Friday, 30 April 2010

April Book Review

Many thanks to those of you that contributed to the Grand Soup Debate of 2010, I’m pretty sure it will go down in the annals of time.

After the pathetic attempts at reading last month I somehow managed to get my backside into gear and get my reading groove on. A whole 5 books I tell you!! This was greatly aided by a mammoth train journey down to Devon which afforded valuable reading time and also the completion of a book which has been plaguing me for 2 whole months...

This month’s offerings are:

I must be one of the only people on the planet who didn’t see the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s book and I now feel a strong urge to rectify that because this book is the equivalent of being wrapped in a rather large woolly blanket. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to fashion myself a bonnet and call on someone to take tea with me. It’s just lovely and I know some would take that as a criticism but I loved reading every minute of it, it was soothing and comforting and so funny in some places. At times I had to stop and remind myself that it was written in 1858. Incredible that it still has the ability to tickle your funny bone.

Man & Boy
One of those books that I saw in the shops and would pick it up, read the back and then reject it for something entirely different. However readitswapit stepped in and I decided to give it a go.

Tells the story of a guy who gets married, cheats on his wife, wife finds out, wife leaves him, he has to look after small son, grows up and realises the error of his ways. In a nutshell.

It was ok. It kept me reading and I sped through it at a rate of knots so it has that going for it. Is it a keeper? For me personally, no. It didn’t touch me on any other level, other than that it was a good story that made you smile in some places and feel a bit filled up in others. I hate saying this because it sounds horrible but, you know, it’d make a good holiday read. Not much brain power required.

Red Lotus
Not one I’d normally pick up but I’m an absolute sucker for the offer that The Times and WH Smith do. Each week a different book for £2.99 when you buy a copy of The Times. There’s not a chance I can resist that offer. This book was the book of the week a while back.

It’s kind of 2 stories. The first part contains the story of Li-Xia, who overcomes adversity blah blah blah and marries the handsome captain Ben Devereaux. The second part concerns itself with their daughter, the Red Lotus, also known as Siu-Sing. And sometimes it felt like you were reading Part One all over again, just with a few names changed. Yes, Siu-Sing is just like her mother and escapes really similar situations. We. Get. It. Ever heard of labouring the point? Also it went kind of weird at the end and a little bit Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-esque.

Actually despite this I really enjoyed it. Lots of imagery a-plenty in this book and I may well keep an eye open for other books Pai Kit Fai has written. He’s definitely worth another shot I think.

Wolf Hall
Aaaahhh. My nemesis. I started this book at the beginning of time. No wait. It was actually the beginning of March and it has haunted my every waking minute ever since.

Because it is horrible! I actually don’t remember when I last read a book I liked less than this. Any other person would have given up but I hate to admit defeat and will point blank refuse to give up on a book, instead struggling to the bitter end. I started to actually dread going to bed because I knew it would be there, waiting for me, needing to be read. Bleurgh.

I just could not for the life of me get in to it. My friend, who absolutely loved it, said that apparently the Booker Prize judges had given the award based on the style in which she had written the novel. I think they were clearly out of their minds.

Mantel had the incredibly annoying habit of referring to Cromwell as ‘he’ throughout the book, this was so infuriating as there would be points when you would be rendered completely confused going “Who is ‘he’?! Which ‘he’ is she talking about?!” It was horrible. Just horrible. I couldn’t even tell you what it was about. Maybe the confused writing style was supposed to reflect the confusion of the times when you didn’t know what was up or down and things could change at the whim of Henry VIII? Maybe it was just irritating.

I was so disappointed. I mean I guess it must be me because the Booker Prize judges clearly disagreed with me (and obviously they know what they’re talking about. Surely?!) and I know plenty of other people have raved about it but it was horrendous. I would go as far as describing it as an ordeal. Not what you want out of a book.

By the way have you read Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black? That’s very good and not annoying at all.

84 Charing Cross Road
After the horror that was Wolf Hall I needed something a little lighter (both physically and mentally, I had Wolf Hall in hardback and struggled to even lift the damn thing) so I reached for this one. Best choice I could have made. I skipped through this in 3 days, you could sit on a quiet Sunday and get through the whole thing no problem. Wonderful. Delightful.

The book is a series of letters exchanged between Helene Hanff, a writer living in New York and a bookshop situated at, you’ve guessed it, 84 Charing Cross Road. You know what’s good about letters? They are short. You can speed through them at a rate of nobody’s business.

The letters span almost 20 years, from 1949 until 1968. They show an insight into a wonderful friendship between Helene and Frank Doel, the chief correspondent, it is both funny and touching and I will admit to misting up at the end of the correspondence. I can’t tell you what happens or it will spoil it for you.

The 2nd half of the book is entitled The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and documents Hanff’s trip to the UK, which she finally made in the early 1970s. She kept a diary during her month long stay and it is wonderfully written, I found myself there with her, revelling in her insights into the city she had never visited but always dreamed about.

Maybe it was the relief of reading this after the epic that was Wolf Hall but I loved this in to little tiny bits and pieces and would really like to see the film adaptation that was made in the late 1980s.


How to pick a winner?

I think I’ve got to go with 84 Charing Cross Road, although Cranford runs a close second.

5 books in 1 month? Get me. To be repeated next month? Erm....probably not.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Girl vs The Soup

Some time ago Petit Filoux threw down a challenge. I had to fight the Battle of the Soup.

I had made the foolish mistake of revealing that I don’t really like soup. I am aware that this will bring gasps of horror from some of you, it does from most people. “What do you mean you don’t like soup?!” I just....don’t like it.

I don’t mean that I absolutely will not eat it and never let it touch my lips. Just that there is always going to be something I would rather have on the menu.

If I’m in a situation where soup is unavoidable or inevitable I quite like it, it’s not a horrifying experience, it’s just...boring. Maybe it’s that I have a need to chew. If I haven’t chewed then I don’t feel like I’ve eaten anything.

My dislike of soup extended to epic levels when I was in my first year at university. I got my tongue pierced and was warned by the scary man covering in tattoos and metal that my tongue would swell up to twice it’s normal size and I wouldn’t be able to eat anything other than soup.

I kind of wished he’d told me that before he’d shoved a titanium rod through my tongue.

It did indeed swell to twice its normal size, although contrary to popular belief I was still perfectly capable of talking and swallowing. My Mum, who I hadn’t told I’d had it done, asked me if I had a cold one day but otherwise didn’t suspect a thing.

Eating was an issue though. And I even bought lots of soup. I had soup coming out of my ears. But I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Instead I would sit with a sandwich and tear of really small bits of it and then push it to the back of my mouth, letting my molars get some action. It would take me about half an hour but I certainly showed that soup a thing or two.

But Petit Filoux told me I had to make this soup and I’m afraid I can’t turn down that kind of challenge. Plus if I am going to have my life taken over by WW then apparently soup is the way forward. (I should have known that soup and the notion of losing weight would join forces against me one day.)

And if soup is the way forward then this guy is the standard bearer behind which all other soups must get in line.

Red Lentil and Chickpea love

It is very tasty, with more than a kick of spice (I may have gone slightly overboard with the chilli flakes) which is nicely cooled down with a little bit of greek yoghurt. If I had to have a soup then a tomato-based one would be first in line so this baby ticks all the boxes and most importantly, it’s filling. It will fill you up like a....well I don’t know what it’ll fill you up like, but it will.

I was a little daunted by the chickpeas to begin with. I like my soup smooth and most certainly do not like those bloody horrible ‘Big Soups’ with slimy chunks of vegetable and potato in them.


But actually I didn’t really notice them, I didn’t feel like they had a massive impact, I could probably happily make the soup again without them and it wouldn’t be the worse for it.

So I am souping it up all this week at work. The recipe made 4 big bowls, (This is where WW is going to kill me because I’m going to find out that actually I should be having about half that amount) and they are in little individual boxes, ready to make the journey into work to be scoffed down with a bread roll – thus satisfying the mouth’s need to have something to chew.

So impressed was I that I got out the never touched Soup Recipe Book and began tearing up strips of paper with gusto, bookmarking all the soups that I would like to make in the future. I expect this blog will soon be re-named Living in a Soup Bowl.

Has soup ruled victorious and conquered me once and for all?

Not completely. At the moment he serves a purpose so we have come to an uneasy truce. It’ll be a long time before I bow down and kiss his sloppy feet.

But congratulations must go to Petit Filoux (and her boyfriend who I hope now feels calmer about my admission of soup hatred) for making me see the error of my ways and forcing me to confront my demons.

If you would like the recipe (and why the hell wouldn't you after this acesome review?!), then why don’t you have a clickety click HERE.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The thorny issue of weight loss

Once upon a time a girl went out on a date.

She’d met the guy in a bar on a drunken night out, and in a moment of madness given him her number. He asked her out for a date and she hesitated but thought “Why not?”

On the date she asked him what he did for his job and he gave her possibly the worst answer she could have heard...

“I work in a gym.”

Her blood ran cold. How had she managed to end up on a date with Mr Fit?! There hadn’t been any warning signs, he’d looked completely normal in her vodka-induced haze. She was a girl who didn’t do gyms. There had been gym literally outside her flat for 2 years and she could barely muster the effort to go there twice a week. She was a size 16 and fairly happy with it. Yeah she could be slimmer, yeah her muscles could be tighter, but she did ok in life.

She wondered if they could ever really be compatible. If his life was so focused on being fit and healthy and hers really wasn’t, could the two of them ever get along? She didn’t like to think that it could get in the way so she decided it would probably be fine.

She went out with him for a long year and half.

She wanted to be thinner, he said he would help her. He wrote her gym programmes and she went to the gym like a good little gym bunny. She almost got to the point where she enjoyed going.

The problem was the food. She just pure and simple straight up loved it. Any kind of food. All kinds of food. What greater pleasure is there than eating a good meal?

However when the girl was with Mr Fit she constantly found herself feeling guilty. Feeling guilty for eating a big bag of Sensations all to herself. Feeling guilty for ordering the ‘bad thing’ on the menu. Feeling the judgement when she ate something loaded with fat and calories.

She was in short, miserable. Thinner. But less happy.

And then he left her for someone else anyway.

The lesson she learned was that if someone is that focused on that kind of lifestyle and the other person isn’t then the two just won’t work together. She wasn’t prepared to ever be made to feel guilty for enjoying herself when it was doing no harm to anyone else.

Fast forward two years later...

The girl weighs more than she ever has done. She lives with a boy now and understand that that’s the price you pay for being a good little girlfriend and making all the meals and wanting to don a pinny and bake cakes.

But she knows she’s too fat. She knows that even though she’s nearly 5’10” and can secrete the weight about herself much more easily than someone who is 5’5”, that there’s nowhere for the weight to hide anymore.

She’s signed up to the gym but hates going. Now that there isn’t the constant pressure of going out with Mr Fit it’s hard to find the energy to go.

People say to her “You have to lose weight for you” but she doesn’t really know what that means. How do you know when you’re losing weight for you? Are you losing weight to feel more attractive? What is it that makes you think that you are unattractive – is that you want people to admire you? Surely that means that you’re losing weight for other people? Isn’t it their problem if they don’t fancy you? Are you losing weight because it’s a nightmare finding clothes that fit you? Doesn’t that mean you’re losing weight to conform to what Topshop says you should be wearing?

It’s as if society can’t conceive of the notion that you might be happy being a tubster.
Will she become a different person if she loses a few stone? Will that radically change her personality? She hopes not because she thinks she’s a pretty ok person as she is and what faults she does have don’t have anything to do with her thunder thighs.

Will you love her more if she’s a size 12? (She’s realistic, to be any less she’d have to live on licking on celery stalk once a day and miraculously alter her bone structure.) If so then she doesn’t really need you as part of her life thanks.

Do you hang around with her because she’s a nice person and fun to be around or because she can wear skinny jeans?

Will she be a better daughter/sister/cousin/niece/auntie if she has a lower BMI?

It’s all a little confusing.

And then someone says the words she dreads even more than “I work in a gym”. Someone asks her if she wants to join Weightwatchers with them. This girl is Weightwatcher-phobic. She knows that everyone that does it thinks it’s amazing but she also knows a lot of people that have done it and become world class bores, recounting in great detail how many points there are in that slice of carrot cake you’re eating and extolling the virtues of WW’s like brain-washed converts.

She hates the thought of counting points and keeping a track of what she’s eating, it would make food the centre of her life and not in a good way. It makes food an ‘issue’ and not something just to be enjoyed. She has friends that have fallen down the slippery slope of eating disorders and one who still hasn’t made it back up. She’s all too aware of the dangers that come with obsessing about food. Her friend says that she became anorexic because she wanted to gain control in her life, but surely isn’t the disease and the concept of food controlling her? How far of a hop, skip and a jump away is it from counting points? One day you’re counting up to your allowance, the next you’re thinking to yourself, “Hell what if I just took another point off, surely I’d lose more weight? And what about another and another?”

But the girl figures she might as well give it a go.

If nothing else she’ll probably get fuel for some blog posts out of it.

PS For the record. The boyfriend loves me just the way I am. He knows I have issues with my weight and when I mentioned WW he said that if it made me happy then he was all for it.

PPS And another disclaimer. I'm not dissing Weightwatchers here, it's more a general outpouring of thoughts and feelings regarding the whole subject of dieting and weight loss. I am walking into WW with a positive attitude. Really!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tree Project - April

Hey Mr Tree.

So last month I berated you for not really making any progress with the whole spring thing. Then I turn my back for a month and before I know it you're looking suspiciously green.

When the hell did you get leaves?!

Could you not have maybe given me a slight warning? A bit of a heads up so I could have come outside and taken some pictures of the in between phase of having a few random green buds to proper leaves?!
I feel like you're not really taking this whole thing very seriously.

But I'm pleased to see that you've got onboard with the whole spring thing. Those little red berries are finally all withered and dead and instead you have brand spanking new leaves taking their place.

And when I look out of the window you don't look quite as sad as you used to, you've got a bit of colour back in your cheeks. And on Sunday, after we had that crazy random thunderstorm that had the raindrops bouncing off the pavements, and the sun came out, but the sky was still gret, your leaves looked really beautiful against it. Shame I couldn't find my camera for the life of me.

Anyway. Good work Mr Tree. You've made incredible progress in a mere month. I shall expect such high standards from you in the future.

Monday, 26 April 2010

I'll show you productive

A quick check of the calendar last week revealed that this weekend would be the first one I would be spending at home in 4 weeks. That left me with 2 warring factions of my brain;

Side A: Oh my god brilliant you must sit about and do knack all and celebrate the fact that you don’t have to go anywhere or see anyone
Side B: Do not waste this weekend.

The fact is that I’m not really brilliant at just sitting around. Don’t get me wrong I can veg like the very best of them but sometimes I just get a little itchy and don’t like the feeling of just being slumped on the sofa staring blankly at the television. Hence even when I’m watching some incredibly mind expanding programme like The Hills or Hollyoaks, I’m usually doing something else whether it be cross stitch or crochet or, less often, ironing.

I decided to please both sides of the brain. There would be time for vegging but I was determined the weekend would not be completely unproductive.

Saturday included the very boring task of going shopping. For the first time ever I planned out in advance what we would be having for tea this week and needed a few extra bits. Then it was time to make start on a friend’s birthday present.

Her birthday was the day before mine. As in 3rd April. And I saw what I wanted to get her in February. I bought it and congratulated myself on my superb organisation powers. Then I promptly forgot to get around to actually making the damn thing. If only one thing would be achieved this weekend it would be the making of the guinea pig.

Yeah. I bought a little ready to sew up kit and made her a guinea pig. Because she has guinea pigs. And, you know, I’m hilarious.

I’d put this off because I looked at the instructions a while back and nearly gave myself a brain aneurism trying to figure out what in god’s name it was on about. Luckily for me, the boyfriend speaks Incomprehensible Sewing Instructions so he was there to let me know what I was supposed to be stitching to what.

The end result? Probably the funniest gift ever. I don’t know why but every time I look at it I want to dissolve into giggles. Just look at him.

Fred was slightly less than impressed with my efforts but I’m hoping my friend will appreciate it and forgive me for being a month too late.

I thought Sunday was going to be a write off because I had a night on the town on Saturday but I must be getting sensible in my old age because I jumped in a friend’s taxi at midnight, rather than keeping on going until the early hours. (Truth be told I would have carried on partying like a rockstar but there’s one thing you need to know about Hull. There are no taxis. Seriously. There are none. Don’t even think about going out without booking one to come home and even then it most likely won’t turn up.)

Things weren’t looking brilliant on Sunday. I spent the morning lying on the floor where I’d fallen asleep (I was trying to fix my bad back, which hadn’t totally appreciated me going out in 4 inch heels. Tell you what though, alcohol? Best painkiller ever. Didn’t feel a thing all night), watching Hollyoaks and thinking really hard about getting out of my pyjamas.

I had a sudden spurt of energy about 3pm and got my backside in the kitchen where I made Simone's Cherry & Sultana cake. The verdict? So so good. And even better still warm from the oven with a cup of tea. Oh. My. God.

I also made a Spinach & Ricotta Chicken Lasagne which J had featured on her blog a while ago. You have got to try this out. It was beyond good. What’s beyond good? Oh I know....ACESOME. I felt like I’d actually made an effort in the kitchen, I felt most smug with myself, especially seeing as there was an incident a month ago when I tried to make lasagne and it didn’t go well and I may or may not have actually cried about it. I feel I’ve put that ghost to rest now. Pictures? Erm, no because I was shovelling it in my face. AND there’s some in the freezer to have on a day when I’m lazy.

And lastly, I finished another piece for the Embroidering the Truth exhibition. I’m on a roll now people, five completed and 2 more months to go. I’ve actually got so many quotes stored up that I’m going to have to start picking favourites because I’m not going to have time to do them all.

(I overheard this one at the Post Office when a group of girls were talking about a fancy dress party they were going to)
So I reckon that qualifies as the perfect balance. Productive? Yes. Lazy? Yes. (I never did get out of my pyjamas on Sunday. Well technically I did but that was to shower and put them back on again. Yeah I’m kinda gross.)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mission Impossible

Name: Agent Fred

Mission: Wake up The Girl or the boyfriend via the medium of needling their bare skin

Bonus mission: Manage to draw blood

Mission accomplished: 4.30am Saturday. The Girl gets a bleeding chin.

Name: Agent Lily

Mission: Wake up The Girl or the boyfriend via the medium of biting their toes

Bonus mission: Manage to draw blood

Mission accomplished: 6.00am Saturday. The boyfriend gets a bleeding toe.

After getting in trouble for having Fred and Lily last time I decided to be brave and ask permission to have them for a week when Mum went away on holiday. Actually I got the boyfriend to do it because I'm not really that brave.

Anyway they said yes so they are here on their first official 'legal' visit.

The flat is now covered with the layer of fur...

Friday, 23 April 2010

Chinese Whispers - A drama in 2 parts. Part 2

...I switched my phone on again at lunchtime. It immediately started buzzing with text messages.

My cousin had text me to say that she'd spoken to Auntie M about it and told her how pissed off she was with her.

Auntie M had text me to say that she was really sorry about the misunderstanding and she didn't realise and she didn't know what else to say.

Then my Mum had text me asking how my back was today and how word was.


Something wasn't quite right.

So I phoned Mum;

Mum: Oh hi, how's your back [bad actually, I need to fill you on that as well. There really is so much to tell you]
Me: It's pretty bad but not awful
Mum: Right so I'll bring the cats round tonight at about 5pm [GOD I haven't even told you about that have I? Worst. blogger. ever.]
Me: happened with Auntie M last night?
Mum: What do you mean?
Me: Well, Sister rang me saying that Auntie M had called you saying The Boyfriend and I were all but over.
Mum: No she didn't. We were on the phone anyway and I told her that you were having problems with The Boyfriend and she said that yes she'd heard and was really sorry about it.
Me: Right. Yeah. Sister kind of made out like it was a really big deal. Said she had to practically talk you down off the roof and gave me a lecture about relationships this morning.
Mum: Oh god no. It wasn't anything like that.


Thanks so much Sister.

So I then had to text my cousin back and tell her to stop self-flagellating and text my Auntie M back (who by the way is incredibly sensitive and prone to suicide attempts) telling her not to worry, that everything's got a bit out of hand and blown out of proportion.

So basically I had to fix something that I didn't start.

And I end up feeling bad because it's as if I've over-reacted and been awful to everyone.

And I had to go through all this drama and yet not be able to tell The Boyfriend about any of it because I didn't think he'd appreciate knowing that my entire family was talking about our relationship troubles.

And none of this would have happened if I'd followed my normal policy of shut up and keep it to myself.

Lesson learned.

So having witnessed how quickly things spiralled out of control with my family and taking onboard some of your comments about my relationship issues at the moment I feel I need to probably issue a clarification about the state of play.

A clarification

I have been unhappy for a while in my relationship. Nothing major, just one of those nagging feelings in the pit of your stomach or the back of your mind that something isn't right. You know the ones I mean? Not a big deal, you don't feel like you want to jump off a bridge, unsettling feeling.

This unsettled feeling was brought to the fore with the revelation that I was still most likely, kind of, probably in love with an ex - as demonstrated in the Head vs Heart post (who by the way didn't cheat on me, I'm not sure where that's come from, I don't think the post was incredibly clear, probably because my head wasn't.)

To. be. clear.

I am not;

a) Leaving the boyfriend for the ex. Bad at relationships I might be but I've most definitely had enough of my fill to know a bad idea when I see one.

b) Starting up any kind of relationship with the ex at the moment. If I break up with the boyfriend I'm not going to be moving on to anything else.

c) Rushing into any major decisions. I realise that this could be the proverbial 'rocky patch' and everything will right itself and in a year's time I will look back on this and laugh. (Well. Probably not, but you know what I mean.)

So I hope that makes things a little clearer for everybody. Maybe I need to post this round to my family so everybody has the same story and can stop gossiping behind my back.

And now that I've done that I can move on to other things because quite frankly I am sick of hearing myself talking about it and you must be sick of hearing about it.

Done and done.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Chinese Whispers. A drama in 2 parts. Part One

Whilst I was down south staying with my cousin I told her about the relationship woes I’m having at the moment. I didn’t go in to great detail, just said that I wasn’t happy at the moment, I wasn’t sure what was making me unhappy and I didn’t really know how things were going to pan out long term.

I figured that she’d tell her Mum, my Auntie S, because they’re like that. They are kind of gossipy and prone to dramatics, and this would be right up their street. I also guessed that Auntie S would tell her sister, Auntie M, because....well, that’s just what they do.

(A quick note: Auntie M and Auntie S are my Dad’s sisters but they are still very good friends with my Mum.)

Last night I get a call from my sister, something which never happens.

Sister: I need to talk to you when The Boyfriend isn’t there? Can you do that?
Me: Erm, not really seeing as it’s 9pm and, you know, he lives here. I can go in the bedroom, will that do?
Sister: I’ve just spoken to Mum and she’s had Auntie M on the phone telling her that she’s really sorry to hear about you and The Boyfriend and that you’re all but over.
Me: What?! Ugh. Cousin must have told them but it’ll have got exaggerated, you know what they’re like
Sister: Well I’ve practically had to talk Mum off the roof, I’ve persuaded her not to ring you and have a bath instead.
Me: I really can’t talk about this now, I’ll call you tomorrow morning.

I immediately texted my cousin to ask her what the hell she’d told Auntie M because she’d phoned my Mum who was now freaking out. She replied that she’d told her Mum but had told her to keep it quiet.

I spent the rest of the night with my stomach churning. I didn’t understand where things had gone so wrong and hated the thought that my Mum was upset about something. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. Mum knows what I’m thinking, she has that incredibly annoying Mother knack of knowing when something isn’t right and had badgered me to the point where it was just easier to tell her, but I had downplayed the whole situation knowing that she would worry.

So this morning I call my sister:

Me: Right. So. What happened?
Sister: Well Auntie M phoned Mum and said she was really sorry to hear about you and The Boyfriend and that it was all but over.
Me: Yeah well, you know what they’re like. They exaggerate stuff, plus it’s gone from cousin to Auntie S, to Auntie M, to Mum so it’ll have morphed into this massive deal. I don’t understand why Mum’s freaking out so much, she knows all of this anyway.
Sister: Well she cares about you doesn’t she?!
Me: Yeah I know that but....
Sister: So what it is that’s wrong with you?
Me: Well I don’t know. I’m just not happy...
Sister: Well is it because everything’s up in the air at the moment and you’re going to be moving and you’re looking for a job [yeah I need to tell you all about that don’t I?!] and things like that?
Me:...Well yeah...maybe...I’m not sure...
Sister: Because you have to work at relationships you know. God knows I’ve been through enough stuff with _____ and sometimes things get a bit rough.
Me: Yeah. I know...
Sister: I mean and people just care, I mean Mum cares, I care.
Me: Ok. Stop. I know you all care. But this really isn’t that big a deal. I don’t even know what’s going to happen in the future, maybe everything will be ok, maybe it won’t. Even if the boyfriend and I do split up, the world isn’t going to spin off its axis, everything will be ok. And I appreciate that you care but it really isn’t that big a deal.

This is not a conversation I wanted to have at 7.30am.

I do not need a lecture about the fact that sometimes relationships get tough. I’m not a moron. I especially do not need a lecture from someone who most definitely should have left her husband about 10 years ago (but that’s a whole other story).

As soon as I put the phone down I felt a rush of claustrophobia like I’ve never felt before. I ended up having to open the window and stick my head out of it, gulping the air down. I wanted to scream. I was crying. It was such a massive rush of emotions it took me by surprise.

It was just extra pressure that I didn’t need. I am well aware that people will worry about me which is why I tend to not tell them about these things. I’ve actually surprised myself with how many people I have told, I’d normally just think things over myself and then act. I don’t need to know that everyone else is wondering what I’m thinking, I’m the only person that needs to know what I’m thinking at the moment. I don’t even think the boyfriend needs to know what I’m thinking because I don’t know what I’m thinking.

I needed space. If I had the money I’d have got on my jet plane and speeded off somewhere. I feel like everyone’s crowding me sometimes.

I know that they’re just concerned and they want to be supportive but now all I’m conscious of is that they’re wondering what’s going on in my head. So instead of concentrating on working through the contents of my incredibly scrambled brain I’m instead focusing on how everyone else is feeling.

This is why I don’t tell people my business, because of the gossip and rumours that start to spread. I don’t want to be thinking about what Auntie M and Auntie S and my cousin are saying about my situation and I definitely don’t want them talking to my Mum about it.

After the phone call with my sister I switched my phone off. I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. Plus I have, you know, a job to go to and turning up looking and feeling like a mental patient wasn’t what I wanted to do today.

I especially didn’t want to know was what was going to happen when I switched my phone on again in the afternoon...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

So this one time I confronted a man when I was naked...

I recently remembered that I was asked by a few of you about a story I briefly mentioned way back when 2010 was but a mere babe in arms. I published this post listing some of the things that had happened to me in the previous 10 years and I mentioned the time I confronted a man who had broken in to my Mum's house when I was naked.

Now is the time to tell it. Sometimes these stories work way better when you tell them in person rather than writing them down so I hope I can pull this one off.

Many moons ago (ok, it was about 2004/2005) I was living back home with Mum. I had finished my degree and was spending a year saving up to begin my Masters degree the following year. To be honest I never did really save up, I spent more of my time not eating and getting drunk - I've never been thinner or more hungover, it was fabulous.

One night, after finishing work at the cafe, I went out with a friend for a few drinks. I came home not drastically late, I think about 10.30pm. I wasn't steaming drunk, just in that incredibly happy state somewhere between feeling a bit fuzzy and complete incoherence. I took myself off to bed with the aim being to sleep away the inevitable hangover I would suffer from the next day.

I awoke suddenly to the sound of my Mum dashing about in my room. I peered through bleary eyes (I've still never learned to take my mascara off at night) at her. What was she doing? Didn't she know I wasn't back at work until 12pm? Why was she trying to get me to wake up?

As I slowly surfaced to join the world I became aware that she was saying something to me.

"There's a man in the house!!"

There's nothing like a healthy dose of adrenaline to cure a hangover.

Mum had disappeared out of my room after making this revelation and disappeared into hers. Still unsure of what on earth she was on about I decided to follow her.

Now. Sometimes when I've had a bit to drink, the whole notion of getting out of clothes and putting pyjamas on is an idea which is too difficult to comprehend. I'll get halfway through the task and then just give up. Unfortunately, this had been one of those nights.

I scrabbled about on the floor for my clothes and couldn't for the life of me find any. I don't even know what I'd done with the ones I'd taken off but they weren't lying in their usual heap beside the bed. At this point I thought the important thing would be to find Mum, who was still in her bedroom.

I grabbed my single duvet and wrapped it around myself, holding it with one hand at the small of my back and came out of my room. Mum was standing in the door way of her bedroom with the phone in her hand.

"CALL THE POLICE!" She screamed at me.

"What?! You've got the phone, you call them!"

At this point I turned round to see an absolutely enormous man coming up the stairs. He was seriously huge.

I'll never really know if it was the drunk that made me do the following or if this would be my natural reaction. Maybe a little bit of both.

I stood in front of him and pointed my finger in his face.

"Get out of this house immediately" I said, in what I can only describe as my most imperious, regal voice.

He stood looking at me with more than a hint of confusion on his face.

"Go on! Get out now." I was reprimanding him in much the same manner as you would a naughty puppy who had trampled dirt into the house.

Mum told me later that it was the most ridiculous sight she'd ever seen. My hair was all over the place, my backside was hanging out of the backc of the quilt and I was pointing at this ridiculously massive man like Queen Boudicca, commanding him to leave my domain.

He still looked a little confused but started to back down the stairs.

"Right! I'm going to phone the police" I said, and marched into my Mum's bedroom, taking the phone from her and calling 999.

Luckily for us we lived seconds away from a police station and the police were round incredibly quickly. Now dressed, I was at the front door, waiting for them. As I described the man they looked at each other. "We know who he is, he's just walked into the station."

It turned out he was a gurkha, out on a night out from the barracks near to Hull. He'd got ridiculously drnuk and had just decided that our house was his house and had broken in. This would explain the very confused look on his face. Imagine you've come in to what you think is your home, you've climbed the stairs to come to bed and instead you've been faced with two screaming women, one of which is holding a quilt around her, telling you to get out. I kind of feel sorry for him.

So it all ended well. Yes we were supremely lucky that it was a confused drunk personand not a burglar or raging lunatic. Yes Mum was very lucky that I was living with her at the time because God only knows what she would have done if she was on her own. She later told me that the reason she hadn't phoned the police, despite holding the phone in her hand, was that she had literally gone blind with panic and couldn't see the numbers. And yes I have been gifted with the ultimate bravery story that proves that alcohol isn't always a bad thing (unless it means you sleep naked).

PS When I think about it, the above events took place in the space of approximtely 30 seconds, from Mum waking me up to me ringing the police. It might even have been less than that. I guess it's true what they say about time slowing down. It's bizarre how I can remember every, single second of that moment as if it happened yesterday.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Beautiful Blogger Award

What is it with awards that they seem to come in batches? I've been awarded this baby by Taz at Ratbag and Suzie at

Apparently I have to share 7 things about myself. My god I gave you five things in the last blog award - I have nothing left to tell you!

1. My hair is the bane of my life. It's wavy so is that awful inbetween - not straight but not full of bouncing curls. Instead it's all over the place and takes forever to straighten. Plus I'm officially going grey. And I'm not just talking a few strays here and there, I'm talking full on, too-many-to-count-let-alone-pull-out grey. At 27. Depressing.

2. I have a Masters degree in Development Economics. Which I've never used. That was an awesome waste of money.

3. I have my tongue pierced. It's pretty far back so no-one can really see it unless I open my gob wide enough (which unfortunately is quite often). I've been thinking about taking it out but I'm not ready to let go yet.

4. I have been an Auntie since I was 13 and I have 3 nephews. I am dying for a niece and have my fingers crossed that my sister-in-law's current pregnancy is going to end with a girl.

5. I'm not a huggy touchy feely person. Unless you go out with me at which point I transform into a soppy limpet. If you hug me it will be returned tenfold but I am unlikely to initiate a hug. Unless you get me drunk then I'm all up for the love.

6. If money was no option then I'd go back to university and study just for the sake of studying. And history would be first on the list.

7. When I was a small person the first job I ever wanted was to be a police dog handler. Weird I know. I was, and still am, obsessed with German Shepherds and am desperate to one day own one. I think they are just amazing.

Now it's time to pass on the love. I hate this bit. I don't even know how many people I'm supposed to pass it on to so I'm just going to make it up.

BLONDE DESIGN - she is so talented it makes me want to throw up. Go and visit her and buy up all her products immediately. GO!

Heather at Little Tin Bird - Beautiful photos. Beautiful crochet. Just beautiful.

Maria at The Goddess's Kitchen - the food, look at all the food! Just gorgeous, and well deserving of the title Beautiful Blogger for that very reason.

And I'm stopping there. I know. Only three people, pitiful but everyone else always backs out of naming people so I am too. If you would like to take it then please feel free, I'll stop short of saying "But you're all beautiful" because even typing that as a joke made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Running away to the south

There were a few purposes to this weekend;
1. See my cousin and reconnect after a ridiculously long time apart
2. See some old friends
3. Have fun
4. Running away

All 4 outcomes were successfully achieved. If they were written on a list I would have ticked them all off and I’d be feeling a warm glow of satisfaction. (I kind of now wish I had actually written a list. Is it ok to write and list post-event?)

I know running away doesn’t solve anything and you have to face your problems sooner or later but sometimes you can over-think issues and I am most definitely bordering on that at the moment. Sometimes you have to just remove yourself completely from a situation just to give your brain a rest and that was most definitely accomplished.

It would be boring to recount the whole weekend’s activities and there aren’t many photos I can show you. I mean there were plenty of photos taken but very few blog appropriate ones :)

At times like this you need a list to briefly and snappily run through things so here we go:

- Picked up from train station by cousin, made lovely meal, sit down to have nice civilised meal with cousin, one of her housemates and other friend. A polite game of Cranium is mentioned.
- Someone else mentions going to the pub down the road for a couple of drinks
- 4 bottles of wine at the pub later we roll back down to the house, causing minor disruption to the incredibly sleepy village of Coombeinteignhead. (Apologies to any residents who may come across this blog in the future. Especially the guy whose Landrover the other girls tried to climb on whilst I took photos.)
- Somehow end up with the 19 year old barman back at the house (who clearly thought his luck was in with 4 drunk older women. You have to admire him for trying.)
- Break table, trying to dance on it
- Kick barman out after having made him strip down to his boxers (don’t ask why)
- Get to bed about 4.30/5.00am

- Wake up at 8.30 feeling surprisingly chipper, get up and get changed, feeling full of the joys of spring
- Retrace steps back to the pub to try and find my phone which had mysteriously disappeared
- Realise that I was still drunk and slowly sink into the hangover from hell in front of Saturday Kitchen.
- Have cup of tea and feel spirits rallying
- Find phone behind cushion. Have no idea why I wouldn’t have looked there in the first place, a clear indication of the effects of excessive alcohol on the brain.
- Discover that we somehow managed to get through 10 bottles of wine amongst the 4 of us.
- Ponder why we aren’t all in acute liver failure.
- Get ourselves to Paignton Zoo at lunchtime, looking and behaving like two Witches of Eastwick, hissing at all children who made too much noise or got in our way (we’re normally very nice girls)
- Laugh at the lemurs, stroke some goats and decide that the baboons are our favourites.
- Powernap back at home
- Dinner at Coombe Cellars which was so beautiful I couldn’t even capture it properly in a photograph, although I kept trying.

- Back to Coombe Cellars to meet up with an old friend of mine plus husband, plus child.
- Lament the fact that we only have an hour before I have to catch my stupid train back home.
- Laugh and coo over friend’s child (see, told you I was a nice girl normally, just not with a hangover)
- Dash to Newton Abbot train station to begin epic journey back to Hull involving 3 trains and a bus. Ridiculous.
- Realise I’ve got a grand total of about 8 hours sleep over the weekend and will most likely die at work on Monday.

So in summary:

Laughing so much you choke + many bottles of wine + zoo + good friends = Quality Weekend

Did reality hit me like a sucker punch to the gut when I came home? It certainly did. But with this many things to reminisce about I can put off thinking about things for a while longer yet.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A tale of two cousins

Once upon a time there was a child born unto a man.

And lo this child was a girl and there was much rejoicing because she was a) a girl, b) the man’s first child, c) the first child born unto the man’s side of the family and d) she was frickin’ brilliant.

And this girl led a wonderful, charmed life, doted on by all who gazed upon her and much lauded and praised by all who spent time with her.

Then, a mere 14 months later, the man’s sister had a baby, another girl was added to the family.

“How wonderful” they all proclaimed “Little girl cousins, so close in age, they will be the best of friends.”

The eldest cousin was, to be frank, a bit of a spoiled brat. She was the worst of combinations, a youngest child and also sort of an only child, having 2 much older siblings.

The cousins didn’t see that much of each other, the eldest lived in Hull and the youngest all the way down in the deepest realms of the South, also known as Devon. So when they came together it was usually for week long holidays.

The youngest cousin ruined everything. She was cuter and younger and always got her own way. This displeased the bratty older cousin who was used to all the attention.

This photo aptly demonstrates the 2 cousin’s relationship:

The eldest cousin wanted the yellow bag with the red strap. The youngest cousin was given it. Not. Fair.

Sometimes they got on. Usually when the youngest cousin adoringly followed the eldest cousin about.

As time went on they grew up and grew apart. The eldest child didn’t speak to her Dad for many years and lost contact with that side of the family, she didn’t see her little cousin for a long long time. When they got back in touch everything had changed.

The eldest cousin was no longer as much of a brat. Or at least she hid it better. This was a good thing because the youngest cousin was now ridiculously attractive, could dance, and was studying to become a Doctor. This would have pushed the eldest cousin over the edge had they been younger.

And they now had the ability to become very good friends, the closeness in their ages was a positive and they were actually very similar – mainly because they both liked a drink and shared a rather evil sense of humour. (And they also now united in a dislike for the littlest girl cousin, who came 5 years late to the party.)

But still the distance kept them apart. And the price of train fares in this stupid country. Until eventually, the eldest cousin figured that God invented credit cards for this exact reason and booked a ticket to go and see her younger cousin, now a real-life Doctor, and living by the sea in a far off place known as Newton Abbot.

See you after the weekend.

Oh wait, didn’t I tell you? That story was about me! I’m the eldest cousin. Aren’t I hilarious and clever and still obviously the best cousin? (say yes say yes say yes)

The Stitch and Bitch project

Again. Thank you for all your kind words of support and advice. I do listen to them and I do think about them and they're all greatly appreciated. I really don't want this blog to become all about my moanings though so if I seem to move on to other things with remarkable speed it's not that I'm cold-hearted, more that I'm trying to look on the brightside!

When Stitch & Bitch first started back in September 2009 the word ‘exhibition’ was mentioned. One of the founding members of S&B had done an art degree and was very enamoured with the idea of us all creating something to display for others.

I was not so keen. I have a desperate need to be liked, which means that I don’t handle criticism very well – the thought of putting my work up for strangers to see makes me feel a little queasy. What if they don’t like it and think it’s stupid? My fragile little ego couldn’t cope with it all.

My policy was just to ignore any suggestion of an exhibition and hope the problem would go away but she persisted and last month it was decided. Exhibit we would.

And actually it was a very cool idea so I willingly hopped onboard.

We would be cross-stitching/embroidering/whatevering quotes that we overheard on our travels.

Basically, we would eavesdrop on peoples’ conversations and take little snippets and turn them into a finished article.

And the exhibition would be called...
Embroidering the Truth.
See what we did there?

It’s been hilarious. At first I was worried that I would never overhear any conversations but I have developed a knack of listening in without making it too obvious that I’m listening in.

Unfortunately this has meant there have been a couple of occasions when the boyfriend has been sat there, chatting away to me only to realise I’m not listening even slightly and am instead earwigging in on the conversation the two people on the table next to us are having.

But I explained to him that sometimes art has its casualties.

We now have an official exhibition date for the end of June so we are furiously stitching away in an attempt to build up our portfolio.

So far I have....

Which was overheard in a rather seedy pub near to where I live – I think he was trying to impress the woman he was with. Or the rest of the pub seeing as he practically shouted it.

Which was overheard on my way to a particularly unsavoury part of Hull and was made by a particularly stoned person on the back of a bus. I’m very proud of this one because I designed my bar table all by myself. For someone who has to always follow patterns this was a big step into creativity.

And also...
Which is the first snippet of conversation I overheard which was taking place between a rather drunk girlfriend and boyfriend who were waiting for a table in an Indian restaurant just down the road.

And I’m currently working on this bad boy, which I overheard at the boyfriend’s Grandma’s funeral of all places.

It’s been great to do something as a little group. We’ve all become firm friends now but it’s been nice to all be working on something together and I’m actually very excited to see all our stuff up on the walls somewhere.

So if you’re in Hull and you see someone leaning in uncomfortably close to your conversation...speak up a bit will you?

(Apologies for the crappy photos - they will look much better when they are ironed and
framed and generally prettified)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What's been said cannot be unsaid

He asked me why I hadn’t said something sooner.

I wished I’d kept my mouth shut. I was determined to not say anything until all my thoughts were in order and I knew what I wanted to say, instead of blurting them out like some kind of idiot.

I said that I hadn’t said anything before because I didn’t know how to put it. I didn’t know how to say how I was feeling. I didn’t really know what I was feeling.

He said he was sorry that he’d been miserable lately, that it was a horrible atmosphere at work because of the impending move and he didn’t realise he was bringing it home with him.

I said I didn’t even know if that was what the problem was.

He said that I meant the world to him and that he just wants me to be happy.

I said that I knew that.

He asked me if I wanted space. He could go and stay at his parent’s house for a couple of days because they’re away at the moment. No-one would need to know.

I said no. I didn’t think it was fair for him to have to leave for a few days when it was me that had the problem.

There was silence for a long time.

I asked him what he was thinking.

He said he’d never have asked me if I was ok if he knew what I was going to say.

He said that there were a couple of options. We break up now or we wait and see if things improve.

I didn’t know what to say. He was taking it so calmly. He didn’t seem overly upset and he didn’t seem angry. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t ask if there was someone else. He was eerily quiet.

He said he would try and stop being stressed about work and bringing it home with him.

I said, again, that I didn’t even know if that was what the problem was. Because I don’t know what the problem is. I said I just had a feeling that things weren’t right. Something wasn’t fitting into place.

I said “What are we supposed to do now?” Were we supposed to just ignore what I’d just said and carry on with some false sense of gaiety and pretend that everything was ok? If someone says they’re not happy and they’re not sure why then what more else is there to say?

He said, “Well for a start I can go and put on the tea.”



And today was the first morning in over a year that he didn’t say goodbye when he left for work.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The bright side

There’s nothing to lift your spirits more than a bit of appreciation. First I get it in the form of your outpouring of admiration for my crocheting efforts and then I go and get an award from the rather marvellous Taz at Ratbag.
I wouldn’t have necessarily called myself a looking on the bright-side person – always thought I was kind of moody and sarcastic and generally a bit of a pessimist, but I guess it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. A new flavour of Pringles you say? Cue happy dance in the middle of the crisps and snacks aisle in Tesco.
Anyway I’m not one to turn down a bit of attention so I will continue to bask in the glory for a while longer before reluctantly passing it on to the next person.

The rules:
1. List Top 10 things that make you happy
2. List 5 trivia things about me
3. Share with 5 people and ask them to do the same
4. Link the blogs you choose and link the blog of the person who gave it to you

Things that make me happy:
1. Cats. All cats in general and Fred and Lily specifically. If I'm on the street and see one I will be stopping to try and touch it.
2. Crisps. Still and for always. Praise be to the salty god.
3. Crochet. Now that I've begun to crack it I am really enjoying it. Like really. Like so much it annoys me when things stop me from crocheting. Like work.
4. Spring. I spy with my little eye, blossom. And it's good.
5. The sun. It's hot its hat on and it's coming out to play. And it means lunch outside in Queens Gardens instead of sitting my little windowless box of an office.
6. Glee. It's just....gleeful. It makes me very happy and I've been quite miserable during its random 3 week break, but it's back on Monday!
7. Getting away. I'm going away for the weekend to see my cousin down south and I'm very much looking forward to it, I haven't seen her for ages and fun is bound to be had.
8. Stitch & Bitch. My little Thursday night activity and an exciting project on the go. I am definitely going to tell you about that soon.
9. Tea. Nothing like a big mug of it in the evening.
10. Shoes. I got the box of spring/summer shoes out the other day and felt almost giddy. There were so many that I'd forgotten about (which is worrying I know).
The triva:
1. I am left handed. And ridiculously proud of the fact in a way righties (and let’s be honest most lefties) don’t understand. It’s like being a member of a very cool club. Full of left handed people. Imagine it. The mind boggles.
2. I have ridiculously long toes that I call Fingoes (geddit? They’re long like fingers but they’re toes. It’s a laugh a minute with me.)
3. I was banned from watching The Crystal Maze when I was young because I got too stressed out watching it (there’s a blog post in that story)
4. I have a small scar near my left eye which looks like a botched attempt at an eyebrow piercing but is actually a scar from getting punched in the face about 6 years ago (there’s definitely a blog post in that story)
5. I am terrified of moths and butterflies (yeah I know it doesn’t make sense). If you want to see me freak out and make a twat out of myself then put me near one of them – you’ll never see me move faster.

The 5 blogs:
1. Kelly @ Kelly’s Recipes for Life
2. Victoria @ Florence & Mary
(those first two – seriously deserving of this award – no hint of drama, everything in life is wonderful, I need to take a lesson from the pair of them!)
3. The Curious Cat – because she is adventuresome and brave
4. Tabiboo – I would like to steal her life by the sea
5. Suzie @ - She is brilliant, no other words for it. And most definitely, absolutely, positively someone who looks on the bright side.

Take it, go, fly my pretties. I’m going to take the award as inspiration and go off to make a list of why my life isn’t falling apart at the moment. Bright side is the key phrase.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The devil's craft: a retraction

Some months ago I wrote a post about my first attempts at crochet. It had been a long old battle and I was feeling despondent. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't enjoy it. I had a strong suspicion that wool and hook were conspiring and laughing at me behind my back. The Stitch & Bitch girls were ready to drown me in my hot chocolate, such were my moans. I would pore through the pages of Attic 24, jealousy oozing out of my pores.

However, because I'm a stubborn little madam (hello? I'm an Aries aren't I?!) I refused to give up and with the help of a little tin bird, I eventually found my way.

Since that second post I have undergone a small transformation. My cross stitch has lain abandoned for who knows how long now as I sit and I hook. I've got in to my stride and it's more than a little bit addictive. I love the speed with which the squares begin to take shape. One problem with cross stitch is that you can work on it for hours and it resembles nothing more than a colourful blob on the aida. With the granny square you can see almost immediately where you're going and how bloody brilliant it's going to be.

Maybe it's the repetitiveness of it that's so soothing, just going round and round and round and round. Minimal concentration, maximum output.

I discovered you can crochet on the train on a recent trip to Manchester. I'm not going to lie, you get a few pretty strange looks, but I was brave enough to withstand them. (Must be a sign I'm getting older, I'm becoming less bothered of what people think of me.) I have a train journey down to Newton Abbot at the end of this week - 6 hours. The wool is coming with me. Podcasts are lined up ready to put on the i-pod. It's going to be acesome (yeah I'm still pushing that one).

It's not been without it's troublesome times. I have faced unknown hardships along the way including severe cramp, the perils of discontinued colours (hurray for the internet), the ordeal of making sure the colours are in a complementary order and, perhaps most importantly, the flippin' expense of it all. This is not the cheapest hobby I've ever taken up. I might have to take up another one to fund it - hunting for truffles maybe, or selling drugs. I'm not fussy.

But these traumas have been swept aside as I gaze with what I can only imagine is some kind of maternal pride at my woolly baby, taking shape before my very eyes. Sometimes I'll lie on top of it and pretend it's finished (too much information? Really?) I reckon 25 squares ought to get me a damn fine blanket. 36 squares would be amazing but I don't want to aim too high (and neither does my bank balance).

So I apologise to you crochet. You are not the devil's craft after all. Although you have done a pretty good job of subverting my attention away from all other crafts.....hmmm.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Probably the worst way to ask a girl out. Ever.

So. First things first. Thank you for all the advice you wisdomous lot. Don’t fret yourselves, I won’t be rushing in to any enormous decisions, difficult though that is for me because I’m a throw yourself in at the deep end kind of person. Things are obviously going to take time and there’s a lot of things to work out and you needn’t worry that I will bore you with it all on here because that would be But obviously I’ll keep you updated because a) I’m needy and b) I know that deep down inside you’re all nosy.

So I thought I might lift the mood a little.

By the time I got to my final year at school I was more than a little bored of it. A private school that catered for you from Year 4 all the way to Year 13, I’d been stuck with the same people for nearly 10 years, seeing them day in and day out.

As with a lot of private schools there was a huge emphasis on sport. Music and theatre were in there but no one really cared about them, it was all about being on the rugby/hockey/netball/cricket team. (No football for us. Only common people play that you know.) The ultimate in boyfriend material was to bag yourself a rugby player.

If you enjoyed going out with morons.

My group of friends were in an odd position in the social hierarchy at school – at the top of the ladder were the male sporty types, then there was the popular group of girls who funnily enough weren’t all that sporty, but were definitely slutty. Everyone rather charmingly referred to them as the Pussy Posse (proof that you can spend all the money you want, your kids are still going to be gross). Their pool of boyfriends came exclusively from the rugby boys. Then you had your geeks, freaks and weirdos.

We were placed under the Pussy Posse but above the geeks, freaks and weirdos. It was sort of a limbo position, neither one nor the other. Most of us were in the sports teams, most involved in the musical life of the school, drama, fairly high academic achievers, all but 2 of us were Senior Prefects (and yeah I was one of the two that weren’t). I found out years later that the people in Year 12 who shared the Common Room with us called us The Nice Girls. I can live with that.

So there was this one guy who had fancied me since we were about 12. He would send me Valentines Day cards and make half-hearted attempts to snog me at discos but nothing really happened. It was just one of those things that defined school – the Deputy Headmaster is the scariest human being on earth and Tom will always fancy me.

Tom was in the rugby team and we got on okay. One of the nice things about being one of The Nice Girls is that you straddled all groups, no one particularly minded who you were friends with.

In Year 13, Tom and I were chosen by one of our old form teachers to be his prefects for his Year 9 class. It involved little other than being at registration each morning and supposedly being a shoulder to cry on when they didn’t feel like going to a teacher (NB if you were a male form prefect your life was distinctly easier than a female, 14/15 year old girls are all about the drama)

During this time Tom and I got a bit closer until one fateful night in LAs.

LAs was short for Lexington Avenue, the club we all went to when we were in the 6th form at school. Now very sadly not just shut down but recently torn down, it used to be the hub of all social activity in Hull on a weekend. Our school had a little corner in LAs, turn right when you come through the doors and there was a little burger bar, you could be assured that the surrounding area would be filled with pupils past and present.

Tom and I were sat down in the burger bar, sharing a plate of chips.

“So I wanted to say something to you” he said. “Well it’s just I really fancy you, and I have done for ages and I was just wondering if maybe you’d like to go out sometime”

I thought to myself “Maybe I’ll give him a go” and was about to reply in the affirmative when this came out of his mouth...

“I mean I really do like you. I mean so much that I’d be prepared to go out with you even though you’re not in the pussy posse”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, you know because I’ll probably get the piss taken out of me for going out with you, but I like you that much I’m willing to put up with that.”



Who knows what possessed him to say it. I think it was an attempt to illustrate just how much he fancied me that went incredibly awry.

“Yeah Tom, I’m going to go ahead and say no to that.”

He was quite visibly stunned.

“Well I won’t wait around forever you know” came his reply

I didn’t want to laugh in his face. I felt that would be cruel. He obviously meant everything he said (which was half the problem) but in his little way I think he genuinely thought he was paying me the ultimate compliment. What could I say to him?

“I totally understand. I’ll just have to live with that” was my eventual response.

There were no hard feelings. A few months later we all left school to venture off on our own lives and I’ve actually never seen him again.

But I will remember him fondly, he provided me with one of the funniest stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to recount.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Head vs Heart

My love life has been characterised by a distinct inability to listen to what my head’s telling me. I’m a follow your heart kind of girl, the last of the romantics and no matter how hard I try and listen to the little voice in my head, it gets drowned out by the twanging of my heartstrings.

Take for instance my very first relationship at the tender age of 16. I had a fairly unpleasant boyfriend who manipulated me in the only way a 17 year old with low self esteem could. He told me that I was ugly and that everyone in his year was laughing at him for going out with me and no one could understand what he saw in me, along with other similar pleasantries. My head suspected that something wasn’t quite right and told me to "Get out immediately" but my tender little heart, experiencing love for the first time and witnessing my parent’s marriage break down, told me that this was my one and only chance and I needed to stick in there.

You think I would have realised at that point in time that my heart doesn’t know anything.

But I continued to be led around by it and a merry dance indeed it has led me. From relationship to relationship – throwing itself in headfirst while the little voice has stood in the background shaking its head slowly and going “What are you doing you moron, listen to me!”

The little voice told me that Dave* wasn’t quite right for me. He was just a little bit too quiet and serious and all in favour of the easy life. I was dramatic and, quite frankly, a little bit crazy but my heart told me that I must have got it right this time, I was, after all, the incredibly knowledgable age of 21 when I knew everything there was to know. But I ignored the voice, even when Dave told me that he wasn’t looking to settle down any time soon and wanted to go off travelling and explore the world, and I hung on, until my heart realised that it wasn’t getting what it was needing back and led me to someone else.

The heart continued to pound, no matter how many knocks it got, and it never beat faster than the time when I was going out with The One. Perfectly matched, I’d already known him for years, and everything was going swimmingly until the heart decided that I should absolutely definitely tell him that I thought he was The One. The little voice said “Nooooooooooooo what are you doing?!” but the heart was confident this wouldn’t backfire.

Except it kind of did backfire. The trouble was that although The One was, you know, The One. He wasn’t The One At That Moment. He was in a strange old place, not behaving at all like the person I fell in love in with. And the little voice told me that I should leave but the heart refused to let him go. It knew, it absolutely knew that this was the one. And it held on and it held on because it knew that it was strong enough to fix everything that was wrong with him and that if it just stayed in there, he would realise that it knew best.

Until one day it could take no more and it had to go. It was stretched to breaking point and ready to crack in two and it realised that it wasn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t enough. And for probably the only time in my life, the little voice and the heart said as one, “Time to let go”.

But the heart never really let go. It understood that it wasn’t enough at the moment but that it might be in the future and it still remained certain that it belonged to The One and no one else.

But over time this got lost and occasionally the heart would flare up and say “Hey, wait I love The One, not this other person” and the little voice would say “Oh no you don’t. Don’t start with this again, that’s only going to lead you down a rocky road. Please listen to me, you have to bury that love deep inside and don’t even think about it”

And the heart said a very sheepish “Ok” and seeing as it had been so wrong about so many other relationships it guessed the little voice was probably right.

But soon it was back to its old tricks...

I ignored the little voice when it told me that Steve* wasn’t right for me. Why in my right mind would a slovenly glutton like me be a perfect match for the ultimate gym machine? And when the little voice told me that something wasn’t quite right about this ‘friend’ of his I knew I should have listened to it. But the heart believed the lies and believed he loved it back right up until out of the blue he decided he didn’t love it anymore.

And then a few weeks later I met The Boyfriend.

And the heart said “YES! Finally a nice boy who would never ever hurt me and will look after me and make sure I don’t get broken.”

But the voice?

It said “It’s too soon. You have to wait and give the heart time to mend, it’s not quite itself, it’s still in extreme need of repair”

And the heart replied “NONSENSE. I. Am. Fine. Too soon, too schmoon. Shut up little voice.”

And then 22 months later, the heart had some kind of volcanic explosion and remembered that it loved The One and that things were different now, he was out of the strange old place and back to the person it had fallen for in the first place.

Except I’m older now (did I tell you it was just my birthday? Yes?) and I can’t let the heart have its own way again. It’s been wrong so many times. It’s the Weakest Link. It’s Britain’s Biggest Loser. If we were picking teams for netball, my heart would be the one wearing a patch over one eye who couldn't catch if its life depended on it.

So I turn to the little voice for some help and for the first time ever it’s decided to shut its trap. Or it’s talking so quietly that I can’t hear it. Or I don’t really like what it’s saying so I’m not really listening to it.

So until I can decipher what the little voice is saying I’m in the worst position imaginable – this close to everything I dreamed of and this close away from smashing it all to pieces in favour of, once again, going with the heart.

Although sometimes I don’t even think the heart knows what it wants. And sometimes I think it's a sneaky little devil and pretends to be the little voice to try and trick me.

Any of my other organs fancy helping me out here? Liver? Got anything to say? Pancreas? Fancy pitching in? Kidneys? Fancy a break from all the filtering?

(It’s always better to make a little joke than face reality I find)

*The names have been changed. Just never know. Also I like the DRAMA of changing people's names.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter and Birthday Review

The celebrations are over for another year and next time my birthday will be all my own (well apart from the billion other people that share it).

I'm not really in a wordy mood at the moment, got a lot going on in my head at the moment which makes it virtually impossible for me to string sentences together. Not sure if this is the place to air those worries or not, that's my next big decision.


Easter saw us all down at my sister's for the weekend, all the family together. I always feel a little tense about these things. I don't know why, it's not that we don't all get along, it's just that sometimes I feel like I need to make an extra special effort to make sure everyone's having fun. I don't know why that is really. And I would normally go in to more detail and examine that in more detail, but like I said, head is not in gear right now.

Festivities of the weekend included;

- a trip to the pub (essential)

- a lark about Ashby Castle, which my youngest nephew absolutely loved. He could have spent hours there, running about with his little foam sword. We climbed all the way up to the top of the tower and waved at everybody down below.
- a lot of crocheting. Done a whole 12 squares now. I put them over Rowan the dog to get a feel for how they will look when they're all joined together.

- a little Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning for youngest nephew.
- lots of fun presents for me.

The boyfriend got me DJ Hero, which I've played so much I've given myself cramp in my left hand. We've got Guitar Hero already but I don't love it to be honest, I don't like many of the songs. This bad boy is brilliant though. Not only are the songs good but they're all mashed up together, you can't go wrong!
The boyfriend's parents also got me an amazing present. Some artwork that I've been lusting after for a long time. A metalwork picture of a shoal of fish.

It doesn't photograph brilliantly, I've tried taking loads of photos and none of them really do it justice. It's so beautiful, the colours are just divine and I can't believe they got it for me because it most certainly was not a cheap present.
Things may be a little quiet over here for a bit while I sort things out in my head. Alternatively there might be a post every day as I attempt to purge my brain of all its confusing thoughts. Just consider this a warning :)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The time Jesus stole my birthday

Birthdays are great aren’t they? That one special day when it’s all about you and everyone is nice to you and you can do whatever the hell you want.

Not for me.

I’ve had the unfortunate luck of being born at the beginning of April, along with apparently the entire population of the world.

Maybe it was all that summer loving that people get up in the month of August or maybe there’s truth in the notion that women are more fertile in that period and more likely to get pregnant and have their babies in the spring so they have the best chance of survival (hey I read it somewhere). Whatever it is, there are an inordinate amount of people born in the first week of April.

For instance, a brief rundown of the people whose birthday it is in the next few days;

Middle nephew – yesterday (1st April)
Best friend – Saturday (3rd April)
Me and my brother-in-law – Sunday (4th April)
Eldest nephew – Monday (5th April)

Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to buy people other presents around the time of your own birthday? And even worse have to give them to someone?! It’s wrong. The day is supposed to be about you. If I’m honest I think the whole week should be about you but apparently that makes me sound spoilt.

Really I blame my sister for all this. She’s the one who chose to marry someone who shared the same birthday as me and then, as if that wasn’t enough, she selfishly goes and gets pregnant and has offspring on virtually the same days (actually the birth of Eldest Nephew is particularly funny seeing as my brother-in-law had been out for his birthday the night before, remind me to tell you that one some time). I mean it’s not really on is it – I was here first after all. Well, technically my brother-in-law was here first, by a good twenty years, but that’s irrelevant.

And I mean these are just the people that are particularly close to me. Our old next door neighbour was on the 4th. My Mum’s best friend is on the 4th. There were 2 girls in my class, one on the 4th and one on the 5th. My friend’s sister is on the 4th. There is hardly anybody who, on finding out the date of birthday, doesn’t go “Oh I know someone whose birthday is then!” And today I discover that Tabiboo is getting on the act with her birthday on the 3rd and Mr T’s birthday today!

There’s no escape.

Sometimes being born at this time of year can have its advantages – I was only ever at school once on my birthday (for my 18th and that was a half day) because it was always the Easter holidays but that actually just made birthdays pretty quiet because people were always on holiday or doing Eastery things.

Ah yes. Easter.

Easter has raised its ugly head once more. I mean it’s inevitable, you can’t escape Easter interfering with things if you’re born at this time of year. I was born on an Easter Monday after all. But this year, my birthday is not only NOT just about me but it’s been completely hijacked by Jesus. Like I can compete with some dude rising from the dead. Thanks a lot for stealing my thunder Jebus.

Of course everybody is busy doing Eastery things so no one was available to party like a rockstar with me, which is ridiculous because it’s a bank holiday and we could so have gone out and drunk the drinks and been hungover all day Monday, but alas it was not to be.

And, because half my fricking family have their birthday at the same time as me, I tend to get stolen away to do family things. You would not believe how many arguments there have been because I’ve wanted to celebrate my birthday in Hull, with friends, and haven’t been able to because that would make me the worst Auntie in the world ever.

So this is my way of saying goodbye to you for a few days. We are off down to my sister’s to do Eastery/family/birthday things.

No doubt I’ll come back with some stories to tell. AND I’LL BE A YEAR OLDER.

Just in case that one had passed you by.