Tilly is Nineteen

Dear Tilly

You are nineteen today. I thought about whether I should write you a birthday blog now that you’re an adult. It took about sixty seconds to decide that because you’re still my girl, no matter how much taller than me you are, that I should.

Parenting an adult is, I have discovered over the last twelve months, a peculiar beast, and one I have yet to tame fully. It turns out that it’s really hard, when you’ve spent almost two decades basically micro-managing someone’s life to step back, sit on your hands, close your mouth and let you get on with things.

I know I don’t always manage that successfully, so thank you for not bashing me over the head with a spade and burying me under the patio every time I check you’ve got a clean vest and a hankie.

In the last twelve months you’ve graduated from your university course, participated in an art show, built a fledgling business and got yourself a full time job. You’ve started travelling the world on your own, both for work and play and you’re about to start seriously looking for your first home. You’re navigating grown up relationships and all the heart ache and joy they bring. Everything is moving so fast,  and you’re dealing with all that life throws at you, far, far better than I ever did, or do now.

I don’t mention you much on the blog any more, because your life is most definitely your own, and it’s not for me to chronicle, but I am paying attention. I notice how brave you are, how much you push yourself, how much you worry about getting things right. I notice how hard you try to stick to your principles, to your essential Tillyness in a world that tries to squash us all into little, uniform blocks.

I know it all seems terribly overwhelming sometimes. It does for all of us. Just know that you are doing a fantastic job so far and I am so proud of you and all that your Tillyness entails.

Know also, that if it all goes wrong tomorrow, that you you will find your way, and you will learn what you need to learn and you will pick yourself up when you’re good and ready and you will succeed on your own terms, because those are always the best terms to deal with life. Know that I will continue to be proud of you, prouder even, because it’s the hard times that test our mettle most.

Know most of all, that we love you, no matter what, and that we are always here for you, whether you come home showered in glory or covered in shit.

Sometimes it’s hard, letting go of you, but it’s also glorious that you are so ready for your life.

Even though it’s hard, I know that because you are always in my heart, you’re never quite gone and that will do in between the times you come home.

Have a wonderful birthday, and then keep having wonderful days, one after the other, because that’s way more fun than having one good day in a sea of mediocre days.

I love you.

 

A soupçon of hope

I am feeling pretty hopeful right now. This is despite the fact that it is pouring with rain and my kitchen roof is leaking, it is half term, the children have eaten everything in the house, and I have been up all night with hot flushes.

It feels to me, you see, like the tide is turning. I say this, because unless you live in a cupboard you will know that the Irish people voted by a decent majority to repeal the eighth a few days ago. If you read my last post, you will know why I am so pleased.  I note that the majority of voters were women, and that the largest proportion of those were young women who were not buying into the absolute clap trap peddled by the media, and this makes me very hopeful for the future.

It’s novel to feel like this, because quite honestly I have been feeling quite mournful about pretty much everything, ever since the Brexit referendum.

Don’t get me wrong. There is still a whole pile of things to be miserable about and I’m sure I’ll get round to them later, but for now, I’m allowing myself a half term holiday of cheerfulness.

This little store of optimism has been buoyed up by other events in recent days. None of them as monumental as Ireland showing everyone how to live their best lives, but still rather splendid.

Tommy Robinson has gone to jail for being a naughty boy (and a massive, fascist bellend)

Roseanne Barr has had her T.V. show cancelled for being a naughty girl (and a massive, fascist bellend)

Through these stories I found out that Katie Hopkins, who I blocked on Twitter for sucking oxygen out of my life, got the sack from LBC last year for being a naughty girl (and a massive, fascist bellend) and even though I am late to the party, it made me really happy and I’m counting it as a win for my side.

And then Richard Madeley, he of the shoplifting, Ali G impersonating and being Judy’s husband, went and kicked Gavin Williamson’s arse on a live television interview for dodging questions. It was genius.

So, let us be of good cheer.

For a bit.

 

 

Repealing the 8th (Trigger Warning)

I’m trying very hard not to get too excited, but it looks like the Irish people have voted to Repeal the 8th, and I keep emitting little squeaks of excitement. The exit polls are looking good, and I am willing it to be true. How wonderful would it be if at least one voting experience of the last few years led to something positive?

I couldn’t be more proud of all the yes voters if I’d made them myself. The lengths that people went to to get home to vote were inspiring and incredibly moving.

I spent large parts of yesterday breaking out into little crying jags as I endlessly scrolled through Twitter, willing them on. Today I am swivel eyed with tiredness, have Tweeter’s finger and am massively dehydrated from all the crying, but hopefully it will all have been worth it.

As I was staring into my coffee cup this morning I kept trying to find the words to explain why this is so important to me, why it feels so monumental. Someone did ask me yesterday why I cared, given that I have full autonomy over my own body and what I do with it. I’ll try and explain.

I am lucky that I live in a country with laws that support my right to choose. For reasons entirely out of their control other women are not. It could have been me. It might be my children, depending on where they end up living.

It’s possible to have empathy. It’s possible to hope that were I in a less fortunate position, someone would help and support me. It’s possible to hope that no woman has to go through what women in Ireland (and other countries) have been having to go through on a daily basis.

Women in Britain only got access to abortion in 1968. That’s four years before I was born. If something had happened to my mum, or her sisters, prior to that date and they had had to think about an abortion, it would have put them in a potentially fatal position. It’s not ancient history we’re talking about here.

On a personal note, if I were Irish, the 8th Amendment could well have killed me.

I always wanted to have children, but I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve had five miscarriages, one ectopic pregnancy and three live births, all of which were messy and complicated.

Under current Irish law, my first miscarriage, during which the dead foetus did not come away and I had to have a procedure called a D&C to empty my womb, is classified as an abortion. If I hadn’t had a D&C I would undoubtedly have died of sepsis. If I had had a D&C I would have been branded a criminal and would have served a prison sentence.

Under current Irish law, the life of the foetus is sacred. My second pregnancy was misdiagnosed as a miscarriage. When I continued bleeding for several days after I was supposed to stop, I went back to the hospital in considerable pain and discomfort, and a scan showed that the baby had started to grow in my fallopian tube, not in my uterus. This is what an ectopic pregnancy is. If they do not remove the baby (and the tube), eventually the tube explodes and it can be fatal for the woman. It’s always fatal for the baby.  I got immediate emergency surgery which saved my life.  If I were in Ireland when this happened, I would not be here to write this.

After my girls were born, and I’d gone through two more miscarriages that were just awful rather than life threatening, I found myself pregnant again.  My marriage had just fallen apart, I had lost my job, I was living between houses and relying on the kindness of strangers. I was in a fledgling relationship which was under enormous pressure, and an accident meant that I fell pregnant.

I could not have that baby. I’d got two small children by this point. I knew exactly what parenting entailed. I love my children fiercely, but parenting is the toughest gig I know. My pregnancies had been largely terrible and frightening. How could I do that again when I needed to go out and get a job?  I needed to find a home. I needed to put food on the table. I’d got two small children relying on me to be present for them. I made the heart breaking decision to have an abortion.

I didn’t make it lightly. People who haven’t experienced having to make that decision often say that women choose it because it’s easy. It’s not easy. It’s never easy. It remains one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

The journey to the clinic was miserable. I sat in the doctor’s office as she fired questions at me and held in my tears. About five minutes into the appointment I felt a, by then, familiar cramping sensation. I excused myself to go to the toilet and found that I was actually miscarrying in the abortion clinic.

The journey home was equally miserable. I was heartbroken and anguished and conflicted and relieved all at the same time.

I had support from friends and family while all this was happening to me. I had the law on my side. It was still brutal. I think of all those scared, lonely women going through that and having to worry about going to prison on top of everything else, and I want to scoop them up and make everything better for them, because it could so easily have been me.

Since that time, one more miscarriage and a lovely son later I have had endless experiences of people in authority dismissing me and my body and what I can and can’t do with it.

I have spent the entirety of my gynaecologically active life defending myself from people ‘in charge’, who don’t know me or my body, telling me what to do with it. I have spent hours listening to people telling me that what I am feeling is nonsense, that what I know to be abnormal is actually ‘normal’, that I should go home and shut up and stop making a fuss. If I had done that, I would not be here now. As it is, years of my life have seen me held ransom to my biology because nobody was willing to listen to me.

Even now, it’s still happening to me. Even after a partial fucking hysterectomy I am still having to fight to be heard, to be acknowledged, to have my experience validated and investigated and my body treated with dignity.

All this happened to me. All this is still happening to me, and I live in a country that gives me legal rights over my body and what happens to it. I live in a country which doesn’t treat women like criminals for exercising their rights, but which still shames them and negates them and tries to shunt them into the sidelines.

It’s not that I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to go through that in a country like Ireland. It’s that I can imagine it all too well.

That’s why it’s so important to me. That’s why I care.

 

 

 

 

A Plague on All Your Toilets/bowls/bedsheets

After all the excitement of a giddy social life the week before last, I entered the environs of last week with the thought, ‘Thank goodness it will be a quieter week.’ I was, as any fule no, tempting fate.

In some respects it was indeed quieter. I went out once on a jolly with my friend Nicky to see David Baddiel’s show about his parents, ‘My Family,’ which was splendid and I highly recommend you see. That was on Friday. By then so many things had happened that I felt like an interesting bit of flotsam washed up on the beach rather than a lady who is keen and ready for anything.

We had a proper, old fashioned week of sickness in our house last week.

I used to be really good at that. Having three small children perpetually grubbing about at floor level means that you have to be. The early years of parenting are largely centred around feeding, mopping and setting up a field surgery in your living room. You live in perpetual fear of all three of them going down with something at once and running out of bed linen. I used to have nightmares where I dreamed of trying to re-make the beds using only tea towels and flannels in a hideous and ever changing patchwork. Then you realise that they will all get whatever it is anyway and is it any better for them to get it one at a time, in a torturously drawn out process, only for the first one to get something else as soon as the third one has finished with this bout?  It is truly all about being between a rock and a hard place.

Only the rock usually has nits and the hard place is invariably covered in sick.

In recent years, since they’ve become taller and less prone to eating gravel, licking floors and hanging out with scrofulous peers they will insist on locking heads with, things have become much easier. It has been me that has been perpetually ill with one thing and another.  This is inconvenient, but not so much of a crisis, due to the fact that when I am ill, my greatest desire in the world is to be left alone and for everyone else to fuck the fuck off. I also wash out my own sick bowls, and do my own laundry. I am a fairly low maintenance invalid.

So last week was a bit of a shock to the system.  We thought that Tallulah had given herself food poisoning with a dodgy sausage roll, she consumed in the pursuit of a rock ‘n’ roll, hedonistic lifestyle (hurtling down the M6 trying to get to an Amanda Palmer gig on time, shards of pastry flying in the wind).

We were wrong.  We have been steadily going down with a mysterious, violent and miserable making vomiting bug since the night of the long sausage rolls. I was the first to succumb after Tallulah. For my sins, because I couldn’t keep any food down, I also developed a dehydration/lack of caffeine migraine to go with it.  I do wish that a migraine wasn’t my default setting in a crisis. I can’t even send myself back to the shop to be reprogrammed. Toe cramp would be easier to live with. The irony of a migraine is that it makes me vomit, so it was just wall to wall vomit for a bit and then, because I am old and tired and always on the verge of being an infirm, Victorian invalid, it takes me a few days to get back on my feet. I’d say I’m currently at the limping rather than sprinting stage, but getting there.

Everyone is now (touching wood) on the mend. Lots of laundry has been done. I’ve had to dust off the yellow, plague flag and fly it high above the house.  I’m tempted to pack it back in the loft, with the nit comb and tea tree oil, but I think I’ll hang on to it for a few days. Just in case.

 

How To Eat A Peach

Last week, Amazon Vine (review programme) sent me a copy of Diana Henry’s new cookery book, ‘How To Eat A Peach.’

I love Diana Henry’s books. If you’ve never come across her before, I think of her rather like the female Nigel Slater. Her writing is beautiful and soothing. Her love for the food she cooks and eats is evident on every page and she makes everything seem possible in terms of the culinary arts.

I have an entire bookshelf of cookery books. I tend to divide them up into self-appointed categories. There are the books which are marvellous but you know you will never cook anything from. They’re rather like exotic travel brochures for far flung places you can’t really afford but you quite like to dream about.  There’s the books which are really about the writer themselves, so the recipes are somewhat accidental. I like these books a lot, because they’re readable, but a drawback is that the recipes can be rather vague and therefore difficult to actually cook. There’s the educational recipe books which gallop you through a cuisine other than your own. These are like a Hayne’s Manual for the Ford Cortina, but for Morocco. There’s the show off books, which I like the least, because who the fuck has time to make a pyramid of bouillabaisse with aromatic mist that reminds you of a fisherman’s pipe? Not when you’ve got three hungry children banging their spoons on the table like ersatz Oliver Twists, you don’t.

The ones which get most use in my own house are the practical ones. By this I do not mean those ones you get in the bargain book shops which are full of scary, colour drenched pictures from photo stock, which are entitled: ‘500 Salads.’ (WHY?) I think of these books as the equivalent of going to a foreign country, walking down the main tourist drag and seeing three hundred dubious eateries with sun bleached photos of paella outside. i.e. Terrifying.

The practical books in my house are the ones with foolproof, easy to make recipes which taste fabulous and which I turn to again and again. Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess (the spine is falling off I use it so much), Friends, Food, Family by Sasha Wilkins (Liberty London Girl) anything by Anjum Anand, and then there are my great loves, Nigel Slater and Diana Henry.

If you want somewhere to start with Diana, may I recommend A Bird in the Hand as her most practical book (as long as you are not a vegetarian)? It does exactly what it says on the tin and gives you ‘chicken recipes for every day and every mood.’

‘How to Eat A Peach,’ is a wonderful journey through Henry’s food memories. She talks about her love of putting together satisfying menus, and splendid meals she has eaten. She sets the scene for each menu with an anecdote from her life, and a store of knowledge about the food. Here she is talking about a menu inspired by Istanbul:

‘The food here is at the meeting point of lots of cultures too. On the surface it seems simple; most meals start with vegetables, cucumbers as juicy and taut as apples, firm chilled radishes, lengths of scarlet pepper. The counterpoints to these are tart or salty, the snow-white cheese beyaz peynir, clouds of pale creamy pink tarama, bowls of thick yogurt. The tarama is a dish shared with the Balkans and Greece. But look beyond these; acuka, a puree of red peppers, walnuts, garlic, tomato and chilli, is Syrian in origin; the chicken coated with a creamy walnut and garlic sauce is from Circassian; manti, little dumplings stuffed with spiced lamb and smothered in yogurt, are thought to have come to Turkey along the Silk Road from Central Asia. There are influences from all over the former Ottoman Empire: The Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus and parts of North Africa.’

Each menu is a history, a story, a small world in taste, texture and flavour. In talking about the meals she has shared over the years she emphasises the other important thing about cooking – eating and sharing food with friends and family.

It’s an absolute pleasure to read.

I’ve been dipping into the book every morning as I eat my breakfast. It’s my ten minutes off from the world before it starts incessantly knocking at the front door to be let in. It’s escapism of the best kind.

I wish I could put it into the practical section of my cookery books, but I can’t. Every single thing I’ve read about so far is something I would happily eat, or at least try. She describes even things I don’t think I’d like in such a way that I am persuaded that I might. It’s the kind of writing that seduces you into thinking that this type of cooking, eating, life is possible.

And it absolutely is…

If I lived alone.

I indulged myself today in fantasies of sitting outside at my big wooden table, a white linen cloth draped over over it, eating everything from the book, (with my fingers, in a casual yet not messy way). I pictured myself, slurping white peaches in chilled moscato, a shawl flung artistically over my shoulders as the afternoon dipped into evening.

This reminded me very much of the time when I was obsessed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage, and decided I would have a small, but beautiful garden full of fruit and veg that I would wander down the garden to pick, in my very expensive sandals, with a trug slung casually in the crook of my arm, while the children gambolled about, looking dirty but artistic.

I attempted this and I learned the glaring yet unavoidable differences between fantasy and reality as I ruined my sandals (it turns out they’re very impractical for gardening in), got bitten, stung and filthy, shrieked at the children who looked dirty but not artistic and were little shits, and spent a great deal of time thinking resentful and bitter thoughts about Hugh. Not only that, but for my pains I ended up with a glut of courgettes that nobody but me even attempted to eat, and my broad beans got decimated by black fly.

With this in mind I think of Diana, and I think of the fact that each recipe will have to be vetted for the finicky and entirely annoying likes and dislikes of my family. It’s not that they all dislike everything, but each one of them dislikes enough things that make this kind of eating rather trying, if not downright impossible. It means that by the time I have worked round all this, all joy will have been sucked out of the things I can cook, and many of the things I would cook for myself would simply have to be abandoned entirely. By the time I might get to sit at my beautiful table, I will be grumpy, resentful, sweat streaked and burned, and peaches and moscato will be abandoned for an industrial strength gin and tonic and an admonishment to self to stay away from sharp knives in the vicinity of the loved ones that have ruined my fantasy.

I have several solutions. One is to send all of my immediate family away for the weekend and invite my mum to dinner, who I know loves all the same foods I do, and rarely gets to make them because she has similar issues with her nearest and dearest.  The other is to write a begging letter to Diana Henry to adopt me. It will show a picture of me, rubbing my tummy in a hopeful manner and the words: ‘Look after this bear’ written underneath it. I am sure she will take pity on me.

Bring me sunshine

Fancy having a bank holiday weekend that was actually hot, with real sunshine and everything. Surely this is a clear indication that we are truly at the end of days? Not that I am complaining. I have done ninety thousand loads of washing and thrown all the doors and windows open. Everything smells of sun baked laundry and the flowers that are suddenly popping up in my garden.

Do not be fooled by this last sentence. It is not a domestic idyll. The garden is full of things that we need to take to the tip but haven’t quite mustered the energy to do anything about. The flowers are the self seeding variety that push the dormant woodland that is the foundation of our garden into the foreground and fill all my borders with bluebells and forget-me-nots I never planted. The laundry is everywhere, given that I’ve had a lot of guests in recent days. It is all tolerable however, because the sun is shining. Although I really must clean the French windows.

Let’s see. What do I have to tell you?

Work is overwhelming me a little bit at the moment. I have so many things to do and I am at the point where I am somewhat paralysed by the sheer number of those things. I shall persevere and accept the small victories.

My health is on the fritz ( I am tempted to smack it with the flat of my hand, like you would with a wonky telly), which may be why things are a little overwhelming. Hot flushes are back, like the renegade master with their ill behaviour. It turns out that flushes coupled with boiling hot weather is not the funnest thing in the world.  Who knew? I have signed up with a lady I met who does hypnotherapy for menopausal women, and offers a programme around hot flushes. My first session is next week. I will report back.  Sleep is crap, and eye bags are rising, or indeed falling. I look ‘tired’. I am tired, that’s why.

My ribs are slowly improving. I went to see the Dr on Thursday afternoon after my mum very fiercely reminded me that if I went to the Dr it would turn out to be nothing, whereas, given that it was a bank holiday weekend, if I didn’t, it would be bound to be pleurisy or some such thing. The Dr had a good prod, which made me want to smack him with the flat of my hand, and announced gravely that it was my ribs. Thank God for seven years of medical school I thought, but didn’t say. Waiting is the best cure for ribs, so this is what I am doing.

Friday afternoon saw me back at the hospital for the second attempt at my gynae consultation. This time it actually happened, although I’m still not entirely convinced they were real medics, given that the whole place was like a ghost town because it was not only Friday, but the Friday of a bank holiday weekend.

I am to have a scan, followed by a camera to take internal, aerial shots of my failed uterus and a biopsy. While they’re there, they will also do a smear test, because why not combine all the agonisingly painful procedures into one heady bundle? I am considering asking them to put in curtains and a convection oven as well. To say that I am apprehensive about this is possibly the understatement of the year. I am fairly sure that because women are supposed to be tough, the closest I will get to pain relief is biting down on a chair leg whilst thinking of England.

In other health news, Tallulah ate a dodgy sausage roll on Sunday night on our way to see Amanda Palmer, made it through the gig fine (thank God) but spent the rest of the night and some of Monday throwing up. Fun times.

Now that the awful bits are out of the way, let’s look at the fun stuff.

I’ve finished reading a book (dismal, will not recommend) and am half way through another (Louise O’ Neill’s Almost Love), which is harrowing but very compelling. After this I need something that is not only good, but also charming. I shall sort through the 3000 books in my to read pile. There is bound to be something.

I went to London to see Andrea. We were meant to be seeing Macbeth, but it got such all round terrible reviews that we bunked off and went to the pub for lunch instead. We went to the Queen’s Head and Artichoke (Great Portland St tube) and had delightful seafood linguine. I had the nicest glass of wine I’ve had in about twenty years. It was a rose, something grenache. I don’t know why I didn’t write it down. It tasted like drinking a bunch of flowers, but in a good way. We puttered about in the sunshine, catching up, browsing for a lazy hour in Daunt Books, eating cake (chocolate cake, dark and not sweet at all, and with tahini buttercream. Surprisingly good). It was delightfully stress free, except for the drive home when I spent half an hour in the boiling heat stuck in a traffic jam near Dunstable.

My gorgeous friends, Alex and Connor arrived on Saturday while I was jaunting. They’re the official Merch Queens for the Amanda Palmer tour and had just come from the Gateshead gig and were headed off to Birmingham, so decided to break their journey with us. It was wonderful to see them. Despite the fact that we were surrounded by boxes of vinyl and t-shirts for most of it, we managed to catch up on all the news, eat lots of toast and laugh a lot. They had to set off to Birmingham before us on Sunday to set up shop, but we followed valiantly behind after picking up Tilly from work, and inadvertently poisoning Tallulah with a sausage roll.

The gig was great, but super long. Three and a half hours of performance was extremely good value for the ticket price, as was the support act by the surreal but brilliant Andrew O’Neil. We had the best time, despite getting lost on the way there and on the way back.

The way back was the worst, given that Tallulah was starting to feel ill, it was very dark, the roadworks were very confusing and we ended up on a road full of heaving night clubs with drunken brawls sprawling into the road and Nineties house music pumping out at ear melting decibels. It was all a bit apocalyptic at this point.

We did get home eventually, although at one point I considered abandoning the car and just taking the kids into the nearest club to continue their education and the devil take the consequences. We got home at one, and Tallulah finished throwing up enough to go to sleep by half two.

As an aside, I think that there should be an olympic event which involves sprinting for 100 metres whilst wearing stretch lycra skirts and five inch stripper shoes in pursuit of a kebab. I saw turns of speed that would put Mo Farah to shame.

Yesterday was more low key. We waved Alex and Connor off to their next venue in Liverpool, and I started grappling with real life again. This largely involved lists of jobs for this week, making sure Oscar was organised for school, Tallulah was organised for week two of work experience and wondering where Tilly was now.

Jason arrived home from a weekend of scamping with random bags of weird costume etc. Thanks to the weather none of it smelled too terrible, or indeed, clogged the washing machine filter with unspeakable lumps of mud. I count this as a victory.

Wonder Carol came round in the afternoon to organise us some more, and spurred on by her calm confidence, after she had gone I properly tidied my desk, shredded a ton of once important papers that are now no longer important, tidied the medicine cabinet, sorted some pottery to sell and cleared out the drawers in the bathroom cabinet. Nobody will know about these small pools of calm in the chaos that is my house except me, but every time I open those drawers I know I will feel better.

I may have to go and open one and stare into its calming depths now, as real work beckons.

Late Night Ramblings

It’s late, I’ve just been to see ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’ at DeMontfort Hall, which was excellent. I did not win a wok, which was sad, but everything else about it was brilliant.

Everyone else is asleep and I have five whole minutes to myself while the house is quiet, so I thought I’d say hello.

So many things are happening, so much of the time, and when they’re not happening I am generally falling asleep. I am not even finding time to read, which saddens me, because life is extremely busy and full of strange events. Mostly they are good events, but they are also pushing me so far out of my comfort zone I am commuting in from Saturn. It turns out that living outside my comfort zone is knackering.

Let me catch you up.

The first day of taking photos for my friend Matt’s exhibition happened. He brought along his friend Caitlin who is a videographer, and now it transpires we are making a documentary, and we are taking photos, and this all happened rather spontaneously. I decided to say ‘fuckit’ and just do it, and now we are, and when I think about it too much it totally weirds me out, so I am just doing it, and not thinking about it, and it will be great, and who knew I would be making a documentary at the age of 46? I shall tell you more about it later on when I can think about it without running round with a tea towel on my head, screaming.

I went to the hospital, but the hospital did not deliver. It transpires that the clinic simply did not happen, for reasons which are inexplicable and were very annoying.  I got a phone call yesterday asking if I could possibly rock up on Friday afternoon as they have now thrown together an impromptu gynae clinic. probably being held by the local scouts for a new badge. So thanks to ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’, I am fully au fait with where my cervix is, and will probably be able to do my own tests using some simple household objects and the contents of my handbag.

I went to London for the day to do the film thing for the Huffington Post. Jason also had to go to London, not to talk about his vagina. He talks about graphs and gant charts and goes to meetings in pointy buildings with men who were born in pin stripe suits and wear shoes which are too pointy for their own good. There is a lot of pointiness going on in the cut and thrust world of big business. It’s probably very meaningful, but it is certainly very dull, so we won’t think about that.

I, on the other hand, did my filming and then went to spend half an hour in Heals, breathing in the scent of hand crafted furniture and money. It was really soothing.  After that I walked and walked until my feet fell off. I went all round my old haunts and explored some new ones. I bought two pairs of Chie Mihara shoes in a charity shop and nearly wept with joy. A lady bonked me on the head with a tray in Bills in Covent Garden. She was mortified. I was dazed, but also impressed that she didn’t fling sausages all over the place.

I got hideously lost trying to find Jason to have dinner, because they will insist on digging up Victoria and I completely lost my bearings. I wailed and wailed like Violet Elizabeth and he shouted ‘Don’t move. I can see your hair!’ and I didn’t move, and he did see my hair, and then I cried because I was very old and small, like Mrs. Pepperpot. I had to be consoled with noodles and tea and a rest of my weary bones and all was well.

On Friday I went to see SingalongaSoundofMusic, which was on my bucket list because I love it and it reminds me of my granny.  And I dressed in a dirndl skirt and was happy, but tired, and many of my friends came to support me being happy in a dirndl skirt. I loved a small boy called Arthur who was only nine, and who won a prize for being brown paper packages wrapped up in string. I sang with gusto, and booed the Nazis, and admired the Countess’ dress, even though she was a cow, and had a miniature crush on Christopher Plummer. It was all very exhausting, particularly as in between all that, I wanted to kill the people behind us, who were extremely annoying in every conceivable way.

On Saturday I went to a Swish event, which is like a posh bring and buy sale. I ate chocolate cake and got a dress with cockatoos on it, and as if that weren’t pleasing enough, Jason took us all out for dinner when I got home and I had a burger with a fried egg on top, and it made me very happy.

On Sunday our friends Nicki and Rob came, and we started planning mine and Jason’s not wedding, which is happening on September 22nd. The steampunk theme is back on, and I spent a happy few hours researching mobile cocktail lounges and ice cream vans in your front yard.

This week, Tallulah has been doing work experience. She is experiencing the deep dullness of regular work, and it is teaching her the valuable life lesson that she would be better off marrying an eccentric millionaire, or robbing a bank.  Tilly started her first week of actual real, Dolly Partonesque 9/5 jobs. She is working at Waterstones (praise be for the staff discount), and is currently training in Nottingham because the Leicester branch is the size of a shoe cupboard. Oscar is due to sit his SATS at any moment and is heartily sick of school because it is wall to wall tests and stressed teachers pulling their hair out, and even though he is the most relaxed child I know, even he is fed up.

I am still doing many patient panel things, and eventually will be able to go on Mastermind with ‘disappointing things you learn about the NHS’ as my specialist subject.

I have finished re-organising my wardrobe with Wonder Carol, who is brilliant at decluttering. We have now adopted her, and she is helping us with everything we can think of, because we are rubbish at being grown ups, and she is brilliant at it and never gets bored and wanders off to the biscuit barrel, or throws a blanket over things, shouting ‘fuck that noise, let’s go to the pub.’ Honestly. She is amazing. I need to write a blog post all about her, but you should definitely use her, for everything.

I am randomly throwing things on EBay and making some money, which is good, because I need some. My front room still looks like hell, but I trust it will look less hellish eventually. I think this is a lie, but I am telling myself this because what else is there to do about it all?

I have really sore ribs this week. I think I might have some kind of weird chest infection. Or maybe I got kicked by a horse when I wasn’t looking. I don’t know. It really hurts when I laugh, so this evening’s trip was a bitter sweet experience indeed.

I am quite grumpy about the rib thing. I need to be well. I am out with Jenn tomorrow. We have been promising ourselves a treasure hunting adventure for two months, and tomorrow is the day.  Friday I am hospital bound, but not for lungs, unless the gynae people really mess up. Saturday I am off to see the Rory Kinnear and Anne Marie Duff (terrible reviews, but I am crossing my fingers) Macbeth at the National with Andrea and Sunday I am taking all the kids to see Amanda Palmer in Birmingham. I do not have time to be ill. There is much living to be done.