Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I’m Back, Did You Even Notice I was Gone?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

It’s been a while. Lots of things have taken place, which I will expand upon another time, as if I told you all of it now you would weep for me. I will summarise, however, because I feel I need to justify my particularly long absence. We have had cleft-palate ops, experimental diabetes treatment, break ups, new relationships, three graduations, a serious motorway accident, aspergers, dyslexia and dyspraxia, deaths, illness forcing change of work pattens and tests for auto immune disorders. I wish I was joking. not that one jokes about much of that. It’s been a tough couple of years and we’re starting to slowly have longer and longer spells between shouting ‘FUCK YOU GOD’ very loudly. Yes, there’s at least a day between curses now.

My favourite gardening supervisor – one of far too many losses for us this last couple of years.

I remember back in 2014 making menus for the week and cooking almost everything in one day because i had so little energy by wednesday but even that was utterly miserable and unsustainable. I’m now working part time, I get chance to rest more and have spent some very important time focussing on trying to be active in a measured way. I took up gardening after years away from the soil. My lovely beardie bought me some raised beds to grow veg in and it’s like riding a bike (although I’m guessing that because I haven’t riden a bike since I was 12 and I don’t think exercise bikes count). I’ll be doing some fairly regular gardening posts as a result. I’m waiting patiently for a large greenhouse and potting shed. I’m told it’ll be between this growing season and the next so we’re busy digging out the ground to extend the shed base. When I say, busy digging,  it’s more like poking at the ground with a spade, grimacing with back pain, saying ‘FUCK YOU GOD’ and pushing all my grief into the soil. I pointed out that the next growing season will start earlier IF i get a greenhouse. That’s its job. If anyone has any new and interesting varieties of veggie seeds that they’d like field tested, feel free to get in touch. I’m not a novice more of an enthusiastic grower with something new to learn every day. I was taught a suprising amount of stuff that I remember now by my grandmother, late father in law and my dad, who now grows his own on a small scale after being an apprentice gardener many moons ago. There’s always the more experienced growers willing to share their knowledge. It’s like being a green geek.

And Finally…

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Yes, so I’ve been away for a bit. I had to make some hard decisions about what I can do with my energies and blogging sort of came bottom. I’m not promising to do better.

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough and I thought I’d share. After years of dreadful, mysterious and downright annoying symptoms the doctors finally decided to look at the whole instead of each individual symptom. Novel. I’ve been sent to this specialist and that specialist only to be told ‘no it’s not X’ or ‘definitely not Y’ but never being told what was actually wrong. Symptoms ranging from stomach and bowel problems, hair loss, painful joints, exhausted and sore muscles, feet that can’t cope with shoes or duvet covers, hands that need to soak in warm water because they’re too painful to touch, a feeling of being poisoned, a feeling of being windswept/overexposed, dry skin, headaches, nausea, well….the list goes on and on. It doesn’t always come at once, i get waves of feeling dreadful and get slight improvements, never back to my carefree days and then the dread feeling of the wave of greater illness coming on.

‘What’s wrong with you?’

Well, there are things i know that are wrong. A facet joint damage caused by a nasty car accident which took a couple of years to get over at the time but has never given me a day off work but does give me continuous pain. I also have a leg length differential which went on undiagnosed for long enough to start me on a path of osteoarthritis in my hip. I now have a cyst on that hip bone and am waiting for a replacement. But the other stuff, what could I say? ‘I feel ill’ ‘I’m exhausted’ ‘It hurts when you touch me’, it doesn’t really cut it for me and it doesn’t satisfy other people. I’ve often felt that people think I must be a bit of a hypochondriac, complaining of problems but never being able to say more than ‘joint pain’. I’ve recently found out that there is a recognised phenomenon of feelings associated with Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) directly related to other people’s perceptions of those symptoms. How can they be real if they don’t have a name?  I can assure you that those symptoms for me, and many others, are very real and have a huge impact on daily life.

Finally though I went to see a Rheumatologist who listed, looked, read my notes, asked questions, and then delivered not only a diagnosis but also a plan of action. The diagnosis was dependant on other diseases/syndromes being  ruled out by blood test. I went home and waited. Last week I came home from a busy busy day and sat completely wasted on the sofa, I carelessly opened my letters and glanced at a letter, another appointment for another Doctor I thought but no, it was THE letter. The specialist had gone to the trouble of not only giving me that diagnosis but listing all my other problems. I have multiple issues requiring an holistic approach to help me.  I have Fibroymalgia Syndrome, Chronic Facet Joint Syndrome, Leg Length Discrepancy, Right Hip Osteoarthritis requiring full Hip Replacement. I’m using capital letters, these are my enemies and they now have names and I respect them.

Fibromyalgia has been mentioned to me before but the list of symptoms seemed so horrendous I didn’t want it to be me. When I found it it was me I smiled, I cried a bit and felt completely relieved and finally felt recognised. The plan is to go to a Pain Clinic to assess my drug regime and see if anything further or different might help. I’ll also be given a physio plan designed to get me as fit as possible before my hip replacement after the summer holidays. My difficulties now are that I feel shattered walking to the bus stop, having to stop and assess my pain even on this short route and I pay for that walk all day. I fell very badly last christmas thanks to the hip and damaged my shoulder’s rotator cuff and a/c joint, this makes it very painful to use my walking stick and I’m worried about how I’ll cope taking all my weight off my hip. I’m hoping this physio will help with that.

Someone said to me, not long ago, when I was feeling extremely unwell, that I should give up my music and concentrate on work.  Why should I? You aren’t forced to chose a life of no fun/creativity and work yourself into an early grave, and I won’t take that path either. Money is important, work is vital for the family and for my wellbeing and while I can work I’m going to carry on,  but it’s not the be all and end all. At the moment I can only stay working full time by basically doing little or no house work and very little cooking. My amazing family supports me so that I can stay in work. I’d love to work part time and maybe improve my quality of life, reduce my pain etc but there’s no chance of getting higher DLA in the current climate which means I’ve got to continue grinding myself into the ground. Doing something pleasurable like music enables me to feel that it’s worth it.  Even so, one 25 minute gig leaves me feeling like I’ve squashed in an extra day’s work and I’m not sure I can keep up the balance, because it isn’t really balancing out. I hope the pain clinic can help that.

The current debate and plans for welfare reform horrify me. Not just for myself but for all people who are in unfortunate, vulnerable, weak or disabled circumstances. No one chooses to be made redundant, disabled, the parent of a disabled child, a vulnerable person, etc. No one wishes to be in a position where they’re unable to move out of house that’s too big due to housing shortages but unable to rent the spare room out due to threats of being criminalised. People don’t chose to give up work due to increasing illness as ‘lifestyle choice’ they do so because it’s Hobson’s Choice.  I feel very lucky that I can still drag myself in on my bad days, because I cling on to the knowledge that I can spend 48hrs in bed at the weekend if I need to. When the cost of my week in work exceeds the compensation of 48 hours in bed at the weekend then I will have to take stock again. I’m not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me but I have paid into the system that’s supposed to protect me and others in these circumstances. I need to know that if I can’t continue to work full time I’ll be supported to continue to work for as long as I can, as much as I can by a welfare system that is there to help me.

The Man in the Park

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Mads sat at the table tonight and described a man, whom she saw one day, in the park.

“He had Gangster clothes on and had a dog”

Me: ‘oh he sounds mean’

Mads: ‘Yes, he was reaaaallly mean’

Me: ‘he had Gangster clothes on? Tell me about that…’

Mads: ‘He had a biker jacket on’

Me: ‘oh yes, very menacing…’

Mads: ‘But he cut the arms off, it was sleeveless’

Beardie: ‘So he was wearing Summertime Gangster clothes?’

Mads: ‘Yes, and he was covered in tattoos, all over his body, on his face he had a snake around his face!’

Me: ‘wow, he sounds interesting’

Mads: ‘Yes, and he had dark blue trousers on and they were short and you could see the bottom of his leg and he had the word ‘England’ on it’

Me: ‘oh, that’s quite a look’

Mads: ‘He had sandals on too’

Me: ‘A gangster in sandals?’

Mads: ‘He has tattoos on his feet as well, but one didn’t say ‘Wales’ on it’

Me: ‘Did he have painted toe nails?’

Mads: ‘no they were tattooed with um, A, B, C *thinks to self* up to um, J on his toes’

Me: ‘Oh and what does it say on his hands?’

Mads: *holds out hands, pointing to one finger at a time’* ‘look.at.my.feet.if.you.want.to.know.the’ *turns hands over to show palms* ‘and then on this side it said – Alphabet’

Me: ‘but he only has the letters up to J on his toes, what about the rest of it?’

Mads: ‘he doesn’t use the rest of the alphabet. He had a dog too, as well’

Me: ‘oh right, yes, that’s quite a look, all that and a dog’

Mads: ‘and he had words written in the snake on his face as well, perhaps it was the other letters of the alphabet’

Me: ‘perhaps it was, and tell me about the dog’

Mads: ‘it was a Chiuahaha’.

I wish I could draw this man, but I never want to meet him.

Faint Praise (shhh)

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

I regularly roll my eyes at Beardieboy for his lack of insight, inability to understand women and self confessed disconnection when he’s preoccupied. He leaves me curling my toes with his tendency to sleep in his day clothes; distresses me incredibly with his lack of ability to have a meaningful conversation. We have the most challenging relationship I’ve ever had in my life, in both good and bad ways. He drives me to total distraction, hurts my feelings and makes me feel isolated at times. At other times he is so caring, loving, and thoughtful I feel mean for ever having had a negative feeling about him. We work brilliantly as a pair of musicians, and wonder now why we waited so long to ‘get it on’.  He’s also pretty hot, for my money anyways.

The last few weeks I’ve been ill and had an operation on Monday. In all that time he’s been obscenely hard working. Up to 60 hrs a week at work, rehearsing, practicing his German (he’s now better than me – crapsticks) and on top of that he’s done ALL the cooking, virtually all of the cleaning and entertained the troupes. Even preparing the house for viewings, which means folding towels neatly and actually closing drawers.  He’s stepped up to the plate and he’s been the best husband a woman could hope for (apart from his infernal snoring). I’m not normally a sappy chick but when, in the past,  I’ve thrown my wedding ring at him for his utterly shittastic behaviour I’m now rather glad that he didn’t pawn it for guitar strings.

Don’t you dare tell him I said nice things about him. His head is frigging enormous.

in the next photo he sticks his tongue in my ear...this is sexy stuff girls

Christmas Tequila Cake Recipe

Friday, December 17th, 2010

(with special thanks to Val Shakespeare for sharing her secret recipe)

Once again this year I’ve had requests for my Tequila Christmas Cake Recipe so here goes:

TEQUILA CHRISTMAS CAKE

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. Salt
1 Cup brown sugar
Lemon Juice
4 Large Eggs
Nuts
1 bottle tequila
2 cups dried fruit

Sample the tequila to check quality
Take a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality.
Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck iin the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the fruit up off the floor.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit getsh shtuck in the beaterersh, just pry it looshe with a drewscriver.

Shaple the tequila to test for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.

Check the tequila. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window.
Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.

Cherry Christmas!!

Dying on Your Arse

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Did you hear about the comedian who couldn’t tell jokes because he was too busy dying on his arse?

We are in a comedy zone at home. Beardieboy thinks he’s fucking hilarious. Every moment of my home life is a pallet for his art, every intercourse is an opportunity to build a story, try out a story, check his comic timing. Sod. I mean, when you’re on the loo and someone’s standing outside saying ‘are we nearly there yet?’ you’d like to hope it’s not a 38 year old man shouting through the lock.

The man drives me, quite literally, bonkers. Having said that he is really funny and when he does his ‘thing’ he really does make me belly laugh. He’s not run of the mill, not lazy and he’s studiously hard working (I know because I am there for every bloody joke that he practices and perfects – ‘should I say it or the?’. He did his first gig and was lauded by the regular crowd who see all manner of drivel and shit, as well as all the good guys. I felt like I’d earned that for him, putting up with the constant experimentation at my expense.

We have a friend who decided to become a comedian at the same time as Beardieboy. Given that they started at the same time you’d think they’d be in roughly the same place. Hm, well you’d be wrong. This person got up at their first gig and they were devastatingly bad, having clearly done no work to prepare at all. Tumbleweed rolled through the pub as they struggled to remember even one  line of their routine. Yikes. I felt more uncomfortable than I did watching Bruno, and that’s some embarrassment we’re talking about. At this point most people would pull the wool over their own eyes and make straight for the door. My hat goes off to this person because they didn’t do that, they dusted themselves off and booked another gig. Kudos.

Beardie got on and wrote another routine, to try out some new stuff, to torture me with. The man is relentless. Our friend promised they were also working hard on their routine. It wasn’t true, and before Beardie could do his second gig our friend was up again. We sat there wondering what would happen. Let’s just say that even the tumbleweed were too embarrassed to make an appearance. I sat through the car crash and could barely breathe for ten minutes. Yet again this person came off stage and bold as brass stayed exactly where they were. They did not rush for cover, they did not give up. Knowing they hadn’t done the work they just determined to do it better, differently, more. Well done them.

Beardie did well for his second gig and eagerly anticipated his third. A few days before that gig he started to feel unwell, lavatorially speaking it wasn’t much fun, not much to joke about. I watched him sleeplessly over a few days becoming more and more unwell. On the day the gig was due he was literally dying on his arse. He started bleeding and we went straight to hospital, straight to isolation. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t cope. They wondered if he had some disease, with long term, life changing implications, or if it was a serious infection, with the potential to ruin organs and ultimately reach the same conclusion as if it were some disease.

It turns out that he did have a serious infection. After over 48 hrs of bleeding thing have started to improve, though I think he has a long way to go. I knew things were improving when he picked up his phone and tweeted about having his ‘needs’ met by a nurse who looked like she was straight out of a bollywood film.  He’s still in hospital and needs some tests to check that the damage isn’t permanent, making sure his kidneys are ok etc but I think he might have been a very lucky man.

I’m in a state of shock still, I’ve never seen so much blood come out of a person who I needed to believe was not mortally ill. I don’t ever want to go through that again. I desperately need to see him home and eating well. He spent today doing his best to piss me off with his extreme views so I doubt it’ll be too long before he is back to business.

What I need now is to get to two third gigs. The third gig that will mark the return of my lovely funny man and the third gig of a friend who will either allow us all to breathe again or who we will be counselling to find a new hobby.

Invisible

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Anyone who follows me on twitter may be aware that I’m a fan of lifelong learning. Last September I took the hugely insightful Basic Training for Prison Work course, run by Prison Link who are a referral agency for the Probation and Prison services. Prison Link is a christian charity which works with Black Minority Ethnic prisoners literally acting as the link between their prison life and preparation for their new home life. They listen to them, support them and help the make the transition to a positive new start (hopefully). I learned so much but the more I learned the more I realised I knew nothing and had few skills to help. I decided to start a counselling course and was lucky to find one starting immediately, completing level one and level two in quick succession and through a lot of hard work and commitment.

Counselling is one of those things you can’t just walk into. You have to work your way through the learning process, from the bottom up, building experience with theory behind it so that you don’t go out into the big world and fuck up someone’s fucked up life just a little bit more.  I’ve learned about myself since I started studying. I’m now horribly aware of my selfish attitudes in conversation; of how I used to plan my next step in the middle of listening to your current sentence

‘my husband hates me, my life is falling part, I don’t know where to go from here….’

‘I just need to pick up some bread, and milk…and…sorry, what did you say?’

Yeah, I could be a bit shit, and without constant self awareness I still can be but I’m working on it. I also now know that what I thought were my weaknesses are my strengths. I’m told constantly by Beardieboy that I allow others to put themselves before me. I don’t see it like that. I make a decision to nurture and put the ones I love first.  I am in charge of that decision, I don’t feel put on. What am I here for? I’m here to take part, to be a mother and a partner and to do that well I do need to give of myself. I like that about myself.

So anyway, I decided to do level three. It’s a big step but it’s a step closer to working less for better reward. I work full time, taking an NVQ3 at work as well and have children, a husband, make music, perform, have friends, etc so take another course, with a demanding homework schedule is only for the committed. I also happen to have a mobility problem.  I mention it because it affects me but I mention it last because I don’t want it to rule my life (and god knows, it tries to).

I have stealthy arthritis in my hip, toes, hand, wrist, shoulder, blah blah blah. I also have a back problem from a nasty car accident over a decade ago. Go on, get your violin out. I write badly, and the longer I write the more painful it becomes and the less legible it becomes. I need to move regularly to stop myself ugly pained faces, you know, the usual shit. Oh and I get very tired, but hell, I’m a parent, I think it’s possibly in the job description.

I applied for the course and arrived at the venue. The seating was limited and all low with no arms. My nightmare. I can’t stand, I can’t sit. I had to ask to be shown to a proper chair like a great aunt. We filled in forms and were told they were oversubscribed. We needed to take a test and if we passed that, an interview. Isn’t this government’s funding policy great. A course is oversubscribed so…turn people away. Whatever you do DON’T put on another course.

I arrived to take the test and again there was nowhere to sit and I had to ask. They wheeled out a huge chair that had a sign over it with an arrow pointing at my head saying BLOODY NUISANCE. I sat on it and ignored the sign. We were directed to our test room and another lady with a walking frame was left at the back. She was audibly embarrassed so I strolled along beside her chatting to make her feel less so, making me last to arrive. I explained I needed the bathroom, was nodded at and went as quickly as I could. I got back and was shown a seat but before i could even take off my coat he said ‘turn over your paper’. I pulled him over and said ‘um, I need extra time. I have a problem with writing, because of my hand.’ He said ‘I WISH you’d told me SOONER’. Hm, like when?Perhaps I should have texted him from the loo. He stood looking indecisive for a few minutes until I said ‘The longer it takes you decide the more time I lose anyway thereby making me more disadavantaged’. I begrudgingly received an extra 10mins, but at the end of the normal time he looked at my paper and said that he could see that I don’t need more time so I could stop with everyone else.  I was so disgusted I agreed and handed my paper in without making my writing more legible, which was what i needed that time for.

I left the college feeling pretty invisible, no other word for it. I was made to feel different by another person’s indifference to my disability. I wasn’t asking for cotton wool, just a fair chance. I was determined that it wouldn’t happen again. It did.

Tonight I had my interview and they spent half of it asking me if i felt I could meet the learning outcomes of the course given my health problems. ie are you worth our effort? are you worth a place on this course? will you spoil our success rates? (how’s that for a multi-part question?) I had to fight my corner until I finally said, ‘I will not be refused a place on the basis of my disability’ to which a horrified face stared back at me. ‘oh no, there are a number of reasons why a person might be turned down, we just meant how would you feel if you couldn’t achieve the 80% attendance rate?’ Much like the rest of the class would I imagine. Shouldn’t they actually be asking me ‘how would we best support you in ensuring you are not disadvantaged?’ or how about ‘let us know if you’re ill and we’ll work it out’. All of the above.

They looked at me for further reassurance. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders, the penny dropped and they finally did say ‘if you are ill we could possibly arrange extra tutorials, but you might have to accept that if you have a long period of illness a deferment might be necessary but would be possible’, but it really was a long time coming . I looked at them and they looked up at the neon LIABILITY sign over my head and said they’d get back to me. I left feeling invisible again.

As it turns out they’ve accepted me on the course. I knew they would. My folder was great (it said so in the comments, if not on any of my overhead signs) and they realised I might make a fuss if they turned me down without good cause. I now have to get higher marks than anyone else to prove to myself that they didn’t just take me on out of fear.

I was going to become a counsellor for families of prisoners and offenders. I was going to do it to give people a chance to break the cycle. Now I can see that what I need to do is counsel people to enable themselves, so they can see past the boundaries and labels other people give them and they give themselves, so that they can become visible.

(sorry if that was a big maggoty dog turd of a post but I had something to say, and well, this is the pooch poop dumping ground).

Boys

Friday, September 17th, 2010

5yo: I’m going to chase after boys with my lips like this *purses lips for a kiss*, they run away…

me: I can imagine

16yo: We’re not at that stage in our relationship

me: Well just make sure it’s right for you (internally) thank christ for that!

19yo: I’m going to get drunk every night of freshers week

me: Think of your liver

19yo: You think of my liver

22yo: I’m getting a tattoo, on my back, with my nan and grandad’s names on

me: That’s lovely (internally) no names, no names ohhhh no names *mental note: you didn’t phone your dad and tell him*

Birmingham and I

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010


This is what you get when you put me to bed with a laptop.

I used to live in a beautiful little welsh valley town with a population of just under 3,500 which swelled to over 40,000 during the summer months. It was a town where 95% of the population is white and about 60% of the population is middle-class with the kind of lifestyle within the working classes that mirrors a few Enid Blyton/Viz stories (depending on your age and alcohol intake). My happiest memories were watching fish jump out of the river, sliding down the mountain into the bracken on pieces of cardboard, then eating my squashed white bread and jam butties and being in ‘clubs’ which were basically corners of someone’s dad’s shed, which we earned by mowing the lawn or picking up leaves. My brother’s favourite moments were catching the fish, punching me in the arm and throwing darts at my Sindy dolls.  Yes, it was nearly perfect (and we were the poor(ish) people).

In the next picture my brother kicks me

In fact, it was so perfect that when I grew up and got married, I determined I’d give my family the same kind of upbringing. I use the term ‘grew up’ loosely because I actually, stupidly, got married at 18 – not pregnant and no one tried to stop me! I had three kids and sadly divorced. I say sadly because although I am happily remarried now I feel that if I had understood life more I may have made more effort to make things work. I was not properly tooled up for the task at hand. Fortunately, neither myself nor my exhusband are total arses and we continue to have a pretty great relationship (this means I don’t call him a dick and he doesn’t call me a bitch – to our faces) and he’s a wonderful father to our three kids.  I stayed where I was, giving the kids the best I could afford, which wasn’t much but it was my best and eventually bumped into Beardieboy on the Internet one night, talking about music. It turned out we’d both performed on virtually the same circuit. We got on like a house on fire. This means we were happy chatting without the need to jump each others bones. It was all good. We started talking on the phone and eventually arranged to meet…

I’m going to skip the bit where we jumped each others bones, got sprogged up, got a business and then decided to get married. Maybe that’s for another day. Suffice it to say we did do that and then tried to sell the house in wales to move here. This is the house that I lived in for 20 years and raised 4 children in. By the time we’d sold it I was a heap of nerves, I was moving to a polluted pit of overpopulated, underfunded greyness and I was leaving my friends, family and fresh air behind. I was horrified, I questioned what kind of fruit-loop I must be. I photographed every inch of my house as if I’d never taken any photographs within the walls before. They basically led me weeping from my empty home and I cried the entire way to Birmingham.

A close up would show teardrops on the carpet.

A close up would show teardrops on the carpet.

I arrived, I moved in, unpacked and hated it. I hated you lot. You were all rude, all pushing and shoving, all in a  hurry, all didn’t care. I couldn’t believe how hung up on colour and culture you all were. I couldn’t get over how you all defined yourselves by these things and not by your individual nature. I was confused. I was Welsh yes, but mainly I was me, a creative being, frustrated by daft barriers of my own making, a mother and a musician and someone who was never happier than when feeding and comforting others. That’s it. I arrived here to find complex characterisations of people, by themselves and each other. People who defined their person by the fact that they were white Muslim, Pakistani Muslim, Irish catholic, black, Somalian black/Muslim, Sikh, white, Chinese, etc, etc. I was no longer surrounded by Johnny Saw (carpenter), Maggie who makes pots, Pete the Milk, Joanie Bigmouth (yes it’s true, she was the local fishwife, god love her). Suddenly I was surrounded by people who defined themselves by their religion or colour and I was confused. I didn’t know where I fit in, I didn’t know any welsh people,  I didn’t know anybody that wasn’t introduced to my by Beardieboy. I did know some musicians by this means, but it’s hard to find common ground with people who are as close to Napalm Death as you are to Alanis Morissette.

I remember the first time I took a stroll down City Road. I had my toddler in a buggy and I realised I couldn’t breathe such was the air pollution. I wept imagining what it was doing to my child’s lungs, came back and rummaged for an inhaler and never walked down that road with her again. The same happened when I went up Bearwood Road at home time. I couldn’t get over how dirty I was after a day shopping. The city is a dirty place. And the litter…don’t get me started on the litter. Cripes people, pick up some rubbish will you.

Our business ground to a halt overnight. I am not joking either. One day we were happily moving rich people from one big house to another, smiling and wrapping up their bone china, and the next day recession hit, and along with 10 other removals companies a week, we simply stopped working.  Fortunately we’re hardy buggers and Beardieboy immediately started driving HGV for the only growth business in the recession – Poundland. He’s never been out of work since, thankfully and I immediately got my job and was only out of work for the time it took to check I wasn’t a secret cat burglar.

I got my job working in the heart of public service, in the heart of the biggest court in Europe, in the heart of the second city and I loved it. I don’t talk about it, it’s my job. I do, however care about it. Through my job I’ve got to know the best and the worst or Birmingham, literally. I have learned about the driving forces behind city crime, community division, the risk of falling into the educational abyss, cigarettes, whisky and wild wild women. I’ve learned how cultural identities help people create communities in what would otherwise be a heaving pit of humanity lacking any cohesion. I’ve come to see how it can be positive for some people to identify themselves in this way in the absence of ‘the village’ and how it can cause strife. I love the diversity in this city, in my office, amongst my friends. I always have enjoyed diversity on the level of personalities but now there’s an extra dimension within culture/religion/ethnicity.

I find the city’s architecture fascinating. It’s such a challenging city. So chopped up by trends and ages but somehow it works. It’s exciting and forward thinking. Brummies are not afraid of a challenge. Not just in building but in so many ways. If you don’t believe me take a look at http://www.justdoit.org to see how many different organisations need you to make a better Birmingham.

I saw all this and set about making a life for myself here. I set about finding people who valued their own individuality and other peoples’. I’ve used social media for its most perfect purpose. I’ve found people I have got to know, and people I am getting to know and have noticed people I’d like to get to know and you are probably one of them if you’re reading this (especially if you’ve read this far).

I’m back writing and singing and am at the point of ‘putting myself about’ along with Beardieboy with our ‘Less for Murder’ project. It’s a strong project. We like it and so do others. I’m hopeful.  I’m even more hopeful for my eldest daughter who is displaying the result of being brought up surrounded by musicians and has a fearsome untapped talent that is jumping up and down to be heard. I’m just as excited for my son who is about to begin reading for his degree at Birmingham City University and for my youngest, who will grow up  remembering nothing of her birthplace, other than as a location we visit to see friends and family. Only my eldest has shown no interest in the city, but that’s ok. I remember hating it when I arrived. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

I am still welsh in my heart, the valley will always be mine. I still gasp for fresh air and feel my skin is suffocated by the pollution but I am hopeful and excited by this city and I feel I have a place in it, not just a nameless, faceless body in an unremarkable home but I have a place being me, being constructive and creative and contributing. After two years I’m ready to start taking part.

What a Cheek!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

(pungent smell fills the air, everyone looks at each other and then at the dog)

Beardieboy: Gelert!

5yo: That wasn’t Gelert, it was you!!

Beardieboy: It was not me, I didn’t feel it.

5yo: Well I feel mine, they make my bottom cheeks move.