Saturday, 14 March 2015

How little we need

Today I had had enough. I couldn't open my daughter's wardrobe due the two enormous overflowing toy filled bags that were in front of it. I sighed. Time for the spring clean. 4 hours later, we can open said door AND my son can now see his wardrobe floor. Sproglette and I have tussled over every toy and managed to fill 2 bags to go to charidee and 2 for the bin. I have yet to tackle my son's toys - that will maybe be the summer clean.

Plus today I read of Daisy Goodwin's house burning down and how she literally had nothing bar the clothes she stood up in, and whatever she had in her handbag. I felt an odd emotion creeping over me - one of almost... envy. Now that is frankly bizarre I know. But apart from my old diaries, some old photos and the baby gros I brought my kids home in, my mothers day cards and er... a toy hippo I have had since I was 7, I don't have much sentimentality. I HATE clutter. I have few clothes, one make up bag, a drawer of products and no fancy jewellery save for my engagement ring.

It made me realise how little I value material possessions. Sure I love a good moisturiser and a lovely White Company throw, but ultimately I don't really give a flying fuck about having swanky stuff and endless ornaments and tat. I read about a guy who had just one of everything in his house: one plate one cup, one pair of jeans, one chair, etc and it sounded insane - and blissful. Goodwin commented that wearing the same clothes for 3 weeks had made life simpler - a uniform of sorts. Obviously it is hideous having to be uprooted and all the horror of dealing with insurance companies and memories of things once loved now gone - but oddly it has made her happier, and I understand why.

We clutter our lives with objects and gadgets and trinkets that we think will make us happy. For a brief spell they do. The delight when getting a new pair of shoes is a good few weeks of joy. But ultimately it is just 'stuff' that gathers on shelves and in wardrobes and often we forget we even have it.

I am regular de-junker. Sometimes I think, in not regularly buying our kids toys - unless it is special treat - have we denied them? I have walked into homes where the kids have more toys than you could shake a stick at. But my kids never want for anything - and I'm more about 'lets go to the park/eat ice cream, go swimming,' than 'lets play with a lot of plastic.' Once they have outgrown a toy I am unsentimental (bar Woody and Buzz who I love madly) about lobbing them into the charity box.

There are drawers in my house that are filled with sellotape and odd stuff from Xmas crackers and batteries and playing cards. I often de-junk these but somehow the junk creeps back. For some reason, I hate stuff, I love clean lines, empty spaces and very little on display. I feel secure when everything is tidy and in it's place. To say I have OCD wouldn't be a lie.

Husband has even less possessions. He barely buys clothes and has never really cared about having anything apart from SKY tv and an iPad. He often says that all he needs to be happy are us and a good bottle of wine, a movie trip occasionally and maybe a book or two.

It is funny the older I get, the less I need, the less I want. The fancy shoes of my 20s lie at the back of my wardrobe gathering dust - holding too many memories to throw out, but yet I will never wear them again. They are from a different life: one that involved heels and lipgloss and 7 outfits to present all the week's continuity in. But my life now is a school run; hunched over a Mac feverishly typing. If I go out for drinks, I'm as likely to be in trainers/converse to comfortably run for the last train home. Slinky dresses and pencil skirts with towering heels are just not in my world.

Is clearing them out confirming what I know - that life has moved on and will never be that again? Do I hold onto the one pair of Manolos, the beautiful Westwood skirt, because although I know they won't be worn again, I'm somehow still unable to give that girl up?

Anyway, nothing has made me happier this weekend in my de-cluttering. (Apart from my daughter telling me she loved me more than all the dolphins and fish in the world - and er... werewolves and dogs). Plus I'm off to see It Follows - a horror movie date with husband is one of my favourite things - and yes, you've guessed it - I won't be wearing heels.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Lunar Tempo

I can hardly walk, bend down or climb stairs. I am THRILLED.

I am back at the gym. Back in the hands of sweet Paul with the nice eyes who makes me hurt from every possible muscle. I think I love him. That, combined with body combat and the fact the sun is shining and my endless period has ended - has made me, to quote Pharrell - Happy.

Thank god for sunshine and for throwing one's body around in bizarre contorted shapes, because it will be the salvation of me. I have managed through alcohol, cake and a lot of bread,  oh and crisps - goddamn them - to put on 8 pounds since the start of December. Now, off they must come.

Exercise not only helps my heart and my stomach, it also helps my mind. Which is why I invested in a brand spanking new pair of trainers that will arrive later today. I think I may love them as much as my children. Stepping into them, I will feel like a new person. One who will enjoy running. One who likes a lunge. Not at a man I may add. They shout 'she exercises' and look like the kind of thing athletes or those who know how to lift a kettle bell wear. Nike lunar tempo. Almost poetic eh? In them I will become a new woman. One who likes blisters and has firm thighs.

When I get them I know it will look like a elephant putting on some ballet slippers. It is that much of a paradox. But over time, we will become one, this shoe and I. I will eventually earn the right to wear them.

For Mothers day I am asking for stretchy legging things instead of a cake and flowers. Most of all I need new headphones. (Although I did read a disturbing article today that runners with headphones are more likely to be attacked).

I have 5 weeks to lose ten pounds and become ready for summer - so that when I discard those jumpers there will be a normal human being underneath. A firmer one than there is now for sure. Day 2 of no sugar and bread and rice and pasta and spuds and all the joyous white food that exists. I'm going pretty good - even though Husband dramatically opposes every SINGLE thing my trainer has said about diet. Trainer thinks I should just be a panda (look at the size of those fuckers) and eat plants and not much else. Husband thinks that is wrong and you need meat as your protein source to build muscle. He mocks trainer - and whilst I am desperately wishing he is jealous of me giving my attentions to another man 2 hours a week, it isn't the case.

So trainer Paul says eat lentils and sweet potatoes and no meats - fish is ok - and lots of veg. Husband says fuck that - eat LOTS of meat and veg and cheese and good fats all cooked in coconut oil. I am confused, but at least not reaching for the biscuit tin. Life was simpler though when a bad day could be cured by cake and fine red wine. *Sigh*

I know that this 5 week torture will end, and I cannot go back to my cake guzzling past. I must venture into new pastures. So thank gawd I have my new trainers to take me there....


Monday, 2 March 2015

Wild

The days where the blackness descends, when my head is foggy and my heart heavy, when I don't want company or even comfort, the only thing that lifts me from my funk is hiding away in a darkened cinema.

I've been struggling a bit of late; my operation has left me with an eternal period and there is nothing quite as draining as an endless bleed. TMI? Like I care. I've felt despondent about everything - my appearance, my work, my general connection with the world. It all feels like a lot of effort, too much in fact, and I feel like I have nothing to give or contribute of any relevance.

The winter blues have grabbed me and have me in their frosty clutches. Perhaps when spring has sprung and the sun begins to shine, I too will emerge from my hibernation.

I feel like I've begun to look at things with a new perspective: really notice everything much more acutely. For example, since when did people stop listening? I mean really listening? Are meet ups with people simply to serve the purpose of letting someone hold court - pontificating on all their favourite topics: themselves and their favourite films, restaurants, their work, their exhaustingly RIGHT opinions, until you wonder why you are sitting there? Maybe just to be lectured at. If you vanished would they notice or even care? Since when did people think that their opinion was the only one that mattered and lose all graciousness when it comes to being interested in others?

God, I know I can talk for Britain, and heck, I love a movie debate more than anyone - but I hope with all my heart that I also ask questions; that I also am interested in others, curious even, in their lives, their hopes, their worries. That I am not just fixated on myself and showing off whatever knowledge I have acquired from someone else's writing and merely regurgitate it in some insecure way in the hope of impressing folk...

Lately I've begin to sit back and observe more. It is unlike me and yet it is a lesson I should have learnt a long time ago: you learn so much more from listening rather than talking. I see the incredible social awkwardness that exists in almost every sphere of human interaction. No wonder parties are awash with alcohol - what we would say to the person at a leaving do that we haven't seen in a year, if we haven't had 3 gins?

Anyway, yesterday I went to see the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. It was breath taking. Incredibly moving and exceptionally well written. A journey of 1000 miles through desert and snow does not riveting viewing make - so kudos to Nick Hornby and the director Jean-Marc Vallee for creating such a captivating film. Witherspoon has never been better as the broken girl, walking herself back to the 'woman my Mother thought I was.' My friend Ayesha had read the book and long ago recommended it to me - I now wish I had read it. Without giving away any spoilers, Sheryl mentions her mother saying that every day there is a sunrise and a sunset and you can ignore it, or choose to see the beauty in it.

I'm trying to see the beauty. I know, shortly, I will.


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things I am digging - Fashion me Now etc.

February is meant to be mercifully short but boy has it d-r-a-g-g-e-d. I am more excited about March and spring than all the lambs in Christendom.

For one, I will be getting my arse to the gym, where a guy called Paul who looks as sweet as pie but who takes no prisoners, will be whipping me into shape. God it is gonna kill. I'm mentally psyching myself for the journey ahead - 6 weeks of abstinence and lunges - by eating as much cheesecake as I can get down my gullet. I am ready. By the time I turn 42 (WTF!!!) I will be a different person. Or at least will have discovered my biceps.

So what has been floating my boat as winter has worn on? What has got me through this dark miserable days when that shite Emperor's new clothes film Birdman stole Linklater's Oscar triumph from under his nose?

No. 1 House of Cards (season 3) is back. Yesterday it hit Netflix and tonight Husband and I will hunker down and try and limit ourselves to 'just the 3 eps.' But as 1am hits and we fight over who will get up the kids it may go on...and on... and on....

No. 2 I've found this great website for all things stylish. Called Fashion Me Now, it is the blog of stylist and writer Lucy Williams. She looks like a model, writes like a journo and has impeccable taste. Her boyf is a photographer and his shots are simply sublime. You just have to remind yourself that just because clothes look good on tall slim gorgeous bronzed Luce, doesn't mean they are gonna look the same on you. Her life looks enviable, but not so much that she comes over all Paltrow. You can relate to her, appreciate her fashion know how and ooh and ahhhh over her pix. You can thank me later.

No. 3 Nespresso delivered. HOO-RAH. Waking up to coffee is a JOY. But why on earth do they not bring back the Hazelnut flavour goddammit!!!

No. 4 Divine chocolate. OMG. The milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt is SEX IN A BAR. Plus Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by Cocoa farmers. Fairtrade ensures that farmers receive a better deal for the cocoa and additional income to invest in their community - plus company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine's profits. Sold in Oxfam and Waitrose, you can buy knowing you are being ethical aware and getting the best choc around. A double win.

No. 5 Busaba Eathai, my favourite restaurant on earth for week night eats, has started a kid's menu. So all the yummy food that I have been scoffing since 2000 is now available in smaller portions for your rugrats to munch on. My kids loved it - the guava collins drink went down a storm along with the lemongrass chicken. It is without a doubt the thing I most miss about living in London. Plus, we had an epic game of thumb wars. Ace.







Thursday, 19 February 2015

Whiplash is simply wonderful



In my time, I've cycled through rain to get to a 9am screening; driven over an hour and a half to catch a flick at some obscure cinema, or cancelled plans to head to the movies alone. And it's all worth it, when the film is brilliant. This of course is a sadly rare occasion.

But last night, driving for an hour to get there and (due to an insane amount of roadworks) an hour and a half on the way back, paying £24 for tickets and £8 parking - I was still smiling. Why? Because I saw Whiplash. What a glorious, subtle, thrilling little gem of a movie it is. And I fucking HATE jazz.

'It's about a boy and a teacher..' someone said. Ok, so far, so Miyagi. Seen it all before. But this time is it Miyagi or the drill Sargent from Officer and a Gentleman? That was the burning question... With incredible performances from JK Simmons and Miles Teller (previously amazing in Rabbit Hole) and a director who makes jazz as thrilling as Fincher made coding (in The Social Network) and a script so perfectly tight that every single line is crucial, it is story telling at it's finest.

After Birdman I'd have been happy never to hear a cymbal crash EVER again, but here, I was mesmerised - someone willing to bleed for his art, quite literally. So many gorgeous themes were touched upon but not rammed home: was Andrew the little drummer boy, looking for acknowledgement from a teacher simply because he didn't get it at home? Or was it that his Dad - too busy adding chocs to the popcorn at the movies - just failed notice what really drives his son? If he didn't even realise his kid had to eat around the candy, then what else doesn't he see?

We all know that in every good climax there is a battle of sorts - but I have never seen one take place over a drum kit. To say it is beyond tense is an understatement. I won't add in any spoilers because it is simply too ace to ruin a second of your viewing pleasure. Go see. By the end of it, you may even be a jazz convert... 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Job done

Phew!! Operation - done. Glad that's all over. The worst part always is having a cannula put in - and then having to sleep with this thing in your hand for the night. It took me back to the C section days - except this time I could just focus on recovery and not have to think about the small being I'd just created.

The staff at The Spire Hospital in Harpenden couldn't have been more fabulous. In fact, I almost enjoyed my night away in my own little room, getting peace from the family - if it hadn't been for you know, the surgery bit. Also, getting to do nothing for a few days - is bizarre. I find it a virtual impossibility to relax at the best of times - so being made to laze around feels very weird indeed.

The thing that made me most grateful was the kindness of others: several lovely Mums from my daughter's class texted, emailed and cornered my husband to check how I was and if there was anything they could do to help. Friends and family rang and cared - although the male members of my family stipulated 'I want to know absolutely NO details of your surgery - other than, are you ok?'

I think the weirdest part of it all, is the discovery that things can be going on inside your body and you have no idea; you attribute your symptoms to stress, or whatever things you can grasp, to explain them away. It made me feel oddly more vulnerable - but more than ever, glad I had myself checked out as soon as I realised something does not compute. If in doubt - get it checked. The worst part of all of this was the not knowing what was wrong - the mind is a dangerous place, especially when you google symptoms...

The cold spell has passed. My fears have all but subsided, and now I can look forward to the magic of spring. Being healthy is something I have often taken for granted. This small insignificant blip made me appreciate my body - cellulite and all - for all it can do. So with that in mind, this will be the spring that I shall whip it into a new shape. Not thin. #fitnotthin will be my mantra. Well, I've gotta balance out my cake love somehow, eh?




Thursday, 12 February 2015

7 Things

So the whole 7 things you never knew about me is doing the rounds on Facebook and what-not and the bizarre thing is trying to think of 7 things I haven't shared - as I am QUEEN of the overshare and always tell everyone everything. If I come back as anything - I want to a mysterious brunette with a sultry voice and a 22 inch waist. I have kind of done this before, but why not try and tell something new?

So here goes:

1. I once broke my arm aged 8, simply walking up the stairs back into school after break time. I tripped landed on my left arm (I think) and my only fear was that Richard Milligan would see my enormous regulation navy knickers. I broke the bone in two places, bent it, chipped it and twisted it. The worst bit was when they took the cast off it was attached to my skin - which they proceeded to rip off. Plus I had spent the day of the accident covering my arm in temporary tattoos and the docs throughout the leftover blueish marks in weird pirate ship and skull formations were in fact bruising and almost put the cast back on...

2. Between the ages of 14 and 18 I taught kids to love Jesus; taking Sunday school for a load of 4/5/6 year olds with my mate T. Often I was slightly hungover and regularly we would play hide and seek and leave the kids hiding for longer than was necessary as we dissected the previous evening's events. I did this to obtain my duke of Edinburgh bronze medal thinking I needed to do it for 2 years - when in fact, you only needed to do it for 6 months.

3. In the summer of '99 I was walking through China Town in London when I bumped into a hot stranger. We stopped, chatted and exchanged numbers. Turns out he was an actor who had just come off stage. The very next evening I arrived at a dinner party - to find him there. He pounced. Back at his flat, I noticed in his bedroom a picture of his (I thought ex) girlfriend beside an ENORMOUS black and white photo of himself in some awful pose. I spent the night but refused to have sex with him. He was a typical player. If I read any showbiz stories about Gerrard Butler, I see that he still is...

4. I still have a comfort blanket that was on my cot as a baby. My Husband calls it the 'piss rag' and refuses to touch it. Fair enough...

5. My only regret in life is not going to see U2 in the summer of 1993 with all my idiot schoolmates, who decided to hire a limo to take them from Belfast to the gig in Dublin, or was it Cork? Anyway, as they pulled in at a hotel - a whole wedding party flocked around the car convinced U2 had arrived, only to see my drunken and stoned mates all pile out needing a wee. They had a ball and I wish I had gone, but being a poor student at the time, I refused. Damn.

6. According to my husband I proposed to him 33 times before he proposed once and I accepted. The first gift he ever bought me in our relationship, was a bracelet with a small silver smooth stone hanging from it. I asked him to engrave it - hoping for some words of love. He gave it to me and winked. At the time I had proposed 3 times. The stone said, 'Lucky number 4?' Some guys just play hard to get....

7. The worst haircut of my life was aged 14 in Belfast at a cool hairdressers (the only one at the time in the provence) called ZAKKS. The guy cut my hair to an inch below my ear and then permed it. I was thinking of a Madonna look - he gave me a dirty blonde afro. I slept with conditioner on my hair for a week and immediately got the bus to town and bought a black cap which I wore all summer to hide my do. At the local ice rink 'Dundonald Ice Bowl' I bought a doughnut and the woman handed me my change saying, 'there you go SON.' Not what I needed to hear as a 14 year old girl with bad teeth and a bad perm....