“Saying yes to challenges has changed my life”
I’ve had busy weeks. But this one just past has to be the most brilliantly bonkers- busy week yet.
It all started with a nice, gentle rehearsal week with my guitarist Michael, in preparation for four dates I had booked in when I was newly pregnant. I knew I’d be taking some time out after the birth of the twins and so I wanted to put on a few shows before. But you see, no- one really tells you what it’s like being pregnant. I think there’s a conspiracy to play it down, otherwise NO ONE WOULD DO IT.
Some women are naturals. “I loved being pregnant.” “It was the best time of my life.” “I felt like Earth mother.” Really? I just feel massive. And unable to breathe. I ache from the neck down. I almost fall over when I get out of bed in the morning, either from not having grasped the change in my centre of gravity or from the intense numbness in the soles of my feet.
Blooming? I’ve had a rash on my face, I’ve got ankles like balloons and bags under my eyes the size of the ones you use at Ikea. I involuntarily fall asleep everywhere. Except at night, in bed. That’s when the twins go into party mode. In my tummy. After 11pm. Loving life.
Once rehearsals were finished and I’d managed to find something to wear for the gigs that didn’t make me look like a barrel, I spent the weekend with my wife Ellie and daughter Annie in quite a relaxed manner. Come the Monday though, before heading into London to prerecord Radio DIVA, I noticed that the aching around my ribs that I’d been experiencing over the weekend was obviously from a speeded- up stretching of my whole abdomen.
In rehearsals I’d been concerned at not being able to touch my toes for the first time in my life. Now, two days later, looking down, I could no longer see my toes. Getting off the train at London Bridge, I wasn’t the first at the doors. I wobbled along behind the other passengers, just ahead of the guy with a broken leg on crutches. I stood still on the escalators rather than speeding up on the left- hand side. I felt bombarded by the commuters walking towards me at speed on the street. The heavy breathing that comes with the slightest movement is also disconcerting, as is the sudden and desperate need to pee. This isn’t for me. I am not a natural pregnant woman. This is a means to an end. And that’s ok. I just wish I’d met someone who had told me all this so I didn’t feel like such a whining weakling.
Maybe the women who love being pregnant enjoy the fact they have to slow down. Maybe they love having their bags lifted off the
train for them or the offer of a seat. Goodness knows, all these things are needed and I gratefully accept but it makes me feel quite helpless.
The radio show passed without a hitch. On to Tuesday, when my first gig that week was in Liverpool at the world- famous Cavern Club. At the moment, as much as I can hardly breathe at times, for some reason when I walk on stage I can sing just the same as always. Adrenaline maybe? Probably, because after the gig I was exhausted. It wasn’t until I got back to an empty hotel room some time after 11pm that I realised that the beer or wine I normally drink after a gig helps me wind down from the high of being on stage. Cut to me, still wide awake at 3am, after the twins had finished their party.
Wednesday meant a long but happy drive home with Michael, singing 80s classics to pass the time and arriving for soundcheck at the Komedia in Brighton, bang on time as Ellie and Annie turned up to watch. It was the first time Annie had seen me at a venue. As the music blared she picked up a tambourine and joined me on the stage dancing around in her little ladybird ear defenders. It was pure magic.
I had a fantastic gig in Brighton but another interrupted night’s sleep, unable to relax after the event and feeling the expansion once more of my already- huge belly.
Thursday, I was tired. I had that funny under- the- skin soreness in my face that meant I hadn’t slept enough. Today was DIVA magazine’s 250th Issue Awards bash. I was both up for an award and due to perform. It was only a 15- minute performance so I knew I could do it. There was just the small matter of getting my piano across London’s Victoria station concourse.
I’d done it plenty of times before but it’s incredible how having no stomach muscles anymore means I am now a complete weakling. I must have stopped 10 times before an absolute gent insisted he dragged the blooming thing to the taxi rank for me. I gratefully accepted but secretly couldn’t wait till the day I could be self- sufficient once more.
The DIVA 250 Awards party was awesome. The glamorous Cafe de Paris was packed and buzzing. Champagne flowed. I sipped my fizzy water. The category I was nominated for came up: Inspirational Role Model of the Year 2017. My name was announced and I nearly choked on my water. Pop heroine Alison Moyet gave me my award and I was absolutely stoked.
Before I left the stage, I checked with Alison that she was still up for coming to my house the following morning for an interview over coffee that I was recording for the following week’s radio show. She was. After my performance, the wonderful peeps at DIVA insisted on putting me in a car home, having not realised the size of the piano I had dragged all the way to Cafe de Paris. They gently ticked me off for not having said something before. Sweet.
The next day, Friday, there was Alison. In her beanie hat, on my doorstep, ready for a chat. We did the interview which was just a joy, she left and I sat down, exhausted but reeling from an exciting week. And here I am now, writing this. I’ve got two gigs to go, tomorrow and Wednesday and then I stop.
I know most will think I’ve done too much for a pregnant person this last week but I know I took it a lot slower than I would usually. Your body won’t allow you to go above the speed it’s able to. And my body knows it’s nearly time to stop.
I guess I’m writing this because this week was a real insight into what it is to say “yes” to opportunities that come your way, however scary they may seem. Of not blocking things because they seem a bit out of your comfort zone.
Once upon a time, I was nervous about taking a job that meant I would have to be very visibly out and proud. But I said yes. Even though I asked her first, I was nervous when Ellie first asked me to go to dinner. I said yes. I was terrified when she talked about kids. Once I realised I could do it, I said yes. I said yes to taking a risk with my music and throwing everything I had at it. I said yes when publisher Linda Riley approached me and asked me to write for this magazine. I said yes to hosting the radio show that went with it. The radio show that means I get to interview the likes of Alison Moyet.
This week has been incredible to look back on because it was a small window into everything positive that’s happened in my life because I took a risk and said “yes”.
I was stoked when pop heroine Alison Moyet gave me my DIVA Award for Role Model of the Year