5 February 2014


There are things. Things that rile me; things that disgust me; things that infuriate me. Few are worse nor cause more frustration than the things that irritate me; the myriad of suffering caused daily by other people's crass insensitivity of being alive and anywhere near the vicinity of me.

Manners or, rather, the lack of. Where have manners gone? Did they evacuate at the same time as we started to vote clowns in to political office through choice? Are we operating at levels so low that we cannot allow ourselves the simplistic courtesy of treating each other as human beings?

If I hold a door open for you, SAY THANK YOU. Ignoring me will only make me shout at "toddler in a library level" "no, thank YOU." I won't be shamed in to not really muttering at all "well! How rude!", regardless of how big or elderly you are.

Did you know it's possible to go into a shop and interact with the person that's serving you? No need to treat them like they're subservient or in some way mentally incapacitated to you; they're not.  You  can say please, thank you and All The Niceties you should be extending to everyone you speak to on a daily basis.

Children; yes, other people's children are horrible, but is it any wonder when you hear how some of them get spoken to? They're not idiots, they're just small people (albeit rather sticky handed small people, but small people nonetheless). How are they going to learn to be less irritating if they're not treated properly?

Do we really need to barge into the front of bus queues? Must I always make a production of who was actually in line before and after me?

When did it become ok to scream at teachers for our children's failures? Why are we shouting at nurses and doctors and fire service people? Why are we sitting still and letting our elected officials slowly kill our people and our country? Do any of us believe that disabled people or single parents or depressed people or ex service people or whomever we are told we should be blaming this week cause more harm than those we put in charge?

When did someone getting paid the same amount as a small country's GDP become viewed as more honourable than stacking a shelf to put food on the table?

How did we get to the point where we vilify and misrepresent information so much that we start to believe it?

What the fuck are we doing?

27 January 2014


At times, life seems so much longer than I thought it would be.

Words, remembered and learnt, trip drunkenly through my mind, snippets of a life I once lived that no longer seems either plausible or possible, and certainly not true.

Sometimes you find yourself seeking the peace of silence before you remember that you haven't experienced it  (or been with the absence of noise) for such a long time that it feels like a glorious lie invented by another to trick you into the belief that it exists. An impossible notion concocted by charlatans and fools to strip you of what sanity you felt you had retained.

You long for the time when there was quiet, seemingly so long ago that it aches your brain to recall it.   When you had it, you longed for the noise, the clamour, to stop the deafening cacophony of hush invading your ears and picking out your fears strand by strand. The horror of what that soundlessness meant; what it signified, what you thought it said about you. What you though you heard it whisper as you attempted to doze, crowding in and consuming you. How it never comforted you and only scorned you.

Now is different. You long for those periods of restless quiet, but they will never be yours again, not truly. Then you think of those who live a commotionless life, who yearn for the opportunity to wish for what they have, despising the silence that envelops them daily.  You could swap, perhaps. Could you?

10 December 2012

Sometimes I Forget

I am unpacking the last of my Christmas shopping. I see that I have bought a box of marzipan fruits for my Nan; the most sugary of the boxed goods of choice of the elderly. Rank with food colouring, bristling with sugar, they are almond paste roughly fashioned in to the shape of out of proportion fruits, the interpretation of each manufacturer as divergent as you could wish for.

I think it would be nice to go to the pub with my Great Uncle, who would rag me horrendously for this purchase whilst regaling me tales of his youth.  We would raise a glass to my Aunt, and I could tell him the terrible joke that The Boy told me, which my Great Uncle would duly make dirty and unrepeatable to anyone under the age of 21.

I forget that my Great Uncle has been dead for over 6 years, and my Nan for over half my life. I think about how their relationships with my children would have developed, and what they could learn from each other. I think about how well my son would have got along with my Grandad, and how alike my daughter is to my Great Aunt.  

From time to time, I get a whisper of the past. I remember sitting on a bus going through Chingford Mount, two years after my Grandad had died and having the sensation of him being nearby. I could smell his aftershave, could smell the slight smoke of cigarettes, and I smiled and thought of him fondly.

I may see something that would have intrigued my forebears; hear a joke that would have made them laugh; read a news item that I want to talk about with them.  Something happens that makes me miss them more, and sometimes I am devoid of feeling to their absence; I know they are not alive, but I cannot feel the earth's loss of them. It is almost as if they have never been. When this happens, and I remember, I try not to feel guilty.  I try to remember that living is the best gift we can give those who loved and cared for us in our infant hood; who nurtured us as if we were their own child. It is hard to forgive myself nonetheless for what I see as the betrayal of their memory.

What is worse, and so much more painful, is that sometimes; sometimes I forget that they have died. I can sit, shaking my head, angry at myself for nothing. Sometimes, it feels like they are right here, whilst at others...  Sometimes I forget.

For Ella, who is never forgotten.

2 December 2012

Every Time

Last week, The Boy walked into a concrete bollard, face first. He had planned to somersault over it, but his carefully thought out action was scuppered and scuppered hard.

Bug came home from school on Monday, in floods of tears.  The eponymous "Someone" in her class had told her that her was rubbish (Bug styles her own hair with 7,000 hair clips jauntily attached to every square millimetre of her scalp).

On Thursday, The Boy told me that, despite trying to keep his hands and feet to himself, he had ended up hitting children in his class out of frustration. He told me "I guess that's my last chance to have friends gone then."

When I look at my children's my instinct is to wrap them tightly in cotton wool, with a bubble wrap overlay, before securing them with brown tape. I want to keep them safe; hold them to me. I want to stop life from harming them in any way; to protect them as best I can from the world.

I look at my own life. I think how many times I have been hurt. How many times I have felt broken, how many times I thought I would never come back or recover. Every bloody painful time, I I did, though whether this stems from strength or stubbornness I can not tell you.

And I think, really and truly, that it's worth it. It's worth the pain and fraught nights and the relentless torment you inflict on yourself at 4am in the morning that drills deep in to your insecurities because you're tired and scared and lonely and can't see any way out, and you never want to sleep again or even close your eyes because you don't trust what you will imagine, whether it be true or not.

For every fear induced panic attack that sees you choking back the tears caused by your own stupidity or what you perceive to be somebody else's stupidity towards you, there have been times. Great times, times full of wonder and amazement, filled and overflowing with fabulousness. Times that you never wanted to end and, just because those times have ended, it doesn't mean that there won't be more. More good times with different people, in different places. Just because the good times you were having finished for now, it doesn't mean that the great times won't happen again.

It's putting yourself out there; risking it all, accepting that you have the choice. You could be safe, but who wants to always be safe? You'll never know unless you try.

And yes, it might all go to shit, and you may hit your face on a concrete bollard, or have some style lacking drone tell you your great inventive hairstyle is rubbish, or think you're a terrible parent because your kid has a disability that you can't control, or you may crave to be loved and held but are scared of getting let down again, or want to leave your job but you're terrified of what may happen if you do.

Will it be ok? I don't know, I'm as clueless in all this as you are, but we're not going to find out unless we try. Will it always be worth it? Will it always go well? No. Of course not, but you have to stop thinking of failure. You have to be confident that you could succeed. Will it be easy? Nope. Never will be. But you know, as do I, that every time we try, there's a chance. A chance that things could go well. Not sometimes, but every time. Every. Single. Time.

7 August 2012

The Sea

"Come on, Mummy!"  She calls to me as she paddles in the waves. "Let's go further in to the sea and pretend we are splashing in muddy puddles!"

I am immobilised; not through fear of the water, but from the certainty that I would not be able to stop walking in to it, until I could go no further and all life was but a speck on the landscape to me.

"Not today, sweetheart" I say. "Not today."

19 October 2011

Words change, but some people don't

I was fortunate enough to be brought up by my grandparents. It gave me an appreciation and understanding of ways of life other than what may be accepted by members of my peer group as "the norm". 

Nan was a very solid, sensible woman; practical, hard nosed, desperately proud, quick to temper, prone to sulks at times. She was funny, rude, informative and kind. She could destroy you with a look but was the one who would sit stroking my hair and calming me during one of my many childhood night terrors.

Grandad was a quiet man with a quick wit. He liked a drink and to socialise, performed magic tricks; an expert storyteller with an ability to convey and capture you in a chronicle like no other. He worked nights and we were often needed to be quiet during the day so he could sleep, but he ensured that he spent time with us three children, sharing something special and unique with each of us.

They were people of their time. Nan maintained she was racist but to me this seemed akin to most people's assertion that they are C of E; something that she had been brought up to believe but showed no empirical evidence of.  Grandad was fond of getting an attack of what he called "The Sillies", but worked tirelessly as a union shop steward at Ford's.

Words were words in our house.  There were no banned words, simply words that were used and words that were not used.  Surprisingly to anyone who knows me now, I was late to swearing as I did not hear it at home.

I recall coming home one day from school, having heard a word in the playground, to ask what it meant. Nan turned ashen and Grandad was summoned from his bed to speak with me.

We walked around the garden, and Grandad told me about when he came to England, aged 16, during the war. He was spat on, refused entry to places, beaten up several times and these were the lighter aspects that he could tell to a 7 year old. When Nan and he married, her family refused to accept the match. He told me about their early lives together.

In later years, Nan became increasingly immobile. She had horrendous leg ulcers for which she endured many years of painful operations, and as she refused amputation, she needed a wheelchair to get around. As times had changed so had attitudes towards the Irish, although an Irish accent then equated to an association with the IRA in much the same way as a turban indicates membership to Al Qaeda today for some members of the community.  He was addressed and she was ignored, the assumption being that she had in some way lost the ability to talk because she had lost the ability to walk.

Both experienced name calling based on an assumption of what and who they were, having been judged based on other's expectations of what they could achieve.  Perhaps they always stayed quiet and accepted it; perhaps they challenged it; certainly they did not "get over it".

Regardless of how the meaning of a word may evolve or change, the intention behind its use does not always move at the same speed.  People may change but not all people do.

After that chat in the garden with Grandad, I have never repeated the word I asked him about that day and can still only refer to it as "the 'p' word".  He told me that to use words that pick up on other's differences, either as a weapon, a percieved defence or as a casual shorthand was not what he expected from me.  I will not disappoint him in this expectation as I believe it to be true.

Fast forward to now.  I have been subjected to other's "hilarious" casual use of words that have been used against my son, and on challenging them have been told I am over reacting.  Language matures and the meaning of a word may advance, but the intention behind how it is used and received may not.  It cannot be for anyone to challenge another's reaction to a word, because they do not know their life experience behind it.

When I read or hear words that I consider to be archaic anachronisms, it surprises me rather than shocks me.  It makes me feel shame and pity; shame that the person using the word is so ignorant, and pity that they are living in a world where they think it is acceptable to demean others by casual reference to their colour, sexuality or disability before they criticise anyone who addresses them on it.

It's just not something that we should consider to be acceptable if we claim to be civilised and educated. Is it, Ricky?

23 August 2011


Life has a habit of changing and evolving whilst you merrily skip through it, utterly oblivious. 

Where once you hated olives, you have a sudden hankering for all things meze.  Your love for the lead singer of an indie band waivers when he starts comparing a well known fast food branch to people being shot, and suddenly you wonder if he really could invade Poland whilst retaining your loyalty.

Other things, like a hatred for Bono that verges on the distractingly passionate, or a love of The Muppets that would embarrass you at 37 if you actually gave a shit about these things, remain very much the same. Unchanged. Set in stone. A bit of a comfort.

As someone who constantly awaits her own inevitable upcoming failure and downfall, life is always interesting.  I await karma's punishment for everything I do, for no good deed appears to go unpunished in my world, it's merely a case of whether that punishment is metered out by me or by the universe at large.  The worst of these two options are the punishments I dole out to myself.  I cannot forgive myself for what I would regard in others as attarctive character traits, but in myself I view with abject disgust. It is the downside to being a relatively happy depressive, or the pessimistic optimist if you will.

I have been attempting to change. Not in a huge way, but in the smallest, least significant of ways, I am attempting to build up something resembling a self esteem, something ego shaped; trying to like myself, if you will.  Cripes on a bike it's a challenge, but I am trying (and yes, lawks alone knows I am so very, very trying).

It is the small things, the seemingly insignificant factors that are the things that start to both chip away at your carefully constructed protective walls whilst using those parts to start building a foundation.  The most relevant thing I have done thus far is to not repoint the walls; to allow them to crack, to crumble and to stay that way. 

It's nothing to those of you who believe in yourself, who insist that they deserve good things to happen to them and who have established their right to be in the world by spaying your ego around like a tom cat marking its territory.  For me, who mentally flagellates and physically punishes herself and herself alone for her part in all her deeds, whether good or bad, it is enormous.