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January Expletives Continue

I am supposed to be in London right now. Daniel Kitson is doing a gig at the Battersea Arts Centre tonight and I have had tickets for months. I was supposed to be hanging out with Alex and Connor and Andrea, some of my favourite people in all the wide, wide world, seeing one of my most favourite performers in the wide, wide world.

Instead I am here, in my pyjamas, nursing a cold and having spent several hours this morning writing to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Health, because the way that University Hospitals Leicester are choosing to treat my ongoing gynae issues is belittling, shaming and at times, downright fictitious. So that’s good news for women everywhere, and me in particular.

I don’t get colds very often. I don’t have time what with gynae excitement, menopausal misery and stress related exhaustion from carrying the woes of the world on my shoulders. It seems however, that as January is the month that keeps on giving, it decided to give me a streaming nose, sore ears and a throat and chest that have been lightly sanded but yet to have the final coat of varnish. I feel rather like I am carrying a small homunculus on my chest. It’s not a great look for me.

It’s also very sad that we have run out of biscuits and snacks, and were it not for the fact that I found an emergency panettone kicking about in a cupboard I would be pulling out my plumage, feather by feather.  As it is, I have drunk 423 glasses of water and eaten quite a lot of Italian sponge cake, which is keeping me going.

According to my last blog I was about to go and see the head at Tallulah’s school to take her to task for their dick moves about her skirt. Luckily she seemed a really nice lady (she is new, poor woman), and she fully acknowledged the dickishness and apologised for it and suggested some things they could do to make sure that this does not happen again to Tallulah or any other girl at the school (I am not excluding boys. It’s just it’s an all girls’ school).

I was super impressed and managed to remain calm and equable at all times. We have various CAMHS meetings next week to make sure we have done everything we can to ensure that she’s being properly supported from now on. When the systems work, they are magnificent.

And I would like to point out that there is nothing more disarming, even when you’re in a frothing rage, than someone saying, ‘Yep. Sorry about that. We really buggered that up. Shall we look at how to fix it?’ Genuinely, it’s like magic. If only the hospitals could bring themselves to do it from time to time instead of passively aggressively saying sorry not sorry and implying that you are some kind of deluded harridan and it’s not their fault that your uterus fell out on their shoe.

Also Tallulah did well in her mocks, which considering what she is going through, is mightily impressive and means that were she to be firing on all cylinders she would probably own her own island somewhere and be running it with scary efficiency and a lot of aptitude. I’m warning you all in advance. It will happen.

I got home feeling tired but chipper that things were going well. Shortly after that I got a call from Bread (Tilly’s boyfriend) who was rather upset because he had a nasty rash and had just coughed up a load of blood. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he is on annual leave, which just proves what a massive pain in the hole January is.

Anyway, I saddled up my trusty steed, zoomed across town in rush hour, picked him up and zoomed all the way across town again to go to the only walk in centre that the CCG haven’t de-commissioned (only because it’s not in their area, otherwise I’m sure that would be but a distant memory too). We sat for two hours, which was not bad, considering, and then he got diagnosed with a chest infection and hand, foot and mouth disease.  Hooray! I have put up the plague bunting and fumigated the curtains.

We went to the pharmacy, picked up his prescription and toiled across town again. We were starving hungry and stopped at MacDonalds’ whereupon it declined my card and Bread had to rescue me so we didn’t get mowed down by a group of angry customers furious with me for slowing up their ability to buy chicken nuggets. It was one of those moments where I nearly cried in public, but managed not to. Go me. Broken by my inability to buy a banana milkshake.

I dropped him off, stuffed down my dinner wrapped in my coat, sitting amongst the debris of Tilly’s house, and headed home. By the time I got in, it was half past ten and I allowed myself to properly cry all over everything, because really it was a bit much, all things considered.

In better news, I went to art class yesterday and did a painting I was really happy with, and spent two hours thinking about paint while nobody cried on me, asked me about medicine or sexual politics or made me look at a spreadsheet. Also there were no cats. So that was lovely. As was spending a couple of hours after class catching up with Kim over coffee, because I have not seen her properly since before Christmas and that was far too long.

By last night I was feeling super poorly. So poorly that I ended up watching Rick and Morty with Oscar. He was surprised at my interest until I told him that I had just sat down and hadn’t got the energy to get back up again. If I were a twelve year old boy I could totally see the allure of Rick and Morty, but as a 46 year old with a cold, there are too many poop jokes, and I say this as a woman who rates scatalogical humour quite highly.

Despite feeling deathly, I still managed to cook dinner, wash up, sort out the cats and drop Tallulah at her sleepover before I gave in to the lure of bed.

This morning I had to get up because the dishwasher chaps were coming. I cleared all the surfaces, sorted out more cats (I swear they are proliferating) and emptied all the cupboards they’d need access (the dishwasher men, not the cats. They need access to everything apparently) to before they arrived. I managed to do it because God love them, they were giving me a new dishwasher, and apart from my art class, it’s the best thing that’s happened this week. It’s not that I mind washing up. I’m not too posh to roll my sleeves up. It’s that I mind washing up what everyone else ‘forgets’ and I mind harder, re-washing what everyone else has supposedly already washed when I pick it up to put it away and find food welded to every surface. If I ever do run away to the Chattering Order of St Beryl’s, they will all die of botulism in a week.

Tilly has been today and her and Jason have emptied some more of her room and put some things that have been lurking on the landing in the loft, and taken some things that have been lurking in the loft, out. Jason bought a new printer and fitted it, and what with one thing and another it seems that things might be improving, bit by bit. Jason also has a plan regarding the damp in her room, and I am glad about that, but also not very interested in it. My question was ‘will my house fall down?’ When the answer was, ‘no’, I forgot to listen thereafter, but I am very grateful that I don’t have to think about it myself.

And now I’m going to drink my 424th glass of water and eat some more cake, because it’s good for what ails ya.



Oh FFS January

It is my belief that this week has been sent as a warning from the future as to what life will be like during the zombie apocalypse, and really, I’d like my money back please. I know that the quiz I took on Facebook six years ago said I’d definitely survive the longest in a zombie apocalypse, but at this stage I’ve decided I’ll just take the sweet release of death immediately, thanks.

I have an appointment to see the head teacher tomorrow afternoon about Tallulah and what happened on Friday. The school not only handled it appallingly on the day, but compounded that with their follow up attempt to make light of things and pretend everything is fine and dandy really and all a bit silly and whoops, there go my bloomers.

In the meantime things are not fine and dandy at home, nor are they a bit silly and whoops and Tallulah, and by extension us, are having grim times. I ricochet between being livid and grief stricken. Last night she was so stressed she couldn’t sleep and I sat up with her half the night.  Still, at least I didn’t have nightmares again, because I didn’t have time.  I predict little sleep tonight too, given that she gets her mocks results tomorrow.

They say sleep is for the weak. Personally I think it’s for the lucky.

I had about four hours sleep last night and the tetchiness which featured heavily in my last post is now a dull, roaring lack of patience with everyone and everything that is making me want to run about sticking pins in people’s eyes, shouting ‘NO’ very loudly at anything passing within three feet of my face.

Tilly is still moving stuff even though she has moved out bodily.  She is exhausted and tearful and her room seems to contain an entire department store’s worth of things, but which are of no real practical use in a house. We are seeing quite a lot of her at the moment as she appears, fills a box with doll legs, pictures of vaginas and half melted candles, fills my car with said items, and then we trundle off to her house to strew them around the downstairs, which is the only habitable bit. Rinse and repeat.

You can now see some floor in her room, and maybe, soon, we will be able to take a builder in to look at the giant damp wall without having to pay them danger money and offer vaccinations.

I am thinking of burning her carpet, or donating it to science. There could be something in there that could knock MRSA on the head and make my fortune.

Oscar has an ingrowing toenail that has gone manky. I am thinking of trying to fix it by rubbing it on Tilly’s carpet. The poor child is no bother other than that, except for the fact that he has announced that he wants to go to drama school and if that means boarding school, so be it, and he’ll help pay for it. I have parked that idea until the weekend because I have very little bandwidth for the Italia Conti Stage School or the Swindon School of Mime and Balloon Modelling or whatever it will be, right now. Clearly he is serious, and must be taken seriously, but first I have to deal with his sisters and the cats, and make sure his foot doesn’t fall off.

The cat situation remains fraught. When I finally got some sleep on the sofa at two this morning, the three cats followed me to tell me how hard done to they were and ended up having a scrap on the rug, which did not endear them to me at all.  Normally I am a peace maker of the feline world, and offer soothing words and encouragement.  This morning I offered some choice expletives and ejected them forcibly to sort it out for their bloody selves. When I woke up they all had limbs and fur, which was lucky, as a vet run would have put the tin lid on things.

My Mac did temporarily do a little die today too, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It led to me weeping into the Lyonnaise potatoes I was making for tea because frankly, if I can’t pour out my woes into the ether I will go stark, staring mad.  Luckily my husband is a genius and was able to do some kind of technical jiggery pokery, and here I am, woe pouring like a good ‘un.

On a positive note:

Scarlett came and cleaned my house for me, which saved me from torching it. I love her. It is her last week next week, as I am trying, in amongst all the chaos of my life, to budget, and make an economically viable life, which entails fitting in scrubbing my own toilets and not acting like Lady Muck any more. So I’d say Scarlett is definitely a positive, but there are sad undertones which cannot be ignored.

I went to Clubbercise yesterday again. I still fucking hate exercise. I mean actively loathe it. I do not get endorphins rushing about my persons afterwards. I do not get a glow of smug satisfaction that I have exercised despite myself. I get fiercely angry and chunter all the way home.

Also, the sound track is too R&B influenced.

Also blowing whistles and whooping is encouraged. I found, even when I went clubbing, back in the day and was off my tits, that someone blowing a whistle into my ear for eight hours was definitely not conducive to me loving them and more conducive to me wanting to punch them in the face, but not really being quite bothered.  Without the drugs and the drink however, the punching in the face thing becomes more pressing, the more whistling that happens.

The positive is that I went, and didn’t ram a whistle down anyone’s throat.  The other positive is that I have made my mind up to do Clubbercise at home, where I can control the soundtrack and nobody will blow a whistle in my ear whilst doing the fucking grapevine.

These positives aren’t really very positive, are they? I should try again.

My mum came to see me today and we ate too much cheese, and some excellent cake and that was lovely.

I took my dad to see Stan and Ollie at the cinema as part of his birthday present, and apart from an overly enthusiastic man with a pint of bitter practically sitting on dad’s knee so we had to move, it was really nice.

I joined The Pottermore website (Yes. I know. I am a late adopter. What of it?) and The Sorting Hat sorted me into Gryffindor, although to be honest, on today’s offerings you know in reality it would have put me in Slytherin.

I am reading Celeste Barber’s Challenge Accepted. If you haven’t seen her stuff on Instagram or Facebook, you really need to. She’s wonderfully funny, and her book is saving my sanity.

What little bit of it there is left.




More Fucking Kindness – RAWR

Hello Monday my old friend. By friend I mean bastard.

Let’s start with good things. I saw my friend Jenn, who I have been trying to see for some time. I failed so comprehensively at this that she took pity on me and turned up on the doorstep. I’m so glad. I missed her face.

My brother came to see me and I took him out for his Christmas present, which was lunch at Pho in town. It was just us, and we could take our time and please ourselves and  very nice it was too. I only owe him about twenty more meals now, so I’m glad I managed to tick one off of the long list of IOUs. By the time we’re in our eighties, we should be about square.

Derek is slightly less hysterical about the kittens roaming the uplands all the time. I say slightly less, you’d need a micrometer to actually gauge it, but I am choosing to be positive, and I think her language is becoming a little more ladylike.  I do not think they will ever be paws round necks, cute Instagram content.  The best we can hope for is that Derek gets entirely bored of sitting in a corner hissing like an old steam kettle, and  simply pretends they don’t exist.

They still think that she is the most gawgus and essitin lady they haz ever met and just follow her around moonily wanting to just stroke her delishus fur, jus for a minute maybe mightbe.

That’s when she tells them to fuck off.

I am less twitchy about the whole thing now I know she probably won’t eat them.

Tallulah had a better day at school today. She got a reply to her email from the head teacher and is going to see her tomorrow morning. I am still on stand by in case I have to go down there and bring down the wrath of the gods on everyone. I have been flexing my smiting fingers. POW! POW! PEW PEW! ZAP! etc.

Events of Friday were rather overtaken by a huge fight kicking off in the dining room at lunch time. Not at Pho. At school.  Also not anything to do with Tallulah, thank goodness.

I suspect this is what happens when you sequester hundreds of teenage girls in a building and shout at them for four years about the importance of passing exams nobody except your sixth form will ever give a shit about. It’s a bit on the pressure cooker side of things there at the moment.

I did not sleep well last night. I was rather exercised about how Tallulah would do today and had nowhere to put the tension except screaming nightmares. Poor Jason spent a lot of his night waking up with his hair on end and soothing me back to sleep.  I don’t remember much about the waking bits when this happens.  I do remember much about the dreams.

On the sleep front, I have been trying to get up in a more orderly fashion since I committed to working with more discipline.  I have been setting the alarm and attempting to get up when it goes off like actual real people do. I had a modicum of success with this until last Friday when I set the alarm for 7.00 a.m. Apparently I did ‘wake up’ because when Jason said; ‘Why the fuck did you set the alarm so early?’ I said: ‘So I can get some more sleep,’ turned it off and started snoring. He got up instead of me and was quite grumpy when I finally surfaced at half nine. I can’t think why.

So I am very tired today. Very tired and somewhat tetchy. Everything is scritching at me like the mice in the wainscot a la Mariana of the Moated Grange (why, why does my brain remember things like this but not how to do, say, tax returns?). I found myself reading a tweet by someone who said she was sick of women writing articles about nice things like how much solace they take in their friendships, and how nature has saved their mental health, and where is the edge and the grit? And I found myself grinding my teeth and shouting.

Because, lady, LADY! I say, this with my finger wagging.  When you live constantly on the edge, and your whole fucking life is full of grit, and your eyeballs scratch with tiredness and your bed has rocks in, and your mind tumbles all night long whether you are awake or asleep, and you are always perilously close to the edge of a nervy B (thanks Georgia Nicholson) and everything seems fragile and ephemeral, maybe kindness and friendship and nature are pretty fucking radical concepts.

Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought about the fact that if you have to put one more brave face on it, or style something out, or pretend that that doesn’t hurt, or that your heart isn’t aching in your chest every fucking moment of every fucking day, because really why does the bus driver need to know that, that you might scream? Have you ever thought that if you have to find some mordant, dark wit in something that is actually tearing into your soft parts like knives because if you don’t you think you will just fall into a thousand quivering pieces there on the floor, that maybe you don’t need any more of that edgy shit?

I’ve been living with shocking mental health since I was seventeen years old. At that time I learned, for better or worse, that there wasn’t really a lot of softness in the world for people like me. There was a lot of ‘have you done exercise/taken vitamins/meditated/pulled your fucking self together/taken pills/got help/shut up.’ There was a lot of that.

And because I had done all those things and still felt mad, there wasn’t anything else to say about it. So I learned to fill in the silences with funny stuff, and edgy stuff, and angry stuff, and self flagellating stuff that became flagellating other people because it was easier and it gave me a brittle carapace to hide behind.

But what I didn’t learn until much, much later, when I had children of my own, was that what mostly works is the stuff you’ve taken the piss out of all those years you were pouring salt into the wounds and edging it.

What mostly works is kindness, generosity, friendship, care and thoughtfulness, to yourself and others. Nature, not so much. Not for me, but for others, sure. For me, cooking, reading and writing works instead. Not going out every night drinking so that I can pass as normal, that works for me too, these days. Staying at home, learning to be myself, learning to be by myself, only going out if I want to instead of going out in case I miss something. Learning to love myself enough to value who I am and not who I think I might want to be when I grow up, only noticing the lack.

Boring things that are not dark and clever. They’re simple, familiar, connecting, kind.

What I also learned is that those things are not really fluffy at all. They’re really fucking hard.  It’s really balls out brave to be kind to yourself, to be nice to other people, to share what you have, to take care of yourself.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, and it doesn’t mean that people can take advantage of you, not if you do it right.

So, I wanted to say all that to that woman, because I am tired, and vulnerable and on edge, and I felt like taking it out on someone.

And then I didn’t. Because she probably didn’t mean it like that. It’s not a good medium to express yourself in. And I am not unaware of the irony of bawling someone out about mutual kindness. I’m fairly sure that she meant that women should be allowed to write dark, visceral journalism, and I don’t disagree.  I do think there’s room for journalism about kindness and saving each other with love and friendship too, though.

And the other reason I didn’t was because I was being kind, but not to her. I was being kind to me. Because I don’t want to be that brittle, angry person any more. And that isn’t easy, because I’m really good at being that person. I’ve been being that person for about thirty years now and I’ve got her off to a fine art, but it is possible to change. My daughter has been showing me that over the course of our adventures together over the last year, so I’m going to give it a go.





The Light in the Dark

I just finished reading The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare.  I bought it from Booth’s Bookshop in Hay last weekend. Booth’s is one of those very, very splendid bookshops that you want to run away to forever. It has a delicious cafe (and a cinema at the back round the corner), deep leather sofas and lots of nooks and crannies for reading in. It has new books at the front and then about eleventy bajillion second hand books everywhere else. It has that knack that some bookshops possess of making books you never dreamed you would buy become incredibly appealing. I always go in there with a clear idea of what I want to buy and come out with something I had never heard of but which exerted its siren song upon me.

Hence Horatio Clare.  It is everything it promised in its beautifully designed, silvery cover. Clare wrote a diary over the days of last winter, trying to shore up the ruins of his increasingly fragile mental health across the dark days when hope seemed harder to find. He looks for solace in the landscape, in his family and in his work. His writing style is poetic and the way he captures the natural world is just breathtaking.

15 December

‘In high pressure the air itself seems to recede, as though the cold fires of the stars and the moon draw further away, leaving a vast, deep bowl of freezing, exhilarating space. The early mornings with their slow dawns are beautiful. There was a brush of frost, then two days later a white freezing. At daybreak the meadow below the lane was frosted, leaving a handsome dark border, unfrozen, running under the trees where the field reaches the beck.’

This is not a how to deal with poor mental health manual. It is the story of one man, figuring things out for himself, finding the things that matter to him, the things that make him want to keep holding on, the things that offer kindness and generosity and beauty when life so often feels brutal and cruel and bleak.  I loved it.

These are the books that work for me. I don’t really like self help manuals. I have always found the most profound, life changing ideas in books that don’t profess to change your life or make you thin, or make you a better person. These are the books that depress me, that make me feel inadequate, that make me feel like I am still at school and still not quite ‘getting it’.

The books that sing, that soar, that make my heart beat faster, tears prick in my eyes and speak to my soul are everywhere else.  They’re the books where people open doors to worlds that I have never seen before, or perhaps even better, never thought about like that before.

Clare’s book shows me winter through his eyes. It shows me new words to describe things I have seen and deleted because I didn’t have the language.  It gives me a new way to see and think and speak. It is generous and vivid and appealing. It is the best of what reading can do for us, for me.

This is what books give me. This is why books are so important to me, particularly in these difficult days when new experiences and feelings pound into me with relentless intensity and I feel I am constantly running to catch up. I don’t have time to invent a new language, but I can draw on what others offer to me in books.

I think about when my children were small and they were learning language. Needless to say, in our house, they picked up speech quickly. They were constantly surrounded by it. We didn’t have much problem with the Terrible Twos and on reflecting on it, I think this had to do with language acquisition.

Frustration, anger and fear can often come from feeling things for which we don’t have adequate words to express. I think it’s profound when children are small because they need all language, no matter how prosaic. It’s just as difficult for them to ask for a banana as it is for them to tell you about their heart wrenching ennui. We perhaps forget, as we get older that we do not stop growing and learning, that new experiences come upon us all the time, and if we do not expand our lexicon, we can find ourselves just as frustrated and fearful and angry as we did when we were small and we didn’t have the words.  So I am very grateful to Clare for offering me some new ones.


Saturday Brain Dump

Isn’t January massive, hairy bollocks?

I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do yearn for the ability to hibernate like a tortoise of yore. None of this modern nonsense of sticking me in a fridge. Pop me in a comfy box with some bedding, paint my name on my back, tie a note to my wrist giving me the basics for when I wake up feeling a bit groggy, and let me sleep until spring please.

I shall try to be fair before I start moaning.  The week has had some excellent bits and some terrific people in it. I re-started my water colour classes with my friend Kim and had a wonderful time flinging paint around. I ate a lot of panettone. I got Ella Rusbridger’s Midnight Chicken in hardback. These were all marvellous things. My mum had her second cataract op and can now see in stereo. Celebration is in order. I ate a Mr Whippy as big as my face.  I had the very rare (these days) pleasure of taking both my daughters out for lunch, and a real pleasure it was.  I saw my splendid friends Alex and Connor, who I simply do not see enough and it was wonderful to catch up with them, and realise I’m going to see Daniel Kitson with them next weekend as well.

Work wise I have sold some things, which I did not expect, because it is January and everyone is broke. I have almost finished the first draft of the spreadsheet of doom. Things could be worse.

On the other hand, my dishwasher is still dead. It is most definitely an ex dishwasher. A new one is being delivered next weekend. The children are horrified about how regularly washing up appears in the sink. I am particularly enraged by the fact that they will wash up their own pots, but carefully leave any others that happen to be in the sink. Not their problem. Had I done this when they were growing up they would probably be in care right now.

Jason thinks he has fixed the printer. I don’t like to say. I’d prefer to think it’s more like a work in progress.

We have discovered damp in Tilly’s room. You think we would have known about this before, but that is because very few people know Tilly’s living habits. She has not so much packed her belongs to move out as excavate. We found the damp under several layers of other things. It will need a builder to look at it.

On that front, she moved out on Thursday. Loads of her stuff is still here, and she has only moved ten minutes drive away. Nevertheless, I cried all the way home from taking her on a shopping trip on Thursday evening and leaving her at her house. I am happysad, which is one of those devilishly difficult emotions that are really confusing.

Tallulah had CAMHS for the first time in a month on Thursday. It was difficult. I’m not about to say any more about that, but Thursday was quite the day what with one thing and another.

On Friday, Tallulah was pulled out of class by a teacher who said that her skirt was too short. Tallulah said she would change it over the weekend. The teacher said that it was not good enough and that her skirt length could be ‘disturbing’ for male teachers. She was then stuck in a class room for 30 minutes, crying, and not allowed out until she agreed to wear trousers from the lost property box.  I am so angry on so many different levels about this, particularly given that she has been wearing this skirt at school since last September. I can’t decide if I’m more furious about the blatant sexism and double standards or the fact that given her CAMHS situation, which the school know about, this was possibly the worst way ever to resolve this.

On a positive note, Tallulah has dealt with this marvellously and is challenging the school herself over this and has asked me to step back unless she needs me.  This is amazing and I am so proud, and at the same time, I have nowhere to put my rage and want to go about smashing things with pokers and raging against the system. Instead I am writing some neat paragraphs about it here instead.

Let’s move on.

Clubbercise was not as grimy and Nineties club scene as I had hoped. In the back of my mind I suspected it might be this way. Basically it was aerobics with a better sound track and the lights turned down. I hired my glow sticks because I wasn’t sure about committing to the class and buying my own. Unlike the old days when you snapped them to get them to work, these had batteries and four settings that you operated with a button. Turns out that if, like me, you are constantly behind, can’t get your arms and legs to do different things and can’t tell left from right, you can always turn your glow sticks off in mid fling. I spent much of the hour in the dark, both literally and metaphorically. I may go again. It’s probably good for me. I do bloody hate exercise though.

And I am not going to like it the way you do it, unless the way you do it is to sit in an armchair with a biscuit. I would like to think I would like it the way you do it, but all evidence points to the absolute contrary. I’m looking at the evidence here. After all, I’m the kind of woman who makes spreadsheets now.

Cat taming has proved surprisingly exhausting, but more successful than I anticipated. Much like the printer I am dubious about committing to this and feel that it is very much a work in progress.  Having said that, we started the week with Derek intermittently agreeing to sit in the same room with the kittens as long as she could hiss like Fenella the Witch from Chorlton and The Wheelies (now there’s a niche Seventies reference for you). Today she has spent most of the day in the house with the kittens, and only boxed Ronnie P’s ears once, although her language is shockingly bad and she still hates them.  My blood pressure is through the roof, I burst into tears while making toast and I have a really twitchy eye, but all cats are currently alive and in proximity to each other. This is a victory, right? I feel I shall never take up being Chris Packham when I grow up. Animals are a massive pain in the hole.

I have finished reading Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen. They are very good on gender politics and the queer experience and I learned a lot, not just about fisting. I’m still not sure how I felt about the book as a whole. Enjoyable doesn’t really cover it. It was, like many things I have experienced this week, probably very good for me, but has made me feel quite tired and a bit sad at times, not because they are queer I would point out, just because the experience seems like a never ending battle just to be allowed to exist and that’s shitty and unfair.

Reading has not happened much apart from that. I haven’t really had time, which is a bit sad in itself. I did watch the Victorian Arts and Craft house programme on iPlayer today which was fun. It has made me very grateful that I don’t have to block print my wall paper by hand or spend my day skinning rabbits, so I suppose I should be grateful that my problems really are 21st Century ones.






Conflicted of Leicester

It’s been full on since we got back from Wales.  In fact, within twenty minutes of arriving home, Jason had his face in the bowels of the dishwasher, which had gone tragically wrong while we were away, and I was packing the car with boxes to take to Tilly’s house. It’s been rather like that ever since.

Jason fixed the dishwasher, much to our delight and celebration. Sadly, this morning when I got up it was making a horrible grinding noise and has broken again. I feel a plumber/possible new dishwasher in our future.

I have been attempting to work like a real person since yesterday. It turns out that this is trickier than anticipated for several reasons.

I am still not sleeping brilliantly and have a tendency to turn my alarm clock off in the morning due to the fact that mornings are the best, most delicious types of sleep while waking up every two hours because you’ve had a nightmare or another hot flush during the night is not a delicious kind of sleep.

I am not very disciplined, especially when it comes to entering thousands of things on spreadsheets and I tend to find myself staring, trance like into the middle distance while I am supposed to be deciphering my own cryptic notes/handwriting.

Domestic incidents, such as broken dishwashers and the need to cook dinners will arise. I am busy most evenings this week so my dinner planning has to be done and executed during the day. Currently I am cooking the world’s largest sausage casserole because I have a meeting to go to shortly and when I get back, my house will be full of Dungeons and Dragons people who will all be starving hungry, and I am out again later because I committed to going to a Clubbercise class this evening (I am a fool to myself).

I am, in the midst of this new domestic/work etc discipline attempting to tame cats so that I don’t have to spend my life acting like the cat doorman of a seedy hotel that was once grand but is now very much on its uppers.

I am also trying not to worry about Tallulah who has mock results coming up and CAMHS for the first time in a month this week, or Tilly who is feeling a bit wanting to move out/not wanting to move out. Also, I have taken delivery of Oscar’s drum kit today. Luckily there is a headphone attachment so I am hoping I can drown out any dull thuds.

I am also attempting to be positive about exercise. I really, really don’t want my bones to crumble to dust and become a tiny, comma shaped crone, but I do loathe and detest moving about. I am going to Clubbercise because it sounds like a rave and it’s in the dark, and I am hoping that it will be like going to the Hacienda and not really like going to the gym in a school that smells of Lynx and sweat. I am, as you can see, finding it hard to be positive about exercise.

My house is driving me absolutely crazy.  There is stuff to go in the loft, stuff to go to Tilly’s, stuff to go to the tip. There is stuff that people are not sure what to do with and have just lobbed into an abandoned space in the hope that it will miraculously sort itself out. There is stuff I have listed to sell, stuff that I have not listed to sell yet, stuff that needs repairing. There is just stuff everywhere. The two, warring temptations within me are to a) burn the house down and run away to a convent and b) send everything to the tip/charity shop.  I am resisting both of these, but it is a bit hair pullish. All will be better when Tilly’s boxes are gone and we can make sense of her room. Although that thought in itself is making me want to cry.

I am trying not to beat myself up about my failures and to commend myself for my achievements but I am extremely anxious this week and it’s proving a ceaseless fight.

I am, as you can see, somewhat conflicted.


I have listed things and entered things on spreadsheets. I have sold things. I have updated blog posts and social media. I have bought myself a box file so that I can store receipts and postage proofs not in a huge carrier bag of doom, but in an organised way. This is all good.

I have introduced all three cats to each other in the same room twice today. Once for 25 minutes, once for 3 minutes, but both times without bloodshed or the need to go to the vet. We were all rather pounding of heart, sweaty of palm/paw when it was over, but it was a huge achievement considering that Derek wanted to rip their eyes out and wear their pelts as a Davy Crockett hat a few months ago.

Also, Anorak has decided that I am his best friend and we must go everywhere together. He does not really do cuddles but does do nose booping. We are spending quite a lot of time nose booping and he likes to wind himself about my person whilst purring like a motorboat. This is all very lovely but hampers day to day activities somewhat. Ronnie nearly strangled himself in the blinds in Tilly’s bedroom yesterday. He remains somewhat simple.

I have cooked, both yesterday and today and nobody will starve to death on my watch. I have also used up things in the fridge that were galloping around, knocking on the door to come out. I need to start food budgeting properly, and meal planning properly as our budget is fierce and upon us. I can’t cope with it this week. There are only so many new leaves a woman can turn over before she looks like an agitated flasher in a bush. Luckily for me I have lots of stuff in store cupboards and freezers to depend on this week.

I have emptied the dishwasher and washed all the pots, so that whoever is going to stare into the bowels next, can do so without being speared by a paring knife and covered in yesterday’s meatball sauce.

I have ticked off several really boring but necessary chores.

I also made time for a bit of self care. I went to see my friend Mairi last night for an aromatherapy treatment. I don’t care what you think about aromatherapy, but I went in so stressed I could have pared cheese with my shoulder blades and came out feeling calm and relaxed, so it’s a resounding thumbs up from me. She’s brilliant.

I have read 65% of Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen.  This has proved to be a bit of an eye opener. I now know a considerable amount more about the world of fisting than I ever did, or perhaps wanted to. It’s quite the read. I shall write more about it when I have finished it. I used to want to be a drag queen, but to be honest, on current form I just don’t think I’ve got the stamina.


Away in Hay

I am back from my weekend away in a converted grain silo. It was much more fun than it sounds. It sounds a bit gulagish. I think it’s the word, silo. It’s a bit cold war/bunker/nuclear winter.

Anyway, this was not that kind of silo. This was a lovely silo. It was warm, and cleverly designed and just the right size for two people to lounge about in for the weekend.

All the functional bits are on the ground floor. A galley kitchen, a bedroom, a weeny shower room and a loo with a basin. Upstairs it’s just one big round room with windows looking out over the mountains. We had a sofa each and lots of blankets to snuggle under, and it was great.  There’s hardly any furniture.  There’s hardly any anything much, not even WiFi, but what there is is lovely and well thought out. It sits on a site with a big medieval barn and some cottages you can rent, and some more silos, some small like ours, and one that is two, connected together.  The place is called Cwmhir Court. I am sure that this is a Welsh joke and not an actual, real Welsh word (Come Here Court), but I may be wrong.

It is the same silo we went to back in September. We had rather hoped to do a lot of the things we did in September again, but many of the places we wanted to go were still shut after the frenzy of Christmas. We were a little deflated, but soldiered on bravely and vowed that we will go again when everything we wanted to do is open, which is a very cheering prospect, possibly for my birthday.

On Friday we didn’t get away until late and the drive was a bit challenging, so we grabbed some fish and chips and stayed in and watched the final episode of Luther. I am delighted to say that no grain silos were featured, so I didn’t have to spend the entire night on high alert waiting for a random psychopath to swing out from a hidden panel anywhere.

On Saturday we grabbed breakfast at The Blue Boar Inn. We ate there last time and their breakfasts were so good we went again. I had the veggie breakfast because they do it with hash browns and Glamorgan sausages. These are basically cheese, potato and leek, which is a winning combination. At The Blue Boar they roll them into big dumplings and fry them so they are crispy on the outside and ooze in the middle. This made me very happy indeed. Also they make good coffee and the staff are really nice. You should go.

We did a bit of loping around Hay. I got some good stock for Boostique which I will be listing some time this week. I also went into the most amazing vintage clothes shop which wasn’t open last time we went. The lady who runs it is extremely knowledgeable about her stock and really friendly. She has some exceptional vintage tweed amongst other things. I really fell in love with a huge, pale green duffel coat and a cream and black silk Twenties opera coat, neither of which I could afford, but goodness they were beautiful.

We were feeling a bit on the urban side in the afternoon and wandered into Hereford for a poke around. It’s a lovely city and the cathedral is fantastic. If you haven’t been, you should go and check out the Mappa Mundi.

We were rather tired after all our traipsing about and went back to the silo with lots of snacks to hole up for the evening with our books.  We were up so late reading we slept through breakfast and treated ourselves to Sunday lunch at The Blue Boar instead. It was as good as their breakfasts.

We went to Booths’ bookshop to stock up on some reading material we didn’t need and spent the afternoon back at the silo, reading and napping before wending our way home. It was the perfect way to ease into January proper. Oscar is back at school tomorrow. Tallulah goes back on Tuesday and Tilly is moving into her new house properly this week. My spread sheet beckons and Jason starts his new job. I have also vowed to reintroduce Derek to the kittens in the coming week.  You can see why I needed a break.

p.s. books read over the weekend were:

Normal People by Sally Rooney  Tilly lent me this and I devoured it in a day. It’s a kind of twisted love story between Marianne and Connell, who fall for each other as teens and who live out a complex back and forth love story over about a decade. I thought it was exquisite.

Get Me The Urgent Biscuits by Sweetpea Slight This was entertaining but pretty uneven. It’s the memoir of a woman who worked in theatre for several years both in the West End and at the National.  It’s gossipy and interesting but I wanted more from it than I got.

Mutant Message Down Under: A Woman’s Journey into Dreamtime Australia by Marlo Morgan – I thought this might be a bit like Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines which is magnificent. It wasn’t.

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym – I loved this. Pym is like the British version of Anne Tyler. She is all about quiet, ordinary people who live quiet, ordinary lives but which are rendered vivid and intense by the quality of Pym’s observation. This is about four people who work in an office together and have nothing in common except that they are all of an age where they are about to retire. It’s sharp and witty and sad and funny.