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.

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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…..to fade with time.

I am blogging for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Backwards

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

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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.

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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.

 

Never walk with children and animals

Dog ownership, like being a parent, has its highs and lows. On a beautiful warm spring day, I went on a dog walk with four dogs, 2 children and 2 grandparents. We did manage to cover ground but only after frequent stops for the following reasons:

1) Pick up poo. With one poo bag between 4 dogs I was quite naturally worried that I would be caught short and even after holding my breath while I picked the first one up, within seconds the putrid smell was intoxicating as I let it hang from my hand. So unable to locate a dog poo bin, I followed the advice of grandad and dropped it down a drain, “it all leads to the sewers” he said as he encouraged me to get rid of the offensive material. It was either that or I think he was going to disown me. At least it is better than using it to ‘decorate’ a tree as some people do for some unearthly reason – surely its better to leave it on the ground but just kick it off the path? Then dog turd number 2 came along but as it was on the road we figured it would be OK as it wasn’t near a footpath. I was left with no choice as all bags were out. Then thankfully dog number 3 decided to do it in a field away from passers by. Dog number 4 waited until the woods. Oh the joys of dog ownership.

2) Dog knitting. The first part of our walk was through a horse-stud so dogs had to be on a lead. You can imagine what it was like trying to unravel the dogs when one went one way and another went in the opposite direction. At one point Grandad was frozen to the spot as we unwound the leads from his ankles.

3) Baby boy follows his own route. Now little one is walking it is clear he prefers to take the ‘off-piste’ route and doesn’t take any notice of the path, the brambles and tree roots are far more interesting. The ‘bye I’m leaving now’ tactic doesn’t work either, he just smiles and then ends up testing your nerve as he watches you disappear from sight, quite happily. When you start to return to him he then walks in the opposite direction – its a game that tests patience, of which I was fast running out.

4) Older daughter’s aching legs. Every now and then we would glance behind us to check my 8 year old daughter was still with us, but with every glance came an update from her on the status of her leg ache along with a whining enquiry as to ‘when are we turning back home’?

As much as I would have loved to have ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’ admiring the daffodils etc in the British sunshine, my admiration of this country’s beauty when the sun shines was limited to quick glimpses in between picking up dog poo, monitoring the backsides of the dogs’ bottoms to check that further number twos weren’t being dropped in inappropriate areas, ensuring no-one was trussed up in dog leads and motivating both children to walk, and keep walking, in the right direction. Then my dad started limping and I realised we needed to find somewhere to sit.

That was my Sunday walk.

I am blogging every day for Unicef, if you are able please donate to the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Back to Brick

A message from fellow blogger and biker http://mysisterskidney.wordpress.com/ has inspired me to go all retro with my replacement mobile phone. He drew my attention to the 20th anniversary of the mobile phone – see  (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/09/20_years_of_gsm_digital_phones/. This makes me (and a lot of you guys no doubt) feel a tad old. My first ever phone was a Philips Fizz. It weighed a tonne but I thought I was ultra cool as I literally lugged it around – it was bigger than most of the landline phones we use today

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I have now called off the search for my Blackberry. It soldiered on ringing whenever it was called but no-one was nearby to hear its call. Tesco have now replaced my sim card and the one that sits in my abandoned Blackberry is now blocked. I have been using my husband’s smart phone until I get a replacement. It is a bitch to use. It does things I dont want it to do. People have often remarked on how small my hands are, but they must be as big as sausages if my texting is anything to go by. My husband’s hands are huge – they are like shovels. But somehow he manages to deftly navigate through the menu and churn out texts with the lightest of touches. Its not just his make of phone, I have a similar problem with my work phone. I am a complete granny when it comes to new tech.

In losing my phone I am pissed off I have lost my images too. The wallpaper of my phone is a gorgeous pic of my children and I have lost that particular image forever. So, I am going to get a phone that JUST calls people and sends text messages in an easy to use way. I don’t want a whizz bang camera because If I want to guarantee me images I’d rather use my camera which is more easily backed up on my computer. I dont want twitter or facebook or any other social media shite. I don’t need emails or the internet or WAP crap. I just want long battery life, a loud ring so that I can hear it at the pit of my bag and big buttons for my cumbersome small fingers. A little bit of resilience wouldn’t go amiss either as I am very clumsy and have lost count of how many phones I have dropped.

Any ideas or suggestions greatly received. To my Blackberry RIP – I look forward to meeting you again in another life when we are both cats.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you can spare a quid today – check out my site.

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Treading the mill but admiring the view

My friend and I discovered we had another thing in common yesterday. We both believe that having children satisfies our selfish need to interrupt the monotony of life and continue the momentum of the treadmill that is survival. In Western society, survival means affording a weekly shop and keeping up the rent and mortgage payments (it would also be nice to be able to afford a trip away every now and again, eating out, some clothes and some nice things at Christmas). She, like me, experiences happiness with a tinge of anxiety at every uplifting moment in life. Why? Because we fear the inevitable dip following a good moment – I feel good now but surely this will not last, something shit will happen to counteract all the good stuff.

We all hope that the bad things are not catastrophic (such as losing a loved one) then life alters its course from survival to an empty existence. We all pity those who have been forced to live their lives this way because of circumstances either in or out of their control. We keep our fingers crossed we do not join the group that merely exist.

When I was younger, I thought it was unfair to perpetuate the trials of life by having children. I also didn’t believe in marriage (what does God do when you make plans?……). As far as we know there is no alternative to life, other than death. So, since we don’t know an awful lot about the after-life, you might as well give life a try and you hope your children will grasp at the opportunity and, on the whole, enjoy it. After all, as parents we are responsible for introducing them to the world in the first place so we need to make sure they enjoy their stay.

My friend and I have another thing in common. It is time of the month and hormones are raging – can you tell? After our in-depth philosopical discussion (when we talked while the children cycled down a old railway track somewhere in the South Downs) we turned round and admired the the rolling hills and blue sky. I turned to my friend and said ‘It’s shit but the view isn’t bad is it?’ We stopped and we stared.

A Mum I know cleans 20 rooms a day in a care home for the elderly on the minimum wage – just about enough to feed her and her 2 boys and pay some bills. There isn’t enough staff for theelderly residents so the care staff do the bare minimum – getting them in and out of the chair for the day-time and in and out of their bed for the night-time. My friend says there is no care involved as she witnesses this while cleaning and it sickens her. She is so tired on her return from work that she has to muster up what little energy she has left to clean her own house. It doesn’t sound like much of a life to me but she has 2 gorgeous and well-behaved sons and she smiles.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support Unicef’s work with vulnerable children around the world, please visit my site to make a donation.

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