Sunday, 7 February 2016

Today's the day


     This is becoming something of a tradition. I’ve started marking today. Because today is the day I didn’t die, six years ago. Today is the day I lived.

     For the first few years afterwards, I didn’t mark it. Didn’t think of it. Didn’t want to think of it. I felt that I was still too attached to the date. That as much as I pulled away from it, all that I was doing was stretching the elastic between then and I; that one day everything would snap and I’d be back to where I was then. Like a bungee cord, I could only get so far before being yanked back again.

     It was two years ago that things changed. I realised that I wasn’t waiting to be pulled back. I realised I was relieved I hadn’t died. More than that. I was glad to be alive. More than that, even, I was happy to be alive.

     The rush of elation that accompanied that discovery has been embarrassingly recorded for posterity, both here and all over the internet. Whenever I try to describe how it feels, I know that it sounds like trite motivational bollocks, ready to be superimposed over the sun rising across the ocean. Trust me; I’m not given to that sort of soppy wankchoppery. All I can say is that I feel euphoric. I could be dead. I should be dead. But I aten’t dead.

     If anyone had told me six years ago ‘You won’t just be alive. You’ll be thriving and happy to be alive’ I would have nodded blankly as tears ran down my face and known that they were lying to me. If they’d then gone on to add ‘Oh, and you’ll be a single mother, living on benefits, about to move into a council flat, and although you’ll still have depression, you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been’, then at least I would have known that they’d got me confused with another person and directed them elsewhere.

     But no, that person is me. Writing this now, through a flood of tears of genuine happiness. Smiling, thinking about my Blondies. Thinking of our future. I don’t fear the future, not now, nor do I worry about facing it. See that tangle of limbs, with Mane freeflowing, a booted silhouette racing towards the horizon? That’s me. Running joyously to embrace the future, my future, whatever it may hold. The future I would never have had. The future I shouldn’t have. But today is the day I didn’t die. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Birthday present

     Tomorrow is my 36th birthday. A full lifetime since I roared into the world, annoying the midwife in the process (I was a few days overdue, the designated midwife went on her lunch break assuring Mum that nothing was developing, only to find me, 11 minutes old when she returned at two o’clock. It seems to me that I was a contrary bastard even before I was born).

     I never really look forward to my birthday. It’s in the depths of winter, right before Christmas, everyone’s broke, busy, and beleaguered, and it’s a pain in the arse going out anywhere because of the less than joyful crowds. This year though looks like it’s shaping up to be even more of a belter than usual, as I face up to life on my own. I’m not expecting any presents from anyone, maybe a card or two, no plans with anyone over the age of ten, but even the plans I thought I’d made to do stuff with The Blondies are unravelling a bit because Dad’s quite ill in hospital, and we want to go in and visit him. So I have been feeling a bit selfish and self-pitying.

     But there’s something I have been given lately that might just be the best present I could ever have received. And that’s you lot. ‘You lot’ encompassing the people I know on twitter, facebook, people who read this, even a few of you from that strange and confusing place known as Real Life. You’ve been amazing, so many of you. The emails, messages, texts, comments… all of it. You’ve kept me going on days when just getting The Blondies to school feels like it deserves an award ceremony. You’ve been there with me when I’ve had to go out and kick serious civil servant arse. You’ve made me feel, at times, invincible. You’ve brought me enormous comfort too. 

     And some of you have gone above and beyond anything I feel I deserved. Some of you have made me laugh with silliness. Some of you have been brilliant at distracting me. Some of you have let me rant and rave and leave snot all over the bloody place. All of you have played a part, in your own way. One of you has saved Christmas for The Blondies. One of you just behaves normally, so I feel normal. One of you genuinely saved my life one night, and that’s not something I would ever say lightly.

     I’ve been a bit rubbish at replying and letting people know what’s going on and how I am. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate you, just that sometimes it’s much easier for me to keep my head down and just power through things to get to the other side. I fear that if I allow myself to stop and think I will become overwhelmed. Thinking is when the time for doing is over. There’s no time limit on thoughts.

     But you lot, I wish I could thank you all individually. For what you’ve all given me. You’ve made me realise I am stronger, tougher, braver and more resilient than I knew. That is something for me to hold onto when the darkness feels overwhelming. Because of you, I know I will be ok, because I have to be. And I know it’s clichéd and naff and all the rest of it. But knowing that you’re around… it is a gift, honestly. You’ve all, in your way, given me what I needed. Time, and a place to be myself. Thank you.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Sonnet 66

     I’m still tired. I’m tired with all these.

     I’m tired with endlessly phoning people, and being told that someone will phone me back, but no one does. I’m tired with phoning other people who tell me I shouldn’t be speaking to them; I should be speaking to another department. I’m tired with phoning another department to be told the first department are the people who can provide the information, but no one’s in the office right now. I’m tired with having to leave message after message.

     I’m tired with no one giving me any information. I’m tired with having to find out things from family, instead of the official people who are actually making these decisions. I’m tired with everyone else knowing what’s going on better than I do, and I’m finding out information second or third hand. I’m tired with no one actually sitting me down and telling me what the situation is.

     I’m tired with being unable to not overhear phone conversations that blame me. I’m tired with people subtly, and not so subtly, saying this is my fault. I’m tired with being shouted at in the street. I’m tired with getting phone calls when I’m doing the school run that make hot tears run down my face. I’m tired with making appointments that other people don’t show up to. I’m tired with making appointments that I have to sit in a public place and wait for over an hour to be seen.

     I’m tired with being told it is vitally important that I arrange to see someone from a certain department, walking two miles in the rain to keep our arranged appointment, and the first thing they say is ‘I’ve looked at your file, and there’s no point you being here.’ I’m tired with having to provide information. I’m tired with people saying ‘there are services available to help you, you have been referred’, but then finding out my details have mysteriously vanished. I’m tired with getting angry at people who are so incompetent at their job, they’re actually dangerous.

     I’m tired with feeling scared. I’m tired with feeling hurt. I’m tired with feeling guilty. I’m tired with regret and remorse. I’m tired with people behaving in ways that make things worse.

     I’m tired with trying to protect The Blondies. I’m tired with always having to keep a happy face in front of them. I’m tired of slipping into the downstairs loo to cry for thirty seconds when everything overwhelms me. I’m tired with waiting for them to go to sleep each night so I can lie in bed and silently shake with tears, just like I’m doing now. I’m tired with trying to find distractions so I don’t feel like I do. I’m tired with having no money, and having to tell The Blondies I can’t afford things. I’m tired with worrying about Christmas. I’m tired with the abyss that opens up within me when The Blondies aren’t here, and the gnawing, aching fear that I carry then.

     I’m tired with trying to explain, I’m tired with talking, I’m tired with having no privacy, no secrets, nothing that’s mine anymore. I am tired. I am tired with all of these.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Uncomfortably numb

     I’m tired. I’m so fucking tired. I’m tired of being so fucking tired, of feeling like I’m dragging three people along behind me with every sodding step I take, that everything is just so much of a fucking effort, that I just don’t have any energy. I’m tired of thinking all the time, of constant thoughts just spinning round and round my head, chasing themselves and I have no idea how anything is going to resolve itself. I’m so tired, so fucking unbelievably tired and I can’t fucking sleep. I can’t go to sleep for hours, and when I do I wake up again and again, the same thoughts in my stupid bloody head, and I can’t get back to sleep and I’M JUST SO FUCKING TIRED.

     This is going to be cryptic and annoying. I can’t talk about what happened this week, not yet. I need to. I need to write the fuck out of it, I need to fucking hammer the crap out of every word, of every still life image that’s there in front of my eyes all the time since it happened, I need to try and make some sense out of it, even though I know there is no sense in it, I’m never going to understand it, at least I hope I never do.

     I’m ok, but I’m not ok. I’m scared, I’m hurt, I know I’m not alone, I know I have family and some good friends who have been amazing to me, but I feel alone. I feel like a stupid, stupid, pathetic cliché, a victim, a low and unworthy thing. I feel alone, and I don’t want to be. But it doesn’t matter where I go, or who I surround myself with, I’m going to feel alone, even with those who care about me most.

     When bad things happen, I’ve realised I go into autopilot. I just get my head down, keep on going. It’s easier to worry about The Blondies and their packed lunches. I’m doing the stuff that needs to be done. They’re fed, they’re clothed, I’m holding it together in front of them. That’s where my energy is going. Keep it going for them. They’ve been amazing, both of them. They’re not really asking any question, thank god. I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell them, so far I’ve been as honest as I can be without telling them the truth. But they are going to find out. I don’t want to rip up their world. My world might have just exploded into tiny shards of broken glass across every floor in this house, but I can’t let that happen to them. What I have to do is protect them. I might be broken, damaged, confused, but I won’t let them see that, and I won’t let it happen to them.

     I don’t know where I’m going to go from here. The stupid thing is just how much I find myself thinking about practical stuff, I’m almost horrified by how easily I’m thinking about really basic organisational things. It seems almost callous and as though I deserved what happened. I didn’t, no one deserves it. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. I’m tweeting & posting on facebook like normal, maybe more so than usual. I don’t want people to know, but at the same time I want to scream and scream and just let all this out of me so I don’t have to live with it. I’m not crying either. A few times, over silly things, I’ve found tears in my eyes. But I’m not crying. I can’t cry.

     I’m tired, I’m scared, I can’t cry. I’m scared of being in the house, but I’m scared to leave it. I don’t like being alone, but I don’t want to talk to anyone ever again. I’ve done so much talking this week, have had to answer the fucking terrifying phone so many times every day, never knowing who it’s going to be this time, or whether the news will be welcome or not. I’m so tired of talking about it, but I need to, because I don’t know how I feel, other than numb. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015


     It’s horrible, writing this. We’d had such a nice afternoon, The Boy & I. We’d lounged about at home for a while, slobbing out, then, at his request went down to Norwich cathedral and went graffiti hunting. We ‘found’ loads of things, I chatted to him about who might have made them, the different meanings, why we find some areas with barely a square millimetre uncovered, and other areas where there’s nothing.

     I told him some of the history of the building, of stories, of my favourite inscriptions, and he giggled, and we explored, and wandered. We realised that we were about to walk through the middle of a Big Important Service, and giggled, and then both felt a bit lightheaded from the incense fumes, so went out to the cloisters, and he showed me some of the things he’d found earlier in the week. Then we went to the refectory and had lunch, and chatted, and giggled more, and did silly faces at one another.

     It wasn’t A Grand Day Out, not at all. But it was fun, and we laughed, and he rolled his eyes at me taking photos, and I was deliberately embarrassing, and we both just enjoyed being in each others company for a few hours, and he asked when we could do it again. It was… nice. Fun. But I didn’t want to overdo it with him, so we decided to head for home, still chatting.

     We were on a narrow stretch of pavement, on a quiet residential street, no one else around. And then it happened. I could see a young man, weaving his way along the pavement, coming towards us. He was quite clearly drunk. No. Shitfaced. At about four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, walking towards us. His face was red, eyes unfocussed, limbs loose, a lolling type of walk. I ushered The Boy to walk behind me, the pavement not being wide enough for all three of us to pass.

     The Twat, for that’s what he is, drew level with us. Then stopped, his body rocking back and forth slightly. He peered at us confusedly, then smiled. I was nervous, uncertain, turning back to face The Boy, just when The Twat pulled his arm back, clenched his hand into a fist, and swung his whole body rapidly towards The Boy, stopping only when his fist was within an inch or two of The Boy’s nose, then grinned. I saw The Boy flinch, his body stiffen. I put my hand on his left shoulder, and drew him closer to me, trying to pull him out of the way.


     I didn’t respond, just pulled The Boy closer, and tried to walk away, but not before The Twat put his face in mine.


      We walked away, further shouts echoing in the distance as we tried to put distance between us and The Twat, my arm still around The Boy. In an undertone, I said ‘Don’t look back. Keep walking. Don’t look back, it’s ok, you handled that perfectly, but just keep walking.’ I could hear more shouting, but I ignored it, still talking the whole time to The Boy, until we got round a corner. ‘You ok?’ ‘I’m shaking.’ ‘I know. It’s ok. I won’t ever let anyone hurt you, not ever.’ I gripped his hand, and he let out a shuddering gasp, shaky and scared. I stopped, put both of my hands of his shoulders: ‘I promise you, anyone who ever threatens you has to get through me first. And I won’t let anyone past me.’

     That was a couple of hours ago. The Boy’s cried. I’m close to tears, but I can’t let him see I was scared too. He relies on me. He was scared of the unknown. I’m scared of what might have happened. I’ve hugged him and explained that some people are just Twats. We’ve looked at the photos we took together of the graffiti, trying to remind ourselves of those happy hours we had before The Twat entered out lives.

     This is growing up. This is realising that you will encounter Twats, just because you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is finding out that people will behave like utter cunts towards you, when you’ve done nothing. But this is also me, shaking, feeling sick, and knowing that if anyone, anyfuckingone, dares to scare, threaten, or upset my children, I will kick their fucking arse. Say and do what you like to me, I’m pretty fucking tough. But threaten a single strand of The Blondies, and I will fucking destroy you. Your arse is grass, and I am a motherfucking lawnmower.

     And now, I'm going to walk to the shop to buy milk, bread, various bits needed for packed lunches, and I'm going to fucking howl my fucking eyes out that I know I can't protect my children forever, and that they're growing up in such a fucked up world. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Review: The School Run

     You’d think, having been blogging for two and a half years, that I’d sort of know how this all works by now. No. I really don’t. Ranting and swearing and banging on and on and on and on about graffiti, writing about bratty kids, and depression, and Ed Balls and all that. But no. I have missed a trick, my loves. Apparently, lifestyle blogging’s a thing. People talking about what they wear, where they eat, places they visit. And fucking get this – they get freebies! I know! They get invited to eat for FREE at local pubs, restaurants, and cafes, and in exchange, they write 300 words about how lovely everything is, and that’s it. There is such a thing as a free lunch.

     With this in mind, I’ve decided to change my approach. No more bastarding arsehole swearing and ALMIGHTY CAPS LOCK RANTING SWEARIFUCKINGNESS. I’m giving lifestyle blogging a go. So here’s my lifestyle blog review of yesterday’s walk to school.

     Disclosure: I was invited to collect my children from school on Thursday afternoon in exchange for sod all. All thoughts are my own.

     I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I left the house at three o’clock, but it seemed like a good idea to make the journey to school! I have to confess I was somewhat surprised by the number of various routes that were presented to me – Mile End Road was a shorter option, with heavier traffic, but in the end I plumped for Christchurch Road, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed! At first I thought there might be rather too much pavement for one person to handle, but shamefully, I managed to cover it all! I went for the signature ‘1 mile walk each way’ option, but having perused the map, there are definitely plenty of others to choose from, and all tastes are definitely catered for! It also seemed as though you could opt to cycle or drive, if you’re in a bit of a rush.

     There were lots of houses along the way, which gave it a lovely ‘homely’ feel, as well as numerous green wheely bins, a very thoughtful touch which I appreciated, and something that a lot of roads overlook. The concrete was broken up by the addition of fallen leaves, adding a very pretty seasonal flourish to my route. When I reached Unthank Road, I did have to stop, and whilst the pedestrian crossing looked very pleasant, in the end I opted for the rather more traditional dash across the road at the traffic lights.

     Forgive my terrible photography skills – this really doesn’t do the walk justice at all! Once I reached Colman Road, there were lots of cars and lorries around, which gave it a rather buzzy and lively atmosphere – clearly this is a popular spot and I felt reassured I’d come to the right place! There were lots of other walkers there too, of all ages, and it was definitely family and dog friendly, although I didn’t feel out of place being there on my own. I definitely appreciated the grass verges too, which certainly added to the greenness of the experience.

     I started with The Girl, in the lower school playground, sharing it with other parents as I was concerned it might have been a bit too much for me otherwise! I needn’t have worried though; she arrived promptly, considering she’d been freshly educated. Then it was time for the main event – The Boy! This truly was very special, as I had anticipated. First, we stood for eleven minutes in the rain – a very acceptable length of time! Upon greeting me, The Boy realised he’d forgotten his lunchbox, and although I insisted it wasn’t a big deal, he made sure to go back and collect it – a sure sign of quality! The slouching ambling walk he used to achieve this really was very pleasant indeed, and I’d recommend it to everyone.

     I’d enjoyed my experience so much that I was doing my best to extend it as long as possible, and even though it was a school day, I decided to be a bit naughty and go to Greggs! As they do every time, The Blondies were totally overwhelmed by the vast array of delicious mass produced cakes on offer, and spent several (seven in fact!) minutes staring. Needless to say they changed their minds several times too; keen to wring as much enjoyment from it as possible!

     It goes without saying that I didn’t come home empty handed either! In the end I opted for a milk chocolate cookie, which was wonderfully chewy and moist, whilst The Girl had a triple chocolate muffin, which mostly decorated her face, coat and hands. The Boy, who doesn’t have such a sweet tooth, had a steak and cheese bake which caused him to go in raptures!

     There were one or two minor quibbles – a couple of teething problems with cyclists racing along pavements, but I’m sure these will be taken care of by the walkers who seemed very attentive, but unobtrusive, and mostly faded into the background. Unfortunately too, it was raining, but needless to say, I can’t fault the walk to school for that, and needless to say I’m sure it’s very pleasant on sunny days, and needless to say I shall be doing the walk to school again as soon as possible!

     What do you think? Have you done a school run recently? Leave me a comment in the box below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


     Where did I go wrong? What was it I did? Was it something I said? Did I encourage this? I know it’s my fault, but I don’t know what I did. I don’t know how to fix this.

     It’s school trip week. Year 6 are off to the National trust centre at Brancaster for five days. A few children haven’t gone. Some because they’re new to the school, and missed the letter & instalment payments. Some because their parents couldn’t afford the £260. And one because the letter home about the trip came at the wrong time.

     The Boy, of course. Always The Boy. The Letter about the school trip came at a time when he was struggling. When he hated school. When he was so unhappy, every day, that I was crying for him every morning. Thing was, it wasn’t school that was making him unhappy, he was just troubled. Trying to make sense of the world around him. Trying to understand how it was that one of his best friends was going to grow up without his mother. Scared. Scared that if it happened to his friend, it could happen to him too. And of course, with my history, it could have happened to him, although he’s unaware of that. Perhaps that’s why it was such a dagger through my heart, to see him try to process that. Knowing that he came so close to losing his mother too.

     It was a hard time, for me and for him. He was so unhappy. It wasn’t really about school; it was about being away from me. He just wanted to be close to me. The school were brilliant; I can’t speak highly enough of them. They understood exactly what he needed, they supported him, they did so much for him that he got his confidence back, he loves school again, he became my silly, giggly companion once more.

     But of course, there was a hangover. When The Letter arrived, he refused, point blank, to talk about it. ‘I’m not going.’ But all your friends will be there. ‘I’m not going.’ It’ll be a wonderful opportunity. ‘I’m not going.’ Look at all the activities they have. ‘I’m not going.’ You’ve been away from home before. ‘I’m not going.’ Your teachers think it’ll be ideal for you. ‘I’m not going.’ You won’t be far away, and you can phone us. ‘I’m not going.’ Shall we at least pay the deposit, in case you change your mind? ‘I’m not going.’ I’m not going to force you, but at least think about it. ‘I’m not going.’

     The teacher in charge of pastoral care even phoned us to say we needed to encourage him. ‘He’s such a lovely boy, he’s so kind, so thoughtful, this would do so much for his confidence’ But still, ‘I’m not going.’ And because I know him, because I know myself, I knew that if I were to push him into it, it could backfire nastily. The anxiety he’d feel, for months ahead of the trip, would send him into a spiral of misery. So I left it. I told him that whilst I thought he should go, I wasn’t going to make him do something he didn’t want to. I told him that his feelings were important, and I was listening to him. I told him that it was good he was so honest. Are you sure, The Boy? It could be fun. ‘I’m not going.’

     Until about two weeks ago. When it dawned on him that all of his friends were going. When he realised he’d be pretty much alone in the playground. When he’d settled into his new class with unprecedented ease. When he’d gained a huge amount of confidence in himself, from snorkelling every day in Spain. From completing the (frankly, shit scary) Go Ape treetop trail in Thetford forest. From being able to finally ride his bike. From attempting to skateboard. He’d conquered so many fears, physical fears, and he realised he could handle an activity holiday; he wasn’t worried about being away from me anymore.

     We couldn’t really afford it. £260. But we would have found the money, for him. Too late, though. No places left.

     And now… misery. Utter misery. Tears at schooltime, tears during school, tears when he gets home and tells me about his day, tears at bedtime. Tears on the way to school this morning, with ‘I’ll just spend all day CRYING’ thrown in.

     I comfort. I cajole. I distract. I tell him I’m sorry, that I know it’s rubbish, feeling left out of fun things. That it is a horrible feeling, especially because he changed his mind about wanting to go. I say it’s only a week, it’s not that long. I suggest fun things we can do together at the weekend. I spend hours on the sofa, hugging him, listening to his litany of woe. And (this is the bit where I’ll lose any sympathy you had for me) I want to shout at him. I want to say ‘for Christ’s sake. Get some perspective. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Nothing terrible has ever happened to you. You have been surrounded by love, comfort and warmth since the day you were born. This situation is of your own making, and YES I’m sorry that you feel so sad, but stop fecking moping about, stop complaining about your life, and realise you could not be more fucking privileged than you already are. Stop being so bloody precious, stop feeling so sorry for yourself, and instead of constantly banging on about how hard done by you are, realise that you are incredibly fucking LUCKY.’

     Of course I can’t. Of course I won’t. Not least because of The Swears. But I’m starting to think this situation is actually because of me. Maybe I’ve been too indulgent. Maybe I’ve been too soft. Maybe, by constantly listening to him, validating his feelings, I’ve made him a bit too self centred. I did it because I saw so much of myself in him, and I didn’t want him to grow up feeling the way that I did, isolated, overlooked, unimportant. I always felt that my feelings were never considered, and I didn’t want him to feel the same. I didn’t want him to feel as crushed as I did.

     Instead, it seems, I’ve gone the other way. I’ve created a child who, whilst loving, sensitive, and affectionate, is also (WRITE IT) a bit of a brat.