Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for the ‘Rugby’ Category

Neanderthal Sport

Having lost the battle of the TV remote I was forced to watched one of the six nations games.   I have of course watched many games of rugby over the years but usually with a vested interest in one of the teams winning.  To be honest whichever side won the match didn’t matter to me; what struck me more than anything else during this particular battle was how close to Neanderthal man we still are.

Great hulks of unkempt hairy muscle closing in on the prey with grunts and groans.  They hunt in droves to win their prize and whisk it away supported by other pack beasts

Neanderthal Prop?

Neanderthal Prop?

thundering down the pitch. Diving and coveting the quarry so no-one else can take it; whilst opposing creatures maul each other in a bid to steal away the prey.    A quick span of the watching crowd reveal vividly preened and painted females cheering on the brutality taking place in front of them.  The prize, in this instance is not the chance to win the love, ownership or dominance of the female spectators but a title which will elevate their prominence and their masculinity until the next competition.

In fact all games, hockey, football, tennis have an element of raw brutality, courage and dominance about them.  The Olympic games, the world cups even inter club competitions are all about being the best, the king of the pride, the undisputed top dog.   Winners not born to this elevated position; win by strength, determination and often sacrifice.  When the time comes, and it will come they will lose to younger fitter adversaries as their vitality falters.

The highly emotive and controversial sport of hunting is another battle of prehistoric supremacy lingering on into modern sport.  A team of contemporary well turned out hunters chasing down not; an unsuspecting ball but a cunning  fox or swift stag.  Opposition protesters protecting the prey who will go to devious extremes to prevent the chase.  Protesting has  evolved now taking its place as part of this quick thinking sport, where  three sides do battle;  hunters, protesters and prey and in this case  it is not always the hunters who win, often the quick thinking cunning can outwit the brawn and magnitude of an advancing hunt.   How many protesters will go home and catch the highlights of the six nation matches later on.      Watching and cheering as the bloodied winners leave the pitch in triumph when hours before their prize as antagonists was preventing the bloodied winners catching from prey.

Of course I feel blessed that my children do not behave in this pre-historic, grunting and intimidating manner.

Although watching No 1 Son playing rugby there are some very similar stances, builds and grunts.  The thunder on the pitch as they stampede towards another try before meeting the opposition with a deafening crunch is definitely reminiscent of the charge from out of control wildebeest. Thankfully No 1 Son’s team-mates are able to revert back from their animalistic instincts following a shower and cooked meal as do the international players.

I am assured by parents and friends alike that the grunts and shoulder shrugging along with the fierce dagger looks from Middle son is perfectly normal and he will grow out of it rather than regress further into caveman mentality.   Maybe if he played more rugby he could channel his barbaric behaviour into something constructive.  His rugby coach is certainly impressed when he finds time to turn up.

Meanwhile Mini Son is still perfecting the art of defending his ball before kicking it past the goalie to score.  Being the fastest and the best at football in the whole school is the only prize he desires. Sexy Sporty Dad and I are immensely proud that he has been chosen to represent the local Area Athletics Academy; one of only 9 to have been picked from hundreds who train weekly. I am not sure how the animal adrenaline will spur him but feel without a ball in front of him his focus will not quite be as motivated.

Having sat through two brutal demonstrations of supremacy and violence I have missed the Saturday afternoon Catherine Cookson weepie on Yesterday; one of the multi channels I could have inflicted on my family had I won the remote control.   Maybe if I am cunning and think like the prey I can hide the remote before the beginning of the Sunday game.  I can then enjoy a serious weep together with my box of Kleenex and a hot water bottle.


I am quite excited that I have actually managed to do some writing.  It was not a press release or a blog it was a short story.   I was given a brief for a story between 1500 and 1700 words relating to a valentines card for a competition.  I thought I might have a go and laboriously managed to get 600 forced words down setting the scene and describing my characters, without knowing where the story was going.   For a couple of days I pondered and added a few words till at 900 I gave up.  I left the characters pondering the card sorry I could not do them more justice.

Two days later the story had mulled and churned through my daily routine, I had tarnished passers-by with the characteristic flaws and failings of my heroine and her workmates.   I re-read the story.  I cut whole chunks as I went, adding in little phrases that had been brimming over the days, to the now growing text.  I became the heroine receiving the unwanted card but why and who from.    I added in all the possible senders filling in little tit bits of information and back fill.  Suddenly I was in full flight and had to finish the story but I was still unsure of who the card came from.

Time now to reveal the sender; the words just tumbled out surprising me as much as any future reader.   I suspect the novel I am reading at the moment may have something to do with the surprise.  I didn’t even realise that I had thought that seriously about the subject except as a background to my current reading. There it was though out and on the page.

My feeble 900 words had developed and expanded into 2641.  I have pared it down now to 1720 with judicious editing but where to lose those extra 20 words.  I feel like a slimmer who has reached a plateau just before her final target weight although I wish it was that easy to slim without noticing it.    I still have a few days before the competition closes so will see what my writing group think.  I may not even send it off as I don’t ever do very well at these things.  The fact remains that I have managed to write and come up with a passable piece of fiction.   If I could only find the same inspiration to finish my re-edit of Memories, it may actually see the inside of a publisher’s office.


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When asked recently what I did for leisure I had to really think.  I don’t have a leisure past time.   I dutifully watch No 1 Son or Middle Son play rugby because they want to play, not because I gain any pleasure seeing my child or anyone else’s throwing themselves at each other in a frenzy of force.   I stand and cheer on the wet soggy sidelines, jumping up and down not through emotion but cold, as Mini Son’s football team score another goal.  I meet Sexy Sporty Dad for coffee after he has completed his weekly trial of cycling.   None of these are my sporting choices.

I don’t have a leisure sport.  In the summer when all the boys traipse off to the harbour to sail the boats, I pack the picnic, I hold the ropes then I stand thigh high in cold water to launch the boats.   Later I sit lonely and lost, pretending to read, casting surreptitious looks over the horizon to check they are all safe.  I have tried pilates and power plating, I have danced through zumba and aerobics, I have swum and cycled the length of Britain, but none of these have I done for pleasure.  Exercise is good for me; they say and so I dutifully put my body through the painful experiences expecting immediate long lasting benefits.  I am still waiting .

I do however steal an hour each morning before the world has woken, for writing.  I am quite selfish with my hour and anyone daring to approach me before the hour of 7 O’clock is risking two full barrel loads of pent up missive which should by rights be making its way to the page.     I do have to admit that I am finding writing a struggle at the moment.  I am not out of ideas; quite the opposite the concepts and notions constantly head butt each other in a duelling dance around the depths of my inner cortex; but I am out of time.

A blank screen is a scary site in any scenario particularly when I claim to be a writer.   I have spent time this week creating a magazine article, running No 1 Son to and fro with his sports activities followed by an early morning meet to send him off to Barcelona with his school.   Mini Son has after school matches and a swimming gala to attend and then Middle Son requires lifts to and from his friends because the weather is just too wet.    I have prepared meals on time for everyone to eat.  I have even managed to squeeze in the odd bit of shopping, food of course, washing and general tidying.   In between times I have gone to work as well.   What I haven’t been able to find is the extra time to write for the pleasure of writing .

Stop the world I want to get off.

So I did!  I joined a group of my close friends and we took ourselves to a Spa for a complete chillax day of just laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Six of us managed to escape our manic worlds and off we all went.  We had in common; our 16 year old sons some already turning 17 had all played youth Rugby together.  These were friends that had seen each other through our sons’ successes, battles on and off the pitch, injuries, and growing up.

For the whole day time stood still.    We talked about us, we learnt things from each other that we did not know despite knowing every breath their boys took.  We laughed like carefree children who do not have all the worries of the world upon their shoulders.  We did nothing; well that is not strictly true we did sit and float and steam but we relaxed.

Chill out at the Spa

Relaxing is not an activity I find easy to accomplish.  My life obviously allows little me time.    I have never been a good sleeper and this does not seem to get better with age.  Letting my worries and cares stay firmly at home while I go out and have fun is a difficult and unusual occurrence.  However with help from some just as busy friends we did all enjoy the day and we had fantastic fun.

I think I have found a pastime that might appeal to me.   I think I must work at taking the time out to enjoy these excursions.   The peace and slow pace has given me much to contemplate and even more ideas are sprouting through the medulla to grow into short stories, novels and articles.   The mind is clear of mundane rituals and brimming with a world of luxury and exoticism waiting to branch out and create a new sapling of creativity.

This is not a past time that will be repeated too often but one I will certainly look forward to again.  In the meantime I will rise early tomorrow and transfer all my excited threads of stories to the screen in front of me.  Who knows one day they might just be the beginnings of the next big best seller.

Stop your world for just one day and enjoy being you.


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Getting the Grade

It’s been a long week of waiting especially for 16 year olds and their wearied families.  Last Wednesday brought a stream of successful A’level results; leading to young futures being mapped out as scenes of happy teenagers realise they had won that coveted place at university as they study the sheets of paper handed to them.

This week it was the turn of the GCSE results.  Boys and girls up and down the country have been back apprehensively attending school; for one long drawn out moment of intense emotion, as they learn how well they have done.  All those tedious hours of study, those nagged timely homeworks and all those missed activities; were they enough?

I made a point of being up early.  I had not been asked but I knew it would come and when it did it would be instant.   “I need a lift now?”

The last two years have been a long haul for No 1 Son dealing with more than just the usual teenage angst, lack of motivation and general ennui that his classmates seem to have overcome.

He, not surprisingly being such a keen sports player, opted to take Further PE as one of his options.   He would of course focus all his passion on rugby as his main sporting activity.  Fate however, was not of the same opinion and he was distraught and devastated by the distressing news he needed pins in his hips and would be out of contact sport action for a whole year.  The first operation was just before he embarked on his GCSE course.  Six weeks spent in a wheel chair and a further six on crutches before he tentatively began walking and gently jogging.  Then tragedy struck as fate dealt her next blow; the second hip gave way and he was catapulted back to square one.

The second operation took us less by surprise as we now knew there was weakness but the timing could not have been worse.   Weeks into the new school term and days before the first set of exams in his modular English, Maths and Science GCSE were due to be sat.   When the pain came it was almost routine, one phone call and we leap frogged the waiting list to be seen.  That day we were admitted and the operation took place early the next morning.

No 1 Son still suffering from the anaesthetic was taken from his hospital bed straight to school to sit his maths exam.  Unable to keep track of the time due to severe bouts of sleepiness; how was he ever going to remember how to divide fractions or work out the circumference of a trapezium.  He sat uncomfortably in his wheelchair wondering what day it was, as he filled in the hazy paper in front of him.  Two days later still heavily dependent on pain killers, still tired and angry we dropped him back at school to discuss the merits of the chosen topic book.  A story in which he had already struggled to find empathy with any of the characters.

Disappointing results were met with his school wanting to move him down a group in maths and to monitor his English.   I don’t get belligerent often, but armed with an arsenal of justifying persuasions I tackled the school who gave in without fight on the proviso his next results were better and he would retake these modules studying on his own.  The battle rules were laid.  Only he could pull it back, but at what cost.

The first year of his course for PE he watched longingly as the others played their sports and developed their skills while he read the theory.  Once fit but unable to play rugby he took to refereeing the game which helped his study of the laws and added another strand to his practical sports.  He took up tennis with less chance of being in a crash or wipe out. Sluggishly his serve found its home as he sauntered along the base line hoping for a long return with restricted stretch.

He had taken the battle rules and reworked them for himself, he was not going to let them move him.  He knuckled down and worked; creating revision timetables to focus his time and energies.  He limited his party going, opting if not preferring to have proper sleep rather than beer infused dozing.  He exercised his way to peak fitness, losing all the weight that had begun to drag him down after months of inactivity.  Back on his beloved rugby field he came from nowhere to take the end of season “most improved back” trophy.   He practised his new found tennis skills and can return a mean backhand down the line challenging some of his county level playing friends.

Notes of revision were posted over the house explaining assonance, alliteration and adverbs.  Diagrams of algebraic fractions and wigwams began appearing on the bathroom walls!   He dragged himself reluctantly off to extra classes and took on extra homework to catch up on his lost year.  Finally he sat the last exams and today he will want to go and collect his results.

Whatever his results give us he has scored an A* for his dedicated, disciplined and determined attitude to achievement and he deserves so much more than a sheet of paper with a few letters on.   He has overcome huge obstacles to get to this stage.  We asked for best effort and that is exactly what he delivered. So well done No 1 Son!

Dedication, discipline and determination A*

“Mum are you doing anything, could you just give me a lift to school my friends are meeting there in a few minutes……..!”


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PS:   Of course I cannot reveal his results as they are between him and who he wishes to divulge them to.   To say we are proud is an understatement but I feel my belligerence has been vindicated.  His English and Science were above predicted and his Maths was way above all predictions. Two years ago he was in a wheelchair; today he has exceeded all expectations delivering an incredible result in his Sports GCSE.


Boredom Blues

The exams are over, the summer holidays are not quite upon us and 16 year olds all over the country are bored. There is nothing to do.  All that intense studying now forgotten and a couple of weeks of doing nothing are beginning to take their toll.   It was great at first, ten weeks of no school stretching into the distant future; there were end of exam parties, end of school parties, parties to end all parties so the first fortnight was spent sleeping and nursing sore heads.

Admittedly the weather which could make so much difference is not being kind to them; but a blanket of despondency envelopes them from the outer world leaving them with nothing to do.   Our Wii has been in much use this past week, alternating between the play station, the tv or computer.  Thankfully despite the rain Colts training began last week with a very wet but hard training session.   I have to be grateful that No 1 Son is keeping fit and he does at least one fitness activity each day, but he is still bored.

My suggestions are met with the derision and disdain they deserve. My offers of paid work are met with cynicism and scepticism at the effort of having to get dressed. I as a parent do not have any good ideas after all I am old and have never had fun!

Maybe a girlfriend might give No 1 Son an interest. He could go and meet her in town; we would probably end up driving him and her to places or events; but there are no free young ladies of the exacting standards he requires, available at the moment.

It would be good if he could get a proper paid job, not odd jobs that his mother could find for him.   He is due to have an operation at the end of July and although it should not cause him much time out, he already knows he will be away from rugby for 6 weeks;  a fact that plays heavily on the spirit.    The unknown quantity is whether he will be able to walk or run directly afterwards or how long it will be before he is able to so is unable to commit to working at the moment.

The operation date we have been expecting has arrived and falls two days before we travel to France on holiday.  A planned early start to catch the 8am ferry for a 6 hour crossing, followed by a 5 hour drive the other side to find our campsite.  Thankfully we will not be in a tent but a chalet which will afford him some comfort once we arrive.   I have managed to delay the ferry for one day but if he is not fit; we have a plan B.   Plan B in my mind is the less favourable option although Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son are rather in favour of it.

I will travel as planned with the other two all the way down through France on my own.   It is probably 8 or 9 years since I have driven in France, so my French is rusty  along with my map reading skills; I can see us ending up in Madrid or Frankfurt.   I do not have a problem with the idea of driving abroad.  My problem is; the time it will take having not had much sleep the night before in order to be there on time,  6 hours of hyperactivity on board an enclosed ferry, then the solo drive.  My nerves are jangling already and there are still two weeks to go.   Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son will take a ferry / train combination or fly to a convenient town nearby for me to collect them.    I am even now investigating all the alternatives.

A chink in the armour of ennui appeared at the end of last week.  Sexy Sporty Dad’s brother El Capitano rang

damp and drizzly

damp and drizzly

to complain he too had bored 16 year old twins and was tearing what is left of his hair out trying to get them to do something, anything.  He had hatched a cunning plan and was setting off from Derbyshire down to Falmouth to pitch a tent; he happened to be planning to tow his pride and joy boat with him.   Would No 1 Son be available to join in?

Naturally, I leapt at the opportunity for him to have some fun before the others broke up and his impending operation truncated any sense of adventure.  The lethargy was so embedded that he however declined the opportunity, not only leaving his parents in despair, but El Capitano with two reluctant participants not really wanting to go either.  Forced into going, the conniving cousins called as they reached the M6 to travel down, urging him to reconsider with stories of mayhem, mishap and mischief.    Minutes later he was packing a rucksack and we spent an unplanned Sunday taking him to the motorway junction to meet the weary travellers.

A fistful of cash, his phone topped up and a party pack of drink; we waved him away.  He is adamant he wants to be home for Mini Son’s 10th birthday celebrations later in the week so El Capitano will put him on a train from Cornwall and hope he manages to change enough times to get home.  Having not been on a train alone before, this will be a good experience and practise in case Plan B has to come into play for our holiday.

The rain has returned and the forecast does not foretell of improvement so it may be that the whole party returns earlier than planned and he will not be called upon to rely on his survival homing beacon.  At the very least he will have seen his cousins, had an adventure and even maybe a sail, so he can come home with a fresh attitude to battle the boredom.

Thank you El Capitano!


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Founded Friendships

I spent two nights in Treliske Hospital over the Easter weekend.  The trip was not prearranged and most certainly was not as enjoyable as the fantastic weekend I had meticulously planned.    We had managed to drive all the way down to Newquay on Easter Saturday and booked into what looked like a really great hotel.   The weekend was looking so promising.

Two hours later I called NHS direct and was instructed to go straight to A&E.  That was the last I saw of the hotel.

The episode, although not what I would have wished for did however remind me how transient relationships can be.   There was not a lot of interaction from the doctors themselves but the nursing staff, were the epitome of caring and listening.

It really does not matter how many times you go to hospital, and we worked out that I have been in every major hospital in the south west barring one, in some capacity or other, student nurse, patient or parent.  I am not keen to visit the last one in any capacity.  You never grow out of that scary sensation, the terrifying trepidation, the fearful foreboding just because you reach adulthood, and can comprehend that fundamentally each hospital is the same.

Nurses do a wonderful job of leading you gently step by step through your stay.  Each day and overnight you are assigned one angel to care for you and she (sometimes he) will comfort your emotional outbursts, tend your wounds, administer your medicines along with tlc and nurturing.  She will stop and chat breaking the monotony of the day with tales of her home life and your home.  Suddenly this complete stranger becomes your new best friend.  You divulge information you would not even tell your own friends or family.

My angel was Heidi who went well beyond the bounds of nursing care to make the place less frightening and more bearable.  She told me about her family, how she is working extra shifts to pay for her son to go skiing with the school and also how her children believed her story of Easter being delayed one day; so she could spend the day with them.   I told her how come we were supposed to be on holiday and how it had been a surprise for Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son who had been staying down in Cornwall on rugby tour.  We sat and talked about fears many of which are unfounded but in the depths of those surroundings seemed huge and insurmountable.     Heidi finally had to go off duty and went home; I felt lost again and lonely.

Wandering to the ward kitchen I instantly made another friend, whose name I am ashamed to admit I forget.  After the initial meeting you do not really use each other’s names.   I do know all about her husband Jay, sons Dave and Josh and her daughter Sarah at home, she knows all about my children and the rugby tour.   We chatted about the weather, where we could find butter for toast and how come we were both there over bank holiday.  Returning to the ward I discovered she was camped across the room from me.  We spent several hours passing time and chatting about anything that came to mind.  The doctor came over to her, pulled the curtains round for privacy then with loud voice asked intimate questions.  She decamped and again I was left waiting.

Remembering other visits to hospitals where you make close friendships with the other parents or patients and swear to keep in touch.  As soon as you return home there is so much going on that time and life get in the way and suddenly you realise you didn’t keep in touch.

Life’s relationships are all like passing ships.  When I look back through my address book and see all the lost friends who I was sure would be there forever but have floated out of my life like driftwood.  Social media brings old friends coasting back in contact; can you ever go back to the intensity of that former life.   It would be great to hear from some of my teenage gangs, their lives and mine have taken such differing paths, could we ever recapture the friendship that was so founded on our loves and lives back then.

Forging Strong Bonds

My mother rang her best friend this week to wish her a happy birthday.  They had both arrived at boarding school aged 9 in the far reaches of Wales and forged a lasting friendship during those war years away from their homes and families.   71 years later and much water under their bridges their friendship is as strong as ever and their memories although a bit erratic now span years of ups and downs.


Looking around my friends now, I have such hopes of the foundations of this time being strong enough to last a lifetime.  I am sure there will be other fleeting friends and foes coming and going through my life but I hope the friends I gather along the way will stay true even as our paths part and times change.  As my children who have led me through my latest friendships move on I hope I stay firm and keep the strong bonds formed now for ever.

Here is to friendship may it be drawn-out, durable and dependable.


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Battered not Broken

It is so difficult as a mother watching your child hurt themselves.  I now also know that it doesn’t get any easier with time.

I find it so easy to step back and remember the moment when that perfect little bundle was placed in my arms for the first time; all labour pains and that effort just vanished.  They really don’t melt they disappear in such an instant that you don’t even believe they were ever there.

Of course with Middle Son it was never like that; so keen to get here; he arrived a scary shade of blue three weeks early.  I was given a fleeting glance as they rushed him up to the special care baby unit.  Hours later I was permitted to hold him, as Sexy Sporty Dad and I had a photo with him.  I still have the photo somewhere today.  What it doesn’t show in the photo is the oxygen pipe running up my back with Sexy Sporty Dad holding it just over my shoulder, or one side of this tiny bundle carefully tucked close into me with the leads and tubes hidden from view.

That was the day real life took over, splitting away from the safe black and white route of the parental handbook.  I learnt a hard lesson that day; the handbook was fiction.

I am not looking for sympathy; after all Middle Son grew up; albeit with many trials and tribulations along the way, to be a strapping young man.  No less than my first bundle; No 1 Son, who likewise has grown into a sturdy well-built rugby playing young adult. The same bundle that now expects me to stand proudly watching his self destruction and injury induced sport with neutrality and unfeeling.

Having seen No 1 Son through a year of frustration and immense bravery where he had both hips pinned and was away from sport; in particular his beloved rugby for a whole season, each game he plays is special.   Emotions for his parents are heightened to a volcanic pressure of watching, waiting and wishing.    Sexy Sporty Dad who has finally given up coaching the team to concentrate on his triathlon training cannot help but turn his trail past the club timing it to the start of the match.

I have never really been a good spectator of the sport, I watch in order to write a match report on a game where I do not even understand the laws.   Each week I try hard to learn a new expression, this week it was “charge down” and “overlap”.  Regardless of the actual game play these will appear prolifically in the match report.   Having written “Scrum Down” I now have a much better insight into positioning and roles that the team have.  I however am particularly protective of the whole team and get very vocal with annoyance when the other boys all land on top of a green shirt.

I was watching as the tackle happened on Sunday and immediately the hairs prickled in indignation at the audacity to floor my boy.  I held my breath as the maul moved away and he didn’t rise from the pitch.  That was the point the match report was assigned to the never written pile.  As the game moved across to the other side of the pitch I shouted at the coach to notice the man down, unnecessarily

Down but not Out

really as both coaches were thundering on to the pitch together with our fabulous first aider who reached him first.

Have you ever realised that just as you feel the heat of a blush rising through your body, you can actually feel the blood drain from your head down, from your arms back to just keep your heart fluttering.   The pain is physical as if you were the one hit.  The pit of your stomach tenses, releasing sharp daggers of emotion and nausea.    We of course have been here before throughout his rugby career.  He was knocked out during a festival and carted off in an ambulance about 5 years ago, that was the time we concentrated on his head and didn’t realise for weeks he had also broken a finger in the same tackle.  When the crack of ripping back muscles was heard in a training game, they all thought he had broken his neck.  Another four hour stint spent in A&E for his weary parents thankfully turned out to be a treatable tear.

This time he took too long to get up, we could see him moving his hands rubbing his hips.   I could feel the tension radiate from Sexy Sporty Dad as he stood beside me.  My hand crept in through the layers of warm clothing to rest lightly on my mobile.  How many times have I called, guided or liaised with ambulances for other children.

I broke the rules.  The same rules that with any other match I would be expected to enforce, but I went pitch side and waited as they helped No 1 Son to walk off the pitch.   Yes he did walk.  Well it was more a lob sided hobble but the fact he walked meant his hips may not yet be quite as broken as we all feared.  My breathing began to regulate and the blood seeped slowly back to all extremities as I walked beside his shuffling body to the changing rooms.   As I contemplated the quickest route to A&E by road, who should go with him and what to do with the other children, he put on his jumper shuffled back out to watch the match from the subs bench; commenting fiercely and understandably angrily on the outcome.

He joined his friends for the post match meal and Sexy Sporty Dad and I were allowed to finally stamp some authority on the day by refusing to allow him to ref the under 15 girls that afternoon.   He could hardly walk so chasing girls up and down a full size pitch was never going to be a realistic option.  His wonderfully supportive best friend stepped in and offered to ref for him.   Their builds may be poles apart but Stuart, wearing No 1 Son’s somewhat larger than required ref kit officiated a fast and furious match. No 1 Son fitting in and wearing Stuart’s slim line warm coat supported from the sidelines.

I was unimpressed at the ref co-ordinator who should know better than to come and start asking a somewhat still distressed No 1 Son why he was skiving from the match.  His passion for the game is such that he must have been in so much pain and inner turmoil to have allowed us to prevent him being ref that afternoon.

I am delighted to report that a combination (well lots) of  my homeopathic remedy Arnica, a hot bath and lots of rest No 1 son is walking well, his bruising is recovering rapidly though he will not be at training this week.  My boys have heard yet again my mantra “what is wrong with synchronised swimming it surely cannot be as dangerous as rugby.”

Writing :  having finally plucked up the courage to let my novel “memories” out to open critisicm I have now received my first review back

Once I had started reading, I read the whole thing in one day….. very compelling and a real page turner – very good!!  I liked the way that, although I figured out what was going on pretty early, you tossed in a few twists and turns to keep the reader hooked!  On the negative side – one or two slight inaccuracies of details (although only if you have direct experience of the matter and did not affect the overall story)….   overall, I thought it was an excellent story – well researched and well written!

Maybe the next step is to brave it out and send it to some editors, Stay posted.


check out family pizza time at ;

I am not known for my trailblazing fashion sense but I would never go out without my nails looking top notch, grateful thanks to Sarah and Lorraine at the Nail Workshop who not only keep them looking good but also put me in the spotlight   I of course went for Electric Metal Lover.

Achieving the Goal

Tiggy inspired by team members

You join me a week after the end of NANOWRIMO and forgive me if I am a little self congratulatorythis week, but I did manage to complete the mammoth challenge I had laid out for myself and wrote  50,816 words in just 30 days.  I finally uploaded my words for verification and felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders; especially as the weekend before I had only uploaded 26,000 words. I had hand written more but did not know if I had written an achievable amount or if I would be too far behind.

I know if you cast your eye over any local paper you will see hundreds of challenges being completed; treks to outer Mongolian jungles, cycling from John-o-Groats to Lands End even jumping from an aeroplane, they are all personal challenges driven on by a desire to succeed.  My personal choice may have been less physical, just words and not something my boys will admit to, but it was my challenge and I feel suitably smug now that I again have the choice to get up early in the morning, or leave the late night typing to another time.

There were hurdles along the way and unexpected calls on my very precious time which sometimes I may not have given quite as generously as normal.    I still had a house to run, three growing children needing food and water and a husband requiring guidance and tending.    I have another job that required my presence, not to mention the time I already give to the children’s rugby club.

Nothing is possible without support and I couldn’t have done this without it, keeping me going particular when the task seemed just a little too overwhelming.  Some people may not have taken on board quite how daunting the task was;  “yeah I always think I might write a book, it’s not that difficult you just need time” a close friend told me as she went on to tell me how her daughter was and why she was cross with her ex husband this time.  One friend shrugged her shoulders and said “oh well I must introduce you to someone, she’s a real writer.”  I am not quite sure what defines a real writer but I am working hard to qualify.     Most people were far more complimentary about my attempts even if they thought I may have overstepped the insanity line.

Scrum Down (working title), starts on a rugby pitch with a team of under 16s players.  It looks behind the obvious game and battles on the pitch at the private lives and what makes them tick.   I learnt more about the scary transition young lads are making as they bumble blindly into adulthood.   I think I realise the difficulties they have; to rise to the expectations of their families, their teachers and the outside world.

After all they are grownups; in some cultures they would have been welcomed into the adult world via some traditional and often weird initiation ceremony.   Here, in this country they are still children and particular as my study has shown me, boys, still wanting to run and have the freedom to play around.  Convention tells us they need to knuckle down and think about their futures and study subjects they just don’t get; they are still unsure of what they want, unready to take on the responsibilities of maturity.  Relationships are suddenly so fragile yet so intense.  Games they play have more consequences and can be more dangerous where alcohol and drugs are readily available.  The once playground battles of cowboys and Indians are played out on the wider scale with rival gangs often fighting for a cause they do not know;  play pistols and daggers replaced by knives and tension entrenched with a testosterone fuelled force they did not know existed.

Shakespeare first commented on this in Romeo and Juliette, exploring the feelings and unpredictability of teenagers.   Tybalt, I am convinced never really meant to kill Mercutio and likewise Romeo most certainly did not mean to kill Tybalt; he had just married Juliette, Tybalt’s cousin but in a heated moment it all goes too far and too wrong.

Sondheim and Bernstein updated the theme for their version of West Side Story where the same thread runs through their musical in a 1950’s era of Jets and Sharks.  You believe the union between Maria and Tony will bridge the disharmony on the streets; again it is the futile tragedy of Riff, Bernardo and Tony all dead that finally unites the Jets and Sharks.

Many other films; for example Grease and even the magical world of Harry Potter explores the tensions and rivalry as boys grow up, some with thankfully happier and more realistic endings than Romeo and Juliette.

I have tried in my novel to explore the inner workings of boys’ brains as they struggle with the conflictions and expectations they feel are expected just as hormones reach raging point and adulthood determines their expected loss of emotion and vulnerability.

It is very rough draft at the moment.  I am taking an enforced break from the pressure of deadlines but will go back to the story in time.   I already feel the need to change the end slightly and develop some of the characters and their families.    Memories1 is still waiting for me to brave out the publishing world so I would not hold my breath about Scrum Down being in print anytime soon.

Unfortunately I have missed the latest series of the choir, despite having been in love with Gareth Malone ever since he turned the troublesome school children around.  This time he picked on a group of military wives and has nurtured them into a 100 strong choir who sang at the Albert Hall for a Remembrance Day concert.

This particular project of his like the children at the school just hit a chord that I find hard to ignore.   The song has been written from the letters the wives sent to their beloved husbands while they served abroad.  I don’t want to ever take anything away from our brave brave soldiers fighting wars, who put their lives on the line every day for Queen and country.  Gareth, has however,  brought an awareness of the wonderful women they leave behind.

We only hear the bad press stories when a soldier is killed.  These woman wave their men off as they leave for war torn foreign places, as I wave Sexy Sporty Dad; then live in unbearable fear they may never see their loved one again.   They look after the homes and the children and carry on with their lives dreading the car coming to their door with bad news.   They welcome back their husbands, partners, fathers of their children and help them adjust to life back in a country thankfully not at war, often suffering if not from physical injury but the horrendous mental images that will never leave those men.

I have got behind the movement to get “Wherever you are” to No 1 for Christmas for two reasons; firstly I don’t care how brilliant, great, entertaining the winner of the X factor will be, I feel they do not have a right to take the No 1 spot.  So many artists produce great songs around this time and in recent years have not even been able to compete.

The second reason I will pre-order this record is that it is a long time since a song has moved me so much I actually want to buy a song.  The words mean so much and are written right from the soul.  You don’t have to wave your lover off to war to tell him “wherever you are; our hearts still beat as one.”

Please go to Amazon ( and play the video and I challenge you not to cry.  I have watched it several times now and I think my tears are starting earlier each time.   To quote Chris Evans “it is a song the world needs”.  If you feel strongly about anyone then dip into your pocket and buy it for them for Christmas.  Help Gareth and his wonderful choir to achieve their goal.



Memories1    written for NANOWRIMO last year and still being edited, waiting for me to overcome my fear and send it away.


Public Dilemmas

Sexy Sporty Dad and I were invited to a pre-pub opening this weekend.  It was an honour to be invited; there was never any question, of us not going but it led to some difficult dilemmas.  The first of which is obvious: dress code. We don’t go out very often and usually if we do, we go with friends or family, the dress code is very precise.  But what do you wear to a special invite to a pub opening.  Mallyshag Ltd the newish owners and friends of ours were showing off the pub following a long extensive refurbishment where advisors, close friends and supporters were invited;

I trawled through my inappropriate wardrobe and found nothing even remotely suitable.  I wandered around a few shops and found even less suitable attire.  What is suitable?  Time was galloping away while I luxuriated in the shower rather than make a decision.  I began mix and match my eye makeup and realised it was imperative I come to a conclusion.    I chose a dress with streaks of differing colours and voluptuous folds so I could get away with spilling my drink or dropping a canapé down it unnoticed.  It was comfortable and allowed for plenty of indulgence of the aforementioned canapés.  It also turned out to be suitable; there was a wide range of outfits and I was not out of place.

It has taken a long time to have the courage and trust to leave all three boys at home unsupervised. At nearly 16, No 1 Son goes off to babysit for friend’s children, he is certainly old enough and probably sensible enough to be left at home.   Middle Son is quite self sufficient; he prefers to stay home at the weekend; goes to the shops to fill my fridge with pizzas, cheese and ham croissants and high energy drinks; not that he needs any.    He will cook all this as and when he feels peckish and can entertain himself playing God of War on the PSII for hours as long as no-one disturbs him.  He will be totally domesticated when he leaves home although his financial thriftiness may well delay that adventure for many years to come.   The most sensible of the three; Mini Son is deemed by his age to be too young to leave at home alone.

I have relented and now leave all three for an evening but with very strict instructions, which I am sure they all agree to until the car has driven round the bend and then completely ignore me.   They don’t realise they are left with a huge amount of trust; they do understand the threat of a babysitter, if they misbehave, looming over their heads.  Mini Son also has a get out clause and there is always a neighbour aware they are on their own if he feels assistance is needed.

This has worked well so far and I have toned down my calls back home now, not even reminding them that bed time has passed.   They are more than capable of being on their own and probably far more reliable than I am prepared to give them credit for, but however old and independent they become I am their mother and it is my right to worry about them.

There was however the added complication of the carnival being in town; bad enough as that may seem but the fun fair cleverly attaches itself to the carnival and relieves the townsfolk of all their hard earned cash.  The older boys had their social lives cemented firmly in the spiral that surrounded the carnival and were not prepared to stay in and babysit.   Fleetingly I did consider allowing Mini Son to tag along behind one of his brothers but it was very brief.   Horror images flooded my mind; him being left on some unknown float full of aliens and monsters, Harry Potter throwing an unforgivable curse in his direction, or his brother dragging him on to the screamer, I don’t even know what the screamer does but the name conjures up too many horrors.

My friend Natty mercifully not only offered to have Mini Son, she offered him a bed for the night, allowing us the freedom to return when we were ready guilt free about a babysitter who had a time restriction.   Mini Son went over with a bag of drinks and snacks for a midnight feast which they started about 8pm and concluded the following morning for early breakfast.  He took his DS for the challenge that would happen, barely managing a goodnight as I left him already battling Pokemon with Natty’s son.

Sexy Sporty Dad and I did go to the ball or rather the pub opening and we were very impressed.   We arrived and there was no where to park, the car park full to bursting with newly plated number plates.   Sexy Sporty Dad left me at the door while he hid my little battered car somewhere he could find space, out of sight.   Noise and laughter tumbled out of windows and door as I stood counting the seconds until he returned and we could walk in together.   Naturally like any good party, you dread going in, not sure if you will know anyone.  We were greeted instantly by our friends who insisted on champagne and a personalised tour.   We knew many of the others through our various walks of life.

Exquisite interior design has taken the old listed building, completely refurbished it in a fusion of

The Fontmell, Fontmell Magna, Dorset - 01747 811441

period and contemporary furnishings, blended with the natural stream running between the dining room and the bar.  We threw coins to wish them good luck and also to ensure we return.  The bite sized canapés that came round were taken directly from the more formal menu combining exotic, expensive and everyday ingredients in mouth watering morsels.  There will also be a bar menu for those who just want pub grub.   Plied with champagne we were led upstairs to admire the bedrooms with their modern en-suites and imaginative use of historic feature blended with extra touches to make the stay memorable.

Unfortunately the pub is too close for us to justify staying overnight unless some willing or maybe not so willing family member wanted to entertain three adorable, well behaved and incredibly endearing boys overnight.   Next time we have an overflow of guests we will definitely be suggesting they stay at the Fontmell, just maybe I can contrive to have dinner there first.

We will be going back now that the pub has finally opened, probably again and again, already I am looking through my diary for an excuse to be taken there.

My Writing

I have an update on my article for the local paper.   The RFU have published October’s issue of their magazine Touchline; also available online.  I couldn’t find it at first until they published another October issue and I realised I was looking through October 2010.   Under Clubs on page 8 is my unadulterated report with the full picture of No 1 Son leading a charge on some unsuspecting opponent.

Another piece added to my growing portfolio, now maybe I need to start making some money from all these publications before Sexy Sporty Dad sends me out to work full time, particularly if I wish to stay at the Fontmell or even visit regularly.


Wicked Mother

That is me not my mother; just in case you were wondering, in the eyes of my children.

I feel that I am quite defensive and proud of my children but there are still times when we do not see eye to eye.  My idea of “For the greater good” is not necessarily their choice of pathway.

Mini son was once an athletic socialite, who could not stay still for one moment.   A footballer for his local team, Saturday mornings would see me drive miles for his matches.  I have stood in pouring rain and sleet cheering his school team on.    He progressed through the levels in swimming not wanting to move from his fabulous teacher who has advanced his confidence as well as stroke.  He is the proud owner of the under 7s “player of the year” rugby trophy which adorns my kitchen unit, and had me again driving all over the county each Sunday morning to watch him tot up tries as he outran all opposition.

In July it all stopped.

We were busy, summer holidays were full of activities to keep him occupied and I was not too upset if he chose to sit out these past times.

September arrived upon us all too quickly and with it Mini Son announced he did not want to do anything.  Now he is happy to miss football training, content to pass up the chance to play rugby and battling valiantly to avoid his swimming lesson.  What has changed?

We did; we finally succumbed, to his pleas and desperation.  He is not a child who wants for much but, he did want a DS because, all his friends had one, both his brothers had one and he was always left out.  The benefits, we thought,  to a long journey if each child has their own entertainment are immense, so it seemed a reasonable request and we acquiesced; buying him the latest model and a couple of games for his birthday.   Since that day in July he has spent a considerable amount of time on his toy.  Naively I thought he was rushing out to play with friends and he was; on his DS which has a link feature and he plays his team games sat on friend’s sofas surrounded by DS playing chums.

Evil as it may seem, particularly if the tears and “I hate yous” are anything to go by.  I have banned him from his beloved DS.   There is however an “unless”; he has to earn the time through some kind of activity, I have not specified which; he can choose.  This week he has joined in with Tag Rugby Club and Simply Football Club after school and splashed and dived for half an hour proving to his teacher he needs to be moved up.  I am happy for him to now play on his DS for the weekend.    He is after all in the school football team for next week’s match.  Not one to gloat too much but the grin on his face as he returned from the clubs and the smile as he once again was allowed without argument to resume his latest DS challenge proves that maybe I am not so horrid.

When are you justified in doubting your child’s motives?

The other day was not really a good day to be stuck indoors learning while the sun was out and the teachers droning on about their boring subjects.  So when I got a text from Middle Son saying he had a headache, I confess I was suspiciously unsympathetic “have a drink” I responded harshly.   The conversation continued via text on the phone he is not allowed in school.  “Come and get me – I will just go to bed”.

I can’t just turn up at the school and say I want to take my son home as he has a headache, and following a few weeks of trying times with some verbal bullying I had my slight doubts as to the severity of the headache.   To be fair he has inherited my propensity to suffer migraines and with the heat and closeness of the atmosphere not only did I too have a headache, I had already sent three children home from my school.

The school phone rang and I answered it.   It was his school, laughing I told her I already knew what she was going to say.  Perfidiously, I asked if she thought he really was ill.

“I have checked his timetable and he doesn’t have science this afternoon, he has just had PE”.  Guilty as I felt, the school were ahead of me and had already checked his timetable; science being the subject with the bullies in.

It made sense that having done PE he probably hadn’t drunk much and probably did have a headache; borne out by him coming home and sleeping all afternoon while his wicked mother went back to work having given him painkillers and penitent sympathy.       Thankfully sleep and quiet is a great healer and he was miraculously recovered when friends came to call after school.

There are times in life when your children make you immensely proud and there are times when you do something to be proud of.   Sometimes they even link together although both of you may not be on the same wavelength.

No 1 Son has been through a long harrowing and painful year of major injury.  His whole life revolves around his rugby and it is a bitter pill when he is unable to play and train with his team.  He has been very brave and patient as his team developed their game and gained success last season.   Towards the latter part of the season he was joining in with the training and even playing the odd training match, but his horrible mother did not relent and allow him to play a proper match.

His consultant finally agreed to allow him to return to his cherished pastime so reluctantly I had no choice but to permit him back on to the pitch.   Under my very protective eye and vocal protestations he played a full match against an unsuspecting opposing side.  I would hope that as he walked off that pitch he felt as much pride as if he had scored the winning try in the world cup final; not because he helped his team to a 40:15 win but because of the personal battles he had overcome to get to that point.

With a relief that only a mother can even begin to imagine I walked away, full of pride and the germ of a story for the local paper.  Pen to paper and some consultation with my new found friend at the RFU and I was able to produce a press release charting his triumphant return to the game.

A child waiting for Christmas day could not have outweighed my anticipation as I waited for the paper to drop through the letterbox on Friday morning.  In my excitement and fear I nearly ripped the paper apart to find it.  Page 105 was a long way through; I should have started with the rugby and sport pages really.

It was there, my article and my photo for the whole of the world to see.

Leading the Tackle

Ok, so they had changed a few words and described his injury in lay man’s terms, added a few extra bits and left out some of my carefully crafted copy and the worse thing of all added a typo to a sentence they added but; it was mine.  They also forgot to credit it to me as they don’t credit any of their stories but I was on top of my world.

I woke Sexy Sporty Dad up as I danced into the room flinging the page at him.  He reluctantly obliged by opening his sleepy eyes, reading and commenting favourably on it.  I forced it under the nose of Number 1 Son who was less than impressed, even to the point of acutely embarrassed.

I was over the moon, another piece to add to my slowly, very some might say, growing portfolio of published writing.   More was to come, my new best friend from the RFU has asked if she can send it into their own magazine “Touchline” for publication.   Do you really think I turned her down?

A wry smile crept over No 1 Son’s face as he told me he was asked “what it is like to be famous?” the following morning at the rugby club.

We sometimes don’t walk along quite the same pathways but parents only do what they see is best for their children; hard and wicked as it may seem in the eyes of their offspring.



I am good at my job; normally within the limited scope I am permitted, I am good at prioritising.

Stress Balls

I have come from a highly charged and pressurised career where I had to deliver accurate and timely financial data onto live systems for immediate dispersal around the world all before 8am in the morning.  I have run my own property management company from home where the discipline of dividing home life and work was paramount to success.   So why now do I find it so difficult to prioritise my writing?

I describe myself in my CV as methodical, organised and accurate, which on the whole I would stand by.  Sexy Sporty Dad might dispute some of these, as he can never find anything on my desk.   I, on the other hand, know exactly which pile to look in to find things, if people would just not move anything around.   I can actually lay my hands immediately on all our passports, medical cards, car insurance with MOT Certificates.  A few weeks ago we were challenged about the extent of our property boundary; I was sadly able to pull out the copy of the deeds to prove the point in question.

An untidy desk is not a mark of an untidy mind.

I confess, although I would never consider myself OCD at anything, I do compartmentalise my time.   I allot time slots for certain jobs, inevitably running over and throwing my time frames awry.  My working hours at the school are easier to adhere to; although it is not in my nature to walk away leaving things unfinished and impossible to leave a crying child.  I have fallen into my own routine and mornings are my special time; no-one in the house is up and probably few people in the town are stirring.   Alone with the early morning Dawn Chorus emanating gently from the surrounding trees, I have gained one, self centred hour every morning for writing.

It doesn’t matter too much what I write but I must write.  E-mails and facebook status updates do not count as writing.   So, yesterday morning, I clambered reluctantly from my large, warm and peaceful bed to stumble downstairs to a cold, miserable morning and lonely desk to spend an hour and a half on Rugby.

I could justify permitting myself to do this;  I was due to finish work at noon and would spend the whole afternoon catching up with myself and my writing,  what a pleasure to look forward to.   I left work late at 1.15 and came home to a stack of more rugby orientated emails which needed immediate attention.   All afternoon I spent scrummaging through fixtures, throwing challenges to the opposition and trying to appease our teams.  Even during the evening whilst I was at a meeting, at guess where, the Rugby Club, Sexy Sporty Dad forwarded a message confirming No 1 Son’s team has a game this weekend.

My novel, it sounds good doesn’t it?  My novel, Memories, lies still unopened with the third draft only partly complete. NANOWRIMO – write a novel in a month (November) is looming hesitantly on the horizon.    I have no short stories to send off to the copious magazines I buy for research or the competitions I dream of entering if not winning.  To cap it all, at the moment, even Middle Son’s under 15’s team still have no game this weekend.  So what was it all for?

Is it just that I can’t say no; does it go deeper into the psyche than a simple word.

My history is littered with extra-curricular clubs and societies; early on it was the socialisation and charitable need that drew my attention.  Latterly, school based committees and now the rugby club are not as much for my benefit as that of my boys.

One Sunday morning a few years ago, I looked round at the family dynamics to realise I had lost my three boys and my husband for good.    Three rugby players and a rugby coach left me deserted every weekend, with nothing in common.  I had a choice: let them go or join them.    Playing rugby was not an option, even watching it as a mother, was a heart rendering pastime I found too difficult.  What was left?  The one thing I was good at: volunteering!    Every organisation can find room for a volunteer and so did the rugby club, the more I did the more I became involved.

Now a few years down the road, only No 1 Son is really playing the game.  I am unable to break the spider’s web of commitment I have invested into his club.  Not while he is still dependent on our support, both financial and parental, can I cut the threads.  He himself is carving a name for himself at the club.  While out injured last season we pushed him to take up refereeing which he is developing as another strand to his rugby career.  A rising star, full of determination to succeed and already being congratulated on his ability and fairness, he has local RFU referees watching and mentoring him.

Of course there are benefits to being involved, free RFU stress balls and with the world cup coming to this country in four years time I am hopeful that my involvement with the club will help me gain a ticket to watch No 1 Son as he plans to play for England at that time.   Although I am not sure I will have overcome my horror at the game or the carnage left behind.  I suspect, No 1 Son will not want his mother screaming at the opposition “get off my son”, instead he will have some gorgeous model hanging round the hospitality suite on my ticket, to soothe his battered and bruised brow.

So just maybe I now know where my priorities lie.  My needs, in my mind, come below that of my children!

The meeting last night did however introduce me to a press officer who gave me tips on match reporting and how to develop a human interest story.   It also left me with a tiny germination of a seed for a story this weekend.

My personal preference is writing and clearly the boys’ priority is fun sports; “never the twain shall meet” or maybe they just did.


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