Mrs Playmo and the Bucket List.

It has been too long. Way too long. I’m sorry. Mrs Playmo is furious with me – probably because she feels that her fan club is being neglected. Every morning she leans out of the playmo mansion window and reminds me of my blogging responsibilities, and she is right. Much as I was tempted to write a post about my reaction to the B-word,  the T- word and the E-word*, I have decided to offer you a rant-free post. (I am not promising that said post isn’t on its way, but for the moment I’m far too angry to write it down.)  Mrs Playmo is muttering to herself and typing messages in a far corner of the Playmo mansion with the curtains welded shut. She assures me that she does not have French nationality, and as such will soon be an illegal immigrant so needs to do something about it fast.

I don’t know how to explain the screaming absence on my blog. I do admit to my sense of humour having gone on a hiatus, which I attribute to the weariness of the never-ending stream of bad news from around the world. I have been writing, writing and writing some more when work permitted… but somehow, the publish button just didn’t get clicked. Over-analysis? Probably. A permanent trade-off between security and impulsiveness. The monster of incertitude that nibbles away at your confidence. I’m sure you’ve all been there. The posts are there, and they’ll be coming up – just as soon as I have plucked up my courage and rescued them from their virtual limbo in the WordPress departure lounge.


Mrs Playmo assured her neighbour’s gym-teaching student son that she had indeed run 10km unaided, and needed private stretch and flex lessons to ensure that her glutes would be ready for the next race.

But here I am now – with a catch-up post. Mrs Playmo lifted her bottle of rosé to an whole teetotal year (me, not her) on New Year’s day, and applauded drunkenly as I was interviewed by BBC Radio 5 about my year of abstinence. Then she toasted the first anniversary of the Running Mamma Project, and the 13 kilos that I shed en route. Rugby-boy and I ran our first official 10km race along the Baie des Anges in Nice in January in a respectable time of 1h and 2 minutes. Mrs Playmo was there in my running belt to coach me through, and has since stolen my medal for her kitchen on the grounds that she ran it too.  Even if I got overtaken by most of the fancy dress participants – including Road-runner and an entire shelf of chattering Champagne bottles with hairy legs and trainers – I am very proud of myself – this is, after all, the woman who only ran if her life was in danger.

At the beginning of the year, these small yet radical life changes brought hope – I felt in my bones that 2016 would be a good year. Cautious optimism snowballed into full-blown enthusiasm. Mrs Playmo picked up on this, and waved my passport at me as I made the bed one morning.

“Oy, MM,” she bellowed. “You’ve had this thing since 2010, and it’s still in pristine condition.” She pursed her lips, blew on it, then flapped her claws, coughing.

“Geesh, kiddo, this thing’s got more dust on it than your goddam corkscrew. Are you planning to use it as a doorstop, or what? Don’t you think you should get your butt on a plane sometime soon? I’ll come with you, but we’ve got to get this show on the road.”

She had a point. When I thought back to my last trip anywhere with my passport, it was to go to Little Sis’s wedding in 2013, and I had been so rusty on international travel that I turned the wrong way and would have ended up on the flight to Casablanca if a grinning official hadn’t turned me in the right direction. Mrs Playmo dragged my bucket list out of my bedside table and disappeared into her mansion.


Mrs Playmo had a vested interest on getting me on a long-haul flight- she is still furious that Ryanair did not provide a free minibar service on the Béziers-Bristol flight, even in Playmo-sized glasses. She needed alcohol badly on her first flight, and spent the entire trip learning the emergency instructions by heart.

We all have a bucket list of sorts. As I mentioned in a post a long time ago, the first items written on MM’s list date back to her childhood, and are 1) meeting Paddington’s Aunt Lucy, and 2) singing “halfway down the stairs” with Kermit’s nephew. When I first read “Paddington” as a child, I was touched by his Aunt Lucy’s courageous decision to send him to London, but one thing disturbed me immensely. Sending a young bear off to the European continent for a better life was a laudable idea, but how on earth would she know that he had arrived safely? I imagined Aunt Lucy, sitting in a tapestry-covered chair, her eyes riveted on Paddington’s framed school portrait and chewing her bear-claws as she waited anxiously for news. I decided there and then that one day I would visit Aunt Lucy at the Home for Retired Bears in Lima, and reassure her that her nephew had arrived safely and had become an international, marmalade sandwich-eating hero.

Never underestimate Mrs Playmo’s powers of persuasion. Forty years later, MM found herself sitting in seat 12C on her way to deepest, darkest Peru, trying to forget how many thousands of feet separated her from the ocean lying somewhere in the darkness below her seat and listening to Rodrigo Amarante (my only source of Spanish vocabulary) in an unsuccessful bid to drown out the raucous singing of Mrs Playmo. She was out of her tree on Air France Merlot, singing La Isla Bonita in her explorer hat and peering around the seat from her vantage point on the folding table to check out the male talent on the Paris-Lima flight. ‘That steward is rather sexy,” she slurred as she made a suggestive wink in his direction.

This was real. I squirmed in anticipation, or as much as I could whilst sandwiched between two sleeping men. I suspected that I may not find Aunt Lucy, but was impatient to finally see the streets of Lima that I had imagined as a child, some Inca ruins, and maybe even a talking llama or two (unless Disney lied to me in ‘The Emporor’s new Groove’).

Watch this space for the next episode, but in the meanwhile… here is a spoiler.


Now let’s press that publish button.

  • Brexit, Terrorism, Elections.