Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Trying not to give a f**k

So January is here and with it half assed attempts at going dry and eating no bread and pretending there isn't half a tub of celebrations in your top drawer. The obligatory reports of 'big freezes' blow in and as we all tearfully watch Obama leave office we try and comfort ourselves with the knowledge that anyone, indeed any bloody clown, can become president - even one who hates women unless they are peeing on Russian hotel beds.

But I have a weapon in all the drudgery, to see me through the dreary weather and dealing with the expense of my Husband turning 40 (at bloody last) - it is a book, called 'The Life Changing Magic of not giving a F**k.' It is miraculous. My husband could have written it because he really doesn't give a f**k at all. He swears with abandon, leaves social gatherings the minute he feels he has talked/listened enough and keeps his distance from most people. At the heart of all this I suspect is just consummate laziness, but I admire his ability to let all things just slip off his shoulders. Of course  he gets grumpy about work, will be ENRAGED about Australia losing at any sporting event and will be anxious if the children or I are ill - but in general he doesn't give two hoots what others think or expect of him. While I will stew over a conversation, or worry about a potentially misunderstood text,  he just says 'f**k it.' Long have I sought to emulate his behaviour...

But I do give a f**k. About ridiculous shit - like: will the bosses like my script? Will I ever get another writing job? Can I even write? Do I look fat? Have I got lines finally appearing? What will happen when that baffoon is president and why did A Monster Calls not get any award noms when it is BEAUTIFUL? Is that mole on my neck cancerous? Am I now middle-aged? Will my house ever sell? Is everyone in my town looking at it online and judging my curtains? (Judging by the amount of people who ask me endlessly about my house sale this is a yes). Am I spending enough time with my children? Should I try and exercise today? What legacy am I leaving? Should I make more plans to see friends? It is winter I don't actually want to see anyone or leave my house but is that bad? What will I get my Mum for her 70th? Should I get a bikini wax? Why do I never get a ripe avocado? ETC. ETC.

Husband frequently says 'being in your head must be exhausting.' It is. That is why I blog. To spit it all out. So the book. It helps by telling you that you do NOT have an infinite amount of f**ks to give. So you have to choose VERY carefully what to give them to. Your mind is a barn apparently and you need to clear it all out of the mindless clutter and be very choosy about what you think about. That instead of wading into dangerous waters listening to other people wang on about stuff that they EXPECT you to give a f**k about - instead say 'everyone has an opinion' and run off. Quickly. It also teaches how you can not give a f**k and amazingly, thrillingly, at the same time, not be an asshole. This is new territory for me. Husband - he has this licked because for all his blunt Aussie tactlessness he still is not an asshole. Well, only sometimes. I'm at the part of writing out a f**k budget - and sorting my f**ks into categories, so I can work out where to spend/give them. Exciting isn't it?

Also, I can write up all the stuff I don't actually give a f**k about: your dreams. Ever. So don't tell me them. This includes my kids who frequently share their night time tales. Cars - they go from A to B, never seen the point of being excited by them. Or indeed Jeremy Clarkson. That I haven't watched more than one season of Game of Thrones - or Breaking Bad. I will eventually but not yet. Fashion - I don't have the life that accompanies such great heels anymore - much as I would like to - and care whether or not ridiculous frayed denim trousers are 'in' or kitten/wedge/stiletto heels are very on point or whatever cool phrase it is - I no longer have the energy to do anything other than run around Zara and buy yet another pair of biker boots and a stripy top. Baking for school fairs. Sorry that is why Waitrose has baked buns, pre-made icing and chocolate buttons. Looking younger - I'm not.  Facebook politics and liking updates - better to just come off it and free the mind. Taylor Swift - she is no Madonna is she? That I probably drink too much. I am a parent. It comes with the territory. That I can't cook. I married someone who can cook - winning! Instagram - I don't care about curated lives that took 7 filters and 2 hours to perfect. I actually miss the old days of waiting in the queue at Boots for your holiday pics only to discover the flash never worked in half of them. Christmas - overrated, high on effort low on return. Valentine's day - I mean really, who actually appreciates this day apart from teenagers and even then it is torture when the deliveries in school show up the fact you got one card from the kid with the sniffle and head lice while your best mate got 10?

Go on - try it. Buy the book and start your lists. Before you know it, it will be February and you will be too busy not celebrating Valentine's day to care. You can thank me later. But only if you give a f**k.




Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2017

So 2017 is here - and if ever a year was more yearned for I have yet to remember it.

Everyone lamented the tragic untimely deaths of many much loved stars in 2016 and combined with the disturbing results of Brexit and Trump's election, it seemed there was little joy to be had. Personally I found it a bit of a slog - losing Prince felt like a little light went out - never again would I play 'hunt the gig' to find him playing in some sweaty corner of London, never again would I watch him immerse himself in music.... there isn't a day goes by when I don't think about him. 

Then came a knee injury that still plagues me, followed my some family discord and then I discovered an ex had died after a horrific battle with cancer that left him paralysed for over a year. He was a good person, a kind person, a father of two. His second child born just as he was diagnosed. I still think about a blog he wrote - saying the hardest part was telling his 8 year old son he wasn't going to make it. Then came the news that a man I had known at 16, had spent a year or more writing to - he was 32 - who had taken me for cider and treated me as an equal - who had never touched me (largely because there was a great big sea between us) had been found guilty of sexual offences - with a 15 old, whilst he was 57. My flesh crawled. Deep down, back then, I knew that his intensions weren't right, weren't appropriate, but the fact he was a plane ride away somehow made me feel safe in the distance. An odd one to get my head around.... how many others?

But a flick through my photos on my phone and I remembered there were indeed many brilliant moments: starting with a hysterectomy (hey two nights away from home is a vacation in my book) - that gave me a new lease of life, a buddy over from Australia prompting a great gathering of mates in March, Easter hols in Ireland catching starfish, taking my daughter to see Matilda, a sunny weekend in York with car keys locked in our boot in April, a brilliant 25 year school reunion in June, a wonderful summer - my last in Ireland for a while - and a white Christmas in Austria.

The older I get the more I realise life isn't about always being happy, always striving towards goals or attaining things we think are going to magic everything better - it is about the small moments, that we should try and find in every day. It's about appreciating the now, our health, the coffee in front of us, the sun in the sky, the book waiting to be read. I don't have resolutions this year. I never stick to them - but I am going to be more in the moment. I am going to give less of a fuck. I am going to only give my time to those I feel are there to enhance my life, who are genuine and fun.... I am going to try and be a bit kinder to myself, especially in my ever fretful head. I have to remind myself that over my 20 year career I have been a barmaid, gap girl, journalist, presenter, reporter, film reviewer, AP, script editor,  life coach and writer - so I've always found a way to muddle through - I always will. I may not be the richest person but dear god I have fun. Plus I've always had great buddies. I've always had great health. That makes me one lucky girl. 

So here's to 2017 - may it be memorable, this time, for the right reasons.

CM x





Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The cards we are dealt

Christmas is a funny old time of year. All the sentimental adverts, the supermarkets filled with tasty festive fare for the family and folks zipping around buying up gifts for those they love. I always find myself stepping back, kind of feeling like the kid who came to the party but no one asked to join in the games. Perhaps it is because I don't come from the unified sibling-filled family - the one singing carols around the fire. We don't all pile home to Mum and Dad's and sleep in our old rooms, joking about all the Xmases of old. It is something I hope I give my kids...

Anyway, there is something so forced about all the revelry, something as cliched as an Xmas card, that always unsettles me. I can't help but think about those who don't have the husband buying them diamonds, the cherubic kids to wake up with at dawn's crack on Xmas day, those who don't have a roof over their heads, or can't afford to shower their family in gifts.

It is the time of year when so many feel they have failed: their lives not picture postcard perfect, their stockings not full, their mistletoe unused. All that money wasted on pointless gifts and status symbols, makes me wonder - have we forgotten what Xmas is really all about in a sea of designer handbags and cashmere jumpers?

Jaysus the last thing you need is another person jangling a fecking box under your nose, or another charity shoving a wedge of dodgy Xmas cards under you door, but perhaps it is time to think of others, instead of ourselves? (Alongside thinking about all those near and dear of course... I'm not a total Grinch).  I read today that the UK is set for the biggest increase in child poverty in a decade. It is due to increase by a whopping 50% by 2020. This Xmas the number of homeless kids will hit an 8 year high - with over 13,000 sleeping in B&Bs, hostels or temporary shelter. 

Often I think back to conversations I had with desperate people who called Samaritans when I volunteered. The one thing that struck me most of all - was how much people's childhood shaped their lives.  Those first ten years so crucial to forming the people we will become. But if your life is one without love, or food, or shelter, or hope - then what for you?

Years ago I was an associate producer on a project called 'Make it Big,' where SKY TV pledged a million pounds to a youth charity. 10 were nominated and I (along with several other producer/director teams) had to make videos to illustrate what the charities set out to achieve. In the end The Chicken Shed won the money - and all credit to them. They were one of the 3 charities I had filmed, so I should have been thrilled. But there was one charity that absolutely broke my heart. (And apparently James Murdoch's - who watched our video and came in holding the VHS aloft, tears streaming down his cheeks). At the time it was called NCH and was based in Highbury, London. They funded many children's homes and various schools and places for troubled/abused/neglected kids. The work they did was simply incredible. I filmed at a school in Margate for extremely vulnerable kids - who had all faced neglect or abuse/sexual abuse - and used art as therapy. From all the darkness they experienced (and their tales were almost beyond comprehension) through drawing, painting and craft, they unleashed all their hurt, betrayal and anger. The art teacher helped them find a voice, one that had never been heard. I've never met braver people in my life.

One child, who was so badly neglected he couldn't cope with living with a family, walked with a limp from all the injuries he sustained - by those supposed to look after him. His art was brilliant. He was handsome, quiet, shy. He wouldn't look me in the eye, but followed me outside to give me a picture of a china cow he painstakingly had drawn and I brought it home and put on my fridge. It haunted me for years. In fact he still does. I often wonder what happened to him. He was months away from 16 (this was back in 2004) and was due to be moved on from his children's home to a council flat - alone in the world at such a young age. I kept asking the charity workers - what next for him? Who would look out for him? Why wasn't more done for him? Why was he dealt such shitty cards in life?

NCH is now Action for Children and their work is unparalleled at giving vulnerable children a brighter future. If this Xmas you have a spare fiver, or two quid, or whatever you tip the milkman/deliveryboy/binmen then please, please donate. Because not everyone got the great cards you (hopefully) did. Money you donate can really make a difference, and at Xmas, is there anything more heart warming than that?

Festive greetings to y'all. May it be your best one yet. CM x










Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Where did all the grown-up films go?

Today was as close to heaven as I get... I snuck off to watch a movie all by myself: Hell or Highwater, with a brilliant Jeff Bridges and a revelatory Chris Pine. (As an aside, miss it at your peril). As I sat in the darkened room, I felt such comfort. A movie theatre has always been my go-to place at times of upset, loss, disappointment - and also when I am absolutely desperate to see a film. Sadly, that rarely happens these days... Instead of wanting to get to the flicks 3 times a week, it is maybe 3 times a month.

For a while, I put this down to the fact that I have kids and therefor it is infinitely harder to get to a cinema - even though I have a stunning art deco cinema in my town - replete with a bar... But then it dawned on me that there simply aren't the same type of films made these days that I was once so desperate to watch. (In August I manned to see The Shallows and David Brent... and Finding Dory. EXACTLY).

Sure the 70s and 80s were the halcyon days of cinema - but this year when I read an article with the brilliant Jodie Foster in the Times, I was shocked when she commented that a film like 'The Accused' for which she won one or her two Oscars, wouldn't get made these days. Why is this??

An article by Jonathan Dean  (also in the Times) lists the box office top ten in 1993: Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, The Firm, Sleepless in Seattle, Schindler's List and In the Line of Fire in there...  Groundhog Day at number 13. That list is just teaming with memorable films... Last year, the list is largely re-makes or sequels or kid's films... and how in the world is Ant Man at number 14? Around Jan/Feb we get a quick fix of brilliant films: The Revenant, Room, Spotlight and then..... nada. Bar the odd gem like Hell or Highwater, or Sing Street - nothing. The only other memorable film I have seen this year is Mustang - and that was a Turkish film with a whiff of the brilliant Virgin Suicides about it...

What is Sophia Coppola doing now? Peter Weir (who made 3 of my fav films), Curtis Hanson? Sodenbergh? I find David O'Russell overrated (sorry - I thought Bradley Cooper went from crazy to normal with no turning point in Silver Linings, I hated Joy and found American Hustle bloated -  plus I've never forgotten that Clooney punched him for treating an extra badly... and he made Amy Adams cry on AH - to the point Christian Bale had to intervene and call him an asshole...) and Todd Hayne's Carol was a case of style over substance...

So where are the: In the Bedroom, LA Confidential,  Swingers, Fatal Attraction, Being John Malkovich, Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas, Rosemary's Baby, Almost Famous, Tootsie, Footloose, Flashdance, American Werewolf in London, After Hours, Witness, Moonstruck, Stand By Me, The Big Chill, Dead Poets, Silence of the Lambs, American Beauty, Little Children, Clerks, Good Will Hunting, Out of Sight, Thelma and Louise, Goodfellas, Rushmore, My Own Private Idaho, JFK,  Sideways, You can Count on Me, Memento, Se7en, Brokeback Mountain, Eternal Sunshine, Boogie Nights etc. etc. etc. ???

WHERE ARE THEY? Is it just bloody Marvel characters ad infinitum?? According to Dean's article, 71 comic book based films are in the works. SIGH.

I preferred Robert Downey Junior in Two Girls and a Guy than in any of his Iron Man formulaic hits.... because I am not a 12 year old boy... Obviously these type of Blockbuster films have an audience and I don't dispute the necessity of such films to bring butts on seats and cash flowing in - but what I do resent is that these are the only type of films getting made... Do the studios and indies think that we have dumbed down? That people over 30 only venture to the cinema with their sprogs in tow? That we need CGI and loud explosions to be enthralled? I just need a good script...

I am desperate to have lists of films that I urgently need to watch.... Like the time I cycled in the rain to see Crash, or made my husband drive for 50 mins and pay twice what I usually do to see the excellent Whiplash. (Yes that was only a couple of years ago - but it falls into the Oscar handful of great films). I want to come home and hand my babysitter the £30 I pay her and think - that film? Totally worth it. 

But that SO rarely happens. I remember the good old days of boring colleagues with my endless talk on such beauties as Drive - filled with enthusiasm to finally see something adult, engaging and downright memorable.

We have no end of acting talent - we have brilliant writers - female directors gagging to get work - and in a male dominated industry, the best we can come up with is - Thor?

I miss going to the cinema. But most of all I miss wanting to go there... Please, can things change?








Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Every summer has it's own story...

I'll be honest, 2016 hasn't been one of my favourite years - Brexit, Prince dying, a bad knee wound and a never ending winter, made it feel like I was wading through treacle for any joy. But finally, summer rolled around and this year - as usual - I packed it with adventures to fill the kids' days and also provide me with some much needed change of scenery.

First up I discovered my fav TV show of this year and now the summer seems unthinkable without the wonder and joy of Stranger Things. Little Eleven brought out every maternal bone in my body. A total gem. Miss it at your peril - on Neflix now.


Then came a trip away with a family - they had the villa next door. We walked across lava fields in craters which the sea had once filled - picked up lizards and shells... We swam in crystal waters, ate delicious prawns and sipped beers and rose all day long. It was bliss. 





After a quick pitstop home I headed to my motherland... and had three of my favourite weeks of the year. Yes, I had to write, but in between, I caught up with friends and family, swam in the sea, and enjoyed my nightly (with children catching Pokemon) walks along here (ending with a swift Shortcross gin in Pier 36... would have been rude not to...)




We also did a tonne of rock pooling.....



                                                                             


There were old schoolmate meet ups... (ladies aren't you glad I kept those letters you wrote back in '91??)

And I got amongst the brilliant Open House Festival that is run yearly in Bangor. In only it's second season - it still managed to be packed with foodie, theatre, music and drinks events all through August. Flicking through the programme I decided the quirkier the better so...  First up was Big Telly's wonderful improvised play on The Faerie Thorn... a bewitching yarn with life lessons for all. Hilarious and bizarre, with a Q and A with the author afterwards... Go see when it hits theatres next year... 

The following week I headed over to a gin tasting session at Fealty's bar where I discovered Hoxtons gin (you sip with cranberry to compliment the coconut and grapefruit flavours) and converted to The Botanist - an amazing gin... My gin partner in crime had a train to catch to Dublin the next morning - amazingly she made it. Hats off to you Patricia... 






Unbelievably in Ireland the sun shone and my kids went off each day from 10-4 to play tennis at my old club. They loved it... I wandered around lost in nostalgia, remembering my days there as a glass collector and barmaid... Meanwhile, my mother is moving house so she handed me a huge bag - in it had every letter I'd ever received until I was 21... There were my old vinyl records, photos, wedding dress, school uniform and postcards, stickers, keepsakes from a lifetime ago... Where the hell did 20 plus years go? 

I sneaked my son into his first 15 film - a rite of passage. All went well apart from the Durex advert and a trailer for a creepy horror called 'Lights out.' Thankfully we were both entertained by a super tanned and ripped Blake Lively avoiding being eaten by a great white shark.. and we still managed to get on our wetsuits and get in the sea when we all went off to Donegal...


Yes, that is me doing a handstand...

We stayed at the glorious country house hotel Rathmullan - where there is no better breakfast in Ireland and everything is discreetly put on your room - which feels like you are drinking free dark and stormies, until you get the bill and nearly pass out.



We started a new tradition - Ridge and Rounders. Bring a bottle of fine red wine, plastic cups, a bat and stumps, and race around like a lunatic, stopping for a red wine warmer and then a dip in the freezing sea. Nothing beats it.


Rathmullan is easily one of the highlights of the year. It is one of the few hotels I have stayed at with kids, where when it rains, you almost feel relieved. You can jump in the indoor pool or sink into the sofas by the fire and eat cream tea scones with tea. The kids run feral (all good until the bar rings you asking you to collect them.... eek) and you spend your days salty, sandy and smiling. I'm always devastated to leave - but the waistband of my jeans less so. 


And it wasn't just me who had fun.... the kids had a ball....





There is no greater joy than catching a teensy crab... (special thanks to Ella McClelland for these beautiful photographs - she has an eye that one...) 



And so... after a 5 weeks we are back here.. to sunny England, and a flurry of school uniforms to sort out and a to do list as long as my arm... All ready for that back-to -school feeling. Except, I'm not really ready to let go of summer yet. I cried when I left Ireland... Home is... home. The people, the seafood, the great gin... (I thank you Muriels - the best bar I know)...


Most of all I miss the sea. I forgot how important it is to me, to be near it. To breathe in the sea and air and breathe out all the stresses of life... When my kids are grown, when their schooling ends, I will return for good. No question. 






PS To Katy and Fergus and the Pokemon walks, Team McC in Rathmullan, V and Nat for the dinners, Carly for the coffee (and James for being cute) to Fealty's for the liquor and Patricia for the craic, for the chat after 25 years with my fav teacher Mr Cinnamond, the wonderful week in Lanza with the Porthouse massive, for the best lunch of my year with you Al, and for the gossip the MCB ladies.... Most of all thanks to my Mum for letting us rabble descend on you... Summer 2016 may just be my best yet. 








Friday, 1 July 2016

The world has gone mad part two: Love Island

Admittedly, I do not watch reality shows. Not because they aren't enthralling, hilarious, scandalous and entertaining - but because I don't have enough time to do anything these days - and often reality TV only seems to highlight everything that is wrong with our society.

Case in point: I read today that a couple had sex on a show called 'Love Island.' In full view of their fellow contestants, who all share the same room. Incredibly, the guy had already had sex that week with another contestant in the same bed. (One can only hope he bothered to change the sheets between girls but is doubtful). With girl two it was dark, but no doubt the sounds of their activities would have alerted their bedroom buddies as to what was going on - and the cameras on the TV show are able to see through the dark - giving all their families, friends and colleagues a glimpse at their most intimate moments. Alarmingly, during his previous encounter, the fellow housemates had 'rate' their performance as they shagged.

HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE TELEVISION?

Now, I'm no prude. I will also confess that my guilty pleasure was Celebrity Love Island, back in 2006. I was feeding my newborn son at ungodly hours and the shenanigans of these muppet D list (or Z list) celebs in a luxury beachy resort kept me entertained. Even then, Rebecca Loose - or Loos or whatever she was called - famed for having an 'alleged' affair with David Beckham, had the decency to go to a toilet cubicle to get frisky with human sperm bank Callum Best. (Known for... er... well nothing but sleeping with starlets I think and always having a tan). She even had the sense to un-mic herself - obviously a pro at such illicit stolen moments. At the time it was scandalous. Well until she appeared on another show and masturbated a pig (they were running a farm obviously). I didn't catch this momentous piece of TV but at the time I remember thinking that we were stooping to an all time low with such 'entertainment.'

I had hoped the reality TV bubble would burst when it got to Big Brother 75 or whatever - I mean how many wannabe tragic 'I'm crazy meeeee' types could we dig up?

But when I read the double standards of some beauty queen being de-throned because she got frisky on TV (same show Love Island - or maybe should be called 'Peep show Island') but the guy is seen as stud, it makes me realise how the old double standards for men and women still exists.

But that's another issue. What concerns me is my kids are growing up in a world where it is deemed acceptable to screen people having sex - and also that there are people willing to do this. Who in no way seem to care about their future job prospects, relationships, families, or the fact that this footage will HAUNT THEM FOREVER.

I don't obviously watch this trash - I'm not judging those who do. I am judging ITV2 and any programme makers who seem to think this is what the British public want to watch; because the thought process will be - let's go bigger and better and wilder to attract more viewers and hype and column inches. What next I fear....

Recently I found an old Elle magazine dated in 1992. In it Vanessa Paradis is talking about wanting to have many kids, Tess Daly is a model and mercifully silent, Colin Firth has just landed a big role as John McCarthy in a new drama called 'Hostages.' It was the year BBC's Elderado was launched, Blind Date was still the riskiest show on TV and we all fell in love with the brand new show 'the Big Breakfast.' In those days, without the infinite amount of channels to choose from - the 4 we had didn't have to up the stakes to make headline worthy TV.  Blind Date simply relied on humour and innuendo and ran for 18 series.

I have never missed the 90s more... 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The world has gone a little bit Kanye

I went to bed on Thursday night pretty happy - I'd just had the most amazing weekend/ 4 days of my entire year (a brilliant 25th school reunion and a fab dinner/theatre evening with an amazing writer/hero/showrunner and her lovely sons) and this had lifted a somewhat hideous year to new heights. Plus I'd just had prosecco with a good chum and through my buzzy boozy mist I assumed all would be well with the world.

Then I woke up.

I spent Friday in a daze, just stunned by what had happened. Outside school my kids' headmistress looked gutted, as did any other sane rational, educated friend I met. Could Brexit have changed my opinion on people? After all, we are all entitled to our opinion. After all, we are a democracy and voted as such.

BUT. Two days later chatting to some people who voted leave (I only know 4 in total who did) and they shuddered at the thought of Boris and Trump in cahoots. I wanted to scream at them 'YOU VOTED FOR THIS YOU MORONS' - did people not think it through? Did they not see the list of people suggesting that leave was a good plan and think 'Hmmm Putin, Trump and Boris....' maybe it isn't such a good idea after all.

Now as 2 million regret their decision, the country is in meltdown, Cameron has resigned, Labour are in turmoil, the pound slumps, house prices dip and everyone scratches their heads and no one has any clue what to do next I look around, filled with anger thinking, 'why???'

I know deep down that a person's politics is not the sum total of who they are. My own father voted to leave - and I had to hang up on his the other day because he clearly hadn't thought it all through - but thankfully is not a racist twat who fears that migrants are taking his jobs and NHS hospital bed... I know that I should just smile and be like - good for you, you voted - you won. Good job! But I can't. I'm still too gutted. Too ashamed at what my country has become - what we look like to Europe and beyond. Too sad that my kids cannot now work in 27 different countries, that europeans in UK are facing hate crimes, that the narrow minded bigots have won the day.

As I reach for the Irish passport applications, I am hopeful that no one will invoke article 50. I am hopeful this is all one giant shambles soon to be reversed. That the country will make more sense than the Kanye twitter rant it now resembles. It can't get much worse.... or can it?