Mar 27 2014

It costs 40p to piss by Lake Windermere.

If you don’t care about the fact I have just paid 40p to go to the toilet, then look away now. There is no need for you here. I am in the Lake District but fell climbing, the glory of a Lakeland spring or considerations of  the majesty of Nature will be noticeably absent.


If a Golden Eagle landed on my head, I would be too busy muttering to myself about  40p to even notice it. Mind you, suspect the Lake District probably charges a hefty premium for Golden Eagle Head Landings (weather permitting, Orange Zone Only)

We are in Windermere, Bowness to be precise,  Blackpool for the middle-classes and my desperate panic to not pay 40p to use the public toilets after a calm demand from my child resulting in a flurry of dragging him into closed or toilet-less cafes and attractions ends up in me angrily shoving 40p in the toilet  coin machine to find out it is too sodding late.


I used to find 20p an outrageous affront to use a public toilet but now I dream of those halcyon days, a dreamy miasma of well priced toilets, their lids somehow smiling through a peachy mist after paying 40p to remove a pair of wee pants off a child who refuses to take the lollipop out of his mouth during the entire process, a fact definitely noticed by a woman in a headscarf  loitering outside.


Yes, the view is amazing, almost more iMax cinema than actual reality, you expect to see a T-Rex lumber past at some point. That would slightly make up for spending 40p to badly clean up a wee. Slightly. It would probably need to also talk to be fair. The rising snow capped peaks mean nothing to me now. And everything smells slightly like piss.


Genial middle-aged non locals chat to me about my ‘darling child’ as we walk about avoiding the alarming amount of psychotic looking swans. I manage to bring up the fact of the 40p charge to use the toilet at the closest available opportunity. Most people are pleasingly horrified. A few look a bit scared and make an excuse to depart, almost definitely on their way to the Council offices to complain. I work out how much it would cost to come for a day here if heavily pregnant.

Starving, we look for somewhere to eat that we can now afford. A pleasingly ramshackle pub up a side road looks promising until I see the mostly meat based menu. The child is not for turning and I am too weak and tired to fight for now so order chips and a pleasingly ironic kitsch looking starter of chilli cottage cheese on ‘warm pineapple’ with chilli relish and garlic bread.


It is actually strangely OK until I have stopped being hungry and then feel the need to make the child eat something other than chips, ie a bit of pineapple, something that he generally is fond of. He refuses to touch it so lets now fast forward to the bit where we had to leave and where he is lying in the actual road screaming.

I drag him up another side street and there is the sort of pub that you only see in Hardy adaptations on ITV. I offer him the promise of some Bacon Fries if he is good again, pop my name on Worst Mum Ever list and order a large red wine and some Bacon Fries whilst the boy looks nervously at a stuffed fox and the stuffed fox looks nervously back at him.

Everything here is stuffed. If I had a dog, I would take him to the toilet with me to be on the safe side.

I leave the child.

It has been a bad day to be fair.


The poshest people in the world come in and roar at me across the tables. The man is so posh I am still unsure if they were from Wales or Wells. I pretend to be au-fait with both of them to be on the safe side.

They casually order a bottle of not cheap wine and that sort of spreading overly ambitious posh pub sandwich bigger than the average head. I bitterly think they probably have not had a wee in the Bowness public toilet. In my head now is the largesse I could have had if I had not paid 40p to pull off some wee pants.

A raincoated elderly woman shuffles in, head down, sits at a table and drinks a glass of white wine surprisingly quickly before shoving herself silently out of the door again. Posh Friendly Southern Man sagely states, ‘a local. ’ and his wife nods wisely.

The fox says nothing.

Feb 14 2014

Valentines day in Carnforth.

Carnforth, famous for where romance is never consummated. Carnforth, the ‘Before’ pic of a down at heel town in a pretty spot  but where the ‘After’ of mezze platters and chalkboards with ‘to begin..’ menus never quite happens.


But where a new Booths cafe is filled with people with appropriate haircuts for their age enjoying a Welsh Rarebit for £6.95.


Carnforth, squat, grey and stoic where the elderly beam and waggle a walking stick with a dog shaped handle at a strange child, where really good things can be purchased for a pound at a charity shop and if you are lacking in cash,  they will tell you to bring it next time in that old fashioned resolve and faith in humanity.


Carnforth, mired in Late Victoriana, where the rambling second book shop refuses (for now) to break in front of the invisible ubiquitous peril of Amazon. Where the landlord in ‘The Snug’, the tiny CAMRA wet dream of a pub on the station platform remembers me from last time- which was a few months ago- and they sell cheese, crackers and pickle for three quid and a pork pie for two quid and that is pretty much the food menu apart from the large jars of pickled things on the bar.

Where a stranger can  wander into the Brief Encounter refreshment rooms where the fire is always on and a gramophone is always playing, before noon and ask for two whiskies and a teapot of hot water in a voice that suggests Eton more than Lancaster  and then he leaves ten minutes later and you will never know his story.

Carnforth is Brief Encounter and Brief Encounter is Romance.

It is Valentines Day.

I finish my scone and go home.

Feb 8 2014

A lion looking regally towards a motorway near Barrow In Furness

I just don’t like the idea of a zoo and thus far I have not been to one. However The South Lakes Wild Animal Park certainly can’t be a zoo because it clearly states it is a Wild Animal Park and thus we will witness herds of wilderbeest sweeping majestically across the plain.


Also because it lies slightly more towards Barrow In Furness than the actual South Lakes, I presume that because it is February, fucking cold with a hint of torrential downpour and in the North West, that no-one else will be there.

I dislike other people.

 The  other main reason we are there is because it is ‘free’ with a one pound minimum donation as opposed to the normal eye watering costs of any ‘family attraction’ that is heavily glossily pamphleted.

I was not expecting a queue consisting of teenagers in deck shoes being sarcastic and heavily swearing at  each other but it gave me the middle-class Sophies Choice of whether to pay the minimum donation of one pound which the possibly still drunk teenagers were doing or support ‘conservation in action’ and pay more and not look stingy. My moral compass swings wildly between left and right during the queue- we are poor but middle-class- where does that leave us?

I end up bowing down to the many passive aggressive signs about ‘conservation in action’.

The teenager behind the till clearly does not give a fuck about my actually that not generous compared to the normal price donation.

This still keeps me awake at night.


It is  exciting to see a giraffe nearly having a piss on a reindeer but I do not want to spend a tenner on such an ammonia stench it is nearly as bad as being in my own home.


The primates are so awesome, naughty and human that any utter utter cunt that shoots them should be done for murder.

The ones that shoot the lions and tigers should be just fed to them.

The lion managed to look exotic,regal and sorrowful whilst staring meaningfully towards a large road nearby.  The royal family have never managed this.


I utterly identified with the Sloth with its rough dry hair and slow sad ambivalence. Its opposite was the pacing jaguar roaring against a window of excited sightseers, its pure fury at being watched causing more of an audience. I felt guilty watching it, a voyeur.

Never order chips at the Cafe Maki.

You will watch a confused young girl battle against the plastic fronds of palm trees, walking up and down, up and down with your overpriced chips (two sachets of condiments free, the following ones 10p per sachet ) becoming colder by the second as you frantically beckon and wave for your food underneath a over-sized leaf whilst  making frantic hooting noises and waving your arms in the air as people who paid the minimum donation of a  pound to enter the park, stare at you in horror and fascination and the phone cameras come out  as you gurn and scream, gurn and scream…

Jan 22 2014

Casual racism and excellent cannelloni in Coniston

I hate the word ‘staycation’. You don’t actually give a flying fuck about the environment, you either can’t afford to go to Croatia but are too middle-class to admit it or you can’t cope with the thought of taking a weekend somewhere without your bloody canoes. Either of which, I pretty much loathe you.

Now don’t get me onto glamping, you Eurohike snubbing wankers happy to fork out five hundred quid for some battery operated LED lights wrapped around a sheepskin rug and a cafetiere in the morning. It is not Glamping. It is not glamorous. Especially if you need a poo at four am and you are in a field. You will realise that you are a moron. And I will smile. Except I won’t because that would mean I was there and that would be genuinely unpleasant for everyone concerned.


To make a refreshing change from me writing about being in a pub somewhere vaguely local, Unicycle Emptiness is on holiday!

On holiday somewhere an hour away from my house! One day my loyal readers will all get together and pay for my passport to be renewed but until then, you have to put up with me being withering in possibly the exact same terms I have used before about the price of a large house red in the North West of England.


If it makes you feel better, I will not talk about the price of a large house red in the terms I would normally use if writing about somewhere in the Morecambe Bay area. ‘FUCKING HELL’ is not normally shouted aloud, repeated more quietly yet rapidly whilst the head slowly shakes and then repeated again in a swoon and a sweat in the early hours of the morning.


We are in the Lake District, Coniston to be precise and it is utterly utterly gorgeous.


It is nestled quietly on a valley floor with mountainous crags, fells and hills so luminous and close I am suddenly back looking through one of those red 3D viewers of my childhood and thus am suddenly concerned a T-Rex might burst through the over-vibrant shrubbery.


The hotel we are staying at due to the kindness of in-laws and and a promotion on an internet voucher website is lovely, faded regal grandeur, over five pounds for a single G and T, tartan carpets and a sense of guilt for being here for such a reasonable price.


It is the last time something is a reasonable price. If anyone reading this has spent time at a festival or motorway services,  I am sure they identify with the prisoner shock of the outrageous price, then the  slowly used to it then the Something that  would normally  also be an outrageous price but slightly less so, seems like a almost bargain. Supermarkets also do this. The Conservatives do this but with policies.


£12 is the standard price for a normal pub meal in Coniston and over £5 for a glass of house red.  As we are vegetarian, we don’t get the heady thrill of a whole tasty dead thing in some flattering sauce, but some cubed sauced vegetables with garlic bread. As we are vegetarian, it’s our own fault for not eating meat completely and it is also a happy thing to see rural pubs actually having a vegetarian option rather than ‘fuck off’ or ‘you can have the vegetables instead-same price though’ (Uffculme, Devon-1999 ) plus excellent cider makes up for well pretty much everything ever.


And pretty much everything in the world becomes a minor quibble when you walk through a calendar landscape, late January becomes a glorious thing here without aggressive Volvo drivers with their precious canoe cargoes barging you off the road, the sun’s reflection on the mountains make them dark and sombre, then a sudden luminous gold in the space of a second, every pub has a fire and a dog and every path leads to beauty.

The Green Housekeeper cafe (all cheese scones as big as your head and old ‘Private Eyes’) has a supper club with 15.99 for two courses and byo wine. We venture in and it is wonderful, cosy, unusual and friendly with superb food (including vegetarian)  an outside loo clad in damp maps, and a pleasing amount of fairy lights and fake grass.

After leaving full of genial chat with lovely staff and customers, to a pub on the way ‘home’, it is surprising to suddenly hear in the actual middle of nowhere, people being cross about England being too full.

‘In Malaysia yeah, the mother can’t afford food, the child dies. But here, we’re a fucking soft touch- it’s true, a man from Malaysia said it to me.’


The welcoming beauty of the Lake District surround this little town of Coniston ensnared between lake and hill, where about half the houses are holiday houses, the other half probably worth over 200 grand. But still the delighted terror of the prospect of a mosque on top of the Old Man of Coniston.

Another pub has a cat which follows me to the loo. All pubs should have this option. It could save a fortune on loo roll.

I do not want to leave here- I want to stay sitting on my gritty mini-beach overlooking a mountainous Nirvana and a sweep of water stretching as far as the eye can see. I hope one day a mosque will twinkle at me. Just out of spite really.


Jan 12 2014

A cairn, an ambiguous stone circle and the hum of the motorway.

I have been craving a wintery landscape for a long time. Since the episode of the broken foot, I have looked longingly at the black spidery outline of trees against the bleak sky outside my badly double glazed window and yearned yearned yearned to be outside battering against the elements feeling the chill in my face before accidentally  eating more Wotsits and passing out in front of a Poirot I have seen a concerning amount of times before.

The cast has just come off- I have a strangely immobile unflexible foot like something badly grafted onto me by a freelance student doctor from the past or the NHS of the future and have been told to take it easy but I have been immersing myself in history books and folklore (along with Wotsits and obsessive Facebook refreshing ) and am resolute on going to the alleged site of a ruined stone circle and cairn near Carnforth.


I have not been out for a while so dress the part in a see through Calvin Klein peasant dress with attractive boots underneath. I have sadly forgotten how fucking cold Outside is and the look is ruined by the running nose and pronounced limp.


Yealand Conyers is the sort of little higgledy piggledy village from the past that makes you smile to think that Real Countryside still exists until you see that the darling tiny cottage on the road is up on Rightmove for nearly 300 grand, you can still vaguely hear the motorway but also the monotonous bang  of some wax clad wanker killing an animal somewhere nearby. Still love it though- an architectural mishmash of centuries ambling pretting along a winding road with a backdrop of hills, fields and the Lake District mountains. People smile and say hello and the village school looks like the mystical sort of primary school which doesn’t feature a crudely etched ejaculating penis somewhere in the vicinity.

The Quaker Meeting House is the closest I have ever felt close to embracing religion with its trusting open bookshelves to borrow from in an empty room. The graves sadden me though with their disrespect for mawkishness and base thrills. Just a name and the dates. Far too respectful and tasteful. Every graveyard aficionado knows the greatest pleasure is the occasional gravestone pronouncing ‘Murder!’ or ‘Drowned at Sea’. A grisly guilty pleasure for those who refuse to read ‘Pick Me Up’ but a few  hundred years makes an badly timed death romantic and scholarly.


The stone circle and cairn on Summerhouse Hill is exciting in its ambiguity. It looks like a stone circle but it has been disputed and depleted. The views stretch for miles, the sea combining into sky- at this distance Morecambe looks romantic.  The cairn is definitely a cairn despite the surprising inclusion of a few red bricks and the stone circle a gap toothed Shane Macgowan grin.


I am so cold I want to die and the many divots in the soil have caused anguish, pain  and confusion to a foot I had decided was definitely healed.

I  peer and scratch in the many molehills in the hope the past will be opened up to me by a helpful mole. The helpful moles just give me stones and the terror I missed something and then will maybe see someone smugly gurning on the front cover of the Westmorland Gazette holding proudly aloft one of the pieces of stone I chucked sulkily away.

This is not helped by seeing some men definitely not wearing see through Calvin Klein metal detecting the area with a fast decisive sweep whilst I am peering at a cowpat and shivering with my boobs hanging out.


I decide to go to the pub.

The New Inn at Yealand Conyers is the sort of pub that used to exist in the countryside before they were all bought out, Farrow and Balled and almost impressively over-priced.

Fortunately the New Inn seems to have resisted this- my child’s hot chocolate comes with more chocolate and lollipops on the side than he had on Christmas day with the occasional bar of Cadburys Fudge casually plopped on his saucer. Polite well behaved dogs eat the complimentary dog food by the roaring wood burner and there is a pleasing amount of animal skulls on the wall and some excellent looking vegetarian meals on the menu for well under a tenner.

I go as usual for the chips and wine option but will be back to this little cosy place where history abounds, the sky streaks across Morecambe Bay  and a nut roast and trimming comes to 6.99.

Next time I shall wear a cardigan and find some treasure.

Dec 26 2013

I am one legged in a small Scottish town

It is rare to purchase something for 2p.

 I am in Gatehouse of Fleet, a place I have written about before but been too lazy to tag so it is up to you to search the bloggy annals of ramblings about places where ghosts have not been seen but where wine and cheesy chips were purchased. I suspect no-one can actually be arsed to do this which leaves me free to repeat myself with gay abandon like an elderly man staring at the fire, reminiscing and unaware that no-one is still in the room.


Which is pretty much what having a blog is all about.


I love Gatehouse of Fleet. I would live here apart from the small fact there are few jobs to be had in the immediate district – and when I say immediate district I mean about fifty miles.  That has its compensations- a detached farmhouse nearby is up for rent with 6 bedrooms, two receptions, wood burner and two bathrooms for 600 quid a month. Knowing the area, there will be no drawback, everything and everywhere is so stunning here it feels like being in a permanent  Famous Grouse photo shoot.


After a particularly filthy episode of living in an over capacity houseshare in the less rarified surroundings of Haringey, North London, I had always lived in terror of living in another house and random people from Australia on the sofa-share but this time looking at the details, I am almost tempted. Until I remember bitemarks in my Orange Kwiksave cheese and the actual cardboard tube being used as a wipe in the absence of an actual toilet roll in the sticky hair rimmed toilet.


Gatehouse of Fleet is a solid stoic little town in the middle of ancient forests, moors and mountains. Red squirrels, red kites and wide grey skies. It has gentrified itself, the industrial heritage has been replaced by the ubiquitous  classy bronze hares, felt brooches via a  couple of tiny art galleries and shops along with a Spar with a glass counter of greying or luminous coloured  pastry. There is only ever a queue  at the Spar.

It is literally Wickman country- most of the film was set around the outlying areas.


And today, I have gone there on crutches due to navigating a curb on a works do and somehow breaking my foot.

I limp into the charity shop, people flock to open the door, take my bag and ask me what happened. I thank my lucky stars it was not a result of domestic violence but suspect if it had been I would have been offered a room at ‘Jean’s house- don’t you worry my pet’.


Whilst humping awkwardly around the wonderful over-full haphazard charity shop of glory, every single person in there talks to me about my accident.

I buy…the Virago Book of Ghost Stories, a lovely heavy coloured glass bottle with stopper, a very cool baseball hat ( seen later on ebay international for 40 dollars) a Thomas the tank engine dressing gown, a squeaky banana and a leather belt. It costs 1.80. I have change from a two pound coin.

I limp along the high street. A Land Rover stops and a man with a rich Scottish accent leans over to tell me how well I am doing and asks how it happened. A car behind him has stopped and I am nervous because the Landrover is blocking the road and she must be well pissed off.

No. She has waited until he left, calling out ‘Merry Christmas’ whilst smoking because she wants to pull in alongside me to see if I need my Christmas shopping done as she is ‘ off to town anyway’or if she can give me a lift anywhere.


It is 2013 and these places still exist.

It suddenly actually feels like Christmas.

Nov 17 2013

Anger In Ambleside

Watching Father Christmas turn on the lights in Ambleside is a serious business. At one point I fear for our lives. Then I fear for our such utterly unglamorous deaths.

There is a woman, mid fiftiesish, one of those women who has probably always looked in her mid fifties from the moment she was born and she is worried, very worried about the ‘kiddies.’


It all started when we, being aimless agenda-less sheep not particularly wanting to go home,  shuffled around Amblesides’ many bunting-clad  attractions.


We harked at the waterfall trail, went for a walk along clearly designated tracks and ate more calories than we actually expended upon the walk in a very good vegetarian restaurant that we couldn’t strictly afford.


But we didn’t care!


The Lake District economy exists to cosset and pander you and make you feel you have been for a jolly good walk when all that has actually happened is that you have spent a large amount of money on unflattering primary coloured clothes that rustle then gone for an amble roughly as long as an Urban stroll between TK Maxx and Nandos in any city anywhere.


There are jolly looking ruddy people with walking poles in the town. There are no people walking in the surrounding fells. Well, not many, I did hear the occasional rustle though.


Anyway, we ambled, ate and spent our non-disposable income.


Then an event! People flock to line the street and as we are English, so do we.

Children smile, branded waterproof clothing blinds the eyes and the aesthetic sense but then the crime.


People move forwards in excitement at seeing the ‘procession’, the slowly moving chariot of ‘Father Christmas’ led by two dispirited reindeer, Father Christmas throwing ‘magic glitter’ to turn on the Christmas lights followed by a slight delay before the lights turn on.

But  Middle-Aged Woman is Not Happy. We are. We smile and cheer because its Christmas! Sort of, not yet but it is certainly a festive occasion but Middle-Aged Woman is muttering darkly about people who might have not waited as long as we have, potentially ‘standing in front of the kiddies’.


Her frantic mutters get more and more anxious and threatening as the crowd politely builds, not in front of the kiddies. My child starts crying, not because he is also concerned about this ominous possibility but because he wants to ‘go to a shop.’ She swoops in, I begin to tell her why he is actually crying but her mind is made up. She isn’t listening, she has already identified the burning problem. My child is definitely crying because someone is standing in front of him. They aren’t but that is not the point. She has been waiting all night, possibly all year for such an occasion.

‘It’s a shame, such a shame’, she cries. ‘Poor little kiddies have been waiting so long for this.’


A young unthreatening couple in branded waterproofs stop just briefly in the crowd free road in front of us.

That is enough.


‘Sorry, sorry, you have to move, the kiddlies, the kiddies have been waiting for this for so long.’


She physically swoops them away back to the No-mans Land without such a clear vista of the dejected looking reindeer, camera’s jumping around their shocked expensively jacketed necks.

I suspect she may well be shaking and tonight she will not sleep well.

Oct 31 2013

Yesterday, I failed to climb Pendle Hill and didn’t see a ghost.

I love Halloween. I do. I love the smell of decay, the fact that parents are dressing up their children to look like they are dead and gravestones saying RIP adorn Specsavers windows.

I love reading the newspapers ‘Top Ten Haunted Places’ and goshing and gasping at haunted places I have been to and never witnessed a ghost.

I love that slight sense of anarchy, the shock and awe at seeing a broken egg on the pavement,  the sudden collective worship of death by large supermarket chain-stores and ITV breakfast television.


Most days are my Halloween, I tend to lurk in semi-darkness reading MR James but that is mostly because I have very inferior carpets so a low light is more flattering and hides the stains.

The Number One most haunted place now suddenly according to a possibly hastily produced unscientific article in The  Independent is Pendle Hill.


I have tried climbing its summit before two years ago but on a suddenly boiling day with a small fair child wrapped so badly in a sling, they risked a sudden immediate propulsion to another country, it was merited a bad idea by everyone but me.


I shall try again.


We drive through the Trough Of Bowland on the way to our epic climb. Halfway along, the toddler projectile vomits and by the time we have cheaply and badly dressed him from  charity shops in Clitheroe, the time left to climb Pendle Hill before the oncoming rain drenches us has evaporated.

Never mind! We shall go on the Pendle Sculpture trail instead!


I fail to see most of the sculptures due to oncoming rain drenching us.


But I have my lucky ticket! A ticket to a paranormal investigation in the Judges Lodgings in Lancaster, the place where the Witch Hunter Thomas Covell, lived, died and still, according to many, still resides.

I have never been on one of these tours before and I utterly expect something, just something, fake or not to occur. The tour through the Judges Lodgings and the hidden cellars with the narrative revolving around mania, misery, witches and death made me happy to be alive, guilty for revelling in past misfortunes and utterly fucked off that no ghostly entity was around to tell me that the main aim of the afterlife was probably not to leave marks in carefully placed trays of  flour.

The fact ‘nothing’ happened made me trust in the tour, believe in the narrative as they did not produce or fake a sighting,  just used the past, the actual real past to create a horror far more terrifying than any amount of cheap witches outfits made in China,purchased in Lancashire and worn by grinning children in Lancaster Caster gurning and giggling by the dungeons.


Now they are a tourist attraction, Mother Demdike (who died in a pitch black cell) is now a hook nosed jolly woman used by the council to entice children to pay an entrance fee to make fake spells with a friendly cackling witch underneath some  bats made out of bin bags.

Past agony is a fun for all affair and I am complicit in that. Because what I love the most about Halloween is that sudden  glimmer into the past, the shaky candles, the tiny procession and the small flicker of a fire somewhere.

Oct 29 2013

Dyspraxia part 2. Or I have not been anywhere on a train recently.

I have not been on a local train recently.

Normally this blog is about cheaply accessible yet ignored places in the North West, the unshining,  ancient,  unsung, or indeed just anywhere I have actually been in the last month.

A week ago,  I sat and thought of where to go with a zig-zagging Smartie stained toddler, no driving licence and so little money left in the bank, the thought of checking the balance left a sick hollow feeling  more akin to an immediate death in the family.


We went to the Lancaster Maritime Museum. Again. I have already written about the Maritime Museum. Lovely as it is, if I am slightly bored of hurtling around the  Maritime museum led by a hysterical toddler whose main aim in life is to ensure no-one else is sitting in ‘his’ MDF stagecoach.


However, this week  my confidence was shaken to the very core by a particularly  stupid mistake I had made at work and so I shook the demons out by writing about it.

Once I started, the words flowed to the point I had to halt myself as who wants to read about a clumsy stranger being clumsy? And when I say ‘flowed’. I mean clumsily stabbed finger by finger but it still managed to write itself.


My dyspraxia doesn’t define me but I worry about what is me and what is dyspraxia? I get upset about something I have buggered up, the Marble Run falls down, I go the shop to get milk but come back with a kite from the charity shop instead- what is me being me being a normal person making mistakes, forgetting and being rather random in thought and process versus actual dyspraxia?

I am scared I make excuses due to my dyspraxia and thus my innate nervousness  when it might be the actual Me to blame and also vice-versa.

So many times, people have dismissed my almost ‘confession’ of dyspraxia but hey, sometimes I don’t believe in it myself.  So many times at places of work, I have told people, they listen, smile and are quietly sympathetic, understanding until on their bequest I staple up displays of work at a unnatural angle. I try. I step back. I look. It looks just fine to me. It really does. No-one seems to get that though. I try to atone for my sin. I do it again. It looks just fine to me. It really does.


Dyspraxia is exhausting. With a toddler and a job, it is a small  obstacle which leaves you utterly drained.

A stranger will notice your child has the wrong wellies on each foot. The jellyish consistency of wellies leaves me flummoxed. They look the same to me.


I have strategies- I prepare everything the night before but somehow one shoe will always stray during the night. There will be no bras in the house.


And the toddler will want me to help with his marble run.

God help me.


Because EVERYTHING is fucking difficult. A rendition of ‘ 1, 2, 3 4, 5. Once I caught a fish alive’, with the finger movement. I can’t move my fingers to the song. I hear the song, it travels to my fingers and then thirty sad seconds later my fingers start to move.


I am out of sync with the world.


Due to Mumsnet promoting my blog, I have read some lovely understanding comments by people with dyspraxic children. I am so happy they recognise the condition.  Being recognised is the main thing, it has taken a long time for it to happen. No-one understood me when I was forced into Netball, my hands waving desperately before my face far too early or far far too late, my body with its own slow motion footage sadly slowly traversing down my veins,  whilst the event had already happened, I still optimistically held my hands open for the ball that was already in the goal.


It took me three hours to write this despite touch typing lessons from the internet . I still want to write though.


But out of all things I advise getting  a camera or a decent camera phone. It is a quick way of taking control of your surroundings, using your imagination, being the boss of yourself in a split second. I have never used a zoom or any posh camera, never had the confidence.  I got a decent camera phone and now I can go out and take shots and they are generally of utterly mundane things but the fact I , all by myself have worked out an angle to make them interesting pleases me. People rarely feature. Pigeons do.


I  like pigeons.


And I still will write about the unloved and the unrecognised from a position that recognises and appreciates the beauty in the mundane and  the ‘abnormal’


One confusion with the mechanism of a gate on a walk is something most people are used to.

Now make it constant.


Make the familiar the unfamiliar all the time.

I am a human being. I am a mother. I am other.


I shall continue to nervously get on a train, to go places, to seek out standing stones and good charity shops. I prefer to immerse myself in history rather than the present, knowing full well that to the average historical person, the occasional dropping of a cup of Mead was probably  not nearly as agonising a thought as being dead of Syphilis or starvation. The dead don’t judge me though.

My toddler didn’t until I bought him a Marble Run.

Oct 24 2013


I am on at the bottom of the escalator with my toddler. There are our four feet waiting to tread on the moving stairs. I can’t do it. I really can’t. I panic, pull my toddler towards them but then drag him back because I cannot possibly visualise getting four feet onto the constantly  moving stairs. I think people might be watching and am nervous.


I am not a normal human being.


To my two year old, the escalator is exciting. To me, it is an obstacle that must be challenged. It moves whilst my feet want to move and I can’t work out or comprehend how to combine the two. Add some tiny welly clad legs that also move of their own accord and I am flummoxed, scared, so many things going on at once that need to move in one fluid quick motion. I grab him again and he steps on confidently and easily whilst I pile on behind in an uneasy flurry of two many feet and nerves. We have done it. Now at what point do I consider stepping off when nearing the top? The more you think about it, the worse it becomes and the stairs are slowly  beginning to flatten.


I am dyspraxic.


Even in my head, despite the test that confirmed it, the small tap to the base of my spine which made me fall over, the word sounds like an excuse. Clumsy, stupid, thick. Words that I imagine the whole world has always said about me and which many people probably have.


It is a relatively new word to an old condition but people are suspicious of new words, think they are an excuse for bad behaviour or stupidity, maybe something invented by a Labour government as an exercise in political correctness to absolve bad parenting and dim children.


I have a degree but struggle with putting five fingers into a glove. When those fingers are not mine, it is impossible.


Recently, at work, I utterly buggered up an observed lesson involving lines of symmetry.  I was not the one being observed as I am a teaching assistant but without the mirrors used in the previous lesson, I was completely unable to visualise the opposite of a shape and thus when a child made a mistake, in my head it was correct as I could not see differently, could not visualise it. I can write a thousand words far more easily than  folding a  trapezium  in my head.


When realising my mistake, I corrected it and explained that I was wrong but saying it was due to dyspraxia was virtually impossible to the teacher let alone a child.

 But it took a lot of effort for me not to burst into tears of guilt and self-hate.

If a child has special needs, there is quite rightly support available for them but what happens when they leave school or college?

Special needs do not just dissipate once a child is out of school uniform and not every adult with special needs is easily identifiable. I have Fly London boots and a designer coat, I might look normal, confident, assured but a  fuzzy voice overhead telling passengers for  Bristol Temple Meads to now go immediately to Platform 1B for Wolverhampton instead of the platform I am already waiting on? I am terrified, confused.


I can’t distinguish in a panic my left from my right. North, South, East and West have always been utterly alien concepts to me. My visual memory of where I have been is poor and I can have a long conversation with someone one day and not recognise their face the next. I can look at a pigeon’s gnarled foot on a train platform, think about, write about, even photograph it but I always only seem to see the small scale detail in a panorama, not the whole of it, I drift through life in a nervous panic, too scared to try to achieve anything higher than just not looking like like an absolute fucking idiot in front of strangers.


I know deep down I could achieve more. But so many small constant fuck ups, so many lost things, so many forgotten things, so many lost memories  leaves you with an utter sense of hopelessness and doubt. I have fucked up today, I will probably fuck up tomorrow.

But I will I go out. I have my child and his constant confident forays into the world and so I will get on a train for him. I will have rechecked the timetable several times and my heart will be pounding.


But despite it all, despite the terror and panic, I love exploring and so does he.

And now I have a glove-less two year old to tell me where Platform 2b is.