Work like you don't need the money.Love like you've never been hurt.Dance like no-one's watching.Sing like no-one's listening.Live like there's no tomorrow.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Technotwit..... A new noun

It is with great embarrassment that I have to confess that it has been so long since I visited my blog that I couldn't actually remember how to log in! I had to email myself my own identity and clues in order to revisit myself. This was all rather disturbing particularly as I had already endured a thirty five minute phone call with Ikea s customer services because I couldn't work out how to buy the products I wanted online. So humiliating and made worse by the fact I couldn't understand a single word the nice Indian customer services lady was saying. I ended up shouting rather pompously "don't worry I ll drive to the store and get it myself!" So either I m entering early menopause and the land of perpetual confusion or I am as I have feared... A complete and utter Technotwit?
 So what is a Technotwit? Well I have managed to establish some clear criteria which can confirm whether or not you qualify for this title;
1) Do you often shout at the television because you cannot operate the Sky Box and thus risk missing Downton Abbey?
2) Do you practically crash the car whilst screaming expletives because you can't get your Bluetooth to answer your mobile.
3) Do you have to resort to removing the battery and the sim card on your android phone because you have no idea how to reverse the option you ve just selected?
4) Do you suffer from sea sickness when watching 3D movies and flail your arms about because you think you are being attacked?
5) Are you more afraid of Skype than you are of a job interview?
6) Do you cut and paste individual peoples names into the recipient box when sending an email because you haven't the faintest idea how to send a group one?
7) Are you completely incapable of using txt spk and have to send long prose laden missives which fill up friends ' mobile inboxes?
8) Can you actually work out how to order and pay for something on the Ikea website?
9) If you ring India about your broadband can you actually identify any parts of your PC or laptop or even vaguely follow the instructions they give you to resolve the problem?
10) Do you have to phone your teenage children  almost in tears when they are out/away/on a date and spend five minutes apologising before asking them how to re set your digital alarm clock?
If you have answered yes to more than 2 of the above you may give yourself the dubious honour of calling yourself a Technotwit.
Indeed I am only able to write this on my IPad (which my 10 year old had to tutor me to use) because I have finally plucked up the courage to ask one of the oafspring how to switch it on and off! Ridiculous I know but I was so in awe of its shiny silvery ness that I had got by by only using it   When one of the kids had already been on it first. Then someone switched it off.
I spent an entire Saturday morning rotating it and gently waving it above my head hoping to coax life into it. Eventually I gave in and rang my own Bill Gates "Jojo?",
"Oh hi mum what's up?"
"Jo.... I can't turn the IPad on."
Jo "...... (sigh).... Have you tried the on button?"
Me "well I would if I knew where it was?
Jo "Muuuuuum! It's on the side... Really you are such a spaz!"
And there it is.... The scorn of Yoof. I wonder if our parents felt the same when confronted by the CD player or the earliest mobile phones?
Apparently not... Even my Dad is using a linking IPhone with ease. I think perhaps I will always be a Technotwit because secretly I don't really like technology and I don't really care how it works.
Where some people's daydreams reside on IClouds, my musings and flights of fancy occur on scraps of paper, odd napkins and if I m feeling flush, a moleskine diary. I hanker after blackwing pencils and have a not-so-secret stationary fetish. Yes I know it's odd to collect envelopes and lust after crisp correspondence cards but I like to think that if the WWW ever crashes and is irreparable I will still be able to entertain myself whereas my oafspring's generation will be bereft.
So I will wear my T on my dunce hat with pride and maybe if you are lucky I ll forget my Blog log-in again.
Until we virtually meet again.....

Friday, 30 September 2011

Cool for Cats (...or dogs)

It has been almost a year since my last visit and adolescence now has the family in its sweaty, irritable, looming grip. Much has changed. I have finally accomplished my mission of becoming a teacher, after 25 years of thinking about it meanwhile the male cohort of the family has plunged headlong into an oozing swamp of testosterone whilst I wasn't looking. The firstborn suddenly grew in every direction; not unlike a gremlin when water is added and is now fondly referred to as "Lurch", whilst number two son has developed a penchant for waistcoats and skinny ties and retains the dubious title of "Hairy". At some point while this was happening I suddenly realised that I had to let go of my inner 15 year old as I had been usurped!

But according to the collective of mumblingly polite and self conscious Yoof who regularly empty my fridge and drape themselves across chairs, sofas and futons in my house, I m "Quite cool!". I m secretly rather pleased. Mainly because I don't feel in the slightest cool in fact I feel positively archaic! I groan as I get up from chairs, I relish early nights, I bought Clarke's shoes because they were comfortable and I actually liked them?? In fact I have morphed into the creature I scorned and reviled when I was 15 ...uuugghh! An adult!

I m not consciously making an effort to be a cool parent in fact I can attribute it to a combination of stupidity, exhaustion and laziness. I should remonstrate with myself when Lurch's friends murmur in hushed tones "..awesome my mum would NEVER let me do that!" as they eat another slice of pizza in semi darkness in front of their 11th hour in front of the X box.. but frankly I can't be bothered? I m too busy wrestling with my own demons. Not particularly strenuous wrestling it has to be said, but nevertheless I cannot ignore the facts that the cashier didn't question my purchase of Age-renew foundation; I never get asked for ID, my bra has more wire than the Somme and I ve booked a Hearing test and a flu jab for Monday.

I recently went away with some girlfriends, the Godmothers of the Oafspring on our annual jolly; free from the constraints of children, work and domestic servitude. We sat by the Cam in Cambridge sharing some Pinot Grigot (so middle class) and unashamedly ogling a group of young men whose sole responsibility was to tout for trade by charming middle age women into their punts and then steer their menopausal cargo up and down the busy waterways of the hallowed city. We noted rather ruefully that where once we would have been preoccupied with showing as much leg as possible and salaciously swishing our hair at these golden young gods we were now far more preoccupied with huddling under the blankets and tutting at people talking over the commentary!

The first night we arrived we didn't hit the town in all our glory as we would have done not too many years before. Instead, we collapsed in our PJs with a takeaway and were in bed by 12 after berating AA route finder (for getting me lost), the air conditioning (for not working in the bedroom) and the architecture for blocking the wi fi signal for our Blackberrys. Worst of all we didn't even talk about sex!!!

So why my son's friends would even consider me to be in the slightest way cool is frankly baffling. In fact I try particularly hard NOT to be cool or in any way more embarrassing than I already am simply by existing and resembling an AWOL Marquee? I know I have tendencies to being over animated, which is why I studiously avoided being even in the vicinity of a recent party that Lurch attended. He looked ridiculously handsome and I had to forcibly restrain my natural urge to crow and tell everyone within a 20 mile radius that this handsome, coy, charming young man was my baby!!! I bit my tongue and didn't say the uncool stuff that every fibre of my being was screaming such as "Sip... don't gulp" (my Dad's favourite tip). Part of me longed to give him tips about kissing, about not mixing drinks and about stopping drinking when his face went numb and the floor started to rise up, but I knew that it is uncharted territory for him and he needs to map it himself. I heard my own voice quavering when I asked if he wanted to take condoms with him and beat a hasty retreat before the words had even tripped off my lips as he floored me with a look which said "WTF!!!!!!" all over it.

So I have decided to approach this hormonal minefield by faking an attitude of indifference and disinterest when in the presence of the Yoof and bizarrely it has washed with them?.I have been referred too as "Cool" "Well Nice!" and "Down with the kids" although I m sure the last one was sarcastic! Consequently I felt quietly gleeful that I had passed under the scorn and mistrust radar however have discovered that this is now to my detriment and I have shot myself in the foot. By providing an uncomplaining and cheerful taxi service ferrying the Yoof between social engagements, I am now an unwilling audience to conversations that would make Mary Whitehouse have a seizure. I once mildly interjected in a conversation about "HOW GAY" every other person was that happened to fall outside their social circle, that a predilection for sodomy, strictly speaking determined "How Gay" someone was only to be met with an icy silence broken only by my son and heir hissing "GOD Mum are you actually mentioning ANAL in front of my Friends?????????" I was consequently more embarrassed than I have ever been in my life and mentally gave myself forty lashes for committing the most basic adult sin, of actually daring to express an opinion in the presence of "they that know all things."

SO I have decided to abandon any attempts to be cool and will now openly embrace middle age which I had been studiously avoiding. The truth of Cool appears to be in thoroughly indulging your inner tank top and comfortable shoe whilst releasing your inner child to the next generation who will do justice to your youth, unencumbered by actually being you!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Someday my Prince will come...?

It's sordid really and would have the Daily Mail stacking faggots for a burning, but I actually often enjoy being single. There... it has been said. Of course there are things I miss; cuddles from someone not related to me, conversation on topics pre-dating the year 2000, Sex....and.... er... there I struggle because I am enormously ashamed to admit, that there isn't anything else I actually miss about having a husband or partner. The benefits of not having to pander to, worry about, diet for, impress or seek the approval of another adult in the family, are multitudinous!

I don't have to hide a new outfit I've bought for myself, I don't have to justify watching back to back American TV on a Saturday night and no one sulks if I go to bed at 9pm. I don't have to be anyone's ideal weight, a domestic goddess or intellectual equal. I can have as many Blond days as I like and all my victories are mine alone; I can self-congratulate and be as self- satisfied as I like because know one will even notice my smugness.
Of course the downside is that all the responsibility for the family falls onto me and at times it is a heavy yoke to bear because there is no one to share that?

I asked the children what I should look for in a new partner as, I have observed from other people's new relationships, Post Marriage; that it is foolhardy to not involve the offspring in the selection process. "A wrestler" pronounced J with no hesitation "He needs to be strong to pick you up". Thank you, my son. "Someone rich" said the gloomy teenager only briefly raising his head from Nuts magazine, "So you stop borrowing my birthday money!" Ouch.... tell it like it is why don't you! My daughter however took this question very seriously and after a lot of thought and referring to her Ladybird 606D Fairy Tales, said " A Prince; a tall one, who s not mean and is not obsessed with Hi Fi!" perhaps I shouldn't have asked? But then I've listened to far too many children complaining, about their parent's new squeeze, to risk it?

So far my children have had to put up with the "almost" evil stepmother, fondly known in our house as "Boring Dora the Explorer" whose obsession with minimalism and materialism left no room in her heart or mind for a personality. The children were unforgiving and still talk about their Father's error of judgement and taste, despite her exit over a year ago! I feel that anyone that was even willing to take on me and the children, should have pre dating counselling because my children could give the X factor panel and Anne Robinson, a few tips.

And frankly there has been no pressing sense of urgency on my agenda? I felt it was perfectly respectable to be quietly single, while my Ex made a Grade 1 prat of himself galloping through unsuitable partners, like a blindfolded dog on heat. But then inevitably, he has, of course met a lovely woman. So lovely, that I actually prefer her to my ex husband. She is beautiful, witty, wise and battle scarred like me and most importantly, she loves my children...and they love her. In fact if I could have hand selected the woman to "replace" me, I would have chosen her, hands down, no contest. I can see us becoming good friends.

Which is wonderful. It is great for the children because they finally get to share their father with a woman who is not me, but is worthy of their affection. It's wonderful except that it feels as though someone has broken me all over again. I feel like I've been turned inside out and every raw nerve ending, is exposed to the outside and every single wall I built around my emotions to protect me, has been decimated. Why? simply because I have to share the only thing I have left for me, which is my children's undivided and misguided conviction; that I am the ONE and ONLY, greatest woman that has ever walked the earth. And frankly I needed that because no one else thought it?

I know now that I am completely over the loss of my marriage because I feel a profound sense of relief that someone has taken the children's Father in hand and concluded his embarrassing and selfish quest for happiness, but I not sure I will ever recover from having to share my children with another mother?

It is, of course, utterly pathetic to sit and wallow in self pity, but my inner 4 year old is jumping up and down on the sofa in full melt down with her hands over her ears! I have never been competitive or driven in my life, but suddenly I feel a terrible need to find an unbelievably wonderful, supportive, handsome and solvent Step Father for my children, simply because I've been horribly out done by my Ex in the, "Find a Fabulous Partner" stakes. Mind you I think any man I meet, would practically have to be Bear Grylls crossed with the Dalai Lama, to even match up to the loveliness of their Dad's new girlfriend.

Of course there is the other more-than-obvious problem that I am a single,working, full time parent with custody of three impossibly challenging and wonderful children, which leaves me with next to zero opportunities for actually meeting someone? Unless I ran him over on my way to work or he comes to fix my boiler/mow the grass/ bait the rats/serves me in Tesco's? I work with only women and socialise with women and therefore actually rarely meet any men and they are always married... or Gay? So where does a slightly unhinged 30- something run into her Prince Charming when Kate Middleton's snaffled the last rich one on the market?

Therefore I have resolved to not look, on the off chance that fate will deal me the upper hand and drop one in my lap/in front of my car? Preferably one that isn't Married, Psychopathic or Muslim? Meanwhile I will remain Hopelessly Devoted... to me.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

You never forget how .. it's just like falling off a bike

Due to some administrative glitch or celestial hiccup, I seem to find myself single and kissing forty. Having taken a long,hard look at myself in my (oversize) mirror, I have decided that this cynical, battle scarred woman needs a mate. It is 20 years since I dated and I am even more ill prepared than I was, as a bright eyed and bushy-tailed teen?

I seem to have come full circle and seem only to frequent all female company, with the exception of friends, who frankly don't count as men; having been thoroughly sanitised and emasculated by wedded domesticity. A recent perusal of dating sights made depressing reading. A wise woman pointed out to me that every eligible, single man, has been or is about to be some other woman's Ex. There is bound to be a long list of good reasons for that. Most of the men on these sites list GSOH, which you are going to need, as their introductory gambit is invariably whether you will be interested in phone/virtual sex and what you are wearing? This is like a red rag to a bull as far as I m concerned and I have replied numerous times, that I am wearing a scuba diving suit, marigold gloves and yesterday's makeup. Disturbingly some were still keen....

So what am I looking for and what on earth have I got to offer? Well on the plus side I' m employed, still retain most of my own teeth and have vast...... patience. What am I looking for....well much the same I suppose, as long as it comes in a 6ft + package. Is that shallow? There might be some delightful "shorter" men out there but somehow I predict that any man willing to take me on, is going to require both height and stamina to deal with my enormous... personality!
The key, my delightful friend confided, was selling myself. Not literally you understand, but in a stunning profile, which leaves no one in doubt of your irresistible charms.

So she wrote a disarmingly lovely reference for me for , My Single Friend, and we waited with bated breath. I m sorry to report that terms of growth and interest my stocks have plummeted which goes to prove, that which our female friends love and adore in us, holds very little appeal to the opposite sex.

One of my many failings it appears, is being too honest, simply because that is a quality I seek out and admire in others. It is top of the list on my future partner shopping list. However it is not a quality found readily in those frequenting dating sites. I went to meet a guy who had seemed charming and attentive online, in a country pub, not far from where I worked. I took the usual precautions of ensuring a friend would ring me, ten minutes into the date to check, using a pre arranged code phrase "The guinea pigs have escaped?" to make sure I was OK. Several other friends were similarly employed to text me during the evening in case I was in need of an emergency getaway!

The aforementioned gentleman had not been strictly honest in his reflective account of himself. The man I met was a ginger haired, tattooed hob-goblin, who was unpleasantly touchy-feely and regaled me with tales of shopping trolley theft and his job at Parcel Force (deliveries not a Manager of an Exports Business, as per his dating profile). What was worse though, was that the mercy phone call never came and the minutes dragged by like hours as the leery, cider breathed Bilbo Baggins ogled my frontage. Finally I escaped into the frozen air, gulping like a stranded goldfish and raced into the night, salaaming my car down the dark country lanes until finally, my phone exploded with a torrent of texts and missed calls. Apparently the site of the rendezvous had no mobile signal.

A few more similar experiences was enough to make me decide that husband-less was infinitely preferable to the horrors of the dating market and I slipped far to comfortably, into wallowing deliciously in my own self sufficiency. Except of course that humans are not designed to be alone; One too many Saturday nights watching terrible television and comfort eating leads to navel gazing and self pity. So I have decided the time has come to bite the bullet and see if there is a tall, like minded, kind man out there, otherwise I am in peril of being found dead under a pile of laundry and dog hair, without any one noticing my demise?

So it is time to stop prevaricating and get "A round tuit" as my grandmother would say. So here is my advert, with apologies to Paul McCartney

When I get older losing my hair,
not so long from now,
Will you take me out for dinner
share a cheapo bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
then pass out on the floor,
Will you still love me,
will you still hug me,
When I'm sixty-four.
I can do listening, sharing your views
When the nights are long.
You can read the paper by the fireside
wake up Sunday morning with me by your side.
Doing the garden,
walking the dog,
walk along the shore?
Will you still need me,
will you still heed me,
When I'm sixty-four.
Every summer we can go camping,
in darkest Wales clutching hot cups of tea
Coldplay or Keane on CD
climb a mountain in the pouring rain
as long as its just you and me?
Send me a text, or poke on Facebook
add me as a friend
Message that you love me beyond all hope
lots of xxxx then press “Send”
Give me your answer,
txt, MSN or Yahoo
ask for one date or more?
When will you view me,
‘cos I m getting gloomy?
Come knock on my door.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Ode to Smalls

All things wrinkled and cotton based
all pants of numerous shades
all shirts; school and otherwise,
they leave me in a daze

The ever towering mountain
of clothes to put in drawers,
neglected due to Face book
lie on my bedroom floor

Someone come and save me
and bring domestic bliss
to this exhausted mother
and her Clothing abyss?

The socks conspire against me
in endless hide and seek
school trousers knot like pythons
to ensure vagabond Chic!

All things found in PE bags
all crisp packets, tissues and gum
deeply hidden inside pockets
to guarantee tumble drier fun

The navy rugger shirt
the luminous leotard
sneak into the white cycle
to make my life more hard

Oh Oh oh

All things needed on Monday
last seen two months ago,
and mentioned on Sunday evening
they fill my heart with woe

I know there is a bottom
to the towering laundry pile
but I don't when I last saw it
it has been quite a while.

Oh Oh oh

All things made of silk or wool
have languished there so long
I m sorry I forgot you,
to you I pledge this song.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Largely about me


10 stone 2 is just a dream to me,

how I long for how I used to be,

Oh damn my own stupidity!

I am twice the girl I used to be,
cakes and chocs kept calling out to me

and now I’ve become quite cuddly!

Why did
they invent Reeses Peanut butter treats?
If I d steered away I be able to see my feet,
oh deary!

Yesterday, mega stretch marks had not come to play,

Now it looks as though they're here to stay,

Oh, I wish it was yesterday.

Suddenly, the scales whizz round to 15,3,

There's a shadow hanging over me,

Oh someone hide my enormity?

Why I
Had to have a second helping at dinner today?
Now I
Have thighs like trees and I long for yesterday

Love affair between my food and me,

treats me better than any man I see,

and never lies or cheats on me…


Love was such an easy game to play,

Now I need a place to hide away,

Oh, I believe in yesterday.


(apologies to Paul McCartney)

Now we are not 7 any more.

Somehow without my knowledge, Middle age has snuck up upon me. I came face to face with it when brushing my hair the other day and discovered, at the age of 37, my first white hair. Long, wiry and stubborn; it took a yank to remove it, thus shattering any illusion that it was a stray dog hair that had accidentally found its way onto my head. I held it ,staring in fascinated disgust and marvelling at how long it was, amazed at how I had failed to notice before? It was so shocking, that I showed it to my children and friends and even my Mother who all tutted with sympathetic disinterest, clearly not realising how completely in denial I have been ageing?

Of course I d have to be a blind idiot, to have not noticed the other tell-tale signs of my diminishing youth; the steady descent of my boobs towards my navel, the fine crease lines on my neck and chest and the laughter lines around my eyes, stretching like afternoon shadows on the High Coral towards my hairline. But what no one seems to have realised least of all me, is that I have not significantly changed emotionally or mentally from the exuberant 2o something I once was? Or have I?

My passport has expired and I when I dug it out to renew it, I peered at the ten year old photo looking into the eyes of my 27 year old self. I am fresh faced and scruffy in a charmingly disorganised way but it is my eyes that tell a different story, not my obviously youthful complexion. I hadn't had my daughter and was a mother to two little boys and a loving wife to an aspiring young doctor. I had no idea of what the next ten years would bring; the love, the laughter, my first and only daughter, the end of my marriage and the beginning of my journey as a single parent. I feel strangely sorry for my previous self and it its now that I realised how I have changed rather than simply aged?

I went to the 40th Birthday Party of a very dear friend and we wined and dined and especially danced, until the very early hours of the morning. It was dawn when I returned home in a taxi, exhausted, elated and carrying my shoes. I was longing for a cup of tea and worrying about the dogs being left alone for so long. The evening had been memorable, hilarious and poignant as all mile stone birthdays are, but particularly because this friend and I have travelled a similar journey for the past few years. The gathering of all her female friends from her whole life, in one place, to celebrate her birthday, was a heady mixture of ferocious pleasure at how far she had come and how strong women are, when they stand together with their female friends but also an aching reminder and nostalgia for how much is passed and laid to rest. "Do you feel 40?" I asked her as we whirled around the dance floor and she smiled wryly and said "No I feel about 18!" and therein lies the dichotomy. In my teens and twenties I could have danced til daybreak and then gone to work with a stiff coffee and a handful of paracetamol because I simply couldn't imagine a time when I would feel so exhausted, or that I would really look forward to a "quiet night in" browsing the Internet for sprinkler attachments for my hosepipe and a nice parasol for the terrace? Yet my where my mind thinks I m still 25 and immortal ,my heart and body conspire to contradict me. It took me a week to recover from hedonistic indulgence of the fabulous party and I was struck with a particularly nasty cold, as if to reiterate the point that I am, getting older.

But inside me there is a day spring of youthful excitement and wonder and exuberance which cannot be assimilated with what I see in the mirror? I have a postcard in the kitchen that reads
" Life cannot be measured by how many breaths we take... but by how many moments take our breath away". I thought for a while about things that excite or enthrall me and had to think quite hard,about what took my breath away, other than the Parents race at Sports Day? I felt sad when I realised that, the moments of euphoric excitement are indeed fewer than they once were? I wondered if exchanging the rose-tinted spectacles of Youth, for the trifocals of Experience in some way lessens our susceptibility to raw, powerful feelings of pleasure, joy, passion and the sheer thrill of being alive?

But then I realised that perhaps it was just likely that my now slightly jaded and cynical feelings about Love,Life and relationships and reality was what was stemming the flow of excitement in my life. I decided that the key was spontaneity. I watched a delightful and ridiculous film called the "Yes man" and was inspired to challenge my own cautious and pessimistic behaviour.
Thankfully I don't feel the need to sky dive or bungee jump but I decided that "going with the flow" and to hell with the consequences could liberate my pent-up inner 18 year old again.
It would be nice to get excited about something other than the Boden Sale catalogue arriving, after all!

My newly 40 year old friend has grabbed Life by the horns and hit the ground running, by relentlessly trying new things; festivals, rock concerts and travel sans Children! As much as I want to indulge myself I found that the thing that gives me the most pleasure now in my life, is seeing firsthand the happiness and excitement of those I love. This is not so much of an cop out as it sounds. There is something enormously liberating in being happy for someone else but not wanting anything for yourself? I decided then and there, that that, was the defining feature of my ageing process; I am not simply growing older, I am growing up.

"Yet, getting old is a natural process where things are slowing down, and you'll begin to see that the sparkle in your heart and the twinkle in your eyes make you beautiful in a way that's not achievable in youth. "
Dorothy Parker