Sunday, September 22, 2019

Everyday Sexism

It's difficult to understand how some men - in this particular case, waiters and taxi drivers in Portuguese resorts along The Algarve -  can come to the conclusion that women who by the simple virtue of lunching or travelling alone (the audacity!) or with a child, are fair game.  I can only assume these fellas are a few Portuguese Tarts short of a bakery. Most of them look like Pinocchio's dad.  Not to blow my own trumpet, but I'm still in very good fucking shape.

I don't need to settle for Pinocchio's dad
I would start by asking these men whether they have actually checked in with themselves (never mind with their wives...)  on the way out to work. First off, let's start by explaining as respectfully as is deserved, that a woman dining alone is not the signal for Open Season.  We're dining alone - we're not standing in a a window of a brothel.  And they all deserved the short shrift received.  What really got me was the fact they thought they could overstep the boundaries of decency in front of my 13 year old daughter.  Lucky for them that she was there or I might have been inclined to punch them in the triple chin area and shove their moronic grandpa faces into a plate of sizzling sardines.  Don't think I wouldn't do it.  I would.

This was my experience, not once but three times in Portugal this year.  I've been happily divorced now for 5 years and in a new relationship for 2 and a half, but I do like to take one holiday a year with my daughter from this first marriage. Yet without fail, every single day of this and past similar holidays have been lessons in the art of male chauvinistic intimidation.  First the inappropriate questions, then the 'free' aperitifs or what has become commonly known as grooming, and then the space invasion. It was pathetic. Beer bellies the size of ballast on a cruise ships shoved into my face as I tired to read the menu, they really do need to get real.

And I did have to tell each and every one.  Subtlety was wasted on these guys, I had to be quite acerbic.  Without exception each reject would stomp off in outraged affront.  Two refused to serve me and one resorted to cantankerously sliding the plates of food at me and my daughter.  I cancelled the meal and left without paying.  And no-one tried to argue the case because they were all complicit. 

I might be of a certain age and I might be a divorcee but I don't have to silently put up with this type of harassment and I don't.

I'm not happy my daughter had to witness these invasions  of privacy and person but at least she now knows that if attention is not invited, if it makes her feel uncomfortable, then it's simply not welcome and frankly these deviants should and can fuck right off.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

People watching is the only reason I will travel these days

I'm always so surprised to see how long it's taken me between posts.. I really shouldn't be. And I always feel the need to apologise, quickly followed by a wry comment usually alluding to why it hardly matters.  It's not like the Government is relying on an update from me to set the treasury forecast (*see?*). And let's also be honest - I'm the only reader of this blog.  I'm a reader - writer, like a singer-songwriter minus the singing and the song.

Anyway, I'm in Indianapolis today - the airport to be exact.  I'm (hopefully) on my way back to Blightey, though I have to admit, it's looking worryingly foggy out there.  I can only hope that this is 'normal' for airlines and pilots in the Mid-West.  I came over for work.  I've seen the airport terminal, the highway, the inside of my hotel, the road I cross to get to the office and the inside of the office.  And this morning I did that sight seeing tour in reverse.

So here I am 4 hours early to catch a domestic flight into Atlanta where the real journey so to speak begins.  I refer to the knicker soiling part of any travel for me, the long haul in a supersonic jet that somehow gets 35,000 feet up in the air with a bunch of fat bastards on it.  It's 10:38 am and that flight isn't until this evening...but I have set a timer alerting me to when it will ' no longer be too early to drink alcohol' in order to begin anaesthetising.

A glass of bubbly is the usual tipple for I'm good to go.  Hard spirits can kick in at midday when it's more publicly acceptable, and then after that basically anything and everything goes.  I'm looking for that comfortably numb feeling when I won't care if Snoopy dressed as The Red Baron clambers onboard and takes his seat in the cockpit.

Cabin crew to cross check

I've never been the best traveller - truth be told and as I've aged, I've picked up as unpleasant a harpy as I've become, that inconsiderate mistress - anxiety.  Apparently this can be a side effect of menopause.  Brilliant.

Here's how it manifested this time round.  A few months in advance of this trip, I had a will drawn up, as in a Last Will and Testament type thing-a-ma-gig.  I called all my pensions and updated the beneficiary to my daughter and I told my best friend where I keep my best trinkets to ensure that should anything happen to me - The Lish is to get everything.  And most importantly my ex -husband is not to get a single bean.

So as you can see, perfectly rational behaviour.  I also had to ask my boyfriend if he would take the cat.  He is more of a dog person.  It's a big ask.  He said yes.  Which is nice.

I think I might need help.

Getting to the point of today's post.  People are weird eh?  I've just watched 2 portly Americans wipe each other's trousers down with wet wipes.  Presumably they are too fat to bend down far enough to do their own.  Actually that's quite ingenious.

Anyhoo, should a year go by and this blog remain without update, then the plane has gone down and I did the right thing.
A picture to remember me by

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018 – Twenty Schmeighteen

Well I’ll be damned if this wasn’t the year of Meh and Blah.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Meh and Blah over high drama any day of the week but god almighty if it isn’t the most mind-numbing tedium.  I’m wracking my brain for highlights.  One is clear I suppose: landing the new job.  That wasn’t blah at all, that was a real joy to secure and continues to be a source of wonder.  I’m learning, at once and on a daily basis, how to and how not to do things.  It will stand me in good stead.  On a personal level, I can only keep thanking the universe for another year watching my daughter mature and develop.  She’s healthy and for the most part happy though she is as big a beastie as ever. 

I also continue to be with my beau – the chef.  That has to make the list too.  Outside of that, I can’t say it’s been anything but a totally dishevelled anorak of a year.  Including having the most pernicious of allegations made against me by a neighbour that landed me in trouble with the police.  I’ve since developed deep misgivings about The Force who has itself displayed terrifying levels of incompetence throughout. The fight for justice continues and is a story for another day.

It has felt almost as if society has given up on itself this year too.  Between the constant bickering over Brexit to a general lack of enthusiasm all round for seasonal events, I have to say, I’m not going to miss this year at all.  And yet, I can imagine the moment things get tough again, I’ll be harking back to the days of bore.

Look we can’t complain about Summer – we had a bewildering run of luck there.  For that first month people were giddy, but London isn’t built for hot weather and if you weren’t on an endless break or living in a mansion with a pool and aircon, by the time June rolled around, the heat had started feeling more like an endurance.   Public transport was pestilent and the simple act of sitting at home was pure torment.  When the temperatures finally dropped, we entered monsoon mode overnight.   

Then there was the Football World Cup.  Whatevs.

Halloween comes along like a teenager turning up for an early shift at McDonalds.  I don’t remember a year where it took so long for the high street to catch up, with most shops only putting up their decks about 3 to 4 days in advance.  And don’t mention Bonfire Night.  Where have all the ‘Penny for the Guys” gone?  I didn’t see a single one.  Then a week later the UK Government passes regulation banning sales of fireworks to teenagers and the sad thing is, that it doesn’t faze me. This is what we have become.  We cannot be trusted anymore. 

So I wasn’t holding out for huge spikes in levels of enthusiasm around Christmas.  My local high street hasn’t even bothered putting lights up.  So there’s that.  The Lish and I got it into our heads that it would make a welcome change this year to deviate from the traditional green tree and instead planned for an Edward Scissorhands look.  

Like this:

Here’s our one.  
We hated it.  

Already a year that feels like Christmas came by default, we couldn’t justify aiding and abetting with a tree we both loathed.  So we took it down and it’s back to green.  

It’s better, but it still doesn’t feel like Christmases past.

So I’ll put it down to Brexit – why not? Everything else that missed the mark this year has been attributed to it.

Look, 2018 was a damp squib, 2019 only has to get out of bed to make it a better year…so here goes: Merry Christmas one and all and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2018


A few nights ago, I watched this extraordinary documentary - 'The Art of Drumming" - on Sky Arts.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say, it gathered some of the greatest drummers on the planet to discuss their individual journeys to drum virtuosity.  It caught me by surprise and what a great midweek, post summer treat it turned out to be.

I was lolling on the sofa, feeling a bit sorry for myself as I've had a spot of trouble with the police, not intentional I hasten to add. And I'd had an argument with my daughter over her general attitude which had led to my boyfriend upping sticks for the evening having decided it was best he leave us to it.  He has since come back into the fray...more fool him!

I was basically letting 1st world problems get the better of me.  Turning things over and over and over in my mind willing myself to just go to sleep, per chance to dream when a face that I recognised as being that of Ginger Baker, the drummer for Cream and Blind Faith appears, like an earthly angel on the telly.

The next hour felt like a minute.  I was totally engrossed when maestro followed maestro with tales of brave Ulysses.  Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Clem Burke (Blondie), Steve Gadd (everyone from Chick Corea to Kate Bush), Bernard Purdie (BB King, James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie), Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown), Drummie Zeb (Aswad), Earl Palmer (Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys) name but a few all explained not only how it all began for them but how each of today's famous beats came about.
No hope in hell of ever getting this right

All musicians remember the song that made them want to pick up an instrument or sing.  I thought about that...because I 'play' the drums, I mean compared to these deities, I don't actually come even close to what you might describe as playing the drums, but I have a drum kit and I bash the skins with technically I play them, very un-technically.

It got me thinking.  I've been a geek all my life but a total music nerd only really from the age of about 15.  I took a stroll down disco street to hip-hop road, through the cul-de-sac of punk to the dead end of cock rock.  With emancipation (of sorts) I woke up one day firmly moved into riot grrlll squat of grunge and when I finally stopped being angry, I sat back and let it all go to Blues. 

Blues of course led to good rock for me (and funk and perhaps even a little jazz) but classic good rock became the hammock on which I settled. I say all this because throughout that journey, I was always more interested in what the drums were doing but it was only when I heard  'My Cat's Name is Maceo" by Jane's Addiction that I picked up the phone, asked my bank for a loan with which to purchase my first set of drums.   I'll admit that song is not John Bonham or Keith Moon intricate nor is it Stevie Wonder Superstition funky but to me it's perfection and it is based on the Bo Diddly beat.  So what's not to love?

Those drums were so precious to me I didn't dare drive them home myself, instead roping in my then very kind boyfriend to give us all a safe lift home.

Never misses a beat

Living in a densely populated area, I had to get electronic drums so as not to drive the neighbours bonkers, not crappy little pads mind -  I got me a set of Roland V8s - and they cost me a pretty penny too.  But I still have and play them today, almost 20 years they have more than paid for themselves and might even be considered vintage today.

Well, anyway, now that I've bored you with that little yarn, I'm off to play 'em.  Thank you Sky Arts for reminding me of my passion.

Still trying

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mrs Big

I'm really important

It appears I've, what d'ya-ma-call-it...made it.  This only dawned on me this past week when I was allowed to make an autonomous decision to go to one of our offices in Germany for the purpose of  making friends and influencing people.  I felt very grown up.  Middle management no more!  I'm upper middle management now if you please...and I don't mind if I do.

Actually, it's a bit like childbirth, this authority thing.  If I'd known in advance how hard it might get, I'd likely not dare try it.  Luckily, I had no idea at all that this role would turn out to be as high powered.  I knew it was a big role - global in scale - but being a multi-linguist type, I've always had these broader scope roles and I was always a cog in a wheel in that sense.  I've never knocked it but today I find myself being more of a crane operator and I don't mind telling you that I totally feel the weight of responsibility.   At the same time, I do understand the reality of my situation which succinctly put could be explained as follows: 'if not now, when?'  

And perhaps truth be told, I just underestimated my previous worth - a common characteristic among female would-be leaders.

I'm under no illusion that as a woman - I've got possibly this and one other 'big' role left in me before I hit an age when employers see me as dead (expensive) wood.  So I'm going to make the most of my time now, because once I hit 58 (tops) I'll be lucky to have a job stacking shelves at a superstore and the worst of it is given today's economic climate, unless I make sure I am mortgage free - I'd better have that job at that superstore.

But of course there is another way.  I'm not banking on winning the lottery - though I do of course play a line every week -  I'm talking about not viewing life as something I have to tackle on my own.  I've talked about how there is life after divorce - I want you all to know, there really is and it is at times and often better than life before divorce though that is not of course to encourage this trajectory if a relationship is after careful deliberation considered retrievable.  It also doesn't mean that you magically erase memories and feelings of what was, what you hoped could have been.  There is no shame in regretting the end of a big love.  I do often and regularly find myself melancholically remembering the good times - wishing there could have been more - knowing in my heart that no-one will ever replace that person and that nothing will ever be the same or have quite the same impact on me but as my guru in the Sivananda Ashram told me:  There is no point in dwelling on sad thoughts.  Think happy thoughts instead.  And you know what, he's absolutely right.

Plus, I'm a big advocate for not sacrificing the good for the great - but should the great come along, grab it with both hands and hold onto it for dear life.

This is my happy thought.  He's lovely and kind and who knows - maybe we can stack shelves together and maybe we won't need to.

Customer Service at HomeBase

In the words of Morrissey:

Good times for a change
See, the luck I've had
Can make a good man
Turn bad
So please, please, please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Treacherous Approach to Retirement

Please like me
I start a new job tomorrow.  Securing this role required every imaginable effort beginning with well-formed narratives (no mean feat when you haven't had to interview in years) to character containment that only appears natural after hitting the very limit of mental and emotional fatigue - before which you just come across as a desperate mentalist.

Job seeking is not a new experience which is why the very thought of it brings with it a lurch deep inside the stomach that I'm sure is designed to ensure you never entertain the idea of changing employment lightly.  At best it's a steep learning curve and at worst it can be terrifically soul destroying but always, without exception, it is most definitely worth it.

As a younger woman I used to enjoy interviewing, excited by possibilities and naive to what amounted to everyday sexism or other forms of prejudice.  As you get older however, you're starkly aware of the gender-based preconceptions that precede you, which can make the undertaking that much more nerve janglingly frustrating.

Countdown to the pension
These days, I feel in many ways that I am at the start of the end of my career runway, gradually taxi-ing towards V1 - the 'commit to fly' speed - when I will eventually lift off towards my last job before I can consider taking it all down a notch and by that I really just mean downsizing everything in my life such that I don't need 'the big job' any more.  Of course I will always want 'a job' but eventually I can see myself being perfectly happy with a shop job for pin money so to speak.  Actually I'd quite like to work in a country pub.

Well, let's just make it to old age first, shall we?

Village Libido
Similarly, I may end up being a lawyer or teacher. Who the heck knows.  I will also of course be living in Dibley with my lover.  I understand the country air and general lack of distraction keeps the libido alive. I'm definitely up for testing that theory out afterall I wouldn't want to end up like Benjamin Britten who when asked if he had any regrets in life stated that he wished he'd 'had more sex'.

I don't...yet...
So my big plan for 2018 is taking shape.  The new job was the first step with a move to the country coming up the inside lane but that is for 'my next trick' and then it seems making sure I take a libidinous paramour.  I've also given some thought to perhaps becoming a wife again however until the idea stops making me feel queasy I imagine it's better to suppress the urge.  In this sense, I'm still of the mind that life is way too short.

However in the life plan sense, there is time for everything.  Here goes nothing!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exploring The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I’ve been meditating a lot recently, meditating with purpose actually.  I suppose most meditation is results-driven being that practitioners are usually seeking some sort of end corollary; Inner peace or release from depression and anxiety – that sort of thing. However here is where my latest practice differs slightly because latterly I’ve been trying to connect with spirit guides. 

Not content with attaining inner peace, I now also want to be able to predict the future.  Call me impatient, or paranoid - when there is uncertainty or change afoot, I seek answers from the other realm especially where none are forthcoming in the material world. 

I tend to do this ‘seeker’ form of meditation on the bus ride into work.  I sit in the same upper deck seat each time and plug into a guided track on Youtube.  I know the twists and turns of the bus now by heart which means I’m able to shut my eyes and totally give myself over to the experience without ever missing my stop (yet) 40 minutes later.  Interestingly no-one ever sits next to me….I can’t imagine why…

How to get a double seat on the bus...
I want to let you all know that I truly believe we all have spirit guides and that we all have the ability to connect to them, if we are so inclined.  We are supremely blessed in this way.  Trouble is (among believers at least), we don’t always catch their guidance because we’re too tied to the material thought.  What to get for dinner? Should I go to the gym? When does the new series of Peaky Blinders begin? Can I afford to have a glass of wine with my thighs and summer around the corner? That sort of thing which messes with the brain’s ability to quieten down enough in order to ‘hear’ specific messages that might be trying to come through.

So these 40 minutes on the bus have been the only time that thighs and Peaky Blinders are pushed to the side long enough to have any meaningful connection to a world beyond easy explanation.  If I told you I’d encountered Jesus & Mary (no chain, ha ha) on separate occasions…would you believe me? Well, I have.  And in answer to some other queries I’ve also encountered animal symbolism represented by a tame horse, an owl and a white wolf.  All brought me the comfort sought and intuitive answers to pressing questions of the time.  For real.  My mother and beloved uncle appeared on another occasion.

The whole experience is slightly beyond description.  It left me with a knowing.  A feeling of wellbeing, confidence and power.  I know this new beginning that I seek is coming now and that it will be magnificent.  I guess, in the words of Tom Petty – the waiting is the hardest part.  No spirit guide can speed that up unfortunately.

I know I’m being cryptic but I can’t quite say at the moment what it is that I am seeking.  I only want to say that I now know it will soon come to pass and when it does, I will explain everything.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to report that thanks to the selflessness of ‘The Barber of Manchester’ from the previous post, I’ve found the motivation to kick off a weekly yoga night for my friends and have re-started giving classes at a friend’s spacious home; classes I used to run without fail a few years ago but that had with one thing and another slowly evaporated into a steam of excuses.  But no more.

Head stand prep provokes painful palm protrusions