Tag Archives: #health

A lump in my throat

I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.

I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than  K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.

K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.

Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American).  Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.

An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.

Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.



Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.

Table for one

There are some real bonuses to working from home, and I know I am lucky to be able to. I can get washing done, I am in for deliveries, I am around for the kids if they need me, I can attend daytime meetings at school, go for coffee or the odd cheeky lunch with friends, I can pop to the shop if I need to and pesky things like doctors appointments are easy to slot in. Its all good.

I break my week up by going into the office at least once a week and it’s nice to have company (even in the form of two belchy, sweary, sometimes grumpy, men) and chat about the lovely customers and the lovely emails that I get from them. We shout at the radio together (Jeremy Vine, we’re talking about you here) and try and answer the questions on Pop Master. It’s quite nice, especially as it’s not every day. I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I quite like my own company and don’t have any problem being on my own.

But, there are some real downsides. I haven’t been in to the office at all this week for one reason or another (T was off on study leave on Monday and no-one was going in today – my other scheduled day) and so the week has really dragged. The mains reasons for this are:-

Food – the biggest issue I have is food. I don’t raid the cupboards (well, I do sometimes but only on REALLY bad days) but I do find it hard to eat properly. I have breakfast fairly early with the kids or wait until I get back from dropping them off (another perk (?) to working flexible hours). Breakfast is fine. Lunch on the other hand is weird. I don’t see the point in making myself anything proper – it seems too much effort just for me. Occasionally I will have poached egg on toast or something like that, but rarely and I tend to just graze on random stuff: a piece of toast here, a banana and yogurt there, some oatcakes, some nuts, the list goes on. But I don’t stop and eat a proper lunch and I’m pretty sure I have eaten an entire days’ calories before I pick the kids up. Not good.

Motivation – it’s really hard to stay motivated when you are working from home on your own. Don’t get me wrong, I get the job done. I am conscientious and I take it seriously (as seriously as you can when you are dealing with the general public, who are impatiently waiting for printer ink to plop through their letterbox) and I work hard. But my job is very reactive, so I am only as busy as long as my inbox keeps getting messages in it. I have other stuff that I can do when no-one is complaining but it is called “slow burn” work for a reason – it’s boring and slow and just like the dying embers of a fire it is quite yawn-inducing. I find it hard to get myself into gear and get on with it. And when I do I generally end up with a headache or my eyes start feeling scratchy and tired. I start yawning (a lot) and want to go to sleep. Not good.

Company – some days I don’t speak to another person between taking the kids to school and picking them up again. Shouting at the radio doesn’t count (I’m talking about you again Jeremy Vine). Sometimes I can be lucky and the postie will knock the door with a package (normally for T – some freebie or other that he has been given to review) and we chat for a minute. Ok, she says “morning”, I comment on the weather (so British at times I want to scream) and we say “bye”. Not really chatting but it can be the highlight of my day. I sometimes get calls from customers, but they are generally moaning so not exactly a pleasure. I am quite happy with the radio on or music on Spotify but it can be a bit sad not to be able to turn to someone and comment on something that has been discussed or something on the news. Like yesterday, for example, when I heard the news of the attack in Westminster (*), I was horrified but my little yelp of “oh no!” went unheard. A bit like the old conundrum of the tree falling in the forest, if there is no-one to hear me do I make a noise? The biggest issue that this void of company all day causes is the irritation I then feel when someone comes in (K) or the kids come home from school. I have been alone all day, then suddenly (not really suddenly, they come home at the same time every day) I have people making noise, talking, expecting a response. Some days I embrace it, thankful to finally have someone to talk to; other days I can’t bear it, I’ve got so used to being alone. I know my mum will read this and think she needs to call me to cheer me up – she doesn’t, I will be grumpy and snappy and make her wish she hadn’t called. Not good.

So, after 3 days at home alone, and not being needed in the office today, I decided I had to get out. The weather has been very hit and miss so I didn’t want to risk a walk. Luckily, I had an excuse to go ‘out out’ as I had some stuff to return to a shop, birthday cards to buy and T needs cakes for school tomorrow, so I nipped out to a local shopping centre to get it all done in one go. While I was out, I walked past the cafe in M&S. And walked back in and had lunch. On my own. I NEVER eat out in public alone. Ever. I don’t know why, I just don’t. It’s like going to the cinema alone – I just don’t ever think of doing it. Anyway, I ordered a toasted sandwich and a pot of green tea, and I sat on my own people watching. I didn’t get my phone out for company or try and strike up a conversation with the older lady next to me. I just sat and ate my sandwich, drank my tea and did nothing. It was very nice. It has broken the day up and I don’t feel quite so grumpy. I don’t think it will be a regular thing (seems extreme to get in the car and drive 10 miles to get lunch) but I won’t be averse to the idea should the opportunity arise.



* Horrific events and dreadful that I feel like we have almost been waiting for something like this to occur after the incidents in other parts of Europe. I am in awe of the bravery of the people who put their lives at risk to keep us safe and thankful that we have such fantastic emergency services that deal with all this stuff, and of the kindness of strangers who wanted to help those injured. We didn’t really talk about it as a family last night as it was one of those evenings where we were all doing other stuff, but I know the kids are aware of what happened. I suspect that, a bit like when I was a kid and heard of IRA attacks, they don’t really get the enormity of these events. But, this is the world we continue to live in and we just have to hope that the message they get from all of these horrific events is that there are far more good people in the world than bad and that we all have to look out for each other.






Just go with it

I’m a planner. I like lists. I like to know what I’m doing and when. I cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

One thing that The Big Break taught me back in the summer is that some things can’t be planned and sometimes things happen that just stop all immediate plans and you just have to go with it. Just Go With It = My Worst Nightmare. Well, maybe not my worst nightmare – not as bad as my child being in agonising pain with a completely broken leg, but you get my drift. I had to take every day as it came, in fact on some days it was more a case of taking each few hours as they came. It sounds like I’m dramatising. I’m really not. For a control freak who has life nailed down and running like a well-oiled machine, to not be calling the shots was horrendous. Not being able to make things better for my child, not being able to take away his pain, not being able to tell him everything was going to be fine, was beyond unbearable.

I have to admit that the whole experience knocked me for six. More than six. It knocked me right out of the park. I still find it very hard to think back to That Day without getting a bit emotional. I was talking to a friend about it over dinner the other night – I haven’t seen her since T has been out of plaster and back to normal life – and found myself welling up. I apologised and said how ridiculous I was being. She told me to shut up, nicely. She has been through a good few traumas with her kids over the years and she said each and every one still made her feel emotional to talk about. Phew. I thought I was being a complete cuckoo.

Looking back through my blog, some of the posts seem like they happened to someone else. Me and A going up to London to see Wicked (I remember the day but a bit like watching it from a bit of a distance); going to clinic appointments;  A starting secondary school; A going on her school trip, etc. – I feel like I was on autopilot for it all. I think being on autopilot for a while makes it hard to come back to holding the controls and taking over again, being in charge. I’ve definitely struggled being in charge again, making plans and getting things organised.

But maybe this has had some positives:

K and I have become closer and now make more decisions together, talk about things more, plan things together more. I think he knew that I would not cope with all of the fallout from the break on my own and that I am not superhuman, despite the image I try to portray. I didn’t crumble, but I needed him. I’ve always joked that I don’t need him for much apart from putting the bins out and cleaning the school shoes, but it’s not true really. And this completely drove that home. We do need each other, we do make a good team and we can cope with stuff – together. I don’t need to be superhuman, I can ask for help.

I can cope with living day to day more. Although I will always live for weekends, just because they are the best days, I am happy to plod through the week and just wait for Friday to come along with all it’s happiness. I can cope with Monday (most weeks) and I actually quite like Thursdays now, rather than wanting to rush through them. Of course, there are some things that have to be planned and given a bit of thought, and those are fine. I still have my lists – I can’t give them up, in fact I find I need them a lot more now just to remind me of things I need to do (perhaps being on Autopilot has closed off the section of my brain that I used to keep my to-do-list in?) – and I still like to have a semblance of an idea of what we might do at the weekend, but not weeks in advance and not set in stone. Nothing in my head is set in stone any more.

Having to change or cancel ideas at the last minute no longer seems so awful. It can’t be helped sometimes and sometimes we just have to do what we have to do. I still hate being late for meetings or even just being late for coffee with a friend, but that’s because I hate rushing and don’t like being stressed! But actually people are very understanding and are far less bothered than I am by a bit of tardiness.

Yep, there are some definite positives from the whole experience. Obviously, T having no lasting effects and making a complete and full recovery are the main positives! But maybe me being a bit less of a control freak and a bit less of a planner is up there with it. I’m sure my family are happier now that I am a bit more chilled!


On another note, my lovely dad is having a small op this week. He hasn’t been in hospital as a patient since his early twenties (50 something years ago) so is understandably a bit nervous. We’re all a bit nervous. He has got to be there at 7am on Friday morning, he will have the op at some point during the morning and is expected to be in overnight. He should get a bed on a ward at some point, but we won’t know until we ring during the day. I’m nervous because he is having a general and I obviously want it all to go completely to plan and all be easy and straightforward because I love him to bits and want him to be all fine, but I am not going to stress about the why’s and wherefores of what time and when – because it won’t change anything. I am going to be as supportive as possible to my mum (for whom it will be far worse to be waiting to hear) and pick her up, take her where she needs to go and get it sorted. I will be thinking about him every minute of the entire day. But all we can really do it just “go with it”.






Why I’m finally ditching the scales


I started my first diet at the age of 14. I was feeling unconfident. I was probably getting to the stage that many teenage girls go through and comparing myself to my friends I felt huge. I wasn’t; I was perfectly fine. But, I wanted to lose weight and so I embarked on the Rosemary Conley Hip and Thigh Diet. It was a revolutionary diet at the time and it focused on the areas that I was unhappy with (and if I’m honest, still am) and so that was that. I can’t remember how much weight or inches I lost; probably not a huge amount as I didn’t have a huge amount to lose but it was the start of a lifelong cycle of dieting – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley, GI Diet, Slimming World again, – gaining weight, dieting for a special occasion or because it was a new year or summer was looming. I can’t remember a single year in the last 30 when I haven’t embarked on some sort of regime to lose weight and achieve that ever-elusive goal of feeling happy with my body.

I can count on one hand the number of times when I have felt happy with myself: when I went on holiday in 1996 and met K, I was happy and confident and I look back at the time as my golden year; when I was pregnant with A, I remember feeling proud of my body as I didn’t go crazy eating everything I could lay my hands on as I did when I was expecting T and I felt good – I was still huge but in a definitely pregnant way and not in a “is she just fat?” way;  when I got married I felt alright, but I can vividly remember feeling unhappy with my upper arms. The rest was OK as I was in a boned dress which held me in and an a-line skirt covered my legs and bum. It was just my arms that were on show and I was very conscious of them. What an awful thing to have as a resounding memory from a very special day.

So, in 30 years of dieting I can pinpoint around 3 times when I have felt good-ish about myself. I have had mini-moments at other times I’m sure, maybe on a night out in a new top or a pair of jeans that fitted well, but never for any prolonged periods of time, and the times when I have gone out feeling dreadful and wishing I was somewhere else – preferably at home in my pyjamas – far outweigh those mini-moments.

I know that there are exercise regimes that promise to sort out my thighs or my upper arms, that I could lose half a stone or more by following a diet plan, or by starting running. But I have reached the ripe old age of 44 and I have realised that I am probably never going to be happy with my body. So why am I still trying to remedy this? Why am I making myself feel unwell by starting yet another healthy eating regime (when I already eat pretty darn healthily anyway and it only messes up my system and flares up my tummy troubles)? I have had the worst week with my tummy since April last year and I can pinpoint it to a drastic change in my diet. It makes me feel debilitated and stops me wanting to go anywhere or see anyone. It stops me wanting to go for walks and it stops me wanting to make plans. How is that going to make me happy? Simple answer: it’s not. And if I’m still not going to be happy with my body after it all (based on the last 30 years) then why am I doing it?

The answer: I am obsessed with the scales and with being a “good” weight. This for me has always been the holy grail. I can put chunky arms and wobbly thighs to the back of my mind if the scales are saying the right things. And they can kill a good mood like switching off a light: I can wake up feeling pretty good, the sun is shining (not today obvs) and I’ve slept OK (again, not today) but then I go and step on the scales and BOOM I will be almost in tears of despair. All because of some numbers on a small battery operated machine. I have a set of numbers in my head and if the scales don’t show something between those numbers then I feel worthless, useless, hopeless. Even if I had previously been feeling relatively comfortable, relatively healthy. And it’s only those numbers that make me embark on regimes and make me stop eating things that aren’t bad but which are deemed off limits by the people in the know – the people who run diet clubs, the people with a new book to sell or a new DVD to promote.

So, rather than end up with pains and a bloated stomach that can’t be contained, but that was previously not that bad really, just not perfect and never will be (hallelujah – it’s only taken 30 years), I am ditching the scales. I am ditching the diet books. I am going to teach myself to not flinch when I look in the mirror, I am going to be nicer to me. I am going to make myself look at the bits I don’t like and try and see them as just little minor imperfections, little flaws that make up ME. If someone gives me a compliment (here’s hoping) I will thank them graciously and maybe even make a mental note of it so that I can drag it out to cheer myself up with when the new tactics are struggling a little.

But mainly I am going to just stop trying to make myself into something I will never be: stop comparing myself to people who are 3 feet shorter or 2 feet taller or just basically an entirely different person to me. I can only compare me to me and I’m not even going to do that anymore – no more comparing the me of now to the me of my twenties or the me of my thirties. I am me as I am now and I am going to try and be happy with it. Bye bye scales and diet books. From now on it’s me and …….just me.


Be nice

It’s not hard at all to be nice to people I like. It’s not hard at all to be nice to someone who is nice to me.

It’s quite hard to be nice to myself.

In the run up to the New Year, and since it has started, I have read the odd article and a couple of blogs about Me Time, Mindfulness and generally Being Nice to Yourself. I’ve “signed up” in a virtual way to a sort of campaign on Instagram called #SavouringJanuary2017 which asks us to post a picture each day that represents, for us, a word from a list. e.g. Day 1 was Quiet: I posted a pic of my newly gifted colouring book and pens; yesterday was Soothe and I had run myself a bath after a long day involving a five mile walk and the rest of the time sat in front of the computer working. All of the words are pretty innocuous but all are aimed at making us stop and think. The same nice lady that created this list and #SavouringJanuary2017 campaign is also sending me (not just me!) a daily email for a week with mindfulness ideas and ways to be nicer to myself.

I’ve always struggled with taking time for myself. I always think of something else I should be doing instead and from time to time find myself feeling resentful. It’s not anyone else’s fault. I don’t ask K if he wants some time to himself so why should I be any different? He just goes off out to tidy the garage (apparently it is a thing men do) or off to the gym or sits and watches telly – he doesn’t ask permission and nor should he! But I just don’t seem to give myself permission to stop doing stuff for everyone else. I do watch TV  or read a book or knit occasionally but quite often I am interrupted with thoughts of “oh crap I haven’t done such and such for so and so”. Or I wonder about things I could have done better or how I could have handled a situation differently. OK I know I think things over way too much. It’s a flaw.

One of the emails from the nice lady suggests monitoring your inner voice. The one that shouts in your head that you did something really badly or that your arse is massive. My inner voice is REALLY loud and quite hard to ignore, and the nice lady says I need to train it to be nicer. I’ve got to make it into a friend and make it speak to me the way a friend would. I have two particularly lovely friends (I have a number of lovely friends but these two are particularly lovely) who are very complimentary (not in an ingratiatingly irritating unnecessary way) and make me feel good about myself. I’m going to try and make my inner voice be more like them.

Does this all sound a bit mental? I’m just trying to start the New Year off in a different way to how I have approached them in years gone by. I normally start off with a mad strict diet or some crazy exercise idea that never happens. I inevitably fail and then my inner voice shouts at me (her again) and it all goes Pete Tong from there. But I think I can definitely try to be nicer to myself. How hard can it be? Another idea which I haven’t quite got on board with is to make an actual appointment in the diary for some Me Time. That sounds like a bridge too far. Is it meant to go in my diary or does the inner voice need a diary of her own? Do I really need to write in the diary an appointment on Wednesday evenings – Have A Soak In The Bath, or, Go For A Walk? Surely I should just be able to fit these things in. Or am I missing the point again?

I know this is a problem for many women (and probably some men; they don’t like to be left out) or it wouldn’t be something that people blog or email about and Mindfulness wouldn’t be a thing. I know lots of women who are constantly chasing their tails and I’m no different from them. Let’s all just be a bit nicer. To us.




“Flu”, festivities and Faith

On Christmas Eve eve K began to feel slightly unwell. I put it down to a bit of tiredness and slight hangover from my office Christmas do the night before (a brilliant night out which we both thoroughly enjoyed). But by the time we went to bed he was coughing and feeling achy. He had a flu jab earlier in the month so I pronounced that it couldn’t be flu and that hopefully he would feel better in the morning, with a muttered but still audible “you’d better not ruin Christmas”. I’m not unsympathetic; I don’t like anyone being ill but I don’t pander to it and I reserve the right to being a bit pissed off if he had ended up being in bed all over the festive season. He’s not a shirker; he will generally go to work even when he is at death’s door but he does tend to feel a bit sorry for himself and make everyone know that he isn’t feeling well.

Anyway, moving on, he didn’t feel any better on Christmas Eve morning but insisted that we still go ahead with plans to see my brother and his family, but that he would not be joining us on our planned walk to the pub in the next village. We went anyway and it was very nice. My brother and I haven’t been in a pub on Christmas Eve together since circa 1997 and it would have been a lot more full on than the half a lager that we had this year. But it was nice to get out and get some fresh air and the kids didn’t moan about the length of the walk too much – I think it was the lure of cake when we got back to our house.

Christmas Day dawned and he was a trooper and we had a lovely day with Mum and Dad here. He didn’t eat all his Christmas Dinner but it would have probably over-faced anyone who had been slightly under the weather to be honest. I don’t hold back when it comes to Christmas Dinner. But he did use the fact that he hadn’t eaten all of his dinner as proof that he was “clearly not right” and mentioned it several times over the following 24 hours. By Boxing Day he was feeling pretty much back to “normal” (I obviously have to use this term loosely) and, as we had a chill out day planned, by the evening he was feeling ready for a day at his brothers house, with the 4 hour drive it involves, the next day. Another lovely day was had by all. The journey home was eventful with A getting a nose bleed 20 minutes in meaning a stop at the services to clean her up and stop the bleeding, and then feeling sick 20 mins from home meaning a stop at the side of the road until she felt better (a biscuit from one of the three – yes, three – boxes we had received from K’s mum helped). And then the festivities were over.

So, on to Faith*. Boxing Day morning mum called and after the initial chat, she said “What about poor old George then?”. In my near-constant state of unawareness (and because I hadn’t had chance to look at Twitter yet) I hadn’t heard that George Michael had died. I have to confess to a small gulp and a forcing down of some leakage from my eyes. I refer you back to my blog when David Bowie died and I recall that I was rather disdainful of the outpourings of grief and people ringing in sick to work because they were distraught. I didn’t feel distraught but I did feel a pang of sadness that someone who had been such a massive part of my teenage years and who had adorned my bedroom walls for several years was no longer here. I haven’t followed his career much since Listen Without Prejudice (still my favourite album of his and Mothers Pride never fails to make me cry) but I still feel sad that he has gone and think he was sorely undervalued with people making too much of his sexuality and his so-called misdemeanours. He had a wicked sense of humour which people took as arrogance but you only have to watch the clip of him and James Corden doing the first ever carpool karaoke to see how self-deprecating he was. It’s only since his death that his philanthropic deeds have started to come to light, proving me right and that he was a good bloke who messed up a bit (who hasn’t?), with his gifts to people in need and many unpublished good deeds. Very sad indeed.

Today, I am back at work and if it wasn’t for the fact that I only have today and tomorrow before another 4 days off I would be very, very fed up indeed. As it is, I have just had a cup of tea made for me by the boy and a slab of Christmas cake made by the girl and all is well in my world.

*I haven’t made the link for you between GM and Faith because quite frankly I shouldn’t have to. Ok, Faith was his first proper solo hit – you can’t count Careless Whisper because he wrote it years before, and credited Andrew on it so that he would have equal shares of the royalties. Because that was the sort of guy he was.


Growing up is hard

*****Warning: Mum this may upset you. Don’t read it if you don’t want to.*******

(I know you probably will, so sorry)

If you ask me how old I am my whole being screams 25!!! I’m 25!! I know I’m 44. I’m not stupid. I just don’t feel 44. I look 44 (people are kind and say “you haven’t changed at all” or “you don’t look your age”. They’re kind. But they’re wrong.) and I do behave like a 44 year old. But in my head I am still 25. I don’t know why that is such a magic number or why I chose this age – I’m not actually sure I have actively chosen this age, it just pops into my head every time I am asked, which isn’t often.

On Saturday, we went to see my Nan. I haven’t seen her since May. That’s an awful thing to admit, but I do have reasons. We are busy. We had a slightly different summer and ensuing months than we expected due to the “big break”. It wasn’t possible to get to see her while T was in plaster as she lives 3 floors up in a block of flats with no lift. I could have gone on my own, but it just didn’t happen. I have spoken to her on the phone, but frankly that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After the initial “who is it?” rigmarole (she only has one granddaughter – no-one else other than my brother and male cousins call her Nan – it should be obvious it’s me) I then normally find that I have called at an inopportune moment. She’s 95 (96 in January) but she has a routine. She has carers that come at certain times of day and she performs a little spiritual service by herself each morning. I always seem to ring at the wrong time – nine times out of ten her line is engaged! – and we don’t speak for very long. I’m not complaining or knocking her. Bloody hell, she’s 95, she’s allowed to say or do what she wants (within legal boundaries).

Anyway, we finally managed to get over to see her. Sounds like she lives on the other side of a vast ravine or that we have to traverse some sort of perilous terrain to get there. She lives near Barnet. But life is busy and weekends are busy and things have to be scheduled in. In my head she is about 60. Like I’m 25. The maths don’t add up but it’s never been my strong point. When I saw her, looking 95 and hugged her I just lost it. She looks old; there’s no getting away from it. When she was 60 she looked 40. When she was 80 she looked 60. Now she’s 95 and she looks 95. She felt thin and unsubstantial. She’s always been strong and solid and someone who could overcome anything, and has (and then some). She is still a soldier. She still has her ALL of her very, very sharp wits about her. She’s still very in touch with the real world and she is still very interested in everyone. But she is getting old and frail and she won’t be here forever. And I don’t like it. At all. I don’t want her to be frail because I know she hates it. I don’t want her to have to have carers. She’s always been so independent and I know she hates having to have help. She makes my mum’s life a bit tricksy (that is a word) because she hates having to have my mum do stuff for her, so she takes it out on mum. Mum has to bite her lip, take a deep breath and count to one hundred a lot and because she loves her and she’s her mum she won’t say anything and she doesn’t mind helping her.

It’s a rubbish situation for all concerned. But the alternatives are not really viable. She won’t go into a care home (and frankly none of us want that in our hearts) but it’s A LOT for my mum and aunt to be doing her washing and cleaning and shopping and ALL the other “jobs” that she needs doing (and there’s a long list) every week. She wants to stay in her own home that she has lived in on her own for the last 50 years. And of course she has every right to choose that – until she can’t safely stay there.

I don’t want to be a 44 year old woman with a 95 year old nan and parents who are getting older too. I don’t want to be worried that each time I see my Nan it might be the last. It’s morbid and sad and I’m not grown up enough to handle it. Because I’m only 25.

Growing up is hard.