Mother's RuinVertigo. Vile, evil vertigo: ‘a sensation of whirling and loss of balance’ according to my dictionary.

There’s two reasons you’ll get no sympathy for sharing this MS symptom with anyone else.

First, if you say, ‘ooh, me vertigo’s playing up something awful today’ as you fumble blindly for something to hold on to, you’ll inevitably hear, ‘oh yeah, I hate heights too.’ (Grrr).

Or they’ll say, ‘ha! Thought it was wine o’ clock and you’d already started on the Mother’s Ruin’ followed by them imitating your rolling gait in a totally exaggerated fashion.

This happened to me a couple of days ago and my ‘audience’ was non other than The Teenager, so I kind of expected just a tiny bit of concern on his part. Not a bit of it.

I was helping him to pack his bag for London, i.e. I was holding up clothes for his Romanesque thumbs up or down.

(Looks up from his phone for a nanosecond – snort, snigger) ‘Muuuuuuum, I know I’m going away for a week but did you have to start the celebrations early? Like, really?’ (imitates my rolling gait).

I did my best to explain in a non-worrying manner, playing it down, good parent that I am, trying to move ever so slowly so I didn’t fall flat on my face.

‘Vertigo? Yeah, I get that too. Dad took me up The Gherkin in London and I was like, woah, bit scary. But I didn’t look like you do. And I got some sick (sic) photos.’

After waving my little cherub off to the bus-stop I sank onto the sofa. The world stopped moving for a while, if I closed my eyes. But then I felt sick. My phone went.

‘Muuuuuuuum. You know when I get back next week, seeing as you’ll have missed me, can I have a Domino’s? Pleeeeeeeaaaaaase?’

‘Sweetheart, you’ve been gone all of three minutes. We’ll talk about it later.’


The rest of my first evening of child-freeness was spent attempting to walk the length of my house without veering off to one side. The world didn’t stop moving. Everything was spinning faster than I could walk. I gave up and went to bed early, mega early.

The next morning, I woke up to a panicked message from a friend, saying she couldn’t get hold of me last night and was worried. I explained I’d gone to bed with vertigo at 8-ish and had put my phone on silent.

‘Oh yeah, I hate heights too. What were you doing? Rock climbing?’

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Not Dressed Up, Nowhere To Go

cougarSomething disturbing happened the other day.

I was out with a friend, dressed casually, sipping a glass of wine with two hands in one of those faux-bonhomie wine bars with ‘ironic’ artwork and staff with obligatory piercings/sullen expressions/selective deafness. But I digress.

Two couples entered, both women in spray-on dresses, dazzling white teeth, teetering heels and big, big hair.

After looking longingly at their heels (sigh), I clocked that their partners were much younger. Nothing wrong with that. After collecting their drinks from the bar, they perched on the chairs next to us, so I couldn’t help but do a nosy.

The men (boys) seemed unable to sit still without squeezing the women every five minutes, in, ahem, not-totally-appropriate places. I’m no prude but this was seriously interrupting my fascinating conversation about my new Gorgonzola and steak recipe and I quickly lost my thread.

So we bar-hopped to the next place. Five minutes later, the same couples came tumbling through the door. To cut a long story short, I found myself in a place surrounded by eerily similar-looking twosomes, like some kind of weird parallel zone. ‘Yell at me if I ever get like that just to get a man when I’m that old’ I remarked smugly, casting my beady eye around the mayhem.

My former friend choked on his drink and said ‘they’re our age, look, that one’s got a ‘Still Flirty At 40′ badge on and that one’s definitely had Botox. They’re all in their 40′s. Like us.’

He was right. I sulked the rest of the evening, lying awake later that night pondering my Sad Single Situation. Is this the only way to date in my 40′s? As if it wasn’t hard enough being divorced with a grumpy Teenager, a rude cat and to top it all, MS, does entering my fifth decade condemn me to a life of body-con crash diets, hair extensions and laughing politely when my date burps the Welsh national anthem?

The only alternative seems to be joining an evening class in the autumn, perhaps signing up to Very Hot Indian Cooking, in the hope that I will find my soulmate over some poppadoms and mango chutney. I reckon the powers that be in adult education should start a brand-new class for ‘peeps who want to meet other peeps but have to pretend to be interested in Very Hot Indian Cooking or Yoga for Complete and Utter Numptys’. Heels and hair extensions preferred, but not essential…..

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Let’s Pretend…To Be Poor

upcycling twFollowing in the footsteps of that other oh-gosh-I-may-be-a-millionaire–but-I’m-just-like-you, Jamie Oliver, Kirstie Allsop did herself proud on last night’s television show, ‘Fill Your House For Free’ (sic).

Don’t get me wrong, I adore upcycling; been doing it as long as I can remember. In fact, the only thing I haven’t upcycled yet is The Teenager, but give it time.

So, last night, the first couple was your archetypal, ‘So, we bought this huge house, oh woe is us, sigh, but we have no sense of style and we’re too tight to get proper help, can Channel 4 come to the rescue?’

The woman pouted, stamped her foot and tossed her hair, declaring that anything second-hand was naff. The husband merely nodded. The second couple, about much the same. Bought the house, couldn’t afford furniture. Oops!

Bring on the experts in ‘free’ stuff. They showed us minions just how easy it was to find free goodies, as long as you’re prepared to work for it, i.e have oodles of leisure time (and I don’t mean signing on for the dole once a week). Yup, you’ve guessed it. Pretty much everything ‘featured’ in last night’s programme was way beyond your local charity shop schlep, just after you’d bagged the last of the windfall apples from next door.

When did you last pop into Oxfam to buy an aeroplane wing? Simply super for turning into a (rather horrible) desk? Or make a stepladder into a ghastly bookcase? And of course you have a whole workshop with state-of-the-art tools at your disposal  to turn said crap into rather less crap things?

In the end, this was just another example of that tedious wave of ‘austerity chic’ TV drivel, exhorting well-off peeps to weep/gnash teeth/rant at the camera. Although I did have to admire the second couple for bravely not crying when they saw their wall lamp fashioned from a spray-painted, rusted barbecue. And don’t get me started on the first couple’s twee/1950′s ambitions for a sewing room (her) and a man-cave (him). Why can’t she have a she-cave without having to sew?

If these guys really want to experience what it’s like to have no real furniture, look no further than the 1 in 5 of us who live below the poverty line. Furniture is the last thing on the list. So, yes, it may be fun to live like the poor people. Liberate a chair from the skip down the road. Congratulate yourself and pop open the Farrow & Ball chalk paint. Make a notice board out of all your champagne corks. Pinterest has a lot to answer for.

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Adventures in Blunderland

BlunderlandI am about to start the third week of my New Me regime, i.e. ELF (Eat Less, Fatty).

My lovely trainer has shown me some exercises to boot my metabolism out of its lengthy hibernation, and amazingly, it appears to be working.

Combined with snacking on Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds rather than Cheez-E-Puffs or Curly Wurlys, I am feeling a tad virtuous.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though. I bought one of those resistance band thingies, with two (pink) handles. The trainer showed me some smart moves I could do at home. Easy, no? The plan was to sling the band round the pillar in my living room and use that as resistance, pulling away to tackle my burgeoning bingo-wings. 15 reps, rest, 15 reps, rest, 15 reps, rest.

Who said exercise was hard work? This would be a doddle. I could watch telly from the pillar, catching up with my favourite junk programmes, i.e. ‘I Wanna Marry Harry’. Fabulous time management and I duly gave myself a pat on the back.

First problem, pillar is actually quite large, so I ended up hugging the darned thing to wrap the band round it, just as The Teenager came downstairs, rolled his eyes and seeing me incapacitated, made a break for the fridge.

Right. handles sorted, move forward a bit and….I was off. Did my reps, felt a little bit of a ‘burn’, rested, started again. Meh. Adverts. I always fast forward, so I reached for the controller, trying to put both handles in one hand. Almost there……thwack. Couldn’t do it, the resistance band thingie flew backwards, one handle whacking me smack in the eye. The Teenager rolled his eyes and darted back upstairs.

I kicked the stupid band thingie around the floor a few times (it’s still exercise) and decided to try on my new sports bra instead. Well. Whoever invented this Medieval torture device deserves to be pelted with soggy rugby socks. I ended up with one arm stuck in the air and the other attached to my thigh. After struggling to free myself from the evil contraption for over five minutes (and bouncing over to the window to close the curtains), I flopped onto my bed, limp, weak and exhausted.

I will not be beaten by these sporting accessories, although my kettlebell is still being used as a doorstop after I dropped it into the cat’s food bowl by mistake. Fear not, she’s still with us – she wasn’t eating at the time. The ELF Challenge continues…

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Eyes Wide Open

Eyes wide openI have developed an annoying symptom recently.

Some evenings, when I’m reading a book or watching an exciting TV programme (Hannibal, Pretty Wicked Moms), I go from wide awake to instantly zonked.

No reprieve. It starts right out of the blue; my eyes start rolling and I’m pinned to the sofa, completely aware of what’s coming next – total oblivion. In that slim interim, I know I should get up and walk around, problem is I just can’t.

It’s suddenness is frightening. Apart from that, The Teenager sneaks downstairs and slurps down countless yoghurts while I’m in the Land of Nod. He probably also clones my credit card to buy online games, who knows?

Anyway, I had my review with the neurologist (a very nice man – *waves*) just over a week ago. When he asked me if I had anything I was concerned about, I launched into the saga of my numb big toe, my odd left foot, my odd right foot and this most peculiar Insta-Sleep (just add yawns).

He prescribed me Amantadine, warning me to take them no later than 2pm, otherwise I would be up all night – I wish. Yes, I was sorely tempted. But, I took them as instructed and nothing happened for almost a week. Then, blam, I was……awake. Fully. The grass was green and the bluebirds were singing. My life was suddenly in blinding Technicolor.

I worry though that the tablets mask the underlying symptoms. Am I pushing myself too far? Will I reach a point of collapse? Will this new-found energy enable me to exercise more? Bearing in mind that last Monday, the few squats I attempted with my lovely trainer led to four days of agony. I’m not joking. I walked up and downstairs at home like a crab, meh.

Also, the tablets have given me the most amazing dreams, so vivid that when I wake up in the morning I have to remind myself what is real and what is imaginary. I have the most marvelous conversations with friends and family, but I find out to my dismay that they are entirely one-sided.

I will keep trying with the tablets. I made the mistake of telling my boss. He offered to trade me two packets of Jaffa Cakes for a tablet. I wasn’t tempted. Much.

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