It’s time to bin attendance awards

In any group of parents, no matter what age or experience, nothing seems to get the garbage fire rage burning quite as warmly as the subject of attendance awards. This is not, to be clear, about legal action taken by a local authority against a parent failing to get their child to school regularly. These are the certificates and treats and weekly newsletter trackers and termly celebrations insisted on by schools around the country to improve their attendance figures (regardless of whether they need improvement or not). Continue reading →

Three things I learned from Luca Guadagnino at BAFTA Guru Live

I’ve never wanted to direct films.

Watch them? Definitely. Write them? Eventually (I’ve always envisioned it being an adaptation of prose, not being a habitual screen- or scriptwriter, although a good friend and I have been batting around a TV series idea for ages). Write about them? All the time, whether I’m asked to or not.

But I’m not a filmmaker. Which is why when I first became aware of the BAFTA Guru Live sessions, I wasn’t sure if I really should grab a ticket. I mean, they’re open to everyone and you don’t need to give any reason for attending, but I felt a directing masterclass might be more for filmmakers than writers. Still, I simply couldn’t resist nabbing one while I had the chance.

So, as a different flavour of creative, was it worth me going along? Unquestionably. Continue reading →

The not-40 before 40

What is it that makes us think that round numbers are somehow significant?

We seem compelled to mark them in some way; to say I am still alive as if getting through a decade is specifically more significant than any other period of time. And I’m as susceptible as the rest; I approach my fortieth, which is in the pleasingly rounded year 2020, with a feeling that it marks an inevitable turning point in my life. I’m not waiting for it to get stuff done – in fact, my year of Doing has already borne personal fruit – and I’m not expecting it to be all sunshine and roses; there is no stage of a woman’s life that doesn’t come with a patriarchy shit sandwich.

Yet in my mind, it has acquired some important punctuation. It’s not a full stop, but it does mark the end of a clause; perhaps it’s one of my beloved semi-colons. With a little over 18 months to go, I feel increasingly itchy to set myself some small challenges; no skydives or lion-wrangling, necessarily, but just a few things to pledge to myself – a birthday gift from the past promised to the future.

There won’t be forty of them (necessarily). They are not in any particular order. There are no consequences for not carrying them out. Some are specific tasks to be carried out by the time the decade switches; others more like resolutions for a better life ongoing. They are a clustered hope of things to come as I steer for the next harbour, shared so that others in a similar boat might enjoy the glow from the lighthouse.

  1. Finish the first draft of my current project. I’m 30,000-odd words in. This is definitely doable.
  2. Develop the *brilliant idea* that came to me over the weekend; not allowed to draft it until the first is completed though.
  3. Launch my pin business (more on this to follow – in progress).
  4. Visit Japan. Booked for next year!
  5. Make my halting and irregular yoga practice less halting and more regular. I never regret this when it happens. (Also check out Dana Falsetti’s pay-what-you-can, accessible online studio.) I’m not setting a weekly minimum, but I know when it’s better and when it’s worse.
  6. Read a book in Greek. I’m so slow, and it might have to be a kids’ book, but I’ve never properly committed to doing it. It’s time. And might encourage me to actually teach my daughter some of my second language (yes, I know, I know).
  7. Learn to put my damn clothes away. This one’s really for my long-suffering, much neater husband.
  8. Get sensible about saving and spending. I do not need about 60% of the stuff I impulse buy. And clothes where I already have a similar version, unless there’s a very good reason for having two, should have a one-in, one-out policy.  Setting a budget a using a pre-pay card to stop the lunacy.

 

That’s it for this sitting, but I’ll return to add more as and when they become important to me.

Do you feel that sense of mounting momentum as you approach a ‘big’ birthday, or are they all same-old to you? Did you make a list? I feel quite excited about all that middle-age promises to reveal, so feel free to bring the chat.

On mum bodies and postpartum pride

I never had a pre-baby body. I mean, it existed of course – I didn’t spring into being from Zeus’ head, only with an infant at my side, eight years ago – but it wasn’t, in any way that matters or is visible, any different from my post-baby body.

That’s partly because I’ve never been thin. My stomach has had rolls for as long as I can remember (not in that hunched over on the beach way to show that you can squeeze a wrinkle out with effort, either); my thighs have never known a gap. I sometimes compare the textures of my body to food; at the moment I feel most like squidgy, pillowy dim sum. My body is what it is, and has been part of the battleground of hatred and fear since my age was in single figures. I’ve learned to live with it, because I have no choice but to live in it. I don’t always love it – I challenge anyone who deals with daily pain to really love their body, all the time – but I’m grateful for whatever it’s capable of at any given moment.  Continue reading →

Things that have happened since I got a new job

Towards the end of last year, I cleared my laptop history of feminist film blogs, deleted 418 screenshots of client competitors doing clever things from my phone and handed in the security pass I had almost managed to lose – for the first time since being given it four years earlier, when we moved to that building – at my leaving drinks. I put my mug in kitchen, tucked in my chair and headed out into a cold, November night. And with that, I no longer worked for an agency. Continue reading →

My 2018 Word of the Year

2017 has been… a good year for comedy. Politically, whatever point on the spectrum of opinion you occupy, you’ve probably felt aggrieved. Being in a country that doesn’t know where it’s going or why it’s going there but by God it’ll go there with conviction isn’t necessarily the most inspiring context to live in, but I recognise it takes a massive level of luck to even be concerned with any sort of personal growth. But, you know, you’re on a blog not a news channel, on a post entirely about self-actualisation, so you kind of asked for some self-centered pontificating. Continue reading →

What (not) to do when you have a nervous child: letting go of old things and trying new things edition

I’m not one for universally acknowledged truths, so this generalisation will probably bite me in the behind, but I suspect that most – if not quite all – parents have, at some point, a series of thoughts around the things they don’t want to hand down to their offspring. The hangups and torments, the weaknesses and inner monologues. While we’re busy wondering if they’ll have our hair, or avoid our grandfather’s unfortunate nose, there are things about our outlook – no matter how much we’ve found peace with ourselves – that we probably wouldn’t hand down with Uncle Joe’s cheekbones and Auntie Jean’s height.

I was a nervous child. And a conflict-avoiding adult. Continue reading →