Monday, 15 October 2012

Chemical Peel

So…back in the summer K and I had the enormous pleasure (!) of taking our teenaged daughters to Weston-super-Mare to spend the day at T4 on the Beach. I won’t bore you with the horrific details of the event…I’ll only say that it was in fact the most expensive picnic on Weston beach that I’ve ever had the misfortune to have…
Anyway, K and I spent a (only just) tolerable 7 hours there, chatting, eating, drinking coffee and generally enjoying the fact that it wasn’t pouring with rain until, around 4pm, she turned to me and said; ‘Michelle…your face… It’s really red, but just on one side….’ Much laughter ensued. ‘Actually, you look like that bloke from Phantom of the Opera’. Excellent. It’s not even sunny. How the bloody hell have I managed to get sunburnt when it’s overcast and slightly windy? I mean FFS…I even have my waterproof and wellies on…
By the time we get back to Bristol, my face is BURNING. The teenagers find it hilarious, K finds it hilarious. I don’t. I’m very concerned. It’s Sunday evening. How the hell am I going to sort out my mess of a face before going into work on Monday morning? (Where there are more teenagers. As well as some very unsympathetic members of staff)
When I get home I fashion some sort of burns-victim mask out of several sheets of wet kitchen roll in the vain hope that I can nip any burning/redness in the bud and sit with it on my face for pretty much the rest of the evening. I even took a slightly damp version that I’d left in the fridge for an hour or two to bed, again in the futile hope that it may have some remedial effect. I don’t hold out much hope though and set my alarm a full hour earlier than necessary in order to carry out the restorative work on my face in the morning.
Six o’clock rolls around. I’m straight out of bed to view the damage. Oh.My.God. This really isn’t good. I resemble Freddie Kruger. It’s incredibly unattractive. And so hot you could almost fry an egg on it. I apply three layers of foundation, realise I look like something from TOWIE (without being remotely glamorous or good-looking) take it all off and then reapply just one layer. Really carefully. I’m not too displeased with the result (really, this Lancome stuff is amazing) but I’m taking no chances. I take pretty much ALL my make-up with me, along with some cleanser and moisturiser (I have a feeling I’ll be cleansing, moisturising and reapplying at several points throughout the day) and I leave for work.
Things are going ok until G pops in to see me. We’re chatting but I’m thinking she’s looking at me a little oddly… Now G is usually the kindest person, the most considerate of people’s feelings…but I can’t help feeling that she’s noticed something strange about my appearance. ‘My face is on fire!’ I blurt out. ‘It’s killing me and I’m covered in make-up that I’m terrified will actually just melt off my face! Arrrrggggghhhh!’ (I believe these were pretty much my actual words) ‘Do I look weird G? You have to tell me. I’m almost tempted to feign illness and come back when my face has returned to normal’ G assures me that I just look like I have more make-up on than normal and her considered advice is to say absolutely nothing to anybody. They’ll all assume you’re just wearing more make-up today and that’ll be that. No-one will give it much thought. I nod at her; ‘Yes. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. That’s straightforward, sound advice, I’ll do that.’
That sensible sort of thinking lasts approximately 10 minutes. Pretty much until Ph comes into my office, takes one look at me and says; ‘Oh my God! Got enough foundation on?’ Brilliant. I’m almost crying at this point. It all comes pouring out; ‘If you must know, I got hideously burnt trying to be a nice mum and taking my daughter to T4 on the Beach and now I look like shit and people are gonna notice all day. I wish I’d stayed at home. Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!’ I did manage to elicit a sort-of apology and a sort-of back track when he tried to say that really I didn’t look that bad, just that I had (quite a lot) more make-up on than normal, but to be honest, the damage was done. I spent all day trying to avoid people, continually reapplying my make-up (that really was actually melting off my face) and confessing to anyone that looked at me about what was really going on under the layers of foundation and powder.
I managed to get through the next couple of days without too much incident. I continually moisturised and kept the make-up topped up and no-one really passed comment. Until the Wednesday. My face had been feeling unusually ‘tight’ and I know the considerable amount of make-up was doing it no favours… However, needs must and I soldiered on. I noticed that Ph looked at me a little weirdly as I left my office for the staffroom at lunchtime, but he didn’t make a comment (probably scared I really would cry. Actual tears that he’d have to look at and everything). However, on arriving at my usual seat, G looked up and said (bearing in mind all the things I said about her before….kind, considerate and all that…); ‘What on earth is happening with your face??’ Noooooooo! I reach up and can actually feel that bits of it may be about to fall off. This is just awful! I hurriedly eat my lunch and disappear back to my office where I start the re-moisturising process for what feels like the 137th time that week. Clearly, the draw of my skin flailing off in shards was far too much for F who appeared at my office for a chat. We’re chatting, I’m re-moisturising, when she turns to me and says words along the lines of; ‘Michelle. I think your face is actually falling off’. And she’s right. I’m finding actual bits of skin in my hands. This is horrific! I’m trying really hard to act as normally as possible, chatting happily about whatever thing of vital importance we’re discussing but my face is literally falling off in my hands…and onto my desk and my clothes…just bloody everywhere really. F continues to chip in really helpful comments like 'I don't know why you just didn't call in sick...' and 'This is actually really funny!' I’m trying to style it out and be cool as F gets up to leave. She’s just walking through the door as she turns to me and says (with a very straight face it has to be said…well done F!); ‘Michelle, I think you’ve got a bit of your face on your top.’
So…the rest of my face did indeed fall off. I peeled most of it off in my office. The rest came off during my shower that evening. But what I was actually left with was really smooth skin (a little tender, it has to be said – but smooth and silky nonetheless). It was like having (I imagine…I don’t really get the opportunity to partake in cosmetic surgery) a chemical peel. Only it took days to peel the unwanted skin from my face and I had to do it in the glaring publicity of a busy secondary school. However, it was sort of worth all the humiliation. It was in true MRMD style everso-slightly-traumatic and a little bit ‘can’t-polish-a-turd’ like but the end result was happy enough. I had smooth skin. There doesn’t seem to have been any lasting damage (other than the fact that I am now absolutely terrified to show my face to the sun for fear of a repeat performance). And now the horror and the icky feeling of foundation melting off my face has gone and several months have passed, I’m able to see the funny (possibly even hilarious) side to the whole event.
After all, who wouldn’t when you’re left with these words ringing in your ears?
‘Michelle, I think you’ve got a bit of your face on your top’

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Everso slightly traumatised...

My day didn’t start well today. To be honest, trying on a dress purchased for the upcoming Leaverzzz Dinner (always a somewhat stressful event to dress for to be honest. See previous blog) at around 12.30am after a fabulous evening of great company, lovely food and wine was not really going to send me to bed ready for a blissful slumber was it?? Of course, I tried it all on, decided I looked hideous and immediately started searching on my phone for an alternative outfit. I gave up after around 10 minutes. Online shopping in a foul temper at 1am on an iphone is not conducive to finding an amazing, flattering-yet-stylish outfit fit for an evening spent with young people. So, I took myself off to sleep, whilst watching Desperate Housewives (really am becoming something of a cliché…)

Predictably, I woke up early, still in a foul mood. Brunch and shopping with C was on the cards and I needed to sort out the outfit for this bloody dinner. I text C at 830 telling her my sorry tale….that the dress I’d bought looked hideous on me and that, rather than shopping for accessories for my dress, I had to in fact shop for a whole new outfit. In the meantime, I was frantically searching online for an alternative. I even looked at Next. Everyone knows how I feel about Next, but needs must… (In fairness, I did spot a rather sexy pair of shoes and matching clutch…who knew?) C suggests I bring the dress over to hers for an honest assessment before I scrap the whole idea. So I do just that. It actually looked better than I first thought (there's no doubting though that it would look much better with some body-smoothing underwear. Clearly) despite the fact that I modelled it for her complete with navy blue Converse All Stars. C agreed. So we set out with a plan of action. I wanted to buy a white, slouchy blazer, sexy shoes - flats and wedges (I’m learning to waltz for the event (!) and unfortunately my dance partner, lovely though he is, is too short to allow me the luxury of a 4 inch wedge heel whilst being twirled around the floor), clutch bag (zebra print – fabulous!), jewellery and the vile body-smoothing underwear. C is looking for a cute summer dress. After a quick stop for brunch (smoked salmon and poached eggs…mmmmm) we head to Primark (no judgement – many a fabulous accessory has been picked up in Primark). C picks up an amazing pair of zebra print heels, I get some glam snake-skin flats for waltzing in; but then the trouble starts…… We head towards the underwear. It’s hideous, it really is. And yes, I know no-one is going to see it (believe me, if they did, I’d certainly never see them again!) but I can’t bring myself to try on the skin-toned monstrosities. ‘TRY THEM ON!’ C urges. ‘What’s the point of buying what you think may be ok, only to get it home and find that it doesn’t work? You’ll only have to come back again.’
‘Fine’ I concede. Though I very much love Primark, there is no way I want to come back for at least another month. At least. And these are desperate times. C selects a couple of sweet dresses and I join her in the fitting rooms with my scaffolding. 

Now there’s something about changing rooms that just depresses me. The lighting is harsh, the mirrors are bright and frankly, I immediately just want to cry. This is exactly why I usually just buy stuff, then spend ridiculous amounts of time queuing up at various store’s customer service desks taking clothes back that don’t fit/look hideous. Anyway, we disappear into our respective cubicles. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about what happened in there but I will say this; after 5 minutes, I decided that this was never gonna work and clearly the only option was for me to stay at home on the evening of the dinner, wearing sweats and a hoodie and eating ice-cream straight from the tub… some of you must know this feeling surely…? Meanwhile, in C’s cubicle, it was all kicking off! There’s no need for details, but there were hysterics, much, much laughter, tears and an amount of ripping of fabric. Seriously, the whole Primark fitting rooms experience was really rather distressing for both of us. Never, ever again. We slunk out, paid for our shoes and I think it was fair to say, moped dejectedly around the rest of the Cabot Circus hating Primark and ourselves (yeah yeah, it’s been said before - drama queen). I ditched any plans to accessorize my outfit. I mean, what was the point….? C went off the idea of buying a cute summer dress. We were pretty miserable…and to be frank, traumatised is probably not too strong a word (there’s that dramatic streak again…) In honesty, we concluded that the only way out of the slump and to end the day on a positive note was to make our way to a pub for some alcohol.

We made our way to one of my local pubs where we ordered in a fairly restrained manner – half a Thatchers shandy (I know, you should probably never dilute Thatchers Gold) for me and Fosters with a dash for C. We add a portion of home-made pork scratchings (to complete the classy picture of two sophisticated girls-about-town) and settle ourselves outside to cheer ourselves up. (Though I'm not sure C has forgiven me fully for divulging our changing room secret to my young male pal (and waltz partner) who happened to be there having a civilised luch with his family. Whoops) Luckily, C and I are pretty good at seeing the funny side of most situations and it’s not long before we’re ever-so-slightly hysterical and laughing almost uncontrollably at our unfortunate Primark experience. I’ve calmed down at this point and reluctantly concede that I will be attending the Leaverzzzz dinner. I also reluctantly concede that I will buy some vile body-smoothing underwear to make my dress look presentable. I will however, order it online and try it on in the comfort of my own bedroom. C however, does not make any declarations about looking for another cute summer dress. I fear she may be scarred for life.

And during the process of writing this (I have the attention-span of a goldfish, 10 minutes on one activity at a time is plenty), I’ve ordered the white slouchy blazer (25% off – yay me!), earrings, bangles, heels and the fabulous zebra-print clutch. Oh…and the amazing body-smoothing underwear. I will go to the ball! I just may look ever-so-slightly crap...!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

I'd hate to be in your position....

WARNING! I wasn’t in a great mood when I wrote this. This is something of a rant. Apologies.
‘I’d hate to be in your position’. That’s what one of my colleagues announced as I sat chatting to a friend about the date she’d lined up for herself at the weekend (it went very well too – just in case you were wondering…)
‘Oh yeah?’ I replied as I looked up from my (interrupted) conversation. ‘What position is that then?’ ‘Ah you know….Back on the dating scene and all…Particularly for you two….with kids and exes and all. It must get a lot harder as you get older…’
Gee thanks! That’s the sort of vote of confidence I could do with right now. NOT. Why don’t people talk to me about how exciting meeting all these new people could be? How I might finally wind up with my soul-mate? (I don’t really believe in soul-mates, so that might be tricky…But you know what I mean…) The doom and gloom story, that’s peddled out to me with alarming regularity. I sometimes think some of my colleagues think I’ve been some sort of nun since Husband No2 vanished. Not true. I also think they believe me to be somewhat stupid.
‘Have you tried on-line dating Michelle? Something like I've seen their advert on TV - it looks lovely!’ No….I’m a reasonably intelligent woman who is not living under a rock somewhere and who has been mostly sort-of-single for the last three years... ‘OF COURSE I HAVE!’ I always reply. I just hate it!
‘But my friend’s sister’s friend met their long-term love/live-in partner/husband on Dating Direct/Match/PoF! You just never know….!’ they add wisely, as if to solve all my problems. Really?? Well for every lovely, happy story (and yes, I even personally know a few), I can give you 200 horror stories. 200 stories that, in a good frame of mind would make you howl with laughter. But God, in a poor frame of mind, could make you reach for the razor blades.

I’m pretty sick of the platitudes to be honest. The ‘you’ll find someone when you least expect it’, the ‘you’re a great catch – any man would be lucky to have you’ and my personal favourite; ‘it’ll happen when you’re not looking’. (How the hell does that work?? Trust me, if you’re single, you’re looking). They’re all bullsh1t. And the fact that they’re usually dished out by people who have been married for…oh, around 100 years doesn’t help. What the hell do they know? And yes, I realise that people are only being kind, trying to boost my confidence and make me feel slightly less of a social misfit. After all, they don’t know that I have a near pathological fear that I will die alone (and in true Bridget Jones style, be eaten by my very large and rather haughty cat). They don’t know that I really don’t deal in platitudes (particularly when they’re prefaced with the ‘poor you – it must be awful for you’ type bollocks).

Now I don’t want you reading this and thinking ‘Oh dear God, she’s desperate’. I’m not. There are things I could’ve taken further but chose not to, just as there are things (well….actually…just the one) that I’d like to have run with to see what happened, but as I’ve learnt at my cost over the years, you can’t make someone want you. I’d been in relationships in one way or another continuously from the age of 16 until three years ago, so I’m pretty sure I can be in another. It’s just that I don’t want to live out yet another platitude; ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs Michelle, until you get that prince’. What a pile of crap! I’m pretty sure I don’t have to date a load of losers to find someone I actually want to be with for a prolonged period of time. I think, after all this time, that I’ll know whether the man in question floats my boat or not. (So to speak…)

So there you have it. Rant over. Being single sometimes sucks. Being single sometimes rules. But if you’re going to talk to me about it, please don't tell me how you're soooooo glad you're not me and also please remember; I deal in honesty – not platitudes.

Phew! I’ll shut up now.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

You can't polish a turd.....fact!

So…I’m a little bit crap. At most things. Good friend Sa and I can be heard to remark that the phrase ‘you can’t polish a turd’ is made for us. Sa uses it to describe her physical appearance (which let me say right now, is not in the least bit turd-like. She always looks lovely). But me, I reckon I can apply it to almost everything I do…
See this cup of coffee balanced precariously on is saucer, ready to spill over at any moment…?
 That’s my cup of coffee from a very lovely afternoon in Clifton this weekend. (C was not impressed about having to buy me a coffee in the bar. ‘Seriously Michelle, a coffee?? I have NEVER ordered a coffee in a bar in my life before’). What the photo illustrates to me is my overriding crap-ness (after C pointed it out to me obviously – I love a good analogy….or whatever it is in picture form…). It’s not on the saucer properly, it’s about to fall over and it’s all a bit, well dribbly and rubbish-looking. It just sums up the fact that, no matter how hard I try, everything I do is tinged (sometimes everso slightly, but it’s always there) with a bit of crap.

Here’s an example….I wrote about the hell that is the Yearbook photo a few blogs ago. Well the photos came back. This is what I looked like.

I’m not joking. Jabba the Hutt (for those of you who aren't Return of the Jedi fans). Despite my very best efforts and all the compliments of the day, I still look slightly (well quite a lot really) crap when a camera is shoved in my face. Spectacularly un-photogenic is the polite way of putting it I believe. (To add insult to injury, the Yearbook is proofed by my line-manager. I asked, well begged really, for me to be allowed to replace the Jabba-like photograph with one that I can actually bear to look at. The answer was a resounding no. Brilliant).
I also spend a large proportion of my day twiddling (is that even a word?) with my hair. I do it when I’m driving, in meetings (very professional), watching TV, chatting with friends….pretty much all of my waking time. I have no idea why I do it – I’ve always done it. Always. The result sometimes though is that I have weird bits of hair sticking up. Or that I get a massive knot that I can’t untangle. None of this looks good – the actual activity nor the end result.

It’s not just my appearance that is turd-like. The things I do day-to-day are also pretty rubbish. Like enrolling for the next stage in my degree, but forgetting to actually complete the registration process. Or being told that as I’d messed up too many times, the OU has put me on an alert system….meaning that if I mess up again, I will never, ever be able to study with them again. (The petulant teenaged streak in me is desperate to put this to the test…!)

And there’s more:
I’ve lost a little (loads more to go but it’s all in the right direction) weight recently and was paying for some huge Lego monstrosity in an extremely busy Tesco when my jeans fell down. Not a little bit down, but halfway-down-my-arse down. Black see-through knickers on display for all to see. (In truth I was part horrified, part delighted!)
I drive a Corsa. It’s a sweet little car and I’ve had it a little less than three years. In that time, I’ve lost two wing mirrors (neither was my fault. Honest), created £600 worth of damage by scraping the side of my car on a wall whilst trying to park and now I have a passenger door that doesn’t open from the inside (this does not create a good first impression – believe me). Could happen to anyone? Maybe. But it all happens to me.

Do you get the picture? I could go on for ages about this – but it’s depressing.
And do you know what? I sort of like that I’m a bit crap. I like to think that my ditzy inner-self is one of my endearing qualities. No one likes a show-off do they? No-one likes someone who’s utterly perfect all the time.
So, I may look a bit sh1t sometimes (especially in photos!), I may twiddle with my hair and tie it in knots. I may spill stuff in restaurants and walk into things. And I may have to get out of my car, just to walk round and let you out of the passenger side. But so what? I’m embracing the crap-ness.....and maybe even highlighting it....!

After all, as someone pointed out to me recently;
You can’t polish a turd…..but you can put glitter on it J

Monday, 9 April 2012


I was happily chatting this afternoon, with someone who was not incredibly au fait with my recent past. ‘So how long has it been?’ she asked. ‘Three years’ I replied. ‘Actually, three years almost exactly. Three years on Easter Sunday’. Ouch.

I’ve also just read the most recent blog of very dear friend L. She also had a recent ‘anniversary’. One that to my shame, I forgot. It’s not one to be marked really, but I wish I’d have text her just so she knew I was thinking of her.

These things got me thinking… In honesty, the time of year in relation to the semi-shambles that is my life at times didn’t occur to me until this afternoon. And it makes me sad. I don’t want to hunt down the life that ran away and changed that Easter Sunday three years ago, but I’m a little tired of trying to find a replacement one.
However, as the wise L said in her own blog, you can’t change the past. You can only make the very best of the present and the future.

I guess I’ll keep trying to do that then.