Just Like Anne Boleyn

Just Like Anne Boleyn.

Just Like Anne Boleyn.

When I was little, I always used to tell my Mum and Dad that I wanted to have five children when I grew up (If you could say I’ve even grown up now!) Five boys I wanted, can you only imagine? They would all have dark hair, wear leather jackets and we would live like they did on Happy Days. Friday after school television certainly had a lot to answer for.

After I had my first daughter, people would say that having two children was not much different to having one. What an utterly bonkers thing to say I thought. In reality though, it is true. Second time, you have the benefit of experience , you’re far less nervous and quite honestly, you have so little time that you couldn’t give a monkies anymore about the beautiful blonde on the front of Child and Parenting magazine who has seven children. No doubt she also just took her final exam to become a civil rights lawyer (whilst I may add, maintaining perfect blonde roots and not one hint of grey). These days I celebrate with a fist pump if I have managed to shave my legs more than once in a week and have caught up with all the weeks episodes of The Real Housewives. I don’t mind which but, obviously Beverley Hills is the best!

Sadly instead of taking fifteen hours to just leave the house to pop to the shops, it now takes thirty ( I would like to point out that obviously this is a slight exaggeration, but only slight) I am lucky enough to have two girls who can never be bothered to put their own shoes on and whose favourite saying is, ‘eughhhhh do I have to?’ and ‘why cant you find it’. With your first child, you delicately hand mash a ramekin of pumpkin and butternut squash to ensure your little one has a much varied diet and you label your breast milk chronologically and in order of nipple. Second time around, you’re lucky if you remember what your original nipples looked like.

Just Like Anne Boleyn

Obviously I am never grumpy and I handle the strops with utter decorum and patience…

I remember how I felt on the way to our 12 week scan for my second pregnancy. Actually I didn’t feel anything. I had lost count of the amount of people who had asked me if I was very excited and you know what, I wasn’t. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t. In hind sight, it was probably because I already knew that my baby was dead. I say baby and even though they later referred to my baby in the hospital as ‘product’, it always was and always is a baby to me.

She had such a lovely face the Sonographer, I think that is what they are called. I can still see her face now. All she said to me was ‘Are you sure about your dates?’ and really I knew what that meant. It (the baby) had been gone for about four weeks apparently. I remembering hearing a high pitched squeak like a Velociraptor and wondering what it was. I realised that actually it was me.

I am going to get on my high horse now but, why on earth can the NHS not comprehend the very lay out of their prenatal screening facilities!!? I had to leave that room, still sounding a little like a Velocirapter and no doubt with an abundant amount of snot and walk past the very same bevy of pregnant ladies that were sat with me in the waiting room just minutes earlier. I felt bad for them . It must have been utterly terrifying and no doubt, all of them remember it still. I hope all of their scans were trouble free.

Just Like Anne Boleyn

I know this picture is utterly disgusting but, it is the first ever picture of my eldest daughter. She poses much better now.

Warning! This bit is scientific and a little bit boring: I was diagnosed with a partial Hydatidiform Mole or Partial Molar pregnancy. Apparently this happens when two sperm are able to fertilise one embryo at the same time and this results in an imbalance or extra amount of genetic information. This embryo can therefore never develop into a normal baby but often forms a very proliferative type of afterbirth tissue. I believe the Hydatidiform Mole part is the Greek name for a bunch of grapes and this is how this type of tissue portrays itself. Nothing to do with an actual mole, Adrian or fury. (I know what you were thinking).

Because mine was partial, it looked like a normal baby on the screen at my scan. If it had been complete, it would have the appearance of a bunch of grapes and been diagnosed straight away. All good fun but bloody and utterly frustrating as the condition is rare and in my case it was hard to get the immediate answers I needed. Particularly as my consultants explanation letter was delayed because his secretary was on holiday and the first correspondence I had was a big brown envelope marked ‘Oncology’ from Charing Cross. As you know, Oncology was not a stranger to me. A Molar Pregnancy can also result in Trophoblastic Cancer…lucky me. Why couldn’t I just win the bloody lottery!

Warning! Still scientific. Still a bit boring. With Molar pregnancies, the afterbirth can continue to grow in an uncontrolled way which produces lots of pregnancy hormones (as if there was any need for more of them) and that’s the tissue that needs addressing before it can become something much more nasty. Life is strange eh, something that protects a growing baby and gives life inside you can also manifest to something that can actually be the end of you. Perhaps its like eating a blow fish if you’re really hungry. One false move and its curtains! Apparently this is what happened to Anne Boleyn (not the blow fish). Once you have one Molar, your odds are increased to have another and I think it was documented that she had many. I also think one of my past lives was in Henry VII’s reign..probably a greyhound knowing me!

Just Like Anne Boleyn

I didn’t give up and after 6 months of follow up, I was able to try for Florence.

All joking aside though, I know miscarriage is really common and I am sure every woman affected is left wanting answers. I actually felt incredibly lucky to have been diagnosed with a Molar and although it could have been nasty and I have to face monitoring for any subsequent (cross fingers) pregnancies I may have, I had something most women don’t: an answer. It was much easier to deal with that way. I was lucky enough not to need any treatment but, that isn’t the result for some women. The best treatment is Chemotherapy as the next place Trophoblastic Cancer travels is usually to the lungs. Chemo again! Luminous green wee and a free NHS roast. My Daddy raved about those roasts. I’m happy to merely take his word for that.Although, I do particularly love Airplane food. Is that the same?

Over and out!!




My Grampy was absolutely nothing short of yummy; yummalicious in fact! Like most men of his generation and like most men with wives like my Nanny, he barely got a word in edgeways. He would always sit silently, cogitating and contemplating but, he did so with nothing but pure loving and with a heart of gold. He was so caring and everything he felt, he felt with passion and with a huge heart that seemed to just envelop you. Just like my Dad did. That’s obviously where my Dad got his loving nature from. My Grampy’s passing was certainly equally as momentous in the gap it left in my life. For more than one reason.

What I will tell you in this post is really hard for me to do so. Mainly because you will probably judge me for what I did, everyone judges. It’s a massively hurtful and negative part of life and the sad thing is that you don’t realise just how hurtful and negative it is, until you are judged yourself. Human beings can be so strange. Once you react in a certain way, say something  hurtful or act in a hurtful manner, you can not ever take it back. (Something i often tell my boyfriend, yet he still occasionally tells me to ‘Bugger Off’ when he is particularly mad with me.) Naturally, this is a most rare occurrence.

This is something I have experienced more recently when I split from my husband and also when my Dad died (but, this was in another way) When my Dad died, people actually crossed the road to avoid having to talk to me as they were embarrassed about what to say. I think they were more worried about making me upset and subsequently being embarrassed themselves.What they didn’t realise was that this was actually ten times more hurtful than simply putting their foot in it. Don’t get me wrong, I have done it too. We have all seen someone in the supermarket that we just friend requested on Facebook and then realised we actually don’t know them at all. To avoid it being awkward, we simply pretend we didn’t see them. If you’re particularly clever and spend just a little longer looking at the Wotsits, you can time it perfectly. I know it, you know it 😉

I really honestly try not to do that anymore. I definitely don’t do it in situations where I know someone has had a bereavement or a marriage break up. I am not perfect in any way but, this is one big lesson i have learned from the way that ignorance has made me feel.

Thinking about it now,I never noticed it happen when my Mum died but, I suspect that that’s because my Dad was the chosen recipient at that time. He never mentioned it to me but, i know he would have noticed. I was too busy being angry at that time however to notice anything I expect.


My Mum and her beloved Grandad.

My lovely Grampy called me Sarah Jane: of course that’s not my name, I don’t know why he did, he just did. I much preferred this to when my Nanny would refer to me as Sherry (her sausage dog). They also called me Shuie. My Dad’s side of the family are the only people that called me Shuie and they still do. We all used to be so close. We would spend all our time together and had such a great relationship. We aren’t that close now really! It may not surprise you to know that I was angry with them too. I felt like they left me to deal with my Dad dying, left me to deal with it on my own and I was very very bitter. I have told my cousin how I felt but, I honestly don’t feel that way any more. For many reasons.I felt they should have reacted in a certain way and I never actually asked for help, even though I very much needed it. Ironically, writing this,I hope they are not angry with me for feeling that way.


Anyway, when my Mum died, so did my Grampy. I don’t mean just mentally or emotionally either: he did actually just die. I’m not sure of the exact time scale (I was mentally, a little busy at that time) but, it was weeks. He gave up on life, that was obvious. He adored my Mum, most people did but, when she died, you could see part of him ebb away. Don’t get me wrong, he had lots of loving family and grandchildren and he certainly adored them all alike but, he just couldn’t really accept it. He couldn’t accept what had happened to her. When my Mum’s coffin was dropped as it was being lowered into the ground, we thought he had died then. His legs gave way. He would have caught it if he could.

I remember going out in the car with my Grandparents. Their car was red (that’s such a girl thing to say) and as you drove along, you could see the road through the floor: I’m guessing the MOT system was slightly different in those days.


My Dad on the right, Grampy in the middle and my Uncle Barry on the left.

They actually lived next door to us. We had a Cafe and my Dad had taken it over from them. When my Dad was 11, he used to open up the cafe when they went out for the day and even though he moved away and was a chef in a big hotel in Oxford for a while (that’s where he and my Mum met), he still came back and took it over from them. I guess he felt like he was 11 again. He never took a day off though…never. Even the day he flicked a tree in his eye and quite obviously scratched his cornea, he just popped on some sunglasses and opened up the cafe. He didn’t care they were my sunglasses and had bright pink detail on the side.


My Grampy and Nanny outside the cafe.

My Grampy was a minister of a Spiritualist Church. I never really knew about that side of him, he never talked about it much. It does explain where I get it from though. I have certain friends who remain to be particularly perturbed by my premonition plane crash dreams but, you either believe or you don’t. I once read somewhere that if you believe, no evidence is necessary and if you don’t believe, no evidence is possible. My belief in spiritualists has always been very important to me and I really have no room in my life for people that mock or are unsupportive of that. Believe what you like but, if there is even one nano possibility of life after death, I am going to grab onto it with both hands. Anyone that loves me knows that and why the hell not? I think I am allowed.

My Nanny had a ‘healing room’. It always scared the complete bejesus out of me! Ironically, on the wall opposite was a huge tapestry of The Last Supper. I’m sure Jesus’ head would move when I went past. I know he had better things to do, like giving himself up for all mankind but, really, when you’re 7, who thinks about that. Quite unfortunately, the healing room was right next to the toilet in their house and although I would hang on as long as was physically possible, when nature really came a knocking I would have to perform the Linford Christie sprint to use the facilities.I always imagined my Nanny in there with big hoop earrings and hunched over a crystal ball; Like Mystic Meg, only much much wrinklier. The healing room that is, not the toilet!

When I was 18, my Nanny said something to me that will and has stayed with me forever. When having a family party to celebrate, she had too much whiskey and had spent the usual half hour telling us that she was from Bethnal Green and singing ‘Knees up Mother Braaaaan’ or some such East End ditty. We had laughed in the way we always did and she very kindly decided to say to me, ‘You are going to have a hard life you know’. The problem is, with actually having quite a hard life, i still think to myself; is that it now or will it continue to be hard. I am always waiting for the next thing. I have never quite forgiven her for that. Until the day I die, I shall always think about it. It was like a life sentence she gave me. Quite literally.

The day my Grampy died will be etched in my brain like no other. I was 16 still. My Mum died in hospital, My Dad died in hospital. Ruth died in the ambulance (just) but, my Grampy died just sat in his chair. I know that because I was there. It was the first time that the reassurance of my normality had betrayed me. The last thing he heard would have been my jibber jabber. I know he wouldn’t have minded. He loved being in his chair. Apart from when he watched the racing and then he liked being knelt on the floor with his face pressed against the television screen. I think he just did it because he was used to the usual, ‘Albeeeeeert…..you’re eyes will go square’

After a while, when he didn’t answer me, I looked over at him and I knew that he was gone. In the words of Tommy Cooper, it literally was just like that! I’m not being obtuse, my Grampy would have laughed at this description, that was the kind of man he was. He was almost yellow, like he wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t there any more. We were on our own in that room and do you know what I did? As my Cousin and my Nanny came back in to the room, I passed them, I went to the front door and I went home (remember it was next door) As i was shutting their front door, I heard my Nanny cry out his name.

I went to my room and I put on my music and I waited for someone to come and get my Dad, which obviously they did minutes after. I couldn’t face it. I just couldn’t face it. I knew he was gone. I couldn’t and didn’t leave him alone but, I couldn’t be the one to tell my Dad. I have told my Cousins about this and I of course, told my Dad but, I didn’t tell him till years later. He thought I had just missed his passing and truthfully, he was grateful of that. How my head was then and what I had just dealt with, I just couldn’t do it. Would I do it differently? If circumstances were the same I probably wouldn’t. I was ashamed for a long time at how I handled it. It was really just too much and the more people I told the better I felt. That really is true of life. Never sit on things for long…particularly the floor with your face against the television….Albeeeeeeeeeert 🙂

I miss my Grampy still. I am sorry Grampy.



Wise Monkeys



I listened to my Mum’s Deezer playlist on the way to work on Saturday. I hate working Saturdays, who doesn’t I guess? But, I like my job. Anyone with small children will know that actually going to an office with real grown up people is a chance to remember who you used to be before you surrendered your Vagina to a team of a dozen doctors without giving a monkeys. It’s also a chance to drink a cup of tea whilst it’s warm. Not hot, because you’ll never get back to the days of hot tea, never ever. Your mind is always planning a million jobs and tea is always the last thing on it.

More recently my panic attacks have started to slowly creep back into my life. But, only whilst driving. ‘Oh, that’s OK then’ I hear you utter sarcastically. I have a routine, a routine that I know will subside the irrational blighter in my brain. I turn my air blower right up, direct the nozzles at my head and theoretically freeze my entire face for a number of seconds. I know it has nothing to do with actually curing the panic attack but, over the years, I have taught myself how to deal with them. I need a trigger. Something that I tell myself will stop it. When I realized this, it was my epiphany. Without being dramatic, it really did save my life. A book saved my life.

When I told my Dad, I played it down. Told him I kept feeling dizzy and he told me I should eat more steak. Perhaps I didn’t play it down. Really, how could I play it down when I didn’t have one clue what was happening. I didn’t even consider that I may be mental or have some incurable disease:I just thought I was unlucky and what I was experiencing was a downright pain in the proverbial.


Candy and I would spend many hours together: she was a good therapy for me.

I remember the first time really well. I was 18 and I had been shopping in Exeter. Actually, at that time I had just had my hair done and popped into Marks and Spencer food hall for a little treat. Before we had Waitrose in the darkest depths of Devonshire, this was the best option for particularly special edible posh naughtiness.

I always loved food and food was always a reward, a treat and was and still is an escape. When I was visiting my Dad on the Cancer ward in his final days, the only way I faced it with a smile was to think of ‘normal’ things. I would think to myself ‘When you get out of here Shu, you can get a pizza or something yummy and a bottle’. Then I would think about what utter tripe I would watch on television (I definitely still enjoy a large amount of tripe these days too). That took me back to normality. I still do it now. It’s no bad thing: although it was a slight pain when I was unable to get rid of excess baby weight second time around and had to lose three stone because of it. Luckily no one was ill or dying at this point and I managed it without too much struggle. Although, the reduction of the special wobbly grape was particularly difficult.

Prawns! It was prawns I was reaching for at the time. Not just any old prawns however. They came with an avocado mousse and some sort of cucumber jus on the side no doubt, all encased in a wonderful circular clear plastic dome. I remember that all of a sudden the lights seemed really bright, like they were burning through my eyeballs and into my brain. Script on the food seemed more prominent, more acute like it could actually be touched and everything started to become sort of swirly. I felt really heavy, like I could feel all my body parts, like they were square. Although I could hear and see people around me, it was like they were underwater and I was in that wonderful clear plastic dome all by myself, separate from them; like the cucumber jus. My heart was in my throat and I can honestly say that, even after watching my Mum die just a couple of years previously, I had never been so terrified in my life. I had to sit down. If I didn’t sit down I would topple over like a domino. That would most definitely be embarrassing.

It subsided pretty quickly and I brushed it off (as you do most things at 18) and started to queue. As the bile rose in my throat and I started to feel like it could happen again, I made a conscious decision to leave those prawns behind, ditch the queue and simply hop on my train and go home. From that moment, the moment that I gave into it, supermarket queues were always my Kryptonite and so they remained for at least four years. Yup, four wonderfully utterly crap and debilitating years.

18-20! That’s on average how many panic attacks I would have a day. I couldn’t wait in a queue. I couldn’t go into a shop with too many people in it. Couldn’t travel on public transport without an available seat. I couldn’t go to the cinema if I wasn’t sat by the door. I couldn’t even visit Trago mills because it was so big that once I was inside, I could not see the exit: could not reach the door in an emergency. Those people that are aware of Trago Mills will realize how utterly and completely bonkers this statement is. Not just for the sheer amount of crap you can usually purchase for less that a quid to keep your mind entertained ordinarily.

I visited my doctor several times; had blood tests for anaemia and I even ate loads more steak, just like my Dad suggested. Then, one day a different doctor said that maybe I should consider some medication to help my mood. My Mood? I was utterly fine. What a downright cheek! Peter Andre helped my mood, not medication. Actually, that was a couple of years earlier I’m sure. What on earth was this woman rabbiting on about? The bloody liability! Like an attack, I saw her mouth moving but really, nothing of consequence came out of it. Like I was the Little Mermaid under the sea again and she was that grey haired witchy villain with the rather large cleavage.


I would never have dreamed of having children if i was still suffering with such severe attacks.

I saw her at a party a few years later, pissed as a rat she was! I remember smiling and (not just because she was ‘off her tree’) but, thinking that it had been her that woke me up that day. I still can see her face now. I never took the pills, I did something else. I read a book.

The book I read was:


Panic Attacks by Christine Ingham

The very first chapter of my savior book described the reason we had panic attacks and those that they affected and in what scenarios. Guess what? Those that lost maternal figures early in life were prime candidates for panic attacks (Another negative legacy that I felt my Mum had left me with).Places that had bright lights, like supermarkets and places that had no visible exits. OK, it never ever mentioned Trago Mills per say but, I knew that’s what it meant. In just one paragraph, with one little selection of words, my life became normal again. It was me; this was like reading about me. It may as well have had a picture of me on the first page.

From that moment on, I realized that my body actually felt like I was in danger and it was actually my own stupid self trying to protect me. Damn my own stupid self! I would go to the supermarket and if I had to queue, I would simply spend the time adding up the value of my shopping in my head. It took me a while as I was always in the bottom set for math. Before I knew it, I had paid and left and absolutely nothing had happened to me. Once I had achieved it once, it was only up from there. Like the first time that i gave into the negative feeling, it was only downhill.I was still alive and what’s more, I actually had some shopping. Best of all, I went and have been several times to Trago Mills. Oh yes!


Anxiety is a much smaller part of my life now.

I have always been proud of myself for this and that’s why, at times when it creeps back into my life, I know it’s my little reminder that everything is getting just a little too much and I have to change it.

12 years later though, I didn’t read the book again, I started writing a blog instead.

Ready for ballet.

Talking Trees

Talking Trees

What a weird bloomin song: course they don’t listen to you and the stars most definitely never hear you. The trees i’m talking about! My Mum loved that song, she was always singing it. You probably have absolutely no clue what i’m talking about. It was a song that went ‘I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me, i talk to the stars but, they never hear me’ Weird!

My Mum loved music. Only recently i sold a whole box of eight tracks at a car boot sale. I always remember them snuggly fitting in the huge mahogany telly cupboard, right next to the big wooden globe that held all the alcohol. This included the Cherry Brandy i once managed to demolish at around 10 years old. Wouldn’t have been so bad but, i’m pretty sure it dated back to Prohibition. Years my parents dined out on that story, years! Make’s me a little green thinking of it now.

We had a Volvo. Don’t knock it, ruddy safe it was, that’s what my Dad always said. Bit ironic really when you think how proud he was about it’s safety. Did i really just say that?

Anyway, the Volvo had a cassette player (i know, all mod cons) and every Sunday when my Mum took me to the Riding stables we would listen to one or sometimes a mixture of the following: The Carpenters, Manhattan Transfer, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Lionel Ritchie or that song about some bloke that could have died in your arms tonight. I have a Deezer playlist of those songs now. They take me to a happy place. Funny really, as i never wanted to go riding much.It was always cold and if you wore more than one pair of socks, you could never feel your toes. Plus, if it was hot, never a more sweaty gusset you would get than in a pair of jodhpurs.

My Mum wanted me to love horses though, because of her history. I liked riding i guess, i was just never really that good at it. They always made me nervous and i think it was because i’m not good at taking direction.Controlling a horse is quite a responsibility I never really wanted to accept. I loved cleaning the tack and getting big stones out of hooves though.

Ballet i loved. I loved it but, i decided to give that up after several years because i was missing Knightmare and Fun House. A valid reason I stand by today. If only i knew that at the age of 34, there would be a specific channel that i could watch them all on now. Bugger!

Ready for ballet.

Ready for ballet.

My Dad never really listened to music, he just worked. He worked a lot. When he was dying he would like to borrow my CD player to try and pause some of the monotony of, well, dying (and the shame of luminous green wee). We knew it was luminous green because it was in a bag by his bed. When i asked him what he wanted to listen to he would always say ‘I love that band Erasure’ Shocking that was! Even when you’re dying: No excuse Dad!

I remember when he went to The Royal Albert Hall to see The Who. My brother took him (yes, we will get to him too: he requires his very own Terrabyte however) and he was so excited by the fact, that because he was in a wheelchair, he went to the very front and he got upgraded to first class on the train there, that he should have done the wheeled thing years ago. I gently pointed out that he would have been unlikely to obtain a wheelchair from the NHS when, even considering that he was paralysed from the waist down due to Prostate Cancer, that they still hadn’t managed to deliver two ramps in order for him to get out the house. One ramp they gave him, one! We just made our own in the end. The second ramp never came. Probably be delivered soon.

There was one good thing that came of riding and not just the hot orange squash in the winter as that was really a revelation. It was my friend Ruth. She was crazy good with the horses, especially the naughty ones: she just jumped on them and off she went, like something from a Thelwell painting . Her Mum owned the stables though so she had a head start.I loved her, I loved her a lot. I still do.She was my confident and she was the one person that when i was being an arse would say, ‘Shu, you’re being an arse’

My beautiful bessie mate

My beautiful bessie mate

The only problem i had with her was that when we were together, we were like the Abba of Devon. She was the beautiful blonde one that everyone wanted to talk to and i was the frumpy dark haired one that noone ever looked at. She was Agnetha and i was……see! Exactly! OK, i wasn’t exactly frumpy but in comparison to her i was.I still miss her, i miss her all the time. She was taken from me in a blink. Not like it was with my Mum and Dad. I never had the chance to say goodbye to her properly because she went out in her car and then she hit a tree. But you know what the last thing i said to her was and what she said to me? I love You.

That’s the God’s honest truth and that’s because we said this to each other every day. That’s the thing about losing someone so important so early, you always tell the people you love how you feel about them. This is one of the biggest lessons i have ever learnt and I’m happy that this is one of the most honest traits I have. I don’t care if it’s not reciprocated and neither should you. If you feel something, say it. You may not get another chance. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but, don’t let it be.

Me and my mate

I still surround myself with better looking blondes, when will i learn?

This is the main reason that i was so angry about my Mum’s death. She had ample opportunity and time that she knew was ebbing and yet,she didn’t make the most of it. I felt she didn’t. She never even left me a letter. This blog is my letter to her. And my apology.My apology for thinking that way.


Minus the lipstick !

Minus the lipstick !

I look like the wreck of the Hesperus!’ was another Mum classic: she didn’t of course, she never did. She was one of those people that were lovingly refereed to as the type that would look good in a bin bag. Very much a strange description I always thought. I’m very much of the heterosexual variety but surely, there would be something slightly naughty about seeing Angelina Jolie wrapped up in a bin bag….maybe that’s just me! She did always look elegant though (Mum I mean now) although, she never wore lipstick. I always found her minus the lipstick antics slightly strange. I don’t think she ever even tried it.

She was 6 feet tall and had size 8 feet (but in a feminine elegant way naturally) Size 8 feet were enormous for a woman in those days. She was scouted by Lucy Clayton once whilst walking up a lane next to her Grandparent’s stables. Lucy Clayton lived just up the road from them in those days. She never followed that route though, she was never that way inclined. Hence the lipstick thing I suppose. But, she was beautiful.

My Mummy Circa (me thinks) 1966.

My Mum spent a lot of time at her Grandparents stables. She lived there for a while when she was young. There was a major reason for that sadly.

Gappy Gapperson!

Not sure of my Mum’s age here. Its always good to keep the toothless shots for prosperity.


When I mentioned my Dad to you, I did so lovingly. Even though, technically he left me too but, I was never angry with him. We’ll get back to that later. My Mum never had the same fortune. You see, her Dad, for want of a better phrase was a complete numpty of the highest order. There would be some members of my family that may deem this description a little disrespectful but, Mum being my Mum and me remembering at age 11, the stories she would tell me of her childhood, there really was no other adjective for him. Well, actually there is but, I’m pretty sure that if I published that particular word on here that I would be breaking the law in several different states.

My Granddad, although I don’t really like to give him that title, except for the fact that he was, was a boxer. As disease took over his brain in his later life, he would hit an all time record of the times he could tell us in one day that he fought Henry Copper. I never cared of course. If you knew what I knew, neither would you. I’ve never known anyone be so proud of a cauliflower ear! Saying that though, he was also proud of being a lab technician. I don’t really need to spell out what that lovely little job consisted of in those days. Don’t get me wrong, having both parents die from Cancer, I’m all in favour of finding the right treatment, the right cure and sometimes, lets be realistic, we all know what that entails.

Anyway, he was a boxer and the ring for him didn’t just mean some grotty basement or gym or, for that matter, Henry Cooper, it also included his family home. Namely his wife (My Nanny) and if my Mum or her eldest brother got in his way, them too.


My Mum had four brothers. She was the only girl and the second child. She was told her eldest brother was actually only really a half brother when she was less than a teenager. About the same time that she would hide her younger brothers under the bed when she heard her Dad’s key in the door or find her Mum cowering in the kitchen. If she was lucky, there wasn’t any blood.


The horses took my Mum away (literally sometimes)

The horses took my Mum away (literally sometimes)

His father had been a pilot and was killed in the war. He was lucky enough to leave the ‘family’ home at a young age, for more than one obvious reason. When he became a grown man, his daughter, my cousin, was killed one day by a falling brick as she sat at her school desk. She was 11.

My Nanny had lost the man she loved and ever since he died, her life took on a very different path.

That’s how I feel about the time when my Mum died. It was from then that I feel I had nothing but bad luck. Cursed really. Of course, this isn’t true as I was lucky enough to have a wonderful father, unlike her, and I have two wonderful children. They have their moments though, don’t all children? I realize though how quickly they grow and how soon they will be teenagers themselves. Just last week my seven year old vowed that she would never again get changed for P.E at school as I had been unkind enough to send her to school in Peppa Pig pants and she had: quote ‘never been so embarrassed in her whole entire life’.

Old ladies in the street always tell you to ‘make the most of them as they grow so quickly’. Invariably we think (and don’t fib, we do..) ‘Yeahhhhhh right, I can’t wait for them to not wake up at stupid AM and let me watch a whole episode of Corrie without having to A) Look at the latest crayon masterpiece, B) Paint their nails or C) Open the squash- why can they never open the squash? Damn you Robinsons! Other squashes are obviously available I would like to point out.


When I look at my children I feel bad, bad for feeling the way I do about my Mum now. But, that’s because I feel guilty for being mad at her for dying. Isn’t guilt strange? We spend so much time worrying and stressing over things we cannot change, things we feel ‘should’ have or have not happened. No one should do something we expect them to. At least, that’s what my counselor told me. That’s my opinion; I can’t push it onto others (apparently). Of course, I’m only human and I still do that. I still feel guilty too.

She fought it really, fought hard. She first found a lump eight years previously but it just kept coming back. I liken it to malignant tennis!


Treatment wasn’t the same in the 90’s to how it is now. That’s a ridiculous statement I know but, what I mean is that is was completely different, in what was really, a small amount of time. She didn’t have Radiotherapy in her lunch hour or have a nice green tea after; she was shut in a room. A room with a small opening to put food in: like she was something from Area 52. Like she was in solitary confinement. In theory, if she had her breast removed initially, she may still be here but, with reconstruction being as it was then; mastectomy really was the final straw. It was certainly her final straw.

Ironically, I mentioned Angelina Jolie in her bin bag earlier. Funny that! In comparison to my Mums battle, her double mastectomy and reconstruction seemed akin to changing the faulty bike pump she just bought in Lidl for a new one. Why do they always have bike pumps on special in Lidl? Guess there must be a lot of bikes in Germany! I don’t doubt for a minute that she didn’t take that option lightly but, she had an acceptable alternative. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but it was available and it was (and is) miraculous. I’m pretty sure, of course, that she never bought a bike pump in Lidl. With that, I was a little facetious.

When she did finally succumb, and then it really was succumbing, to a mastectomy, she had to wait a considerable amount of time before there was any kind of ‘next step’. They wouldn’t pop in a shapely false one at the same time as removing the old manky one. In actual fact, the surgery that my Mum had was really revolutionary for the 90’s. She had a new boob made from her shoulder muscle. Bloody excellent it looked too. Even had her nipple. I’m not sure how they did it but, I regularly liked to picture her solitary nipple sat in a freezer somewhere. Her poor little nipple sat in reckless abandon from its mammary castle for just long enough to get lonely (I bet you never thought you’d read that sentence today)


The temporary ‘chicken fillet’ she had however was shameful. It was about three times heavier than a real boob and once, it fell out in the supermarket. There it lay, if I remember right, resting just under the tins of baked beans. If my Mum hadn’t laughed so much at the irony, I’m sure she would have been embarrassed. She wasn’t though.

The only time I’ve known her to be so mortified in public was the time I sat in the bottom of an upturned bath in Texas Homecare at approximately age seven and it fell over on me. Trapped inside like a turtle I was. I’m sure that’s where my claustrophobia comes from. Really I like to think it was because I was Cleopatra in a former life, lounging in a pyramid which, lets face it, is far more glamorous than the Texas Homecare story.


I wish we had named the Chicken Fillet. We always fondly referred to him. He even had his own box, can you believe that? A fake boob with his own box and my Mums lonely little nipple in a freezer: In Devon! You couldn’t make this stuff up. Well, JK Rowling probably could.


Cooey Mr Shifter !

Cooey Mr Shifter !

I know what you’re thinking! It crossed my mind not to use the name, but only for a second.

Why of all the names you could choose, would you possibly pick this one for a blog? I don’t even need to paint an elaborate scene for clarity… you see, this was the way that my Mum would wake me up every morning. Yes! Every morning.

My mum on the left and me on the right.

My mum on the left and me on the right.

It was always the same: Whether it was a morning that I was happy to emerge from my pit or whether it was one of those days that we would have a tug of war with my ever so striking cat duvet, it was always..’Cooey Mr Shifter’! Not including of course, the occasion that I (accidentally you’ll understand) punched my Mum in the face, resulting in the silent treatment for nearly a whole week.

Could have been worse! Once I told her that her new silk shirt adorned with brightly coloured record’s actually looked like something Pat Butcher would wear. That was almost a two weeker incident.

Otherwise, apart from the incredibly irritating way she used to wake me up every morning (and the disturbing Pat Butcher incident), we got on really well. She would love collecting me from school and presenting me with a new trinket she had picked up at a hippy craft fair or made out of any kind of inanimate object she had found under a tree. Her thistle hedgehogs were legendary at my school and don’t even get me started on the fur wiggle worms she created for what seemed like my entire class. The goggly eyes always fell off but, that only seemed to add to their charm.

I sometimes wonder if she did this to make up for the fact that her and my Dad sent me to a school that required me to wear a green beret ..AND green PE knickers…… Incidentally, why were PE knickers always made out of a tea towel material? They most definitely didn’t improve my horse mounting abilities (not of the hooved variety you’ll understand) In fact, they were rather chaffing.

I could really go a thistle hedgehog right now! That’s really the reason I decided to create this blog.

For the last 18 years, to me, my Mum’s only legacy has been that she left me, she abandoned me when I was just 16 and needed her the most. Ok, she had no control over it, she died. But, at 16, there is always someone else to blame. There is anger too. A lot of anger. I still have that anger now and subsequently, even at 34, I can revert to being that 16 year old girl without a Mum: emotionally anyway. This is an aspect of my life I want to change but, I also want to change the way I remember my Mum. I want to change the way I talk about her.

I’m now a grown woman, I use that term loosely of course! I also have two gorgeous children who depend on me and something else is very different for me now.

Cooey Mr Shifter !

Me with my two gorgeous girls

Recently, I found my soul mate.  Someone that refuses to take any of my rubbish and even though, I do regress (all too often he would say) to a stroppy teenager, after 18 years I finally want to take the time to tell the world (ok, maybe that’s wishful thinking with my little blog) about my Mum’s true legacy. I want to be a better person. I want to be that person because he makes me feel like I finally have a future where I don’t always have to look at the past. I’ve been lucky enough to find that ‘kick up the jacksy’ that everyone needs at some point. He’s obviously a lot of other things but, fondly we will refer to him as this in our introduction. He’ll love that!


I also want to tell you about my Dad, who also left me far too early. I sound like a right bloody case I know but, really, because I was with my Dad in his last few years, we both gained the closure we needed. I’m not nearly as messed up about it…honestly! But, my Dad leaving me was another story altogether. Watching him die actually made me grow. I never felt sorry for myself, I only felt sorry that I was losing him and him me.

Thankfully, we have plenty of time and trust me, you’ll need a lot of time to take this journey with me.


So, although this blog will be about grief, dealing with grief and coping with anger, it will also bring with it, hopefully, a lot of humour and a lot about Love. It will, without doubt, be a lot about Cancer but it couldn’t not be. Even though the big ‘C’ is most definitely a dirty word, you can, quite bizarrely, use it to see the world clearly. For me, although it has eradicated life, it has also eradicated what we are all so guilty of doing: wasting time. Most importantly and it is the most important, this will be about realizing what life is really all about and ensuring that every day you’re here, you make it count. You make it worth it. Otherwise, let’s face it! What really is the point?