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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Packing Up - a tale of a million bin liners

I am moving house. I am leaving Leeds and the fates are conspiring to take me to a new life in the country complete with my own small-holding. A house where I can live with my whole family as the property I am moving to has an annexe for my Dad.

I read an article recently that described what I am doing as the ultimate middle class dream. I an not sure if that is true or not. I don't really identify as middle-class having never quite lost the pride in claiming to be working-class that my parents held.

So a week today, me and my old man will be packing a van, people carrier or summat like that and heading to our new home, field, orchard and paddock.

So in the middle of the school holidays with my terrible trio rioting merrily around me, I am trying to pack up boxes and seem to spend my life with my head in a bin liner.

Him Indoors has spent the last three weeks like Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh screeching "We need a plan. We need to pack" whilst ironically doing very little actual packing. I, on the other hand, with my non-life, have packed a million bin liners and several boxes.

I spend my days snalysing individual items to see if they are for the new house, the charity shop or the tip. Examples include ...

A teddy bear whose head hangs on by a thread and whose stuffing is escaping through his bum. This is the first gift my eldest brother bought my youngest child. It means a lot to me but realistically, my son has never played with it and my brother won't remember it. We see my brother very rarely usually around the birth of a baby or the death of a mother. So I let it go.

A blackboard and clock both in Fifties style with the legend saying "One more job till gin and tonic time". These speak to something in my soul so I keep them.

Countless dvds and videos - I work out that you can get most of these on Sky at some point now so let them go to the charity shop.

Home-made cards from the children and romantic cards from Him Indoors. Non-negotiable, these are going wherever I am going.

Menus from Law Society dinners at college. Too many memories and too much nostalgia to consider losing yet. They may even generate a blog post very soon.

My adoption paperwork. I keep these because on bleak days they make some sort of sense of who I am. Also when one of my children appears on "Who Do You Think You Are?" on the telly, these will be a useful starting point.

Do we redefine ourselves a little each time we move house I wonder?

What do you keep, send to the charity shop, freecyle or tip?

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Results Day

This post is inspired by my friend's wonderful twins who got good results in their GCSEs today. Massive congratulations and hope you go onto lots of successes but more vitally, lots of happinesses and big ones at that!

I don't remember all that much about going for my O-Level results. I did well in all my subjects. Would have preferred to be good at sports or popular with other pupils. But the one thing I could do well was pass exams.

I had to go for a one-to-one talk with Mr Day, my form tutor. He said I had "an outside chance" of getting into Oxbridge. He told me this would require hard work and might mean that I would lose friends.

I remember feeling odd that a teacher was talking to me as if I was suddenly an adult with choices to make. I knew instantly that I would go for Cambridge and not Oxford. I think this was based on a picture I had seen in the Book of Knowledge years before. It looked pretty.

I do remember two words that Mr Day used about me that day. I did not know the meaning of either of them so he had to explain.

One was taciturn. Bet my parents, brothers, close friends and husband could argue with that one. However, unless I am fuelled by intimacy or drink, I think it still applies. I never quite have the confidence to deliver the witty remark forming in my head or to stand my ground in an argument unless my passions are roused which is usually if I see someone being put down.

The other was diffident. He asked me why I thought I always came top or second in class. I actually said (and I am sorry to any former classmates reading this) that I thought it was because everybody else in the school with a couple of exceptions were thick.

I think My Day knew me very well. I still find it very hard to "own" my achievements and feel very disconnected from my CV which even I objectively can see if fairly impressive. It's the same with parenting. My children are healthy, happy and bright. They are polite and loved by all that meet then. Do I see me in any of this? No, I just beat myself for all the ways that I am not adequate, perfect, yummy or whatever.

What would I say to that 16 year old in 1985? I would definitely tell her to go to Cambridge (if only to meet Luisa and Richard - blatant creep). I would tell her that her results, good or bad, would not define her or necessarily lead to riches and prestige. I would tell her that in really important ways, she was unlikely to change much at all.

I might also mention that she had already forgotten would reappear in her life at the age of 41 and generate a weird new fangled thing called a blog post.

Here's to all those who did well today and all those who will learn that bad results ain't the end of the world.

Friday, 20 August 2010

What type of mistress are you?

Last night over a fantastic meal courtesy of Him Indoors, we decided not to watch the drama "Mistresses" in favour of watching the Hotel Inspector. Both of us agreed we have just not got into this series finding it less gripping than the other two. I also have a deep suspicion of things with Joanna Lumley in them. I have a similar issue with Michael Caine but anyway, back to Mistresses.

Presumably the four main characters are supposed to reflect the joys and challenges of being a woman today. So I am going to have a go at reflecting on what I share with any of the characters and encourage you, dear reader, to do the same and perhaps share as a comment if you are feeling particularly brave.


Well like her I have been lied to by a fraudster very badly and burnt emotionally.
I also make a mighty fine cupcake.
I have dabbled with business but have far too soft a heart to succeed so I differ there
I have committed 100% to jobs in the past and on one occasion left my newborn son for my partner to care for leading to him feeling abandoned and probably not unlike I feel caring for 3 children whilst his career builds now.
I have also had sex at work (more than once - oooo-er!)


Well, I am a sort of lawyer having done law at university, gone to law college and used law in advice work settings.
I have certainly longed for a baby to the extent of crying every time anyone I came across had one
I have probably being guilty of letting "the one" get away although am mighty glad I did in the end
I have had sex with a colleague and got pregnant by them


Definitely had issues with my late mother as she does with hers
I have had relationships with very much older men
I have dallied (sexually and otherwise) with men who had girlfriends at the time


Not like her really
Never a good time girl (regrettably!)
I do know about supporting at least two boyfriends through thick and thin
I have not dallied sexually with women but won't knock it till I try it lol

Well, how about you?

10 questions just for fun

1. What is your proudest achievement?
2. Who is your favourite person in the world?
3. Who do you miss most?
4. Good Looks or Wealth - which would you choose?
5. If you could meet a famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
6. What is your best personality trait?
7. What is your worst personality trait?
8. If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?
9. If you could take back one thing that you have done, what would it be?
10.What is your most precious possession?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Do you confide in your close female friends?

Do you confide in your close female friends?

Well, I suppose the first thing to think about is whether you have any close female friends before you can answer the question.

I used to have real friends at school and at college. After that, I went into jobs where colleagues were a lot older than me and tended just to socialise with whoever I was lodging with at the time and their friends. Once you get into a living together scenario with a bloke, it seems that many of us let friends go neglected and then suddenly realise, the close bonds are gone and perhaps not able to be recovered.

I have probably had two close female friends since leaving university if I am being totally honest. One is a party animal so once I moved away from her home-town, we lost touch beyond postcards, Christmas cards, Facebook etc. She is so different from me (glampuss, not interested in work, ex-junkie - that's her, not me in case you were in any doubt), that our friendship was perhaps destined to be short-term.

The next person hurt me as I put so much into boosting her confidence and helping her try new things. She dropped me as soon as I moved out of the area (and the negative side of me would say stopped being useful to her).

I have tried to make friends in my new town and found making new female friends a disenchanting experience on the whole. I found myself feeling I had to apologise for being me and not being a clone of every baby-obsessed mummy in town. I found there was bitchiness with some women turning on me and using things I had confided in them against me. One woman I spoke to lots about my bereavement (at her offer) appears to have dropped me but does not tell me why. Others said when I was drummed out of a Netmums group, told me that they wanted to stay in touch with me but only managed it for a week or so. Younger than me perhaps but sharing the parenting journey if nothing else.

There are exceptions and I hope that K and C (and the Sunshine Band) might prove true friends over time and experience. They have been great so far but meet-ups are difficult to manage for a variety of reasons.

I did meet a woman who I felt a real bond with immediately. We met at soft play centres and went to the theatre. I was so excited but it seems non-attendance at her son's birthday party (when I was going through shit) has been enough to put paid to that. She does not reply to my emails.

My oldest friend from school last saw me almost two years ago. I have mentioned the idea of a weekend away together but it does not happen. She was only a few miles away recently but again no contact.

Must be a terrible person, mustn't I?

Then there is the miracle that is Louise who contacts me after 30 years apart really. She is willing to share the best and the worst of her which is how I think friends should be so I do the same. We have had one meeting so far which went well and I hope that we might be bosom friends again just like when we were little.

So when I need to confide in someone and there is nobody there, I am all to likely to get drunk and put negative postings (and often unrealistic ones too) on Facebook and Twitter. That is not a healthy way to behave but is I guess an expression of just how lonely life is without female friends.

Contact with an old college peer who wasn't even a friend of mine fills the gap a bit as it feels safe to confide with someone who isn't "real" and who seems nice enough not to want to kick you in the teeth even when you are being daft, negative or whatever.

Of course, I battle on and reach out to Mums in my new area (moving in less than 3 weeks) in the hope of new friendships. If that does not work, in view of what I am going to do next, maybe I will just have to talk to the animals .....

This is a reflective post. I am not sad. Things are actually amazingly on the up but I did want to look at why I do those negative FB posts and what it might suggest about what is missing in my life just now.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Things I wish I could change about me.

1. I am often at the mercy of my moods
2. I take things to heart and find criticism too devestating
3. I have allowed far to much weight to pile on
4. I would like to drink for fun again rather than to relieve jangled nerve endings
5. I wish I knew who to trust and how much
6. I wish I had known at 18 what I know now
7. I wish I was interesting and had charisma,the type of person you would want to talk to at a party
8. When employed, I wish I could work out the work-life balance thing
9. I wish I was a lot less tired and more healthy
10. I wish I could drive but don't want to take lessons - I just want to be able to do it. I am a bit like that with most things really
11. I wish I could be a good housekeeper

Things I have learned to live with over the years

1. The fact that I have low moods but great highs too
2. My round bottom
3. My mad curls
4. The fact that some of my friends can't or won't give me what I want/need from them
5. My total lack of interest in make-up, bras and handbags
6 The fact that things that I write off as boring can be interesting if someone explains them properly
7. The fact that Mum would never change and probably I may be destined not to either
8. The fact that some people will leave for whatever reason
9. The fact that my birth mum does not want to be in touch with me
10.The fact that not everyone thinks Absolute Eighties is heaven on earth.

So what would you change about you if you had a magic wand and what have you learned to live with?