Saturday, 3 October 2009


One of my oldest and  dearest friends (we met aged eight, three decades + more ago) has been in London this week, on holiday from Cape Town with her gorgeous husband.  On Monday night we went to see 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' at The Palace Theatre.  It was completely fantastic.  The cast consists (almost entirely) of deeply sexy men who spend much of the show leaping about in sequins and feathers and spectacularly glittery frocks.   The least sexy amongst them was Jason Donovan, who looked like this:

And like this:

Bless.  He put on a fine show (in fact, having never been much of a fan, I was really impressed).  He was endearingly sweet/frequently funny/sang beautifully, as you'd expect  .... but he just wasn't sexy.  It was weird seeing him in the role of Tick/Mitzi.  It seems like only yesterday when he was Scott Robinson, and looked like this:

In my opinion he wasn't sexy back then, either.  (There are just so many things that I want to say about this photo like What in God's name are they wearing? Isn't Australia meant to be a hot country? but I'm not going to allow myself to go there...)

And so there we all were on Monday night: Oldest Friend & Gorgeous Husband plus Johnnie & Rich plus Alaister & Dave ... plus me.  Perhaps because I was the only one there not part of a 'couple' or perhaps because I just knew that Brixton Man would have loved the show, I kept thinking of him on and off all evening.  As I've managed to not think of him for some time (good girl) I felt annoyed with myself for allowing thoughts of him to intrude on my evening.   Perhaps it was the sight of all that sexy-half-naked-ultra-fit-male-flesh that reminded me of him (and of all that I'm missing).

There was one dancer in particular (bald as a boiled egg, extremely attractive thighs) who looked so much like Brixton Man that when he first shimmied onto the stage I leaned forward in my seat and thought for a moment that it might actually be him.

This is that same man, cleverly disguising his baldness later in the show:

Being reminded of Brixton Man wasn't the only thing that annoyed me on Monday night. 

Before I launch ino a whinge about that, a little bit of background. Oldest Friend's husband is in a wheelchair.  Nine years ago his car left a pitch-dark, deserted road and disappeared into a ditch; twelve hours later he was found, car upside down, his back irrevocably broken.   Many moons before, he and Oldest Friend had been an item.  He was then a 6ft 4"  Adonis: a surfer, tri-athlete, Navy scuba diver and submariner. The ultimate Action Man and (by his own admission) a bit of a shit.  She was madly in love with him.  When he dumped her, she was heartbroken.  After the accident, he was unconscious for several days. When he came round, and not having seen her for years, the first person he asked for was Oldest Friend.

Fast forward one marriage and several years and they're in London and we're all at the Palace Theatre, happily seated in the back row of the stalls where Gorgeous Husband's wheelchair can be accommodated. We're loving the show.  But half-way through, when things start getting truly spectacular, much of the fabulousness takes place on the roof of Priscilla, the dressing-room-on-wheels which Mitzi, Bernadette and Felicia are driving to Alice Springs.  And we can't see a thing because we're so far back that our view of the top of the bus is completely obscured by the overhang of the dress circle.  We can see a variety of feet in a range of breath-taking footwear ... but that's all we can see.

The show's producers have thoughtfully provided TV monitors on either side of the stage for those of us with a restricted view. The monitors are so far away and so terribly small that we can only see enough to know that we're missing out on some prolonged, seriously fantastic action on the roof of the bus.  Actually, it wasn't just annoying; it was a little bit heart-breaking.  Poor Gorgeous Husband felt acutely self-conscious that we were sitting where we were in order to be with him in his wheelchair ... which meant not being able to see the best bits of the show.

No doubt there are all sorts of ridiculous 'health and safety' reasons why he/we couldn't be better accommodated elsewhere in the theatre but whatever they may be, it's just not on.  Of course, none of us minded too much about where we were sitting or what we were missing (we were just happy to be spending precious time with our beloved friends) but Gorgeous Husband clearly minded terribly on our behalf.   He felt personally responsible. And so, despite the show's feel-good happy ending, Gorgeous Husband looked really, really sad when we went around the corner to The Coach & Horses for a post-theatre pint (or, in my case, a large glass of Pinot Grigio).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Oh shit.

I've received an email from Ruby's mother.  Shit shit shit.  Ruby (not her real name) was the little girl we met on holiday in Malta.   After we arrived home, I rang the NSPCC to voice my concerns about her welfare.  I wrote about it in an earlier post, here.    God knows how her mother found my email address??!!

She sounds completely deranged.  I am genuinely freaked out.  Without sounding like a complete drama queen (and a doom-mongerer) I read her email and felt utterly chilled. 

This is what she wrote.  I haven't changed a single comma or full stop or added/removed anything, apart from a couple of names.  In several places, I don't even know what she's talking about.  Weirdly, she didn't address the email to me (though she obviously knows my name) but instead began with my initial and surname (which I, too, have changed, for obvious reasons).   She wrote:


What you heard on that night was not me, slapping her around. "I do not hit my daughter and never have.!!!!"

What you heard was, me really losing my temper with a girl who wanted to act like a teenager,rather than her ten years,and my concerns that she was not eating, properly on holiday. And that maybe she should reside with her Father,if she was not ging to listen or take direction from myself. Your assumption that her behaviour was that of a child frightened is ridiculous, she is a very clever girl, who is very apt at manipulation! Her actions are that of a sulky moody girl, going through a difficult phase in her life, not due to me, but the drug raids we have had with a neighbour for the past 5 years or so. She was saying stop it, because,obviously she wanted me to calm down! Yes taking the Norethiserone,to stop my period, whilst travelling, obviously didnt agree with me, and in hindsight should have read side affects! With an Under active thyroid, I didnt know, I would be more irritated and snappy. But as I say again. " I Did Not Hit My Daughter"

Well J.Smith, I have to say one of your daughters didnt look particulary happy herself.  XXXX was around her age?... Was there some reason why they could not mix? Strange! Was that due to her own chioce? Why would you let your daughter wear a political t. shirt in this World Climate.
Oh the Bruises, nearly forgot, she is an extremely picky eater as I have mentioned. This is due to a lack of "Iron" We had the photo to show the lady on my camera she got from, the game machine, ask XXXX and XXXX!....The other faint "BRUISES" were from school.
I was completely exonerated as my capacity to be a parent. From her School, Doctor, Mother and everyone else that knows us!!!
I have to say you broke my writers block, my book back on track! So hopefully it will soon be accepted by an agent to go with my published article and published photographs. Thank you for the experience. I actually find controlled people far more worrying than, those who can let it out. Perhaps you should look into this for your daughters sake! Shame you didn't live next door to Baby P!
I am now considering seeing my solicitor about your accusations...

P.S Your daughters can only "Share" a choclate bar on holiday, because of Gluttony.


Don't know what to say.  Obviously, I'm not going to respond, although I would like to ask her - amongst other things - what the hell that loopy 'PS' is all about??!!  

And I'm also tempted to write back and say that I would love for her to talk to her solicitor and for her solicitor to get in touch with me asap because I would welcome the opportunity to tell her/him what Eldest and Youngest Daughter and I heard that night.   But I think it's best that I stay schtumm.  And hope that she goes away. Hope hope hope.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

I climbed, I soared, I conquered!!

Well, can you believe it?   I had an absolutely fabulous time at Go Ape this afternoon.  Who would have thought it?  Not me, that's for sure.  I was totally and utterly petrified.  I barely slept a wink last night, so afraid was I of the zip wires and the other scary obstacles that lay head.  Things like this:

But it was a blast and I would recommend it to anyone, even the most scaredy-of-scaredy-cats out there.  It was (and I never, ever thought I would say this)... GREAT FUN.  I LOVED IT!!!

There's a lot to be said  (in the words of Susan Jeffers) for 'Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway' and an awful lot to be said for 'doing it'  in the company of an Ex-Husband, a Much Younger Fiancee and a bunch of entirely fearless fourteen year-olds.  Wimping out was not an option.

So, this is me attempting a graceful landing (at the end of a 100ft zip wire).  I think I look pretty good.  I did slam into the green buffer thingummy seconds after this photo was taken and ended up in a bit of a tangle but who cares?  No one took a photo of that.

Needless to say, I'm now feeling absolutely exhausted.  It's bloody tiring being brave all afternoon.  So I'm off to bed.  But before I go, a few pics of Ex-Husband who (as I predicted in my earlier post) was much much much more terrified than I was.

Illustration One: Ex-Husband mid-air, travelling at speed, and screaming.

Illustration Two: Ex-Husband slamming into net, and screaming.

Illustration Three: Ex-Husband showing how not to land at the end of a 100ft zip wire, and screaming.

Seconds after this photo was taken, it became apparent that Ex-Husband had, in fact, pulled a thigh muscle which required immediate and urgent intervention by the lovely Go Ape medical staff.  Which also meant he didn't get a certificate for successfully completing the course, as I did.

So, hooray for me, and hooray for all the other girls who were so very, very  brave today.  And (to give credit where credit is due) hooray for Ex-Husband, who was brave despite his fear of heights and even braver after his idiotic and extremely painful crash-landing.

(With heartfelt and grateful thanks to Elaine for her kind explanation re. how to post and order multiple photos, a talent which had previously eluded me.)

Friday, 18 September 2009


And now I have to write seven things about myself, following the receipt, earlier today, of a lovely award from the kind (but perhaps not terribly discerning) Looking Fab in your Forties.  Many thanks, Fab. You have made me (needy, with obvious self-esteem issues) terribly, terribly happy.

So here they are, seven facts, in no particular order and very much in a 'stream-of-consciousness' kind of way (before I head for bed. Am planning an early night in preparation for tomorrow's nightmarish experience in Swinley Forest):

1. My mum died almost 10 years ago. I still miss absolutely everything about her.

2. My one and only party trick: I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue (and no, I don't have an especially large nose...)

3. Spitalfields Market/Brick Lane is (currently) my most favourite part of London.

4. I had lunch just off Coldharbour Lane yesterday with an old colleague. On the way there, I sneaked past Brixton Man's house and saw his motorbike parked outside. (I have not seen/heard from him since June, when I told him that I no longer wanted to see him/hear from him again).  I felt a bit weird and panicky.

5. I was at University in Cape Town.  I did a degree in English & Psychology.  I can't remember a single thing.

6. I think - after years of reflection (and a not inconsiderable amount of post-divorce therapy) that I (partly) married Ex-Husband because I didn't have the courage to call it off....

7. My electrical appliances have it in for me.  A month ago, my washing machine packed up.  Last week my dishwasher door snapped its hinges.  This morning, my hairdryer stopped working.  What's next, I wonder?

By the way, I just have to say: my lunch was absolutely awesome (the food, not the company so much) which is why I'm posting a link here to a review of the restaurant, in case you should find yourself in Brixton and in urgent need of a pizza.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Going Ape

This Saturday we are celebrating Eldest Daughter's fourteenth birthday. She was born in April and yes, it's September which means her party is five months late. Given that Eldest Daughter is always late for everything, I don't feel too bad about having taken so long to organise her party. (The only time Eldest Daughter has not been late was back in 1995, when she arrived, uncharacteristically, ten days early).

As I write this, it is raining. I am hoping it will be fine and dry on Saturday as we will be spending the afternoon in Swinley Forest, staggering along bendy rope bridges and swinging from tree to tree, fifty feet above ground. Yes, we're going to Go Ape (why oh why did I ever agree to this?) where, for three ghastly hours, we will be attempting to emulate our prehensile primate friends.

And when I say 'we', I mean Eldest & Youngest Daughters, assorted fourteen year-old friends, Ex-Husband & Much Younger Fiancee ... and me.

I am terrified of heights. I am not particularly agile. I don't even own a tracksuit. I do know how to ride a bicycle but I don't think this is a skill which will come in handy on Saturday afternoon. If it rains on Saturday and my hair gets wet, I am going to look like shit. I am forty-five.

Much Younger Fiancee is thirty. She has been to Go Ape before, as part of a work team-building exercise thingy and she 'love love loved it!!' I'm fairly confident that it was she who first planted the idea of a Go Ape birthday party in Eldest Daughter's mind. On a recent trip (with Ex-Husband) to New York, MYF attended a Circus Skills Day and learned the art of trapeze. She liked it so much that last weekend she arranged a similar day out in North London for Eldest & Youngest Daughters and herself (Ex-Husband went along, but only to read the Sunday Times). She is clearly a bit of an adrenalin-junkie. And oh, I forgot to mention: she's also an Olympian. Yes, honestly. She has represented her country at the Olympics. (I have to admit to having always been a bit suspicious of people who are too sporty.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm really glad MYF is such a fun gal. Weekends with Dad are way more fun for my girls now that she's around. Before MYF appeared, an episode of X-Factor on Saturday night used to be the highlight of their weekend. Now they actually go out and do stuff, which is largely a result of MYF's youth and enthusiasm. Good for her, I reckon. And I do really like her, apart from the fact that she once tried to steal my hairdresser (about which I have written previously here). She has only ever been lovely to my girls, for which I am grateful.

But really, I'm so wishing that she hadn't ever mentioned Go Ape. Now that the day is almost upon us (and my daughters are almost delirious with excitement) I'm starting to dread it. And I'm trying hard not to think evil, paranoid thoughts about how MYF might have manipulated the situation to her advantage ie. she will be whizzing between the trees at 100 mph, whooping and hollering joyfully with my daughters and their friends, looking beautiful and athletic, while I stand, rooted to the spot and paralytic with fear on some wooden platform 50ft up a trunk, unable to open my eyes and very possibly wetting myself (in which case it might be better if it does rain).

My only comfort (which has only just occurred to me) is the thought that Ex-Husband will, in all likelihood, be rooted to the spot, even more rigid with fear, right next to me. He is a much bigger woes than I am, and far, far more afraid of heights. Right now, he has absolutely no idea that he is actually required to participate (Go Ape specify x no. of adults per children taking part). So if he (or I) don't pluck up the courage to give it a go, then some of the girls will have to sit out. Which would be unthinkable, of course.

It's not that I've purposefully withheld this information from him: it's just that he's never asked for details (which is fairly typical) and I know (knowing him as I do) that he will have assumed that he'll be doing the bare minimum. Right now, he's expecting to sit under a tree somewhere (or inside a cosy canteen, if it's raining) with a hot, frothy latte and a copy of the Saturday Telegraph. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Little does he know ......

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The one about the elephant ...

I'm in a terrible 'flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-and-only-just-managing-to hold-it-together' breathless rush at the moment, so no time for anything, other than this:

An elephant met a mouse in the jungle. The mouse said, 'Bloody hell, you're absolutely enormous.'

And the elephant said, 'Well, you're really, really little.'

And the mouse said, 'Yes, but I haven't been very well lately.'

This always, always makes me smile.

Monday, 7 September 2009

How NOT to sunbathe

My friend took this photo a few sunny Saturdays ago when we were in Embankment Gardens, down by the Thames.

Check Spelling

Honey. Sweetheart. Lovely girl. If, by some bizarre, freakish, cosmically crazy coincidence, you happen to be one of my nine* followers, you need to know:

1. This is not a good look. Vertical: maybe. Horizontal: categorically, no. If your mum wasn't all the way back in Australia, I know she'd tell you the same.

2. When you lie down in a short skirt, your bottom will always find a way to crawl out from underneath. However much you may want to read your book while lying on the grass in the warm sunshine (I know, I know, we all love to do that!) do not succumb to temptation. You really need to stay standing up.

And that's all really.
* including ME, since I'm following my own blog inadvertently.