Wall wisdom


“We only want to be happy!” (on my way to work)

Summer is slowly losing ground.

Tonight is hot, thunder echoes down the mountains, drowning out the rain’s gentle music on the roof. The children have only been back at school for three weeks, our new routine is still getting ironed out, I’m already feeling knackered.

I like my job, but it is crazy: There are twelve of us in the team, and everyone requires some level of care and attention- on top of my workload. When I get home, two children need my care and attention. In between, there are school meetings, sign-ups for activities, a car to service, medical appointments, bills to pay, no more clean socks in my son’s drawer. I have a headache, my sprained ankle is still hurting, and my knee has decided to join in for a laugh. I no longer have time to shave my legs: I wear trousers.

Days fly by in a haze of furious activity. I no longer read, write, play the guitar, or watch the first stars blink over the mountains. At night, I don’t feel much more than bone tired.

Still, the children seem happy enough, Mr Xmas keeps helping with some school pick-ups, my mum came to stay for a couple of days to give me a breather. And honestly, it’s not as if I feel unhappy. I just don’t have time for that.

Every morning as I cycle past this strangely poetic wall on my way to work, I am reminded that all any of us wants is to feel happy. Rather annoyingly, I no longer seem to have much time for that either…

Major Lazer – Powerful

The princess who fell off her bike

fashion statement… And badly sprained her ankle.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, stop sniggering, it could happen to anyone.

So erm, moving on: Last week, in a daring streak of supermarket psychology brilliance, I worked out that my three latest exes T, Mr Nice and Mr Xmas all fancied themselves as knights in shiny armours, rescuing me from the shackles of single-motherhood-singledom to become universally worshipped fatherly figures. Except that becoming universally-worshipped fatherly figures turned out to be too hard, so off they went…


Well, not fine, really, but whatever.

Well perhaps not whatever either, because, as fellow blogger That Precarious Gait accurately pointed out, what was my role in all this?

She’s right, what was I doing?

Name: Lady E

Occupation: Lapsed scientist, lapsed science communication specialist, accidentally turned international relation-ist.

Looks: Short, slight, dark-ish. Currently looking dangerously attractive in a one-legged, strap-on-cast fashion.

Likes: Summer, sitting on a beach, messing son’s hair, mum’s lasagna, having friends around, gardening, cream tea, scribbling dodgy sketches.

Dislikes: Bad weather, supermarket baguettes, coffee, mushrooms, people who decide not to vaccinate their children because, you know, it’s not naaatural.

What made her attractive: Contagious smile, awesome chocolate mousse, kind, stable.

What makes her unattractive: Well, I could go on and on with a list of flaws I see in myself, including being late, moody pre-period, insecure, short-fused and shouty when I’m tired, but don’t know what did it for my exes. None of them had anything to say about me. All they could articulate was about family life being too much.

Baggage: Anxious parents, anxious streak. Childhood-rooted fear of abandonment, compounded by experience in a few significant romantic relationships. Wobbly self-esteem.

Said baggage would explain why I unconsciously tend to doubt my ability to attract anyone permanently, and thus favour men who display rapid signs of commitment (by the way, that’s another spot-on hint from That Precarious Gait). So, that’s the ones who are totally smitten, rapidly want to settle down and have a family. They all give me a sense of security I fail to give myself.


So theoretically, all I have to do is find enough security in myself to counter the inevitable uncertainties of relationships, especially the new-ish ones. Piece of cake, right? While some people love the unknown and accompanying butterflies, I just get scared senseless. And it feels like each repetition of the whole abandonment trauma has heightened the fear.

Ow, great then, sounds like I might have to stay single for the next 60 years or so…

Because whilst I am a wiz in the garden, no amount of mulching and composting seems to have had much effect on the self-reassurance / security I have been trying to grow for a few years…

So if you happen to have any green-fingered tips on how to grow your sense of security, and manage your fear of abandonment in relationships, I’d love to hear them!

Right. This song’s had me dancing uncontrollably (yes, on one leg) lately. Oooh yeah ! :)

Sugar how you get so fly?

Sugar how you get so fly?

Robin Schulz – Sugar

The knights who say no – part 2

There’s nothing like a bit of people-watching, fluffy magazine reading, or supermarket psychology musing, when you’re idly sitting on a beach… Which is what I did in copious amounts over my recent holiday, leading to the previously dazzling profiles of my exes.

Anyway, huhuhu, next instalment (hold-on to your seats, a psychology Nobel prize might have to be created): I have brilliantly worked out something T, Mr Nice and Mr Xmas all had in common.

They really fancied themselves as knights in shiny armours, rescuing a hapless princess.

How they thought it would be 1

The thing is that T, Mr Nice and Mr Xmas don’t really like themselves, and conversely really liked the idea of being knights in shiny armours, especially family knights, because it would make them feel all saintly, worthy and good.

how they thought it would be 2

Needless to say that I am no hapless princess, but a perfectly capable one thank-you-very-much, even though I admit to some degree of fraying around the edges.How it really was

So family knights they became, which was quite nice, if I’m honest.

how it actually was 2

Until they worked-out that being family knights was not exactly how they had imagined it based on, you know, car and holiday villa adverts…

In fact, being family knights turned out to be quite hard work and boring after a while, because you can’t really go out every night as you please, there may be nappies to change, pesky people wanting your attention even when you’ve had a hard day at work and just want to collapse on the couch to watch game of thrones and eat pizza out of the box. That sort of unbearable disappointment.

Meanwhile, I’d wanted a boyfriend, not a hero, and strongly believed relationships need constant tweaking so that everyone’s needs can be met; so it wasn’t like I had them chained to the stove or banned from having their own lives.

Still, the car-advert promise was shattered, disappointment set in, and they started resenting being family knights, as well as feeling bad about themselves for failing to be heroic.

And because feeling bad about yourself is no fun, they eventually had some kind of brutal a-ha moment when they decided that in fact, our relationship was the source of all evil and must be disposed of rapidly.

Clever clogs.

The end

So there. I seem to attract men who convincingly really, really, really like the stability and security they see in me, as well as the idea of having a family with me, but end up saying “actually, you know what, I don’t think this life fits me, feels a bit too tight, makes me look kind of bloated… Can I send it back to the shop?”, which is when I say something to the effect of “No bloody way. We’ve had a baby together / blended families / moved in together. This is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty”


So what does that teach me for the future? Mmmwell, I’m not quite sure… That I should steer away from men who like the idea of family life? That I should never ever have a baby / blend families / move in with someone who really, really, really likes me ?

Err…, have you got any slightly more convincing lessons to suggest?

The knights who say no – part 1

Over my three week holiday, I have been able to do a lot of sleeping, swimming, and abso-blinkin-lutely nothing. Which was abso-blinkin-lutely marvelous on account of the school year being a sort of gigantic marathon.

Somehow, my mind  also used some of this unusual leisure to mull over…. well things, you know, such as the intriging fact that since 2008 I have been in failed relationships with the three men below, who in many ways can be seen as really nice. I can be seen as really nice too, so whatever happened that things went so not-nice between us?

This is the first of a two-part post, where main characters are introduced.

Name : T


  • Occupation: Hospital heartthrob (occasionally doubles as intensive care and anaesthesia specialist)
  • Looks: Tall, dark , sporty, handsome, hence main occupation (handsome salary to boot)
  • Likes: Extreme sports, money, partying, himself
  • Dislikes: Being late, his dad, himself
  • What made him attractive: Scary intelligence, ability to turn on the charm and be irresistible, determination that I was his future wife and mother of his children
  • What makes him unattractive: Selfish, unstable, tight-fisted
  • Baggage: Identical twin brother died aged 5 months, severely depressed mother, adulterous, absent father, parents’ very messy divorce

Name: Mr Nice, aka Mr Big Bastard From Hell

Mr Nice

  • Occupation: High school PE teacher
  • Looks: Tall, fair, sporty, handsome
  • Likes: Salsa, his job, rugby, handball, football, travelling
  • Dislikes: Any limit to his sacro-saint freedom, his dad (or worships him, depends…), responsibilities
  • What made him attractive: Sexy in a skinny way, perceptive, generous
  • What makes him unattractive: Unstable, selfish, not the sharpest tool in the box intelligence-wise
  • Baggage: Severely depressed mother, adulterous, absent father, having to be in charge of his little brothers, parents’ messy divorce

Name: Mr Xmas

Mr Xmas

  • Occupation: Physicist, turned computer modeller
  • Looks: Tall, dark, bulky, sporty
  • Likes: Science, swimming, programming, music, cinema
  • Dislikes: Lies, injustice, aggression
  • What made him attractive: Kind, even-tempered, clever, seriously loved me
  • What makes him unattractive: Unstable because of chronic depression, hasn’t cut the chord
  • Baggage: Chronic depression sufferer, family history of severe depression and anxiety, depressed mother, absent father working too much

So three nice men who all turn out to be unstable, six depressed mums and absent dads. I seem to favour tall, sporty looking guys. What else?

Next in this supermarket psychology series, what these very different relationships may have had in common, and what can I learn from it for the future.



This week I have been blessed with forgetting.

Not my usual where-on-Earth-have-I-left-my-phone (oh, and the charger, and the canteen bill?), but the rare gift of has-there-really-ever-been-another-day-than-today oblivion.

In fact, get that: I managed to entirely forget the past year…

And nope, it did not involve half a gallon of rum and passing out with cocktail olives up my nose.

Which is impressive, because even by my standards, the last twelve months have been pretty hairy.

Say, if I were to produce a dodgy Xmas present calendar with pictures illustrating each month, there could be: Mr Nice and I crying over our separation and the death of my children’s pet Guinea pig (August 2014), Mr Nice changing his locks and turning into Mr Big Bastard From Hell (September 2014), me frowning over a job application (anytime beween July 2014 and February 2015), meetings at the bank attempting to fit a size 12 budget into a future size 6 income (November 2014), piles of unfinished work and a ticking clock (finishing my old job, Jan-Feb 2015), an idiot’s guide to international relations (starting new job just as Mr Xmas plunges into depression, March), a bottle of Sauternes and foie gras (to celebrate my promotion, April), an idiots’ guide to surviving hierarchy overload, stress at work and single parenthood (May to July), a blown gasket for Mr Xmas (June).

Although I have to admit that I wouldn’t know a gasket -let alone a blown gasket- from a garden gnome.

Anyway, this week, no shade of work, blown gaskets or big bastards. Nope.

Toulouse 1I righted the world’s wrong with friends near Toulouse, until far too late in the night to cope with energetic offspring in the morning.

Watched my son’s delighted fishing despite his refusal to touch anything on the hook (bait or fish).

Watched my daughter go down the water slide all by herself for the first time.

Chuch bell CorbièresListened to the church bell ring out the slowing down hours, in a quaint village of the ruggedly beautiful Corbières.

Cooked with only a microwave for three days (a challenge)

Counted the number of mosquito bites behind my right knee (8, a record)

Listened to my children fight over three hours of jammed traffic and torrential downpour between Narbonne and Montpellier. Fantasised about heavy-duty parcel tape, gags, and James Bondey-type cars where you press a button and a sound/bullet-proof glass partition buzzes up between the front and back seats.

Saw a lot of relatives and was stunned by how much their children have grown. A mystery of the universe (apart from the disappearance of anti-matter): How do I keep forgetting that other people’s children grow up too?

GuardiansWatched Camarguese cowboys near Montpellier herd bulls through the streets at high speed (and yeah, I didn’t fancy getting too much closer as I took this shot). It’s a local festive tradition. So is drinking neat Pastis.

So there. It has been a busy, and lovely week to round off my Summer break. Tonight, I will be driving North one last time, and going back to work tomorrow. I haven’t started loading the car and think I may varnish my nails. Anyone mentionned denial?

Madilyn Bailey – Radioactive

A nice cover, which keeps playing on the radio this Summer, and my children like to sing along to when they’re not fighting.

Not sick of holiday snaps?

Corbières IMG_1780 Corbières


Swimming kiddos

Swimming smurfs

I am swimming Southwards, and as the joyful hum of the beach recedes, the sea’s wet clapping quietness surrounds me.

The water is warm, the sun gently leaning to the West. I feel a timid kind of happiness.

Not the heavy-duty, my-life-is-so-fecking-perfect-I could-die variety, but nevertheless, a thin, fragile, in-spite-of-everything-I-am-still-standing (well, strictly speaking, I tend not to swim standing, but you get my drift) and-right-this-second-life-is-sort-of-close-to-perfect kind. Which all things considered, is pretty good.

I see three main reasons for this:

  1. Yeeeeeesss, hallelujah, at long last, I am on holiday! In fact, I am somewhere around halfway through my 3-week break, and work (what work?) feels mercifully far away.
  2. My antidepressant is good shit.
  3. This morning, a cute guy tried to chat me up at Montpellier’s train station, and I have generally noticed a decent amount of male attention lately. Thought of the day: Skimpy Summer dresses and tanned legs should be available on prescription too.

But there’s an underlying fourth reason, currently digging holes in the sand and splashing in the waves: My kiddos. I keep having moments akin to the revoltingly-soppy-bullshit abundant on Facebook, when I just cannot believe I have such beautiful, kind-hearted, clever, lovely children. They amaze me. There (sick-bags are available in your seat pockets).

This said, rest assured that their ability to be disgusting-brats-I-just-want-to-throw-in-the-bin is also amazing at times.

And for the last few days, they have been joined by the boy they consider a funny kind of sibling: Mr Nice’s son (hence why 3 smurfs in the pool picture).

It’s a long story… Which cut short could be something like (I recommend having an extra cup of coffee before reading, on account of staying alert):

  1. Bear with me, I have a thing going on with numbered lists at the moment.
  2. Our kids (aged 5, 6 and 11) had been kind of brought up together for just under three years, when Mr Nice and I separated at the end of last Summer.
  3. Mr Nice and I both solemnly promised the children that they could still spend time together and count on the two of us.
  4. Mr Nice promptly turned into Mr Big Bastard and decided to do the exact opposite.
  5. Responding to our distraught children, Mr Nice’s son’s mother (are you following?) and I, ensured they could see each other regularly.
  6. Over the last 10 months, Mr Nice’s son’s mother and I have actually become friends.
  7. Mum+son have joined us for a few days holiday in the South.
  8. We’ve all had a fantastic time, and sincerely hope Mr Nice sunburns and catches stomach flu.

End of story.



It’s 8.15 am and the temperature in my office is already 32 degrees C.

I don’t know what that would be in Farenheits, but let’s say it could be classed as reasonably pleasant if you were to sit on a beach, with light wind and ice-cream coktails as company, yet reasonably unpleasant first thing in the morning in your airless office.

I am childless, and most of my friends have wisely deserted the heat-struck city.

So I spend my days stewing in the office for ridiculously long hours, and my evenings watering my dessicated garden, picking raspberries and blackberries, which I then turn into jam – wearing nothing but my underwear – because it’s just soooo hot. Not me, the temperature.

I have become a woman of simple needs: A meeting in an air-conditioned room is a treat practically on a par with eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Diving into the local outdoor pool at lunchtime is the highlight of my day.

Meanwhile, it has been a year since things brutally went haywire with Mr Nice, who has turned into such a  world-class jerk  since, that I remain incredulous about spending 2.5 years of my life with such a moron.

It has also been a month since Mr Xmas dropped me like a hot potato, and he recently seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth himself.

And you know what? I cannot be bothered to truly give a hoot about it.

I do really hope he keeps his promise to water my garden next week. Other than that, whatever.

Maître Gims – Est-ce que tu m’aimes ?

Another Summer chart-topper in France. Get your sparkly hot pants out!