Friday, 13 May 2016

Yeah, yeah, blogging's easy

I thought I'd be able to set up a 'mum' blog for parents who like fashion and pretty pictures, but hate all the usual 'perfect life' bullshit that comes with it in my "spare" time. Hahahahahah. I left British ELLE three years ago and became freelance whilst pregnant with my second child. I wanted to spend more time at home with my son and soon-to-be-born daughter, as to be honest, five days a week away from him was killing me. But I also had to figure out a way of maintaining a career and earning money knowing at some point the kids would go to school and getting back into work after 5 years off is pretty tough. I now I write, consult and even design stuff from offices all over London and no two days are the same. But I also look after two young kids, which is my priority, obviously. Hence why I don't know what I was thinking when I thought setting up a blog would be "easy" when I'm already writing into the night three to four nights a week.... I don't care about building a mega-brand; I'm no blogger entrepreneur. But I want a space to create something different, a space for mums who love fashion that's neither glitzy or prim. So I joined forces with my good friend Natalie, a stylist, who I met at ELLE and really rate and together we've created something less perfect, a place where interesting men and women can talk honestly about their experiences of parenthood. And the best thing? There are loads of pretty pictures and you can shop too.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dear Gina Ford C.C Everyday Sexism

Dear Practice Manager

I am writing to inform you of an offensive comment made to me today by one of your nursing staff.

As I walked into the room, the new nurse in charge of baby vaccinations introduced herself as ‘professional with a kind attitude’, which was reassuring given her position. After administering the injections - one in each of my seventeen-week-old daughter’s thighs - my daughter was understandably upset (as I assume all the other babies were, given I could hear them screaming from downstairs).

As my daughter continued to cry, the nurse asked if I had a drink for her as this, she assured me, would help ‘calm her down’. Unfortunately my daughter remained inconsolable and after a further minute of continuous crying began to redden. I quickly gathered our things in the hope that she would settle in her pram as I too was beginning to get stressed.

It was at this point the nurse asked whether Martha was ‘my first daughter’. I replied that she was and that she had an older brother and began making small talk about how different they were etc. The nurse interrupted and said, ‘you know you have spoilt your daughter? That is a spoilt cry. Shame’. As I left, I made no reference to the fact that I found her comment offensive, which I now know was down to a mixture of shock and disbelief. In hindsight, however, there are a few points I would like to make.

Firstly, it is not medically correct to say a baby has a ‘spoilt cry’, I have checked this with a friend who is a child psychologist and she has confirmed that it is ‘physically impossible’. Secondly, I can accept the constant barrage of unwanted general public opinion thrust upon me on a daily basis. I take their ‘you must do this and you should be doing that’ comments on the chin, even though it adds an additional and unwanted layer of guilt to my already heightened new-mum paranoia. But a medical professional telling me my daughter has ‘a spoilt cry’ - a seventeen week old baby who’s only crime was to cry after having two needles shoved in her thighs – is absolutely unacceptable.

Not only do I find her comments deeply offensive, but also I wonder whether she would say this to a mum with a son? It’s so easy to label little girls and women as being ‘spoilt’, and that’s why I am writing this letter - for my daughter - a seventeen-week-old girl who can’t defend herself. I’m also writing this on behalf of any future new mum who happens to be booked in with this nurse, as I hope she will keep her personal opinions to herself from now on.

Finally, I am writing this letter on behalf of new mums everywhere who are sick and tired of being spoken to like this by medical professionals, the general public and every un-sisterly woman who fancies having a pop. Do not assume we want to hear your opinions on how to raise our children. I can assure you, we don’t.

My daughter may have a powerful cry and I accept that, but spoilt at seventeen weeks old? I don’t think so.

Yours sincerely,

Etc etc....

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dear Tom Ford C.C The Fashion Interns

Uh Oh!  Guess what I've gone and done, Tom?  As soon as I felt better, as soon as my heart stopped feeling like it was made from lead and my throat opened up enough to allow me to breathe again, I mean properly breathe, as opposed to the shallow, panicky little breaths I’d been taking for the past year… guess what I did?

Guess what I did as soon as I’d lost all of the weight and could happily strip off at a sample sale in front of the interns without them having to cross themselves and drink holy water and pray pregnancy never happened to them.  Guess what I did????   I GOT PREGNANT AGAIN!!!!!  Um, the interns are still threatening to go to Lourdes or Rome to be blessed in order to recover from seeing my bare arse during one particularly unfortunate incident in the fashion cupboard.  It wasn't my fault.  The Celine samples are TINY!  I'd like to thank the Fire Brigade who after several hours finally managed to remove the burgundy leather pre-fall skirt from my person.  

Anyway, I’m writing to tell you my plan.  You know your Kapow dress?  The one you said was Rhi Rhi inspired but I know you meant Me Me, well I’m going to wear it to your show in September.   I wanted to wear it now but it looks more OW than Kapow and won’t zip up.  I wondered whether you had considered bringing out a maternity line called OW?  Or labour gowns?  I honestly think there’s a market for labour gowns – NOBODY’S doing it.  How genius?  A labour gown line called OW?  I mean, come on, Tom, we could do this together!  You better do it quick before Frida at Gucci claims the idea as hers. Wonder what she wore – a thigh high boot, a fox stole, a smile?    

So the baby’s due in three weeks and I was wondering whether I could use your AW show hair and make-up team for six weeks after delivery?  I loved the side-parting-slicked back hair (SO kid friendly!) and figured if I can have somebody do that every morning AND administer a smoky eye everything will be ok, well, certainly better than last time when I looked like Jabba The Hut trying to do grunge.  What do you reckon?

Let me know your thoughts on 'OW'.  I reckon it's a winner.  I'll call Selfridges and Harrods as soon as you give me the green light.

Best wishes,

Etc, etc

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Dear Gina Ford C.C Betty Ford B.C.C The NHS

It's been over a year since I wrote this blog and before I pick it up again, I thought I'd publish this entry I found in my drafts recently.  It was written last June, 2012. I can happily report I no longer feel this way.  If you do, I promise you, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  If you still feel this way after a year, I suggest buying a Celine handbag. It worked for me.

I lost my mojo for a while, Gina, do you mind if we call it loss-of-mojo rather than the dreaded, unspeakable, let’s brush it under the carpet POST NATAL DEPRESSION?  I just went back to work having had ten months off.   I've got to admit, the past few weeks have been a bit weird so I went to Selfridges and bought a Celine tote. Praise the lord, Gina, I feel a little more alive with that baby on my arm.

A three cm by three cm card landed on my doorstep the other day. I instantly recognised the familiar swirls but couldn’t comprehend the words.  ‘You don’t seem happy, I want the old you back, she was ace’, the card chimed.  The writing was as familiar as Marmite on toast but read like it belonged to a total stranger.  I began wondering what I used to be like, what made me so ‘ace’, I needed to know. 

I opened it one Sunday morning after a busy week at work – my seventh back in the office and it immediately drove me into a heavy gloom.  A bit like the time I did a lot of preordering at Fashion Week because it didn’t feel like shopping, until I got the bills.  

Baby was having his nap next door.  Fingers of summer sun tapped on my bedroom window attempting to entice me outside.  I snapped the blinds shut sending them off to bother somebody else with their golden rays of positivity.  I lay on my bed, bright white stripes trying to sneak under slats of shuttered-tight-blinds ‘she was ace’ ringing in my ears.

I can only be the person I am now, right, Gina?  I’m not the person I was but nor am I the person I think everybody wants me to be.  I have to compromise and that compromise cannot be to the detriment of my baby.  ‘You weren’t happy on maternity leave and now you don’t seem happy being back at work’, the friend continued on text message after I 'thanked' her for her card.  ‘Maybe you should see somebody’.  Who, I thought?  Christopher Kane?  Richard Nicoll?  Mary Katranzou?  Should I wear more print?  Will that make me jolly?  Pass me the spring florals and everything will be ok!!!!!

I got out of bed, left my boyfriend to look after the baby and went for a walk.  Why have I been so reluctant to change, I wondered?  I love my son (a love I had no idea even existed); I have a partner whom I adore and want to be with forever.  We’re doing up a house that we plan to live in for the rest of our lives.  We talk about getting married and I’ve never done that before, I even found a dress on Net-a-Porter I might like to wear and it was even white (a shocking colour at the best of times).  I like my job. I adore my friends so what the fuck is wrong with me?

After ten months out of the office I’d finally got into the routine of maternity leave.  I was used to the slight loneliness that nipped at the outer edges of my being, throbbing like frostbite but not quite bad enough to lose a limb.  I was ok with pulling on an oversized cardigan of tiredness every morning.  I had routine and grew to like it, eventually.  My pregnant body had grown bigger than I could have ever imagined.  At fourteen stone nine pounds I looked like an inflated version of somebody I once knew; I looked like a new mum but a big one; I was one step away from Pleats Please by Issy Miyake.  The other day a friend from ante-natal class said ‘wow, look at you!  There was a slim woman underneath all that fat and water retention!’  Gina, whatever happens, don’t tell Tom, he’ll go totally ape shit.

I looked like I had an abundance of milk.  I was so large, my breasts looked like they could have supplied the whole of London’s premature baby units with fresh breast milk on a daily basis.  But I had none.  ‘Chronic low milk supply’ wrote the doctor three weeks in and medically what could be described as ‘el baskito case’.  ‘Would you like to try a month’s worth of antidepressants?’ she asked, sympathetic eyes peering over a pair of Boots’ own spectacles.  My bloodshot eyes stared back at her, I resisted the urge to comment on her choice of eyewear; 'Tom Ford does great opticals', was on the tip of my tongue.  But I was too knackered for fashion.  Jesus, I must be ill.  Before I knew it I was walking out of the doctors’ surgery, my mamas and papas clad thighs rubbing together, clutching a prescription for a months worth of low dosage antidepressants.  I threw it in the bin as soon I got outside.  

I checked out Facebook daily, looking at other mothers’ pictures, marvelling at their joy.  The pretty back gardens decked with bunting and colourful cupcakes in honour of the Jubilee.  Family gatherings, Christenings, birthday parties, mummies in pretty floral dresses, smiling babies, Pimms and Lemonade, happy summer days.  Eventually I stopped looking; their version of events made me too miserable.

I went to Westfield to sit in the Prada store instead. Much better.  As my oversized ass sank into the pink pouf of the Prada chair, baby asleep, Fatima’s coffee (she works at Pret in Westfield) would jolt me back into action, galvanise me into starting my day.  Baby and me were inseparable for the most part and he seemed to enjoy little jaunts to TopShop, Dior and Prada where I would look but not try due to being so oversized. 

I joined a music class, thank God for the music class.  I met a mum a year older than me who'd just had her first child.  Her son was twelve weeks old when we met and she looked unbelievable; happy, smiley and jolly but in a sane way, not like she’d just snorted a line of Cath Kidson.   She looked physically fit enough to cope with how strenuous new motherhood can be.  I'd break out into a sweat trying to pick up the car seat. 

I met all sorts of women at the music class and went for coffee with some of them afterwards.  It felt like being on a blind date.  My armour was off, I was just a mum, an overweight one, perhaps a mildly deranged, overweight, highly strung one.   ‘I’m stabbing in the dark at this whole motherhood thing and I’ve only got one jumper that fits’! I splurted after coffee number two hit my bloodstream.  That’s when you separate the wheat from the chaff, the Bodum from the Bananas.  That moment of absolute honesty is when you figure out who is on your ‘team’.  Nobody was. Nobody else was depressed. 

The class continued for six months, after which time the babies were crawling and the mothers getting ready to go back to work.  One of them decided not to go back at all.  Previously an art dealer, she’s retraining as a therapist for women going back to work after babies.  Must find her number.  Another, a music producer plans to go back three days a week and is already thinking about her next baby. Another has gone back three days a week but had to quickly change her days to four having realised she couldn’t manage her team on three.  

Me?  I’m back at work five days a week.  Something I’ve always done.  I’ve never not worked. Is work working?  Well, my lack-of-mojo seems to be slowly disappearing but I miss my son.  Monday is great, I skip out of the door giddy to be able to buy a coffee without a small hand covered in porridge pawing at my Prada.  Tuesday is fine, too.  By Wednesday I leave the house with small stabs of pain flickering in my heart.  I jam my body onto the tube at 5pm where I would normally wait for a quieter train. I put on trainers so I can run home.  Thursday is more of the same.  By Friday morning I wake up anxiety ridden.  Being on my own in a coffee shop feels lonely and pointless, my heart is seemingly attached to my son’s with string or a piece of elastic.  The string is too short and if I go too far it pulls me, jolting me back into the reality that is knowing I don’t want to leave him for this much time during the week.  But I can't be at home full time either.  I'm stuck. I don't know what to do.

I’m sorry I’ve not written for a while, Gina, but things have been a bit difficult.  I’m readjusting to a new world order. I’ve lost five stone though. It all came off in the end.  I bought some Miu Miu trousers to celebrate.  

Best wishes,

Etc etc...

P.s Don't tell Tom about the weight gain.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dear Tom Ford C.C My Former Self

Dear Tom

I can spot a fashion girl a mile off.  This morning, walking through Westfield, I spotted a fashion-foal separated from the sartorial safety of her pack. I drew a sharp intake of breath as she marched past; I hadn’t had that much fashion eye-candy for ages, Tom!  She had the look of a woman who actually had somewhere to go as opposed spending the morning fannying around Pret before causing trouble in TopShop for the fifth time that week.  My eyes fixated on her as she marched ahead of me through the universal unkemptness that is the British general public, casting her Olympian-torch-like-shine onto anybody who came within five inches of her magnificent fashionable being. She carried a Celine shopper that was smart and colourful enough to take the casual edge off her Isabel Marant wedge-heeled-trainers, clever, huh?  Colourful, skinny-jean-clad legs stuck out from beneath a coat that was cocoon shaped in grey Tweed.  Her nails, cheeks and lips were awash with spring’s beauty trends, all creamy and delicious peachiness. Perfect white-blonde hair was scraped high into a tight topknot; this was a woman clearly on her way to the offices of Net-a-porter, either that or she was lost and looking for the Eurostar.  I froze outside Waitrose. What was that thing stood where my reflection should be and should I tell her to ditch the padded parka because ‘it’s makin’ ya look a lot like Big Daddy, sister’?  Oh, shit, that’ll be me, then.

The fashion-foal was in ‘my gang’ so therefore it was perfectly legit to follow her EVERYWHERE she went.  She mustn’t see me, though.  I couldn’t do the old Fashion Gang Nod Of Appreciation wearing a waterproof parka (I’m not talking Altuzarra) and a flat boot combo.  The FGNOA is basically when a fellow Fashion Gang member is wearing something new season but very early on in the new season and there’s a moment of mutual respect where we’re basically saying ‘yeah blud, innit, respect to ya’ but in a fashion way.  It’s less of a nod, certainly no smashing of appreciative fists, more of a slight eye movement to the right, not too far, mind.  Why am I wearing this outfit? There should always be a balance in the silhouette; if you’re going to wear a bulky parka then you must pair it with a skinny jean and a bit of a heel. And yes, fashion people always describe things as being singular. Never is a pair of shoes ‘a pair of shoes’, it’s always ‘a heel’, or ‘a shoe’ and there’s no such thing as a pair of trousers in fashion speak, it’s ‘a trouser’.  The same goes for prints, it’s a ‘bit of a print’, never ‘prints’, or better still, ‘a bit of a splashy print’, that actually means very little but somehow we all know exactly which print the other is talking about.  And skinny jeans are always, yep, ‘a skinny’, which could also mean a skinny latte, depending on where you are at the time.  Sorry! I digress!  Fashion-foal saunters inside Westfield by the horrid, lying Waitrose windows.  I try to keep my distance.  Is that the new Prada fragrance she’s wearing? The lift arrives and I shove my pram in between its double doors, a move that alerts her to my presence but not my identity thanks to a carefully placed Ann Demeulemeester scarf.  Net-a-porter is on the 2nd floor. I know this because I’ve just joined GymBox next door, not because I was loitering outside the Karl Lagerfeld launch the other week, honest.  She gets out at on the first floor and walks hastily towards Pret.  So do I.  Bet she orders to a skinny cappuccino, no chocolate and takes a banana for later. AND SHE DOES! OH, GOD I LOVE THIS WOMAN!  Pray she didn’t see the croissant I’ve shoved into my nappy bag. Baby, err, loves croissant.  Fashion-foal is off!  I whizz out of the door after her, my double cream hot chocolate with extra chocolately stuff shoved into the very handy cup holder that’s attached to the Bugaboo. FF glances in the TopShop windows then quickly scoots towards the escalators. NOT THE ESCALATORS! And that’s where my stalking ends, no matter how flat my ‘boot’, I still haven’t got the hang of the escalator / pram combo. 

Decide to go back to Pret to have a rest as that was way too much fashion activity for one day.  As I sit picking the crunchy bits off my third croissant of the morning, I realise how absurd we all look, us fashion folk, I mean.  ‘A wedge-heeled-trainer’, in brown suede worn with ‘a red skinny’, a cocoon coat in grey, a green handbag that costs more than two months rent, hair scraped up into what could be confused with a pre-operative style a nurse might be instructed to do before you have stitches in your eye. Peach nail polish? Peach lips?  I mean REALLY??????? She looked positively day release and I love it!  I like the fact women buy things their boyfriends and husbands will think are ugly / stupid / pointless or all of above. I enjoy the fact that fashion has very little to do with men, even gay men.  Men, we don’t give a damn what you think we look like, okay?  Sorry, Tom, but it’s true.  I think I just had a light bulb moment.  I don’t care that the other mum’s are wearing their ‘mum uniform’.  UGG boots, Cath Kidston* nappy bags, polite, oversized jumpers from GAP.  Why?  It’s over people, mama’s back and mama’s wearing ‘a splashy print’ at baby music class next week.  So long comfy, sweet potato covered knit, hello awkward ACNE blouse and plum skinny jean combo.

I’m back. There is a God, her name is Net-A-Porter and she lives on the second floor of Westfield.

Best wishes,

Etc etc

*I do not own a Cath Kidston nappy bag. I do, however, own one by Gucci that was a kind gift from the Gucci press office.  It has been bitched about at many a mothers’ get together, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dear Gina C.C Big Ben

I admit, I've had a good old moan about your 'Contented Little Lunatic' book and you're possibly the bossiest person that ever lived, you and your irrational expectations that a baby will sleep and eat at certain times 'just because Gina says so'.  Oh, he should be asleep now, really?  Despite the fact baby doesn't wish to sleep or eat at your designated intervals, I’ve thoroughly embraced your diktat.  Baby's taken to your schedule in manner of me in the relaunched Selfridges shoe hall, i.e. extremely well.  Gina, I admit, I wasn’t exactly a 'scheduley' kinda gal before baby arrived and in many ways you gave us our life back, and I thank you for that.  But, I wondered, have you ever considered including a section entitled 'New Parents' Schedule'?  If not, may I suggest the following as a starting point? 

Dear New Mum, before you had your baby your morning may have looked something like...

Get up at 7.30am. Moan about getting up at 7.30am. Shower. Have tea hand picked by Tibetan monks. Read several blogs and online newspapers. Tweet. Eat expensive organic wheat free toast made by virgins.  Tweet. Boil two eggs laid by chickens raised at Buckingham Palace. 8am, commence beauty routine. Tweet. Check Facebook. Caress limbs with oil imported from Morocco on a bed of petals. Consider doing some sit-ups, but there’s just no time.  Blow dry hair using several products only available from a one off salon in Paris. Apply Chanel foundation. Spend ten minutes on each eye working the driest Dior mascara wand through lashes first, then the semi-dry wand, finishing off with the latest, wettest mascara wand in order to create perfect ‘backstage’ lashes. 8.30am, try on entire wardrobe. 8.55am, vow to buy more tops from Net-A-Porter. 9am run out of door cursing fact there’s not enough time in life and how 'I’m gonna HAVE to go on a retreat to India / Thailand to 'practise' yoga in order to relax as it’s the only way I can get some head space, man!’ 9.30am, arrive at desk chirping ‘I feel like I’ve done a whole days work already, I just don't know how I do it!’

Dear new mum, after you've had your baby your morning may go something like...

Get up at 6am. Trip over spare travel cot located by door. Wonder why we have a spare travel cot located by door? No time to worry about stubbed toe or spare travel cot. Go to soothe crying baby. Vow to pee at some point before lunchtime. Switch on bottle warmer. Feed Dog. Feed Cat. Get baby from cot. Sit baby in highchair. Look at diary unable to read writing so who knows what’s gonna happen today.  Cross fingers. Feed baby his bottle. Entertain baby. Make baby his porridge. Put baby in full body bib. Take baby food out of freezer whilst porridge is cooking.  Wash baby’s bottle. Put sterilizer on. 7.15am Feed baby porridge. 7.20am sit shaking garish rattle over head in vain hope it will trick baby into finishing porridge.  7.22am, make raspberry noises whilst shaking garish rattle above head.  7.23, force dog to wear a Trilby in order to entertain baby. 7.24, beg baby finish porridge.  7.45am, baby finishes eating porridge. 7.46, dog licks entire high chair whilst still wearing hat. 7.47am, dog is banished to his bed with Dettol wipe attached to his butt.  7.48am, Dettol wipe cat. 7.50am, second nappy change of the morning, wash baby, dress baby, entertain baby. 8am, empty sterilizer, refill bottles for the day, make list of things I need to buy for baby, scrape porridge out of hair. 8.30am, lie on floor with baby playing peek-a-boo. 9am, baby’s second nap. 9.01am, wish Starbucks would deliver. 9.02am, have two minute shower. Put on something that isn’t covered in sweet potato. Dab on a bit of blusher and whizz a bit of mascara through lashes so not to scare the kids. 9.30am, start rest of day.

Should we work on this together, Gina?

Best wishes

Etc etc