Monday, 30 November 2015

Goodbye Flo you old bitch...

I want to say it was an unseasonably cold May, back in 1987, but in Ireland, summers rarely began, if ever, before June. I stood at the top of the stairs in a flimsy white tennis skirt - barely covering my derriere. My Mum's partner shouted up to me to get tracksuit bottoms on, that it was freezing and there was no way I could go to tennis practice dressed like that. Deciding I couldn't be bothered to argue, I obliged.

Never have I been more grateful - as that day, I got my period, aged 14 and one month, for the first time. For some reason I thought a period was a moment of purge - and that I would only have to wear the brick like sanitary towel for all of a day. Then, yes, only then, did my mother break it to me that it lasted longer. I was devastated. But not as much as I was 3 days later, when I was certain Flo had left the building, only for her to return with a vengeance, just as I played a competitive game of squash in the same flimsy white skirt.

From that day on, I decided on two things: 1. tampons were the only way forward and 2. Flo was my enemy. And she has been ever since. Let me count the ways? The jeans she has ruined on her tidal days; the carefully chosen delicate lace underwear destroyed upon her early arrival; the sheets she has  coloured - on holidays, at friends' houses, on a first 'sleepover' in a new relationship, on camping trips in sleeping bags (my favourite); the nights of passion she has refused to allow; the moments she has shown up - in meetings, on dates, at weddings, in job interviews - completely unexpected. The stress she has caused to find myself out of tampax and the shops all shut; the embarrassment at her over-flow (once on a tube, another time on a bus - and let's all forget the airplane drama). Nothing has ruined my life quite like Flo.

Her best buddy PMT hasn't exactly made life a walk in the park either. The sheer force of my hormones has rendered me suicidal, psychotically angry, desperately needy and wildly violent - all in the space of ten minutes. Husband says he too 'suffers' my PMT. Not a month in my life has ever gone by without breast pain, aching stomach, bloated belly, back pain and cramps. Except when I was pregnant. The only 2 times I have ever been grateful to Flo. Yes, my 2 kids have been worth every second of all that hell. But weighing it up - God is having a freakin' laugh isn't he, if this is what women have to endure just to have children one day?

But come January, me and Flo are divorcing - for good. It has been a bizarre pill to swallow - that my child bearing years are over; that my womanhood will forever be changed - but I am more than ready. Surgery is my only choice - after two operations this year I cannot keep going under only to wake and discover more surgery is needed.... I may have a tampax bonfire to celebrate. My lovely 'luxury items' that I guess at 3.50 per month for towels x 13 times a year (every four weeks people!) equals £45.50 plus tampax at £50.70 a year (lets not include all the prescriptions for transexamic acid and stain removal etc) is £92.20 a year for 28 years - is almost £2,700 I have spent in my lifetime. That is a freakin' holiday there... Anyway, whilst I am not jazzed on the thought of surgery at all - and the recovery - I think I will be a new woman - Flo-less. The PMT will stay - well I have to give my husband something to keep him on his toes, no?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Halloween is my Xmas

If only I had more time to blog... So what is moving and shaking around these parts?

No. 1 The quest for the PERFECT winter boot continues. I have tried on Uggs (SO comfy but the nicest ones are the biker boots and I have a pair of bikers already - not Ugg ones - so can't see the point in forking out for another pair). I've tried on the fluffy Ugg trainer thing which made me look like an ostrich and I have spent more hours online than I can mention hunting - but at last, sitting in the hairdresser the other day as my daughter got her blonde locks chopped, I spied these babies in an advert:

OH MY GOD COME TO MAMA. But they are a fecking fortune. I'm going to torture myself by trying them on anyway. Then if I really love them I may ask a friend going to the States to get them as they be WAY cheaper there. But will I look fabulous in them, or somewhat Yeti?

No. 2 I have only just discovered The Jinx - which I know I know, is like saying 'These Oasis lads are onto some decent music aren't they?' Anyway I have only a second to blog as I have 2 eps still to do on it and away I must.

No. 3 I'm off into hospital again next week - and I can't wait. Apart from the going under bit and having surgery and all that - I'm excited as it is a night away from the kids. Plus, after it I shall never have a period again. How goddamn exciting is that? Those 'luxury' items cost me £££ every month not to mention the fortune I spend in prescriptions for Tranexamic acid tablets. Honestly women get such a bum deal in life - teens blighted by unexpected period arrival, twenties trying not to get pregnant, 30s desperately trying to get pregnant and 40s suffering for having had children. God was most definitely a man.

No. 5 WHY OH WHY are we even talking about Xmas? I fecking HATE Xmas. Did I mention that before? All that money and greed and trying to keep everyone happy and waste of paper - I wish to god it was bi-annual. All it says to me in big letters is 'STRESS.' Oh yeah the run up is fun - all festive dos and red cups and mince pies and frantic meet ups, but the actual day itself? Anyone who enjoys it is lying. This year - thinking my family would want to see me on Xmas day, I booked to return to Northern Ireland - but it turns out folk make their own plans and I'm not included after all. Or I am... when it suits them. Slot in. Fly all the way to Ireland to slot in? Thank god some good buddies are around - their festive cheer would light up Oxford street, so all is not lost. But in general, the event brings me out in hives. All that expectation -for what? Wish we all slung money in charity boxes and went to the pub instead. Call me grinch, or bah humbug - and I accept. Halloween is my Xmas, we all know that.

No. 6 Halloween was epic this year. I think the best by far. Husband, who started drinking as he made his famous chilli at 11am, was hammered watching the rugby at 4 (a devastated Australian). Why we let him near fireworks with kids around at 8 is beyond me. He was safely tucked up in bed by 9. Meanwhile I made more lychee martinis than you could shake a stick at... My neighbours called in at 9:30 and no one was making any sense, so they promptly left. Oddly we all made sense to one another... Still, at 11:30 my Mum told me to keep the music down and I forced everyone out like Cinders at midnight. It was memorable. Well until 9pm anyway...

I am just SO pleased with my pumpkin bag, aren't I? #style #youknowyouwantone

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Rage, rage against the well, whatever you fancy.

This week has felt quite emotionally difficult - for many reasons. Oh where to begin. I know! Things I learnt this week... part 389


So when I arrived in my small market town, I heard only bad things about the local high school. Meanwhile, several years later a good friend told me she was putting her son through the 11 plus. She had struggled to get a good tutor, which would ensure a great chance at passing the exam and going to a fabulous highly academic grammar school in the next county. I immediately got on the case as my son was a year younger and sorted a fab tutor. I was all set. So I thought.

Then it came to visiting the schools. The big wig grammar was fab - just like my old school, in a 70s building. The headmistress seemed fine, not warm or exciting - but safe. The school looked great. All boxes ticked. Then I went to the local high school - set in stunning old buildings, with a beautiful vista, stone chapel and luscious grounds. The headmaster gave a speech so inspiring I nearly jumped up in pew shouting 'Captain my Captain.' He said his school was not an academic hot house, that their motto was to 'aspire and achieve,' that schools must constantly adapt in a world where our intake were barely born by the time Facebook began. I left thinking, 'have I got it wrong?' 

Then I chatted to my son's head teacher and she was brilliant. She asked, "why put your kid through all that pressure at 10?" What if he failed? I did the 11 plus - because in Northern Ireland, one has to, and I swore I would never put my kids through it. 

I realised something huge: my son is not me. He doesn't come from a broken family; he is not an only child; he does not need school in the way I desperately did. It may have been my salvation in many ways - but that was pure luck - luck that I made the amazing friends I did. Luck that I still have them in my life today. 

Instead of getting caught up in all the vacuous social status, the running with the herd, the blind thinking - I listened to my gut. For some people with academic bright kids, the 11 plus is a great idea. My son is emotionally smart, a wonderful peace maker and his teacher said he would probably pass - but not fly though it. Why go through all that stress only to maybe ruin his esteem if all his mates passed and he didn't? Why make him be the kid I was - the kid he isn't? It was hard for me, to let go of all the dreams I had had in my head. But I thought of what school would be best for him - what school really excited me - and how lucky I am that I live in a lovely town where the local one is so impressive. I emailed the tutor. I'm out of it. My son is happy and therefore so am I. 


I got the train back from story conference last night - and met 3 brilliant women (and 2 of their kids). One was a student from London, studying in Glasgow. We envied her youth, until she reminded us that she may never get on the property ladder. And has debts of 40K, before even doing a masters.
She was articulate and lovely and a feminist. She worried about ever having kids and juggling it with a career.

Which is where we took up the gauntlet. All 3 of us worried about work and kids and the eternal juggling. I can honestly say that it hasn't been until this year that I FINALLY think I have got to a place where I have work/life/kid balance. Yet I talk to so many women friends who tearfully admit they want to work - but how on earth do they combine it with motherhood? Just read THIS. If it doesn't make you bloody raging - then you are dead to me. I mean WHAT is the world coming to??? When did it get so hard for women to have careers? Why do we always have to choose?

What is the point of getting degrees and debts and all that jazz if we end up having to leave work or be demoted just for having kids? WHEN are employers going to wake up to the fact there is an army of talented educated women who want to work - but just want to do so with flexible hours or the understanding they have families that sometimes they need to get to. What future is my daughter looking at? One where she has to graduate, pay off her debt, buy a house, meet someone and have kids in 15 years? That is A LOT of pressure to put on women don't you think?


Try as I might I can't get an appointment with my GP - the one I want to see - about my never ending periods and raging hormones. If this is what it is going to be like until the menopause - KILL ME NOW. I'm keeping Tampax in business and not much else. Meanwhile I had my 'NHS check up' which was pointless as I refused to give blood or be weighed. The above article only highlights how ridiculous it has become for a junior doctor - those poor overworked people who do their best and are thwarted at every turn. Before our eyes it crumbles and how do we stop it? Read this and weep. 


Because it looks a feck of a lot better on their tanned, lithe bodies than it will ever look on YOU. They have 15 years on me, no kids and a life spent moisturising, detox dieting and searching for the perfect winter boot. They aren't doing a supermarket sweep of Zara with a crying kid on one arm and the other shouting they 'need a wee.' All you are doing is spending a lot of time wrapping up boxes and going to 'collect plus.'


Well I had to end on a cheery note didn't I? Thank god Halloween is next week. Lychee martinis ahoy! 

Over and out. x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Back from the dead

This morning, a grey wet miserable excuse of a one, I decided to read back over my blog and a thought struck me - I have MISSED blogging. A lot. I just didn't seem to have time to get my blog on when I was juggling other paid blogging writing and script writing and child rearing and house cleaning and all that jazz.

Plus, (those that know me in the flesh may well be surprised by this comment) I felt like I had nothing to say. There is something about being in a work environment that gets your creative juices flowing and through various chats you come up with a whole range of stuff that you simply MUST blog about. But as I am no longer in full time work, seeing fab colleagues every day and now that my kids are not quite as stressful (though they have their moments) and Husband works from home all the time (he has gone from NEVER being here which did my head in to ALWAYS being here which obviously also does my head in) there aint so much to have a beef with...

I don't find a wealth of material to comment on, with the school run being my main social outing in the day. I haven't been to the cinema for an ages because there is feck all on I want to see - save the Krays film with Tom Hardy (that man can act, if you don't believe me watch Locke, where he holds an entire film driving in a car - no mean feat). I can't even remember the last film I saw - oh hold on - it was Trainwreck, which was so woeful I walked out. I love Amy Schumer (who doesn't?) but dear god this was bad - particularly the scenes when she wasn't on screen - with some bumbling sports star who's name escapes me. I've seen plates of lard with more personality. I'm amping for pre-Oscar season to finally get exited about something film wise - as the new stars wars? Meh.

I've gone from a summer that was nothing short of frantic to an autumn that is oddly quiet. Perhaps I'm just treading water until Halloween, my favourite holiday as you know. This year it'll be filled with fresh troops as I usher in a new set of folk I've met through my daughter, to celebrate with lychee martinis and more decorations than Harrods at Xmas.

One thing you should catch (if you be in London town) is a great exhibition called, Before They Were Fallen that two of my mates put together. It combines portraits and stories of those who lost loved ones in Afghanistan. I went along to the opening on Wednesday and to say it was moving was an understatement.

Often things haunt us - we see something on the news, read a story in a paper, and we just can't seem to shake it. The story that won't leave me is this one, from Humans of New York. It's the tale (in 3 pictures) of a guy called Shane, who was left at a children's home when he was 4. He remembers trying to persuade his Dad not to leave him yelling, 'I'll be good. I'll be good.' In an attempt to stop his Dad leaving he rips at his shirt, so his Dad ends up driving away shirt-less. The imagery of such pain just guts me. Every night I kiss my 4 year old daughter as she snuggles down to sleep and I can't ever imagine leaving her, or bear the thought of her being left. His tale has no happy ending, so if you read it and like me, want to help, his Go Fund me page is here.

So how have you all been? Anyone still reading - be nice to know you're around. I'm gonna try and dip in a bit more. Maybe even find something to moan about...

CM x

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

All over a frock?

September: the air cools, the knits at the back of the closet are reached for once more, the heating goes on and every single newspaper and mag bleats on about London Fashion Week with breathless abandon.

It makes me chuckle when I'm told what 'It' bag (costing enough to feed a refugee family for 5 months) I should be slinging over my shoulder; or that 'culottes are back' when in fact, why did they look good on anybody, ever? "Oh must get a culottes jumpsuit, it's so flattering and warm in winter" said no one, ever. As my photographer  mate Derek said to me in the Sep of '97 as I ran myself ragged trying to get into some inane fashion show, almost trampled by a dozen papps and heeled skeletal women wearing shades indoors, "all this fuss over a frock." Quite.

That's not to say I didn't have a ball when I went to all the shows in London and Paris Fashion Week back in my fashion reporter days. Dame Viv was always good for a cackle, Manolo the nicest man in fashion, and Amanda Wakeley a designer with manners, grace and taste.

I remember feeling high as a kite when I grabbed the first interview with Stella McCartney after her first ever collection for Chloe in Sep '97. I went with Christian Louboutin after spending the morning interviewing him; he gave me the name of Chloe's director: Patrick De La Tour on a yellow post it note and I used this tiny piece of paper to inveigle my way into the show, and somehow backstage - demanding my meeting with Patrick. A security guard the size of an ape, parted the sea of people and brought me through - my cameraman trailing behind me, my mic our umbilical cord. Patrick looked confused, as he would, so I asked the obvious, 'where is Stella?' He pointed over to where she was, exiting a room with Paul and Linda, and I dashed over. She was witty and warm for the whole two minutes I had her, before the room converged upon her and I was squeezed out.

Because you see, everyone takes FASH-ONNNN very seriously. Which is a shame, because the only folk having the last laugh are the big wig companies who are persuading hard working women to part with ££££ to buy something that is 'in' and 'hot' one minute and 'out' the next. The joke is indeed on us. No one has summed up the bizarre notion of fashion better than Dr Seuss, in his book 'The Sneetches.' Read it and see... are we all just craving to be a Star Bellied Sneetch one season and star-less the next...?

Thank the lord for folk like the late, mad, Isabella Blow, (who was hilarious to interview, always wearing a giant Philip Treacy shrimp hat - or some other creation of his - to obscure the back two rows from seeing anything on the runway) or enfant terrible Andrew Groves (ex of McQueen) who had a model wearing latex and a fake fur strut on the catwalk, then open her coat to let out a tonne of flies over the fashion mavens' heads, as she turned and swaggered off, tampon string clearly visible.

I no longer subscribe to fashion for many reasons, not least because my life as a writer doesn't require any fancy heels or pencil skirts or anything other than comfy jeans and trainers. Thank god. All that preening and grooming is such an effort. The best dressed folk are always the ones who just throw things together and don't throw themselves at the mercy of a few editors of dwindling magazines....

That isn't to say I didn't have a blast when I gadded about from show to show and after party. The most memorable being Antonio Berardi's show at Brixton Academy, with Kate Moss strutting down the catwalk wearing plaits and a glittery stetson; or in '99 at Camden Roundhouse, Mel B giving it some oomph at the Julian Macdonald show, cheered on by the rest of her Spice Ladies (minus Geri). LFW was 5 days of eating nothing, drinking anything I could lay my hands on and being asked by frightfully nice ladies like Camilla Morton (Isabella Blow's successor in my mind) if my thrift store dress was 'Versace Versus?' £2 from an All Aboard shop... It was 1997, Labour had just got in, Patsy and Liam were on the cover of Vanity Fair, La Moss opened London Fashion week in a Clements Ribeiro union jack sweater (and avoided all my interview questions, glaring instead) and Britpop ruled the world. London was swinging. It was a fun time to be inspired by all the theatrical shows, chase the attending celebs and star bother the designers themselves at various London haunts like Momos at the Met Bar (where Galliano and McQueen both were charming and agreed to later interviews, but this never materialised in the cold sober light of day).

So as autumn descends once more and fash-pack race around London town ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the latest frock, I can cheerfully say I won't miss it one bit. There is something slightly repugnant in these times to be fawning over mere material, that costs a ridiculous amount of money only to be tossed aside, when the world has much greater needs for your hard earned buck. Are your status items  - your trinkets and toys - the only things to define you? Does anyone ever need to be on a waiting list for a handbag?? I can understand that paying extra for a well cut piece of clothing that will last decades is infinitely better than buying Primark tat that has been made from abusing workers in a far off country. But still. As the dandiest fashionista of them all, Quentin Crisp once said, “Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are.” 

Amen to that. 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Summer 2015

Is finally over. And apart from major anxiety over a script and eternal fretting over juggling childcare and work, it was ACE. I got to spend some excellent quality time with my kids and hang out with those I love. So, for Matt's party and a day in Greenwich; meeting Judy Blume; climbing around Dolby forest with cousins; a York chocolate history treasure hunt with Auntie M; hanging out at the park with C and kids; having H and family to stay (the bar plan to ditch the kids with the Dad's was foiled - next time!); rounders on a sunny beach with the McC clan (#wesowon); dinner at Rathmullan House (and the best breakfast granola I have ever had the pleasure to munch on); Jaws open air cinema with my son at Regents Park (next time remember the blankets!); Nix's wedding (ahhhhhh) and catch ups with C; watching my daughter fall in love with tennis and my son bat at cricket; prosecco at Uncle N and Auntie F's (followed by riverside races); lobster straight from the tank in Portugal (I am going to hell, or coming back in the next life as a lobster); shelling prawns in Portimao; caipirinhas at sundown on Praia Luisa beach; Mark's 40th - glitterstastic; reading Katy's book on the lounger (so proud) ; the best burger of my life at Riding House Street cafe with old schoolmates and a million trillion kids; Munching the best pizza in Ireland with the McK/H brigade in the last of the summer sunshine; walking along by the sea with my Mum on a balmy evening in Ireland (yes they exist); dark and stormies with the entire family at the Jamaica Inn watching the sea roll in and out; M coming to tea (and giving sympathy) and finally, a welcome home lasagne and comfort with the fabulous R's - I thank my lucky stars.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Quick vent

Ok people, I'm just gonna get this one off my sizeable chest.

The summer hols are fucking tough enough. They are relentless and feel a LOT more than 6 weeks as we try and entertain our kids without spunking ££££ every day on activities. So when we make plans to meet, to entertain the kids in some way and it gets cancelled - I get grumpy.

Now I'm totally cool with the fact that kids get sick and can't make it. That I understand. No one wants to hang out with a kid crapping their pants every six seconds or vomming up lunch. I also understand when your car tyre is flat, or you are stuck at work or you 'mixed up' your dates or whatever... But when this happens several times I begin to wonder - do you simply not give a shit and take me for granted???

When it comes to summer hols I am over it like a dog on it's dinner. I plan the whole time with meticulous precision so my kids don't get overly bored and we get around to seeing everyone we love. It is a busy time of year and folk are often away and so filling the days isn't always easy/possible.  My daughter especially gets uber excited when I have made plans to see folk that have kids her age. She talks about it for days on end leading up to the event. So when it gets cancelled, not only do I have to find something else to do, but she gets upset. Meanwhile, I've got in lunch or dinner or whatever, and have to use up the extra food in some way before we ourselves head off on vacation.

Since when did people stop caring and become all about ME? That is fine to cancel the night before or the day of plans? Because hey, CM won't care and she'll have me round/I can have her over another time. I get that life throws spanner in the works - I make allowances all the time. But sometimes I think folk just don't really think through what affects changing plans has.

Well I'm done. Sorry/Not sorry. I'm a pretty damn loyal friend who goes out of her way for folk - and hopefully is a generous host and someone who wants to help people out. But after a while I stand back and go, am I a fecking Mug?? Why make all the effort when those around make none.

So from now on, I'm cutting out the dead wood. If you let me down don't expect me to waiting in the wings next time you need a favour. I'll be washing my hair.