Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Whores or Madonnas?

I don't usually like being identified firstly as a mother. In Italy being a mother entitles one to an almost saintly status. You can be treated as a holy madre or, well, the opposite. Whores or Madonnas? The Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene? Which team are you on?

So I wasn't sure about chasing down the big British web site Mumsnet.com. I was worried it would be a forum for late fussy mothers, eco-warrior mums, mums-with-views. I've been ad hoc in the twenty-three years I've been doing it. And far from saintly most of the time.

But Mumsnet found me. A while back I stumbled upon this huge organisation, signed up and forgot about it. Then just before the book came out they sent an encouraging email saying, We see you have a book coming out! We love it when our bloggers publish books! How lovely was that?

Every so often one of my posts makes it to the bloggers' home page, and I confess I could spend half the day reading interesting women's blogs and have hooked up with some venerable ladies. (There are also some blokes, though I haven't really chased any down.)

And let's face it: we all blog these days. Everyone is writing one. They are as natural and ongoing as conversations over the fence, on the phone, at the bar. Most blogs are written by women, read by women. But what makes one blog count more than another, last longer than another, notch a little higher and become relevant? (I think of planktonlife, a brilliant blog I follow when I remember, now a Times column). What is it about this explosion of words and presences and identities that has us all tapping at our screens?

In September I signed up for the inaugural Mumsnet Blogfest, thinking it would be a great excuse to pop over to London and hawk my book, but also a tangible way to learn more about the art of blogging. Some tricks of the trade, and perhaps a hook up with some other bloggers.

Last week I received the programme. Apart from a series of fabulous speakers and a spectacular location, take a look:

Registration opens at 9am, and the first session starts at 9.30am. There will be tea, coffee & pastries, as well as yummy smoothies provided by our friends at Innocent drinks & a copy of the Times for each of you...

Lunch - There will be a hot buffet lunch, from 12.20-1.30, and this will be served in the fantastic Skyloft space, with amazing views across the city. Over lunch, and coffee breaks, do take the opportunity to drop into our Blog Clinic for some expert advice, and check out the activities that our select group of sponsors have developed for you..

Reception - At 5.15 we’ll decamp to the River Room for a drinks reception fuelled with prosecco & wine from our friends at Pizza Express, juices from Innocent Drinks and splendid platters of cheese courtesy of the British Cheese Board.

Going home with goodies - The day will wrap up about 6.30ish, and before you head off into the night, don’t forget to collect your goody bag which is crammed full of goodies from Boden, Green & Blacks, Nails Inc & much more..

I'm feeling really chuffed! This messy writer has been counting the tractors pass on that yonder field for the past few restless weeks. Or ferrying the troops in and out of town and enjoying sports such as watching a new gas tank bolted onto the cement. What to wear? The beloved (and frayed) Paul Smith skirt with red Russian embroidery and my towering blue secretary heels? Or my 1euro secondhand jeans and coffee-coloured plastic boots for the expected showers?

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary?


  1. Power to all the Mary Magdalenes! I'm with you, sisters!
    As one far from saintly mother to another - this is another great post.
    I joined Mumsnet too - and quickly forgot about it. They haven't remembered me at all Cat. Sob. I was always a bit suspicious of it to be honest. All those Stepford wife types - the perfect cupcake women - the recipe bloggers lecturing me on cooking with courgettes (Oh! so that's what they're for!!) - the fundamentalist mothers with their neurotically programmed wains - the saintly women who sacrificed themselves for their DH and DD and DS.
    Jeez I was full of prejudice. A real towering lack of tolerance - bad me.
    But it's not all bad - especially with the swag bags and lots of lunches...
    I love those towering heels Cat. But whatever you wear, you will rock!

    1. Oh Yvonne I wish you were here so we could rock the tower! But I'm sure I found you on mumsnet! I really thought that's where I read one of your tag lines. Can't remember, but will.

      Please what is DH and DD and DS? More shortcomings in my motherliness?

      Well I'll let you know how Saturday goes. You know I did a book club meeting with a bunch of Stepford wives - you shoulda seen me trying to explain prosecco-and-vibrators to their humourless tanned faces!

    2. Hahahahahahahaha! Now that is a meeting I wished I'd been at! You've just brightened a dismal day for me.
      (DH = Dear Husband - you'll guess the rest - and also know how nasty sour waspish I am! lol).
      You are a breath of fresh air Cat. It would be great to 'be there'. Though I smoke (cheapo menthol now in my half-hearted effort to stop) - so the air's not fresh for long!

    3. I shall bring you in my pocket and throw back a few double drinks! xxcat

  2. Oh, wow! I read your programme and I'm feeling rather jealous! Can I come along in your suitcase? : ) Enjoy and report back to us...

    I actually love all the (positive) attention afforded to moms in Italy, and I never thought I would before I had kids.

    1. Doesn't it sound great? I promise I will give a full report when I gatecrash your writing group in Rome this month (including details on the goodie bag).

      I'm not sure I've experienced that much Mum-lurv in Italy - more like stare-offs at the school gates!

  3. this is so true about the madonna's in Italy! When you are a mother you are just a mother though and I suppose in Italy they are used to it and think is normal. But it is not!
    I am on Mumsnet too, it is a good site.
    Your writing style is great and your book must be very interesting!

    1. Yes I've encountered some really weird attitudes over here. Once you are a mum, you're on that pedestal. With wings.

      I'm curious to see what the mumsnet event will be like and hope to learn something.

      Reading your blog always makes me feel hungry!

  4. I think you are your own category of awesome. Looking forward to reading about your mumsnet shenanigans! I'm guessing that has something to do with the travel and wine you mentioned on my blog. HURRAH!

    1. Oh thanks Hannah yes it was tough! Dodging rain and throwing myself into beer. Huge reddish pints. Nothing like the gassy stuff you buy here. And the wine and the views on mumsnet day - plus the CONTROVERSY. Will be writing up today xx