Friday, 23 August 2013

Saturday, 27 July 2013


I know I said I'd finished but I'm missing the old place and this is kind of relevant to my new project so please indulge me.

Handwriting. What does it mean to you?

Now I'm a girl and a dreamer at that so I have spent a lot of time over the years giving careful consideration to my script. Like so much of my life, it started out with bags of promise and has failed to live up to that ever since. It either slopes resolutely in the direction that I am going as was drummed into me at school or it is squat and misshapen as I try to ape a more adult style. Either way, it's never going to be remembered as one of the world's most beautiful hands.

A couple of years ago, I decided to reinvent it. This is not a new idea but one that I've played with a lot over the years. (Well, more at high school than anything to be fair.) If I'm honest, I didn't try awfully hard this time. This isn't like me so I knew that there had to be something else at play in my lack of enthusiasm.

And now I know what it was. What is the point of changing my handwriting when I type everything?

So, on to the point of this. (You've missed my self-indulgent ramblings really. You know you have.)

You may have spotted that I have literary ambitions. I might have mentioned it from time to time. I forget. Anyway, this is all about dreams too. In my dream, I sit, curled in a huge armchair, a mug of steaming coffee balanced on the arm, with Moleskine notebook and fountain pen ready loaded with my purple ink in hand.

And then, in my dream, the words flow from my imagination, through my never-tiring arm and onto the page in tidy but written at speed script. You can just picture it, can't you? Me too.

However, there are several unavoidable flaws in this tableau. Firstly, why would I write in hand when it's so much more efficient to type? Secondly, when I have to type it up anyway why wouldn't I type it up in the first place? And thirdly, I would never be able to read my own handwriting.

But lots of real authors do it that way, not holding with new fangled gadgetry but trusting to pen and ink. It seems to work well for them. But I type much faster and more reliably than I write these days. It may not have always been that way but I am out of the habit of reproducing my thoughts onto paper. My handwriting is awful, my arm tires remarkably quickly and my mind runs away with itself whilst it waits for the rest of me to catch up.

I am about to go on holiday which is, traditionally, when I get a lot of my writing done as my family sleeps. But have I bought myself a new notebook and charged my pen? No. I shall pack the iPad, the wireless keyboard and a couple of spare batteries, dump the whole lot into Dropbox when I'm done and Bob's your uncle.

Not very dreamy, is it?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


My blog is nearing its end - well, in its current form.

It's been 1,797 days since I started writing it. In that time, I have posted 425 times and 33,831 people have popped by to have a look.

However, you may have noticed that recently my posts have become much less frequent. There are lots of reasons for this. Here are just a few!

1. In five years, I have touched on most of the stuff that I might want to share.
2. My children are growing and I need to protect their privacy in a way that is less important when they are young.
3. I use my spare time to work on my real writing.
4. I no longer need to use the blog in the way that I did in the beginning. I have changed.
5. There are far too many blogs out there. When I started, it was relatively unusual. It isn't now.

I'm not going to kill it, poor little thing but its direction will change. Like Doctor Who, it will regenerate and rise up, Phoenix like from the ashes of its former self to shine forth and light the way to a new beginning. Hmmm. Well, something like that. I'm just not quite sure how as yet. I shall spend some time thinking about the way forward and in the meantime the odd post may pop up if inspiration strikes me.

I've had a blast writing it. I've got myself into a fair bit of hot water over the years but in the main, people have been very complimentary about my musings. So if you have made time to read what I have written, thank you so much.

So let's raise a glass (or coffee mug - whatever is handy) to the future and that scary, exhilarating and altogether unpredictable roller-coaster ride that is life! Chinchin x

Monday, 24 June 2013


Last weekend my eldest had her School Prom.

Speaks volumes doesn't it? In fact, I'm not actually sure where to start. I could base this post on the fact....

1. that I have a child old enough to go to a prom;
2. that girls who are so young can look so groomed and, let's face it, adult;
3. that the contrast between the physical and mental maturity of the boys and girls is still very marked, even at 16;
4. that we seem to have an entire industry grown up around something that was unheard of on these shores not that many moons ago;
5. that the Prom is a source of mental anguish for almost every girl attending it for months beforehand;
6. that the amount of money spent at this, a very modest Prom, verges on the obscene;
7. that we are buying into the whole celebrity glamour thing by encouraging our daughters to behave like them when they are barely out of puberty.

See? I could go on and on.

I think the reason why I couldn't decide on an angle for this post is because my mind is so mixed on the subject. I was lucky. The whole event seem to pass off with only minimal drama in this house. I gave my eldest a budget three months ago with firm instructions that she had to pay for everything Prom related out of it. How she chose to divide the money was up to her but that was all she was going to get from us.

So she bought a dress and shoes, paid for nails and tan, did her own hair and makeup and bought a space on a bus with a gang of other girls to get her there. The only minor crisis required me to make an emergency dash to the supermarket at Departure Time minus twenty minutes to source more eyelashes, the first lot having come to a sticky end.

And on the night the end result of three months of planning and fretting and hoping was that my daughter looked beautiful, I nearly burst with pride and she had a lovely evening. So what's not to like?

Well, I can't help thinking that a similar amount of fun could be had a more low key celebration of the end of compulsory education. If someone had, before the Prom expectation had been raised, suggested that they all attend an End of School Party in a village hall somewhere.....

But the genie is out of the bottle and we cannot go back. So each year expectations get higher, dresses pricier and grooming more slick. And if this is how high you're aiming at just 16, I can't help but worry that real life is going to be a bit of a disappointment.

On the other hand.....why shouldn't they have a big, fancy blow out at Ilkley's red-carpeted hotel? They've worked hard for five years and now they are on the cusp of starting college, sixth form or work. They are so much more sophisticated than me and my friends were at their age and if that makes them a product of their environment then what's wrong with that? They shouldn't be held back just because no one had invented GHDs when I was 16.

In the end, I have decided not to overthink it all. It is as it is and that is that. And will be that all over again next year when Daughter 2 reaches the end of Year 11. I wonder if they could do a prom for the parents?!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


'Fancy having a sneaky experience?' asked my husband a few weeks back. He has a fondness for odd nights out. The last one was a Twin Peaks night in an old, Egyptian inspired flax mill in Leeds.
'Ok,' I replied doubtfully.

But I was wrong to be nervous. The Sneaky Experience turned out to be great fun. Basically, we bought tickets to see a film. We didn't know what it was going to be but the evening's organisers gave us clues in the period running up to the night. By the time we got there, we knew it was going to be an 80's classic. We had guessed Footloose but when we arrived just in time to see men in overalls direct a model plane into the warehouse, we worked out it was going to be Top Gun.

The 80's theme was well developed and fancy dress was the order of the day. Now, I turned 13 in 1979 so my popular culture and fashion antennae are highly tuned to the 80s. I can remember what it looked like, how it felt. From Lady Di sloanes to jeans with coloured piping down the side. From huge shoulder pads to rockabilly, Phil Oakley's fringe to Shakin' Stevens' denim. I remember it all.

There wasn't much of what I know as 80's clobber on display though. There were a few film characters, a couple of quirky Molly Ringwald lookalikes and Vyvyan from The Young Ones. And me of course. Almost everyone else was wearing either neon lycra or netting. Of course they were. Think 80s, think neon lycra and netting. Or legwarmers with high heels. That was another popular one. But did you actually ever wear either of these? Rara skirts maybe but they weren't made of net. Madonna wore a bit of lace early on and Cyndy Lauper might have had some net but wasn't that about it?

I didn't wear net or neon and neither did any of the people that I knew. Huge jumpers. Yes. Leggings. Yes. Docs. Well, not personally but yes. Frankie Says t shirts - ashamed to say yes.

Of course, the reason why the fashion of the 80's has been mutated into this bizarre, not quite accurate melting pot is because these are the items that are cheap to make and easy for fancy dress shops to cross brand. Buy in a load of tutus and then you can ship them out for hen nights, teenage parties, tarts and vicars and '80s nights and let period accuracy be damned.

But you can't really blame the party goers. ( Here is a sample!) Most of them weren't even born in the 80s, let alone able to make accurate fashion notes for future reference. Pretty soon even those of us who were actually there will be convincing that everyone wore striped tights and tutus. And this made me wonder whether the 50s or the 60s were actually as I imagine or whether Grease and Mad Men  have given us a skewed picture. I should ask my mum.

Anyway, fancy dress issues aside, we had a fantastic night with our Sneaky Experience. There was a mini roller disco,  we sang and wolf whistled our way through Top Gun and then enjoyed a top 80's disco to finish off the evening. Keep your eyes open for the next Sneaky Experience. It's well worth all the mystery.
 (Here I am in my homage to Dexy's /Banarama!)

Sunday, 2 June 2013


There are some lovely photos of my childhood. Fewer of my brother but then that's the price you pay for not being the first born. They are kept in a series of well loved and consequently shabby albums, the oldest pictures held in place with white paper corners and then later, under sticky clear plastic which has lost its stick.

There's cine film too. Funny, slightly too fast images of my family self-consciously waving and then performing some trick for the camera. It's all very charming and allows me to hold on tight to a few cherished memories that would otherwise be lost.

Fast forward forty years and my children's childhood is being recorded very differently. They straddle two ages. The older ones have photos of them that were taken on film. (Remember that? You popped the cartridge in an envelope, sent it off and then waited, hoping that you remembered to take the lens cap off on at least some of the shots.) There are tapes of their early days too which we filmed on a video camera the size of a loaf of bread.

Now that we've entered the digital age, things photographic are very different. We all have millions of photos which we fail to upload or print off and consequently are left with the feeling that we have been somewhat short changed by this technological revolution.

It's rare that you see a real camera these days. Smart phones are the top dog for day to day shots - a compromise of convenience over quality. I take pictures of things that amuse me and then, trusting that my friends will be amused by them also, I post them on Facebook in the blink of an eye. I don't think that's a bad effort for a woman closer to fifty than forty.

But my children's generation have a totally different attitude. They photograph everything! Food, shoes,  school books, hair styles, everything. But mainly they photograph themselves pulling Zoolander pouts, their right shoulder always slightly out of alignment from holding the camera up. Narcissus had nothing on them.

And now there's Snapchat allowing you to send instantaneous clips of yourself to your friends, knowing that they will self combust in a matter of seconds (unless the recipient is quick-witted enough to record it). Even my nine year old's at it, sending us countless little pastiche each day.

The trouble is, all these hilarious films and photos are on my children's gadgetry and as we all know, time and the passing thereof means nothing to them. They are unaware that the precious little archive that they are building up of their own childhood, whilst it seems ephemeral today, will be the stuff of memories when they are my age.

So I'm going to make this 'Upload It Sunday'. That way, at that at least some of it can be preserved somewhere central and then the magic moments of childhood that the four of them are sharing will be kept safe. Just like my mum's beloved photo albums.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


I've got a new hobby.

Well, I say that but only time will tell whether my new activity makes the transition from obsession to hobby. At the moment, if I'm honest, it's still pretty much in the obsession stage but, knowing myself as I do, I can kind of spot the tell tale signs of a sticker.

You're dying to know what it is aren't you? I could keep you there, suspended in irritating ignorance for another paragraph or so but I won't. I'm just slightly reluctant to type its name in case it does turn out to be a flash in the pan kind of thing resulting in my failure to stick at it being writ large across the internet.

But in for a penny and all that. It's quilting. Stop sniggering. I can hear you from here. In fact, and I'm not defending myself here, I've always loved quilts, marvelling at the detail and the amount of work that goes into them. I even had a dalliance with the hobby a few years back but abandoned my efforts as being too fiddly at a time when my life already made complicated by the requirements of small children.

So, when a six weeks beginners' course popped up on Facebook it caught my eye. I mentioned it to a friend and before we knew it we had 'fat quarters' of fabric, flat headed pins and lots of cereal boxes cut into squares of various shapes. Then followed five weeks of cutting, pressing, sewing, chatting and cursing with the net result that I have almost finished my first effort. ( See below for proof.)

Of course, me being me, a small sampler quilt a metre square was not enough and before I knew it I had committed myself to making a double quilt each for all four of the children. I know. Madness! But with that promise came purchasing opportunities. Fabric, obviously. There is an almost overwhelming selection to choose from. Then, there are books that I must have - hundreds of books to choose from each promising to be the only one I'll ever need. And now gadgetry. Scissors just won't do it. I clearly need a self healing cutting board (honestly. You cut into it and it fixes itself!) and an elaborate pizza cutter- like affair to make cutting out endless fabric shapes a breeze.

All I have to do now is maintain my interest long enough to make my purchases worthwhile. This will be a challenge. I do have a variety of previous crafting obsessions hidden, skeleton-like in my cupboards. Well, one cupboard in particular as it goes. I shall begin quilt one tomorrow. It is a simple, vintage-looking affair with fabric and design chosen by my eldest daughter. And I have two years until she anticipates leaving home to go to university so that gives me plenty of time to get it finished. Watch this space!

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Ok. Enough shilly-shallying, prevaricating and procrastinating. The time has come. The moment is nigh.

As you know, I have been wittering on about my writing ambitions for a couple of years now. I bore anyone who shows even the slightest interest in my life and I think won't scoff at me. I even have my aspirations as part of my tagline on my underused twitter account. But until I actually do something about it, it will remain a pipe dream; something to while away the hours day-dreaming about, like a huge lottery win or my ideal home.

And it's not like I don't write. I have three novel manuscripts, ideas for at least two more and numerous short stories all waiting in the wings to make their nerve-wracking debut.

The trouble is, once I send them out to someone who knows their stuff, then my dream may suddenly be thrust onto life support. I know that everyone gets rejected, that it's part of the package and that I have to have a tough skin to survive. But what if I am rejected not simply because my story isn't right for that organisation or won't easily find a market. What if my writing is just plain bad?! Up goes my dream like an explosion in a match stick factory.

So yesterday I went to the Newcastle Writing Conference, designed to help new and emerging writers learn something about the tricky art of getting yourself published. I didn't know what to expect. I dressed up in case I needed to make a good impression, unnecessarily as it turned out. I found my way to the venue and made a beeline for the front row. I wasn't a front row kind of schoolgirl but now that I'm all grown up, I like to see the whites of the speakers' eyes. That way, I can forget what's going on behind me and imagine that they are delivering their talk exclusively for my benefit.

The organisers had put together a stella cast of speakers and I sat there, slightly star-struck, fascinated by the people who were already sitting where I long to be. I could have listened forever but when the day finally drew to a close and I was driving back down the A1, I gave myself a pep talk. I just have to  take a deep breath and plunge into the icy waters, regardless of my fear. I must dress my manuscript in its best bib and tucker and send it off into the world to make its fortune. And I owe it to myself to do that now.

So next time I am self-indulgently boring the pants off you about my literary ambitions, you have my permission to question me on my progress and mock me mercilessly if nothing has changed. After all, dreams are all very well but if you don't chase them to within an inch of their life then is there really any point harbouring them?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013


I caused a bit of a kerfuffle amongst my friends yesterday. It was quite unintentional.... well maybe not entirely but it was an interesting and thought provoking experience nonetheless.

Early in the day, I announced on facebook that I was going to meet a stranger and would be needing the identifying cliches of a flower in my lapel and a copy of The Times under my arm. My friends laughed at me. 'How exciting!' a couple of them quipped.

Then I pointed out that had one of my teenage daughters agreed to meet a stranger that they had 'met' on the internet, on their own, in a relatively remote place we wouldn't call it exciting.

At this point the mood changed a little as my friends began to think through the possible outcomes. Within a few posts, the discomfort that they felt with my proposed course of action became palpable. I said I would post every hour so they knew I was safe. Someone suggested a safeword so they could be sure that it was me on the other end. It was a joke, I thought.

I met the lady in question and had a thoroughly pleasant time wandering around RHS Harlow Carr and taking lunch in Betty's tearoom. My cyberfriend was not a sinister stalker but a member of my University tutorial group who had not been able to make it to face to face tutorials. But my friends did not know this.

By the time I returned to the car and checked my phone, I had texts from two friends and a string of facebook messages, each sounding more worried than the last. I laughed out loud at their highly entertaining concern and quickly typed the safeword so that they knew that I had not been abducted.

On the drive home I began to think. I knew who I was meeting. No, we had not met in person but I had enough points of contact to be pretty certain that she was who she said she was. This is the wisdom of age. I would not have arranged to meet there with someone who had just turned up as a reader of my blog for example. But perhaps my daughters might?

But what struck me more was the concern that my friends showed. Yes, for most of them it was as much a game as it was to me. Yet there was that kernel of doubt, just nagging at the back of their minds, that I might be walking into danger and would need protection.

Generally, this is not the kind of situation that looms large in my world. I am an adult, I am intelligent and experienced and very rarely either need help or ask for it. But if the chips were down, like they might have been yesterday, it's great to know that I have friends out there who care enough to look out for me if I need looking out for. I like that x

Sunday, 14 April 2013


It's been a while. Sorry. Life kind of got in the way, you know how it does.

At the moment I'm very animated about a story that I'm writing. Write what you know they say so it's all about self doubt. You probably know how it goes. You have an idea, meet someone, apply for a job - whatever. It goes well. You are all fired up by it. You catch yourself dreaming about what will happen when you are successful. You might even run through a couple of conversations in your head - how you could announce your news, a pithy one liner for those that doubted you.

Then something happens. The gilt comes off the edges of your idea. You investigate it further and discover that instead of it being a priceless piece of Faberge jewellery, it is, in fact, just paste. You deride yourself for having thought that your idea could ever come to fruition. You mentally go through a list of anyone that you might have seen whilst the idea was still fresh and exciting and make a judgement on their likelihood to scoff when, as you're sure was obvious to them, it fails to come off.

By the time you've finished giving yourself a going over, the idea is such a bad one that you blush at the memory of it.

Ok. So maybe that's an extreme case but you take my point. The interesting thing about all that is the idea doesn't change. Yes, there is always time for mature reflection on something but fundamentally if you thought it was a great idea then it might well have been. And if you now think it sucks then that may well be because you are no longer on the same square as you were.

I am learning to recognise this in trait in myself and to give myself the chance to properly consider my ideas before I reject them out of hand. But what really interests me is the people that never suffer from this. There are loads of them. They have an idea and if they think its a good one then they plough on with it. At no point does their confidence in it wobble. They seem to bypass the whole self doubt thing and move straight on to completion whilst I am still wasting valuable time wondering whether I'm going to get egg on my face. I'm sure that their ideas are no better than mine but their self control apparently is.

So I'm writing a story about it. It's easy to put myself in my protagonist's place. I keep talking to people about how their self doubt manifests itself so that mine begins to look perfectly reasonable. I am also looking out for those who seem to have no self doubt at all (although surely either they are fibbing or some of their ideas must fall flat despite their confidence in them?! We can't all have great ideas every time.)

If you feel you fall into either of these camps and are happy to share your experience then please get in touch. In the meantime, I'll carry on with my story which, by next week, will no doubt have become the worst idea I ever had!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Over the years, I have found that the difference between being busy and being stressed lies in the level of control that I have over a situation. There can be deadlines and priority tasks coming out of my ears but as long as feel on top of it all I can sail over them like some majestic ocean-going ship.

But take away that element of control and suddenly it's a very different story. I feel myself starting to panic. I flick between the To Do list and the calendar without really taking in the details of either and my heart races at the impossibility of the task that I have before me.

March was a bit like that. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that as a family we were over-committed and as self-appointed Captain of the good ship Clark I took it upon myself to steer us into calmer waters and land before we all got scurvy. ( Ok! Enough of the sea metaphors please.)

Today I am calm. Ok, there's still frost on the grass but the sky above me is blue and the birds are singing. I have finished my troublesome Life Writing Assignment without having to blatantly lie, I have got to the end of my highly productive but actually quite stressful Fast Fiction Experiment, school is shut and there is chocolate in every corner of my house. Ok, I have one child on crutches after a nasty operation, GCSEs hammering on the door and two more quite demanding assignments to write but I am in control and so there is no stress attached to them - today.

Time to take stock methinks and focus on lessons learned. The first thing is that we survived it all. It seems that having a strong foundation of routine in place means that when things start to get choppy ( oops - sorry!)  we can fall back on how things usually run as we all singing from the same hymn sheet (that's a paper sheet - not a rope.)

I have also learned that when the chips are down, I don't actually have to do everything myself. My teenagers rose to the challenge beautifully, collecting siblings, cooking meals and generally acting as mini-mes when required. I probably need to relinquish control a little and expect more of them so that they can build on the levels of responsibility that they took up when I needed help

Finally, I should perhaps learn to say no to them more often. March would have been tricky no matter what but it was the added extras that nearly scuppered the ship. ( I give up! I can't help myself.) There is no shame once in a while, in the interests of self-preservation, in accepting that there are limits to what can be achieved.

But, then again, we took it all on, we didn't drop any balls and we have come out the other side in one piece. So perhaps biting off more than you can chew isn't necessarily always a bad idea. But don't ask me to do anything extra this month!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


‘Who can tell me what happened on 20th July 1969? 
Yes. That’s right. America first landed on the moon. And who knows who took the first step? 
Right again. That was Neil Armstrong, all American hero. And if you were to say that in a million classrooms around the world you would get a gold star. But here we know different don’t we? We know that the moon landings were faked by NASA and the American government to con the Russians. The whole thing was a giant conspiracy. 
And how do we know that? Well, those clever boffins at NASA just weren’t quite clever enough. Why are there no stars in any of the photos? And the shadows are all wrong. It’s obvious that the shots were taken in a film studio. One of the so called moon rocks even had a props mark on it! Can you believe that?! Amateurs. And if Neil Armstrong took the first step who was there to film him? Huh?
They think they’re so smart with their fake history but I’m on to them. All I have to do is get myself out of this room and then I’ll prove it to the world.’

200 words

Monday, 1 April 2013


The sky above them was leaden and she wondered if it always rained at funerals. It would seem unnatural if the sun was beating down, as though the gods were laughing. Caroline was aware of mourners sobbing as they stood at the open grave but she no longer had any tears to shed. She felt nothing, just a numbness that pierced her heart like a shard of ice. She could see Sam’s mother shaking silently as she tried to control her grief. It was wrong for a mother to have to bury her child. Was it worse than finding yourself a widow at 45? Across in the distance she could still see Kyle MacAlistair. He had been standing at the gate as the cortege passed by. He looked like a ghost, his guilt gradually stealing his soul. Her brother, angry and raw had hissed,
‘Why is he here, the bastard? He has no right.’ He beat his hand on the side of the car and the chauffeur jumped. ‘I’ll get rid of him Caro. I will avenge Sam’s death. I’ll do it for you.’
Caroline quietly shook her head. There would be no need for that. Kyle was punishing himself.

200 words

Saturday, 30 March 2013


The view took Caitlin’s breath away. The contrast between the deep blue sky and the terracotta roofs was achingly beautiful. The sunlight bounced off the white tiles of the Duomo and she fumbled for her sunglasses, still nestling in her hair after the long climb up the dark bell tower steps. Florence looked spectacular and as she drank it in Caitlin could feel the stresses of her life in England ebb away. It had been worth setting the alarm early just to get up here before the crowds she thought. She did not notice the man in the blue cap until he was standing at her elbow.
‘Well, this is a surprise,’ he said.
Caitlin looked at the man and he lifted his cap so she could see his eyes. Her heart lurched. 
‘What are you doing here?’ she whispered.
‘I’m on holiday, just like you.’
‘But here?’
‘I know! How weird is that? Of all the places...’ He smiled at her menacingly.
She started to back away from him.
Desperately she tried to think. Would the restraining order apply here in Italy?
‘Maybe it’s a coincidence?’ he continued as he stepped closer. ‘But I prefer to call it serendipity.’

200 words

Friday, 29 March 2013


When we were ten we went to stay at our uncle’s house. He wasn’t really our uncle, just a friend of our dad’s. The house was massive. There was a spooky damp cellar which was not for the faint-hearted. The only light came from a single bulb and you could never see right into the corners. We loved to play chase down there.
There were always loads of kids around. I think my uncle liked it noisy. He had a pool table in one of the spare rooms and a fantastic sound and lighting system. He used to DJ for us and the girls would dance in little circles.
There was one room where the girls used to play dressing up. It had a wardrobe stuffed full of flouncy dresses. I suppose the clothes must have belonged to his wife when she  still lived there. There was a huge mirror along one wall and the girls liked to put on fashion shows for us boys and my uncle. In the evening we used to watch scary films all snuggled up together on the battered sofa. 
It’s strange though. My sister’s memory of that house is quite different to mine.

200 words.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


'A whisky, please.’
‘Coming up sir.’
‘I needed that.’
‘That’ll be £5 please sir.’
‘Damn. No money. I need to pop to the cash machine round the corner.’
‘I need payment sir or I’ll lose my job. For all I know you might just hot-foot it out of here.’
‘Tell you what, let me leave these coins here as collateral. They’re old. I think they might be worth something. I’ll be right back.’

‘Where did you get these coins? They’re worth a fortune. I’ll give you £50,000 for them.’
‘No can do sir. I’m just looking after them for someone.’
‘Well, when he comes back give him this card and ask him to ring me.’

‘There. I told you I’d be right back. Now, what do I owe you?’
‘Excuse me. I’m a numismatist. I couldn’t help but notice those coins. They’re quite valuable. I could give you £20,000 for them.’

‘You’re joking! It’s my lucky day. You have a deal.’

Money changes hands and another greedy man loses his shirt, robbed by a flimflam that’s as old as the hills. I say nothing. I’m just the bartender. I’m not paid to notice stuff. But I do.

200 words

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


‘What are you going to go for?’ the tattoo artist asked. 
Lola continued to flick through the well thumbed folder of options. Each page was protected by a plastic sleeve and she wondered whether the pictures were in danger of being stained by tears. Or blood! She didn’t want to think about it. It had taken almost everything she had to get herself to the parlour in the first place. Her friends had scoffed - ‘A tattoo? You? With your needle phobia?’
‘I mean I can do pretty much anything you want,’ the artist continued. ‘Hearts? Birds? A neat little lizard? A unicorn? Whatever you want really’.
Lola could feel sweat gathering under her armpits. She chewed at the inside of her lip and tasted blood, sweet, metallic. Her heart raced and her head was telling her to run and not look back. Decisively she banged the folder back down on the desk.
‘Changed your mind?’ the artist asked and started to turn away. He must have seen fear like hers a hundred times.
Lola swallowed hard. 
‘No. I know exactly what I want thanks. It’s just that it’s not in your book. Please put ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ over my heart.’ 

200 words

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


We were booked for the treatment at 2 and as we waited in the dayroom in our white toweling robes I began to wonder if I should just have chosen a facial. The woman in white called our names and led us away. My paper knickers rustled as I walked and I suddenly felt horribly self-conscious. She took us into a tiled room, warm and humid like a rainforest. In the middle were three bowls of mud, white for the face, red for the front and black for the back. She left us. We looked at each other and sniggered. Even though we had shared secrets and even a bed in the past this suddenly felt incredibly intimate. Still, in for a penny... I put my hand in the black mud. It was warm and unguent and it oozed through my fingers. I smeared it delicately on Kate’s back and she shivered and then giggled. Next I took a little white clay and made myself a mask behind which I felt my inhibitions melting. Soon we were both entirely covered in the healing mud. It was in my hair, under my nails, everywhere. It felt good to let go.

200 words

Monday, 25 March 2013


Having shuffled through the formal reception area of Iwakuni Castle in a line of Japanese and American tourists, we finally reached a room filled with glass display cabinets. I waited until there was a gap in the crowd and then worked my way to the front. On the stark white backboard hung a vicious looking weapon. It was black with a sickle-like blade and a heavy chain attached. The card read ‘Kusarigama - 1467’. I stared at the kusarigama, trying to imagine the damage that such a thing could inflict in trained hands. Gradually I became aware of a man to my left. He was small, his silver hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. His moonlike face was smooth even though he must have been at least 80 years old. He too was staring at the weapon. 
‘It’s a impressive looking object,’ I said although I wasn’t sure that he would speak English.
‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘It belonged to my great great grandfather. He was Shinobi like his father before him.’
‘A ninja? Really?’ I was fascinated and about to ask more but our tour guide was shouting to reassemble us. When I turned back the man was gone.

200 words.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


‘Oh darling don’t bore the good people. Pass the wine would you. I got the idea for the plot whilst on my travels in the Far East you know.’ The eminent author Ferdinand du Vall waved his hand dismissively at his wife. The other diners were soaking up every word as if trying to gain some insight into the creative talent of this man who was widely regarded to be the best writer of his generation. His wife took another long drink and then began to pull at an invisible hangnail. Surrounded by the splendour of the night she looked out of place, her dingy day dress in sharp contrast with the elegant designer gowns worn by other guests.
Someone tapped at a glass with a fork and silence descended on the room as the sense of anticipation rose.
‘And the prize for Best Book goes to........Ferdinand du Vall.’ The room erupted.
As du Vall stood up to collect his prize, beaming beatifically at his audience, his wife whispered to the man on her right. 
‘Of course, you know he’s a phoney,’ she said casually. ‘It’s me that writes,’ but no one heard her over the wave of applause.

200 words

Saturday, 23 March 2013


He knew there was no one there but as he peered through the glass into the dark garden beyond he felt sure he saw a figure standing by the fence. He looked again but the shape evaporated into the branches of the buddleia. You are being paranoid he told himself, shaking his head to eject unwelcome thoughts. He should draw the curtains to shut out the night but was that a face staring back at him, pale against the darkness? His heart began to race, his pulse pounding in his ears as he held his breath and listened. The rattling of a window? Were the doors locked? The front door had secured itself as it closed behind him but the back? He raced to the kitchen knocking over a lamp in his urgency. He scrabbled in a drawer and found the key. His hands shook so violently that it took three attempts to hit the target. The lock turned with a satisfying clunk. He stood with his back against the door, all danger now barred from his house.Then, the light cast by the upturned lamp in the next room moved. Whatever it was was no longer outside the house.

200 words

Friday, 22 March 2013


‘You shouldn’t be in here Toby. You’ll be costing me my licence.’

Toby sat on a stool, his short legs dangling and counted pennies into piles of ten. The collection jar had sat on the bar forever. Punters dumped their spare change into it. No one ever asked what happened to the money but from time to time I would bag it up and drop it in at Oxfam.

‘We’re lucky aren’t we Daddy?’ 
‘Yes Toby. We are very lucky.’
It’s not luck I thought. It’s hard graft but I held my tongue.
‘Danny’s not lucky,’ Toby said and then he slid down from the stool and ran into the back.

I served a couple of regulars and then I set about bagging up the coins.Toby’s bags were all short by 10p. That made 70p.

‘Tobes? Did you take some of the jar money?’ I asked at teatime. Toby looked me straight in the eye and lied. I gave him the lecture about honesty, integrity, trust. ‘People put money in that jar for charity Toby. You mustn’t take it for yourself.’

Toby didn’t speak for a long time.

“Danny had toast at break today. From the tuck shop,’ he said.

200 words

Thursday, 21 March 2013


It was a perfect summer’s afternoon. The sunlight cast a golden glow over the ripening wheat fields with only the occasional poppy to distract the eye. Victoria’s discarded parasol leant nonchalantly against the rough bark of the tree, rendered redundant by the swaying canopy of leaves. She leaned back against the red velvet cushions and closed her eyes. Somewhere a peewit called to its mate. Victoria’s head was spinning deliciously and her body felt as if it belonged to someone else. Perhaps she’d been wrong to send Mark for another bottle but they had nothing to rush home for. Afternoon would bleed into evening.

The motion in her head was starting to make her feel a little sick and she opened her eyes, trying to focus on the branches above her. Maybe they could climb the tree later, when Mark got back. She peered through the leaves to the blue sky above but there was something blocking her view. She squinted and her brow wrinkled as she tried to make it out. Its shape changed as it twisted slowly in the gentle breeze. It was only then that she saw the boots of the hanging man. His laces were untied.

200 words

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


‘Not bad, not bad.’ 

My new boss perused my letter, red pen hovering like a kestrel, ready to swoop on any infringements of grammar or law.

I relaxed a little. If it was taking this long to find a problem with my work then perhaps it was acceptable, good even. The relentless shifting from Partner to Partner as I made my way around the law firm in pursuit of qualification was fraught with danger. Should I write in first person or third? Did the client need an introductory paragraph or was that a waste of time and fees? But this boss seemed easy to please. He was handing my draft back for signing without a single red blemish. I stood a little taller in my stilettos.  Three months in and already penning the perfect letter.

‘Hang on.’ He pulled the paper towards him and my confidence evaporated. ‘‘Outwith”? What kind of word is that?’

I wasn’t sure. It sounded legalistic and my boss, I mean yesterday’s boss, used it all the time.

‘Is it not right?’ I stuttered. I watched the red pen run it though like Zorro’s sword. In that moment I learned always to select my own words.

200 words.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


This year I will win. I will hold the last unopened Easter Egg. Last year it was Claire. And the year before. I don’t think she even likes chocolate. I had five eggs lined up on the bookshelf in size order. It seemed easy then. I would just save the last one, maybe two to be safe. But the eggs called to me from their cardboard coffins and I could not resist their siren cries. Now just one remains. It is the smallest, its purple foil bearing witness to the honeycomb pattern on the chocolate beneath. I smooth the foil with my finger and the wrinkles move from top to bottom. I could open it from the back. I could scratch out a small hole in the chocolate and have a little taste. No one would know. I open the box from the bottom, noting the intricate folds of cardboard for the rebuild. Gently I peel back the foil in one piece. I push with my thumb, harder, harder. The egg implodes and sits in shards on my lap. No point saving it now. I cannot rebuild it even with the foil to hide the cracks. I eat. I lose.

200 words

Monday, 18 March 2013


I had never really noticed the penguin before. It must have been sitting on that shelf for years, since the children, now long gone, were small. I had an unstable memory of a trip to the zoo, of Robert demanding that we bought it for him. He drank his juice from it for a week or two and then it was forgotten and moved to its home on the top shelf behind the cake tins.

Carefully I lift it down. It was thick with sticky dust, the plastic of its beak brittle with age. I always thought it had a sinister air about it, a certain sneer about its smile. I contemplate sending it to Robert with the other things of his that I have collected as I empty the house. What would the new wife Cassandra make of that? It would not suit the minimalist lines of her perfect kitchen with its garish black and orange smile. Cassandra would wrinkle her pretty nose and then throw it away, not keep it safe for thirty years as I had inadvertently done.

I drop the penguin into the bin bag and hear it crack as it hits the stone flags beneath.

200 words

Sunday, 17 March 2013


The two buckets sat side by side on the sand. Mine was blue with a shark on the side but it was a cartoon shark with a smiley face. Gemma’s was orange with a crab waving its pincers high in the air. I liked mine best but it would have been better with a picture of a real shark.

Gemma’s bucket was full to the top of shells. She had been collecting them all morning. She stood there with her chest out and her nose in the air like this was some incredible thing that she had done. But if you looked at her bucket, I mean really looked, the shells were nothing special. Lots of them were broken, only bits of shells really and they were all still covered in wet sand. Her bucket looked a bit like the bottom of a concrete mixer.

‘Oh well done Gemma darling,’ mummy said. ‘How gorgeous they are.’ But she didn’t really look. She didn’t see the big stone at the bottom that made the bucket look full.

‘Oh James,’ she said. ‘Just one shell?’ and she walked away.

But my shell was perfect. A caramel twist with a pale pink centre. 

200 words

Saturday, 16 March 2013


‘You don’t like it.’ 

‘No. I do. Honestly. It’s just...’

What? That it isn’t quite what I was expecting? When she’d mentioned that she was going for a new look I clearly had not exercised my imagination as hard as she had. Her face is starting to crumple. I can almost see her self confidence taking flight. If I am going to salvage anything from this I need to say something. Now.

‘It’s just that it’s so different. You look...’ Again words fail me. Come on Paul. This is not the moment to suffer an uncharacteristic loss of vocabulary. I can see tears glistening in the corners of her eyes.

‘I knew it was a mistake. I knew it. I should have made her stop right at the beginning when there was still enough to bob. What did I think I was doing?’ 

She is no longer talking to me but to her reflection which smirks back at us, its new cropped orange hair saying all that is needed.

I like her hair long, dark, glossy. I like to twist it like rope through my fingers and pull her towards me.

‘I think marmalade suits you,’ I lie.

She wails.

200 words.


Life is fast. Fast food. Fast communication. Fast transport. And now fast fiction.

It's hardly a new idea. People far more imaginative than I am have been doing it for years. However, just because I'm late to the party doesn't mean that I can't have a dance.

So this is how it's going to work for me. One (or hopefully many) of you will give me a word that will act as a prompt for a story. This can either be as a comment on my most recent post - it might help if you identify it as a prompt so that I don't write something based on the many spam comments that I receive - or as a reply on the Imogen Clark at Home Facebook page.

I will then endeavour to write a 200 word story which incorporates your word.

I must be mad! Already I am nervous about this concept and I haven't even posted this blog yet.  I could just change my mind. But hey! Life's short, I like writing and you lot read what I write most of the time so how wrong can it go?!

(P.S. If I get lots of suggestions it's going to take me a while but I will attend to the stories in the strict order that I get the prompt so if your story takes a while to pop up then please be patient. I will get there eventually.)

Let the fast fiction fest commence!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


I think I need a Spring de-clutter.

I'm not really talking about my house. I'm quite good at sifting through and getting rid. With six of us living under one roof there simply isn't the room to hang onto things that don't have a purpose.

No. I mean my mind. My head is completely cluttered up with stuff and most of it is pointless.

There are all those things that I've known as long as I can remember. Song lyrics mainly. Nothing recent of course. Hits of the 80s in the main and the words to random hymns. It's all very jolly to find that when a long forgotten ditty pops up on the radio I can pluck the words from the recesses of my mind and sing along. It's not very useful.

But I can't remember how to do long division or anything about my first seven years of life or the phone numbers of my children. This things elude me no matter how hard I try. There just doesn't seem to be any space left for them.

And then there's the day to day rubbish. It feels like the better part of my brain is fully engaged by who needs to be where when, what they need with them and when they can be fed. And not only do I have to remember everything once but then I have to send texts to remind them all to do the things that I reminded them about at breakfast because by then the rest of their busy lives will have taken over and they will have forgotten. It's my job to make sure that that doesn't happen. Sometimes I reflect on how irritating it must be for them to get a text like that. I wouldn't know of course. I never get one.

I try not to make lists. It is my equivalent of doing sudoku, keeping it all in my head with just my diary as aide memoire. I'm hoping that the mental gymnastics of family life will be enough to keep my brain from shrivelling up as old age approaches. The trouble is that my head is so bunged up with the detritus of daily life that there doesn't seem to be any space left for any other stuff. Where is the room for blue sky thinking, for dreaming up stories or even to switch off and let banal telly wash over me? Those little voices that keep telling me what needs to be done when never shut up!

So I need to find a way to silence them. Not all the time of course or my finely balanced house of cards would collapse taking my family's lives with it. But just sometimes it would be lovely not to be planning or calculating or working out timings. I would love to have just lose myself entirely in a thought process of my choosing without the rest of it getting in the way.

Am I being unfeasibly optimistic? Does anyone out there manage to do that? Answers on a postcard to Mrs Fullbrain of Ilkley.

Monday, 4 March 2013


We've been in a film. I say we but actually it was my youngest that was in front of the camera whilst I loitered out of shot trying desperately not to come across as a 'stage mummy'.
As with all these things we kind of stumbled into it. Someone dropped out. Someone knew someone else and before we knew it we were in. A script and shooting schedule arrived quickly afterwards. Half a day of rehearsal followed and then we were off. Five days and one evening of filming in and around our local area.
As the only person on set with no designated task except to ensure that my son was being properly cared for, I have been in a perfect position to just watch what happens. I have never been involved in anything like this before. Almost my entire experience of acting has been obtained vicariously through my children or from standing in the wings of a stage. It's been a steep upward learning curve.
So here's what I've learned.
1. Making a film is a very slow process. Even the smallest of scenes seems to take forever. There's a lot of hanging around whilst lights and sound and camera angles are sorted. Then the take. Then the take again. Then from a different angle. Then again because the light outside changed. Then again because a plane went overhead. Honestly. It takes forever.
2. Everyone has a job. We have a small crew here - just 12 and a gaggle of University students and then the actors - but everyone knows exactly what their part is and they all buzz around each other without seeming to get in each other's way. And woe betide you if you do someone else's bit or even suggest how it might be improved. This is tricky. He is my son. I know how to get the best out of him but that is not my job here and I have to bite my tongue.
3.  It doesn't do to fall out with people or have a hissy fit. Whilst we breeze in and out, the rest of the cast and crew have been here for twelve hours a day for two weeks and are only half way through the shoot. A couple of them are even sleeping here so they have no escape. But despite all that, each time we come there is a really positive buzz. They are all keeping each other going. It would take nothing for the morale to drop but not allowing that to happen seems to be high on everyone's agenda.
I have no feel for how things are going, what the finished product will be like or whether it will ever see light of day but even if it never makes it out of post production (whatever that may entail) just having the experiences that my son has had is of huge value. And I have been so proud of him. His focus has remained sharp throughout, even when his bedtime sailed past hours before and no one has had to say a harsh word to him. For an eight/nine year old boy (birthday on set) that is quite some achievement in itself.
And guess what? They really say 'Camera's rolling....Action....Cut' and "That's a wrap'!

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Every so often I'll be listening to the radio and someone will say that they like to reread books.  They talk about how they read 'Pride and Prejudice' at least once a year and how they will regularly revisit their Dickens or 'Catcher in the Rye'. 'Can't you just remember the moment when you first finished '1984' and compare that with how it makes you feel when you read it now?' Well frankly, no.

When I was a child I reread books all the time. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I had bags of time. There were barely any other distractions and I liked nothing more than to slink off to some quiet part of the house and settle down with the Secret Seven or 'Little Women' or whatever it was that day. Secondly, there just weren't that many books available to me. There were plenty of books to choose from at home and I was an active library member but it was nothing in comparison to the number of books that are aimed at my children. There were the classics, what we would now call modern classics and Enid Blyton. So I tended to reread them over and over.

Fast forward to life now. I can't remember the last time that I read a book more than once unless required to do so by my book group. This is because there are so many new things that I want to try. Reading time is so precious now that I am always trying to cover new ground rather than tread the tried and tested. There are so many good books out there with more being published all the time. And I only dip my toe into fiction. What about all the rest of it? Biography, autobiography, science, nature, history. I could go on and on.

But then I wonder whether I am missing a trick. Perhaps there are comforts to be gained and insights to be found by rereading books from my past? It would certainly be cheaper and my house is full to the gunnels of books read once and then parked on shelves to gather dust like some kind of trophy. Maybe I should make them earn their keep?

Basically the problem is that there are too many books and too little time. I can't make more time. Maybe I could try to learn to read faster! You hear tell of people who have perfected the art of speed reading, devouring Middlemarch in an afternoon. There are apps that you can download to train yourself to do it in all the spare time that you have when you are not actually trying to read. But reading too quickly stops me thinking about what I have read and where's the point of that?

Perhaps I should just resign myself to the fact that whichever way I look at it there is never going to be enough time to read new and reread old and I will just have to choose. In which case, I'm sorry worthy Radio 4 people but I pick new every time. There is too much fabulous stuff out there to stomp over old ground and how else will I discover the books that I may really want to read more than once?!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


"I can't do it" are words that I rarely utter these days. I don't mean that because I am particularly talented in everything that I turn my hand to. Nor is it that I have a preternatural determination which ensures that nothing is beyond me.

No. The reason why I am almost never faced with things that I can't do is because as I grow older I find that I never put myself that far from my comfort zones. Most of the things that occupy my time form a variation on a theme of things that I discovered I can do moderately well earlier in my life. I never excelled at team sports so I don't bother with them. I wasn't brilliant at maths so rather than challenge myself by understanding concepts that my children are struggling with, I bat them straight on to my husband.

But sometimes things come along that you just can't ignore. A bete noir raises its head and it must be vanquished. In these situations "I can't do it" just fails to cut the mustard.

So is it with me and poems. As part of my module this year I have to write forty lines of poetry. I have to. If I don't I will fail. I have no option. But I simply can't do it.

Well, when I say I can't it's all a question of degree. Of course I can produce forty lines of words, either with rhymes or without. I can ape the metre that I have read elsewhere. I'm sure I could even put a sonnet together if my life depended on it. What I mean is that I can't create something that speaks to me. Nothing that I have written thus far makes me feel proud and in my book if you are not proud of what you have achieved then you haven't tried hard enough to achieve it.

I have always struggled with poetry. I have been forced to study it twice in my course already so I know a bit. I've read The Ode Less Travelled! I can spot spondees and trochees and I know about iambic pentameter but it all leaves me cold. So when it comes to writing my own I am left with a similar empty feeling. I am simply going through the motions and it shows. But I have to get beyond this. I have just over three weeks to find some kind of inner soul and allow it to leak on to a page.

All of a sudden I have far more sympathy with my children. I had forgotten what it feels like to be defeated by something; how, when no matter how hard you try, it just doesn't sink in. I have trotted out glib responses to them when they encounter something challenging for the very first time. "Of course you can!" I say as I continue with the washing up. "There's no such word as 'can't. You're just not trying hard enough."

Well I'm trying really hard and it's not working. And I don't like it!

Saturday, 26 January 2013


OK. So this post is going to be unapologetically girly so if you aren't a girl you may wish to look away now. Alternatively you may be just as fond as I am of packaging or curious for an insight into the female psyche in which case you can hang around.

One of my favourite fantasies when I was a little girl was to be bought a dress. I didn't want just any old dress. It had to be the kind of dress that makes you draw breath when you first see it. And that was not all. It had to come in a box. In our house and I suspect in many others clothes tended to come in bags. Whether they were new or hand-me-down, they generally made their way to me in a garish plastic bag in which they lay all scrumpled up at the bottom.

In my dream, the dress was in a box with delicately coloured tissue paper protecting it from creasing.  And there was more. The lid of the box was held on by a large satin ribbon, preferably in a gently contrasting or toning colour. And here comes the clever bit. You could lift the lid of the box without having to disturb the ribbon. When I was little I had no idea how that was to be achieved but when my favourite actresses opened their dress-containing boxes they never had to faff about with the ribbon. They just lifted the lid so that's how my fantasy went too.

Little did I know at that stage that this was the beginnings of a lifelong love of packaging. I don't really shop in the kind of shops where they wrap your purchases in tissue let alone place them in a box but these days it is easy to get the same effect in other ways.

For a while, whenever I bought something from The White Company I used to have it gift wrapped - just for me. It was an extravagance I know but I couldn't resist those beautiful little white boxes. These days it's Jo Malone's packaging that sets my heart a quiver. You don't even have to pay for it. Your purchase just comes with elegant ribbons, scented tissue paper and beautiful cream and black boxes. You even get a little gift bag for which I have absolutely no purpose but which I struggle to throw away.

My house is full of boxes. They always come in handy, don't you find? And those gorgeous little velvet bags that come from Annie Haak. I have them in a drawer just waiting to be filled with lovely, tiny things. I have the most exquisite vintage inspired hand cream box with a magnetic lid flap. It is entirely the wrong size to be practical for any other purpose than then one it was designed for but it's far too beautiful to throw away.

At this rate I will soon have more boxes than I can possibly ever have uses for simply because I hunt out the products with the nicest packaging and then squirrel them away. I have all manner of tiny things stored in them. I swear that our collection of Lego figures has the swankiest digs that you'll find anywhere.

I'm still waiting for the dress though. In my head it's red with white polka dots and a halter neck but it could just as easy be an elegant evening gown. As long as there is tissue paper and a big satin ribbon.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


(Reader's note : This is not actually an ode. I just liked the title.)

This is the Winter of the Onesie. They are everywhere, unavoidable. Just like Uggs and Crocs, the Onesie is yet another example of any hint of style and aesthetics being thrown out in favour of comfort.

I first came across the Onesie this time last year. We were skiing and my friend,  already a confirmed Onesie wearer and, I may add, considerably ahead of her time, wore hers whenever we weren't coming into contact with snow. I had seen adult babygros, even had a couple of my own over the years but this was something different. It was thick, designed to be worn alone or over other garments and incredibly warm. Just the thing when you're half way up a mountain and it's -10 outside.

I came home if not inspired to purchase then certainly curious. I mentioned my discovery to my teenagers who were, of course, already aware of this new garment. I thought that it was just me lagging behind the times but many of my friends looked at me blankly when I mentioned the object of my interest.

But I had a problem. I really, really wanted one but:
a) they were quite expensive; and 
b) I couldn't shed the idea that they were quite possibly ridiculous on a woman in her forties.

My children caught me eyeing one up covetously on the internet one day and before I knew it a Onesie was winging its way to us for Child No. 2's birthday. Within twenty minutes of it arriving I had ordered another one for myself and before I knew what had happened we all had one from The All in One Company. (All except my husband who has steadfastly held on to his dignity.)

I have discovered that Onesies are akin to Marmite. I am most definitely in the love camp but I know many who say they would not be seen dead in one. Well, neither would I if it could be at all avoided. My Onesie is not meant for public consumption. Its purpose is entirely private. At the end of the day when all ferrying is finished and the door is locked against the night, when all danger of visitors has passed and we are truly alone (barring my eldest's boyfriend) then I slip out of my jeans and into my Onesie and suddenly, as if by magic, I am relaxed. It is as if someone flicks a switch. Jeans = on duty. Onesie = me time.

There are those that argue that the Onesie represents a slip in standards, a letting go of something that should be held on to but I disagree. Why make life uncomfortable? I do my best to be presentable all day but you can't keep that up all the time. And to me the Onesie has the added advantage of not being a garment to be worn in bed. Putting pyjamas on when the day is not yet over has always struck me as giving up. Wearing a Onesie does not mean that I have sleep in mind. It is simply the most appropriate attire for the next selection of activities - reading, tv, knitting, the things I do to wind down.

I suspect that all those who scoffed at the Onesie are now regretting it a bit. I cannot believe that there isn't a part of them that wouldn't like to snuggle down in a super warm Onesie with a glass of wine and a really good book. Well, fear not. I am big enough not to mock if you change your minds. After all, the joy of the Onesie is something that should be shared by everyone.