Post in association with NatWest

A couple of weeks ago I found myself sat alone at the bar of a members’ only club in London, sipping prosecco and feeling that heady mix of nervous and excited as I messaged my family WhatsApp group.

‘What are you doing in London?’ asked my sister Annabel.

‘I’m going to a speed dating session being run by NatWest to show how easily you can be emotionally vulnerable to online scams,’ I told her. ‘I was MADE for this.’

‘Do the other daters know,’ asked Annabel, ‘or is the assignment to go in and try and scam them?’

‘I think they have to scam ME,’ I said, ‘but I know there’s going to be ‘a twist’. A behavioural psychologist is going to be there. Maybe they just watch and laugh at how gullible I am??’

‘You’re going to get so scammed,’ she said.

‘I’m going to get scammed RIGHT UP,’ I agreed. ‘Hopefully someone will step in before I hand over any cash.’

tips to avoid being scammed

Because I wasn’t joking when I said I was made for this experiment. View Post

You know when something happens that just makes you despair of humanity? Well that.

Here’s what happened. (I deleted the actual messages as I was so cross, so this is roughly what went down.)

I had arranged a brunch date with a guy I met online. We’d exchanged a few messages, but he seemed keen to meet. Fine. All good. And then I got a cold, which turned into a horrible cough. Anyone who knows me knows I get horrible coughs. I had visions of coughing and spluttering eggs benedict in his face.

It was not sexy.

So a few days before we were due to meet I let him know that I wasn’t feeling well.

‘Are you trying to tell me something?’ he said.

‘Well yes,’ I replied, ‘I’m trying to tell you I’m not well. I wanted to warn you, in case I didn’t get better.’

‘Right,’ he said, ‘only if you’re fobbing me off then I’d rather you were just up front about it.’

‘I’m not fobbing you off,’ I said, bristling. ‘I have a cough. I’m telling you, that’s all. Would you like an audio file?’

‘It’s just that six ladies since November have suddenly developed coughs a couple of days before we’re meant to go out, so I’d rather you were just honest with me if you’re going to cancel and then I’m never going to hear from you again.’

I was annoyed. I don’t care how many people have said what to him. That’s not me is it?

online dating View Post

‘Is the heating going to be on?’ Belle asked me as we were on our way home yesterday evening.

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I put it on earlier for the cats. In case they got cold.’

She looked at me.

‘The cats who spend the whole night outside and are covered in fur?’ she asked, eyebrows raised.

‘Yes,’ I said, feeling a bit silly, ‘I didn’t want them to be sad.’

AND THERE WE ARE.

Welcome to my new life, in which I spend an unreasonable amount of time every day worrying about whether or not my cats are happy. Because how exactly do you know if a cat is happy? What if they are bored? What if they get lonely and miss me but don’t know how to tell me? What if they wish I’d leave the radio on, or would like a different blanket?

Every time I leave the house I wonder if they’ll be sad, not knowing when I’m coming back, (I do tell them but I never see them write it down), or if when I DO come back they will have forgotten me. It can be hard with cats because they often don’t give a lot away. A dog will make it very clear how happy he is, but cats play it much cooler. Someone on Twitter said to me recently that cats can actually understand and speak English, they just CHOOSE not to. I feel like this could be true.

I know I’m doing all the basics – they’re microchipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and worms regularly and have a balanced diet, (WHISKAS® ‘creamy soups’ are their favourites, and I find it adorable that they are called ‘creamy soups’), but how about their emotional wellbeing? Are my cats happy?

When you look at it rationally, they do seem pretty content.

They mainly lie around on top of me on the bed like this:

How do I know if my cats are happy?

View Post

When your children are small, you imagine a chart that looks something like this:

important advice as a parent

And then they grow up and you realise it’s actually more like this:

important advice as a parent

Oh. View Post

At the moment for book group we are reading A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. It centres around a family of four children and the generations either side, and how we live as part of a family and how that shapes us.

At one point in the book the mother, Abby, makes a comment about parenting. She says ‘you can only ever be as happy as you unhappiest child.’ I don’t think this is a new statement, but I hadn’t heard it before and it made me stop, put down the book, and think about it for a little while.

Is it true? Can you only ever be as happy as your least happy child?

as happy as your least happy child

Initially it stopped me because I thought perhaps it was one of those simple, throw away lines that perfectly captures something very true. We all want our children to be happy after all, and it’s not nice when they aren’t, but the more I thought about it, the more I disagreed with it. I mean, no offence to my children, because I think they are amazing and beautiful and strong and everything, but they aren’t always the HAPPIEST of people.

I decided I have two problems with it: View Post

I’ve been single now for coming up five months.

On the one hand I am perfectly happy – work is good, I’m settling into my house, and have the kitties obviously. Who could fail to be happy with three cats of their very own to stroke every single day? I love being able to do everything on my own terms, have all the kittens on the bed without anyone raising their eyebrows at me, spend all my spare money on yellow velvet armchairs from eBay, all that jazz.

But also sometimes I feel lonely.

When I say this to people, or words to this effect, there isn’t a huge amount of sympathy.

‘You don’t need a man!’ people say. (Normally married people. Cheers guys.)

‘Embrace being single!’ (Okay…)

‘You’re perfectly fine just you!’ (Obviously.)

I do know all those things. I don’t NEED a man. I am perfectly capable of doing all the things that need to be done, I have loving friends and family, I can work a drill and I can kick back with a puzzle as well as the next person. I GET IT.

But still, sometimes I feel lonely.

Not in a way where I feel physically alone, but a little bit like something is missing. Just sometimes. Not like I’m sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every night or anything, but from time to time it would be nice to have someone squeeze my hand and exchange a glance that’s just for me.

And this is OKAY. View Post