As far as out-of-body experiences go, finding oneself in a therapy session with one’s son examining the forceful use of the words ‘c**t’ and ‘w****r’ is right up there with the trippiest. Almost exactly two incredibly testing years later I find myself in the ballroom of the Grosvenor Hotel in London air-kissing Claudia Winkleman and accepting a publishing award.
The Grosvenor was the venue for the annual Professional Publishing Association Awards and the great and the good of magazine publishing were represented; Grazia, Elle, Radio Times, Slimming World, Top Gear, Country Life and GQ amongst many others.
I’m told my writing is sometimes challenging and emotive, sometimes ‘searingly honest’ and sometimes quite funny. To me it’s none of those things – it’s the best approximation I can come to of my life as a parent of two adopted and traumatised children (which is a long way from Country Life).
My pieces are published by Community Care, the online trade magazine of the social work and social care sector, who don’t baulk at my ‘searing honesty’ and who encourage those who work in, or who otherwise engage with social care to have a voice. Community Care has been nothing but supportive of my writing and my involvement in the campaign to get better support for children who have suffered the worst start in life. They gave me my first paid work as an occasional blogger, before the first and second book contracts came along. On Thursday night we gathered and filled half a table and had the best time together.
The award is sitting on the windowsill which overlooks my desk, as a reminder that the starry night at the PPA awards was not a bizarre daydream, anymore than the trippy therapy session was. It is also evidence that online publishing and social media have made it possible for me and others to write about real, hard, shitty, glorious experiences (and injustices) without being filtered or pressured to ice the shit brownie. (I could write at length about the democratisation of news, but that’s for another day.)
For now all that’s left to say is thank you. Thank you Rob for being at home with two children who can’t bear their mother being away. Thank you to my sister for looking after J on Thursday when he couldn’t handle going to school. And thank you to Community Care particularly Camilla, Ruth, Andy and Claire for being super-supportive.