flag and with Sarah helping, attach it to the bridge. They are putting the flags out after all!

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Phone Call

Jayne had to find a way to get out of the house without questions being asked. She had to present things innocently as if nothing was amiss. Fish and Chips. She could offer to go and get to the fish shop and nobody would think anything was going on. Her Dad thought it was a great idea as it would save them having to cook.
Jayne went to the telephone box by the parade of shops. She hoped nobody she knew saw her. They would make a fuss. She was rarely in her home town these days so people from church or school would want to talk to her. Did she have enough money? She was looking forward to talking to Rick. Despite being happy to see her Dad after months apart, she was missing her boyfriend.
"Hello" said Rick, "I'm glad you've phoned".
"I should hope so" Jayne laughed casually.
"No. Listen. I need to know how to get CDs into your new player."
Jayne could not explain how she knew but in that instant she did, feeling absolutely certain that Rick was cheating on her. Although she had doubts about him before, she had silenced them time and time again. Now, here was the moment when the penny dropped and clanked into her conciousness loud and clear.
"We don't have any CDs", she stammered.
"I've got somebody here and while you are on the phone, you may as well know that I am moving out this week"
Even as Jayne felt tears welling up, she could not help reflecting that he was certainly not dressing things up or trying to make her feel better.
"Who is she?"
"That does not matter"
"Who is she?" louder this time.
"It's Tracey the typist"
As black humour kicked in, Jayne heard herself saying, "She sounds like something out of Happy bloody Families!"
"That's not helpful"
Not helpful. It was not "helpful" that the love of her life was leaving her. It was not "helpful" that only the week before they had walked hand in hand, drunk cocktails and planned their wedding in minute detail. It was certainly not "helpful" that as her Dad did not approve of Rick, that she had lied and said they had split up and that she had moved to a new city alone.
Amazingly, the conversation ended with Jayne explaining to Rick how to work the CD player. It appeared Tracey the Typist had brought some CDs round and they wanted to play them. Far be it for Jayne to get in the way of their tryst.
And then Jayne went home with fish and chips twice and said, "Dad, I'm in a bit of a mess ..."

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Lonely is not good

At the weekend, I visited my Dad and brother. My brother stage-managed a situation so that he and I were alone together for a while. His eyes welled up as he told me how he longs for a personal relationship. He is a man who has dedicated himself to a career involving a lot of travel so although he has many friends spread across the world, he lacks that special someone.
My Mum died last year and he was very close to her and cared for her in the final months of her life along with my Dad. I feel Mum's loss deeply but I think it has totally devestated my brother in a different way. Even though they may often wind me up, I do have a lovely husband and 3 children to think about. They can make me laugh on the very worst days of grief and easily provide that all-important future focus.
My brother has lots to offer. He is a talented and interesting person who has travelled the globe and has many stories to tell. He knows lots about music and many other things too. He is good company most of the time apart when he is feeling vulnerable when he can be irritable and sometimes, like most of us in the family, that bit arrogant. I wrote a lonely hearts advert for him which appears below on my blog. He does not know. I don't suppose it will lead to anything but I would so like to help him fill that void in his life that he clearly feels so very deeply.
Of course, we get our lives often based on our previous actions. My brother is gay and has clearly cruised in his time. He tells me that he had his heart broken in his mid-twenties and made a decision at that point to never let it happen again. So his relationships have been cool and short-term to date. Now he finds himself older and lonely. He is terrified that when Dad passes away, he will have nobody.
This leads him to idolise the idea of a one on one relationship which for people in one, like myself, makes you laugh. He still has that concept that most of us lose in our teenage years about the romance of all time fixing all the ills in his world. I have to remind him that relationships are bloody hard work and involve lots of compromises and working out whether being together is a positive or a negative on balance.
However, it is lovely to have somebody to point things out to on days out. It is great to be able to debate politics or current affairs with somebody without coming to blows. It is wonderful to know that somebody is absolutely on your side even when your thinking is a bit skewed. And it is the best thing in the world to feel loved and confident in cuddling up.
I hope my brother finds his special somebody and I hope it works out for him.
Do you know anybody who deserves to be loved and finds themselves alone?

Lonely Hearts Advert