Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Review of the Year - Things I have learnt

Stop fannying about with cheap and/or old crusty make up. Use a Bobbi Brown foundation brush to apply Bobbi Brown foundation over Bobbi Brown concealer. I am a 39 year old working mother functioning on too little sleep and too many lattes. Trust me, this makes you look human.

Ironing is not necessary. Not remotely. Maybe work shirts but that is absolutely it. No-one really judges you for being a tad rumpled every now and then.

Playing with your children means letting them make the rules not imposing your own, despite the fact that they are ruining another game of hungry hippos by outrageous cheating. In all seriousness I give a big thank you to the lovely friend (and lurking reader of this blog!) for buying me this book containing the above and other very helpful advice when I was despairing over my sons behaviour at times.

Blogging is good for the soul, but getting bogged down in stats, numbers of comments and followers is not good for mine.

All the recession related talk about not buying frivolous fashion and just saving up for one or two quality investment pieces is bullshit. Would you rather have one fancy schmancy £300.00 dry clean only dress or 30 bung ‘em in the washing machine pieces from H&M? Me too.

When your child is misbehaving, shouting and screaming at them vents your frustration but does not tend to improve matters. I need to stop shouting as much.

Try hard to find the positive in life. For example a recent four day bout of tonsillitis caused me misery and pain, but also had two bonuses:

1) Not eating as much means you lose weight. My work clothes are fitting better than before Xmas, so in a nod to a healthy lifestyle I have now resolved to replace my usual morning latte with a nice green tea instead. That's as far as it goes though.
2) Being physically unable to shout and scream meant I had to use alternative parenting techniques, such as three warnings then a time out. Surprisingly this actually worked quite well and I wasn’t immediately filled with self-loathing afterwards. Genius!

Say yes to more stuff. Make a bit of effort to do things and see people, and hard though it is to force yourself off the sofa of an evening, it is usually worthwhile.

Be kind to yourself. If there is one wonderful thing to be taken from the parent blogging world it is that we all have ups and downs. No-one is perfect, no-one is constantly happy, everyone has doubts, everyone thinks they are failing as a parent from time to time, but the very fact that we can acknowledge this means that we are good parents trying to do our best, but still only human.

Finally, if you really, really want the White Company slipper boots in the lovely mink colour next winter just buy them for yourself. Don't trust anyone else to read your Christmas list and buy them for you, as when they don't the damn things will just be sold out come Boxing Day...again.

And to round off my review I would like to hand out some awards based upon my lengthy research for the kerry on reading section of this blog:

Best fiction – Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant,
Co-incidentally also given to me by the lurky blog reader referred to above, this truly has been my favourite fiction of the year. Admittedly I am a sucker for the Italian Renaissance period, but dry though that subject may sound, this novel was an exquisite read. I judge a book by how at home it makes you feel when leafing through it's pages, and I was absolutely transported to the intrigue and politics of life in these 16th centrury cloisters, never mind that it was heart in your mouth exciting at times. For total transportation away from 21st century life this is a must.

Best non-fiction – Billy by Pamela Stephenson,
This was published in 2001 and so a bit old now, and I will admit that I picked it up in a charity shop having developed a bit of a crush on the magnificent Ms Stephenson during her amazing stint on Strictly Come Dancing (please let me half as amazing as she is when I reach 64!). I think Billy Connolley is funny but probably wouldn't go out of my way to see him, but after reading this book can only express admiration that he has achieved such an amazing career after a shockingly bad start to life with horrific neglect and abuse both physical and sexual to contend with. A rollicking great read, which is particularly interesting given the fact that the author is his wife and has a quite different perspective to her subject than most biographers. I especially liked the final chapter, extracted from the book and repeated here for your entertainment:

Billy's Life Lessons:

Tread gently on anyone who looks at you sideways.
Have lots of long lie-ins.
Wear sturdy socks, learn to grow out of medium underwear and, if you must lie about your age, do it in the other direction. Tell people you're ninety-seven and they'll think you look fucking great.
Try to catch a trout and experience the glorious feeling of letting it go and seeing it swimming away.
Never eat food that comes in a bucket.
If you don't know how to meditate at least try to spend some time every day just sitting.
Boo joggers.
Don't work out, work in.
Play the banjo.
Sleep with somebody you like.
Eat plenty of liquorice Allsorts.
Try to live in a place you like.
Marry somebody you like.
Try to do a job you like.
Never turn down an opportunity to shout "Fuck them all!" at the top of your voice.
Avoid bigots of all descriptions.
Let your own bed become to you what the Pole Star was to sailors of old.....look forward to it.
Don't wear tight underwear on aeroplanes.
Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He's a mile away and you've got his shoes.
Clean your teeth and keep the company of people who will tell you when there's spinach on them.
Avoid people who say they know the answer. Keep the company of people who are trying to understand the question.
Don't pat animals with sneaky eyes.
If you haven't heard a good rumour by 11:00am, start one.
Learn to feel sorry for music because, although it is the international language, it has no swear words.
If you write a book, be sure it has exactly seventy-six "fucks" in it.
Avoid giving LSD to guide dogs.
Don't be talked into wearing a uniform.
Salute nobody.
Never run with scissors or other pointy objects.
Campaign against blue Smarties.
Above all, go to Glasgow at least once in your life and have a roll and square sliced sausage and a cup of tea. When you feel the tea coursing over your spice-singed tongue, you'll know what I mean when I say: It's good to be alive."