It’s My baby and I’ll have One if I want to!

I get scared to ask for ketchup sometimes in restaurants. It’s some kind of social awkwardness , I get all hot and bothered and psyche myself up then just  smile when the waiter comes over.

I’m getting better but my poor husband and best friend have really bore the brunt of this little issue over the past 20 years (sorry guys)

Let’s imagine that ketchup is one end of the scale, then in the middle we can have people who comment on your lunch whilst your eating it, with phrases such as ‘ew what is that!’ ‘Omg I could never eat that!’ and, my personal  favourite ‘I’m sorry but that looks foul’ Then right at the other end  of our scale reside the people who have no problems in asking all about why you haven’t had another baby yet.

I have been keeping tally for two weeks, and do you know how many times I have been asked, 11, 11 times!

I don’t think it’s the question so much, but the guff that comes after it ‘Won’t your daughter be lonely’ ‘She will end up spoilt’ ‘I think you’ll regret it’ ‘I felt like that till I had my 12th’ ‘But they need a brother and sister’ .

My response to all this is simple. Piss off.

I am not a sensitive flower, I am an open person and it takes a lot to offend me. But the suggestion that my daughter will end up some pampered , damaged, lonely, un-supported brat if I don’t have another child makes me fume.

We have no right to question one of the most intimate and private decisions that a couple have to make. It is absolutely none of our business.  We do not need to  know why any one has zero children, one child, three children or ten.

There are people in my life who dying to become parents. People who are having the most horrendous time. There are people in my life who can’t imagine having any children,  it isn’t for them. There are people in my life who just can’t and every time they are asked it is like the knife is twisted a bit deeper. There are people who are un-decided. There are people who are on their fourth and may only stop when the eggs run out.

And you know what it never was and it never will be any of our business.

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Breast is best ?

Lately I have seen many posts on social media about breast milk v formula, memes , opinions, facts, horror stories blah blah blah

And I would like to give you all my opinion. Please bear with me as I feel really strongly about this and want to share my inner most thoughts ………

Piss off twats , it’s my baby, my body, my choice.

Thank you 💋

The Salute – A Women’s Day Poem.

To you,  for carrying on even when your heart was being ripped from your soul

To you, for being the best mother to a child that needs you more than we can ever imagine

To you, for fighting a battle that is unfair and cruel and that I know has torn the sparkle from your eyes

To you, who turned a horrendous negative into a beautiful positive

To you, who stayed for all those years . I understand now

To you, who anxiety tried to drown,

To you, who is waking and facing the dark beast everyday through red stained lips

To you, whose knowledge and need to help others inspires me

To you, who blames yourself for something that can never, ever, be your fault

To you, who came out the other side and got your fairytale

And to you, who made me realise what ‘I’d die for you’ really means

I salute you

The Heroines of my world xxx

#me too

To the girl in the corner,

It always amazed me that you had taken my performing arts class. You would always sit in the back, in your prison issue, pale blue slightly dirty, sweatshirt. You never really said much. I look back now and I really hope you were listening.

We were putting on a play. The main parts had been given out to the ones who wanted them. You were in the stage hand team if I remember. We rehearsed in a dump of a workshop. It was next to a loud and bustling recycling workshop and that is what he was in charge of.

I am going to call him Mr B. I don’t want to write his name. Not because I am scared to, not because I don’t want to upset him, but mainly because I just don’t want to. You will know who I mean, I am guessing as will every other woman who was there that day.

Prison is a funny place, I can’t imagine what is was like for you as a prisoner but as a teacher it was surreal. You women were inmates, but you were people too and I will admit it was really hard to not build friendships with some of you. Because that’s what I think we do as women we come together. We look for allies and confidantes. Mainly because are all the same or because we carried children, or we share the same experiences. Good and bad.

Prison is filled with banter, Jesus I hate that word it is just a get out clause isn’t it, an excuse, a mask and an open invitation to say what you like,then back track when you realise you might have taken it a bit far. Like the day you were sat in the corner and I asked you to pop next door and ask if we could borrow a broom. One of the loudest and most confident women in the group took it upon herself to go with you.

Mr B decided to reply ‘ tell her she can have it if she sucks my cock’

I am so fucking sorry that you all had to hear that.

You didn’t have to tell me, the other woman told me loud and clear and made sure everyone else knew too. You just stood there.

Everything seemed to happen so quickly then. One minute I was telling you all to get in line as you had to go back to your cells, fielding off questions and comments like ‘ miss are you gonna take that?’ ‘Miss, I would slap him if I was you’ ‘Miss, bet he was joking’ ‘Miss, can you believe it’ ‘Miss. it is because he is an officer and your just a teacher’

We put on our performance, the drama course ended and you all changed activity. But you all kept on asking me ‘ What are you going to do about it’ ‘Have you spoken to Mr B’ ‘Don’t let him get away with it’

So I want to let you know, the girl in the corner, and all the other girls there. I didn’t let him get away with it. Because what he said that day was sexual harassment. It wasn’t banter, it wasn’t just how he is, and it wasn’t ok. I felt sick and vulnerable and he made me think that I was someone who wasn’t respected. But do you know what he made me feel more than anything else. Anger, pure and gut twisting to the bone anger. Because I had read your files, I knew that some of you had been in situations that I can’t even bring myself to type because they are so horrendous.  I had listened to you all taking about the domestic abuse you had suffered when we got to a part of the play that made some of you remember things you hoped you had forgotten. Anger because here you were in a prison for what ever reason and you were still witnessing a man think it is ok to say and imply anything he wants to a woman because he didn’t mean it.

I fought for you all. I took it to my union. An investigation was launched. I had to see him everyday,  telling people ‘ It was just banter’ ‘You all know what I am like’

I watched as people whispered about me ‘ How can she do this to him ‘ Mr B is such a nice bloke’ ‘What a stuck up cow she is, she flaunts all around here but can’t take a bit of banter’. And probably the most hurtful of all from a group of female officers’ She is such a twat, its not like he touched her tits!’

I had to have meetings were I was repeatedly asked why it bothered me so much, did I realise this could have serious consequences for him. Did I know what I was doing?

I knew exactly what I was doing. I was setting you all an example. We as women do not have to put up with this bull shit. We do not have to be touched to be abused. We do not have to have physical contact for it to be harassment and we most certainly do not have to accept it as banter. I won’t lie to you. The whole situation very nearly brought me to my knees. I lost people who I thought were not only my colleagues but my friends. People looked at me differently. Or they didn’t even look at me at all.

I was signed off with stress and in the end I gave up a career I loved because I could not give one more minute of my time to a place that didn’t show some of the most vulnerable women in our society that we all deserve respect and we all have a right to demand respect. About five people came to my leaving lunch and my bosses didn’t even sign my leaving card.

As the media fills with stories about how women are being brave and coming forward about their situations I often think of you in that corner. You were supposed to be in a place that protected you from that behavior. In a place that was staffed by people who were to help you, rehabilitate you and most importantly show you that there are decent people out there.

You women were the reason I acted, for you and for me and although it was a dark time in my life I want you and my daughter and my sister and my mother and all my female pupils to know I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And I will do it all over again if the situation arises.

I want you to know that there are women out there who are willing to make a stand and willing to fight for the respect and safety that we are entitled to.

Maybe a new day is on the horizon. x

 

 

 

 

 

Once Upon a Christmas fatty …..

Ah, it’s the season to be jolly! I bloody love Christmas, all of it!

The tree, the presents, the 2,3 or 4 party dresses you have to buy, the sales, the wine, the buffet, the lights, the school holidays and the promise of a new year and new opportunities and new beginnings and a whole page of your story unwritten.

But this year I feel a bit of a stirring people like our old mate Otis said ‘Change gonna come’.

You see for as long as I can remember my new years resolution has been to lose weight blah blah, new year new me! (same twat lol) how chuffing boring. I regularly get to January the 2nd (no diet ever started on new years day surely!) and buy some crazy work out gear, fill my trolley with cardboard, I mean diet food,and vow to be a new me by my birthday.

Not this year.

I am so so sick of setting un-attainable and quite frankly bollocks goals for myself that I wont reach, will depress me when I don’t and not to mention the amount of money I am wasting on said goals. So this year I am going to follow a to do list when that bell chimes on New Years eve. It looks like this

  1. Be the best person I can be in a world that is hell bent on making us all be bitches to each other

That’s it.

Because when I watched a group of children grateful and crying with happiness over a black bag of toys that the school had given them, meaning they would get something on Christmas day, and when I thought about some of the challenging times some of my family and dearest, dearest friends are going through,and when I thought about all the hatred and bullshit politics and injustice going on in this world, the sexual harassment, the corruption, the poverty and the hurt.

Not once did I think ‘ and if i was thinner all this would go away’

Merry Christmas x

 

 

 

 

Why aren’t we all on the same team?

Something has made me cross this week. In fact it pissed me off. I think I got so mad about it because I don’t understand it.  Then of course my overactive brain started thinking that the problem was much bigger than the one that caused me to have to have a two finger Twix for my tea!

I am a hard worker, and a team player. I’m not afraid to say that. I give you my best when I am at work. I do everything that is asked of me ,  and more if needed. I will work at home if I have to to achieve a goal, and I am pretty sure if you ask any boss I have worked for (apart from that stint in a Coca-Cola call centre) they will tell you the same.

What I don’t profess to be is early for work,  good at IT and I am pretty rubbish at spell checking emails, I also possibly have a habit of marking books in pink and purple because it looks nice.

However I am not a slacker, skiver or one of those lazy irritating idiots (there is a stronger word to be inserted here but I don’t want to offend either of the 2 people who possibly read my blog ) who think they work the hardest and actually do sod all, but by god they make a living out of moaning about it.

I have started a new job, well it’s not really a new job. I went from temp to permanent. I work in a school so even with my timekeeping I get there before the children come in and if I have nothing else to do, I leave after the little darlings are all safely in the hands of their parents, carer’s etc. Anything I need to do I will at home if necessary, that’s just how I roll.

So far pretty boring right, nothing to get angry about.

But one day last week I was maneuvering my car out of the school gates when someone I worked with literally threw themselves on my car bonnet (well you know what I mean) and said to me in the pouring rain, ”and where do you think your going?” I sat there in my aging Fiat and said ‘Pardon’ they then repeated as they looked at their watch ‘ Where are you going’  I replied ‘I am going home’

Was this person my boss, no

Was this person concerned for my welfare, no

Was this person checking if I was skiving- yes

I felt a red rage on the way home. Not because they were checking on the time I was leaving, I have nothing to hide, but because why aren’t we all on the same team? Why are people bothered about when others are going home? Why aren’t we saying, see you later you have worked hard today, in a tough environment that pushes us all to the limit some times.

Why are we now spying on each other ? This isn’t just about this incident, I mean yeah I was absolutely gobsmacked that this person was so interested in my comings and goings, (I might buy said person a sparkly notebook and a Parker pen, you know to help them really keep an up to date record) it is that as people we just seem to be so against each other right now.

Even in the supermarket, it really is like taking your life into your own hands. Killer trolleys, lane hogging and fights over reduced food. Even getting bashed up by people who think that it is acceptable to ram you out-of-the-way to get to their jar of Branston Pickle. Lifts! The race to get in the lift, if your inside you literally have to play challenge Anika to get out before it fills up again and you get crushed by a door! All for wanting to visit the knickers department of M and S.

Social media is a den of I am better than you, my shoes cost more, people slagging each other off for their life choices. I just can’t help but wonder when we all stopped being on the same team? why aren’t we all nicer to each other, more supportive? Why don’t we wave each other of from work and not be suspicious that we have worked one minute less than someone else.

I am by no means saying we should all start free love on the free love high way (a nod to Ricky Gervais) but I do think we need to have a serious think about how we are all treating each other.

And who knows the world might just be that bit brighter for us all. (well at least when we want to look at knickers anyway.)

 

 

You can be anything you want sweet pea, just don’t love yourself ….

 

I was having a conversation with one of my besties, I have spoken about her before but one thing I love about this friend is that we can be completely ourselves when we speak. There are no airs, graces or fake news.

We sometimes talk about what is bothering us, we give each other invaluable advice about products that will tan you into next week or make your eyelashes grow at the speed of that hair on your chin!

But something else we often talk about is the things in our lives that are going well. The things we have kicked ass at, or the things we know we are bloody good at so we will kick ass later on.

She often wears a t-shirt saying ‘in your dreams’ and apparently in an incident she found herself in this means she loves herself.

It got me thinking about this little world we live in, as a woman it seems you can be anything you want these days, except confident.

Because surely if your confident you love yourself and are a big head. Right?

It reminded me of a time when I worked in a prison. I was a teacher so I wore my own clothes. Each morning I would put together some stylish and downright fabulous outfits and team them with the nicest mid –heel I could find (due to prison staff regulations and security reasons otherwise it would have been the full on stiletto!).

I took pride in my appearance and was, and still am, proud of how I looked. I invested time and money in myself. Why did I do that? Because it makes me happy ,it is what makes me feel comfortable, confident and I have always believed as a teacher I am a role model to the women I teach. Often I would have a conversation with the prisoners about how cheap it can be buy things that look expensive and it’s more about how you wear it than where the label is from. We would discuss how it can make you feel good and improve your mental health by focusing on you and having pride in yourself and how you look. Hey, some of those ladies even started to come to my classes with a bit of mascara on, or a bit of lippy if they could acquire it,  Am I proud of that? Hell yes I am. Did I change their lives? Who knows, that’s probably a whole new blog post for another day. But if one of those women who had had any shred of self- confidence beaten or dragged out of them left with a tiny bit more than they came in then well ,I am more than ok with that.

I am digressing……

There was a certain element of distance shall we say between some of the female prison officers and the non-uniformed staff. However, I have to point out there were some absolute gems of ladies who worked there and some who I am still very much friends with today and I salute you ladies because you’re doing a sterling and bloody great job.

There was a certain group of ladies who, well you know what ,they weren’t very nice ladies. They certainly didn’t appear to me to be in the ‘women for women’ movement if you get my drift. Any way, we used to have to smoke or Marlboro lights in a bus shelter back in those days, the glamour!

Said bus shelter was on the way to the education block so I would have to walk past there every days. At certain times said group of ladies would be enjoying a fresh air break together and they were also at times enjoying a little wondering about me and my fabulous outifts in their designated break time. Really they needed to get new material ‘Who does she think she is?’ ‘Is she dressing up to shag so and so’ ‘Why does she wear so much make up to work’ and well I won’t go into the ‘who did she bonk?’ rumour mill when I got promoted. The level was basic and the words ridiculous.

You see I walked with my head held high, I used to wave at them when they made comments and when I used to see them professionally on my own, I killed them with so much bloody kindness I made them nervous. You see I was never upset by these girls. I was angry. I was angry that the world had made them have a view of other women’s confidence as a sexual thing or a big headedness that can’t possibly be tolerated in this world. Least of all by a 20 something year old with a brilliant career and banging shoes.

I was and still am a confident woman. I am proud of my values and my beliefs and I am really happy with who I am. I believe that confidence and body confidence are two different things and I make no apologies for being this way.

I can list for you many things I am good at and never fail to answer the ‘Tell me your three greatest strengths’ question in a job interview. ?

And what I ask is so bloody wrong with that? Because I tell you if I was a guy walking past that bus shelter, you can bet your bottom dollar the comments would have been very different.

So you know what I say to the girls in the bus stop smoking their Marlbro’s back in 2008

I am Katie Howard. I dressed that way to impress myself and no one else. Don’t lower yourselves to talk smut in a public place, I wore so much make up to work because I wanted to. And trust me my lovelies I got to the top by being fucking amazing at my job, well most of the time (wink) x