Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pack up your troubles

(apologies that this is samey to the column below!)
IT WAS a great comfort to me to realise last week that, when it comes to letting my hair down and partying like it is (or was) 1999- I've still got what it takes.

The occasion? A child-free sojourn to sunny Scotland to visit my bestest Scottish mucker for a night on the town in the delightful town of Paisley and relive the wild and heady days of my youth by drinking alcopops, cosmopolitans and trying to sound posh when translating a menu in a rather snooty restaurant.
My two day break in sunny Scotland was designed to "de-fry me head" after a hectic six months at work and the pressure of dealing with an increasingly crazy toddler who has decided once again that sleep is for wimps.
Of course I felt a stab of guilt when I kissed the wee man goodbye before setting off to City of Derry Airport for my flight to Glasgow, but that quickly faded when, sat in departure lounge with the fabulous new Cathy Kelly book and a glass of finest Chardonnay I realised that no one would be making any demands of me for at least 24 hours. This was to be my time- time to remember that behind the mammy, the reporter, the daughter, the sister, the wife was still Claire- the person who liked nothing more than sinking down into a soft seat with a good book, a glass of wine and a Kit Kat Chunky.
Having spent the last few flights of my life (not that we are jetsetters or anything- we just have family in England) trying to physically restrain my child, it was a joy to sit in the seat of the wee plane which would ferry us over the sea to Scotland and allow myself to relax, gazing out of the window at the fields and sea below.
And it was yet more of a joy to arrive at Glasgow airport to be greeted by my lovely friend Vicki, who promptly announced it was time to go to the pub, having left her own brood in the careful care of their daddy.
Needless to say it felt just a little bit hedonistic and decadent to be sat in a bar at 5pm on a Tuesday evening, sipping blue WKD and talking about all sorts of nonsense. I knew I didn't have to be sensible, all I had to do was enjoy myself. (Needless to say we declined the chance to take part in said bar's regular pole dancing competition even though they promised that suitable underwear would be provided!).
We later moved on to a lovely restaurant where we decided to play the role of the Sex and the City starlets by ordering Cosmopolitans and a light bite and where we proceeded to talk the night away for another three or four hours until we reached the stage where, on standing up, we realised that the alcohol content of said cocktails must have been higher than we thought.

A short taxi ride to Vicki's home, (during which time I didn't understand a single word said between my Scottish companion and the equally thick accented taxi driver), heralded the start of the next stage of our adventure which involved eating enough Galaxy chocolate to sink a small ship, practising the Cha Cha Slide and assuring Vicki's rather suspicious husband that we hadn't had that much to drink...honest.
After falling into bed at around 1.30am (record late night for me- I haven't seen half one by choice since my pregnancy days!) we woke the next day to enjoy a lovely cooked breakfast and a saunter around the shops with Vicki's three children in tow. I enjoyed hanging out at such shopping meccas such as Clearance Matalan (a must for dedicated shoppers) and Asda, whose clothes range is more than a little impressive.
I returned home to the bosom of my family that evening, less stressed, more relaxed and ready to take on the craziest toddler in the world once again. In fact the break did me so much good that upon arriving back at City of Derry I could hear my son shouting and giggling as he waited in arrivals and I had to stop myself from leaving my luggage behind just to run and get a cuddle from him.
Now, it's not that I don't enjoy being a parent or even that I don't enjoy work- but I do miss, on occasion, the relative freedom of life as a young 20 something student who, admittedly, didn't have two pennies to rub together but somehow managed anyway to go out two or three nights a week.
Last week I felt I needed to get away to allow myself to remember some of those heady days when life was certainly less complicated- if a little less colourful for my modern experiences.
The hangover, I'll admit, was hard to take and so I guess it's not the kind of life I could easily revert to and when I take time to appreciate what I do have then I'm glad my life has taken the path it has.
But it is nice some times to kick up your heels with a good friend, put the world to rights and leave your responsibilities behind if only for a short time. It doesn't make you a bad person or irresponsible in any way, just wise enough to know that recharging the batteries from time to time can be the perfect way to set yourself up for another stint at the grind stone, and another year of singing the theme song from "Fifi and the Flowertots" on a continuous loop.

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