Tuesday 22 May 2012


The strangest, most uplifting, and devastating things happen, just when you least expect them to: Some dear friends of mine lost their first baby a year ago – she died a few minutes after being born. We were all distraught; it was just so awful, almost unheard of these days. The mother conceived again, and her second baby was born two weeks ago. She came three weeks early and was born on the exact same day, within three hours of their daughter who had died a year before. We saw her on Sunday and she's absolutely beautiful and apparently never cries. I love this story, it’s as though she was helping her parents, by marking the sad anniversary with her birth.

And death: A friends’ sister, aged 47, died a few days ago, possibly from complications with diabetes. Another friend, a nurse, told me about a motorbike accident that happened outside the church she was attending on Sunday.  She rushed out to help and while the man’s wife looked on, she attempted to resuscitate, him – but unfortunately it was too late. He wasn’t wearing a helmet; would he still be alive if he had been? He had literally just left the house. My friend says it won’t leave her, this sad, surreal, experience, she wonders if she should stop talking about it. Another friend's daughter, aged 9 has died from a long battle with leukemia, I am going to the memorial today.

Life goes on and on, and then bang, something happens, that jolts you out of your stupor. Friends you least expect to split up do  - at least four friends have told me they have separated in the last few months. The other day, my husband alerted me to the fact that we don’t have house contents insurance. It immediately made me think:  What would happen if we suddenly lost everything in a fire? What would I do if my computer was stolen with my new novel on it? Or if the leaky ceiling in the shower room collapsed? There is just so much to worry about and think about - car insurance, house insurance, contents insurance, cat insurance, private health insurance, and all because we have to wonder what if? What if? It just seems so unlikely until it happens to you.

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Saturday 12 May 2012


#Blogging4Madeleine Blog Awareness Campaign

Five years have passed since Madeleine Mccann was abducted while on holiday in Praia de Luz on 3rd May, 2007. Today Madeleine is 9. She shares the same birthday as my son, who is 11. While Kate and Gerry Mcann will be unable to celebrate with their eldest daughter, I have just watched my birthday boy open his presents; we have already sung, Happy Birthday. Later I will take him and four friends to the skate park and bowling. We will eat cake, blow out candles - normal birthday rituals most parents take for granted. It's hard to imagine the pain that must sit with Kate and Gerry Mccann every minute, every second of the day.  Do they wake every morning with heavy hearts? Do they wonder if anyone is mistreating their daughter? In darkest moments, they must despair and wonder if she is still alive.  I wonder if they can ever experience a fleeting moment of fun while she is still missing? Do they ever laugh? Do they ever forget? My own daughter is a year younger than Madeleine, if the same thing happened to her I would be endlessly  wondering what if? What if we hadn't left her in the hotel bedroom? What if we'd checked every fifteen minutes rather than every thirty? What if we'd hired a babysitter? They must live with the guilt, like exisiting in some interminable hell. Is she still alive?  I'm not sure, but all of us want her to be found; we live in hope. 

Please note the information below:

·           Contact information to report any sightings or information
What she may look like now

Thank you to AMummysView
and Tea and Biscotti for organising this campaign. J
o   Your local police force immediately, AND
o   Operation Grange
0207 321 9251 (in the UK)
+44 207 321 9251 (non-UK)
o   Or Operation.Grange@met.pnn.police.uk
o   OR Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org
·      The Find Madeleine official website www.findmadeleine.com
·      The latest image released as she may look now
All this information is available from www.findmadeleine.com
Madeleine before she was abducted

Tuesday 1 May 2012

A rainy day

My ten-year-old boy sobs theatrically on the threshold of the front door. “I hate going to the park,” he says. “You’re acting,” my husband retorts harshly with a dismissive flick of his hand. He’s a good actor - he actually won the school talent show judged by Davina Mcall, Olly Mears, and a man from JLS, for writing and performing a stand up comedy routine. He’s not usually tearful or difficult or stubborn in any way. The sobbing becomes disturbing, really quite authentic. He definitely looks pale-faced and tired, he had a disturbing dream last night about being eaten alive.

He has been stuck on a maths homework problem for an hour and has refused help. We want him to take a break, but he has now dropped to his knees wailing “get off me, leave me alone. I hate walking.” The Australians are approaching wearing tall, silly hats and holding packs of beer.   “We have to go,” I stage whisper to my husband. We need to walk away before they witness this excruciating scene. “You’ve hit a wall,” my husband keeps repeating over and over again. “You need fresh air.” He takes the boy forcefully by the arm, and we set off, a desperate and suspicious looking trio.

We pass a woman who looks at us struggling with our son, then reaches for her mobile. I imagine she is ringing the police. We walk on, breathing in car fumes and bus diesel, towards the park that used to have rats running around the muddy banks of its pond. “It’s difficult being a child,” I explain to my husband, who is fuming, ‘it’s hard to be so powerless.”

We pass our special needs neighbour, the only one who refuses to attend the annual street parties and the hearty family who invite other families over for weekend lunch and then go to the park to have netball tournaments. They glance at us with a mixture of pity and horror.

The wine merchant (who has recently added French cheese to his window display) grimaces in sympathy as we walk past. The rain stops. We march round the park, there are a few dog-walkers escorting giant dogs, but otherwise the park is deserted. I wonder where we have gone wrong, and fantasise about joining a parenting class. In a moment of madness, I suggest that we get a dog. The boy  perks up for a moment before descending into dark gloom again, demanding to be taken home. Is this brittle and determined negativity is a foretaste of teenage years? Or will I look back on this day in the park, and think it was a piece of cake?

Is It Just Me Or Are Fad Diets a Waste of Time and Money?

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