Becoming brave

Brilliant, inspiring blog piece. I would love to take part in physical, full contact sport…but I’m terrified.

The Finishing School

I am, sadly, not a stranger to aggression. I experienced physical and verbal bullying in school and at home. The latter continued well into adult life. While I always tried to stand up for myself, it never seemed to achieve anything, and I never stopped feeling afraid. Somehow this got twisted in my mind and I believed I was a coward.

In November 2014 I finally cut contact with a close family member, I was free from the last of the bullies. I knew this was my chance to become the person others had tried to grind out of me for all these years. But I did not fully know how to do that. I wanted to be strong, but I felt weak – the fallout from such a hugely emotional decision was draining.

My endlessly supportive and loving husband already trained at Leicester Shootfighters, and suggested that I go…

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Christmas Spirit and Violence against Women.

I was paying for a cliche in a large department store with a current cutesy tv ad  today – bright red woollen socks, a Christmas present for my Dad- when a woman appeared at the side of the cash desk.  She wasn’t crying or yelling, but asked the “colleague” to call security. The man she was with was harassing her, she said. He was laughing, and had his hand on her shoulder.   It didn’t look like anything to be worried about. No-one was shouting, or swearing. No one was hitting or screaming. No-one did anything, no-one moved. She walked quickly off into the toilets. He followed. In that brief second, I smelt old alcohol, dirt and sweat. It was 10am.

“Are you going to call security?” I asked the shop assistants. They were blank. Obviously this scenario wasn’t covered in their training.
“Someone help her” said a voice behind me……nothing happened.

I grabbed my bag, and followed after her, telling the assistant to call security. She didn’t react.

I went into the toilets.I called out to her, making sure he hadn’t followed me. I’d watched him walk toward the main shopping centre, so thought I was safe.
I found her hiding in a cubicle, shaking. I mean really shaking. Whole body, uncontrollable gross motor jerking.  I asked her if she was hurt. What did she want to do…?  I had my phone out ready to call the police.  I was concerned for her wellbeing, but really worried  about my young teen girls, who were in another part of the shop. 
“Has he gone, where is he? I want to go home. ”
I tried to reassure her, told her he’d  walked off.  We crept out of the toilet cubicle,  through the washroom, and out onto the shopfloor. 
I saw my partner there. His face a reassurance, his working knowledge of domestic violence and his sheer physical presence even more so. He’s an MMA fighter and Judoka. Calm, but able to use his physicality.

My partner told me the staff had called security, who’d escorted the man  from the shopping centre. They wanted the woman to come back to the pay desk.

She was still distressed, shaking. My girls were hovering in the background, trying to smile at me. I think the smiles were to reassure me, that they were fine, we’re safe, mum. Honest.

At the pay desk they told us he was gone, he’d been ejected from the shopping centre. Should they call the police?
The woman just wanted to go home, she said. She looked exhausted. He’d turned up at her house last night. Drunk out of his mind. Shouting.
They’d broken up weeks ago, he wouldn’t leave her alone, couldn’t accept it was over.  He wasn’t supposed to be near her. There was an order in place.

We offered to take her home, she lived in an apartment in the shopping centre.
As we walked through the shops, she told me what he’d done, what he’d said. The promises, the threats.

She opened the door to the apartments. Of course he was sitting there, waiting for her. Drunk, swaying, stinking. But with a look on his face that frightened me. A man who had never been challenged, being passively confronted by a family out shopping. He was angry.
Who was I, he demanded. How did I know her? Who the fuck was HE? She muttered, no one, just looking out for me, you’re frightening me.
My partner started talking to him, quietly, passive, non-confrontational.  The man kept glaring at me, who the fuck was I? What fucking business of mine was it? He stepped toward me.
I thought he was going to hit me. This tall, stinking, blood stained cunt. I didn’t want to get hit, or my partner have to hit him. I could see my girls loitering some feet away. Frightened. I told him to go, I had the police on my phone.

He went.

A security guard turned up eventually and went after him. I made sure the woman locked herself in, and we went home. I reported it to the police, but have no idea what happened.

I despise that cunt for showing my girls domestic violence. For making me feel small and vulnerable. For terrifying me.
If I helped one woman  to avoid a beating, was it worth it?

You tell me.

Posted after much deliberation due to the sensitive nature of the incident.

(Not Really)Being Brave #4

I’ve been to London again this weekend. I sold some of my vintage dresses-that are several sizes( many sizes! ) – too small now- to pay for the hotel room.  The dresses glared at me when I opened my wardrobe, and made me feel really shitty. I was a size 10 when I was 20, and now I’m a size 20, at nearly 40. There’s lots of reasons why I’ve gained weight over the last 20 years. I’d settled at a 12 stone, size 16 for most of it, but I’ve put on 4 stone in 2 years. Medication and poor mental health is to blame but I’ve eaten too much, and not exercised enough to counteract it. So, I’m a big fat mare who can’t fit into her pretty 50s dresses anymore. I’ve been brave and sold them, so sad that I can’t wear them anymore, sad at that lost me who was young and pretty and thin. But I feel relieved that I am freed from the skinny tyranny of my former self, hanging in my wardrobe, taunting me….with her scrawny frame and twiggy fingers (I’m joking, I was never skinny…)

So…..I took my family, plus my parents, to the Paralympic Day festival in the Olympic Park. I love wheelchair basketball, and had such a great time at last year’s Paralympic games, I wanted to recapture some of that.  As I’ve blogged previously, I have agoraphobic panic disorder and social phobia. I find going out difficult, especially public transport, so attending last year’s Paralympics was a huge challenge for me, one which I managed to do and found exhilarating/exhausting.
I wrote this three weeks ago, and have had three weeks of panic attacks and anxiety. So, now I resume the tale…..

Going to the Paralympic Day festival was a sort of celebration of progress for me. I was amazed that I could cope with crowds, trains, the Underground ( which I fell in love with), the security searches at the Olympic park….I managed,with the help of medication…..and I actually felt like I was alive again. I felt free. Agoraphobia is a thief, it steals your confidence, your ability to do simple tasks, the space you occupy, and your life. I felt like I was stealing that back.

The Being Brave part starts….
I am quite happy travelling on trains and the Underground now, even at rush hour, with my children in tow. I’m barely anxious, I just get on and get off like every other country bumpkin.

The A-Board sign at the bottom of the DLR steps made my heart pound, and my hands and feet tingle. Three words. Rail Replacement Bus service. OK, 4 words. Holy fuck. Buses. I fucking hate them. I realised that for the entire weekend, I would be having to get on a bus whenever I needed to get back to my room. Shit.
I had to travel to Canning Town on a bus with 300 other people, driven by a terminator wannabe, at 70 miles an hour. Through red lights and over zebra crossings. I was terrified, and in shutdown panic mode I could barely stand up, because of my fucked up ankle joints…no splints, what a twat…..and the adrenaline dumping into my system. It was only being jammed inbetween my George and an old lady with a pile of suitcases that saved me from the floor. I was also trapped next to the folding doors….I’m not sure how I survived. When we got to Canning Town I had to sit down…thought I was going to faint and vom. I won’t bore you with the rest of the shitty bus journeys, except to say that my mum found the the ideal opportunity to keep discussing my mental health and “therapy”. As in….
“This is all good therapy for you, isn’t it?” and ” are you going to tell your therapist about this?” over and over again…
So a good proportion of South and East London now know I’m a mentalist. Thanks Mum!!

I want to go back, to feel brave again, to recapture my little bit of East London, and feel like I’m winning again. I’m skint however, a grand of unexpected bills has wiped us out. So I’ll sort my wardrobe out, and sell something else. …….and make sure TfL aren’t bussing me first.

Save with Jamie: Get rid of the ‘massive f***ing TV’ and ‘shop at markets’ instead… | A GIRL CALLED JACK

An Open Letter

Jamie Oliver. I despair. I really do.

You have absolutely no idea what food poverty really is. How tiring real poverty is. How depressing it can be, and why people might choose a quick, tasty unhealthy hit of cheesey chips or pizza.

Read up on this in The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell talked about it…the preference for a plate of fish and chips, over a home made wholemeal loaf. The longing for “something a little bit tasty” and a cup of sugary tea, for a quick lift.

I’m not “poor”, by the way, Jamie.. Money is very tight, but I shop in Aldi and Asda. I have the occasional Chinese takeaway ( PDT….payday takeaway!)
I have a couple of bottles of fizzy pop a week, and…steady yourself….buy some chocolate for my girls and me to eat on a Saturday night.  I don’t drink or smoke, Jamie. Do you?

Are you ever really exhausted, Jamie? So much so that the thought of catching the bus to my  nearest market town, a journey of about half an hour minimum, on a Saturday…because I work full time, then spending a couple of hours buying a week’s worth of fruit and veg, plus whatever else your idyllic plan suggests, lugging it home on the bus, doesn’t appeal. I’ve got a problem with fatigue, so I’d rather buy my fruit and veg in Aldi, and save my time and  energy for other things. Like raising my children, my voluntary work, and perhaps a bit of time with my partner.  You know, like I imagine you and your wife do…….

I usually cook from scratch…I prefer not to buy processed foods, but I keep something in the freezer for emergencies. Is that ok with you? It’s not mussels I’m afraid…usually something I can bung in a wrap with some salad. Does that pass the test?

Don’t get me wrong Jamie, I love shopping on Leicester market. The Asian veg and herbs are great. The fruit seems cheap, but barely lasts 48 hours  in the fridge. You can’t choose your produce like you can in Asda, and if you point out damaged fruits, the stall holders get a bit pissy. I can choose exactly what I want in the supermarket, and it’s usually great quality, and lasts. I buy Basics and it’s fine.

So, like
I’ll save my money, and won’t buy your book. I’ll spend it on some Aldi Super6, and enjoy it.

And by the way, Jamie, my telly is 30 inches, and, despite being 40,it’s the only new telly I’ve ever had.

I hope this is letter is ok with you, and helps with the promotion of your new book/ TV series (which I’m sure all us poor people will be watching on our tellies) because I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to get your name splashed all over the media today, was it?


Molly Teaser.


Home grown salad. Eggs from my hens. Asda smartprice onions and peppers. Frittata and salad.

Madsplaining … as it was mansplained to me. On offering advice to people with mental health problems

Amazing post on #madsplaining by fellow blogger sectioneduk, the ignoble art of pissing off people with mental health issues, by offering *advice*, cures, life enhancing routines or telling them to suck it up and grow a pair.
I’ve been #madsplained to, on more occasions than I wish to recall. Sometimes with genuine care and loving intentions…other times, because, you know mentalhealth isn’t sexy, or comfortable to talk about.

Read and laugh/weep.



Madsplaining: Offering unsolicited advice to someone on how they should manage their mental health (especially by peers and mental health professionals)

On twitter (and no doubt on other social media platforms), we mental health folks share a lot of detail about our lives. We talk about our good and bad experiences of mental health treatment, medications, symptoms, cheese sandwiches, our lives in general. Sometimes, when someone’s sharing a problem they’re experiencing with managing their mental health, other tweeps – those with lived experience or mental health professionals (or both) – will chip in with helpful tips.  We can be a sharing, caring bunch.

“Oh, I tried X and it works wonders for me. Why not give it a go?” “I saw a documentary about this new thing the other day that I thought would help you with that thing you mentioned.” Sometimes this moves towards more generic helpful…

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Recipe: Dustbin Bread

Inspired and reminded by I made this thrifty quick bread yesterday.

I used to do a lot of “fancy” cooking, but since being ill, I hated it. It was an absolute grind to churn out never ending meals…but enough moaning.. I’m trying to regain my enthusiasm for cooking real food.

Dustbin bread is a very basic cheese scone-type mix baked in Ioaf tin…or a cake tin…or on a tray, whatevs…
but the name comes from it’s amazing ability to save things from the dustbin.  I hate throwing food away, and rarely do it, unless I really have to.

I tend to make this when I have odds and ends of cheese left over, or if it’s gone a bit hard. You can add hard cheeses, brie-types, mozzarella, blue cheese  parmesan…you choose. Whatever’s hiding in your fridge, behind that pack of yoghurt.

I’ve also chopped up and chucked in the odd slice of ham, chorizo, bacon, salami…a bit of salty cooked meat can give it a real kick.

If you’re feeling so inclined, you can add a couple of slowly sweated onions, mixed into the final dough. Same goes for peppers, garlic, or chilis. If you have a few manky jars of nearly finished chutney, you can swirl that into the final dough too.

So….the basic recipe. It’s a bit basic.

220g Self Raising flour
Pinch of salt
Twist of pepper
Herbs, whatever you fancy
50g cheese minimum but add however much you like…
1 egg
80ml sunflower oil
120ml milk.

Plus whatever odds and sods you like.


Put the flour, salt, pepper, cheese into a bowl. Mix gently.


In a jug, mix the milk, oil and egg.


Stir into the dry mix, until you have a soft dough.
Gently add any Dustbin-escapees…..

Place in a smallish loaf tin, or in a flattish mound in a cake tin.


Bake at 200°C or Gas Mark 5/6 for 30 mins. My oven is a bit crap, so I check it from 20. Sometimes it needs up to 35 mins.
Tastes bloody lovely with veg soup…or on it’s own with apples and walnuts.

They call it “mental illness.”

Beautiful post. Please read it, it really strikes a chord and it powerful. Thank you x


They call it that. Sometimes that’s accurate, but sometimes it’s pathologising difference against a crooked template. It’s expecting a cat to recognise itself in a mirror, despite the fact that cats can’t see as well as us and can’t see well at all within a foot of their own head, and rely on smell, their whiskers and ears to identify who and what things are. Yet we put a cat in front of a mirror, we watch it not react, and we decide it has no sense of self, no personhood. Science.

It’s not that the cat is stupid or deficient in self. It’s that we are unable to have a conversation with difference.

So let’s get this straight from the get-go: call it what you will.

I am alive in strange ways.

I’m an extremely emotional person. A thing you’d brush off as nothing will make me want…

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