Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything, take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath, every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more.

Christina Perri, A Thousand Years


I seem to have a problem with my eyes this week. It all started when, after admiring my lovely new hair do, I happened upon a video that has been made for World DS Day 2018, which is today. I sat and watched it and discovered that something was in my eyes. Both of them. It was a most unsettling experience, given that I had not been near an onion. It seems that I was not alone, the problem being specifically brought about when watching this video in particular. It is of fifty mums with fifty four year olds whose children share one extra chromosome; it has gone viral. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here and see how your eyes react.

I need to declare my hand here.  My nephew has DS. If you are a follower of my blog you will probably already know this.

Abortion is illegal in this country after twenty four weeks except for certain circumstances. One of these circumstances is where there is a substantial risk that if the child is born that they will suffer mental or physical abnormalities; this includes Down Syndrome. A blood test during one of my pregnancies raised the possibility (only the possibility) that my child may be born with a disability. I asked what the options were in such circumstances and the only one presented to me, the only one, was a termination. After some very direct and specific questioning I managed to extract some facts.  Me and Man of the House decided that termination was not a viable option for us, whatever abilities or disabilities that child I was carrying may or may not turn out to have. Other couples may have made a different decision. However, it cannot be that the only option offered is to terminate the pregnancy. What do less stroppy people do when presented with that by a medical professional as the only choice? The statistics bear out the answer. In the UK, ninety per cent of women who know that their child has Down Syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy. In 2015 that amounted to 689 terminations and rose to 706 in 2016. Under current laws our parliament, our government, those who have been elected to represent us, have legislation in place that gives the message out very loud and very clear that a a child with DS is less worthy of life than one without. I wonder if we will ever have the technology to screen murderers and thieves in utero and if we do, will we use it.  Sally Phillips had a point when she used the word ‘eugenics’.

Sister B (jumper stealer of Sister A – see While You Were Out) is the mother of Nephew. Nephew is four. Sister B declined being in that video because (and I paraphrase) she hates her face. First, this is something of an insult to me because we do look quite similar. So similar in fact that when he was a baby, I used to be able to hold Nephew so he would think he was being held by his mummy whilst she got on with doing something else. It was only when he got older that he was sitting on my lap and he looked at me, then over to Sister B, and then back to me, and was clearly wondering how she was doing that trick that all parents wish they could do of being in two places at one time. Whilst I do not consider myself to be a stunning beauty, I hadn’t ever thought that I, and consequently, Sister B, was so unattractive that it would cause people to turn away if they saw either of us in a video. And secondly, as I pointed out to Sister B, the video isn’t about her. Or any of the other mothers. It’s about the spaces between them and their children. The spaces between all of us. And how very small and very special they are.

On reflection I felt bad about saying this. It may support Sister B’s seemingly expressed view that she shouldn’t be seen, is best hidden away and only exists to help her children grow and thrive. Whilst most mothers feel like this a lot of the time, I suspect that mothers with children who have disabilities, and in this case, DS, feel this more keenly than most. Particularly in a country that has laws in place to screen their children out.  So what I want to say to Sister B on World Down Syndrome Day 2018 is this: I see you. When you have had a bad night and you are not at your most effervescent, I see you. When you insist on Nephew being referred to another doctor because the one in front of you doesn’t see the point in helping children with DS to hear properly, I see you.  Nasty looks from other people, I see you. Nasty looks followed by nudging, pointing and whispers that are anything but from other people, I see you.  When you read with Niece because you desperately don’t want her to miss out, I see you. Even when I am not with you, I see you. And when the day comes that I am not here to see you with my own eyes, I will still see you. I have loved you for a thousand years, and I will love you for a thousand more.






Photograph courtesy of Crepesuzette on Pixabay

Good Hair Day


I hope that you have all had a great couple of weeks of being fabulous and gorgeous.  I know I have.  I can’t tell you how wonderful and brilliant and not forgetting incredibly talented I have been.  And if it were possible to be even more alluring than I already am (pretty difficult, I know) I have also been to the hairdressers.

A woman’s relationship with their hairdresser is a mystery to most heterosexual men – they don’t seem to understand two things.  The first is how having their hair done is a recreational activity for a woman.  And the second is why it takes so very long.

The second one is easier to explain so I shall take that first.  Look boys, we generally have a lot more hair than you, even if it is just longer, and it therefore takes a lot more time to deal with.  We tend to have more complicated cuts, colours and blow drying which tends to increase with age. Whereas boys tend to have less hair and less interesting things done to it – if you ever were attentive towards your hair, then that is more likely to decrease with age.   I have a lot of hair even for a woman.  And when I say a lot of hair, a lot of hairdressers have not really believed me until they have witnessed it for themselves.  I am now familiar with the crestfallen look on the poor trainee’s face when they are presented with my barnet and told that it is their task to put the colour on it.

The first one is more difficult – the recreational aspect.  You know when you go to buy a new pair of shoes and you go into the shop with your old, grotty pair on your feet and you feel ashamed that you’ve been walking around with such awful shoes on that up until that point you didn’t think were that bad?  Then, after talking yourself out of the sparkly high heels (it’s not as if you go anywhere to wear them now) you leave the shop with a new pair of shoes that do not look as if they have been chewed and you feel like you’re dancing on air?  Well that’s how I feel when I go to the hairdressers.  Or to be more specific, that’s how I feel when I leave the hairdressers.  When I arrive, I usually look like the wreck of the Hesper.  A few hours later I leave looking like I imagine the Hesper did when she first began to founder (they’re hairdressers, not Hogwarts), but nevertheless a miraculous improvement on what fell through the door first thing.

Every woman reading this will be familiar with arriving at the hairdressers.  After what feels like two hours of shouting at someone to put their shoes on, and searching for a lost cardigan, we are all welcomed warmly by the receptionist or our stylist.  Our coat is taken and we are offered a drink.  As it is probably the first opportunity that we have had to have a drink, we gladly accept.  We are shown to a chair and given some magazines.  Man of the House goes to a barbers where if you are five minutes late they not only disapprove and make their disapproval known to you, they refuse to do your hair, make you re-book and send you away with a flea in your ear.  Probably an actual flea if the cleanliness of their salon is anything to go by.  Meanwhile, I am being sat in front of an exceedingly unflattering mirror.  Then my hairdresser wafts into the room, places both hands on the back of the chair and asks me “what are we doing with your hair today, Natalie?”

Every single time I say “Whatever you like as long as it’s not awful.”  I then gesture to the mangled creature that resides on my head.  It has an entire life of its own.  Over the years I have tried to curl it, straighten it, get it to go a particular way, stay up in a style, stay in a clip even, and it won’t.  So I no longer bother. I would say that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but my hairdresser can.  My hairdresser rifles through my hair and then talks a lot of numbers at a trainee standing next to her which I am given to understand relates to the colour.  I am put in a gown and a towel, then some plastic around my neck and the poor trainee takes a deep breath and sets to work.  It would be difficult to describe how stunning I look with a colour on my hair and crocodile clips helping it stick up in every direction, but I am sure that you can all picture it.

Across town, if Man of the House has managed to beg an appointment, probably on his hands and knees, his hair cut is almost done.  Which is just as well because if he needed the loo he is probably risking dysentery given that they never ever clean the toilet there. His barber starts huffing on a mirror and rubbing it with his sleeve to try and create a space so he can show him the back.  Man of the House steadfastly refuses – he doesn’t need a reminder of what once was.

As he’s paying with one note, and possibly having the door slammed behind him as he leaves, I am just settling into reading ‘Cosmopolitan’ for the first time since the last time I was there. As usual it’s full of adverts of impossibly thin women holding handbags that look as if they might snap their twig-like arms and wearing sunglasses that really could do with a nose to sit on.  Oh, and lots of articles about impossible sex lives.  Nothing like filling our young girls’ heads with ridiculous notions of what they can expect from being a grown woman in 2018.  As I flick through on the one hand thinking “This is an outrage, these women haven’t eaten properly for years” and on the other “oooooohhhh, nice shoes…..” the trainee is still painting colour on.  And then s/he puts me under a heater that looks like it ought to be on the Starship Enterprise.  I imagine Hollywood stars whom the tabloids would describe as “age-defying” being sat under these with a head full of foils.  I am then taken over to the basins and the colour is washed out and I am given a lovely head massage.  On one occasion, the lady at the basin next to me was so relaxed that she fell asleep and started snoring.  When she snorted herself awake, someone appeared at her side with a cup of tea.

My hair cut takes another hour.  Yes, an hour.  But in that time my hairdresser updates me on her love life and tells me how lovely the colour looks on my hair.  She makes my hair look beautiful.  And as she gets a mirror to show me the back of my head without the need to clean it first, I confirm that the colour does indeed look lovely, I have lots of hair, and there is no way I will be able to make it look that nice myself.  I then look in the unflattering mirror and ask if there is anything that she can do with my face.  She always laughs as if I am joking.

I hand over many more notes than Man of the House did.  My coat is held for me as I put it on, the door is held open for me with wishes for a lovely rest of the day, and I leave.  Straight back into the real world.  And as usual I’m on a tight schedule. I have three children to pick up from school and three swimming kits to get ready before that as well as a load of washing to get out of the machine and on the airer and another one in.  Did I mention that everyone will also be starving hungry the minute they emerge from school?  The Childerbeasts hand me their coats, their school bags and then run off.  Laden, I follow them.

And that’s why women like the hairdressers.



Photograph courtesy of hansbenn on Pixabay


Because You’re Worth It


Last week a man who has avoided being drafted into the military five times claimed that he would have run, unarmed, into a classroom where people were being murdered by a person armed with an assault rifle.  Of course no one believes him.  But he doesn’t care.  Like he doesn’t care that the entire world pokes fun at his hairstyle.  He doesn’t care that The Establishment are permanently frothing at the mouth that he is doing exactly what he said he would.  He doesn’t care that a recording of him talking about grabbing women’s genitals was heard all over the entire world.  He simply does not give a monkies.  He thinks he’s brilliant and gorgeous and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to change his mind.  He’s right and anyone with a different opinion is just plain wrong.  There seems to be a lot of people like this in the world – people loaded with self-confidence, the skin of a rhino, and not a lot of anything else.  And then there’s the rest of us.

I must admit that I have a grudging respect for The Deluded Narcissists because it doesn’t seem to hold them back any – they think that they are both very good at their job and incredibly attractive.  What a brilliant way to go through life.  A friend was sat in a team meeting at work the other week. I say, sat because that was all they and their colleagues, bar one, did.  The meeting was meant to be collaborative, hence the word ‘team’.  As we all know, there is not meant to be any ‘i’ in team.  However, the person who assumed the mantle of leading the meeting presumably got a different memo advising that they were the ‘I’ in team.  They treated everyone else to an inspiring monologue about how attractive and talented the speaker was and how everyone should be more like them.  I am given to understand that a bewildered audience sat and listened to this speech, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with each other in order to not give the game away, not that the speaker would have noticed.  Being British they didn’t want to call the person out and say “oh do shut up, you’re an insecure arse, none of us are interested and we’d like to do something useful” but I bet that’s what they were all thinking.  So they sat politely until this person decided to stop speaking.  I gather that it was some time.  Maybe they just ran out of superlatives.

Another friend has a colleague who is hopeless.  Lovely person.  But genuinely hopeless at their role. It would seem that everyone except them knows it.  Believing themselves to be the best thing since sliced bread, the colleague has been muttering loudly about wanting to “talk money” to the boss.  Everyone else has been trying to think of ways to stop this excruciating conversation taking place to save their much-liked colleague from themselves.  The colleague is adamant that the conversation must, indeed, needs to take place and cannot be dissuaded.  Some people just can’t be helped.

All of us have been treated to the social media post.  I don’t mean other people telling each other about their lives: children growing up, holidays, landmarks of life – none of those things.  I mean two things specifically.  First, the selfie and secondly, the nauseating boasting posting.  As far as selfies are concerned, I am referring to the duck face selfie or the selfie of someone if not in a state of undress, then some article of clothing clinging on for grim death, the only purpose of which can be to show off how attractive they think they are to invite affirming comments.   I read something yesterday about someone taking 200 selfies a day and the point, just in case we had missed it, was hammered home by an accompanying picture of the self-confessed narcissist pulling the duck face. Write the article by all means, but don’t post the photo – you’re feeding the beast. We look at those Victorian photos when everyone had a very serious expression and we know it was because photography was in its infancy and there was only one shot to take.  But the duck face selfie?  What are our grandchildren going to think of that?  That everyone was poised to snog someone else at a moment’s notice? There was an unexplained penchant for sucking lemons?  Or maybe everyone will be too busy admiring themselves to actually meet anyone to make babies with and there will be no grandchildren.

Moving on to the passive-aggressive boasting post.  Usually, but not always, on a professional website, so to be viewed by people that the writer doesn’t know all that well and along the lines of: “Forgive the self-congratulatory post, but I am so thrilled to have been nominated as one of the people most likely to go to the opening of a crisp packet.”  I am afraid that we won’t forgive you.  Not unless you have come through the other side of a rough personal struggle, won an Olympic Medal, broken a world record, or done something significant to contribute to the peace, safety and security of our planet.  Sir David Attenborough, Knight of the Realm and a man who has probably contributed more to our understanding of the natural world than anyone else in history of the world ever would never do such a thing.   And if David’s not doing it, you definitely shouldn’t be.  If you have to tell people that you are something, you aren’t.  Tell us something useful or informative, or tell us nothing at all.

As for the being attractive thing, I truly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Why do people insist on foisting their supposed attractiveness on everyone?  These are usually the same people as those who like to tell you how wonderful they are at their job.  A friend of mine goes weak at the knees if you mention a certain racing driver to her.  I wouldn’t know who he was if I tripped over him. And he’s quite short, so I could easily trip over him.   Similarly, mention the words ‘Kylie Minogue’ to the Man of the House and he will get a glazed and faraway look come over his face – he’s gone to a place that is very warm and friendly.  I know someone who genuinely thinks that if a man smiles at them, they want to sleep with them.  They also think that if someone asks them the time that it is actually a secret code they are asking them if they have time for sex, not any desire to know what the actual time is.  I’d love to live in that world for a day, I really would.  That must be a day when you get out of the shower and after blow-drying your orange bouffant into a comb-over-cum-quiff, you look in the mirror and instead of thinking “oh my, what the hell is that?” you nod approvingly and say to yourself, or even out loud “not bad, not bad.  Still got it” and sashay out of the bathroom.  Naked.  Because why wouldn’t anyone want to look at you in the buff?

And then there’s the rest of us.  Do you think that any of these people wake up in the night in a cold sweat?  It is very much a thing in the legal profession to sit bolt upright in bed at four in the morning and think “oh Christ, did I remember to do that?” and either have to logon to double-check or stay awake worrying about it until you can get up to go into the office early to make sure.    I still remember how it feels to have that rush of horror when you think you might have missed something on a file.  I bet we’re not the only ones.  Are these people racked with worry?  After I went on a safeguarding course when I was a trustee of the Pre-School and was told the statistics of at-risk children I rushed back to the manager in a blind panic (because statistically speaking we had at-risk children) and said “what have we missed?  Who have we missed?”I worried about it for all of the six years I was a trustee. Do those people do that? Something tells me they don’t.

If a man smiles at me, I assume that he’s either lost, has wind, or maybe he’s just trying to be pleasant and non-threatening.  If I am asked what time it is I believe that the person asking just wants to know what time it is so they can continue to plan their day.  Irresistible as I may be, don’t assume that they are trying to squeeze a shag with me into their hectic schedule.

So The Rest of Us, I have a proposal.  There is not a cat in hell’s chance that we can beat people who are as mad as a box of frogs – the sky in their world must be either pink or mirrored.  Even if they’re reading this they’re just thinking “Well I am brilliant and gorgeous, what’s your point?”  So as we can’t beat them, we are going to join them.  Every morning for a week, when you peer at yourself in the mirror, even if you don’t believe it and even though you’ll feel a complete fool doing it you are going to repeat, three times, after me: “Goodness me I’m brilliant and gorgeous.” No one has to hear you.  You can say it under your breath, or in your head.  But do it and see if it makes a difference in how you tackle the day ahead.  If someone congratulates you, even if it is just for getting out of bed, invite people to forgive the self-congratulatory nature of your post, and then tell people how amazing you are for getting your pants on the right way round/turning your computer on/making a colleague a cup of tea.  And finally, if someone says “good morning” do not assume that they are merely wishing you a good start to your day, they’re not.  You’re hot.  And everyone, simply everyone, is just desperately trying to find a way of letting you know it.  But you already know it because for the next seven days you’re brilliant and gorgeous.  Good luck.