We all get wider…

Friday 18 November 2022

This week, I concede that none of us can stop the march of time….

Its all begins back in August, with the arrival of my niece’s wedding invitation,

Dress code: black tie”

My offspring all hit the shops, finding finery and sharp suits that will also be worn for uni balls and (for Small boy) musician gigs. But for their old single mum…gosh it’s a good few years since I needed anything quite so formal! In fact I have to go as far back as my former (slightly more) glamorous life as a married woman, when ex-hub’s job occasionally afforded the occasion for a posh-frock.

Hang on a tick” I cry, “I think the odd outfit may still be (gathering dust) in the wardrobe!”

And indeed two of them are, both, to shamelessly name drop, worn originally for royal occasions! One is brown and one … ahh one is a sumptuous green velvet number with a scalloped neckline and fitted floor length elegance!With great excitement I try it on and fall instantly in love with the gorgeous thing again. There is just one little snag….the zip refuses to proceed past my waist!

But ‘it’s only August’ think I! The wedding is months away and I resolve to trim back into a dress I previously wore in the previous millennium (and before children were even thought of.) I resolve to rediscover the body I had 25 years ago.

So, I run, I stretch and I scrunch. I spurn delicious buttered break-time toast, toil through the working day fuelled only by miserable sachets of cup-a-soup and track each morsel on a calorie checker app! Alas, none of it makes even an ounce of difference. So when I am out for a drink with an engineering friend, recounting my lack of progress, and he offers to ‘construct me’ back into the garment, I decide, after laughing fully out loud, that enough is quite enough. It is simply never going to happen! The figure I was in my late 20s just has to be consigned to the history books.

Is it of some comfort to read that the struggle to shift a few pounds for other women ‘of my age’ is a fairly common one? Why yes it is! Much is written on the subject and Everyday Health’s article ‘5 reasons its harder to lose weight with age‘ it typical in outlining: age-related muscle loss, hormonal changes, slowing metabolism, general busyness and lifestyle changes as key factors. I am also cheered by some findings too that a ‘bigger butt’ is also caused by widening pelvic bones. In summary, with a mixture of rueful regret and a fair dose of relief, I reason that accepting a changing shape is just all part of growing old gracefully.

So tonight, I have a final Friday night strut around the kitchen in my lovely green dress (clipped in with washing line pegs) before packing it away to donate to the local hospice. I also review the brown number, bought a good 10 years after the green and a hopeful dress size larger. It may not be quite as glamorous or ‘show stopping’, it may be the colour of my old school uniform, but it is still very nice, allows me to move, has a nice swirly skirt, ticks a re-use recycle box (I’ll possibly announce it as ‘vintage’ to sound a little more fashionable) and … it fastens! So bravo for the brown and wedding here we come…

Going a bit greener: 1 year on…

14 November 2022

Twelve months ago, UN COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow were described as the

last best hope for the world to get its act together

and avert climate breakdown. As world leaders gather in Sharm El Sheikh, for the latest global check on planet saving progress, evidence suggests they have yet to fully do so.

Restricting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees was the headline pledge in 2021, a level calculated to:

  • keep 10 million homes safe from rising seas
  • reduce water scarcity significantly
  • protect countless people from life threatening heat and humidity
  • preserve more of our ecosystem

Surely a priority to unite the nations? But, alas, no … or maybe not yet. The IPCC currently forecast that temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees could be seen as early as 2050. That is within the next 2 decades. That is now pretty much within all our lifetimes and signals decline, not progress.

Why not?’ we may ask in disbelief,

but turning the mirror inwards I also need to face the question,

What have I done to help to protect this wonderful world?’

Look, I’m not deluded, it is clearly to the world-wide stage that we must look for the solutions that will steer us away from climate catastrophe. But, closer to home, I also vowed, in November 2021, to try and mend my ways and care better for my carbon footprint. So what of me?

Looking back at last year’s post, I believe that my quest was to make ‘one new environmental move per month‘.

Well, soap now reigns supreme, as both shower gel and shampoo have been banished for good from my bathroom to reduce the plastic trash in our blue recycling bin. In fact, following last year’s ‘Going a bit greener’ post, I was given so many shampoo bars that I’m still making my way through them – those little lathering blocks last for months! With Christmas on the horizon, if you are looking for some greener gifts, I can certainly recommend the eco-suds. There are so many gorgeous products to choose from, it is difficult to go wrong and every beauty reviewer from Cosmo to the Good Housekeeping Institute will offer you a ‘top ten’ but for endless and affordable quality, do check out my favourites at Gruum!

Our water usage is also down significantly (bringing the additional bonus of a £120 bill reduction) A loud maternal voice achieved this one, educating teenagers in the art of not setting the washing machine off with one ‘jumper I just must have for tomorrow’ circling round in the drum, insisting that the dishwasher runs on a full load and generally shouting (a lot) at my offspring’ for their insane habit of running the shower for 5 minutes before getting in!

And finally our cleaning products have gone greener as Ocean Saver hit the supermarket shelves and now stock my kitchen cupboard. Every bit as effective as other products but run on plant-based refills, making a further reduction in the dreaded plastic packaging.

But… a little bit like the world leaders, one year on, 3 or 4 changes has fallen sadly short of my bold monthly pledge. So I’m giving myself a much needed wake-up call and, on my drive to work this week, the radio bring me a timely inspiration – Zero-waste mum! Otherwise known as, the fabulous Jen Gale whose household of mum, dad, two kids and a dog, have filled the general waste bin only once in the last 9 months! She sound super enthusiastic in her interview and makes it all sound very achievable. Nonetheless, I might start a little smaller. The grey bin is emptied once every 3 weeks in our corner of the Northwest. I, with mostly only 1 kid now and zero canines, am going to aim to have it emptied once every 6 weeks.

“And that…” I tell Small boy “… is my New Year Resolution for 2023!”

Why not start now?” he replies

I guess he is right; no excuses! After the general waste bin is next emptied, we start the 6 week clock. Glancing into the murky depths of the current bags of grey-bin garbage, I think plastics will be the challenge. The helpful words of recycling guru Jen Gale remind me that soft plastics are now recycled at the supermarket, but this still leaves lots of food trays, margarine tubs and yogurt pots. Maybe we’ll just have to get less of them.

So here goes, will keep you posted and try to keep more successfully on the environmental trail before COP 28 is on the news reels. Maybe what both I and the world leaders need are 4 or 6 monthly reviews of progress to keep us on eco-track….

What’s wrong with being woke?

Friday 26 November 2021

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png

Don’t call young people ‘woke’ or ‘snowflakes

Samantha Price November 2021

It is a headline grabbing moment from headteacher Samantha Price, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, at a conference in Manchester this week. Reading various reports of her speech, I don’t think that she objects to the word ‘woke‘ itself, rather that the ‘older generation‘ now use it as an insult to ‘sneer‘ and ‘dismiss’ the views of young people on issues they care deeply about such as: climate change, Black Lives Matter and gender identity.

Well climate change terrifies me; racism sickens me; gender identity, I’ll confess that still baffles me, mostly because I know far less about it. So, whilst as a parent and teacher, it is a cardinal sin for me to even contemplate ‘getting down with the kids’ it makes me ask myself,

Am I a little bit woke too?’

But firstly, what exactly does it mean?

Although its origins can be traced back hundreds of years, woke first appears in the OED in 2017, where it is defined as ‘originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’. While the Urban Dictionary entry reads, ‘being woke means being aware… knowing what’s going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice)’. Simply summarised, woke means consciously awake.

And what, I would ask, is wrong with that? Shouldn’t we all be on board? Clearly not; for in certain circles of society there is now a vehement ‘anti-woke‘ movement. John McWhorter writing How ‘Woke’ became an insult in the New York Times, suggests that this reflects a certain inevitability in language and evolution within the very communities who first adopt it; a ‘euphemism treadmill’ if you like,

A well-used word or expression is subject to ridicule or has grimy associations. A new term is born to replace it and help push thought ahead. But after that term spends some time getting knocked around in the real world, the associations the old term had settle back down, like gnats, on the new one. Yet another term is needed. Repeat.

Others, point to an anti-left wing agenda, who articulate a weariness with the judgemental and preachy tone of woke advocates. The Metro reporting,

“‘Woke’ has dethroned ‘politically correct’ and ‘snowflake’ as the insult du jour for many internet … wishing to mock the hypersensitivity of the left”

And indeed, there are long list of famous names outspoken on the need to crusade against ‘political correctness’, waving the flag for the ‘Anti-Woke’, even portraying the entire movement as ‘anti-British.’ Notable faces including: Piers Morgan, Nigel Farage and, self appointed anti-woke warrior, Laurence Fox.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2.png

And here is it that I pause to decide which side of the balance I land on; Woke or ant-Woke? I could search on for ‘the truth’ but, in today’s society that would be be a very long quest. Statistics, politics, new stories, values… in the right hands they can all be spun to suit any purpose. In consequence, whenever I think about voting, for example, I look at the people behind the policy and ask myself ‘Who do I trust the most?’ . If I apply that decision making strategy to this scenario then, it appears to boil down to whether I see myself in Team Greta and Team Malala, or … choose to line up behind Messieurs Farage and Fox.

Well … that took me under 30 seconds to answer and it will be woke for me! But I respect that for many of you it may take longer and it may be a different verdict.

Additionally, it is not only the faces of this generation of youth activists that sways me. No, I think it is also Samantha Price, who concludes her speech by reminding us that, whatever our grown up beliefs, it is the youth of society who will be the future and that to deter them is to “risk the level of progress in society – from sustainability through to equality“. So I resolve to avoid the clamour to join the grumpy oldsters when I hear views that sound new and challenging and hark back predictably to comfortable yesteryear. No, I shall aim to chime with Ms Price who states, “I am weary of hearing the older generation say, ‘you can’t say anything any more’…. The fact is that times have changed, and we simply need to keep up with them.”

It is, of course, true that no decision comes without its costs; the lovely Laurence Fox once decreed that he would not date woke -women. So I guess he’s off the dating list for me?

I think I can probably live with that….

Reading week…

Sunday 14 November 2021

The university term reaches a ‘reading week’ for my Eldest and she finds time to pop home for a few days. What an unexpected treat …

Reading week, whose purpose universities inform us is “time to catch up on reading, do more in-depth reading, or prepare for coursework ” but often, according to, Eleanor Doughty writing in The Independent is “nothing but a poorly disguised trip home for a visit to Mum’s tumble drier…” was off the agenda in Autumn 2020. Fears over the rapid spread covid-19 cases a year ago lead to higher education institutions urging students to stay on campus throughout the term. Whereupon, as all ‘teaching and learning’ was online and ‘in your student room’ anyway, there was little to distinguish it from the normal working week.

Whatever its purpose, I am delighted to see the brief pause in lectures and seminars return and to have a couple of days with my lovely girl. We launch the weekend with the return of ‘Friday takeaway’, movie and wine. The following morning, after prepping her brother for his Chemistry mock exam next week, lunching with a friend and going shopping with her nana, my daughter announces that:

“We should do something on Saturday night!”

And so that is exactly what we do. My son already has plans with ‘the boys’ and so ‘we girls’ do cocktails, do food and do lots of chat. I drink far too much and find myself, I think for the first time I can recall, very publicly, ever-so slightly squiffy … on a night out with one of my children!!

I may have a banging headache on Sunday morning and I may resolve that I am never ordering a Negroni again…but it was very much worth it. As I wave my Eldest off on the train back to University land, I hope that she has had a bit if a break from the stresses and strains of term time because a weekend not spent cleaning, ironing, shopping and worrying about work has without doubt been a fantastic break for her mum! Do you know what… I might even forget the lesson plans this afternoon, open up my kindle and treat myself to a bit of reading too!

Going a bit greener …

Tuesday 9 November 2021

COP 26, the UN’s conference for tackling climate change, puts a time frame on the impact of ignoring global warming that really hits home and I find myself feeling …. genuinely terrified.

Cop 26 (Glasgow 2021)

The end of the century

The end of the century to unleash the catastrophic effects of allowing the world to warm by over 2 degrees: ecological destruction, rising sea levels and immeasurable loss of human life, plant and animal species caused by natural disasters such as floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves. The changes we are already starting to see foreshadowing a far bleaker and more devastating future.

The end of the century? That’s less than 80 years away. Clearly I will not be around to see it, but my children could be… and their children definitely will. Suddenly it all seems very real.

Now, of course, we need action on a worldwide scale but I cannot see a way to influence that. What I can do, however, far more than I do at the moment is to take small personal steps to be ‘a bit greener’.

Where to start?‘ I ponder

Well back in 2019, a friend of mine, in an inspirational new year resolution, went entirely plastic free for the 31 days of January. I, alas, am a very long way from this. In fact, as I trundle it out on bin day, I cannot hide from the reality that my blue plastic bin is a truly revolting sight. Right there and then, I decide to mend my ways. One new environmental move per month for me and, for November, I choose to remove some plastic items from the house. My grimy garbage points clearly in one direction – the shower gel needs to go!

Yes, it will be ‘adios’ to the overpackaged, perfumed nonsense of liquid body wash. I am going to buy soap instead. It is an easy swap to make and probably why it is already a popular one, the Friends of the Earth in their excellent article ‘Beauty and the beast: plastic-free bathroom ‘ finding that,

By far the most suggested tip … was to steer clear of liquid shower gels and hand wash. Instead switch to solids, replacing these products with bars of soap.

In terms of carbon-footprint, there is little contest between liquid and solid soaps. Per wash, the footprint for shower gels and hand washes is 25% larger than their solid counterparts. Liquid soaps also need 5 times more energy to produce, can use 20 times more packaging and do not last as long as the trusty solid bar.

Unfortunately, I don’t do all my research before hitting the supermarket aisles and, triumphantly, adding two bars of Dove soap to my weekly shop. It turns out that, due to its ingredients (animal products plus the dreaded palm oil), over zealous plastic wrappings and various other crimes that the Ethical Consumer, in their guide to ‘Ethical Soap‘ actually grade my initial choice of product as zero out of 20. Yikes!

Well, on the positive side, at least some plastic bottles have gone from the bathroom. Small Boy is on board and, at work, one pupil tells me that I can also buy solid bars of shampoo. Now there’s food for through for December. In the meantime, I’m off to scour the list of more ethical soap choices. Perhaps I’ll put Lucy Bee soap bars on my Birthday list … by then we might have used up the dreaded Dove…

From humbug to hot tub!

Saturday November 2020

The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheeks, stiffened his gait…”

Oh my word… am I looking in the mirror?

Dicken’s brilliant description of Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’, this month’s Book Club read, leaps off the page, as I lounge in bed with my Kindle, enjoying the luxury of a lazy Saturday morning. It actually is me. I’ve spent so many weeks grumping and grouching about in the punishing world of corona virus life, that you probably can see misery etched onto my face and could re-christen me Ebeneezer! Well enough is enough. Before I hear clinking chains lumbering up my staircase, I’d better channel my inner ‘Tiny Tim’ and start spreading some festive cheer!

Mum is already in our bubble, so I call to confirm her for Christmas dinner and then I extend my invite to a couple of others who might also be on their own. Everyone is delighted and I do start to feel much more positive.Buoyed with success, I text ex-Hub and by noon, he too is booked in for a stay during the travel window. Next I finally sign up for my very patient brother’s Mid-december trip to Lightopia

Mum…calm down”, cautions Prom-dress Daughter

But I do the very opposite.

Pottering out to put some recycling in the bins, I hear splashing noises and lots of giddy laughter coming from next door. Peering over the fence I see the entire family… in a hot tub! It turns out that they have hired, not bought it, from someone on our estate who has a veritable fleet of the rubber pools, complete with gazebo and prosecco! It sounds like the perfect addition to my yuletide plans. All three teens, on the family WhatsApp, are keen and I boldly contact the company owner.

Armed with prices and dates I do now take a moment to pause. One false move on the booking day and I could find myself sharing the hot tub with either my 80 year old mum, or my Ex-Hub! I look carefully at the calendar over a large coffee, take a deep breath and then … take the plunge!

Well it all certainly lifts the mood. And here’s to plenty more Christmas spirit! In the masterful words of Dickens,

I believe that it (Christmas) has done me good, and will do me good; and I say , God bless it!

Blinkin’ Technology..

Friday 13 November 2020

As we sink onto the sofa to enjoy Friday night’s takeaway, I feel a sense of harmony return to the household after a week of technological dramas …

The xbox is the first casualty, exiled to the boot of my car on Wednesday evening, as Small Boy, in obnoxiously rude mode, finally pushes me over the edge. My response, in trusty parent fashion, is to go for his most prized possession! He boldly eyeballs me to shrug this off, but his mood quickly blackens further. I leave him stabbing angrily at his homework on the PC and steel myself for a tense few days.

Next day, the Fifa 21 (for xbox) guys and I head out to work. A hectic morning only gets more frantic as I pop back to the office at break to discover that my work laptop is gone. The bag is there, the charger is there, the xbox (thank the Lord) is there but, mysteriously, the old battered computing machine is not.

A hasty retrace of many steps proves fruitless quest and I resolve to face the music and report it missing. (My files are all backed up and password protected, they do store a lot of data.) The boss mutters about; times being ‘hard‘ and ‘hungry kids in search of a quick bit of gear to sell’ . My work besties are less convinced,

I don’t mean to be rude Becky’ laughs one, ‘but this is you! You’ll have left it somewhere crazy!’

It’s a fair point and after asking the site staff to keep their ‘ears to the ground’, I carry on with the day.

At 2:30pm, as my Year 10 class are discovering the delights of the ‘magic multiplier’ in compound interest calculations, one of the cleaners sidles into the room looking excitedly conspiratorial.

A laptop … ” he hisses through his face-mask, “….has been seen in the Reprographics room’

And there I find it, sitting innocently on top of a photocopying machine. I apologise, thank all concerned and beat a rapid and sheepish retreat.

By the time I make it home, cook a meal, lock horns with an unrepentant son and devote 2 hours to some school work, I am exhausted. At 10:30 pm, one hand on the whisky bottle, I am poised to tune into ‘Corrie‘ on playback when a whirlwind of weeping hysteria bursts into the room. It’s Prom Dress Daughter, holding a very broken laptop in her shaking hands.

The screen – it’s all multicoloured. My EPQ! My History coursework! All my Lockdown lessons! My UCAS form! What am I going to do…?”

I try to think of something positive to say but we’ve all been there, sobbing in despair as years of our life’s work vanish into the electronic ether, before we finally learn to save and back up every thought, deed and word in least 3 different places. In frantic denial, we turn the sorry machine on and off endless times and scour the internet for crumbs of advice and salvation. At midnight I put in a call to the PC world help -line. The advisor only appears to be concerned with wriggling out of any warranty, joyfully informing us that a ‘screen mishap‘ is not covered. But when I do press him on the issue of rescuing the files he actually sounds confidently optimistic, outlining a plan involving, the laptop, a HDMI cable, the TV screen and a memory stick.

You can see the light of desperate hope in our eyes as we race around the house to gather the parts. If only one of us knew a how to hook the whole ensemble together? Well we may not … but we know a man who does! At half twelve, a dazed, groggy Small Boy is dragged from his bed into the lounge and in a matter of minutes his abandoned xbox cables now attach his sister’s laptop to the TV screen and … boom! We are in business. Hordes of files are triumphantly transferred to portable hard drives and any, indeed, functioning machine in the house. We are all ecstatic… and, moreover, a team once more.

No-one gets much sleep and the morning arrives far too soon, but before I head off to work again, I do find time to get the xbox out of the boot. And when I get home, my son gives me a hug and, with a smile, announces that curry (which he doesn’t like but knows is my favourite) is on its way. And so the week ends, all crises solved, olive branches exchanged and, for the moment at least, a happy homestead again …

Feeling Grinchy…

Friday 6 November 2020

I have no doubt that people will be able to have as normal a Christmas as possible..”

Boris Johnson November 2020

Oh do ‘Shut up!’

Stringent covid -19 restrictions are imposed nationally across England for the second time this year. Tier 1 residents, after 5 minutes of social isolation, flood media channels with their motivational messages, cheery Dunkirk spirit and ‘top tips‘ for ‘surviving lockdown‘. I am sure they are well intentioned, but for this North West mum, after months and months of this misery… I’m just not feeling it.

What am feeling, driving home to a radio coverage of the PM bumbling his way through a Press Conference, is growing fury. The Home Nation plan to ‘Save Christmas‘ finally tips me over the edge! Oh do stop central Government treating us all like 5 years old? Rules. Nursery Rhyme slogans. The Naughty Step of Tier 3. And now, if am am a ‘good girl’ Papa C will still bring me presents? It is simplistic. It is patronising. It is, quite frankly, an insult to suggest that so many weeks of; rudderless leadership, emotional hardship and at times sheer despair can be balanced out by the chance to pull a few crackers with the in-laws on Christmas Day.

At work, this week we send a further 5 cohorts of pupils home. Around 200 young people, completely devastated, faces etched in panic and often close to tears

Please no, Miss. This is the third time I’ve been sent home this term!”

My mocks … what about my mocks?

“I was off for the last 2 weeks I’ve only been back a day”

“Miss, I’ve has Covid already!”

Next week, to reduce pupil bubbles, we shall cancel PE lessons …

What am I supposed to say? (I shriek at the radio)

Hey, your education’s in ruins but don’t worry, we’ll all be able to have a fine Christmas dinner together!’

What is an appropriate response to the frantic parents who call, in ever increasing numbers, weighed down with concerns about their children’s anxieties and well being?

Oh never mind any of that. Ho ho ho! Santa Claus is coming to Town’

What utter crap!

Or am I wrong? Christmas is a great thing after all and usually my favourite time of the year. Perhaps some twinkly lights and a few glasses of egg nog is just what we do need in these grim times. Let’s face it, without a festive fortnight, the months ahead look relentlessly bleak. In the unforgettable lament of C.S Lewis’ Lucy Pevensie,

Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” “How awful!”

Source: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Perhaps a better response is to ease up on Christmas … and just turn the radio off!

Its beginning to look a lot like….

Saturday 30 November

Love, love, love the season of goodwill. Sparkly lights. Christmas coffees. Everybody keen for a meet-up, a catch-up and a get together. Today, even though it is technically still November, heralds my first festive outing, and I just can’t wait!

My tram delivers me to Victoria with forty minutes to spare. Feeling ready to get straight into the party spirit, I opt for the warmth of a station bar and order a glass of Malbec. I fish out my Kindle and for about 5 minutes, attempt to look the very picture of sophistication, reading my novel and sipping my wine. But it’s Mansfield Park. I’ve been struggling with it for weeks and this afternoon the torturous timidity of Fanny Price just doesn’t hold my attention. Instead my mind turns to recent events.

It’s been quite a week! Mum has been in, and thankfully, out of hospital. My work run-buddy has suffered a nasty car accident but, in her inimitable cheery fashion, seems to be coping with the bruises and severe whiplash. And my eldest has made it through a first University interview. That was quite an ordeal. Much has changed since I journeyed off, 30 years ago, to impress admissions tutors with my abilities to solve mathematical problems. For the 2019 interview, we prepped for days on medical ethics, NHS hot topics and our insights into life a doctor. My eldest then had to survive the MMI (Multi-Mini Interview) with 7 stations of challenging questions and the occasional role play. By the time she eventually made it home, following a 3 hour inter-city train journey and 2 hours of Mancunian tram delays, she did just burst into tears. Hopefully the interviews will get better with practice!

Phew, no wonder I’m ready to let my hair down. I savour the final moments of my Malbec and then step out. Not sure if it’s because of Black Friday or Pay Day but the city is packed and pulsating. I make my way through the throngs to find my friends and together we dive into the merriment and madness ….

Baroque n roll !

Sunday 25th November

I arrive home from a film music concert…where I’ve had to dress as a pirate! As ever, at the end of a concert, I need a drink. And as I sink down onto the sofa, almost-festive Bailey’s in hand, I realise how tired I am.

I have done concert after concert this month, which has meant rehearsal after rehearsal, which has meant late night drink after late night drink. And it has taken its toll. A ‘baroque n’ roll’ lifestyle when you are the only adult in the house isn’t always the wisest choice.

I think the problem for a single parent is this. When you take on a hobby, which is essential to your well-being I might add, there is no-one else at home to take up the slack . So on top of all my rehearsals and concerts, I am still doing all the cleaning, cooking and ironing for four. I am doing the bins. Doing the tax return. Raking the leaves. Helping with homework. Helping to prep for GCSEs, UKCATS, driving tests (and next week Uni interviews.) Sorting out asthma checks and trips to the orthodontist (I am so often at the local hospital, I actually have a loyalty card for the WRVS cafe!!) Oh and did I mention I also hold down a pretty demanding full time job.

I’ve always said that I fear boredom more than fatigue but I’ve reached the point where I am really struggling to get up in the morning and I am very snappy and irritable …with everyone…most of the time. Something’s gotta give and I resign myself to the fact that, for December, this is my music. In my inbox is an invitation to play for a Christmas concert in 2 weeks time. It even has a fee. I push away angry and resentful thoughts about the life my ex-husband leads these days. I blink back a few self-indulgent tears and start to type a polite decline…