Monday, 29 August 2011


We went to ma-ma and pa-pa's where X announced that she wouldn't be calling them ma-ma and pa-pa any more because it is com-pill- ee-cated because people muddle them up with mummies and daddies.  

We had a wonderful weekend with my brother and sister and children (all too grown up to be called children) present and with much to celebrate with one 2.1 in architecture, one going off to do medicine, one going off to to business  studies and one going to Warwick to do A levels. As we put the hideous photo of the degree photo in the cabinet with all the others I said that I hoped they had mortar boards from hairdressing college for X. My mother sadly said she wouldn't be here to see it. 

Cousin Vicky played and played with X and when it was time to go X burst into sobs which didn't stop until we got to Chiswick an hour and a half later. She said that she didn't want to home home with me as it was boring without a brother or a sister. I reminded her she did actually have a sister, even if she doesn't live with her (half-sister, to be precise). She said:" she isn't my sister, I'm her sister because i'm just the little one and she is the big one." At least, I think that's what she said but when I asked her to repeat it she just sighed and said:" it's com-pill-ee-cated." Clearly I don't understand com-pill-ee-cated things. Later smiles returned with some fushia nail varnish. Apparently  the storm of tears were partly due to an interrupted manicure session with cousin Vicky. 

Friday, 26 August 2011


Just 10 little sticker flowers and roller skates will grow on trees............

Thursday, 25 August 2011


We have too many books in X's bedroom and I wanted to clear out the ones for babies. I asked her school what they wanted for the school fete- would books be any use? The school secretary shuddered: 'oh, no - please no books."

I went onto facebook to check out aluminae page of the primary where X is heading. It was disappointing to see that most hadn't learnt to spell the name of their school by the time they left. 

Our lovely local library has a much better idea.  X is well used to the library and the lovely staff even know her name, though sadly many of the people who work in the library are  being replaced by a machine like the one I also refuse to use in Sainsburys - they bring out my luddite tendencies.  X uses the library as a playground with her minder on regular basis, and also goes to with me, variously for loo breaks, places to shelter from the rain, eat a snack or just hang out on a bored sunday afternoon. Now, however we are actually borrowing books and even reading them. That's because of a great scheme called   which means that when X reads a book she gets to tell a librarian what she thought about it and get a sticker. I have to hold my hand across my mouth when this conversation happens as I tend to lead it and try to initiate the kind of analysis that my Mr Gibson, my tutor while reading English,  would probably be surprised I could achieve. I'm surprised that X is quite able to say what she thought herself and it definitely seems to have fired her up a bit. She was really keen to share a book about bottoms with a playmate today.  However, when we went on the website I lost the will to live. Maybe it is meant for older children but all that creating passwords and having to fill in all the names of the books and authors and everything all dressed up in the random gamification of a circus got on my nerves. But still a brilliant thing to do in the library. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Time off from bridesmaid duties. 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

My contribution to the museum of broken relationships.

A phial of my toxic blood. 

I was so desperate for his baby. He made me wait and wait, giving me just enough hope to keep hanging in there; we bought a house together, had a future. When he finally said we could try I was too old and had several miscarriages. He left me when I was pregnant for a much younger woman who was also pregnant with his child. My baby turned out not to be a baby at all but a possibly cancerous tumour growing around a piece of tooth or a hairball. Going (alone) for a scan and discovering, not just that your baby is dead but that, in fact, it never even was a baby and instead is a tumour around a hairball is a frightening version of a fairytale.

All blood races to the womb when you are pregnant to feed your  baby - or baby tumour, in my case. Hydratitform moles, as the tumours are called, cause a highly virulent cancer which spreads very fast throughout the whole body. For this reason for the next few years I had to go, once a month, and have my blood taken and then go somewhere else and have the serum spun, and then package it up and send it to a lab. 

It took me longer than five years to get over the loss of him and his babies, as I had such a strong picture of them in my head. Years before I had torn a picture of a little girl from a GAP ad. I thought she looked exactly like the child we would have. Strangely enough that child looks exactly like the one the children he had with the other woman, who became his wife. 

I don't know why this phial was never sent off, maybe it came after I had the all clear. I think I kept it because it was the big red light that finally stopped me wanting his baby. In the end my life was too precious to try to get pregnant again. 

The museum is a beautiful exercise in schadenfreude and I hope my exhibit is would have been a worthy addition. I'm not in the least sad about any of that now. I'm friends with the ex and his whole family and feel totally at one with the situation. I am happy with my gorgeous adopted daughter who has no connection to this toxic blood. Strangely, however, I'm too attached to my old blood to give it away. It's calcified, (or solidified or something even more gross) in the last few years and isn't really a beautiful thing.

I suppose it reminds me how lucky I am to have the life I am living now.  

This is the best review of the museum of broken relationships that I have read: 

Display of affection

Every object tells a story and none more so than the items donated by lovers (and ex-lovers) to Zagreb's new Museum of Broken Relationships
Zagreb museum
A garden gome after being hurled in fury at a windscreen - on show in the Zagreb Museum of Broken Relationships.
There are, no doubt, people who marry the first person who takes their fancy and spend the rest of their lives in unalloyed happiness. For them,Zagreb's newest museum will be baffling. But everybody else, which is to say almost everybody else, will know the feeling to which the Museum of Broken Relationships is dedicated. It is that miasma of guilt, nostalgia, anger and affection that comes of contemplating certain of our possessions.
They are often of little, if any, intrinsic worth, but they hold or held value because of who gave them to us. Whether we keep them, bin them or burn them in pentangles while chanting incantations and spritzing them with holy water, they will always mean something.
The exhibits in the Museum of Broken Relationships are as random and varied as the reasons people get together, and break up. Each item is presented with a summary of the dates and locations of the relationship, and annotations by their donors.
Some are funny. The caption on a suspender belt, purchased in Sarajevo in 2003, reflects: "I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had." Another, on a tin sold as "Love Incense", merely reads, "Doesn't work." Some are gleefully vindictive. The label by a blue Frisbee reads: "Darling, should you ever get the ridiculous idea to walk into a cultural institution like a museum for the first time in your life, you'll remember me." One or two are quietly devastating: a small, electronic dog tag, still flashing like a heart monitor, which was given to a man who left, by the woman who loved him, shortly before she killed herself.
The museum is the work of designer and artist Drazen Grubisic and film producer Olinka Vistica. One of the first exhibits is a small white wind-up rabbit – a relic of Grubisic and Vistica's own relationship, which foundered six years ago. The idea for the museum came, they tell me, from their discussions about splitting their possessions.
"It's easy to decide about stereos, and televisions," says Grubisic. "But what about these tokens?"
"And the memories they represent," adds Vistica, "how do you protect them from oblivion?"
zagreb museum axeFind out what a spurned lover did with this axe.
This question turned into an installation in a Zagreb biennale in 2006, then a travelling show which visited several countries, acquiring more objects, and more stories. The museum moved into this permanent home, in Gornji Grad – Zagreb's upper town, where most of what's worth seeing in the city is situated – last October. The location is at once convenient and appropriate: though it's only a short walk from here to the open-air market of Dolac and the cafe district of Tkalciceva Street, this part of Zagreb has a mournful, somewhat desolate air at this time of year. The cobbled streets between the handsome buildings are empty in the winter fog; the square around the 14th-century St Mark's church, a building best described as Legoland Gothic, is all but deserted.
On sale in the gift shop are T-shirts by young Croatian designers – they're heavy on teardrop motifs. The biggest-selling item, the receptionist says, is a white rubber with the words "bad memories eraser".
There's also a book of big, blank pages and a pen, so that visitors can add their own testimonies. This is as compelling as the exhibition itself, a compendium of disappointment and desolation, some lyrical, some pithy ("I think I still hate you, Darren").
The museum manages to come across as neither a playground for self-pity, nor an advocacy centre for mindlessly positive uplift. A modest manifesto on one wall suggests that it represents, rather, "a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation, by contributing to the museum's collection".
It is an exercise in schadenfreude and solidarity. There's always someone worse off, like the woman who was presented with a candy G-string ("After four years, he turned out to be as cheap and shabby as his presents"). And there are those clearly once beside themselves with anger or jealousy, who have bequeathed the axe with which they smashed the furniture, the wing mirror they wrenched off the car, the gnome injured after being hurled at a windscreen.
The museum's founders have plans to expand their remit to include artistic and cultural performances, to revive this part of Zagreb, and by way of acknowledgement that no other subject has inspired more literature, more music.
Grubisic and Vistica have stopped formally soliciting donations, but they receive them more or less constantly anyway: most recent was a collection of half-century old postcards, sent by an elderly woman in Yerevan, Armenia.
"Older people tend to take it more seriously," says Grubisic. "They are often really moved. Kids haven't had the experience. It's funny when couples come in. Some are laughing, but some … some are really thinking."
• The Museum of Broken Relationships (; entrance £2.50pp). Croatia Airlines ( flies from Gatwick and Heathrow to Zagreb from £85 return. Doubles at the historic Regent Esplanade hotel ( cost from £126

Monday, 8 August 2011

I was one of those who ram-raided Comet Tottenham on saturday evening and got some free loot. 

Yes, I'm talking about the Comet in this picture which was totally looted and gutted on saturday night. I'm gutted to see this, because on saturday at 5.10pm I crashed in there  on my own little retail ram raid. I bought a camera and got a great free deal. I used up the very last scrapings of my savings (no treats for ages)  but the old one had broken and my little girl is a bridesmaid next weekend, so I just went mad for a mad moment that I'll regret when the bank statement appears.   

I hate buying gadgets and loathe places like this but the sales staff at Comet were a perfectly synchronised, smooth and pleasing operation. They quickly identified my issue,  helped me find a solution- a camera I wouldn't have chosen without their help- and gave me the most incredible aftercare package that guarantees they'll replace the camera for up to three years, whatever the mishap. They tried to sell me a card and case package and, when I  balked, swiftly came up with a better offer and threw in an extra card for free. Totally modern, slick service, cleverly pared, efficiently marketed, diligently executed by well educated and well mannered staff, clearly efficiently managed, with everyone clearly going above and beyond and overtime in an effort to run a business in a recession that delivers a good service to their customers.  

Later on saturday that very same shop was looted by idiots who don't realise the power of cctv, tv and other bits of digital kit to snap their pics, capture their activities and shop them to the courts. At least the thieves won't get the 3 years aftersales service, or at least only at her majesties pleasure. If only the police and government was even half as efficient as Comet there would not be riots on the streets. 

The press coverage of the looters stupidity, funny though it is to see them strutting around parading their trainers on national tv as if it is a fashion show, seems to be allowing shoddy management of our city to go unnoticed. We live in an 'on demand' world, where we expect results there and then. The media give us tv news on demand, the police have on demand 'stop and search' rights, my own job demands ever shortening deadlines, greater productivity. Yet there appears to have been a total inability from the police to deal effectively with the calm demands of a family simply wanting to know how their son was killed. To leave peaceful protestors on the streets outside the police station hour after hour in the simmering heat of apparent injustice was a disgrace.

Apparently no statement could be made to the family because the senior policeman from Tottenham on saturday was off cooling his heels on holiday. Where is David Cameron? On holiday. Where is Boris? On holiday. London has a demanding problem that needs sorting and where are out leaders? All on holiday. I'm a single parent. I used to have a highly paid job but since the recession, I've had to work doubly hard for less than half my previous earnings. I can't afford to take my little one on a summer holiday, so little local treats mean a lot. The carnival we were so looking forward to this sunday was cancelled because of the riots. My friends wanted to see the venue where they are going to get married next saturday but it was shut because of the riots. No doubt the riots will end up costing inner city tax payers even more later this year. But what were the police doing to diffuse the situation? It appeared to be nothing. It also appears they are doing nothing to prevent the looting. They appear to be merely helping journalists take snaps to show on tv and in court. Big brothers working 'remotely' at the call of their own selfish demands while sunning themselves in foreign climes. 

Back in grim North East London it's hard to concentrate on the grind of daily work when the news feeds playing on computer terminals show live footage of looting in areas where my daughter is daycare and the windows show helicopters and smoke. The media and police choppers keep us awake at night, as they hang in the air, taking shots to play on tv and possibly use in court. The police seem to be in hand with the media, watching and recording, rather than preventing. Big Brothers, working remotely, probably on also blackberries just like the gang-leaders. 

Sack 'em all and get the management of Comet in to run the police and the country. The service will be more efficient, they can probably handle the digital media better and no doubt the pensions and holiday entitlement will be way less.

and then there is David Cameron, in Tuscany and Boris on vacation all dealing with the situation 'remotely', whilst un willing to break their summer holidays. 

Today at work in a digital agency in Shoreditch I gave up on the massive backload of work that was swamping me when the chuntering of the helicopters over Hakney togethe a group gathered around the screen of my 

Sunday, 7 August 2011


I was just looking at Garance Dore's blog. She has to be the most lovely fashion blogger ever and, as you can see, a brilliant illustrator.  X looked over my shoulder at the illustration I've swiped (sorry, Garance)  and said :'that's you mummy!' And she didn't even want sweets.... 

As, a knackered methuselah mum who's mirror declares: 'hag not shag' this was a fun moment. I think it might be the red lips: she likes playing with my lippies before bath and maybe the hat is a bit like my oh, so glam pvc rainhat.  X's comments aren't all so fabulous: last night she told me my bottom was 'wiggly', but I can live with wiggly.Wiggly sounds almost booty-like,or at least it is easier to tell myself that than ease up on the calorie intake. 

Anyway, thank you, Garance Dore,  for a nice mummy moment.

Friday, 5 August 2011


This holiday club is wonderful. It's full of fun teachers with plenty of ideas for talent shows and alien escapades. It just is all a bit full on for youngsters.

Last week X was full of being a 'big girl'. Over the last couple of days she must have said several times: 'I'm only little, mummy.' What plainer talk could I have that she's finding it a bit grown up for her. She told me that last night she dreamed that aliens were coming to get her. The day before yesterday she didn't even know what an alien was. What is fun for a seven year old is scary for a four year old. i wish I had kept her with her childminder but I was worried she'd find it dull with the babies, but she wouldn't have if she had been with K. It was a mistake, I think, but too late now. Next year she will probably be old enough for it.

Meanwhile she is regressing. She asked me for baby food for supper and the buggy came out too. I cuddled her all supper and fed her like a baby. She cried when I left her this morning. It makes my heart bleed and weep all at once. I waited three quarters of an hour hoping she would calm down and then finally just went. All day I felt a criminal,even though i rang and they said she had stopped crying just after I left.

When I got her this evening she seemed to have developed control freak tendencies and had the manic grin of a producer who's shoot is going slightly askew. She'd learned the word 'plans'. She had 'plans' for what we were going to have for supper, 'plans' for next week and 'plans' for her rabbit. She waved her hands around a lot like a little MD in a new business meeting. I tried to cuddle it all out of her all evening.

This morning her best friend K watched her crying with his big, serious eyes. He came and played near us on the climbing frame and entertained her with daring acts of swinging. After a while, when X was clinging and crying still, he looked at me and said, "just go..." with all the final ennui of an old man who has given up on help.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


We were walking around my parents village looking at the shops:
"Mummy, do you know what I want to do when I grow up?"
"I want to have a shop."
"Really?What will it sell?"
"Cards and pictures and pretty things."
I don't think anyone put the idea in her head- well, except they all play shopkeepers, I suppose. I'm all for the idea as I've always fancied having a shop like that too, maybe all girls do, but when I was just four and a half I don't think I even thought about being grown up let alone how I was going to earn a living when it happened. Good to see she is preparing. Maybe I should get in a financial advisor to start talking to her about her pension provision already...

Anyway, just for the record, when she is retailer of the year 2030 I would like it to be noted that she was dead set on this path right from four and a half.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


She is the littlest there and the older children are rough and tumble types, even I can tell that when I breeze in to pick her up. I said to her ( having talked to the staff) "if you want anything, to go to the loo, a drink, a hug, then you must ask the teachers." And guess what she did. She laughed right in my face. She thought I was very funny. Hilarious.

In what way am I rediculous? That's all I want to know. Am I rediculous because I talk about such silly irrelevant things? Or am I rediculous because she is in a terrible situation and she knows I am powerless to help?

Whichever way it is, here I am, work slut who can't say no to anyone, lying here seriously considering yet another week for her there over and above those she is already doing.

Monday, 1 August 2011


I've named a few products in my time so I know that it usually ends up happening by committee but what on earth possesses any group to name a children's holiday playscheme: 'The Factory?' Do they not understand parental guilt at all? Surely the idea of chlldren dodging spinning jennies to pick up bobbins is not a happy association? Lets leave the sweat shop labour for the parents, I reckon. And, anyway, the place doesn't look nearly as bad as a factory, it looks more like a nice open prison.

I was so proud of X when I picked her up from The Factory tonight. She was exhausted and grimy and had big scratches on both her knees but was still bravely smiling. Do little children in real sweat shops smile at the end of the day? Maybe sometimes they do. Children never fail to amaze like that. I like to imagine that some may even pretend to themselves they are having fun as they sew sequins onto jeans with nimble little fingers. I'm practiced in finding easy salves to my conscience. By the way, according to this recent Daily Mail article Nike are still using sweat shop labour: