Concrete Experience

Just when you think you’ve got your head sorted out after many years of trying, you find yourself walking into a crowded staffroom and hurling your lunch across it, injuring someone on the arm in the process.

Follow that with a frantic, screaming, chicken dance as you try to dash out of the room past people equally determined to confine you in it, and altogether, post incident embarrassment levels can be pretty high. Not a good start to the day.

Thank goodness for Trina and her School Office level-headedness. She placed firm hands on my shoulders, pirouetted me round and off we doh-see-doh-ed to the Head’s office. Not for a reprimand, you understand. As the only unoccupied room with a shut-able door.

I knew, as I leaked mascara onto Trina’s jumpered shoulder, that I wasn’t sure what I was crying about. And that I was making a terribly loud noise. And that I hadn’t any more self control than the little ones who she usually gives comfort and sticking plasters to. Only today, sticking plasters weren’t going to help.

And it was such a minor thing that triggered it off. “The straw that broke the camel’s back” Trina soothed, gently patting my own back. “And probably Hormones,” I mumbled, “don’t forget the Hormones.” Then chuckled snottily to think that the imminent end of womanhood should provoke behaviour akin to a child’s.

After a short while I crawled back into the almost empty staffroom to find someone had gathered up my mangled lunch and placed it carefully in the fridge. Colin the Caretaker was surprisingly philosophical and, unusually, passed up the chance to take the mickey. “It gets you like that sometimes, don’t it,” he nodded. “Just a good job you weren’t having something tinned”.

You gotta larf. Laughter, the best medicine and all that. Within half an hour I was fielding jokes about designated hard hat areas and was faintly amused to note that my husband, who knew nothing about the incident, had sent me a PMT joke in a text. Which had come through three times. “Don’t worry about the bruise,” Sharon told me, “I’m not bothering to put it in the accident book.”  I gave her a tangerine and a bunch of red roses.

I went straight out after work and bought two packs of multi-vitamins and the largest tub of primrose oil capsules that Sainsbury’s had to offer. And two bottles of Piat D’or Red. Full of iron, it is.

I’m not really sure whether primrose oil works. Is it a fallacy? Is the improvement all in the taker’s head? Maybe I should run a trial with a placebo – who knows, Jelly Tots might work just as well and be considerably cheaper? The wine was good, though. So was the sound night’s sleep I had afterwards. And the week has gone on to get better and better, as my sense of proportion has returned and the Big Things I had to deal with have been ticked off the list. Today we are back to full sanity, or at least, as close to it as I ever get.

Eid Mubarak everyone, peace be upon you.


All Hail the Barnsley Nightingale

I had an epiphany this morning. I love a good epiphany, don’t you? Maybe it’s the way the chocolate melts on your tongue when… no, hang on, that’s Divine bars. Wrong thing.

Standing at the sink, peeling spuds and peering out at the rain lashed garden, I caught a lyric in a song playing on my CD player. I’ve heard the song numerous times, have the album set on continuous whenever I’m in the kitchen, so often, in fact, that the family groan and I’ve worn out one of the tracks. My favourite track, that is, not the one that induced the epiphany. No, until this point, that particular song was nothing more than pleasant but incidental background music to whatever kitchen-based chore I happened to be doing at the time.

Until this morning, that is. Like a mayday message cutting through static, I heard sweet words, insistent and clear –

“I can see the planets are aligning for me.”

Heard the words, really heard them, for the first time. Tuned in to them instantly.

“On nights like these, I could fly up to the sky above me, like Superman, I would change the course of Earth below me”


“These are the days I live now.”

Many songs have been my soundtrack in recent times, telling me to let go, forgive myself and not worry, be strong and proud and face down the devil.  I’ve just kept swimming, as Dorrie the fish would say, head down, one breath at a time, and sung along and laughed at the absurdity of it all and, sometimes, cried in the car or the kitchen or the shower. A month or so ago, when a sickness day saw me immobilised in front of the television, Series One of Jam and Jerusalem on Catchup introduced me to Kate Rusby, and since then the songs have been almost entirely hers. And her nightingale’s voice has added a beautifully melancholic lilt to my soundtrack.

Until today, when a more hopeful message wheedled in, resonating with my recent thoughts. Because, you know, my life is pretty damn wonderful. New and exciting things are happening and right now, I’ve no idea where they will take me. But that’s ok, I’ve no need to worry. I’m strong enough to cope, wherever I go.

It’s chucking down with rain, my expanding to do list should be making me lose sleep and my old man’s grumbling loudly about the international ironing mountain in the dining room. But life’s good. I may feel old, old, old, but I still have a future. The planets are aligning for me and these are the days I live now.