The Teenager Discovers Make-Up

halloweenThere has been much school-based concentration in our little house recently.

Not study notes or researching universities for next year. Nothing that simple.

Nope. There’s a school Hallowe-en party tonight and The Teenager has been fretting endlessly about his outfit:

‘Mum, mum, muuuum. I’m sooooo stressed.’

‘I know dear, this is one of those monumental years of your life.’

‘Like, durrrrr. Not that stuff, my costume for the party. What do I, like, go as?’

‘How about a conscientious student? I have books?’



‘Did that last year. Too much fake blood. Didn’t work.’

‘Ghost? I’ve got an old sheet. You only have to cut out two eye-holes.’

‘Then no-one gets to see my muscles, durrrr.’ Much eye-rolling.

‘I don’t know? You could go as a telly? I could make you a costume out of an old box?’

‘Muuuuum, it’s not like the old days. We have, you know, flat-screens now. I give up.’

And by that point, so had I, as I cast my mind back to when he was two years old, dressed up in the cutest pumpkin costume, complete with a little pumpkin-stalk hat.

This afternoon, after a tiring day at work, The Teenager pounced on me as soon as my key was in the lock.

‘I fed the cat, honest, and look‘ – he shoves his laptop towards me and a strange person is on the screen.

‘I’m going as an effel player. Genius!’

‘Let me just put my bag down. And, um, get in the door? Ta.’ Erm, effel? A new gaming character? Some Japanese warrior?

‘N. F. L. American football.’

I’m completely confused. Don’t they wear cage-like things over their heads and shoulders? I questioned him about this.

‘I’ll be kind of off-duty.’

‘Right. Jeans and a t-shirt then?’

Mum, I’ll wear my NFL t-shirt, black shorts, like, casual like, and carry an American football. But, I need you to do my make-up.’

I sit down with my bags.

‘Ok, show me.’

‘Two big stripes, see?’

‘So you’d have them when you’re off-duty?’

‘Muuuuuuuum. Honestly. One question, can you do them on my face? Without wibbly hands? Pleeeeaaase?’

‘Eye pencil. I’ve got loads I don’t use any more.’

‘Too right – those flicks you tried were, like, wonky.’

‘Don’t push your luck.’

He rummaged through my old make-up pencils, finally finding The One. This! Is perfect.’ He tried it on the back of his hand. ‘And a nice soft colour. I like it. Sorted. Have you got make-up remover for later?’

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Simply The Boss …

mugJust when I think my life is bad, The Boss proves me completely wrong.

Not only is he juggling three jobs at the moment, he is also without a van, his phone and his hair.

I’ll explain:

A few weeks ago he was in a crash at a notorious roundabout. Luckily no one was badly hurt and it wasn’t his fault (it was an 84-year old, on his way to his birthday party, poor thing).

Sadly, his beautifully sign-written van (designed by moi) is a write-off and was sent to the Crusher Yard last week – a day of sad reflection for us all.

So he hired an interim van after much grumbling about lack of shelf space and roof rack. Last week he had to sort out the plasterer at one of the jobs, left his phone on the dashboard for a minute (d’oh) and came back to find the van broken into, the phone gone and half his tools as well.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, after sporting a Donald Trump-esque haircut for a while, he went to a new hairdressers and came out with a razor-thin cut, looking like someone I saw recently on Crimewatch.

And finally, to top it all, he’s had to put up with me going through an MS floaty-exacerbation-of-symptoms.

I worry about him.

At work today, I tripped over countless times. I took ten minutes to doze in the corner. All the while, he was on my phone, sorting out a new van, chasing up his new phone and working out which tools have been taken. He collects them as a hobby so this in itself was a monumental task.

Anyway, as I was packing up to leave, he said he’d worked out a plan for the week and ran through it for me. I gently reminded him I was having a blood test on Wednesday and seeing my neurologist on Friday, so wouldn’t be in work those days.

I left pretty sharpish.

As I got in my car, The Teenager sent me a text, ‘Sixth form party tonight, can you iron my jeans? Can I have some money?’

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The People You Love …

ghostsThe Teenager went to Manchester at the weekend to visit a close relative who is severely ill with Parkinson’s and now living in a nursing home.

I picked him up from the train station yesterday evening and could clearly see the slump in his shoulders, his troubled face.

On the drive home, we chatted about this and that but he was mostly occupied with his phone and glugging back the drink I had brought with me.

Until, ‘Mum? Can I ask you something?’

‘Of course!’

‘Will, um, do you think, well, you could ever get like that? You know, with MS?’

I took a deep breath. ‘I really don’t think so, sweets. Look at the treatment I’ve had! It was hard this weekend?’

‘Uh huh. It was really nice to see him, but really sad. I’m scared you’ll be like that when I’m older.’

‘C’mon kiddo, you know how tough I am. Tough as a toffee!’

‘So was he.’

‘Oh, I know sweets. A really strong person and what happened to him is just awful. But he’s been ill a really long time.’

‘I’d look after you, you know.’

‘That’s so lovely of you, thank you. But you know what the most important thing is? That you get on with your life. Everything is opening up for you. I’m doing just fine, sweets. I’m working, I’ve got Uni, everything’s great. You know I don’t need to ask you for help with anything. I like looking after you.’

‘Yeah, I know, but sometimes I wish you would ask me. I feel really helpless when you’re tired or your legs are sore. I’d like to make you a cup of coffee or a glass of squash. Or something.’

My heart broke into a thousand pieces.

‘Ok, let’s make a deal. Next time I’m really, really tired and have to go to sleep in the afternoon, you can wake me up after an hour with a cup of coffee? That would help me a lot.’


After growing up with ill parents, I’ve always been determined never to turn my son into some sort of carer. The thought horrifies me. But have I gone too far the other way? Am I somehow blocking him out?

And not only this fear, but also a dear friend of his, one of his close group of friends from school, passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 17. The Teenager is struggling with appalling grief from both ends of the spectrum, at the beginning of life, and towards the end.

It is even more vital now, that I support him. But how best to do this when his thoughts are clouded by my MS?

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sleepI’m one of those smug people who’s asleep the minute their head hits the pillow.

I slumber straight through to my alarm (stupid, crashing waves on a seashore), which is why I triple-check that The Teenager has his front door key handy at all times.

Not so much recently though; I’ve even surprised him by being upright on the sofa, knocking back hot chocolate and watching Sky News wide-eyed at 1.30 am as he stumbles through the door.

Whether it’s the pesky thyroid or MS, I’m not sure. All I know is that it’s annoying, frustrating and ruining my diet (I munch on toast and pick at leftovers).

Being awake in the dead of night does strange things to my brain. I’m not motivated to add 100 words to my dissertation or go through my bank statements, things that would make me feel saintly in the morning.

Instead, my brain runs riot. Darkness creeps through my thoughts. During the day, I know I’m doing well – working, studying and most importantly, bringing up The Teenager.

However, in the wee small hours, I worry about working (how long can I do this?), studying (how long can I do this?) and The Teenager (how can I help him into adulthood, am I doing enough, am I failing?).

What will happen to me when I can no longer work? With the galling statistic of 80% of people with MS giving up work within 15 years of diagnosis, the future looks bleak and I’m 4.5 years down the line.

On the upside, perhaps I could live on a barge, cultivating pots of geraniums on the deck and gliding through canal-ways? Or move to India and live on a beach, spouting profound and inspiring words of wisdom to gauche back-packers? Or flat-share with a bunch of other mature students, labelling my milk in the fridge and avoiding the gunk in the shower?

On the downside, what happens if my MS progresses?

Without a significant other to look out for me, will I wither away? Be eaten by mice?

I’m trying to be an optimist. I’ve had great treatment. I’m determined to work as long as I possibly can. But in the back of my mind, it’s always there, the thought that one day, this may all change …

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Script To Screen

spoonfedThere was me, thinking I wouldn’t be able to visit MS Life in London this weekend.

Well, earlier today I was in the middle of re-wiring a plug, drinking a cold soya latte and eating some onion ring crisps when I had a call.

There is to be a screening of Spoon Fed, a short film about MS, starring the wonderful Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey) and Joseph Mawle ( Game of Thrones and Birdsong) at MS Life on Saturday.

And me! (I’m the depressed-looking one, shuffling in to the support group and saying ‘hi’ to Joseph before taking a seat).

(That took me seven takes, honestly. This acting malarky is hard).

Would I be able to attend and take part in a question and answer panel afterwards?

Erm, if it’s a choice between plumbing in a bathroom and getting stuck in a serious amount of mud (long story) or swanning off to London, I said yes straight away. The details would sort themselves out.

To be involved in such a great project from start to finish has been brilliant; I met the actors in an intense rehearsal session where I answered every question they had about MS and how it had impacted my life.

The next day, I was at the shoot, watching Lesley Sharp capture my ‘MS walk’ so completely, I welled up. It was me on the screen.


The production, from start to finish, has been superb. Have a little read here.

If you’re attending MS Life at the weekend, please stop by around 6.45pm on the Saturday.

We’ll be in the main theatre and it would be fantastic to see you!

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