Monday, October 31, 2005

Cross. Again.

This morning left me in a furious, snarling rage. I can't be bothered to explain - suffice to say that my mild-mannered assistant spent the hour between eleven and midday swearing like a drunken docker with Tourette's, and I positively stalked out of the office at lunchtime. Poor old Other Half - once more on the receiving end of one of my monumental huffs. To his credit, he cheered me up immensely – there he was, staring dreamily at flat-screen tellies and dancing to the piped music in a major electrical store in a particularly effete manner (the Other Half loves to dance. Most of the time it's like being at stage school - you know, the sort where the kids spontaneously erupt into a seamless yet unrehearsed full-scale production of West Side Story in the corridor outside the canteen just because, ooh, life is just so brilliant!!), when a voice over his left shoulder enquired politely as to whether he needed any assistance. He blushed scarlet and asserted that no, thanks, he was just looking and I tried very very hard indeed not to wee.

And woo! and yay! We're off to see Motorhead tonight. Tomorrow I shall be stone deaf (eh?) and infinitely more interesting*.

* Interestingness cannot be guaranteed.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Karma, anyone?

As I sit here writing, I'm worrying about a number of things. I'm worried that I might forget to do Small Person's packed lunch, and that even if I manage to make it I'll leave it in the fridge tomorrow morning like I did last Monday. I'm worried that downstairs will leave their tv at the current volume (I feel as if I'm actively participating in this week's Songs of Praise) and that I won't be able to get to sleep tonight. I'm worried that Stephen Hawking witnessed our juvenile defiance on returning, drunk and triumphant, from another top night out watching a band (who, incidentally, love us so much that we have our own encore. The shame.....) and making the universal sign of the spaz outside his front door in protest at him keeping me awake yet again last week. I'm pretty sure he doesn't spend every night propped behind his front door with his eye to the spyhole but it worries me anyway. I'm worried that my new boss who starts tomorrow will, in addition to being eight years younger than me and in receipt of eleven grand a year more, also be an insufferable twat in the manner of my current boss. I'm worried that Small Person will one weekend starve to death as her father has once more singularly failed to feed her anything more than breakfast and sweets today. I'm worried that his planned trip to New Zealand next month is in fact an elaborate kidnapping plot and that I'll have to fight for Small Person's return via Interpol and the Daily Mail. I'm worried that we won't be able to get tickets for Robbie's tour when they go on sale next month. I'm worried that the Other Half's recent trip and his resulting close proximity to a number of men who have been at sea for a long time has awakened some latent neanderthal streak in him and that I will forever more be subjected to fart jokes and talk of vomiting at the dinner table.

All of this is symptomatic of my underworked, overstressed mind. I simply can't not worry. Evidence of this is vastly apparent, even to me. There's a local building supply firm whose name and logo is effectively the Camel cigarette branding. Every time I pass one of their trucks I worry about what would happen if someone from Camel or their owners were to see it - what if the Camel Building Supply people have just bought houses? Or had children? How will they pay the court costs? What will become of them? What if somebody relating to the tobacco company randomly Googles "Camel" and ends up here and finds out about the local building supply company and sues them and I am therefore directly responsible for homelessness and hungry children as, without this post on my blog, they would have remained otherwise undetected? If we go for a walk in the forest, or even through the wooded parts of the park, I'm worrying about what the procedure is on spotting a corpse in the undergrowth. Do you call the police and stay next to it, or go home and ring them? Should you take a photograph? Make some notes? What if the killer is still lurking? On Friday night, even when I knew the Other Half was on the way home, I still couldn't relax. I knew he was due home at around 4am so I woke on the dot of four and paced the floor for the next hour, visions of botched emergency landings and falling-asleep-at-the-wheel taxi drivers filling my mind. I finally texted him at 4.50am and was properly, actually relieved when I received a response.

A great deal of my worries are presumably the same things that other people think about. My fears for Small Person's future, for mine and the Other Half's life together, whether I can pay the rent this month. All of those things are normal, but I can't help but worry that I'm the only person leaving ludicrous notes around the house bearing warnings such as "School Starts Tomorrow!!", "Hospital Weds and Friday UFN!!", "Breathe in, then out again!!" (okay, I made the last one up). I am convinced that if I don't remind myself of the things I do most days as a matter of routine we will end up baffled and hungry, or that Small Person will be sitting quietly on the childminder's sofa wondering why I am an hour late even as I blithely do the grocery shopping, unaware that I am in the wrong place at the wrong time owing to the fact that I have left my phone in the office (I didn't leave myself a note, you see). The thing is, I don't know how to stop worrying. If I rationalise my fears I then worry that I have dismissed a potential catastrophe and that we will burn in our beds as a result of my not reminding myself to change the smoke alarm batteries. Maybe I am what my Nan would have called a "born worrier". Maybe I'm mental. Whatever it is, I wish it would stop (oh lord, am now worried that I am mental).

In other news, the Other Half's divorce came through while he was away. I am now officially stamping my foot and declaring that it's not fair, I want one. Soon.....please let it be soon.....

Carry on.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Language: Frequent, Strong

Fuck it. Fuck it all, and then fuck it again for good measure.

The Other Half has been in Tenerife on business since Monday. He's been living in relative squalor, with no bedding or towels and intermittent loo roll. He was due home this evening - Small Person and I were supposed to go to the airport to collect him and his colleague. We were both excited; her because it was an adventure and she's missed him, me because since he's been away I've been in a sort of trance. Seriously, it's like my arm fell off or something. I can't sleep (although this might be because Stephen fucking Hawking woke me up with ear-bleed tv at 12.45 am...only turning it off at 1am when I hammered on his front door, hopefully scaring the bejesus out of him in the process. The cunt..), I can't eat, I don't know what I'm doing. So anyway, tonight was supposed to involve me picking them up from the airport then dropping them at their respective homes, safe in the knowledge that at some point tomorrow I get a huge, huge cuddle and the security of him being home for a couple of months. Instead, just as we're heading out of town, I get a phone call explaining that they've missed the flight. It was delayed so they were in the cafeteria watching the screens. It went from "delayed" to "boarding, last call" and when they got to the gate it had gone. It transpired that the Iberia staff had been paging them but, in the words of one of the mouth-breathing fucktards on the Iberia desk "the speakers don't work by the cafeteria". Oh well, fuck you very much, Iberia. Easyjet have three no-shows on a flight into the UK but for some arcane reason they are unable to resell the seats. This is beyond me - they could effectively charge three times the price and they'd sell them - tonight anyway. So at the moment our brave boys are sitting on the floor in Madrid airport hoping to make standby on a midnight flight into Heathrow. Should this come off (and should they be able to secure a hire car at this end), I can expect a tired and dishevelled Other Half on my doorstep at around 4am tomorrow. If not, there's a possibility of getting into Gatwick via Lisbon at 13.oo tomorrow (I am in contact with Colleague's girlfriend who is a good friend of mine and who is playing travel agent on her enviable broadband connection attempting to source an alternative). Failing that, I'll see him sometime on Tuesday. It may yet come to that - the Lisbon/Gatwick flight is over seven hundred quid each although I expect the company credit card will take the necessary battering.

Bottom line is this. I've been on my own since Monday (apart from Small Person who has been a tower of strength this evening - she bravely stayed up til 9pm to keep me company). I may yet be on my own for another three nights. I do not function well on my own. I need that man to come home, and soon. Do you hear me, Iberia? Easyjet? These are people and they need to be home. I know that on the grand scale of things this is vastly insignificant. But, fuck it. It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to.

That is all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wow! I wish I'd thought of that*

This week's Top Tip comes from Enid of Horsham, who has a fabulous suggestion now that we're hurtling towards what the Daily Mail would have us believe will be the worst winter since the Ice Age (but Emma Thompson's had a haircut, so things aren't all bad).....

"For something different at picnics, try sandwiches with a mashed potato and onion filling."

I'm sure you'll agree with me that, on those bracing winter picnics, there's nothing guaranteed to cheer everyone up like an onion and mashed potato sandwich, as as they sit hunched in leaky cagoules on some godforsaken hilltop.

Or how about Maureen from Stoke on Trent's handy hint for avoiding the tiresome bother of only buying as many vegetables as you need:

"To keep carrots fresh, wrap them tightly in newspaper like a pack of sausages, with the pointed ends to the middle. Put the parcel in a plastic bag, secure it with an elastic band and place in the bottom of the fridge. It'll keep for weeks!"

Well done Maureen! Without your helpful tip I'd simply shop to suit my requirements, and where's the fun in that when I could spend many happy hours knocking up complicated storage for my root vegetables? Instead, your labour-saving suggestion will free up the time to try out Linda of Newport's idea for keeping my handbag tidy:

"Throwing out an old pair of jeans? Cut off the back pockets and stitch them together. Now you have a handkerchief pocket to keep in your handbag".

I've done mine already, Linda, and it's been a real boon. And my kitchen has never been cleaner or looked more stylish since I learned from Joan of Warrington to.....

"Keep sandwich makers and other small kitchen gadgets dust-free by covering them up with a shower cap".

Perfect, Joan! And now I have so much more cupboard space free to store the gross of aubergines that I've individually wrapped in old pillowcases (lined with four alternate layers of tinfoil and cotton wool), secured with a complicated yet vital arrangement of knotted shoelaces, and boiled gently in freshly-squeezed lime juice (thanks once more to Maureen in Stoke).

Do any other readers have any labour-saving tips to share?

* These are all genuine** tips from this week's rich source of blogging material.
** With the possible exception of the one about the aubergines**
*** I know that aubergines are not root vegetables. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

You might want to put those crisps down...

So at 9.15 this morning I was sitting in the waiting area of the Phototherapy department at the local hospital, watching with horror as the nurse gave the UVA-protective goggles a cursory wipe with a cloth. I may have a skin condition myself but believe me, that doesn't mean I want to have something previously worn by a man so flaky that it seemed unlikely he would even exist by the time he'd shrugged himself back into his smelly anorak and velcroed his (and I'm quoting the nurse here) "weepy" feet back into his sandals, next to my face. The choice was not mine, however, and twenty minutes later I was chanting my mantra ("new Faith shoes, new Faith shoes, new Faith shoes") to myself while breathing through my mouth and resolutely not thinking about scabs. I'd like to say at this point that nobody is to feel guilty for an involuntary "euurgh" at the mention of a skin condition. I know how you feel. It ain't pretty, and it's not something anyone likes to see. Well, try sitting in the waiting room of a Dermatology clinic as pictures of scabs, sores and scales loom over you and pale, fidgety people deposit gentle drifts of skin over themselves, the furniture and anything within a metre radius. I've had moderate (by that I mean I'm not actually so bad as to have you averting your eyes while speaking to me) problems with my hands for about twenty years now and I've heard it all. People asking if I've been burned, if it's contagious, people visibly wincing. I can't actually quite believe I'm posting this, even though most of you are relative strangers, as I'm so used to not talking about it. When shopping, I habitually pay for purchases with plastic as, even as I'm sympathising as I know how they must feel, I'm tired of shop assistants looking uncomfortable as they deposit change into my hand. I'm struggling with how to verbalise how tiring and embarrassing it is living with a visible problem like this, and even as I'm typing I'm remembering the exhausted, weeping paraplegic girl I watched crossing the Nicaraguan jungle in a wheelchair on BBC2 last night and marvelling at my capacity for self-pity. When people get to know me it becomes easier and I'm indebted to the Other Half for his patience and his ability to restrain cries of "uurgh, don't put those near that" in, ahem, intimate situations. He's encouraged me to seek further professional help and I'm finally at the stage where I can hope for remission or, at the very outer edge of hope, permanent respite.

Oh bugger, I got all carried away then and forgot the point of the story, which was this:

While I was dreading the scab/goggle thing, a not-unattractive young man came in for his treatment. The nurses weren't quite ready, so he popped into the loo. The loo that was separated from the waiting area by a single door. The proximity to his fellow flakers didn't, however, diminish his apparent urgency and within minutes of his heading cheerfully off down the corridor toward the light-units the rest of us were coughing slightly and pretending not to notice the smell of somebody else's insides.

In light of that whole post I'd like to apologise to anyone who may have been eating. I bet you'd given up by about the third sentence.

Right, now I've alienated you all, I'll be off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Happy Blogday To Me

I'm sure you'll be delighted to join me in celebration of the momentous occasion of this, my hundredth blog post.

In order for me to really maximise my blogging pleasure on my special day, I'm going to need to enlist your help. Don't worry - I haven't got a difficult neighbour, or a large piece of furniture that needs moving or a boil in need of lancing or anything. Let me explain. I know you're out there because, well, without wishing to come off all creepy....I can see you. My sitemeter tells me you visit, but some of you don't talk to me. So in the spirit of narcissism and self-indulgence that you've come to expect from surly old me, this is what I want you to do: simply de-lurk (or step up if you're already a regular) and say hello. You can do it anonymously if you want to. I don't need essays or praise or death threats - just say bonjour and let me know where on the planet you are. I'm not going to invade your privacy; I'm just curious (and needy) so there you go. Please note - this invitation extends to anyone who has arrived here by accident, and to the many disillusioned people who have found their way here while looking for information on how to deal with that persistent verucca.

This is going to end badly, isn't it?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Um, pouch?

I struggle with the word "purse". I just can't bring myself to say it and this therefore leaves me in a quandary. "Wallet" sounds a bit, well, butch and I really don't know of an alternative. I'm new to shoes and handbags and the like (some of us have always been obsessed, however) and the fey, girly terminology doesn't sit well with me. When I married the Ex I had pink hair and wore a tie-dyed (I know, I know...but I can't go back and slap myself no matter how much I want to) dress, stripy socks and combat boots. For a good few years I owned two pairs of shoes - my ex-army combat boots (with three pairs of socks as the smallest I could ever get was a seven) and my Sidi motocross boots (for keeping my toes dry when I was a despatch rider). For some reason shoes became very, very important to me around three years ago and I now have an extensive collection of trainers, flip flops (which may or may not have contributed to our seventy quid excess baggage charge when flying to Mexico in May) and gorgeous, pointy, stiletto-heeled slutty shoes and boots. I'm happiest schlepping around in jeans and trainers but I like a slutty boot for work and of course every girl likes to get tarted up for a totter around town every now and then. But it's still all a bit new to me and therefore I struggle with the terminology. I feel stupid saying "handbag" so please, offer an alternative to "purse" or "wallet" as "pouch" is only going to earn me weird looks and uncomfortable giggling from shop assistants. While I think of it, that's exactly the reaction I got from the nurse in the phototherapy department at the hospital today when, on informing her of my change of next of kin from the Ex to the Other Half, I inadvertently followed the information up with my standard (as in a running joke between me and him) mutter of "I'm such a slut". Given that she'd never laid eyes on me before today her reaction was fairly well-controlled. Well, they must see all sorts, musn't they?

The entire preceding paragraph stemmed from what I was actually intending to write about (but now realise is a very limited subject). Owing to our woefully hungover state on Sunday morning I left my *shudders* handbag with my *winces* purse and diary in it at Fifi's house. Fifi Sis is posting it back to me but in the interim I have been mostly standing in shops fumbling for cash in a small, rustly freezer bag like a demented tramp. It's not a look I'm comfortable with and it makes me tense.

That is all.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Poetry Corner

The sea is wild,
The dolphins swim free.
For this is true,
For the eye you can only see.
Now comes midnight,
The enemies are near.
The dolphin shakes with terror and fear.
These beautiful creatures,
Where have they gone?
We must stop man from destroying them,
It's so wrong.

I honestly can't decide which I like more - the sheer poetry of it (who are the enemies? would a dolphin shake with fear? why does this only happen at midnight?) or the mental image of a twenty-eight-year-old woman sitting in her kitchen in the West Midlands, rereading it and thinking "Yup, happy with that. I think I'll send it to a magazine* so that the entire readership can revel in my engaging wordcraft". Genius.

In other news, I am exhausted after a hectic evening of hot tub hi-jinks over at Fifi Sis' house. The Other Half is off to Tenerife for a week (what a terrible strain his job is) so please be aware that you will need to comment in your thousands to keep my morale boosted until his return on Friday. In return, I promise I won't talk about my divorce** any more.

Carry on.

* I am fully aware that it's my own fault for being addicted to the sort of magazines that print this stuff. So sue me.

** I do however reserve the right to bang on endlessly about Robbie Williams as I am once more in the grip of a relentless celebrity crush.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Because everyone loves an uncomfortable silence

Sometimes, regardless of how much I resent it, I have to interact with other people. This is happening a lot lately as, owing to the Ex working ridiculous hours at the moment, I'm doing the school run every morning. This week, owing to my childminder conveniently choosing the week before half-term for her holiday, I'm also picking Madam up in the afternoons and offloading her on a series of random strangers*. This, regrettably, necessitates the negotiation of the social minefield that is Talking to the Other Mothers in the Playground. And I don't like it. Not one bit. I'm not confident/mental/posh enough to simply throw random details of my life at them so you'd think personal matters would be firmly off the topic agenda. Not so. On Monday the mother of one of the mothers was picking up her granddaughter. The daughter (of the grandmother, so therefore the mother of the child...are you keeping up at the back?) had been hugely pregnant with twins and I innocently enquired as to whether the babies had been born yet. This woman, who I had spoken to once before in my life (and we had talked about the weather, as you do) was more than happy to tell me that yes, the babies had been born the week before. She knew they were on the way though, as she'd bathed her daughter the night before and she'd had, and I quote, "a smell about her". I was then informed that although the origin of this smell couldn't be verified, it was probably "her waters leaking". Um, thanks. So now I have to nod and smile politely while feigning interest in your naked daughter and her vaginal odour. Lovely.

Does this only happen to me?

* This is not true. I have met at least one of them before, and not in a pub.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


That's the noise that this blog makes me want to make. I'm normally fairly articulate but I struggle to find the words to properly encapsulate the feeling that the....the....the fuckwittedness of whoever this belongs to engenders in me. I honestly couldn't tell you exactly what it is that bothers me so much. Technically I should just forget it exists and get on with my life where real, actual issues should occupy me - such as Mariah Carey's burly legs, big scary man-hands and startling self-delusion, or how much I hate the Daily Mail, or any number of important things. Instead I find myself dropping incredulous, hate-filled comments on this most ridiculous of "causes". Just why anyone cares remotely about this is totally, totally beyond me. Some of the comments are hilarious though - my favourite being from Dead Man Jones who has this to say on the subject:

"I have never before been passionately moved to announce my apathy, it being self-contradictory. Your blog has changed this. I now want to scream from the rooftops that I, being of sound mind, couldn't given a tinker's cuss what logo Ask / Ask Jeeves uses. I am deeply passionate about my lack of passion on this subject, and very serious when I say I don't take your cause seriously. "

And a literary genius who goes by the name of Surly Girl who felt sufficiently moved to add:

"um, why would i care? couldn't you just, i don't know, get over it?"

Advice I would do well to take myself, I fear.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

D.I.V.O.R.C.E (part the second)

Before I begin I'd like to request that you suspend your judgement for the duration of this post. Both the Other Half and I are aware of the hurt we've caused and are dealing with the guilt. It gets easier with time but the knowledge of how we came to be so happy will never leave us.

I arrived home from my work trip at 3.30am. I was exhausted. I had been crying on and off since the departure lounge at Gibraltar airport as I simply didn't want to go home. When we arrived at Gatwick there was a long delay even disembarking the plane as steps could not be found. We then had to take the train over to the other terminal to collect our hire cars which in itself was a protracted affair as a member of our party refused to accept the first two cars allocated to her and spent a great deal of time inspecting the third before finally agreeing to take it. It was a two-hour drive home and I dropped three people off on the way. All the way home I was fielding increasingly angry calls from the Ex who, despite having been appraised of the situation, seemed determined to hold me personally accountable for my late arrival home. When I finally arrived and closed the front door behind me the sense of suffocation was unbearable. Despite his earlier protestations to the contrary the Ex was asleep upstairs, so I unpacked my suitcase and sat down with a drink to catch up on the news and unwind before going to bed. Ten minutes later the living room door flew open and the Ex threw a duvet at me with the words "Well, you made your mind up. I haven't seen you for four days and you'd rather watch the fucking TV". Charming. So I spent the rest of the night on the sofa which was a comfortable, familiar place due to the fact that I'd slept on it pretty much every night since Small Person was born four years previously. The next morning the Ex refused to even speak to me. I called him to find out what was going on and he suggested that I call into his place of work to talk things through before heading off to work myself. When I arrived he attempted to employ his usual tactic of pretending he'd "forgiven" me (for what, I can't imagine) and assuming everything would be ok. His face on learning that everything was about a mile past ok was something of a picture. I can't believe it took me eight years to say it but the relief once the words were out of my mouth was indescribable. I went to work and by 11am the next day had rented a flat and set in motion our separation.

The Other Half remained abroad for a further few days during which time we texted and used MSN to stay in touch. We learned an awful lot about each other in that time and arranged to meet when he got back. I spoke in a previous post about the human mind's ability to compartmentalise and this kicked in with me almost immediately. On one level I was in the middle of leaving my home and causing great upheaval in my daughter's life. On another I was experiencing the heady rush of a burgeoning relationship. On yet another, I was resolutely not thinking about the fact that the Other Half had been married for a very long time. I was also successfully not thinking about his wife, or the damage and hurt I was potentially causing. I can't justify my behaviour but I'd ask you to step into my shoes for a moment, if you wouldn't mind. After languishing for years in an unhappy marriage I had met a man with whom I shared a sense of humour, a love of music and pretty much an outlook on how life should be. He made me laugh like nobody I'd ever met (still does, every single day) and in a very short time, and completely unwittingly, had shown me that I was worth something - that I deserved much better than I was settling for. That I deserved more than endless sulking, violent rages and petty, small-minded squabbling. That I deserved more than a man who thought nothing of humiliating me in front of friends, who couldn't afford me the simple courtesy of speaking politely to me, who cared not at all for my feelings, hopes or fears. A man who preferred me to be very overweight as it took the weight off his own insecurities. A man who, in short, didn't deserve me. Faced with this I took the selfish decision to simply go with it - to embrace it and to hell with the consequences.

Those consequences turned out to be nearer and harsher than we could have imagined. On his return, the Other Half and I arranged to spend a weekend together. This of course demanded a cover-story. The cover-story was, of course, blown and the Saturday morning found the Other Half's life in turmoil. I of course understood that as far as his marriage was concerned I would always be the loser and as such I gracefully accepted that we couldn't see each other any more. This was always going to be difficult as we work together but believe me, we really did try to keep things on a platonic footing. This was incredibly hard - to hold something lovely for such a short time only to have it snatched away was painful for both of us - but we understood that our actions had caused our pain and that of others and, as such, tried to move on. Fate stepped in again however, and what happened next was so shocking that nobody could have anticipated it.

In the early hours of September 13th, 2004, the Other Half woke up with an agonising headache. He spent the next few days vomiting and unable to walk due to the complete loss of his balance and disorienting double vision. Both he and his wife assumed that he was suffering from a stress-related migraine, and a trip to the doctor confirmed this suspicion. When he returned to work he was still experiencing double vision. I could see that his left eye was turned in so that he was effectively looking at his nose, and ventured that maybe other people shouldn't be able to see physical evidence of simple double vision. I nagged him to make another appointment with his doctor which he duly did. The next I heard on the matter was via a phone call in which he explained to me that he was at the hospital. The doctor had referred him to the opthalmologist, who in turn had referred him to the neurology department on noticing a large amount of blood behind his left eye. The following day's MRI scan confirmed that the Other Half, far from having a migraine, had instead had a brain haemorrhage and was pretty much lucky to have survived it. This was an awful time for everyone - the Other Half naturally feared for his life, his wife was mortified that her annoyance at what she assumed was a migraine resulting from the discovery of his infidelity may well have been the last contact she had with her husband, and I was feigning indifference at the office while panicking that he would die. He didn't, and was discharged after a couple of days to convalesce at home. He was signed off work for six weeks and during this time our email and MSN correspondence resumed. We met up whenever we could and by the end of October neither of us could deny it any longer - we had fallen in love.

When I look back on those times it's a bittersweet feeling. I was living with my daughter and enjoying a wonderful relationship. It was everything I could have hoped for. Except for the part where he left my bed and went home to get into his with somebody else, that is. The weird compartmentalising thing saved me once more and I continued to cherish the time we spent together and, when we were together, avoid all thoughts of reality. Poor old Fifi Sis was subjected to endless conversations in which every word and subtext would be analysed. Although I would never have admitted it to him, or dreamed of asking him about it I wanted him to leave his wife. Things eventually became intolerable in this respect - every time he told me he loved me I wanted to scream "So why aren't you with me then?! If I'm so fucking wonderful why don't you want to be with me?". Of course I never vocalised my dreams. If we were to have a future together it had to be on an equal footing and if I asked him to change things for us we would never have had that. I eventually came to the conclusion that in the long term it would be less painful to end things than to continue as we were but struggled to find the courage to do it. I didn’t want to as I loved him so much and didn’t want to contemplate how life would be without him but there didn’t seem to be any other solution. The very next morning, out of the blue, he called me at 8am to tell me the very thing I'd been hoping for - he was leaving his wife. This is the part I struggle with. It was (and still is) hard to reconcile my happiness with the devastation she must have felt on hearing that her partner of twenty years was leaving her. I have nothing to say that could ever justify any of this and I don't expect any sympathy. As I've already said, I know what I've done. I can't change that and on an entirely selfish level I wouldn't want to. Maybe karma will get me in the end and in five years time I'll be crying as he tells me that girl from the bar didn't mean anything to him and that it's me he loves. Who knows what the future holds?

So, that's pretty much it. Next year we're planning on buying a house and moving in together. Small Person adores him and I have a sneaking suspicion the feeling might be mutual. The Ex and I are now on speaking terms and mostly working together to secure Small Person's future. I am happier than I ever dreamed possible - I honestly thought that things like this didn't happen in real life. The simple fact of the matter is that the Other Half and I are soulmates and we know how lucky we are to have found each other.

Blimey, that turned out to be an epic - perhaps I should have made it a three-parter. Thanks for listening.

Carry on.

Monday, October 17, 2005

D.I.V.O.R.C.E (part the first)

I met the Ex for the second time in 1996. I was twenty-three and had spent the two years since my twenty-first birthday in a beer-soaked, drug-addled haze. I had had a pretty traumatic relationship with someone who had consistently played on my insecurities, exploited my advantages and subsequently dumped me and I was in a fairly raw emotional state. I first met the Ex on a bike rally in 1994 but he was with his then-long-term girlfriend and we had done nothing more than flirt. When my friend subsequently brought him down to visit one weekend two years later, the beer and pot combined to make both he and I feel as if we had found our destiny, and Small Person's future fate was sealed. In the beginning it was all as you'd expect. He was attentive, courteous and funny. I was damaged, needy and vulnerable and the rest is, sadly, history. Within two months we had moved in together, sharing a room in a friend's flat. It soon became apparent, due to my debt and lack of regular work and his ongoing relationship with a girl he knew before he met me that things were not sustainable and, shortly after buying a house together, I found myself summarily dismissed. It was a desparate, awful time and during it I convinced myself that he was the love of my life and that I simply couldn't live without him. I eventually began to recover and it was around the time that I embarked on a new relationship (which can only be comfortably described in the company of a log fire and a scotch or three due to its just-plain-weirdness) that he, somewhat predictably, became "I've Made a Terrible Mistake" man and I agreed to give things another go. In retrospect I knew at the time that I was making a mistake. Within six weeks we were engaged and within three months we had variously moved in to "our" house, arranged a wedding and weathered the storm of a nervous breakdown (his). If we were both brutally honest we would have agreed to cut our respective losses and make a clean break. The spectre of his past infidelity hung over us - I knew he had cheated but to disclose the evidence (a cinema ticket found in his wallet, among other things) would have led to accusations of snooping and potential all-out war and by this stage all I wanted was to settle down to a "normal" life. We married and began to adjust. I was never really happy - prone to bouts of depression that manifested themselves in weeping fits and irrational anger - but the one thing I was determined to prove was that I was capable of a normal, happy relationship. Eventually we were financially sound enough to consider starting a family and six months later I was expecting Small Person. I was horribly ill during my pregnancy and the labour (all sixty hours of it) was hard work. But the end result was more than worth it and I tried very hard over the ensuing weeks, months and years to convince myself that everything in the garden was rosy. All this time I was fighting depression and our relationship was deteriorating. I have vivid recollections of being late for work in Small Person's first year (I returned doing thirty hours a week when she was five months old) as the Ex would come home from his shift and an almighty row would invariably kick off. The feeling of suffocation was permanent and my only small peace came some time later when I made a deliberate decision to put my fears and unresolved desires aside and simply knuckle down to the day-to-day business of sustaining a marriage. I figured that I was no worse off than a lot of people and to this day I wonder how many out there are telling themselves the same thing.

In October of 2002 I started work at my present company. Within two weeks I found myself in Southampton on an overnight trip, which was part of my working responsibilities. A few of us from the office were there and I spent the evening in the company of various relative strangers, one of whom I felt an immediate connection with. Over the following weeks and months I was in the grip of what I can only liken to a schoolgirl crush. As is the way of these things I got control of it - we were both married and it was unlikely that things would ever progress. I continued to make a superficial go of my marriage but found myself concocting ever-more exotic imaginary downfalls for the Ex that would free me to live life as I wanted to. At that point my dreams amounted to nothing more than a small home of my own and some peace, as things were becoming increasingly fraught. And then in August of last year I was on a work trip. We have these every year where I work - a chance for us to experience the product first-hand, and for me in particular a chance to escape day-to-day life and live a little. Occasionally other staff members are travelling as well and this particular trip found myself and the colleague I had previously been attracted to thrown together. On the second night, rather too many cocktails lent me the courage I perhaps needed and I (apparently - never trust a Filipino waiter with a cocktail recipe book and and endless supply of Woo-Woo's) laid my cards on the table. I left the trip three days later with a whole new perspective on life. On arriving home my worst fears were realised and I knew that I simply couldn't go on with my marriage. At this stage there was nothing concrete to link my decision to what had happened on my trip - all that my colleague had done was to, in some small way, show me that there was more to life than I was currently enduring. So I found the courage somehow, said what I'd waited years to say and three days later the Ex and I separated for good.

I feel at this point that I've rambled on a bit too long and I'm not even nearly done. If anyone is interested in what happened next (and there's subterfuge, trauma and a near-death experience still to come) I'll continue tomorrow.

Carry on.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Strange Town

Ah, Sunday afternoon. The Other Half is asleep on the sofa watching the football so I'm posting in an effort to avoid the washing up. I've just returned from Asda which was, as usual, filled with blank-faced, dead-eyed people and their unwashed unruly children. I suffer from terrible snobbery in these places and feel compelled (although I've managed to stifle the urge thus far) to hand over my card to pay while announcing in a loud, steady voice "I've got a job, you know". It used to be the same when I lived at my old house with the Ex and we had a pre-pay electricity meter. I'd stand in the queue at the post office and find myself saying to Small Person "Oh, darling, but we have to get the electricity card now as Mummy will be at work all week, won't she?". I ask you, as if anyone cared? My protestations of full-time employment would, however, trigger my working-mother guilt and I'd then stand fretting over whether it was better to seem unemployed, or an uncaring parent hell-bent only on financial gratification rather than the emotional well-being of my child. The only solution was to buy wine, chocolate and Heat magazine and spend an evening lost in a happy reverie of Robbie Williams, divorces and new beginnings.

The shopping population of Asda is symptomatic of the town I now call home. Although I like it here (I moved here from Essex - enough said) it's not without its oddities. I suspect that every town has its little pockets of weirdness - places that you walk through with the feeling that all the angles are slightly wrong and that the people have an indefinable not-quite-rightness about them. As I walked to the tattooist on Friday (I'm not having any more tattoos, honestly) I passed a young woman who was (and please bear in mind that this was at 2pm on Friday, in pretty much the centre of town) reclining on a low wall in what can only be described as a suggestive manner. This in itself is not outside the (very edge of the) boundaries of normal behaviour and, had she not been clutching a fairly new-looking, unboxed video recorder I probably wouldn't have walked past trying not to look in the vain hope of figuring out what the hell she was doing. As I passed, she languidly uncurled herself, stood up and strolled off, still nonchalantly gripping her random electrical equipment as she melted into the crowds. Slightly further along the road was a group of three young women, one of whom was carrying a small boy who looked to be around two years old. They were evidently discussing Christmas presents as the woman holding the child said to him "Well, maybe if you're good you might get a bike". I was smiling to myself at the thought of Christmas being a time of peace, goodwill and bribing your children to be good with the threat of telling Father Christmas how evil they've been and therefore restricting potential presents to an orange and a piece of tinfoil when she followed this suggestion up with "So you'll stop saying "bitch" then? No more "bitch"?". Predictably the boy responded smartly with a cry of "bitch!" and they disappeared down into the underpass. It was a relief to find myself in the relative normality of the tattooist's, and as the burly woman with the swallow tattooed on her neck booked me in I finally began to relax.

In case anyone was considering it, I feel duty-bound to tell you that having a tattoo on your foot fucking hurts. Carry on.

Can anyone see me??

I've realised today that my blog's been down for some reason. I couldn't see it on my laptop at home but my dialup is so slow I assumed that it was simply that. However I tried just now on the Other Half's super duper whizzy broadband and couldn't see it either. I've republished it and hopefully normal service has been resumed - in all senses as a couple of day's break have me fizzing with ideas.

So, help me out here. Did anyone try and get here only to be met with a blank screen? And will anyone ever come back?

Do tell.

Friday, October 14, 2005


It was decided yesterday that Small Person will be spending Christmas eve and Christmas day at her Dad's. This is for a number of reasons (mostly to do with his parents, their insistence on seeing her open her presents and my reluctance to invite them to the flat) and will be a repeat of last year. I'm sort of glad in a weird way. Last year was everyone's first Christmas apart (I left the Ex in August, the Other Half left home in November) so it was potentially a very difficult time. It wasn't without its problems; notably a weeping, hysterical phone call from the Ex demanding to know why me and my GBF had had our Christmas dinner with Small Person the week before as she was saying she didn't want another one (this was resolved in the end by firm and repeated application of the phrase "what, in real terms, can I actually do about this?" which led to his eventual retreat) and, on leaving the Ex's house on the day itself (having been over to watch Small Person open her presents*), being presented with a card which read "To My Wife at Christmas" and a clumsy attempt at a snog (eeurgh). That aside, the Other Half and I had a wonderful day. We drank champagne, ate far too much and went for a drunken giggly walk through the park. It was an interesting exercise in the ability of the human mind to compartmentalise - I was missing Small Person, the Other Half had listened to his ex-wife crying on the phone that morning, we both had guilt and upset to deal with. Yet it remains golden and warm in my mind and I'm looking forward to more of the same (Now with Added Peace!!!) this year.

* Possibly the most pointless exercise on the Separated Parent's Guilt Spectrum. There is nothing to be gained for anyone involved from watching an over-excited four year old rend and tear through a massive amount of presents only to then feign indifference and demand last year's Barbie.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Not being the sort to succumb to party games I was tempted to ignore UC and the Great She Elephant and their attempts to get me to put my rum punch down, stop shredding my party hat and join in the tagging game. However, it's Thursday, it's doing that mizzle thing (not the Snoop Dog thing - the misty rain thing) outside and I'm passing time til 11.15am so here goes: (in three parts as I can't post the whole thing at once..grrr)

1. I can't whistle and it annoys me. Not as much as when other people whistle though.

2. I'm related to the Beverley Sisters.

3. I was once arrested (drunk and disorderly, natch) but got let off with a caution.

4. I was stoned last night.

5. I used to be a motorcycle courier in London. I was rubbish at it as I can't read maps and was once guided into Reading city centre via my controller and a mobile phone.

6. I am obsessed with Robbie Williams. Proper, he'd-marry-me-tomorrow-if-he-only-knew-I-existed obsessed. Mmmmm.

7. Although I had the potential to go far I screwed up my academic career and have since lurched from one unfulfilling job to the next. I feel slightly uncomfortable around clever people.

8. I know all the words to all the songs ever and am therefore supremely irritating on a pop quiz team.

9. I'm waiting for my rich relatives to start dying so that I can get out of debt.

10. As no. 9 demonstrates, I am both shallow in the extreme and hopeless with money.

Now scroll down......
11. I stole the Other Half from his wife of seventeen years. I feel guilty about it but it doesn't stop me being happy.

12. I worry constantly. And I mean constantly. Most of the time I couldn't even tell you what I'm worried about.

13. I've taken LSD and it was the worst experience of my life. Just say no, kids.

14. Of all the friends I've had in my life I can count the fallback, there-in-a-second, never-judge-you friends on less fingers than I have on one hand. You know who you are.

15. Don't ever lend me anything. I'm very good at borrowing things but suffer from a complete inability to give things back.

Now scroll down.....
16. I have the potential to become a pushy stage mother. I fight it but I fear that one day I will enrol Small Person in Stagecoach and find myself standing in the wings, gripping her firmly by the chin and hissing "just get out there and do it like we practised and smile, dammit" before pushing her out on stage to falter through a song from Annie under my encouraging glare.

17. I know I should care more about the bigger issues but I can't be bothered.

18. I make a fabulous cottage pie.

19. I read Jackie Collins books and I'm not ashamed of it.

20. I'm getting another tattoo tomorrow.

So, there you go. Passed five minutes, didn't it? Donna, Smat, Whinger, Betty and Some Guy on a Journey, you're up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The blogging muse has deserted me. I have blogger's block. I really don't know what to do except to say that I have nothing at all to say that would remotely interest you. It used to be easy - posts would flow with no effort at all - the most difficult part would be the title. Lately though it's all been a bit tricky and I think that shows in my subject matter. I never intended a daily journal and that's what it seems to have become. Maybe it's the culmination of a heavy weekend and a good few sleepless nights but I feel a little despondent about it all today so I'll retreat and regroup and catch you later. Probably.

Ooh, look!! Kittens!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dude, where's my liver?

Considering the amount of alcohol I put away yesterday it's a miracle I can walk, talk or see so you're lucky to be getting this post. We started at midday and got home, by the Other Half's reckoning (I was past reckoning by this stage, as you will see) at around ten thirty. Over the ten or so hours I had at least ten pints of lager, one shot of tequila and two shots of something blue. We drank, we danced (well, me and him did anyway), we went to a punk gig (apparently) and we really, really should have gone home sooner. And oh, how we laughed. It was hard not to really, what with the birthday boy in a hot-pink bridesmaid dress and a seventies pimp with zebra-print platform boots among the entourage. I have probably never laughed so much in my life but boy, I'm suffering for it today. My cutlass broke, I lost my telescope and I never even managed to put my eyepatch on. I'm told I walked into an unprecedented three lamp-posts on the way home but this is unsubstantiated due to me not remembering anything past the taxi to the last pub, let alone the walk to the taxi rank and the solace of a warm comfy place to pass out in. And would you believe it, someone else went as a pirate. Typical. But I won because I had more earrings. There will be photos tomorrow but my dialup is so ridiculously slow that I can't post any now. However, anyone who cares to pop over here and scroll down a bit will see the assembled lunatics in all their glory. There are now six more people in the world who never want to see the Other Half's genitals again and for that we sincerely apologise. Apart from that, who says binge drinking is bad for you? We had a whale of a time.

In other news, while we were enjoying a restorative fry-up in the best greasy spoon in town this morning, the Other Half and I choked on our sausages when the large couple at the next table stood up to leave and said to their eighteen month old son "come on Hendrix, we're going now". Poor kid. I suppose he'll consider himself lucky in later life that he's not called Zappa or Malmsteen. What is the world coming to? Oh, and Small Person banged her head getting out of Daddy's car yesterday and felt moved to comment "Oh, fucking hell". Glad to see school is being such a positive influence.

Friday, October 07, 2005

from the Ministry of Bad Ideas..

....which has previously been responsible for, among other things, Live 8, Wings and James Blunt's recording contract, has excelled itself with this. Another travesty in the name of charity. I know it's all in a good cause and all that but I just don't understand at what point this idea seemed good enough to actually run with. So Rog and Planty are having a nice cup of tea when Planty, bored with all the trout-farming stories, blurts out "I know!! Let's record a single in memory of John Peel!! It'll be great!! We can get loads and loads of bands to join in and make it ever so modern, and Elt's measured tones and twinkly piano will really enhance the whole punk sound!!". Um, hello? It just sounds horrible - like when your Dad dances to the Ramones at your birthday party and all your friends are there and you have to drink half a bottle of ouzo that you found in the sideboard to get over it and then you're sick on yourself and nobody speaks to you at school on Monday. And that faint whirring sound you can hear is Peely spinning in his grave like a fat girl on the waltzers.

In other news, tomorrow is Fancy Dress Pub Crawl day. Think of us at about four o'clock tomorrow afternoon - by then we'll be hammered and Donna will be telling us another story that makes us shift uncomfortably in our seats. Hurray!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mirror, signal, red mist....

There's a myth perpetuated by the media that road rage and bad driving are the preserve of small boys in rubbish cars with great big spoilers. As an aside, if I ever fulfil my destiny and end up running the country I'm going to outlaw modification of cars under 1.4 litres. That'll fuck 'em. Anyway, I'm here to tell you that it's not them at all. It's thirty-something women on the school run. To get to Small Person's school we have to run the gauntlet of another primary school and it's like something out of Mad Max. If viewed from above it would look like a demolition derby as frazzled, furious women jockey for position outside the school and passing (or trying to) motorists wave their arms and bite lumps out of their steering wheels. Every so often a lollipop lady will up the stakes by plunging headlong and without warning into the melee, adding a frisson of danger and excitement to the whole event. There's the added bonus of a single-lane bridge just past the school and often a hapless and not-aggressive-enough driver will sit forlornly on the other side as cars stream relentlessly past them. My current tactic is to turn up the stereo so Small Person can't hear me swearing and to not lift my foot from the accelerator (lollipop ladies permitting) until we're safely through. After that it's a clear run to Small Person's school, where I like to frustrate other drivers with a breathtaking display of dangerous parking accompanied by no indication whatsoever of what I might do next.

In other news, I demand that everyone who hasn't already done so goes out this evening and rents Mighty Wind.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Self-pity, part the second.

Hostilities have escalated round our way. Small Person is not reacting well to the pressures of Year 1, and in particular the homework aspect. Although she's a fluent reader she struggles with writing and this week's assignment is wholly text-based. It's a lot of work for a five year old but I'm bullying guiding her through it as best I can. For the last few nights she's been waking up crying in the night but refusing to tell me what the matter is which is worrying me no end. There's the added bonus of the influence of a new peer group to contend with which is manifesting itself in foot-stamping, answering back and a new song that she performed for Grandma on Friday which ends with the showing of knickers. All in all, it's a little tense at home at the moment. Last night's battles culminated in bed-with-no-story and a counter-refusal on her part to go to sleep without one. So this morning she was, predictably, tired, and it all went spectacularly wrong. I'm also tired as me and sleeping aren't really on speaking terms at the moment. Needless to say the combination of my tiredness and her tiredness is an explosive one, and as I stood there screaming at the weeping little girl sitting in a puddle of milk and rice krispies (they don't do so much of the snap-crackle-pop thing when they're soaking into the fucking carpet, you know) it occurred to me what a joke it is that I'm trying to look after a five year old when I can't even look after myself. Honestly, I'd have laughed if I hadn't been crying so hard.

In other news, we definitely have some sort of wasp problem at the flats. There was another wasp in the bathroom this morning and when we left for school/work there were six wasps on the landing and a couple more downstairs. How lovely.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happiness is box-shaped.

In the midst of all my angsty rambling last week, a ray of sunlight shone through the gloom. Having whined previously about not being able to get any anywhere, I had resigned myself to never laying my hands on a pair. However, I hadn't bargained for the tenacity and just-plain-sneakiness of the Other Half. Unbeknownst to me he went poking around on eBay and found the beautiful specimens you see before you. They were meant to be a surprise but he was so excited that he told me the minute he bought them. So that's now three pairs of shoes he's bought me. Could life be any better? Having spent my married life buying shoes only to sneak them to the back of the wardrobe for a few weeks before wearing them for the first time and tutting that I'd had them for ages, god, do you never notice anything about me, having an Other Half who in addition to being everything I never thought I'd have actually buys me shoes still freaks me out a little bit. Not as much as his encylopaedic knowledge of music, his love of processed food and his eerie tidiness obviously, but a bit.

In other news, I have no other news. Carry on.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

What price friendship?

We were delighted when our friend told us that she'd finally split from her boyfriend. When we first met him he seemed great - he was the life and soul of the party and loved a laugh. We spent some mad nights out together, drinking and generally having a blast. When it became evident that it wasn't all it seemed, however, things changed. It transpired that the happy facade masked a bitter, abusive man. He was in debt to the tune of thousands of pounds and spent his evenings coaching our friend through loan application after loan application, as his own credit rating was stretched beyond repair. Nothing was ever good enough for him, and there was an altogether darker side that only came to light when she left him the first time. She spent that weekend in my flat, crying and telling horror stories about how life was with him. By the Sunday afternoon she had secured a place in a women's refuge and had organised emergency school transport for her fourteen year old son. Sadly it was the same old story, and by Monday evening she was back at home with him, "making a go of it". At this point we began to draw away from the situation but it was hard. I've known her for over ten years. She took me in when a relationship of mine ended. We've spent many nights in each other's company and I consider her a close friend of mine. But where is the line drawn? At what point do you leave someone to their own devices? Once you've exhausted every line of reasoning? Once you're convinced that they simply won't, or can't, listen to the truth? And is that your truth or the objective truth? In this case she eventually found the strength to leave. Admittedly the catalyst was a beating which culminated in him stamping on her ribs with a booted foot, before spitting in her face and heading off for a restful night's sleep. So she packed a bag and finally got out. The negotiations since then have been protracted and have occasionally involved myself of the Other Half - me in the role of shoulder to cry on and him in the role of six-foot taker-of-no-shit in an abortive attempt to recover some of her belongings from their shared flat. As things stand currently he has no idea where she lives, although he shows up in her local pub every so often. She is working two jobs and is comforted by the knowledge that her son is forging a new and stable life with her parents. They are in regular contact and she is hopeful for his future, and for their future relationship. Her abusive relationship will, hopefully, be consigned to that ever-growing pile we all tuck away and label "experience". It wasn't her first violent relationship - she escaped to a refuge when her son was small after his father became increasingly unstable and the beatings became ever more frequent and vicious. But I hope it will be her last, and I thought that finally she could find some peace. With all this in mind, we were cautiously pleased to hear on Friday night that she's met someone new. He's lovely, we're assured. Genuinely a happy, caring person, with no sign of a violent or bitter streak. She's sure we'll love him when we meet him and she thinks he might be "the one".

Except we won't be meeting him any time soon as he's currently on the run, having broken the parole conditions that granted him early release from a seven year sentence for murder. So I'll ask you again: at what point do you give up on someone and entrust them to their fate?

In other news, Small Person had an eye test today and did so well that she won a brand-new pair of funky pink glasses. She is desperately excited and can't wait to get them next weekend. Her father was quick to point out that my defective genes are to blame but I contented myself with the knowledge that at least she's also inherited my intelligence, sense of humour and the ability to tell when she needs a wash.

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