Promise Me There Won’t Be Mud

•March 15, 2011 • 3 Comments

Mr SB and I have done something a bit rash. No, I’m not talking about that brief interlude when we switched from Ariel to Persil, or to the time we accidentally bought tangerines instead of satsumas, or even to all that money we wasted on EuroMillions last Friday.

It’s worse than any of that. Because, you see, what we have done is this:

We have bought tickets for A Festival.

I don’t know whether it was the Big Birthday last year that did it – probably not, because that would make it an Impending Midlife Crisis, which this definitely isn’t, obviously – or what, but I decided a while ago that I really, really want to go to a festival properly before I actually do turn into my mother. At the moment, I can just about still cling to the belief that I, too, can be one of those girls who manage to look glamorous in the mud even though they haven’t had a wash for three days and they’re wearing wellies; but if I leave it much longer, then I will officially be middle-aged and that, I fear, will be that. I will have to invest in tartan slippers and Damart, and you can’t get away with wearing those at a festival unless you’re Kate Moss.

So I persuaded Mr SB that we should go to Latitude (on the grounds that it didn’t seem quite so intimidating or as far away as Glastonbury, and that half of Twitter went last year and seemed to enjoy it). From what I had read, it seemed like it would be a suitably gentle introduction. There would even be ballet, for heaven’s sake.

And then, last night, they announced the line-up, and I suddenly felt quite old. I have heard of hardly any of the bands (do the young people still call them ‘bands’, or have I already made a dreadful error that instantly picks me out as an Unbeliever?), and, with a couple of exceptions, the ones I have heard of are throwbacks to my youth*. So I had to spend the evening typing improbable phrases like ‘Esben And The Witch’ into Amazon, and trying to judge how many of the bands I might be able to listen to without saying, “What’s that appalling racket?” and complaining that I couldn’t hear the words properly.  

And actually, most of them were a pleasant surprise, and I think that, with a few judicious album purchases, I could be rescued from the brink of terminal Radio 4 listenership, and could come to feel that I have as much right to be at Latitude as all those young people at the front who know all the words. Of course, the reality is that I am emphatically not going to be one of those glamorous girls you see on the telly; I am going to be the fat, greasy-headed, middle-aged woman standing at the back moaning that she can’t see, and that the wellies are pinching her calves and making her feet hurt. But at least I might enjoy the music, and even if I don’t, there’s always the ballet.

*I spent a good five minutes bellowing ‘Enola Gay’ across the living room in an attempt to explain OMD to Mr SB, who is just too young to remember them. I’m pleased to say that my rendition, whilst not extraordinary, was sufficiently torturous to make him confess that he had, in fact, heard of them, after all.

WLTM

•February 27, 2011 • 1 Comment
Mr SB and I met on the internet. Having each convinced ourselves of our own inability to attract a mate in the ‘normal’ ways, most of which involved Actually Talking to Someone, we had both signed up to a dating website in an attempt to shop for a partner in the same way we were accustomed to shopping for CDs, but without the assistance of reviews from previous purchasers.

Back in 2005, it was still a bit embarrassing to admit that we’d found each other at the online equivalent of a livestock auction; but six years later, internet dating seems to attract far fewer raised eyebrows. Regular TV adverts promise a money-back guarantee to idealistic singletons who fail to find Mr or Miss Perfection in six months*, which seems ludicrous; but if the matches are based on compatibility questionnaires and photographs considered rationally in the cold light of day, rather than irrationally in the hot, sweaty light of a nightclub after eight Flaming Sambuccas, then why shouldn’t it work?

I’ll tell you why not: because questionnaires don’t ask the right questions. A typical dating profile will include information about your prospective partner’s taste in music, their occupation, their hobbies, their religious beliefs, their political opinions. None of that matters. Not many couples split up because one of them likes Stravinsky and the other likes ZZ Top, or because one goes flower arranging on a Tuesday night while the other prefers snowboarding at the local dry ski slope. In fact, differences like these can be a good thing.  Who wants to live with someone who brings them no new horizons to explore?

He might look lovely, but do you really want a man who makes you sit on the floor?

What actually matters is not similarities between arbitrary hobbies and interests, but similarities between non-arbitrary, immutable aspects of each other’s behaviour. And so what the compatibility questionnaires should really be asking is:

1. You see a pair of dirty socks on the living room floor. Do you: a) sigh, curse under your breath, pick them up and put them in the laundry basket; b) roll them into a ball, spend ten minutes playing basketball with them, then accidentally leave them in the yucca pot when the phone rings; or c) what socks?

2. You are preparing for a romantic night out with your partner. Would you prefer to: a) go to a smart restaurant with creative, adventurous food and an extensive wine list; b) see something challenging, yet ultimately uplifiting, at the theatre, then have a few drinks at the champagne bar next door; or c) spend an hour and a half rummaging through your wardrobe for an outfit that doesn’t make you look like a premenstrual hippo, then burst into tears, put your dressing gown on, and demand that your partner orders a Chinese?

3. You are booking a holiday.  Is it most likely to be: a) a relaxing all-inclusive break on a tropical island; b) backpacking in the Himalayas; or c) a three week caravanning tour of The Historic Churches Of Northamptonshire?

4. You need to find your driving licence. Which of the following is most likely to describe the search: a) no problem – it’s in the fireproof safe under the stairs, the key’s at the left hand side of the third drawer down in the sideboard, under the Travel Scrabble; b) it might take a few minutes – I had it the other week when I collected that parcel, so it’s probably still in my handbag, or I might have put it back in the box on top of the wardrobe; or c) fuuuckitmustbeheresomewhere?

5. You are grocery shopping with your partner. Are you most likely to: a) take a list printed off from your computer – after all, you buy pretty much the same stuff every week, so it’s easier just to tick the things you need than writing it down every time; b) buy food for the week according to what’s on special offer when you arrive, with a few little treats for the weekend; or c) take the trolley and wander off to look at the electrical items while your partner carries armfuls of toilet rolls and economy carrots round the freezer section like a bewildered, irritable Sherpa?

6. Is your perfect partner: a) a true soulmate – someone who shares my dreams, ideals, and love of nineteenth-century Ukranian poetry; b) someone with the face of George Clooney, the body of Rafael Nadal and the mind of Stephen Fry; or c) someone who doesn’t smell like too much a dead badger and who might be willing to put the bins out sometimes?

See, all you really need is a little honesty.

(*for the record, it took me three years, and Mr SB one week. It’s just possible that one of us is much pickier than the other.)

Pyjamas As An Aspirational Lifestyle Choice

•February 25, 2011 • 5 Comments
Deep down, I am a slob.

In fact, I’m pretty much a slob on the surface too.

In fact, let’s just say that if you cut me into slices, there’s a good chance you’d find the word ‘slob’ written in greasy letters all the way through, possibly in Comic Sans.

I used to think that one day I’d become a proper grownup, with an appropriate respect for housework, tidiness and the importance of a Regular Routine. In fact, at the start of my – eep – fifth decade, I’m beginning to accept that this isn’t going to happen. My bathroom is almost permanently filthy (why don’t they make more grey bathroom suites?). My bedroom floor is usually covered in a layer of clothes and shoes that would keep Time Team happy for months. The kitchen… well, let’s not go there. No, I mean, let’s actually not go there. Let’s get a takeaway.

I am more Bridget than Indiana

Recently, I have taken to blaming the internet in general, and social networking sites in particular, for this; not only because they provide a distraction limited only by the need to sleep sometimes, but also because they quite often say, “Look, we’re all still in our pyjamas too!” – by definition, the people who actually achieve stuff at the weekend probably aren’t spending hours on end arsing about on Twitter thinking of song titles with biscuits in them. So we all provide validation for each other. For instance, one of my favourite tweeters said this the other day and, as a true word spoken in jest, it proved pretty popular. There are clearly many of us out there who feel the same.

But it’s not just that. I’m not sure when it happened, but wearing pyjamas actually seems to have become a Lifestyle Choice. Google ‘loungewear’ and you’ll get over 11 million hits, most of them for sites hoping to sell you pyjamas, not to sleep in, but to Wear During The Day Instead Of Proper Clothes. It has become socially acceptable to go to the shops in them, although the shops themselves might disagree. Seriously – whose life is so busy and stressful that they haven’t got time to put actual clothes on before they hit the supermarket?



What I’d like is if, just occasionally, someone on Twitter would organise an Hour Of Productivity: where we all stop saying how great it is that we’re still in bed at lunchtime, and say instead, “Right. We’re all going to put Twitter down and do something useful until 2 o’clock. Then we’ll meet back here for coffee, biscuits and #animalfilms”. We could call it ‘social houseworking’. And we definitely wouldn’t do it in our pyjamas.

In The Eye Of The Bewildered

•February 21, 2011 • 2 Comments

A report out today suggests that the average woman will spend £133,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. Now, before we launch into the inevitable SB tirade, we should perhaps bear in mind that the report was commissioned by QVC (purveyors of such beauty gems as the 3 Piece Melatogenine Force Radiance Collection – no, search me, I don’t either), and thus may not be quite the objective measure a more rigorous analyst would require, but it makes a good headline, and if it’s good enough for the Daily Mail… actually, that may not be the point I wanted to make, but let’s bash on anyway.

£133,000. Assuming that a woman lives for 80 years, and probably buys very few haircuts or beauty products before the age of ten or after the age of 70 (unless she’s Jane Fonda, which she probably isn’t), that’s an average of over £2200 per year. Every year.

The UK beauty industry is worth £4bn per year. It has a vested interest in making us believe that ten percent of our average income is an appropriate amount of money to spend in pursuit of plump, youthful skin, glossy tossy hair, and immaculate shiny fingernails that shriek, “Look at me! I’ve never had to clean a toilet or sew a button on in my life!”

And so it is that the beauty industry uses ever-more-ridiculous claims to drag us into Boots by our gullible, shiny heads to part with more of our hard-earned cash.

My current favourite is L’Oreal’s Youth Code skincare range, which it says is backed by something called ‘Gene Science’. Just so we’re clear, that’s like calling geology ‘stone science’. Patronising, much? Anyway, a press release claims that smearing this stuff on your skin has been shown to ‘energise the repair gene expression’, a phrase which no molecular geneticist would recognise as English. Youth Code also contains ‘Adenosine, a molecule that is naturally found in skin cells’ DNA, [and] acts as an anti-wrinkle ingredient’ – and which, in terms of reversing the ageing process, is probably about as effective as repointing a brick wall by throwing sand at it.

Hot on the heels of L’Oreal’s ludicrous pseudo-molecular biology comes Olay with AquaPhysics which, it assures us, is ‘Inspired By The Power Of The Ocean’. That’s, presumably, the same powerful ocean that sank the Titanic and busted the Deepwater Horizon, although I imagine we’re intended to think not of oil slicks and icebergs, but of waves crashing majestically on deserted beaches and the fresh salt spray on our face. Quite what any of that has to do with face cream isn’t clear, unless it actually is meant to be the oil slick reference.

What’s most depressing of all, of course, is the fact that women everywhere fall for this crap, because we want to believe in it. Call it ‘snake oil’ and nobody will buy it. Call it ‘rehydrating Plumpitex biospheres with added hexapeptidols’ and we’ll pay fifty quid for a thimbleful. Even my own bathroom cabinet is not completely empty of expensive elixirs. But, girls, we all need to be clear about this: the only actual science being used in any of these products is psychology. That’s ‘brain science’ to you and me.

Big Fat Green-Eyed Monster

•February 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

I have a theory. You might not like it.

Over the past few days, we’ve been subjected to regular news stories about bankers earning huge, fat bonuses, despite the fact that hardly any of us can see what they might have done to earn such enormous sums, and despite the fact that, in the last couple of years, our taxes have kept them in business. Most public sector workers wouldn’t know a bonus if it was brought to us in a spangly pink wheelie bin with a mariachi band and ticker tape accompaniment.

To take our minds off the bankers’ fat paycheques, some of us have been watching a Channel Four series which invites us to poke fun at the lives of the British traveller community. Every week, you and I, the middle classes, have gathered on Twitter to mock the gypsies with their awful LED-infested puffball wedding dresses, curious moral code, and – most of all – their ability to spend seemingly endless amounts of money whilst apparently doing very little to earn it.

Bankers and gypsies, then. Not so very different, really, and this brings me to my theory:

If most of us are honest with ourselves, the main reason we object to the bankers and the gypsies is that we are, fundamentally, jealous of them.

For many of us, the ultimate ideal is to be able to live a lifestyle which has us beholden to no-one, yet able to afford to travel the world, live in our dream home, drive a fancy car, keep racehorses, or whatever else floats our superyacht. For all but a very few of us, this dream will never be achievable. Any of us lucky enough to win, say, the couple of million on the lottery that would mean we could tell the boss where to shove it, would have done nothing to earn the money. We would be, essentially, no different than the bankers and the gypsies. And yet, with one or two notable exceptions, nobody begrudges a lottery winner his or her good fortune. Most people cling to the hope that, one day, it will be their turn, and that when it comes, it will simply be a stroke of good luck. It remains, theoretically at least, within their grasp for as long as they keep buying tickets.

So, when we complain about the bankers’ champagne lifestyles or the gypsies’ expensive cars, is it just possible that we are jealous – not of their wealth, but of the fact that we feel obliged to earn, to justify, to deserve what we have, while they are able simply to accept it as their entitlement?

I told you you wouldn’t like it.

Letting The Side Down

•February 13, 2011 • 4 Comments

In many respects, I am the epitome of Modern Woman. I was the first member of my family to go to university. I have a well-paid professional job. I once impressed the hell out of my mother by mending my own toilet (I had to buy bits from B&Q and everything). I own my own home, and I park my own car on the drive.

Ah, yes… parking. To tell you the truth, I never was terribly good at it. It’s only recently that I’ve mastered the art of reversing into a space, and as for parallel parking, forget it. I like to blame my lack of height for restricting my view out of the car, but really it’s just incompetence.

I proved this point a couple of days ago when, arriving at work, I aimed at my usual parking space, missed, and slammed the offside front tyre into the corner of a kerb. It occurred to me fleetingly that I might have damaged the tyre, but I’ve always got away with crashing into kerbs before, so assumed that this time would be no different and wandered off to work.

Ten hours later, when I returned to the car, the tyre was, of course, as flat as a pancake that’s been unexpectedly lying on the wicket at Lord’s when the heavy roller was being applied. Ardent feminists may wish to look away now for, despite all that Modern Woman guff at the beginning, I have Absolutely No Idea How To Change A Tyre.

Our heroine looks in vain for the spare wheel

After the initial internal dialogue in which I persuaded myself that no, it was not going to be ok to drive the ten miles home even if I took it really slowly, my first thought was to send a panicky, uninformative text message to Mr SB. Quite how he was supposed to react to “I’VE GOT A FLAT TYRE” from fifteen miles away without even knowing where I was, I’m not sure, but I sent it anyway. My next instinct, to my shame and the despair of bra-burners everywhere, was to Find A Man.  A quick tour of my department revealed that all the men had gone into hiding, possibly alerted by the strange swirling draught from my fluttering eyelashes as I walked up the stairs.

Fortunately, my department also contains at least two women who are less feeble than I when it comes to cars, and one of them agreed to give it a go. With the help of a passing clergyman and a spectacularly kind taxi driver, we (I use ‘we’ here even though my sole contribution was to flick through the car’s manual while offering no actual help whatsoever) managed to change the wheel and I finally set off home, feeling like a Complete Girl.

As a postscript, just to destroy the last remaining shreds of my feminist credentials, I then sent Mr SB to get the tyre replaced. He informed me that the mechanic’s reaction had been, “Hmph. Typical woman.” And, in this case, I have to confess that he was right.

Exclusive: The Future Of Radio Four

•February 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The BBC Trust has decided that Radio 4 is too London-centric and needs to broaden its appeal to gain younger, more Northern listeners. In a secret test broadcast, Money Box Live was one of the first programmes to leave Broadcasting House in search of its new target audience. Presenter Vincent Bumblebee and investment expert Tarquin Farquhar-Urquhart braved calls from a broad cross-section of ordinary Northern would-be listeners. SomethingBlonde has obtained the transcript.

VB: Hello, and welcome to this very special edition of Money Box Live. We’ll be taking your questions on a wide range of financial matters, so whether it’s Capital Gains Tax, overseas investments, or saving for your kids’ school fees, please give us a call. Here to help me is Tarquin Farquhar-Urquhart of City investment firm Swindells, Cheetham, Steel and Osborne.

TF-U: Hello, Vincent. It’s a pleasure to be here, I must say the North is much bigger than I’d imagined.

VB: Yes, and it’s lovely to see all the children wearing shoes. Anyway, without further ado, let’s go to the phones. Our first caller is Frank, and he wants to ask a question about investments. Hello, Frank.

Frank: Yes, hello. I want ter ask a question about investments.

VB: Yes, Frank, and what’s the question?

Frank: Yes. Erm. Well, it’s a bit complicated really. I were cleaning up after Arthur, that’s our lass’s dog, the other day, and I found an old-fashioned ten pound note down back of t’sofa. So I were wondering, like, is it still legal?

TF-U: Well, Frank, the bad news is that you won’t be able to spend it in a shop, but the rather better news is that the Bank of England, that’s down in London, will exchange it for a legal note for you if you take it to them. It should only cost you seventy or eighty pounds on the train. Did you want to ask something else?

Frank: Yes, well, see, thing is, I were wondering where to invest it to get best return?

TF-U: Well, there is a wide range of very good investment products on the market, but I’d recommend that you talk to a good financial adviser who can point you towards the best solution for your specific circumstances. There’d be a fee, of course, but it shouldn’t be more than about three hundred poun…

Frank: No, no, what I meant were: which is best? Horses or greyhounds?

TF-U: Well, to be honest with you, Frank, I don’t think the sort of sums you’re talking about would really be able to buy you any decent breeding stock…

VB: Actually, Tarquin, I think if it’s ok with Frank, we’ll leave that call there and move on to our next question. This one comes from Claire, and she’d like to know about student loans, isn’t that right Claire?

Claire: Yes, hi, I’m doing A levels this year? And I’ve heard all this stuff about student loans, and having to pay thousands of pounds, and I’m not sure I can get that kind of money, I mean I’ve got a part-time job in Starbucks, and my friend Melissa works in TK Maxx when she isn’t looking after her little brother, but…

VB: Sorry to interrupt you, Claire, but time’s pressing, so what is it that you want to ask?

Claire: Well, I’m just wondering, where’s the best place to get the loan from? Should I try to get a credit card or would it be better to go for one of those places that advertise on the telly?

TF-U: Hahaha, no, Claire. I don’t think you quite understand. You see, what happens is, the Government will pay your fees and then you’ll have to pay them back once you start working and earning a salary. In actual fact, you’re in quite a lucky position because you live in the North. That means that you’re likely to be earning, on average, 18% less than your less fortunate contemporaries in London, and so of course you won’t have to pay the loan back so quickly.

VB: Doesn’t that mean, though, that she’ll be paying more back in interest?

TF-U: Well, theoretically, yes, but I think what’s important to remember is that here in the North, it’s much less likely that she’ll actually get a job and so she won’t have to pay anything back at all, hahaha.

VB: Claire, I hope that answers your question. Next on the line, we’ve got Minnie. Are you there, Minnie?

Minnie: Hello?

VB: Hello, Minnie, can you hear me? You’re through to Money Box Live. What’s your question?

Minnie: Who’s that? Is that you, Vera? Why’s your voice all deep? Have you forgotten your tablets again?

VB: Oh dear, we seem to have a slight technical hitch there, so let’s move on to our next caller, who is… Jim. What’s your question for Tarquin, Jim?

Jim: Well, I’d just like to ask about benefits, really. I’ve been off work with a bad back for a couple of years, and I’ve spent most of it just sitting in the house. I always used to be quite an outdoorsy type, if you know what I mean, I’ve only got a little dinghy (Note: at this point there is a sound not unlike sniggering on the tape, but the transcriber has been unable to ascertain the source of it), but I used to love going out on the reservoir in it at the weekend, but since I’ve been housebound I’ve put a fair bit of weight on, and I can’t get in it any more. I was just wondering if I’m entitled to any kind of benefits to help me get a bigger one?

TF-U: Well, Jim, I’m quite glad you asked that question, as it’s a nice straightforward one to answer. All you need to do is to write to the Treasury, tell them – and it’s important you use these words – that you’re ‘too big to sail’, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you out. You’ll be buoyant again in no time, and let’s hope there’ll be no need for any more bailing out, hahahahahaha.

VB: Let’s not get carried away, Tarquin.

– transcript ends –

Ashes To Splashes

•February 8, 2011 • 5 Comments

Oh dear. It’s ‘Is It Just Me?’ time again.

Redditch council has just approved a proposal to use the local crematorium as a source of heat for the swimming pool at its leisure centre. As far as I’m concerned, this is an utterly brilliant idea. The gas escaping from cremations currently has to be cooled from 800 degrees to 160 degrees as part of a process to remove mercury vapour. The surplus heat is lost into the atmosphere. That’s a whole lot of warm doing nobody any good, and presumably doing the planet some bad. (And possibly, in my fevered imagination at least, roasting any pigeons unfortunate enough to be flying past at the time, but that’s by the by unless you’re a pigeon. I’m going to assume that you’re not, but if you are: well done for getting this far. The corn’s behind the right hand flap.)

Anyway, you won’t be at all surprised to learn that the good old Daily Mail is up in arms about the whole thing. It naturally finds the proposal ‘sick’ and quotes a member of the public as saying, “it’s disgusting, using burning bodies to heat a pool” – as though the plan involved dousing Aunty Jean in petrol before casting her into the shallow end to keep the aqua aerobics class warm.

I also heard a radio interview with a local clergyman who expressed concern that the process would detract from the ‘spiritual aspect’ of cremation. Both he and the Mail seem to be overlooking the fact that, if you want ‘sick’, then chucking the body of your loved one into an industrial incinerator is quite a good start. However much we might want to believe differently, there are no harp-wielding angels on fluffy clouds behind those curtains, and Saint Peter isn’t the one operating the conveyor belt.

So I’d just like to say: well done, Redditch. And I hope it’s not just me.

You Don’t Have To Be Mad

•February 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In the wake of the news that the UK Government is to spend an extra £400m on treating patients with mental health problems in the NHS, Twitter has been in confessional mode today. Under the hashtag #WhatStigma, courageously started by actress Rebecca Front, users have been tweeting their experiences of mental illness in a bid to show others that having a mental health problem is not unusual, funny, or something to feel ashamed of, or guilty about.

I have been lucky in my life so far; although there are days when I wonder if I might be teetering on the brink of depression – days when I have no energy, want nothing but to stay in bed with the duvet over my head, and listen to a constant internal monologue about how useless and terrible I am – for the most part, they do not progress into longer periods of gloom and I am able to function normally at work and at home. I assume that most people have days like this, and have never felt the need to seek medical help.

Please don’t think, though, that I subscribe to the ‘pull yourself together’ school of thought. Far from it. Depression is a real illness, and I’ll tell you how I know.

When I was a teenager, both of my dad’s parents were admitted to a mental hospital. At the same time.

My grandma had always been a ‘nervy’ person, and always seemed very fragile. As she got older, we became concerned that she was losing weight and didn’t seem to be eating properly (I remember her claiming once that she and my grandad had had ‘a proper cooked dinner’ – on further questioning, this turned out to have been an egg on a slice of toast, their only meal of the day). This progressed and gradually started affecting my grandad too. Eventually, when my grandma – an intelligent woman in her late seventies who had worked for a living and successfully raised a family – weighed less than 5 stone, both of them were admitted to the local mental hospital having finally been diagnosed with severe depression.

This was not just my ‘feeling a bit down’. This was awful, head-banging, gibbering, hair-pulling mental torture, with regular talk of suicide as the only possible solution. And the conditions in which they both found themselves did not seem, I have to say, conducive to a swift recovery; they were placed on separate but adjoining wards, with a visitors’ room between the two, in a Victorian hospital building which seemed to have changed very little since its original patients were straitjacketed there. I can still picture the visitors’ room, because whenever we visited, it was filled with other patients who seemed far, far more disturbed and ‘mad’ and who seemed to be dragging my lovely, sweet grandparents down into the abyss alongside them. The visits were always things to be dreaded; my parents and I would arrive only to be asked “What the hell have you come for?”, and spend the next hour sitting amongst the formica tables with nothing to say while my grandparents sat rocking and crying in their plastic chairs.

Somewhere among the hopelessness, though, something must have worked: a few weeks after they were admitted, they were able to leave hospital and find care in a residential home. They never set foot in High Royds again, and although my grandad died a couple of years later, my grandma, the frail old lady who we thought had had her foot on the proverbial bar of soap for the best part of thirty years, only died in 2005, at the grand old age of 97.

The fact that I am able to write this now, and share it with strangers, makes me realise that some things have changed where mental illness is concerned. At the time, I remember feeling embarrassed about what had happened to my family, and keeping it to myself at school because I couldn’t bear the prospect of being ‘her with the mental grandparents’. Times have changed to the extent that I have very few qualms about telling their story now.

But some stigma clearly still exists. Note my use of the words ‘confessional’ and ‘courageously’ in the opening paragraph. Neither of them seemed out of place when you read them, did they? Hopefully, one day they will look as ridiculous in the context of mental illness as they would if I was using them to talk about someone with a cold. I hope that day comes soon.

Happy New Year

•December 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As I write, there are only six hours of 2010 left to go. So this is just a quick thankyou to all who’ve read my nonsense, both here and on Twitter, in the past year or so, and a promise (well, ok, a vague intention driven by guilt and a massive inferiority complex) that in the coming 12 months, I Will Try Harder To Update This Thing Regularly.

I know, I know.

Anyway: have a good one, and I hope that 2011 brings you all you would wish for, or at least makes you the odd sandwich.