Evil Games by Angela Marsons Book Review

A thrilling, tense page turner, this second book in the Kim Stone series doesn’t disappoint….

I received an eBook copy of Evil Games via NetGalley

  
Here’s the Blurb:

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. 

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. 

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal. 

The rising star of the British thriller scene returns with a novel that enthrall fans of Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham. 

The second book in the Kim Stone series, this book packs a punch from the word go. It’s gritty, realistic and at times uncomfortable reading. The crimes are evil indeed as we are taken on a journey through the mind of a sociopath who is intent on completing their experiment which play upon the emotions of vulnerable people. 

Kim Stone is still fighting her own demons as well as solving cases with her team. We meet her again as she is solving her latest crime,a child abuse case.  As well as tying up these loose ends, Kim starts to unravel the mystery around a spate of vengeful murders, meeting someone who is also going to challenge her very self in the process.

I loved this book, it gripped me from the very start and I just wanted to find out more. I liked the way I really couldn’t see how things were going to pan out initially, and this kept me reading. I have really warmed to Kim’s character and I also love her team. They are real characters as well as instruments within the plot, and it makes everything much more realistic. There are twists and turns within the plot and many times I was wrong and fell for red herrings. 

The previous book, Silent Scream was a heavy case, but this case was darker, and at times I felt like I had to take a breather as I wasn’t sure what was coming next! I really felt for some of the victims in this story, and by victims I do not only mean those who died. This story really stays with you and gets you thinking. 

This was an intense, psychological thriller which keeps the pace going and the ending is such an explosive finale. This case pushes Kim to the brink and for a moment you really do wonder how this will end. I think this story also pushes you as a reader and makes you confront some topics and ethical questions. The ending also added an extra twist which I didn’t see coming and really hits you. I can’t wait to hear more from Kim as this series is really building up to be something fantastic. 

I rated Evil Games by Angela Marsons 5 out of 5 stars. 

Evil Games by Angela Marsons is published by Bookouture and is out today,  29th May. 

  

Things I like to do now that I didn’t like to do before I had a baby (and turned 30)

I’m not saying they’re connected but I’ve noticed recently there are a number of things that I like to do now that I’d never have considered before. Now it’s either because a) I’m now 31 and starting to become an old fart b) this has all happened since I had a baby  or c) a combination of the both. 

I now like……

Gardening 

Eating mushrooms 

Having a bath (I do wash but I was always a shower girl you know until I realised I could be getting clean, lying down and almost sleeping at the same time – win)

Reading a book in the bath

Putting on make-up (well it’s pretty much a necessity if I don’t want to scare the general public)

Painting my nails 

Drinking red wine (well anything remotely alcoholic really)

Eating peas 

Hanging washing out on the line (if it’s sunny, ima gonna get that wash on) 

Going anywhere alone (rarely happens but still)

Getting up early (well really I’ve just got used to this)

Silence 

Radio 4 (I need all the news now)

Moaning about the new music on Radio one

Eating percy pigs 

Original versions of songs not awful cover versions

Question Time (I like a good debate)

Coffee (never touched it before. I guess it’s mildly better than smoking)

Lie-ins (I used to think a lie in was wasting the day! Whatevs!)

Working out how much younger people are than me 

Bars that don’t have music so loud you can’t hear a word anyone says

Getting the train. And the quiet coach. 

Eating Nancy’s leftovers (they always taste the best, don’t they?)

Julia Donaldson books (I will ever tire of reading jack and the flum flum tree)

Leggings

Ironed clothes

Wholewheat pasta 
Have you noticed any differences in yourself? What do you now like that you used to not like? Am I just a mad thing? Let me know in the comments below! 

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton Book Review

A tense psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, this is great read…

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley

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Here’s the Blurb:

What’s the worst thing your best friend could do to you?

Admittedly, it wasn’t murder. A moment’s carelessness, a tragic accident – and two children are dead. Yours.

Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.

How long before revenge becomes irresistible?

With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?

So now, what’s the worst thing you can do to your best friend?


This book was really refreshing and engaging, it took a terrible situation and turned it on it’s head. We initially see the events unfolding from the point of view of Catrin, the mother of the children who have died. Her life has been changed dramatically since her children died and her sole focus when we meet her is revenge. We also see things from 2 other characters views. Whilst struggling to deal with the past, Catrin becomes involved in the Islands latest missing child case. Is something sinister happening on the Island?

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the location of the Falkland Islands, so remote and cut off from most of civilisation and the village gossip culture that the story is built upon. I liked the way this book challenges you as a reader to think how you would think and feel in this circumstance; what would you do if your best friend killed your children? It pushes you as a reader, and I loved the way the book told its story from three different points of view. The pieces of the story slot into place as you read along, and little clues are slipped into the storyline along the way. The different points of view on the same events make you question everything. I was gripped throughout, the book is a real page turner, it keeps up the suspense and also keeps you guessing. The ending is chilling and really did send tingles down my spine – I didn’t see it coming. I felt this book was taking me in one direction then half way through you realise that this book is so much more than that.

The characters are life like and believable; there are some usual steretypical characters in there but they fit in with the village life and we can all relate to those sorts of characters. I liked the main characters and felt invested in their story. Catrin is a complex character and initially we just see things from her point of view. We hear from many of the other characters but Rachel, Catrin’s best friend (and the reason her children died) is absent for a good two thirds of the book. She becomes a bit of an enigma, you start to think a certain way but when we finally meet Rachel you have to reevaluate everything again! This book is so very clever in this way and this is what keeps you reading.

I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give anything away but if you love a crime thriller then this book is for you! It’s a great, easy read and I just couldn’t put it down.

I give Little Black Lies 4 out of 5 stars.

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton is published by Transworld and is released on July 2nd.

Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock Book Review

An easy, comfortable read about a young man and his sexuality at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper murders. 

I received an electronic version of this book via Netgalley
  
Here’s the Blurb: 

‘The milkman found her. On Prince Philip Playing Fields. He crossed the dew-soaked grass toward what he took to be a bundle of clothes, but then he came across a discarded shoe, and then t’ mutilated body. her name wor Wilma McCann.’

Leeds, late 1975 and a body has been found on Prince Philip Playing Fields. Ricky, teenage delivery van boy for Corona pop, will be late for The Matterhorn Man. In the years that follow until his capture, the Yorkshire Ripper and Rick’s own life draw ever closer with unforeseen consequences. Set in a time in England’s history of upheaval and change – both personal and social – this is a story told in an unforgettable voice.

I really enjoyed this book. This book was easy to read, comfortable and like getting to know some old friends. I really enjoyed finding out about Rick, and his life as a young gay man in 1970s. His life at this time is interwoven with the big news of the era – the Yorkshire Ripper murders. The murder of these women are interspersed with tales and tribulations of Ricks life. Rick works as a Corona pop delivery boy by day and we start the story as he starts to explore his sexuality and forge friendships within the more or less underground gay community. 

The book is really just this; a book about a young lad finding himself over the course of the late 1970s. To read this though is much more. You become invested in Ricks’ and his families lives and want to know what happens to them. The murders loom over events and life is punctuated with the news of another murder. The book is written in a Yorkshire dialect from Ricks point of view and initially this can be a little difficult with lots of  ‘t’table’  type words but it adds to the feel of the book and I felt it made Rick more of a real character. 

I really felt this book channelled the era and the mood of the times so well. It was like walking through a time machine and finding out about life in the ’70s. The ending of the book ends as much as it begins; the Yorkshire Ripper is caught and life continues. However an era is sort of over and it provides Rick with opportunity to be himself. 

I’d love to know if this book will have a sequel; Rick is such an engaging character I’d love to find out what happens next for him. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock is published by 4th Estate and is out now.  

  

Mindful Eating with #LVLoveLife

Mindful Eating is something that I have heard a lot about recently. When LV offered me the chance to try mindful eating, by using a Spiralizer to make healthy, interesting meals, I thought I’d give it a go. 

Mindful eating is the habit of actually being conscious of what you are eating, as you eat it, taking time to really savour and taste the flavours and texture of the food. Mindful eating is also a good way of eating less, as by taking time to really chew and appreciate the food in your mouth, you actually give your brain signals time to tell your stomach you’re full and so you are not as likely to over eat. LV have a great article on Mindful Eating which is worth a read if you’re interested in this topic. 

Mindful Eating to me is really important. I find nowadays I am always in a rush and so tend to not think much about the food I eat, and gulp it down when I have the chance. I really do feel that my mealtimes are rushed, and this can also make me not appreciate the food and also sometimes I still feel hungry afterwards! I am trying to lose weight as you all know so so trying mindful eating seemed a great idea. I am trying my best to eat ‘clean’, focusing on healthy, unprocessed food and plenty of fruit and veg. Using fresh food and lots of herbs and spices, should mean that using the Mindful Eating method I can take the take to enjoy all this lovely food more! 

Using the Spiralizer has also really helped with my healthy eating. Spiralizing food is fun and adds a new twist to your meals. I am in love with Courgetti and also sweet potato noodles which were so so tasty! I am now obsessed with seeing what veg work well being put through the Spiralizer! Using a Spiralizer to make Courgetti or zoodles, or other types of curly spirally veg, and using this in place of carbs such as pasta and rice, can really help with healthy eating and cutting down on carbs and calories. I love Courgetti and have had this with Thai curry and also with a roasted veg sauce. – anywhere I would use rice, pasta, potatoes. It’s a great fresh taste and I really did not miss the carbs that the Courgetti replaced. I think using the Spiralizer and eating courgette in this way means you taste it in a differnt way, it tastes fresher and meals feel lighter as you haven’t got lots of starchy carbs. 

The Spiralizer itself is way to use. You stick your veg into the spiky end and then make sure the centre of the veg goes into the metal part on the other side. You turn the handle and the veg is pushed through the cutter and voila! Spirally veg is yours. I did worry a bit about cleaning this item but it was easy – I rinsed the Spiralizer under the tap and all the little bits of veg just washed out. I put the cutter attachment into the dishwasher and it cleaned it absolutely fine. It was so easy and you’d be surprised how much spirally goodness you get for piece of veg! 

So, what about Mindful Eating?

I was really looking forward to eating the meals I cooked because I am a big kid and was well excited about my spiralled veg!

Taking time to eat my meals has meant that mealtimes have become more of an occasion. I eat more slowly, chewing more and thinking about the taste and texture in my mouth. It has also spurred me on to eat more dinners round the table as a family. Not rushing around and eating properly as well as healthy meals has definitely made me feel much better too.

This is definitely a habit I want to continue with, I will let you know if it helps me with my weight loss at all!

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I was sent a Spiralizer in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

When in Rome……

Do have a pizza. They’re delicious.

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Don’t pay priority tickets for the sistene chapel. They cost a bit more and don’t actually seem to get you priority into anywhere…..

Do go to the Vatican, St. Peter’s square is free to enter and so is St. Peter’s Basillica. It’s lovely actually. (I liked it better than the Vatican museums)

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Do go and see the sistene chapel but be warned you will feel like a cow being herded and blink and you’ll miss the actual ceiling. And don’t take pictures coz they shout at you.

(Oh and the Sistine chapel is round the corner from St.Peters Square, in case you can’t find it.)

Do go and have a drink on the square outside of the Pantheon, great atmosphere especially early evening. It’s free to go inside the Pantheon and it’s amazing too.

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Do Walk. All you have to do is walk around, and you’ll find something amazing.

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Do be aware the Trevi fountain is a bit under construction at the minute…..

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Don’t get harassed by a man in roman costume and let him take all your change.

Do put your hand in the Mouth of Truth and see if it bites your hand off.

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All in all Rome is a lovely place to go.

Have you been to Rome? What would you recommend?

Diet Bore #7

Opps! Firstly apologies that I haven’t posted in a few weeks, or maybe it’s even a month. The end of march/start of April was hideous for me as I was ill for two weeks and fit to do nothing. I put on 1.5lbs in this time, but I managed to lose a pound the week after.

Now, I had a bit of a revelation two weeks ago.

I was in M&S food, and looking for something for lunch. I got some salmon flakes (oh! i know, look at me with my salmon!) and I saw a ‘superfood salad’ on offer. I started to put it back, however, as it contained some nuts and seeds and some dressing.

Then it hit me. What the hell? This was, really, a healthy choice for me. A year ago I’d have gone for the southern fried chicken wrap or the honey and mustard pasta with marvellous creations chocolate bar and a packet of crisps (I’m being serious here, that’s what I’d get!). That’s almost be 1,000 calories in itself.

It made me wonder if the slimming world way wasn’t really for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been very very useful for me, and it has helped me get right back into cooking healthy meals from scratch. What I don’t like getting sucked into though is the whole ‘trying to make fattening things less fattening using cottage cheese and/or weetabix’.

I sat in class three weeks in a row when each time the main topic of conversation was how to make weetabix muffins and cottage cheese and smash scones. I can see how these recipes can help others, and in fact this sort of thing has helped in the past. It’s just not where I am in my healthy eating journey now. I feel like I’ve moved past that.

I’ve realised:

I don’t want to make weetabix muffins or smash scones.

I just want to eat healthy, unprocessed, naturally low fat foods.

I want to excersize more. I could be at the gym when I’m sat for two hours in a group.

It just clicked in my head. I am making healthy choices, I am being the best I can be. I want to see all food as OK instead of syns and the negativity that you can associate with that word. Yes chocolate is a syn but so is cooked fruit or an avocado, or some nuts. I’ve found I don’t like lumping all these things in the same bracket.

I am not saying I haven’t learnt from slimming world, because I have. The principles of food optimising are very simple to follow in your head. It’s not a bad rule of thumb to live by.

However,  I made the decision to leave slimming world.

I have started up My Fitness Pal again.  This time, however, I am getting it. It clicks.

Maybe it’s because I need something new to focus on, I don’t know.

I went to the gym with my sister as well, and I really really enjoyed it. I surprised myself at how much I could do. I am very keen to sign myself up now to a membership.

My first weigh in using my fitness pal was last week. I’ve lost 2lbs.

This week, I have put on a pound. This is a mixture of two nights of eating takeaway and a pub lunch, all logged acknowledged and enjoyed. It’s OK.

However, I am now around the lowest weight I have been for just over 2 years. I am very pleased with this, even with a slight gain this week. 

I just seem to have got to a point where I know what I need to do, and I know I have to do it. It’s actually not been that bad at all. I aim between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day, and I aim to do 120 mins of excersize a week.

If I go over, I don’t sweat it. I don’t have anxiety about points ‘running out’, I just think tomorrow is a new day, and I get back on it. I am, for the most part, choosing ‘slimming world friendly’ foods to eat throughout the day. I am cutting a lot of carbs out and swapping with wholewheat when I do have them. I aim for the ‘healthy extra b’ portion for fibre. I have cut milk from my tea and butter/spread from things like toast. I just feel better all round because I am eating healthily, and to be honest that’s more important than what the numbers say really. 

So, there you go. I hope you still follow my journey and how I’m getting on. I’m on  Instagram if you like food pictures/inspiration and I will try and post every week from now on.

 

 

Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix Book Review

I love a historical fiction novel, I am a big fan of Kate Mosse so was really looking forward to this book, set in Pisa and spanning the centuries.

I reviewed an ebook copy via Netgalley

Here’s the Blurb:
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Two women, centuries apart, bound together by the secrets of one of the most iconic buildings ever created. Pisa, 1999 Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her. Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the Tower, and discovers the woman that history forgot… Pisa, 1171 Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and that of a young master mason, Gerardo, forever. A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture draws her closer to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds… A richly drawn and absorbing novel of passion and power, love and redemption that will captivate fans of Victoria Hislop, Tracy Chevalier and Kate Furnivall.

The book starts off well, and the pace is nice and lesiurely. We see Sam start to uncover secrets of the past, relating to the Leaning Tower and when it was built. We also see alongside this the story of Berta, who is the lady who funded the building of the Tower. But it is a mystery who she is and why she wanted the Tower built.

I really enjoyed the first half of this story, reading the background of the Leaning Tower and the developing relationship between Berta and Gerardo. I was less interested in Sam’s side of the story, if I am truthful, however the first half of the book I was waiting for her to find out some secrets and start to delve into the past. Her relationship with her Husband is strained and she finds help in the form of Dario, an italian reporter.

I enjoyed this book but I did feel like the story could have been developed a bit more. I didn’t really feel there was a link between the two stories – I think his would have been interesting for the reader, as when I was reading I was wondering whether there was any relevance or mirroring of the stories between the ages. I was also slightly disappointed that the Dario storyline never really took off, and I felt a little disappointed in Sam’s ending in the book. I found some of the story a little repetitive – espeically regarding the Berta/Gerardo/Aurelia storyline – Gerardo seems to consider how much he cares/love each of them frequently throughout the book. Character wise, I felt the past characters were much better developed than the ‘modern day’ ones, I was hooked into reading what happened next in the past, and I wanted to hurry through the ‘Sam’ parts. I think this book could have been a great book without the modern day element, to be honest.

I did enjoy reading this book, but as I found only really half of the novel particularly interesting, I am giving the book 3.5 stars. I did like the tone and pace of the book, however and I will definetely look out for more books from Debbie in the future.

Secrets of The Tower by Debbie Rix is published by Bookouture and is out now.

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Storytelling Challenge

It’s National Tell a Story Day! I was challenged to write a children’s story with the help of another blogger’s prompts by Room To Grow. My prompts were:

Character: A wise old owl
Setting: A quiet forest
Object: A lost teddy bear
So here’s my story! Nancy did help a bit 😉
The Owl and The Lost Teddy Bear:

Once upon a time,
there lived an owl so wise
With a Brown feathery coat
and big yellow eyes

He was clever,
that is true
but he had a secret
no other animal knew

He lived in the tallest tree
A great big oak
And he’d answer big questions
When he spoke

The woodland animals came
To hear him speak
And ask him questions
They did with a squeak

He knew all the answers
He was never wrong
Until the day
He met someone

This animal was different
He looked a bit stuffy
With beady eyes
And hands all puffy

He had golden hair
and a little red hat
but he looked so sad
on the rock where he sat..

“I am a teddy”
The animal said
“I am lost, where am I?
I need to get back to my bed!”

“I live in a House
with a bright green door
George will be missing me
I’ve never been lost before!”

The owl, he thought
And thought some more
Where was this House
Teddy looked for?

“You are in the quiet wood”
The owl said
“I will help you to find
your place called Bed”

He looked around the wood
Under rocks and in holes
He asked the foxes
And he asked the moles

“I am looking for a bed
You see, it is in a place called house.
Would you know just where it is?”
He asked the little mouse.

“It’s for Teddy here
– he’s lost his way
he needs to go back to House
where George wants to play”

The Owl could not find Bed
he looked up with a sigh
and then he realised he could fly!

Owl started to run
soon they were up in the sky
“yippee!” cried Teddy
“oh no!” Owl cried

Owl didn’t look down
he looked straight ahead
“Don’t worry Owl – I’m here!”
the Teddy bear said

Teddy looked,
waiting to see his green door
he thought they’d never find it
but then there! Number 4!

“My house!” cried Teddy
“There it is!” cried the owl so wise
They flew up to the window
and Teddy snuck back inside

“Thank you for helping me”
Teddy Bear said
It’s been an adventure
now it’s time for bed!

“I’ll come back and see you”
the Owl he twit-twooed
then gathered his courage
back to the quiet woods he flew

So if you hear an owl at night
saying “twit-twit-twoo!”
he’s saying hello to Teddy Bear
and he he’s saying Hello to you

THE END

Read some other stories by the other bloggers taking part:

Cardiff Mummy Says – Grandma’s Cake

New Mum Online – The Gruffalo Adventures

Kissy the one eyed friendly tall clay blue monster – A story from Sarah’s World: http://sarahandc.blogspot.co.uk/

Max and Mummy: Hannah Saves the Day: http://www.maxandmummy.co.uk/2015/04/hannah-saves-day-story.html

Laura’s Lovely Blog: Chia the Healthy Troll:

 

 

 

 

 

Mum in the Club

I’m a Mum in the club. It’s 1am, I am tired, my feet ache and I feel like an old granny. I look around me. I’m wondering how I got here. It seemed like a good idea an hour ago, but then it took 45mins for a taxi and I sobered up somewhat. The disagreement with the taxi driver of charging us over £6 to drop us round the corner also didn’t help. My friends are sipping cocktails and a few of them look worse for wear. One girl, a friend of a friend, is standing up yet slumped at the same time, her eyes are not focused and she keeps crying. I have flashbacks to student days and do a little shiver. 

I look down at my virgin mojito. There’s no way I could’ve had a proper cocktail, the thought of a hangover tomorrow is too much to handle. Yes, I’ve had a few gins, I’m feeling merry but I can’t drink any more. A random stranger elbows me as they try and squeeze past in the throng by the bar. So rude. Did no one teach them any manners? 

I start to realise my feet are stuck to the floor, as I shift my feet I realise we are all standing on broken glass. I try to scrape the glass from my new shoes but it’s like a stick of rock and seems to be glued on. I try and get the attention of the bar staff to sweep up the mess but I’m not getting anywhere. 

The music is loud and I can’t hear a thing anyone is saying. The thump-thump-thump is starting to do my head in. What is this music? I recognise a song but then I realise I’m listening to some hideous remix which makes me want to through my glass on the floor. Suddenly I understand the broken glass. 

I go to the loo to find a group of girls having an argument. I cautiously open every cubicle until I find a toilet that hasn’t got sick or some explosive diahorrea in it. I have to use loo roll from another cubicle and hover over the seat. As I perform this physical feat, I hear the girls take their argument outside. “You’re a slaaaaag!” One of them screeches as they slam the door shut. 

I get back to my friends. I can remember the music from our university days. I start to dance but I’m conscious my feet are killing me, I do a hobbly half hip swaying dance but soon give up. I’ve got to sit down. That reenactment of flash dance earlier has really played havoc with my knees. 

Just as I turn to find anywhere to sit down, bouncers come rushing in and they knock me out of the way. They swoop in on a man by the bar and drag him kicking and screaming from the venue. My heart is in my mouth. I am too old for this shit. 

Most of these people are probably 10 years younger than me. People are snogging each other, or dirty dancing, people who are very drunk stagger around me. I roll my eyes. Then I see an older man, alone, all sweat glistening from his bald head and his rolls of fat jiggling as he rolls his hips in front of me.  

I retreat to a chair, in front of a hen party who are at the “I love you so much and I never want to be without you you’re my best friend forever” phase of the evening. I take off my shoes and rest my feet on a chair. I can feel my hips seizing up. I look at the clock – 2am, it feels like this night has lasted forever. I sit there and think of my bed, of sleep, of the day I will get to lie in until 10am. My friend staggers towards me, and I decide it’s time to go. Someone needs a kebab, and it’s not me. 

I wedge my swollen feet into my shoes and hobble to a taxi. 

When I get home, I make a hot chocolate and eat some popcorn. My Mummy Pig pyjamas have never felt better.