My Mother’s Sofa

She lived in the city of Mozart, so rococo was second nature. She chose a sofa so redolent of Baroque features, it rolled out of the warehouse on its many curves and swirls. It came to rest in our living room, all carved curlecues, easy to bang the back of head against when your laughter pealed out. Not that there was much laughter in that house.

Within days the burnt ochre leather caused heartache and questioning. Too bright? What would the neighbours say about the ripeness of that shade? Would they sit and tug and scratch it whenever they came to visit? But very few people ever entered our house.

Better safe than sorry, though. So she covered it in green velvet, tailor-made cover with frills so rich, it could stand up by itself when you took it off for washing. Those frills swept all the way down to the arched wooden legs, even as they yearned away from under the stifle, all tip-toe. So hard to vacuum underneath.

A few months later she realised the velvet might get worn too quickly, that she might require a new cover …oooh, say every ten years or so. In came the casual throw, loosely draped over the pool-table green. Cheap polyester cream with tassles and shiny stripes, too thin to keep its distance when backsides sunk into it. My mother was fanatic about cotton, but hated ironing, so polyester made do. It clung to clothes, turned static, and we spent most conversations not actually seated on the sofa, but straightening out its multiple covers.

But I digress. After decades of discomfort, my father’s weary bones can no longer keep that horror in our house. But it’s an expensive horror and we want to ensure that we get the best possible price for it. For Sale: Baroque Sofa, Nearly New.

Back in the Saddle with 2017 Reasons to Go, Go, Go!

Happy New Year to everyone! No sooner have we drawn a collective sigh of relief that the seemingly cursed 2016 is over, then we realise that 2017 carries the hangover of 2016’s unresolved problems plus bringing many new ones of its own.

The loss of so many cultural heroes has saddened me, but I wonder if some of  us are mourning something more than that: a loss of innocence, perhaps, and the triumph of cynicism and mediocrity. I haven’t felt this traumatised since the early 1990s in Romania, when the initial euphoria over the burial of the old world order degenerated into frustration and puzzlement as the new order refused – despite repeated additional chances we gave it – to show anything truly new or valuable.

My Christmas was surprisingly calm, even though it was a calm based on avoidance. The atmosphere was equally as indifferent and frosty as over the past 4-5 years, but this time it was not thwarted with dashed expectations. So I read a lot and ran my own programme of events (some by myself, some with the youngsters) without worrying about keeping the rest of the family fed, washed, educated and entertained (OK, I still had to do the first three, but I did it less obsessively than in previous years).

I know I should have some goals or resolutions for the New Year, and that sharing them here might mean I stand a better chance of actually achieving them. And yet, like every year, I have just the one resolution (or call it hope): that 2017 is going to be my best year yet, the year of changing and growing and learning… and finding the odd moments of contentment, peace and satisfaction.

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent. (Mignon Mclaughlin)

I have 2017 reasons to make the most of this next year. No, don’t worry, I won’t share them all with you! Merely the first two, the greatest of my reasons: two rapidly growing boys who deserve to know a happier, more optimistic, more successful, less resentful, more active, healthier mother than she has been over the past 6-7 years (for more than half of their lives).



Weekend Fun: How Our Mothers See Us…

A few weeks ago on Twitter two wonderful writer friends and I were debating the prevalence of selfies, whether we like to have our pictures taken or not… Then either Anna Fonte @girlinthehats or Courtney Bluebird @bluebirdblvd had the idea ‘What would a picture of ourselves taken by our mother look like?’ In my case: frightening.

Answer below.


Half-sober, half-crazy. Half-angel, half-devil. Angry, tarty, difficult. Too much make up, too much hair colour. Too fat and not eating all the healthy foods. But well-read and professional on a good day, thanks to the education they have given me.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Now over to you, ladies!

What I Never Was

I never was my mother          except

when I distort the truth and tell

strange tales that no one else can fit

in nor recognise nor believe.

I never will be my mother

but when I feel that vice is gripping              whispering

‘bereft of friends’

I wonder: is that an echo of her whingeing?

No reflection of my mother              except

grey-peppered hair, turgid jaw,

or does my voice harshen when I offer

praises lethally counterpointed with ‘but’?

We are strangers on drifting shores

each other’s greatest disappointment.

Yet darkness floods us both alike.

If we could mention it

there might be hope.