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A milestone I wish I could sidestep

2 Feb

Today is not a day I wanted to see again. 2nd February 2011 and I heard those words for the first time “Strongly suspected lung cancer”. A precise yet misleading jumble of words only superceded in its devastation by the final field on a form flashed up on screen at the doctor’s surgery a week later:

<header> Prognosis=

<body copy> 6-12 months.

Of course there was to be nothing as munificent as a whole year.

And so the rollercoaster began. The concrete cancer diagnosis, the tests that confirmed its spread to the liver. The terrifying fits and subsequent brain scans that showed further metastisis. Radiotherapy. Chemotherapy.

And then 10 weeks later, the end.

So it’s a year to the day my sister rang to tell me the routine scan bore shadows.

And with those words I remember she took my voice.  Leaning against the glass of my patio doors for support, silent, the breath sucked right out of me. Curious physiology.

Powdering my nose & sticking two fingers up to feminism

19 Jan

I’m In the Powder Room today talking about the differences between girls and boys. I’m still a bit uncomfortable about using the word “piss” and wish I’d gone for “urinate”; I was obviously a little urinated off about clearing up the typical boy mess again that day.


2012: Why I don’t feel like celebrating.

31 Dec

Don’t much feel like welcoming in a New Year – 2012 – a year my mother never saw.

All change and every first is tinged with enormous sadness now. I turn around, bursting to share my news, to feel and share and experience together.

It’s just not the same.

But I WILL try and embrace that difference. There is going to be an awful lot of it this year.

Love to all for the year ahead.


The Lovely Bones: the film and me

21 Dec

image courtesy of

Christmas is rushing at me at a hundred miles an hour I hardly have time to breathe, let alone think. Except people keep reminding me of the significance. Telling me how sorry they are, how difficult it must be, how much I must miss her. Somewhere below the surface I sense the gaping hole, but I am being carried along by the momentum of childhood.

And thank God for that ceaseless wave of agitation that rolls up and down but is never one way for long.

I watched The Lovely Bones for the second time the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. How dark and menacing the world can be, but how beautiful things can come out of that tragedy. New relationships can form, old ones strengthen, your focus crystallised on life’s brief flashes of wonderment.

You can’t keep looking backwards with regret and loss, you must look to the future and allow yourself to be swept along in the tide of life.

I’m not sure if that IS what the film was about, but it’s what I took from it. A sense of magic, mystery, hope sparking free amongst the ashes.

Yes Christmas will be difficult this year, I miss my mum every day with an aching that never dissipates and I am still incredulous as to how I got here and just how much I’ve lost.

But living in the here and now, treasuring the precious moments with my family and especially my beautiful boys – well, I have my own lovely bones right here.

Three children and too much information

14 Dec

As most of you will know I have 3 children. Well I have 2 children that I gave birth to, but a few years ago I acquired a third – a 92 yr old neighbour called Walter who has variously called me fat, told me I have bad breath and asked me whether I wanted his (dead) wife’s open pack of stockings.

Walter is a German ex prisoner-of-war who has no family or friends in this country, and who has, over the years, alienated the rest of our neighbourhood. Apparently they don’t take too kindly to being asked whether they are pregnant again or just fat, and are not buttered up by a half eaten packet of eclairs.

On the other hand, we’ve become really rather fond of Walter over the years; however, we definitely have a love/hate relationship. Having someone knock on the glass partition of your adjoining porch doors 7 times a day to get your attention would rattle even the world’s most patient person.  But we do try and do our best for him, which in reality is rather a lot. Doing his shopping, taking phone calls, arranging appointments, doing his weekly lottery, putting his socks on, taking his measurements for new underwear.  I’ve drawn the line at cleaning his house and washing his feet but not much else has really come between us.

A few weeks ago I walked in on him having a wee in the washing machine. Neither he nor I batted an eyelid. Apparently the past 5 years have foistered an intimacy and understanding that is not shattered by the sight of a 92 yr old penis.

In any case, my children got their own back on me tonight. Finally sitting down on the toilet with the paper and some peace and quiet I hear the familiar bang bang on the glass partition door. “Leave it” I shout downstairs as I hear my eldest turn the handle and slowly open the front door. “Walter” he shouts really loudly (Walter is also profoundly deaf) “Walter” he screams, just incase the rest of the neighbourhood hasn’t heard,”you’ll have to knock back later, mummy’s on the toilet doing a poo”.

To be honest, I wasn’t even too bothered. Apparently we’re well passed any embarrassment over MY bodily functions as well.

Moving on: Just don’t think about the sex

13 Dec

I said good bye to my family home last week. I always thought I’d meet the people who bought the house, but it just didn’t happen. Time passed and the decision went unmade. Would they want to meet us? Become part of our story? And then it was simply too late to ask.

And so we left the bottle of wine and the card and our sad hearts on the mantelpiece and closed the door for the last time.


A gay couple, that’s all we know.

We didn’t meet them, but that didn’t stop us inventing a really flamboyant back story.  One that would have delighted my mother.  Exquisite taste, a passion for fine wine, classical music and art, prone to flounging about in velvet dressing gowns holding enamel cigarette holders and puff puffing away as they tittle and tattle about the awkward cadences of Mussorgsky.

I can see them now, lounging about in the piano room, gesticulating wildly as they carelessly spill gin and tonic onto the authentic persian rug.  Happy, amused, carefree.

Of course they could be Dale Winton’s brash younger cousins for all I know.

But I like to believe all these things, because they comfort me.

Except for the goings on in the bedroom. My mum enjoyed the company of homosexuals but I know she didn’t like to think too much about the bum sex.

I hope she’s covering her eyes.

In the Powder Room: Pole dancing for tots: What’s the big deal?

8 Dec

Luckily I have to submit my posts weeks in advance, or there’d be a big fat blank space on In the Powder Room today. This past week has been difficult to say the least.

High time for some light relief then. Or do you think I’m missing the point on this one?

In the Powder Room: When good husbands go bad

1 Dec

I’m In the Powder Room Today talking about how I lucked out with Mr Milk.

Apart from that, things will be a bit silent for a while as I say goodbye to my family home.


the long face of celebrity: SJP and those horse pics

21 Nov

I got told to get over myself the other day.

It all started with a tweet. A tweet about a website this person had sent out as “the funniest thing (they’d) seen in a long time”. It was your usual web fare –  a mash up of Sarah Jessica Parker and various horses, a chance to expound her equine similarities.

My issue wasn’t that these mashups were, frankly, rubbish, but that I just found the whole thing, well, a little bit mean.

What if SJP was your sister, daughter, friend – would you still laugh? Maybe you’re having the same reaction as my fellow tweeter did – “Lighten up Milk, it’s just a bit of fun!”. But is it really okay?

Of course, the “Is she fair game simply because she’s in the public eye?” debate is nothing new, but is this kind of behaviour becoming even more normalised in a virtual world where it is easy to make and distribute this stuff and where anything goes as long as it’s funny? Does this easy, laissex-faire medium turn all of us Guardian-reading liberals into digital Bernard Mannings?

I’ve done it. I’ve giggled at the lesbians that look like Justin Bieber or Female celebrities that look like men, so I’m not sure why it took SJP to make me stop and reconsider.

Maybe I am taking it too seriously but I do wonder what it teaches our society about how we should treat people? That it’s okay to criticise, take the mickey, guffaw at another person if they’re in the public eye, and especially if the medium is an intangible, virtual one? That you can rip the piss out of someone, anyone as long as it’s typed on Facebook and not said out loud in the playground?

Thankfully I’m well into my 30s now, my heat-buying-days are over,  and I honestly don’t care whether Cheryl cole is suffering from premenstrual zits or Claudia Winkleman has forgotten to wax her tash (made up, don’t sue).  So shouldn’t us Tricenerians be setting the bar for the younger ones and reminding them that while it may be attractive comedy fodder, not everything goes?

I think i’ll stick to Cats that look like Hitler and Vegetables that look like penises. It’s what the Internet does best but without the laughing at someone’s expense.

ITPR today: When Mickey met Minnie (well, almost)

17 Nov

What would you say to your son if he’d been asking the girls to show him their bits?

Come and find out what I think at In the Powder Room today.