Monthly Archives: March 2012

‘I’m so vain…I always think this song is about me…’

I should really write this blog on my actual birthday but I’ll be in London being far too busy, so, in my usual tradition, I’m writing it in bed, after wine, and while my brain ticks over. 

Vanity is a funny thing.

I’m pretty vain, all things considered. If I’m passing a reflective surface, I’ll always peer in. Always have done. Check the size, shape, general appearance. Give myself the nod. Looks are important to a girl. Any girl who says otherwise is a liar. Like it or not, we know it counts. We know its usefulness. Trust me.

And yet here I am – 40 on Wednesday, and not feeling a moment’s misery over it. Comes as quite a surprise to the 21 year old I once was, if I’m honest. I thought 40 would reduce me to tears –  if not Botox. But no. As it turns out, I quite like the wrinkles I have. I feel I’ve earned them and most of them come from laughing so what’s not to like? If this is the half way mark then the second half has some keeping up to do. I quite like the idea of being 40. There’s a don’t-mess-with-me ness about it. I know who I am, what I want, and still feel like the world is my oyster.

I’m tipping the universe the wink and expecting it to deliver.

The thing is this – when I look at the life behind me I see adventures and happiness and heartache and insecurity, and when I look ahead, I see the same things. And that’s exactly how it should be. That’s what life – the future – is, after all. I hope I’ve learned from the past adventures. I hope I’m smarter than I was at 18. But in essence the future is as much a blank page as it ever was.  Time in itself is immaterial. My best friend died at 24. You can’t trust time. You just have to make sure you live in it.

Right now, I feel more alive than I have in ages. I’m moving to London. A new decade and new beginnings. I have my family and great, great friends; my writery friends, my ‘The Keynes’ friends, my actory friends and all the ones in between. They’re probably far better friends to me than I deserve.

My career? Well, that, as with all things creative will always bring ‘the Fear’ with it. But ‘the Fear’ makes us feel alive, and it just takes one good deal or one promise of a ‘maybe’ to make you buzz for days, and if that isn’t being alive then what is?

I might not have a lover, but I feel well-loved, and you can’t beat that, can you? Lovers come and go – there are always men – but people who really love you are rare. And I’m lucky to have a few. They see through the arrogance and the pride and the toughness. They help me when I’m down.  They know that I’m always full of self-doubt, and afraid and just want to hide from the world. And they tell me to buck the fuck up and get out there and show the world what I can do. I love them right back for that.

That’s the kind of shit that comes with age. People get to know you. Really know you. They can separate the wheat from the chaff. Sitting here on the cusp of 40, I realise that I love a lot of people. Properly love them. And that’s a great feeling. When you’re young, you take your friends for granted. As you get older, you choose them more wisely, but you hold them close. I intend to keep mine. They make me feel alive. 

I’m not going to tell you anything special about 40. There isn’t anything special about it. It’s just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 25 and maybe that’s the only secret. There are no answers in growing up. There are only more adventures. More adventures that YOU choose, because you know yourself better.

I’m a little sad that maybe there won’t be any babies, but at the same time, I know that when one door closes another opens, and there will be other doors open for me and who knows what adventures will be behind them?

On reflection, I was never that conventional anyway. I think life always wanted different things for me.

So come on forty, you look foxy enough for me. Let’s crack on, shall we?

SP x

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Say no more…one from the archives…

I winked at a kid in Tesco Ghetto today.

His mum and dad were arguing in the biscuits aisle. Nothing major, just one of those day to day snipes the marrieds that shop together seem to have, but it was enough to distract their attention from little Wayne or Dwayne who trailed behind.  He took advantage of that. I think D/Wayne was that kind of kid. He ambled sneakily to his left, grabbed a couple of small bags of Haribo and then slid them under the huge cereal box in the trolley. He looked up like butter wouldn’t melt. He caught my eye. For a moment his expression darkened.

Rumbled. Caught. Shit.

And then I winked. And smiled. He smiled back. We didn’t need to say anything. We had a moment that was entirely our own. We both wanted to giggle. We understood entirely without words. There was just me and him and the rest of the world could go to hell in a handcart. I wheeled my own handcart away and left them to it. It made me think though. That wink.

The world is too loud, don’t you think? Or maybe it’s just me. It seems to be getting louder from where I’m sitting. Email, text, phone, facebook, Twitter, blogs– everyone filling every space with words. Needing to communicate. To get their point across. To be liked. To be loved. To make themselves heard.  And yes, I get the irony of me making a statement like that. I do all of the above and then some. But recently all these words have started to wear me down. They’re like a tidal wave and what does it all mean anyway? It’s just words. Endless amount of words. Mine, yours, theirs. It’s white noise.

A couple of years ago I was in a room with a man. We weren’t standing near each other. Too many others stood between us, cluttered gatherings of conversations. I barely even knew this man beyond the occasional muttered hello. But I knew him enough to know he made my stomach go funny and my heart race a little faster every time I saw him. I stumbled through words near him. I made no sense. On this occasion, back in the days of stranger, I looked up from my own polite conversation to catch him looking at me. Watching me. I winked. His face cracked into a smile. Mine cracked back. The man beside me kept talking and I didn’t hear a word. I was too busy smiling across the room. That wink had created a moment. The ones that come so rarely in life. A silent, private moment where two people look at each other and an infinite number of impossible possibilities open up. All the potential of what could be. All the things that you could never put into words. The whys and wherefores of what happened after that wink are neither here nor there. That moment I’ll remember forever. I’ll savour it, and sometimes take it out of the memory box and make myself smile all over again. There are men I’ve slept with that I’ll forget before I forget that moment. And not a single word was spoken. There weren’t words that could cover it. I wouldn’t want to even try to explain all that went through me/us in words. Words could break it.

Words are clever. We can twist them. Bend them into new shapes of meaning. Words make liars of us all by their very nature. We tell people what they want to hear. I would die for you. I love your new haircut. No, your arse doesn’t look big in that. Great Christmas jumper, grandma – I’ll wear it all the time.Words, words, words. Fiction and fact. Cruel and kind. Always there. But we feel long before we have language. And it’s the insides that are honest.

My dad used to wink at me. Normally when my mum was angry. You all know the wink. The kind that lets you know things aren’t as bad as they seem. It’ll be all right. I loved my dad’s winks. The ones that were just for me. He still does it from time to time, often when we’re standing in a bar, and I’m laughing along to one of his friends’ jokes, and he’s just feeling proud or fond of me. They make me feel six years old again. My dad doesn’t do words. He never says ‘I love you.’ I don’t think he’s ever said it. Over the years and the many, many failed relationships, my dad’s answer to all my problems is just ‘Shall we go to the pub?’ and then we get there we don’t talk about anything much at all. But those winks – they say everything that’s needed and so much more. They’re me and my dad summed up those winks. We get it. Without words. We don’t need words.

I’m trying not to make this an essay – keep it short and sweet – keep the words down.  I could talk about other winks. One in a pub after a week of unsure flirting, a wink that led to kissing in a car park ten minutes later and an affair that would kick the crap out of my heart a year later but c’est la vie. The less pleasant winks that promise so much other and create moments that send a chill across the pit of your stomach. Those moments can’t be put into words either, but they’re just the small dark clouds that pass across a sunny day.

One wink delivered while I was prison visiting in Woodhill. I was maybe 22 or 23 and just realising that these games I played were dangerous. I’d gone with my then boyfriend (he was on day release from Open prison himself), and his friend to see said friend’s father – probably the biggest ‘gangster’ in Milton Keynes at the time. As we sat there sipping tea and eating our Twix I watched the other inmates and their visitors watching us. There were some frightening people there and I had a moment of dawning realisation that the most frightening was probably sitting on the other side of the table from me. I remember thinking that this would be a really really good time to keep my big mouth shut and just be quietly blonde for the hour. I remember for the first time feeling slightly afraid of these people that I considered my friends. I looked up to see the man’s son, then in his late 30s, watching me. My boyfriend was talking to his dad, but he’d seen my face. He smiled and winked. It was a gentle wink. It said many, many things about him and his world and the expectations on him, some of which he probably wasn’t even aware, but most of all I guess it said ‘don’t worry. This isn’t your life. You’re just passing through.’ He was right. I saw him a couple of years ago. He didn’t recognise me. But I remembered that wink. And I’ll always think well of him for it.

Don’t get me wrong. Words are brilliant. I love them, I love using them and without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I do for a living. But sometimes, in life, I just get tired of them. Words don’t make you feel special. Not often.There’s too many to sift through.

So if you like me and want to make me smile don’t give me your words. To be honest,  I don’t trust them. Find me in a crowded room. Look at me and wink. Make me smile. Give me a silent, private moment that’s just ours. Because winks don’t lie.;-)x