Category Archives: Blogs

Should I strike on the Strikes?

Recently I have started temping at a company that sells commemorative ‘Strikes’ (coins with no monetary value). The work is incredibly mindless and very easy, but at least I have some money coming in. (I am unable to start supply teaching until my awful ex-headteacher writes my reference  for the supply agency – I have been waiting for a month.)

I am trying my hardest to look at this ‘job’ as positively as possible, so I have come up with a list of reasons why I am lucky to have this job:

  1. It is money, not a lot, but some money.
  2. I get to walk there and back every day – walking is good for my soul.
  3. I am able to walk Pearl to school everyday.
  4. I am free in the evening to hang out with Pearl and focus on other ‘career’ paths, such as studying my proofreading course that I have started.

Despite these reasons I am having a constant moral battle as to whether I should leave the job, or stay in it. The people who sign up for these ‘strikes’ are old, their handwriting is all shaky, and they are spending A LOT of money. I wonder whether they think that these coins are going to be worth something?

The adverts for the commemorative strikes are VERY clever. They persuade the buyer to purchase the strikes by making them personal, giving “special offers” to “you” the “VIP“, use your “credit note” and the “free postage“, claim your “free gift“. The VIP is told the offer is “only for you” and there is a “limited stock” so the credit note has to be “used within 10 days”. Now, I don’t mind this (too much), advertising has always had to be persuasive otherwise it is pointless, but there is small, teeny, tiny, minuscule print. Print so small that I am sure an aged person would not be able to read it or would easily misunderstand it. I know I would probably not look at it too closely if I wanted the item that was being offered.

So old,(let’s call him) Reginald Baxter from Glasgow has provided his card details to claim his limited addition, special only to him, strike to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RAF for ONLY £12.95. Great, what a bargain – he was even given a voucher worth £44.95! However, what poor old Reg didn’t read was the fact that he has now entered into a monthly subscription where £56.78 (or even more) is taken from is card.

It was even explained to me in training that lots of the people who buy a strike don’t realise they are entering into a subscription. It is apparently fine though as they are allowed to stop it without any obligation. But I don’t think this is ok – the number of people who are phoning customer services and are confused about this is high. People don’t need the stress of having extra money, that they weren’t aware would be, taken out of their account. Especially, pensioners who might have a limited budget. Do they need that worry? Do they need the hassle of having to phone up to sort out something like this? How many people don’t even realise this is happening?

I processed an order today for a little over £800! I do wonder whether some people actually think that these have value and are buying them for an inheritance? This whole thing doesn’t sit well with me, I am imagining lovely, sweet old people sitting at home waiting for their shiny strikes and then getting all stressed when the following month huge sums of money are taken out of their account.

Am I over thinking this? I mean it’s only a temporary job…



Today my mum would have been 66. She died suddenly 10 and a half years ago. I miss her so much. It is so unfair.

She brought my 3 siblings and me up amazingly well. We were 4 children bound by her undying love and when she died we lost our centre that we all gravitated towards. I miss having a place to call ‘home’ (ours was called Halston); the place that you retreat to when you feel vulnerable; the place you can go and know you will get a warm, cosy feeling; the place that you can go to tell your exciting news and know that there will be someone who is as excited as you and so proud. No matter how old.

I remember the day that I lost that place, vividly. It was the start of the school term, I was living and working in London as a teacher. My mum had been poorly since the end of the summer holiday, so I decided to get the train back home on the Friday after school. When I arrived at the front door of Halston, I wasn’t greeted by my mum. My dad opened the door. My mum wasn’t in the kitchen, cooking some yummy food, or sat waiting with an open bottle of wine. She was lying on the sofa, in pain. Somehow, at that moment I knew things had changed for good.

We spent so many meal times sat around the table in our beautiful Halston kitchen, crying with laughter. My mum was amazing at that- laughing so hard she would cry. It was infectious and more often than not we’d all be sat around the table, doubled over with tears down our faces. I can’t remember the last time I laughed like that.

If she was still alive she would spend her free time with her 6 (soon to be 7!) beautiful grandchildren. She would give me advice on what the hell I could do or have done in so many situations. But she isn’t here, so we have to remember the good times, shed the occasional tear, and plough on.

As obvious it may seem to everyone, life does go on, which I am very grateful for. Sometimes, though, I just wish it would stop, just for a moment. Just to let that bit of self-indulgent, grief come out, without people thinking I have gone mad.

I recently read that talking to your mother, hearing her voice, is as good as a hug. So go and talk and hug your amazing mums. And when I pick Pearl up from school tonight I am going to talk her ear off and hug her so hard. And try to impart some of my beautiful mum’s love and wisdom on to her.

(LMX is how my mum used to sign her text messages off: Love Mum X)


Do you ever wonder what the point of your child’s bedroom is? Some week days we don’t even go up to my daughter’s room. For the past two nights she has slept in my bed.

Pearl has always been a good sleeper. Luckily for me she was not a baby who spent hours screaming and had to be jiggled back and forth. I put this down to me listening to her and understanding what she needs. I know some parents advocate set routines and are regimented about what they do but I do not believe in this.

Although my daughter has never slept through and still comes into my bed and, as I have already said, often goes to sleep in my bed she is a good sleeper. I would not change it for the world.

I think basically what I am trying to say is parenting, whether in a partnership or alone, is bloody tiring and hard so why make it harder by putting added pressure on yourself to get your child to do things in a specific way? Surely, if your child is healthy and happy that is all that matters. There is more than one way of doing things and as a parent you need to find your own way. Don’t give a shit what others think, you know what your child needs and you know when your child is happy.

I know life is short so snuggle your little one and hold them tight. Every night if you want.

Lazy day.

This is what I did the other day. The weather was rubbish so I had no motivation, could not be bothered.

On days like this I usually end up questioning my adequacy as a parent. No other parent does this. Everyone else is surely busy, running errands, getting ready for the children to return from school, or working in some high powered, important position. Basically just doing something better than me.

Do any other mums do this? Please tell me you do. Although, if you tell me you do it too, in my head I’ll convince myself that you deserve the rest more than me, that you do exiting things either side of your day of laziness.

Three steps forward 2 and a half steps back.

While walking to yoga (yoga is my one indulgence and the only way that I keep my head calm) this morning I was listening to Fearne Cotton’s podcast- Happy Place. It was the episode with Stephen Fry, he was amazing and spoke a lot about the charity that he is president of. Mind is a charity that is close to my heart as a few years ago I realised that I had been suffering with depression for a while.

Whilst talking Stephen Fry said, “if you take three steps forward and two and a half steps back it doesn’t matter as progress has still been made” (well perhaps not that word for word but you get the jist).

Listening to that really resonated with me, there have been so many moments as a parent where I have felt hat I have made no progress. Especially, as a single parent who has to make all the decisions, be good cop and bad cop, and deal with all of the consequences. Stephen Fry’s words made me think. They helped me to look back and realise that every step back had usually happened because of some steps forward. And, if I look back over the past few years, although I feel as though I have gone back, far beyond where the naked human eye can see, I have actually made progress. Both within myself, with my life and (more importantly) with my daughter.

Something I have learnt is that if you feel like you are struggling or not achieving what you feel you should it is good to read, or listen to or talk to others. It makes you realise that you are making tiny little footsteps forward everyday.

I have learnt that I am not alone.

Interview for a bridging job that is definitely not a potential permanent career option.

I went for a job interview yesterday. It was arranged through an agency and for a receptionist job, so I wasn’t particularly worried about it. I need a job, ASAP, to start bringing in some money, and now that I have finally, after six months of hell, been released from my contract I can at last get out there and consider, research and develop a new career. At the moment I am looking for anything, I’m not fussy about work, never have been.

So, after dropping my daughter off at school I walked on to the interview. Dressed up in heels and a skirt (which I haven’t worn for a while) I felt like a fake – this did not feel like me. Recently I have become more used to jeans or yoga gear – faking the life of a yummy mummy with a dishy husband to pay all the bills. The job is for a company that I think is “worthwhile” – they provide housing and housing support to people across the country.

The interview lasted less than 15 minutes and consisted of typical questions about experience, which I obviously have none of not having worked as a receptionist for god knows how many years. So I tried to link my experience in education to talking to customers and using Microsoft office packages. I did feel like a bit of a fraud.

(I haven’t yet heard anything from my agency so what I am about to winge about isn’t through bitterness for not getting the job.) The women who led the interview were perhaps my age or a bit younger and I felt as though as soon as I asked for a bit of flexibility for my daughter’s sake I had suggested that they were shit at their job. The job starts at 9am, it is a back reception job, working within a team – I asked if I could perhaps be a few minutes late, not half an hour just literally two minutes, as I would be dropping my daughter at school and then walking on from there. But no, I had to be there at exactly 9am, not a minute earlier, not a minute earlier. So much for flexible work. No wonder it is so bloody hard for single parents to get back to work or find a job that can be fitted around the family.

Since I left my last job, i have realised I am in no way willing to sacrifice my daughter or my own life and mental wellbeing for my work. God knows how I will make it work, but I will make it work. I know some incredibly inspirational women who do, so why the bloody hell can’t I?!

And so she began.


2012. I was living in Nairobi, in a good job and in an awful, dead end relationship. You see my problem has always been a belief that I can ‘help’ people, that I can change a person, become a saviour. I was always drawn to weaker people, especially if they were male. Perhaps this was my mothering instinct coming through.

I met him dancing on a table in the tourist town of Diani. He told me he was an animator. In my head I had romantic notion of him drawing cartoon characters in his hotel room by the sea. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He chased me, drew me in by using my weakness for helping people and I was hooked.

Fast forward 3 years and I was holding a positive pregnancy test. I was ecstatic, at the age of 32 I was going to have a baby. My job was good and secure, I could definitely look after the baby financially and emotionally.

I look back now and ask myself, what the hell was I doing? What was I thinking? Having a baby with him; the man who I had left a few times, the man who had stolen from me, the man who lied to me. I am an intelligent woman, I know all of my friends and family were thinking exactly what I would have been thinking. Is she stupid?

I definitely was back then, no doubt about it. But the best thing in my world (in THE world) came out of that situation. And the more distance I get from that time in my life, perhaps the only possible reason for me to ever be in that situation came out of it.