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An ordinary day…

Kathryn died today.

The world lost a light.

Sleep well Dory, we love you. xxx


Special wishes for birthday fishes

It’s Dory’s birthday.

It’s Kath’s birthday and I’m so very sad. And so very angry.

I know someone she loves will help her blow out the candles, and I know, without ever needing to ask, what the ‘secret’ wish will be. Same as mine, my friend, same as mine.

Maybe if we all wish hard enough?

There are no more Chemo drugs snaking through Kath’s veins; the poison that was killing cancer cells in her liver, shrinking that which would rob us of her, changed allegiance and, instead of being fearful friend, became feared foe. Her voice is a croak, the insidious secondary lung tumours growing, and attacking, and changing … and hastening.

And so I shopped.

Birthday cards. I’ve been known to spend hours, days even, in pursuit of cards that the recipient receives, noticing straight away, the message. Not the one Hallmark inscribed, no. The one in the picture: the reference to a time, place, or situation that’s personal to us; sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, hopefully always appreciated. Have you ever tried buying a birthday card for a friend (who’s a Mum, sister, wife, daughter, Aunty, niece, daughter in law …) who’s just had to stop chemotherapy for the cancer that every bloody day comes closer to snatching her away from those who love her? I hope you haven’t, I hope you never do, because those cutesie words they write about ‘being another year older’, ‘looking good’, ‘partying hard’? Barbs, all of them, sticking in my ear, my eye, my brain, my soul, my heart with their cheery surety of a future not yet lived. I held, and discarded, hundreds of well meaning, and unknowingly emotionally devastating, cards before taking the coward’s route: I chose the one with butterflies. The one without imagination, which simply said, ‘happy birthday’ inside. The one that, aside from Dory liking butterflies, said nothing at all about us. The last birthday card I’ll ever buy her if they’re right. And there it is again: the rage.

In the coward’s card I wrote : ‘happy birthday Dory, have a lovely day, I love you xx.’

Not because I’m a coward.

Because I’m not ready to write, ‘goodbye’.

I don’t think Kath is either.

Is anyone ever ready?


The things you think you know

Well this finds me writing, in bed still, after what can only fairly be described as an ‘epic night out’. If our night out was a movie it would have been in 3D, surround sound and described as ‘from the golden age of nights out’! The Coven went a-rockin’ and boy we did it good. Rebecca had a birthday, fun was to be had.

The girls went to town: Rebecca (birthday girl); Tamar (newly single, sort of, the process has begun as has her new life, she’s happy, we’re glad); Sian (has a new fella, he’s sweet, she’s not in love but he may be, at least she’s not still hankering after her ex); Dumbo (honorary girl, a big fella with a bigger heart, we love the gentle giant lots); Bim & Allypoos (burlesque girls, off out clubbing so didn’t stay all night with us- über glam and fierce) and me.

The Coven was overjoyed to have all the founding members in tow and Dory was in fine form. Not like she used to be, a night out with her ALWAYS involved flashing her gorgeous boobs (in restaurant windows, phone booths and, on one memorable occasion, against a police car window……) but those days are gone, as is her left boob. I’ve said before that cancer has taught us all a new language, that remains true but in the week that will see a CT visit akin to a crystal ball reading, I learned some more of Dory’s reality.

Dory knows that the next, and only time, she’ll have hair again will be when she, or a doctor, decides that there’s no point in any more chemo – until then it’s once a week, for forever. Her forever, which is different than yours or mine, thank God. So she’s not having to worry about shaving her legs, or armpits, or doing her bikini line but remember it’s a bald head, and no eyebrows, or eyelashes in that Faustian pact too. No eyelashes. That’s a weird one, it’s the lack of eyelashes that screams into your subconscious’ ear, ‘that looks weird, why does it look weird, oh – no eyelashes, humans need eyelashes or they look odd’ and all you can hope for is that your subconscious pays enough attention to tell your face not to make an expression that can be seen, and read, by the person you’re scrutinising so closely. Dory can’t feel her feet anymore. The veins just don’t carry enough blood anymore to allow sensation, which was helpful this week when a nurse couldn’t get a line in anywhere for her blood transfusion, so had to use a vein in the foot. Her feet which don’t have toenails anymore. At least they match her poor swollen hands, which are permanently without nails now and always will be.

Don’t picture anything horrific please; she’s beautiful and last night she absolutely shone with the bright light of life streaming out of her. She tossed back shots, glugged prosecco, danced with our entourage (a rugby team don’t you know!) and smiled all damn night long. Memories made and stored up for when we need to draw on the light they contain, to shine a little into the darkness we know is ahead.

Funny how the words ‘before I die’ have become part of our conversation, funny that we don’t flinch, or cry, anymore when their ugliness invades our space. Sometimes raging against the dying of the light is simply having a bloody good girls’ night out so that the ever present Grim Reaper spies your determination to live, and backs off just a bit.

That’s our secret, The Coven’s power: we rage, we roar, we fight, we laugh. We live. We bloody well love, and love bloody well.

Groundhog Day (or, ‘I love my parents but…..’)

Well it’s nearly that time again, the back to school time! Where did this summer go I wonder? Actually I know where it went, it had a call of duty and I answered. So forevermore this summer will be known as ‘the one where the parents stayed, for a long time!’ And I do love my parents. But……

I could justify it by saying we’re used to having our teeny house to ourselves. Or that we’re too independent in our lives and lifestyles. Or that we like doing our own thing. But…….

They drove me crazy, I mean proper muttering as I walked around the house crazy. Is it compulsory, when you’ve retired to a small enclave abroad, to come back so picky and grumpy? Or is it them? I know this much, I’m now glad I’ll be working into my 60s/70s because if that’s the alternative? No thank you! Maybe I’m being harsh but it seems they’ve literally, overnight, chosen to be OLD, and they’re not. 65 & 64 is not old, at least I don’t think so. And their intolerance is set to maximum, they’re anti every minority and it actually hurt me to hear their opinions aired in my house, that they’re that judgemental about everything and everyone. There’s no joy in their hearts is my conclusion and that saddens me.

It’s made me remember that you have to cultivate joy, if something makes you smile, celebrate it openly so people can see, because happiness is infectious and Pollyanna was right when she looked for it in every bad situation. We should always be gladful. So I’ve decided that, the crazy stuff aside: I’m gladful my Dad’s new heart gizmo is working; that although Mum’s sight isn’t great, it’s still there; that it was sunny and warm this year through the summer; that I can find the joy.

I hope everyone else finds some too. xxx

Must be spring time again……

Yes it must be Springtime again: the garden looks pretty (& needs mowing, urgh!), I’ve had a pedicure and almost inevitably my thoughts turn, reluctantly, to the D word. That’s D for dating. So I pick up the trusty iPad and flick though the screens until there they are, the dreaded online dating site icons.

Online dating. It even sounds ‘icky’ doesn’t it? A tad grubby and something that’s whispered with a grimace if people ask, just before they do THAT smile. You know the one, the head tilt (‘Friends’ had that episode spot on!) and a half smile infused with eau de sympathy. I detest that smile. It makes me shrink. I am sure people do meet the old fashioned way: through work, friends, hobbies or just in passing, but it seems more and more unusual to hear it happening…….at my age. And there’s the rub, I KNOW I’m forty (41 in a few days actually, so my offspring remind me) and I’m a responsible single mum who works hard, pays the bills, sorts the garden, changes the tyres etc. etc. BUT, whether as a result of being a 20 year old bride followed by a 21 & 24 year old Mum, I have a lot of younger friends and a young outlook about my social life too.

So I meet young men, nice guys, and they sometimes ask me out. But, pretty as they are, they’re not for me and I just don’t meet older, more mature but still FUN men. So online dating, or rather, perusing, it is and I still don’t like it much. I wonder why that is? I was reading a book this morning and it had a line in it about online dating: “why are you embarrassed about using online dating? Everything is online these days and people tap at their keyboards for anything they want without getting embarrassed. I mean, we have book shops but people still order books from Amazon without blushing”. I think that’s true so, armed with the quote floating around my head, I perused for an hour. My criteria is pretty tight I have to say but that’s fine, I’m allowed to be fussy, hell I EARNED being this fussy. So appalling grammar in profiles rules someone out, as does smoking and only being separated rather than truly free to date. Oh and here’s another deal breaker: contacting me on my dating profile when you’ve known me since we were sixteen and when I know your wife, a wife you’ve only just left.

What the hell is wrong with men? This has made me angry and sad, does this man think that because I’m single I’m desperate? I’m not, I’m happy with my life. Looking for someone to spend time with isn’t something I intermittently do because there’s anything missing, it’s something I do because my full life may be something someone would like to share. And that’s only the sprinkles, not the icing, on my cake.

So I will look the silly man in the eye when I next see him, and IF he’s astute enough – if his ego allows – he may just detect the pity I have for his sad and desperate attempt to bathe in my personal sunlight. His wife may just have had a lucky escape!

I think I’ll leave the perusal for another time too, it’s just too depressing. I’m not looking for perfect, just perfect for me!

Chinks in the chainmail

Friends will be friends til the end. Freddie Mercury said it, or sang it, so it must be true, right? The sepia tone footage is running as the montage to this post: Bette Midler is singing the soul shattering theme tune. The end reel of footage of friends growing up together: learning, laughing , loving , living ……. leaving?

Friendships are like relationships I always thought: you get out what you put in – end result equals effort made. Or not. So here you go friends…….

I know it feels ‘wrong’.
I know I’m being left out of arrangements & fun times.
I don’t get replies to messages left/texts sent.

I just ‘know’.

It’s not paranoia: social networks are all to ready to say what human voice won’t. Checkins, tags, wall posts …..blah, blah, blah. All signposts to a destination that’s already in the SatNav.

But I’m lonely. There you go, the scary words. I’m so happy alone, honestly, I embrace the solitude when it comes because I can fill it. After years of raising my girls alone I relish time for me: for books, exploration, silence, relaxation and peace. But oh, lonely is different: it means more, and less. It’s not romance I crave or even company – more the contact – but does that scream, ‘notice me?’ I’m not sure. For a Taurean who is happy in control, at the centre, at the helm: shouting out of loneliness and for it to be noticed smacks of desperation. I’m not desperate. That’s why the word ‘lonely’ stings? It says, shouts, desperate. I’m not. I’m just sick of the invisibility that being the ‘kind one’ brings.

Why not be ‘kind’ to me?

Why not ask me what I’m doing with 2 weeks off?

Is it because I’m never ‘needy’? Maybe my self sufficiency has turned on me!

Or maybe life is changing, again. New phases sometimes dictate new people……. not because of me but because of their reaction to good old MC doing stuff for herself.

They ‘tease’ you see, a lot. It’s not meant unkindly but it pecks away at me a little more each time, when I mention it, that I don’t really like the nicknames or teasing, I paint a target on me. It’s easy to hit.

Just because someone is loud, the centre of attention, clever, funny etc doesn’t mean they’re wearing chainmail.

Careful where you aim those barbs people, there are always chinks!

Soulmates and hairy ones ….

Remind me, or as no-one reads this apart from the gorgeous blonde in the US, I’LL remind myself to tell the Rebecca story.

Rebecca, as an introduction, is part of The Coven but she’s so much more too. Everyone should have a Rebecca in their lives. Quite simply I love her, Bridget Jones’ style: JUST THE WAY SHE IS.

Hmmmmmm, that’s not true actually : I would change ONE thing about her – I’d make her realise how amazing she is!

So, I’m going to think about how I’ll write about her because I need to do her justice!

My BFF, my soulmate, my sister in my heart, my sounding board, my ICE contact, my anchor …….

Imperfectly perfect woman.

my friend.



A Kath by an other name …… Or, don’t be confused by Dory

Did I make her sound like a saint? I hope not. Terribly non PC I know but if stubbornness prolongs life for anyone it’ll be her.

I have an image of her funeral in my head: when the eulogies are coming thick & fast, will I be able to stop myself standing and yelling “she was the stroppiest, bossiest,most judgemental, snippiest, intolerant, opinionated woman I ever knew”

But I love Dory – cos we don’t call her Kath anymore: she gave birth at 39 and lost her memory, or so it seemed. So Dory she became.

A Kath by any other name

Been a while …… Life changed again

The Coven.

a weird name and I can’t remember who coined it first nevertheless it stuck and my girlfriends & I became The Coven. There’s a firm core of three of us, like the witches from Macbeth (Hubble bubble) or Roald Dahl’s wonderful tale for children (scary!) but others have become just as strong in our Coven then some have been invited in, or have gatecrashed! The core, the trinity, though was me, Rebecca and Kath.

But, as I said, a weird name for three women who’d describe themselves as Mums probably. I, the one who had kids early; Rebecca who had to work harder, and spend more, to create her babies and Kath who had one at the same time as Becky, got divorced, remarried to a toyboy Marine and had another 3 years ago. Then there’s Tamar who loves Becky like a sister and quite likes me too: Supermum of 3 clever boys and Naomi, no kids but a fab Auntie (she’s Becky’s little sis) – businesswoman extraordinaire in a man’s world.

The Coven : ordinary women, Mums, Aunties, sisters, daughters but mostly mates approaching middle age

Except we’re not all appraching middle age, not anymore not after Wednesday. Or maybe it was Boxing Day or Jan 10th or Nov 30th. We dont know what date started this epilogue but there’s another date approaching too damn fast, faster than mine & Rebecca’s middle age: the date Kath will die.

She did it all right: aggressive chemo, radiotherapy, a drug trial, a mastectomy – all these things meant that in November she arrived at the pub, ordered a fizzy water (she gave up alcohol along with processed foods to better fight the cancer) and announced with jubilation that she was cancer free.

Breast cancer 0 The Coven 1.

We danced and sang: it was Karaoke night and ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ has never sounded better, never will!

Were they already growing then? The tumours that have invaded her lungs and liver? As we celebrated with human smugness, were the harbingers of doom already rejoicing at our downfall?

treatable not curable.

She could have a decade we said.
Science is amazing we said.
All that research we said.
She’s a fighter we said.
We won’t LET her die we said.

One day it’ll be goodbye we said. And we are RAGING.

Her family, always claustrophobic in their love have closed ranks, her husband, the marine remember, cant cope because he cant fix it and this week she told her daughter. She’s 12.

A year ago Kath didn’t care about her hair falling out, no eyebrows, steroid bloating, chopping a breast off, the chemo etc. her only worry? Not seeing her girls get married. They’re 12 & 3. She probably won’t see them married. How do we know? Research on the old information superhighway. Need green sparkly shoes? Google! A cheap city break? Google! New hairstyle ideas? Google! Google is great, your friend. Except when it can tell you what the prognosis is for liver & lung secondary cancer after non responsive triple negative breast cancer. Hey at least we are learning a new language eh?

Here are words that are wrong in any language : my friend is going to die.



Being a grown up…

well today I met up with my friend who had ‘ words ‘ with me last week. I pretty much think that’s the definition of adulthood. I’m a strong & opinionated woman and so are most of my friends, so we can be bloody stroppy with each other and deal with it. She is counting down to having her breast removed (yes that’s right I fell out with someone who has cancer, which may make me a very horrible person OR as I feel, a very honest person) and is shit scared now, I’m relieved she can finally admit this to her friends as we have felt very outside of what’s going on.  We know it’s not about us but it’s hard to support someone, or to know how to support them, if you never see them!  Anyway it’s 14th for her op. Scary. 

We had a nice gossipy catch up and I hope I was some help to her if help is listening and empathising with what will always be a crappy situation.  

Lunch was nice, went to Le Bateau (just for a change!) …. had nice pink roast lamb with lots of still crunchy veggies. Resisted the lovely wine list (liver has taken a bashing this week!)  andwater fizzy water. Which does NOT explain the banging headache I have to say.

Busy week ahead : out Tuesday with the old Thursday morning Costa gang, Thursday is the Arts Festival at school then the pub for a sing song then Friday is end of term shenanigans. New school though, not sure about shenanigans with a new crowd! Lol.

Then there is the wedding invite to consider? Emma & Rich have kindly invited me to their evening reception but it’s ages away (geographically). Need to suss out who’s going  really!

Then there’s Batman …….That’s really a ‘dot dot dot’ situation for sure. Watch this space.