Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover….or….Hug A Hoodie

The other week Master Chef went to help an elderly lady with a shop door, when she was laden down with bags

She recoiled in horror as he approached

And why?

Because he is a “youth”

He wears his jeans around his knees…..( I know, I know, I hate it too. Though to be fair to him, he has started wearing a 29″ waist instead of 32″, so we’re getting there!) He also wears a hoodie and cap, most of the time…..Oh, and has an eyebrow piercing

So, obviously, he IS a thug, just waiting for an opportune moment to prey on elderly and vulnerable people.

Both my boys  ( and my daughter) have been brought up to respect their peers and elders. They have always been surrounded by adults and have been able to communicate very well with anyone, of any age.

We have instilled the differences between right and wrong and, fortunately, neither of them have ever been in  trouble with the law…although with Son 1 it may have been by the skin of his teeth when he was going through his “rebellious” stage of life.

I’m not saying they are paragons of virtue…they by no means are. But they are NOT thugs.

And I know that there are some very bad young people out there as well

But they are young, and like to follow fashion, and the fashion is baggy jeans, hoodies, caps, and piercings.

Come to think of it, K had her belly button pierced when she was 16. I’m not sure why because she never wore  clothes which showed it off!

It stayed until she was pregnant with her first baby, then had to come out, never to be replaced

Son 1 has had various piercings, including lip and tongue…yuk!! Both of which I have had to remove. But he is now 26 and all grown up so they are all in the distant past. He does have a tattoo.

That was done during the rebellious years, before he was 16… and I still don’t know where he had it done, but it must have been somewhere a bit dodgy to do without consent or seeing proof of age.

Actually it’s quite discreet, on his upper arm. In fact so discreet he managed to hide it from me for months!!

It’s red and the logo of the band he was in at the time. I spied it one evening as he came out of the bathroom, and the conversation went a bit like this

Me   “Oh what’s that on your arm?”

Son  “It’s the logo of my band”

Me   “Is it a tattoo?”

Son   “No Mum, I drew it on with marker pen”

Me    “Then why didn’t it come off in the shower?”

Son   ‘”Cos it’s permanent marker

Me    “Oh, I see”

He managed to fool me for about 6 months til I actually realised it hadn’t faded at all!!

Master Chef would like one but is too afraid of pain to get one done!

Both of them had problems at school with bullying..mainly because they were both individuals and weren’t prepared to go with the flow, and they hate any form of bullying with a vengeance now. One of Master Chef’s best friends at senior school was an Indian lad, and he was forever standing up for him against the racist comments made to and about him.

They both have jobs which involve a lot of interaction with member of the public. Son 1 in insurance and Master Chef in an open, celeb kitchen. And they are both very good at their jobs.

Neither of them are afraid to show open and  public  displays of affection to those they are close to. Auntie S, their surrogate grandmother says how lovely it is that whenever they meet her in town, they will cross the road and give her big hugs..even if they are with their friends

And Master Chef is a self confessed “Mummy’s boy” who hugs and kisses me wherever  we are (well, they both do actually)…although sometimes I think they do it to try to embarrass me!!

So despite their appearance they are both well mannered, polite  young men, people often comment on it to me, and I am very proud of them.

They wouldn’t hurt a fly, and  are often upset by people’s initial reaction to them

Anyway…back to the elderly lady, the bags, and the shop door……

Once Master Chef  had explained that he just wanted to help her, she reluctantly let him open the door and carry her bags to her car. She now comes into the canteen regularly for coffee and cake, and always makes a point of looking for him and having a little chat with him!!!

So next time you come across a young person dressed in what is their” fashion” ( and remember some of the things we wore!!) please remember they are probably very nice under it all…It may even be one of my boys

Don’t tar them all with the same brush

And I’m happy to hug my hoodies!

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Friends…..

I was buying a birthday card for a very dear friend  the other day…It was his birthday today….when It suddenly hit me that he wasn’t here anymore. He lost his battle with illness earlier this year. I dropped the card and fled from the shop, hoping  no one would see my tears.

We had known each other since our teens..he was, and I know he wouldn’t mind me saying as we used to laugh about it, my gay best  friend.

In our student days we shopped, giggled, danced, talked all night, gossiped (God, was he good at that!!), laughed, and cried together…

We were always there for each other, and although our lives took us on different  paths, he seemed to instinctively know when I needed to talk to him. There had been  times when I had gone to text or ring him and my phone had rung, and it was him.

He was wise and intuitive,  knew more about me than I did, and invariably had the right answers at the right time, not that I always heeded them…….And I miss him terribly

But it started me thinking about friendships, how we form them,, whom with, what types, and what happens when they go wrong.

Believe it or not, I am quite a shy person, and it takes me a while to get to know people and feel comfortable around them. I’m certainly not likely to tell you my complete life story over our first cup of coffee!  But there have been some people who I have instantly “clicked ” with

Some people form lasting friendships at school. My daughter’s best friend is a girl she has known since she was 2…mainly because I was friends  with her Mother.  I can’t say I ever did though. Oh, I had friends but never the all-consuming ones that some school children have.

At Senior school I did have one very good friend, with whom I got up to all sorts of mischief….I know you find that hard to believe!!

My first lasting friendship was formed with J, when we started our Nurse training at 17.. I suppose it was because we went through so much together, and did a lot of growing up….we also had some fabulous adventures, but perhaps that’s another blog.

Our friendship was built on shared experiences  both professionally and personally….career progression, marriages, failed relationships, parenthood. We drifted apart for a short period,as friends often do,but found each other again, and  carried on where we had left off,  and now with another chapter in our lives opening up before us as we hang up our professional hats ( well sort of anyway!)  we’re planning more adventures together, including a trip to Glastonbury Festival!

Then there are the ones formed through the heady days of Motherhood, again I suppose I only made a couple of what I would term as “close friends” that have endured the passing years, and they were from the days when my daughter was young.

One was, and still is, a very good friend. Our daughters were the same age, and friends, and we shared the bond of being full-time working mums.  A confident, bubbly person with hair and a dress sense that I envied when we were younger!  I remember being quite low a couple of weeks after Master chef was born.. I have no idea why. Anyway, one Sunday morning I was feeling particularly weepy and the OH didn’t know what to do. he disappeared ,only to return about an hour later to say he had asked Ju to come and see me.

I WENT MAD!! …. she was the very last person I wanted to see, with her perfect hair and fab figure, lovely clothes ,and tanned legs!! She arrived and I fell into her arms weeping while she patiently listened to my insane rantings.

It was the best thing that could have happened, and we still laugh about that day now!

And our girls are still the very best of friends as well

When I had my boys I was older than a lot of the other mums in town…. I also worked full-time, so was never really involved with the school gate brigade, in fact I was considered a bit of an oddity. Working mums were not the norm then… well not where I lived

Obviously I have formed some lovely lasting friendships with my colleagues and peers throughout my professional life, and we still see each other regularly and put the world and NHS to rights……

As well as my very dear friend whom I meet every 6 weeks or so for cocktails, lunch and a good old chat.. in fact we never stop talking, and we have to alternate lunch venues as I’m sure we infuriate the waiters who hover waiting to take our order!!

I have a small circle of very close  friends. We came together through our shared love of music and drama. We dine together, go on trips to theatre.

And, of course, there are “my ladies”   A super bunch that are always there and we have fab times together, as well as sharing the not so good ones

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Within that group I have 2 very close female friends with whom I share many things, and  who I know I can always rely on. We’ve been through good and bad times together.

We have very open and honest relationships, and can say almost anything to each other……after all, if you can’t be truthful with your best friends who can you be with? I  have always believed in saying things as they are , and it has caused  problems at times.

A few years ago one asked me my opinion on something going on in her life…. I told her, gently but truthfully…..and it completely ruined our friendship. we didn’t speak for a couple of years, and I was completely excluded from the social circle I had been part of  for ages. Luckily we sorted our differences and are now very close again, with complete trust and faith in each other.  I know she is always there for me, day or night, as I am for her. I am very grateful for that second chance with her. We know we can be completely honest and truthful without either of us taking umbrage,as we only have the best of  each others interests at heart.

I think it is a true sign of friendship if you can encounter these obstacles and overcome them with your friendship still intact.

I have another friend who is getting married very shortly. She has no immediate family close by, by that I mean sister etc, and she asked if she could stay with me the night before her wedding and  go to church from the house. I feel very honoured that she  counts our friendship so strong as to want to do this, We are also looking forward to a lovely “girly night” with the rest of the ladies on the Friday night!!

To add to these circles of friends  we now have our “cyber ” friends. Those whom we have met through social networks such as Twitter.

And I have met some fabulous people on here, some that just pop on and say hello, some who have full on conversations that can continue for ages. Some who share  same interests. And the lovely thing about it is, that age and gender don’t really come into it. I chat with people from in their twenties to their seventies.

Occasionally there are the odd “bots” who appear on your timeline, but they don’t last long

You can get help with recipes, what to wear, where to obtain those illusive things you can never find…. and if you are feeling sad or low, the love and support you find is overwhelming. I certainly have been incredibly touched by this recently.

And some  have become more than just “cyber friends”… we text, talk ( yes shock horror…proper verbal communication) Some I have met, and some I would love to meet.

Some have become real friends, whom I’m hope will remain so for a very long time….and you know who you are

Friends are the ones you share things with that you would probably can’t share with family. They can offer  objective advice. They can turn a tear into a smile.

I, for one, would be lost without mine.

And  I thank every single one of the you who have touched my life…whether in the real or cyber world

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