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Tuesday, 26 August 2014


I leave the country in about 27 hours. Weirdly for the last few days the question I have been asked most often is 'Are you packed?'
No, I'm not. Nor do I have anywhere to live, I'm not entirely sure how long I have as a stop over in Dubai and I've not printed off my ticket yet and I'm not sure there's enough ink in the printer. However I am still utterly convinced it's all going to be OK. 
The goodbyes have been said, the hot air balloon ride cancelled for the second time (grrr) and now I just have to put a few things in a bag and go to Heathrow, knock myself out and wake up in Australia. Off I go....

In other news;  this is the front cover of my book. Nice isn't it? I am just checking the contents for the final time and then it will go on kindle. Reading your own work is strange. I am quite happy I'll be out of the country when it comes out. So yes. Next time I'll be writing this upside down. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

"Auntie Laura said the C word"

Inevitably as you get older your life changes and the majority of these changes won't be of your own volition, so you have to change and go with it. When you hit your late twenties/early thirties the biggest change will be the sudden influx of children in to your life. My opinion on children is the same as my opinion on adults - some I like, some are awful. Luckily my friends and family are really good at producing excellent children who, as long as you make it look vaguely like a game, are happy to run around and bring you things. There is however one thing I have had to change... my language. 
Well more specifically my swearing, no one is insisting I only speak to their children in Norse or anything. 
Given that I became an aunt for the first time at 23 you think I would have cracked it by now. I really, really haven't. It doesn't help that some of words I think are benign replacements are also off limits so I inadvertently correct myself by replacing the bad word with a worse one. However I have managed to curb the worst of my excesses and so can concentrate on teaching them bad stuff whilst using PG language (I spent a whole day teaching my nephew how to cheat at cards. We were only foiled by the fact that his hands were too small to hold all the cards he kept winning and so he kept dropping them and showing us all he'd been cheating). Then came lunch... 
There were nine of us to lunch. Myself, my parents, my brother and his wife and their four children. I am not sure how we got to this point but my Mother (who is not know for her filthy mouth, she once set herself on fire and said 'Oh shoot') told my Dad (under her breath) to 'eat your bloody sandwiches'. This passed by. Then a small boy (7) said 'bum' and was sent to the naughty step. A few minutes passed and he was told he could come back. But in a shock move he refused as 'No one had told Grandma off for her language'. Which was a fair point. 
Unfortunately at that point I used the word 'crap' to describe something (it would appear my family is a bunch of potty mouths). The only people who heard my were oldest nephew (8) and my niece (10) who I both managed to convince that they should over look it. This didn't work, and even more unfortunately this led to the description of 'Auntie Laura said the C word". 
Now there are many ways to not swear in front of children. Repeatedly bleating 'I said crap, I said crap, I didn't say the C word, I said crap'. Isn't it. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What's the opposite of Narnia

I go to Sydney in under 3 weeks. 

And I have no plans. I have a whole heap of stuff to do before I actually get there but when there I just plan to write. I feel I should be more panicked than I am. I'm sure it'll all be fine. 
It occured to me yesterday that I am going to experience a sort of eternal summer this year. I haven't known a UK summer so consistently hot and sunny as this for years and when I arrive in Sydney they'll be heading in to Spring and then Summer. The main consequence of this is that my hair is going to be revolting. It's already an alarming blonde that looks like I've been at the sun-in (it's all natural - jealous?). Add that to a substandard hair cut and I look a bit like the 1990s Brad Willis. Except not so pretty. 
The good news is that this is going to help with the packing. No jumpers, no ugg boots, no hats, gloves, coats, scarves. There is however the distinct possibility that when I get off the plane in mid December back in London that I will simply die of shock. If I haven't already died on the plane already. 
I do not like flying. This is for legitimate reasons (FIRE! CATAPULT! ENGINE FAILURE). However I've now managed to add another ridiculous layer to it and have discovered that I am completely immune to valium. I was given it to fly last year and looked forward to a drug fuelled haze. I waited for it to kick in, waited and waited. I could have piloted the bloody plane. If I hadn't been having a weeping, shaking nervous breakdown that is. I thought perhaps I'd taken it when too worked up so did a controlled experiment in my living room one Friday evening. I was looking forward to channelling my inner Marianne Faithful - I ended up doing the crossword and loading the dishwasher. The dirty plates and cups didn't talk to me or anything. I was devastated. 
So when I was at the doctors I asked if there was anything else I could take. I would like to stress I wasn't after methodone or anything. Just perhaps some non drowsy anti-histamenes. I was told 3 times that valium worked for everyone and I had taken it incorrectly as I had already been stressed (I told her the crossword story - I can only imagine she gets very worked up when it comes to word puzzles). I asked if there was anything, anything else I could take. She said "Deep breaths'.  I gave a haughty look at her degree certificate (it had a distinct whiff of clip art about it) and left. And then ordered sleeping tablets off the internet. 
Oh calm down - it's Tylenol. Which knocks me right out. And does a damn sight more than deep breaths. Although I have a real gift for always sitting near the bogs so maybe deep breaths would knock me out after all. 

I was going to...

I was going to start a new blog. It was going to run next to this blog and be more of a diary, travel journey thing. But I was immediately technologically flawed. The interface had changed and was quite frankly beyond me, I couldn't up load photos, it looked crap and so I have decided that one blog will do me! 
Now... the reason why I am starting a new blog (or not). 
If you had asked me on New Years Eve 2013/2014 what this year would hold I would have fairly confidently replied ‘More of the same’. I certainly wouldn’t have said that by July I would have jacked in a job that I loved, rented out my house (which I was also fairly attached to) and been about to head off for five months to a country I last visited eight years ago, where I know a few people and with under 4 weeks to go.. have nowhere to live. But here I am and hopefully I'll report here how it goes. Along with any other stuff I write about.
So why did I do it? I don’t know is the short answer. The longer answer makes slightly more sense. So January I was happy, I had a very good job in a lovely company and some of the best work colleagues you could ask for. I had (have) lovely friends, great family and was fine. But I was kind of hoping for change. The good kind. I had begun to feel that I wasn’t really living my own life. I had kind of slipped in to a supporting role. I was living in relation to other people rather than living my own life. Obviously we all have to do this to an extent but I felt I wanted to be the main player in my own life.
What I’ve really wanted to do for as long as I can remember is write. I’ve made some inroads over the years but never quite got there. Once again life got in the way. Life trundled on, I did nice things, I celebrated birthdays (34- bloody hell) but I still wanted for, prayed for (I’m Christian) change. I was bored. Not with anything in particular but with everything.  It became very clear that if you want change then you have to change things. But I didn’t really want to do that – where would I get a better job? What would I do with my house? How could I afford to live? There was nothing so wrong with my life that I needed to walk away from it.
Then May happened – this was the month from hell. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I’m not going to go in to details but when on the last day of May I found myself in tears again I knew that I had reached the point where I could walk away from everything. It wasn’t a knee jerk reaction to a bad couple of weeks, it wasn’t putting two fingers up, I think it was a way (in my mind God’s way) of getting me to a point where I could move on. I’d burned down the farm. Leaving work was hard, it’s difficult to explain why you’ve walked away from something you enjoyed, could do and liked! But it felt like the right decision. And things began to fall in to place. I rented my house out to someone I trusted, I got a really good deal on flights, my first novel is going on kindle in the next few weeks.
So here I am. A stunning bit of planning means I moved out of my house 6 weeks before I left the country, so I am free wheeling between various houses. I’m off to Australia in 4 weeks and we’ll see what happens. This may be the best or worst idea of my life but I think I am just going to see where it goes. I don’t really have much other choice.

 Oh and I've also started taking really crap amateur photography on my phone. 


You will be shocked to hear that I didn’t know Peaches Geldof. We didn’t really move in the same circles. But I was shocked when my friend messaged me to tell me she had died. It was so out of the blue, so strange and it really seemed to resonate with people. Twenty something women just don’t drop dead out of the blue and so people took to social media and expressed their shock, their sadness. People expressed their sadness for her two boys, for her husband, for Bob Geldof. A family that had suffered so much already were going through it again. Then it came out that her death was linked to drug usage and the sympathy stopped.
It wasn’t that her death stopped being sad; it was more that people didn’t think that she was now deserving of sympathy. Then the other comments started: how her death was selfish, how could a mother do that to her children? But the manner of her death doesn’t make it less sad, or tragic or a waste. If anything it makes it sadder; she didn’t get the help she needed and her death was preventable.
I think the problem was this: now Peaches was a mother she was no longer allowed to be human. It was no longer just about her. She had responsibilities.  In short – her children should have saved her from addiction.

No pressure kids.

Now first let’s deal with the obvious. Children are many things but they are not a cure for addiction. If they were then rehabs would go out of business, methodone wouldn’t exist. There would be no AA meetings. People would simply go to the doctor and be handed a small child. Cured. Well women would be cured. Men would probably stick to the conventional methods as they are not completely defined by their reproductive ability. Addiction is an illness not a choice. She didn’t love heroin more than her children, she probably hated heroin, loathed it and it’s role in her life but she was overwhelmed by addiction and she happened to have children.
Motherhood is not a super power. It’s a state. Any problems that were there before are more than likely going to be there afterwards – with less sleep. Motherhood doesn’t make you untouchable. If you had a gammy leg and a short temper before, then chances are you will afterwards. Horrifically self righteous before? Add a child and well… I’ll see you in a few years. The point is that the child may spur you on to want to be a better person, give you a reason to change yourself, make you want to be a role model but somethings are just overwhelming and innate.
Peaches didn’t fail her children. She was failed. We boxed her in to a corner where she wasn’t allowed to have faults. It didn’t help that she gave many interviews where she pretty much said that motherhood had saved her and her life was perfect (addicts lie – who knew) but we all went along with it. What would have happened if she’d told the truth? That she was struggling? That she was out of her depth and having two small people totally relying on her wasn’t pulling her through her demons? Let’s face it – we would have thought that she didn’t love her kids enough.

Which is bollocks. Of course she loved them. She loved them so much that she lived furtively and perhaps didn’t get the help that she needed for fear that they would be taken away from her. If she had been allowed to be openly flawed perhaps things would have been different. Perhaps if we had looked as her as human first? It was a lack of love that killed Peaches but her love for kids was never in doubt.