I think it’s fair to say that 2019 has been a shit show. A political nightmare on a global scale. Environmentally disastrous & frankly a genuinely worrying time to be alive. My faith in humanity has taken a battering this year.
It hasn’t been an especially uplifting 12 months on the personal front either. There’s been loss, illness & a struggle for meaning. It has all felt a little pointless at various stages, but I made it. Here I am living & learning. Carrying on.
The year got off to a heartbreaking start, but there have been ups. I cemented a crucial relationship & extricated myself from one, which in hindsight, I hadn’t wanted to be in for quite a while. My people have proven once again how marvellous they are. Circling around when needed & letting me be when required.
There have been a few professional triumphs. I returned to public speaking (terrifying), embarked on a little social media consultation & posed for some excellent photographers. I produced writing I am proud of and my expanded audience significantly.
I applied myself to the task of enjoying life. It’s not always easy when dealing with chronic & mental illness; I’m pleased with my progress. My little ones continue to be of endless interest. I have immersed myself in the joy they bring as often as possible. I’ve allowed myself to enjoy time with someone lovely & undemanding. I even had some successful surgery.
Most importantly (I think), I have released myself from the need to know where I’m going. I always thought my biggest purpose was motherhood & letting go of that dream has been challenging. I felt bereft of meaning. It has taken time & wise counsel to discover that perhaps I don’t need all the answers right now. It’s ok to take some time to breathe & live. Hopefully other options will present themselves. In the meantime I can work on career goals and hopefully continue to squeeze maximum happiness out of life.
So, it’s true. Life goes on. I suppose that’s as true on a larger scale as it is personally. We can still strive to be the change. Sadly, it looks like there will be lots of opportunities to test the courage of our convictions. I hope we prove ourselves brave.
I know I promised to up my #ootd content, but I really haven’t made good. The problem is fatigue has been kicking my arse. One of the things I’ve let slide in my efforts to keep up with life is my appearance.
I don’t say that in a ‘gross’ way. I don’t consider my appearance is the most important thing to be taking care of. I am happy to go make up free and sling on a t shirt dress if it allows me to get life essentials done. All this to say that I have about one in 14 ish day ratio of looking half decent. That doesn’t give me much scope for showing off.
This week I did manage to polish myself up a little for our Tuesday adventure. We had a delicious lunch at Cafe Strange Brew& then took some cakes round to my Dad’s for some rascalling. Top marks to Strange Brew for their vegan offerings & super lovely staff.
I donned this cute little dress & my trusty snag tights. The dress makes me feel like a fat version of Bridget Fonda in Singles. Considering how much I stored that film, this is a very good thing. My new stripey cardi is also a dream. Perfect winter colours & delightfully oversized.
Dress – Primark
Cardi – Asos
Tights – Snag
Pendant – Gift
On a recent trip to pick up some Xmas pressies I ended getting myself a few bits too. One of which was this yummy new lippie. I probably didn’t need another red lipstick, but this shade was irresistible.
I’m still a little bit in holiday mode. I’m struggling a bit with some hardcore fatigue and have given myself until Monday to get back into gear. I didn’t want to leave a gap here, so I settled on the epitome of new year posts; the round-up. My 2018 favourites, if you want to get specific.
I started the year reading what turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year. ‘The Love of a Bad Man’ by Laura Elizabeth Woollett is a collection of short stories that tells the fictionalised (based on real events) account of the women who paired up with some of history’s most notorious bad men. When I say bad, I mean completely evil. It’s dark, but so original. We rarely get an insight into the lives of women caught in the drag of historical men. These imagined tellings of their relationships and (often destroyed) lives is compelling.
My favourite beauty buy (who am I?) this year was bought early on too. It was a super cheap ebay experiment that had amazing results. I have long yearned for a dramatic winged eyeliner look. Alas I have never possessed the requisite skills. Enter my new friend, the eyeliner stamp. It took only a few attempts to perfect the perfect flick. I can now cheat my way to amazing eye flare.
By spring we were already engulfed in a heat wave. The Toyboy & I took advantage of sun & slipped off on a mini break. Kilberry Bay, Tarbert is just stunning. We enjoyed a few peaceful days surrounded by the most beautiful nothing. With a deserted beach so pretty that it’s used as a wedding venue and a gorgeous view of Islay, Kilberry was the ideal spot for a rejuvenating getaway. I find the sound of the tide swooshing on the sand desperately romantic, thus this became my favourite trip of 2018.
Summer brought more sun and No Shame. Lily Allen’s eagerly awaited fourth album. I’ve always loved Lily’s witty lyrics and wry honesty. No Shame ups the auntie on all of that, a lyrical description of the collapse of a marriage, juggling motherhood, work & living. All is laid bare with, you guessed, it no shame. Just lashings of reality. Each track pulsing with the guilt, hope & grit of life.
I took until August to hit the outfit jackpot. The Edinburgh Festival was a masterclass in packing light as I knew I’d have to carry my back pack on the final day. Thus I had to think clever when it came to styling. I ticked all the boxes with this sheer/retro combo. I even managed to make my walking stick look almost cool in this picture. Which is quite a feat, believe me, navigating Edinburgh with a stick is not smooth going.
Last, but most definitely not lost least is my favourite day of the year. February 6th was without a doubt the most magical day of 2018. That’s the day my amazing little sister brought her adorable little man into the world. He has been a complete joy every day since. New babas to love will always be the best thing life can offer, so ’18 was a stellar year.
As the weather gets colder & the nights get darker I feel the need for even more colour. I subscribe to the why wear one colour when you can wear five anyway, but definitely garner warmth from rich tones at this time of year.
I applied this thinking when selecting an outfit for our last day in Dundee. Our plans were lunch with a friend & a wee wander at the harbour. Thus, I wanted cosy, comfortable & chic.
Skirt – Monsoon
Vest – Primark
Jumper – ASOS Curve
Bag – Topshop (gift)
Flats – Primark
I caught up with my lovely friend Dawn over lunch. She’s just returned to scotland after many years living in a London, so we had a bunch to gab about. Afterwards with full bellies & tired tongues the Toyboy & I headed off for a little wander by the water. We checked out some cool big boats (I’m such a maritime expert) & enjoyed the bright day.
I’ve had a pretty blue day. There’s proper storm blowing around outside & I am incredibly tired, which definitely hasn’t helped. Mostly though, I feel shit because too many people have been horrible to me this week.
I had a very small day surgery on Monday, which went smoothly & really wasn’t a huge deal. It was on my dodgy leg & in a spot when stitches are very easy to burst, so I was told to be careful. With that in mind I got a taxi to the train station early on Tuesday morning (I watch my nephew on Tuesdays). The station has a little car park at one side, but that is not the platform I get the train from, so I need the taxi to stop on the main road. I say need because I mean need. If I get out in the car park I have to go out up a big flight of stairs to street level over the tracks & then down a smaller staircase to the platform. Getting out on the street means navigating one smaller set of stairs (which is hard & sore & slow enough). The taxi driver of course did not want to stop on the main road. He was annoyed that he’d have to go a little further down the road to turn at a roundabout & he didn’t want to pull over on a busy road. He argued that it made no sense when the station had a car park. Now, maybe I’m a bitch, but in my mind part of the convenience of paying a taxi to take me somewhere is that I don’t have to explain myself & I get to go where I want to go. I don’t relish having to explain my disabilities & why I can’t do certain things. Especially when I walk with a stick & it’s bloody obvious that stairs are not my friend. I did however tell the driver why I wanted to be dropped in that specific spot, but he still wanted to argue. Thus I had to say either drop me where I say or take me home and don’t get paid. With much muttering under his breath he did as I asked, which probably took less than 5 minutes more & was basically zero hassle to him. This, my day is off to a crap start & I’m already tired of just trying to move around in the world.
I struggle down the steps just in time to heave myself on to a packed train. The train is headed into town & it’s 7.45am, of course there are no seats left. I make my way to the seats that are reserved for the disabled, elderly etc and everyone sitting there avoids eye contact. I don’t know why people do this because not looking at me does nothing to reduce my need to sit down. All it achieves is putting me in the horrible position of having to ask for seat. This, I duly do. I politely ask the women in the closet seat if I can have her seat if she is able to stand. I am met with huffing & puffing as puts her jacket back on and a glare as she vacates the seat. I thank her anyway because I have some bloody manners & sit whilst others who previously avoided looking in my direction now recover their ability to see me. They now make full use of this rediscovered function to gawk at me for most of the journey. I’m sore & tired & anxious & very conspicuous. It isn’t even 8am. I arrive at central station & have to buy a ticket. There was no ticket inspector on the first train & I have to get a second to complete my journey. The ticket office on the platform has the barriers set up to control the queue. I have to walk around it to get into the queuing area & follow the barriers to actually reach the end of the line. I’m slow, i’m conscious of not messing with the wound on my dodgy leg & I am worried about this queue because I’m really not sure I can stand that long. Roll on more rude people. As I follow the path made by the barriers people just barge right past me. One women even does a little run just as I near the end of queue so she can get in front of me. What kind of dickhead rushes to skip a disabled person who is clearly having difficulty? I don’t know, but I can tell you there are too many of them & I don’t always have it in me to let them know that they’re a knob.
Anyway, I get my ticket. I locate the platform of my next train. I find a seat because I can’t go any further until I’ve had a rest. I eat a lovely banana, check my messages & listen to some tunes whilst I gather myself. When it’s time to to head to the train I have recovered some equilibrium. I’m thinking today can be saved. One train journey & I can cuddle my gorgeous wee monkey. This is what I’m thinking as make my way along the platform & a large man barges right into me. He took me completely by surprise, I had nothing to steady myself on & went flying. Mr ‘catching my train is life’ didn’t even stop. No apology, no let me help you up. Kept marching right on & boarded his train. Incidentally his train was my train & it wasn’t leaving for 9 minutes. Whilst he presumably found a good seat I was lying on the platform bleeding. A nice ticket guy helped me up & onto the train. He even radioed someone the description of the guy who knocked me over, but to what end I have no idea. I’m not sure what anyone could really do other than tell him he was a prick. That surgical wound I was being oh so careful with is now bleeding furiously. I didn’t want to remove the dressing on the train, but I’m sure the stitches have burst (they had). So, I’m applying pressure & being watched by other travellers (again) as I try to put myself back together. I was pissed off, but focusing on gathering myself & getting where I needed to go.
Mr nephew was, as always, a delightful little bundle & I got through the day. I arrived home last night utterly exhausted & dropped into bed almost immediately. After a fitful night of sleep I awoke feeling just as tired. My leg is swollen & the wound can’t be restitched (it’s been open over night & restitching would be an infection risk). It will heal, but slower & messier. I had things to do today, but I didn’t do them. Partly because I was in a fair bit of pain and exhausted. Mostly, though, because there was a strong wind & yesterday shook my confidence. The accumulation of the rudeness, arguing, staring & knocking me to the ground was that today I was acutely aware of my disabilities. I didn’t feel up to dealing with the world & perhaps ending up worse for wear again. That realisation made me feel like shit.
I don’t like to think of myself as fragile or incapable. I know my limitations & I try really hard to work around them. I have to think ahead. I do things a bit at a time & I sometimes have tackle things in ways that might not make sense to others. I know I can be awkward. I know that the accommodations I need can be a pest to others. All disabled people know this. We aren’t asking for seats or giving specific instructions for a laugh; it’s the only way we can live in the world. I already feel stressed & anxious about needing these things. I am certain I’m not alone in it that. So, when you force me(us) to explain ourselves it’s horrible. When you make a fuss about being stuck behind me as I move at glacial pace, you are making my life a nightmare. Your stares & sighs can ruin my day. Limping along with a stick at 37 is not my ideal life situation. Fainting on public transport is not a thing I relish. I did not choose to hurt all the live long day. I do not want to have to ask you for anything, but I can assure if I was in your shoes I’d offer my seat with good grace.
I’ll heal. I’ll give myself a shake & force myself back out the door again. I will hold my tongue (most of the time) as you push past me & roll your eyes. I shouldn’t have to, though. Living with my disabilities is hard enough. I don’t want to manage your arsehole tendencies too.
Day 2 of the fringe was a well thought out affair. We had selected (bickered over) which shows to see & carefully scheduled the day. With potato scones in my tummy & a truly excellent outfit we headed out.
Despite all that diligent planning we still managed to miss our first show, mainly because I just can’t move very fast. Thus we found ourselves with time to kill & an abundance of options. We took a punt on Super Sonic 90’s Kid. Me because I’m always up for anything 90’s & the Toyboy because he had spied that it involved gaming. Sooz Kempner spent the 90’s playing Sonic the Hedgehog & the like. She’s now wondering if her 90’s experience had long term impact. The show is a feminist gaming nostalgia fest. Throw in some on the edge one liners, an empowering theme & impressive belting of show tunes and you have a winner. I don’t think I’ve ever played Sonic & I still enjoyed it. If Sooz hits your city I’d definitely recommend buying a ticket.
The TB rushed me to the next venue so quickly that I didn’t have time to check what we were seeing.So, when I found myself in dark room before a spangly gyrating medieval knight I was a little taken aback. Boogie Knights was a hilarious disco infused theatrical romp set in a world where boogie knights must defeat an evil rock king. It’s ridiculous & cheesy & fantastic.
After lunching on some amazing falafel on South Bridge (or as we now call it, falafel st), we got back en piste. Robin Ince was recording Book Shambles sans Josie Long, but plus really cool guests. The afternoon that we caught featured Kiri Pritchard McLean & George Egg. Both guests were insightful & interesting. Robin was, as always, the perfect facilitator. I picked up a few book recommendations & I’m dying to catch up on Kiri’s serial killer podcast. There were giggles & thought provokers in equal measure, which is my ideal fare.
We marched up yet another incredibly steep hill & paused for more dreaded #ootd pics. I got a lot of lovely compliments on my attire in Edinburgh. I’m not going to lie it feels good to be praised from top to toe. So, I was feeling pretty good as we arrived back at the Voodoo Rooms for Mandy Knight’s The Dark Knight. This was another ad hoc pick as we couldn’t get into the show we planned to see. It ended up being one of my favourites. Mandy’s show is a decidedly dark, but humorous look at her life. A dead Dad, experiences of the care system & abortion don’t seem like immediate funny topics, but she had the audience in stitches. Her suggestion that her husband requesting she iron his shirt was the first step on a slippery slope to spousal abuse spoke to my deep ironing phobia. Her unexpectedly happy ending spoke to the damaged crazy girl in me. Oh & we were sitting next to Alan Davies (our one & only celeb sighting) Dark Knight was a big hit. I’ll absolutely be seeing Mandy Knight again whenever I get the chance. She cuts right to the bone, but it’s the funny one.
Once again we were in a mad rush to find a venue that it turns out was not that far away & on a street I knew well. We discovered that the TB’s sense of direction is not great & neither is my ability to recognise street names. All of which meant we did the thing I dread most; arrived late to an intimate venue. Luckily The Creative Martyrs were kind even though they were dealing with the aftermath of the end of the world. After the Apocalypse was a cabaret style look at how democracy can be subverted. With nods to our current insane political situation & a healthy helping of friendly audience participation. I’m usually terrified of the any attempts to involve me in show, but these guys managed to make it entirely intimidation free. A quirky take on political satire.
I emerged from the Armageddon bunker excited. Finally it was time for A Beginners Guide to Bondage. I love anything that’s a bit risqué and had been looking forward to this show since first reading about it. Sara Mason AKA Mistress Venita did not disappoint. She has put together an hilarious memoir/how to of her life as a Dominatrix. We squeezed into the tiniest of tiny rooms and learned about various kinks & props. Some brave souls even offered themselves up as apprentice slaves. I believe she is touring this show, if you like a bit of naughty fun see it. This was an hour of my life very well spent.
Show planner exhausted I hobbled down another bloody hill to find a place to park my arse. We finished our second day of the festival with drinks to live music in Cowgate. My spoons were seriously depleted, but fun was had & I still managed to look damn cute.
On Monday the Toyboy & I headed off for our annual (it’s the 2nd year, that counts, right?) trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. Three days of exhausting, but fabulous adventures ensued.
Our first show of the 2018 fringe was Phil Jupitus is Porky the Poet in Living in A World Where They Through the Ducks at the Bread . That title is quite a mouth full as was some of this show, but in a good way. I’ll be honest, I only really knew Jupitus from Never Mind the Buzzcocks & it turns out I like his poetry much more than I liked that programme. His poetic style is silly & witty & heartwarming. His in between chat is also all of the above. I’m a spoken word/poetry fan, but I think even poetry virgins would enjoy Porky’s words. Oh & bonus I got a free badge that sums me up fairly accurately.
Voodoo Rooms is a perfect example of example of Edinburgh Festival venues. It’s down a lane, riddled with stairs & you’re packed in tight enough to lose circulation in your extremities. We made the mistake of trusting directions of a stranger (male, why can they never admit they don’t know?). We walked around in a massive circle before discovering the venue was about 2 minutes from where we started & on arrival I realised I had actually known where it was all along; I just didn’t know the street name. Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is this is a quintessential festival experience. Finding most venues will become a magical mystery tour of possibly the least disabled friendly city in the world. Everything is up a hill & 3 dozen stairs. Spoonies beware or budget for a lot of taxis!
We acted the tourist for a little bit; had a lunch from a food truck & bought Edinburgh rock. Then I tortured the TB with outfit pictures before an outfit change & catching up with some Edinburgh based friends. After a few cocktails & much hilarity we headed off to our last show of the day.
The Waverley is just off bottom end of the Royal Mile. It looks like it hasn’t been decorated since 60’s & feels like it might house a tiny part of real festival spirit. In the upstairs room there was a sparse audience & a life size cut out of Billy Conolly declaring ‘This is where I started’. I’m not sure if that’s inspiring or just a kick in teeth to those playing a quiet room, but the woman we came to see gave it a spirited try. Becky Fury (that’s her real name) hinted that she perhaps wasn’t having her best night, but she did have some interesting takes on current state of politics. I suspect the show that emerges from her Edinburgh run will be more polished than Lip Salve for the Soul. In the meantime her Star Wars movie via Corbyn memes was funny. Her visual display of how dehumanisation happens, somehow Hillary Clinton faired worse in polls than terrorists, was insightful. Plus her off the cuff material on my breasts was actually pretty fucking amusing. Anyone who can make ‘that’s how genocide happens’ a punchline & get me to laugh when the size of my tits is publicly discussed has got to have talent. I’d say book early for her 2019 show, it’ll be a cracker.
With only two shows under our belts we grabbed some very expensive fast food & headed back to our apartment. We needed a bit of rest because Tuesday was jam packed. Stay tuned for everything from medieval disco theatre to serial killer book podcasts all viewed with eyes adorned in razor sharp liner.