Monday, 30 November 2009

I hate the word "vulnerable"

Oh bloody hell, bloody me.

On Friday the CNJ printed a story about a 23 year old girl who died when her bike collided with a bus. Really sad. Really really sad. In the same paper, a woman wrote that we cyclists should take a bus:

"An excessive amount of attention and municipal consideration is being given to cyclists," she said. This is true. The other week a man was ranting about us skipping red lights, riding on pavements, generally being a nuisance.

The woman went on to say, impartially really not anti cyclist like the man: "All over the country heavy goods vehicles are freighting the multitude of needs for our everyday lives 24 hours of every day." That riding a bike is all very well down a little side road or a country village but in a city it's altogether "another matter". She's scared even in a car. "It is a reality in our fast moving and congested city roads that cyclists don't stand a cat in hell's chance." She ended with a flourish: "Get real. Use public transport!"

Now I've posted about my fear of cycling in the city, haven't I? Dunno, anyway, in midst of head in housing stuff, I chuck a little letter to the CNJ and go back to head in housing stuff.

Today they've sent an email saying they need my full details to publish it.

Oh fuckety fuckety fuck. We've been here before. They are not stupid; after my bccing the party leaders email to them they are definitely not stupid. One plus one, does make two! I took the bull by the horns and replied telling them they could do the sum.

I told them I still felt "incredibly vulnerable" which was why I didn't just spell it out on the email. God I hate the word 'vulnerable'. It's so crap, it's such a cop out. It's where me and Stigmum part company and I feel exposed while she just wants to get a message across.

What do I have to be afraid of? After all, they will withhold my details.

Why do I have to be so flipping frightened? Why do I have to admit to feeling 'vulnerable'? Urgh, did I tell you I hate that word, applied to me.

I'm scared aren't I, of one of those pesky politicians I'm so intent on calling pesky reading this, consigning me and my son to the depths of hell, which begs the question of why I write a flipping blog in the first place and why I insist on being hand bitey on said blog.

I am not Belle de Jour, not in terms of clever writing, nor in terms of clever cover up. But what I write is true goddammit, the lives of many, not just mine. The thoughts of many, not just mine.

I should get a grip. This is the letter that they will not publish or that they might publish and does it really matter if they do or don't?

I was very sorry to read about the death of Dorothy Elder (Cyclist in bus collision dies 26 Nov) but I must say to Ms Milner (Get real, cyclists, take a bus letters 26 Nov), if public transport was free, I might consider it. If a bus could take me to my destination quicker than my bike, I would also be tempted. Instead I hop on my bicycle and sing; It's not my day to die, it's not my day to die, oh no no it's not, it's not my day to die.
So far, so lucky. The roads belong to us all, we should all look out for one another.

There, a storm in a thimble, over that.

"BENEFIT SCANDAL" screams The Sun

Front page:
"Jobless Somali family of nine handed luxury £1600-a-week luxury home..on taxpayer"

I buy it to discover what the scandal is.

That a jobless Somali family of nine are handed a luxury £1600-a-week luxury home?
That taxpayers are footing the bill?

Which is the scandal? I pop over to page 9 for the Full Story

Ooh, it's fitted out with the latest modcons. Oh for a flat screen tv! Oh for a huge wall length wardrobe!

Don't be jealous stiggers, you could do the PRS and have all this too!

The mum, along with seven of her children and her pensioner mum were "allowed" to choose it "even though the rent is DOUBLE what estate agents reckon is the going rate."

What's the scandal there? That she was allowed to choose it or that the rent is twice that of the going rent?

The home, with its "FIVE storeys, SIX bedrooms - some with balconies - THREE sitting rooms, FOUR bathrooms and a spacious, superbly fitted-out kitchen... is not big enough."!!!!

Is that the scandal?!

So the (smiling in the photo) dad (brave man) lives with their eighth child in a two bed flat here in Camden - "again at the taxpayers' expense."

Is that the scandal? (Stigmum's wondering if it's a council two bed and can hear the Black Dog growl so tells the Black Dog it isn't even though she doesn't know hoping the Dog will quieten.)

The Taxpayers' Alliance says it's not the family's fault. Indeed, it is not (although with a flat that size why can't dad live with mum and put kiddie in a bunk bed? That's what I had when I was little).

I was chatting about the front page headline with the (Indian) woman at the local newsagent and she too, doesn't think it is the family's fault. She said it was the Government's fault. "They let them in and give them everything for free because of human rights," she told me. She didn't stop there but I'll get back to the article.

"The amount of housing benefit is determined by government policy." It's the Government's fault! (let me google who Ms Roe is... hang on..oh what a surprise, she's Tory!) Is that the scandal? (That it's the Government's fault, not that she's a Tory)

"We would like to see the entire system changed to enable local councils to have more control," says Ms Roe.

Change it how? Auction off existing council properties like the Tory/Libdem lovebirds are doing here in Camden?
Reduce the cap on housing benefits which is already contributing to the poverty of hundreds upon thousands of individuals who cannot afford the homes they are "allowed" to live in?

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We will launch our consultation on reforms to housing benefit shortly. We want the system to be fair both to families in need and the taxpayer."

Who will they consult?
I don't have the answers... perhaps that is the scandal.

The family may have to move again.."The property is in the hands of receivers who claim it should not have been rented out." This is a flipping scandal, exactly what I'm afraid of with this whole PRS thing. Bounce bounce bounce our children...

Housing is no longer a crisis, it's a catastrophe. (I'm saying that, not The Sun although I do think it's implicit in the article.)

It is getting worse, much worse and I, for one, don't see a resolution. I don't think the red, blue, yellow or green politicians do either.

That is the scandal.

Who will you vote for next May? I, as ever, Don't Know but I bloody wish I Did.

Good advice - another Carpenters song

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

La la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

(Out of tune is fine isn't it Karen? Stigmum says it is....)

Rainy day and it's Monday - a song

Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin around, blogging what I frown
Rainy days and mondays shouldn't get me down

What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothing is really wrong
Feeling like I don't belong
Walking around some kind of crazy clown
Rainy days and mondays shouldn't get me down

Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you
It's nice to know somebody loves me (oh stiggers!)
Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do
To run and find the one who loves me (don't have to run far do I son?)

What I feel is come and gone before (oh crikey yes)
No need to talk it out
We know what it's all about
Hanging around, blogging what I frown
Rainy days and mondays shouldn't get me down

Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do
Run and find the one who loves me

What I feel is come and gone before
No need to talk it out
We know what's all about
Hanging around, blogging what I frown
Rainy days and mondays shouldn't get me down

Hanging around, blogging what I frown
Rainy days and mondays
Shouldn't get me down

(RIP Karen Carpenter, my company this monday morning)

Calling councillors for good measure

Just called Mr Muppet, to say thanks really because there's nothing for me to do really except wait for the outcome of his enquiries.

He has back to back meetings so I spoke to an assistant of his. She was very nice. She understood what it's like to live in these circumstances. That's helpful, of course it's helpful, but I told her I'd written countless letters and emails, to councillors, mps and have not had a positive response to any of them.

Well, here's hoping hey, that the journey is coming to an end. That my son and I may soon be moving somewhere permanent and 2010 can be the year I fight for a decent job, not fight for a decent home. Well, a secure, affordable home at any rate...

Give me wierd if wierd is good

I returned from amazing weekend with amazing friend yesterday evening and a letter awaited me from Mr Muppet, Leader of the Council (I told Stigmum it was disrespectful to call a helpful councillor Mr Muppet but she says it fits and the Muppets are cool and to just call him that and be done, and well, I'm in no mood to cross Stigmum today as she's in a positive mood).

Well, Mr Muppet's letter says:

"Thank you for your email telling me about the problems you are experiencing with your temporary housing situation and your problems with the housing options, Choice-based Lettings Scheme.
I have raised an enquiry with the Housing Needs service and I hope to have a response around the 9 December."

I have not sent him an email!! No! It didn't cross my mind!!

He says that if I need help in the meantime, to please get in touch. He's given me his number! Well, I should use it really shouldn't I? Bidding closes today at noon.....

What is also curious is that I run into lovely widowed mamma who lives upstairs on the way back from the school run. She hates living here. She has always hated living here. She was placed here, she never chose to live here. For nine years she has written letter after letter to the council telling them to sort out the mould and condensation on her windows and for nine years she has been ignored. She's given up trying to redecorate rooms because in no time the paint turns black.

"By 2012," she reminds me, "all homes in Camden will be bought up to standard. These flats are sub standard, not of any standard actually. I hate it, it depresses me. Friends won't visit because they hate getting into the lifts. I'm thinking of letting go of my council flat and doing the private sector thing. Housing benefit will pay for it, and we might be better off."

It is not curious that I call this place Papier Mache Towers. That is a fact. It is curious that by bidding on a place upstairs, I am 'choosing' to raise my son here.

Perhaps when I call Mr Muppet, I should put in a word for her. She is so goddamn pretty, she's not allowed to be depressed...

What's quite wierd!

I come back to blogspot after lovely weekend and I have four comments! Four! So I publish them all because they are lovely! And what happens? Only two appear! Oh well, you know who you are commenters! Thank you!

(What's also wierd is as I got on the train on Saturday, I sent Em a text saying I was on the train, then I got a text from Em, asking what I was up to on Sunday! Because she called me 'pots' I knew it wasn't really her so sent a text to Jo asking if it was her as the message said it was from Em who I was on my way to seeing. Jo replied and of course, said, 'yes! How bizarre!' Bizarre indeed!)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Black Dogs and Doris

In Kentish Town earlier to buy wrapping paper for K's birthday present and I pass the PDSA charity shop. I dunno, I'm thinking of the Black Dog and I pop in for a browse.

What do I see in the CD section????


One copy! I have to buy it, simply have to, being a fully fledged member of The School of Doris!

It didn't have her signature tune but who cares!! £2.99 went to dogs and cats and all kinds of pets!

She's been hollering ever since! She was singing "Mister Tap Toe" when Mr Gray popped round to see how I was. "What a coincidence," I said as he asked me how I was. "I've just written to the council." He said he'd put in a call to Quality...

Oh Doris! Que sera sera? Que sera sera Doris?

Worth a shot

Dear Allocations and Quality,

This morning I placed a bid on Papier Mache Towers where my bicycle lives in a shed. I have written to you countless times so you are both well aware of both mine and my son's needs so I won't repeat them here.

All the flats I have lost on recently have gone to people who may have more points than me, but they have been waiting for a flat since...2009. They have been waiting less than a year and have many, many more points than me who has waited many, many more years.

I am highly unlikely to get 'lucky' next week like these people, but I would ask you once again to please review my points as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Sue de Nim

Giving thanks

Just read Rosie Scribble's blog and notsupermum's and they were giving thanks for all things because the other day was Thanksgiving Day. Bought a lump to my throat they did!
So yes, following all Black Dog posts etc etc, it's a timely reminder that I have some thank you's!

My son my sun my son my sun

We're healthy healthy healthy (my madness feeds my creativity...!)

We both have amazing families

We both have amazing friends

We have food to eat and water to drink

We do not sleep on the streets or in a hostel

We are alive and I am not one of the UK women who dies every week in this country from domestic abuse (found that out in Bazza'a Boot Camp yesterday)

My son's going to a birthday party this afternoon

We're both going to Em and O's tomorrow

I'm thankful for a lot of things

I'm thankful for blogspot, my laptop, my fingertips running along this keyboard.

Oh lots of things

Rosie and notsupermum for teaching me something new today

The Buggles for Video Killed A Radio Star

My son loves that song too!

My son my sun my son my sun

Always always him, always always my son

Emails to the Party Leaders

These are the two emails I sent to the Leaders asking for sponsorship:

(Sent 16th November 2009 entitled: Mr Brown, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, you can all help)

Dear Mr Brown, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg (If you could forward this to the Prime Minister Ms Harman, I would be very grateful),

This Friday evening, 20th November, while you are sleeping in a comfy bed, I shall be walking 18 miles at night on behalf of the Big Issue Foundation. The weather may be treacherous, but this is the point; thousands of street homeless have to endure that every single night for homelessness, as you know, is not a daytime nor a seasonal occupation.

The Big Issue Foundation does much to help people in these situations, giving them support with health, accommodation and employment issues. They do an outstanding job, but the homeless problem is getting worse, which is where I step in (forgive the pun).

I'll be honest, I am doing this partly for personal reasons. My son and I have been handed notice on our temporary accommodation. We have been on the homeless register for four years and continue to bid unsuccessfully.

The problem in Camden is acute. There are over 2000 families awaiting secure, affordable accommodation. There are 18,000 on the waiting list. There is an untold number of people living on the streets. The Local Authority response to this is to auction off existing council stock, including a home my son could live in, and also hostels where the street homeless could have a rest from their everyday existence.

Camden Council, which is a Tory/Libdem coalition as you know, will not house me and my seven year old son permanently, merely bullies and threatens me into accepting alternatives that are not in the best interests of my small family.

The Local Authority says it is the Government's policies and directives that keep us in this situation. The Government in turn has told me that it is up to the Local Authority to allocate housing. I received another email today in response to my fear of receiving an accelerated court order for possession of my home, telling me they will find me alternative temporary accommdation before the lease on this temporary home runs out next August. I'm caught in a vicious trap where all three main political parties simply blame one another instead of helping us.

In short, I could SCREAM. Instead, the Big Issue Foundation has given me an outlet for all these emotions of anger and fear and hopelessness.

If I could walk 500 miles
Then I would walk 500 more
If it meant I could finally get my son
A good secure front door and floor
La la la la, la la la la, will you sponsor me?
La la la la, la la la la, it's for others you can see (I'm sure the Proclaimers won't mind I've tweaked their song)

Below is the link to my fundraising page on the Big Issue Foundation's website. Any donation would be gratefully received:

If you would prefer to write a cheque, payable to the Big Issue Foundation, my address is:

Papier Mache Towers,

Please state if you would like your name and donation to be kept anonymous. Ms Harman, this email is not for you, it's just, understandably, very tricky to email the Prime Minister. However, if you are able to make a donation, do feel free.

Kind regards to you all and good luck in next May's elections,

Sue de Nim

(And this the one which followed it, on 24th November 2009, entitled Hitting Targets:)

Dear Mr Brown, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg (Once again, apologies Ms Harman, could I ask you to forward this to the Prime Minister?)

I wrote to you last week asking you to sponsor me for the Big Issue's First Big Night Walk, though I neglected to mention that you had until January 20th 2010 to make a donation. I sincerely hope the three of you will do so. Symbolically it will mean a great deal to me, though it will mean a great deal financially to the Big Issue Foundation and all the homeless men and women it supports. "A hand up not a hand out" is their motto. Their vendors work very, very hard to move their lives forward under very difficult circumstances and often in difficult conditions.

Whilst I write to the three of you together, might I also ask what your policies regarding housing and homelessness will be, should any of you win the general election?

You know that my son and I have been waiting to be housed securely and affordably for many years, still without success. We risk being stuck in a benefits system for time eternal for I am a single income household. I do not want to keep bouncing my son around facing possession notice after possession notice in the Private Sector. He needs a secure foundation. All three of you are fathers; all three of you can understand that.

This housing problem in our society is getting worse, much, much worse and I do not think I am alone in wondering what the future has in store for us.

I succeeded in walking the 18 miles last Friday night. I did think of you all as I did so!

Here is a reminder of my fundraising page:

My address if you would prefer to write a cheque payable to the Big Issue Foundation, is:
Papier Mache Towers,

It is easier if you make your donation straight away. We are all busy people; it's so easy to forget. It needn't be much, perhaps just the equivalent of what you have in your wallets.

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

(I did tell a few people I wrote to them and they made jibes about Brown making spelling mistakes. He's only human was my first thought. However, I can be forgiven for all mine and all the grammatical ones to boot for I am not a rich politician.)

Any Einstein's out there?

I go to bid. There was nothing last week so I didn't bore with this boring routine of utter crappy bollocks.

Still, nothing like a post to awaken your brain cells. If you have the answers to any of these questions, answers on a postcard please. The correct answers will be rewarded with 10% of my lottery winnings this week.

Question A. The five ads I bid on and my place on the waiting list:

193079 = 09/11/09 = 160/440
194824 = 04/05/09 = 216/471
199090 = 16/02/09 = 158/350
104308 = 15/12/08 = 183/451
196521 = 17/03/08 = 136/352

Coherently explain this to me. (Being a mathematician helps I know)

Question B. Flats I bid on recently and the winners. It is helpful for you to know that I have 351 points, waiting since 03/08/05, and I have asked, many times recently, that this be reviewed.

188775 = 06/11/09 = 84/273. Winner = 512 points waiting since 20/10/2009
182566 = 09/11/09 = 140/399. Winner not stated.
193079 = 09/11/09 = 160/440. Winner not stated.
195923 = 02/11/09 = 111/347. Winner = 620 points waiting since 25/09/09
197069 = 02/11/09 = 69/280. Winner = 512 points waiting since 12/08/09
199713 = 02/11/09 = 82/289. Winner = 570 points waiting since 10/07/09
191166 = 02/11/09 = 140/387. Winner = 594 points waiting since 08/09/08
289923 = 02/11/09 = 94/307. Winner = 480 points waiting since 22/01/09

I could go on but I thought I'd make it easy for you.
Why is my son lagging so far behind?
Why are our points so low compared to others when we have waited longer?
There are many clues in this blog but I have not fathomed out the answer.

If you can, there's 10% of my lottery winnings for you!

This week I have bid on a two bed in this Papier Mache Towers. The last time two two-parent families who recently entered the country got them. I am on my own and my son and I were born here.

Good luck!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Blues versus Black Dogs

I was thinking about posting 'training tips' while at Bazza's Boot Camp, ya know, now I've finished the walk but nah, instead I treat you to the Blues versus Black Dog.

Yesterday, I swept away my post training/fundraising good fun Big Night Walk blues.

Today I thought I'd stamp out any blues residues.

Thanks to my son, there were none to stamp out.

You can't stamp out a Black Dog though, no, that's cruelty to animals that is.

My Black Dog is wearing a collar with 'Housing' etched onto it. Of course I didn't feel its presence on the actual walk, possibly because it was in good company with other Black Dogs, leaving me free and light.

Black Dog was at Bazza's Boot Camp. I took no notice as I struggled with the kick sequences (a shot and two fags not the best start methinks). I was partnered with the Master. No rest with the Master.

Later a Mistress knelt on my shoulders and strangled me. It was my job to heave her off and whack her in the groin. She was light but I was crap so we laughed.

It was a good class.

Got home and got a call from Billie. She's bored and wants to get a job (you see, single mothers don't have to be punitively forced into it you know nothing politicians).

We got onto housing and I heard the Black Dog growl.

Billie means well, she does. I don't need to be told though, that others have a greater need than me; others who have five children squished into a 2 bed; others who have two or three kids also struggling with a possession notice.

Like me though, Billie has one child.
"They don't give us priority because we only have one child," she says. "We don't have more, we don't have a partner. It's so wrong. I'm thinking of starting smoking I'm so stressed about it."

"I can't advise you on that," I reply, while thinking 'blessed fags blessed fags'. "Tell you not to when I do it myself. But I honestly don't know what we did wrong having a baby. I don't know what we're doing wrong by not having any more. I don't know what we're doing wrong not adding weight to the state. "

The Black Dog started barking and just as she said "Sue I need your advice yeah, I want to get into housing and social care," the line broke (the monkey got choked and we both sank together in our little rowing boats clap clap can't I'm drowning clap clap).

My Black Dog is fucking heavy. Bazza's Boot Camp is tough. I am weak but the Master did say my kicks were strong today.

For medicinal reasons I shall continue to go to Bazza's Boot Camp, so that I may match the Dog's strength so that when the time comes I am strong enough to punch and kick my way to a secure home for my son.

So come now Doggie Doggie, calm down. I'm going to have a cigarette and then we are going to sit on the carpet and have a Zen moment together. OK?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Valentine cards in November

This morning I pop into my inbox and I've a message on my Big Issue fundraising page.

It says: "well done, I knew you could do it!"

It's from: Guess who (!!!)

Made me laugh as I've no chance of knowing who that could be.

It felt like receiving a valentine's message from someone who's not my mum.

Not that my mum sends me valentine cards anymore, or come to think of it, anyone, for decades... oh no!

Brightened up my morning so it did, brightened it up!

Sweeping the blues...a minor miracle

Just as I was about to post a funny little coincidence, a phone call came from the school. "Your son's got stomach ache, can you come and collect him?"

Thank goodness I don't work, I'd be fired, I thought as I dashed down them seven flights and flew across the roads.

Doubled up in pain, my son was sitting in the office. Not the first time he's had the pain in his side. A couple of Monday's ago he had it and I cynically thought it was a 'back to school' thing, then got paranoid it might actually be his appendix and rang NHS Direct only for the pain to mysteriously vanish the second I started talking to someone.

He had it again at the weekend, he said, and his dad had given him some calpol. Now in tears he was saying his dad had also said it might be his appendix and that doctors would cut him open with a knife. Oh well done you foca....

Third time now though? The boy crying, walking bent double? I shoved him on Zat and cycled down to the surgery.

On the way he said: "Mummy, I'm going to pray to Jesus to make the pain go away," As we approach the surgery, whadda ya know, the pain goes. Still, it was worth bringing him in.

We took it in turns reading to one another while we waited.

We presented to a young doctor. I told him I'd bought my son in a few times because he's not a regular pooer but had been ignored by those I'd taken him to see.

"So you have a problem with your bowels," the doctor said to my son.
"No, I know all my vowels," answered my son. I got the giggles and couldn't stop.

He prescribed him some laxatives, to 'break the bad habit' commonly seen in young children. I have always felt my potty training wasn't wholly effective when it comes to number two's, so I grabbed the prescription and am hoping for the best.

Anyway, here I am with my very well thank goodness son, midweek, when I have woken up with the blues and posted a little song on blogspot.

"Do you want to go back to school?" I ask him. "You're well enough."
"No mummy, I want to stay with you."
"Well, I have to go into Camden, to get some money, we'll have a bite to eat and then we'll see ok?"

I take him to Toasties, but the guy who sponsored me isn't there to deliver the cash. I get two toasted sandwiches and we settle on the sofa. I laugh with my son! I play with my playmate! We roll like thunder on the sofa! I guess that what they call sweeping the blues!!

We eat and then while he reads a Batman comic, I listen to the lyrics of the music playing on the stereo. I call the school; home time is in two hours, I'll keep him with me.

"I need the toilet mummy," says the little one. The toilets in Toasties are great; you can sit in there for hours reading all the grafity. Home schooling, I think, what a wonderful day it's turning out to be!

My son's favourite was:

Please pu pu and wi wi and puke in the toilet and not on the floor. Thank you. The Management.

Mine was: Butterflies go whereever they please and please whereever they go! (by Amy)

We came home and read some of his school book (Icecream Machine Totally Fizzbombed by Julie Bertagna) then he colours in a picture of Kookaburra bird he'd started for me and hadn't finished yet.

At 4 pm (good timing hun, good timing), he asked if he could play his psp "so I can beat the croc!" (?!?) and I fell asleep beside him, woken with a jolt that I should feed him before his Beaver's class.

I forgot to make the brocolli but he was happy enough with fishcakes and lumpy mash.

My son'll go back to school tomorrow. I've got Boot Camp to stamp out any blues residue. I dunno, today was really quite magic! My boy made my day he did, made my day!

Post Big Walk Blues

Argh, you know when you spend two weeks away from your life, somewhere sunny soaking up the sea, or up a mountain breathing in the view, you have to come home and get on with the life you left behind?

Colleagues ask you if you had a good time and you say "yeah baby!" or something similar but by day two, well you don't want to bang on about it and bore them half to death so you shut up about it but carry on wishing you were still on said beach or said hillside and your heart feels all achy achy.

Back in my worky worky days, when I'd take time off to go to wondrous places, I would come home and feel like this.

So imagine my surprise to feel exactly this when I haven't gone anywhere. Training and fundraising for a Big Walk a holiday? Seems so. Post Big Walk "holiday" achy achy feelings? Seems so.

Elton John's been singing in my ear. Yeah I know, he doesn't sing about post holiday blues but Stigmum, she'll make anything out of anything, and she knows I'm unhappy we're back to infinitely dull housing battles.

Just wish it away
Don't look at it like it's forever
Between you and me I could honestly say
That things can only get better

Now I'm back from away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long before you and me run
To the place in our hearts where we hide

And I guess that's why they call it the blues
Time on my hands, could be time spent with you
Laughing with my son, living with this playmate
Rolling like thunder, the present can be great
So hurry up and sweep off the blues!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


I have just rattled off three overdue emails; 1 ceo, 1 company, 3 party leaders (in the same mail)

Every CEO who has responded to me, I have hit 'reply' and asked one more time.

Seven ceo's responded to me, two personally and of these only one donated.


Total response: 7%
Personal responses: 2%
Number of donators: 1%

Better than 0%, must say.

Even though they didn't respond, I also sent another email to the Party Leaders, telling them they had until January to donate but to do it straight away incase they forget. (I did recognise that they are busy by saying we all are) I grabbed the chance to ask what their policies would be around housing and homelessness should they win the election.

I did bcc the local rag. I ummed and ahhhed over this for a little bit then thought 'sod it'. I emailed them the first time, may as well let them know I'm going to stop after this one.

I have £300 more pounds to find in order to hit my target. I would love to hit my target. The highest fundraiser gets a prize but I'm not in it to win it, I just want to hit my target.

I should email all 100 of the CEO's again really, not just the ones who reply to me, but somewhere I do hope, that by having the grace to respond, they might, might, hand over a tenner....

One lives in hope ey Doris?


I cling to things, particularly positive timely things:

"'What you don't know can't harm you.'" That is a good phrase (good)... but it requires a caveat (oh?). If there is something that someone else knows, but that you don't know, it can be compromising not to know it, (just a little) especially if that information is being deliberately withheld (don't know that). But if there is something you don't know, and nobody else knows either, why assume that it is going to be anymore harmful than something that you do know?(because somebody does know but I don't know how) You are nervous now, of what you don't know (could say). Go bravely beyond that reservation (OK). It could be good (let's hope so ey?)." (Jonathon Cainer)

Did Belle de Jour feel like this, once upon a time? I have laundry to do... I have a flat to put in order... I have better posts to write...! Then again, it's probably just another storm in my thimble and I should just get on with my day.


Yesterday morning I got a text from one of the Big Issue guys saying he liked my blog!

It's always nice isn't it when someone says they like something you do, it makes you feel valued in some way.

Thing is though, and this is quite a big thing; how did he know I was writing one?!

Indeed, this was exactly what I texted back, immediately infact: "How did you know I was writing one?!"

A veritable mystery!

He'd said someone had sent him the link on his blackberry. But who?

Do you, my followers, know him?

On the walk itself I told no-one what I was doing, except man who came with his wife and another couple, but I didn't give him the link nor did he have anything to do with the Foundation, so I have to rule him out.

Google! Somebody found me on google and passed it to him! I put I don't know how many keywords into Google about the night walk but I didn't come up.

It's a mystery, it's a mystery
I'm still searching for a clue
It's a mystery to me
Shot in the dark
The big question mark in history
Is it a mystery to you?
It can treat you with a vengeance
Trip you in the dark
Sirens in the distance
Can steer you from the path
It can lift you to the heavens
Put your troubles in the past
Whisper the elixir
Vanish in a blast
It's a mystery, it's a mystery (Thanks Toyah )

Tis no mystery how the guy got my number, for in my post walk bubble, I thanked all those who bought a raffle ticket off me that morning (by text obviously!)

A friend of mine very recently interviewed Belle de Jour for the New Scientist. He asked her how she was able to conceal her identity for so long. She replied:

"It wasn't internet sleuthing that led to my outing: it was because I'd told someone I couldn't trust." (

So that's it then, a mate dobbed me in... isn't it?

Who else knows who knows me but didn't know I am doing this?

I have laundry to do. I have laundry to do! I do have laundry to do.....

Monday, 23 November 2009


Yesterday I went to help Annie; she'd posted on Facebook that the Age of Stupid guys were getting ready for the climate convention in Copenhagen, was anyone free to lend a hand in preparation.

Well, yeah! I'd made no plans post walk and she mentioned music and beer!

When I got to their offices in Camden I smiled to myself at the karmic situation. What goes around, comes around! They had given me a free ticket to the Big Chill! It was not for this reason I was helping because I am one to forget my debts.

A super nice bunch they are. I met Franny Armstrong! Fortunately I resisted saying "nice to meet you!" I would have sounded very cheesy!

Twas not so easy what I had to do although it was easy what I had to do. First off post comments of those inspired by the film (I really, really, really want, need, must watch it!) Second off, help a few guys on the 'country pages'. Having not been part of the launch, global or national, this was hard so I only had to source press clippings. I was doing ok but just as I had to leave, really struggled to find anything in Germany! Damn damn for there were some as one of the guys emailed me some scans. Obviously lost some gifts from my own working days but it was good to help out....

Annie was working downstairs and me up so I didn't really get to see her but we decided she should come round to dinner one night as Christmas is coming and I'm away next weekend, she's away the one after.... We'll see if we can grab Issy and make a night of it, with beer and music!

I thought of the sponsorship Karma for the Big Walk too.

I posted the link on Facebook and emailed different groups with the link. A while ago, an anthropology friend hurled herself out of an aeroplane for charidee. Did I sponsor her? Did I????
She works with homeless people but of all people she was allowed not to sponsor me!!

What goes around does come around my friends!

Will I do it again next year?

Back from the school run and a man working on the lifts asks me how the walk went.

"Will you do it again next year?" He asks after I say it was great.

"If I'm walking with a group, definitely," I reply.

So yep, so as not to undo the magic I've felt this year, next year walking will depend on two things.

1. My son is at his dad's again. That means the walk is meant to be!
2. I do it with a group of people. Doing it alone was fantastic; those many many people I chatted to from every walk in life (glorious pun!). In a group, maybe we will draw others who are doing it alone to give them a fantastic experience too!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Big Night Walk Highlights!

Getting lost trying to find the entrance to the BFI Imax. Doh!

Getting there! Being there!

Getting a red wind cheater and a map of directions.

A girl called Claire telling me she felt as nervous as I did.

Short speeches by the event organisers, including a vendor saying the Big Issue had saved his/her life. John Bird, Founder,was not there. "What?" said a vendor later. "Didn't show up for his own gig? Nah he didn't did he?!"

Setting off en masse to the sounds of blazing horns!

Chatting to some larger than life vendors who sell the Big Issue magazine day in, day out regardless of the weather but take a rest on Sundays.

A vendor called Angel discovering we had to pay to do the walk so I explained that every £50 above fundraising target allowed a vendor like him to come too!

Millenium Bridge! I've never walked on Millenium Bridge! I haven't!! A man joins me and Angel and says he has two kids, A&B: "We're going through the alphabet." "Really?" I respond. He laughs and says: "No, two's enough!"

As I flag with utter tiredness, so soon, so soon....I remember all the people who sponsored me and tell myself that I can do this, I really can, I really must....

Start chatting to a co-ordinator called Kid. These vendors are allowed a set amount of magazines to sell which they pay less for.

Reaching the Hispaniola, a boat on the Embankment, our first stop. There's a bar on board and Kid offers to buy me a drink, saying he doesn't usually drink himself but tonight's special. I thank him but say I'll never finish the walk if I accept.

Receiving a beautiful text from Phil. How did she know I was so tired and needed reminding of my own determination?

Receiving a text from my mamma who must have woken up from pelvic bone agony. It was past midnight.

Getting a sparkler and writing I LOVE YOU! with my son in mind, over and over again in the sky!

Setting off of my own and thinking 'ah! I won't get lost' as I see a sea of 'Red Coats' in the distance.

Chatting to Billie about homelessness. I recognised her from Filthy Rich and Famous on the telly!!!

Talking to an outreach volunteer and going too far down the wrong street with other red coats and having to turn back

Seeing a young boy, about 9 or 10 walking with his mum, dad and others

Telling a man I'd bagged some sponsors at the Champagne Bar as we pass Kings Cross St Pancras. He was walking with his wife and another couple and had only signed up a few days before so were going to fundraise afterwards.

Discovering the guy with all the helium balloons strapped to his bag was a vendor from Poland along with his fellow vending brother.

Thinking 'what? Only 6 miles?!' as we reach some marshalls on Eversholt Street and wishing I hadn't forgotten my blimmin' pedometer at home!

Being given a sparkler to celebrate marching a 1/3 of the route.

Seeing drunk revellers outside Koko and thinking "I'm home! I know my way!"

Finally, finally reaching the Roundhouse and the sweet waft of mulled wine making me feel sleepier so drank water instead.

Bumping into Elvis!

Billie telling me to take off my trainers to let my feet breathe. I would now do this at EVERY stop and massage my feet as well!

Kid saying he was leaving, the beer had done him no good. I wish him well.

A bunch of girls slumped against a wall wondering how they would get up again which got me thinking.

Setting off on my own again but bumping into A&B's dad who I'd met on the Millenium Bridge ages ago.

Wanting to take a short cut through to Parkway which I would have done but for A&B's dad.

Camden Town being so busy busy busy still!! Mind you, it was only 2am...

A&B's dad telling me programmes about 'life narratives' helping the mentally unwell understand themselves better and thinking I've done astonishing things in my past and should focus on that.

Walking goes by so much quicker when one is talking!

Reaching the House of Barnabus which is actually a converted church or something. beautiful with little cloisters where take a rest. I'll revisit it at some point.

Being given a glass of champagne! In a glass flute! Give me more!!

Stuffing a pack of mini cheddars and a chocolate brownie in my pocket on the way out.

Being told we should cross at We Will Rock You to set us on our route. "We will, WE WILL rock you," I say flatly, out loud. The girl laughs.

Reading small, tight instructions, in the dark. The organisers did put arrows here and there and up until this point I hadn't taken much notice of them. Hmmm,

The boy I was with saying the girls in front of us were too chirpy and me saying we should catch up with them.

The chirpy girls are actually Old Boots, friends on the top ten team fundraiser list!

Knowing you're going mad when walking down Kingsway you laugh when you realise you've walked too far and have to walk back up it again.

Gosh it's so warm for a November night! So lucky!

Reaching a support van at Lincoln Inn Fields and drinking cup after cup of freezing water before being given a sparkler to celebrate walking 2/3's!

Happy I was no longer on my own for the long trudge to Vauxhall.

Seeing the invisible asleep in their doorways. Not for the first time though. Earlier one had got out of his sleeping bag and joined his pals on this walk.

In the quiet of the night, seeing the plaque dedicated to the Women of World War I in the middle of Whitehall.

One of the chirpy girls telling me she was meeting friends at 8am and going to Twickenham to watch the rugby from a corporate box then taking a train to Nottingham to go out on the lash with old uni mates. Old Boots indeed!

Copying one of the chirpy girls and having a wee behind a tree infront of the Houses of Parliament. Peace not protest...! (Although.....)

Hearing the Sex Pistols coming from a guy's bag and discovering this group were canteen workers from Reading.

All of us saying we'd walked way more than 14 miles and DJ man checking his pedometer. Bugger.

Literally falling into a guy at the Big Issue offices. He wasn't a walker, he was the driver of an automatic car ferrying staff (who still looked wide awake and alert despite working all day and now working all night)

Tea! Tea!- A spoon full of sugar helps the cuppa tea go down, the cuppa tea go down, the cuppa tea go down! A spoon full of sugar helps the cuppa tea go down, all in a delightful way! (Mary Poppins)

Must get up, must... must leave the Reading crew or I will sleep forever in these Big Issue Headquarters (apparantly someone chose to do just that...!)

Off I go, alone, but see Red Coats. These are the Wondergirls, number 2 of the top team fundraisers!!

Yakking, yakkety yak with the business md and the corporate lawyer none of us understanding why politicians and the media insist on ignoring this level of our society.

The Thames, the London Eye eh what? Carrying on up the Southbank?!

One more flight of stairs!

All down hill to the Imax!



A queue!

Receiving a medal, placed over my head like I've won the olympics or something!

Big Issue boy massages my shoulders with strong firm hands. Tis lovely for fuck my backpack killed my shoulders!!

Vendor falling asleep on the massage bed arms hanging over the sides. Exactly how I feel too!

Tell the guy next to me that he should have a warm bath when he gets home and he tells me he'll remember to switch on the heating. Many of these vendors 'choose' to sleep on the street to avoid the cost of a hostel. Angel sends his money back to his eight year old daughter who recently moved to Belgrade with her mother. Kid has high vetinary costs for his dog who has bladder cancer. They buy the magazines to sell to us and what they don't sell is their business 'loss'.

Eventually my turn on the massage table. "My left leg please," I beg the masseur. "Ah, ah, ow, no it's alright carry on ah oh ah ah aaah aaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

Free butties from the Giggly Pig Co! The Imax showed a Batman all nighter and a group of five guys tried to get a burger and were turned away by the girl: "These are for the Big Issue Walkers." Yay!

Sitting with the event organisers, who offer to buy me a beer. Oh I think so yes! And they bought raffle tickets for my son's winter fair!

Getting home at about 8 am, the lift carrying me up. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

What a fantastic night!

Downtown! Things they were great when I was downtown! Tough on my bod but fab, downtown, all these things waited for me!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Stepping out for The Night Walk - the song!!

When I'm alone and life is making me lonely
I can always go - downtown
When I've got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help I know - downtown
Just listen to music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can I lose?

The lights are much brighter there
I can forget all my troubles, forget all my cares
So go downtown, thing's will be great when I'm
Downtown - no finer place for sure
Downtown - everything's waiting for me!

Don't hang around and let my problems surround me
There's a Big Night Walk - downtown
Maybe I'll know some little places to go
When I have done this stalk - downtown

I'll listen to the rhythm of a gentle supernova
I'll be dancing with these guys before the night is over
Happy again

The lights are much brighter there
I can forget all my troubles, forget all my cares
And head downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown - meeting new folk tonight
Downtown - I'm gonna be all right now

(instrumental break)

And I may find somebody kind to help and understand me
Someone who is just like me and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along

So maybe you'll see me there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
And go downtown, things will be great when I'm
Downtown - don't wait a minute for
Downtown - everything's waiting for me!

(Petula Clark, Stigmum changed some lyrics of your top song because that's what Stigmum does; it's a habit of hers. Thank you for geeing me up for what is bound to be a mad and mental evening if I allow it to be, which I will, breathe, breathe....!)


There have been plenty of little coincidences to this walk which I should try and post sometime, but after meeting Milly (she offered me a lift home! From round the corner! I took it, of course..!), anyway, after meeting her, hugging her, accepting her generous donation I came home and had a much needed nap (cor blimey yes, and the lift's being fixed so I had to walk the seven flights... lift fixer though said his sister did the Moon Walk and cried the last 10 miles she was in so much pain and so tired. This is only 18, not 26 miles, so told him to thank his sister for I shall remember this tonight)

So I'm napping and what do I remember all of a sudden? What do I remember???!

When I was pregnant, my bubba in my belly, I went to a Proclaimers gig!! I went backstage and met them!! Oh, sometimes you just don't know why a song pops into your head and then when you least expect it, all becomes clear!!

Tis a different song though that prepares me for the journey ahead, the end of this journey really so what popped into my head then, is really quite fitting!

It's this evening, and I'm wired....

Tonight I start walking and I'm wired. I could sit here and write and write about all I haven't written about these past two weeks of intensive training and fundraising but I know that if I do this, I will not make the walk tonight.

A school association Winter Fair meeting at the coffee shop. Coffee man gave me a free double expresso saying good luck for tonight.

I'd arranged to meet Milly in Camden (Zat taking me, do you seriously think I can walk there and back in the state I'm in, today of all days???!) but she's just called to say she has to pick up her car from the mechanics and will meet me for a cuppa tea and a hug on the Heath in about an hour.

Then this afternoon I will have a nap. Many of the 200 plus walkers tonight are in offices working right now, they do not have this luxury. I work from home; the tidying and cleaning and all the rest can wait until Monday.

One last thank you into the ether for all those who have sponsored me and pledged donations. Street vendors do a terrific, difficult job selling the Big Issue magazine in all kinds of weather (pretty shit as I write as it happens). You wonderful people have enabled more money to go towards supporting them. I really can't thank you enough.

I so love my son xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ages ago my son made a little money box out of card and I told him that any pennies he finds lying around the flat, he can put them in his box and when it's full, he can take it all out and spend it on what he likes. The box is quite full now, after all, we have been living here for years.

This morning he found two pennies on the kitchen floor.

"Mummy, look! Two pence! Can I have it?"

"Of course you can. It's lying there, you've found it, picked it up, it's yours."

On his orders I was making porridge at the time. I don't enjoy making porridge, it really sticks to the pan, but this week he's literally begged me to make it every day.

He came back into the living room, with his cardboard money box and said:

"Mummy, you take this and give it to the homeless people."

"Oh sweetie, that's so kind, but you keep it, it's yours."

"I know, that's why I want to give it to the homeless people because they have to sleep out in the rain. I really want to mummy, please take it."

Words cannot express what I feel. He has already given me a pound for this walk from his tooth fairy money which he's saving towards a nintendo ds. I have an overwhelming urge to cry because I love him so much.

Tonight when I start my walk, he'll be fast asleep in Brighton. I told him that when I finish my walk he'll be waking up.

"When I get home tomorrow I'll send your daddy a text saying I've made it, ok? So you know. Let me give you a big hug, I love you so so much."

I would walk 500 miles
Oh I could walk 500 more
Just to express my love for you my son
For it's you my sweet I do adore

La la la la, la la la la, I love you oh so much
La la la la, la la la la, my heart my soul you touch

(Thanks to my son for being born to me and thanks to The Proclaimers for this outlet to my emotions.)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I am a top fundraiser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oooooooooooooooooooooooh! Just went to pledge the money and saw my name on the top ten fundraiser list!!!!

Unbelievable!!! First time fundraising and I'm one of the top ten!! Wow!

It's not what I expected, no way and because it may not be there tomorrow (cos email from the Big Issue said to keep fundraising after the event and quite frankly ladies and gents, girls and boys, I'm too knackered now) I thought I'd mention it now, so I may never forget, that once upon a time, I was, I am! I really was, a top fundraiser the day before the Big Event!

Oh I wish my camera worked so I could take a photo of it!

The top top fundraiser is a woman who has raised £2,500 with the help of... one sponsor! Ah, the kind I want to be! Sponsor myself so I don't have to ask anybody!
Me, I'm slap bang in the middle with 49 sponsors!

I've just had a look, and I've got the most sponsors!! Oh lovely people getting me there!

I thought I'd share this with myself before going to bed. I must go to bed!

I cannot believe that at this time tomorrow I shall start walking while at this time right now, all I can think of is my pillow! How am I going to do it? How?????? Oh I'll cross that Waterloo Bridge when I get to it!

Even a warrior needs a rest sometimes

Walking is not hard if you've got the use of your legs, but walking through the night? Stamina is what you need. I haven't this in the bucket full or the thimble full but decided none the less, day before the big walk, to go to Bazza's Boot Camp. So what if I felt tired and pukey? I need STAMINA.

Slowly I walked there, stopping by the Heath cafe for an expresso shot and a fag. Just to get me started, ya know...

The jog was easier than last week, in that my lungs didn't bubble and each breath didn't whistle and even managed to chat abit to Mistress Ha Ha who told me that when I got home to soak for 20 minutes in a salt bath.

I was last back to base (have I ever been first??) and Master Bazza was at the door.

"I'm going to have to go home," I said, chin wobbling, trying not to cry. "I haven't the strength to do all this, I want to cry." I hoped of course that by admitting this, that I wouldn't cry (Stigmum's self defence manoeuvre which has been known to work now and again).

Ah! Master Bazza is a Zen Master, not a Task Master. He said to take time out while the other Mistresses thrashed their legs against the pads. As I pathetically sipped on some water I noted that we were an odd number, that every Mistress had a partner, it would be fine to go home.

Master Bazza came up to me and told me to stroll, to cool down naturally, not suddenly stop. A Mistress came in late and started jogging up and down the hall. Could I do this? Could I stay?

Bazza asked me if I'd hold a pad while this Mistress kicked it with all her might. Now I usually have fair grounding but I nearly toppled over.

"I really am going to have to go home," I chin wobbled to the Master once more.

"Just sit out the rest of the class," he said. "Just watch."

I moved to the bench as the Mistresses began what I can only describe as painful leg stretch exercises. I watched them, feeling, well, nothing really. I had now lost even the capacity to feel I've overdone the training so hard.

I wanted to close my eyes, I wanted to sleep, so I moved onto the floor, sat in a lotus position, hands cupped upwards on my knees and started to breath. In and out, in and out. I heard Bazza beginning my favourite loosening up and stretching exercices and peeked out of one eye and saw the Mistresses were facing me, not the wall like usual and ... oh I didn't care.

It's hard to meditate and focus on your breathing when you're depressed, which is why there are classes that teach you how to do it. You have to let the thoughts pass instead of focussing on them, and bring yourself back to the breath and breathe, in, out, breathe, in, out...

I began to breathe and all kinds of thought came to interrupt it....I can't do this...back to the breath; in through the nose, out through the mouth breathe... Tears trickled down my cheek.. let them fall....back to the breath; in through the nose, out through the mouth, breathe... you can do this... back to the breath; in through the nose, out through the mouth, are a warrior... breathe, breathe, breathe...even a warrior needs a rest sometimes... back to the breath. On I breathed, letting thoughts pass until my eyes opened.

The Master was there, picking something up. He told me to visualise the walk, see myself there, enjoying myself. I did this but was all thought out. I got up and went to the loos to wash my face. When I got back, the Mistresses were getting ready to punch. I decided to join in, holding the pads up for Mistress Psychic, then the group did 10 press ups, then holding them up for Psychic again. Three times we did this, then my turn to punch, group press ups, punch, group press ups, punch.

I only wobbled a little bit when leaning on my left, then right arm but not as much as last week!

Punch punch punch, punch and kicks on the big hangy things.

The class then did techniques. I went into the beginners group even though I passed this stage a couple of years ago; have the certificate to prove it, yes I do! Pah, my memory's useless, but alot of fun with the Mistress I was paired with.

"Oh I remember this one, it's the argy bargy!" Following the argy bargy is the Pukey Pukey. If ever I am strangled I must remember to turn my head and shove my fingers in the soft bit at the base of the assailants neck. I strangled the Mistress, she defended herself, I felt pukey pukey.

I felt right royal marvelous when it was all over. Calm, you know? I had a fag and walked down to 'every little bit helps although the ceo didn't help me' and bought my son's packed lunch for tomorrow. Bought something for myself; turkey slices, green salad, wholemeal bread, orange juice... I'm learning! Day before the big walk! Never too late!!

I have to go and pledge the £23 local shop keeper and mum in playground gave me this morning so I bid you goodnight. I hope it's not a restless one like yesterday. Half 2 I woke up, bloomin' bloomin, took ages to get back to sleep.

My work is done; the training, the fundraising, I can do no more! This time tomorrow, this little warrior will be joining 200 others. We can do it can't we stigmum? We can, can't we???

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Quickly to Euston and back for a sleep

My, massive downer last night, saved by three friends and my mum getting in touch with me.

Phil told me not having any lunch, or any regular snacks, particularly on a 15 mile walk, was bound to make me feel down and I should eat; mood food: chocolate brazil nuts, cheese, turkey, wholemeal rice and pasta, tuna, fruit, plenty of greens, and herbal tea. Oh twas good to talk to her and understand the sudden onset of 'downer' was because my body reacted to the fish pie, as if to say "you haven't given me a damn thing to eat all day and you're going to pay right now with hot sweats and hating everybody and everything and feeling sick."

My mum then rang asking me if I was taking chocolate with me on my walks and I told her I'd forgotten, which I had and forgot again today.

Thrash'er (ha ha only at sport) sent a text wanting my fundraising link then rang and chatted for ages, despite my telling him I was knackered and must go to bed.

Then Fletch texted and suggested meeting in Euston in the morning and I replied that it wasn't on my route to Liverpool Street. Perhaps another time.

Woke up starving and felt very pukey. Forced a bowl of porridge down me then went outside for a fag. Thought "I cannot go to Liverpool Street. I cannot. It's too far, it's too... I need to stay close."

So I thought I'd text Fletch after all, meet him for coffee. Then I thought Kings Cross St Pancras! The Champagne Bar! I should go there and see if anyone there will sponsor me!

I was a corpse at Euston Station asking strangers to sponsor me.

Now I'm done in. I've told myself to seriously rest tomorrow and Friday or I'll never make the walk. I can tell you about today another time.

My "quickly to Euston and back for a sleep" plan came to this on the pedometer:

Miles: 12.39
Calories: 519
Time: 2.3340 (I left home at 9.45am and got home at 4.45pm)
Steps: 18699

So yes, quickly to Euston and NOW to sleep.........

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Oh to be be rich!

Oh to be rich! Then I could do sponsored whatevers and not ask anyone to sponsor me, I could just sponsor myself to whatever designated target!

Oh to be rich! I would have rich friends then, with untold wealth, who would be more than happy to chuck a few bob (for what would be a few bob to my wealthy friends...) towards whatever charitable organisation I was doing whatever for, for whatever target!

Oh I am not rich so I must ask those who are not rich to help me reach whatever target. This they are doing and I am very lucky, for there are many, many, many worthy causes out there and they're supporting the one I've chosen (to walk for, in this case). Thank you generous people for asking you is no easy task!

Hampstead Heath, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Highgate Wood

Miles: 15.28
Calories: 640
Time: 3.09
Steps: 23051

I'm liking my pedometer today!

Choosing to walk to the parks today was the best idea. Oh so much swirled through the motherboard but when I actually looked out instead of inward, beauty surrounded me. Hampstead Heath, you know, I love. At this time of year with the changing leaves it's so glorious it really helped my state of mind.

I've never actually been to Hampstead Garden Suburb or Highgate Wood. The latter is just just just oh there's no word for how just! I sat on a bench and watched the sun stream through and imagined fairies and pixies and all wonderful forest creatures real and mythical.

Quite odd then that Queen songs were playing in my head. Not so odd I guess as it was Queen Week on X Factor on Saturday. Odd the words Stiggers was rearranging:

I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from my life
I'm so dissatisfied I don't like it
God knows, God knows I want to break free


Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
Small escape from reality
Open my eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I'm just a poor girl
I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come easy go
Sometimes high, sometimes low
Anyway the wind blows
Sad it really matters to me, to me

Mama, I just killed myself
Put a gun against my head
Pulled the trigger now I'm dead
Mama, life aint much fun
So now I've gone and thrown it all away
Mama (ooooh ooooh ooooh ooooooh)
Didn't mean to make you cry
I know I won't be back again tomorrow
But carry on, carry on

That's as far as it went. I asked the Motherboard what was the problem, I was in a stunning place. My mind then swooped into my past, asked me why I didn't like asking ordinary people for money, found the answer, told me to get over myself. Then told me to execute last Friday's plan to walk to the city and ask strangers in suits, then suggested I spend Friday morning lolling around Camden asking people in pubs. Fifteen miles went surprisingly quickly.

Got back to my 'hood and supermario sponsored me, and the sales assistant at the local party shop!
Then just now I've re-emailed the banking ceo's, cc'ing the ceo who did make a donation. Cheeky I know but I wanted the three big un's to see the generosity of one of their peers.

Well! I've targets to hit! If I went off and upped it to £1000, I better bloomin' try and deliver it and to do that, I have to ask ordinary people. Ordinary people are more likely to give, for I am an ordinary person. I might not like it BUT IT'S NOT FOR ME.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The pedometer speaks

Miles: 12.06
Calories: 505
Time: 2.3439
Steps: 18195

Time: Two hours and thirty four minutes to walk 12 miles. Erm, I don't think so somehow...!

I've lost that loving feeling....

This is how I felt when I woke up, I hope I don't feel like this when I go to bed.

Last night chatting to a new friend on Facebook (a friend of a friend! I'm daft not desperate!) I was asked what time I'd start my walk today, he'd send good psychic karma. I said I wasn't sure, in the morning, then signing off asked myself where I should go? Ten miles I wanted give a go.

With thoughts of emailing the Party Leaders, I thought I'd head to Parliament. Once there I could see how I feel and resolve whether to do it or not.

I woke up, it was raining, I didn't want to walk anywhere. I wondered why I'd even signed up to this. I lost all excitement basically. Perhaps this is how other people training feel. I dunno, I've never trained with anyone. I've never trained for anything like this.

I got walking though! Stopped by the coffee shop for a shot. Walked down to the outdoor shop where I got my pedometer and bought another pair of super socks incase it rains Friday. The man sponsored me as he'd said he would!

Down Gower Street I saw a girl wearing red trousers. "I want some of those!" I thought. I asked her where she got them. Zara. Whether they were expensive. "£30 or £40". I walked on down to Whitehall wondering whether I should get some, RED trousers for my walk! Dispel negative energy on my walk! Followed by thoughts that I didn't have the backside for skinny red jeans, skinny red jeans would show every dimple. I am 200 not 20 I reminded myself.

Big Ben! The green opposite the perfect place to stop and have a think. No protesters there today. I walked round to St Margaret's Church, then crossed the road and there on a plinth was Nelson Mandela! Why sit on the grass when I could sit in the shadow of this great man! Ok, it was cloudy, there were no shadows, but you know what I mean!

I thought the Cabinet War Rooms aren't far, my friend Phil works there, I should go and see him! If he's not there, no matter, I was desperate for a pee! 7.43 miles, I'd excelled my original plan!

There's the Treasury! I interrupted four suits having a conversation outside it, asked them if they'd sponsor me, remarking it was quite funny to be standing outside this building asking them. They didn't work at the Treasury they said. Two had no money, but the guy from the Guardian emptied his wallet and the boy from the beeb emptied his pockets. I was buzzing!

Fletch calls just as I'm about to go into the Cabinet War Rooms - Churchill!! Do I fancy going to the cinema at some point? Yes, I said, at the weekend I was free. He suggested a matinee next week and I said I'd let him know. In I went, down to reception. Phil wasn't in so I left him a voicemail and went to the loo.

I decided to walk back up Regent's Street. My son needed some new trousers. One pair of school ones are wrecked and the other has a hole in the knee I've not patched up yet. On top of all that, the boy has grown. Unbelievable isn't it?! A seven year old growing! I only noticed when I saw his other trousers just skimmed his ankles. It's amazing how it happens really; one minute they're drinking from your tits, the next that's how tall they are.

Red trousers! I should check, really..... I pop into Zara. They have none. That's decided then! Hennes didn't have any either but I did get the lad some trews (which he loves, thank goodness!)

I stopped in a caf because I was really really hungry. They didn't sponsor me so I don't mind saying their eggs on toast weren't nice, yolk too hard. I hit a downer after that and that's also when the email to leaders popped into my head. Not whether I should write it, but what to write. I looked on my pedometer and saw the mileage hadn't changed between Oxford Street and Primrose hill so shook it!

Home, go to write my email, see email from council so although my own started lightly 'while you are sleeping in a comfy bed..." "the homeless situation is getting worse. That's where I step (forgive the pun)" and I'm giggling to myself. Then I sink right into the wretched problem of the borough.

I cheered myself up afterwards with the thought that I only bcc'd one journalist, one who writes on housing (amongst other things). Perhaps he's on holiday!

Then Billie sent a text asking to call her. I'd give the conversation a separate post, but it's just too frightening so I may aswell drag on this one.

"Don't fight with them," she told me. "The law is in their hands. They don't care. Don't say you won't move where they tell you or they'll leave you on the street. They'll leave you with nothing, they'll stop everything. I know, they did it to one of my friends."

Oh, a horrible conversation where everything I said in my defence she said it didn't matter. She told me to play games: "The way they play games with you, play games with them, make something up." I can't, I fucking can't. Make what up?

She said she'd meet me next week. She said she'd help. How she will help I do not know. Being there will be nice though.

I can't undo what I've done today; I did it. I've got to let it go now. I've got to get School of Doris about it because it wasn't wrong. "Right Selfishness" is what coffee man said I was doing this morning. When you are doing something positive but you have to put yourself first, that is 'right selfishness'. My email didn't say house me, it said sponsor me. Both would be good. The former would be better. I've taken a massive risk on the former. I must have gone to kiss my sleeping son a dozen times tonight.

"Desperate times calls for desperate measures," said notsupermum.

I have to brace myself really; for the whole borough to see that I am desperate. Desperate is not how I would ideally like to be percieved funnily enough. I'd rather be a Rags to Riches story than a Riches to Rags one. Well actually, I'd rather not be a story at all. You can't do something like that though then hide under a rock.

The Righteous Brothers won't croon their chorus in my ear tonight.
No, Stigmum says it has to be Doris.

Nico Teen Nico Teen Nico Teeeeeeeeeeeen

I've just sent an email to Brown, Cameron and Clegg asking to sponsor me. Oh funny, funny for they won't help!

I also bcc'd the local paper.

Oh not so funny, not so funny, though they may make them help, which will be good for the borough.

A passionate, personal request for help, but flipping hell, I was hacked off when I wrote it, which was just after I'd come home from my walk.

1. I got an email from 'allocations' in response to my email saying I'd received an accelerated court order for possession, saying that they'll find me more temporary accommodation . I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF TEMPORARY. HEAR ME??????????????????
I sent an email back saying last Friday Mr Gray told me of a mother who's been given a two bed flat with her baby. She was living at home with her mother. I am happy for this mother of baby but why oh flipping why does she and her baby get a permanent place and me and my seven year old son, no longer baby or toddler, get told shite alternatives?

2. The pedometer LIES. There is no way, no way that if it's 7 miles to Whitehall, it's only 5 back. And no way that if I've done 10 miles by the time I'm back round to Oxford Street, I've still only done 10 by the time I've hauled my knackered body to Primrose Hill. Must be lying. Must...

Good job I'm not doing this to lose weight because my 8 miles the other day I lost 551 calories and today, 12, I've only lost 505!!! Scandal! The walk wasn't too bad but 12 miles, have to say, was quite enough, I was done in when I put my key in my door (both lifts out so walked up the seven flights so grateful that I no longer have to lug Zat up with me.)

Thought 'send the email now before you pick up the nipper' and saw the email from 'allocations' as I went into my inbox.

My email to the Leaders started light enough then I managed to depress myself writing about the borough. Oh well, sod it, no time to edit it really, although I did put in a song for them too, tweaked differently to that of the CEO's:

If I could walk 500 miles
Then I would walk 500 more
If it meant I could finally get my son
A good secure front door and floor

La la la la, la la la la, will you sponsor me?
La la la la, la la la la, it's for others you can see (getting some mileage out of this great Proclaimers song it seems - the pun's an accident!)

Just as I was going to send my email, my phone rang. I got quite excited wondering what friend it might be so I could go over my scribe before sending it, have a bit of back up. It was the Foca, saying he couldn't see our son tonight. Doesn't matter I told him, our son said this morning he didn't want to see him (which was true although I did try to tell my son that this special time with his dad, without the presence of his two half siblings, would be good)

Anyway, Foca's the dad, not my friend so I just asked him to sponsor me, not tell him that I'd asked Our Leader and Our Possible Leaders to do just that, just that minute. He'd think I am mad and well, I don't need to give him any encouragement to think so.

I pressed send on the email then had a fag. Breathe. Breathe. Got a reply from Harman straight away, automated, saying she's received it (yes, google didn't give me Brown's so I went to the Deputy and asked her to forward it)

Now must go and get the boy from school. Then we have to go to the shops. Forgot to pay for lecky didn't I on my travels, and my son reminded me this morning too... I'm telling you, my head is really somewhere else these days.....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunday Irony

Instead of putting my son through Sunday School so he can take his First Holy Communion next year, I am to take him through the steps to get him ready. It's not something I particularly want to do, it's just something I have to do (don't ask...).

A couple of weeks ago my mum took him through lesson one; celebration.

Today the lesson was "Forgiving".

The story was Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus is a tax collector. He really wants to see Jesus but because he is short and can't see over the crowds he goes and climbs a tree.

When Jesus gets to the tree he tells Zacchaeus to come down, he is coming to his house today. The crowds who had come with Jesus aren't too happy that this lying, cheating, loaded man is getting grace and favour from JC but Zac himself is so touched by Jesus' love, acceptance and mercy, he undergoes a change of heart and offers to give half of his possessions to the poor and promises to repay fourfold anyone he has cheated.

Jesus helps Zac to grow, to become a better person. "And Jesus said, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."" (Taken from The Table of the Lord - My First Eucharist Book)

How many banking CEO's, how many politicians will give to the street homeless (of course not suggesting for one minute that they're dishonest...) I wonder as I ask them for donations?

There is another irony of course that I am there trying to teach my son about forgiveness and repentence when I myself find those very difficult pills to swallow.

I am not my son's best Sunday School teacher. It helps I think if one believes in the School one is teaching. I don't anymore or rather, it sits uneasily with me, but I like the stories. On account of this, I guess I'll do.

Thank heavens for friends

I don't oft post about friends, the meetings I have with them, the phone calls that lift me up. Don't get me wrong, I'm not constantly on the blower, the A-Team isn't forever alerting me to lurrrrrrve. I quite bad at neglecting them myself. But really today, I must post something.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I was meeting some old girlfriends. Ah, yesterday! At the Tate Modern at midday. It's been so long since we've seen one another that children have grown up, siblings have been born, new babies have come into the world so that now we are all mothers!

No-one looked any older! Twas only yesterday we were grooving on down at the SU Bar, exploiting whiskey promotions and such like.

No-one had changed, everyone had changed, it was the loveliest afternoon scoffing and walking round and chatting and remembering how funny they all were. And generous to boot, for as I took my son to the loo they settled the bill and wouldn't hear of me contributing. How do you say thank you for that?

My son was a superstar; didn't play up being the only child. He'd packed his folder of Match Attacks, a diary and pens, some workbooks, his psp, but was in football heaven when Em gave him all of her son O's Match Attack swaps!! His eyes were like saucers there were so many. In two weekends time she's invited us to stay! Can't wait!

So yesterday I floated home, not even dismayed that the Mayors fireworks got cancelled at the last minute on account of the weather. (It had been really quite heinous, the rain, in the morning, and I muppet mother had forgotten to pack an extra pair of socks for her son so I wrung the pair he was wearing out and he had little choice but to go sockless till we got home... oh well, I never was in the running for Perfect Mother and he was cool so no point crying over soggy sock or whatever the expression is.)

Today we go and meet Ellie and her son at Regents Park. I've seen Ellie recently but it's been ages since our boys have seen each other. Mine was super excited, bouncing off the walls!

She gave me a tenner for my sponsored walk the lovely lovely lovely mamma and I told her of my idea of getting the PM and Competitors to sponsor me. She said 'go for it!' I told her I might cc the local paper.

"Bcc it, it's better no?" she says.
"No I'm going to cc it so the parties don't know."
"Exactly, bcc it! Keep it secret!"
"Doh! Thank God I've met you today!"

I am a person who thinks things through without thinking through things at all.

I am also a person who has very lovely friends.

Aw shucks!

Sunday morning ideas

It's an indication that I may have a lovely time with my son and my friends but the housing situation is never far away in my motherboard.

The idea? Well, a simple one really. I've asked the people in the council to sponsor me, I've asked the two local mp's. Why not ask the leaders of the three political parties my life is trapped within?

Yes! Mr Brown, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, will you sponsor me?!!!

It's quite a funny idea really.

But another has come hot on it's tail....

Send an email asking the Leaders to sponsor me and, and this one strikes fear straight through my heart..... cc the local rag.

The local rag is a strong supporter of those against the council flat sell off's.

But a rag is a rag, a human interest story is their bread and butter.

This is what strikes the fear ladies and gents...

I will be the fecking story.

I must think about this.

I've had a nice break this weekend from miles and miles walking and fundraising.

I'm mad enough, I can email the three daddies. Am I totally utterly certifiably mad though in ccing the rag?

Have you ever done what you so don't want to do but you can't help yourself because what you do may, just may, have positive repurcussions for your community?

I haven't.

I don't want to now.

Aaaaargh, decisions decisions, where are my trainers? I must walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and never stop!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Whoopsie daisy.....

I took my son to the art exhibition. I got emails from John Bird's secretary and the PR's saying there might be sexual content and therefore I might not think it's appropriate for my son.

I told them I'd take my chances and I told my son there might be pictures of nudes.

"We learnt in art that nude pictures are the hardest to draw," he said, surprising me, as I don't actually know what they study in Art.

Anyway, I cycle us down to Clerkenwell and go into the private viewing.

At this point I take in what the exhibition is about. It's the Panic Exhibition, in reference to the god 'Pan', the Greek god of "terror and laughter".

I didn't really get to gaze at the art as I was taking care to avert my son's eyes from what might disturb him. Sexual content? Nah!

He was drawn, hypnotised even by the life sized sculpture of a man impaled on a tree. Only my son didn't know the man was impaled, he thought it was a man with amazing strength balancing on his back, on a stick. "Look at his muscles mummy!" "Look you can see all the veins in his feet!" I tried to pull him away, but he wouldn't budge until the realisation dawned on him and then it was "there's a hole in his tummy mummy, how come he isn't dead?" "Mummy, why is his skin hooked to a chain?"

Twenty minutes later, walking past heads coming out of walls, torsos with pigs heads, bleeding brides hanging from a washing line he quietly says: "Mummy, can we leave, I'm feeling freaked out."

Oh my little bubba. He takes everything in, he's such a supersonic superstar but yes, perhaps tonight's exhibition was a little 'inappropriate' for a seven year old but not for its sexual content....

Me, I loved what I saw but I like being shocked. But now I need a bath... the cycling was surprisingly easy but my legs are seizing, I've over done it, I have trouble even sitting down. Sinja called saying warm bath then stretch them gently. A good plan methinks.


For this walk, the Big Issue set a target of £250.

When I asked Coffee Shop man to sponsor me, he said I should raise the target so all the CEO's I emailed might sponsor me, seeing how far I have to go.

So I did that.

My new target is £1000. I know, a bit bonkers. But I am bonkers!

I am woefully short of that but thanks to my mamma, two siblings, 11 friends and two strangers...a poor man and a rich man, I have hit the Big Issue's target!

Having never fundraised before, I have to say, I am really chuffed!

Let's see how close I get to £1000 ey? I mean, Coffee Shop man hasn't got round to donating yet, maybe others haven't either. But if I can't make it, I mustn't get depressed because that isn't the sum the charity asked of me. What the charity asked of me, some very special people helped me deliver! Thank yooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooou!

Smashing brick walls!!

8.47 miles I walked today!! Perhaps the pedometer isn't lying because when I got to Kentish Town it did say a mile....

Then, oh then I just walked, walked and walked. Into Camden, up through Regents Park, past all the lovely flowers, over towards Oxford Street but not quite, I wanted to avoid busy pavements. Managed to get lost abit but knew the general direction I was going in. Got back up to Hampstead Road walking parallel to Tottenham Court Road and thought, I don't want to walk up there if Jo isn't at the top of it so walked further up again to Euston then up.

It rained, oh it rained. Mental note to self? Take two pairs of socks on the walk, my feet are sopping wet!

I got home and saw that not only had my brother sponsored me, but so had an ex colleague I've not seen for years and what plopped through the letter box just now? A cheque for 50 squid from the CEO of Barclays!!! Weh hay!

The Big Issue set a £250 target and I have smashed it!! My body hurt so much this morning and my mind was so down in the gutter but I managed to walk 8.47 miles and hit the Big Issue's target!!!

I've got to cycle another don't know how many miles tonight with my son on the back. We're going to an exhibition of John Bird's drawing. Yes! John Bird, Founder of the....Big Issue!!

I've been bugging him to meet me. I might not meet him, but hell's bells, I hardly care right now!

The bike ride? Well it's going to be murder isn't it? Not only are my waterproofs not waterproof anymore, but my son weighs a fucking ton on the back of it now! Will my legs carry us? Will they?

Who cares! I've got the weekend off!

Hitting brick walls

"'To hit a brick wall' is a stock expression meaning to 'come to an end because of insurmountable problems'." (

I have hit a brick wall. I am done in. Done.

My fundraising efforts can go no further, I have asked everyone. I am well below my target.

My body feels tight, a step is a strain, to cough I must hold my sides. I can walk no more.

The Big Walk is in a week.


I have a 'work based interview' in 15 minutes. I shall be penalised if I do not attend.

I must hurry and perhaps, this alone, will help me pass my brick wall, for I shall walk, walk who knows where afterwards.

Tomorrow is Saturday. My son is with me. My rest is naturally enforced this weekend. Phew.... Next week is another week.....

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A walk in the park is no walk in the park

This beautiful idiom meaning something is easy. Not all parks are easy! Particularly Hampstead Heath. It very nearly finished me off today. Hills! Forest! Tramp tramp tramp! I love that place!

Street walk is no walk in the park

Did you know, the expression 'walk in the park' comes from parks being easy and pleasurable places to walk in? Of course you did, but I still thought I'd check with Google.

Little Miss at Bazza's Boot Camp told me today that she had done a 'night hike' in London for a cancer charity.

"It was sooo hard, the hardest thing I've ever done," she told me. "And I thought I was quite fit!"

She walked with a 'team' and they started their walk going at 18 minutes a mile but by the end, she was saying, a mile was taking them 30 minutes. Her legs could barely carry her to a tube when they finished at 5.30 am, she said, and I laughed, because I'm already crapping myself....

She said there were lots of stops, there was plenty of food, but not to stay at any of them for too long. I'm a dreadful 'stayer' - first at the party, last to leave type girl, so it's a good tip!

I'm walking on my 'own'. It will be nice going at my own pace. Only, after all I done and learnt today, I best be careful I don't get left behind!

My body is a temple

First day back to Bazza's Boot Camp after a long stretch (of time that is, not of body). A Divine Mistress in the playground has been telling me to go all term and I have been so inclined, I have. But seeing lawyers, council appointments chez moi, it all seems to happen on a Thursday.

Today I walk up. Zat usually takes me because I'm normally far too lazy to walk.

"Right girls, outside!" says Master Bazza. I personally have never known the man to bark.

"What? What? Now?" Jogging is the bit I most dread at Bazza's Boot Camp. I'd do 100 press ups in its place....actually, no, that's not true...
"What about stretching???" I call to nowhere as I step out after them, actually quite, well, frightened.

I begin to jog. The Divine Mistresses are already infront but My Twin (born on the same day) hangs back and jogs with me.

I start chatting to her but very quickly run out of breath.

Credit to myself, I did not stop. I jogged it, the mile (mile and a half?). I had a stitch in my shoulder, my breath sounded like bubbles through a straw. Up that gradient, up that gradient I went, My Twin keeping pace, not racing off to join the others who were quite far infront.

"What did you have for breakfast?" she asked.
"A weetabix," I gasped.
"That's not enough darlin, you need some protein."

We return; gentle stretches, harder, harder then kick kick pow pow pow, press up resting on one hand, 30 seconds, 30 seconds more; my arm shakes uncontrollably, my whole body follows. My Twin feels it too, and is brave enough to speak up.

"It means you have no strength in your body," says a Divine Mistress. "Your body needs more oxygen."

My body is a temple. My temple is in ruins.

Bazza's Boot Camp

It's proper name is "Women's Self Defence", a "fusion of Tai Chi, Wing Chun and Chinese Yoga"

For the past five years I've been going on and off (most recently off for ooh, about a year? More than a year?) and can certify that it is all of this; it is great. We always stretch, we sometimes breathe; we unite our bodies, souls and minds.

It's also hard core. Which is why I call it Bazza's Boot Camp. When Master Bazza, a Zen Master to be true, is so inclined, he can really crack the whip.

Master Bazza welcomed me back like a prodigal daughter.

The Divine Mistresses welcomed me back as a fellow sister.

Today wasn't punishing, no, not quite. Still, I HURT LIKE HELL!!!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The pedometer lies!!

6.44 miles??? You're havin' a laugh pedometer! Are you telling me that the stroll down to the canal, all the way to Little Venice, all the way back through Regents Park then back home just totted up to a mere 6.44 miles????? I did six miles yesterday and it was much less!!!

Maybe, maybe not. I didn't know how to programme it, so however I've programmed it, I've programmed it wrong.

I'll take it out with me on the night walk. Then I shall know the truth!

The Prince and the Pauper

As I approached Camden, with my hoodie pulled tight over my head (for the stunning weather had started to spit, then stream upon me), I stopped at Toasties, arguably the best chill out space for a cuppa tea for miles around.

There are sofas with cushions thrown on, plants, beautiful voices coming from the stereo system, comic strip decor on one of the walls, a Book Club where you can exchange an old book for new, a veritable lounge for a weary walker to lounge in.

Here in this groovy abyss of peace and pleasure, you can get a nice mug of tea and slice of toast for a pound! I thought of Orwell's world of tea and two slices when a homeless man himself.

I took my chance and asked the owner if he'd sponsor me. Yes! His female friend, who looked kookily burlesque said she would too! They would pay afterwards. Then a third man who didn't look like he owned much materially in his life, but looked like he more than made up with that with tales, said he wanted to sponsor me too, then matched the pledge of the other two and said "take it now because I might not see you again."

He'd been a Big Issue vendor in the 70's he said, when they all had colour codes and they placed their pitches where their codes allowed them too. I asked him what his address was so I could put it on my form but he wouldn't say and would only give his first name. Eventually he told me and it's a hostel I know.

I came home and I had an email from a man replying on behalf of the CEO, who couldn't sponsor me, because he gets so many requests and can't commit to all of them.

"You sponsor me instead then!" I emailed back. "You don't have to give much... Give it a thought, a little, little one?!

"I like your style!" he said but he had other commitments and wished me all the best.

Ah, 99 CEO's I emailed! Is a fiver too little which is why they don't dig into their pockets? The man at Toasties liked my style too and he dug really deep.

Just an observation.

My legs feel fine!

No aches or pains today, it was obviously my legs just getting used to the weight of the boots. Different muscles used walking rather than cycling.

However, as much as I love my boots, and imagine The Big Issue Walk to be a gentler experience that those amazing ladies that power walk the Moon miles for breast cancer, I shall break in my trainers again.

So today I power on! With a good supply of plasters! It's a stunning day so I think I'll head towards the canal and see where I end up.

My legs may ache at the end of it all but no pain, no gain! I will also take the opportunity to exercise my brain muscles for I must, I must, meet my fundraising target! So although I have long longed for an ipod, perhaps it is fortunate I don't have one for my imagination needs free reign!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Fundraising emails to big shots

Today I thought I'd email a load of CEO's.
The chances that they, they with fat bank accounts, will sponsor me, are nil. So instead of intelligently spelling out the awful reality of homeless people's lives, which is nothing like their own, I injected some stigmum madness instead, just for fun.

If I could walk 500 miles
Then I would walk 500 more
Just to be the girl who helps the homeless
Lift their lives up from the floor

La la la la, la la la la, will you sponsor me?!
La la la la, la la la la, I'll stride on happily! (The Proclaimers)

A few hours later, my fundraising page tells me my target is still stuck on 17%, graciously donated by friends.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board!


I told my son I'd spent the whole afternoon emailing people, trying to get them to sponsor me.

"Why don't we keep the money mummy?"
"Well, because it's not for us."
"Who is it for?"
"It's for the people I'm walking for."
"Why can't we keep some of it?"
"It would be nice but when you do something for charity, you pay some money to be able to do whatever, like walking, and then you raise as much money as you can for all the walking so the charity can give it to the people who need it."
"But we need it mummy."
"Um, yeah, I know."
"So why do you have to pay to do it?"
"Because that's the rules."
"So what do you get?"
"Um, a good feeling."
"What else?"
"Um, that's all."
"That's all?"
"Well, yeah."

(Son hugs my legs then goes to sit on the carpet to look at his Match Attack collection)

"But that's good!" I call after him, thinking I'm not giving fundraising a good press. "A good feeling's good!"
"I'll sponsor you mummy," he says looking up at me.
"Oh THANKYOU hun."
"Is one pound enough?"
"One pound is plenty!"

And I go over to him and give him a great big kiss and because it's not the school playground, he lets me! Good feelings you see, good feelings!

Methinks 6 miles was a tad optimistic....

"Oh you don't want to walk in those!" said the man in the outdoor shop.
"Why not?!"
"They're a very nice pair of leather, fashionable boots. Good for a mile perhaps, but not 18! You'll get blisters!"
"No! They're really roomy around the toes!" I answered.
"Well, they'll make your legs hurt. You're better off wearing some proper walking shoes."

I'd popped in to see if he sold pedometers (and of course to see if he'd sponsor me) and we got chatting, as you do, in these little independent shops.

I told him I had trainers, but they gave me blisters. He told me to break them in again. This I will do. This I must do. Why?

Because my legs are KILLING me!! Or rather my leg. My left leg.

Oh my! Six miles I thought I'd do. In London's scenic little twists and turns it's 'easily' done. A long, straight road would be such a slog.

I did stop, on my way back, in Mornington Crescent. Texted Jo when I was at the British Library and steamed full ahead for the rendezvous as she had an early lunch hour.

Painful walking home. My left leg. I dunno, the muscles, the whole thing ached so much I was hobbling. Hobbling! And an 18 mile trudge next week!

The outdoor man sold me a pedometer as it happens. Outrageously expensive, so he gave a discount. He also convinced me to buy a pair of 'cushioned' hiking socks, saying if I wear thin socks with trainers that might be the cause of the blisters. He knocked a pound off these too! When I asked if he'd sponsor me he said he had, with the discount!

"That's good!" I said. "That's great! But you have to give a little to the people I'm walking for..."

He told me to pop in next week. Every little helps! (Tesco)