Tuesday is a Point of View

Now that DD has finally started in a school in Lima (DUN-DUN-DUUUN!!!), I can close the phase of the home educator with the most grateful amen ever uttered on this continent. Although it had only been a week since the kids in London were back to school, my anxiety  (and jealousy) was multiplied by the possibility of our ‘summer holiday’ extending until the next term… or beyond. That in addition to entertaining and trying to keep calm and blah blah blah, I’d have to start pay serious attention to some curriculum – don’t even know of which country – so she’d not fall behind. In the four weeks we’d done the Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología (the day I got robbed); the mini city for kids Divercity, ChocoMuseo; climbed Peru’s biggest indoor climbing wall (three times); gone surfing, cycling and visited most playgrounds with little to do or see, apart from around twenty five homeless cats, half of which appeared to be pregnant. We’d even been to the exhibition of contemporary chair design, as you do. We’d done it all apart from paragliding.

Lima is not necessarily a great city for kids. They don’t do amazing or even pretty basic attractions, like libraries. They seem to value primitive anthropological concepts such as friends and family and spending time together.

We obviously don’t. Thanks to all the years spent in nursery and school, DD seemed to have got this idea that at 8 am she and I would sit on the carpet, and I’d call the register and reveal a white board with a list of twenty-seven fun and developmental structured activities planned for our day together. When spotting her mum’s failure to plan was heading towards planning to fail she started injecting our day with some direction:

What are we doing today? An art gallery? What’s a gallery? I don’t want to go to a gallery. Is there a cafe there? How long are we going to be in the gallery? Can we go to the cafe after? Can I have what I choose? What if they don’t have what I want? What are we doing after the cafe? After we’ve eaten? Draw a picture? A picture of what? And what are we doing after that? What are we having for lunch? What are we doing after lunch? What are YOU going to do after lunch? … and after you’ve been to the loo? Can I watch Frozen? What are we doing now? And if it rains?

IT NEVER RAINS IN LIMA!

Yeah, but what are we doing today, if it rains?

I tried to think what my home schooling friend in London would have done. She organised the ‘Forest Club’ in a true Finnish ‘we-fought-the-Russians’ spirit in Hampstead Heath. There are no forests in Lima, but there are the rocky beaches. I’m sure my friend would have said something like: “Let’s go down on the beach and paint!”

We sat together, back to back, with our paints and brushes. I mixed greys and blues. It’s Lima, it’s the winter. It’s always overcast, it’s always grey, polluted and it never rains. School hunt sucks and I need a job. She was reaching for the purple, pink, yellow and orange with her paint brush. I was going to remind her the point of this planned curricular exercise was to observe and reflect on our environment – not paint rainbows or hearts – but thought better of it. She was engaging in an activity, at least, and wasn’t asking what we were going to do next -

DONE!

(Now, dear readers, here comes my Buzzfeed link bait moment: “I always knew me and my 6-year-old saw things differently, but then I saw this and OMG THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED!”)

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Photograph from GuiaGPS

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‘Tuesday’. My interpretation.

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‘Tuesday’. Her interpretation.

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Photo from Nirvanadmc.com.

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Help

 

Help

“Under segregation, black women were so rigidly excluded from good jobs that 60% of those who were employed in 1940 worked as maids.” The Economist, 30/08/14. Picture fromthe Help (2011)

 Wednesdays are special days. On Wednesday afternoons I can never find the phone charger, a bottle opener, and it took three weeks and a CSI unit before I found the tampons. This is because Wednesdays mornings Doña Lucha comes to clean our home. I can’t begin to tell you how often the single mother management consultant version of me in London, was dreaming of a doña lucha.

It is therefore very fitting that now that I’m doing nothing, I have a doña lucha here to help me allocate my precious time better. I’m therefore living like most women over the poverty line live in Peru. Except that most would have a live-in maid and a nanny plus additional garnish of your choice (gardener/chef/driver etc). We have really gone for the diet option. On the other hand, the one kind of help that’s been my lifeline in the past six years, a babysitter, is a completely foreign concept in Peru. I’ve found myself explaining over and over again that I don’t want someone wearing an apron and plaits, who calls me a señora and who sleeps in our bike shed. Oh, you mean a ‘cama afuera nana’ (live-out nanny)? No-one seem to understand the idea of a cash-strapped student who’s happy to sit on your couch for five hours doing course work/check Facebook/watch bad TV while your precious offspring sleeps/does graffiti/watches bad TV. This, I think, is because generally cash-strapped people don’t study in Peru. And generally those who study don’t do minimum wage jobs.

The Economist had an article on domestic servants yesterday: “In 1935, six out of ten urban white families above the poverty line in the South had a full-time domestic servant, compared with under 20% in the North. Now hardly anyone does. People who want help with the housework typically hire cleaners (also called maids) for a few hours a week, not as live-in flunkeys with whom they pretend to have a warm relationship”

Welcome to Peru in 2014, bringing you ceviche, Macchu Picchu, llamas and an environment where you can still pretend to have a warm relationship with your brown live-in flunkey! If your vision is not clouded by Lima’s wintery fog, it is clear as day that this warm relationship is rooted in slavery and colonialism. This spill over effects are everywhere: the boys pushing your shopping trolley all the way to your front door. It’s not the same as home delivery as you’re not saving any time. It’s a power display. That or a management consultant doing the field work part of a leadership workshop.

20140822_180322“Keep up, boy. The turkey is defrosting”

The whole economy seems to be based on servitude. Innovation management consultants – don’t even bother. There is no need to come up with products that would help me be more efficient in my daily tasks because someone spending their whole day doing a job for me inefficiently is cheap as chips. And makes me the high man on the totem pole. People who work as domestics often can’t have a family themselves and if they do, who do we think serve them and other low wage people? Anything to do with the fact that at least 6% of children in Peru work in domestic services.

If wages were more equal this would obviously diminish. (And not coming last in OECD education rankings might help). If this blog was by a clever economist right now there’d be a chart that shows that income inequality correlates with domestic servitude. I’m no longer a management consultant so I don’t need to pretend I’m smart.

But I can still offer my opinion. Peruvians, you’re big boys and girls now – emerging economy… OECD… All really exciting, can-barely-keep-your-pants-on stuff, but keep it in your privacy and you don’t need, ahem, a hand from the help. Expat Americans: that segregation in the U.S was kind of abolished like, sixty years ago, does not like give you a reason to boss brown people in South America. Hipster backpackers: why is it cool and eco and sustainable to pay a local ten times less than you’d pay in Shoreditch? And the rest, Europeans, ex management consultants and especially bloggers who’ve assumed a moral higher ground because you’d never use domestic slavery… Well, forget it. This blog is not about sock factories in Bangladesh, anyway.

We found a babysitter. She studies bar tending and mixes amazing pisco sours. According to DD anyway. We tip generously.

 

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Our Crêpe Shaped World (Moving from London to Lima)

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Note from the editor (that’s me): From now on this blog uses Mumsnet style abbreviations to refer to my dear daughter (‘DD’) and dear partner (‘DP’) to protect them and their current and future careers against my big online mouth. This is a  necessary measure taken as a response to a surging popularity among the two family members and five or so spammers who occasionally visit this site.

“Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”

Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne

For me ‘another way’ meant dumping our clutter at a Cancer Research shop and cramming the rest into nine bags and a box for the bicycle. I wasn’t so much worried about moving to Peru as such, as I was about having only one way tickets; having different family names in our passports; and no document whatsoever that would show her completely absent biological father was in agreement with our emigration. However, after the 20 hour flight, my fears of long questioning evaporated as soon as the officials gestured“adelante” through a dedicated fast-track for families with young children. Being 6 years old at the Lima airport is a bit like being an EU citizen at Gatwick.

One of the first things I’ve realised, is the difference between ‘immigrants’ and ‘expats’. Where DP was an immigrant in the UK; me and my daughter are expats in Lima. He would still be an immigrant if he took his PhD to an investment bank. I’m still an expat even if I’m sipping down DP’s salary at Starbucks on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s the difference between ‘you are a cleaner’ versus ‘you have a cleaner’ (wohoo, I have a cleaner!). It’s the difference between making pancakes (me) or crêpes (him). Yet, apart from my good taste for chocolate, my consumerism, I don’t know what it is I’m contributing to the Peruvian economy. I’m trying to see if any of the local election banners promise “serious measures to tackle expatriation”.

So while I’m waiting for an expat task force crackdown at Starbucks, the Mission One for our new little family is to find a school for DD. Education is insanely expensive in Peru – by expat standards, let alone for the average Peruvian. In the event capitalism has worked out for the undeserving (single mothers? black people? indigenous people? atheists?), the other school admission requirements – which include a parental psychiatric test; references from two existing school parents; a family photograph that “includes the entire family” (particularly difficult since our only family dog is a mongrel) – will guard the country’s elite from mixing with mortals. Yet, I dare argue, access to a private swimming pool and personal psychologist aside, basic levels of literacy and numeracy are fairly mediocre compared to what one gets for the price of a school meal in London.

Being the economist that he is, DP thinks human capital investment should be treated as any physical asset. Will $10,000 enrolment fee + 10* $1,000/monthly fee over ten years plus inflation and family fun day entrance fee supplemented with home tuition and ballet classes etc give a better return than handing a publicly educated 19-year-old $100,000 to invest however she wants to? (I am happy to volunteer in the control group if anyone is interested in administering a study and doesn’t mind a participant who falls outside the age criteria by a couple of years.)

 I have to remind myself that we didn’t move to Peru for the quality of its British education or its corporate prospects for me. We  moved because there’s more to life than exam results and career, and the next time I’m bothered by such deep thoughts, I don’t want to be in hospital bed recovering from a spine surgery.

So I’m writing this sitting on the beach watching DD on the surf board. Every time she disappears into the waves my heart nearly stops and I nearly drop my new Mac which makes my heart stop again. I refuse to think whether the instructor is qualified, CRB checked, health and safety trained or what he knows about pedagogy. I just concentrate on waving at DD as she approaches the shore, standing on the board on her own for the first time.

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Letting It Go And Getting the Timing Right

In the past weeks apart from learning to lip synch to Let It Go (because apparently my voice is annoying), just as important as not holding back is knowing exactly when.
For example, in case you have forgotten, learning to ride a bike without stabilisers is hard work. It’s especially hard if when it comes to the practice of calm mindfulness, your mum is the opposite of a yogi, because she’s yet to get eight weeks off from work to do yoga and eat croissants (after literally – not metaphorically – losing some back bone). And if your dad was around, he would possibly have more patience but only after having exchanged the bike for cannabis.
So my daughter’s inability to ride a bike without training wheels was just a metaphor for the guilt I felt about our incomplete family. Yet her stabilisers hardly touched the ground so I knew she could do it, but she was as confident as the Bank of England. I’d hold and run behind her and then let go without warning. I thought this was commonly practiced pedagogy. “Are you holding? Are you holding?” “Yes! Keep pedalling!” I’d lie. But rather than cycling to the sun set she’d get completely hysterical and probably lost all trust in me for the next ten years.
Then one of these days, I didn’t let go. “Are you holding? ARE YOU HOLDING?” “No! You’re doing it yourself!” I lied. “SERIOUSLY? AM I GOING ON MY OWN? I’M PEDALLING ON MY OWN!” she cheered and the next time she demanded I step aside and just watch as she went by: “I’M THE CYCLING CHAMPIOOOOON!”
The thing about kids is that I suppose one can always plunge them into the water. But if they don’t sink they’ll get back to the surface more bitter than when they went down. I hope I can remember our cycling experience through her childhood and teenage years: Let her go in spirit and think she’s doing it herself.

This is the lesson number two: parenting is not a job for the credit hungry – they’ll never give you that and that’s ok, it shouldn’t be. But maybe when she has her own kids, I will tell her, guess what, I was holding you that whole time. That’s why you didn’t fall.

 

bikeCold never bothered her anyway.

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Zombie Child

I have often thought there is a special place in hell for people who schedule meetings to start at or after 5pm. Before I got sick, I imagined my death would be recoded at 18:17:24, on Hornsey Lane when I was trying to undertake the number 41 while revising a novel way of apologising for, for the third time in the week, being 17 minutes and 24 seconds late picking my daughter up from the afterschool club. Having said that, should these two scenarios come real, my after life would be very much like my current one minus the worry of trying to make it to the after school club for 6pm. In that sense the eternal flames could be an improvement in the quality of life.

I would miss my daughter though, but if the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is to be believed in, she is already a zombie. A study published today warns of the effects of children as young as four spending as much as ten hours a day at school, from breakfast to the evening snack. (Some of them spend on average around 10 hours and 17 minutes – I know, because it was me who bought her the watch.)

“These children walk around like ghosts, do not talk to anyone, fall asleep frequently, do not progress as quickly as their peers. Their parents are also ‘too busy’ to support them in an adequate way at home,” a teacher said in the Guardian.

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A ‘Zombie’ child playing ‘Zombicide’.

Unless ghosts have “excellent speaking skills” but are not such great listeners, as in my daughter’s reception year school report, I think this teacher might have been generalising a bit. But that’s ok. We are used to generalisations, us single parents. Even when we are generalised by omission, which this report is guilty of through depicting the time poor hard pressed as the nuclear family, where both parents have to – wait for it – work. In Finland both parents work, but primary school kids finish school by lunch time. And the school starts at age seven, for that matter. So contrary to a popular misconception, Finns don’t acquire their national zombie like characteristics until much later in life, and even the school murderers obtain their Finnish equivalent of GSCEs before being presented with a rifle at their 16th birthday.

But I’m getting all too EU labour policy-ish/Scandinavian noir here, when the point I was trying to make is that if the ten hour school days are true for any particular demographic segment, surely the single parent families would have their free hand up, even if in the Coalition’s dictionary, the word oxymoron is explained as a ‘working single parent’. This has even been unintentionally observed by my department’s leadership, in a cc all email to the practice: “it has been noted that some people leave at 5.30pm… to have an easier life… this is not acceptable.” So, guilt ridden after spending the 10 minutes of quality time with the daughter every evening (not shouting counts as quality, yes?), I try to bridge this gap between my easy life and acceptable humanity on my laptop until I collapse after midnight.

Clearly, until the day I can clone myself (which may be soon, based on the number of samples of tissue I’ve had taken from parts of my body during this long cancer diagnosis process), this all suggests that my default position is failure, whether as a parent or an employee, and from this position I want nothing more than kick Sheryl Sandberg’s ass when she’s leaning in.

But on the other hand, whether it is a question of your prognosis or your child’s progress, statistics and averages are mostly irrelevant at an individual level. My daughter does brilliantly at school – particularly on the verbal expression side, so the headteacher was surprised to learn she is actually bilingual (you see, the English view the knowledge of more than one language, that is English, as a handicap and hence this is not encouraged until one goes on a gap year to teach English to poor indigenous children in South America, because it is still a bigger handicap not to speak English even if one might argue they would benefit more of learning Spanish).

And this parental pride in itself qualifies me to give some advice, which apparently blogs can get famous (read sponsorship) for. Firstly, we do the homework during the school commute. It works. Secondly, lots of parents cram weekends full of activities. I used to take her to three different lessons on Saturdays and Sundays, because getting home at 7pm obviously means she can’t train as a classical pianist on a Tuesday afternoon. But I got fed up and tired, let alone bankrupt. Now we only do activities that have some enjoyment and benefit for both of us. So, for this not so much ‘tiger’ as your average hedonistic ‘family cat whose partner no-one has ever heard of’ mum this has involved swimming (I swim during her lessons); athletics (I train for my 10k PB while she’s in her session); being together at a djembe drumming workshop;  dancing salsa in Hyde Park; or playing a (good) board game. I realised that I can only genuinely do this quality time thing they go on about, if I’m actually relaxed myself.

But it’s possible that more drastic changes to the work demands and marathon school days are needed to make the time to develop some other skills. Not maths or literacy, but learning to ride a bike was our personal mountain. How fitting that we have now successfully climbed that one – during my sick leave.

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Why It Seems to Be Better to Be Fat than Black and Other Serious Illnesses

I was telling Taika about the time I had chicken pox. “I was eight and my sister was five, we both had chicken pox and we were at home alone while our mum and dad went shopping,” as the 1980s laissez faire Finnish parenting permitted. “When they came back, we got a surprise. We both got Barbie dolls.”
“Ooh, what kind of Barbies?”
“Mine was a Disco Barbie, she was black and called Dee Dee.”
“Ha! And what did your sister have?”
“I think she also got a Disco Barbie but a white one.” (Sometimes my mother and adoptive father went to some lengths to recognise my Afro-heritage – most of the time they didn’t)
“Your sister was so lucky,” she said with a sigh that contained six years of experience of how the reward of merit is not life’s business (Julian Barnes).
“But why?”
“Because she got the white one.”

Maybe I just didn’t expect my 6-year-old growing up in North London in 2010s – in the most diverse borough of the world’s most cosmopolitan city – have exactly the same reaction I had had twenty five years earlier in Finland, where the only black faces ever seen were in the church collection boxes. (How Dee Dee even ended up in our local supermarket’s stock is unknown and the police are investigating. Dee Dee – if you’re still there, go back home or face arrest, the Immigration are coming.)

She went on to elaborate that black was the worst, white was the best, and lighter brown – now she pointed herself – was alright “I guess”. “But you fancy Joshua?” and then, as if there was some logic-based point to be proven, I listed all the people that were darker than us that were our friends and who we loved. She shrugged and I could have launched on a trite parliamentary speech about every child matters. But before you judge me for not doing so, you should know how unsuccessful my “There Are No Girl or Boy Colours,” or “Boys Can Wear Pink. Girls Can Wear Blue,” or “Now Put This On or I’m Going to Get Mad” was. She would just give me a perfunctory nod to please me and next time keep her thoughts to herself for the protection of my outdated world view.  I’d be punished with premature condescension by my offspring only because of my hipocritical reaction to an honest cultural observation, one that she perhaps hadn’t thought anymore significant than “why do teenagers like to look cool?” and “why do Americans sound like someone was pinching their noses?”

Instead, I went to You Tube the next day to search for the famous doll test.

The direct in-your-face kind of racism is a pretty rare – although not non-existent – experience in my life these days. But despite being a woman who has all the social graces that come along with being a red-brick university educated city professional with a mirroring social circle, nonetheless she is sometimes reminded of the existence of certain world views when subjected to open discrimination and humiliation from the occasional cab driver or a night club door man. But what possible experiences are my six-year-olds views based on? Perhaps little every-day enforcements like this, which prove this is not an American issue. Or a Mexican issue. Or a phenomenon of a by-gone era.

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Superdrug, I don’t think ‘Naughty’ is quite my shade. Don't suppose you have any ‘Promiscuous’ in stock? 
And look at my friend over here. She needs something leaning towards the shade of a fetish?

Does it matter that I like to colour my hair honey blond? (But I also sometimes wear braids to be gaped by my colleagues as if I had gone through an overnight sex change. “You look like a recipient!” wins the award for the best compliment, ‘recipient’ in our context referring to the Sub-Saharan beneficiaries of one of the international aid programmes our consulting practice charges a few million quids to manage.) Or that I use contouring to make my cheek bones look more prominent and nose slightly narrower? Do these things matter?

Does it matter that judging by what we see, being obese today is a more acceptable beauty standard than being black? When Debenhams introduced size 16 mannequins last autumn this was celebrated – the average size of British woman is officially over-weight – and the equalities minister (yes,  I know) Jo Swinson endorsed this “latest move to show women off in representative lights.” Whether we think it’s beautiful or representative or full-figured or whatever, obesity comes with serious health risks. Being Black does not.

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The saints come marching in, in their representative lights

I will continue to tell my daughter that brown skin is not a disability and her light-skinness is not why she is pretty – and that girls can wear blue. It feels a bit of a one woman battle that I don’t know where to start. But in the first instance, right now I’d like to go home from the hospital and hug her and tell her how beautiful she is.

Today even more than on any other day, because I have just been told by the doctor that I have cancer.

It is not life’s business to reward merit.

So now if you excuse me, I will get up, comb my hair and put some make up on. Let the one woman battle commence.

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A Post Card from an Easier Life

Thought this would be as good time as any to include some inspiration from the corporate leadership from the past year.

“We do have a high performing culture; we’re bright, ambitious, energetic and driven people…”

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“…It will mean that we have to work really efficiently and effectively all of the time, and sometimes work at unreasonable and long hours – that’s the deal for any high performing team like ours.”

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“…concerned that some people are having an easy or easier life, relying on others to cover for them. The economic and competitive environment is too tough for us to do this.”

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“35 hours of activity is not a ceiling! Our best performers at the year end review combine high client utilisation with business development and practice support activities.”

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 “It’s not acceptable to opt out of this!”

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“Mum, I think you should find a new job. Like a librarian or a dog walker or something.”

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Deadline

 (ˈdɛdˌlaɪn)

n.

1. the time by which something must be finished, submitted, etc. 2. (formerly) a boundary around a military prison beyond which a prisoner could not venture without risk of being shot by the guards.

“She should be back by Thursday,”

was the management’s update to my colleagues on the status of my sick leave. I had told my project manager that I was in hospital having surgery and  not much good for work. In reality, I was staring at the smoke rising from a meteorite falling on the spot I had been standing five seconds earlier.

The pains that had developed in my back since the start of the year, had started to spread across to my sides, crawling to my abdomen, and intensified night by night. Over the two month period I self-experimented with pain management – from packs of paracetamol, ibuprofen, herbal baths (twice a night), cold gel, hot water bottles, sleeping upright, a sketch pad full of Frida Kahlo inspired doodles – but nothing ever allowed me more than a couple of hours sleep each night. It was something like going through labour pains, every night, but not once did it cross my mind to take time off from work. It’s just not the way we roll in our firm.

I finally got around taking a morning off work and get an appointment with a GP – having made it through a UK Border Agency style triage (“Is it an emergency?” “No, if it was an emergency I’d go to A&E, but I don’t want to wait for two weeks for an appointment.” or “Is it an emergency?” “Yes.” “What kind of an emergency? The doctor will call you in a week.”) – to be told that I should invest in a new mattress. Really, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time I call a GP, they will have all been outsourced to India and I’ll be told to switch myself off and back on again.

Waving my private medical cover, I got a referral to see a physiotherapist albeit not without one more reminder about the mattress. I was now secretly self-medicating with Modafinil, a cognitive boosting prescription drug, available through very trust-worthy UK based online drugstores delivering in non-branded brown packages from China, my ‘i-don’t-know-how-she-does-it’ answer to being a single mum and a management consultant with two hours sleep per night and a performance review coming up. Which wasn’t much below the standard recommended sleep allowance for management consultants anyway; where grace is to be found in statements like: “I intentionally planned this deadline for Monday. So we can use the weekend as a buffer.”

That particular time I wanted to scream: “We are not using the weekend as a buffer. We are using my 6-year-old as the buffer. She has been the incredible curly-haired soft-cheeked buffer for these stupid deadlines for the past five and a half years!” But I didn’t think I was using my health as a buffer too, and I didn’t talk to my mum for two weeks when she unjustifiably instigated I was doing nothing but.

But I started to find analogies everywhere. Was I the only one who didn’t notice Lupita Nyong’o’s performance but  watched ‘12 Years a Slave’ thinking about work? The other night woken by pain again I watched ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, and, whether a slave plantation or a mental institute, I just can’t help finding comparisons with the destructiveness of the corporate world which all seemed to shrink to the original meaning of a ‘deadline’, the step too far taken that will see you shot.

My physiotherapist asked about my symptoms and said I should see an Orthopaedic Surgeon. By this time I had spent one week night at an A&E,  lectured by an NHS nurse about reckless use of emergency services in a non-emergency. So I waited again another week for my GP – her indignation told me writing referrals was beneath her opinion of her role and to restore professional pride as well as compensate for the lack of any true influence, she, like any true bureaucrat, fully exercised her gatekeeper powers until she could nothing but – to refer me on.

At this point I thought it would be best to tell work why I would not be 100% ‘client chargeable’ that week (i.e. why there was evidence of me going offline in the course of the day)

Within two days from seeing the Orthopaedic Surgeon, I was sitting in front of a Neurologist listening  him making phone calls  to change the theatre schedule for an urgent operation. An hour earlier – 5pm on Friday – I had received a text:  “This is Dr Nicholls. I have your test results. I need to speak to you urgently” and two similar texts after that (Imagine anyone in the NHS calling you back, let alone Friday pm.) My MRI scan had revealed fluid around my spinal cord,  and I was told I had ‘Spinal cord abscess’, which is rare (less than 100 cases reported in modern medical history) but a life threatening condition. An early diagnosis followed by surgery and possibly chemotherapy can prevent paralysis. Tuberculosis used to be one of the most common reasons, so I am being tested for that while microbiologists and pathologists are looking at the fluid and a sample cut off my spine to see if it could have been caused by other bacteria.  I’m treated with antibiotics but some of the fluid had to be left in, as apparently it is too far back and an intervention would have left me unable to do Gangnam Style ever again.

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I thought this would be my last selfie.

The moral of the story is to always, always, always have a private medical insurance. You will have to do your own admin (faxing forms between hospitals and insurers etc), which is never fun but even less so when you think it’s taking the place of your bucket list as the last thing you’re doing, but I have nothing but praise for the London Bridge Hospital, where I’m treated alongside Saudi Royals. Amazing facilities, amazing staff. Amazing mattresses.

But if there’s anything else you would like to read to this story, is that no, sorry, for once in this fucking life  I’m not coming back to work on Thursday. There is no buffer this time.

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She came last night and brought me a nice present which was chocolate, which she ate. 
Then she asked if she could take the rest home.

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I am staring at the smoke rising from a meteorite falling on the spot I had been standing five seconds earlier.
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Dress Down Friday

I’ve never quite got Deluxe, the Friday supplement magazine of Evening Standard, but out of free commuter publications I still grab it over Watch Tower – despite the weird cover features like those today: “Eat Well, Lose Weight” and “Rich Pickings. How the Other Half Shops”.

Obviously I need to know how the other half shops and this is what I discovered:

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  Simone Rocha, neoprene dress, at Dover Street Market, £1,115 (Net-a-porter has sold out)

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This is your life (ish)

It takes me two weeks to write a blog post. Work consumes me and what it finds indigestible becomes the mid-week left-overs for my daughter. I myself exist in the periphery of my own life, pushed to the furthest edge of a Sunday, which if you blink, turns into a new working week.

I really liked this, and if writing about love wasn’t completely out of my character, I’d personally – by way of a blog post – vouch for what it says here – with anecdotes on top. I may even do that. On a Sunday night.

thisisyourlife

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