Restoration and Consolation

Everyone has been so kind. And I have been allowed to talk and whinge and cry and get cranky and I feel ok – so thank you to everyone who said something or provided cake or delivered flowers or took a kid away for a day. I wonder now whether I have been a little bit harsh about people – a bit cynical, a bit quick to decide that they would be unkind about me having another baby, and so

SORRY WORLD! You aren’t all awful people! Lots of you are ACE!

So now I feel uniquely qualified to tell you what kind of things work when someone is having an Awkward/Traumatic/Sad Situation like I did.


I got a lot of cake – homemade brownies, Hummingbird cupcakes, a whacking great big box full of Ottolenghi shizzle – financiers, friands,  passionfruit meringues, prune and chocolate tart, carrot cake, a mousse thing – it was like God himself sent down tiny heavenly edible buttery baked angels. Honestly, while it probably cost about £500 and I’m now 2kg fatter, it was worth it.


Someone gave us two nights’ worth of lasagne. It meant I could ignore the nagging, unrelenting, boring question of what we were going to eat, and instead, I could turn the oven on, lie on the couch under a ripped whiffy blanket and watch Ghost with the children.

Patrick Swayze

He kind of needs a special separate entry here, because when he dance-walks around NY looking for his killer, trying to protect Demi Moore and to tell her he loves her through the medium of longterm-couple-wordplay (Ditto! DITTO!), and, of course, whenever he does ANYTHING in Dirty Dancing, my soul is soothed, loins afire, my heart beating wildly from the Patrick-lovin’. Swayze as tight-pants-distraction is mind-glowingly effective therapy. David Bowie in his codpiece in Labyrinth would work well here too.

Other Gifts, Tokens, Etc

I don’t want to sound like a mercenary wanker here, but I was very happy to receive posh hand cream and a book. Gift-wise, the last two weeks have been better than my birthday and Christmas combined. LOOK HOW FAR I HAVE TO GO TO GET TRINKETS!


Obviously. This is the big one. In a sweeping, loose categorisation, I will include the kind and anonymous commenters who said they were sad and sorry, to the neighbours who gave me a street-hug, the eye-contact steady and fast as they let me tell them that I was ok, to the friends who messaged me one way or another in acknowledgement. To the friends who let me explain what a molar pregnancy was while they visibly paled and patiently shifted their overloaded shopping baskets from arm to arm in the confectionary aisle of Waitrose, to those who ate (more) cake with me and let me talk. Those who took a kid or two. The kindness of so many people was very healing, and the most lovely thing in all this was that people weren’t pretending something horrible hadn’t happened, and I was very grateful for that.

Getting Back To Normal With Excellent Women


Last night we had dinner at the Dean Street Townhouse with most of the women who are in our bookclub. In that group, one had just flown in from Australia, one from Milan, one from New Mexico. One was just back from directing The Pet Shop Boys, one was about to launch an ethics programme for the NHS, one was about to screen her documentary about Sydney gay hate crimes in the 80’s, one was here for a commercial shoot, one was leaving early to feed her new baby and to prepare for her psychotherapy patients in the morning, another is jugging two jobs and is my cake-sister. To be in the company of brilliant, creative women who know each other well, who have witnessed all those things that matter, even if they are small and stupid and mean not much in the end – to have people to bear witness to it and to care – well, that is the most restorative and consoling thing of all. I am so grateful to my hot-flushed HRT-wielding, loud, cackling, brainy, kind friends.

I wrote a different kind of thing on a similar topic on Ben Starling’s blog last week. You can look it up if you have any appetite for musings on the way women share stuff.

Leather Goods & Outfit Triumphs

I also bought a new bag, which cheered me up a lot. It perfectly matches that Yves Klein Blue polyester second-hand sweaty dress I am wearing in the photo, with big seventies fluted sleeves and the distinct whiff of the overexcited overheated armpits of a lady who doesn’t get out much. That whole outfit was a masterclass of stealth thriftiness – £4 earrings from the V&A sale, an old H&M necklace which looked a little Lara Bohinc-esque but totally was not, and a leopard-print tuxedo jacket which was £9 in the Zara sale years ago.

So that’s it really – my recommendations for dealing with people who are a bit shaky and sad. Buy them sugary confections, be kind, take them out for coffee, show them men on film sporting clinging trou, and love them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I Think We Have Been Here Before

So it’s Saturday at 1pm and I am in bed. I am staying here all weekend, in fact, because I have been told to. It’s been a shitty week, and while part of me wishes I was one of those people who were elegantly discrete, the kind of person who holds things back and won’t engage with broadcasting everything, a person who deals with things privately, well – I’m just not one of them. And so here we are again.

How Birthday Weeks Start OK

It was my birthday on Monday and I turned 39. The day before we booked a babysitter and drove to Bicester to have brunch together and go shopping without childish interruption. I got a pair of Church’s oxblood ankle boots because they made so much sense – after all, pregnant women in winter are best in cheap maternity jeans and a massive jumper with shoes and coats and bags doing the talking. And low heels means you won’t fall over and tear your softened ligaments. Here they are, and here is me, driving home and probably still complaining a bit about how I could still feel the breakfast at Le Pain Quotient creeping up my oesophagus thanks to those pesky pregnancy hormones:

On my actual birthday I got a bit sulky because no one in my family said the words ‘Happy Birthday’ and no one gave me a card or presents. I got up, had a shower, made everyone pancakes, waited, gave people the Meaningful Eye but…nothing.  I stood at the head of  the table, clapped my hands like a teacher, told them all off for forgetting and had a little weep in the bathroom. I really was only after a little effort – badly wrapped chewing gum would have been fine – just a weak little ‘Happy Birthday’ hug would have done, but no. I attempted to shame them by asking what they usually get from me on their birthday and they said:

Ah, well, we get presents and cards on the bed in the morning and then we get our choice of breakfast and a party  with friends later and you make us a cake and we have balloons and we get to choose dinner…

Yes, I said. All that is what I do for you because I want to show you that I love you and I want you to feel special on your birthday. And I gave them the Meaningful Eye again and let the matter rest. But not really, because it worries me how these boys are going to grow up into kind and thoughtful adults who cherish other people and who get a sense of the joy of giving. Like, HOW? Not this way, Jose.

So bruised heart but in good boots, we took off to The Providores for turkish eggs and tamarillo smoothie, and S and I had a quick look at the Mulberry sample sale, then the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate and later Mark and I saw the Bridget Jones movie where we held hands and thought of babies (him) and labour (me). It turned out pretty nice except for my fears for the children’s future partners and the kindness (or not) of their souls.

But Then This Bit

On Tuesday we went off to St Mary’s for the first scan of the baby, which should have happened on my birthday but I was too busy at the Tate with Georgia and so I rearranged. We got into the room and the lovely sonographer smiled and I pulled down my jeans to the bikini line because I am a seasoned pro at this. I saw a baby on the screen and I told her I was glad to see there was only one and she said that she really had to concentrate, and that it might all take a bit of time, and we could talk to her later. We shut up, watched the screen, waited, and she turned to us and said the baby was sick. The neck was too thick, the brain looked abnormal, the placenta looked very wrong, the heart was damaged, the lungs were filled with fluid, the sac had too little fluid, the whole body was swollen. She said it looked like a chromosomal problem. She said that we could talk about options later, but that if I chose to carry on with the pregnancy, there would be health implications for me. Then they put us into the next room (for non-bullshit’s sake let’s just call it the Crying Room) with low couches and boxes of tissues and it was kind of obvious where all this was going. I didn’t cry, because I really didn’t want to.

The next day we had another scan at Queen Charlotte’s and it was confirmed that this was a partial molar pregnancy, which means that two sperm fertilised one egg, and the collision of too many chromosomes had made a sick and dying baby. The consultant said termination was the right thing to do, because the baby wouldn’t live for many more weeks anyway in utero. I still didn’t cry because I still didn’t want to, but then they sent us into another one of the Crying Rooms with bloody boxes of tissues and then I started properly. And didn’t stop for a few days.

So yesterday I had a termination at 14 and a half weeks. The surgery carried a little more risk that usual and so I consented to a blood transfusion and hysterectomy if the bleeding didn’t stop. Everyone was very kind, especially when I cried being wheeled into surgery and after I woke up. And then later. It was quick, and painless, and now I have to get my hormone levels down and not get residual cancer. And then of course I have to think about not having another baby, because even though six is mental, I want another baby. I know I was a bit unsure about this one, and I could only really see the reasons why it was all too absurd, but bigger than that is the fact that we have capacity for another, and we have already chosen to have a big family, and we aren’t quite yet done. And perhaps I need to stop apologising for that.


At the end of my first week of being a 39 year old, I am no longer pregnant, I am bleeding, I am empty, I am sad, but I am ok. We all are.



Posted in Uncategorized | 45 Comments

Another Bad Idea

So, you know that thing when you have five kids, and a dog, and you think vaguely that it would be quite nice to have another baby, and so you are a bit casual about contraception (i.e. coil removal) but you just don’t get pregnant and then you think it is because your eggs are old, and you are old, and so is your husband, all of us all Too Old, then you get quite used to the idea that the former fecund and youthful ripe-like-a-bursting-pomegranate juicy you is actually just a dried up floppy bag of stretch marks and ruined boobs, and then you find out you are pregnant? You know that feeling?

Just me, then.

Apparently, there will be a sixth kid born to this elderly and overrun family on April Fool’s Day. Surprise! It turns out that human biology still works like it is supposed to, even if it is a little sluggish and tricksy. And I am a bit worried, and a bit embarrassed. It’s all a bit noticeable now; cocktail consumption shrunk to nil, jeans won’t fit, gut protrudes, and everything smells so, so bad. The worst things are:


burnt toast

clean laundry






And food is no longer my friend. I get hungry all the time, and desperate, eating-in-the-middle-of-the-street desperate, shopping bags cast asunder, baguette ripped open, butter  opened and spread all over it by my fingers, ham slapped in the middle, sinking into the bread like a starving dog. Then immediately I feel like my insides will burst from the pressure. My stomach is repulsed by the food-intrusion and the metallic taste takes over and I make ugly faces from the biliousness of it all. Burping. Eyes closing at 7pm. Cranky and weeping. No vomiting though, just a feeling of perpetual hungoverness. And shame; because

  1. I have enough children already.
  2. The planet! The PLANET! I’m taking too many resources and using too much water and emitting too much gas!
  3. The other children will have less of us to go around and they will feel neglected and will have to spend many years in therapy.
  4. Mark. Poor man. He should be retiring on a boat somewhere or something.
  5. My career. My poor, poor career. The one that hasn’t started yet.
  6. Where will we all fit? Can six children sleep in triple bunks in one room? How traumatising for them. We will have to move back to New Zealand so they can have more room to grow and run. So what if we will be in the car all the time.
  7. People think we have so many of them for cultish religious reasons, and that’s embarrassing.

The jokes shame me too. The one about not having a TV, and the one about Mark not knowing how it happens yet. The football team thing. The jokes about vasectomies. The way that people tell us that if it is a girl, it will be worth it – meaning, probably, that if it is another boy we should bury it in the back garden. The concerned, kind faces from people who are worried for my mental health. The terrible domestic workload that another baby will present. The dog – how the dog should probably go, because we will all crack under the pressure that taking the dog out for a daily stroll will take on us. And the little hints that, well, it is early days, and the pregnancy mightn’t be viable, anyway.

So, it’s pretty much agreed FROM THE WORLD THUS FAR that this is bad news, and an all-round Bad Idea.

List Of My Other Bad Ideas

  1. My mullet haircut at age nine, though I think I can put some responsibility onto the walk-in, no-appointment necessary cheap hairdressers in Whangarei that I was taken to for the fateful cut. Puberty kicked in almost immediately, the short bits became massive curly side-wings, like Princess Diana’s hair when it was at its most bouffant, though with long silken strands hanging down my back. Almost impossible to grow out. Such a bad idea, that one.
  2. My law degree. Should have volunteered at a radio station. Learnt how to tell stories and broadcast them to people. Law was only good for making me feel a bit out of my depth. And for sending me into debt.
  3. Forgetting to get a proper job. Thinking that one would come to me because I was a bit awesome. This is a terrible idea. I should have chased one when I was young and unencumbered. Also should have been less arrogant.
  4. Trying my hand at product development. Money = firepit.
  5. Accepting that fishtank from Fiona.  The remaining brown tiny boring fish still hasn’t died. It’s like a wet cockroach who weathers inconsistent feeding, bangs to the tank, constant Pokemon on the telly. He should have been floating belly-up years ago.
  6. Eyebrow plucking. They are wonky and weedy and sad-looking. I am destined to colour them in for the rest of my life.
  7. Dressing in secretary suits when I was 14. Mum and dad showed us home videos from the 1990’s when I had luxurious afghan-hound lampshade-shaped hair and massive glasses and inexplicably, I was wearing a turquoise linen skirt suit. I also remember a banana-yellow one, a brown one, and several suits in shades of green. I am sure everyone else was wearing flannel shirts and jeans in the manner of Kurt Cobain. I have no idea where the secretary dressing-up idea came from. Precocious eejit.

You see? Full of bad ideas. And the mean neighbour had a shouty fight with me about my appalling children and my terrible parenting and so we called the police. She was very cross because, over the summer holidays, the kids were variously:

  1. playing with a ball outside out flat
  2. playing on the stairs outside our flat, opening up one of those fake fossil things where you dig and smash it to get it open
  3. playing a game where an old nike shoe was tied to a string, and they lowered it up and down over the stairs outside our flat like they were fishing
  4. playing the our communal garden and running around.

These things, she said, have driven her over the edge and it is my fault because I am extremely bad at controlling them. And during this shouty, dramatic, upsetting street-fight,  I’m was thinking OH MAN JUST WAIT TIL YOU SEE THAT I’M GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER UNCONTROLLABLE KID – PROBABLY A BOY. She’s totally going to go postal and throw rocks or something.


Anyway, in the meantime, this uncontrollable kid turned three:


And my hair went right:


It’s the little things, eh.





Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Tooth: A Tale of Joy and Sadness

Today, one kid went to secondary school, three kids went to primary school, one husband went to work, two parents are in the jungle of Borneo watching orangutang and fireflies, the dog is back on the couch after his ‘special time’ with Rich The Amazing Dog Sitter, and the baby has been eating honey straight from the squeezable jar. All back to normal then, and not a moment too soon.

We spent a few weeks in Northern Cyprus with my mum and dad in a villa surrounded by mountains and starving cats who broke in and stole our food and feral dogs that ate my father’s shoes. Cyprus was hot in a way that felt scary, the heat a skulking predator just waiting to burn you up and turn you limp and lifeless and useless for anything but lying down and whinging a bit. It burned our skin badly, pretty much on day one, mostly because I forgot how the sun is supposed to function. The kids got shoulder blisters and new freckles and yellowy tans with intermittent heat rashes. I got some sort of nipple-sized yellow blister from an unidentified insect bite right in the middle of my reddish wizened chest and big teenage spots from the sunscreen. Ned got a smashed head from falling onto a rock, while Otis bashed his wonky tooth (again) on a porcelain plate and Noah broke his massive front adult tooth in half while climbing up into a waterslide on a two-storied gulet. Snapped off so close to the pulp, in fact, that it makes you feel a bit nauseous just to look at it.

Snapping Your Adult Tooth In Half – The Easy Way

We were on a boat trip around the bays of Kyrenia and we had all our teeth intact – always a good starting point:

The captain had stopped at a bay for a swim and cranked up the waterslide for the kids. It  started at the top story of the boat and ended up at the bottom, spewing kids out into the sea with a mighty watery propulsion. The kids lined up and took turns whooshing down the slide into the Med, swimming back around to the ladder, climbing up to the top story of the boat and doing it all over again. Later, when everyone was done, the captain turned off the water, closed the slide with a plastic lid and the kids swam and jumped off the boat. Another boat pulled up and started a weird, raving foam party which sent everyone arse over tit.

A while later we hear screaming and peer out into the water to see three of my kids paddling to the ladder, ranting about Noah and his teeth. Noah was swimming along desperately behind, with blood all over his face and a big horrified rictus grin, his tooth snapped in half like some sort of bad joke.

Once they stopped screaming, they told us that they had all been climbing up inside the waterslide and sliding down it on some sort of idiot boyish renegade mission until some water got flushed through the slide which pushed Noah onto his face with enough force to break his tooth and smash his mouth up. Once the bleeding stopped the captain upped anchor and drove us around to another bay while Noah sat there with his head in his hands, refusing even overpriced ice cream, such was his tooth-related despair and general discomfort. It was really horrible and typically embarrassing.

Then The Miracle Happened

At the next bay, Mark went snorkelling and dived beneath the boat and found the half tooth at the bottom of the sea. I’ll let that sink in:


Like some sort of unfeasible tooth reunion miracle. It was a mystery, until we figured out that the tooth was probably caught up in the slide and was spat out into the next bay where Mark found it. It seemed to be a perfect fit when placed next to the wounded remaining tooth shard. So it was very precious, because we thought it might be able to be reattached and it was, in any case, a Miracle Sea Tooth and needed to be put into a safe place. So mum says

“Lets put it in my pill box – it’ll be safe there!”

And so we did.

Then the Tragedy Happened

The following morning, my mother opened up her pill box and there was nothing inside. She couldn’t remember if she had eaten the four pills and the tooth shard, or whether Otis might have eaten the four pills and the tooth shard, or even if the starving cats had used their cat-hands to prise open the box and eat the pills and the tooth shard, but WHATEVER, the tooth shard (and the pills) were GONE. The Miracle Tooth Shard was miraculously given, and then taketh awayth again. As were the pills, though no one – not the cats, Mum or Otis, seemed to suffer any side-effects.

And now Noah has some off-colour filling which will fall out repeatedly, so I am told, until he is a man, and then he will need root canal situations.

Here is North Cyprus and Ruins and Things

The villa pool overlooked by Five Finger Mountain:


Bellapais Abbey:



Dirty faces:


Famagusta old town with mum and dad lookin’ fine (though hot):




The ruins at Salamis:


Kyrenia market:


Alagadi beach rockpool situation:


Icons at St Barnabas Church:


Beachside churchy-cave:


A small boy in bloomers:


Til next year, then.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

We Took The Wine

There have been no repeat threadworm infestation and so I am JOYOUS. Joyous that you can get a pill from your Boots (the family-sized box comes in pills of four, so we have to buy double what normal people buy) which is the most magical bottom bomb and the worms get tortured by it (I like to think they do, anyway, like some sort of painful Agent Orange for Parasites  where they die a really painful death, the memories of which get stored in their DNA and so the next time their relatives come near our house they start involuntarily trembling with inexplicable tiny wormy fear) and then they are DEAD and hopefully no one in your massive family have accidentally stored tiny worm eggs up into their fingernails, only to nibble on later and ingest and the whole thing starts again with a new infection, the kind of which WE DON’T HAVE. So come, enjoy my cooking, sip from our fingered cups of tea and watch as I give you a lovely slice of banana cake made by my very own hand because there are no threadworms here currently AT ALL. I am sure of it. Probably. Ahem.

So that’s a bit of good news. As for the bad news, it goes like this:

We go away soon in a few weeks’ time and it turns out that one kid’s passport will run out two months and 18 days after we get back, which apparently means that we can’t travel. So we have to get an urgent passport, but you can’t get one in a day for kids, so we have a week fast-track passport option, but you cannot get an appointment to get that started in London, only in Belfast and Glasgow or Durham or Peterborough. And there are no humans available to talk to about this, only an infuriating automated lady’s voice telling you things like ‘go on our website’ and ‘we can’t tell you what foreign entry requirements are’, which is all a bit useless and samey and not really addressing the questions that you have, like ARE YOU SERIOUS? This is a money-making racket, surely? And WHY CAN’T YOU HELP ME IN LONDON?

So tomorrow I will get the train to Peterborough at 7:30am and hope to find the passport office very quickly and then I have a half hour appointment to get the passport renewed, and a week to get it back, and if it arrives on Monday, a week after tomorrow, then that will be the day before we leave. And this is all dependant on whether the passport office person accepts the counter signatory witness-person’s signature because it is a tiny bit out of the border, and that is strictly Not Allowed. So I actually cannot cope with the boring passport drama. Then, later, after the emergency appointment was all booked and sweated over and sworn about and paid for, doubly, because I have a London appointment on Tuesday (TOO LATE) as well, only then did I discover that Cyprus doesn’t even care about the expiry thing. DOESN’T EVEN CARE.

So this is just a giant sucky-ball of despair and wasted money and unhelpful adrenaline. And now we have discovered that we have a mean neighbour who listens out for the children and seeks them out and hisses at them to keep quiet like she is Queen Of The Square and actually, she is not, she’s just a young angry lady who needs to practice kindness. It started on a sunny lunchtime a few Saturdays ago, when they were playing a lovely game of ‘Fishing With Those Old Nikes Tied To A String From The Top Of The Stairs’ which of course made them laugh and get a bit shouty in the most kiddish jovial way, and she came down from a flat somewhere above us and asked Mark to tell the kids to keep quiet, quite politely, because then it was all neighbourly niceties. But Mark was busy watching the rugby with all of his heart and soul and so he didn’t really engage with their fishing game. Fifteen minutes later she came back and have a proper go at him for not telling them to be quiet and he was like:


And so I was coming out of the shower and heard the tail end. She had walked away at that point after this first little altercation and she has since been my Faceless Mystery Woman of Spitefulness and Unneighbourly Gestures. And then a few weeks ago I see a lady giving me funny looks at Waitrose as we were lined up at the counter and I assumed she was someone who knew me from something local to do with the kids. She was returning catering glasses to the shop and she was with her handsome fella who was also looking at me a bit funny and when I turned away Mark was like:

And it all made sense. It turns out she knew who I was because I am the mother of the kids she hates! I am the maker of them! The one who started it all! So by extension, she clearly cannot abide me or my womb-consequences in equal measures. She now hisses mean stuff at the kids whenever she sees them and I think she is GAGGING for a street fight with me. And that night, after the party she had hosted in the garden to celebrate her engagement (the reason for the Waitrose glasses return) she left a pile of unopened wine and beer in a big crate for people in our square to take with a sign that said “Help Yourself”. And so we did. We took it all by the light of the moon when we walked the dog late at night. And we feel just a tiny bit vindicated when she walks by the kids with her angry little monologue BE QUIET…I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU BEFORE…. because we know that she unwittingly became our most neighbourly neighbour of them all when she filled our extra fridge with nice summery beverages.

Photo Bit:

Here is a photo by Richard Bradbury which is going to go into a book for the Queen, all about kids who live in London. How could anyone not love those faces and knees and associated noises?


Grandad and Barnaby and Noah at Crockford Bridge Farm. We picked blackberries but they had worms. I have had enough of worms.


The joy of snapchat filters and the children looking on, wondering why their mother keeps taking photos of herself:


Grandad and Noah and hot chocolate love:


The view from the Sky Garden:


Making plague rats under the stairs at Ham House:


Lovely Nana and Grandad at Ham House, posing with plague rats:


Dens and phones:


The best is saved for last – face swapping with dad and mum:






Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day Five

It is day five of the summer holidays and here is the tally thus far:

  1. I have cried once in holiday anticipatory fear (though if I am honest, the tears were aided by a little too much summertime prosecco)
  2. I lost my temper in the most amazing and novel way ever, which involved me throwing a peach at a boyish leg repeatedly until the peach softened and disintegrated all over the new couch. It was weird and mean and I apologised afterwards, and none of us can quite bring ourselves to touch the remaining peaches because of the traumatic memory of me going completely apeshit so fruitishly and wastefully. Reader, I snapped. With a fuzzy stone fruit.
  3. One case of threadworms
  4. One violent outburst by a middle-esque small boy in public – the base of the Gherkin to be exact, on a sunny Saturday, at a free architecture festival for children, with all of the kind, modern, youthful, calm parents and cultured, well-dressed and probably stylishly named children who were busy making ping pong catapults and lovely collaborative sculptures aided by busy volunteers and art materials all akimbo. My kid had a fight with another of my kids over a ping pong ball; the first kid had three in his hand and the other kid had none, so the ping pong ball Bereft One took one of the many that the first kid was hoarding and it led to a wrestling hair-pulling bitch-slapping Dynasty-style fight, and one of those kids has a splint because of the broken wrist and three strangers went over to split them up and shout at them in a very alarmed kind of way: “HEY! GET OFF HIM HE HAS A BROKEN WRIST SOMEONE DO SOMETHING” then run run run over there and physically pull them apart. Meanwhile, I was eye-rolling and shrinking into my concrete slab, slow to get up and go over because I see it all the time and it is embarrassing and usually everything cools down after a few scratches and kicks have been aimed and fired and tears have been shed. I know this, but to anyone else who is not me, it looks like some sort of terrible dog-fight, where you might well need a high-pressure water hose because the little buggers are LOCKED IN TIL THE DEATH. Afterwards, once they were yanked off each other by the nice strangers, the broken-wristed one went a bit extra-nuts and went back for more to get his ping pong ball back and I had to restrain him by strait-jacketing his flailing scratching hitting arms in a very ouchy bear hug on my concrete slab of shame, hissing CALMDOWNCALMDOWN and trying not to notice all the eyes on us. But he was pulling and kicking and shrieking and so I grabbed his good wrist and pulled him along to the ping pong ball station and asked for another ping pong ball to BRING HIS TALLY BACK FROM TWO TO THREE, and the nice volunteer man was clearly thinking that this child already had more than anyone else, and besides, they were all out of them at this point, so I dragged him back to the slab and found a rogue ping pong ball on the floor but the wailing he-cat wouldn’t take the random ball, because it wasn’t the actual one that his brother took from him. So I dragged him over to the other brother and swapped the random ping pong ball for the original PING PONG BALL OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE and then he calmed down, but not before a lady came up to me and said “Oh, I see he is autistic. It is really hard to manage autistic kids at these types of things, isn’t it?” and she was kind and I just nodded. And we left.
  5.  Played with snapchat A WHOLE LOT. Please note my very tight Stella McCartney flared zippered denim jumpsuit that was in the Selfridges sale for a tidy £150 down from £595. The kids said I looked like I might fix their car:IMG_1159
  6. A tenth birthday. That’s a salted caramel chocolate cake right there, that is:IMG_1174
  7. Kings Cross Fountains with Nathaniel and Gideon alongside many other English parents in their swimming things. It’s a cultural anomaly, this thing the English do, where they dress as though they too are at the seaside – not just their kids. There were beach towels laid down on hot concrete and even buckets and spades, though no actual sand. Otis thinks it was the beach, anyhow, so I guess it starts young:IMG_1178
  8. More inner-city beach dressing, on the kerb next to the Indian restaurant:IMG_1191
  9. On the rooftop at Alfie’s Antiques, the sweetest cafe with very nice eggs benedict. Casper came with us and was totally not into it, which says more about him and less about the eggs:IMG_1193
  10. Yesterday’s open casting audition for a new Spielberg movie. They wanted boys who looked a bit Jewish and Italian, so naturally I took my blue-eyed pale-skinned kids along. I gave them San Pellegrino lemonade before they went in, because it was hot and it was a bit special, but that made Ned get very fidgety and burpy. He told me the lady said that if he didn’t stop burping she would throw him out. They didn’t get a call back, so we went to Soho and ate Sadness About The Lack Of A Hollywood Career Hotdogs.IMG_1208IMG_1215

How are your holidays going? Thrown any fruit yet?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Showtime, Synergy

In a week, how everything changes. I had started to write something about the silver linings of Brexit, but then I lost my job and now I think any silver linings are massively overrated. I had a plan to point out the good things that were to be found lurking around the shadows of the sad old shitstorm Britain feels like it has become, like the fact that it was Eid last week and cause for celebration for a whole lot of lovely people. And there were two days off school, because our school has inset days set on Eid in a stroke of pragmatic  brilliance because the Muslim kids probably wouldn’t turn up on Eid, and so Tuesday inset day was coupled with a teachers’ strike and it was all FUN CITY with a weekend stapled into the week. This should actually happen much more on a regular basis in real life, because then we could take our kids to the Natural History Museum and buy them stuff and drive around and consume and spend and pick raspberries and see friends and the economy may well improve, as would our relationships, fitness and eduction levels. But that is another topic for when I run the world.

So the other silver linings, which frankly I see now as grasping for straws, was that I thought the apparent political mobilisation of everyone was a good thing – because the referendum fallout continues to make everyone feel something; whether it makes you feel sad, angry, self-righteous, bored, depressed, worried or outraged, at least some kind of collective political cognisance has been injected into people. And it does feel good to be part of something bigger than you, although what a stupidly high cost to get there. All the debates and the Guardian columns and the pleas and the petitions and the marching – if only this level of interrogation had been thrown about before the Leave voters decided to flip the rest of the country the bird. And Westminster!  Oh I wish I was Scottish right about now, and could claim that Nicola Sturgeon as my own – she’s another Aunty Helen.

Frankly, all of it would have been a brilliantly funny and quite ridiculous political satire show if it wasn’t all actually real.

Back To Silver Linings Though

The other silver linings are lovely little things like this:, the Michael Gove public ribbing which is mean and marvellous and lets ordinary people heckle and insult and make it funny, because if you aren’t laughing, you are weeping under a table somewhere, hugging your Polish friends close and remembering when you too were a European like them. The uncertainty about what Brexit means is just vile – it gets you up in the middle of the night to check that you remembered to make your kids NZ citizens as well at British passport holders because if Middle England gets it into its head to annex itself off from the Commonwealth too then you will be between countries, uncertain of welcome in either place.

And finally, the other thing that made me very happy was that I introduced my children to the ’80s cartoon Jem and The Holograms when I saw it spring up on Netflix, because I loved it when I was a chubster kid and I had lots of the dolls and knew all of the songs, so we rediscovered it together, although I was expecting them to shudder and cringe and tell me what terrible taste I must have had as a mulleted nine year old, but instead they too were enchanted by the utter magic of Jerrica and her mansion full of attractive tuneful orphans and now they are ripping through every episode and singing the theme tune all the time. And Ned has sidled up to me and asked me whether I still have the dolls so he could carry on the Hasbro plastic rockstar collecting legacy. And I thought how wonderful it is to have children to do this to.

So this was what I was going to write about, but now it feels like the pointless and desperate mutterings of the formerly employed. Because last Thursday I went to work, wrote my feature on a Nazi looted art hunter, and then got told that there was no more budget for freelancers and so thanks, but goodbye. And I was brave and tried not to cry in the office in front of the boss and so grabbed my stuff and went to pick up the children from school and only then did ugly face noisy crying for a bit outside the school gates. I spent a few days with a stone in my wizened, sad old heart and had blinky tears and told myself that yes, it is true – I  am not much use to anyone from an employment perspective and moped BADLY. The boss mentioned Brexit as being a part of the reason why they are so nervous about the magazine’s budget and so I confess that now I feel Brexit voters are a tiny bit collectively culpable for my fun, useful and flexible job being taken away from me. This is probably unfair but this is no time for logical fairness analyses. Tis is a time for feeling a bit shit.

And then! Noah broke Casper’s hand last night by crushing it in the garden gate and we spent five hours in the A&E and now the poor kid cannot swim in Northern Cyprus. Instead he shall watch us frolic about in the turquoise water from a boat, all sweaty and itchy and sun-creamed and behatted in 40 degree heat, plastic bag-wrapped and probably deeply resentful. So it’s all going JUST SWIMMINGLY, thanks.

Here is a secret gig with Suggs from Madness and the Roxy Music sax guy at the Soho Food Feast last weekend. This was a bit of magic, an *actual* good thing:

And Casper in a suit, on the way to the Natural History Museum, for no reason at all, when his bones were all intact:


Suggestions for making his summer holiday bearable gratefully received.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments