Book Review: If They Could See Me Now Author: Denise Welch

Denise bookI read this within 24 hours. As the first sentence in a review of a 350+ page book, that says quite a lot. I barely put it down – in fact, I think my copy will have my breakfast crumbs firmly embedded in the pages now…

This is Denise’s first novel – and I admit I am a little behind as it was published in early 2016. Late to the party – again! But I’m glad I turned up eventually.

The story focuses on Harper, a 53 year old with a rich husband living the high life in Cheshire with the ladies that lunch. So I wasn’t convinced I would relate, but I thought I’d give it a whirl…

Thing is, this isn’t so much about the superficial bits of Harper’s life – other than showing how truly superficial they are. It’s a study of relationships, love, abuse, bullying, self-esteem, mental health and independence. It explores how the family dynamic impacts on each member and reinforces a particularly important lesson in life – that you should never lose sight of who you really are.

Harper makes a huge sacrifice for love. Or at least, for what she wants to believe is love. And this story shows that abuse doesn’t have to have physical signs. That bullying doesn’t have to involve fighting. In fact, what’s important in this story is that the person experiencing the bullying and abuse may not even realise it. And when you paint a smile on your face, nobody else need realise either.

How many of us have sacrificed parts of ourselves for somebody else? I know I have many years ago. I look back and think, perhaps it was because I was young? Perhaps I was naive. But it’s not just about being young and naive, it’s far more complicated. It’s often impossible to see it when you’re on the inside. When you believe that this is the best that love has to offer. When your self-esteem has hit an all time low. Sometimes, you can’t even see that, either.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I think what is also incredibly thought-provoking in this book is the impact that relationships can have on the wider family. And how within a family, it isn’t simply a series of individual relationships, but a bigger, whole relationship with individual parts and bonds that all react to one another – both positively and negatively.

It’s about love. Who you truly are, who you love, and allowing a little love for yourself, too. It’s not about neutralising one for the sake of the other. It’s about combining and accepting all the best, and worst, bits of each other, of a family, and making something really special. It’s the only way to thrive. Compromising who you are is a strong indicator of something toxic creeping in…

But can Harper see that? Give it a read and find out.

If they could see me now which is published by Little Brown is available to buy online – click here to order.

And he’s off!

The boy is flying free tomorrow. 18 years old and ready to soak up some Japanese culture before camping with the grizzly bears in the national parks of America. Without us. As an independent adult.

When the fuck did this happen?!

Me and Sam

Me and our Sam – when he needed us for trips away

Selfish emotions ran through our veins when he announced he wasn’t heading to university this year. It’s funny isn’t it – you think you couldn’t possibly endure any more Coldplay-on-a-loop, shit-tip teenage bedrooms with week-old cutlery and empty Ben and Jerry’s tubs, and an infuriatingly higher level of intelligence and political savvy than I have possessed in all my years put together. But when push comes to shove, I don’t want to push or shove. I want him to stay at home. In the toon. I mean, we’ve got culture here. Just look at what’s on the Quayside. Can’t he just get the number 44 into town?

But I do get it. I travelled in my twenties. Hull to New Zealand to Australia to Fiji to America. I blew all my cash living it up, backpacking as well as shopping in the fashionista suburbs of Melbourne and dining out daily. So something is telling me, given his higher IQ, that if I managed it, he can too.

He’s not started packing yet. He leaves at 10am tomorrow. He is, after all, a self-confessed procrastinator. He’s probably just planning the packing regime. I am sure there are lists detailing all the different ways he could be doing it. But perhaps that’s a good thing? Perhaps he is less likely to take risks without first considering all the possible outcomes? Less likely to jump into the water without first checking the temperature (that takes me back to a shockingly chilly Christmas day swim in NZ, 2004. Breathtaking – and not in a good way).

I remember my mum panicking when I was heading off on trips abroad. In fact, after all the travel I did on that big trip in 04/05, she still wanted to come through to the departure lounge with me a year later to ensure I got my plane to Malaga on time. I was in my late twenties by that point. But then again, given that I arrived an hour late for my flight when I was leaving the country for nine whole months, only to be saved by the fact that the plane had been delayed for three hours, perhaps that’s why I didn’t instil much confidence in her.

I guess you really shouldn’t compare what they’re like today to what we were like at their age, in the 90s. Generation X were nothing like the millennials. The millennials just seem a bit more clean cut and self-aware. They want to make things better again, whereas we just wanted to rebel.

But I remember, post-GCSE’s the first time our Sam went away on his own, with his mates on a camping trip. They held planning meetings (with minute takers and assigned actions on Paperchase stationary) to discuss who was taking what, the transport required and to map out a thorough logistical plan. When I went camping, I called my mum from the lakeside and asked her to pick up my house and work keys from the bar I got drunk in the night before.  I had a vague idea that they might be there. She jumped in her car in her flip flops and met with the burly bouncers outside Oasis night club to retrieve her irresponsible daughter’s lost property. Which was handy given that I was back at work the next day. Thanks mum.

So I need to give him the credit he deserves. But if he does call us because he’s lost his bank card or needs us to check his itinerary because he spilt sake on his previously immaculate Paperchase notebook, I need to remember what my mum did for me at his age.

Have a blast Sam. We love you. xx







Being a step mum

Latest piece for the i Newspaper – just in time for mother’s day 2017.

Me and SamIt’s almost Mother’s Day again, and, while I have never produced a human from the miraculous workings of my own fair body, I believe I deserve a stake in Hallmark’s profitable day of appreciation. In fact, I say thank God for Moonpig! Because not only can their cards be tailored to my modern-day family situation, but they can show love to all the women who have made a positive impact on a child’s life – mothers, aunties, sisters, neighbours and step mums like me.

Read the full article on the i here

 Follow me on Twitter @lucy_nichol78

You’re so vain, I bet you think this blog is about you.

I’m no psychologist. I haven’t a Psychology GCSE to my name. So I won’t give what I am talking about here a diagnosis.  Because who am I, with my Art A-Level and ‘Dummy’s Guide to the Mind’ to pluck a name from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and assign it to this blog? But I do have a sneaky suspicion it begins with an ‘N’.

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