Posted in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Music I Like

Remembering in Light and Dark

People are talking about the Beast from the East coming back. There’s a deep chill in the air, and phantoms are hurling themselves through the cat-flap. The lid of a storage bin outside flew up and jammed in the hedge, allowing torrents of rain to pour inside till I secured it with a twig. International relations are frosty, yet there are friends, old and new; there’s warmth, hope on the horizon… and light rising against the dark.

I don’t know if you’ve read the children’s book The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It’s the second book of a series, but I loved it. It fitted with the topic of a school dissertation I was writing, which I may have engineered deliberately… anyway, I remember a line in the book about light and dark being forever at war. Sometimes one seems stronger; sometimes the other, but neither wins altogether. All or most of the books I referred to had something to say along those lines.

In The Dark is Rising there were Old Ones and Old Ways. The Old Ways were safe routes, and when times were bad, Old Ones from different times and places came together to keep the dark at bay. My memory of the series is fuzzy, but I loved the whole idea of it, along with the high drama. It was as though we risked falling through the ice into the spinning vortex of space and time, never to return.

Today I’ve been listening to music for the first time since my mother returned from hospital. I blogged about the last time in A Ray of Old Sunshine, when everything seemed to be going wrong but I found a moment to fix the speakers of my old hi-fi.

Tonight I was upstairs working, and decided to play my newest batch of CDs. They are powerful albums such as Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, but the song that made me sit up was Clean, from Ryan Adam’s version of 1989.

When I stopped to listen, the screensaver came on with a miscellany of pictures in no particular order, all ones I’d worked on. Cats gazing, tree reaching into the blue, fractals, mother’s silhouette, over-saturated beach with pink clouds, a dark wood, raindrops on a window, evening sunshine on a hill… It reminded me of times in my life when I thought differently about things; talked to different people; had different aims, tried a little too hard (yikes, look at the detail on that one!) Maybe I’m not so different now. Some of it was part of the journey and fell away, but the rest followed right along.

With the song Clean pushing me out into the light, I felt all of a sudden that I could fall in love with my own life just as it is. If it had been unremittingly dull from birth till now, I’d have no reason to… if I’d had no strong feelings about anything or anybody, there’d be nothing to stand out. I’ve been through hell emotionally, and no doubt there’s more that lies ahead, but I love it all for being mine.

It doesn’t matter if it’s completely washed away by time and events… my life took place and is as vivid as it ever was. Some companions came a long way with me and still pace alongside; others were lost long ago, but… my thoughts mirror and yet oppose the lyrics of the song, because while I swim, I won’t forget.

The rain came pouring down
When I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
By morning
Gone was any trace of you

Clean — Ryan Adams

Posted in Lost in Thought, Observations

Less Fear, More Adventure

I’m busier and more energetic than I was during previous months, but lurking under all of that is a feeling of sadness. I won’t say that I don’t know why… it would surprise me if there was even one person under the sun who doesn’t know the feeling. The more connected and involved you are, the more deeply buried is that discomfort, but it will surface eventually.

I think a lot of it is because things change so fast. You have parents, grandparents and friends at school, then suddenly it’s just your parents (maybe one parent), and friends at university (different friends)… then you are working and living somewhere else. You have pets, and when they die, you soothe your grief with new kittens or puppies, who grow old in their turn.

With every year, your past drops more and more behind, and all of a sudden you wake in the middle of the night and realize the sheer weight of all of the things you don’t have any more, some of which you didn’t even notice stopping or going away.

Every year it gets worse. The things and people you have right now, most of which you take for granted even while you love and appreciate them, will one day be mist and memories like everything else.

Even as you look around the room, paying more attention to your surroundings than you normally do, there’s something unsatisfying about the experience. Objects fade into hazy dimness after your gaze moves on, and it’s as though your here and now isn’t real… in fact, it isn’t! The moment is already gone, and what’s no longer in your sight (even while still in the room) is just memory… if that.

Your mind is the same — like your gaze, it moves over objects and environment, spotlighting things for as long as you care to dwell, then letting them slide into the dark. Having gone into that dark, it can be a struggle for some things to ever reappear again!

It turns into a merry-go-round or baggage carousel, with your thoughts as the same oddly shaped baggage passing time after time. There’s the big blue trunk… the drab rucksack… the red vanity case. The big blue trunk again — I’ll need it soon, but the moment’s not right. The red vanity case… so bright and pretty nobody would ever forget about it. Wasn’t there another one? What was it again, and do I care? I’m comfortable enough without it. Oh wait, the drab rucksack! I do need that because my documents are in it.

On some days the same bags pass repeatedly, and I can never understand why they don’t stay put in my mind for when I need them. Instead, they are doomed to constantly disappear, and when they reappear, I’m as surprised as I was the first time.

Some nights I use a particular thought to comfort myself, as though I’ve found a cosy spot and collected the red vanity case onto my knees. I open it and spend time admiring the colourful contents and inhaling favourite perfumes. I don’t move on from that for a while, but eventually my mind drifts away of its own accord, sometimes to scarier places. Finally those thoughts too, flit away, and I fall asleep.

I feel quite sorry for us as living beings. We aspire to be more, but are mere flashes of light and electricity; sparkling stardust and water. Amongst each other we walk, striving to keep each other fixed and secure, but things continually move on and change. New technologies become old in no time at all, and the sands shift beneath our feet.

And yet… nothing has changed at all. We’re the same people, living the same lives. I feel as though I’m living a life that somebody else has lived before me, experiencing trials and tribulations that troubled someone else in another age. The same words are used over and over through the generations… right, left, poverty, trade, global, independence, freedom, nation, kindness, love, fellowship, hope, despair. The old forces still stalk the land. We invent things… then decide the way we did things in the past were better, often because they were.

I’m rambling now; thoughts passing by repeatedly. I don’t know any more if they are connected — I’m just lighting on each one in turn.

This doesn’t mean we should cling to possessions no matter what. My family used to collect books, cameras, postcards, cat ornaments, Piggin ornaments, teddy bears, model cars… We also used to get into hobbies like silk painting, machine knitting, cross stitch, beadwork and more. Stuff built up around us and became a burden.

We made serious moves to declutter. The house is emptier but feels easier to clean and move around in. Things are easier to find. I remember a few items with regret and nostalgia, but in general there’s nothing I miss or would have back. I wish we had never accumulated so much stuff — it sat around for years and got in the way! Wasted space, wasted money, wasted energy.

We are more cautious buyers these days. The things we keep are those we really love or appreciate. Like everyone, we are limited… limited in energy, scope, memory, appetite, patience and time.

I’m not sure what the world would be like if there were no limits in what we could have, do or remember! That sounds like a dream come true, but if nothing was fresh and new any more, imagine the boredom. It’s nice for things (and living beings) to constantly renew; not just corporeal forms but also minds and personal experience — for young lambs to be born for whom the world is still a shining wonder. For those of us who have lived some time, forgetting may have its issues, but it’s also a part of healing.

Perhaps, instead of grieving after what we have lost, we should look forward to whatever might still come into our lives; new loves we don’t yet know… even if it’s only more space and greater peace, or a more unpredictable and adventurous life.

Posted in Cooking, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Observations

Today I’ll Create Something Beautiful

I was scrolling through my WordPress feed and glimpsed the following blog post: Today Isn’t Just Another Day — Today I’ll Create Something Beautiful.

Fleetingly I had a moment of regret, thinking, “but I can’t!” To me, to create would be to take the day off and paint a digital picture, create fractal art, put some effort into photography (strangely exhausting, which is why mostly I just take snapshots). Or I might take time to come up with a haiku I’m proud of, or write a long and thoughtful blog post.

Today I don’t have time to do any of these, so today I can’t create anything… and probably not tomorrow either, or the day after, or any day for a long while.

Then I realized, “but I did create something nice… I made potato and leek soup.”

There’s a small story behind that. I was trying to use up our vegetables, so they were bubbling away in the soupmaker. A rare bird came into the kitchen… my mother, wobbling slightly. She paused just inside the doorway and stared at the soup with popping eyes.

“What is it?” I said, worried I had damaged the soupmaker and hadn’t realized it yet.

“Nothing,” she said, snapping out of her rictus. “I would just have put an extra potato in… that’s all.”

“Oh. I meant to, but forgot. I guess if the leek is too strong, you can always add milk.”

Fortunately it wasn’t too leeky. When we were having it for lunch, my mother made a point of saying sincerely, “It’s very nice!”

That’s not all I created today. Two different soups, scrambled egg and steamed vegetables… that’s what I made of today! The other soup is carrot and sweet potato, and that’s to go in the freezer for a day when I’m too tired to cook.

For some reason the carrot soup frightened me more than the leek soup. It’s a ‘heavy’ soup (probably because of the iron-hard sweet potato) and would barely move inside the soupmaker jug when I hit the ‘stir’ button. Even when I blended it at the end, it swirled round reluctantly as though a great weight was bearing down on the blades. When I stopped pulsing it, would stop, then spit out a ‘glop!’ as though pretending to be volcanic mud.

The leek soup behaved beautifully all the way through, but the carrot soup wanted to hurl itself out of the jug, despite the fact that it had just the right amount of fluid and no more. Last year I had an accident with this same soupmaker… I put a little too much fluid in, and it boiled over. The hot soup gushed over the electric controls and I leapt forward and turned it off at the mains!

That experience really scared me. The carrot soup seemed to be doing its damnedest to do the same thing today, and I couldn’t go away and rest for even two minutes… I didn’t trust it.

Anyway, the carrot soup won’t be able to do much to anyone when I put it in the freezer tomorrow.

Of course, the blog post that inspired these ruminations isn’t about anything material at all. When talking about creating something beautiful, it doesn’t refer to art, cooking, sewing, flower displays or even a neat home. It’s more abstract than that — it’s about doing something kind for someone or taking time to consider your life and be grateful… it’s about making the day itself beautiful.

Maybe it’s working, because here I am thinking about my day and what I made of it. Coffee, tea, two soups, scrambled egg, steamed vegetables, and now a blog post. I’m happy because I feel I made a good job of the food. My mother could have eaten more, I felt, but she was alert, talkative and in a good mood.

I don’t blog unless I feel inspired, and it’s odd that I felt inspired when all I had to talk about was that one fleeting moment when I thought “but I can’t create anything any more.”

This is what I like about writing though… in the murky soup of our lives, things swirl round sluggishly or rise to the top with an enormous, sullen ‘glop!’ Writing about a fleeting moment or thought, a dream, a funny sight, or a short conversation might seem like nothing at the time… but what you have done is save one moment in a million. When you read it later, you will say “I don’t remember that!”… but that’s the point. All those other funny moments and silly dreams will have gone forever, because you did not write about them… but you did write about this.

We can’t save everything; we can’t write about every single moment of our lives, though I swear there are times I’ve really tried! It’s hard to say why you might save one thing but not another… that makes it better, somehow; the sheer randomness of it.

If today is to be as beautiful as I can make it, what else in it was worth the saving?

It was a bright and sunny day, but we got very cold in the afternoon and thought the heating had gone off yet again, and that we were in for another icy night. Fortunately it did come on eventually. I was grateful to be cosy again, and remembered how the chill crept up on us so stealthily that I was surprised to find all of a sudden that the skin on my arms was cold to the touch, and even my nose was cold! I must have been getting steadily chillier but hadn’t been paying attention.

Before the heat really kicked in, I made tea and brought a mug to my mother, and she immediately put her hands on it and held it without drinking. A little bit of warmth in an icy house… that was another good thing I made today.

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Life and Family, Lost in Thought

Letter to Myself

When I turned on the computer this morning, a surprise was waiting for me. iCal (my calendar) alerted me to a Letter to Myself that I wrote a year ago. And my first thought was, “oh no, do I really HAVE to read this?? I was going to get more work done on my drawing!”

I told myself off for being lazy, found the letter to myself, read it, and thought, “is that it? No blinding words of insight that will add something to my day? It’s all stuff I could have written yesterday (or could write tomorrow), though I do have glasses that work now (varifocals), and have found some (not all) of the books I was looking for.”

Unimpressed. Though that snippet about my father was of value, as I would have forgotten it otherwise.

I didn’t say much about it last year: Memory of a Garden. But below is the blog post I meant to post last year, and didn’t!

WordPress prompt:

“Write a short letter to yourself, to be read one year from now. You don’t have to post the entire letter, but you do have to:

(a) write it

(b) post about what surprised you the most about what you wrote

(c) whether you found the experience interesting or not…

…and don’t forget to set a reminder in your calendar to read it in one year.”

Thursday 21st July 2011

Dear Me,

I have no idea where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing, but I hope all of your current aches will have gone, and that you’re wearing glasses that work! (Right now I can’t read, write or draw well, with or without them). I hope you’ll have found and read the books on your ‘to track down’ list… Sean Thomas Russell, the missing Patrick O’Brian novels, Robin Hobb, Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts.

I don’t know what else I hope for you, as I can’t wish a particular course in case it’s the wrong one. Que sera, sera, perhaps… but the newspaper article that Mum found today struck a chord… she handed it to me with a significant look.

Meet Generation X: Women born between 1965 and 1978 aren’t having children OR success in their careers… Why? (by Anna Pursglove).

After reading it, I was silent for a little, then said, “Obviously we haven’t flattened the men quite enough. I vote we start with [censored].

“Spoilt for choice!” said Mum, with a basilisk glare.

She said earlier today how men of previous generations did not like shopping — but my father ‘was unusual’ because he enjoyed it. I asked what was in it for him? Gadgets? And she said “I don’t know. Just enjoyed looking.” It lifted my heart to think of him enjoying such frivolity. Of course he always was warm and human, but it makes him seem even more so.

My main regret, I think, is that everything rushes by so fast — and sometimes you don’t fully understand or appreciate people, things or places till they are long in the past. To want them back seems useless — to fly in the face of how life is.

Regret is also futile in other regards — if I didn’t say or do certain things, I wouldn’t be me. Sometimes you read something bad you wrote, or find a depressingly poor picture you’d worked on for hours, but other times there’s a pleasant surprise or two. Today I found panoramic images I didn’t remember creating — of the garden and my bedroom! Rough, but evocative.

Just don’t give up on yourself… try to keep your ship afloat, like in this morning’s dream. It would have been easy to let it sink, but I kept on and was around to rescue someone who sank his own. Also, it’s such a cliche to say “you’re never alone,” but it’s true that you’re one speck among many who share similar experiences.

That last bit sounds detached and a little frightening, as though you could blow away at any moment and never be seen again through the swirling dust storm. But you’re still in there, along with people you know — the dust cloud is all of us.

I’m beginning to feel a bit lost in this message, and my pen has already run out, so I better stop. As you know, there is the blog and the private journal if you want to read more from the past! Asterix and Obelix are waving to you from the side trolley, as perhaps they are waving to me from wherever you are. The song in my head is ‘I Am, I Said’ by Neil Diamond, which is strangely apt.

Please keep blogging, reading, making pictures/videos, sitting in the sun outside, looking round the shops… enjoy life while you have it.

Lots of love,


To complete this assignment, I’m supposed to post about what surprised me the most about the above letter, and whether I found the experience interesting.

Previously I scoffed at myself, writing ‘…my entire journal is a letter to any future me who cares to read it.’ But some things came out in the letter that I was too lazy to write in my regular entry for the day… Mum’s words, the panoramic pictures and the newspaper article. I don’t mention my blurring eyesight much either, though it causes me problems every day. I wonder if it will be better a year from now, or worse? Will I have found a solution… bifocals??

Did anything surprise me about the letter? Yes, that it wasn’t longer and more waffly! That things like my dream fitted into what I was trying to say. That I wouldn’t tie myself down to anything more specific, such as a better career or a more organized life… as I know how life often isn’t what you expect.

Something I didn’t mention in either letter or private journal entry but which I found interesting… Apple is building what I would call a mini city or a Ringworld. Rather scary… but I wonder if there is room there for me. 🙂 I could do a panoramic photo there…. “my new abode”.

Posted in Desktop Pictures, Lost in Thought

Like a Kid

Art work… don’t know if I’m as talented as I would like to be, but your words are as balm. 🙂 The jewelly wallpaper I was working on, well there’s a technique for such a jewel (there are a couple of tutorials on the wallpaper site). Though I have been trying for years and I think that one’s the best I managed so far… there were a couple of things I finally figured out!

Crossed my mind I keep putting the ‘postaweek2011’ tag on my posts even if I’m posting every day, or once a month, or haven’t taken up any of WordPress’s suggested topics. So I scrolled back through past suggestions till I found one I liked: “What makes you feel like you’re still a kid?”

Oh, let me count the ways…

(1) The temptation to take all the credit to myself. 🙂

(2) A certain perspective from halfway up a hill… when you look back down at a tiny building at the foot, and everywhere else is countryside. That’s an odd one, I admit. I know the view I’m thinking of (halfway up to visit my grandparents) but I’m not sure why it had the impression it did. Why not my first view of the cottage, when the car crunched round the tight, pineconey corner at the top of the hill and through the gates? Why was I so struck by looking back down the hill at the garage?? But every so often I see something similar, and there’s a feeling of magic.

(3) Remembering what enthusiasm feels like… for a few seconds!

(4) When something really tickles my funny bone and I laugh out loud. For instance, when I borrowed ‘Simon’s Cat’ from the library today.

There’s a second part to this topic: “What makes you feel like an adult?”

(1) Pain I think, more than anything else. Sullied memories, disillusion, fading hopes, eroding health.

(2) Realizing I can keep quiet and not ask for reassurance from anyone. The whole ‘keeping it to yourself and not worrying others’ thing.

(3) The feeling that you’ve seen it all… at least in your corner of the world. Boredom with things you thought funny or interesting when they were fresh and new.

I wonder if I enjoy playing in Photoshop because it absorbs my thoughts for a while, and I don’t need to think about anything else. I have control over a little world of my own — for instance, I’ve been making houses in Photoshop (not very well), but (when I finally got there) I loved creating the details. I’m looking down on the top of those houses, come to think, and I love them best when they look distant, as though I could pick them up and hold them in the palm of my hand.

They haven’t gone anywhere yet, but I did post the jewelly wallpapers:

Living Emerald

Lurking and Glowing

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Life and Family, Perfumes

Home is Where the Heart Is

On Geo’s post What If, I was trying to sound deep by saying that we can always go home, even if we think we can’t, because we carry home with us. That idea comes and goes, because sometimes you feel that you can never go home (if you think of home as being a particular place at a particular time, surrounded by specific people). But at other times you realize that you have certain memories and resources inside yourself which do just as well, probably because they stem directly from the experiences and people you are thinking of.

Having written my comment, I realized that I was wearing a perfume my mother gave me… Summer Hill by Crabtree and Evelyn. It is a lovely, sweet, summery scent, and strangely familiar. It’s very like one I was given as a little girl, and I wonder if maybe it’s the same. I had a shower tonight and put the perfume on, and it took me right back to that ‘home’ I spoke of — where we had Christmas carols on the old record player, and my grandmother would stand on our icy doorstep saying “it’s chilly for June”… Along with that memory came warmth, and a sense of peace and belief in the future.

Posted in Books, Lost in Thought, Music I Like

Forever Live and Die

There was something I did when I was studying at school that was oddly interesting in later years; I was writing biology notes in a folder, and at the top of each page (to wake myself up, presumably) I got in the habit of writing the name of a favourite song. ‘Dream a Lie’ by UB40 was one. So you look back at these notes, and there are all these old songs I was listening to at the time… quite atmospheric.

I’ve sometimes thought about reviving that in my journal, but mostly now I sit in silence, and so the songs mentioned are just the ones stuck in my head. At the moment it’s Forever Live and Die by OMD. That takes me right back to a book I was reading about 20 years ago… about drifters. It was sad, and seemed to fit in with the song. I can’t even remember what book it was — just the cold grip of it.

I was feeling a touch depressed over the past couple of days… just life! In my sleep I was thinking how I couldn’t get interested in anything, even pairing up my socks. I went to town and didn’t want to do anything or look at anything… I looked at sketch pads and pencils, and thought how I would have been all over them once. Now I couldn’t care less.

Then tonight ‘The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency’ came on TV, and that was just what the doctor ordered. I love that. I particularly love how she seems to feel no need to involve the police or the law! I’ve only read the first book… I must read the rest.

Posted in Blogging, Hearing Loss, My Cats, Photographs, Technology and Software

Bloggy Hush

My blog went a bit quiet, didn’t it? I took a shot at working out why in my journal.

Sunday 15th Feb 2009

Feeling different today — not sure why. Elizabeth’s latest writing challenge is ‘A Feeling of Harmony‘ — would like to try, if I could get it together. (Is there something ironic about that?)

Feeling slightly scattered today. PC struggling. It was making quite a racket tonight so I shut it down and turned it off at the mains. There’s a risk it won’t ever turn on again when I finally try, but I won’t lose much of importance — the stuff  is backed up.

Just had a realization — been quiet on blog. I think it’s because I got so into writing this journal again, which is ironic, as I stopped journalling when I got deep into the blog a while back. Then I realized something important was missing from my life, and picked up the journal again. I only seem able to run both of them at full whack for a while, and then something gives.

I need to express my thoughts somehow, and they’re not all blogworthy… but if my journal was just a few lines or half a page a day, it wouldn’t have the same ‘gravity pull’ that this monster has, and the blog would stand a better chance.

I’m curious now; if I had to summarize today in a few lines, what would I choose to highlight? I’ll try that at the end of this entry.

Song in head is still Don’t Cry for Me Argentina by the Shadows.

When I was looking on the PC, I found a folder of ‘cat movies’. Truly dreadful they are, and all too short, but they are of Thor, Fusspot, Sharky. I didn’t want to look at them but couldn’t help myself. I started with ‘Fusspot talking’, and went on to all the rest. I smiled at them, even chuckled, but when I turned back to the Mac, I got sad.

Delilah came and looked at me, and I gave her a long hug, and played with the woodpecker-on-a-pole toy. She put her nose against it as though to feel its vibrations.

Don’t cry for me…

I need a new computer. I wish Apple would hurry up and update the iMac. I wonder if I should get a PC… even a little one would probably be faster and roomier… the old one is more than 10 years old. It has been around for Thor, Fusspot, Sharky, Lucky and all their photos.

That’s why I feel different. I’m contemplating change. The PC reminds me of the old cats and the old house, and I’m having to give it up now. And it’s also because I’m looking back more vividly (the movies). And there’s a funny smell around here — it came in through my bedroom window and all the cracks in the house. On some days I think “what’s that weird smell?” and it turns out to be ‘sea haar’ or something… but I’m not sure about today. It’s like varnish. So… it smells different and it makes me feel different… living a different life!

Oh, my little experiment — today in a few lines:

Beanfrog 1st. Ate 2 dragonflies. Worked on picture. PC v. noisy, have turned it off. Found some movies of Sharky and co on the PC — they made me sad. Song in head: Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Read Elizabeth’s blog post ‘About Heart Day‘ and commented. Fish pie, peas and evil tinned macaroni cheese for supper — didn’t eat much.

It was so short I ran out of things to say! About the Heart Day blog post, I said to Elizabeth I used to like the quiet mystery of Valentine’s Day, but it’s become a kind of parade for established couples.

I don’t intend to give up either blog or journal…  or truncate them; not if I can help it. My world focuses on imagery and ideas. Even the the fish pie doesn’t get much of a look-in. At this rate I’ll end up meditating in a cave high in the hills somewhere… but only if I can run my computer from there.

Fusspot ForeverI looked for a photo of Fusspot to go with this post but they were mostly bad scans or taken by a very poor quality digital camera (1.3 megapixels! It wasn’t long before mobile phones could do better than that). He passed on a little while after I got the new Canon. He was already quite old and lanky. I found one half-decent photo and tried to brighten it, but the contrast went haywire. He looked out of the picture at me with his soulful blue eyes, and I had to close it.

We think we’re taking pictures for ourselves, but they’re really for other people. Others can look and say things like “oh, that’s what he looked like?” but we just want to close our eyes and remember quietly.

The day after watching the movies of the cats, I was resting my ears (no hearing aids) so I couldn’t hear a thing. And then I heard Fusspot yowl…  just once. I sat up and looked around, but Delilah continued to sleep peacefully. I think my brain manufactured it, the same way it creates a suitable ‘sound’ for every vibration.

I posted a pic of him before… I’ll just reuse that one. It’s one of my favourites anyway.

Posted in Gender Issues, Injury and Mishap, Life and Family

Beastly Trees


I was quite a girly little girl; I liked skirts and dresses. Trousers struck me as ugly, but if you saw the trousers I got to wear, you wouldn’t blame me. I liked nice pastel-coloured socks and pretty shoes, and wished I had long hair. One day disaster struck! For some reason I had to wear a pair of grey socks to town. (I was probably about 5 or 6). The carry on! I hated them. “They are BOYS’ socks! I don’t want to wear BOYS’ socks!”

Too bad… I didn’t have a choice. Probably they were the only clean pair I had that day.

Nowadays I wear grey socks, black socks, brown socks, white socks, pink socks, stripy socks, odd socks, socks with Tigger and Piglet on them, or bedsocks with stuffed cow heads… I don’t care. Just so long as they keep my feet warm and clean.


When I was still that sort of age, my mother was talking to a friend of hers and suddenly they both looked at me. Mum asked, “do you like babies, Diddums?”

I stared at them as though they had gone out of their minds.

“Babies? Yes I like babies.”

“Oh, that’s nice, Diddums. Because your sister thinks babies are horrible.”

I found the whole concept incomprehensible… why would one like or dislike babies? It was like asking if you liked the ground. It was just there, a part of life.

On the other hand, my sister said she didn’t like babies. Probably it was cool not to like babies, and I was being silly girly Diddums as usual, with not a sensible thought in her head. Why does she not like babies? Because they cry, drool, are ugly, and only girly girls like them. I hadn’t really thought about liking or disliking them myself.

But once the idea had got in my head, I couldn’t quite shake it off. It was possible to form an opinion on things, and not just accept them blindly. And sometimes it was cooler to have a definite opinion, even if it was negative… or particularly if it was negative. It was cooler and more intelligent to wear trousers and grey socks, fall out of trees and be dismissive of little crying bundles of joy.

Which brings me to a third memory: falling out of trees.

Just because I didn’t like climbing trees or jumping down from the lowest branch, don’t assume I didn’t fall out of them. I wanted to show my sister and some friends how fun it was to swing from the branch of a small tree in our garden (a frangipani; probably full of huge spiders but I never paid attention to those things, mostly because I didn’t realize they were there). So, because all eyes were on me, I set off swinging a little too enthusiastically, my hands slipped from the branch, and (describing a slight arc) I landed flat on my back on the driveway.

I must have been completely winded, as I lay there going ‘gaargh! gaargh! gaargh!’ I couldn’t do a thing to stop it; it was like an attack of the hiccups. My sister and friends exchanged looks that said “we knew this would happen,” picked me up, carried me round the side of the house, and laid me down near Mum, who was talking to the other girls’ mother. They went off to play without me, while our mothers carried on talking.


Posted in Lost in Thought, Music I Like

Digging Deep for Clues in Higher Ground

I’ve not been thinking all that much about music or playing it at all recently, but looking through those boxes of old things… most of all that letter… seemed to set my mind very much on a different track. It’s still as though I’m viewing something done or written by somebody else, but there’s a small corner of my mind that says “yes, I remember that.” It was hanging about when I knew which items those old invoices detailed before I even looked, and sometimes explained things I didn’t remember at all… or didn’t think I did. “Yes, I know why this packet of postcards is here; you had them in an album and decided it was taking up too much room… so you took them all out and put them in boxes. And that pretty but pale greetings card of a white sea unicorn swimming in sea breakers (by Jan Brett) was a particular favourite of yours and you put it in a cheap and ugly old frame, which you eventually got rid of as it was just annoying you. But you kept the card. And here it is. Amongst the old postcards.”

Oh. I’m still me, then.

“Yes,” said the tiny, faraway voice. “And when you wrote that letter or filed those things, you probably had the hi-fi on. You would listen to things like UB40.”

Which was why I suddenly jumped up and put a UB40 CD on… I couldn’t bear the silence any longer. That isn’t me any more. I used to be full of life, sound and movement. I talked and wrote letters to other people and did things. And I’m still that person… suddenly I felt happier and more connected.

And every hour of every day
I’m learning more
The more I learn, the less I know
About before!
The less I know, the more I want to
Look around…
Digging deep for clues in higher ground

The fishes swim while rivers run
Through fields to feast my eyes upon
Intoxicated drinking from
The loving cup of burning sun
In dreams I’ll crave familiar taste
Of whispered rain on weary face
Of kisses sweet and warm embrace
Another time, another place

(from UB40’s Higher Ground)