1am finish: Marco and me
“My mother didn’t raise me to be a c***”
So said Marco Pierre White as he draped his suit jacket around my shoulders and beckoned over a waiter to top up my glass of Prosecco.
This wasn’t what I was expecting when I set out that evening to interview the man who once made his protege Gordon Ramsey cry.
I was at Marco’s in Brentwood – the restaurant which launched in December and serves a mix of Italian-inspired dishes and American classics – to have a brief chat with the 57-year-old chef, while he was in Essex.
I expected a difficult, challenging man. I thought I’d be granted mere minutes with him. Let’s face it, this was the fiery fella who once cut a hole in the back of the chef whites of one staff member who dared to complain about the heat in his kitchen. He HANDED BACK his three Michelin stars after five years and retired from the kitchen – despite being first British chef to be awarded three – and the youngest (age 32 in 1994) in Michelin history.
So, I did not expect to still be chatting to him about family, children, and comfort food, six hours – and several drinks – later, in the wee small hours at the spot, just off the M25.
Poorly pickle: My Sonny Jim
This week I got my first phone call from Sonny Jim’s preschool.
I was working, as ever trying to squeeze eight hours work into four, and as I hung up the phone it rang almost immediately.
I answered without even looking, to hear the voice of Sonny Jim’s key worker telling me that he was “fine, well not fine, but okay.”
It transpired that my little lad was rather out of sorts. When we’d got up that morning he had seemed slightly off colour, but I assumed it was the very last of his teeth cutting (honestly, it sometimes seems like he’ll be riding a bike before those very back ones come through!) I gave him a bit of Calpol, jollied him along and he went off to preschool in his usual fashion, “bye mummy, be back soon!”
But he’d gone rather downhill since I’d left.
And in that moment as they told me he was really not himself, that he was sad and saying “my tummy hurt, my bum hurt, my mouth hurt” that he wasn’t eating his snack and he was very hot, I got all the pangs of mummy guilt.
My boy: Sonny Jim
For years and years, the only thing I wished for at Christmas was a baby.
Though I couldn’t put it on any list or casually throw it into conversation while at the office water cooler, falling pregnant was the one gift I yearned for – and the one thing I feared would never happen.
Having children for some women, some couples, just happens.
For others, it never does.
And for others, it takes time. Lots of time. And doctor’s appointments. And hospital visits. And tests. And needles. And months – years – of heartache.
I was one of the latter. And even though this Christmas will be my little boy’s third, I still have moments when I can’t quite believe it.
When my tot smiles with delight as we put on our matching festive pyjamas, then says “Sonny one, mummy one” while patting our candy-cane clad legs, I could almost cry. Continue reading
Hours old… and already being mined for his data
A while back I wrote a piece questioning why Bounty reps were allowed to cold-call mums on our maternity wards.
Picture the scene, I said.
You’ve just pushed a baby out. Or basically been slashed in half to birth your little one.
In your arms is the most precious thing you’ve ever held – and you have no idea what you’re doing.
You’re in a state of complete exhaustion/elation. You’re an emotional wreak. You’re in pain. Parts of you that you didn’t even know existed are hurting. You have no real idea what day/time it is. You’re in a total just-given-birth-blur. And then, at the foot of your bed, is an unsolicited, cold calling sales rep, wanting to take your baby’s photo and mine you for their data.
It hardly seems ethical. Should this really be allowed?
The response I got at the time surprised me. Continue reading
First day: Off we go to pre-school
So, last week was the week.
The week I’ve been dreading. The week I’ve gotten tearful about more times than I’d like to admit. The week I’ve been so tempted to push back. To put off. To ignore until I can’t ignore it any more.
Last week, Sonny Jim started pre-school.
It was only two mornings. A grand total of six hours. But it has left me something of an emotional wreck.
On his first morning, I was stunned in the best way, when my rather shy boy shed not one single tear when I left. Simply gave me a kiss, a big wave and a reminder to be “back soon mama.”
It didn’t last.
Living the life: Sonny Jim at the Zach Willsher
I made a bit of a discovery last Saturday night.
My brother was celebrating his 30th birthday at the Zach Willsher in Benfleet.
And, as most of my family were going to be there, including rather a lot of my cousins we don’t get too see that often, I decided we’d head along too.
Nevermind that it’d be a late night for Sonny Jim and he’d probably be rather grouchy on the back of it come Sunday.
His daddy was out at the football, so we’d give an evening at a pub a whirl.
What I hadn’t accounted for though, was the brilliant little play area at the Zach.
Giggles: At the last family wedding
LATER this summer, Sonny Jim will be flying to the south of France to attend a family wedding.
My second cousin once removed (or is it third cousin?!) is getting married and while I HATE flying and am dreading the 4am taxi with toddler in tow, I really wanted us to go.
This cousin was one of my best playmates when I was little. There’s just six weeks between us, and a mere couple of years between us and her older sister, and almost all of my favourite childhood memories feature them in some way or another.
We didn’t live especially close (me on Canvey, them in Goodmayes) but every school holiday we could be found at each other’s houses.