On the upside…

Monday 30 May 2022

Oh what a fortnight! My son starting GCSEs, my classes also doing examinations and me facing job interviews … all mixed together with illness and a dental divorce!

Yes, for someone who is ‘never ill’ , my timing really couldn’t have been worse!

I am sent home, vomiting like a woman possessed, on the eve of GCSE maths paper 1. Full of guilt that lovely year 11 class are gathering for post-school revision with pizza … and I am not there! (Grateful as can be to my wonderful colleagues who welcome them into other classrooms.)

At home, my plans to be ‘super supportive mum of the year’ also take a nose dive. Smallboy asks for help with some algebraic proof but, although I try, I am unable to make it to the top of the stairs before I have to lie down … on the landing carpet … and I am sent back to bed.

Never mind mum. We’ll just have to pick it up on the next 2 papers!”

says my kind-hearted boy as I collapse back under the duvet.

For the next couple of days I fail to even leave my darkened room.

What is this foul ailment?”

I cry, struggling to recall the last time I was out of action for more than 24 hours.

Then come the job interviews

Why? Why now? Oh why indeed?’

A stressful week starts with me, in a washed-out daze stumbling through 2 hectic days of tasks, panels and presentations. Day 1 is not my finest hour and to say that I fail to ‘sparkle‘ would be an understatement. Nonetheless, I do see it through to the end and still await my fate.

Alas, as I wearily try to rally for interview 2, I discover that, to top things off nicely, one of my fillings has fallen out. So I flounder through the second appointment avoiding all offers of food and drink and trying to ignore the fact that I now feel rather feverish and appear to have a huge cavern in my mouth! At this establishment, I am informed that I have not been successful … and I completely understand why.

Next morning, I drag myself back to work, anticipating some (understandable) backlash from pupils who could be forgiven, mid-exam season, for feeling a little bit abandoned. But my classes are anything but resentful. Teenagers run across the yard, stop me in the corridors and gather around me in the canteen.

“Miss, how are you?”

Are you better now? You looked really ill last week!”

“So glad to have you back! We’ve missed you!”

It is a humbling and overwhelming welcome. Feeling a tad emotional, I conclude, not for the first time, that children are often a lot nicer than adults!

They are certainly a lot nicer than my dental practice, who inform me that, due to missing some check-ups, I have been ‘removed‘ as a patient. Left, abandoned, cast out… and told to take my ‘emergency situation‘ elsewhere.

Many phone calls later, I eventually find a dentist who can treat me at the weekend and, in the interim, I bung up the gap with some ghastly home-made remedy from the internet.

So, where oh where are the upsides?’ I hear you ask.

Well, firstly, it definitely makes me look at my current job with renewed affection. My pupils evoke a striking reminder that, in a profession like mine, value is not always found by looking within for self-fulfilment, but sometimes by seeing yourself through the eyes of others and the impact you have upon them. So even if interview number 1 yields a job offer, I will think long and hard about whether or not the post merits giving up the important role I deliver at the moment.

Secondly, I find a great new dentist. Open on Saturday, closer to home and…. he even compliments me on the ‘great job’ I’ve done with my Google-gloop!

‘You could be a dentist!’ he jokes good naturedly

Ha ha ha – but probably, methinks, not my next career move!

And finally….I actually feel okay today! And wellness after 2 long weeks of pain, nausea, and exhaustion just feels like heaven. Long may it last…

Bank Holidays – what’s not to love?

Monday 1 May 2022

Deborah Meaden and other business leaders grab the headlines this week proposing that 2022’s additional Jubilee bank holiday should be made a permanent fixture of the UK calendar. Well after a truly lovely long weekend, they’ve got my full support!

The joy of a bank holiday Monday! When the shadow of work is pushed into the distant realms of Tuesday, a time so far away that you really do feel motivated to made the most of every minute of the weekend!

I get off to a flying start, with a Friday meal out for me and my 2 younger offspring. It is Prom-dress daughter’s final weekend at home and, as both she and her brother have made it through exams this week, there is, I conclude, ‘every reason’ to celebrate with fruity mohitos and trendy ‘hanging-from-the-skewer’ food at a local restaurant.

On a sunny Saturday, I navigate and jolt along on the bus systems of Lancashire to “do tapas” and a few glasses of wine with some work colleagues. By Sunday, I am visiting family in Ikley, (via a Leeds station to dispatch Prom-dress daughter back on a cross-country train to university-land.) The Yorkshire town is a delight of ‘cafe culture’ with bars and eateries prettily dotted along the high street and proves the perfect venue for a catch-up and a cheeky brunch. The market is in full swing, the bookshops are fantastic, time drifts idyllically by and, not for the first time, I catch myself wondering ‘why don’t I live in a place like this?

But … as it turns out…the place where I do live also has something special too offer this weekend.

Back in January, someone I had not seen since my college days got in touch out of the blue. Whilst life distracted me a little in the following months, on Sunday night, we finally manage to meet up and, faced with the challenge of filling in over 35 years, sink a bottle of wine and a few cocktails together. And it is fun. In fact, it is more than fun… it feels like … coming home. “It is amazing’ he texts later, ‘how I can still place the 18 year old Becky, in the Becky of today’. And it is amazing; even a little bit magical to be reminded of who we are inside, when all the layers of life, daily toil and grown-up roles and responsibilities are pushed aside.

And so to Monday! And whilst, after a morning run and a friend visiting for coffee, life loses a little of its holiday sheen and I get back to the more mundane ‘weekend business’ of shopping, washing and work prep, I’ll confess I do it all fairly rapidly, with a happy, and at times dreamy, smile on my face. It it down to the thrill of the day away from work? Or is the buzz from catching up with so many family, friends and a long lost acquaintance? Who can tell? But in a weekend enriched with extra time and space, life certainly feels more ‘lived to the full’ than usual.

More times like this can only be a good thing, so it is a definite thumbs up from me for the establishment of a Thank Holiday in the UK. In fact, if I’m honest … I could happily go for a three day weekend as a permanent hebdomadal pattern in my world!

Welcome to May everyone; let’s hope it is a good month…

Victoria Station…

Saturday 29 May 2021

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport…”

Love Actually: Richard Curtis 2003

Well it’s not Heathrow for me today, it’s Manchester Victoria; my Eldest child is coming home for a week and I am planning, with great excitement, to pick her up

Victoria Station, a grand old 19 Century building and my favourite railway terminus in the city. Not all love it, as I do. In fact, in 2009, it was named the ‘Worst Station in the UK and has since been significantly renovated. But that cannot have been a vote about the architecture; the Victorian facade, the lovely domes, the charming tiles on the interior and,  for me, the very best feature –  those evocative destination signs posted on the station front, which seem to capture the excitement of travel and exploration in bygone centuries. Surely it was just an outcry about facilities and repair?

I like to think that it was. And, as I have stood watching the teens playing Christmas Carols with our local band over many years, I have certainly been grateful for the new roof. I am also a fan of the delightful Java Bar Expresso, deliciously tucked into a corner of the concourse and the perfect spot for bit of reading, dreaming or just people watching.  And that is the vision I have, as I hop out of bed to face the day. Arrive early, a fancy Italian coffee, me, my kindle and a hour of tranquility. Utter bliss after a really tough and stressful term at work.

Alas… it does not quite turn out that way. Around midday, as I, still rather sweaty from an early run, am catching up on some chores my phone pings. My daughter’s arrival time is a full hour and a half earlier than any of us were expecting! So it is ‘adios’ to hopeful Brief Encounter images of me in any coffee bar, enigmatically perusing my novel, and instead, a mad dash to shower, tame my hair and dive into the car. Prom-dress daughter further shatters the concept of sumptuous solitude by leaping into the seat beside me… but thank the Lord that she does. Mid-Manchester is an anarchy of traffic roadworks and…closed car parks. As the clock ticks down, I find myself, in growing panic careering round the city centre streets unable to find any spot to stop in and, in desperation, flaunting occasional ‘bus and taxi only’ zones!  But teens, at least my teens, don’t do hysteria. My middle child just taps into some ‘map-app’ on her phone and takes charge, calmly and commandingly steering me to the front of the station where her sister, plus friend are ready to jump in and head homeward.

We catch-up, we share funny stories, we talk through any worries and we head out for an evening meal.  Even if everything didn’t quite go to plan, this feels like a pretty good start to half term. Manchester Victoria – alas, it was not a day to stop and sit and drink in your charm and style but it is a day to thank you for bringing my girl home!

Smile?

Sunday 23 May 2021

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
…”

Composer: Charlie Chaplin with lyrics by Turner and Parsons

I am sure that at one time or another, we’ve all tried to fake a brave smile in the face of adversity. But is that notion of cheerily ploughing on come what may, the quintessential ‘British stiff upper lip’, always good for you?

Well, ‘yes’ says Nabin Paudyal in Life Hack’s ‘10 reasons you should smile more often.‘ He argues that smiling not only reflects happiness but that it can also trick your brain into actually feeling happier. And countless other writers agree. Why to many, the seemingly simple smile is unrivalled in it powers. From making you more attractive and a better leader to claims that it can even prolong your life. Let’s get grinning right now everyone?

But ‘no’ counters Live Science’s Agate Blaszczak-Boxe in the article Why Smiling Too Much May Be Bad for You, where it it proposed that smiling too much when you are ‘faking it’ can actually make you feel worse. The conclusion here is that , “Whether a wide grin will hurt your emotional well-being depends on the motivation behind it,...”

So I really don’t know but I do think, as I look back as some old family photos that the false smile, for me and my teens, is pretty easy to spot. Here goes!

Holiday in Ireland – a year before the family break-up
First Communion for my Eldest – 2 months after family break-up
Our new life in the N West 3 years after family break-up
My confident squad on Holiday in 2019

It’s all about the second photo for me. First Communion for my Eldest, a few weeks after ex Hub left the family home. Gosh we look a tense and nervous quartet. Unsure, uncertain and uncomfortable. I recall that the children’s dad did not come and so we presented ourselves to the world, for the first time, in the most family-orientated of settings, as a lone parent unit. Which sounds as if it would have been very daunting. But I have to be honest… only ‘sounds as if’…. because, on a very startling note, I remember absolutely nothing else about any emotions on the day. Were we feeling sad and sacred? Were we worrying about the unknown future that lay ahead? I’d be lying if I claimed I knew!

So if this is you, currently finding the strength to face a conventional world as a slightly different version of the norm, take heart! Try not to worry. It probably is going to be alright, by which I mean, as alright as anyone else. For life is an ever-changing , up and down experience for us all. I actually love the fact that we have a picture from one of the tough times along the way because it makes me feel proud of the progress we have made since as a family. As you see, just 3 short years later, in a picture taken to mark the move into our new house in the NorthWest, we look far more relaxed and together. And by 2019, on a wonderful holiday in the Sun, happier and stronger together.

So I plan to smile…or not smile as the mood takes me. But I will keep taking the pictures and will not shy away from the ones that show the trickier times in life, when the grins are a little more strained and those beams heart-breakingly brave. Because they will remind me that, if we stick together and face the challenges with those we love, more often than not, there will be better times around the corner…

Running Alone…

Saturday 15 May 2021

Can I start by saying, “I miss my run buddies”. There is simply nothing to beat camaraderie, laughter and a good old chin-wag for making you keep to the challenge of weekly exercise. But as, for various reasons, I currently find myself running solo, I have to say that it does offer some benefits…

Firstly it is precious time by yourself and a brilliant space for your brain to think… or not. Active.com actually advocate unplugging yourself completely on a solo-run

Take a deep breath, take in the natural world, or just take an hour off from thinking about anything at all

Well that is their advice and it does sound luxurious, but I probably do the exact opposite. My run is very much a time when I do think through any worries or problems that are keeping me up at night and it always brings some fresh perspective. Be it, kids, money or, as has been the case in recent weeks, work… work is a stressful place at the moment… by the end of an hour of fresh air and exercise, I always have a new plan. And I love this, for whilst I am one of life’s thinkers, my world is a crowded and noisy place where my aging brain cells can find it difficult to function. So I am more in tune with Amanda Brooks, who, writing in Run to the Finish , on the ‘9 Powerful Benefits of Running Alone’, cites that

Many runners {myself included} do some of their best thinking while on the run

Secondly it is glorious just to be yourself in any shape or form. Now I would be lying if I claimed that I ever spent much time on my appearance but, like most of us, I do brush my hair, apply a dash of make-up and run the iron over my clothes for work or meeting friends and even commit to a swift mirror check before heading out for the weekly shop. But on my Saturday run.. there is none of that. As seen in my pictures of today’s 10k dash, it’s hair scraped away, slightly torn leggings, old pink running shoes and a raincoat knotted around waist. I might splash a bit of water over my face, but that is the extent of my pre-run beauty routine. And it it liberating and joyous not to care a jot what anyone, not even a run buddy, thinks for an hour or more.

And finally, you can just please yourself on the run itself. So, do I channel my inner Phoebe Buffay and,

“… run like I did when I was a kid because that’s the only way it’s fun”

Phoebe Buffay: The One Where Phoebe Runs 1999

If only! Maybe I will try it one of these mornings? But already I run as fast or slow as I want. On a sunny day, if I espy a nice bench, I will happily choose to sit and catch few rays if the mood takes me. In the recent run of amazing snowy Spring-time days, when the beauty of our local county-side was simply breathtaking, I often paused just to gaze and take it all in. If I am tired, I walk up the steepest hills. And if I see a friend … I just stop and chat for as long as a blinking well like. In many ways it is the most self-indulgent time of the week.

So in a nutshell it is, space to think, time to be yourself and time to please yourself. Of course it doesn’t have to be running. It could be a walk. It could be sitting in a beautiful church. It could be a long car drive. But I do think it is a little bit of weekly luxury that we all deserve…

Lockdown week 10: That’s life…

Sunday 31 May 2020

My parents may have been member of the Elgar Society, but they were also huge fans of iconic Rat Pack singer Frank Sinatra. He was the soundtrack to my Dad’s wake and this week, as I hear Small Boy jazz-handing his way through the intro to ‘That’s Life’ it starts to lift my mood…

I am in need of a small morale boost because Week 10 of lockdown does not start well. I get turned down for a job. An exciting, challenging new role, featuring travel, data and lots of writing is dangled before my eyes and then snatched away. I think I’d be pretty good at it, but I do accept that, in an online interview from my kitchen, I struggled to sparkle.

Rejection! Always such a blow. And so I resolve to set aside a little time to indulge in disappointment before picking myself up again.

Space to be gloomy, however, in a socially distanced world? Well it’s tricky! There’s no pub to retreat to. No rehearsal to take my mind off things. No long drive – well unless I masquerade as a senior government aide! Nowhere in the house to escape from my children and their volley of teen-centric demands. My only option is to go out for a run. So I do. I am out for over an hour. And as my feet pound the pavement, round and round in my head, Frank cheers me on,

But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘Cause this fine ol’ world, it keeps spinning around
…”

And do you know what, Ol’ Blue Eyes, you are right! The uplifting anthem seems to chase away the cloud of negative thoughts and clear my brain for recharge. Is it the familiar, easy melody? Is it the fit of the lyrics ? Is it merely an overdose of exercise endorphins? Is it simply the joy that comes from a precious 70 minutes to myself? I cannot say. What I an certain about however, as I eventually sink in sweaty relief onto my sofa, is that I feel better. Not just about the job but also better about the the last 10 weeks, the scary prospect of the next chapter of Covid and careering on through life itself.

The ups and downs, and let’s be honest the last couple of months have dealt up plenty of both, will keep coming. But, mirroring my run, for every uphill struggle, eventually there will be a glorious downhill. All around, living, loving, time itself; they play on, inviting us to join them and add to the tune. It feels suddenly reassuring to be just a little part of something much bigger.

Tomorrow the calendar page announces that 2020 has made it to June. Here’s hoping that when it comes to the first month of Summer that Frank is singing for us all…

That’s life
That’s what all the people say
You’re riding high in April
You’re shot down in May
I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top in June
..”

(That’s Life : Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon circa 1963)

Lockdown week 9: Rules…

Saturday 23 May 2020

Dominic Cummings, should he stay or should he go? It’s a no-brainer for me.

Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.” Dominic Cummings (Senior Advisor to PM)

The story is headline news. Dominic Cummings, Senior Advisor to Boris Johnson, is found to have travelled over 200 miles, to his parents’ home in County Durham. Why? His wife was displaying Covid-19 symptoms, and he feared so would he. In consequence, they planned to use the support of their North East family to help with childcare. On the face of it, a very reasonable and sensible plan. The issue? This all took place in the first week of the UK Lockdown and flaunts key directives in the Government’s Covid code.

The phone-ins, the opinion polls and the columnists have not stopped on this one. The Cabinet rally around, their aide. Michael Gove argues that, “caring for your wife and family is not a crime” and indeed it is not. Some callers to the radio debate shows challenge me to think about “what I would do in the same situation”. And I actually do not know. But I do know, that others did not follow Mr Cummings, in allowing their instinct to override Government guidelines. Instead, to support our national effort, they made huge and heartbreaking sacrifices when faced with similar situations. What I think, moreover, is that whatever I did choose to do is entirely irrelevant on this occasion because Cummings and I are not comparable, even as parents. I am a key worker, a mum and a daughter trying my best to follow the spirit of the Government rules. Mr Cummings is the senior advisor to the Prime Minister, a member of SAGE, integral to strategy decisions at the highest level of Government. He may not be an elected representative, but, as Boris’ right hand man, he must accept the level of accountability that comes with a role of such privilege and power. It is imperative that he ‘walks the walk’ as opposed to merely, ‘talking the talk ‘of the administration he serves and influences.

So, Mr Cummings, you may quip that appearances do not matter. For you, I would argue, they absolutely do. In accepting such a pivotal job within Number 10, you gave up the luxury of opinion to interpret and stretch the government guidelines to suit your own circumstances. In its place you accepted the weight of responsibility that accompanies this highest level of public office. And, for me, even if with genuine oversight rather then arrogance, you have fallen far short of these expectations. In so doing, you undermine the very messages you have shaped and sold to us as those that will ‘Save Lives and Protect the NHS’.

Others, including Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, have accepted their lapses and resigned, with honour, for similar actions Is it time for you to go as well? Undoubtedly yes.

Lockdown week 8: A moment of magic

Sunday 17 May 2010

Cleaning the blinds! Have I reached a whole new lock down low?

We have now completed eight long weeks of socially distanced living. This week restrictions were eased a little and we moved from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’. In an attempt to kick-start the economy, many more people were encouraged to return to the workplace. The Teaching Unions and the Government locked horns over the proposed re-opening of primary schools. Golfing, tennis and ‘going fishing’ were all given the green light and we were allowed to meet up with a family member, at a 2 metre distance, on a park bench. Not many of these changes do much to fill up my calendar however and so ….

And so, I find myself actually parting with hard earned cash to order an astonishing, tri-pronged, duster-socked blind cleaner. Buffing my blinds back to glory is the mission of the day! Now, even the most modestly house-proud amongst you probably needs to cover your ears as I make a confession. In the eight years I’ve lived in this house, never once have I cleaned, dusted or given a second thought to those poor blinds. Happily, however, my slovenly ways do now offer several advantages. One, as a blind-cleaning novice, I can be forgiven for any idiotic purchases of cleaning products or devices. Two, as I toil and sweat over many years worth of grime and grease, the impact is incredible.

Yellow? Why no! Those Venetians in kitchen are actually white!

But three, I can now thank the good Lord that today aside, I have never wasted a single other minute of my precious life on jobs like this! A WhatsApp from my lovely Mum pings in and I take the cue to stop for a very welcome coffee break.

My Dad – in the Museum directory!

The caffeine is wonderful but the message brings a moment of sheer delight. Whilst I have been scrubbing away with my plastic trident and anti-static spray, Mum has been busy with internet research. Buried on an directory of cinema organists, at a museum in Essex, she has found an entry for Dad. It is unbelievable. I phone immediately to hear the full, triumphant details of her sleuthing. It is an epic tale but, believe it or not, the trail began with a Covid-drawer clear out!

So, maybe it is wrong to scoff at all the corona cleaning and declutterng. A little time, out of our usually frantic lives, to rediscover old treasures and revisit past memories is definitely an opportunity we should cherish. Who knows what gems we may uncover? Blind cleaning however – just don’t do it …

Lockdown week 7: VE Day

VE Day Anniversary 8 May 2020

Many years ago, a friend bought me a box of fortune cookies so that I could start each day with a crunch of biscuit and, of course, a wise inspirational motto! This was my favourite,

“Hope is like food, without it we die

And where better to start lighting Lock Down with a ray of hope, than on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day itself.

Some parallels with our current situation are evident, but the chasms of difference far more striking. World War 2 – 6 long years. World War 2 – 75 million lost lives. Conditions on the fronts, unthinkable. At home, families battling the Blitz, evacuation, rationing, separation and loss. Lock Down really does not compare. But with everyone staying at home, it is true that we do find more time than usual to reflect upon and mark this notable date in the diary. Street parties are the order of the day! Ours is scheduled for 4pm, and it turns out to be a more stylish event than I had planned for….

The 75th Anniversary is marked with a Bank Holiday, so I am not working (much) and, instead, am already having a lovely day. One of my friends Zooms in for a long and leisurely coffee in the morning. Another whisks me off to Dublin on a virtual tour of the Guiness Brewery, in the early afternoon. This is a taste of life as I used to know it. Sociable, lively, boozy and fun. I am drinking in the buzz of Temple Bar when my eye drifts to the road outside and I am jolted back into reality. Houses on our street are festooned with bunting. Driveways proudly showcase elegant table and chair sets, table cloths, wine coolers, flowers, and cake stands. I realise that the old rug in my car boot, purchased at a music festival in the mid 90s, is simply not going to cut it. I hastily bid farewell to Ireland’s capital and re- focus on my own front lawn!

We just about make it. I dig out an old, batik cloth, from a trip to Indonesia in 1989, to hastily cover the piano stool, which is carried out, masquerading as a table. My iced buns, scattered on a plastic picnic plate, already look dangerously close to melting. Small Boy is swigging his second Koppaberg before we’ve even ventured out of the front door. But, just after 4, gripping two bottles of Cava, we scramble onto our weather-worn garden chairs ready to party.

And it is terrific. All our neighbours are out. There is 1940s music on the play list. There is sunshine and smiles and lots of sparkling wine. We meet people we lived beside but, in the busyness of 21st century life, never found time to speak to before. And all this from the social distance of our front gardens.

“It feels like we’re on holiday!” slurs one of the Cava crew.

And they are right. It does. It feels different. It feels special. It feels amazing, however high the hedges, to be in the presence of other people. A 7-week break certainly makes you appreciate what is important in life. On Sunday, we will all gather as a nation to hear if the current Lock Down restrictions are to be relaxed a little. Whether or not conditions ease, this brief glimpse of life back in society, in public, in company has given me a the boost of strength I’ve been lacking in recent weeks. I know I can see this through with more drive and determination from now on. Hope for the future, it makes it all worth fighting for…

Lockdown week 6: May

Sunday 3 May 2020

May! Oh my goodness. Was there an April ? How many weeks since I last saw a pub? Did I dream it, or was there once world where we used to eat somewhere other than the kitchen? Was I ever challenged by goals greater than clearing out the garage? Will life ever get back to normal?

The giddiness that marked the start of Lockdown now seems like a very distant memory. Whereas my eldest dyed her hair pink 6 weeks ago, this weekend, I have to confess to my slight relief, she purchased the chemicals to turn it back to a glorious, chestnut brown.

Prom dress Daughter redecorated her room and it looks terrific! The lime-green and peach colour scheme she chose 5 years ago is gone and in its place, we have clean, crisp, white walls and one feature splash of lilac. However her shopping list for new furniture, fixtures and fittings , a carefully, crafted creation as long as … lockdown itself has been put on hold and with it her motivation for each day ! (Cruel Covid means that none of our tips are operational and I have forbidden the dismantling of old beds and desks until they open their gates once more.)

Home schooling – what a roller coaster! More late marks for Small Boy this half term than in his previous 10 years of schooling, as I battle daily to get him our of bed. Prom dress daughter is sinking, under a sea of essays on complex , self-taught topics, and anxiety over the impact of all of this on UCAS predictions. My eldest, powerless to do anything about her exam grades and future now, does all the work sent, but without any of her signature drive and enthusiasm.

Gosh 6 weeks is a long time and they are struggling. No friends. No going out. No escape from each other. No break from me! I know that it is my job to fix them and I do try. I am trounced at basket ball most afternoons. I am there for Boris the Gecko’s bathtime. I turn my hand to homework. I try to be a counsellor, careers advisor, cocktail mixer and confidante… But the truth is that I am not good enough. No-one is. To quote the wisest of cultures,

“It takes a village to raise a child

And I am only one. One definitely stretched and certainly stressed single mum, who is finding the going very tough…