Ten things you really need for your new baby (and ten you don’t – necessarily)

10 Jul Sleeping baby

Are you about to give birth to a baby and plan on raising it? Having seen yet another list of baby must-haves that contains stuff I’ve never even seen in real life, I’m writing a blog that’s been brewing in my head for a while: what you really need for a new baby, and how to get it all for under a grand – or nothing. Continue reading 

Beloved comedian kidnapped by Harry Potter villains

5 May Wizarding_World_of_Harry_Potter_Castle

Fans of comedian popular left wing comedian Eddie Izzard were stunned yesterday as he appeared to be willingly out in public with a self-confessed neo-Conservative[1]. Continue reading 

The Woman Who Daren’t Have an Opinion

27 Aug Screenshot fromBetter Together ad. Overwritten: Please. They'vegot Paul andthekids.
by Ariadne and Lizzie Cass-Maran

A friend of Lizzie’s on Twitter remarked on the prevalence of the language of abuse in the No campaign, in particular in the shockingly sexist Better Together video. On being challenged to defend this accusation, the two of us wrote the following.

What is the ‘language of abuse?’

First, it might be handy to define what ‘the language of abuse’ means. ‘Language’ is communication; it doesn’t boil down to simple vocabulary. It’s not the same thing as vocabulary of violence; it’s not saying ‘I’m gonny chib ya’. In fact, quite the opposite. The language of abuse is emotional abuse, and blackmail. There are a few articles below giving a bit more detail on this. Continue reading 

Birthing Dora

3 Jul This stayed with me throughout!

Contains graphic detail and images of nudity. Probably NSFW.

An epic tale wherein a scuppered plan needn’t mean loss of control.

What I wanted from my birthing experience

I wanted the birth of my baby to be a pain-free, pain relief-free, non-interventionist birth. I wanted it to be relatively quick, and straightforward, in my own home. It didn’t turn out quite that way.

But beneath wanting that were the reasons I wanted that. It was important to me to keep the motivations topmost in my mind. I basically wanted to avoid experiences I’d seen others have: Continue reading 

How I Invalidated Anyone Who Isn’t A Mother

4 Apr
    My main problem with the dreadful season finale of HIMYM: its appalling value-setting that only having children makes you a worthwhile person.

    I had many problems with the season finale of How I Met Your Mother, most of which have been well-documented elsewhere. I have no problem with the mother dying per se (a bit cheesy though), but the bizarre fast-forward timeline, after a whole series where time was slowed down, smacked of bad writing, I will never forgive them for breaking up Robin and Barney.

    Alternative ending

    I thought series 8 was the final series. At the end, I marvelled at the beautiful subtlety of that ending – though you haven’t yet seen Ted meet the mother, it’s all laid out throughout the series arc is flash-forwards, and the story has been told. You know how they meet. I will continue to switch off rewatching and declare ‘the end!’ after series 8 a la Phoebe in Friends.

    Lilly giving birthBreed or fail

    But that’s not my main issue. My main issue is that despite a seemingly diverse mix of characters, the show’s finale gives out one message loud and clear: unless you have children, you’re a failure.

    Obviously Ted had kids, that’s kind of the point of the show. Fine. Their mother doesn’t have to stick around long though. The show might have been better titled How I Managed to Have Kids.

    Lilly and Marshall, throughout the process of fastforward, go on to have a further two kids. Lilly is never shown not pregnant, and her career is never discussed again. She’s happy though, of course, and wants everyone to be happy and together and sunshine and daisies. This doesn’t work out because of…

    …Robin. Robin can’t have kids – a genuine tragedy for anyone who wants them, but she didn’t, so it’s not a cause for concern. She does have an internationally fabulous career and enjoys massive success. But she can’t keep friends, because they have children and she doesn’t. She is presented as uptight and miserable, friendless – until she gets her happy ending in the form of getting Ted back – nicely stocked up with a couple of premade children. Then she can have friends again, and be happy. Phew.

    Barney has to be split up from the love of his life, Robin, so the scriptwriters can give him a child, through a drunken end-of-a-chain-of-30 one night stand. It’s fair to assume that he doesn’t know the mother of his child well at all, but still manages a relationship with the child (a girl, of course) that is free of any kind of acrimony. Because he’s a father now, and therefore complete.

    Even fricking Karl, violent bartender of MacLaren’s, is given a kid at the end, so he can finally find happiness. Seriously?

    What’s wrong with having kids?

    I have no problem with children – I’m 8 months’ pregnant with one right now. I expect this to bring me a wonderful sense of joy and satisfaction that is unlike any other. I’m contributing towards the continuation of the human race. But I also expect to maintain a career, and have a whole set of joys and frustrations in my life that spans different parts of it. And I expect anyone who doesn’t want kids to have a different set of joys and frustrations. They’re contributing to the world not being over-populated and to my children having a decent future. It makes me sad that popular shows like HIMYM continue to peddle this misogynist crap.

Billy

6 Mar

A short story, written to be performed at Illicit Ink on 3 March 2013.

I had a boy in my class called Billy. He was a thin wee thing, a bit smaller than the others, and liked dancing. This, it seems inevitably, led to accusations of ‘gay’. I recognised that tune – no-one trusts a man who wants to teach primary school, either. They bullied him something terrible, but it was hard to know what to do. I never saw anything, I never heard anything; I could just tell from the way he was with them: terrified all the time – particularly of Ross Jones, who we all knew as a terrible bully. Ross had been suspended twice. I’d tried to understand why he behaved that way, but I was coming up against a brick wall. I had to concentrate on helping Billy instead. I desperately hoped that one day he’d talk to me, and I could help him. But it was always ‘I left my lunch at home, sir’; ‘I didn’t like those trainers, sir’; ‘I just fell over, sir.’

I was quiet kid myself at school – and I’d have been bullied a lot more if it weren’t that I always got picked for the football team. I didn’t particularly like football, but I’m right for it because I have very long legs. I found out in later life that this is actually down to a genetic condition: Klinefelter’s Syndrome. It causes me all sorts of problems and I have to inject testosterone every day. It also means that I’ll never be a father.

My own father never came to see my football matches. He’d take me out to MacDonald’s, and make all sorts of promises, but they soon fizzled out. The promises and the burgers.

One man came to almost every match, though, and that was the local community policeman. When we won a match he’d ruffle my hair and tell me I’d done well, and I’d feel proud of myself. It’s a memory that’s always stuck with me.

It’s what made it all the worse when I was brought in for questioning.

***

One day, I was headed to the car park when I spied Billy hiding behind the toilet block. He was crying.

“What’s up, Billy?”

The fight had gone out of him. “They called me a pouf, sir.”

“Oh.” I sat down next to him, letting him talk at his own pace. I noticed a cut on his knee, bleeding quite badly.

“Am I a pouf, sir?”

I told him that he was probably too young to know that, but that even if he was, that was ok. I told him there was nothing wrong with it. I told him that just because he was small and didn’t like football, that didn’t mean anything at all. I told him he could be or do whatever he wanted to, and that he shouldn’t let people like Ross tell him otherwise. I told him that he was brave and strong for not wanting to be like everyone else. I promised him that we’d do something about this, that we didn’t stand for anyone behaving that way at St Margaret’s. I put a plaster on his knee, and I told him that everything was going to be ok. I was proud of him for telling me, and wanted to ruffle his hair, but of course we’re not allowed to touch the kids.

But then he put his arms around my waist and hugged me. I felt so bad for him, but rules are rules, so I gently pushed him away.

That’s what happened.

But when Ross, hiding round the corner, posted the picture on his brother’s Facebook page, even I’ll admit that’s not how it looked.

The policeman did not look proud.

But even then I figured it would be ok. The photo looked bad, but everyone knew Ross as a troublemaker, and once they spoke to Billy they’d see they’d got it all wrong.

But of course. They had spoken to Billy.

I don’t know what Ross had done to him; stuck his head down the toilet, stolen his bus money – maybe just threatened to tell everyone what a pouf he was, if he didn’t back up what was already all over the internet.

Whatever it was, that was Billy’s story now.

The press, typically, put two and five together and made a juicy scandal. The parents turned on me in a heartbeat. ‘Never trusted him – a single man teaching kids. Not right. No kids of his own, you know.’

I didn’t leave the house for days.

A friend who I have to kindly assume was trying to be helpful told the press about the Klinefelter’s. Then the more ‘sympathetic’ pieces in the local paper tried to excuse me. ‘An excess of testosterone, who knows what effect that might have?’ Well, do you know, a doctor might, for one, I thought. It certainly doesn’t list ‘accidental child abuse’ as a side effect on the packet.

It all came to nothing in the end; Billy’s story didn’t add up. (I always told them that lies will come back to get you.) ‘Cleared of all charges,’ said the policeman, never meeting my eye.

‘It’ll all blow over soon,’ said The Head.

But she felt it might be best – for my own sake, of course, for me to ‘make a fresh start’. Of course I’d get a good reference.

***

I saw Billy the day I left town; bumped into him and his Mum in the supermarket, as she hurried him along.

I was sorry not to have been able to talk to him. I wanted to tell him I knew he was sorry, and that everything was going to be ok.

I hope he gets over this.

A ssange est dans le Embasssy

20 Aug

This whole Julian Assange thing is confusing me and I have a question for people more knowledgeable than I, and who have more patience reading long long news articles.* It’s quite a long question, and involves my setting out my understanding (which may well be what’s flawed).

Crime one

Leaving aside actual conspiracy theories (which I otherwise give a fair bit of weight to) about why he’s been accused at this ‘convenient’ time, or what the likelihood of his being guilty of rape actually is, the fact remains that he is either:

a)      guilty of rape or

b)      not guilty of rape

If he is accused, for good reason, of a crime, then he should stand trial for that crime within the jurisdiction of that crime. If he is guilty, he should be punished.

Crime two

However, if he is sent to the country where he is accused of this crime, to have a said trial, the worry is that he will also be extradited to stand trial for a different crime in a different jurisdiction (revealing state secrets? I’m not clear on exactly what crime this falls into). He is again either

a)      guilty of that crime

b)      not guilty of that crime

The above still stands: if he is accused, with fair reason, of a crime under a certain jurisdiction, he should stand trial for that crime, and is he is guilty, he is guilty. The mitigation comes in sentencing, where his motives etc should be reviewed.

The sticky wicket

However, what appears to be the problem is that:

  • the jurisdiction under which his accused crime falls is unclear
  • the US, who are claiming it under their jurisdiction, essentially isn’t considered to be a place where he will receive a fair trial. It’s not considered to be a civilised country, basically. The theories about what might happen to him if he goes to the US range from ‘he’ll be shot on sight’ to ‘they’ll throw the book at him’.

The question: why not try him in Ecuador?

Again leaving aside a fairly crucial point ie will Sweden really extradite him (evidence seems that no), what is it that prevents his being tried in Ecuador? (either within the Embassy or in Ecuador itself).

Option one: He is tried in Ecuador under Ecuadorian law

There seem to be two reasons why this is not a good idea:

Ecuador’s sentencing and punishment system is different from Sweden’s, and he may endure a harsher sentence

Frankly, them’s the breaks, kiddo. If he is guilty of rape then he has to face his crimes and if he for whatever reason doesn’t want the first offer of how to do this. Personally, I’d argue that if he’s an international hero but in fact a sexual predator then maybe he deserves a harsher sentence.

He won’t have a fair trial in Ecuador (so will either be found guilty or not guilty where the same result wouldn’t stand in Sweden)

This seems to be more legitimate. So:

Option two: He is tried in Ecuador by a Swedish judiciary

If he’s found guilty, then they get to punish him in the way they see fit, which will probably be incarceration in a Swedish jail. If part of this process also sees him extradited to the US then, again, tough nougies. Don’t rape people. And don’t rape people and then set yourself up as the innocent superhero fighting the power. If you rape people, you are the power, and that makes him a fucking hypocrite.

If he’s found not guilty, then the situation remains as before. Ecuador, UK, Sweden, or the Moon can offer him asylum with total clarity as to what’s he being asylumed from. Sorted.

So, why is this not an option I’m seeing talked about? Have I not read into it enough? Is it just ‘not done’? Is there a legal reason you can’t do this? What’s the score, people?

*I’m happy to read a long long news article if I’m told it will answer my questions. I’ve spent too much time reading long news articles from which I gain nothing more than from reading the standfirst, so have generally given up.

Campbell v Carr: Moral-off

2 Jul

I’m a bit late to the party on this one but it’s a conversation I’ve had a lot in person and it’s a point I haven’t seen elsewhere on the internet so:

Jimmy Carr’s a bit of a twat. I heard a rumour (via a protected source of course) that he doesn’t know where the bin is in his own house. But I don’t get why he acted contrite over his tax avoidance.

Jimmy Carr is self-employed, and has an accountant. I’m self-employed, and don’t have an accountant. However, I’ve been advised I should get one, because although they’re expensive, they can end up saving you money. They know tax law. They know what you can and can’t claim.

They know how to file your taxes in a way which means you have to pay as little tax as necessary. That’s why people have accountants.

Carr’s accountant said “Hey Jimmy, here’s what the government say you can do with your money so you get to keep more of it. David Cameron’s all for it. He likes rich people. You can buy some extra bins.” So he did.

David Cameron then turned around and called Carr morally wrong. Carr’s reaction was to hold up his hands and agree. Why? It’s Cameron’s government who tell him it’s ok to do it. Carr has ended up taking the blame for a government decision and he’s really not bright enough to do that. (Did you see him on the Ten O’Clock show? Embarrassing.)

To be clear, I don’t agree with tax-dodging schemes. This beautiful quote from JK Rowling on why she stays paying taxes in the UK has shot her up immeasurably in my estimation . But don’t leave a steak in your dog’s bowl then scold him when he eats it.

Thinking

9 May

Story first written for Illicit Ink‘s ‘Verbal Medicine’ on 6 May 2012.

What I love about talking to people is that you don’t have to listen to a word they say. There’s just a rhythm to the way they talk.

The mornings were simple stuff of course. I woke up and my husband said ‘Good morning’ to me, and told me that I’m beautiful.

I said ‘Good morning’ too.

It’s not what I was thinking about.

Really it’s just a pointless exchange of noises.

After these preliminaries, we normally had sex. That’s too easy of course – no-one’s supposed to use real words in that situation. It’s more honest in that sense, which is what I like about it. Otherwise, of course, it’s terribly boring. With my husband, I could get into a good rhythm of where the noises happen, and a sense of when it’d be finished. If I got up on time I’d put an egg on to boil beforehand. Whole food.

My husband thought we were trying for a baby, but I got that seen to years back. I suppose I should have mentioned that when we, apparently, agreed to the project, but you can absolutely tell in these situations that a ‘yes’ and a smile is the done thing.

It wasn’t what I was thinking about.

My husband had some kind of job; he wore rather marvellous ties that I occasionally stole for more useful purposes; silk is incredibly durable. If he ever looked a bit confused, I thought he might be asking about them; I’d giggle and tell him it must have been the goblins in the washing machine.

He thinks I do the washing. I don’t.

Thought.

Thought I did the washing.

I’ve not the faintest idea what his job was, but he must have been quite high-powered. I went to some sort of an event with him once and you could tell from the way people laughed at him that they must have wanted him to like them.

There was one woman in particular with the most amazing pair of fuschia stilettos. I still have them.

Laughter’s a big part of not actually having to listen, of course. It’s the skill of the stand-up comedian, you know; not to be funny, but to inculcate the audience into the rhythm of when laughter is expected. It’s why musical comics are such cheats.

And useless at really effective reef knots.

Today, I’m talking to a policeman. He’s asked me what my memories are of the 17th of October.

On that particular day, I had to get the bus to work. This was a bad start for several reasons. There’s a man at my stop who always talks to me. I think he’s having a hard time right now. There’s less laughter expected of me, more frowning. It’s just as easy: mirror the facial expression and throw in a couple of ‘of course’s and ‘Oh dear’s. I’ve no idea if he’s upset about the bus fares (10p increase across the board!) or whether he’s dying. The expressions are much the same.

It’s not what I think about.

Being a doctor gives me a very handy sense of authority that’s got me out of quite a few scrapes, but I was determined to qualify as a GP: no specialism, so it’s all delightfully vague.

I can generally tell what’s wrong with people before they’ve sat down, and the majority of them are suffering from one of three things:

One:  they’re depressed. Easy one. I look pensive whilst they talk to me for, oh, anything up to four days, I think. Sometimes I get hungry. Normally they smile at the end and tell me something, I think, along the lines of being terribly grateful. If they still seem upset then I prescribe a large amount of SSRIs or, if I’m feeling itchy that day, warfarin.

Two: they’re old. A variety of symptoms might present themselves, but that’s the nub of it. Often these old folk just want to talk at me, too. Laugh in the right places and integrate some ‘isn’t that just the way’s, and they tell me I’m such a personable doctor.

‘Personable’. I roll the word around in my head for a while, then think about something else. Finally, I write a prescription. This prescription will do one of two things:  make them better (I believe that’s what’s generally expected of me, God knows what kind of miracle-worker they think I am), or kill them, in which case few people tend to be surprised.

If I don’t see them again I presume the latter has happened. If I do see them again, it happens eventually all the same. Quiet, out of the way; not at all like the younger ones. They take far more effort to dispose of.

And despite what you might think, I dislike that sort of effort.

Three, they have a cold. I tell them to eat an orange and stop wasting my time.

(Oranges are useless, of course, but they’re such a beautiful shape.)

The annoying little everyday aspects of life taken care of, I have time to think about other things; to really focus, very calm, very Zen. I think about food a lot; what I might have for lunch, or whether I need to buy more eggs. I also like to make lists and plans.

I plan to make things quiet. I like things quiet. That’s all. Surely not too much to ask?

The world is so loud. And asymmetrical. I just need things to be symmetrical and balanced. This is the unfortunate thing about medical practice. You can’t cure people; you can never guarantee to cure people. Sickness is pervasive and dirty and gets in the way of perfect shapes, tidy columns, and even numbers. These people will come into my office time and again until I just want to shoot them through the temples.

Which is terribly messy. It’s so difficult to get a perfect straight line; I can spend all day tracing over it and trying to get it right and it’s worse than when I started.

So I rise above it. I practice yoga and meditation and I try to get beyond the everyday things, to not sweat the small stuff, like healing the sick and tending to the needy. Then I can focus on what matters.

On the 17th of October, for instance – the day this little man is asking about –  I was planning what to do about the car. I really didn’t want to have to keep taking the bus, but the car was starting to smell. Unclean. I was going to have to get someone to sort it, like with the laundry, but I suspected it might lead to conversations I need to be present for, which I’ve successfully avoided since… I was nineteen.

When I was nineteen, things were dirty. Everything was made of off-white crockery – the sort where it looks like it’s covered in tea stains, but it’s actually the pattern and you’ll never get it off. So I covered everything in bleach.

Being suddenly without a family got me free university tuition and an early marriage. It all worked out rather well in that sense, so that’s all I’m going to say about it.

I did like being married, you know.

Anyway this policeman isn’t interested in any of that. He wants to know about the 17th of October. There didn’t seem to be any patients in my office that afternoon, so I ate a Polo, sucking it down until it was terribly thin, but still a perfect circle. Clean. Calm.

I got a text from my husband. Texts irk me; there’s nothing to be done but read the actual words.

‘My car’s broken down. I’ll have to borrow yours. Hope you don’t mind x’

I thought about it. I assessed carefully how likely it was he would open the boot, and I got frustrated because things would be so much easier if it was a Monday. Such strong, bold letters

It was an assessment, you know.  It wasn’t a snap decision. Now I’m single, and I hate odd numbers.

That’s not what I say to the policeman of course.

I stare, I look like I might cry (I‘ve never mastered actual crying) and tell him I don’t remember.

I repeat statements at random:

‘We were trying for a baby.’

‘Oh God, I still have his tie in my handbag.’

‘I can’t believe he killed all those people.’

‘I’m so hungry.’

These statements are delicious because they’re all perfectly true but I know that this little bespectacled man will misinterpret them. I hope so. He has very neat hair and a well-arranged office. He locks up the wrong people, and he makes the world tidy.

I wonder if he’s married?

29 tweets: The full story

18 Apr

In February 2012 I decided to use my last 29 days of being 29 to tell my life story so far.

The rules were that each tweet has to be exactly 140 characters long, and include at least one hashtag @reference or link. One tweet broke all the rules, but that was on purpose. The story was fully written before Feb 1st, and the whole thing was crafted as a complete story.

I invited others to join me and 4 decided to, thought each had different terms. I think I was the only one who wrote all my tweets in advance; other folk wrote them as the month progressed. Only one other 29tweeter got as far as the full 29; there was also a 12tweeter, a 16tweeter and a 17tweeter. Some of the tweets were remarkably symmetrical though, as the full story of the 5 tweeters, detailed below, shows.

Story 1 Story 2 Story 3 Story 4 Story 5
Milton Keynes was dying for a hospital, so I was born in Northampton bit.ly/ mkhospital. Father so excited, he went straight down the pub. JW gave birth to a girl child on the steps of a Wyoming hospital in Feb. An omen: this child only flirted with propriety. Kicked and screamed into existence with only Mum in attendance. 70’s Colonial Hong Kong = no family allowed in the hospital I was born in Kirkcaldy in ’83. My mum was so off her face on the drugs that she sang Baa Baa Black Sheep. Setting me up the rest of life… Mum, having eaten late that night, assumed the labor twinges were indigestion – later there was a mad dash to the hospital.
Miss Spooner found me sleeping at my desk during the alphabet. She hit my desk with a metre rule. Everyone laughed; I was terrified #stgregs Riding, almost b4 she could walk, E developed deep communion with equine companions: the hallmark of a blissful childhood. I was the coolest kid on the ex-pat block with my bike: 2 wheeled, bright pink, squidgy handlebars WITH TASSELS ON THE END. In P1 I went missing. I asked to go to the bathroom and went out the front door of the school. I like adventures. The school freaked out. The yellow knitted dress wasn’t my favorite garment – I engineered its demise by getting it hooked on a rosebush & running.
As a shy 8-year-old, I went to France for six months through ALLEF http://bit.ly/ allef. Learnt fluent French and nearly mastered the splitz At age 7, through the good offices of RL Stevenson, the girl from the high plains discovers what she wants to be: a #Pirate Moving to Antigua began my love affair with swimming: I spent hours under the sea, fingers trailing through shoals of fish My first love was Han Solo when I was six. The first of many unatt- ainable bad boys to break my heart. I was playing outside when some family friends arrived, I asked “when are you going home?” I meant “how long can you stay?”
Aged ten, heart broken during Tom Sawyer play. ‘JJ’ first in a long line of boys who just didn’t love me like I loved them. #how embarrassing 1 bored n whiny 9yr old n 1 very frustrated mother add up to a summer of reading Shakespeare’s Complete Works on a dare. Shivering as Caribbean exchanged for Sussex, 3 times a year. Coarse knickers, obligatory worship, tuck boxes and lights out My best friend in p1 was a girl called Holly. She had to move to Aus at the end of the year. We were going to get married so she could say. After games the changing rooms were filled with a thick fog of Impulse fumes. No-one knew about the ozone layer back then.
At 13, I did Kabuki and Shakespeare in Japan with @playbox theatre. Hated the food, the trains and Disneyland. I had no idea how lucky I was. Highs and lows of puberty struck with a vengeance. Parents divorced, remarried and moved us to the city in 12 short months. The institution bred survivalist eating: cress grown on facecloths, ‘peppermint creams’ made from t’paste, snacks of pollen My first pets were Guinea Pigs. My favourite was called Cheeky. He was my first experience of owning my own pet. #CrazyCat Lady: Origins A mid-teen mis- adventure with Sun-In gave my hair a unique tie-dyed look – sadly, I was aiming for a Monroe- esque blonde.
Parents divorced. Story not all mine to tell but I don’t see him anymore. #storycut short City kids hate on Sh*t kicker me. First kiss is marred by chewing tobacco. A new found passion 4 acting provides escape. And lo, a dark cloud fell across the sun… my parents decreed our next stop would be N. Ireland. All protests were in vain I changed primary schools in p3. I remember finding the whole thing quite traumatic. It seemed like the end of the world! #Laby- rinthitis during A-Levels, combined with spending more time planning revision than doing any, resulted in poor grades.
Always said I’d leave home at 16; shocked everyone by doing it. Moved to Edinburgh and went to @telfordcoll. Was the happiest I’d ever been. Breasts grow in wi vengeance. School nickname is ‘Boobs’. Raped by 1st love – can’t tell cuz ’77 WY culture says my fault. Started at the same school my parents met and fell in love at. Quickly began to understand the origin of their problems… I loved my 2nd primary. Even though there were popular kids, there wasn’t much bullying. I still have fond memories! In September 1991 I left the town in which I was born. I was 18. I’d never lived anywhere else, now I was #Edinburgh bound.
17; met a man @beltanefs. Lost my virginity in a hostel in Oban. Embarrassing teenaged angsty breakup makes me cringe. Oban’s pretty though. Teen years blur of theater, rodeos n boys in every town, none allowed 2 do more than kiss me. Then BAM! Love! Passion! CMC! Institution-alised bigotry became the name of the school game. Attempts to explain ‘atheism’ were met with confused looks When I was 8, my Uncle Harald died. It was the first time I experienced death. He was from Manchester & lovely. He loved beer and Sherlock. First day @Edinburgh Napier also saw my first trip to an Edinburgh pub as my first morning friends & I failed find the union
18th birthday: first realise I like a girl. Heartbroken as she goes out with my friend (a boy). Never told her. Came out as #bisexual at 19. 1 year from Drama Medalist, to Shakespeare’s Katrina, to lover, to pregnant, to Senior, to Married. A hectic pace 4 change. I hit the water 6-7.30am, 3 mornings a week, as part of the Derry #swimming squad. Our high point: winning regionals gold When I was wee I was afraid that the Shark from Jaws was waiting at the top landing. Amusingly enough, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I learned a lot at university, not all of it was on the syllabus. My graduation and 21st pretty much coincided. #AllGrown Up
Trusted friend told me I was too fat & ugly to ever be loved. Stopped eating, or binged and purged. Cut myself. Life fell apart. #FF @beatED Married. Senior in HS. Win State 4 Drama & Original Oratory. National Honor Society. Son born 5 days b4 graduation. #Happy Decided to take four A Levels: all the arts, plus, er, Geology. What? Rocks are *cool*, man. My A in English = pure joy I first went horse riding aged 9. I completely fell in love. I wish I had the time to do it again! First full-time job saw me racing up + down a row of fax-machines to send press releases – PR isn’t all smoozing + boozing
Finally asked doctor for help. Told I was fine but given #seroxat anyway. Withdrawal impossible; two years off work; three suicide attempts. “This is MY BABY!” a proud 15 month old declares to admirers of sister. Papa gifts Mama wi vasectomy; worry free sex FTW! Deciding which uni to go to became an obsession, but I still made the wrong choice: @StirUni was way too theory based for me. #liveand learn aged 11 got first bra. First girl in my school. Should have realised then that my breasts would be more popular than me. Suddenly, many of us had “proper jobs”, there were even marriages + mortgages – how had we become old enough to do this?
2003: Slept in beer on the floor of a bus to London for @STWuk march. A million people ignored. Campaigned tirelessly. Ignored continuously. Major bout of unemployment puts spouse in Army as Korean Linguist. Kids in separate accidents go to ER to reattach fingers. Finally diagnosed with depression, at 18. Not sure when the colour began to drain out of life, but its return was beautiful I sang the lead for our P7 WW2 play. To this day, I can’t think that I can sing. But I remember the applause. Sent for chest X-ray – this ran on a loop through my mind as I chain- smoked outside the hospital gates movieclips. com/RUHD- alfie-mov
Gave evidence to the police about the potential grooming of teenagers by my erstwhile flatmate. Attached a @BandQ padlock to the front door. California! We start tradition of marrying every 5 yrs. We restate our vows at dawn, looking over Bay while bagpipes play. Uni was a testing ground: a claustro- phobic upbringing left me without a few key skills natural to others. Alcohol helped. I passed my driving test on the second attempt – I have driven just twice since then with declining degrees of success.
Found my way back to the world with the help of one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Lost touch now; that time is over, but #ioweher mylife CA’s 1st Theater becomes 2nd home. #Melodrama & #Olio acts. Discovering a passion 4 historic clothing, I rock my 1st corset. Met @green griffin: haven’t been able to get rid of him ever since. Left for @KUnews that fall, and met a cowgirl. Yee haw. I was living on a bread roll a day, plus cigs – a diet of my own devising. Eventually people nagged me into eating. Thanks.
First job post- withdrawal @auldreekie tour, leading ghost tours through Edinburgh. Got involved with the comedy scene. Made lifelong friends. Working at a Fat Farm I discover my talent for managEment and have my first professional massage. No.1 son starts school. Returned to the UK full of plans after a year of experi-mental film, 8mm cameras and SLR photography, and bought my first PC We laughed & danced on the dark beach. We’d no idea that we wouldn’t be able to do so forever. Maybe that was for the best.
Threw coins at a girl’s window during her #onenight stand with my ex. I was jealous: she was beautiful & he was unworthy (how she liked them). Discovered I don’t want to mess with Texas. Army exiled us there: 6 months. After, we gratefully returned 2 Monterey coast. Moved to Edinburgh asap after graduation. Made a lacklustre goth, but began to freelance as a writer with moderate success Someone was going to pay me to write. All day, every day. Little matter that it was recruitment ads – it was a writing job.
Fun night out with the ex, then he passed out on the sofa & I kissed the beautiful girl. Scared witless, but beginning of a #beautiful story. Our family becomes a miniature theater troupe appearing in CA’s First Theater Production ‘The Drunkard’ #Actors #Melodrama Finally met @andrew ducker, & realised I was a geek. We were terrible as a couple, but he remains one of my closest friends
Beautiful girl’s visa expired; we went to @See Australia. I worked in a comedy club in Brisbane; she traded chickens for information in Fiji. The Clark family theater empire grows. 1 summer. 4 people. 16 productions. 140 individual performances. #Acting #NoSleep
Accidentally moved into a drugdealers’ squat, with bedbugs, a visiting rat & a dredded gentleman known only as ‘The Columbian’. #itsfunnynow Husband surprises wi 10th anniversary wedding celebrated in high Edwardian costume during intermission of play. #Romantic
1st #standup gig, in Brisbane, then for a few months in Oz and UK. Sucked somewhat. Decided I needed to commit or quit; went for the latter. Discover Renaissance Faires. Start a Guild. Travel 2 Edinburgh 4 #Fringe. Fall in love wi Scotland. #WellMet #Appendicitis
While we were away, our tenant (friend, we thought) conned folk out of £1000s and trashed the place. He’s still wanted by police. #whatacunt Hubby justifies my eternal love by taking me on a Barefoot Cruise of Caribbean for 20th. Married on deck by ship’s captain.
Sold up and bought dream flat in the Abbeyhill Colonies. Got a cat from @uk_gumtree, named him after a Harry Potter character #domesticbliss Empty nest:1 kid marries, 1 moves 2 NYC. Royal Stuarts retire. We chuck it all n immigrate 2 Scotland. I go back 2 college.
Married the beautiful girl on a hill overlooking my city. Smoked a cigar and danced the night away @scottish bktrust, then took her to Paris. Married again. Edinburgh City Chambers. Music by fellow students. Officiant is dear friend, ex-Deputy Lord Provost. #25th
Became godmother to marvellous, crazy & beautiful Toby. He introduced me to Molly’s. I wish they made one for grownups. bit.ly/yho5NQ Graduate wi BMus, Distinction. New job at Scottish Arts Council. Apply 4 permanent stay. Home Office denies. #ExPatNoMore
Became editor @skinny comedy. 3 marvellous & hectic years then passed baton to @blearyboy. I miss it. I don’t miss it. I miss it. #conflicted In Denver for Rocky Mountain High and hubby’s Master’s Degree. Pro: close to Grandboys. Con: NOT Scotland. #Culture Shock
Missed the birth of my 2nd godson by minutes; I was in @greggs choosing a tuna softie. Met beautiful Seth at ten minutes old. Unforgettable. I meet the Haberdashery – the coolest group of writers, ever! #NaNo I write a book! I edit a book. The agent hunt begins.
Quit @the skinnymag to set up a company with the beautiful girl, newly graduated from Napier’s Creative Writing MA. @graphic scotland was born 30th Wedding Celebration is Wiccan – we get full body henna tattoos n create magic. #skyclad #symbolism #BloodNBone #Breath
I proofread and edit, I iron. I blog, I network, I drink. I make websites & enjoy cleaning the oven. I am occasionally #pretentious. I live. Hubby earns diploma. Land in So Cal. New symphonies n books beckon. We start new #ViralOpera project n dream. #LifeIsSweet
Flat for sale, http://bit.ly /zXX3fy, life wide open. Don’t know what’s next, except that I’ll have a beautiful girl by my side @AriCassMaran That is me – in 29 Tweets. Thanks for a great month!