g'day bigmoosers,

how's your week been?



busy and boozy?

hopefully you’re coping ok?

this time of year sees some people behave very strangely, and a recent dinner with some friends somehow brought up the conversation of corporal punishment when we were at school, and one of my mates, morning bulldog, told of how he had received the slipper when he was at school, prior to his p.e. class.

when quizzed as to why he had received the slipper, he told us that his class were going to the sports hall to play 'pirates' as a treat, and that his enthusiasm had spilled over, and resulted in him running aroung the gymnasium shouting “pirates, pirates, pirates”, like a human catherine wheel.

unfortunately, his passion for the lesson ahead saw his teacher decide to reward him with six of the best in order to curtail his effervescence, and he duly removed his adidas beckenbauer trainer, and delivered this punishment, in a very 70’s manner.

strangely, since this discussion, i have on more than one occasion stood still while watching crazed christmas shoppers rushing from high street store to store, inserting my own soundtrack, which has them all screaming “pirates, pirates, pirates!” try it, boxing day at the sales it should work perfectly :)

so the talk of corporal punishment at school in the 70’s was not normal conversation for me and my dinner chums, but this leads me into an experience i had this week, as i ventured north to manchester to do an everest based presentation for the william hulme grammar school, where a new friend of mine and chloe’s, caithy walker teaches.

our plan has been to get into as many schools as poss, to tell our story, and hopefully inspire some dustbin lids to believe they can achieve their dreams, and they should try their hardest to achieve their potential, and whilst this was my most challenging school to do this at to date, and at points i searched high and low for a modern day equivalent of that adidas beckenbauer, it had some lovely children, with some great interactions, a few of which i really liked.

the little girl who told me her dream is to be a doctor, a little boy who asked if i was going to be the oldest person to ever climb everest, and my favourite when i asked the room if they had any dreams, was a very tiny little boy who passionately told me that his dream was that he wanted to create something that would live on after he died.

what a little legend, i would so like to see how his life pans out.

so as we drove home with smiles in our hearts, i didn’t expect the balancing negatives to come into my world quite so quickly.

i woke the next morning to read a message that had been posted on my instagram feed informing me that as i had used oxygen to climb manaslu that i was a doper and a cheat.

really, i’m just a 50 year old geezer trying to get up a hill, throw me a bone wouldja, i’d love to climb 8000m peaks without oxygen, but i know my limitations, and this ain't no olympics dude, so i toyed with engaging with this keyboard warrior, but reflected that blocking him, and paying him no heed was probably the best course of action, oh my how i’ve mellowed :)

so that was dig number one, dig number two came when I went out for a hastily arranged sherbert and nosebag with a couple of pals one of whom talks more than the other.

i was asked what i’d been up to, and mentioned the school trip, which then prompted the one that uses words more to enquire about everest, and i could see a glint in his eye, here we go i thought as he pulled the pin out of the grenade, “but why everest?”

i felt happy to be able to air my new found response to this question, that fitted like a very comfortable pair of shoes, you know like the ones that when you put them on you know they will never cause your plates of meat to get sore or achey however long you wear them for.

“i want to achieve my potential” i slowly said.

he digested my answer, and i could visibly see this had rocked him, and left him no chink to insert his sword.

but this man was trained in his art, controversy was his middle name, he would not leave without having disrupted, “ah but everest is just a tourist climb”

seriously, you knob, when was the last time you went to 8000m, there are no “tourist climbs” i’m sorry, come and try with me, we’ll see how fricking easy it is you argumentative drainer of energy!!!

no, i didn’t say that, i just thought it, he had drawn blood!

i rationalised, and answered that i wanted my journey to inspire people to realise that they can aspire to do whatever they set their mind on doing, and if we show them that we can all do tough stuff that might have some good results.

he countered “i don’t think the world needs heroes”

i gave up and ordered a pint.

some people love a good fight, and to antagonise, it’s a strange phenomenon, but one i seem to encounter more and more as i do stuff like i’m doing, weird huh.

anyway, that was the negative stuff, there has been lots of good stuff to take from the week, and i think leaves me with a positive balance.

my manaslu guide bruce text me to say “looks like i’ll be taking your summit pics on the big hill” as he is confirmed to be working on my team in 2017, which really makes me happy, bruce is a top geezer, and i will love sharing my everest experience with him.

the cabinet office called and asked me to write a piece for them, which is kinda cool.

we had a call from the b corp folk, to tell us that we are going to be accepted as a b corp business, which is uber cool, and if you are new readers of my blog here is what b corp are all about, and if you wanna change the world check them out.


i have encouraged two businesses to join b corp so far, and hopefully by working this way we will encourage others as well.

one of the businesses that are joining b corp are my inspiration to open a coffee shop, which employs and trains homeless people, who i have spoken about before, the house of st barnabas, where my first born tiffany works, in between acting jobs.

we will be working with hosb, and this week i received a beautiful e-mail from them extolling the virtues of their recent graduation ceremony, and i really wanted to share it, it's long but hopefully you enjoy reading it.

Great achievements deserve a great celebration. Well this week we were brimming with pride and excitement for our participants, who celebrated their many successes with a graduation ceremony in our Chapel of St Barnabas. Over the past 12 weeks each participant has clocked up 80 hours of work experience in the club, working towards their City & Guilds Awards and developing essential skills, ready to move into work.

Graduates, their families and friends, mentors and Employment Academy supporters all came together for the ceremony, we heard about their experiences on the programme and the positive changes it has brought to their lives. 

One of our graduates, Denise, wrote a beautiful speech that she’d like to share. It tells her story, from the pages of her past to those exciting chapters yet to come…

 “Alan Jay Learner’s musical adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion My Fair Lady described the working classes passing through the thorough-fare of Soho Square as “dropping h’s everywhere”. Eliza Doolittle being the flower seller from Lisson Grove who is “condemned by every syllable she utters” her phonetics requiring tutoring to improve her life chances. This is to me was a magical tale that I watched on television during Christmas holidays sitting in my families G.L.C. flat in Shepherd’s Bush.  I would imagine being Eliza played by the elegant and beautiful Audrey Hepburn being taught how to be a lady so she could work in a flower shop.

My paternal grandmother Nell grew up slightly after the fictitious Eliza during the great depression years on Portland Road, Notting Hill that both Booth classified at the turn of the twentieth century as being from the “lowest class, vicious and semi criminal”.  Nell was illiterate, saw the good in everyone and used the word ‘garn’ as did Eliza to show astonishment with an almost identical West London accent.

If you wish hard enough and believe in your dreams then they will come true. With Lerner’s Song “Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak” singing in my head I first rang the oversized bell and met the inspiring HoSB.   St Barnabas being the patron saint of encouragement. Just as Eliza met her tutor on the streets of the West End I met mine. It was not a human being but a physical building with over three hundred years of stories unfolding from its walls, ceilings and floors.

My heart was full of hope, for me this was an opportunity just as important as Eliza’s, it was to help me help myself into employment.  After two decades of being just a mum, ill health, bad decisions and addiction, I wanted a purpose.  Just as for Eliza I no longer wanted to be a “prisoner of the gutter” but to better myself and earn a decent income for a hard days work, to feel part of society again, not excluded or ashamed.

When Eliza entered Professor Higgins’ house the fictitious 27a Wimple Street it was to change her life forever.  Half a mile away and over a century later, Soho Square has done the same for me.  Eliza squawked and fought Mrs Pearce (the housekeeper) as she was made to take a bath; Eliza having had never seen indoor sanitation or running water. It was indeed in this very house (the amazing House of St Barnabas) that Bazalgette invented the London sewer system.  I did not however require bathing!! But what I did need was confidence in myself.

Eliza had the gentle Captain Pickering who was so sure of her he was willing to pay for her tuition.  My Captain Pickering was a six foot tall football mad Liverpudlian who grew up in Thatchers 1980s Britain. His story was one I could relate too.  Indeed David O’Koro was my motivation and confidence maker.

It was with that out of the box thinking that I asked if I could be considered for work experience as a commis chef.  I had no nurturing as a child in the kitchen and for me this was a huge challenge and completely out of my comfort zone.  The kitchen is located in the basement of the building and has its own tradesman entrance. There are wooden panels on the walls, and the servants bell is still located above the door.

The magic behind good food was to be my elocution. In ten weeks our Head Chef Nick and his incredible team have shown me patience, belief in my own abilities and shared their own hard earned skills with me. I have met Hollywood A-listers, and been supported by members and staff alike.  I have been part of a professional photo-shoot to promote Benugo’s Christmas Sandwich will raise money for the Employment Academy so others can follow in my path and realise their potential and dreams.

I start working officially for Benugo as a commis chef this month and hope to spend many happy years here.  Just as Eliza I have had a happy ending. I am sure it is the end of one chapter and the glorious beginning of the next.”

these guys are my heroes and heroines, and i do need them, they inspire me, and hopefully as readers of this blog you feel the same way, and as we get our coffee shop inspired by hosb and the likes of denise, we will make real changes, and that is my dream.

keep inspiring fellow bigmoosers, they’ll try to stop us, but they won’t.

have an amazing week, don’t be afraid to love, and i’ll see ya next week,

blue skies,