She stood in front of me, her loud voice threatening me.  I focused on her bright pink lipstick, contrasted against her unnaturally dark hair.  I have to say she was quite attractive, very slim, but incredibly muscular – I knew these weren’t empty threats.  She had a gang of various sizes behind her, but she was their alpha.  They followed her every move.

I was totally new to all this.  An innocent out a Monday morning, caught in the crossfire of abuse.  I’ve always wondered where aggressive behaviour was learnt.  Now I know, first hand.  The leader of the pack was about my age.  Here she was, in broad daylight, shouting and threatening like some crazed maniac.  Thank god my kids weren’t with me at the time, (two in school and one in nursery).  I hoped that she’d leave me alone and just move along to someone else, but she stayed right opposite me, for what seemed like an eternity.  Eventually she turned her threatening glance to others in the crowd.

Now, in any normal confrontation, I’m the first one to speak up for justice and accidently get my partner into a fight.  But as I’m single, I have to be a bit more careful.  This time, I just kept quiet.  (I’ll repeat that for those of you who know me well),  I said:

I just kept quiet.

I watched her expertly move round the crowd, attacking with either her glare or her voice – talk about working it.  I just avoided eye contact, hoping she wouldn’t single me out.   Happily, she showed-off how to knee someone in the face – as if that were normal.  Lucky for us, she didn’t pick out a volunteer.  Then she shouted at us to follow her lead.  Most of the people there, like me, hesitated.  It’s just not something I feel a great desire to practise, let alone use – well, except perhaps on her.

“Do it NOW” She screeched.

“Pretend you’re grabbing a head, pulling it down and kneeing someone really hard in the face.” We did it first towards one knee, then on the other, then alternating sides. I found a surprisingly natural rhythm ensued, once I got started.  I have say, that the energy in the room seemed to increase noticeably during those sets.

Finally she left, shouting at us over her shoulder,  “See you all same time, next week”.  I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down, (slumped to the floor hyperventilating).   My first “Legs, Bums and Tums” class was over.

“Wow”, I panted from the floor,  “that was amazing” I lied.  Then I chatted to some mummy who was doing cooling down stretches, hopefully disguising my inability to get up.  Eventually, I staggered back to the car at half my normal sedentary speed – due to my wobbly legs.  In the Leisure Centre car park, I passed the Yummies from the class, eagerly unlocking their bikes.

“Maybe I’ll bring my bike next week”, I thought to myself.

I drove home, crawled up the stairs, and found myself back in bed by eleven am.


Legs, Bums and Beds

Oh my bed I really love you,

Exercise I hate.

But now I’m fat – my bed is empty.

The choices that we make.

I run, I walk and cycle too,

True it can be quite fun.

But I’d rather have a bar of chocolate,

And just sit on my bum.

Legs bums and tums, I promise weakly,

For fitness and for pace.

But if she screeches one more time,

I’ll knee her in the face.

Those Endless Days

6 November, 2009


I am having one of those days. One of those days when you are just happy to be alive, and grateful for everything in this life. A day when the universe said “I’m looking after you honey”. The sun is shining, warm on my face it is a beautiful day. I glide effortlessly through a spectrum of autumnal colour. I drift off for a few moments of much needed rest, in warmth and comfort. Everything in here is still, everything out there is frantic. I am in the “Now” as Eckhart Tolle would say. Sami, the wonder kid, has arranged this day for me and I haven’t even thanked him. In fact I was on irritation autopilot as I left the house. But now, on reflection, there are so many people I have to be grateful to, because without them I wouldn’t have appreciated these peaceful moments so much. I am having a day off and it is exactly what I need on the first Monday of half term. So, without further delay, I would like to say “thank you” to a few of the supporting cast that made this possible.

The very first “thank you”  must go to Mr. Ex. for refusing to have the kids one hour earlier than normal,  so that I could make it to the theatre in London. I should also thank him for his three phone calls at 1.30am as he tried to clarify this with me – sorry I didn’t pick up, but it wasn’t a great time for me. I did find an unsuspecting grandmother in London to have the kids (borrowed her from a friend).  It was very good of her, especially as she didn’t know we were coming.  The theatre was wonderful, Bellydance Superstars at the Bloomsbury.  The kids have loved our weekend away – although ironically, my idea had been a break from them, rather than with them. Anyway, we got out and about and managed to do both the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum on the same day – we got there really early.

Which leads nicely into my second “thank you”. This goes to Mr. George Hudson, an entomologist (bug collector) living in New Zealand who died in 1946. Hudson It was Mr. Hudson’s brilliant idea to change the clocks twice a year. This was so that he could have more time to collect bugs in daylight.  Strangely, I can think of a much simpler solutions to this problem.  That Mr Hudson could have got up just a bit earlier and stay out just a little bit later doing his bug-thang. But somehow, changing the time in half the world made far better sense to him. He also thought it was a shame how much daylight was wasted by people sleeping. Well, Mr. Hudson, I really hope that reincarnation exists and that you were one of the parents queuing with me, outside the Natural History Museum last Sunday morning.  All of us wishing we had stayed in bed that extra hour, instead of lining up outside a closed door. Or perhaps Mr. Hudson,  you might be one of the circus performers we saw last Spring – wondering why we trooped in so rudely, halfway through your show.  Anyway, it’s not Hudson’s fault.  I think if the clocks are going to change twice a year, then we should be properly informed.  They should announce it from loudspeakers on the top of a car.  There should be government texts sent out to us all.  One thing is for sure, we should never find ourselves on a tube train at 8.30am with four young children, when we could be in bed.

My third “thank you” goes to the wonderful AA man who opened my car for me, in a record 30 seconds, when we got back that night. The record is strictly for AA/RAC men who open my cars, not joy riders etc. Just in case you’re interested, the worst attempt was an RAC man who took 35 minutes to open a Volvo that had my keys in the ignition. How dumb was he? The year I had Asha, I used all of my available RAC call-outs on locking my keys, or baby, in the car. Then I had to leave and join the AA. Anyway, Mr AA Man, it was just a tiny bit, well, patronising of you to show me how to lock it, without the keys, by pressing the button. Shame then, that I hadn’t got my stuff out of the car and you had to open it up again. Even though it took you 20 minutes the second time, I’m still going to count your first attempt as my current record. Thanks AA man.

A very special “thank you” to Sami, my first born. Top marks for your brilliant attempt to keep my car keys safe in your hoodie as we crossed London. I had absolutely no idea that you would attempt something so resourceful. Yes, your failure (and I specifically choose that word) was disappointing for both of us. But hopefully I will be able to find the spares when I get back to Oxfordshire.   I know they are in the house somewhere, I think I saw them about six months ago.

Thanks now to our wonderful railway network, which can get me back near home in less than an hour. Also for the innovations in online ticket purchasing. I discovered you can even buy tickets for trains which are canceled.  In fact, I have one in my purse right now.  Amazing, I bet you couldn’t do that in the olden days.

Lastly, my sincere thanks to the wonderful Oxford Tube coach service. Next time I will definitely buy the ticket which was £7 cheaper than the one you sold me. Thanks for telling me about it as you passed me my change. And lastly a massive thank you to the mechanic who is working on the engine right now at the back of the coach on the side of the M40.

But the truth of the matter is, that this wonderful day-off is a choice.  It is a choice whether to focus on the pain and disharmony of life – it’s always going to be there.  Or whether to take a different view of what’s happneing to us.  Which lens we look through, the short sighted one, or the one that gives us a bigger picture.  The warmth and silence that this opportunity has provided me with, is exactly what I needed today.  I need a rest before half term takes a hold of my time and energy.  I’m going to make the most of the beautiful scenery and the chance to catch a nap in a comfy seat. Right here, right now, nothing is wrong and I can choose to find everything perfectly right with life, if I want to.  And just for today, I do.


“Thank you for the days, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me”