Tag Archives: life

Domino

If you were the wife of a highly successful, Premier League footballer, and a delivery guy was asking you to sign for a package addressed to an unfamiliar name, of course you’d turn it away.

That’s what was going through my head, as I stood there, suspended in time and space on the 14:12 intercity service. The train was just a few hundred meters from the station. I’ve always been one of those travellers who gets up early. It drives my boyfriend mad. The pilot puts the wheels on the tarmac and I’m already unlocking my seatbelt and making a move for the overhead storage. So impatient.

Holding on to the handrail, I had been willing the train to move faster, as standing in such close proximity to the onboard toilet was making me feel sick. Schoolgirl error, I should’ve moved back to the other end of the coach.

That random conversation with my boyfriend about a minor, actually humorous incident at work had stuck in my mind. Like when I can’t figure out the next step on my daily sudoku and I zone out, staring into the distance. My mind often snaps back to random snippets of conversation.

That one time an old boss lost his rag in the car because I claimed my favourite song of all time happened to be the same as his. He said I was wrong, I was just trying to fit in and be cool, I should have the confidence to be myself. There was an awful silence in the car while the song rang out on the radio. It’s still my favourite song.

Another conversation my brain likes to regurgitate, was with my Dad. He’d asked me to go Christmas shopping with him, in particular for a jewelry charm for my stepmother, to mark the birth of her first grandchild. Sounds pretty normal, apart from the fact I’m a mum of three. Apparently my children didn’t count. That one stung, so I kind of understand why that stick out. But the package story?

I think I remember the heat on my face at this point, or maybe the shunt first.

The guy stood next to me had a black Nike backpack on both shoulders. Two-strappin’ as my fourteen year old would say. I remember this clearly because I liked it and Googled to see how much they are.

He flew toward me from the train coach door, the backpack connecting with my face with such force, I was told afterward that it broke my nose. I’ll probably never know what he was carrying, but it felt like bricks.

The impact started a sort of domino effect as I reeled backward into someone else, eager to depart the packed train. Next came the shattering of glass, and then, the darkness.

The crumbs on the worktop slowly came into focus. A sudden pang of embarrassment. I should’ve done a better job of cleaning up before Joyce got here. I doubt she’ll judge me given that she’s here to help, not hinder.

“Is there anything you want me to jot down, anything at all” Joyce asked patiently. I shook my head. She began to gather up her notebook and papers, I could feel her pity as she smiled and patted my arm.

“We can try again next week. Remember, there are no rules here. All at your own pace, in the meantime, try to write down any thoughts or notes you might want to chat about and I’ll see you on Thursday, same time?”

“Sure” I replied, and added an absentminded “Thanks, Joyce”.

The woman was being paid to sit and listen to me talk about the trauma. Trauma, God I hate that word. Incident is another one that gives me goosebumps now. So does survivor. I sat with my guilt, in comfortable silence, long after Joan had left. A blank notebook in front of me. Physically unable to pick up the pen and write down the thoughts racing about in my head.

It’s like I’m waiting for the swell to calm. I keep picturing Niagara Falls. The memories, pictures, sounds, feelings, all flowing rapidly over the edge, fighting for position. I’m up there on the edge, amongst it all when I want to be upstream, where the water flows quietly.

I picture myself standing on the riverbank, the sun warm on my face. I close my eyes. I can hear the water running by and I am calm. I can stand there all day.

Until the heat gets more intense, it’s burning. I open my eyes, look down at the water. At a package floating by, tied with string, no, wires. Lots of wires. The sun stings my face, I cover my face with my hands, they’re covered in blood and then, the darkness.

 

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Let’s Take A Walk

I used to call it the ghetto. It’s a mix of social housing, those bought out and modernised and those with identical front doors and garden gates, making sure everyone knows who’s on their arse and who has risen above it after years of graft. It’s a reproduction of a blueprint that makes up vast swathes of the city landscape. There’s no money here. People get by.

Kids still play kirby here, extra points for lobbing the ball over a moving car. On Fridays, the street is dotted with purple bins. Walking one end to the other requires slalom skills to avoid the debris and dog crap.

There’s a blossom tree, about 50 doors down, right in the middle. It battles against the Spring showers and dusts pink petals over the pavement every spring, they’re prettiest when it rains. Light and dark. The best kind of litter.

The puppy with the big chocolate button eyes, caged in the front yard. Now a 2-year-old dancing around its own muck, still in the same front yard he’s outgrown. He used to whine for you to stroke him whenever you passed by the gate. Now he barks, consistently until you’re out of sight.

When he comes over, he parks at the side of the house. No doubt wanting to avoid embarrassment should anyone recognise his car. My parents park across the street, in front of the privately-owned house, with the double extension, high gates, and security floodlights that illuminate our bedrooms at night. My dads gleaming white, 4×4 more at home on the opposite side of the road.

The top-end, or bottom end depending on how long you’ve lived here, is a shit show. The back of the betting shop, chippy, and pharmacy. An alleyway consistently fly-tipped with broken beds, sofas, and ripped bin bags. The sunbed shop, beauty salon, and mini market, under the art deco style canopy, smell like hair stray, burned skin, ale. The extra-large council bin outside always smells like grease.

The kids who hang around the shops mimic adults. They’ve already grown up in many ways. Hardened to life. Head to toe in the latest North Face. Mini bags slung across their bodies, smoking, spitting, swearing. They’re about 8, maybe 9 at most. Full of pent up aggression. Stealing from the mini-market because they know they can get away with it. Barred for a couple of days until the other, local cashier comes on and lets them away with it again. It’s only a can of Coke, or a packet of crisps. Barring them lasts a day or two.

Behind the chippy and the betting shop is the very last house in the street. It’s been bought by two developers in the time I’ve lived here. The first one renovated it by hand. From wedding the 30ft long driveway, to replastering and fitting new windows throughout, he did it on his own. I’d stop and say hi sometimes, tell him the transformation was looking great.

It went on the market at the same time kids jemmied the new PVC door open. They smashed the windows, started a fire in the living room. Pulled the plaster off the walls, exposing the electrics. Eventually the top floor window fell out, framing the weeds that grew again in the front garden. I often wonder what the developer felt like, seeing his hard work destroyed and vandalised, just as he was set to sell and move on.

Kids leave bikes in the front gardens. Lost baby shoes and dummies are propped on the fence posts in the hope of a reunion. Primary age kids walk and cycle alone to school on the next block.

On the opposite side, about 20 houses up lives a lady and my cat. My cat had a litter of kittens at home and once she had nurtured them, my cat bogged off down the road to charm the Whiskas out of my neighbour.

I know all of this because the neighbour kindly knocked on my door and told me she had adopted my cat, renamed her Sasha, and moved her into a very comfortable bed from John Lewis. Occasionally I catch the cat, who I refuse to call Sasha, pissing in my back garden.

I moved here because the house is close enough for us to all walk to and from school every day, It’s also a short walk for my eldest daughter to see her dad regularly too. When I moved in I was 9 months pregnant and the house was in a sorry state. Unable to see my feet and stand any longer than 30 minutes, I relied heavily on my parents to help make the shell a home.

For the first few weeks, we all slept in our own beds, but in one room. It felt like incubation as my body completed the last of the preparations before my son was born. I didn’t want to move out of that room, having the girls close was a huge comfort when it felt like everything around us was in disarray.

Another gift from this house in the ghetto was a life long, real friendship. I may have only been here for 5 years, but my friendship with Kate, just 50 odd doors down has spanned 25 years. Never knowing that when we met in senior school, we’d be mums, neighbors, and Friday night kitchen disco dancing queens, all this time later. She’s a blessing, her kids are amazing and I’m so lucky to have her and her mum next door but one.

Speaking of blessings. Denise lives two doors up. She’s a nursery nurse at the children’s hospital nursery. Caring for and educating the children of health care professionals. Denise has a family of her own. Her partner of more than 25 years lives in a house in the next road. They have their own space but share a life together. Denise always knocks on my door with Christmas, birthday and Easter treats for the kids. For absolutely no reason other than she is the kindest soul.

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The sun comes up in the mornings and illuminates a pyramid gable end of the house out the back. A satellite dish the only blot on the golden bricks. I look forward to this and in the summer months I can time it along with when the bin truck comes on Fridays to collect the purple bins dotted along the street. It’s home.

 

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Almost There

If you’re not singing ‘Almost There’ from Disney’s Princess & The Frog right now, we can’t be friends. 

It occurred to me the other day, as a friend rapidly approaches a big birthday, that I’m halfway there. Almost done. Seriously. I don’t mean to be morbid about it, it’s just a fact. I’m 36. With my high sugar diet and penchant for stressing over things out of my control, it’s highly unlikely I’ll make it to 80. Diabetes and its best mate, cardiac arrest are always watching.

Clearly I need to make a few life changes, which I’m working on. Back out running, attempting to eat less sugar and plan my balanced meals (now that all 17 Easter eggs have been inhaled). But this impending birthday (not even mine – see what I mean about stressing over pointless stuff) did make me stop and think. What have I actually achieved in my 36 years?

Society used to say that by the age of 36 a woman should be married and raising children. Ticked those boxes. Turns out kids are absolutely immense, husbands….mmmm not so. And besides society can kiss my arse. We’re marching to the beat of our own drums these days.

Are bucket lists still a thing? Is there a 2019 version (a short YouTube video maybe?) of making a list of stuff you really wanna do before you croak? Should it take news of ill health or a monumental life event to motive us to live more? Surely the biggest regret in life is to get to your dying breath and wish you’d done more? Taken more chances, worried less about the consequences.

My personal bucket list has gone from worldly adventures to ironing all the school uniforms on a Sunday. Or getting all the washing out on the line on a sunny day. Sometimes I set a target for my daily word count, other times its my step counter or calorie count on My Fitness Pal.

Maybe I’ve become uninspired and bogged down with the practicalities of parenting. The kids need a solid education, to be settled, see their friends, get enough sleep etc. And they get all that. But I’m always blown away to hear stories of people who’ve upped sticks on gone traveling with their young families for months on end. Can a school with ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted results really question the education of world travel?

In reality, the inspiration still burns inside (oo-err). I don’t want to be on my death bed content with never having travelled further than the M62 but its okay because all the laundry was done in a timely matter and I scored highest on My Fitness Pal for calorie deficit.

We’re all heading the same way. I’m almost there, but the second half of my story will take a different path.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

 

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Dear Liverpool, I think I love you

It’s been one of those on/off things for 36 years. I think it’s love. 

Adopted as my hometown, I grew up in this spectacular city. I’ve spent the longest time under one roof here (5 years) and moved away only to come running back when the shit hit the fan. I couldn’t be any more of a wool if I tried. Born on the other side of the world, my mums scouse roots pulled her back to Merseyside when I was just 7 weeks old.

Living in the North East for a while as a kid, my favourite memories of coming to Liverpool were going to the markets, bonfire night in Sefton Park and absolutely anything from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale. Not much has changed.

I’d go back to my little market town with all the latest gear. Clothes, trainies, hair accessories. My country-bumpkin friends jealous of my modern threads. I first went to school in L8 at the age of 8 with a Geordie accent. Safe to say I was ripped mercilessly for that and it soon gave way to ‘shiiikkkkennn’.

After a stint in Germany I was back again at the age of 10 to join a rough as shit school in L14. Having the audacity to tower a whole inch over the tallest girl in my class, I got my arse handed to me one day after school and was promptly moved to the upper echelons of……another, much nicer L14 school.

I moved back home to Sydney in 2000 for a short time. After working the Olympics I fucked up massively and needed my family and familiarity. So I came home, properly home. That’s when I knew this thing with me and Liverpool was serious.

I’ve made life-long friends here. I made vows here. Twice. I made some of the most incredible memories within Liverpool’s cityscape that will stay with me until my last breath. I know this city like the back of my hand. Each and every bump. It’s soundtrack, pulse and layout.

Liverpool Women’s hospital is an important place on the map for me. It’s where I changed. I shed my skin and took a new path. I grew up.

All three of my incredible little dudes were born there. Aided by equally incredible, local staff who work around the clock delivering miracles. I left my dignity at the door in exchange for knowing what love really feels like.

I’ve truly lived here. My life has fallen apart here. I’ve grafted, cried, hurt, loved, messed up, laughed til it hurt. Walked home from town in the small hours, watched the sun come and go and stared, open-mouthed as the full moon passed over the illuminated Liver Birds – for real, this actually happened.

I love the people. The polar opposites of the north and south of the city, red and blue. The scouse-ims, the drive and ambition. I adore the ‘don’t give a shit’ and ‘because I said so’ attitude. More than anything I love the solidarity. Scousers care, they love hard. And because of that, so do I.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

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Less Resolution More Revolution

I can’t quite remember from who or where I’ve stolen that title but it’s a belter isn’t it?

2017 is all about making waves for me, causing a personal revolution and generally saying yes to whatever comes my way so I’m ditching the unrealistic resolutions and looking at them as fun goals instead!

I’ve thought long and hard and come up with a compact list that is realistic yet challenging. It might look fairly basic to you but I’m the type who derives immense joy from ticking off lists.

(I’ll admit to writing some tasks on my list when I’ve already done them to give myself a bit of a boost, I know, I’m weird).

So anyway, 2016 was pretty damn awesome for me, so I’m going to have to go some to up the ante.

Here we go…..

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Travel Inspiration – Kasbah Ruins, Morocco

1 – Spend at least 30 days out of the country and visit two places/cities/countries I’ve never been to before. Morocco is currently top of my list followed by the lost city of Petra, Jordan. Eeeeek, excited!

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Hair and Style goals – Linda Rodin and pooch, Winky.

2 – Right this one is huge (for me). I’m going to stop dying my hair. Oh god I’ve said it. It’s no secret that I’m destined to be a silver fox, and despite a 5-month-long failed attempt earlier this year, I’m gonna give it another go.

Thank you to the lovely lady on reception at Radio City for encouraging me to embrace the grey! Much respect, and you look bloody fabulous x

 

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Goodbye Chicken Fried Rice, it was good while it lasted. I love you x

 

3 – I’m on a roll now! I’m also giving up take-away. Not all crappy food, (I really love pic n mix), just actual take away. No Just Eat, no Deliveroo and no deliciously gooey and chocolatey fabulousness from TreatyPie. I must prepare and cook actual food….for a whole year.

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Repeat After Me: I Do Not Need To Check My Phone Every Five Minutes…..

4 – Technology goal. No switching my phone on until 9am (kids in safely in school and nursery etc) and off again at 8pm EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. Yep.

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Oh Hi pretty food that wont give me diabetes!

5 – Try Sushi! Utterly ridiculous that I’ve made it to the ripe old age of 34 and I’ve been too scared to try sushi! January for sure this one!

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Problem Booking Taxi: No available cars in your area…..til 2018…..unlucky

6 – Last one. No taxi’s. I need to learn to manage my time so that I don’t have to last minute.com all the time and ring a Delta. Plus I’m hardly Rockefeller so think of all the savings! Could pay for one of my trips, girl with a plan.

So that’s it. 365 days of cute bite-size, cute food, foreign adventures, silver hair, healthy meal prep, Instagram posts (between the hours of 9 and 8 only) and generally improving life as I know it.

Doesn’t matter how you do it, resolutions, goals whatever, be happy and make 2017 count.

Happy New Year

x

 

 

 

 

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Eat Sleep WAHHHH Repeat

This weekend I suffered the ultimate shame. I had to listen to a stranger apologise for MY behaviour. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life. This is how it came about.

I started the NCTJ course in early September and since then my feet have barely touched the ground! I’m on the go from 5am until 8pm most days, furiously scribbling shorthand exercises all over the Metro paper en route to college and consuming every possible headline on Twitter. Lessons involve British history, political debate, discussing media law cases and commentating on football matches, plus learning hieroglyphics……no wait sorry…I mean shorthand (which after four weeks I’m finally beginning to get my head around).

It’s hard work and I’m not ashamed to say some days I feel like I’m struggling to keep up. I come tearing out of college after hours of lessons to collect my three kids from nursery and school to go straight home and start dinner, feed them, clear up, tell them to quit bickering and pulling hair, start the bath and bedtime routine, throw the hoover around, while soaking up the tidal wave in the bathroom and wiping sticky finger marks off the TV and then pack bags for the following day and set out clean uniforms. Once they’re all in bed after four requests for a drink, a wee and yet another raucous rendition of Room on The Broom I can finally sit down to look over the days notes and try to retain least a little bit of the information I’ve learned. Sound familiar? It’s all go……well until it all stopped, on Saturday.

I was taken to The Royal Liverpool Hospital by paramedics Eddie and Rich, who after learning that I’m a trainee journalist, went on to tell me just how deeply the NHS cuts were being felt by staff and patients. It’s a sorry tale, and one I intend on writing up in detail in the coming weeks. (See Eddie, told you I’d give you a mention)

The medical staff in A&E worked out I was suffering from some kind of virus and left me with a dainty little cardboard pot in a busy triage while they prepped my paperwork. It was at this exact point that I lost control of my faculties. Feeling a wave of heat rising rapidly from my feet I tried in vain to get my Superdry hoody off over my head……only to faint forwards out of the chair and vomit all over the shoes of two ladies sat to my left. The last thing I remember is a nurse running towards me saying ‘Oh dear, I’m so sorry about that’

I came around a minute of so later laying on a bed feeling utterly horrendous and being glared at by two angry-looking ladies wiping their shoes with paper towels. Not my finest hour. It turns out I have a stomach ulcer and coughing up blood all weekend is a symptom of doing something wrong! I’d run myself into the ground, my diet was pretty disgusting and trying to be the best at everything clearly wasn’t working out.

Armed with a medicine haul Walter White would be proud of, I’m now back at home resting up. I’ve come up with a better strategy to still be awesome at everything but also to take better care of myself too. And the silver lining….easy weight loss!

Thank you so very much to everyone who looked after me. Paramedics Eddie and Rich, A&E staff Laura, Kayleigh and Rob and especially to the lovely catering lady who said she’s save me chicken curry and rice in case I got my appetite back. Legends!

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