“Holy Shitballs we’re about to get married”

That, ladies and gentlemen, was what was written in big letters on our fridge at the beginning of October. That was the point we were at. We had reached the ‘holy shitballs’ level of panic.

The problem with wedding planning is that for 90% of the time, the only thing you need to do is to respond to the question: “So how’s the wedding planning going?”  with: “Yeah, really well thanks” and then you have about ten minutes to do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD OF WEDDINGS.

The seating plan for example, caused a massive amount of stress. We had days worth of conversations like this:

“Why don’t we put Guest A and Guest B on the table with Guest Y and Guest Z?”

“But then what about Guest L? They can’t be without Guest A and Guest B because otherwise they won’t know anyone.”

“Oh yeah. Bollocks”

“Ooh, I’ve got this. If we move Guests N, O and P, we can put Guests Y and Z with Guests C, D and E and then Guests N, O and P can sit with Guests A and B?”

“By Jove, I think you’ve cracked it… hold on”

*stares intently at table plan which is by now a dog eared piece of paper covered in crossings out and expletives*

“We forgot Guests J and K. They are now sitting at a table on their own”

“Holy mother of God. Why is this so difficult?”

*splashes Tippex all over the table plan dramatically*

“That’s it. I’ve had enough. Can’t we get some long trestle tables and just plonk everyone in a line?”

“They could just all stand up?”

“To eat soup?”

*exasperated sigh*

By the time we reached Wedding Eve (like Christmas Eve but with fewer reindeer jumpers) we had this attitude:

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“Ahhh..We don’t seem to have enough napkins.” “Oops, I’ve spelt this dude’s name wrong on the seating plan.” “Oh man, the ink in the fancy pants pen has run out.” “Erm…I appear to have broken a glass.”

I DON’T CARE.

GIVE ME WINE.

***

And then the wedding happened.

6 October 2016 flew past in an awesome blur of joy, relief, delight, pride, happiness and…ahem… Prosecco.

You will all be pleased to hear that Brad eventually got himself a suit and did not have to say his vows starkers. The lovely staff at Next managed to remain incredibly professional when we went in, scarily near to the wedding date, to pick Brad’s outfit. One lady in particular put on a twinkly customer service smile and told me about the time that a best man came into the store on the day of the wedding to buy his suit. Unfortunately, Brad took this to mean that he was some sort of hero because he’d nailed his suit purchase a whole two weeks earlier than the lastminute.com best man.

Brad’s usual outfit of choice would be some sort of sportswear, and I mean comfortable tracksuit type sportswear, he’s not one for physical exertion if he can possibly help it. So I confess that seeing him all smartly dressed was really very special for me.

Men however, respond differently it would seem.  Upon seeing me in my wedding finery, my Dad, who is not known for grand displays of affection said “Alright? Have I got the right time? Do you want me now?”…. pause (where he seems to suddenly realise that I’m in a fancy frock about to be wed)…”You look nice, Jo”. Mind you, that is pretty dramatic sentiment for my old man.

I cried my way through my vows. To clarify, I was overcome with happy emotions not forcibly entered into an arranged marriage.

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Uh-oh, she’s going to cry…

The problem with crying of course is that it is highly contagious, particularly amongst the female of the species. If there is a wobbly lip or anything resembling a sob, however joyful the reason, you can guarantee an epidemic of tears, Mexican wave stylee; a Mexican weep if you will.

Once the formalities were over and everyone who needed to had double checked that their mascara was as waterproof as it claimed to be, it was time to eat, drink, be photographed 746 times before being merry and it’s fair to say that we had a ball.

My Nan, who is over ninety, took quite a shine to my new father-in-law. Flirting is a timeless skill it would seem, the minx. Not sure that her flirting technique of telling him how old she is “I’m ninety two you know” and getting it wrong; she’s ninety three, is going to catch on, but got to give her credit for trying.

My seven year old niece and flower girl extraordinaire caught the bouquet, much to the horror of both her Dad and my twenty eight* year old bridesmaid who was about fifteen seconds away from rugby tackling the poor girl and snatching the bouquet out of her tiny hands

*she wishes

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Bouquet throwing action shot

Wedding vows aside, we smiled all day long. Our faces hurt from grinning at each other, our amazing families and our fabulous friends and if we’re being really honest, also from knowing that we never have to write another sodding seating plan ever again.

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The wanderer returns…

Ah, beloved reader. Have you missed me? I am sorry for my tardiness, life has been rather hectic since my last post.

I’ve turned from regular Josiejolene: cake eater, 9 to 5 worker, closet ‘Eastenders’ viewer, occasional blogger to Josiejolene 2.0 (The Bride-to-be edition): cake avoider, work out every damn day-er , closet ‘Don’t tell the bride’ viewer, never blogger.

Yes indeed, eight months ago Brad presented me with a sparkly ring, on a beautiful roof terrace in Gran Canaria. It was romantic and meaningful and made me weep in that girly way that creates involuntary and dramatic fluttering of at least one hand in front of the eyes.

He made me happy cry; where one looks radiant and filled with emotion, rather than that ugly, hiccup filled, crying that makes you sound like a set of bagpipes and causes rivers of snot to flow down your face.

So the boy did it, he changed the course of our lives; not least by creating such excitement that we drank most of the resort dry of alcohol resulting in the worst hangover known to man.

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Hangover inducing drinks

Day one of engaged life involved the two of us fighting for control of a Spanish hotel toilet in which to repeatedly be sick into. They don’t show you that in the movies.

We had a very slow recovery from quite probable alcohol poisoning. We spent the day lying in bed with a do not disturb sign on the hotel room door (and not in a good way), curtains pulled tightly closed to protect us from the bright sunshine which would surely burn painfully into our hungover heads whilst trying to keep down tiny sips of full fat Coke and watching Spanish telly, very quietly. I knew Brad was starting to feel better when he expressed considerable disappointment that ‘La Sexta’ (which is the name of a Spanish television channel meaning ‘The Sixth’) was “not what it sounds like”.

And so, once we were able to keep down more than just lukewarm cola flavoured beverages, we returned to Blighty and the wedding planning began in earnest. Of course by that I mean I started talking about wedding venues and colour schemes and Brad tried to work out if it was too late to suggest a quick trip to Gretna Green because talk of best men, bouquets and bridesmaids made his ears bleed.

We have managed to reach a compromise, I can talk to him about wedding plans in return for his full attention if I confiscate his mobile phone, lock him in the car and take him out for food.

I have fallen into the typical bride-to-be trap of wanting to lose at least 50lb before the big day so I’ll be talking to him about wedding plans and nibbling on a tiny child sized salad whilst he devours a massive steak and orders another beer. I have started to wonder if having secret thoughts of tipping beer over the head of your betrothed and poking him in the eye with one of your dull, tasteless salad carrots is usual in the circumstances.

The weight loss plan is going well, I am in constant pain and exceedingly grumpy from exercising every day and I have started to dream obsessively about cake so I have clearly achieved greatness.

I am also really, really sweaty. You know that saying “women glow, men perspire and horses sweat”? Well you can just go ahead and call me Red Rum.

The sweating has additional side effects, I’m currently trying to work out if looking like I’ve stolen my face from an acne riddled adolescent is better than having too big a bottom and don’t even get me started on trying to take off a sports bra when sweaty. Those bad boys stick to you like superglue and require almost industrial assistance to remove. I can’t tell you how many times Brad has been faced with me, panicked and red faced yelling at him to help me because the bra won’t budge any further and I’ve got one boob hanging out and one arm trapped over my head preventing me from completing the seemingly simple task of undressing myself.

I have lost weight. I’m not at the 50lb mark yet, but it’s all going in the right direction. Only a few weeks ago I had to adjust the wrist strap on my FitBit. Because that’s the dream for any bride-to-be. Skinny fucking wrists. My life has been plagued with the struggle of trying to buy plus size watches and elasticated bangles, so it’s marvellous that this hell is over.

Seriously? My wrists are getting smaller? I have enough bum for two people and I’ve done more burpees and squats in the past five months than quite possibly I’ve done in the entire 37 other years that I’ve been alive, and I’m rewarded with going down a wristband strap hole. I could have been eating cake!

So, in summary: Blogging hiatus caused by man with carrot related eye injury proposing to spotty girl with particularly tiny wrists.

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The scene of the crime

Round(ers) the bend

I woke up at 8am in a bit of a panic. “Psst. Brad! Is that rain I can hear?”

Brad murmured sleepily “It’ll be fine, go back to sleep.”

“BRADLEY! What happens if we have to play rounders in welly boots and macs?” Brad bundled the bed covers up around his ears in an attempt to block out the sound of my anxious weather analysis.

The rounders game was number 12 on list 34; ‘Arrange a big rounders game for a friend who keeps talking about it, but hasn’t got round to organising it’. And now the big day was here and it was bloody well raining.

Fortunately, the spell of rain was satisfyingly brief and insubstantial (not often I’d make that statement) and our game of rounders did not need to be hastily converted to a game of stuck in the mud instead.

We’d arranged to meet in a local park at lunchtime and for the first half hour, the sky continued to look rather mean and moody, but in true British summer style before long the clouds had moved and the sun put his hat back on.

We prepared for our rounders games in the most sensible and practical way possible; sitting around on blankets and stuffing ourselves full of food. A few cheeky little barbequed sausages followed by some of Krispy Kreme’s finest merchandise surely contain the relevant nutrients to enhance playing performance. The National Rounders Association would be proud.

The tasty barbeque aroma attracted a number of canine callers, one sassy little pup managing to get her chops around a number of sausages before running off proudly with her delicious ill-gotten gains.

Eventually, Rounders finally got underway. I divided the gang into two teams. Badly it would seem because my team somehow had two fewer players than the opposition. Counting is clearly not something I excel at. That said, my team did have a secret weapon, star fielder extraordinaire, but more about him later.

The rounders games were brilliant fun albeit not highly skilled and resulted in considerable more laughter than actual points scored. Tactics included picking small children up and running with them if they got in the way, using your head to stop the ball (I’m pretty certain this wasn’t a deliberate fielding strategy), missing out bases completely and obstructing the path of batters from the opposing team whilst they were attempting to run.

Many of us hadn’t played Rounders since our school days and it’s fair to say that at least 90% of us have not missed our rounder-playing vocation. Some of the more competitive players had brought studded football boots for grip. I had mocked this approach, particularly as one of the be-studded rascals was Brad. I sorely regretted my teasing when I skidded spectacularly onto my arse whilst fielding, allowing the opposition to get to fourth base “bet you wish you’d been wearing football boots now, don’t you darling?” shouted my smug beloved.

The highlight of the day and a very special mention has to go to Oscar, my friends Rob and Victoria’s springer spaniel, for literally being the best player on the field. The ball landed, Oscar got hold of it and turned into super dog, he ran like the wind. He couldn’t be challenged, he couldn’t be stopped and our team got a great big beautiful rounder out of it.

I haven’t enjoyed a day out as much in a very long time and I’m definitely going to try and make it an annual event; well, as long as Oscar’s on my team that is.

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The team that didn’t quite win

The team that did

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Oscar: Star player!

Stroke of Midnight

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“Where were you last night when 2013 turned into 2014? Is that where you’d wanted to be?”

Well, let me start by saying that as much as I adore every single person I spent last night with, if there had been an option of living it up with Matthew McConaughey after learning that I am the sole heir to a multi-million pound fortune and discovering a diet pill with no side effects that sucked you into a perfect size 10 no matter what you ate or drank, I would likely have sent my apologies to the White Tie and Tiara New Year’s Eve event at the Mercure Hotel in Brighton and found myself Texas bound. 

No, actually, that’s not true at all. I have THE best friends in the whole history of the world and today, as a new year kicks off, I want to tell them all how wonderful they all.  Look, I’ve even managed to refrain from making a cheeky comment about them bribing me to say said lovely things. Note to self: don’t drive, you’re obviously still drunk.

A new year is time for reflection and I am so very grateful for all of my fabulous friends who have carried me through the past few years. Just to clarify, they did not literally carry me. I eat a lot of cake, to lug me around would not only have been extremely exhausting, it would have caused them some serious physical damage.

Warning: Gloomy (but brief) reminiscing paragraph ahead. The author apologises for this temporary disturbance. Normal service will resume shortly.

Six years ago, my life was very different to the one I live today. I was in a very challenging relationship and I was terribly lonely. There is an author called Deb Caletti who wrote “The loneliness you feel with another person, the wrong person, is the loneliest of all.”  I’m not going to bore you all with tales of my life back then but suffice to say it’s not a time that I like to remember. The only good thing that I can say is that it has made me appreciate friends, family and living so much more than I would have done had I not experienced it, so there is good in everything. It would be wrong to say that I had no friends at that time, but I had fractured friendships with people who I had not kept in touch with or who lived thousands of miles away. It was a very blue time.

Normal service now continues: 

One day I decided that I had to do something to rectify this. To change my life. I started with “Operation: Friendship”. What I had not realised is that making friends as a grown up is much more difficult than as a child. Apparently children make friends by sharing toys but I didn’t think it would be the done thing to ask a work colleague if she fancied coming round to mine for a game of Hungry Hippos or Ker-plunk so I went for the universally recognised adult gesture of friendship and offered her the opportunity to drink vodka with me instead. Fortunately for me, she said yes and we are still friends today. We also still drink alot of vodka. I think that’s just a coincidence though.

Life got better from that moment onwards and I now have a wonderful assortment of marvellous and very special friends. Some I got to see in the new year with last night, some I see every week, some I only see a few times a year (due to our own various commitments, not because I don’t like them) but I am grateful for each and every one of them. Not least because having friends means that I have followers of this blog… erm that’s obviously a very small part of the joy of friendship. I mean, there’s also scientific studies that show that loneliness and lack of social support would lead to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections and a higher mortality rate. I’ve got my own fantidote; which is what happens when you merge your fanclub with your antidote. 

So today, I raise my glass to everyone that I am proud to call a friend. I wish you health, happiness, a continued devotion to reading the JosieJolene blog page of course, and most importantly I hope you always have a friend, even when you think you are alone.

Happy Camper

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I went out for cocktails with some of my lovely friends and family over the bank holiday weekend which was great fun. My blog came up in conversation, mainly because my mum was there and a friend (and very loyal reader) asked me if she was the lady who owned shoes that fastened with Velcro. After the slightly awkward moment when my mum glared at me, mentally removed me from her Christmas card list and started practising the phrase “Me, children? Yes, I have ONE daughter”, she showed off a pair of very stylish and most definitely not fastened with Velcro shoes.

This also prompted a conversation about my writing. My friend said that he very much enjoyed my blog and referred to it as “mainly consisting of you writing about things that make you angry”. It was not supposed to be an angry zone but I had to agree with him in spite of myself. In order to rectify this, today’s blog entry is about the little and obscure things that make me happy.

Waking up early

Don’t be alarmed, the title is slightly misleading. I am famously not an early riser. I have managed to spend most of my life being completely unaware of the existence of another five o’clock; one that doesn’t signify home time. What I am referring to is that wonderful experience when you wake up after being asleep, think that it’s almost time to get up and realise that it’s actually 1.00am and you’ve still got six and a half beautiful hours of sleep ahead of you. An unexpected dozing dividend. Bliss.

Word play

I love anything that involves playing around with language, either deliberately or by accident. Some of my favourites are the removal company called “He Van Movers of the Universe” and the ordering of the famous Chinese dish “Automatic crispy duck”.

On the theme of incorrectly ordering in restaurants, I was out for dinner at an Indian restaurant with family a few weeks ago when one of the party (who shall remain nameless to protect their dignity) wanted to order a desert called a BNW which stood for Black ‘n’ white; dark chocolate shell containing white chocolate ice cream. Quite a simple and straightforward action you would think. You can imagine everyone’s horror when the Indian waiter arrived to take our orders and was asked for three coffees and a BNP.

My sister and I once had quite a serious argument about the name of our dance teacher, Lorna Roff. My sister got very cross when I tried to explain that her name was not Lorna Off as she had believed. Particularly as the conversation went a bit like this:

My sister: Her name’s Lorna Off

Me: No, it’s Lorna Roff

My sister: Yes that’s right, that’s what I’m saying, Lorna Off

Me: No. Lorna Roff. Roff

My sister: No, Lorna Off. Off

Me: Lorna Roff

My sister: Lorna Off

It continued like that for quite a while…

My most favourite word play (because I’m super childish) is the web address of a company that sell “elegant writing instruments”, finest quality, one of a kind pens as gifts. The company is called Pen Island Pens.

Unfortunately, the web address is http://www.penisland.net.

If only they’d added a hyphen.

Thursday

As week days go, obviously Friday is my most favourite. However, I think that Thursday should also be given credit for being so much more marvellous than Monday. When I was a child, I used to go to disco dancing lessons, with Lorna ROFF, on a Thursday and I always looked forward to that day of the week. When I was in my teens, a sneaky night out on a Thursday was a regular occurrence because you could get away with disguising a ‘hangover recovery’ bacon sandwich as a ‘it’s Friday, let’s treat ourselves’ bacon sandwich.

If I’m going to stay up late, I can always justify it to myself on a Thursday because I’ve only got to get through one more day. Plus, people like to take long weekends or only work four days per week so there are less staff at work on Friday to notice if you’re not performing at 100%. I’d just like to take this opportunity to say that if my boss is reading this, I have never not worked at 100% and I was just imagining what it would be like to do so for the purposes of this entry.

Thursday has been overshadowed by Friday for so long that I feel a bit sad for it. If Monday was more Thursday-ish we’d all be a whole lot happier on Sunday night. I think we should nurture Thursday a little more and recognise how great the achievement is to get to day four without quitting / punching someone / breaking something / crying / having a breakdown. I love you Thursday. You make me smile.

Chairs with wheels on

Even as an adult, I have been known to spin around on an office chair or scoot from one side of the office to the other without leaving my chair, it’s so much more fun than getting up and walking across the room. Why do chairs have wheels, if not for this purpose? I posed this question to Brad last night. He said “Erm, so that they can move in and out of desks easily?”. Hmmph. Spoilsport.

Telesales

No, I don’t really love the people who phone me up to ask me if I’ve got 15 minutes spare to take a survey about my shopping habits or to tell me about all that lovely insurance money that’s due to me after the accident that I didn’t have. Oh and whilst I’m on the subject, those PPI people can PPI-off as well.

I have found myself on the receiving end of a number of these calls to my mobile recently, I’ve obviously managed to fill out a form where I’ve forgotten to tick the ‘I’d rather stick hot needles in my eyes than have you call me incessantly’ box (I may be paraphrasing) and have managed to get my mobile number stuck on a telesales list somewhere.

In order to make the experience of being telephoned by either a computer, a minimum wage earner called Dave from Liverpool or a chap from India, strangely enough also called Dave, more bearable. I have saved all telesales numbers in my phone under one contact which is titled “Some cock trying to sell me something”. It gives me the joy of not having to answer the phone (I already know not to waste my time because it’s only some cock trying to sell me something) with the added bonus of my not getting angry when they call and instead chuckling to myself every time the words flash up on my phone screen. Give it a try, I highly recommend it:

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Dammit, I’m not as happy as I thought

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I came across an article recently which was titled “22 things happy people do differently”, I consider myself a pretty happy person so I decided to have a look at this list. Turns out, according to the happy list, I’m not as happy as I might have thought:

1. Don’t hold grudges

Hmmmm… I don’t really want to fall at the first hurdle, but in my divorce, I spent approximately £182,000,000 on solicitors fees and he spent 39p. Once. When he bought a stamp to send his signed papers to court. It’s okay, I don’t hold a grudge against him for that. As long as it’s alright to refer to him as Mr money-grabbing, time-wasting, cock-sucker?

2. Treat everyone with kindness

Absolutely. I totally do this one*.

*Excluding Mr money-grabbing, time-wasting, cock-sucker

3. See problems as challenges

Problem: A state of difficulty that needs to be resolved.

Challenge: A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.

Huh. Potato [pot-ate-oh] potato [pot-art-oh].

4. Express gratitude for what they already have

Totally nailed this one. I am grateful for wine and chocolate and vodka and cake.

5. Dream big

I dream of bigger wine bottles, extra chocolate, vodka a plenty and more cake.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Of course. I’m a lady, I don’t sweat.

7. Speak well of others

I try to do this but sometimes people just piss me off.

Okay, maybe I could turn it around. Instead of saying “Gah, Gertrude really winds me up”, I should be saying “Wow, Gertrude really is very proficient in the art of making my hackles rise, I wonder how she learnt to do it so skillfully. I know no one who can bring on my temper as quickly or as effectively as her. What an outstanding achievement.”

(All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental)

8. Never make excuses

I don’t know what you mean.

The bus was late. I overslept. I would have done it but then the phone rang and I forgot. The cheque is in the post. The card is in the post. My alarm clock broke. My car wouldn’t start. I would have had a salad instead of a pizza but it was a two for one pizza deal. I fell over. I fell asleep. The chocolate just fell into my mouth. The cat did it. The cat ate it. The cat scratched it. It was my sister’s fault. It was my boyfriend’s fault. It was my friend’s fault. It just slipped out of my hands. My speedometer must be wrong. My watch must be wrong.

9. Get absorbed into the present

As in don’t long for the future? Well that definitely happens at the weekend. Monday to Friday, not so much.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning

And forsake my weekend lie in? That would make me a very unhappy bunny indeed. Who wrote this poxy list?

11. Avoid social comparison

I’m not even sure what this means. Is it about looking down on people who don’t have a job? I definitely don’t do that. If I’m being completely honest, every Monday morning I envy them just a little bit.

12. Choose friends wisely

Preferred criteria for choosing friends:

a) Have lots of money

b) Be very generous with their money

c) Ding ding! Friendship central

Actual criteria for choosing friends:

a) Can put up with me for an evening

b) That is all

13. Never seek approval from others

I don’t seek it.

I do beg and plead for it. Is that okay?

14. Take the time to listen

Lis-ten? I am unfamiliar with this word. Is it the opposite of talking?

15. Nurture social relationships

Dear friends and family,

Most of you read my blog and so I would like to take this opportunity to say that you all rock and I love you all like a mother bear loves her cubs.

Why are you still reading? What do you want? Blood? Get over yourselves.

Lots of love and all that shit.

16. Meditate

Fuck. Off.

I’ll tell you what, I’ll “mediate” on a Saturday morning between 7.30am and 10.00am. If it looks like I’m sleeping, it’s because I’m just really really good at meditating. Happy list lie in stealing bastards.

17. Eat well

By well, do they mean cake?

18. Exercise

I have been known to do exercise. I completed a marathon in 2011; I’m going to be dining out on that one for the next 50 years. In fact, I think that if you have a marathon medal and a race completer t-shirt it’s pretty much a get out of jail free card regarding any other form of physical exertion for the rest of your life. I’ve done my life’s worth of exercise; I just happened to do it in one day.

19. Live minimally

Having just spent a busy, rainy, Saturday morning in town surrounded by teenagers, buggies and old people (Seriously, why Saturday? there are FIVE other days of the week when we’re all at work for you to be all old and doddery. Why do you do it to yourself? And more importantly, why the hell do you do it to us?), I concur. I do not need a new jumper.

20. Tell the truth

I think the end of this one is missing. I’m sure it should read “Tell the truth…about everything except how much your new shoes cost” and in that case, I always tell the truth.

21. Establish personal control

Oh yeah, definitely meet this happiness criteria. I am a total control freak. As my little niece would say “My do it, my do it”.

22. Accept what cannot be changed

I accept the bits of my body on which you can pinch a number of an inchs.

Disclaimer: Until such time as I can afford liposuction when I will get rid of those bad boys faster than you can say skinny bitch.

***

I have spent a lot of time considering this list and I can hereby confirm that I have reached a conclusion which has made me feel very happy.

The list is stupid.

Nantastic

My Nan’s younger sister passed away this week. Sad news which has made me reflect on the fact that I am incredibly fortunate at the age of 34 29 to still have my Nan in my life.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to my Great Auntie Peg, because I think she’d enjoy it and to my Nan, because she rocks.

***

My Nan, probably like a lot of grandmothers, is a wonderful contradictory combination of ridiculously supportive and absolutely cutting:

When she found out that I was planning on running the Brighton Marathon she was absolutely outraged to learn that I wouldn’t get a medal just for taking part and that I actually had to cross the finish line. “But what if you get too tired to finish? It’s a jolly long way.” she exclaimed.

When my sister had her first child, Nan told me that she always thought that I would be the one to have babies and it was a shame that it was too late for me now. I was 30.

When I told her, at the age of 32, that I had a new boyfriend a few years after splitting up with my husband, her relief was tangible. “Oh Jolene, I am so pleased. I definitely thought you were on the shelf.”

My childhood is filled with fabulous memories of my sister and I spending time with Nan and she always made everything such fun. Once we spent a whole afternoon polishing apples from the tree in her garden. I’m sure it would be considered unlawful child labour these days, but we loved it. Other times we’d play games, have tea in miniature cups and saucers with teddy bears, sing and dance. She spent a lot of time skipping. Skipping around the house, skipping in the garden, skipping with a skipping rope. Even now I expect her to skip to answer the door when I visit her; possibly an unrealistic expectation of an 89 year old.

Probably the most important lesson that I have learnt from my Nan is that biscuits solve everything.

Picture the scene:

It’s the late 1980’s, my sister and I are staying overnight with Nan. We have sleeping bags, hot chocolate and a pre-bedtime shortbread biscuit.

We’re allowed to stay up to watch Casualty before we go to bed. The highlight of the Saturday evening entertainment calendar. Accident roulette begins. Who will end up in hospital? The stressed looking Teacher arguing with his wife? The teenage mother boiling eggs for her young daughter? The Shop Assistant making plans to leave her husband and start a new life?

Charlie, Duffy and Megan bustle around doing medically things. A man is arrested. I’m confused, I don’t understand why, I decide to ask my Nan, and that’s when I utter the unforgettable phrase “Nanny, what’s kerb-crawling?”.

Silence.

I look over at her. Her eyes are fixed firmly on the television screen, perhaps she didn’t hear me. I ask again “Nanny, what’s kerb-crawling?”

Silence.

A few moments pass, my Nan stands up and walks out of the room. She returns with the biscuit tin and allows my sister and I to choose another pre-bedtime shortbread biscuit. An unprecedented situation. Two pre-bedtime shortbread biscuits? Unheard of.

I don’t ask the question again.

My Nan. Genius.