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Friends for life?

11 Nov

Tonight i found out that an old friend of mine had become a mum, and i never even knew she was pregnant. I feel absolutely gutted.

It’s not that i feel it’s my right to have known. I haven’t seen her in nearly two years. It’s just in those few words she might as well have drawn a line from here to China and said i’m here and you’re there.

Everyone has those friends, the ones you hardly ever see or speak to, but they’re special to you, and if you never saw them again that wouldn’t change it. You shared something important and that stays with you.

Every now and then something reminds you of them, and you feel a tugging in your heart. A cliche for sure, but the truth. It’s a real physical longing, a pang of regret, a feeling that something is unfair, amiss, that circumstances rather than choice have drawn you unjustly apart.

So i’ve been feeling a bit sad. Mourning a friendship that i wish i still had in exactly the same way i did when i was 16.

But then my sister said something to me today which made total sense. You mourn that friendship because you feel that you have lost it, but actually the something special you shared is always there. In the end that part of your life is still special, still cherished, even if the friendship has changed, become distant, or passed.

What’s more, just because someone’s not a part of your life in the here and now, doesn’t mean they never will be again. That’s the thing with these special friendships, they pop up again when you least expect it. And the best thing of all is that when they do, the magic is still there.

So if you’re reading this, I love you Joy. I miss you. But i’ll be waiting here for you until i’m old and grey, if you ever fancy a natter. I know for sure we’d talk for hours, and I’d laugh a lot.

Naughty Milk

19 Oct

I was having a conversation with @seasparkle_x the other night discussing, with some shame, how Aiden from X-Factor was really quite cute. Obviously the subject of age came up. I’m 33, so i was hoping to find out he was somewhere in his early to mid 20s. That seemed reasonable. Just about.

In fact he’s 18. I’m a little shocked. Shocked i’d feel even slightly attracted to someone who could be my son. Admittedly i’d have to have started pretty early (15) but feasible still.

This has come a week after admitting, on Facebook (why do i do it?) to a secret crush on Zac Effron from High School Musical fame, except i felt the need to elaborate that i no longer fancied him because “he looks a bit old now”.

When i say fancy, i don’t mean in any kind of sexual way (i never think of anyone else besides Mr Milk in that way of course). It’s like i’m 18 again with a silly teenage crush. I’m looking at this boy and i’m fantasising about how i know i would have felt at 15. Lamenting my lost youth. So i’m more saddo than cradle snatcher really.

But it’s got me to thinking, are our preferences programmed to mature as we get older? Is the natural order of things for us to fancy pre-pubescent boys before we are ourselves “awakened”, lust after 20-somethings as young adults, secretly fancy a bit on the side with greying Malcolm from Accounts, and will we find Percy a bit of a Jack-the-Lad when he’s flirting with us from across the room in the nursing home? By considering a youngster even slightly attractive, am i deviating from the norm? Going against nature?

Looking around at my friends and their husbands, tastes have definitely changed as we’ve aged. Many of the men are now hirsute and dressing more and more like Mr McGregor, my physics teacher from high school. In fact, what i would have put down to really sad taste in clothes in my teens (corduroy, brown leather shoes) i’m looking at now in wonderment at the particular nuances of offbeat fashion. And i know from the total lack of street walking attention that i’m no longer a 20-something’s object of lust, though i would hope on occassion to still being my husband’s.

But deviation from the norm obviously does happen. Boy marries mother’s friend. 18-yr old girl falls in love with 50 yr-old man. It’s not common of course. But is that because our tastes usually conform, or because we’d be too embarrassed to admit to an irresponsible crush?

If it’s the latter, am i resigned to a life of hiding my amorousness from my son’s friends? Luckily, these moments of irresponsible fantasy are rare and shortlived, I’m really pretty certain i’ll never find spotty Darren from scout camp an absolute dish, and i do have to admit to finding maturing Mr Milk much more attractive than the drunken student one.

So i think i’m safe, for now. I just better watch out for those mid-life hormonal changes. I’ve heard they can do all sorts.

Oooo I’m a lady!

11 Oct

I haven’t waxed since the summer of ’94
Don’t know my Brazilian from my French, Landing Strip from my Sphinx
Have never died my hair, rocked a fringe, perm, wave, or flick
Used face masks, exfoliaters, renewers or fillers,
Tried fake tan, spray tan, fake bake or moritz mousse
Been threaded, depilated, electrolysed or sugared
Manicured – Regular, French, Hot oil or Spa
Not prone to preening, pruning, buffing or de-muffing
Wearing falsies or lifters or soft gels or fillets
Never raunched in stockings, suspenders, bustiers, or garters
Or dazzled with bronzer, rouge, whitener or glitter.
And that my friends, is only for starters.
More Plain Jane than Fancy Nancy, more Low-mo than Fly-mo.

When i was younger, it didn’t matter so much. I always scrubbed up okay. Youth outshining laziness. But now that i’m older, more tired, stressed, sometime exasperated, often maladjusted – it’s slowly starting to show. A bit of roughness around the edges. Fine singed at the ends. Parched hands. Muffin topped.

It’s time i started learning the tricks of the trade. And fast.

third life crisis

10 Sep

I thought about becoming a teacher recently. Well what 30 something middle class woman hasn’t?

That’s after i tried the studying thing, considered freelance writing, bought a piano to revisit my musical days, investigated ballroom dancing, cookery classes and cake decorating. And of course, as you know, i was set to do the charity thing before i got fired for being unkind about fat people. (Bigots, hear me, it was about BIGOTS!)

But the teacher thing comes back every now and then, and i haven’t put it to bed yet. I was seriously put off yesterday though when a newly qualified teacher (male) told me at a kiddies party that to be a successful teacher you could never ever show any signs of weakness, and that truth be told it was best to make the kids hate and fear you.

All this about primary school teaching. Ouch.

Actually this 3rd life wobble seems amusingly common amongst us 30 somethings. We spend our third decade trying to come up with the “idea” that will see ourselves as our own boss, inspire the nation to spend their hard earned cash on getting us rich quick, sending us spirally up the ladder of social mobility and into a detached house in Surrey with a downstairs toilet and concertina patio doors.

Truth be told, most of us just don’t have the brains or the balls. The best idea we manage to come up with was patented in the 1970s or sees us as yet another cafebar casualty licking cappucino froth from our open wounds.

So we get real, resume kissing our git of a boss’s arse because we need to carry a few holiday days over, and knuckle down to the daily 9-5 grind with a hiss and a false grin.

Or we start thinking about teaching.

It only takes a year to train, and the pays not too bad. All the best reasons for becoming a teacher. So what if the kids are our future?

But them someone comes along and tells you it’s no easy road these days and you’ll have to develop nerves of steel and an iron grip.

Hmmm, maybe that idea of mine could work after all? Now all i need to do is work out how to sew some wheels onto a pair of shoes….

Can you choose to believe in something you don’t, erm, believe in?

1 Aug

Right, are you sitting down? Well-rested? You’re not hung-over are you? Good, because i’m gonna get all existentialist on you again, so it could get a bit rough. So if you can’t face it today, move on.

I always believed that people held their personal religious or spiritual beliefs either because they just instinctively believed them to be true, or they had come to their conclusions by weighing up all the alternatives, rationalising and negotiating. Either way, their faith was unwavering, unquestioned. It was just what they believed. End of.

But recently I have heard some spiritual ideas that i thought sounded really neat. That i would like to be true if i could choose my spiritual path on desire alone. Not because i believe in them one bit, but because i like the idea of them.

“You get the babies (male/female) that fit you and your family”.

“You are presented with your specific trials in life because you are are able to cope with them”.

“When we die our soul inhabits a new life that will need to learn from our knowledge to survive its own path”

In a world where nothing is known for certain, the sense that there is some kind of order really appeals to me. That things happen for a reason, have a natural resolution. I find that a very peaceful thing to contemplate.

So the question is, can you force yourself to believe in something just because it appeals to you. Things you would rather like to be true, but struggle to justify intellectually?

Wow, are you still with me? Crikey – that takes some doing on a Sunday teatime.

I’m over-elaborating a very subtle point i know.

You see I’m getting older. I have children. So i’m naturally starting to question more and more what life is about. And so part of me feels it would be quite nice to believe in something. After all, I’ve got to tell my children something when they ask, haven’t i?

Ok, i’m starting to bore myself now.

Which supplement are you?

26 Jul

I’ve always said you can tell a lot about where someone’s at in their life by the parts of Saturday’s Guardian they read (extrapolate out for other newspapers if you must).

No prizes for guessing that i currently identify with the family section most, though more recently the Gardening section has made a surprising new entry into favourite Milk reading material. A few years ago i was more Work and Money (when i worked and earnt money of course). Before that, in my twenties, The Guide. Actually i like to pretend i still am The Guide, hip and current, down with the latest music, drinking and cultural establishments. Truth is i skim to the back to read the interview with this week’s cultured celebrity. I may not go out anymore, but I can still spot a mainstream celebrity at least.

Very occasionally, if Wimbledon or the Olympics are on, Sport might get a second glance. And i suspect when the kids start school i’ll be browsing travel for holiday ideas (hopefully by that point i’ll be back and earning so i’m not obliged to purchase “The Daily Mirror – you’re no mirror to MY soul” for their Haven 2 for 1 vouchers) .

At some point in the future maybe i’ll be able to concentrate for long enough to read The Review, though i can’t quite see the day myself. But if I get to Motoring or the curious new “New York Times” supplement before i’m retired, give me a good kick up the bum and thrust a copy of Dazed magazine into my hands quick.

you’re not wearing that

3 Jun

I remember one morning circa 2003. I was looking in the mirror. I had an outfit on which, let’s be honest, looked crap. And i muttered the words “Oh well, it’s just a bit of fun”.

My heart missed a beat. What did i just say? I was horrified.

And i knew. That instant i knew. My judgement had started to turn.

I’ve never been a style icon. But i’ve scrubbed up pretty well when i’ve needed to.

At university i wore the obligatory student uniform. Trainers. Jeans. Useful for hiding sides fattened through enthusiastic beer drinking.

After university, through my early to mid 20s i pretty much dressed the same. Well that was okay, my lifestyle hadn’t changed much. And i was still young.

Then in my late 20s i started to get the wobbles a bit. Was i getting too old for trainers? tshirts with logos? But luckily pregnancy came along and saved me. I simply adopted the obligatory florals.

Then i moved into my 30s, had my second son.

Then WHAM! Brand new floppy body (ugh, Post second pregnancy body) , greying hair and the onset of wrinkles meant i had to rethink everything.

What befits a woman in her mid 30s?

You start finding yourself buying bulk from the Next catalogue (in my 20s i remember thinking who the hell shopped this way), wearing “boyfriend” jeans and sensible low heeled boots. You stop wearing sexy underwear and adopt “time of the month pants” for everyday.

And you start questioning everything.

How much cleavage should a mum of 2 decently show? Can you get away with plaits? ( i carried on in my 20s, in hindsight this was maybe unwise) How high can your shoes be without looking sluttish or suggesting early onset parkinsons? Whether you can get away with pink nail varnish, hoop earings, knee length fashion socks.

And what about your other tastes? You question whether fancying Robert Pattinson is akin to cradle snatching? Secretly lusting after Ashley from Diversity bordering on obscene. It is okay to “dig” Dizee Rascal as much as i do, and should i really be dancing to it like that?

I ask all these questions because, since i lost my judgement on that morning in 2003, i really don’t trust myself to decide anymore.

As the fantastic Belgravia wife once asked “Jeans – Muttony, or not?” I suppose the answer must be, as long as they’re not “jeggings” you’ll be alright.

Love thy neighbour

2 Jun

I live next door to a German (ex) prisoner of war. His wife died 9 years ago, and he has noone.

No family. No friends.

It’s true he’s pretty much alienated everyone in the street over the years. He doesn’t have boundaries. Is selfish and often doesn’t think.

But he has noone.

He comes by 5/6/7 times a day. I never ask him in.

He comes to drop off the Daily Express.

I don’t have the heart to tell him i’d rather pull my own teeth out then read the Daily Express. But he needs an excuse. For human contact.

And i wouldn’t begrudge him that. However inconvenient or annoying it is.

And it usually is. Very.

But he has noone.

You see, at the end, my dad was isolated.

He could be selfish, arrogant. So he lost friends. And when he was old. Deaf. Blind. He found himself very alone. So i did everything i could. I saw the hurt, the regret, and i tried to make it better.

I don’t do much. Shopping. Phonecalls. Drinks at Christmas and birthdays.

Because he has noone.

The other neighbours won’t speak to him. Incase he asks too much.

And all i can think is, his life is much harder than yours. You heartless bastards.

Don’t they look old?

5 May

How did everyone suddenly become so old?

I went through my 20s bumping into old friends and thinking “Gosh, they don’t look any different”. And they’d say the same abut me. I felt pretty smug about it actually. 10 years had gone past and i hadn’t aged a bit. hurrah!

Now we’re well into our 30s and suddenly everyone does look different. Definitely older. A few wrinkles around the eyes. A few skin tags here and there, and definitely some grey hair. Just a bit more worn.

And the men all have beards. Sometimes i catch some of my bearded friends (male only, for now anyway) out of the corner of my eye, and i think to myself “This is what my maths/physics teacher looked like when i was at school”. And now these are my friends.

I always rate myself by age compared with people i meet. “Oh, she’s definitely at least 5 years older, look at the crows feet.” or “Ah yes, she’s been around a few more blocks then me”. You get the idea.

Problem is my self concept hasn’t changed for 10 years. So i’ll often look at people and just assume they’re older than me, when in reality they’re the same age, or worse, younger. And i know people do this about me too.

And what about celebrities? Suddenly all the faces i’ve grown up with are looking old. Christ, have you seen Ant and Dec recently? They’re looking positively middle aged.

And that’s not to mention all the ones that are currently dying. Patrick Swayze. Oh The Swayze. And I don’t even want to think abut Dennis Hopper. Only yesterday he was sat in that motorhome all brave and smouldering, stoical and proud in the face of the Walken. He was the cool guy. The sexy mature guy. Now he’s the old, dying guy.

Even Marti Mcflippin Fly is 50 this year…..

And it’s all happened so fast.

No gentle weathering.

Savaged, seemingly overnight. BAM! Just like that.

It’s no wonder i’ve been grieving time now is it? I keep losing it. Can anyone tell me where the bloody hell it’s gone?

twice round the block

4 May

The first time breastfeeding, the challenge was always how to latch my son on without exposing a hint of nipple. Timing was everything. Unhook, cup down, top up a fraction, boy on. All in the blink of an eye. Any longer and i would be exposed. My modesty shattered.

Second time round, my whole breast could have been on show for all i cared – so long as my new “grandma” tummy was well tucked into my trousers. Waistband pulled up, tummy tucked in. Now unhook, cup down, top up…(get baby ready, maybe stop for a chat), baby on. If anyone was looking, who cared, i had two children to look after for goodness sake.

It’s true what they say about your stomach shrinking back more quickly after the second child (no doubt due to the agonising “after pains” you get, as if commupance for an ever so slightly shorter labour). Unfortunately the truth is, your skin doesn’t shrink back at the same rate, resulting in skin like a hippopotamus’s behind.

Tights are my new best friend. Great for tucking in an unsightly bulge. A tummy safety blanket. Big knickers AND tights, even better.

Mind you, this new skin thing isn’t confined to the tummy area. If you catch yourself while bending over to pick up some small play item from the floor you may be surprised by the texture of your decolletage. That coupled with the sight of a tummy that, without any thread of musculature, hangs there like an enormous teardrop, crying for the toned tummy it once was.

There’s nothing like a second child (or 3rd or 4th god forbid) for letting yourself go.

Turns out i was in pretty good nick after the first.

Selfishness or vanity – this is one reason why i’ve decided not to have anymore. I’m not sure my body could take it. Or at least i doubt i would much like the result.