Reasons why it might have been cool to have kids #1

Alright, alright…… settle down! Don’t get excited/panic, Hell hath not frozeneth over (unlike my ovaries), but you might have to pull up a chair and have some smelling salts to hand. Right. I have not had a radical change of heart in any way shape or form but, I have recently found myself agreeing with the late, great soothsayer Whitney Houston that – I believe the children are indeed, our future…….

No, really.

These last two years have been a real eye-opener for me, as I have quietly come to accept (with some objection) that I am indeed, a bona fide adult. And with that, I see myself observing what young people are saying and doing around the world, from the perspective of a grown-up, using words like ‘the kids’ and ‘yoof’, with no air apostrophes in sight. I also realise that I could have given birth to any one of them, and without even being a gymslip mum. I could have, like, a twenty-five year old or something! Me! *makes immediate appointment to have one of those cryotherapy session thingies*. I’ve watched in admiration as they have organised rallies, demonstrations and protests, and formed pressure groups and campaign movements across the globe – speaking out confidently, speaking up and taking charge of their own futures and destinies. And I’ve wished I could catapult myself back to that age so that I could join them. They are rabble-rousers, trouble-makers, making the kind of ‘good trouble’ Congressman John Lewis advocated in 2016. Failing the appearance of Marty and Doc to whisk me back to my childhood, I’ve also thought that it might have been pretty cool to see any child I might have had, grow up to be politically engaged and rebelling all over the bloody place. I mean, can you even begin to imagine how proud you would be if you’d helped make Malala, Emma Gonzales, the founders of Our Future Our Choice, the young people who fight for education and freedom and challenge politicians daily in the street, on their marches and in the media? They are survivors and fighters, they are mighty and I am in awe of every single one of them.

What I had was Spitting Image, a year as head girl (which I took very seriously as a student representative of my high school), student representative in my second year of university, marching against student loans, an impatience to cast my first vote and rebellious streak; that narrowly avoided taking a former employer to tribunal for unfair dismissal. Mediation solved our problem before it got out of hand. Long story short, the employer in question was an old high street stalwart. *crosses self* RIP. A friend and I gave the required six week’s notice of our finishing time on a forthcoming Christmas eve, as was laid out in the contract. Our branch manager dismissed it and told us we would work late – we left at our own time anyway when the day arrived. On leaving, the manager said, “your contract states that you will do anything I say.” Eeerrrmmm, it really didn’t and this was like a red rag to a bull. Would he speak to older employees like this? Would he speak to male employees like this? Probably not and definitely not. But a sixteen and seventeen year old girl were easy to push around, or so he thought. First thing we asked ourselves once we were outside, was, ‘Shit! Does it say that?’ And then we went to the pub. As a consequence we were summoned to the office the following week and sacked on the spot for gross insubordination. Gross insubordination? Moi? Wasn’t this for murder or theft? Not two gobby girls standing their ground, surely? We got our heads together, read the contract in detail and decided the only course of action was to write to important people, from the top down. So we started with the chairman and CEO, obvs. Then regional managers then our own branch manager to inform him that we had written to the others about him. He. Was. Not. Best. Pleased. Over a three week period, we were interviewed by various people, individually, together and with the boss. And were finally reinstated. D accepted and handed in her notice immediately and I stayed for a month more, just to see his face every day as I arrived cheerily, to stock up the soft toys and St. Valentine display. Then I went too. Ok listen, it was only a part-time shop job, but to us it was pretty big to fight for our rights. And with no legal and/or adult help, it was a bit scary.

This is in no way, shape or form a comparison to our fighters today, but illustrates a certain pig-headedness that I’m sure, would have inevitably trickled down to offspring and most definitely would have been encouraged (but only outside the home, natch). Schools, social circles, work, university, politics – hell, I’d probably be right there with them on the frontline. Much to their chagrin, I’m certain. Poor kids, all they’d probably want was a bog standard pushy, stage-school mum…… aaahhh. So, these brave young people, confident young people, socially conscious young people – they are growing in number and growing in power. They refuse to be shut down or put in the corner and I admire them so much for it. They really have been the most uplifting and positive thing to come from the horrors of the last couple of years, and the unique voice that gives me a glimmer of hope for a better future. It might have been pretty cool to raise a rabble-rouser. There are no guarantees of course and they could have grown up to be ‘horse on ladder‘ at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest – it’s the luck of the draw. But, I would like to think that my bolshy influence might have rubbed off a little and certainly my active encouragement and support.

And that is why Generation Z activists are my ‘reasons why it might have been cool to have kids’ #1.

*drink it in people, it may never happen again.

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Haaaaa….lle…lujah!

I’m founding my own church. Can I get an AMEN! Who’s in? *claps, whoops and cheers*. I am so on board with the flowing robes and kitsch iconography. I might even consider growing a beard (not such a stretch given current crazy hormones), and wearing a top knot, a la Russell ‘born again’ Brand. But probably a turban will be my headgear of choice. Honestly, I’ve been looking for a way to lever those bad boys into my wardrobe for a while now and what better and easier way, than to form a new cult. Amaright?! ‘Wwhhooaa there Pank, what’s going on?’ I hear you ask…… Well, here’s the thing. It’s been an interesting and challenging year, but little by little I’ve started to understand the value of self-care. What a revelation! There is absolutely no shame in taking time out, a step back, asking for help – whether the problem be physical or emotional. Who knew? And really it’s me I am convincing here; as a woman who slept upright in a chair for three nights for fear of dying in her horizontal sleep rather than call an ambulance, finally discovering she had pneumonia – it’s a lesson I could really have used, decades ago. That was back in Liverpool.

So, almost a year ago I started to have fairly regular sessions with a psychotherapist. I also stopped drinking three months ago, certainly in the vast quantities that had become run of the mill, (now strictly one, strictly in company and strictly only on very special occasions), and around that same time I stopped dating and took up meditation. That last habit has been the biggest revelation. How did I ever live without it?! Sorry Dad, I take it all back. And yes, I do feel better for it. For all of it. Hooray! It’s the first question people ask when they discover I drink little and practise meditation. Well, when I say discover what I mean is, when I SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS AT THE VERY FIRST AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY (crowbarring) DURING ANY CONVERSATION. Oh good God, NO! *grabs face in style of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone*, I’m one of ‘them’ now. I am part of that lactose/gluten intolerant/vegan/ex-smoker-cum-new-non-smoker tell-everyone-at-the-drop-of-a-hat gang…….. God bless (and help) my friends. I love you all and I’m sorry in advance – but I am going to be advocating all of the above for the foreseeable future.

Preach.

As a young child growing up in Australia I dallied with meditation a little, due to my father’s obsession with the Maharishi and the Beatles’ reinvention. I was encouraged to meditate for twenty minutes when he did and jeez was I bored. Around this stage of my life, see also: Uri Geller, pyramid power, Arthur C. Clark’s Mysterious World, etc. etc. After he went away (my dad, not Arthur) on a five day banana-eating, steaming, fasting, meditation retreat, he came back full of the joys of finding a higher plane, (and I suspect, the possibility of creating a child genius). I’m only glad it wasn’t me he put into the balsa wood and plastic pyramid he built on the patio, to accelerate my growth; just some tomato plants. They bore fruit so yes – they were tomato plants. No bigger than normal, draw your own conclusions about that pyramid schiz…….. And if you really want to mess up the cutlery, dad – you focus, FOCUS! on bending the head off the fork. Back then, it was pretty baffling. I was only five or six.

It was a couple of years ago that I first decided to nip up the coast on the last weekend before work kicked in, full throttle. Just me and my book. You know I like my own company – maybe a little too much sometimes – so any opportunity to disconnect even more, and I am there quicker than you can utter, Usain Bolt. Here in Catalonia it’s their national day on the eleventh of September, so we have a long weekend and I took the opportunity to escape again. The little town of Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava, is pretty, has a rich history and a Hollywood connection (Ava Gardner fell in love with it, while filming Pandora and the Flying Dutchman in 1950). It is gentle and quiet and perfect for re-grouping. A smattering of restaurants and bars, and a medieval walled town up which is the perfect walk and vantage point to take in the views, and breathe. It has a very special feeling for me. So in the absence of enough funds for a month long Bali spiritual escape with the Strength Temple (swoon) – I’m happy to treat it as my own personal retreat and it’s always very welcome. Armed again with only a book, Ruby Wax – How to Be Human and a notepad, I swore off social media for the entire weekend. And the detox was complete. Literally everyone should do it! Do it. Do it. Do it! Do all of it and do it now! The not drinking the not getting hung up on relationships, the shrink, the solo time, the regular meditation……. DO IT! And therein lies my evangelical preacher. Think of me as a modern day Billy Graham: without God, the penis and millions of followers and dollars.

It’s been so very peaceful. Social media seems to have stopped being the fun place we all joined for and has become such an angry, buzzing hive of bile and anger, that we should give it a wide berth now and again; as we would if we ran into the real thing. No-one in their right mind would stick their hand, or worse their face, anywhere near a real hive of angry wasps, so why this metaphorical one. Looking at Twitter sometimes feels like being stung a thousand times in the eyeballs – and we’re doing it by choice. And I know, I know, I am the worst perpetrator; this Brexit stupidity has been the end of me. A very real fear of losing my lovely life, just won’t let me permit an idiot regurgitating campaign sound bites onto my timeline, go without a couple of links to fact-checked government documents, to set them straight. And the hateful Wotsit over the water and the armchair activists’ talk of ‘rising up’ and ‘there will be consequences’ and ‘taking up arms’……. apart from being mildly amusing for approximately fifteen seconds – ultimately it’s all so. bloody. exhausting.

So, after my breath of fresh Tossa air I’ve vowed to take a step back, to take a regular day out every week and simply stay away from the book of face, Twitter et al and have an hourly digital detox everyday before bed, and keep on the human reconnection trail. This last year has been a great big, long-drawn out exercise in finding my feet again. I don’t plan to quit my new habits any time soon, they’re great, I love them, they’re now an integral part of how I keep it all together. And they’ve dropped very nicely into the spaces left by the more self-destructive ones I’ve cast off along the way over this last year. I’ve written about it before, but I will say it again (and again and again, probably): Autumn has always been my favourite time of year for its feeling of new beginnings, and this year is no different. It may just be that little bit more peaceful too.

Now fire up the organ, Jean, while I pop on me golden robes and you people over there, you get your hands in the air – we got us some songs to sing and some praise to give! Oh LORDY! Come on! *grabs microphone, struts across stage, does the claw hand at random people in the congregation, casting out demons*. See you in the newly formed church of Pank? No?

Okay then………..

ps. I may stay here forever. Ssssssshhhhhh, don’t tell anyone, they’ll never notice.

Seven years, no itch

So summer is done and dusted, almost…. That said, I’m still sweating my bean off and doing a little happy dance every time there’s a storm forecast. When it doesn’t arrive, I suddenly find religion and start simultaneously cursing/praying to God to send a hint of a breeze and a shower. Most of my time at home is still spent starkers with all the windows open and a fan. There’s a beautiful image for you. Don’t say I never give you anything! But sadly that home time is less now I’m back to work. All the yays, (insert unamused face emoji here). And you know what that means – Christmas is just around the corner. Aaarrggghhhhhh….. stop it, stop it, STOP. IT!

This summer has been different. I haven’t been to the beach at all. Wwwhhhaaaatttt?!?!!Once known for crossing the road into the midday sun, going to the beach between morning and evening school shifts and every other available opportunity every day, and using the lowest spf that it’s possible to use that isn’t actually cooking oil – dark, shady, damp places are now my favoured location. Yeaaaaah, it’s just me and the mushrooms. That my alcohol consumption is now at a bare minimum too (in three months I’ve had half a dozen- max, which in the past would have been an average brunch consumption), said boozy brunches, lunches and dinners and day drinking/parties/festivals/film nights/end of the week/beginning of the weekend drinks, haven’t happened either. If I wasn’t me, I’d be absolutely sure I’d been possessed or inhabited by an alien; I barely recognise myself. Also, knowing that summer has always been the time of year that affects me most, emotionally – for as long as I can remember, I have sunk pretty low during August – I wrote myself a list of life admin to complete, and another of house projects to solve and bought a load of canvases and materials. Keep distracted, keep busy. Getting my papers and documents in order for March has been a priority, obviously. Organising long-overdue house obligations, changing names, making appointments, organising correspondence, little DIY jobs yada, yada, yada. Most of the time, the idea of the thing is worse than the actual doing of the thing. This tactic of keeping out of trouble and as occupied as possible seems to have worked…. as I finished my summer tasks, I started back to work. Which I think has nipped in the bud, the creeping blues I could feel approaching as I smugly crossed off my last to-do item.

Barcelona in August is both wonderful (literally everyone heads to their beach or mountain houses, so it’s deserted), and horrendous (heat, humidity, heat, humidity and HEAT AND HUMIDITY). But I could not love it more. Today I have been in Barcelona exactly seven years, and I remember arriving here as if it were yesterday. I had collarbones then! Stressed, unhappy and with the tiniest glimmer of hope that I could make it work. That changed so quickly though (not the hope bit), when I knew this is where I wanted to be – I can’t imagine being any place else. The change of flat last November and making it really feel like mine during August this year, has cemented that. I recognise now, that that was the missing puzzle piece, (tiny dog not withstanding). Barcelona is the place that feels most like home, it’s the place I call home – it is home.

Moltes gracies Barcelona, t’estimo molt.

Puppy love

As you know, I’ve never been the maternal type, I’ve never experienced the yearning/calling/longing/choir of cherubs (is that a thing?). And the only time my tubes have actually twitched, was that fleeting moment in pattern-cutting class, just before big Jen passed out and cracked her face open – and in the company of one or two breathtakingly beautiful men I’ve met, throughout my lifetime. The closest I usually come to that gut reaction, is if there’s chocolate cake involved. But, I do know plenty of women who had the ‘pull’, some of whom had known they wanted children from a really young age.

You know also, how sometimes couples do a dry run, as it were, before committing to a lifetime of worry and debt…… and of course love, LOVE – with say a kitten or a puppy? Well, I happen to think that is a marvellous idea, because it gives you pause for thought and a little taste of what it’s like to keep something alive; kind of like me and my plants. – big cheesy grin –

But for me, I think I’m currently experiencing this process in reverse. I would love a dog. Like, love, love, LOVE. There are so many here in Barcelona, my favourite at the moment in my street, being a harlequin dane of such epic proportions – that I’m sure we could use him to recreate that puddle ripples scene in Jurassic Park, for shits and giggles. Of course that size of commitment is well beyond my capabilities. Not only that, I imagine it costs four times as much to feed him as me and when he was in the flat – I’d have to take a sleeping bag onto the balcony, to accommodate him inside. No, for me it would have to be something significantly smaller. StreetArtGlobe published an Artfido article earlier in the year, of doggy do-overs which was both ridiculous and delightful in equal measures. It was while flicking through this pooch gallery, that I felt what I believe to be the equivalent of that maternal draw….

Rocco before

Rocco after

One look at *Rocco’s little ‘after’ face, so delighted with his sassy quiff, and I was done. I think I actually fell in love. I mean come on, would you look at that face! I haven’t stopped thinking about pups since, and being surrounded by them every day you step out the front door, is not helping. The thing is though, I want a dog so much, that I’ve started looking at children and thinking ‘aaaaawww’; like maybe I could practise with one of those first. Seriously, what is that all about? It’s back to front, body! It’s not supposed to be that way around. And seriously Mother Nature, if you were going to try and pull that one, it should’ve been twenty-odd years ago. As my lady innards now slowly wind down, maybe it is her last ditch attempt to trick me into believing there is, after all, a mother in me. Well let me tell you something Ma – my lavender frazzled to death and my jasmine is just about hanging in there; so take it from me – you do not want to trust me with any human being baby.

So, I need to try again with the plants, check the contract and see what the sitch is regarding pets. Rein in the spending to put aside a pet pot and investigate adoption in the area. Can you even imagine?! Me, responsible for something that is not well, me!

But then, I am popping up to Tossa at the weekend, going to Portugal and Germany before Christmas and then Blighty. I can accept the invitation of an afterwork without hesitation, paint all weekend without leaving the flat and stay in bed until eleven when I want, spend a little on a massage or a laser facial, aaaaaannndddd……… we’re back!

*Rocco grooming by Patricia Sugihara

Reasons why I don’t have kids #69

One word. IKEA.

Why people, why? IKEA is not a multi-generational trip out. Seriously, ever wondered why you never see it listed alongside Port Aventura, the Aquarium and the city tour bus in the guides? Grandmas/pas, mas/pas and little ones, like a slow-moving caravan, travelling along the path to fulfilment (generic wall art). Or worse, six abreast in that very same path, blocking the way for confused shoppers, who fear stepping off it could lead to something catastrophic. Like a giant rolling boulder suddenly crashing through the bedroom displays, or those imaginary childhood monsters coming to life and gnawing your legs off, up to the knee.

I decided to capitalise on my recent discovery that Ikea is best visited at lunch time on a Saturday, for my final ‘interiors’ project this year. Seriously, I’m knackered, but this summer break has given me the opportunity to change up, move around, re-organise, add some cute little touches and have a much needed clear out. If I downsize anymore, you’re going to find me happily disconnected sitting up a mountain in a cave somewhere, mindfully not being in a flat pack furniture store.

I have cracked the way to shop there. Listen up.

At home I make a list of what I need. I screen grab the items online, with item number. I pack a small yet practical bag with essentials: purse, pen, tape measure, cable ties (don’t ask), wet wipes, blinkers. I dress appropriately comfortably, jeans, tee, baseball cap and trainers for speedy entrance and exit. Hair scraped back, no make-up, not even mascara, hence cap. It’s a sweaty business in there, and ‘slightly damp panda’ is not a good look. I pick up my little delivery trolley and giant blue Ikea bag and head out.

Someone recently told me there is a secret passage, or codeword or something, that gives you access to the store without having to pass through the above chaos, but I didn’t have the time this time, to enquire if the eagle was indeed, landing tonight. So, secure bag – check, adjust cap – check, blinkers on – check and:

I was in and out of there in thirty minutes, like a Kallax ninja. Stopping only briefly to photograph the mass grave of stuffed toys in the kids’ department. In the words of Donald Trump, ‘very SAD!’ I sprinted, dodged, ducked and dived and may have elbowed someone out of the way. My unit and extras (all on the list, I did not stray), were strapped to the trolley and at the curb waiting for a taxi before you could say, ‘I survived Ikea!’ And I humped the whole lot up to the fifth floor.

This crack operation was a morning in the planning, half an hour to complete and the rest of the afternoon to construct, and as you know well by now; focus and discipline are not my strong suit. Can you imagine me juggling a pram, trolley and tape measure? And what would have happened if my toddler strayed into my peripheral vision, so effectively blinker-blocked to avoid temptation? And there’s no way I could have got past the stuffed tiger that had apparently mauled the rest of the animals to death, without an explanation of the carnage to tearful little ones. Agent PANK to headquarters, we have a situation. Oh wait, I am headquarters. There are just so many corners in that place too, conveniently at little person head height, to run full pelt into. And so many places for them to hide…. I’d spend my time in there trying to avert a code red, rather than being able to leap over a television unit, dodge a granny and sprint through the kitchen department, complements, plants and candles, to claim my flat pack prize.

And that is my ‘reasons why I don’t have kids’ #69.

On the wagon

Hi. My name is Anne Pank, and I’ve been sober for three months and nine days.

Date sober.

About a month after my lovely couple of dates with the ‘Dane living in Barcelona‘, I went on the date equivalent of a pedalo. Great idea at the time, mildly entertaining for ten minutes going round in circles and quickly heading back to shore. Dutch seemed like a nice enough chap; ex-wife, son – ok and not at all unusual at our age. ‘Thirty-nine’. I heard about his worries, his small business he was struggling to manage alone, his loneliness, his broken heart, care of the ex. And that now his son was just that little bit older, his plans to return to Holland. Uuummm, ‘kay. Then tell me, why are we sitting here exactly? He learnt nothing about me. He didn’t really ask… That was the last week of April.

Around the same time, one of my doctor students put one of her friends in touch with me, after a brief chat and a tentative yes from me. He was ten years older, from Barcelona, a retired father of two grown-up children and a ………… widower. !!Ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling!! Don’t judge me for the alarm bells, okay. I spent a year of my life trying to crack that nut, and I didn’t come out the other end too well. But, I figured that as he was a few years down the road it might be a different kettle of fish. And as la doctora had sung his praises, he sounded like it was worth my while meeting for a coffee. So, we arranged to meet mid Saturday afternoon a couple weeks later. I arrived on time, sent a photo of the vermutería I was standing outside of and checked my appearance in the window. The heavens opened and I was not prepared. For that, or the message I got back.

“Excuse me Anne, I have had a setback. We will have to reschedule.”

Eeerrrrr, I don’t think so. I had been caught by torrential rain and the notion that older men were sorted, secure and possessed good manners. I was being stood up by a man knocking sixty! They say there’s a first time for everything, and here were two – a set up by a friend….. and being stood up. He explained, only after two furious messages, that he had been paralysed by guilt. I said that I was sorry he felt bad, but also – it’s not an excuse. I do understand a little bit, that situation. I was in a relationship for three days short of a year, with a man who had acted like his passed wife might come home in the middle of sexy time, on the only two occasions I was ‘allowed’ to stay over. It’s desperately sad, I can’t imagine how it must be to deal with that, but it’s no excuse to leave a woman standing in the rain. If I hadn’t sent the photo, would he have contacted me at all? On the morning of the date, at lunchtime, bloody hell: even half an hour before, and I would have been a little more understanding. A simple, ‘sorry, I can’t do this.’, would have sufficed.

And so here we are approaching the end of August, three months later. I’ve not so much as peeked at Tinder. Or even thought about it, or men or dating in any capacity, to be honest – and it’s been blissful. Which inspired this post. It suddenly dawned on me, that it hadn’t dawned on me. I’ve been busy, doing little jobs around the flat, painting, catching up with friends and entertaining visitors. And spending time with myself. There have been no available gaps and I don’t miss the pressure.

For the foreseeable future, this is me. Comfortable, content, making a nice home for myself and still seeing the shrink….

I like it. I like it a lot.

Have your cake and eat it

Madonna is sixty. The whole world is watching and listening to see how she will celebrate this milestone. I’m sure the likes of Piers Morgan, Sarah Vine and endless other worldwide detractors are probably lurking in the shadows foaming at the mouth, waiting to pounce on whatever she wears or whatever shenanigans she gets up to, to celebrate. The tabloids have already taken a pop over the last couple of weeks at her most recent Italian Vogue cover story from her current home in Portugal; which sees her with her family, in various guises and settings. No less provocative some, as when she was thirty, forty, fifty. When exactly did they expect to see Madonna, sitting in a rocker on her veranda, with her cropped nana hair sporting a cardigan and knitting? Never going to happen.

Over on Instagram she’s been counting herself down to the big day, like a boss.

I was thirteen when I saw her in the pink wig performing Like a Virgin on Top of the Pops, fourteen when Desperately Seeking Susan was released, nineteen when I took Vogueing to the local nightclub (that’s another story for another blog post), twenty-one when I bought her Sex book and twenty-two when I saw her at Wembley Stadium in the Girlie Show Tour. She never shied away from using bad language, challenging norms and being sexual – hell, she was human, wasn’t she? And if it was good enough for the boys, it was good enough for Madonna; times ten. Throughout her life she’s rebelled against what’s commonly expected of women – be quiet, sit down, don’t speak, stay in your box, take orders, don’t lead, be demure, asexual, feel shame, don’t upset the status quo, and now: the ‘appropriate’ way to age.

In an earlier post I wrote in 2015 about Madonna, after her appearance on The Jonathon Ross Show, I explained her influence on my life, as ordinary as it is. Basically, it’s this: Get on with it. Make mistakes (sweet baby Jesus, I’ve made more than a few of those), take the criticism, fight when you have to, get knocked down, emotionally and/or professionally, get back up (lose love, lose job, retrain, move to Barcelona), don’t be ashamed to be a woman; to be strong, to be independent, mouthy and sexual. Check, check, check, check and check! My old neighbourhood (and friends) could tell you more than a few stories about that. We can all take a lead from Madge: don’t conform. Just look at the simplest of examples, in the way women present ourselves now. We are visible bosses and tech leaders and writers and producers and working mums and politicians and activists. My style at forty-seven is a world away from my mother at forty-seven, for example. How I live my life at forty-seven is most definitely a world away from my mother at forty-seven. We are getting better at not conforming to societal norms. Granted, I’m not going to flash my arse any time soon (I have in the past though, of course), but take the way I dress. It is not a million miles away from twenty years ago, I’m nowhere near ready for orthopaedic shoes and velour sweats! Although heels and the slidy death-tiles of Barcelona are not a good mix. I embraced my grey and am growing my hair, much to the chagrin of women and men in equal measures. It’s suppose to get darker and shorter the older you get, and if you’re really embracing the expected – why not get a nice tight perm. So much easier to manage now that we’re too tired to lift our arms for more than fifteen minutes of drying and styling. Fuck that shit.

Maybe the strongest message to take from watching her life through a lens, is that we mustn’t knock each other down. We need to look out for each other, build each other up: no other fucker will. Take a look at my example at the beginning of this post, Sarah Vine. She could not be more polar opposite to Madonna, than if she and Madonna were actually in the Arctic and Antarctic. You do you, Sarah – you know, be married to Michael Gove and write for the Daily Mail and stuff – and let Madonna writhe around half naked dressed as a dominatrix/flower-child/vixen/dinner-lady/whatever the hell she wants. My girlfriends are my world and I couldn’t have been strong without them, all these years. And each one of them in turn is strong, independent, feisty and unapologetic. We are each other’s trumpet blowers and heralders and support network. And I’m now beginning to see it in my nieces – all very much, mighty girls.

Madge has had our backs simply by being herself and kicking in door after door after door, with her stiletto boots. Putting it out there, provoking conversations and paving the way for women to feel comfortable living a little more freely, in any manner they want. I hope we can all do that for each other too, at the very least. So go forth Madonna, celebrate sixty with a bang, keep living your best life and doing what you do – being a provocateur. I for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.

Reasons why I don’t have kids #68

Today was my last day in work and the glorious summer has well and truly arrived (thirty-one degrees and 60% humidity). My current position is this: starfish, butt naked, litre of iced-water to hand with a couple of strategically placed fans on full blast. I start removing clothing as I’m climbing the stairs to my flat, because I just can’t wait to be rid of the trappings of ‘decency’ demanded by the office. And don’t even get me started on bras, in these temperatures…….. On Saturday I didn’t set my alarm, woke at eleven, dragged my hot, heavy body to the kitchen to make a delicious smoothie – *more of that later – then to the lounge; where I lay down again. I drifted in and out of sleep and at one point wasn’t entirely sure I wasn’t slipping into a coma.

It’s at times like these that I like to remind myself (and others) that we are basically animals, and any decent animal worth their beastly salt would be doing exactly the same in this heat. Case in point my brother’s cat who, on the same day, ‘napped’ for the best part of eighteen hours. Then went out for the evening and probably killed something twice her size as an offering to the God of Food – my bro – because she’s definitely part lion.

Lynx family resting in shade

Watch any nature documentary and you won’t see anything wild, doing anything wild during the blistering heat of the day. Ever. So why do modern day human animals have to beast – pardon the pun – themselves to death, when their ancestors were probably napping under trees or in caves. Because if our ancestors didn’t do that, they’d probably have died. And sometimes it actually feels like that might happen on the metro at this time of year. Don’t forget also, back then they didn’t have the heaven-sent life hacks from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow/Kim Kardashian to hand; like vagina ice-baths and all over botox to stem sweating, to help them through the summer season.

I find it difficult to even get dressed if there are no fixed plans in place and; I don’t feel bad about it. There’s nothing more liberating than being naked, and on top of that, walking through the airstream of a fan on full blast en route to the west/east wing. Humour me: my flat is 35 metres square.….. I even plan to paint as nature intended me, this holiday. I’m five floors up, no one can see me, it’s wonderfully freeing.

The summer holidays in Blighty are six weeks and I know the difficulty friends, family and old colleagues routinely have, trying to organise child care. Here, the kids are off for three months. Three WHOLE months. Because the old ‘it’s too hot to do anything’ rules are still in place for them, but not the adults. Can you imagine the nightmare parents here have? It’s bad enough at home. Coordinating themselves, together or not, and then another two months to fill. And all in this exhausting heat. And no poor child needs to witness naked mum kneeling on the floor over canvasses, throwing paint around or collapsed in a sweltering heap, glugging back water like a camel preparing to embark on an epic desert journey.

*And I don’t think I’ve eaten anything solid since I purchased my mini blender. I get up, throw things in it, whizz it for a few seconds et voila! I get home, throw things in it, whizz it for a few seconds et voila! It’s perfect for this weather, as I don’t want to eat anything remotely warm, and it’s impossible to find the energy to chew solids some days. I now consider myself to be a master blender of all things sweet or savoury and of experimental flavour combos. But, I couldn’t legitimately keep my kids in the same manner for the entirety of the summer break. So, where would I muster the energy to get up, shower, get dressed, cook, bathe and dress others, do all the summer stuff, and not die as a result? I’m not sure forced napping is acceptable. And I’m almost certain milkshakes and smoothies are not a healthy, staple diet – although they would be hugely popular and make me the best mum in the world, to my kids; but I’m pretty sure not to doctors and or social services.

Hazy summer days are wonderfully romantic, enjoyable and lazy; but not easy with children. And that is my ‘reasons why I don’t have kids’ #66

Wooooo, funny is hard

I’m about to admit a failing. Buckle up.

It has been increasingly difficult to write the funny stuff these last two years, when the world appears to be completely engulfed in flames. I’ve written as much and as often as possible, and tried to keep the ol’ pecker up in true Blighty style and not go too off topic. I mean, come on! You can’t be going around being all maudlin and talking about feelings and stuff when you’re British, for heaven’s sake. It just isn’t cricket……. Or swearily lambasting politicians and the current state of the political system – when you’re supposed to be talking about your failing fallopian tubes and hypothetical horrific parenting skills, can you? I’ve struggled to find the humour in most of what’s going on, and increasingly spend my spare time filling my brain with re-runs of classic comedies, stand-up, podcasts, pottering with plants and literature. It’s all I can manage. So, I guess it hasn’t been all bad……. and my nieces and nephews have been doing some very cool stuff. Ballet shows, sitting GCSEs, last days of junior schools and royal appointments, dontcha know! Their news keeps me buoyed. And then it breaks my heart that their future freedoms are being wrenched from them. So you know – swings and roundabouts.

Barflies

I would really like to know when this current shit-storm is going to come to an end though. Or at the very least, ease up. I feel like I’m keeping a ball of abject panic just below the surface. All. The. Time. This is primarily to do with the impending ‘no deal’ Brexit negotiations, meaning I – and approximately three million other people – will be status-less. I quite literally feel like there is no ground beneath my feet. It can’t possibly be just me who feels hollowed out by the current sitch; that being the contents of the proverbial opened can, currently crawling all over the world. The worst worms being Trump over the water and Rees-Mogg in the UK. What is everyone doing to stay elevated? Drugs? Whiskey and loose women?

Whatever it is, do let me know……. maybe it will help to share. Or at the very least we can prop up a virtual bar, get virtually (or really) blasted and say, ‘love you, man.’

Things I have (and have not) done whilst under the influence

Soooooo, Roseanne Barr flip-flopped on leaving Twitter (one can only assume based on some sort of legal advice), and has returned within about twenty-four hours, with the pathetic excuse; the Ambien made me do it.

Let’s just take a moment to dissect this….. actually, let’s not. The racist thoughts are in your head and the racist shit came out of your mouth. It is only right that we should give Sanofi a standing ovation for the following:

“… while all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” Ashleigh Koss, Head of Media Relations, North America.

Below is a list of nonsense that I have done, under the influence of various things:

Thrown up on the steps of my local.

Thrown up onto the Miami Vice style boat shoes, of a man who was chatting me up. It pooled. I’d been drinking snakebite and black.

Blacked out.

Thrown up out of the window of a moving black cab into on-coming London rush hour traffic.

Tried to steal a full-sized casino roulette wheel with a friend.

Tweeted utter shit which I have later deleted. And sometimes not.

Flashed.

Given myself alcohol poisoning.

Drunk phoned/emailed/texted.

Flagged down a car on Regent Street and offered the driver twenty quid to take me to Queens Park. He accepted. It was not a cab. Of any description.

Picked a couple of chaps up. Not at the same time.

Bought a spy kebab and cheese-n-chips at the Lobster Pot in Liverpool. Not at the same time.

And on and on the list continues……

The worst thing I ever said to anyone was when I was round at a friend’s in London for the evening, and after dinner we decided to have a little smoke. I asked her boyfriend a question, he was giving me an incredibly in-depth answer when I thought, ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?’ When he suddenly got up and went to bed, I realised I hadn’t thought it, I’d said it out loud. I apologised profusely. That was also the evening my friend and I fell about laughing, while miming being trussed up like gimps and mumbling our safe words, in her lounge………

I have been out of my mind on many an occasion, all over the place, with different things (I was the Prozac generation and lived in London in the nineties), and I have never said or done any of the following:

Had sex with someone who wasn’t my partner. Or even kissed anyone who wasn’t my partner.

Never said, ‘I was so drunk, I didn’t know what I was doing babe!’ As an excuse for having sex with someone who wasn’t my partner.

I have never wet the bed. Or worse.

I have never hurt anyone, except myself.

I have never damaged property.

I have never stolen anything (we got about five feet up the jetty before dropping the roulette wheel on my foot, cracking a bone in it, fell over laughing and crawled the remaining length to my friend’s boyfriend’s car). Karma is a thing.

I most certainly have not spouted a constant stream of vitriolic, racist bile.

And I have most certainly not blamed any of my own bad behaviour on anything other than my own recklessness and/or stupidity.

If you’re going to be a racist piece of crap, at least step up and own that shit. Take responsibility. Apologise. And mean it. Have the decency to at least be honest about your shitty views. So Ambien is responsible for this particular tweet, what about all the others? Eh, Roseanne?? It’s pathetic, it’s the lowest of the low and it’s weak. Roseanne Barr is only regretful she lost everything, that she only very recently regained. She’s not sorry. She’s sorry she was called out and suffered the consequences.

It completely baffles me that she didn’t realise the only person who could possibly get away with this sort of language, was the President of the United States. Dumb or what?

If you see it, call it out……