This Muma Went To Court…

“I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment… Take him down!”
I shit you not, real life judges actually utter those words. Not just the ones off the telly box! Obviously those amongst us that have ever graced a court will be familiar with the Netflix-esq setting and those loaded setentenses which go hand in hand with the slightly overdone wood panelling. 

I on the other hand,I am ‘just a mum’. I’ve never received the golden ticket calling me up for jury duty (as much as I have willed that summons to drop through the letter box – especially in those early years of motherhood. A legitimate break from Mumming? Yella.) I have never been naughty enough to find myself in the goldfish bowl of a dock, and never has it ever occurred to me to exercise my right to witness justice being done, to pop along to our local court and take a pew. 

Until now of course. 

Part of my journalism training is based around court room reporting. Basically learning what you can and can’t write. Pretty crucial as a little slip up could see this muma enjoying a child free break on the inside… (However tempting that might be during my kids’ rabid slagging matches mostly thanks to multiple Sylvanian family custody battles). 

Well I wasn’t going to wait until our class were escorted to a magistrates court for a speeding find or the like. I thought I’d go in big guns: so last week I headed over to Crown Court. 
Bold, right?!

This posed a number of issues; smart clothes were suggested on the website so I dug out my funeral coat and decided that putting on lip gloss was fundamentally ticking that ‘smart’ box. 

The Crown court in our town has been there since the year dot. Wondering if I looked more Crim or barrister I asked the kindly security guards where I might find the ‘menu’ for the days proceedings. (Menu?! This isn’t the sodding Harvester! Why did I say that?! Running order, list, itinerary! Any of those would have better helped mask the blaitnet imposter syndrome plastered all over my face). 
Anyway, I chose a court after being given the options like I was ordering a fry up:

 “Well there’s a murder starting in Court A, a Sexual assault in court B, and if your quick you’ll catch the beginning of the rape trial in C!”
Christ. 
Proper baddies, sorry, alledged baddies, were everywhere. 
On the other side of what can only be described as the BFG’s mahogany double door was one of the most elaborate court room movie sets I’ve ever seen. Men in wigs, dark wood panelling, ladies in wigs, a Judge, capes, and a mahoosive glass dock right in the middle of it all. With an alledged baddie inside.
This is probably the right time to tell you that I love drama. A drama magnet if you will. I love nothing more than ‘information sharing’ with my friends, and getting the inside scoop on anything I can. 
Suddenly here I was, hearing the ultimate secret. 
The usher of the court did give me a slight death stare, but we quickly moved passed that as I asked her 101 questions during the ‘rise’ (when the judge left to hang out in his chamber, how Game of Thrones of him!)



My jaw dropped as the judge summarised this particular man’s crimes (this was a quickie before the main trail of the day, stack ‘m high…) He described how this alledged baddie had injured another so badly that the victim would need care for the rest of his life. How not only had he committed this crime and pleaded guilty (which he got a pat on the back for), he offered no explanation as to why he stabbed another, and showed no remourse. 

The accused just stood there in a hoodie, slouched to one side when the judge asked him to stand for sentencing. How could a fellow human be that evil? 
He had not one member of his family there, not one friend. What must his mother think! 
No one else watched him get sentenced to 10 years inprisonment. I was the only joe bloggs to see him meet his fate that morning.

 

I felt sick. (Point taken that I need to harden up before I take to the press bench!). 
I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Or ears. 
I watch endless crime programs, a good court room drama is always a particular favourite of mine. But this was real life. I wasn’t wrapped up in my blankly with my old slippers on the sofa. This baddie’s next 10 years was being served up right in front of me.
I did spot the judge notice my astonishment. I have been blessed (?!?) with THE most expressive of faces. 

Nothing is hidden amongst my fine lines and acne scars. Which is a major problem when playing poker. Or in court… 
As fast as he was taken down (literally, they took him down the stairs in the dock!) and the barristers switched over it was time for another. In walked the next one. Up to the dock he went. And another after him. 
It occurred to me that I wouldn’t be hard pressed to find a story in these parts.  
I saw a jury sworn in. They looked just like the jury from broadchurch. How realistic I thought!

***

The school playground that afternoon felt like willy wonker’s chocolate factory by comparison. 
Fluffy marsh mellows floated past as innocent giggles wafted by. 
And then the toddler daughter started to demand a third snack whilst we waited in the drizzle, and cried when I couldn’t produce a rabbit out of a hat. My school daughter cried becasue it was ballet day for toddler daughter. Toddler daughter didn’t want to go to ballet either.
 I put on my best judge voice, and marched them up the road – still in my funeral coat. 
I went back for more the following day. .


“Did you eat popcorn there Muma?”

“No darling, I barely breathed”

Secrets of a Reception Veteran

I’ve done the time..
Darcie and I began ‘big school’ last year. We were rookie novices back then; eyes wide, shoes polished (her) make up always on (me) all ready and uncreased for every drop-off. Well my friends, times have changed, let me tell you. We are now old hands, reception veterans, if you will. And, as we are coming to the dying days of the summer term I am getting ready to pass the Newbie baton on to those unsuspecting preschoolers.
As part of this reception graduation I’ve compiled a list of my 5 essentials every Muma needs when entering the murky world of BIG SCHOOL…
1) Sharpie Marker pen
Yes, I did it too: ordered meters and meters of fabric and Iron on name tape. Of course when I was getting ebay-happy with my order I never once stopped to consider that I have never sewn anything in my life (the frog in yr 4 doesn’t count). I was trying to be The Perfect Muma. How I intended to sew on a name tape to every pinafore, polo shirt, jumper, PE kit, and apparently pants and socks too, I’ll never know! But I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Surely these Muma skills arrive with the name tapes. They didn’t and the result wasn’t pretty. Don’t fall for the ‘easy’ iron-on variety either. They peel, burn a bit and don’t survive the spin cycle. You heard it here first!
So step away from the bastard name tapes. This is all you need:
It’s Sharpie to the rescue.
2) Costume design degree
As you can tell from the above point, I am not a dab hand with a needle and thread. However you are about to enter a 10 month stretch of your life when you will be regularly challenged, often at short notice (that’s their favourite) to make some sort of costume. And of course ‘the children’ get a prize for the best one. What the actual F?! I sat up and safety pin a costume together while dream boat sleeps on and SHE gets the prize. Ok then…
I made an entire angel costume using just safety pins for the oh-so-sweet Nativity: thank you very much.
Please Note: World Book Day is the biggie, this is the Met Ball of the Primary school world. Big prizes are at stake here. Do not be fooled by any facebook chit chat which might suggest Jimmy’s Muma is just ‘throwing something together last minute’. NO SHE AIN’T. You know the story about the shoe maker’s elves… uh huh.
Find out the date your school is showcasing it’s World Book Catwalk and get over to ebay or Amazon pronto. (Unless of course you are blessed with talents like my amazing friend Holly at Oh Sew Dinky check her page out!)
3) Sunglasses
I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you’re going to cry. Possibly within the first few minutes of meeting the parents you are about to share 7 years’ worth of school runs with. Actually it took me a couple of weeks to shed a tear. I may have been in a euphoric state at first, as a result of relinquishing control of our little girl who was by all accounts a teensy bit of a handful: something along the lines of GOOD LUCK MISS SCOTT. After a couple of weeks it dawned on Darcie that this school gig was pretty repetitive and showed no signs of fading away. It made her bottom lip tremble, her face screw up and big tears fell from both of our eyes as we realised we would be saying goodbye at the same time everyday for a very very long time.
Anyway as luck would have it I was caught completely off guard no sunglasses- or my toddler to hide behind. I had to walk through the playground, thankfully flanked by my Muma Squad, sobbing. Save yourselves the ugly cry face, take sunglasses, ALL TERM!
4) Patience
This is a bit of a tricky one as you can’t just ‘add to basket’. Particularly for someone like me who lacks patience with ya know – most things. So this is an important one to practice over the summer hols: your patient face.

Here is mine. What do you think? You’d never know that inside I’m screaming any of the following,
“It says RAT EFFING NAPS not MOUSE SLEEPS. Please, for the love of god attempt to sound out the words before I loose the will to live”
Or
“I have marker penned several 4 letter words across your forehead with my eyes and If I have to listen to you harp on about how little Zachariah is far too clever for the class or that little flossychops is just plain bored due to her natural level of intellect I will reach for the Sharpie. And I will not be accountable for my actions.
5) Flexibility
I’m not talking leg above your head stuff, it’s trickier than that. I’m talking diaries. All of a sudden one of 20 Parentmail emails will hit the inbox inviting us to attend a once in a lifetime rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a ‘recital’ (in the loosest sense of the word) of various shaky hitty noisy instruments. Of course you don’t want to miss such delights. It’s a drop everything situation. An understanding boss / Toddler / friends and family is what’s required here.
So Reception sounds super fun right? Bet you can’t wait…!!

“What if I fall?”  -“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

“What if I fall?”

“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

The stakes are high.

‘Falling’ would mean that I have failed; Failed to pass my NCTJ diploma in journalism and failed to re-enter the world of work as a journalist. It will mean a huge waste of money, and thousands of pounds down the pan. It will mean letting down the people I love the most. The disappointed eyes of my children upon me is almost more than I could bare. 

But…

‘Flying’ would mean everything
Flying would mean regaining my independence and my individuality. It will mean pride and it will mean confidence. 
(It will also mean that I managed to pass a 100 word per minute shorthand exam, gulp.)
In September I am going back to school for an entire year, to learn how to be a journalist. My passion for writing is going to morph into a career and I am quite literally tingling with anticipation to get started. 
I’ve discovered this compulsion to write since I started my blog, a passion for word splurging. Quite simply, an addiction to divulging the nitty gritty backstage at the Mum-game. 

My blog has led me to write a monthly column for a local magazine for 8 months now, a goal I never thought possible to reach. When I started this blog back in 2015 after the birth of our second daughter, I never dreamt that my sleep deprived, delirious words would open up this new career path. It just used to make me smirk as I documented The Witching Hour and Soft Play Hell…

I always thought I would stay at home forever.
-But that’s not an option now; Not now I know what I want to be when I grow up.

I have been on ‘mat leave ‘for 7 years. 7 years!! I’ve loved being at home with our girls (most of the time, blog might contradict that…) never having to hesitate when there has been a music show at school or a ‘look at their work’ afternoon. Each time the phone has rung because they are sick, or banged their head I have been at the school office within 5 minutes. Without exception. I’m grateful and thankful that I have been there every step. I haven’t missed a beat. 

I am well aware that ‘flying’ will mean I will be giving that all up. I’ll be in the working Muma club. A working Muma who earns money I might add. There is no doubt that my wardrobe our family will benefit massively from an additional wage packet. The satisfaction of buying my husband a Christmas present not with his own money will be a maje milestone!   
But, the guilt fairy peers over my shoulder on a daily basis at the moment:
“You’re leaving them y’know… They’ll be latch key kids drinking cider & smoking slims… What a juggle the holidays will be now, you selfish bitch…” 

But.

I’m ready to give this career thing a go. 
I think. (Self doubt will always linger won’t it?!)

I want to show my children that if you have a dream, you need to go for it. Embrace your ambition, no matter when it comes looking for you. Be brave, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. 
But I am bricking it. Of course I am. I’d be lying if I was to give you the impression of taking this next step in my stride. It has been 11 years since I last stepped foot in a classroom. And then it was when I had nothing else to juggle, it was just text books and alcohol. (Hmm, Perhaps it won’t be all that different after all…!) 
For the first time in years I will be accountable to someone over 3 ft. 
What if my new classmates are all 10 years younger than me? 

What if I don’t understand a word I’m being taught? 

What if I hate it?



And so I come back to this: 


What if I fall? 


But my Darling, what if you fly