Today we are firmly ON THE UP in the Annagram house and it’s largely because of this empty plate:


For the past few weeks life has felt like driving around Leeds city centre: dizzying, baffling and very poorly sign-posted; a traffic system designed by a road-planner on mushrooms with an inferiority complex.

The dizzying bit is because I’ve been smoking and drinking too much and eating too little and not sleeping and spending all day spinning round and round in ever-decreasing circles.

Baffling because I don’t seem to know which lane of this damned infernal roundabout I should be in anymore and I am normally the only person on the road who knows what lane they should be in (I know what you’re thinking but trust me, I am always in the right lane and you are not). But lately, all the signs seem to have been removed or re-written in a language I never knew I needed to learn.

A recent example of poor signage: I accept that I am getting old, I’m not bloody Joan Collins. I am witness to the deepening wrinkles and host to the aching knees, but these have been gradually declining symptoms, ones where you can’t remember the onset, ones you get used to.

The other day, as I gawped at my sagging jowls and perma-frowny forehead in the mirror I thought to myself: your face might be fucked but at least your hair looks ok, in fact it looks rather good considering you haven’t had your highlights done for yonks, which is odd actually, put your specs on and have a closer look at these lovely blonde streaks which have miraculously appeared in your roots and which are so light blonde as to be almost…WHITE.

And so there I was, cruising happily enough down Gradual Decay Road, following signs to the Museum of Not Dead Yet when the signs inexplicably disappear and I find myself hurtling down It’s Over, You’re Fucked Avenue.

And what’s more (to stretch this poor driving/road analogy even further than you thought possible), U-turns are not allowed on It’s Over, You’re Fucked Avenue. You can disguise the truth in a salon, but you’ll need to visit that salon forever.

Or, y’know, just let it happen, like loads of hot, grey-haired chicks I know.

The drama queen in me says the reason I’ve gone suddenly grey is because of all the roundabouts. Oh, let my dilemmas be so beastly as to make me go grey overnight. But I’m 43. Grey hair at 43 is not a sign of stress, it’s a sign of being 43. And my 44th year is turning out to be rather momentous, in tricky ways but also in many wondrous ways.

So to the empty plate.

This is what OCD looks like:


That’s my boy at 7.45 this morning, facing his biggest fear which is eating a breakfast made by his sister in her pyjamas. Why this is his biggest fear is too complicated and mental to explain here, but if you know about intrusive thoughts and OCD, you’ll understand.

He wept bitterly over that croissant (the actual food choice is irrelevant but we are middle class so: croissant). He pleaded with me to not have to do it. He said he’d do anything in the world, even his homework, if I said he didn’t have to do it. I held him and rocked him and reminded him that he is strong, that he knows better than the worry monster who chucks vile thoughts in his head, that his psychologist knows better than the worry monster too and that’s why he’s set us this challenge.

I go to get him a glass of Lucozade because my middle-class choices fly out of our Victorian, stained-glass, sash windows when we’re in the midst of an OCD episode.

I go back to the front room. The boy has chocolate all over his face and coating his teeth, teeth I can see because he is beaming the widest, most deliciously chocolatey smile I have ever seen.

The road ahead remains bumpy, but this greying old mummy is finally getting into the right gear, foot off the brake, exiting the roundabout.

But not in Leeds. There really is no way to navigate your way around Leeds.