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the halloween humbug

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Dear Halloween,

I hate you.

I don’t hate many things; it’s an exhausting feeling to have and tends to compound issues rather than solve them. But you, dear Halloween, I’m prepared to make an exception for.

I don’t understand you. When I was a child the only people in merry old England who ‘celebrated’ you were those who simply wanted to cause trouble, teenagers who didn’t want treats and were far more interested in the tricking aspect. Recently the Halloween phenomena has become big business here as we try desperately to catch up with our American cousins and outdo the neighbours in terms of who has the biggest, scariest pumpkin and the better sweets.

For someone like me it’s horrid. I await knocks on the door with trepidation, even on a normal day, even when I’m expecting someone round. I live in a quiet {but built up} area and the most noise we get on a normal day is a bunch of screeching kids going past on their bikes. Two seconds of mayhem. You cause hours of mayhem.

But perhaps the most terrible thing about you, dear Halloween, is the worry. Should we stay in or go out? If we stay in and don’t answer the door will the car get egged? Do we embrace our staying in with the lights blazing or do we toddle off to bed at 4PM and stay there shaking till we’re sure everybody else is safely tucked up in bed too?

If there was a campaign to delete the 31st October from the world’s calendars I would be its president.

I think I need a chill pill.

Love,

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the littering cat

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Recently in the virtual world people have been posting photos of their real cats sitting in virtual boxes, created by taping a shape to the floor. We thought it was such a nifty idea we’d have a go.

Did our two babies want to play?! Um, nope.

We taped two shapes to the floor. Dora completely ignored them. Qyzen had a look and actually walked around them intentionally. This was a tad disappointing because both of them generally love getting into things they shouldn’t. We left the shapes taped to the floor and went to bed.

Fast forward to this morning and one of our very clever cats {Qyzen} had used the virtual box. Yes, he’d USED the virtual box. He’d sat in the virtual box at some point during the night and left a big steaming pile of poo in it, right in the middle of the living room.

Idiot!

Still, at least he knows to go in a box, even if it is the wrong box.

And it doesn’t exist.

Bless him.

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when imaginary friends grow up

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I’ve told Loyal Lone Reader about my imaginary friends before. There was Geoffrey, there was a dog whom I took for imaginary walks with an imaginary lead and there was the fabulous Katy Finger. I’ve been thinking about them today.

I don’t know if all children are {lucky enough to be} blessed with imaginary friends. I do know that many folk will claim they didn’t have one, but many people also claim that they don’t dream and we all know they’re big fat fibbers … everybody dreams, some just don’t remember.

None of my imaginary friends lasted for long. I only know about the dog because my Mumsy told me, and likewise with Geoffrey. He helped me adjust to the bewilderment caused by going from spoilt baby of the family, to big sister at the age of not-quite two. Katy is someone whom I vaguely remember. She had very dark hair and wrote her name in all my books.

It’s occurred to me that maybe my imaginary friend was also your imaginary friend. Perhaps Geoffrey travelled around England helping toddlers cope with change, appearing to children in a way that they felt comfortable with. My Geoffrey may have been your Daisy. Or, was Geoffrey a real person? Is there a Geoffrey somewhere in the world who had an imaginary friend named KatieF briefly in 1976?

If Geoffrey existed today he’d be a good and decent bloke. I don’t think I can say the same about Katy. I imagine that the grown up Katy is a bit of a slapper. At school she was probably naughty, smoking her fags and snogging the boys behind the bike sheds. She rarely did her homework and would mouth off at little old ladies in the street. Her intelligence got her to university and she slept her way through the male student population, seeking her elusive Mr Right. She never did find him. Now she has a demanding job in the city, drives an expensive little sports car and is sleeping her way through the male population of London Town, most of whom she meets in posh little cocktail bars. Her very dark hair is very shiny.

I think she was a bit of a bully when we were little.

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an hour with you

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My {wicked} stepmother posted this on her Fb timeline. She had what I would consider to be really boring responses; most folk would seemingly choose to sit with their {sadly deceased} parents. I understand the need/desire to want to reconnect with a loved one but my initial response was further from home.

I would choose to sit with my great great grandmother, Annie Elizabeth. Her story both saddens and fascinates me. She was born in Hampshire in 1849, the daughter of a blacksmith in a tiny village. Official records suggest that she lost a few siblings, possibly to cholera but I have yet to obtain death certificates and verify that. Somehow she ended up in London, where she gave birth to a daughter, Maud, in 1873.

Family legend suggested that Annie was a parlour maid who ran off with the man of the house. Indeed, when I began my research it seemed this was founded in truth. I’m unable to find Annie in the 1871 census, but I have found my great great grandfather, Charles. He was working as a jeweller and living with his wife, Barbara, and her six year old niece in London.  They had a maid, but her details don’t tie in with Annie’s. What is clear is that by 1881 Charles and Annie were living together with a handful of children. I have never found a marriage record and don’t believe they were ever legally husband and wife. His wife Barbara later married someone else, but I’m not even sure she and Charles were ever divorced.

I love the shenanigans of ordinary folk in the nineteenth century.

So, why would I like to spend an hour with Annie?

I feel so incredibly sad for her. I have visions of a beautiful, young, innocent village lass travelling to London to work and play. I imagine that she wanted to find love, start a family and be happy. Instead she fell for a married man who did leave his wife for her, but who lost his money {his daddy was a rich land owner in the Midlands and Charles was written out of the will} because of her and became a Hackney Carriage conductor/driver. She had no fairy-tale wedding. She gave birth to thirteen children in east London,  but lost a few of them as infants and small children. Census records show that the family moved often {as an aside, at one point they were living in the same street as some of my Monster’s ancestors}. I know it wasn’t a happy life for her. I wonder if she missed her family and if she wished she’d stayed in Hampshire. My great grandmother Daisy {1886} married at the age of eighteen purely because she wanted to get away from home; Annie was an alcoholic and I expect that life wasn’t ideal for the children.

At the time of her death in 1924 Annie was so large that they had to remove her body from the house through a window. A ‘comfort eater’ perhaps. She was blessed to be living with one of her daughter’s {Helena} so at least she didn’t become lonely and forgotten in her old age.

I would ask her how she felt. I don’t suppose anyone ever asked her that. I’d also thank her for giving life to – and raising – a daughter, who would raise her own beautiful daughter, who would raise my mummy, who would raise me. I’d let her know that everything she went through, everything we all go through,  can be worth it.

It’s just unfortunate we don’t always know how much worth our lives have.

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stranger in town

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I have lived in this little corner of England for nearly ten years now and I’m still the stranger in town.

It’s an odd little place; very flat, very rural, very insular. Allegedly the folk who can trace their roots here for hundreds of generations are hiding webbed feet. Whether this is referring to the squidgy dampness of the area (we’re below sea level) or the fact that once upon a time it was likely you’d have married your brother (who was also your uncle, your cousin and your nephew) I have yet to fully ascertain.

They (the experts) claim that in about one hundred years my town will be underwater, nature will have reclaimed the land and the eels will be able to swim freely again. I think my house is safe; we intentionally chose one which is on the natural island of old. I shall just have to buy a boat if the sea begins to rise.

As you drive towards my historic – it’s one of the hundreds of places in which Boadicea is said to have died, and we once had an abbey – market town you’ll be amazed by the fact that you can see for miles across the flatlands. There are farms and scattered houses, fields of rapeseed and potatoes. It’s alleged that nearly all the carrots in Britain come through here.  The scattered houses were once the domain of naughty boys, sent from afar in the knowledge that they wouldn’t survive in the wilderness of rural nothingness if they escaped.

If you’re hoping for a haircut, followed by a browse around the charity shops and a dirty -but amazing – takeaway, you’re in luck. We have four hairdressers, three charity shops and about eight takeaways. Fancy a drink? Be wary of the locals in the pub. Need a new dress? You’ll need to travel miles for that. My most humble apologies.

We had a riot here once. There’s also a ‘tiger’ lurking nearby, a song was written about us and apparently TB is rather rampant here.

Welcome.

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bubble baths and books

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My life as Little Miss Worrier tends to be slightly bizarre:

OMG! I can hear the house creaking! It’s going to fall down!

Sh!t, America has Ebola? We’re all doomed!

Why is that woman (the checkout girl) talking to me? She’s going to expect me to reply and I’ll get all twisty tongue-tied, my cheeks will glow scarlet and I’ll spit in her face!

That lorry is really close. That lorry is frighteningly close. Oh my goodness, that lorry is going to kill me. (It’s just overtaking.)

It’s raining. What will my poor pussies do? They’re going to die!

The little things panic me. My head is a constant mess of ‘what ifs’ and ‘oh my gods’.

However, give me something HUGE to worry about and I’ll just sit back and let it all wash over me. I’m not sure if that’s because I can genuinely cope with the big stuff, or because my head pretends it isn’t happening; my own personal little internal bodyguard. Bless.

I barely remember the day where I stopped being a Miss and became a possession Mrs. I have vague recollections of being a little perturbed, but I was so happy to be getting hitched (who’d have thought that someone would ever want me) that I spent the lead up to – and the day itself – in a little bubble of pure optimism. Likewise, when I donated my cute little left kidney to Blokey there was no hint of worry. I knew that bad things could happen and instead of worrying, I embraced the thoughts and prepared for the worst. I stressed out about the little things instead, the enemas and the catheters (which, it transpired, were the least troubling parts of the whole process.)

This year has been rather like a ‘big day ahead‘; it’s been … faulty. The knot in my chubby little belly has failed in its attempts to uncurl and the tension in my neck is slowly killing me. To relax I’ve taken to lounging around. I’m particularly partial to lying in a bubble bath, reading books aimed at young adults. If I’m alone I’ll sing songs very loudly. I haven’t done this very much recently. I need to rectify that. Oddly, I also clean and tidy, somewhat manically. And I move things around. It soothes my mind.

I’d like this year to be over now. I’m unsure what the next three months will bring and if I could wake up tomorrow and find that it’s January the first, my happiness would probably be akin to the joy felt by toddlers as they jump in muddy puddles on wet days.

Or, at the very least, I’d like access to a time machine so that I can return to my teenagehood and stomp around moaning about life being unfair and exams being too hard. Because honey, you have no idea just how tough your life is going to get!

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she will be named abigail

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I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my own bed, because I can.

When I returned to work following my amazingly short seven weeks off, I discovered that a perk of spending all day with arrogantly ridiculous young people comes in the form of an iPad.  I am not an Apple nerd.  I have owned several iPods during my lifetime, and indeed, I have an iTunes account. But anything else? No, sir. No thank you.

I’m quite enjoying having an iPad to do work-y stuff on, but unlike my friends I’m loathe to make use of it for personal gratification. After all, I am the gal who’s only been on Facebook twice in the nearly three years of working there and I get desperately paranoid that my every move (literally, in games) will be scrutinised by the IT bods.

So, I returned home last Monday and declared that I wanted to own a tablet on which I could do all the stuff I do on the desktop. Yesterday I bought one as an extravagant present to myself. It isn’t an iPad. Fuck that. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and it’s a gorgeous little piece of fun. I’ve been playing with it all afternoon whilst Blokey indulges in Star Wars games online. I even managed to find a fabulous Kurt Vonnegut wallpaper for it and I think I’ll probably blog more, if I can find some lost oompf.

*contented sigh*

My weekend of money spending didn’t end with the tablet though.  I also had my eyes tested for the first time in ten years and very soon I’ll be the proud mummy of TWO pairs of glasses (bogof). I like wearing specs; they make me feel intelligent, but I only really need them for being able to see the distant world, and the tellybox.

I need a shower.

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the problem with facebook

They say that the eyes are the window to your soul.  I don’t really know about this because I’m an eye-contact avoider, finding it uncomfortable and intrusive.  I therefore know little about your soul, or anyone’s soul. However, it has become apparent to me that Facebook may be the new window to your soul. And – somewhat scarily, with a big dollop of ignorance and naïvety on the side – this window often has the curtains open for the whole wide world to be able to see what’s deep inside your very core.

Sometimes, it freaks me out. But on most occasions it makes me realise that I don’t know you at all, or that you’re a bit dumb, or that you spend far too much time attention-seeking, and then a multitude of other opinions go racing through my sweet little head, making me roll my eyes or feel superior and smug.

I’d like to introduce you to some of the statuses which have found their way onto my timeline in the past couple of weeks, with the punctuation and grammar they were afforded by the people who wrote them (unless paraphrased, and then it’s all my own mistakes.)

The text-talker: “Nightmare can’t put wellies on due to pain in broker toes and its going to rain at beacons” – There is a HUGE lack of grammar and punctuation here, and I myself would NEVER post a status without checking such things.  I realise I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi, and I may at times be overzealous with my use of the nifty little idea of the edit button, but I went to uni with you so I know you’re capable of more.

The bored housewife: “Taking daisy swimming” – Lovely. Why did I want to know that?

The internet addict: “I post-cross my Twitter oddities with my Fb timeline. That way you get to see parts of conversations which make no sense to you because I’m”

“indulging in a #tweetchat, which makes me super cool. #amazeballs.”

‘Nuff said.

The roundabout teller-offer: “Wonders why indirectly (or maybe it is direct) some people can be deliberately unkind – when it actually does not really solve matters??” – What my Wicked Stepmother wrote just after a weekend when my Mumsy got to spend an entire weekend with all her four children, their partners and her five grandchildren. One sibling had come over from continental Europe with his family. Said sibling had cut all ties with The Monster (Father) eight months previously. We know your game, Stepmother.

The greedy one: “All my friends are having babies. I want a baby.” – You already have one. Love her, cherish her and be thankful that you’re so blessed.  Some of us may never experience that.

The attention-seeker: “Some people make me sick.” / “I’m mad.” / “I’m sad.” / “I wish it wasn’t like this.” – I’m sorry but I refuse to fall victim to your focus on me status. Whatever it is, get it off your chest and put us all out of our misery you attention-seeking whore.  Also, offering to PM people when they inevitably ask, “What’s up, hun?” is very unbecoming and downright fucking rude.

The attention-seeker v.2 – feed my ego: “I’m currently on 218 likes [link hidden] which is someway from my next target of 250! So if you haven’t liked the page please go and do so and if you have liked and want to share my page it would be much appreciated !”– You post this every fucking week … enough! If I want to like it then I’ll like it, but please don’t beg me to like it.  Likewise with the “Sponsor me! Sponsor me!” statuses which you post nearly every fucking day beginning six months prior to the event. This just puts me off sponsoring you. A couple of requests is surely ample?

The attention-seeker v.3 – my boring life: “This is my blog” – Okay. I’ve read it, it’s a bit yawn-inducing and for a qualified solicitor your English is appalling.

My kidz are better than yours: “This is a picture of my daughter, and another, and another …” – I know you love her and cherish her, but twelve photos of her wearing the same dress, sitting in the same spot? Really?

The ponderer: “Who would have thought trying to upgrade a mobile phone would get you thinking” – Everybody … if you’re upgrading your phone you need to think about lots of things, numpty.

The attention-seeker v.4 – i want to be seen to be more popular than you: “It’s my birthday in however many days.” – So? Oh … you want lots of people to say, “Happy Birthday, Attention-Seeker!” so that you look popular and amazeballs? Got it! Oops, forgot to say, “Happy Birthday!” Sorry.

The sheeple v.1 – if everyone else believes it i need to believe it too: “I’m sharing this picture/quote/link/video. It’s about something I feel really strongly about and I’m completely appalled/saddened/happy about it.  However, I haven’t checked the validity and so I don’t know if it’s correct, but you must see or read it.” – This applies mostly to anyone who shares a link from the Fb group Britain First (you do know they’re a very racist group, ja?) or shares those pictures which claim Fb will give money to save the dying baby/dog/seal for every share it receives (they won’t, idiot). Your internet connection can offer you more than just games and sheeple activities … try Snopes!

The sheeple v.2 – of course i care: Anything which ends with “I know 97% of people won’t repost this, but my friends will be the 3% that do.” – Nope. I won’t. Don’t guilt-trip me and my emotions and make me feel like a bad person. I’m a good person and I don’t need to prove it to you, or anyone.

The superiority complex: “I’ve never read or seen this, but I heard such and such about it, which must be true, so without basing anything on my own views I’m telling you to avoid it because if I think it’s shit, it must be shit and you’re a fool if you think otherwise. LOL Dumbass.”  – Um … okay. I’ll read it or see it if I want to, and then I’ll come back and tell you whether I think you’re right or wrong and if I think you’ll enjoy it.

The religious nutter: “God has blessed me with <insert something here>. He is wonderful.  Without him my life wouldn’t be the same.” I suspect it would, love.

the pregnant YASiL

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Blokey came downstairs and into the kitchen in the early hours of yesterday evening.  I had an email from Bro, he said. YASiL is pregnant, he said.

And so I went into shutdown. I stomped about for a bit, and then I put my happy face on.  But I can’t bear the idea of contacting her (or BiL) and offering my congratulations.  To many (including them), this probably makes me a selfish bitch. But it’s simply my way of coping, a need to have time to reflect and process, to consider the best way to deal with it and find solutions which will stop the happy mask slipping and betraying my true feelings about it.

To put it bluntly, I am gutted.

I am gutted because for the next howevermanymonths (I know not, I’ve refrained from asking Blokey about the finer details because I’m not ready to hear them) all I’m going to hear is baby talk. Baby this, baby that, baby here, baby there.  No visit to MiLs will be complete without beaming I’m going to be a grandmother at last! remarks, and to me they’ll feel like snide digs.  I’m the DiL who gave life through a kidney, but who hasn’t proven her womanhood through the conception of a continuing bloodline. I’ll have to look at scan pictures and bite my tongue when my baby names are bandied about as potential possibilities. Through it all I’ll have to smile and be interested, whilst my heart breaks and my head screams in frustration.

Extended family members will pity me and come out with stupid comments about how my time will come, or similar. I’ll just smile.

I hate her. Right now, I hate her. I hate her for having the one thing right now that I desperately want.  I hate her because she’ll be a perfect mother, to a perfect baby and she’ll spend all her time with her perfect yummy-mummy friends and their perfect children.

And it’s ridiculous because of course I love her.  I love both of them to bits. And I know that I will embrace this baby with all the love that a non-genetically related auntie can muster.  I will be the most amazing auntie that this baby ever has, showering him or her with love and goodies and memories …

But right now I don’t feel like celebrating, and I reserve the right to feel this way whilst my head sorts itself out.

Forgive me if I spend the rest of my days pondering, Why me? What did I do that was so tragically terrible in a past life?

now i am 40

my truth

I don’t have a problem with being forty years old.  I feel no different to how I felt the day before I turned forty, when I was only thirty-nine.  Indeed, I feel no different to how I felt when I turned twenty-one, except I’m now minus a left kidney and I have creaky knees.

That panic attack I had earlier in the year about turning forty seems a tad ridiculous now.

One of the best aspects about being forty is that I can embrace the older lady who lives inside me (with the skinny one, and the teenager – the arguments they have!) … that old lady is thinking she can do what she wants, when she wants.

New tattoo?  Why stop at just one?!

New piercing? Absolutely (don’t get excited, nowhere odd – just an ear again, hopefully, one day, before forty-one knocks at the door!)

A few grey hairs?  Sod it, they might look elegant and distinguished if I put away the dye and give them a chance.

I am forgetful, and I appear to have a problem with my hearing. I should probably get my eyes tested again (it’s only been ten years since they were last looked at) and I love my afternoon naps (but not how I feel when I awaken from them.)

My boobies aren’t saggy yet, but give them time. They’ll catch up with the idea of being old soon.

I stopped seeing the counsellor.  I stopped liking her and opening up about myself made me anxious.  Talking made me anxious. I was making myself feel small and stupid, and I don’t want to feel small and stupid so I’m back to locking myself away from the world and pretending that life is hunky-dory and wonderful.  But it’s okay; it’s my choice and I’m happy with that choice.  I feel comfortable in this skin because it’s a skin I’ve lived in for so long.

If people knew what I was living with they’d be horrified. I’m an amazing actress.

I’m on holiday now – no more work till the beginning of September.  It’s a fabulous perk of working in education but this year I feel it’s going to both drag and speed by, in equal measures. A part of me would rather be at work, even though I adore my time off and never want it to end. I have no concrete plans. Occasional shopping trips and luncheons with friends. I have The Vampire Diaries and Skins box-sets to catch up with, and my garden needs a through tidy.

My MiL has been diagnosed with lung cancer, admitted to Hospital and had nearly half her lung removed in the last few weeks. Speedy. She appears to have gone from thirty-ish cigarettes a day for the last forty years, to none a day.  We’re not convinced this will last.  The lung doctor told her that the cancer has all gone (obviously she’ll have regular check-ups for the next five years) and that it may not have been the fag addiction which caused the cancer.  I think she just hears what she wants to hear.

My cats are still beautiful.

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