Island Blog – No Moment Missed

Life is an awfully big adventure or it’s nothing at all. Or something like that, if anything could be just ‘something like’ an awfully big adventure, or a life. But we so often take days for granted, allow them to limp along in trudge boots, unseeing of the beauty of our one and only chance to make a difference. Now why would we do that? Death is the end of life and we don’t much like death although I, for one, am completely okay with it for it is just part of a cycle, unless the death is too soon, too young, too inexplicable. Those deaths take forever to be allowed in a mind. But the days we, who yet live, must be roiling with adventures or they just slip through our fingers like mist; missed; missed opportunities to scamper if we can, sparkle our eyes, notice everything, to engage with everything and with everyone we meet. It isn’t hard at all, not if we think it so because by thinking it so we show our humanity and our gratitude. Things will annoy, people will irritate, life will throw curve balls and situations will seem unfair or cruel but if we choose to see life as an adventure, we will learn techniques to work around, work with, work intelligently through any amount of sh*t. Our belief that our piddling little life is more important than anyone else’s is what creates war and war is nothing if not pointless and destructive. From neighbours to posturing countries, from pub quizzes to dinners out, as long as we tell ourselves we are the proverbial ‘it’ the road ahead is paved with troubles. The key is to let go and to let be. And until we learn that, until we take down our walls of protection, we will always be something’s or somebody’s target.

This weekend past I drove to the ferry (most of the way in Nervous Gear) for a visit to my son and his family. I can almost see their home from my own so don’t think airports or anything as scary as that. All I had to do was park, walk aboard, cross the sea and then walk down the gangplank, straight into my son’s big strong arms. We laughed and talked, ate too much and wandered each day with their littlest one in her polar suit and furry lilac boots. During that time I learned much about about them, how they are now, so much more than I could ever learn in a text or during a phone call. Engaging in their life, albeit for a short time, showed me their life, told me how they think and let me know how they have moved on since last I spent some days with them. In my big family it is easy not to manage any of that. A few exchanges when the little ones are playing elsewhere is enough for the time but doesn’t show me how life is for any one of them inside their own lives. And what I noticed is that they grab every opportunity for adventure. All my kids do and in doing so they teach their own little ones to do the same. A sudden rain stop. Let’s get out there and climb trees, or splash in puddles or play ball! There is no faffing, no hesitation, just action.

I return home with memories of our daily adventures roiling in my head. Colours, laughter, pink cheeks, cold fingers, encounters, good coffee and the warmth of a shared evening. It hopes me for a better world. If everyone just got on with life, really living it, giving every moment the respect it so deserves, well…….who knows what the earth might look like? Okay, maybe not the whole earth, but our own little bit of it, our own homes, neighbourhood, street, community. And it all begins with a morning decision to see the good in each moment, every person, every situation in which we find ourselves. When I was fearful on the scarily empty ferry, the cafes closed, the staff minimal, the travellers all unreadable in masks, I decided to stop, breathe in the salty air and to look around me. I watched a couple with a lovely wee dog, the way the woman reassured when the loudspeaker yelled everything in Gaelic, the way another couple took pictures of the passing lighthouse. I counted the beat of the lights and wondered who decides which lighthouse does what and when. I smiled at passing crew members and noticed the way they were already ready for a mask muffled exchange. They, like me, are short on conversation, I realised. The ship was ghostly, almost empty and yet so big and powerful. I watched the wash created by the engines, the wake, the seagulls fly, the islands I cannot name moving by, dark in the darkling light as the sun sank into the great Atlantic. I heard all sounds around me. That door needs oiling. This flag needs a seamstress or replacement. I noticed the colours and their lack. Why does everyone wear dark colours in winter? It’s as if we need to blend into the sleep of the season, no colour upset to the quiet vibration of January. I, in my colours felt a bit rude to be honest. But, no matter. All of us, the dark and the coloured folks, all 10 of us on a ferry that can carry 1000, arrived together and safely. As the crew threw ropes and japed with the land crew, I saw the sea settle, the salt sink, the last light catch the spume turning it into an adventure – just a moment but I caught it and the lift and startle of it carried me all the way back to my wee mini who, I just know it, was excited that I was back. Hallo Pixty, I said and she smiled into life. We trundled home once I had worked out how to put on the headlights and arrived as we had left but not. No. We arrived back adventured up. Changed. Not a moment missed.

Island Blog – Thing with a Point, Small Whispers

Have you ever said, or asked yourself – What’s the point in me doing this thing? I certainly have and still do, only now I understand that even the smallest step is always worth taking even when I can see no end result, no point that brings me the whole Something; that Something that would show me the point of my pointless steps and would surely confirm that I was actually prophetically brilliant without realising it.

Every single day proffers opportunities and we evaluate each one. What is the point in me sweeping the kitchen floor when nobody but me will see it today? What is the point in my adding a few more stitches to my latest fantasy landscape tapestry when I make no effort to market them? What is the point in applying loud makeup? For the sheep to ‘baa’ at or for the birds to tweet to their own Twitter mates? Why am I considering hoicking out that lithograph of an ancient stuffy old ancestor I never ever met, just to add ink and make a print? For whom? Whom cares?

Chances are, nobody. Not a who nor a whom; not at step one, nor two or even ten, but when a body remains committed to the small steptasks, something wonderful joins that bodymind on the long and winding road. As I make myself perform these, frankly ridiculously ridiculous, tasks that have popped into my intelligent head only to be sideswiped by my intelligent head, I feel a sense of achievement in my soul. Now, the soul is powerful and it has a voice. I turn to address the cynic in me and hold up my hand. Stop right there. I am doing this ‘pointless’ thing because something way bigger than you or me sent me a whisper. Through a word, a song, a looking, a noticing and I am tired of being so grounded in earthly limitations. I have wings and you, Mrs Cynic, do not. You are not spiritually wealthy. I can tell by the tight purse of your mouth.

So I do all the pointless things because every one of them has a point, in itself, its own point and who doesn’t want one of those? If I honour the whisper as the one who can make this thing a better thing then, what is not to like? In my long life, I have found that the end game is often imagined. The success story we read, the achiever, the award winner, the one who won Strictly. We are fools to aspire to such ‘success’ unless we are prepared to swallow the bitter pill of the millions of small steps that would make that success possible. I don’t want awards, nor to win Strictly, but I do want that sense of warm pleasure that comes from any job well done, no matter how pointless it felt at first. It doesn’t matter if nobody sees because I do and I am my finest seer. We all are. I wonder sometimes that we teach our children shortcuts, to run fast and not to stop for anything, resulting in hollow hearts. Taking the fast route can work at times but not all the time. There are small whispers being missed at a cost.

So, I would say this. When a small task whispers in, take action and value that connection. You never know what will come in to help and to guide. Don’t give up and don’t give in to old Purse Lips. What does she know, she who never partied till she lost a shoe? Live wild, people, no matter how old or young you are. Adventurize your life right now. Otherwise that life, our only one, is nothing at all.

And nothing is pointless, at best.

Island Blog – Little Adventures

I know, I know, that’s another oxymoron. Love that word, and it catches at my skirts oftentimes. It’s like a sudden Monroe wind, lifting things above gratings. Ach shoot. And, yet I love to trouble grammar and ‘the way it was’. Back to the aforesaid. There is no Little Adventure. All adventures are, by definition, Big. Just saying.

This morning I changed frocks 3 times. I showered and painted me up before a mirror that makes me look like I am Balloon Woman, which is necessary to ensure that my eyeliner and rouge (is it still called that?) are both in the right places. A woman could regret getting that wrong. I am heading to the streets. Well, to be honest, I am going for a hair trim in a harbour town/village on an island but as this place is what I know and have known for 40 odd years, this is my IT and still scary. England has come in. Squillions of England. The whole ‘staycation’ thingy means that this island which is only just abroad, allows in tons of camper vans and others who are longing for a break in a happy place. I get it. And I also get it, like full in the face, on our little skinny roads with swipes and flips and ups and scary downs, as big SUV’s pummel towards me with a punch and big faces and with no intention of reversing. Breathe.

Frocked up, I am heading in for a hair trim. No parking, like no parking. I anticipate this and park early. Walking is no problem for me. I also have a mission. I am to collect something nourishing for a bench lunch with a dear friend. I have to mask up and go in. Cover me. I stand outside in the sunshine, quivering. A young dad shunts in behind me. I ask him, Are you on holiday? He is open and responds with an unfearful smile, mask on. He tells me he is here for the week. I tell him he picked a good one. Sun is forecast. A faithful collie waits at the door for the ‘only four’ people in there, and we have a chat. No lead, just leadership for the that collie. I love to see that trust.

I see so many people without masks, hear their voices, know they are not from here. I walk down the centre of the skinny road, waving at the locals who drive past, meet other locals who also choose the mid road walk. I am guessing there are many places like ours full of locals who are wondering.

Later, once home, I walk my wee dog. She welcomes me as if I have been gone for years, as she always does. Then my faithful not-son comes to strim my overblown garden, topping the clover and the wild flowers that still have time to come again. He smiles at me, knows what I like in my garden, and can answer every single question. I am so lucky.

I think this virus is still alive and kicking. It will affect my choices from now on. I also see that, was I younger, I might think differently, my fingers holding onto life well into denial. I know it. But not now. This is a different world. We have this and we need to accept and deal with it, not in thirsty denial as I met today on the island streets. Even with two jags, we can carry it. I don’t want to do that. And I was always a Get Real woman. Life is as it is. Those who hide or run away never solve things. I like the whole ‘solving things’ thing. I want to be there, as a frontliner, solving, or, at least, helping.

So many adventures today. Actual and thinkingful.

Island Blog- Rule of Thumb

The dawn turned the far hills blood red. Although Father Sun rises behind my home, he makes his presence known in casts of colour, short-lived but marvellous to see. The sky, flat and brushed with Payne’s grey, Rose Madder and Ultramarine looks like it is unsure about what to do next. Threatened storms may roar around us as they often do, we who stick out into the Atlantic like a determined finger, independent of any weather forecast. It thinks me.

In a few days I will have been married for 48 years. We both will. A lot of what happened over those years were not as I had dreamt, nor planned. My ideal of a marriage is not so unusual. White knight, independence, the freedom to make my own choices, take my own actions, sing my own song and all under the loving and approving smile of a benign king. I would share the throne, choose my own frocks, laugh loudly when I wanted, speak out my truth and be heard. I’m not saying this never happened because it did, but where I thought this would be a rule of thumb, I found, at times, that I was under said thumb and unable to rise to my full stature.

Did it damage me, this thumb thing? It did not. Instead I have learned that on many of those remembered and unremembered times, I had a lesson to learn. I would have been, and can still be, too quick to respond, to act, to speak out. My vivid and often unrealistic imagination could have launched me into trouble without that thumb. I thank the thumb owner, that’s what I do, now that I can look back and join up the dots. I married a man 10 years my senior for a very good reason, even though I didn’t do so consciously. Somehow, my sub conscious knew what was best for me, what or who would keep me safe from danger, from myself.

I would never, even in my wildest dreams, have lived the live I have lived, the one I shared with my king. I would never have known the exciting highs nor experienced the awful lows without him and his thumb. In balance, and this is where the dot joining comes in, my life, our life together has been extraordinary from the beginning and all the way up to the now. When I recall our adventures, the spontaneity of them, the sudden Let’s Go thing, the way we led our children into independent thought, creative action, kindness towards all living people and things; the way we laughed and partied, invited and welcomed, shared and made ourselves known in the work we collectively undertook. The way we steadfastly marched on through bad times, poor times, times when our inventive strengths pulled us through. And the way we made a difference, made memories that so many others share and still remember with fondness and a chuckle.

It was never plain sailing, not for either of us. I doubt that marriage ever is, for anyone. But, to survive and thrive through such a vast ocean of years is to have made many sail corrections. Thousands. Millions. And we have, and we still are making those corrections, working with the winds of time, rising over and over again, no matter how big the waves, how fickle the chop, how far away the next peaceful harbour.

I feel honoured and proud. We did it. We got through. And we are still here, still breathing, still sailing towards a new horizon. Together.

Island Blog 115 Primary Three

 

2013-12-13 11.27.05

 

Thirty Three years ago this morning, a child was born.  A boy.  The Third Boy – 3 being the first prime number, the lucky prime, the only prime triangular, the triad, the noblest of all digits, and the only one of five to be born on the island; the only one to spend his first night on this earth in matron’s bottom drawer.

Let me paint the picture……….It was a wild and stormy night (which it was) and I was determined to miss the last ferry.  I knew a-plenty about birthing by then, had already had 3 labours (one being the Only Girl) and did not want to be inside a hospital.  The first two had been home births and the process is straightforward enough anyway – I mean, there’s only one direction to go down, and all I have to do is swear a lot, push when told to and trust in the doctor and nurse, both of whom I knew well.  So, in the middle of this gale, and in the darkness and in the crankitty old landrover with its binder twine door hinges and sheep food in the back, we rattled to the old folks home and Mrs MacFlorrie’s bed.  Not that she was sharing with me, you understand, but was, instead, shunted down the corridor to bunk up, temporarily, with another ‘old folk’.  That is how it was in the olden days, for we had no island hospital back then.

He was small and stayed that way for a while.  They suggested a growth hormone, but we said..

‘Leave him be. When you have this many children, it’s handy to have one you can just pop in your pocket.  Whilst other boys are growing and talking about how big they are, Rhua squeezes through the gaps.  he is as wiry and as fast as Spiderman, and just as fond of heights.  Look at me! he shouts, aged two and half, from half-way up a cliff face, or from the top of the massive old oak tree, and we all do look, just to keep him quiet, and we keep looking, although I must have looked away at least once, as there is another baby on the way.’  (Island Wife Chap 17)

When he came home to Tapselteerie, he spent any sleep times, never longer than 20 minutes, day or night, in the tea towel drawer, whilst I worked in the kitchen.  Because the house was so huge, I could never have left him upstairs, just below cloud level, for goodness knows what he might have got up to.  He was the one who tipped all liquids and powders from all bedrooms into the loo and mixed up a cauldron of seething bubbles and curious smells.  He is the one who left home aged six in the dark of a wild night, with only his toys as luggage.  He is the ‘chef’ who signed up for trial of a deep fat fryer, one that arrived in the back of a big lorry.  The delivery man did not believe me when I tried to send him away, saying it was a mistake.  He would not countenance that he had driven all the way from the depot in Glasgow to this isolated place, with moon rocks and pitfalls and nothing but sheep and heather for days.  I had to show him the 6 year old chef, before he would even consider returning to base camp.

It was this third boy who rose from his short sleeps with a head full of ideas, and a deep sense of purpose.  I found him once frying bacon on the aga, start naked, aged 2.  For our breakfast, he said.  He had already laid the table, with brandy, bread, salad cream and red sauce, tonic water and chocolate. It was hard to be cross.  How he managed to lift the heavy aga lid, without nipping his manhood in the bud, still amazes me.

I took to sleeping outside his bedroom door, lying across the narrow landing on the servants floor (no servants to be seen) in order to save us all from this boy’s nocturnal ideas and sense of purpose.

When he finally grew into a young man, he hit the world with a force it might not have been ready for.  Wherever he went, wherever he worked, he was enthusiastically bonkers, and very successful.  And now, as a father and husband, and broker in the flatlands, he still is, but it is not the outward success that matters, but the man he has become.  A man I respect, admire and adore.  One who makes me laugh, whose heart is huge and strong, who can blag and wind up, who can reach too far, fall down, and get up again in a nanosecond.  Although he is born of me, he is himself as are all my kids, and each one of them delights and surprises me.

I remember the illnesses, and the times of trouble.  I remember the nights of worry, the fears and hopes, the dreams dying, the prayers a-plenty, but when I look at them, at any of them, I am so very proud.  All we ever wanted for our children, was that they find their own way into a fulfilled life.  I know this is not a thing that comes gift-wrapped – indeed no,t for it is a process, and a long one, but to see young people on what appears to be the right track, is indeed a blessing for any mother, or father.  We couldn’t give them life on a plate, or expensive tuition or finishing school in Switzerland, but we gave them Tapselteerie and we gave them adventures and memories.

‘From the mound of dogs and kit, they(the children) marvel at everything, and, in their marvelling, I can taste the freshness of seeing things for the first time, the elation and sparkle in that seeing, like having lemonade in your veins and butterflies in your head.  There are no seat belts in the back of the Landrover, and no law to put them there, so the children bounce and whoop and flip like monkeys, free as air, as the car rocks like a boat in a storm.
Suddenly, my head is bursting.  Enough!  I roar, causing everyone to freeze mid-flip, and Alex to swerve.  He is not pleased.
Why are you shouting? he asks with a frown across his face, deep as the Limpopo River.
I don’t bother to respond, enjoying the sudden silence.  Instead, I turn to fluff up a very flat collie and to settle my sons the right way up.
What are you going to spend your money on?  I beam at them.
Jake is buying a Lego set, one of those big ones with enough pieces to block the vacuum every week.
Rhua wants an Action man.  Well, that figures.
And Solly?  Well, Solly wants a gun and chorus.
A gun and chorus?
Yeah! Gun and chorus, like Duncan’s at crayboop.
He is getting upset, as he always does when we have no idea what language he speaks.
Okay, okay Sol, that’s grand.  We’ll find one.
Cassie, seeing my predicament, pulls her finger from her mouth.
It’s a dinosaur with flashing eyes.  Duncan’s got one and he brought it to playgroups.  It’s called a Gunnacaurus.
She says all this in a monotone, staring straight ahead, like a code breaker in a spy movie.  I wonder what we would all do without her translation skills.
I bend my head down to hers.  Where do we get one?  I ask.
She looks at me in puzzlement.  A dinosaur shop, she says.
Of course!  Silly me.    (Island Wife Chap 21)

So, to the First Odd Prime Number I say…….Happy Birthday!

Island Blog 83 Travelling

Most of the time life is predictable to a degree.  Not a huge degree, out of choice, for me, but there is something calming about a routine, until it becomes boring which is quite a different feeling altogether.  A lot of us, I notice, live alongside ‘boring’ doing everything we can to cheer it up into a fizzbangpop now and again, to add colour and texture with a weekend social or a new frock, or, more recklessly, a Wednesday dinner date.  For the rest of the time, we allow the long chain of endless weeks to pull us along in a sort of mindless stupor, our eyes searching the week-day gloom for a glimpse of the weekend- those two short days when we can really be ourselves.

It is hard to be myself in an uncomfortable suit, one that grabs at various bits of me whenever I sit down and overheats and confines me until I fear I might have turned into a lizard.  I must bow and scrape to those I don’t even like, never mind respect enough for any such bowing and scraping.  I must hear things I don’t want to hear, witness unkindnesses about which I feel I can do nothing, and, finally, at the end of this day, I must push my way home for a short rest, if I am lucky, before doing it all over again the next morning.

Now, I know this doesn’t apply to those who love what they do and have made their life into the right shape for them, but I really believe these people number few.   What they have done is to say ‘ How can I make life fit around me?’ and not ‘How can I make myself fit into life?’

Everywhere I go, when I see someone out of kilter with their work, their lives, I will ask them what they want to do.  Many will shrug and say they have no choice, are in too deep now, too committed with a mortgage or debts or schools or whatever, but I will challenge that.  It isn’t always a popular challenge, and I am not in the least bit surprised.  When a person challenged me, at a time when I was trying to squeeze myself into a life two sizes too small, I would flap them away as I would an annoying wasp.  And all because their questions touched me deeply, threw me off balance and into a black hole from which I could see no way out.

How do I go from here, where I don’t want to be, to somewhere else, when I can’t see my way ahead?  I don’t even know what I want to do, how to make my life fit me.  All my clothes are two sizes too small and I have no cash to buy more.  Nor do I want to admit the defeat I will inevitably feel when my friends challenge my crazy idea.  It just isn’t sensible.

How do we define sensible?  Is ‘sensible’ just a word made acceptable by the world we live in now?  A hundred years ago, the way we live now would have been considered completely un-sensible by every living soul.  So, which meaning do we choose to believe?

If I know anything now, I know that if a person lives with stress that leads to unhappiness, they will become unwell.  Learning to manage stress is saying ‘I am not important enough to honour myself and how I want to live.’

It takes courage to make big changes.  The fall-out can range from disapproval to downright rejection, but this blows away in time and is forgotten.  Whenever I find myself doubting on the shores of a new ocean, I remind myself of the time I walked away from work with no income.  I remember the reactions around me.

I also remember the smiles and admiration from the same people when I made myself a new life.

If this is the encouragement you need.  Take it.  It can be your truth too.

Island Blog 63 – Silver Girl

Silver Girl

 

On June 1st Jenny  died.

We have been friends for over 4o years, the same as my years of marriage.

Our children knew each other as little ones and those children now have little ones of their own.  We had a bet going, she and I that her daughter-in-law would give birth before my own did.  The due dates hold hands, they’re so close.  I will see my new grandchild, but she won’t see hers.

Over the years, our roads travelled in different directions, but we kept in touch.  When she first got breast cancer, she was completely herself about the whole thing.  No time for this, she said, need to sort out treatment and keep moving.  She went sailing after that, for 7 months, she and her man, in a yacht to beat all other yachts with big-ass sails and comfort below deck, every comfort, and the wind in her hair and salt on her tongue, whilst I became an Island Wife.  But women who connect at a wild and deep level, who recognise each other’s spirit and love it, never lose touch, even if the contact is once a year.

We sailed with them once, meeting them on a Greek island.  We all wondered how it would work, four of us converging where Two Roads meet, after 30 years apart, and living in close quarters for a couple of weeks.

I could have been a big pain in the ass, I said.

You are.  She replied and handed me a beer.

In the evenings, moored in a little warm harbour, we would cook, eat and make music.  They taught me songs, and I them, and there was something magical about the candlelight, the warm nights, the laughter and song.

She did much with her life and was never still.  She was the second woman ever to command a Royal Navy warship.  A transatlantic skipper, a magistrate, a wife, mother grandmother, although that title sounds way too old for her.  She adored her family, and actively showed it.  She was feisty, impossible, decisive and noisy and there is a big hole left now she is gone.

But what will stay with me for ever, and this may sound selfish, is what she gave to me.  She never faltered and when I did, she whooped my butt.  I’m not saying, or even imagining, that she had life sussed, because I know she didn’t think that at all.  I saw, at times, such sadness in her big eyes, and she might tell me, briefly, or she might not.  When she knew she had only time left, she would still pick up if I called, or answer a text with humour.  She came to my book launch down south in a bright pink wig after aggressive chemo.  It was our last hug.

I salute her.  She is a woman who challenged me to be the best I could be, just as she challenged herself.

Sail on Silver Girl.

Island Blog 57 – A New Song

Island Blog 57

 

There’s a young man that I know……

Well THAT’S bad grammar for a start!  It should read…….There’s a young man whom I know……..no…that sounds heavy and requires too much lip puckering. It also sounds like the plural of hummus.

I know why the songwriter chose to forfeit the English Prize – some words are really hard to sing in certain combinations, and it sounds different again when you listen back to it through a fancy recording thingummyjig.

We were writing songs, me and two professionals from Wild Biscuit, in a lovely farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  There was a beautiful dog called Blossom, a bonkers horse with wild eyes that dashed by every now and then in a tartan blanket, ignoring any wheedles to come in for the night, and a loudly colourful pheasant from a hot country who (or is it whom?) appeared outside the kitchen door one morning and who now resides in the yard, fed on porage oats and leftovers. Swallows busied themselves with nest building and chattered me awake in the early mornings.  I watched a dipper on the pond and heard the Bark Chorus from the kennels across the valley.

Everyone knew this place already, but I didn’t.  My bed had soft white cotton coverings, and there were daffs from the garden in a little vase.  I sat down with my writings and John said Pick a line, so I did.  ‘Hey did I get here early?  I see you’re packing up the car.’  and we were off, me with my pencil and he with his guitar and recording thingummyjig.  When Mags came in to see if we wanted coffee, we already had the bones of a song in shape and my sore throat had quite forgotten itself in the excitement.

It was the same the next morning.  Only this line was ‘Sometimes I feel beautiful, easy in my skin,’ because I do sometimes, and I did that day looking out this time on sunshine and promise and that bonkers horse shooting by to interrupt my reverie.   By mid-afternoon we had two songs down, and harmonies and different instruments that rose into place with the push of a button.  I loved losing myself in the music, singing into a microphone for the first time in years, hearing the reverb and the feedback and remembering to free one ear so I could hear my voice in real time as well as the enhanced one, that sang me like a boy in a cathedral, with those high ceilings and big echoes and time standing still. There was even  Photographer Bill to capture the magic of all this creativity.  I gave him a copy of Island Wife and he said he would write his own story one day.  Shame, I said, you can’t photograph sound as I scrambled through another verse sounding like a donkey.  The next day I would be horse.

It’s a beginning, which is why we call it the ‘Imagine Sessions’. I am already writing a third song in my head and listening back to the cd I brought home of the first two, to think more on rhythm, beat, musicality, harmonies and lyrics; to practise, to lift a word clean away, or shift it, or lay down a new one altogether.  And the cough has nearly gone, for on mental tiptoe I can reach the high notes again.

A new door opens and I am stepping through.

Island Blog 51 – Stirred Not Shaken

Blog 51

 

When I am home again on the island, after a time away, I spend the first day remembering.

I remember a sudden smile on an old familiar face whilst sorting through the washing to be washed.  I hear again a comment, made days back and long forgotten by the one who made it and whose mouth has filled with many words since.  For that person, it is gone forever, but not for me, who heard it and held it and find it still inside my head, and sometimes my heart.  Lisa from Two Roads, for example, who spoke out before all those who came to the second book launch of Island Wife in Norwich, the home of my formative years, although, to be honest, I would question the formative bit.  It’s not like I stopped forming once I left, frozen in time as ‘her’ because ‘her’ has changed a whole lot since then.  For beginners, ‘her’ no longer wears shiny hotpants, nor does she feel like a bit part in someone else’s play.

Back, as they tell me ALL the time…..to the subject……..

Lisa stood up and said things about me as a person that made me feel like I was really something.  She talked about the book, about Island Wife and how it came into her hands and how Hodder multiplied it thousands of times over, flying out into the world on its own wings.  Karen, Queen of Publicity, came too and spoke of new avenues, new ideas, new hopes and plans for my story as we shared a cream tea in a smart town hotel.  Actually, I didn’t share mine, but that is so not the point.

Old friends I haven’t seen for 3 decades bought first editions and invited us for coffee, tea, supper and lunch, taking us on journeys through little Norfolk lanes lined with old red brick cottages and a lot of history, and the sun shone the whole time.

At the launch, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

I’m June, she said, and I knew her face at once, although on another’s shoulders, for she is the youngest daughter of the Old Horseman in my book.  We talked a little, whilst we could, and she went away with her signed book.  I had tried to find the descendants of those who gave of their best to us on the farm, and her unexpected visit (I hadn’t managed to find her) lifted my heart the highest.

The other lifting thing was that I realised among old friends, that, although we are all older, I am still the daft eejit.  Some long to be daft eejits, and some are jolly glad they aren’t, but, for me, it says just the right thing about me.  However tough life is, whatever comes our way, tries to break our spirits, confound us, shake our confidence, we always have our inner spirit, and it is our own.  My confidence shaker may be different to yours, but I still experience the shake.

May as well make it one with ice cream, fresh strawberries, mango juice and champagne.

 

With Two Straws.

Island Blog 45 – Small Giants

Island Blog 45I am an old fashioned sort of girl.

Big statement that.  Sounds like it defines me, but don’t stop there if you please.  I can be new fashioned in many ways when it suits me.

The thing about Big Statements is that they can confuse.  For instance, if I were to say ‘That man over there is an irascible old bore’  and you didn’t know anything about him, you could think that being irascible, old and boring is the sum of the man.

Which it most definitely is not.

Nobody is that simply wired.

I love language, the rise and fall of a phrase, especially, in the way my dad used to deliver them for maximum impact.  He used short words now and again, when he was playing the irascible old bore and the tonic water wasn’t cold enough, but in the main, he made language sing and he taught me well how to communicate.  This is not to say that in order to communicate we need to be graduates in English, or Scottish, or any other language, for that matter.  Words in the wrong mouths however cleverly phrased and delivered, can be as welcome as a fire in a paper factory, and as destructive.

In the world of technology, this new crazy fast non-human way of communicating, I find the old fashioned girl in me lurching into the foreground.  I know it is the new way to tell out our latest product, opinion, story, but it is not the only way.  We do not need to drown our voices in an ocean of electronics.  Deep inside every one of us, is the need for human contact, for the soothing velvet sound of a loving voice, for the kindly helpful efficiency of a stranger on the other end of a telephone.

No electronic recorded voice can do that for us.  We need voice to voice in order to reach a new place together.  Yes, a recording can guide us through a button-pushing and monotonous process as we plod our way to submitting our white meter reading for the quarter, but oh what joy it is, what heart-lifting warmth fills us when a real person says those loving human words ‘Mary speaking, How may I help you?’  I can almost hear the angels in the background, as she pauses for my reply.

I remember meeting my first robot.  She (was it?) answered with tick-tack words and no music to her phrasing.  I thought, this’ll never catch on.

So, Big Statement.  I am an old fashioned girl in the world of Communication.

I can also dance you off the floor when the DJ racks up the beat, and I can weep when Piglet gets blown off his feet in the Hundred Acre Wood.