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Minor irritations of the day

 – WordPress makes you sign in with the phrase, ‘Already hip?’ So I don’t get the option to declare myself un-hip and still blog. 

– Lucas pooed his nappy 40 minutes before bedtime. This means wasting a nappy if I change him, or taking my chances with bottom rash if I don’t. Guess which I went for?

– Everyday I see Starbucks smug newspaper ads showing off their Fair Trade credentials, but we all know they’ve been Unfair Trade for years longer than everybody else.

– Maggie in the Simpsons is an unrealistic baby, she never whines, or makes a mess, or tries to climb up your leg while you’re cooking an omelette.

– Barclays rang me today asking if I was worried about my savings in the current financial crisis. I wasn’t worried. Now I’m thinking there must be a problem…

– Amy is into ‘GoGos,’ small pieces of minimally moulded plastic which come with stickers to collect to fill an album. I get the impression the marketeers have researched eight year old’s brains to extract maximum pocket money from their collecting frenzy. I just let her get on with it.

– My mum tied her bright pink dressing gown belt to our cupboard so that Lucas wouldn’t pull everything out. I don’t like her silly pink belt on display in my living room.  I don’t have a better plan.

– My *busband is busy at work and I’m bored and lonely and can’t think of anything better to do than blog.

– Our beer is just past it’s ‘Best before’ date so I have to drink it knowing it was better before. And although it’s substandard I have to drink it all quick before it gets any worse.

– I don’t like writing grumpy posts when I’m a bit pissed on past-it’s-date beer.

* boyfriend/husband



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I stuck my 3 little stickers on wheely bins today, just as I’d planned. I didn’t get arrested, and Amy didn’t say anything. Although if my stickering campaign escalates I may have to worry about her shopping me to the police.

Not really.

I stuck the stickers on three different streets. The bee first. I showed it to Lucas and he buzzed. Someone was passing but I don’t think they saw what I was doing.

Then after I dropped Amy off at school I stuck my rainbow. It’s been a rainbow kind of day. When we got home the first thing Lucas did was point to a rainbow on the front page of the newspaper. And I took him to a music group where we sang the song, ‘I can sing a rainbow.’ And there was something else rainbow-y too, but I can’t remember what it was now.

I know there’s nothing magical about all that rainbow stuff, I’m just noticing rainbow stuf today. But that’s nice. And it was raining when I left for school this morning but it’ssunny now and that’s good too.

I crossed the street to find a bin to stick my horse sticker on, but then I saw a bin with a great big ’22’ painted on its side. 22 felt like a good number and so I crossed the road back again and stuck the sticker between the two big 2s. It was at a house called, ‘the Swans’ and i wondered if I could make a game of making stickers that connected to the last one I drew? So perhaps I could draw a swan sticker next.

I did enjoy stickering today. It didn’t feel rubbish at all. And I saw a postman passing with his letter cart and thought, ‘I could stick a sticker on that.’ And I also thought that I could stick stickers on cars. I don’t have to stick to bins really, do I? Maybe it doesn’t matter so much where you put the stickers. Maybe I got hung up on tube station posters when really stickering works anywhere.

I’m not sure yet.

I’ll let you know if I make any more stickers, and if they lead me to find any kind of Kentish magic.


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Splitting up

When my *busband’s away life is hard work on my own, and this can make me grumpy. Sometimes we row, and making up isn’t so easy when we’re both busy and don’t see each other. So then I think about us splitting up, and I imagine how life would be if we were no longer a couple. 

I decide I’d still like him to live quite nearby, and I would’t mind seeing him sometimes. I think it would be nice if we kept in touch, stayed friends. I’d like it if he visited regularly. And he wouldn’t need to pop in just for a quick coffee, he could stay all morning if he liked, even all day. And in the evening perhaps we could eat together, have a bottle of wine and watch TV, perhaps we’d watch evening racing? We both like that. And I’d be happy if I saw him quite often, he could even come every day if he liked. And if it got late he could stay over, I wouldn’t mind. And I’d miss making love to him, so it would be silly not to sleep together…

And then I realise how much I love him and want to be with him, always. And I want us to be a good couple and make each other happy instead of arguing, and I realise that I just miss him and wish he was home.


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A rubbish idea

I was wet today so we stayed at home all day. I suggested we make stickers, just as a way of passing the time. I suppose I was thinking about my old tube station stickering campaign. But, as I mentioned, here by the sea in Kent there are no tube station posters to decorate with my homemade art.

Amy debated where to stick her stickers, and settled on our wheely bin which stands outside the front door. I realised that I could stick some stickers on bins too…  But Amy said, ‘Not on other people’s bins!

I was excited about experiencing the thrill of illicit stickering again. ‘Yes, other people’s bins,’ I told her.

‘You can’t do that, it’s not allowed. You’ll get arrested!’

My eight year old has always been one for obeying rules, she hates stepping out of line.

‘I won’t get arrested,’ I told her.

‘it’s graffiti!’ she explained.

I decided not to argue.

She made a bin sticker, with the friendly talking bin saying, ‘Please take our rubbish.’ And she also made a yellow figure with a bright red nose, he said ‘I am the bin man.’ I hope our real bin men will like those. I hope none of them are yellow with red noses and might think she’s making fun of them.

I drew a rainbow. Because Lucas kept pointing at a rainbow picture today, and because there’s a boy drawing a rainbow in the ‘Colours’ book he likes. And because it was raining and I wished the sun would come out.

I also drew a bee sticker. The first sticker I stuck at Tooting Bec tube station was of a bee. I did it then because I felt busy. I think that was the reason, I hardly remember… And I suppose I drew this bee remembering Tooting Bec, and also because Lucas’ first communication was blowing raspberry noises whenever he saw a bee. He did it for lions too, instead of a roar. It was his multi-purpose animal noise. But he started making it because I always buzzed for him at bees.

The third sticker I made was of a horse. I’ve had fun recently betting on horses, and we go to the races whenever we can. I also thought of this horse because Amy’s decided she’d like riding lessons, and I’ve decided I would to. So that’s something positive about our new life in Kent. And there is another reason I drew a horse. It’s a long story, but basically I’m very bad at drawing and someone once saw a horse that I’d drawn and laughed and made me feel bad. But I’ve decided I like my badly drawn horses. I don’t mind being bad at drawing when I do it just for fun.

I don’t think it’s really a good idea to stick stickers on bins. It was so good sticking stickers beside tube escalator posters, but stickering bins seems like a really rubbish idea. I’ll probably do it anyway. This rubbish plan suits my mood, it fits my feelings about this place right now.

And tomorrow the bin men come, so everyone’s bins will be out and handy for my stickering mission. I can do it as I take Amy to school. Well, if she lets me.

And it will be good to stick stickers like in the good old days. Even if I’m putting them on wheely bins full of mouldy food.

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X Factor – The Betting

It was a dull day today so I made notes on X Factor. I usually make this series bearable by betting on it. I thought I’d share my notes on the contestants with you. I’ve added quotes from the judges, current Betfair odds, and scores out of 10 that Amy and I gave their performances in yesterday’s show.

Simon’s boys – 3.55 this group to win

Scott Bruton – 0dds 38

19. Former blue coat. Dull-handsome. Average good voice. ‘X’ diamond earrings (2). Professional voice. “He went for a hard song and pulled it off.” “You’ve done better, you were like someone else when you sang today” Me: 7/10 Amy: 6/10

Eoghn Quigg – odds 15.5

16. Sensitive, bit ugly. Ballad boy. Bit one dimensional? “You’ve been getting better, you’ve got something, but with that performance I thought you blew it.” “I’ll take a chance.”  Me: 7.5/10 Amy: 8/10

Austen Drage – odds 5.7

22. Body builder type. Ugh. Tattoos and accent. Rough boy. “You walked through this” “Great voice”. Sensitive ballad singer. Not original? VERY CONSISTENT. Good bet, will stay in ages but won’t win? “You’re good, but I’m starting to wonder if you sound a bit desperate.” “You’re fantastic.” Me: 9/10 Amy: 8.5/10

Danni’s Over 25s – 6.8 this group to win

Rachel Hylton – odds 11

26. Mum. Big black and earrings. Talking back. Drugs, prison. 5 kids. One kid is 13! Confident singer. Fat thighs. Me: 7.5/10 Amy: 8/10

Ruth Lorenzo – odds 24

25. Big hair. Sang in Spanish before. Pretty-ish. Sang Spanish again! ‘True colours’ with improvised bits. Good voice, cried. Personality ugh. Emotional. Me: 6.5/10 amy: 5/10

Daniel Evans – odds 42

38. Bleached hair fat plumber. Dead wife with baby! Pool cleaner. PUB SINGER! Goatee stubble – yuk! “Is he a pop star?” “I was moved.” Me: 3/10 Amy: 7/10 (up from 5 at song start)

Louis’ Groups – 8.2 this group to win

JLS – odds 13

4 boys. Done very well in other stages. Simon loves them. Lots of rehearsing. Brilliant! Shame about the small gay one. And his back flips! Jo: 9/10 Amy: 5.5/10

Girlband – odds 120

Sisters. Fat girls! Amy: “have they had the big boob operation?”  Very good version of ‘Valerie’. “Real”. Shame about the legs. “But have they got something special?” Me: 8/10 Amy: 5/10

Bad Lashes – odds 50

Crying common lasses. “This is Wonderwall by Ryan Adams.” Not bad voices. Lots of make up and odd clothes – big t-shirts. Stupid name. SING WELL!!  Jo: 8/10 Amy: 5.5/10

Cheryl’s girls – 2.02 this group to win

Diana Vickers – odds 10

17. Blonde. Stupid-mess hair. Model looks. Sexy voice. ‘Nothing compares to you.’ Very good but not very original sound maybe? “So genuine!” Me: 6.5/10 Amy 5/10

Laura White – odds 6

‘Big face girl’. Amy: “She has a big nose. Bigger than yours.” Disappointing at boot camp performance. Black long hair. Nose. Interesting deep strong voice. Potential winner. Amy hates her. “Don’t want to rate her. Do I have to rate her?” ?Dirty girl? ‘Lay me a river’ Brilliant. “Unbelievable.” “Why has she not made it yet?” “Not sure the public will like her?” Me: 9.5/10 Amy: x

Alexandra Burke – odds 4.1

20. Good voice. Pretty. Black girls never win. But if life was fair she should. Passionate. just the image thing..? New Whitney?  2005 was in it too, got to last 6 stage but not live shows. “The public have to know the real you.” Me: 9/10 Amy: 9/10

My Verdict: Sadly I couldn’t see any great bets, I thought the odds were about right. I laid Alexandra at 4 and I had hoped to lay Danni’s no-hoper over 25s group but they’re 6.8 so don’t think there’s value. I’d hoped to back Austin too, but not while he’s second favourite! I think the groups are more interesting than usual this year but I still think the public don’t go for them. Must admit I’m tempted by 120 on girlband, if they stick around a few weeks they’d have to come in… Hmm, or maybe not.

Oh well, I’ll let you know how my X factor bets go this year. If i have to watch the thing (Amy!) I may as well try to make a few quid from it.

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When I’m old and you’re dead

I love my *busband, of course I do. But I found myself thinking the other day, ‘When I’m old and you’re dead I’ll live in Tooting Bec again.’ I sometimes imagine conversations with him when he’s away, but I would never say this to him out loud.

Tooting Bec has this power in my head. I think of it as a magic place. I used to stick stickers on the posters, and believe its streets were paved with tigers, and shiny balloons ,and nomad puppets, not to mention the muffins and the magic number 5. The place felt cluttered with all this magical nonsense, and that meant a lot to me at the time. I still can’t bring myself to write, ‘there is no magic of Tooting Bec.’

I suppose I mythologized the place because it was my home at an important time in my life. I lived in Tootng Bec when I left my parter of 13 years, when I struck out on my own for the very first time. I reinvented myself there,  and found out I was someone I liked. It was hard work and it took tube station magic, home made stickers and a daily blog to do it. But I was happy for a little while with that. Life was even quite exciting. I was the heroine of my Tooting Bec blog adventures.

And now…?

Now I live in Kent, and perhaps I need to reinvent myself again. I can’t really have changed that much from the character who starred in those magical adventures in that ordinary (or extraordinary?) zone 3 London suburb. But I don’t feel I recognise that magic-seeking heroine any more.

Maybe this new blog will help me find her again?

I started my first ever blog years ago, as a way to persuade myself to leave my partner, then I quit that blog and started another to sort my life out when I’d left him. Now here I am, happily living with a busband I love, someone who doesn’t even like blogs, someone who wanted us to leave Tooting Bec…

My last Tooting Bec adventure was the birth of my little boy. He was born at home (he arrived in a rush) delivered by his dad on the landing floor outside our bathroom, with help from the 999 operator – although at one point the phone was dropped on his newborn head. Our little boy was born at 22B, just off the Upper Tooting Road. I could tell you all the magical significance of all that, only I don’t know if I should believe it anymore.

I know I want to.

I left Tooting Bec a week after our baby was born. I started my new life in Kent with my son, my daughter, my busband. There was no more blog-fuelled silliness, and I don’t know why it was, but there was no more magic.

Sometimes I feel lost with these people I care about so much, and I’m starting to suspect I care too little for myself. I realise that I’m no longer a hero with adventures to share, and I now feel very ordinary indeed.

I don’t want to wait until I’m old, and my beloved busband’s dead to find magic again. I want to be a hero now, wherever I am, and whether I write about it or not.

I left Tooting Bec but I have to try to find the magic again. Before I’m old and dead.



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Middle class graffiti

I went to London today to visit my *busband who’s working there at the moment. I used to live in Tooting Bec and London was my home for 14 years. I still miss the buzz of having so much choice in every aspect of life. I miss the shops, the museums, the theatres and cinemas, and music and clubs. Even though I rarely went out (I’m a mum) it felt like there were loads of opportunities for having a good time and just knowing that was a very cheery thought. As well as the restaurants and bars I could hardly ever visit, I discovered there were loads of great takeaways, and off-licences open 24 hours a day! London had plenty to offer the stuck-at-home people too. It is a something-for-everyone kind of place.

We left London because we wanted to buy a house. So now here we are in Kent where we find peace and quiet, no scary crime, a beach, and a 4 bedroomed house with a big garden, all this for less than you’d pay for a central London bedsit over a 24 hour chicken takeaway. 

l still miss London a lot. I miss silly things. Today I noticed all the adverts for books, perfumes, films… It feels as like just walking down a street makes you aware of culture, makes you a part of the zeitgeist. And people in London seem thinner, more interesting, and so much better dressed! How can they afford to spend so much on clothes when they pay so much for housing?

When I lived in London I used to stick home-made stickers on the tube station posters on my way to work each day. I thought about this today when I went up and down tube station escalators with my one year old. He would have loved to see my colourful stickers of bees, monkeys, and whatever else was in my head when I got busy with my daughter’s sticker-making machine.

On the train home to Kent I noticed loads of graffiti by the side of the railway line. It made me smile to think that my paper tube-station stickers were a kind of graffiti too, a safer, tidier, more disposable form of the art. I’d never think of painting on a building with a spray can but I used to love sticking my sticky pictures on those posters beside the escalators. My little stickers were perhaps my middle class graffiti.

So now I live in Kent and there are no tube stations, no escalators,  hardly even any posters. I don’t make my stickers any more.

I miss that too.

I won’t draw on the walls beside the railway line. I’ll accept that living here means I have no voice, less opportunity, and that it means I have no right to rebel.


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