Monday, 17 November 2014

Domestic democracy

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Stay-at-Home Dad and I had our first tiff the other day. It was over the washing-up of all things. I was so angry with him, I wanted him to leave the house and never come back. When I'm like that it's usually because I'm in the wrong, although that only becomes apparent a few hours later. In the heat of the battle, I am Joan of Arc, hounded and persecuted for her moral stance. 

A work of modern art from Nice Museum of Modern Art
Girls: more loafing and less chores
Our disagreement grew out of Saturday night suppers. Recently I've been inviting Stay-at-Home Dad (SHD) over with his twin girls for pizza and X Factor. It's part of our soft campaign to get the kids used to the idea that we're an 'item'. It was all going swimmingly until SHD happened to comment that Middle Child wasn't pulling his weight in the washing-up department. Was this because he was a boy, he wondered out loud. Was I over-indulging him? 

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Christmas jaunt

Why hello Christmas! It may only be November, but the juggernaut of spending sprees is upon us. In recent years I have felt distinctly Bah! Humbug! about the whole affair. From my humble mummy perspective, it has been a bit too much work and not enough play. This year, however, I am trying to be less moany and more #MontyThePenguin in my attitude towards the yuletide. In that vein, I actually ventured up to Kensington Olympia last week with my friend, Emma, to visit the Spirit of Christmas fair. 


Spirit of Christmas fair
Tasting the delights of Xmas with my friend Emma
My goodness, what an adventure it was! Olympia may be in central London, but reaching the North Pole might have been simpler. One train and two bus journeys later, we finally arrived, along with a herd of disgruntled fair-goers. It was only thanks to the intervention of a hearty bus driver ("Everyone for Olympia, get off now!") that we managed to get there at all. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

The end of thin fascism?

There's nothing like wearing a bikini for a week to make you feel a little body-conscious. My family spent half term in a hotel in Gran Canaria, surrounded by a palm trees and two glistening swimming-pools. Each day, after we had plundered the buffet breakfast, we lay like beached whales on our sun loungers. By day three, my husband and I were feeling so bloated we volunteered for poolside yoga, followed by some thrashing about in the water (aka aqua aerobics). 

A dish of paella
Holiday excess: one too many helpings...
When we got home, after a week of gluttony, I was too afraid to get on the scales. On the plane home, however, I was comforted to read an article ('I was born with curves') in The Sunday Times about an American, plus-size model called Ashley Graham. This young woman, apparently a British size 18, is a ravishing beauty who turns heads in restaurants and brings traffic to a halt outside. She also loves pizza and dips her crusts in Nutella. "My butt rolls, it's really out there," she told the journalist, Eleanor Mills

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Goodbye golden youth

So I was at a dinner party the other week, seated beside a veteran TV presenter. He was an engaging man with a wealth of anecdotes mined from a long career covering war zones, general news and consumer affairs. As with most charmers, he had that knack of appearing interested in everything I had to say. 


A woman in Victorian costume with the caption, "Age cannot wither her"
At some point in our conversation, we got to discussing how the glut of news on the internet had eroded television audiences. In that context, he remarked that young people didn't really watch breakfast television news anymore. Happy to concur, I told him he was quite right; in our house we tended to listen to Radio 4 of a morning.

"Oh, I meant really young people, teenagers, twenty somethings, who get their news on their phones," he said, before gallantly adding, "but you are young too."

I had fallen into the trap of assuming I was still a paid-up member of the golden youth. During that same weekend I was looking at some photos of myself from another party: who on earth was that woman with all the wrinkles around her eyes? Looking on the bright side, it seems that I have a positive self-image. Clearly, my perception of how old I am has not yet caught up with reality.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The quiet determination of Doreen Lawrence

Notes from the Henley Literary Festival... 


Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, made a startling observation at the Henley Literary Festival this week. She believes that police reforms are not being implemented and that the force is still guilty of racism. "Senior officers get what we need to do," she told the audience. "But somehow that is not being transferred to officers on the ground."
Doreen Lawrence

To prove her point, she shared a story about a young black man being arrested at London Bridge, just as she happened to reach the station platform. A group of white officers were kneeling on the young man, who also had his arms held behind his back. Baroness Lawrence decided to intervene and warned one of the officers: "He could die from that, you know." The officer, who clearly did not recognise her, replied: "It happens."

It has been more than 20 years since Baroness Lawrence's son Stephen was murdered in 1993 in London by a gang of white youths. Right from the beginning, the Lawrences were aware that the police were not taking the case seriously enough. "We were treated by the police as if we were perpetrators, not victims," she said. The force seemed more interested in investigating the Lawrence family and their friends, rather than pursuing leads to track down Stephen's attackers.

Monday, 29 September 2014

An audience with Jojo and Daisy

Notes from the Henley Literary Festival... 


A few years ago an editor friend of mine at Headline Review sent me a copy of My Last Duchess because she thought I would enjoy it. She knew my tastes well: this tale of an American heiress who marries into the English aristocracy was right up my street. It has been described as Henry James without the boring bits. Today I got to meet the author, Daisy Goodwin, who has now written a second book, The Fortune Hunter, about the 19th century Empress Elisabeth of Austria.


Lucy Cavendish interviews Jojo Moyes and Daisy Goodwin at the Henley Literary Festival
Jojo Moyes is a regular guest at the Literary Festival
Daisy was joined by Jojo Moyes, the bestselling author of Me Before You, and between the two of them, they kept us riveted with a discussion of their characters, their craft and a few homey snippets. 

In her latest book, The One Plus One, Jojo writes about a single mother Jess who ends up embarking on a road trip with Ed - a man she barely knows - to enter her daughter into a maths Olympiad in Aberdeen. Inevitably love blossoms, although there are of course a few twists in the road.