Posts Tagged ‘life’

I’ve been absent from this blog for rather a long time. I last wrote back in May when Leicester was celebrating an unprecedented sporting success and everyone round here was bubbling over with joy and excitement. Since then a lot has changed.


I should have written about my trips to the theatre over the summer and believe me, there was a part of me that so wanted to tell you all about the stunning A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Globe, a side-splittingly hilarious production of The Rover at the RSC (which I’m seeing again in January) and a brilliant version of The Importance of Being Earnest at Leicester’s Curve, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to write anything so trivial in an enthused manner.


In June, I tried to write a blog post about why I was, despite everything, still proud to be British. And while I am very proud and always will be, the events of the summer have left my pride a little dented.


I went to see Doctor Strange at the cinema a few weeks ago and thought about writing a post asking “Where are our Super Heroes?” But, that didn’t seem quite serious enough.


Christmas is almost upon us once again, hurtling towards me like a freight train with promises of an appearance in the school panto, a children’s Christmas party and a trip to see Cinderella where I expect to be deafened by hundreds of screaming kids. And that’s just work!


The onset of the festive season reminds me that on 23rd December last year I wrote a small blog about hope. I still have hope. Because there has to be hope, even in the face of things I never believed would happen. I don’t particularly want to be political here but to quote the song I quoted back in December “How can things be better left unsaid?”


My Twitter bio states, amongst other things, that I am a “believer in multiculturalism, feminism and sharing our beautiful world.” I don’t know anyone close to me that doesn’t also believe in those things. And yet here we are living in a country that has become increasingly isolationist, where racial hatred incidences are on the increase, and where people would rather see child refugees die than reach out and help them. And that is bad enough, but then you look further afield and see the marching feet of fascism slowly creeping across the western world and I have to ask, “Have we learnt nothing?”


Fascism – extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.
Synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy, absolute rule, nazism, rightism, militarism, nationalism, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, chauvinism, jingoism, isolationism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, corporativism, corporatism, hitlerism, francoism, falangism.”

Oxford English Dictionary

My great-grandfather was a Labour Party pioneer. He was a member of the party from 1898 (the Labour Party as we recognise it today was founded in 1900) until his death in 1960. He was a Regional Labour Party Organiser, Election Agent and founder and editor of The Labour Organiser – “The only Labour Journal devoted to Organisation, Electioneering and Business Matters”. He is widely quoted in books about the party, most recently in The Collins Review into Labour Party Reform in 2014. He was asked by fellow Labour Party member Oswald Mosley (who had formerly been a member of the Conservative Party) to join the British Union of Fascists (BUF), which Mosley founded and whose supporters were known as “blackshirts”. My great-grandfather refused. I can’t help wondering what he’d make of politics today and the rise, once again, of political opinions we should all find abhorrent.


There’s been a lot of talk about accepting that people have voted against what I believe in and that we should all just “suck it and see”. I cannot do that. I cannot agree to accept the rise of hatred and intolerance. I cannot agree to accept that we should not care for our fellow man whatever their colour, religion, nationality or sexuality.


This world in which we live is a precious thing. All life on earth is precious. And so I still hope … and I hope I’m not the only one.


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Like madness is the glory of this life.”

William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, Act 1, Scene 2


I don’t really know what to write at the moment and have been terribly lazy about writing. On reflection this has been an excellent year and I can only hope that the next one will be as good. I have spent plenty of times with my lovely friends having the best experiences. I have a good job that I really enjoy. And … finally … I’m moving house. You’ll forgive me if my brain is a little fried at the thought.


I am moving nearer to where I work to a much bigger house (3 storeys, 3 beds, garage) with a small garden and room for my piano (currently residing in Essex). It’s a lovely house, everything I wanted albeit with one small compromise: I’m moving to a small town and, if I’m honest, somewhere I didn’t really want to end up. Ideally I hoped to be in a more rural location, a village maybe. Somewhere attractive. The reality is that after much consideration it became apparent that only a modern house would do, preferably very modern, and one that is harder to find and harder to afford in more attractive places. To be fair I’ll be moving to a very nice estate.


Perversely, and much as I expected, it dawns on me that I am really going to miss the railway that has been my constant companion in my current abode. It has been the cause of much frustration throughout my time here, keeping me awake at night while new track is laid or interrupting my favourite television programmes at the most inopportune moments, but it has always been there. In many ways the railway is a living thing. Every train that passes is a reminder that there is life out there. When I’m all alone it’s a faithful friend, always there, breaking what can sometimes be an oppressive silence. I don’t mean that to sound like I’m a poor lonely soul without a friend in the world; that couldn’t be further from the truth. But it has been there … and I will miss the trains whizzing past my windows.


When I moved to this place it was under a heavy cloud. It wasn’t where I wanted to be but circumstances made it the best solution at the time. Seven and a half years later I love it here but I’ve outgrown it and it’s time to move on. I will miss the shops, the excellent transport links, the village feel whilst still being close to the city and the people. I will be sad.


Hopefully in another seven years I’ll be having similar thoughts about the place to which I’m moving. Or, better still, I’ll be hoping to stay there even longer.


Wish me luck for December. I’m moving in the week before Christmas!



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Rules to live by …

It’s now been almost six months since I started my new job. It feels less than that and longer all at the same time. I really enjoy working there and right from the beginning have felt a sense of belonging. It’s an inspiring place packed with brilliance and charm and much much more.


Because of the new job I’ve been looking for a new place to live. I can afford to stay where I am but would like to live closer to where I work and can potentially afford to move to something bigger, with no railway line outside and with a garden. I thought it would be a lot easier but it’s proving to be something of a headache. I can’t afford to buy a house so renting is my only option and I’m frustrated at the lack of places available to rent, the lack of living space in those that are available and the fact that, because of the lack of supply, rents are rising. But I’m holding out for somewhere I feel I have to live, somewhere that makes me smile.


Anyway, all that aside, for a while now I’ve wanted to write a (non-exhaustive) list of things that are important to me – my rules to live by if you like. Some serious and some less so! All personal to me.


Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none.”

William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 1

Source: Mafleen.

  1. Be honest. Always. Above all be honest with yourself.
  2. Be kind. Kindness costs nothing.
  3. Do what makes you happy (whilst taking note of rule number 2 and breaking no laws) even if others think you’re mad!
  4. Don’t put up with misogyny, sexism, inequality, intolerance, … etc.
  5. Never be afraid to fall in love.
  6. Trust sparingly.
  7. Remember that sexual orientation is simply about love and attraction.
  8. Embrace diversity.
  9. Learn about the world and its people.
  10. Be brave – wonderful things might happen.
  11. Eat butter. Love butter!
  12. Eat cake! There should always be cake!
  13. Look up. Keeping your head down is only advisable in exams!
  14. Don’t buy cheap loo roll. Seriously – this is important! No good ever came of it.
  15. Be proud of your music collection. Even the Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
  16. Dance – any place, any time, any how.
  17. Read. Read. Read!
  18. Read some more.
  19. Ask questions.
  20. Smile and laugh … laugh lots!


So basically it all comes down to honesty, kindness, love, cake and laughing! Please feel free to add your own rules to live by in the comments.


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Tweeting friends …

Tweets. Source: Monette Enriquez


Almost two years ago I wrote about how Twitter changed my life. I still thank my lucky stars for it every day. It’s enriched my life immeasurably. I know that a lot of people don’t understand it and some don’t want to understand it but for me it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities, introduced me to wonderful friends and widened my horizons. It’s made me laugh and it’s made me cry, and if it were to be switched off tomorrow I would mourn its loss because I would be poorer without it.


Back in March 2011 I did something which some might say was very stupid. I agreed to drive over 50 miles to a small Lincolnshire village and meet a Twitter friend in a pub car park. We were meeting in the evening so it was dark and when I arrived I discovered I had very little phone signal. Sandy won’t mind me saying that the word “dodgy” crossed my mind more than once as I sat in my car waiting for her to arrive. I’d given my dad every piece of information I knew about Sandy and her partner Chris because you can never be too careful. I’d spoken to her on the phone a couple of times and I knew what she looked like but you hear such awful stories …


A large saloon car pulled into the car park and I squinted through the glass and there she was grinning like a Cheshire Cat and waving. I got out of my car and before theirs had barely stopped the passenger door flew open and Sandy came rushing towards me with arms outstretched. She hugged me tightly and I knew everything was going to be ok. After a hug from Chris I was positive. I felt like I’d known them for ages.


Friendship has no distance. Source: EnabledDelirium


As I drove home later that night having had a thoroughly great evening I couldn’t quite believe my luck. I’d just met two of the loveliest people you can possibly imagine and I knew without any doubt that we would be friends for a very long time.


Two months later and I was greeted with a big hug outside York Minster by another lovely person, Nic. We spent the day eating, drinking (tea for me, wine for her – I still get teased about that), gossiping and gazing with rather bemused looks at some rather risqué artwork in York Minster. Another friendship forged.


A few months later Sandy, Chris, Nic and I all met in London for a day of picnicking in Regent’s Park and visiting the zoo. It was the first time Nic had met Sandy and Chris. There was much laughter over popping corks and a multitude of double entendres, some rather wonderful potato salad and a lot of chattering. We all got on so brilliantly it was hard to imagine a time when we hadn’t met.


Twelve months after I first met Sandy and Chris we all (Nic too) arranged to meet in York for a weekend and this time someone else, Julia, came too. You may remember we capered in a convent! Another fantastic friend to add to the list and it was Julia who was there with me last week, helping me find my courage.


We all meet as often as we can. Sometimes all of us together, sometimes not, but we never fail to have fun, talk a lot, laugh and eat plenty.


They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 1, Sc. 1.

There have been several other wonderful people I’ve met along the way. The lovely vivacious Vix who introduced me to the joys of Brixham; Jen, simply the best person to camp with at an air show come muddy swamp or sun-scorched field; kind and generous Sal who will tramp round London in the pouring rain; and Julian and Amanda both of whom I finally met last week after nearly three years of tweeting. And there have been others.


Without Twitter I wouldn’t have met any of these people or shared so many experiences with them. I wouldn’t be writing about air shows or convents or steep hills. I wouldn’t be raving about Shakespeare at The Globe. I probably wouldn’t know what the Pathfinders were and I certainly wouldn’t have been to a screening of a film about finding them. And my life would be so much poorer.


But it’s not just about the people I’ve met in the flesh. It’s about those I’m yet to meet and those I’ll never meet; all those people who fill my Twitter timeline 24 hours a day. You’re only ever a tweet away from a kind word, a shared laugh or just a hello. Twitter can be an escape, a provider of inspiration, a shoulder to cry on, or a place to let off steam. Sometimes it’s just a place to be ridiculously silly.


If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Blogging hadn’t even crossed my mind before I was inspired by other bloggers I discovered through Twitter. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be writing at all because it was fan fiction that got me writing and I’d never heard of that before Twitter.


I’ve discovered new music, new films, new books, new places, new food, so many new things through Twitter it’s hard to comprehend just how I ever survived without it.


Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides: hate, ignorance, spam, misogyny, sexism, I could go on. But, those things are downsides of life; they don’t exist solely on Twitter. And if you’re sensible, apply common sense and maybe don’t arrange to meet in a slightly less than salubrious car park in the dark (although I don’t regret this for one minute) all of that can be avoided and who knows what you might discover?


To all my Twitter friends, those I’ve met, those I hope to meet and those who I never will, wherever you are, I send much love and a big thank you from the very bottom of my heart.



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It’s not you … it’s me!

Such a clichéd phrase. So clichéd that I never expected to hear it. When I did hear it, I laughed. I actually laughed!
Of course it wasn’t funny at all, and I didn’t laugh about it again for a very long time. What I did realise though, almost two years later, was that it had, in fact, been true. It wasn’t me. Regardless of the issues that existed in the relationship, its failure was not my fault.
So why write about it now? Because almost 6 years later (yes – for those of you who read my previous post, the cliché is why I ended up living next to the railway), I realise that the statement has now reversed.
I’ve moved my life on. I rarely think about the reasons why I had to move it on. I have new friends, new reasons to be happy. But … there’s still something missing.
I can sit here now and honestly say to my past ‘It’s not you … it’s me’. The only person stopping me from finding the something that’s missing is me. It’s not the person in my past. It’s me.
I don’t know how to find it … maybe I never will. But, maybe … just maybe, admitting that I’m the only reason I haven’t found it yet will help me figure out where to start looking.

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