Thursday, 28 July 2011

Blogging in bliss

The other day I managed to blog using my HTC, today I am blogging off a laptop where the mouse doesn't work. You can't say I'm not committed.

I'm going to try and keep today's entry a bit short as I am absolutely shattered and I have bags to pack. No I haven't had an awfully busy, hectic day and am about to be chucked out my flat, I have in fact been on a spa day and go on our mini break tomorrow so I am super chilled and very disorganised in terms of planning for tomorrow!

I'm not sure how many of you enjoy visiting spas and getting pampered and treated like a princess - I would have imagined all of you - but I felt I should let you know how nice my day today really was. Although perhaps I am taking a bit of a chance letting you in on my secret spa find as I don't want you all going there and spoiling it!

Anyways today I went to Rowhill Grange Hotel in Dartford, Kent, in particular the Utopia Spa situated there. This is the sixth ‘spa’ I have been to in my life – others include Five Lakes near Colchester in Essex, a random spa/bath establishment in Budapest on a hen weekend, the spa in my hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, last year on holiday, treatments I’ve had in a local beauticians in Hornchurch and Turkish baths I’ve visited in well Turkey.

I can safely say today’s visit was the best experience of them all, if indeed it was also the dearest. Now I’m used to spas outside of London and their prices so to be fair although this spa was the ‘dearest’ it is still great value, particularly for somewhere that has won a number of awards for its facilities. I had a £50 voucher from my old company (one of my leaving presents) and I took along my Mum for company (spas are gradually growing on her after her initial fear). So the package was £199 (we then took the voucher off of this) for both of us, this included:

• Full use of all the facilities (this means Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool and gym)
• A two course lunch
• Complimentary coffee or tea when you arrive (with the yummiest, stickiest flapjack ever)
• A 25 minute ‘power’ facial
• A 25 mini back, neck and shoulder massage
• Utopia Spa robe (just for the day) and soft white towel
• Use of the changing room facilities, which included individual handtowels to dry your hands on, use of high standard hairdryers and GHD straighteners, complimentary shampoo and conditioner in the showers, I won’t go on…

You are limited to six hours (we opted for 11am-5pm) and at first this put me off, as well as the fact you can’t book your treatment times in advanced. However, I was pleasantly surprised, on arrival you get given a spa day pack and have to fill in ‘consultation forms’ whilst you enjoy your complimentary hot drink. Then you get informed of your times for the day, ours were 1pm facial, 130pm lunch and 430pm massage. This was exactly how we would have planned it!

The rest of the time we were free to wander round in our robes, sit on one of the many loungers in the pool area, swim, work out in the gym or use any of the other facilities. There are of course extras there like a hairdressers, but obviously these come at an extra cost.

Our lunch was gorgeous – goats cheese and red onion tart, followed by a pork loin chop in a sticky jus (can’t remember what it was now) served with apricot and raisin couscous. It was lovely. Great crockery, cutlery and dining environment all helped contribute to a pleasurable meal.

Treatment-wise I found the staff very friendly and very good at their jobs, I felt completely cared for and relaxed and even though we had facials and back massages we had short treatments on our hands/arms and feet/lower legs as part of these too. After the treatment you get a ‘prescription’ of things you can do to improve problem areas and also the products they used. Now I’m not na├»ve I know this is a tool to get you to buy products, but I didn’t care, at no other point did anyone push us into this or try to get us to upgrade our treatments.

Now I’m off with my squeaky clean, baby-bum-soft face and my super soft and knot-free back to get packing for the mini break. We are going for three nights, four days, in this country, yet the pile of clothes on my bed is increasingly looking like the samples/outfits behind the scenes for a full-on catwalk fashion show. Keep checking back to find out how four friends (made up of two couples, two of which are Pinot addicts) get on checking out Cheltenham and the surrounding areas and if you’re really lucky I’ll blog on what it’s like to stay in the Premier Inn!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Barbie babies

Right this is going to be interesting. I am trying to blog using my HTC. I apologise in advance for any horrendous typos, or how short this post will probably turn out to be as I'll get fed up of trying to type on a smartphone.

Anyways... so I went to the gym today again and in the drinks room I picked up a copy of Stylist magazine, I think there's a new one out tomorrow. I must admit I only started reading the article I'm about to refer to and haven't yet finished it, but I was so shocked by the story in there "How to make the perfect baby". Apparently the ability for wannabe parents to soon be able to pick features of their future child is fast approaching. Now, if this means that potentially serious illnesses and conditions can be prevented in future generations this seems a positive step. What I don't find quite so appealing is that this is actually seemingly going to be the next big thing for plastic fantastic addicts who have to have the perfect looking child too.

I admit, on first reading the item and reflecting on my own thoughts I have often hoped that whenever I do have a child I hope and pray it is attractive. Shallow I know, but true.

Obviously, or at least I hope it's obvious, the primary concern is to have a happy, healthy child. But I have joked with my boyfriend how if I gave birth to a ginger child I would dye its hair! What I read in this feature though disturbed me. Trying to make sure a child is a set height, has certain coloured eyes, a small nose or a lighter shade of skin. Surely this is just encouraging prejudice and making fake and super perfect looks more acceptable and the norm.

For one I don't really get why you'd want to create something in this sort of pick n mix system. Why do we want to create a society of clones, where we all look the same and are 'perfect'? Who's to say what is perfect anyway? Surely everybody's tastes and opinion are different?

Also I think it's pretty safe to say that this sort of treatment - or whatever it will be - is going to be limited to those with more money, so does this mean greater divides in society? Poorer kids have to be 'ugly'? What happens if the baby doesn't turn out with the designed/requested features agreed on? Do you get your money back, do you check the baby on a 4D scan and decide it isn't as perfect as you wanted and what get rid of it? It doesn't bear thinking about!

In my eyes it's good to be different, we don't all want to be the same and those features we have all work, along with our personality, to make us who we are. In a world where it seems miscarriages are an increasingly common occurrence why would people not just be grateful for after nine months meeting with this unique and beautiful life they've created?

I for one look forward to a day when I can hopefully meet a baby I've created which will no doubt be super tall, have a big nose, probably have some sort of skin issue and talk too much. But do you know what, I'll love it no matter what and I think that's how it should be. Let's stop all these unnecessary scientific 'developments' to make everything perfect and be happy how we are, none of this plastic surgery unless it's needed for health reasons or someone's life truly is negatively affected by their appearance.

When I'm older with droopy boobs, grey, thinning hair and unsightly wrinkles perhaps I'll think different, but for now I think our 'imperfections' are perfect as they are. Let's let our future generation decide how they want to look.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dying to have fun

So, another weekend, another bout of bad news it seems. The hacking scandal caused all sorts of controversy, outrage and major changes within the media, but this weekend brought about something a lot different. Death.

Both stories are worlds apart. Or are they? One where a talented young musician was found dead, where most people suspect the death was caused by long-term, self-inflicted actions of horrendous levels of drug and alcohol consumption. The other where the lives of 85+ people (although some reports now state it was less) were taken in an allegedly planned attack by one man in Norway and Oslo.

It seems to me that recently just as everything seems to somewhat calm down in the world (well as much as it ever could) then a major incident occurs to shake us all up again.

As you know from my recent shopping blog, I had a sixties themed party to go to this weekend. Which I did indeed attend and had a great night. However, after using the skills of my lovely Mum to help me create a super puffed up beehive I felt a little inappropriate I must admit. Why? Well I’d been all wrapped up in looking just right and then my boyfriend called me to ask if I’d seen the news? Amy Winehouse had been found dead. Thankfully I’d arranged a lift to said party, else I hate to think what would have happened if I’d stepped on the bus or walked there looking as I did!

I’ve had a mixture of thoughts on hearing the news of Amy’s death, a lot of people as I expected have argued it was inevitable the way she was punishing her body and what else would you expect. Others have complained about all the tributes to her ‘great music’, feeling that she was okay but only released two albums, one that was well-known and one maybe not so much. However, regardless to me it doesn’t make her death any less shocking and for her family although they have seen her torment herself and damager her body on and off for years, the fact she’s now gone and didn’t manage to help herself is so sad.

Of course, this also leads us to consider other young stars who died so young, I was shocked to find out that Amy Winehouse was younger than me for a start and it does give you a bit of a reality check. Some have said Amy has now joined the ‘27 club’, a rather depressing observation but a number of stars have died at the age of 27, many of which from over-indulging in these damaging drugs and lifestyles. Just some names are Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jim Hendrix.

So can it be argued the young woman brought it on herself? Should we not feel too much sympathy for her actions? I’m not really someone who surrounds themselves with drugs or condones it, however I am aware that addiction is a hard struggle and a tough battle to face and ultimately not everyone wins it. So although Amy possibly may have contributed to her death by drug abuse, is she still a victim? A victim of addiction?

Gym etiquette

So, after four days of gyming it last week (and a day off due to a hangover on Sunday), I decided today I would go for the workout DVD instead. Rather than my usual 1hour+ I ended up doing half hour on it – the warm up and dance section, still it got me sweating and it was better than nothing so I was relatively okay with my efforts.

That is until I discovered that my boyfriend’s laptop is still not working and I had the ‘bright’ idea to go over to my Mum’s and use her computer (where I am now), but that I should walk here. Admittedly it took less time than I imagined and I walked it in just over half an hour, but I was in flipflops and now I am a bit hot and bothered and adorned with four lovely blisters (two on each foot). Just what I wanted!

I’ve just recently started getting back in to my whole healthy eating and exercise regime, after a bout of being a bit lazy really. It’s funny how quickly you get out of shape just from even the shortest break away and I hated how I was feeling so now I’m trying to stay on track and get myself sorted again.

Last week on one of my many gym visits though I found myself in a right panic as I realised I’d left my towel at home – not one I use to shower with (I tend to go home and get washed after a workout there), but a small towel I use for when I get a bit sweaty on the machines etc. I really did feel lost without it and having to use that horrible blue coloured paper stuff was just not the same.

As I stepped into the gym and started to press all the treadmill buttons to get my workout started I noticed on looking around me that quite a lot of people don’t take a towel with them at all. Obviously a lot of people choose to use said tissue provided in the gym, but many it seems just don’t bother at all and let themselves sweat all over everything and well basically just leave it and move on to the next machine. This is something, amongst many other things in the gym, which really does wind me up.

To me, there are a few rules you should stick to – gym etiquette as it were – in order to have a good gym experience and ensure those around you get the same.

Be dressed appropriately
Now, obviously if you wear the wrong type of footwear and injure yourself that’s down to you and it doesn’t affect me if your trendy ‘boat shoes’ or pretty little pumps don’t support your feet and ankles properly. However, I think people that turn up in their jeans, inappropriate footwear and the like are just plain rude and show a bit of a lack of respect when they enter the gym.

Moreover, are the people who think they are there to show everyone every last inch of themselves – not good. I admit, this is mostly limited to women – apart from those men who don’t quite seem to understand that loose and very short shorts reveal way too much about them and constant squatting or sitting with their legs akimbo on a weights machine really does leave nothing to the imagination. Ew... Some girls don’t get me wrong look amazing and if I was as toned and in shape as them I too would want to wear a crop top and roll the top of my jogging bottoms down – although perhaps not so far that I start to reveal the top of my thong?! One of the classic sights in my gym though is a rather shall we say elderly lady who comes to the gym with a thick sweatband on and usually some sort of shorts or cropped trousers. However the band on her head probably covers up more than what she wears on top – a bra. No, not a sports bra or a crop top, but a full-on granny style bra, add to that a nice wrinkly muffin top and you get the picture. Now I am not one to judge in a gym, I spent the first few months of my membership hiding in a side room as I was convinced people were laughing at me and all sorts. But honestly, is this sort of attire really necessary, who is it benefiting??

Wipe down the equipment
So, everyone sweats in the gym, it’s a fact of life and necessary and those people who go to the gym and don’t sweat, well quite frankly work a bit harder! However, if you find as you run some sweat drips from your hairline onto the treadmill, you sit on the rowing machine and leave a bit of a sweat patch on the seat, or sitting on a weights machine you leave lines of sweat on the back of the seat then for goodness sake please just wipe it up!

The number of people who leave machines drenched in their sweat is ridiculous and it’s not nice for the next person waiting to go on – some machines may be the only one available in your gym, or in busy periods you just need to get on whatever you can, so you can’t be picky if a machine presents itself sweaty or not. So what do you do? Am I expected to wipe up someone else’s sweat, or worse still do these people think we should use our towels to wipe up somebody’s else’s mess? Yuck, no thank you.

Keep things tidy
I go to the gym armed with towel, water bottle, mp3 player, asthma inhaler and my membership card but I appreciate some people prefer to travel light and use the facilities there. Fine. But, if you use the blue paper towel to wipe something up throw it in the bins, do not leave it in the pockets of the machine meant to house the next person’s water bottle. If you buy an energy drink from the vending machines when you’ve drunk it do not leave it on the machine or the floor, put it in the bin! The other day in fact my Mum went to go and sit on the bike and someone had just used some paper towel and left it scrunched up on the seat, lovely. Seriously, how hard can it be?

Muscle meatheads
Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the form of men who work out and put in all that effort to look so ‘buff’, but if they come in the shape of dumbbell dropping, grunting, arrogant morons then I am not a fan. Why do gyms always seem to get those guys who have to show just how big and strong they are by making all sorts of unimaginable noises as loud of possible. Yes, I can see you’re lifting a weight, yes I can see it’s very heavy and you have big, strong arms, but no I am not impressed with your grunts echoing around the room and putting me off my session.

Or the best is when you’re somewhere near those guys lifting weights who are such ‘hard’ men that they don’t put weights back, oh no, not for them they just drop them. On the floor which makes the area near it vibrate, or in most cases makes people around you jump out their skin. To me dropping it like that makes guys look more weak as if they had to drop the weight suddenly as it got too much for them surely?

A few months back my gym had a bit of a revamp and got some new machines in, most of the ones they replaced were actually better in my humble opinion but anyway...What I then found much to my dislike, was that the meatheads then decided this area – a bit like ‘muscle beach’ (you know the bit I mean!) – should also belong to them and they would hog the machines. So now, when I want to go on the lat pulldown or the leg press for instance I normally have to wait for some gym obsessive to finish his set (which seems to mostly consist of staring and then flexing his muscles, rather than any weight lifting) before I can get started. Before the old equipment area was deemed ‘for girls’ and they left well alone, but because it’s all shiny and new they want a piece of it.

Anyway I should really be concentrating more on getting in the gym and sorting my body out, rather than whingeing about the behaviour in it. For now I’ll step around the dropped dumbbells and avoid the sweaty bits on the machines, I’ll only use one hole of the machine storage area and make sure I clean up after myself. Perhaps one day one of these people will slip on the mess or drop the barbell on their foot and then we’ll all have a break from them for a while. One can only dream as I enter my gym tomorrow and endure the sweat pouring out of me as yet again they decide they can’t really be bothered to switch the aircon on or turn the music to an appropriate volume or upbeat channel.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Melican says Relax!

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since Monday...not good. In my defence the laptop I’ve been using at home hasn’t been working and so I haven’t really had any way in which to update my huge following  - of probably around 10 people tops - so don’t know why I’m too worried!!

So what have I been doing since leaving work? It’s been a mixture of ups and downs to be honest with you...

Realising how much weight I’ve put on since being stressed and unhappy at previous job – not good.
Being sent over interview opportunities for loads of cool sounding and well-paid jobs which I have placed in a ‘job stuff’ folder in my email and chosen to ignore seeing as I have a job ready and waiting.
Day and a half long hangover after drunken antics at my leaving do – horrendous.
Starting to eat healthily again and get back in the gym – good.
Not consuming alcohol for the last 5 days – impressive.
Celebrated boyfriend’s Dad’s birthday with a yummy Chinese – nice.
Belated birthday and Father’s Day celebrations with for my Dad (they were off gallivanting in Canada and USA), including gorgeous Thai meal out – very nice.
Friend’s 60s fancy dress party planned for Saturday – cool.
Sunday – meal and cinema planned with close friends – fab. Oh no wait, boyfriend’s hours been changed last minute yet again so now mucked up! (Oh hang on actually sounds like boyfriend just didn’t check rota properly, now why am I not surprised...)
Friday next week our mini break away with same close friends for 4 days – can’t wait.
Going to finally see Bridesmaids film and hopefully Horrible Bosses film – fun – although Colin Farrell’s getup in the latter is disturbing me already...
Start new job in 12 days time – scary!! And kinda exciting too.
Thursday next week – spa day – woohoo!!

I’ve ended on the spa day as I am tres excited about this little adventure and I love spas! It’s weird I am very anxious about personal space in a lot of situations, but when it comes to having my hair done, being massaged, getting a facial, having my feet treated in a pedicure I am in heaven. I find it so relaxing!

I only started going to spas a few years back when wives/girlfriends of my boyfriend’s mates suggested it and since then I have been hooked. I’d say I only go about twice a year to a spa on a spa day – usually special offers! However I thoroughly enjoy the whole strolling around in a robe all day and being pampered. Who wouldn’t?

Well, my Mum actually, when we first went she was super nervous about it all – but after enjoying the treatments, gym, swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, two-course lunch included and a bit of vino she loved it! I’ve even managed to drag my man along on occasion!

I’m a little miffed I’ll admit that this particular spa day limits you to what time you arrive and leave – we’ve gone for 11 ‘til 5 in case you’re interested (no why would you be). During that time we can use all the facilities which look so luxurious and we also get a two course lunch and a 25 minute facial AND a 25 minute back massage. Ooh I can’t wait!!

Also in the teeny tiny small print it does say you can’t plan the times of your treatments until you get there, which again kind of goes against the whole relaxing element of the day in my mind, but we’ll give it a go. It’s won loads of awards so I’m interested to see if it beats my usual spa of choice. I’ve got £50 off thanks to a voucher from my old company as part of my leaving do, so I can’t really complain. I’ll keep you posted how it goes!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Confessions of a FORMER shopaholic??

Something happened today which has made me panic. I went shopping and I didn’t 100% enjoy it if I’m honest. This has got me in a bit of a worry.

I’ve always loved shopping, to me there is no better feeling than coming home laden down with bags stuffed full of new purchases. Granted I have had days where I have finished the shopping spree and been absolutely shattered, but I have never really felt unhappy whilst out and about and partaking in retail therapy.

Today though I was a beaten woman. Today I went out with my Mum to try and purchase an outfit for a 60s fancy dress party I’m going to on Saturday.  Sounds easy enough a task right? Oh no, not if you dare to try and make things match up in just the remotest sort of way.

So, I managed to get a 60s style shift dress – black and white with a flower belt, which actually came with a headband and earrings – all for £20. Bargain I thought!

The shop assistant was actually super helpful and rather than pushing me into buying things, she stated how my hair as it is could be set into a beehive and there’s no need to waste money on one of the wigs they sell. She suggested I try a Bump It – can I just explain here both me and my Mum were so confused at this point, did she say ‘bunpick’, ‘bunthing’, ‘bumpet’? Thankfully she suggested a couple of shops where they sold them and after asking a very confused girl on the tills for one of these contraptions she provided what we wanted and it was in the sale for £1, result!

Basically, these grips fit in your hair and give you more volume so you can create quiffs, beehives and more. Now, I haven’t tried it out yet but so far I am pretty sold on this creation. I’ve never heard of it before! A true sign I’ve not been shopping enough recently. Maybe that’s why I found the shopping trip so hard to handle, I’ve been away so long I’ve got some sort of allergic reaction to it?

Anyway, all seemed to be going very swimmingly. That was until I tried to get some boots – there are tons of cheapo tacky shoe places in the lovely Romford, I thought getting some PVC/plasticky looking boots would be a doddle. Oh no, not when I want them. There weren’t any boots to be seen, anywhere.

Okay perhaps I can wear some patent shoes I’ve got – Mum lived through the sixties and seemed to think this would work. Yes all I need is some white tights that’d work. So off we go to get some white tights. Now, is it me or is this a pretty basic item?

Of all the staples to see me through this shopping saga, the one and only Primani let me down. NO! I hear you cry. Yes, the shop that normally does every colour of tights under the sun and at a cheap price (let’s face it when am I going to wear half this stuff again), didn’t have any white tights. I tried every clothing, accessory or footwear shop in the area – nothing. Just one pair in the shop where I got my dress (yes we did do numerous loops of the shopping centre), but only in size medium.

No I’m not being fussy, my legs are pretty elephant-esque, but medium should fit them, but the deciding factor in leaving them there was the fact the box said they would fit up to 5ft8 tall women. That is most certainly not me, try adding another 3 inches onto that.

What do you reckon? Should I have chanced these tights that might be too short or was I right to leave them sitting there? This is actually really bothering me this evening to be truthful with you. To be honest visions of me in a 60s mini dress with my chunky knees was bad enough, but to stretch over that too small white tights and then spend the evening walking like a penguin with the crotch sliding down was just too much.

The other nightmare was bracelets, every girl likes to accessorise. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard about the monochrome look being in and how fashionable black and white is. Yet today not one shop had white chunky bangles.  I started to go insane and got very very angry.

In fact me and Mum both started to actually go a little mental after a while – we tried to get all the shopping done before lunch. Big mistake, we ended up eating at about 330pm with dry red eyes, giving a manic look to passers by, achy legs and feet and starting to imagine random items in shops were what we wanted (we actually contemplated seeing if curtain pole hooks would work!)

So there you have it, after 6, nearly 7 hours of wandering round the shops – including a near on 30 minute wait for my awful bus – I decided I am done with shopping. I just did not enjoy today and I think we can safely say Mum felt the same.

I shall continue my quest for white tights, bracelets and 60s boots for now.  Well online that is. I tell you what though if anyone turns up at this party on Saturday not in full-on 60s regalia God help them, I will not be held responsible for what I might do…

Sunday, 17 July 2011

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…

I had some interesting conversations this weekend regarding alcohol consumption. Surprisingly some family members found it funny and congratulated me on my recent drunken behaviour on my work leaving do. Saying well done for taking after them and their drunken ways. Others weren’t quite so complimentary and tutted at my behaviour, warning me the sorts of dangers you could get in whilst being in such a state. Some friends/colleagues argued that it was a leaving do and you’re expected to get ‘hammered’ after such a long time working somewhere.

One question that did crop up as the result of this comical chatter was how can you tell how much is too much? Is there an age you should stop drunken antics, or in fact whatever your age should consuming too much alcohol be something that is always avoided and is looked down on?

I’m not saying getting drunk should become a new entry in the Olympics, or that it’s big or clever to get in such a state, but is it just another way to let off steam and relax (in moderation)? How do you know if you’ve got a real problem? How fine is the line between being the good time girl and finding yourself reliant on having a drink every day?

Is getting inebriated, having to be coaxed out of a toilet for near on 90 minutes and finding it nigh on impossible to walk something to be completely and utterly ashamed of, or just a part of being young? Or even, somewhere in between?

Finding yourself reunited with the many liquids you worked your way through during the evening, absolutely disgusting or inevitable? And if only happening on the odd occasion, perfectly acceptable?

I admit I often struggle with whether at 28, near on 29, I’m getting too old to be going out on nights out and getting myself in a drunken stupor – not on purpose, I’m not one of these people that heads out and has a plan to get off my face or anything. However, should I by now know when I’m teetering on that edge of having too much and know to stop myself?

Is the fact I like to have a good night out now and again, which can often lead to me being drunk, a bad thing? Or is this my alternative to what other people do to let loose – I drink alcohol, rather than take drugs, I like a nice cold glass of wine, rather than inhale numerous amounts of cigarettes. It was argued in our talk that really alcohol is a drug and some of the responses people at the table gave to a handful of the questions indicated perhaps they were slightly addicted in a way to drinking.

Although some of us don’t wake up craving a cocktail or dying for a double vodka, is the fact whenever we go for a night out we end up drunk a sign we are actually dangerously closer to an alcohol problem than we think?

We’ve all seen over the years how reports and articles have come out suggesting women are getting worse than men at binge drinking and that in some way females filling their throats with booze is actually a way to compete with men. I have to say the latter I completely disagree with and trying to be equal to men is more about trying to get the same salary for the same career position, rather than if you can drink your best bloke buddy under the table!

In fact as one of the group who encourage our friends/colleagues to down yet another shot or wolf down another wine, are we as much at fault? Do we have a responsibility to then take care of that individual if we get them in that state or is it their fault for getting like that?

I plan to start my healthy eating and exercise plan yet again this week so I can say I’m pretty safe on being near enough average on the alcohol consumption front for now. Whether it’s something myself or friends of mine, or even family members, need to consider and truly assess in the future remains to be seen.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Imprisonment - a short story

“Shall we go upstairs? There’s no one up there,” Tony, a sweet boy I had only met when I first arrived at the party, smiled at me sweetly. That was it, the promises of the perfect night for me had been shattered. He saw the look of fright on my face.

“Oh, uh we can just talk you know,” he offered, still I gave no reply.

“I thought you liked me Carly, I only want to talk, honestly.” A chill went down my spine, his tone of voice had changed, and had become slightly frustrated.

“Look, sorry I can’t,” I stammered, he laughed.

“Oh for god’s sake, if you don’t like me you should have told me!” he cried. He continued trying to persuade me to go upstairs and talk. Eventually I built up my courage and agreed after he’d suggested another couple could join us so that I realised I had no excuse not to.

We were up the stairs now, by the door, which with a swift turn of the handle opened. Tony motioned for me to enter first. I placed one foot in the doorway and could already hear the footsteps, the threats, the door locking, the four walls closing in on me. I pushed past Tony and rushed down the stairs and out of the door, tears streaming down my face.

Once outside the echoes still pounded in my head. “Look, no one wants you, they haven’t paid up yet have they??” and “Crying’s not gonna get you anywhere.”

“Stop! I said stop!”

I frantically gasped in immense amounts of air, my chest aching, and then yet again for the umpteenth time, the memories hit me. Gnawing at my brain, eating away my confidence.


This room seems the only one left in this squalid, dilapidated building which has the original walls and a lockable door. The once jagged-edged, crack and hole-covered window has been scruffily taped up now, ever since I foolishly tried to escape through it. I think that happened a few months ago, but this meaningless period of darkness and isolation seems in a completely different timezone to that of the human outside world and so I cannot be sure. I have tried to undo the sharp edged tape before now, so that I may breathe in some fresh air to replace this stagnant, unhealthy environment, but they caught me. I got three beatings for that and anyway it would only torment me being able to hear life outside these four restricting walls.

On one occasion I dared to ask if I could perhaps clean myself a little. All I got was a bucket of scalding water thrown over me, which covered my skin in blisters for days afterwards. The rats can obviously smell the scent of dirt and decay and so they regularly climb through the grating in the wall and clamber over me. It terrifies me, yet I cannot do anything about it as a I am too weak and disturbed to move.

Darkness and emptiness surround me, I am accompanied by nothingness yet it still manages to cause me to feel claustrophobic and breathless. At least I have my privacy you would think, but no that has disappeared now too. Recently I was given a new piece of clothing to wear, a baggy t-shirt and shorts with holes in and stains on. They said this was generous, but it was given to replace my thick jumper and trousers I had been wearing when they captured me. Perhaps if I had some energy I would manage to shiver from the overpowering, icy, chilled draughts that creep in through the cracks in the walls. Anyway, when I was given these garments to change into, they stood there and watched me standing nervously, bare, naked and exposed.

My throat is so dry and raspy, it feels as if it is constructed from sandpaper. My mouth is covered in ulcers and contains a bitter, unpleasant taste. A taste which feels like all the bitter feelings and thoughts in my mind have flavoured it.

They chuck a piece of bread in the room. That must mean I will not be getting any liquid until this evening (I can only tell it is evening by the way the cell begins to turn darker than it normally is). The metal bucket in the corner of the room, lying on its side, spilling out unmentionable items onto the bare floor. A few flies flutter around it, the rest are dead and rotting with the tiny mouse that the rats attacked a while ago. Yet they still expect me to use the bucket. I feel sympathy for the mouse, which got attacked as I do and is now being left to disintegrate into a small pile of waste like me.


Shaking, I awoke. Where was I? In bed? How did I get here? I looked around panicking, and froze with terror as the door opened.

“Carly, are you alright love?” It is my mother, bringing my mind slowly back to reality. I wipe my sweat-drenched face. Waiting momentarily to sip some tea I drift back into a deep, disturbing sleep.


Another day, using all my strength to life my eyelids, I am hit with the overpowering stench of waste, but notice the bucket and mouse are gone. I look around me concerned, frantically shaking my head, talking to the atmosphere and telling it to ‘Leave me alone’’. I feel exposed, not knowing when and by whom the little bucket was removed.

Tears pour down my face, as the rain drops outside stream down the window, causing bobbly lines to shadow. As these rivers of depression, anxiety and hurt flood from my eyes, I feel how moist they are making my dirt and pain-stained cheeks. It is ironic how I have too much liquid dropping from my eyes, yet not enough to relieve my torrid throat. As a storm brews outside so does the anger inside me boil up, furious over this feeling of invasion and yet thankful that at least the loneliness has been lost for some time.

The door bursts open and they storm in, as usual their faces masked with balaclavas.

“Get up!” they order, yelling at me.

“I can’t” I answer timidly and unbearably apprehensively. They don’t like this reply, so they brutally grab my arms, which are already stained with deep, purple bruising and drag me across the floor to the other side of the room, I ask why I have been moved and they say because they thought I ‘might like a change of scenery’ and then laugh. Then they leave me a rusty jug of water and a bowl of some lumpy mixture and thud out of the room, purposely slamming the door shut, so that it irritates my aching head. I hear their heavy, metal capped boots thumping along the floor and then floorboards cracking next door to me, where they play their television.

Deliberately the television is turned up when a programme is interrupted by a missing person’s plea conducted by my parents. Animals!

Gazing across at the sharp tape on the window I briefly consider suicide, but since this would satisfy them I’m not prepared to do that. I truly believe they are so disturbed now that money is no longer their wish, my suffering has replaced it. I slowly open my mouth to try and eat some food, experiencing unimaginable agony as the sores (from when I was gagged) are stretched during the process. I manage to swallow some of the unrecognisable coloured mix and gulp down some water, but I am ill from its stale and appalling texture. I hear the weather person on the television say it is snowing today and I long to see the picturesque view of snow covered trees and small children playing in it.

I take, what I guess to be an hour, before I manage to crawl to the other side of the room and lift myself up. Leaning against the wall, I paw at the taped window unsuccessfully, where I do not have strength or willpower to pick it off. What makes it harder is the fact I cannot even feel the tape, because of my pain-numbed hands, which I don’t even realise are bleeding from the roughly cut, razor sharp edges.

I fall to the floor and collapse in a heap, when I am startled by the sudden opening of the door and a figure above me.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

“I wanted to see the snow” I slur my words, even speech tires me out now.

“You what?!” He hits me round the face and rushes out of the room. When he returns, he has some rag which he ties too tightly round my head, covering my eyes. The pressure on them, enlarges my headache and thumping on my temples. I sob uncontrollably, now I am blinded. Further, more extreme darkness, left to my own thoughts.

“And don’t even think about trying to undo that!” He bellows.


The sharp, ringing trill of the telephone vibrates throughout my ears awakening me. My eyes are slowly adjusting to the room, when suddenly my Mum calls up to me.

“Carly, Tony’s on the phone.”


* This was another short story I wrote at around the age of 17, as part of a creative writing course.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Violence - how do we stop it?

I’m a bit all over the place emotionally today what with it being my last day at my job, so I was a bit unsure what I was going to blog about. That was until I had a bit of a nose at the news and recalled a conversation we had in work yesterday.

Violence. The fact that it seems to be happening at an increasing rate and more worryingly appears to be accepted more freely as a way of life nowadays.

Only in the paper this morning there was the story of a young boy who was stabbed in Greece by a taxi driver, or earlier this year the lady who was stabbed and beheaded in Tenerife! How cautious are we going to have to be about going on holiday soon?

The reason I started thinking about this was yesterday a new joiner to the company was talking about how she’s looking for somewhere to live when she starts the job full time. She’s from the countryside and is a bit wary of where to base herself in the capital. What made me laugh was the conversation that developed off the back of this where we all tried to suggest places that were deemed ‘okay’ to leave. We got a bit stuck. In a classic quote from a colleague “London is best described as a big pile of s**t, where somebody has just thrown a few scattered diamonds over the top of it”.

As the chat continued a few places were mentioned where I noted that they might not be the best choice as someone had been stabbed there. To which people cried “well that’s good as it means there’s already been one there, there might not be another one for a while”, or more shockingly “people get stabbed everywhere!” Obviously it’s not like people are getting stabbed every day in broad daylight just for leaving their house, but it does now seem to be a fact of life and something people are willing to accept just happens.

Of course we’ll never forget the case of Stephen Lawrence. That was back in 1993 when it seemed stabbings weren’t quite as common. But now magazines and papers seem to be full of articles detailing stabbings, gang attacks and even girl gangs’ increasing popularity.

As I mentioned last week I felt threatened by a guy on my morning train who I was pretty sure was going to get violent so I moved and only this morning a pair of men were arguing, near fighting at the train station over pushing each other to get on the tube. At a recent festival I witnessed two guys turn from pushing each other to get through the crowd, to one headbutting the other and another punching him in the face in return.

What is causing people to turn to violence so much more now? And how bad are things going to get? Are we soon going to get to a stage where it gets dangerous to be walking on the street after a certain time and avoiding eye contact in case we get on the wrong side of someone?

Some reports show that domestic violence has increased with the credit crunch and even more disturbingly there are more cases of violence against children in England and Wales now too. Others suggest that trying to place more laws on drugs means that violence and murders are likely to increase.

It’s not looking too positive is it really? Whatever happens, something needs to change soon to address people’s views on violence and from a young age too – with teachers faced with pupils carrying weapons and reports suggesting violence in schools is up even the younger generation see violence as an acceptable option. If we don’t stop them what are our children’s children going to have to face? 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Grass is always greener?

Well well well the day has finally arrived. Tomorrow is my last day at work. So am I jumping for joy and ecstatic at the thought of never having to go there again? Actually, no.

I’ve found myself today feeling a mixture of emotions, but in the main I’ve felt quite sad. Ironically, after 7 and a half years there, many of which (in the latter years) I’ve just wanted a quick thank you or a bit of recognition – today I got it. A thank you card from my boss with some kind words in it regarding my work, I really genuinely appreciated it.

As I walked round the Canary Wharf shops at lunch I found myself feeling down that my lunchtimes would no longer be spent strolling around the many stores that make up the maze that is the shopping centre there. I seem to have been getting on better with colleagues in the office – I guess because I’m more laid back and relaxed – and just hope I meet people in my new career that are as much fun. I’m not going to be Little Miss Go To Girl who knows it all, I’m going to be the new clueless stranger who doesn’t know anyone or anything yet – scary times.

I am pretty much convinced that tomorrow will see me become a blubbering mess quite early on into the evening at my leaving drinks, in fact it’s pretty likely to occur beforehand. Every kindly worded email I’ve received so far from clients or colleagues alike have left me a bit wet around the tear duct.

So why is it? After months of stressing out as to whether I should leave there and being down and depressed about having to work at the company, how come now I’m able to finally get out I feel unsure and sad?

Is this a typical case of grass is always greener on the other side? I have thought to myself am I going to live to regret my decision. To be honest I really don’t think I will, the time was right and I hope this is the start of many positive years and experiences to come. However, the thought of not seeing some of those people everyday and not doing that familiar journey, viewing those same old sights and friendly faces, is filling me with a dread a bit.

Why is it we always feel that what we haven’t got is what we need or want? People always crave more money, but often it’s the case that however big a salary you have you will spend it and soon want more. You think people with short hair look better, you cut yours and you prefer it long. Some people feel unhappy with their weight, they go on a diet and then find their bubbly personality has gone. People want to move to the country for a nicer way of life, they take the plunge and then find they’re bored as the countryside is too quiet for them. I could go on.

So now I have a day tomorrow of leaving well wishes, a leavers lunch and hopefully a relaxed time before I finish up. Fingers crossed I won’t shed too many tears and I remain polite in my exit interview.

Anyway to be honest I don’t know what I’m worrying about, there’s no guarantee I’m going to be going anywhere after my leaving drinks and the horrendous alcohol consumption that awaits me if my colleagues have anything to do with it. Oh well, I better make the most of it, there may well be another leaving do at the bar we’re going to and I wouldn’t want to wish I was on theirs instead...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A trust torn apart

The scalding water pours down on my and stings my already raw skin. I have been in the shower now for a whole hour, but still I persist in scrubbing and scratching at myself because I can still feel it. The dirt, the scent, the pain and the fingerprints will stain my skin for eternity, memories forever embedded in my mind. My hair is damp and plastered to my head, strands of it hanging over my eyes. Due to the stinging, hot liquid in them already, I cannot see clearly. Another reminder of what has happened, as well as the visible red grip marks on my arms and neck.

I hear the front door click open and recognise the familiar call of my mother’s high pitched, scatty voice asking how my day was. Resting my head in my hands, slowly I’ sinking to the floor until I am rocking back and forth like a child. Tears streaming down my face, like the raindrops sliding down the windowpane and shower water trickling off my bare skin, water everywhere but still the filthy layer remains.

Why didn’t I just be polite and helpful? Why was I so rude? How could I do this to my family? I should have realised what would happen, I deserved it.

I can still remember the day I first met him, A strong, broad, powerful figure who towered over me with disturbing eyes and a sickly grin.

“You’re a pretty little ting aren’t you? It should be made illegal all these gorgeous girls in one house”! I just stare at him blankly and he smiles, like one of those game show hosts – all teeth and no sincerity.

“I SAID what are you doing?!” My thoughts are abruptly interrupted by my mother’s shrieks.

“Having a shower” I shout back, attempting to appear calm and confident.

“Another one? You have about four or five a day now. What’s wrong with you? You’re wasting my water, it all costs money you know! Oh and hurry up, Russell will be here soon”.

I shudder as his name shoots shots of memories and images into my mind. Suddenly the doorbell rings, its sound echoes throughout my head. He’s here. I hear Mum stumbling to the door and giggling, my heart begins to pound even faster as I realise that yet again she has been out drinking.

“Russell…” she cries, her speech slurred.

I shakily put on some clothes and rush downstairs into the front room where they are sitting. He notices me and stares, his eyes burning holes into me. Suddenly my legs feel as if they are no longer capable of supporting me. I’m like a new born deer – innocent and weak. Hurriedly I sit down, the scent of strong alcohol infests the air, forcing out the room’s once pleasant aroma.

The walls are covered in comforting, familiar, family photographs which incur happy, well-loved memories. One look at Russell swiftly destroys them though. I look around the room but all that my eyes are greeted with are stained glasses of all shapes and sizes covered with ghastly coloured lipstick and containing stale, leftover drink. No doubt remaining from one of Mum’s many drinking binges. My eyes begin to fill with saddened tears, but I quickly wipe them from my cheek as Mum looks concerned.

Russell seems totally oblivious to any feelings or thoughts I have as he concentrates instead on telling jokes to Mum. She simply giggles like a silly schoolgirl at whatever Russell says, then she takes another large gulp of her drink.

Whenever I watch Mum drink she reminds me of a dehydrated, dying child from a drought-suffering country, desperate and prepared to do anything just for one tiny, thirst-quenching, almost teasing, drop of drink. It is as if Mum is a helpless, fragile, suffering creature lost in a desert of alcoholism – she can never get enough, if she can’t get alcohol she feels close to death and if she does give in and consumes that sickening poison, she brings herself even closer to death.

I quickly escape from the room, attempting to leave the memories, the fake laughs and words, and the broken trust behind me. I almost laugh at myself for creating such disillusions of hope. Instead I just cry.

**YEARS LATER**

“Melissa, your mothers on the phone, honey” Mark, my caring husband calls down whilst I prepare dinner for him and the children.

“Okay I’ll let you finish it off, because I’ve got to get to the centre soon” I reply, as I wipe my tomato stained hands on a dish cloth and pick up the phone in the hall.

“Hello sweetheart” my mother says in a friendly manner, so very different to all those many years ago when she hadn’t had the time of day for me.

We have a pleasant conversation and I come off the phone smiling, pleased that she has managed to help herself. I have forgiven her for not protecting me, her alcohol problem and her bad parenting now. I grab my coat and bag and say ‘good bye’ to Mark and the children, half wishing I could stay when I smell the mouth-watering meal cooking.

The drive to the centre doesn’t take me long and when I get there and see those innocent, hurt faces I do not feel so uncomfortable. Although the shame inside me still gnaws away at my conscience. Will it all go wrong? Will no one believe me? I take a seat.

“So, Melissa, are you sure you feel up to this today?”

For one slight second I begin to doubt my decision, but then I take a look at all these young girls outside and know what is right.

“Yes”.

“Melissa, would you like to tell the group your story, remember you can say as little or as much as you like.”

Even after ten years the tears begin to pour down my face again. I take a deep breath and begin, hearing the soft click of the door as my mother walks into the room. I say the words croakily and slowly.
“Ten years ago, in my home, I was raped…by my Mum’s boyfriend.”

The wonderful memory of the day when everything bad seemed to end, replays for another time in my head. I wake with a beaming smile and for another time I experience the feeling of an immense weight of worry being lifted from my shoulders. I get up from the settee, where I had been resting and go out.

As I walk down the street I see a little girl holding hands with her father, she is holding a small teddy bear as they come out of the children’s shop. The little girl thanks him for the teddy.

“That’s alright, best not tell Mum though, she thinks you’ve got too many. I’ll be our little secret. Don’t tell anyone.”

The father’s teasing words make the child laugh, but to me they’re like an arrow of pain and hurt being stabbed into my heart. Immediately the horrifying, unbearable memories surface in the mixed up flow of thoughts and worries in my head.

“I’ve tried to be nice to you. So many times I’ve tried. But you just don’t care do you? Well this time perhaps you’ll realise how nice I really can be.”

The putrid smell of cheap aftershave and stagnant sweat overpower me, the tight, animal-like grip on my arms hold me down – I’m weak, powerless and imprisoned. The dark, empty space in the room mirrors the empty, evil, black nothingness that appears to be in this man’s feelings and thoughts. His grasp tightens and his weight and power increase by a vast amount.

“Don’t tell anyone, you’ll only hurt your Mum. She probably won’t care anyway, it’s your own fault.”

The power and pressure becomes unbearable as he begins to laugh at my sobs of fright.

“No!”

“Excuse me, are you alright?” The girl’s father caringly enquires, he puts a concerned arm round me. I flinch in disgust and I feel ashamed I have brought such attention to myself.

“It helps to talk you know.”

I just smile politely and slowly, shakily walk away. He was right, it does help to talk, but not if the other person isn’t willing to listen. My memories gush back into my mind, whilst a tear comes to my eye.

“Mum! I have no reason to lie! Please, I’m begging you. I need you to believe me. He hurt me Mum…badly.”

“How can you make up such a disgusting thing, I know you feel you need attention, but this is stupid. Oh don’t tell me, I bet this is an insane idea to stop this imaginary drink problem you think I have. You never liked him from the start, but this is unbelievable!”

As my Mum says this she laughs in disbelief and the overwhelming stench of stale alcohol escapes from her mouth and hits me.

As I start to focus in the present world, I realise I have walked home now. Once inside my house I decide to ring my Mum, just to reassure myself of the fact we are now close and she is fully recovered from the drink. I nervously dial the number, petrified it’s all been another wishful thought.

“Mum?”

“Oh Melissa, how are you? I was just thinking about you” she warmly replies, I smile, relieved.

After the phone call I feel terribly lethargic and after trying to fight the bad memories which are attempting to burst into my mind, I fall asleep…

“Melissa, Melissa! Catch the ball!” A happy, laughing, content little girl turns around from the crystal clear lake. She smiles and attempts to run to reach the ball. However, as she looks at the perfect, clear, beautiful blue sky with its white, soft, candyfloss clouds she cannot see the ball. Just light. The brightest, warmest, friendliest sphere of light offering protection, caring and earnest promises. She looks around her, at the wide open, clean, green, grass fields and the white picket fences along their edges. The sweet smell of chocolate and treats wisps through the air along with the aroma of freshly baked bread and the field’s deep red and bright white roses. She knows she cannot reach the light. However, as she slowly begins to believe in herself and realise although it is out reach the light will always be there. I know one day soon I will catch the ball.

* This is a short story I wrote when I was around 17 years old and at college as part of a creative writing course I took part in *

Can someone hear a buzzing sound?...

What is it that makes some of us fearless and others a quivering mess when faced with a tin of beans??

I have quite a few phobias, I’ll admit, although none so out of the ordinary as those oddballs on shows such as Freaky Eaters! I can quite comfortably eat beans on toast thank you very much.

But yesterday I found myself a prisoner in my own flat after I discovered a wasp in my lounge. There I was comfortably relaxing on my sofa and then I heard that insistent buzzing – urgh I hate that sound! As soon as the wasp got partly through the gap in the open window I was up, rushing out the room and quickly slamming the door shut. I then sat for over 10 minutes in my bedroom before I would dare set foot back in that room.

I’ve had a fear of wasps (and bees) for absolutely years now, I’ve dropped sandwiches at picnics, leapt up from sunloungers and ‘hid’ behind my hands at the mere sound of those nasty stinging machines.

The weird thing is I’ve never been stung, so what have I got to fear? Well, I think this could partly be it – I’ve built up the thought of being stung to such a ridiculous level now that I am in constant fear of it happening. I’m even quite suspicious that I may have some form of allergy which will see me go into some sort of shock/fit if a wasp or bee were to decide to inflict pain.

Similarly I am petrified of spiders. Now when I was visiting friends in Sydney and we were faced with a spider the size of our open fist I feel this fear was slightly more justified. However I am frightened of arachnids whatever size and shape they come in and even a teeny tiny, incy wincy spider will make my skin crawl. It’s just the way they move. Yuck.

Animals seem to be a running theme actually. I have a real phobia of dogs – something I think I’ve got from my Dad and I get really frightened if I’m out and about and see one, particularly if one comes bounding towards me. And even the video clip of a rat on I’m A Celebrity makes me go cold and covered in goosebumps!

I also find before I go on a meeting with a client I get a bit nervous, I worry I’ll sound like I won’t know what I’m talking about or I’ll get lost and not be able to find their office. However, at least when this happens I find I’m fine when I get in there and face to face with them – I don’t stop talking!!

Although I have quite a few phobias, I guess in a way I’m quite lucky they are relatively ‘normal’. I’ve come across people scared of birds, belly buttons, clowns and squirrels, but I wonder how these fears develop – are we influenced by those around us or is it genetic? Do we come with any phobias that we’re pre-programmed with at birth? I certainly don’t remember seeing anybody crying or nervous with odd phobias when they’re babies or children – it seems to develop as we get older somehow.

According to some sources, 4 out of 5 people have a phobia. The most common apparently include arachnophobia, sociaphobia (fear of being judged negatively in social situations), claustrophobia, fear of flying (aviophobia) and agoraphobia (fear of going out).

Some of these seem pretty understandable in certain circumstances but there are a lot more out-there fears in existence. Looking on this site , it appears people can be frightened of being frightened – photobophobia!  Or perhaps that miserable person in your office actually has geliophobia (a fear of laughing). Clearly some people on the train in the mornings have a fear of washing, judging by the smell of them!

So whilst I’m scared of storms, scary films, heights and mice, I’m at least thankful that I don’t have a phobia which stops me living my life – well that is until I come face to face with Mickey Mouse on the Saw ride at Thorpe Park in the middle of a storm!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Happy being sad

After wiping the tear away from my cheek and turning the TV off, I’ve realised yet again that I’ve sat through another film that’s made me sad. Marley & Me – people have told me what a good film it is and how sad and I was actually relieved I got home in time today to be able to catch it on TV.

You find a film that looks like it will make you cry and I’ll be there, hear about a book that tugs at your heartstrings and I’ll have read it. A song about heartache which is perfect to sob your heart out to in a breakup, I’ve likely got it. I just love sad entertainment – particularly books and films.

What is it about said items that makes them appealing though? Why do we take pleasure in feeling upset? Does feeling down about something else make us feel better about ourselves and our own lives perhaps? Does it make us grateful for what we’ve got and those in the stories in front of us appear to be without?

Like anyone I obviously take pleasure in praise I get and all the positive feedback I’ve had on my blog is guaranteed to make me smile. However, yesterday when my Auntie shed a tear on reading my recently written short story it made me feel really proud. The fact I’d been able to produce something  that made someone feel so strongly and that it was sad too just made the praise all the more special.

Often people can’t understand this craze I’ve got for the depressingly low mood you can get in from reading people’s true stories. And my boyfriend has often commented I’m ‘sick’ for enjoying such literary pieces.

To give you an idea, a couple of my favourite reads and books I’ve read now on numerous occasions are Lucky by Alice Sebold and P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern. The first is a true story about how the talented Sebold was raped at college, what ordeal she went through and the aftermath of this catastrophic and life changing event. The latter is fictional, but follows the life of Holly whose doting husband dies of cancer at a young age and who on his death leaves letters for her to receive each month in order to help her move on with her life and survive without him. Both as you can imagine are very moving and although each time I read them I get tears in my eyes I find I can’t put them down.

It’s become a bit of a joke amongst my family that if you go shopping for books it’s clear which ones I’ll pick. It’s got a depressing title, a sad image on the front, it’s based on a true story and someone’s awful struggle in life? Then that’s likely to be one for me.

Abused as a child, hit by a partner, involved in a major incident, scarred by an event – emotionally or physically, pulled in by some sort of sect, caring for people with learning difficulties, living with some sort of disorder. All these sorts of topics would appeal – whether in written or visual format.

I do like a happy ending though, you don’t want it all to be depressing, but it’s best if it is realistic – it can’t be too happy as that’s just for the movies and soaps, right?

It’s odd, I’m quite an emotional person on the one hand, but in other circumstances I can be very good at hiding my true feelings. I can remember at school I never cried about anything and then one day I broke up with this boy I was supposedly dating (I’d met him at work experience, he lived in East London, it was kind of a rebelling against my parents relationship) and I cried, I actually cried at school and everybody was so shocked. At work there was a bit of an incident which we won’t go into details about, but all my team praised me on what a positive and brave face I held throughout.

However, you get me reading an emotional book on my own or watching a film indoors without friends, family or boyfriend present and the tears will come rolling down my cheeks. I’ve seen Blood Brothers at the theatre at least three times now and every time I see it I get tears in my eyes, in fact at one viewing I had to bite my lip to stop me full on blubbering. I’ll admit it, the other night at a Take That concert I actually had proper tears when Robbie sang Angels. What on earth??

How can you appear so hard faced and in control on the one hand and then be so completely the opposite in the next instance? Are these sad books and films helping me get more in touch with my emotions perhaps? Is this my way of getting out all those pent up feelings?

I do find as well that as I’m getting older I’m crying a lot more too. I feel like I’m going backwards and becoming more child-like! I fell over at a festival recently and really hurt myself and I ended up getting back to the tent and crying (I was over tired at this point I will add) and I burst into tears when I managed to accidentally slip up in my flat last year. What is that all about?

Anyway, whether it’s good for me or not, for now I’m not giving up the sad stuff. I’m going to keep getting teary eyed at films where dogs die, long-term partners get torn apart and young children get kidnapped or murdered (I am referring to actual films here not sick ideas in my head I feel I should add!!) I shall pick up these books where life seems so hard and there seems to be no hope in sight and I’ll enjoy them all.

Hey, life is all about ups and downs, perhaps a few tears now and then are good for you? Even if it’s just to moisten your eyes, or help wipe off the makeup when you forget to do it! Crying is natural and in a way it’s good for you, it helps relieve all the pressure. Getting down, feeling sad and shedding a few tears are there to make the smiles even bigger and the good times seem that bit brighter.