Sometimes in life s**t happens. Maybe it was your fault, wholly or partly, maybe it was out of your hands and beyond your control. Maybe you are left feeling bitter and want to lash out and blame someone else, or maybe you genuinely are the victim of circumstance. You might find yourself going through the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining and depression before finally reaching acceptance. During the early stages of this process you might try to put a fence around yourself – focus on the blame, attempt to punish the perceived culprit, seize back control of how your life will be.
Once again I find myself scrambling for something to write, unable to determine a coherent subject with which to bombard the world so here is some random stuff I have been doing/thinking lately:
Easter holidays have been a welcome break from our recent 30 mile commute to school in the mornings.
Meeting up with Elfa (Californian Mum in London) and both sets of children for a picnic in Bushy Park recently was lovely and we whiled away several hours playing, eating, scrambling up, down, in and through fallen trees, and most significantly, wielding sticks of every size and shape – lots of imaginative play with a stick standing in for everything from a gun to a wand to a conductor’s baton.
Our local park does the most divine home made ice cream which is bad for both my pocket and my waistline.
If you take your kids to a children’s farm (in our case we thought we’d try out Hounslow Urban Farm near Heathrow – fab if you’re either a lover of mental alpacas, demonic goats or plane-spotting) don’t bother buying the animal feed unless you have a particular urge to get your hand comprehensively licked clean by a range of farmyard animals whilst your children disappear into the distance on miniature John Deere tractors.
I’m not sure whether to sob or cheer at Donald Trump’s recent statement on punishing women who choose to get an abortion – on the one hand it is incredibly scary that this man is even on the campaign trail, on the other hand it seems that he has shot himself in the foot by showing his true colours here and not being enough of a ‘politician’ to veil the truth.
I have been glued to this year’s edition of The Voice UK as it seems to be the first time ever that nearly everyone who got through to live finals could actually sing. Having said that, is it just me that thinks Lydia has only got through because they waited until the semi-final to mention her tragic family loss? Hearing Boy George and his team sing the Culture Club ballad ‘Victims’ was a blast from the past – a song I loved in the 80s but probably haven’t heard since. Shame the man himself seems to have had some kind of voice transplant.
I thought I’d got off pretty lightly on the threenager front with EJ until he had the mother of all tantrums because I wouldn’t let him take a small tractor into the ladies loos down at the HUF (see above).
Somebody please remind me to send Lovefilm back the DVD I have had sitting unopened on a shelf for the last 9 months – if August Osage County has that little appeal to me as a way to pass my time then it’s not worth keeping! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this – Lovefilm must be kept in business through people like me!).
Kingston upon Thames has really got a lot going for it these days. Recently I have sampled real Asian street food and enjoyed the buzzing vibe which comes with that kind of market – something which you just don’t get with other provincial towns further out of the capital.
The two things I took away from The Ideal Home Show were a) the realisation that it is possible to buff your nails to a glassy shine and b) Vitamix blenders rule!
I haven’t been able to write too much lately – life has been completely knackering and if I’m going to write then my optimum time seems to be mid-morning which is really unfortunate due to the fact that I am rarely unoccupied mid-morning. However I have managed to find a few things to love lately.
My favourite programmes recently have been: the BBC3 comedy Cuckoo with Greg Davies who is brilliant (and also used to teach drama at my old secondary school! [way after my time I should add]). I just love the silliness of it all – all the characters are written so well; Happy Valley – so sad it’s over already, another tour de force performance from Sarah Lancashire; The Voice UK – I know, I know, so predictable of me but I enjoy this so much more than something like X Factor, although now it’s going to the live shows it remains to be seen if the natural talent will survive duff song choices. I think Boy George has turned out to be a pretty good judge as far as I’m concerned, I have agreed with most of his choices although Ricky has the best team in my opinion – Kevin Sim’s performance of Chandelier is definitely going to be one of the series highs; and Thirteen – another BBC drama series, this time the story of a girl who was snatched from the streets by a man who kept her hostage in his cellar for 13 years before she manages to escape. It’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds though as the details of what actually happened behind those four walls gradually emerges.
I’ll admit right at the outset, I’ve never had a serious illness to contend with and neither have any of my nearest and dearest (although last year my dad was treated for a type of cancer relatively common to older men but it was caught early, completely eliminated and never caused him any real suffering.) However we all go through hard times in our lives for one reason or another and these times test us – they test us to the very core of our being. The question is: how do we react and respond to the challenges we face?
The other day I spotted one of those Huff Post links that sometimes pop up on my Facebook timeline. This one was called “22 Things only introverts understand”. Intrigued, I clicked through and found myself nodding along in agreement to many of the points on the list, particularly “we turn into a silent observer when more than three people join in our small group conversation” and “the increasing creep of anxiety when we want to leave a party but our ride wants to stay”.
Isn’t it true that we all have the innate tendency to over-complicate things? I had to nod along in agreement when I read Sara’s recent posts about simplifying her life in 2016 – I think it’s something we could all benefit from.
I look at something like a machine, a computer, a page of code, and it is frighteningly mystifying in what seems a very complex string of gobblydegook – but gobblydegook that a few properly clever people understand. Then I think back to a course I took as part of a degree in Information Studies and I remember what I learned about binary – that every single piece of information in cyberspace is nothing more than a series of ones and zeroes. There is either something or there is nothing; a presence or an absence; light, darkness.
I’ve been thinking a lot about religion and the lack of it recently. In fact so much so that my YouTube page is now littered with clips from the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, Tim Minchin and even Eddie Izzard.
I hate to have to drag her into it again but I was reminded by Jenny over at Unremarkable Files that the post she wrote in 2015 which went viral was called “Why I make my children go to church”. Essentially Jenny’s post argues that “parents have a moral obligation to teach their children whatever belief system they think is right”. Within the post and the comments below it many religions are referenced from Jenny’s own Mormonism to Judaism, from Islam to Buddhism.
I just read a post over on Californian Mum in London about not bothering with New Year’s Resolutions and to be honest, I never have bothered before – I completely agree that most of the time our goals are too lofty and we’re just setting ourselves up for a fall.
However for the first time I kind of get why we have them, why we start new stuff come January. December is such a hectic month and let’s be frank, the run up to Christmas starts so early these days that the last third of our year seems to be spent frantically preparing for the celebrations to the detriment of all else. No wonder the beginning of January not only feels like the calm after the storm but also a time when we are suddenly able to re-focus on ourselves a bit. There’s definitely a reason why a lot of people started up their blogs in January (not me – I started mine in July – I guess I’m just odd!).
When I was at school I have to say that careers advice was not up to much. I’m not sure what it’s like nowadays but back then you were pretty much left to your own devices. I remember going to the careers advice office at my 6th Form College once to ask for advice on applying to do a Media Studies degree and was pretty much told not to bother as it would be too competitive.
As to the career I decided to pursue – well, as children often follow in the footsteps of their parents and my mum was an editor I found myself taking an HND in periodical journalism, however, my first ‘proper’ job was a data-based role within the book publishing world. It wasn’t the most thrilling job in the world and eventually I found myself trying to re-imagine life: as a horticulturalist, an English language teacher or a photographer – any of which fields I may have been able to re-train in (I actually did do a course in TEFL but never pursued teaching as a career – kudos to teachers, that is one full on career – especially in those early years of finding your feet).
I always like to do an end of year round up – for myself as much as anything, even if I get no readers and zero comments this post will exist in perpetuity to remind me of the good things I have experienced in life and that we have experienced as a family.
So without further ado:
I took JJ to the panto in Woking for the second year running with my friend Clair and her son. I still felt that EJ was just a bit too young for the experience and I’m kind of regretting that we haven’t booked panto for this year now because I think he would have enjoyed it. Maybe a last minute booking? Anyway, we saw Justin Fletcher (AKA Mr Tumble) playing Wishy Washy in Aladdin and it was a fun afternoon out.