On Mother’s Day These Things I Know

by | 6 Mar 2016

Last night was the Annual Dinner of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation. An auspicious affair held at Dover Town Hall at which last season’s swimmers are celebrated with ceremony.

I was organising the raffle.

I should have known things weren’t going to go well. I was late (I’m always late) and once I’d laid out the prizes, I had to get hastily changed in the loo. As people started to arrive, I was lying face down on the floor in the cloakroom due to a wardrobe malfunction. My zip was stuck. A lovely lady tried to help. Two lovely ladies, in fact. And the young man who was taking the coats. But it wouldn’t budge.

Ok, I know it wasn’t The Oscars but in a way last night was the closest I’m ever going to get. I thought, I bet Brie Larson’s backless dress was meant to me backless. Mine wasn’t. It wouldn’t do up.

I then learnt very quickly that it’s not a good idea to try and rip raffle tickets and collect money with a Gin & Tonic in your hand. The floor got most of it. I pressed on. I sold raffle tickets throughout the starter. Carrot Soup. And the main. Chicken. Once I’d got rid of the drink, I actually wasn’t that bad at selling, I reckon I would have given Brie a run for her money on that.

But then came the draw.

I went up on stage and was given a mic. No one could hear me apparently, apart from the intermittent word. Generally this might be fine – no one hearing me is not such a loss – but when you’re picking winning tickets, it’s pretty crucial. Nor did it help that I hadn’t grasped the first rule of raffle-ticket-drawing-thumb which is that if you’ve been selling from different ticket books you have to say the colour as well the number. ‘157 beige.’ I shouted out when I’d been admonished for this mistake. ‘It’s white’ my co-raffle ticket organiser hissed. ‘Is it?’ I said into the mic. Everyone heard that.

And with nearly 30 prizes to call, this ignominy went on forever. Some said I was going too fast, others said I was going too slow. Either way the audience got restless and started to chat. If it had been The Oscars, Chris Rock would have been pushing me off the stage and the cut off music would have been playing really loud.

After the dinner most people went to the White Horse, the legendary hostelry where all Channel swimmers get to sign their names. Instead I headed to my hotel room to nurse my raffle wounds. Oh, and the massive bruise I got when I knocked my knee on the toilet roll dispenser when I was changing in the loo.

Yesterday was supposed to be a great night – a celebration of what I achieved last year – but sadly for me it wasn’t. But that’s ok, I’m used to wasn’t. Eleven rounds of IVF wasn’t and I’ve still survived. And today on Mother’s Day 2016, at least I can say that these things I know:

I can swim the English Channel.

But don’t ever ask me to draw a raffle.

Backless Dress Again


  1. Naomi

    Oh nooo! Sorry to hear this. If I may try and cheer you up:
    1) you sold lots of raffle tickets
    2) you have a back that can pull off an (albeit unintended) backless dress
    3) people who are late for everything and then have disasters tend to be very active people who lead exciting, fulfilling lives. The odd disaster is a small price to pay for a life of adventure!

    Best wishes,


    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Naomi, I’ve just read your comment and you’ve made my morning and it’s only 6.21! I’ll put up with raffle humiliation for a life of adventure any day. Much love Jessica x

  2. Mel

    I thought the ‘backless’ dress looked fab! Thought of you today as I knew the Mothers Day pics would start flooding facebook and I thought of you again as I exhausted myself swimming 60 lengths of a very small pool and imagined being in the freezing open waters for hours…. X

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Bless you. 60 lengths is great, and small pools are exhausting because of all the turning. I was in the Channel for 10 minutes yesterday. 8 degrees and bracing but at least when it’s cold you don’t have to stay in long! Hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day, how’s the running coming along? Jessica x

  3. countyourselfunlucky

    You are a total HERO! I love that you just worked the backless dress look. Much kudos to you!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Bless you. I might have deserved even more kudos if I hadn’t told everyone what had happened. But that’s me for you!

  4. Jane

    Well done Jessica – you rocked the backless dress (beautiful dress btw). Naomi is spot on – the life of adventure is definitely worth some hiccups! You don’t need the affirmation of raffle goers – you have ours every day for showing us there are many ways to enjoy life to the full. Thank you 🙂 x

  5. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Bless you Jane. You just made my day with your lovely comment! Much love Jessica x