Ball!!

Every now and then life throws you a curve ball.  For some this is truly devastating and life changing and for others it’s mildly frustrating and an inconvenience.  After a relatively settled few years, life did exactly that to me this week.  I’m ending this week feeling hurt and disappointed, but also hopeful and excited.

I’m not going to go into the dark side of the curve ball, because it’s personal and not for public consumption.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to blog about it, because it’s one of those things where actually other people’s opinions would probably be welcome.  However, I don’t want to make an already delicate situation worse!

The other side of the curve ball is that we received some offers on our house this week.  Those of you who have read my blog for a while will know how much angst the house has caused us, and for how long we have wanted to move.  There is nothing particularly wrong with this house, we’ve just never felt that it was our ‘home’.  Unlike other times we’ve tried to sell we have had lots of viewers, all of them liking the house but always finding something better.  So it left me wondering if the house had some kind of bad vibes going on.  Such was my conviction for a few hours that our house was full of negative energy that I started to read links like this one http://www.trans4mind.com/healing/question424.html which caused much hilarity among people who I told!  But actually there is nothing wrong with the house, and I don’t really believe in all that hocus pocus…much 😉

And now suddenly here we are faced with the real prospect of being able to move out of the house and I suddenly feel sad.  We moved in with two small boys aged 2 and 9 months and we will be leaving with 5 boys, aged from 13 – 3.  It suddenly occurs to me that we’ve spent so much time in a state of ‘hating’ the house that we forgot to appreciate what it has enabled us to have along the way.  That being 3 more loud, shouty, energetic children, who at times are beyond frustrating but also fill me with pride and that feeling that rises from the pit of you stomach and often ends with a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes.  I have a love/hate relationship with North Wales, I love the scenery and the ease of access to things and yet I hate that I miss the part of Oxfordshire that I grew up in .  And no matter how much people tell me that it has changed and is not what it once was, there is a part of me that will be forever homesick.

So now we are playing the buy/sell game. and according to research this ‘game’ is more stressful than divorce or bankruptcy.  So that should mean in about 4 weeks time, I should fall madly in love with this house and promise never to leave it right?  After this weeks events I have made a promise to myself that I am not going to get stressed about it, sorry did I just hear you all snigger?  Yes you are right, in the middle of surveys, slow conveyancing, endless pointless questions from the buyers, non agreement of completion dates, possible chain breaks…yep it’s probably going to be impossible.  But I’m going to give it my best shot, no really I am!  What I am not promising to stay stress free about the new home for this blog!

It seems to me that web design requires patience and yet more patience, and I just don’t have that.  Lack of patience is probably my worst character trait, and has been my downfall on many occassion.  Oh stop!  I can hear you all giggling as you read up again about my promise to stay stress free when buying and selling houses, and yes yes I know patience will be the key.  Anyway back to the website, so right now it’s looking beyond basic and beyond amateur (want to have a nosy http://www.daydreamsandprettythings.co.uk) and not at all the direction I want to take it in.  Especially if I’m going to get paid some money for this kind of thing!  So it’s a work in progress, I’m reluctant to spend lots of money on it although I’m aware to achieve the kind of professionalism I need, then I’m going to have to spend!  So keep an eye on the website and have a giggle as I try to make it presentable!

Finally apologies to my regular readers about the regularity of these blogs.  As you’ve worked out we are busy with the house, I’ve returned to work and we are entering the busiest time as the boys all come to the end of the school year.  Coupled with the fact I’m trying desperately to fiddle with the WordPress theme on my self-hosted site, there’s quite a lot going on.  I’ve decided that I’m going to crack on with some of the new style posts that I was planning for the new website , product reviews etc.  So apologies to some of my male readers, they probably won’t be your cup of tea. Right now I’m off for a long soak in the bath, and to take a deep breath and maybe do some chanting.  Which as a mother of 5 boys, probably means shouting to break up the latest disagreement!

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Flip it on its head!

Firstly a bit of admin; blogs will be a bit sporadic in the coming weeks.  I’m setting up my own self hosting with a view to moving the blog in new directions.  So whilst I’m doing that I won’t necessarily stick to my schedule, not that I do anyway but anyhoo 😛  The following is an unpublished blog that I wrote when I was feeling retrospective a good few months ago, and then I had a conversation with someone that reminded me of it. It’s a bit rambly and all over the place and doesn’t really have a point as such.   So  I apologise for the trek across the hills with this blog!

A few weeks ago, when I was having one of my sleepless nights, I was having a deep and meaningful with a friend via IM.  Who doesn’t like having a deep and meaningful?!  Anyway we were talking about the ones we thought had got away?  And why maybe they had got away, were they right person wrong time or definitely wrong person, wrong time in fact wrong lifetime!  And then she said “have you ever thought there are people out there who feel the same about you? Flip it on its head how does that make you feel?”  To be honest it stopped me in my tracks.  Because I’m totally self-absorbed and shallow (not really) I had never given much thought to the fact that there could be people out there who feel I was the one who got away, or people who miss my friendship as much as I miss theirs.  But of course there are, there are people who feel like that about most people it’s a fact!

First of all this is a fairly ludicrous notion to me, to think that there could be a person or people who think that I was their ‘right person, wrong time’ or even “the one that got away.” After all these people have never made any attempt at reconnection and I’ve always thought that those people who had previously been in my life but were not any longer, were fairly thankful for that!  But for someone to feel that they cannot be part of my life really saddens me.  I think those people who have previously meant something to me and are now in my life in a different capacity will testify that I’m pretty laid back about the past.  But then as my friend pointed out, just because I am doesn’t mean that someone else would be.  Maybe being back in a person’s life would stir up lots of old feelings and cause problems in present day life for them.

And that reminded me of one of my very first blogs, when I wrote about a couple who had recently got married after finding each other on Friends Reunited after many years.  I have spoken to this couple several times and they both say they should have had their heads knocked together all those years ago and maybe they would have been married for 20+ years and not 2.  But I wonder if that would have truly been the case?  Would they have got married and their marriage broken down in the same way as their own first marriages?  Did they have to grow up and experience life in order to be able to come back together?  I find this a fascinating thing to ponder.

In so many ways I truly hope that their isn’t someone out there who thinks I’m the one that got away, because I’m not worthy of that.  To romanticize about me is ridiculous, I’m grumpy in the morning, I’m stubborn, I have stupidly high expectations, I sulk and there are times I’m not a fun person to be with.  But then I suppose I do it, I have a ‘one that got away’ and speaking to most of my female friends they do as well.  At first I thought it was a female thing, but actually I’ve asked several men as well and all but one said they also had a ‘one that got away’ and named that person straight away.  They then regaled me with their favourite memory/memories of that person, it was kind of sweet.  But everyone was eager to say that however they felt about this now fantasy person, it took nothing away from their current relationship. It was just memories and they doubted the other person ever felt the same or even remembered them.

But my final question would be…what if that person did feel the same way and they did remember you and you found out?  Would you just ignore it and carry on in your current life no matter how happy or unhappy you were?  There was plenty of publicity around Friends Reunited and how many marriages that broke, so it’s obvious to me that actually that scenario is much much more common than we care to acknowledge.  I’m pretty sure that I will never be in that situation, because as I’ve said I think everyone who I kissed but didn’t marry is fairly relieved and my poor Husband drew the short straw 😉 But the thought of someone being out there who thinks I’m the one that got away, doesn’t inflate my ego it actually makes me really sad!

Confidence!

Are you confident? Are you not? Do you fake it? This is going to be a waffley blog post, because once again I’m frustrated with myself and my lack of confidence, courage…call it what you will!

I’m not confident,  I used to be, but I’m not anymore despite many people telling me that I come across as strong and confident.  I dither like an old lady at a crossroads these days, and it really isn’t doing me any good!  I’ve long been saying on this blog that I wanted to change career or do something that is challenging and exciting.  Don’t get me wrong I love my nursing, but it just doesn’t ignite the fire in my belly anymore.  And I want to try something new, but increasingly I have found myself wanting to do courses, or reach out to people who are doing what I want to do but my crippling self-doubt and worry completely stops me in my tracks!

Those of you who are on my Facebook will know that I regularly joke about my ‘issues with rejection’ and to be honest there is some truth is in that.  It’s not the fear of rejection or hearing the no word per se, it’s the fear of being told I’m not good enough.  I think being told “you are not good enough” was such a thing during my teenage years, whether it be teachers telling me I wasn’t bright enough to be a doctor, boys tell me I wasn’t pretty enough to be their girlfriend or just generally feeling not good enough,  that it became the thing I feared most.  And then I started my nursing and I WAS good at it, and up until 2 years ago I hadn’t heard the ‘you are not good enough’ for 20 years or so.

Two years ago that changed, and not only did I feel not good enough, it was insinuated by several people.  And it’s had a deep and lasting effect on me.  That’s not to say I was feeling super confident before I started the job, I wasn’t.  I think motherhood has eroded my confidence in an odd way, it’s definitely made me less out going and much more insular for reasons I cannot understand.

So here I am, repeatedly blogging about how I’m going to do this and then that, and then when it comes to the crunch I can’t do any of it.  My anxiety soars, I feel nervous and unsure and before I know it I’m right back in the middle of my comfort zone! And to be perfectly honest if frustrates the hell out of me!  I got on a bus and went for interviews in hotels in London,alone, when I wasn’t much older than 17 because I wanted to be a hotel receptionist.  A few years later I got on a bus and went, alone, to the biggest interview of my life.  I then moved to London not knowing a soul, and to coin a phrase I felt the fear and did it anyway.  Then at 24, I went to live in Manchester, never having been there or knowing anyone!

I’ve began asking myself what the difference between then and now is.  Of course as a young adult there is a certain bravado that you have, and that you think you are invisible.  As you become older you lose that, but now I have experience and knowledge on my side and yet I’m so much less confident.  The biggest change for me is support network.  At a young adult I had a huge support network and of course as I’ve got older that support network has shrunk and the confidence boost you get is much smaller.  My husband is happy to encourage all my little whims but at the end of the day I don’t always believe him, and of course there’s the question is he just saying what he thinks I want to hear, to save himself a sulky wife 😉

And of course there is me; I’m my biggest and harshest critic and I am totally unforgiving!  But where does confidence come from?  Is it something that I have but have just lost the knack of using?  Or is it gone forever?  Can I get it back again? Answers on a postcard please!

The Psychology of selling your house!

Our house is on the market, and despite asking the estate agent to show people around they seem to forget or have an excuse.  The upshot of which is I’m left to do most of the showing.  Except there’s a problem.  I’m not a sales person and I’m sort of out of love with my house, so saying things like “here’s the shitty kitchen that you can’t swing a cat in and if one door doesn’t smash you in the face, there are two more waiting to catch you by surprise” isn’t really the done thing.  So I thought I’d run you through my routine and you can all enjoy a virtual tour of my house.

So very often the door bell is rang, this could be anything from 30 minutes early to 30 minutes late.  The early ones often escape the horror of me in my pyjamas and rubber gloves by seconds, but are still treated to the red glowing face of a panic stricken woman with five messy children and a slightly crazed expression.  I’m grinning from ear to ear, see I told you crazed, and say “Hi” in my best Hyacinth Bucket voice.  I almost scream “come far?” as I try to desperately calm down and appear, well, normal.  They step over the threshold and I pray that the Febreze is still working it’s magic in the downstairs loo, where 5 boys with crap aim all tend to wee, over everything.  I’ve calmed down a little now, and they are asking about the neighbours and the location.  I say the neighbours are lovely, and it’s a quiet street mostly.  They comment about how light and airy and wide my hallway is.  “I say yes, it’s a bit of a waste of space really” and then suddenly realize I’m trying to sell the damn house not condemn it!

I open the downstairs loo door, praying now to whoever will listen that the Febreze is still working and that no child suddenly decided to leave the viewers a little floating present before they were ushered out of the house.  I breath a sigh of relief as I notice the lid is down, and the Febreze is definitely still working.  I turn around and smile and then announce “this is the downstairs loo, it’s a bit bigger than your average downstairs loo”  with a stewardess type wave of the hand as if I’m doing a safety talk.  And because the wave of my hand was probably more of a jab than a sweep they feel obliged to stick their heads in and say “ooh yes, it is quite big”.  Another satisfied smile spreads across my face, in a dimented fashion!

We now head in through the opposite door to the lounge and once again I announce “this is the lounge!”  Something I’m sure is perfectly obvious by the sofas, the cushions, the television and the carpet.  And then I say nothing, queue an awkward silence.  Out of the corner of my eye I notice a discarded pair of socks down the side of the sofa, and nearly have a full on breakdown internally.  Usually one of the viewers will say “ooh it’s very light in here isn’t it,  the doors to the dining room are lovely” and once again I say “yes it is very light and airy, the doors are terrible to keep clean though with kids.”  By this time I’m nearly biting the end of my tongue off, and hope they didn’t pick up on my negativity and that the crazed smiling and stating the obvious is stunning them …or something.

We move through into the kitchen and once again without any kind of brain engagement I announce “this is the kitchen.”  By this time I am pretty sure the viewers think I’m an idiot.  Comments of ‘nice size’ or ‘compact’ are usually spoken and then we go through to the dining room.  And then comes the most ridiculous part.  I insist on showing them the garage.  I ask “do you want to see the garage?” A few have said no it’s ok, but I have said “no, come on I’ll show you the garage” and dragged them through the garden and into the garage as if I’m about to hold them hostage. The garage is nothing special, it’s a dumping ground with a mostly neglected running machine and a large freezer in it.  It’s a bog standard garage and yet somewhere deep down I have this ridiculous urge to show everyone the garage.  I need help!  I sometimes wonder if the viewers are a little worried as to why I’m so eager to show them the garage, and if the crazed look and the stating of the obvious repeatedly doesn’t leave them a little worried for their lives whilst being march towards the outside building!

We then go upstairs and we go through the same motions, me announcing room after room what is it despite the glaringly obvious function of that room.  They nod and smile as I make even stupider comments about how the bedroom would look bigger if it didn’t have a bunk in it, and that we’ve had a double bed in there.  We go into my older boys room and I apologise for the ‘mess’ which consists of a gaming bean bag of the floor and a stray sock that I’ve missed on my last frantic sweep of the house.

Going into the bathroom I have an incessant need to point out that the shower and the bath are separate, no shit sherlock I’m sure they can see that, and that it’s a good size bathroom.  We then go along the landing and we stop under the hatch and I go into a spiel about how it’s part boarded, it’s a good space and it has a ladder.  If I’m really unlucky the ‘male’ will ask if he can see it.  I bluntly say  ‘no’,  only because the damn cat has a tendency to escape up the ladder and I’m too little to be able to push it back up into the loft hatch.  And I cannot face the tabby face meowing loudly from the hatch at me with his sad little face because he’s trapped.  We’ve been there before, it was stressful!

Then we go into the littlest bedroom, it’s the box room.  I say “you can fit a single bed in here”, only I’m not sure that I’m convincing.  Purely because ever since we lived in this house I’ve had a baby habit and we have never managed to progress past a toddler bed in this room.  They mention it as an office and I jump on that enthusiastically “yes yes, it would be brilliant as an office! I know quite a few houses in the street have this as an office!”  I might as well have said “this bedroom is use nor ornament, you can’t do much else with it except turn it into an office”, I’m face palming in my head.  Which I’m sure is showing on my face because the viewers are now looking at me as though they are concerned for my welfare!

We go into our bedroom and, yep you’ve guessed it, I victoriously announce that this is the master bedroom.  I say it’s a good size and that we have quite a few cupboards and drawers. We don’t, we have a normal amount but I somehow can’t stop what can only be described as drivel coming from my mouth.  I reluctantly point out the micro en-suite,  I feel like I’m somehow shaming it.  I then swiftly remind myself I’m trying to sell my house, so something equally batty spews from my mouth.  “It doesn’t feel small though when you are in it”, let’s just think about that for a moment………yeah.

We come back down the stairs and I ask the viewers do they have any questions, the look between them says it all.  They want to ask me if I’m on medication or whether I’m ok, but they politely shake their heads and say no.  I ask them if they want to look at anything else, again they shake their heads and say no.

So the viewing ends where it started, in my wide, airy and light hallway.  They are scrambling for the door, but I want to find out if they like my house so I start asking questions like “have you seen any other houses?”  It’s always met with the same “yeah” I mean of course they have!  But now the door is open and they are saying thank you, and before I can say goodbye they are down the path and away.  I close the door, and slump.  I’m shit at this.  So it won’t surprise you to hear that we haven’t yet sold our house, and I’m not sure we will with me showing people around.  So next time, I think it’s me who should be ushered out of the house whilst the estate agents actually do the job they are being paid for!

Uh Oh we have a teenager!! (with ASD)

I’ve not blogged in a while, and with World Autism Awareness Day being a few days ago, I thought it was a good time to blog about how Aspergers Syndrome affects our lives and that of our son.  So I’ve had a teenager for the last couple of days, and thankfully we haven’t experienced the Harry Enfield type transition yet.  But then life hasn’t ever really been that easy with our eldest, so I’m hoping the teenage angst years won’t be any different.

Up until recently I’ve dreaded my eldest son getting older, mainly because I didn’t believe I’d have him much passed his early 20’s.  At the height of his anxiety, suicide threats and the beginnings of self harm were a daily occurrence.  He seemed thoroughly unhappy in his own skin and wasn’t at peace with himself at all.  No matter where we turned, there were shrugs and people telling us that this should have been done or that should be done and all the time nothing ever being done!

Two summers ago when he was about to go to high school, his anxiety was so raised that he had a meltdown and was wielding a kitchen knife.  So worried was I for his safety and that of my other children, I phoned the duty officer at our local social services office and ‘reported’ myself.  He was full of sympathy and asked me if we’d had a visit from this person and that person, he said we should have had this assessment and that assessment and that he would phone someone straight away and they’d ring me within the hour.  I’m still waiting for them to phone me!

Looking back, although we thought he had transitioned well last well, the difference in him this year is quite marked.  He’s much more relaxed, he seems to be enjoying himself much more, he’s finally reaching out to his friends and “putting them on his contact list”.  So actually last year he was just going through the motions, and although I did have my doubts that things weren’t all as peachy as he wanted us to believe, it’s nice to see him smiling much more!

I don’t miss the days when we had to make sure all his food was separate and not touching on his plate, or that we put his socks on first because he hates the feeling of the hem on his feet.  Or that we’d have to physically lift him into the car amid hysterical screaming if we wanted to go anywhere,  or the complete lack of sleep that he was determined to exist on.  He does still endlessly swing on the furniture sometimes, but we’ve learned this is emotion led.  He’s either anxious or excited.  There are still days when he is shut down and non-communicative, but these are considerably less than they were.  He does still verge on the agoraphobic, and we have to give him days notice and try to persuade him coming out with the family will be fun and exciting.  And he still exists on very little sleep, often not dropping off until 1 or 2am.  He still has anger issues and has a very short fuse, but thankfully his siblings have learnt (often the hard way) to leave him alone when he seems to be a bit grumpy.  The culmination of last year was a day in hospital when he had got himself into a pickle and had refused to eat for a few weeks.  It had started with a bout of tonsilitis, and then because he had become anxious about the pain of eating he refused to eat full stop.  The weight had dropped off of him, and he was nearly 2 stone underweight.  So after a particularly heartbreaking meltdown, we bundled him into the car and carted him off to the hospital.  But despite being put under the care of the hospital until his weight came up, and them being concerned about the lack of external support in his life still nothing happened.  Camhs refused point-blank to pick him up, citing they’d taken him as far as they possibly could in previous sessions.  The reality is that it’s all about funding.  Even the Dr at the hospital was incredulous that the had refused to pick him up.  They reluctantly discharged us after he had put weight on and seemed ‘better’ because we have nowhere to go if he should have another crisis.

For now we are in a ‘good’ period, and he’s a joy and things look positive.  I’m hoping that it stays that way, although we’ve been told that it could get worse again as he gets a bit more teenage and angsty.  The suicide threats and the trying to hurt himself hasn’t happened now for a year, and I’m hoping that too has passed.   He has had some meltdowns but he gets over them much quicker, and can be talked around sooner.  I think he is understanding his Aspergers more, and more importantly I think he’s learning to recognize changes in himself like his mood or situation.  He’s not yet an expert at these, but he’s getting there.

And in other news I’ve decided to change the format of my blog a little.  From this week Wednesday will be my serious post and Friday will be a sort of frivolous post.  It could be anything from a foodstuff to beauty or my skin care routine.  I’m still considering self-hosting at the moment.  Hope you’ve all had a Happy Easter 🙂

 

 

If I wrote a book (A Bleak Blog)

It might start a bit like this.

The black cloud had descended, the cloud that sucked life and took away joy.  The cloud that only allowed sadness and negativity and unending darkness.  How long would it stay this time, how much damage would it do?  And why now?  Why had it come when life was looking good, and there was so much to be happy about.

The cloud took away all of her motivation, she sat on the bed staring blankly out of the window.  She felt nothing, just a bleak emptiness where everything seemed like too much of an effort for very little return.  Hearing the hustle and bustle of a busy family life going on downstairs, she knew that she would have to haul her emotionless body out of the bed and once again be the oscar winning actress she had to be from time to time.  There were times when she couldn’t even summon the energy to do that, and merely went through the motions hoping no one would notice.  But when people rely on you, depend on you, then you have no choice but to acknowledge your darkness but carry on living as if there was light.  Getting out of bed she looked in the mirror and looked deep into her eyes.  Where had the sparkle of youth gone?  Her once pretty alive eyes were now dull and empty.  She pulled the comb through her hair, she wasn’t even looking at her reflection anymore.  She hated what looked back at her and it reminded her of a trail of broken dreams and aspirations.  Dreams that had washed through her head so many  times as a young girl, and had continued to do so even when one by one they had fallen by the wayside.  And now here she was, middle-aged and lost in a tsunami of disappointment and hurt.

Most days things were great, the broken dreams were nicely boxed up and filed in the back of her mind but on days like this they escaped and coursed through her head.  Some days she relived every moment that had caused her pain, crying until she could physically cry no more. It was as if someone had flipped a switch while she was sleeping and she had woken up feeling nothing except immense sadness.  A generic all consuming sadness.  These were the days when she simply sat, the anguish and silence amplifying the voices screaming at her from the inside.  A paralysis almost took over, sometimes the hours just disappearing and her not even noticing a day had passed.

Sometimes the screaming voices were quiet and replaced with other thoughts.  They didn’t come often, but when they did they terrified and exhilarated her in equal measure.  They terrified her because she didn’t want to leave her family or those who loved her.  She wanted to stay and see what life would bring and if ever she would feel the unbridled happiness and contentment she longed for.  The experiences of her children hitting their life milestones, the smell of her grandchildren, the wisdom of old age all these things kept her here for now.  But the thought of silence, of never hearing the screams from inside her head, or the all encompassing wretchedness that she now felt was almost intoxicating.

The clock was ticking on the lounge wall, sometimes it was the only thing that bought her back from the very inside of her head.  Time was passing, and in a way this bought her some comfort.  It was another day she had been stronger than the darkness that enveloped her,  another day that she had endured and maybe tomorrow she would be able to smile again.  The cloud had a mind of it’s own though and it controlled her for as long as it could before she could fight back.  Hours, days and even weeks the cloud of darkness had gripped her, before just suddenly releasing her to let her go on her merry way.  It always came back though, maybe not tomorrow, or the day after.  But next week, next month, next year it would be back.  And it would kill her just a little bit more.

Well isn’t that jolly?  I’m not sure where this came from, I woke up with it in my head this morning.  I felt I really needed to get it out.  I’m not sure even where it would go at this point, although I perhaps have a slight idea.  But anyway I thought it would a fun sort of blog for today so this is where it’s ended up!

The rise and rise of the You Tube star!

Yesterday we took the rather dramatic step of blocking You Tube at source, ie the provider of our internet services.  Why, I hear you ask?

Well mostly it’s because I’m sick to death of hearing the unnecessary language and inappropriate content used by the likes of Jack Septic Eye, PewdiePie and even Stampy Long Nose, who up until recently could be counted on for being fairly child friendly, to lure young children in! You’ll remember if you’ve been with me a while I blogged about this about a year ago.  The trouble with the likes of these people are that they are passing commentary on games that young children are naturally drawn to, the likes of Minecraft and Roblox. And of course being internet savvy, they do a search because they want to know how to build a portal or want to see what other people are building and come across the likes PewdiePie via the google search engine.  I admit I have been fairly naive about these people, until I actually sat and watched one.  And honestly, I don’t want my 8-year-old to be watching these things.  So after discovering a comment that one of our children had left on someone’s video yesterday, we took the monumental decision to block it.  Yes the fallout was of epic proportion, it probably registered on the Richter scale but I will no longer tolerate my children watching this utter tripe, this mindless vapid content.

In the midst of the protests and wailing I got round to thinking about the content that is on You Tube from the well-known and popular contributors. The likes of Zoella, Alfie Deyes, Marcus Butler and the Chapman family pretty much dominate the world of You Tube, and if you’ve not heard of them you must be living under a rock!  And they’ve got rich from it, not just a little bit rich but REALLY rich.  Now a few years ago, not long after the birth of my 5th boy I was feeling middle-aged and frumpy and decided to update my look.  I was still doing my make up as if it was 1984, ok not quite that bad but you get my drift.  I searched the internet for tips on how to update my look and came across Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo on You Tube.  Now I wasn’t massively into You Tube, I knew it existed but hadn’t invested any time in it. However I liked what Pixiwoo did and they create some truly beautiful looks. Maybe not for me at 40+ to wear every day, unless I wanted to attract attention of the little men in white coats to take me off to the overly made up funny farm!  But about the same time as I was watching how to look 18 when I was clearly not,  You Tube suddenly seemed to speed off at atmospheric proportion making stars out of quite ordinary people.

You’ve probably seen Zoella (Zoe Sugg) talking endlessly about her anxiety, not just on her channel but also on mainstream television.  She’s a perfectly pleasant young lady, not at all offensive, I like her.  But, and here’s the but, what solid and concrete advice does she give to help people with anxiety?  What therapies have you seen her talking about?  What interventions?  Has she mentioned talking therapies?  Has she mentioned actual professionals and organisations that will help?  She talks mainly about her own meltdowns and what helps to her, but of course not everyone is like her.  The tactics she uses, won’t be the tactics that helps another person.  She did in one video talk about the don’t panic button, which was a little red button that you could wear on your coat etc notifying people that you suffered with anxiety. During the course of this she became an ambassador for Mind here in the UK, and yet she really doesn’t seem to be being utilised in the way she could be.  Now of course, I don’t know if that’s the fault of Mind or her own decision (of course she did drop off the You Tube radar for a while after the whole ghost writer fiasco) but it seems a shame.  Mental health problems are not tackled early enough and are still such a taboo subject, particularly for the young. She could so easily be reaching out to those who are in desperate need through her videos and giving them wholesome practical advice, about where to get help and who to turn to. However I bet pug sales have gone through the roof….

Jim Chapman and Tanya Burr are also You Tube ‘celebrities’.  Jim has also dabbled in mainstream television and Tanya has her own make up range and her star is rising slowly.  Again I like them both, neither are particularly obnoxious although I do wish Tanya would drop the wishy-washy girly voice that she seems to have adopted recently.  The problem with most of these You Tube celebrities is that they are very bland.  None are sending out strong positive messages to the millions of teenagers that they attract to their channels.  Jim does tackle slightly grittier topics in his videos, but in the main the videos are short, to the point and tend to gloss over the topic he’s trying to address.  Of all the You Tubers, I think if I was in his demographic (i.e not 44 and peri-menopausal) he would be the one that I would be drawn to the most, well to be fair who wouldn’t be.  I wish he would use the platform he’s been gifted to really get down and dirty and tackle problems that are relevant to our youth of today.  But at the moment both he and Tanya seem to be hellbent on slowly winding their subscribers up into a mass frenzy,  talking about their wedding, which is very private and not a You Tube affair.  Ironic much?

Most of these uber bland  You Tubers that we see in our magazines, on the internet and everywhere they can be bought a bit of space are managed by Gleam Futures.  Now if you google them, once you get past the official websites, you will see them mentioned over and over again on sites such as Get of My Internets and Guru Gossiper.  They are quite possibly the most marmite company you will ever come across.  Now credit where credit is due, they’ve made some very ‘nice’ people very famous, and that’s great.  But if you look at the talent, and I use this word loosely where some of the talent is concerned, you’ll see that most of them are 20 something, attractive people.  Recently Caroline Hirons joined the Gleam Team, and I think out of all of them she is probably the most credible.  As a qualified facialist I would take her word for gospel, if her word wasn’t so bloody expensive.  But having said that you should probably make up your own mind about their talent as a whole.

The thing that annoys me immensely about the march of the gleam team is their assumption that all the millions of teens that follow these people are universally without intelligence.  Before christmas, on one of Alfie Deyes vlogs he ranted about people standing outside their houses, and leaving nasty comments and basically all those things that happen when you sell your soul to the devil for fame and fortune.  The rant was nasty and came across as astonishingly entitled and full of self-importance, to me Gleam should have made him take it down.  It really didn’t paint him in a very desirable light, and if I was the mother of a teen girl, I’m afraid he would have been banned right there and then.  And then not long after that Zoe decided to stop vlogging because of the afore-mentioned nasty comments and we had a video of Zoe crying and saying everything was a bit too much. But recently both Zoe and Tanya have started vlogging again.  Now I’m not going to deny I don’t like watching them, it allows me to live vicariously through the eyes of slim, attractive, young ladies which are words that haven’t described me in a long long time.  In fact probably around the time they were born, were the last time those words were used to describe myself, but anyway I digress.  This week Zoe explained she had stopped vlogging because she was worried that both hers and Alfie’s content was exactly the same, and that people wouldn’t want to watch two vlogs almost identical.  No Zoe, have some integrity and honesty.  You stopped vlogging because the devil rose up and bit you monumentally on the bottom, the whole furor of the ghost writer and that people were passing comment on your life and it seemed that the truth really did hurt.  Also the fact that both Tanya and Zoe have started vlogging within a short space of time, and reciting that it’s not going to be every day, and just when they both feel like picking up the camera smacks of a Gleam instruction to begin vlogging again for fear of a wane in popularity.  And I think that it is this perceived intention of Gleam pulling the wool over people’s eyes that makes for such an emotive response from so many people.  I think for the success to continue of the people they manage, they are quite literally going to have to wake up and smell the coffee and start treating their fans/followers/subscribers, call them what you will, with just a modicum of respect.

I wish more than anything that some of the more intelligent of the you tube stars tackled every day problems, after all Charles Trippy fans are going on the very real and raw journey of his brain tumour.  I’ve known teens commit suicide because their acne was so bad, so lets talk about practical and AFFORDABLE solutions to teen acne.  Not buying £100 bottles of Good Genes by Sunday Riley, which is out of the remit of most ordinary teenagers.  Let’s talk about bullying, low self-esteem, relationships…all those things that weigh very very heavily on the minds of our young people.  Please god lets start using this media for something useful, for something substantial instead of churning out uninspiring, shallow and superficial shit content.

You Tube itself needs to come up with a much more robust system where videos are classified.  I cannot tell you how mortifying it is when your 8-year-old shouts “Mum he’s molesting me” when fighting with his older brother in Tesco.  It may seem funny to the outsider, but believe me it’s not nice when people judge you as a parent, and actually it’s a word he’s learnt from PewdiePie.  So yeah, thanks for that Felix!  We have family safety, and net filters but these videos still get through.  And there’s only so much policing of the internet you can do, so for us a total ban is all that’s left.  And it will be staying off for quite some time!

Don’t get me wrong, You Tube is a brilliant resource.  I use it myself all the time to find solutions to cake making problems, or how to make a Sonic the Hedgehog costume for World Book Day etc.  But for goodness sake, whilst its star is shining brightly let’s make some good of it and not focus on the fact that some of them are earning 2.6 million pounds for swearing loudly into a microphone and teaching 8 year olds words I was learning at 18! Let it save lives, inspire and motivate!

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