My Fabulous Life: Tough times for working mothers

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Yes, thank you, I had a marvellous time at my yoga retreat in the Atlas mountains, and feel that my all-important yin has been much restored. Of course, Keith, who is always wonderfully supportive in these matters - "Even if it takes you 10 to 15 years to restore your yin, Den, so be it, we'll manage" - missed me horribly, as did the children. Indeed, such was Keithleen's excitement when I returned, that she bolted under her bed (handmade to order, Viscount Linley, and much too good to sleep in, hence the cardboard box lined with old towels in the corner of her room) and has refused to come out ever since. There she lies, with an inexplicable look of terror in her one good eye, and she will not come out, even though I said that if she did we would play shopping.

This is something I am not usually prepared to do because: a) as a busy working mum one has to make painful sacrifices, and time with the children is simply a luxury I can ill afford, even though it quite breaks my heart, and b) as I have always told her: "Shopping is not something you should ever play at, Keithleen." And as for Roman, no sooner did my taxi pull up than he was off, and he's yet to reappear. Everyone is most upset. Mae's out searching, while Day Nanny who, I note, has thickened around the waist alarmingly during my absence, weeps all over the place. I have told her not to blame herself, even though it is her fault and I will dock her wages substantially and hadn't she heard of Dr Atkins? She said she had not, but Keith had recommended a doctor on Harley Street "who is very quick and discreet, Mrs Brown. Keith says I won't feel a thing." One doesn't feel a thing with Dr Atkins either. One doesn't even feel hungry! But each to their own, I suppose.

Now, I would go out searching for Roman myself - I am desperately worried, as he's bound to get into some scrape or other and may even end up getting quite dirty, which is always a mother's worst nightmare - but you know how it is when you get back from being away, and it's not like it was even a holiday. It's hard work, restoring your yin. Up at dawn, then straight to the top of the nearest Atlas mountain for a full morning's free-range harmonic chanting. It's no picnic, except when we stop for lunch, in which case it is. But now? So much catching up to do, particularly with my old friend Carole Caplin, who is in the news again, I see. Dear, dear Carole, whom I've known ever since beauty school, where we not only both took the courses in Wearing White Floaty Nightie Things and the Art of the Diptyque Scented Candle (both essential for progressing to the Advanced Art of the Diptyque Scented Candle and Wearing White Flameproof Floaty Nightie Things, just in case of accidents), but also sat next to each other during the wholly invaluable Kate O'Mara Lipliner Masterclass. Imagine, being taught lipliner by Kate O'Mara, who can still draw an expert line despite all those years on choppy cross-Channel ferries. Talk about sitting at the foot of the master!

Since then, we've had many a happy evening playing lipstick with our mutual friend and my fellow busy working mum, Cherie Blair, who I can say lives at No 10 but not on which street, for security reasons, as her husband Lionel is, I believe, still wanted for crimes against tap-dancing and charades and having a really pouffy hairdo. Carole, Cherie and I have had some super times at No 10 (I'm not even allowed to say what town it's in!), particularly on those occasions when that Fiona, an associate of Cherie's, has called and we've naughtily turned out the lights and dived behind the sofa and pretended not to be in. Awful, I know, and I think we'd all feel quite ashamed if Fiona weren't such a bore. Not interested in make-overs at all and always going on about the state of education - as if we don't have enough to worry about, what with Estée Lauder discontinuing their duo-pack of claret-wine lipliner with super-fuchsia gloss on the grounds that the unblended Kate O'Mara look is no longer in. As if!

To our credit, we have tried to get Fiona interested in other things, such as blusher, but she just won't have it. "Blusher? Blusher? How can you talk about blusher when some schools don't have enough books to go round?" Is it any wonder that Cherie, given the choice between Carole and Fiona, ultimately ditched Fiona? Books are all very well, I agree, but for giving your cheeks a nice glow and highlighting cheekbones, they really cannot compete with blusher, applied lightly from the apple of your cheek up to your temple in one wide sweep, preferably with a wide, organic, duckling-down brush. As for Fiona's partner, Alastair, we rarely see him as he is always out "spinning" - a group cycle work-out that is said to be almost as hard work as restoring your yin, so no wonder he wants to retire in the autumn. Hang on, there's the phone...

A firm hand and a spot of stiff stain removal

Aha, Roman has turned up, at last. He's at the home of Keith's ex-wife, poor, sad, barren Bella, and is terribly dirty, by all accounts. I am cross, I admit, because I have told him again and again about getting dirty which, as every mother knows, can eventually lead to even worse things, like getting grass stains on his best trousers. Keith has gone to fetch him directly, but meanwhile I've asked Bella to boil him in a vat of Vanish. Now, I'm off to see Cherie - "Quick, behind the sofa, Fiona's coming, and hide the crystals..." - who lives at No 10 somewhere. I have glimpsed her husband once or twice over the years, by the way, and can report that he still has quite a pouffy hair do and remains a neat tap-dancer - particularly, according to Cherie, when Bush is playing the tune. That must be the other famous Kate, whom I also admire. Indeed, her best-known song, "Wuthering Heights", was even turned into a book, I believe. See you next week!

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