Archive for the ‘…Because Life’s Like That’ Category

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).

A Little Bit of This and That

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Oh there you are. I must have had my map upside down, I was heading in the opposite direction. Soz.

I’m not sure I’ve got anything interesting to write about. Work is interesting but I can’t talk about that and stay working so we’ll leave it there. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Family? Well, let’s just say, everyone has been ill so far, and the least ill but the most grumpy is obviously Beardieboy.  I sent him a text tonight, after venting my spleen earlier (I still haven’t found my wedding ring from my outburst two days ago so I really should get some anger management). The text said ‘Sorry I got angry. Please get well soon.’ This means ‘Sorry I got angry (, you wound me up with your whiney shit and outrageously grumpy, pestering behaviour and if you don’t get well soon I might have to kill you, so) please get well soon.’  He came scampering down the stairs like an excited puppy to accept the apology in person. grr

A typical victim of 'man flu' - just add a beard and ignore.

 I’ve been so ill all week that I’m finally on antibiotics and recovering. It’s a good thing. We’re short staffed next week and well, you can’t have too many people to push bits of paper around can you?

Friends? My welsh friends will always be my friends but not being able to get home more than once every four or five months is proving a bit of a barrier on the close friendship front. Never mind, we’ve been friends since we were five I’m sure we’ll survive. Then there’s the friends I’ve met through Beardieboy. I have to say they are pretty much as lovely as you’d like. Kind hearted, good fun, always come to our parties and never borrow the lawn mower. However, it’s important to find friends for yourself as well, so I decided recently that I should start working on new friendships, new acquaintances and becoming part of my new community. Twitter’s been amazing.

 I’ve chatted with some hilarious and lovely people. Take @nudieprincess for instance. She’s gorgeous even in the nude .  Obsessed with (my) weird sex (fetishes) too.   Then there’s the beautiful and talented @cosmicgirlie. I don’t chat to her much but I do watch her growing confidence in photography and her refinding of her love for cello with admiration. Her honesty is very endearing. Her kids are cute too. There’s @brumcast who is passionate about birmingham and passionate about music his Rhubarb Radio show is great and he’s very excited about his impending parenthood (and so he should be, it’s a bloody trip). We met up with him at a rhubarb radio mash up and he’s a lovely bloke. There are more and I’m sure I’ll mention them again but I don’t want to do a roll call. You/they are all great and make my long evenings tolerable.

Deserving of a paragraph all of her own is @mrs_eddieizzard What can I say about this woman? She’s funny, passionate about her family, human rights, society, and crocheting.  She’s also an absolute mare who nearly made me piss my pants by texting the word ‘Boo!’ to me when I was watching Paranormal Activity the other night. This was closely followed by ‘Look outside, I’m behind the bush’ Not fucking likely spank you very much! I’m the woman who watched Salem’s Lot in my first home with no curtains up. So there I was, sitting in the living room, when there was a tappety tap tap on the window. Fearing that my life was about to drained from me by terrible vampires I picked up two pokers and fashioned a cross before turning around to discover they were effing moths trying to get to the light. Bastards.

 

However, back to mrs izzard, she is propery funny and has great taste in clothes and cars. I know we’re going to have fun, even if she is younger than me, with bags of energy and enthusiasm. Calm down dear.

Music? Well that’s taking on a life of its own. Still nothing recorded as Less for Murder yet but we did go down to Katie Fitzgerald’s in Stourbridge on Monday, where they have an open mic night. Someone called us experimental; someone was clearly heard saying ‘well that was shit’ after the first song, but overall we had some very positive feedback, including being compared to the Pixies. We were encouraged to return. That’s the ticket! We’re going to be spinning our little yarns of fucked up relationships and the life choices of weirdos at the Adam and Eve in Digbeth on 31st May for our first offical outing as Less for Murder, that’s if I don’t decide before hand that I could actually get less for murder and dispatch him with a rolling pin first.

So that’s it, in a nutshell. Been sick, have new friends, driven insane by the evil one, making music, will be heard. Night all!

Love is…

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

My fifteen year old daughter is, so far, blissfully unaware of my blog and my Twitter.  I say ‘so far’ because no doubt she will eventually find them and egotistically search them for any mention of her good self.  I wouldn’t like to disappoint her.

A few months ago she confessed to me that she quite liked a boy she’d met at her church group’s camp holiday last year. I was determined not to be as much of an arsehole as my dear father was and showed her genuine interest without any hint of motherly possessiveness. Now, my dear dear father wasn’t quite so easy going. My first boyfriend, at the age of 15 was a local bounder called Paul. Paul was a few years older than me, which to me meant very little but to my father it meant war. The first time Paul came to our house to take me out I came into the hallway just in time to see my dad open the door and say ‘Fuck Off!!’ before slamming it in the poor lad’s face. Parental love is a funny thing.

Anyway, so she tells me about this boy and, after bigging him up quite a bit, she slips in the fact that he’s 18. I yelped internally and later figured out a way to tell Beardieboy, who is not strictly her dad but, in the absence of her dad , does a pretty good job of standing in for a paternal grinch.

Beardieboy: Fuck Off!

Me: I’m sure he’ll be lovely

Beardieboy: la, la,la I’m not listening, la, la, la

Me: Pack it in…

Beardieboy: Invite him round to dinner, I’ll sort him out

Perishing the thought I did just that and to both our surprise he seemed like a perfectly nice boy. Very young for his age, very sweet. Beardieboy was calmed. My father, on the other hand, called me a bad mother, declared the boy a predator and told me to put my child on the pill. I smiled sweetly, went in my mother’s kitchen and muttered something about getting stuffed.

Now, they only see each other once a week and when they do it’s shopping, cinema, bowling or in our house or his parent’s house, with adults around. So I had been feeling quite comfortable with things. Then, a few weeks ago, I walked in to find them, erm, getting a bit heated. I swallowed. I made dinner and we sat at the table. He volunteered it was his birthday the next week.  I suddenly realised my little baby was dating an actual man. He may be a bit gawkish and geeky, he’s certainly not as wordly wise as my own 19 year old son, but he IS 19.

The beautiful au pair thinks all of this is hilarious, and in a very direct german way, wants to know if I’m worried he’ll have sex with my daughter. I reply by saying that, if she likes, we can talk about her parents having sex. She bursts out laughing and wanders off like I’m the funniest square she’s met in a long time.  So, you’re language skills have improved to the point of sarcasm…hmmm?

Last week, I was in the kitchen (I seem to do that a lot) when the sweethearts came in for a drink. My daughter’s face was covered in bright red blotches from excessive snogging. – remember that! I joked that I hoped she wasn’t allergic to him (I say joked, because I secretly wished that she was allergic to him. More than that, I wanted her to find him boring). I carried on being jovial, saying they’d have to keep their distance if it was an allergy.  I said it’d make having a relationship difficult. Imagine…

Mimicking someone shouting from a distance, I half shouted across the room to him: Heyyy, I really like you

He, caught up in the moment, yelled back: Heeeyyyyyy, I love you too.

I audibly choked and suddenly decided to put the kettle on.  The au pair, who’d been idling by the fruit bowl, suddenly picked up an apple and rammed it in her gob in a bid to stop herself from laughing.  A small amount of embarassed murmering took place and the blotchy couple left, sans drinks. The au pair crumpled with laughter. I just glared at her.

Me: Did you hear that? Did you hear that?

Beautiful au pair: I will help you interrupt them every 15 minutes, we can take it in turns.

Me: Ok.

Giving up Nick Owen. And Cake.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I haven’t been as big a blogger as I thought I’d be. I think I spend far too much time working, or something. Actually, the honest truth is I’ve spent a huge amount of energy recently avoiding doing three overdue essays for my counselling course. They aren’t long essays and the amount brain power required to actively avoid doing these essays directly corrolates to the amount of brain power required to complete them.  Maybe I should just do them. Oh my christ, what kind of tie does Nick Owen have on? It looks like it’s made out of luminous crepe paper vomit. How chic! His vomit-tie completely overshadows everything else on the screen, including his face, which is going some when you have a face like a congenial bag of spanners.

Sorry, I got distracted there. See. See how it happens? I start thinking about essays and suddenly the likes of Nick Owen and his tie come along and divert my attention.

Cakes. Cakes also have the same affect as Nick Owen. Distracting. You know, which one should I have? Why chose? Why not have them all? Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have all of them, maybe I should show restraint. Sod constraint, I like cake. See, I get all confused.

So I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to give up cakes and Nick Owen, till the end of July, when my course finishes. This would be a sort of post-Lentern abstention. I always was a little rebel. Me, giving up Nick Owen at the age of ….oh the numbers on my keyboard aren’t working. Technical hitch.

We Went to London

Monday, March 29th, 2010
A poncy photo of Big Ben by my photo crazy daughter

Look Ben, it's not big and it's not funny. Ok, so it's big, but it's not...

So, there I was bragging about how cheap it all was, what good value for money it was and how planning ahead was the way forward. I booked my train tickets  and hotel back in February and picked the tickets up on Friday to discover I’d bought outward and return journies for Saturday. Yep, both for Saturday. Arse.

I called thetrainline and explained how I was a regular and good customer, had made a genuine error and needed help to transfer my tickets. ‘I can do that for you, there will be a £50 admin charge’, I looked at the phone in disbelief, ‘but I can book new tickets for just £42, why can’t you just transfer them?’ ‘I can, the charge is £50’, ‘Waive the charge’, ‘No, I can’t I can only waive £10 or £20’ ‘Are you going to offer this?’ ‘No’. Ok thanks for your unhelp.

+£42

Arrived at the hotel to discover the the second bedroom information had overwritten the first bedroom information and we had a small double and large double for 5 people. The suggested the teenagers share a bed. ‘No, my daughter is 15, my son is 19, not only is it inappropriate it’s likely to end in violence, they’re siblings’  Oh well, we’ll move their room and put a foldout bed in your room for your five year old.  (So much for a romantic weekend). Oh and there’s an extra charge of £15 because our software system screwed up your booking. Arse.

+£15

We had plans to go to the Tate. Sidetracked by the companionship of a small scruffy bear from school (sent to accompany us on our travels), Beardieboy decides in his wisdom to take a detour to see Westminster ‘so the bear can have it’s picture taken’. No, really, this is true. We arrive at Westminster, haul arse to the wrong side of the Thames, glare at each other and the stupid bear has its stupid photo taken with the five year old, on the shoulders of Beardieboy, too close to the edge of the Thames. Consequently this detour resulted in a dozen photos of my five year old looking utterly terrified on the shoulders of a Beardieboy who smiled with barely masked anger due to me cringing at the sight of my child in such jeopardy. Fortunately the bear is quite photogenic.

image of a teddy drinking coke, it's ok though, it's diet coke

Paws drinking coke, it's ok though, it's diet coke

The detour also took an extra hour or so leaving us precisely 15 minutes to do the Tate and take a taxi back to Euston. Extra cost of unscheduled taxi was £12.80.

+£12.80

A picture of my derrier

Apparently this is me being a grumpy arse

Don’t let me plan your London trip unless you have a spare £70 cushion in your budget. I didn’t and it’s a good job we like lentils and beans.

picture of a lion statue at the Natural History Museum

At least some things are set in stone...not the price of trains, or hotels mind you.

Cheerful Denial

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Why is it that when your dentist is imparting heartbreakingly bad news they manage to cushion it with wonderful yet inaccessible possibilities.

‘Ah the problem is…’ (the problem is I have teeth of shit, they have never been good. They will never be good. As Alanis would say, they are ‘ungood’, or as I would say – once more – they are shit) ‘…you appear to have a cracked root, I’m afraid this tooth will have to be extracted’

This FRONT tooth will have to be extracted. My ARSE! Calm expression.

‘What are my options?’

‘The good news is that there are three options, the first is that we use an implant, it will be like a crown, no one will ever see the difference’.

‘Right, and how about an option that I have possibility of paying for?’

‘Bridge or denture, denture if you are strapped. What would you like to do?’

‘I’d like you to stick it back together again.’

‘oookay’

‘Denture’

‘Good choice’

‘Yup’

Don’t tell my secret admirers.

Made Ya Look

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

‘No one will notice love’
Half an hour later my daughter came home. I smiled at her and she let out a yelp.
People will notice.