Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….




I started the New Year on a high.

Reeling and spinning wildly to an Irish folk band with my friends, when midnight struck, I thought ‘What am amazing start to the year!  Surely only good things can follow a night like this!’

Then the rain came.

Then Christmas was over.

The decorations come down.

Then reality bites.

I’m almost broke, still unemployed, still nuts, and have so, so very much to do.

And much of it is out of my hands.  How I hate been beholden to or having to rely on anyone else.

So I made like a very grey squirrel and hibernated under the duvet as the storms ripped and swirled and howled outside my bedroom window.

So today is essentially the first day of my 2014 and dawned when I was rudely awakened by the postman trying to deliver me a parcel.  Even I was too shamefaced to start the year answering the door to him all crusty eyed and apologetic AGAIN.

Déjà vu much?

But I’m up and about and starting to do good stuff for myself whilst waiting for the rain to stop and my group therapy to start.  Like drinking more water.  Cutting down on sugar (as much as a wannabe baker can).  Making tentative social plans for the week.  Making plans for the year over all.

As whilst 2013 didn’t kick my butt down the stairs, it did very politely escort me to the elevator and press ‘B’ for basement as far as helping me achieve my aims was concerned.

But there was stuff I needed to see down there and I’m guessing I needed to go a bit further back, just so’s I can get a good run up when leaping forward into 2014 😉

Besides, good things came from 2013, without a doubt.

And whilst I do have some New Years Resolutions to keep front of mind this year, I’m not going to bore the tits off you lot with all of them.  I’ll find other ways of letting you know how I progress in life. 🙂

But here are a couple that might resonate with some of you:

  • Not swear like a foul mouthed chav/football support/navvy all the time
  • Treat my body more like a temple and less like a graffiti covered, piss streaked bus stop in Peckham (whoops, did it again, gosh darn it!)


  • Start one thing and finish it before embarking on something else. That should stop me disappearing into cyber space for hours on end when I’m meant to be working.
  • Practice yoga.  If it leads into a career path great, if not, I still benefit.  NO PRESSURE.
  • Workwise, stop fannying around (arghh!) doing things in a half hearted manner.  If I’m going to act, I owe it to myself to make some kind of commitment, get some good photos done, build a portfolio and treat it like a business as opposed to a hobby.
  • Focus my energy on things that count and move ME forward, and not rant about Piers Morgan/Gordon Ramsay, get caught up in reality TV, or spend days commenting on and sticking up for people like Nigella Lawson who is fabulous, but has/had a great legal team and, let’s face it, doesn’t even know that I exist.
  • Eat uncooked jelly/jello as it’s meant to be good for the nails and mine are like paper.
  • Groom my cats everyday and then they’ll vomit up fewer hairballs and I won’t walk out of the door looking like a yeti every day.


  • And finally and most importantly, work hard to conquer the fear.  After all, what’s the worst that will happen?

Don’t even think about answering that one!

After all I may be a cat lovin’, pill popping, fear filled freak, but one things for sure, I sure ain’t no pussy….

Happy 2014 one and all!


SS x

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We in the UK are apparently in the midst of what is being dubbed as a ‘Siberian Spring’ and have at least a week of snow ahead of us.

Outside the snowflakes that are swirling in the wind are tiny, but they seem persistent and set in for the day, so I estimate that by tomorrow morning, we should be looking out at a blanket of snow on the ground.

There is even talk of a white Easter and everyone is up in arms, bemoaning Britain and it’s shitty, unpredictable weather.

Not I.

This to me is perfect writing weather.  It’s snug in here; the fire is crackling, the radio is chattering away merrily, cats are dozing on cushions, and there are two ripe bananas in the fruit bowl which have Banana Bread written all over them.

Whilst my fellow Londoners are hanging out for a bit of warmth and sunshine, I say, Let It Snow, Let It Show, Let It Snow!

Ironically I hate being cold, but if you dress correctly and have a warm home to come back to, the most you will suffer is a chilled face and ice cold nose, and the blast of warm air when you open your front door is delightfully welcoming.  Unless you are a bit of parsimonious with your heating of course, in which case I wouldn’t visit you anyway ;-).

If I could be the White Witch of West Dulwich, I would make it so the snow would fall, lay (instead of staying for 24 hours then melting) and set in for a good month without turning to slush so that we could enjoy it properly instead of having to trudge around in wet, grey sleet once a month or so, because despite all of the moaning, people are usually bright and cheerful when out in the White Stuff.  They even smile and say ‘Hi!’ in here London, can you imagine?!  They don’t even do that in the Summer, so that says a lot I think. Kids and dogs love playing in it, and Dads love taking them out sledging and late at night, when everyone is in bed, even the roughest neighbourhood looks like something from a fairy story.

And of course it’s the perfect excuse to make love infused, heartwarming comfort food like casseroles, pies and puddings that stick to the ribs and fill a kitchen with warmth and good smells and a body with an even warmer heart.

Unlike Jadis the White Witch of Narnia, I would of course allow and revel in Christmas.  There wouldn’t be police brutality because all of the human animals (a lot of ’em around these parts) would have to behave themselves and get along.  There would be turkish delight for whoever wants it (Belgium chocolate enrobed naturally) and I would wish, welcome and long for the arrival of Aslan like everyone else.

There are, however, a couple of eensie weensie things I’d like to retain from the original Snow Queen.  Her looks for a start; perhaps also her height and her outfits are a-maz-ing!  That chariot also would be essential for snowy weather, and to have wolves as servants would be kind of cool?

Finally, the power to turn certain people to stone would be essential, how else could I protect my people?  😉

Then after at least a month (actually make it two), I would allow Spring to return, bid farewell to my subjects and go hide somewhere lest my pallid skin burn in the sunshine. It would get far too hot for my wolves anyway.

Back in the boring real world, I have no magic, this is still London, and I’d better get my pale, skinny white ass moving and get on with my aims and resolutions before the entire year is lost in a daydream.

In the meantime, Aslan, if you are listening and there is a job for a new White Witch going in Narnia, I’m strong, can be appear imperious, have survived several wars to date and am fair, just, kind and compassionate so would be perfect for the role.  And it goes without saying, I love animals!

I’ve just updated my CV, so if you can let me have your address (or send an eagle or something) I’ll have it ready for your perusal.

And if none of this impresses you, let’s face it, I couldn’t be as bad as the last one could I?




Scrape, scrape, scrape…

It’s early. I raise my head from the pillow and squint.

Dexter, you git.

I flail to the other side of the bed and wave my arms futilely in the general direction of the noise/destruction.

‘No Dex, naughty, no, no…..NO, stoppit!’

I hear loud, satisfied purring, and something soft and fluffy grazes my fingertips.

Little shit.

The scratching stops. I fall back on the pillows and seek further solace in the merry old land of Nod and just as I almost get to the end of that pillow brick road….

Scrape, scrape, purr, scrape, purr, scrape, PURR, PURR….


I slide inevitably from bed to floor, stumble to my feet, and stagger after the perky, self satisfied little brat to the kitchen, fill two bowls with cat food then head off back to bed.

Crunch, crunch, crunch….

That should keep them occupied for a little while.

Sleep don’t come easy, boy please believe me…

And breathe…

Nearly there, three or four more downy soft, floaty steps at most….


Chirrup! Purr…

Another feline visitor; a furry skull pushes at my hand with surprising force. I pat it. Smooth not fluffy.


I groan. I know what’s coming.

I bathe every day unless I’m really ill, but that doesn’t cut it with little Chaz. Ignoring my noises of protest, he firmly, thoroughly, and meticulously wipes his chops all over me, teeth grazing my skin, giving me an occaisional nip lest I even think to escape, liberally and thoroughly coating me with cat spit.

After about 15 minutes of these tender mercies, I am awake and spitty, and Charlie, satisfied, plonks himself onto my (full) bladder, circles a few times then settles down for a recuperative nap. Dex, tummy now full, assured that I am now totally beyond sleep, hops up and joins him.

Just another morning Chez Sertraline.




You might wonder what someone does with his or her time after being off work for nearly a year?  I myself decided to focus on both the creative and practical and patch up my home whilst patching up my heart, body and soul.

Over the course of this time I’ve had walls re-plastered, a wood stove installed, I’ve painted throughout, thrown out tons of space stealing rubbish, and can now finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

Only the flooring left to do.

My current natural flooring has been down for ten years, but apart from one big red wine incident (which totally killed a night of passion with a certain someone, but that’s another story) it only really got its arse kicked in the last four. Why is that you might ask?

Like everything else in my little domicile, my carpet met it’s match in the form of two very cute, very hyper tomcats.

It’s not just the scratches that ruined it, but litter prints, drinks being knocked over and my favourite, vomit stains, a result of either hairballs or ‘scarf and barf’ behaviour as they both bolt down their food at the speed of light, whilst casting anxious glances at one another just in case one finishes first and steals from the other. And it’s not that I underfeed them; both are burly to the point of being biffers and I have to work hard to ensure that they don’t end up the approximate size and shape of a rugby ball.

But this isn’t the reason for my ire.  I stopped caring long ago about their leaving their mark on stuff.  From the moment they arrived as tiny kittens, I knew it would be this way and recognised that the mess would be infinitely worse if I had two human male teenagers so accept this as par for the course.  I just need to replace it now with something pretty much bullet proof, which leads me onto my pet hate.

What really totally infuriates me are tradesmen who assume that I am fucking stupid because I have a vagina.

I cannot and do not levy this accusation at all tradesmen; I had a charming plasterer who worked like a Trojan in one of the hottest weeks of 2012, and did extras for me (not those kind, thank you) at a very reasonable price and in return I plied him with sandwiches, home made cake and tea, which satisfied my ‘feeder’ habit whilst making him a very happy boy indeed.  So it was a win/win situation, the desired outcome to any business transaction, right?

But there are some, including flooring man, that on that first meeting, the minute you open the door, you can almost see the pound signs in their eyes, when they behold a middle aged woman in a nicely decorated home, with a nice car with an obvious liking and a willingness to pay for nice things.

What they are too dumb to work out is that women my age were teenagers in the punk era, lived though the AIDS virus, and were brought up during Thatcher’s Britain (and either fought against her or were as ruthless as her), so are not to be trifled with.

All the tradesmen that have ever worked for me have asked what I do for a living (again trying to ascertain what I can afford) and I am always honest about this in the hope that it would make them realise that I am relatively bright and business savvy given my background in marketing, sales and negotiation.  And I want them to be honest.  I really want them to be honest, because I’m cynical enough without yet another wanker thinking that I can’t use a calculator/surf the internet/do research, trying to rip me off.

But the ones with the glint in their  eye always let me down and try it on.  This then causes me to become enraged, fall to my knees, throw my head back and release my inner Kraken, which then tears them limb from limb.

I usually start by taking their quote, and pull it to pieces, making them explain and justify every single element.  The guy who sold me my stove (who called himself a ‘Director’ – hah! He could barely grow a beard…) used to hide from me and wouldn’t take my calls because he didn’t know the answers to the technical questions and it was his company!  And he assumed I was stupid?!

If they are dumb enough to pull a figure out of the air and pretend there is some science behind it, then they are my favourites.  I had one double glazing guy sit with a caculator, tapping away, chewing his pen looking all studious, and after 15 minutes he handed me a single figure. When I asked him to work backwards and show me how he came up with it, his face was a picture.  Cue more tapping, more chewing, his tea going cold as he toiled,  beads of sweat forming on his brow as he desperately tried to make up something that made sense (math is a particularly unforgiving bitch, ain’t she?), until out of sheer desperation, he feigned an ‘urgent’ call from the office and made good his escape. This still makes me smile even now.

The next thing I do is to focus on those mysterious little costs that don’t make sense but that some women just sign off and pay just because they are to argue.

The wood stove guys for instance, wanted to charge me about £50 for, what amounted to lighting  a ‘special’ candle to test whether smoke was traveling up the chimney and coming out of the pot.  I. Think.  Not.  I told them where to stick that, and it wasn’t up my flue, rest assured.

And now we come to the flooring guy.

The flooring guy thinks I don’t know how much floor space I occupy and has added on an additional 20 metres for his quote.  He thinks I am a stranger to the retractable tape measure.

He also wants to charge me £200 for lifting the old carpet out and taking it away.  I could do that, with the help of the council for about £20.

He also wants to charge me double the price that Homebase charge for hard boarding.  WTF?

I’m quite breathless with rage.

Whilst ripping him a new arsehole with my teeth would be hugely therapeutic and totally justified, I believe this to be against the law, so I’ve revised his quote, attached background information to justify all the changes and sent it back to him.

He now claims that the extra flooring is so there won’t be a join but what he doesn’t know is that another high end company has sent me a quote that validates my calculation to a T.  He also doesn’t want me to pull up my own carpets because they are grippers and underlay to deal with and I may find this ‘tricky’.

I’d like to give him tricky with one of those nail studded mothas, but I’m afraid I might scratch my little girly handy with it.

Lying, patronising weasel.

The most dignified course of action and the biggest punishment I can dole out is to take my business elsewhere which is what I’m going to do.  I’m not even going to dignify his email with a reply.

Stupid man. His greed has just lost him a job.

I do get that tradesmen have to put a margin on some things in order to make a living, but boys, please, do not take the piss or I will make mince meat out of you.

You might also remember that my vets told me that Dexter had something wrong with him and needs a scan? And that they just so happen to have new scanning equipment on site for such eventualities and wanted to book him in for £120 a pop?

I have since asked the owner for something in writing stating that he definitely has this condition and informed him that I will be getting a second opinion to back this up.  He promptly shat himself, and called me saying that we could keep Dex under observation for now.

When I took the boys in for their inoculations, he was there, simpering and groveling, saying how pretty they were and offering to reduce the cost of their treatment that day.  He also gave me discount vouchers for posh cat food and his card just in case I needed any further help/advice.  It’s almost amusing; does he honestly think a couple of cheap packs of Science Plan will make me forget that he has seemingly tried to use my love for my pet to try and scare me in to parting with big chunk of wonga?  My cats, along with my family and friends, are my life, and if it transpires that he did frighten me for nothing in order to leech money from me, balls will break and heads will roll.

Tradesmen and women who practice this way; hear this.  There are worse things than losing a job. There is word of mouth.  There is being reported.  There is ‘Rogue Traders’.  There is crossing me.

To my big bloated, sad sack of a vet, your twitchiness had better be down to shell shock, too much coke, or something other than being busted as I PITY the fool who is dumb enough to come between a peri menopausal, depressive, almost broke bitch and her cat.

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Kittens - 54

Dexter is lying on the rug in a patch of sunlight, his soft, dappled tummy soaking up the rays.

I am lying on the sofa as usual, feeling tired, muzzy, dyspeptic.  My back aches and I am cranky.

As the sunlight shifts, so does Dex, inching along in its wake in a series of little, snake like wiggles, ensuring that every inch of his furry body stays in its blaze.

After a while, I slide off the sofa and join him, hooking my legs over the seat so that my back relaxes into the floor.

Dex looks at me as if to say ‘What on earth are you doing?’

I slowly reach out my hand to tickle his tummy.  He moves back half a centimetre so that he is just out of reach.


Shifting slightly, I try again.  This time I connect  and savour his softness, vulnerability and warmth.  Before a minute is up, he lashes out playfully with his back legs and pushes my fingers away with his paws, claws still sheathed.

I keep my fingers on the pads and wait for the rebuff.  To both our surprise, it doesn’t happen.

He purrs.  I close my eyes.

Warm rough paws, connection, soft back, hot sun, cool feet.

I breathe fully, deeply.

Crazy black clouds skitter by the window, tree branches flail in the wind, the threat of rain imminent, but in our world there is only heat and light, and for the first time in days, I feel something akin to happiness.