•dear my little sophia•

oh my little Sophia. happy, happy birthday to you. i cant gift you nice things in person and we can’t get tipsy and dance on the high street but i can write you your letter to let you know how important and special you are to me. so here we go.

Dear Sophie, (or Sophia as i have called you since forever ago)

please forgive me for taking so long to write this letter to you. you really should have been one of the first but for some reason i couldn’t write it. each time i sat down to write to you i couldn’t find the words. charge that to my head and not my heart.

i still remember the first time we met… this shy teenager turning up to a group interview at mothercare (rip). denise was adamant on hiring you… i thought you were too quiet… she told me to remember how shy i had been at the beginning and how I had blossomed… so we hired you and i’m really bloody glad we did!

(disclaimer: she definitely didn’t say i blossomed, i’m sure it was more along the lines of ‘now you don’t shut up’ … oops)

it’s been about 8 years since we met and i honestly say that my life is infinitely better for the Sophie shaped addition to my life. i don’t’ remember when we went from boss/employee to pals; it kinda feels like we’ve always been like this. i can not imagine my life without you now. who would have thought that little one would become so very important to me? you are the little sister i never had and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

you (and leanne, hi leanna, yes, i love you too) are one of my favourite people in the world and i’m not sure i tell you enough. your friendship is unconditional; you just let me be the weirdo i am deep down and you never make me feel ‘less than’ for any of my flaws – you do of course take the piss out of them at the appropriate time which is all part of the privilege of being a best friend.

you have been by my side through the biggest transitions and heartbreaks in my life and given me some of the best advice. if there is ever a dilemma, i always come to you because you give me advice that always hits home. you always give me food for thought; you’re supportive but you’re also not afraid to tell me if i’m being a bit of a dick. we ALL need people like that in our lives! i hope that i have been able to provide that to you too. in the times you didn’t know what to say you told me just that but didn’t ignore the pain i was feeling. you just let it sit with us like an unwanted dinner guest until i’d had enough of it and got the strength to finally tell it to fuck off. that’s not an easy thing to do or deal with, so thank you.

one of the things i admire the most about you is your bravery. yes, you my little cherub are brave. you feel the fear but you do it anyway. i so wish i possessed that trait. your life is going to be so much better because of this; know that i will always be on the sidelines cheering you on. oh the places you’re going to go! i cant wait.

now i have started this letter i’m kind of finding it hard to stop writing but i will because it’s now verging on an eassy but I just have to say 2 more things i love about our friendship.

  1. that no matter how much time has passed we just pick straight up where we left off’ there is no hard feelings that it’s been 75 days since our last catch up. it just it what it is.
  2. how much we laugh. normally we’re embarrassing Leanne – remember Disney. HAH.

you are a ball of loveliness and you’ve got me forever.

i love you, squirt

xoxo M

 

 

• when this is over •

well saturday nights sure look different don’t they? or i’d imagine they do for most; mine are basically the same as they always were because i hate people and try to avoid them at all costs in a normal world, let alone a covid-19 world.

how are we all doing then? i won’t lie i’m semi surprised i haven’t gone completely insane. i never spend this much time with my family but i’m coping well. i think part of it is knowing i’m actually lucky to be isolating with people; i know some who are completely alone and really struggling with it. there’s no amount of facetime that can help. actually, whilst we’re on the subject of video calls can we all just agree that we’re going to stop sharing the photos of our zoom calls? no one cares anymore… ok fine, i don’t care anymore. it’s been 3 weeks and i’m over them. thanks

the initial novelty of isolating has worn off now hasn’t it? at the beginning i feel like we were all super motivated. the instagram posts of workouts and baking were frequent, everyone not working from home was excited to be able to day drink 7 days a week. netflix marathons were things to be proud of. 3 weeks in everyone (at least those i’ve spoken to) has hit a wall. they’re over their new fitness regime, they don’t want to day drink all week anymore, – yes there are people like that in the world – they would rather eat cereal out the packet than bake anything else. (side note: is it just me that can’t believe how fast the time is going?)

i’ve been keeping myself busy with work mon-fri and then making lists for the weekend to try and stay productive. the bonus of this is also that if i’m ticking things off my list and being productive it means i’m not eating everything i lay my beady eyes on. honestly, it’s an issue. i’m one cheese mini away from putting one of those signs in my fridge that say “you’re not hungry, you’re bored. close the fucking door”

another perk is staying productive helps manage the anxiety, worry and fear that creeps up around this situation. the longer this goes on the more i’m seeing people talk and post about the effect this is taking mentally on them. staying productive gives me something to focus on, albeit just short term but once one task is done it’s on to the next and then before you know it it’s bedtime. it helps.

something else that has also helped is making sure i stay connected with people outside of my house in ways that aren’t just over text. i’ve never quite appreciated the value in hearing someone’s voice in a phone call, or seeing their face in a photo. video calls are also sanity savers (but remember we’re not posting pics of these anymore, go team). this thursday just gone we had a work social over zoom, we all brought a glass and did a pub quiz. it was the first time i’d laughed like that since before lockdown.

something i’ve started doing this week though (inspired by dolly alderton and pandora sykes) is make a list of all the stuff i’m going to do when we get to go back into the real world. this is something that is getting me through the sleepless nights and moments of panic. i encourage you all to do it. honestly, it will make you feel a million times better. see mine below…

• run around to my sisters to hug my nephew SO TIGHT and then spend the day playing whatever games he wants to play/ watching whatever he wants to watch and secretly feed him cookies

• take a trip to the seaside to visit my best friend and 2 godchildren. squeeze them all, multiple times. laugh with them. lots.

• go to the gym with Denise

• spend the whole time at the gym with Denise complaining that we’re at the gym

• make the executive decision with Denise that a summer bod is overrated and go and have a massive fry up instead

• celebrate my little Sophia’s birthday and allow her and Leanna to get me a bit drunk

• book a flight, to anywhere

• get my hair and nails done!

• go to nandos (spicy rice come to meeee)

• go to the theatre

• have a sleepover at Byng’s house (she doesn’t know this yet) with her and Amy. say nice things about them to their actual faces

• visit Kew Gardens and enjoy being outside with people instead of getting pissed off with them

honestly, this is just a handful of things i’m looking forward to. there are so many more things i want to do, other important people i want to hug and never let go of and things i haven’t thought of yet but adding to this list fills me with such joy.

i can’t wait to do all this and more. before i go back to being the people hating (but secretly people loving) person you all have come to know.

nothing lasts forever, this won’t either. we can do this.

sending all the love to wherever you are,

xoxo M

• Mrs Howman •

Alright loser,

this letter was meant to be for your birthday but i’m just proper shit. So now it’s just for a random January day 😂

not sure if you’ve seen me writing these letters to people. go to letter one to find out why… I’ll wait…

back with me? ok, fantastic.

so.

what is there to say about you, Mrs Howman? as our fave Julie Andrews would say “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

to be fair i don’t have the most memories of us growing up… the main ones are from the legendary xmas eve church visits – still buzzing i got to put Jesus in the manager one year.

the older we’ve got, the closer we’ve got and i’m really very pleased that it’s turned out that way. we’re both the youngest of our siblings and to be honest, the best ones. our parents knew they’d never get better hence why they stopped when they did.

in all seriousness though, what a woman.

these last few years have been so, so tough for you but yet, here you are. living and shit. i know there have been days when the pain has been unbearable. you have quite literally survived the worse thing in the world to happen to any parent and you still made it out the other side. you deserve only happiness now.

amongst your own pain you’ve still provided me with a shoulder to lean on and a couple of ears to vent to. it’s funny because i’ve never been particularly great at chatting face fo face about the bad stuff but i know with you there’s no judgement, so it becomes easier. you see behind the “yes, all good” facade that i’ve put on at family gatherings and always sought me out after to say “alright bitch, what’s really going on”. it’s important to have someone like that within your family. so thanks for being mine.

my wish for you now and forever is that you are kind to yourself and that you recognise how incredible you are. you are so much stronger than you have ever given yourself credit for. i also hope you remember you’re allowed to feel what you feel. even if others don’t understand.

the world is so much better with you in it.

you shhhllaaaagg

love you!

xoxo M

Dear Mothercare

Dear Mothercare,

 

 

Well, this is certainly a letter that I never expected to write.

 

As the doors of the final stores close this weekend I felt compelled to write a letter to thank a business, a family; that gave me so much. I’m heartbroken that this is how it ended for the best business I have ever worked for.

 

It is the most bizarre thing in the world to me that that big ‘m’ will no longer be on our high street; to some it is just another casualty of retail but to me, and anyone who ever worked there, it is so much more. It is the loss of a place that we all called home. Even after you left, it never left you. The skills and knowledge that you gained whilst working there is something that could not be gained anywhere else.

 

My journey with Mothercare started when I was just turned 17. My interview was on a Wednesday. Wednesday 30th August 2006. Don’t ask me why I remember that date so well – maybe deep down I just always knew it was going to be a big part of my life, who knows. I was just looking for a part time job for a year or two to see me through until I went and got ‘a proper job’. I remember it was a group interview, couldn’t tell you how many other people were there, I remember the people assessing the group (Diane, Nicola, Cassie, Emily and Denise) and that there was definitely almost too many assessors for the amount of people being interviewed. One of the tasks we had to do was make new uniform out of carriers and other random shit in a group. Who knows what the f they were assessing through that but apparently I passed it and got the phone call on Friday 1st September to say I had the job and could I start on Sunday 3rd. (I said yes in case you didn’t get where this was going).

 

Over the years I worked in a lot of stores, some just for the day or week, some for longer. Some as a Customer Service Advisor, some as a VM, some as a Customer Service Supervisor, Assistant Manager, Deputy Store Manager, Store Manager, Dual site Store Manager. This business shaped me into the manager I am today.

 

I worked for some amazing managers (and some not so good) over my years there. I learnt a lot from them all. Some good things and some not so good; in a way I almost feel like the lessons from the bad managers were more important than the lessons from the good ones.

 

I have to shout out the best ones.

 

Diane Dalby and Paula Trevaskis; one that got me in to the business and the other gave the CSA a shot at something bigger and didn’t let me leave even when I moved away to university.

 

My fave, Mr. Colin Keefe – the first RM to make me believe I could run bigger stores, with bigger teams and turnovers. You never doubted me, even when I was ill. Or if you did you didn’t tell me. King of the one-word text messages. Thank you for taking me back without question after I thought I was going to run away to Australia because the world had kicked my ass that year. I could write you your own letter with all the thanks I owe you.

 

And then there is Mr. Shutlar. Tom. I still miss working for you and it’s been about 18 months since I called you boss. The team in Brixton used to call you my work husband. Another one that trusted me with more. Thank you for always having my back. It was probably a good thing we left when we did because if one more person told me you’d said something nice about me I’d not have been able to get out the door. Your support through everything was always appreciated in case I never told you.

 

I covered some miles at Mothercare. I worked all over the South of England. All the stores I remember working in are

Crawley, Horsham (ELC and MC), Redhill, Brighton, Worthing, Canterbury, Watford, Guildford, Aldershot, Camberley, Canterbury, Bracknell, Brixton, Croydon (in town), Croydon (Out of town), Tunbridge Wells, Bluewater (ELC and MC), Chichester (ELC and MC), Eastbourne (MC and ELC, in town and OOT), Sutton, Maidstone, Peterborough, Hounslow, Basingstoke ELC, Poole, Southampton… there are probably more but man, you get the idea of the distance covered.

 

I worked store openings, store closures, refits, baby shows… all of it was hard work but so much bloody fun. There was so many times I would listen to my friends moan about their jobs and I would wonder if it was normal for someone to enjoy their job as much as me.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were days when it was bad, days when the expectation felt too high. I remember once, when I was a CSS, we had such a bad visit with the Regional Manager I cried. The reason I always got up and dusted myself off the next day, the reason we all did, was because we felt that we were making a difference. That what we did mattered. That sense of purpose was essential and made us all give a shit about what we were doing. It gave us a reason to put a smile on our face and come to work, even when our personal lives were falling apart. Our customers needed us. To help them navigate the scariest (but most rewarding) times of their lives was an honour.

 

We did it for them.

 

The couple that was clueless but so excited to take this next step together. The couple that had an unplanned surprise but decided to go for it. The couple that had spent the cost of a small home on IVF and had finally got lucky. The single mums (and dads) that had never planned to be single parents but had had no choice but to carry on. The ones that thought they knew everything and then realised actually there was more to this than meets the eye. The dads that had to run out to get the stuff they had forgotten because baby had come early “how do I know which breast pads are best?!”. The ones celebrating their rainbow babies. Scared but hopeful. We were next to them every step of the way.

 

Watching these people grow their families was an honour, and being a part of it was so special. When they came back to show off baby and you got to have a cuddle, when they came back to see you specifically for baby number 2 because you’d been so helpful with baby number 1; “I’ve been looking for you!!!”

 

Selfishly, one of the things that makes me saddest is that I’ll never be able to shop there myself. If I’m ever lucky enough to have babies of my own I’ll never experience an Expectant Parent Event, or get to visit to choose my car seat or pick my nursery furniture. Select a ‘coming home’ outfit for baby.

 

I’m going to shut this down now because I’m rambling and most people have probably turned off. Simply put, thank you Mothercare. For absolutely everything. You gave this girl a career, you made her believe in herself. You gave her some of the best times of her life. You connected her with some of the best people ever, some of whom I’m still lucky enough to call friends.

 

There are some heartbreaks you never get over, and this is always going to be one of them for me.

 

To everyone that is still there, closing their store doors for the last time, I’m sending you virtual hugs and so much love. You all fought until the end. You should be incredibly proud of that.

 

 

Mothercare UK, 1961-2020

You’ll be missed.

 

xoxo M

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.

• Dorentina •

Day 11.

Hello.

Dorentina, Queen Dora … it’s your turn for a letter.

I mean, I said a lot of nice things about you in your card but I also figured that if I didn’t write you a letter then you’d probably cut me so here it is (I’m joking… kind of)

I have worked with many people over the years and I can truly say, you’re one of a kind.

Take that as you wish 😉

Can you believe it’s been 4 weeks since I saw your face? FOUR WEEKS. Honestly… time is flying.

The thing I miss about our old work is the people… I laughed at someone / something every day. Every single day when I worked with you. I miss that. I also miss the M&S apple crumble and custard dates we used to have. I haven’t had one since I left because I feel like if I do, I’m cheating on you 😂

Anyway, to keep it short and sweet. I think you’re bloody fantastic. And pretty, let’s not forget pretty. Considering you thought I was rude when you first met me, I don’t think this turned out too badly, do you?

Thanks for being my wing woman when we worked together, and gracing me with that Big Dick energy. Knowing I had someone that had my back in that place was so reassuring. I hope you know I always had yours too.

I hope if you learnt one thing from working with me it was to trust yourself more, you’re a good manager – dedicated, loyal, you get the job done and encourage others to come along with you (unless it was Ben, he didn’t have a choice, he had to come whether he wanted to or not 😂) Always happy to let the team have their fun so long as the job got done – I know I don’t have to tell you how important that is.

You special – and I mean that in a nice way, not a sarcastic way (for once)

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you because I know it will be exciting and a great story to listen to. Let’s hang out soon.

Missing you and your big dick energy, errrryday.

Xoxo Mik

• Mummy Cheese •

Mummy Cheese.

You’re my day 10.

1. I miss you

2. I love you

3. I miss you

Please come back to me.

One of the BEST things to come out of my time at Mothercare. Swear down. I miss calling you after conference calls on a Tuesday to have a chat and occasionally advise you on what to do when a pigeon gets stuck in the shop (RIP Clive).

I got the good vibes from you the first time I met you. Region 9 (I think) meeting in Maidstone. You were the new kid and you walked in with your backpack and I was like “she’s my people, she likes backpacks!!” (honestly, I know, I’m weird)

Since then you’ve just gone up even further in my estimations.

You’re such a support to me, you help me cut through all the noise and remind me to pick the weeds from my garden (so to speak). You say the things I need to hear, even when I’m not really ready to hear or accept them. You just keep saying it until it sinks in and I go ‘you were right’ and you smile and say ‘I know’.

I know that you always have my back. Please know I always have yours.

We have the same (excellent) taste in music and I always looked forward to the conferences/ xmas parties / leaving do’s because I knew we would be on the same team asking the DJ for a bit of Dizzee or old garage chooons.

You love of a good pun is the cherry on top of the cake.

You are beautiful, inside and out, and can rock that Pixie cut in a way that no one else can. You have no idea how jealous that makes me.

I love how much you love your new job.

I love that they are recognising your greatness. You deserve it. I feel like you’ve found your place there and it’s so amazing to hear about and see.

My only issue is that it means we aren’t working together. Please can we work together again?! Some day in the future? Purleeeeaseeee.

Love you, Rachel.

Thanks for being my pal.

xoxo M