The Wheels on the bus

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Call me crazy but i am one of those strange people who never learned to drive. When younger i had neither opportunity nor funding and now i am older i find i lack both time and inclination. Work commute used to be a car share with a local friend but i find i like the walk with my ipod and whilst the bus ride itself is a bit of an event, i find i have grown very accustomed to the ritual.

The Bus.

Passengers vary according to the time of day that you board. Pre 9am you will find those heading to work like myself but mostly of the student variety, row after row of darkly clad teens pulling hair around their acne clad faces, giggling loudly and all logged into some smart phone which they message each other on rather than talk. A pervading odour of musty not quite dried clothes emanates from their direction and they sit in twos or on the outside of the seat in order that you might not sit by them. Sometimes in some act of devilment i will deliberately sit down next to one if they leave an unoccupied space and watch the horror as it dawns that a grown up has invaded the ‘cool’ spot.

Cast your eyes towards the back and row after row of people seated alone. Nobody wants to be seated next to anyone else and bags and briefcases galore occupy the space next to each one of them. A woman near the front hides behind an upheld newspaper as though trying to pretend she does not have to take the bus at all.

”You’ve changed your hair” the bus driver says to me as i board. I like to think i keep up with the times and board with a clever little app on my phone. I try not to roll my eyes when held up as those not so up to date climb on and ask for a ticket. ” it’s nice” the driver adds, ”it suits you”  I smile and thank him whilst swiftly scanning for a seat. Most drivers are nice and will wait for you to be seated before pulling away but some just dont care and will drive off sharply sending you hurtling into the lap of some poor unfortunate who happens to be nearby.

Rattling and bumping down the road we skirt the edges of the lake. It is not really a lake but a water filled minehole which doesnt really sound so glamorous so we call it ‘the lake’. Drivers often dont slow down  around here and hurtle around the winding track, which by the way has little in the way of barrier between water and road.

”Please don’t kill me, please dont kill me” i mutter silently to myself, convinced that one day we will neglect to negotiate the turn and instead sail headlong into the murky depths. I confess i have planned every possible escape route and always sit as near to the ‘break glass’ window as possible. Images of newspapers sporting the headline ”Bus crashes into Lake that isnt really a Lake” batter my brain and i admit even sensible me is terrified of the jolting race around the gloomy bleakness beside us. Not even the appearance of a solitary duck swimming steadily across it can calm my overactive mind.

Board the bus an hour later and it’s passengers change entirely. Students replaced by row after row of blue tinted bubble perms all clutching plastic shopping trolleys and sporting a uniform of stay pressed trousers that have argued with their ankles. Far from silent the bus rings with a crescendo of voices all competing to tell the first unheard bit of gossip. By the time I reach my destination I know all about what Enid did at the weekend and oooh did you hear about Betty? Apparently fish is on offer at the local supermarket too.

Yes the bus is definitely an event in itself and i hold my breath as an over friendly lady with a strong smell of wet dog seats herself beside me and attempts to start up a conversation. But it is here I find I must leave you for the lake looms eerily on the horizon and I find I need both hands to hold on and pray that the wheels on the bus keep going round…….and round.

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I don’t like Mondays

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Sunday evening and the last vestiges of a gloriously sunny weekend disappear below the horizon signalling an end to relaxation and fun.  I try to avoid looking at the clock on Sunday evenings and no matter how tired i get i refuse to go to bed as though doing so will halt the death knell march of an impending Monday.  I am confident that i am far from alone in my loathing of the first day of the week although i find myself amused that it is only this particular day i have such distaste for.  Tuesday, for the most part, is much the same as Monday, yet  strangely i find i do not mind a Tuesday so much.

Casting back to younger years and Sunday night would ring to the shouts of ”Get in the bath, you’ve got school tomorrow”  Back to the present and i still find myself following the same ritual as though i never had a bath at any other time. I must hasten to add that i am very clean and actually bathe every day, yet never on a Monday evening would i say ”I’ve got to have a bath, I’ve got work tomorrow”

No there’s just something about an advancing Mondays that seems to hold such importance, enough to taint the evening before.

Tomorrow morning, as always, a very tired me will grope blearily for an unwelcome alarm, emerging looking for all the world like a disgruntled hedgehog. Snooze button on repeat as my sleep deprived brain tries desperately to cling to the last fog of sleep. ‘In a minute’ is my favorite saying on a Monday morning, invariably leading to my being dreadfully late and rushing for the bus to the sounds of the fastest beat song i can find on my ipod. If it is a good morning i may have actually buttoned my shirt up straight.

I just hate Mondays. I cannot decide if it is merely having to do something not of my choosing that makes me hate it so or whether it is the whole total groundhog week that makes it so unwelcome. Perhaps it is the lazy side of me that resents the ritual of a work day, being held to account through every minute of the day and only returning when it is too late to find time for myself. Monday heralds forced company rather than sought and uniform as a pose to comfy jeans and personality reflecting clothing.

Darkness is falling now and i stifle a yawn, trying desperately to pretend that the evening is not advancing at a furious pace. How odd that a Sunday seems to go by far faster than any other day of the week. Whilst i am well aware that it is merely my perception of time i cannot help but imagine Father Time in some act of devilment, gleefully putting my Sunday on fast forward. Oh for an extra few hours, some little bit of extra time to hold the evening at bay, a chance to rewind and luxuriate in the remnants of a day to myself.

Reality bites as a glance to my right sees uniform hanging ready for tomorrow.  I fear if i yawn much harder my mouth will stay permanently open.

Sunday marches on and no matter my distaste of Mondays it’s clear i have little say in the matter. Uniform and running for the bus to the strains of Linkin Park it is then.

Sweet dreams all.

 

 

Love is not love….

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Love.

There’s no getting away from it.  It really is all around, everywhere you look and a subject more often talked about than most. We all want love yet ask anyone to describe what it is and why they want it and you will get so many replies as to leave you confused.

I have to admit as a young child i was very much of the happily ever after brigade. Brought up on tales of princes and princesses and happily ever after. Truly believing that one day my eyes would meet those of the man i was destined to be with and he would sweep me off my feet, just like in the movies. Beating hearts and breathlessness and a passion leading you to want to be together forever. How rude an awakening when i found that life really isn’t like that at all.

Love, i have decided, is very like any other addiction. There is the initial excitement, loss of inhibition and the buzz that comes with any new drug. A newly discovered euphoria leaves you craving more and slowly the addiction takes hold. Love takes over, blurring the fringes of your reality until it is all you can think about. How much better your life seems with a dose of love to boost you along. You cannot deny that there are those fortunate enough to sail on this happy tide for the whole of their lives never knowing the ill effects that often creep in over time. For others the toxic effects begin to take hold and yet still you continue even knowing that this is bad for you. Addiction is hard to let go of and so often we cling to its safe familiarity. Better to be in bad love than not in love at all right?

Wrong!

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Recently i have been talking to a friend about the breakdown of her relationship and whilst i should never divulge the confidences of another, safe it to say that i puzzled greatly over the reasons for its sad demise.

Change. Or rather refusal to accept any change which comes along. I have to admit i pondered a long time over this. My own relationship, whilst being far from the fairy tales of my childhood, is a very good one simply because i had been willing to compromise my expectations. My partner will be the first to admit he is not the flowery, gushy demonstrative type and perhaps he would not be the man for any woman seeking open and obvious affection such as my friend. But i find our relationship has a solid foundation and affection comes in an endearing way unique to only him. I think if perhaps i were less sure about myself and our relationship i should be unsettled by what may seem  to others an unloving man. Yet to me in all my familiarity of him, i find him affectionate and loving in a way nobody else can see. Hard won but worth it when it appears.

I tried to explain this to my friend. People change but sometimes we have to change with them and relationships cannot always stay the same. Just because love settles into a familar comfortableness does not mean that it is no longer love. Very like a new pair of shoes, all shiny and taking time to break in,  but once done so they settle and mould into a comfortable fit. Well worn and often much loved but different from the new shoes you first bought.

My friend just cannot accept the changes in their relationship and has chosen to end this since it does not meet the idea that she has of how it should be. I feel sad for her that the love she has is no longer the love she wants and perhaps she is right not to compromise her expectations. I asked her if she loved her partner and she said yes but he’s not like he used to be. Perhaps, i pointed out gently, you are in love with who he was and not who he is now.

We are very different she and i and whilst i should find it hard to let go of love for the sake of change i cannot fault her for doing so. I find i am with Shakespeare when i say…

”Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds”

I find i myself have changed a lot over the years, very different from the girl i was in my younger years. I have had my share of that sweeping all encompassing love and found that it did not end well. It is not to say that i should never be open to that kind of feelings again but i find now i have learned to expect differently from before. Perhaps age has made me less idealistic or perhaps i have simply learned to heed the lessons of experience and compromise where once i should demand.

Love.

You cant always live with it but it seems we definitely cannot live without it. I think all any of us can hope for is someone to notice when we are not around. Someone to care and to love us  in whatever way they can and perhaps if for some this is not as bright and shiny as for others then no matter. We all want to feel loved and wanted and id like to hope that for most we find what we are looking for.

Sometimes you just need to look that little bit more closely.

 

 

 

Who’s that girl?

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People change. We bend, we move, we alter with time. Buffed and worn with the experiences of life, how few of us can say we are still who we used to be. Life has a way of altering who we are, without us ever even noticing, until one day we look back and find ourselves so changed as to almost be a different person.

I know i have.

I admit to being by nature quite insular. Not that anyone would notice for i have become quite adept at giving all the appearance of someone quite the opposite, being open ,warm and friendly in public. Partly due to my job i admit but also due to the fact i find society  clearly expects me to be this way, an automated response in the presence of someone else.  I live in a world of extroverts who like nothing better than to spend vast amounts of time with each other whilst, introvert that i am, i just want to retreat to a place and persons of my choosing. In social situations i still want to be invited to whatever events and get togethers that are planned by my peers but i want to be accepted for the fact i will rarely attend.

Perhaps i am an alien. I often wonder if my body was taken over by some other being so stealthily that i never even noticed. Looking back down the years i regretfully admit i have changed in myself perhaps more than is usual for anyone to do. Gone is the extrovert, friend loving me with a head full of dreams and a whimsical wish to meet prince charming and be wed. Happily ever after turned into happily never at all. Whilst i admit to being much more of a realist than ever i was before, i still find buried remnants of the person i used to be. Yet cynicism clouds my reality, not in a way as to make me grim and dour but certainly enough to change my expectations from life.

”Do you Amanda take……..to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

Yes once that was me. Even after one bad experience i still clung hopefully to the thought that prince charming was out there. Waited, confident that any day soon i’d be swept off my feet, that all the storms in my ocean had been worth the weathering and for a while i was. But somehow fate decided that shipwrecks and sinking were on the cards for me until one day my  battered little boat was bobbing the horizons alone. I determined, however, that i should be the kind of person to never carry my baggage along with me.Weighing me down as i plodded my way doggedly through life, smiling despite it all. Yet for all my determination i find perhaps i carried more with me than i realised, coloured by lies and mistrust into a person who suddenly didn’t need anyone. Strong, independent and solitary yet in contrast still upbeat in spirit.

So there you have me. Independent, strong minded and decidedly cynical with a touch of ironic and at times self deprecating humour. I do not like to need people, a fact which has frustrated male friends and partners alike.  Men i have found in general like to feel needed and i admit i have a touch of this myself, yet i find myself unable to need in return.  I am careful to surround myself with those people i want to have around me but i am careful not to let myself need them.

Needed but not needy.

Yet over all this a gilding that makes me acceptable to society. I’m branded a nice girl, helpful, kind and thoughtful and for the most part i am. But hidden beneath is whats really left of the sum total of my years. However hard we try we cannot escape some elements of life experience that we shall always carry with us.  Miserly with trust my circle is small in some unconscious  attempt at self preservation.  Perhaps life will change me some time in the future, perhaps i shall not always be as i am or perhaps this is how i am destined always to be.

Turning my attention back to the screen i wistfully sigh as Jane Austen’s Emma comes to a tearful realisation that she does indeed love Mr Knightly and i muse upon the fact that perhaps all is not lost of me after all. However unwanted i still seem to have that softness inside that keeps me human.

People change. We bend, we move, we alter with time. Buffed and worn with the experiences of life yet perhaps more of this is under our control than we realise. Trust may not always be as misplaced as sometimes it may seem and damaged inflicted over turbulent years can often be repaired leaving the way clear to finding ourselves again.

I know i’ve changed. Have you?

 

 

If it makes you Happy!!

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Ah if only life was so simple!!

6.30am and Sheryl Crowe is ringing in my ears while I do my best to rather tunelessly keep up with the song.

”If it makes you happy..it can’t be that baaaaaaaaad, if it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad” I screech merrily whilst the coffee machine buzzes in the background. The cat looks at me in disgust before wandering off to sit by the door, awaiting freedom for a mere 5 minutes before she suddenly decides that she doesn’t want to be out there after all.

If it makes you happy.

I have to wonder why life is so complicated. You never think it is as you go about your daily grind but the truth is we’re mostly programmed to do things that we really don’t want to. We groan loudly on a Monday morning as we haul our protesting bodies into clothes that we would never usually wear, before leaving on a commute that we should never undertake if we didn’t have to. Work. Really, would anyone ever go if they really had a choice?

Of course not.

We’re programmed you see, nice obedient little robots, trained to do the expected and brainwashed enough to consider consequences should we fail to do so. But does it make you happy? What if one day you just woke up and said ”I don’t want to do that today, or that, or that”

Well I guess for one you’d get the sack and starve is the answer. Then there’s the guilt. That little voice inside your head that pokes and prods, reminding you of what you should be doing. Intruding on any attempts to do anything at all that you’re not pre- loaded to do. Sometimes I imagine in my head what it would be like to just say no every time I had to do something I didn’t want to. A day in my life where I refused to go to work, where I avoided the bus and wore clothes that I knew I really shouldn’t be wearing that day. One day to not do what is expected of you but instead to rebel and do exactly as you pleased. No no NO!

BUT THAT’S WHAT WEEKENDS ARE FOR!!

Somebody said this to me once and I remember raising my eyebrows and saying ‘Really?’ Am I the only one that spends a weekend rushing around juggling washing and cleaning whilst trying to fit in a trip to the dreaded supermarket? Sunday afternoons spent in exhaustion staring zombie like at the TV because I haven’t the energy to do any more. Weekend PAH!! Somewhere in all this chaos you need to find time to have a relationship which, trust me, can be challenging at times.  I envy those people who make it all look so easy. So balanced that they spend the weekend eating out and planting pretty flowers in the garden.  A decaying Jasmine plant lurks by my front door giving testament to the fact that I am definitely not one of those people.

I guess I just have to find a balance. My options to either wait until I retire ( currently around the age of you’ll be too old to enjoy it) or I need to land myself a lottery win and pay someone to do all the things that I don’t want to.

If it makes you happy..it can’t be that bad.

But it is!!  Honestly!

Do more of what makes you happy. Life is for living. Live for the moment.

All those ra ra ra quotes that appear in google when I type in the word happy.  None of these tell me how to get somebody to go to work and clean the house for me whilst I go and sit on top of a hill reading a book! Time intrudes in the form of the most annoying alarm tone in the world. My brain whirrs into ‘you have to go to work’ mode and automaton that I am I’m already mentally laying out my uniform.  Careful makeup to hide the sleep deprived bags under my eyes. Chewing mindlessly on, well I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast. Suddenly the cat decides that actually she does want to be outside after all.

Car horns toot, rain drizzles steadily and the bus is late as usual.

If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.  Does not compute, does not compute.

 

Into thin air

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Sometimes i wonder what it would be like to disappear. Not in a magical sense where i vanish in a puff of smoke to goodness knows where, but really disappear from life in general. Suddenly just to drop everything and keep on walking without ever looking back, shedding responsibilities like layers of oversized clothing, each step making me lighter as i get further and further away.

Ah responsibilities, the bane of every persons life. Those persistent blighters that keep us running like rats on a wheel, getting nowhere yet not knowing what else to do but run. Strange how akin to a rat i have felt of late,working, eating , sleeping and running ,running, running on my wheel. Eyes firmly focused on the bars as if i could reach them if i ran hard enough. Hope trained firmly on the space beyond waiting for some monotony breaking piece of cheese to dangle on the outside. Run ,run ,run…keep on running.

There has to be more to life than this, oh that eternal cry of the overworked and underlived and surely i expect there must be if i only had the time. Tick tock, i’m late, i’m late. A white rabbit skips around in my mind relentlessly urging haste that i have somewhere to be. Responsibility again, stabbing endlessly whenever i should pause to take a minute. No time No TIME!! You have to go. Keep on running, run run run.

Oh to be able to just walk away. Just to find space to exist outside my own head and my own life. To be me but not to be me in any encumbering, self shackled way. To spread my arms wide and gaze up at the sky and just BREATHE.

Responsibility again and this time it has brought a friend. Each have an arm and pull me in opposite directions. You need to do this, you need to do this, no time no time like some distorted mantra in my brain. No time, no time, who are you anyway?

Sometimes i wish i could just disappear.

You hear it all of the time in the media, people just vanish, never to be seen again. How strong the yearing for freedom, for some flicker of differentiality to the never ending tedium and sheer encompassing exhaustion that is my life. Oh to be able to sleep until i am not tired any more, to walk at a pace that is not a run. To look around instead of rushing blinkered headlong through the day. Stress begone and leave me to my day.

Sometimes i wish i could just disappear….. and i could, couldnt I?

 

Blowing out the candle.

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I’ve grudgingly decided that I think too much. Generally I mean.

Not in any way specific to one particular topic but my mind in general wanders and then I think. A lot. I overthink and I obsess. Then I think some more.

Today I was reluctantly babysitting the remnants of some international flu virus whilst dragging my protesting body around the house, trying to raise some semblance of order to its mildly neglected state. I like everything just so and often cast loving glances around my belongings, drinking in the feeling of home they give me. Today, however, my mind started to wander to the realms of mortality and I began to imagine what on earth would happen to all of this if there were no me to need it. I blame it entirely on Doctor G you see. My son is horrified that I avidly watch TV shows about autopsies..”even while you’re eating! YUK!!!”  For my own part I find it tragically fascinating, although it does make one extremely aware of how limited an existence we can have.

Around the room my glance went as my overactive brain stripped away everything that was me. Footsteps in an empty room before a voice says ”Last tenant passed away, rather tragic it was too”   NO!! Snatching up a teddy bear I hugged it comfortingly before assuring it I wouldn’t abandon it any time soon. Of course then I HAD to think about it for it was stuck in my brain and would not be quiet no matter how hard I tried to make it. I wonder just how long I DO have left? Oh, what if I should get run over by a bus tomorrow, should I write letters, for everyone might think I didn’t ever love them! Those that I didn’t might think that I do and that’s even worse!! What about the cat??

As I said I think too much. But on a serious side I couldn’t help but wonder how easily our lives are discarded and packed away like it never existed at all. Belongings that we so carefully hoard over many a year vanish leaving no trace of our personality behind. Those of us lucky enough to leave someone to mourn us eventually fade to a few photographs and disjointed memories before evaporating into nonexistence like we had never been. Cherished items mouldering in some back street charity shop, forgotten and unwanted.

Perhaps it is something that comes with age. Never before did I think about dying or not being here, yet all too often recently I am aware of how every year is a bonus. I think it would be arrogant of me to assume that I should get to live out as many years as I would like. Yes, if I am honest , I am a little afraid. Not of dying, but of dying before I am ready to go. So many places I want to go and so many things I want to do. I wonder if fate will give me the time I feel that I need. I wonder if I shall leave someone behind to care that I am gone.

Sometimes lately I feel afraid to go to sleep, terrified that this may be the last time I close my eyes. So irrational a fear yet so few of us get warning and I should not want to close my eyes so early for the final time. Yet I am so very aware that if this the case I should never even know that this was the end. I would not be here to know that I did not wake up.  Blown out like the flame on a candle.

I wish I could choose a point in time and say ”That’s it. That’s when I want to go”. Be able to live free of the worry that my time might be shorter than I’d like. Sadly it just doesn’t work that way. So each night I close my eyes and fight the temptation to try and stay awake and pray as hard as I can that I get to open my eyes in the morning just the same as I did yesterday.

 

 

The Year of the Panda

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So its new years and apparently time for positive resolutions. Well im not a new year fan and dont make resolutions but these are the things i AM positive about…
1) I was a fat cow last year and yup im still a fat cow just with more chocolate. Thankfully this will always keep me safe…fat people are so much harder to kidnap.
2) I’m going to spend the whole year trying NOT to be a fat cow whilst resisting the urge to chew off my own leg.
3) I may get halfway skinny….for a while anyway. I will blame my failure on a mid life system error.
4) I will hate people. I hated them last year and yup still will not be feeling the love. Really people are just SO annoying.
5) If i love or like you then you’re privileged…i don’t like many people.
6) I will constantly be in a rush. To work..home from work and whilst i’m at work. This wont change. Multitasking is the centre of my universe.
7) I will spend every payday hugging my bank card for a whole hour before it all bleeds out of my account at a terminal rate. There is no cure…it cannot be saved. Funds are being set aside for its eventual funeral.
8) i will still get annoyed at the cat..even when the cat has done nothing wrong. It’s always the cats fault. Even the cat agrees with this.
9) i will spend the whole year doing DIY convinced that one day i’ll be happy my house is ‘finished’ . This will never happen. I am a residential magpie.
10) i will love being ME… grumps, grouches, mad moments, soft heart and strange sense of humour me. I will be my very own version of Alice and i will live in a very odd world of my own. I will never change not for anyone. 🐼😘

In the shadow of Heathrow

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Right on cue the air screams with the vibrations of a timely plane as it passes overhead, seemingly close enough to reach out and touch. This is Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world and arrivals and departures number in the seconds not in the minutes. Believe it or not you do tune it out to some degree but the sight of the giant metal Avians littering the sky is a familiar one and one you expect of a bustling city like London. Being somewhat of a country bumpkin myself i nevertheless feel very at home in my city second home and thrill in the vibrant diversity of it all. The hustle and bustle feels very compact and crammed in , with every available space untilised to the maximum and hardly a green space to be seen unless it be of the grass verge variety. Or so i thought.

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Following a maze of urban streets you step through the gates of a city park and are instantly transported to rural heaven. Along winding tree lined avenues, following the wild overgrowth of the River Crane, you would believe yourself to be in the heart of the British countryside and not infact in the depths of the largest city in England. Butterflies wheel and spin, vying for airspace as they dance their fluttering dance across the heat shimmering sky. The air of silence is oddly shattered by the alternating sounds of the overhead jet engines interspersed with the raucous cries of squabbling magpies. Crossing an elderly bridge to gaze down at rippling water and contemplate a game of ‘Pooh Sticks’ before turning a corner and stepping back in time.

St Dunstans church nestles serenely in a sunlit corner of the park showing visible signs of age yet none the less impressive for all that. Splitting wood and age worn gravestones announce proudly that this elderly house of god has been there for many more years than you and i could contemplate.

”Come inside” it smiles invitingly, like some beneign old grandfather welcoming you around for tea. Who are we to refuse and we walk carefully around the grounds interestedly peering at those gravestones visible enough to still be read. Yes old it is and the gravestones lay testament to its age. Who were you we wonder as we pause by first one and then many more of the higgley piggledy scattering of stones. Serene and welcoming and cause indeed to linger a while before continuing on our way.

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Much of a surprise then to round a corner and see undeveloped land as far as the eye can see. The alien bulk of a distant control tower the only blight on the otherwise rural looking landscape. Golden fields ripple in the gentle breeze leading to enticing looking tunnels of trees and yet more green and golden expanse. A flash to the right as a little grey body makes a dash for cover, white fluffy tail bouncing madly as it makes a bid for safety.

Bunnies!!

Yet another and then two more as they pause to consider our motives before either fleeing or dismissing us of no consequence and remaining as they were. We briefly halt our progress and tarry a moment to consider them as they in turn watch us a little warily but do not flee. Another is not so bold and dashes for the safety of a large patch of undergrowth yet perhaps it was not us who sent him there as a large magpie hops madly around upon the path infront of us. Just about to perform my usual superstitious salute i spot another and lower my arm in relief. The area is almost deserted compared to the overpopulated urban madness not a stones throw away, yet here it is peaceful and only the odd passing stranger indicates that we are not totally alone. Along the river we wander before out into the wide golden wilderness we step once more. Some thoughtful soul has cut a wonderful path of crossroads within the expanse and some time is spent wandering first one way and then another , randomly taking first one turning and then a  second. The bunnies give way to a lone kestrel soaring in the evening sky, clearly it is time for dinner and we are too far away to disturb his efforts and so he pays us no heed. Look another and yet another and still one more! Six we count in all and they swoop and soar in the warm evening air first gliding landwards before flapping madly to hold in some advantageous position. Glorious they are and so many is a sight to see but secretly i pray ‘dont catch a bunny, oh PLEASE don’t catch a bunny! ‘
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Again the raucous call of a bullying magpie as a tag team of the embullient avians lay chase to an unfortunate Kestrel. Clearly laying ownership to a small tree they are having none of the poor Kestrels attempts to gain perch there for some small moment of time. Two against one is no match and in defeat he wheels away to seemingly float upon the night sky with his bretheren. Pause for a ‘selfie’ for posterity and then it is time to let those jet engines intrude once more as the rural hideaway fades and urban life encroaches once more. How magical to find such a place so hidden from view in a most unexpected place and one i hope i shall visit again sometime in the future.

Typically bridget

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We’ve all seen the movie right? The wonderfully hapless Bridget Jones drowning her sorrrows in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s whilst sporting the latest fashion in duvets. What is it about us women that immediately makes us dive for consolation in the form of something sinfully gooey in quantities we’d normally cringe at the thought of. I wonder why we’re so predictably cliched to the point that they even make movies about us highlighting our more obvious behaviour.

Guily *hand up*

Going through a painful breakup myself i shamefully admit i have become essentially Bridget although my Ben and Jerry’s is more of the M&Ms variety and far from wailing all by myself in a tastefully messy bedroom i have instead resorted to crime drama and moving furniture and sniffling over breakup songs on youtube. What can i say i like having control over something right now even if it is just the current days position of the sofa.
Why do we do it? I mean never yet have i seen a single movie where some dejected guy is welded dolefully to his bed whilst putting himself on the outside of a three gallon tub of ice cream. No, in movies men go out and get a new girlfriend whilst little miss slightly tubby has a minor breakdown and murders every break up song ever heard before sobbing hysterically that nobody will ever love her. Hmmmm not a good stereotype really i think. Yet that is exactly what we women do.

Then true to form being as predictable as we are we then launch head first into reinventing ourselves in a bid to ‘fix’ all of the things that are wrong with us. You wouldn’t be single if you were prettier, thinner, blonder, taller etc etc so partly in a guilty bid to rid ourselves of the results of our gastronomic decline we haul our spare tyre into the gym, buy endless new outfits (in a size smaller of course) and embark on a whole new look. Again hand up for i am guilty of all of those and confess to spending 20 minutes leaping about like a nutcase trying to squeeze into size 8 jeans.Perfect, exactly one size too small, something to aim for!! Horrified i had only realised just how womanly predictable i was when a friend sent me an article about the 7 things not to do after a break up. Oh dear well i’ve already done four of those only 3 left to go OOPS!! Who am i to disappoint??

Much later wailing along to all by myself along with Bridget on dvd i suddenly had a fit of the giggles as i realised that in the space of just one week i have, minus the cigarettes and alcohol, become Bridget Jones, spinster. Oh dear. Still you can’t help but love her no matter how hapless she is and i live in hope that far from finding me miserable and grumpy, those who know me will decide i’m adorable and indeed very’Bridget’
I couldn’t help but wonder as an aside just how many tubs of Ben and jerrys are purchased to be consumed in a non emotional moment and whether the company would actually go out of business should we women all cease to become such emotional puddles of unconsolable depression.
Still there is a lot to be said for reinventing oneself and may i be forgiven if i cannot raise my hand a third time,the gym definitely has a lot to answer for. Perhaps it is no bad thing to effect a change after all, perhaps the new me may be far better than the old and i have to admit i do rather like being a blonde again even if it is on the No No list of ‘after a breakup’
Perhaps i am more predicatably female than i ever imagined, perhaps we all are yet strangely i do not feel offended for once at the thought of being like everyone else. Duvets have their place and time in life as does Ben and Jerrys as Bridget and i both agree. Still on to number 5 on my list and time to fit into those jeans.
Better to be typically Bridget.

A tale of two kitties… or maybe just a few more

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Love them or hate them you can barely go a step down the street without running into a furry feline of some form or other. I am definitely a cat person and am the frazzled owner of a barking mad part bengal tabby. Tally thinks she owns me and thinks nothing of creating havoc in order to have me chasing around after her.

So when some weeks earlier my boyfriend announced that a feral cat had given birth outside his parents house i immediately went into full-blown gush mode. Definitely a very smart mama cat, she had wedged herself and her furry brood in a very small space between the two houses, far out of reach of human hands. Peering excitedly into the gloom a couple of weeks later i could just about make out a furry bundle of shapes at the very far end. Strangely mama cat did not seem one bit fazed by us cooing over her offspring and merely flicked a tail in our direction and sauntered off in search of food.

But one day mama cat did not come back and the hours rolled into one day and then two. The poor kittens far from being safely hidden at the back of the small alley were cuddled up at the front awaiting their missing parent and the promise of food.

But mama never came.

As two days rolled into three and boyfriend was keeping a strict vigil it became clear that something had to be done. It was clear that mama cat had either abandoned her tiny offspring or something untoward had befallen her.  It seemed there was no other option than to mount a rescue and since very concerned boyfriend was the only one on hand, the task fell to him. Now i can only tell you the events as related to me but as you can imagine all did not go according to plan. Whilst three were very swiftly whisked away before they could even realise what was going on, the other two made a very wobbly run for it further back into the enclosed gap. Definitely not wide enough for human occupation, it meant that our hero had to be inventive in his attempts to shoo the elusive felines out of hiding. Since the gap was too small and too high to reach into or enter  it meant a long length of wood had to be fashioned from smaller pieces in order to lean down and shoo them along with it. Now even today i cannot help but giggle at the thought of dear boyfriend balancing on high smacking a kitty up the bottom with a plank of wood. It did prove effective however and two little bundles of hissing fur were dispatched into the box with their siblings.

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So what exactly do you do with 5 feral kittens who havent eaten for days? Feed them first of all..one by one with syringe and cat milk and bless him he did a good job. The little tortoiseshell was definitely not impressed and hissed madly whenever approached but after deciding exploring was more fun set off on an adventure. Thankfully after several calls a veterinary surgery was willing to take them and raise them so back into the box it was, bumping and fighting all of the way to their temporary new home. I have to admit they are adorable and i got to visit them myself some days later. Very much changed and much more sociable than before they happily came close for attention as we approached. Houdini, as i have christened the tortoiseshell, was very much an escape artist and made a bid for freedom at every opportunity. Scampering around the surgery with boyfriend in tow he alternated and in return followed at my other half’s heels like a nosy puppy. As i sat and watched they jumped and tumbled, pouncing merrily upon each other as they played.

All but one.

Sitting right at the back one tiny black kitten made no attempt to join in. Staring with wide blue eyes he appealed to me greatly for where the others made every attempt to gain your attention, this one did not. Simply sitting quietly observing whilst the others vied for attention this one did not even try. This would be the one for me were i to take one home. Timid and overlooked yet to me the one that stood out the most.

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So that dear readers is how you save a life and proof that just sometimes, just sometimes, a hero does come along when you need one. Five little kittens are going to have a better life than the one they would have had before and i shall remember a quiet pair of blue eyes looking up into mine.

PURRRRRRRRRRRRR

Three wheels on my wagon



 

You never let anything get you down do you, you’re always so upbeat?

I’d never really been one to take much notice of other people’s perceptions of me until the above statement from a colleague made me pause and examine my own psyche. Long ago i ceased to care what other people thought of me and decided that they could like me or not but i wasn’t going to change who i am for anyone. I guess the truth is i lost myself for a while, forgot who i was and lived smothered under an alter ego created for me by others. I forgot how to have an opinion, i forgot how to have a voice, i forgot how to be me. Now i remember who i am and i shall not let anyone take that away from me again.  To this day whenever i see a bird in a cage i feel so sad, for i know very well how it feels and wonder where it would go were i to set it free. Would it know how to be anything but a bird in a cage? Probably not and i have seen instances when even were a cage door to be opened the bird makes to attempt to leave and make a bid for freedom. It simply does not know how.

It is said that a persons personality is set by the age of 7 years of age and that whatever traits we have gained by then will remain with us for life. How much truth there is in this i do not know but i do know that without doubt the experiences of childhood remain with us forever and invariably shape the people we become even if we are not aware of it. Having seen both first hand and in others the effects of a negative emotional upbringing versus a positive one there is no doubt the effects of both are lingering.  Life  experiences made me tough, i’m a survivor, a practicalist and an eternal optimist and if i ever feel down only one person should know it. I’m often told im a strong person and i guess i am, i have needed to be. There is very little that life can throw at me and i have been told i have a very pollyanna attitude to life (most of the time). But i have also seen the ill effects an emotionally damaging upbringing can have on an individual who is not as battle hardened as i and there is no doubt that however hidden those scars may be they are scars nonetheless. A lifetime affected by actions that were given little consequence at the time leaves me wondering how blind we are to the effect we have on others. Certainly it seems a lot more than we should be.

My childhood was rather contradictory. Whilst i was quite rightly taught that if i could not say anything nice then i should remain silent, this was not infact put into practise by those setting the rules. It however seems the ‘Do as i say, not as i do” rule was very much the number one when i was young and sadly this was simply taught to me and never followed. I thankfully to this day remain a firm advocate of remaining silent rather than say something unforgiveable and i try to be as mindful as i can, for something once said cannot be taken back. Some wounds, as i have seen for myself, run very deep and are very slow to heal and some just simply fester and may remain as wounds forever. The power of words has never been more in evidence for me than as of late as i have seen the suffering they have caused.

Yes i firmly believe childhood has more of an impact on us than at any other time in our lives. It is when we learn the most whether the good or the bad and follows a road that sets us upon a way of life we will barely waver from. Being a child is tough, being a damaged child is even tougher still. Childhood made me stubborn, strong, resilient and a dreamer. Yet it also made me caring and empathetic to the feelings of others in the most unlikely way possible.

Strangely and perhaps quite perversely a song popped into my head when i was musing over my colleagues remarks on my attitude to life. A song from my childhood that used to make me laugh until the very last verse when the poor man has no wheels left upon his wagon.  I used to get very upset imagining the grisly demise of the poor unfortunate fellow at the hands of the pursuing Indians. Today the song still makes me chuckle but i find it very fitting for me as i plod my merry way through life.

Two wheels on my wagon and i’m still rolling along…..

 

 

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’ 

The road to hell

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It’s official, im doomed. I’m going straight to hell on the back of Chris Rea’s motorbike, one way no stops, no collecting £200 as i pass go but going full speed down to hell.

It all began with a cheese sandwich you see. Now i know youre chuckling or thinking i’m mad but this really is serious stuff here.  Hunting frantically through the fridge for something for lunch i had happily decided  on tuna, you know that nice healthy fishy thing i eat a ton of. The trouble was i only get a very short lunch break and glancing at the tuna and then at the clock i concluded, after wondering just how fast i could chew, that there was no way i was going to be able to make the darned stuff and eat it too.  Typically this just had to coincide with the day the supermarket was all out of my favourite roast ham so there was nothing else around.

”EAT ME”

Erm excuse me?

”I said…EAT ME”

Okay nobody believes me here but food really does talk to me, i mean do i look like a skinny person?  But really it does and right about now a bag of grated cheese was flexing in my direction and urging me in a rather sexy drawl to eat him. I wavered..really i did and loyally glanced back at the tuna i know i should eat. I’m on a diet you see and i really do have to be good since i have had a few extra pounds donated my way of late.

”EAT ME”

ohhhhh really?? okay i crumpled..i was hungry and time was ticking by so i crumbled and gave in much to the smug delight of mr cheddar himself. Believe it or not i am usually quite resolute once i am on a diet and can lose the excess quite quickly and easily but i have this awful no mans land where i waver.  If i am not in the zone it only takes a very small nudge at my resolve and i crumple to indulgent abandon. 

I’m a typical Taurean what can i say? We love to eat, alas eating does not always love us back. Many a battle with the scales will follow although in definitely much more on the winning side than i used to be. Still i did feel rather terrible giving in to the lure of the cheese and hastily smothered the urge to turn into Britney Spears and skip around the kitchen singing Oops i did it again. Of course i shall now feel terribly guilty for the rest of the day, never eat again and eventually die of total shame.

So there you have it. One minute i think im safe in my nice little kitchen and then one random act sends me hurtling to the underworld on a cheese coated road to hell.  They say you are what you eat and i dont know how true that is but if it is so then the next thing i eat will be a skinny person. 

Ah well nice lettuce, lovely lettuce….come to mama!

goodbye my friend

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From the time we are small we will encounter many other people whose lives will interact with our own. Some of them will linger for a time before passing along their own path whilst others may stay with us forever. No matter the length of time each leaves behind some tiny little footprints in our memories and often our hearts. 

It is with great sadness today that i learned of the passing of a very old friend. A friend lost in the distant past but despite the different paths our lives had taken still a friend for all that. Mingled with sadness is an overwhelming guilt that perhaps i should have tried harder to hold on to the friendship instead of letting it go,. Perhaps my presence could have made some difference to her as it did in the past. Could i have saved her?

She was fragile you see and i knew it. A total contrast to my own mulish strength and i often was the support for her failing life. She did not cope well with the downsides of life and sought solace often in the bottom of a glass. I know it was not my choice and she lived the way she wanted but memories of old remind me that i could have stopped her or at least led her to moderation as i had in the past.  But maybe i failed her by not being there. 

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in our own lives and i am the first to admit i am very solitary. My friendships are few by choice even if my acquaintances are many. Yet we found each other she and i, in a time when we were both at our most vulnerable and formed a firm kind of limping friendship that i like to hope mattered at least a little. That she was only slightly older than i is a painful jab at just how short life really is and perhaps makes me more aware than ever of my own mortality. Yet i like to believe that once a friendship is formed then it will always be so whether the years steer you in different directions or not and i think that perhaps she would have agreed with that. 

Wherever she is i hope she is in a better place for i know that for her life was not an easy experience. Perhaps now she will find the happiness that for so long eluded her and finally find herself some peace.

Goodbye my friend, 

There is a happy land

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In the course of my work i encounter many many people. All walks of life, all ages, races and religions. Some of these are your average pleasant examples whilst more often they are sadly the opposite. Whatever the person you meet there are occasionally those who for some reason or another stay firmly lodged in your memory. Up until now it has been my misfortune for all of those of my experience to be of a negative nature rather than a pleasantly positive.

Recently all of that changed when i had a conversation with an elderly man. To begin with he won me over with his lovely chirpy greeting and after a morning of exceptionally rude people he was definitely a balm to my downcast mood. They say that you can hear in the voice when a person is smiling and of this gentleman this was certainly true. Smiling he most definitely was. 

Faintly Welsh with that singsong lilt to his voice he replied that as the sun was shining he was very well indeed and asked after myself in return.  ‘My Lovely’ he called me and that in itself made me smile for it was nice to hear after a particularly harsh day. I explained the purpose of my call and he listened intently before pausing for a moment after i finished speaking. then he began to chuckle and i was taken aback as he announced that he would be glad to help but he really did not see the point for he was not long for this world. ”I’m dying you see” he told me quite nonchalantly.  Like any empathetic person i was horrified and apologised profusely, condolences rushing forth although i wasn’t really sure any of them were enough to befit the situation. Startlingly he dismissed my words with another chuckle and told me that he was ready to go.

”I’ve lived my life you see” he told me ”I’ve lived a very happy life, had a wonderful wife who is waiting up there for me to join her”

Then he began to talk. He told me of his life and his time in the second world war. That he found in me a willing audience there seemed to please him greatly and we talked for some time as he told me of his time as ground crew personnel. Scoffing genially at me as i enthused my love of the B-17, telling me firmly that there was nothing to hold a candle to the good old Spitfire. As he talked he never changed, that same chirpy happy nature shone through and despite his bombshell i found myself smiling too, very much warming to this old man i had never met and he did seem to be genuinely happy. 

Smiling still he told me of his wife, clearly from the gentle affectionate way he spoke of her it seemed he really did love her. That he was looking forward to seeing her again in whatever place exists after passing touched me and made me smile. No clearly this lovely old man had lived a happy life, this much was evident from the way he spoke. He stuck in my memory for his charm and his friendly nature and his gentle acceptance of his lot and i wondered if in my own turn i should feel the same. 

I have always been a big believer in trying to do the best we can with the life we have for we really do only get one try at it. There is no ‘return to go’ for those who make mistakes and get it wrong no matter how much we should wish it. Although many years hopefully yet to go i couldnt help but hope that i should be able to say the same as this lovely man, that my mistakes however many were still nothing compared to the happy parts of the life i managed to have. I have to admit a relief that my time is not yet up for i have not yet reached that place where i can look back and say i have led a happy life. My mistakes are many and i am not so very good at getting things right. Yet there are those things, however few, that definitely make all of the difference and i can truly say i feel i got right. It is so very hard to realise just when something is worth counting and when it is of no consequence at all but just sometimes there are things you just know you have to count. Regrets will follow when you realise you should have counted something that you didnt or in hindsight put too much stock in that mattered not at all.

It is all a question of balance and doing for yourself those things that will make you look back and say you led a happy life. Perhaps you may not have started out that way but the world is full of choices and it is up to us to choose the path to the right memories. For myself i shall remember that lovely old man whom i met only briefly but who made me smile on a very bad day and who gave me faith that if you stay true to yourself and what you believe you really do have the potential to be happy. 

Wherever you are sir i wish you and your wife a most happy ever after.