Thursday, 30 July 2009

About not being Menopausal AT ALL

Hormonal? Who ME? Who said? What on EARTH are you talking about? I am NOT hormonal. I am behaving PERFECTLY normally. I am not IN THE SLIGHTEST irrational and I have NO IDEA what you’re talking about.

I’m glad I’ve got that bit out of the way – because those words form part of the many repetitions of my daily mantra whilst I’m behaving in a very hormonal, incredibly abnormal and almost maniacally irrational way. And if any woman of 45-55 something years repeats similar words to those in my first paragraph then I would like to stand up right here, right now and tell you that she is (a) lying and that she is (b) very, very frightened that the person who she knows she really is, is someone almost completely unknown to her and for a goodly part of the time, not even liked by her.

So why do I persist in repeating my mantra when I know – yes, I really do know, that I am behaving like a woman possessed for a good 23 hours out of each day? What would actually be so, SO terrible in saying “Oh, look – I’m behaving like a complete loon; you need to ignore me. I have no idea why I’m doing it and if I did have an idea then I’d truly try to stop it”. Oh – and there’s another word I don’t say ... the really hard one: “Sorry”.

Is it JUST me? Am I alone in my deep, dark secret that I have no idea who I am any more, even less idea why I do the things I do or say the things I say and I’m SO full of self-doubt that my ONLY defence is attack? Or is this the malaise of the majority of ladies of a matronly age? (Did I just WRITE that?)

A matronly age? Oh, heavens – is that how I think of myself? Surely not? Or maybe I do? Maybe I do identify with the “Grumpy Old Women”. I know I have a son who I think spends far too much time telling me to calm down. That’s not right, is it? And what are the things I get so grumpy about? Oh, you name it. I can be grumpy because it’s too sunny, too dull or too rainy. I can get grumpy about being on my own so much but that’s quite often surpassed at the grumpiness I feel because I don’t have enough time on my own. I can get quite grumpy at seeming – even to myself – to have a life of complete dichotomy. I don’t KNOW why I get grumpy and I get grumpy about that, too.

I’ve said it before – in my blog and probably on Twitter, too: “Only women bleed? I DON’T THINK SO”. It’s no secret that my marriage was not made in heaven but even I have to admit that I wouldn’t want to live with me! Not right now, anyway.

If you happen to come across me, please bear with me ... I’m not doing it on purpose!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

about the New Blogger in her Family

All I really wanted to do today was stay in bed. Ha! Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

I seem, from somewhere – I know not where – to have acquired Mark II of the dreaded lurgy and am staggering around, off-balance, with earache, backache and just for good measure a throbbing headache. I think I could just about cope with one of the symptoms but all three together are just about flooring me.

Anyway, the school holidays are upon us, Josh needs occupying and OP is busy for which, of course, I am very grateful but – as he’s been pretty busy for what seems like an eternity (for which, of course, I am even more grateful), I seem to have been doing the lone parent thing for an awfully long time of late.

So, at crack of sparrow’s fart, I arose and started to make inroads into the ever-increasing pile of admin in the chamber of doom otherwise known as “my office”. Readers of my blog will know that I’ve become somewhat phobic about actually venturing into the doom chamber, so chaos would be a welcome sight on entry. The reality is that the mess in there has gone way, way beyond chaos and I have to swallow several Valium before crossing its threshold.

The Joshua was having a “lie-in” after yet another far too late a night and I thought that I could make use of the silence in the house by getting ahead with some admin without being perpetually coerced into conversations that oftentimes I don’t even begin to understand! I managed about 17 minutes in there before my darling child arrived on the scene. I am talked at and if I’m not paying attention, I am nudged until I do.

Today, Joshua had decided was HIS day for following in his mother’s footsteps and he wanted to start his own blog. In all fairness, he has worked away at it all day long and I’ve barely heard a squeak out of him – apart from being asked to check a few spellings and to look at his punctuation – neither of which, I was pleased to find, needed too much attention or correction.

I managed to get all my invoicing done and my EmoKiddy (yes, he now has his own Twitter account [very heavily monitored by me and, for obvious reasons, he is not allowed to “follow” me!] and that is his Twitter name) has thought long and hard about content and has actually written a very passable critique of one of the works of his hero, Jhonen Vasquez. And I am but SO, SO proud of him. So my 21st century boy-child is venturing ever further into the world of cyber communication and is far better at it than I could ever hope to be. And OP, needless to say, feels just a little bit more “left out” of things than he did yesterday. I can live with that!

This is a shameless bit of familial promotion. You can find Josh’s artwork on - do take the time to scroll back – even if I say so myself (and, of course, I would say so, wouldn’t I?) – there’s some very good stuff on there, if you hunt for it! You could, if you’re patient enough, follow him on Twitter – he’s @EmoKiddy and, if you’re in the mood for reading yet another blog, his is at

So, does the Redman family have the web covered? I’m sure for the time being it does – and unless by some technological miracle, OP suddenly becomes computer literate, perhaps all this “will do” for the time being?

Monday, 6 July 2009

about the iHat Application and some Curious Cures

I do SO love a barmy hat ... not to wear, you understand ... but at which to look and, often, I’m ashamed to admit, to rather cruelly snigger. The best time of year for really barmy hats is, of course, winter when I even look forward to going to the supermarket or to Winton to shop for the most mundane of items because I may spot someone wearing something on their head that will make me chuckle quite nastily for the rest of the day. My favourite type of barmy hat is of the brightly coloured variety, quite pointy – often with a bobble on the top and usually with strange string like contraptions which the wearer invariably doesn’t tie together but leaves hanging down on either side of the neck. However, there are no hard and fast rules and I’m quite happy to think snide thoughts about anything that makes the wearer appear as if they’ve been let out of an asylum as a special treat.

There are occasions in the summer when I see or hear about a head covering that will bring a smirk to my face and such has been the case very recently. A friend on Twitter, @Neets68, wrote that she had taken “the hat of badness” with her when she was fortunate enough to spend the weekend before last at the Glastonbury Festival. My virtual ears pricked up immediately and I wasn’t disappointed! Neets kindly posted a “Twitpic” of her hat and – if I’m honest, it was Stetson style and not too barmy at all, but the surreal conversations that ensued regarding its possible uses have now given it five star uber-barmy status. Neets had posted that she was listening to some music wearing her hat but that she really had some domestic chores to carry out and would therefore be removing it. The suggestion was made that the hat should remain on her head as it could be used whilst she was multi-tasking. I believe that she may have worn the hat for the whole day as it proved to have so many uses. And so was born the iHat with its many and varied quite ludicrous applications.

You can find out what they are by searching for #iHat on Twitter. I’m not entirely sure I should be advising you to do that as it may ensure you know (or perhaps confirm your existing belief) that not only do I love barmy hats but also that I’m actually quite barmy myself for being somewhat fixated with them.

Poor Neets managed to get herself quite sun-burnt at Glastonbury which not only had its mandatory share of rain but also some glorious sunshine too. She arrived home having enjoyed the delights of Bruce Springsteen, the TingTings and Tom Jones inter alia, very tired, caked in mud and in a great deal of pain from the effects of too much sun.

My past is very much “another country” and, in times gone by I’ve lived in some very hot climates indeed. I picked up a few useful tips on keeping cool (would that I could keep as cool emotionally as I’m able to physically!) and coping with such ills as sunburn. When I heard that Neets had burnt badly at Glastonbury, I contacted her and told her to cover her burnt and hurting skin in ... toothpaste! Naturally she thought that she was being advised by the founder member of the Yampy Brigade – but squirting toothpaste onto one’s hands, then mixing with cold water and smearing the mixture over burnt and blistered skin does, indeed, reduce soreness, redness and can prevent or ease blistering. She agreed to try my weird remedy ... and was relieved to discover that it worked!

I’d burnt very badly once many thousands of years ago when sailing on Long Island Sound. Fortunately, I was on board with a doctor who’d told me what to do (well ... actually he applied the magic potion for me – but that’s another story!) and although I’ve never allowed myself to get burnt as badly since then, I still use the formula if ever I need to.

As if being sunburnt, overtired and having some Stepford tasks to perform weren’t enough, Neets was also feeling too hot – as I suspect a lot of us were over the weekend which, judging by today’s weather, will no doubt have been the full extent of our summer.

I’d lived in Israel and South Africa during my years abroad and learnt that the very best way to stay cool was to take a shower with the water at the very hottest temperature one can bear – and then emerge to only pat oneself dry with a towel but allowing most of the water to evaporate by itself on one’s skin. It’s a method of staying very much cooler for considerably longer than by using the “instant fix” of a cold shower.

So, Neets tried that too ... and it worked! I don’t believe she thinks I’m quite as much of a nutter as first she thought! Well, at least not in the area of strange remedies, anyway!

I wonder if anyone else knows of any weird and wonderful ways of keeping cool or making hurty things better? I should imagine that we could save ourselves a fortune by using homespun cures!

Friday, 3 July 2009

about being A FAILURE

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece entitled "The Shaving Tackle Box" which was inspired by a picture that had been posted on The Elephant Words burst culture website. I posted the article on my blog and was OVERWHELMED by the response it received. The lovely people who read my blog regularly and a lot of virtual Twitter friends sent many comments to me - both to the Blog and via Twitter - saying how moved they'd been by the article. One of the comments I received was from the friendly journos at The Bournemouth Echo who told me that I really should enter the competition that was being held to find a new columnist. The criteria for entry into the competition was that the article had to be between 450 and 600 words and one could write about "anything" - so I did.

The competition closed on 1st June and from Monday to Thursday this week, the Echo has published runners' up entries. I was not amongst the runners up. Today the Echo has posted the winning entry. I am not the winner. You can read the runners' up entries and the winning article here: Bournemouth Echo Columnists.

So I am a failure! But just in case you'd care to see what a failing article looks like, this is what I wrote:


What is different about this piece of writing from anything else I’ve ever written in previous years?

Nothing really, because prior to embarking upon anything I write, I deliberate and worry, fret, write, re-write and fret again. I count the words and have come to the conclusion from counting very many words that the length of article I am happiest with and write most easily is between 750 and 800 words and I find it very hard to edit down.

So there IS a difference. This piece of writing must be between 450 and 600 words because if it is longer perhaps the Bournemouth Echo won’t read it. Or, if they do read it, a large red pen may strike out all words that come after the 600th. And that would be dreadful because that might mean that my entry into the paper’s competition to find a new correspondent might be void or disqualified.

Now that would never do. How awful would it be for me to screw up the opportunity of perhaps winning a competition which would allow me to be who I actually am?

I have always been a writer – but have only recently dared to start thinking of myself as one – let alone calling myself one, but I have always been one. Even at a very young age, I was the kid whose Mum didn’t have to nag her to write thank you notes after birthdays and Christmas. I would write lengthy tomes describing my glee at having received a hand-knitted cardigan from my Grandma (she had no reason to know that it had been placed in an out of reach cupboard and would never be worn), or expressing my severe disappointment that my second cousin had not been able (thank heavens) to attend my birthday party but who had sent me a truly vile set of handkerchiefs with her card. Words just flowed from my pen onto the paper – sometimes I wouldn’t even know how they got there. So I have always been a writer.

And these days, what is it actually that I do that’s so very different? Nothing really. I’m still writing letters ... perhaps not to individuals and maybe not to say thank you for anything – but letters to a wider and unseen audience are what I send when I hit the “publish” key on my blog or the “reply” key on Twitter. And the pressing of those two buttons is a two-edged sword. It brings with it a huge sense of freedom that I can say exactly what I want to say (and with that a great sense of gratitude that I live in a country where I still can say what I want to say – because so many people in the world can’t). I also have a huge sense of trepidation because what I am saying is right out there – straight away – in the public domain for anyone to read – and for anyone to comment upon. And, oh – that is just SO frightening. But it’s what I do and who I am.

Now there is the opportunity – however slim – that a newspaper may read what I have to say and choose me to make my lifelong dream a reality. (Only a few more words in which to convince you that I AM your new correspondent). I need to tell you something memorable, don’t I? I not only believe that you would be making the right choice in selecting me, but please also consider that I am very hungry and would greatly appreciate having lunch with your Editor. Thank you. [600 words].

Thursday, 2 July 2009

... about NOTHING AT ALL

It’s been a while. I’ve really felt that I’ve had absolutely nothing of interest to say and was once given some very useful advice: “If you haven’t got anything to write about – DON’T WRITE”! But the itch has started ... it usually does ... and now I feel compelled to ignore that good advice and at least tap something out and at the moment, that “something” is about nothing at all!

My last blog was highly personal, difficult to write and painful for me to read. I received many heartening comments about it but have now deleted it – not because the subject matter no longer holds true ... it does ... but because there’s simply nothing to be achieved by re-reading something that hurts so much. And I don’t need there to be written evidence of what’s already in my head.

I’m in a much more positive frame of mind regarding this post – without any justifiable reason at all ... I’m just feeling happier!

Wimbledon, the season of Pimms and strawberries is upon us – it even looks possible that Murray could get to the final.

Old Peculiar’s away for nine whole days. He went off to Europe leaving me not only with some precious space and much needed room to breathe but also with copious instructions about when to put the sprinkler on in the garden, dead-heading certain plants and throwing a few slug pellets around the marigolds. Of course, having been certain that it would rain today, I’ve already let him down – AGAIN! I can live with that.

The Joshua doesn’t care or even notice whether I vacuum or not. I’m reading a couple of excellent books and the weather’s good. It’s too hot to do any ironing and anyway I’ve nearly finished yesterday's crossword and I've completed both Sudokus.

Josh and I are both too hot to eat anything substantial, so I don’t have to cook and we’re going to have sandwiches followed by a great deal of ice cream. What’s not to write about?

Is there anything else I should be telling you? No – not really. NOT TODAY!