In December 2016 I was contacted via Twitter by a TV producer asking if I’d like to take part in a brand new social experiment called Mind The Age Gap; a new prime time Channel 5 show looking into the publics perception and opinion of pressing current matters. Much like Big Brother meets Gogglebox meets Love Island, the concept is to put twelve strangers divided by age into a house far away from familiar routine, friends, family and the outside world to see how they fare with topical debates and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of controversy.
Prior to being approved for the show I was asked for my opinion on politics, feminism, immigration and the benefits system as a young-ish *cough*29*cough* working single mother in the public eye with over 2.2million social media followers. I’ve been single-ish for almost four years, started my modelling career at the age of 18 and spent the first couple of decades of my life being bullied, criticised and treated like a doormat as I had little self esteem or self worth. Since becoming a single parent I’ve found an incredible sense of inner peace and determination and have developed a thick skin as I no longer concern myself with the opinions of strangers because I realise you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I’d rather be hated for who I am instead of being loved for what I’m not.
Fortunately being a geeky tomboy has had its perks as I gained a good education at school and college I’ve since gone on to further my qualifications and became a personal trainer in the summer of 2016 for which I’m now bodybuilding for my first bikini contest in April 2017 because I believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m finally ready to become the best I can physically be in order to match heart, mind and soul. Taking part in Mind The Age Gap was a big decision for me to make and one that I didn’t consider lightly as not only would I be living with potentially antagonistic strangers but I’ll also have to be cut off from my children and ability to work. Since the age of 19 when I became a young mother I’ve only ever spent a long weekend away from my children, so I think spending half a month away from them is going to totally cripple me emotionally and I don’t know how I’ll handle it – will I cry my eyes out or feel relieved of my many responsibilities? I’ve never been afraid of hard work and testing situations as I got my first job at the age of fourteen and have worked, studied and raised my children alone ever since and I think we should all attempt to conquer the things that scare us in life which is why I’m leaping out of my comfort zone into the unknown.
Despite being a mother I’m also a woman and I think it’s important to hold onto my identity, have hobbies and live within the same rules of society that other 29yr olds enjoy as life certainly doesn’t stop when you start having kids. My world revolves around my children but the older they get -Millisent is 9yrs old and Gabriele is 4yrs old- the more freedom I’m beginning to experience as they are both at full time school now and can spend afternoons every now and then at the weekend with their grandparents which gives me little snippets of free time to go on adventures. When dating I’ve always put my children first because I look at a potential partner in two different lights, who would suit me best and who would be best for my children, unsurprisingly I’ve yet to meet a man who can do both let alone one. To start with I was very hurt and disheartened when my 6yr engagement ended after my son was born and I was left to pick up the pieces. Without digging too deep my ex partner decided he didn’t want the responsibility of a family and decided to leave but we remain good friends and in hindsight it was the best thing he could have done rather than staying and being stressed out or unhappy. I’d been in a serious relationship my entire adult life since my late teens and adjusting to life as a single working mother was very hard at first because I felt guilty being away from my children when I was at work yet knew that I couldn’t support them financially if I stayed at home on benefits and the breadline. I want to give my children everything I never had growing up yet we lead a humble lifestyle and appreciate everything I’ve worked hard for.
Having studied psychology, philosophy, sociology and business I’m well accustomed to seeing situations from both perspectives, the pros and cons, middle ground and thinking outside of the box because I believe in understanding all of the facts before passing judgement. I’m far from perfect and on subjects I know little about I’m open to the removal of my ignorance but if pushed for an opinion I say what I see without looking to please or offend – I don’t come with a filter! I hold my hands up if and when I’m wrong and I’m not afraid to take criticism when it’s rightly due, I just dislike people who thrive on being a know-it-all, have a big ego or need constant attention and seek dispute. I know that I have no control over how I am edited, the footage that is broadcast or how the public perceive my opinions which I’m sure will be taken out of context on many occasions but that’s all part of the fun. I’m quite a talker and debater and can chat away until the cows come home but with television being to a deadline and only short, punchy snippets making it to air from days and days worth of footage I know how easy it is to not hear the whole side of an argument which can totally twist what really happened but I’m prepared for that. I’m not a deliberately confrontational person yet I hold my own in an argument and I hate to see people belittled, bullied or made to feel uncomfortable because my mothering instinct comes out and I instantly want to protect the weak and vulnerable even if I don’t know them – unless they start on me of course then I’ll hold them to account! It really gets to me when lazy people deliberately use and abuse the system and those around them for their personal gain – there’s a difference between needy and in-need.
When asked about my opinion of topical debates whilst filming at my house I was more than happy to chat away for hours on end and didn’t hold back on my language. Yes I’m a mother but I’m also an adult and if something annoys me then I’ll vent my frustration, my language can be quite colourful at times but it’s hardly the crime of the century. I guess what I’m trying to say is I am who I am and people will either love me or hate me for it but it’s their prerogative not mine. I’ll briefly address my opinions about the subjects I was asked to discuss at home just incase it doesn’t make the cut or should there be any confusion on where I stand.
Whatever country you visit in the world I think you’ll be hard pushed to find a true-blooded citizen as generation after generation is mixed with different cultures and ethnicities which is watered down with time. Both of my parents were born in England, as was I and my two children, yet one of my grandfathers was born in Hungary and two of my Grandmothers in Ireland whilst my other grandfather was born in England. Does this make me English? What in fact defines English? Location of birth, citizenship or cultural habits? I see myself as an English woman because I was born here and have lived here all of my life but I know that my ancestry reaches far and wide beyond the few generations of my family that I have encountered and I’m sure that’s the same for everyone on this planet. Therefore I can’t justify watching men, women and children in war torn countries struggling to survive, find food, healthcare or an education being turned away from the security and opportunities we take for granted in England. Just because I was born here doesn’t make my life any more important or valuable than the millions of other people anywhere else in the world who are in need.
My heart goes out to those who flee their homes and leave behind everything they’ve ever known in the hope of leading a normal life away from fear and squalid conditions. Yet with everything in life the few can tarnish the reputation of the many and for those looking for a free ride and to abuse the system the British tax payers frustratingly foot the bill. There’s heated debate over illegal immigrants taking all of the jobs and causing a surge in unemployment, yet surely it’s best for the economy for employers to hire hard-working individuals who are reliable and suitably skilled and you can’t be disappointed over a job you didn’t get if your C.V isn’t up to scratch. Work harder, search harder and gain those extra qualifications to become as attractive as possible to a current or potential employer because the world doesn’t owe you anything and you’ll only get back what you’re willing to put in regardless of where you’re born.
Illegal immigration is certainly a cause for concern but it’s not something that the country can seem to control as you have to question how much money can be spent on policing, measuring and processing an unstoppable force. There’s just too much coastline to secure, transport links to search and trafficking rings established for which several new ones spring up as soon as one is eventually shut down. The way forward as I see it is in enforcing employment laws and raising penalties for illegal immigrants found working within Britain because if an employer if heavily fined or threatened with time in prison for not having the correct paperwork in place for their staff they’re less likely to risk hiring illegal immigrants in the first place. But if illegal immigrants are unable to find employment, can’t apply for benefits and have no money then they’re likely to end up either sleeping on the streets or stealing and committing crimes in order to survive. If they’re caught and sent back to where they came from then what’s to stop them from returning if they got here before? It’s an endless battle for which there are no true winners but something certainly needs to be done. Those who deserve help seldom get it because of the hundreds of thousands in the queue pushing ahead of them and those who abuse the system live like King’s and tell all of their friends and family how to rip off the system and do the same and it snowballs out of control in the blink of an eye.
How do we help others when so many of our own are already homeless and poverty-stricken? You could throw the argument back and forth all day but at the core of it all you have to have a heart and realise we’re all human and have rights regardless of where we were born or where we choose, or are forced, to live.
I’m a firm believer of equal rights as I feel that every individual should be treated with respect, decency and kindness regardless of age, race, gender, religion or whatever box or label that you can use to group or divide people. Studying history at school I was horrified to learn of the Holocaust, slave trade and plight of the Suffragettes amongst wars and worldwide atrocities and wrong-doings. In 2017 I like to think that the human race has grown compassionate and finally opened its eyes to the ignorance that once thwarted society as we are far more culturally diverse and socially accepting than ever before, especially towards equal rights for women.
When presented with the word feminism I instantly feel annoyed because the image that springs to mind is angry modern-day women playing the victim. I don’t know why I feel this way, and it’s probably ignorance on my behalf, but it offends me and I want to shout “Stop playing the female card!” because I feel that women in general avoid certain employments, social situations and lifestyles because of their gender when they have no reason to – we’re just as capable as men. I don’t want to tar every woman with the same brush but it’s frustrating as a hard working single mother tackling the world head on when I see other women moaning about not being able to catch spiders, not being able to lift a box of paper at the office or getting distressed at being expected to do something that they don’t deem suitable simply because of their gender. Equal pay for women infuriates me, women being attention seeking, prissy princesses makes my blood boil and girls at school piling on layer upon layer of makeup and daydreaming of marrying a footballer and being a kept woman for life makes me want to headbutt a brick wall. Just because you have tits doesn’t mean you can’t use your brain! Just because you’re slim doesn’t mean you can’t carry your own suitcase out of a taxi. Just because you’re in heels doesn’t mean you can’t stand up on the train to let a pensioner sit down!
If somebody feels that they’re being treated unfairly because of their gender then they should speak out, don’t play the victim just so that you can bitch and moan about it. If an employer pays a woman less than a man doing the very same job then name and shame the employer and ultimately don’t work for them, don’t support their business and don’t accept such ignorance. But if you’re being paid less because you’re actually doing less then you have absolutely no right to say it’s because of your gender or skin colour or age or whatever the hell else that you want to blame it on because you are responsible for you and equality has nothing to do with capability. No doubt thousands of suffragettes lost their homes, families, employment and even lives over fighting tirelessly for our right to vote through organised protests, but that was then and this is now, I’m incredibly thankful that their voice was heard, that we’re free, equal and now live equally. Don’t fall into a stereotype of being the weaker sex, if you want it then earn it and you’ll own it, women are just as capable as men in all walks of life and I wouldn’t be raising a family, studying and bodybuilding if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe that.
Likewise if I’m wolf whistled in the street I don’t take offence or feel disgusted by it because it’s nice to be appreciated – whether it’s for brains or beauty appreciation is appreciation and one day it’ll be gone anyway and I’ll no doubt miss it when I’m a wrinkly old mess so why can’t I enjoy wearing tight clothes and dressing with a cleavage? If I dress in clothes I’m comfortable in, go to the gym frequently to look and feel good and walk with my head held high then what’s the harm in being complimented? It’s not as if I’m indecently exposing myself in wearing leggings and a sports bra because if men can walk down the street with their shirts off in the sun then what harm is there in me exposing my ribs with a crop top or having an ample bust? Everybody handles their emotions differently and whilst one man may wolf whistle in the street another may deliver a hand tied bouquet of red roses to your door but they both mean the same thing ‘I like you’ they just have different ways and means of showing it. If somebody looks admirable to the other sex then they should accept the attention they are given – flattery comes in many forms.
Being a young working mother from the age of 19 I was totally unaware of my right to receive benefits, I had just two weeks of unpaid maternity leave after giving birth to my daughter before returning to work evenings and weekends, studying and raising my daughter alone. In time I was given some help by the government, but very reluctantly, and later discovered that I had been entitled to a whole lot more but never knew, which I put down to lazy scammers knowing how to stay at home, milk the system and cause staff to deter people from being informed of what they’re entitled to. I was raised in a hard working family who taught me to work to pay my own way and taxes, ask nothing of others and never burden the government. I’ve never been in debt, never lived beyond my means and when I left home at the age of 21 it was the norm for me to live on the breadline, base my working hours around my daughter often taking her along for a shift or picking up extra hours when she started preschool before I began working from home as a blogger when I had my second child at the age of 25.
The thought of sitting at home all day watching TV literally makes me want to shoot myself. I couldn’t imagine a more mind-numbing and pointlessly tragic waste of life. And considering I’d never been able to afford a Sky TV package or luxuries such as takeaways, holidays, frequent nights out or sweets and treats on the weekly shop I never understood how non-working single parents or unemployed families could ever be financially better off than somebody who had a job – but in many cases they are and it’s entirely fucked up! You shouldn’t be rewarded for doing nothing – ever! I believe if people can work then they should work, they should want to earn an honest days money, provide for their own family and live their life to the full rather than rotting away in a stagnant prison of idleness, farts and discarded braincells as they sleep all day and have no purpose or drive to progress. It fills me with such positivity to study, learn, understand and experience all that the world has to offer and you can’t get so much as an ounce of that by sitting on your arse expecting life to hand it to you on a plate. I appreciate everything I’ve worked to afford, my children are grateful, skilful, respectful souls who strive for achievement and dream of becoming Veterinarians and craftsmen rather than Jeremy Kyle rejects. It makes my blood boil to think that I spend time away from my children to pay my bills and my taxes just so that selfless others can go through life bleeding the system dry and knocking out baby after baby in order to get a free life. The benefits system is entirely unfair, has far too many loop-holes and needs a complete overhaul to ensure that only those who truly need it are properly supported and all of the lazy bastards and scammers are made to get off their arse, have a wash and get an education to ensure that they find a job.
I have a very bleak view of politics after learning about propaganda as a bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed student. I realised how corrupt the world is, how bent police, politicians and even priests can be and how it’s human nature for others to thrive on greed. Far too often those in power turn a blind eye to their responsibilities through laziness or simply for self-gain rather than seeking and upholding justice for all. People literally sell their souls for financial gain even when faced with the knowledge that others may die because of their actions. Arguments, murders and entire wars are caused because of singleminded powerful people with a lack of compassion or communication. Regardless of who is in the driving seat of the political train the policies seemingly remain eerily the same to me, yes we’re given the right to vote and decide on a prime minister but they’re merely the dancing monkey who keeps us all entertained, attends media engagements and waves a listless fist when demanding votes in exchange for another empty promise to save the NHS which has yet to happen. I don’t watch soap operas because I have no interest in watching depressing storylines and pointless drivel, nor does the prospect of following the mud-slinging puppet-dance of politics interest me when my taxes will still continue to rise year on year and the cost of living is never kind to my single-income bank balance regardless of who’s in the driving seat of the country – the rich will always step on the poor.
I’m not saying that all politicians and people in power are corrupt because I’m sure there are those who genuinely care and want to make a real positive change and difference to this world. But we all know that nice guys finish last and there’s so much red tape, political correctness and equal rights that we’re losing our traditions, our beliefs and our personalities whilst being bent over a barrel and spoon fed a load of shit by mind-bogglingly conflicting political parties and shock random deaths and unprovoked murders of those who actually speak out. Who is to say who is right, who knows best or who will actually be allowed to follow through with their pledges? I’ve never voted in my life because I never believed in the justice of politics enough to ever want to waste my time. If I don’t know everything there is to know about each political party involved in order to justify my vote then I wouldn’t want to be pressurised into voting for the most popular messing up or counteracting the outcome for those who truly understand who is best to lead. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, regionally, generationally, culturally and however else you can divide people, one rule will never work for all. I don’t doubt that it’s a very difficult and important role for all involved but I respectfully make it none of my business because regardless of what happens I’ll still have to work my arse off. God, that was depressing!
I have just a few days left before I leave for filming for which I’ve been told I’ll be in a mansion in Bristol cut off from the world. I’ve been asked to pack non-branded clothes and informed that any unsuitable personal possessions and medication will be confiscated. Off to Primark it is then to stock up on vest tops and socks! How on earth am I going to survive two weeks without a vibrator!?
February 2017 – Post Mind The Age Gap – I’m Freeeeeee!
What an absolutely crazy two weeks that was! I literally packed enough clothes to emigrate to the other side of the world and oddly enough the weather conditions indoors were the same and I hardly wore any clothes because the heating was constantly piping hot and I literally wanted to peel off my skin to get cool and breathe! I never have the heating on at home firstly because it dries my throat and skin out, makes it impossible to do anything without sweating and stops me from sleeping at night and secondly because it’s a waste of money – if you’re cold then put a jumper on, we’re in England not the Artic Circle. So I’ve just spent the past 14 days living in a beautiful mansion in Bristol with eleven complete strangers and I really didn’t know what to expect. In television you always find characters, some heart warming and others complete fame hungry morons that make you want to smash your head against a brick wall. Considering I’m not allowed to talk about the events that happened until it airs in May I think it’s easier to give an overall round-up of my experience in the house and then comment day by day with an update once each episode goes out.
Where to begin? I guess the fear of the unknown is a pretty crazy thing. Prior to taking part I had to visit a psychiatrist to make sure that I’m sound of mind and capable of living under such alien conditions which thankfully I was given the all clear for. She asked me questions about depression and sadness and how I deal with bullies and trolls and I laughed and smiled throughout as I have acquired a thick skin and light-hearted sense of humour over the years. I’m a survivor of life rather than the victim I was when I was younger and she commended me on my strength as I sat in my gym gear sipping a cup of boiled water opposite her at her desk, checking my phone routinely for messages about my children and keeping an eye out for the last train home. I always wondered how exotic people are allowed onto TV shows, those who scream and shout, are violent or drink heavily, smoke like a chimney or use recreational drugs. I knew the experiment would be a detox from my hectic daily life, stripping away everything I know, love and feel secure about and being utterly exposed and thrown into testing situations and tasks; but I believe you should never fear anything in life so I was more than ready for it.
Sleeping in my hotel room the night before going into the house I was greeted by the production team, security and staff who searched all of my belongings and checked for any contraband. I had a baseball cap taken from me because of the stitched NY logo, a sports bra removed because it advertised a brand and a metal nail file from my purse confiscated incase I used it to injure somebody. After having my knickers turned inside out and my medication checked and listed I was allowed to go to sleep at around 11pm which was a task in itself because I’m so used to going to bed far earlier with my children at 7-8pm each night in order to be up first thing in the morning to start my day of childcare, training and working around the small window of school hours.
The next morning my phone, purse and medication (iron liquid for my anaemia and pre-workout supplements) were taken from me and I arrived at the train station ready to take a cab to the mansion; balls deep and entirely cut off from the world. Fast forward to my experience so as not to give away any gossip on the housemates I encountered and I found every part of my life thrown into chaos. I’m naturally a very light sleeper and lay in bed alone and naked in pitch black darkness with my windows wide open for breeze from the cold night air, yet because I had to share a room I had no choice but to put on pyjamas and sleep beside a bloody heater whilst people partied loudly into the early hours of the morning and kept me awake which was not only physically uncomfortable to sweat so much whilst in bed but extremely draining because of the sleep deprivation and lack of any routine or concept of time.
There were no clocks in the house to know what time it was and as a result I soon lost track of hours and days and weeks as the experiment drove on. I always woke up early no matter how late I finally got to sleep and each morning I’d be up with the older housemates reading newspapers, sewing and doing yoga to pass the time until the younger housemates woke up around lunchtime – I think!? I constantly ate, cooked and washed dishes between workouts and hangovers which I’m sure were far more frequent than they should have been. In day to day life I’m rarely around people my own age as single parenthood has turned me into a hermit somewhat and I’m either with my children or working rather than socialising or partying, even at weekends because I rarely have childcare so two weeks child-free was totally alien to me and I found myself at a loss for things to do because I’ve never not had immense responsibilities. No work, no purpose!
I’ve never been away from my children for so long since the day I became a mother at the age of nineteen. Fortunately my parents came to stay at my house in relays in order to take the children to school and stand in for my duties and I really thought that I’d be crippled without seeing my family because they mean so much to me, they’re my entire world. To start with it felt incredibly alien to not hear little voices calling “Mum, mum, mummy!” constantly and I felt out of sorts to have nothing to do, but then it actually became a relief to be away from the stress and responsibility of being a single working parent and I didn’t realise how much I needed it as a detox on life. In my daily routine I’m forever juggling tasks, fretting over time, racing around at a million miles per hour and always playing catchup on work and responsibilities – it’s true what they say, a mothers work is never done. Yet in the house I didn’t have to be a mother anymore, I didn’t have to wipe noses, make dinners or help with homework and chase bedtimes, I could just be myself, think only about myself and totally shirk the stresses of real life. I just had to realise who I was as a person rather than being a mother for once which was so strange.
Within a few days it began to sink in that my time was finally my own and the great responsibility that was placed on my shoulders when I became a young mother was lifted. It feels wrong to say I was relieved because I wouldn’t change my family for the world and I don’t find it a chore to be a single parent because it’s all I’ve ever really known, but it was a whole new world to me to be lazy. It’s never been my incentive to push my views onto others or make people feel uncomfortable or unhappy through my actions so I happily pottered around working out, cooking and cleaning, tending to myself and asking nothing of others and if anybody wanted to join me or share my food I was more than happy to oblige. My mother always raised me to treat others how I’d like to be treated and part of being a mother myself makes me conscious of good manners, helping others and being forgiving. I feel that I forgave a lot of people for their opinionated views, wild antics and controversial lifestyles yet I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that I was shown the same respect in return; I understand that we’re all human, we all come from different walks of life, different backgrounds and generations so I wouldn’t have expected anyone else to think like me, it was just a little disappointing to see how so many only think of themselves and what pleases them, I expected adults to be adult rather than just as needy and incapable as young children. One thing I really struggled with though was the lack of privacy – and let’s not beat around the bush here – masturbation and toilet time! I find the best way to wake up every morning and unwind every night is with an orgasm as it’s a naturally euphoric way to boost your mood and beat stress, yet with 42 cameras following our every move, night vision and microphones in the bathrooms as well as on each person there wasn’t a hope in hell of getting any relief or release and it really got to me.
To say that I was sexually frustrated is the biggest understatement of the year, my nipples were like rocks literally 24/7 and I found myself eyeing up kitchen utensils, chair legs and even homosexual housemates with drunken lust. Shit got real! It naturally made me feel stressed, uptight and on edge not to masturbate in the house, much like how I’d imagine somebody would feel if they were to go cold turkey when quitting smoking. If you’re used to something as a coping mechanism that suddenly gets taken away your body has to readjust in any way that it can. As a result of my sex-o-meter being at boiling point the entire time I couldn’t help but make cheeky innuendos which was picked up on by the other housemates very quickly. I’m naturally a very sexual hot-blooded woman and don’t get easily embarrassed as my friends share the same sense of humour and ease with their words as I do, yet in a house full of strangers it’s hard to know what is and isn’t socially acceptable to say these days especially with mixed generations. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my words have and always will come without a filter or censor and I’m literally thrilled to finally be home to enjoy my own bed and antics unsuitable for the big screen.
Another major problem I faced was training for my bodybuilding contest and leading a vegan diet as I went from running a marathon, lifting my bodyweight on a barbell and meticulously meal prepping homemade meals before going into the house to suddenly having just a 5kg dumbbell and a yoga mat with very limited vegan food on a communal shopping list dominated by meat, fast food and alcohol. I took my own stock of oat milk and protein shakes into the house which ran out very quickly and as such I had to wait days to get a delivery of suitable foods on the shopping list as all 12 housemates put in requests for what they’d like to eat with mine being the only vegan option of fruit and vegetables that others would merrily consume themselves without thinking of my dietary needs. To start with I lived on bread, crisps and potatoes every meal until a delivery of quinoa, cous cous and wholemeal pasta arrived and my entire body turned into a lump of starch. I’ve never been so unhealthy in all of my life and I fell into a vicious cycle of drinking vodka all evening, waking up hot, hanging and sleep deprived, eating far too many carbs and being unable to go to the toilet suffering cramps, my period and inflamed lymph nodes in my groin which made me wince. I think it was a combination of unhealthy food and knowing that every fart, sneeze and shag would be caught on camera and copious hidden microphones no matter how hard you try to avoid it. With my hand over the microphone in my bra as I unsuccessfully attempted to go to the toilet for the fourth day running there was still another wire hanging from the ceiling of the bathroom and four cameras pointing directly at the door which sent my digestive system into absolute hiding. And that’s without one of the other 12 housemates queuing outside the door, knocking or accidentally walking in to hurry me along. I appreciate being able to sit on my sparkling clean toilet seat for twenty minutes every morning at sunrise merrily opening my bowels as I flick through my social feed and catch up on emails rather than the MI5 scrutiny, pubic hair and skid mark pans that I precariously squatted over stupidly bare footed – I’m so not used to living with men anymore!
I’d literally scanned every inch of the house for secret places to fart or wank undiscovered and came up with none. I take my hat off to the production team for being so thorough in their setting up of cameras and microphones. As a result my stomach swelled, I ached and bloated and then I had my period which teamed with sleep deprivation, a constant hair-of-the-dog approach to daily drinking and tedious conversations and arguments with bored or attention-seeking housemates and it was only a matter of time before it all boiled over. I have no idea how the edit will portray my time in the house, nor if it will be an accurate representation of the atmosphere and experience as a whole but one thing that I can’t stress enough was the boredom, lack of purpose and endless time spent waiting. I now see why people kick off on reality shows about minuscule matters such as somebody eating a banana or leaving a door open that would make very little impact to our daily life in the outside world but becomes explosive when under the microscope. The only outdoor space we had was a small courtyard as a smoking area and it rained for days and days on end and was bitterly cold and windy which meant that everybody stayed indoors with the heating on full coughing and sneezing and spreading their germs which made me want to don a gas mask. Near the very end of the experiment I was allowed access to a small field where I could kick a football about and jump over mole hills when running laps but the wet muddy grass totally wrecked my trainers and left my feet and socks damp which made me gag because I like dry toes minus bacteria.
I’m so used to routine, deadlines, progression and being outdoors, exercising, walking, breathing and enjoying nature with my children so a hot, agitated and argumentative house filled with germs and stagnant farts really pushed me to my limits. But when we are pushed we have the most opportunity to grow in life and oddly enough I found myself speaking much slower because I had nothing to rush me anymore, I constantly ate naughty food and treats I’d normally deny myself because I couldn’t be healthy with the limited foods available and I drank more alcohol than I’ve ever had in all of my life – I actually think they found traces of blood in my alcohol stream at one point which was alarming. I’d only normally have a drink at weddings, birthdays, christenings and funerals because I never have childcare, am always driving or have to go somewhere else directly after so I soon became well acquainted with vodka, champagne, wine and whatever else looked vaguely fluid at 3am in the house because I had at least 10yrs of health, freedom and partying to make up for!
Regardless of how I come across on television though, if I please or offend, upset or ignite others opinions I was wholeheartedly myself in the house and have absolutely no regrets. I didn’t care about trying to impress others, I hardly wear any makeup, rarely brush my rubbish hair, don’t bother with fashion or act any differently to how I would in my daily life outside, aside from not having to work or run around after my children of course. I was unashamedly me, dropped the c-bomb perhaps a little too often for others liking and merrily sat alone sewing, cooking and reading when certain characters became too much for me; I am who I am and I didn’t expect anybody to kiss my arse or be false.
One thing I’ll never get used to no matter how much time I’d have spent in the house was the many cameras all at eye level rotating to follow your every move. I was conscious not to make eye contact with the cameras but oddly enough in trying to avoid them it made me notice them all the more – after all they were big white moving balls on every wall that made a whirring noise as they turned each time that you spoke or walked into a room so I tried my best to keep my eyes down but failed miserably. I never felt that I had to change my behaviour or opinions for knowing I was being watched, it was more like viewing a portrait in an art gallery and no matter where you stand you feel as though the eyes are staring straight at you and when people so obviously stare at you in the street you instinctively want to stare back to see what their problem is. It’s pretty odd really and I’m glad I don’t have any in my own house because it’s a bit stalker-in-the-hedge-esque.
When I finally came home I triumphantly crawled across my doorstep dragging my monumental suitcase behind me and fell into the biggest, squishiest hug with my darling children. It’s almost impossible to put into words how wonderful it feels to be home and my family greeted me with a surprise dinner, cards, handmade gifts and flowers. I spent the following few days struggling through routine, sleep deprived, bloated, stupefied and almost zombified as my body readjusted to real life. To have my phone pinging with thousands of notifications, my emails rammed to bursting point, friends and family calling for an update on how I got on and my relentless morning alarm dragging me back into routine at the crack of dawn was certainly eye opening. But my time in the house made me appreciate how valuable life is, how much my family mean to me, how much my freedom means to me and how entirely possible it is to exist in a world without social communication in favour of direct conversation.
I feel that I’m a lot calmer, more collected and well-rounded person for taking part in Mind The Age Gap. I met people I would never have associated or spent time with ordinarily and I saw a very valuable insight into the painful and turbulent lives of others which reiterated how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head and two healthy children to come home to even if I’m never going to be the prettiest, richest or most successful woman in the world, it’s the taking part in life that counts and I’m grateful for my little slice of home and happiness. I also realised as a social influencer I can survive without having my phone glued to my hand 24/7 and oddly enough two weeks without social media was bliss. Would I do it again? Yes for the personal journey but no for the invasion of my privacy and disgusting small-mindedness of others. I hope that in return I was able to make a positive influence on my housemates, I hope that I taught them some healthy new recipes, workout routines and to be more kind and accepting towards others. Nobody actually died, I can finally sleep naked again and I never realised that silence ever sounds so good!
Despite living like a student for half a month I went on to place 2nd in my first bikini bodybuilding contest which now makes me a professional fitness model for Pure Elite which was such an awesome experience. Sadly my Mum was poorly whilst babysitting my children and upon closer inspection she has since been diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer for which she’s had a colostomy surgery to disconnect her bowels and has just started her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in hope of having her bowels, womb and ovaries removed at the end of this year if she responds positively to her treatment. It goes to show that we should never take life for granted, be thankful for all of our blessings no matter how small and make good health, love and happiness the pinnacle of our days because tomorrow is never a given.
The TV Listings Are Out!
Eek it’s official, the show is finally coming out this May and The Radio Times have said: “With society apparently more divided than ever, 12 volunteers from different generations attempt to bridge the gap by moving into a house together, where they are encouraged to talk about some of the most important issues that affect the world today. An attempt to get to know one another triggers uncomfortable debates revealing controversial opinions from the older generation. Tension is in the air, and gay marriage is the first topic that divides old from young. And while the older guests are keen to debate, the younger ones see an opportunity to party.”
What a moody bunch we all look – you’re in for such a treat with episode one as we all enter the house and meet for the first time. I’ll undoubtedly be watching it from beneath my duvet with a bowl of unsweetened organic hand popped popcorn and a large double
vodka water ready for the knives and nails to come out! Miaowwwww!
Channel 5 are having great fun throwing out little taster clips from the series, this one being my drunken confused face when playing a game of guess who and I got the short straw of being the chancellor of Germany and none of the younger generation knowing who I am to give me clues! To be fair I’d heard of her but have absolutely no interest in sharing a pot of tea and scones… Next!
UPDATE: 08/05/17 Episode One
I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by and tonight has finally arrived for Mind The Age Gap to start. In one respect it feels like it’s been ages since we lived lived together yet in another the whole thing has gone from start to finish in just over two months and now it’s going to be shared with the world. It’s weird reading the press about the show where we’re all so clearly stereotyped and I’ve been portrayed as a pouting ‘social influencer’. Pouting!? And why put my career choice into inverted commas!? Is social influencing not seen as a modern form of journalism and marketing? Am I any less of a professional than the young twenty-somethings sat in a news room writing about me for the papers?
Either way I just have to take a deep breath, roll my eyes and wait for the trolls because I know they will come. I know people will pick fault in my lifestyle, question everything about me and rip me to shreds because that’s what people do, it’s the nature of being human these days. People can be nice as pie to your face but bitch behind your back so I’m fully expecting my housemates on the show as well as the public alike to make hurtful comments. It’s a good job that I’m thick skinned and have the life experiences and understanding to allow others to make their own judgements about me without taking it to heart. With age I’ve made peace with myself, I accept my flaws and weaknesses, I know that I’m not perfect and I know that I’ll never be the most successful, beautiful and powerful woman on the planet but I can, and always will, try my best and that’s all that matters.
So long as you go about life putting good karma into the world then good things will come back on you. Treat others how you wish to be treated and never judge somebody unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes first. Entering into the house I immediately thought there would be drama, loud characters and people I would clash with because we all know that controversy makes for good TV! I remember the first time I walked in and saw Jed and Tye sitting in the kitchen I thought wow he’s a cutie and I think she’s going to beat me up! Taking a village girl like me into the wider world where people talk about death and violence, alcohol and drug abuse and troubled upbringings was so eye-opening and shocking. It cut me to my core and made me realise how fortunate I am to have been raised with love, peace and respect and my heart goes out to those who never experience the same security and innocence of the childhood that I had and give to my own children.
We can all learn such a great deal from stepping outside of our bubble and rut in life that keeps us safe and ignorant to the outside world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly relieved to have a nice life, a roof over my head and a happy family but I think it’s made me a more rounded person to live with people I’d never have come across in day-to-day life. We all gravitate and associate with those who we feel close or connected to, people in similar situations, similar backgrounds and ages, but very rarely in life are we ever subjected to our total opposites. It’s like having a nightmare neighbour and then having to share a bedroom with them! You either give in and call a truce or fight it out until you’re both exhausted and emotionally drained. Sharing a bedroom when I’ve been single for 4yrs was a pretty random experience and I was desperate to sleep naked, kick off the covers and open all of the windows to get cold but as I didn’t want to offend anyone I put on pyjamas and slept next to a bloody heater sweating like a gorilla on a sunbed! The things we do to be polite!
Watching the show now I had no idea that Dee didn’t agree with gay marriage! How did I not pick up on this? Wow! But seeing Jen again put the biggest smile on my face, she’s such a sweetheart.
“I lure them in with my tits, but then I give them a life lesson!” My life motto right there! What use is having a social media following if you don’t bring something positive and useful to the discussion?
Naman using the words “hairy paki” to describe escaping an arranged marriage to his cousin in Pakistan was certainly a conversation killer as we ate dinner on the first evening. I spent hours cooking for everyone and have never made such a big meal but I wanted to make sure everyone was fed and welcome. I’m used to dinner parties being fun and light-hearted, playing games and full of smiles rather than such serious racial debates and there were a fair few raised eyebrows. You never come across such outrageous statements as what we faced in such a small space and I guess you never know how you’re going to respond until it happens.
Poor Tye having to face a tidal wave of racial offence as all of the older generation dropped the n-bomb on her time and time again! I don’t even use the N-word, it seems a million times worse than saying cunt in my books, despite having black and mixed-race friends, because I’m white it just feels wrong to say that word because I’m not a part of that ethnicity to able to use that language without causing offence to others. Even saying the word black makes me uncomfortable and I umm and ahh over if it should be ‘coloured’ or ‘mixed race’ instead. It’s political correctness eating away at our humanity and I really hate it because we shouldn’t have to think twice about these things, just like the older generation never had to but in todays society the goal posts have been moved and not everybody is aware of that. We’re all equal we should all be treated with respect instead of divided into any box available.
We drank such a ridiculous amount of alcohol, all night every night to the extent that I stopped getting hangovers because I was just topping up on the night before each day. I can’t believe how deep my voice sounds in the morning! God I look rough1 I think it’s a way for our generation to adjust to new situations by having something to soften the defences and make us more sociable whereas the older generation were happy to have a few drinks and then go to bed early with no need to want to stay up and break routine. I guess we’re all finding our feet still and we all adjust in our own way.
Jed peeing into Tye’s suitcase when he was drunk and falling down the stairs was insane! We all laughed our heads off but bit our fingernails at the same time for how cringe it all was. To have all just met, made friends and then Tye to be left without clothes was like, oh God, how is this going to effect the group dynamics? We don’t know each other well enough to see how far we can push things, and even though Jed didn’t do it on purpose I certainly felt for him because he was gutted over what happened.
I didn’t know anything about Dee suggesting to Jed that he had animosity towards women because he’s gay which may have led him to urinate on Tye’s suitcase. He was hammered and took a dodgy shot with a full bladder, there’s no way he wanted to disrespect or offend anyone for sure. It makes me want to hug him bless him! Why didn’t I know about this!?
Aww bless Jen cooking her quinoa! I love cooking and it was great that everyone wanted to try my vegan food, I hope I’ve opened their eyes to new recipes and flavours.
The first episode was totally dominated by Tye and Bob and the whole racist debate. I think the rest of the house found it difficult but it wasn’t as intense as what it came across as on TV. We knew it wasn’t comfortable but small remarks here and there were watered down by hours and hours of pleasantries in-between which didn’t make it seem so bad. When it’s complied into one big thing like that I can see how it adds up and suddenly there’s a racial divide but I never saw Bob as racist even though I understand why Tye was upset by it all. They’re both nice people, entirely different but not out to hurt anybody, it’s just two different worlds coming together and neither of them have experienced it before. I think on Bob’s part his career as a policeman was to say what he saw, that era was derogatory to coloured people and it’s only in more recent years that the world is more accepting of race, sexuality and different lifestyles even. He hasn’t moved forward with the times that we’ve been born into and now know no different of – Bob never got that memo that times have changed and the language he uses isn’t acceptable. I doubt that Tye is ever questioned about her skin colour in everyday life and being the only black woman in the house she must have felt so attacked and exposed in having to stand up for her ethnic group because she knew her friends and family would be watching the show and would have wanted to correct Bob in his errors, so she took that burden and did it for everybody that wasn’t there and that’s a heavy cross to bare. She has got such a good heart it’s incredible. I wish people could see her for who she is, through the looks and the language and the individual characters and kooks that we all have, to actually see what makes us the people we are. I never expected to become friends with somebody so confident, loud and outspoken as Tye but her realness is so refreshing and endearing. Never judge a book by its cover!
UPDATE: 09/05/17 Episode 2
I’ve just whizzed back from a board meeting in London after discussing the negative press surrounding social housing and the governments new initiative to house the homeless, put the kids to bed and kicked off my shoes to crash out for tonights episode. Since yesterday I think I’ve received pretty okay comments on social media so far, one guy even called me peng on twitter which made me laugh as apparently that means attractive – God I feel old when I have to google street slang! Someone else wanted to motorboat my breasts and my UK based social media followers gave me generous praise for all of my seven seconds on screen between the other screaming housemates!
There’s been a few dismissive comments about me not knowing who Angela Merkel is or having an interest in politics at the age of 29 and it seems the public perception is that I’m too dumb to understand it – being absolutely hammered on triple vodkas during the guess-who game possibly fuels their misguided feelings though so I hold my hands up to that one. No, I’m not too dumb to understand it all, it’s because I’ve studied sociology and looked into politics to see what a contradictory shambles it is that I respectfully withdraw my right to vote because of the lack of meritocracy, I prefer not to partake rather than join the rest of the herd in mindlessly ticking the closest box on a polling card.
I just had to block an absolute moron on twitter who took great pleasure in sarcastically, and all too enthusiastically, tweeting me repeatedly about social media and politics like I was a naughty failing school child and he/she/it was thriving on being a keyboard
wanker warrior. There was just far too much cringe going down for me to bother replying to somebody so childish – people actually spend their evenings trolling strangers they’ve never met on TV shows? And here’s me thinking whips, chains and body chocolate are fun for kicks!
So tonights show, wow! It’s all in the edit! Where to begin? The Naman situation had been boiling since day one and from days and days of footage just 45mins make it to screen each evening so literally everything is cut out apart from the outrageous antics. I think the frustrations the house faced with Naman was his constant need for attention, every mirror he passed he posed in, every camera he constantly sang to at the top of his voice like he was in a West End musical yet he hasn’t been shown singing once in the show. He tried to take Eden away from the entire group by sitting up all night with her and bitching about everyone in the house and then hugging them and saying he loved them as soon as they came into the room. Naman is a very emotional and touchy person who threw himself at everyone and overstepped boundaries and personal space continuously, he asked to see my breasts and vagina the first day that I met him which was bizarre. We all thought he was young and lost in life until we realised he is 26, works at a shop that he says he hates and said that he doesn’t care what people think of him because he’s going to be a celebrity, become rich and famous and is better than everyone in the house anyway. The fight didn’t start for a petty reason, it started because he told Joey in the kitchen that he was already going to film another primetime TV show when he leaves and was also going on Big Brother too which would clash with the contracts for this show and isn’t legally impossible. Lie after lie and boasting and blowing his own trumpet with deluded self-centred thoughts and bitchness led to his demise and when he turned against everyone for not agreeing with his attention-seeking antics of drinking, swearing, making racist remarks about Pakistanis and eating pork purposely infant of the cameras whilst constantly shouting about being a gay Muslim the whole situation imploded on him.
He actually threw himself at Tye and tried to hit her, shrieking like a woman and the older housemates thought a girl had been beaten up from the howling but it was Naman losing it. Jed and I jumped in front of him to stop him to hold him back from harming Tye as he raged at her, I’ve never seen a man look so wild and insane, he switched and was totally unrecognisable, even his face was longer, his eyes darker and his fists raised and it was a disgusting situation that was filtered down to him screaming “bitch” at Tye and then been taken out by security crying. It was an utter breakdown and attack and that’s why he was so distressed when they kicked him out, he didn’t leave he was removed immediately and not allowed to return because of his unstable behaviour. What you saw was the mildest part of the whole thing. I honestly feel sickened for him, saddened that he feels the need to behave in such a way to bitch about everyone, put himself on a pedestal and think that the way to be successful in life is to be famous just for the sake of being famous without a talent. He doesn’t want to help anybody or work for a cause he believes in or to make a difference, he just wants everybody to know his name and worship him and I think that’s the sickness that plagues todays society and generation – the celeb culture that sees people spiral into insecurity and abandonment for the adoration of the public.
I expressed my concerns to the rest of the housemates before Naman did what he did, I voiced how I was worried about how others would see Naman and his outrageous behaviour and controversial comments around Muslims. We all expected to be shown for who we are, not for it to be filtered out and only half the story shown. When we had dinner I spoke with Naman about religion as he didn’t stop talking about being a Muslim 24/7 and everybody asked how he could be Muslim yet go against all of their beliefs and morals. He kept stressing that he was a good Muslim and lived in todays society so I asked if somebody is so intent on religion and believes in something so much is it therefore easy to be lead into extremism. I have no experience of Muslims, I don’t know everything about the faith just what I’m shown on television and I wanted him to teach me and tell me about something he is clearly so passionate about but each time he threw it back and just tried to show how outrageous he can be rather than taking it seriously or behaving respectfully, he constantly wanted a reaction when we all could have learned so much about his culture instead.
He asked me if I believed in God and I said that I was raised to be Catholic but I feel there is a higher being and energy in charge of us or responsible for us which I wouldn’t necessarily call a God, or God, but something beyond this world and something alien to our existence, i.e. not walking amongst us, not human or even physical. Whether we are watched, farmed to serve a purpose, or simply created and left to our own devices I do not know, but I believe in treating others with love, compassion and acceptance in life, I have a strong connection to nature, I thrive on meditation and after a wonderful conversation with Eddie -who sadly hasn’t been shown so far- I discovered my feelings lead me towards Buddhism and spirituality. I also discussed different religions with Naman and he spoke about branches of religions such as Christianity and Catholicism for which I asked what the difference is between Muslim and Sikh because regardless of such contrasting beliefs all religions are similar in worshipping a godly figure. Even with his erratic behaviours and alienating himself from the group I gave him my time to sit, listen and understand him but I don’t think that he even understands himself. I think he’s lost, endangering himself with his erratic behaviour and desperate to be accepted and loved but he’s going about in the wrong way by forcing people to like him. You can only earn respect if you give to others.
On a lighter note, or possibly just as dark, I was taught how to use the dating app Tinder for the first time by Jed and sat down with Dee and Joey to have a flick through. I think as a woman confident with her sexuality me and Dee are very alike in how we see life even though she’s 83 and I’m 29. After been an absolute doormat in a longterm relationship, engagement and raising a young family since the age of 19 I’ve never felt so happy and comfortable in myself since becoming a single parent and independent woman. I’m happy being single rather than in an unhealthy relationship and if I don’t feel a spark, chemistry or connection with somebody then I don’t date for the sake of it or lead people on or fear of being alone as I’d rather say that somebody is not for me and happily wait for the right person, if he even exists. So many people can’t live alone, can’t spend time alone and place all of their happiness on desperately being loved and accepted by others whereas I live for life, am who I am and if people like me they like me and it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. I think you have to be happy in yourself first, cabala of independence and if you’re in a good place then good people find you rather than having to look. I’ve never tried online dating but Tinder was certainly an experience!
The chat up lines guys sent me were hilarious, the usual “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” etc. and being a fan of banter I soon got into the flow of answering back with equal measures of cringe and found it funny as anything as it’s something I would have joked with my friends about in the same way at home. I see Dee as a friend as I don’t see age as a barrier between companionship, she may be 83 but she’s just as sparky as me when she sees a hunk on the iPad! We’re little lust bunnies, as I think every woman secretly is, you want that passion and spark, to see a man and think phwooooor! So when a guy took a picture with his dog Dee joked about who would be going on the date, him or his dog. My sense of humour always leads me into cheeky situations and I didn’t think twice before bantering back with “well it all depends on the breed of the dog!” and Dee laughed and asked me if I realised what I was saying and I said “of course, but I’d never actually have sex with a dog…” comedy timing “…again!” ba-dum-dum-dummm! Clearly a joke as I’m not into beastiality but I did see a porn video of a woman having sex with a horse when I was a teenager and mobile phones first came out with gritty pixelated screens and remember thinking how random that was!
UPDATE: 10/05/17 Episode 3
The aftermath of Naman leaving made the house such a calmer more content place. Everybody agreed it was best for him and us all that he didn’t stay, it wasn’t safe, it wasn’t healthy and he wasn’t a part of the house. You can’t live with people if you’re not capable of co-operating and although it was an entirely alien situation for us all we all seemed to manage and adjust a lot better. It’s sad that we didn’t notice how alone Eden was feeling as we’d all be eating together, talking about family life and playing games just the night before and it was such an upbeat and happy day but you never know what somebody is feeling deep down inside. I know we all missed our home comforts, our daily routines, friends, family and loved ones that we’re used to but two weeks in the grand scheme of life isn’t that much to feel alone. I’m used to be alone with my children so I didn’t miss a husband or boyfriend to talk to, I don’t need people around me as I’m happy in my own space and peace.
Bob called me into his room to speak to me because Kevin had just shouted at me, which wasn’t shown, and I was really upset about it. He then asked me some very personal questions about hard times in my life from illness, heartbreak and raising a disabled child and I explained to him how sharing my experiences with the world as a blogger and social influencer helped me to deal with such struggles and obstacles whilst showing others that they’re not alone. So although I was upset about what we’d talked about I was relieved to show him how far I’ve come as a woman who was once a bullied young girl. Bob seemed to understand me and said “f you can be happy having been through all that then great!” I think whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The psychiatrist then made comments about the constant pressure I face having to provide for my children, the pressure I faced and still face over my looks and the direction of my life. It’s quite a thing to have your every move and action in life analysed in such a way but I believe in being open and honest, in showing strengths and weaknesses and helping people to understand that we are all human and nobody is perfect. For Bob to say that my 2 million followers aren’t my real friends I think he doesn’t quite grasp the concept of social media, I don’t think he realises that my followers are from across the world and I haven’t met them all personally nor had direct conversations with them all. It’s a little lost in translation and time when trying to discuss modern lifestyles with an older generation, I tried my best to enlighten him but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
After setting up my Tinder profile with Dee I was so excited to hear that I’d be going on some dates for the afternoon and Tye, Jed and Joey all agreed to help me get ready. I’m such a tomboy and rubbish at hair and makeup as I can’t even get my eyeliner straight on a good day so having Tye glam me up was lovely. I was totally like a kid at Christmas getting ready for my dates and as always I don’t censor my thoughts! When I’m with my friends we always talk openly and honestly about things so it’s all that I’m used to, I wasn’t any different around the others when discussing first-date prep as I would be with my best friends and I think it shocked them to hear me talk so openly about things that are perhaps taboo or embarrassing but I’ve no doubt that everyone has said the exact same things to their friends, just perhaps not on camera. Bare in mind I’d been sexually frustrated since entering the house over a week ago, it made it even harder for me being on my period because I have a hormone imbalance which makes me super horny during my cycle – the same happened when I was pregnant! It’s something I can’t control, much like a smoker craving a cigarette when they’ve ran out, if your body craves something it’s all that you can think about, it’s a hunger and very distracting. Some girls find their periods make them emotional, tired, weak, angry or sad but mine make me extra amorous so I decided not to shave my legs just incase I really liked my date! I’m not one for one night stands, I don’t jump at the first guy I see for the sake of it, I have to really like somebody and feel a connection with them to want to spend time with them or have a relationship. It’s not having ridiculously high standards it’s just knowing how I’ve been treated in the past wasn’t nice so I’d rather be alone if I can’t meet somebody suitable.
If I’d have met somebody I really liked I was told I could bring them back to the house to meet the others and it was exciting to think that online dating might actually work, that you can meet a complete stranger and find common ground. I never go on dates, I’m old before my time and weighed down with responsibilities in the sense that I had my children so young so it’s nice to get out there and do what everyone my ages does. Taking Dee with my to my dates was just the moral support that I needed, she’s got a great radar to spot the right and wrong guys and has the experience to know what I really need in a man. She’s also an absolutely hilarious minx and kindered spirit and understood that there was a total lack of chemistry with the guys that I met. They all seemed lovely, nice guys but I just didn’t feel it, I can’t be excited by what doesn’t excite me. It was nice to get out and meet new people, just online dating isn’t for me, I much prefer face to face connections that are natural and meaningful, like glances over the bananas in the supermarket or sharing weights with somebody at the gym and smiling. In real life you know what you’re getting and there’s no falseness, online dating seems to be fake pictures, elaborated profiles and serial killers.
When I got back to the house I was ready to party and make the most of my curly hair and makeup! It’s not often I get dressed up and have a giggle and with a hostess as sensational as Lin shaking up the cocktails it was hilarious. Eddie and Lin are absolute legends and gelled so well with the youngsters because I think they realised how impossible Bob and Kevin are with their rigid views and hurtful comments. I think they were embarrassed to be associated with their single-minded behaviours and views, their disgusting way of thinking didn’t reflect the an entire generation so they moved away from them. Yes we all had to live together but we didn’t have to entertain negativity. We were there to learn from each other and open our eyes, Bob and Kevin failed to do that and as Lin said they’re totally racist and homophobic and will never change their views – so more fool them! I think that Bob and Kevin were so used to being men of power as police officers, never questioned over their views or challenged in debates that they found it hard to stand up to their flaws – which we all have no doubt – but as we battled our demons and accepted different ways of life and different people they continued to fail to do so.
Poor Jen told us all about running away from her marriage and starting a new life and it broke my heart because I felt as though we’d been through a very similar experience. Although I didn’t leave my family, I had the prospect of a family taken away from me when my fiancé left and I felt so scared, alone and abandoned in life at such a young age. Jen had felt that way within an unhappy marriage and in leaving she too found her independence and happiness and I think it’s made us both stronger more positive women because of it. She has such a warm place in my heart, I love her honesty, her openness and how she doesn’t concern herself with the negativity of others. She does what makes her happy and treats others how she would like to be treated in return, something that we should all aspire to live by regardless of our age.
UPDATE: 11/05/17 Episode 4
Each morning we received daily newspapers and over breakfast I read that whilst Donald Trump’s Muslim ban on airlines caused protests around the world he was apparently at home watching Finding Dory which caused a debate between Dee and Eddie who clash terribly over politics. Naturally the press wind up situations to sell stories and I highly doubt that Donald Trump watches Disney films when the world is protesting over his decisions but in reading the press, hearing opposing views and such aggressive stances on how the country, or even world, should be run it just makes me dislike politics all the more. If nobody can even agree on who’s right then how will we ever have the choices made with peoples best interest at heart? All the more reason for me not to vote!
Discussing politics once again over an evening game of agree or disagree I love how Jenny didn’t know who Nigel Farage is nor UKIP as it goes to show that not all older generations are concerned with politics. It’s easy to assume that young people don’t vote because they have no idea what’s going on with the country or aren’t educated enough to take an interest in politics which I think is grossly untrue. If you don’t have faith or believe in something enough to take part in it, such as voting, then the onus should be on the government to encourage people to get involved, to inform, reflect and allow us all to make unbiased choices rather than beating out a media storm over the mud-slinging and personal attacks on the politicians involved.
One of the questions that came up was “only skilled immigrants should be allowed into the UK” for which we had to agree or disagree and it certainly rustled some feathers as only Dee and I agreed. I classed skilled to mean working, i.e. being prepared to find a job, pay tax and support their family just like every other person rather than bringing thousands more people into the benefits system. That’s not to say that immigrants shouldn’t be allowed a safe home and chance of a quality of life as we all deserve human rights but whether you clean toilets or perform heart surgeries a job is a job and that’s what’s needed of all regardless of where you come from. The other housemates viewed it that skilled immigrants means having qualifications for a trade and not the average working person, university graduates, doctors etc. for which I clarified my opinion that regardless of skills whoever is prepared to work hard has just as much right to the country as we do.
I don’t think it comes across how quiet and boring the house is on television as only the exciting and controversial things seem to be shown when we spent several hours each evening filling the void of music and television with reading or speaking to one another. It’s a strange scenario being away from friends and family and familiar routines and after yet another day of being bored Tye and I decided to have a tipple in the evening and cracked open a few bottles of wine! We had so much fun playing the piano, putting the world to rights over men and dancing in the rain but when we went outside the front door to go and play on the rope swing on the huge tree on the driveway suddenly two men came running at us out of the darkness and we were drunkenly petrified as we didn’t realise that the security team thought we were trying to escape! I’ve never had strangers running at me in the darkness and I don’t think I’ve ever made it up three flights of stairs mortally intoxicated so quickly before which ultimately disrupted the house in the early hours and caused bad feeling.
Each night people kept me awake wether it was with arguments, making noise or getting up early and banging about but I never told anyone off because of it. I accepted that I was living in a house with twelve other people and that my usual peace, quiet and calmness would be disrupted by them, we all knew what we were getting into. The entire time I was in the house I didn’t cause a peep of disruption until one night when I was drunk, bored and chased by men in the dark and as such I felt awfully guilty in the morning because of it and apologised as soon as I woke up. Wether my apology fell on deaf ears I don’t know but it seems the brunt of it was taken by Tye when the whole house exploded at her and blamed her for making noise. I tried my best to talk the others round, how everyone had been drunk, everyone had caused dispute but for some reason they couldn’t accept that one night we let our hair down. Just once! I’m never away from my children, I rarely have a night out and like every other 29yr old I’m allowed to have a drink with friends.
UPDATE: 12/05/17 Episode 5
The final show! Eek how fast the times passes when you watch it on screen yet it felt like an eternity in the house. What really upset me in tonights episode was how horrible everyone was to Tye, yes she’s loud but so was I, yes she got drunk but so did I and nobody in the house is perfect, everybody made noise, everybody had arguments and fallings out but it seemed the easy option to blame Tye for everything which wasn’t fair. Of course if people make negative remarks about you or shout you’re going to answer back. Anybody who is cornered is going to stand their ground and I wish that they’d have shown the cheerful, friendly and wonderful woman that I got to know. When I entered the house Tye and I were absolute poles apart but we left as great friends and I’ll always have her back.
Each evening we all sat in the lounge and played games with my choice being articulate and Bob guessed the word “Brazilian” instantly which was hilarious. Dee had me howling as she acted out “sex toys” the little minx and when Tye shouted “Get on the floor you cunts!” I immediately guessed it was the police much to Bob and Kevin’s dismay as they chose to leave the room. I’m not against the police at all, I believe they do a very brave and respectful job and have friends who were in the service. But like with any position of power there are those who abuse it and the nature of being human means that racists, homophobes and bullies are going to slip through the net and impose their views onto others and how they are treated which then tarnishes the name of all of the good officers. When a police officer admits to lying it makes all officers look like liars, when a police officer steals it makes all officers look like crooks, and when a police officer is filming hurting somebody it makes all officers look like bullies yet police officers are normal people too. They shouldn’t be judged on their career choice but their individual actions and treated accordingly for their crimes as with every person in the world irrespective of their title. Yes police brutality happens, yes Tye acted it out and yes it was just a game. Kevin can’t stand that he’s no longer a policeman and can’t bully or frighten people with the law anymore and Bob doesn’t like hearing bad jokes in return for his own. The eldest men in the house turned out to be the most childish boys, who’d have thought it!
When Lin suggested we make a calendar like Jenny’s with all of the housemates so that we could remember each other it was a lovely idea and one that we all jumped at. Jenny very famously had a naked calendar of her and her friends riding horses, gardening and waltzing around outdoors in the buff so Lin thought it would be hilarious to recreate that with the housemates. I wasn’t sure if they’d be up for it in the same way that I would as I’m well accustomed to being naked 24/7 at home and in bikinis from my time spent as a page 3 model in my teens. Surprisingly everyone threw themselves into it and we had such a laugh, I don’t think anyone felt uncomfortable. I was expecting the older generation to be more reserved and want to cover up as that’s how my parents are yet they had a whale of a time stripping off and it was nice to see everybody so comfortable in their own skin. Nowadays social media is all about selfies, posing for pictures with your friends and working the camera and I think the older housemates did it better than us youngsters! Joey getting naked in the garden with just a boxing glove strategically placed on such a cold day was brave as anything. Jed donned his boxer shorts with a bicep pump in the smoking area and Dee took a picture of me brushing my teeth naked in the bathroom with toothpaste dribbling down my chin for extra cheek!
Discussing our worst fears was a very touching moment for us all that certainly brought us closer together because we realised how human we are despite our differences. I spoke about being diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cells and my treatment last year and fear of cervical cancer which was a very scary time for me as a single mother because if I died young then my children would be left without a mother. I’ve since helped to raise awareness for Cervical Cancer because of it and always encourage women to attend their smear tests because prevention is better than cure.
Jen’s birthday on the final night was magical, I was assigned the task of baking her cake which turned out like a pebble as always but it was lovely getting everyone together to secretly prepare the card and decorations whilst Dee kept Jen busy in the lounge talking about sex robots of all things! Trying to get Jen to go upstairs to get changed was such a mission and at one point she walked into the kitchen as we were decorating the cake and we had to throw it into the cupboard and chuck newspapers over the birthday card that we were all secretly signing. Toasting our experience at dinner I think we call came to realise that despite the ups and downs we’re all human and age really is just a number – as much of a cliche as that is! You can be young and very level headed or old and a complete jackass so never judge a book by its cover because maturity, kindness and acceptance is very much down to the individual.
I had a fantastic time taking part in Mind The Age Gap, it certainly taught me to make more time for myself as a woman rather than constantly rushing around at a million miles an hour being a mum. I feel calmer in myself for doing what pleases me, my poor liver has divorced me from drinking 14 days straight which I’ve never done before in my life but I really needed to let my hair down and couldn’t have survived with such a bunch of crazy people without something to soften the blow! I’ll take away with me such wonderful memories of the friends I have made for life and in sharing so much time with people from an older generation I feel honoured to have got to know them, learnt about their life, their views and beliefs and it makes me feel closer to my nan who passed away this time last year. Life is so hectic day to day and years whizz by in the blink of an eye, but we should all take a little time out to stop and realise the blessings around us. Don’t be distracted with televisions, phones and technology when a meaningful conversation and heart felt communication with loved ones and strangers alike are but a smile away.
Remember to check back here after each episode airs to hear my thoughts and revelations throughout!
Mind The Age Gap aired in the UK on Channel 5 at 10pm
8th May – 12th May 2017