Sunday, 31 July 2011

The One with the Chinese Whispers

Friday night was an NCT girlie night out!

Much needed and now most of us are back at work we don't get the opportunity to get together as much as we would like, either with or without our little ones, so they are much missed.

Two couldn't make it due to family commitments and illness but otherwise it was a fine turnout. It's easier to get into the White House than it is to get eight busy working Mum's together so six of us was good going.

The last time we went out the gin and secrets flowed so we decided this time food might be in order to soak up the booze!

So we went for a Chinese meal. 

The feast was gorgeous, the gin and wine flowed again, the company was beautiful, inspiring and as always wonderfully supportive. We talked about our children sure but we also talked about us, our work, our families, our troubles and then our... hmm hmm ...nether regions!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a group of women get together and there is any kind of drink involved, the conversation will always turn to an intimate nature. But amazingly it wasn't about lack of control, sensitivity or peeing when you run, this was about "adornments"!

One of us got the ball rolling with a piercing but that was soon trumped by a revelation about not one but two tattoos!

What amazed me was the girlfriend in question, when she told us she had something written "down there" (yes actual text), whispered the expression "lady garden"! What a wonderfully coy and old fashioned term to use when you're the kind of gutsy girl to have your Fru Fru tattooed in the first place! Personally I think it's genius. You're never without something to read and I love having something to read on me.

Of course me being me didn't carry on the Chinese whisper theme and said in my fog horn voice,

"Lady garden? What you really mean is you're got writing on your fanny! That brings a whole new meaning to the expression "bedtime reading". 

We laughed. Because we always do when we are together and because I have discovered that nothing bonds eight women more than having babies within six weeks of each other.

If we hadn't have joined NCT we'd have never met. Myself and Lady Garden Lady especially would've had no reason too. She's the youngest, I'm the oldest. Our worlds just wouldn't have crossed. Yet I love her more than I can say and she makes me laugh more than I could've imagined.

They all do. And I wouldn't be without them for the world. Even if only for the fact that I now know at least one of them has always got something on her for me to read......

Friday, 29 July 2011

The One with the Spa Day

Last week was a bad week! For a variety of reasons!

But at least when Friday came I had a spa day booked with my Mum. A day of rest, relaxation and pampering and after the week I'd had I needed it.

We arrived early, donned our white fluffy robes and spent the first part of the morning chatting, drinking tea and sharing muffins. I know we were supposed to be doing something healthy like swimming lengths or sweating our bums off in the sauna but hey this was a day off! No work, no chores, no boy to tempt into eating sweet potato and chicken I'd lovingly prepared and he then throws on the floor, no CBeebies and no singing endless verses of "This Old Man he played...whatever number you care to think of and make up a rhyme for because I can't remember the words".

Once we moved into the main health spa we started off with the hydro pool. This is a small swimming pool, with bubbly edges like a Jacuzzi and then a three pronged water fall effect at the other end, where you can stand underneath the pounding jets of water and have your back and shoulders pummelled. I had a quick pummel. It was like someone sticking wet knives in the knots in my shoulders. Amazingly it felt good. 

We then went on to have a swim and a proper Jacuzzi. You hear some terrible scare mongering stories about Jacuzzis but I tried not to think about it as I let the hot bubbles burst across my back. I could feel the stress of the last few days melting away in the heat of the water.

Mum has high blood pressure so the sauna and steam rooms are out for her but she was happy to have a lie down on a sun lounger while I went off to feel the burn.

I started slowly with the aromatherapy room, which is a gentle, mild heat and has a, frankly hypnotic, colour changing glass pyramid that I couldn't take my eyes off. The scents also change, from camomile to eucalyptus to lavender. In hindsight it smelt like an old ladies knickers but at the time the combination of slowly changing colours and the heady smell, coupled with the heat made me slightly trippy and I liked it!

Next I tried the sauna!

Now for some reason which I will never fully be able to explain I thought the sauna was empty and again for some reason and I have no idea why, I decided to start singing "Get Your Freak On" as I entered the sauna. 

It wasn't empty! 

There was a lone chap in there and by the sweat pouring off his ample body I guessed he'd been in there some time. Maybe a little too long. He was hot and not in a good way. I don't know whether he heard my appalling white, middle aged attempts at a rap song by Missy Elliot but there was that awful silence in the time that elapses when if he walks out too soon it'll look rude but he quite clearly feels uncomfortable now I'm in here so has to stay for a bit.

To fill the time he felt was sufficient to stay before he could legitimately leave he didn't just lay still and sweat. Oh no! He decided it would be a good idea to do some exaggerated yoga style stretches which involved him lifting his bottom off the bench and thrusting his middle to nether regions up towards the ceiling. He was wearing garish white , long swim shorts with large green flowers on and he wasn't a small man. I sat transfixed and relieved that my snatch of singing wasn't the most embarrassing thing that had happened in that sauna all day.

Just thank goodness my Mum missed it, with her high blood pressure she'd have never coped!

When I came out there was an Aqua Aerobics class going on in the main pool, the music was pounding and it was hard to hear

"A guy in the sauna was doing the plank" I told Mum

"Doing WHAT?" shouted my Mum over the din.

"No not THAT! PLANK!"

Over lunch I explained the yoga move plank before Mum's blood pressure shot up again!

After lunch we had treatments booked. Back, neck and shoulder massage, manicure and pedicure. 

The whole day had been lovely.

On the way home we did what women do when they get together, enjoy each other's company in a relaxing and tranquil setting and bond and connect as females.

We discussed everyone else we'd seen in the spa all day and systematically pulled them apart.

"Did you see the size of that women getting out of the pool? She was like a beached whale"

"And what about the girl nearly wearing that pink bikini?"

"They weren't real for a start!"

"The bottom half of her body bore no resemblance to the top half. She had a tiny waist and legs but enormous boobs. She looked like one of those kids books where you flip half the page over and get a different head on a different body."

We drove home laughing and content that our own bodies were no where near as bad as we thought they were.

The sights you see when you haven't got your gun, hey!

Monday, 18 July 2011

The One with the Nanu's!

The boy has become obsessed with fire engines!

He obviously can't say fire engine yet so to exclaim his pleasure at seeing one, or anything that remotely resembles one, he makes the noise of a fire engine, "Nanu, Nanu, Nanu".

This he does over and over and over again!

So obsessed is he by them that he now thinks all trucks, lorries, big vans, dustcarts and diggers are in-fact "Nanu's". They don't even need to be red! 

Monday is bin day and I have never seen anyone as distraught as the boy today calling "Nanu, Nanu", like something out of "Mork and Mindy", after the dustmen and their lorry as they drove down the road after collecting our rubbish. I tried to explain that short of smothering a blaze in old yogurt pots and baked bean cans they would struggle to put out many fires.

The boy took no notice. Mainly for two reasons. 1, he's 16 months old and hadn't got a clue what I was on about and 2, I'm not red with a blue flashing light on my head and I don't go "Nanu, Nanu" and frankly until I do I might as well not exist at the moment.

To try and pacify his disappointment that the dustmen didn't come with hose and helmet (and lets face it we're all disappointed at that) and to channel this new craze I took the boy to Mothercare to buy a big red fire engine to play with.

When we arrived I got distracted by Clark's sale and ended up getting him two pairs of shoes in the sale, but after this minor diversion he spotted it.

Bright and shiny and red, with an extendable ladder, flashing lights, two little fire fighters and best of all a "Nanu, Nanu" sound to press over and over and over again.

He had to hold it in the car on the way home and even though we only live no more than ten minutes away he was mightily frustrated that he couldn't get it out of the box.

Toys are so bound up with wires and bits of plastic and cardboard now you need a degree in engineering just to get the box open but as soon as we got indoors I had to try and rip apart the packaging, which isn't easy to do with an over excited toddler standing over you shouting "Nanu, Nanu, Nanu" in your ear.

Eventually we freed the "Nanu" from it's cardboard prison ready to fight fires, knock down piles of bricks and rescue a sleepy and reluctant Oscar from the armchair.

We spent the rest of the morning happily playing and after lunch the boy went for a nap. After an hour and half I thought he'd woken up. It's not unlike him, an hour and half is a good nap for the boy, but all I heard over the monitor was;


Just once, perfectly clearly, as if he were wide awake. Then silence. I went in to check on him, he'd turned over and gone back to sleep with a dreamy smile on his face.

I now believe the boy is dreaming of fire engines too.

And why not? After all it runs in the family. 

I've been dreaming about firemen for years.....

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The One with the Umbrella and the Toilet

The rampant seagulls are still terrorising the car park at work. The baby gull is now born and extremely cute but this means Brian and Sharon have now recruited helpers to guard all entrances, exits and security camera posts. It's literally excess no areas. As a result I'm parking further up the road.

But yesterday the main drain backed up and all our toilets in the office started to overflow. They were out of order for most of the day so the only option was to go across to our other office, which is situated at the edge of the car park, and use theirs.

This meant crossing quite a busy road and braving Brian and co!

I am acutely aware that calling the birds Brian and Co makes them sound like 70's dance sensation Legs and Co from Tops of the Pops. To be fair they probably have the same amount of grace, charm and co-ordination. I'm sure at some point Legs and Co dressed up as birds for one of their numbers, no doubt for a track by Wings!

The only thing that seems to deter Brian and Co is waving an open umbrella in the air. Someone has taken to attaching a stone to the end of their tie and swinging it over their head Tarzan style but that does seem a trifle extreme.

So off we trotted, like girls always do when going to the loo, in gangs of three, holding our umbrellas aloft in the bright sunshine just to go and pee.

What on earth the assorted vans drivers and motorists made of this spectacle is beyond me!

Needless to say fluid consumption was down in the afternoon as frankly neither I, Ken nor Byron could be arsed to keep taking a ten minute round trip to tiddle.

Even though I was gasping I turned down several offers of a cup of tea.

It's bad enough with all the paraphernalia that ladies have to take to the loo sometimes without having to bring a brolly as well!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The One Where We Visit My Work

For weeks now my work colleagues have been saying bring the boy into the office one day for a quick visit.

Several of them haven't seen him for a while and they liked the idea of him coming in, running around, causing havoc for 20 minutes or so and then clearing off again.

Well it breaks up the day doesn't it.

So this afternoon we made a flying visit to my work. In hindsight it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do as the boy hadn't had his usual two hour nap. He'd fallen asleep whilst driving home from Jingles class this morning and Hubby  and I weren't successful in getting him from car to cot without him waking up. I reckon he'd had 15 minutes kip tops!

I thought I'd try to get him to sleep again after lunch but I still had no luck, so needing a supermarket near to my work, I bundled him into the car for an adventure!

After clearing reception and buzzing in I set him down to run towards an unsuspecting office of people trying to do some work. Or at least look like they were if any directors were watching!

We really wanted to see Ken, as she's one of the boys Godmothers, but she was in a meeting so my intended 15 minutes stop soon turned to half an hour!

One thing I've had confirmed to me today is he's not shy my boy! 

He made himself right at home. First he zoned in on a desk decorated for a chap getting married this Saturday. It was festooned with balloons and streamers!

"Ball. Ball. Ball" the boy demanded. Anything round in his mind is a ball. One of the balloons popped loudly as it was being detached from it's sellotape. He didn't even flinch!

Next thing I knew he had been presented with two balloons which he then held to his chest proudly and declared


I thought Byron was going to fall off her chair from laughing.

Next he decided to explore the copy room. Several times. Barbie tried closing the door but the boy found a way through.

I stopped to talk to someone for a second, I lost sight of him. It was ok he was just hurtling towards the accounts department brandishing my calculator like some sort of manic mini number cruncher.

He nipped behind a directors desk. He ran into the boardroom. He sat on a swivel chair and twirled around whilst holding a pencil my boss had given him. 

Despite his lack of sleep he smiled, laughed, charmed, bewitched and beguiled everyone.

He ran me ragged!

It was remarked upon, more than once, that I must be kept fit by all this chasing around and now the boy is sturdy on his feet I should expect a nice slim figure to emerge. I have to admit given those frantic 30 minutes I mused to myself why I'm not a size 8?

After we left I was exhausted and the boy still seemed no nearer a sleep, not even with the motion of the car. We stopped off at the Asda close by. I was frazzled and hungry. Bags of Cadburys Chocolate Fingers were on offer for £1.

I think there I have the answer to my question and you can guess the rest......

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The One with the Day Off

On Sunday I went shopping with Lemon Cake Lady!

It was a rare treat for us both, a day out without small people to distract, exasperate and de-focus us.

De-focus isn't a word. I've just made it up so I just looked it up and it doesn't exist but it sums up how I feel about shopping with a toddler. The boy will sit in his buggy for about an hour tops before he wants to get out and run somewhere in a variety of different directions! I find I spend most of my time describing everything to him with as many adjectives as possible. I go into colour, texture, taste and smell to keep him amused and stimulated around a store.

This doesn't aid browsing on my part. You can't browse with a toddler. You can't deliberate over purchasing a present for someone for example. You can't weigh up price verses quality verses colour verses style. You can't try anything on. You can't think!

In short you can't focus.

You have one hand on the buggy whilst dispensing raisins out at regular intervals with the other, one eye on the keys he's holding to keep him quiet making sure they don't get flung into a clearance bin never to be seem again, and the other eye on the clock because it'll soon be time for his nap, lunch, bum change or the car park is about to go over 2 hours and you'll have to re-mortgage your house to afford it!

So the prospect of a days shopping without our boys made us both, quite frankly, giddy with excitement!

When I picked Lemon Cake Lady up she was her usual controlled and organised self, sorting out her boys requirements for the day with his grandparents. When she got in my car however she was like a women possessed! She had a proper funny five minutes of screaming, giggling, delirious delight at "having a day off"!

I knew how she felt. I was already high from my fifteen minutes of fame that morning, something that was compounded later when I went into a WH Smith's to look at the paper and saw myself smiling back. I had a copy at home but somehow seeing it in a proper news agents made it all the more real.

So as you can imagine we were like a couple of school girls on the last day of term. This was the Mum's equivalent of being allowed to wear your own clothes and bring Connect 4 into school. I had vouchers I'd been saving since my birthday in April and Lemon Cake Lady had cash on her. That makes it sound like she doesn't normally carry cash. She does. She's not like the Queen or anything it's just that since we both went back to work part time, after having our boys, having money for shopping trips has been something of a thing of the past.

We reflected on this when we stopped for pizza after the shops shut. Time was when one or other of us would've called up and said "I'm bored. Shall we go shopping?" and we would've hopped on a train and just maxed the credit cards out because we could. We had money and the freedom to just go out for the day without the military operation that is arranging child care. We took it for granted.

So maybe now that's why a day off, going out with a mate shopping and having a bite to eat is so much sweeter. Both the time and having the money to do it is hard earned and all the more rewarding for it!

And what did we buy?

Presents for our boys! What else.....

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The One with the Finished Article

It's been a crazy 48 hours!

By 8 am this morning hubby had been up the shops and got two copies of The Independent on Sunday and I'd been interviewed on local BBC radio.

I've had texts, tweets, Facebook messages and e-mails all day to congratulate us on our bravery and say what a great piece it is.

The response has been overwhelming.

So this is it! Random Woman makes the national press in all her glory. Pages 14 and 15 of The Independent on Sunday.

Page 15 seems very apt somehow.

After all this would appear to be my 15 minutes of fame....


Saturday, 9 July 2011

The One with the Photo Shoot

Well I can safely say I've never done that before!

I was once asked if I wanted to be a Page 3 girl! I was 16 years old and on holiday with my parents. I was wearing a leopard print swimsuit and a straw trilby hat! It was the mid 1980's but even that doesn't excuse the fashion faux pas that made me look like a cross between John Taylor from Duran Duran and Bet Lynch!

Needless to say I declined the random guys offer. He probably wasn't even from The Sun and anyway I was going to be a serious actress thank you very much and I didn't need to take my clothes off for my art!

Today I did! 

Today I stood topless with my modesty hidden only by a combination of upright piano, fake sunflowers and a glass of wine.

We were in the theatre we perform in regularly and I've whipped my clothes off backstage for a quick change but I've never stood with it all hanging out in the glare of the lights before.

Driving there I was a bundle of excitement and nerves. I had more make up on than was good for me and my hair was straightened within an inch of it's life. I noticed I hadn't had time to paint my nails. I panicked! Then it dawned on me that if the readers of The Independent on Sunday noticed my shabby fingers nails there must be something wrong with my boobs!

I could tell that the others had butterflies too. When I pulled up most of them were outside having a crafty smoke!

There were seven of us ladies. All brave, beautiful, amazing women who love the theatre and want to raise money to help fight cancer, leukaemia and lymphoma. 

One of our number lost her husband to cancer a year ago this weekend. She stood shoulder to shoulder and, literally, breast to breast with me. I was proud of her and all of us and honoured to be beside her.

As we shed our robes, tits and bum gags tumbled out of our mouths and laughed filled the empty auditorium. 

The freelance photographer was a warm, lively lady who seemed impressed that we had found a venue with a piano and as it was a theatre, lighting was already in place. She said she usually pitches up to these jobs and finds that only a couple of people have turned up and no one knows what's going on!

We were consummate professionals. Well apart from all the jokes, wine drinking and giggling!

It felt wonderfully liberating to stand semi nude in the theatre and in three of the girls cases completely starkers! 

I don't like my body. I never have. Which is a shame because my mind turned to that 16 year old on the beach. Back then I thought I was fat but in reality I had a cracking little figure, all boobs and bum and a tiny waist. 

You don't realise what you have until it's gone.

Since having the boy I've not been able to look at myself in the mirror let alone let anyone else see my sagging breasts, stomach rolls and stretch marks.

Taking that robe off today was a big step for me. Bigger than I realised.

So this afternoon wasn't just about publicity. This was an early rehearsal for a year and a bit away when we will stand there for real, without a stitch on, and a paying audience in attendance laughing and crying and hopefully having a great evenings entertainment, all for a good cause.

I don't know who I'm playing yet but it doesn't matter, all the parts in this fantastic play are great but more importantly the cause is great and all us ladies who bared all today and the ones who couldn't make it, but will bare all next September with us, are great.

So today, despite the hang ups about my post pregnancy body, I took my top off and I'll keep taking it off if it means one day we can find a cure for these terrible diseases.

I may not be 16 anymore but it's still my body and I'm proud of it.

The One with the Interview for the National Press

My phone rang yesterday morning at work.

It wasn't a client or a customer, it was the director of the amateur theatre group I belong too.

"The theatre have been on the phone, a journalist from the national press wants to talk to someone about us doing Calendar Girls. I think they may have picked up the story from when you were interviewed on BBC local radio. You're better at that sort of thing than I am and anyway you're our publicity officer, you'll do it won't you. They'll be ringing later today."

I coughed and spluttered into my tea.

"Errr... yeah go on then."

A few minutes later a journalist called Kate from The Independent called. This was serious stuff!  I started to tell her about our production. I've been interviewed on local radio loads of times but never by "Fleet Street" (I know no one is in Fleet Street anymore but it's an iconic expression for national papers isn't it). I was very nervous and more than a bit cautious.

The whole story started a few months ago when several local amateur dramatic groups applied for the rights to put on Calendar Girls next year. The London producers want to break the world record for the amount of amateur groups to do the show in one year. As a result the rights are limited to September 2012 to September 2013 and no groups are being refused a request to perform, regardless of how many other groups may also be doing it in your area, or even at the same time.

The reason for this is to raise as much money as possible, as half the performing rights from each show go to the Calendar Girls Leukaemia and Lymphoma charity:

Some larger groups are used to exclusive rights for many of the musicals they perform and are slightly "miffed" that, with this straight play, they are not the only group to get permission and are not even the first in the area to be doing it!

Personally our group think this is a charity event not a competition. It's not about who can do it first or have exclusivity it's about raising money to get rid of this terrible disease and I for one would go and see the show a thousand times if I thought it could help to find a cure for cancers. So we are going to carry on with our performances regardless and raise as much cash as possible for not on only the Calendar Girls charity but a local hospice as well.

This seems to be news worthy, not only for local BBC radio but now the national press!

I felt the interview was going well. I looked over at Byron opposite me. She smiled encouragingly as I spelt out the name of the local village where we rehearse. 

Then Kate dropped a bombshell.

"Would you be happy for someone to come and take a picture?"

"Well.. errr..yes... what you mean Calendar Girls style?"

"Yes. We are also interviewing the original Miss February from the WI, Angela Baker, so we'd like to have a picture to mirror her one, you know, at the piano."

I remembered the one!

"Would you be happy to do that?"

"I'd be happier with a few of us to be honest, not just me. When do you need this by"

"It's for this Sunday's paper. So later today or tomorrow!"


"Ummmm... I'll see if I can rally a few of the girls together then."

"Oh and we need a venue with a piano. Can you arrange that? Let me take your number and the picture desk will contact you later"

In the end the girls and our local theatre have all come up trumps. The chap is even coming to open up for us and he's on holiday bless him. So this afternoon seven ladies, including me will be baring, nearly, all for tomorrow's Independent on Sunday!

When I got off the phone Byron, Ken and Barbie all asked how it went.

I told them about the photo shoot!

"Well at least it's not for The Sun!" they said

Oh indeed the News of the World! After all... they have my mobile number now don't they and you have to be careful when your a celebrity darling...

Ha,ha.... I'm beginning to think the biggest thing in this picture amazingly won't be my boobs!

It'll be my head!

To be continued.....

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The One with the Ice Pack Down My Pants!

My back has gone again!

Not as bad as last time and I at least have a stock of emergency drugs in the cupboard, so I am mobile of sorts but lifting the boy isn't easy and I have resorted to stuffing one of those blue ice blocks you put into freezer bags, wrapped in a tea towel, down the back of my knickers.

Alternating hot and cold seems to help, running about after an over excited boy waving a tambourine with abandon at his music group this morning, doesn't!

I am amazed at how well the boys language and speech is coming on and even if he can't always answer me he understands a lot of what I say and ask him but, "Please don't play me up today, Mummy has a bad back, is in pain and likely to keel over at any moment" seems to have escaped his comprehension.

We had a bad night with him, he woke up at 2 am screaming, wanting to go out in the car, wanting me to read him a story, wanting to play and finally wanting a full 7 oz of milk to even get him to be quiet let alone go back to sleep!

Then this morning he was like a whirling dervish at Jo Jingles up and down like a yo yo and running away from me at every turn. I tried in vain but I could feel the back twinge everytime I had to get up and chase him across the room. It was swelling up and the burning sensation started to spread in the lower back. This wasn't looking good.

Jingles is very structured and although it's not the full on Joyce Grenfell "George, don't do that" sketch from the 1960's it can be rather "prim" at times. 

The boy doesn't do "prim"!

Today my back doesn't do the boy!

So pass the ice, both for my back and my son. Anything to cool them down!

And if there's any left, some in a large G&T wouldn't go a miss either.....

Well I need something to wash the pain killers down with don't I!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The One with the Writers Cafe

There's a big arts event going on locally at the moment and last night, down at the new university building, they had a writers cafe where people could go along, read their work and share it with like minded folk. It was free to do so.....

I went!

I figured if I really do have pretensions of being a writer I'd better start getting my stuff out there, making new contacts and, to use a phrase I detest, networking... pauses to rinse mouth out after filthy modern business speak!

I was very nervous and earlier in the day nearly chickened out,

"No one will want to hear my ramblings. Anyway it'll be full of geeks and spotty youths who write science fiction" I protested to hubby.

"No it won't" he said "Don't be so judgemental and negative. Go on, go!"

The idea was you wrote your name on a piece of paper, they popped them all in a tin and pulled them out at random. If your name was called you got to read a sample of your work for five minutes.

I arrived, with mild trepidation, but in good time to get a seat at a table by myself. I wasn't alone all evening, which I was glad of, but to start with I didn't want to be the one who had to say, "Is anyone sitting here", to a complete stranger. When I'm nervous I can trip on my words and I wouldn't put it past me to say, "Is anyone shitting here" instead.

I bought a bottle of water from the snack bar and found a table at the front. Less furniture to negotiate my hips round should I be called up. Up here for thinking, down there for falling arse over tit!

It was a humid night. My palms were clammy and my mouth was dry. I took a sip of water. Better. I went to put the change from my purchase in my purse. I dug around in my bag. I'll get a tissue to wipe my hands on. I pulled out a sanitary towel by mistake. No one noticed. I quickly stuffed back in.

This wasn't going well.

I looked around me. Everyone seemed so sensible and serious. They were all "proper" writers with poetry and short stories. Not random blog posts. I checked what I'd brought with me, " The One with the Painted Nails" and The One with the Last day and the Physio".

I text the NCT girls.

"I'm at a writers cafe event to hopefully read some of my blogs. There's a lot of very earnest looking people here. I'm not sure they're ready for my post on fanny physio!"

Several of my friends text back with words of encouragement. One of the girls said "You'll be fab. Everyone loves a good fanny story!" I laughed. I felt more relaxed.  This is going to be ok. I'll just judge the tone of the evening after a few readers and see how they go down. I have another post with me if I think tales of my peeing myself on a regular basis will be too much for their delicate soles.

It started. "And the first name is... "

It was me!

I was first on!

Oh shit!

Shall I read one, two or all three? I don't know how long they last. What happens when the five minutes is up? Does a klaxon sound or does a hook appear from the side of the stage, curl round your neck and yank you away musical hall style?

Well baptism of fire, for me and them. I started with the painted nails post and then it was hello meet my minge!

They tittered, they laughed, they smiled and looked appreciative. Suddenly my short introduction about myself and how I came to write this blog, my two posts and my five minutes were up. Thankfully there was no hooter or hook. I just smiled and said thank you very much for listening.

There was applause. It was all over. I'd set the tone of the evening! Blimey! Anything goes after that.

And anything did!

That's not to say the work was crude, either in tone or style. It was a fantastic variety of pieces. Poetry, short stories, extracts from novels both published and unpublished, humorous, sad, thought provoking, rude and well.. frankly random.

Some of it I can't pretend I understood to be honest, some of it I loved and one piece, a poem on IBS,  moved me, in more ways than one! The lady next to me had written a short story I really liked and in one of the breaks, I plucked up the courage to tell her so. It ended abruptly and left me wanting to know if the person in the car ploughed into the river or turned around and went back to work. People came over to me and asked about blogging. A professional author handed out promotional book marks. People used them to write my blog address on!

I had a long chat with a chap from Yorkshire who's novel intrigued me and I could see it being made into a detective drama on TV.

The range of work astounded me and all of it fascinated me. I realised how much I love language. All language. Whether it's used correctly or not it's an amazing tool to communicate, inspire and entertain.

So this morning I feel buoyant by the experience and I'm so glad I went. There was talk of other events later in the year and perhaps even reading our work on local community radio. Maybe this networking lark isn't as poncey as I first thought.

And did we get through the night without any science fiction?

The last reader of the evening was a jolly looking man with a long grey beard and a happy smile,

"My piece is like The Only Way is Essex meets Terry Pratchett." He declared.

I smiled to myself. I knew it!

It was actually very good and had a tag at the end using the word cock and you can never underestimate the comedy value of the word cock!

If science fiction made me laugh then language is indeed a very powerful thing.....

Friday, 1 July 2011

The One with the Lunch Hour

Everyone assured me that one of the perks of going back to work would be that you get a proper lunch hour. Time all to yourself, which is not something you can always count on at home with a hungry toddler, in need of constant entertainment!
I've been back at work 5 months now but this midday oasis of calm has yet to materialise!
Twice a week I seem to spend this precious hour running around sorting out errands, buying birthdays presents or doing the weekly shop. Not once have I had to time for a quiet kip in my car or to read a book or magazine.
I guess it's an indication of how busy all our lives are. BTB I used to tear around in my lunch hour doing all kinds of jobs and making sure no birthday presents or cards were forgotten, so why, now I have the boy, should life be any different? Of course I usually find doing a Friday "big shop" or navigating the town a lot easier without the boy in tow so I can see why I do it.
Until today!
Today I had business in town. I needed stuff from Boots, M&S Dine in for £10 deal and most importantly a birthday present from the Early Learning Centre for the weekend. With travel too and from work I get 45 minutes to buy what I need too and get back on the bus, that work provide two days a week, to take us back to the outskirts of town where our office is. The bus is a perk. I love the bus. The bus keeps us all sane and in M&S sandwiches twice a week. But if you have a lot to do you have to plan your shopping and your route very carefully to optimise that three quarters of an hour.
The three shops I needed are reasonably spread out but nowhere is that far away in our town so it was do-able.
Or so I thought until I encountered the hoards of people clogging up our main high street!
Now I'm a fairly good humoured person, as you know, but I was like an angry bull, charging around the streets. It's a good job none of my stops involved a china shop! The main reason for the hold ups were dithering, doddery elderly people. Don't get me wrong, old people have just as much right to shop as I do, just not in my lunch hour! I'm not discriminating here, I feel the same way about caravans, they can travel where they like as long as it's between the hours of two and three. In the morning!
I'd visited the ELC first so for the rest of the time I had a rather large bag of bulky outdoor toys with me. To carry it across the main square I slung it over my shoulder, Dick Whittington style. In Boots this was ok (hardly surprising really if I looked like Dick Whittington) but in Marks and Spencer's I may as well had "bump into me and throw me dirty looks" written across my forehead. 

Whilst trying to search for a birthday card I was ram raided with a trolley and in the food department I was shoved, shunted and generally shifted out of the way. I know £10 for a meal with wine is good value but this isn't the last supper, there's enough to go round people, have a bit of patience. I got looks that said "How very dare you be carrying a big bag of cumbersome toys you purchased earlier when all we have on us is our pension books, an old lady purse and a coupon for £2 off a home perm kit". Three times I was barged into with not so much of a word of apology, excuse me or kiss my artichoke!
It was then I realised that people are much more polite if I have the boy with me in the buggy. For a buggy they'll get out of the way or at least cut me a little slack negotiating corners. For a harassed mum in her lunch hour without her kid there was no such luck.

So tonight, when I got in from work, I bundled, boy, buggy and hubby into the car and we went to Sainsburys for our weekend groceries. 

The boy, fuelled by blueberry biscuits, sang and laughed. People smiled and waved back. It was altogether a jollier atmosphere and a pleasant experience.

Never work with children they say but shopping with them, at least for now, may not be a bad idea....