• 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.

• 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

• 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

• Byng •

Day 7.

My Byngalyng.

I adore you.

That’s all.

No, I’m just messing with you, but I do. I really do.

You are, most probably, the funniest person I know and you have definitely taught me how important it is to be able to laugh at yourself and how much more fun life is when you laugh your way through it. Any afternoon spent with you is an ab workout. Everyone needs a friend like Byng!! (They can’t actually have you though because you’re mine and I don’t like to share too much)

One of the most genuine, kind hearted people I know. I’m so glad you’re my friend. So supportive and so easy to get along with. I do not know anyone that has a bad word to say about you. We all know I’m a bit like marmite – people either love me or hate me, but you, you’re like chocolate. EVERYONE LOVES YOU.

Always up for an adventure, be it to Norfolk or LA. Some of my favourite memories over the last decade are with you and because of you.

Shout out to that time walking down Venice Beach –

“You in the black! The sun is not your friend”

What a dick.

Thanks for sticking around.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years look like.

Love you, peanut cup

M xoxo

• Momma Sophs •

Letter number 5 (which is a day late) is for my American Mom.

Momma Sophs,

I don’t know if there are even any words to say what I want to you.

I aim to surround myself with fierce females who I look up to, aspire to be like and you are definitely one of them… what a woman!!!

You are one of the most generous people I have ever met, period. You’re generous with everything but your time and your love

are the ones I love most! You wear your heart on your sleeve and there is quite literally nothing that you won’t do for someone you love. How lucky am I that I get to count myself as one of those people!?

I probably don’t say it enough but I love

you too. So much.

I remember talking to you on the phone when I was still at Uni with Jade and you invited me to stay with you in LA – obviously I was thrilled because, you know me, any excuse to get on a plane. The 2 week invitation slowly became a 3 month invitation and the Summer of 2013 you welcomed me with open arms and through the years you made Rincon Ave. a safe place for me. When I have a panic attack I often find myself thinking of your home because it really is such a safe space for me. It calms me down.

Thank you for that.

I also have some more thanks come to think of it.

Thank you for knowing me a bit better than I know myself.

Thank you for noticing changes in me, in my mental health before I’ve even noticed them and thank you for not being to scared to say something to me about your concerns. Not a lot of people do/would.

Thank you for reminding me it’s ok to change me my mind about everything from what pants I’m wearing to whether or not I want to move across the world on my own.

Thank you for never judging me and giving me a safe space to completely be myself.

Thank you for making the best lasagne in the world and for always freezing some so I can take some home with me.

Thank you for always trying to remember that I hate people talking to me for the first 10 minutes after I wake up 😂 You rarely remember until I grunt a response at you but to do try haha.

Thank you for being part of some of my favourite moments in my life – every time I hear ‘Happy’ by Pharrell I think about us in the apartment in Naples ♥️

Thank you for always insisting that we see each other at least once a year.

“I really like it”.

Love you!

Can’t wait to see you in May

♥️♥️♥️ Your Michaela baby!!

• Mark •

Hey, pal.

Day 4. Here’s your letter.

I was going to be a little bitch and make you wait for ages for it but then I was feeling sentimental and changed my mind.

Aaaah, where to start?

Mr Derry Dude.

The Will to my Grace, the Ant to my Dec, the Clive to my Dolores.

Congratulations on making it to ‘friend’ status after being an acquaintance for the last 9 years. Clap for the heavyweight champ 👏🏼

God bless Kingston university and the Big Brother house on Grove Crescent for bringing us together. I miss living with you so bad, we had such fun. I mean… at the age of 21 we were still building forts and sliding down the stairs on mattresses. The house was a shit hole anyway really so it didn’t really matter if we messed it up more. Shit digs. Fucking brilliant memories.

When I think of some of the stuff we have got up to over the years together… I hate myself for not filming it… quality viewing. Although thinking about it, I’m not sure anyone but us would find it amusing. How many times have we been sat there cracking up at stuff and everyone else was looking at us like we’re high?!

Our adventures have taken us to many places. (The adventures of Dolores and Clive).

LA (more times than I can count now), strutting up 5th avenue in NYC, meeting prisoners in Alcatraz, dance parties at the Cape, booty popping to Queen B 🐝 in Dublin, visiting my boys in Liverpool…and then some.

I remember when I bought you your ticket to LA back in 2014 (?). You were so used to flying shitty planes to Europe and to and from London that you were convinced those seats weren’t for us 😂 Like Jack Dawson going to dinner in first class in Titanic. You peasant.

Some of the best memories though are of us just navigating our way around life in London fresh out of Uni. Paddy’s day 2012 in Derry was up there too. Me with Ginger hair (remember that phase in my life?), Irish flag wrapped around me, dancing alone in a club. Such a treat.

I can say, hand on heart, that no one in this world (except my Mum, maybe) makes me laugh as much or as hard as you do. Most of the time it’s at you doing impressions of me, or you taking the hand out of something I said but I still laugh none the less. In fact, being friends with you has taught me to laugh at myself if nothing else!

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though… we’ve seen each other through everything. Even across the ocean that separates your little island from mine. New jobs, new men, old jobs, old men, heartbreaks and 808s, death and depression (well this just took a turn 😂)…

Now you’re a week and a bit away from flying across the world to start a new adventure without me. In case I don’t say it when I see you. I’m so proud of you. I hope that you find everything you want in Canada. You deserve everything good it has to offer. It makes me sad that you’ll be so far away but I’m so excited for this next chapter of yours. Return of Saturn, baby!

I’ve never told you before but growing up I always wished I had a brother; as you know, my brother was stillborn and growing up I always wished it was different and he was here because I always wanted a brother. I always wondered what it would be like. I feel like I wished it into existence because 20 years later the universe gave me you. Now you’re stuck with me for life. SUCKER.

Well this has gone on long enough and if I don’t stop now I think I might have to turn this into a book so I’m going to stop now.

Acquaintance of the year? Nah, man. Acquaintance of my life.

See you in less than 48 hours for the last hurrah (until LA in June, obvs)

your pal

xo

• Diane Alice Lorraine •

Day 3. Letter 3.

Diane Alice (Lorraine) Dalby.

Well, this is an odd one to write because although I know you know how much you mean to me, I don’t think I’ve actually ever told you. What a dick.

If you’d have asked 17 year old me if my first ever manager would become one of the most important people in my life I’d have probably told you to fuck off but somehow it happened.

To think I hated you when we first met properly.

I remember leaving the interview at Mothercare and saying to my mum on the phone “I really hope I get that job” and then you called me 3 days later to offer me the job. Little did I know that I was signing up for 12 years of fun (there was a lot shit too but I choose to only remember the fun).

Then you fucked off to another store for a few months, came back and I hated you.

I remember being sat in the staff room on those god awful brown chairs opposite the white board and you asked me about my shifts… I thought “who’s this? She’s never here and she’s asking ME about MY shifts” Bit big for my boots really. The team always blame you for turning me into a monster but I think it was always there, you just bought it to the surface.

Slowly though, I realised you’re actually alright, a bit mad, but alright. This one’s a keeper. You took a chance on me and gave me my career. One that I actually love (we all know you have to love retail to work in it long term).

I don’t remember when you moved from boss to friend, it just feels like it’s always been that way now. It’s been nearly 13 years. I’m still waiting for my medal for putting up with you, Duncan did promise me one?!

Little known fact about you: you are pretty much the reason I’m alive now. I know that sounds dramatic but you’ve seen me through 3 depressive episodes and, unknown to some, the last one I was suicidal. You talked me down from that train platform, from afar. Without you on the end of the phone when I was stood on that platform I definitely wouldn’t be here. I literally owe you my life. I’m so glad you did that because I actually love my life and I wasn’t ready to die. I was just so ill I couldn’t remember that. You made me remember.

So cheers for that. Nice one.

Life coach. Therapist. Advice giver. Belly laugh inducer. You literally tick all the boxes of what it means to be a bloody brilliant friend. You’ve never tried to change me, ever. You just accepted me for the weirdo I am and honestly you probably know me better than anyone else in my life so that’s saying something.

You have played such an important part in my finding my voice and navigating this weird world and helping me realise that no one ever has it all figured out. I even like that you don’t always agree with me (you always point out when I’m wrong, not that it happens much, obvs 😉)

I don’t think there will ever be enough thank you’s really.

I’m so glad you’re off having your adventures with Dunc now, even if it means I don’t know when I’ll see you next. Though I do know that I can’t wait for the stories because there are bound to be some fucking brilliant ones 😂

I’m not sure anything will ever top the story of Andrea on the roof though!

Adventure is out there.

Love you, Dalby.

Mickey D’s xoxox