If Fairy God Parents Were Real.

Dear Blog,

Do you remember the children’s television show “fairly odd parents?” It was a show I watched far too often back in my pre-teen days. Fresh out of school, I’d jump into the sofa, still in my uniform and flick through the channels until I found the one playing my favourite show. I then proceeded to waste hour after hour of my youth, watching Timmy and his two fairy god parents and their crazy adventures. It was a great time to be alive.

Now, the older I get, the more I think back to that show and how absolutely amazing it would be if fairy god parents actually existed. Or any form of spritual guardian for that matter. I’m not include Shinigami’s into that, despite how cool a character Ryuk is, he is also absolutely terrifying and does more damage than good.

If guardian angels existed, there would be no issues in our lives. We could simply wish for a solution to any of our problems. No more milk in the fridge? No problem, I’ll just wish for more milk. And It wouldn’t cost me a penny! Ok, so perhaps there should be rules. If we could just wish for anything we wanted, we’d destroy the planet in less than 2 days.
What if instead of being magical guardians, they were there to help you out, literally providing you with guidance. So this is how I want my guardian angel to be, to pop up out of nowhere and provide an answer to my question:

“Guardian Angel, what is a female lumberjack called?”
*pop*
“Well Dannie, I’m glad you asked. A female lumberjack is called a lumberjill.”
“Wow. Thanks so much guardian angel”
*pop*

(Then I would just freeze and let the invisible credits roll past my face)

 

That idea is very similar to Janice from ‘The Good Place’. Almost like a physical google!
But… What if they could do more? What if they could tell you where you left your car keys, preventing you from frantically searched your house, upending every piece of furniture? What if they could remind you what you actually went to the shop for before you buy everything else besides the toilet roll you’ve run out of?
Or… What if they could tell you who you were going to marry? Whether that person was going to be with you until the day you died. If we had something like that then we wouldn’t need to waste years on pointless people just to end up broken-hearted because we knew they were never going to be that person.
That would be a life changer. Though a lot of divorce lawyers would lose their jobs…

This is the kind of random crap I think about at half past 2 in the morning, half way though my 12 hour night shift. I need to go refill my cup of tea.

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My First Panic Attack.

Dear Blog,

For most of my teenage life, I suffered from panic attacks. One was so bad that I ended up in A&E. While over the years, I have learnt how to manage and hide them, I always remember my very first, full-blown anxiety attack.

I was eleven, in my first year of high school and was overall in an OK place in my young life. While I had experience extreme moments of hysteria in the past, as my Emetophobia had been triggered the year before, they were nothing compared to what I was about to experience.

I was sat in my French class, the first class after lunch and my seat was towards the back of the room, next to my best friend. I remember it so clearly. Randomly, my best friend had a stick of string cheese in her blazer pocket and despite it being out of its packet and dry around the edges, we shared it. I don’t know why this sticks at such a prominent part of the story, perhaps I blamed the cheese when I was younger,
The class began and about 20 minutes in, I wasn’t feeling so well. I couldn’t explain it. My heart was racing and I getting increasingly anxious and fidgety, I could hear every tick of the second hand on our room clock.

As time went on, I tried to concentrate on the lesson but with little luck. The anxiety kept building and the walls felt like they were closing in. I was hot, sweaty and scared. I couldn’t take it no more. Not knowing what was happening, I got up out of my chair, walked to the front of the class to approach the teacher but before I could say anything, I burst into tears and became hyperventilating. In the confusion, several of my friends had gathered around me just as the school bell rang. Caught in the crowd of pupils heading to their next class, I ended up in the corridor, surrounded by people. I couldn’t breath and the more people who gathered around, the more overwhelmed I became. The corridor got more and more crowded and my outburst had drawn the attention of strangers I’d never met, wondering what had happened to create such a chaotic scene. My teacher was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t hear what she was saying, I was just so frightened.
I had alarmed my fellow students so much that I distinctly remember one of the girls who bullied me, trying to pull me into a hug to calm me down.

The next few moments are really blurry but amongst the confusion, I ended up in the school nurses office with the class teaching assistant. I had calmed down by this point though shock and shaking had taken over my body. I had no idea what had just happened. I’d never experienced anything like that without bring triggered by an event of some kind. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be my last panic attack and they plagued most of my teenage years and early 20’s. Particularly when I was ill.
Nowadays I am much better at controlling and hiding them. When I get particularly stressed, I can feel my body getting into the same state it had when I was in that french class. There have been times in the middle of this year where life seemed to overwhelm me but I had to be brave and breath in order to help those around me.

Panic attacks are scary. The whole sense of losing control, sometimes for no reason at all. They can take over your life, prevent you from going into certain situations, make you avoid any potential triggers. But you need to show them you are the boss. This is your body. You are in control.

Match Day Memories

It’s Saturday.
It’s a family event, a routine, a ritual.
Scarves of support wrapped around our necks,
Scores of fans march down the street
Filling the air with harmonious chants.
We are going to a football match.

Street venders sell programs as we filter though the gates.
Tickets, Turnstiles, Mascots, Merchandise.
Mushy peas and Steak and Kidney Pie,
Scents that fill the air.
My hand runs along the concrete walls,
as we emerge into the stand.
We are at a football match.

Cold plastic seats fold down,
The fog lights come on
and it begins.
People cheer, the chants get louder.
I don’t know the rules,
I don’t know whats happening,
But I’m happy.
I’m at a football match.

The atmosphere is tense yet fun.
GOAL!
Everyone jumps up,
I follow suit, Cheering, Clapping.
I think we are winning?
It’s an improvised performance,
To bond with the man I should call, Dad.
I used to go to football matches.


I have blocked out a lot of my childhood. It was a different life but although I hate football, these weekly fortnightly trips will always hold a place in my heart. They were a rare time that my family was a normal family. 

Life in a Caravan Park.

Dear Blog,

When I was 10, my parents decided it was time for us to move and see what the rest of the UK had to offer. Their destination of choice? Skegness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the east cost of England, Skegness is your typical seaside town, one of the biggest in its region and a popular holiday destination. As a child, we had ventured to Skeg a few times as day trips but never spent more than a night there.

This was the first time my sister and I had ever moved (in living memory) and as we were currently living in a nice 3 bedroom house, the prospects of moving was pretty daunting. This was all we had ever known. We soon learnt we wouldn’t be living in a place as big as our house, we weren’t even going to be living in a house at all. Not even a flat… We were moving into a caravan.

So 10-year-old me was thinking the exact same thing that you guys are probably thinking: “A caravan? Like one that gets attached to the back of a car? Are we going to become travelers? Gypsies?” .  It’s an understandable thought. We only really knew about tow-caravans, the ones people tend to use for weekends away and have a mind of their own when going around roundabouts. And I knew the four of us would struggle in a caravan that small. Luckily we were going for a more ‘family friendly’ type of caravan; A static caravan (one permanently rooted to the floor, located on a caravan park. Usually used for holiday makers or retirees).

So we moved in November 2003, with little to go on besides a few pictures. I was both excited and nervous, unaware of what would great us. Much to my supersize the caravan was pretty decent. The size of a small bungalow with 3 bedrooms, 2 toilets and a good-sized living room. The caravan park was awesome too. A fully build little town with different villages of caravans, our own shop, pub, swimming pool, arcade… One big playground. Some of my most treasured memories are from this chapter in my life.  My dad used to work night shifts and would sleep during the day and  as my sister and I were only 10 and 7, and made a fair amount of noise, we were given permission to take our bikes and roam the site, provided we didn’t leave the park. Today it sounds utterly insane to trust two kids so young to roam around freely without supervision but it was freedom we adored and no doubt added to our characters today.

We would fill our entire days doing different things. The site had several large ponds populated with huge Carp. We would sneak bread to feed them or hang around the arcade, looking for stray 2p coins then putting them into the machine with the best looking sweets but our favourite spot was just outside the golf course. A small water fall sheltered by a weeping willow that ran into a very peaceful pond. Ducks would often patrol this area, especially the waterfall as there was plenty of yummy moss for them to tuck into. Over the course of the year, we’d watch the ducks and their ducklings try to conquer this waterfall. It was so entertaining to see the little ones get so close before the current would sweep them down into the pond and they would have to do the waddle of shame back to the top.

Another area of the golf course had an unused, wooden gazebo, used to store the restaurants outdoor furniture during the winter. As typical children, we obviously messed with these chairs, making our own restaurants for our invisible friends. We did get caught a few times but that never stopped us.

I look back on these memories and it amazes me how happy I was. We moved to Scotland in 2005 and from there on, life took a very steep plunge into the darkest of times. To be able to look back on life before that, is not only very important to me but reminds me of a time I could just be a child, spending all my time outside, spending my pocket-money on penny sweets and buying ‘The Simpsons Comic’ every month. From my point of view, moving to Skegness was one of my parents smartest decisions.

You Taught Me.

Dear Mum,

25 years ago I was just a helpless bundle of pudgy skin, unable to do anything other than cry, eat and poop. You cared for me, fed me, taught me to speak, to run, to explore. I remember holding on to the pushchair containing the next mini you, walking around supermarkets that no longer exist, to be treated to one of those 200ml cans of lemonade. I remember baking cupcakes during the school holidays and begging to lick the bowl or getting apple turnovers from the corner shop. I remember the Polo game at the bus stop, you always won. I remember going to book week at school and you buying me a book from those huge, black cases when we couldn’t really afford it.

You taught me to be independent and responsible by trusting me to look after my sister as we ventured around the caravan site. I remember coming to visit you while you were at work just before we would cycle down to the golf course to watch the ducklings. You taught me the best way to win at the 2p machines in the arcade (it’s all about timing!). I remember you told my new teacher that I could sing (you liar!) and so I entered the school talent show and sang a made up song about a Chinese dragon. I was terrified but I did it because you believed in me. I remember all the little day trips you took us on. Days at the beach, into the city, cinema trips, your first drive to Boston.

You taught me to be brave, self-worth. We’ve faced so many challenges, more than anyone should face in a single life time but we adapted and grew, to become who we are today. You taught me to never give up, no matter how easy it would have been. You taught me that its OK to cry, to let the wall come down sometimes. I remember getting Louie the hamster, when Sophie appeared and when I set the burgers on fire. You taught me the importance of family and though the timelines have been fractured, we now have everyone we need in one place.

You taught me to be confident. I have grown up watching you interact with people and I find myself using so many of your mannerisms. Now 25 and I am turning into my own version of you but I wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for everything you taught me.

I love you. xxx

Mr Valentine.

Dear Blog,

Everyone knows about Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and maybe even the Easter Bunny but who here has heard of Mr Valentine? No one, right? Well, when I was a child, Mr Valentine would visit every 14th February and leave my sister and I, a card, some chocolates and one of those £1 goody bags you get from the supermarket, on our door step. It used to be rather exciting as unlike Christmas where Santa delivers presents during the night, we had no clue when Mr Valentine would arrive, only that it was after school and usually just as Dad got home from work (how convenient). We would spend hours after school, monitoring the windows and guarding the door until Mum would tell us to ‘give it a rest’.

This tradition only stopped when my family split during Mum and Dad’s divorce when I was 15. By this age, I knew it was a parent behind the Mr Valentine mask but I still enjoyed the surprize knock on the door. It was around this age that I mentioned it to a friend as a passing comment. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a nation wide thing and I suppose because a goody bag wasn’t a huge deal in comparison to Christmas, I’d never mentioned it before. My Mr Valentine because a running joke for a little while after. Not hard to see why, it sounds ridiculous now but it mean a lot when we were small.

I have asked Mum for a Mr Valentine origin story but apparently it was my Dad’s thing and he isn’t around for me to ask. I have to admit, I hate that man but I can’t deny that sending your daughters a valentines card every year to tell them they are love is a pretty decent thing to do.

I guess I’ll never know the reason’s Mr Valentine existed but I can say it will be a tradition I pass down to my own children and grandchildren.

 

My Time in Scotland

Dear Blog,

When I was a child, my family moved around a lot. By the time I was 16, I had lived in seven different houses and was enrolled in my 5th school. There was no real reason for us moving, my parents just got bored of where they lived.

Between the ages of 12-15, I lived in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. A pretty little town across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh. Overall, I was excited about the move. The town we were currently living in was rough and I was being bullied really badly so a change of scene seems like a brilliant idea. I had these visions of bright green mountain sides, nature on your doorstep and kilts. Kilts, everywhere.

Well that wasn’t exactly what I got. Surprisingly enough, Scotland is very much like England just with Scottish people and bagpipe buskers. That being said, our flat couldn’t have been in a better location. Planted in the middle of a hill, there was a huge park at the top of our road and if you stood just outside our home, you could look down the street and see the ocean all the way out to the horizon. The location of Kirkcaldy was even better during New Years where people would gather on the promenade, over looking the sea and watched the sky light up with fireworks from all across Edinburgh.

Up until this age, school hadn’t been my favourite place. Glasses, bucked front teeth and now a different nationality, I worried about how I’d fit into another school in a different country. Well, the bullying continued, though not as aggressively as before (There was a lot less hair pulling and thorny bushes). Mainly name calling. Turns out the English aren’t too popular in Scotland. But something different happened when I joined Balwearie High School… I made friends, good friends. I was part of a small group where I felt valued and not like that annoying tag-along friend. Every break time we would congregate to the hill next to the science block and just catch up.

One of my favourite memories was climbing trees in the forbidden forest during our lunch breaks. The forest merged into our hill at the far end of our playground and it was strictly forbidden that any pupil entered with out supervision. You were only given supervision during science class when you were learning outside (which was rare). These woods were huge. As we did this every day, we’d managed to map out the safest routes to descend to the bottom of the hill and would use to trees to help climb back up. It was a great workout! The embankments were particularly steep and it wasn’t uncommon for us to attend our afternoon lessons with mud caked down our legs and shoes. We did this for about a year before a particularly bad day put an end to our escapades.

Lunch time started, same as any other. Four of us went into the woods (we usually left 2 or 3 people to bag watch while we were gone) and took our normal path. Recently a wasps nest had been forming along a popular path of ours and on this day, it was fully active. No one likes wasps, they are natures jackasses, so we made the decision to bypass the nest and descending down the closest embankment, a steeper one. Usually going down one at a time, Zoe lead the group. I was second, Steph 3rd and Claire 4th. At this stage, I should point out that Claire was the baby of the group and the least experienced out of our climbing brigade. As we were still close to the wasps nest, we decided to decent as soon as possible. Once Zoe reached the halfway point, I began to climb down. I got only a free trees down before all of a sudden I heard a scream and Steph whizzed past me.  She had slipped and was effectively skiing down the embankment. We watched horror as she collided with an old tree stump and hit her head. She settled, lifeless. Zoe and I raced to her while Claire, sobbing, stood at the starting position. Steph had started to move by the time we reached her. Besides a few cuts and scrapes, she seemed OK.

So now three of us are at the bottom of a rather steep, unfamiliar embankment, one of whom may or may not need medical attention, we don’t know. One thing for certain, we weren’t going to re-climb this hill. The problem with forests is that they are complex mazes of trees and bushes and all though in reality we were probably only three minutes from our normal climbing spot, we were completely lost. We knew that if we could find the viaduct, we’d find our way back to school, so signalling to Claire to guild us, we tried to navigate though the undergrowth. We were like explorers in an Indiana Jones movie.  I remember cutting my leg on a stray bit of bramble, nothing more than a graze really but at the time it felt like a war wound.

After trekking for what felt like ages, we came to a path but to follow it would mean we’d lose sight of Claire as her path led a different way.  There wasn’t much of a choice for either of us.  The closer to the viaduct we got, the more civilization we could hear.  The end was in sight! Or so we thought…

So…. So. The path lead us to the viaduct, except it has somehow lead us away from school and behind a mesh fence. We were no longer on school property and period 5 was about to start. I probably began to freak out here.  Luckily Zoe knew whereabouts we’d ended up and it wasn’t too far from Balwearie but to get back into the school grounds, we’d have to go through reception and explain ourselves. WORST. WALK. OF. SHAME. EVER.

We did make it back, obviously. Heads hung in shame. Misses all of 5th period and were put into isolation for the rest of the week. Oh, and our actions resulted in the forest entrance to be monitored every break time so we had to find a new spot to hang out on. But even though that was our last memory of our climbing adventures, I don’t regret a single thing. I had the best time at this school and I so wish I could go back, just for one day and be a teenager again.

Age Panic

Dear Blog,

Oh God, I turned 25. 25! I am a quarter of a century old. I have existed for a quarter of a century. I am older than the first Jurassic Park movie (granted only by 6 months but still!).

25 is an odd age. In five years I will be 30 and that really isn’t an age I want to be. 30 has a certain level of maturity. By 30 you have had 12 years to develop into an adult. You’ve had the opportunity to live wild and free, move out of your parents house and become independent, build a career and progress from living off beans on toast to making a basic roast dinner. By the time you reach 30, it feels like you should have your life sorted. The railway tracks have been laid and your little train is now ready to chug along the tack of expectation, stopping at marriage-ville, Babytown and Mortgage Land.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do want to go on this adventure and odds are, by the time I am 30, I’ll be eagerly sat there in my dungarees with coal on my face but the fact that I only have five years to get my life in order for that to even be a possibility is terrifying.

This most likely boils down to my first five years in my 20’s being dedicated to university of some sorts. From 19-23 my life was purely education based, with the odd fun time added in for good measure. Now Uni was a great time and experience and it was just what i needed to discover myself and what was really important to me. I left Uni with this naive little idea of how my life would go…

Yeah…

…That didn’t happen. One thing I did learn: Life is full of chapters. When my university chapter ended, the friends and dreams where left behind too.  I moved away, fell in love and my idea of the future got all jumbled up like a jigsaw until the pieces fell into a different alignment. All these new ideas but not so much time. What if I want to travel on my own or work aboard for a year? Study my masters or explore whole new career path? Start a Youtube channel and be comfortably rich by doing stupid prank videos?…

So here I am. 25 with no real plans, just cruising along.  I guess I’m going to have to see how much I can really cram into five years all while working full time and maintaining my relationship. I’ll start tomorrow… or Monday…

Such a first world problem…