36. Relief all round

36. Relief all round

The boys were all pretty happy to see me home safely.

They were at the airport at midnight; Cody vaulted the barriers everyone was standing so neatly behind and threw his arms around me . I think there were a couple of hundred people who enjoyed the reunion.

I am happy to have taught my boys to love big, that to give it away is the first gift in any relationship of substance.

So I’m home, and I’m pretty happy about that too. Even Louis and Freddie are relieved we’re a unit again. See what I mean?


There’ll be more stories if you want to stick around. Maybe  not every day, but there’ll be stories. The Orla Tour was clearly a showstopper but – whether I like it or not –  there always seems to be something to say, or something that’s just happened, in Jill-land.

I might just keep writing it down.


35. Altered reality

We are holed up in the transit area in KL.   Half way through our journey home, we are also between time zones, as is everyone else. We had muesli for dinner; I guess we’ll have dinner for breakfast.  Heading to the lift, on the way to the lounge, a British man said Good Morning to me.   In the lift an American man gave me a glazed smile. He left at level one.  Good night he said.   In Malaysia it is 8 am.  We are all time zone zombies.

Only another twelve hours til we are home.  I am more than ready to re-enter my life again. I miss my boys like oxygen. I miss my dogs. I miss my life.   I miss my home. I miss my work.

I left New Zealand with a nervous friend, a suite of Pollyanna intentions and, I’m not going to lie to you, a wounded heart of my own.

A lot of ‘releasing’ has occurred in the last two weeks. Stuart has released into fatherhood and all the gruesome glorious realities of loving that big.  And, in the process of witnessing the purity of that, I’ve very gently let a big love go.

Two altered realities; there’s a result.

34. The golden light

I saw her two more times, Stuart thrice.  Each time was a little easier, a little less unspoken stranger danger flying round the room.

We leave Orla with the golden light of parental love all around her and can confirm with surety she is a blessed little girl.  But let’s not deny this one: in Stuart, we take some equally golden love away.

There was a lot of earnest talk about ‘family of choice’ versus ‘family of origin’ around the three tables we met at and it seems to me that, yes, it is a mature society that allows it’s members to make those choices for themselves and their dependants.

But in the last few years I have witnessed first hand the long-term primal wounds that can be created by being deliberately separated or even estranged from blood love. You can rationalise the absence all you want, you can throw as much impressive intellectual rigour at the debate, but when the dust settles there it is: the unspoken absence.

My greatest hope is that Stuart (most definitely part of my own family of choice) will be given the nod to make a primary and regular contribution to Orla May as she grows, that he will have permission to share not just his baby batter, but his unconditional blood love to the little girl it helped create.

From where I’m sitting, seat 8A at the moment in fact, there’s no downside for Orla May that I can see.

Happy ending? Happy beginning for sure.

32. Matinee Idol

Today we went to the Apollo Theatre and saw Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.  We picked it because it had rave reviews, we’d heard Mark Rylance the lead actor was extraordinary and we could actually get in.

SO there we were at 1:30, taking our two expensive seats in the stalls, snuggled up as we were with a few hundred kindly folk  from a grey power convention (that’s what it looked like).

I’m not going to lie to you, I was nervous it was going to be too too worthy for me.  The programme said it was a three hour show.   That’s a long time for a couple of cats to sit still. We had a contigency plan to stay til the end of the first act  if it wasn’t our English Breakfast.

Then the gloves came off, and with it the top of my head. Screaming music, strobe flashing images of the hell party  in a caravan in the English Woods, we certainly got our wake up call.

It was an extraordinary piece of theatre and a spellbinding performance from Rylance. As one of the reviews said, he is surely the only actor in the world who can somehow contrive to limp and strut at the same time, his dark eyes glittering with a mixture of mischief and something darker and more disturbing.

Butterworths’s Jerusalem is a defiant celebration of personal freedom (at least they’re alive man!), yet at the same time one feels an undoubted sympathy for anyone who finds themselves living near a man like Rooster Byron. I wouldn’t want him moving into Westmere, I can tell you that much.

The play was at once funny and sad, tender and terrifyingly violent, its amphetamine rush of excitement was watching Rylance, a new idol for me, giving the most thrilling performance it has ever been my privilege to witness.

We staggered into the daylight at 4:30. Speechless. Well, there was one word:


31. Best intentions

The National Gallery was today’s key item  on the agenda. That was the intention.  Two days left in London, better take in some of the grand masters.

But then I met Steve for lunch, cheap Japanese joint called TOKYO in Chinatown, soba noodles, Leicester Square Tube, four stops, BOOM, Harvey Nichols.

Harvey Nichols is a work of art though. Well it has it’s moments. Some of the staff were real pieces. And the mannequins were glorious, as you can see. The prices were imaginative too. A Vanessa Bruno dress I bought in Paris was four times more expensive. Four times.

I bought a Nicole Farhi bag then promptly saw one I liked more. Damn I should have dated it for a while first.

You weren’t allowed to take photos. Arrest me I said.  The girl blanched and walked away. I took these photos.

I guess I can be a work of art too.


29. Amateur Hour

So we’d booked a table at  The Ivy for Sunday lunch, because people said we should.

Snuggled in the heart of Soho since the early twentieth century , it’s nana chic walls are lined with black and white photographs of history’s theatrical royalty – Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich and Dame Nellie Melba all ate there. Noël Coward was an habitue. And now it was hosting Secret Royalty.  Shambolic, hungover, disoriented Secret Royalty.

Sunday’s  unraveling possibly began the night before. Extremely overstimulated after meeting the new princess, we had inhaled an outrageous amount of champagne before falling into twin comaes.

The resulting twin hangovers dramatically reduced our common sense, so rather than ask exactly where the restaurant was, we got them to order us a cab.  It was black, it was a late model Mercedes, it was gorgeous and it drove us three whole blocks to our location. Funny.

During this four minute drive, I thought I was going to be sick, so the window was down and I was  doing a lot of breathing. A lot. There was a lot of unattractive clamminess taking place as well.

A lovely  Aunty type checked our coats, and we were ushered into the dining room. Could it have been any hotter? I wanted to go sit with the Aunty in the Cloak Room . I had to go outside for fresh air; there was a point, when he had no more layers to remove, that I thought Stuart was going to lose the t-shirt too.

I ordered the chicken broth. Invalid food. He ordered something substantial, then he saw someone else tucking into what looked like his choice, went green and changed his order. To chicken broth. No wine. A lot of burping into the beautiful napkins.

We asked  (as calmly as possible) our immaculate waiter to  turn down the air con or open a window. He could have said no; instead he said “Oh thank gauud. You don’t want to be wearing this three piece I can promise you”. Perfect.

Three months to get a table and we were out on the pavement in an hour. An amateur hour.

I’m pretty sure it was great. But what would I know.

28. Holding the torch

Am I the only one who does a good line in weeping in restaurant toilets? Because twenty minutes into meeting the newest member of the Secret Royal Family and that’s where I was.

I wasn’t prepared for how perfect she would be, how much love and vulnerablility travelled with her, how Stu’s face would soften so much.

I wasn’t prepared to be walloped by  grief for the babies I’d lost in making the two perfect boys I have.

I  wasn’t prepared to instantly love her.

It was a terrifying beautiful magnificent few hours, watching three parents begin to share a single light source as they walked through the dark together.  Orla May – which means new golden princess (of course it does) – was a darling, smiling and gooing  and letting us cuddle and kiss and smell her.

There was a lot of nervousness on the mums’ parts too, especially the one who didn’t carry Orla May as her link was by love not blood. Would Stuart’s genetic contribution perhaps diminish her own? It didn’t of course.

That’s the great thing about unchartered territories. Frightening and exciting in turn, they will always lead you to a new place and leave you with new emotional equipment. And if you want your heart to stay big and fat and strong, you can’t have too much of that.

Like love I guess.