Monday, 24 November 2014

Play Let It Be, or Nevermind

I love that my children love music, and that their music tastes are so their own. The girl's first love was My Chemical Romance, not so different in intent than my teenage roots in punk, but she's moved on to all the floppy haired young men with guitars - Ben Howard, Aiden Grimshaw, Ed Sheeran, Tom Odell. My tastes have played their part - she recognises The Smiths at the first chord, and every time she hears them, I'm there with her. She'll text me at 3am to tell me they're playing a Smiths song in a club hundreds of miles away from where I'm sleeping, because of that, because when she hears them I'm there with her. They were a backdrop to her childhood.

For Goldie it's been The National. He doesn't appreciate them just now, but he will, he will. And every time he hears them I'll be there with him.  He loves high energy music with a repetitive beat. Avicii, Clean Bandit, Rudimental. It exhausts me sometimes. I'm desperate for something melancholy, something low key, but I love how he loves it, how he gets lost in it.

I've been listening to music that plunges me backwards in time. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions playing Forest Fire spins me back to Glastonbury festival in about 1988, that song just as the sky broke into a summer afternoon storm. Joan Armatrading singing Love and Affection plunges me into a single bed in a tiny room in a west London house, with a man whose lost to me now. Prefab Sprout is a  particular afternoon when Peel and I should have been at school but were drinking coffee with an adored 6th former who'd chosen to notice us and take us to the cafĂ© above Matins the newsagents.

Months ago, I paid a ridiculously high price for a single resale ticket for The National's current tour. A mixture of ....shame? embarrassment? at my own extravagance and self indulgence, and a slight mistrust in the website I'd bought it from meant that I haven't been able to look forward to it, to even admit it's happening, really, until today, when the ticket arrived, 2 days before the show on Wednesday. I need to cram all that anticipation into the next couple of days. I'm off to get lost in The National.

Don't Swallow The Cap - The National

Thursday, 20 November 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are finding, writing, dressing, thinking, beginning.

We have been finding room for a sofa that I saw in a second hand shop, and asked my parents to help us buy for our Christmas present. It meant clearing out the conservatory add on at the back of the house which has been much used, but a little unloved. We cleaned and emptied, burnt and shifted to make it a space of sculpture and wood waiting to be sculpted and plants, which meant we could subsequently find space in our living room for the new to us sofa when it arrives, hopefully at some point today.

A couple of weeks ago somebody (a writer) said to me, out of the blue, "you are going to write a book, aren't you?" Perhaps I would, if I ever had a coherent idea. Anyway, it made me think about writing. Just think about it though.

Snake and I went to the coast for his birthday last week, and found ourselves booking to eat in a smart hotel restaurant instead of picking up fish and chips to eat on the beach, which is what I'd envisaged (there isn't always much option in between those extremes in an out of season seaside town on the east coast here). I only had jeans and a scruffy jumper with me, so we visited the charity shops, and I ended up dressing in a new to me outfit of a long alpaca wool skirt, a Gap t-shirt, and a Betty Johnson cardigan, all for under £10. I still had to wear my ridiculous winter boots and my dog walking coat, so I wasn't exactly smart - in fact, I probably looked very much like I'd botched together an outfit from a charity shop - but I was happy.

I've been thinking about what I do, and whether what I do is enough, whether it's OK to just keep doing it. I went for a drink with a friend, BB, and she asked what I'd do for a career if I could do anything, and it's a really hard question for me. She is ridiculously accomplished and successful - among many other things, she is some sort of fellow at Cambridge University, and I found out this week when she casually referred to it, has for years mentored somebody massively influential whose products are used by me and most of the people I know. She is already thinking of when her boys leave home, and what she can do next. But my job is OK at the moment, and I am involved with Fawcett, and the school where I'm governor, and my family and friends. I find it hard to look ahead, or to imagine myself in a role that I haven't fallen into. Maybe I should have a back up plan. Maybe I should have said "I'm thinking about writing a book".

At work,  I think I'm beginning to see new ways to lead the team through this transformation we've been asked to instigate. There is a huge challenge in somebody who has little interest in processes (me) and is comfortable with feeling the way and making it up, leading a team who have previously been pressured into micro processing every stage of their work. We're all working on finding some sort of middle ground, between my vision of a colourful, every changing swirl of activity, and others need for a clearly signposted path. It's good. At the moment, I like my work.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are laughing, crying, cooking, looking, planning.

There has been quite a lot of lovely laughing this week...perhaps most intensely last night. Snake and I went away to the coast for his birthday, and late in the evening went for a walk on the completely dark beach. As I headed towards the sea, Snake reminded me that the shingle drops away very sharply at one point. I was assuring him that I'd be fine at the very moment that I stepped into mid air and landed flat on my back, my fall cushioned by the wine I'd drunk, and pebbles. 

Not crying, I don't think. Should I be worried?

At the weekend I ended up cooking for nine people at a couple of hours notice. A group of us frequently have a shared Sunday meal, usually at Ms' M's a she has the biggest table and biggest oven, and we usually share the actual cooking bit, but because of a set of complications, the venue was changed and I was supplied with ingredients but not the usual help. It went fine.

It could be said that I went looking for a UFO today, although I am entirely pragmatic and lean more towards the lighthouse and comet theories to explain the weird occurrences of the 1980's sightings in Rendlesham Forest. Still, it's a spooky type of place, not the usual friendly woodland I walk through. I was glad to be out well before dark. Also, last night, after my fall finding myself looking straight up at a very beautiful clear night sky.

Uncharacteristically, I am already planning Christmas. Snake's mother and my parents are coming here this year. There's a lot about Christmas that trigger anxiety and just a specific humbuggy misery in me, but the getting lots of people around a table for too much food is the good bit, and I'm thinking quite happily about what will be best to cook to please everyone.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

You were right about the end

Time has felt strange to me this last couple of weeks - light, pliable. The weeks are going quickly, but last weekend could have been a year ago.

I think it's because time has stopped dragging at me. I'm not battling my way through the hours any more. I think it's another aspect of being well.

Walking through a thickening dusk at a speed I couldn't manage all last winter, when I pulled myself on daily walks through mud and rain and wind, mile and hour after mile and hour. I'm walking still along the same paths, through the same elements, but the air isn't fighting me now, and moving forward, choosing my pace, travelling at speed, feels...sort of....joyful?

Daughters of the Soho Riots - The National