Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Something bugging you?

My sister called from Wales to say our Christmas presents were en-route to arrive the following morning. As I had to go out, I asked my pensioner neighbours if they would take it in for me. They said no problem, they'd be home.

Half an hour later, as I drove along enjoying the bright winter sunshine, my sister's voice from the previous night's conversation suddenly popped into my head. My tarantula collecting sister:

"Ignore the box. It has big stickers that say 'contains live insects' but I think I got them all out."


Monday, 26 November 2012

Talk to myself

In the past three days I have had out-loud conversations with the following:

1) A pen.
2) A sewing machine.
3) A cat.

I have a favourite type of pen. Let me rephrase: I cannot work unless I have a drawer full of my babies, along with yellow lined A4 pads. The pen was scratchy. I said "You're a bit rubbish today, aren't you?" Then I apologised, out-loud, for wearing it out. The sewing machine was holding hostage the needle I was trying to replace. I was so engrossed in negotiations that I didn't hear the doorbell. Fortunately, my visitor helped me fix it, though I noted he didn't talk to it, or make any concession to its demands. As for the cat, she miaowed at me as I made a cup of tea, her chocolate button eyes begging for food. "Hungry girl?" I said. My cat died in the Spring.

Could it be that as a writer I spend so much time in a world of my own creation that when I re-enter the earth's atmosphere, my imagination takes time to acclimatise? Almost certainly. However, I have another theory. Neither the pen, the sewing machine or the deceased cat do any of the following:

1) Play the opening bars of the same song eighteen times whilst working out a dance routine.
2) Scream "I hate you" to the other person you made.
3) Declare "But every single one of my friends is allowed" (only to admit later that just two are).
4) Leave a trail of Shreddies, butter and orange juice from the kitchen to the sofa every morning, without fail.
5) Talk to me at the same time, about different subjects, in a rising pitch until my brain is vibrating, then roll their eyes and flounce off when I ask them to speak slowly and in turn.

Is it any wonder I take refuge in one sided conversations with inanimate or ghostly objects? It's tough being a single parent. The other parent isn't around for a daily download and back up, to throw a different perspective on something, to share the listening. Not that I would swap my girls for anything. In fact, when they are with their dad, I miss them horribly. Fortunately, their presence is still in the house, even when they are not.

And I'll know I'm in real trouble when I start chatting to these.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The old-fashioned way

A good friend of mine in her seventies is independent, feisty and highly capable. She owns a mobile phone for emergencies and refers to her computer as 'The Box'. About a month ago, she mentioned she needed something fixed but her odd-job man was busy, so when I bumped into my odd-job bloke the following day, I asked him to call her. He did, and left a written quote. 
Yesterday, my friend rang. "My dear, it's time to get that job done. Does J have a home telephone number?" I said that I had no idea as I've always used his mobile.
"Oh. I see" she replied.
"Is there a problem?"
"No, dear, but I don't ring mobile phones. They're far too expensive."
I was about to offer to call or text him for her, but she beat me to a solution.
"Don't worry dear. I have his address on the quote. I'll write to him."

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Feeling it

The waterproof mascara worked overtime in July. The Olympic torch came to town and though I feel indifferent to the Olympics, the event was surprisingly emotional. Plus, I could indulge the flag flapping obsession I’ve had since the Royal Wedding. With Union Jack in  hand, I was immersed (literally, as it happens - it piddled down) in the atmosphere on the seafront. DD2 was in a 2,000 strong choir singing a hauntingly beautiful Anthem, and like thousands of others, I was poised to capture the moment the torch passed: on tiptoes, phone angled in the air. As the excitement built it dawned on me I would have approximately one second to capture a running flame and was more likely to photograph the back of someone’s hood. I put the phone in my pocket and trusted my memory. Then last week, DD2 had her leaver's assembly. Again, the temptation was to capture the whole thing, but other than a couple of pics at the beginning, I watched them sing, dance, body pop, take the mickey out of the teachers and talk about how much they will miss the school. The camera could never had done it justice: many of us were in pieces. None of which I recorded anywhere other than in my head.

(Above: Flag waving loon with a brolly.)
This 'feeling it' extended to my next novel. Some time ago, I'd come up with a story and several strong characters. My inciting incident and major plot points were all in place and I sounded it out to a couple of friends who sweetly declared it 'fab'. But I was reluctant to start writing. I played with it for a couple of weeks but something wasn't working. I tried to turn it into something I wanted to write, but after one sleepless night I realised the problem: I wasn't feeling it. So I archived it, confused and fearful that maybe I didn't have it in me after all to write a second book.  Then one evening last week as I peeled carrots (the glamour… the excitement…) the seed of a story jumped into my head. I rushed to the keyboard, and my fingers couldn't keep up with my thoughts. Dinner was late but I have the outline of a story I do want to tell. One I want to spend every waking hour with. I have the house to myself next week and I plan pyjama-clad, wild-haired, phone-ignoring writing until I get the full shape of my new love. And I'm more than excited at that prospect.

For now, the sun is out, the sky is uninterrupted blue and I'm going to go and dip my toes in the paddling pool. Because I’m feeling something else this week for the first time in ages: Too bloody hot.

 PS. The torch took a lunch break and came past again an hour later when most of the people had dispersed. It would have been rude not to take a couple of photos then.  :-)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

On the wrong track

There's a fine line between leaving your comfort zone occasionally and knowing what your limitations are. I know I hate computer games. Can't stand the things. I'm rubbish at them and don't understand the appeal. Besides, I have an 'all or nothing' streak that I have to monitor very carefully. We have a Wii which I only use with a microphone to sing - badly - at every given opportunity (see what I mean?). Last night, my kids begged me to try something they called a 'three-way Mario cart race'. I reluctantly peeled my nose out of the book I'd been trying to read whilst they jiggled up and down on the sofa next to me. A steering wheel was thrust into my hand by the youngest one. I looked blankly back at her.

"So, mummy, you press A to pick your person, then choose your car, auto or manual - pick auto, it's easier, but I don't know why - and then choose a track. Ok, right now press 2 to start the race. Ready?" Her voice rose with excitement. I'm still looking for the 'A'. "Mummy, where are you? Oh, god, you've not even started yet." Rolled eyeballs and conspiratorial 'blesses' between the two sisters.

For the next half an hour I suffered the following humiliations: DD1 issuing instructions not to turn the wheel so much "Subtle, mum. Subtle. Like real driving", DD2 grinning at her sister and mouthing "Painful" as I tried to do the computer equivalent of patting my head whilst circling my stomach to make the cart thing go, power boost and stay on the road instead managing to headbutt every obstacle, cries of "Mum, you're going the wrong way. Turn it, turn it!", and being spoken about as though I wasn't in the room: "Let's get her on the Rainbow track, that'll be hilarious. She'll fall off the edge on the first straight." I came 12th (in every race) despite the fact we switched to the 'easiest' track. Except for one glorious moment, when I got into 8th place. Until I noticed they were watching me, having paused to give me a chance to catch up. The minute they started again I was as much use as the England squad in the Euro quarter finals (actually I have no idea how well they played, I was watching a George Clooney movie on BBC 2).

The best bit about coming out of my comfort zone was seeing the DDs bond over how rubbish I was, whilst still being sweet and tolerant with their uncoordinated mum. And getting the karaoke out after and showing them how it's really done.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Embarrassment rocks

This week I was informed I'm a 'total embarrassment'. Which is a relief because I'd hate to be considered incomplete in any way.  DD2 was on her first solo school trip - a week in France with radio silence (gulp) - I needed to keep busy, plus DD1 and I never usually get mother/teenager time. On top of that I had a lousy week battling bureaucracy and needed cheering up, so we went to the cinema to see 'Rock of Ages'.

I didn't have much idea what it was about but: OMG as she would say, was it right up my avenue, or wot?! A movie about 80's rock music, with soundtrack including loads of my favourite rock songs, including one from Bon Jovi. In hindsight, the poor teenager didn't stand a chance. It was an early showing and fairly empty and other people were singing too. She gave up after about the 18th time of hissing "Mum, stop singing".  Last to leave the auditorium - with not another soul in sight - I air punched and hair swang up the aisle to 'Paradise City', while DD1 slid along the wall squealing 'stop it', looking like she might faint. As I reached the door, I abruptly turned my final air punch into a hair smooth as the usher came in with his black plastic sack to collect the rubbish. A tiny cry escaped DD1. Still singing (quietly) walking along the high street I got: "Mum, you look like you're drunk. Please, can you just hold on until we get in the car?"

Earlier in the week, we'd gone to the supermarket to choose dinner without the restraint of our little fussy eater (currently facing snails, and amphibian legs) and I sang, apparently too loudly, 'Just the Two of Us'. Again, reprimanded. I don't set out to embarrass, but as my very existence is enough to mortify if we're spotted by anyone she knows under the age of twenty, a little singing can't make it much worse, surely? Besides, unless I'm very much mistaken, there was a grin in the grimace from the daughter. And when I said goodnight, she gave me an extra hard cuddle as she shook her head in despair.

All of which provides me with the perfect excuse to post gratuitous pics of my number one boys taken at gigs where I can air guitar and head bang amongst like minded people. Ladies, you're welcome.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A born again novel

Last year I blogged that I'd finished writing my novel. I proudly explained that it was in a state only a parent could love, but that it was here. I'd typed 'The End'. Yet, my internal voice wasn't happy. It kept niggling that it had been too easy, that blood hadn't been shed. So, in typical arse about face fashion, I started reading every book Amazon could supply on writing. And I fell at the first hurdle. Because my baby, at just 30-odd thousand words, was barely a pamphlet. What I had written was the mother of all outlines.

I started again using these bones, rejigging events, adding subplots, weaving in new and unexpected characters who came to life straight down my arms into my fingertips with no conscious involvement from me. Draft after draft was produced but unlike last time I never dared to type 'The End'. I studied more about the craft of writing (show not tell, narrative arc, beats, action and reaction scenes), and read novels by published authors in the genre. I wrote while my mum was dying, during family dramas, kids' fighting, a leaking roof and the decline and eventual demise of both elderly cats. Only once did I throw things - the day I realised events in my first nine chapters were in the wrong order - but there was more than one bout of frustrated tears as I remained focused on my goal.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to announce the arrival of a proper, grown up novel. It's a respectable 94 thousand words with, I hope, humour, tension and soul. And it was properly hard: No voices telling me I got away lightly this time, no siree - my DNA is in this book. Next step is to find a co-parent - someone who will love it as much as me and help me send it out into the world in Sunday best. In the meantime, as I don't want it to be an only child, the younger brother or sister is already in production. The second one has to be easier, surely? Doesn't it...?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The wrong sex

I'm not very good at being a girl. I mentioned before that the DDs are bridesmaids for their godfather's daughter and I needed 'an outfit'. Just the words sent a shudder up my spine and not in a good way. Firstly, I hate shopping. Secondly, I only like spending money on books and stationery. Thirdly, I don't do heels. Fourthly, I live in jeans. But I adore the gorgeous girl (and boy) who are getting married so an expedition was required.

I'd left it until quite close to the date to allow me to drop the four dress sizes I vowed eighteen months ago. With a month til the wedding and no movement on the scales, I realised it was safe to shop. I planned it with military precision, setting out early and farming the kids out after school, declaring I'd not be home until I found something. I liked the first thing I tried - a knee length fifties style creation with giant poppies - then spent the rest of the day trying to find a coral fascinator that didn't cost more than the dress. A compromise was reached and I let myself off the hook. Then the trouble started. I began panicking about the whole fake tan V tights thing etc. My legs are not my best assets (ahem, they were covered up, unusually) and on the rare occasion I wear a dress, it's ankle length. Plus I had the Princess Di-lemma - in sunlight it became transparent. I even bought a slip, for god's sake. (I muttered as I paid.) But it still wasn't right.

After fretting for weeks, I gritted my teeth and ventured out again this morning. I returned, bewildered, with 8 carrier bags containing the following:

2 dresses (maxi)
5 shrugs (assorted colours)
3 pairs of wedged heels
2 fascinators
3 handbags
1 Garfield t-shirt

And like a sartorial pick and mix, one of each (except Garfield) made an outfit that sort of worked: a navy floral-print maxi dress, with all turquoise 'stuff'. The other items and the original dress will be returned hastily before they hit my bank account. Then I just have to decide on nail colour and jewellery. Oh, and break my shoes in. I have no idea how other women do this stuff every day - seriously, the bride's outfit wasn't this stressful and everyone will be looking at her.

I definitely should have been a boy. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Uneventful is good

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last blogged. This is a good thing. It means life has just been pottering along in a fairly even manner - something which I badly needed after all that other stuff.

Last weekend DD1 did her practise Duke of Edinburgh expedition. This involved camping out and walking 20 miles with a ruck sack the size of her sister on her back. It was the hardest thing she'd ever done, she said. Still, she brought enough horse manure home on her boots and trousers to keep my roses blooming. While she was away I spent most of the weekend worrying, and yelling at the sky to stop raining. Turned out they had no rain all weekend - 20 miles up the road. But I appreciated her cracking out the emergency phone to text me she was safe at 4.30am. The father of a child sleeping over at mine was equally appreciative that I hit last number redial in my haste to get to the phone. 

Far more civilised was the lovely time I had at my first hen weekend for 25 years, though surrounded by a bunch of gorgeous 20-somethings I felt like a cross between a wizened old crone and Shrek. The DDs are bridesmaids so there's been much excitement and dress, shoe and hair planning. I bought my dress this week. That almost deserves a blog in itself as my last one had shoulder pads and brass buttons.


DP2 (the remaining cat) is missing DP1 and talks to us constantly - I swear she cries 'mummy'. She follows me everywhere. As I move from room to room, I am aware of an ambling presence in my peripheral vision. Or she'll sit on the book I'm reading, or my lap whilst I type. One evening last week she sat behind my feet while I cooked. As I turned from the hob with a pan of boiling pasta my full repertoire got an airing, plus a couple of new words. She gets lots of attention from us all and has a whole house to explore (other than my room), but it's never enough. I try to go to bed without her following me - no mean feat when her nose is pressed against the door - so she hides outside ready to pounce. It's like living with Cato. When I woke the other night for a bathroom visit I peered out into the darkness. She was fast asleep by the airing cupboard so I slid along the landing wall past her. Feeling pleased with myself, I sleepily did what I needed to, only to open my eyes with a start as a set of fully dilated black saucers bored into me from my feet.

I promise, if it's ok with the cat, I'll blog again soon.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Age of innocence

DD2 was fast asleep last night when I realised she hadn't put her phone on to charge and I asked DD1 to plug it in. Big sister couldn't resist having a sneaky peak at her messages and immediately reappeared looking horrified. A 'chat' had just come through from a boy in her class. It was a list of twenty 'options', with the instruction for her to choose the one she'd like him to do to her, or her to him, with the final reassurance 'choose whatever you fancy, I'll keep it between us'. I'm not going to list them here, and actually the only one I could list without using asterisks was "I want to play naked Twister with you" but suffice to say it shocked my worldly almost 14 year old.

I replied to this boy saying I'm DD2's mum and if I see any more messages like this I'll involve the school and his parents. He quickly deleted it, but not before DD1 had the presence of mind to screen grab it in case of repercussions. A quick call around showed that at least one other child received the same message but from a different boy.

I'm not naive. If DD1 had received it from one of her friends I'd have rolled my eyes (though she said she's never received anything that bad). But DD2 is only just 11 years old, for gods sake! And if we'd not seen it, that would have been the first thing she'd have been exposed to when she woke up this morning and sleepily checked her messages, as they do, to discuss such important things as who's taking their scooter to school. Instead I had to explain what happened, apologise for the invasion of privacy and warn her that the boy might say something at school. All of which she was fine with.

Thing is, I've given my kids all the advice I can about stranger danger and online safety, and their privacy settings are all on maximum, yet this boy is someone she sees every day and has done since she was four. However, it would be unfair to single him out if others are sending it around and I can only imagine what went through his little mind last night when I replied, especially as he knows me as a volunteer at a club he attends. The fact that others are sending it makes it worse. What is going on with our kids that this is seen as an acceptable form of fun at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night? When my brother was that age, the only chopper he was interested in had gears and wheels.

Much has been written about the early sexualisation of our kids and I'm not going to go into that here, but I want to believe these children don't send it it with full intention. Perhaps they think it makes them look cool. Or, it could be they've already seen enough of this stuff to be immune to it. If it is the latter, that's the greater concern for us all, frankly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The kindness of strangers

I just got a present in the post! It was completely unexpected and from someone I don't know. Actually, that's not strictly true. I feel I know her well - we've been through a lot in the past year or two as she's offered words of support and wisdom many times - but we've never met. She is one of my virtual friends. (In case you're wondering, she had my address from something I bought from her online shop last Christmas.) And this lovely Tweep decided to send me some things she knew I'd like 'just because'.

All I can say is they need to come up with some stronger words than thrilled and overwhelmed.

Want to see what I got?! I hope she won't mind if I show you. Inside layers of tissue and gingham ribbon were three beautifully wrapped presents and a card:

First thing I opened were these. They made me giggle out loud:

 The next I opened made me squeal. She made this herself and I'm learning to crochet:

 My final parcel made me catch my breath. I'd been admiring hers last week:

(It's a cushion cover.)

Then this, with lovely words inside which I'll keep just for me:

Even the paper made me smile. A pile of girly happiness:

The fact that my friend sent me gorgeous and thoughtful things she knew I'd love without warning or reason is only part of the story. The fact that she thought enough to take time out of her own stressful life to send them is the part that lifted my heart and made me realise just how much I have to be thankful for. And we've never even shared a cuppa. What a genuinely classy lady.

So, my little friend - you know who you are - I say a mammoth:


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and change my socks.

Monday, 5 March 2012

There must be a pony

"A mother had two sons: one who was always negative and afraid to try anything new, the other unfailingly optimistic and daredevil. Worried about the implications of her boys' extreme behaviour, one Christmas she carried out an experiment. For the son who would find fault with everything, she placed a bag of brand new toys under the tree. For the son who never saw bad in any situation, she gave a bag of horse manure.

On Christmas morning she heard her children rush downstairs and after a few moments joined them. The negative son sat amongst his new toys and sobbed. When his mother asked what was wrong, he replied "I'm worried that if I play with these toys, I'll break them or get hurt."

The mother turned to the second son who grinned from ear to ear as he pulled out handfuls of crap and dumped it on the floor. When his mother asked what he was doing, he laughed hard as he replied:   "With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!" "

I had my beloved 18 year old cat put to sleep at the weekend. The cat who was my baby long before the real ones came along. The cat my mum gave me for my 28th birthday. I know nothing lasts forever. I know she had a 'good innings', (I mean my cat, not my mum.) I even believe mum and my cat are together in spirit now. But after several years of receiving mainly dung whilst I try to remain positive and find the bright side of everything, I am ready for my pony now.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

It's on its way

I had a bit of a crisis on my novel this week as I decided I needed to reorder the first nine chapters. This had implications that brought my first diva moment and I'm ashamed to say I threw several books across the room in frustration (sorry lovely published - grrr - authors).
DD2 came home from school. "Mummy, why are these books on the floor?"
"They helped me think" I replied sulkily.
"Shall I pick them up?"

It's all OK now. I took pen to paper and thrashed out my narrative arc or something, and I know where I need to go. But my eyes were unusually sore from scrunching and concentrating so I gave them a rest and ventured out into the garden for first time since October. 

It's fair to say I'm not a natural gardener. My list of jobs includes: 'move that greeny white bush to between the red and dark green ones'. I have no idea what they are called, but my elderly friend bought them for my birthday last year so I want them to live. I enjoy the winter simply because it means I'm not wracked with guilt that I should be digging something up. When I do get my gardening gloves on, I'm an all or nothing kind of gal and gave myself RSI after a vigorous five hour pruning session at the end of the summer. So the final point on my list is 'Don't do all this in one day'. I hope I listen.

What thrills me every year is what my little garden manages to do despite me. Look:

 There's stuff, growing:

Tiny little things:


I'm under strict instructions from my friend not to prune yet (can you tell I like to prune?) - something about frost not being over - so I'll leave well alone for now. My goal is that by the time my garden needs me, my book will be ready to let go. Only, promise you won't quote me on that?

Friday, 17 February 2012

An eruption in Sainsbury's

I made a show of myself in Sainsbury's today. Wandering 'Household Linen' I'd just refused DD2's chirpy request for canary yellow bath towels. Unperturbed, she'd skipped off to join her sister inspecting the rows of Easter booty.

I moved on to 'Candles, Vases and Ceramic Instructions'; you know: 'BAKE', 'LOVE' etc. I briefly pondered that, lovely as they are (I have 'LOVE' in my own house), they are missing a trick. I for one would buy 'CUPPA', 'VACUUM', or 'TIDY' to place strategically around our home as subliminal instructions to the DDs. Musing further possibilities, I turned the corner and stopped dead. I was faced with a 5ft pale pink stand bursting with floral cards. I gasped: Surely, it's too soon? I quickly moved to a more 'private' aisle - not much doing in the crockery aisle today I can report - where I attempted to blend into the display as I mopped my face and tried to keep the mascara vaguely north of my chin.

My darling girls found me five minutes later, concern and shock on their faces. I couldn't speak, only point. DD1 went to investigate, came back and despite the embarrassment she must have felt hugged her weeping mum, while DD2 hugged us both.

Hours later I still feel unsettled, winded. I hoped writing this might make some sense of it, but it hasn't really. It's always there, grief. Sometimes it's closer to the surface so it leaks slowly, other times it's buried deeper and you find you are getting on with life, laughing even, until it erupts when you are least prepared.

Fortunately, my comfort is simple: My beautiful daughters. Because though for the first time in my life I won't have anyone to send a card to, what makes it all bearable is that they still do.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A single Valentine's Day

There's something quite liberating about being single on Valentine's Day.

No, the postman didn't herniate himself this morning on my behalf. But I wasn't disappointed, because I had no expectation. And before you think this will be a sour grapes post, let me tell you I love Valentine's Day. I think it breaks up the most soulless months on the calendar, particularly when the news is permanently depressing. I think it's does us good to stop for a moment of lighthearted romance.

In the UK, we lag behind the States, mainly limiting our feeling-sharing to partners, while I understand our friends across the pond really know how to spread the love, with cards to (and from) teachers, pets and mother-in-laws being common place. It's just a bit of fun and niceness. And yet the argument we hear constantly from (mainly) men, all gruff voiced and puffed chest is "I don't need one day to show how I feel" and I always wonder how often these guys send hearts and flowers to their girls the rest of the year. Then we have the over commercialised argument. Yep, it is. But you don't have to buy into it. Because it's absolutely not about the heartsy stuff - all those bug-eyed teddies, purlease - nor is it about spending a shed-load in Tiffany. Real romance should be symbolic not bank-breaking. Original. A gesture goes a long way: Fold a piece of paper in half and write something heartfelt on it. Or saucy. Whatever floats your particular vessel. And personally, I would rather have a bunch of daffs from Tesco than a bouquet of red roses (snore). I suppose that makes me a cheap date.

But what gives me a sense of fulfillment today is that I've realised I'm happier with nothing than something from the wrong person. So I bought myself some daffs, and spent a fun afternoon with one of the two people I love most in the whole world creating my own Valentine man:

Then I bit his head off for forgetting my card.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A real tonic

I felt the urge to blog today without a firm plan in mind, so let's see where this goes. Still content as my usual hermit self, no one was more surprised to find me at the cinema on Saturday night, with a tub of Chunky Monkey, watching The Artist. I found it refreshing and surprisingly watchable given the lack of dialogue, though my friend leant over and whispered half way through "I won't be buying the soundtrack." I love old movies and the lead, Jean Du-Gorgeousness, captured the essence of Gene Kelly etal so well it was eerie. I sense a new crush coming on...

I have a quote on my kitchen pin-board: "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, 'Holy shit! What a ride'!" This came to mind when an amazingly independent, fit and strong 80 year old in my extended family had a fall last Monday, banged her head, slipped into a coma and passed away on Sunday. This lady was getting off the mini-bus from her keep fit class. Utterly shocking. Yet, she squeezed every last bit out of her life and I know those close to her are drawing comfort from that.
The DDs and I were still feeling very down after recent events. Well-meaning people would say "Are you all fine now?" expecting an affirmative. I would go to say yes, but then decide I didn't have the energy to cover up, so would answer "No, still really crap, actually." Then I would add, "but I'm ok." A wise friend told me that when you are grieving, however you feel is exactly right. I love that as it takes into account we all do it differently. It didn't help that I'd not been eating properly, and as for exercise - don't make me laff. Then DD2 came down with a mystery virus, the main symptom being exhaustion, so I bought her a tonic. After two days, she announced she felt 'all zingy'. Unsure whether it was a placebo or real effect, I started taking it. (Is yucky, tastes like fruity blood.) All I can say is 'Holy vitamin shots, Batman'. My energy levels have returned to normal and I should be sponsored I have recommended it to so many people: DD1's on it and even the ex husband. So, say it with me: 'Floradix'. Blinking magic.

So DD1 and I are tackling our respective fitness levels. She wants to tone (she's 13 and perfect), while I'm trying to unleash the inner woman I seem to have eaten. Then DD1 announced she would like to be my personal trainer. Hmm.... thinks mum.... But sure enough, Monday 6am found us bounding down the stairs, hoodies up, me singing "Eye of the Tiger". DD1 gave the special withering look she reserves for me, as we set about Davina. Oh, sweet Jiminy Cricket, that woman knows how to punish. But we did it, and again this morning, though I noticed I was the one doing the coaxing today. It reminded me of 20 odd years ago when my bloke at the time was trying to get me to join his running habit (despite my plea that a rack like mine wasn't designed for pavement pounding). He forcibly unwound me from the duvet to get me onto Hampstead Heath at 5.30am with snow on the ground. There I was in hat and balaclava, and every sweatshirt he and I owned, grumbling my way around a pond as he barked encouragement from quarter of a mile away. DD1 has a lot to learn.

Finally, I saw a bargain priced Etta James's Greatest Hits online and treated myself. I love 'At Last' and put the CD on as soon as it arrived this morning. Imagine my disappointment when my favourite song didn't feature. On closer inspection of the box I discovered that Ella Fitzgerald hadn't recorded 'At Last'. Oh, well. I'm loving her too and will drop a hint to the DDs for my birthday for the one I meant to order.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Tinkerbell therapy

I started to blog about my week: DD2 home from school for three days with a virus, the replacement tap debacle, the repair to my roof and gate, the fancy light that blew the second dimmer switch, and the family drama that I can't talk about. But even I was bored.

Instead I want to share my first baby step towards my goal to stop taking life so seriously.

Taa daa.....

And this, despite declaring on Twitter last week that Hama beads are the devil's work for their ability to get into every imaginable crevice (especially between bare toes).

A friend had only popped in briefly but when DD2 got bored and disappeared to watch Tracey Beaker she and I produced our girl here:

Didn't Tinkerbell help Peter Pan reclaim his youthful spirit in Hook? Perhaps some of her magic will rub off in my direction. In the meantime, I'm off for a well-earned glass of something cold and for adults only.