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.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


     We’re all familiar with mansplaining, right? Where a woman talks about something she has had direct personal experience of, only to be interrupted with an unasked for contribution from some bloke, telling her that she’s wrong and it’s not really like that at all, and he is here to explain it all for her. I’ve had it happen to me many times. What I’ve also had happen quite a few times this year is archsplaining.

     I’m not an archaeologist; I have no pretensions towards being one, nor a historian, nor a heritage professional. I’m me, just me, a twatty blogger with a history of mental health problems who has happened to fall under the spell of graffiti (medieval graffiti in particular), and am evangelical/loud/quite annoying and difficult to shut up about it. I don’t lay claim to being an expert on any aspect of archaeology, mental health, or graffiti.

     That’s the disclaimer. What I am, however, is a member of the public who is passionate about history and heritage, about people and their lives, and why it’s important that we study and learn from them. Why it matters that we engage people with what is their history, in whatever form that takes, whichever period of history or aspect of it that appeals to them. I’m very fortunate to live in Norwich, a city that’s filled to the brim with past lives and buildings that reflect that. Perhaps if I lived in Milton Keynes I’d feel differently. Who knows?

     I could bang on for a fair bit about the importance of history and people and so on, but I do that quite a lot, so I’ll just get to my point instead. And from now on, when I type ‘archaeologists’, please take it as a given that I mean ‘some archaeologists/historians/heritage professionals’. I’ve come across quite a few in recent years, and many of them have been utterly lovely, encouraging, helpful and supportive. If you’re on twitter, I suggest you follow Natalie Cohen, Helen J, medieval graffiti, Waveney archaeology, Ian Groves and Andrew Macdonald at the very least. They will bring you happiness, insight, and quite a few giggles too (and apologies to Other Lovely Archaeologists I know I’ve forgotten, add yourself in the comments).

     So. Archsplaining. It takes two forms. The first is quite straightforward. A twatty blogger writes a post about an aspect of archaeology she finds interesting, or her personal experience, solely from her perspective, with no pretensions towards academic glory or even really historical accuracy, because she is but a civilian. Many people enjoy the post, and say so. And then… the archaeologists descend. And don’t talk to her directly, but perhaps say ‘oh dear. She really doesn’t understand what she’s talking about. Let’s sneer at her from a not really very discreet distance at all, or perhaps comment about her mental health.'

     The second type of archsplaining is the one that annoys me most. It is the seemingly limitless ability to find gloom and doom and negativity in even the most beautiful unicorn farting rainbow glitter over a waterfall (sample archaeologist reaction: who’s going to clear that mess up? And I bet it pollutes the water. This is an ancient monument, I don’t think it’s right to add a unicorn to it. It’s all become too commercialised these days. Look at all the people enjoying this sight, they have precisely NO knowledge of unicorns! This really should be closed off before we have too many members of the general public seeing it and not understanding it’s significance, I’m not going to waste my time trying to explain it to anyone who doesn’t have my level of knowledge, and anyway I don’t get paid enough and archaeologists are special and precious and we must not allow anyone in to our exclusive club and and and)

     I don’t mind being sneered at so much (I mean, I do mind, it really fucking pisses me off to be honest, but hey ho, life isn’t a popularity contest and we all end up dead), what infuriates me is the fact that I am giving archaeologists a sodding gold plated opportunity to engage with people like me. If I’m wrong about something, then talk to me about it, don’t talk about me instead. It’s the insular nature of archaeology that winds me up to the point that I could power the bloody Aswan dam. Take last week’s post about me gaining confidence via a community archaeology project. At no point in that did I say ARCHAEOLOGY FOR EVERYONE WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS SHOULD BE MANDATORY. No, I was just relating my experience, in what I think was a fairly honest way, and I was pretty overwhelmed at the response I got, from people like me, people not like me, and the Lovely Archaeologists I’ve mentioned above.

     And you’re already reading ‘BUT’, before I’ve even typed it… god ALMIGHTY the reaction on one facebook page. It wasn’t all negative, not at all, so don’t get huffy. But the gloomy, woe-filled, ‘yeah, but what about US as archaeologists, who cares about our mental health, and I don’t think archaeology should be used as therapy, and loads of projects will exploit mental health patients, and we’re not responsible for people who are ill, and and and’ comments that followed... I mean, seriously, guys? Seriously? From one twatty blogger’s celebratory and joyful post about how one community archaeology project made one of her days wonderful and has given her confidence, hope, and a new passion… and instead it becomes an issue about how archaeologists are so unfairly treated man, it’s just not even funny (there was also a glib remark about ‘being barking mad’ that I may have seriously got The Arse with).

     Jesus wept. I appreciate that there are very real dangers facing archaeology, both as a profession and in terms of physical heritage. But the instinctive behaviour of so many professionals seems to be to huddle inwards into a circle, backs against the world, moaning and sighing that no one outside the circle understands. Well, maybe, and this is just the suggestion of someone who isn’t an archaeologist… perhaps if no one understands, the fault lies not with us, the public, the volunteers, the twatty blogger, but with the way in which you choose to communicate? That’s my little bit of archsplainery advice.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Emailing my brother

I was going to email you. I was going to email you. I knew the words I would use, the carefully selected phrases. I was going to email you, and tell you that Dad was ill.

I was going to email you. I was going to tell you that although you and I would never have a relationship again, that I no longer cared about you, and what you felt about me, that Dad was ill. I was going to tell you that dad is ill, it's scary, and I don't know how much longer he has left.

I was going to email you and ask you something. I was going to ask you to please, just see him again. In a neutral setting, perhaps with others around, perhaps just the two of you. I was going to email you and say please, it's breaking his heart. Dad, who has given us three so much over the years. It breaks his heart daily, knowing that his son won't see him, won't talk to him, seemingly has no interest in him. We know what Dad's like. Argumentative, competitive, but also the softest hearted fool going.

I was going to email you. I was going to say to you that, I'm not asking you to do this for me, Mum, our sister, our children, or anyone else, but for you an him I was going to say that I would do nothing to stop this meeting from taking place. That I don't hold any resentment towards family members who want to maintain a relationship with you, that my feelings towards you have nothing to do with anyone else. That it would no cause no nastiness, no recriminations, nothing, if you were to see our father again. I would be glad, for his sake. I was going to ask you how you would feel if you and your son became estranged, and he refused to contact you when you were ill.

I was going to email you to say all of that.

But then, instead, you met our sister. And you hurled bile, invective, hatred, her way. She didn't deserve that, any of it. She, of all three of us, is the best and brightest of us all. The kindest, gentlest, warmest one. The one who was brave and strong enough to extend a hand to you. And you slapped her down.

I was going to email this to you. But I know now how you would take it. You would say I'm playing the victim, that I play people off against one another, that you don't give a shit. You would repeat what you said to our sister. That you hate Dad. That Dad's cunt. Dad's a psychopath.

You'd say again that you hope Dad dies soon.

You hope that Dad dies soon.

So, instead of emailing and keeping this between us two siblings, I'm blogging it instead. You won't listen to me, our sister, or Dad. But I'm blogging this because I want people to know what an evil, malignant, self centred cunt you are. And one day, maybe, you'll look back on this and wonder how you ever thought it was ok to behave the way you do. I doubt it will ever happen, you're too twisted and fucked up. But I still hold out hope for you, despite every shred of evidence.

You wish Dad would die soon. I wish, considering all the harm and damage you cause, that you had never been born.

I was going to email you. But there really was never any point in hoping to appeal to your better side. You don't have one.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


He's so ill. He's so ill that he can't talk, can't walk, doesn't eat.

He can barely breathe. I watch him. I watch him, when he thinks no one's looking. I see how he pauses, as he turns the kettle on. How twisting a tap causes him to gasp, and then lean against the counter. It takes him over half an hour to shower.

And he grimaces, and makes a joke out of how useless he is.

And I remember my dad. The dad I grew up with. Who played squash twice a week, tennis for two hours on Sunday afternoons. The dad who took me swimming every Sunday morning, who encouraged me to swim 104 laps, to say I'd swum a mile when I was ten years old.

He told me to argue, to question, to be a pain in the arse.

And now he can't even breathe enough to tell me to stop being a twatty blogger.
And I can't stop crying.