My type of sunbathing……..

Sitting sunning myself today and made me think of this I’d written last year. I am currently blotchy, sweaty and have a sun headache whilst I post…..
Emma is in my chair. She’s a favourite client of mine. She tells me everything, no holds barred with her. It’s colour time today because she’s looking a tad too light, as she has just arrived back from her yearly 2 month stint at her boss’s pad in the South of France. Sounds fun, but I know what it entails for her. Arranging breakfast orders, transport, extra toiletries, activities, for any of his guests be they 6 or 56. Running around like a loon making sure everything runs smoothly, and jumping every time her boss clicks his fingers. Think The Devil Wears Prada, just in swimwear. Despite being knackered on her return she never looks it because she always has a glorious tan. Let me reiterate that this is a glorious, golden, even, glowing tan. Her ankles are the same colour as her forearms for god’s sake…. I’m always jealous. I have to share with her how I feel about sunbathing.
I think there are two types of sunbathers, those like Emma and those like me. Now I like the sun don’t get me wrong, but the whole sunbathing thing bores me to tears. Hats off to those that can rotate themselves at timed intervals to ensure evenness. I find laying on my stomach on a sunlounger so uncomfortable that I give up so if I do tan ( I’ve very pale skin) then it’s generally the front of me that looks less lily white. And what to do with my head when lying in this position? Hang off the end of the sunlounger whilst attempting to read something placed on the floor in front of me? Get this distribution of weight wrong on a cheap lounger and there’s a potential accident waiting to happen. Turn my head to the side? God forbid I doze off, because not only do I end up with one side of my face more red than the other but it’s a Goldie Hawn from Death Becomes Her moment on waking as I try and put my head back to its correct position.
I have moments of madness when I’m convinced that I can sit in direct holiday sun for an hour. I’ll noisily, much to the annoyance of other sunbathers, drag my sunlounger away from the umbrella. This is done whilst also attempting to not burn my feet after forgetting to put flip flops on. I’ll arrange the little table with, sun cream, water and my book. I’ll place my towel and tuck the ends in to stop it falling onto my face when I’m sat up, I’ll rearrange my bikini and I’m ready. I generally last approximately 4 mins before dragging that sunlounger back under the umbrella.
Emma always buys new bikinis for these summer occasions and has stunning bikinis and ‘beachwear’. A different bikini for each day to avoid strap marks which is where I go wrong and a gorgeous throw that, unlike my cheap high street one that’s 100% polyester, doesn’t make her a sweaty mess. Why is any beach throw made of polyester for heaven’s sake? And don’t get me started on bikinis with metal embellishments that give me burn marks.

I tell her that I’m also convinced I look ok when I sunbathe. In my head I’m tanning evenly, and quickly. My hair is smooth and controlled. My bikini is in place. There’s not an iota of sweat on me. This image is instantly destroyed when I go to the bathroom. Once my sun blindness calms and my eyes have adjusted to the lighting I can see the reality in the mirror. My hair is a candyfloss silhouette of fluff. It’s expanded width ways. The ends have lightened to a yellow hue after I dared wear it up in a top knot for 3 days on the trot. The rest of it adorned with flakes of skin from a burnt scalp. I’ve a sunburn developing like a halo round my hairline from excessive sweating which has removed sun cream.

My bikini top is skew whiff adding to even more interesting tan marks which are now resembling the colours of neapolitan ice cream. I have two red crescent shapes on each armpit where deodorant has clashed with suncream. 

So far the tan is doing face to bikini top: slightly less white with freckles. Bikini top to bikini bottoms: red. Knees and feet: tanned with freckles….lower legs: completely white. This area on me is completely immune to the sun, even fake tan doesnt ‘take’ on this area.

Emma just sits there laughing at me, flashing her golden wrists.

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My type of sunbathing……..

Deaf Awareness Week

When I was 18 I lost my hearing due to illness. Having a sense taking away from you overnight is traumatising. To go from perfect hearing to imperfect.  All those songs that I loved. All that music that my sister and I would listen to in our bedrooms and dance to. All those heavy beats in those clubs I’d started going to. Lucy my cat purring. Watching TV. Conversations with more than one person. All that changed for me.

It’s really hard to explain to somebody when you have imperfect hearing what it is you can actually hear. When people tell me to turn the volume up on the television it’s difficult to convey that clarity is important not just volume. When people joke and say do I have to have subtitles on whilst watching television as they find it distracting, my reply is let’s put the TV on mute and then you’ll be able to hear what I hear.  I make my own lyrics up to songs if I do listen to music.  Pre hearing loss I was a huge hip hop and R&B fan which is so hard to listen to now as I can never understand the lyrics. For years I thought Destiny’s Child were singing ‘Lemonade, Lemonade’ not ‘Say my name, say my name’. I never listen to music at home. I do listen to music when I go to the gym and wear headphones in both ears though if the right ear piece falls out I can’t hear anything. I also only listen to music pre 1990 as this was when I lost my hearing.

Things that happen to me being partially deaf……..

I get shouted at. I’ve been told I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested, etc etc because I haven’t heard someone.

Someone once told me that I should just try a bit harder at listening…….

It has shaped who I am and has made me a stronger person. This is my life and I get on with it and I cope how I can. I don’t want to go to the theatre, because the minute the actor or actress turns from facing the audience and I can’t see them, I can’t hear what they’re saying. I don’t want to go to a venue where one person is talking on a stage and there are maybe 200 people in the room and I’m at the back, because I can’t hear what they’re saying. I don’t want to go to a dinner party with 10 other people because I can’t keep up with lipreading everyone or hear what everyone is saying, and find it exhausting and sometimes depressing. I don’t want to go to a gig and listen to a band I don’t know because I can’t understand what they’re singing.

I will go to the ballet. I will go to an event which is small. I will go to an event that is small and that I can be near the front or right at the front to hear better,  I don’t sit at the front because I’m a swot or nerdy,  I sit at the front so I can hear.  I will go out and dance to music pre  hearing loss because I can remember those lyrics.

Things that really help me to hear you better. Please don’t whisper. Please don’t put your hand over your mouth when you talk to me. Please don’t shout when you talk to me because it distorts your mouth and makes it harder to lipread.  Please don’t turn away when you talk to me.  Please don’t ever say it doesn’t matter if I didn’t hear you even on the second attempt.  Please don’t think I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, or not interested because I hadn’t heard you. 

This week is Deaf Awareness Week. Remember you can’t always see if someone has a hearing problem. There are some great tweets and linked blog posts if you look at #DeafAwarenessWeek on Twitter.

 

 

Deaf Awareness Week

Today is World Meningitis Day. This is my story….

I don’t remember much past the muffled music of CD UK and vaguely insisting to my Dad that I was in bed whilst I was actually laying on the bathroom floor. My Mum had been visiting my Nan who was terminally ill in hospital and came home at 8 o’clock. She found me unconscious. My Dad thought I was sleeping. She called the family doctor who called an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. I don’t remember anything for another week.

The only memories I have of that time is knowing that I was in a room that was dark, that I couldn’t see properly and there were also whirring noises in my ears. My Mum, Dad, and sisters were in the room with me wearing gowns and masks. I could have been an extra in some post-­apocalyptic zombie-fest film. I do remember trying to convey that my older sister had to leave the room because she was pregnant at the time, so I was obviously aware that there was something wrong.

I always say that I knew I wasn’t going to die but I’m not sure if that’s true. Is it just something I say because actually I have no idea what happened during those days?
When you’re 18 your ‘grown up’ life is just starting, the fun, friends, relationships, boys, going out, getting drunk, being wild and crazy, and I had started a little bit on that journey and then it was snatched away from me.

I spent a few weeks in hospital. Initially my parents were told that I would die and then the Doctors changed their minds and said that I wouldn’t die but that I would be paralysed from the waist down. I remember the doctors scraping that thingamajig stick on the bottom of my feet, I’m not sure if I did feel it? Slowly the feeling did come back. I do remember the whole ward cheering the first time I got up out of bed and went to the toilet rather than use the commode, assisted by my Mum and a nurse I might add. The doctors said with physiotherapy my legs would get stronger and I wouldn’t need walking aids. I’d like to add that those nearest and dearest to me would probably suggest otherwise as I am very clumsy and am always the one who trips and stumbles, sometimes over a twig, leaf, or air, sometimes my own feet. (Hence my recovery now post hip replacement being ‘slightly’ tricky.)
My hearing and my ears were a different thing.

Having a sense taking away from you overnight is traumatising. To go from perfect hearing to imperfect. All those songs that I loved. All that music that my sister and I would listen to in our bedrooms and dance to. All those heavy beats playing out in the clubs me and my friends had started going to. Lucy my cat purring. Watching TV. Conversations with more than one person.

All that changed for me.

It’s really hard to explain to somebody when you have imperfect hearing what it is you can actually hear. When people tell me to turn the volume up, that isn’t always helpful, clarity is important. When people joke and say do we have to have subtitles on whilst we watch television, my reply is, no let’s just put the TV on mute and then you’ll be able to hear what I hear. I make my own lyrics up to songs if I do listen to music. Pre hearing loss I was a huge hip hop and R&B fan and it’s music which is so hard to listen to now and I can never understand the lyrics. I never listen to music.

Things that happen when you’re partially deaf……..you get shouted at. A lot.

I’ve been told I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested, etc, because I haven’t heard someone. Someone once told me that I should just try harder at listening…….
This is who I am and this is my life and I get on with it and I cope how I can.

I don’t want to go to the theatre because the minute that actor or actress turns round and I can’t see them then I can’t hear what they’re saying.

I don’t want to go to a venue where one person is talkng on a stage and maybe 200 people are in the room and I’m at the back because I can’t hear what they’re saying.

I don’t want to go to a dinner party with 10 other people because I can’t hear what everyone is saying. I don’t want to go to a gig and listen to a band because I can’t hear what they’re singing.

I will go to the ballet.

I will go to an event which is small.

I will go to an event that is small and that I can be near the front or right at the front to hear better, I don’t sit at the front because I’m a swot or nerdy, I sit at the front so I can hear.

I will go out and dance to music I know pre hearing loss because I can remember those lyrics.

And these things are so important.

Please don’t whisper to me.

Please don’t put your hand over your mouth when you talk to me. Please don’t shout when you talk to me because it distorts the mouth and makes it harder to lipread. Please don’t turn away when you talk to me.

Please don’t ever say so it doesn’t matter if I didn’t hear you even on the second attempt.

Please don’t think I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested because I didn’t hear you.

BE AWARE. Know the symptoms.

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Today is World Meningitis Day. This is my story….

Today Will Be Different

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Eleanor Flood is having a bit of a nightmare and decides that Today Will Be Different. What follows is a hilarious account of the melt down she has that day. What’s happening with her husband Joe and why hasn’t he been at work?  Her son Timby is off sick from school so with him and Yo-Yo the dog in tow she spends the day trying to sort her life out with comedic effect.

If you loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette you’re in for a treat.

My question for Maria Semple was:

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And her answer:

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple will be published by W&N on the 4th of October.

For a chance to win a copy go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30736868-today-will-be-different

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today Will Be Different

Sun, surgery, and, summer reads.

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I’ve a huge pile of books nestled on my sitting room floor waiting for me. My TBR pile, like most other readers, could probably do some damage if they were piled up vertically and knocked over. I’ve worked out that it would probably take at least 20 months to get through my TBR if I read two a week but sometimes I only read one…..and by the way my maths is crap so this isn’t ‘exact’. This is also with my current TBR, so that could change by tomorrow.
I’m honoured and chuffed that publicists send me books and always get excited when I see Eileen from reception walking towards my work section in the salon with an armful of packages. It’s like Christmas morning for me, and I take great delight in opening them. And just like Christmas when I say thank you to the people that gave me gifts I always thank the publicists that send me wonderful book gifts.

I’m sending advance thank yous for the books that may be sent to me over the next few months. There will be a slight delay in Twitter thank yous as I shall be away from the salon. I’d love to be able to say that I’m off on an exotic travelling adventure, though equally, I am very excited, as am having hip replacement surgery carried out by the amazing Orthopaedic team at UCHL hospital on Friday. I was diagnosed with Coxa Profunda, a hip deformity 3 years ago with added early onset arthritis and am now in chronic pain, I am bizarrely relaxed about the impending operation, though have decided against watching a video of one on YouTube….yes, I was considering it.

My clients have been offering ‘kill the boredom’ suggestions whilst I recuperate, including, jigsaws, watching all 3 million episodes of Game Of Thrones/Breaking Bad/Mad Men *insert whichever boxset here*, knitting!!! and watching ALL the Olympics………I intend to do none of these.

My dearest Auntie Jayne has arranged a rota of family staying with me as part of a ‘post surgery care package’ and as soon as they’ve departed because they’ve either, helped enough, done all their chores, Auntie is allegedly painting my garden fence, or driven me absolutely bonkers, I shall start on my TBR pile. Am so looking forward to reading some of those beauties that have been sent to me, plus getting to some of my own purchases.

I shall also try and catch up on some author blog posts. My blog, on Georgina Moore’s suggestion shall temporarily become ‘Notes From The Sofa’.

Please pray for sun so I can sit in my garden.

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Sun, surgery, and, summer reads.

Shelley Harris helping me fight crimes against hair.

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I have a confession to make…….I haven’t read Vigilante and Shelley Harris has graced my chair! This will be amended as I now have a lovely copy with a personalised message in my posession. I follow Shelley on Twitter, her feed is a delight so if you don’t follow her then I suggest you do. We met at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly where she was chairing an event with Helen Ellis, author of the hilarious American Housewife. We did that little dance that happens when you meet a fellow Tweeter and we chatted. Shelley said she’d love to come for a haircut and I said I’d love her to feature on my Notes From The Chair so it was a win win.

Shelley is the author of two novels, Jubilee and Vigilante, both published by W&N. My TBR is now teetering with these new editions. It was great to have her in my chair. We sure did put the world to rights, why do house prices always come into conversation….and women’s roles and the need for change in lots of areas. We talked books, surprise surprise. Shelley recommended The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. We also talked about our love of beautiful writing and getting gushy over a well written sentence.

 

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And now for the questions……….

 

Where are you going on holiday?

 

Rome! For the first time ever, in August. I’m very excited -and almost entirely ignorant about the city. To date, my main thoughts about getting ready for the trip are to read Mary Beard’s SPQR and get recommendations about good ice cream.

How many books would you take for a week away? Favourites or new reads?

These will be new reads and real books rather than e-books,so they will take up (I’d guess) about a third of my weight allowance. Generally, I like to take around nine for a week away. This usually ensures I never run out, while also allowing for the inevitable Book Refusal when the worthy-but-dull volume I pack proves to be just as hard to stomach when I’m away as it would be at home (who’d have thought?).

What shampoo do you use?

I use Kevin Murphy’s Angel Wash – good for fine, coloured hair and also a great incentive to take on more work so I can afford it.

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

I’m doing two corking things, thank you for asking. One (Saturday) is the first meeting of the Writers’ Centre Norwich Escalator scheme 2016. I’m a mentor this year, and will be meeting my (clients? mentees?) for the first time. I’ve already read their writing and it was fabulous; on Saturday we’ll startworking together.

On Sunday and Monday (Bank Holiday!) there’s nothing doing, which is bliss. I get to be with my lovely family.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Lloyd Shepherd’s Savage Magic, the third in his historical crime fiction series. This one’s about witches, asylums and grisly, gutty murder. I love historical fiction and his stories always have a fascinating political undercurrent – I’ve loved all of them. I was meant to be reading his latest, The Detective and the Devil, but when I got home with it my husband nicked it off me. I’m biding my time before I STRIKE BACK and liberate it.

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

OK, tough one. I’m torn between the joy of seeing someone tweet at all (John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester – think how filthily funny he’d be), choosing someone I adore (Malala) and being commercially hard-nosed (Beyonce?).

So: I think it would have to be JK Rowling, who actually fits two of those categories – massive respect is due and it would get the book into lots of people’s hands.

 

What’s the worse hair disaster you’ve had?

High Wycombe, 1982: I was fifteen, embarrassed about my body – my whole self – so did everything I could to get people not to look at me. I dressed androgynously (jeans, shirts, mydad’s ties) and wore my hair in an entirely unremarkable style, fringe down past my eyes to avoid people’s gaze.

In a hairdresser’s above the Octagon shopping centre I had a cut from a man who kept saying, as he snipped away: ‘it’s all for fashion, isn’t it, love?’ As the appointment went on his question took on an increasingly ominous tone, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to tell him what I actually wanted.

At the end, he did a bit of spraying and fluffing, and showed me what he’d done. I had the face of John Gordon Sinclair*and the hairstyle of John Taylor. The hairdresser finished with a final: ‘It’s all for fashion, isn’t it?’ and, being British, I just said ‘It’s great – thanks!’

I remember slightly hyperventilating once I got outside, and spending the whole journey home pressing down on my hair so it would go back to normal.

 

*Though, in fairness, I had that when I came in. You could just see more of it now

 

Vigilante is published by W&N.

 

Shelley Harris helping me fight crimes against hair.

Hugging and wandering amongst a sea of books…..

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Today I went to the greenhouse that is Olympia in London to the London Book Fair. The last time I was in this building was for a hairdressing event. Having worked for a few ‘biggish’ hairdressing companies, I’ve stood on stage in this building either being a compere, or doing hair over the years. One of the last was for a Wedding Fair styling numerous, *cough cough* Bridezillas, whilst consuming enough hairspray to completely obliterate the ozone layer. When the lovely Becky Short came to the salon with one of her authors, she asked if I was going to LBF. Now being a book loving tweeter, occasional blogger, and hairdresser I didn’t feel that I necessarily had a right, or purpose to going but she thought I may find it interesting hence finding  myself on the Piccadilly Line this morning…….I thought if nothing else I would hug anyone I saw,  if you know me you’ll know I love to throw my arms around people when I say hello.

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So I pottered into Olympia and lo and behold within 5 minutes spotted Anna James, by her wondrous mane of hair I might add, so she got the first hug. I then proceeded to wander rather aimlessly with a steaming cup of coffee, I felt like a lost puppy dog. Being true to my hairdressing roots (sorry) I recognised a few people because of their hair. I stopped Kate Morton on route to her Editor to gush that I loved her books and told her that she has stunning hair.

I was about to head off when I bumped into Jo Dawson of Quick Reads and The Reading Agency who told me there was a talk ‘Making Books Trend: From the News Headlines to Twittersphere, How Can Books Set the Agenda’ that I’d be interested in, so armed with another coffee and a pain au chocolat I went and found a seat.

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The talk was chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink, once again reaffirming my adoration and awe of her. The panel consisted of Charlotte Bush and Emma Finnigan talking about the Go Set A Watchman campaign. Nikesh Shukla discussing his novel Meatspace and the video of ‘that’ chop going into space. Alan Staton of Books Are My Bag described how this campaign had grown since it’s launch. And to finish, Dan Dalton of Buzzfeed took to the floor to say that books didn’t go viral but ‘stories, controversy, people, and stunts’ did. It was interesting, particularly as I spend a lot of time on Twitter looking at and sharing book love.

To round my day up……

People hugged:

Anna James, Clare Mackintosh, Sheila Reilly from Dulwich Books, Francesca Best,  Jo Dawson, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Sara Jade Virtue, Vicky Palmer, Rob Chilver, and Nikesh Shukla.

Those who got waves:

Charlotte Bush (only because I couldn’t lean across the chairs), Kate Morton, Dan Dalton, Jo Liddiard, Thomas Noble, Sophie Goodfellow.

And a thank you to Ursula Doyle for popping one of these fab Fleet tote bags aside for me, I now have a *boom boom * hare bag!

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Hugging and wandering amongst a sea of books…..