Wednesday, August 29


If I'd been a friend of mine I'd have told me it's been coming for weeks. Babygirl going up to secondary school, kids being home for six weeks, my starting college again, meeting a lovely new bloke. All change!

All change causes tensions, all tensions must have an outlet. Be nice to yourself, I'd have counselled with care and wisdom. Take time to look after your soul, assert your needs and meet them before they assert themselves all over your arse, I'd have smiled.

But I'm not a friend of mine, I'm my own worst enemy, a nemesis rooted deep within myself that drowns out good mental health knowledge with a loudhailer that screams incessantly.

Of course you must do it all yourself, you know no-one else can be trusted for fucks sake. Just keep going, the kids will be grown up before you know it, what happens if your armour chinks eh? History repeats itself, that's what. Do you want to be like your own, weak mother? Don't you want your precious, exhausting, beautiful, challenging children to have at least one strong parent that keeps the world - the
world you chose to bring them into by the way - in order? What about all those promises you made, years ago when it was just you and them in the dead of the night? Didn't you mean it when you told the babies they were how you'd always give everything you had to ensure they knew safety, security, love? Are you giving in? Giving up? You worthless, weak woman. Did you lie to your babies?

So I squash that I'm a person that needs her own space, time to herself and instead I spend the holidays constantly surrounded by people whose needs come before mine and I don't ask why their dad isn't having them any more than the usual few hours on a sunday. At least if they're with me I'm in control. Then I force myself to take my mother's phone call, drive them over to see her because they love her, miss her and jesus I've already removed their father from a huge part of their lives and I can't keep denying them family relationships just because I find it hard to maintain boundaries.

The very atmosphere of her house suffocates me, I have to leave quickly and remain strong in my refusal to let them stay longer than an afternoon. Broken record technique, breathe deep and slow, these are my limits. She's not having them and she's not tricking me back into her life with her offers of overnight breaks, does she think I'm fucking stupid? God but staying resolute in the face of her passive aggressive victimhood is so fucking exhausting and when the tiny little warning light of burnout flickers behind my eyes I put a black cloth over it by not going to the extra martial arts events that abound at this time of year and calling that resting. Which it is, outwardly and physically.

And I'm aware that I'm under stress so I'm taking my own advice and being nice to myself. I'm always treating myself in the small hours when everyone else is finally asleep - a large drink, a sweet biscuit, maybe a packet of crisps between cigarettes. Positively bloated with fucking niceness I am.

Brava, bitch. Drinking and smoking just like your father, eating yourself obese like your mother, fine job you're doing of being a better parent. All you need do now is introduce an abusive stepfather and you'll have the hat trick!

Ah, but the abusive stepfather is in prison. I beat him.

Really? Maybe you ought to ask the little girl in your heart if she agrees? Why, if that's the case and you've been so fucking victorious, she still has nightmares? Just why does he take over your sleep no matter how much you drink to try and blank out the surreal shit that your mind conjures up each night?

I've sorted it. She beats him in the dreams now. He throws her phone in the stagnant pond and slashes everyone at the party but she runs out of the gate and up the hill to get help and the ambulance comes and saves everyone then they help her clear up all the blood and stick her skin back together when they see she's been ripped open. None of it makes sense but she beats him!

So you think she's ok now, do you? Will she still be ok when you move on, start thinking about letting a man into your life, into your children's lives, into her life?

No man can tick all my boxes, it's in defence of her that I want too much.

But what if someone does come up to scratch? What if he has things in common with with her tormentor? Things that you can't blame him for and can't be changed, things like a name? And what if he comes along just as you're most exhausted and alone? Do you give up your principles and risk being your mother's daughter, putting your children second behind your own needs? What then? WHAT THEN?!

And now I know what happens then. Something snaps and there's a punching, kicking, throwing, incandescent rage filling up the whole world with it's flailing limbs and wild animal screams and it sounds very much like a confused, scared little girl. But it's coming from me.

Saturday, August 25

First dates - a how NOT to guide

Given that Bing and I had clicked so well before meeting I had every intention of ignoring any of the standard male behaviour that would normally have me chewing my inner cheek, allowing him to be human - complete with the accompanying failings - and even upgrading my one strike and you're out rule to three - three! - strikes.

And you know what?

I'm damn lucky he isn't so fucked up and judgemental fussy because circumstances conspired to make me look like the queen of all dippy bints.

Friday daytime we're doing the usual text contact and I'm messaging like I'm all cool and nonchalant whilst in actual fact the kids are wrecking the house with a million mates as I'm locked in the bathroom trying to remember how long it's safe to keep Veet on for. As it turned out the timing wasn't a problem but my being distracted during application was. I now sport a bush more reminiscent of Hitler's moustache than landing strip. I can only thank the age fairy that Bing was in the Falklands and not WW2 - post traumatic pussy is not the look I was going for!

Later that night my cab was late arriving and, when it eventually turned up, the driver quoted a most ridiculous fare before driving round the general vicinity till I turned green then admitting he didn't know where the hotel was. He then pulled over and looked at his A-Z. Upsideshittingdown!

You know that awkward moment when you meet someone for the first time having only seen photos and talked online? That 'although we appear to have become intimate through the medium of instant message I'm fully aware that I'm really quite incredibly fussy so I'm trying not to be shallow as well but if you're ugly or sound like Ashley Peacock from Corrie I do believe I shall cry' moment? Well. One of the nice things about flinging oneself full pelt out of a car and into a mans arms from the sheer relief of not being car-sick is that it takes all those nerves clean away! The nicest thing though is that I instantly got to feel just how good this man is at catching short blondes on high strings and even higher heels then simply bear hugging them back to equilibrium. Who knew rugby had such delightful transferable skills?

On to the pub and the first two beers I choose are off. Eventually winning at 'guess which pump is pullable' we settle over our pints and I start to relax, slipping my sandals off as my eyes flow appreciatively over him, the pupils dilating so much I can feel them all the way out to the lashes fluttering ten to the dozen until my eyes are on stalks and my bare feet are thrown in the air and I'm babbling something incoherent that he manages to interpret as 'ohmyfuckinggodtheresamousewithlegsandtailandeverything!'

Gallantly hiding his be/amusement he stands guard against the marauding vermin (albeit singular) that I insist is hiding behind a pillar as I speedwalk to the ladies to calm myself with breathing exercises before we find somewhere to eat. Once there I opt for cutlery over chopsticks but still manage to spill most of my meal down my cleavage. I like to think my tits are pretty damn special without fried rice but nonetheless, my shaky hands forced me into a really bad recreation of a scene from 9 ½ Weeks. If it hadn't been for the drunk couple on the other table, her with her arm in a sling having broken it in four places (I swear they were all on him), I'd've been crowned Miss Completely Sans Class 2007 in association with Elizabeth Duke and Primark and paraded as entertainment all the way to Trisha's studio.

To finish the evening I blistered my fresh pedicure walking the whole bloody length of the high road to find a cab home. Karate hardened feet may not blister but they're simply not pretty so I'd cracked open the Champneys and gone for it, not realising I'd later be hiking through the town centre for half an hour.

Saturday morning I get a text and it didn't say he was halfway back up the M1 so he obviously doesn't scare easy, a good thing since he's coming over to my place to cook and talking the language of spices. Bugger. The nearest I get to cuisine is a jar of mixed herbs. I manage not to act like a lemon as we shop for things like, er, lemons, fresh coriander and saffron then he cooks a gorgeous dinner whilst engaging with the kids and clearing as he goes! I do love when the military save me the job of training a man and I pretty much have to sit on him to stop him washing up before we go to the pub.

The pub was busy and loud with a fairly good rock band playing. I'm looking the epitome of glamour with my Mary Jane Gekko's over blister plasters and Bing, ever thoughtful, stands me on a step so I can see the band and he can kiss me without damaging his neck. Kissing leads to us driving back to the hotel where, well, let's just say he proved he doesn't just write damn good erotica...

A blissful eternity later I collapse desperate for a breather and feel the smile slide off my face when I hear "Ah. Babe, I think it's that time...". Oh joy, Aunt Flow has shown up without notice again, only this time she's not just passing, the bitch has brought her budgie and she's stopping for the week. I lay cringing as he goes to the bathroom then I go to the bathroom and cringe a bit more as I can't work the shower. Hearing me swearing he comes in and smiles at my embarrassment and frustration before manhandling the shower to a temperature less than scalding then gently putting me in it and washing me with a tenderness I've never known. The world melted into nothing but his huge, gentle hands, warm soapy water and soft words calming me. I almost - just almost - cried.

The next day I managed to fuck up again by driving to the wrong pub for the sunday lunch I'd promised him he'd adore. We found another one but not before being accosted by someone dressed as a polar bear from a family friendly carvery. Because, you know, a grown-up couple out together must be simply gagging to eat in a place full of kids wailing in fear of the clumsy great furry thing that's meant to keep them amused.

And then he had to leave. And I really didn't like that bit. And neither did he. At all.

So he's coming back and that must mean he's incredibly brave being that I know he's not stupid cos I heard him discussing science things with No 1 Son and No 1 Son was actually impressed.

Thursday, August 23

Losing my religion

"Stay in for a while this afternoon", he says.

That's strange, I think. The parcel we ordered isn't due for another couple of days.

That I wasn't expecting these made them even more lovely...

He assures me he does have faults but so far, he just keeps getting better. I do believe I'm in danger of losing my cynicism...

Tuesday, August 21

Candy floss

has replaced my brain. It must have happened overnight last thursday cos I was like a tit in a trance the whole weekend that Mr Wishlist was here and still can't get myself together enough to type it up properly.

In short, I was a pilchard.

He (Bing) was 23 out of 26 ABC points.

He's coming back to work on the other three...

Monday, August 13

As one door closes...

Having a sister who is a counsellor means I'm often nagged encouraged to gain closure over life situations in order to move on. Personally I think I'm good at closing doors, certainly if you ask my mother or ex-husband they'll tell you I actually slam them shut, fit extra locks then erect barricades. Decision made, door closed, discussion not permitted, that's me.

During a conversation last week a female acquaintance asked me why I was still single and before I could give a flippant answer a male mate jumped in with "Cos she won't let anyone look after her, that's why. Too independent for her own good!". I laughed it off by kicking him lightly in the head but it did make me think. Ok, I do good closing of doors but do I actually open any windows?

Joining dating sites is all well and good but my profiles are invariably based around 'wallflowers need not apply' type statements. Which, ok, is true, but not exactly inviting to anyone but the most arrogant, delusional or I'm mad, me! type of blokes, all guaranteed to send me running full tilt to delete any trace of myself from the site. A profile re-think was in order but before that I had to decide what I was willing to compromise on. A quick glance back at my ABC of MAN soon reminded me that there really wasn't anything.

I didn't pull 'Fussy Bitch' out of the air, you know. It's weird because I have such ridiculously low self-esteem you'd think I'd be grateful for any attention whatsoever but I seem to have gone to the other extreme where I actively discourage it by being so demanding of ridiculously high standards. Really, what was I expecting? A tall, handsome, ex-military, rugby playing type with a love of quoting lines from comedy films, a flair for IT and a degree in astro-bloody-physics? Who can write skilfully, banter with wit and speed, isn't married, cooks, loves music and understands that I'm a mother before all else? As if men even come in that flavour!

Wouldn't ya know, just as I accepted that I'd have to try to open a window to a lesser man and learn not to be resentful of his shortcomings, one exactly like my wish list sent me a message and we haven't stopped talking since.

Maybe sis is right, maybe you do have to open up and move on before life sends you the next chapter... just don't ever tell her I said that!

Saturday, August 11

Botti up your face

Ever wanted to know what you'd look like as another race? Another gender? A Manga cartoon?

This is me, as painted by Botticelli. I always liked that fella...

Be warned though, it can be a quite emotional experience. I viewed myself masculinised and finally get what people mean when they say blimey you're yer father's daughter, you are! It's so nice to see for myself that I got more from him than an alcoholic gene and a strong independent streak.

Tuesday, August 7


I'm fiddling about with templates so just pretend you can't see this, ok? Especially if you're allergic... *cough*Cakey!*cough*

or this...
God, I'm just so artistic given the chance! Actually, it's more that my plan to create sparks between the sheets was banjaxed so I'm left creating style sheets with spark instead.

Monday, August 6

Friday, August 3

Double bluff

Spiralling conversation, wine soaked wanting writ large in small text. Rights, responsibilities, right, wrong, right, left, right, left, right... what's left?

Ultimatum, the only way to end the vicious circle. If only for temporary closure I share my plan, disclose time and place safe in the knowledge that harsh morning light will make your decision and it will be over, till next time. You know where I'll be if you want me.

Circumstances beyond my control, plan aborted, apologies sent to those involved, adaptations applied. And then...

'Where are you?'

'You came?'

'You didn't.'

'I didn't think...'

Spiralling, whirling thoughts finally forced to be still. A further ultimatum needed. I offer my whereabouts knowing that time is against your ability to accept.

'I'm on my way'

You came.

Wednesday, August 1

Oranges are not the only fruit

Neither are they the best. The best fruit is the tomato.

Let's go back to the security of basics. Tomato combined with egg is an experience so naturally right that it makes the world seem safer. The flavours of each are so enhanced by the other it's impossible to imagine any other pairing being as good.

And then you taste tomato with mature, crumbly cheddar cheese and realise that pure, natural love can indeed happen twice.

The discovery of tomato with olive oil and basil blows the mind entirely.

Tomatoes come in any size or shape you want.

Tiny little cherry ones that, especially straight off the vine, pop so satisfyingly between teeth, filling the mouth with taste and textures. Skin, flesh, juice, seed; so... intense, so much pleasure in such a tiny package.

Bog standard, taken for granted, salad toms. As seen on market stalls and margherita pizzas the world over. Successfully home grown only by those dedicated enough to constantly attend extreme feeding and watering needs. Round or plum, these stalwarts are ripe, ready, aching to be cut, chopped, pulped, diced or artistically carved into whatever you desire, restrained only by your prejudice or imagination.

Beefsteaks. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough. Huge and so very solid to the touch, they openly dare you to engage, make something of them. Bring it on, they say, but, before you do, be very aware that you'll need your sharpest knife, for nothing less will pierce my outer skin to reach the soft, juicy innard with the slightly acidic tang that you so crave. Do you have what it takes? Do you?

I feel like a tomato now...