Category Archives: Life

Long Time No Type…

Typing myself happy...

Typing myself happy…

Hello lonely blog,

Well it’s a been a fucking age. I apologise. Life’s got between me and the urge to scribble sardonic lamentations on the state of being. It’s been either too good or too shitty for me to want to put finger to keypad for  – well over a year now – but there was something deliciously non-moving and grey about this particularly rainy october afternoon that made me remember my virtual brain scribblings decorating this particular corner of the hyper web.

So what’s gone down?! I’ll give you the high and low down:

HIGH points:

1) I’ve worked – worked as an actual actor person – the job I’ve put life off for for more years than I should… Had a great theatre job in London at the end of last year and then have spent most of this living out of a suitcase on a national tour.

2) I’ve loved – or at least heavily liked – or loved (I’m in the slightly schizophrenic denier stage of not wanting to examine how deep my feelings might run) – and – CRUCIALLY – I’ve been loved/heavily liked back.

3) I’ve got fit – well fitter – I started running earlier this year shirking off the haunting memories of Mrs Fitzpatrick my facist secondary school PE teacher calling me a fat useless lemon (insulting despite the fact I could never figure out the link between obesity and citrus fruit) – and embracing a new idea of myself as Maggie the super athlete. Super might be going a bit far – but I can run for half an hour without asphyxiating now – no mean feat.

LOW points:

1) Working regularly as a professional actress hasn’t quite been living the long anticipated dream that i expected it to be. The reality of poorly envisioned commercially driven theatre, small parts, bad reviews, and living in crevices of the UK that time and taste have forgotten have rather taken their toll!

2) Said liker/lover has recently decided that as much as he liked/loved me – he loved his ex-girlfriend more. Cue embittered heartbreak… more on that later.

3) Haven’t spoken to Dan in over a year – but recently found out he’d got engaged. Can’t quite believe it and I’m not sure if I’m sadder about the fact he’s marrying someone that’s not me – or that we’re now so decidedly out of each others lives that I wouldn’t hear the news directly from him.

Aaaaah – life giveth then it kicks you in the goolies as it hastily snatcheth it back…

But don’t get me wrong – I’m ok – and generally a lot more on the up than down – which doesn’t mean the big old black dog doesn’t come and trample on my mood every now and again. Today’s not a good day and I’m feeling lonelier than I should which is maybe why I’m blowing the virtual dust of this creaky old blog. It feels good to be typing it out so I’ll be back. I need to have a good old moan about my recently fractured heart if nothing else.

Till then,

Maggie xx

Back from the dead

nggggggueuuaarrrrrgh

nggggggueuuaarrrrrgh

Dear God where have I been?!

Hello fellow blogospherers.

I am full of that insipid foisty guilt you feel when you discover a half filled journal at the bottom of your knicker drawer, and realise the keen ruminative diarist you imagined yourself being on January second has becoming yet another unfulfilled pipe dream in life’s smug chalkboard of disappointments.

Bad Maggie.

I’m not sure how or why I’ve been absent for the past six months – this blog was something that I’d become rather addicted too – and I certainly think it was helping me work through the mess of shite that poses as my life. I think all of that shite just rather got in the way and I fell out of the habit.

But here I am. I’m back. Hurrah.

Gosh – I’m close to deafened by the rapture of your silent applause. I hope some of you are still around – it was nice knowing my thought haemorrhaging was answerable to an invisible audience. I think it helped me be more objective about all the self pitying crap I inevitably at times resort to!

So what’s gone on in the past six months I hear you cry  – well the potted version:

Number of birthdays celebrated: 1

Number of years accrued that are now to be mourned: 29

Number of risable fringe productions playing a part I should have run a mile from: 1

Number of times I had to get my bottom out to London audiences: 36

Number of profitable adverts selling my soul and face in the promotion of slightly dubious products: 1

Number of months tormented by the a) piss taking of friends thanks to said dubious product touting, and b) being recognised in the street/bar/workplace as being the girl off ‘that’ ad: 3

Number of night courses taken: 1

Number of short lived jobs I’d rather not have taken: 15

Number of friends I’ve pissed off: 2

Number of soul mates I’ve not had contact with: 1

Number of shags*: 3 (and a half **)

Number of meaningful relationships: 0

[*for the sake of clarity by number of shags I mean number of men with whom I have engaged in the act of sexual intercourse, NOT how many acts of sexual intercourse have taken place. I am very happy to report that this amounts to far more than the said number.

** This shall be explained at a later date – but in this case I am referring to the sexual act as a fraction rather than the man. I did not shag a halfling. I’m tall – so this would be alarming and neck crunchingly awkward. And as much as a self professed geek as I am I would not take my love of Tolkein this far.]

Aaaaah so much to catch up on – and I shall – inevitably. But right now it just feels good to put fingers to keypad once more.

Laters potatoes

M xxxxx

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Confession

could this be the future...

could this be the future…

So I have an confession to make. I’ve hinted at it here and there but I’ve never said the words totally bald and clear.

I have never had a boyfriend.

Just seeing those words as harsh black marks against white makes me feel physically sick – makes me want to shove them down and hide behind a less blunt half truth.

I am twenty eight years old and I have never had a boyfriend.

There are very few people who know this about me – my mum thinks I’m coy and hiding a whole barrage of exes behind a barrel, my recent friends think there must have been a before, and my ancient friends think there must have been an after. Even some of my closest current friends are only allowed to know half truths – I talk of old exes when it would be more accurate to describe them as fleeting acquaintances – all be that of a sexual nature.

Only two very old, very good friends that I’ve clung tightly to through the years know the full truth.

Why am I so scared of the truth?

Because I find it overwhelmingly humiliating.

Because it squats inside of me like a festering toad that I’m scared of letting people see.

Because in many people’s eyes it would paint a picture of me that I am not prepared to be – that I don’t think I am.

Would it make people see me as uglier than I am, would it bring in to focus some terrible psychological ineptness that would explain such a righteous departure from the societal norm?

You can be sure as hell it would put men off – who wants to road test the twenty eight year old relationship virgin? There must be some reason that other men have steered clear before after all.

Just writing these words makes me feel hugely and inexpressibly sad. And they make me feel like a freak.

I’m the girl that men are prepared to sleep with but never date.

How has that happened to me?

over and out.

m x

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The Plan

self help

Greetings Fellow Bloggers

Now the ash has settled on the explosive disappointment of the non-weekend in Edinburgh, I’ve had time to formulate some killer moves in my road to a better, healthier Dan love-free future.

The genius plan is as follows:

1 – Cut off all contact with the ubiquitous Dan Burke (see below footnote)

2 – Invest in some stellar self help books that will help me get to know and understand the squalling mess that is Magdeline Adams a little better. I’ve always poo poo-ed self books as silly didactic rubbish – but they have to be up on the best seller lists for some reason haven’t they? I’m starting with ‘Power of Now’ – look’s interesting and Oprah liked it – how wrong could it be?!

3 – Treat myself a little more. The struggle to earn and eat and pretend that I’ve still got an acting career buried under a rock somewhere leaves very little time for me to actually do stuff I want to do. This comes the ambition to take myself out for a date every week. Who needs men anyway.

4 – Who needs men indeed – but maybe the pursuit of a new one would help me forget the old? Hence comes plan sub section 5 – open myself out to prospect that one day, somehow, I might actually allow myself to love someone who is not Dan Burke. The first step of this is to try out internet dating. I’ve always balked at it in the past – but new me, new rules.

5 – Find some way to be creative. Call me crazy but I think that in part my obsession with Dan, and consequently with my love life or lack of it  – is due in part to the fact that most days what I do is pretty mundane. I’m an actress for feck’s sake – I love drama – and if I don’t get it I create it. Not an attractive attribute i know – but at least I admit it. Whenever I’ve done something that truly engages me – mostly when I’m in a play, my need to be loved and desired by someone else rapidly disintegrates and I feel much more content with being just purely, simply, wholly me. I respect myself more so it doesn’t matter as much that I don’t have someone standing next to me stroking my ego for me. So – a simple solution – get that creative verve back and suck up that self respect. This blog helps – but isn’t quite enough… I’m thinking of doing a course – maybe painting or writing… plus I’ve got a great idea for a play…

So there we have it – a fabulous five step plan.

No excuse me whilst I go and read up on a bit of pseudo buddhism and buy a new notebook (is there anything more exciting than a new notebook?)

Wish me luck!

M xx

* Footnote to Step 1

I’m aware that cutting Dan out of my life isn’t the friendliest move. I’m one of his closest friends and I plan to remove myself without explanation. It’s not his fault I feel the way he doesn’t after all.

So here – where he will never read it – is an apology. Who knows – maybe one day I’ll tell him about this blog and he’ll sift through all the pseudonyms and read the story I was always too scared to tell him.

I’m sorry Dan – I’m sorry for needing to be selfish and sacrificing our friendship to move me past this point in my life. I’ve got stuck here – and that in no way is your fault – apart from you having the audacity to be as gorgeous as you are of course. I wish things were different – I wish you loved me like I love you, or I wish I could look into your eyes and see only the fantastic friend you are instead of all the things you are not. I hope one day I’ll become unstuck and we can be friends again. I’m doing this now, because I need to but also because you’re happy and I’m hoping you won’t need me for a while. If you do ever need me I hope I’ll be strong enough to offer what you need, and if I’m not and I have to pull away then too – well then I’m sorry for that as well.

I hope we have more and more years of friendship together, I hope this isn’t the end, I hope I’ll be back before you’ve even noticed I’d gone away – a better securer wholer person who’s ready to accept you for what you are

My best friend.

Till then compadre,

Mags x

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the end of the story

oh yes - she's back.

oh yes – she’s back.

‘So how did it go?’ I hear you all cry! Did you tell him? what did he say?!

In the words of Maria Von Trapp and all those frighteningly shrill lederhosed children- the beginning is a very good place to start…

We clambered on to the 9.30am Kings Cross to Waverley and settled in for the long haul. I needn’t have worried about being lacking in wit or charm as Dan was suffering from an horrific hangover and wouldn’t have noticed if id have had a labotomy or my head and been replaced with a pumpkin. This meant he spent much of the five hour train journey as a snoring unconcious lump. I pushed down the disappointment already bubbling inside me that my imagined cider sharing, picnic eating, landscape coo-ing idyll of a train journey had been instantly made such short sharp shrift of. Instead I buried my  head in my book (The Book Thief – it’s very good if you haven’t read it!) for the solitary hours.

Thankfully by the time we reached Edinburgh Dan had managed to sleep off the worst of his hangover and was immediately possessed with an insatiable hunger for greasy food to replenish his damaged gut. A fried breakfast and a chirpier Dan later we headed to our hotel.

My god I love hotels – everything about them – the perky politeness of reception, the thin peculiarly patterned carpets (which is Scotland seem to be standard issue thistles) and that fresh pine smell of relaxation and decadence. Hotels are all the more alluring as I can ill afford to ever stay in one, so it always marks a truly special occasion. Dan had insisted on picking up the whole tab for this one – as it was booked before he’d been dumped and I was doing him a favour flanking him at a wedding where he knew very few people. I didn’t protest for too long – the train fare, and the very important new dress that I was going to stun Dan with, had emptied my bank account – plus an advert that he’d done a few years ago had just been re-released thus sprinkling him with, effectively, free money. Lucky bastard.

Two nights in a four star hotel that the man I was in love with was treating me to. If there wasn’t so much going on between the spaces of that lovely collection of words – how truly blissfully they would patter on to the page.

I sat with our bags in an impossibly plush chaise longue sipping a glass of complimentary freshly squeezed orange juice whilst Dan went and checked us in. He bounded over a couple of minutes later,

‘Hey – excellent news – I managed to trade our King size room into a twin – so you won’t have to have me drunkenly snoring and drooling on you for two nights’

My heart drooped a little further as disappointment number two hit the deck

‘Great’ I said, a smile frozen on to my face

Any (admittedly thought police dictated illegal) fantasy that we might have rolled on to each other drunkenly in the night and ‘accidentally’ fallen into some delicious passion burst with a flaccid belch. To be honest, that was less disappointing than the fact I suddenly realised I had been really looking forward to just simply waking up next to Dan. I could forgo all that messy passion just be able to steal some looks at him before he woke up, our limbs nestling beside each other for warmth. This is all much harder to do when we’re on opposite sides of the room.

The wedding was at 1pm the next day so for the rest of Friday we’d planned a boozy crawl of the burg’s best public houses. Three pubs down and I couldn’t help but notice that Dan seemed somewhat distracted, he was glued to his phone and every conversation I tried to start was punctuated by vibrations form his phone followed by minutes of frantic thumb tapping from him.

“Dan you rude bastard, put your phone away and talk to me – I’m rapidly building a fucking complex”

“You’ve already got more complexes than Freud’s back catalogue Maggie dearest.”

“Well be careful because I’m quickly developing another one. What could be possibly more important than beer or me?” I said with a hopefully cheeky and engaging smile.

A sheepish guilty look suddenly gathered in Dan’s face, and I swear to god he went a little pink.

“Daaaan…. what is it?”

“No, you’ll be angry with me.”

I raised my eyebrows and gave him a stern teachery ‘don’t you give me any shit Dan Burke’ look…

“It’s Zara”

Oh great. 

“It’s who?” (with a heavily laid on tone of disbelief)

“Zara – she’s been texting all evening”

“Zara – whore bitch from hell who dumped you for a himbo Zara?”

“Hey… Easy Mags – don’t call her that, she’s alright you know”

“Dan -actually I was quoting you. We spent a full drunken evening discussing the finer points of her utter whorishness and general elligibility for bitch of the century – or has your memory finally been addled by all the booze?”

“Yeah well I was angry – I needed to vent, you know.”

I sighed, already knowing the answer to the question I was just about to ask

“So what’s going on?”

He darted his eyes down and started concentrating very hard at turning a beer mat on the table,

“Well, we’re kind of, sort of… seeing each other again.”

“Since when?”

“Since a couple of weeks”

“Well why the fuck didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I knew you’d react like this”

I couldn’t help it – I sighed again – hating myself for sounding so bloody didactic.

“Oh Dan”

A fat smelly silence fell between the two of us.

“Well look, no actually, I don’t think its great news – I think she treated you incredibly badly – and I don’t trust her for a second not to do it again. And – and I…”

and I love you and I would do anything for you and the thought of you with someone else makes me feel sick to the very base of my stomach…

“and I … well its bloody embarrassing – I spent an evening bitching about her and telling you about how much I never liked her and now she’s, she’s what  – your girlfriend?”

“Yes”

“And she’s not seeing that, that – what was his name?”

“Jeremy.”

“She’s not seeing Jeremy anymore?”

“No”

“Right. Well – good.”

A longer pause.

“And you’re happy?”

He suddenly grinned like an overexcited school boy.

“Yeah – god yeah Mags – I don’t want to jinx it after last time but I’m, I’m so happy. You know how long I’ve liked her. She’s such a fucking force of nature, she’s so sparky and alive and confident and beautiful – I mean GOD she’s beautiful – isn’t she beautiful?”

A leaden tone of acceptance now settled itself into my voice.

“Yep – she’s beautiful”

“And I know you probably hate her right now, but she’s such a gorgeous girl and when you get to know her properly I just know you’ll love her too – I know you will. You and me are too alike – we feel the same about everything”

Oh dear Dan if only you realised how far that was from being the truth. 

I forced a smile.

“If you’re happy then I’m happy. I mean it, I’m really happy for you”

A realisation dawned.

“But if you’re back together then why am I here and not her – surely you’d rather have a weekend long shagathon with her?”

“Maggie – I’m not a complete wanker – I’d already asked you and well – I didn’t want to mess you around”

Thanks Dan – thanks for nothing

“Plus you’d already bought your train ticket…”

So that conversation pretty much tells you all you need to know about my much hyped weekend away. Even my palest tamest hopes were blown out of the water. Dan spent pretty much the entire time surgically attached to his phone and I just let him get on with it, too flattened to exhibit any kind of indignation at the fact he’d dragged me up to Scotland at my own expense to twiddle my thumbs whilst he was making sweet love to an iphone. The wedding was fine (it was one of Dan’s old school friends) but to be honest watching two people tie the knot was the last thing I felt like doing with my heart as heavy as it was.

God I’m such a fool.

There was I bankrupting myself on a pretty dress to impress Dan and whiling a week away fantasising about all the quasi romantic moments we were set to have together whilst he was loved up with another girl, irritated that he had to bring someone else on his romantic weekend away out of a misplaced sense of duty.

Needless to say – any plans to tell him how I felt catapulted themselves out of the nearest window. I couldn’t handle feeling any more stupid than I already did.

This weekend did make something clear however. I can’t go on feeling like this. Loving Dan has broken my heart over and over again. Very obviously it’s not his fault – a combination of my fear and my lack of confidence has kept me trapped in this unloved symbiosis for far too long. So I’m going to do something about it.

I’m just not altogether sure what that is yet…

Any words of wisdom would be great.

M xx

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Scotlands calling

Edinburgh

Oh dear god I’m excited. I can bearly write I’m so distracted by deep coursing wonderful fantasties of what this weekend could bring.

In less than twenty four hours I will be on a train with my favourite person in the whole universe ready to tear up the country to beautiful beautiful Edinburgh where we spend two whole nights cohabiting a four star double bed.

A Scottish wedding weekend with Dan – what could be more perfect?

The anticipation is so great that I actually feel a little nervous about meeting him tomorrow. I’m scared that I’ll get some weird version of first date nerves – that I’ll get all tounge tied and stupid mouthed and lose all the scathing wit he loves me for…

But that is silly, really silly, because this is not a first date – not by any stretch of the imagination. This weekend is a platonic expedition where, yes fun and japes may be had, but any kind of hope of romance is to be expelled at all costs.

I have been on severe damage limitation thought police duty all week. Unless I’m strict my wandering mind takes full license to wander in to delicious fantasies of Dan telling me he wanted me to come to Scotland with him to get a chance to tell me how he feels, of a cool moonlit walk down the burg’s winding streets, hand in hand followed by meaningful look and a fall into each other arms in a passionate embrace. A long sunday climb up to Arthurs seat where Dan would sit me down where Arties arse was once at, kneel before me and …..

Whoooaaaah. See I’m a bloody liability.

None of this is going to happen. I know this only with the certainty that five years of being embroiled in the ups and downs of this unrequited love affair can bring.

However I am flirting with another dangerous possibility. The possibility of being honest with my best friend. There’s a revolutionary thought. My love for Dan is bittersweet – a warm blanket to wrap myself up in, and a tormentor that continually scratches away at my warmest and gooiest insides. The tormentor wreaks much more havoc than the blanket could ever soothe so all in all the balance needs to be addressed. I’m terrified with admitting the truth of my feelings to Dan in case I lose his friendship – but his friendship is also the very thing that’s pulling me apart.

So I should tell him. I know that’s the sensible option – the good, mature option. But up till now I’ve been too scared.

But I’ve decided that I will do it. This weekend. If it feels right.

Oh god.

Wish me luck.

M xxx

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Charity’s a-calling

happy phone workers_edited-1

So my worst ever job…

My employment history has been at times humiliating, belittling and downright dirty, so it’s the title of ‘worst ever’ is surprisingly hard to give. But the out and out winner goes to the one that sucked my very soul dry.

I’d recently finished a long acting contract (aaaaaaaaaah what a lovely combination of words those are), and was too busy floating on the ‘I’m a professional actor now and I will never have to bore my days away in a call centre again’ cloud to notice my bank account depleting into the dangerously undernourished stakes. Thankfully I pulled myself out of my prideful nosedive just in time and started a frantic search for work, any work. The only real lead I found was an ominous notice in the back of ‘The Stage’ asking for actors in search of work to call a number and leave a message about themselves. It turned out to be a voice vetting process for a – you guessed it – call centre.

They called me in for an interview and to my distinct horror (given my previous post about the inglorious charity muggers) I discovered the centre was effectively a respite for weather weary chuggers. They were the people that interrupt a good episode of Corrie with a shrill ring then a story of death and despair to make you hand out promises of money to a charity whose name you can’t even remember by the time you’ve hung up (no cheery tabards here to remind you)

So I was forced with a dilemma. Did I become one of the people I’d spent a good proportion of my street walking life loathing, or did I face starvation/eviction/a journey back to live with my mother in the grim North at the age of 27. My scruples were dashed against the rock hard wall of the very real reality of an empty bank account. Of course.

At first it didn’t seem too bad. Lots of like minded souls rocked up to the training session – they all wore the same expression of looking like they’d plumped for a self ordered lobotomy rather than an eight hour shift in headphones. The glassy eyed supervisor running our initiation painted it like it was a worthy job – she threw out loads of impressive statistics about how successful this kind of fundraising had been for their charities. They wanted good success rates – but they didn’t offer bonuses as they didn’t think that was appropriate within a charity (hear hear) but if you did hit your targets you could go home early. Excellent.

Then there was a white board and lots of impressive diagrams and the ‘strategy talk’. The strategy this call centre used for all of its many charities that it worked for was a tried and tested three step sales techniques. But what does a charity sell? Well our trusty supervisor picked up her marker and wrote our main commodity in large caps bang in the middle of the board.

GUILT

Though of course this isn’t entirely accurate – we were selling a relief from guilt – a guilt they weren’t aware they carried until  five minutes ago when that telephone rang and their favourite soap was interrupted.

The strategy went like this:

ICEBREAKER – be hugely friendly and engaging – try and get a ‘in’ with the subject – find a common ground, ask about their day.

THE GUILT STORY – spin a yarn (all usefully written for you in a carefully constructed story arc that is engineered to have the greatest emotive impact) of great sadness, loss and inequality – all intricately underlaced with the strong insinuation that the person listening is downright evil for deigning to exist in such different and disgustingly over privileged circumstances.

THE FIRST ASK – go in with a request for ridiculous sum of money

‘Did you know that for fifty pounds a month you would save 50 wild pandas and a didgerdedoo… would you be help us out with that??????’

THE SECOND ASK – when they swallow their own tongue in shock at your audacity for asking for a guarentee of £600 a year in the worst recession in modern times for a charity they’d never heard of you seamlessly glide in with a significantly lower ask

‘Oh of course Mrs Jones – I quite understand that would seem like a large sum of money for some people, but did you know that for just £10 a month you could cure cancer and bring the dodo back from extinction????

THE THIRD ASK – you hear a pause – this is a much more manageable sum of money – why they could afford that – but hang on what do they care for extinct birds – and who is this creepy person asking them for money… before they hang up with a thanks but no thanks you grapple in with the most pathetically pleading voice that you could muster…

‘Oh Mrs Jones – I quite understand, these are hard times after all, but did you know that it is sometimes the smallest amounts that make the biggest difference [Note the sheer ridiculousness of this lie is astounding]… Did you know that for just three pounds a month – the price of magazine, or a coffee, or half a lager – you could give an amputated orphan the groundbreaking surgery he needs to regrow his limbs

And with that the sound of walls crumbling deafens you down your headset as your unsuspecting subject caves and rushes for her bank card.

Easy right?

Then came the hard nosed part of the training session – this ain’t no easy street of employement. Don’t make your targets that week and you’re out. Fired. Shot down. Back under poverty’s cold shadow. Well that seems fair, I thought, it’s the charity’s money that’s paying my wages after all, and why should they bank roll freeloaders – I’ll be fine – it can’t be that hard.

I was right. It wasn’t hard. It was impossible.

I’ve always been rubbish asking people for money. I’ve left numerous jobs underpaid or unpaid over the years as I get too embarrassed to chase and demand remuneration. Its ridiculous and frightfully English of me but its a character attribute i’ve come to recognise and accept. I don’t have any money balls.

So why on earth I thought I could hack it at this job is beyond me.

I was totally shit. The people on the other end of the phone could hear the apology in my smiling voice, could smell the self loathing creeping down their phone wire. I couldn’t ensnare the buggers for love nor money. I stared in wonder as around me all my fellow phone chuggers swept in for the kill on the third ask and captured bank details and left work early – while I was left getting progressively more panicky that I wouldn’t have a job at the end of the week which just added an extra unattractive smear of desperation to my voice.  The supervisors – who would routinely and slightly sinisterly listen in on your phone calls were full of advice at first, but their patience rapidly depleated:

You didn’t sound pleading enough in the third ask

You’ve got to make them feel more guilty

How can you be so bad at this? Anyone can do it?

Now, without sounding like an arrogant bugger, I’m not used to being really crap at something. Well apart from my ability to have a successful acting career and love life – but those are hardly important things now are they? But in all those really important, life affirming filler jobs I would  took pride in doing them odiously well. The fact I just out and out couldn’t do this was strangely alarming. Every hour I spent plugged into my phone, hating the sound of my own voice and dreading a telling off from some eavesdropping jobs worth was a living hell.

But the crowning glory of this job – and why it became the worst job EVER was in its final moments.

I was on a phone to an ancient sounding Scottish granny by the name of Mrs McNuir. It was an ‘upgrade’ call for a cancer charity – which meant that dear Mrs McNuir was already giving £5 a month but we were phoning to see if I could guilt her out of just that little bit more… I’d been having a fairly shocking session and so far all I’d managed was to have five people revoke their previous donations (which they’d totally forgotten they’d ever agreed to). Now Mrs McNuir was a old darling – and I’m not going to lie – I thought I was on to a winner. There were lots of concillatory sighs and even a ‘och the poor thing’ at a crucial moment in my story telling. I was getting excited – I could almost see the magical bank account digits in front of me… then I got to my first ask – which was a increase of £20 a month. There was a long pause on the other end of the phone.

“Och my dear, you’re breakin’ my heart. I wish I could gi’ more, I do. I dearly wish I could. But I can barely afford what I do give. You see my husband died last year so money’s a wee bit tight, and I’ve been havin’ a bad time of it meself recently, I’ve just had a double masectomy but I’ve been told they’ve not got all the cancer so it looks like I won’t be around for too much longer, and I’m in a wheelchair now, and its just a state pension I’m on and I’m needing every last penny. I’m so sorry – you sound like such a lovely lass and I wish I could help out more…”

It was my turn to pause.

What the fuck did I say to that?

“Oh Mrs McNuir. Of course – of course you can’t give any more – you’re amazing for giving anything at all. I’m so sorry for  everything you’ve been through…”

and with various mumbled thank yous and sorrys I rung off the phone.

Thirty seconds later and an icy sounding voice cut over my shoulder… the dreaded supervisor.

Her: “What was that?”

Me: “What?”

Her: “You only did one ask – you know it’s policy to go through all three – you could have got an extra £3 a week from her.”

Me: (a look of total disbelief plastered on my face)” She. was. dying.”

Her: “Well then there was the perfect opportunity to talk about legacies.”

And that was it. I was done. No witty retorts or proud exits that time, my soul felt too tired and used out. Without a word I reached down grabbed my bag and slumped towards the door, head bowed.

Her: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Home.”

And I did. And yes they were a very scary few weeks that followed and I practically packed a bag in preparation for a forced move back home at the age of 27, but I didn’t care. Some parts of yourself shouldn’t be sold off for a paltry paycheck.

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Babies

baby

So I’m a single woman rapidly approaching thirty. Let’s talk babies. Why not? That’s what everyone else does. All the bloody time.

For me it started at  around the time of my 25th birthday. My mother suddenly started the when are you going to find a nice man and settle down conversation. After all you don’t have forever darling… Now it seems I’m reminded about my rapidly decreasing clock life several times everyday.

I’m twenty eight. This is not a disaster. Still plenty of time to get shackled to nappies and baby wipes. However, twenty eight and never been involved in a serious relationship is another thing altogether. If I met a man tomorrow it would take a good few years of working out whether or not we could make a go at the whole marriage thing (for those old fashioned ones amongst us all) and then a couple of years of just enjoying that which would mean I might be just about primed for pregnancy at around 34…ish. And that’s if I meet the man of my dreams in the very immediate future, which banking on my last twenty eight years of loveless failure I’m not counting any pre hatched chickens on.

So this explains the concerned look begind the parentages and already coupled up or sprogged up friends when they tentaviely bring up the subject of when do I want kids. And this is all assuming that I actually want to have kids in the first place. The question, from those that ask at least, is nearly always when as apposed to do.

The reality is, dear fellow friends from the blogosphere, I’m really not sure that I do.

I’m yet to experience that legendary whoosh of maternal longing, yet to hold a baby and go gooey eyed and teary. Sure I do what I’m supposed to and coo and aaaah and say, gosh doesn’t she look like you, whilst frantically thinking – she smells of your stale milk and poo and she’s getting all red faced and itchy which either means she’s having an almighty shit or she’s getting ready to rain down the mother of all tantrums… In either case please remove her from me now please.

Yet despite all this uncertainty I still experience that frantic impatience of a woman who needs to get a man quick just incase she changes her mind one day and decides that maybe she does want a family after all.

Is it because deep down, hidden beneath all the faint gross-outs and commitment phobia – I secretly nature some fervent desire to further advance the worlds overcrowding programme? Or is it because I have been so  effectively programmed by societal expectations that, despite all my best efforts to resist, I’m coaxed into the mass hallucination that no relationship and no family equals failure.

I mean it’s everywhere isn’t it. ‘Love’ makes you happy, families make you happy. Its normal to want both things. to shun either is a slight against everyone who have spent their lives investing so heavily in those extended conceits. Everyone worries about you if you’re not in a relationship and, once you pass a certain age as a woman, if you don’t have children. And couples who have each other but don’t have children? Either there’s sympathy muttered behind doors through the assumption that they can’t conceive, or they’re branded selfish for preferring their lifestyle as tis without bearing the inevitable life clutter of a child. Sure, because having a resource guzzling western child in order to satisfy some societal endorsed longing to create a little version of yourself is a totally selfless act.

So here’s a question for you –

You read a story about an eighty year old woman whose decomposed body was found in her apartment. She’d been there for a week. She never married or had children. The proceeds of her estate will be distributed to various charities of her choosing including, lets embrace the stereotype, a large chunk to the local cats home…

What do you feel. Do you assume that this woman’s life was lonely and tragic. I know I do. And this very definite judgement of a fellow human being, who’s life and triumphs and sadnesses and joys are entirely based on the fact that we read the above and think – she died alone with no one loving her.

I feel angry with myself for leading to such conclusions, how dare I pity the brief story of someone I know nothing about. I forgive myself because I realise its society’s expectations speaking through me. I work against it.

I create a different possible story. This woman had a long and fulfilling life. She travelled the world and worked in many different jobs. She saw so many things that not a strand of DNA in her  body would allow herself to shackle herself down to a husband and a family. She had dozens of fabulous lovers who taught her endless lessons about life and culture and pain and love. In her later years she was surrounded by friends, young and old. She never lost her appetite for life and new experiences until the day death knocked on her door and invited her to undertake a whole new adventure.

Well. Why not.

Still, despite these other stories – I still don’t want to be the woman who leaves the remnants of her life t be auctioned off to raise money for the local cats home. Society always has the last laugh. It’s too big a beast to escape entirely.

Oh , and happy Valentines day.

M xxx

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Bend it like Maggie

yeah - that's me... yeah it is... (it's not.)

yeah – that’s me… yeah it is… (it’s not.)

Today I decided to try something altogether new. This is part of the new me that moans less and does exciting new activities in order to progress to  more healthy and rounded world view. Oh yes.

Todays enterprise was in fact in pursuit of become slightly less rounded, in tummy at least…

ladies and gentleman – drum roll please… Get ready to hear about my eye opening and VERY sweaty brush with…

Bikram yoga.

So – a brief introduction, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this particular form of yoga:

The yoga form was invented by someone called Mr Bikram (go figure) in the 1970s. To get all wiki-ed up about the bendy ins and out of it read more here, but if you want it in a nutshell – it’s 90 minutes of sweaty hell in a smelly oven from which you emerge looking like you’ve been pummelled through a mangle, feeling every so slightly nauseous, but generally full of overwhelming gratitude at still being alive.

I’ve been feeling rather podgy and unattractive since the excesses of Christmas so there was some definite need to take action. Being the impatient git that I am I wanted something that worked, quick. I have a delightfully stringy friend – Jasmine – who’s got a killer figure – long slim limbs wrought out of pure muscle – who’s always trying out the latest sports fad. I gave her a ring to get some advice of how to tone up fast. Apparently Bikram’s the answer – by the time she got as far as ‘you lose something like 750 calories per session’ I was sold – and totally ready to sign my name away in any hot penned deal for a better body. Another enticing factor for the impoverished post christmas fatty is that most studios do a good ‘beginners’ rate – obviously hoping to ensnare you into a bendy sweaty addiction. I went to the Hot Bikram Yoga Studio in Balham (website here) which currently does 20 days unlimited yoga for £35 which, considering each class is normally an extortinate £16.50 a class, is bargainous – and particularly good if your planning a post Christmas detox.

Wow – listen to me turned saleswoman for Bikram.

So what’s it like? Well, first off the studio was totally crammed. When I went the class before had just got out so the small changing room was heaving with sweaty bodies from the studio colliding with frozen bodies from the great outdoors. I changed into leggings and a t-shirt and immediately felt very self conscious. Everyone else seemed to be dressed in their bikinis – with teeny tiny shorts and scraps of material covering their breasts. Even more distressing was just how bloody gorgeous these women were – they had bodies to lay down and freely volunteer your life for. It was all I could do to not stare, open mouthed like the pervy tourist I was. I desperately scanned the room for some normal looking women and spotted one or two huddled in corners with too many clothes on like me looking just as shy and out of place. I decided these women were my friends. Nice normal women. Horrid amazonian beauties with your enviable taut tummies and your tanned smooth bikinied up skin. How are you even tanned for god’s sake – it’s January?

I followed one of my ‘normal’ friends into what I assumed was the studio – only to discover I was in fact trying to occupy a toilet with her. Apologising profusely and realising my stupid newbie bumbling presence had demoted me to the very bottom of the normals.

Entering a bikram studio is a tad overwhelming. First the heat hits you like solid wall. Its unbelievable. They say it’s 40 degrees but the humidity (about 40%) makes it feel even hotter. Then there’s the smell. I’m guessing a lot of the humidity in the room consists of the evaporated sweat of the previous class – the deep pungency of this is vaguely covered by a pumping out of tea tree air freshener. The result is a pungent cocktail that climbs up inside your nose and firmly takes residence. Then there are the people. The room is impossibly crowded with yoga mats topping and tailing up and down the room. At first I can’t see a gap to place mine but eventually I manage to squeeze in between an Amazonian and an Adonis of a man, with blonde sunkissed locks falling to his shoulders. I smile at him shyly as he begrudgingly moves his mat to make room for mine.

I’m not going to describe the class in infinite detail – rest assured to say it’s tough – really tough, and when you’re in the midst of it it feels like there’s no end to its torture. The heat works on you like a parasite and within five minutes the 70% of you that consists of water is desperately trying to make an escape through your overheated pores. I felt continually dizzy, and more than a little embarrassed about how shitty my balance and postures were compared the impossibly bendy pair that flanked me. I felt like the podgy kid at school who was rubbish at sports that the other kids quietly laughed at.

So were they any redeeming features?

Yes there were – and believe it or not I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go – just for the sheer sense of achievement of surviving a class if nothing else.

Its a proper work out and you feel yourself becoming more supple as the class goes on. You have moments of total exhaustion but then you also have the occasional burst of a second, third, or fifteenth wind. This new release of energy from where you thought there was none is totally exhilarating. Although I didn’t fare particularly well today I can tell this yoga is very reliant on mind over matter – and is very good for focusing a flabby mind. With a brain that is fundamentally weak willed and prone to negativity this kind of mental workout can only be a good thing. At the end of the class you lie down for five minutes, legs splayed and arms outstretched in blissful darkness. You’re exhausted – totally spent  – and this more than anything you’ve before experienced is heaven. you forget everyone else in the room, you forget the smell, you even forget the heat – and you just feel a deep and satisfied peacefulness settle into the very core of you.

Sadly this feeling is blown to smithereens on return to the hustle and bustle of the changing room, but for that fleeting moment you believe in the potential of what you and your body can do together.

So I’ll be going back. There’s nothing like going through hell to make you appreciate the everyday.

M xxx

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A tall tale

50ft

I’m afraid positive Maggie is on a temporary leave of absence. All normal services will be resumed shortly, but for now dark angry Maggie the grump is featuring in a special guest blog spot.

Reasons I hate being tall:

1 – Whilst other little girls (emphasis on little) could get away for numerous extra years with being cute, my precociously long limbs made every surrounding adult think I was always a lot older than I was. As a result I was allowed to get away with a lot less.

2 – When I was a teenager and outrageously skinny and probably at my lifetime closest to resembling the unhealthy physiques of  those models plastered all over magazines, my poor stretched body was riddled in stretch marks through the perils of shooting up ten inches, TEN INCHES my friend, in one year.

3 – Andy Scott, the love of my life during the summer I was fourteen, told me that he suppose he wouldn’t mind kissing me, but the fact that I was taller than him put him right off.

4 – Generally, until my late teens, every single boy my age seemed to be significantly smaller than me. Therefore if and when I did get any action I looked like a heffalump devouring some unsuspecting prey. Not the feminine elegant picture of romance you get in the movies.

5 – It’s nigh on impossible to get trousers that are long enough, presently I often unwillingly don that attractive dweeby look of having an unattractive sliver of pale ankle… or worse – a whole reservoir of sock.

6 – Tallness has led to insanely large feet. This means that that favourite woman’s past time of shoe hoarding has always eluded me. I’ve taught myself to not fall in love with impossibly heavenly architectured footwear, as they never, ever do them in my size. Instead I content my myself with grotesquities that resemble huge sensible boats strapped to my feet.

7 – Most men I seem to like always go for tiny pixie like demure whips of girliness (Dan, alas, included). Don’t get me wrong I’m sure all those towering supermodels are getting some, but in general the fantasy that men like a tall leggy woman isn’t all that accurate. A lot of blokes are intimidated if you look like you’d put up a good fight in an arm wrestle.

8 – When I got into drama school one of the things I was most looking forward to were the dance classes… Imagine that – earning a qualification by putting some moves in on a Monday afternoon. This enthusiasm soon died when I realised all the men were clambering over the small girls as dance partners. They didn’t fancy throwing someone taller than they were in to the air, or through their legs in a lindy hop move when there was a strong likelihood that  i wouldn’t fit and there would be an unfortunate meeting of hard skull and groin. (this actually did happen once – sorry Tim…) Thus the lessons turned into some awful selection procedure where, like the shit girl at rounders, I was always left to last – staring at the scuff marks on my dance shoes and desperately trying to pretend that I didn’t mind.

9 – Again at drama school, because I was taller than most of my male compadres – I was never cast as the love interest – but always the mother or the eccentric. Not so fun. The one boy who was taller than me – and who therefore I got partnered with for most classes – had severe halitosis.

10 – Launched into the real world as a non so little fledging actress I realised that the same prejudices lay outside the drama school gates. For some, to me inexplicable, reason – small actors rule supreme. I’ve lost count of the number of jobs I haven’t got because of my height…

Which brings me to the reason for my rant.

Today was my hotly anticipated, life changing, palpitation giving audition. I’ve devoted the last week of my life in priming myself for the all important ten minutes in the audition room. I read the play three times, and prepared all the sections that they might possibly ask me to read. I learnt two new monologues which I inflicted on my poor housemates for two hours last night. I prepared a song – as they asked – and spent £60 of my non existent riches in paying for a singing lesson to make sure it was as good as it could be (admittedly I’m not much of a singer – but I do okay). None of this made me any less nervous of course. I woke up at stupid o’clock this morning with my heart doing some seriously acrobatic somersaults and my mind racing like it was in a world qualifying sprint. I quelled the nervous energy enough to don my best outfit and apply some sturdy make up and headed out to my own personal judgement day.

I arrived at the venue way too early which meant an achingly long sit-in with the other girls going for the same part. We all sat there smiling sweetly whilst obviously tearing each others’ chances apart in our heads:

she’s far too blonde, she’s wearing too much make up, she just looks like she’d be a little bit shit

Then, of course, you have the one that looks totally perfect for the part. She sits there, a picture of calm and collection – oozing confidence and high self esteem. You hear her asking if it would be possible to slot in a little earlier as she has two other auditions to get to this morning and a matinee of a show she’s doing at the Royal Court this afternoon.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

You desperately try and blank her out and try and build up the house of cards that is your own confidence again before your name is called…

‘Maggie Adams’

Damn it – my thumb fisted attempt to re-assemble my morale was only a job half done. Fuck it. Never mind. I am a model of cool and preparation. And Breathe….

I steeled myself and went into the room.

On the far side of the room, in front of a huge dance mirror was a desk with five people stacked behind. Five. Dear God. I recognised the director and the casting director and I assumed the others must have been the musical director and a couple of assistants. It was a peculiarly large space which meant I had a good ten metres to cover before reaching the sanctuary of their desk with its lonely sole chair perched on the other side of the eagle eyed panel.

‘Hello’ I said brightly with a huge grin painted on my face.

“Hi’ – came the cold clipped voice of the director. The others all remained silent – just numerous pairs of eyes staring at me, examining me.

I am a model of cool and preparation, I am a…. I walked across the space whilst desperately trying to not examine and judge my own walk reflected in the unforgiving mirror that loomed in front of me. As I walked the director scowled unattractively and leant into mutter something into the casting directors ear.

Shit – why are you scowling? What did you just whisper? You hate me. You hate me already. What have i done?

Despite the fact my soul was experiencing a car pile up inside, the smile was still plastered on on the outside by the time I reached the table and fell into the chair. The director was still muttering into the CD’s ear and I strained to hear what he was saying but he was somehow, magically totally inaudible to my stretched ear. I swear I don’t know how directors do this – but it’s a phenomenon I’ve come across more than one. Maybe at director school they’re taught how to speak at a resonance that actors can’t detect like the lowly dogs we are.

I sat there feeling terrifically awkward and praying for the earth to open up and greedily swallow me down.

When he finished his indiscernible monologue he turned and stared at the stack of papers in front of him without bothering to lift his heavy eyeballs to deign to make eye contact with me.

‘Hi Maggie’

It was the casting director – a skeletal woman in her fifties with a mass of brown frizz for hair and a voice that would cut glass

‘I’m afraid that you’re just too tall for this part. We’ve already cast the man you’d be playing opposite and I’m afraid it just wouldn’t work. Thank you so much for coming in – maybe next time’

It was all I could do to stay sitting upright and not instantly crumple into a quivering wreck.

What??!??!?!? They weren’t even going to let me read? They weren’t going to let me perform the speeches that I’d spent hours picking to ensure they were the right match and spent days painstakingly preparing? I’ve gone without solid food this week so I could afford a singing lesson and you aren’t even going to let me open my mouth?

I breathed in deeply. Goddamn it – I was going to try one last jab of pushiness – maybe if they saw me act they’d instantly sack the short arse they’d hired and look for a taller boy rather than a smaller girl. Or just give him some stilts for fucks sake. Or cut me off at the knees, I’m not proud…

‘Would you mind if I gave you one of my speeches anyway?’, my words were slow and steady and forcibly bright as I concentrated very hard to dispel any quiver of emotion from my voice. It wasn’t easy – I could feel a wave of despair crashing up from my stomach and pulling in the walls of my throat

The CD looked at the director who, eyes still fixed on the desk, gave the slightest shake of his head.

‘Sorry Maggie – not today – we’re running late as it is.’

‘Okay. Well thank you for calling me in’

Why are you thanking them? The bastards – it says how tall you are on your CV – can they not read? They’ve just wasted a week of your life and – worse – dashed a dream that you could easily have done without the pain of having. They won’t even give you a couple of minutes to perform a crappy bloody monologue, and you THANK them?!

God I hated myself in that moment.

Needless to say I got out of there as quickly as I physically could and darted through the waiting room with my eyes firmly drilled to the floor. I could almost feel the wave of glee that went up from the awaiting auditionees at the girl who’d been in the room for just two minutes. At least their audition was unlikely to go that badly.

When I got to the safety of the street outside the tears blurted out.

I just felt so stupid. And, ironically, so very, very small.

I’m off now to find an incredibly TALL bottle of wine to lose my troubles in.

I’ll look out for positive Maggie and tell her to drop you a line next time she’s around…

Till then,

M xx

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