It would be funny, but…

Hey,  guess what? My kitten is dying.


At what point should I have started to take things personally? When my marriage died? My Dad died? My cat died? Or now, while I’m watching the kitten (bought to replace the dead cat) die too?

Is now the time to give up on a lifetime of atheism, accept that there’s a God, and that he FUCKING HATES ME?

The worst thing about it all is that there’s no-one to give me a hug. It’s not The Boy’s job to comfort his mother, so I am comforting him as he rocks the ginger kitten in his arms to ‘make him better’.

But I’d quite like someone to rock me in their arms and make me better. I don’t mean a man. Fuck no. Just someone who loves me. Because I am strong. All of this stuff can keep on coming and I’ll weeble and wobble but I won’t fall down, because I can’t, because I’m a mother.

But it is very, very hard to stay strong. It’s a brittle strength. I feel like I could snap at any time, and yes, I’ll mend, but honestly, it’s getting really fucking boring now, all of this FUCKING mending. I’m still treading water, still just trying to stay alive and on top of work and The Boy and the house and my own sanity. There’s no space to move forwards. I’m stuck, in a tedious cycle of sink then swim, sink then swim. If it wasn’t for The Boy, I’d gladly stay sunk. It’s easier. It’s muffled and murky and warm down there, like the warmth when you’ve wet yourself. It’s wrong, but right. Up here, everything is sharp and bright, and it hurts when you breathe in – cold and sharp.

They say depression distorts your view of the world, and this is true. But some things are better when they’re a little blurry around the edges and slightly pear-shaped. Some things are just too hard to look at, as they really are.

There isn’t anyone to hug me. Family and friends are too far away, all the huggy people at work have gone. So, this is a heartfelt plea to the universe: if the things closest to me could STOP FUCKING DYING, that would be really fucking ace.


This is how it is

I haven’t written for a while. Mostly because nothing much has changed, and I am starting to bore myself.

Well maybe that’s not quite true. The boring myself bit is. I could bore for England. But something has changed. I don’t think I’m depressed any more. Clinically, I mean. I am deflated, crushed, retreating within myself – I am those meanings of the word ‘depressed’. But chemically imbalanced and without perspective? No. I have perspective.

On one level, I have a great life. I really do. I have a good, well-paid job. It’s reasonably secure, or as secure as jobs in my industry get. Complacency would be dangerous.

My son is amazing. He’s shaping up to be a funny, curious, caring, intelligent little boy. He’s good fun. He’s good.

I have my own house, savings in the bank, some very good friends.

I have blessings, and I can count them, and feel very lucky.

But I don’t especially feel like I’m living my life. I find it very hard to engage with any of it. It’s happening to me. I’m going through the motions. I can’t think back far enough to the last time I felt like the first person narrator. It’s all third person.

I read that back and hmmm. I sound depressed. Maybe I’m just *less* depressed. I’m not an expert, this hasn’t happened to me before, but maybe you come back up in stages. Maybe I’m decompressing – I can see the surface and I’m desperate to gasp for it, but I can’t rush. I have to take my time, take it in stages. I am certainly in a better place than I was 6 months ago, or a year. Let’s cling to that.

Because the surface I’m gasping for? I don’t know what it is. I can’t see the future. I know no-one can, but don’t you have a direction? An idea of the direction of travel? I don’t have that any more. I can’t begin to imagine what the future holds, and for someone like me that’s scary, not liberating. Not knowing what’s round the corner is, for me, like living in a horror film – constantly on edge, suspecting the worst, tense, cautious. I can’t relax.

I wonder why I can’t imagine good things round the corner. I suppose because the run of bad things has been so epic and unrelenting. The things I have lost… The people, the confidence, the world order. It’s all gone.

But I am dealing with it better. Small steps.

My curiosity killed the cat

Yes. Really. A mere 15 days after I collected her from the RSPCA, the beautiful grey cat – upon whose delicate shoulders rested the rebirth of D – was put to sleep. Her breathing was getting very unsettling, and she had a funny turn one night, so I took her to the vet for investigations. Turns out she had very advanced terminal lung disease.

I know. My curiosity didn’t kill her. But ignorance might have been bliss, since I had to make the decision to have her put to sleep.

I always thought you could call yourself a grown up when your tastebuds matured to embrace coffee, olives and red wine. Fuck that.

You’re a grown up when you have to instruct a vet to kill your pet. In code, because your son is there with you, because there’s no-one else to look after him.

“Yes. If you could keep her in for a long course of euthanasia, I think that’s the right thing to do, if you’re sure…” Fuck.

The last year or so has fucked with the way I react to things emotionally. Because I am very sad, and very angry, but kind of at a distance, and it all feels rather expected. Just another thing. Of course my cat died. She made me feel hopeful about the future, and calm. It’s obvious. She had to die.

And not just die die. We’ve done death – and of a parent at that. Can’t top that. Can add a sting though. This time, I got to be the instrument of death. Yes! A new flavour of shit.

I was obviously a murderous paedophilic politician in a previous life.

But I am not to be deterred. I’m getting kittens at the end of June.





The impossibility of that which should have been

I really miss Dad tonight. It’s a new kind of grief. I’ve been so caught up in mourning what was, I hadn’t considered the loss of what should have been.

The Boy will never know him. He probably won’t even remember him as a real human being. Dad will never sing ‘Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer Katsenellenbogen-by-the-Sea’ to him. My boy will never hear Dad sing anything, in fact, see him perform on stage, or an acoustic number in his living room. All of that future is gone.

Dad promised to buy his first guitar. That won’t happen now. And yes, of course I could use some of the inheritance to buy one in his memory and that would be a Very Nice Thing, but that’s not the point. Dad would have taught him to play it.

That’s the biggie. My boy has lost a grandparent. He’s too little to understand this, so I have to do the mourning for him.

And I will never hear more of Dad’s stories. Flesh him out. My parents divorced when I was 6-months old and I wasn’t close to Dad as a child. Wasn’t especially close to him as an adult really, until the birth of my son. (God, he was a proud Grandad. He loved The Boy. His first grandson…)

And of course I feel so horribly guilty about this, but it was a two-way thing. I am determined not to let it eat me up. It just meant we had some catching up to do. And that’s not finished. I haven’t finished getting to know my Dad properly, and now I never will. My memories of him are scant. The plan was to create new ones.

The last time I saw him, that was a good one. Just a rainy day around the house with The Boy. There should have been more of those.

The impossibility of that which should have been has only just hit me.

Burying your Dad

A friend of mine buried his Dad last week. I sent him a text message on the morning of the funeral, just a short one to let him know I was thinking of him.

And then had to pull over on my way to work because I couldn’t breathe.

I’d been thinking about Dad’s funeral. Waking up at HWSNBN’s house on the morning and him not even remembering what I was doing that day. ‘Have a nice day’ were, I think, his parting words as I left the house.

Driving home. Getting showered and ready, doing my make-up. New waterproof mascara. Hair up or down? Putting my carefully chosen new dress in a suit cover thingy and driving to my brother’s house.

Us all getting ready there. These shoes, or those? This bag, or that?

Getting a taxi to Dad’s house. Waiting outside with all of his friends, drinking caps of whisky. The horse and carriage arriving carrying Dad – black horses, black plumes. Travelling behind in the limousine. Stopping traffic.

Getting to the crematorium to find pandemonium. Cars and people everywhere. The biggest funeral they’d ever held. So no-one has gone inside, and everyone watches us as we get out of the cars. Respectful silence. All eyes on us. Horrible.

In the crematorium. It’s so full. So hot. Dad’s best friend reading out words from me and his friends. My brother finding the strength to read for himself. And Dad’s voice, singing to us all. As if we could use any music but his.

At the wake. Pandemonium of a different kind. The ambulance arrives for the first casualty of alcohol at about 6pm. Standing in the bar at about 11pm, totally alone in a crowd, crying my eyes out. A little hand slips into mine. The teenage daughter of one of Dad’s friends. She leads me to the dance floor, and we dance. An actual angel.

How the FUCK did I do all of that? Make decisions about my hair, for fuck’s sake, remember to buy waterproof mascara. How on earth did I bury my Dad? I couldn’t do it now.

And different yet the same, seeing myself sobbing on the kitchen floor, the night my ex-husband left me. How the FUCK did I get up off that floor? He left. I asked him not to go, begged him to come to counselling with me, and he went anyway. And then 2 minutes later, came back. I thought he’d changed his mind. He’d just forgotten something.

How did I ever pick myself up off that floor?

People are stronger than they think.

It would be Dad’s birthday on Tuesday. I went up to see him with my brother today. We had a nice walk among all the gravestones, choosing one for Dad. It’s time. That marble, that typeface, NOT that gold lettering, those engraved flowers are actually quite nice, one vase thingy or two?

The decisions you have to make when you’re a grown up.

Ha! Fuck you, 2011!

Yeah. Not a fan of last year. Wasn’t a great one. Losing a parent and your mind, all at once? Not good – especially when played out against an angst-ridden, piratical soundtrack. Not good at all.

But but BUT – ding dong the witch is dead! 2011 has finally, at last, took-its-time-but-got-there-in-the-end, done the right thing and fucked right off.

You know what? I’m going to use an exclamation mark: ! In fact, have several: !!!!!!!!! No matter what else happens (and I expect it will, else has a habit of happening…), 2011 will never, ever be seen again!!!!!!!!!



!!! (OK. I’ll stop now. Devil’s punctuation…)

I went to my friend’s house last night, on New Year’s Eve. He’s had a pretty shitty, turbulent year too. We ate curry, drank cocktails and sat in front of the fire gossiping like old women. And then at midnight, we raised our glasses of champagne, did the kiss thing, then went outside and released a Chinese lantern. Not to welcome in the new, but to see out the old. The picture on the right shows what we wrote on it.

I’ve never launched a Chinese lantern before. I had read that they’re trying to ban them, and decided that ‘they’ were health & safety gone mad killjoys. And then I read the instructions last night – ‘do not release within 5 miles of an airport or military base’ and thought – seriously?!

And then my friend lit it, and whoosh! It caught like the Australian bush. Ooh. Very flamey, aren’t they? And then it got really windy while he was holding it, waiting for the trapped air to heat up, and it swept up and nearly set his beard on fire. And then he let go and it hurtled sideways into the hedge in his front garden, and he risked life, limb and posh winter coat to rescue it (I confess a little bit of wee came out here, I was laughing so hard). He let go of it again and it went up, had a (heartstopping) little rest on his neighbour’s TV aerial before finally, finally sailing off into the night.

Yeah. They should ban Chinese lanterns, they really should.

2011 didn’t want to go, the tenacious, vicious, weaselly little bastard. It hadn’t finished with us. But happily, we had finished with it, and we went back inside and carried on drinking and gossiping for another 3 hours.

Now. Can we not have a year like that again, please?

The very polite mourner

I drove back to my hometown today to put a wreath on my Dad’s grave. It made me feel about a million years old. OLD people put wreaths on their parents’ graves. 32-year olds still borrow their Dads’ cars and ring them crying on New Year’s Day because no-one loves them. Anyway.

I went to the cemetery – it was freezing fucking cold, drizzling and the light was fading. Perfect putting-on-wreath weather, if you’re of a Gothic bent. Before I drove up to Dad, I stopped at the flower stall by the gate to choose a wreath.

They had loads. I chose one made of silver baubles. It was really pretty and sparkly. Thought it might brighten the place up a bit. I handed it to the man and rummaged for my purse.

“Are you taking this up to a grave, love?”


“Only, it’s meant for a door…”

Stickler for the rules that I am, I put it back. Who knew there were wreath rules? And obviously, something that’s meant to hang outside on a door is totally unsuited to hanging outside on a grave. Whatever.

The man showed me the grave wreaths. Not what I was looking for at all. Evergreen, ivy and holly base – lovely – with summer/tropical flowers threaded through them – weird. I wanted something Christmassy. Or at least wintery. These were schizophrenic. But he was holding some nude ones in his hand, green wreaths that hadn’t mated with summer yet, and they were nice.

“Can I have one of those?”

“These love? I haven’t finished these…”

“That’s OK. I like them like that.”

He went back into his little hut, and put one of the bare wreaths on the counter.

“Would you like a bow on it? It doesn’t cost more..”

My Dad was a very thrifty man. He would have appreciated that.

“Yes, please.”

“What colour?”

“Red, if you have it.”

The man tied an ornate red bow and placed it in the middle of my wreath.

“Would you like some extra holly berries? Won’t cost you…”

“Oh yes, that would be lovely…”

“It’ll be £9.50 love – go and wait in your car, it’s freezing out. I’ll bring it across…”

What a lovely man! I retreated gratefully to my car and waited. And waited. And he bought the wreath across.

The berries were nice. But it had carnations threaded into it. Red ones – fair enough, I suppose – and pink ones and yellow ones too. What the fuck? What’s Christmassy about that? And I fucking hate carnations.

“I prettied it up for you, love. Won’t cost you extra…”

He was very pleased with himself, so I handed over my money, thanked him nicely, put it in the footwell of the passenger seat, and drove up to see Dad.

“Merry Christmas, Dad. Sleep well. And sorry about the wreath. It wasn’t what I wanted. But then, neither was this. See you in the New Year…”

And then I came home.