A Tribute to Tutti

Twelve hours before I gave birth to my daughter, Marnie, Tutti made me a midnight snack. Cheese and butter soldiers, lovingly stacked, Jenga-style, for me, her 33-year-old daughter, who has never grown out of thinking that toast tastes better, bite-sized.

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Marnie-in-utero and cheese toast soldiers.

In hospital, as I was pushing, feeling sure I was soon to expire from exhaustion, she held my heavy, anaesthetised leg, to help my baby emerge. Matty offered solid encouragement well away from the business end. (“Don’t go there, mate,” a friend had warned him. “It’s like watching your favourite pub burn down.”)

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In the maternity ward, where the food is not always edible, Tutti brought me my favourite Chicken Tandoori Za’atar toastie and a vanilla milkshake from Café Zivelli, so I could have a delicious lunch and feel momentarily removed from the dreary room, with the call bells constantly beeping and the babies wailing in corridors.

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This is what hospital food looks like.

When we came home with the baby, bleary eyed and shell-shocked, Tutti wielded her brilliant bub-soothing powers to quell the pterodactyl-shrieks of our perfect newborn, ensuring it wasn’t nearly as stressful as it could have been. And when Matty moved upstairs so he could get some much needed sleep to fuel his busy days at work, Tutti stayed up with me way past midnight until baby fell asleep.

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She’s done infinite loads of washing and ironing and grocery shopping and cooked delicious healthy meals and laughed in the face of endless vomming and nappy changing (the baby’s, not mine) and has been instrumental in ensuring that I don’t turn into a pyjama-round-the-clock-wearing, scarecrow-haired, makeup-free hermit. (The refrain of ‘Put some lipstick on!’ ever ringing in my ears).

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And I think that if I can be even a quarter of the mother to my daughter that she has been to me, Miss Marnie will be a very lucky little girl indeed.

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Tutti, me as a baby and Tutti’s mum – my darling grandmother Minnie, who Marnie was named after.

 

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Marnie

My daughter Marnie entered the world with barely a squeak. Barely a whimper.

One minute everything was going marvelously. I was lying in bed feeling utterly relaxed, delighting in the little green light that flashed every 15 minutes indicating I could top up my epidural.

The next, there were suddenly too many people in the room. Too many furrowed brows. Hardly a sound but for the slowing beep of the baby heart monitor. I held my breath. I may have prayed.

Marnie was not having a particularly good time of it, thanks to an entangled umbilical that had strapped her in like a seatbelt. And for all my red-cheeked, vein-popping, labour-intense pushing, she was not going anywhere fast.

The kind-faced obstetrician wielded the forceps. Don’t worry, just the small forceps, he told me. He could have been using giant salad servers for all I cared – I was blissfully oblivious to whatever contortions my nether regions were performing, thanks to the spectacular spell of anaesthesia. All I wanted was to expel my little baby from her womb with(out) a view and for her to be okay.

And then, finally, she arrived; sweet and squashed, foaming at the mouth. Silent.

She was placed on my chest for all of two seconds, then whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to have life rubbed briskly into her pale pink body; to be oxygenated and aspirated and hooked up to monitors and tube fed.

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Matty was no longer in the room since he’d followed Marnie to the NICU (quietly plutzing over his dramatic start to fatherhood). I lay in bed feeling shell-shocked and amazed that a human being had just been squeezed out of me.

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I didn’t get to hold my baby properly for a couple of days. The first time I met her, a good few hours after her delivery, I peered down at her in her plastic crib and stood awkwardly, unsure of what to do with someone so small and vulnerable – with her toothpick limbs and bobble head. I almost felt I should extend my hand with a formal ‘pleased to meet you.’ After all, we had only just met, even if she had lived inside me for the most part of a year.

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The WTF-has-just-happened? face. Seriously. WTF.

There were no sudden explosions of overwhelming love, or fireworks or thunderbolts. Rather, my adoration grew slowly, over days, over weeks; stretching, unfurling like a lazy dog in the sun.

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The many faces of Marnie

And now, six weeks on, I’m amazed at how I’ve adapted. At how I’m able to leap out of bed at 3am and 6am – with a smile on my face because my baby needs me and she’s incredibly cute. I’ve become a morning person and a night owl and everything in between. I’m exhausted and jet-lagged and I don’t mind at all.

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Being a baby = exhausting.

To see Matty with his daughter is incredibly special. He’s a wonderful father, as I knew he would be. And there’s no more devoted a big sister than Tiggy the dog, who looks concerned when Marnie cries, lies by her cot, gently nuzzles her ear and watches on adoringly with big, brown eyes. We’re a family now, and it’s inexplicably lovely.

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Daddy and baby. Carbon copies.

I’m mesmerised by Marnie’s every sound (perhaps not the pterodactyl screech that breaks through the sound barrier of acceptable decibels and could probably shatter glass – but still.) I could stare at her face all day. Her expressions are hilarious. I guess no kid of mine had a choice but to be at least a little bit funny looking.

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Funny faces. It’s in the genes.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself – to think that I’m a mother, with a blue-eyed, red-haired daughter. An impossibly sweet one, who fits perfectly inside a fine-china teacup.

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How to tie a headscarf, Tutti-style

There’s no denying Tutti has amazing hair. It’s as pure in colour as a unicorn’s mane, defies gravity and grows vertically, like the spikes of a snow-white pineapple. But it’s her headwear that has people turning heads. For as long as she can remember she’s been tying all manner of scarves, donning hats and even in the ’80s used to thread scarves around these weird, padded headbands (see pic below, top left) which she still managed to make look fabulous.

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My weekend with Ari Seth Cohen

There’s no denying that social media has helped the world become a whole lot smaller. You can reminisce with strangers, forge virtual, international friendships, connect with anyone no matter how seemingly unattainable or powerful or famous they are.

And so it was, that somehow, I made contact with the inspirational photographer, author and blogger Ari Seth Cohen, whose blog, Advanced Style documents the stylish outfits worn by women over 60, for whom the street is their catwalk.

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Tutti, Ari and Me in Paddington. Photo by instagram.com/pelle4scarpe

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Adventures in Metaphysics

After hermitting myself away for the past few weeks, neglecting my bloggy blog, going to work, getting home and working my butt off editing The Guru’s book, (while suffering from preggers-induced fatigue and evil heartburn that would make the fiery flames of hell feel like a balmy breeze ) I am delighted (and relieved) to say I’ve done it! The Cranky Guru – Adventures in Metaphysics by Paul L Bennett is just about ready to unleash itself on the world.

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Tutti and The Guru dressed for a black-and-white night on the town, on Saturday.

It’s never easy working on a project of this magnitude with a parent (especially when you live with them and there’s no escape from the constant barrage of “How are you going with the book? Are you going to finish it tonight? What? It will take two weeks? But I want it done in one! Are you working on it tonight? Good morning – I know you’re still snoozing and it’s 6.30 on Saturday but I was just wondering how the book’s going. So about the book… is it finished yet? Yes I know you’re on the toilet but perhaps we could have a meeting now through the keyhole.”) but we got there in the end.

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And even though I don’t agree with all of the Guru’s esoteric philosophies, I’m pretty proud of the fact that he’s managed to write something that is warm, funny, candid and engaging.

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I can’t wait for you all to go out and get your hands on a copy, but in the meantime, I shall tantalise you with the back cover blurb.

Are we merely victims of circumstance, or can we actually create our own destiny? Does time exist? Are past, present and future happening simultaneously? Are dreams real? Do our beliefs create our reality? The answers to these eternal questions and many more can be found within. Merging humour and real life anecdotes with esoteric philosophy, this book has evolved over thirty years of study and deep contemplation. It has been a journey of discovery unlike any other, offering assistance to all who seek  answers to living effective lives in ‘Earth School’.

Metaphysics, or the art of ‘Acting As If’, is the universal tool of creation. Its mastery, achievable by anyone with an open mind, will open doors you may not have previously imagined. Whether you want to be the master of your own success, heal past hurts, improve your relationships or simply find a greater sense of inner peace, one thing’s for sure: this book will defiinitely change your perspective. It might even change your life.

Love and light, bitches!

Ceci xx

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Big Kids

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are a few pictures I took last weekend when Tutti the Guru and I went to the first Mother Artist Network Forum at the Museum of Contemporary Art, hosted by two extraordinarily impressive women, Lilly Blue and Jo Pollitt, who besides having children, day jobs and a million other of life’s bits and bobs to juggle, are also the creators of Big Kids Magazine, inspiring creativity and a passion for the arts in little kidlets (and big kidlets) everywhere. (Phew! That was a long sentence!)

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Whose shoes are whose?

Issue six is out now and you should totally buy it. Why? Because it’s amazing and beautiful and because Lilly and Jo work their butts off to produce it. (I can confirm, they are both 100% butt-less, and it’s all for the love of the magazine).

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This is ISSUE SIX of Big Kids Magazine

Anyway, the Mother Artist Network Forum (which also included mothers-and-artists Emma Magenta and Emma Gale on the panel) was an absolutely fascinating, inspiring discussion about art and motherhood.

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Living, breathing art. Someone should install Tutti and The Guru at the MCA.

For example: What does it mean to be a Mother and an Artist? Is your practice enhanced because of, or despite having children? Are the two inextricably linked, independent of each other, or a little bit of both depending on the day? Is being an artist a luxury? A right? Or essential and unavoidable if you’re inherently creative and passionate about making marks on a page?

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Tutti: Is she a mother, or an artist, or an artwork? Or all of the above?

It certainly brought into focus a whole lot of issues I’ve been thinking about in the lead up to becoming a mother myself – not least how this next chapter of my life is going to manifest creatively…

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Pop art and stripes

After the forum we stayed for the Launch of Big Kids magazine Issue 6 (which, as already mentioned, is utterly brilliant).

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A marriage of multicolour

Then Tutti, the Guru and I did what any sane person would do. We found a colourful floor and lay on it.

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Where does the floor end and Tutti and The Guru begin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving house in a hurry

I’m not going to lie. Estate agents are not my favourite people (with a few exceptions, like anything in life). But they became even LESS favourite recently when the agent we’re using to rent out our flat (BECAUSE WE’RE MOVING IN WITH TUTTI AND THE GURU FOR A YEAR) only told us the date our tenant was moving in… in his head.
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