Fairy Liquid

The couple stood side by side at the kitchen sink.  Conor began to fill the basin with lukewarm water and flicked on the kettle to boil.  Emily was always using all the hot water for the kids’ baths, he thought.  Surely at the age of 3 his youngest could learn to love a quick shower?  Much more economical.


Meanwhile, Emily loaded what she could clumsily into the dishwasher.  The less he has to wash and moan about the better, she thought.  I can’t be bothered with the silent treatment and rumbling resentment tonight.


“It’s unlike anything I ever imagined”, Conor mused as he stared out of the window.


Here we go again, Emily thought.  Please don’t start on about how we should all be following the fucking paleo diet.  It’s hard enough getting the kids to eat anything other than fish fingers every evening but he wouldn’t know, she thought resentfully.  He’s always at the gym and if I have to hear about Crossfit and its myriad of benefits one more time I’m going to lose the will to live and scream very loudly directly into his annoying face.


Instead she replied rather curtly and with more than a hint of sarcasm:


“I can’t wait to tell my mother about this.”


Emily’s mother was constantly criticising Conor at the moment.  As a teacher he had 8 weeks off during the summer and he’d done nothing around the house.  Instead he chose to neglect the kids, abandoning them with his parents so he could go to the gym.  Almost obsessively it seemed.  Who goes twice in one day?


“That shouldn’t go there” Conor announced.


Oh for fuck’s sake, she thought.  He’s such a patronising arsehole when it comes to packing the dishwasher.  She felt like telling him she wasn’t one of the kids in his class but she bit her tongue and started to noisily rearrange where she had put the saucepan and colander.  No more fighting tonight.


Emily straightened up from the opened dishwasher: “Can you move a bit, to the left.” she requested.


She didn’t want to slam the dishwasher door into his knee as she was closing it although she often felt like doing just that.  Repeatedly.  A smile crept across Emily’s lips as her mind drifted into a bloody fantasy involving her husband and his right kneecap.


Conor replied “Yes.”   A one word answer delivered in a rather monosyllabic tone. His mind was already wandering to the rather filthy episode he’d enjoyed in the car whilst dropping Jennifer home from the gym that evening.


Why couldn’t Emily perform blowjobs the way Jen could? He thought.  In the last 4 years had they ever even shagged in the car?  I’m sure she hasn’t realised how it takes me an extra 5 minutes or so to get back from the Box.  He concluded.


What was he staring at? Emily thought.  He had become so distracted lately and if he wasn’t spending his life at the Box he was attached to his phone.  He even took it into the toilet with him for God’s sake.


Emily’s attention moved from her husband’s vacant profile to the basin of suds in which she was sure his hands were by now shrivelled and prune-like.


“Look at that!” She exclaimed as she pointed out the almost perfect heart-shaped bubble that was resting on Conor’s newly tattooed wrist.   It’s a sign, she thought.  Everything is going to be okay.


Conor withdrew his hands from the basin, destroying the heart in one foul swoop.  He shook them dry and silently walked out of the kitchen.


The Selfie

They saw one another from across the park.  Maeve was on the swing and Katie was making the same ‘weeeeeeee’ noise every time she pushed her daughter through the air.  Maeve giggled and kicked her little legs with excitement.  So much so that Katie feared she may lose a shoe.  Nicola was sitting on a bench scrolling through her phone tempted by the latest tacky offer on her facebook feed: ‘Pop-a-ball – a sherbet that will turn your prosecco into a magical unicorn elixir!’ She was about to click ‘buy now’ even though she knew, deep down, that it would be a pile of pish yet again when something about the ‘weeeeeeee’ struck her as familiar.  She looked up from her phone and spotted Katie.  She might not have recognised her if she hadn’t been in her standard striped Breton top that she had admired whilst scrolling through noseybook.


Nicola slipped her phone into her bag and walked across towards the swings.


“Nicola?” Katie was surprised to see her and couldn’t quite work out what a perennially Glasgow girl would be doing in a park in Edinburgh at 11am on a Saturday morning.  Surely any sane person without kids would still be in their jammies?

“Katie!” Nicola grabbed Katie and pulled her into a hug which took her by surprise.  “How are you?  What are you up to?” Katie asked as she quickly regained her composure.  She kind of felt that “What are you doing here?” sounded a bit too accusatory – it wasn’t a crime for Nicola to be here after all it was just strange.

“I’m killing time before I meet Emma for lunch.  I got the earlier train.  God forbid I was on time or even worse late!  Your brother lives around here right?”

Maeve smiled sweetly at her mum as she craned her neck to see who this unfamiliar person was. “Yip, me, mum and Maeve stay at his every week.” Katie continued to push Maeve on the swing.  She knew she would only protest if the swinging stopped prematurely. “Maeve woke early and I had to get her out of the house or we may have overdosed on Peppa Pig.  “Isn’t that right my darling girl?”

“How long have you got to wait?  Why don’t I drop Maeve back with my mum and we could go for a quick drink?  There’s nothing better than a sneaky pint…am I right?”

“Damn right! Shall I wait for you here? I’m meeting Emma in the Cloisters so could head there and wait for you?”

“Let’s do the latter” Katie replied. “It’s cold and you can get the drinks in!”

Nicola retrieved her phone from her bag as Katie abruptly stopped the swing and pulled a kicking Maeve from the seat.  “Before you head back shall we take a selfie and tag Eleanor?  I’m sure she will be more than amused that we have randomly met”.

The girls crouched down on either side of the small blonde haired toddler as Nicola stretched her arm out as far as she could to fit three faces into the frame.  “Right Maeve, best smiles for Auntie Eleanor!”


12 Gold Stars

It was Friday June 24th 2016. I was lying in bed, I’d woken early as usual yet I had no kids to get out to school (their dad has them on a Friday) and no work (I’d booked a day’s leave). I could hear my parents’ snores competing in the downstairs bedroom. They were over from Scotland and we had gone out for a boozy dinner the night before, my mum declaring she was pissed after one glass of wine (“it’s the travelling!”). I was reluctant to wake them up with the Brexit news but I contemplated starting the day by boiling the kettle – a cup of tea would soften the blow. I was about to get up when I saw my best friend Katie on my instagram feed – resplendent in her European Union sweatshirt won 23 years earlier.

I had met Katie on a school trip to Strasbourg. We were both 16 turning 17 in our last years of secondary school. I went to the local comprehensive that would literally take anybody (and did); it was only a Grammar by name. Katie attended the local catholic school. Her school bus would pass me and the girls every afternoon as we ogled the ‘exotic’ catholic boys; much more sophisticated than the rat bags in our school.

I can’t remember why I’d been chosen for this school trip. I was quite frankly shit at French despite my mum being a French teacher so it couldn’t have been based on my ability. Perhaps it was to encourage me to focus more, to improve, as I was competent in all other areas (with the exception of Maths). Anyway, I found myself in a strangely German part of France at the wrong time of year (we would have caravanned every summer in Provence) with a girl from my school I wasn’t friends with (Kate Barrie – I’m sure she’s an astrophysicist by now) and what seemed like hundreds of students from other local schools.

After a couple of days I started to gravitate towards Katie. She looked very similar to me. I remember her large NHS-style specs. I wore similar and this was before geek-chic was a thing. She had rosy cheeks like mine and we soon discovered we held a mutual appreciation for the locally brewed golden lager. My French teacher, Mr Park, who incidentally was deemed ‘cool’ but in hindsight was inept at teaching French -our lessons consisted of watching a French-style Hollyoaks – would inappropriately buy us a couple of these lagers every night at the Hostel bar thus facilitating our underage drinking. Perhaps he felt it preferable to be in control of the situation rather than let us drink furtively.

There were differences between Katie and myself too. Coincidently her mum was also a French teacher but unlike me Katie excelled at French. It was obvious why her school had chosen her to be in Strasbourg she conversed fluently and with ease to bank managers (we took a trip to the local bank dear reader; I cowered in a corner praying that I wouldn’t be asked to speak), French students, shop owners and the like.

On the last day of our visit we descended on the European parliament. I remember the flags flying outside, not fully understanding what took place in this building or why we were here. I think by this time I was ready to go home although my 16 year old self would never admit to being homesick. There were hundreds of school pupils there from schools across the UK and immediately my hackles were up, remember I was woefully inept at French and a week spent in Strasbourg had not improved my abilities. I clutched Katie’s hand in fear as she guided me through the crowds to take our seat in the round-lecture style theatre – the main debating chamber within the parliament building. We took our seats and got our notebooks and pencils (mine’s would be pretty much redundant throughout the session) and then without fuss Katie got up and walked down to the central stage. She was given her European Union sweatshirt – which I was to see again 23 years later – and a jaunty cap (sadly the latter didn’t make an appearance on Brexit results day) and ably took part in an inter-schools quiz all completely in French, of which, for the entire duration, I was inevitably completely lost. Until the last five minutes. Question time. As I twirled my pencil around my hair, lost in my own thoughts, the quiz compere took this to mean I had a question lined up. She pointed at me and wrote something down onto her pad. Up until that point I’d never been more petrified in my life. What was I going to say? And up until that point I’ve never been more grateful for the buzzer that signalled the question time was over. Time had run out and there was no time left for further questions. I stared down at the central stage and I will never forget Katie beaming up at me as tears of pure hysterical joy ran down her face.

Unsocial Media

Haven’t written in a while but thought this was a really worthwhile reblog…although I’m starting an online creative writing course tomorrow which I wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for my mindless Insta-habit so I’m into the P.S. big style 🙂

Journey through my Journal

Social media – “connecting” you to people on the other side of the world but not in the same room.

When did we start living through a screen? When did we start placing more importance on our social media “presence” than our actual presence? Our filterless, flawless and fabulous selves. Our lying on the couch in our sweatpants eating sour lollies loveable selves. The answer is irrelevant, what matters is where do we go from here? We weren’t taught how to cope with this devotion to self-promotion at school. There was no “how to survive without social media 101” or “how to love and accept yourself as a real person, not a profile 102”.

Do we continue to scroll through mindlessly judging, regretting, wishing and fantasising while staring blankly at a screen? With no external expression of emotion visible beside the occasional LOL from a good meme. We all do it…

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H & I were sitting watching TV. Between 8 and 9 is our TV time. Favourites include don’t tell the bride, anything dog-related, bake off and masterchef. She asked me if I preferred chocolate or strawberry milk. I told her that whilst pregnant with her brother I was majorly addicted to the latter. I told her these were called cravings. Did C have cravings? She was unsure. I omitted the fact that I was consistently told off by midwives because of the extent of my craving, my pee was 90% yazoo at all times.

An ad break came on and she got off the sofa. 5 minutes later she returned with a mug of strawberry milk. Such a sweet, sweet girl.


When I was raped (that’s basically what it was) he rolled over on top of me and opened my legs and forced his penis inside me.  I shoved his chest and said ‘it hurts’ and he said ‘oh baby, does it?’ and continued.  I chose not to say anything else but from my body language he knew; how couldn’t he?

I let him finish.  I lost most of my respect for him.  I felt angry, scared, confused, used and ultimately disappointed but we remained as a couple for some time afterwards.  This wasn’t the last time.

I’ve written this down so as to leave it in the past.  I will never let this happen again.


Let’s take a walk up Fairhead M said.  The views will be magnificent.  Let’s take the dog! I drive up.  Our relationship is in it’s infancy and I didn’t want Z to puke in his immaculate car just yet.  We get to the car park after Z whines most of the way – such an anxious traveller.  The man tells us dogs aren’t really encouraged as he glances at my red saltwater sandals disapprovingly.  But the cows shouldn’t go for a wee dog like him and they’re certainly used to people.  If they start to chase let go of the lead – save yourselves!  M asks if he can pick him up and run with him?  The car park attendant, mounting a muddy quad, reiterates: No, drop the lead and let the dog run.  He will find his way back to you.

We start to walk. I squelch into what I hope optimistically is just mud, not dung.  It’s not entirely unpleasant I have to say.  Fellow saltwater sandal-wearers will know that they are just as comfortable and practical as the most expensive walking shoes and I can’t abide the feel of wet socks on my feet.  The views are indeed magical.  The weather is perfect as we take our first selfie together above intrepid climbers far braver than us.  I remind M that the reason Z was handed into the dog pound was because he was found in a field with sheep; the farmer had threatened to kill him…we walk on.

We reach a gully, I step gingerly across the stream.  M is a gentleman lending a hand and lifting Z over numerous stiles.  We come across sheep on either side of the trail.  One has curled horns.  They look at us with interest. Z strains on the lead excited to see his old enemies – funnily enough I have kept him away from livestock for the 6 months I’ve had him –  but M has a tight grip on Z.  I’m not panicking.  Yet.

In the distance I see cows and calves.  I can feel my heart racing.  As we pass a large black beast he starts to follow us at a slow trot, I start to speed up as M scoops Z into his arms like a baby and starts to jog.  Another starts to moo loudly; a warning call, gathering up the troops.  Z rather unhelpfully starts to bark as if to draw attention to himself – small dog syndrome.  I’ve started to run, my wet muddy feet slipping around in my sandals, following the man I have known for just over 3 weeks cradling my badly behaved dog in his arms.  And soon we are out of the cow-danger zone.  The car park is in sight.  I start to giggle as I look towards M thanking him profusely for not dropping the dog, in fact doing the complete opposite and protecting Z at all costs as if he were his own.  My lovely, twinkly-eyed, grey-bearded hero.

I reward M with a delicious fillet steak for dinner, cooked medium rare.  I give Z a bit of mine as he waits expectantly at my feet.  The irony isn’t lost on me.

Breakfast in bed

Saturday.  My son brings me a cup of tea in bed and a slice of toast with butter and passion fruit curd.  He snuggles in beside me (and the dog) and we have the following exchange:

A: I licked the butter knife.

ME: Did you rinse it before putting it in the curd?

A (with a raised eyebrow): Come on, it’s a mother and son thing…can you taste my saliva?

We then proceeded to have an America/North Korea discussion.

Sunday.  Spoiled with breakfast in bed again.  This time with both son and daughter.  I can hear A being the foreman, directing the proceedings.  My daughter H comes upstairs to announce the first slice of toast is burnt but she ate it as that’s how she likes it (who knew?) then the tea and toast come up again and the two of them (plus dog) get in to snuggle up and remark on the dog licking his ‘willard’.  Not the peaceful breakfast in bed I’ve longed for for so long but do you know what?  Near bloody perfect in my mind.


I would have been married 11 years ago today.  And whilst I have been separated for nearly 4 years this date tends to creep up on me; ambush me and leaves me so emotional and teary that I have to sit with a tissue at my desk at work and dab my eyes frequently so I’m not left with mascara tracks down my face and I can have some semblance of professionalism.  I think about how it would have been had we still been together these last 4 years.  If, instead of leaving me, he left his mistress and really focused on our flaws.  Attending counselling as I’d suggested and working on our marriage.  I wonder if there would be a third baby by now or whether we would have decided against it, counting ourselves lucky and focusing all our energies into bringing up the two precious amazing kids we have already.

And then I think would I have thrown in the towel a year or two down the line?  Would I have broken the habit of being a doormat – keeping the peace for somebody who clearly had zero respect for me and still to this day thinks he can walk all over me and I will just take it.

He has been so all over the place lately that it makes me think I should have just arranged alternative childcare for the summer holidays.  Texting me saying he’s going to the gym when I’m about to drop the kids down or bringing them back late when he’s been texting me all day asking when I’m picking them up.  I mean the holidays are always chaotic, routine gets thrown out of the window but this year, with his new son, it seems to be worse and I feel sorry for our two.  I’m sure they feel that they’re not welcome anywhere which is hardly fair on them.

In other news I started dating again and the guy I’m seeing is lovely! I was reluctant to write this as it has only been a fortnight but I guess I see this as a record of my life so if things go wrong and it’s not as amazing and romantic as I believe it to be now well this is how I felt at the time and it’s good to record things – good and bad.

First off he has been so open and honest.  He has nothing to hide and although his past relationships have been rocky he will not let the past define his outlook for the future and how he embarks on new relationships.  His attitude is so refreshing and positive for somebody that has been through so much.  He showed me his driving licence to prove his age (5 years older than me).  I didn’t ask for it but he knows I won’t tolerate lies and deceit and is willing to open up to me in order to put me at ease.

Anyway, it’s early days.  I’m trying not to get carried away.  Date 4/5 (they merged into one weekend) went really well.  Date 6 last night was lovely (although he’s a bit poorly at the moment but he muddled through).  Date 7 won’t be until next week as this weekend is all about me and the kids…oh and a 3 hours life drawing class that a dear friend bought me for my birthday.  Can’t wait!

Counselling is so different this time round.  It seems to be more about affirming that my ex did behave appallingly and that I’m right to still feel hurt and still be working through things.  It’s about managing my feelings so that I can remain neutral and almost detached for the kids in terms of how I feel about their new little brother.  We have started working on building my self-esteem and my need to be more assertive in all aspects of my life and she has set me some homework this week.  She believes if I learn how to say no and train myself not to apologise for things that aren’t my fault that I will feel better.  I will have more energy, more head space for me and anxiety levels will reduce.  Here’s hoping.