My younger brother and his wife are expecting their first baby ANY MINUTE. It’s now nearly a week late and we are all getting very excited and frustrated with the wait. Everything is ready. Bags packed. Beds made. Provisions provided. You know they should be enjoying this almost borrowed time, […]
Posted by Family Affairs on 29-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with birth / overdue baby / pregnancy Posted by Family Affairs on 29-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with bipolar / Black dog / depression / mental illness / Ruby Wax / social platform / tribe / website
When talking to Ruby on Saturday at our very glamourous Hennessy Gold cup event – look I’ve even found a photo that isn’t blurred of me, Ruby and Ingrid who is editor of Majesty Magazine:-
We talked for ages about Ruby’s new online project set up to help people with mental illness. They’ve got the basic website set up now – in “beta” form – ie the functionality isn’t all there yet, but they’d still like your views on what you think:-
The idea is that a social platform is provided to get more people talking and sharing their experiences of mental illness – you can find your own “tribe” depending on what you are looking for and then you can create and join forums, write blogs and get involved. There are videos of A list experts talking about mental illness.
Their official launch will be in January 2012, but in the meantime the organisers are hoping that you can contribute to the Black Dog Tribe experience by giving them your feedback and suggestions on how to improve our site via their “issuetracker.”
What a great idea.
Posted by Family Affairs on 28-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with Daisy / open mike night / Tony Bowen / White Horse Posted by Family Affairs on 28-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with cooking / KIDS / sweets / toffee
My 11 year old was immediately on the case. The minute I mentioned I’d found a rather delicious looking toffee recipe on a friend’s blog he was off out the door buying ingredients.
It’s easy. Tastes delicious. Not sure it’s cooked enough. Might have needed a teeny bit longer to set properly. But here it is. I think he might have to roll the squares up into balls and wrap them individually – what happened to those toffee sweets we used to have like that? In a red packet with each one wrapped in greaseproof white paper? Where have they gone?
His brother and sister obviously like it – look what a mess they’ve made. He’s going to kill them:-
Check out the recipe here on Are We Nearly There Yet mummy’s blog. Yummy.
Posted by Family Affairs on 28-11-2011 in BLOG
It was announced last week on the news that hugging is significantly on the up in the UK. A poll conducted by a skincare company last week found that we now hug each other 13 times a day, with the average hug lasting almost 10 seconds. We have apparently turned into serial huggers.
REALLY? What us Brits? Are you sure? If so who is doing all this hugging? I know it’s pretty popular amongst the teenagers but still – 13 times a day seems an awful lot of hugging. We all hug our children, of course, or our partners (if you’ve got them, which I haven’t at the moment so I am seriously missing hugs, which is probably why I’m writing about them, but anyway, getting off the point).
The survey suggests we are now hugging semi-strangers. How odd. It says the most popular hug is “handshake and lean”. I’ve never done one of those in my life. Have you?
The second most popular one is the bear hug, a proper full on clinch but again, I’m really not sure you do that to strangers do you? In fact generally speaking you only do that with the people you’re having sex with.
Or am I just deeply unfriendly?
Posted by Family Affairs on 28-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with dawn / frost / park / photograph / sunrise Posted by Family Affairs on 27-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with Beulah / Cathy Lette / Hennessy gold cup / Newbury races / Princess Anne / Richard Young / Ruby Wax / Salman Rushdie
I am SO disappointed – my camera let me down and I have got the worst selection of photographs imaginable from what was a massively packed celebrity day out.
My friend invited me to Newbury for this year’s running of The Hennessy Gold Cup and what a splendid day out it was. We were in the Hennessy box mingling with royalty and a very eclectic mix of lovely people. Richard Young, the celebrity photographer who I know from my EMI days was snapping away with his huge camera and I was behind him taking discreet photographs for my blog. RUBBISH. I had to keep pretending the photograph was great, but honestly, what a moment for my camera to simply give up doing it’s job.
Here was my best shot of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne:-
Then here was my friend with Ruby Wax – I mean honestly – I couldn’t have got a worse photo if I tried (and I took it three times and then had to pretend it was fine):-
… then they got so bad I can’t even show them to you. So who else was there? I talked to Salman Rushdie for a while which was extraordinary. We discussed emotional intelligence and how he thought the reason that he enjoyed a good old girly conversation and was often the honorary man amongst a large group of women was down to his having three sisters. He must be good with women – he always has a spectacularly beautiful woman on his arm. I talked to Ruby Wax and Cathy Lette about stuff. Depression and things – which is Ruby’s speciality subject and she’s got a new website launching any minute to help support mental illness which I’ll write about separately. Also talked to Natasha Rufus Isaacs, her father and boyfriend who set up the fashion line, Beulah with her friend Lavinia Brennan. Their clothes are made in India by women who were previously in the sex trade and are gaining respect and popularity through their ethical approach to fashion.
I tried hard to sound knowledgeable about horse racing on a number of occasions (but failed) and then felt better when Ruby Wax confessed in her interview that she knew nothing about it apart from that they “run in a circle” – “sometimes twice” I was able to add. We kept missing the races because when you’re in a lovely corporate box you are ridiculously removed from what is actually happening elsewhere….and subsequently I didn’t win any money at all. I did however concentrate hard on familiarising myself with all the different drinks Hennessy had on offer – even the hot chocolate, coffee, various cocktails all had cognac in them…so perhaps, in the end it wasn’t the camera’s fault that things got a little blurry.
Posted by Family Affairs on 24-11-2011 in BLOG / DIVORCE tagged with 40 somethings / Children / DIVORCE / Love / marriage / mid life / midlife crisis
I am concerned about a number of my friends at the moment. There appears to be a huge tidal wave of misery coming from all different directions, for lots of different reasons and it’s made me begin to wonder about this stage of our lives.
We are nearly all in our forties. With children growing up. Suddenly things are going a little bit wrong. Our parents are getting sick, our children are less needy and more willful thus generously bestowing on us a vague feeling that we are losing control of our lives and what is more we haven’t really given much thought to how to deal with this stage – the bit in the middle before retirement, old age, slippers and death (hopefully in that order). It is at this crucial stage that many previously happy marriages go a little awry and from my personal experience everything can be blown out of the water and your life can dramatically change…or…..you somehow get through it and come out the other side pretty much intact if a little bruised and a little wiser.
Is this what is known as the classic mid-life crisis? Most of us got married a long time ago now. We met somebody we loved and wanted to spend the rest of our life with and merged and accepted our differences even if we had to compromise massively for the sake of that love. Then we had our children, got on with our jobs and now that we have (mostly) stopped making babies we have more time to look at the bigger picture. Generally speaking we have much to be thankful for – our health, our children’s health, more money, more confidence, less anxiety and so on, but we also have fewer choices because we are tied into marriage and children and responsibility and mortgages and all things grown up and consequently decisions to change our life at this stage may cause pain to many people. Many of us are looking now at what we’ve got and what we’ve achieved with a more critical eye. Is this what we really wanted? Is this really it? Was my ladder of life actually leaning up against the wrong wall? Or have we got to the top and realised we don’t like the view after all or discovered that it is a little lonely and empty up there.
I think what generally happens at this stage is that men and women return to type in middle age. I have two sons and one daughter. They have vastly different interests. My oldest son has a girlfriend and they get on very well but their interests are vastly different – they put up with that of course for lots of reasons. We’ve all been there, done that and it’s perfectly fine until we have stopped feeling the need to procreate the species. Once that period of time is over we can start enjoying the things we enjoyed before we united as a team and it can divide us. We say things like “we aren’t getting any younger”, “you’ve only got one life”, “this isn’t a dress rehearsal” and all those cliches that I hear almost daily these days that are only cliches because they were once “truths”. We are getting closer to death. Becoming more aware of the time we have left. Our hair is falling out or growing in all the wrong places. We don’t have the opportunities we had before. We are more cynical. Less romantic. Grumpy. Middle age is something we come to unwillingly – it’s not a place any of us would necessarily choose to be – it’s not like being 18 or 21 or at university and it is perceived more than slightly negatively. I think it creeps up on us. Then many of us fight against it. Buy inappropriate cars, clothes, some people choose to suddenly live inappropriate deceitful lives.
I have been analysing this stage for some time. This new “phase”. It seems to me that most people look at it with gloom rather than excitement. They feel trapped and consequently start examining the reasons for suddenly losing their way. My husband and I did that and examined and analysed each other and our marriage to death. Initially he said he was depressed about his life – but I question whether it was more to do with the horror of accepting he wanted to change his life. Stir it up a little. The feelings of misery are surely massively tied up with feelings of guilt about not being sure about wanting everything you’ve spent years working towards and building together.
Why do so many of us want to behave like teenagers again? Almost as if we have been cryogenically frozen for the last two decades and then allowed to re-emerge with serious arrested development problems. It was therefore with huge interest that I read an article about David Bainbridge yesterday, who is a clinical veterinary anatomist at Cambridge University and the author of “Middle Age – A Natural History”. He says “men’s interests do not change fundamentally between the ages of eight and 60 – with the exceptions of romance and sex. Instead, all that happens in middle age is that we become once again free to indulge ourselves. We have more money, some time and less fear of ridicule by others”.
He also says “all I know is that when I play Lego with my son I am not enjoying it in some ironic, post-modern way, I am enjoying it in exactly the same way I did when I was 10. So, these pastimes and preferences of middle age are not new found, they are our same old pastimes and preferences” and that to be honest is why I bloody hated playing Lego with my children. I thought it was a rubbish, boring waste of time as a child and I still do.
He believes in middle age as a definite stage of our lives, but he does not believe in the mid-life crisis – “middle age – those two healthy decades after the babies stop – is very real. Only humans have it, we evolved it, and we have enjoyed it for much of our species’ history. And why? We evolved middle age because we have always lived more complex lives than other animals – in the ways we acquire resources, socially and technologically. Unlike most animal parents, we don’t just give our children genes and calories, we give them our culture. That takes time, and quality time, too, which we cannot dilute by churning out yet more babies. We humans are an “information economy” and middle age is the time when we pass on most of that information – this is why middle-aged people like being listened to. So middle age is a very real and distinctive phenomenon, one central to the success of our species – which places it in stark contrast to the mid-life crisis, which turns out not to exist at all”.
I’m not sure I agree with that. The mid-life crisis may not be “a very real and distinctive phemonenon” but there are very real and distinctive triggers that set off a relatively stereotypical crisis amongst both men and women at this time of our lives:- mortality, desire for love, passion, kids leaving home, fear of change, fear of stagnation, money issues, elderly parents issues, boredom and so on and so on…..
It’s just all so sad and predictable. It happened to me. It’s happening to others. Everybody deals with it in different ways and of course because you have to consider your partner – it doesn’t always work out like you want it to. I don’t have any answers or any advice. Maybe if we were all more aware of the stage and better equipped to deal with it then perhaps the ripple effects wouldn’t be so great. Or perhaps we’d learn how to avoid the pitfalls. My life as a single parent is as a direct result of my husband’s actions and the consequences as I saw them. We could have both done things differently. I could have clung onto the sides of our little tin boat in the storm we had created for ourselves, instead of trying to tip it over and drown him whilst throwing lifejackets to my children. Or could I? At the time, I don’t remember his hand being there for me to hold on to. He was too busy holding on to someone else the other side. So. I. Let. Go.
Right or wrong?
I guess we will never really know.
But there is no point in mulling over the “what if’s??”. “It is what it is” (I hate that phrase) as we say and “it isn’t what it isn’t” for a lot of friends of mine at the moment. They have to work it all out. Slowly and painfully. Believe me, I don’t envy them. I wish I could help. But I can’t. I’m here though. For them and for anyone else who wants to drop in and leave a comment. Let me know what you think…..maybe we can make a better plan.
BTW – any of you out there who think I’m talking about you…..I’m not…..it’s somebody else….honest.
Posted by Family Affairs on 23-11-2011 in BLOG Posted by Family Affairs on 23-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with don't give a shit.... / poster / stress Posted by Family Affairs on 23-11-2011 in BLOG tagged with Covent Garden / moustache / movember / Penhaligon's / trim
BTW just a very brief mention because I’ve been sent detail that exclusively for Movember, Penhaligon’s that fine gentleman’s boutique are bringing back their gentleman’s shaving service, participants of Movember will be able to experience a complimentary Mo Trim at their flagship boutique in London’s Covent Garden. They are also […]
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