Who’s a Hero?

I never knew my Dad so, when he died, it didn’t make an impact on my life in anyway. For that, I know I’m lucky. But I feel even more lucky that I never felt I needed a Dad. I never felt I needed a Dad because I had my Grandad. And, believe me, he was everything an Army of 1000 children could ever want or need in a 1000 lifetimes.

I know full well that this entry will breach the self-made terms of my Manifesto – I didn’t want to write about relationships or creating tragic dramas out of Eastenders-esque daily events – but I feel, more strongly than I have about most urges I’ve had in life (and, hey, I am up the duff, remember) that this is a relationship I NEED to tell you about. Not only for my own cathartic purposes, but to honour the most incredible man I have ever, and will ever, know.

I’m sure most people would claim that their closest or most senior of relatives are pretty incredible, admirable even, but my Grandad – Group Captain Porter of the RAF, OBE – is in fact a Hero. The Queen says so…

My Mum was just a teenager when she had me in the late 1980’s and I was born 3 months premature with Cerebral Palsy (I’ll be frank, I’m bloody lucky to be alive, let alone be able to walk) so my Grandparents, still being fit, young and able, took a very active role in my upbringing.

Every Saturday I’d spend the night with my Nana and Grandad, eating copious amounts of chicken with mayonnaise, strawberries and tortilla chips & dip whilst glued to Noel’s House Party – eagerly awaiting the merry and outrageous antics (outrageous to a 90’s child) of Mr Blobby (and, yes, I did have the Mr Blobby’s Party cassette tape).

On a Sunday I’d spend the morning having a long, wallowing bath, full of crocodiles and monsters in the jungle, waiting under the surface to taste my toes and fall pray to the wrath of Tarzan (I sometimes wish I was a kid again, can you tell) and finish it by spending a good few hours in front of my Nana’s dressing table, playing with her make up and pretending I was a grown up, already. Then the afternoon would be upon us and, as a family, we’d gather round the dining room table for a roast, listen to music and my Grandad would start telling us all some heroic story from his RAF days, full of body-guards, guns and fighting in wars.

I’ll admit, I always found it difficult to believe that the greying, slightly frayed ‘old’ (he was only in his 50’s but that was ancient to a 10 year old) bloke in front of me was a Hero who travelled around the world saving lives like Superman. I knew he had medals and I’d seen lots of pictures of him in his uniform looking all young and dashing in front of aeroplanes, even one where he’s next to Princess Diana, but my tiny, child brain just couldn’t quite connect the two.

To be honest, I always took these stories for granted. Everyone’s Grandad got a medal from the Queen for their services and was so important they had to be protected by round-the-clock body guards at the top of their career, didn’t they? All Grandads, at some point in their lives got offered a scholarship to Oxbridge to become a Neurosurgeon and turned it down to serve Queen and Country, right? Apparently not.

It turns out that my Grandad led a pretty special and extraordinary life, a lot of which he will never be able to talk about because he had to sign it away to silence for his, our’s and the country’s protection.

My Grandparents, even now, reminisce fondly about their time in Singapore in the Early 1960’s… Newly married, in their early 20’s with no kids, they still have hundreds of stories to tell. Every day I saw him when I was a kid he’d tell me something new about the 3 short but event years they spent there as Newlyweds in a tiny, basic bedsit, fighting off snakes and cockroaches on a daily basis and even how he saved a sick newborn baby’s life, flying him to the nearest hospital, by risking his own.

This is why, when my Grandad was taken seriously ill in his mid-60s 3 years ago, it was not only a massive shock by also a tremendous tragedy. Well, of course it is, you’re probably thinking – he’s the head of the family – but my Grandad has always been Mr Indestructible, the aforementioned Superman of the real world. Even after he retired from the RAF he took on a job as a Bursa for a sixth-form college that, quite honestly, was crumbling. In true Grandad style he turned that dive into an award winning institution for education.

Watching someone as intelligent and accomplished as my Grandad waste away through a haze of Parkinson’s and Dementia has been continuously soul-crushing for the last 3 years. It’s a slow form of sick torture and, honestly, raises an important question for me that I want answered by someone. Anyone. What has the Human Race done to deserve such diseases? Correction, what has my Grandad done to deserve such a disease?

Now, as he lies in hospital, I can’t help. but feel immensely proud of my Grandad for everything he has achieved and accomplished in his life. With only 2 and a half weeks until his first Great-Granddaughter is born and about 3 weeks until his 70th birthday I pray that 2012 will end in triumph for the Hero that is my Grandad.

(apologies for any mistakes. I cannot bring myself to read this back and edit any errors)

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Ah, man, who ruined my Sunday morning lie in?

A lot of things in life piss me off, particularly at the moment (the dog being one of them, let’s not forget) and as I was lying awake at 4.40 this morning, staring at my bedroom ceiling and being endlessly kicked in the ribs, I was reminded of that list of things. You know, the things that piss me off.

Problem is, not only am I super-humanly highly-strung but I’m also incredibly neurotic. Increasingly so as I get older, too. No bugger warned me about the pleasures of ‘Pregnancy Insomnia’ in Sex-Ed class when I was 14, or indeed again when I fell pregnant and overbearing middle-aged women, desperate to relive their youth, took pleasure in relaying their horrific birthing stories to me, when I finally plucked up the courage to start telling people. No. This little gem I had to discover on my own. Thanks, people (!)

You see, I’m the kind of person, apparently, who will suddenly awake at 4am and spend the next 3 hours mapping out a survival plan for the next 30 years just in case the worst things that could ever possibly happen to one, insignificant, human being on this God forsaken planet do, in fact, occur all at once.

However, it is worse than just that… It’s worse than just that because the thought process will start with something as simple and inoffensive as “do I have everything for baby and I ready in the overnight bag?” and end with something utterly and extravagantly tragic like “if the world ends in December this year with the freak landing of a UFO containing hostile and disease-ridden Aliens hell bent on turning the entire human race into flesh eating Zombies, what’s the plan?” You know, because that’s just inevitable, right?

Truth is, my body has, obviously, changed so much in the last 8 months (I have just under 3 weeks now until my due-date) that I feel like I don’t know anything about myself anymore. I feel like a completely different person living in someone else’s body.

Don’t get me wrong, this fascinates me. But, naturally, it also scares the living crap out of me, too! I feel wonderfully privileged to have the gift of bringing life into this world and, as the last few weeks of my pregnancy drag on through a haze of stressful dog (yes, Sadie, that’s you, stop bloody whinging outside back door!) and Jeremy Kyle, I’m getting more and more desperate to meet my little girl. The hormonal changes are pretty incredible too. Well, they were in the first trimester (along with the continuous vomiting, headaches and general feeling of being hit by a train every day for 15 weeks) but now, all those lovely feelings of happiness, womanliness and general excitement seem to have given way to sleepless nights, money worries and nightmares about Aliens and Zombies taking over the world. And she’s not even here, yet!

I seem to have already made the transition into Parenthood without warning. When this happened I don’t know, but I wish someone could have told me. Just a head’s up would have done. Like, instead of trying to scare me with their birthing stories, one of those lovely older women could’ve just slipped in somewhere – maybe between the forceps and the 200 stitches – “oh, by the way, on this date you will turn into a proper Mother”.

Gone are the days when my biggest worry was what I would wear to the SU Bar fancy dress party that coming Friday night or whether I should have pasta bake or cottage pie for dinner. Now, I’m thinking about savings, mortgages, colour schemes, University Fees and how the bollocks I’m going to look after a solely dependent, tiny human life when I’ve only just got the hang of looking after myself.

Pregnancy is weird. At the time when I should be storing up my sleep for the amount I won’t be getting for the next 18 years, my body hates me so much, it seems to be saying a big “BUGGER YOU!” for getting pregnant in the first place. And as I lie awake at stupid o’clock each morning, listening to the dog whinging in the garden, I can’t help but feel that my body and the dog have secretly been conspiring against me… Just like the Aliens set on wiping out the human race this December (!)

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Who’s that dog?

“SADIE! OFF!” is something I seem to spend the majority of my days screaming at the moment. And, to be fair, I might as well be pissing on an old sponge for all the good it does.

I’ve spent six years effectively living away from home – including 3 at Uni, 2 living on my own and working 2 jobs and 1 living, working and studying an MA in London – so moving back home to live with my Mum, 2 kid siblings and a massive dog, however temporary, wasn’t the easiest of changes to settle in to (don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful to my Mother and can never fully repay her for the favour she’s currently doing me. She’s pretty amazing)! But, at a time when minimal stress is of the essence, it’s the dog that’s become the most impossible to accept. This is the story of Sadie the big, bad, fluffy bitch…:

So, one day my Mum gets an idea in her head – “I’m buying a dog. There’s one I’ve always wanted. A Pyrenean Mountain Dog” – she excitedly squeaks down the phone at me as I’m sat outside the ominous London tower block, freezing my not-so-tiny bottom off, after a 10 hour shift at work. Now, there wasn’t a moment that went by where I didn’t think this was a good idea. My Mum has always loved dogs and after the year she had previous to this, somewhat extravagant, purchase I thought she deserved it. And after many, many pennies spent and an extra clause in her tenancy agreement, the dog arrived.

Now, I don’t know if any of you know anything about Pyreneans, but they’re incredibly stubborn, intelligent dogs that only do what they want, when they want, get restless/bored easily and are – to their credit – very good with children. The last statement I have no problem with. Many times I’ve witnessed, to my horror, my kid brother and sister trying to ride the dog like a horse or pull her tail and she’s just sat there and taken it. Not even growled. Amazing, if you ask me. And, The many times I’ve witnessed this I’ve felt incredibly sorry for the dog that the kids put her through all this rubbish. If I was that dog, I would have gone for them by now! It’s the other baggage I have the issues with.

When I lived away in London and would come home only on the occasional weekend to visit, the dog’s stubborn and restless ways wouldn’t bother me so much. I just kept my stuff behind a closed door, kept my back against the wall and shouted when I felt she’d over stepped the mark. I didn’t particularly like the dog, I’ll be honest, but what the hell – she was like a screaming baby I could give back to the exhausted Mother whenever I’d had enough! Obviously, this changed as soon as I moved back and the screaming baby became like MY screaming baby.

Even now I’m sat in my armchair, trying to think of good things to say about the dog and I can just see her in the opposite room, jumping up at stuff, knocking stuff over and trying to eat my new pet rats (fair one, I guess, they are tiny little animals she’s never seen before). But she’s just come back from a long walk – shouldn’t she be tired out? Please? No? Bollocks.

I know, right now, she’s just acting like any dog would – but this is the final straw in a long line of destructive and irritating behaviour…

A few days ago my Mum popped out to run some errands for no more than half an hour. The kids had just run on their merry way to school, Jeremy Kyle had just started (yes, my Maternity Leave does consist of a lot of daytime TV) and it was just me and the dog. For half an hour. Not a problem, right? Hahaha. I wish.

In that half an hour the dog managed to cause as much chaos as Stalin did for the Soviet people over his pretty long reign of terror.

Firstly, I make myself a coffee and grab myself a banana – a little morning tradition that has become one of the highlights of my day – and I come back in to find that she’s up on my Mum’s sewing table, chewing confidently on a roll of expensive Christmas ribbon. Whilst I meticulously clear this up and put it away in it’s rightful place, she moves into the Living Room – where my morning delights are lovingly sat waiting for me in front of a bit of JK – and starts drinking half the eagerly awaiting coffee and steals the banana.

A sharp intake of breath and a steady count to ten and I managed to stop myself going as purple with rage as the girl who turns into a Blueberry in Willy Wonka. “That’s fine”, I exhale through gritted teeth, “I wasn’t that tired after a night full of being kicked in the ribs endlessly by a rapidly growing baby, anyway, and there’s last night’s pizza in the fridge”. So, off I hobble (hey, pregnancy is uncomfortable!) to get a slice of cold Dominos pizza. Brilliant! A bloody good excuse to gorge, at least. Well, yeah, the dog thought so, too. As a sneak, as quietly as a pregnant cripple can, out of the kitchen with a slice of meaty pizza hanging out my hungry and sleep-deprived face, the dog – never missing even an ant fart at a sleazy London nightclub – just can’t stop herself. Bounding over and forgetting she’s twice my bastard size, she jumps up onto my shoulders and tries to slobber all over my breakfast. Correction, my second breakfast. Again.

I could deal with all this drama if A) it didn’t all culminate in her running into the conservatory, taking an object of large sentimental or monitory value, taking it into the garden and ripping it to shreds as a final “BUGGER YOU!” to the shouting, beatroot red, flesh-bag, stopping her from enjoying her destruction-filled morning or B) this didn’t happen EVERY SINGLE SODDING MORNING FOR THE LAST 2 MONTHS.

It’s safe to say she’s an intelligent dog who’s personality has come straight from observing the kids’ behaviour and adopting it as her own. I’m now surrounded by a house of creatures who confidently think, continuously, “you’ve told me off, but you’re not Mum so I’ll do it anyway and cause you an enurism in later life. You know, just because I can”. Yeah, thanks, dog (!)

Long story short, does anyone want to purchase a lovely, caring, energetic and fun-filled MASSIVE DOG? I won’t tell my Mum if you won’t…

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Saville who?

So, there’s something annoying me in the press these days and, as much as I’ve tried to ignore it and just change the channel or switch onto another iPhone application in the desperate attempt to block it out and pretend it’s not strangling me, morally, it’s coverage has become so swollen it’s now impossible to deny and I feel the urge now, like anyone, to have a good old fashioned rant about it in a public space in order to rid those media-shaped demons plaguing my every, waking, Programme-watching moment. However, I just felt that a ‘like if you’re against…’ Facebook post wouldn’t have quite done this one justice, today. Although, I’m sure if I look hard enough, I’ll find one of these disgustingly unnecessary piles of virtual dog vomit to fit this rather sensitive and over-exposed subject (but that search can be left to another needless rant on another anger-filled day)…

I’m talking, obviously, about all this Jimmy Saville business. My Facebook is flooded, my ‘News Free’ is a Niagra’ll-fix-it… Everywhere I turn I can’t move for headlines and allegations.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I’m heartless or disinterested in the horrific notion of pedophilia, particularly when the adult concerned abuses his position in order to gain access to innocents, however – and this is my issue – the bloke’s dead. Apart from the acknowledgement of embarrassment and shame Saville’s dodgy past antics have bought on the BBC and, indeed, everyone who was associated with him, there’s nothing that – realistically – can be done. Surely?

I understand (as much as I can having not been abused as a child) that coming forward and naming your childhood abuser and the atrocious things that happened to you, therefore, must be a devastating and somewhat violating experience – not only of course because one then has to relive all the terrible things that happened and have, I assume, been buried under years of denial and intimacy issues – but if these women couldn’t come forward and tell the authorities of how Saville ‘stole their innocence’ whilst justice could still be done (i.e. when he was alive), isn’t it a bit late, now?

I refer back to my previous, frank comment – the bloke’s dead – short of digging him up and putting his remains in trial (human rights?) I believe all this media coverage, uncovering of horrific stories of pedophilia and general slander is redundant. Only because – what good can it do? He can’t exactly apologise to these poor women in person, serve some much-deserved time in prison as punishment for his numerous disgusting acts or even hide in fear of being lynched for what he did.

It’s all very well and good making the public gesture of stripping the man of his Knighthood (let’s face it, any man who touches kids – particularly sick kids – doesn’t deserve such an honour), but if he’s not alive to acknowledge or understand the shame of being stripped of such a privilege, it will not achieve much more than the media equivalent of Chinese Whispers… A welcomed distraction to shut the young ones up at the unwelcomed, E-number-fuelled, preschool party.

Now, I’ve been wronged by a lot of people over the years in many varying degrees and ways (I’m sure you can tell from the unapologetic hatred I carry for most of this world) but, personally, if someone had hurt me and I hadn’t been able to bring this to light during their lifetime, I would let the secret die with them and use that death as a form of release. Maybe I’m just an evil bitch but, to be honest with you, if someone had hurt me that badly I’d want to see them suffer and take pleasure in the sport of it all. If I couldn’t witness their first-hand suffrage I wouldn’t see the point.

I get that everyone involved with Saville during his lifetime is ashamed that they didn’t see what was quite obviously dangling in front of their ignorant eyes and they may feel the public pressure to apologise for not ‘stepping in’ or something equally heroic but, I would say it’s not their responsibility and they shouldn’t feel that way. Pedophiles are secretive and sly – if the people around him didn’t know what he was doing, it goes without saying that they couldn’t have done anything about it – the responsibility lies directly and fully on Saville himself.

Basically, the point I’m trying to make is this:

Jimmy Saville was a vile individual who used his popular media profile to sexually abuse children – worse, sick children, too – and, if he was still alive I would be the first to publicly spit proverbial venom in the old man’s (hopefully guilt-ridden) face. But he’s not. He died Smug in the knowledge that he’d got away with the evil he committed. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with that and let the stories die with him. Painful, but true. And we should all use his death as a positive event – at least he can’t hurt anyone else.

Who’s Manifesto?

I’m a Writer, not a socialite. I’m not going to claim to leave you smiling and laughing to yourself merrily once you’ve slaved over this page and I’m not particularly interested in forcing you to like me.

What I am interested in are words. Words and people watching. Oh, and passing cynical judgements on ‘current affairs’ and social taboos I like to think I understand…

I won’t sit here and tell you how to do your make up or pretend I know what you should be wearing during these harsh winter months in order to fit in with the superficial fashionistas of this empty, consumerist society.

I won’t masturbate all over this website with stories of my daily social dilemmas or a coherent spreadsheet recording my weekly bowel movements, you know, just for your ‘reading pleasure’.

I have more respect for you than to subject you to such dull and unnecessary bouts of self-centred idiocy. I hope.

What I will do during the course of these currently virginal pages is this:

– Love
– Hate
– Discuss
– Explore…

… And generally have the balls to express my own opinions on the world around me in all it’s vile and illogical glory.

I hereby declare, from this moment fourth, my innermost thoughts at your scrutiny.

Be ruthless. It’s just more fun that way.