Bad Year Gone Good


Bad Year GoIMG_7482ne Good

Last year at this time, things were good. Life was running smoothly. Then a week later this time last year life began to plummet . Sept. 30th my youngest son and I set off to Dublin as he was doing a photo shoot for Aer Lingus. It was fun. He was great. We met some lovely people from our agency. I met a man called Fergal( not as in met a man). Love that name.It was one of those experiences that could have been dull as we were in an airport for 24 hrs but it was fun. We flew back and once we landed everything began to unravel. The cat died. There were some health scares. Some surgery. Death in the family. Bullying. I’m not making light of any of these situations by the way. They are all part of the patchwork of the quilt of despair I seemed to be sewing .Throughout the year I stumbled(literally), was kicked while I was down(figuratively). But I am proudly a Weeble. I wobble but I don’t fall down. I am programmed to just keep going even though I felt like crawling into a hole and crying while watching Beaches.
I had some good bookings that were definitely tonic for the soul. I did, however put them to the back of my mind once the shoots were done as I have learned that some shoots never come to fruition for various reasons. Of course as I’m a sensitive an actor I assume it is all my fault.Woe. The campaign is delayed. You can’t actually see yourself in anything despite being in front of a camera for 12 hrs. I took them for what they were. Had a lot of fun. Met some geniuses along the way. I digress.
We had a fun summer in Canada so I thought finally, life is cutting itself out from a new cloth. But nooooooo.
Cue August. The kids and I all went for a family casting then we were going to the park to play football. We were a picture of a little photo shoot family. All match matchy, exchanging warm smiles and giggles through a soft filter with moving music as the score to our day played in a perfect circle of fifths. ( well not quite).After the casting we would then be the ‘little frolic in the park family.’There must be a German compound word for both of these familial dynamics. The reality was I was in fact one of those mums who falls over a disabled ramp and breaks her foot so we became that crazy loud family in A and E with the glares from people asking why that woman doesn’t have anyone looking after her 3 small kids while she waits 4 hours for an x-ray and plaster.
I was a broken woman. I had no change for the snack machine. The A and E desk guy suggested I walk to the Costa at reception. *insert swear*off A and E man. Hello, broken foot, Costa is a 10 min walk if both your feet work. So we are bored, decaffeinated hungry, poor, I’m in pain, my phone battery is dying and the kids father was not picking up his phone, He’s a pianist so that is not uncommon. I was silently railing and cursing like King Lear crossed with Michael Douglas Falling Down. My foot, My soul. My everything. I’m hungry. We’re all hungry.
I finally get home, with my new cast and 3 hungry kids in a taxi. How will I tend to my flock? How will I clean. I cant’ get them to and from school.Two of then have birthdays coming up. Countless lessons that need a chauffeur. Arse. Arse Arse. Oh and let’s add some drama from our flats as I am the freehold director……. once again -arse.
My friends were my village that helped to raise my children during those 6 weeks. I love them. All of them. Among my silent cries were loud cries. Boredom,ennui, desperation. I must mention there was and still is other tricky ‘stuff’ that was adding to this state of mind but I’m not going to venture into that pot of despair just yet.I only mention it so you don’t think I was only pitying myself because I couldn’t carry a latte with crutches or that I would have to forgo John Lewis for a t least a month.
This was mixed with countless “Oh the irony, you tripped on a disabled ramp. haha-great material for your stand up. Oh you got a cast after a casting haha” Shut up. All of you. It is no longer funny. I am experiencing despair.
Then one day, the ‘things will get better moment ‘happened. I was sitting on my sofa crying from pain/boredom/ennui/BILLINGTONS-packs-web11despair/ while simultaneously torturing myself looking at the Spotlight jobs I knew I could have got (well might have stood a chance of getting an audition) if I could actually leave the house. I was missing the thrill I got when my mobile rang and I could see if was form one of my agents (I know -agents. Not one but two). I lamented. Then it happened. I received a text form a friend with a photo attachment that read this you ?’ It was me. My face. My face was on a bag of Billington’s caster sugar. One of the shoots I did in June came to fruition and there I was on a bag of caster sugar. The shoot itself was such an inspiring day as I was fortunate enough to be photographed by my new favourite genius Seamus Ryan. An utter joy to work with and so much fun.
First the sugar bag then my face popped up in a Sainsbury’s magazine. Then as if things weren’t getting better it was in Grazia. Right next to the horoscopes. I could hardly breathe from excitement, .At first thought it was asthma then perhaps a panic attack. But no. It was pure and utter euphoric breathlessness and not the sex kind. I had thought my career had peaked at the Rentokil safety video, when I had to pretend I had rats and wood rot.Or the time I did the conga with Kevin Bacon in the EE adverts. Just as I was catching my breathe realised my face was everywhere .Well everywhere at Earl’s court for the Cake and Bake show which I couldn’t get too with a broken foot. There were giant versions of my face. Medium versions. Me .My face. Eating cake. My face on a Zoe Paterson Cake. Sniff . I reflected on my life .This Canadian prairie gal born on a cold snowy mid Feb morning has hit the big times. I was known for my baking in Uni and not academic achievements btw So this was big.
Almost a year to the date my life began to unravel it gradually started to mend bookended with lovely Irish connections.My nan was Irish so maybe she had some thing to do with it all. My life, well It is still fraying, I will admit that .Who would have thought though that a bag of sugar would have saved my soul. All because I have great agents and a charming( genius ) Irish photographer liked the way I looked with cake and a cheeky grin on my face. So here you have it. If life gives you lemons make a drizzle cake with Billington’s caster sugar…and hang out with some Irish people if you can.

by  Courtney Cornfield


Diary of a Mother Actor (Mactor)-The Casting



Lights, camera…oh crap I can’t find a babysitter.

This is often how my daydreams come to a grinding halt. Inspired by reality, as a mummy to three and an actor even when I visualise success, my own world pops the dream. My reality is not a bad reality by any means. In fact, I consider myself rather fortunate. However, my chosen career path does have its obstacles as most of them do but I am here to tell you about mine.

Having kids and working be it part time or full time is always a juggle. Having kids and working full time as a mummy is always a juggle as well. So throw in a career that is last minute, involves castings that are unpaid though childcare must be paid, combined with a husband who has an almost equally unpredictable schedule you get a healthy number of obstacles. The best part of obstacles though, is learning how to jump higher than them, run around them or know when to accept that some you simply cannot overcome.

My agents are lovely. They put me forward for jobs and when I get a casting, these can be anywhere from 3 a week 1 a week or 1 a month. Either way, the casting details are usually emailed the day before. The majority of them are in London and inevitably I will need childcare in some form. First reaction is ‘woo-hoo a casting’ followed by ‘arrrg what if I can’t find childcare’ Then my impatience grips me as I stand waiting for the childminder to text back her answer. I fret. I mean really, isn’t-2 mins far too long to have to wait for an answer? This is my career, my life my….*thought/rant interrupted by affirmative text stating childcare is possible’*. Relief sets in; I call my agents and say I can go. I read the casting brief, prepare my outfit and finally breathe. The next day, once the kids are safely at school I get ready and make my way to the station. The train is peaceful. My coffee is uninterrupted and Grazia is my reading material of choice. Not very advanced I know but it doesn’t add extra strain to my already overloaded brain. The commute to the casting is one of the biggest perks to my job. A 30min journey on a train during off peak hours all by myself. I don’t need to worry about finding room on the carriage with space for buggies nor do I need to growl and snarl at the people who ignore me and continue to sit in the flappy seats while I stand with my buggy ‘accidently’ running over their toes.

At the casting I get the usual nerves, compare myself to the other actors in the room, realise we are all doing the same thing, smile say good luck. There was one time when a young model said how she was at a loss because she only had the one casting that day and had nothing else to do. She felt unproductive and it was a bit of a waste coming in to town for just the one. The other mummies in the room all had a communal gasp and looked at one another in solidarity. For we all knew, that this casting wasn’t just a casting, it wasn’t just a chance to show the casting director our talents for potential paid work. It was also our little escape from the house, a break, a chance to wear make-up, have a coffee that didn’t get cold or that didn’t involve a competitive coffee morning. Read a book or e-hem Grazia. They were sacred. A moment of silence. All hail the casting.

The casting comes and goes. On the way home I ruminate about the casting as most actors do. Some don’t’. I admire them. My rumination tends to go something like this; Did I blink during my ident? Did my eyes cross? Was I believable in my dismay at burnt toast? Then my mummy reality hits and it is “arrg I’m running late. Child care has just rolled over into another hr. I’m stuck on a bus and need to get food for dinner before picking them up but now I am out of time.

I mentioned obstacles earlier. Here they are. Sometimes, I can’t find child care so I have to bring my 4yr old with me and hope I friend can collect my older two from school. If this isn’t’ possible I need to see if I can negotiate the casting time so it finishes in time for me to get back to do the school run but also with enough time for me to collect my 4yr old from morning  nursery.  He also models so he is used the casting studio and he is so lively I don’t ‘have time for nerves. The nerves can shift from I hope I get the booking to I hope they don’t’ run late so I can collect my kids on time. However, I know this sound selfish, but this means Spider man comics take the place of Grazia, the coffee will be cold and most often spilled, and the planned attack on people sitting in the flappy seats must be organised for my buggy, my son and his Trunkie full of dinosaurs.

One time I had a casting in Kent. It was being held in a conference room at a hotel and one this day I had one child off school with a non- life threatening illness and the other didn’t have nursery that day. I rang my agents in a panic and they soothed my nerves by reassuring me the kids could come with me.

Flash forward to casting. In the room is the casting director, some other people another actor playing my husband, the  kids and me. We are asked to improvise a normal morning before work. The scene ends in a kiss goodbye, well a peck really. The kids gasp. Panic sets in. They will return home and that night tell daddy of how mummy took us to a hotel, a man kissed her and we were told he was just an actor. The therapy bills for the kids are already adding up.

Reading this you might think but why do it? Why not work at John Lewis and do am-dram in the evening? I could do this but I don’t’. I love what I do. I enjoy castings and the spontaneous nature of my job means I don’t’ get bored or feel trapped at home. I can choose my schedule as well. If it is a hectic week I can block out days with my agents. A few shoot days can be equal to a few months of other work so I can concentrate get my work days over the course of a few days. As deranged as it sounds, I hope the kids can see that you can work and be a mum without missing out on their lives very much at all.  If you love something that involves hard work, keep doing it as you will find a way to make it work. If you can’t it is okay to step back. (I m not the sole income earner which makes a huge difference as well I must add) As hard as it is because in the blink of an eye another chance can crop up. One of the kids said the other day ’Mum can you go into to London soon and have your picture taken so we can go to the child minder? She has cool toys.’ I think the kids are cool with it all  When I do get a booking it is all worth it though this sets the wheels in motion again with the same stress of can I find a childminder, what if the kids are sick on shoot day, will I pay more in child care than I earn …..




My Butt, My Muffin top and Me


_MG_0160I recently read that more retailers such as Debenhams are stepping away from the super thin super model to promote clothing for super normal super average women. It is about time. The average measurements for British Women according to Size UK are as follows: bust  38.5cm waist 34.0 cm hips  40.5 cm weight  143.5lbs  . According to the table     50 %of us are normal with %12 underweight. Hmmm wow, now I am not a statistician but it would seem that the minority in most fashion catalogues  are representing the majority.   I have no problem when I see super models at fashion week on the catwalk nor in high end magazines. To me this an art form and I don’t’ think  the average population of women would feel cheated that we can’t fit into a Channel suit to carry out day to day chores, go to work, do the school run.Unless of course you are on CSI then you most certainly  need to wear a white Chanel suit to a crime scene but this is a different matter. What does bother me is when you have very underweight, and by underweight I don’t’ mean lovely naturally thin or healthy small structured women. What  I refer to are those women who look malnourished or who have had an airbrush diet  in order to model clothes that the average UK women is suppose to buy. Or who have been pressure to starve themselves to get work marketing clothing (for women who eat)  might like to wear.The Gap, for example have incredibly thin models that look so unhealthy I want to take them home and feed them a hearty meal. Not fatten them up as I am not suggesting we  promote obesity simply emphasize the average size while promoting diversity. Why does every model have to be the same size? Perhaps it is a cost saving thing to pay 1 model to shoot for a day rather then 10 different shapes. And yes fatter models do tend to use more fabric, maybe eat more out of the expense allowance.I am a plus size model (plus in modeling refers to size 12 and above). If you are plus or petite you get shoved in your own special section together. Then the ‘normal’  sizes get showcased

Boden is another company that has had me campaigning  for more realistic  models. Campaigning might be a bit of a stretch-really I’ve just left comments their Facebook page. ..and a photo of me.I am a size 16 and have a Boden wrap dress. I love it and yes I think I look lovely in it. Of course my tummy who I have named dunlop isn’t flat, and my butt could moonlight as a sofa cushion but I like my butt. My tummy does get on my nerves from time to time but then I remember I have had some gorgeous kids who used to live in  there. As my 8yr old daughter said’you tummy is an everlasting souvenir of the lives you have created’ (my daughter is Lisa Simpson) Boden clothing appeals to a lot of mummies I know. Some of these mummies are thin, some fat, some average some short some tall some with small tummies some with big tummies. You get my point. My mum loves Boden and she is 72. However all of the models in the Boden catalogue are a size 6 or 8, flat tummies and perfect bodies. They are all under 30 yet are marketing clothes to women like me. The size range is from 6-22 . So why not showcase how the range of styles and diversity of design can flatter a plethora   of figures? I, as well as many of my friends -such an empirically valid subject calculation- feel annoyed  when we flip through  the catalogue. We look at it, ooh and aaah over the gorgeous clothes then recycle it. Why? I think you know why.If not refer to paragraph 1. We know that if a size 6 model is wearing  something it won’t fit over most of our left thighs let alone entire body. Are we that repulsive being normal? Ageing normally? Being busy people who don’t’ have time to work out 7 days a week? No we are not . The other irritant in this matters that Boden’s current add campaign  seems to be all about cakes and sweet things. So next to a skinny size dress you will see some doughnuts or a cupcake. Um so what the message is, is that cakes are fun , small sizes are normal and the two go hand in hand? The colours might be from the same palette -I get it. icing on cupcakes, pastel dresses.

I would love to see the Gap or Boden produce a catalogue that shows how  certain styles work with certain figures   . Some of us have had life take it’s toll on our tummies due to life growing inside said tummies. Who knows one day we may open   the catalogue and see a size 12, 14 or 16 model in an outfit we would never dreamed would look good on us. We might even buy it instead of recycling the catalogue on our way to Debenhams.

Right better get of my soap box before it breaks form all the weight!

A Wolf in Cheap Clothing

A Wolf in Cheap Clothing

With trepidation I watched an episode of the American interpretation of Søren Sveistrup’s   ‘The Killing’ or ‘Forbrydelsen’. My fears were realised; it was as though someone had replaced Cadbury Whole nut with carob.

As one would expect, the American actors were all on the high-end of good looking as there seems to be an underlying objection to having anyone look normal on television ;secondly high levels of  emotions. Lund expresses no emotions –her character is stoic and almost detached from reality as she becomes consumed by the Nana Birk Larsen murder investigation. The strongest trigger for my anger was the jumper-that sweater. The jumper which optimiser’s Sarah Lund’s character was such a bastardisation of the true Faeroe island icon I felt like I was suddenly being transported from a Scandinavian wool shop to pound stretcher,  selling knock offs in synthetic material.

Sophie Gårbol has said in interviews about her character and how the sweater came to represent Lund; it was a symbol of Lund’s asexuality combined with nostalgia from her hippie childhood in 1970’ s Denmark. Gårbol had input into her character’s creation which enabled the jumper to evolve into an icon of Lund. She is not a female detective who falls into traditional detective stereotypes for she neither sports a well tailored power suit nor does she wear channel suits and Louboutons to a messy crime scene, a la CSI. Gårbol expressed her desire not to fall into female detective stereotypes and she succeeded with her jumper and detached approach to people. She doesn’t thank her mother for allowing her to stay nor would she lovingly gaze at he sleeping son. Linden would and has done- the opposite is true of Lund.

So why I ask would the American director not take into account the importance of the jumper?  I reference Goethe,

‘A man’s name is not like a mantle which merely hangs about him, and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting garment, which, like the skin, has grown over and over him, at which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself.”
Well, in the this case Lund wears her jumper as her skin in this case, the jumper being her skin which without it she is not Lund-each woolly fibre intricately weaving her character. You get my point by now I am sure.

For the American Linden, she wears it as a mere piece of clothing-one that can be taken off and put in the laundry bin without a second thought. Why then, did the American creators, not find an item of clothing in the US that symbolises the asexuality of Lund and represents the 70’s hippie feel of America. Maybe it is a turtle neck and Doc martens but by donning such a weak version of that jumper does the show a big disservice. In Britain, the jumper practically has its own twitter account. Her jumper comes in two colours each a reversible version of the other and it has platelets -after being stabbed it magically healed itself. It would be like re creating the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and re branding her as the Girl with the Tattoo, like Super Man with a really small ‘s’, Sherlock Holmes with a ball cap and fag, Annie with brown hair. Again, point taken I assume.

I have no doubt that there are critics who feel the same about translated film/tv series that I have enjoyed without having experience the original first hand-I digress and realise any diluted version I have watched would anger anyone who has viewed said piece in the original language/territory. On the topic of Nordic noir, I didn’t much care for Kenneth Brannagh in the English version of Wallander despite being a fan of the actor himself.  I prefer watching in Swedish with the dreary Swedish landscape. Wallander in English is portrayed in a much sunnier Sweden. Just simply driving a Volvo and having a Swedish name isn’t enough to be Kurt Wallander. Just as wearing patterned jumper is not enough to morph into the character of Sarah Lund. I shant be watching.

Downton Abbey Comedy Song-last season


Sing to theme of Downtown by Petula Clark


When you’re an heir cause the others all died

You can always go, Downton

If you’re a lawyer and considered low class

It helps to come into , Downton

Just listen to the bells ring from the basement and the scullery

Linger thru the garden where the lads are shooting fowl

How can you lose?

The chicks are much richer there

You can  forget all your hang ups, be used as an heir

Downton, people will like you now

Downton, no faker place I’m sure

Downton, everyone’s using you


Don’t wait around, for a bird to decide

If you can marry her, Downton

Maybe you know,

what her little plan is

she will trap you now, Downton

Just listen to the des-per-ate people ‘bout the manor

You’ll be lending servants because yours are just as dower

Cooking again



You may find, the people there are   mocking and piss taking

Your mothers hates them all but you fancy some love making

A desperate fool

What if the babes a boy?


Some Comedy Songs


Bit dated now but in context when he was in prison it was appropriate-sing to YMCA


Strauss Kahn, there’s no need to feel down, I said Strauss Khan pick your clothes of the ground, I said Strauss Kahn cause your new in the cell, there’s no need for lawyers now

Strauss Kahn there’s no place you can go, I said, Strauss Kahn, when your bail hearing said no, you can stay here, your no use you will find, in Riker ‘s all banged up

It fun to be the head I-M-F

Its fun to be the head I-M-F

They have everything for inmates to enjoy, you can reap all the prison joys

It fun to be the head I-M-F

Its fun to be the head I-M-F

You can get yourself canned, you can make a sly deal, you’ll have to do whatever you told


Strauss -Kahn, are you listening to me, I said Strauss-Kahn you know that you’re guilty

I said Strauss -Kahn, you can stuff all your money but you’ve go to make a plea

No man, does it without legal help

I said Strauss -Kahn, keep your cock to yourself

And wave goodbye to the IMF

I’m sure you won’t get paid

It’s fun to be the head I-M-F

It’s fun to be the head I-M-F

They have everything for inmates to enjoy, you can reap all the prison joys

How Improvising Prepared me for Parenting


 How my Improvising Training helped my Parenting.elianna ans mummy

At first, the name Keith Jonhstone  isn’t directly associated, or even indirectly, with child rearing methodologies. In fact, he has nothing to do with child care ideologies at all-he is the grand poobah of Improvisation, Theatrepsorts™, Masks

So why the misleading title you ask? Well it begins like this. In the 1990’s I spent most of my free time at the Loose Moose Theatre, starting out as all wee Moosers do, as a front of house volunteer. Taking every opportunity to  participate in the 6 o’clock improve class lead by Dennis, Keith or another senior member and eventually being chosen  to play the 10min game, Free Improv, The Danish Game and the  ultimate dream-  Second Half.

An improviser learns two very basic but crucial lessons when starting out as an improviser that will form the foundation of every scene you do-much like the basic plié in ballet, or handstand in gymnastics. ‘Don’t be prepared and always say yes’. Well, already that is pretty much how I got pregnant in the first place.

So after saying yes and not being prepared  9 months later we welcomed our first Elianna to the world. You may shriek at the idea of not being prepared for a baby’s arrival wondering what I did for the 9 months leading up to her birth but when I refer to ‘don’t be prepared’ I mean mentally. All tangible items relating to and pertaining to babies are a must for readiness. Mentally, accept that whatever you have visualised or rehearse in your head will be of little use once the baby is in your life. You must always have snacks, nappies, changes of clothes, wipes, dummies, (soothers)gin(?) …….

I soon learned to stop thinking’ but the book says, they didn’t’ explain this in antenatal classes.’ For example, I had no idea that a night feed would involve so much strategy, stealth like manoeuvres and the above mentioned strategies require adapting at any given feed. I read that the baby wakes in the night, you change the baby, feed, burp the baby, baby goes back to sleep and repeat in about 3-4hrs. I was not prepared for’ baby wakes, mummy changes baby, baby feeds, falls asleep goes back to bed for 15min wakes up poos, gets changed wants more food, feeds falls asleep, poos then is awake for 3-4 hrs. Now I could have said ‘but this isn’t what the manual says, I didn’t prepare for this routine’. But as in improviser I thought’ accept the babies offer’ and advance the narrative even though you wanted the scene to end with mummy in bed asleep after a 45min change feed, sleep scenario.

Similar mind set required for next vignette. When my two youngest (boys 2yrs apart) are both woken up to collect their sister from school, they both scream and cry. I think’ this shouldn’t’ be’, they should be happy to see their sister and only the baby should be crying not the toddler. I wanted to join in with the crying but instead I though no, this is the narrative they are offering to me for this afternoon scene so I will accept it (*note this is not the same as accepting bad behaviour). So I take a breath and conduct the boys cry choir instead.

Now status is a big feature of improv and we learn to recognise and play high status or low status characters . By status, we mean how we feel the world perceives us therefore a politician may act low status which is demonstrated thru awkward body movements, looking at the ground, sitting on as little of seat as possible. A high status character could be a politician but might also b e a homeless man who acts high status by holding his head up high, broad open shoulders, takes up as much room on the chair as possible. Toddlers and babies are extremely high status which can be daunting if you think about it; they are small, vulnerable and need you total care of their every need. However, they still cry if the milk isn’t satisfactory, scream if you put them down for a nap when in fact they are hungry and will say no when they please without justification. You wold think a tiny person who relies on us to make sure their essential need are met would be a bit more humble and low status. So, I felt I was able to respond to this behaviour by accepting the baby’s offers again, and doing as the baby asks, apologising if it goes wrong. With a toddler, the status transition must occur. The once high status baby must now lower itself to accept my offers of’ go to bed, eat, potty and don’t’ hit’. It is tough for both mother and baby to suddenly rail against the demands that were once catered to with a coo and a cuddle. A baby who refuses a feed would be told ‘oooh whose not hungry?’ But a toddler/older child who  claiming not to be hungry will hear the following’ eat or you’ll starve until breakfast.’ No cooing at all.

Gibberish is often a game played by babies and toddler s and trying to understand the unintelligible is a skill all parents must have. Even if you say what you think they want and it is wrong, this okay because often the attempt at dialogue can amuse both mother and child. The mother is often  better at deciphering gibberish so she usually gives translation for the father or any other visitor left confused.

With gibberish, you can employ stage directions whereby the offstage improvisers provide the stage directions for the on stage performers (who can speak in English or gibberish). This, I found very helpful to guide the new dad(and even the experienced father). For example, the father might say ‘oh the baby is crying’ and the mum will say’ he said going and picking up the baby, changing the nappy and bringing the mum some wine’. Or the baby might babble, and the mum will say’ the baby said going to BED.’ Speaking of partners, the game of answering with a question is somewhat prevalent. Note the following example: a dad asking a new mum ‘how are you feeling?’ The mum will more than likely reply ‘how do you THINK I am feeling?’ The dad might reply ‘why are you so cranky’ to which the mum will say ‘why don’t you try giving birth then you can answer your own question’.

When you go out on an excursion you think  it will be one that the  babies/kids will cherish forever, look back and feel that  the outing shaped who I am today. You feel warm inside(not do to a leaky nappy+baby on knee) think wow I am going to be like the family in the commercial, the book the posh London parenting magazine; except this usually doesn’t happen. So, once again, you can’t be prepared you can’t assume the day will go as mentioned above. Go with a full bag of snacks, clothes nappies, Raffi tunes and a clear mind. So many outings have ended 10 min after arrival with leaked nappies, unruly kids, toddlers asleep at the zoo then screaming as they wake up in the car wondering when we will get to see some animals. Trips to embrace nature end in wet feet, vomit etc. LEGOLAND can be magical until the queue is to long, the kids get tired and want to leave after an hour. I sound negative but I am not; this is the reality but by no means should you ever not plan activities.  If you are not prepared you will accept  that there is no plan on how they/you will  react and take the day as it comes. Some days are magical and couldn’t’ have gone better, often the impromptu days out. And even if they day ends abruptly for whatever reason, the experience has still been beneficial…for the kids.

So to you, the art of improvisation and in particular The Loose Moose Theatre, I thank you for allowing me to accept what happens and not to be hung up on how I wanted and should react to life as a parent. It is okay to say no to your kids but mentally say yes in a way that you accept the opposition as part of the package of life as a parent. And …..scene. lights out..exit stage left pursued by a mama bear .


loose moose

Et Tous caesar(ean sections)


There has been much twittering on twitter as of late around the stigma attached to c sections and the psychological impact a c section can have on some new mums. Why this is even an issue, I am not sure but is it a result of lack of briefing by antenatal class teachers, or is it that innate competitiveness we all have that can surface hypercharge in the world of motherhood.

For me, having had three c sections was not a choice of how it would look, or how I would feel in terms of a successful giver of birth, it was a matter of saving  my first born’s life, and mine and being grateful we didn’t both become a sad statistic. The second was an non life threatening emergency, though it was classified as an emergency purely because I had gone into labour before my elective date and once again wasn’t dilating-much to the dismay of one of the midwives implying it was my fault somehow. Yes, it is me, I am not visualising 10cm enough, I didn’t will myself enough so I could have a section.  He was not of a woman born weighing a whomping 9lbs 14oz at 37 weeks-bless him for coming early. After all the tutting that I was experience pain when I shouldn’t be as I ‘wasn’t in labour due to lack of dilation’ I was told he would most likely not have come out natural. Huh I though smugly but was limited to expressive dancing as was numb from neck down and vomiting at the same time. Both from anesthetic. My third was an elective, I made it to 38 wk+3 -I was more than happy with this as I was frightened of a uterine scar rupture though deemed rare, we had been that unfortunate rare statistic in 2006 when out 2 baby was born sleeping as a result of a large cystic hygroma and fetal hydrops. So, 1-2,000 or 1-4 to me where very close statistically speaking in my colourful emotional world that is my brain.

I embrace medical evolution and feel I am a lucky woman to live in a part of the world where mother and baby have access to life saving medical experts. I never quite understood the VBAC brigade(vaginal birth after caesarean) though I don’t’ want to disrespect them in the way I don’t’ like being viewed as a failure for failing to dilate. Maybe it is the negative terms obstetrics use ‘failure to progress, incompetent cervix, they make you feel really like a worthless labouring mother and that it is somehow your fault. Back to VBAC, if I was less stressed, less anxious and hadn’t lost a baby in the past then maybe I would have embraced VBAC more. Having said that I feel at peace with having had MacBeth style delivery yet there is a longing curiosity to experience giving birth on the M road rather than opting for the A rd. To push, have midwives cheering you on, then having your baby placed on you and everyone saying well done you are a mum. Then, being able to eat and move after. Though in reality, I know may mums felt dazed overwhelmed and  a bit   gooey after. And of course, many women experience terrible deliveries and would have gladly had a c-section had they know.

So why do other women judge how our babies were born? Isn’t it a case of seeing the healthy baby that is all that matters? I have lovely friends who accept all our babies were delivered differently and all that matters is that we all have our babies then  kids to play with one another. There are some women though who feel the need to drone on about how hard their labour was, how they didn’t’ have any pain relief and the ante is up as I replay my birthing experience. If my 2nd was 9lbs 14 then hers was 10lbs 14 delivered in a park with only bark to chew on for pain relief. That is your choice great, but not for me and I don’t’ want to compete with other mums to see who will win the title ‘My labour was the most selfless, natural best birth but most painful ever therefore I am a better mum than you.’ I think if you can labour and not feel you need pain relief and deliver at home naturally or in the midwife lead unit then I do feel slightly jealous but some of us couldn’t choose that if we wanted to. If you’ re in a lot of pain but feel pressure not to have pain relief this is tragic as no women should feel she will be less of a mum if she opts for pain relief. You wouldn’t ask to have a tooth extracted without pain relief so be gentle on yourself.

Kirstie Allsopp had been tweeting about how many women felt they were not prepared for a c section as the procedure was taboo at some NCT and NHS antenatal classes. Some mums were shunned following the deliveries if they had had a  c section. Others were given loads of information on both c sections and v…v… I hate that word so will say the 1st choice of route. Whatever the motivation for the lack of information it is unacceptable and all forms of delivery should be embraced. Like I said before, I feel fortunate to have been in a place that enabled me to have a life saving operation to get my little baby girl out safely but did wonder after it I was entitled to using the term give birth. Did I give birth if I didn’t get to shout the maternity wing down screaming and cursing my husband? But yes, I did give birth-exit wounds were different but  I did give birth. Some feel that it is isn’t natural to have a baby in an operating theatre or that women in 3rd world countries deliver in the bushes all the time. This is a  weak argument. Many women in 3rd world countries die or their babies die because of a lack of access to advanced fetal care and would give anything to be able to have a clean, delivery room and the choice of pain relief or the option of a c-section if labour gets dangerous. It isn’t’ natural, but nature goofs up sometimes and nature isn’t always right . Natural disasters are nature but devastating.

There is a Facebook group who are so venomously opposed to c sections they have nothing better to do than post acidic tales about sections and how Drs are so knife happy. One even posted a picture of a mangled up apple with the seeds out that read ‘at least the baby was bon safe’ well yes, this is true. Luckily my scar looks very neat and almost like a little, well big smile. If my tummy had been left with hideous scars, I wouldn’t care,(slightly irked). What I care about is hearing a baby cry upon arrival. My tummy looks like a train wreck anyway with its unrelenting saggy spare tyre and wrinkle dog expression. Yes, I have to admit, it doesn’t thrill me and yes I do wish I could be one of those women who have  a flat postnatal tummy but I am not and if I didn’t feel self conscious about my tummy it would be something else. However the saggy tummy issue is unrelated to the c sections; it is due to macrocosmic babies and polyhydramios.

So, to conclude, all parents should be briefed(and big briefs they will be if pg)on c sections and  all delivery routes. No women should ever judge how another woman has delivered her baby-it is right for her and her choice or rather medical necessity. At the end of the day we are mothers and there isn’t an award for best mother in a delivery role nor will your baby be more privilege or have access to better schools based on his/her delivery. It is about baby and mother safety Hug your baby(ies) and accept that we all have different bodies therefore no 2 deliveries are the same. Let the c sections be and let the mums who progress nicely be.

Pushy mum or Encouraging Mum/Cool Mum or Lazy Mum

Pushy mum or Encouraging Mum/Cool Mum or Lazy Mum

I have reached a point in my life as a mummy, where I am starting to imagine which path my eldest is likely to go down in her own life. Though she is only 6, I can see her aptitude for Gymnastics increasing, her love of maths cultivating and her dislike of all day art days at school as it isn’t following our normal schedule’. She is very unlike me in most of the above and seems to crave more gymnastics as the discipline of the sport appeals to her.She tells me how she would like to compete but whether or not she has any idea of what is involved if one chooses to pursue competitive gymnastics( not that I do)I have the struggle of how to encourage this without being pushy or how do I relate when I am not competitive at all? I also get hives if the discipline is too firm leaving little time to day dream about purple overstuffed brocade armchairs.
I say ‘but just have fun’ She says ‘but winning is fun’ . If I dont’ encourage this sporty need to win side, am I being to artsy and laid back, projecting my fear of strict regimented anything onto her ? Or, if I encourage the competitive sporty attributes how far do I go? If she is tired do I let her stay home from gymnastics or do I say’ no, you are going the best don’t stay home watching Peppa Pig?’
Trying to ge an answer from some gym clubs is tricky as they can label you as the pushy mum rather than encouraging mum or the plain ol confused what do I do with my flexible springy child mum.So , I choose to encourage her like school, say it is okay to want to win but don’t do mean things to people in order to win and tell her that we can find things we love difficult. It is okay.Isn’t it? I think it must be
It makes me sad when i read about a gold medalist or a successful actress, singer, Dr etc who is miserable with her success as she only worked herself to exhaustion to please her parents. Did they know this at the time or did they think “we only did what was best”. Some mums do push their kids for their own glory and I wont’ mention ‘Tantrums and Tiaras’ as this is a disturbing, extreme example.
Then you hear the tale of woe from the dissatisfied with life gal who suffers from unrecognised creative genius symdrome.She spends most of her days in a job she does to live but hates it. She feels she didn’t give her dream her all and therefore sits in a cubical wondering how different my life might be if only my parents had pushed me harder.
If we push too hard and they end up on drugs resenting the world or we dont’ push enough and all their hard earning go to therapy trying to work through angst due to un pursued dreams. Whatever the action what ever the outcome, is it always going to be our fault.? I want to be able to look at my daughter hear her say ‘I am happy thanks to you’

Is there an answer, can we get it right? when to we launch full on encouraging and how do we as mums know when to hold em and when to fold em?And not just laundry, strictly speaking.

For now, I will be thankful my biggest dilemma and choice to make is what to cook for dinner. I will worry about my future career and hers later.