I had panic attack over bonkers car park rules, says Ulrika Jonsson

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DID you hear the one about the blonde who went to pay for her parking with her smartphone and ended up having a full-on panic attack?

Well, it wasn’t particularly funny at the time.

Ulrika talks about a parking experience where she wasn't able to connect to the app on her phone where she had to pay

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Ulrika talks about a parking experience where she wasn’t able to connect to the app on her phone where she had to payCredit: Alamy
It would be great if we could bring back parking meters with coins

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It would be great if we could bring back parking meters with coins

When I was forced to drive into the Big Smoke – a rare event for this hermit – and pay for my parking on an app on my phone, I suddenly had no connection to my server and wasn’t even able to pay the charge via the phone number, which seemingly was also out of action.

I can’t pretend I didn’t go into a blind panic about getting clamped or having my car towed away – it really was heart-palpitation time.

I felt utterly helpless and didn’t know where to turn.

So how must it feel for those people who don’t have smart-phones? Or when the mobile signal hits a blindspot?

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Or how is it for those who are, perhaps, older than I am and struggle with the use of a smart-phone in the first place?

Paying for parking in this way is something tens of thousands of motorists are forced to do every day.

I know we are increasingly heading towards a cashless society where everything we do, and say, happens in some other-worldly, invisible, untouchable ether – but I just don’t like it.

Apart from anything, I suspect it’s a surefire way of putting people off going into our towns and cities.

Which in turn has a devastating knock-on effect for businesses.

I still hold a torch for those cute little parking meters positioned by every parking bay, which meant that nothing much could go wrong because you always had a trusty collection of coins in your car ashtray.

Any chance we could bring them back?

Just asking for a techno-phobic friend . . .

Let’s think of women who aren’t mothers

ANYONE else want to cancel Mother’s Day?

Surely I can’t be the only one feeling conflicted about Sunday.

I simply ask my kids for good behaviour and some familial kindness for a couple of hours, says Ulrika

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I simply ask my kids for good behaviour and some familial kindness for a couple of hours, says Ulrika

I’m trying not to be a Negative Nellie about it but, while it should be a joyful, heartwarming day for those of us who’ve been foolish enough to allow children to ruin our lives, I can’t deny I find it tricky to navigate.

It’s not so much about the mothers as about young children’s duty to create some kind of makeshift card out of feathers, felt piping and recycled toilet paper, and maybe even present Mum with an overpriced bouquet.

Like Valentine’s Day, it has its roots in marketing, commercialisation and societal expectation.

I don’t want gifts. I simply ask my kids for good behaviour and some familial kindness for a couple of hours. Even this, more often than not, falls on deaf ears.

I am very lucky to have had my maternal instincts fulfilled by becoming a mother four times over but I know that for many mothers it’s going to be a difficult day.

There are many mums who, for whatever tragic reason, will be unable to spend it with their offspring — and here am I moaning about feeling forced to endure the day with mine.

The run-up to this year’s “celebration” has been fraught with sibling tensions and my own negativity about the day itself. For these reasons alone I feel for those who do not have any choice about seeing their children — tomorrow for them will be filled with immeasurable pain.

I also think of all the women who no longer have a mum to celebrate. For them, tomorrow will be a giant pit of heartache. Just as, for others, the day will be one of anguish because their dreams of becoming a mother were never realised.

I feel so bad that these women have to endure this annual celebration.

Of course, motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. And you don’t have to be a biological mum to be honoured.

Let's spare a thought for all the women who aren't mothers ahead of this Sunday

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Let’s spare a thought for all the women who aren’t mothers ahead of this SundayCredit: Getty

Some are stepmums, some are both mother and father, like I was for some time with my second child, and there are many dads who take on the role of mum too.

Mother’s Day never fails to make me think about all those women who were unable, or never wanted to ever become mums. Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that their number is on the increase, with almost one in five of 45-year-old women remaining childless.

Things may have been made difficult for them by everyone else’s expectations of what they should be doing with their bodies and lives.

As a society, we often seem to attribute far greater merit to a woman who is a mother. It’s as if she is more qualified to be a woman than one who has made the active choice to not become a mum.

It’s simply not true that you are more multi-layered and have greater substance just because you decided to act on your maternal instinct, or even felt obliged to.

Motherhood isn’t everything. It isn’t everyone’s reason for being. It isn’t every woman’s sole ambition.

I knew from the age of ten — having witnessed the miracle of my half-sister being born — that I wanted to become a mum.

It’s hard to articulate it but it was an urgent desire that coursed through my veins and it’s no exaggeration to say that it was my only aspiration for adulthood.

I joke about what a nightmare kids are. I call them The Ungratefuls and my third child says I’ve made hating my children my USP.

It’s not the whole story, of course. Just as much as motherhood has been the making of me, it has almost been the breaking of me, too.

At times, I’ve cared too much and been consumed by them so much that I’ve completely forgotten about and neglected myself.

Being a parent, being a mother, is relentless. It never ends and I’m still shocked and impressed, on a daily basis, that I managed to create four of the blighters. They are, without doubt, my greatest achievements.

So, I guess, despite threatening to cancel Mother’s Day a couple of weeks ago because I couldn’t face the phony, pretentious nature of it all, I will cave in.

I’ll arrange to see as many of my children as I can for lunch, because they are almost all now grown up and seeing them all together is a rare thing.

But to those women who feel alienated, dis-associated and excluded from tomorrow, you are no less a woman because you’re not a                                           mother.

GIMME YOGA CHAOS

I HAVE always maintained, and continue to do so, that if you have time for yoga you’re probably a person who doesn’t need it.

I’m aware I’m going against trend here but then I’ve never really been a follower of fashion.

Chaotic and humour-loving yoga sounds much better than the one where you sit in silence

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Chaotic and humour-loving yoga sounds much better than the one where you sit in silenceCredit: Shutterstock

I’ve lost count of the number of times thoughtful people have suggested yoga

When I’ve tried, I end up spending those silent moments making shopping lists in my head, fretting about the things I need to get done and worrying about whether I’m really enough for my kids.

But now I may have found my jam: Rage Yoga.

Yes, this is really a thing.

Similar to its tranquil cousin but, instead of serenity and calm, there is chaos and humour.

There might be war cries, heavy metal guitar riffs, dirty jokes and the odd F-bomb.

The practice is aimed at helping you to feel empowered, become more resilient and let all your anger out.

A kind of yoga for badasses.

I don’t have anger issues – as say all people with anger issues – but I do have a problem with, and envy of, those smug buggers who are relentlessly peaceful and unperturbed by life’s chaos.

With Rage Yoga, I may have found my tribe.

Where do I sign?

Yes, I secretly craved to be Paula Yates

THE Channel 4 documentary about the late Paula Yates was a reminder for me that, in truth, I always wanted to be a bit of her. Or perhaps even a lot.

I didn’t want to watch it because it felt intrusive, nosey and inappropriate.

Paula was an awesome and provocative trailblazer

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Paula was an awesome and provocative trailblazerCredit: Getty

But, like Paula, there’s one thing I can’t resist and that’s temptation.

She wasn’t flawless, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d quite forgotten just how awesome, provocative, anarchic and trailblazing she was.

She was a firecracker and made no apologies for being ahead of her time. This wonderfully bright, emotional, savvy woman ran her own race.

On screen she asked the questions most of us wanted to know the answer to but none of us would ever have dared to ask.

Sex position

Paula Yates was irreverent, gobby and respectful, all wrapped up in one small, impish frame, topped with a bouncy mop of peroxide hair.

This woman truly dared. There’s no doubt her type of fortitude and confidence threatened other women, who often dismissed and sneered at her.

I was always full of subdued admiration. My abiding memory of Paula was bumping into her at some drinks do or t’other and she spoke to me like we were mates, like we’d known each other for a while.

So much so, that she shared with me a very fun fact about a certain sexual position which, ever since, has made it quite, quite difficult for me not to think about her whenever I’m engaged in a bit of bedroom gymnastics.

She was an engaging woman, and not the ditsy blonde she was often portrayed as.

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I only wish we’d appreciated her voice, her thoughts, ideas and courage a bit more at the time.

But maybe the world just wasn’t quite ready for her.





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