Shelly’s Bush: A Story of Being Led Down The Garden Path

The Hydrangea is a plant native to countries such as Japan, China, the mystical mountains of the Himalayas and Edmonton North London! Forgive my sarcastic tone as I have so obviously exclaimed that Edmonton isn’t as fragrant in sight or smell as some of the other destinations I’ve mentioned but I’m sure as you read on you will understand my reason for this.

Imagine a suburban garden laced with sleepy lavender and Hydrangea bushes in full majestic bloom; a little haven of tranquillity and escape for my cousin (The other Shelly) who marvels in their beauty each morning as she sips her first cup of Yorkshire Tea. Now imagine whilst at work, Shelly receives a phone call with the devastating news that some random fella came along and mercilessly cut down her bush!

The Bush Hacker of Edmonton knocks on the door and Shelly’s mum Auntie Gina, answers and he says, “Your blooms are lovely, can I cut a couple to take home”? Auntie Gina is a 74-year old woman who remembers what it was like to trust your neighbours and not lend them some sugar but give it to them. “Of course you can”, she says and goes back to her morning dose of Jeremy Kyle. Not the crime of the century so you won’t find a helicopter hovering over the area as is usual when tracking down herb or plant ‘enthusiasts’ in that area. But still…

The Bush Hacker of Edmonton didn’t just clip one or two of these pink blooms that elegantly transform into rich russet; no he cuts the lot…the bush had been stripped naked. How is it so easy for people to stunt the growth of something so beautiful without a conscience? Do they have any idea how long it takes for roots to be embedded deep enough for you to stand strong? Why would anyone want to cut the abundant petals as they start to appear? And how can you rip away something that is blooming lovely?

It is unimaginable to me that there are those who instead of becoming beautiful themselves would rather hack away at others making them feel ugly and indeed replace their floral view with barren twigs; stiff, dull and in desperate need of nourishment to grow once more. Well, the magic of growth is that all living things do in good time, so I say let the ‘Hackers’ revel in their own manure… those that flourish with purity will acquire a sweeter aroma.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2013

A Parting Isn’t Such Sweet Sorrow – Memoirs Of An Ex-Hairdresser

“I adore you”! You do? Why? Self-doubt seems to be an epidemic of massive proportions and at some time in our lives we all suffer from this soul suffocating disease. You may be surprised at how many people actually feel like they are not worthy of love, a chance, a future and peace of mind. Chaos is the main symptom of self-doubt, chaos that resulted from a childhood with the absence of freedom and innocence and chaos that is transferred from others whose insecurities are passed off as yours; why shouldn’t you feel as bad as they do right???

For me, self-doubt stems from my childhood and the day I came home after passing a really important exam; with a skip in my step I was really looking forward to sharing the news with my dad. I only got one question wrong in the exam I worked so hard to pass, so imagine how I felt when he ignored the fact that I achieved my goal and all he could say was, “Why did you get a question wrong”? I was a girl who hung on her dads every word and wanted to make him happy but it seems I did fail and for any child this is crushing.

I am able to reflect on things in a more positive way now and I think that secretly he was really pleased but as a child you don’t  have the insight to understand what people are really thinking yet you are convinced by their words which are even more damaging. Doubting your abilities affects your future and you are vigorously thrown off course wondering if the dreams you built up in your head are as realistic as you imagined them to be.

So what do you do? You become a hairdresser…well that’s my story! Yep, you cut, create and become a counsellor to the patient sitting in the salon chair. I look back on those days with fondness as these women that came in to be beautified gave me so much writing material with their life stories; how could I have known that then? As I cut and coloured I would go off in a world of my own, always thinking. You see beneath all that doubt and peroxide I knew there was something else waiting to be unleashed, it’s called self-belief.

That self-belief manifests as long as you keep moving, attempt to understand and knowing when to walk away from something that makes you feel like doubt is creeping back in. My journey from hairspray to harmony was a sticky one but it was eventful and those moments meant something even the ones that I’d rather forget.

Writing is a form of movement and as I write this I am reminded of my first client as a budding hairdresser. Gilda Cohen played the midget in the 1980 classic film The Elephant Man. She was so small that I had to lift her on the salon chair; that’s what you call customer service! Funny how I once supported an actress and now I find myself supporting the film industry by writing reviews, that I hope, will encourage others to watch too. I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me that’s what I’d be doing…I believe it now.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2013

Call of Duty v The Call of Your Woman : And The Winner is…

It’s sad when marriages and relationships reach the point of no return. Among the top 10 reasons for these irretrievable breakups is boredom. I’d love to know what bores men in the marital or shared home but as I’m a woman I can only guess. There are many more deep and emotionally disturbing reasons and each painful story we hear doesn’t make for easy listening. We are lead to believe that there were less divorces back in the day because family values and the vows made before God meant that you had a duty to see things through; I’m sure there is some truth in that belief but I’m going to look at things from a slightly different angle.

I blame the boredom so many women have to endure daily on technology. Whilst innovative technology has proved to be an absolute god send in so many areas of our lives it has also turned the most interesting, attentive and enthusiastic men into complete strangers. I’m going to take this theory all the way back to the light bulb, I never thought seeing the light would be a negative but before Thomas Edison’s invention people went to bed earlier giving them more time together…the reason perhaps for so many large families?

The remote control is my next perpetrator! Glued to his hand he is the only one able to decipher the worn out buttons after pressing them so much. Women up and down the country feeling like they are second best to the LCD TV that takes up an entire wall, not knowing if he feels your presence in the room or worse he knows and asks you for a cup of tea…babe! We are now in a sorrier state than before and the remote control and pestiferous plasma are just the start of things to come.

You have all become widows of FIFA13/14 and Call of Duty your men wishing they could use their size nine’s like Messi and fight like Rambo; meanwhile your soldier is lost in action gone A.W.O.L and you have no idea when he will be home on leave. He’s up all night competing with people he’s never even met and prefers these invisible souls to the girl he once bent over backwards for and wooed incessantly to win over. He has no idea that his opponent isn’t the only one he is crushing…

Men are visual creatures and when something catches their eye they will look, I would find it strange if they didn’t. The problem, I believe, is that they aren’t looking at you anymore. You find yourself saying, “But all they could see was me before”. “He couldn’t keep his eyes off me”. “He’s changed”. It’s true that many (not all) women crave attention and lap it up when a man gives her what she wants but maybe he doesn’t feel he has to…anymore.

He thinks you should already know what he sees in you but now and then we have a need to be reminded; trouble is men don’t like repeating themselves. Interesting really as they don’t mind playing the same game over and over. I’m not saying they shouldn’t play just that balance and mutual understanding takes time and effort if he or she is worth it. To console means to alleviate sorrow but fellas you have been mislead; the games console you’re having a fling with will bring you nothing but grief. Switch it off from time to time and switch on to the Call of Your Woman!

© Michelle Sotiriou 2013

My Travels: When In Rome

Ever had an Eat Pray Love moment when you just want to disappear and discover yourself? I had one of those moments and decided on Rome as the city where I would attempt to find me. My first solo trip abroad just happened to be in one of the most romantic cities in the world; I certainly don’t do things by halves but the only love affair I had on that memorable trip was with Italy. It was one of the best decisions I ever made but really, did I think I’d get by with my little how to speak Italian hand book and not even read it before I set off on my adventure? Actually it made for more fun!

After landing in Italy, I spent at least twenty minutes trying to muster up the courage to hail a taxi. Luckily, a girl I met on the plane asked me if I wanted a lift….phew was my first thought, what am I doing she’s a stranger was my second and my third thought came to me when I saw my mode of transport was a mini…blimey, it’s the Italian job!!

Well, what a city! The Sistine Chapel is stunning but be ready for the neck ache from looking up at the beautiful art work on its ceiling for too long. Eating an ice cream whilst sitting by the Trevi Fountain is a must (I did that twice) and oh the Colloseum! When you first see it, it takes your breath away and once you are inside there is an overwhelming feeling that Maximus Decimus Meridius is about to appear and charge across on his trusty steed; but Russell Crowe was nowhere to be seen yet I felt his presence and every other gladiator that fought in this ghostly arena.

As you already know, I didn’t bother to read the handbook so ordering food was an experience. I endeavored to order what I thought was Carbonara from the menu. The word ‘Crema’ in my native language of Greek is associated with savoury food, however not so in Italy. The waiter and I totally got our wires crossed and shortly after attempting to order a pasta extravaganza I was presented with a dessert covered with lashings of cream. My heart sank and anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don’t have a sweet tooth; I wasn’t having a bellissmo momento!

Seated on the table next to me were ‘The Golden Girls’ all the way from the USA with matching baseball caps and glitzy tracksuits. These three, kind warm-hearted American dolls offered to share their food with me. They called me honey with an accent that could only have come from the ‘Deep South’…fiddle e dee!!! I felt like Scarlett O’Hara from my favourite film ‘Gone with the wind’. The hard times behind me and hope finally in sight her famous quote from the film came to mind as my stomach rumbled…loudly:

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again”.