What it’s like to run the Great North Run in too small shoes.

It’s a week ago today that I ran the Great North Run to raise money for Tommy’s . Tommy’s fund research into stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth, all of which I have experienced. It meant a great deal to be running for them, I was running in memory of my daughter, Matilda, so it was quite emotionally charged.

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I’d wanted to run last year but then during a training session, about a two weeks before the date, I injured my knee as I was running down a hill, and it put me out of action, running wise, for a good four or five months. However, Tommy’s were brilliant, they allowed me to put my name down for the following year and all my sponsors were moved. I was gutted, but determined to be there this year.

Training went reasonably well to start with, I was walking a lot anyway as a dog walker, and started running short runs, building up over time. My training plan included a variety of different work outs alongside the running: Monday Yoga, Tuesday Kettlebells, Wednesday a short two mile run, Thursday spinning, Friday a five KM (3.2 mile run), Saturday rest day and Sunday a long run, extending the route each time by a little way.

I’d managed to get up to around six miles of walking and running when I went to Mexico in July. It was all inclusive, there was booze, food, and the heat was incredible. I’d taken my kit to continue my training, but after getting a migraine after one session in the hotel gym, I decided to just enjoy the holiday and get back to it when I returned. Only, when I returned it took me about two weeks to recover, I’d been bitten mercilessly by mosquitos and my leg had swollen, and then there was the jet lag. By the time I got back to training it was like starting all over again and the panic began to set in. This was August, I got up to around 7.5 miles, but that was the furthest I managed. However, one thing that did improve my waining confidence was meeting someone in the pub who was a runner. She was late fifties early sixties and she had recently run her first 10km, she’d run all the way without stopping. I almost begged her to tell me what the secret to running without stopping was. Turns out it’s to run slower. She told me to just slow down, don’t think about what everyone else is doing, the only person I’m competing against is myself. It was a lightbulb moment, and the following week I managed my first 5km without stopping even once. Suddenly my confidence was up again. However, work conspired against me and my training suffered yet again as I couldn’t fit it in. And then, suddenly, it was the day before and I hadn’t even gotten my Tommy’s vest out to check I could run in it. I’d hoped to lose weight before the race, but in fact, thanks to Mexico, I’d gained an extra stone. In a bid to feel better about myself I decided to go to Sports Direct and grab a new T-shirt and leggings to run in. Possibly the worst thing you can do is to change your kit for a race, if you’ve trained in something it’s best to stick with it. However, it didn’t matter, because even though I’d taken the biggest size they had on the rails they didn’t fit when I got home. I was mortified. And even though I KNOW that Sports Direct have weirdly smaller sizes, I was mortified and cried. And when my friend rang me to see if I was prepared for the race, I cried. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried and cried and cried because I already felt like a failure. What on earth was I doing? I was the only person ever to GAIN weight while training for a half marathon. I was going to let my sponsors down, I was going to let Tommy’s down and worst, oh far worst than that, I was letting Matilda down. I could not pull myself together.

I decided to order a big carb loaded Chinese takeaway and have a couple of pints of beer. I got my kit out, I shoved the crappy tiny Sports Direct clothes into the back of the wardrobe and I got my Tommy’s shirt out. I sat and filled in the back panel with Matilda’s name. I went to bed. I was resigned to walking the thirteen miles. I did not sleep a wink. Or rather I dreamt the whole night through. I dreamt I’d run it in flip flops, I dreamt I’d run it in a heavy rain coat with an umbrella, I dreamt I’d run along a crumbling cliff top, and then the alarm went off. And suddenly, all that nervous energy poured into me like fire. I got up and I KNEW I could do it. I don’t know what changed, I just felt entirely different. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought ‘I have done more taxing things than this, I’m running this because once I went to hell and I came back again. Thirteen miles is nowt.’

I got my stuff together, I took a photo for my Instagram account and I got in the car. I was doing it, and I was excited. The sun was just coming up over the moors and the sky was the most beautiful shade of blush pink, the heather was the most purple I’d seen it and Chris and I chatted to each other and joked and laughed, it felt like a day out, rather than something looming horribly.

It took a while to get there, to get the metro, which was packed, and to find where we were going. But it seemed to all go so quickly, before I knew it I was waving at Chris on the other side of the barrier and waiting to get started. There is an incredible feeling to the Great North Run; everyone is on the same side, there is banter on the cramped metro, complete strangers cheer you on from the sidelines. It’s an incredible feeling to be a part of it.

I cried quite a lot before and during the race, first when they played music in memory of the people that the charity fundraisers were running for, then when the count down started, once when someone, a complete random person shouted to me and told me I could do it, that I had come so far. This was at a point when I thought I couldn’t do it, when I felt I couldn’t finish. It spurred me on.

It took about an hour to get to the start line, once the racee had started, so far back was I in the slow slow group, and then we were off and I was trying to start my fitbit and panicking and then I was jogging and smiling and trying to slow my pace a little as I knew I was going faster than the pace I had trained at. It was exhilarating, enjoyable, the course was not unlike the hills around my home town and I felt confident. I missed the first mile marker, the first time I realised I’d gone anywhere past it was when I realised I was about to run over the Tyne bridge, and that fission of excitement and pleasure went through me, I was really doing it! After watching it on TV for years, I was doing it and I was doing it for Matilda. Around about the five km point it started to become much more uphill, and I started to struggle with the hills, but I kept on going, trying to slow myself down because I knew that slowing my pace meant that I would run much further. At around four miles my hamstrings felt tight, but not impossibly so, and I noticed a slight tug on my toes. I wondered, briefly, if my shoes might be too small, but dismissed the thought immediately because I’d been training in them for over a year, surely I would have noticed if they were too small?

I had to walk a tiny bit at five miles, a tiny bit at six miles, but at this point I was still running quiet well. When I passed seven miles and then the ten km marker I checked my times and was almost exactly the same as I had been for the York 10KM, I was set to achieve my target of two and a half hours. Then my knee started to tug a little, and the pain in my toes was starting to feel worse, it actually felt like I had put my toe through the end of my sock, like a tightening, but I’d passed seven miles I was doing well, I carried on, but the uphills, which seemed to be long and slow and hard as hard were wearing me out. Psychologically, I’d thought that once I reached ten miles I would be ok, because it was then ONLY three miles to the finish. I knew I could do three miles, it was nothing. But then I passed mile eight and hit the wall. The fabled wall. I pushed against it and slowed down, walked a little and actually stopped to stretch my ham strings as it was beginning to be very painful. Then I got back on it, but I was starting to weave a little and felt like I was in a dream. I swear the miles got longer at this point. I walked more, ran less, couldn’t stop thinking about the increasing pain in my toes. Mile nine just about killed me. Each time I stopped to walk the little bits I was allowing myself my toes were throbbing, I was looking at my shoes all the time, certain that I would start to see blood pooling though, and I had to stop to stretch out my hamstrings on that dodgy right leg more and more. At one point my knee felt like it had when I had injured it, but it immediately went off. I’d forgotten my energy gels, I’d left them in the car, so I substituted jelly babies that were being given out, and hoped for a sugar rush.  I drank more water, but I turned down the beers that people kept offering, yes, really! I allowed myself to walk for maybe a quarter of a mile. Then I checked my fitbit and realised I had lost the speed and momentum I’d had and my finish time was getting further away.

I finally made ten miles and didn’t get the rush of adrenaline I had counted on. I was passing the medical tents, limping a little now as my leg was so painful and my toes, oh god my toes were so painful. I found I was fine as I was running, they went numb, sort of, but I just could no longer run very far, the hills were killing me. I’d gone too fast at the beginning and burned myself out a bit, but I just kept thinking  ‘if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there’.  I stared at the ground, I couldn’t bear to see the world passing by so slowly. And then someone, someone random shouted my name, they’d read it on the front of my vest, ‘You can do this, Wendy, come on!’ and I started crying a bit because I was so knackered and my feet hurt so much and my hamstrings were so painful, my knee and my glutes and my lower back were so painful and I just kept looking at the medical tents and thinking how badly I wanted to collapse into there, and imagining myself telling people “I did my best’ and then I suddenly thought – I can do this – I can do this, I walk thirteen miles a day dog walking. So what if I walk the rest. I can do this. My body can do this. And my pace picked up.

At eleven miles I started to feel a bit of a second wind and found that, actually, on the flat I could still run for a good while before slowing and walking and I did, I started over taking people, I let go of the idea of finishing in any sort of good time and just concentrated on getting my body over the line. The crowds were incredible, the Tommy’s cheering point was a massive boost. I must have just looked in so much pain. But I managed a strangled ‘whoop’ and a thumbs up as I went by. Then I saw an Elvis impersonator singing in the middle of the road and it made me laugh, and another runner called Wendy shuffled past and gave the thumbs up and I saw a bunch of girls in tutus run off into KFC and that made me laugh too and I remembered that I wasn’t a professional runner and that I had just dragged myself around eleven miles, and I was doing ok. I was doing ok. Then I was turning the corner, up up up up up this hill, up and up this hill, and suddenly there was the sea. There was the beautiful, sparkling, perfect sea and the biggest, steepest down hill, and I knew I was so close. I ran down the hill and I ran around the corner and I started seeing people with medals and shiny blankets walking back from the finish line. And then there was the sign for 800 meters, there were no more miles, just meters and I tried so hard to run the rest of it, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. Then I saw the sign for 200 meters, and then I heard my husband shout me and I saw him in the stand and waved and grinned, because I was so close, and I cried a bit because he loves me and was shouting for me and cheering me on. I started running, and my toes felt like they were exploding, but I could see the finish and I had wanted, forever, forever and ever to be someone who got that finishing sprint in. I ran hard as I could, big strides, big painful strides and arms in the air cheering myself on through the finish and I grinned and grinned, and staggered. I staggered, and grinned and cried. And when they put my medal round my neck I cried and cried because I’d done it for Matilda. And I’d done it for myself.

I was so pleased I’d remembered to bring my sandals with me, my most comfortable shoes, Chris had carried them for me. I felt sure my toe nails would be off when I took my shoes off, but there was nothing to see. However, by the time we eventually got home, some six or seven hours later, it was clear that my shoes had in fact been a little too small, my left foot nails are now black and blue, my right toe nail developed a blister underneath the nail bed, where the under the skin end had repeatedly been rammed into the soft nail bed. So painful. I managed to lance it myself, thank goodness. I did not want to be the person visiting their GP with a pitiful blister. It was not pretty, but strangely satisfying. I am now able to walk again after two days were I could barely get on my feet. I am actually looking forward to wearing my finishers shirt to the gym, and doing my first little run since the race.

The donation page is still open, so if you fancy donating to a chubby girl who ran thirteen miles in too small shoes, please do. The link is here: Virgin money giving

One of the first things I said when I crossed the line, to Chris, was that I would never do that again. Never ever again. By the end of the next day I had signed up for 2018 GNR, and Chris has too.

3 hours, four minutes. Boom.

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Ginnels/snickets

 

The lovely people at Northern Soul are running a feature on ginnels, what we call snickets on this side of the border. It’s called Ginnel Watch and you should really check it out. There are some great pictures and features. Snickets are some an inherent part of any English town, you almost forget they’re there. I wanted to share with you this poem by the infinitely talented John Wedgewood Clarke, whose pamphlet In Between is all about the snickets of York. It was the first collection of his that I read and I would highly recommend it. I know he won’t mind me sharing this, it certainly needs a wider audience.

Straker’s Passage

Tend my gutter gardens with your eyes.
Touch me up, fumble into entrances,
tag my curves, follow footfalls
to the centre of your maze.
If you spin this brick with your hand,
I’ll grant you it back: cobbled skin,
flakes, crust and cloth. Geese on the Foss
bray clear through the clearance
of this scum, this hole in the city,
named for the stick slid across the surface
of corn measures, removing all excess,
the spilt seed gathered up and sold.

 

There’s a real mix of imagery here; of solid, tangible touchable things alongside the untouchable, the sounds of the geese, the flow of the Foss. They overlap like watermarks. York is an incredible city, its people are in the very ground, the stones. I love how this captures that feeling of continuity.

And so, to the business of any other news:

I’m back, after a break away from blogging. There were a few reasons I left, partly because I had taken some freelance work on and needed to get into a good routine so that I could see where I would fit extra curricular activities in, but I will admit that I was trolled by someone on my blog and it knocked my confidence a bit. I monitor all the responses to my posts, I am fully aware that people who have faced the utter devastation of child death and infertility read these posts and have had the courage to speak about their own experiences here on my blog, I will not put them in the line of fire from some ignorant basement dwelling sock wanker and their desperate need for attention at any costs. So if you want to troll someone talking about their life, the effects of baby loss etc etc you’ll not get the attention here.

Now I have had my little rant, I will quickly fill you in on some details. I passed my MA with a distinction! I had a fab time at the awards ceremony and met loads of lovely people, friends from Facebook amongst them. I am also no longer dog walking, I picked up some more freelance work and am actively looking for more. For the first time in my life I am not lying when I call myself a writer, because 80% of my income now comes from writing. It feels like a huge step forward, I am getting there. I would still like to have more time for more creative writing and more time for my PhD, but the hard truth is, if you don’t get funding for your PhD then you have to find the money to live, pay your bills and  your tuition fees, all while finding the twenty plus hours needed for the actual work. It’s worth it, it is hard, hard work, but I am still loving it. And now I have at least two full days a week which are devoted to it, so again, moving forward! And last but not least, my book is coming out mid October! I shall be upgrading this website so that it has a sales button on it, but you’re quite welcome to buy it from the wonderful people at Valley Press when it goes on sale. Eeeek!

For a sneak preview of a couple of poems being read by what appears to be a big guinea pig, you can view a video here: twitter link

Other things that I will be working on are using my You Tube channel more, and putting together some poetry Vlogs – reviews etc. So watch this space.

Until next week!

 

 

Spark Catchers by Lemn Sissay

Proletarian Poetry

gec-sponstAged sixteen, in my first (and only) year, as an apprentice at the General Electric Company, I went round the factory and sat with various workers for half a day each, to get to know what they did. One woman’s job involved, picking up a piece of component, putting it on small press, then pulling a lever to fit it. It took her less than two seconds to do one. When she had done about five, she said to me, “that’s it, love. That’s what I do.” This left ten seconds less than four hours to spend together, in which we had a good natter, and I learned a lot that had nothing to do with her job. Of course, it is only in looking back that I realised it was my first encounter in how society is diced and sliced in terms of gender and work, with the women…

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One week, six days, four hours and thirty three minutes booze free.

It’s nearly two weeks without a drink. I am missing it sometimes, other times not so much. I am sleeping better than I think I ever have, but evenings without a gin and tonic or a lovely big glass of cold, delicious wine are quite hard. There’s all this time to think, now,  and I don’t like it very much. In fact I’ve felt a bit down, to be honest, a bit lost. A bit empty, moods are up and down and there’s no where to go, now. There’s no where that I can go where I am not thinking. But perhaps that is the thing, perhaps now is the right time to start opening those doors and walking into the rooms in my head, pulling off the dust cloths and confronting stuff. Or maybe all I need to do is just be alive, be in the moment, be in the world and everything will sort itself out.

I am meditating better and for longer. I am finding that I slip easily into it, I go through the stages of meditation easier. But at other times I have no patience, I am ratty and cross and things take on a bigger significance than they should. I seem to feel intense love for the world, and intense anger at the world, flip flopping emotions. I am concentrating better, though the first week my head was all over the place and I felt like I had no energy at all. The second week involved lots more energy, lots more enjoyment of things I’d forgotten I liked. I got my big pro SLR out and started taking photos again. I think it’s probably been a few years since I used it. I do have an Instagram account,  I’ve always used my iPhone as a camera for the Instagram account, it’s so easy and simple and quick. And the iPhone is a pretty good point and click camera. But I want more. I want more substance.

I post a lot of food pics on intsagram, I post a lot of day to day stuff. I like it because it’s a form of social media that is instantly creative, I use it like a sort of diary, a non verbal diary that captures the little moments. I might start loading up the big camera photos, or I might start printing them onto canvasses or framing them for sale or…who knows. Maybe this is just for pleasure, just for me.

When I realised I needed to think about Embracing Plan B, which seems a long time ago now, but actually isn’t, I think I needed to think about the life I wanted to live, about what was important to me. I find visualising a great tool for motivation, and always the image of my life involved early morning walks, getting outside, going to places, experiencing things. Taking photographs, being in the world, not observing the world from a distance. Though, technically, I guess that’s what photography is.  I want to experience places, people, emotions, relationships, poetry, weather, writing, literature, art. Goodness, but being booze free is doing that. The extra thinking time is often the time that I use to get away, go out, go see things. I have a Nomo app on my phone which tells me how long I have been booze free, how much money I’ve saved (£65.99) etc. I have titled it ‘Lucid Living’ as I think that best represents what I’m aiming for. I think eventually I’d like to aim for sobriety over abstinence, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s something that is possible. The fact that I have no guilt spending money on books because of the money i am saving through not drinking is a bonus, and I find myself cooking more new recipes, trying new non alcoholic drinks and teas. Last Saturday I was on the beach at eight am with the dog, I saw a deer, it was so close I could see its eye lashes. And I wish I had had the camera so that I could catch that moment of absolute beauty, the deer stepping its needle tip feet to the earth, swan bent neck, smoke eyes, eyelashes, I wish I could have caught that moment of poetry. That’s when I decided to get the camera out again.

In everything else I am plodding on, a bit behind, waiting on decisions for projects, not much writing. But when I do write it feels like it’s not being wasted, it’s not empty. I am trying to get some funding or raise some money that would enable me to spend a few months cutting back on running the business so that I can start working on the next, next collection. But for now I am working on edits for Gifts the Mole Gave Me, which is hugely exciting. I am also making headway into a bit more freelancing work, which is great too. And uni work is ticking over slowly with me reading endless papers on language and poetry.

I am really looking forward to a holiday.

Featured heart ‘Choose Love’ image is one of my own, please do not use it without consulting me

 

For Manchester

Manchester, 2017

Wendy Pratt

 

I

Right now I don’t know

how to have a heart that isn’t broken.

The sea is still turning over

on Filey beach, the sandpipers are dipping

and running back. At five am

the world is distilled to my phone screen.

There’s no distance between my beach town

and your city.

 

II

A girl is letting go of her pink balloon

and running and running, on repeat.

 

Outside my window

a starling mimics the sound of my printer,

the cat is a puddle of black, the dog whines

in the kitchen.

 

A girl in a pink cowboy hat has dropped her bag

and is looking back to it, unable to tell

what is important to hold onto,

and what is not.

 

III

I message my friends, post

a status on Facebook, cry in the car,

frown at other drivers. At the traffic lights

we shake our heads in unison.

 

I share a link to the centre

where they ‘re taking blood to help

the survivors. This moment of hatred

has taken your blood. What can we do,

except offer our own love back,

fresh, as if  from a wound.

 

 

 

Keith Bennet

Yesterday the TV news kept circling around the death of serial child killer Ian Brady. There was the usual media feeding frenzy, interviews with lawyers, relatives, anyone who might have seen him in his last dying hours; everyone wondering what his last words were. It seems at the point of death he still managed to manipulate the crowd, sucking at the attention that he desperately wanted. I came across this incredible poem by award winning poet John Foggin, which says everything I wanted to about Winnie Johnson and the victims here, the non celebrities, the real prisoners. Do check out John Foggin’s Blog which is infinitely absorbing at any time.

The moors murders are so much a part of our shared cultural history, shared cultural pain, particularly in the north. Every time I go over saddle worth, crossing to the other side of the border to partake in readings or visit friends, every time I see that road sign to Saddleworth moor, those children are in my mind, particularly Keith Bennett. My heart breaks for Winnie Johnson. I wrote this poem years ago, it’s in my first full collection, Museum Pieces, published by Prolebooks, 2013, which can be bought directly from me, if you’re interested.

Over Saddleworth Moor

 

In the night, the lights

of houses are stars; villages,

constellations; the moors a deep

peat sky, the colours fused.

 

We have driven for hours, senseless,

the Pennine pass climbing

back to back with Manchester,

we brush the vertebrae unknowingly.

 

Only a signpost to Saddleworth;

a fleeting blink of a ghost pulls

the dark into my head. And for miles

I squint through my own reflection

 

to search dim verges, the blacker

moor shapes hemming the rising sun,

searching for an image of a child; daylight

glinting off his round spectacles, his smile

 

indelible as the landscape.

His small life and all the games and fibs,

tooth losses and tears, the real boy

in a world of terraced houses

 

and bread and tea is lost beneath

that photograph. But even this

image is papered over, lost, by one

of slut-heeled boots and she

 

crouching with a little dog tucked

into her coat. Crouching over a shallow

dip in the earth, down cast eyes

lying to the world about womanhood.

My Not So Brief History of Boozing

Seven years ago today I was burying my daughter. The weather today is not dissimilar: a warm breeze carrying blossom petals through the village, patches of sun as the clouds scud quickly across the sky, the smell of oil seed rape. I rarely think about the funeral. I do think about it when I’m up at the grave, I think about the procession to the grave, carrying her coffin to the hole in the ground. I think about the sudden and unexpected humour of my heels sinking into the soft ground and almost going over backwards. I think about the way I kissed a pink rose bud and threw it onto the white coffin lid, and how the ground closed over her and she was gone. Afterwards I went back to my mum’s with the small gaggle of funeral guests and we had tea and cake. Well, they all had tea and cake, I hit the wine like a train and then went to the pub with my dad and brother and husband and got wrecked. I was already wrecked.

Today I’ve woken up horrendously hungover, again, after an evening in which I drank far too much, far too quickly, before I’d had my tea. I’d wanted to watch the Eurovision song contest, but this morning it’s all a bit hazy and I have a bruise on my elbow that I have no idea how I got, and am staggering about in my dressing gown with the curtains closed, avoiding the neighbours because my lovely husband and I had a blazing row about something really silly, and the whole street must have heard. They’re out there now, like normal people, washing their cars and walking their dogs. And I’m here feeling rough as a badger’s arse and wondering why I do this to myself.

Since we gave up trying to have a baby, since we accepted childlessness my outlook has changed. I have worked hard to embrace a new life. I am really proud that I have found ways of completing myself, that I can look at my life and be extremely joyful. I’ve worked my way through my problems and have eventually found a way of liking myself, of loving myself. I have found a way to lift the weight of never having children, of the events of my child’s death. I will never not feel grief, but I can accept it as part of myself and feel happy again. I can let go of the longing for a family that has kept me trapped in a cycle of being triggered and trying to fight it. All brilliant. But there is one area of my life that I have not managed to address. And that’s booze. I CAN drink responsibly, I don’t drink every day. But always, always and without exception, once I have one drink, I want more. It’s like one drink is an invitation to a party, and if I can’t go to the party and I have to limit myself to just imagining the revelries from the other side of the door, then I become frustrated. This is something that nothing seems to change. Partly I think that it’s just the nature of booze, alcohol changes the way your brain works, so in a bit of a catch 22 the changes reduce your willpower and your ability to see that actually you enjoy being sober, or you enjoy being tipsy but you don’t enjoy making a tit of yourself and feeling utterly awful the next day. You remember all the good things, boozy lunches with friends, a cold, cold beer on holiday, a glass of clear, crisp Suav Blanc whilst cooking. But those nights when you were mean, or emotional or sweary or…insert awful booze memory here… get wiped out with that first drink.

I don’t remember the first drink I ever had. I remember tasting the foam on my dad’s pint. And I know it was awful. But I don’t remember my first drink. I remember drinking with my brother and sister, I remember going to a nightclub with them once, aged fourteen and getting stoned and/or drunk. I remember being drunk on a family holiday when I was maybe sixteen. I was so sick. I was so hungover. But while I was drunk, I felt attractive. While I was not drunk I was consumed by anxiety.  I couldn’t open my mouth because I was so anxious, I was a girl with hunched shoulders, not speaking to anyone, being so acutely aware of what other people might think of me, being so very anxious I couldn’t go into shops etc. When I was drunk I saw myself differently. It gave me confidence. It changed me into someone else. By the time I was seventeen I was drinking drinking. I could go on and one recounting awful substance abuse stories, booze stories but what would be the point?

These days, booze, on the whole, is not the big issue it was. But I do spend an awful lot of time planning booze drinking, waiting for my first drink, imagining drinks. Most things I do have a booze element attached and I have to say the majority of photos I have of myself include a drink of some sort. I think probably it’s not the issue it used to be, or rather I use it less as a tool to make myself feel better/different because, as I said earlier, I worked through my problems, I had a tonne of therapy, I came out the other side of my daughter’s death, having rebuilt myself and my life almost entirely. Her loss exploded through me. But now I am happy, on the whole. And then and then and then, this happens.

I think it’s time I addressed my ‘friend’ alcohol and really dealt with it. I’m going to start by seeing what life is actually like without it, setting my mini target as four weeks. Then I’m going on holiday, and I’ll see how I feel then.

I’ve done this before, it’s not solved anything, but perhaps this is the turning point. I gave up smoking about six months ago, and haven’t looked back. I no longer crave them. They served a purpose for a long time but now they don’t. perhaps booze is a similar thing. Perhaps it’s served it’s purpose. We’ll see.