When did this start? What am I talking about? What day of the week is it? When did I last wear ‘proper’ shoes or pick up a handbag? What shall I eat tonight/for breakfast tonight/NEXT? What day is tomorrow? ……,
These and other rambled and scrambled thoughts are constantly going through my head at the moment!
I just checked and this is day 11 of the UK’s version of ‘lockdown’ & day 18 of my family’s self-imposed social isolation. I only know this because it was my birthday on March 15th and that was the last time I got anything like dressed-up….Now, that seems like a lifetime away.
I’ve almost forgotten the feeling of hurrying to get ready to go out, ambling around shops or going for a coffee. I’m not looking at the online sites I browse when there’s nothing on Netflix that appeals…. though it has to be said there have been a few Amazon purchases & deliveries, including a bark shredder, and EIGHT bags of Buckwheat…. ordered in error instead of wholemeal strong bread flour! Well it sounds similar doesn’t it? Fortunately Buckwheat makes very good pancakes and with 1/4 wholemeal flour, highly acceptable bread. Phew!!
But let’s face it: LIFE IS WEIRD.
Strangely enough though, there’s a feeling of security- at least for those of us not working on the ‘front-line’. That old saying: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” rings true.
As long as I’m in the 4 walls of my home, I feel safe. Then there’s the silence and the new sounds it brings! Do birds always sing so loudly? Except!!! At certain times there has been a cacophony of chain saws and power-tools… and the distant moan of the power-hose. No wonder the sales of online garden tools are rocketing!
But I’m also all too aware, whilst I’m here in my quiet ‘castle’, not far away people are gasping for their lives and medical staff are working to the point of exhaustion and more. In supermarkets, staff are dealing with a frustrated and often rude public, whilst putting their own health at risk to serve us….
It’s as if there are 2 parallel worlds and we, the ones safely in our homes, will hopefully never have to cross that line into the other chaotic and frightening world.
And everything I read tells me I should be using this time to be creative, learn a new language, keep a diary, de-clutter my wardrobe or read more…. but so far I haven’t had the time -or inclination.
But maybe it doesn’t matter. This is about survival…..,Better go and have a cup of tea and a crumpet whilst I think about being grateful for being here, now.
NO MAKEUP or NATURAL MAKEUP looks can be as hard to apply as stronger makeup looks such as the every-popular “smoky eye”, but of course, most of the time, you just want to create a better look than the real you, to give your confidence a boost and to feel good about yourself.
Then there’s the problem of time. Everyone seems to be rushing around these days, so most of the time you want your makeup look to be achieved in minimal time.
My solution to this is to achieve the max results with minimal products. And, here’s my solution: 5 minutes and 5 products.
Starting off with a good serum foundation, with a protective SPF, I used Bobbie Brown Intensive Serum Foundation Factor 40. This is easy to apply with finger tips, a brush or a sponge, gives good coverage (enough not to need concealer) and importantly offers your skin protection.
Next, under my cheekbones I used a soft, biggish brush to apply PÜR Mineral Glow Illuminating Bronzer 8306 with a soft brush. I also used this in the crease of my eyes.
On my brows I used Rimmel Brow Pro Micro to refine and shape.
I used PÜR Big Look black mascara on my top and bottom lashes….so effective you only need one coat.
On my lips I used Bobbie Brown Crushed Liquid Lip in Hippy Shake and also applied 3 dots to the “apples” of my cheeks, blending with my fingers.
Lastly I applied a dot of PÜR No Filter Primer to my cheekbones, blending upwards and outwards. Then I added another dot to my eye-lids.
This is my ‘go to’ kind of makeup when I haven’t the time or energy to make the effort, but just want to enhance my face and I think you can see from my before and after looks – a bit of effort is definitely worth while!!!
The ultimate classic haircut, the Bob, is once again bang on trend and I’ve embraced it!
I hadn’t had my hair cut or coloured for 4 months, even managing to go through Christmas and New Year without a visit to a hairdresser, but a few weeks ago, my lack of style got to me. I think your hair leads your style image. It doesn’t matter if it’s one length long hair, as long as it’s shiny and healthy. Mine looked “endy” and as I’m lazy when it comes to styling I knew I need the chop!
I toyed with a few styles: a layered mid-length look with a fringe, (very Boho,) a round layered shorter look, a Lob, or a classic one length, bob without a fringe. My lovely friend, TIGI European Session Director, Maria Kovacs, took one look at me and said, “No question! Bob!” So we found a corner in our studio and she cut inches off my hair. This she did by cutting from a centre parting so I can wear my hair parted on both sides or in the middle, and on the side it gives a slight asymmetric look. She styled it with Bed Head After Party and spritzed with Bed Head Headrush…..And I was instantly revived. The compliments haven’t stopped coming since.
In wearing a Bob I’m joining an elite group! The Bob has seen a huge trend resurgence led by Hollywood celebs and looks to be the hair cut of 2020. Straight or waved, ‘Lob’ length or short, the hairstyle of the moment was seen at the 2020 Golden Globes and Oscars on a huge number of stars including Naomi Watts, Greta Gerwig, Zoey Deutch, Reece Witherspoon, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Lucy Boynton.
“The Bob’s timeless!” Maria said, “It’s youthful, chic, and lends itself to many textures. It’s really adaptable too. Anyone can look good wearing the Bob. One of its enduring aspects is that it instantly gives the wearer a new image, without compromise or the fear of losing too much length.
And look who’s worn a Bob! What about Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra? It’s an historical reference..and it’s Elizabeth Taylor!”
But there’s more to the Bob than being stylish as there are underlying links of this on-trend haircut to historical, political and economic changes …and the on-going rise of ‘girl-power’. In fact you could say it’s a symbol of emancipation and freedom, not just an enduring trend.
Nowadays the word ‘empowerment’ has become symbolic with women’s rights, but this evolving movement has been bubbling up since the women first won their political and social freedom during the “roaring twenties”. With an increased number in work, for the first time women had financial freedom, so it’s no surprise that during the 1920s both fashion and hair styles demonstrated women’s emancipation. And, it was during this decade The Bob became widely popular, having first been worn some 10 years earlier by a forward thinking few. It’s even been suggested that perhaps the name ‘Bob” was a reference to the androgyny of the cut itself.
In the early ‘20s The Bob was often ‘Marcel-waved,’ or permed, but in the latter years, the shape became more severe, as famously worn by the Jazz Age icon, actress Louise Brooks. The characters Brooks’ played were rebellious, seductive and showed sexuality, leading to the Bob to be linked to freedom and sensuality that strongly appealed to young female movie-goers of the era.
During the Swinging 60s, the Bob, along with short hemlines and The Pill, again demonstrated the rebelliousness and freedom of women, perfectly worn by fashion designer Mary Quant and model Twiggy. The Bob was part of a style trend that illustrated the power of ‘youth’, and came with a decade of change in social norms with the emergence of new music genres, drug-taking, sexual freedom, political and student uprisings.
In the early 90s women began to gain real power (or so they thought.) The shiny Bob re-emerged as a trend-led hairstyle. From Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham, to Courtney Love and Winona Ryder, women began symbolising a new rebelliousness and a shiny or textured bob was a stamp of their power. And for some, like American Vogue’s Anna Wintour, the Bob has become an enduring style significant with their power and image.
100 years after women first wore the Bob it has re-emerged as a fashion trend. Is this linked to a female empowerment? Women are certainly fighting hard for equal opportunities and equal pay, making their ambitions heard at the highest level. With the ‘Me-Too’ movement they are increasingly standing up for themselves, yet in reality there are still few women in top roles and women are still abused in the work place. Does the Bob signify success or is its androgyny the appeal to women wanting to make their mark in the world?
Which brings the Bob back to me. This isn’t my first generation Bob. I had a permed, curly bob in the mid-80s, a soft layered bob in the 90s followed by a sharp Lob and full fringe. It’s been a while since I’ve returned to this look, but one thing I can say, in all its variations, it’s made me feel as if I can conquer anything, stand up to anyone and definitely rock it!
Have you found your tribe? Do you have a group of friends with whom you share the ups and downs of your life, as soon as they occur; women with whom you can laugh or cry, dance the night away or talk for hours without ever getting bored?
A few years ago I attended a breast cancer charity ball, with a group of women. At a certain point in the evening, and (I should probably add), after several bottles of fizz had been drunk at our table, there was a charity auction, with the usual “prizes” such as signed footballs and celebrity photos, spa days and dining experiences. ‘Just for fun’ we joined in the procedure, sticking our hands up in the early stages before quickly dropping out. Then a villa holiday in the Cevennes, in the south of France, came up. One person on our table stuck her hand up and, with her back to the auctioneer, mouthed: “If we ‘win’ we can go on holiday together!” Before we knew it, the hammer went down. We’d “bought” a holiday!
A few weeks later we were at Gatwick Airport with another bottle of fizz in front of us, (you might find a pattern here,) awaiting a flight to Montpelier. At this early stage, roles quickly emerged. One person had immediately taken upon herself to organize flights and car hire. On arrival in France, another, who had lived in the US and was therefore more experienced driving on the right, championed herself as driver. Another became map-reader and tour guide. A couple of hours later we arrived at our (remote) destination in a tiny village with no shop, café or bar. Not even a bakery. I’d had the foresight to pack enough ingredients to make a pasta dish for dinner so became head chef, as well as finding the villa owner’s wine stash under the stairs…and the other member of the group proved to be the perfect ‘fire-starter’. (It was mid-April and freezing at night in the hills.)
Over the following few days we found easy agreement to a daily schedule with trips around the area and beyond, supermarket visits to buy provisions, (fizz and wine being a priority,) and evenings spent telling stories around the dining table, playing loud music and dancing like no one was watching, (they weren’t really.)
We are actually, all quite different people, doing very different jobs with different characters and in different stages of our lives, but we found a common ground – an ability to feel free and laugh together; that has remained over the ensuing years. That first Spring-time trip away has been on repeat over the last 7 years, usually in slightly warmer places than the Cevennes, but always with the same sense of closeness and appreciation.
Early on in our group friendship we called ourselves “Goddesses”, partly as a joke, but also as an ‘homage’ to one of the group who had recovered from breast cancer. Now each December we have a “Goddess Night” to celebrate ourselves as women. We glam up, exchange small gifts, drink fizz and embrace the importance of having found our special tribe. One year, one of the group bought us all “Goddess” mugs, and every time I drink from mine, I feel thankful and lucky to have found my little tribe.
What’s the opposite of a foot-fetish I wonder? Because I tell you what, I think I have it!!
I don’t like feet and I don’t like people touching my feet. This is partly because I’ve got ticklish feet and quite frankly, if anyone comes near them, I shudder. Of course, I like my feet to look nice, and my nails painted, but each time I have a pedicure I actually have to mentally prepare myself , so as you can imagine, it’s not a regular beauty ritual in my life, even though, when I take the risk and have one, I’m always delighted with the results. My friends all embrace a pedicure at every opportune moment. Me? I stick with a facial, or a manicure.
It’s easy to injure feet too; dropping things on them so the nails go black and eventually fall off, banging them – goodness they’re easy to break aren’t they, wearing ill-fitting shoes or high, high heels and getting awful blisters, not to mention all the horrible fungal infections feet seem to attract. Urgh!
But that’s not all! I absolutely hate that my second toe is longer than my ‘big toe’. Now I know this isn’t particularly uncommon, but still! When I Googled this ‘unsightly-ness’ it said it is often called a ‘Royal’ or ‘Greek’ toe. Quite attractive I thought. But no! It’s clearly a freakish thing, the result of the first metatarsal, behind the big toe, being short compared to the second metatarsal, (if you know what I mean. So I’m disfigured too!! )
Of course I want beautiful feet with soft skin and pretty, perfectly painted nails, so I’m determined to start a new regime. This is why I was excited to find a lovely creamy foot-cream, called LOTIL FOOT CREAM. It’s really nourishing and you get the feeling from the very first use that it’s softening, soothing and moisturising the skin, yet it’s also easily absorbed. It’s got Aloe Vera and rosemary extract, both known for their healing properties. And I’m obviously very slow to the game, as I Googled LOTIL and found out the company is over 100 years old.
Plus! As my husband is a Type 1 diabetic, I was also interested to see it’s recommended by Diabetes UK as well as by chiropodists, podiatrists and dermatologists. So now I’ve got him using it too, (which quite frankly is miraculous) and by the time we go off on a little holiday for our anniversary in a few weeks, I’m sure we’ll both have the softest smoothest skin. Who knows – I might even have a pedicure before I go!
I bought LOTIL FOOT CREAM online from Weldricks Pharmacy and it was on special offer at £4.49 (usual price £5.38) Bargain!
Does it buzz with the latest BBC or Sky news when you’re in an important meeting, or flash at you when you’re at dinner or the theatre?
We know Constant Communication creates stress, but how do we stop?
When my mother was 80 she had a massive heart attack. Fortunately, she was revived by the cardiac team at her local hospital, but when I finally arrived at the hospital the consultant said to me: “We had to fight to save your mother, if this happens again what should we do?” My response was: “Is her brain affected? If not, then I suggest you allow her to make the decision.” (In fact she had a “living will”, but I didn’t mention that.) Anyway I am going off-track……..She recovered, but the attack left her with heart failure and over the ensuing years she had heart attacks every couple of months. I became constantly fearful of the phone ringing, and a voice announcing, usually in the early hours of the morning, that she’d had yet another attack. I developed migraines and wouldn’t go anywhere without a fully charged mobile phone. I slept with 2 phones on my bedside table. 12 years later, my mum passed away, after a few weeks of fast-deteriorating health. I had grieved many times over those years and though of course, I was very sad, one thing immediately changed and greatly improved my own well-being: I was no longer fearful of the ringing phone.
……But I am not telling you this story because I want you to feel sorry for me, nor is it about grief; it’s about our reliance on modern technology. Where once a racing pigeon brought news and happy and sad events were shared via “snail-mail” or a telegram, now it’s emails, What’s App, Messenger, Instagram DMs, texts and mobile phones that keep us constantly in the know 24/7. And let’s face it, that’s not all good. I’m not talking about the 7 year old fixated with a games App, or a Gen Z watching Youtube Vloggers, or Millenials constantly looking at ASOS and buying stuff they don’t need, I’m talking about me, (us) – Baby Boomers, for whom digital communication could be managing us and our lives. It’s about checking your teen or twenty-something’s What’s App when they’re late home to see what time they last checked in. (Agreed! This can of course reduce your stress.) It’s about going on holiday and looking weird as you take photos with your I-Pad, or wondering why your ‘bestie’ hasn’t responded to your Message for 3 days, or why the colleague who sits across the office hasn’t replied to your email, (and when she does, she says, “Why didn’t you Skype me?”) Oh, the dilemmas of modern life! And my pet hate: people who walk along the street talking very loudly into their phones and looking as if they are talking to themselves.
So come on………Who looks at their mobile phone the second they wake up? (Guilty.) Who takes pictures of the food they cook or eat in restaurants? (Me.) Who get’s stressed when they’ve dressed up for something special and no one will take a quick picture? (Uh! That could be me too.) Who curates their life on IG (OK!) Who gets in a panic if they leave the house and forget their phone? (Confused, but not actually fearful in my case.)
Last week on the last night of my holiday, we were in a restaurant and unusually for me, I was staring at my husband and the wall behind him, instead of the vista of the entire restaurant and the possibility of watching people, but then my husband became fixated not on me, but by a couple on the table behind us. Throughout their meal, the man was playing on his phone whilst the woman sat there, clearly bored. “Obviously married a long time,” was my husband’s theory. Where once people watched television or read a paper (both dreadful habits,) whilst eating, now they play with their phones.
These days there’s so much talk about mindfulness, purpose, living a meaningful life…. I could go on …..but just maybe, the secret to improving our lives is as simple as walking on a beach or through a wood, or even exploring a city, and seeing everything through your own eyes, not filming ourselves and sharing the experience, just listening to the sounds: be it waves, birdsong or the sounds of traffic – and appreciating what you hear. Perhaps it’s about simple conversation for conversation’s sake, listening to someone else, for no reason apart from allowing them to speak, or sitting quietly and reading a proper book with real pages to turn. ……….All this sounds easy doesn’t it? But would you try it? Shall we give it a go?……….This, by the way, is a lesson to myself.
My father’s family were Welsh Presbyterians who had all “signed the pledge” not to touch alcohol. My aunt and her husband in particular wouldn’t even have alcohol for “medicinal reasons” and when my mother once innocently added a ‘drop of Whisky’ into some hot lemon and honey, when my uncle was ill, all Hell broke loose! Whilst my father wasn’t quite so strict in his beliefs, alcohol just wasn’t on the agenda in our house, although weirdly he made parsley wine to ‘show’ in the Wine Club his office ran. In our sideboard there was a mysterious selection of never drunk bottles: Warnick’s Advocaat, De Kuyper Cherry Brandy and Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. My mum had a bit of a fancy for the latter and would very occasionally have a little glass if she was feeling very daring, but I can’t remember the two of them ever sitting there of an evening with a drink. There were no beers in the fridge and the only time I ever remember having wine, was maybe for someone’s birthday or Christmas, when a bottle of sweet Sauterne would appear at the table, never, I hasten to add to be finished in one sitting!
Being brought up in such a strict household, (I also had to be home hours earlier then my friends,) you’re going to go one of two ways – be law-abiding or rebel! By the time I was sixteen I was a member of the one and only night-club (for over18s only of course,) in Weymouth, where I lived and my ‘tipple’ was usually Cinzano & Lemonade. I was supposed to get the last bus home, but as that left the town centre at 10.20, I almost never caught it. I’d sneak home around midnight thinking my parents were asleep, but my father’s total silence the next day, assured me I was wrong. (We had a lot of quiet Sundays.)
However until I left home to go to ‘uni’ in London, I never actually got drunk.
Within months I had a rugby-playing boyfriend and was drinking pints! The only time in my life I’ve ever drunk Bitter! Student life of course, can revolve around alcohol –even when you don’t have much spare cash. My friends and flat-mates proved to have a much stronger ability to hold their liquor than me. When it was one friend’s birthday, three of us consumed a bottle of Sweet Martini, one of Dry Martini and a bottle of Reisling, plus a chocolate cake. The next morning they banged on my door, up and ready for breakfast, I’d vomited most of the night and when I woke up the thin mattress on my single, hall of residence bed, was hanging off and there was a bottle of cleanser smashed on the floor. Even worse, was the night before we were to give in our final theses, when four of us, consumed a bottle of cheap Spanish rum. The other three managed to go to hand in their theses, (though apparently smelling like petrol) and one of them took mine. I remained in bed, head spinning and puking all day.
I have various other tales to tell of equal horror and I’m not proud. A lost day in Amsterdam, after drinking beer and one Bailey’s, (I couldn’t even eat Bailey’s ice-cream for years,) drunk dancing in ski boots in a mountain bar and not remembering how I got back to my hotel, even breaking a bone in my foot in a Portuguese bar on a girly trip (only a few years ago). But when I found out I was pregnant, I gave up drinking, not just for nine months, but three years, apart from a very occasional glass of wine with dinner. My theory was that if my child was ill or had an accident I wanted to be able to drive to A&E. Eventually I gave up worrying and a few glasses of Champagne at a dinner, gave me a hangover to be reckoned with, and resulted in my three year old picking up the phone to her grandmother the next morning and announcing that neither of her parents could come to the phone because they’d got drunk!
In the 90s, like many people in that decade, business was done over long lunches always with wine and I would regularly share a bottle of wine with a beauty editor or advertising manager. Over the years however, I’ve learnt I don’t need alcohol to join in the party. I’ve also mainly lived ‘off the grid’ – always an expensive taxi ride away from nightlife and offering to be the ‘designated driver’ is a good get out clause to keep sober.
And, over the last year or so I’ve found myself drinking less and less. I partly blame Prosecco. I used to travel to Italy a lot and I remember Prosecco as an almost colourless liquid with a clean, beautiful taste, totally unlike the yellowy fizz sold in supermarkets for six or seven quid. Half a bottle and I wake up in a hot sweat with palpitations and the next morning, a raging headache. My daughter’s actually allergic to the stuff and that doesn’t surprise me one bit.
It wasn’t long ago; we’d have a glass of wine or two mid-week and the same at weekends and maybe ‘go out for a drink’. These days I’m more likely to choose a non-alcoholic cocktail or tonic water. Talking of which, let’s mention Gin! I’ve missed out on the whole Gin obsession. I might have one, very occasionally, but I’m unlikely to go through all the flavours on the shelf!
So it seems I’m joining Generation Z, who reportedly drink little or no alcohol, and an increasing number of celebs. Waking up with a clear head is great, having clear skin is a bonus and from a health perspective I feel little or no alcohol is good for me. So as with my eating, I’m definitely a “flexitarian”, with sobriety my choice, and I’m not quite ready to call myself a non-drinker.
So these days, giving up alcohol for Dry January isn’t an issue for me at all. In fact there are really only two issues. Firstly I don’t like many soft drinks. I’ve never favoured fruit juices or Coca-Cola or Sprite, maybe occasionally a Ginger Beer and you can’t drink fizzy water all night. Secondly it’s peer pressure. Friends just don’t like it. But I don’t want to change my friends for a load of tee-totallers……they might end up being like my aunt and uncle and that, I’m sure, would turn me back on the ‘hard stuff’!
“All you need is love,” sang The Beatles and of course, it is a very precious thing to fall in love, be in love and be loved, but am I the only one who is turned cold by Valentine’s Day and chubby little Cupid with his bow and arrow?
Firstly let’s get things straight; I do not like red roses. Pink Roses, white roses, even yellow roses, but not red. They do nothing for me; in fact more than that, I associate them with death, horror movies and Dracula!
Secondly I do not want to go out to dinner at an inflated price, where I have to eat the ‘Valentine’s special’ meal with a cheap glass of Prosecco included and be showy about the love I feel for my husband. Yes restaurateurs, I realise this isn’t the busy season and you have to do promotions, but please, promote new menus, new ideas, your new house wine, not love!
Thirdly, it isn’t inclusive and surely with everyone focused on equality, that makes Valentine’s Day very wrong in today’s society.
The office chat involving plans for Valentine’s special events, boasting about getting breakfast in bed, fabulous presents, amazing floral bouquets and a surprise trip away, are all very well if you’re the one receiving these fabulous things, but what about the poor ‘sod’ in the corner whose boyfriend or husband forgot, who just got separated, divorced, or worse, or whose partner just doesn’t ‘do’ Valentine’s… I say, give these people a break. Keep quiet with your boasting just enjoy the moments in private.
Then there are the Valentine’s cards! Have you ever sent or received one that was actually tasteful? They’re either so sickly you want to vomit or contain a totally ‘not funny’ at all message. Cards of course, aren’t just for us grown-ups, they start being sent between kids at an early age and I clearly remember not getting one, when my best friend did, and consequently feeling very unloved and ugly. Surely that’s not right? Worse still of course, is the awful occasion when your dad sends you a card. And, you open it, signed with just a ‘?’, and feel joyous and popular and then the next day he admits it was him, not the captain of the football team as you had imagined. Major fail!
Today with social media, communication has no boundaries, and I for one, think Valentine’s messaging could be on the verge of dangerous! So many people are lonely, fragile; suffer from depression, eating disorders and insecurity, that over-flowing demonstrations of false love can never be a good thing.
So by all means indulge in the Marks & Spencer Love Sausage, and tell your partner you love them, but it doesn’t have to be special, because your Valentine should be the love of your love everyday, not just on February 14th.
It seems to have drifted by me without inspiring so much as a thought of participation in any kind of “-uary”. …..and I’ve also had to admit to myself that I’d become the blogger who doesn’t blog …But I’m back!
But let’s go back a few weeks. Were you, like me, innocently thinking throughout December, with a couple of weeks off work in front of you, that you were going to be able to recharge your energies fresh for the new year? And then of course, reality struck and it never happened? This certainly happened to me and I’ve made a mental note, that I for one, should put that whole idea out of my mind in the future..
So what about you? Have you participated in some “-uary” this year? Have you joined a gym or given up your nightly glass of vino or become a vegan?
There have been years when I’ve done ‘dry January’, happily staying home and refusing social invites. There have been other years when I’ve done a January Detox….most famously giving up: dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, and gluten all in one go. After a couple of days I had a raging headache and felt so terrible, I completely missed driving into a supermarket parking space, crashing into the wing of another car, and making my daughter fear I was having a stroke! I waited by the other car until the owner appeared, and luckily for me, she smiled and said: “Don’t worry at all, it’s just an f-ing Skoda!!” The detox did work though, I lost 14lbs in 4 weeks, and once my body got used to being ‘deprived’, I went into a super-energy, fast-brain few weeks…..But it was impossible to keep up-unless I wanted to become a hermit – or find myself a new group of friends equally happy to deprive themselves!
So what should we be doing at this time of year? I think it’s a time to plan your year:, get your budgets in order, search for holidays, de-clutter your home, go through your wardrobe, watch box-sets, have the odd chocolate, and glass of wine… and revive yourself…..Spring is around the corner. Happy days!
The thrill of Christmas brings with it the excitement and anticipation, the planning and organization, the parties and the family gatherings, and sometimes also the fear and loneliness sparkling lights and gaudy shop windows can’t eradicate.
Every year, as Christmas approaches I have very mixed feelings. The excitement I get each November when I see the ice rink and Christmas lights appear outside the Natural History Museum in London, the beautiful windows of Fortnum & Mason and the stunning lights in Regent Street and Piccadilly, are sometimes overshadowed by memories of Christmases past when all wasn’t as I’d hoped and dreamed.
It all started when I was a small child – I had a distinct fear of Father Christmas coming into my house! In fact, it was the only day of the year I liked my bedroom door to be firmly shut. In the end, whilst still quite young, my mum told me he wasn’t real! Can you imagine? Then, I had a few years when illness struck me as soon as the school holidays began, and there were several Christmases spent with a strict aunt and uncle who had an Oxfam box on the mantelpiece and if I didn’t say “please” and “thank you” I was reprimanded and had to put some of my pocket-money in the box. I was an only child and hanging out with distinctly un-fun family members left me dreading the whole concept of “festivities”.
This all changed when I had my own daughter and made every effort to have the house over-flowing with friends and family, good food and plenty of fizz. I can still close my eyes and see my daughter in her red Christmas dress joyously ripping the wrapping paper and climbing into boxes. Having my own family was perfect. Or was it? ……
I always recall the time when everyone I worked with was going for a drink after work, but I had to hurry to get home. As I rushed through the jostling Christmas crowds in Covent Garden I remember being struck by a distinct feeling of being alone, even though I was happy to be going home. It was just strange, not to be laughing and joking with all the people spilling out of the bars, not to be part of their celebration. It really struck me how awful it would be to truly be alone at this time of year.
However, worse was to come. One year, my much-loved father-in-law passed away in the November and a few days before Christmas my own, equally loved mum, had a massive heart attack. The family was at my house and I was juggling my time between looking after them and driving over 2 hours to visit my mother in hospital. Happily, she lived for another 12 years, but unbelievably had a heart attack on Christmas Day or Boxing Day more times than I like to recall. We tried hard to prevent it happening, aiming to make the day as stress free as possible, but it left my daughter with a massive fear of Christmas and bad memories of spending Christmas nights in A&E!
It’s not all doom and gloom! We’ve had some amazing Christmases skiing in the Alps, others filling our rambling house with friends and having impromptu disco’s in the kitchen, and last year we were in California.
Then this year, my daughter had a health scare and I found I was falling into my ‘fear of Christmas’ head-space, but last week she had good news and this weekend I was finally able to decorate my home feeling hopeful and happy, have close friends round for a Christmas celebration and rather late in the day, write some Christmas cards.
Why am I telling all this? I guess because I want you to stop for a moment and think of others, who perhaps cannot afford to have a fantastic Christmas, who are homeless or sick, but also to know if you are not a Christmas lover, it’s OK. Not everyone in the world is celebrating, some people are working, and others are just ignoring the day. The most important thing is to be happy knowing in just over a week’s time we can get back to normal!!!