It was a great privilege to meet so many brilliant young writers at University and I wanted to give them a platform to showcase their work.
When I was 13 I smoked my first cigarette. When I say smoked, what I mean is I breathed the smoke in, held my breath, counted to 3, looked away so no-one would notice and then exhaled. The only time I tried to inhale the smoke properly like I had seen my parents do, I coughed profusely and felt a little nauseous. Not cool. This way, my peers would be none the wiser.
My preferred place to ‘smoke’ was the top deck of the bus, sat at the back with my friends. My friends and I would go to the only newsagent in town who would sell us cigarettes singly. I’m pretty sure this was illegal but at the time we were glad he did it because our pocket money wouldn’t stretch far enough to buy a whole packet. We would save our three cigarettes each until we got on the bus and then plan when we would smoke the other two. Continue reading “Défense de fumer!”
As I helped prepare the ground for our new vegetable patch, the urge to Vlog overcame me. Which conveniently got me out of doing any more digging. So …. this is my first ever official Vlog! My make-up artist and stylist were off today unfortunately, so I have gone for the ‘au naturel’ look.
This self-sufficiency thing really is amazing. We sow the seed, right. Nature grows the seed, and then, we eat the seed. And then, after that, we sow the seed, nature grows the seed, and then, we eat the seed. And then, after that again, we sow the seed, nature grows the seed….
The Young Ones say it better than I can!
The lampshades hang like delicious juicy, over-ripe cherries. I’ve never noticed before. It’s just a café in a department store, we’re not talking The Ivy here, but it’s clean and quiet and I can read in peace. No mocha/choca lattes, not even an espresso available,but as long as the café sells teacakes and a pot of tea for £1.50, I don’t think the customers care about anything much.
Chris is late. Not impressed. My routine has now been ruined for the rest of the day. I’ll miss my aqua aerobics class, which will mean I’ll lose no weight at Weight Watchers tonight – for the third week running – which will mean I’ll spend all day tomorrow on Facebook eating toast and the kids’ sweets instead of being at the gym, which will mean I’ll put weight on for next week. Terrific. Continue reading “Kaleidoscope – Part One”
A month after graduation and I am now a member of my University’s Alumni. No longer can I class myself as a student. I am now an ex-student. It doesn’t make me feel quite as young. Even my Student Discount Card has run out so I can no longer claim my 10% discount at New Look. This is depressing news.
So what am I, now I’m no longer a student? A writer? Well, I write therefore I am. A writer that is. Right?
But a writer can write about anything he or she likes? Surely … Continue reading “Every Cloud …”
I’ve always loved fashion but I’ve always struggled to find fashionable clothes to fit. I’m a UK size 18 (size 16 on a pre-PMT day) but I find myself getting increasingly frustrated that my clothes choices are so limited. This was highlighted yesterday when I went shopping with my best friend.
We took advantage of the kids being otherwise occupied and escaped to Bluewater for the day. It started off well with the obligatory latte and Danish pastry – this is, of course, crucial in the military planning of a day’s shopping. Caffeine, sugar and flat shoes are essential. Continue reading “Fashion is Futile!”
I am what could be considered an ‘anti-model.’ I’m everything a model shouldn’t be. Yes, I’m tall but I’d have to be over 9ft to be a size 12.
You get the picture.
About ten years ago, on one of my many forays into the world of internet dating, I went out with an Australian guy. Fairly good looking (he’d say gorgeous, but more of that later) and we had a relaxed, fun evening in a London bar. I remember there being a brewery on site but have no idea what it was called – the venue was his choice. Beer or beer Madam? Erm, beer please.
An hour into our date two men approached us. Both wearing suits. Both proffering professional looking business cards. They worked for an advertising agency. They went on to ask me if I’d considered modelling before. I looked around for hidden cameras. I laughed. They didn’t. I asked if this was a joke because, quite frankly, it isn’t funny. They assured me it wasn’t. My date looked a little put out that they weren’t talking to him but, as I sucked my stomach in and looked around for a member of my family to come running in, I pretended I hadn’t noticed his face drop. When no camera crew showed up, I asked the men what they wanted.
“Can we take a Polaroid of you? We’re representing a very well known vodka company who are looking for models.”
They hadn’t even finished saying ‘vodka’ and I was up those stairs like a rat up a drainpipe.
Now, just to reassure you all, and my kids especially in case they’re reading this, my clothes remained on. For the Polaroids and for what happened two weeks later. Praise the Lord.
After they had taken a couple of face shots, my date nudged me. Expecting a kiss, a pat on the back or at least a “you scrub up well,” he whispered in my ear, “well aren’t they going to take a picture of me?”
Oh dear. I asked the suits, they looked at each other and said, “yeah, yeah, course mate.” My date was appeased for now.
Two weeks passed and I honestly hadn’t given that evening much more thought. My date had however. I would get a daily phone call from him asking if the ad guys had been in touch. “I was an escort back in Australia you know,” as if this somehow made him more attractive and told me that the ad guys would be “mental” to turn him down. I think I was mental to have dated him in the first place.
Then the ad man called me.
“You got the job,” he said.
“What job?” I said.
“The modelling job for Smirnoff,” he said. “Hello? HELLO?”
Suffice to say, I was a little shocked.
“You’ll get £300 and all the vodka you can drink at the shoot,” brought me round.
The shoot took place in Soho. The nice part. I was told to bring the clothes I was wearing the night they met me, which consisted of a black knee length leather skirt with purple and pink long sleeved striped top. We are talking ten years ago here, so a little imagination is required. I turned up at the bar at lunchtime and, sure enough, it was a real photo shoot. Right up until I reached the front door I’d imagined my best friend jumping out in front of me and shouting, “Ha! Gotcha!”
I was nervous as I walked in but I think I blagged it well. Until, that is, I saw the other models I’d be working with. There were six of them. The first two I met were a couple. An Italian couple. Who both worked for Vogue. I kid you not. The next was a 6ft 4” black, French male model. Mmmm. Then there were two mixed race girls with beautifully huge afro hair. The last model was an English guy. A little forgettable but I’m sure he was gorgeous. The one thing they all had in common? They were all professional.
And then there was me.
The doubts had now begun to set in but I was determined to not let Team Normal down.
After I had my hair and make-up done I was escorted to the Wardrobe Department (aka a clothes rack outside the Ladies toilets) by the two stylists. They looked at the clothes they had brought with them, looked at me, looked at each other again, rolled their eyes a little and then asked if I’d brought my own clothes. I got the hint. Nothing would fit me. Relief all round when I showed them my own clothes.
The brief was that we were a group of friends on a night out. We had our glasses filled up continually with drinks, some hardcore Drum & Bass on the stereo to dance to (James Brown just didn’t work out) and we were told to flail our arms and legs around so that it would look like we were dancing in the photos.
I looked like I was having a fit.
Truth be told, I felt like a prize idiot. But a very tipsy one, so I totally went for it.
The others just all looked so cool and I felt like a fat lump. But I took heart from the fact that the ad men had wanted me there. They had said I looked like I was having such a good time when they met me, it was the image the client wanted to project. The fact I wasn’t a stick thin model was irrelevant.
I don’t know what the other models thought of me – no-one talked to me all day – but I think my presence may have just stuck in their skinny little throats a little. Yes, they’d be going back to France, or Italy, for their next shoot and I’d be going back to my life as a working, single mother, commuting to London every day.
But for one day – I rocked.
As for the Australian man I dated? He asked me to find out when he was needed. I never called back.
The posters and fliers appeared in nightclubs countrywide a month later. My sister-in-law saw them and promptly wrote my telephone number all over them and the Aussie was quickly forgotten.
I met the most amazing woman a few weeks ago. She was in her 30’s, mousey hair, overweight but she had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Two years prior, she had also lost her newborn baby son, five-year-old daughter and husband to a speeding driver.
Her name is Abby Rike and she was a contestant on America’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ show.
Those of you who have seen the show will know exactly who I mean. Her story is so unbelievably shocking you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not true. But it is. Continue reading “The Biggest Winner”
1982 was a good year. I got served in a pub, I dyed my hair burgandy and blonde and I made the school’s netball team. It was also the year that I learnt to drive.
As a child, I was lucky enough to live in a house that my dad built (his name’s not Jack – although my mum’s was) and at the back of the house was a big field and orchard. Not only did that mean copious amounts of apple pie (damson jam, blackcurrant crumble and pear tarts) but it also meant being able to learn how to drive, albeit in a slightly perilous and, some might say, somewhat illegal way.
To keep the weeds down on the tracks between the trees, my dad would drive a small car down there. Usually a Mini, but whatever old banger happened to be dumped his way. The learning had to be done in stages. Initially, my brother and I would learn to drive on the sit-on lawnmower. In a very slow, tentative first gear, we would trundle around the field, never managing to cut the grass in straight lines because one of us would invariably drive off at a right angle to try and mow the other one down.
We then progressed to being allowed to drive the Mini around the field. Again, a lot of near misses, including the occasional reversal into the cherry trees, but gradually, we got the hang of it. My brother had been through this initiation five years prior to me and took great pleasure in telling me as much.
The day came when I was finally allowed to race, I mean slowly drive, through the orchard and I was very excited. It was meant to be a sworn secret (I think Dad was slightly worried about how this would look to the neighbours, and to Mum come to think of it) but it didn’t stop me telling all my friends, who were extremely jealous, which was, of course, the plan.
The one thing even better than driving around the orchard? Was it possible to get any better? Oh yes! Lying on top of the car when the other one was driving. Now that was brilliant. Bearing in mind that you really couldn’t go faster than 2nd gear, but it’s worth pointing out that my hands and feet could barely reach all corners of the roof so it literally was a white-knuckle ride.
There had to be a technique to the whole clinging onto the roof thing or, quite frankly, you’d fall off. Which happened on occasion if you went round a corner particularly fast.
Imagine going on the scariest ride at Alton Towers. Now double it. Hell, triple it. That was how exciting it was to be riding on the roof of that car at 12 years old.
At the end of the ride my hair would be covered with a combination of dead spiders (complete with cobwebs), leaves and the occasional twig. My berry streaked face would then run up to the house to ask for a slice of Mum’s apple pie – complete with pink icing, just for me.
1982 was a great year.
The catalyst? Chris Hall’s partner had left him and moved in with another man.
A friend of Hall is quoted as saying, “He loved that little boy so much and he feared he was going to be going as well. His son was the most important thing ever to him.”
Is that right? Continue reading “Family Annihilators”