Sunday, 26 January 2014

Week 124- women, wars and the week we were in a national paper...

What a nuts week.

It started with the launch of the website for a new project, Three Generations of Women, for the theatre company I co-direct, Broken Leg Theatre.

And ended with a full page spread about it in  The Independent on Sunday today.

The thing is, and I’m not getting all Oscars style, ‘I want to thank the bin men, the woman at the laundrette, my mum’s neighbour,’ about it, but the success is entirely down to the support and contribution of loads of brilliant women.

The project is drawing on the experiences of real women growing up in the UK over the last 100 years and asking, in a nut shell, whether it is easier or not for women now.

I know it’s not as straightforward as that.

Course I do.

But that’s the starting point.

The website enables women to submit their stories, and respond to a series of questions, ranging from, ‘when did you first become aware of your gender?’ to ‘what’s the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?’ and everything in between.

We launched it at the beginning of the week.

And at last count, we've had over 600 entries.


The stories are emotive, inspiring and sometimes, downright fucking breathtaking.

Stories of women who hid soldiers in wars to save them from death. 

Of illegitimate children. 

Of empowering mothers. 

Of terrifying grandmothers. 

Of women who inspired them. 

Of women who gave them courage. 

Of women you want to be like, and women you’d be happy to never see again.

Take a look. Read the stories. Add your own.

I started the week launching a website about a project focussed on women.

I’ve ended the week feeling immensely proud to be one. 

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Week 123- boob jobs, biting strangers and bags of comfort food...

I was sitting on the bus next to this women who was clearly quite overweight the other day.

So I said to her, ‘wowzers, have you always been that size, or is this because you ate loads over Christmas?’

And then, just to make sure that it was actually fat and not that she was wearing a lot of clothes to give the impression of being quite big, I touched her stomach, with both hands, for good measure.


Of course I didn’t.

That would be the most OUTRAGOUS thing to do.

Not only would it make the woman feel massively self-conscious, as well as be the most fucking rude, judgemental thing you could ever say to someone.

It would also be violating someone’s personal space by touching them uninvited.


I’m a tactile person.

I know I squash my face against other people’s when I hug them.

I kiss people on first meeting, on the cheek of course, no tongues.

And I squeeze arms a lot.

But this is, generally, to people I feel I have a connection with.

I absolutely would never touch another woman’s stomach without being asked to do so.

So why do total strangers think it’s acceptable to touch my pregnant stomach when I’m walking down the high street with a plastic bag in each hand so I don’t even have a free arm to swipe them away?

‘When’s it due?’ the woman who’d made a beeline for me outside Tesco Express asked.

‘Mid April,’ I reply, with my, ‘get your hands off me before I snap them off’ glare on.

‘Wow! You’re  huge! Are you sure there’s just one in there?’

‘Yes I am. I was clinically obese before I fell pregnant so that accounts for my massive size.’

I didn’t say that.

Course I didn’t.

I kind of shook my head at her in a disapproving school teacher way. Side stepped, as she was still touching my tummy, and struggled on with the bags of comfort food and Gaviscon.

I wish I’d said that. Or something even cleverer. But I can’t remember my own age at the moment, so cutting retorts are deffo out.

I just don’t see how growing a baby makes your body up for public scrutiny.

If you saw someone come out of a plastic surgery clinic, you wouldn’t head straight for them, squeeze their tits, and tell them how real they felt, would you?

Or grab your mate’s boyfriend’s crotch to check he was as endowed as she told you in secret he was?

Course you wouldn’t.
Cos you’d  end up on some kind of register if you went around doing that.  

I’m half tempted to wear a T shirt that says, ‘Before you ask... It’s a boy. It’s due mid April. No I’m not having twins. Yes I look big. Touch me and I will bite you.’

But I’m not sure how well that would go down at work.

So instead, I just have to be super vigilant and on the lookout for those who seem the type to make intrusive baby talk.

And if strangers do try and touch me, maybe I will retaliate with the boob/ crotch grab.
See how that goes down.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Week 122- being a sad sack, swearing at shopping and hanging out in Asda for a laugh...

I can't bear what a total sad sack I've become.

On Friday night, when I imagine most of the mid 30's population are either getting wrecked, hosting sophisticated dinner parties or having tons of sex, I was wandering round the aisles of Asda.

By choice.

As a treat to myself.

When did the cross over to complete weaner happen?

Probably around the same time as the invites to go out dried up.

I just don't know what to do with myself these days.

Evenings are a virtual right off, as I'm either too knackered to do anything other than heat up pasta and pesto for the 27th night running.

Or on the odd occasion I have made it out into the real world of socialising, I quietly fume about how fricking expensive a glass of coke is in the pub.

Which I don't really want to drink in the first place cos I'm not thirsty.

Or 13.

I can't remember what it's like not to be pregnant.

Not to be a people carrier.

Not to lie in bed at night and feel like someone's knocking on a heavy solid oak door from the inside. 

Not to have to down Gaviscon straight out the bottle after every meal as the acid reflux takes over.

To be able to see my pubes without having to stand in a full length mirror and hold up my stomach to work out what's going on down there and if it's worth the fifteen quid to get a wax or to just wait another three months and be faced with an unpleasant surprise.

I can't remember what it's like to wear clothes that aren't 99% Lycra and a size 14-16.

To walk up a flight of stairs without breaking into a sauna sweat and panting so much I can't finish a sentence.

To be able to pick something off the floor and not have to ask for someone to give me a hand getting up as I think I might be stuck like an upturned beetle.

And more than anything, I can't remember what it's like to have a decent Friday night.

So. Asda.

I thought I'd get Nancy one of those potty seats that fits inside the normal loo.

And what better time to do it than 7pm on a Friday night.

Turns out I'm not the only one who goes there of a weekend for entertainment.

As I cruised the aisles wondering if I'd be a better person if I bought Whole Earth peanut butter, I realised I was not alone.

I spotted at least six other lone pregnant women slowly making there way round the supermarket, and I would put money on it that they're expecting at least their second child.

Them and a multitude of weirdos who I can only assume have no concept of time or social norm.
My favourite was an obese man with Tourette's who was swearing loudly at the 'Oops' section. I hung round there for quite a bit to listen to him.

So 2 hours, fifty quid lighter and several bags worth of luxury items that don't even make a meal when eaten in conjunction with each other later, I made my way home.

And it was only as I parked up that I remembered the bloody potty seat.

All is not lost though, I can always go back next weekend.

Now that's something to look forward to.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Week 121- inhaling Twirls, smelling like a urinal and attempting a social life...

New year. New resolutions.

This year I will resolve to:

1. Have a son
2. Only eat one Twirl a day and cut down to every other day when I've given birth
3. Write every day. Updating Facebook status doesn't count
4. Start a book club
5. Not get mardy about the small stuff
6. Not put off till tomorrow what I can do today
7. Sell one thing on eBay for every one thing I buy
8. Get a social life again.

In the spirit of resolution 6, we decided to start potty training Nancy.

I now understand why people take a week off work to do this.

It's not so much the frequency with which you keep having to put someone on the potty.
Although I was surprised when we topped a record 30 declarations of 'I need a weeeeee!' in an hour. That's a lot. Even after you've broken the seal at the pub when you've downed 4 pints of lager, that's a lot.

I'm not sure how other people do it.

Maybe you don't leave the house until the transformation is complete, and then your child emerges, Superman out of the phone box style, totally potty trained.

We've been taking the potty with us when we go out and setting up a makeshift loo wherever we stop.

But I can't recollect ever seeing anyone else at the Marks and Spencer's cafe having a cup of tea and a scone while their 2 year old sits under the table doing a wee on a potty.

This is involving more exercise than I've done in the last five months too.
Who am I kidding? Make that five years.

Nancy announces she needs the potty, and the world seems to freeze.

In a Gwen from Torchwood slow motion style sequence, I shout, 'hoooooold it iiiiiiiiiiin,' as I scoop her up and run to the potty, wheezing like a crank calling perv as it transpires it's just a false alarm.

While in the library, it was like watching a tall Johnny Wilkinson, as Ben picked Nancy up under his arm like a rugby ball, and spirited with her the length of the building to the loo.

It's all gone a bit feral at home as well.

It seems easier for her to walk around naked from the waist downwards as we're getting through so many changes of clothes.
She seems to be getting the hang of it pretty quickly.
Although interestingly, as she's developing, I've regressed a bit.

Doing the sniff test on my two pairs of maternity jeans and wearing the pair that smell least like wee. (Fact. You can only realistically go round twice unless you want to smell like the boy at primary school no-one wanted to be paired up with during the country dancing classes.)

I've probably got to sort that out quick sharpish.

Smelling a bit like a French urinal isn't going to help any with resolution 7, attempting to revive some kind of social life.

As for resolution 2, I'd broken that one whilst writing it down in my new 2014 book, as I realised I'd inhaled two Twirls from a multi-pack without stopping to draw breath.

The rest of the resolutions are more of a work-in-progress.

So here's to 2014.

May it be a year of celebrating friendships, new lives and learning new stuff.
Whether that be how to wipe your bum, or how to become a family of four.

It's going to be a mental year, so deep breath and remember to not get mardy about the small stuff.


Where have I left the rest of those Twirls...