Saturday, 21 April 2018

Tick Tock


Tick Tock 
I’ve never really worn a watch. I’ve owned a few unremarkable ones but never quite got to grips with them. 
My partner Ian is obsessed with them. He collects them and is very knowledgable about them. 
He’s even got me wearing one on loan from him,  in fact it is the first watch he bought. A very retro Tag Heuer first generation F1 watch from approx 1987 which I think his watch man at C S Bedford Jewellers in Ruislip has his eye on as he always comments on it. Says it’s the coolest watch in the shop right now! It’s not particularly girly, or pretty, certainly no bling! but it was special to him and so it’s special to me.

We were there today for several reasons. Firstly because Ian managed to wash one of his very expensive watches in his jeans pocket! As he said “ suitable for diving to 300m but not so good on a spin cycle in Watford. “ Secondly because we were interested in getting my dear departed Dads old watch serviced as Seiko had said they couldn’t get the parts for it. But of course Ian knows a man that can. 
Now, with a little research from Ian we discovered that it was a watch with a story, as many of them have. Due to its rather striking colours it is known as a  ‘Pepsi ‘ but it’s correct tittle is The ‘Colonel 
Pogue’ seiko 6139. Ironicaly my Dads nickname at when he worked at Sky Sports was ‘The Colonel’
Most watches have Motor Racing or Nautical histories but there are also watches with connection to Aviation and in  this case Space Exploration, The watch is named, so the story goes after said Colonel Pogue who bought the watch in 1973 and took it aboard the Skylab mission 4 which was the final manned mission to the United States first space station. He took it aboard as part of his personal belongings and was never formally approved for mission. The NASA approved watch was a Speedmaster, but it was never the less to become the first chronograph watch ever taken into space. 

As soon as I set eyes on this watch it is like instant time travel. Dad wore little jewellery but this watch is iconic of him and I can’t see it without immediate flashbacks. 

So, I’m discovering that watches have both historical and emotional connections but one thing is for certain, even though it’s nice to look back, time keeps marching us forward, to the future, to make new stories. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Rainy days

Funerals are never easy. They bring back memories of others we’ve lost and take us back to difficult memories.
The funeral of a child though is unimaginable sad. A life cut short in its prime.
Heartbreaking and the circumstances of this particular death harrowing.
Because Jay was 18yrs old and he was chased down by 4 lads on mopeds in an un provoked, pre planned attack whilst on his way out to a party with friends and stabbed multiple times. 

I didn’t know him that well but I taught his brothers and sister and have known the family for 12 years or so. He was just a couple of years younger than my own son.He used to come along with his mum to pick up his brother and stand awkwardly at the door while mum and I chatted. In later years, all grown up in his high school uniform he used to collect his sister.

The pain on his mums face when she followed his coffin into the rammed church was indescribable. No mother should have to bury their child, it’s the wrong order of things. 

A lot of the congregation were his friends, teenagers. A sea of orange faces, bare legs, dressed up to the nines for his send off as if they were going out clubbing one last time.
I was surrounded by rows of young half men sobbing like little boys. 
The pain was so palpable. These young kids trying to cope and come to terms with such an awful thing.

The weather may have been cold and bleak,  suiting the mood but service was beautiful and fitting. 
The coffin left to a drum n base and suddenly the lads in the back row were smiling and dancing, remembering good times.

The readings were lovely, his sister read beautifully, heartbreakingly and when she ended with “I love you like the big blue sky” everyone fell apart. She is 9yrs old.

The whole family has conducted themselves with such poise and dignity in the most truly awful circumstances.
Jason Isaacs was the 18th teenager in London to die of knife crime last year. 
What a sad statistic of our current society.

There has to be more done to educate kids about knife crime, it is out of control.

There seems to be a proportion of society that has no value for life, yet the service today showed just how very valued Jay’s life was.

Watching how his friends have come together to raise awareness over the last few weeks has been inspiring.
The need to do something, anything to keep his memory alive and change the future so other families won’t have to endure the same tradegy.
Keeping his candles lit at his shrine and coming together at the scene of his death,  The Facebook support page Justice for Jay - Jason Isaacs, The organised fundraisers, The 16 bar MC challenge to raise awareness of knife crime to get the message out there that it is not cool and needs to end brings hope, and after an event like this hope is all you have.


Friday, 15 December 2017

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas

I can't believe how fast this year has flown!

This time last year, I had just got together with Ian and I was a bit of a mess waiting for my year 6 cancer check results.
Poor Ian had a baptism of baby dragon fire as my emotions were all over the place, It's always a horrible time and I am on tenterhooks waiting up to 4-6 weeks for results.

I felt that all I'd been through, surgery after surgery, reconstruction, a divorce, starting again just me and the kids in a new home and all the challenges that came with that, finances and loneliness, life was finally turning a corner.  The kids were happy and settled and doing well at Uni and work, I'd found my passion again with my dancing, I was just about keeping my head above water and I'd met the love of my life!
It would just be the law of sod that the rug would get pulled out from under me now!!! Like in the Alanis Morrisette song "Ironic"

But it hasn't been.

1 year on and I have just opened the envelope on year 7s results (all clear) and it's been easier.
For the first time.
Maybe because I have been so busy, maybe because I am finally coming to terms with all that's happened to me and putting it behind me.

My physical recovery has been fine. Months off work after each of my numerous surgeries but the body heals and scars fade. The ones you can see anyway!
My mental recovery has taken a lot longer.....
I'll avoid the 'J' word but it has taken me years to really come to terms with it all. I have done a lot of soul searching, reflecting and gained a deeper personal understanding of myself, how I work, what I need.
Well as much as I can. Cancer is not something you ever "get over" it is always there in the back of your mind casting a shadow, that fear that I am a ticking time bomb but every year it lessens.
For a long time, the fear was crippling. Literally crippling.
I walked around like a deer in the headlights for years coping on the outside but crumbling underneath.
I was never offered any counselling and I really could have used it. My family and friends were my bicycle repair kit.
I think I suffered from undiagnosed depression which I have lifted myself out of but I am left with anxiety which still creeps up on me every now and again and it can be debilitating but I have a deeper understanding of my triggers now.

I'm sorry I haven't had much time for blogging this year, I've really missed my writing. It still helps me to make sense of things.

It has been another busy year of change, Beth moving out, me studying, a new job, building a new life with Ian and I am in a very happy and settled place now. My result letter was the icing on my Christmas cake!
I am looking forward to our second Christmas together,  presents all bought and wrapped, house decorated, plans made, happy days ahead to be shared and now I can relax and enjoy it.

I am acutely aware though that while I am having a good year I have friends who are having a horrible time and are in that dark place that I once inhabited. They are trying to cope with all the shit life can throw at you and it just keeps coming.
One who is dreading this Christmas and tired of fighting, painting that smile on every day while they are in turmoil inside.
It's hard to see the light at times like this and dig yourself out and I feel for her.
The light is there though and I know that she will find it in time and work through it all to happier times with the help of her friends and beautiful family. She just can't see it yet.

So to all my friends having a hard time, it's ok not to be ok and I'm sending you love and light.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

I'm still here!


It's been over 5 months since I last blogged but I am still here even if you can't see me. 
I've just been in temporary hiding in my whirlwind of a world. 
Because my world got turned upside down a bit since November and a silly trip to IKEA with Ian. 
Who has an unintentional first date in IKEA for goodness sake?
Well would I ever do anything the conventional way?

Ian and I have been friends (F1) on Facebook for few years and had met a couple of times when he helped me out with electrical stuff but I didn't see this one coming....I don't think either of us did. 

It was a little stressful at the start due to circumstances that were a little out of our control, a few bumps in the road but we've fallen into something that feels very comfortable in just 15 weeks.
I can't believe it is only 15 weeks!!

I am busier than I've ever been trying to juggle my old life, my family and a new relationship but I also think I am the happiest I have ever been. 
He is the reason I smile at my phone like an idiot and giggle out loud.
He's my blue crayon and I've waited a very long time for him.

So here's briefly what I've been up to:
Christmas and New Year was lovely but passed in a blur. 
I had my first ever real Valentines date at the grand age of 47yrs old. 
Beth got her dream West End job and we helped her move out to East London into her first home away from my nest. 
I've been studying since Xmas and after 30 years and 1 failed attempt, I managed to pass my Level 2 Maths exam.

Busy times ahead:
I'm still dancing and am looking forward to a Salsa weekend away in Majorca in May and a Kizomba workshop coming up soon. 
Ian and I have a holiday booked for the Summer and lots of other fun plans booked in between.

And challenges:
Studying for my HLTA
At some point I am going to have to drive to his flat in Watford (eeeeek)
Trying to write my blog regularly again.
And I need to try harder to have some proper down time and look after myself better as I know I'm in danger of burnout if I don't.

Sorry #Crazygang I have missed so many #Wordonthestreet posts, weekends have been busy and I will try my best to keep up with the new F1 season and admin. 

Who knows what the future has in store.....I'm just going to enjoy each step as it happens.

So if you don't see me around as much as you did, I'm still here, smiling at my phone like a love struck teenager! 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Green fingers


It is a truth universally acknowledged ...... to quote Jane Austin, that my generally well manicured fingers are anything but green!
My friends will attest that my plant killing powers are legendary. 
Garden or house makes no difference.

I have always had a garden until 3 years ago when I moved into my town house and for the most part enjoyed it. 
I am creative, I can plan out, visualise, colour scheme and shape, I have a good knowledge of plants, and I love a good garden centre but keeping them alive? Not so much. 
I used to do all the planning and planting in our herbaceous borders but after my knee operation left me unable to kneel I found it difficult and I retired to my decking where I took a more managerial role, delegating to my Mum and then Mother in Law.

My problem is remembering to tend them after so lovingly planting them. I'm OCD but ADD which means my attention to detail is second to none but my attention span is rubbish.

It is something my sister is good at and I am not. She is most attentive to her herb and tomato container garden in a way that brings shame on me. 
Nurturing children and giving them strong roots is clearly my forte, same principles I suppose, love, attention, good food and water but I lack the ability to transfer those principles to plants. 
I start off with the best of intentions but I am a shocker for forgetting to water them then panicking and over watering them.
It is feast or famine in my house, survival of the hardiest! 

For example, Mum bought Jo and I a succulent each for Easter which we both put in our respective bathrooms. Mine lasted a few weeks until it turned to pulp. 
My sister was laughing at me and when I was at hers the following weekend I admired her still as good as the day she got it plant perched nicely by her sink.  The next day she rang me and announced that me just being in the same room as it had given hers the kiss of death just 24 hrs that is quite a skill.

Somewhere up there God is shaking his head and thanking himself that I don't have a garden anymore to continue to bi annually sacrifice foliage and flower.
Saying that I really do miss the pleasure of sitting in a garden, reading a book, sipping a cocktail, BBQs and nighttime stargazing. 
*Friends with gardens note, please invite me to come round and share yours more, I promise not to touch anything.

So, I am the owner of a one pot container garden by my front door. 
My last offering, a sunflower has bitten the dust, not I might add by my own hand this time but by a family of snails that moved in and found it most delectable.

I said to my sister this morning that I was thinking about getting a plastic plant to put in it but she told me "that's just defeatist!" and so off I trundled to Homebase and then round to Mums to plant it up.
It looks lovely don't you think? 
How long it will stay looking lovely is anyone's guess.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Love letters

The art of letter writing in this day and age of computers, smart phones and i everything seems to be long out of fashion.
I've always loved to write. As a child I wrote reems of imaginative stories and letters. I wrote back and forth to my cousin Alison in Durham, I wrote to a friend in India and I had pen pals in France and Germany. But it was in young adulthood that I began to exchange letters with my Grandmother.

As a teenager I used to hop on the bus to Gypsy Corner and visit Grandma and Alec. I loved that house, I have the fondest memories of staying over in the school holidays with my sister. 
Grandma cooking, always cooking (it's no wonder Jo and I are such foodies, she was a superb cook) while Alec watched cricket in the front room. 
I vividly remember the garden and the magnificent greenhouse where I was permitted to pluck juicy ripe tomatoes which were then ritually cut into quarters, sprinkled liberally with salt and I would sit out on the lawn in the summer sunshine and enjoy. 
I had a very happy childhood they were halcyon days.

They were avid gardeners and in their quest for green fingered perfection ( clearly not a gene I inherited as I kill every plant I own) they found a beautiful bungalow in Dorset with a huge surrounding plot of land and re located in the late  80s which is when our correspondence really got started.
We always wrote the customary thank you letters at Christmas and birthdays but they progressed into newsy letters about school, first jobs, aspirations,  first loves, relationship advice, She often called me a ninny! Holiday plans when I went to visit them and do the touristy Thomas Hardy stuff, berations when I forgot to call. 
As I married and had children there was advice and recipes. She was always so proud of us all and loved to hear about her Great Grandchildren. As she got older it became a lifeline to the outside world as visits from us were not that frequent as far away.

I have kept lots of them, I wish I'd kept them all. I didn't realise how much they would become to mean to me. 
A record of the past, of the young girl I was and the woman I've become, shaped by the love of my family. 

A few years ago, Grandma had a fall and ended up in hospital. Alec, feeling alone and vulnerable and knowing time was quickly running out wrote a love letter to her. A poem. It is very touching.
He never gave it to her, we found it on his computer after he passed away. She is now 103yrs 7 months and in the words of my friend Minal "a legend" and is still with us but her time is also running out. 
I am so glad I have them, a time capsule in a shoe box.

No one writes love letters any more....Burton and Taylor, Churchill and Clemintine,......and now I can add Alec and Millicent to that list. The world needs more love letters I think.

Millie has been blessed with a long life, happily without major illness & I feel fortunate to have known her and shared so many years with her. But now I know that if the day comes when I should  lose her, my heart would be so full of memories, not just of what she did or tried to do for me, but of her companionship and love, that I should not be able to speak my thoughts at that final time so I put some pen to paper while I could.

My Millie

The many years I shared with you
Are ones I'll always treasure,
For they were the happiest, 
And gave the most pleasure

But time will never be the same
Without you here beside me,
Without your ever-loving hand
To point the way and guide me

The days to come will be without
Your sun to light my days,
Without the care you always showed
In - oh! so many ways

In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still;
For you still hold that special place 
That no one else can fill

We always knew the day would come
When we must be apart.
When one must go & one must stay
With just a heavy heart

So now we all must let you go
And seek somewhere to find,
Some way - but what- to fill the gap
Your going leaves behind

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Fly baby girl


From even before I held her in my arms over 23yrs ago she owned my heart. 
My first born. My girl.
Beth was an enfant terrible to be fair.....she was a screaming, demanding, feisty ball of determination from the get go. Fierce as hell and smart. A head full of curls and a temper too. Some kids need to be dragged along and some know where they are going and she was definitely in the 2nd camp.

Tomorrow she starts a new adventure. 
Her boarding pass is downloaded and her suitcase is packed. She is off to Upstate New York to work at Camp Long Lake for the summer. 4 long months away from home.

I feel as nervous as I did when she left for her first Brownie Camp or PGL but I am also so excited for her. She has my love of travel and adventure and I know she is going to have the most AMAZING time and will learn so much and make friends for life. 
It feels like the beginning of something new and wonderful for her.

Beth and I are very close, closer than a lot of mothers and daughters. 
We've been through a lot as a family and circumstances have meant the last few years we have shared a room together. 
We laugh all the time, but I also push and nag and support her in everything that she does to make her the very best that she can be.  
She has little common sense at times but she is hardworking like you wouldn't believe and loyal and kind and true. 
Since the age of 7yrs she has known what she wanted to do career wise and last year she graduated from Wimbledon with a BA Hons in Costume Interpretation. This next step is a continuation of her dream and I hope it brings nothing but good things for her future.

I am as proud as proud can be of my little girl ( I can still call her my little girl, she is only 4ft11" ) and I am going to miss her terribly but I hope she throws herself in wholeheartedly, feet first and gets involved. Work hard, play hard, that's my mantra. 
It is going to be a life changing adventure that she will remember forever.
When her Uni friend first mentioned it to her she had just split up with her boyfriend and I said just do it! You will never ever have this opportunity again. Life will take over and you will get tied down so just do it! 
It wont disappoint. 
I so admire her bravery and her belief in herself. Little girl, the world is yours for the taking.

Things I will not miss:
Her messiness
Her weird food habits (Mrs Cropley) 
Her snoring

Things I will miss:
Her laugh
Her daft Bethisms
Her hilarious tv commentary

I will have free reign of my double bed, I'm looking forward to early nights and reading in bed again and free reign of her wardrobe. I borrow her clothes all the time so this won't be news to her anyway.
But still......September seems such a long time away.

I selfishly thank God for technology, FaceTime, messenger and Skype will be a lifeline.
I hope that the next few months fly for me and that she is home again soon. 
For her I pray she keeps safe and that she is happy. 
That's about all any mother wants for their child isn't it?