Friday, 29 June 2012



A quick update:

Rob and I split up on Tuesday.

I am fine,the boys are fine, so is Rob. I am going to keep the blog going, but an obvious recovery period will be needed.

Hope to catch up with your posts soon.


Monday, 25 June 2012

Celebrating mediocrity

I see so many inspiring photographs on blogs. Beautifully captured moments which tell a story. Artistic skill and attention to detail, sound knowledge of software, photography techniques and creative display methods.

You can tell a lot about someone's life by the photographs they share.

The boys were home from school on Friday. They watched The Incredibles.

Something Mr Incredible said caught my attention:

"They keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity"

I think that's my life summed up!

Here's the photographic evidence...

Iron bridge (no sore lips for me)

Being of Sound Mind

Spilt dog biscuits looked like camouflage once wet

At my friend's flat, she looks nonplussed 

Love the font

Once is unfortunate, twice...

I'd love to know what they overhear

Hope to share something more interesting next time.

What does your photography say about you?

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Human Chrysalis

The novelty of being able to traipse the charity shops alone is starting to wear off. Weekday meanders through Pontypridd are rarely uplifting experiences.
Today, I felt out of place owing to  the absence of a walking stick, buggy, carer or bag of cans.

I entered Barnrdo's charity shop.  Upon noticing the volunteer on duty, I steeled myself
In her early seventies; tall, slender and immaculately groomed, Barbara cuts a rather elegant figure. Long fingernails coated in thick pearlised pink polish set off her heavily accessorised fingers. Beige hair and custard-cream toned clothing lead you down to three-tone metallic leather shoes.
Barbara loves to chat,  I have lost count of the number of times she's told me about her successful. childless daughters. "I wish one of them was simple, I'd have had grandchildren then!"

The conversation starts,

"Hiya love, how's the boy doing?"

"Sonny loves school Barbara, how are you?"

Why do I ask? Why?

"Well, I'm still alive love!!"

A young man enters the shop with an unlit rolled-up cigarette perched between his dry lips. His demeanour is       
nervous, impatient, like a criminal waiting for an accomplice to finish the 'job'.

Barbara often attempts to engage the whole shop in a conversation, even on very busy days, gesturing at his roll-up, she says:

"Never smoked, me. Never tried it. Don't know what it tastes like"

Still rifling through a rail of faded mid-nineties t-shirts, the nervy smoker pipes up:

"Wish I'd never bloody tried it" 

Barbara then treated us to a rather fantastical story (though who I am to doubt the truth in it?)

My mother smoked all her life, loved her fags, she did.  I had to take my burgundy velvet curtains to the dry cleaners after her visits.
When she was dying, I had her living with me, I kept her alive for a year, I did, the doctor told me that. Anyway, she gave up smoking. 
One day, she was in the bathroom [I've got TWO bathrooms in my detached bungalow] and she called me, screaming, she was.
I walked in, and had the shock of my life! All of her skin had shed, in one layer. Like a sheet, it was.
The doctor said it's from giving up smoking. She looked like a young girl.

Bemused, I left the shop and headed home.

Why the detail about two bathrooms?

At home, I thought about looking for a job. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A story

Here is the story I entered into a competition. Thought I'd share it because it didn't get short-listed.

The opening paragraph was written by author Rosmund Lupton, entries were to follow this with a first chapter of between 800 and 1000 words.

You have to buy the magazine to read the first prize entry, the two runner-up entries can be read here.

I wonder if my attempt is a little disjointed and cheesy, but i did enjoy writing it, and will keep practising... 

The swaying of the train made her hands grip around her bag as if it was anchored and could support her. Outside the window, the trees were a blur of greens and it seemed to the woman as if it were the trees not the train which were moving, hurrying away from her, putting green distance between them. She’d started the journey with clearly defined logical reasons for it, which she’d neatly stacked up like a wall. But the rocking of the train, the judder as it had speeded up, had toppled them and the truth was now visible, poking out and ugly to her. Outside the window the moving haze of green trees was replaced by the still hard edges of a grey platform. She’d arrived.

People moved hurriedly and purposefully. Martha slowly looked around, she needed to find  her bearings. The toilets were dimly-lit, with mirrors protected by sheets of scratched perspex.  It was hazy, but the reflection clearly showed a tired and pained face.

The city, awash with dirty water. Fluorescent shop lighting and occasional flashes of flowing pillar-box red hair stopped it looking like a black and white film set.
Heavy rain forced people to bow their heads. Perfect funeral weather, a sad sky mourned the loss of its sun.

There was an hour to kill, easy in an identikit post-industrial city. Familiar cafes, familiar shops, unfamiliar faces.

Something about the narrow shopping arcade beckoned, perhaps she was lured by the unknown. Shops and cafes manned by owners, not staff, with handwritten signs - unique places.

Martha chose a cafe which screamed Shabby Chic, jars filled with marshmallows, sugared almonds and macaroons adorned the shelves. Myriad pastel hues and subtle lighting, sweet peas in old bottles on the table, very cosy.
Good coffee and robust home-baked cakes were usually a delight to the senses but
now, all she could stomach was a pot of delicately perfumed Earl Grey.

To distract herself from thoughts of the afternoon ahead, Martha looked out of the window. An elderly couple glanced at the chalkboard menu. His face looked as though it had been painted with a wishy-washy mix of purple, white and red.  The lady shook her head - prices too high and coffee not milky enough, probably.
Time and aging, regret and longing - never righting the wrongs. Such thoughts enveloped Martha in despair.

"The wettest week I've known for years" said the cafe owner. Martha could tell she was the owner, there was so much pride in the way she wiped the distressed oak tables and organised everything. Welcoming the distraction of dialogue, she searched her mind for a rhetorical response.
"Good or bad for business? I mean, in some ways people will be drawn to shelter, but others will just opt to stay home".

"Business ticks over, you never know when you're in for a rush or a lull.

Martha ran her fingers over the scroll pattern on her teaspoon and wiped the pale amber drips of tea from outside the cup. As if sensing her need for distraction, the cafe owner asked if this was the first time she had visited.

"Only, we have a loyalty scheme, I can give you a card if you'll be coming back".

"I used to live here, but I'm only here for the day. I will take a card though, I may be back - you never know".

Though, Martha could never imagine coming back.

With the spoon lined up equidistant from the cup and saucer, chair placed squarely back in place, it was time to leave.

Martha caught her reflection in a large blacked-out window. There she was - a slightly padded version of the young lady who had spent many nights in that city. Dancing and drinking, every last penny wasted trying to create the perfect weekend, to blank out reality and forget.

Feeling anonymous among the sea of faces, she drew comfort from blending in with her surroundings, being part of the shuffling throng.
Occasionally, someone would catch her attention and come into sharp focus. One lady had been on the same train, she wore a cerise mac. The tie belt skirted dangerously close to the ground on one side. Martha longed to pull the belt, even it up.
There was a longing to straighten out so many things in her life.

Looking up at the sky as grey gulls floated and swooped, hungry for fast food, Martha took a very deep breath.
It was almost time to go to the chapel,  no going back. Surely this journey still had a purpose? She refused to even consider using the word closure, all hope of that was gone.

The taxi rank was in the same place as years ago, only now there were double the number of cabs. Flashbacks to teetering on four inch heels across the cobbled paving, chips in hand, cold exposed arms covered in goosebumps. Of ending a night out feeling sad, wishing it could go on forever,  music, laughter and bright lights instead of that thump of dark silence. These memories didn’t feel at all distant.

Martha’s heart and stomach became overwhelmed with spasms of pulsating anxiety, getting into a taxi was the final part of her journey and made the feelings she’d experienced on the train fade into insignificance.

Perhaps it was a good thing - encountering the world’s nosiest, chattiest taxi driver. If only he hadn’t decided to talk about the funeral.

“Union Chapel, eh? I’m guessing from the black outfit that you’re going to a funeral...clever me eh?”

It was hard to reply, despite it being obvious this was not a quirky date with a fellow wearer of sombre black attire, she wanted to keep the details to herself.

“Yes, the funeral is at 1.30, I’ve come down from up North”

“That's gonna be a busy one, good job you’ll be getting there early. Terrible when someone young dies, innit? Such a waste.”

The taxi driver had summed up her feelings. Such a waste. Twenty years of waiting, thinking, dreaming and hoping. A past brought to life and shattered so suddenly.

All that loneliness and heartache for this, a chance to say goodbye for the second and last time.  Martha felt the physical pain of grief stab her coldly and deeply.  Smoothing down her skirt, she paid the driver as he said “I’ll see you again love”.

They had been her final words to her son.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Premonitions, Scratch-Cards, Shelters

Yesterday we enjoyed the wettest, coldest, smallest and most modest 'street' party imaginable. Huddled under a skilfully erected tarpaulin shelter, we learned a lot...
...rain doesn't matter when you're aged between 7 months and 10 years old.
Crisps are all you need to fuel children.

Who really cares what anyone thinks about the royal family?  They're here, they're normal people masquerading as some kind of other-worldly beings, and I don't envy them at all. Maybe I envy Middleton's waistline, but that's it. Waving, having a Maureen from Psychoville hairdo, listening to obsequious and nervous idiots telling you stuff you couldn't care less about - a tough job.

The best thing I read about the whole Jubilee shenanigans was this post.

Maureen, Psychoville

At the corner shop this afternoon, I was overwhelmed by a sudden and irresistible urge to purchase a lottery scratch-card. Gambling isn't an addiction I can imagine fully immersing myself in. Maybe alcoholism,.definitely food, possibly class B drugs. Throwing money around chasing unattainable larger sums of money, only to throw that away if a miracle occurs - no thanks.

I remember my mother's friend saying her agoraphobic sister had a mild  prescription painkiller dependency - "she pops a couple of Co-Proxamol and then she's on QVC buying all sorts of crap".  That sounds great fun. Maybe I'll try that when I'm elderly.

I was in the shop quite a while, rather like a 1950's housewife, I while away plenty of time there, eager to catch a bit of juicy gossip, or witness some blog-worthy display of uncouth human behaviour.

The green veg at the shop had turned grey - I offered to make some soup for Saj to sell at a pound per cup. My entrepreneurial skills know no bounds.

Saj declined my offer, and I won NOTHING on the scratch-card.The customers were mainly purchasing cigarettes and alcohol (recession? What recession!).
Back to the drawing board for me.

Earlier this evening, I picked Liam up from his dad's house.
Liam was supposed to be camping this week with his friend, dad, and dad's partner. As Liam's dad was playing golf, I chatted to his partner about the abandoned camping trip. Much bickering had ensued following an attempt to erect the tent in gale-force winds and torrential rain on a sodden field. Liam's dad was determined to get the tent up, determined to laugh in the face of wind, rain, mud, grumpy pre-teens and a simpering, damp, smelly coquettish dog.

"Men!" I exclaimed in a clichĂ© and over-the-top tone. "Why do they feel the need have to  prove themselves by  providing an inferior shelter, when they have a perfectly sturdy,cosy and functional home?".

I was, of course, referring to the tarpaulin shelters which took Rob, Ken and Stuart (plus various other gentlemen in the street who rubbed their chins, squinted and laughed before retiring to the safety of their brick-built castles) two hours to tether in place

I must admit though, despite much tutting, eye-rolling and negativity from us ladies, it was great being outdoors; watching the children play happily and mingling with people I was barely on nodding terms with before.

I also got to meet Sue, the lady I said this about in a previous post:

"A new addition to my 'I've seen you before' file, intrigues me. I reckon I'll get to know her one day, she seems worth getting to know. I like her clothes and the way she looks up, not just around. I'd say she's in her mid forties, lives alone, and suffers from depression - her eyes look quite sad, like they're desperate to be rinsed out with cold water and shown a bright picture."

Turns out, she has recently moved into the next street, and is very pleasant indeed.

 Sue is joining a few friends and I for drinks tomorrow night. My premonition was right. Fancy that!