The memory box

Folding the letter she gently smoothed the sheet of paper under her fingers feeling beneath them dryness of age that had affected it. Eyes too poor to read it now, nevertheless she knew every word by heart having devoured it so often over the years, now carefully stored with so many others and only now seeing light of day.

HARRY!

Closing her eyes his face flashed into her mind, hazy now as she struggled after so long to keep his features sharp and clear, she was losing him to time she knew that and the thought made her smile sadly. So long ago yet brief moments of clarity would invade her thoughts, his smile cutting through the fog and making it seem like only yesterday and then he was gone again leaving her with only these tangible memories. 

Sighing softly she replaced the pages into the large carved wooden box, fingers brushing a small packet as she did so drawing it slowly towards her before cupping it gently in her wrinkled palms and clasping it to her chest.  ‘Not long my love’ she thought to herself ‘Soon, it shall be soon’

Leaving the packet unopened she returned it quickly to the box, thrusting it inside as guilt burned and she slightly afraid of being discovered although she knew she would not be, nobody came any more. A splash of bright colour caught her eye and she reached towards a garish painted picture of a child’s hand with crude scrawl underneath depicting the artist’s name.

Ella.

Another smile, eyes warming briefly before the light quickly faded, no Ella was long gone and this just yet another memory of things come and gone in her many years of being. Sadness less sharp as each year went by panged momentarily before she dismissed it and returned the picture to lie back along its fellow inhabitants of the cluttered old box. 

Her worn gaze swept over the small grizzled teddy bear and the beribboned letters, oh she had been so popular in her day with her many suitors all begging for a smile, a glance, some sign of recognition from her but almost from the first she had only had eyes for him. Sweeping an errant lock of hair from her forehead she leaned further over the box disturbing the contents in her hunt for the one thing she sought. She needed to find it, to bring him close again before her failing mind refused to remember what she was looking for and left her in that absent place where nothing mattered any more. 

There! There it was.  Her heart leapt as she found the one thing she wanted and fingers rapidly cleared the dust from the front of the small framed picture. Lovingly she gazed at the sun bleached photograph, yellow with age, showing a young couple smiling shyly at each other.He resplendent in some bygone uniform showing duty to his country and she delicately pretty in florals and lace, bonnet trailing from fingers gently clasped between his.

Harry.

Even as she gazed the fog came and eyes clouded over, picture already forgotten falling into her lap and memories of him vanishing like mist in the sun. In the shadows of the room a figure waited, brass buttons shining on a uniform of old, boyish face echoing the love reflected earlier on hers. He could wait, he’d waited such a long time that a little longer would not hurt. 

‘Soon my love’ he smiled ‘ i shall see you soon’ 

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A Mother’s Love

A-mothers-love-poem

He sits in half silence surveying the scene around him, lips flickering with a smile now and again as some humorous interaction infringes on his somber mood. Hunched slightly forward with arms around his waist he half heartedly joins in the conversation flowing around him although i know he secretly wishes he were back at home. The woman is not fooled she knows his moods better than her own and she leans forward, gently touching his arm. 

”What’s wrong?” She says and he shakes his head, shrugging slightly ”Nothing”

She knows better than to accept his words. A brow creases with concern and fluttering hands beckon him closer and i watch as in an instant the face of the man i know becomes instantly again a small boy. Abashedly he hangs his head and he smiles somewhat ruefully but does as she asks moving instantly to her side.  Those motherly hands reach for the boy within offering comfort and he confesses some small discomfort to the woman at his side. Ever the mother she gathers him close, this man of mine, this child of hers and the caring embrace soothes and pets him and he relaxes beneath her ministrations, smiling at her words. Murmuring softly to him, words i cannot hear she seeks to make this child of hers feel better with the love only a mother can give. He makes a pretence and  shrugs away slightly.

”Mama, i’m fine”

But she knows he is not, this boy of hers and continues to mother him making him smile for despite his protests he secretly  feels better for having her caring arms around him hugging him close. Strange how sometimes all it takes is mother to make it all better again just like when he was small. 

Suddenly i feel very much an outsider. Like some small wistful child looking in a toyshop window on Christmas Eve at the toy she knows she will never get, i watch an unfamiliar scene. Strange that i should miss something that i never had in the first place but then the moment passes and i cannot help but smile at the little boy before me where before i saw a man. He has no idea how endearing he looks as he tries to pretend that he does not need the care she gives yet secretly relishes it all the same.

 A mother’s love it seems brings out the small child in all of us and no matter how old we may be we will always be someones little girl or boy. Just as he is hers and i am glad for the small easement he feels from her gentle affection. It just goes to show that no matter where we go nor how old we become, you really never are to old to be your mother’s son. 

The tides of life

D86

Sometimes, just sometimes, life has a way of making itself felt with an almighty slap that sending you tumbling off your feet with no idea of where you will land. My philosophy has always been that sometimes fate just steps in and gives you a push into the direction you were to afraid to take for yourself. Other times perhaps it is simply because we were taking too much for granted and merely needed a sharp reminder to be just that little bit more grateful for the things that we do have. There is no doubt that most of us are guilty of complacency when it comes to our lives and often do not cope well when change upsets our little world and everything in it. 

When i was small it all seemed so easy. I had my life mapped in a fairytale way that only a child can imagine and never at so young an age did it occur to me to think any differently. I may not have liked everything nor been happy with it but since it was all i had ever known i accepted it as a given and never had the thought to even try and change any aspects of it.  As a child, even when things are not perfect, we do not really see nor really register the less than ideal but merely accept it as it is. We simply do not know any different and therefore have no reason to hope for more. Only when exposed to situations more idealistic than our own do we sometimes wonder what life may be like if we were someone else. I never imagined for myself the life that i have now. Never did i imagine going wthout nor sacrificing until you wonder if you have anything left to give. No, for me i imagined a glamorous lifestyle and a handsome husband who adored me. 

As i should have realised, life does not work out in such a fairytale way for most of us and even those we imagine living the perfect lives have their own regrets and unhappiness. Perhaps then it is not merely what you have that makes you happy but your perception of it. Is it enough to have money, esteem and material things or perhaps is it a case of the more that you have, the more you want. Whilst it is a good thing to have things to want and aspire to, to be without dreams makes life not much of a life at all, there comes a point when perhaps the wanting is not merely for ourselves but more to appear credible and successful to others. What hope of happiness when we rely on others to give us some sense of worth, yet will living our lives for others give us the feeling of success we crave? Will it make us happy?  At the end of the day when doors are closed and we are alone, there is only our own reflection looking back at you in the mirror. It is then that perhaps you realise that without a love for yourself and a sense of inner peace, the regard of others does not count for much at all. 

Life is sent to test us. Some of us more than others and whilst the instinct may be to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that which is happening, sometimes the solution is to stand up tall and weather the onslaught the best way we can. Perhaps we will emerge a little battered and we may need to pick ourselves back up from the floor, but sometimes we can rebuild a better stronger version of what was there before. It is easy to be swept along by the tide and overwhelmed the the deluge that life occasionally throws our way but if you do not swim just that little bit harder then it is so easy to be washed away and drown in the tides of life. 

I have lost my focus of late because i forgot to remember to count my blessings. I fell victim to the need to feel sorry for myself when circumstances dealt me a decline in fortunes. So focused was i on what i had lost and what i no longer had that i forgot about those things that i do. In hindsight all i have done is waste months of my life on worry, regret and upset when really i should have stuck out my chin and taken the blow. We never lose everything, there is always something left to cling to even when it seems like we have nothing left at all. It is that one thing we need to hold on to and start building upon it until we have more than we had the day before. Even as i am I am fortunate, i  somehow forgot that along the way, but there is no doubt that i AM fortunate. Whilst i could definitely have more than i do right now there is no doubt i could easily have a lot, lot less. I have been there before and i will try to remember how far i have come. 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Oh yes, i am fortunate. 

Aside

Escape

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It should have been the stuff of nightmares and for all intents and purposes it was. She imagined time would have long since faded the memories but closing her eyes she could see with startling clarity events of a long lost youth playing inside her head. Hardly anything to smile about yet her mouth curved faintly upwards as she recalled some childish attempt at freedom. So simple in its innocence yet so profound in its efficacy, making her shake her head and marvel at an ingenuity borne of desperation from one so young. Had she really believed she could live in a tree?? Perhaps too many days seeking escape in tales of adventure had clouded her thinking yet this had been a most carefully devised plan. Childish yet naively effective if one did not look too deeply and seek fault where to her there there was none. Tarpaulins!! for a roof, she had decided, to keep out the rain and rope to construct all manner of furniture. Emulating heroes cast ashore on desert islands. Forced to improvise often most improbable necessities. That she had neither the skill nor the equipment to perform either task did not occur to her and hours were whiled away planning and dreaming of liberation.Waiting for the day to come when all would be prepared and the dream would at last be a reality. However unlikely this was, it afforded her a means of being anywhere but where she was and anywhere was better than here!!

She would have to hide she decided. The risk of discovery in daylight hours was too great a risk and so beyond the witching  hour was to be her time to risk leaving the safety of her refuge in search of food and supplies. Mentally forced to criminal activities in an attempt to survive she truly believed in the effectiveness of her plan. Blithely dismissing the small pang of conscience that prickled, telling herself this was unavoidable and not an option of choice. She knew well the difference between right and wrong for hadn’t she been taught it most frequently in the cruellest of manners, yet one sufficiently adequate as to produce the desired result. Yet even this did little to deter her. Hopeless misery obliterated all reason and she was beyond anything but a small glimmer of hope sprung to life in a well used imagination. Yes, a most effective plan were you not to examine it too closely and one most frequently put into practice, in her head at least, and strangely this was often enough. You cannot harm what you cannot reach and she was far far away happily swinging in the bough of her tree and that it was not real somehow mattered not at all. Yes she remembers and sometimes if you see her turn and smile at the sound of rustling leaves you will wonder if she is once again that small child. Adventuress and dreamer and inventor of a plan only worthy of the young.

We wish you a merry christmas

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Christmas. The most famous widely known holiday of the year.With less that a week to go  most of us really are on the home stretch and getting rather into the holiday spirit. No doubt you have your presents wrapped and a gaily twinkling tree adorns one corner of a room in your home. Your turkey is ordered and invites have gone out to auntie doris and uncle bert, after all someone has to entertain grandma right?

Im sure you picture everyone seated around the table, passing food from hand to hand as you all squabble over who has more potatoes than whom. Wrapping paper colorfully strewn amongst the piles of presents despite a frazzled mothers best attempts to clear it up. Yes im sure this christmas scene is one we are all very familiar with, isnt it? Or is it?

My thoughts drift to christmases past when  they were so far removed from the merry scene i described. Memories of christmases alone, sometimes with a christmas dinner for one and sometimes with nothing more adventurous than a sandwich in a cold single room. Interminably long the day stretched and back when i was young i cried, i am not ashamed to admit that i did, never will you feel more lonely than on a christmas day alone. Older solo christmases i did not cry, for i had learned by then that i was still fortunate, much more so than some. 

Having experienced life on the streets and the harsh relentless life it affords my thoughts turn to those poor souls as soon as the weather turns cold. Suddenly presents and turkey do not seem so important and i remind myself that despite a hard year i actually have much to be grateful for. Had my life not changed the way it did and taken a more happy route, i could still have been one of those unfortunate people and not where i am now. While you are eating your turkey let your thoughts dwell a moment on those with no families, the elderly or the young. Those who will spend christmas alone forgotten and unloved. 

Yes christmas is a happy time and a time for giving yet so few of us see or care about those who need it most. Next time you pass a homeless person begging for change ask yourself can i REALLY not spare any? Would i really want someone to refuse to meet my eye and hurry past if that were me sitting there in their place? Oh we’ve all heard the stories, how the street dwellers spend any money given on drink and drugs, but who are we to decide how another spends their money. In truth in their place would you not want to drink and block out the reality of your existence? i’m sure many of you would. 

Next time you pass someone worse off than you, reach out a hand and help. Say a special thank you this christmas, not for the gifts and the food but for the fact that you are lucky enough to have a life that includes them. 

Merry christmas to one and all 

Great Expectations

                       

If you had asked me to describe myself i could think of many words to do so. Perhaps they may differ somewhat from those other people would use for me but still there are some that would not have automatically come to mind unless i thought about it for  a while. Optimistic has always been a word i would apply to myself and for the most part i am very much so yet much recent musing has led me to realise i am also very much of a cynic and a pessimist. Such a strange contradiction for surely one cannot be both, can you? 

For myself i believe they can and that both do apply in my own case. Steadfastly determined to see the bright side of every situation i refuse to let things drag me down. Unerringly strong and dependable and definitely very much of a go to gal. I was once told i’m the kind of girl you need around in a crisis which pleased me greatly for i have never been the fall apart kind. Yet under this optimism and positivity i have to admit lurks a slightly less Pollyanna view of the world that i do not often acknowledge nor admit to.

We are alI a product of our life experiences and through mine i learned long ago never to expect anything of anyone or of life in general. This may sound awfully negative but my experience has been that in setting expectations you are frequently let down by people and situations themselves.This in turn has yet another effect upon the person you are and often not for the better. If you go along your merry path with no prior preconceptions or wants then you will never be disappointed but will only gain the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised along the way.

Admittedly i confess that the surprises are few since the people i have encountered are invariably  not of the positively life changing kind. Still all the more significant then when every once in a while someone comes along to break the mould and make me revise my opinion somewhat. Still the further down the road you walk you cannot help but don a little armour to protect you from the definitely expected and if your steps become a little weary you would no doubt be forgiven for that. 

Perhaps modern life itself is to blame for people no longer have the care for others that once was such an inherent part of their nature. Selfishness more frequently lurks behind every thought and action and rarely do a lot of us put other people before ourselves. Those that do frequently are trampled upon and taken for granted instead of appreciated and thanked. One would be forgiven then as such a person for becoming much disillusioned and unappreciated and set to wondering why they should bother at all.

But optimism prevails and whilst i will never look very far forward and dream and plan as others do i will never fail to make the best of what does come my way. Those rare surprises will be valued and appreciated and whilst i may secretly smother a small hope in some direction and would never turn away the chance for it to become reality i will never take it for granted that it may one day be so. Many say we need dreams and things to aspire to and yes perhaps in this harsh modern society of ours this is so but what we need more is the wisdom to distinguish between that which can become a reality and that which cannot. 

Yes i am definitely and optimist, but a pessimistic one at that. 

back when i was ten

Back when i was ten the world seemed like such a weird and wonderful place. I lived in a world of books where rabbits could talk and tales of boarding school and tuck boxes were my things to aspire to. Oh i so wanted to go to boarding school, to be like those merry little characters in my books,causing mayhem and having untold adventures with exciting new friends. I dreamt of smugglers and sleeping on islands just like those five so famous and so real to me when young. For i believed everyone did this and quite happily made plans as sleep eluded me on many a night in bed. I sailed with amazons and fished with huck finn, solved mysteries untold and inevitably always made it home for breakfast as every hero should. Yes the world was a wonderful place back when i was ten.

Flying!! So much i wanted to be Wendy and soar over the tops of houses following a star and the ageless charming Peter, to battle with pirates and crocodiles,nary a care in the world but to live like the heros and heroines i so admired. I danced at the ball and lost my slipper on the stairs, fell in love with a beautiful beast. Cried inconsolably for The little Match Girl and made as merry as any with the infamous Robin hood.

Yes show me a book and i would dream you a dream, back then when i was ten. Yet perhaps i shall always be such an age as with each tale i am transported away finding solace in a world so far removed from my own. So exciting a life i lead within the realms of my own head as stories unfold and imagination takes over, heroine again of a fable not of my creation yet where i feel so very at home. 

As i pick up a book i find things have not much changed from back then when i was ten.

A Toy Story

No matter how old you are there is always a small part of you that never grows up. Some inner child that refuses to be tamed and see’s the fun and delight in everything no matter how small. For many this is something they never let out whilst in others that childlike quality sets forth, breaking free at every chance it gets. 

I am for the most part a lady and proud to be so but my inner child refuses to be squashed and i take great delight in being spontaneous and having fun. Match this with someone with all the qualities of a woodland imp and you have my boyfriend and i. So, a recent trip to London whilst beginning sedately was never likely to stay that way given the nature of the pair of us. Of course there is only one place in London to take your inner child and that is Hamleys, biggest toystore in the city. Now i have never been to Hamleys although my partner has and knew what to expect as we descended upon its colourful doorways….

Arriving in a cloud of soap bubbles my eyes did not know where to look and thus did not see the impending attack from a London Souvenir teddy bear. Those things have teeth you know and more than once i had to fight for my life and defend my as yet unbitten neck as it staged an all out assault upon my person. Aided and abetted by the dastardly vampire (aka boyfriend) i was most definitely under attack from all directions and seeking refuge amongst the Steiff bears. A cunning plan here since Steiff toys are far too costly to be involved in any rebellion and as a slow meander through their ranks ensued a cease fire was forced upon him. 

Breaking cover and dashing for the awaiting soft toy army this time the fight was on and team Panda fought back bravely, spurred on by pink fluffy teddy and big white curly teddy. Sensing a lowering of guard a joint assault from white curly teddy and General Panda, sent the afore mentioned sailing through the air to land squarely upon the king vampires nose. Direct hit!!! A most comical look of surprise and round one to team panda with vampire in hot pursuit as teddy bear armies sailed across the shop floor discreetly ignored by passing shop assistants yet not by small children staring open mouthed at the grown up warfare. 

Cameo performance by extortionately priced small bat preceded nostalgic wander through a colourful array of fluffy animals at this time heeding the temporary truce. Definite crossing of legs at this point as team Panda hurtled for the toilets hurling a brief ”i will find you” over a departing shoulder. Ah those immortal lines from Last of the Mohicans that saw a desperate Daniel Day Lewis hunting the wilderness for his kidnapped lady love.

Skidding only briefly to a halt to coo over a veritable Wonkafest of colourfully arranged confectionery team Panda speeded through a brief pit stop before negotiating the stairs and the previous whereabouts of team vampire. Despite the assistance of badly synced navigation equipment and triple circumnavigation of the arena the whereabouts of the mysterious vampire remained a mystery, definitely not a Mohican in the making then. All efforts exhausted in true childlike style Team Panda observed the golden rule reinforced on a regular basis throughout childhood..if you get lost stay where you are and we will find you. So as the desperately lost Team Panda languished in a magical doorway between worlds, Team Vampire was far far away hypnotised by an evil demon and his magical flying saucer. Time passed so slowly as Team Panda desperately waited for the vampire to escape the supernatural forces that compelled him and come to her rescue. Magical sorcerers appeared from the gloom hoping to tempt team Panda into submitting with offers of assistance but the Panda held firm and waited for her twilight hero to find her.

Saved only by a mysterious communication device the vampire had smuggled with him he came swiftly to the rescue and amid a cloud of rainbow bubbles they made good their escape into the outside world. Leaving behind an army of no small proportions they plot and plan for the next ensuing battle between teams P:anda and Vampire. Out in the grown up world a happy truce reigns but Team Panda will be forever on their guard for one never knows when vampires might attack.

Through a door just like Alice

Curiouser and curiouser.

As far as the eye can see the doors stretch in an endless colourful sea, all so very different neither uniform nor alike. Some catch the eye more than others being gaudy and opulent, designed to draw the eye and the beholder like a magpie to some shiny coveted bauble. Others less assuming, meek and drab, so easily dismissed and passed by unless one had reason to tarry and examine them more closely. I cannot tarry i am looking for something.

I am here and this is me. My doors are there for a reason and each one hides behind it some memory or some thought that i have filed away for perusal at my leisure. Some doors do not stay shut and the contents seep around its edges reaching for my feet bidding me come and dwell a while within but i know i do not want to go there. Some inner sense of me alerts a warning that i know not from where but i shall heed it for it has been my constant companion and i know it almost as well as it knows me.

Something is seeking me or perhaps i am seeking it, i do not know. All i feel is that i am looking for something but i know not what, only that i shall know when i have found it. Behind this door then? So pretty and bright, leading me to think some rare happy memory resides within and i am happy to approach it. Even as my hand reaches out some instinct tells me this is not a happy place, some indistinct growl resonates from within stirring a familiar alarm making me snatch my outstretched hand away from its reach. Familiar a feeling yet i do not know what lives behind this door only that i do not want to go there. A lesson i have learned so well and i trust my instincts when they tell me what i cannot know.

A smaller door then? Something less obvious and unobtrusive and my eyes scan the row after row hoping something will stand out and suggest that i choose it but all remains as it was before. Nothing remarkable at all and i wonder that i should be so ordered when i sense such unseen chaos within. The nearest then and i choose one so small and dull as to be barely noticed, hesitating briefly before looking inside. This one i know, so small a feeling yet also so happy, still now frowning i realise it occupies so small a room. Why?

Door after door, some i will open but the greater i will not and i speed my steps to hasten my search. I must find it? But what? How strange this need to find something of which i am afraid and it leads me to frown as i turn this way and that with still no idea of where i am headed. I am afraid of this place i do not like to come here and i wish that i could turn and run back the way i came, back where it is safe. Yet i do not, cannot and so i must keep searching hoping i find what i seek before i am lost behind a door not of my choosing.

Doors, so many doors. An endless colourful sea of unassuming facades that stretch as far as the eye can see. I am here and here is me. Through a door just like Alice i chased my white rabbit and now i am lost save only for the grin of a cheshire cat who smiles yet does not smile.

I am here and this is me, i wonder can you find me?

In an alternate universe

Recently i have been sent a request to join a group for former pupils of my senior school by a few people so i decided to accept and take a walk down memory lane. Now unlike most people i loved school, i was the most incredible SWOT (a well used label in my formative years) and quite liked the idea of catching up with my peers.

Unfortunately such SWOT status left me firmly on the outskirts of school society, most definitely i was not one of the popular crowd but, like everyone, you find those like you and friends are made. I guess things really were not helped by the fact that until aged about fourteen when i blossomed i tended to resemble an anorexic boy, tall skinny and pale. Whilst my contemporaries were living the 80’s with big hair and wild manner of dress, i was more conservative more likely to be at home in an episode of The Waltons.

Parents are fantastic aren’t they? Little comprehending the importance of conformity mine blithely dispatched me out to be ridiculed and bullied as only children can be and in this part at least i had a dislike of school. Children can be very cruel at a time when you are most vulnerable and more likely to take it to heart than at any other time of your life.

So my boys shoes, frumpy clothes and i struggled our way through those teenage years bolstered by an assortment of non-conformist friends and a love of learning that has never left me. Still these many years later i was curious to see how my peers had turned out and wondered whether time had been as kind to them as it had to me and i happily accepted the invitations to join the group. Hunting through the groups to find the Class of 85 i scrolled the names hoping to find those i recognised, and scrolled, and scrolled some more. Frowning i double checked the name of the group and then finding it correct i scrolled again.

I DIDN’T RECOGNISE ANYONE!!!

Of all the names in all the groups i could not recognise one single solitary name. Certainly my old friends were not on there but surely i should remember the names of some of my classmates right?? I have an incredible memory, i rarely forget anything yet when i sat and thought about it and tried to remember the names of someone, anyone from my classes i cannot remember a single one. Perhaps i dreamt school?? Perhaps some alien conspiracy left me thinking i had attended school when i was younger when infact i had not. Perhaps i had gone to school in an alternate universe which bore no resemblance to this one?

WHY COULD I NOT REMEMBER??

Perhaps more likely the fact is that apart from those close few with whom i had great friendship and those teachers who were so kind to me in my school years i have simply forgotten all the things that made it unpleasant. Sometimes the mind has a funny way of blocking out things that it does not want remember, yet how curious i have memories far worse than these than linger with me. Certainly though it seems some of those people remember me (i imagine i probably i did their homework for them) yet i remember nobody at all. Nevertheless i decided i  shall stay in the group for part of me does hope that my real friends might join in time and it will be good to catch up with those who were important in the hardest years of my life. 

Perhaps it was an alternate universe after all.

A Toy Story

No matter how old you are there is always a small part of you that never grows up. Some inner child that refuses to be tamed and see’s the fun and delight in everything no matter how small. For many this is something they never let out whilst in others that childlike quality sets forth, breaking free at every chance it gets. 

I am for the most part a lady and proud to be so but my inner child refuses to be squashed and i take great delight in being spontaneous and having fun. Match this with someone with all the qualities of a woodland imp and you have my boyfriend and i. So, a recent trip to London whilst beginning sedately was never likely to stay that way given the nature of the pair of us. Of course there is only one place in London to take your inner child and that is Hamleys, biggest toystore in the city. Now i have never been to Hamleys although my partner has and knew what to expect as we descended upon its colourful doorways….

Arriving in a cloud of soap bubbles my eyes did not know where to look and thus did not see the impending attack from a London Souvenir teddy bear. Those things have teeth you know and more than once i had to fight for my life and defend my as yet unbitten neck as it staged an all out assault upon my person. Aided and abetted by the dastardly vampire (aka boyfriend) i was most definitely under attack from all directions and seeking refuge amongst the Steiff bears. A cunning plan here since Steiff toys are far too costly to be involved in any rebellion and as a slow meander through their ranks ensued a cease fire was forced upon him. 

Breaking cover and dashing for the awaiting soft toy army this time the fight was on and team Panda fought back bravely, spurred on by pink fluffy teddy and big white curly teddy. Sensing a lowering of guard a joint assault from white curly teddy and General Panda, sent the afore mentioned sailing through the air to land squarely upon the king vampires nose. Direct hit!!! A most comical look of surprise and round one to team panda with vampire in hot pursuit as teddy bear armies sailed across the shop floor discreetly ignored by passing shop assistants yet not by small children staring open mouthed at the grown up warfare. 

Cameo performance by extortionately priced small bat preceded nostalgic wander through a colourful array of fluffy animals at this time heeding the temporary truce. Definite crossing of legs at this point as team Panda hurtled for the toilets hurling a brief ”i will find you” over a departing shoulder. Ah those immortal lines from Last of the Mohicans that saw a desperate Daniel Day Lewis hunting the wilderness for his kidnapped lady love.

Skidding only briefly to a halt to coo over a veritable Wonkafest of colourfully arranged confectionery team Panda speeded through a brief pit stop before negotiating the stairs and the previous whereabouts of team vampire. Despite the assistance of badly synced navigation equipment and triple circumnavigation of the arena the whereabouts of the mysterious vampire remained a mystery, definitely not a Mohican in the making then. All efforts exhausted in true childlike style Team Panda observed the golden rule reinforced on a regular basis throughout childhood..if you get lost stay where you are and we will find you. So as the desperately lost Team Panda languished in a magical doorway between worlds, Team Vampire was far far away hypnotised by an evil demon and his magical flying saucer. Time passed so slowly as Team Panda desperately waited for the vampire to escape the supernatural forces that compelled him and come to her rescue. Magical sorcerers appeared from the gloom hoping to tempt team Panda into submitting with offers of assistance but the Panda held firm and waited for her twilight hero to find her.

Saved only by a mysterious communication device the vampire had smuggled with him he came swiftly to the rescue and amid a cloud of rainbow bubbles they made good their escape into the outside world. Leaving behind an army of no small proportions they plot and plan for the next ensuing battle between teams P:anda and Vampire. Out in the grown up world a happy truce reigns but Team Panda will be forever on their guard for one never knows when vampires might attack.

Through a door just like Alice

Curiouser and curiouser.

As far as the eye can see the doors stretch in an endless colourful sea, all so very different neither uniform nor alike. Some catch the eye more than others being gaudy and opulent, designed to draw the eye and the beholder like a magpie to some shiny coveted bauble. Others less assuming, meek and drab, so easily dismissed and passed by unless one had reason to tarry and examine them more closely. I cannot tarry i am looking for something.

I am here and this is me. My doors are there for a reason and each one hides behind it some memory or some thought that i have filed away for perusal at my leisure. Some doors do not stay shut and the contents seep around its edges reaching for my feet bidding me come and dwell a while within but i know i do not want to go there. Some inner sense of me alerts a warning that i know not from where but i shall heed it for it has been my constant companion and i know it almost as well as it knows me.

Something is seeking me or perhaps i am seeking it, i do not know. All i feel is that i am looking for something but i know not what, only that i shall know when i have found it. Behind this door then? So pretty and bright, leading me to think some rare happy memory resides within and i am happy to approach it. Even as my hand reaches out some instinct tells me this is not a happy place, some indistinct growl resonates from within stirring a familiar alarm making me snatch my outstretched hand away from its reach. Familiar a feeling yet i do not know what lives behind this door only that i do not want to go there. A lesson i have learned so well and i trust my instincts when they tell me what i cannot know.

A smaller door then? Something less obvious and unobtrusive and my eyes scan the row after row hoping something will stand out and suggest that i choose it but all remains as it was before. Nothing remarkable at all and i wonder that i should be so ordered when i sense such unseen chaos within. The nearest then and i choose one so small and dull as to be barely noticed, hesitating briefly before looking inside. This one i know, so small a feeling yet also so happy, still now frowning i realise it occupies so small a room. Why?

Door after door, some i will open but the greater i will not and i speed my steps to hasten my search. I must find it? But what? How strange this need to find something of which i am afraid and it leads me to frown as i turn this way and that with still no idea of where i am headed. I am afraid of this place i do not like to come here and i wish that i could turn and run back the way i came, back where it is safe. Yet i do not, cannot and so i must keep searching hoping i find what i seek before i am lost behind a door not of my choosing.

Doors, so many doors. An endless colourful sea of unassuming facades that stretch as far as the eye can see. I am here and here is me. Through a door just like Alice i chased my white rabbit and now i am lost save only for the grin of a cheshire cat who smiles yet does not smile.

I am here and this is me, i wonder can you find me?

The rule of 7

There is a theory i found whilst browsing our online world that we re-invent ourselves in cycles of every 7 years. Perhaps this is mostly an unconscious change but i think most will agree that they are not the same person they were prior to today. I mulled on this for some time for i can well remember the person i was that number of years ago but then the question came to me was i actually myself back then or indeed in prior years?

The answer after some thought was actually a resounding NO. Not entirely, although with the exception of this present point in time it was the period in my life when i was closest to actually being myself. Of course barring for the unlikely explanation of alien abduction or body snatching it would seem logical to assume that of course i was me.

Who else was i likely to be?

Well i guess on further examination the truth is you are only the product of what other people and yourself allow you to be. Consciously or not we change and adapt ourselves to suit those around us sometimes so much so that we lose sight of who we really are. One thing i find most amusing is the meeting of two people, initially attracted by the other person they set about forming a relationship as is natural. Curiously then they seek to set about changing that person into some pre-conceived ideal that they have but in essence destroying all that appealed to them about the other in the first place.

Why?? 

This, for me personally, is something i cannot abhor having been victim to it on many occasions and thus i am a firm believer in not trying to change someone to suit yourself. After all you liked them in the first place and everything that they were drew you to them so why set about trying to fix that which is already right? Yet in honesty this is where i failed so dismally on the 7 year change for looking back i could not fail to admit that in all previous cycles i was more often the product of what other people had wanted me to be or forced me to be rather than being myself. Whether by manipulation or pure design i was actually guilty of being less my own person and more some other whom for the most part i did not recognise. 

Some cycles this was more evident and in hindsight i cringe when i think of the person i was and admonish myself for being so susceptible to domination and manipulation and yet i was.Such a contradiction considering the strong minded person i really am and i wonder whether this says more about me or those in my life at the time. Reasonably and logically i know that this was more to do with external forces than anything within myself for if i am honest i was always there but buried away where nobody could see. Only when in the company of the right person do you finally get to be only that which you really are.

How sad then that so very few would be able to step forward when i am departed from this world and say ”yes i knew her”. Oh yes many may think it to be so and i know those who would like to be able to make that claim but in truth those who actually did or do are only two in number at this point in time. Whilst this may seem to many be a pitiful number i find that it pleases me greatly. A woman of mystery and intrigue perhaps? No not really, i find instead that it is just a little more special when you do meet those persons with whom you can be everything that you are, without restraint. And if then you are told that those persons like you just the way you are it is all worth it and you know those are the right ones for you.

Who will i be in another 7 years?? Actually this is where i hope the 7 year change ends for i like this person that i am now. I find i like her very well. She has taken so very long to break free that i would be loathe to part with her again and i for one hope she sticks around for a little while longer. 

But it’s good for you!!

Well dear blog readers the panda has turned into a gym bunny. Note here i said gym BUNNY and not gym BARBIE!! 

My determination to lose weight and tone up has mutated into somewhat of an obsession and despite a minor back injury i have still been stubbornly hauling my butt down to the gym ( frowning is bad for you by the way it gives you wrinkles!). Perhaps this is some quirk in my nature but when i become very determined about anything i develop an almost crazy tenacity that keeps me going no matter what. Incredibly ,annoyingly stubborn, that is me. Imagine a 60lb Rottweiler with a bone and you would not be far wrong. Actually i confess i enjoy it yet had you said this to me three years ago i should have laughed like a hyena at the mental image it presented me.

So obsession in tow i have been hitting the protein bars to help along the weight training and give as much assistance to the gym body ideal i so aspire to. I have often seen the guys ordering protein shakes during and post workout and finding they were lower in calories i decided to give them a go and feeling rather gung ho i ordered one on my way home today. I was a little wary since i do not like milkshake and really was not entirely sure i would find this at all palatable but on assurance it did not contain milk i was rather mollified and decided to try it.

BIG BIG MISTAKE!!!

I guess the nearest way i can describe the taste of this is to imagine buying a banana milkshake from Mcdonalds and drinking all but a large mouthful in the bottom. Fill up the cup with water and shake it hard until you have a watery cloying banana scum and then drink it. Yup thats exactly the taste and consistency, watery with a chemical banana smell yet sickeningly sweet and i found myself gagging on the first swallow. A lot of people seem to like these ‘shakes’ and although i have never had an overly sensitive gag reflex, gag i did. Oh my it was SO gross!!!

Did i throw it away?? Well actually no, as i said i am stubborn and this is actually good for me so there was nothing for it but to hold my nose and tip it down. 

For those of you that do not know a fair portion of taste is not actually down to taste at all but infact is down to smell. Holding your nose while eating or drinking something unpalatable makes it often almost tasteless, try it and see. Unfortunately for me i also am possessed of an excellent imagination and whilst i knew i could not taste it my overactive brain was happily recounting the experience for me and waving a large banner reading  ‘ THIS is what it tastes like’

Memories came of being a small child with my mother holding my nose and shovelling in some disgusting concoction whilst cooing at me to open up because it was good for me. Really? YOU eat it then!!

How ironic that now as a grown up i am more willing to swallow the unpalatable simply because of being told that it will be of benefit. You would think that after childhood experiences i would be possessed of a stubborn refusal to ever consume anything that i had great dislike for again yet consume it i did.

MMMMMMMMMMm banana flavoured dish water!!

Oh trust me this really had better be good for me. Somehow i think i shall develop an intense dislike for that curved yellow fruit but in the meantime bring on the protein shakes!!

If you want something doing…..

As the mother of two mid and late teens you would think life would be pretty easy right? All those extra hands to share the chores, a cup of coffee made for me when i am studying or extra busy?

WRONG!!!

These two delightful offspring of mine barely know one end of a duster from the other and never would it occur to them to lend a hand. My son, the elder of the two, will do something for me if i ask but at 19 and Autistic the degree of effort depends on how quick a chore it is and how boring he considers it to be. Dear son has sarcastic grumbling under his breath down to such a fine art that we nicknamed him Victor Meldrew!!

Dear daughter number 2, the youngest at 16, is very reluctant to do anything unless the question of remuneration should arise. If i come home and she has voluntarily done chores i am instantly on my guard since i can pretty much guarantee that some request for funds will follow in the near future. Welcome to Bank of Panda..please insert your card!!

I have pondered the fact that is my own fault for being so exacting, for i tend to be rather fussy and if something isnt done perfectly i tend to go and do it myself, i hate mess it drives me crazy. It is a long running joke in our family that when someone claims something is clean the retort is always

”Would that be your kind of clean, or my kind of clean??” 

So today as a strange yellow thing was shining in the sky i asked Dear Son to cut the front grass for me since we were in danger of being listed as a local nature reserve and the resulting sigh from upstairs should have easily shaken the rafters. My excellent hearing picked up the muttered grumble which preceded a delayed emergence from its source. To his credit Dear Son did actually cut the grass although the result looked rather like it had been chewed by a herd of Wildebeest. As he plodded back into the house a trail of grass followed prompting me to go outside and look. Grass everywhere!! From my front door to the bottom of my driveway looked like a grass bomb had exploded, a far cry from the immaculate frontages of the neighbouring houses. 

To say Dear Son was most unimpressed when i asked him to go outside and sweep it up was an understatement and watching his half hearted effort prompted me to open the door and say

”SWEEP it dont tickle it”

”I AM sweeping it!!”

Hmmmmm. Yes again fussy me took over and i took the brush, rapidly sweeping the pathway to the door informing very impatient son that THIS is how you sweep. Back in the house i noticed yet again half hearted sweeping and called for Dear Daughter 2 to assist her brother. Well have you ever seen a fairy sweep a garden?? Picture one and you have the right idea. Tiptoeing carefully around the grass with brush held delicately between fingertips she flitted around managing little better than Victor Meldrew who was at this point rolling his eyes and tutting. 

Cue Panda impatience and brush was whipped from Fairy fingers and rapid sweeping of the drive was undertaken with the announcement to said children that there was this strange thing called EFFORT required. 5 minutes later MY eyes were rolling as i sighed and swept it up myself before retreating into the house for coffee leaving grumpy and fairy to bin the pile of rubbish i’d made. Surely they could manage THAT!!

I have rapidly come to the conclusion that for the most part if you want something doing in my house it is far better to do it yourself unless you are prepared to live with less than perfect results. I dread to think how these little darlings will live when they leave home and i have already informed them that i will most definitely not be coming to their houses for tea until i reach the point where i am considering euthanasia and need a quick exit from this world. 

Ahhh well i made my bed i guess i have to lie in it, perhaps i should have been far stricter when they were small and set a regimen of chores such i had myself when i was young. Logic tells me that even had i done so this would all have gone out of the window when my little angels mutated into carnage evoking teen demons so perhaps i can console myself with this. So as fairy skips off down the street and Victor retreats to the safety of his room and the computer games within, i make my own coffee and comfort myself with the smug knowledge that one day they will be parents to teens of their own and mommy will sit and have a little chuckle. Revenge will be very sweet!! 

Perhaps i should feel mean but i dont!!

Image

Evening is rolling in and i’m sitting trying to study, my stomach is growling to be fed but im determined to finish this section before i set my work aside. Perhaps it is a heavy workload but i am studying Business and Admin and also taking a Proof Reading and Editorial course, the latter of which occupies my attention and is rather complicated. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!

This is my front door knocker being hammered against the door with force enough to make it shake upon its hinges. I do not need to answer the door to know who it is for i can hear a very loud bullmoose voice bellowing outside but i am busy working so i choose not to answer. 

”There’s nobody in”

Footsteps fade and i sigh and continue my work and have read no more than five lines when..

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!

The bullmoose voice is back and is nothing if not persistent. My eyebrows raise as i hear the letter box open and the voice, louder now as the person looks through my letter box to see if i am home. GO AWAY!! i think furiously, although conscience niggles that perhaps i am being mean. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG (door kick) BANG BANG

Yes you can bet for sure i am rather annoyed now as i reread the same sentence for the third time. So who is hammering so furiously upon my door? Ah well this is easy it is the child next door.

At first i would always answer when this child kicked his ball over my back fence for i have children and my own when small have mistakenly kicked their ball into a neighbours garden before now. Rather differently i would never let them knock on the door to ask for it back but instead told them that if they had been careless enough to let it go over then they would have to wait until the person chose to throw it back , if they even did. 

But nevertheless i would at first answer to this child and obligingly retrieve the ball from my garden which received neither apology nor thanks. Shortly after the ball would come sailing back over the fence and the hammering on the door would commence with a loud request to get the ball back. This child does not have a volume switch, actually he does but it consists of loud and very loud and of an evening i have to close my door and windows in order to hear my tv but i try and remind myself that he is after all a child.

After repeated retrievings of the ball i began to get rather fed up especially since my garden has been very waterlogged for some weeks now and sploshing around in it for a ball is not my idea of fun and i politely asked him not to kick it over and informed him that if he did it would have to stay there until i went outside for something. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG KICK KICK BANG (letterbox opens again)

I know, i know perhaps the easy way would be to go and fetch the ball and thereby cease the kicking and hammering at my door but irritation is prompting me to throw the door wide and bellow ‘ STOP kicking that bl@@dy door’   I may think it but i would not do this and i try my best to ignore it. Footsteps fade again and the child takes up residence upon my driveway with friend in tow kicking another football back and forth thumping it repeatedly against my garage door and house wall. Sometimes i wish i were not so nice natured for i should dearly love to shout as neighbours would have had i behaved so when small and rightly so. 

After six attempts to hammer my door down coupled with frequent peering through my letter box there is finally silence as it seems for now at least he has given up. Of course i will return the ball when i or one of the family does go outside i am not so mean as all that but if i should feel guilty for not answering my door and fetching it when he wished then i’m afraid i do not. I was always taught manners and respect cost nothing even from a very young age and had i hammered on our neighbours doors in that way when i was small you can guarantee i would have felt my mothers hand and further been hauled next door to apologise. 

So do i feel mean?? NO!! 

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