Showing posts from April, 2014


It's a radiant day. Londoners have shed their winter layering to celebrate the sun. A hand through the hatch of the ice cream van is tirelessly doling out  99s. New leaves are unfurling on the horse chestnuts and my children have torn themselves from their iPods to play Piggy in the Middle in the park. I drift into small talk with the woman who has spread her rug near ours. I've been struck by her high-spirited affection for her two small boys. We begin with the weather and graduate to jumble sales. Then she tells me how a stranger raped her in her native Zimbabwe. I notice there are knife scars on her cheek. The rape resulted in a baby. Her parents adopted it. They'd always wanted a large family. She was stricken with post-natal depression, but noone diagnosed her despair. She fled to England to escape her past. Her parents came too, bringing the child. The child closely resembles the rapist and she found it traumatic to look at him. Now she works as a live-in nanny


Katetakes5 whose blog inspired me to start my own, has invited her followers to celebrate 2013 with five photos from the family album. It must be an Irish thing doing this four months into its successor! I'd thought 2013 was a year that I'd prefer to forget, but my albums have reminded me how much there is to be grateful for. My 11 year-old is more grown up than me, her cosmetics collection more extensive, her behaviour more decorous and her hobbies more sophisticated - but this picture reminds me that beneath the Benefit foundation she is still my little girl. Disillusioned with school-gate gossip about SATs tests and marital relations I decided that we middle-aged matrons needed to Get Out More. This was the second in a programme of undignified conduct before pick-up time.  Reunion. The 9-year-old meets his cousin over from Oz.  My parents' 80th birthday party. My mother, five hours older than my father, declared that a melancholy date had

How to Be Normal

'Have you got your outfit yet?' asks the school-gate mother. I have been invited to her grand engagement party three weeks down the line. 'Is it fancy dress?' I reply, alarmed. The only disguise I possess is a French maid's outfit, required for a long-ago murder evening at theological college. I don't think it will be suitable for me to make a public appearance with the Vicar in a frilly garter. She is bemused. It is not fancy dress, but every female guest has been haunting TK Maxx to assemble a killer look for the occasion. Now I am bemused. My nights out number three or so a year. When it's curry evening with the Ladies from the Choir I don my chunky-knit dress in case of draughts. When, more rarely, it's a Do I rely on my funeral suit. It's the only garment I possess not made of pilled wool. It has never crossed my mind to buy an outfit. Now it's half an hour before the party starts and the 11-year-old has confiscated all my black viscos