Mum About Town

Emma is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger and online marketer. When she’s not writing, she gets down with her Smalls, bigs-it-up with Him and swans around London reporting for her blog.

Benenden Revisited

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Monday, 09 March 2015
I never honestly thought I'd go back. Actually, I could think of a million reasons not to make the journey. Logistically and emotionally on one hand while feeling utterly detached and that it would be slightly pointless on the other. And I certainly was not looking for anything as dramatic as closure. How could I possibly benefit from this St Trinian's time-travel? All the time rationalising just how natural it is for us to move on and remember (most) fondly and, besides, that summer's day in 1990, I really did leave behind that part of me in Kent.

But encouragement to join the 25th anniversary of boarding school life was firing at me from all angles. Many suggested I might regret not going. Others implied I had nothing to lose. I wasn't really swayed by either but I was curious to know what it was that I feared facing. For those who haven't lived in a boarding house, it is hard to explain. I suppose, in reality, this hadn't been simply 'school'. It had been our home. And for seven years, these school friends had been a wonderful combination of flat mates, soul mates and partners-in-crime just as those girls in Madeline stories: in two straight lines we broke our bread and brushed our teeth and went to bed.

And so, last Friday, I jumped aboard the all-familiar school train from Charing Cross to Staplehurst, joined by those same London faces I would eagerly look out for as my parents waved me off. This time there was no bottle of Bacardi in a brown paper bag nor any excessive leaning out of those rattling carriage doors as a much more modern train sped into the deepest, remotest English countryside.

This time mischievous chit-chat was replaced by a 25 year life update as we hurtled though marriages, offspring and sadly ageing parents. Slightly nervous, but definitely giggly and girly, our incessant conversations filled the carriage as it had done all those years ago. And, before long, we were draining our first glass of white wine in the main school entrance hall, slightly stunned by the grandeur, formality and traditional setting of our childhood.

A lunch, which in no way resembled previous school dinners, followed. The tales across the tables flowed as easily as the wine. It was baffling to witness how, in a flash, we all tied together again. Those teenagers, with whom we had eaten so many meals, seemed hardly to have changed. And I relaxed realising that back in those wood-paneled rooms with wrought-iron windows, over looking acres and acres of Kent countryside, we had been transported back to our former selves.

As it happens, I wasn't alone in my indecision to attend. Most admitted to having dreaded the thought of the reunion. But we're so often reminded that school days are the best days of our lives. And I did, in fact, have a ball for 7 years straight. So what on earth was the issue? Was the idea of looking back on what we have/haven't achieved so daunting? Were we wondering how much we might/might not have changed? Or did we fear the school and our peers might not live up to our memories?

And how did it all end? Well, we laughed, we remembered, we reminised and we laughed some more but, despite all this, I shall probably never return again...

London Fashion WEAK

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on Wednesday, 25 February 2015
It's a funny old week of fashion business, with catwalks spinning around the cities of the globe quicker than you can say Tom Ford or Victoria Beckham. Tottering over in heels, the droves of fashionistas land in our capital on a mission to show, tell and meet their favourite designer, brand or a la mode idol. Many hell bent on being snapped by those with a snappy photography habit before sipping a cocktail or two with equally passionate trend-followers.

In reality though, it's enough to make you feel weak, at more than the knees. Not enough hot meals to go round, endless walking/standing in stilts and often dressed in the least comfortable attire – in some vane (or maybe vain) attempt to be noticed.

And then there's the sweeping wave of FOMO too. Top of the shops is always going to be Top Shop closely followed by Burberry as the hottest ticket in (show) town. Elbowing in to get a first glimpse at those styles, faces, trends, images... what's in and what's out... who's in the frow?

Before long the city empties out and the colourful creatures fly on, while I'm left wondering if this frenzy of fashion is a moment of weakness or simply a week of passionate pester-power to fuel our next (fashion) purchase?

Oh Dear Myleene

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Friday, 20 February 2015
I'm feeling the urge to join in the Myleene madness. Small is celebrating 9 years this coming Monday and I'm being asked what he might be lacking. Of course, the honest answer is 'nothing at all'. My small boy is happy with all that he has and lacks absolutely nothing. But... he did manage to destroy our football goal in the garden so is saving up to replace it.

And so, as I suggest an Amazon voucher, I hit Myleene Klass territory. Having publically shamed a mother at her daughter's school for asking for Cash-for-Kindle, a debate has since raged over cash versus presents. For the over privileged child, I should add.

A whip around has never been a bad idea. On the other hand, shamefully outing a fellow mum has. Perhaps on the search for a little self-publicity, I think Myleene might have missed the crucial point. It certainly wasn't greed which sent the accused email but a brilliantly resourceful mother who was ensuring that her child didn't receive a spoilt pile of endless (slightly useless) gifts.

Isn't it curious how a millionaire can get the act of gifting so very wrong?

Homework Hater!

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 05 February 2015
I (bloody) hate homework. Am I even allowed to say aloud something so anti-establishment, let alone type on a screen? Apologies if I've offended, but it's the bane of my afternoons and, quite frankly, absolutely shouldn't be. Sometimes I wonder what I would rather do – eat dirt? hand wash a jumper? or peel vegetables? And they ALL win – hands down. Because homework is evil and boring and not the way I want to spend the end of the day with my tired children.

Tonight's evilness was a perfect example. Our homework hour was spent doing a Science reading comprehension about sources of hydration, a French word search and some tricky Maths problems. A couple of doors were slammed and pencils thrown and, only once we'd all had a big bowl of spag bol, had the tension subsided.

I remember once, at those infamous school gates, hearing talk of that school which doesn't give their pupils any homework. Only lightly requested to read a book and relax once home from school, this genius institution immediately shone the light in my eyes. How very innovative, utterly forward thinking, I thought to myself.

Of course, real people in the real world do work after office hours but these underage minors have all that to look forward to and should really be allowed to play a game, discuss the trials and tribulations of their day and read 'that book'.

Oh well... maybe... one day. Until then, we'd better run through those ludicrous spelling words.

Page Three?

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 29 January 2015
I hate to be made a fool of. And, last week, I fell hook, line and sinker for the gag to end boobs in The Sun newspaper. Actually, News International tricked quite a few of us as we leapt for joy that – finally – our national rag had come to its sense and realised that boobs in page 3 don't sit as well as they might have done 44 odd years ago.

The thing is I'm not a prude. Not really. There's a time and a place for big bouncing boobs but I'm just not sure it's page 3. A couple of weeks ago my 10 year old and I were admiring Allen Jones' exhibition at the Royal Academy. She took the bondage pop art in her stride. I, in turn, glorified Jones as a pioneer and artistic rebel. A prime example of boobs that don't disturb.

But how can I explain to my daughter as she flicks through a copy of The Sun that this is how some of our society choose to view women? Men who love cheap thrills and have forgotten what a beach in the South of France looks like. It becomes tricky boob messaging.

So, my point here is that I'm just not sure we still need Page Three, now that it appears to be back. I'm certainly not trying to restrict free speech nor ask women to hide under a burka. The debate is really one of national pride and not about banning a pair of naked naughties. It's about the society in which we live and perhaps relocating the boobs to a less visible part of the daily newspaper.


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