Thursday, 20 March 2008

It's Who You Know

I can't believe I spent my teens and twenties railing against 'the system'. You know, the old school tie/old boy's network/ Oxbridge mafia etc that ensured that jobs you never knew existed were given to people who knew the right people. Now that I'm benefitting from it, I think it's wonderful. So far I have three pretty good freelance projects; two from people I know and one that came out of a piece of work I did last year that went nowhere (it was for a local authority). They came back to me this week and said, 'You did a good job. Want another one?'

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


OK I lied. I haven't blogged or written daily pages or filled notebooks with plots and characterisations since I last wrote here. I'm not a writer, because I give up too easily. I love it when I do it, I just don't do it enough. And anyway I'm now looking for a job, which will be interesting enough in itself, given that I haven't worked in an office for nearly 10 years. So the blog title becomes timely and I've decided to chronicle my attempts at finding gainful employment here.

So what are the odds of my finding a job? A headhunter I spoke to yesterday said 'Ferociously difficult.' Is that off-putting enough for you? Obviously I don't just want 'Anyjob', though a few months down the line I may regret putting that phrase into print. I'm in my early 50s and had a successful twenty year career in advertising which I gave up when we moved to the middle of nowhere and I chose to bring up my children. My brain remains intact, except when I can find my specs, which are then found on top of my head....Following the literary maxim of writing what you know, I'd like a job in advertising; I've done it once, I can do it again. But what do I know of advertising today? Well, by and large, it sucks as far as I can see. No one working in the industry is having as much fun as we used to and the ads are not better than the TV programmes they interrupt any more. But it's where I'm going to start. So my next work of fiction will be the CV......

Thursday, 3 January 2008

New Year, New You

Can I really have had nothing to say for nearly 3 months?

Well, I guess the answer must be yes, though I have been thinking a hell of a lot instead. The prospect of imminent bankruptcy, loss of the beloved home and a future life of penury weighed rather heavily on my mind at the back end of 2007. It also dampened my enthusiasm for writing anything. But I did ponder on my response to this crisis and have surprised myself by how sanguine I am able to be. The Buddhist approach is working; namely I can't change the circumstances but I can change how I respond to them. A year ago I would have scoffed in my own face at such new-age twaddle, but the more I say it to myself the more I believe it. I can either get suicidally depressed at the turn my life has taken or I can go with the flow and change what I can and accept the rest. I'm surprised by how easy this is and feel quite optimistic about 2008 despite no rational reasons for being so.

I'm also going to write more.

Monday, 8 October 2007

So Quiet

It's been just over a week now and nothing has filled the space that's remained, that small honey-shaped hole that's been growing since she left. My laundry isn't infiltrated by impossibly small and rainbow-coloured knickers; my fridge is no longer a repository for wheat-free snacks and sugar-free Red Bull; the kitchen doesn't vibrate to the boom 'n bass of Basement Jaxx and there is no fair and sweet-smelling head touching mine on the sofa as we swoon over Dr McDreamy on Gray's Anatomy.

My baby's gone to Uni.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Generation Gap

Between the ages of fourteen and twenty I discovered that defunct state, The Generation Gap.

There was nothing my parents, particularly my father, said or did that I didn't jump on and trash in my sneering, holier-than-thou, perfectly accented English. More importantly, I was able, with alarming ease, to wind my father up to a sclerotic rage. My clothes, the music I listened to, the magazines I read, my espousal of Chinese communism and my devotion to Jane Fonda in her Hanoi Jane phase; all flipped his switch. I goaded him at every meal with tales of poor miners dying of pneumonoconiosis, of state-sponsored phone-tapping, of a brutal police force. You'd think we were living in Argentina instead of Stockport. In the meantime he continued to send his hard-earned money to my private, fee-paying school in an effort to transform me into an English young lady, as opposed to the foul-mouthed, aggressive little Balkan I so obviously was. I was a monster; it was a game. Everyone was playing it.

But eventually I left home, went to University, occupied the Dean's office for a few weeks and then got over myself. Throughout this period I never stopped loving my parents and was full of admiration for the good life they had managed to create for themselves and me, in exile, through hard work and talent. But they were my parents, out of touch with the 60s and 70s and so, well, old.

Fast-forward thirty odd years and here I am with my own clutch of teenagers and I find myself wondering what we could ever really argue about. Yes, OK, there's the bedroom situation (How do you know it's a bedroom, if you can't see the bed?); the staying out late fiascos ('I did get to the bus stop on time, but they moved it, honestly....the bus just never came.'); and the endless wheedling about money. But really we like and love each other and share similar views about everything. We listen to the same music, read the same books and I wear jeans just like them. And now my daughter, about to go off to Uni, has asked me to be her Facebook friend. And then one of her friends asked me too......I don't know whether to be secretly thrilled that I'm a mildly 'cool' mum or to feel concerned that I have never been on the receiving end of the appalling behaviour I so clearly deserve.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


I've been thinking a lot lately about lovely female friends of mine who have been on the receiving end of appalling behaviour by their male partners and the pain and anguish it causes. A few of them have made the big leap and left, absorbing the consequences such action can have on kids, living arrangements, finances etc. Hats off to you ladies....You know you've made the right decision.

But it also reminded me of my Dad who had his own unique remedy to this kind of behaviour. I preface this story with 2 points:

1. Not all Serbs are genocidal mass-murderers
2. Never cross a Serb

About 25 years ago I was engaged to a loathsome man, though of course, I didn't think so at the time. Five months before our supposed wedding, I found him in bed with a friend - I use that word advisedly. I kicked him out of my house and life, but discovered that the sense of betrayal was not so easily eradicated and after about 2 weeks I thought I was literally going to die of a broken heart. My Dad called and said, 'Come home for a while. We'll go shopping.' He was a man way ahead of his time. So we're standing at the make-up counter at Finnegans in Wilmslow (now WAG-land central) and I'm holding several bags of emotional retail therapy in my arms, when suddenly Dad looks at me and says (in a heavy Eastern European accent),

'We could finish him for good.'
'What?' I say
'I could fix it.'
'That bastard. Nobody does this to my daughter. We could make it difficult for him to walk again. I know people.'

My bottom jaw has dropped slightly and I'm eyeing the permatanned Barbie doll across the counter to check out how much of this she's heard. My Dad has offered to off my fiance, temporarily or permanently, depending on how I feel. For a nanosecond I'm tempted, but then the reality of what he's suggesting and where we are having this conversation hits me and that's when I start to laugh and gasp until the tears are sliding down my cheeks.

'Bloody hell, Dad, this isn't the Godfather. He's not worth it.'

Dad just looks at me and smiles.

Of course, I couldn't resist telling all our mutual friends and eventually the story got round to the loathsome one who I was told spent several years looking over his shoulder when he walked down London streets at night, all alone. The betrayal was awful, oooh but the revenge was sweet and lasted so much longer.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Thanks to Carenza

Who nominated me for a Creative Blogger Award. And who also has the perfect romantic heroine's name: Carenza Hayhoe. If Georgette Heyer was still alive....