Denise aka Dennis the Menace

Hi Dennis,

As I sit down to write this I realised I don’t think I’ve ever written anything for you before… I find that odd.

Anyway, unimportant because tomorrow is your birthday!!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDMA!!!

I thought I’d write you your letter for your birthday and then by the time I see you to celebrate on Wednesday evening we’ll both have forgotten about me being nice because we’re not really ever nice to each other like this, are we? It’s important to me that you do get a letter though and your birthday seemed a nice reason to write it.

Mate, I don’t even know where to start… perhaps at the beginning – I know you love ‘The Sound of Music’ as much as me and Maria said it’s a very good place to start sooo….

Sunday, September 3rd 2006 that was the day we met. Well, actually Tuesday, August 30th was the day we met because that was the day of my interview at MC and you were there but the Sunday was the first day we spoke (yes, I know I’m weird for remembering the day). I thought you were much older than me because of how you carried yourself and I remember everyone on that Sunday team telling me you were scary and I was like… what? Are you mad? She’s not scary!

And it’s true you’re not.

What you are though is a fantastic friend. Like, truly. I’ve spoken about it before with Diane – you are one of the best. Solid. You’re just great.

You are unwavering in your loyalty, you’re not hard work at all – you understand that people are weird and life is weird and don’t take offence if we don’t speak for a few weeks because I’ve spiralled into a hole of work and anxiety. You’re just there after to listen (with a cup of tea and biscuits, obvs) and give us a kick back in the right direction.

There was a couple of years ago when I was ill that you literally got me through the worst week. Calling me to make sure I was on my way to work, calling me to make sure I got to work, calling me after to make me come to your house so you could feed me and not letting me leave the table until I’d eaten half of what was on my plate after I’d confessed I’d gone about 3 days with no real food. You can’t buy friendship like that. I don’t know if I ever said thank you for it either, so thanks.

I also really respect that you don’t try to pretend to empathise with what I go through when I get ill but that you just try to understand and ask questions; anyone that has anxiety and depression will tell you it’s so hard to find people like that.

I love that you trust me to be in Charlie’s life. The older I get the more I understand how protective people need to be with who they let be around their children and you’ve let me be constantly in Bean’s. Which I’m glad for because I love that little bean. He’s a credit to you and Chris.

I love that you moved to the ghetto from the other ghetto (TH is BF, just be honest) to ten minutes away from me 😂 we’re not that bad here. Don’t go to the other side of the local shops though, that’s proper ghetto!

You’re the right balance of supportive and cautious. I have a lot of ideas that are great in theory but actually completely ridiculous in reality and you’re not scared to tell me that 👏🏼

You are that friend that says ‘we’ll just have one drink’ and then I leave your house at 4am, pissed with no door key and have to wake the house up to get in 🤷🏼‍♀️ oops. Or I end up throwing up everywhere (it was one time and I’m still embarrassed about it) … literally the worst drunk ever when I’m with you. I have my worst hangovers when I’ve been drinking with you 😂 Bad influence. Maybe this birthday I’ll get drunk and rap Eminem for you again.

You’re the best gym buddy because you know when we really need to work out and when to suggest we just sack it off and go for egg on toast at the local greasy spoon too. Balance is good for you. Obvs.

What is possibly my favourite thing about our friendship though is how much we laugh. At other people, each other, the world. I have never known anyone (and I mean ANYONE) to understand the quotes that I randomly slip into conversation… I miss working with you everyday purely for that 😂

Basically, I just wish everyone could have a friend like Dennis. They can’t actually have you though because you’re my friend.

So, Happy Birthday again. You’re great. Can’t wait for Cabaret on Wednesday. I’ll try not to sing too loudly in your ear.

See ya, pal! (please get that quote)

Micks.

• J- Ro •

Day 9 (I think)

JRo.

If anyone ever needs proof that opposites attract then they need look no further than us.

Honestly.

Even your Ma has commented on how different we are.

Our friendship just works though, and I’m so glad it does. I think we balance each other out.

You’re one of my most low maintenance friendships. We go months and months without any contact and then when we do chat, it’s like old times. Nothing’s changed.

I know that I can be hard work, and I know that I’m not always the easiest person for you to be friends with – sometimes our differences are glaringly obvious and that can cause some friction. I know, without you saying anything, that there have been times when you don’t know if you’re coming or going with me and for that I apologise. I want you to know that I’m glad you have stuck around though.

My first and original travel buddy – we’ve had some adventures! I love how keen you are to see the world and how educated on EVERYTHING you are. You are, without a doubt, my smartest friend.

Our adventures have taken us all over Europe and the US. The most glamorous moment of my life is still brushing my teeth in Walmart when we were RVing!! I’m so glad I got to do that with you by my side.

You have the kindest heart of anyone I know – you are my moral compass at times. Not a bad word to say about anyone (except maybe Trump), you lead with love and compassion.

Like me, you just want world peace.

I’m so glad I met you. I’m so glad I get to call you my friend.

I can’t wait to see you in May, give you a big ‘ole hug and make some more memories.

All the love, JRo. All the love

xoxo M

• Steph •

Stephanie Hall.

You Goddess.

When I try and describe my friends it’s always a hard thing to do because there are always so deliciously complex that to only use one word / one phrase would do them an injustice.

You are no different.

The best way I can describe you is this though – you’re the inner voice everyone should have.

You know how fuck boys always have a habit of coming back just as you’ve moved on? Well you always seem to have a habit of checking in just when I am about done with life and all it’s shit. How do you knoooow??? LITERALLY.

I still remember the first time I met you, just a couple of small town girls, living in a small town world (Big up Guildford). You and Gemma both got the job at Mothercare and told Diane that you didn’t know each other… then spent your first shift walking around the floor together. I remember saying to Huma “they’re obviously mates”. Didn’t hide it well, hun 😂

Then there was the jumper out the back (that was pretty traumatic) but you were just as nosy and me about it and I knew then you were just like me.

You were always down for a laugh and weren’t scared of making a fool of yourself for it and I LOVE THAT ABOUT YOU. This probably sounds rude but I’m gonna say it anyway – you wouldn’t expect someone so hot to be so funny. You’re bloody hilarious.

We’ve come along way from cleaning porches on a Sunday and being sung to by the homeless folk of Guildford (he was right, you are beautiful) and I’m so glad I’ve got to stand by the sidelines and watch you blossom into a kind hearted, successful, beautiful woman.

Instagram has such a filter on it and I know behind the happy grins and ‘carefree’ life on those squares there is a lot of hard work and effort that allows you to enjoy the best of what life has to offer. You deserve all of it and so much more.

You are such a force and I’m so glad I get to feel that in my world (sounded less dodgy in my head lol)

Keep on being you, because you are just wonderful.

I love you.

M xoxo

• Amy Jayne TayTay •

TayTay, you big slut.

Letter number 2.

Remember you told me last weekend I’m never nice to you unless I’m drunk? Well buckle up, sista. Here comes a whole lot of nice. And I’m sober. And publishing it. On a public platform. For the whole world to see. wait, maybe I am drunk?! (I’m definitely not)

First of all, let’s clear something up.

I think you are bloody fantastic. Ok, there, I said it. To be fair, I wouldn’t have kept you around this long if I didn’t think you were. I know I seem to pick up a whole manner of people (seriously, what is with that?) but only the best ones are allowed to stay. It’s been 10 years, you’re a lifer now.

You know I am completely backwards in that if you’re worth a dime to me I’ll call you all the names to your face and cut a bitch that talks down on you behind your back. I’m just backwards, ok?

I don’t even really know what else to say to be fair.

Like, I just think you’re great.

One of the most genuine and supportive people in my life. You always have a kind word to say about me (even if it’s followed by calling me a wench) and have been one of my biggest cheerleaders for about as long as I’ve known you. I really miss those car journeys to school placement – tell me you don’t miss my CD mixes! I’ve such great taste in music. Eclectic, but great (a couple of people from my past may disagree but whatayagonnadoaboutit?)

I feel very lucky (no I’m not lucky, I’m blessed YES – Nicki Minaj) to count you as one of my best pals – I think it was the wise Ellen Degenres that once said “it’s wonderful to be loved but it’s profound to be understood” and you understand me and all my weird ways. You just ‘get’ me.

One of the things I love most about you (other than your dog, God bless Fudge!), is that you are so unashamedly you. You don’t ask anyone to like you, you just are you and that’s something I have long admired and a trait I so wish I possessed!

You are loyal, you are so kind, compassionate and empathetic, passionate, protective… when you become a Mama they will be one lucky chicken – just remember James promised to name it after me if it’s a girl. 💃🏼

Speaking of James… what a guy. My favourite farmer who’s not really a farmer, ever! I love how happy he makes you. To be asked to write something to be read at your wedding was a privilege in itself but then when you asked me to read it… brave move – after all you did warn your friends about me before I met them 😂🙈. Not sure where I got this reputation from to be fair, I’m a proper treat!

Seriously though, I was completely honoured and I’m so pleased you trusted me enough to do it. I’m also so pleased to have been able to choose 2 of your wedding songs. I might not believe in love but I know a good love song when I hear it.

I’m going to wrap this up now because I think I’m just rambling a bit but yea, you’re pretty great. Don’t goooo changing.

See ya in Croatia.

Love you for life.

xoxo M

P.S my favourite, favourite thing is that you get jealous when you’re friends talk to me / ask me to hang out and you’re not involved

“but Kala is MY friend” 😂😂

• Lisa •

Dear Liseeeee,

Linda Lash, Lisa, Liza… I never know which name to call you because normally I just call you rude names 😉

I don’t even really know where to begin. I guess, Happy Birthday to your boy?!

Nicholas Brian Lashaway! 31 years ago you birthed that force of nature. What a treat. I hope today isn’t too hard for you, I hope that you are able to laugh at what a tit he could be amongst the sadness. Also, remember I’m forever judging you for never having made him sit down and watch ‘Mary Poppins’ 😂

I guess I should move on to saying the nice things now, ay? You know me, I’m a bit awkward and so very British about this kind of stuff. Show emotion, me? Say what!

I’m only good at being nice when I’m drunk normally… however I will do my best now.

Lisa,

Lisa,

Lisa.

What a woman.

Someone who I admire for being a hippy at heart (like me) but also for not taking any shit from anyone (a skill I’m still learning)

Maker of one of the best margaritas ever – at this point I’m convinced your mama (Queen) taught you all how to do this because your sisters make killer ones too.

An essential skill if you ask me.

My very first memory of you is our holiday in one of my favourite places in the world – Valencia. When I left there in 2010 I left a peice of my heart there so it was so special that I got to go back there with you, Soph and Jade in 2012. It was like going home for me and I was so proud to show off my city (yes, it’s my city in my head).

I remember being sat on the couch in the apartment the morning after we got there and you walked in the room and farted and then said good morning everyone. Sophie assured me that meant you liked me because you wouldn’t have felt comfortable enough to do that if you didn’t!

Add that to me realising we both loved peanut m&ms and men with good arms on that trip – I knew you were a good egg.

Over the years we’ve had sooooo many amazing trips/ visits together – let us never forget the delicious man candy in Naples, singing ‘Don’t stop believing’ on the drive from Boston to the Cape, introducing you to Honest Burger in London, crying with laughter at the Book of Mormon (we definitely should have bought a fuck frog).

I also have to mention that amazing family of yours… I know I tell you all the time how much I love them! All 750 of them, who are also now my family regardless of whether they want to be or not 😂 Surely its time for another reunion? It’s been 6 years since the last one! I’m definitely overdue for a dance party with my best friend Ben, gal pal Rachel and Princess Charlotte!

My favourite times though are us sitting in the man cave swiping left and right on Tinder, eating donuts Mark made me drive to Hollywood to get, watching Catfish (Nev has great teeth) and drinking whilst fighting over the pups.

You are hilarious (another trait we share – obvs). You make me laugh so much and are so supportive of everything I do even when it makes no sense. You’re great at reminding me that whatever happens is all part of the journey. We all need a friend that does that.

When Nick passed… I can’t even begin to fathom what you went through, and continue to go through daily. The way that you carry yourself through your grief and continue to live life is truly inspiring. I know there are days when the grief feels too much to bear but you do it because you are you. The Lisa we all know and love doesn’t let it beat her… hero.

Amongst your own grief you’ve managed to provide comfort to someone else in my life who has experienced this type of loss… having never met them and you did it without being asked to. It means so much to ME that you did that, let alone them.

I’m so blessed to know you (I really hate when people say ‘blessed’ but I feel like it’s the only appropriate word).

I’m so proud to have you in my corner. I’m so grateful that Jade chose me to be her friend because without that little cherry blossom I’d not have met you, nor Nick.

You are so fetch.

You big shitbag.

Love you! See you in May

xoxo Michaeleee

people need other people.

it’s 10pm on a wednesday night and here i am, just a while in from having dinner with someone very special and i’m sat in bed crying.

why you ask? or maybe you didn’t but either way you’re finding out.

the reason i’m crying is because i have just finished reading Bryony Gordon’s book ‘Mad Girl’. the book is Bryony sharing her story, her mental health story.

some of the parallels in our illnesses are scary but it made me realise that we, Bryony and I, are the lucky ones. we had people around us, both at home and at work, that cared. that care. that care enough to not give up on us when our demons get too much, that don’t run the other way saying ‘fuck this shit, you’re on your own’ but stand next to us, gently guiding us saying ‘you’ve got this’.

tonight when i was at dinner my friend told me about a colleague she had who had passed away recently, this colleague had struggled with his mental health (his death was unrelated to any mental health illnesses) in the past which eventually led to him leaving his position – by all accounts the management were not very supportive of the days out he needed to take.

(please note, needed is accurate. when you’re depressed you can’t simply say to depression ‘oh well today isn’t a very good day for me to be depressed, i’ve lots on. can you come back tomorrow?’ depression, in case you didn’t know, is a bit of an inconsiderate bastard).

at his funeral she learnt how much having that job meant to him. she said she never realised the impact their day to day jokes and interactions had on him, and on his life.

i’m crying because i realised that i was lucky, i was lucky that back in september i had someone who was able to notice i was poorly before i did – Momma Sophs, you recognised i was ill before i did, before anyone did. i don’t know how but thank you.

i was lucky that, when i was stood on a train platform a couple of weeks later listening to the voices in my head telling me to give up and that me dying would be for the benefit of everyone, that it would be better than the constant battle in my head, i had diane on the end of the phone telling me not to listen to the voice in my head that was telling me that. that it was lying to me.

i was lucky i had my sister to call and make the doctors appointment when i was too ill to myself.

i was lucky i had denise calling me every few hours just to check in, telling me to come to her house after work so she could feed me and let me get some of these thoughts out my head and feelings off my chest.

i had my boss – who i was super nervous to tell i was poorly because, well i was embarrassed, i was embarrassed of being ill again and of how bad it had gotten and what it might make him think of me – tell me that it was a tricky illness but that he knew i was more than capable. he understood why i text him to tell him and didn’t call and then spent time with me on the phone the next day trying to understand the illness, what it looked like for me and help me figure out what my triggers were.

now i have my new boss who was, as well, brilliant when he found out – as i’m still recovering i thought it wise to tell him and it came up very organically in conversation so i was comfortable telling him. parts of our conversation went like this…

me – i don’t run around screaming at everyone that i’m mad but it makes sense you should know.

him – you’re not mad because you’ve got depression…. you just need to make sure you tell me how you’re feeling, keep me in the loop.

(that’s what i needed to hear from him. it was a big weight off these shoulders, i tell ya. also, nb, i often tell people i’m ‘mad’ because i think i’m being funny and most people feel more comfortable when you joke about serious stuff)

i had steph, who always seems to message me at just the right time, who always makes me feel like a better human than i am.

i guess, the short version (i’ve never been very good at getting straight to the point), is that i was crying because i was grateful.

i was grateful for this year and for these people (and many more not listed here). i was grateful for the days when i thought i wouldn’t make it to the next one because, if nothing else, i’ve learnt the human spirit is made of strong bloody stuff.

2017 is the year i realised that i didn’t have to keep all my problems to myself. it was the year i learnt who my friends really were. i learnt i don’t have to keep my cards so close to my chest. i might be a burden sometimes, but then aren’t we all? the ones that think i’m worth it will stay. for the good and bad.

i learnt people need other people.

we really do.

people need other people.

and there’s nothing wrong with that. nothing at all.

xoxo M

p.s if you want to try to understand mental health illnesses and how they make you feel and think please read Bryony’s book. she words it so well, much better than i ever could.

feeling the love

oh hey.

it’s 6am in LA. I can’t sleep. so y’all are getting a post (2 in as many days #sorrynotsorry)

so, quick background on where i’m staying and who i’m staying with.

one of my best friends from university (hey, Jade) is from LA. Her mom (Momma Sophs) dad (Wilf) and god mom (Lisa) all live together in a beautiful house (her dad did a beaut of a job on it, he’s so talented). I’m staying with / visiting them. Jade isn’t here- she lives in Finland with her fella. My Irish pal is here too, though. I know, I know… it’s complicated.

i’ve know Jade for 9 years nearly, and her folks for maybe 6/7 of those. They have all known me during my struggles with depression and anxiety, they housed me for a summer so Jade and I could road trip west coast >> east, they housed me this January  when I had my breakdown over going to Australia or not. 

they know me well.

they know not to talk to me in the morning because I’m grumpy. They know I’m pretty laid back about most things – one of the reasons Jades mom likes to travel with me. They know I can be a sarcastic little shite. They know I’m obsessed with music; if I’m not listening to it, I’m reading about it. If I’m not reading about it, I’m singing. 

when I come here to visit it feels like a home from home. I feel so relaxed, there’s no pretense, no bullshit. 

they remind me that friends really are the family we choose for ourselves. I think to myself on every trip how did I luck out and meet Jade and then gain an extra family? a family that is genuinely concerned for my wellbeing.

yesterday morning I was in the kitchen and Momma Sophs and I had this conversation 

S “Oh I’m glad you’re here by yourself, I wanted to talk to you alone”

M “ok, whats up?”

S “are you ok, sweetie? You’re not feeling anxious, your depression hasn’t come back?”

M “no, I’m ok at the moment. Maybe a bit anxious with work but I’m fine”

S ” ok good, I just wanted to check because you’ve been really quiet this whole trip and I was really worried”

DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY AND LOVED I FELT WALKING AWAY FROM THAT CONVERSATION? 

Having conversations like that with anyone that has a history of mental illness is so, SO important. 

Knowing someone is looking out for you… priceless. 

This email from the universe is true 

I’m feeling the love 

Xoxo micks