Hear My Voice

It’s time to talk about what happened
at HMV in the lead up to me losing my job of 15 years.

I have never been the perfect employee nor have I ever claimed to be but I have never and will never assault a member of my staff or bully them. Alas I cannot say the same for some of my previous managers. Not all were bad. I have worked with so many people but im outlining some specific male senior figures to explain that there is no sexism involved in this from my side. I have so much respect for the honest workers of the place I called home for 15 years. There were some outstanding male role models. The man who gave me my first job, even though I wore double denim to the interview, John Greener, he was a good egg and a massive fan of music especially vinyl. Steve Nolan, Arsenal fan and lover of the MG. The man who told me I needed to go to London otherwise I would never progress. When I returned to my much beloved original store and see the same staff in the same roles I know he steered me right. Paul Hammond, the only man I’ve met who was more excitable about new releases than I was and has a heart of gold. Darren Rigby although not someone I worked alongside with daily he always made me smile and conversed with me in our brief encounters and always had time for me. John McCaul, such an amazing guy. A man who would help me realise that the way I was being treated was not right and that I needed to tell someone. And Martin Jezzard the man who believed me and restored my faith in a broken system.

In my early years I was propositioned by an upper management male. Suggesting if I did certain things that I would be quickly promoted to manager and so on. I laughed at the very suggestion and said I would earn my stripes through blood, sweat and tears not sleeping my way to the top. The irony wasn’t lost on me when a female comrade got promoted above me very quickly who he’d spent a lot of time with the same night. So I realised early on that it was a game and I could choose to play it the way I wanted. So I did. I earnt my stripes. I worked so many ridiculously long days back and forth into the heart of London watching my relationships break apart as I pushed up into the upper echelons by sheer bloody mindedness. I featured in the accident book a lot as part of my quest to impress meant hurtling myself across the shop floor at an alarming rate.

I had my share of unwanted sexual advances, smacked so hard on the backside that it made me cry and this was done repeatedly by a friends husband when no one was about so no witnesses, and then chased down by a different individual into an alleyway after a Christmas party because I wouldn’t kiss him and that person wouldnt take no for an answer. The best part was how none of my friends at the time helped even though they saw me run past screaming. Lucky I was a fast runner. Then at another party told I was a slut because I wore small amounts of clothing. The girl who wouldn’t sleep her way to the top of the food chain being called a slut by the very men she wouldn’t accept. So cliche. Such was my life. There were SO many amazing male friends I did have and still have. Please don’t think this to be men shaming for it isn’t. I don’t count the rancid bag of flesh who bullied me as human. A sociopath in managerial clothing. But not a real man. By the time I came to be his Assistant manager I had been bullied by my previous manager and had been weakened to the point of believing I was just crap at my job. Colleagues would say otherwise but this first guy, let’s call him Mr Spanner, would take every opportunity to mock me infront of other management and staff. Saying how stupid my hair was or how awful my clothes were and how thick I was. For those of you who didn’t know at the time this was when I dyed my hair black and the first time I gained weight. This was my attempt to hide from him. To not stand out. If I blended into the background maybe he would leave me alone. I was wrong of course and manage to destroy the relationship I was in at the time by going from a hot, slim blonde, happy go lucky girl to a black haired, fat, angry miserable cow. I recoil whenever I see photos of that time of my life. I hated how I looked and how I was.

Then the London bombings happened and I quickly realised that my misery needed to end so I applied for a job at the soon to open Stratford HMV but was instead offered Ilford. I literally didn’t care where I went I just wanted away from him and all the fellow managers that sat there and laughed along as he took the mickey out of me, every, single, day.

As the ebs and flow of life go I then met Alex Sardinha and the wonderful crew of the Ilford store and oh how different life was. Although I hadn’t reached my ultimate goal of manager (because I hadn’t slept with the right people?), I was happy to be working for a family man who loved music, his wife and his children. So nice to have that warmth. My team were amazing and people like Michelle and Scott M and Scott R made me remember the fun and laughter within life. I started to love my job again. But of course this wouldn’t last forever because that would be too easy. Alex moved on and I had the angry chef take over.

The profit in the store wasn’t big and there were no promotion opportunities and I felt my feet going to sleep. So I decided I needed to try and get out whilst things were okay and push once more to get the store manager position I coveted so much. After covering Canary wharf a couple of times I got offered a job at a new store opening near bond street tube station. Moorgate. The store that almost destroyed me.

I had to cover there for a while as there was no manager, I was hoping that they would see me do well and offer it to me. But of course that didn’t happen. After a particularly depressing pep (sans pep) talk from an ex manager I was again left feeling that maybe I was never any good and should have done as a few of my female counter parts had done and slept my way to the top. But I pressed on still determined to get through on hard work and gusto.

And then HE arrived. The nightmare. And for 4 years beat me down with a very concentrated type of bullying. He started off small, separating me out so I had lunch on my own, away from the team, making me cash up so he would be one on one in his office with me. Making sure no one was around when he spoke to me so I wouldn’t have witnesses. Every day walking to work I had music playing. Drowning out the city and surrounding me in mentally soothing sounds. Every day my usual bounce in my stride became slower, less bounce, then no bounce until finally I would cry as I walked down the last part of the path. Praying and hoping that something would change, that today would be the day he would stop. The Regional manager at the time didn’t acknowledge me so I had no confidence to bring it to him. Oh no sorry he did acknowledge me once to bring him a cup of coffee. Then laughed along with my manager about women in kitchens.

My family loved and supported me and I had a boyfriend that loved and supported me but I felt so alone, isolated. I fully believed that I had done something to warrant this abuse. I assumed I was just that annoying or rubbish that I deserved it and when I wasn’t thinking that I thought at least he isn’t hurting anyone else. I kept diaries from the moment he started torturing me. I needed an outlet for this. Little did I know I would use it later down the line as evidence.

3 things happened that made me decide enough was enough. The order of these things is somewhat sketchy because I was traumatized by it so my memory fails me.

3. I saw him assault another colleague. And I went for him. He laughed it off pretending it was horseplay but it wasn’t. I tried to beg the colleague to report him for what had happened as I knew he would be sacked but the colleague refused and I respected his wishes. At the time this colleague didn’t know I also had my own personal reasons for wanting to have him reported. For years he had been torturing me behind the scenes and this was one of the only incidents where there were witnesses. I knew he would burn for it but I couldn’t force someone to do anything. If I did then I would be just like that piece of shit.

2. Martin J took over as Regional manager and immediately sensed something wasn’t right. My friend John said to me that Martin knew things were off and that I should talk to him. It was this conversation with John and the following conversation with Martin that saved my life. I say that with all the gravitas it’s meant with.

1. I decided to walk in front of a bus.

That walk to work from the station one day was just too much. I got to the crossing, tears flowing non stop out of my eyes and I thought IF I could get both my legs broken I would be off work but get paid sick pay. So I wouldn’t have to see him but I wouldn’t lose my job. It was in a later discussion with HR that I realised I was actively thinking about killing myself but pretending to myself that I wasn’t. I didn’t want to leave my family or partner but I couldn’t deal with another day of it. And as I went to step out there was a large car horn that shook me from my trance. In that moment I decided that I was gonna take him out of the equation instead of myself. I loved my job and had worked so hard. I loved people where he didn’t and so I deserved to work not him. I would collate together all the evidence I could and turn his world on its head.

One of the things about having a sociopath and narcissist for a boss is they think they will never get caught.

So whilst he continued his campaign of making my life a living hell I collected my evidence together and tried to remember witnesses where I could. I knew I couldn’t use my colleagues assault so this would all be off my own back.

I called my regional to arrange a meeting to discuss things. He had no idea what was going on and I had to remain vague as I was still unsure who I could trust.

There was one hiccup in the road. Because my regional didn’t know what was happening he accidentally asked my boss if he knew why I wanted to see him direct. I was blissfully unaware as the days counted down to my meeting that I was about to have the wind taken out of me. Unloading delivery one morning and the boss comes in all smiles and lightness. I think my goodness that’s new. whilst smiling he comes up behind, breathing down my neck and whispers in my ear “I know who you’ve been speaking to, nothing gets by me, he tells me everything” and then he walks off and I stood there shaking. He knows; he knows shit. What do I do. But then I realised that he doesn’t know WHAT I’m going to discuss because I didn’t even tell my regional that. One card left.

As the time ticks closer to the meeting my boss calls me into the office repeatedly trying to get me to confess what I’m going to say. He backs me into a corner and makes sure i can see he’s blocking the door telling me “you aren’t leaving till you tell me” then he sees that tactic isn’t working and tries “we are friends right?” I try to hide how much I’m shaking, so scared he is gonna hit me or hold me down as I can see he knows I’m up to something. I finally charge the door and tell him I’ll ring the police and say he’s holding me against my will. He laughs and says the familiar line “no one will believe you over me” and as I walked out I said “someone will, one day”.

When I left that office it was as if I could finally breath again.

With a pocketful of kryptonite and a head full of hope I grabbed my things and practically ran to my meeting. My mum came too and patiently browsed the whole of the Oxford street store whilst she waited. Again my mother knowing me better than I know myself and even though I told her i didn’t need support she came along.

I handed Martin some of my many documents about everything from a couple of years to start with and it felt as though I had given him a live hand grenade that i had been waiting to go off. He immediately realised the severity of the situation and told me to report to him Monday as he didn’t want me going back to the store whilst an investigation took place.

It was awful not being able to make sure my work colleagues were okay. I panicked that in my absence he would pick on someone else or threaten someone to lie about what they had seen. I was in the dark in a completely different way this time. The only person I saw was the guy who was assaulted. He randomly appeared one day when I was at the leadenhall store which I had been given temporary management over whilst the investigation went on. I asked if he was okay. He said the boss had been telling people I had been sacked for messing with him or for being rubbish at my job etc. I wasn’t around to say otherwise of course so I knew that might make others worry about their own statements. He asked me that if he told the truth about what happened to him, would the boss lose his job. I said “what do you think. If it happened to a work colleague of yours. would you think that was acceptable?” he said no and then asked “do you think he would lose his job?’ And I said well do you think he should for what he did to you ? and he said yes And I said “well there’s your answer.

For a while I was at Leadenhall and luckily was surrounded by more amazing staff who were kinda caught up in the middle of this oddness. I panicked every day that my old boss would be outside and punch me square in the face or worse. Then the day of his questioning came and my partner, now husband, came to the shop and simply waited so I felt safe until it was done ready to protect me from evil should it appear.

My regional came to tell me my old boss was no longer an employee of the company. I had slayed the Dragon and released myself from 4 years of bullying and harassment and others too.

Not long after that I was given my much coveted Store Manager role.My regional saying I would have got it sooner but was quite clearly being held back by the slayed boss.

I hadn’t spoke to the team as per agreement during the investigation but then I felt odd. I hated being away from them as I believed I had let them down. I wasn’t there to protect them from him.

Christmas was just around the corner and the wonderful John was manager of Moorgate. The team finally got the manager they deserved. Fun, hard working and not a bully. He invited me to the Christmas party and I felt lost. It was his team now. I didn’t want to step on his toes even though he was adamant I wasn’t. But would the team even want me there?. Some of them legitimately liked the old boss . They would hate me for sure. What happens if HE turned up to attack me if I showed up. So many thoughts. Eventually and with much convincing I decided to go. Mini panic attacks and looking over my shoulder all the way there.

I got to the door and held my breath for a second before entering. I could see the tables full of people. Ones I knew and then Christmas temps. I meekly walked over hoping to blend in but as I approached everyone got up and started clapping and cheering. A teary eyed work colleague coming towards me with a big hug saying “you’re my f@#$ing hero” and everyone calling me a warrior etc. I was gobsmacked. I sat down and tried to take it all in. I listened as the colleagues told me about their own individual investigations where they had to give their own statements and corroborate any parts of mine where they might have been witnesses. We then drank and ate food and I left understanding more of the impact my actions had made.

Not long after the New Year my beloved HMV collapsed and I lost my job of 15 years and was simultaneously diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was a Tuesday because I remember thinking how appropriate those Baz Luhrman lyrics were regarding lifes worries.

“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that Never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday”

I was blindsided.
But I proudly got the store manager position in the end through blood, sweat and tears. Maybe more than some of you knew about (if you’ve made it this far and are still reading)

I used to have nightmares about my old boss killing me, over and over again, waking up in a pool of sweat. Once I had counselling after my cancer op and talked about it all he went from this towering murdering menace in my mind to a nothing. This is why I made a solemn vow to never bully or to allow bullying to happen with my teams. Ever. Even if the physical assault stops the damage to the mind doesn’t stop and can cause irrevocable damage.

That’s it in a nutshell haha! There’s more details but ain’t nobody got time for that !
I have met so many amazing people because of hmv and I’ll never forget the great ones but I’ll always remember the sociopaths and the narcissists and I’ll take them down, again and again.

Good will always triumph over evil.

And the moral of this story is…

Never give up the good fight ❤

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By shazkira

DON’T COPY MY ANSWERS

(Although a seemingly angry outburst of a title it will make much more sense at the end.)

Mental health awareness day was a frustrating wheel of chaos and confusion. For every personal experience or thoughtful shared post I saw ones calling out these as vacuous, unsympathetic and attention seeking as opposed to truly caring.

For every person I saw find a platform to give a tiny part of themselves to the ether in attempt to feel less alone, I saw people who also have serious conditions not say a word and remain in the background.

I took all sides on board as I realise that even though the world has a certain constant or pattern to it, the people inhabiting it are somewhat less predictable.

My conclusion came at 11.30pm whilst listening to the rain outside my window, washing away the day.

BE EXCELLENT TO EACHOTHER.

Bill & Ted, 1989 with one very simple ideal for life and yet 29 years later we are still being predominantly anything but.

We have gone from

“if you don’t have anything nice to say to..” to

” you have the right to say anything you want.” to “you can’t say that” and finally to the point where even if you try to say something nice you will have thousands of faceless people ready to rip you apart for even attempting the aforementioned Excellence.”

CAN WE ALL JUST LAY OFF EACHOTHER?

It’s utterly exhausting watching this wierd life competition.

If you are my friend it’s because I consider you to be the owner of awesome qualities. I’m not friends with people who enjoy other peoples misery. You are all so different and creative and have your own light to shine and yet I see you constantly battling to be the best, look the best, have the cleverest kids, have the biggest/cleanest house, the happiest relationship, the best car, the best phone or the most expensive holiday.

NONE of that matters to me if it DOESN’T bring you happiness. I just want all of you beautiful souls to be happy and healthy.

My friend Louise shared a meme which hit a chord with me as I see it so often online and I feel sad that it’s an every day occurrence.

“Life is the most difficult exam.

Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realising that everyone has a different question paper.”

The only common denominator between you all is that you have good hearts. Besides that you are all travelling a separate and very unique journey. No matter how incredible yours is it isn’t necessarily transferable, in whole or in part to anyone else you know, no matter how alike they may seem.

So don’t copy my answers or even try to answer my questions for me. We are both on different paths and friends want each other to succeed, so we need to be cheerleaders to one another instead of back seat drivers.

Instead of asking me or any of your friends next time you see them “when you having kids?” or “when are you getting married?” or “when are you getting a Better job?” how about just asking how the other person is and not accepting ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ as their full answer?

Let’s just all be excellent to eachother.

By shazkira

Unlike He-man I DON’T have the power 👎

As I’m now a country bumpkin there are certain things I can’t control or situations that might not normally happen in a city. A farmer ploughed through the power cable on Sunday so we had a power outtage. The one time I could star gaze with absolutely no haze and it was cloudy 😂. Then they got a mega Optimus prime style generator which has been keeping everyone powered up until 7.30am this morning when the alternator went and we were again without power.

Within this time I’ve realised that I should probably get an actual watch (instead of relying on my phone for time updates) I’ve spent more time outside and sat reading books by candlelight and just enjoyed the silence (how very Depeche mode of me).

Is there anything more magical and serene than looking up at the moon in the midnight sky whilst sitting in a room lit only by candles, no background noise just… stillness of being.

If there is.. I look forward to experiencing that too. Technology is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes just existing between stars and candlelight is all I want and all I need.

By shazkira

Sunnytown

I woke up this morning with the pressures of life weighing a little too heavy on my soul.

My usual two cups of coffee to kick start my brain didn’t help. Standing at the bus stop wiping tears away, thankful that it’s windy so I can blame the weather for the water leaking from my eyes.

People have always told me I talk too much. This has been intended in both cruel and kind contexts.

The truth is I do like to be quiet but it’s so hard to get my mind to comply. Over thinking everything down to the minutae and then looking at the time and realising I have 2 hours sleep to get me through the next 24 hours.

Talking to other people means I’m getting out

of my own head and into the mutual conversation space we occupy during our interaction.

But I don’t really like talking about anything too personal. I love talking about the 80s, music, nature or even things that seem banal to others like the weather.

This morning I had no one to talk to. So I was trapped inside my own mind slowly torturing myself.

They say we are a product of our environment and yet I have come from a family full of love and support so it makes no sense to feel this isolated as they are always there.

Music always moves my soul but I can also use it to help force out any negative energy if I’m feeling overwhelmed. So I put on Deaf Havana ‘Anemophobia Pt 2.’

The lyrics resonate and flow through me.

“I know I’m growing old, cos the cracks begin to show and I wonder where did 25 years go”

“I see it now and I’m asking for help but only I can fix myself”

“My friends who’ve suffered tragedy and terminal disease but they still laugh about the bad because the good is all they see”

“I see it now and I’m asking for help but only I can fix myself. I see it now”

I look up and see the cloud dominating the sky and wonder if the weather is reflecting my feelings. And then a break in the cloud and sun blinds me. So I close my eyes and let it warm my skin and think that even the sun has trouble shining sometimes. It’s big and full of gas.. not unlike myself…and yet some days it’s only grey we see but without it’s presence we would be in total darkness. And even though it’s faced with a cloud filled sky it keeps trying to break through. I just need to be like the sun (but on a much smaller scale).

Some days like today I just won’t be as bright and full of light. Some days the clouds will take over and dull my outlook but I just need to keep trying to break through. And if you don’t see my usual optimistic self just remember she is there but behind the clouds for a little while.

By shazkira

My love song to the high-waisted jeans of wonderfulness. ❤

A.K.A. The ballad of “don’t you love it when you FINALLY find something doesn’t exacerbate your negative body image?”

As I approach my 39th birthday I’m stuck in this constant game of body pong where I am the ball, bouncing between weights and shapes and have no self control or real desire to change AND YET…I am always shocked when I look horrific in clothing.
You see I’m physically approaching 39 but my body, in my mind is still, at the very most, late 20’s (hears tumbleweed rolling around your brain whilst you try not to laugh).
And I think that, daily, even though when I stand infront of a mirror it looks as though 20 year old me, ate the 19 year old version of me, WHOLE!!
THIS *indicates to whole body* is a direct result of that very wierd, time travel cannibalism.

As the world of fashion dictates EVERYTHING is skinny fit and unless I want to shop at M&S I wont find anything that isn’t this way. Even though I could shop there, the 39 year old me (who thinks that the actual me is still in her 20’s) feels she is no way old enough to shop there.
38 year old me, in skinny fit, looks as though I’ve raided someone’s wardrobe who is at least 4 sizes smaller than me!

In my job I get through jeans quite quickly so can’t afford buying really expensive jeans, to possibly get a better cut, only to have them covered in slime and forever retain a very dubious stain which I have to keep explaining until I can afford a new pair and I work in retail, so that would be? *calculates rapidly* .. never!
I am therefore a slave to the reasonably priced outlets of the world.

Everytime I purchase a pair of what is, let’s be honest, a very plus size pair of jeans, the ONLY fit I can find is skinny or (for a massive variation) SUPER SKINNY *hears virtual crowd roar with excitement*. As if that wasn’t bad enough trying to pour myself into a plus size that is anything but plus they then also make it fashionably low on the waist. Ahhh yes of course that makes sense!!?!
For the duration of the life of said jeans all I do is HOIST, put out some stock, hoist, serve a customer, HOIST AGAIN…but are they ever sufficiently pulled up? NO… NEVER! No amount of hoisting of these vile cut leg coverings will EVER be enough. I hoisted the rubbish black tubes of torture sooo much the other week I ripped a hole in the waistband so my underwear could be seen! Now I know that some of you will be muttering “Why don’t you just get a belt fattie?” Well, it’s not really a solution, for a belt that rest on the hips sits under the problem area thus it only creates more resistance to hoist up! And I have to bend up, down and around in work as though I’m some kind of merchandise focused yoga instructor. So I don’t want a belt and buckle digging into me every 5 minutes. And the more you hoist a pair of new black jeans the more black dye you get on your hands and back and forth you go to wash your hands and the circle never ends.

UNTIL THIS VERY THURSDAY!

I walked into my local purveyor of poorly cut pantaloons to purchase my monthly disappointment, went to the lowest shelf, for the largest size, bend down, bend up HOIST ahh and the rip just gets bigger..
Pick up the size I always get in a high waist which only had the options SKINNY OR SUPER RIDICULOUSLY SKINNY FIT. I opt for the first cut. Which isn’t really a choice but I have learnt from popular music that ‘the first cut is the deepest’ and my thighs need deepness!
I leave the new pair for the following day and bimble around the rest of the day with holes in the jeans inbetween my thighs, waistband and all belt hooks broken from previously mentioned hoisting. Friday morning I get to work and change expecting the usual ‘Muriel from Muriels wedding trying to get into her trousers’ moment but NO! THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. Not only do the jeans slide on fine BUT they aren’t stupidly tight on the ankles and the best part is I hoisted maybe once the entire day! This immediately lifted my mood from chunky monkey to SVELTE SALES GODDESS (haha kind of).

Nothing was sticking out or spilling over, no parents getting an unwanted flash of the top of my knickers, in summary I was fully contained within my garment! This has not happened for quite some time.

I must now go post haste to the shop again and purchase 12 pairs of these beloved bottoms because I fear they will be the unicorn of the jeans world. Beautiful and possibly imaginary.

To my new jeans, thank you so much for coming into my life and giving me a sense of feeling.. complete. Filling the holes and gaps in my existence with expansive material. And though the clothing dye on my hands may fade eventually, the dye you have left on my heart (and all of my upper thighs) will never wash off. Please stay with me always and remain as bold as the day I brought you home. I will never covet another pair of jeans as much (except the Levis that I bought in Florida in 1990 something). Please try to diffuse the friction caused by my thighs constantly arguing and remain firmly upright so I have no cause to hoist you and possibly cause a split.

I love you my twin dark tunnels of wonder.

Forever yours,
Shazkira

By shazkira

“You give a little love..”

A story of how 🎼”If you give a little love then it all comes back to you” 🎼
Two ladies came in first thing, mother and daughter. They looked super nice as though they might be going out somewhere other than shopping. So I told them how fabulous they looked and it turns out they were only shopping but like looking good. Then later on an older lady initially wearing shades came and asked me about paint brushes. We don’t sell them but as she mulled over where to go next she took her shades off and I noticed how lovely her eye make up was. I said to her how it really complimented her eye colour and really  made her eyes POP and that she shouldn’t keep her shades on cos people were missing it. She looked startled and then a little emotional and she said quietly “You’ve just made my whole day”. That wasn’t my intention I just thought WOW when she took off her shades. She went off smiling and still slightly shocked.
My delivery driver appeared not long after having walked the long way round and looking hilariously unamused that I didn’t open the back door. I explained I was lone trading so couldn’t get to him and he made a joke about  lunch and I said I’d have to eat on the go and then I laughed as I suddenly remembered I had failed to pick up lunch. Oh well I chuckled. He signed the paperwork and then told me he would go get me lunch when he had a gap in deliveries. I thanked him and he returned not long after with a sandwich a drink. He wouldn’t accept my money and just bid me a good day.
Smiles repaid with sandwiches!! Pay it forward and it will come right on back ❤
🎼”If you give a little love then it all comes back to you” 🎼

By shazkira

Check 1, 2 ..

I suppose I assumed that each check up would get easier and easier. Even though it’s painful and invasive it’s another step away from the cancer coming back each time… right? Yet as the next appointment gets closer I can feel myself regressing into a dark place. The recurring nightmares I originally had starting from diagnosis right through to the operation and then recovery. Your aim is to get to the 5 year mark. 5 years clear and the odds are very low that it will come back… right? 

So much has happened since they told me what they found. So many life changes and hurdles that I’ve overcome. And oh so many things to be grateful for and yet, behind all I project outwards from my pink hair to my positive attitude and dancing feet.. there’s a part of me that is utterly, and overwhelmingly petrified. Every time I go there the nurses are lovely. They are sometimes ex-pupils of my mum’s. There’s lots of lovely conversations but ultimately I am a complete emotional mess and convinced that the doctor will return and say those fateful words she said back in 2013. “We’ve found Cancer”. And Every time I’ve been they never say those words. It’s always fine. And it will be this time… right?
I am very lucky to have such an amazing support network and have survived where others were diagnosed too late.
I’ve put these thoughts into a lil blog because I know there’s far too many people going through similar things with all manner of ailments both seen and unseen. Sharing my state of mind so you see that I am human and not some unstoppable, unicorn obsessed, 80’s throwback. Most days I am Battlecat but today the cringer side of has TEMPORARILY taken hold. Once my check up has been and gone and the results come back fine as they usually do I’ll be back to my annoying, babbling, frequent posting, big hair obsessed self. But for now, If I seem distracted or off you’ll understand why. Love to you all x

By shazkira

Ghostwatch: AKA ‘The night I stopped trusting Michael Parkinson’

​9.25pm 31st October 1992.

I was sitting round my friend Suzanne’s house. Her mum is Canadian so she was massively into Halloween, far more than the UK was in 1992. 13 year old me had chosen to go as zombie which meant regular clothing ripped up, covered in talcum powder and fake blood. Suzanne and I played games, made cookies with the help of the pillsbury dough boy, ate way too many sugary treats then plonked down infront of the television for some post watershed, parent approved, scares. At the time satellite television wasn’t a standard in all households so viewing options were limited. But good old BBC had something spooktacular scheduled. So we, like thousands of other people across the country dressed up in bin liners and bad wigs, unwittingly turned our televisions over to ‘Ghostwatch’. We had no idea what was about to happen.

The BBC received 30,000 calls to its switchboard in a single hour and it’s not surprising. In order for the programme to be taken seriously it was staged as though it was a live documentary. Presenters and pundits that regular graced our screens were there telling us how terrible this was interviewing and observing the family who were being haunted. Presenters I trusted and loved as a child bold faced lied to me and I slowly started to panic that they were all in grave danger. Michael Parkinson himself looked uneasy and I knew that Craig Charles, Sarah Greene and Danny Baker wouldn’t lie to me. They couldn’t. Could they? As the last few minutes gathered momentum on screen I noticed that I was holding my breath. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kept saying to myself ‘no… this can’t be real..’ but if Michael Parkinson said it was… then it must be. Right up until the credits rolled I was confused, frightened and both a believe and a sceptic. To be honest once the credits started rolling and actors names were listed… I was still unsure that Parky and Greeny weren’t either (a) injured or (b) dead. Ghostwatch had successfully pulled off the best trick or treat of all time. Fooling almost an entire nation that some of their most beloved tv personalities were having a paranormal experience on live TV!

Even though my adult self knows it wasn’t real, there’s a part of my child self that refuses to let me watch it again. Just incase. The same part of my mind that refuses to let me say ‘Candy man’ 5 times into a mirror and the same bit that keeps an eye out in the fog for red eyed wanderers.

This generation may fear The Purge, The Conjuring and a day when there are no snap chat filters. But they’ll never understand how 24 years ago, for 91 minutes, our whole country was terrified of a ghost in Greater London called.. ‘Pipes’ *shudders*

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What are your Ghost watch memories? We’re you allowed to watch it? Did you believe it was really happening until the credits rolled? Have you ever watched it again?
Let me know in the comments belowwwwwww…

By shazkira

This blog is titled…”Your cervix looks very nice”

This blog is titled…”Your cervix looks very nice”
Or.. “The story of a million and one things I never expected my mother to say”.

I start this blog with a quote and I will end with one from the same song.
When you mix music and lyrics sometime the meaning gets lost in translation.
The song I am quoting from is very fast paced but full of amazing words that you might have missed.

“Don’t damn me when I speak a piece of mind, cos silence isn’t golden when I’m holding it inside.
I’ve been where I have been and I’ve seen what I have seen, I put the pen to the paper cos it’s all a part of me”.
(Lyrics from ‘Don’t damn me’ by – Guns ‘n’ Roses)

The reason why I picked this song is because I found myself worrying about writing this blog.
Someone will be offended if I am too descriptive, someone will think it isn’t right to talK about any of this publicly etc.
The fact that certain people have debated the seriousness of my condition means that possibly some of you reading this
don’t even believe I was diagnosed with cancer.
So it’s time to set the record straight. If you are not easily offended then please read on but I am giving you a heads
up that this is gonna get ugly… or beautiful.. depending on your outlook.

One of the most amazing things happened after I first revealed my condition to facebook and the blogging world.
Many of my friends contacted me telling me about their own or their loved ones experiences with cancer and how they dealt with it.
Whilst being happy these people had confided in me I felt very sad that I only learned about their pain because
I had opened up on a public forum. I don’t think that anyone should suffer alone or in silence yet.. these people had.
I also had women contact me saying that they had been avoiding their smear tests as they are horrid or had forgotten about them and after reading my status or blogs they had booked an appointment straight away.
So for any offence or awkwardness I may have caused I could also
have helped some women .

Once I was diagnosed with cervical cancer they told me I would need to have a couple of operations. One to remove the cancer itself and another one to make sure there were no pre-cancerous cells or other anomalies.
They also checked everywhere south of my lungs because once you get it in one lower area you are at high risk to get it elsewhere in the same region.
When I went in for my op and they were about to put me under when I saw them attaching the stirrups to the bed in a vertical position.
To this day I wished I hadn’t seen the position of those stirrups. It’s been the stuff of many disturbing nightmares.
Still, I suppose I at least know where all the random bruising came from.
I didn’t realise till after the op how much I needed the muscles in the lower part of my body to do day to day moving around. My sister-in-law had just given birth and I remember thinking how we were probably moving around in a similar fashion and finding it quite amusing.
Trying to do anything besides laying down or standing upright was a problematic situation. I had to perfect a lean back slight sit up position to be able to eat food otherwise I had to stand up to eat.
The doctor told me she would try and be as precise as possible with the op and only remove as much of my cervix as was necessary to get rid of all the cancer. She said as I was about to get married that she was keen to still give me a fighting chance to have kids.
Funny isn’t it.. I never thought I would be fussed about having children but the minute she told me that there was a possibility of having my baby making bits removed I was very angry. I don’t like being told what to do at the best of times but to have no choice at all?
I mean come on.. how cute would a little girl or boy with my ridiculously large hair and Josephs cheeky smile look?

Recovery came and went, managed to land a new job and I was lucky to get married relatively pain free and moving around with ease.
And what a wedding that was! The happiest day of my life. Married and newly employed with an allegedly succesful operation to remove cancer.
I was The girl who had everything…right?
Well… I wanted to be happy about the op but I knew until my follow up in September I wouldn’t be entirely convinced that everything was okay.

So like a flash the appointment day arrives. Thursday 12th 3.30pm at Queens Hospital Colposcopy department.
Mummy Regan says she will come with me. I tell her I will be fine but she comes along anyway. She knows me better than I will ever know myself.
We get taken through to the examination room and I see the stirrups.. ohh good. Well at least these ones aren’t vertical.
Just normal, horizontal, lady garden examining height.
One of the nurses was taught in school by my mother years ago so as I am getting adjusted to the right position on the bed my mum is showing her wedding photos.. You couldn’t make this up and no, mother doesn’t have a strange habit of taking wedding photos to gynaecological examinations.
She had them in her bag to show someone previous to the appointment.., at least, I hope that’s true.
So I’m there, legs akimbo and now both nurses are telling me how fantastic I looked but I am having trouble sharing their enthusiasm with everything thats going on.
What happens if I haven’t healed right? What happens if they didn’t cut all the cancer out. What happens if they still need to remove everything?
They are all making comments about my dress and hair on my wedding day and I am wishing they would just hurry up and get on with it.

There are two words that a medical professional can say in any given situation which has the exact opposite effect and they are
“JUST RELAX”.
Yeah that’s not gonna happen today. I am so tense from the hips down that I could probably break stuff. Infact I managed to fire
the speculum out just with sheer nervousness. At least I know, if everything went tits up, there is job waiting for me somewhere with ping pong balls and neon lights.
If you are of the non-female variety and wonder what a speculum is just google it.. if you dare.

Second speculum in and I am aware of my ‘image’ in my peripheral vision on the monitor. I ask if they can turn the image away.
I feel with great certainty that I will throw up if I watch the ‘action’ unfold. My mum watches the screen intently as though its the next episode of Luther.
I try with all my might to relax and then it happens…. the most intense pain I have ever felt which changes me from relaxing breather type to wailing, crying, stress ball. This is when they tell me that oh yeah, THIS IS ACTUALLY GOING TO BE VERY PAINFUL.. WHY DIDN’T THEY TELL ME THAT BEFORE?
I know why of course, if they told me I would have been even more worked up. At this point I look to my mum and feel very grateful that she is with me for I feel utterly destroyed by the pain and wonder if I will stop crying today.
The nurse holds my hand and tells me that I am very brave and I half expect a lollipop or amusing plaster to appear as a reward.
I sob like a lost child and pray that it is all over soon. They tell me that its always very painful on the first post op check up as I am still healing and there is a lot of scar tissue but that there should still be enough cervix left to able to try for a baby.
I feel like a baby, sobbing uncontrollably, looking to my mother for comfort and having strangers use big words which I don’t understand.
They say that with each procedure the pain will reduce. The doctor says that just from looking she cannot see any anomalies and that my cervix is healing nicely and this is the point when my mum says “Yes I thought your cervix looked very nice”. I am stunned slightly and not quite sure how to respond.. I choose to reply with “oh so you think it looks okay?” as though we are talking about a new skirt I’ve just bought.
They spend the next 5 minutes all saying how gorgeous and lovely it looks and I am unsure whether I am being flirted with by the nurses and have the overwhelming urge to drink alcohol and lots of it.

I am waiting for the results to make sure there is nothing invisible to the naked eye that I need to worry about. So I will hopefully be A LOT more relaxed in a few weeks. It feels like I have been waiting for this day since I was diagnosed. Physical confirmation that there is no cancer left and that all other parts of this battlestation are fully operational.
In November I go through the same routine again.. and… I.. can’t…wait. Then I will be ‘looked at’ every 6 months until I am very old. WOOHOOO!
But like Joseph said to me.. the pain is worth it if it means keeping the cancer from coming back.
I do agree with him but wish that they could just knock me out for it. It would definitely save them money on speculums being inadvertently used as projectiles.

So to the end quote for this blog:
“We take for granted we know the whole story. We judge a book by its cover and read what we want, between selected lines”

Thank you for taking the time to read this and to understand a bit more about my situation.
As humans we are really good at hiding our pain and struggling through without needing any help from anyone.
I couldn’t do this on my own and I haven’t, so for that I thank you all.

Until next time
Shazkira over and out.

By shazkira

The inadequacies of everything

I’m starting to feel inadequate with an increasing number of aspects in my life. I thought the penis enlargement emails were bad enough as it felt as though I was being mocked for my tiny, non-existent genitalia.

But it gets worse. Every day as I scroll down the Facebook news feed it feels like I’m having the girth of another appendage mocked. My very average sized finger accidentally hits a ‘suggested’ or ‘sponsored’ link and suddenly I’m whisked away to a web page filled with information I don’t want or need.

And the mocking continues when I try to send a text to a friend. Instead of something comprehensible my digits create a message filled with gobbledegook or slight innuendo and of course this is all due to the inadequacy of my NORMAL SIZED FINGER TIPS!

When my old company was becoming insolvent and it wasn’t clear if I would lose my job I text my big boss to state “I just need to know”. But my pesky predictive text and allegedly fat fingers had other ideas and instead the message came out as “I just need sex”. Well you all know I didn’t want to lose my job but I wouldn’t have tried to keep it by doing that!

To summarise, it makes me realise that technology is, in equal measures, my enemy and my friend.

They call it a smart phone yet all it does is make me feel stupid : (

By shazkira