The Aftermath

So, how does it feel in the aftermath of a crash and burn?

I’m not back to full strength by a long chalk but after some ‘me’ time over the weekend curled up in bed sleeping, reading, and staring at the wall as well as time with family and a couple of bracing walks along the beach I’m definitely feeling better than I was on Thursday. I still feel dead behind the eyes and my limbs are heavy as anything but my facial muscles are capable of smiling again which is definite progress.

I feel exposed though.

I’m fully clothed so don’t get any visions of me flashing my pants at you all but returning to the office the day after you’ve hit your depressive nadir and spent the morning snotting all over the place before throwing your hands in the air and saying you can’t cope leaves you feeling rather vulnerable indeed.

I felt awkward walking down the stairwell with the guy who ended up going to the Libya thing without me, there was an elephant in the room and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself apologising. Apologising for what exactly? For having depression. Ridiculous. It’s not like I want to have this after all.

So many people have held their hands up to me since Thursday and said “yep, totally know how you feel”. Some have done it on social media, some have done it privately, some have even done it face to face, but every single one has been very brave. It’s a crying shame that people are described as being “brave” for talking about mental health but for the time being that’s how it is. For the time being. Because the conversation about mental health isn’t going to go away.

In closing, to the person who said I should be less open about this so that I can attract a man?

Fuck that noise. Seriously, get fucked.

I’m Bic’s Bitch

5th February 2014 and having just almost ripped my 40 denier tights clean off me on a sticky out bit of coach I was pretty pissed off. I’d been herded through the tube strike traffic from my hotel to Earls Court with the rest of the buyers who were in various states of hungover after the party at the London Transport Museum the night before. Two blokes sat behind me were trying to convince their colleague that they weren’t in fact hungover, but that they’d picked up D&V at the party and were prettypoorlyactuallythankyouverymuch whilst I tried not to laugh in the faces. I was feeling quite sprightly having not over indulged (too much) and having made sure I downed a couple of pints of water before hopping in to bed. The fact that my hotel shower was made for midgets and I had to contort myself into various positions in order to wash my hair certainly woke me up too.

So there I was in the queue for the VIP cloakroom *sniffs* *pops collar* when I realised that literally looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge perhaps wasn’t quite the professional look I should be sporting so I needed to take action. I dragged my case off to the nearest disabled toilet cubicle and cracked it open, thanking my lucky stars that I’m a chronic over packer (as well as over sharer?) as my suitcase contents spilled forth. I fished out a pair of frankly hideous 15 denier “natural” tights that I once bought thinking they might come in handy, although history does not relate how they came to be in my case.

I popped them on and then realised that my legs weren’t quite 15 denier tights ready (after what can only be described as a “booty voicemail” from the night before) so I stuck my head in my bag of tricks again and hoped for the best. I rustled up a Bic razor and some vitamin E cream and nipped out to the sinks to try and make a lather on my legs. It failed miserably and so I basically ended up doing a Bic dry shave peppered with a lot of under my breath swearing and then slopping on a LOT of cream to delay the inevitable rash whilst wincing at the thought of having to repack my case.

I dread to think what the other ladies thought I was doing in there but of course I told pretty much anyone who even glanced at my pins throughout the day of my calamity. Note to self… Zip it!

The date was important because what was I doing almost EXACTLY three years earlier? Why I was having a Bic related toilet incident in my first week as a Thunderbird of course! *rolls eyes*

Doodle a Day: Thirty

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This one is dedicated to my friend Frankie. Leaving Saino’s earlier I was cruising down one travelator as he was schlepping up the other. I greeted him from opposite ends with a cheery “HELLO!” as he nonchalantly leant on the handrail to continue his journey up the slope. He had almost cruised to being level with me when I said (in a vaguely smarmy voice) “So, do you come here often?”

Hadn’t really clocked the guy who was in front of Frankie when I said that & who did a double take as I sailed down past him having delivered what he clearly thought was some sort of drive by sleazing.

Frankie’s face was an absolute picture!

Don’t Look Down

I didn’t watch it because I have a fear of heights that makes the mere thought of being stood on something as insignificant as a kick stool makes me want to cry however if my Twitter timeline was anything to go by, flipping loads of you did. I’m talking of course about the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Don’t Look Down’ about local Southampton Spiderman, James Kingston, scaling the highest heights without any safety equipment.

I remember the day he first came to my attention as I distinctly remember announcing to the office that ‘some dick’ had free climbed the crane in Ocean Village, ‘yes’ I said, ‘that massive behemoth that dominates the skyline outside Tesco’, ‘yes, free climbed as in no ropes, no harnesses, no PPE!’ I exclaimed. PPE being ever the watchword in these parts you’ll understand. ‘What a prick’ was my summing up of the situation.

I drove in to work the day after the documentary and found myself queueing in traffic past the Northam gas works which James has also scaled and I could see people around me pointing, gawping at the sheer size of it, and wondering how on earth he came to be at the top.

An unexpectedly beautiful picture snapped out of my car window whilst sat at the lights.
An unexpectedly beautiful picture snapped out of my car window whilst sat at the lights.

My stomach was doing somersaults and I was glad when the lights changed and I could drive on because if I’d stayed there any longer I’d probably have been sick. I had a similar reaction when the gas works loomed in to view on my way home as well. It’s funny how things change though.

Driving to work yesterday after hearing some tragic news I was brimming over with tears and emotions and found myself yet again queueing to go past the gas works, only this time I saw it with fresh eyes. Yes it’s still an incredibly irresponsible thing to be doing, and I pray to God that nobody copies him or that anyone attempting to rescue him (God forbid he should need rescuing) comes to any harm but it’s his choice to do it. It’s his choice to make the judgement call that climbing up these structures is more important than thinking about the risk of something going wrong and of those he’d leave behind, however putting that aside for a moment…

I can’t get the image of him standing at the top of the gas works out of my head. The air looks so still around him and in that moment he must have felt invincible. Perhaps it’s because it’s an image that we so rarely see of the busy, noisy, smelly city that I live in that’s got me thinking about it so much. Perhaps it’s because yesterday morning, when life seemed so futile and fragile, I’d have given anything to feel invincible, even for a moment.

28 Days Later…

I have made a promise with myself to write a proper blog once a week this year and today is the deadline for this week but the ideas aren’t flowing.

I’ve been ill since before Christmas, been to the doctor twice and been told to just ride it out and now have definitely reached the end of my tether. I’ve done really well keeping a brave face on and riding out the storm but having spent the last two nights rolling round in the foetal position in between pacing up and down making noises like a hormonal Chewbacca, enough is enough.

I should have gone to the hospital yesterday morning but apart from being weepy I perked up after some food and was with also the Urbans (6/9 are doctors) so was in good hands. Last night I stayed in Salisbury and lo and behold 3:30 rolled around and I was in agony. Felt like I was giving birth without any painkillers type agony. It subsided after about two hours and I thankfully went back to sleep.

Except I can feel the pain ramping up again and am dreading another night of not knowing what to do with myself. There’s no loneliness quite like the one experienced when you’re in pain and yet I don’t want to go to A&E because I’m still hoping that my GP is right and the problem will stop of its own accord.

I struggle with being “the sickly friend” because it really feels like it is just one freakin’ thing after another with my body. I know I screwed my body into the ground by being so big but I just wish I could catch a break. It scares me that there is always something going wrong because it reminds me of Mum who always said she knew she wouldn’t make it to old bones, and is this my body’s way of telling me I’ll be headed the same way?

Gosh. Doom and indeed gloom.
Come on Mother Nature, back off a bit eh?!

What Would You Do?

Yesterday I witnessed a horrific assault in broad daylight. On a busy thoroughfare at rush hour.

What would you have done? Would you have put your head down and scuttled past? Would you have carried on painting the wall in front of you like the very dedicated decorator who was approximately 2 metres away from a man getting the absolute shit kicked out of him?

I had pulled into a parking bay at the side of the road to answer my mobile when I saw the attack and in the split second when I realised what was going on opposite me I debated honking my horn to try and scare three people stamping on a man’s head but then what if they ran over to me? Then what? Sure I was in my car and protected but still, who wants to open a whole world of pain for themselves if they can avoid it. I knew I couldn’t drive on and leave this guy getting his face smeared across the pavement so I pulled my car forward so that I wasn’t directly staring at the fists and feet flying and called the Police.

It’s not the first time I’ve called the Police after witnessing a vicious assault and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The last time involved going to court as a witness against one of my neighbours, a teenage girl, who had delivered such a kicking to a student at the local University that the victim had to endure surgery to fix her jaw, her nose, and two broken cheekbones. But I’d still do it again without a moment’s thought.

I’m not some sort of vigilante or superhero who is going to wade in and get mouthy or punchy to stop someone getting hurt, I wouldn’t have put myself at risk yesterday by leaping out of my car and running over to haul the men off but I couldn’t have walked away, my conscience wouldn’t let me.

I was amazed and saddened at the people who pretended nothing was happening.

What would you do?

Jeremy Fucking Clarkson, or How I Nearly Died.

The final day of 2013 brought with it the annual pilgrimage to spend the dying hours of the year with my Urban family and this year that meant a trip up the A34/M40 to stay at Chez Toj. I’d packed comfy pants because Toj (Tom and Odge) are the feeders of the family, whizzes in the kitchen and their house is a veritable smorgasbord of treats. However it wasn’t all plain sailing to get to Tommy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory as yours truly almost killed herself on the way up.

I stopped at Chieveley services for petrol and a pee and getting back out to the motorway, doing about 25 miles an hour, my little rollerskate (Yaris) hit a patch of water and well, it just went fucking nuts skidding all over the place and genuinely feeling like it was going to tip over. They say that your life flashes before your eyes before you die, but what came in to my head? Jeremy Clarkson. JEREMY FUCKING CLARKSON.

It’s not because I’ve spent my entire life harbouring a secret crush on the man with his high waisted stonewash Dad jeans but because my brain was desperately trying to remember what the fuck you’re supposed to do when you aquaplane and totally lose control of the ton of steel underneath your fingertips. Well Jezza, you failed me and so I did what I thought best which was shriek, take both hands off the wheel and both feet off the pedals and hope for the best.

Thankfully I made it through unscathed apart from being so shaken up I thought my heart was going to burst in my chest. I looped back round and parked up until the shaking had subsided and then carried on slowly to Birmingham to find Tom in the midst of a baking frenzy. Tempted as I was to kick back and watch the master at work, I was roped in to help with making peanut butter cups and homemade doughnuts.

Om nom nom...
Peanut butter cups, bagels, lemon drizzle cake, jam doughnuts and Delia’s coconut and lime cake.

As you can see there was quite a feast, including a Delia Smith coconut and lime cake – Delia is henceforth to be known as Fucking Delia because try as we might we couldn’t get the icing to be the right consistency even though we followed the recipe TO THE LETTER. Ours was better anyway so come on Delia, let’s be havin’ YOU!

We were joined by Crag and Lou and their very very adorable new bundle of joy Oliver who we cooed over, cuddled and imparted words of wisdom to such as ‘Toj are huge feeders’, ‘Aunty Jo smells like horses’ and ‘Aunty Ally likes snogging inappropriately younger men’. We were reduced in number with six of the Urbs sadly unable to make it and who were much missed but we hunkered down with bubbles to eat our bodyweight in food and generally have a jolly old time. Gazza Bazza (who ever thought HE’D be the fit one from Take That?!) was on the telly on mute so we wouldn’t get distracted and miss the countdown and at twenty past eleven Oj was dispatched to get a boardgame to keep her awake to the midnight bongs!

We ended up playing Taboo and I managed to round off 2013 by winning the coveted title of ‘Dick of the Day’ by genuinely thinking that it was decreed in the bible that shops less than 280sq feet in size weren’t bound by Sunday trading rules. Yes, I am a total penis at times. Midnight came and went in a haze of bubbles, fireworks and some ropey ‘la la la ing’ when we realised none of us are quite sure of the words to Auld Lang Syne. We made it through to a respectable half past one by bandying around a variety of resolutions before toddling off to bed with promises of same time next year.

I woke up on the first morning of the new year with a marginally baggy head and a big smile on my face which turned into outright giggles when I saw two draft messages in my phone which set off a couple of memories from the night before:

“You’re going back to being Pope you fuckwit”, the closing line of our Urban family impromptu singsong of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ theme and my personal favourite, “Hakuna Matata Astoria Tenacious D” which is Crag’s inimitable version of the spell from ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’! All in all, urban family weirdness very much included, it was a total smasher of a night, and a pretty damn good year all round.

Happy New Year!

 

 

2013: Here’s lookin’ at you kid…

2013 started with a bang… Or a furry moustache, my Urban family and a hangover!

NYE 2012/2013I celebrated a Happy Un-birthday by having a Bath Day with the Urbans and Dan the Builder

Happy Bath DayThe Urbs took ourselves off to Centre Parcs for our first holiday together, cue lots of silliness and trying to make Thomas throw up in a loop de loop

Bouncing BettsyChris & Leanne got hitched in a weekend festival wedding of epic proportions, fireworks, Sailor Jerry’s, glowsticks, hangovers, driving a Mum truck to the frozen North, and most importantly a whole lot of love (and raving, late night, drunken raving)

Wedstock

Before it went downhill...Raving.Loulabella turned 30 so we hired a beach hut and frolicked in the sand like adults, drinking bubbly as we went… Well all except Lou who told us she was pregnant!

Take that!I hung out with these two jokers quite a bit:

JokersTried to learn how to use my camera on a lovely day out at Hyde Hall with Hannah, the niblings and her Mum and brother.

9My scrumptious niece had a church blessing, and then trampled over her picnic in her quest for goodies whilst somehow managing to not get her dress dirty!

BottomI caught up with very dear friend at a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream at Arundel Castle

Arundel CastleI met with these gorgeous girls to drink bubbles at the Serpentine in the sunshine, all except Leanne who told us she was pregnant! 13

14Then we went and made Judy’s dreams come true by being drunk at Vogue (well, drunk yet impeccably behaved outside Vogue – totally still counts)

15The beautiful Annebelle got hitched to her handsome man Seth and more fool them, they asked me to conduct part of the shindig… Cue lots and lots of happy tears and a beautiful new husband and wife!

17Nicko, Hannah and I took silly pictures and wrote lots of in joke messages in the guest book before I had to scoot like Cinderella

16To get on a plane to go to Miami for work (tough life…) I managed to avoid spending the whole time singing Will Smith’s ditty and had a jolly old time.

1918I did the unthinkable (unthinkable at the start of the year anyway!) and ran the Great South Run along with my gorgeous sister in law Karen, and wonderful colleague Aaron (rhyming names a coincidence!)

20I fell down a rabbit hole for my work party and entered Wonderland for the night, until the next morning when I woke up with a thumping head and black feet from walking home with no shoes on.

21I spent Christmas with the niblings in Dorset, visited my lovely friend Charlotte to coo in person over her engagement ring, drove from Southampton to Hemel Hempstead on a whim to make hot chocolate and cookies and am gearing up to go to Birmingham tomorrow night to ring in the New Year in the company of my besties, the Urban Family.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and now I’m almost at the end of it with a massive smile on my face thinking about how much fun its been. My resolution for next year is to keep on truckin’, in fact I might even get it on a trucker cap, y’know really hammer the point home. Things have really been going my way this year, particularly in the latter half and so for 2014 what I’d really like to do is maintain the status quo. I’ve said hello, I’ve said goodbye, and for the first time in a long time I feel like I’ve come out on top. In the words of Charlie Sheen…

WINNING

Two Bowls of Blancmange

I heard them before I could see them, 320 pairs of feet slapping against the concrete path and as the noise got louder and the feet got closer the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I clapped the runners past. It was the most incredible sound and hard to imagine that I am normally one of them, although not getting anywhere near the pace that the frontrunners achieve. The sound of the sea used to be my favourite noise but I tell you, the sound of trainers pounding concrete sure takes some beating.

I volunteered this Saturday at my local Parkrun giving out the position tokens in the finish funnel and I really felt the love. I also felt the heat and shared the pain as people beasted themselves round the course. My congratulations felt a bit empty and I wish I could have given them ice cold water and a rub down as they passed me by all sweaty and disorientated.

Ooh, that sounds a bit pervy, it wasn’t meant to.

Fast forward 24 hours and I was back on the Common but this time I was clad head to toe in Lycra (yes, in public!) and ready to take on Race for Life with the ladies from work. We took our places in the sea of pink and tried to keep as cool as possible which was pretty darn difficult because it was hot. Bastard hot in fact. So hot that all I wanted to do was lie in the shade whilst wearing as little as possible and drinking ice cold G&T’s, not hoofing my arse round Southampton Common even if it was for charity. However the love for my family, friends, and work ladies affected directly and indirectly by cancer propelled my bottom forth to the point that where we rounded the corner back out on to The Avenue talking about how wonderful the support we show each other is my legs went a bit fizzy thinking about it.

Our team all crossed the line with big smiles on their faces, really feeling like we achieved something, by raising over £2,000 for Cancer Research, by supporting each other on a very emotional day, and by busting our humps round the course in the extreme heat. Sure there have been naysayers saying it’s only 3 miles but yah boo sucks to them, it’s easy to do something down when you weren’t there.

Last night feeling spurred on by life and a bit freaked out that it was 3 months, 1 week and 3 days until the Great South Run I decided to make the switch to proper outdoor training instead of pounding out miles on the treadmill. I’d been putting it off because I knew that some scrote would comment on the size of my arse or my wobbly thighs or potentially both combined.

Well I wasn’t wrong. However the three little cock weasels who chose to point out that I have a big arse don’t get any points for creativity whatsoever, because did they really think I’d made it to 31 years old without realising I don’t in fact have an arse like two boiled eggs in a hankie? It’s more like two bowls of blancmange in a picnic blanket and so it felt bloody great to have a little smirk at their braindead waste of oxygen comments and speed up leaving them in my trails. In my head I felt like Marion Jones but in reality I was more like a particularly energetic tortoise.

I did it though, and I’ll do it again, and again, and again, until running outside feels like second nature and I can look back at my 15 minute one mile run with pride that I didn’t give up.

Because I won’t. Fat blancmange arse or not.