'EVERYTHING IS MATERIAL.' The late Nora Ephron. www.clarecatford.co.uk twitter: @catfordc

Make this your best imperfect year....ever......


Balloon cat, above/to the right, looks a mess. She's shrivelled a bit, looks like she's overdone the vodka, and her whiskas have dropped more than the Euro. But; she's perfect. To me. 

Perfectly imperfect. 

My 12 year old nephew made her, with love n' care, a couple of weeks ago. Despite being cathandled on planes and trains, she survived the trip back from his home in the States pretty much intact. 

She is who she is. Her life, which is hardly always rosy pink, despite appearances; is not on hold until she's lost a stone, run a marathon or got herself into a relationship. She is a rubbery and resilient role model. Not fluffy, but a 'more than enough' feline with a fearless heart. 

Let this be the year of 'being enough' as we are: whatever we do, whoever we're with, and whatever is thrown at us. I remember a time of meagre income, no real home and intense loneliness. I survived that, perhaps you did too? After the dodgy next door dog depression, and what felt like several years of Siamese like wailing and soul searching, something clicked.

I realise I was enough then, and I am now; attempting to live a simpler, calmer and more 'whole' life. 'Resolving 'to cut everyone a massive amount of slack, including myself'; as wisely suggested by the Guardian's  Oliver Burkeman; is a good way to kick start this year. 

This cat may have nine lives, but one; be it a slack and simple one, lived well, will do me. 

January 7th 2015

.....It's been SUCH a SUCCESSFUL year.....DO let me share those highs and highs.....

....A COOL YULE......

...That's me above/on the right. A. C. Etch the initials on your designer handbag. 

Awarded a PHD in Astro Physics from Harvard in January: February saw me advising the UN, the US and the British government on 'space travel, the next frontier for psychotherapeutic study.'

Having scaled Everest in March, walked alone to the Antarctic in April, and rescued 40 different endangered species in May; in June I decided to 'chillax'.  


In between cocktails and the occasional sailing trip, I invented a hacker prevention programme; commissioned by Silicon Valley. Its 100 percent success rate was a passing achievement, but I was particularly gratified to discover that dear Kim Kardashian had endorsed my skills on twitter. Such a love. 


My whirlwind book tour took up most of August, September and October; SO humbling to be on the New York Times best seller list for 6 consecutive months now. Courted by the world's leading chat show hosts; I can honestly say that I am 'very close', to Graham Norton, Jeremy Paxman, Piers Morgan and the rest of the media royal famiily. 


Talking of which, the Queen and I have spent many hours in delightful conversation, and this December, dear Charles has asked me to be his 'special science, supremo, top cat person thingy.' 

Such a joy, such a privilege and SUCH a year. I wish YOU and yours a wonderful Christmas and a happy holiday season. Must go, my solo trip to Mars and back beckons. Well someone has to do it. 

 ...and I LOVE you all......MWWWAH.... (Dec 2014)

They're ALL flooding in. The Lygons, Silurians, Romanians,

image: listverse.com

 Autons and Sea Devils. Aliens. Doctor Who's got his 'to do' list sorted. Oh yes, the Romanians. Particularly nasty. All that foreign SOUP. Made of tripe ciorbă de burtă, calves feet and fish. Yes, yes, I know, immigration's THE top pub talking point, but treating the 'other' like an invasive evil, doesn't peace and harmony bring.

We're all immigrants aren't we? My lot nipped over from their Brittany bungalows in the 11th century. I've got Hull fisherman in my background mix (from Scandinavia), a musician (not sure) , and lots of very ordinary digging for woad types (again, not sure). Yes, crossing borders is happening more quickly now. The pace of change real, and perceived, can be frightening and unnerving. However, 'the entire population of Transylvania', has not pitched their tents in Marble Arch, despite one politician's past prediction. 


Negotiations with the EU may or may not 'slow things down'; but the 'immigrant' is fast becoming the scapegoat for ALL our terrors, resentments and individual frustrations. History teaches us that this is a precarious and dangerous perspective to pursue.  

On a course this week, I studied alongside Arab, Eastern European , South African, Scottish and British students. All my nasty little preconceptions were triggered; but by the end of the course, I felt I had received a gift. The gift of connection with the 'other', and myself.  

The immigration debate continued to rage around us; radio phone-ins and TV discussions chocked full of immigrant irritation. 

It is so tempting when we feel vulnerable, angry, let down and scared, to 'Lygon' everyone with the same alien label.  But where does that get me? Where does that get you? More isolated, more frustrated and more miserable; both with ourselves, and the world around us. 

29th November 2014. (Adapted from November 2013)

Are you a 'career seeking missile?'

...I was; about 15 or so years ago. That's what one ITN boss labelled me, as I was such a consumate mover and shaker, (he thought).  Now we're all Social Networking, but are we in danger of making ourselves digitally dumb, and numb to what's really going on around and within us?  At least that's the claim from some Critics.  

At the time, I took the ITN boss's comment on the 'chasing the next contact', chin. He'd said it with a smile. Plus, I'd seen the men do it, and so thought I'd have a go. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes it didn't. 


Fast forward 15 years, via a few job hires and fires and a battle with the Black Dog, and I am now inching towards being 'present', rather than being in constant pursuit of the 'next big thing', or being naively optimistic with a puppy eyed hope,  that 'it will all work out OK in the end'. It may, but you can bet, not in the way you or I think.

 'Hope is not waiting for a rescue, or to be woken from a sleep. Or gambling on a bit of luck, but bringing breath, and love and sweat to bear upon the darkness'. The words of the late Denise Inge in her book The Tour of Bones. Her husband, Bishop John Inge, read an excerpt on today's Radio 4's Sunday  programme. (About 20 minutes in). 


I am pretty pro social media, but anti quick fix instant gratifactory connections. No amount of likes, retweets or saccharine online slogans offering high cal hope,  can shore up a fragile, frightened and frantic inner self. To run away from such perceived pain, is of course human, and I do it much of the time. But when I don't, and am able to 'sit with'; then I am nudged towards a present peace, that sometimes passes all understanding. Do I want to connect on Linkedin? Not right this minute, thanks. 

2nd November 2014. 




image: www.sodahead.com

...according to the Daily Telegraph. 'Women who are jealous, moody and worried in middle age are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's, 'research' suggests. The 'wimmin'' tag seems to be an additional extra; like eating a donut and discovering it's sprinkled with salt, not sugar. 

'Stressed women reading this, shouldn't take this research to mean that they're necessariy at higher risk of dementia'.  I am sure, that both research authors, didn't anticipate these enlightening female fun facts. I mean, men get stressed too. But here's the rub. They're suffering from a more acceptable demise:  'being under pressure'. 

This is the Telegraph of course. So perhaps we just have to bear with. I remember wearing trousers once to a 'do' there. Fashion faux pas. This was a while ago, so perhaps culottes are just about acceptable now. 

Adjectives/adverbs with women in mind are a flourishing. The Guardian flagged up a few. Feisty eh! 

In other news.

Great marketing idea from a lovely hotel in Istanbul where I stayed over on a  work stopover. The restaurant was offering 'more than kebab'. I was first in the queue. Typical woman eh. Fierce, bossy and FAR too Feisty

 October 7th 2014. 

How about 'undefending' yourself?.........


image: treestheygrow.com

....This is happening to me, and has been for most of the summer. All those familiar walls and barriers have grown frail, like the fence the scaffolders wrecked in my back yard. (Bitter? Me?). 

This is part 'waking up', part 'therapy' and part spiritual experience. Frequently now, it's the ordinary that underlines this deeper shift. Turfed out of the day ward on Friday: (women before me had surgeon resistant fibroids so was in theatre for hours - she didn't have to remember her lines, but still, she deserves a standing ovation); I am now going back for a repeat performance tomorrow. Yet again,  I realise how LITTLE control (pants) I have. 


Talking of which, the NHS string vest briefs are great levellers. You can forget designer chic, this is utility quick. Doctor, Tom/Dicken or Harriet have got a deadline; lopping off lacy lingerie would just delay the essential medical action down below, and the anaesthetist knocks off at midday sharpish. I LOVE the NHS - I really do, I was just distraught after they had to opt me out of the op.  Knowing that I am not the grand architect 'designing' my own destiny, is not a recent discovery; I am just becoming more aware of this often, uncomfortable truth. 


Being undefended and living that way takes some getting used to. Those old over confident coping mechanisms don't work, and it's taking time for a different strength to establish itself. Life's more peaceful though, except for the occasional Victor Meldrew moment. Feeling emotionally exposed can prompt rage, I didn't realise I had so much of it.Why DO they wrap up a tiny plug in a cart load of polystyrene? And there are just TOO many people on the tube/roads/plane/ in the shops....can't they just all evaporate or go to Scotland? Soon be a foreign country north of the border; more fiddling about changing currency. 

Nil by mouth from midnight....eat a Haribo at 6am, and the whole thing's off. See you on the other side. ( 7/9/14) 

August 2014 Be imperfect and flourish. In love, money and life...........

image: thelifeofajocc.wordpress.com

....blessed are the cracked. For they let in the light. Always been one of my mantras. Why are we suprised by depression, failure, dysfunction and mess? It's called being human. People don't behave the way you want them to. Situations get out of control. That perfectly planned business strategy falls apart due to a mistake or misunderstanding. Perhaps it wasn't up to much in the first place. 


My view of human beings is neither high or low. We are capable of being remarkable; we can also be unbearable. What is SO sad (and often completely understandable), is the hiding  behind an illusion of what we think others want us to be. We feel overwhelmed in the workplace because our depression is a 'sign of our frailty'. We live in terror that others will find out we are not 'coping'. When was 'not coping' a prompt for a jail sentence? You know the stats. 1 in 4 suffer, two thirds of those don't get any support. Shame on us. Shame on the decision makers, but let's not heap shame on the sufferers. Please. 

This illness, and all similar struggles are the 'curse of the strong'. The book of the same name is worth its weight in. 


This hiding, we all do, for fear of abandonment, judgment, ciriticism, causes so much anguish and pain. Broadcaster, Vicky Beeching, has just gone public about being gay. So what? So much sadness, that's what. Bad religion had prompted her to conceal her sexuality for years, because she was told that 'it' was 'wrong'. "Thirty-five is half a life.... I can't lose the other half. I've lost so much living as a shadow of a person."

Whatever your, or my shadow. I hope you can learn to live with it, let it out into some kind of light, and then let those, who are capable of caring, love you for it. This week's been a brutal reminder of where those all too human shadows, if unchecked, and unsupported can take us whether we're in Hollywood or Hull. 

Being imperfect and admitting it is an accomplishment. You've got into the university of human surviving and even thriving. Give yourself an A star. 

True professional dedication: giving myself Salmonella, by choice....

image: fineartamerica.com

...part of my essential preparation for a business trip abroad. This body has felt better, but needs must, and so jabs R US. My Deet (industrial mozzie killer) is neatly packed next to the deoderant. Not quite the 'beauty break' I may have had in mind...but, as they say,..'a change is as good as....'

SUMMER READING? 'Unspeakable Things', by Laurie Penny. Already trolled mercilessly for telling her truth, this brilliant book IS brutal, unforgiving and painful to read. Couldn't put it down though; and am thanking god (whoever she is), for the unapalatable truths it unashamedly and courageously screams from its pages. 


Should you need a lighter touch this summer, the nurse who supplied the Salmonella recommended retreating to 'Deck Eleven'. 'It was a place you could be yourself....a kind of heaven with cocktails'. This was her cruise ship secret hideaway. Makes sense. Amidst all the 'platforms/digital strategies/make a splash in and out of the office', narratives, we could all do with escaping there. I hope YOU get that summer breather, without bacteria. (SUCH a lovely pink, though,  don't you think?) 

Mum, Alzheimers and me....July 2014

image: alzheimersfortmyers.com

Got to host  the BBC' World Service programme, World Have Your Say this week. New blood tests mean we could find out if we were on course for the illness, later in life. Would you want to know? 

Rose from South Africa,  Laurie from Minnesota and 81 year old Vern told us their stories. 

A privilege. 

Choose life enhancing people to hang out with....(July 2014)


......Nicholas, is one. He was heading out to 'Pride' last weekend and relived the party, whilst giving me my' choppy always cheers me up haircut', today. He's a creative soul, with off the wall ideas, and a fantastic sense of humour. If they bottled his energy and enthusiasm, it'd fly off the shelves quicker than a Kardashian new collection. 


Same with my friend 'R'. My own personal national treasure. 4 hours of conversation, whilst  nursing a long suffering cappacino may sound a little low key, but, believe me, it was more precious than many other over priced meets  I've endured.....with wine. 

True connections, where we can share something of that self we may often seldom reveal in the more public sphere, is like getting a vaccination that protects against any nasties lurking in the week ahead.


It's not just the laughs, though that's an added bonus. It's about being 'present'. Them for you, and you for them. That's the joy. With no instant gratifactory distractions to dilute the delight. Yes, my phone was off. And I didn't go into withdrawal. 

image: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Latest......new blog  up and running now. If you're a  tell it how it is kind of person, and like your news and views honest and upfront, with a bit of a luscious twist; www.clarecatfordcommunicationsblog.co.uk is worth the click. Go see and satisfy that curiosity.

A size WHAT madam? Charity shop's just round the corner........(July 2014)

image: mypassporttostyle.blogspot.com

Trying on high heels, I lost my balance. The assistant advised: 'I borrow my boyfriend's crutch, his leg's in plaster, comes in very useful........'

....If you're a small business looking to get bigger, but you want to KEEP your customers and NOT lose your soul....then  the Ingenious Britain site is just for you.......


June 26th 2014: Acting on impulse......does it work for you?

image: Liverpool Echo

Clearly, Uruguay's Luis Suarez 'toothsome savagery', insightfully explored by the FT's Anjana Ahuja, is a crunch too far. But the 'hunch' that leads to a little spontaneity can't do any harm. Can it? We clock up around 4000 thoughts a day, say the boffins; that's 5 and half thoughts per minute, based on a 12 hour clock. Not counting dreams. Though everyone should have those.


Some of those impulses keep us alive and make us creative; others get us into trouble. Regulating our anger (not ignoring or swallowing it), and managing our emotions, is often easier said than done. Here's an impulse choice checklist:

  • Deciding and controlling where we focus our attention.
  • As something’s ‘going down,’ deciding and controlling when and how much attention we focus on different aspects of the situation, including our own thoughts, feelings, and impulses.
  • Choosing how we think about our emotional reactions to things.
  • Stopping ourselves from acting on a sudden impulse.
  • Stopping ourselves from acting on a desire or craving.
  • Thinking, imagining, and doing things that are calming when we're angry, anxious, afraid, addictively craving, etc.


Well that's the theory. But sometimes I just want to throw all that mindfulness mumbo jumbo into the orthodontal incinerator, and well.........shout obscenities in grown up spaces, (tubes/churches/dreary presentations) and some. Instant gratification food/booze/fag wise isn't so much my bag; but there are other quick fixes I can think of, that are ultimately, how shall I put it, not the most loving choices. Both for myself or for others.

I do hope 27 year old Suarez, gets a grip on his enamel led urges. In the meantime, I'm freeclimbing London's Shard. Not original. Greenpeace did it first

June 19th 2014 .......Midlife Happiness. The time for You to approve of You...even if we did lose the football....

image: stuff.co.nz

..no faffing now. It can all be ours, if we: choose self expression and not self approval, rethink winning, stop comparing then despairing, curb the materialism and embrace our limitations. Activate the happiness link for the full monty. It's worth the click, honest. Alternatively: find a good dentist; go up the pub and watch a match, even if you are a gel on her todd,; invest in a good fake tan, and make sure you NEVER neglect your mates. 


As I said to the GP when she suggested an essential lower body scan; 'well at least it'll make a change from the holiday snaps.' Wish You Were Here? Not sure Judith Chalmers would want to swap places. 


Frankly, I do enough rummaging in Primark, so am less than keen to have someone else picking and mixing with me innards. But needs must, and there might even be a free Express in the X-ray waiting room. 

Despite the cartoon, a second marriage is as likely as England making it through to the next round; but the good news is that the USA might come through on Saturday. I'm a quarter American by proxy, thanks to the brother in law. 

IN OTHER NEWS: National treasure, Jeremy Paxman said farewell this week, with the help of London's Mayor 'Boris the buffoon' on the back of a bike. I wish him health and happiness of course. Despite being over 60, he doesn't look it, and thankfully still has all his own sharp newshound  terrier teeth. 

12th June 2014.... Humans, Housing...we're all over heating and overeating....

Image: nicholsoncartoons.com.au

 Fat is not just a feminist issue. The culprit that piles on the most pounds.......sugar. Politicians, health watchdogs, food manufacturers; they're all in a cosy candy covered bed together. Journalist, Tanya Gold, unravels this sticky symbiotic relationship in her distinctly un sugary coated comment piece. 


Mind you, chocolate's a waste of space 'in this 'eat'. Wore pale trousers on tube. Mistake. Realised my backside was covered in Curly Wurly at Baker Street. Cue tissues, a bottle of water and a grungy stain in the WRONG place for a 'woman about town'. 


Stomping up the local shop in fit flops earlier; (I do try to beat my body's southbound tendency), I stumbled upon a group of chic Frenchies, with beautifully turned out toddlers, taking in the hot evening air. They may have been talking it, but I'm not fluent.

 My street used to be 'ordinary', more or less. But it's getting posher, as the house prices hike and spike. I've been here 14 years; and now there's 2 beauty parlours encouraging eyelash extensions. Same price as a small add on to the back room, as far as I can see. That's if my eyelashes will let me focus. Nah, I've not gone lashtastic. Too much maintenance, and I've got enough on with a dodgy fence and an ADHD cat. 

 The World Cup Should you need an opening ceremony re-play; here it is. J-Lo's song not a winner; but the tree people grew on me. 


6th of June 2014 - 5 seconds from the 'office olden days'.....

...just because. Chips (not fried) under the skin in the next ten years. And holograms in the kitchen and in the bedroom? Think life might be a bit flat.

2nd June.....Food Fight......diet, they win, diet, I lose my sanity...that's why

pic: everydayfeminism.com

...I just don't do 'em. I did. For years.' Eton mess'ed up with my head. Why? Because IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT FOOD. It's about WHY we eat. Same as why we over booze, shop 'til dropping, over puff the fags and over check the texts. 

Overeating's mostly about feelings. I know this from a distant diet obsessive past. The scales become tyrannical, the day is determined 'good' or 'bad' depending up on kilos/pounds dropped or gained, and the calorie counter's (digital now) the bible of the 'let's beat the bulge' religion. 


Standing on one leg, no pants, they might weigh something, and leaning to the side so the scales drop the 'right' way, ain't healthy. It's completely human though. Did it for years. 

Of COURSE it's good to be a 'normal weight'. But deprivation never did it for me. Not long term. Now slimming firms stand to cash in on NHS weight loss schemes. Health watchdog NICE (sadly, not the naughty, but...... version) has backed 3 slimming supremos. 

Watch their share values go up. The weight may be harder to shift. 


On the 8th time round the SAME roundabout; my nephew says to me; 'Clare.....are we EVER going ANYWHERE'. He's a philosophical and lovely kid. Google's driverless dodgem's the way to go. We got to Stonhenge late. The coach in front drove into a hedge and 40 passengers got out and had a party on the country lane. No relics amongst 'em. 


26th May 2014 Alan Bennett, 'Bog' Roll and Bergerac....