Rubber

Rubber

Leaving home for University is an interesting time.  I took it reasonably seriously. And I was hopeful. I decided to go on the pill.  Clearly, being a new grown up, I needed to act responsibly. At some point I was bound to get lucky. I dutifully registered with the University medical centre, made my appointment and presented myself at the appropriate date and time. Never having used ‘proper’ contraception, I had no idea what to expect.  In fact, it was only whilst sitting in the waiting room that I began to imagine my consultation.  Would the doctor ask difficult questions?  Perhaps she might consider me too young.  Or ineligible on the grounds that I didn’t have a boyfriend and wasn’t in a serious relationship. Would she want to examine...

Anorexia – the skeleton in the family cupboard

Anorexia – the skeleton in the family cupboard

I am not a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist but I have a unique experience of eating disorders – my little sister, Pip, suffered anorexia from the age of eleven until four days before her 40th birthday when she died weighing 4st10lbs.  In his final report, the pathologist said that her vital organs were no bigger than those of a twelve year old.  He’d never seen anything like it. Over the years I have read everything I can about the affliction in a fruitless search for help.  Where I wanted solutions and answers, I got symptoms and conjecture. There was absolutely nothing in the way of practical help or advice. Being told that an anorexic’s main motivation is a desire to ‘take control’ is no comfort when they’re out of control.  Similarly, the...

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

To most of you, this is the sort of thing you get for or from a granny, bought hastily from a dusty chemist on a parade of forgotten shops. To me, this is a poignant and deeply sentimental gift. It was given to me on Mothers Day by my mum, three weeks before she died. Her last and parting gesture. The fact that she had walked to the parade when she barely had any strength left is her greatest triumph. The gift is merely witness to the act. The accompanying card read, “From one Mum to another.” It was my first Mother’s Day. I’ve dutifully kept this box for seventeen years. Yes I’m sure the lotion will have seen better days, but the soap still shouts its fragrance quite robustly. “Wild Rose” it’s called. I assume...

RIP El Tel

RIP El Tel

We’ve had a dearth of death these last few weeks.  Bowie, Rickman, Glen Frey…now Sir Terry. And whilst death is a fact that we all accept – particularly as we ripen and mature as humans – I can’t help but feel a deep dark sorrow for our collective loss. I didn’t have a particular affection for Terry Wogan.  Unlike Bowie and Rickman, he doesn’t rank in my Top Ten Men.  But I did have a great fondness for him. I grew up with Terry Wogan.  He was the constant presence in the car during our morning trips to school. My father took us on his way to work in Birmingham.  Radio 2 was his preference, not mine.  As the driver, however, my father over ruled the tastes of his two daughter passengers – so we were subjected to a...

Funeral for a friend

Funeral for a friend

I went to a friend’s funeral today. I was at school with her. Louise was the girl we all wanted to be – tall, blonde, leggy, clever. And incredibly kind and thoughtful. A beautiful person outside and in. But she was already not of this world.  She circulated in a different stratosphere that twinkled and shone. Unlike the rest of us, mesmerised by Donny Osmond and David Cassidy, she had her sights firmly set on Richard. A stock broker, fifteen years older than us, he seemed an old man living in a middle aged world. We told her she was crazy.  He’d never notice a sixteen year old. She married him on her 21st Birthday.  Their son was born six years later.  But she was widowed at 31, Richard suffering an hereditary and congenital illness. Everyone...

Crimes against celebrity

Crimes against celebrity

My crime against celebrity dates back to Tuesday July 4th 1978 when I was sixteen, recovering from the traumas of O levels at school in Birmingham. To celebrate my new freedom, my elder brother invited me to accompany him to the gig of a band I’d never heard of at the local Barbarella’s nightclub. He said that the band were new and had an album coming out that he thought was pretty good. Barbarella’s had a reputation as a somewhat exotic venue and having only ever attended concerts at the nearby Odeon, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. Being sixteen though, I knew I needed to dress up for the occasion as it was indeed a nightclub, I’d never been to a nightclub before and I knew I needed to look older than my age. Sadly a cheesecloth shirt and...

David Bowie

David Bowie

Let’s scroll back in time to early 1983 where I am twenty one, in my final year at London University and holding a Saturday job at a small, exclusive bridal and ball gown shop on the Fulham Road to help make ends meet. It’s late February and for once I am unusually early for work. Graham the boss has yet to arrive, so I am standing on the doorstep, looking out down the peacefully quiet, deserted road. A man turns the corner. Even though he is a long way off, I can tell that this is no ordinary man. He is a vision – with a shock of perfectly platinum blonde hair and a very expensive, long navy coat. Even at this distance I can tell that the coat is superlative because of the way it hangs and flows around him as he walks, almost in slow motion...