Ready for Ladies in Lavender?

I met up with my friend today who I have known since I was 10. We are starting to feel a bit old and past it and find ourselves looking at older women with bodies bent over zimmerframes/ walking sticks/ shopping trolleys with dogs in and musing what we will be like when we are still meeting up for tea dosed up on drugs, equipped with tena ladies and commenting on the length of skirts on girls. I recalled the film Ladies in Lavender and the sad realisation that Judi Dench’s character experienced when she realised she will never have the passion and pleasure experienced with young love, nor have the capabilities to woo a man of a certain age. How awful must it be when men just look straight through you.

I had a phone call from the guy I had a crush on during my cycle training today and blushed while I was talking to him. I also had my husband’s twenty something ex employee doing some hard work in the front garden and I came over all bashful when I asked if he took sugar and he said he was ‘sweet enough’. Its pathetic but now I am too old for schoolgirl crushes, I want to rekindle that feeling.

But I am on the slippery slope to Judi Denchdom and ‘growing old gracefully’.

But as I once saw written on the back of a motorhome, I believe in ‘adventure before dementia’.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The rutting season

I could barely walk this morning. Yesterday i powerhooped, jogged, rode and jumped my way through the day and paid for it today – i was all out of high-kicks.

I swam during my lunch-break, which felt good although i do find it frustrating. Swimming is one of the few sports where the more effort you put in, the less progress you make, hence the frustration. It is not about effort, but technique. I have a friend who seems to effortlessly glide and tumble turn through her lengths, while i am gasping for breath at each end. If i attempt a tumble-turn, i always end up in a different direction of travel. So i do what i do in most situations, i try harder, which only serves to slow me down more aarrgh!

My husband’s career is a bit like swimming. He has tried to work harder to get better qualifications but so far he isnt even getting job interviews, let alone jobs. He is trying to switch jobs, albeit in the same industry but having worked as a tree surgeon for 20 years, employers cant see him as anything but a tree surgeon.

For me, in my existing career, i have all the qualifications and experience i need o progress, but having a family and taking a couple of years off for children has stalled my earning potential. I have had at least 2 potential employers turn me down simply because my current salary doesnt look good, despite my skills and experience. They find it difficult to take me seriously, hence the dead-endedness of my job.

As for ambitions to be a social worker…still waiting for that 1 year magic conversion course o materialise. Until then i will carry on ploughing this furrow (albeit not a bad one as furrows go).

With the boot on the other foot, we had a few job application forms to sift through for my colleague’s maternity cover. For some reason i honed in on the birth-date and my boss questioned short-listing someone in their early 60s arguing that they would not have enough knowledge of social media. On paper this particular person seemed o be the most experienced of the lot of them, so i am interviewing her. This remark comes from the same boss who asked me in my interview if i was going to have more children…..

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.


Fading photos….but not faded enough

I made a nasty discovery in my mum’s old photo collection today…….me when I was fat.

I recall listening to Sara Cox on the radio one day when she remarked how old and inferior she felt when watching 19 year old girls walk by with amazing figures and not terribly much on. She described them as 100% prime beef with men all queuing up at a meat market.

This was not me at 19. Before university student life I had an OK figure, then I started drinking cider and eating at greasy spoons and trying to keep up with my boyfriend’s daily calorific intake. When I look back I recall it not being the healthiest episode of my life and that I may have crept up to a size 14, but the picture is shocking. I literally look like someone pumped me full of gas. Even my facial features have been lost to the landmass that is my bloatedness. Thankfully I can look back on it now and feel relieved that the wind didn’t change and that I didn’t stay that way. It is a shame though that I bhdidn’t look my best when my skin was still in its ‘youth’.

Now in my thirties I have finally grasped the concept of ‘my body is a temple’, yet i have lots of grey hairs, wrinkles  and a few saggy bits where things haven’t ‘sprung’ back to shape. Its all a little bit too late. But as you get older, concerns about your appearance hive way to preserving your health, which is why i am fitter and slimmer now than when i was in my teens……back then i did whatever i wanted and thought about the consequences later.

So to prevent me from ever ballooning like i did when i was 19, that photo is stuck to my fridge as a reminder whenever i get tempted away from an evening’s exercise or tempted towards sugary treats.

I decided not to put the pictures of my semi-naked mother (she seemed to like going topless on all of our family holidays) and my father with george best hair and a podgy tummy on the fridge. Some photos are best left in albums, or better still in our memories… fade with time.

I am blogging for Unicef. Thanks for reading.



Further to my post about racism in a school community, I have been unfortunately inspired to write about racism in a rural community.

First is the story of an Asian boy who has experienced severe bullying related to his ethnicity, including being spat at. The school in question has done nothing about it. He is being sent on a kidscape course to help him recover from the experience of being a victim and to meet up with other children who have also been victimised so that they can experience some solidarity.

Second is the experience of my brother-in-law, of Jamaican origin, who has been staying in the area and was ignored by my in-law’s neighbours. During a walk in the park, a mother pulled her children to one-side, whispered something to them and chaperoned them past my brother-in-law as if he was a criminal.

The views of some of my parent’s generation is unforgivable, but when this level of racism filters down to people born from 1960s onwards I can only despair at the world and where society is heading – backwards.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.


Experienced to a degree


My husband is trying to change his career. He wants to remain in arboriculture but do more walking, less climbing, more talking, less sawing and more pen-pushing, less grafting.

For him to do this he needs qualifications and some of these qualifications are hard to acquire. He has just found out he has failed one of his courses and i am trying to prop up his self-esteem and confidence, encouraging him to keep n going because his current job will have him slumped in a wheelchair by the time he is 55. Like many who have had to return back to education to improve career prospects, he is regretting not concentrating more at school.

Frustratingly, many of the jobs he is looking at want more than just qualifications, they want a degree. Why do so many jobs request this?

Now the Government has made it harder to afford higher education, so where does that leave society? The well-paid getting their offspring jobs, but your average family struggling to get past first base because of employers wanting degrees left, right and centre?

Employers need to stop requesting degrees for so many jobs at varying levels across industries. When this happens the job-market will become more accessible, less people will be on benefits and there won’t be  this glut of graduates ever year who start life in debt but unable to get a job, when they could have been building up 3 years work experience.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Judas’ mum

What are you doing?” I said to my mother as I watched her shuffle on top of a towel across the floor of a sauna on a spa day. Girls on a hen day giggled as she did it and not for the first time in my life, I wondered whether I should wait before exiting the sauna so it wasn’t so obvious that we were related.

I recall the last time I had this thought when I was 14 in London at Madame Tassauds.  Before the show re- enacting The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band, the director asked that no-one was to leave the performance while it was still in progress as the door was linked to each of the Beatles’ wax models and opening the doors would auto shut-down the puppets. So as the show started, my mother realised she had left  her bag in another part of the museum. Before I could stop her she shot up ran to the double doors and flung them both open in complete disregard for The wax Beatles who were in mid-note. As the director warned, the puppets  froze, their mechanically operated jaws seized as if my mum had stunned them for daring to leave the performance. The director immediately switched the lights on and asked the audience ‘I can’t believe she just did that, does anyone know that woman?’

I remained deathly quiet and nervously glanced around hoping no-one noticed that I came in with her. If someone had asked me I would have done a Judas and denied she had ever been my mother. Well not quite like the Judas/Jesus situation but you get my drift….

Back to today and my mother wanted to check out the gym and have a go on the walking/running machine. She was doing it bare foot in a dressing gown clinging on to the sides and shuffling like an incontinent granny. “walk normal” …”i am walking normal”. “Mum I have never seen you walk like that in my life”. I glance around convinced some fit gym management person is going to remove us on health and safety grounds. But amazingly no-one comes. Thankfully after 5 minutes my mum notices the machine has registered she has burnt 10 calories and shops pronouncing, ‘well that’s my work-out for the day’. No joke at one point the granny shuffle created a heart rate bpi of 109.

Although I mock my mother, I am starting o show similar traits and my daughter is starting to experience the first effects of parental embarrassment.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF. Read more about the campaign here.

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The Ladies Room

If I was to consolidate all of my clubbing experiences through my teens and early twenties into a short film aired in the ladies toilets of a nightclub, then it wouldnt be too dissimilar to the storyline of ‘The Powder Room’, a British film a million miles away from Working Title scmultz. A girly flick with grit. It works because the ladies room of nightclubs across the country re-enact mini soap operas every weekend. Of course the same concept wouldnt work in the men’s urinals, although it may be abit of an eye opener as to what dialogue, if any, is exchanged between guys.

Watching this film was almost like a fond trip down memory lane, with those memories significantly exaggerated and dramatised. It covers pretty much every scenario a woman may find herself in at a British nightclub. All except the ease of access to the loos. Wherever I went there was always a huge queue and not enough time to hang around like it was some kind of seedierversion of a coffee shop, where you might like to hang and chat. I cant recall ever spending longer than 10 minutes in the ladies, I  favour of hollering at eachother in the club. You couldn’t seek the solace of a smoking area because smoking was allowed everywhere, including in the loos.

The film at times made me hanker for my clubbing days but in the main I am glad that time is behind me. I watched it with one eye on memories of my youth and one eye on what may lie in store for my daughter and what choices she will make when put in similar scenarios. I hate to think that she would be anything like me, if she is I hope she has the luck and resilience yo go with it.

I am blogging every day for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.