Antonio and Dolph

An Italian boy named Antonio was sick in the hood of my coat while we sat on the school bus in Year 6. I was on the seat ahead of him and my jacket was slung over the back of my chair. Although I heard his retching I didn’t notice that my hood had been used as a receptacle for his vomit until we’d reached our destination, by which point it had partially dried into a crusty smear with a wobbly interior (mmmm delicious).

I took the soiled hood to my teacher and I found her response to be simultaneously disgusting and perplexing:

  1. She dabbed the crusty surface with her index finger and proceeded to lick it. She did this, I can only gather, to double check that the substance on my coat was indeed Antonio’s vomit.
  2. She moved her tongue around inside her mouth as if she was trying to hone in on the specific flavour notes in the throw up.
  3. She scraped off the sick with her satsuma-coloured acrylic nails, which just happened to be the same hue as the veggie specks that were suspended within the upchuck.
  4. She handed my coat back to me and said “there you go, ALL CLEAN”.

This teacher was actually a parent volunteer who had come along on our journey to the local swimming pool to act as an extra pair of hands. She was tall and skinny (and was the mother of one of the girl’s in my class who I remember to be very freckly and petite). She also had a hairstyle that was short and stiff, like Dolph Lundgren’s in Rocky IV, and spoke in a broad Yorkshire accent. Sometimes I dream about this teacher scraping the vomit off my hood – she repeats the same phrase to me in her Northern drawl and it gently echoes away into the distance: “If he dies, he dies.”

As for Antonio, he was a nice boy. His black hair was always slick with oil and had a gentle wave to it that made him look like a 1920s flapper, except fatter and with ruddier cheeks. I’ve just looked him up on Facebook and he is now skinny and has many tattoos. His hair is spiky, like a villainous hedgehog, and he’s written a post about being happy and in love.

Impactful influences

I sometimes wonder whether the people who have affected us the most know that they have done so.

Today I’m thinking about this a lot because I just heard news that the kind gentleman who used to help me read the Q’uran and taught me countless prayers for many years passed away last night. And I don’t think he knew how much he influenced my life. Continue reading

Life update

I’m having some renovations done on my house so I’ve been forced to shift my desk into my daughter’s bedroom. It’s been almost two months and I can’t take it anymore! Plus I’ve had way more work than usual and lots of last-minute requests (nothing super interesting but lots of content writing for some new clients).

I’ve also been invited back to do a couple of lectures at Sheffield Hallam Uni, which is lovely seeing as I was proper bricking it last time and wanted to jump out of the window when I saw the students.

And……..I passed my Masters (thank God!) and have my graduation on Friday! So all is well!


Dissertation done!

I’ve done it! I finally finished my dissertation after two years of deferrals and a year of hard work! Fingers crossed I pass it and get my Masters in Journalism so my daughter can attend my graduation with me.

Balancing work with parenting and study was very challenging. I’m so pleased I can finally relax and just get back to pitching and writing again. I was also contacted my an amazing literary agent who liked my work and invited me down to London for a coffee and a chat. It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. So the next challenge is to plot my first novel and write it!

Kitchen gadget of the day

I really want one of these Spirooli things that makes spaghetti out of vegetables.


How cool is that? First stop courgette spaghetti, final stop kale smoothies laced with flaxseed, goji berries and agave syrup (let me assure you that this will never happen).

Miser musings

Just seen these paper lanterns online. Very pretty indeed. But surely you would just make them yourself rather than pay someone else three quid to do it for you? Is that just me? The skinflint? Okay then.

paper lantern

Secret project: Gerber and Bertie

I wrote a children’s book about an alien who sees with his ears and hears with his eyes. Yes indeed it does sound odd but it highlights a selection of key areas from the school curriculum, such as parts of the body, opposites and numbers, making it a great addition to a teacher’s kit. Besides it’s a hit with my 4-year-old niece and she knows everything.

Here’s to getting it onto a few bookshelves. And here is a quick image of the main characters, Gerber and Bertie:


I used an image program called Gimp to colour in the illustrations, which took forever because I’m pretty much an amateur with that sort of stuff. However, it looks pretty good…pat on the back Mrs Akbar.

Pregnancy woes

FarfallePastaSwollen ankles, a persistently full bladder and a face the size of China – pregnancy is no mean feat. However, the plus point of course is that you get to eat slightly more and bask in the knowledge that you have a better reason to indulge in that extra slice of pie than just your sweet tooth – “It’s not for me…it’s for the baby. It needs sugar”.

It takes a while to get to that point though; the point where you don’t feel guilty for eating another slice of toast and feasting on a little more pasta than you’re used to. When my midwife told me that the headaches I was getting in my first trimester were probably down to a lack of food and that I had to eat more carbohydrate throughout the day I was dumbfounded. Continue reading