The Olympics v Sports day

Sport: you either love it or you hate it. At school, I was never really a ‘winner’ at sports myself (I once thought I’d won the backstroke but everyone else had got out of the pool). Still, I had a few coping strategies to deal with my athletic defeats.

‘Where did you come?’, a spectator (clearly not spectating well enough) would ask.

‘4th’ I’d quip, failing to mention that there was only four of us in the race.

I was never really a sore loser though: sore in body probably, but never in mind. And I was certain that when I was a mum I’d always be the type of person that patted little Johnny’s head and reassured him that it was the taking part that counted, not the winning.

However. In the last few weeks, as it’s Olympics season, I’ve become mildly addicted sport. On more than one occasion I’ve stayed up bleary-eyed until the early hours to support and cheer on Team GB. (If Google tells me someone won gold and I missed it, I have to watch it on catch-up.)  The gymnastics has always been my favourite, inspiring me so much in fact that last week, I thought I would go out into my back garden and attempt to do a cartwheel (I wouldn’t advise it) after a 20 year hiatus.

‘It’s no good. I’m too old’, I said remorsefully, after my arms gave way and my cartwheel turned into a commando roll. And so I quickly turned my attention onto my kids.

‘Why don’t you kids have a go at some gymnastics?’, I said, encouragingly. ‘Maybe you could go to the Olympics one day like on the telly’.

Instead of following my instruction, my youngest child threw a ball into my oldest child’s face; oldest child retaliated by getting him in a head-lock and all hell broke loose.

Hmmm. Perhaps gymnastics wasn’t their forte, I reasoned, as I watched them grapple around on the floor, one now trying to pull the other across the grass by the legs.

Did they do wrestling in the Olympics? They’d ace a gold at that.

Not that it was the winning that counted of course: it was the taking part that mattered.

OK, I’m lying a bit.

Of course I wanted them to do well. Only last month, at my son’s sports day, I was standing on the sidelines, anxiously waiting, when out of nowhere, I spotted him walk on by and I suddenly turned into coach and began giving him a little pep talk.

‘As soon as you hear the whistle, run as fast as you can, ok? Do you hear me? RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!’ Seconds later, I found myself complaining inwardly. Was it really fair that 4ft Edward who was 8 calender months older than my summer born boy were competing in the same race?

“He stands no chance against that giant”, I told my husband. “Could they not have grouped them in size order?’.

By the time I tried to call foul because a blonde haired girl had set off with a beanbag on her head before the whistle had gone, husband suggested I should go off and get us both a brew from the PTA trolley. Or, whilst I was feeling so competitive, he’d go and collect the brews and I could make boy proud by doing the mum’s race.

Ha! Make him proud. Humiliate him, more like. I’m sure my son wouldn’t want me to do that to him.  I glanced anxiously across the school field to spot him shouting ‘C’mon mum’ at me.

Oh dear Lord.

6 mums took part.

5 mums finished in good time.

‘Where did you come?’  Husband laughed, when he returned.

‘6th’ I quipped, in unison with my son who said ‘last! Mum fell over’.  He looked proper peed off at me to be honest.

‘Ok, I came last’, I grimaced. But it’s the taking part that counts, not the winning, remember…

Not in the Olympics it isn’t! It’s all about the gold! Actually, as I’ve been watching the Olympics, I’ve read several reports online describing how  some athletes have ‘had to settle’ for silver (fancy having to settle for a silver medal!)  I think they’re all bloody amazing myself!

Anyway. It got me thinking. How competitive are you as a mum on Sports day? Is it really the taking part that counts???

 

 

 

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The Grand National: Tips for the girls

Here are my 10 top tips for any Aintree virgins heading to the races this weekend.

  1. Go by train (you can’t drink champagne for breakfast if you’re driving, dahlings!)
  2. If you’re heading to Ladies Day, look classy/not trashy. Otherwise, some bitches on the train be looking at you like “Girl, did you mix that fake tan with a packet of cheesy wotsits or what?”
  3. If you’re taking your other half along with you on the big day, ensure that he’s on trend too. (Last years trend: 10, 000 men wearing identical blue suits and beards.)
  4. Unless you’re heading to the enclosure, of course (The Steeplechase). It’s casual attire in there and totally acceptable not to dress up. #scruffsallowed #scruffswelcome
  5. Charge your mobile: you’ll need to text your besties to locate them in the throngs after each and every visit to the bar.
  6. Take plenty of cash – I think it’s about £30 for a bottle of wine #don’tquotemeonthat #toodrunktoremember
  7. Wear your heels, but take roll-up pumps in your bag. You might look like Bilbo Baggins in flats, but you won’t care less when you’re limping home crying. (The train station might have some flip-flops, but a size 3 when you’re a size 7 is an even worse look).
  8. Take a brolley and dare I say it – a warm jacket? There’s often  a mighty piss down April showers and you freeze your tits off and a breeze.
  9. Be prepared to be able to see bugger all of main race and instead spend some time slipping and sliding down embankments before settling on just watching it on the big screen instead.
  10. Be prepared to soak up the atmosphere and have an amazing day at the races!

 

 

Postpartum partying: Surviving the first night out!

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‘We need a night out. It’s been way too long’, declared my friend Hayley.
’14 months, 2 weeks, 3 days and counting, to be precise’, I said, being scarily precise.
‘Shit. Someone’s been bored’ acknowledged Hayley, looking very afraid for my well-being. She promptly arranged a girls night out.
Around town.
Now I was afraid for my wellbeing.

I hadn’t been out round town since the days when people went out at 8.00 and got kicked out of the nightclubs at 2 am followed by pizza, taxi rank, home. Most of my old haunts didn’t even exist anymore. It was official -I was a dinosaur. I also felt a bit unnerved at the prospect of leaving my little baby girl home alone. Well, obviously not home alone; she was in the very, veable hands of her very hands-on dad. But still. I felt a tad anxious.
‘If she wakes up, give her her dummy’, I instructed him.
‘I know’, he said, in a tone implying that he wasn’t stupid.
‘If you need me,  just ring my mobile and I’ll come straight home’, I assured him.
‘Just go’, he said, shoving me out of the door. ‘You’ll enjoy it once you’re out. And I’ll see to the baby bright and early in the morning’. I think he wanted to settle down with a box set.
‘I’ll be home before 12.00; I won’t drink too much… ‘ I called after him, as he shut the front door in my face.
I got into the taxi yanking both sides of my skirt down and feeling incredibly self concious. My first attempt in months at ‘dressing up’ for a night out had nearly sent me over the edge. Like, why did I still look 3 months pregnant in my LBD? And how did I ever manage to walk in heels before? And why did my make up bag still contain some metallic blue mascara called ‘Girl Curl’ from about 1999? And why had my curling tongs left one side of my hair with spring coils and the other with a demi wave?

Pah!

Anyway. I arrived at Hayley’s house to be greeted also by Liz, Helen, Georgia and Ruth. With the exception of Ruth, the others were all child-free. (This meant they had loads of hilarious stories to tell and Liz was mid-way through one about her date with Franco the Italian fish-man from Skelmersdale who tried to sell her some kippers).

‘Here, let me take your photo’. Helen wanted to upload some pics to facebook.
‘No chance’, I ducked for cover. ‘Look at me! No, on second thoughts, no, don’t bother…’.
Helen advised me to pout by pretending to blow a kiss, so I did as she recommended.
She took a pic of my and shoved it in-front of my face.
‘Ha ha ha – you look constipated’, she congratulated me, before sharing it with the world.

Um, thanks.

The girls proceeded to snap away, before uploading pictures of their wine glasses and bottles, whilst I text Chris to make sure the baby was okay.
Later on, we landed in town. It was dead.
‘It’s still early yet. Wait until midnight, it will be busy then’, forewarned Hayley.
‘Midnight? I was planning on being home by then’, I half joked. (Okay, more ‘3 quarters’ than ‘half’).
The girls shot me side-long glances as if I was a total bore.
Oh God, it had happened.

We sat in a pub and I ordered a diet coke in case I needed to go home soon, but just then Chris replied to say that the baby was fine. ‘Fast asleep’ to be precise.
Feeling reassured, I wondered if I should have a few drinks after all. I mean, Ruth (who had Jacob, aged 1) had been on the Prosecco in Hayley’s before we left and it had certainly got her into the groove. No sign of stiff cardboard around here where Ruth was. She was on the dance-floor looking as if she was warming up to do a work-out. She forward lunged her way around the dance-floor, and then it was crunch time. She then appeared to be cooling down with an all over body shake. Way to go Ruth!

Previous to having my child. I’d always considered not drinking alcohol when you’re out as something regarded as a good thing for pregnant women only. No bun in the oven, and you’re generally a dullard. That, or a recovering alcoholic. You could use the fact that you’re driving as an excuse, but then you’re persuaded to abandon the car and take a cab instead. But my excuse was a valid one here too. Could I really cope with a hangover and a baby?

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We headed to another bar and it had started to fill up with a younger crowd.
I craned my neck around the side of a pillar where tiny waisted girls with even tinier skirts were grouped together. ‘You do know this place is filling up with 12 year olds?’ I asked the girls.
‘Yeah. But you’ll feel like a teenager again. It’s like therapy’ replied Ruth. I felt ancient.
I think I knew what therapy I needed; it was clear and liquid form and had about 40 percent volume. The place looked as if it hadn’t been refurbished since the 90’s tune currently being played had been released. The mini-skirts on the dance floor were probably a pea-nut in their mothers womb when that song charted. Still, we were here now, so we all hacked our way through Jungle Jims and got ourselves a drink. I got myself a vodka and coke.

The next bar was a little better.
This time, I glanced around the room, clutching my bag next to my tummy, eyeing other girls in the bar as if they were applicants all after the same job, holding their CV’s, all selling themselves to be funny and attractive too.

I text Chris.

‘Is the baby ok?’

‘Sound asleep’

‘Can you go and check on her please?’

‘I did. 5 minutes ago. Enjoy your night’.

I ordered myself another vodka and diet coke and I began to feel free. Relaxed. After my third, I began to feel a bit light-headed. It had gone staight to my head after not drinking for so long.

Two men on the other side of the bar, with balding heads, were now grinning at me. Winking. They were trying to reel me in with imaginary fishing equipment. When they began trying to capture me with an imaginary net, I clambered up out of my seat, and headed towards the dance-floor. The music was pumping, and me, the former piece of stiff cardboard, well, I was finding it difficult to escape the rhythm.
I wiggled my way to  thedance-floor, swaying and sidestepping and trying my luck with a bit of bump and grind. I scanned the dance floor for the girls, suddenly wanting to impress them all by throwing some shapes of my own.
A man gave me the once over. Impressed by my shapes? To clarify, I was a happily married woman– but it was nice just to be noticed  by someone of the opposite sex, at least, for the first time in what felt like forever. A mate of his leaned over and whispered something in his ear, at which point, he looked back at me and appeared to started laughing. They seemed to make up their mind about something and then suddenly, both men were gone.
Hmmmmpphh! I had been under the assumption that the smiles from the men were flirting. The realisation that I was the object of their amusement made me wonder what on earth had possessed me to come out round town!

Anyhow.

Over the next thirty minutes or so, I had several more vodka and diet cokes.  I had my bum slapped so hard by an older man that it almost stung and I was proposed to by man who appeared to have just stopped off at Earth for on overnight visit. I ordered one more vodka, but this one appeared to tip me over the edge. I went from chilled to sloppy in minutes and began to empty my head onto the nearest available people.
It was soon the turn of a poor Irish man I located called Fergus?
‘So tell me, Fergus…’
‘It’s Feargal.’

‘Of course. Feargal. Like Feargal Sharkey!’ I broke out into a wonky and loud version of ‘A Good Heart’, but Feargul didn’t look impressed. ‘Anyway, Feargal, I’m sorry’. I’d began to prod poor Feargal in the chest with every new word I uttered. ‘You’re -Irish! I nearly went out with Irish man once. I -bet -you’re -Catholic. You’re supposed to be forgiving. Do yooooou. Think I’mmmmm . A good perrrrson?’
‘Erm..I have no idea’.
‘Well, I ammmmm!’
‘I see’.
‘I-try-harrrrd -I-do. And-God-loves- a-trier. Does he?’
‘Apparently so.’
‘And people. They sometimes do baaaaaad things. And I don’t because I’mmmmm a goooooood person. So why do bad things happen to good people?’ I was beginning to get upset about it. ‘And what about Great Auntie Lynne? She was a good person. And now she will be upset seeing me like this.’
‘Why, where is she?’, Feargal looked around himself.
‘Up there’, I pointed towards the roof. ‘In heaven’.
Hayley made a few appearances every now and then and suggested we all go home, but I was no-where near ready to leave. I had began to enjoy my first night out in over a year and it might another year before I got to go out again…
‘I believe in God. I go to church’, I told Feargal, which was sort of true. Ish. I didn’t dare not believe in God in-case he really was out there and he threw me into the burning fire when my time finally came. And I went to Church for like, weddings. Or at Christmas.
I’d been once as a student with my friend Fiona. It was Christmas, before the term break, and we’d been inspired to attend Midnight Mass after 6 large ones in the student Union. Unfortunately, we were feeling a bit too festive, and no sooner had the mass started when everything just seemed ridiculously funny. Fiona snorted because the priest said ‘Ass’ and I couldn’t look at her for fear of an outbreak. And then he talked about the resurrection and it sounded like erection and the pair of us chanced a glance at each other and exchanged warning looks. People began shooting silent stares around the pews, and hushed whispers grew around the stone walls of the church and the next day, I was wracked with guilt and spent the whole day making a deal with God for forgiveness.

Anyway, the night in question eventually came to an end when Hayley insisted that we were all definitely going home, and practically threw me into the nearest cab. I smiled dreamily. I rested my dizzy head on the window, my head full of memories of my amazing dancing, my new beautiful friends , our hugs and spilled drinks, and then suddenly, my mind was a blank.

The morning after.

‘Ok, it’s not the end of the world’, I reassured myself. How on earth had I navigated my way into my own bed?
I most definately had not missed the feeling on anxiety that occured the morning after the night before where drinking was concered. I was about to beg Chris to go and get me a McDonalds when Hayley rang.
The key, I figured, was to act as if everything was as it should be.
‘Hi how do you feel?’ was Hayley’s opening sentence when I answered the phone.
‘Great’, I lied, worrying at my fingernails.
‘Great?’, she sounded surprised.
I’d been certain that I’d been a merry but fun person the night before, but now her tone was planting a seed of doubt in my mind.

‘Um. Yes. Great. Why?’
‘You were wasted.’
‘I know’
‘You were hilarious. Do you remember that guy you were talking to? A guy called Feargus. You kept calling him fungus?’
‘Ha ha. Oh er.. yeah…sorry’, I shook my head in shame. I wanted to fly off to another country very, very far away.
‘And you kept telling everyone that you were a good person and that you went to church. Do you go to church Mel?’
‘Erm, no…’, I shook my head again.
‘…you fell off your stool, you wouldn’t leave at the end of the night even when the lights came on…
‘Oh.’
‘…you went missing on your own for about an hour and we all looked everywhere for you. Do you know where you went?’
Oh God, no. I didn’t know the answer. I was the weakest link. Time was up. I was the one whose brain was closed for repairs. I was a couple of brain-cells short of a brain.  In this round, I had banked nothing.
I laughed nervously. ‘Erm. No.Where was I?’
‘On the dance-floor. On your own. Jumping around like an ostrich that had been shot’. (Aahha hhha yes). ‘I’ve got a video of you on my phone (Oh, No). Why did people these days have to ruin your life by videoing everything?!

‘Don’t worry. Ruth’s dancing looked as if she was having an epileptic fit, ’she sympathised. ‘Helen nearly rang the emergency services’.
I felt relieved again!

‘And you were actually quite well behaved compared to Georgie. Georgie saw her boss in the taxi rank and she nearly fell asleep on her. She  pulled her forward and said if she did it again she was going to sack her!’
Oh dear.
‘And then she tried to negotiate her own taxi fee. £10 and not a penny more according the Georgia-o-meter. Ha ha ha’!
Oh-oh.
‘I think we’ll all need a good chill tonight’,
‘Not a chance’, I agreed. ‘Not with a child to look after!
‘Oh no. Poor you….’.
‘Thanks. I won’t feel a bit well.’
‘Take some aspirins’.
‘Thanks’, I sighed, adding, just before I hung up-

’I had a great time though. Same time next year?’

‘U betcha’ xx

 

 

 

 

What it’s like being pregnant…

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I was 28 when a faint blue line in the test window confirmed that I was indeed, as suspected, pregnant. Feelings of “Oh yes” versus “Oh shit” battled it out for a few hours in my head until I finally set about looking at what I needed to do next.
Google.
A quick search on a friendly mums’ site gave me the following advice: Book an appointment to see your doctor (I knew this much); don’t eat raw eggs, blue cheese, liver, shark (Who would even want to?); take folic acid; sleep a lot; eat well and don’t drink wine or smoke fags. In a nutshell.
I shut the laptop and felt immediately optimistic. I might be about to grow as fat as a small house, I figured, but at least I’d have had a damn good body detox in the meantime. And how hard could that be? Piece of p***, I’m sure.
In the days that followed, I began to notice new mums, pregnant women and their babies everywhere.  pregnancy meme 7

I was sitting in a café in town and a group of women were sitting behind me with their prams. One of the mums was complaining about her baby’s rash. And fever. And drooling. She thought she might be teething. One of her mummy friends had worse problems; her t*** were leaking milk. The third mum, who wasn’t about to be outdone, then began holding her hands out wide as if to demonstrate how big something was.  What on earth could it be? I wondered, nosily. The size of her baby’s moses basket? The size of her vagina after the birth?  Oh LordyAfter they’d spent over an hour swapping notes about their own precious bundles,  I made a mental note to myself never to turn into one of those boring mums who bored the shit out of everyone else by talking about her baby all day. ( I later fell foul – we all do).

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Anyway. I’d decided that I was only going to share my news with my nearest and dearest until after  the ceremonial 12 week mark. Until then, the pregnancy would be my little secret. It would be a doddle, I thought.  It’s not as if there’d be any obvious tell-tale signs. I wasn’t waddling like Id been riding a horse just yet.  What on earth would give the game away? Apart from needing to sit next to a fan blowing freezing cold air on my face.to stop myself from nodding off at work. Oh, and heaving whenever Moira made me my morning brew in the staff-room. And ordering a grape juice during Friday night drinks after work. Oh. And then…hellooooooo morning sickness.

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Or rather, relentless, never ending, all day sickness.
I was walking through town one afternoon when the smell from a coffee shop sent me hurling and I turned quickly down an alcove where I subsequently chucked my guts up. Two women came running to my rescue and escorted me to a nearby bench where they helped me to sit down. I was convinced they thought I was an alchoholic and I wondered whether it might be appropriate around this time to spill the beans?

I held off.

The following day, I was driving to work when I was forced to lean out of the window to throw up down the side of my car. It happened again an hour later in the office. I couldn’t just be sick all over the floor so I had to be sick in my handbag . It stunk and I had to walk out of the office past about 50 people all gawping at me whilst I walked past them carrying a handbag full of my own spew.
‘Ok, fess up’ someone piped up. ’You’re preggers aren’t ya?’
I couldn’t hold it anymore (literally). ‘Yes. Yes, I am’, I confessed, feeling suddenly and immediately relieved that I could now vomit to my hearts content into my collection of nearby supermarket carrier bags. The ladies at work were fabulous. They fed me ginger biscuits until I reached 16 weeks, when I finally woke up one day to find that running to the bathroom to be sick wasn’t the first thing that I did.

Suddenly, I felt great. People were finally able to use the common pregnancy phrase ‘You’re glowing’ without sniggering into their wine glasses.

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At this stage, my body had also began to change shape. I’d lost a stone in weight due to the constant morning sickness, but I’d began to wonder if my eventual body shape would ever return to normal after pregnancy. I was confident that it would. I wasn’t going to fall foul to the common act of staying fat forever after having kids. What did bother me slightly though, was –what would my boobs look like? Were they doomed for saggy sock status or was there a way I could retain my current perky ones forever for just a few more years?

I logged onto a mums’ site for advice.

I found a thread that had already been started by another  woman who appeared to share my concern.  One of the responses was a bit cut-throat. “Do you care more about your t*** that you do about your baby’s milk?” one member implied. Crikey. Poor Lynn from Norfolk was only asking. And here was I thinking us women from St. Helens were tough.

I scrolled down to another thread that had also been occupying my mind a lot lately.That to do with baby names.
‘What do you think of my baby name for a boy?  Cameron.’ one member had asked. Some of the responses seemed a lot sweeter but it wasn’t long before a warrior came along with her wisdom again. ‘Do you know that the name Cameron means ‘crooked nose’? Do you really want your child to have to grow up being called crooked nose??!

Erm, well no, she doesn’t. Because that’s not his name. Otherwise she would have said -What do you think of my baby boys name -crooked nose?

Anyway.

I went to Whiston Hospital for my scans and everything looked well.A healthy baby, a growing tum. All I had to do now was get plenty of rest until the baby arrived before the sleepless nights kicked in.
I swear I  cursed myself.
Because for every f***** night that followed hereinafter, I had sleepless nights. Nights filled with insomnia and restless legs and wierd dreams.

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At least it’s preparation for when the sleepless nights with the baby kick in, I thought, settling down onto the sofa and popping the t.v on at 3am again for the 5th night running.
All I could find was phone in gambling shows and re-runs of Jeremy Kyle. (It was nothing like my teen years in the 90’s where late night t.v was all about weird horror shows and creepy documentaries. The twilight zone anyone?)

This is shit, I thought…

And then things got even shitter.

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I kept losing my keys and then finding them in the fridge.

I had to run to the loo every hour because the growing baby was pressing on my bladder.

I began to sniff all of my washing because I had a craving for washing powder and I couldn’t get enough crushed ice down my throat for the life of me.

I began to get increasingly nervous that I would do a big poo on the birthing table when I pushed the baby out.

I didn’t want to speak to any real life friends about this one, so tentatively, I consulted the  mums’ site again. ‘Do you really care more about whether you do a shit on the birthing table that you do about your helpless baby?’ came a response. Oh, forget it.

I logged off.

Anyway. Eventually, I went two weeks over and I had to be induced.  I was informed that I might be in for a couple of days or so,  so I took a holdall of activities as though I was going on a long haul flight. Playing cards. Snacks. Magazines. That sort of thing.

‘Ooooooh. This is like going aboad’, I said to Chris, as we landed at the hospital.

‘It’s nothing like going abroad’, said Chris, who was right. It was certainly no holiday. Six hours later and I was overdosing on gas and air; the contractions came thick and fast and I felt so very afraid. ‘I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to have a baby’ I declared, trying to get off the birthing table. I don’t know where I thought I was going.

‘The only way is out now, love’ said the midwife. ‘One big last push now’.

And about 2 minutes later, my beautiful little girl was born.

All I needed to do now was to log onto the mums’site to find out how on earth I was supposed to look after her!

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My boyfriend popped the question…

I was 28 when I got engaged. My boyfriend Chris had never had a romantic bone in his body and I’m quite a simple girl at heart and I’m easily pleased, so I wasn’t expecting an elaborate proposal of any kind. Still, I wouldn’t have been upset with a romantic backdrop when he did finally pop the question. Somewhere like Rome. Or Italy.
‘Pack your bags. We’re going away for the weekend’, said Chris. (Actually, I’m lying –he knows better than to boss me about. And he knows I hate surprises). I think what actually happened was that I’d harped on about all of the places I’d like to visit and about 6 months later, he’d finally got sick of my nagging and decided to take me somewhere.
‘Ooooh, are we going back to Portugal?’, I chanced, half excited/half concerned. ‘Because I haven’t got a new bikini…’
‘Erm, nope. We’re not. Road-trip’, said the boyfriend. ‘Wales’.
‘Wales?’.Why Wales? I didn’t want to go to Wales. Why would I want to go to bloody Wales?!
‘You said you liked it’, he looked a bit hurt. ‘You said –that you liked going to Abersoch as a child. So I thought I’d surprise you.’
Now, I should point out, I’ve never been to Abersoch as a child in my life. I might have mentioned that I’d been to Pwhelli in a caravan a couple of couple of times, but I don’t ever recall reminiscing dreamily about it.
Still, I’d heard good things about Abersoch with its “Cheshire by the sea” status. So, I went to grab the few essentials I’d need for a 2 night stay, and 3 large holdalls later, we were off.
Several hours later, we pulled up.
In Lllandudno.
About 40 miles away from Abersoch.
Chris was lost and was about to bust a vessel so to calm the situation down,  I suggested we take a walk along the beach front. We played in some arcades and there were some old war songs playing and a Punch and Judy show on the beach. There were a lot of really old people in Llandudno.
‘There’s a lot of really old people here’, Chris said, reading my mind.

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Chris suggested we stop off for a drink and so we went to a nearby pub and sat down inside, taking in our surroundings. Did I mention that there are lots of really old people in Llandudno? We sat down and Chris suddenly declared that he needed the loo. Before he went, he went to the bar and got me 2 drinks and large packet of crisps, which told me that he might be a while. I wasn’t wrong. 15 minutes passed before he returned.
‘Are you ready to go?’, he said, looking at the floor. He seemed a bit edgy. I drank up and we left.
‘What’s up with you?’, I asked, as we walked out of the pub and back up towards the sea front. (Turned out there’d been some sort of mini-drama in the loo. Chris had needed a cubicle; there was only one. The outside handle of said cubicle door had fallen off and when he went inside, the inside lock was jammed also. Inspired by Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, it seemed, he figured that taking off his shoes and wedging them under the door to hold it closed should provide him with 5 minutes peace and quiet. However, he was quickly interrupted. A pair shoes dormantly lying in view under the toilet door had prompted someone to raise the alarm that someone had croacked in there. Two bar maids had run at the door with a shoulder charge before one had given the other a leg up over the door to find Chris just sitting on the loo reading the Daily Mail!!)

The following day, we drove to Abersoch and checked into a lovely B&B. There was a visible lift to our spirits as we stepped out into the sun to the beach. By evening, we ventured out again and Chris suggested we take another walk along the beach. Romantic, eh? We strolled hand in hand along the sand from one side to the other. And then back the other way. Chris was looking a bit agitated though and his eyes were sort of darting around the floor in a weird sort of way and he seemed to be getting more irritable. Anyway, I was hungry and suggested we go and eat. ‘Um. Ok. I think we should walk back down the beach again first though. Just once more. ’
I tried to stay as upbeat and buoyant as I could, and reluctantly agreed, albeit sulking a little. I mean, the novelty of a romantic beach stroll was wearing off, and I WAS HUNGRY.
‘Ok, I’m getting pissed off now’, I caved in, when he wanted to walk the beach mile for a third time. ‘I’m starving and we must have walked about 4 mile now. What the hell is the matter with you?’
Chris looked hurt, and he leaned in to me and sort of loudly whispered ‘I’d, er, hid a bottle of wine along the beach earlier when you were having a nap. I was hoping you’d find it’.
‘You hid a bottle of wine!? What on earth for?’, I laughed. ‘What kind of alchi do you think I am? I mean, I get that the nightlife is a bit limited here in Abersoch but we could have always….’
‘Not a full bottle, smart-arse’, he spelled out, as if I was stupid. Adding – ‘An empty bottle…’
‘Empty!!? Why on earth would you want me to find an empty bottle of wine…Have you lost your mind?!.’
Chris looked disheartened and looking at the floor, he said glumly: ‘Umm. It had a message in it. Asking you if, you know, you wanted to get married or something…? It was supposed to be romantic. In my mind, it was romantic. I had it all planned out.’

It took about 20 seconds after the weird ramblings and casual affirmation for the penny to drop that he had planted a message in a bottle along the beach asking me to marry him.
‘Are you asking me to marry you?’ I couldn’t believe it. He’d got me a gorgeous ring with a beautifully sized diamond and everything.
‘Erm, yep. If you want to, that is?’

I said yes.  Chris got me a bottle of wine ( a full one ha ha) and we were officially engaged. I was almost a bit sorry that the old dears of :landudno weren’t there to give us three cheers.

 

 

Help! All my friends are getting engaged!

everyone is getting engaged

When I was 26 and newly single, no sooner had I listed all of the crazy adventures I was going to do with my friends, than they all went and got bloody engaged. My first week of singledom, and I was on my way out of the travel agents in town clutching a New York city breaks brochure (Number 1 on my bucket list) when I bumped into an old friend *Jenny.
“Oooohh, I just love..love…love New York’, Jenny squeeled at me.
“You do?” I replied, eagerly, feeling excited. “Wanna come?”, I nearly added, but held off.
“Yeah, I love it! You should defo go….I’m going for the 2nd time for New Year’s Eve. With my fiance *John. Can’t wait!”
Oh. Of course. Yep. Sounds amazing….
Three days later, I spotted another old friend *Lisa in town outside the bank. I’d only nipped in to see about getting a mortgage on my own and the next thing, I was about to be introduced to her body-building boyfriend, who’d just proposed to her that weekend. (Aparently, he was just inside the bank, extending something.)
His overdraft, I hoped.
“Oh my God, Mel, you should see it. It’s huge. It’s THIS BIG!’. She boinged her arms out exageratedly as if to demonstrate how big it was.
I could only hope she was referring to the size of the diamond.  Apparently, judging by the width of her current armspan, it was about the width of a wardrobe. Or a small house. And then suddenly, she thrust her fingers infront of my face and ‘bling’…
Geez, she wasn’t wrong. Her engagement ring looked like a bloody crystal dog collar wrapped around her hand.
‘Congratulations. Beautifull’, I beamed, somewhat falsely. ‘Made up for you, hun..and er…your boyfriend’.
Just out of cutiosity, I craned my neck around the door at the bank to try and catch a glimpse of Mr Bodybuilder himself. I had visions of him emerging through the doors like the incredible hulk himself. Or the Iron man. Or Geoff Capes. (I’m probably showing my age here knowing zilch about the current body building world).

I wasn’t wrong. Crikey, he was huge. Big veins and everything; I bet he properly squashed her in bed. Anyway, he came out of the bank and he shook my hand politely and I tried to think of something interesting to say to him. Did you see the worlds strongest man on telly? Have you ever accdientally strangled someone? Why is your head so small?
‘Congratulations’, I simply said, and I went on my way, feeling very, very delicate and small. ( I couldn’t help but wonder what she might have said if he’d have proposed with a ring that looked like this…

engagement ring
Three days later, I bumped into an old work mate on the retail park, pushing a double-buggy and dragging two toddlers behind her. Her baggy-arsed joggers and scraggy ponyy-tail weren’t far behind.
‘Can’t stop, Mel, sorry’. She went on to list 30 or so child related/ kiddie programme related/midwife appointment/hide and seeks/laundry mountain reasons why she couldn’t stop.
‘I’m shattered, you know. Well, I guess you wouldn’t know. I mean, look at you, with your hair extensions and your fake tan and….what a skinny Minnie too’.
‘Thanks’, I said, humbly. I’d made the effort, post break-up, like.‘It must feel amazing. To have so much time and so little to do (Cheeky cow!) You never get the chance with kids…you know?’
Well, clearly I didn’t but II found her tone very condescending, as if I had no real inclination of what hard work was.
Ok, I probably didn’t.
But still….
How patronising.

I smiled tightly. ‘Well, maybe in future, you should take your pill’, I quipped. She knew it made sense.
‘I know. It’s my fella. He just really wants a son’.
‘I see. Well, good luck with it’ I wished her and Henry VIII well and went about my way.
It was safe to say I felt a tad out of touch. I mean, how come everyone around me seemed to setting the date when I couldn’t even find a decent one? I was 26 – I could barely look after myself, let alone a baby! Urggghh, no thanks.
I mean, I could imagine it one day. In the future. One Christmas morning, I’d be handed a neatly wrapped silver box by the man of my dreams, finished with diamantes, shiny bows and ribbons all curled over with the blunt edge of scissors and I’d pull one end of the gift wrapped parcel and the ribbon would unfurl. I’d flip open the box, and gasp at the pattern of bright, sparkly diamonds glistening back at me like a constellation of stars in a clear, dark sky. “Marry me”, he’ say, and we’d live happily ever after. (In reality, I’d probably get handed something that resembled a brown paper parcel ready to be despatched from a warehouse production and secured with masking tape), but either way, I still had plenty of time for that, right?
Luckily, plenty of people agreed with me.
‘You’re still young. Enjoy yourself. The right man will come along when you stop looking and you least expect it’.
Er, hang on a minute. Rewind.
Now that one, I didn’t agree with.
Trust me, I’d been on the receiving end of men coming along when I least expected it, mainly when I wasn’t focussing 100% because I’d had 5 wines or something, and trust me, I barely wanted to spend the rest of my night with them, let alone my life.
So no. I HAD to keep looking. Vetting. Watching. Scrutinising. Assessing. I had to begin the serious search of finding Mr Right. After all, judging by my previous bad luck, the task of finding my perfect man was no doubt going to be an bumpy one.
So.
I was lucky enough to find a single friend to go out with. Luckier still, she had two other friends that were also single, so we became a quartet. We went on ‘THE’ shopping weeked to New York and visited every coctail bar that the northwest had to offer.
Around this time, our quartet expanded into a small gang of gals and guys from work who resided in and around Lark Lane and had also yet to find significant others or impregnate/become impregnated. Instead, we met up in The Albert and then bar crawled the Lane until the bouncers ordered us out and then ‘the gang’ would all pile back to Mickey’s house (Hi, Mike) as he had his own place on Alexandra Drive.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, one Sunday morning after the night before, I woke up on a settee in Mickey’s house wearing a man’s coat and felt something hairy touch my hand. I froze and the hairy arm groaned. ‘What the…?’
There was a newcomer in town – lying next to me on the sofa.
“Uh…Who are you?” I tried to lift my neck as it felt like it was in a brace.
‘Sean’, he supplied, jerking his head to throw his ruffled hair around. ‘I gave you my coat….…’ he went on, with delicious Celtic tones that floated over my fuzzy head. ‘And then you pulled me into the taxi, sure you did. Put the heart crossways in me, so you did. You looked deadly though, so I could hardly resist, so I couldn’t’. He winked at me and I fell in love.
Oh yes. I remember it well. Sort of. Not really. Basically, I’d kidnapped a cute Irish man at the taxi rank because he and looked sounded delicious.
“Anyone gasping?’ my friend *Hayley was stepping over last nights’ left over pizza crusts on the floor and she threw cans of cokes at us like a sea life keeper throwing out fish to begging sea-lions. “Ahh, sure that’ll be grand’, Irish Sean replied, a millisecond before one landed heavily on his groin.
He picked it up and cracked it open and the coke exploded upwards on him, drenching the whole of his t-shirt.
‘Ahh, ya eejit’, he said (I wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or Hayley), but next thing I know, Sean began to pull… off… his…. t-shirt…. In…. sloooowwwww motion to reveal a tanned, muscular, naaaaaaked torso (ok, it might not have been in slow-motion but think “diet-coke” advert complete with Etta James soundtrack here) and then, he slowly began to wring out the wet t-shirt, showing off his strong, muscular arms.
Oh –my- God.
I’d found him.
I’d found my future husband.
I knew God had a plan for me. I’d never doubted it.
I was going to marry Sean.

irish accent2
I gave Sean a lift home to his flat on Aigburth Road and he invited me up for a coffee. I glanced around his flat briefly as he chatted to me. I didn’t have a clue what he was saying (he could have been telling to **** off), but I could have sat and listened to his delicious tones all day.
I snapped myself out of it by asking him if I could use his bathroom.
Twenty seconds later, I was back.
“Um, where’s your toilet?”
“Oh. Haven’t got one. Building works. You can go down and use the communal gardens if you’re desperate, sure you can”. He winked at me at the end of his sentence again. I wasn’t sure if it was an Irish thing or it meant he was joking.
“Errr, oh. No thanks. I’ll wait”.
Eventually, I got too desperate for the loo and I felt that it was time that I should finally stop gawping at him and try to play it cool and leave, and Sean turned to me before I did and said ‘ I enjoyed the craic last night, sure I did. Maybe we could meet up again’.
I nodded, but I didn’t want too sound desperate and say when?
‘When?’ I said, sounding too desperate. ‘Should I ring you in the week?’
‘Ahh sure, that’ll be grand’, he winked at me again, which was pretty much his standard reply to everything.
1 week later.
I think I’d been a bit presumptuous about my impending marriage proposal off the Irish Diet Coke hunk. Especially as didn’t reply to my texts on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
‘Mel…’, Hayley said in a warning voice when she caught me inching my phone out of my bag to send him one last text, just to let him know that I was on my way out to the Lane if he fancied meeting me there. One last chance?
‘How many times has he even replied?’
‘Loads’, I lied.
Never.
And then suddenly, as if my Irish husband –to-be had been reading my mind, my phoned beeped. Soul-mates do that kinds of thing –don’t they?
‘Sox an busty’, it said. It was from Sean.
Yeeeeees! He’d replied!
What he’d replied, I didn’t know (Sox and busty?), but it was communication, which was a start, eh? All good things had to start somewhere.
Like the cloud of gas that started the world.
Or Eve out of Adams rib.
Anyway. I tried to solve the mystery of the autocorrect fail of ‘sox am busty’ and Hayley got in on the game aswell.
Which soon appeared to be a game for the phonetically challenged.
‘Sex and busty?, Hayley chanced. Or ‘Sex and booze?’
Why?
‘Maybe its socks and something. ‘Socks and besty’? ‘Sex on a bus?’
Again. Why?
‘Okay. What about ‘Sod it busty?’ Or…oh, hang on a minute…I’ve got it….
‘Sod off beast’
Umm. Thanks Hayles.
None the wiser, I dragged poor Hayley down the Lane and we went for a wine. Or 3. I’d been out about 45 minutes feeling increasingly confident that the Hayley might have had a point with ‘Sod off beast’ when in he walked…
‘OMG, he’s here! He’s come to meet me, he really has!’, I squealed. Okay. Okay. Play it cool, Mel. Play. It. Cool.
I tried to play it cool by acting as if I hadn’t seen him for about 20 minutes, before eventually deciding to walk deliberately by in his line of vision on my way to the toilets. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see that he was playing it cool too and acting as if he hadn’t noticed me either. It didn’t matter: I knew we were sending each other secret vibes across the room and watching each other discreetly as if we were under secret surveillance. Back in my chair, I moved myself into a flirtatious position and started twirling my hair and laughing falsely to make myself look more bubbly and fun.
About twenty seconds after that, I noticed, out of my peripheral vision, that he was looking at someone else. Quite intensely. A gorgeous girl standing right beside him, chatting down his ear. ‘Hmmm. Who’s that?, I wondered, feeling slightly agitated. The rational part of my brain tried to tell me it was probably just a friend. Or his cousin. Or his sister. That was probable, right? I mean, the last Irish guy I’d met had 14 sisters or something. And that’s a good thing right? I mean, I liked big families. I’d be married and pregnant with babies in no time with Sean and soon I’d have 11 little Connors playing Gaelic football whilst Shannon and Niamh were off doing their Irish dancing class and we’d live in Dublin and go to Dublin zoo and then go to Temple bar and drink Guinness. Except now, thinking about it, I’m sure he’d said he lived in Donegal. I’d googled it since, and apparently, parts of Donegal can be quite remote. In the sticks. One visitor said it had a beautiful landscape and there were houses with ponies grazing over the fence and a big south facing window that looked out to fields and trees. Nothing for miles but fields and trees. You needed a car just to get to civilisation.
That sounded crap.
Ahh, well, not to worry.
It might be relaxing. Like a retreat.
Anyway. Friend/cousin/sister had disappeared by now. But he still didn’t come over. Hmmmppphhh. Why had he said he wanted to see me again if he didn’t? And how on earth was I ever going to get someone from the male species to ever propose to me when I didn’t understand them at all? Men were weird. End of.
Hayley said we were leaving. She was bored of my weird stalkerish ways and she wanted to go home. ‘Face it. He’s not interested’, she said, matter of factly, painfully whipping me back to reality.
She dragged me past the bar where I brushed past Sean and his Catholic sister, and not before time, he said hi to me.
Unenthusiastically.
‘Oh. Hi’, he said.
He sounded very disappointed to see me.
He also sounded very much a like a Brummie.
Weird.
He had a perfectly decent explanation for it when he saw my face fold into a very confused frown.
The thing was, he’d meant to tell me, his name wasn’t really Sean and he wasn’t really Irish. His name was Kevin and he was from Birmingham.
‘But…why?’ I seemed to be asking this a lot that night.
There was a simple reason: He liked to pretend to be Irish when he went out because it had never failed to get him girls.
Ok.
Right.

spray-irish brummie 1

irish accent1ozzy brummie     proud-to-be-a-brummie-2
So what now then?
For a second or two I thought it was quite endearing. That he’d been avoiding me because he’d realised I’d be a bit crestfallen at the realisation that I wasn’t going to be Mrs Murphy at all but married to someone with a shit accent called Kevin.
Bless.
But alas, I was wrong again. He just didn’t like me, that was all.
Before I’d even had chance to point out that we still might be finely matched ( God loves a trier, doesn’t he) and that I loved Birmingham  (I do -especially the Bullring shopping centre and the Christmas Markets)- he declared that he was doing one.
‘I think I’ve left the chip pan on. I’ve got to go. Nice to meet you, er…Mel? Good luck  Bye.’
‘Oh. Um, ok’ I replied.’Bye then. KEVIN’
As he left, he accidentally knocked my elbow and it spilt the top of my diet coke over his t-shirt.
‘Oooops. SORRY. KEVIN. Perhaps when you get back to your flat you can change into something more comfortable’. Like a coma!
And so the search for Mr Right continued. WAS I EVER GOING TO FIND A NORMAL, DECENT BOYFRIEND!??

 

P.S.Oh, and  In case you were wondering -the text he’d sent had said ‘Soz I’m busy’.

 

 

.

When you move back home to your folks…

There are times –desperate times, mind- when one becomes an adult but must return home to live at their parents abode.

moving home

(I was 25, crying buckets and carrying a very large holdall and an even heavier heart.)
Mum was amidst one her regular cleaning frenzies when I stepped over a pile of shoes at the back door that resembled sandbags preventing a flood. Had she been expecting me and my tears?
‘Muuuuuum, I’m home!’ I bawled through my streaming eyes. (I can just see my brother now sniggering and pointing at my weeping heart, the sociopath. He always laughed in very serious situations).
20 seconds later mum appeared from the lounge. ‘Oh. What are you doing here?’, she was humming along to Radio 2 and carrying cups and random bits that she was centralising into the kitchen. ‘I thought you were your dad then, coming back in to tell me I was hoarding too much junk’. She gestured her head towards the garage and I craned my neck to see dad and a couple of broken deckchairs making their way out, along with oil cans and old bikes that didn’t work. The quality street tin of screws were making their way back in.
’Oh, Melanie, what’s happened?’, mum suddenly looked concerned when I unzipped my holdall and my entire wardrobe fell onto her newly cleaned floor in a heap. (More concerned by the mess, I assume, as she quickly began to gather them all back up).
‘It’s Neil’, I sobbed. ‘He’s…he’s…broken….Before I had chance to convey that he’d broken my heart and that I felt…well…heartbroken….dad thrust his head around the back door to find out what had broken. (Dad was always sharing his little nuggets of wisdom. Popular ones were ‘don’t get pregnant, don’t spend money you don’t have and always put oil in your car.)
“If it’s about that bloody car again, how many times have I told you to check your oil…”).
‘Jim, be quiet…’ Mum hushed him away quickly as if he was omitting poisonous gas before she leant into my ear. ‘Best not tell your dad too much. You know how he worries, Mel. He’ll be panicking about how you’ll pay your rent if you’ve split up with Neil’ .
Mum’s just know everything, don’t they?
‘Although you could probably get a friend to move in with you if worse comes to worse. Goodness knows who though.’
I was faintly amused. Thanks for the vote of confidence, mother.
‘Well, I was thinking I could just live somewhere temporarily’, I sniffled.
‘Perhaps, yes’
‘I could find somewhere else to rent’
‘Maybe you could’.
‘Or perhaps I could move back in here for a while? Save up some cash? ’
‘Perhaps you could. Yes. If you want’.

The deal was sealed. You snooze, you loose, mum. Soz. I lugged my stuff up to my old bedroom and threw my holdall down onto my old small single bed. There was something very comforting about being in my childhood bedroom. My old hi-fi, curling tongs, tattie teddies and a dream-catcher over my door from my best friend when I was about 13 remained intouched in my old bedroom. I felt nostalgic and special.
For about a mili –second.
‘It’s bloody freezing up here, mum. Do you not have the heating on? I called downstairs. ‘Put a jumper on if you’re cold’ came the reply back up the stairs. ‘That’s the rule under this roof’. Er, ok. Why couldn’t the house rule just involve putting the heating on?
It could, apparently, if I was paying for it. I wasn’t. Ok, soz mum. Again. I guess it made a change from the constant “Who left the f****** heating on all night again?” argument I had when I lived with Neil. Mum said the alternative was that I could go and get a flat share again. (She had me over a barrel on this one since my last flatshare a couple of years previous: I don’t have a problem with men toilet reading, KEITH FROM WARRINGTON, but taking a cup of coffee and a tuna sandwich into the toilet with you is just plain wrong. And even more so when the can of tuna had MY NAME labelled on it).
I was just gonna have to grin and bear it then.
Luckily, my early feelings of impending doom were softened by the sounds of mum’s hissing family heirloom pressure cooker the following Sunday. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a fully stocked fridge.

moving-out-meme-

 

Even if mum kept filling it with the weird things that she kept in her fridge. Tinned stuff. In the fridge. there was a bag of potatoes in there too. Who keeps potatoes in the fridge?  Anyway, by the time my bro Ste had finished wedging all of mum’s cooked turkey between about 27 rounds of bread and had moved onto about his third pint of milk, mum had put her foot down. ‘Steven! I only have that last pint before the milk-man comes tomorrow!’
Milkman?
‘Don’t worry mum, I can pick some up on my way to the shop as I was thinking of trying that new Thai place next door to it?’
Thai place?’, mum and dad both looked at each other concerned. ‘Erm, no. We don’t like any of that unusual stuff’. This coming from people who ate liver and onions for their tea.
It’s fair to say that I found moving home to my parents strange. Like, why did my parents get up at 7 even if they weren’t going to work? And since when had they taken up so much walking? And why hadn’t they updated their furnishings for the last 30 years?

child of the 1980s 1  10314610_1647474778847388_8666234119089008136_n
Most of the time we could barely finish a conversation within the house without there being some sort of translation issue. “You’re brothers downloaded what? A piracy film? Since when was our Steven into pirates, Melanie?’
Oh, forget it.
‘I can’t cope in this house’, I’d plea to the Gods, on more than one occasion, interrupting my folks perusing of the obituaries in the local paper.
‘Good’, mum would retort. ‘Let me remind you Melanie, THAT THIS IS MY HOUSE. You’re living here, in my house, in a nice, comfy, warm (debateable) house with free food and clean laundry. And you come and go like it’s a hotel as you please. I’d consider yourself very lucky, young lady.’
Hmmpph!!
She was right, my mum, though. Time taught me that. She never once asked me for a penny in rent whilst I was there, you know. (Probably because she knew I’d never save up for a deposit of my own and move out if she ever did!). She ironed all of my clothes too. And aside from doing those things, she didn’t actually treat me like a child (‘Where are you going? What time will you be home?’), that sort of thing. In fairness, if she ever actually did, it was mainly so she knew whether to make me any liver and onions for my tea, which was always a definite no.
“Carry on treating her this well Marj and she’ll never bloody leave –how are we suppsed to move in with our kids when we’re old and senile if we can’t get rid of them in the first bloody place?” Dad wanted to know.
But that didn’t stop my mum, my guardian angel, from continuing in her efforts to protect me from a safe distance.
Like when, a week later, I made the hysterical mistake of trying to seek revenge on my ex Neil by flogging his half of our Coldplay tickets for a gig in Barcelona (“Erm, nope Mel”, he smirked calmly down the phone “Sorry. I’ve got my ticket right here. Just booking my flights as we speak, actually. You must have sold your own one”). Arrrgggggggghhhhhhhhh! (Let that serve as a reminder to you to always remain dignified post break-up, eh).
Anyway, sensing my upset, mum came home from work the following day and someone had mysteriously given her 2 free tickets for a Coldplay tribute act (Goldplay or something).
It wasn’t quite the same.
Even moreso since she’d had to slip our Ste a few twenty’s to force his hand into accompanying me. Or worse, put a gun to his head. He’d never really ‘got’ Coldplay and he didn’t even try to cover up the bribe either, the reprobate (“Mum thinks you shouldn’t suffer alone. She wants me to suffer too. So now I gotta come with you to that gig and then we can both suffer together. Should I write the suicide note or you?”)
Pah! What did that little sociapathic shit know? There’s nothing more comforting after a break up than drowning your sorrows to depressing songs and knowing others too have experienced your tormented soul. It’s therapeutic. Proven scientifically I reckon, and my mum knew it too, bless her). Dad swiftly got into the act of helping my broken heart too. Although he was far too proud to acknowledge it. Instead, he got some clippings from the paper about the prevalence of pick-pockets in Barcelona and left them casual lying around on the kitchen sideboard for my perusal. And all those little nuggest of wisdom he shared– well, they began to came in handy. I did’t get pregnant (didn’t get the chance to living there!); I didn’t spend money I didn’t have and when I finally gathered a deposit for a new flat (thanks also to a small loan from pops, I must add), I had oil in my car for when I finally tooted my horn and said toodle-pip. (Dad turned up a day later armed with paint, screws and a hammer and got to work helping to make my new flat a home).

‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come back?’, I asked dad (I’d got used to having people around-even Sociopathic Steven if I was honest. Life on my own suddenly felt a bit bleak for the first week or two)  Mum and dad were as gracious as ever and said I could always return home whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted.

And then the following week they retired to Spain.