Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Office Talk

We’re going through a bit of a quiet time at work. We’ve got lots of summer events in late July and August but until then we’ve got some breathing space. It means however that our daily mid-morning progress meeting which should only be a few minutes at the moment, has been getting longer and longer as we seem to talk about everything OTHER than work. For example, this morning’s meeting lasted an hour and we discussed a whole host of random topics and I still have no idea how each one came up.

For instance, the subject of jeans was discussed and how long it was OK to leave them between washes. One person said she washed everything after wearing it once without exception but most other people said they let denim go a few wears before bunging them in the washing machine. However, one young lady said that she had bought a pair in March that she lives in when she’s not at work and they hadn’t had a first wash yet !!! She couldn’t understand why everyone was ughing and yeuching !!!

Then we moved on to how the supermarket checkout is fast becoming a place of huge stress as the whole packing thing is really difficult to do quickly and there was discussion about whether we should finish filling the bags once the total to pay has been announced, and the reward card has been asked for, and if there is a parking ticket to be validated and if we want cashback, etc or whether we should deal with that first and then continue packing after but then of course the next person’s stuff starts to join yours and that actually whatever you do, the people behind will be tutting and rolling their eyes and adding to the stress factor.

It was then noticed that one person (actually the girl who never washes her jeans) was wearing the same clothes as yesterday and there was much cackling as the group cast guesses on why that should be the case and she maintained that it wasn’t a problem as she always kept spare underwear, a tootbrush, toothpaste, perfume and make up in her desk which generated a whole new discussion about what everyone keeps in their drawers and I was really quite shocked…..

Then the agenda moved on to who everyone would like to look like if they could and it seemed unanimous that the girls want to look like Jennifer Aniston and the boys like David Beckham.

The girl with the unwashed jeans then asked if her new boyfriend was right to make a fuss about the fact that she was taking eight pairs of shoes on a four day minibreak…..????

And finally there was some considerable debate on what it is that makes Come Dine With Me such good viewing.

Oh, and I was allowed a paltry two minutes to assign a new job that had come in and check on the progress of one small event we have on the go at the moment. And then everyone went back to their desks which are clearly full of all sorts of illicit booty.

I did try to be a proper manager during that meeting and maintain pursed lips and disapproving looks and not join in with the laughter or inane chatter but …… I may have failed !

Friday, 25 June 2010

Dress Your Age

A few weeks ago when it was still cold and the sun was refusing to shine, I was rummaging though my wardrobe when at the back I found a skirt that I had forgotten all about because I had grown out of it. I was quite excited seeing it again and I remembered that I hadn’t tried it on since losing all that weight last year. And so I stepped into it and yay, it fit. In fact, without wanting to boast (well OK just a bit) it was slightly loose !!

It’s a lovely black fitted skirt which flares out just about the knee and is very flattering. I wore it with a long black jacket and sheer (not opaque) tights and I have to say, I felt very cute as I looked at myself in the mirror.

However, as I came down the stairs to my darling teenagers who were waiting for me to drive them to school, my son said “Lordy, Ma! you’ve forgotten to put your trousers on” !! I knew what he meant immediately and as I looked in the mirror it did appear as if I had come down in just the jacket, tights and heels !! I asked my daughter if it was that bad and she put her head to one side and looked for a second before judgement and then proclaimed that my skirt was too short for someone my age !!!!????!!!!

All that delight at finding something that fit again evaporated in an instant! I looked a fool. What’s worse an old fool trying to look young !

It’s in the charity bag now.

Thing is, I really want to take it back out. I’ve actually got good legs. They are quite long from the knee to the ankle which gives the impression that I’m showing a lot of leg when I wear a shorter skirt but actually I’m not! It’s not as if I wear miniskirts like my daughter that barely cover her pert little bottom. Maybe though, at my age, shorter flirty skirts are quite simply a no-no.

I’m fortunate that even without the use of botox (yes, really), I look quite a lot younger than I am which is great but it means I’m confused about what to wear. I’m not ready to dress like my mother but I really shouldn’t be dressing like my daughter. Not that I would ever borrow her clothes but she takes mine which suggests what I’m buying for myself is too young. But I shop in mumsy places like Wallis and Monsoon and Marks and I’m careful to buy things that I think are elegant and stylish - not fashionable.

I often see women younger than me dressing like the kids and bizarrely it has the effect of adding on decades. Teenage clothes don't make you look sexy - they just make you look old. I know that much.

The women who look great are the ones who dress in the way that’s best for them and I always thought that's what I did. Even though I’m slimmer than I was, I know I can’t wear tight skimpy clothes in the hope they’ll make me look curvaceous. I’ve always known that clothes that fit well and hint at what’s underneath are much more flattering for an older woman.

I have a confidence in my body and my sexuality now that I never had before but I still know that doesn’t make it OK to wear a mini-skirt. But goddammit, the skirt in the charity bag isn’t a miniskirt, just slightly shorter than I normally wear.

Oh bugger it! I’m off to rescue that skirt and whatsmore as the sun is shining brightly today, I’m going to wear my short white skirt…….with bare legs !!! So there.

If I’m going to do this getting old thing, I might as well do it disgracefully!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Finding The One

A friend of mine came round for dinner on Saturday night, with her new man.

I met Mandy over twenty years ago when she was going out with one of Ewan’s closest mates. We got on really well together and when she dumped Michael, because he had the audacity to ask her to marry him, we stayed friends.

I always thought she had made a big mistake, as Michael is lovely. He was devastated when they broke up but about a year later he met someone else who he married and they went on to have three beautiful children. Splitting up with Mandy was the best thing that could have happened to him as he found a woman who totally adores him.

Mandy always told me that she didn’t regret her decision but I knew it hit her hard when we told her he was getting married and then, each time she found out he’d had another baby. But she said the reason she didn’t want to marry him was because he wasn’t The One and she didn’t want to just settle. I couldn’t understand it because she acknowledged that he was thoroughly gorgeous and decent and great in bed and kind and generous and that in fact there was nothing wrong with him but she felt he was second best to what she was looking for and that she wouldn’t know what that was until she found it.

Of course, deep down, I knew what she meant. Ewan and Michael are very similar and although I was aware from the start that Ewan wasn’t The One it didn’t matter because on paper he had everything I was looking for and I wasn’t convinced that I would ever find a better fit. And he loved me and I found him incredibly attractive and attentive so unlike Mandy, I did settle – I wasn’t brave enough to do anything else.

And as the years went by and I watched Mandy, I knew I had done the right thing. She drifted in and out of relationships, desperately lonely but desperate not to put up with anyone that wasn’t right.

The longest relationship she had lasted about five years. He was a television presenter and we all thought he must be the one but while they were away on holiday she suddenly announced that this wasn’t what she wanted and it had to end before she found herself in a rut. He told us later that he had a ring in his pocket and had found the perfect spot to propose and had been waiting until the last day of their holiday to do just that. I was heartbroken on her behalf but she just got up, dusted herself down and got on with life, only slightly stunned when within the year, he married an ex-girlfriend.

Once she hit her forties, she found it incredibly hard. Everything (and it seemed, everyone) was telling her that she was getting older and the longer she left it the less chance there would be to have the family she so wanted and that she shouldn’t be so “picky”. But if anything she seemed to be more resolute in her desire to hold out for true love.

She often told me that she would know him when she met him. That her soul would recognise her perfect mate. It sounded like a bad song to me. She wanted what her parents had before her mother died. And I have to admit that when I met them at Mandy’s big fortieth birthday party, they were so adorable together. Very close…still holding hands and still looking at each other when something made them laugh. I did think that was very special.

She’s forty eight now and recently she told me that she had given up all hope of having children and that she was frightened of growing old alone and that increasingly she had been thinking of past relationships and wondering if she had been foolish in letting them go so easily. But even in that conversation she said she knew the right man was out there.

And reader, I have to tell you – I think she’s found him!

She brought Hugh round on Saturday night and he is indeed, wonderful. They only met last month but they have seen each other practically every day and they look like a couple who have been together for years. Very easy in each other’s company and the way he looks at her made my heart melt. His hand on her back or the occasional touch of her face and her pure radiance in his company which I have NEVER seen in all the time that I have known her was just so moving. And I think it touched Ewan too because he, in turn, was very attentive to me, kissing me on the top of the head as he passed by to take the dishes out, taking my hand as he asked if I wanted him to do the coffee. In fact, he does that sort of thing all the time and I guess I have always just taken it for granted. But Hugh pointed it out when we were talking about relationships and said that we were clearly a special couple as twenty years together hadn’t stopped the obvious affection and that he hoped, twenty years from now, he would still be kissing the top of Mandy’s head…….

I had to disappear off to the loo then to have a quick cry. How lovely that he thinks me and Ewan are special. How stupid am I to think that we’re not. Maybe I did settle for Ewan but I realise now, that’s because he WAS the right man. For all his faults, he is so perfect for me. No one else would have put up with me for all these years the way he has.

I’m so pleased that Mandy has finally found The One after all this time but it’s only dawning on me now, how lucky I am, that I found mine twenty years ago.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Did You Know

From time to time, I like to do a meme. They are a good way of focusing the mind and readers could find out something they didn’t know before. It’s also something any of you are free to take and use but I’m not going to tag anyone. Most of all though, it’s something to post when you can’t think of a single other thing to write about……

First memory
When I was little I had a childminder who took me on when I was less than a year old. She had a dog called Carly and apparently we were inseparable. She used to follow me around and there are some gorgeous black and white photos of the two of us together. I think my first memory is of her barking when I fell over in the back garden and started crying. She was adorable.
Religious faith
I was christened when I was a baby and it was important to me that I married in a Church and that I had my children christened and that my father had a Christian funeral. But I don’t go to Church regularly except on Christmas Day and maybe at Easter. I do find though, that when I’m on my own and see a Church open, I like to go in and spend some time in quiet meditation. I’m not clever enough to argue the point but I do believe that there is a higher power. Someone looking out for us. It’s an easy thing to shout down though and people often have when I have admitted this so I tend to keep quiet. It seems that most religions spread the same message of love and forgiveness and that can’t be a bad thing to follow.
Best friend
I don’t have one and I think that might be the root of my issues. I can’t seem to allow myself to get that close to any one person even though I surround myself with lots of people. I suppose my husband is my closest friend and increasingly, my daughter who recently I have been getting on so well with and who is turning out to be one of the funniest people I know.
Beauty routine
I’m a bit lax really. I don’t cleanse, tone and moisturise as often as I should although I seem to have gathered a collection of lavish, expensive products for the job. It’s easier just to wash my face with soap and water and then slap on loads of Nivea. I don’t wear that much make up during the day so that when I put lots on to go out, I feel dramatically different !
Best trait
I think that basically I am a kind, compassionate person and I know people are drawn to me because I am a good listener. I also have a loud laugh which people love to hear if they have just made a pathetic joke !!
Worst trait
Probably that loud laugh! And a seriously bad temper.
Blair babe, glam Cam
Oh per-lease !! Give me strength – there has to be another choice…..
Biggest regret
There are probably loads but I learnt long ago that there is no point dwelling on them. The most successful people seem to be the ones who learn from their mistakes and refuse to wish their life was any different.
Cat or dog person
Because of Carly, I always thought I was a dog person but when I was a teenager a very haughty ginger cat decided to adopt us. He just stalked in one day and stayed and surprisingly my mother let him. I think she recognised something of herself in him. Everything was on his terms. He came and went as he pleased, gave affection if he so chose and seemed to get pissed off and impatient very quickly and for no real reason. He was a complete pain in the arse….and I loved him to bits. He disappeared about three years after he first pitched up and we learnt that actually he really belonged to the family across the road who took him with them when they moved.
Last got drunk
Saturday, at a Come On Engerland party – shameful !
High maintenance
Uhmm…… have you not read this blog?? Of course I am - BIG TIME !!!
Backpacker or designer suitcases
Did you not read my last answer?? Definitely not backpacker – if it hasn’t got ensuite facilities and fluffy towels, I’m not interested !!
What clothing makes you feel good
Anything that makes me think I look good …..and I love it if I find something old that suddenly fits again!!
Signature look
Usually black trousers or skirt, with a colourful top and heels – very boring!
City or country living
I couldn’t live anywhere where there are no street lights!
Phone or text
I use the phone too much at work so I try to avoid it all other times and I hate talking into a mobile. I seem unable to do that quietly and still shout ….in that Dom Joly fashion!
Won the lottery what would you do
I fantasise about this all the time. Pay off debts, make sure the children have what they need, give up my job and find a worthy charity who could benefit from my experience and some of my new found fortune!
I don’t play though so I’m not quite sure how that will happen …….

Friday, 11 June 2010


Today my husband said that he can't remember buying any underwear in the twenty odd years that we have been married. I concede he may be correct as that may be something I have been doing ......

Is that so weird??

Monday, 7 June 2010

A Taste Of India

My nephew, well actually Ewan’s nephew as it his brother’s son, got married at the weekend.

I feel like Daniel is mine as he was only about seven when Ewan and I got together and I fell in love with him straight away as he was and still is, soooo cute. He often stayed with us during the school hols when he was little as both his parents worked away a lot and he went to a boarding school. As a result we are very close and Sasha and Kyle look up to him as their complete and ultimate hero. He is such a gentleman and I marvel at how perfect he is in every way – gorgeous looking (like a model), clever (he’s a doctor) and very affectionate and caring. I absolutely adore him and am very proud to call him my nephew.

He introduced us to Trusha when he was at university. She too was studying to be a doctor and they hit it off straight away. She is an incredibly beautiful Indian girl and they make such a perfect couple. She’s very close to her family and also very sweet and kind. She was worried that her family wouldn’t accept Daniel but of course, when she finally admitted she was seeing him and they met him, they fell in love with him too and gave their blessing. In the same way, I loved her the moment I met her – she is so special.

The wedding was up in York and even though we’re at the start of exam season, we made a weekend of it. On Friday, we spent the day with Dan and had a family evening with him which was lovely and then Saturday was the Big Day. Trusha and her family are Catholics so the wedding was a very traditional church affair. She was probably one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. It was a beautiful service and I think I cried more than Dan’s mum – I’m so pathetic !

It was the reception that made the day though. Trusha’s family spared absolutely no expense. They are clearly very wealthy and so it was held at their stunning home in a jasmine-filled marquee in their huge garden, which smelled exquisite.. Drink was flowing from the point we arrived and I was quite typsy long before we sat down to the meal. Her family were so hospitable and friendly and completely charming. They made sure all of Dan’s family had what we needed and they were also very entertaining. All the women were just stunning in their beautiful, colourful and vibrant, silk sarees and I felt very boring in my pale pink outfit. We were sitting at a table with Ewan’s sister and vile husband and Trusha’s aunt and uncle and their families and they really put us to shame as they are clearly very close and see a lot of each other.

And boy, did they know how to drink. Trusha’s aunt, Preeti, kept coming back from the bar with large measures of scotch and she didn’t seem at all affected whereas Ewan and myself were really quite drunk but desperatly trying to be well-behaved, although I couldn't stop giggling!!

There were lots of chidren and young people there and so we lost Sasha and Kyle very early on but they had a ball too. I just have to hand it to Trusha’s family as there was course after course of the most beautiful indian food (and boring bland English food for people like Ewan’s brother-in-law who “can’t stand” anything spicy !) and they insisted we tried everything which we did because it was all just gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve tried at Indian restaurants.

It was just a fantastic wedding and I think Indian families really know how to have a good time. The English side just came across as boring and actually, quite ignorant. I was speaking to Trusha’s mother, who is lovely, and while we were chatting, Dan’s gran (his mother’s mum) came over to say that she was having a lovely time and then she put her hand on Nisha’s arm and said “we knew what to expect about your culture because we watched ‘Bride and Prejudice’ last week and (…wait for this!) we went to Barbados a couple of years ago” !!!! Nisha just smiled and gave her a hug but I was deeply embarrased. What must they think of us ??

We didn’t leave until the early hours of the morning and we were surrounded by the London contingent of Trusha’s family who were insistent that we come to their regular parties as we are now part of the family. I feel so flattered by that. They were all such lovely, warm, kind people who look out for each other.

I want to be an honourary Indian !

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Walking In The Dark

So last week, I went off to the Peak District with team leaders from our Glasgow and Manchester offices that were part of the election events that we were involved with, to talk about what went well and what didn’t and how we provide an even better service in the future.

In addition we ran some obligatory team building exercises as well. I didn’t have to take part in those but the last one was a midnight walk from A to B with just one map, a compass and a couple of torches. After a fabulous dinner and a few drinks in the bar, I decided I would join them as it was a great group and we were all having such a laugh. It wasn’t too arduous. Several bottles of wine between us all took away any fear of the dark!

As we were ambling along, I was enjoying a chat with Michael from the Manchester office when he suddenly asked me if I could hear what the others were talking about in front of us. He said it was good gossip material and he was surprised it had taken this long to come up and then he shouted over to the girls from the Glasgow office, “Is he still seeing that pretty young thing with the long red hair?” and the girls dropped back and said “No. It’s another broken heart. This one has taken it so bad that she’s leaving and going round the world on her own.” And they started giggling. Bemused, I asked who they were talking about and Michael simply said “Chris Cooper”. It came completely out of the blue and felt like a hard punch in the stomach...

I have done a good job of keeping Chris out of my head all these years. Given that he works for the same organisation as me, it is inevitable that I hear his name at various meetings or see his name on the odd group email but I have never had need to speak to him since…well, since he dumped me. I have sometimes wondered if I might meet him at an event, especially when I’m up in Scotland, but I usually know by the time I go that he is not involved which makes it safe for me to attend. Although deep down at some level, I suppose, I have been wishing I might see him again, even now, after all this time.

Anyway, everyone on this black walk was now talking about him. “You know him, don’t you?” said Michael. I almost wondered then if it was a cruel joke that they had come up with because they had somehow found out about our relationship and were trying to find out more. I stammered that I hadn’t seen him in years but that we had worked together in Australia back in 2004. “Did he try it on with you” asked Heather . “ No !”shrieked Zoe “He wouldn’t. Selina’s well out of his league…..although hang on, he did have a thing with Iona didn’t he....years ago?” “Well that was never proven” said Ben “although it does beg the question why did she then ask him to go to Australia.” “Did they keep sneaking off together?” Eddie asked me as they all laughed loudly.

Suddenly I felt ill. There was a bench nearby and I had to sit down as the others gathered round, concerned. I told them I had a stitch and needed a second. If I wasn’t terrified about making it back alone in the dark, I would have told them all to go on as I didn’t want to hear their idle chatter anymore but as it was, they were all quite happy to plonk themselves on the grass around me and carry on revealing what they knew about Chris’ sordid life.

Over the next half hour, I listened to the group talk about him and I learnt such a lot.

He clearly had got it on with Iona many years ago. Then there was a young Muslim girl who worked briefly in the office and who left broken-hearted and feeling violated because she didn’t even realise he was married and he had promised her all sorts. Then there was a woman he met in New York when he was out on a job there. And then he had a very “serious” relationship with Katie, from our office in London.

And at once, I remembered having a long conversation with Katie in the ladies’ loo a few years ago when I found her crying and it all spilled out that she was having an affair with a married man and that it was made doubly difficult because he lived so far away and that he was going to leave his wife but he just needed to see his daughter into her new school because he was such a loving father but his wife was a bitch and he deserved someone who truly loved him and that’s why what she was doing wasn’t wrong.…….When I caught up with her a few months later she said that it was over as he had dropped her, saying that he loved his wife and couldn’t leave !

And then lately, it had been the girl with the long red hair who had caught Chris’ attention. And now it seems he’s on the prowl again as a young Italian girl is due to start in the Glasgow office for the summer. She’s a real beauty apparently and the group were laughing and taking bets on how long before he managed to bed her.

During the barrage of revelations, Michael did say that he had a drunken conversation with Chris a few years back when he admitted that he was seeing someone and that this one was different and not like any of the rest and that the sex was like nothing he had ever experienced. I sat up then, wondering if maybe, maybe that was me. That I wasn’t one of this long list of conquests but someone important in his life. Because what we had didn’t match what was being talked of here as cheap, nasty gossip. Zoe and Heather asked all the questions that I wanted to know in a bid to find out who it was and it transpired it was ....... Katie. Katie with her short skirts and very high heels. Yes, of course it was Katie. Katie would be very good at the whole sex thing.

As we walked back, I did a brilliant job of pretending to be interested in what the others were saying and laughing loudly so that they would have no suspicions that the Chris talk had so upset me. But as soon as I got into my room, I burst into tears. I think I cried all night as I remembered that time in Australia and how he had played me so perfectly.

I had always thought we had something so special and yet all the time I was just another in a queue of stupid, pathetic women ready to fall for his practised lines. I can’t put into words how I feel at the moment.

I know I’m not deserving of any sympathy as I chose to jump into bed with him, knowing full well I had a husband and family waiting for me at home. But what lured me into his bed, was the pretence that he wanted to be my friend and the promise of his friendship seemed so true and so enticing.

I also know that I am a prize fool and the pain of that is palpable.