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Friday, 6 November 2015


The King has a nose like a bloodhound. I’m not kidding, it’s a thing of beauty, and let’s be honest, sometimes a thing of extreme annoyance. Take mint for instance; he hates it and if he smells it within a half-mile radius he will sniff it out and tell you to get rid of it. We have an ongoing war over chewing gum (you’d think he would be championing to chew it, but alas no). He’s the chewing gum police and I sneak it like an addict until he smells it, calls me out and demands I spit it out. Obviously I tell him who is boss when I feel like it, but he actually does me the favour of not looking like a bovine animal.

Funny thing is, I’m starting to realize his bloodhound nostrils are a genetic trait. I’ve always had a keen sense of smell (which was a nightmare in pregnancy and when living in Manhattan) and such acute sense memory when it comes to scents and my childhood. Certain shampoos, foods, types of trees, you name it, and I’ll be catapulted back in time like I’m trapped in some studio film. Which being a writer, I quite like. Not to mention, I also have sensitivity to other smells that I simply cannot be around – obviously dog poop and garbage go without saying. Perfume for starters has to pass a litany of tests in order to make it onto my neck and most of course, don’t.

Funny enough, when I met my husband, he was also huge on smell (as you can imagine, finding the perfect candles and diffusers for our house take us weeks as my husband likes to literally smell 100 of them before making a decision). When we were looking for a flat, he'd walk into a room, say it smelt like damp as if he was a building inspector, turn and leave without another word. He was also as equally as picky as to what he – and I – put on our skins. There is nothing worse than being told you smell like something NOT desirable to keep you from buying it ever again. Well actually, there is something worse and that’s when your husband and your father end up buying the same cologne. IT’S JUST wrong.

Equally fitting, when I’m away from the King or my husband, the first thing I miss is their smell. It’s a strange subconscious thing, but if I can smell them on a t-shirt or item in my possession, I somehow feel more grounded. On that same note, I am that strange mother that often smells the top of their son’s head, or the back of their neck just to get a hit of that something that makes me feel more sane. And no, it’s not always the good smells that I covet. The King’s morning breath for some reason I find adorable (I never said I was rational).

Apparently in the realm of relationships, scientists have tested it, and one can actually smell compatibility. According to a famous study (that I’m too tired to look up), “human beings are capable of sniffing out certain parts of our potential partners’ DNA that make up their immune system, called major histocompatibility genes (MHC), to determine whom we’re compatible with.” Furthermore, we tend to be attracted to people whose MHC compositions are different from ours so that our offspring's immune system covers as many diseases as possible. It’s not exactly romantic, but it would make sense as we’re just mere steps above animals. And what do they do all day but smell things. 
Back to the King and his great smelling neck, I’m not sure if the smell of his adorable boy sweat means we’re compatible, but it definitely makes me feel like my blood pressure lowers by a few points. Maybe it’s not fresh cut grass or rainfall, but I’ll take it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


We are buying our first house (hopefully by the end of this week, it will be bought instead of 'buying'). Wait, let me clarify, we live in London, so you have to be an oil baron to buy an actual house. So, we are buying our first flat. Which is a feat in itself considering property prices in this city are rising faster than a Kardashian’s hemline.

To be honest, it is not something I ever thought we would be able to do. As most of you know that have secured a mortgage in the last few years, you now have to practically promise your first born child, pee in a cup and dance like a monkey in order to get a bank to look at you. Ahhhh gone are the good old days when they gave you a mortgage for simply showing up (I kid; that wasn’t the answer either as it turned out). To make matters worse when you’re self employed you may as well walk into the mortgage advisors office and tell them you’re a prostitute, because that is about as much credibility being self employed gets you. But alas, after several exhaustive months of mountains of paperwork, we were approved for a mortgage – I was getting acupuncture (to CALM down) when my husband called to tell me the news, if that gives you any idea of my current stress levels.

After approval, as you wait for the property to get surveyed, approved, & blessed by a team of anti-damp shamans (I wish) move into the glorious phase of, 'okay, we have this place, now what on earth shall we do with it considering it looks like it's been lived in by a bunch of unruly frat boys.'  I quickly learned that not only do I know very little about actual design, but after a few paint swatches, my eyes cross, and my husband has to wake me up from a colour induced slumber. Let’s put it this way, I definitely know what I like (and more importantly what I don’t like), but the journey through thousands of paint, tile and carpet samples - that just make me sneeze – to figure out that I really just don’t love carpet is pretty damn fatiguing. Then of course you realise the difference between reality and 'laughable never gonna happen-ity' in terms of budgeting any sort of house renovations. There is what you want it to look like, and what you can afford it to look like. Two very different things.

The other thing that an American quickly realizes (obviously I knew this years ago, but as I wasn’t a home owner I simply scoffed at the lunacy of it) is that things over here are done very differently. When you start saying things like Freehold and Leasehold to a foreigner like myself, we look at you like you’ve literally lost your mind. But in nutshell, if you buy a leasehold property in England, you own the flat, but not the land it’s sitting on. Yes you heard me. So in order to do any alterations, additions or anything structural to the flat, you will need permission from the Freeholder. In our case, we are part owners of the freehold as we own a flat in a period building of three flats. This sounds promising doesn’t it? But wait for it, as we’re only part owners of the freehold, we still have to ask the other freeholders if say we want to put down wood floor in our flat, or put in a new bathroom; so essentially, you own the dress, but you have ask the neighbor if you can zip the damn thing up. From where I come from, if I buy a house/apartment and want to put in a strobe light and wood floor down with the Presidents face etched into it, I can (gosh, so many presidents, so little time). 

So needless to say the last few months have meant I’ve slept for about twenty minutes as my husband and I have obsessed over the minutiae of how, what, where and what colour (& let’s be frank, at this point I have my sister on speed dial as my husband and I have deemed her the 'style guru'. Cause, well, she is). Of course the King - in the midst of all this - has now decided he likes black carpet and purple walls.  I just smile, nod and then politely tell him in our relationship I’m the freeholder, and the freeholder says no. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


There is a new app causing a real uproar in the cyber world due to its fundamental vileness (for lack of a more eloquent way to describe it). The ‘Peeple’ app allows people (gosh they're witty) to rate other human beings that they know in the same way people rate hotels, restaurants, and stores. My first response when I heard about this was, WHY, dear god why do we need an app where we rate our 'friends?' Was there really such a void in the app world for such a thing? (Ding ding ding: NO).  God knows we don’t have enough unsolicited opinions/comments in the cyber world from know-it-all trolls who are dying to voice their negativity;  now we need an app where we rate one another? And let's be frank, we're a superficial (cruel) society. Friend or no friend, I highly doubt people are going to be writing about one another's scintillating intellect. 

The founders of this app assure the public that before anything is posted, it will be pre-screened for abuse. Uh huh. And there is this fantastic bridge I have for sale here in London if you’re interested. They of course go on to remind users that once you sign onto this app (UM, as it’s a choice, whatever moron signs up for this abuse, well, they almost deserve it), you will not be able to delete comments made about you, nor will you be able to remove yourself from the site once you sign on. So in short, for those of you still not in full grasp of the internet, once you step in the wet cement, your footprints are there FOR LIFE.

The uproar – as imagined – has called the app everything from ‘irresponsible,’ ‘creepy,’ to downright bullying. And honestly, they’re not wrong. However, from the sounds of it the founders of this brainchild are somehow trying to suggest that their app is going to singlehandedly spread positivity in the world. But of course! Cause now you can rate your friends and express how great they are (cause you couldn’t do this in person to your best friend; Nah, that would be too…personal and discreet). And once you say or receive these positive accolades, you can then share the positive things said about you. Oh my god, I can literally hear ‘Sound of Music,’ in the background, what a wonderful rainbow world we live in! Look everyone, people think I'm special, they really like me! 

Julia Cordray, one of the co-founders, says that for those of us fearing that people out there will resort to negativity instead of positivity, the site will heavily police what is submitted before it is posted to make sure nothing racist, hateful, sexual or profane is said. All I can say, is that this company better have a HUGE staff ready and waiting for the tsunami of negative sh*t coming their way, cause the cyber world as far as I can see, breeds negativity like a parasitic petri dish.

I think my altogether favourite thing said by Ms. Cordray is that it is perfectly normal for people to fear the app as it’s new. And people fear new, according to Julia….well, I don’t know about you, but I also fear negativity, bullying and people spewing utter bullsh*t to push a product.  Her brilliant scientifically steeped defense: “When the people found out that Earth was round instead of flat and that we revolved around the sun instead of the Sun revolving around us, naturally people were upset and confused and they pushed back with all that they had.” Haaaaaaaa. Yes, this is exactly like that, Jules. 

Trust me, I’m not confused nor are the critics of this app. In fact, we’re very much NOT confused. This is a case of the public knowing how the cyber world operates, the trolls it beckons from under the stairs, and the pointless negativity that ensues from apps like these. Not to mention the utter pointlessness of the app in and of itself.

But go on, tell your friends how much you like their new hairstyle on your new Peeple app (that will require 5/10 more minutes in your day to do so, so use your time wisely. Ahem.). You know what, I’m feeling more positive already.

Friday, 18 September 2015


A funny thing happens when you hit your 40's (yes, I am woman enough to admit that I’m indeed there). You start realizing that in many ways, you are the best that you have ever been [or at least you feel that way; I suppose in truth you could be utterly deluded]. You’re more confident and at ease in your skin, and you’ve trimmed the proverbial fat in your life and realize that more (friends, hanger ons, stuff etc.) isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, there is nothing more liberating than realizing who truly has your back and what you need in life. And trust me, by your 40s you figure this out damn fast.

Moreover, for many who are in your 40s, you’ve reached that place in love, career, and life where things have settled into an acceptable groove; You know what you like and more importantly what you don't like. You’ve hit a few meaningful benchmarks, you’ve hopefully found that life partner, and you can actually be proud of your accomplishments and have the confidence to pat yourself on the back. As opposed to those other pesky decades when confidence was in fleeting supply and you often failed to relish in the moments you should have. (Saying this, when I now meet a self possessed 20 year old who truly knows who they are and what they want, it takes everything in my power not to hug them and weep with envy). 

Then the irony hits you, with all this new found knowledge and inner peace that you’ve managed to accrue, you realize that this is the decade you NEED it the most. Perhaps it’s just me, but suddenly everywhere I turn, I encounter another tale that sobers me right up in regards to the fleetingness of life. (I partially blame sobriety for this, as in my 20's, I was simply moving too fast and loose to care about the realities of life). In the last few years, I have lost close friends to cruel diseases, the C word starts rearing it’s head everywhere I look (that’s cancer, not the other C word. Then again, any four letter word comes in handy at this point in my life), and the realities of life – such as death, disease and divorce, start coming fast and furiously. Then of course I quickly find myself wanting to curl up beside the King at night and compete for his teddy bear. ‘Damn it, you don’t need it like I do, you’re 5. You’re worst trauma is that the supermarket runs out of cheese!’

It’s not that any of these things failed to occur when one was younger. For many, sadly their young lives are rife with certain tragedies the rest of us have been lucky enough to avoid. But with one’s 40s (and 50’s and so on), you truly realize the preciousness of everything. In short, what you have to lose and how grateful you are to have it - and losing it would require a world's supply of Xanax. And moreover, you like life damn it, and you don’t want things to change! 

I suppose this is the thing people have been saying our whole lives, it’s only until now we can truly hear it. Life is indeed precious. And fleeting. So engage in your life and truly be grateful. It’s that simple…or at my age, it should be. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Whoever came up with the idea of schooling one’s children was a genius – and no doubt, a parent of many children (apparently one of the oldest schools on record was from the Shishi Middle School in China 143–141 BC. God bless the Chinese). Hmm, how do I legitimize sending my children somewhere (in a supervised capacity of course) so I get a break and they actually do something of worth that doesn't involve driving me nuts, playing Minecraft or obtaining swimmer's ear?? Yes, of course, we teach them stuff in a structured environment - preferably in large building with an even larger gate -  and do it for as many hours as possible!! Eureka!

Can’t you just see the first conversation about determining the length of the actual school day: “Let’s create a place where children can go and learn and play for a couple of hours each day….Actually why not make it a half day….To hell with that, there is so much to learn, let’s make it ¾ of the day and throw in some after school activities to make the parents happy! Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer holidays and the King had a riotous time doing this that and the other, but by summers end, every parent has that look about him or her. You know that, ‘if someone doesn’t take my kid for me I’m going to implode’ kind of look. Let’s be honest, there is only so many ‘why’ questions I can answer per week until my brain starts to feel like it's going to melt. By September, it’s up to a teacher to navigate the curious rapid-fire assault of wonder that is my son’s brain.

Not to mention, the holidays are also awash in consumption, frivolity and NO discernible schedule in sight (as it should be really). Hence by summer’s end, if you see one more ice cream van you slip into some sort of PTSD episode and start clutching your wallet as you run the other direction screaming, I swear, I don't have any change!!  The other pro and con of summer days is their sheer length. I love cherish summer activities with the King, but when he starts going to bed at 9/10 o’clock every night come summertime, I start looking for a more powerful night cream and a pillow to rest on.

Luckily, at the moment, he is a kid that adores school (oh school, I love you so much) and at the first sighting of his male posse, he ran and joined them in tightly knit huddle – this is what I love about 5 year olds, they are so not about cool and all about showing their emotions however they see fit. And then you see the shift in parents all around the neighborhood. That summer look is quickly replaced by the other look of ‘YES’ my kids are back in school and I can actually use my brain look and get stuff done…followed by the ‘oh sh*t look, my kids are back in school and I forgot how nuts it gets….you see, you can never win.

Alas, the King is officially in year one and hopefully they will have him reading War and Peace by month’s end (I kid, I kid). Then again, if he is counting grains of sand, I’m fine with that too as long as they keep him until 3 o’clock and teach him something aside from the schedule of the ice cream vans around our neighborhood.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015



Here’s another unbelievable story for you; unbelievable in a ‘dear god are people that utterly stupid’ kind of way.

Recently in Abu Dhabi, an area rife with money beyond one’s comprehension, a mobile phone number sold at auction for £2.1 million pounds. I’ll let you sit with that one for a moment. Yes, a phone number, not a house, or a yacht, or a priceless work of art, but a simple set of digits. The number 777-7777 (okay fine, it’s easy to remember, but honestly? Get a notepad if you can’t remember numbers) sold at auction to an anonymous (moron) individual, but as with anything in life, there is a catch. This proud new owner of said number doesn’t even own it, they are just renting it essentially from the government. But on the flip side they are lucky recipient of a two-year contract, which includes 22,500 phone minutes, 22,500 text messages, and 100GB of data every month. Gosh darn did they hit the jackpot, come to think of it, they better start limbering up their texting fingers.

I don’t know about you, but I locked myself into a two-year contract almost 2 years ago and I have been counting down every single day until my liberation. I think if I had paid 2 million for it, I’d be a lot more depressed. The other catch, cause this story just keeps on giving, before the bids were placed, the bidders were warned from the phone regulators that they had the right to change or withdraw the special numbers at any time. And yet, the auction went ahead and one lucky minted individual with clearly too much cash to burn bought himself a two-year contract. I may be frugal, but even if I had a billion dollars, I would not be shelling out that kind of money for a number. Then again, I don’t have a billion dollars.

I suppose for some (obviously), there is real power in a number. I’ve had the same mobile number for over 10 years, it’s nothing special, but I figured it’s helped keep my brain from turning to mush as it’s not all 7’s. Where’s the challenge in that? Funny enough, certain numbers no matter what you do stick with you over time. To this day I still remember my best friend’s number from childhood (don’t worry MF I will not repeat it) as well as a restaurant that delivered on my college campus (which speaks volumes about what I did my freshman year) over…well, many years ago.

The most surreal part of this story is not that people have this much money (although the disparity of this world is depressing at best), but that they spend it on this sh*t as opposed to putting it to good use. My advice to the upper money set of Abu Dhabi, challenge your brain and get a more complicated phone number and give your money to charity. You’ll feel a whole lot better I promise you and may even stave off dementia for a few more years.

Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed