Goodbye my friend

Where did 2016 go?  It seems like no time ago I was wishing for summer to arrive, then wishing that summer would rush by so our annual big vacation would come around more quickly.

Now that vacation is long over and we are into December with Christmas just around the corner

As 2016 draws to a close I look back and think of the famous faces we have lost this year and there certainly were quite a few.

I think the biggest shock and the celebrity death which affected me most was David Bowie.  I grew up on Bowie music, bought all the records and his music was the soundtrack to much of my teens. I was fascinated by his transitions into different characters and the change to his sound.  While I was never a fan of his more recent work, I was devastated when I switched on the TV back in January and saw the news, I subsequently played his albums in the car for many weeks to follow.

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Bowie – soundtrack to my youth

I remember some years ago, saying, to nobody in particular, ‘when David Bowie dies, that will be a big piece of my growing up laid to rest’.  And so it was.

Prince’s death was also a shock, I was never a really huge fan but as his back catalogue played out on TV and radio, I remembered what a talented musician he was and remembered good times in my life listening to his music.

For me, the saddest moment was when I heard the news of the passing of Muhammad Ali. I was practically brought up on boxing, my dad was a huge fan, he would look forward to receiving delivery of his Boxing News magazine and in the days before cable and home satellite tv he would go to watch fights beamed in to the local cinema.  Our house was filled with Ali t-shirts, photos, replica trophies, books, videos, and newspaper cuttings, I seem to remember he even wrote to the big man himself once.

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Ali – my Dad’s hero

My parents are terrible communicators, I maintain they were the last people to know that Princess Diana had died, it was only when I called them that fateful day at 5pm to complain to my dad that the Premier League football had all been cancelled, that they finally found out.  So, it was inevitable that I would be the one to break the news to them about Ali’s death over the phone.  Sadly the same day, my Godfather, also an Ali fan and very good friend of my parents in their younger days, also passed away.
I inherited my dad’s love of the sport although it has changed so much since the days of Joe Frazier, Ali and the other greats.  ‘Ali Bomaye

While I’m not one for holding celebrities and famous people in high esteem (they are just humans like the rest of us after all), many of these people touch our lives in some small way and will, just like the rest of us, have family and friends who will miss them for who they were, not what they were.

 

Gimme all your lovin’

Let’s talk about dating.  Thankfully I am out of the dating game but had my share of ups and downs before I met my best friend and husband.  Personally I have always dated younger guys, when I say younger I mean 5, 6 , 7 years, nothing weird!   I did kind of date a 19-year old when I was 29, it was more hanging out listening to music and driving him around in my car than actual dating and cute though he was, the novelty wore off.

I think I dated two guys my age or older and both were less than fun times.  I have more in common with younger guys, my husband is a few years younger and it’s totally cool, even when he laughs that I know lyrics to songs he’s never heard of.

I say, date who you want (as long as it’s legal!!) we’re a long time on this earth, spend it with someone special, irrespective of their age, gender, race or religion.

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Spend your life with someone special

I’ve also always preferred a more ‘petite’ guy.  Women who say “I want a big hunk of a man to protect me”..really…I can protect myself quite nicely thank you very much, oh and I’d like to see your ‘big hunk’ of a guy take on the likes of 5′ 5″ boxing champion Amir Khan.  Ok, I see the point made by tall ladies, but to pick a guy because he ‘makes you feel safe’, well, each to their own.

For me, it’s all about respect, having fun together and loving each other’s company, no point marrying a guy because he’s rich, tall and hot (let’s face it, how many of those are there around) if you don’t enjoy being with him.

Dating as you get older, definitely becomes harder, there’s usually more baggage, often by way of ex-partners, children, or simply being so set in their ways they find it hard to adapt to sharing things in life.

With our lives busier than ever before, traditional dating is being replaced by online dating.  I have never tried it but know people who have, with mixed success.

If you are single, enjoy it!  Accept those dinner party invites, despite the fact you may be the only single person there, far from feeling left out, you will find you are the centre of attention, the mystery woman, people will want to know your story, tell them as much or as little as you like but do enjoy the spotlight. Over the years I spent numerous Christmases, birthdays, Valentines and other holidays on my own and found myself to be great company and never had to fight over the last mince pie!

The most important thing for me, is to learn to enjoy your own company,  don’t just rely on a partner to make life good, do things that you enjoy doing by yourself and don’t forget the importance of friends, despite being totally ‘loved up’ make time to keep in touch with friends, you never know when you will need them, or they you.

Don’t be in a relationship for the sake of it, nothing good will come of staying with someone out of convenience, it will never make you happy and we all deserve happiness.

Age ain’t nothing but a number

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Fort Lauderdale 5K, not bad for an old bird 🙂 

Why are we obsessed with age, I guess it’s because throughout our whole lives, much of what we do is dictated by age.

The age we start school, the age we have our first kiss, school-leaving age, age we can drive, age we can drink (legally), age we can vote…

We chat with our friends and discuss how old we will be when we first have sex/get married/have a baby/buy our first home…get divorced…

Then come the random, irritating age markers… on one of my earlier visits to Las Vegas , in my twenties, I was with a boyfriend a few years younger than me.  We sauntered up to the roulette table and the croupier asked to see my BF’s ID.  I started to get mine out of my purse but to my utter horror, the croupier said in a distinctly patronising tone “that’s ok honey, I don’t need to see yours”!!  How had I gone from that girl who was turned away from every bar, to the woman who most definitely (honey) looked old enough to gamble?

Another ridiculous age marker for women is until what age we should keep our hair long (for those who have long hair).  I certainly have no plans to go short like I did in my rebellious teens, I like my long hair, I tried a shorter ‘bob’ once and hated it, it looked ridiculous, long hair suits me, living in a hot country it is easy to leave to dry naturally in the summer, tie it up for the gym and is pretty low-maintenance.   I take care of it (hot straighteners and the occasional colour touch-up notwithstanding) and I plan to keep my long locks for some time to come.

In recent years, more age-related slurs have come my way, last year while on a city break with a friend, we visited a popular, make-up store in a shopping mall, the sort where the lights are so dim you risk looking like a tangerine after making a poor foundation choice.  While browsing the nail polishes, the ’12-year-old’, overly made up, assistant approached us and said, with no hint of irony: “hello madam, those colours are for younger ladies, you may want to look at the other range over there (red, red, beige and more red).  Needless to say we didn’t help her reach her sales target that day!

One positive of advancing age I discovered only recently.  As a keen but somewhat slow, runner, I enter organised running events on a regular basis.  Following this year’s big birthday, I found myself in a new age-bracket and have actually finished fourth in my group, two races in a row, it can only be a matter of time before I achieve my first podium place!

I guess at some stage I will be asking myself the question, at what age should I think about retiring…sadly with my obsession with travel and expensive taste in clothes, gadgets, make-up, cars and shoes, I think official retirement age for women may pass me by!

I won’t politicise this blog but a woman I have admired, purely as a strong, hard working, go-getting woman, is Hillary Rodham Clinton.  As a Brit, I have no reason to judge her policies but any 68-year-old woman who has fought and worked her whole adult life to real the pinnacle of her career is a role model for me and I hope that in my lifetime I will see that glass ceiling shattered into tiny little pieces.

Long Hot Summer

 

 

Ok, maybe not so hot weather wise, but, in 1983, having just left my schooldays behind along with the moody eyeliner boys, it was time for this wallflower to bloom.

After securing a job as a secretary (much to my typing teacher’s shock) at the local ice rink, it was time to smarten up my act.  The ice rink was famous for its glamorous glitzy summer ice extravaganzas and I was swept away amongst the sequins, spandex and glitter to a new world of make-up, big eighties hair and the inevitable credit card clothes debt.

The hair got lighter, longer and curlier, the skirts got shorter and the heels got higher.  While still retaining my tomboy status with my love of fast cars and football, I had finally developed a girlie side.  (When I say developed, there was still little to shout about in ‘that’ department but nothing that a push-up bra wouldn’t fix!)

I began to notice the boys a little (ok…a lot!) and to my surprise they began noticing me.  Dates came and went along with the odd falling out with girlfriends over boys, but nothing serious and in fact I was having way too much of a good time to think about anything long term.  Holidays to Spain racked up on the credit card and two weeks in Tenerife playing two guys off one another, then going off radar on my return home, avoiding phone calls and returning letters unread. (Yes this was the days when people called each other when dating or, God forbid, wrote on paper to each other…life is soo easy these days.

The only spanner in the works during this hedonistic period, was, that at 5″2′ and just under 100lbs, despite the push-up bra, I still looked about 14 and was endlessly turned away from pubs, bars and clubs, spending the evening sat in the car outside while my older-looking friends partied the night away.  These days I could just mock up a fake ID faster than you could say “how old are you”, but back then it wasn’t so easy, so I just had to wait until I officially turned 18, then the nightlife in my home town didn’t know what hit it!

I’m determined to get to the present day, so, fast forward through my late teens, swiftly past one ‘doomed from the beginning’ engagement (which annoyingly included an apartment repossession… well I didn’t want it and apparently neither did he!) and into my twenties.  Bored with small town life, at age 21 I decided to go out into the big wide world and apply for a job in Spain.  Actually my Mum applied for the job for me and off I went to London for the interview and to my surprise found myself on a one-way ticket to Malaga airport and a new career as a travel rep in Torremolinos.

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Big hair and bigger ambitions

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Settling in in Spain

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Mum, sad to see me leave??

I guess from then, I never looked back, travel was in my blood (still is) and after a great  ten-year career climbing the ladder and living in numerous sunny places around Europe, another ‘doomed from the beginning’ engagement  (no property repossession this time) I decided that stage two of my career was ready to take off…literally.

I landed my dream job as an air stewardess for British Airways on the long-haul fleet where I lived in the lap of luxury in top hotels around the world,  some places more glamorous than others (Mumbai v Mauritius, Karachi v Kuala Lumpur, Riyadh v Rio…you get my drift), shopped ’til I dropped and had the added irritation of actually having to work on the flights!  But seriously, I had a ball and reluctantly hung up my wings after ten years.

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Great friends and memoriesblog-ba2

 

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Flying high

Working as a flight attendant only increased my desire to look my best, as pretty new recruits fresh from college came through and the long night flights take their toll on your body, the need to take care of one’s health and appearance became more apparent in such a competitive world. The credit card debts of my teen years long paid off, the shopping malls of the world became my mecca as I discovered new make-up brands, designer clothes and don’t even get me started on shoes.  The tomboy in me still managed to find plenty of time to develop a somewhat unhealthy (for the space in my wardrobe) obsession with Converse sneakers and the ubiquitous fake football tops from the markets of the far east.

Since putting my feet on the ground, I set up a successful real estate business in Spain with my husband…oh didn’t I mention that serious romance finally got hold of me and I found my soul-mate while watching Man United vs Liverpool… you see, even tomboys get the guy eventually! This ‘not doomed from the beginning’ engagement lasted and a wedding date was set and a wonderful day was had by all!  To my parents’ surprise, I actually wore a dress, I am sure they expected me to turn up in my Man United kit, but my concession to the inner-tomboy was that under my beautiful, shimmery ,silver dress, I wore a pair of custom sneakers, silver of course!

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It took a while!

Having always enjoyed writing a few years ago I decided to make it my career, I undertook a number of distance journalism and writing courses before starting work for a local newspaper, some freelancing and more recently building my portfolio as a social media guru.

So there it is, that’s me in a nutshell, laid bare (well ok, I wouldn’t go that far) but, we’re all friends now and friends tell each other everything..!

 

Born to be wild!

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I wasn’t always a bombshell, in fact the description could be stretching it a bit, although I am blonde (with a little help) and my life has been somewhat explosive at times and my mum always said my room was a bomb-site.

I was told I was a pretty child, tiny, with Rapunzel-length hair and big blue eyes.  My young, working mum made many of my clothes and the silky ribbons in my hair lasted at least until I arrived at school!  The long hair, while the delight of grandmas and aunties, was the bane of my life at school as everyone wanted to braid it, play with it or brush it, like I was some kind of life-sized doll.  I would scrape it back in a scruffy ponytail to keep it out of the way of touchy-feely hands.

Despite my cute girlie exterior, inside was a rough and tumble tomboy, itching to get out of the pretty clothes and into scruffy jeans and trainers. Instead of spending time doing feminine things with my mum, I would beg to help my dad with DIY tasks, or to stay up and watch the big boxing fights on the TV.  My best friend was the boy across the road, we would spend our days building shelters for all the stray animals in the neighbourhood, racing around on our bikes or polishing his dad’s racing car.

I was born the year England won the world cup so it was inevitable that I would grow up loving football.  I fell in love with the beautiful game after watching my first FA cup final on TV, I struggled to work out which side was which on the black and white set but decided that Manchester United would be my team.

As I began high school and my girlfriends were developing into young women and noticing the boys, I remained a flat-chested, boyish teenager more interested in hanging out with my horse at the stables or racing the hockey boys at the ice rink than trying out make-up and clothes.

One day, when I was about 15, in the chair of a nervous hairdresser, the long hair went, in one hit, from bum-length to a short, what was known as a ‘wedge cut’ a bit like cutting your hair around a lopsided bowl.  Believe me, it was all the rage! My mum cried for days and the long thick plait, cruelly detached from my head, hung around in a drawer for months.

I did start to show a vague interest in boys towards the end of my school days (usually the strange moody ones with black eye liner) and could never understand why they overlooked me in favour of my long-haired, bustier friends… maybe it was the wedge cut, or more likely the faint aroma of horse manure lingering after a weekend at the stables.

Either way, back then I was a very long way from being a bombshell!