Swallow Your Pride

Monday doesn’t start better when you’ve got a song like this one

One of my favourites. This man belted out some tunes, didn’t he? If you feel crappy, you just have to put ‘Lovely Day’ on. That stuff is better than drugs. I think all alarm clocks should play ‘Lovely Day’ instead of beeping.

I’m pretty sure that’s the soundtrack to the Feff’s waking up. That dog is JOYOUS. He just can’t wait for the day to start and for breakfast to come. It’s a bit of a full frontal assault for me these days, needing easing into the day as I do. I think I’m going to need a full Bill Withers playlist this morning. Public holiday today in France. Always makes me miss the shelter, which is shut today. Another of my favourites went on a trial on Friday – not sure of that dog’s history but it’s not a good one. Fingers crossed he realises that homes don’t get better for him than the one he’s gone to. Normally, Lidy comes out of her enclosure like some small, shouty, fighty thing – all “bring it on, dogs of Mornac, bring it on!” but her favourite enemies have either changed position or found a home. On Saturday, she burst out of there and the only dog who was interested in her arrival was Putchy the chihuahua. Lidy brings ‘come out fighting’ to a new level. We’ve been doing ‘ donne’ in preparation for giving up toys or other things without a fight, and ‘laisse’ – which she has got to a perfection. I had biscuits all the way up her legs on Saturday and she was just looking at me like ‘You know me better, Emma, than to think this would fox me.’ She is right. We’re gearing up to other distractions. The world is a distracting place for Miss Lidy. She is sharper than any other dog I’ve worked with. Blazed through touch-targeting, her sit is pretty rock solid, and her down is good – getting there with the stay. Getting in and out without a fight depends very much on her audience. Funnily enough, another mali female has started the same mouthy, jumpy exits… they are not alone. When you come out for a walk and you have to pass God knows how many other dogs amping up the excitement level by 500, it’s not a surprise.

Today is Heston’s day, anyway. He is five years old today! Weather permitting, we’re doing Heston’s favourite thing today. Woodland hikes. It’s been a bit rubbish the last couple of days for walks. He has a new squeaky Kong rugby ball, his toy of choice. That dog loves a squeaker.

My Heston Star, much maligned. His favourite birthday present would be that the Feff finds a home.

Anyhow, we’re off to try and find a bit of sunshine and warmth to celebrate the fifth year of his life, and to try to avoid all the things that turn him into Charlie Sheen, and all the things that piss us both off. Some for me more than him and some for him more than me.

You’ve got to run to win

Another Monday, and a short blast of Van Halen for you. Why the devil not?

It was a sunny, cold wind kind of a week, the kind that is great for stacks of washing and tidying up. Not easy with three dogs in full moult to keep everything even basically clean. At least the fire is over and done with this side of the summer.

Kind of a hectic week but a week when I seemed to get a lot done, for once. Unit 16 is now submitted for my dog behaviour course, and there’s just a dissertation to write. The jury is still out as to which topic I’ll be picking though. I am so interested in so many aspects of working with dogs.

Last week we started with a bank holiday, which was sorely needed. Since everywhere is shut Sunday, and since everywhere was shut Monday too, it didn’t half make a difference to my workload! I have clients every evening except Friday evening, but teaching on Sunday and Monday when you’ve had all day to get stuff done does feel like an achievement. Tuesday I had a cancellation, and even though I’ve had morning classes, I don’t mind that either. It’s gearing up to be a busy few months. Sunny, cool afternoons with Miss Lidy, Mr Hagrid and the other lovelies was also nice – Lidy is such an amazing dog – except for the complete lack of impulse control I should add! – I taught her “Leave it!” this Wednesday and Thursday and reinforced it Saturday. I usually leave her a handful of treats in her bed so I can get out without issue, but her “Leave it!” was so good that she didn’t go in to pick them up. Time to build in “Get it!” She is so biddable and so trainable. I hope she goes to a most magnificent home.

Hagrid has a couple of weeks of refuge time left, all being well. I’m glad. He’s tired and slow these days, achy and half-given up. If only he knew what awaits. Keep your fingers so well and truly crossed, universe. Well and truly crossed.

Nice too to have a bit of time with a couple of others. I’ve started some rehab work with a dog called Estas – he’s a little pudding with frustration issues. What I love is that so many dogs have got their champions… people who think they are just marvellous. It made me really sad last week to read the comments on the page of a trainer who is giving up working with what he calls ‘aggression’ cases. What was worse was all the comments underneath that seemed to suggest we should return to brute force learning (kind of ‘bring back the cane’ arguments) or that rescue dogs are in some way responsible for all aggression. Hate to tell you this, people, but most dogs belonged to someone once. They aren’t damaged BECAUSE they are a rescue. In fact, most aren’t ‘damaged’ at all, and despite every crappy thing that has happened to them, they are resilient, blithe spirits. Anyway…. redirected anger and bluster. No wonder I understand dogs so well!

This week brings the second week of French holidays, and a return to school for my UK students who weren’t back already. GCSEs are gearing up. Flights are booked back to the UK for June meetings and I suppose I better start girding my loins for May. It all kicks off at the beginning of May and I know it won’t settle down until late August.

Deep breaths!

Happy in the haze

A bit of Salford’s finest for you this Monday morning.

You can’t beat a bit of the Smiths for passive aggressivity.

Well, my wishes were granted – lots and lots of blue skies and warm weather. I just love this time of year. Lunch with friends last Monday was just perfect out in the sun in Angoulême in t-shirts and summer shoes. Sure, we had a couple of overcast days, but the balance was definitely in favour of the blue.

Today, I’m finishing off my last assignment before my thesis for my canine behaviour practitioner course… breed specific legislation. I’m sure I don’t need to share with you the idiocy of this. I think every single person who owns a dog should do the mandatory training. It would save a fair few dogs being left at the shelter or returned. One young dog was returned on Friday night. His crime is that he is a young dog, and the owner wanted him to behave like a well-trained seven-year-old. She could have taken a well-trained seven-year-old in the first place, but there is no pleasing some people. If you want young, you’ve got to invest in a dog’s education and occupation to get the older dog you want.

After that, I have either two months to do the dissertation, or will have to put it off until I have finished GCSE marking…. will have to see how it goes.

The first family of kittens arrived on Saturday to the shelter, so I scooped them up. Truth be told, it is strange not having kittens in the bathroom. I don’t know how people cope without them. But as cute as they are, I would so much prefer that there were no kittens at all. Luckily, more and more people are choosing to get a shelter cat – after all, it’s way cheaper than a ‘free’ one and if you want an all-purpose moggy, there’s a lot to choose from.

This week is a short one: today is a national holiday in France, and my UK GCSE students are back at school or away. My French-based students are off gallivanting. Although I’ve got lessons every night as per usual, it does make a difference having a slight reduction from last week. What I plan on doing today is spending every single minute in the garden. The apple blossom is superb and the temperature is just perfect for me. Oh for a country where every day is 20°C with a warm wind. But as Morrissey would no doubt say, we’d all be miserable there too if we had it.

Have a great week and enjoy your Monday


The real surprise

Bit of The Cars for you this Monday morning.  I spent all yesterday listening to David Lee Roth but his lycra and crazy eyes are a bit much even for me on a Monday morning. Talk about full frontal assault. Love you DLR, but you’re a crazy-pants kind of guy.

Feels like everything is speeding up as we edge into summer – those warm mornings are just fantastic. More please! Busy one last week as it’s the Easter holidays in the UK and with so many GCSE students with exams coming up, everyone’s trying to cram in a couple more.

I spent a goodly part of the week with Miss Lidy at Mornac. I confess I am mad about the girl. She’d be just perfect for schutzhund stuff, agility or competitive obedience, but … as a dog without papers and pedigree, she’s ‘worthless’. It makes me so mad. On her papers, she’s down as a Tervueren, which are the long-haired Belgian shepherds, and she’s patently not that. And she’s small for a mali. Either way, shepherd she is. I was reading about the effects of dopamine D4 receptor genes on Friday night (because that’s how I roll these days) which are implicated in impulsivity as well as other things. One of the studies was comparing the genes of four shepherd breeds with the European wolf, and it was quite marked that the Tervueren group had higher impulsivity and a more frequent appearance of certain genetic markers. Channelling it is the challenge. Other studies show the effects of different types of parenting on children who present the same behaviours and genetic markers – I can’t help but think what an amazing dog Lidy could have been if her first owner had got it right.

And as for a home? Perhaps someone who lives like I do, except with room in their life for one Lidy and nobody else. Mind you, with a dog like her, you’d not need any others. She is ALL dog, 24 hours a day. Interestingly though, even though she’s an impulsive kind of dog, I don’t find it aggressive or that she is hyperactive – and most of the studies explore impulsivity and its correlation to aggression and hyperactivity.

I submitted assignment 15 for my behaviour course last Friday – I’d earmarked it for a Monday submission, but in typical Emma fashion, I’d not finished and it ended up taking longer. This one was on senior dogs and grieving the loss of a dog, which perhaps accounts for why it took me so long. That Tobby grief is still raw. It’s two years to the day since I adopted him, and coming up on five months since he died. Life is not the same without a malinois.

Assignment 16 will be easier. It’s one about dog law in France – and that is something that always interests me. The hard thing will be narrowing myself down for the final dissertation. I’ve too many ideas to follow, and too many of them are interesting. Some of the stuff that interests me is working with families and their dogs, and my consultancy background offers ways of working in new ways. But then I’d kind of like to explore working with reactive dogs in more depth, or impulsive dogs… and have a science lab who can run DNA tests for me or analyse saliva samples….

After this… I don’t think I want to stop there. The centre who are leading the course are going to be offering an advanced diploma, but I feel like it’s time for a bit of a break and some more practical courses. As per usual, Heston is my willing test subject for a lot of the practical stuff.

Today, lunch with the ladies and then piles of GCSE students this evening… tomorrow, more GCSE and more in the evening… it feels like the next two months will pass very quickly before GCSE marking starts. To that end, I’m giving up on netflix for two months – I tend to watch an episode or two of something when I’m eating or listen to it when I’m on Facebook, but I think my internet time will be rather curtailed whilst I get everything else out of the way. How did we live before the internet? I don’t even know. I have vague memories of long evenings and a pile of library books, or evening A level courses, picking up a few extra students here and there for a bit more cash or going to the gym after work. Life is so different these days. I think it’ll do me good to have a break from the screen.

Anyway, have a good Monday, enjoy the sun if you have it, take time to stop and breathe once in a while!

Because all the while

A bit of The Who for you this spring morning

Last week was a busy’un, trying to make sure I’d got myself organised for a training session on Friday morning. Despite a bit of rain, it was good to share the day with some really lovely people and spend the day talking about Hestons and their shouty ways. Hagrid’s future owner came and spent a couple of hours with him and it doesn’t half make me feel proud seeing this dog who was at risk of being euthanised for his behaviour. He’s come a long, long way. It doesn’t always end well for dogs like him, not by a long shot.

Been a chilly old week as well – hopefully we’ll get some sunshine to warm up our old bones.

I’ve got assignment 15 out of 16 to submit today for my dog behaviour course – I can’t believe I’ve actually completed so much. This one was easy for content and hard to write: elderly dogs and their care. Always very hard to write about those final months, days or hours with a treasured pet. I know I’ve had two and a half years of seniors here, but we’re in a happy position at the shelter of having found homes for a lot of our oldies. Just after Christmas, we had thirteen oldies on the books – and when the cold snap hit, there was a big push to get them in shelters. Benji spent a couple of weeks here before finding a home, and Gaven who spent a week or so at my dad’s found his home too. With our resident rotties Amon and Aster reserved, it leaves us with three oldies. Pretty amazing. Pilou is next on my list for a really, really big push. He’s been here a long time and it’s time he found a home of his own. Casimir and Yola have just arrived, so here’s hoping for a quick home. What was great was that a lot of those winter fosters turned into adoptions. You can’t ask for more.

I won’t be taking on another oldie for the foreseeable future. Tilly is 12 this year and Amigo, although his paperwork says 9, is certainly not. His lungs are not in good shape and he struggles often to breathe. He seems to have recovered physically from his stroke, but often he seems a little lost or disorientated. He is also completely deaf. We went for his vaccinations last week – he just had leptospirosis this time and the vet said not to bother with the others. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to suggest it wasn’t worth it as she didn’t think he’d be sticking around much longer – though many vets are now saying there is little point vaccinating bigger dogs over the age of 7 as their vaccines so far should see them through. Lepto is a yearly one – more and more dogs are presenting with it here, so it’s not one I’d miss out.

This week will be putting the final touches to assignment 16, which is the last before the dissertation. It’s one on breed specific law in France, something I know inside out. I know it doesn’t make me best popular. In fact, someone posted a picture of a dog they wanted to rehome on a local Facebook site, advertising the dog as a retriever x rottweiler. Rottie Xs are subject to specific conditions of adoption, so I asked her if the vet knew for sure the dog was a rottweiler x… after a few posts intimating I knew nothing and should keep my sticky beak out (love that when trying to save someone from having a dog that can be seized and destroyed!) … she said that the dog’s colour was the only rottie thing about it. Yes, because only rottweilers are black with tan socks, face markings and pips. Grrr. I’m sure all the breeds from dachshund, minpins, hovawarts, dobies cockers and Bruno du Jura upto beauceron are just rotties as well. Must be. Same colour.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t a complete arse on the same group who likes to always make some snarky comment every time I post. He’s still got hurt feelings from when I told him to wind his neck in a few months back. Men and their delicate egos.

Anyhow, I have floors to sweep and kitchens to mop… have a fabulous week!



How Much Should We Give?

Bit of a step back in time today for a Monday incentive  to put a spring in your stride…

It does feel a bit like give-give-give at the moment.

I’ve been working with Lidy at the shelter this week to build in frustration tolerance and a bit of patience, a few manners and so on. She’s a cracking dog. I’m really, really taken with her. I mean… really. She is such a smart dog. Hard-faced when you first know her, then all soft eyes and belly rubs. It torments me that she does Tobby’s soft eyes and relaxed smile. I mean really torments me. Plus, she has such a bad (and deserved) reputation. Not a dog for first-time owners by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve spent all my lunchtimes this week taking her out and giving her a bit of a reminder about how to behave with people, and when she cried to see me on Friday, it practically broke my heart. That’s very tough.

We had a drop-off in Poitiers to do this week again, and instead of Ruth listening to me prattling on, I took my dad. We had Larry, Loyd and the inappropriately-named Fifi to drop off. Fifi is a boy. He doesn’t care much for his name. Loyd was terrified and took a bit of wrangling to get into the van. For the first time, Fifi looked scared too – I really hope they all arrived safely in their new shelters. All three were boys that nobody looked twice at here.

It was also magazine run week and another few errands as well. I don’t think this week will be much quieter, and I’m looking forward to Easter, though I have so many GCSE students this year that I might as well give up any hope for a break of any kind.

I think I ended up accidentally offending the world last week. I upset some woman with some accidental science she disagreed with, and then upset some meat-eaters by accident who didn’t like to be implied that they don’t love animals as much as vegans (sorry – that’s not me speaking, either…. that’s a survey of your peers, dude) and then I upset some other people. If I’d not become so very efficient at pissing people off, I’d have thought Mercury had slipped into retrograde again. Thankfully, all of these people felt free to take issue with whatever thing stuck in their craw. What makes me most sad are people who don’t tell you that you’ve pissed them off, and then behave like smiling assassins, slagging you off to all and sundry even when they’ve taken issue with something that someone else told them that you might once have done. Maybe. And rude people. Since when did it become okay to say what the hell you like to other people? There was a court case up for hearing at the tribunal here, and if the judge could take into account the various death threats and insults, I think the guy would probably have been locked up. By all accounts, the lawyers had never been threatened in such a way before. The world doesn’t feel like a very harmonious place at the moment. I think it would be great if people just took a breath.

Anyway, this week is a busy one as per… Double lessons today, and Lidy Lunchbreaks and final drop-offs. Tomorrow I absolutely must get on top of the grass situation, as I’m one wet week away from living in a jungle. I’m running a training course here on Friday for reactive dogs, and I simply can’t expect people to accept the huge Feff-sized turds in the garden, or the knee-high grass.

Have a lovely week, and make it your mission to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you meet.


You still believe

Last week’s sunshine couldn’t have been more welcome. Hopefully it’s shining today on my friends back in the UK. Thinking of them all.

Bit of Pharrell for you this morning. I don’t think it’s possible to feel sad if you listen to this:

Off out to lunch today with my favourite ladies and very much in need of some human time. I had a fab trip to Poitiers with Ruth as well on Friday, which took me more into the land of the living. When you spend all your time with antisocial dogs, I guess you pick up their habits and it was good to spend a full four hours talking to an actual adult, as opposed to my super-talented students, and also as opposed to talking to dogs, who don’t do much by way of replying. I’m very much looking forward to some more human time today too.

I spent a lot of last week with a hard-eyed shepherd called Lidi, who had more than begun to soften by the end of the week. She is so super-smart that it hurts. She learned touch-targeting in two goes, ‘look at me’ in the same, and blasted through my basic obedience programme in twenty minutes. I’m moving her on through In the Doghouse’s Rookie trick training this week – left paw and right paw, stand, leave it (which we already started), peek-a-boo and leg jumps. She’s a girl who loves to work and she is so focused. Makes a change from the eight months it’s taken Effel to learn to pick stuff up in his mouth to move it. You’d have thought Tobby would have taught him well, but no. Eight months. I cheered so loud when he picked the ball up – he was so pleased with himself, bless him. It was just fabulous to get out into the garden, but very weird not to have Tobby moving any toys that have not been claimed. Amigo and I have been doing a lot of gentle stuff to give him his balance back, but also because that cheeky old giffer has become a bit of a rapscallion since his stroke. He never liked walking on the lead – what happens when you teach with punishment rather than love – so I let him off because his recall is good. But since he is now deaf, his recall is obviously non-existent and that cheeky beggar has been taking advantage and buggering off to do his own thing. He hates being on the lead and obviously doesn’t get the exercise he needs, so it’s good for him to do a little fetch and some chewing – his breathing is very poor though his balance is much better.

Bit of a busy one after that for me – assignment 14 is ready to send off…. a fair few drop-offs on Thursday, and I hope I have the sun for some of them. The sun seems to have given me back a bit of energy – it was well-needed!

Much love to you all this March Monday. The spring equinox means the worst of the winter is over. Here’s to a most blossomy day.

Don’t believe me just watch

Time spring got a move on as I’m tired of waiting around for it. In the meantime, a bit of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for you

If you’re a fan of Carpool Karaoke, the Bruno Mars one is particularly good.  I think I’m in need of a week of  sunshine songs – feels like we’ve had a lot of grey misery recently. Nice to get out on Friday and Saturday and enjoy the fresh air for once.

Still, being in the garden without a certain Wobbly Bob is very tough. It’s weird not having to constantly keep an eye out for him and check he’s not toddling off up the hill in search of a new home. Funny too that my Mr. Hyper-Attachment who followed me everywhere should have left me doing the same things, looking for him everywhere and not feeling quite right without him. Talk about separation anxiety. I find myself hankering for Malinois.

Last week was back to school – though to be fair, I’d not really had anything of a break. It just brings a bit more routine. I finished another of my assignments about separation anxiety (hence the rather sobering realisation that it’s now me left with hyperattachment!) and this week’s is rescue dogs. Kind of my bread and butter, you’d think. I raced through photographs on Friday and spent a couple of hours with Lidi and Hagrid. Hagrid’s affable compared to Lidi. She looks at you like she’s just weighing up whether she can tolerate your requests or whether it’d be quicker to take out the middle-man and do as she pleases. Hagrid’s all soft eyes around people and hard-eyed around many dogs. Lidi’s hard eyes, all the time. One day at a time.

This week is just more of the usual. Hopefully sunshine later in the week. Nothing promising today though. I thought last week might bring the river back – it smelled distinctly swampy out there at points. But no. So far, river-free. Mind you, the garden has been flooded in May sometimes in the last seven years – wouldn’t be surprised to see it again. I’m at that point where I’m restless, knowing how much will need to be done in the coming months, yet it’s still fairly under control. Looking back, we seem to be a couple of weeks earlier with everything than we’ve been in the past – it was another incredibly mild winter, if a grey and dull one. I managed to get in a bit of TV and a couple of books last week – will be a while before there is another lull like that. I finished watching The Good Wife, which was quite excellent – and bored of Netflix now. It’s a good time to get active when you run out of stuff you want to watch. I’m long past tolerating things with one or two series – I’d rather come to something late and know it’s worth the time investment.

Anyway, have a lovely Monday. Today is hurricane-free, which is more than I can say about last Monday. Hoorah!


The sparkle in your eyes

Another Monday and another song that reminds me very much of a friend from school.

I’m sure she would be smiling if she heard this song. I know she’d have shared my thoughts back in 1988 that you can’t beat a bit of Billy Duffy of a Monday morning.

Much love for history lesson notes, the time my ‘Ode to Dode’ got intercepted by Miss Ceb (whose response of ‘My lips are sealed’ makes her one of the coolest teachers who ever lived) Much love for art lessons and French with Mrs Ackroyd, her backward cardigans and her chignon, for PE lessons and gymnastic routines to New Order, swimming lessons, hanging out in various adult-free locations in Holcombe Brook, to one February night in 1990 when we went to see Michael Monroe, to reading Just Seventeen and listening to Simple Minds… signing letters ‘Gros bisous, Bunts xx’ and all of the girls in my class who were my inspiration.

This week has been one of much rain and much refuge time – holidays are quieter for me and busier for our usual volunteers. It’s been a muddy, horrible kind of a week, so nothing to be done in the garden. Last March, my garden looked like this:


But then it rained and rained and rained and the river came back, so it didn’t look like this very long.

It’s a bit unwieldy at the moment. It’s been so yucky that I’ve stayed in and finished the body of most of my remaining assignments for my dog behaviour course. Only the dissertation left to do now! Mind you, since the last ones were separation anxiety, rescue dogs, geriatric dogs and canine law in France, they are much more ‘my’ territory than earlier ones which involved a lot more study.

At the end of March (weather not withstanding) I’m running a day about reactive dogs here. Hopefully it will be the first of many days about dog behaviour or working with dogs, and I’m excited to see how it goes.

My own dogs are tolerating the rain. Amigo seems to have some cognitive repurcussions of his stroke in January, but he is only five weeks out of it, bless him. He’s completely deaf too, which also has its own issues. He’s still hanging in though, and that’s what counts. Me and the Tilly particularly like rainy days as it means staying in and sitting on the couch in front of the fire. Nothing better than a cocker squashed up right next to you.

This week, all the ‘can we leave it til next week?’ appointments to be squashed in alongside some stuff in the garden. I have to face it and stop being so mard. A bit of windchill never hurt anyone, did it? March is NOT one of my favourite months when it’s cold and wet.

Oh, and for the first time this year, I got ahead of my 1000 Mile target. I’m walking 1000 miles to raise money for the shelter, and that means 2.70-something miles a day. I’d finally got ahead after spending three afternoons at the refuge this week, but I get the feeling if it looks chilly, I might really rather stay in bed tomorrow. Bleurgh. Wet March weather.

Anyway, gros bisous à toutes et à tous. Have a fantastic week.


Do it till you’re dizzy

A shitty Monday and hard to choose a song that makes me smile. When someone had kind of similar musical tastes to the teenage you, and even signed off letters as “Billy Duffy”,  I hadn’t really realised how much some music reminded me of one of those teenage friends. Even Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ reminds me of one friend… though INXS, Terence Trent d’Arby, Simple Minds, The Cult and Aerosmith remind me more of them. Music, like scent, is one of those things that transports me right back to the moments that I treasure the most.

A song that I hope would make my friend smile as much as it does for me.

I know I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the past. I loved it back there (and I love it here now) but school was good to me. I met a lot of women who inspired me greatly (Miss Dawson and Miss Mullineaux, that’d be two!) with many teachers who genuinely cared about their students – hand-copied poems from my English teacher and an RE teacher who soaked up the sadness on more times than I could count – and teachers who, if not causing you to write missives to the headteacher about how very terrible they were, were casually allowing you to squander your time by doing dictations so very slowly that you could quite easily converse with your friends in copious note-passing sessions. We had crappy teachers and mean teachers, teachers who didn’t understand teenagers and teachers who were so very geeky that it hurt, teachers who treasured us and teachers who inspired us.

But what really made school were the friends that I made there – so many of them have gone on to do such amazing things. Lots of us live in far-flung places, from Canada to the US, to Dubai, to Australia, to New Zealand. There’s a bit of the Class of 89 in many corners of the globe, and every single time I see a photo of a friend’s family, a holiday snap, a wedding, a birth, an achievement, it gives me such a burst of joy. In many ways, these are the people who knew me the best, who knew me when I was becoming who I am, who made me what I am. They’re people who shared my teenage passions for A-ha and Wham, who remember Live Aid and field trips, the bridge and the Interchange, and who can still make you laugh when they remind you of gym lessons or swimming lessons, or sneaking off for a fag on the bridge.

Facebook is a marvellous thing in many ways for me. I get to share a bit of the happy ending for many of the people who meant so much to me when I was young. But there are many people who I lost touch with too – and who seem lost forever. Some of those friends are very much missing in my life and I wish I saw their faces in my daily Facebook feed. I can’t tell you how much I miss Laura and Anna who are very much missing pieces in my friends-of-the-past jigsaw.

I suspect the coming weeks will be full of school memories and remembered joys of teenage life… sometimes those memories are the only way to offset the shittiness of the universe that means some of those endings are not so happy at all. Big, most massive love to all my friends in the UK.