Monday, 17 November 2014

Why shopping at Gap is anything but relaxing....

Confession: I worked at Gap for almost a year back in 1994-95. I won 'regional employee of the month' whereupon they tried to make me take a Gap voucher as my reward. Needing some Chanel foundation I refused and insisted upon a Fenwicks voucher instead. I knew my ACE steps (approach, close and end the sale) and shoplifting prevention: that folk tend to steal mainly from the fitting rooms and at the front of the store. Me, I know my GAP onions... so when I go back to the store, I expect the same kind of service with a cheery smile that I gave all those years ago. (Once, I got a woman who hadn't worn jeans for ten years, and was a size 22 plus, a fab pair of men's jeans and she tipped me a fiver in thanks).

So on Sunday I swung by Gap in Watford as my Mum had bought me a pair of jeans in Medium in Gap Belfast. Medium is UK 10-12 US 6-8 and I am UK 8-10 US 4-6. So they were too big. The store didn't have any in size small. (Although as small is 6-8 US 2-4 chances are my butt wouldn't have got into them). 

So I said, no worries, can you refund my Mum?

Gap said: Nope. As your Mum is in Northern Ireland and we can't put money on the card without the card owner there. 

I get that, so I said, can you give me a credit note and I will use it online to get the jeans I want? 

Gap said: No again.  The online company is different to the in store, so if we gave you a credit note you couldn't use it online. (Which is odd as Zara for example - if you take something back and they don't have it in the right size - refund you on a card that you CAN use online. Which seems a normal way to do things).

Ok, so can you order in my jeans and I can pick them up here? 

Gap said: No. We don't offer that service. 

So Gap - what can you offer me? 

Gap said: Well we can give you a credit note which you can use in other Gaps. 

Yes but I don't live anywhere near other Gaps, so that is useless to me... and what if all my local surrounding stores don't have the item I want in? Do I just spend my days driving from Gap to Gap in the hope of finding my jeans? 

Gap said: Yes pretty much. 

I said: Gap I would rather gauge out my eyes than shop in your store again. Instead I will now post said jeans back to my poor Mother who will have to go into Belfast again and take the jeans back. Meanwhile I'll go to Topshop who will give me superior service and I'll get a pair of jeans that will fit. 

Which I did. Moral of the story - for an unhelpful shopping experience, go to Gap. It sure aint what it was back in '95 (and your jeans wall sure aint folded like it was in my day). 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014



I am in a ferociously bad mood. I am certain it is PMT. Soon, soon this will be a thing of the past. But until then, until I start taking the contraceptive pill (whoop) and my life miraculously becomes a zen white company Xmas advert, I am going to vent at all the niggley little things that are pissing me off. Feck gratuity lists, right now I am all about the GRRRR. If you want joy, go watch the John Lewis advert. For all else, here goes:

1. The weather. Rain - no sun, no grey no cold no mild. MAKE UP YOUR MIND and just put us into the depths of grim winter - where no one smiles, there is no point in attempting to style hair and everyone pokes each other in the eye with umbrellas and spits bile about delayed trains and leaves on tracks.

2. Xmas adverts. FUCK OFF it is NOVEMBER! I don't care that Boots has glitter and John Lewis has penguins and we should all be buying Links jewellery and thick musky scents. Come back in December when I may feel more inclined. Why is everyone rushing to finish the year already? We barely have passed Halloween!!

3. People who pretend to be in my life and talk of meet ups that never happen - please don't even keep trying. We both don't care about meeting up or else we would have done it in the 2 years (or more) since we met up. All that 'we must meet!' emails is a cowardly way to try and remain in touch with people you long stopped caring about. Ending the charade is preferable. Don't you think so? Exactly.

4. I am so fed up feeling like some tragic failure every time someone genuinely wants to meet up. People, I left my job in Feb. NO INCOME. Husband supporting us both as I try to change careers. It is a slow process and leaves me with precious little income from blogging - so dinners, drinks, dancing and festivities are all glorious - and most 40+ year olds I know are on 60K plus salaries a year - so this is nothing - but for me it is impossible. I'm not avoiding you - I just can't afford to pay £40 for dinner and then drinks and taxis and all the rest. It is my choice, and whilst I'm not thrilled with it - it means more to me to be around for my kids and try to find a job solution around their schooling. I am bored of being broke. So bored of it I will never mention it again. But if I aint running to have festivities with you - don't make me feel bad - I feel bad enough as it is.

5. Teachers' pay. This one just makes me filled with rage. I talked to my son's teacher about the hours she puts in - and when you think of all the class preparation and marking and reports and all - and divide the hours teachers work with what they earn - along with nurses and service folk - it makes me fuming. Yet Wayne Rooney who is as thick as mince can buy diamonds daily - the world IS MAD. Our priorities in life are seriously screwed when the folk who are shaping the minds of our children are not worth more £££. remember your favourite teacher - the one who discovered you were great at art? Or maths? Who encouraged you like no other, who understood the peer pressure you felt or the fact you didn't fit in or whatever? Those who teach deserve awards and praise because it is a challenge and beyond a job.

6. It is interesting at times of your life, when you aren't your usual self - when you need help from others: be it support or shoulder to cry on, or someone to offer career advice, or to say 'I'll buy you a beer and cheer you up.' Because there are those who you expect to be there for you and suddenly they are not. Yet there are those who you never imagined you could turn to and they surprise you by being brilliant. These past few months have been an eye opener - I have turned to unexpected people who have been completely AMAZING (I genuinely love these folk) and then there are those who have only been interested in their own issues. It has been beyond enlightening. You live and learn, even at 41.

7. I saw Nightcrawler and whilst Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing - and ridiculously creepy - it is actually a wildly depressing film. Clever yes, and verging on smug as it pats itself on the back for making the point that TV people are just as vile as those who prey on the carcasses of car crashes and robberies and shootings for their dollar. You can imagine the smile on the director's face as he says, 'yes, but he doesn't NEED to go on a journey, or change - that, that is precisely my point.' Very clever yes. Satisfying? No. Hollow and over long and the shadow of the fabulous film it could have been? Yes. Oh and Rene Russo - why the botox - why???

8. I'm still enraged. Hopefully screaming at the twats on the Apprentice will abate this PMT. Because if there is ever anything to make you feel better about yourself it is watching these numbskulls try and out shout each other. Hilarious.

9. The price of stamps. For SNAIL MAIL!!!! That is all.

10. Birthdays. Do we really need one a year? I move for bi-annual birthdays. We'd all be younger, happier and have more cash. Result.

There - now write your own GRRRR list.  It feels better, really does.

(*Sorry. Blame my PMT)

Monday, 10 November 2014

I feel 17 again

Update: so I went to the doc and have been prescribed the pill. Apparently this will help my periods and my moods - WIN WIN. I am sure all my ex-collagues are wondering why I never did this years ago (bless poor Pete who at one stage was the lone male wolf amongst a sea of PMT'd women who's periods were all in sync.

It felt deliciously naughty to ask for the pill - and took me back to the days of the Family Planning Clinic opposite my school - where I went (after a quick uniform change) when I was 17 and a Doc with a flickering eye (as if she was giving me a knowing naughty wink) would ask me, 'do you need condoms?' At 41 I am FINALLY sorting out my hormones. Very exciting stuff. I may even have sex again. I kind of wonder what took me so long - why was I so obsessed about NOT putting hormone sin my body - when my body is clearly over-hormoned. Well, something that makes me CRAY CRAY every month is deffo going on. Husband is pleased although has yet to be convinced that demonic raging GRRRRR self followed (when bleed starts) into needy weepy clingy mess has gone. We shall see. I'm well stoked to hopefully not feel like Mrs doom every month and then be surprised when my period starts.

So thanks for all the messages ladies. I took all your advice and am stocked up. Well 3 months anyway. I am looking forward to a calmer 2015. Who I am kidding. It is the pill, not a miracle personality changer! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I wish I had the life to go with these shoes....

Shoe shopping is almost better than sex. Almost, but not quite. Why? Well let me count the ways:

1. shoes make you taller - all the better for seeing the world with

2. No matter how big your thighs or waist - shoes FIT. Yay!

3. They are simply works of art. You don't believe me? Check out the below - Sophia Webster has joined forces with J Crew (well this happened eons ago, but I just wanted to draw attention to it now) and the results are STUNNING.

4. Shoes transform an outfit, more than jewellery or handbags or all that jazz. Shoes take something a bit meh and making it A-Meh-Zing.

5. Oh god, why did I start this list? For me, the love of all things shoe began in '97 when I was asked to interview Manolo Blahnik at London Fashion Week. A quick root around his store prior to interview and I was SMITTEN. I thought my Oirish charm would encourage old Manolo to swing a pair of Mary Janes my way, but sadly he never did. I however feel hook line and sinker for a well crafted heel and immediately took a day off work to attend the press sale at Blahnik's a month later. I still have the pair of shoes that I bought, my credit card burning a hole in my hand.

So below are some beauties that I could only dream of owning, or wearing. Because they don't exactly scream 'school run through the autumn leaves muck' do they? Or the 'last dash around waitrose with two screaming kids?' Exactly. There was a time in my life (my 20s) where heels were a daily joy - for hot dates, cool parties and luke warm interviews. Now, they are objects of desire - memories of another era, bygone days. Frankly if Cinders was in any of the works of art below, she'd never have left one behind. Well you wouldn't, would you?

My favourite of all:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Halloween 2014

This year we went bigger. It was carnage. Good carnage. Well until Sproglette's bat cape caught alight and she screamed blue murder. Thank god Husband whipped it off her pronto and apart from some singed hair, she was fine. 28 adults, 14 kids and a million treaters at the door. Trick or Treating was a nightmare as your kid disappeared into a swarm of costumed kids herding towards the doors for candy, and in the dark it was hard to tell which witch was which. I think that'll be my last hoorah for a while - I was shattered after. Special thanks to the marvellous Fran who was an amazing cleaning fairy and I awoke to discover the place was spotless. The house survived - just. Think I was slightly crazy inviting so many to our not-massive Victorian semi - but hey, it felt busy. Hope you all had a spooky All Hallow's Eve. As usual, the wonderful Louis Quail came armed with camera and took some fabulous photos. Halloween got did in style. x

Photos -

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

5 Random things

Ok so my cyber buddy Dresden wrote about 5 random things and suggested I do the same. What Dres doesn't know is that all I DO is blog about random stuff from periods to Prince, so this is no real change from the norm.

My life is one long tangent according to my old workmates, my Husband and er... anyone who knows me.

No. 1 Yesterday the sun shone - it was positively hot; so much so I had to take off my jumper and just wear a vest top as I walked my son to football, with my 3 yr old in tow. Nothing strange in that, except it was the 28th of October!! As we passed people, everyone stopped to remark on what a glorious sunny day it was, people were full of smiles and Sproglette even remarked, 'You are talking to everyone today Mummy.' No change there. It did make me think that I wonder what folk in LA talk about it. I mean the weather there every day is ace, so not much to remark on. 'Oh, lovely day today, er... again.' But us Brits - that is ALL we talk about: the weather. The big freeze that is coming (never does) the heatwave due (always comes) the unexpected storms, the disappointing rainy bank holidays (a guarantee) and the lack of snow on Xmas day (also guaranteed). What on earth would we say as we passed each other, or waited in queues, if we didn't talk all things weather?

No. 2 I have yet to see a ghost. Believe me I have tried. Looked in a candlelit mirror at halloween at midnight, kept an eye open in scary houses I have stayed in (there was a night I stayed in an old rambling manor - certain I would hear a spook, but no such luck). My mate Hannah says she used to hear a ghost breathing under her bed, and I've heard a few spooky stories in my time. This Halloween, crossing my fingers as always. Do I believe in them - absolutely.

No. 3 This whole being grateful malarky is paying off. Unexpected things have happened. People have been generous and lovely. Good things have come. I am continuing on that theme - it reminds me how lucky I am. After a weekend watching 'Stand up to Cancer' and then a documentary on the tsunami in 2004, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I'm holding that thought - and the luckier I feel, the luckier I seem to get. Try it and see.

No. 4 I wish I could afford more products. I am obsessed with Origins 'never a dull moment' face scrub, their 'drink up' face mask and charcoal one. I wish for Guinot's deep moisture mask - amazing, that Estee Lauder overnight repair stuff... Also I want some GlamGlow masks. You can't beat a good mask. Lots of Ren scrubs (the salt body one is amazing) and AHA products, and rose bath oil. Some Jo Malone Roses perfume (I have No perfume at the mo at it is odd). I like Victor and Rolf's Flowerbomb too, and Givenchy's Dahila Devin. Finally I could do with some Charlotte Tilsbury Wonder glow stuff you put under foundation and her under eye highlighter thing. Oh Santa, win the lottery please. Then I'd be EVEN more grateful!

No. 5 This is my favourite season for food: soups, hearty stews, tasty roasts. Begone salads and all that crunchy stuff and give me stodge. Lots of it. To combat this need to eat more potatoes than an Irish man in a chip shop, I start every day with a Nutri Bullet shake with spinach, flaxseed, protein powder, frozen fruit berries, avocado and pumpkin seeds. It tastes AMAZING and my skin has never looked better. Get thee a Nutri Bullet - which sounds like an excellent sex toy but is actually a gift to your health. You can thank me later. x

Monday, 27 October 2014

Period pain - time to end it period?

Men folk who don't like discussing 'the blob' look away. This is not the post for you. Not that I'm gonna go into any excruciating medical details, but I need advice and I'm turning to my blog readers for it.

At the weekend I had two good friends over for a glass of vino or six, and mid epic chat, I brought up that a month before I had had a weekend where I was utterly depressed - filled the brim with unyielding PMT. One buddy wagged her finger at me and said that all through our 20s, she remembers me having severe PMT, and whilst others glided through - I didn't, which she put down to me not being on the pill. My other chum chimed in with 'every time you call me and you are down, I say to my partner, 'I'm certain she's just got/about to get her period.' As we chatted it seemed like every other fecker has noticed that I am in dire need of having my hormones sorted, except me.

I haven't been on the pill since I was 21. I was on it at 17 for 6 months, then off it, Then on it for a year, then off it for 2 and finally on it for about 6 months in 1994. Then, I dumped the pills and contraception was condoms, or in later life, the withdrawal method. I know. Don't even start that finger wagging, please. 'What do you call people who use the withdrawal method? Parents!' I know, I know.

The reason for my refusal to pop the tiny pills was because I hated the thought of shoving hormones in my body - hated the fact they made me (initially) gain weight and sent my skin haywire. My PMT at Uni was ferocious - in fact, now I come to think about it - it always has been. Several times I can hand on heart say, that it made me feel practically suicidal. Over and over I went to the Drs - they suggested: the pill, prozac, and therapy. Brilliant. I felt like no one could help - until I started having acupuncture and it really improved them. Every month I either had - unfailing relentless blues, followed by a heavy period OR rage and stomach/back cramps, followed by a tolerable period. I read everything there was on making them better: exercise, getting sleep, yoga, eating XYZ foods, not eating meat, eating red meat, avoiding alcohol, drinking alcohol, avoiding dairy blah blah blah.

The good news is, I got pregnant both times immediately. Afterwards my periods came back and were as regular as clockwork (having on occasions when I was stressed being 5 weeks apart, then 6, then once 12). Last year - probably at my height of stress, with 2 jobs, 2 kids and all - they were horrifically heavy - getting up twice a night to change tampax, embarrassing over flow situations in clothes etc. The Doc prescribed me a homeopathic set of pills that I took 3 times a day - which stemmed the blood flow. They worked - hurrah! Periods improved - but then, without the tablets, recently, it is back to the horror show again. Up to a week of my life is spent with PMT/sore chest/bloated stomach. Then the bleed itself lasts up to 6/7 days.  That is almost half a month with period hell. Half a year in some sort of period related pain.


Should I go on to the pill, after all these years of being scared that it could effect my body/fertility? After all, I don't plan on having any more kids... Don't suggest to me things like a 'coil' as I have a gynaecological phobia - remember, I don't do birth! (In fact it took me three attempts to even type that word). My Mum and Aunt have both had hysterectomies in their 40s and I am now 41. I don't want to suffer any more. Is this a no brainer? I'd love to know if any of you take the pill - I think mine was Femodine way back in the 90s.... Does it help your periods? Any other suggestions to make life more bearable? I'm fed up of one year Drs telling me to take anti- depressants to help periods and the next, telling me the pill works best - make your mind up!

At this point I'm open to anything. Yesterday I read that 80% of women have stopped their periods at 54. So in 13 years I won't need to worry about this, but I can't live this way until then... So any advice ladies, or brave gents who read this post - I'd be delighted to hear.

Love, CM xx