Friday 24th September

Annabelle is off school sick today which is highly inconvenient as I had made plans to pace anxiously around the house in preparation for my induction day tomorrow.

Fortunately she was only suffering from one of those odd 45 minute bugs that kids are so susceptible to and despite threatening her with a late arrival at school if she didn’t have the decency to lie down and at least pretend to be ill, I didn’t force the issue.

The reason that she wasn’t frog-marched directly into the consequences of her actions is because, I am compelled to admit, I’m a snivelling coward.

I didn’t want to have to stand in the school office under the stern gaze of the terrifying authoritarians that comprise the teaching faculty at Annabelle’s primary school and admit that this delightful little dot of a girl, currently to be seen clutching her bumble bee lunch pack, had managed to cunningly and with malice of forethought managed to scam me, once again, into believing the swine flu had got her.

In all honesty, a great deal of effort on my part goes into avoiding the school premises like the plague. This is not solely because of a healthy fear of the Soccer-Marms whom I have learned to my cost, are like the sun. Never look directly at them or you’ll spend the rest of the term beating them and their cookie baking counterparts off with a cricket bat.

My evasiveness is primarily due to the fact that my kids are the undisputed world leaders in the art of making a complete show of me.

Take for example the time, a couple of months ago, when Annabelle discovered the joys of self inflicted love-bites. She came down dressed for school one morning with her arms covered in purple bruises. Naturally a bit concerned, I told her not to do it again and to keep her cardigan on. When I collected her she told me not to worry, it was all fine as she had told Mr Spencer that (and I quote) ‘I can’t take my cardigan off because Mummy said if you see the bruises that she didn’t give me you’ll call the social’. She went on to add helpfully that Mr Spencer was really nice, took her to his office and gave her a biscuit and some juice while they had ‘a bit of a chat’.

Then there was the time she told her little friend Ellie’s Mum that Ellie couldn’t come round after school for tea because (again I quote) ‘Mummy said our house is starting to look like a friggin’ crack den’.

On one occasion in the summer I foolishly allowed her to have a little boy called Samuel round to play in the back garden. I heard her telling him to be careful where he walked because ‘Mummy spends her whole life cleaning up fucking dog shit’.

I am afraid that bitter experience has taught me to keep as far away from anywhere that my kids habitually frequent as is operationally possible.

As parents, I think that these are wise words for us all.

Thursday 23rd September

I can’t get through my head that as of Saturday, I will no longer just be a slightly confused single mum but will, in addition, be a slightly confused journalism student.

A bit of background is probably, at this point, in order.

I have always enjoyed writing but due to the fact that I found myself at 24 married, with a bad case of being proper knocked up, decided that the needs of my child and husband should be put ahead of my own and so threw myself half heartedly into life as a full time working mum.

 Just when I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of getting a lie in or getting ten minutes to do my bikini line, said tunnel was closed for the foreseeable in the wake of Annabelle’s arrival.

A mere 18 months later Andy decided that maybe the second kid wasn’t such a great idea after all and decamped to the V Festival to ‘re-discover himself’. I couldn’t swear to his precise whereabouts that summer but I do recall that whenever we were having one of our telephonic ‘discussions’ about who was going to get the plasma screen, Coldplay were singing live and unplugged in the background. A few years later he proudly showed me a clip frame full of the various festival tickets he had collected that year, well, you can only imagine my delight.

Anyway, long story short; after a bumpy start, the kids and I not only survived, we flourished.

My (at the time) seemingly grandiose resolution for 2010 was to revisit my original literary career goal as a journalist and so, with little hope of success, I began the application process.

In April I was, I am chuffed to say, offered a place at noSWeat Journalism Training in London and around that time heard about an organisation called the Journalism Diversity Fund which was established by the industry to encourage those of a socially or ethnically diverse background to enter the profession. The fund makes provision for course fees to allow those who, because of their financial or social circumstances, would not normally be able to be a voice for Britain’s increasingly cosmopolitan and diverse culture.

After an interview at the Financial Times in June of this year, I was delighted to discover that I had been lucky enough to be awarded one of the bursaries and with that, my goals moved firmly into my grasp.

The voyage begins on Saturday this week. I don’t really know what to expect but I do know that the course centre are taking us to the Houses of Parliament and the Old Bailey in the first few weeks in addition to work experience placements being organised for the duration of our study.

Journalism; it’s never too late (even if you are a disorganised single mum!).

Wednesday 22nd September

Hurrah, I have at last conquered my ‘I am not worthy’ fears and am feeling very zen.

I was ambling around in Sainsbury’s yesterday and came upon the book aisle. There was a time, I dimly recall, when book aisles sometimes contained novels but it seems that the only bang for your buck available these days are biographies and autobiographies.

Since I wasn’t feeling much interested in reading any more of Tony Blair’s nauseatingly embarrassing memoirs (sometimes Tone, and as it turns out, definitely in your case, it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than crack open your pencil case and confirm it).

Stephen Fry, hmmmm possibly, but nope, didn’t really feel drawn to it at that precise moment, have mentally added it to my Christmas list though.

Katie Price, well denial is the only sensible approach to that literary fiasco. How can we be living in a world where Pointless-Pricey is a best selling authoress, it just beggars belief.

And then I i-spied it: the exact paperback adventure that I needed; Eat Pray Love (now a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts).

Coincidentally, I saw the lady that wrote it being interviewed on Breakfast the other day and I remember thinking at the time that she seemed like a jolly nice person. Then, like some kind of sign from above or something, there was her book sitting right in front of me. I had to shove Katie Price out of the way to get to it but hey, that’s true of most situations these days isn’t it.

I am not completely done with the nice lady’s book yet but am on the last few ‘tales’ (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean and if you haven’t, well you will when you do). It would be fair to say though, that I haven’t so much read this book as drunk it. Every question that I have ever asked myself about my own life is both raised and answered in the space of 348 short pages and at £4.99, it was on sale. That, my friend, is what I call value for money.

I am confident that my newly discovered feeling of at-oneness-with-the-world will allow me to smile beatifically through the direst challenges as I proceed forward on this journey called life and would like to thank Elizabeth Gilbert for the twin gifts of tolerance and peace that she has kindly bestowed upon me.

Dog just turned up covered in oil and mud minus the Teenager who was definitely accompanying him when he left. 

It is with genuine inner calm and tranquility that I realise, and through peacefully gritted teeth that I reluctantly admit; it appears that I may, possibly, have gotten the wrong sodding member of the family chipped.