Monday, 31 December 2007

resolution revolution

Every year I make them and every year I break them, so, now I'm forty I'm giving up giving up. It's pointless. Worse than that, promising to deny myself in all sorts of ways just makes me feel bad and inspires bouts of senseless eating to make myself feel better. Maturity is a great thing, don't you think?

We were sitting with friends yesterday discussing getting older. The gentleman in the party were very sensible about the whole thing, deciding that worrying about getting older is a silly thing to do and we should all just get on with it.

I came to the conclusion that there are advantages of getting a little older. Firstly, see the above paragraph. You can simply refuse to do stuff you don't want to. Secondly, and I see this as a great advantage, the older you get, the easier it is to behave badly because expectations of you are higher and much more specific. Therefore you can get the same feelings of thrilldom that were experienced in headier more youthful times by doing things like not cleaning your windows or giving people non-bone-china cups when they come for tea or, heavens, serving instant coffee in a mug! Believe me, this works. A slight subversion of daily social requirements can be quite exhilarating especially for viewers of Cranford and other BBC (NOT ITV) period dramas.

Christmas is over so I want to take the tree down. I am meeting some resistance to this plan from G and the beloved offspring. If I was in charge, the tree would be removed today, New Year's Eve to at least give the impression of clear, clutter free minimalism. However, as I am not in charge, merely the staff, I must resign myself to a few more days of sparkly trinkets and wonkily displayed Christmas cards.

To counteract this lack of control, I am going to do some gardening instead. I don't think I've gone further than the edge of the patio for a couple of months. I look at the dreary, weeded square from the kitchen and just can't bear to tackle it. I went through a phase of loving gardening, watching Monty Don, dreaming of herbaceous borders but I just see it all as potential compost now. I can't think what changed. I shall ponder.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Fog, frost and festivities

It's cold, really cold. Foggy, really foggy. We've all been at home since Friday and we are all still alive. The fridge is rammed, the cupboard is full and my lists of when, where and what to stuff is growing longer. It's still 2 whole days to Christmas.

The final of Strictly was marvellous and the outcome well-deserved for the gorgeous Alesha. We've developed a bit of a tradition with our favourite family and watch as many of the heats together in a heap on our respective sofas, eating too many peanuts and debating which celeb has the prettiest frock. Who needs to go out on a Saturday night?

I am going to sort out my piles today. We were considering a last-minute shopping trip but it's too foggy and too cold. So the piles are going to get it. I wondered about setting up a blog about piles and inviting people to email their piles as a record of our temporary attempts to rationalise our lives. There's a blog about to-do lists that's become a book. It sounds a wheeze.

I've bought enough food to sustain a small army but it only consists of Christmas food. Our diet over the next few days will consist of sprouts, carrots and pringles with dips. I worry for our constitutions.

Q: How does Jack Frost get to work
A: By icicle

Boom boom!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Bonjour mes amis

It's amazing what 4 late nights, a vat of red wine and some salsa clubbing can do for a girl. Not to mention, ladles and oodles and rooms full of art. Lacroix was divine. The old masters were fab and the conceptual installations were splendiforous. I behaved like a proper art student and drew stuff in galleries. I learned that I draw like Giacometti and that I can't be doing with figurative sculpture no matter how old or chipped it is.

I love Paris and one day we will live there, just for a while, in a tiny apartment before we have to invest in zimmer frames and bunion pads. I'm thinking six months of art and culture followed by a month in the French alps and the spring/summer on the coast somewhere on the Mediterranean. I'll probably have to wait until I'm in my fifties but it's one thing I'd like to promise myself. How difficult could that be?

I got back Friday and we had a quiet, pottering weekend, back to college today and tomorrow and then, that's it, Christmas is upon us. I haven't written a card so am now going to guiltily go through the piles and work out who I need to send them to. What I hope to do is email festive greetings and then make a donation to the young carers charity instead of spending hours licking stamps and contributing to deforestation. The tree is up - with coloured, sparkly lights no less and we are all a glitter in the country this year....no sparkly reindeer outside yet. Though there are still a few days to go.

Ho ho ho.....

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

It's been a week and a bit

Human League were very entertaining....Phil Oakey was as bald as G and the ladies were fabulous. It was a historic event with a full run through of 'Dare' followed by a few of their later hits. A good night. This weekend we're off to see Hard-Fi which I suspect will be just as good with a younger, perhaps wilder crowd!

Well - what's been happening...Christmas shopping, obviously. I took a painful trip to Cribbs last week. I'm at that tricky stage where I know I've got most things but haven't actually worked out what I'm missing, thereby likely to have a wee festive panic when I get back from Paris (yes, did I mention Paris!).

College has been a write-off this week as I'm sort of sick a bit. Not sick enough to lie down but sick enough to be dizzy and pathetic. Also, J has done something to his leg so can't walk so we're spending lots of lovely days in the house, watching the rain, making lists, losing lists.

I'm teetering on the edge of a green Christmas. I've bought recycled wrapping paper and am determined to reduce my pointless Christmas card sending list and use the cash to send a beehive to Kazakhstan or somewhere a bit grimmer than Wiltshire. I know I'll end up sounding like a pompous old greeny but I just don't see the point of giving Christmas cards to friends I see every day. I'd rather make them a nice cup of tea, give them a bun and have a natter. And don't start me on Christmas cards at school....bah humbug, deck the halls with boughs of green matter, that's what I say!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Don't you want me....

The day before we retro-power it back to see the Human League! How many years can it be since they warbled their way into the charts? What to wear? Hope they're good, I've organised the trip. We shall see.

E's team finally won a football match this morning, I'm expecting great jubilation this afternoon. They haven't won a game so far so this is a new and exciting development.

I have much art to do today. I've done some work and sent off my practice hints. I live in hope that they'll be up to scratch.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

it's only taken 4 months

I've had a wee google and if you type in 'projectforty' my blog appears. Weird that. Anyway. Other stuff appears and I think I've been webtagged - I have no idea what that means. A random act of nonsense I suspect. I also wikied 1967 and found a link with all the things what ever happened in the year of my (and possibly your birth). Have a look

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967

Also found an old guardian article '40 things about being 40' so that might be a longish post one day.

I also feel I'm digressing quite a lot from the initial brief of the project. No matter how much I'm enjoying myself, I feel there must be a plan, a goal. Back to the drawing board. Suggestions please.

A change is as good as a rest

As I'm a woman who knows her own mind, who's autonomy cannot be challenged. I've changed the font back to what it was because one of my favourite commentors didn't like it! I will, of course, stand firm on all other issues and be resolved, resolved, resolved.

Today I knitted. My dear friend H taught me to knit in Fair Isle. It was a process that I've always been worried by and found it surprisingly easy. I now possess an unworkably shaped ipod/phone sleeping bag but it has a very fetching checquer-board front and a rather natty diagonal stripe along the back. It kept me quiet for hours while my other friend J made bracelets. We were a proper little craft-circle.

I've just ordered a whizzy sewing machine, well, I think I have. It's part of my birthday present from my parents. A bag and a sewing machine. I now feel properly equipped as a 40-year-old woman. My sewing machine will do 265 stitches and comes with free scissors and a yearly free service for 15 years at which point I'll be 55 and won't be able to see what I'm sewing. The servicing costs about £80 per year, so, according to my accounting methods, I'm getting the sewing machine free, 3 times over! Not bad. In theory. I'm never quite convinced about ordering stuff online or over the phone. I'm never 100% sure it will appear.

I have a busy day tomorrow, early coffee, a fete meeting (yes, in November), a trip to Cirencester for work and pleasure and home for the weekend which, so far, doesn't appear to have too much sport programmed into it. I live in hope every 7 days....how did I end up with sporty children?

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Font...

I changed it, not sure what I think about it. Might change it back.

in the deep mid...

It's 5 past 4 and it's dark. Dark and wet and cold. I like it. Very few things give me as much pleasure as weather-inspired houseboundery. The trick is to embrace the gloom and make your choice - stuff global warming and switch on every light in the house, or go the Jane Austen route and light candles, moving them with you as you walk from room to room.

Obviously, this is all very well if you have the choice. I watched the new BBC Sunday drama 'Cranford' and they sat in the evenings with 2 candles, 1 of which was left unlit to save on the use of wick. No wonder things moved apace on the invention of electricity. The population was in bed, bored stiff by 4.30pm on a winter's night. I bet that wore out the bed springs. What else would there have been to do? No Nintendo brain training or bad books to read. Oh, no. Just cold darkness and possibly a similarly freezing cold body next to you.

I went to college today and did some more silk painting. It's a very relaxing occupation but I can't make it look how I want it to look. It's too twee and dainty for my liking and whatever subject or pattern you use everything looks as if it should be in one of those shops that stink of patchouli and sell felted purple boottees. All a bit Glastonbury in my opinion.

I tried though - I managed an acid shaded target and attempted to quilt another design. It's quite good for my map/landmark project but I think it needs to be worked over using some other media. Get me, I sound like an art student.

I do feel, however, that all this visual art is distracting me from what little writing I ever did. It's time to rationalise. I have been warned astrologically twice this weekend. Something must be done.

Monday, 19 November 2007

am getting back in the swing of things

E's birthday and all has gone well. She's delighted with her presents and happy to be 7. We had to have fish fingers, peas, carrots and mash for tea, as chosen by the birthday girl. So sophisticated.

Her party went well. The entertainer, like my DJ was very assertive and told us exactly when to prepare party tea, when to bring out the cake, when to take photos. It's quite strange to be told what to do by a man carrying a raccoon. All went well though and I don't think we had any tears.

It's been raining all day and it's still raining now. That's what Wiltshire's like. Once the rain comes it stays for days and everything looks drabber and soggier by the hour.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

a whole week

The blogging is taking a back seat. And, true to my statement, that other peoples' dreams are the only slightly less interesting thing than other peoples' statements of busyness, I won't go on about why too much. Suffice to say that blogging has slipped down the list whilst other activities (and people) demand more attention.

I'm going to have to be quick as the new BBC Sunday night drama is starting and I need a little Farrow & Ball, costume entertainment to finish off the week.

It's E's birthday tomorrow so G is hastily wrapping her presents - the usual mix of supremely bipolar, male/female articles. She had her party yesterday and her father got to kiss a raccoon's bottom. If only I had the technology to put pictures on my blog - you, too, would roar with laughter.

I will, I will, I will blog more often.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

phew

My dear friend S has been in hospital and this week has been full of worries. She's now at home and, I hope, has fewer worries. I do. We've had a few weeks of bad, sad news from all sorts of places and it's made me feel very appreciative of the fact that, touch wood, I haven't had any of my own for a while and that everyone close to me is safe.

On the flip side of my deep and meaningfuls is the growing conviction that my life has become a pile. I have too much stuff. I've become a compulsive hoarder of books, magazines, fabric (yes, god, I must be 40) and projects. Too many things to look at and not enough time to look at them. There are whole areas of my existence that I just don't even see anymore because I can't. I can't bear to look at where I'm most failing - the garden being just one rather large reminder of my uselessness.

I've made the lists, I've tried to be more focused but I just can't. I'm never going to get the time to sort myself out. Life just doesn't happen like that for me. I'm going to have to try another tactic and carve out sections of the day.

I often wonder how important people with important jobs get through the day. I was rushing around on Friday wondering when exactly I was going to have time to buy some bananas when the governor of the Bank of England came on talking about the Northern Rock crisis and how he had to organise all that whilst deciding on what the interest rate was going to be. Thank God there are people like that prepared to do jobs like that. I'm glad there are other, more super, human beings who are happy to take all those big responsibilities. I don't care how much they get paid.

Thank God Matt went through on Strictly.

What will they make Letitia Dean wear next?

Why is Brendan watisname so irritating?

Is anyone else a secret Anton de Beck fan, or is it just me?

Thursday, 8 November 2007

bienvenu

The momentum of projectforty must continue. I've made progress but not enough. I have come to this conclusion as I am going to Paris on a college study trip in mid-December. I need to sort myself out and make myself chic-worthy and presentable enough to stroll around the city.

Yesterday, I looked in what I used to call my wardrobe but now refer to as the bargain bin. There are a few things I like and wear and fit but goodness, gracious, Galliano there's some hideous stuff in there. I still have a jacket I bought in Kathmandu, 14/15 years ago. I like the fabric, it's a bit retro and a bit graphic but it's the boxiest, squarest jacket I've ever seen. There is also a plaid shirt I bought in New Zealand which is scratchy, itchy and has sleeves that hint at bingo wings the size of the South Island. Not good.

I planned to go shopping today but I don't know what I want and the house is a tip so my mission this morning is to get organised, download some software I need for work and make a few lists.

More lists.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

a new era

R has made the broadband work. I am now wireless. I am listening to a podcast of Malcolm Maclaren talking about The New Look designed by Dior. I am speeding through the ether at a speed I never thought possible.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Not that R will read this as he thinks having a blog is tragic. Maybe he's right but I don't care because it's now happening 70 million times faster than I thought it was going to.

Excellent fireworks last night too. College tomorrow. All is well.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

bang

I love bonfire night. Yes, I know, it's 3rd not 5th but tonight's the night the local pyrotechnicians get their high visibility jackets on and terrify the local wildlife whilst delighting middle-aged firework junkies like myself.

I've always loved a nice display. I used to drag G to the bonfire on Blackheath every year, without fail, even the year we had a 4 week old baby to deal with. It was an obsession.

There has been an unfortunate devlopment over the last few years of having fireworks in the garden. This seems to me to be anti-social and always a little bit of a let-down, you just can't go 'oooh' over a catherine wheel nailed to the slide. It's not the same as huge spider lights flying around in the deep blue sky. And, anyway, I had fireworks for my birthday and very good they were too. So, we're off to one of the nearby villages to work on our chillblains and say 'aahhh'.

My broadband issues have not been resolved. My very good friend R spent halloween talking me through the process very slowly over the phone. I think he might actually come over and help me tomorrow although I daren't phone as I know I must have been very annoying and if you're an IT whizz, the last thing you need when you're home from working on some swanky programme is to spend the evening talking to a luddite like me. I only like computers if they do what they say they're going to. It's the same way I've always felt about men.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

boo!

Halloween has arrived. We had a little impromptu apple bobbing last night while the kids were getting their haircut. Who needs playstations? A bowl of water and some windfalls kept 6 kids occupied for about an hour. I managed not to burn the sausages and found some chocolate covered apples in asda for 40p each - bargain.

I have mixed feelings about halloween particularly as my son has been invited to join a merry gang of trick or treaters this evening. It's all very American and I think it's begging and what's worse, begging dressed like a mini-goth. I'd much rather they all sat in our garden and terrified each other in the dark instead of mooching about in the line of cars containing tired commuters. I shall see how the land lies this afternoon.

In the meantime I'm just about to sort out my wireless connection to broadband. Yes, I am the only woman in England still on dial-up and yes, it annoys me and yes, I've tried to sort it out before. It's my technological equivalent of ropey cuticles. I see it every day and every day I put up with it and every day I ignore it. Just think how chirpy I'm going to be if it works. More likely, I suspect, it won't and I will be distinctly unchirpy.

I'm back at college today too but only for this afternoon. I'm looking forward to actually working up a project and have had ideas flitting through my head for the last fortnight. What I need to do now is put those ideas on paper and preferably not looking like a scrapbook. I'm intrigued to find out what the course will be like now we've done our taster sessions.

I also did a wee walk this morning. Since my birthday, the pounds have started to creep back on again. As the house is stuffed full of wine, chocolate, cheese and nuts I am trying to be lenient on myself. Unfortunately this leniency is quickly descending into pound gathering. It must stop. So - herbal tea this morning and a 30 minute stomp. A good step.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

40 + 1

It's a week since the day after my party. It's windy, wet and wild out there, J's watching 'Match of the Day', G & E are still snoring and I'm enjoying a bit of herbal tea and the peace and quiet of this Sunday morning.

Last weekend was crisp, bright and sunny. My birthday is often like that. It was like that on our wedding day and I roasted in my cream wool suit.

So - projectforty? Now I am forty, do I carry on? I think so. I think the format will change a little. A project review is required to see how I measured up and I think some sustainability issues will have to be examined. It would be good to continue with the weight loss strategy, particularly in the run up to Christmas and the college trip to Paris. I might not be allowed to leave my room if I don't look suitably groomed.

I've been to Paris several times, the last time on honeymoon. I noticed, even then, that the levels of feminine grooming were phenomenal. I'm sure this does not extend to the suburbs but the city of Paris demands a level of beauty and perfection of its inhabitants, however temporary. I'm planning, if all else fails, to hide behind my handbag and hope that its status protects me. I will also need a proper coat, clean shoes and make up every day. I read once that it's a woman's responsibility to present herself in a way that does not offend others, especially as she ages.

With the new projectforty in mind. Here is my first rant. Yesterday I read of a man who, instead of helping a woman, abused her in the street in a way I can't bring myself to describe. The woman died after he'd gone inside to get ready for a night out. The paper said he was imprisoned for three years. Now I'm forty, I can write - what is the world coming to? How can I live in a country where people behave like that? How can I sit in my comfy chair, planning where I'm going for my next holiday and what my kids will get for Christmas when some woman has died because some s*&t for brains b&*"tard doesn't know humanity from his elbow? I just don't get it.

Friday, 26 October 2007

10 reasons I love my new handbag

- I could buy it (thanks to my parents’ generosity)
- It’s from Paul Smith (favourite British designer)
- It’s beautifully soft
- It has those little buttons on the base like proper handbags do
- It isn’t from Asda, Tesco, New Look or Marks & Spencer
- It’s shiny
- It’s made in England (fabulous carbon footprint – darling)
- It came in a wonderful Paul Smith carrier bag
- The sales lady was very pleasant
- It looks like a proper handbag

I never knew there were so many handbags in the world. We visited Liberty, Selfridges AND John Lewis during the quest. Liberty has to be the most beautiful shop. I’m obviously lacking in retail opportunities as I felt myself gasp in some of the rooms at the sheer number of gorgeous clothes and objects. The vintage section contained some of the most exquisite beaded frocks I’ve only ever seen in magazines. I would love to work there – just for a week or two. I expect it’s hard on the feet.

Selfridges was just as how I remember it – full of glitz and sharp. I’ve never really enjoyed Selfridges as much as Liberty, or even Harrods which I enjoy just because it’s Harrods.

So – I have the handbag. The bling is next. We tried to go back to the jewellers who made our wedding rings. Love ‘em , they were useless. This is the marital birthday present – a ring. This quest is likely to last quite a bit longer than the one for the handbag. Be warned.

I have felt a little deflated after last week’s excitements. I suppose that’s why people who have parties continue to have them. I’m enjoying being back home though and looking at all the wonderful parcels and presents and flowers that arrived. I’m a very lucky fortysomething.

We have another party lined up already though – E’s. A joint Harry Potter party with one of her best friends from school. I’ve already bought the broomsticks. Asda’s very good for those.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

done and dusted - Part I

What a laugh! The birthday, the party, the trip - all done. I've had a ball and been thoroughly spoilt. The preparations for the rugby took five men eight hours on the Saturday. Everything else was sorted by Jill & I in about four. The DJ was a paragon of assertiveness - he wouldn't go on the stage, he played three of my favourite forty tracks and refused to turn off the novelty crap he insisted on playing that I'd asked him not to. Everyone else thought he was marvellous. I'm never booking him again.

We had a little dance, a little sing and didn't eat enough cheese. We came home with 4 lumps of stilton, all the lancashire and three quarters of a whole brie. I spent most of Sunday persuading family members to take some of it with them.

I received wonderful, thoughtful presents from so many people and have a two page long list of thank yous to write. I was overwhelmed with friends' and family's generosity and am looking forward to enjoying them - especially the pooping penguin so carefully chosen by B.

There were fireworks and a cake and sort of speeches by G and at one point everyone seemed to be dancing.

A good night.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Let's get this party started....

Insomnia strikes but that's OK. I'm enjoying making a list for later. Everyone is starting to arrive and I had a wonderful day yesterday. College was fine - almost inspiring. We also found out more about the Paris trip. The only drawback? Sharing rooms. I am going to pay a supplement to sleep by myself. I can't spend a week waking up every night. That won't do at all. Anyway it's 10 - 15 December which means I've got a few extra weeks to get Paris-skinny.

Our timetable is also more structured which means I can plan some 40-something (there, I said it) exercise in. I could go on a toning table or perhaps get myself one of those bendy knee things to challenge my thighs. I'll have to have a look in the Sunday supplements tomorrow.

My saintlike and stoic approach to the other thing that's happening tonight is definitely wearing off. I think it's because more 'men who watch rugby' have arrived and their armchair sport bonding has begun. I thought I better make the effort to try and feel something about the rugby, maybe even form an opinion on it but I just couldn't. I have no idea who is in our team, I keep having to remind myself who we're playing, it just leaves me numb. The only reason I hope we win is so that the gentlemen at my party don't sulk afterwards. I think they might dance more if JW does his foot thing. But then if they win, I imagine there'll be lots of burly bear hugging and singing. It's a worry.

Thank you, dear posters, for posting. In answer to the nagging query, I don't nag according to an article I read because I don't make my husband lists and I don't repeat any request within fifteen minutes. I just take umbrage and sulk if I don't get my own way immediately - it works for us!

Did I mention it was our wedding anniversary yesterday too? 12 years. Silk and satin. I gave G a lino print that I'd done during my course and he gave me a saucy little halterneck number. Not sure the shoulders are up to that but I'll give it a whirl!

If you're not coming to my party, I expect you to at least, find a copy of 'Dancing Queen' and pop it on your stereo for a quick dance later today. Get your groove on....

Friday, 19 October 2007

I’ve made it….

I’m 40. The clock has moved around a gazillion times since I popped out at the Firs Maternity Home and I’m 40. I hate to say it but I feel fab! I wanted a wee mid-life crisis. Maybe if you’re reading this, you think I’m having one but I’ve enjoyed my peri-fortiness.

Of course, my woollyback pessimism won’t allow me to think it will be all plain sailing. There is bound to be an episode of woefulness. Perhaps it will come when I’ve run out of lists. Perhaps lists are the secret to happiness.

I’ve actually started making lists of things I have done instead of things I need to do and it’s amazing how it’s shifted my perception of ‘stuff’. I see that I’ve achieved things instead of looking at a list of uncompleted tasks, delving into the doldrums of too-busy-ness and then somehow losing the list.

Writing a list of the day’s bits and pieces, completed, is a positive way to end the day instead of making another list of stuff for tomorrow.

I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone and having my family around me over the next few days. I’m especially looking forward to accidentally snipping the plug off the telly at about 7.45pm tomorrow night.

I now have a room full of pretzels and nuts and olives – oh my! Tesco kindly brought my party at about 10.30pm last night.

I had a wonderful time in London yesterday. The couture exhibition at the V&A was amazing and I’m going to do some research on the couture houses during the second world war. A few of them started during the devastation and drama then. They also did a weird fashion dolly exhibition in the late 1940s which I’d like to look into.

I bought loads in the V&A shop, including a Christmas tree with baubles already attached, and then went to stroke handbags in Harrods. I think I’m going to go for Mulberry but can’t decide to be sensible and go for classic shapes or this season with a purple patent number. What a decision to have to take. I also saw Martine McCutcheon, twittering about losing a map or something. Handbags and celebs....

So, anyway – happy birthday to meeheeeeee!!!!!

Projectforty won’t end, I’m enjoying it too much.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

things i should do after tomorrow

- pack away my parka
- put aside dreams about being 'discovered'
- embrace peptides
- watch nature programmes
- sniff about reality TV
- eat handfuls of nuts instead of custard creams
- cleans, tone & moisturise day AND night
- start saying 'i'll just pop round'
- have a proper shoe cleaning box
- tidy the greenhouse, the garage, the recycling room
- keep my car clean
- invest in a mac
- wear jaunty neck scarves
- stop reading unsuitable magazines
- start reading all of the Telegraph, not just the weekend section and the magazine
- recycle my hoodies
- ditto leggings
- start shopping at East, Country Casuals and Phase Eight instead of New Look
- exercise because it's good for my bones, not because it's going to make me thin
- make sure I make my next hair appointment straight away
- start nagging my husband
- embarass my children more often
- start saying 'terrific' and 'you are a card' and 'where are my tenaladypants'

Got to go. Need to get to college.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

why i love johnny wilkinson

- he's rather handsome
- he doesn't wear one of those silly hats when he plays rugby
- he's blonde
- he looks good in Hackett and that takes some doing
- he's going to inspire me to sing my best karaoke ever between the hours of 8 and 10pm on Saturday
- he has a mostly symmetrical face
- my son worships him
- he seems like a nice young man

48 hours of 30-ness left

I'm embracing spirituality now I'm nearly 40. The rugby situation is teaching me tolerance. My timely hacking cough and voice loss is teaching me humility. My escalating credit card bill is teaching me mathematics and through all this I am accepting my passage through the space continuum.

Ha! Got you! I've lost a stone, a stone, a stone. What's this taught me? I thought losing a bit of weight would be fantastic but it isn't, I just feel less fat. I don't look like Kristin Scott Thomas after all. I bet she probably wants curly hair just like me anyway. I'm pleased, however, that I've taken a stone off rather than put one on which is what usually happens when I go on a health and fitness campaign.

In relation to 40-grooming. Eyebrows? Tick. Hair? Tick. Cuticles? Not a tick in sight. I just don't have the time unless I go today and if I go today it's very unlikely it will last until Thursday, nevermind Saturday. A bit of clear polish and a shuzz with the emery board will sort them.

I had a long chat with the DJ for my party yesterday. He was most impressed with my list of sad-old-lady songs and started talking about how he'd been doing this 6 days a week for the last 15 years. I had exactly the same chat with a DJ a couple of weeks ago. What is it about them?

I also had my assessment for college on Monday. I missed all last week which was making me re-dream 'why I left college last time' dreams. Luckily I took most of my stuff with me first thing Monday morning and found out my slot was at noon. I've been gently persuaded to keep textiles within my project but not its entire focus. Apparently I have some facility with fine art. That's news to me although I had a great time making my first attempts.

So...after having a short discussion about how the briefing for the project at 10am ON MY BIRTHDAY was more important than cuticles (see above), I've got to go in on Friday to have my studio space allocated -studio space (!) - and me, from Wigan. I'm not sure the head of art had discussed whether a student's 40th birthday manicure treat should take precedence over his course before. It wasn't my best move - but he laughed.

Thursday I'm off to London on a study trip. I've worked out that I could potentially get 5 hours shut-eye on the coach. I'm praying for a proper coach not a mini-bus. I don't think I could cope with arriving at the Dior exhibition at the V&A in a mini-bus from Swindon. I might have to get off at the tube station and walk. We're also going to the RA so I'm praying for a wee diversion up to Liberty to have a little stroke of the handbags. G's delighted as I won't have to make him follow me around an exhibition of sticky out skirts next week.

He came home with a massive new telly yesterday. I think sales might be up this week. Come on Engerland!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

rugger b*gger, they're through

Since blogging on Thursday I've listened to a brass band, made smoothies, sorted felt, visited the theatre, had a pizza and a curry in the same day, got a little squiffy, stood on a football touch line and cleaned the house. I've also learned that England are through to the Rugby World Cup.

Why is this significant, you may ask? Well, the final of said inconsequential tournament just happens to start at the same time as my party. This is not good news. I am expecting 40 or so gentleman at my party. That means there will be 40 or so grumbling, resistant gentleman at my party if I don't arrange something so that they can watch the final. It also means that there will be 40 or so stressed friends of the female persuasion, telling off their partners because I've decided, somewhat ridiculously it seems, to celebrate my birthday on such a momentous and masculine occasion.

I have decided to remain stoic about this. G will organise a television and there is a separate room at the hall where it can be installed and half of the people coming to my party are welcome to watch it while drinking and doing whatever they do when they watch it. Thinking about it, this will result in greater capacity for dancing around handbags and potentially a little bit of stupendously diva-like karaoke.

The eyebrows have been plucked and their hair has been 'done'. The nibbles are ordered and the wine is being delivered tomorrow night. Progress is being made on all fronts. I just can't believe that by this time next week, it will all be over and I'll be in my pyjamas with a raft of happy memories and sore feet.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

40 - 8 days

Traumatised - moi? I'm up, again, at an unearthly hour. It's OK though, I've done the playlist for my party, tidied the kitchen, sorted out some paperwork and added to my college sketchbooks.

Book club was good last night. There were 7 of us. I ate the most crisps, as usual and drank the most wine, as usual. So much for purity in all things! In my defence, I'm now eating like I used to 20 years ago. Yesterday I had soup at John Lewis (because you have to), a chunk of cheese, a banana and a bowl of cereal at tea time. I managed an apple in the car on the way back from shopping. No wonder the shiraz got straight to the point.

I often wonder if our book club is the same as others. We manage to choose pretty good books between us but it's quite hard to discuss them without swerving off onto tangents. I think it makes us talk about things we wouldn't necessarily discuss as a group without a book in front of us. It's also interesting how we each approach the books and the interpretations we bring to them. There's always lots of nattering - that must be a good sign.

The next book is 'Surviving with Wolves', it's about WWII and that's all I know. I'm trying to finish 'The Art of Keeping Secrets', Eva Rice which I'm enjoying. I'm trying to work out where the house in it is as the main character talks about Westbury and Wootton Bassett quite a lot. It's all very 50s/early 60s with gloves and phonograms and monocles!

Today, I can't go to college as I'm getting my hair done and working, probably in the company of my daughter - again. Panic is now firmly embedded in my mind. Will I get to pursue textiles based on my skimpy sketchbook? Will I be allowed on an overlocker next term? Will I every master applique?

If you're reading this, leave me a comment or two......

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

the needle is out of the haystack

As a perfect mother, I took my coughing daughter shopping this morning. Instead of wrapping her in a duvet and letting her watch cbbc all morning, I dragged her to the mall, all the while watching out for EWOs - the people who take absences from school very seriously. She's been off school 3 days now.

I can do the first day. I called college, told them she was ill, did lots of domesticated nonsense. I managed the second day. I called college, told them she was ill again, did a bit more sorting out, got some work done. Third day? I woke up. I heard the coughs. I felt my eyebrows knit and my feet twitch. I've got a million things to do and I was facing another day in the house. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

We went shopping. Only for a couple of hours. And we bought medicine. That's OK then. I'm off the hook.

I found the frock. Knee length, black and a nice shape with a bit of sparkle around the waistband. Shoes are next on the list. I also got a lovely rollery suitcase - red leather - get me!

Book club tonight. This month, we've mostly been reading 'The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox' - Maggie O'Farrell. It was very Maggie O'Farrell, very understated but satisfying. It had all the things I enjoy reading about but not actually participating in - dysfunctional families, a bit of insanity, tangled up relationships. Just like watching Eastenders really but more with proper words.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

40 - 10 days

I've had the first of the 'ha, ha, you're nearly 40' comments from my beloved brother-in-law. Mmmm. I rose above it, of course.

My daughter and I had a day at home today with sniffles, a hacking cough and the guinea pigs. We spent most of the day looking for a catalogue which seems to be the main source of her birthday presents. We couldn't find it. I keep losing things. And breaking things. G keeps forgetting things. It will be a miracle if we get to the 19th October in one whole piece.

I've realised how many things I've got to do for the party and I haven't got the time to do them. I've also got some work to complete, school stuff to do, an event to organise for Saturday morning and, give me strength, the PTA AGM to run on Thursday. I'm going to do it differently this year. Instead of preparing a list of what we've done, I'm going to ask the people who come along to prepare it at the meeting, partly so they realise what we have done. I keep dreaming that someone will stand up and say 'I want to be Chair'. This is not likely. It's my own fault though.

I would never have thought 20 years ago, that I'd be worrying about such a thing. I never thought I was going to get married, never mind having children and all the things I do now were not even on the radar. I always thought I'd have a wandering kind of life, 'flitting about' my Nan would have called it and I just don't. I'm glad I don't.

A little more weight has shifted and I'm slapping on the moisturiser. I read a great article about Beth Ditto. She's a flitter. For those not up with Sunday mag culture, she's a 15 stone, 26 year old, southern american dyke who fronts a band called Gossip. She's fab. I think she's fab because she doesn't give a flying stuff about being fatter than the average twig. She wears great clothes, has a mouth like a sewer and well-vocalised opinions on just about everything. As an old bird, I'd love to think she's some kind of portly beacon to all those worried, self-obsessed teenage girls who spend their lives obsessing about what everyone else thinks about them.

We all know that it's 'what's on the inside that counts' deep down. Unfortunately we're all so surface-orientated that it's easy to forget and look no further than the l'oreal moisturiser. It's so much easier to make assumptions about neighbours if what you see is their house, their car and their highlights. It's quick. We're all busy. It takes time to get to know other peoples' strengths and dreams. Who's got time for that?

Sunday, 7 October 2007

time running out

12 days to go and I'm in project panic mode. The cause? Photographs taken at my son's bowling birthday party on Saturday. They weren't pretty. They were wide. I think I can safely say I've blown the health & beauty aspect of projectforty. I need a radical, quick fix approach for the next 12 days.

Moisturisation, moisturisation, moisturisation is first on the list.

Followed by: rehydration, rehydration, rehydration.

And bringing up the rear: high heels under a long maxi dress with 3/4 length sleeves - thereby creating the illusion of height, ergo a slight slimming effect.

I have some hope in that I'm getting my hair cut this week and possibly my eyebrows sorted. Finally. This will hopefully improve the panic levels.

I knew this would happen. I am not great at sustained, level, persistent activity. I'm more your quick burst sort of girl. It's just the way things go. Unfortunately, the outward manifestation of projectforty is my weak spot. I know that I've made huge changes over the last couple of months. It just doesn't look as if I have because my bottom still wobbles and my arms are as thick as Kate Moss's legs.

I'm still wrestling with the do I, don't I care question? Do I care that I look what I look like? If I cared that much, I presume I would do the persistent, consistent stuff that you need to do to look better. Do I care that I'm having a fab time and enjoying myself - do you know, I think I do.
I'm quite sure though that I'd think I was having a fabber time if looked more like Kristin Scott Thomas. I've always wanted to look like someone like her - angular, pale, poised. Like I've always wanted straight hair and the ability to say no.

Gardened today too. Very virtuous on the domestic/green goddess front but not so great for the cuticles. In fact, I think I've torn two of my nails off today. Acrylics here we come?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Hurdle 1 - jumped

He's 10 now. All is well. I think he had a lovely day. We had some friends round for fajita tea and the chocolatey cake from Asda went down well. We've got the same cake for his party on Saturday - only bigger.

I had a day out in Bath yesterday. There were 3 in our party and we had a lovely time pootling about looking at lots of things. I managed to lose a whole carrier bag. That was a little dispiriting. I did buy lots of things in M&S so I've now got a nice range of things to return. I treated myself to a HUGE bag for college as it seems I need to take all sorts of things with me each day. I'm planning to customise it as it's very big and very black. I'm thinking felt flowers and pompoms. That will make a statement.

It's beautiful today and I have to go to Trowbridge for my final, final, final work meeting. Not that I'm getting paid. Me, being me, offered to go ages ago. Now I wish I was charging them a daily rate of course! I've even agreed to go to Westbury to pick up a couple of parcels. I must remember my sunglasses.

I've now got a huge pot of green veg soup on the go. I cooked it yesterday and am going to sample it when I get back from the meeting. I'm never sure about eating cabbage based foods when there may be some form of social activity afterwards. I accept cabbage's good qualities but it does kinda linger.

Back to college tomorrow - more ceramics. I'm just about to spend some time sorting out my sketchbooks. I need to find the pritt stick....

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

another milestone

I gave birth to my son 16 days before my 30th birthday, on 3rd October. I never thought I'd have children. I'd had a bit of an ectopic episode the previous year. I'll spare you the details.

He's 10 tomorrow. Ten. X. Dix. Zehn. TEN. How did that happen? He can't be. He went out to play with his mates on the football field at the weekend. By himself. Twice. Mrs 'laissez-faire, all-will-be-will, que sera sera' was a nervous wreck. I became uncontrollably grumpy and didn't like it at all. Not one bit. Ten. Pahhhhh. I keep thinking that in 10 years time he'll be at college drinking and having a good time with not a me in sight. That's not good either.

So...if I didn't have my little milestone to climb over, I've got his too. Oh, yes, and our wedding anniversary. We got married on my birthday in 1995, so that's 12 years this year. So many things to remember all in one month.

I've got the ingredients to make lots of healthy calorie-free soup. A friend was telling me about her juicing regime and it all sounded fabulous but a little cold. So, for the next few days, I will mostly be taking flasks of boiling hot green soup to college with me so that the temptation of the newly discovered bacon baps in the canteen just turns tail and slinks off.

College is still a blast. Ceramics on Monday was loverly. Lots of drawing and freedom to mess about. Printmaking today was marvellous. Lots of cutting and sticking and making textures. I still feel guilty that I'm allowed to go and spend 6 hours a day just messing. Some of my fellow students seem slightly upset about all sorts of things but I just can't be. £120 for a year's worth of creativity. Can't be bad.

Monday, 1 October 2007

really worried

There was a lot to do over the weekend. Two parties to get going, 3 sports matches and 2 sets of football training to squeeze in. We coped.

The parties were good. The first, to celebrate our local primary school's 25th anniversary seemed to be a great success. Loads of people turned up and there was a general air of festivity and jollity. The second, a disco for the adults to raise a bit of money was jolly too but not profitable enough. Never mind, we live and learn. We all had a bit of a dance though and got thoroughly silly to the end. I was reminded of several of the songs I do not wish to have at my party.

My party is now 18 days away. The activitiess of the weekend led me to lose another couple of pounds. So, if I'm very good, I'm on track to have lost a stone and a half by my birthday. The problem is I don't think it looks as if I have. My clothes are feeling a little less snug but I can't tell the difference visually. I was considering getting myself stretched out on a rack.

I have had a recommendation though for the hair do so I'll be calling today and getting an appointment to do something with my unruly mop. There's also the eyebrows to deal with. Am off to Bath on Wednesday so am going to look up brow bars when I've finished this and try and find someone who can tame them without making me look like I've walked into a shattered glass and cut my head open. It's great having sensitive skin.

Off to college today - ceramics. This, I expect means finding an object, drawing it and interpreting it in clay. We have a box of shells to rummage through which, frankly, is becoming a little tedious. I loved the drawing though and enjoyed being creative with pva and ink.

What to wear for pottery? It's a conundrum....

Thursday, 27 September 2007

most unusual activity....

I've had 2 anonymous comments....yes, 2. How does that happen? Have I become an online community? I'm amazed. I expect they're from my dear friends S & L. Or, are they?

Anyway, dear posters....answers to your questions

Q: What am I going to do with my craft projects?
A: Who knows?! I now have 4 teacosies, some cushion covers and several chunky scarves hanging about the house. If I was brave enough, I'd sell them. I expect they'll become presents for craft phobic friends and rellies. That'll teach them.....If I was clever enough, I'd take pictures of them and put them on my blog wouldn't I?!
Q: Why don't I try adios?
A: I've had some in my cupboard for years. I'm a bit worried they'll make me hyper. I'll take some today and let you know how I get on.

Thanks for getting in touch.

3 weeks...

I haven't blogged for a week. This is because I am retired. Retirement does not mean that you have time to sit and eat bonbons all day. Oh no. My retirement means buzzing about like a headless bluebottle doing too many things at once.

I now have multi-columned lists on the go. I keep telling myself that after the weekend it will be fine. I won't bang on about the details. Like listening to someone else's dreams, hearing about how someone else's busyness is just dull.

Projectforty is not going well at all. Every morning I promise myself I'll do all the things I'm supposed to be doing. I drink the water, stretch a bit, avoid exercise all day. My skin has gone crepey. I've started to realise that no matter how much I say I want to do all the fit, healthy things, I actually don't really care about that as much as I care about having a good time, messing about with my friends and enjoying all the nonsense that comes with family life.

If I wanted to look as smart and groomed as I think I ought to try and look, perhaps I would actually do it. Instead I talk about it, make myself feel pressured about the way I look and carry on doing all the things I enjoy doing, hoping that my glorious transformation will take place by itself.

Yes, I am disappointed I haven't lost 2 stone and started to look like all those long-legged gorgeous creatures. Then again, since I started I've had a blast. I've become a student, done loads of writing, been much nicer to G and the kids, seen my friends more, organised 3 parties and generally entertained myself very nicely thank you.

I just need to get some grooming booked now. I hear eyebrow shaping can take off 10 years and half a stone!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

a month to go....

I'm on the downhill stretch. The weight is slowly going again. I'm exercising a little but not nearly enough. I'm waking up before 5am every day and have completely forgotten that I ever worked!

Back to college today for some more drawing. I think we've got a different tutor today. I've seen her around, she looks exactly like a college art teacher should look like - very slim, lots of long curly hair, interestingly embroidered skirts. I think I'll stay until lunchtime. I've got sewing at school this afternoon and if I don't go to the supermarket today I suspect we'll all have scurvy by the weekend.

I was housebound yesterday which was actually very pleasant. We had to call the dishwasher man out as the person in charge of the dishwasher (not me) had inadvertantly managed to block it. DM came, he pulled the offending machine out of its slot, shook the pipes around a bit and switched it on, at which point it started working. I enjoyed writing the cheque for the call out charge.

As I couldn't go anywhere my friends came to me. We drank pots of tea and coffee and generally faffed about being crafty. 3 tea cosies and a pincushion later I felt very productive. I now have several projects scattered around the kitchen, shouting 'finish me' as I walk by.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

spinning plates

I thought retirement was meant to be relaxing.

I thought finishing work would bring an aura of calm and tranquility to my whole being.

I thought days filled with art and creativity would make me serene and zen-like.

NOT!

Perhaps I would be feeling zen-like if I wasn't involved in the rest of my life. I didn't realise that I've managed to stuff too much into too few days. I thought it was just work that took up my time, not the kids, the husband, the school, the governors, the failing exercise regime, the garden, the allotment, the cooking and now the washing up (dishwasher conked out yesterday) AND all the other things I want to do like the writing, the knitting, the sewing, the swimming, the going out and the fun.

I know I'm nearly 40 and I should know better but IT'S JUST NOT FAIR! I want to float through my days not career through them at 50 miles an hour.

I am, however, very conscious that I'm having a blast. I drew a skeleton, a ribcage and a sheep's skull yesterday and despite never having drawn for longer than 10 minutes in my life, lasted all day and was quite pleased with the results. Some of my fellow students' work was just mind-blowing but I was satisfied with my efforts. I'm sure this is not a valid artistic response and I'm supposed to be all consumed and feel the force or something but my 3 drawings looked like what they were. An accomplishment in my eyes.

Today, I'm going to a school finance course. I know, from one extreme to the other. It's in a lovely setting but they try to hide the biscuits at coffee time which I think is a little unkind.

I promise, I will try to exercise at some point today...went swimming last night and swallowed half the pool. I'm still not over the trauma.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

almost a month to go...

Another early morning. Maybe I've got to that age when a woman needs less sleep? Maybe I'm morphing into Mrs T with her legenday 4 hours a night? I get annoyed waking up so early but it's wonderfully quiet and when I tidy things up, they stay tidy until breakfast time.

I am looking forward to my 2 weeks of drawing at college - not. I tried to draw a sempivirum and my daughter yesterday. They looked very similar by the time I'd added a little bit of shading. This is not a good sign.

I MUST mow the allotment today. And I MUST do the ironing. I'm sure there'll be some sport on the telly wich will force me out of the house. J has a disco swimming party this afternoon. I can't understand how you can have a disco in these circumstances. Kids parties are excruciating enough without having to spend the entire time in your swimmers. He seems to be quite excited though. Thank god there aren't many opportunities in my life for such an activity.

I had lots of excitement on the scales yesterday - 2lbs gone, just like that. But, dear reader, they're back. How does that happen? I'd been worried about the stability of my weight for a week, celebrated a little shift and then bam, back again. Oh well, at least I made a lovely lino cut yesterday.

Am I what I eat or what I do?

Thursday, 13 September 2007

time flying

The weight is shifting again. Now I'm worried it's because I've missed my exercise for a couple of days. I hunted out my old Lorraine Kelly video on Monday night! It's the only fitness video I've ever managed to watch repeatedly, despite its annoying soundtrack. I say repeatedly, what I mean is, more than once when I'm on a health kick.

G's been away 2 nights so the kids have been going to bed early! They're exhausted with going back to school and the relentless sporting activity they seem to be involved with. How did I end up with such movers and shakers. I loathed sport as a child. Sport always involved getting cold or wet or both and then having to get wet again in bacteria smeared showers. Hideous.

I can't watch it now either. I see no joy in someone being able to run a bit faster or for a bit longer and the older I get, the more pointless it seems. I couldn't be less interested in the so-called sporting glory of rugby, football and cricket on all at the same time. I'm getting a lot of craft done.

I'm very tolerant though. I don't mind other people watching it. I have to. I have no problem with people taking part in sport, I just don't see why people not doing it have to watch it. I'm the same with wildlife. I love nature, do my recycling, cry when I see lone polar bears on the telly but I really can't understand why some people want to climb aboard several modes of transport and follow creatures around taking holiday snaps. Just leave the poor furry, crawly things alone. They'd have more babies, they wouldn't breathe in the carbon monoxide from the exhausts. Just let the poor we creatures be.

Anyway...back to p40. I'm keeping an eye on all the things I'm supposed to be and am taking healthy salads to college now and feeling very virtuous with my cottage cheese salad and pieces of fruit.

God I wish I was 40 so I don't have to think about it anymore! I'm going to start saying I'm nearly 50 so people think I'm fabulously gorgeous at my age.....

Sunday, 9 September 2007

40 days to 40 years

It's definitely crunch time now. It's now 40 days away - the final countdown - and the fat lady will be singing because I've booked a disco with a karaoke for the party!

On the upside - I feel great. I'm doing what I want to do with my days, I'm having a lot of fun and feel energised. My body's starting to look better.

On the downside - the bits of me that need shifting aren't shifting as quickly as I'd like them to. I'm eating better, I'm not grazing so much, I've conquered my addiction to custard creams. I'm doing the 5 a day thing most days.

There are parts of me that are benefiting from the exercise. My waist is reappearing and my posture's better. My weight loss, however, has slowed down dramatically. Is this the muscle factor - where it weighs more than fat? I hope so.

I do feel I've changed my mindset over the last couple of months though. I feel like I'm being a little kinder to myself and instead of being so self-critical, I've started to treat myself like I try to treat my friends. I wouldn't talk to anyone like I talk to myself. If I gain nothing else from projectforty, I think that's a change for the better.

Right - am off for a twilight village stomp. Nighty night.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

early bird

Have been up since 5am. I'm on a bit of a roll. I've sorted out my stuff for college, numbers for calls to make at lunchtime, done directions for my party invitations and printed out leaflets for school's dancing lessons. I think I might be overdoing it.

I was hoping to do a walk this morning but am going to go to college instead and get inspired again. I hope today will be as good as Tuesday.

Did my stomp around the village yesterday morning and went swimming in the evening. I'm very conscious that I've crammed all sorts of things into the next few weeks and time will be at a premium. It does feel good though. It feels like I'm doing the right thing. I'm going to end up sounding like someone on Oprah in a minute.

I had a lovely surprise too yesterday. I've been sending off freebie coupons from some very special magazines I've been buying. Like my true weight, I can't reveal the titles. The result? A free watercolour box from an art supplier full of paints, brushes and boards. This creativity lark must be the right path.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

and relaxxxxxxx....

Went to college for the first time yesterday. It was wonderful. I had spent Monday at a finance course for school governors and yesterday spent 6 hours, creating panels with a huge array of different materials and textures. It was very relaxed and just joyful. There was no pressure, it was overwhelmingly inspiring. It has already made me start to look at ordinary things in the most extraordinary way.

There are about 15 of us in our group, a fantastic (so far) tutor and, for me, the almost endless possibility of learning. I have to spend 2 weeks drawing, more than I've spent in my entire lifetime to date and I can just feel that the next few months are going to be stuffed full of new things and experiences. We all know I like 'new'.

I've got my exercise routine sorted as well and even though I'm not sure the weight is changing, the body is. I am, however, going to bed at about half nine every night as I'm so knackered after running around and trying to be fit!

Got a visitor, got to go...more later

Monday, 3 September 2007

back to school

I knew something was missing from my life. I haven't blogged for almost a week.

I've been a little busy. I made my last visit to Westbury (I think) and saw some wonderful films made by some young people there. A good end to my contract. I've been allotmenting which I'm sure is why my neck hurts. Have had a massive clearout. Have written my invitations. Have tried to tidy up my office/workroom. And have tried to get organised for this week.

I love this time of year. It's my new year and when I get energised. January loathes me. I love the dark nights and the winteriness of it but I can't bear that enforced resolution making ethos. I particularly loathe the way magazines change colour before Christmas has even happened. December's issues (out in November) are replete with gold, silver and luxury. January's issues (out December 1st) are pale blue, austere and clear, telling us to detox and cleanse before we've even got started.

September is the best time to start new things. It's still warm enough to get out and about. There are pencil cases and stationery in abundance in the high street and the kids go back to school which means all their mums can have a sit and a think and move about the place without being asked for ice cream.

Liberating.

PS: Had the haircut, appointments are made, regular bouncing is incorporated into my lifestyle.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

typical

Well, normality has returned. 2 days in to getting up early in the morning and I'm already anti-packed lunch. A lot has happened in 2 days. I've properly, formally, definitely resigned from my job. I've been accepted on an art/design course at college. I've had a go on a ukulele and I've found the most delicious bit of vintage/sixties fabric at Oxfam I've seen for months.

I've been ebay bidding and scouring the net for potential marital 40th birthday presents - I'm thinking handbag, big bling ring or watch. A watch smacks of retirement and I'm not sure about the bling. I like looking at it but I think it would have to be really fabulous and thought about for a long time. I'm veering towards the lovely handbag idea. Practical, beautiful, every day usage. My current favourite is a bespoke Anya Hindmarch Ebury, followed closely by a Mulberry Bayswater. The best handbag shop I've ever been in is Liberty. Just beautiful. I could spend hours in there, sniffing the leather and testing clasps.

I'm a little concerned about the handbag as I do have a tendency to batter my belongings. I've never been a person who can keep things pristine for very long. I don't have that kind of life and I'm worried that if I had a proper, smart bag, I'd have to alter a great many things in my day to day lifestyle to accommodate it. I know, for example, that it could not sit in the well of my punto with one of the kids' football boots. I also know that I would probably be involved in an unfortunate accident with a water bottle or a carton of Ribena. Should I not have such an object just because I risk an encounter with unidentified liquids? Should I risk embracing objets de luxe?

As you may have gathered - I'm not thinking about my main priority very much. I am, however, doing it. Regular exercise has become a part of my daily routine. Boring but essential.

Haircut tomorrow (I hope) and an appointment to be made for feet, eyebrows, lashes and nails.

Monday, 27 August 2007

bank holiday blues...

It feels like the end of the summer holidays. I have no more lazy morning weekdays left. From tomorrow, it's all get up and sandwich boxes and rush, rush, rush.

I love school holidays. I love the feeling of sitting in my dressing gown while the kids munch cereal and grumble about who put their feet where or who's spilt their juice or whatever it is they like to twitter about in the morning. I like at least 2 cups of tea (and sometimes they're NOT herbal!) and a long sit, gently gathering the random thoughts flitting through the gelatinous mass that is my brain.

I know it's a waste of time and I ought to be doing something more constructive but I feel my stillness is not only akin to meditation, it stops me contributing to global warming for at least 20 minutes a day. I am sure that Greenpeace or whoever could work out a statistic that 'if everyone sat and stared for 20 minutes a day, energy requirments would be reduced by almost 2%'. Go on - check my maths.

After my recent chat with a dear friend, I've cranked up the exercise regime and taken a stronger line on my diet. It's too early to say but I definitely feel better having had less bread, bowlfuls of salad at lunchtime and fruit or porridge for breakfast. I've bounced for 30 minutes each morning which nearly kills me and makes me rather rosy and have also introduced some weight exercises, reinforced with the number 40. 40 sit ups, 40 pathetic press ups, 40 bicep curls, 40 tricep twists, 40 thigh raises, 40 lunges etcetera, etcetera.

I find the repetition of 40 focuses my mind.

So - up at the crack tomorrow - got to make packed lunches for kids' footie. I've got an interview for an art & design course (not sure where I'm going with that one really), I need to pick up my party invitations, go to pc world, look at fitted wardrobes in MFI (shudder) and bounce about a lot.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

get up and go

I've started properly. More salad. More exercise. Less sitting about. It better flaming work. If it doesn't, that's it. I'm just going to carry on being less than perfect and stuff the healthy nonsense.

I ate salad twice yesterday, TWICE. I think I had a week's worth of fruit and veg in one day. Not that it stopped me eating the cake E & I had baked for the 3rd picnic we've been on this week. I justified the cake eating as we'd made it ourselves (used calories in its production) AND I used organic eggs. I am sure it's been clinically tested that organice = calorie-free.

By the time evening came along and supper had been dealt with, I was knackered. My daughter informed me that she was 'shattered' yesterday - aged 6. I think she's been listening to my husband too much when he comes in from work.

After having mown the allotment - don't get too excited, my allotment's like project forty, loads of great plans but minimum effort and primarily a source of guilt - I had a shower, scrubbed my hooves and slumped on the sofa to watch Gardener's World. The lovely Sarah Raven told me all about the ills of the UK cut flower industry, how 90% of all flowers bought in the UK are imported at an enormous environmental cost. The industry's worth £2billion, just as much as the music industry. That's a lot of flowers.

I was quite inspired and am now determined not to buy flowers from overseas. There are farms here that supply them and some producers who can deliver them, they just don't seem to get into the shops. If we're all supposed to be buying local food etc, surely it makes sense to buy other local stuff too. So, I've emailed my favourite environmental site, http://www.thenag.net/ about it. If you want to join the nag, having seen it, use this link: www.thenag.net/invited_by/bottercelli and it will track that you've joined because of me!

Sunshine again this morning - am just about to get trackies on and move about a bit.

Friday, 24 August 2007

reality check

I shouldn't have done it, I've avoided it since I started. I purposefully ignored the golden rule of project management. I guessed at where I was and haven't measured where I've come. Inspired by a conversation with one of my dearest friends, I dug a tape measure out of my sewing box and used http://www.bmi-calculator.net/ to calculate various measurements of how fat I actually am. The fat counter, the BMI counter, the waist/hip counter all confirmed what I've known for quite a long time - I am not slim.

How did I know this without the certainty of mathematics and science you ask? Well - I'm usually the least skinny of the women at parties I go to these days. One of the few places I feel slim is at the massive Asda in Swindon where lots of people's bottoms are wider than their trolleys. I sigh quite a lot. Certain parts of my body move when the rest of it isn't moving in the same direction. Other indicators include a fear of skinny shops where the clothes look tiny and make me feel large just looking at them; I've 'gone off' wearing jeans; I'm overcompensating by trying to be funny all the time. It's not good.

So - thanks, good friend! You know who you are. I was perfectly happy in denial until about 10 minutes ago. In my defence I have indulged in some exercise already today. Half an hour of sweating on my mini-trampoline and some floor work.

Having brought myself to crisis with the rather large numbers that emerged from my scientific experiment this morning, I now need to decide what my body goals actually are for 19th October. In my dreams, I want to be wearing a size 12 dress. I want toned arms that are the same width all the way up, no beefy biceps for me. I want my tummy to do less wobbling and I'd like my legs to skinny up a bit too.

I'm doing much better on the thinking and creative side of my project than the moving and shaking side. In true Libran fashion, it's time time to shift the balance the other way.

Q: Where do Daleks buy their cheese? A: At a dalekatessen!

PS: If you read this, leave me some comments, I'd like to see who's been and I've got plans for projectforty. I need your help. Just click on the comments button. Thank you!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

57 days to go

My nails have dropped off. Until yesterday I had reasonable looking talons, today, I have chopped off stumps having had to take radical action after 3 snapped one morning. Clearing the garden is not a compatible activity alongside projectforty. Never mind – we have a few weeks to go.

The party is booked, the invitations are with the printers, the music is hired and I have a musical playlist as long as my excuses for not eating properly. The hotel next door to the village hall is offering competitive rates for guests and so far all is going well.

I’ve been eating mountains of salad at lunchtime which is a good thing. I’ve even started writing down what I eat – which is a good and bad thing. Instead of mindlessly grazing, I’ve realised that I do mindlessly graze and mindlessly graze quite a lot. What I haven’t quite got round to (apart from the salad) is actually really changing what I’m eating or not eating quite so much!

I have taken the unusual step, however, of using fridge magnets to write ‘40’ on the biscuit tin, the bread bin and both fridge and freezer compartments in an attempt to remind myself that if I don’t get my act together, turning 40 is going to be so much worse. I’m not great at consistent activity – I never have been. I loved the cramming as much as the exams when I was younger. I like a lot of thinking and then a surge of doing and activity when it’s really needed. This strategy is unlikely to work with projectforty and I think that’s why I’m finding it all a little tricky!

Monday, 20 August 2007

mid-project-crisis

Time’s moving on…

I’m definitely mid-project. I had to go to Asda yesterday. Usually I find a little item to tempt me in George, just to take the edge off the fact that I’m in Asda, on a Sunday, food shopping. But, unfortunately it’s sale time so the racks were rammed with unsightly garments and I had to console myself with buying vegetables instead, trying to convince myself that I will eat 5 of them a day and be a better person.

I arrived at the till, re-usable bags at the ready, and was informed by the woman on the till ‘You look shattered, love.’ Well, in her defence, I was. I was struck, however, that the sister on the till had stringy dyed hair, was nearer 60 than 50 and had no teeth. She thought I looked ropey!

This is not a good sign. I should have made some improvements by now. I should not be party to gentle, caring, yet ultimately negative comments from the woman on the checkout at Asda.

I’m not getting it right and I’ve got 2 months to my birthday. That’s 60 days. I feel like I’m revising for my ‘A’ levels and I can’t get my brain to absorb the facts.

It’s time for brutal honesty. I’m going to have to adopt the persona of Gillian McKeith. The gentle approach is too slow. It’s time for unflattering photos on the fridge and a food diary. I wish it hadn’t come to this. I’m nearly 40 – you’d think I’d have got the hang of all this stuff by now. It’s not difficult. Eat a less, move about more. It’s not the stuff of science fiction.

Why is it so difficult? Am I emotional eater? Am I a sugar addict?

It’s got to stop.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

home sweet home

It’s our first day back from visiting a friend in Hull. I have two smallish children in the house who have forgotten how to play, think and move without the constant companion of electronic stimulation. It’s fascinating to watch their brains lurch into gear having spent the last couple of days welded to screens and a variety of handheld controls. My capacity for tolerating whingeing, whining and moaning is being truly tested. Bless...the summer holidays are truly upon us.

I am now at the crisis mid-point of projectforty. The last couple of weeks have been woefully inactive and off-plan.

Pounds lost = 0. Sessions of 30 mins or more physical activity = 0.
Crap food eaten = mountain. Fruit/healthy food eaten = bowlful.

My panic is growing as the village hall is now booked for 20th October. If I don’t get busy I’m going to look like I do. Looking like I do is OK when I only really see people I see most weeks. Looking like I do when I might see people I haven’t seen for a long time is not good at all.

I’ve never been terribly glamorous but, I don’t think I ever look awful. Tired, yes. Shabbier rather than chic but not truly awful. Now though, if I say I need to make the effort, no-one disagrees with me. A sure sign that, yes, I need to get cracking.

I’m well into the final 10 weeks before the big day. No more winey evenings with mates, no more snacky chocolate and no more sitting about watching my hips widen.

I'm almost at the point of keeping a food diary - how low can one woman sink for vanity?

Sunday, 12 August 2007

show and tell

I have been concentrating on the creative aspect of projectforty to compensate for my denial and current ineffectiveness with regard to the health and beauty aspects.

J, E & I entered our local show yesterday. Our competing classes were:
- bookmark - sport-related and mermaid
- drawing or picture - pot plant
- model made of anything – hovercraft and hama bead horsey thing
- decorated hardboiled egg
- highly polished boot or shoe
- knitted scarf
- knitted handbag

We acquitted ourselves presentably with 2 firsts, 2 seconds and a third. Most pleasing and, I realised, strangely compulsive. Now we’ve done it once, we’re going to have to do it again. A woman there won three silver cups. She cleaned up. The problem is, now I want one.

The show also has a funfair with, as mentioned before, the best dodgems in England. They lived up to their reputation and gave us a good 10 minutes of hilarity and silliness.

I then made the fatal error of being enticed by the whirly swirly thing that goes up in the air ride. J & E raced on and left me childless. Eventually a friend’s daughter agreed to go on with me. All was fine at the beginning with lots of whoops and screams. These were, however, swiftly subdued as the ride just went on, and on, and on. I think as well because I probably weigh 3 times as much as H we span and span and span. It was just unpleasant.

Back home for a mountain of barbecue with our friends, the Bs and a bit more wine. All was well.

Off to Hull today so no news until Wednesday.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

back to work..

I had to work today. I met a colleague in Trowbridge. She paid for lunch. Lucky. I forgot to get money from the machine. Trowbridge is a funny town. In fact, if you ask anyone in Wiltshire about any random market town (of which there are several), they'll always say "Mmmm, x? x is a funny town."

Trowbridge is the county town, it plays host to the county council. In the 2 years I've worked in the area, it has acquired a Costa Coffee, a Monsoon and a Marks & Spencer food shop. This, I assume, means that it is aspiring to be a destination town, not just a funny one. It has one of those shopping malls that has the same shops as everywhere else does - a Greggs, a Millets, a New Look and a Clintons Cards. Around the shopping mall are the random assortment of charity shops and what my friend J has christened 'mushroom' shops. Shops with a bizarre optimism, selling dusty boxes containing premium goods that anyone in their right mind would visit John Lewis for and get a proper guarantee. There's also the weirdest shaped shop I've ever seen. It's like a brie wedge, with the till up the fat end and all it sells is flavoured, smelly bath bombs. I've never seen anyone queuing at the till.

projectforty has gone ok today. I had breakfast, I had 2 crumpets for mid-morning snack and a healthy panini for lunch. I have avoided caffeine in all its evil forms. I have not, as yet, succumbed to chocholism although I have had a glass of red wine.

I have a house full of girls. J has gone for a sleepover with one of his mates, therefore I was press-ganged to have my darling E's mates over at ours. All good stuff.

Our entries have been confirmed for the show. Tomorrow we'll be polishing boots, painting eggs and putting the finishing touches to our models. The excitement builds...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

blue sky thinking

We've been back 3 days. We're still all getting along. No-one has, to my knowledge, cried although there have been intense bouts of teasing, screaching and general mayhem. J, E & I are in the midst of 'show fever'. Our village show takes place every August. There is a fun fair with the best dodgems in England, a shooting gallery, equestrian competitions and the horticultural and industrial competitions in a huge marquee. It's as British and as dibley-esque as can be.

The kids have been poring over the schedule of classes and have been preparing their exhibits with gusto. I've never entered but this year I'm tempted. I'm considering 2 classes - 'knitted bag' and 'knitted scarf'. We have to confirm our intent to enter by tomorrow, 5pm. Watch this space.

My exercise regime has become a little more intense with sit-ups and other bits of flouncing about in the evening, whilst watching tv and first thing in the morning. If nothing else, I am determined to do something about the wobbly bits between my knees and my shoulders. Every time I have a bath, I am confronted by the reflection of my jelly-like torso, headless in our strategically placed bathroom mirror. It's not pretty (yet) but it does remind me to pull in my abdominals and think about my core something or others.

I wonder whether all this really matters to me that much. And does it matter to other people? Will anyone else but me care that I've lost a few pounds and gone to a better colourist? What will be the payoff? Do I care more about what I look like than what I do and who I am? Will I ever be satisfied? I'm never going to look like all those gorgeous creatures in magazines? I'm not going to go down the acryclic/extension route to become a pornclone. I don't depend on my looks for the love of those who love me anyway (thank god). It will be interesting to see what will happen if the outside starts to look a bit more how I want it to look.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Back on track…

The bloggap? We visited my parents in France last week. We saw blue sky every day, swam in their pool and were looked after and generally pampered. It was wonderful and much appreciated.

Back to Blighty on Sunday and more blue sky. I hopped on the scales yesterday – no gain. I hopped on today and it looked as if I’d lost 5lbs overnight. My heart leapt. I got on again – I’ve put on a pound! My heart sank.

I do, though, feel better if not lighter. I swam every day on holiday, did some walking, went tree swinging, ate at mealtimes instead of grazing constantly, exfoliated and moisturised, slept like a log and drank litre after litre of water (as well as a little wine). I think I look better than I left. The skipping rope is still in my suitcase.

Now I’m at home, it’s time to go up a gear. I went swimming last night with S and, after 2 years of doing 20 lengths, we took the plunge (ha ha!) and did 25 (26 in my case - I didn’t want to walk the length of the pool to get back into the changing rooms).

I’m planning a little bounce later on my mini-trampoline or perhaps a little of my ancient workout video featuring Lorraine Kelly when she giggled more and had curlier hair. Dreadful music but weirdly effective if you do it every few days. I know this because I did it in 1999.

I’m also aware that as I’m having a party on the big day, I’ll need to call in the professionals. An effort needs to be made. What are 40th birthday parties for unless to check out the other 40-somethings and make sure you don’t look quite as 40 as them? I will need more than a quick chop at the local hairdressers. I need serious, take no prisoners intervention. Hair, skin, nails, and a proper eyebrow shape.

Cuticles aside, eyebrows are another of my ‘can’t dos’. I can do my right eyebrow but not my left and I am at a loss when presented with the bit in between. I marvel at other's perfectly groomed brows and I do go for regularish shapes at the local salon but these are painful and make my skin neon with irritation. It takes 10 minutes to do and then 3 days to recover. I usually leave the salon with a red welt just above my eyebrows and have to plan my visits so that I don’t have to appear in public. It’s restricting - does that happen to everyone?

So – back on track with projectforty. 2 months and 13 days…..I make that 74 days to go.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

we're all going....

on a summer holiday. We're off to stay with my parents in Lot, France for a week. I've been looking forward to this for weeks. They live in a beautiful spot, overlooking a valley in the depths of rural, south-west France. It is truly blissful and it's great for us to share in that, even for just a short while.

projectforty has become a little troublesome over the last few days and I have to say I have lapsed on almost all counts. I am concerned that the holiday will not help and I will have to be very strict and impose some severe exercise quotas on myself. I've packed a skipping rope. I will let you know if I use it. There is a pool at the house and if I can't get in there and do several lengths, I will be ashamed.

I've also had my aunties to stay, my absent mother's sisters. Whenever I see them, I have such a great time and I love watching them with my kids. We do things like go shopping together. I never went shopping with my mum and my preferred shopping status is alone but with them, it's entertainment with a capital 'E'. They have an ability to spend 5 hours shopping but to spend £5 between them. It's can be frustrating. It's not a spectator sport but they have such a great time, you just have to let them do it.

I left them at the junction of the M4/M5. As I headed back east, they headed north in J's tiny, speedy car, waving madly and chewing Everton mints.

It's the end of the week and I'm aware I need to regroup. I haven't put any pounds on but I certainly won't be losing any more if I carry on like this.

Friday, 27 July 2007

fantasy v reality

Another pound has disappeared! Half a stone, gone, in less than a month. I've never lost half a stone before. It's a novel experience.

The makeover element of projectforty makes me feel a little uneasy. I flip between the notions of 'beauty is on the inside' and 'I'd kill to look like her'. On the one hand, I truly believe that we are what we do and not what we look like. On the other, I wish some people would stop before they left home, pull their baggy trackies over their floppy bellies and release their greasy hair from its grubby scrunchy. Scraped back hair is rarely a good look. It's just harsh.

We're told not to try to emulate the beauties presented to us by the media. No-one looks like that without airbrushing, starvation or an addiction to smack. We all know this. It's a big beauty conspiracy. But every day we torture ourselves. We pore over those images, compare them with our badly lit holiday snaps and berate ourselves for our physical failings. I should have grown out of this by now - I'm nearly 40 you know.

I found a diary, written, I think when I was 12. It contained a list. Weight: x, target weight: y. Eat less, exercise more. I weighed 7st 6lbs and wanted to weight less than 7st. I'm still doing it now, except I can't bear to reveal the numbers. I was 12. I'd hate to think my daughter would ever think the same thing.

The more high-falluting aspect of projectforty is to look after myself so that she sees it's OK to get older and not look like everyone else. That it's OK to live and choose and enjoy all aspects of life. As media images dominate us, we need to remind ourselves that majority of us are ordinary. There's nothing to stop us being extra-ordinary but that's what we are.

I have a collection of old Vogues. I've read it avidly every month for the last 20 years. I marvel at the beauty of it all and I'm transported to a life of fabulous people and general gorgeousness. After my fix, I pop down to Asda and see if George has designed any new frocks for less than 20 quid.

Watch TV and we see programmes featuring unhappy women looking for something, anything that will make them feel better. It's an epidemic of self-consciousness. It doesn't matter where these women work, how much they earn, how much their families/husbands/friends love them - what they want is T&S to take them to the hairdressers, fiddle with their bra straps and put them in matching separates. Maybe they should be available on the NHS?

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Summer's here

The holidays have begun. My first-day lie-in has turned into a dawn waking. Tweeting birds are the culprits. Sweet.

I need to get back on track. It's 87 days to go to the big day. It's time to get busy. I'm up, it's early, it's not raining. A bit of fresh air and a walk. Can you feel the joy? I've become so inactive, activity is becoming less and less appealing. I spoke to a friend recently who's done the 3 peaks challenge, 3 mountains in 3 days. I was planning to see her during the summer holidays - I'm not sure I can cope with the feelings of inadequacy. A dance class every fortnight and the walk down to school every day does not compare with that particular physical challenge.

She runs - a lot. 5/6 miles every day. I don't even drive 5/6 miles a day. I've tried running a few times. A very few times. It just makes me bad tempered. I think it's the bosom wobbling and it's definitely the knee crunching. No fun. I prefer a forced march followed by a penguin or a kit kat.

As I'm up, I'm reloading my ipod. I lurve my ipod. She's called Ethel. She's coming to my birthday party if I can find a way of plugging her into decent enough speakers. Who needs a DJ? Not me? I'm far too musically controlling. No 'hi ho silver lining' or Grease mixes. Yuck. What I want is dance heaven through the decades and lots of inappropriately middle-aged shaking about. And a karaoke.

Monday, 23 July 2007

I went, I danced, my back aches

Well - what a mini-adventure I had at the weekend. Against advice, I drove through the storms down to Cornwall and arrived at Port Eliot for what's been described as 'Glastonbury for books'.

My neighbour had kindly equipped me with everything a novice camper could hope for plus her mother's phone number. Her family is from Cornwall. I'm not sure she was convinced I'd come back in once piece. On arrival, I enjoyed putting my tent up. Yes - I did say enjoy. I think I committed a camping faux pas by being too close to someone else but my neighbours were from London so they contented themselves with scowling at me rather than actually engaging in any conversation.

I arranged my belongings and the tent withstood the showers and stayed where it was supposed to. I just couldn't settle in there to sleep and I'd seriously underestimated how cold it gets. I enjoyed being outside, I just didn't like walking through the field to get to the loo at 5.23am. I enjoyed my REN rose oil bath when I got back.

It was interesting going alone. It was definitely a place for groups of friends and families - loads of families with loads of kids, all with floppy hair, all looking as if they'd never seen grass before. No pre-teen skins or white trackies in sight.

I spent Friday evening trying to work out where everything was happening and how not to look too conspicuous. Saturday was great, lots of talks, bands, films - full on culture and lots of semi-famous faces. Saturday night, I embraced my solitariness, drank my bottle of shiraz, ate another portion of south indian vegetarian something or other and embraced the dancing opportunities that were available.

I did something to my knee around midnight but shook my ample behind until 3am. It was positively liberating. Weird. But liberating. I've never been a solitary dancer and it was strangely exhilarating being alone in the middle of lots of little cliques and subsets of people. I felt I didn't really look like anyone else either. You haven't seen a photo - yet, but I definitely don't have that ex-public school look about me. I'm round and kind of old-fashioned looking, like a throwback to the 50s or 60s. I don't look like I work in PR, know where the Cross is or know Jerry, who knows Monty, who knows Arabella. I just don't. I felt unique.

All day, if you knew your tribes, you could have put post-its on every forehead. There were wasted aristos, tragic teen posh boys, journos, musos and west london girls dressed in daddy's credit cards. It was a fascinating mix of people and it must have been posh - I didn't see a Croydon face lift or an arse wider than a shopping trolley all weekend. It was all curls, skinny legs and seriously arched eyebrows.

Would I go again? If I could avoid the camping - yes.

PS: lost another pound, still no sign of cuticle improvement.
PPS: projectforty '10' list coming soon

Thursday, 19 July 2007

making my mind up

It’s decision time and, apart from mopping up midnight vomit when the kids are ill, decision making is one of my least favourite activities.

I am a natural compromiser. Eldest child. Libran. Child of divorced parents. Keeping the peace has become as much a part of me as my eyelids. It’s a given.

Here is the quandary – do what I’ve always wanted to do and commit some real time to writing, creating, developing some business ideas OR compromise and accept one of the vague job offers that are circulating around me from my existing employer. The money, although not sublime, is acceptable and welcome. There are parts of my work that I enjoy – the creativity, the variety and some of the people I work with.

The impact of work, however, has been fairly negative on many other aspects of my life.

I eat odd things at odd times.
I have no energy/time to exercise.
All the things I love doing are slowly being replaced by doing things I have to do to get paid.
I am tired.
My preferred position at home is on one of two sofas.
I don’t sleep sometimes.
I never get chance to garden properly.
I’ve lost the joy I usually get from cooking.
I see everything in relation to time and how little I have of it.

I have been reading ‘How to be Free’ by Tom Hodgkinson, he of ‘Idler’ fame. It’s now 1.30am because I’ve been revising chapters such as ‘stop working, start living’ and ‘say no to guilt and free your spirit’. Having read it, I understand now that, deep down, I am an anarchist. A 40-year-old, overweight, dry-skinned, tetchy anarchist but an anarchist at heart. Can you tell I’m rather pleased?

I downloaded 17 pages of activities and jollifications that are due to take place at the Port Eliot festival I’m going to on Friday. Despite my ingrained terror of being overwhelmed by the trendiness of it all, I’m looking forward to it. My neighbour has also been kind enough to provide all sorts of essential equipment and a list of other items to take. I feel like I’m being packed off to college. I think she’s a little concerned I might not come back.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

on the home stretch

A week to go and I'll be off the hook! Term finishes next Wednesday, so do I. I am really looking forward to the summer holidays and I hate to admit it because it makes me sound like a pompous yummy mummy. J & E and their stressed, exhausted mother have booked in a pyjama day for the first day of the holidays. We will be lolling and the thought of it is keeping me going.

My last stressful day will be tomorrow. I've organised a seminar at a secondary school and expected about fifteen people to turn up. We're up to about 35 now which is a little daunting to say the least. By this time tomorrow, it will be half way through and I will be on the home stretch. I've got dinner with the headteachers I work with tomorrow night and then off to my midlife crisis festival on Friday morning!

In the midst of all this, I've lost another 2lbs, which is 5lbs so far. I am very pleased indeed but it hasn't been achieved quite how I was expecting. My slightly slimmer frame has come from not having the energy to cook!

Oh - and I've had my hair cut short. What does that tell you?

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Will anyone notice?

If anyone was reading this blog, I’d be worried. 3 days without a post. That’s not good. I have excuses. My stress levels are sky high. They were elevated by a full-on weekend spent with in-laws who hadn't been in the same room for over 15 years. We managed though. No-one got cross. A breakthrough.

I'm also on the big countdown to finishing work which I thought would be relaxing and just a case of tying up a few loose ends. It is not. It's now 4am and I'm sat up worrying, wittering and bothering. My stars said I shouldn’t worry too much this week but it’s too late. I am worrying and I can’t stop.

I’ve got budgets to sort out, meetings to go to of all varieties (work and voluntary), a festival to get organised for and piles of paper and things I haven’t done surrounding me at every turn. The kids trainers have fallen apart, I can’t quite work out when we’re going to be able to get some new ones and the house is a tip.

I’m trying to remain rational, telling myself that by this time next week, all will be resolved, everything will have happened as it will. I have been working part-time for the last twoyars and it has been a drain on my mental health. I can spend hours, niggling about tiny little errors or potential problems, resolving nothing and sending my adrenalin levels sky high. Since working, I’ve put on a stone and a half (driving and stress), have had trouble sleeping (never before experienced) and am consistently bad tempered. The kids’ school uniforms have holes in and the little things that I used to find so easy have been pushed way down on the list so that I can obsess about whether I’ve sent an email to the wrong person or not.

If I was running a multinational company, I could understand this attention to detail but I’m not. My stress is down to my unfailing lack of self-confidence and belief. If I change only one thing before I'm 40, it's my chronic self-sabotage. If anyone else was doing what I'm doing, I'd tell them to stop.

I'm going to catch some sleep now so that I can function tomorrow. Work, volunteering, governing, working and volunteering again - that will be my day.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

It's started!

I've lost 3lbs. I've lost 3lbs. I've LOST 3lbs. This never happens. This means I must be doing something right. Are the experts right? If you move about a little more and eat a little less - do you lose weight? If you drink a tad more water and a lot less caffeine - do you sleep better? And there was I, thinking it was tricky.

Despite my success, I am feeling awful. I have caught a mancold, obviously I'm not suffering as much as the man I caught it from but, nevertheless, my throat is crackling and my nose is running and my outfits are flitting from arctic to tropical twice an hour. Frankly, it's cramping my style. I can't go to writing group. I can't have a jolly day out with friends. I'm catching up with proper work and sorting out the various piles of A4 paper I have scattered across my desk.

I have also realised that I am referring to my husband as Sarah Kennedy refers to her on the breakfast show. 'Beloved' is going to have to go. I shall forthwith refer to him wot I adore as G.

G indicated that he may join me in projectforty but the mancold appears to have postponed this exciting development. We have mother of G arriving tomorrow. If I start cutting his food intake, I'll be accused of starving him. I shall bide my time till next week.

J & E (see what I'm doing here!) had their sports day and parents evening this week. School-life is a whole other blog but we've had a great time watching them have a great time and my excitement is growing as the summer holidays are looming. Just 8 school days left. I can't wait. This is not because I'm a pinny-wearing ubermama, it's because we can sit in our pyjamas all morning. We have pencilled in a pyjama day once a week. Planned slobbery - a delicious mix of control-freakery and slummy-mummy behaviour.