Imagination Makes A Cloudy Day Sunny

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It is a happy talent to know how to play. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The 70’s was the decade of all things naff. Naff clothes. Naff decor. Naff gadgets with the height of luxury being a teasmade. Yet as hideous as it was with it’s tartan clad teens with wing spans for collars, children still enjoyed the best toy ever designed..

Imagination.

The 70’s was arguably a difficult era with strikes, three day weeks and the rise of Maggie and the Morons. Times were grim, even more so when Thatcher finally moved into number 10 in 1979.

Though times were difficult, we didn’t go without. We always had a toy on our birthdays and Santa didn’t disappoint at Christmas, despite Ma’s threats of having us put on the naughty list. We had pocket money every week which we had to earn by doing chores – mostly crap ones. Ma was SS trained and woe betide us if we moaned about doing them!

My mother was ALL about routine and her routine was cocked up something rotten during school holidays. She looked forward to the long summer one with the enthusiasm of an inmate on death row. Bless ‘er.

To be fair, we were annoying gits.

We lived in an old house with what seemed to me to be a massive garden. In retrospect it wasn’t that big it’s just that most things seem bigger from a child’s perspective, like Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.

There was a garage (separate from the house) which I wasn’t allowed to play in, not that it stopped me. To Dad, it was a place of sanctuary – somewhere to indulge his carpentry skills while Ma scoffed her way through a family sized bag of Revels during her monthly psycho do’s. To Ma, it was a place to banish him to when she wanted to watch The Gentle Touch. To me it was escapism.

One venture into the garage almost proved fatal because while I was having a root around one day, an old back door fell on top of me. By some miracle I was pulled out with just a scratch on my nose. My traumatised mother gave Dad a verbal lashing for leaving the garage door unlocked. I have no recollection of the door falling on me but Ma assured me that it did. Incidentally, a bang to the head would certainly explain a few things. Ha ha

From then on the garage was strictly out of bounds. Or so they thought because I knew where the key was kept. ;)

To this day the smell of engine oil and wood shavings are evocative of the hours I spent in there. When I wasn’t trying to kill myself under back-doors, I was reenacting my favourite TV shows, like Dallas. I could do a mean impression of Sue ‘AM GON KEEL YEEEW JR!’ in those days!

When I walked in it ceased to be a garage. It was like entering a musty old wardrobe full of moth-balled coats and walking out into Narnia. If only in my head..

I didn’t need other children to be able to play. In fact, I much preferred to play by myself. Other kids seriously cramped my style.

Toys of the 70’s were simple. Star Wars was one of the biggest films of the decade so there were the gratuitous naff toys to accompany it.  We didn’t have Kindles. We had comics and books. The highlight of my week was buying a new Enid Blyton and Christmas was never complete without an annual of some description. I do have a Kindle but I still get the biggest thrill from the old fashioned way of choosing actual books from a shop or using the library.

Technology?

Pong was as techno as it got. And it was shit.

Children watched Why Don’t You And Blue Peter for rainy day inspiration and they’d get all creative with a bog roll holder and some Plasticine. For me, rainy days were the perfect excuse to curl up for hours on end with my books because reading was where I found my bliss – escapism at it’s best.

While a part of me says you can stick your technology, another part of me is thankful for it because my son has autism and it’s proved invaluable to us.

It’s a myth that people with autism don’t have imagination. Some of the most creative and imaginative people have Aspergers Syndrome. Hans Christian Anderson, for example, is thought to have had it.

S has an elaborate inner world. It may be very different from the way his peers see the world it but in my opinion the autistic mind is a beautiful mind.

He has obsessions, the latest being Lego, or Legouch as I call it because I keep standing on the sodding stuff. Every day is about Lego, specifically Ninjago (Masters of Spinjitzu) have to give it the full title or he tells me off. He watches the cartoons then reenacts what he’s seen. He lives and breathes the stuff in the obsessive way that is a common of autistic children. I may be crippled from constantly standing on the stuff but at least he’s over his obsession with serial arsonist, Norman Price of Pontypandy. Small mercies, folks.

S is happy in his world. Technology helps him to cope with the real one a little bit more by providing a distraction from the overwhelming stimulus. However, there was a simplicity in the era of my childhood that no longer exists. We are living in a digital age where children choose to stay indoors over playing outside. I already find technology to be totally overwhelming and I fear that with each technological advance humanity will take one step closer to becoming disposable. A sobering thought, no?

Yes, the 70’s was a naff-fest in fashion, decor and, well, everything but children climbed trees and tired themselves out playing. In those days, most children knew how to play.

Image Credit by JD Hancock via Creative Commons

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Colour Me Beautiful (or just do your best, dear!)

6282476027_d203c9251d_zSome of the first changes I made to Mr Shambles’ man flat were to liberate it from the Cell-Block H grey windowsills and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp orange bathroom wall. You see, I knew how colour could transform a room and it’s the same with us..

Back in the day, I bought the Carole Jackson’s Colour Me Beautiful book and gave myself a mental breakdown trying to work out what ‘season’ I was. I finally decided that I was a Winter but promised myself that one day I would get my colours done professionally. Recently, Mr Shambles cranked open his wallet and offered to pay so I booked the appointment before he could say, ‘HOW MUCH?’

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This is what happens when a tomboy is forced to wear a pink skirt.

Over the past 30 odd years, I’ve found colours which suit me more than others. Aside a pink and green striped woolen skirt which I bought in the 1980’s (when I was most likely on a period) I haven’t really committed any fantastically hideous fashion crimes.

So maybe wearing a girlie pink skirt with my beloved American football shirt was a bit criminal but I was under orders to wear the sodding thing and arguing with Ma wasn’t an option. I was wearing it. End of. The result? I had a gob on me in every holiday photograph where I was wearing it. See picture opposite.

So I arrived at the consultant’s home studio, looking sweaty thanks to an air-con malfunction in the Shambles mobile. I’d been asked to take six tops with me, one of which I wasn’t comfortable wearing. Firstly, the she sat me on a stool in front of a full length mirror. Then she uttered these evil words..

‘OK if I take your make-up off?’

Bearing in mind that only a handful of people have EVER seen me without make-up, I hesitated long enough for her to know that, yes, it WOULD be traumatic, thank you very much!. I even wear my slap to put the bins out, for God’s sake!

And if you saw me au naturel you’d understand why.

After staring at me for a bit, she concluded that I was a ‘warm and clear’ which means that I have a yellow undertone to my skin (which I knew because I naturally look like my liver is packing in, innit) and so I need to wear make-up and clothes which have a yellow undertone. Pastel shades do nothing for me. As she said; ‘They make you look like you’re in dire need of a blood transfusion, dear!’

I was draped in the colours that suited me, then the ones that didn’t so I could see the difference and there was a distinct difference.

Scientificky bit…

Colour analysis is based on the 1898 color theory by artist and professor Albert Munsell. When the colour craze began in the 1980’s, there were only four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) which focused only on whether a person’s undertone was Warm or Cool. This worked well for some but for the majority of people (like me) it didn’t work so well.. hence the breakdown. It was later refined into a new theory:

IMG_0522Deep…Dark and rich.

Light…Light and delicate.

Soft…Soft & muted.

Clear…Clear & bright.

Warm…No cool undertones.

Cool…No warm undertone

I have green eyes (with brown in one of them) so I am a warm and clear when it comes to make-up. Having odd eyes suits my overall personality. They are are different, as am I. The consultant was really taken with them saying, ‘You have the most beautiful eyes, you should really make the most of those!’. *preens*

She went through my tops and told me I was already doing it right. The one I wasn’t sure of was a yellow one. Yellow is in my palette but it was too pale. The right yellow for me is the IN YOUR FACE yellow, DOUBLE YELLOW LINES, yellow.

I’ll pass on the yellow.

I can see how the experience can be life-changing for some women. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially once the menopause kicks in. Why spend time maintaining your bushy bits when you can sprawl out on the sofa in your leggings (with strained gusset) watching the entire box set of Desperate Housewives?

Ma would kick my lazy arse from heaven itself if I gave up on myself. She was applying the lippy even when she’d just had her insides removed due to cancer. She’s my role model. A proud woman who never gave up and neither will I. I intend to make the best of what she sacrificed her foo-foo for.

Most people need guidance now and then and I knew I needed help when I got an answer phone message saying ‘Hi, this is the 1980’s. Can we have our Azure Blue eyeliner back?’

Now I understand that using a cool blue on my green eyes means that people see the eyeliner instead of my eyes. Likewise, using a pink based foundation will only make it blatantly obvious that I’m wearing make-up and black mascara is way too dark for my eyes..

*throws away entire contents of make-up bag*

Having my colours done has given me a much needed boost. What I’m lacking in oestrgoen, I’m making up for with colour.  You take a book of colour swatches home so you can whip em out of your handbag when you shop, thus preventing hormonally imbalanced impulse buys that will end up in the charity shop still with the tags on.

Paying was a bit traumatic but all in all, it was a good experience. The consultant was absolutely lovely and later on in the year I will go back for the style consultation and DENY that I have EVER worn leggings.

‘With THESE thighs? No, dear!’

Or Scholl’s with socks.

Shhhhhhh it’s our little secret. ;)

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DON’T JUDGE ME!!!!

Header Photo Image Credit by Yann Gar via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Blog On

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The rather lovely Alison over at Rubbish Wife has most generously nominated my lil ol’ blog for an award. Yes, an award!

What is it?

The Liebster is basically an award for bloggers, by bloggers. There are trillions of blogs in the blogosphere but many (like mine) have a modest following. If the blogosphere was the sea, I’d be plankton!

The Liebster award shines the spotlight on our humble blogs and as awards go, I think it’s the best one out there. Not because it’s the only award my blog has ever been nominated for (or is likely to be) but because it reminds people that the small blogs are well worth a read. I’ve been blogging for a few years now and my face lights up when someone follows me. Not because I’m about followers (I’m not) but because it’s nice to know that someone actually wants to read my ramblings. The fact that one of those followers chose to nominate me because I made her laugh is reward enough for me. Do take a look at Alison’s website. She’s a bit good in the kitchen and scrolling through her fabulous recipes will have you re-thinking the sad looking fish-fingers and chips you’re about to serve up!

I started this blog after my mum died as a way of working through my grief. She died unexpectedly and I found myself in a bit of a shit-hole, mentally. I had to channel my grief into something productive before I ended up being carted off by the men in white suits. So Mummyshambles was created and it saved me from complete and utter lunacy.

What do you have to do?

It’s customary with these awards to nominate other blogs. It’s a chain thingy. I think my pelvic floor will collapse if I don’t keep it going. Oh wait, that’s already happened…

Of course, I’m joking. It’s just about bloggers showing fellow bloggers some love and giving their blogs some well deserved attention. So I’m nominating some blogs which have made me laugh, educated me or inspired me.

So in no particular order, my nominations are…

*stands poised, golden envelope in sweaty hands, pouts at the camera for longer than is necessary*

Starring G G tells it as it is. It’s real life, warts and all. Diverse and informative. Love it and so will you.

Just Good Enough Mum A wonderful blog by a wonderful lady who blogs about her life looking after her family and autism.

Starring Stella Stella blogs about her life as a wife and mum. She’s creative. She’s also a fantastic cook. Her posts inspire me to get off my arse and bake something.

Mark, Sonny and Luca Mark is a stay at home dad to two boys and writes to maintain some level of sanity. He writes with such humour that you’re in danger of choking on your toast, as I almost did!

These Are Grandma’s Thoughts A lovely blog filled with ‘funny, sometimes serious and sometimes sad’ thoughts of a young at heart grandma.

liebster5The nominator has to set some questions for the nominees to answer so here are Alison’s to me.

Tea or tipple? Pre-menopause, I’d have said tipple. Now I can only manage a pint of beer before falling into a coma. So I’ll say tea.

Which three words sum you up? Hormonally challenged idiot.

What would be number one on your bucket list? Getting locked in the potting shed with Alan Titchmarsh.

Tattoos..yay or nay? Yay because I have one (a small one on my back) nay to the head to toe tattooed look which looks like they’ve slept on a road atlas.

The last supper: What would you choose? Marmite on toast. Deal with it, people!

Snog, Marry, Avoid: who’s the weird crush you’d put on your laminate list. BE HONEST

Snog – Nick Rhodes. Not quite as pretty as he was in the 80’s but I still would. *puckers up*

Marry – Alan Titchmarsh. Yorkshire’s finest who can lay a decent patio. I actually got married a few weeks ago and waited for him to burst through the registry office door saying ‘Doont marry ‘im lass, marry uz!’ He mustn’t have got my e-mail. :/

Avoid – Gary Lineker – he’ll pinch yer crisps.

Nickname, what’s yours? Pootle. Actually, it isn’t. I don’t have one but if I could choose one, Pootle would be it.

Super-power for a day: what would you go for? Invisibility. The only super power that any self-respecting nosy git could ever want.

City break or beach babe? I’m a menopausal agoraphobic so neither.

If you could be famous, what would you like to be famous for? Finding a cure for menopausal insanity that doesn’t involve using horse piss.

Thanks. Alison, for these questions. You know a little bit more about me. aren’t you SO glad you asked?

Now it’s my turn to ask my nominees some questions. Muhaha.

1. Why did you start a blog?

2. What is your favourite quote of all time?

3. Has anybody ever told you you look like a celebrity? If so, who? (who do you look like, not who told you, obvs)

4. What is your favourite post that you’ve written? (provide link)

5. Name five people, alive or dead, that you’d like to meet.

6. Do you believe in ghosts?

7. If you were a character from a movie, who would you be?

8. What book would you want to be stranded on a desert island with?

9. Name your guilty celebrity crush.

10. Happiness is….

And that’s it. There are all kinds of ‘rules’ about Liebster floating about but to keep it simple you..

1. Thank whoever nominated you and link back to them.

2.  Swipe the Liebster image from their site and paste it onto yours.

3. Answer their probing questions as honestly or dishonestly as you see fit.

4. Choose people to nominate (should be blogs with followers of less then 200)

5. Ask them some probing questions

6. When your post is done, leave them a message on their blog (or Twitter) to let them know they’ve been nominated.

Bask in the knowledge that you just spread some love.

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Image Credit via Flickr by Davidlohr Bueso

Image credit Via Flickr by Sarah Reid

Love and Marriage

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“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

On Christmas Day 2013, OH went all emotional on me and asked me to marry him. I watched him wavering about on one knee and briefly wondered if Alan Titchmarsh was going to burst through the door, trowel in hand, shouting, ‘DOOANT MARRY ‘IM, CUM WI’ UZ LASS!’

This did not happen.

So I said, ‘Yeah, go on then’.

The plan was to remain engaged for a few years but then we came to do our wills earlier this year and found out that we’d have to pay again once we got married so I said ‘Sod THAT for a game of conkers, matey, we’ll do it now.’

So here I am, about to dip my toe in the marital pool for the second time but, to be honest, I feel a bit of a tit getting married at 45 years of age because I’m menopausal. I AM WITHOUT OESTROGEN, for God’s sake!

Me and OH have opted for a registry office wedding and as weddings go, it’s low key. Any lower and we’d be having it in McDonald’s. Even so, I’ve allowed myself a few bridal treats..

~The Dress~

Having been around the block more times than my old Yaris, I decided to leave the virginal white for ladies with, er, less miles on the clock.

So, in the absence of my mum, I dragged a reluctant OH into town and after ten minutes of effing and blinding trying to prise myself into a selection of dresses, I settled on my fourth choice which was a black and cream number. It’s floaty, stylish and more importantly, it disguises my mammoth rear-end and tree-trunk thighs. The downside is that it’s sleeveless and despite going all out with the dumbbells over the last few months.. my triceps are still refusing to come out from behind the flab, dammit!

~ The Coiffure ~

I’ve had my roots done and I’ll be in for a wash & blow job on the day of the wedding. No ‘up do’s. No tiaras. No frills. Simples and therefore, cheap.

~ Make-Up~

I’m doing my own, people. I’ve seen what passes for make-up trends these days and I don’t want OH thinking he’s marrying Lily Savage!

The only change to my usual make-up regime will be some waterproof mascara for when the tears start (when we have to PAY THE BILL) and some lipstick – menopausal red, to match my cheeks!

However, I have booked a lady to come and spray-tan me a few days before the wedding. This is because I have legs with varicose veins on them and it looks like I’ve slept on a road atlas, innit. I’ve never had a spray tan done professionally before and my own pathetic attempts at tanning have resulted in zebra style striping and fingers that look like I’m on 60 B&H a day. I’m hoping for ‘natural glow’ as opposed to looking like I’ve been creosoted. Fingers crossed!

~Shoes~

Black. Nuff said?

~Bag~

Has to be big enough to hold: mobile phone, wet-wipes, plasters, tissues, lipstick, pit spray, brush, Rescue Remedy, Tena pads, emergency bog roll and S’ paraphernalia including Kindle, Nintendo DS, headphones, cuddly toy, snacks, drinks, Lego *pauses for breath*

Do they do holdalls in black suede?

~ Flowers ‘n’ Stuff ~

Originally, I wasn’t going to bother with flowers. Then I decided to have a posy made up for me and a buttonhole for OH. My posy will go on mum and dad’s grave and OH’s buttonhole, on his mum’s. I feel sad that they can’t be here to celebrate our special day but I know they will be with us in spirit.

What the day lacks in pomp and ceremony, I hope it will more than make up for with fun and laughter because that’s what I want to remember when I look back on the day. Hopefully nobody gets mullered and ends up in the pool minus their Speedo’s but seeing as I can only manage a pint without falling into a coma these days (and I can’t swim) I can rest easy that at least it won’t be me.

It’s been hard not having my mum here to help me plan things. I miss her beyond words. I miss them both, so much.

Life can be a heartless bitch at times but it’s what we make of the rest of it that matters. I’m here because my parents loved each other and the best way that I can honour them on my wedding day is to enjoy it and make some happy memories. It’s what they’d want. It’s what any parent would want for their child, no matter how old they are.

~ Words of Thanks ~

Ma would be happy to know that I’ve made some wonderful friends including some amazing online ones and a few in ‘real life’. One friend is making our wedding cake as a gift. Another has offered to mind S for a few hours if it gets too much for him and we have been given the most beautiful picture as a gift from a lady who I’ve never met but feel like I’ve always known. I’ll treasure it, always.

Finally, I’d like to thank my long suffering OH who still wants to marry me, despite having more than than enough evidence to have me put away in a secure psychiatric unit. Not many men would put up with my shit but he does a magnificent job of tolerating me. Hopefully we’ll reach a fine old age without one of us having put the other under the patio but I’ve measured it up, just in case.

Of course I’m KIDDING!

Or am I?

To be continued….

Image Credit by Jo Christian Oterhals Via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Shining Star

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You’re a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be ~ Shining Star ~ Earth Wind and Fire

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been three years since I sat on the stairs listening to my little boy trash his bedroom in rage..

I remember staring at a big dent in the wall where he’d smashed the door back with such force that it knocked the plaster out. The fact that it was a rented house only added to the stress of the situation because ,at this rate, we would be kissing goodbye to our £450 bond.

My head felt sore from where he’d yanked my hair hair out and I had absolutely no idea why my child (who had been happy and smiling one minute) was now angrily launching his toys against the bedroom wall (I’d removed anything that could cause damage to him or the house, obvs) Was it something I’d done or said? Seemingly it came out of the blue..

Similar incidents had happened before but never to this degree. I’d experienced toddler tantrums with C but this was wasn’t in the same league and C’s tantrums were spectacularly bad.

I was unable to calm S down and it was impossible to reason with him. Bribery? That failed as well. Ma had died the year before so I could no longer lean on her for support while OH was at work. Never in my 24 years of being a mother had I felt so alone or such a failure. It was a difficult day, to say the least.

Only it wasn’t a tantrum.. it was a meltdown and S was diagnosed with ASD and Sensory Processing Disorder a year and half later. Finally it all made sense. I wasn’t a shit mother. My child was autistic!

I have documented S’ journey from diagnosis in this blog. We have had nothing but love and support from the onset from the professionals and the school. Knowing that a lot of parents struggle to get the right support for their autistic children, I count ourselves fortunate.

When S started school, he had major problems with the worst being social and communication. It became obvious that the 15 hours of support (as per his statement) weren’t enough. He had support in the morning but was out of control in the afternoon, especially at playtime’s or during other unstructured activities. I was getting regular phone calls to go and calm him down. The school requested more support, which they were granted, and then things improved in the afternoons as well.

The school have concentrated on his strength, which is maths. Last year, he wowed the school by being able to recite the entire twelve times table! Not many five year old’s can do that. I’m 44 and I STILL can’t do that but then, I’m thick, innit..

When he started school, he couldn’t take turns. He couldn’t share. He lashed out. He had meltdowns throughout the day and he wouldn’t write or attend assemblies..

Two years later he is a different child. He will take turns. He will share. He doesn’t lash out as much. His meltdowns have reduced. He still doesn’t do assemblies but the teachers understand that forcing him to do something which he can’t cope with is a recipe for disaster. One meltdown generally makes him unreceptive for hours, which means he doesn’t learn anything.

There has been an improvement in his writing as well…

Half-way through this year he was doing most of his work on the computer as he was refusing to write and most attempts to encourage him would end in meltdown. One day he decided he wanted to do it. He still holds the pencil cack-handed but the important thing is that, not only is he writing, but it’s voluntary!

I watched him write his dad’s name on his birthday card a few weeks ago. I watched in amazement as he curled the letters for the first time that I’d seen. Maybe most parents of six year old children won’t understand the importance of this but for parents like me, the smallest acts are usually the ones which stop us in our tracks..The wordDaddy’ written without help, prompting or melt-down changed a fairly mundane day into a momentous day.

S continues to use numbers as comfort. He is never without one in some form or other. His blackboard is a mass of sums, a stick picture of me (with my age above my head – 44 – Ahem!) and him holding my hand with his age above his head. I’m maths phobic. I HATE maths. Algebra? What the hell is that about? But the little Numberjack can’t get enough of the ‘M’ word!

Without the wonderful support he’s had, he wouldn’t be the boy we know today. He is proof of what early intervention can achieve when it comes to autism and special needs. He is different but he’s accepted and loved. He copes with his day because those around him understand his limits. He’s getting better at understanding them himself but still has bad days, like yesterday when he had a meltdown and lashed out at his special teacher. He hid under a blanket for a while because he didn’t like how it made him feel to lose control and when he came out, he did French. He NEVER does French because he doesn’t like how the words sound. Truth be told, neither did I. I wasn’t overly enthralled with French either but mostly because the teacher used to throw his briefcase across the room to get our attention, la psycho.

The class has a ‘Star of the Day’ award system which rewards good behaviour or work with being able to take in something of their choice to ‘show and tell’ the next day. S has many of these awards with the latest one awarded for doing French.

I think that all little children are stars. Their innocence shines light into a world that can sometimes be dark. Sadly, they morph into teenagers and the innocence is replaced with gobby one word answers like ‘So!’, ‘Because!’ and ‘Whatever!’ Not forgetting the standard phrase of the teenager on not getting their own way…

‘I HATE YOU, YOU’VE TOTALLY RUINED MY ENTIRE LIFE, I WISH I’D NEVER BEEN BORN!!!!’ *slam* *bang* *wollop*

I have no idea where S’ journey will take him or what form his teenage angst will take. I’m just enjoying who he is now because he is happy, therefore, I am happy and I am never more happy than when he flings his arms out to me and showers me in kisses in full view of all the other parents at school. He’s my star of the day, everyday.

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Creative Commons Image by Neal Fowler

Confessions of a School Caretaker

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother. Call me old fashioned but I totally bought into the whole ‘homemaker’ vibe. However, fate had other ideas and when my then husband became ill. I had no choice but to work part-time to makes ends meet. One of my jobs was a school caretaker. Yes, school caretaker! Not all school caretakers look like Argus Filch!

Some are 5ft 1″, brunette and wear Reeboks..

The school was purpose built in 1939, just before the second world war broke out. The Anderson shelter wasn’t dismantled and filled in until the 1980’s. That’s one of the things I loved about the place, it’s history.

When I started working there in 1995, it had hardly changed at all since it was built. Part of my job was to maintain an ambient room temperature which is sort of impossible when you have menopausal staff who are shivering one minute and flinging off their cardies the next. Nightmare!

Although most of my work was mostly done around school hours, sometimes I’d nip down to do some gardening and it was a joy to listen to the children singing nursery rhymes. It was hard to believe that one day those little angels would become moody, acne-ridden, angst filled arse-holes, like I was.

The downside to the job was having to deal with vandalism..

Each Monday morning I’d apprehensively open the gate and hope that the local louts hadn’t been up to their usual tricks of kicking in fence panels, or worse, smashing in windows. Once, I found an old mattress and some used condoms behind the shed. The. Dirty. Bastards.

Shagging someone on a stained mattress in the grounds of a nursery school?

Classy, no?

The empty cans of Tesco Value lager gave some clue as to the level of ‘chav’ I was dealing with. That said, at least they were using condoms so I suppose there was some degree of intelligence in there.. After a minute of intense effing, I snapped on several pairs of Marigolds, scooped up the offending ‘joy bags’ with a shovel and marched across the playground in the direction of the bins. As soon as I got home, I plunged my hands in disinfectant. The council came and carted away the mattress of shame and we planted the area with prickly shrubs as a shag deterrent. Only a complete idiot would risk puncturing his clackers on that lot!

My strangest find were some photographs of a lady that I found scattered over the grass one morning. I couldn’t go around the neighbouring houses knocking on doors asking who they belonged to cus, well, they were a bit saucy, innit!

I decided to take advice from the head teacher, who almost choked on her Polo mint when she saw the lady resplendent in her suspenders and DD peep-hole bra. She concluded that it was best to deny all knowledge of them and fed them through the shredder. Sorted.

One of the cutest moments was when I was changing the paper towels in the toilets and one cute little boy held out his painting to me and said. ‘Hold this, Mrs lady, I’m going for a poo!’ Just wonderful.

Originally, the school had three intakes of forty children a year but nursery classes being opened within nearby primary schools meant that numbers started to dwindle. The council took the decision to close the school when the intake dropped to 25 saying that it was no longer financially viable. Despite a petition put forward from thousands of people, many of whom had attended the school themselves, the council pressed ahead with it’s plans to close and on a summer’s day in July 2005, after 66 happy years, the nursery closed.

Nurseryedit

Happy memories of the nursery at Christmas circa 1940’s

During the big ‘clear out’ the head called me into her office and showed me some of the log books she’d found from during the war. Everything was written down. The nit nurse was mentioned a LOT. But one entry stood out to me the most. It simply said, ‘The children had their tea in the air raid shelter’. Imagine that?

I felt emotional as I stood looking round the empty building on that last day. A building which for so many years had been full of life and laughter. The walls, once adorned with paint (and dried pasta), were now stripped bare and there was an echo to the room that only comes with emptiness.

As I walked through each room, I could hear children’s voices (not literally, I’m not that bonkers, yet) I could hear their squeals of joy as they sped around on the trikes and the ear-piercing shrieks as they shoved each other over on the playground. I heard the rumble of the prams and the shrill sound of the teacher’s whistle. I saw C running with his egg and spoon on sports day looking as camp as a row of tents with his floppy wrist. I saw K, sat there with a tea-towel on his head, picking his nose through the ENTIRE nativity play!

Good memories..

I was a good caretaker. I was proud of what I’d achieved and having a touch of OCD came in especially handy when it came to locking up. There were no unlocked doors or windows on MY watch, ever!

However, it did take me about an hour to do my checks and re-checks…

With a heavy heart, I closed the gate for the last time and I allowed myself one last look before another chapter in my life closed.

I doubt that I will ever find a job like that. I loved every second of it. Going to work in the morning was never a chore. I loved the building. I loved the people I worked with. I loved how I ended up on the annual school tea-towel, standing there with my tiny broom and enormous arms poking out of my head..

The building sat empty for quite a while. The privets became overgrown and the cherry blossom leaves blew around because I wasn’t there to pick them up. It was sad to see. Then one day I noticed that the privets had been cut and a shiny new sign was in place of our old one. It had been bought as a private day nursery! I TOTALLY love that the building still knows the sound of children’s laughter. A new chapter in it’s life and long may it continue…I am proud to be part of it’s history.

A pity they let the old punishments die. Was a time detention would find you hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming ~ Argus Filch ~ Miserable git caretaker in Harry Potter

mumturnedmom

The Great Escape

Garden Spid (531x800)blogIt’s commonly known that the only fears we are born with are the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Any other phobia is learned..

My phobia of spiders can’t have been learned from my parents as neither were afraid of them. However, I do remember my brother screaming like a girl at a 1D concert at the sight of the teeniest one on his bedroom wall. So I’ll blame him.

My earliest memory is when I felt one crawling around in my nightie. Long story short, I screamed the place down, Ma bowled in and mashed it into the carpet. Hello, phobia!

Every time I screamed at the sight of a spider, Ma would storm in, grab it with a piece of bog roll and fling it down the toilet. With each flush, I felt a pang of guilt that it’s life had been ended because of my irrational fear. Dad used to liberate them back into the garden. I preferred his way to ma’s gung-ho approach. Spray it. Swot it. Annihilate it. That was Ma’s motto.

Rumour had it that she’d had a bit of an unfavourable experience with an Alsatian once and it made her intolerant to anything with more than two legs. Also, she couldn’t be arsed coaxing insects into glasses when Corrie was about to come on. No live pause in those days!

But karma’s a bitch because one summers day, Ma had been gardening and she’d kicked her slippers off in the garage. Task completed, she went to put a slipper back on and was stung on the toe by a startled bee who’d crawled inside. We heard her shout ‘YOU LITTLE SOD!!’ (which instantly put us kids on the defensive) and then she went all Chuck Norris on it with the other slipper. Ma would have had a shit load of apologising to do before she got to go through those heavenly gates!

But THE incident which still leaves me cold is this..

Tarantulas first came into my life in 1987 when ex-hubs bought one after his father had died. Despite being phobic, I didn’t have the heart to argue. Sadly, after a few years of trying to cope (and the knowledge that females can live for 25 years) my anxiety got the better of me and hub’s brother adopted her.

Fast forward to 2007 where, in a cruel twist of fate, I discovered that the new man in my life had four of the bastards In his BEDROOM!

I had a choice. I could either put as much distance between him and his crawlies as possible or I could try to conquer this phobia once and for all.

Again, I tried but despite my best efforts, the anxieties crept in and the paranoia of one of them escaping and suffocating me in my sleep terrified me. Obviously I wasn’t the spider’s biggest fan but it was a sad day when I saw that one had joined the choir invisible. There was no chance of me putting my hand in and fishing it out but I did feel a twang of sadness that this little creature had died.

We lost another after we moved house. The shock of being carted about may have proved too much for it or maybe it was a male who had simply come to the end of his life as they have a significantly shorter life span compared to females. My bet was the years of trauma on having to see OH’s arse peeking out from under the duvet had finally seen it off.

By the time we had little man we were down to two spiders, in tanks, still in the bedroom. I piled books onto the lids to thwart any attempts at escape and slept with one eye open. All was well. As well as it can be in a room with f**king arachnids, that is!

Except that OH didn’t quite close the lid properly one night and I woke up to the sight of a couple of tarantula legs doing the can-can through the smallest of gaps. I was rendered motionless with fear. My WORST nightmare was coming true…

It was ESCAPING!!! (one more ! for emphasis)

Before long, there were SIX legs poking out and I broke all kinds of world records getting out of bed. I grabbed a sleeping S out of his cot and on last glance before slamming the door shut, the cheeky sod was legging it along the bookcase!

Hysteria kicked in and I kept slapping my face to make sure I hadn’t actually died and this was my personal hell brought on by my years of snitching it’s family members up to Ma. I was on my own, with a baby, and OH was stuck in a meeting miles away so I phoned the only other spider appreciator that I knew.. ex hubs!

The spider was now at large in the bedroom but ex-hubs strode in there like Bear Grylls. Granted, he almost trod on him as he was the same shade as the carpet, but he captured him and bunged him back in his tank. For this, I am eternally grateful for him and his lovely partner for coming to my rescue.

OH got the bollocking of his life when he got back home..

I named the spider, ‘Cooler King’ after Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape because, as escapes go, it’s up there with the best.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of the escape or the shock of coming into direct contact with OH’s dirty undies but Cooler King didn’t live much longer before scuttling off into the big ol’ web in the sky. The ultimate escape, bless ‘im.

Having faced my worst nightmare (sort of) I’m not as scared of them as I was but I’d probably still die if one dropped onto my face. Not to mention the dreams I occasionally have of spiders escaping from tanks…

Hopefully, this post wont give YOU nightmares!

mumturnedmom

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now..

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I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!

This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

~ Infants ~

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.

Gymnastics – Once a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had vommed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Ma bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. Er, go me!

~ Juniors ~

The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..

Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.

For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.

Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet chock-a-block with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.

Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay ‘with sweat’, we paid with detention! She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.

Hockey – I knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.

Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.

High Jump – Spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required first aid.

Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 Metre Sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’

Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like Ma had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.

The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.

It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.

High School

My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Ma), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.

Nuff said?

Creative Commons Photo Credit ~ ‘Pete’

mumturnedmom

You Want To Put That Camera Up My What?

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I saw the gastroenterologist on Monday and gave him my list of symptoms that I’d typed up via a Word document. Mr Gastro was most impressed with my graphic descriptions. “Well described!”, he said. I preened a bit.

‘Are you thinking cancer?’, he asked. I answered truthfully, ‘Yes!’.

Mr Gastro then ordered a colonoscopy.

At the mere mention of the word, my bum cheeks involuntarily clenched and my bum-hole snapped shut faster than a Venus Flytrap. You see, I’d consulted Dr Google a few (hundred) times leading up to the appointment so I knew exactly what it entailed.

Mr Gastro told me that he doesn’t think it’s cancer. I told him that while I appreciated that he was trying to put my mind at ease..both my parents had cancer. Dad’s being the aggressive kind which saw him trundling along the conveyor belt in the crematorium within six months of being diagnosed.

He didn’t try and fob me off with IBS. In fact, he never mentioned it. He thinks my symptoms require a closer look and by closer look, it means shoving a camera up my bum.

He proceeded to tell me what he thinks it is. Which is that my bum and stomach are ‘not communicating with each other. Typical, even my insides have social interaction issues!

At this point he told the nurse to make it a combined colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Basically, a camera up the chuff and one down the throat in the same appointment, folks.

If the tests come back clear, he will refer me to a specialist to sort out the ‘communication’ problems.

So I’ve been issued with some preparation (stuff what gives you the shits) and I have to wait a decade for an appointment to come through, as there is apparently a huge waiting list. I’ll probably die of old age before I get one. Or the Tories will have killed off the NHS in which case, I’ll have to flog a kidney to sort my bowels out.

In the meantime, I am tormenting myself with the gloom and doom from off the net…

Colonoscopies aren’t the most pleasant (or dignified) of procedures. You have to eat a special diet two days before the test and then you drink the preparation and wait for the world to fall out of your backside. Not looking forward to that, truth be told, but at least I’ll briefly be able to get into those skinny jeans I bought in a moment of denial last year.

No doubt I’ll be made to wear one of those ridiculous gowns that make you look like a complete twonk. Incidentally, I put one on the wrong way for a gynae examination and ended up flashing my minnie to a corridor full of old people. The nurse frog marched me back into the cubicle before one of them had a coronary.

To say I’m anxious is an understatement of massive proportions. They’ll be no need for that preparation because I’ll have shit myself dry with worry by then.

I’ve had procedures done before. I’ve been under GA twice and had umpteen people poking around in my insides. I’ve had an emergency C section and given birth TWICE, all without fear but now I’m a wimp and I blame the menopause because when my oestrogen buggered off, so did my bottle!

A colonoscopy involves a thin flexible tube being coaxed around the bowel. It allows them to see what’s what and you can watch it on the monitor if you wish…

Er, no ta.

I’d rather watch the box set of Geordie Shore, without sedation.

It can find ulcers, polyps, inflammation and tumors. It is the most effective way to diagnose cancer of the bowel.

My Googling sessions have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages are the numerous people who say ‘Colonoscopy? Walk in the park! Didn’t even know they’d been in!’ He he.

The disadvantages are the people who, for whatever reason, have had the experience from hell and feel the need to put the fear of God into everybody else.

There will always be these stories, not just to do with Colonoscopies, but with most things. There are risks with this procedure but there are risks with all procedures. My dad’s misdiagnosis’s shook my faith in doctors but maybe I should focus instead on the fact that they probably saved the life of my youngest son who had to be born via emergency C section because I was bleeding internally, my eldest who had a testicular torsion and my middle son who was hospitalised as a baby with gastroenteritis. Mum’s cancer was caught early. My dad was extremely unlucky but I do have more to be thankful for than not.

I rationalise that given my symptoms, it’s probably wise to go through with it. Chances are it’s not anything sinister but leaving it to chance isn’t a risk I should be taking given my family history.

So I have to find a way to keep myself relatively calm over the next few months until it’s all over. My coping mechanism is to find the humour in the situation. Tell a few crap jokes. (ha ha) Also, I make no apologies for talking about matters of the arse because I think that we don’t talk about it enough. We get embarrassed about bum stuff and that costs time and ultimately, lives.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m bricking it, and I’ll probably have talked myself out of doing it by the time the appointment comes. So I need people to tell me to stop being such a silly cow about it.

I’ll tell myself it will all be OK. I’ll wear the silly pants and try not to die of embarrassment when the air that’s been pumped into my bowels explodes in the consultant’s face. Another perk..

When I saw Sara’s (Mumturnedmom) prompt was calm, it reminded me that I must try to be as calm as possible or I’ll end up running out of the hospital still wearing my paper pants and flashers gown.

Going for an Eartha Kitt ~ Jim Royle

mumturnedmom

The Play, The Protest and The Song

When my eldest strutted around his primary school hall as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the early nineties, little did I know that one day his passion for acting would become a career.

So it was with immense pride that I took my seat in the Lowry theatre in Manchester on Saturday night while I waited for him to enter the stage as Edgar in the Northern Broadsides production of Shakespeare’s King Lear.FullSizeRender(1)

When he walks out onto the stage, the audience see ‘Jack’. I see a boy who’s arse I’ve wiped and who’s tears I’ve dried. I see my little boy all grown up. It’s quite a surreal experience…

Despite seeing him perform numerous times, the thrill never gets old. I again had to resist the urge to whistle and shout “Ey up Son!” as he walked on. I believe such behaviour is frowned upon. As is wearing a T shirt with ‘I’m Jack’s mum’. I’ve been threatened with disownment if do..

Directed by Jonathan Miller (I’m a bit of a philistine when it comes to theatre but seems the bloke’s got a decent enough CV) it’s Lear but with a northern twist. Northern Broadsides was founded in 1992 by Barry Rutter (who plays Lear). He’s an actor/director and famously cast Lenny Henry as Othello in 2009.

A great cast, complete with some heaving bosoms and obligatory semi-nakedness (courtesy of my son) Yep, kit off, once again! His complex character of Edgar showcased his range and ability to switch flawlessly between roles. Obvious parental bias aside, he aint ‘alf good at this acting lark!

My son, K, is a photographer and the lad’s got a talent for it. Photography is his chosen career having graduated from university last year with some impressive grades. I am immensely proud of him and so pleased that another one of my children is making dollar from doing what they love. I hope he makes enough to put me in a decent old people’s home. Hint. Hint.anti-tory-protest-70 (401x600)

Unless you were visiting another planet last week, you’ll be aware of the general election and the Anti-Tory protest that happened the day after David Cameron snatched back the keys to Downing Street. My son was there in his capacity as a photographer and took shots from the start of the protest to it’s end. Somewhere along the way he found himself ‘kettled’ by riot police. He told me he’d been kettled and I envisioned a copper giving him a clout with the station kettle. Apparently not.. Kettling is a tactic police use for controlling large crowds, such as protests, but it’s seen as controversial because innocent bystanders (like my son) get detained alongside protesters.

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He put all his shots into a blog post and gave his honest account of the day as seen as a photographer. The media didn’t show people singing and dancing. They didn’t show the peaceful side to the protest. They didn’t always show the unnecessary force used by the police.

K’s photographs show how things can turn from the good, to the bad, to the downright ugly. This was a peaceful protest, marred by a few individual morons, one who defaced a war memorial. An unforgivable and disrespectful act which the media chose to focus on, giving the impression that the person who did that represented everybody else. Not so. K was genuinely shocked at some of the things he saw. I’m proud of him for speaking out and showing what really happened instead of what the media brainwashes us with.

His blog post has been shared over 700 times on social media.

And last (but in no way least) is my youngest son’s achievement this week.

I opened S’ school home-book to read that he’d sang a song in the hall.FullSizeRender(2)

What’s the big deal? I hear you ask.

Well, S is autistic and he struggles with noise. He doesn’t go into assemblies and hasn’t been able to take part in any of the concerts so far. However, sometimes, when he gets obsessed by something, he is able to override his discomfort for a brief time. The topic this month has been about Kenya and for some reason, he’s really taken to it, so much so that he was able to go into the hall with all his friends and sing the ‘Jambo Bwana’ song on Wednesday.

This is a MASSIVE accomplishment for him.

It doesn’t matter that he couldn’t do PE that afternoon or that he had to comfort himself with his numbers in order to come down from the excitement. Those few minutes where he chose to engage with everyone else made it a fantastic day!

Yesterday was recorded as a “tricky day” which means he’s struggled but this is how it goes with his autism. One step forward and a few steps back but we focus on his accomplishments, no matter how small.

Way to go, my little dude!

As parents, we’re all proud of our children’s achievements.

My biggest achievement has been my three boys. Each one an individual and each one leaving their mark on the world in their own special way. I couldn’t be any prouder of my boys.

Thank you Mama Owl for this opportunity to ‘big up’ my kids! ;)

The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval ~ Denis Waitly

Protest Images by my son used with kind permission, as in, I asked and he said “Yeah, Ma, don’t worry, I’m hardly going to sue my own mother ha ha”

Mama Owl