Sunday, 31 December 2017

Thank Feck for that.

And so it is we come to say Goodbye to 2017. It was a wrong 'un on so many levels for me - personally... so I am more than ecstatic to see in 2018.

In spite of all the difficulties - often it felt like I was wading through treacle - I feel I learned a lot. It is often out of the darkest times that you really do see what your mettle is made of - what you can accept, what you can change and what work you still have to do on yourself.

Yesterday as I was clearing out the family calendar, I realised I had done a disservice to 2017 - by dwelling on the negative. There was much to celebrate too - a house move; my children celebrating birthdays, watching herons swoop down to my garden stream; swimming in the sea in Ireland; star bothering non entities at X factor; holding Prince's guitar; watching Call me by your Name and reading the book; taking my kids to Paddington 2 and all of us crying at the end; watching Marah at Dingwalls; Halloween trick or treating and realising I was having more fun than the kids; tobogganing in the snow: watching my daughter score a goal; my son's leavers' service in July and him being awarded player's player of the year - making his whole year; the Harry Potter play (6 hours of theatre in one day is a LOT); working with some great writers/people who I admire and most of all, getting my health back - walking straight is an underrated joy...

Most of all though, my friends and family saw me through 2017. I valued more than ever those who were supportive, those who cared, those who let me weep and never judged me. It really is priceless being able to be vulnerable with folk and know that they aren't looking at you with pity... and who fill you with hope. It was a year everything went backwards and things I had built all fell... but the only way is up...

My dear friend Jo told me that once I moved, everything would change - and she was right. I feel more at peace than ever. Since then, November and Dec were the best months of my year - possibly because I saw so many friends/family... Which is what matters most to me really - the whole connection to others. I'm not good at being alone, left in my own head. (Something totally at odds with being a writer).

So, to 2018. I'm just glad I'm here. That I have my health. Around me many friends are going through  heartbreak, with their parents being ill. It made me realise how this all goes by so fast - and so many things just don't matter. I'm guilty of sweating the small stuff - worrying endlessly and feeling the fear. So, whilst I'm not making great resolutions - or aiming for dry January (just being a little drier) or writing lists... My plan is simple: To enjoy it. To look out more than in. That's all.

Who knows what 2018 will bring - but I wish you all, what few stragglers still look on here - great joy - please, if you do one thing this year - give yourselves a break and allow all you do, to be good enough. Be kind to yourselves. Before you know it we will be issuing in 2019 - it is but a heartbeat away.

Love,
CM x


Monday, 18 December 2017

The boyfriend

She almost didn't see him.

The bar was packed and the band had just started up, belting out tired old wedding songs, so conversation was practically impossible. It was her 16th birthday and she was celebrating: there had been pizzas at Harvey's restaurant and an inedible cake her best friend had made. The group somehow bypassed the doorman at the entrance to the bar in the bowels of an old church. She had just ordered a 'black russian' drink from her friend, which made her feel somewhat sophisticated. It had cost her buddy way more than the usual pint of cider and he had handed to her and stormed off, unimpressed. Shrugging off her guilt, she turned to look for the rest of her friends, squeezing past a row of bizarre cinema style seats just beneath the stage.

Then she caught sight of a tall, lean, brown haired boy, perched on the seats, laughing with his friends. He had that relaxed stance, a t-shirt clinging to his toned frame and a wide open smile. He was so handsome she thought for a minute of simply walking past - after all, he would never look at her. But the alcohol made her brave so she pushed through the crowd until she reached a girlfriend nearby. Taking a sip of the sugary drink, enjoying the sting of the alcohol on her tongue, she wondered how she could get his attention. A thought struck her. She leaned in and whispered to her friend: "Wish me happy birthday." Then, "Say it louder."

And he heard, immediately looking at her and smiling: "Happy birthday. So what age are you?" She knew she had to lie. Would she pass for 18? Or the age on her fake ID? Doubtful. She plumped for 17 and waited for his reaction. He grinned and closer to her.  He smelt of beer and a faint musky cologne. She noticed he had dimples. He offered her a drink and aware that her exotic choice may be met with distain, asked for a cider instead.  Her girlfriend made small talk until he returned and then discreetly left her to it. She flicked her long blonde hair to one side, tilting her face, desperately trying to remember the article she had read in Cosmopolitan about how to flirt. Do you stare at his lips? Or is it into his eyes? The vodka was loosening up her nerves and she found herself talking too much. He didn't seem to mind, telling her he sold cars, lived in the expensive end of town (with his parents, but this was 'temporary') and that his name was Mark. He was 19. She didn't know any boys older than her, so the fact he was out of school made him instantly more appealing. She felt the eyes of her school buddies on her as they walked past - their eyebrows raised as if to say 'who is he?' She gave a slight shake of the head, glaring at them, silently praying they wouldn't interrupt her.

But talking became too difficult with the base player directly above them, so he guided her to a darker corner of the sweaty bar and his hands came to rest of the small of her back. She was thrilled when he lent over and kissed her - his lips soft, his tongue gently playing with hers. He pulled her closer and she pushed back slightly, uncomfortable in such a public place. Glancing at her watch, she realised her curfew was up and unable to tell him the truth, she made some excuse about having to meet a friend at another bar.  He offered to join her but she managed to excuse herself and he gave her his number - telling her to call.

She raced across the street to the taxi office, giddy at the events of the evening. Her stomach flipped, thinking over the kiss... A kiss from a 19 year old no less.  She pushed the small bar mat with his number on it into her wallet - the one with stickers and notes from classmates and a long list of all her friends' home numbers. It was 1989, long before the days of owning a mobile phone. She stared out the window of the cab as the lights of Belfast darted past, wondering how long should she wait to call...

Every day she would pull out the number and study it. Daring herself to pick up the phone.

Finally she did.

He chose the dirtiest bar in Belfast to meet. The back of Laverys, where he said he was meeting a friend and she could join them. Too afraid to go alone, she corralled her best friend into coming too. Getting off the second bus she had travelled on to get to the bar, she pulled down her black stretchy mini skirt. The tight purple jumper she wore accentuated her curves. She glanced at her reflection in a shop window, hoping that she would get past the doormen, that she would pass for 18.

Her best friend had been forced by her minister father to attend a prayer event, in a nearby church hall. Feigning a sick bug, her friend escaped. They giggled and lit up cigarettes the minute they got out the door. Her hand was shaking. The bar was unusually busy and she couldn't find him, so they got half pints of cider and stood smoking, hoping they fitted in. He arrived with a friend and for a moment she thought he was blanking her and her stomach fell to the floor. Then he made his way through the throng of people and kissed her - on the cheek. She felt disappointed, as if she had somehow been demoted. His friend was warm, chatty and bought drinks. He made more effort with her than Mark and she suddenly wondered why she had bothered to come. Her best friend had to get home, to be wrapped up in her 'sick bed' before her parents got back; so suddenly she was on her own with the men. She felt uncomfortable, like she was intruding on their meeting and declined another drink.

Mark's friend asked her about her studies and she almost slipped up that she was doing her GCSEs, when her lie would make her an A level student. If he noticed he didn't say anything. As Mark finished his second drink he came closer, hooked his arm around her waist and tried to persuade her to stay longer. She felt wanted and desired and it was almost enough to make her stay, but she knew it was getting dark and she couldn't afford a cab home. Mark ordered shots and lined one up for her. She pretended she knew how to drink them and watched as the friend downed his and copied him. It made her gag and she coughed, her eyes watering. When he kissed her in front of his friend she didn't try and stop him, pleased he was acknowledging her at last.

On the bus home she felt excited - does this mean I have a boyfriend, she wondered?

He sold cars in a local dealers that her Mum drove past on the route home from school. It meant going the long way, but she would often lie and pretend she had left something important at her Step-Dad's house, so they would drive past and she could stare in and watch him work. She always slunk down in her seat, lest he see her in her school uniform.

She called him several times and left messages with his mother but he didn't return the call. She would stare at him as her Mum's car slowed at the lights and wonder why he had grown cold.

Then he rang.

It was Friday and he suggested she come over the next night - he would be babysitting his younger sister and they could hang out. She agreed, too quickly perhaps and spent the day fretting over what to wear. In the end, she chickened out. She hadn't got her driver's permit yet, so it would mean spending the last of her hard earned money from her glass collectors weekend job on a cab and then how would she get home later? She was tired from studying for her CGSE exams and wanted to curl up in front of the TV. Her next door neighbour Lorna advised her against going - she didn't know him well enough. Part of her wanted to go, to get to know him, to spend time alone with him. Isn't that what adults did? But without the false bravado alcohol gave her, she felt vulnerable, too young for such an encounter and yet... yet she din't want to lose him.

When he called back later to give her his address, his voice was slurred and she knew he had been drinking. She told him she couldn't come but he wouldn't accept her excuses. He got annoyed, saying he had come home from a barbecue and put his little sister to bed, all to see her - and now she wasn't coming. Worried she was losing him she agreed to come over and he said he would pay her cab. She guessed he must be really keen to see her. She applied some lip gloss and mascara. Had a shower and washed her hair.

She stood in front of her wardrobe and debated what to wear. In the end she selected a bright multi-coloured shirt from Benetton and simple black leggings. Garish and loud, the shirt wasn't remotely sexy. She threw on a cardigan as the night had a chill in the air and asked the cab to meet her at the top of the street. She told her Step-Dad she'd be back in a few hours, pretending she was just going next door to see her buddy. Then she ran up the hill, waiting for the cab. She shivered, something in her gut told her not to go.

He paid the cab driver, waited for his change and then ushered her inside. The house was big and modern, the TV room at the back. No sooner had she sat down on the gold sofa, than he was all over her, kissing her and roughly grabbing at her breasts. She squeezed out from under him and asked for water. He told her unkindly she could get it herself, and pointed towards the kitchen. She opened the door and he hissed at her to be quiet, or she would wake his Grandmother who was asleep in the next room.

She tip-toed around the house and when she returned, she sat on the chair opposite to him. He turned the TV lower and insisted, with charm, that she sit beside him. For a few moments there were flashes of the man she had met the first night, in the Empire pub. His beautiful cola coloured eyes taking her in, making her feel beautiful. He kissed her gently, complimenting her... He told her she had great lips. She responded, but he tasted of garlic and beer and she could feel his erection jabbing at her thigh. Within seconds he had shoved his hands in her leggings and despite her protests jammed his fingers inside her, demanding to know if she was a virgin. He guess she must be as she was so 'tight.'  Embarrassed, in pain, she admitted she was. He shrugged, announcing he'd had virgins before. For a moment she thought he was going to rape her and the fear that gripped her momentarily froze her to her seat. He was on top of her now, his whole body pressing on her so she could hardly breathe. She realised how strong he was, how supple - and how quickly he had contorted her into a position where he was starting to unbuckle his jeans.

She tried to push him off and he asked her why she was frigid? His voice had changed. He was angry, sullen. She said she wasn't ready and hoped he would stop. He took her hands, sat upright, softened his voice and changed tack. He tried persuasion instead. He liked her, almost as much as the girlfriend he had recently lost in a tragic car accident. He laid on thick the devastation he had gone through in losing her, and now, now he had a chance to feel happy again - wouldn't she want that?

She nodded. Afraid to speak. Scared she might cry. Then they were kissing again and his hands were peeling off her leggings and her bra was knotted roughly against her breasts, her shirt hoisted up as he bit on her nipples. He kept taking her right hand and shoving it onto his penis. For a moment she wondered where his jeans had gone, was he naked? The room was dark, the TV the only light - shadows flickering on his face, distorting his features.  His tongue was thrusting in her mouth and she just wanted to scream, but she had got herself here, she had said she was 17, she had made this happen. She felt stupid and afraid. She wriggled and turned her head but he kissed up and down her neck leaving trails of saliva. She had to make him stop, so she blurted out that she was 16. He almost didn't hear her. Then he sat back, looking at her with.... with scorn? He got up and did up his jeans, leaving her lying there, half naked, cold.

Awkwardly she pushed down her bra, fixed her leggings and underwear and pulled on the baggy cardigan. She tightened it around her like a comfort blanket. She waited for him to sit next to her but he sat by the television barely looking at her. Then he barked, "I'll call you a cab."

She knew she had done something wrong - was it saying no? Was it being 16? She went to him, tried to sit on his knee, to show she was mature after all, but he got up and suggested she wait outside. Confused, she went to the door and asked if she ever would see him again - after everything she still liked him. She felt she was to blame for it all. He'd made all this effort to have a date with her and she  had ruined it. He told her to wait on the other side of the road, not directly outside his house, in case any of his friends saw her. The comment stung, but she tried to act cool, like it was all fine. She stood on the pavement watching him close the the front door, holding her head high.

She cried silent tears in the cab on the way home.

A few days passed and she missed him. She thought of him as she looked at the bruises he had left on her breasts. She drove past the car dealers and watched him on the phone. His face was more tanned; the summer had delivered the promised heatwave. School dragged on and desperate to know what she had done wrong, she picked up the phone and dialled.

His brother answered and she asked for Mark but was told he was out. They got chatting, he wondered who she was - he had never heard Mark mention her. She coyly pretended to be a friend and then mentioned how she liked their house. He wondered when she had been there and she admitted on Saturday night - when Mark was babysitting their younger sister. She waited for him to be impressed, to maybe consider she was Mark's new girlfriend.

Instead Mark's brother laughed. Then he said she must be confused - because his sister was at an ice skating competition, with his parents and grandmother,  in Dublin... No one was home.

Just Mark.

She thought it was funny, this joke, this trick. It must be, right? She laughed along because she felt foolish - then she wondered if this proved how much he liked her, the effort he went to, to get her there alone.  But deep down she knew the truth.

Mark never called again. One day she looked up and he wasn't at the car dealers any more, or the day after that... or ever. She told her school friends about it - the time she had crept around a house, when in fact no-one was home.... on a 'date.' It was a hilarious tale, always got the laughs. What a joker!

She grew up and realised that the story isn't funny any more.

In fact it was never funny at all.







Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Spider Webs

Hurrah! Autumn is here. After a wet August and a September that felt more like April, Autumn has arrived in full glorious technicolor. The kids are back to school (was it just me or did summer draggggg this year?) and normal service has resumed.

The school run - normally a frantic mad dash up a hill,  a dance through a minefield of dog poo in a snicket and a full on sprint across the school lawn - has become much more a joy, now that spider season is here. My daughter rushes from bush to tree, hunting the stunning webs, where a hairy speckled spider busily wraps a wasp up like a mummy with utter precision. We have named each spider - Mr Green, Hairy and Lairy and the wonderful Big Bad Bob - who is the size of a small crab.

My 6 year old has joined the local football club under 7's team and has to train at the ungodly hour of 8:30am every saturday. She is the only girl on her team - which she takes in her stride, tackling every boy with methods I'm not convinced are legal and winging her way up and down the pitch, her ponytail flipping in the wind. At first I was reluctant to give up my weekend mornings, then I remembered - I'm a parent, weekends have long lost their old glory. So I trudged to the side of the pitch, while the rest of my quiet little market town slept to watch her match. It has now become the highlight of my week. Nothing brings me as much joy as when one of those cute 6 year olds lob the ball into the bak of the opposing team's net.

Meanwhile, team CM are on the move. Well we would be, but dear god the whole exchange process with 7 folk in a chain takes forever... The cottage we plan to move to is a project - and that is putting it kindly - but I'm trying to not to dwell on the thought of moving in - then out - then in again and all the stuff in between. As someone who can obsess over choosing a lamp for a day - the thought of having to select windows, bathrooms, an entire kitchen, floors, light fittings and tiles makes me a tad nauseous. I may well end up drowning myself in the stream at the bottom of the garden before it is done...

Now that Sproglet is 11 and less sprog and more teen - I'm all too aware of how quickly the years pass. A moment ago he was born...  In my head, I'm a new mother... And yet, I watched as him as he trudged out of his primary school on hot July day and burrowed his head into my shoulder, and sobbed. I watched as he struggled to put on a tie on his first day at secondary school, lifted a bag greater than his own weight and threw on a blazer fit for a giant. Every day he needs me less and less... It suddenly hits you - how for so long you crave a moment to yourself, how you wish that the early years were less relentless, less demanding - but when that moment comes, you feel wildly redundant...

As I tentatively began to pack, I wandered down the stairs to our basement - and looked at the markings we have left at the top stair, all the way up the wall - where we have measured our children's heights since we moved in, way back in 2008. It's messy and hard to read, but it captures time so beautifully. Now we must leave it behind.

So every morning, as we hunt for spider webs and marvel at the intricate detail on each one, I appreciate the moment. All too soon Sproglette will be walking to school on her own, my days of the school the run will be over.





Friday, 3 November 2017

Call Me By Your Name

Some moments in life are completely unforgettable. Rights of passage that define us, shape us, change us forever. Falling in love for the first time, is one of those moments - and joyously we get to experience it all over again in the glorious film, Call Me By Your Name.

There are shades of Bertoluccio's Stealing Beauty in this tale of a long hot summer 'somewhere in Italy.' Director Luca Guagagnino creates such tension between 17 year old Elio, the son of an archaeology professor and the charismatic American intern who comes to work for his father - that the build up to their first kiss is beyond thrilling.

The camera follows Elio's every move, as he dances around the creaking Italian house, splashes in the stone pool and transcribes music - all the while watching his object of desire. As he falls in lust, then love - we accompany him every step of the way. I could almost taste the smoke as Elio puffed on a cigarette, his eyes never leaving Oliver dancing up a storm to cheesy 80s music. Timothee Chalamet's face is exquisite - his angst, pain, desire and wonder all transparent as he grows up before our very eyes. His performance is breath taking. The final credits - no spoilers here - are mesmerising. As is his Father's incredible speech right at the end. My only regret is being unable to write it down myself as a life lesson I wish for my own children.

What elevates this coming of age story in a pretty country with lots of academic bi-lingual types languishing in the sun - is the space Guagagnino gives to the story... He lets us wait alongside Elio, on tenterhooks, desperate for interaction with handsome Oliver - played by the dashing white toothed Armie Hammer to perfection. I left the cinema feeling totally alive - and at the same time in mourning that my youth had passed. Moreover, it made me wistful: for a time when love was all encompassing, when you thought a broken heart would never ever mend.

In one scene Oliver and Elio in a dusty plaza circle each other around a war monument - having circled each other for weeks. The honesty and bravery of this scene haunts me... As Elio's mother asks when she reads a German fable: Is it better to speak or to die?

The answer of course is always to speak - even at a time where such love dare not speak it's name. Give yourself a trip down memory lane and see this film... easily the most stunning and affecting film of the year. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Lovely Bones

A week ago I gathered with people I had known for 20 years. People who started their careers in TV at the same time I did - filled with unbridled enthusiasm, wildly optimistic - the world was our oyster.

We gathered to pay our respects at the funeral of the kindest, warmest of us all. The crematorium was bursting with those who wanted to be there for Emma, taken from her beautiful family far too soon at the age of 42.

I watched as her closest friend, an Irish woman who I have watched weather all storms, with a mere tilt of her chin, a shrug and a 'sure it'll all be grand' make the most beautiful and poignant speech. She looked fragile, heart broken, ashen. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that this was all so fucking wrong and Emma should be here with us all, enjoying the craic, choosing great music, bringing her always happy, always smiling always positive personality.... I literally expected her to walk in at any second. She may be gone, but she will never ever be forgotten - the woman with the biggest smile, the kindest heart.

********************************************************************************

Years ago at my 30th birthday my friend Philippa have me the book 'The Lovely Bones' and I sobbed my heart out reading it. The last line is 'I wish you a long and happy life.' I took for granted that that is what we all got. We were indestructible. We would live forever. This week, having not seen Philippa for about 10 years, she texted me that she had seen an ex of mine had just died... She wondered how I was. I guess people thought I would be sad, mentally back in the 90s... But having gathered with all those I knew in the 90s the week before, I was already there... back when everything  felt possible, when life felt infinite, when it was all to play for....

*******************************************************************************

I'm writing this at 5:30 am - I can't sleep. Rage curses through me. Someone close to me is battling cancer - the dreaded C word - and it feels a never ending battle. This little cell that comes to rest, uninvited, unwelcome. It makes itself at home, the secret that you have yet to discover. Then you do, and so the battle begins... I can't imagine the fear, can't contemplate the bravery it takes to get through such an illness - with resolute belief that you will survive, you will not let it win. How can someone be just going about life and then all of a sudden - wham - life will never be the same again?

I'm trying to get my head around it all - that each day is precious, that health is a gift, life a blessing not a right - but if this rage would only subside then maybe I could feel that. Nothing feels simple any more. Normally I throw out a blog post in seconds, but now... I stare at the screen and just feel numb. I keep thinking over my own life - was I a good person? Was I kind? Did I hurt anyone? Did I tell those I love that I do... Did I take the wrong path, am I still on it? Am I raising my family well? What the hell is it all about? Why is life so unfair?

If any of you have words of wisdom, please feel free to share. And of course, I wish you all a long and happy life.

*******************************************************************************

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

#metoo

There isn't a woman alive who hasn't at some point felt sexually harassed. From comments about 'filling out in all the right places' from creepy relatives as a child, to having strangers grab your backside on a tube, to outright assault - the range of behaviour begins when we are barely more than children and lasts all our lives.

There are almost too many to list - but I remember some boys shoving their hands up my school skirt as I looked in a shop window aged 13. I had a man photograph me without my consent on the tube; a cab driver stroke my leg; a bar owner corner me in the freezer room; drunk men grope me as I passed them glass collecting aged 15; a man masturbate in front of me on a beach in Greece; a colleague called Dimitri press on my breasts to see if they were 'firm' the day I told my colleagues at Quiz TV (in front of my boss in fact) that I was pregnant with my son. He previously told me that he knew I was pregnant as 'your tits are huge.'

The strange thing is, I have been so conditioned to all of this - that I somehow made it my problem. I saw the fact I had a big chest as something to be ashamed of and so always wore polo necks, sweaters, baggy T shirts - anything to distract from my curves. I even bought a T shirt that had in tiny writing 'I'm up here' across the chest, so as all gawpers were shamed.

My first job in television made me see that the only way to survive in the industry was to accept the vile sexism masked under 'laddish jokes.' A channel famed for a dwarf man bouncing on a trampoline to stick the weather symbols on a map and 'Nudes at Ten' was perhaps not the best way to be taken seriously as a journalist - but I was thrilled to finally get a job. I loved reading the news in front of a man in a 6 foot rabbit costume, reporting from premieres and rushing all over London - working with a lot of decent enthusiastic and brilliant people. One of whom was not my boss - Kelvin MacKenzie. I made a joke about trying to take News Bunny to the Oscars - 'I had two hopes and Bob was the better one' which sadly Kelvin didn't get. So he asked Nick Ferarri to fire me - but in the confusion they almost fired another Irish girl. I was summoned to Ferarri's office where he suggested I wrote an apology letter to placate Kelvin as I wept...  Ferrari told me to start it: 'Kelvin you are not only my boss, but my hero.'

I will never forget my news editor Andy Beat helping me write it as I sobbed, terrified I would lose my job. Andy was livid - but what could he do? Meanwhile another boss never made eye contact - staring instead at my chest. Mark Murphy told me - despite securing the first interview with Stella McCartney after her debut Chloe show in Paris 1997 - that "you don't have the right look to present the fashion show." I asked what he was looking for and he replied, "you know someone with personality." I pressed further - aghast at this. He then answered: "We are looking for a model. Not you." I was humiliated, axed from the Fashion Show and made to produce a series of 'Topless Darts at the Circus' or I would be fired. I sobbed over my computer. Again. I had no choice. So I hired great costumes from Angels in Shaftesbury Avenue and tried to make the women feel like showgirls - instead of merely pawns in the channel's pathetic remit.

Women who worked at the channel were expected to enjoy the male banter - be one of the lads, in order to gain acceptance - something I never did. I respected and liked many people there - usually folk who like me, were just so grateful to get their first job in telly - but the atmosphere was toxic. The boss men had their favourites - women in push up bras who played the dumb blonde role - simply for an easier life.

I remember blagging my way into a Bond Premiere and securing (through blatantly lying) interviews with Pierce Brosnan and Judy Dench etc. Live made a special TV show out of it - but instead of congratulating me Ferarri only asked why I hadn't asked Brosnan about his recently deceased wife... The men were congratulated - the women never so. I couldn't wait to escape. I often wondered - would all TV be like this?

I learnt later on that the culture of fear that pervades TV insures that women put up with so much - simply because of the freelance nature of the job. If they speak up against a sexist presenter or overly handsy producer - what hope do they have of ever working for that independent production company again? I remember other friends being livid that in the office at another company, the male staff had a 'wall of punani' filled with photos of scantily clad women. I heard stories all the time of various lechy comments from bosses, filled with promises of what they would do for the woman in question's career.... I have had men bosses tell me that with my 'assets' I would 'go far' as they stare directly at my chest. I always felt I had to prove I had a brain - because by simply having curves, somehow that diminished me.

In later years I worked with a director who told me off for admitting I got the T shirt I was wearing free with a magazine; but allowed the male presenter to simulate sex with the producer as a 'joke' or make any kind of innuendo laden joke he chose to - because clearly he had one rule for men and one for how women should behave. I can honestly say I never suffered sexism or harassment when I moved into TV drama - perhaps because by then I was 35 and a mother of one...

This is all small scale in light of what the women of Hollywood have gone through at the hands of Harvey Weinstein - but the revelations at last mean we having a dialogue that should have been opened a long time ago. The culture of TV has forced women to be silent. To accept that our bodies will be the butt of male humour, that if we don't laugh along with sexist jokes then we are not one of the gang. It is time we were able to stand up for ourselves without recourse. Without fear. Only then, do we have the faintest hope that something may, finally change.

Then the dinosaurs, or rather predators, like Harvey can happily become extinct.






Monday, 16 October 2017

Winter wish list...

A good friend just got back from a weekend in Edinburgh with her girlfriends. She'd had a ball, but also got a bit of a wake-up call. Dressed to the nines, standing in a queue to a deeply fashionable club in the heart of the city, she'd got chatting to the girls next to her. They too sported cool trainers, a splash of lipstick and a smokey eye. My mate Jess got round to asking how old these new buddies were, only to be stunned when they said they were 24. To add insult, one girl squealed out that Jess and her mates looked surprisingly young, as 'My Mum is your age.' Eek. In one moment Jess realised that her clubbing days were over - she was less club kid, more bar fly these days... To compound this realisation, when they entered the club, the singer on the stage was none other than the lead singer from late 80s early 90s band Black Box and she belted out their big hit : Ride on Time. Yup, the only folk who knew or indeed cared about this face were Jess and her gang...

There comes a moment in every woman's life - when you realise certain things have to stop: metallic mini skirts (maybe not the best idea at any given time), showing cleavage and towering heels. When Christmas wish lists are no longer filled with things like 'Agent Provocateur' underwear and glam accessories -  instead you want Ugg slippers or a decent pair of gloves. Sure, I still look at fetching heels in Selfridges shoe section - but then I remind myself - I don't have the life to go with these beauties any more...

Shivering on the side of the football pitch last weekend, watching through sleeted rain as my six year old daughter got covered in mud while her team thrashed the other side, I made my own mental wish list for things that my life now required. Clue: none were bits of stringy lace disguised as 'underwear.' I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon avoiding laundry by simply having to find the perfect winter coat. Not too wide and bulky - I don't want to look like the Michelin woman. Waterproof and with a hood, so I can bear to be beside a football pitch cheering on as the heavens pour onto me... Something with a flattering cut, that will cut out the piercing windchill in ice cold February... But finding something like this proved to be the holy grail.

Until I came across Tresspass. Now, I will confess, I hadn't come across this site before - but low and behold - there was my perfect coat. A down coat to keep me cosy - padded to lock in heat - but still flattering (rare in the case of a down coat) - long enough to keep my legs warm too. A hem drawcord to lock out that bitter winter wind and water resistant to boot! Now, we all know that buying online is a bit of a gamble - things sometimes don't turn out to be anywhere near as good, once postie has delivered them (Hello anything you have mistakenly bought because some size zero model blogger aged 25 looked ace in it - of course she does, she is TWENTY FIVE) - but on this occasion my hopes of finding THE perfect school run winter coat have been surpassed. I put in on and didn't feel like I had been zipped into a stiff sleeping bag. It was comfy, roomy and beyond warm. I'm almost - but not quite - excited about the winter weather approaching, just to try this baby out and see what extremes it can handle. The other great thing is Tresspass appear to have clearance sales so there are bargains to be had. Get ye along there pronto!

Whilst I am still coveting a fetching cashmere camel coat for a life that I led about 15 years ago (certainly pre kids) I am convinced that between the two, I know which coat is going to see more action this winter. Here is a fetching photo of the coat, on a lady who is not me, but wears my 'can't think of any place I would rather be on a Sunday morning at 8:30am than freezing my butt off by the side of this scabby pitch' face. And she has better hair...