Monthly Archives: February 2017

Social Fakeworking

As you might have worked out, I’m not a lover of social media. The word itself ‘social’ derives from the Latin ‘socialis’ meaning belonging to a companion. This fact, I believe, puts it all into perspective. The misconception that ‘social media’ means you are socialising and interacting with a wide community; gaining popularity through likes and gaining insights into differing lifestyles is totally skewed. Instead the original meaning of belonging is nearer to the mark. Showcasing your life actually, says to me, we are all belonging to a cult. By putting ones life onto the WWW, everyone owns a piece of you. That means people think that this gives them poetic licence to say whatever they want about your life.

This would all be very well and good if we were all bona fide celebrities. All earning enough to support a small country. We aren’t though are we? We are all just bimbling through life and trying to enjoy it along the way. So why do we do it? What is the impact on our younger generation?

The cult of media is a dangerous thing. It gives people, who wouldn’t ordinarily speak out, a forum to be vocal. It also gives those gobshites who like the sound of their own voices. Thr ones who like to give you the benefit of their wisdom. The ones who assume (never make an ass of you and me) you know nothing. It provides a platform to spout rubbish about every subject under the sun (jack of all trades master of none springs to mind). Now I’m all for freedom of speech, but like Brexit and Trump, living in a democracy has its drawbacks; it allows idiots to vote. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. I can deal with the ill informed points of view. I can tolerate the bad punctuation and spelling (to a point). However, what I can’t abide are the nasty and vindictive things people ‘share’ (old English scearu meaning division – oh the irony) with others.

A couple of years ago Him got some bad press on one of these local sites. It could have been very easy to get dragged into a massive mud sling of barbed comments; all hidden behind our collective keyboards and monitors. With some investigation we could have retaliated with a similar attack on their businesses. But no. Instead Him took real action.

Him hates ‘social fakeworking’ more than me. He has had a couple of lacklustre attempts at it but in reality he likes face to face. Therefore, armed with evidence and a well rehearsed rhetoric, he approached the trolls (Old Norse ugly creature – how apt!) and asked them to explain themselves. (Him is a clever little sod, and as you might predict, he very quickly turned the situation around. They actually apologised and to this day are big supporters to his cause).

NB. This is a prime example of how to do it.

On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of how not to do it. Grown adults who should know better: waspish comments with bitter snakelike tongues; casting aspersions and narrow minded opinions; all because they think the world needs the benefit of their words (I know, I’m a fine one to talk). Jealousy, however, is usually the root cause; coupled with the fact that it’s very easy to hide behind an online persona.

But going back to my earlier question about the younger generation, it is them that this is affecting the most. The biggest job in the world is being a parent. It is the parent’s responsibility to guide their young. Provide healthy role models and examples. So how scary is it when these role models spend their time trolling?

To say I am shocked by the utter drivel and evil thoughts I see posted on a daily basis, is an understatement. My little L gave me some good advice once when I put my mouth into action before my brain into gear ‘mum, we all think it but nobody says it’ – sage advice from a 12 year old. She’s right though; why do people feel the need to say things with the purpose to hurt others? Children get caught up daily in some vile internet battles. Cyber bullying, inappropriate behaviour online and grooming, being one of the biggest problems facing schools at this time. The worst thing I hear is when the parents get involved and start sending messages to other children themselves.

I think it’s too easy. Too easy to access stuff so readily on our smartphones and tablets. Gone are the days when you’d come in from school, power up your computer and go for your tea whilst Pacman loads. Therefore, I think we need to start modelling healthy examples to our kids. We need to show that socialising is belonging and it’s about belonging to people who love, care and actually give a monkeys about your life. I think we should dump the media and just be social. After all, belonging is a positive thing. We all want to belong and we want our kids to have happy, healthy relationships. We want them to find their place and belong in this sometimes cruel world.

Wishes and Dreams

Be careful what you wish for and all that…

There was a time, circa 1992, when I was led to believe I’d be an international artist photographing lions, elephants and water buffalo on s daily basis. My grandad, who was in no way an intrepid traveller (apart from the war and a hilarious family holiday to Minorca), had every faith I’d fly solo around the world. I believed him. You see, he’d seen stuff.

Grandad. desperate to escape the mundanity of the coal face he tried London (not for him), before joining the Blackwatch. Hiking the rugged Scottish landscape, then sailing to India in 42, trekking the Himalayas, jungle warfare until 45, then sailing back through Suez in 46, to meet my dear Nana back in Yorkshire. He was the most spirited man I’ve ever known. So kind, funny and filled with hidden stories; he had an intelligence and steely interior that I greatly admired and trusted. So, when he said that’s what I should do, I believed I could. I wished that one day I’d be that successful.

Around the age of 22 I decided that my ultimate goal would be to become a Dame (I’d not even come close to the African dream but that didn’t stop me) Yes, don’t laugh, I held (and still do to some extent) an intense longing to meet HRH and to be handed the honour. Now, you can have your Kim Kardashian and I’ll see your Beyoncé, however, give me five minutes with Her Madge and Prince Phil and I would be cock-a-hoop. In this desire I by no means understood that I’d have to pull some serious good work and earn gold plated brownie points in life to attain my life goal. So, after some deliberation and pushing of the baby’s pram (this stuff kept me going on those colicky and teething nights), I devised a life plan. It was called ‘How to achieve all goals culminating in s Dame-hood by the time I die’.

Problem is life has a nasty way of throwing up stuff you have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, many beautiful and wondrous things have enriched and embellished my life. I can’t ever call it mundane or boring but neither am I in khaki with a camera zooming in on mating giraffes, or monkeys mothering their young. There’s no African savannah for me. With my aspirations managed by Him and my three children, my list had to change. They all told me there was no way I was allowed to be a war correspondent and they wouldn’t entertain a summer of me working in Greece with the refugees ‘Mum, we need you more’. How could I argue? So I dreamed new dreams. Thought about the attainable, how for us all to be happy.

This is where it gets messy though; we aren’t the luckiest of families and find everything comes at a price. What I mean is that every time one of my dreams has been realised (I really am lucky as rarely do dreams come true) that the brown kika (little E’s baby word for poo and chocolate) hits the fan.

One such dream was to live in a house on the beach. (I wished on every star and rubbed my Buddha daily) Also, this is a prime example of compromise. Ideally, I’d like a modest villa (I’m not greedy) on a white sandy beach. This could be in: the Caribbean, a Greek island, or a Sri Lankan beach. However, like I said, compromise…cut to me living in a three bedroom semi in a East coast seaside resort in Britain. So, egged on by Him and the kids, I put the semi on the market and started looking for a house on the beach.

8 years later (no joke that’s how long it took). After years of bad luck (you name it, it went wrong) one step forward; two back (pissing in the wind was often coined), I decided enough was enough.

This is where the caveat comes, because it worked. I refuse to apologise for what some might call ‘madness’.

I feel the need to contextualise; I absolutely love Greece. Therefore, I read anything about the place. Real or not real, I don’t care, I’m bloody obsessed. It was whilst reading one of my many books that I stumbled across the idea of removing (what I truly believed) to be the curse hanging over us. So one Sunday morning, I gathered the crew and explained we were going to perform a ritual. Raised eyebrows were aplenty, but they all not to mess with my superstitious ways. Armed with matches, salt and bay leaves, we began to remove the curse. The match was burnt and put into water. The resulting reaction proved, ladies and gentlemen, that I was right – we were cursed!! We then all said prayers, kept a bay leaf on our persons (until night when you put it under your pillow) and threw salt on the door steps. That night I slept like no other. I could feel (I’m not mad this is true) the stress, strain and worries being physically pulled from my head. I awoke optimistic and couldn’t wait to see what happened next…

Well, we only went and sold our house and bought a house on the end of the beach!! Brill, dreams come true. All those wishes on stars and rubbing of Buddha worked. I can walk to the end of our path and I’m walking in a nature reserve, which although not Africa, is rather magnificent and my doggy loves it (So would have my Grandad). For weeks I’ve been slipping along rather smugly thinking ‘yes’ we are on the lucky up.

Oh how wrong I was; poorly car, dodgy boiler and I’ve just spent the afternoon jet washing the drive to find out that it’s not been laid properly and the water had nowhere to go!! All of which are putting a large dent in my ‘shoebox appeal holiday fund’ (it’s in the bank so there’s no need to break in as the shoebox is now empty). And whilst I look at social media of photos of ‘friends’ on holiday, having a social life, I start to get a little mardy. (I’ve spent half term decorating and putting unicorn wallpaper up). I ask myself ‘did I wish for the wrong thing?’ And then I walk on the beach, or wake up to the sound of the sea and have to pinch myself…

Last night’s conversation says it all really:

Me: ‘oh god I’m knackered and now I’ve got to light the bloody candles.’

Him: ‘oh yeah, such hardships. That’s it force yourself to light all the candles in your gorgeous stone fireplace in your lovely house by the sea. Chuffing hell, some people have real problems!!’

My goodness, what a moaning whinge-bag I am; It’s a good job I have Him to keep me in check!! So, I’ve decided I’ll keep wishing (maybe have a go at the stopping moaning) you never know what’s next on my list to come true. Maybe the palace could call yet…


Do we perceive ourselves differently to how others see us? Of course we blinking do – it’s embarrassing!! This week, in my quest for self improvement, I got the shock of my life…

I live by a code of ethics. One example would be ‘Thou will not lie’ and ‘thou must be kind as everything is fighting a hidden battle’. Fair enough you might say. More obscure ones would be ‘Every morning, thou must make sure the elephant’s nose is pointing towards the door to bring health, wealth and happiness into thou’s house’. I am slightly paranoid about the ramifications of failing any of my ‘code’ (there are many on the list) I believe I will be struck down by lightning and never see my family again (or in hindsight, made to watch myself on film), if i don’t strictly adhere to the code. So when my trainee teacher was faced with the task of being videoed in the classroom, my thought was ‘thou would never ask anyone to do anything thou wouldn’t do thou self’.

Now then, the last time i was caught on camera was whilst dancing (with Him) after one too many birthday drinks. We were away for the weekend in a luxury lodge. The floor space was immense; I’m sure Strictly could have filmed on location there. Desperate for a 10 from Len, the exhibitionist In me wanted to steal the floor.

For those of you how don’t know me, I have historical status for my dancing – especially sans Smirnoff. However, Him is definitely not. After many years of beating him with my rhythm stick, and with a significant birthday on the horizon, it was agreed he would begin to embrace his backing dancer wife.

You see, for many years we argued (yes really, I can be quite hard work) when attending various functions. Dirty Dancing medleys would be launched around the time of the fifth vodka, my arms and head would start to wave (apparently that’s what I do) and I would propel myself onto the glittering dance floor. He would stand to one side, praying for no scene, hoping that some poor husband of a friend would take pity on me and allow me to attempt the famous lift. My passion for the floor culminated on the evening I danced around the Tina Turner tribute act, who offered me a job as her backing dancer…family and commitments stood between me and the bright lights of the working men’s club circuit. This year though, arm twisted, I had a sidekick in training.

We initially agreed that a song and dance routine was to be created and rehearsed. We chose a song, began to learn the words and we were on our way to a nice little party piece. I felt smug (new code ‘Smugness always comes before a fall; thou shalt not be smug’. Bolstered by our newly found confidence, we thought we were ready. So what we’d not done the whole routine yet? So what Him still had two left feet? We were invincible; we’d blow them away!!

We covered the floor with our newly found moves; strictly style. Him threw me around and we felt like Rico and Lola. That night I went to sleep all Tina Sparkle; I wanted the feathers, sequins and perma tan life. New routines whizzed through my head, aspirations of dancing competitions, Strictly Ballroom had always been one of our favourite films…

I can see now I’d gotten ahead of myself. ‘Thou must know pride always comes before a spectacular fall’. It was a couple of days later, one of my beautiful and oldest ‘friends’ sent me the video…

For the love of God, I was like a sack of spuds being wheeled around the warehouse floor. Where was my poise? Do I really look that untidy with my footwork? Always the harshest critic on any dance show (I have s particular issue with lines) I was mortified. Everything was wrong, wrong, wrong…how did I have any family or friends looking like that? Jesus, how did I even have a husband?

With this recent trauma in mind you’d think I’d have learnt. I’ll not go into too much detail but suffice to say I looked utterly ridiculous in front of my class. I sound (and look by the way I flap my hands) like a demented seal. How on earth do any of the 30 kids, at any given time, take me seriously? I’m sure OFSTED would give me RI just for my tone and facial expressions. God, if I knew me I’d hate me!!

Upshot is, with recent film traumas in mind I’ve decided the best course of action, to solve all major problems highlighted by recent filming (there were many) is ‘Thou shalt not ever be filmed ever again’. Therefore, I apologise to all of you wholeheartedly that I’m that difficult to watch and listen to. Thank you for persevering and I will endeavour to improve all aspects of oneself. And as for my previous aspirations for a TV/radio chat show…best stick to blogging.


This morning started like this:
Me ‘do I look older?’
Him ‘older than what?’
Me ‘my skin. Everyone my age has botox’
Him ‘they don’t look any better for it’
Me ‘but if I don’t have it will I look aged and haggard and everyone else looks stretched?’
Him ‘I see your point. Stay you though’
You see, that she is fast approaching. Hurtling towards me like there’s no tomorrow. Remember the opening credits to Madmen? The suit free falling to uncertainty? Well that’s me.
It’s not that I’m scared of growing, living, experiencing…it’s the way it makes my body feel and look.

There was another conversation…
Me ‘do I keep fit enough?’
Him ‘yeah, I’d say two classes, running and long dogs walks each week keep you fit. You eat healthy’
Me ‘ some people do classes daily. Sometimes twice daily’
Him ‘hmmm’, maybe stop worrying about what everyone else does and concentrate on yourself’ (Him is full of sage advice). That’s the other thing; I worry I’m not doing enough. Reading the social media feed I often angst over how ‘others’ seem to glide, wrinkle free, through life. Social calendars jammed; packed with weekends away, parties, holidays and meals out – all without worrying about standing out like a sore thumb, or the state of their bank balance. Just to go to the cinema I have to factor so many scenarios and outcomes in I end up putting it off through exhaustion!!

Now, at this point it is worth mentioning New Years Resolution number 1: To worry less.
Yes, maybe you haven’t worked it out but I’m a worrier. Every little thing from whether we’ll be warm enough without coats to wondering how to solve the Donald Trump situation unfolding over the Atlantic (yes, not my problem I know). I also worry about Theresa May, who I’m not keen on, but I’m not liking the negative press she’s getting for holding Trumps hand and inviting him for tea – she’s just being polite and nice like us Brits have been brought up to be. It’s basic manners!! Anyway, I digress. Worrying should be a thing of my past along with flared white jeans (don’t ask) and my shiny silver raving back pack. Therefore, this morning I laid guilt (yes, that too) and worry to one side and pleased my ageing self…

So, instead of running this morning, I took my doggy (and him) for a refreshing walk on the beach (I’ve pulled my back but needed the endorphins). We embraced the sand, water and beautiful bracing sea air. Down at the rock pools, it felt like we could have been on a beach in Greece. I pushed away concerns of the mud, my frown lines increasing from the sun and shunned away from applying the obligatory ‘can’t leave the house without it’ make up. It felt good. I didn’t care and the worry and guilt ebbed away.

Now don’t get me wrong. This feeling of embracing life might come from buying a ‘house practically on the beach’. – Something I’ve wanted for years (another story for another time). It also might have something to do with the fact that the sun was shining (Him says I’m controlled by the weather), but I don’t care (see I’m getting good at this). So what if everyone has smooth, stretched faces. So what that my feed up full of people squatting (I can squat and plank with the best of them but no one will ever see a picture of my sweaty workout bod!). So what that ‘everyone’ is constantly living it up all over the Lincolnshire wolds and beyond. I’m alright and although I’m free falling to that number we must never mention, I’ll hit it with a genuine smile on my face.