Friday, 30 January 2009

Wobbly Woman

Photo Credit: Ray Tomes
Here's a top tip for all you wannabe ice skaters:

Don't go out dancing with your friends, drink vodka and fall into bed around 2am the night before a 10:30am ice skating lesson.

It makes you rather wobbly on the ice.

At least I can walk today though. My signature dance move when jumping about to some fabulously funky, exciting, sexy Drum 'n' Bass - as I was last night at Mango's - involves a kind of open-legged squat as I rhythmically wiggle my bum to the floor and back up again. It looks better than it sounds. Very Soca style. Also, very good fun to do.

It's not such fun the day after when you're walking like a geriatric because you've pulled every muscle below your waist. A price I paid the last time I went out with Kath to a Drum 'n' Bass night.

I was fairly sensible last night though. I warmed up with some far less ambitious moves at the Iguana Bar. I forced myself to sit down a few times, which I rarely do when I love the music and don't have to drive, or need to be Children's TV presenter-chirpy (i.e. on Mummy Duty) the following morning.

The best precaution I took was capping my Vodka & Coke consumption at five or six (I wasn't actually counting). I've realised that there is a causal relationship between the frequency of my Bum-to-the-Floor moves and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Elementary, my dear Watson.

I only did a few ambitious moves last night, and mostly my bottom stayed where it should. I'm walking quite normally today and only have a few minor twinges from for my three hour aerobic session.

I was so excited to pick Ella up from school this afternoon. I haven't seen her since Tuesday morning.

Our new sofa arrived today, and we spent a good part of the evening sprawling on it and chatting. I'm looking forward to a nice, mooch-about kind of weekend with her. John has a lot of DIY to get through so it will just be us girls hanging out together. Can't wait...

Sunday, 25 January 2009


A few weeks ago I had an urge to replace all the ‘should dos’ in my life with ‘want to dos’. I was so excited, practically bouncing in the seat of my car as I zipped towards Bracknell. I felt as light and sparky as a sunbeam.

My childlike mood intensified as I pulled into the car park. The sign proclaiming “Home of the Bracknell Bees”started sherbert fizzes in my solar plexus.

Bye bye boring gym. I practically skipped into reception. “Hi, I’m here for the adult beginners ice skating lesson.” I chirped “Do I need a token for the lockers?”

The receptionist looked as buoyant as a burst balloon. “Haven’t you been told? It’s cancelled this week. We called everyone last night.”
They didn’t call me. Charming. An hour and a half round trip for absolutely nothing.

“Well,” I said huffily, “they could have told me when I booked as I only called up yesterday.”

The receptionist deflected my haughty accusation with a weary, sad and extremely unexpected answer. “I’m sorry. We didn’t know until the evening. Our skating instructor died suddenly”.

I was so relieved I hadn’t launched into an affronted protest about my wasted journey. I apologised and asked if it had been a car accident. No, it hadn’t. She was fit and healthy, in the prime of her life and 25 weeks pregnant with her first child. She had been taking a lesson that day and had a headache, so had gone home to rest.

She never woke up. She died from a brain haemorrhage caused by a tumour. The doctors kept her heart beating long enough to give her baby’s lungs a chance to develop. I later found out that little Aya Jayne Soliman was born a few days later by C-section. 

I sat in my car and cried. We all take it for granted that we will reach a ripe old age and have plenty of opportunities to do all the things we want to do.

Ella, J, anyone I love could stop existing at any moment. As could I. That’s not a cloud you can live your life under, but Memento Mori situations such as these urge me on to live a life that I love NOW.

It’s so easy to miss the present and to instead be living into some nebulous future when finally I’ll be living my Perfect Life because I have more money/less wobbly bits/another child/written that novel….etc etc  

Despite the sad start, I am really enjoying my skating lessons. I had my second one on Friday and can now stop (eventually) without crashing into the barrier and I can turn in a full, graceful, albeit wobbly, circle. 

It’s so much more fun than the gym. I’m also far more likely to go ice skating at least once a week.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Bye Bye Bush

Photo credit: Giant Hedge Balls

How's this for an inspired piece of advertising?

Simple, cheeky copy combined with a perfect media placement.

I just love it!

My To Dos Are Getting Done

I submitted my first ever tax return today. I am soooo relieved.

In an attempt to squash my boredom and frustration, I tackled the dreaded task in small chunks. I dedicated an hour or two a day to doing a whole year's accounts AND my tax return. It's taken me just over a week. 

Doing it in little bits was obviously a good tactic, although I suffered a few dark moments wrestling with the overwhelming urge to call up the HMRC and tell them to FCUK.

But, despite the occasional hissy fits, (a perfectly acceptable way of venting when you work from home all by your lonesome) I have to admit that I enjoyed it.

Well, not 'it' as such, more the doing of it. How very Zen. 

I've realised that the To Dos I work hard to avoid are often more heinous in their contemplation than they are in reality. And the sense of achievement when an ageing To Do becomes an It's Finally Done is a far more accessible high to the modern woman than the endorphin rush you could get from scaling Everest, getting your kids to tidy their room or losing six pounds in two weeks.

Now that I have shaken that particular monster off my back, a whole cornucopia of decrepit To Dos are spilling their sorry little selves onto my kitchen chalkboard. This time, they're getting ticked off. One by one.

The difference is I'm keeping them small. My big ambitions and grandiose dreams are broken into bite-sized chunks. Here are the current ones, courtesy of my chalkboard:

1. Cleaning: Hoover bedrooms this week, mop kitchen floor tomorrow, put clothes away today (was 'make house look like a normal person's all the time').

2. Work: Write an inspiring self-promoting email to send to prospective clients by Friday (was 'get two new clients by end of Feb').

3. Health: Go for a walk with Ella and friends on Saturday (was 'fit into that dress by my hen night').

Q. How do you eat an elephant?

A. One little bite at a time

Thursday, 15 January 2009

O is for Orange, and N is for...

Note to self: MUST learn the NATO Phonetic Alphabet to appear more businesslike.

My own make-it-up-on-the-spot version isn't working quite as well as it usually does.

Spelling out my surname on the phone today revealed an unexpected gem:

"...T for tortoise, O for orange and N for, um, N for Knickers." 

Tut tut. Me a copywriter and all. Thank God I was speaking to BT and not a client.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Touching Base (It's Been Taxing)

Just touching base to let you know that I have battled my resistance to all things numerical. Yes, I am finally doing my first set of accounts.


More a words than a numbers kinda gal, I haven't really kept any accounts to speak of since I started freelancing last September. Which makes it rather tricky to do my tax return. No, not tricky...


So, I have just chucked all my receipts away (only those for the small stuff) which has saved me hours, if not days, of being a spreadsheet slave.

I figured it isn't really worth the £100 off my tax bill. I'd rather keep my forehead wrinkle-free thanks. How many stamps do I actually buy, for godsake?

My head is whirling with a year's worth of rent-and-utlitiles-divided-by-number-of-rooms-in-my-house-then-estimate-percentage-of-use-for-business-seeing-as-its-my-lounge-as-well-as-my-office-plus-50%-of-mobile-bills-the-same-with-landline-but-remember-to-omit-the-line-rental...I could go on.

So, because I am otherwise engaged you may never get to know how fabulous my weekend was.

You may not find out about our trip to the Science Museum where Els played with my Spanish friend's kids and their French-speaking cousin. Where I discovered the tag-game 'It' is a pan-European phenomenon.

You may even miss out on what I discovered when I took part in my friend's pre-pilot run-through of her Birth Trauma Recovery Workshop. The trial workshop where I learnt NLP tools that can magic away any unhappy memory or unwanted feeling...including cravings for food/booze/ciggies.

I wouldn't be so mean. I will definitely post about that soon. Promise. I just need to placate HMRC first. I hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

My Girl's Got Heart

Yesterday, Ella and I were settled on the sofa sharing a fleece blanket. 

She had just finished playing with her virtual Pony on her Dad's Nintendo DS (which she has negotiated part shares in). I was slipping into the salty sea air of Coastliners (you haven't read Joanne Harris? Do). 

A soft silence snuggled around us.

After a few minutes, Ella mused "I wonder what I was born for, Mummy".

I put my book down and met her intense gaze. "I don't know, love. What do you think you were born for?"

I watched her purse her lips and frown a little as she searched for a reply. "Well, Mummy I think that it is up to you".

Amazed at this profundity I exclaimed, "Oh, sweetie that's so clever of you! Yes, I think it is completely up to you to choose what you are born for. 

"You can decide who you want to be, what you want to do, what you want your life to be about..." I could feel myself go into Babble Mode, so excited was I at the prospect of having co-created a mini philosopher. Such wise words from a five year old!

"No, Mummy. I mean I think it's up to you to decide what I was born for".

"I don't think so, sweetie. I think it's up to you. I really wouldn't want that responsibility. But thanks anyway."

This morning, I watched Ella have breakfast and felt one of those random feelings of parental joy that grip you sweetly when you least expect them.

She's such a sweet, kind girl. I feel so lucky to be her mother sometimes. Lots of times. Not during whining or moaning times though.

I felt compelled to tell Ella why I love her - I mean why apart from the biological imperative to do so. It's too easy to keep wrapping it all up in a nondescript "I love you". So I told her.

"Did you know, Els, that I think you are clever and kind. You're pretty, you're cute and I feel really lucky to be your mummy." She looked up briefly, smiled and went back to eating her raisin bagel.

"You're so loving and you're so easy to love" I added.

Ella dropped her bagel and locked eyes with me. Hers were as wide as her smile. "Mummy!" she exclaimed in a 'Eureka!' tone, "that's what I was born for".

Do you know, I think that's what I was born for too. Giving love and getting it has always been my main drive. For me, being loving and being loved are the greatest pleasures in life.

I always wondered what my life purpose is.

Thanks, Ella.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I'm back

I well and truly logged off over the Christmas period. I rarely even checked my emails. I had lots of downtime and it was lovely, if a little fraught at times (well, Christmas always is, isn't it?).

Els had a lovely time with her dad and his girlfriend. We spoke on Christmas day, and were reunited three days later.

Having been with Daddy for five days, it took her a while to settle back in with me. Her plaintive lament, "I really miss Daddy and Karen. I want to be with Daddy and Karen!" was on a loop for a good few days. A little hard for me, but deep down I knew she would start to enjoy being with me and J soon. 

I've now got her for a whole week which is fantastic. Her dad & Karen are in the Lake District on holiday (brrr! It's cold enough here!). It's a good feeling when El and I have unbroken time together. Nice and relaxed. Her dad and I usually have Ella for two days each, taking it in turns in the week and then doing alternate weekends. 

It's good to have a full-time mum experience again.  I become more in tune with her and stop trying so hard to please her. We get in the groove together - flow into a steady rhythm that is natural and comforting. My life feels more solid than usual.  

New Year's Eve was fun. We visited my sister in the New Forest and took the kids to a house party. It was quite a laidback affair as most people there had brought their kids/babies/bumps. 

It was the first time I have seen in the New Year with Els, and it was really exciting doing the countdown together, letting off party poppers and then watching fireworks in the garden.

Ella and Sulis (my niece) were surprisingly good-natured the next day, despite such a late night. I managed to buy a little hangover nursing time for the grownups by putting Wall-E on after the kids' breakfast.

When do children start waking late in the morning after a late night? Obviously by the time they're teens, but I wonder if I will get to enjoy the odd 'party night' with Ella followed by a mutual lie-in before then. Let me know what you think...