I don’t know what to call this

This post has been inspired by this post by Emily Baker at The Pool.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly musical household. My dad, God love him, listened to The Fifty Guitars of Tommy Garrett and Sousa Marches. My mum listened to Radio Four.

The first pop song I really remember listening to was Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by The Beatles. My mum was driving me back from nursery school. I don’t know why the usual Radio Four wasn’t on. Maybe she’d been listening to a play that had made her cry and needed some light relief. Anyway, I loved it. I loved it so much that over forty years later I remember hearing that song like it was yesterday.

It sparkled. It shone. I suddenly ‘understood’ what music was for and I wanted more of it. I wanted to dance. I wanted to sing. I wanted that uncomplicated happiness that music can bring. Later, when I realised it was capable of so much more I wanted to feel everything that music could throw at me. I wanted to listen to people who knew my pain and my joy, singing from their hearts straight to mine.

From that moment in the car all those years ago, I was hooked.  I pleaded with my parents to be allowed to watch Top of The Pops every Thursday. After that it was a short step to taping the Top Forty every week and finally to the amazing experience of having a Walkman and being able to listen to whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted (funds permitting), as loud as I wanted.

Now Spotify is my constant companion and I marvel at the fact that I can find everything I want to listen to at the wiggle of a mouse.My days are full of music again, much to my delight.

Music was particularly important in my teenage years. Music offered a place where the vast, unwieldy emotions of adolescence were normal and you could just be yourself, even if you didn’t really know what that self was. In music I realised that I wasn’t a stranger in my own life. Books did the same thing, but they were a solitary pleasure. It was in music that I found my first tribe. Music connected me to myself and to other people.

Music was a gift to me and to millions of people like me. It continues to weave its magic on me and people like me and the generations coming after me. Tallulah, my ‘difficult middle child’, has always had music. It’s been her lifeline, her way of communicating when everything else fails. It has been her solace and her strength and her greatest passion.

She is fourteen. Just getting to the age where she’s starting to go to gigs properly.

A couple of years ago she went to her first gig.  She and her dad drove up to Manchester to see Taylor Swift. She had been a ‘Swiftie’ since the beginning. She knew everything about her, everything. She was word perfect on the songs. Her room was a shrine. She even followed her cats on Instagram. We teased her, but I understood. My first gig had been to see Wet Wet Wet at Birmingham Arena. I loved them so hard, and when the tickets came I nearly died of joy. I know they weren’t cool. They aren’t cool. It doesn’t matter though, does it? It matters that you love and you love hard and every time a song comes on the radio you light up inside and it doesn’t matter if it’s The Wurzels or Bastille. It matters what it does for you. It matters that at that time in your life it completes you. So I got it.

She was sick with excitement for weeks beforehand. She made a costume, ordering battery pack driven fairy lights to twine around herself which she paid for with her hard earned money. She spent days painstakingly making a placard so big it took her and her dad to carry it. And he did, patiently and understandingly carry it and her to the gig of her life, because he too remembered what it was to be absolutely swept away by music that someone was making just for you.

She came home absolutely wrung out. It took days to recover because she had given those few, short hours everything she had to give, and in return she had received validation of her place in a world where she was perfect and everything was good and everyone understood her, because everyone was like her. While she was there she met a girl who lived hundreds of miles away, and they became fast friends, just like that, because they could, because that was what the music gave them.

I thought about that this morning when I heard the news about Manchester. I thought about all those children. I thought about all that love and excitement, all that joy and positivity. I thought about all that knowledge they had of how privileged they were to be in that moment and how maybe, for some of them, how they knew, like I once knew, that they had found their tribe at last. I thought about how someone believed that they had the right to take that away from those people and I despaired.

I thought about how easily it could have been my daughter.

My heart broke.

And I thought how easy it would be for me to stop her going to gigs, to ‘keep her safe’.

But then I thought about what we’d talk about when she comes home from school this afternoon, because I know she will be upset. But I know that that difficult conversation will be eased. It will be eased because we will sit around the kitchen table, in a house filled with music, and we will let it build a bridge between a worried middle aged woman and a scared teenager. We will let it help us find the right words or the right spaces when words won’t work. We will let it soothe our troubled minds and eventually we will let it slide happiness back where the sadness once was.

So I know I won’t stop her going to gigs when she wants to go. And I know it won’t stop me worrying, because I’m her mum, and that’s my job, but it will help. And it won’t bring all those poor, poor people back, but maybe it will help make a little sense of the sadness one day. And I don’t really know how to end this because there are no right answers. I just know I had to write it and all I have to offer is love, and music.

So maybe I’ll end it with the song I posted earlier on Facebook. You know Guy soothes my soul, and it seems fitting that he’s from Manchester, and that this song, about coming home, was filmed at Manchester Cathedral.

 

 

Forgive Me

For it has been ten days since I last blogged.

Everything is ok, I am just busy or tired or busy and tired. I’m still busy, still tired, but just thought I ought to make an appearance, however brief.

The news is as follows:

Menopause. Symptoms now much more manageable. Hot flushes are still go, but given that we have put the heating back on and it is raining like there is some kind of competition going on, they’re not as problematic as they could be. Still prone to random tears at inopportune moments such as when I poured myself too much granola the other day (really? I mean, of all the things), but again totally manageable because it’s all explicable and not actually very sad. I just ate the granola and the problem went away. Still prone to forgetfulness and randomly shouting ‘ironing board’. Learning to live with this.

Mood. Pretty even apart from the odd granola based blips.

All in all a huge tick for remaining menopausal forever. My jabs run out next month and my consultant appointment is not until the end of August. I know how well the jabs are working for me because when this was pointed out to me today when I went for this month’s jab, I panicked. I have managed to move my appointment to July and get the consultant’s secretary to ask about extending the jabs so that I can continue with them until l’ve seen her and a plan has been made.

Migraines. One. Stress related only and again, tolerable because I totally understood why it had turned up, and it only lasted a day. Admittedly a long, horrible day, but only a day. Also, no vomiting or blindness with this one, which is better.

Children. In the thick of A-Levels, GCSE options, orthodontics and being ten. Still making me laugh, which is good as it seems increasingly clear that if the Tories get in I will either have to eat them, sell them or rely on their charity for the rest of my natural days.

Husband still in credit for having bought tickets to see Elbow in June.

Cat. Deranged.

Friends. Excellent.

Many lovely things have happened. Also some less lovely things like the flat roof above the kitchen flooding again. But it will have to wait until I am more the thing.

How are you?

Forgetting to Remember

You know that thing where you walk into a room all purposeful and brisk because you’re going in there to get something specific? And then you entirely forget what that specific thing is the moment you set foot in the room the ‘thing’ is in and you wander about aimlessly, hoping that by beating the bounds you will remember what it is you came in for?

Then you don’t remember. And you even try that thing your mum told you to do which is to go out and go  back in again in the hope that this will do the trick, and it doesn’t. And then you look weird because you’re all ‘backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards, eh?’ And your children wonder if you’re secretly auditioning for Strictly and your husband just sighs and washes his hands of the whole affair, because he’s married to you and it’s too expensive to divorce you now.

That is my life at the moment.

I am making lists. It is the only way to get through this. The problem with the lists is that they only help with the things that are planned. Also, they only help if I can remember where I put them and remember to read them. I started putting various lists in my handbag last week in order to prompt me to read some of them when my hand plunged into my bag. It helped a bit, but when I cleaned my bag out at the weekend it looked like I’d been to a cut price wedding. It was all inky, DIY confetti all over the shop emblazoned with gnomic messages like; ‘Hair bands but not the elastic ones. Thin.’ etc.

I still haven’t got the hair bands.

The unplanned stuff is hopeless. Absolutely hopeless. People ring me and say stuff like; ‘When you’ve got a moment do you think you can do X or Y?’ and I totally can do X or Y and I agree enthusiastically, because despite my curmudgeonly persona I’m actually quite a helpful person. Then the moment passes and another moment passes and all thoughts of doing X or Y flee my brain like wildebeest running away from a lion and my memoryscape is just an empty dustbowl with fast disappearing hoof prints to show for it all.

And the words. OH MY GOD. I mean, I have always had those brain fart moments where the word I’m searching for is elusive and I end up doing elaborate mimes and over using the word ‘thingy’.  I’ve always had that thing of knowing that the words ‘ironing board,’ are not the ones I’m looking for, but feeling compelled to say them anyway, despite the fact that what I actually want is a pair of needle nosed pliers, but DEAR HOLY CHEEZUS, it is just incessant at the moment.

In the last two days alone I have failed to find the words, ‘milkshake’, ‘fridge’, ‘basketball’ and a whole host of others that have entailed me flailing linguistically around getting more and more frustrated with my own ability to track down the slippery little suckers. I may just invest in a giant pointer so that I can gesticulate towards the things I am talking about. That and a set of surreal and random flash cards for the things I don’t have to hand to point at.

The fact is that the remembering part of my brain is just all slithery at the moment. It’s driving me mad. People talk about drinking to forget. I don’t need to do this. I need an Alice like potion that allows me to drink to remember.

Make it so.

 

Elbow Room

News wise, things are bleak people. I am still keeping up with stuff, and apologies for not sharing my piquant thoughts on the state of affairs locally, nationally and globally in some time. I think about it a lot, but frankly I don’t know how to write that feeling of wanting to douse my eyes in bleach whilst banging my head on the desk, and weeping incessantly for the future of my children, country, sex, planet in enough different ways to cover it all.

Basically, if you’re poor, poorly and particularly if you’re female, you should give up now with any hope that anyone with any kind of power anywhere is going to help you. You should just watch back episodes of Ray Mears’ survival guide and stockpile tins of tomato soup and crepe bandages whilst sharpening all the dinner knives into shivs. Sisters need to do it for themselves, like Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox but with a side order of Bear Grylls on maracas.

I just hope they give me a hysterectomy before they turn being a surgeon into something Guides can do if they’ve already got their ‘Safety in the Home’ and ‘Hostess’ badge. I really don’t fancy the idea of Tallulah bearing down on me with a Swiss army penknife and an evil glint in her eye. Her bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, as does her anatomical knowledge. One of her most oft quoted lines in this house is, ‘who needs a pelvis when you have some shoes?’ I do not want think about what she would do with my gynaecological gubbins, or the fact she’d probably make an incision at the ear.

On that front, I am quite a lot better this week, for which I praise teeny baby Cheezus and all his multitudinous angels. Joint pain is much, much less and only one headache this week, and that was stress related and controllable by over the counter meds. I am however still having issues with hot flushes, only mine are more of the tepid variety so not too bad. Sleeplessness is kicking in, which is a bit of a bitch, but having had three children and survived on fragments of sleep since 1999 I can live with it. I just need to invest in more Touche Eclat.

This morning, after having read all the gloom and misery of the news I was feeling a bit down about the state of the world in general until a friend of mine mentioned in a Tweet that she had been listening to Elbow in the sunshine. This was the beginning of a conversation in which we agreed that:

Guy Garvey should definitely read the news, because his voice is so soothing that even the most miserable of things sound bearable.

It should be mandatory for every man to accept that they will lose their wife/partner to Guy should he crook his little finger and whistle. The men, also half in love with him, will simply sigh and understand that this is the natural order of the world.

There is nothing that a combination of lyrics that read like they’ve been put together by Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett, combined with a sweeping musical landscape and the warm, rough tones of a professional Northerner won’t sort out for the better.

I am currently listening obsessively to the album ‘Leaders of the Free World’. Station Approach is a wonderful song and you should definitely listen to it, because it’s all about coming home, and who doesn’t want to feel like they’re coming home?  However, for the sheer genius of the lyrics and a cracking score, it’s got to be Forget Myself as my stone cold winner of the album and one for my Desert Island Discs list.

In fact I love this song so much I have lectured the children on its sheer genius and clever poetic method until they roll their eyes. I make no apologies for the fact that I actually talked about the plot line and the kinaesthetic energy of the narrative. Just bury me in Quinoa wrapped in back copies of The Guardian. Sing this at the funeral (along with Gloria Gaynor’s I will Survive – just for the laugh).

They’re pacing Piccadilly in packs again
And moaning for the mercy of a never come rain
The sun’s had enough and the simmering sky
Has the heave and the hue of a woman on fire
Shop shutters rattle down and I’m cutting the crowd
All scented and descending from the satellite towns
The neon is graffiti singing make a new start
So I look for a plot where I can bury my broken heart

No I know I wont forget you
but I’ll forget myself
if the city will forgive me

The man on the door has a head like Mars
Like a baby born to the doors of the bars
And surrounded by steam with his folded arms
He’s got that urban genie thing going on
He’s so mercifully free of the pressures of grace
Saint Peter in satin he’s like Buddha with mace

No I know I wont forget you
but I’ll forget myself
if the city will forgive me

Do you move through the room with a glass in your hand
Thinking too hard about the way you stand
Are you watching them pair off and drinking them long
Are you falling in love every second song

No I know I wont forget you
but I’ll forget myself
and the city will forgive me

Advice to my smaller self

This post is subtitled – I get to think about a lot of things when I’m awake in the wee small hours.

I have been thinking about that meme that people do when they talk about things they’d like to share with their younger self if only they had a time machine etc. Here’s mine. There’s tons I’ve not put in. Stuff like, ‘You know when you know in your head that if you have one more drink it’s game over? Don’t have that one more drink.’ Stuff like, ‘Nobody will ever care that you can’t do six figure grid references, and you were right about the pointlessness of trigonometry to your existence as well, by the way.’ Also, ‘You still haven’t let go of your burning resentment of Mrs. Rance, thirty years after the fact. You might need to work on this.’

I have also loosely interpreted ‘my younger self’ to be any age that is less than 45.

Here goes:

Walking in ‘cloppy’ shoes is as much fun as you always thought it would be. It still makes you feel grown up. Stilettos however, will never be your friend. You should have given them up for good after that hideous school disco where you got those bright yellow winkle pickers stuck in a grating and fell over. Wedges and stack heels ARE your friend.

You were right to hate American tan tights. They were awful, they still are awful. Your ambivalence about socks continues and you go from feeling curious about pop socks to loathing them. The higher the denier, the happier you are.

Reading is still your best friend. Books will never, ever let you down. You still, as you vowed, read children’s books with no shame. Some of them are the best things you’ve ever read. You still read everything else as well.

Country and Western music and opera will never do it for you. Don’t waste your money on those opera tickets, or those ballet tickets, by the way. Go and see more gigs instead.

Your eyesight stops deteriorating so rapidly. You can stop panicking about going blind in your twenties, although you will have to eventually accept, that even with your sight intact, you will never find time to read ‘all’ the books.

You never break your arm so you can’t do an exam. Even when you strain your finger and have it splinted, they still make you do the exam (bastards). Also, you will never manage to pull your tooth out by tying string to it and tying the end of the string to the door. It remains a disappointment to you.

You can stop panicking about nuclear war until you’re forty five, then you’re going to have a few sleepless nights again.

You don’t like chocolate as much in your older years. Some days you prefer cheese. Weirdly this does not distress you as much as you thought it would.

Your life turns out to be way more interesting than you dreamed. Your life is way better than those of people you envied at school for being cool. Don’t waste your envy.

Milkshakes are still your favourite drink, but you are sad that you cannot drink them as often as you would like due to sinus issues. Curse your ageing nostrils. You still have them on high days and holidays and consider yourself a risk taker.

You will continue to be considered eccentric all your life. Embrace it. It’s better to be eccentric than dull, and your life is never boring.

You will never be fashionable. This too, does not worry you as much as you thought it would. In fact you come to see this as a great boon. You develop your own style. It is called, ‘wear what you like and don’t give a shit.’ People used to make your life miserable about this as a teen. As a middle aged woman, people frequently compliment you for your ‘bravery’. You find this hilarious.

‘Just being yourself,’ and ‘Stopping thinking so much,’ are just as hard as you thought they would be. You are shit at meditation and yoga, and never get over the trauma of that woman shouting at you when you kicked her doing the downward dog that time. Give up on yoga and go shopping instead. You find it much more relaxing.

You will never look like that girl in the illustration of the short story you ripped out of Just Seventeen and pinned on the wall. It’s ok. You will not look like Kate Moss either. That’s alright as well. You will look like you. When you’re forty five you will find out that you actually really like looking like you and it’s a great surprise and a relief because amazingly enough, you’re going to look like you for the rest of your life.

You will learn to love dungarees. This has a lot to do with being able to buy them yourself  and not having them forced on you in Mothercare. You still hate corduroy though, particularly jumbo cord.

You will never, ever know what you are doing. You will go into everything randomly, blindly and with a total failure to understand what it is until it is too late. Surprisingly this works out quite well for you. Don’t knock it. It takes you to some interesting places. Sometimes joy is involved.

The man you want is out there. Turns out he arrives late and you are already second hand. Turns out that this doesn’t matter a toss. Turns out you don’t actually need him to complete you or make you happy. Turns out it doesn’t matter because sharing your life with him is still one of the best things you ever do, and it’s more like splashing out for the leather seats. You don’t need them, but you appreciate them every time you sit on them and having them in your life makes you happy.

You will come to value peace in your mind above everything else. Excitement is over-rated and often comes tinged with fear you could live without.

You don’t need to go to all the parties. You don’t need to go to any parties. Pretty much you can do whatever you like. When people tell you you can’t, mostly it’s because they’re frightened for themselves. Learn to ignore them. Do it your way.

George Michael is gay. Get over it. Be ready for Jarvis Cocker and Guy Garvey and be consoled. He was too old for you anyway.

Being kind is one of the best things you can do, and be. It’s not as dull as it sounds.

You will never, ever, ever regret eating chips. You should always put salt on them.

Turns out that you were right about being a blonde deep down. Some days you’re also a pink deep down. You were never a mousy brown. Find the money to pay for the hairdresser to dye it. It’s worth every penny.

Love is spectacular. Not just amorous love, but the whole gamut. It lights up your life like neon. You are, eventually, incredibly blessed in that department. You don’t quite know how you’ve managed it, but you are surrounded by incredible friends, family and the random kindness of strangers pretty much every day and it truly is an every day miracle.

You will give up many things in your life. Never give up coffee.

Your kids turn out to be fucking amazing, despite your fears, and your parenting.

You were right about the hormones. Put your foot down ten years earlier, and save yourself and everyone else the grief.

You laugh every day. This is what saves your sanity. That and chips.

Role Play – Don’t Get Excited

This bank holiday weekend saw the start of the annual LARPing events for Jason. For newer readers, my husband is one of those lunatics who dresses up in furry boots and bed sheets and staggers round fields pretending to be an orc/dwarf/unicorn etc. LARP stands for Live Action Role Play.

Contrary to popular belief when dressing up and the term ‘play’ is employed, this is not ‘sexy time’, unless you find four days in a field in Derbyshire embracing chemical toilets and the powers of the wet wipe, sexy. If you do, you are made of much sterner stuff than me.

He doesn’t expect me to stable him like those people who pretend to be ponies for fun. Nor does he expect me  to pleasure him whilst he swirls around ominously casting spells. He himself is not really the sort to be excited at the thought of jumping out of a bush to indulge in woodland frolics. For all of this I am profoundly grateful. One of the reasons I married him was the fact that we are both invested in the idea that beds are the best place to ‘do sex’, especially when you’re a martyr to the cold weather, your back is playing up, you don’t want carpet burns and you fancy rolling into the duvet and going to sleep as soon as possible after it’s all over. We are basically The Ballad of Barry and Freda but with more biscuits.

I am absolutely shocking at any form of role play, even in a non sexy role. The last time I was required to pretend to be someone else I was on a first aid course and had to pretend to be constipated at work so that someone could assess whether I needed to go to hospital or not, and I alternated between getting the giggles and wanting to leave the room with shame at having to pretend to be someone else. I’m hardly going to be able to cope with leaping from the top of the wardrobe clad as a naughty nurse. Long term readers may remember the time I experimented with nipple tassels. It was like Strictly Come Dancing meets Benny Hill.  And I went slightly cross eyed with the effort. It transpires that even when the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. I’m just far too British for this sort of thing.

I knew all about the LARP stuff before we got together, so it wasn’t a shock. It’s not something secretive and shameful that he confessed when it was too late for me to back out. There’s no need to ring Jeremy Kyle. No. I went into the whole thing eyes wide open. Four times a year I accept that  I will lose him to long weekends of thermal vests, frock coats and pop up tents. It is on the strict understanding that I never, ever have to go with him. As you know I believe camping is God’s way of telling you to buy a house, so that, coupled with my loathing of acting is my idea of a weekend of hell. As if bank holidays weren’t traumatic enough.

As far as the frock coats go. You may recall that it used to be fur and leather jerkins, but he got promoted to the head of the bank in recent times, so now it’s all top hats and ruthless transactions. I say the bank. It’s not like a bank, bank, where you get trapped behind an old lady with a tartan shopper who wants to change forty quid’s worth of tuppences into shillings. It’s a magical bank, obviously. And you’re more likely to be queueing behind an elf or a werewolf who wants to bank four potions and a totemic item of great magical worth. Given the rate at which high street banks are closing I feel that he could easily move into our local Nat West, which is due to shut any day now, and combine both magical and regular investments. It would certainly make day to day banking more fun. As long as when you’ve deposited your earnings/ring of power you can go back home to your nice, warm house with central heating and carpets, obviously.

So while he was offering mortgages to trolls, what did we do to amuse ourselves over the long weekend, here in boring, workaday Leicester?

Well, I continued in my bid to be a life long professional invalid by trapping a nerve in my neck, which necessitated napping on the sofa with ice packs festooned about my person. I also upped the menopausal flushes and have been promoted from just ear flushes to full facial flushes which have been waking me up when the neck pain hasn’t. These flushes last on average a couple of minutes at most, but are frequent and occur mostly in the night, which means I am now slightly bug eyed and highly over caffeinated.

Despite this, I gamely soldier on (see the being British thing above), and have cooked, cleaned and gardened. I wasn’t going to clean, but thanks to Tallulah throwing up all over her own feet at half past two on Sunday morning, and the cat, so excited that we were all up and rolling around in sick, joining in by depositing a huge, stinking pooh in the utility room, I felt the need.

It was, all things considered, quite reminiscent of when the children were all small and I spent every waking moment, of which there were too many, coated in sick, pooh and snot. Jason, when he got home from his LARP weekend, was waxing lyrical over some people who had brought along new babies to the event. He looked quite misty eyed and broody. I, on the other hand, looked wild eyed, filthy and horrified. It was the first time since the whole menopause malarkey I’ve been truly grateful for my lot as a barren womb.

 

 

The price of health

In my youngest days I spent all my money on sweets and comics. In my younger days I spent all my money on booze and music. In my early middle age I spent all my money on theatre tickets and books.

Now, in middle middle age I spend all my money on vitamin supplements and unguents.

Gah.

In an attempt to stave off widow’s hump, osteoporosis, setting myself on fire with the sheer dryness of my own skin, forgetfulness, melancholia and the scrofulous itch I have to date purchased:

Vitamin E tablets. I have a theory that this will oil my joints. This is not borne out by anything other than my belief that this sounds like it should be true.

Turmeric tablets with added pepper (I know I could eat it in its powder form but am afraid of a) sneezing, b) choking, c) burping up clouds of turmeric all day and d) all of the above.) I take this and think of the cook in Alice, thus giving myself the ear worm ‘Speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes.’

Ginkgo Biloba. This was newly purchased today when my friend told me that it helped her mum remember stuff. I saw a ginkgo tree yesterday. I am now wondering whether if I’d nipped over and given it a bit of a lick, I’d have had a better day yesterday. Also, as an aside, the word ginkgo reminds me of a type of lizard. The distant cousin of the gecko, but where the gecko can’t remember its own name, the ginkgo can recite the phone book, backwards.

Omega 3 tablets. I hope this will help oil the joints the the vitamin E tablets don’t reach and also, in the manner of Jeeves, help give me superior brain power. Hopefully the superior brain power will be aided by the Ginkgo Biloba which will help me remember that I have that superior brain power.

Magnesium Citrate tablets. This has something to do with helping me sleep apparently. Not that I seem to need any help on this front. I can’t keep awake, but it stops me worrying that I might wake up, so that’s good. Instead of worrying about being awake I worry about taking the tablets which are so huge they could be hollowed out and used as canoes. Every time I swallow one I feel like a python that’s just swallowed a sheep.

Vitamin D tablets. This is to stop me crumbling like a vampire on the receiving end of Buffy’s Mr. Pointy.

I also have some hypo allergenic shower gel my mum gave me, plus one I bought that a friend recommended. These are rather strange and when I am applying them I am reminded of that bit in the Victoria Wood as Seen on TV sketch where she is the cross channel swimmer and she sits on the pebbles, smearing herself with lard. I did check the ingredients. No lard was involved in the making of these items, but they are lard like. It may be vegan lard.

I have a tube of cream to apply to my ageing skin the name of which I cannot remember (damn you, Ginkgo) but which everyone told me was fab. I alternate this with fractionated coconut oil, which everyone told me was also fab, but which makes me very slithery and which, to me, smells rather like old pennies. I have no idea what the ‘fractionating’ of a coconut entails and am now concerned that somewhere there is a warehouse full of women in hair nets dividing coconuts up into infinitesimal segments for money. I could never do this job. I am hopeless at maths. The coconut also reminds me of a brilliant thing I saw on Moose Allain’s Twitter feed at the weekend where he asked people to send in lies that they had convinced people were true, and a lady said she had convinced her children that coconuts were bear’s eggs.

As an aside, my two favourite convincing lies were a) a woman who said her husband had made her believe a female clown was called a clunt and b) a woman called Ann who had a twin called John, and when they were small she had convinced him that his coat was called a Johnorak because hers was called an Anorak.

Anyway, back to my final product of the list. This I did not buy. This is something Amazon Vine offered me for review, and given my current physical state, I snapped up. Now as a disclaimer, I am not one for beauty products, particularly ones that claim to reverse ageing, help you find the holy grail, turn you into Claudia Schiffer etc. However, times are hard and things are rough and I felt, given that it was free, I should try a small bottle of black liquid which it says has black diamond and retinol in it. I have never seen a black diamond. I suspect it is code for ‘coal’. I have no idea what retinol is. I wonder if it is elderly people’s eyes all ground up. I know not. Anyway, if you’re not getting it for free  it is normally twenty million guineas an ounce, and I would never, ever, ever buy it, so I thought I should try it and see what all the fuss was about.

Well, so far, and I’ve only used it twice, the fuss is about absolutely nothing.

The instructions are alarming. They say to only use it three times a week and to work up to using it daily if necessary. I have used it twice to no avail.

It says that I must only use a pea sized amount per time. This is very irritating as it is a liquid which is dispensed through a dropper, so I have used more of a pea soup sized dribble, which may or may not be one of the reasons why after two goes I am not experiencing miracles.

It says that I must not, under any circumstances get it near my eyes, my lips or sensitive skin areas. This means I am basically reduced to dabbing it near my jowls. It would at this rate be hard to see any improvement whatsoever given that you basically wave it over a millimetre of skin once a month under a full moon. Although at the rate of use it does explain why only Rupert Murdoch could actually afford to buy it more than once. The one bottle will last you about forty years, so if you spread the cost out, it’s quite reasonable, all things considered.

It claims however that it will ‘resurface’ my skin.

Is it me or is the term ‘resurface’ in relation to the word ‘skin’ quite a poor choice? Roads get resurfaced. Playgrounds get resurfaced. Skin, hopefully, does not need resurfacing. Mine may be dry but it isn’t full of pot holes and bus lanes.

Anyway. I am being very diligent, beavering away at the coal face of health. I am rattling with pills, oozing along with all my oils and creams, and spending so much time resurfacing myself it’s a wonder I have time left to lock myself in the downstairs loo and cry at the sad bits of my book.

Never fear though, despite my zeal, the old me is reasserting itself against all the health by eating Bourbon creams and drinking too much coffee. I’m not going down without a fight.