Monthly Archives:

December 2021


SWB feels befuddled

So we’ve hit ‘Twixt-mas’, that irksome period where nothing makes much sense, after a couple of years which haven’t made much sense either. It’s not much wonder we’re feeling more discombobulated than usual.

The children serve as a pleasant distraction on one level, while ramping up the crazy on the other. The older one landed down for her lunch yesterday with bubble wrap wound tightly around her arm, fastened with a white hair bobble. It was somewhat distracting, trying to eat my leftover turkey and ham with her opposite me looking like she’d just returned from the burn’s unit of the Royal. Later it lay discarded on the carpet, looking disconcertingly like a used condom.

One wonders idly what to do with the long drizzly days. In the ‘Before Times,’ LSB and I would have been donning matching elf outfits and trainers as we zoomed down to Castlewellan for the annual Christmas Cracker Race. Eight miles over mountain trails we ran, with the air taking on various hues of blue as I puffed out expletives with every excruciating step as we neared the finish line. And yet, this never seemed out of the ordinary for me; it was a delightful antidote to the peculiarity that is endless lounging coupled with fizzing adrenalin which characterises ‘Twixt-mas’.

Since this year I have all the energy of a semi-deflated balloon, I batted away all thoughts of fell-running, and yesterday I was that person, the one still wearing their pyjamas at four pm, Googling recipes for what to make with all the Snickers languishing at the bottom of the boxes of Celebrations. I used to enjoy a Snickers, but now I find all the peanutty pieces get lodged between my molars. I did however, read almost all of a Jo Jo Moyle’s novel, while the tree lights twinkled and the warm scent of the fig and winter berry candle almost concealed the wet dog smell emanating from the snoozing greyhound beside me.

At least LSB and I have plans for tomorrow night as it’s our anniversary (11 years- wow!) so out to dinner we shall skip, and I shall divest myself of the pjs and may even don a frock.

He really is a good sort, all things considered, tholing all my neurosis, which in recent times have been many and varied. How he hasn’t sought a divorce after this omnishambles of a year I don’t know. His patience with all the animals, which I insisted on getting, has been remarkable, especially when I complain about the smell of piss that still lingers on the rug we had professionally cleaned (twice) and the cat hair which tickles my nose when we go to bed and keeps me, and thus him, awake. He walks the dog in the rain and picks up not only her poop, but other mounds of shite left by other less conscientious owners* on the street.

My increasingly obsessive recycling habits don’t seem to have struck him as bizarre. He holds the door when I come home from school burdened with cans and papers and bottles, and obligingly jumps in the blue bin to make room for all the excess. He doesn’t mind when I stop in the street to pick up cans; in fact he now keeps a plastic bag in his pocket for the purpose. I’m full of fun facts these days, chuntering on about how aluminium is infinitely recyclable. Funny how one’s goals change. We used to talk about Personal Bests, but now I say things like: ‘I got five cans between Forestside and the house!’ and he’ll comment: ‘That’s a bumper loot!’

I’m sure you must get sick of all this,’ I said to him the other night, as I stood on the Ormeau emptying half a tin of White Lightning into the gutter. ‘To have and to hold, to collect and to crush,’ was his reply. Readers, I think I got a good one.

* (or will be just call them what they are, selfish, lazy bastards.)


And just like that- we’re at Christmas and finding ways to smile

I’m back and still plenty sour, after being smited with a flu-like malaise which had me feeling as rough as a badger’s arse. I don’t know whether nasal linings are more tender from the constant blowing of nose or from shoving so many swabs up there. I remain Covid -free, and I’m starting think that it’s just karma at play as retribution for my lack of sympathy for LSB when he got his eye’s lasered at the start of December. What a pain in the backside that was, as I ran the youngsters hither and thither while he lay up there soaking his pillow through with eye secretions. I thought it was only on TV sitcoms that men lay convalescing amid mounds of crumple tissues, but apparently that happens IRL too, despite my having left the bin at his elbow for convenience. (He would like it on record that he couldn’t actually see anything, never mind the bin.)


I have thus been rendered testier than usual and I’ve found it hard to dispel the gloom. But, after a particularly long moan on the phone to the Mothership, she told me to buck up and stop being such a grouch. I have forced myself to think of a few things which have made me smile. (Trust me, the mood that I’ve been in, this required serious effort.) But I’m starting today with Sex and the City, and I’ll try and think of another few things before the week is out.

‘Sex and the City’/’And just like that’

I accept, it’s not what it was first time round, but then again, what is? ‘The Guardian’, my paper of choice, have been mighty, or even crushingly cruel about it’s relaunch.  And they probably have a point. As the acerbic Lucy Mangan witheringly noted, it was excruciating at times. But did it still warm me just a little? Indeed it did. Like old friends, I longed for a catch up with these girls, and not in a super-budget movie sort of a fashion. I wanted a dollop of real life; knowing full-well that real life by SATC standards differs greatly from my own. I went through a lot with these ladies. One winter when I was in my twenties, living in my wee two-up-two-down, I used to snuggle under a blanket and watch a two or three of episodes each evening. Felled by fatigue on the run up to Christmas, it was just what I needed. It was pure, unadulterated escapism. I don’t wear heels, never mind Manolo Blaniks, but that didn’t stop me ogling Carries collection and her impossibly slender ankles. I shed tears when Miranda proposed to Steve outside the subway or when Big showed up to woo Carrie in Paris. I thought it showcased how mercurial we can be when it comes to matters of the heart. Who didn’t want to slap the face off Burger’s moody bake, and how I fumed when The Russian manipulated Carrie out of her party with fans in a Left Bank bistro. Slimey wee weasel.

Yes, it was nonsense but nonsense with a great big New York heart. I loved it. But as with all our great loves, it can irritate the hell out of us at times. It’s irritating that Charlotte is still a total princess and even more loaded than before. Miranda can’t stop mentioning that she’s fifty-five every three seconds. Nor can Carrie- we get it, we’re getting older- enough already. Do you know what I want? I want them ordering egg white omelettes and suggesting how to stoke the fires of passion when your idea of a romantic evening has become sharing a bottle of shiraz and inhaling a bar of Tony Chocaloney in front of ‘The Sopranos’. That’s the real life I’m after, not allusions to Covid, or whether we owe it to ourselves to keep covering up the grey, or to just embrace it as Miranda has. It also feels that the modus operandi is to re-educate. I could live without the lesson on political correctness; I don’t come to SATC to discuss gender fluidity and choice of pronouns. This series seems dedicated to addressing the wrongs from the six seasons before, tackling issues it failed to adequately deal with in the past.

Do you know what though? Although it can feel heavy handed, or as The Mothership would say, uses ‘a sledge-hammer to crack a nut,’ I quite applaud the fact that there’s still room for froth and highly impractical outfits, while they have troubling and deeply uncomfortable conversations about the issues which affect us all. Grieving. Loneliness. The fact that during the pandemic we’ve half-drunk ourselves to death.

Life rattles on, even without our Samanthas and Mr Bigs, and very tragically, our Stanfords. But with good friends and the ability too keep talking, and laughing, we can still find the joy.



SWB visits the Menopause Cafe

Wordsworth wrote about daffodils; Yeats took to the pen about unrequited love, and me, I write ditties about periods.

When Anne McGale from asked if I would do a reading at the Menopause Café in First Avenue Café (formerly Boden) on the Ormeau last week, I was delighted to oblige. ‘Sure I’ll write you a poem,’ says I and churned out a few stanzas about the delights of being a woman on the cusp of the change. When I first started writing the blog, my periods were a pain in the arse so they featured heavily in my posts, (pardon the pun). Five years later, and I appear to be entering a new phase, so I might soon be talking less about the nuisance of having them, but rather NOT having them.  Changes have been afoot for a while now and as you can imagine, it’s been a riot.

On occasion I have long gaps in between, and last month it was so light that I was left wondering, was that even  a period? But sometimes, it likes to mix it up a bit. On my birthday back in June, my ovaries took umbrage at turning forty-two and as I sat in a restaurant with friends, I felt a sickening whoosh and bam, I bled right through my pants and ruined a pink silk dress. ‘Surprise!’ it seemed to say.

This prompted me to look up peri-menopause symptoms and to be honest I’m not much the wiser because annoyingly, much of what I’m experiencing goes hand in hand with stress. Anxiety, overwhelm and infrequent periods are symptoms with which I’m all too familiar, except they’ve been intensified and I feel more overwrought and incapable of coping than ever. But show me a sane person who isn’t feeling discombobulated at the moment? You’d need to be presenting with psychopathic tendencies or be living on Mars to be chipper in the midst of this global cluster fuck.

However, a couple of other symptoms have me thinking there’s more to it. I read Byddi Lee’s wonderful blogpost about her experiences, and she suffers extreme joint pain. Apparently this happens as oestrogen lubricates the joints so when it fucks off everything rubs together and causes friction. That’s my understanding of it anyway, but listen, I’m no scientist.). As well as tightness in my Achilles, I’ve also felt shooting pains in my wrists. Sometimes when I get out of bed I actually hobble to the bathroom, and feel as if I’ve run 10km the day before, until I remember I sat on my arse on the sofa and watched ‘The Sopranos’.

This is why it’s a blessing and a half that Anne has started the Menopause Cafe, to create a space where women can visit and share what they’re going through with others. It is particularly important since trying to get an appointment with your GP is almost impossible right now. With so many very real emergencies, I am loathe to be bothering them with questions about my aging ovaries; but that undermines the true dehabilitating nature of some aspects of the menopause. The government are constantly banging on about mental health and when you’re creaky and cranky and your confidence plunges, you may just need someone who is in the know and with whom you can confide.

I’m now keeping a ‘little red book’ so I can keep a record of how I’m feeling and jot down details of my waning cycle. Anne is a registered nurse and a menopause specialist, so it’s a relief when someone in the know can help you navigate this new terrain and tell you firmly that no, you’re not going mad and yes, it may be helpful to consider HRT. Anyway, if you’d like to hear the poem it’s over on my Instagram, @sourweeblog,  and do check out Anne’s page for more details if you think it would be helpful.