Sunday, 9 November 2014

A change is as good as a rest



Oh, hi.  It's me - that woman who used to blog about semi amusing domestic catastrophes fairly regularly.  I've been conspicuously absent recently.  Don't worry; I haven't finally become a Domestic Goddess overnight and abandoned you all.  Rest assured, I came home today after a weekend away to a stench so foul and all-pervading that I was convinced that it could only have been caused by some sort of large mammal - perhaps a cow or similar - getting into the house and dying in a particularly warm spot.  Turned out that it was because a bottle of milk fell over in the fridge last week, spilled all over the kitchen floor and oozed under the fridge.  I vaguely remember it happening, and that I sort of dabbed at it with some kitchen roll and had some non-committal thoughts about moving the fridge out to clean underneath it, like a grown up would (but didn't. Do you think I'm Anthea fucking Turner or something?)  Anyway, it had festered all weekend, so Mr Disgrace and I had to pull the fridge out and scrape it all up with a spatula before getting the bleach out, which was a nice end to our romantic weekend away.

So, where have I been, then?  Well, mainly in a twitching heap, under the duvet.  It's virus season here, and the three of us have been tag-teaming each other with germs since Small Disgrace went back to school in September.  The Dreaded Tummy Bug finally took me down a couple of weeks ago, which meant a full week of being flat on my back and a whole world of anxiety freak outs.  Quick re-cap: I have emetophobia and related OCD (oh, yes, hahaha, I have OCD yet still I end up with the whole milk/stench scenario in the above paragraph.  Yes, hilarious.  It's not that sort of OCD, OK?) and this plus constantly germ ridden family, plus stomach bug hell has sent me into dribbling, rocking in the corner territory recently, and it's been no fun.  I even tootled off to the doctors last week to beg for some sweet, sweet Valium to get me through the weekend, because I was supposed to be going to London to speak at Blogfest; the Mumsnet blogging conference.  Longs car journey.  Underground trains.  Hotel rooms.  Crowds.  Telling 400 people how to be a good writer, whilst feeling like a total imposter due to being on a panel made up of fabulous authors and general national treasures.  None of this would phase me usually, but in the midst of a full of crazy OCD freak out, when leaving the house to go to the supermarket is hard enough?  Oh God.  Not how I wanted to spend my weekend.

You know what, though?  I needn't have worried.  Although London is busy and hectic and probably crawling with germs, I forget that I grew up around there, and even though the Tube now reduces me to tears, it still feels like coming home.  And so what if Mr Disgrace had managed to book us into some weird hotel room with no toilet and odd boob-shaped lights on the ceiling?  We still fitted in a couple of giggly meals out and a window shopping conga through Liberty.

And Blogfest?  Well, Blogfest was just great.  I shouldn't be surprised really - it is a Mumsnet event after all, and I do love Mumsnet.  Plus I got to attend as both a speaker and a blogger, so I got the best of both worlds.  I attended some fantastic discussions and sessions, highlights for me being Sarah Vine and Beeban Kidron talking about how technology shapes the way we think during a panel discussion, Francesca Martinez delivering a wonderfully funny and uplifting think bomb about self acceptance, and Lucy Porter's hilarious closing keynote.  I also met the most amusing Elaine Miller, a fellow speaker, who blogs at http://gussetgrippers.wordpress.com/ about broken vulvas, and had a hand knitted fanny bag with her for visual demonstrations.  Anyone who can make stress incontinence funny is worth a click, so do visit her blog.  My panel session went well too, I think.  I felt honoured to be discussing the power of writing with Nick Hornby, Rachel Joyce, Harriet Lane, Lynn Barber and Erica Wagner in front of such an attentive and enthusiastic audience.  The other panel members were such warm, engaging people, and so knowledgeable and talented.  I do hope that between us we inspired the audience to embrace the power of writing - whether they want to write a novel or become a journalist or improve their blog.

After that there was free gin.  So much free gin.  And after that, there was dinner with Mr Disgrace, and a tipsy walk back to the hotel, and a firework display right outside our hotel window that felt like it had been put on just for us.  (Just to be clear, the firework display is not a euphemism for sex.  Lets not give Mr D any ideas above his station).

This morning, we drove home again.  And do you know what?  I didn't take a single Valium, have one wobbly moment or so much as touch my bottle of anti-viral hand gel all weekend.  So bollocks to all those suggestions of treating anxiety and OCD with meditation, relaxing essential oils and time out.  What you really need to do is leave your comfort zone, plough through festering crowds of the Great Unwashed on the Northern Line for a couple of days, and give a talk to four hundred people with five other professionals who are infinitely more credible and successful than you.  That works.  I feel a new career as a psychotherapist beckoning.

TL;DR - Been a bit mental recently, talked at Blogfest this weekend, magically feeling much better.  More posts soon.  Promise.