Thursday, 30 June 2011

I want my MUM!

I’m having one of those days.  The ones where you want someone to just give you a big hug.  My elbow is sore from my little accident yesterday (and I keep forgetting and bashing it on the table!), and my leg looks a mess.  And I’ve got so much to do, but don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere with it…

During the ‘happy’ days of my marriage, my husband would have given me that hug.  But as I’m now single, I have that overwhelming “I want my Mum” feeling. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Mum and my sibling lives abroad.  Even as a child I was on my own at home, as the sibling went to boarding school when I was 3. 

My ex-husband was an only child, and barely saw his parents.  So from the outset of our relationship, we were all of those people to each other.  It made us tight knit and very dependent on each other.  We shared and were interested in the minutiae of each other’s lives.  Possibly more so than people who have a Mum or sibling to share “stuff” with.

Over the years, I have been fascinated by the close relationships that many of my girlfriends have with their mothers.  During the early years of my being a mother, I admit to feeling a bit empty when I saw others, with their kids and ‘Granny’, doing Christmas shopping or some other such thing, chatting away about their day to day life. 

And I have often had to bite my tongue when, after a weekend away with their husbands, (whilst Granny looked after the kids) they would moan about their mother ‘loading the dishwasher the wrong way’ or giving the kids treats they weren’t supposed to have.

In my head I’d be shouting “think yourself lucky you’ve got a bloody mother”.

I fully appreciate that no one can drive you round the bend like your parents and not all parent/child relationships are as fabulous as I have suggested.  But speaking for myself, as a parent, I know that there is an unconditional love that I have for my children.  And it is that love and commitment that I would like to be on the receiving end of.

So for those of you who have mothers, next time you see them, give them a hug.  And if you have friends who don’t have a mother… Just remember, if they’re feeling down in the dumps, they might just need one too. 

My dear friend AJ, who moved abroad several years ago, who has known me all my life, would most definitely be giving me a hug today and it would have meant the world.  In fact, we’d probably both start blubbing!  We can’t help it.  If one of us starts, the other always joins in!  And we always feel so much better afterwards.  I know she sends it in spirit.

And now I feel really bad that I sent my eldest off to school this morning, the words “Get OUT of the CAR – STOP BEING MEAN TO YOUR BROTHER” ringing in his ears. 

I will of course, out of guilt, be buying him his favourite biscuits to eat on the way home in the car.  He’ll get a big kiss and a huge squeezy hug.  And I’ll remind him that even when I’m cross with him, I love him more than the world.  That's what Mums do, right?

And I hope when he’s an adult, and he’s having ‘one of those days’, that I will still be around to give him another…

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Go the fuck to sleep!!!!!!

I don’t know what it is about single life, but I find myself going to bed later and later.

When I was married, I got the kids fed, teeth brushed, and to bed. Then, I made ‘grown up’s’ supper, cleared away, watched a bit of TV and went to bed myself.

Now, I feel like I’ve reverted to student type behaviour. Maybe it’s because there is no-one to entice me to bed!!!

Tonight, again, I’ll probably be searching the empty cupboards, in desperation for something to eat. And then, instead of TV, I’ll be finishing off my post, checking my e-mail, generally wasting time on You Tube, and before I know it, it’ll be 1.00am again…

Today, however, I had a bit of a ‘wake-up call’. Excuse the pun…

Having had a late night, doing the above, I was very tired. But I decided that I needed my running ‘fix’. So off I went to the park and half way round, I tripped on a tree root and went flying.

Honestly, I don’t have two left feet. I was just over tired and therefore not concentrating properly.

Then half way back to the car, I realised I had lost my car key.

I’m not a klutsy type of person. I’m not the one who magnetically attracts disaster. I’m super-self-sufficient! But we all need sleep.

I suspect that this behaviour is common amongst single people. In fact I know a couple of people who have sent me messages very late at night… And I’m too embarrassed to reply and tip them off that I’m awake too!

If this behaviour continues, I will have an accident worse that my fall in the park, which I take as my warning shot.

In the absence of someone else, we have to learn to treat ourselves with a bit more respect, eat properly, and go the Fuck to sleep.  (Fast forward the first 55 seconds).

If only I had someone to read me a bedtime story…!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What turns people into bunny boilers?

Is there a latent bunny boiler in us all…?

Not that many years ago, somewhere in West London, an old friend of mine was, quite unexpectedly, dumped.

As far as he had known, the relationship was going just swimmingly, until she dropped the bomb on him.

No “its because”; no “it’s not you, it’s me”;’ and no “I need space”.

Just unceremonial dumping.  He was totally shocked and heartbroken.  He didn’t tell me, but I think he had been planning to ask her to marry him.

This friend of mine is a laid back, fun guy to hang out with.  The very last person you would ever imagine turning all ‘bunny boiler’…

But for a short spell, that’s exactly what he became.

He was so hurt and perplexed by her behaviour, that he just wanted a response.  He wanted to understand, something to help him get to grips with what had happened.  But she wouldn’t take his calls or respond to any form of message from him.

So he hung around outside her flat.  On one occasion, he even waited for her to go out, and followed her to see where she was going…

Creepy, right?!

I admit, he didn’t go as far as Glenn Close – but stalking and following someone and making endless phone calls …

I’m smelling rabbit stew…

Fortunately, this friend of mine eventually got over it, married a friend of mine, and had two lovely children.

But what latent psyche was triggered by the cruel behaviour of his ex?  And given the right circumstances, could this type of behaviour trigger a similar response in any one of us?

I hate to admit, but I think there’s a bit of it in us all.  Just waiting for a trigger.  Like Stockholm syndrome, who could ever imagine developing such a strange relationship with a captor?

It may never rear its ugly head if we are treated with respect, even if a relationship ends.  But if not…  The bunny is on dangerous ground.

I’ve done ‘closure’ before, but have to mention it again….

If you don’t want the other party to become like this – get some balls.  Don’t get too involved if you’re suspecting it’s not ‘right’.

Be cruel to be kind.  Give them a reason to get their teeth into and let them move on.

Monday, 27 June 2011

We all need closure…

Imagine the scene…

He/she says “I’ll call you…” But they don’t.

They’ve done this before, a couple of times.  And in desperation, you end up calling them.  Sometimes just out of frustration – even though you know ‘the rules’ forbid it.

Then, probably more because you have extended the hand of friendship, they do get in touch and you see them a couple more times. 

Then again:  “I’ll call you…”  But they don’t. 

You had a great time.  You really thought that they might be interested in your scintillating and witty repartee…

But then there’s radio silence.

It’s frustrating and confusing.  You really did have a great time.  You got on like a house on fire. 

Either that, or somehow, you’re really missing the signals.

It’s frustrating and hurtful. You agonise that you might have said ‘the wrong thing’.  But you’re struggling to think what that wrong thing might have been.  Then you find all kinds of excuses for them, all of which avoid the reality.  

The reality being... the old “he/she’s just not that into you” thingy… arghhh.

So what do you do?  What CAN you do?

You can’t even have the satisfaction of blowing them out… because they’d have to call you in order for you to do that.

So you have to just ‘let it go’.

Zero closure.

That’s hard.

Sunday, 26 June 2011


Playing the piano has long been a passion of mine.

Having reached Grade V111, I left home and had no access to a piano for the best part of 20 years.

Since my divorce, and the repatriation of my beautiful (if not technically brilliant) piano, I have been making a huge effort to play every day.

I have always loved Scott Joplin.  He was a genius - way ahead of his time, and sadly not fully appreciated in his own lifetime.

My dad had two records of Joshua Rifkin playing Scott Joplin.  I played them over and over.

And this is the piece I loved the most.

I have just downloaded the sheet music, and much to my surprise, I am finding it easier to sight read than I thought I would.

Anyone out there who loves music.... please just have a listen.  I can't believe you wouldn't enjoy this - especially as I'm not murdering it!!!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Vibrators, sex toys and blow up dolls…

That seems to have got your attention.  I bet I’ll get lots of page views today…!!!

I have to say, none of the above are really my ‘thing’.  I’m much more into….

Oh!  C’mon.  I’m not divulging that kind of information!  And I suspect very few people do.  But I’d bet you a whole £5 that most people are secretly very curious about what everyone else is up to!

And that’s what this post is all about…!

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure how people would respond to smut.  I was surprised at a response from a friend of mine who I had thought might be a little taken aback by a few of my earlier posts.  When I asked her about it, she replied:

“Oooh!  Don’t put less smut in the blog – if anything you need MORE smut.  It’s what we all want to read about.  No one wants to admit how much sex they’re getting or not getting.  But they want to know what everyone else is up to – especially single people.”

Statistics on sex always make a fascinating read.  In view of the kind of remarks friends make about their sex lives (whilst trying not to divulge too much) I can only conclude that after a long marriage and kids, there are probably few who are accurately filling in those questionnaires!

Here are a few examples:

According to my research on the Internet…  (must remember to clear my internet history!)

The Durex Survey 2010 - a survey of 12,000 people surveyed via the Internet states:

- Average Brit is having sex 3-4 times per week;
- 65% of the country does not have any intention to cheat on their loved ones, however, 5% are thinking about a co-worker and 14 are thinking about their ex, while having sex;
- one third of England's population will have sex with anybody for a sum of £1,000,000 (that's approximately US$1,597,500).


Dr Petra Boynton (Sex Educator, Agony Aunt, Academic) comments on these findings in her blog.  She says:
“The trouble is these findings don’t fit with the approaches or outcomes of reliable academic studies. The figure of sexual activity happening four or five times a week is massively higher than reliable studies show (around 6 times a month).

“While this may be an indicator of bias in the survey (and respondents trying to give impressive answers), it is problematic as it continues to equate ‘good’ sex with quantity and imply that ‘normal’ sexual behaviour is several times per week. This is a staple part of contemporary self help and media coverage on sex and makes people who’re not doing this feel inadequate.”

Haha! There we have it!  It makes people feel inadequate!

No wonder so many people out there are interested in what others are up to.  They just want to be reassured that they are 'normal'.  And with the media suggesting that everyone's at it like rabbits, it makes them insecure.  Hence my friends' curiosity about what everyone else is up to.

So going back to the question of sex and intimacy.  What exactly is the score?  Once a week, once a month – or just Birthdays and Christmas? 

I can’t answer that…

But frankly, I think you just have to ask yourselves whether you’re happy with your lot.  Because if you start asking around or worrying what everyone else is up to, it will just make you feel insecure.  And that insecurity probably just stems from others trying to give you impressive answers.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mad dog people

Since moving house and area, I have been getting to know the local dog walkers. 

I know that we Brits have a reputation for being a nation of dog lovers.  But seriously, there are some real characters out there.

And so today I thought I’d entertain you with tales of a few whom I have encountered…


Why is he always smiling? 

Maybe I’m a miserable old bag, with a face like I just sucked a lemon…  But I don’t think so. I think I smile quite a lot.  Just not permanently.  Maybe it’s because whenever he sees me running with the dogs, I’m bright pink in the face and looking like I’m about to spontaneously combust?

But there’s something about people always smiling at you.  Makes you paranoid that you’ve got your skirt tucked into your knickers by mistake, or something similar…  Know what I mean?


She knocked on the door when we first moved into the house.  The builders were busy outside and her nosiness obviously got the better of her.

There she was, like a time warp, former 80’s Sloane Ranger, in full uniform, Lady Di haircut and stripy Puffa jacket (circa 1984).  

Is she the local Mayor, I wondered as she imperiously ‘welcomed’ me to the area?   Having introduced herself, she launched into a barrage of questions which I could barely answer before she threw the next one at me. 

Finally, as I politely petted her dogs, I made a fatal error.  I said I was planning on getting the kids a puppy….

“You should get a Greyhound.” she said.
“Hmm.  I was thinking of something smaller.” I replied.
“No.  You should get a greyhound.” She continued. 
“Hmm. I really want a puppy, not a rescue dog, because of the kids.” I insisted.
“No. You should rescue a Greyhound.  There are lots that need homes and they’re fantastic pets.”
On, and on, and on she went. 
The builders were beginning to listen to the conversation, pulling faces at me to make me laugh…
Was I ever going to shake her off.

I have to confess that I see her daily as I arrive home in the car after the school run.  If I haven’t got time to run into the house, I sit in the car, avoiding eye contact, focused on my iPhone until I know she’s passed me, Greyhounds in tow.


Fascinated by her… she has clearly had some horrific accident, which has left her in a wheel chair.  She has the complexion of someone who has an intimate relationship with Special Brew…  But she is highly intelligent, well spoken and I have never seen such devotion and obedience from a dog.

She doesn’t have the dog on a lead, he waits at the side of the road until she tells him to go.  I’d love to know more about her…


Yep!  She’s NUTS!

She has a couple of old dogs and a mad staring face.  The kids don’t know whether to laugh or scream when they see her.

We were tipped off about her mental state when we heard her screaming, from the opposite side of our local park,  “Stop, stop, you’re going to kill her!” as our tiny puppy tried to play with her dog.

I retrieved the puppy, who was doing no harm, and as she left she started screaming again “Your bloody dogs and your bloody children – you should put them all on leads!”

My kids haven’t forgotten that one.  As soon as they see her in the park I hear them mimicking her!


And finally there’s my lovely friend Julian.  If it wasn’t for my own (female) dog harassing and trying to hump his (female) dog, we might never have met! 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Risk rejection… or face a lifetime of regret

Say what you mean and mean what you say….

I recently read a book on relationships, which is written by a friend of mine.  It covers a wide range of issues, but the one that struck a chord with me most, was that relationships with everyone would be easier if we all “said what we mean and mean what we say”.

I most definitely do this with friends and acquaintances, to the point that I sometimes have an attack of ‘foot in mouth’ disease.  But when it comes to relationships with men… Hmmm.  I think I close up.  I don’t want to give too much away.  I feel I can protect myself if I hold stuff back.  But I’m beginning to see that it may have a very negative effect.  I fear it could make me come across as being secretive.  But I have no secrets.   I’m just private about certain things.  (Hahaha!  And I’m so private, I’m writing this blog!)

Anyway, a great friend of mine told me a story last night, which ties in to this point. 

Many years ago she knew a man who worked for her father.  He was older than her and they were great friends who spent a lot of time together.  But they were never romantically involved. 

Their lives moved on.  They both got married (to other people!) and then…  Twenty years later, this man (having had a few too many drinks) confided to my friends’ Uncle, that for 15 years he had harbored feelings for her.  An unrequited love that she had never been aware of. 

I have never met this man, but I can’t help feeling a huge wave of emotion.  To have bottled those feelings up for so long…  If it was me, it would have eaten me alive.

But why did he never tell her?  Did he just presume she would not reciprocate his feelings?  What must have gone through his mind all those years?  Oh! The agony of not knowing…  How could he have borne it?

I can only assume that it was the fear of rejection that stopped him.  No one likes rejection - especially me! 

But as it says in my friends’ book, if we don’t communicate properly (say what we mean and mean what we say) like this poor man, we could spend a lifetime misreading situations, missing opportunities, or even preventing ourselves from having closure. 

So here’s the question?  What is worse, to face the prospect of rejection or live a lifetime of regret?

I'll let you answer that one for yourselves...

And now for some shameless advertising….

Inside Out - How to have authentic relationships with everyone in your life by Sarah Abell (published by Hodder & Stoughton – coming out in paperback in August!!!! )

Monday, 20 June 2011

How many men can you ‘date’ at one time…?

That’s a question, not a challenge!

I recently had a conversation about dating with my hairdresser, Nicco.  I regard him as an oracle on such matters, as he has many female clients of my age who are single.

“For heaven’s sake, Lara, don’t limit yourself to just one person.”  He said. 

“Well, how many people is it OK to date at once?”  I replied.

“Oh!  I’d say three people at once is perfectly acceptable.” 

OK – if in today’s modern dating world it’s acceptable to date more than one person at a time, exactly how do you define ‘dating’. 

Is it a drink at a bar?  Dinner in a nice restaurant?  Or a drink in a bar, followed by dinner and once totally hammered, back to his place for a quickie?

I’m not being facetious – I just don’t understand! 

I willingly admit that I’m a bit old fashioned.  I have never managed to date more than one man at a time.  To be honest, I generally get a feeling early on as to whether I like someone and if I do, they have my full attention.  But if I know they’re not suitable, I just don’t want to put myself in a compromising situation, so I politely decline.

And the reason for this twofold.  Firstly, my nervous system can’t cope with juggling several men and secondly, I wouldn’t want to jeopardize a potentially successful relationship, by secretly seeing other people.

I say ‘secretly seeing other people’ because I presume that if you’re dating several men, you don’t tell any one of them about the others. 

So, going back to the conversation with Nicco, I asked him whether he thought it was OK to ‘date’ other men if you were having sex, but not yet at the ‘officially going out’ stage with someone else.

“Oh yes! Don’t worry – we all need a bit of that…!”  He laughed. 

As a woman, I know I can multi-task (I can load a dishwasher, scream at the kids and send a text message simultaneously!) but, to be sexually involved with one man, whilst ‘dating’ a couple of others, is beyond me.

What if ‘one of the others’ makes a sexual advance? 

I can’t imagine many men being impressed by being told “Sorry – it was nice of you to buy me dinner, but actually, I don’t want to go back to your place because I’m already being shagged!” 

Do these women who ‘multi-date’ expect that the men they’re seeing are doing the same?  And do single men think that this is OK?

I want answers!

I know there are quite a few men out there reading this blog and I want your views on this subject!

What I want to know is:

Do you think it’s OK for a woman to ‘date’ several men at one time?

Do you think it’s OK for men to do the same?

And most importantly, how do YOU define ‘dating’?

Please, let me know your views by posting your comments.  I really do need to know!

If I like someone enough to spend my limited and precious time with them, its got to be because I think there’s potentially a future in it.  What’s the point in going out with someone once you’ve established that they’re not Mr Right?

And if you discover you've met Mr Right and the feelings are mutual, at what point would you off-load the others?  And what if Mr Right finds out?  I worry that he would think me dishonest.  Not a good way to start a relationship.

Well, until I hear all your views, all I can say is, I don’t think the multiple dating game is for me.  Oh dear!  I’m not sure I’m cut out for this modern world…  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Party update.... SEX SEX SEX

Oh, c'mon...

You're sad, you lot!

But for those of you who read "Going to the party.... alone" and want an update.

I stayed up too late (2.30am).
I drank too much (really bad hangover).
I met some interesting people.
I didn't have sex with a random stranger!  Because I, Lara Lakin, just don't do that kinda stuff....

But, I really do need to drink less and give up smoking.

On the positive side, I feel about 20yrs old again.  You know - when you swear you're "never going to drink again"!

Ooooh - my head!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

I'm sorry if I've upset you...!

I’m not that scary…. Honest!

I recently received an e-mail from a female follower of my blog. 

It said:  “…I am just a bit scared of you now though cos women haven't been coming off too well in the last few installments, though really I couldn't agree more with what you say about women slagging off their partners as a bonding experience.”


It is certainly not my intention to scare or undermine other women.  It’s just that I get frustrated…

I went to an all girls bording school.  I can only really describe it as ‘Bitch City’.

There were two ‘gangs’ of girls who were permanently fighting with each other.  Sometime girls from one group would switch allegiance and this would kick off another spiteful and vicious civil war. 

So I kept my head down, I had my ‘best friend’ who I did everything with, and a few other friends who we variously hung around with.  We were not the cool crowd.  We had bad haircuts, unfashionable clothes, and wanted to talk about something other than ‘boys’.  I got through it, but it made me cautious and left me feeling that a female only environment is an unhealthy one.

I have no doubt that this has influenced my relationships with ‘women’ and to a certain degree, made me gravitate towards men.

Just recently, I sat in a restaurant waiting for a friend… a group of older women were at the next table and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

For the 20 minutes I was waiting for my friend, I was fascinated by the dynamic of the group.  Having commented on each others’ outfits, hair etc, they moved on to the subject of the friend they were all waiting for.  Their friend was clearly one of those people (a bit like me) who’s always late! 

And so it began.  A total character annihilation.  And it went on, and on, until their ‘friend’ arrived. 

“There you are! Lovely to see you!  Mwa Mwa!” they all shrieked, kissing the air around her.

I wanted to be sick!  The poor woman.  How would she have felt if she had heard them?  I felt quite mortified for her.

I regard myself as being incredibly fortunate to have some fantastic female friends.  They are a very eclectic group, but despite their different backgrounds or lives, they always get on with each other when I introduce them.  I don’t put this down to their shared friendship with me.  I believe it is because at the core of them you will find the same human traits:  kindness; humanity; humility; and a fantastic sense of humour. 

Well, face it.  You’d need a good sense of humour to be friends with me!!!!

So – what’s with the bitchy women? 

I can only imagine (as I don’t hang out with women like this) that there must be some desperate insecurity that makes them all cling together.  Surely they must wonder, at some point, what is being said about them when they are absent from the group.

But I fear that it is a very vicious circle.  Like drowning and clutching at straws – maybe these women need to feel that the group they’re hanging out with fit with and reinforce their social profile.  They are too scared to mix with people from a different rung on the social ladder.  Fearful that this person might show them up, or turn up to a party in the ‘wrong’ type of outfit, provoking unkind comments from their cluck of women friends.

I can fully understand the need to feel socially included.  But maybe, having been an outsider at school, I rebel against it.  Intellectually, I stick two fingers up at the concept of it, but emotionally, I want to be accepted.

So here I go again – having a ‘dig’ at women. (I feel another e-mail coming on…!)

But I’m not having a go at you all.  I just wish women would be kinder to and more respectful of each other, that we could feel confident to be more open and honest with each other without fear of being belittled or socially embarrassed.  And I wish that we could have more self-confidence, to allow ourselves to gravitate to all the kind, honest and open women amongst us. 

I know quite a number of these women and I am very proud to call them my friends.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Blood, Snot and Broken Biscuits

Its been a hard old year…

Over the last couple of months, following receipt of my Decree Absolute, I have been reflecting on all the things that have gone on over the last couple of years.  I have found myself feeling quite weepy, getting emotional about silly little things. 

I think it’s because during the process I had to just try and quell my emotions and get on with it.  I moved house, which broke my heart.  Then I had builders in to do up the house I’d bought.  Having builders in your house is stressful at any time, let alone when you’re struggling to cope with traumatized kids and finalizing financial settlements.  

And now, as I start again, my suppressed emotions are beginning to re-surface. 

That’s when I stumbled across the following, which I wrote when in the middle of my divorce proceedings… 

Blood, Snot and Broken Biscuits

I sat there in the courtroom, staring at the judge – a spinster-like woman in her 50’s, her grey hair in a tight bun, peering over her half moon glasses, making judgements about me.  During the course of that horrific day, she did not once address me directly or even look me in the eye.  I couldn’t help thinking that it was probably a good thing that my precious Swiss Army penknife had been confiscated on arrival at court!  Who knows what use I may have found for it….

As the day progressed, the discussion turned to what work I would be able to do in the future to help support myself.  This for me was a very sore point.  I had given up my career nearly 10 years before, when I had my first child. 

My barrister addressed the judge with my plans to study photography and become a self-employed photographer, which would enable me to have control over my working hours and fit round the kids’ schedule.  These were plans that I had only been told I had to produce that morning.  In the barristers chamber, with half an hour to go before we were due in court, I could think of nothing else. The Judge scoffed at the idea, “there are far too many photographers out there…. You should be a teacher or do book keeping” she declared.  I nearly fell off my chair.

How dare she decree what I should do for a living.  She didn’t even know whether I could add up!

I found myself in the place that so many women must have visited before me.  In the early days of my marriage, I had a career path.  I worked my socks off to be successful in what I did and by the time I had children, I had achieved something that I was proud of. 

The conversation went round in circles.  The crux of the matter is, like all women in my situation, I am between a rock and a hard place. 

- No one wants to employ a 40yr old woman who hasn’t worked for 10 years.
- Full time employment requires childcare – the cost of which would probably negate any earnings.
- Part time jobs, which coincide with kids’ school days, are as common as hen’s teeth.

In reality the best possible chance I have of being able to balance life as a single mother and work, is to be self-employed.  Unless there is something out there that I don’t yet know about.

Compounding these issues is the harsh reality that over the years of my marriage I had had my confidence knocked out of me.  The whole point of my leaving my husband and getting divorced was to get “me” back.  The “me” that couldn’t cope with the unreasonable constraints my mother put on me; the “me” that left home at 17 years of age, my personal belongings unceremoniously rammed into two black bin bags, caught a train to London and never looked back.  This is the “me” that had been drained away leaving me depressed, frustrated and desperate to rehabilitate myself. 

But what do you do when you’re a forty-something single mother?  And who is there out there to help you?

That’s when I had this plan… to get a blog going.  I know there are thousands of women out there going through the same as me, so I have decided that I should get out there and explain how I feel, in the hope that it will help other women going through it. 

I don’t know if it’s going to help… but here I go…..

It brought a lump to my throat as I re-read it.  I hope I never go through anything like this again.

But I have got my blog going.  I hope it will help others.  It has certainly been cathartic for me to write.  And if I have enough of a following, I hope it will give me the credibility to get back to work. 

Oh!   And I case you’re wondering…  the court did eventually return my precious Swiss Army knife - and there were no bloodstains on it! 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Blanking out the shit….

Why do we all do it?   You go to a family funeral.  The ‘deceased’ spent a lifetime being foul to everyone around them.  But at the service, everyone gets all sentimental.

“She’ll be missed.”

“She was always so much fun.”

And so it goes on.  But the reality is that everyone thought ‘she’ was a total bitch who never had a kind word to say.

And the same applies to people reminiscing about an old boyfriend, memories of childhood or our school days.

What is it in us that makes us behave in what is, fundamentally, a dishonest way?

“Never speak ill of the dead.” my mother always used to say.

But why?

I’m not suggesting we should all go around gratuitously slagging off dead people.  I just don’t see why we can’t be honest instead of re-writing history.

And the same applies to old girl/boyfriends. 

For years and years, I held a candle for an ex-boyfriend.  In my mind I replayed all the ‘special’ moments we had had.  To be really honest with myself, those moments were the exceptions.  Most of the time he was pretty unkind.  I suspect he cheated on me and it was only when he showed the first signs of being physically abusive, that I walked.

And then there’s a friend of mine, who recently told me of a conversation she had had with her father.  “Those years, when you kids were young, were the happiest years of my life.” he declared. 

My friend was speechless. 

Her father had been an angry man, a bully, and a physically abusive one too.  My friend has spent much of her adult life coming to terms with the impact his behaviour has had on her. 

All she could think was “Sorry?  But which house were you living in when I was a kid?  Asshole!” 

So going back to my original question… why do people blank out the shit, and talk about the past, or people who have died, with such saccharine prose? 

Is it too hard to accept that someone we were close to could have mistreated us badly?  Is it because we don’t want to accept mistakes we have made?  Or possibly, we want to feel “normal” and present an idea to the world of this perfect childhood, relationship etc.

And does it help us to behave in this way? 

From personal experience I don’t think it does.  I have had heated conversations over the years, because a topic of conversation has triggered some historical angst.  Without knowledge of this angst, the person on the receiving end has looked completely baffled at my over the top response.  I’m sure we all do it.

Maybe our British ‘stiff upper lip’, and mixture of pride and desire for social acceptability paralyses us.

I have always been a fairly closed person.  I can talk for England, without actually saying anything! I realise that this is not a very healthy way to live, so I have recently made a concerted effort to be more open.

It’s not easy.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  But I have been astounded by the revelations that others have made when I have opened up. 

We may believe that keeping things to ourselves and presenting a certain image of ourselves makes us feel ‘normal’.  But ironically, it’s sharing details of my life with close friends and discovering that others have their own issues, that I never knew about, which has truly made me feel normal.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Going to the party….. alone!

This week, I have been invited to a big party.  I usually avoid any large gathering where I’m not going to know people, because I get desperately shy.  And I usually end up helping clear dishes, just to avoid making conversation with total strangers!  How sad is that?!

Fortunately, the only other people I know who are going, have kindly invited me to go with them.  So I won’t have to arrive on my own, and at least I’ll have someone to talk to!

My trusty friend Julian has chosen an outfit for me… Thank God for him - because I’m useless.  And my fabulous hairdresser has assured me that I need not worry about all my grey hairs – I can just pass myself off as an ‘ash blonde’!

I’m making this sound like it’s a big deal.  I mean, it’s a party, right?  Just a party.  The problem is, I haven’t been a single girl going to a party for the best part of 20 years.

So what am I afraid of? 

Mostly, I’m afraid of women!  Well, the ones who check out what you’re wearing, in a very obvious way, and make you feel about two inches tall.

My other fear is being dragged off and introduced to a single man who looks like he’d rather have been introduced to a leper!

Fortunately, I am not being ‘set up’ with anyone.  It is my greatest horror. 

The last time I was ‘set up’ was before I even met my former husband.

The sales pitch from my friend was: “He’s soooo wonderful – you’ll love him.  He’s very good looking!”  So I got invited round for dinner with this man, who spent the evening telling me:  “I know it’s not PC – but of all the things I’d like to do in life, I would really just love to shoot a tiger!”

By the end of the evening, I just wanted to shoot myself!

So, I’m sorted.  Something to wear, someone to arrive with, kids with their Dad. 

There are, of course, some upsides to going on your own:  I won’t have to worry about a husband drinking too much and making embarrassing remarks; I can stay as long as I want; and who knows, I might even meeting someone interesting, who has no desire, ever, to shoot a tiger!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

What’s in a name?

Over the last couple of years, a number of people have asked me, in a rhetorical tone, whether I was going to change my name when I got divorced.

I have to say that it hadn’t even occurred to me until they brought up the subject.  And it really took me aback.

Firstly, I was surprised that I hadn’t even thought about it, and secondly, I was amazed that they seemed to think it was a matter of course that I would do so.

I had no issue with changing my name when I got married.  As far as I was concerned, I was forming a life-long partnership, we planned to have children and share our lives.  Therefore, it seemed appropriate to share the same surname. 

I am now no longer married – so it would make logical sense to revert to my maiden name.  But, I have no wish to do so.  And I find it odd that people should think that my identity is impaired by retaining my ex-husbands’ surname.

We are all the sum of our parts.  And the most significant part of my life has been my marriage and children.  To me, a change of name would be like trying to erase the time spent in my marriage.  It suggests regret – and I don’t regret my marriage.  What I regret is that it failed.  But it did leave me with two wonderful children, who share not only my genes but my name and their fathers.

I almost find it sad that some women go to the trouble of a Deed Poll application, as if trying to eradicate all trace of their past.

I have no wish to eradicate mine.  I wish it could have turned out differently, but life happens to us all.

Monday, 13 June 2011

We all take medication

During the time I was going through divorce proceedings, I lost count of the number of times I woke at 4am – soaked in sweat and having a panic attack.

I cannot find words to explain how traumatic the whole process was. 

But never, not even once, did I consider going to the doctor to get ‘happy pills’.

This may be to do with the fact that even as a teenager I have always been very anti drugs.  I saw at close hand the effect that they had on people I knew as a teenager.  And my sister suffered mental health problems at that time, and was put on all number of horrific drugs to try and help.  But they didn’t help.  And the reason that they didn’t help was that it transpired her issues were a result of physiological problems, not psychological ones.

These are my feelings about medication.  I would not put them on anyone else.  But I fear for those around me, who are going through problems and happily taking the pills to help them.

I fear for them because their problems have a physical cause that needs resolving.  It can’t be removed by popping Prozac. 

Just recently however, a friend stopped me in my tracks.

She had a different view.  She was not totally pro-drugs, but made the interesting point: “if we aren’t prescribed drugs, we end up self-medicating”.


I would hate to think of myself in that way.  But she did have a point.  It was a point that sunk in as I downed my fourth large glass of red wine and lit another cigarette.  My own personal self-medication….!  Not so smug now Lara!

If I’m fair, and its something I really do try hard to be, we all have to find a way through the chaos. 

Mine will never be prescription drugs – but at some point I will have to quit the cigarettes and cut down on the alcohol. 

My divorce is over.  I am starting to move forward.  I therefore feel I have to take stock – and so my resolution this month is to cut down.  Wean myself off the self-medication…

(I can’t help wondering whether it would be easier to wean myself off Prozac…  After all, you can’t just buy more in the supermarket!)

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

So WHO's the grown-up..?

OK OK - I don't want to bore everyone with tales of my kids, but tonight was a cracker...

Having strictly told the little one that he was not allowed any more biscuits, I stuck him in front of the one-eyed babysitter to watch a movie...  Then I snuck off to have a sneaky cigarette outside the kitchen door.

Two minutes later, I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet, and the noise of the biscuit box being taken off the shelf.


I had no choice but to duck down, so he wouldn't see me through the window having a cigarette.  My punishment for that cigarette?  Listening to him chomp away on the biscuits!

So who's the grown-up?


If only I was the fountain of all knowledge…!

If only… 

Over the last couple of years, during the whole process of my divorce, I have noticed that people have been seeking me out, wanting to know what I’m going through and asking for my views on their own situations.

I’d love to be able to pass myself off as a modern day ‘oracle’, but sadly, all I can offer is my own experiences.  And I hope that my advice is of help – because
there isn’t a guide book. 

Whether they are at the receiving end of infidelity, emotional abuse or just neglect, the enormity of divorce is quite overwhelming for these people.

And they all have one thing in common.  Faced with the enormity of their situation and the disruption to themselves, their children, parents and siblings, they wonder whether it is better to stay and ‘put up with it’ or leave and face the emotional and possibly financial, hardships this may entail.

The only way I can describe the feelings I had during my own divorce proceedings is that it’s like falling.  You’ve reached terminal velocity and there is no sight of the ground yet. 

And to make matters worse, you don’t know whom you can trust.  It’s not that you don’t have friends who you know will be sympathetic and ‘on your team’, but they may have spouses who are on the other person’s ‘team’.  And even if they don’t mean to say anything inappropriate, you never know if they’re going to ‘slip up’ at the wrong moment.

I have no doubt that there are countless people ‘out there’ who are playing at ‘happy families’ whilst struggling with their inner turmoil.  But I have to admit I would never encourage anyone to get divorced – even though I know it was the right thing for me.

When a friend tells you that her husband has be screwing around with countless women for years, it is very easy to shriek “for god’s sake, just leave him”.  But it just isn’t that simple. 

There are countless issues that can have lead to the situation, which may have come from both parties.  And it may be that the wife has no wish to disclose them.  Alternatively, he could just be the shit of the century.

But the one thing I know for sure, is that no two situations are the same.  And what one person may be able to put up with, may be the one thing that is intolerable to another. 

I have also spoken to people who are going through such angst and taking so long to make up their minds, that their best friends are fed up with hearing about it and refusing to discuss it any further, unless their friend ‘gets on with it’ and leaves.  Very easy to say, when it’s not YOU!

Unfortunately, the only people who are ever going to understand are those that have been through the process themselves.  And that is, I’m sure, the reason that people have sought me out. 

So my advice is this.  Take your time.  Don’t rush into anything.  Go and see a lawyer, but make sure there is no paper trail that gives the game away.  Take your paperwork and find out exactly what you’re going to end up with if you do finally get divorced.  I have heard many women over the years claim that they wish they had stayed, because life has been so financially hard since the divorce. 

But don’t kid yourself either.  If infidelity has played a part, consider exactly how you’re going to feel every time they’re late home from work.  I could not live a life where I’m permanently in a state of angst, wondering whether an historically unfaithful husband is ‘playing away’ again.  It would eat me alive.

And finally, and most importantly, remember that in years to come you have to be sure that it was the right decision.  And by that I mean that it was YOUR decision.  Take lots of advice from everyone you know.  But ultimately, seek your own council. 

And be brave.  There is light at the end of the tunnel. 

And you never know, there may even be someone special….! 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sometimes I need light relief...

I have been pondering what to write about today.  I fear that I have been a bit serious in my last couple of posts.  

And so, I’ve decided to lighten the mood and regale you with a couple of amusing moments on the school run.  These are real moments, not apocryphal stories.

One morning, driving in the car, my eldest asked me:  ”Mummy, who is Barbara Bush?” 

Good question I thought.  What a clever child I have.  So I explained that she is the wife of George Bush Senior, a former President of the United States of America.

As I answered, I wondered whether they had been doing something at school that related to her.  I asked why he wanted to know.

“There was a sign back there.” he said.  “It said Barbara Bush, live, three nights a week”.

“Ah” I replied, “I don’t think that’s the same Barbara Bush.”


Any suggestions as to how you explain to a nine year old child, that the ex-President’s 86 yr old wife is not likely to be doing a drag act three nights a week at a famous gay nightclub….?

And this is my other school run story…

The driver of an immaculate Aston Martin [are they ever anything but?] was driving in the most bizarre manner, with no indication as to what he was trying to achieve.

“The driver of that car really is thick.”  I said to the boys. 

(Anyone who’s ever been in a car with me, will be impressed that I restrained myself from calling him a ‘Total Fuck Wit’!).

“What does thick mean.” the little one asked.
“It means really stupid.” I said.
“If he’s really stupid, how did he get the money to buy that car?” asked the eldest.

Good question…..!!!

Ooooops!  I’ve just been had.  My two nosey sons have just caught me writing this. 

They spotted the words “Fuck Wit” on my computer screen.  Arghhhhh!

“That’s SO inappropriate” said the eldest.  “It’s not funny you know.” he continued as I started to snort with laughter.

“Mind your own business!”  I shrieked.  “Its grown up stuff!”

“You’re soooo rude” shouts the eldest.  “You tell US not to say ‘mind your own business’”.  Fair point.

Oh dear.  They have now spelt out the words ‘Fuck’ and ‘Wit’ in fridge magnets on the front of the fridge.

I am a bad, bad, bad mother.

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