Thursday 8 November 2012

Mummy on the Edge - Families Magazine Nov/ Dec 2012

“Mummy, look!” gasped Mini-Me as she pointed to the pavement outside our house. It was Thursday morning and we were about to say our goodbyes before she went to her friend's house to go to school. I was all packed and excited about my impending gourmet weekend away.

“#@$!” I exclaimed, recoiling in horror. It was a fox lying on the ground. Dead. Open eyed. I momentarily considered what the universe meant by this portent, before taking a picture of it on my gadget and zooming to the airport to get on a plane to Biarritz. My friend kindly volunteered to phone the council and get it taken care of so that I didn't have to face a rotting corpse upon my return.

This was our first 3 nights apart from each other since Mini-Me went away with the school earlier in the year for two nights and missed me very much. I'm thinking we need increased practice (more trips for me!) because she will be going away for a week with the school again next year. My weekend away was a food-themed celebration of the 40th Birthday of Ani, one of my oldest friends whom I have known since we were 7 – three years younger than Mini-Me is now. It got me thinking about how wonderful it would be for her if she is able to keep in touch with her friends for the rest of her life too (-especially ones that will make her life glamorous by necessitating trips abroad and who run their own organic spice companies and will cook elaborate and mouthwatering meals for her too; ones that work in fashion and regularly drop bags of clothing on her coffee table; not to mention ones that will happily organise the removal of dead animals from outside her house when she is on glamorous trips abroad...) Strong friendships are so incredibly important in life and the older I get, the more I believe this to be true.

It is something I'm thinking about a lot now, when considering which schools to put down on Mini-Me's secondary school application. A lot of time during my break away was spent dissecting Mini-Me's secondary school prospects. I know I have been going on about it since the last issue of Families NW, but having finally received the results of the 11-plus test our munchkins were put through, and with the application deadline looming, the decision, whilst becoming a bit clearer, hasn't got much easier or less weighty.

Whilst getting into a good school that's a bit far away might be an achievement, what about the sacrifice of not having a network of friends living nearby? Does a social life matter less once you are in a school that is hardcore results-driven? And will it affect their self-esteem if your kid's background is a bit less, shall we say, conventional than her peers? I just don't know. One theory I have heard reapeated over the past month, from people who have been through the whole process and also from parents posting on the excellent forum is that your child will get into the school that is right for them and if they want to work hard they will do well wherever they are. This is very comforting. After all, we all want what is best for our children; personally, I want to give Mini-Me the chances that I never had. But I question whether my desires for her are motivated by my own vanity or by what's the best for her specific abilities and personality. Like many parents out there, I have some long hard thinking to do...

Gosh, when I was ten, there was none of this to think about. Me and Ani and Chanda (uber fashion friend) were busy planning seriously uninformative school assemblies and making up dances in the playground. My biggest anxiety was born of a Diwali assembly when the sari I had shambolically wrapped around me started to unfurl and entangle itself around the shrine about which we were dancing and I chose the moment when my big butt was facing the school to bend over and start unravelling it. I never lived it down but have embraced it now as a treasured memory. Anyway, my point is that it was a given that I would just go to the local high school and me and my friends did okay. I devoured Smash Hits fortnightly and that turned me into a writer. Sorta.

Mini-Me on the other hand has to think about secondary schools, not to mention about a rotting dead fox – which was STILL there when I came back on Sunday!

For more Life on the Edge with Angelina, visit Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at

Mummy on the Edge/ Families Magazine October 2012

Tiger and Sloth Mother go head to head in the battle of going out vs staying in and studying.

Last Sunday, Sensible Mum and Mummy on the Edge fought a battle. Sensible Mum thought she should stay at home with Mini-Me and take the opportunity of the last full, free day before her 11-Plus exam (which would determine her secondary school - and therefore her Path In Life) to do some last minute maths and verbal reasoning practice. Mummy on the Edge however, thought that she should grab the opportunity of probably the last, hottest and bluest sky of the summer to go out and enjoy the Thames Festival on the Southbank in the glorious, day-glo sunshine. The battle was long and it was hard. There was guilt, vacillation, recrimination and finally, resolution; I think that my alter egos may have discovered a new psychological model.

I'm actually not as freaked out by the whole Year 7 admissions thing as I thought I would be, instead managing to remain fairly Zen about the whole thing. It has been at the back of my mind for several years, ever since my attempts to plug my ears with my fingers and pretend I couldn't hear whilst party to the discussions on the subject by other parents at the Speech and Drama class that Mini-Me attended from Year 1. I eventually realised that self-delusion wouldn't make the prospect disappear. Last year, when the Year Sixes were taking their 11-Plus exams, I remember seeing the ashen faces of their normally cheerful parents, people whom I would ordinarily stop to chat to, now hurrying away at pick-up time, looking stressed out and bleary eyed, not wishing to make eye contact with each other or anyone. This time next year, that will be us, I sensed with oppressive dread.

Now the moment is here. There is not much more that Mini-Me can do in the final days before exam day. I've discovered that I harbour too much guilt to be the Tiger Mother I thought I should be, but also too much surrogate ambition to be the passive non-interventionist (Sloth Mother?) either.

At the start of the summer holidays, Mini-Me had attended a mock test day (at the same time frightening and enlightening) organised by Chuckra education followed by one week of Bright Stars Learning summer school. In need of a holiday, we flew to Lake Garda in Italy. Ryanair caused me no bother with my fishing vest, which I bought online a few days before travelling to carry all the extra stuff (passports, money, camera, phone, mixed nuts (brain food), paperbacks and, in a big pocket on the back, Mini-Me's four Susan Daughtrey Verbal Reasoning Technique and Practice books – just to keep the juices flowing) that I would normally put in my handbag, which one is not allowed to carry in addition to one's cabin bag. Luckily, Mini-Me has not yet reached the stage where everything is an embarrassment, so being in the care of a nutter wearing a green, oversized beer-bellied-man's fishing vest with loads of bulging pockets emblazoned with "ZEBCO Let's go fishing" on the front and across the back was not the trauma-inducing event I feared it might be (although, admittedly, it may come out later, in therapy).

In Italy, it was too hot to do nothing so we did lots of sightseeing, walking and eating (and just a little bit of Verbal Reasoning and Maths of course). We enjoyed tagliatelle, pizza, risotto, grilled fish not to mention papardelle with hare ragu and spinach dumplings - and litres of yummy gelato. By the time we came back to London, the ZEBCO fishing vest was a tight fit, due to my gelatover-indulgence and my brain was a spaghetti serving of boat, bus, train and aeroplane timetables. Hiring a car offers a lot more freedom in a place like that, but I haven't yet worked my way up to driving abroad.

Now back to reality; this is the busiest time I remember experiencing. I have resorted to a traditional pen and diary to help me keep up with all the important dates I have to remember, because the life-changing-phone-gaget-thingy and googlecalendar are simply not reliable enough. 11-Plus; music entry exams; open evenings; the start of my Sing and Sign term. I'm not complaining about having no time for an adult social life. Being the month of my 40th birthday, I had pencilled out most of it anyway, to accommodate the time I will inevitably need to spend mourning the loss of my youth in a depressive stupor; Mini-Me's exams give me a socially acceptable reason not to celebrate. Yay.

In case you are wondering, it was Sensible Mum who won the battle between staying in and going out. Mummy-on-the-edge would have come home too late and Mini-Me needs her early nights in the run up to the exam. Good luck to those of you with children in Year 6.

For more Life on the Edge with Angelina, including her choice of 11-Plus websites, visit Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Mummy on the edge, Families NW Magazine September

Angelina Melwani and Mini-Me share their Olympic journey

By the age of about four, Mini-Me was displaying an early taste for schadenfreude and I think it was me who had inadvertently cultivated this bent by recounting tales from my childhood. I found that the stories she most appreciated invariably involved a degree of mild cruelty and peer-induced humiliation. And there could be no more fertile ground for such stories than school, specifically the sports field. Failing to learn to swim in late autumn in the freezing cold outdoor swimming pool which was peppered with dead daddy-long-legs. A failed javelin attempt which landed me on my bottom in a ditch covered in a chocolate coating of mud. And these are just the highlights. All in all, my collective PE attempts were a jaw-dropping display of physical ineptitude. If there had been yoga on the curriculum, I might have excelled at it. But by the time of the post A level boat dance (the dodgy uncle of today's high school prom, held on a non-travelling, rickety old vessel docked somewhere on the Thames), my need for sport had been sated only by hours wasted at the wonky pool table in the common room.

Mini-Me however is destined for greater things. She can ride a bike (thanks to my wonderful friend who taught her while I was away on a trip), she can swim (thanks to years of swimming lessons, come summer and winter), she did a couple of terms of karate (before giving up because it was too stressful) and we have discovered that she has good aim (through a couple of goes at velcro archery on a school trip and at summer camp last year). I am very relieved that having a supremely mal-coordinated mummy-on-the-edge has merely dampened and not drowned her prospects of sporting prowess.

Mini-Me and I were in Harrow holding a banner for super-boy Jai Padhiar (son of my friend and colleague, Versha, Sing and Sign franchisee for Brent Cross, Edgware and Mill Hill) as he carried the Olympic torch - and a big grin. Together, over a greasy takeaway, we watched the rousing Olympic opening ceremony, feeling in our bones that this was the start of something we would never forget. Mini-Me stayed up very late to witness the relentless parade of participating countries, yanking me awake from post-biriani zonkage towards the end, screaming, “Mum, wake up! It's team GB!”

In the farce which was the Olympic ticket drama, I managed to claim possession of the hottest tickets of the games, (and if they weren't the hottest, we were darn well gonna pretend that they were) Beach Volleyball. Predictably, I had never attended a public sporting event other than Mini-Me's sports day and a baseball game while on holiday in New York. Whilst I anticipated some socio-anthropological enlightenment to be gained from attending the games and I was really looking forward to many years of smug reminiscence of how I took Mini-Me to the London 2012 Olympics, I simply was not prepared for how much PROPER ENJOYMENT would actually be had on the day! The night before the match, I went online to find out about whom we would be seeing and was absolutely delighted to realise that we were going to be watching MEN as well as women and the men's teams included Brazil and the potential hotness of Italy. Result! I had just assumed that the tickets were for Women's Beach Volleyball only.

Mini-Me and I were entranced with the festive atmosphere. The weather was fabulous, the tip of the London Eye was visible on one side and we couldn't help but get sucked into the sporting spirit, shouting and whooping all the way. We particularly enjoyed the swimwear-clad dancers shaking their male and female booties in a joyous conga (sadly not shown on telly) every ten minutes. It was major fun!

This previously alien enthusiasm for watching sports tightened its fist around the baton of our mini household and raced away with us throughout the first two weeks of August. We were overwhelmed with Olympic fever and fervour, glued to the telly watching diving, fencing, volleyball, pole vault, triathlon, synchronised swimming, running, unidentified flying object throwing and much, much more.

Like many parents, I'm wondering how to capitalise on this Olympic enthusiasm and encourage Mini-Me to get out there and “do it”. I'm guessing that the way forward is less stories of my epic failures and creating more opportunities to practice and excel together. I guess I'll be volunteering myself for target practice just as soon as the eleven plus is over...

For more Life on the Edge with Angelina including a trip to Lake Garda, visit Angelina runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at

Monday 2 July 2012

Mummy on the Edge Families Magazine: July August 2012

Ah... What is the life of a single mother if she cannot torment her single daughter from time to time?

While performing the drudgery of clearing out her cupboards, after attiring Mini-Me in a pleated skirt, a ribbed polo-neck and my oldest, thickest pair of specs, I took a picture and posted it on facebook asking if anyone knew whom I had created. Of course it was Velma from Scoobie-Doo and the look of annoyed dissatisfaction on Mini-Me's face served only to authenticate the near-perfect rendition.

“Mummy! Why did you put that on facebook??” For a cheap laff, obviously, my little cherub. I think my childhood was too austere and I am having my playtime now, in middle age (nearly 40 if you must know). During her 10 years, poor Mini-Me has born the brunt of my regression with good-natured alacrity. She has tolerated my rusty scissors in her luscious locks and pretended to like the blunt bobs and unwanted fringes I have left her sporting. Now however, I fear the wind is changing. I recently took her for her first vaguely posh (well, paid for, anyway) haircut at Cedars of Bushey. Hmm... I need to re-exert my influence as much as possible now, before my living “Girls World” toy (remember? I always wanted one as a child) grows up and asserts her authority over her own appearance. And everything else.

The recent Diamond Jubilee of her Maj provided the perfect opportunity for my favourite brand of sad, pathetic fun. Naturally, the merciless weather prevented our trudge to Central London to witness first hand the pomp and ceremony. However, some patriotic and kind individuals down our street had organised a “Jubilee Picnic” featuring a special fancy dress competition with a prince and princess theme. That was all I read on the pink flyer that came through our letterbox before I ran upstairs to dig out my old wedding tiara (lucky I didn't burn it after all), pearls and anything else I could dredge up from the bottom of my dusty costume jewellery box.  The promise of cake and roast chicken and thyme flavoured Walkers Sensations crisps was enough to draw Mini-Me out of the house and into the street wearing my fakery and her dressing gown which has “princess” embroidered on it. Of course she won first prize. (Let's ignore the fact that she was the only princess to have ventured out in the rain.) This was not the first time I had worked Jubilee magic on my unwitting child-victim. When she was a baby I fashioned a crown out of my bangles and tissue paper for the Queens's Golden Jubilee. What will I do in 10 year's time? She will be twenty and I will be nearing 50. Gulp. Will they still be selling Girls Worlds?

Anyway, it will be retribution time by then. Mini-Me is already telling me what looks good and what looks funny. Last Friday when the bin men were out, she told me I looked like I had nothing on under my trench coat because I was wearing shorts. I actually had to go and put leggings on to appease her!

Yesterday, when my gorgeous 19 year old niece made me put her bandage dress on (“For jokes, Auntie” (- Oh! I suddenly can see now how this will all backfire on me - )) I  found out how much fun it actually is to play make-believe. I was instantly transmogrified into “Lisa”, the oldest hag from Real Housewives of Beverley Hills (don't look at me like that, I do also watch Newsnight, and The Book Show...) using an old cuddly toy as Giggie, the permanently attached chihuahua. Of course, although Mini-Me hadn't a clue who I was (as probably no one reading this does either, but you can IMAGINE, right?) tottering around in my sister's stilettos, and posing in front of her huge, ornate mirror, spouting hackneyed platitudes from the show, she did enjoy hanging dangly sparkles on me and laughing at my impression. “Mummy, you look BEAUTIFUL!” What fun we had together; she, lavishing me with compliments and me, pretending to be a filthy-rich, botoxed, egotist. Is this not what experts mean when they say you should make time for imaginative play with your children?

For more Life on the Edge with Angelina, including details of her latest life-changing gadget visit Angelina runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth and Sing and Sign has just won the Netmums awards for the best pre-school classes in Harrow and in Brent! More info at

Monday 30 April 2012

The aim? To blog often enough to not have to look up the password to said blog, every time I feel compelled to type something of note or no note.

The reality? Motivating myself to write in order to fill in time before the start of real Housewives of Beverley Hills. See, the thing is, real writers don't watch trash TV. Do they? No, they do not. They are busy reading. And writing. And living. And loving. Whereas I am wishing. And washing.

I am sitting on my tidy sofa in my tidy living room. This is a novelty for me since I have struggled to maintain some sort of order in my humble home for many years. I seemed to have turned a corner, after a mammoth chucking session over a week ago, spurred on not by whom I discovered around 10 years ago, but by these brief, sage words of advice from a friend: "Throw it away". That and the visit of an estate agent.

Floordrobe no longer, my clothes are hanging neatly in the cupboard. My dressing table, bedside table and desk are deserts, gleaming surfaces challenging me to blot their landscapes with any random piece of crap. But I will not do it. The house is a miracle to behold. It is something I have never experienced before, without shoving everything in a cupboard before visitors' arrival. I mean, really, it's so tidy and cozy and warm that I almost want to stay and not move.

I have discovered that messinesss was not my impediment to writing.

Next entry: A study of contemporary hocus pocus.

Sunday 29 April 2012

A friend posted this on facebook:

It's really funny.

Mummy on the Edge

May June 2012

It was a long school holiday, after everyone had gone bonkers and the telly said that the petrol pumps had run dry, and I had got into the dangerously comfortable habit of not leaving the house. You may struggle to believe this, but I am exceedingly lazy and have, shall we say, reclusive tendencies. Mini-Me had her bike and the nearby park, not to mention a copious supply of brain-pokeage from maths work printed from the interweb. Although I hadn't been shopping for a week and had a date-sensitive £5 Tesco coupon that was burning a hole somewhere in the footwell of my car, I decided not to venture out into the apocalypse but instead to stay home and make do. Luckily, I am gifted with a special talent (no, not THAT). I am able to produce comestible slop using items from my fridge that others may politely regard as half dead. Listen: a pepper past its prime is no impediment to a perfectly palatable pasta.

By the time I had worked my way through risotto al fridge bottom, frozen pastry, and various shades of lentil, I thought that Mini-Me must be fed up of me and my slop. I was certainly fed up of myself... So it was time to venture out into the open world. I'd been meaning to take Mini-Me to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden for a few years. And now, I thought it would be a fun and educational break from homework and from my mad “it's-a-jungle-out-there” type behaviour. Plus, I thought, it was just up the road from Mill End where I teach Sing and Sign on a Tuesday so it wouldn't take that long to get there. I performed the usual day-out ritual of wasting a silly amount of the day trawling for some sort of exciting lunch/ dinner place near the museum that would offer 50% off or two-for-one on production of my special card. The wonderful thing and paradoxically, also the very, very worst thing about yielding to the magical promise of the Tastecard is that once you are sick to death of Pizza Express, one ends up trying eating places that one wouldn't otherwise try. It's like restaurant Russian roulette. Plus, one is lulled into a false sense of bargainousness – like when we used it for desert at Café Rouge, when it would have been better value to opt for the in-house offer of dessert and coffee for £3.95.

Of course, the museum was a bit further away than I thought, and because of the 4 way single alternate lane traffic light situation at the junction of the M25 it took ages to get there. But never mind, because Mini-Me amused herself by having a really good slow-mo nose at all the huge and beautiful mansions on Chorleywood Road. Which one would we buy when we'd sold as many books as Roald Dahl?

The museum comprises three galleries, a craft room, “Miss Honey's Classroom” for story telling and Café Twit, all arranged around a central courtyard. The “Boy” gallery, based on his book of the same name which Mini-Me had recently read, looked at Dahl's childhood. Mini-Me's said it was her favourite because of the chocolate entrance; details about his mischief with a dead mouse and sweetshop whilst at boarding school; reading Dahl's handwrittten childhood letters to his mother and, heartbreakingly how he used to sleep facing the direction of home in Llandaff, Wales. My favourite was the new “Solo” gallery because they have transported Dahl's actual writing hut with its tobacco stained interior; drawings on the walls; bizarre objets of inspiration and broken anglepoise lamp fixed by a towel and a suspended golf ball, all faithfully reconstructed for posterity.

We enjoyed a free storytelling of Cinderella from Revolting Rhymes with audience participation, (bumping into a Sing and Sign family I taught 7 years ago!) Lucky for Mini-Me I didn't volunteer myself as an ugly sister. The thing we didn't do, which we should have and would have, had I not been worried about getting stuck in traffic on the way back, was stop in at Café Twit for a slice of Bogtrotter cake and cup of Whizpopper hot chocolate.

We came home and Mini-Me explained how she was inspired by the advice of Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, and J. K. Rowling, that appeared around the museum; whilst I prepared end-of-the-world slopperdooperoney, with a side of whizzcracking flangdroppers... Mmm, dewishus!

For more Life on the Edge and Angelina's recipe for slopperdooperoney, visit Angelina runs award winning Sing and Sign baby signing classes. More info at

Wednesday 18 April 2012

I found another email hidden away on my facebook page under the mysterious heading of "other" from a fan of this, here, blog. Well, I say a fan. It was January when she sent the email but I don't think I've contributed much since then, so she may not be a fan any more. But anyway. It was really nice to know that someone enjoys it.

So I have joined another website called Red Room ( It is a site for writers of anything and readers of books. I found it when I was "asking the google" as my parents put it, if Amy Tan has a blog. To join Red Room as a writer, (which I was sufficiently wannabe enough to want to do, that late stormy night after I had stayed up watching Dorian Grey on the telly while the rose thorns screeched and scraped against the window) one has to upload a picture, so I uploaded the one picture I have of me looking vaguely presentable and smiling demurely, taken on a happy evening out. That was my facebook picture recently, but I couldn't stand looking at it everytime I was on fb so I doodled it with black moustache and glasses and eyebrows on top to make it more realistic. Some friends found it offensive and I didn't care because it made me happy. But after a few months I yielded to pressure. Now my facebook picture is one of "Daria" which I recently found they are re-showing on MTV. I think I might be grown-up Daria in a parallel cartooniverse...  If Daria divorced a psychopath and became a neurotic single mother. No, she's probably a neurologist. Anyway, see how I digress? I've started another blog on Red Room but they have to moderate everything; whatever dross I wrote when I was feeling the vague frisson of motivation that caused me to type my first blogpost there has not been approved yet. My guess (as I cannot actually remember what I wrote) is it's too introspective and too crap.


I am on a break at the moment in between terms of doing what I do for a living which I was adamant that I didn't want to talk about on here but I might as well bloody say because it is getting tedious dancing around it all the time. So I teach a successful (!) baby signing class to parents. Except if you are reading this, you already know it because that's probably how you ended up reading this. Well, I say on a break but it's not really a break actually because there is lots of admin to catch up on and classes to fill. Also, I am trying to do extra work with Mini-Me in the run up to the 11 plus exams this September. The school does nothing. I really must not complain about the school. Someone might read this and she still goes there. Actually she might read this and be really cross because she LOVES her school. I really must go and write some horribly rude swearwords in the intro to the blog so that her firewall or whatever it's called does a parental block on it.

I really wish I had started working with her earlier - like actually years earlier, but as my dad always says, if wishes were horses, then beggars something something. Y'know I never understood what he was talking about with that one and I don't remember how he finished the expression. I'm going to ask the google now and find out what it's meant to be....

"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

What? I have no idea. I'm sure I could eke out some sort of analysis if I could be arsed but I cannot (because it is now after 1AM and I'm typing while being asphixiated by a fog of dread wondering how I'm going to scrape myself out of bed in the morning to see Mini-Me across the road to A who takes her to school). I don't think that's what he said and if he did, I still wouldn't have understood it. My dad has his own understanding of the world and you cannot argue with him because he will obstinately refuse to budge from his obviously skewed and, some might argue, mentalist point of view. Or, he will tell you that he doesn't want to argue and that "Alright darling, don't get upset. You are right." Either way, you can NEVER win.

I know this from experience. From the time I could talk I was begging him to stop smoking because it was dangerous and carcinogenic. His carefully constructed, near-scientific ripost?

"Aah, that's all bullshit."

I tell you what is bullshit. This blog. There was a point, honestly, but it got lost along the sideroads and now I must bross les dents and go to bed to suffer more nightmares about driving uphill in a car that rolls backwards. 

Newsnight was funny tonight, with whassisname (not Paxman) interviewing EL thingumybob who has become the latest literary sensation after writing those saucy novels, 50 Shades of Grey etc. Maybe I should write a saucy novel. No, I've led a sheltered life and know nothing of these things. I can only write about how to deal with despicable narcissists. I have met a few of those along the way.

The next entry will be better. Or maybe it won't. You'll have to check in to find out.


p.s. I'm too tired to spell check. Sorry.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Happy Mothers Day. Really.

From around mid January, my inbox was invaded by a slew of Valentine's Day marketing emails that started multiplying like unwelcome fungus. Valentines restaurant deal; Valentines clothing coupon; Valentines car insurance; bla bla bla. No sooner have I dumped them like the bucket of radio-active slurry they are, I am helpfully reminded by Selfridges that Mothers Day is just around the corner. (So is a large spider.) Yippee doobie.

Why did I subscribe to the Selfridges email? I am not the target market. I visit Selfridges from time to time to purchase zit-coverage, to sniff around the foodhall and at Christmastime with Mini-Me to let her imbibe the vibe of the childrens' department ("Remember, we are NOT buying ANYTHING). But I do not need to be kept up to speed about the availability of Helmut Lang's new collection of silk pant-suits.

This latest email suggests gifts for the mother in your life to "Make her feel like one-in-a-million".
There are options for "Fashionista Mum", "Classic Mum", "Domestic Goddess Mum" and "Mum-about-town". Lucky Mini-Me is not a subscriber to this email because "Don't-give-a-shit-Mum" is notable by her absence.

Like I said, I am not the target market.

Everyone is writing.

Mummy on the Edge - March April 2012
Families Magazine

My friend in Australia sent me a few paragraphs to look at. I have a friend in the States who has written a book and is trying to get it published at the moment. I know several people who are in the process and to me, this constitutes “everyone”. Except me. Okay, that's not strictly true. I am sort of writing a novel. Mostly in my head. In the shower. As I fall asleep at night. I make notes on my blackberry while I'm watching “Pregnant in Heels” on the Bio Channel (- it's research, okay?). While cooking, I listen to podcasts of Mariella Frostrup's Radio 4 literary programmes. I even attended the London Book Fair a few years ago and gave myself the title of “Author”. But I haven't done a great deal of actual writing. This wouldn't be such a terrible thing if I hadn't been going on about this writing lark to anyone who would listen for the past two decades. I thought that by sharing this intention, I would shame myself into doing it - but I only discovered I have no shame.

Anyway, about 6 months ago, in a bid to blackmail myself into action, I confessed my plans to Mini-Me and made an actual commitment – nay a PROMISE to my impressionable 9 year old for whom I am number one role model that I would complete my opus this year. Now our conversation is peppered with related, anxiety-producing queries.

When I'm cooking: “What's your book about, Mummy?”

“It's about a woman who's trying to write a book.”

When I'm doing Sing and Sign work on the laptop: “Can I read your book, Mummy?”

“When you are 21.”

When we are putting our coats on to go out: “Will you dedicate your book to me?”


When I'm kissing her goodnight: “Have you written your book, Mummy?”

“Not yet.”

When I'm checking my email: “Is that your book?”


It's like living with a very short literary agent.

Now that Mini-Me has assumed this role, I can drag her along to inspirational literary events. It's not that torturous. For example, the Bloomsbury Festival last October featured an abundance of literary-themed activities for all. My friend and her kids came along and our favourite was the “Poet's Path” where we picked our poem's words, supplied on linkable cards, built phrases, then hung them in strips under the branches of the trees, so eventually people were walking through a tunnel of poems. Really beautiful and romantic. We fashioned charms out of various bits of old tat, like buttons, ribbons, labels and other miscellany which were then hung on a tree to twinkle in the fading, golden sunlight; messages like “You are the best mum in the world” twirling and intermingling with “She broke my heart”.

Our kids donned various props and sat in a vintage photo-booth, laughing in amazement as the black and white pictures popped through the little window. Of course there was also the not so small disappointment of the “Candle Magic” workshop at Treadwells Esoteric Bookshop which, if my friend and I had read the description properly, we would have known had nothing to do with child friendly illusions and everything to do with a white witch offering advice on incense burning, casting spells and other freaky-deakiness. Every time our children turned around and whispered, “When is the magic show going to start?” we couldn't suppress our laughter.

Mini-Me is a voracious eater of books, so this year, I really want to take her to “Hay Fever” which is the kids version of the Hay Festival and runs alongside it from 31st May to 10th June. It came as no big surprise last week when she came into the living room and announced, “I'm writing a book, Mummy! I know what the story is, and the characters. I'm so excited! Please can you tell me how to make the pages? Should it start with the title? What about the cover?”

“Darling,” I sagely advised, “if you want to write a book, all you need to do is not faff, but actually start writing anything. Just get something out and it will all flow.”

“Okay!” and she ran upstairs and that very minute, started writing.

Like I said, everyone is writing a book....

For more Life on the Edge and event links, visit Angelina runs award winning Sing and Sign baby signing classes. More info at

Hay Fever Festival link:

Bloomsbury Festival link:

Sunday 1 January 2012

Happy New Year (!/?)


I have just posted my latest Families NW Magazine Mummy on the Edge column. On the first day of the cover date. Well done me. Start as you mean to go on etc. etc. Blah blah blah.

Last year was good, in many ways. It is important to acknowlege the fruits of one's thingy. So, here goes my attempt:

I have kept my business afloat singlehandedly through economically bleak times and taught LOADS of people to do the special thing (that I'm not going to publicise in this column because this is not about that) and thus brought fun and laughter to many, who sent me lovely letters and emails and cards, keeping my heart afloat at the same time.

It was also the year that I ceased to refer to Mini-Me's father as Voldemort (-don't worry, I never did it in front of her and I never referred to his family as Deatheaters, either; they are actually very nice, sane people-) and managed to find the constitution to sustain a pseudo-friendly conversation with him over long-distance telephone from time to time. This is no mean feat considering the dramatic/ borderline cinematic nature of our separation and subsequent divorce.

In 2011, I left the country 4 times; 3 of those to places I had never previously visited. Blimey. I forgot about that. And I had a really good time, enjoying the consistent, yet sadly temporary, mutual beguilement of an intelligent adult that made me laugh and taught me lots.

In all, I have learned that my capacity for understanding, forgiveness and compassion to those what done me wrong knows no bounds. Now I am learning to extend those courtesies to myself.



In homage to Brigitte Jones (and in no way by result of petty and misplaced jealousy of Helen Fielding given that the THIRD movie is coming out this year) I'm going to review my year thus:

Millilitres of hopeless tears cried to no end:
About 537ml or enough to win a Big Brother task singlehandedly.

Number of times refrained from shouting at Mini-Me to be quiet and stop singing so loudly and cheerfully:
Actually impossible to count.

Glasses of rum and cherry coke drunk by me during last night's private New Year's Eve party in my home with Mini-Me:

Number of times Mini-Me repeated how she couldn't believe and was so excited that it would soon be TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE:

Number of times I refrained from telling her in response, "Did you know there are some cultures and belief systems that support the theory that the world is actually due to END in 2012?":

Individual peices of detritus and crap I have seen over the course of the year strewn about my gardens and their entrances that can be directly and unwrongfully (woo hoo just made up a cool word!) attributed to my neighbour:

Number of times I have deleted the word "crap" when writing my Mummy on the Edge column:
At least 24

Hours wasted googling "writing a novel" and its many tributaries and estuaries on the interweb.
Enough to have actually written AT LEAST half of it.

Number of times I have had to press the "forgotten password" button on websites (including this one) and had to make another one up only to forget it again.

Number of times I have requested a new pin to be sent to me for a credit/ debit card having forgotten it.

Number of mouldy courgettes thrown away:
Approximately 10.

Hours wasted watching The only way is Chelsea or similar:
Happily 0

Number of witty and intelligent blog posts I have written in my head in the shower but not on here:

Number of times I declined to do something by actually saying "No" last week:
3. And it felt bloody good.

Number of lovely people I personally know all over the world who are kind and good and wish the best for their friends:
Absolutely loads.

January Februay 2012 Families Mag

January February 2012

Angelina discovers that the truth is always out there – and mostly overrated.

I have just come back home from dropping Mini-Me back at school after her grade 2 Piano exam. We are feeling total relief now that it is done, after nearly a year of hearing her massacre the same pieces over and over, morning, noon and night. Actually, that's not fair at all. She's really very good and at least I don't have to nag her to practice. I'm just really grumpy after a poor night's sleep. I had a nightmare about the exam which featured my getting lost on the way and arriving late, to find that all the music exam candidates were lying in hospital gurneys, waiting to be anaesthetised. I spent most of my sleeping hours arguing with an administrator over whether it really was necessary to hook my daughter up to a drip before her Piano exam!

I don't have to search for a Freudian explanation for this bizarre scenario. One more practical one exists quite plainly in sight. I have been visiting my sick mum in hospital every day for the past 2 weeks. When I first started the routine, Mini-Me was a bit perplexed as to why I had to go every day. Cue major mistake on my part: telling Mini-Me the no-holds-barred truth while driving home from school and not being able to see her face to gauge her reaction and therefore not shutting up before realising I had gone WAY too far.

“Well, darling, Nani needs us every day because she's all alone in hospital and quite scared. Her arms are full of plum-coloured bruises because the doctors keep poking her to get blood samples which they can't manage because there's not enough blood in her. So they had to take it from her wrist! Anyway, they've given her two blood transfusions and a bag of something called platelets. Then they had to stick a camera down her mouth to see what's going on in her stomach. And then they had to drill into her hip bone to get a sample of bone marrow. And -”

“No! (SOB!) What are they doing to my Nani?!”

“No, it's not a pneumatic drill, like they use on the road,” I backtracked. “It's a teeny weeny drill. And they're doing all this to help her and make her better. ”

“But they are damaging her in the process!”

So, in light of this HUGE Mummy-on-the-Edge-shaped gaff, I am resolving this year to make an effort to re-package things positively as well as lie sometimes, to Mini-Me; and even more so, to myself. Who needs abject truth anyway? As Friday O'Leary says in Mr Gum (which you really should read to your kid because it's funny), “The truth is a lemon meringue!”

Changes are afoot. They always are, but being the beginning of a new year, it makes it more fun and a bit more justified. I'm engineering a house move, and this is the culmination of much re-packaging of the concept for the benefit of uber-sentimental little Mini-Me, for whom this is her childhood home and the only one she has known. I reckon I've done such a good job of this that she might actually think it was her idea to begin with! I've spent the best part of the last month chucking stuff and convincing Mini-Me to chuck stuff and convincing Mini-Me to convince me to chuck stuff. Because frankly, I'm terrible at it.

She helped me clear the toilet of the stack of half-empty contrasting paint cans procured 3 years ago from a blind lady on Freecycle. And I have passed on the huge, framed Richard Franklin print I bought as a wedding anniversary gift (before Mini-Me was born) featuring a Roman-type couple looking lovingly at each other. Mini-Me liked to think of this as her mum and dad, so of course it HAD to go. I've re-packaged the kitchen cupboard with the door missing as “open shelving”. And re-branded the defunct lock on the downstairs loo as “voice-activated” (“No one come in the loo-oo!!”) Together, my ever-enthusiastic sidekick and I have achieved a lot. And this is just the beginning...

I would love to know your thoughts on diminished truthfulness and re-packagement. Is it really the way forward or am I actually just totally dysfunctional? Visit and leave a comment.

For more Life on the Edge visit Angelina runs award winning Sing and Sign baby signing classes. More info at