Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sauvignon fierce

Yesterday, an early morning text from a friend and an arrangement to meet for an evening drink. I get home late from work, having battled through roads brought to crawling pace by the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo.

I want to walk the couple of miles into town, because this is the friend who led me to stop drinking 25 months after a particularly dissolute night at her home, and the friend who I broke that fast with earlier this year and it feels fitting that I drink wine with her. So I drip patchouli oil on my dog waking coat, the most weather proof garment I own, and set out through the night.

We meet in a pub run by women, full of women, and talk about how wild weather invigorates, about her changed life (she's newly single), about our boys, our work, our parents.

Late at night, after more alcohol than I'm used to now, I speed walk back across town, risking balance by throwing my head back to look at the stars.

Today has been experienced through the slightly hallucinatory glaze of a lack of sleep and a mild hangover.

Baby, we'll be fine - The National

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Currently

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 appreciating, feeling, looking, regretting, playing.

I'm really appreciating how Goldie has so many friends who are girls. He always has had, but now is a time of such change for them all. But still he spends a couple of evening a week, and some of most weekends with the girl who is his best friend, and remains close to Ms M's daughter, and to Ms K's girl who he has played with since babyhood. Maybe one day it will all get a little more complicated, but just now all is happiness and calm (at least, that's what I see).

Just today, feeling that mixture of relief and sadness that can accompany a late period finally arriving. At 45, I know that's more likely to be a sign of menopause than pregnancy, but still, yesterday I started various google searches about pregnancy when you're older, pregnancy and citalopram. It would objectively be a bad idea for us now - we're still scraping by financially, and a lot of the time I'm scraping by emotionally as well. And I don't really want to be in a position of supporting someone through university, or whatever they choose to do, in my 60's. On the other hand , I know all that would pale into insignificance if I really had a chance to bring up another child. Still, mostly relieved.

I'm looking forward to a week off with Snake at the end of October. We will go to see the girl, and London to do some stuff that needs doing, but we'll have some time too. What would you do with an empty afternoon in London?

This week I agreed to join a lottery syndicate. About 10 minutes later, they discovered a win which amounted to about £100 each. So I am regretting  not joining a little earlier, and imagining that there probably won't be another win for awhile.

I'm playing, well, the lottery now, obviously, but with a feeling of doom.

Monday, 13 October 2014

There's a science to walking through windows

Over the last couple of weeks I've been on a course about applying attachment based theories to adult social care practice. It's been a bit of a revelation. I'm trying to process it, all the stuff about a certain type who thinks instead of feels, and who deflects concern onto others, who says "my childhood was fine - I was just an unhappy child" and/ or "my childhood was a bit crap, but that's OK because I left home early and was perfectly able to look after myself". All the stuff I've been working through and seeing the faults in over the last couple of years, bought together and delivered in front of colleagues. Lots to think about (and some feeling to be done too, I guess).

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Saturday was a Human Rights and Democracy Fair in the cathedral in town, and I was on the Fawcett Society stall, which mostly meant talking to lovely people who were there with their own specific brand of passion and values. I think the man from Christian Aid was my favourite. He started out quite distant and business like, careful, afraid of the distance there might be between us, and after 5 minutes discussion was practically hopping with fury at the tax dodging corporations who lead directly to people going hungry or without health care in some parts of Africa. So wonderful, so life affirming, when people show that they give a shit. We also had a man with a 6 foot crucifix under his arm, who repeatedly told us that we were not equal to men and needed to accept that, and asked what would become of Elton John's children when they grew up and had to fill in a form. "But the forms have changed now" we told him "they recognise different families. The world's moved on that much". Eventually he moved on, too, to the next stall, to tell them that we were shameless harlots. Change can be hard.

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A nasty party, borderline racist, borderline homophobic, borderline misogynistic, gained a seat in Parliament this week. They got a small proportion of a small turnout - basically their 'victory' is more an expression of apathy on the part of most of the electorate than anything else. Still, how depressing. The opposite of the Christian Aid man. 

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I've been reading a lot over the last few months. My favourite has been We Were All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, which I noticed the other day has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I want to read it again already. It has a central shock to it that I don't want to risk giving away, and I think it will be a different book without that surprise. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton I probably wouldn't have finished if it wasn't for book club but I'm glad I did, though I'm sure I was missing something important in not getting all the astrological references. The Children Act by Ian McEwan was thinner in all sorts or ways than I expected, but an insight into a world I've seen glimpses of through work. A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray also seemed to miss the point a little. And now I've hit upon a seam of books set on the Suffolk coast; The Sea House by Esther Fraud, and Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson, as engaging because of the settings which I know and love as for the characters or writing.

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I'm back on citalopram and back on that mental health patient cycle of "but I feel OK now! I can stop taking the meds!". 6 months, minimum, is what's recommended, which should get me through winter. I'm hoping for cold bright days and lots of snow and ice - proper winter. So far, October is making up for a long dry summer with days of rain, pulling the leaves off the trees.


Graceless - The National

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Currently

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 reading, thinking, feeling, eating, dreaming.

It was real life book group this week, and I managed to finish reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton in good time, although not without some effort. I sometimes think we're a bit of a crap book group as I am not convinced that everyone in it really even likes books, but all attendees are lovely women and the time is well spent.

I have mostly been thinking about aspects of the newly launched project at work. Broadly exciting and positive but with some of the detail and process (the bits I shy away from) causing out of all proportion problems.

This whole week has been just full of feelings - mostly not mine for a change, but I am blaming lunacy - as in, despite all types of scepticism and pragmatism and feet on the ground-ism, I really do think the huge bright moon that has been preventing me from sleeping has also caused the tears, the outbursts, the hysterical laughter, the shouting in corridors. Yesterday at work was insane. Totally. Just....out of control bonkers. After a 12 hour day of absorbing many peoples many loudly expressed feelings I crawled home slack jawed with exhaustion and in wonder at the complexities of human social interaction.

Most of what I have been eating has been what is easiest to prepare late in the evening - last night, some fried up left over sweet potato mash, with an egg and some grated cheese that was sitting in the fridge. Although also yesterday, amongst all and adding to the chaos at work, there was a leaving lunch for a psychology trainee. I'd quickly made some guacamole to take in, with far too much garlic, to keep away the vampires.

It's dark and cold and rainy here. I'm dreaming of that first night in Spain last summer, on the roof many floors up with the rusty hand rail, looking out across Santander, letting the heat soak into our bones, with a holiday still stretching before us.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Our hands are covered in cake but I swear we didn't have any

Snake and I first met in a squat in East London. It was a rough and unloved bit of London, with many empty, publicly owned buildings ripe for use by groups of political, idealistic students of the local polytechnic.

I'd lived in several previous squatted houses, while Snake had been in student accommodation, until a man called Boris brought two groups of people together under one roof. We had the most glorious few months of sun and parties and lots of people getting to know each other. Music and chaos. Relationships forming and waning and splintering and shattering and triangulating.

Even in that unloved area, and even with student grants, we couldn't afford London rents and using empty buildings made sense. It was risky and insecure and rough, but we looked out for each other and we made it work, just about.

Long after we'd moved on, in the years leading up to the London Olympics, a whole load of work was done on that unloved area to make it fit for the eyes of the world. That work included clearing out a whole estate of public housing, including three 20 storey tower blocks. One of the families that had a compulsory purchase order made against them were good friends of ours, who'd lived their for 40 plus years. Once the buildings were empty...nothing happened.  They stayed empty, looking over the Olympic Park, the most valuable views in the world for a couple of weeks, deserted. Wasted.

As was always part of the intention of the investment into the Olympics, Stratford has suddenly become this valuable place to live, and there's money to be made, huge amounts of money from all it's previously unloved corners, with old, familiar pubs and good, family homes being pulled down to build luxury apartments with penthouses so that you can buy those same view that were pointlessly denied to people who were moved from their homes (and those people that moved, of course the money that they were paid wasn't enough for them to buy in Stratford, or if they were still council tenants they weren't offered alternative homes in Stratford because that land was suddenly, finally becoming worth something with the multi billion Olympic investment).

So, there's this group of young women who were living in a hostel in this bit of London, in their home borough. They were all mothers or expectant mothers and they were all homeless for one reason or another. The hostel gave them somewhere safe to be and sheltered them until they could be provided with proper homes to bring up their families. But then, they were told that housing in Stratford was too valuable to used for the likes of them, and that they needed to be planning to move 100's of miles away where land wasn't so pricey. And these women, young and poor and learning to be mothers, joined together and resisted and created the Focus E15 Mothers. They've been campaigning and making a noise and talking sense for a year now, and to celebrate their anniversary they went to that emptied before the Olympics, not yet pulled down estate and occupied a couple of the flats there, with their big banners declaring things like:

these people needs homes; these homes need people
 
 
and
 
 
 
social housing not social cleansing
 
 
 
On Saturday, Snake and I went along to visit them. We managed to find the remains of the old Stratford that still exists behind the park and the shiny, outsized, spookily futuristic shopping centre that's been created, and we marvelled that the old footbridge over the railway lines that we used to cross to visit our friend had survived the huge redevelopment. In the occupied homes we chatted to scruffy young supporters about their plans and about how it was round there 25 years ago, and about how impressed we were with the for fighting back, for standing up to money and power. They made us tea and Snake made a visitors book for them after he mentioned they should have one (there was loud cursing at the fact that no one had thought of it before - Russell Brand visited last week). It was all risky and insecure and rough and like those places we used to be, with people all looking out for each other. It felt like home, like one of my homes.
 
They've moved out of the flats now, after making an agreement with the council, but they're still fighting.
 
Proper protest, proper action. 



The National -The Geese of Beverly Road