Wednesday, 19 August 2009

We're all going on a summer holiday...

That's right. It's that time of year when I shove my belongings into a suitcase, dawdle on down to Gatwick airport and board a plane to nowhere.

Nowhere is a good place to go. Sun. Sea. Sand. Oh and iced lollies. Can't be without those.

I am off today to the land of no expectation. Usually just the fear that my life could slip into a mundane routine sends me over the edge but when I'm on holiday? Now that's a different matter. I like the way my yearly holiday hasn't evolved as with everything else. It takes the same pattern:

Disembarking the plane, my party comments on how hot it is. As if coming to a country near the equator wasn't warning enough. Upon check-in there is usually some mix up. Probably due to the fact that twenty five years ago my mother decided to christen me with the same initial as my elder sister.

Two Miss L M's? No es posible! Oh yes it is.

Once unpacked, someone will profess their annoyance at the lack of fridge/toaster/air-conditioning/bed. Delete as appropriate. It happens. Three days into the holiday I will resemble the pallor of a lobster or, depending on my voraciousness with suncream, that of a white china plate.

And so it goes. And will continue to do so until the end of time.

But it wouldn't be a holiday without it. Until next time my lovelies...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Judgement Day

This morning I went to the corner shop in my pyjamas. Yes. I'm that person. The kind who puts on flip flops when it's raining and has scruffy bed hair when she buys her newspaper and a pint of milk.

Stood in line with my purchases, I was keen to return to my weekend indolence where all that matters is tea, toast and fine smudgy print. Behind me, however, was the judgemental squad. A long line of pitying glances, as if I was a homeless person who had found a pound coin and the first thing she must do is treat herself to skimmed milk and a liberal broadsheet. One or two were stunned by my audacity to leave the house looking less than perfection. People go out without mascara and lip gloss? Our eyes! Our poor eyes!

Does my lack of style, at 7.30am, really matter in the great scheme of things? I wasn't on my way to a job interview. I wasn't off to meet friend's in town. My big plan was grabbing my weekend favourites and returning to bed to watch crappy morning TV. I didn't realise I needed Gok Wan's assistance to enter the high society that is the corner shop. Forgive me, please.

Why are people so judgemental? It's yet another one of those unanswerable questions that life likes to throw at you but please, I'd really like the answer.

Psychologically speaking, it's possible that we have an internal self-belief that everyone should behave as we ourselves do. An ideal representation of socially correct behaviour. When we come across someone who breaks this self-belief, someone who challenges it, is that when judgement occurs?

I don't know, reader. Consider me flummoxed.

Monday, 10 August 2009


My daughter gave me a present today.
Bunched in her pink hands
so tight the tips of her nails pursed white.
She offered them to me,
face obscured by the bells;
tiny pendulous blossoms bowed
and coiled in fragrant lavender blue.

It may have been that scent.
as Manley Hopkins once said
was like faint honey,
a sweetness that
awakened the dusty web of my past.
All at once I was there,
in '53, six years old,
holding hands with Lesley.

We left the house in Dorking,
linking tiny fingers,
running towards sandstone hills
at the edge of town, air so fresh
so full of grass, cows and hay,
lingering in our noses
as we opened the gates to Glory Field.

Early in the day,
grass still moist
and our black buckled shoes would squelch
their way across the green sea.
We would use our arms to row ourselves
across to Glory Wood
while looking out for dog pirates.

Our green eyes widened,
ears listening, hearing
nothing but eerie calm of the clearing
and our hurried breaths.
Trees narrowed into a path;
sunlight peeked through their leafy canopy,
falling in pots of gold hidden
in the mass of lavender blue.

Once again we'd row ourselves
across the sea, running fingers
through long stalks, falling into the
deep flowery water, legs lost
amidst the honeyed scent.
Glory Wood began to darken;
a coolness enveloped our arms
and we'd pick some gifts for home.

Every sunday we gave our mums a present.
Bunched tightly in our pink hands,
nail tips white,
pendulous coiled petals obscuring
our red faces.
They always smiled, distant,
expression vague
but now I know;
they too remembered the bluebells.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you're a f****** idiot.

Isn't that how the saying goes? I never paid much attention. It always got the same reaction as 'Chin up love' or 'Pull yourself together.' If I knew how to pull myself together, don't you think I would? Utter bloody contempt.

Has anyone else experienced it? That darkness; so deep one could believe they're blind. Once you've been into The Darkness, you're more susceptible to it. It's like poison. It remains undetected, coursing through veins and vessels when suddenly it attacks and once again you're at its mercy. You don't know when it will strike but its cloud is hovering. A black threat in the distance.

Depression is a serious illness. I know the depths Darkness can reach. It isn't pretty. What surprised me was how little people realise this; how flippant they can be. 'Oh she's depressed? Nothing a bit of fresh air and sunshine can't fix!'

Erm. NO. When you're depressed, air is a stale evil. Hurts to breathe. Sunshine burns every layer of flesh yet never pierces one's soul; it's too bright for one's eyes. All you want to do is shimmy under the duvet and let sleep win over. Let the Darkness in.

Then come the tears. Standing at a bus stop, sitting in class, at work, when that bitter salty taste reaches your lips. Crying and you didn't realise. Numbness a result of depression's destructive path.

Somedays it feels like it's brewing again. The light is slowly fading, shadows contort my face and I'm bracing myself to be immersed. It's like I can feel its pulse; the sadder I feel the louder it gets. I call them 'those days.' I want the sun to shine but on 'those days,' the sun doesn't have the time.

Sadly, I'm not a lone sufferer. Research suggests that depression is on the rise and even more worryingly, left undiagnosed by GPs. Why? Apart from lacking a cure for depression, the main reason is shame. When one feels embarrassed for the loss of their emotional state, their deficient grasp on their life, one doesn't want to admit it. Owning up to losing control? Not on your life.

This is where we're going wrong. People should confess. Go to the GP. See a therapist. Whatever it takes for The Darkness to fade. Do it and be proud. If anything, at least you're gaining back some control.

And if anyone tells you to 'pull yourself together' feel free to punch them in the face. And once from me too...