Thursday, April 26, 2007


Spring is haunting me. You think you have it down pat. This is spring; daffodils and lambs, the pastel prettiness of an Easter card. Cliche and hold. Blackthorn blossom blizzards the hedge. Do not relax. Tulips triumph while cherry trees plant loud and lipstick kisses on the sky and spindly, yellow rape washes through fields.

Now, now. Bluebells crowd the mossed trees, gathering in shady places. I am used to city lands and tales of dark and streetsome terror when a woman walks alone. In a bluebell wood, you hear a movement in the crisp and wintered leaves and turn your head to catch nothing. You move through the narrow purple lines of nodding bells and think you catch them whispering. Whispers crowding out the truth; no one is there. I have always imagined bluebells to be the colour of a broken heart. Not that my heart is broken. Not now. My heart has been broken in its day like all good hearts. I think it mended. At least, its odd and purple pieces have been pushed back together, the torn seams sewn with clumsy stitches and it ticks on yet.

The country is full of seas. The prairie crops, grasses, bluebells on a wooded hillside move as the sea moves. This suits me. The feeling I have had most often since I moved here, is much as I imagine drowning to feel; the struggle and the fear. Driving today, I gripped the wheel as you would if you were in an ocean and held on to a floating, wooden spar. Some doubtless well-intentioned, busy, little body took it upon herself to tell me I am Not the Most Popular Girl in School. I am "the Mother who Blogged". This is not a good thing. I should know. The bluebells know it. As I trod water in my ocean, she reached out a kindly hand, laid it on my head as if in blessing and held me under.


Kim said...

I know that feeling oh so well. And doesn't it hit you at the oddest times; usually it happens to me when I am alone and it is quiet. I manage things, take care of the children, cook, do the cleaning, and keep your household running. As long as I am busy, moving and thinking, all seems reasonably well. But let me sit down somewhere quiet, think at all, and I feel myself being sucked into that murky place just below the surface.

But as you told me, it's a slow process and time keeps marching on. It's nice to be able to read your posts and remember I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

I am - almost - speechless...

In fact - the only words that came to my mind when I read this were..
'Holy crap!'

Drunk Mummy said...

Beware the 'well-intentioned' mother at the school gates. It invariably means that she can no longer contain her spitefulness.

Swearing Mother said...

Just what is it with your local anti-blogging campaigners? Around here you could blog away to your heart's content and no one would either a) know, or b) care. And (yes, yes, yes I know one shouldn't start a sentence with And, but frankly my dears I don't give a damn) if a mother of three kids living in a building site with an often absentee husband doesn't have the perfect need to blog, then who does?

For whatever reason you started writing, whether it was for something to do, or an effort to retain your sanity or even land yourself a book deal, good luck to you - I just wish I'd thought of it first. The people who are criticising you probably wish they had too.

Anyway, rant over, yoga breathing kicking in...... nice piece about the bluebells, and thankyou.


Anonymous said...

You get that from people who can't write. For some it is a challenge to read without moving their lips.

Anonymous said...

Please always remember -- no one can "hold you under" unless you let them! You want to blog? Then blog! Just blog wisely so you don't unleash the uglies on yourself. As much as we can, we will hold them at bay for you-----

Anonymous said...

"Well intentioned mother...., I don't think so".
Buebells here are just fantastic, we have several local woods, and bluebells are shy retiring types that want to keep out of the limelight and in the shade. Three weeks or thereabouts of visual magnificence.

I Beatrice said...

But does anyone know where all the English bluebells have gone? Mine are very blue, but of the larger Spanish-invader variety. Is there anywhere one can get hold of a clump or two of the sweet old-English ones? Without committing vandalism in the woods, that is.

Ignore well-meaning Mummies if you can, by the way. It's a lethal breed!

Anonymous said...

Here's how I learned that mothers at school gates are dangerous.

I was always a little bit suspicious of the mothers at my infants' school gates. They always hung around the gates nattering in manner of ladies with not a lot to do between schooltime and lunch. Myself I am a lady with far too much to do. Perhaps I was being a bit churlish. Or jealous, quite frankly.

Anyhow these ladies mostly arrive in tanks. Huge great big 4x4 monstrosities are always being seen doing 28-point turns at the school gates. One of the mothers couldn't see my small (brand new) lexus and carelessly crushed it. She sat there with her head in her hands and said "the parking sensor didn't go off". I resisted the temptation to ask her about the eyes in her head. Presumably they had atrophied through disuse. But what if instead of a small car, it had been a small child?

Only my car got hurt. There's the blessing. Ignore the unbusy little bodies. Swim away from them and enjoy the sun.

Anonymous said...

What are you trying to say here Wifey ? You have lost me. Is someone trying to kill you ? Have they tampered with your steering wheel ? Have your brakes been cut ? Is it really you holding your head, or had someone hidden in the back of the car while you were at the school gates..

I'm very worried now - I've seen these films before, and they never end well...

Anonymous said...

drunk mummy - you are so right - I went to see 'Notes On A Scandal' last night. Very good film. Cate Blanchett was fabulous, and should be considered for the part of Wifey in the film version of 'Wife in the North'. But Judi Dench was fanfuckintastic, an amazing portrayal of how solitude can eat into one's soul and give a taste for bitterness and revenge which can only be quenched by totally destroying another person's life.

rilly super said...

wifey, dear, you musn't be so concerned. Just remember that you don't depend on the people in the village where you live for either your income or your friends so who cares what they think? We out here in blogland are your local community, not your neighbours there in Northumberland and we're behind you all the way!

Anonymous said...

jane - I think you are being too hard on yourself, honey. I am a bit of a grammar nazi [don't want to let the genie out of the bottle and all that]. But one can start a sentence in this way. Because these rules are there as a structure and a guideline and can sometimes be broken. However, one shouldn't do it all the time. And that is all I have to say on this matter !

Anonymous said...

Are you having heart surgery? I do hope its not that. Try being a bloke if you are a regular school runner - those same women glare suspiciously as though you are about to snatch their nit-infested precious kiddie from under their very noses.
Try posting some photos of the offending nasties on yer blog. That should do em!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of these distressing encounters. One longs to be able to protect one's children from any unhappiness, however small. My heart turned over when I read this entry. Your postings affect me deeply, some of them staying with me for weeks afterwards, and I felt dreadful for you, remembering how much school bullying can hurt.

However much it's possible to rationalise such behaviour as jealous spite directed at the more talented or successful, somehow it still hurts. Speaking of the "jellyfish" attack with another parent, it sounds as if one of the worst parts was feeling your trust betrayed. I always feel such a fool at such junctures, and spend ages rallying mayself, trying to retain a trusting and positive attitude to people. My old therapist said to me of such encounters: "You must always be prepared for unpleasantness." But it's hard to have defences up all the time.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that it's only fitting that the Mother who Blogged should be responsible for the Mother of all Blogs :-)

It's good that you said what was happening. It's the truth in your blog, as well as the quality of the writing that makes it memorable.

Bullying is a fact of most school lives and can cause misery and heartache. The school has done something about it - albeit belatedly. You have not said (and I hope it's not because your bullies are silencing you) whether or not your little ones are okay now. I hope so.

Here's to bravery in all it's forms.

Stay at home dad said...

Like mutley I am a bit of an expert in mums at the school gate. Any queries answered promptly; call-outs entail a reasonable charge, plus plenty of travel costs in your case I'm afraid.


Anonymous said...

Are parents allowed to sit on the school's new friendship bench?

Anonymous said...

mutley - are you sure those 'glares' aren't women giving you a bit of saucy 'hard-to-gettery' ? What is the word I am looking for here ? Alluring aloofness ? Naughty haughty at forty?

You know what women say 'Treat 'em mean, and you'll keep 'em keen'..

I should explore further if I were you - remember some of these mums have nothing to occupy their time between meal-times and school runs.

Anonymous said...

I am petrified. I started going rigid with fear when I was 39, and made a relatively minor lifestyle change.

Two years on, most of the time I am rigid with fear. I attribute this to middle age. It's strange but it'll pass eventually. I hope.

London Refugee said...

Dear WITN,

Mrs R and I empathise with you. We are into our 7th year in backwoods, redneck Yorkshire and we have had a very difficult 6 years and 4 schools.

As many have already commented, and notwithstanding many generous local folk, WE are the incomers and we may or may not be allowed to play under THEIR rules. Apart from Mrs Refugee having MANY tearful and regretful days it has been our girls' education that has suffered.

We can’t do anything about some of the unenlightened people we’ve crossed but we do have good friends – mainly incomers like us – and what is paramount is that our 3 girls have been bolstered with regard to their self-esteem, confidence and education – whatever that takes: their happiness is paramount. Take care of yourself and your kids.

In the meantime, I commune with our swallows – they are heroic creatures around Refugee Twoers.

And FULL details of our 6 year scholastic turmoil at 4 different schools from next week on my blurg.
Best wishes,
The Refugee

Anonymous said...

Well I live in Yorkshire. Married a Yorkshireman. Had two little Yorkshire children. All my Yorkshire friends are pretty civilised. They're all graduates, know their skinny lattes from their frappacinos, could tell you what'd been shortlisted for the Booker, travelled the world several times over blah blah. So I don't recognise the county described by the Refugee.

I have to say there are some first class schools in Yorkshire. Admittedly you have to pay for quite a lot of them, but there are some good free schools too. There are still some grammar schools in the choicer areas.

I don't really know who is being insular here. The Refugee who won't assimilate, or the "rednecks" who ignore her?

Cathy said...

I wrote a lovely long reply this morning and lost it before I could post it. Oh well.

Of course you have every right to blog. But in a small community you won't have the semi-anonymity of the city, because everyone knows everyone else's business. Thats what I hated about growing up in the country. Putting your thoughts on the internet just speeds up the process.

For the benefit of London Refugee can I just say that lOndon schools are possibly fine if you can afford private education, but a lottery and a jungle if you can't, rife with bullying and poor teaching. We have current personal experience and a child who was close to killing himself as a result. I know a family who moved to the north east just to get their kids out of the education system here before it was too late.

London Refugee said...

Doncha just love some of these anonymous posts!?

I’m talking about a town/area where….
Some folk haven’t travelled outside of the county let alone England,
(State) Schools that allow bullying…again…and again…and again AND then stigmatise the victim,
Where black people have been referred to as ‘sambo’ or ‘darkie’,
Where the parents of the council estate children still doff their metaphorical caps to the doctor,
Teachers tell children that Muslims are stupid as they don’t believe in the true (Christian) God,
Some people don’t know Tony Blair from Isla Blair.

Now this isn’t EVERY Yorkshire person but as a hard-bitten Londoner, who is happily referred to by Mrs R as being non-judgmental, I have been amazed at some of the things that I’ve seen and heard.

In fact, we have integrated pretty well under the circumstances. We teach our girls kindness and respect to everyone they deal with and compassion and generosity to those with less than us.

Mind you, can we get an invite to your wonderful oasis there because we know bugger all about lattes, private schools, Bookers, graduation or world-travelling?

Apologies to WITN for my chippy intrusion.

Anonymous said...

Dear Refugee

You are very welcome to the oasis. It is not very far away from you. All you have to do is open your eyes in "backwoods redneck Yorkshire" to see the good. It is there.

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

Refugee, your remarks beg the question - why don't you go back to London if it's so bloody awful?

London Refugee said...

Dear M&M,

Good question to which there is no simple answer.
Essentially, all Mrs R's family are local Yorkshirefolk so we have feet in both camps.
I'm NOT writing that it's "so awful" up north (quite the reverse which is the part of the intent of my blurg) BUT that there are aspects that have been and are bloody difficult (and that should be better) AS WELL AS aspects that have been and are terrific.

As a writer, I relish it all - as a husband/father it's been a rollercoaster. And I empathise with WITN - it's wretched trying to be settled when your children are suffering.


debio said...

One of the very best aspects of life in the sweltering heat of Dubai is that the daily 'school gate experience' doesn't exist. We all sit in our cars - engines running to keep the air-con blowing - never having to step outside.
From the UK, I remember that the mothers' smiles which did not reach the eyes, the calm appraisal of my appearance and the open judgement of my lifestyle.
The bullying which my daughter reported to me reflected some very adult criticisms which the children could only have heard at home.
I quickly learned not to make the school my life. Very few of us are on the same side.

Anonymous said...

Cathy said...


Of course you have every right to blog. But in a small community you won't have the semi-anonymity of the city, because everyone knows everyone else's business

Thankfully no one has a computer that works for the internet where I live - the last computers which reached were those washed up from the great flood of Lyme Regis in 1983 - we did hope the Napoli might have some computers to salvage after we lamped it onto the rovks, but alas only BMW ashtrays...

Tom Morton said...

Congratulation on your lovely indepth look at life writing skill.
I write psychology but yours is psychology itslef.

Tom Morton said...

a lovely inate writing style