Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Woman's Best Friend

My beautiful, smelly crazy best friend is leaving me. He has lived with me for 14 and a half years and is around 16 years old.

I got George from the USPCA. I fell in love with his energy and Gabriel Byrne good looks. I had lost my last dog Oscar six months earlier at 16 and a half, and my home needed a dog. I wasn't really prepared for the kind of mayhem, or joy  that he brought. When he met Lily for the first time he ran up and down the stairs and round and round like a dervish , she was terrified.

I have no idea what his story was before he came to live with me; his habits and behaviour were bonkers, rather than bad. He raced about the park like he had never been free and occasionally charged an innocent passer by or skateboarder. I did a lot of apologising in the first few months.
He was a serial butter stealer and had probably ingested about 3lbs of Golden Cow's finest before I caught him, standing on all fours on the kitchen counter licking the dish clean. He refused to eat his food unless I was in the room with him and he still much prefers rainwater from a dirty bucket to tap water from his bowl.

His front door guarding is legendary and has only really settled as he has reached his very senior years. He has destroyed letter boxes and doors, nipped postman's fingers and generally terrified delivery people for years. In one horrendous episode he went through, yes through, a panel of a UPVC front door to get at a paperboy. Thankfully the paperboy was shaken but unhurt. George had to have  a huge gash in his front leg stitched and to wear the cone of shame for a week. I had to take time off work as he was busy trying  to get the cone off by means of throwing himself downstairs and into furniture.

I tried dog trainers. The first one I took him to said he was "untrainable" and I should have him put down, I didn't go back. The second one was better, but rather expensive and his techniques modified, but didn't fully cure George's anti-social tendencies. I took him to Belfast Dog Training Club when he was around 8 years old and at last found good people who helped me to manage my wayward boy. It is still a source of great pride that Geordie passed his test with flying colours, sitting, lying down, waiting while I walked to the far end of the hall and then coming flying at me on my call. He showed up the Chihuahuas and Great Danes with royal blood and snazzy outfits. He can sit with a treat a foot from his nose and will not eat it unless I say so, and he always comes when he is called on walks. Having said that, he is virtually unwalkable on a lead.

The call of the wild is strong in George and he will go off for a wander given the opportunity. He always comes back and does no harm, he just enjoys the adventure. The neighbour's garden two doors down is a favourite place for him , she feeds him chicken and biscuits and brings him home eventually. He has been returned to me by arsey dog wardens once or twice. George and I don't have much time for them and their rules.

No stranger to the vet in his youth; our George was regularly having bits of broken stick removed from his throat, his foot pads cleaned and salved and leaves and twigs pulled from his fur. Fortunately he has calmed down a lot but he had a cough and I took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago to be told he has a heart murmur . Since then he has slowed down a lot, food has to be coaxed into him , his breathing  is fast and shallow and he can no longer go for walks. he peed on the floor of the vets, so I won't be taking him back, this is something he never does, he was stressed and I hated putting him through that.

I'm coming to the realisation that my boy is going to die soon, he is old, and thin and frail. He stumbles when he walks and blood and oxygen aren't getting around his body to keep him vital. Last night I really thought I would be waking up to him having gone but he bounced out of bed and trotted to me wagging his tail. He still follows me upstairs and waits on the landing while I get washed and dressed. No amount of coaxing from other members of the family will budge him. He's my dog, my boy and I will miss him so much more than he knows.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

All The Single Ladies...

I'm independent, always have been . I expect it comes from being youngest of five, a Leo, daughter of an ex Royal Marine father and a true feminist mother. At least that's how I know myself.
I went to boarding school aged 10. I did a fair amount of airport traversing alone during my early teens, as well as  taking trains and automobiles up and down the country visiting other family members and friends.
This has some amazing good points, and some not so good.

I rarely look for help, with anything. I like to figure things out on my own. This means I can do stuff, some stuff, the things I want to do stuff. I will push and pull furniture around my own house on my own (this is a Smyth woman thing) sometimes causing pain and injury to myself and occasional damage to property.

Steadfastly sailing my own ship has meant I have lost out on a meaningful and loving relationship. I don't let my guard down easily, and if I am let down I take it very badly. I hate to feel needy and loathe neediness in others.

I can connect up a washing machine, dishwasher and all the TV and PC wire gadgetry required for modern life. I can wire a plug and replace a fuse, light a fire and am good at bar-b-que. I can build most IKEA furniture and I'm excellent at unblocking vacuum cleaners.I can cut grass although I most certainly do not.

I am not afraid to discipline my children (or other people's) and will always stand up for them, and myself. I have been known to get into scrapes defending friends and colleagues from unwanted advances, rudeness and injustice. I am afraid of very little (apart from potentially falling over on a slippy floor while wearing high heels). I will complain about bad service and don't let taxi drivers away with inappropriate remarks. I am happy in my own company, although I do love to be with people who interest me.

These are good things, as I see it, independence has a downside though. I don't need anyone , which can  make me come across as frosty, or snooty. those who know me , I hope, will confirm I am most categorically neither.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Why Being "Hot" Leaves Me Cold.

I've been single now for approximately 16 months. Whilst I am not desperate for some new love, nor pining for my old one, I am not dead. I would like a thoughtful , attractive man to go out with , to chat to after a tough day and of course sex can be fun..... What is on offer online falls rather short of my requirements.
Once you have waded through the married and attached, the too far away, the unfortunately featured and the non-linguistically gifted you are left with the rest. More filtering, too short, too young, too old, smokers, unemployed, those with dubious political opinions and affiliations, the shady and defensive, and those who want children. This all takes time, patience and effort.


So you filter , and filter, and make it clear in your carefully written profile that you are not looking for a one night stand and have no desire to meet anyone in a car park; you are witty and charming allowing your personality to shine out, game on.

That's when the real madness starts. You start getting messages, from men you don't know telling you you're "fit" or "hot" or asking you if "you're as horny as your photos". What?
Now I love a compliment, who doesn't? I like to be told I have a great smile , nice legs or fabulous hair, but this is something different. It's creepy, unwanted and smacks of inadequacy. They say what they would like to do to me, ask aggressively if I can take a "good pounding". I learned not to engage in conversation at all with this breed. Don't feed the trolls.

I met a guy a few months ago, we got on well. He was nice looking, employed and clean and he had a wicked sense of humour. All good. We met twice and left things open as to a 3rd date. He messaged me a few weeks later to tell me that he'd met someone he was really interested in . He felt it would take a few months to get to know her and to get to a level of intimacy with her. In the mean time , he said, would I be interested in meeting for nsa sex? No I wouldn't

Where has it all gone wrong? Did our grandmothers and mothers fight for women's rights just to fan the flame of misogyny? I respect men, why do so few respect me? Online dating is an excuse for some men to say what they really think- they hide behind a keyboard and let their real feelings flow out of their fingertips. My biggest fear is that in  over one hundred years of women fighting for our rights we haven't moved on. We have a woman hater in the world's top job. I don't want my daughters to wade through this quagmire of filth.

If you are a man, looking for dates online, be funny, be charming, be flirtatious, but don't be surprised if you tell someone  that they're "hot" they don't go immediately cold. I would.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Be More Cat .

 The world of  internet dating, particularly within the over 35 group, is populated by dogs, and cats.

Let me explain by showing the difference between dogs and cats

Dogs- loyal, even to owners who don't deserve it. They are affectionate on demand or risk rejection. They eat whatever is given to them and are grateful for it. They wait to be let out and walked and go wherever their owner wants them to. They are trained using punishment and reward to behave in an acceptable way for their owner. They like to be part of a pack, although they are more often than not, the bottom of the hierarchy.

Cats- fickle,  they will go where the best food or bed is. They will see off  any other cats. They will give affection on their own terms, and will scratch or bite if it's not delivered properly. Affection is almost always given when a cat demands it. Cats only eat food they like. They will stalk their human until the correct food is served and they will reward them by eating a little of it, then ignoring them for the rest of the day. Cats come and go as they please. They are not owned. Neither are they trained, if anything they train their owners. They can live with or without a pack.

How do these things relate to adult men and women you say? Here's my theory

When a relationship breaks down the cat will move on to the next dish and bed without a backward glance.
Dogs tend to lick their wounds , regroup and tentatively date until they find a kind partner (owner).

Cats will have a  dating check list. They'll want a leggy brunette with big boobs, no kids and a city centre crash pad; they'll likely get 3 out of the 4 things.

Dogs will try having a check list but will struggle to find a new owner who can string a sentence together so often settle for employed and not smelly. Given kindness and affection many dogs will stop there. Some also think we can train, cajole and mold our chosen one to our way of thinking. We buy him shirts and toys and take him to a better barber, we choose the wine and the scatter cushions and while the Salmon nibs and bed are to his liking he may stay.

Don't think your man is cat like? Maybe it's just the daters and not the settled, but think about this;

There's a sporting event/stag do/ golf weekend he wants to go to, but it clashes with another family event, your mother's 80th/ your best friend's wedding/ your graduation. What happens?

1. he goes to his stag do, you go to the family event alone
2. he huffs and sulks or picks a fight so you storm off to your event leaving him free to go to his.
3. he goes with you, but keeping his phone clamped in his hand keeping up with the scores, he is quiet and barely civil to your friends and family.
4. he goes with you but drinks so much you hate him.

What happens at the next clash? You let him go to his, without a fuss, as it's just not worth it. Your cat has trained you.

In dating, even in this enlightened age it is the dog's role to wait to be chosen. Cats do the choosing for themselves, they will have more than one option in case something doesn't work out with their first choice. I can guarantee that they will have laid plans for option 2 and possibly 3 before they leave option 1. The owner who makes life easiest for the cat will be the one who keeps him, but at what cost?
I'm sharpening my claws as we speak....

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A Handbag?

You can tell a lot about a man, they say, by the shoes he wears. What can you tell about a woman by her handbag and the contents thereof??
Well lets see.

 I like a nice bag as much as the next woman , but I don't understand the whole designer bag thing. It's just somewhere to carry your stuff. I bought this number on Ebay. I wanted brown but got a sort of bronze. It's not my favourite and because of it's size and the ample pocket allowance the temptation is to FILL IT WITH STUFF.

What stuff I hear you ask? A lot , lot of stuff.

this all came out of one bag. I have also decluttered it recently.

A pile of receipts, some personal ( bin) some business ( file) a few leaflets and vouchers I will never use (bin)

I change bags rarely, and even then usually not fully. So I have bags with stuff in for months or years, a lipstick here, a packet of tissues there. 

 No less than 4 purses. One of them belongs to my middle child, but the other 3 are mine, and all contain cash.  Two bank books for accounts where I have no/minimal money. I've been carrying these for 6 months or so. A fold up shopping bag, essential.

Yep, you can see 4 different types/ brands of tissue. I am a mummy, I need tissues. The rude ones were donated to my stash by my sister. they were too naughty for her to use. I have no idea why she thought I would like them ... I try not to use them on the children, but hey, no one died.

Here we can see some of my stationery stash.

Two pens - not that many for me 

a mini pack of pencils, crayons, all escaped from their box, a diary and 2 notebooks, a story book a green tea bag, mints and gum (in case I'm likely to get a snog- not likely) a hair clip and a clothes peg (?)

A book on witchcraft and some purple suede gloves just in case I need to keep the yummy mummies away.

 A minion, a bracelet a hand crochet phone cover ( with a 3rd notebook inside) some pants, medicinal compound and wham balm ( two of my everyday therapy products) and some sunglasses.

I also have a make up bag, some escaped make up and a lovely set of highlighters.

What I think this says about me is that I am tidy, organised, friendly charming and sexy. What do you think ? 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Run Tracey Run

In my New Year Blog  I decided that I was just perfect the way I am ( ha!). This however bizarrely proved not to be true. I am a middle aged woman with all of the joyous stuff that entails; middle aged spread, insomnia, digestive issues, hormone issues- hurrah!

this is me eating my words

Time to take myself in hand I thought. I rejoined Slimming World, although just online ( I don't recommend that method) as previously going to group had melted my brain sufficiently to put me off for life. I lost around 9lbs, eventually. Upping my fruit and veg intake helped with my energy levels and digestion, but it wasn't enough. What about exercise I thought? What about it? I HATE EXERCISE. I don't like getting dirty, or sweaty or out of my comfort zone or out of breath.  This was going well.

What about Couch to 5K ? I naively thought. It's a running programme for absolute beginners to get you from couch potato to running 5K in 9 short and painful weeks.

Painful they are. You are eased very gently into the programme building up from running a mere 60 or 90 seconds in the first weeks up and up with more running and less walking until you can run for 30 minutes or 5K without stopping. Wee buns.

So despite disbelief, alarm and much hilarity amongst my family and friends Himself and I began the C25K challenge. I run Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday every week. I am in the middle of week 6. I have "run" for 20 whole minutes without stopping. It hurts, I sweat, I pant and I wobble, but I can do it.

So, any morning you happen to be in Victoria park and see a wobbly sweaty middle aged woman dragging her feet around the park while singing Taylor Swift aloud, gimme a wave, I might need the encouragement.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Dating Game

I haven't dated for some time ( thankfully). From what I hear the life of the single woman over 30 is still as confusing and hazardous as it was back in the day. Online dating is an excellent way to meet people, but as some friends have experienced, it is as fraught and cringeworthy as ever it was.

A friend was researching dating sites recently and came across Beautiful People, where "every member who contacts you will be gorgeous". How marvelous. The catch is you have to have your photo scrutinised by current "beautiful" members before you  can join to determine if you are beautiful enough. Yep that's a real site. I'm sure the people on it have just been unlucky with their previous unattractive partners. allows you to join even if you aren't a super model.You can have a free profile which allows you to search members and "try before you buy". There is a bizarre profile feature that asks members to disclose any habits to potential dates . One guy picks his toenails. Why would you disclose that? Surely you want someone to date you? If that's what you are disclosing what are you hiding, ugh!

I know of several single men who are finding partners far and wide through
Plenty More Fish where you can sign up for Over 40 dating, single parent dating, or "naughty fish" for the openminded...... . It is free, and no strings sex seems to be readily available so LTRs are not necessarily the aim of the members.

Then there's the usernames. I'm not sure about you but I think "Hannah-loves-horses" might get more potential matches, and matches with potential than for example "Screamsalot" or "DirtyDave". A friend of mine has been having an on off romance for several years with a man she refers to only by his user name which is unfortunately "Sticky".

When signing in to WiFi in our home we can see the neighbours various options. The unpleasant and odd single male neighbour has named his "Route-her? I hardly know her". Strange he's not been snapped up.

 I wonder how those of us who have been out of the game for some time might fare if suddenly thrust into the scary world of online dating? Given that perfectly normal teenagers are now selling themselves short on Tinder, the hope of meeting a decent, kind, reliable mate with GSOH for LTR is slim at best.

We spend a lot more time in life in relationships than in work, choosing a life partner is  a serious business. I think online dating should be treated like a job interview. Spend time on your profile, make yourself look dateable, and not desperate.Turn up on time, dress smart, prepare to ask and answer lots of questions, tell them all the good things about you, don't mention your ex, your kids or your debts. If, like some of the companies I've interviewed for recently, they are shabby, dull or rude don't take the job.