Scrum

The gorgeous @19syllables had a party at a rugby club on Friday night. Exhibit A, Livvy, Honey and I took full advantage of Mrs & Mr Haiku’s generosity with the fizz. It would have been rude not to take a photo to say thank you, wouldn’t it?

Incidentally, the party was celebrating the fact that the collective age of the Haiku family was 150 this year. Mr A worked out that the collective age of us four was also 150 this year. Even more reason for naked scrummage!

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Sinful Sunday

Death Maths

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” Mark Twain

I read an article back in the summer called My middle-age dread. The article pissed me off, to be honest, the writer being more concerned with lamenting how cool she used to be rather than sharing anything particularly insightful about life in your forties. What did amuse me was the concept of death maths and reaching the point in life where the law of averages means you become closer to the end than the beginning. Statistically speaking my life expectancy is 83. I read that article one week before I turned 41.5. ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘I am exactly halfway through.’

But why start the countdown so soon?

Next Wednesday I will be at a funeral. A friend’s mother. We will travel to the funeral in a converted Routemaster bus, the coffin in the bottom and us on the top deck. After the service we will party in a village hall decorated with palm trees, drink champagne and eat paella. My friend’s Mum died of a very rare cancer. She could expect about a year from diagnosis. That was six years ago. Since then she’s travelled in Burma and India. In July she and my friend were in Spain, swimming in the sea and feasting on paella.

Elsewhere, the mother in law of one of my dearest and oldest friends has just gone into a hospice. They are in the most dreadful countdown of all. But amidst it all my friend’s husband is still considering running two back to back marathons in the Sahara next weekend. He’s running for a charity his Mum is a trustee for. She wants him to stick to the plan.

When this woman first got sick last year my friend and I had one of those reality check conversations about what the next ten years are likely to have in store for many of our peer group. And it will be hard. Aging parents come at a time when you’re at what can be the toughest stage of your own life. Families are young and demanding, careers are changing gears to senior management, businesses are being nurtured, mortgages are in full throttle.

Life in your forties is tiring, but it’s also brilliant. You know yourself. You are building foundations for your future. For a time when someone might run a marathon for you, or decorate a church hall with palm trees. So you have the money and freedom to backpack round Burma in your seventies, even if you’re sick. For the time you inspire someone to think that they’re not halfway to the end but that they’ve still got all that life to live again.

Of course, I would be lying if I said I never had ‘fucking hell, I’m halfway through’ moments. I’m not a total Pollyanna! My confidence with my business, my friendships, my home, is as robust as it can get without being complacent. But I am not the same with relationships or sex.

I’m happy with the relationship status I bestow on my partnerships and don’t want any greater commitment than I have, but I sometimes fret that ‘what if I suddenly decide one day that I do want true love again, not just fondness, and I am too old’. I worry that I have left it too late in life to be exploring new sides of myself and often feel silly asking for what I really want when it comes to sex. I police what I say out of fear of fallout, then get cross that a situation is making me unhappy. I sit with partners and play out in my head things I will say, do or ask for, not always fully listening to the conversation we’re having but also not letting the words out. I put up with patterns that make me sad or chip away at the confidence I try to nurture.

I know I need to change this about myself. Only I can drive that process. And if I look at what I have achieved in other areas of my life, I know I have the spirit to. I just need to grasp the nettle. But that’s just something to work through. A big thing, but not an insurmountable thing. What I have absolutely no truck whatsoever with is the point that ran through the article I mentioned at the top of this piece about no longer being cool in your forties. Fuck that!

Life changes, it doesn’t become less cool.  Cool is seeing my friends juggle all of the challenges of parenthood, raising brilliant little people who make me laugh constantly. Cool is the kitchen disco we have after they’ve gone to bed because why waste money on a babysitter when you could spend it on wine and cheese? Cool is sitting in a beer garden with a friend, talking out the challenges of self-employment. Cool is the smell of a new country when I step off a plane on a new job. Cool is running two marathons for your Mum. Cool is the party my friend is throwing for her Mum’s funeral.

Cool is situation appropriate, not age appropriate. Don’t do death maths, do life maths.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Shinrin-yoku

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that translates as forest bathing. It’s a practice that promotes the calming and restorative benefits of spending time in forests and participating in activities that keep you in touch with nature.  I can confirm that a walk in the woods with Molly Moore, with plenty of gossiping and giggling and occasional stops to get naked is indeed rejuvenating!

Molly wrote a great account of our day out for Wicked Wednesday a couple of weeks back – read it and see more of the photos here. Thanks for a fab afternoon, lovely. xx

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Sinful Sunday

 

 

Fuck me and marry me young…

Snow on the river and two by two

Took a lot to live a lot like you, I don’t

Go there now, but I hear they sung

Their “fuck me and marry me young”

Some wild idea and a big white bed, now

You know better than that, I said.

Driven Like The Snow, Sisters of Mercy

I bloody love sentimentality. And if the precursor to sentimentality is getting drunk with my oldest best friends in the world then, bring it on. Which is how I recently found myself promising to get some Goth into Exposing 40! So here you are my friend, a little Sisters of Mercy, a lot of kohl and the long black velvet gloves I wore to my 18th birthday party. The Manics-inspired fishnets shot will follow soon, I promise…

Dark 1  Dark 2

Dark 3

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Look At Me Now

You may recall, back in May my friend wrote Behind the Camera and some of the Sinful Sunday regulars left some typically encouraging and beautiful comments. My friend loves this project and has taken a few of my photos but at the time didn’t feel ready to share her own or be ‘judged’. Judged is a loaded word, frequently used pejoratively. I knew this was a word that couldn’t be applied the Sinful Sunday community, but I understood what she was getting at.

Last week she was judged. In the most appalling way. Within a work context, in a ‘professional’ meeting, people saw fit to make comments on her weight and appearance and align this to work performance. Even writing this is making tears of anger prick behind my eyes.

Her response? A spur of the moment message to me, and THIS. Photo by me, words by her. And I’m so proud of her. Do your best Team Sinful Sunday – judge away…

Look at me now

I’ve never invited your comments, your opinions, but you gave them to me whether I wanted them or not.

You made me sad, angry, ashamed, and you made me want to hide myself.

But look at me: strong legs, capable arms, glorious breasts.

What’s your judgement of me now?

Look At Me Now

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1995

Early in July, before Molly announced this month’s vintage prompt, I was rifling through old negatives trying to find a photograph I could remember taking some twenty years ago. What I found instead was a set of images I had no recollection of taking.

“It seems I have taken naked pictures of you before.”

 “No! I sooooo don’t remember that!”

The photos are hilarious and on the whole pretty amateur; a shot of my friend’s lovely legs ruined by a clothes horse in the background; us trying (and failing!) to look moody sultry rock star-ish. But I love these. The tilt of her neck in the first one suggests contemplation and makes me wonder what she was thinking about. In the second the definition of her back and the nip of her waist is beautiful.

The bundle of vest just at the bottom of the second shot hints at a shyness about getting completely naked. In fact, I am pretty sure this wouldn’t have been the case – it’s more likely that we just weren’t thinking about the aesthetics. Although I wonder what we would have thought if someone had told us that in twenty years’ time she’d have turned around so I could capture her Whitechapel Smile?

Turn     Straight

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