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Welcome! Come on in! You look LOVELY!

photo: Daniel Beacock

Thank you for visiting my blog. It’s about being middle-aged, ‘n’ stuff. Not quite fitting in any more, because the world seems to be aimed at people younger than me. It’s not, it just feels that way.

I’m the youngest of 4. The whole world was always older than me, everyone else knew what they were doing (didn’t they?) and I was too young to understand. And slowly, gradually, I seem to have become the grown-up, and it’s weeeeeird.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t WANT to be younger. I don’t have to do that stuff to my eyebrows, or my cheekbones, or my pubes… I’ve never had a spray tan, or gone on Tinder or watched porn (honestly, never!) and that’s fine with me.

When my kids say ‘EVERYONE knows this’ or ‘EVERYONE does that’, I think ‘no they don’t. I don’t.’ It seems that I’m not ‘everyone’ any more.

Welcome. If you’re here because you relate, hurrah! If you’re here to try and understand your mum better, that’s great too! The blogs will only ever be short, so you only ever need to make a quick visit. Unless you’d LIKE to stay longer, in which case check out the rest of the website and come and see me doing live comedy. I’d love to see you!

I don’t have much to say today, but a few thoughts from a very tired brain…

I did a gig in Weston Super Mare on Saturday – boy, that’s a long way from London, when you drive there and back after a full day’s teaching on Zoom!! Anyhoo, two of the other acts talked about how they prefer older men, as their partners are in their 50s. So, I guess I prefer older men too. Seeing as how mine is, y’know, my age.

And being, y’know, my age, I’ve been doing a lot of resting since that gig. And lots of watching the Olympics. What a joy! Caught a bit of synchronised swimming today – brilliant camerawork on the surface of the water so you can see what’s going on above and below. Turns out, as their legs go bonkers on the top, their torsos are completely still underneath. They’re the opposite of swans.

The women’s long jump yesterday was magnificent – my God, they’re fabulous personalities, especially Rojas – she was AWESOME in every way. But of all the sports to be dominated by those teeny tiny shorts, long jump seems the most impractical. I mean, who wants sand in yer cervix??

The hockey semi finals were exciting – GB went to penalties! Dunno what happened to the Spanish goalkeeper – I think she must’ve been off sick or something, because they had to pull the mascot in instead (see pic above)

And finally, I was really excited by the GBR golds yesterday (OMG the BMX, so cool!) but I don’t really enjoy the national anthem bit. It’s not only ours, it’s all of them really. The lyrics tend to be about how ‘our country is the best’ and I really don’t buy in to that. So I came up with this instead. I like to think it works pretty well…

♬I’m from this country and
You’re from that country and
We’re worth the same.
You’ve got those colours and
We’ve got these colours and
We are all equal
But I won this game♬

You’re welcome.

Souvenirs from John Finnemore’s Programme

Stop what you’re doing. Listen to this https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000vqr4

John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme. It’s brilliant – I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. And I fight dirty. Like, with puns and slaps and crying. If you don’t know it, it’s a Radio 4 sketch show, but unlike most sketch shows, there’s never a weak bit. Never. The first 8 series have not missed a beat – always hilarious, absurdly clever and creative, gloriously written.

And then came Series 9. And Series 9 is, quite frankly, a masterpiece. I listened to the first episode and didn’t quite get it. It wasn’t rip-roaringly funny at every turn, it seemed like a muddle of different stories and scenarios. I felt a bit lost. And then I saw a tweet that said ‘stick with it’, so I did.

I have now listened to all 6 episodes 5 times. And at each listen, I start crying a little earlier. Halfway through Ep 1, this time. My God, it’s beautiful. 122 years of vignettes telling the stories of one family. All those little family sayings and doings and foibles. All families must have them. I can’t get them out of my head. Tearing up Christmas cracker hats and “Half a glass” and 🎶Woof woof woof🎶 No seriously, listen to it. You need to love this stuff too.

And as I grieve for my mum and constantly think about this beautiful series, I start to wonder what the foibles are for us in my family. There must be loads.

There’s one that I talk about a lot in my show. (come and see my show, obvs). In the days before videos, when we couldn’t watch what we wanted on the (one) TV, my mum would say “don’t worry, if it’s any good, they’ll repeat it” which is a running joke in my family now. You only have to miss a bus, a train or a period and some smart-arse “if it’s any good, they’ll repeat it”.

There are others too. I’d be on the phone to my mum and she’d talk about what she’d been up to. “It’s been a really useful day – I’ve re-organised a cupboard and cleared the videos.” These days we’re making a valiant attempt to ‘clear’ Netflix – it’s extraordinarily virtuous.

During the Wimbledon final last week, my sister messaged me and said “Pliskova’s playing like a drain’ and my husband thought that was a weird thing to say. You mean, other people don’t use that phrase? Where did it come from? Did our mum invent it? Or was it from 3 generations ago, when someone hit a tennis ball so badly, it went into a gutter and was lost forever? Who knows?

We’ve invented a few of our own. There’s a turning onto the North Circular. Whenever we approach it, one of us will ALWAYS say ‘ooh, it’s really dangerous, this turning. You can’t see all directions’. And then we say ‘when I die, you’ll approach this junction and feel sad because I’m not here to say that’. We often don’t even bother with the first bit any more.

Will our children, and our children’s children, always answer “shall I put the kettle on?” with “it won’t suit you”? Will they raise their eyes to heaven and pretend it’s not the funniest joke of all time??? (I have a feeling that one might not make it into the family folklore)

What are YOURS? Please let me know. Do you say “wiggle a dumpster” when someone sneezes? Do you eat Christmas dinner backwards? Do you call crisps ‘packets of slice’? Tell me! I need to fall in love with your family too!

Going In

Rocky, innit

It’s the day after that football thing. Social media is awash with racism and anger about racism. (To be fair, the only racism I see on my timelines is shared by angry anti-racists – my own friends and contacts are all on the majority (correct) side of this.

I’m not into football. I normally dislike it (please don’t tell my wider family – it’s a religion for them!) I just find it a bit dull. Which I know is completely unfair, because it’s clearly incredibly skilled and all that. But I tried watching some the semi final and just couldn’t get into it. I decided to watch just the first couple of minutes last night… and then the whole thing, of course, because it was super blimmin’ exciting! And then I went to bed.

Today starts with my son learning he won’t be going on a school trip, he’ll be self isolating for the rest of the week. The kid he sits next to is sick with Covid. He won’t be going in.

And it’s annoying because I have a ton of work to do today.

I check my phone. There’s an absolute furore over the football and the penalties and the boys who missed their penalties. I decide not to get involved, because it’s not my sport, not my issue* and so many others are expressing it better than I can. I’ll just report a couple of racist tweets though, while I’m here. Oh, and there are some nasty comments here, so I’ll just report a few more… and I get through a few. Which is something.

(*I’m fully aware of how awful that sounds, of COURSE it’s my issue – racism is everyone’s issue.)

And then, someone posts in a Facebook group I’m in. A horrible, transphobic diatribe which sneeringly speaks of people who try to use inclusive language as ‘kind’, as though that’s a dirty word. And this is my issue. So I go in. And my morning becomes like a montage from Rocky. I get hit, I hit back. I use all my power and all my fight and all my training… which means I write a funny piece of my own, satirising the other article. Big, brave Pauline!

It’s 4.30 now and whoops, the working day is almost done. And I’ve achieved very little on my Stuff To Do list. I’ve got myself a bit bruised and battered (I made lunch and nagged the kid to do schoolwork), but I feel good for stepping in online, in the ways I know how.

I’m not exactly a 19 year old who stepped forward in front of millions of screaming people and took a penalty. I’m a 54 year old menopausal mum, who is just a bit tired of this shit. But I gave it a go.

It’s proper scary, standing up to people online. The very nature of who we stand up against means it won’t be a fair fight. Because in a space where kindness is a dirty word, it’s not an even playing field. Or penalty box. Or something.

Anyway, racism is wrong, trans women are women and menopause is exhausting.

How was your day?

Shhh… don’t tell anyone…

#menopause #allchange #happy #comedian #LucyPorter

Gosh, I’m almost afraid to say this. But something really strange happened this weekend and I’m feeling kinda weird… kinda… happy. Is that ok? Is that ok to say? I know everything’s still so uncertain and the world is on fire and the government is scary and people are vile on Twitter, but still… somehow… I feel happy.

Look, I’m not an fool. I know this might be fleeting. The new variant is taking off, we’re not out of the woods, and my own life ain’t gonna stay this peaceful for long, but oh, I’ve had some fun.

I’ve done two live gigs now, and they were like coming home. I was nervous for both, I forgot some jokes, but it was SO great to be back with people, seeing them, hearing them and thanks to the distancing, not smelling them at all.

Half term happened and my kids (now 16) were lovely. Like really lovely. Funny and bantery and engaged. It’s… well, it’s good.

And this weekend, my husband and I went to see another comedian. As it was the magnificent Lucy Porter, she was playing a proper theatre, with a decent sized audience and a lovely, flowing bar. Being a shameless wannabe, I tweeted her beforehand and she invited me to meet her, which of course I jumped at, and she was, as expected, a delight! She made me feel like a mate, a peer, another comedian, and my clever little brain embraced that and decided it deserved to be there.

After too many dry white wines in the bar, we remembered we really should have eaten before we came out, so we staggered into a local Greek restaurant and boosted the local economy, because we’re TEAM PLAYERS, ok??

Sadly, we came home to discover that the kids had made themselves dinner but had left the kitchen in a mess. So I left a snotty note for them on the counter:

“Can you please wash up after yourselves after your dinner? It’s not fair for your dad and me to have to clean the kitchen when we come home pissed!”

Life is good. It won’t last…

Rollercoaster

Is it just me who’s on an emotional rollercoaster at the moment?

The gym opened last week and I started teaching classes again. I couldn’t sleep the night before the first one – I felt proper anxiety, scared of being inside without a mask, nervous about teaching again after 14 months (am I fit enough? Will I remember what to do? Will they look disdainfully at me because I’m fat? That old chestnut…)

Then I did the class. Worked so hard I could feel my breakfast on its way back up, loved the class, loved the people and came out high as a kite.

Then on Saturday we released a new episode of the podcast with a very exciting guest (Simone Lahbib from off of actual EastEnders!) and I was high as a kite again. We got loads of downloads, it was the most popular episode yet and we were super proud of it. Once again, high as a kite (listen to it here, by the way https://shows.acast.com/eyre-leigh-doors/episodes/simone-lahbibs-trouser-lumps)

And then I crashed again. Little row at home turned me into a ball of anxiety and I fell apart.

Back up and buzzing this week – not only back at the gym, but last night, my first in-person gig, and it was fabulous!! Real people in a real room – oh, the joy! And taught my class this morning, was bouncing around feeling wonderful… and my calf snapped (well, not snapped, but you know when you tear a muscle and it feels as though it’s snapped – it’s my exaggeration and I’m sticking with it!)

So now I’m limping and miserable.

Still, another live gig tomorrow. Back up the rollercoaster we go…

Late to the table, Eyre-Leigh Doors

Every comedian in the world has released a podcast in the past year. Well, every comedian except two. Because Louise Leigh and I are grown-up, sophisticated…um… ladies… or summink… and we didn’t want to go jumping on that bandwagon without careful planning, months of making each other GUFFAW on the phone and waiting til the lockdown was almost over and nobody was looking to start a podcast any more.

But for us, it’s been worth the wait. Eyre-Leigh Doors launched last weekend (April 10th) and is already, my friends, ALREADY the 53rd most popular comedy podcast in the UK. (And no, there aren’t 53 of them, there are 100s, so nuts to you!)

It’s a game show, basically, where our special guest each week gets offered the chance to step through the Eyre Leigh Doors and live in another dimension. A better world, where they can live out a fantasy with the person of their choice. Well, that’s what they’re offered, anyway. They’re also offered seven other doors, which take them to other dimensions. But they can only choose one, and some guests make the mistake of choosing too early, or too late, and end up in a Tesco carpark arguing over trolleys with Gripper Stebson off of Grange Hill, or worse.

Our first guest was perfect – Sooz Kempner. She’s got the BEST stories (follow her on @soozuk if you don’t believe me) and she shared some crackin’ gossip about some very cool people. Like, she’s FURIOUS with Olivia Colman – what?? Why?? Listen to find out. And to discover Liza Minelli’s little-known Welsh roots and Freddie Mercury’s (potential) response to a wardrobe malfunction in a luxury hotel room…

This week’s guest is Jenny Laville. If you’ve ever listened to Radio 4 comedy (like any of it, ever) you’ve probably heard Jenny’s name. She’s written her own sitcom and contributed to all the cool satirical news shows and she’s a delightful and hilarious guest. Again, the BEST stories. Susie Dent might never live this episode down…

The show’s about 45 minutes long (perfect while you’re running, cooking or having a 45-minute lie down) and new episodes are being released weekly. You can find the show here https://shows.acast.com/eyre-leigh-doors or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Please give it a listen, we’re mighty proud of it. And then rate it (5* obvs) and tell your friends.

Oh, and if you’ve got some tasty anecdotes that might be good scenarios for us to offer out guests, you can email eyreleighdoors@gmail.com and tell us all about it.

The Good, The Bad and the Podcast

Coming soon to Spotify – please subscribe!

Man alive on toast, it’s been a busy week! As the rest of the world starts to venture outdoors again, I’ve been tied to my insides (as it were), with admin and work up to my neck. What a lovely problem to have. I’m lucky indeed to have paid work again and to be embarking on a lovely new adventure!

Yes, 12 months after the rest of the comedy world started creating podcasts, my dear friend Louise Leigh and I are catching up! That’s the thing about middle age – no need to jump on the bandwagon just because it’s fashionable, we’ll wait, thankyouverymuch, and do things when WE feel ready.

And we DO feel ready! It’s been months in the planning, and we’ve devised a very silly, very funny gameshow, where we offer our guest the chance to live in an alternate reality – be that swimming in the Med with Clark Gable, wading through a river made of olive oil with Vladimir Putin or living in a world made of cheese with Tinky Winky.

We’ve recorded 7 episodes this week – SEVEN! And it’s been an utter joy!

I’m also doing All Change again online again (21st April – tell your friends/neighbours/therapist – tickets here https://www.tickettailor.com/events/paulineeyre/505888) and live, in-person comedy is coming BACK, baby! The diary is starting to fill for later in the year, so it all feels good.

And just as it was starting to feel like maybe the nightmare is coming to an end, and maybe things will be happy again, someone we knew in our childhood was mentioned in the paper today, and I thought “ooh, I must call my mum and tell her” and it all came crashing down again.

It’s a funny old thing, grief. I can talk about her, glance at her photo, laugh at happy memories and feel fine, but you never know when something will suddenly punch you in the heart. It’s a story I’ve heard other people tell 100 times, wanting to call the dead person to tell them something, but being a cliche doesn’t make it any less painful.

I guess, like lockdown, there’s still a way to go on my bereavement journey. But at least I have my show (“an unconventional love letter to her family, and in particular her mother”, “heartwarming funniness” The Reviews Hub) and my work… and the hope of opening the door to another dimension, where I’m hanging out in Berlin with David Bowie and Lou Reed eating pie…

Woman in comes up with novel way to deal with hot flush at work. The results will shock you!

Come & see my show live online this Thurs 11th March. Ticket link below

I’ve started working in a shop. I’ve got a pinny n everything! Our family income plummeted last year, so need must. It’s ironic, I’ve always been so sensible as a freelancer, making sure I had lots of irons in the fire and backing up comedy with a variety of other jobs, but apart from the teaching I now do on Zoom, everything else dropped off the pandemic cliff.

When I was little I always wanted to work in a shop, especially one with a big till with lots of buttons and that pleasing ‘ping’ as you jammed your little finger on the big ‘total’. Sadly the till is computerised in our shop, and of course everything’s contactless. I still get to say ‘is there anything else I can get for you?’ though, like a proper shop assistant.

Our shop sells frozen meals and a lot of the day is spent running up and down stairs and filling the freezers with stock. It’s hot work, especially for a menopausal comedian in the midst of a midlife crisis! I’ve found the solution: every so often I stick a facemask in the freezer and emerge smug and cool, with a slightly sweaty hairline.

My other menopausal moment came last week when I got so sick of my looooong hair that I begged my husband to cut it for me. It was great – he did an awesome job! So I…um…asked him to cut it a bit more. I now have a graduated bob like a 1920s flapper girl – or rather, her mum.

This will be just one of the HILARIOUS things you can laugh about this Thursday evening if you come and see my solo show All Change, Pauline Eyre live on Zoom at 8pm. If you saw the show pre-pandemic, and have kept in touch with my story here, the ending has, of course, changed. There have been one or two more big changes, which I’d love to tell you about. Tickets are available here:

https://www.tickettailor.com/events/paulineeyre/487139

The BEST bits about menopause

I know, right? Gorgeous!

Today my head is buzzing with stuff to share, but it’s all pretty same-y. I miss people, I miss comedy, I miss my mum, I miss everything that the pandemic has taken away. Most of it is temporary (most of it *sad face emoji*) and when those things return I’ll appreciate them all the more.

I’m trying to be more positive. At the end of every day I close my eyes and count my blessings. I give thanks for my kids and my home and my health and the fact that there’s chocolate. (I saw a Facebook post from a Covid survivor who now finds the taste of chocolate repellent and my blood ran cold)

I’ve even started giving thanks for my menopause. There’s a lot about it that’s crap, but when I read other people’s experiences of it, I realise mine is a little different. Being freezing all day and boiling all night is without doubt UTTERLY PANTS but other people find suffering in the bits I actually enjoy.

I think there might be something wrong with me. And I think I like it.

For example, chin hair. The constant discovery of little dark sproutings on my chin & neck. I discover them, idly, when I… ha! Who am I kidding?! I look for them constantly! My thumb is always scanning my jawline looking for the little buggers. And most people my age seem to find that upsetting. Not me! I play with them constantly until I get to the tweezers. And it feels SO GOOD when you pull ’em out. I even bought a second pair of tweezers, so I can attack them upstairs or downstairs within minutes of their first appearance.

I was on a menopause forum and people were talking about HRT. Someone was saying she’d rejected the treatment because the hormone patches left stuff on her skin – you know that grey sticky plaster residue that stays when you pull it off. And I thought ‘WHAT?? That’s the best bit! I LOVE rubbing that off!’

Is it just me?

It’s just me, isn’t it…

Endings

This is my mum’s box of tissues. She would keep it on her lap constantly, because her eyes watered and she wanted to be able to wipe them. Always the same brand, with the jolly box, always on her lap. When she died, the box was quite full, and I took it home. I’ve cried a lot of tears into its contents ever since.

I’ve been having bereavement counselling. I was offered 18 free sessions, funded by my local council, and today was Session 10. The counsellor was provided from the organisation that my mum was a bereavement counsellor for 20 or 30 years ago. To say she’d approve would be an understatement!

The sessions have been brilliant. And as a comedian, the joy of having a captive audience to listen to my stream of consciousness every week is nothing short of a gift. In fact, the experience of stand-up helps – that ability to blurt out what’s on your mind, not holding back, not afraid to look a fool for saying something silly.

In comedy, it’s that ability to be child-like, to be the 4 year old who can play, that helps you find the funny. With counselling, it’s being able to find that 4 year old who cries when she’s sad, laughs when she’s happy and who’s not afraid to be accused of ‘just looking for attention’. Well of course I’m looking for attention. I need attention. My heart hurts and I need my mum.

I’ve had a lot of counselling before. I’m ever so good at it (I need an emoji here, but WordPress doesn’t offer them). I once had a first session with a counsellor who arrived home 10 minutes before the start to find me on her doorstep crying. She later said she knew this one was going to be straightforward – no need to draw out what was bothering this client!

And because I’ve worked through a lot of issues in the past, I knew what I needed this time too. I needed to feel less broken (see previous blog) and to deal with another issue that I knew was making this harder. The counselling was never going to fix everything. I’ll still be grieving for a long time to come. I was never going to recover from losing a 54 year relationship in 7 months.

For the first 8 weeks, I’d wake up on Wednesday morning knowing what I needed to talk about. It was all on the surface and I’d open up Zoom at 10 am and launch into it. The sessions were almost themed. And as I talked and cried and reflected, I’d find little lightbulbs of understanding about why different aspects of the experience were so painful, or reflect that it might be healthier to handle some things differently.

Last week was different. I woke up… quite happy actually. It was Biden’s Inauguration Day, the world felt a bit safer, and I didn’t start the day with ‘why does my stomach ache? Oh yes, she’s gone and I’ll never put my head on her chest again’.

I opened up Zoom at 10 and said ‘I don’t know what to say today.’ And we started talking about comedy. And the next 50 minutes were a joyful, celebratory, analytical, glorious, narcissistic conversation about the thing that feeds me more than almost anything else.

I miss it.

Almost as much as I miss my mum.

Today I woke up and again thought ‘I don’t know what to say today’. So I tried to think about what’s upset me in the past week and what I needed help with. And there wasn’t anything. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been upset. I watched It’s A Sin on Channel 4 – of course I’ve been upset!

But this morning, I realised that I don’t need the counselling any more right now. I’m doing ok. I’m still grieving, it still hurts, but I’m not blocked. When it hits me, I crumple and I cry and then I get up and carry on.

So we decided, I decided, that today was the final session. This was an ending that was in my control. I am grateful and I am full of love for this wonderful woman who has journeyed with me for the last couple of months. But for now, I can do it on my own. (If I need to go back at any time, I can)

We said our goodbyes and I left the meeting. And I reached into my mum’s tissue box and pulled out the last one. Had a little cry, blew my nose and put the box in the recycling.

And then took it out again.

I may keep it for just a little while longer.

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