It’s been nearly a year since I started the compilation of stories that has become my blog, and almost five years since I became Lady M’s subordinate. It’s been quite a journey but not all that bad. Some of the conditions imposed upon me have led to some interesting prerequisites. So I thought I would share with you my top hits (that I can remember) to remind us all that through the varying seasons the menopause inflicts upon us. You can still find time to laugh.

The complete and utter loss of memory. Now there are many tales of memory loss that bring cringe, laughter and embarrassment but this tale has to be in my top five. Upon joining my new department I had warned my boss, close peers and colleagues about my tendency to ‘forget’  things , names a particular bone of contention. About three months into the role in a fairly small department of 20 (ish) people, there was a bomb scare in the building. We were all evacuated to the buildings across the road until the bomb squad, police and relevant emergency services attended the scenes to quantify what this dodgy package was. Circa 2000 people all moved across to the car parks adjacent to our building, where soft drinks and refreshments were supplied until the business decided what to do with us. Much like a gang of refugees from world war two we stood firm clustered together in our specific departments. After a good few hours of keeping each other entertained with tunes such as ‘we’ll meet again’ and ‘roll out the barrel,’ those with alternative transport were told that they could leave upon authorisation from their managers. Following this much welcomed news an eager young man advance towards me full of smiles. And hope. ‘ Can I go home please Mollie?’ Yes I replied; just find your manager and let them know. ‘Mollie you are my manager’ I looked at him, nothing, no name came to me, I stared at his face, zero recollection. Now at this point I could have said ‘one sec I will get someone to record your name’, I could have blagged it, shouted someone over with a clipboard, and recorded the lad’s name, job done. NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW. Did I do that?  Did my foggy menopausal brain allow my logical, quick thinking, problem solving brain to fire up? Did it shite. I responded with this. ‘You don’t work for me’. Puzzled and obviously thinking I was having a stroke, he replied ‘ Mollie it’s me ***** ( I was going to say here I am not putting his real name  for anonymity purposes, but I actually still can’t remember it!)  Again I could have taken the obvious easy route. Again I didn’t, nay couldn’t place him, ‘Mollie’ its me **** I do work for you’, – ‘no you don’t’ – ‘yes I do’  – This pantomime went on for an embarrassingly long time, until another one of the team (who thankfully I remembered) walked over and informed me that he did work in our department and that he would log his leaving time. I couldn’t walk away fast enough. Thankfully the team saw the comedic value in it and rather than the lad being upset that I had no recollection of his name, face or general being, he laughed and laughed and laughed.  He still does every time I see him in the corridors.

The Brian Fog. Don’t mix this delightful little ditty up with memory loss. This baby has the capability to make you act, look and feel like a complete tool at the most inopportune times. Now my job involves lots of meetings and conference calls, you know the ones where someone works from home and the dog barks, someone thinks they’re giving a really good update only to find that they were on mute the whole time, or your mum, partner or kid walks in the room half way through your update interrupting with ‘mam can I some money?’ that sort of thing. Now I am a control freak, I like to plan. I normally like a room where I have access to screens, spider phones or speakers. I alleviate any risk of a Robert Kelly incident at all costs. This particular time I had to dial in at the last-minute,  which meant either that it was a late invite or I had not realised that I had accepted the invite. No big deal: I would dial in from my desk and use my earphones. Problem was I didn’t have any. I rummaged around my drawers, finding a pair deep in the back of a stash of emergency stationary. With seconds to spare I was in. Houston we didn’t have a problem. Until the chair asked me a question. Again, no big deal, I knew my stuff, this was nothing new to me. I gave my most eloquent update and sat back feeling as smug as a technical whiz-kid getting to a new level on Mario. Until they asked me was I on mute? No I wasn’t, I had checked, I repeated my update feeling the all too familiar beads of sweat creeping up my back. No. No. Calm down I said you’ve got this. Until I heard ‘no sorry Mollie we still can’t hear you’. What was wrong? I wasn’t on mute, I was connected, I could hear them, I didn’t understand; the beads of sweat rapidly turned into a stream. I looked at my colleague on the same call sat next to me with a now desperate, puzzled look. I put myself on mute. ‘Can you hear me Jules, I asked?’  Well, yeah but I am sat right next to you, she replied. Together we checked the internet connection, the headphones plugged into correct hole, all the usual stuff that could be hindering my communicaton . Nothing.

‘ One second,’ I said, ‘I will try again’ – maybe the microphone was blocked on the headphones. I picked them up and started blowing into the earphone; a bit like the scene to Bridget Jones blowing into the microphone only to discover it wasn’t switched on; picture that  and you’ve got the gist. It was cringe. ‘Can you hear me now?’ Still nothing. Carry on I said and get back to me in a bit. I continued my quest to find the issue, after much blowing at the headphones followed by me speaking into the cord saying, One – Two – One – Two….  Jules leaned over and picked up the cord. ‘There’s no bloody microphone on the headphones,’ she said, ‘how bloody old are they!!!’ In between belly laughs and being unable to breathe we gave my updates with a nifty use of the mute button and Jules acting like my translator which just about got the message through, after which I ran to the toilet to dry up the remnants of the hottest flush ever.

The forgetfulness. As we all hurtle towards middle age this is part and parcel of our daily regime: where’s my keys, have I forgot my phone, is the front door locked, are the cats in?? You know the drill. In my quest to beat the middle-aged dread and spread; I have taken to going to the gym each morning before work. This not only helps me fight the flab it’s also good for my soul, it puts me in a good mood and sets me up for the day ahead. When it goes to plan. Now I don’t know about you lot but as Aunt Flo’s visit creeps closer each month, Lady M ramps up her ramifications. It’s a doublet with cataclysmic conclusions. I become weepier, more bloated, more anxious,  even more bloated ,  angrier and more forgetful. This week I have been blessed with a tandem visit from my two perpetrators.  It’s my turn. My time of the month. It’s not been a bad one so far all told; other than being a little impatient with myself and others, whilst approximating a pot-bellied pig.

The main impact this month has been to my memory. Not once but twice this week I have been caught short, as it were. Leading to some obscure choices due to forgetfulness.  After my workout I love to go back to the changing rooms put the music on, and proceed with the leisurely routine of getting ready. Now I’m pretty low maintenance; a quick shower, light dusting of bronzer, hair up and I am good to go in under ten minutes. That is if I have remembered the essentials. You know like a towel or underwear. Yes, not once during this period, actual period,  I have forgotten these two essentials. Now let me ask you ladies. If say you had forgotten your towel and had completed a really sweaty workout; with Aunt Flo dealing her worst and a wet wipe not cutting the mustard,  which option would you choose? Option A. No shower. Not an option, Aunt Flo’s flow is to damning at the best of the times; add in Peri-menopause, flow turns to flood. Option B. Use one of the towels left behind  by those who either has shares in Matalan or has given up fighting the flab. Mmmm maybe but on seconds thoughts; no. Gross right. Option C. Run around the changing room until you’re dry. Mmmm Safer option; as I was alone, stupid and had an 8:00am. There I was running up and down using Lycra leggings to cover my tuppence, mouthing ‘nut bush city limits’ as the cleaner walked in. ‘Sorry’ I said face already red from too much exertion, hot shower and pretending to be Tina Turner, ‘I forgot my towel,’  ‘Oh.’ she said, ‘might have been better if you had gone into the next room and used the hand dryer.’ Following this cringe experience I vowed to ensure that I’d never forget my towel again. And I didn’t: I forgot my Bra. Now for those of you blessed with double A’s or a nice looking set of C’s this may seem no biggy. Mine however;  are colossal,  as Aunt Flo was sojourning they were bigger than ever, reminiscent of the  Mitchell brothers. I often tell them to ‘Git outa my pub.’ They never listen.  Lady luck was in attendance this day as I had chosen to bring in two tops, one that would have gotten me arrested  sans bra and another that was high-necked and would need the imagination of a pubescent sixteen year old to rustle up any lewd images. Great, this  would be fine bra-less, fine.  Fine that is if using your nipples as hip muffs have suddenly become en-trend. There was nothing else I could do; I would have to wear my sweaty sports bra. And I did and only I and Natalie knew about it. To be fair it was actually really comfy and kept the brothers nicely imprisoned all day.

The hot flush. A trip to London in its self is enough to bring on my panic attacks, self-doubt and anxiety. Couple this with travelling with the world’s most un-organised gay man and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. My pervious trip to London had seen me flying solo, however despite having the row of rows leading to nil communication from Ian; a call from my daughter in law saying my son was in hospital, and a mini panic attack as the train pulled into King’s Cross: did I have my ticket? Where was the hotel? Could I handle the tube? What if there was a terrorist attack?? I had coped. Which, let me tell you, is no mean feat when you have the imagination of Steven King mixed with Nostradamus.

The next trip down I had company as Clarus couldn’t be there to meet me, Steve would replace her. Good stuff: not only would this keep my over-active mind occupied during the journey, he himself being a well-travelled lad would assist in the navigation across London. Or so I assumed. Steve is one of my new team members and he has slotted right in as if he had never not been there. Within a few weeks of him joining the team, we all had affectionate if not slightly UN-PC nick names for each other, life tales were shared and unbreakable bonds made. Who better to accompany me on this trip; not only does he know his onions, (workwise) the comforting thought of having a companion to while away the hours on the train journey and help me weave my way through the streets of London would be a welcome change. Or so I thought. That was my first mistake. I assumed that as Steve was always telling us about his holiday travels, he was accustomed to navigating around cosmopolitan cities without the need of a copy of the lonely traveller or a map.  He would keep me calm; help me push any anxious thoughts out-of-the-way and be a supportive shoulder.

Things started well: after I found out which tube we needed, how to find the way to the hotel and steered us around Winter Wonderland without incident we headed back to the hotel for an early night. The next day we attended the meeting; I found our way there too. I mean,  I have been to London loads of times, often on my own and have blended in like a native with no issues at all.  Two days with Steve I had lost all ability to use the underground, felt the need to search for addresses on Google maps and experienced the biggest hot flush to date. Following the meeting we had no rush back to the station as we had an open ticket and the trains were hourly. Great, this meant we could have a stress free walk to Kings Cross avoiding the hot crammed tubes at rush hour. Result. We had missed our preferred train, however not to worry. I advised Steve that we had a booked seat; open ticket for the way back. Now everyone knows what a booked seat, open ticket means: right?  Ok I won’t assume, I will explain. As we had missed our booked seated place,  we could still get a train but we would need to find a seat, as it was an open ticket we could get on any train up until midnight. We waited for the next available train, watching the screens showing the seating availability as intensely as an episode of ‘YOU’ on Netflix.  We had stood all the way from Newcastle to London on the way down and no way were we doing that again. All but one carriage was full, and that one had limited seating. Not to worry, we had plenty time, we would be first through that gate. We headed to the train focussing on the carriage that had seating. Now those more fortunate and the celebs amongst us will know its first class at the top end and then you go down the alphabet towards the end of the carriages in alphabetical order, everyone knows that right? Not Steve. Oh no; every two seconds, ‘we need to get on! we need get on!’ ‘No we don’t Steve ours is the last carriage. Carriage D’. On and on he continued ‘We haven’t got a seat, we need to get on! we need to get on!’ again, ‘no Steve the only carriage with seats is the second  last one, remember?’ Approaching the carriage with the only availability I scanned the area faster than a shopper at the Next Boxing Day sale and found two seats, sitting together, free. RESULT. On we hopped, now at this point I was a little flushed as the experience with Steve had given me a flash back of my three-year old grandson in the back of car repeating ‘are we there yet, are we there yet?’  Not to worry, we were seated and I could start de-layering.  Suddenly Steve announced, ‘We’re on the wrong train, we’re on the wrong train!! ’ And I believed him, so convincing was his cry; I took in every word and took part in the drama like a theatre lovey in an am-dram of Othello. Off the train we dashed, grabbing coats, hats, gloves and suitcases pushing past the quizzical passengers observing us with a mixture of disbelief and hope; hope for our seats, we bounded onto the platform. There we were stood alongside the carriages and the engine noise, with the smell of oil,  steam blowing. Me, fat sweaty and nearly crying, Steve, flapping, running up and down waving his ticket in the air shouting ‘I’ll ask a conductor.’  A mixture of a scene from Downton Abbey  and Carry on up the Carriage.  After I had mopped up my  tears, sweat and nearly Steve’s blood. I took back charge. ‘Steve, its fine, these tickets are for any train remember?’ ‘Quick!’ he panicked, ‘let’s jump back on!’. NO! No way was I getting back on the same carriage: One – the seats had gone and two – the people in that carriage were already waiting with bated breath to see what calamity these two clowns would deliver up next. We would take our chances on another carriage. After steering us to the quiet Zone we found some seats and just as my temperature had dropped to 100 degrees, Steve piped up… ‘Mollie, can I just ask about this  train?’. ‘No, Steve. No you can’t;  you can talk again at York and not before!’ And that’s what I call Molliepause.

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