Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy, Jolly, Splendid

Just to say I hope the coming year brings you many little joys, and at least one strength increasing challenge, so that at the end of it you can look back and think "I did good!"  XXXXXXXXX

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I came across this quotation from Morton Feldman (who I meant to google, knowing nothing of him, but forgot) somewhere on the internet.

So I stamped it in my journal (with Christmas gift stamping kit!) and pondered.

I don't need to pursue anxiety, it follows me around like a starving dog. So, I'm lucky, I have plenty of material for my art. I just need to stroke it, and maybe give it a sausage, and then get to work.

I'm thinking of advertising my services as a cleaning lady as I need to earn money but want to keep my mind free to work on the second draft of my novel. New Year's Resolution #1: get the bloody book back on track.

I need to get my second book properly underway, too, so that's NYR #2, and learn Latin. I have a teach yourself book somewhere, NYR #3: locate it and spend half an hour a day on it. I wonder if half an hour's enough?

Stevie doesn't think I'll make it as a cleaner because my marketing skills are impossibly bad. But I'm not sure much more than a card in the newsagent's window is required. Of course, that might be because my marketing skills are impossibly bad.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Fairy Lights

Today in this the northern hemisphere is the shortest day, in terms of light. The darkest day of the year. Tomorrow will be lighter, and it will, daily, continue to get lighter and lighter, warmer and warmer, for six whole months. At first it won't feel any ligher, and it may be even colder tomorrow, but we will have the sun for a little longer. And so it will go. By February it will be noticeable, and I'll start saying things like: "blimey, it's still light and it's six o'clock!" I love February for that.

One of the benefits of being this age is experience: I know the light will return because it has done so for all of my (fifty) years. Dark may insinuate it's way into my life until it becomes a wall I can't get through or over, but all I need do is look back at all the other walls I have made it past, and not lose hope. It's not always easy to hang on to hope – I often need to manufacture it, and I guess that's one of the reasons we have Christmas: it gives us something to look forward to in the gloom – but it is possible, with a little help. I've just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and it was exactly the illumination I needed.

I have never experienced anything as cold and dark as the inhabitants of Guernsey did during WW2. I've never suffered long term starvation, or feared for my life, once, let alone daily for five years. And I never had to make a decision about whether to send my child away for his own safety, and then having decided to do so (wisely in hindsight) lost contact with him (and the whole of the outside world) for five years. How must it have felt to not know how one's child is faring, if s/he is alive or dead, healthy or sick? Every day must have felt interminable and barely tenable. My reading was halted at that part by, not just tears, convulsions. I had to take several deep breaths before I could continue. Yet those people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, kept going and, mostly, survived; their children came home, and light returned. I felt much better after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


We have reached the bottom of the wintry abyss and all we have to do is hang on to hope in order to rise back up to the top. For this I think I'm going to need a lot of books, so if anyone has any light infusing recommendations I'd be very grateful.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Something for the Armoire

As I said two posts ago, the room in my head so recently vacated by two of my teaching jobs is large and echoey, and not unlike this:

Source: http://fibreciment.deviantart.com/art/LALM-09-124470018?q=gallery%3Afibreciment&qo=161

As you can see, other members of the dispossessed have been in and sprayed the walls with their secret messages. A stray dog wanders in from time to time, but never stays. A tramp poked his head in the door the other day and asked me if I needed anything. He could spare some change, he said, for a cup of tea. I said, thank you, but once I get the stove

Source: http://thecroft.wordpress.com/2007/01/

lit I'd make some. He was welcome to stay and have a cup, I told him, but he snorted and left. Maybe he was a Twinings man.

Anyway, I'm beginning to feel more at home here, I dragged an armoire off a skip, gave it a lick of paint, and already the echoes have quietened.

Last night, whilst dozily blog browsing I popped into Monica's , briefly joined in the chat about what to do with ideas, and happily left with something (to flog the metaphor to death) to place on a shelf in the armoire. I think it might be fine French linen.

Regular readers of this blog will know I  keep a journal, I've banged on about it on several occasions, it's mostly filled with whinings of the "I'm not writing..." sort. Monica doesn't keep a journal, but she does keep a notebook specially for ideas. This keeps them safe for possible future realization. Mmm...

I tend to scribble ideas on my wall, along with lesson plans, to-dos, and all number of other things. But they get wiped off before I ever get a chance to realise them, to make room, often enough, for new ideas. I could single out one of the huge number of note books that lurk, dustily, around this room and use it for the job, but I know myself well enough to know I won't use it regularly. My ideas usually resemble fleshless pinkie bones when they first appear, not really worth writing down on paper.

As I was leaving a comment on Monica's post it suddenly struck me: all I need do to safeguard ideas that may in the future be useful (fleshable), not to mention to-dos that have yet to be done, is take a snap of the wall before each wiping. Or, better still, every morning. This means when I get a new idea and need to jot it down before it evaporates I'll be able to clear a space for it without having to stop and find my camera. Which, lets face it, I'm unlikely to be bothered to do. So that's that then: every morning when I sit down with a cup of tea at my desk I will pick up my camera and take a shot of my wall. Here's the first one (be prepared to get very tired of this):

As you can see there's bugger all on it. And some of it's been there a while. I hope this will change as I retake possession of my head-space. 

I wonder if I'll be able to bring myself to wipe these names off now I know they'll be safely stored in a snap-shot? They were the first things I scrawled all those years ago because I was writing a lot of short stories (for my degree), and I kept calling all my characters Lucy. 

I don't write short stories any more, so I don't really need them, but, I don't know, there's something of the cenotaph about them which attracts me. 

So, recap, a little corner of my head-space is now cosy with the idea to take a photo of my wall every morning, and then wipe it clean. Or, should I wipe it? That could make me anxious to fill it just for the next shot, which isn't really the point.  

Sunday, 11 December 2011


I hadn't been to the cinema for ages, and I love films. But not having a tv or radio I rather relied on Bob (womb fruit) to keep me informed of what was on. Now he's gone off to become himself without parental interference I have no clue. However, when I logged on to Twitter for the Foyles Friday book game my eyes fell on a tweet from TED about Hugo. I can't remember what it said but whatever it was diverted my attention from the game and sent me off to find out more. And yesterday we went to see it.

God it was good. It's about secrets, and purpose; losing, finding, hiding, revealing. It's beautifully realised: the colours, the sounds, even the way the characters move contribute to the story.  As I sat and watched I was a child again, transported to a more colourful world for a couple of hours. I cried, I laughed, I gasped.

Set in 1930s Paris it's about an orphaned boy (Hugo) whose guardian – uncle Claude (Ray Winstone) – a station clock setter has disappeared. Hugo lives in the station and tends to the clocks while he waits for his uncle to return. While he waits he attempts to continue a task his father had begun before his death: fix an old, rusted automaton and find the key to make it work once more. He feeds himself by snaffling croissants, and does his best to avoid the station inspector (played brilliantly by Sasha Baron Cohen) who has a passion for sending stray children to the orphanage. Then one day he is caught trying to steal a clockwork mouse by the toy booth owner, Papa Georges... Hugo, I'd say, is about as perfect a Christmas film as I've seen in years, and it has set a seasonal tone to the weekend which I hope to eek out a little longer.

As luck would have it today is the last farmers' market before Christmas, thankfully it's neither raining, snowing, or blowing. So I'm off to see if Alison has any chutneys that might spruce up cold goose; what chocolate confections Dennis has to give as gifts, and if that nice smoked trout man has anything left (he tends to sell out early) to brighten the between Christmas and New Year table. I'm hoping the cheese lady is there too, and the man who makes delicious coconut fudge, not his only flavour but my current favourite. While I'm there I'll see if I can uncover a story or two.  

Monday, 5 December 2011

Industrial space

A friend told me recently that she had started her bucket list, I had to ask what that was. I think I will start one too, there are so many things about which I used to say "one day...", but I am beginning to feel that I have been flung past that day. If I don't make some plans, and implementation intentions, I'll find myself on my deathbed thinking "bugger!"

How cheery of me, first post in a month and I'm writing about death. Do apologise.

I seem to have been caught up in a whorl of work: teaching two community writing classes, and a textual analysis class to first year undergraduates at the local university campus. I love teaching but it takes up all the space in my head, so I get on with the rest of life rather like an ant. Now, though, two of the classes have finished and I should be back to normal, but that space, vacated, resembles a derelict warehouse. There's mould on the walls, a few broken panes, and a twisted tree growing in a corner. It needs a lick of paint, a few pictures on the wall, some heating. It's terribly echoey, and I've been wandering around it for the last week afraid to speak because my voice bounces back to me at an unholy volume. It needs furniture and rugs for absorption. I need to write again.

So, back to blogging: the cognitive equivalent of a huge armoire.

That's all I can think of to say for now, so here's a photo taken this morning from my bedroom window.

Tomorrow I'll see if I can find a little something to put in the armoire, even if it's only a stained tea towel.