Wednesday, 21 January 2015

So, you're going to be a mother? (45 weeks + 1 day)

This is a post all about feelings. I'm big into feelings. I'm big into having feelings, and sharing feelings, and analysing feelings, and LETS ALL TALK ABOUT OUR FEELINGS. I never used to be a feelings person. Feelings were for the weak; and sharing feelings? Acknowledging feelings? Even worse. Man up! And then, I had 27 years of therapy, and now I can't shut up about my feelings. I probably share my feelings a little too much now. But, anyway, big big big into feeling sharing. In fact, I'm really into communication in general. The majority of rubbish in people's lives probably stems in part from there being miscommunication at some point.

Back to the title of this post: so, you're going to be a mother? Congratulations! You have made a huge decision in wanting to have your very own tiny bundle of joy. This may have been something that you've thought about for a while; it may be something that you have planned for, meticulously; it may be something that you have had to go through incredibly lengthy processes to achieve (hi to all the adoption/fertility treatment readers out there); or, it may be a decision that the Gods have thrust upon you (oh, you guys- you're right up my street).

Anyway, no matter what your circumstances, I'm sure that you've considered all the things that await you as a future parent. Sleepless nights; the loss of your independence; forever being a slave to somebody else; all the singles- you've waved goodbye to ever meeting somebody new; never ever ever being able to just "pop out" (everything takes 5 hours to prepare for); no more spontaneous nights out... Anyway, the fact is, that you know all this. And it doesn't matter. Because your beautiful child makes up for all of the "sacrifices" that you are making. And you're right. I'm not arguing with you, you are SO right. They're not sacrifices, they're just life changes, and your life is going to be so much more amazing anyway, so you won't even want or need those things.

But- and this is quite a big but- there are other things that are going to change. Things that are more subtle. Things that nobody mentions to you (I'm not talking about your boobs- but whilst we're on the subject, you can wave goodbye to those ever looking normal again). Motherhood changes you. As a person. The way that you view the world. The way that you react to things. In a lot of ways, it toughens you up. You've got to be tough. You've got to be tough for that little person who is relying on you. That person who needs you. You're their voice, and you've got to speak for them. But at the same time it turns you into an emotional wreck.

Before Percy I was...colder. But I think that a lot of that was a bit of a guard- "you can't hurt me, because you mean nothing". I wasn't like ice queen or anything, but it took a lot more to really get to me (unless I was exhausted- you could always get to me if I was exhausted). Now, that is not the case at all. I feel. I have a huge emotional range. Vast spectrum of emotions, every day. Which I think is very healthy. It shows that I'm living; it shows that I have things that I care about; it shows that I'm not a robot.

So, I'm going to kick this off, with Guilt. Prepare to feel guilty as a parent. Prepare to feel guilty as a parent, for the stupidest reasons. Not even for significant reasons. Like, I imagine, it would be deemed "normal" for me to feel guilty about the fact that I kept Piglet, knowing that she would be deprived of a father. But, I don't really feel guilty about that. This is because:

a) In terms of "gender-typical" parenting roles, I'm more of a dad than a mum.
b) To make up for my suckiness as a mother, the ladies at nursery fill the role of mum.

So, actually, Percy has currently got a pretty balanced upbringing. No, here's the silly things that are going to make you feel guilty. You're all excited about going back to uni. You write a blog post stating how excited you are about going back to uni. You drop your baby off at nursery. You're on the way to the gym. You check your facebook. And everyone is posting things about how wonderful their babies are, and how they are everything to them, and they are their world, and YOU ARE A TERRIBLE TERRIBLE MOTHER. And then you're having an emotional breakdown on the bus, because of nothing really, because you're allowed to have a life, and be excited about going back to uni, and you really shouldn't feel guilty about that. But you do. And that is how, you end up having the best workout ever in the gym (literally running away from the guilt), and then post-workout, you find yourself in the Disney Store, buying Rolly (from 101 Dalmatians) BECAUSE YOU ARE BUYING YOUR DAUGHTER TOYS OUT OF GUILT. I buy guilt toys. I am that parent. I never thought I would be that parent. And this is only going to get worse as she gets older. This is the tip of the iceberg.

The other one that's quite embarrassing is that everything will make you Sad. So, like, for example, you can be reading the paper, with that story about the crazy invoice party lady, and feeling nothing really, until you get to the bit where it says that the little boy's friend won't play with him anymore because of the parents' dispute. And then you're a sobbing mess. You're crying into your coffee, over two children who you have never met. What is wrong with you? YOU'RE A PARENT, THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. I think it will kill me, if Percy ever comes home from school and says that somebody doesn't want to play with her. It will break my heart. It will probably affect me, more than her.

You can also look forward to developing highly inappropriate attachments to cuddly toys. And, if your child loses one of the cuddly toys, you will feel like the world is ending. They probably won't be that bothered. But you will. Trust me. It's ridiculous. It's illogical. But you will be devastated by the loss of cuddly toys. And even though you will replace them (and you will replace them, immediately), you will forever know, that it is not the same cuddly toy.

Finally, if you read "Guess How Much I Love You" to your child, you will cry at the last page ("I love you right up to the moon- and back"), every single time you read it. Now, really, it's probably acceptable the first time, because it is so ridiculously sweet. But, when it's like 8 months after you bought it, and you've read it in the region of 50000 times, you really should have gotten over this. But, no. I will cry every time. I think Percy wonders about my emotional stability when we read this story.

Bit of an update of The Life and Times of Mrs Wiggles. She actually started doing this a few weeks ago, but I've not slotted it in anywhere (what was I thinking?). She's been pulling herself up against things (sofas, tables, beds, etc) and has started "coasting" (I think that's what it's called? When they move around whilst holding onto things). She's a very clever sausage. It's quite funny though, because she's still really short, so initially I wasn't sure if she was stood up or just on her knees. I think I'll have really mixed emotions when she starts walking. Part of me will be so proud, but then part of me will be really sad, because my baby is so big now.

Anyway, to summarise- as is quite evident from everything I have said here- if you're going to be a mother, then prepare yourself for the biggest change of all: you are going to be an emotional mess.

Monday, 19 January 2015

"I may be a snotty mess with meth teeth, but at least I'm RIPPED!" AKA The End Of Maternity Leave (44 weeks + 6 days)

So, on the 20th January 2014, I left London all excited about having nothing to focus on, except for the arrival of my tiny Piglet. In spite of the fact that initially I hadn't wanted to take any time off, I was very excited about the prospect of maternity leave. Sitting around! Knitting baby clothes! Not having to use my brain! Being able to hide away and not have to let the world see how hideous I was!

Fast-forward to now. It is the 19th January 2015. And, as of today, I am officially a student again. YEAH!!!!! YEAHHHH!!!!!!! YES!!!!!

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I have honestly, never been so excited about anything in my whole entire life. I have a purpose again! MY LIFE HAS PURPOSE! MY LIFE IS MORE THAN SNOTTY SHOULDERS, AND SPIT COVERED KNEES!!!!!! Note: I am not saying that being a mother does not constitute having a purpose in life; obviously it does. I just need more. I am that person. I want everything. I am a greedy, greedy, greedy poo.

So, ahead of my much anticipated return to academic life, how did I spend the final few days of maternity leave? Have I been lounging around, sipping gin and tonics, and reflecting upon the past year whilst flicking through old photos of Piglet? Hahahaha, YEAH RIGHT! I WISH.

So, on Thursday, I received this from Student Finance (whilst I was at the gym! I feel like that makes it even worse; like they're trying to tarnish my happy place):


Yes, that's right, after months of fighting for everything, once again the bastar-... smelly people were trying to say that they weren't going to fund me (fyi, that "evidence" they're referring to with regard to funding me during my interruption was that I had "complications" during the pregnancy. I had no complications, so how can I send them evidence to state that I did...?) Hate student finance. Hate them.

It was fine though- FINE- because, I'd just managed to build a bicep at the gym (get me, I am AWESOME), so I was in a pretty good mood. I responded with (in my very humble opinion) THE BEST LETTER I HAVE EVER WRITTEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Here is the best letter I have ever written in my entire life:




Nobody is taking my funding away from me. NOBODY.

Anyway, so that was all sent off. I've mentioned that I had been in touch with uni regarding changing my circumstances to SFE and opening my registration for this year. Now, clearly, as of this point, they still hadn't spoken to SFE; and on Thursday evening, I checked if I was eligible to register for the course again yet. And this is what I was met with:


Yeah, have you spotted it? "Academic year completed"? ACADEMIC YEAR COMPLETED?! NO IT IS NOT!!! And here is where I had a breakdown. Here, is where I turned into a paranoid mess, and decided that they were all out to get me, and it was a huge conspiracy, and nobody wanted me, and I was going to have to live on benefits forever, and MY FUTURE HAD BEEN STOLEN. Honestly, I'm not exaggerating, I was a mess. That is my worst fear. Make me ugly, make me fat, make my teeth fall out (more on this later) but please, please, don't take away my bright shiny beautiful future.

Oh, I also got this on Thursday aswell:


Seriously, Thursday was a SHOCKER.

Called the gas people to ask what on earth they were taking about; how can I owe them money when I'm on a prepayment meter?! And it was an error. Cheers for that guys. There seems to be a lot of errors regarding my stuff ("that's because they're all in it together, and are trying to take you down" says the Thursday paranoia).

I'm going to take a bit of a side-step here to discuss how everything's been going with my new best friend, gym. And also Jillian. I've been shredding for January (30 Day Shred, GO AND BUY IT NOW), because Christmas semi-stole my abs, and I wanted them back. So, here is day...13?


And the abs are returning!!!! Honestly, love having abs. Never thought I would have abs. Never thought I would actually like my stomach. JILLIAN IS THE BEST.

In terms of my best boy, gym, this is what he's done for me, in three days:


LOOK AT THAT BICEP! Honestly, I didn't have that before. I had scrawny girl arms. And after 6000000 hours on the rowing machine, I've got a bicep. I'M SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS! (Seriously, in a week, my priorities will have been massively sorted out, and biceps and abs will be less "big news of the week" items).

SO, back to chronological type event things. Thursday night, Percy infected me with another cold from nursery (can I just take this moment to ask my immune system to grow some balls, and man up? SERIOUSLY, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU?! I NEVER GOT ILL BEFORE!) So, on Friday, after I had sorted the whole uni registration out- which was another "error", oh how hilarious all these "errors" are!- I went to the gym, as normal. And basically, had turned into a pathetic loser who couldn't do anything because I was ill. I tried a bit of running...and after about two miles started having chest pains (tried to run through those to start with...sometimes it goes away, but no, not on Friday); I tried a bit of rowing, but my arms were like spaghetti; I tried a bit of cycling, but I was just WEAK. So I had to leave the gym as a failure. I was crushed. I was defeated. We had only just met, and now we were being torn apart from each other! Bloody cold. BLOODY COLD!!!!

And then on Friday night, I was eating peanut butter toast (as you do, on Friday nights) and my filling came out. So now I have a HUGE hole in my mouth. (Background info- I managed to keep my teeth wonderful and pristine until just before I got pregnant with Percy when one literally cracked in half- "pure decay! pure decay!", the dentist had shouted- really wanted her to stop saying that. And now it's had to be filled about 462462 times because there really isn't enough tooth there to actually hold a filling). But it's not painful. Which google says, means that the tooth is dead. Great. A dead tooth. That's really attractive isn't it? It's a good thing it isn't painful though because, I'm actually not registered at a dentist yet (I JUST HATE THE DENTIST, OK?!), so that is on the agenda for today. I want them to take it out. I don't want a root canal, I don't want a crown, I don't want any attempt at refilling it, I just want it out of my mouth. But I want to be consciously sedated when they do it. Or I want them to give me 21565 valium first (I really do not like the dentist. I would rather have another c-section, than have a filling. Seriously. I am not a tooth person. No).

So- things can only get better right?- Saturday, I woke up and honestly could not breathe. It felt like I had a belt around my chest. Loads of chest pain, loads of upper back pain, hideous dry cough that WOULD NOT STOP EVER. Ignored it (always the best plan of action- avoid problems, don't face them), went to Asda to get baby milk, and by the time we got back from Asda, I truly thought that I wouldn't be surprised if I was having a heart attack. Googled it (I really need to stop googling things. Google is an evil, evil thing), and the NHS symptoms checker told me to call for an ambulance immediately.

Now, I was not calling an ambulance. No freakin' way was I calling an ambulance. Why was I not calling an ambulance? Because the actual likelihood of me having a heart attack was probably pretty low. I've probably just got a chest infection. Also, because I am so sick of how many times we have been to hospital, and I don't want to go to hospital, AND WHY AM I SO SICKLY AT THE MOMENT?!

It's fine now anyway. The cough has loosened up. My chest still hurts, but nowhere near as bad as it did (I may actually cheekily attempt the gym today. Burn it off. BURN OUT THE ILL!). Basically, maternity leave is not relaxing. Not even the last few days (also, the doctor that I saw last week was like "oh you're having a long maternity leave aren't you?" and I was like "NOT BY CHOICE, YOU ARE SO RUDE!") It has been nice to have all this time off, to spend with my Wiggle Pop though. And I imagine that I will probably miss it, now that it's gone (really need to fix my "always want what I can't have" complex). But right now, I'm all hopeful and optimistic. And so, so, so, so happy to be a student again (might go and buy some pens today to CELEBRATE this fact. AND NEW FOLDERS!!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, so good. SO GOOD!)


Thursday, 15 January 2015

My New Boyfriend(s) (44 weeks + 2 days)

So, I've met someone. It's a bit insane, actually. It's one of those really fast-moving, intense relationships, where you meet them, and then you don't want to spend a second apart. You're literally glued to each others sides, every hour of every day. You know, the ones where a week later, it's burnt out, you can't stand them and want them to just get as far away from you as possible? Actually... if I'm being really honest, I've met two someones like this, and I'm kind of torn between them. Maybe you can help me make my mind up?

In a lot of ways, they're very similar. Both really fit, really athletic. Own loads of weights. Really intense. And they both make me feel really good about myself. That's kind of where most of the similarities end though. The first one is really nice. Really personal; listens to everything I've got to say; always offering help if I need it, and showing me how to do things. The second is huge. HUGE (hahahaha not like that!), and offers me a lot more variety. They're kind of aloof though, and it's not as personal between us. I get the feeling that they don't really care about me as a person, like the first one does. I could be any girl for all they care. Oh, one last similarity- did I mention they're both called Jim? Apart from they spell it like this: G-Y-M. Gym.

Was that convincing? For a little while? Probably not. Oh well, I can't even lie in my writing! So, I joined the gym. Actually, I haven't joined the gym, I've been on trial days at two gyms. This was mainly because I need to train for the marathon/run so I don't lose my mind, and it is impossible to do this in the current weather. It's cold. It's icy. There is snow. I will fall and break my ankle.

I never thought I would join a gym. I was always really against stationary running. I liked moving. To me, running machines were just alien. Weird. But, after two days at gyms, I am converted. I am a believer! I BELONG TO THE CULT OF GYM. Everyone is all sweaty, and gross, and hideous and it's GREAT (as opposed to when I am sweaty, gross and hideous, and run past immaculate looking people- that is less great).

And I don't know which gym to pick. First gym is closer, but a lot smaller. First gym is more personal, but offers less classes. First gym is more expensive, but would include swimming pool for Percy (although the swimming pool is at a different site, so that's far away). I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?! (In four days- when I am back at uni- this will be the last thing on my mind. I am aware that this is a frivolous worry. But I don't care. I am going to relish in having only frivolous worries that do not affect the rest of my life, for the next four days.)

If I hadn't cancelled my Child Maintenance case, I could so have afforded to join both gyms, and have the best of both worlds... (NO HARRIET, NO. NO CHILD MAINTENANCE). I imagine I will reach a decision eventually, (although, when Student Loan eventually comes through then I probably could afford both gyms. Honestly, I really like the gym).

Percy is ill. Again. Bloody nursery. Dear everyone: do not send your baby to nursery, or they will catch every single germ known on the planet, and bring them home, and pass them on to you. She has a cold. Hence, I now have a cold. And I want to kill everyone in the world, because I hate being ill. Also, whenever Percy is ill, she does not sleep. No sleep for Percy. So, no sleep for me! And, remember like a week ago, when I was all about adopting all the babies? No. No freakin' way. No more babies for me. God, no. Just, no. No.

Finally, just a bit of an update on the whole doctor situation. So, I went to see him on Tuesday. Blood pressure was in the normal range, so then he started manhandling me (seriously, HATE going to the doctors) and said "I don't think you've got a brain tumour". I DIDN'T EVEN THINK I MIGHT HAVE A BRAIN TUMOUR, WHY ARE YOU STRESSING ME OUT LIKE THIS?! (THIS IS WHY I HATE GOING TO THE DOCTOR!). Anyway, he says he thinks my half-fainting things are migraines. But I don't have a headache? Especially not a migraine headache? I have a slight bit of headache-ness when the whole thing is occurring, but not like severe migraine pain. He's referred me to a neurologist anyway, so I've got to wait for that appointment to come through (hate hate hate hate hate being a patient I HATE IT).

But, this led to a conversation with my mummy about what would happen to Percy if anything awful were to happen to me, and the fact that as grandparents, they would probably have very little rights if I had nothing written down. So- I have no idea how legally binding this is (probably not at all)- but I'm going to be all dark, and depressing, and outline what I want to happen if (touch wood it doesn't) anything were to be seriously wrong with me/ if I died:

So, first of all, if I am ever in a state where I am unable to voice my own preferences:
- I do not want any kind of intervention/surgery if there is the potential that I may be brain damaged. I do not care how small the risks may be. I like my brain how it is.
- I do not want either of my legs amputating. I need to run.
- I do not want to be kept alive if it means being confined to a bed.
- I want all my organs donated- including skin and eyes.
- Anything else, I will leave in the hands of my mummy and daddy, for I believe they know me well enough to know what I would pick.

In terms of what I would leave behind, I don't have a lot, but:
- To Mummy and Daddy: I give you several years of dirty nappies, and a couple of decades of worry. I would want you to raise Persephone as her legal guardians. I would also give you the "key" to my diary, as such, and hand you the password to this blog. If you could continue with it, for her, that would mean the world to me.
- To Mrs Bean: there's a half empty bottle of wine that has been in my fridge since August. It's probably fermented itself up to 70% now, so you can get nice and drunk. You can have my stash of protein powder, my weights, and my 17 yoga mats aswell.
- To Scabies, my only brother: I leave you my hairspray. I have been stealing yours for a very long time now, so consider my debt repaid. I also leave you my Chemistry textbooks. Read them. WORK. Be clever. Stop putting off revision, and go and change the world.
- To Mildew: I leave you my entire wardrobe, aswell as my make up collection, and 65000 bottles of fake tan. Along with this, I will tell you what I wish I had known at 14; mummy is generally right about most things. And boys can only upset you if you let them.
- And finally, to Flipper J: I give you my beautiful, smelly, messy, greedy fat boys, Bobo and Joojar. Please love them as much as I do (and try to train them to stop jumping on the table).

I've literally just spoken to my mummy about this post, and she said not to write it because it is freaky and prophetic. But, at least now I know (if this does have legal ground) that if anything were to happen- whether it be now, or in 250 years- people shall know my wishes. Bloody doctors. THIS IS WHY I HATE THE DOCTORS.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Let Me Tell You About... The Time I Worked At Heat Magazine (43 weeks + 6 days)

Right, bit of background info on this one, (because it's necessary):

When I was teeny tiny, my answer to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was an actress. Then, that dream was killed ("Lots and lots of people want to be actresses Harriet, it's very difficult to be an actress"). And from the age of about seven, I wanted to a journalist. I loved writing. I still love writing. Writing is something that I find to be incredibly easy; it just comes naturally to me. And this was not a passive desire: I founded (yes, that's right- FOUNDED) the school paper/magazine at one of my primary schools. I was the editor. It was awesome (it was called Kids Today, in case anyone out there has any historic copies lying about; also probably for the best that the acting dream was killed- I can't lie for toffee. My face gives me away instantly).

So, English had always been my passion. And then came the beginning of the end. So, in year 6, like everyone in the universe, I had my SAT's. I was entered into the level 6 extension papers for both English and Maths (because I was a child genius, see? Oh, look at me now! How the mighty have fallen!) It was pretty much a given that I was going to get a level 6 in English. English was my stronger subject. I'd never failed to get a level 6 in any of the practice papers. Maths was a bit more iffy. I'd had to work for Maths (I remember asking my dad what a ratio sign was when I brought one of the practice papers home, because I'd never seen one before in my life). So, that one was kind of a gamble- in my eyes anyway.

Sat the papers. Waited. And then the results came. Maths came first. There was me and another boy who were like "the clever ones" and had sat these papers. In all honesty, half my determination to get a level 6 was simply to beat this boy (seriously, I was born competitive. Inherent part of my personality). And I did it. I got a level 6 (fyi he didn't. And had been gloating that he was going to get it and I wouldn't. SHOWED HIM, DIDN'T I? Go ladies, and all that). So, over the moon. Skipping about. Happy bunny.

Then the English results came; I was actually away from school, because I was ill on this day. And I remember my mum coming in, and telling me what was probably my first taste of failure: I didn't get a level 6. And I cried. And cried. And cried. And to me, the worst thing in the world had happened (actually getting a bit emotional about this right now. Clearly some seriously unresolved issues about this level 6. Man up, Harriet, move on). I mean, the boy didn't get a level 6 either (I was still the winner), but I was honestly, so gutted.

I still wanted to be a journalist though. That was still the end goal. But the problem now, was that my super duper Maths level 6, instantly flagged me up as a Maths Queen in Secondary School. And I guess in some ways, because I was already "ahead of the pack", I was always going to be ahead in Maths. Cut forward a few years, moved house, so moved to a different school (that's a tale for a whole other post- worst experience of my life. Moving secondary school is HARD. Really hard). And when I was 14, my tutor (who was the Head of the Maths department) took me to one side, and asked me what I wanted to be. Response? "Journalist. I want to go into journalism".

Her reply? "Do you want to be writing about other people lives, or do you want to be the one they're writing about?"

OUCH!

She wanted me to go into aeronautics. I honestly can't remember what happened to my opinion at this point. It must have had some effect on me, to a degree, but I couldn't tell you explicitly what I thought.

Then, obviously, GCSE's came. Got A*'s and A's in everything (except for Art, but that doesn't count because I spent most of my Art lessons putting my make up on, and still managed to get a C). So, it was off to college.

What had I wanted to study at college? God, can I even remember. Maths was on there. As was Further Maths. But the remaining three subjects (I got to pick five, due to the super cleverness) were (if I'm remembering correctly) English Literature, German and either Sociology or Psychology (honestly can't remember. There were no Sciences, basically. And I ended up switching subjects quite a bit within the first few weeks of college. Nice bit of indecisiveness). On my enrolment day (when you say which subjects you want to do), my choices were pretty much disregarded. And this was in part due to me being SO unassertive and SO insecure and SO malleable at that age. There was a big drive for women in Science (isn't there always?), so I was put in for Biology and Chemistry and they attempted to put me in Physics. There was no way I was doing Physics. I believed I didn't get Physics (ironically, physical Chemistry is now my strong point. Clearly it was just a mental block).

Like I said, I chopped and changed quite a bit, because I wasn't happy with what I'd been put down for. But ultimately, that is the moment that English left my life. Simply because I didn't stand my ground. Honestly, I hated Science. I hated it. And, if you asked me, I would say that I fell into Chemistry, I did not choose it. That being said, I now love Chemistry. I have admitted defeat! Science has beaten me, and I am very glad that I have gone down the path that I have. It is Chemistry that is going to allow me to progress to Medicine.

But there is always going to be a part of me, that will wonder, what if? What if, I had stood up for myself? What if I had argued my case? What if I had been stronger when I was 16?

Moving forward, in the Summer of 2012, I had the best Summer (I say it was the best Summer; it did ultimately lead to me realising that I wasn't coping, so maybe at the time it wasn't the best Summer? But in hindsight, it was awesome). I was doing a 2 month placement with one of the lecturers at uni, and was involved with his group in some of their research. It was really cool. It was really fun. And I got to spend the Summer in London when the Olympics were on, which was pretty cool (apart from the infiltration into Hyde Park. RUINING my running route).

It was at this point when I kind of contemplated journalism again. It was at the back of my mind. End of third year, looking forward to careers, and honestly all I wanted to do was write. But, I was doing a Science degree. I had no experience of writing. Why would anyone hire me to write? It was pointed out to me though, that I was looking at it all in the wrong way. I did have experience of writing. I wrote lab reports every week. I'd done an extended literature report. Writing was a crucial element of my degree.

So. There I was. Reading Heat magazine (love Heat magazine. Favourite bit of escapism EVER). When I saw that they had work experience placements open for that September. And Heat are normally booked up for work experience like 18 months in advance. IT WAS A SIGN! And so, this happened:

Subject: Work Experience Application
Dear Sir/ Madam,
My name is Harriet Stanway, and I am currently a Chemistry student about to enter into my fourth year of the MSci course at Imperial College London. I am writing to you to enquire about any work experience placements you have available during September 2012. This may seem like a strange request given the nature of my degree, hence I feel it is necessary to explain why I should be considered.
Ever since creating and editing the school paper, journalism has been a career path I have been interested in pursuing, however somehow I managed to stumble into a science degree (I really have no idea how that happened...) Thinking that a career in journalism was no longer available to me, I closed the door on that dream, and threw myself into my new life as a scientist. It was only recently, when a colleague pointed out that a variety of skills I have acquired during my degree clearly show evidence of my literary ability, as shown in the attached CV, that it became apparent to me that journalism was still a plausible career choice. The only thing I am lacking is work experience within the field. Whilst the compilation of weekly lab reports, as well as an extended literature report, allow me to progress with my formal writing ability, I have had little opportunity to develop in a more creative sense. The university newspaper does little to help in this respect, as their style of writing is also rather formal (in addition to being marginally pretentious).
I am a massive fan of Heat (to the extent where Tuesday has now been renamed “Heat-day” in my vocabulary), and celebrity culture in general. To have the opportunity to work with you would be absolutely amazing. In terms of what I would bring to the role, I’m a positive person who’d be willing to undertake any task you give to me (within reason, of course); I have excellent team-working skills, I can apply myself to anything and...I’ve ran out of generic job application phrases.
In last week’s issue (No. 687), you published an interview with Katy Perry in which she described Angelica Cobb as “the hero of [her] story” due to the crucial role that Ms. Cobb played in allowing her career to progress to the heights it has. If you could be the Angelica Cobb of my story, I would be eternally grateful.
Many Thanks,
Harriet Stanway
P.S. I searched everywhere for the name of the person that this e-mail was to be sent to and I couldn’t find it! So I apologise for the “Sir/ Madam” approach I had to take.
P.P.S. Sorry about the cheese-level of the last paragraph.


I didn't get a response. So, I sent this to the editor (along with the above email):

Subject: Leaked Naked Photos of One Direction (enclosed)
Dear Ms. Cave,
It’s obviously quite apparent now that the subject line of this e-mail was a blatant lie; sorry about that, I just needed some way to grab your attention.
I e-mailed the following cover letter (see below) and CV (attached) to the designated work-experience e-mail address last Tuesday (10/07/2012) and am yet to hear a reply. In my desperation to get some sort of response, I decided that it would definitely be a wise idea to re-send the application to yourself (a decision that I will no doubt begin to question within the next couple of hours). I just wanted to state how much an opportunity like this would mean to me; surely it’s apparent that I really want this by the fact I’ve turned into a semi-stalker. I would be incredibly grateful if you could take the time to consider this application.
Many Thanks,
Harriet Stanway

Still no response. So, what have I got to lose? Why stop now? I sent this one to every single contact email they gave in the magazine:

Subject: LOOK AT ME (please!) I AM AMAZING!
Dear Heat/ Ms. Cave/ Anybody who this reaches,

After two failed attempts- technically three, but the third one failed to send- I refuse to stop trying until I receive some form of response. As such, I have decided to e-mail you an update of comical things that happen to me on a daily basis, the skills they show I possess, and the way in which these can be applied in a magazine environment; consider it a “diary” of sorts. Some might say it would be easier if you simply rejected me/ offered me an interview as opposed to having to deal with such an onslaught of random musings, but hey, what do they know! So, here is my ‘life-update’ for the weekend:

Saturday 21st July
5:45am- On the way back from my daily run around Hyde Park, I managed to come across a group of boys who were coming home from a night out (joyous…). Despite the horror of my general appearance (I was wearing no make-up, dressed in sportswear, and smelt VERY bad), this didn’t stop one of them attempting to chat me up with the line “I’m not going to lie, I like white girls”. After 10 minutes of attempting to make some form of getaway, I finally managed to escape… or so I thought. Another of the group of boys (hereafter known as “The Harassers”) came running up to me, and informed me they had a hotel ‘around here’ and would be willing to ‘pay [me] anything [I] wanted’ in return for spending the night with them. Suffice to say, I politely told him to go away, and sprinted home.

Skills this shows I have:
1)      The ability to make random people fall in love with me- a very important quality one needs to have in journalism is to come across as a warm, open person; when conducting interviews, if the interviewee feels they can trust you, they’re likely to reveal a lot more.
2)      I can escape from difficult situations. Always a good thing.
3)      I refuse to be involved in prostitution. Which demonstrates that I have a moral compass.

Sunday 22nd July
6:15pm- Performing a trial shift flyering for the 99 comedy club in Leicester Square- a.k.a. becoming a ghost person for 2 hours whilst every passing pedestrian attempts to look anywhere other than at you. The most stimulating conversation I was able to engage in was with a man who felt it necessary to tell me about his entire employment history (it was ok though- he was quite attractive, so I let him get away with it), and with a creepy old casino man who told me I had “the most wonderful eyes”; neither of them took a flyer. In spite of this, I still managed to give away a sufficient number to people who were ‘definitely’ going to attend, and ‘really looking forward’ to the comedians we had performing that night; oddly enough, when the flyer totals were calculated at the end of the night, none of the aforementioned people had shown up. A very productive two hours, indeed.

Skills this shows I have:
1)      I will literally do ANY job when it relates to something that I want (in this case money, in your case magazine experience).
2)      I can talk to lots of random people (which I’m sure is a useful skill…?)
3)      I don’t mind wearing hideous clothes in order to perform a job (luckily I didn’t have to dress up too outrageously- my dignity remained intact).

My previous two attempts at correspondence are shown below, and my CV is still attached. If you could get in contact with me, it would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, you’ll hear from me tomorrow with an update of the events of today.

Many Thanks,

Harriet Stanway

p.s. I make an AWESOME cup of tea.

p.p.s. I have sent this to all of your departments in the hope that SOMEBODY will read it.

Again...nothing. So, this one was sent:

Subject: Chemistry Joke
Dear Everybody at Heat,

Saw your Chemistry joke in this week’s issue- clearly you’re calling out to me. If you need further advice on anything Chemistry related, you know where I am. Again, previous correspondence (very one-sided) is included below.

Many Thanks,

Harriet Stanway

p.s. Further to my promise of daily life updates, yesterday I got a hair cut at a Hair and Beauty college by a trainee (yay! Free haircut!); my head is now essentially half-shaved (intentionally…ish). This shows that I’m not afraid to try new things- an important quality when one is looking at moving from a Science-based background into a Media one.

And then I left it. I didn't hear anything for a little while from them. Also, this is how I'd had my hair cut (in case anyone cares...):

And it was actually when I'd given up, and thought that they weren't going to respond that... I GOT A REPLY!!! They wanted me to come in for a week in September. YAY! So, once I'd finished my placement at uni, I started at Heat. It was awesome. Really fun. It was all quite light and fluffy, which was nice considering I'd just spent two months in serious research. Wrote a load of articles and celeb bios for the website. And I was asked to stay on for an extra week over at Closer (they're both run by the same company). Which was also awesome.

I think at this point, I went home for a week, and then had to go back down to London, as I was going to be a Hall Senior, so I needed to go down a week before term started to help prepare everything for the freshers (God, I hate freshers. Dear all freshers: it is not your fault you're annoying; I was annoying as a fresher. But please try to limit your annoyingness as best you can). Oh, I was also working at the union bar at this point. Busy busy busy bee.

So basically, my Summer, instead of being a nice 3 month break, lasted for...one week. But that had been what I had wanted. I had wanted to be busy. And it was really, really fun. It was my best Summer. For those of you who can count, you'll also realise that it was my final Summer before I got pregnant. It was the best Last Summer I could have had.

So, lessons for Mrs Wiggle:

It's never too late to revisit something; no doors are ever truly closed;
Always stand your ground, and don't let people talk you out of/into anything;
Persistence will get you things that you want;
And Mummy, in all seriousness, could probably have had quite a lucrative career as an escort.



Friday, 9 January 2015

Non-onymous; AKA "Ooh, Stick You" (43 weeks +3 days)

Oh, listen to me with all my grand gestures, and big propositions. "MY BLOG IS MOVING!", I said. "We will be ANONYMOUS!", I said. "Mummy WILL have control over who sees her Piglet grow up!"

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for all their kind words, both on here, and on other forms of media. They were incredibly touching, and really meant a lot to me. It is wonderful to know that my blog is well-received by others (or at least the majority of others...).

It was these comments that made me reconsider moving my blog. I should probably explain why I was going to shift everything into the abyss in the first place. There are people who read this blog who shouldn't read it; who have no right to read it. There are people who are watching Piglet grow up, through this blog. Now, I'm not talking about people who don't know us- if you have no idea who we are PLEASE feel free to follow our story. I wouldn't be putting all of this out there, if I had a problem with people like that reading it. The people who shouldn't be looking at this are those who have a problem with me. Those who have a problem with Piglet's existence. Those who do not want to be involved in her life, and yet still, for whatever reason, feel the need to follow her journey.

I didn't want such people reading this. I didn't want them to have the luxury of being able to watch her grow up from afar. I didn't want them to see what was going on in our lives because, if you don't like us, why would you even care what we do, or what's happening to us....?

ANYWAY. I have changed my mind. I have built up a readership on this url. Do I really want to have to start all over again? When I first began writing, I remember being all excited because I'd had 70 views in one month. Now, I hit over 70 views on most days. I don't want to have to build it all up again. Furthermore, I think it would be A LOT of effort to move all the posts over to a new address, and omit all our names, and- in all honesty- I have more important things to be focusing on than hiding. The final reason? This blog is like my baby. I like my baby. I like my baby exactly where it is. It may just be a url to most people, but to me, that url was the start of everything.

My blog has helped me in more ways than I even know. And I'm not about to throw all that away, simply so that I can be anonymous. And who even wants to be anonymous? Anonymous sucks. What does anonymous get you? I'd much rather shout "HELLO, I AM HARRIET AND I WRITE THIS. THIS, RIGHT HERE. THIS IS MY WRITING." People may not like it. People may disagree with some of the things that I say. People may think it's "cheap". But, I DON'T CARE. 

So, my blog is not moving house. My blog is staying right here, where it started and where it should be. My blog is not running away. My blog is my constant (bit of an accidental, cheeky Lost reference there). With any luck though, the previous post will have deterred the unwanted watchers. And if it hasn't? To paraphrase my sister: "I'm not really arsed". I've got bigger fish to fry. No time to worry about the teeny tiny minuscule fishes.

Right, now that's all out of the way, I can do the ACTUAL recap post that I have been planning for a ridiculous amount of time. Hallelujah!

So, I've been a busy DIY-bee. Bought a hacksaw. I own a hacksaw. I own a hacksaw. Never thought I would see the day where I owned a hacksaw! So now I have a hammer, a multi-headed screwdriver, a funny turning thing, a hacksaw and a baseball bat (the last item came with the house).  I'm practically a one-woman army. I feel very mature.

Oh, I bought the hacksaw so I could change one of the funny carpet seperate-y things (you know what I mean. The metal things. I can fix the stuff, I just don't know the actual technical names for anything). Obviously, it needed to be cut down to fit the doorway. And I did that. Successfully. I am very impressed with myself. (This is probably completely uninteresting to everyone in the world, but I'm super excited about this hacksaw business... so I wanted to mention it).

On a more serious note, I think I've had a minor revelation as to why I have become a semi-builder. When I was little, my Daddy built loads of stuff for me. LOADS (fyi, my Daddy has his own joinery company- hence why he could build things). I had a castle when I was 2? 3? I don't know, I was little anyway. Then he built me a HUGE wendy house (with TWO floors. TWO.) when I was around 5 or 6. And then, when we'd moved into our 17th house (ok, so maybe not the 17th, but we did move around quite a bit), he built me THE BEST TREEHOUSE EVER KNOWN TO MANKIND IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. I'm not even exaggerating. This treehouse was phenomenal. It had like a million different levels and was built over several trees. It was AWESOME. In fact, my next-door neighbours just used to climb over the fence into the treehouse when they wanted to see me. None of this "knocking on doors" rubbish. If you want your children to adore you- build them a super cool fantastic treehouse (seriously, I had THE BEST childhood. BEST. CHILDHOOD. EVER). 

Anyway, one day Percy is going to want things like wendy houses. And super cool exponentially awesome treehouses. And I'm the one who's going to have to build them for her. Hence, I need some serious building skills. Everything I'm doing at the moment is pretty much just practice for when this time arrives. (Percy's treehouse will be structurally sound- relax! That's just some cheeky maths. I'm ace at maths, so that's never been an issue. It's more the actual using of the tools that needs a bit of practice).

I also dyed my hair (this really is a SHOCKINGLY mundane post I am so sorry. I'll go and do something crazy and interesting to write about soon.) It went wrong. This is the colour that the box said my hair would be:

This is the colour that my hair actually is:

It has GONE DARKER. What is this l'oreal? What is this???? Sort out your hair models. (You can't even see how much darker it is from this photo. It is A LOT darker).

So, basically I have gone from Barbie to Skipper:



















It's ok though. It means I look less tacky when I've got my lipstick on. POSITIVES (also, side note: how scary looking was 90's barbie?!)

Uhm....what else have we been doing, what else have we been doing... (other than lots of ironing). Oh, right, yes. I'm going to get really serious here. Put your serious hats on. Serious faces. Serious. Ok, so I have had an awakening. A realisation. A revelation. An epiphany. Which is that, everything in my house is growing up, and getting big, and I can't cope and I want 170000 babies.

Not like, right at this instant, must have babies right now. But, I don't want Percy to be an only one. I'm from a big family- I'm the eldest of five- so, I think in some ways, it would be a little abnormal for me to just have one baby? I wouldn't want to deny Piglet the pleasure of having siblings, (and it is a pleasure; as much as I said I hated it and wished I was an only child as soon as my sister was born- I had wanted a brother-it is LOVELY. I appreciate it a lot more now.)

That being said, I can sit here with my hand on my heart, and honestly say that I never want to be pregnant again. Ever. I hated being pregnant. It was the worst. Hated it. So, I've been having a bit of a nose into adoption, and precisely what that would entail, and how long the process would take and things like that. It's not something I'm looking at actively doing, I just want to have a look for in the future. Because obviously, when you are in your final fortnight of maternity leave before going back to uni, you probably shouldn't be planning more babies. Probably not wise. Maybe leave it a little bit. Maybe go to med school first and become a doctor. Then adopt your babies. Yes. That is a wise plan, Harriet. (Side note: did you know that if you want to adopt a baby from an orphanage abroad, you actually have to pay? And you can't adopt them from Vietnam or Cambodia in this country. I SWEAR I was just looking speculatively. AND I HAVE DEFINITELY NOT GOT NAMES. Oh, I've become a girl...)

Moving on quite rapidly now (I feel like I should delete all those paragraphs about babies, and hide them away forever). So, I've got a doctor's appointment next week, which I have been putting off for a while. I hate going to the doctors (oh the irony!). I don't mind going if I'm 90% dead, but anything before that point, I really try and put off for as long as possible. I only made this appointment because my Mummy was shouting at me about it. So, I've been having a few funny...episodes? Would you call them episodes? Basically, it's really odd, I'll feel fine, and then all of a sudden, I get really nauseous, feel faint, I get really hot, and then my vision starts getting blurry until I just black out, and then my hearing goes all funny.And this lasts probably for a few minutes at a time. But I don't pass out. I'm still conscious, and I haven't got any muscle weakness or anything. I think I've just got low blood pressure. I think they'll probably just say "go eat more salt; drink more water, less coffee". This is what I'm expecting. Like it's fine. I'm fine. It would just be an issue if it happened, and it didn't sort itself out. And I had Percy with me. So, doctors is best, I guess (hate being a patient).

Urgh. Right. I think that's all up to date and settled. We're planning on going to parkrun this weekend, where hopefully I am going to meet a lovely Mancunian who laughs at me, and mocks everything I do (ideal man right there).

All Manchester boys- love you, call me.

...I'll be really bloody freaked out now if there's anyone from Manchester at parkrun.

...and AGAIN, am aware that should not be looking for boys now. Uni. Focus. Project. Serious. No men. No Mancunians. NO.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Sometimes I Have Bad Days (43 weeks)

This was supposed to be a bit of a general recap post, about what Piglet and I have been up to. No hilarious stories or big life revelations to be found here, I'm afraid (well, not really. A few confessions, but nothing major). And I wasn't going to post it until the weekend. It's kind of taken a different turn though (you'll see). And I wanted to put it out there asap, so that I can shut down this site (more on this later).

So yesterday, Piglet went back to nursery; The Pox have all disappeared apart from the one on her head which has scabbed over, so she was no longer deemed a Health and Safety issue. She was so happy to go back. Honestly, when we got there, she got so excited and had the biggest smile on her face. I suppose to her, she didn't know that it was just a break. We've moved and left people behind so many times already, so for all she knew, this was just another one of those cases. That being said, when I picked her up that evening, I got the biggest smile. I think that's my favourite part of the day; when I pick her up from nursery, and she's happy to see me. I really am so lucky.

In terms of what Mummy did on Monday, I had a little bit of a "life admin" day. So, in the morning, I called both Student Finance and Child Maintenance regarding the progress of my applications for both. My application to Student Finance had been suspended, since I was on maternity leave and they decided that they were not responsible for me (despite their guidelines saying that they should be. Bloody student finance!!!!), so the reason I was calling was to see if, when I returned to uni, my loan would be released to me immediately, or if I would have to wait for it to be reassessed. Unfortunately, it is the latter. Which they have said can take up to five weeks. And they need a "change of circumstances" form from uni before they can process this.

So, next step was e-mailing uni. I had to email them anyway, because when I was perusing through the timetable for this year, I noticed that they'd changed the term for oral exams, which meant that I had missed them (they used to be in Summer, and this year they were in Winter; hence I was on maternity leave for both occasions). So, that was all fired off, and is being all sorted out. FANTASTIC!

Then came Child Maintenance. Who told me that they were still waiting for income details from Darren. I applied for maintenance payments in October, and am still yet to receive anything. I was aware that he probably wasn't going to play ball when I made the application. I was aware that he was probably going to try to avoid them. I was aware that he was (and evidently still is) a total jerk. I thought though, that the point of going through the Child Maintenance Service, was that they could enforce payments. As of Monday, it seemed to still be a case of "Well, we'll just give him a little bit longer, and wait and see what he says, and then we'll carry on with everything."

These two things made me angry. Student Finance and Child Maintenance have both proved themselves to be pretty incompetent when it comes to performing the service that they are supposed to provide efficiently. I am used to this from Student Finance now. I expect nothing more from them, other than to be complete idiots. However, I thought the Child Maintenance Service would be different. Monday, I learnt that every government agency sucks. And so, I am now going into politics, so that I can fix all of these things. I am going to be the Prime Minister (bit of a scary thought right there!) Maybe I can juggle being a surgeon, and being Prime Minister. That would be AWESOME.

So, Monday afternoon, I did something to make myself feel better. I did something to alleviate my anger. I did something to save myself.

I cancelled my application for child maintenance.

Now, the big question that I'm probably going to get here is why? Why would you do that? Percy deserves to be supported by the man who is biologically her parent. He should contribute to any children that he has had a part in creating. From the figures he's given me, I was in line to receive around £40 a week, which would be a BIG help right now. And I appreciate all these comments. But, let me explain why I can't go through with it.

I am a recovered anorexic/bulimic. That is what I class myself as. I am not "in recovery", I am recovered. However, for me, that does not mean that I spend every day loving food. That does not mean that I spend every day loving what I see in the mirror. That means that the majority of the time, I am "ok" with things. The majority of the time, I am not obsessive about food, or my appearance. But sometimes I have bad days. Sometimes, I don't like what I see. Sometimes, I restrict food. Sometimes, I eat too much, and I hate myself for it. Sometimes, I view my illness as an "old friend". Sometimes, I would welcome it back with open arms. Usually though, these "sometimes" are few and far between.

I have said previously that my therapist told me that I was "unable to be angry". And I think I now fully understand what he meant by that. It wasn't that I couldn't feel anger- it was that I couldn't externalise it. I would let my anger eat away at me, quite literally. The child maintenance thing has been getting to me. Really getting to me, And my bad days? They have been becoming ever more frequent. And that is not a good thing. The fact that I know that is not a good thing however, is clearly a very good thing.

I cannot continue with it. It is making me ill. In all honesty, within 24 hours of making the application, I regretted it. I don't want him in my life, in any shape or form. Not physically, and not financially. But, I felt I had a duty to Piglet. I knew it was going to be difficult. But I didn't think that it would have this effect on me. I didn't think that I was as vulnerable as I am. 

So, Piglet, I am sorry that I have failed you, I am sorry that I am not strong enough to fight him any longer. But, I figured that it's better to be poor and have one healthy parent, than to be comfortable and have a mummy who is relapsing, and a man who resents having to contribute to your upbringing.

I have been asked what I will tell Percy about Darren, when she is older. When she notices other families contain two parents, and ours just has one. And I was very unsure what I was going to say. I believed that it was a balance between not emotionally scarring her, but also not making him out to be somebody he's not. But, the way I see it now? Percy doesn't have a father. She doesn't. Not in practice, not financially. Biology does not make you a father; it makes you a sperm donor.

For me now- Darren no longer exists. He has once again shown himself to be a total... well, I don't think I can put that word in my blog. But, you get the picture. This is the last post in which he is going to get any mention. This is the last time he is going to be allowed to occupy even the tiniest part of my thoughts, I'm not giving him the satisfaction of appearing in our story anymore.

One final note: my blog is moving. This is happening sooner than I had anticipated. We are turning anonymous! (Don't get me wrong, there will still be adorable pictures of Piglet, and gratuitous pictures of Mummy, but there will be no mention of our names anywhere.) For those of you who are my friends on fb (/aren't blocked from my fb), I shall post the link on there; people of twitter who follow me, the new url will be there also (fyi, my twitter is going private now too, so you will ACTUALLY have to follow me). For everyone else, if you wish to continue following our journey, you can email me. (NB, this is an email set up solely for the purpose of my blog, so please FEEL FREE to spam it all you want).

I'm starting to feel in control of everything again. (Thank God!)

Twitter: @diaryofUP
Email: diaryofanunplannedpregnancy@gmail.com

(ps. New blog might not be live for a week or two. Depends on how much of my project I write up vs. how much I procrastinate and write blog things. WRITE MORE OF YOUR PROJECT, HARRIET.)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Let Me Tell You About... The Time That I Could Have Been Rich (42 weeks + 6 days)

Ok, so I have my occssional "Let's talk about..." posts, when I want to discuss current events that relate to us, and I thought that it might be quite nice if I started some "Let me tell you about..." type posts. These are basically going to consist of me being a bit reflective, and discussing things that have happened to me prior to having Percy, with a bit of a nice moral/lesson at the end for Piglet, when she is older (also, they work as filler for when our life is all stable and not chaotic. Stability is nice and everything, but it doesn't make for very interesting writing. Who am I kidding, I hate stability, I THRIVE ON CHAOS!)

So, I'm going to kick these off, with the time that I could have been rich. Now, when I say "rich", I mean rich. I could have been disgustingly loaded. Filthy, stinking, dripping with money, rich. Let me elaborate:

Whilst I was having my year away from uni (health-year away; not maternity year away), I spent that time working in numerous pubs. And it was great. It was, honestly, fantastic. I love bar work. I love it. I could have quite happily stayed in that industry. And, had I not got pregnant with Percy, there's a strong chance that I would have done that (but that's a whole other story).

ANYWAY. Pub jobs are great when your boyfriend has left you. Why are pub jobs great when your boyfriend has left you? Two reasons:

1) You have an endless stream of people you can moan about the aforementioned ex-boyfriend to. And because they're all hearing about it for the first time, they don't tell you to shut up. It's like therapy! SO GOOD.

2) Everyone flirts with you. Example: the response to "What can I get you?" was more often that not, "I'll take your number". You're like the pub queen. You hold the key to the beer, so THEY LOVE YOU. Pub jobs, are the BEST jobs for inflating your ego to the size of a blue whale. (I really miss working in pubs sometimes).

Right, so, one of the pubs that I worked at was near where my parents live (ie. in the middle of nowhere) and it was like a typical country pub. It was actually a bit of a shock when I started working there, because before I'd been working at the uni bar? And obviously it was a totally different atmosphere.

Anyway, long story short, there was a man who used to come into this pub (shocking! A man in a pub!); let's call him...Mr Money. Mr Money was probably in his late 60's/early 70's. Mr Money was old enough to be my Grandfather. So, imagine my surprise when I am bending over to get Mr Money a drink one day, and he comments on my "fantastic ass". I was pretty much speechless at this point.

Mr Money became quite a regular. He used to find out when I was working so that he could time his visits to coincide. He made it clear very early on that he was loaded. And he found me attractive (have I mentioned he drove a Jaguar? No? He drove a Jaguar. I know very little about cars, but I think it was a stupidly expensive one). Anyway, Mr Money used to buy me drinks. Mr Money used to follow me outside when I had cigarettes. Mr Money used to tell me about how he'd paid for a boob job for his ex-girlfriend (maybe he was hinting at something there? Mr Money, you are so rude).

Honestly? To start with, I thought nothing of it. It was just someone else paying me attention; as I've mentioned, that's not uncommon in bar work. And, I was incredibly unassertive. And not wanting to offend anyone. Which, I guess, could be misinterpreted as being interested? Maybe? Because I hadn't said a definitive "No, get away from me Mr Money" (I don't know, I don't understand men at all).

So anyway, Mr Money said that he wanted to take me to dinner. To all boys who flirt with bar girls: bar girls will never say no to you. Bar girls will flirt with you. Bar girls will promise you the world. Do bar girls mean any of these things? No. IT IS THEIR JOB. THEY ARE THERE TO KEEP YOU COMING BACK. Silly boys. My response to Mr Money's invitation?

"Oh, maybe sometime. I'm really busy at the moment. So busy. Busy busy busy. Oh, and I've definitely got a new super jealous boyfriend, and am not lying about this at all. Goodness gracious, what wonderful timing!"

Mr Money didn't take the hint. Mr Money was very forward. And yet, to be honest, I still thought that maybe he was just lonely? Maybe he just wanted a friend? Someone to talk to?

Yeah, I was wrong. Mr Money became quite (ie. very) inappropriate with most of the things he said to me. They were quite horrendously explicit. And, at the same time, he began to offer me things. He offered me money. For uni. Money in general. He said I didn't need to work; he would "keep" me. He bought me gifts. That I would like to point out, I did try to refuse. But he wouldn't take no for an answer.These "gifts" included shoes, clothes, underwear (kill me now). All designer brands. He told me that he wanted me to wear "x, y and z" of these gifts when I went to dinner with him.

So, at this point, I'm starting to realise that maybe I need to take charge of this situation. Maybe this is going in a direction that I'm not too keen on. Maybe this might be the time to learn how to say no?

ENTER MRS MONEY! Yes, that is right! Mr Money had a wife! Who he came in with one day! Now wait for it, because I haven't even got to the craziest part- Mrs Money came up to the bar, and asked if I was Harriet, and INTRODUCED HERSELF TO ME. She said Mr Money spoke about me ALL THE TIME and was MESMERIZED by me.

HARRIET, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT.

Now, he told me they weren't really properly married- it was some sort of financial arrangement or something like that. I can't really remember; at this point I was massively freaking out about the whole thing.

After this, I used to hide. My boss would tell me if he saw Mr Money coming in; I would hide in the kitchen, and he would tell him I wasn't working. And this went on for a couple of weeks. Mr Money started to get the hint by this point, and was not a very happy bunny. In fact, he was really angry at me. And asked for his gifts back.

I was not giving those things back. Let me explain why I was not giving those things back:
1) YOU CAN'T TAKE A GIFT BACK.
2) I had tried to refuse the gifts, but he had insisted upon me having them.
3) I was not aware that by accepting the gifts, he thought that I wanted to have sex with him.
4) I like shoes.

And it was at this time, that I actually left this job, because I'd been offered a new one! Yay! No more creepy old men trying to sleep with me. (So really, I never dealt with the situation, I just ran away).

Oh my gosh, I just remembered that he actually tried to kiss me at one point. Bleurgh. BLEURGH. He was a seriously creepy man.

To summarise: if I had been willing to become a prostitute, I could have made a fortune. Maybe I missed a trick there? Is it too late to go back and change my mind?

SO, Percy Wiggles, the moral of this story/life experience is:

It is very expensive to have morals. 
Also, men don't understand inference- you must explicitly say no.