Monthly Archives: February 2014

Is the grass greener? Breaking up in your 30s

If you’re approximately 30 years old and in a long term relationship, chances are you’re already engaged. If you’re not, you may feel that bitter kernel of resentment in the pit of your stomach. Why aren’t you engaged? All your friends are engaged. Loads of them are married. If you are living in a rented flat then why don’t you have a house? Where are your children? All your friends are having children. The self-doubt swells. The panic sets in. The alarms go off. Before you know it, you’re lying in bed, tears in your eyes as you stare at the ceiling. That kernel of resentment reaches up into your throat and makes you say it. ‘I don’t think I want to be together anymore’. Gulp.

Making yourself suddenly single at 30 is serious. Someone usually has to move out of somewhere. You might have to break off an engagement. Give back a ring. Detangle the twisted wires of two lives and start all over again. If this is you, before you take a sledge-hammer and smash it through the middle of your life, you better make sure you’re sure.

In 2013, 42% of our marriages were ending in divorce. If we got married in our 20s, then 53% of us will be divorced before we cut the cake on our Pearl Wedding Anniversary. Pearl is 30 years of marriage, by the way. I never knew that one. Probably because only 38% of us ever make it to Pearl.

Reasons for breaking up are often understandable things like infidelity, domestic violence, hatred, loathing, irreconcilable differences. But in your early 30s the reason might well be purely inertia. And also, panic. A dangerous combination which yes, can sometimes lead you to bright-green new  pastures but often just leads to unhappiness, regret, ready-meals for one and living alone with too many pets.

Sadly these days, young people can’t concentrate for more than 7 seconds. They have to carefully manage their social media personas 24 hours a day and they’ll never live anywhere with stairs, unless their parents can pitch in. There’s an invisible tick list floating above the head of a 30 year old which says: Love, Job, Marriage, House, Children and when waking up on your 30th birthday,  dismayed to find that the whole thing is still unticked, it’s only natural to start at the top of the list. Who are you with and is it them that’s held you up?

Item number one: Love. ‘Whatever ‘love’ is’, as Prince Charles would say. At 30, it’s feasible that you’ve been with your current partner for a pretty long time. Ten years or maybe even more. Just bumping along. Moving in together. What fun.  Engaged maybe? Aren’t we grown up!  When suddenly, things become frighteningly serious. You’re 30. That engagement needs to turn into a wedding. That flat you live in? You need to buy it. Can you buy a flat using your overdraft and £25 worth of coppers you’ve got saved under your bed? No. Do you really love this person? Enough for it to be forever?

Lots of break ups occur under this pressure. Couples report sadly that they  just don’t feel ‘in love’ anymore. Or maybe that they love each other more as ‘friends’. They report a loss of ‘butterflies’. A lack of ‘spark’. A diminishing of ‘unicorns’ and an extinguishing of ‘wizards’. I urge people thinking and saying this sort of thing to get a grip. You are not living in a Harry Potter book.

In this wide-world of uncertainly and of war, of famine and of old people watching TV by themselves in cold front rooms,  if you’ve actually found someone in the swirling, terrifying chaos that loves you and who you love, don’t bin them over a lack of ‘butterflies’, which let’s face is, it nerves. There are nice people breaking up with other nice people, for no other reason than that they want to see if they can do better. This isn’t Deal or No Deal people. Have courage in your convictions. As Al Green said, ‘Let’s Stay Together’.

“Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.” Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin


BRITs 2014: The top eight most annoying things

Watching The Brit Awards last night, I noticed that being over 30 now prevents me from knowing who anyone is. Not entirely. Some things gave my brain a flicker of familiarity (‘oh yeah, I sort of know that one’). On the whole though, I didn’t have a clue. I missed Geri Halliwell’s dress, I missed Liam Gallagher, I longed to see Jarvis Cocker making a protest. Other than being too old, here are eight other things which were very annoying:

James Corden

James was hosting for the last time and they made a very big thing about it. Everyone kept saying ‘thank you’ to him for doing such a great job. I hadn’t especially noticed him ever hosting the Brits before (except the Adele year). He took a selfie with Prince while Prince was making a speech (Don’t interrupt Prince!), he made cruel jokes at the expense of poor Justin Bieber, he kissed Nick Grimshaw on the lips. Annoying. Time for a new host.

One Direction

The boys looked a bit tired. There was detectable sadness in their eyes, their youthful twinkle dulled by three long years in the music business. The terrible things they must have seen! Especially Louis. While everyone’s watching that wayward cad, Harry, who is watching Louis? That boy is looking more dishevelled every time we see him. I’m worried.


Beyonce has made the annoying- list, but don’t get me wrong. Beyonce is the absolute queen of everything. she was resplendificent. She was magnificulous! (I have had to invent two words to describe her, because there just aren’t words).Wearing a blue sparkly dress straight from heaven and singing a song that sounded like joy, if joy were a sound. Beyonce is the best. How annoying.

Noel Gallagher, Kate Moss & David Bowie

I briefly nodded off during some act I’d never heard of, when suddenly I heard a familiar Mancunian voice. Shocked, I rubbed my eyes. ‘Oh my God, my time machine. It’s worked!’ There on the stage was Noel Gallagher and Kate Moss, being all Cool Britannia. Sadly though, they were just accepting an award for David Bowie.


Current darling of the music industry, the multi award- winning teenager Lorde was there. She is 17. SEVENTEEN. I can’t even bring myself to write any more about her.


Every time I turn on my TV these days, I see Pharrell Williams, in his park-ranger’s hat singing Get Lucky or Happy. He’s on my TV, he’s on my radio. I wouldn’t be surprised if one morning I find him making toast in my kitchen. Pharrell, I like those songs but can you just get of my face for a few days? Please.

Ellie Goulding

She’s almost as omnipresent as Pharrell and during her performance last night, which I was quite enjoying, she inexplicably started playing the drums in a most hectic fashion. It was not entirely unlike Animal from The Muppets. Obviously intended as a cool instrumental interlude to showcase how musical she is, it just made me want to give her a hug and ask if she was alright.

And lastly, but most annoyingly, Arctic Monkeys

Last time I saw Arctic Monkeys they were a group of gawky teens from Sheffield singing pretty good songs. I liked them. But they have seemingly morphed into slick haired men, oozing arrogance and delusions of grandeur. They do things like dropping the microphone and say ‘invoice me’ or make a speech about glass ceilings and rock and roll. Someone on Twitter said, ‘now Jarvis, now!’ If only…


First published by Cambridge News

This week we’re worrying about…

Checking the news every day, there can be a lot to worry about. To make worrying easier, I have scanned the news for you to make sure your worrying is focussed and effective. Here are the four main things to worry about this week.

Flooding and sink holes

The flood waters are finally subsiding and those poor flooded people on the news are wringing out their clothes and returning, damp and dishevelled, to their depressing new lives of sweeping up mould and ruined carpet. East Anglia escaped again thanks to the good old fen drainage. Phew. But wait. Something much worse could be lurking and ready to strike. A SINK HOLE. You could be sitting in front of the TV, cosy in your front room, smugly watching people throw out their carpets and a sink hole could open up under your house and swallow your whole family into its muddy jaws of doom. Good luck.

White Dee

Channel 4’s series Benefits Street has had everyone talking. Should people be sitting around doing nothing while others go to work? Probably not. But are there legitimate reasons for them not working? Probably. Sometimes. Either way though, they all seem to spend a lot of money on fags which, when there’s not enough for 50p worth of washing powder, seems a bit silly. Mainly what’s worrying me is the rise and rise of White Dee. Self appointed ‘mother ‘of James Turner Street, her name sounds like it should be a candle fragrance, but one that smells of fags. She turned up on TV this week to take part in a debate about benefits. She had a new hair cut (long on one side, short on the other) and a sparkly evening top. Said she can’t work due to depression, but she seemed quite chipper. I’m betting she’ll be the next winner of Celebrity Big Brother.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for a Bafta last week giving us a welcome chance to have a good look at him on the red carpet and a good reminisce about the days when he was our boyfriend (in our heads). As a person who has been genuinely in love with Leonardo for many years, it came as a shock to see him looking…39. With a proper man’s voice and a distinct thickening of the neck. What happened to Romeo? Jack Dawson? That kid from the nightmarish Basketball Diaries, which we were too young to watch, but did anyway because Leonardo was in it, even if he was taking heroin and covered with vomit for a lot of the film, he was still our boyfriend and we loved him. Leonardo Dicaprio is almost 40. Worrying.


It’s just around the corner! The daffodils are up and ready to go. Shoots! Little birds just ripe for a hatchin’! 11 degrees Celsius. Crazy people in T Shirts walking around town already. But I for one don’t feel ready. I don’t feel like I’ve been properly cold yet this Winter. I haven’t once worn my new gloves from Primark and they cost me £1 (for two pairs). Whereas usually Winter feels endlessly cold, dark and bitter, 2013/2014 has been a cinch. With the exception of massive flooding and massive sink holes, it’s been pretty easy in East Anglia. It makes me think something dreadful is on the horizon. A wet summer? A DRY summer? A dreaded drought! The seasons are increasingly haywire and whether you think it’s caused by climate change or not, we should probably keep recycling and catching the bus just in case.


First published by Cambridge News.

Anne Frank + You – Review

Yesterday I visited the ‘Anne Frank + You’ exhibition in Ely Cathedral. Largely because it was raining and I needed to shelter my daughter’s pushchair and partly because I’d read Anne Frank’s diary as a teenager and fancied a refresher.

As I approached the Lady Chapel, I could hear the chatter and shrieks of excited school children, clearly enjoying a chance to be away from school, and above the shrieks was shh’ing from exasperated teachers, trying to encourage the children to think about the solemnity of what they were looking at.

I remember going on school trips to solemn places. Visiting the trenches of WWI as a child and not really understanding what we were doing there, I spent the day laughing with my friends while teachers shh’ed us. I’m sorry for that now of course. But the horror of war is not for children. They’re not supposed to understand this darkness.

The exhibition, run by the Anne Frank Trust UK, tells the familiar story of the Frank and Van Daan family through words, photographs, video and some pages from one of Anne’s diaries. We’re shown how the families were forced into hiding by the Nazis and lived for 25 months in a secret annexe, before being discovered and murdered. We all know the story, but it still gives you a chill.

There is a replica of Anne’s annexe bedroom, looking very much like a teenage girl’s room. A few movie-star pictures are pasted on the walls, but there’s sparsity to them. It’s clearly the best she could do with what she had and it gives the room the sinister air, which I’m sure the real room has in spades over in Amsterdam. Standing in the room, my daughter and I alone for a moment, the sadness is confronting. A young girl forced to grow to a teenager in this cramped space and even sadder is to know that the precious hope she protected so vivaciously within that room, came to a bitter end in a Nazi concentration camp.

As you move through the chapel, the boards tell other stories: Muslims murdered in Yugoslavia and Bosnia, the murder of Stephen Lawrence, racist clashes in sport, teenager Malala shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the oppression of girls – it goes on. It sounds bleak, but it’s not. Dotted everywhere are messages of hope. Quotes from Anne’s diary like: “How wonderful is it that no one need wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.”

Anne Frank reaches out to young people as a peer from the past, offering them hope and inspiration to make a future for themselves where the tragedy of racism doesn’t exist. Here’s hoping.

My favourite part of the exhibition is on the way out. There’s a wire tree where you can leave a message and hanging from a branch is one that says, ‘Sorry you’re dead. I think you will be safe in heaven’ – by Evan, age 6. Very good use of the apostrophe for a 6 year old there, Evan. Anne would be proud of you.

First published by Cambridge NewsImage