Ramblings, daft and humourous, dark and sad, but hopefully mostly happy
Thousands of bubbles twanging their explosive power into the space above what’s left of the sugary ocean.
Encircling aluminium providing a wall of death for the evil conveyer of the trickster of all mixers.
Almost at the end now, the surviving bubbles shimmy across the bottom and sound like beads or grains of rice being moved on a tray.
My advice would be go to bed on a glass of water instead!
This isn’t a post about battles between farming folk and city-dwellers.
Sorry if you were expecting one but as I find I have a foot squarely in both camps, I can see both sides of most arguments waged around subjects here.
I’ve been married to a farmer for 24 years and 4 months (do you think he’s planning something big for October) but I’ve never lost my yearn for city-life and exploring new places.
We know that Man of the Woods is happiest when surrounded by his trees and clods of dirt (some of which fall from his boots when he pops his legs up on the corner of the kitchen table after most meals.
He’s very specific about his food. I used to moan he was difficult because I couldn’t just rustle up a sandwich of my choosing and deliver it to the tractor. It had to be whatever his thing was at the time. His thing at the moment is “ten of my special biscuits sandwiched into 5 with peanut butter, no butter, thank you. And a coffee.”
Once I’ve made sure the ingredients are in the cupboard, it’s surprisingly easy to keep him happy so I’ve altered my view of him being awkward to predictable, and that’s quite refreshing to work with. Imagine having a husband who wanted a gourmet dish designed and prepared each day?!
It always amazes me that within minutes of turning a foot’s depth of soil over on a field which has been stubble all autumn and winter – ploughing – that seagulls appear from nowhere and swoop in for worms.
I mean, the coast is fifteen miles away. How can they smell, see, sense that a farmer has hitched up his plough rather than a drill or a sprayer? Do they send a scout out to roam the skies for brown fields?
Covent Garden last night. Walking towards Leicester Square; just that whole West End lights and buzz vibe. You can’t beat it in my book 💙
Luckily these days, MoW accepts (rather than let’s me go) that I adore being there and knows an occasionally ‘fix’ makes me happy, so no longer do we have the conversations where he would query the need to leave the village boundary and I would get defensive from the feeling of judgement or being restricted.
Does that make sense?
This was a roiboos tea in a cafe in the centre of Covent Garden, before we ‘women of the family’ garnered for a show to mark the 70th birthday of my mother in law.
I’d assumed for years that I knew Tina Turner. I was aware of someone called Ike being a ‘big name’ in music a long time ago and I’ve been vaguely aware of their union.
I was wrong.
All I knew was the facade which Anna Mae Bullock chose to portray to the world during the 80s onwards once she had finally split from Ike.
She’s been through the bloody lot. The crap that is racism and which was still ruling those times; domestic abuse from her husband of 16 head including regular beatings. She was ‘used to’ the way of life having been brought up by her father who commanded his way in the home via violence, which her mother walked out on but leaving Anna Mae with her father.
I did clap. Here and there. But not like most of the audience who saw it at face value.
I felt the expected vibe towards the end when she finally found love with a man sixteen years her junior, a white German to whom she is still married.
But the majority of the show I found incredibly disturbing. Five years ago I’d have watched it at face value also. But spending those weeks doing self esteem courses at the Women’s Aid refuge two years ago meant I no longer see things at face value.
I’ve been alongside, sat next to, women who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of their supposed protectors/husbands and seen the emotional damage those wounds still cause long after the bruises have gone.
I’ve never experienced physical abuse. Although it is only one of seven recognised forms of the domestic abuse umbrella … listed in the 2015 Coercive Control Law which was passed in the UK in December of that year. Makes for incredibly interesting reading if you are unfamiliar with what constitutes being assertive and breaking the law.
At the end of the show, I wasn’t so much elated for Tina Turner as sad for Anna Mae. The years spent hoping things would change, praying she would make it big because she needed to escape her ‘norm’ . The systems which were not in place then to help or recognise there was a problem. As her sunset years approach her, I hope she is still happy with the love of her life.
The romantic writer part of me is relieved she found Erwin.
The dark thriller writer part of me wants to finish Ike off in some grizzly way.
But for now, let’s just make do with a superb view of sunset over West Hampstead.
… rather like customers at a car boot sale, and my blog is that trestle table sagging in the middle, random items trying desperately to look interesting and all down to a pound because I’d rather not haul them back home again.
Goodness it’s been ages since I went to a car boot sale. Certainly not since the kids became teenagers. When they were smaller – both under ten and outside the rugby season – we would often drive to a nearby and regular car boot venue on a Sunday morning and become ecstatic as we snaked in-line towards the spaces in the car park (sheep field Monday to Saturday).
Man of the Woods would put the driver’s seat flat back in the truck and have a nap, and we’d promise to bring him a bacon buttie and coffee within an hour.
I’d give the kids a fiver each and they had free rein to buy whatever tat they liked. That freedom was a drug to them, but the tricky challenge was deciding if they should buy the first item they spotted and decided they couldn’t possibly live without, or risk losing it into the arms of another child while they continued their search for something ‘even better‘.
(Have a hand-painted scene by a backstreet artist on Skiathos which I watched him create in about fifteen minutes 😱)
I’ve been having a few Marie Kondo moments in the house recently and have practically re-stocked the local Sue Ryder shop with enormous amounts of clothing, shoes, games, books and … stuff. Like, why did I keep random wire shelving units… or wooden boxes… or candle sticks and I don’t mean a decent silver pair such as those in ‘Les Miserable’. Did you watch that? We did and loved it.
I was invited to watch the opera once, probably twenty years ago. I delighted in the opportunity to surround myself with intellectual people and accepted. I had absolutely no idea what was going on – during any of it. I recall the stage revealing a spiral walkway and a battle scene but my history lessons at school had been spent day-dreaming through the windows.
Here’s another history lesson.
I’m reading this novel by Jodi Piccoult – Small Great Things. I’d heard of it and seen the cover bandied about of course but had no idea what its conten might reveal. I can tell you, I’ve not been able to put it down!
Prejudice… is what it’s about, in one word.
Jodi has weaved the most believable characters into this contemporary tale. People trying so hard not to be racist, they are tripping over their political correctness time and time again.
The book is about seeing what humankind can do – has done – to each other.
Within sentences of meeting the white supremacist, I hated him with a passion. Yet even he and his world and what led him to his beliefs, has burrowed under my skin of intrigue. I just hope they can sort all this out amicably 😢. (Yeah, right … I doubt they are going to be buying each other shortbread any time soon.)
If you read my post some weeks back ‘Everyone’s Talking About Jamie’ you’ll recall I support all things equal, tolerance of different people. Perhaps I should add a small caveat here. Anyone who is hard-working at living their lives without attempting to disrupt others for their own gain.
Long term readers of my blog will know that following a year of counselling, I don’t tolerate bullying within my own walls – and that’s a middle class white family. Believe me when I say there’d been plenty of prejudice going on there to fill a small back street in Paris with old furniture. My mother’s living room is so jam packed with verbal judgements aimed at everyone, from the dentist, the woman in the flower shop, the dog breeder on the end of the phone that the air in there is stifling.
How’s my book coming along did I hear one of you ask? Aside from the fact I’ve not touched it for five days at the time of writing – and I’m going to blame Jodi and weekend antics for that – I’m two thirds of the way through incorporating the pink pen edits 💃🏼
This is taking considerably longer than anticipated as some pages, such as this one under my home-made soup, were practically re-written 🙈
I’ve also finished a brilliant read called ‘Save The Cat’ by Jessica Brody. This 15-beat method of plotting a novel makes more sense than putting your shoes on the correct feet. How I wish I’d discovered this book before I started this story!
Following a small tantrum I knuckled down and read to the end, furiously scribbling notes along the way of additions seriously needing to be made to my manuscript. So this will be the next edit. No-one said it was a quick job, and the last thing I want to do is submit to anywhere while I know it can be so much better.
(It’s 4 in the morning FFS. Why aren’t you asleep?)
Brain iron filings.
It’s what my head feels full of when I do that turning-over thing in the early hours in the dark, listening to Man of the Wood’s steady breathing. I debate about rejoining the pages of an unread-novel, or stew over ideas for the manuscript. I lick my lips with a dire need for a coffee with CoffeeMate; newly discovered and being consumed in copious amounts because it is soooo creamy.
(So now you’ve been down two and a half hours will you go back up to bed now? You know you’ll look like death all tomorrow otherwise…)
Thanks. But no, I’ve got a court case to read about. One where the white lawyer is going to be played by Julia Roberts in the forthcoming film adaptation. Viola Davis will be playing Ruth, the black labour and delivery nurse accused of the murder of a baby in her care. It’s going to be such a moving and important film of our time.
Hope you’re all having a good week. If you’ve read to the end, do leave a comment just so I know who is still reading this blog. I think the algorithms may dictate that because I’ve been far less active than I used to be, my blog is floating somewhere in oblivion. Three days ago, I had one visitor 🤣 seriously. Just the one!
… are that within one Down-Dog, you can see how dirty the kitchen floor really is 🙈😂
So I watched this last night, with daughter, at The Apollo in Shaftesbury Avenue and it was incredible.
I always enjoy a trip to England’s big smoke and more recently my visits have been book/writing related, and utterly, delightfully selfish. But last night was more about seeing my daughter who has now been in West Hampstead for almost two years.
She has her lonely moments, as all single London-dwellers do I’m sure. She returns to the farm most weekends, or to her BF’s which is equidistant from the city but in another direction. A 9-6 routine with all the usual issues can be quite a strain, especially if you don’t have a circle of friends on your doorstep.
Not because I want to interfere with her continued discovery of the adult world, but because she asks for my company on occasions, and I told her when she was a toddler that she could rely on me. For as long as I walk this planet, and for anything.
The thing about being young is you’ve yet to develop that hard exterior shell of ‘fuck you’ which makes it vaguely easier to deal with life’s knocks. (Is swearing strictly necessary? Well, in this context I think it is, yes. If you insist, although I’m not convinced).
We may have been in the minority in an audience full of, it has to be said, gorgeous gay couples. I’ve always had gay male friends because, quite frankly they were some of the funniest, genuine men I’d been fortunate to cross paths with. The fact they never required or expected anything from me other than respect was refreshing too.
In my early days, when I worked in local radio, I had two if not three, gay male friends to pass the time with while we booked guests into studios or discussed the lengths of CD tracks which would fit between the end of an interview and the news.
I’ve lost touch with them, and the farming community is not exactly awash with gay men. I know there are some out there, just like rugby and cricket is finally more tolerant of a handful of players who have been public about their sexuality, I hope farming can be the same in time. We need to change from the straw-chewing gate-leaning, leering chauvinism men of farming past!!!
Anyway, I digress….
Daughter enjoyed and totally got the messages in the play last night. It goes without saying the lead was a star and will go on to be so, but two parts particularly stood out and made my blood boil.
Jamie’s father was brilliantly portrayed as the stereotypical homophobic middle aged man who had washed his hands of his son. It was heart-breaking.
A classmate was also incredibly portrayed as the alpha male of the class, predictably good-looking, fit, swanky attitude but horrendous tongue to match as he bullied Jamie who wishes to wear a dress and high heels to the school prom.
While not all gay men wish to have an alter ego drag queen as a friend, those who do get my vote.
I know I was there more to listen to her woes as opposed to impart advice, as we jangled our way back up the Jubilee line to West Hampstead and she stirred hot chocolates while I sat propped up under her rather delux goose down duvet. She recently failed the second round of online application process for BA cabin crew so is nursing a bruised ego too. Having been a Head Girl at her school and a hard-worker with glowing references since she was fourteen and started waitressing, we both assumed she’d at least get though to the taster day. But hey ho, that’s life. She can try again in six months time.
I don’t know all the answers to life but I do know what it feels like to want to succeed at something and going through the motions of not knowing if I will.
I got to the end of pink pen edits last week and practically rewrote some of the novel in the process! I’m excited about getting back to the laptop next week to implement those changes during which what in essence will be a second read through. I wonder how the 77,000 word count will fare after this exercise!
Anyway. Going to rest my eyes for the remainder of this train journey. Have a great day and weekend everyone.
PS .. thank you Joseph Beech for your amazing comment at the bottom of my post about depression xx
The clue was hidden amongst dead leaves and twigs. As I pushed them away, woodlice rolled onto the forest floor and opened up.
‘Oh God, yuck – look at it move!’ my sister’s face appeared beside me, her unbrushed hair swinging forward and I could smell the strawberry shampoo she insisted on using.
‘Scaredy-cat!’ I giggled and lifted the board clear of woodland litter. ‘The silver sphere will be a blood red moon. Don’t be caught out, or the flames may burn you soon.’
‘I still don’t get it.’ she wrapped her old coat further round her and echoed the words she had uttered the year before. The breeze licked her face with an icy tongue and I watched her shiver and threw the board back to the ground.
Our grandfather had told us about it years before and every year we had tried to work it out.
Silly bit of flash fiction… to celebrate my completion of the Pink Pen read-through 💫
Man of the Woods has been chainsawing again .. rejuvenating old thin hedgerows so they will grow back thicker and better for wildlife.
Photo credit – meeeeee 😃