The Single Swan

The Journey of a Single Mother

How to date like a millennial

Dating has changed since I landed on the dating scene a couple of decades ago (eek).   In my late teens I was wide eyed, excited and optimistic.  Gaggles of girls met packs of boys at discos, birthday parties, in pubs whilst pretending we were old enough to drink (I had some very dubious looking fake I.D.)

The university dating scene wasn’t that much different.  We met in pubs, at parties, in nightclubs, in lectures, in our halls of residence. We had face-to-face conversations.  Often drunken conversations, or short and embarrassed conversations, or a conversation with a wing-man or woman, but a real conversation nonetheless. 

Then came speed-dating.  These were still face-to-face conversations, just ruthlessly efficient conversations lasting three minutes, but speed-dating did at least give you the chance to meet someone in the flesh and talk to them, rather than just relying on a selection of photos to make an assessment of whether you might like someone. 

Internet dating sites like or e-harmony represented a bit of a shift about a decade ago.  You wrote your profile and added a few photos.  This was essentially your sales pitch, your advert, your CV and your chat up line.  The shift was that your first encounter with your prospective suitor was on-line rather than face-to-face.   This was the dating scene that I exited about eight years ago. 

I re-entered the dating scene last year only to find that the dating world is a very different place. I had to learn how to date like a millennial.

date like a millennial

First, millennials don’t date.  Millennials hook-up.  The idea of a ‘date’ always felt a bit formal and pressured.  I quite like the idea of just meeting for a coffee or for a drink after work.  Upon entering the millennials’ dating scene about eighteen months ago, I had naïvely assumed that we’d maybe kiss at the end of the date (if the date had gone well) and we’d agree to meet again, or we’d politely say “thanks for a nice evening” and then go home and neither of us contact each other again.  That’s how things used to happen.

These days you meet your ‘date’ via an app rather than in person.  Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Once, okcupid, they are all very similar.  There is a lot of swiping, a load of ‘matches’, proportionately very little text contact, and proportionately even less face-to-face contact at the end of hours of swiping. 

You see the thing about these apps is, like all social media, they are highly addictive.  They are probably more addictive than other forms of social media because there are statistics involved.   There are people on these apps who are just there to see how many matches they can get. 

Ever been on Tinder?  When you get a match and you think “oooh, somebody likes me”.  You get a little hit of dopamine – that infamous brain chemical that is released whenever you experience something pleasurable.   It feels good.  You smile to yourself and carry on swiping.  Lots of people on these apps spend hours swiping, receive hundreds of matches, hundreds of hits of dopamine but never send or respond to a message.   

I am not a normal dating app user.  I make a point of only choosing people who I would actually like to meet in the flesh and I always message my matches.  I have no interest in knowing how many random strangers like the way I look. 

Once contact is made on these datings apps and a conversation actually gets going, and it does occasionally, conversation will usually transfer over to WhatsApp.   I once had a conversation lasting over an hour on WhatsApp.  Texts back and forth, one word, two words, truncated sentences.  I looked back over the conversation a couple of days later only to realise that over 900 messages had passed back and forth between us.  It did get a little bit dirty.   That’s the weird thing, not that it got a bit dirty, but the the fact that you’d have such a long and uninterrupted conversation via text.  Why not speak to each other?  A decade ago we’d just call.  If you want to know how to date like a millennial you need to know how to spend hours on WhatsApp.

After millennials ‘hook-up’ they leave.  If they are sober enough, the tube is still running or an uber isn’t too expensive, then they may leave that evening.  If not, they will leave very early in the morning.  It has to be clear, crystal clear, that this is a hook-up, not the exciting beginnings of a new relationship when you might have brunch in bed, maybe a bit of kissing and then shower before going home. 

This is not a criticism.  There is nothing new about trying to avoid getting hurt, but millennials seem to have perfected the separation of the physical from the emotional. 

If you truly date like a millennial, you will also learn that hooking-up, no matter how good the sex or how many orgasms were had, does not determine seriousness, exclusivity or commitment.  There is no such thing as exclusivity when you truly date like a millennial. 

how to date like a millennial

Hooking-up does not mean that your partner will respond to your messages either.  There is no obligation after sex, no obligation to reply to a WhatsApp from the person you have slept with.  If you want to date like a millennial remember that, unlike in other parts of life, having the last word is the ultimate weakness as it means being the person who doesn’t merit a response.

I have met a guy a few times.  He’s nice enough but I find him quite boring. We have very little in common and very little to talk about. I don’t know that I can be bothered to see him again.  I am currently debating whether to tell him that it isn’t really working for me, or just not to reply to his messages.   If I were really dating like a millennial I would just ignore his messages – ‘ghosting’ it is called.  ‘Ghosting’ somehow feels wrong, so I will tell him.

To date like a millennial you need to have a thick skin and a cold heart!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dating like a millennial has its advantages, especially for me as a single mum who doesn’t have time to meet someone and then nurture a relationship.  I know that, by dating like a millennial, if I have no plans for Saturday night when Cygnet is with his dad I could get on an app and meet someone for a drink.  The drink will lead somewhere if I let it.  I can have an evening of escapism.  It is easier than ever before to meet up with someone and I have said before that I can see the merits in an unconventional relationship.

The thing is though, I am not sure that my skin is thick enough, nor my heart cold enough to date like a millennial much of the time.  After a while I hanker after some good old-fashioned courting. 

My Random Musings

2017 Goals: Expansion

I quite like the idea of having a theme, or one word, which sums up my New Year’s resolutions.  My word for 2016 was ‘consolidation’.   After what was, for me, a pretty shitty 2015 full of apocalyptic life changes, I wanted a year of no change.  I wanted a year of consolidation.

My resolutions were all about consolidating my new beginnings from 2015 and settling into my and Cygnet’s new life.  All in all, 2016 was a pretty good year and I can even say that I managed to abide by my 2016 resolutions.  Well, most of them anyway – I didn’t take a vitamin tablet every day, in fact I didn’t even manage a week.  I did go to the theatre more than once a month and Cygnet and I had some great times together.   I hope that 2017 will be more of the same in that regard.

This year, I’ve decided that my word, my theme, for the year is going to be expansion.  By ‘expansion’ I don’t mean that I am going to put on a load of weight, or move to a bigger flat, or get 1000 new friends on Facebook.  I mean that I am going to expand my horizons, read some more, learn to deal with things a little better, experiment, do stuff that I wouldn’t normally do, go to places I wouldn’t normally go to.  This isn’t about change, just growth.  This is about being myself – being the best version of myself more of the time.

In 2017 I am going to:

Do something new, or scary, or different every week

A high-flyer at work once said to me that to develop I needed to go to a meeting that scared me s******s and say at least three things in said meeting every single week.   This ‘high-flyer’ is likely to be running my company (which is a pretty big company) within the next couple of years and I do not have his career ambition.  There is something to be said though about putting ourselves out of our comfort zones.

I am therefore going to do something new, or scary, or different every single week in 2017.  Some of this comfort zone transgression may be at work –  it is going to have to be – I spend 40 hours a week there! I should be doing scary stuff outside of work too.

2017 GoalsScary stuff might mean doing something that I am not confident that I will succeed at.  I don’t want to be scared of failure, I want to learn from it. 

Scary stuff might mean plucking up the courage to go into the local bar on my own on a Friday night (you can read about my crisis of confidence here). 

I intend to go to places I’ve never been to before, see things I’ve never seen, experience things I’ve never experienced.  I intend to smell, taste, touch, see and hear new things. 

And, so that I remember and learn from these things, I am going to keep a list of what I’ve done.  Easy…or maybe not, but I am going to give it a go. 

Read a book a month

I used to read a lot. Now I manage about six pages a week, usually in the bath once Cygnet has gone to bed.  I miss it and I need to make time for more fiction.  One book a month feels as though it should be an achievable goal even for this time poor single, working mum.  I’ll let you know.

2017 Goals

Go to the theatre once a month

This is just me being self-indulgent. This was on my list of resolutions last year.  It is helpful to have a reminder to do things that you love, a ‘chore’ that you really want to do.  I saw some great stuff last year:  An Inspector Calls; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; 

I also saw some less than mediocre comedy and an eminently forgettable monologue which really did feel like a chore rather than a pleasure.  Sometimes you have to see the rubbish stuff to appreciate the good stuff.

Be more robust with my ex

My ex likes to get his own way.  I don’t deal with conflict well.  It makes me tense and stressed and I do everything that I can to avoid any form of conflict.  When it comes to my ex this usually means letting him have his own way.  My ex exploits my conciliatory position and demands more and more and more. 

He seems to know which buttons to press to get what he wants.  He argues aggressively and then cries.  It took me a while to recognise and write about the compliance and control in our relationship, but my ex is an emotional manipulator and I need to learn how best to cope with that.  I need to be more robust and businesslike with my ex.

Be more ‘zen’

2017 Goals

I am not entirely sure what this means or what I want ‘be more zen’ to mean.  I do know that I find dealing with my ex really stressful.  Over the course of 2016, I think I learned not to show it, but I tend to internalise that stress.

I feel the tension rising up my back like a tidal wave.  My breathing quickens.   Waves then crash relentlessly and forcefully against my back.  They surge and then circulate like a whirlpool between my shoulders.

I cannot control my ex, in fact I cannot even predict his actions, but I should be able to control how my mind and body react to him.

So, I’ve downloaded a the app Headspace, I’ve bought a yoga for stress release DVD.  I don’t yet know what will work, but there has to be something and in 2017 I intend to find my coping mechanism.  I’ll try anything twice, and if all else fails…

…I’ll just drink more wine. 

Happy New Year!

You Baby Me Mummy
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2017, a tentative welcome

January 1st always used to bring a great deal of pressure with it.  On the day when my resolutions to eat healthily, to drink less, to be more productive and to be more sensible with my money were supposed to start, I invariably had a stinking hangover which could only be cured by a full english breakfast and paracetamol rinsed down with a vodka, lime and soda.  At around 3pm, when I finally emerged permanently from under my duvet, I might check my bank balance, only to realise that my cash card, as well as my body had taken a hammering the night before.   My noble New Year’s resolutions were a distant memory.  I had failed at the first hurdle…again.

In December 2015, as the New Year approached, and to an extent in 2016, I have been willing the New Year to arrive.  2015 was a year of what felt like apocalyptic change:  I became a single mum when my son was a mere five months old; I separated from my fiancé; I cancelled my wedding; we sold our house; I bought a flat; I returned to work when my son was seven months old.  By December, I was starting to feel a bit more human after the assault of 2015 and I was willing the year to end.

2016 was to be a year of ‘consolidation’.  I knew that I couldn’t cope with any more change.  Cygnet and I needed to settle into our new home.  I needed to make the most of our time together and I needed to make the most of my time alone.  I needed to take stock, to rebuild, to grow roots and to find my inner balance (I’m a Libran and Librans like balance). 

2016 has felt better.  I won’t look back on 2016 as the toughest year I’ve known, which is good, but it certainly hasn’t been the easiest one. 

For me, personally, 2016 hasn’t been a bad year. 

Cygnet is just awesome and is happy, healthy and developing a fun personality.  He couldn’t be better.  He could be with me more and I wish he were with me more, but he, himself, as a person and as my gorgeous little boy couldn’t be more perfect. 

My ex, Cynget’s father, has at times been really challenging.  Ending a relationship with someone who is selfish, controlling, narcissistic, angry and bitter was never going to be easy.  Co-parenting with this person was always going to be a mammoth task.  Gradually however, I am learning how to deal with him.  I am learning how to respond to his relentless and some might say bullying emails.  I am learning to stand my ground, slowly. 

Despite all of the good stuff and my personal progress, 2016 will be etched in our collective memories as the year that the world changed…for the worse. 

2016 has been a year when politics has been laced with tragedy. Brexit shocked me.  The fact that logic and rational argument did not prevail depressed me, but what angered me was the racism and violence that the Brexit vote appeared to condone.

Just as we were starting to recover from our Brexit depression, a carrot-coloured racist, misogynist, politically inexperienced fanatic won the US presidential election and in 2017 will become the most powerful man on earth.    

2016 has seen the death of incredible talent and of our idols: David Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen (although he had a good innings), Carrie Fisher and George Michael.  It is almost as though they had a premonition that the world is going to be a scary place in the future and that the best option was to bail out quick.  We will miss their talent.

2016 has also been a year of terrible atrocity.  Starvation in the Yemen and executions of innocent civilians in Syria have just, but only just, made it to our news feeds.  The greatest tragedy of 2016 has been our inability to see beyond our social media feeds and our own political turmoil to see the tragedy on someone else’s doorstep. 

a tentative welcome

I fear that 2017 may not be very different.   It could even be worse.  Trump will take up the US presidency, the Brexit negotiations will progress, or regress, depending which newsfeed you read.  I can’t see a quick and positive end to the conflict in Syria or the situation in Yemen. 

2017, I bid you a tentative welcome, but although I welcome you, my welcome is for personal reasons only.  In my own small world I am going to achieve great things in 2017, but we live in the big bad world, and I don’t think that in 2017 this big bad world is going to become a better place.

P.S.  Coming soon – some noble resolutions for 2017. 

You Baby Me Mummy
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On real life and motherhood

We all had a plan, possibly quite a vague plan, but a plan nonetheless.   I had planned to have a nice house, a stable job, a happy relationship, a marriage, two healthy and happy children.   Then real life happened.

I have many of those things. 

I have a nice flat.  I have a stable job.  I have a happy relationship (with myself, but lets not underestimate the importance of being happy in our own company).  I have a healthy and happy son.  I also have a great relationship with my family – a relationship that is better than it was a few years ago. 

But, my life certainly hasn’t gone to plan and that is because you cannot plan real life. 

real life

When you were pregnant, you probably had plans of lazy days spent with your baby.  You had dreams of gurgling kisses, of warm cuddles, of snoozy satisfaction, of the scent of your sweet breastmilk lingering in the air and on your baby’s head. 

I am not criticising.  We all had these plans.  We somehow don’t believe the literature, and friends who warn us of how damn tough it can be. 

Real life, the stuff that you are living now, is the sleep deprivation that comes with having a new born who feeds every two hours.  Real life is the fear of failure that you will not be the perfect parent.  Real life is the colic, the reflux, the crying, the projectile vomiting.  Real life is your worries and anxieties.  You don’t plan this stuff.  You can’t plan this stuff.   None of us can. 

Real life with a toddler (where I am now) is tantrums in the supermarket. Real life is Cygnet’s refusal to eat without the iPad in front of him and my anxieties about his fussy eating preventing me from setting the right rules.  Real life is Cygnet climbing into my bed at midnight, waking me at 2am and then at 4am and then not being able to open my eyes when the alarm goes off at 6:30am to wake me for work. 

The highs are Cygnet’s laughter, his developing speech, his love of books, his warmth, his perception and his inexplicable delight at being taken to a big sandpit even in the icy cold winter. 

Real life is the fact that our greatest achievements are borne out of our greatest challenges.

Real life is the bit that happens between the extreme highs that we are perpetually searching for.

You will look back on this time and you will recognise how damn hard it has been and you will give yourself a pat on the back, because not only have you got through it, you are doing fantastically.  You are doing amazingly.   You may not think so because some days you may not even be able to get dressed in the mornings, let alone leave your house, but believe me, you are doing just fine. 

Real life, those colicky sleep deprived hours between the gurgling kisses, is what makes life worth living.  Without the tough times, we don’t recognise the easier bits.  Without the challenge we cannot feel the achievement.  Without the lows, we don’t have the highs. 

You may feel low now, but trust me when I tell you that because of these low times, your highs will feel so much higher.   

Co-parenting : what is best for our child ?

I haven’t written about co-parenting recently.  I’d like to be able to report that all is going swimmingly, that we are working well together and that we are doing what is best for our child.  That’s the goal obviously, but then this is real life, and as we all know, real life doesn’t like to follow a smooth path. Real life seems to object to a plan.

It’s been nearly two years since we separated and we have been living apart for 18 months trying to navigate this co-parenting journey.  A lot of the time, although we may have the same agreed destination (what is best for our child, our son), it feels like we have a different map.

All co-parenting, divorce and separation literature is quite clear that both parents have to do what is in the best interests of the child.  This is indisputable really; it’s a no brainer.  Both my ex and I would wholeheartedly agree that our son is the centre of our separate universes and that his best interests are primary.   The problem is that we both seem to have very different ideas about what is best for our child. 

Take a recent example, a recent obstacle in the road if you like.  We have just about been managing to work to the same schedule for a year.  This schedule involves Cygnet spending every Tuesday night with his daddy and one night and one day at a weekend.  This means that Cygnet gets to see both of us frequently and gets to spend quality time with both of us every weekend. 

It can be a bit tricky: we are always operating to an agreed handover time;  our activities have to fit into the allocated time slot, but it is working.  Cygnet spends time with both of us frequently and for a two year old with no real concept of time, ‘frequently’ feels really important. 

Cygnet’s daddy wants to change things. 

what is best for our child

He wants to go to an alternate weekend schedule whereby Cygnet spends the whole weekend with one or other parent.  This is not an unusual arrangement for separated parents, but Cygnet is barely two and I think he is too young to be able to understand these longer periods of time and will suffer from not seeing one or other parent so frequently.  I think the current schedule is working for Cygnet and I see no reason to change it.  My ex disagrees.  Therein lies the problem; we both have different ideas about what is best for our child. 

After some negotiation over at least three months, we have now just about come to agree that we will need to change the schedule anyway when Cygnet starts pre-school in about nine months time and this will be the time to introduce the alternate weekends.  Arriving at that agreement was long and painful. 

Another recent example was the fraught discussion that we had about Christmas.  Cygnet spent last Christmas Day with his daddy.  You can read about my first Christmas Day as a single mum here.  I had assumed, naively as it turns out, that we would do the reverse this year and that Cygnet would spend the day with me.  Anger and fireworks followed as my ex argued that I had no right to assume anything and that he felt that I was always dictating plans. 

Negotiations have been tricky.  I can honestly say that I have learned more about negotiation, diplomacy, calm influencing and which battles to fight through negotiation with my ex over the last few months than I have in fifteen years of work. I am learning from my mistakes.  Co-parenting with a narcissist requires extra consideration, planning and objectivity, but lets not go into that again here. 

What has struck me most on this co-parenting journey so far has been my inability to predict how my ex will react.  He is predictably unpredictable and that’s about it.  Some days he is angry and I receive long, passionate and illogical emails and text messages.  Some days, when he says things aren’t going his way, he cries.  He is a master of manipulation.  He is like a wounded dog, licking his wounds and seeking sympathy one minute and barking and biting angrily the next. 

At other times, he is totally reasonable.  He’s agreeable and easy to talk to.  He puts his position across in a clear and straightforward manner and I can feel that an agreement is within reach.    

The thing about divorce and separation is that you no longer share a life with your ex.  You share a child with your ex, but you live totally separate lives.  I don’t know therefore when my ex has had a bad day at work, has a cold, has had two flat tyres in one week, has had a big argument with his mother or his sister (I know this happens a lot).  I do know that all of these things will influence how he is with me.  I am still his metaphorical punch bag most of the time, but unlike when we were living together I cannot foresee the punches. 

What we have managed to do, just about, is avoid having any difficult conversations in front of Cygnet.  There have been a couple of occasions when I have had to say to my ex that we cannot have a conversation in front of Cygnet.  I did once ask my ex to leave because things were getting a little tense in Cygnet’s presence.  Most of the time though we manage to make sure that Cygnet is the centre of our joint attention when the three of us are together.  I guess we should give ourselves a pat on the back for that.

It feels like the co-parenting journey has already been long, but I know that we have only just set off.  There are many twists, turns, obstacles bumps in what will be a very long road.  It is going to be hard work.  I am going to have to maintain my calm, concede in some areas and stand my ground in others.  I do know that Cygnet is worth it.  He is worth every single second.


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

“There’s so many dreams I’ve yet to find”

I’m feeling contemplative, reflective, pensive, and maybe just a tiny bit morose.  Carole King’s masterpiece, So Far Away, is playing. It is one of my favourite songs.  I am on my second glass of a heavy red wine.

“You’re so far away.  Doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more ? It would be so fine to see your face at my door.” 

The lyrics make me remember the good times. For me, So Far Away is not just about distance, it is about time.  Can I suggest you listen to Carole’s melodies as you read the rest of this post?:  

I remember my mother dressing me, in a red skirt and a red jumper.  I can only have been about three.

I remember swinging high on the swing which hung from the apple tree in our small garden.  The red bike that my dad had rescued from a local dump, renovated, painted red and stuck stickers on lay on the grass near the tree.

I remember lying in bed with my grandmother and my sister.  My dad walked in to tell us that we had a baby brother. 

I remember Sunday family roast followed by rhubarb crumble and custard when we were children. 

I remember my mum taking me to an art gallery when I was off school following an operation on my hand.   

I remember writing to Jim’ll fix it.  He didn’t.  Thankfully. 

I remember being in love.  I remember us being the only people at some stunning Mayan ruins in Mexico. 

I remember telling the man I loved that I wanted us to split up.  A butterfly cannot thrive unless it is set free.  He* sobbed. 

I remember looking at the Imam Mosque in Esfahan, Iran and being overcome by the grace and beauty of the dome.   

I remember looking down at the newborn baby on my stomach and not really knowing what to feel. 

I remember looking down at my son as he breastfed.  I remember him looking back up at me and pausing to smile.   

I remember lying on the floor next to my son sobbing because I had failed to give him the happy family childhood that I had had. 

I remember the wonder on my son’s face the first time he played in proper sand on a beach.

I remember doing the ‘toilet bowl’ flume at Center Parcs with my sister and being worried that she might miscarry her 14 week old foetus.  She didn’t, but we still shouldn’t have done it. 

I remember watching my son look at his new cousin with curiosity and puzzlement.

“There’s so many dreams I’ve yet to find” (sic). 

Yes, indeed, Carole, there are so many dreams that I have yet to find.  Bring on 2017 and another new dawn.

There’s so many dreams I’ve yet to find

* He is not Cygnet’s father. 


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Democracy has an ugly face

This was supposed to be an optimistic post. I was going to try to reassure you that all will be okay even though Donald Trump has just been voted into the White House in the United States presidential elections.  I have been trying to reassure myself. 

I woke at 5:40am GMT on Wednesday 9 November.  Trump’s victory was certain, if not secured, and I felt sick.  I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.  I still do.

Since then, I have been trying to reassure myself and everyone that I speak to that all will be okay, that he cannot achieve his promises, that his words were just hollow lies: 

“He can’t build a 2000 mile long wall along the Mexican border in 4 years, it has taken them a year to build a cycle path on the road outside my flat.” I quipped.

“Trump is after all a politician and we can rely on politicians to promise one thing, then deliver something else entirely.”  I said flippantly.   

“Don’t worry, Trump, will be reliant on the civil service, and if there is one truth about any civil service it is that it can’t do anything quickly”  I joked.   

But, I have been kidding myself…deliberately. I have been trying to ignore the truth, to hide from reality in some vain hope that this is all just a bad dream and will go away.

During his campaign Trump promised to …

  • …lock up his opponent;
  • …go after the women who claimed he sexually assaulted them;
  • …slash taxes;
  • …abolish Obamacare;
  • …scrap environmental legislation;
  • …deport all illegal immigrants. 

We can debate whether Trump will actually be able to do all of these things. We can question whether he’ll even attempt half of them.  But we are missing the point.  By focussing on what Trump may or may not deliver during his Presidency, we are turning a blind eye to the fact that Trump has won an election with overt lies, sexism, racism, misogyny and bullying.  We are turning a blind eye to the xenophobia and intolerance that Trump has encouraged.

democracy has an ugly face

We have seen the triumph of a man who consistently smears the lives of muslims.

We have seen the election of a President who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. 

We have seen that liars are victorious.

We have seen that bullies do in fact win.

We have seen that women are objects to be looked at, groped, objectified and used for a man’s sexual gratification.

We have seen the triumph of a man who used the national stage to defend his sexual prowess. 

We have seen that racism is not just supported but celebrated. 

Most troubling, if it can get worse, is that after the election we’ve seen Trump’s victory give a mandate for free and uninhibited violence and racism.  In the same way that post Brexit in the UK, we saw Polish shops vandalised, we saw mosques graffitied, we saw open abuse of muslims on public transport.  In the US, Black and muslim students have been threatened and graffiti says “Trump, whites only, white America”.

How do we teach our children that everybody is equal, that difference should be embraced and celebrated, that justice will be victorious when Trump is now the most powerful man in the world? 

Trump may not carry through on his promises, in fact I would bet that he doesn’t even attempt most of them, but this doesn’t make the Trump phenomenon okay.  We are at the beginning of a new era of global intolerance and isolationism. 

Do not ignore this.  Do not try to put it out of your mind.  Do not try to reassure yourself that all will be okay. If we ignore this then Trump will become the new norm.

This is democracy and sometimes democracy has an ugly face. 

P.S.  Leonard Cohen, and it isn’t the first time I have written about Leonard Cohen on this blog, died this week. You can listen to some sublime poetry by Leonard Cohen, THE master of baritone melody, singing about democracy in the USA, here:  

And then the fun began...
My Random Musings
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Conversations in a public toilet

Cygnet:  “Mama wee wee red”

Me: no reply

Cygnet: “What’s that?”   

Me: pause

Cygnet:  “What’s that Mama?”

Me: Sigh, “It’s Mama’s”

Cygnet: “What is it? “

Me: Sigh, “It’s a tampon sweetheart, it’s Mama’s”

Cygnet: “tampon”

conversations in a public toilet

Cygnet: “Mama did a noisy bottom”

Me: “Thank you sweetheart”

Cygnet:  “Mama done a poo”

Me: “No, Mama’s not done a poo, Mama’s done a wee wee”.

Me:  “ Cygnet put the toilet brush down”   “Put the toilet brush down” “LEAVE IT” “PUT IT DOWN”

Cygnet:  “Mama’s got a dirty bottom”

Me:  “No Cygnet, it’s not dirt, it’s hair”

Cygnet:  “Mama’s got a hairy bottom”

Me:  ….thinks, I should have thought of that.


Life Love and Dirty Dishes
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How to find out what someone is really like

Two thoughts enter my head every time I see my ex which, unfortunately, because we are in a ‘co-parenting relationship’ is at least twice a week.  These are:

Thank God I am not married to this man. 

In 6 years that we were together, yes, you read that correctly, we were together for 6 years, how on earth did I not see what an a******e he really is? 

Now that I am back on the dating scene again I am really worried that I won’t be able to spot the clues that will tell me that my future date, my future boyfriend, my future partner, or god forbid, my future fiancé or husband, is in fact controlling and self-obsessed like my ex.  I can’t risk entering another controlling relationship with a Prince Charming type.  I need to be able to find out what someone is really like. 

These, my friends, are some clues, and I for one, will be looking out for these clues as I continue my single mum on the dating scene adventures.    

what someone is really like

These are ways to find out what someone is really like:   

Observe how they treat waitresses

First dates are quite often in restaurants or bars.  Observe how your date treats the bar or waiting staff.  Does he dismiss them and look down on them, or is he polite and respectful ?  We are all people and just because we are paying doesn’t make us more important, more intelligent or superior.

Observe how they treat those who can do nothing for them

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (a 19th century German poet, novelist, playwright, natural philosopher, civil servant and all-round super impressive bloke)  is said to have written:

 “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”  

These words are so true, if your date doesn’t give others the time of day, and focusses his efforts on those who will reward him then steer clear.  Run a mile. 

Observe how they treat their mother

Read my blog post on why you should marry a man who loves his mother.  Ultimately a man will treat you the way he treats his mother.  She deserves love and respect, but your date should be able to stand up to his mother.

Observe how they cope with a set-back

This is a tough one because we all struggle with set-backs.  Whilst it is true that out of our greatest challenges come our greatest achievements, we can only see this with hindsight.  Stay clear of a man who blames others for his set-backs.  Steer clear of someone who makes his own light shine brighter by extinguishing the light of others. 

Break up with them

Sometimes, I’m afraid to say, that the only way to find out what someone is really like is to break up with them.  Your date may be a charmer and a master of façade.   You want the relationship to work, you want it to work so much that you are blind to the clues.  When the relationship ends your ex turns out to be a vile individual lacking in morals, integrity, compassion, empathy or a sense of fairness.

Sometimes, we only find out what someone is really like when a relationship ends.

If only we could break up with someone before we start dating them…

Brilliant blog posts on

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A crisis of confidence

One of the few advantages of co-parenting, and trust me when I tell you that there are not many, is that two nights a week when Cygnet stays with his Dad I can go out without having to fork out for a babysitter.

In reality, I work late on one of those nights and by the time I finish work I am too tired to do anything other than sit on the sofa and drink wine.  On the other night, I always make sure I go out.  Just because I can.

Tonight came round very quickly and I hadn’t made plans.  My delightful ex collected my son at 6pm and I was left in my flat on my own. 

Although a plan is clearly better, not having a plan has never stopped me from going out before.  I put my hair up, painted on some red lipstick to hide the fact that I hadn’t changed out of my scruffy jeans or plain black t-shirt and left the flat with my laptop.  I would go to one of my local bars, order a glass of Prosecco and write a blog post, just as I have many a time before.

Except tonight was different. 

I peered into the local pub and it was full of large groups of people laughing and chatting.  I felt self conscious and conspicuous sitting on my own in front of my laptop.  I decided against it. 

I walked passed the local gin bar (and an excellent gin bar it is too).  I planned to sit at the bar with my laptop and a large Hendricks and tonic (always Fever Tree).  But this evening the tables around the bar were candlelit and occupied by dating couples.  Again I felt too self conscious and I didn’t go in. 


I went to the local Italian restaurant where I have been known to occupy a table by the window, order a penne arrabiata and read my book.  But this evening it was full of families, of groups of friends, and of work colleagues having an early evening meal.  Again I didn’t have the confidence to go in.

In the end I walked to Waitrose.  Red lipstick is not my normal supermarket attire and the man who serves me my daily free coffee noticed and smiled.  Again, Jesus, I felt self conscious.

I walked round Waitrose, picked up some sushi, a yoghurt, some grapes, and decided to buy myself a bunch of flowers with the money that I was going to save by not buying Hendricks or Prosecco. 

I am now sitting at home.  I have eaten my sushi, my yoghurt and some grapes.  My flowers are in a vase on the side board and I am drinking wine whilst writing this blog post. 

I sure hope this crisis of confidence doesn’t last long.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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