Monthly Archives: June 2019

Ayșe can barely contain her excitement “Ha! You’re not the only president in the family now you know!”

She pauses for dramatic effect. Then clears her throat very loudly to ensure she has the attention of the entire room before proudly announcing that she is the newly elected president of the North London Turkish Cypriot Association.

I tell her that I’m very happy for her. But I’m also a little confused “What am I the president of?” She responds with “The student union of course”. I laugh then realise that she is being serious “But that was so many years ago”.

Apparently that is irrelevant. The important point for me (and everyone else) to note is that I am no longer the only one in the family who can claim that title.

I don’t have the heart to tell my insanely competitive sister that I never cared about the title. And that I only did it because I wanted an office to get stoned in with my friends.

Then I realise that I haven’t actually thought about that period of my life for years. And in retrospect, I think the presidency was responsible for more than simply getting me high. It also paved the way for a (mainly farcical) rite of passage;

I quickly realise that I need a political platform to sustain my position so I take the safe option and join the National Organisation of Labour Students. Then the manifestos for the N.U.S National Executive elections come through.

I had decided not to stand. But I open it to find my mini-skirted image staring back at me with a manifesto that I didn’t write. I am incredulous.

So I leave them and join ‘The Leninist’ instead. I read Lenin, Marx and Engels. Then it all starts to make sense. Equality is the way forward. It’s something worth fighting for. And I can finally be a rebel with a cause.

I start wearing Red Army jackets (covered in badges of Lenin and Marx) with a micro skirt (read ‘belt’) shirt and tie. I complete the look with a pair of doc marten boots. Then I smother my face with make-up, backcomb my hair to within an inch of its life and smear my lips with bright red lipstick.

Then I react aggressively when people stare at me in the street “What the hell are you looking at?” And I am absolutely furious on Comic Relief day when people keep giving me the thumbs up and saying stupid things like “Nice one!”

I am indignant when they try to give me money and tell me I’m a sport for dressing up for Comic Relief. Obviously I can see their point now but at the time I honestly didn’t think there was anything remotely amusing about the way I chose to ‘express myself’.

The sixteen year old Kitty is making me positively squirm with embarrassment. And it actually gets worse;

I start to greet people with the words "What we need is a violent revolution followed by a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat". Yes. I really spoke like that. And I really was ready to start a revolution.

I would threaten anyone who crossed me with the words “Come the day of the revolution my friend and your back will be up against that wall”.

No wonder I was considered weird. I looked like a war waging drag queen. And I spoke like an automaton.

Then I find myself sitting in a seminar entitled ‘modern art and communism’. I listen impatiently. Why are we wasting our time like this? I put my hand up and say “Comrades, when are we going to start educating the working classes so they can rise like yeast?”

They shift around uncomfortably in their seats. Comrade Stan murmurs that we have to wait until the time is right. But none of them can actually tell me when that time will be.

It’s obvious now that they were all armchair revolutionaries playing at being radicals. Comrade Stan even wore a flat cap. But I was young and naive. And I really thought we were going to change the world.

I get really excited when they tell me about the ‘summer offensive’ where we all have to raise money for the organisation. Surely that means we can start funding the revolution? Erm..no.

The money is to pay the mortgage of our ‘unofficial leader’ whose house is used as a venue to discuss such pressing issues as the aforesaid link between modern art and communism.

Apparently the poor man can’t get a job because he has been blacklisted by the government for his political beliefs. I start to lose faith. I raise five hundred pounds though street collections then I sit on my bed looking at the money.

I remember George Orwell "I look from man to pig and pig to man and can no longer tell the difference". And I wise up.

If I thought they were anything other than armchair revolutionaries, I would happily hand over the money to support the cause.

But I refuse to contribute towards the mortgage of a lazy middle class drop-out who has no more intention of starting a revolution than he does of getting a job.

I keep the money and don’t go back. A lesson learned. I go from being naively idealistic to cynically corrupt practically overnight.

I become a Goth. And decide that I can’t save the world but I can save myself. I re-write the constitution so I can stand as president for a consecutive year. I get it passed by the suits at the board of governors by slipping it in under ‘any other business’.

I had learned that they would agree to anything to end a tedious four hour meeting (I got through it by adding copious amounts of vodka to my McDonalds coke). I don’t believe I left one of those meetings sober.

I follow the rules. And put up posters calling for nominations (at 6pm when everyone has left). Then I take them down again at 8am (before anyone arrives). That means they were up for the requisite minimum of twelve hours. It also means I get in un-apposed.

I take the executive (comprising of my friends) to Amsterdam on a student union ‘cultural tour’. I put speakers in the common room and blast out music all day. The principal wants them removed.

I refuse and explain that I have had the speakers installed in such a way that if they are disconnected incorrectly it would amount to criminal damage. So they stay.

I get attacked at NUS conference by militant "feminists" for “selling out to the male fantasy” because I have long hair. I say they are confused and ask them why, if they hate men so much, do they try so hard to look like them? I tell them they suffer from penis envy. Then make a run for it before they rearrange my face.

I cause chaos everywhere I go. I am full of the arrogance of youth. And dangerously aware of the power of sexuality. The militants had called me an ‘anti-feminist’. But I believed that being a feminist meant using your sexuality, not denying it.

And that belief almost certainly saved me from a criminal record; I would wear a short skirt or a low cut top whenever I needed the deputy principal to sign cheques that were slightly dubious. He was always too distracted by me leaning over him to look at what he was signing.

So when he tells me that accusations have been made against me for mismanagement of union funds, I respond with “Surely these unfounded accusations are also directed against you given that you co-signed every one of the cheques in question?”

I smile sweetly at him as his face turns puce. He is left with no choice other than to agree that the accusations are unfounded and that no further action is required.

Then my trip down memory lane is brought to an abrupt end by Ayșe elbowing me in the ribs. She is laughing so hard I’m worried she’ll wet herself “Look at the state of you!”

My mother has found evidence of my militia slut look. And is passing the album around “See what she put us through?” Her friends make sympathetic noises and shake their heads at me.

My mother sighs “Thank goodness she has changed”.

Admittedly, the way I look now is (thankfully) very different. But I’m not sure that the essence of me has changed that significantly;

I still believe in equality but acknowledge that it is an impossible ideal. I still wear red lipstick but only on special occasions. I still use my sexuality occasionally but I am much more subtle about it.

And given the right cause, I think I would still be prepared to start a revolution (of sorts)...

It is five o’clock in the morning. And I am not in my bed.

I whisper “Bismillah al-rahman-al rahim” over and over again. Then I turn the key in the engine.

And continue whispering “Bismillah al-rahman-al rahim”. Jake asks me what I’m chanting. I reluctantly translate for him “In the name of Allah who is most gracious and merciful”.

I tell him it’s just a little something my mother taught me to say before a long drive. What I don’t tell him is that this is the first time I’ve ever said it. Or that this is the first time I will ever have driven on a motorway. And that is why I really need god to show me (and him) a bit of mercy.

Of course it would have made much more sense to start off with a little jaunt to Brighton. But that would have been far too sensible. And I am a person of extremes. So my foray into motorway driving is going to be a ten hour roundtrip from London to the Lake District.

I feel euphoric when I manage to get us (and the car) there in one piece. We have a full English breakfast before we begin our hike. I let Jake take the lead. Partly because he knows what he’s doing. But mainly because I like watching his pert bottom.

It’s hard going but I am enjoying every moment. It feels invigorating to have the wind in my face and fresh air in my lungs.

It is just the two of us surrounded by nothing except nature. And it feels incredibly cathartic. Although I do find the sheep a little disturbing; I don’t like the way they look at me.

My legs are absolutely aching by the time we reach the top. And the climb has clearly made me delirious because I find myself (involuntarily) bursting into song “There’s always gonna be another mountain, always gonna wanna make it move”.

Aside from the (embarrassing) fact that I am singing a Miley Cyrus song, I am tone deaf. But I don’t care. I never thought I could climb a mountain.

This is the second time today that I have challenged myself. And triumphed. I can’t help thinking that Jake is playing a part in that.

The wind is ferocious. I lay giggling with my arms and legs splayed on the tent trying to keep it down while Jake attempts to pitch it.

Our teamwork pays off. And it’s not long before I’m warming my hands on a hot mug of tea. Then I realise that I need to pee. Oh dear. I ask Jake not to look while I stick my bum out of the tent.

Then I turn around to see the bloody sheep staring at me. I get stage fright. My bum almost freezes off by the time I manage to pee.

I drink as little as possible for the rest of the night. There is absolutely no dignity in having a pee outside. And it’s bloody freezing. I put on another layer. Then Jake zips me into my sleeping bag.

The ground is uneven and very uncomfortable. I have never slept in a tent before. And I never will again. Jake falls asleep easily.

The wind is howling outside. The top of the tent is too close to my face. I am starting to feel claustrophobic. I unzip the bag and start frantically pulling my layers off.

I am finally dozing off when I feel something pushing hard against my leg. It must be Jake. I try to wriggle closer to him. Then I feel it again against my right shoulder. And realise that Jake is on my left. I scream at him to wake up.

He tries to calm me down by explaining that it’s just a sheep nudging the tent with its head. But I feel very vulnerable and exposed. It occurs to me that the tent is probably thinner than a shower curtain. And that makes me think of ‘Psycho’.

“But all kinds of rapists and murderers can just slash the tent and get in can’t they?” Jake tries to reassure me “Most people don’t climb a mountain to commit a crime”.

I concede that is a rational argument. And pretend that I’m feeling fine. Then I spend a sleepless night trying to avoid the sheep’s head. And the minority of rapists and murderers who get a sick kick out of climbing a mountain before committing their heinous crimes.

I am relieved when the sun comes up. And I can get the hell out of the tent. I have no make-up on. And my hair is a mess. But I am too cold to do anything about it. I sullenly refuse Jake’s offer of breakfast. And we make our descent in silence.

I warm up in the car. Then stop off at a service station for a caffeine fix. And to sort my face out. It’s amazing what a little bit of mascara and blusher can do. I feel much better as we hit the motorway again (with the music blaring to keep me awake).

“Bloody lorries, can you smell that rubber?” He can. Then he notices that people are pointing at our car as they drive past. He turns the music off. They are also tooting their horns. He winds his window down “I think that smell is coming from our car”.

Then the steering wheel suddenly veers to the left. “Bismillah al-rahman-al rahim, Bismillah al-rahman-al rahim” I somehow manage to manouver the car across two lanes of traffic and on to the hard shoulder.

I would like to put that down to my awesome driving skills. But I think it was simply because everybody else on the road was giving me (and my burning tyre) a very wide berth.

We get out of the car. My legs almost give way when I see what is left of my shredded tyre. The RAC man turns up very quickly.

Apparently I was driving on a flat for some time. He changes the wheel. Then suggests I get the car realigned.

We have to complete our drive home in the slow lane. And it seems to take forever. I run a bath for us as soon as we get back. Then Jake lovingly massages my aching body until I feel wonderfully relaxed.

We managed to survive a night in a tent, my strop in the morning and a flaming tyre on the motorway. He is definitely a keeper. I fall asleep in his arms grateful for my nice warm bed.

Then I wake up in the middle of the night filled with anxiety. The RAC man said we had been very lucky. But what if we hadn't? What if I had died?

I have made a will so I have provided for Mia financially in the event of my death but not emotionally. There is so much I would want to tell her that would be left unsaid.

I tip toe out of the bedroom. And sit down at my computer.

My Darling Mia

I’m not really gone sweetheart. I would never leave you. It's only my body that isn’t there anymore. You can’t see me but I will never leave your side. You will feel me close by. My love for you will never die. Be strong but know that it’s ok to feel weak sometimes too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from our family and friends. Talk to them about me, ask them any question you want, they will answer you honestly. I will only really die if you forget me.

Keep me alive in your memory and in your heart. Allow yourself to grieve in whatever way you want to. Know that you’ll come out the other side. Try not to go into yourself for too long. Let other people in. Try to talk to them about how you feel.

It’s ok to feel angry that you can’t see me anymore but try to understand that there is a reason for everything . And always remember that you are never alone.

Always be true to yourself and how you feel. Always remember that you have a choice. You are a bright beautiful star.

Don’t turn me into a saint. I wasn’t perfect. None of us are. Keep me real. Forgive me for any mistakes I made. Accept that they are part of life. But know that I always tried to learn from them.

Know that you were the best thing that ever happened to me. You made my life complete. I don’t know how long I had with you but I do know it won’t have been long enough.

Build your castles in the sky and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t. Be happy. Don’t look back unless it’s to gain understanding. Always live in the present with one eye on the future. Never accept less than you know you deserve. And know that you deserve the best.

Never be afraid to say how you feel even if other people don’t like it. Never compare yourself to other people. You are you; a unique combination of strength, wisdom, beauty and compassion.

Never think that you have to fit a stereotype. You don’t have to be one thing or the other. Be everything that you know you are and don’t be afraid of contradictions.

Don’t worry about other people understanding you. Just understand yourself. Live your life with generosity of spirit, kindness and compassion for others. Above all, live! Know that you’re alive. Embrace everything life has to offer, the good and the bad.

Be honest, with yourself and others, however painful it may be sometimes. The truth will always free you. Trust me on that.

Look to others for guidance but always follow your own instincts and intuition and make the final decision for yourself. Consider others but always make the best decision for you.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. And don’t beat yourself up for them. Always try to turn a negative into a positive. Always be willing to learn and to grow. Don’t be dictated to by society’s ‘norms’ and restrictions; live your life the way you want to.

I know that whatever you choose to do I’ll be watching you with pride. Know that you could never disappoint me.

I love you.

Mummy xx