My thirties and forties were busy. Madette arrived one day into my 30th year. Junior Mad came along about two years later. After the death of my father, my mother settled into being old and demanding. As someone once said, "your mother enjoys bad health". She lived in daily expectation of death.
I returned to work and somehow found the groove. As opportunities came along in work, I took them on and relished the challenge. I found a confidence that was missing in my twenties. Professional qualifications were collected like Green Shield stamps. If you get that, you're really old too. We joked that I needed a fold-up business card.
Just after my mother died, I became a member a professional body and I did put the M word on the card. Every year I renew the membership but, to be honest, in the last couple of years I have fallen out of love with the world of work and spend a deal of time plotting the escape.
This year I received the membership renewals and, tucked in the envelope was a note about applying for fellowship. I ummed a bit since it seems pointless to do that if I don't really want to stay around in my field. But I thought, what the heck. You've got all the qualifications and experience so it is just a case of collating the evidence and submitting it. So after the right amount of faffing about, I sent it all off. The certificates all came back after about three days with a "we'll get round to considering" proforma letter. Yeah, right. That's gone in the bin. Forget about it. And I did.
When I got back from work on Wednesday I was all set up to head There. Loading the car, dog, garden chair (another story) and enough junk to keep me happy for a week. Grabbed the post and stuffed it into my bag, having sifted the obvious junk mail. I chucked one letter into the recyling and then retrieved it.
Over breakfast on Thursday morning, I remembered the maybe junk mail. Fumbling with the envelope, trying to avoid dragging it into the porridge, I edged out a letter. "I am pleased to inform you .... invites you to become a Fellow of the Institute". You will be entitled to use the designation Fellow.
Blimey. The F-word.
Now here's a thing. There's another four letter word: "Work". It's made me realise that it's not the work that I hate. It's the dismal organisation.
So I'm going to have to deal with the situation. It may involve another F-word.
Desperate for a sibling, I did the only thing possible. I made one up. A brother. Clearly, having made him up I could choose all the characteristics: dark hair and blue eyes, like Dad and brave beyond belief. Tall! He was tall. No-one in my family is tall. They all think I'm tall and I'm 5'4"!
Obviously, I had to make him a good bit older since he couldn't go to the same school. That trumped the Evil Little Witch in our class who had a brother who was four years older. ELW was the most spiteful child I have ever encountered both as a child and a parent. She took it on herself to tell us a lie about Father Christmas, explaining that we were all stupid babies. I was terrified to tell my parents in case I didn't get any more presents. Another child, from a very poor home, was told that she had ruined ELW's birthday because she hadn't come in the right clothes. The little girl ran home sobbing. ELW had a gang and she instructed all the wannabe ELWs in pinching, shoving, tripping up. ELW grew up to be a teacher and has a look of permanent dissatisfaction on her face. A mouth like a dog's bottom, if you know your Roald Dahl.
My older brother could do everything. Climbed the tallest trees, told the best stories, kept me supplied with the best sweets (Sherbet Dabs, if you're interested). And he never found his little squirt of a sister boring or too slow or too babyish. I was never lonely when he was around since we did all the exciting things together involving climbing trees, jumping off dangerous places, tracking and using pen knives. Let's face it he was the greatest. He may have learned to drive by the time he was twelve and was certainly a pilot by the age of fifteen. I was always a bit hazy about his exact age. It sort of depended on who I was talking to.
As he became more interesting, the other children became more curious about him. By the time he'd flown to the USA on his own, they were gagging to see him. I tried to protect him from their prying eyes by sending him off on secret missions . But nothing worked.
So I did the only thing possible.
I killed him.
So there, that sweet faced little girl is really a murderer.
1. What are your current obsessions? Getting 36 mpg out of the car. It all started when petrol was about 113p a litre. I started this hypermiling thing to see if I could do better than the 32-ish I was getting. Staying at the speed limit, watching the gear changes, floating to junctions. I've reached a steady 35.8 edging to 36 on long runs. God, it's so boring.
2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? Jeans, jeans and more jeans. Accesorised with gorgeous crushed raspberry suede jacket and posh totty sunglasses when I want to look good and incredibly tatty ancient waxed jacket when the only one to appreciate me is the dog. No, it's not a Barbour; I am short enough and mean enough to wear M&S children's gear.
3. Last dream you had? This was really difficult. I rarely remember my dreams. I do remember dreaming about driving in the snow a few nights ago. This may be the long range weather forecast for the UK.
4. Last thing you bought? Tickets for the Hay Festival. Yippee. I'm going to see Alan Bennett, Steve Jones, Jeremy Paxman, Desmond Tutu, Danny Abse, Clive James and, and, and.
5. What are you listening to? Supertramp. I'm sitting at the kitchen table and I've just listened to The Logical Song.
6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be? Arianrhod. The goddess of feminine power. What else?
7. Favourite holiday spots? Florence, Bow Creek, There (when There becomes Here). When I'm There, I just don't want to be anywhere else.
8. Reading right now? Blake by Peter Ackroyd. It's been sitting in the book box by the side of the bed for a few months and I've only just settled down to read it because it's the kind of book that demands your attention.
9. Four words to describe yourself. Well, it has to be five words doesn't it? Mad But Not Actually Dangerous
Take out the one you don't like, but I suggest you leave in the end two!
10. Guilty pleasure? The Archers
11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? Tom and Jerry. I can't remember a time when I wasn't hooked.
12. Favourite spring thing to do? Spot the first lamb of the year. When I was a child , the neighbouring farm used the field next to us for lambing. Not those cute white fluffy lambs. The small, hardy ones with black faces and legs. And attitude.
13. Planning to travel to next? Back across the border, later today. Humph.
14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Breakfast yesterday. Homemade bread, toasted. Local butter and homemade marmalade. Doesn't get better.
15. When did you last get tipsy? New Year's Eve. Comfortably numb.
16. Favourite ever film? The Italian Job. Original version. It never fails to make me laugh. Other stuff comes and goes but that just sticks.
17. Care to share some wisdom? Wisdom? If only I had some for myself... but here goes:
Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching.
18. Song you can't get out of your head? Up on the roof. James Taylor.
19. Thing you are looking forward to? Friends and family coming to stay for the Hay Festival in a couple of weeks, including my smashing son. Next week, visiting my daughter, hoping for good weather to sit by the Cam and enjoy a picnic.
20 If money were no object, where would you choose to live? There would become Here faster than the speed of light.