Island Blog – Dawn and Wings

Sleep left the room at 4 am. It’s a bit rude to be honest and unfair that she gets to choose when to unwind herself from me and to rise into what is absolutely not dawn. It was the nightmare she didn’t like, I’m guessing, and nor did I, but that’s no excuse to abandon ship. Nonetheless, with her gone somewhere less scary, I knew I wasn’t going to sink back into slumber. Rats. I pull back the covers, fire up the bedside lamp and swing out of bed with reluctance and determination. This will not decide the quality of my day ahead, whatever it may bring. I have practised this art for many years now and have discovered that I am in control of my attitude, no matter what.

I wander downstairs to make coffee. I switch on Christmas and smile at the twinkly winkly lights on the tree that I am certain has shrunk since last year. It’s cute, though, sitting in the corner with an overload of fairy. She, unlike the tree, has grown inside the box in the dark of a cupboard and her frock flares like a cloud. Her wings are a bit wonky chops so I wonder if she might be preparing to fly off somewhere. We have a conversation about that. I notice that I pruned the big geraniums in my warm sunroom. The cut offs are in a pile on the ground. It did need doing and I did wait until all the blooms had gone crunchy before what looks like murder. It’s for your own good, I tell the skinny mother plants. I will add compost if this day ever decides to wake up and then water you. You need to sleep for a few months. So do I, but that is not my path, apparently.

I wheech out the ironing board. Yesterday I pulled off the cushion covers and bashed a year’s worth of dust and feathers out of the inserts, washing the covers until the colours brightened into smiles. Then I ironed each one and, when this day wakes up, I will fill their bellies once again. I search for some good tunes, discovering that Spotify has assembled my favourites for 2021. Well, how thoughtful! Each tune, each song is just perfect for an insomniac at the ironing board with at least four hours to go till morning rises in the east. I love that first glimpse of natural light, can feel the relief of it run through me. Now I can see.

I have forgotten the nightmare. I don’t often have them any more, thankfully. They used to stalk me every night and Madam Sleep was barely beside me for more than an hour or two at the most. I have tried to explain to her that she needs to brave up, to stick with me so that together we can banish the images, have a chat or a midnight feast and then return to slumber, but she is not a dependable friend. So, all on my own, I choose not to revisit the mare. Instead, I consciously turn to think on happy thoughts, like my children, my frocks, my day ahead. I wash in cold water because the warm is still asleep, dress, and put away the ironed clothes. I light my big candle in a jar and smile at its warm glow. I sit for a moment to consider others who find sleep a fickle friend. Hallo you all. I encourage you to learn how to change mares or sleeplessness into happy thoughts. We can all do it. The darkness can be a friend if we decide so. We can choose not to align ourselves to thoughts that tell us we are anything less than a wonderful, strong, powerful, beautiful human being, which we all are, every one of us.

And, there’s a day ahead, a new one, an adventure just waiting in the wings.

Island Blog – upper, Lower case

I love to mess with the way things ‘should’ be. Accordion to whom, is what I want to ask? Although I do recall, clearly, the easy hours of English Literature at A level, the rule book the size of a small country and berating my errors like a crowd of elders blocking any off roading. It isn’t that I don’t respect the construction of a good sentence. I absolutely do. In fact, I am the very first to throw a badly written book out the window. However, the essence of good writing is not a perfection of grammar. But, wait. This may not reflect my own truth. As a student of the language, of the best way to construct a sentence with noun and verb, avoiding adjectives, adverbs and other ads and coming into land on the line to say something remarkable, I appreciate that the only time anyone can play with a structure is when they know it very well. Perhaps this is why, when I read bad spelling in an official piece of writing, I cringe and throw. There is no excuse, these days with every help available online. Grammar check, spell check, information check, all is there. It is a case of not bothering and not bothering is, well, cringe and throw.

But, and this is key, the person who dreams about writing a book, essay, short story or children’s book, should never ever and ever again bother with whether or not they have a diploma in the complete labyrinth of English language, and it is. A labryinth. You can get lost in it for weeks and nobody is looking for you. You have to get up, dust off and keep going with your eyes crossed. and your brain a bucket of worms. It is important, nonetheless, to gain understanding of how language works and this is why. We have softened the borders of our language and let in some ghastlies. We have allowed in the complete change of a single word’s meaning, losing, on the way, a g or an h and this does matter, not necessarily to hold on to the old, onto what was, but just to know it was there, once, a part of the scaffold that lifted a writer higher. We, the Brits, are still celebrated world wide for our writing, our films, plays and tv series. We are strong with our understanding of our language, and its structure. And sometimes that confines us, especially if we did not do ‘well’ at English in school or have been ridiculed and mocked for our ‘wrong’ use of words in a sentence.

Bin all of that. We need writers and not just those who have gained degrees or diplomas and (often) done little with that stored knowledge. We need enthusiastic passionate writers who don’t even believe they are writers. The works, the classics, the honoured novelists, I revere and respect. But, people, these times are new. We are living in a conundrum (look that up!). An anomaly, a confusion, a splitting of the ways, a confoundment on boundaries and with a big hole in that wall which offers an opening into something new and scary. If you have that drive, do not die with your song still in you. Do not accommodate old rules, confinements, mockings or perceived prison bars. Fly. Do it. Write. The experiences each one of us have tucked under our belts over this past year are fuel for Talk, for Story, for Ideas that break boundaries of space, time and language.

Come on people. I know there are many out there and I will tell you why. We have so very much to say now. We have gone through loss, grief and struggle, pain, abandonment, sleepless nights, eating up, eating down, evasion, confusion, anxiety and identity crises. In the old days (I remember them) we knew who we were, where and when we met. We collided, avoided or we came together. We knew parameters and levels and the land on which we stood. We knew the way forward and the way back. This all came from the ‘elders’. They spoke and we believed, well, not me, but I went with it anyway because there was no other direction on offer. Now we are spinning like tops. Circling each other, unsure. And it is a writer’s perfect space. Use it. Talk about it, write about it. Let the pain rise and the sky fall. Let the anger out and watch it turn into rocket boosters. Let it out. ‘out’. because it if doesn’t ‘out’ we, as dynamically creative individuals, will just join the ranks of those with mental health issues who have gone beyond inspiration, inventive creativity and a Sunday dinner with pavlova instead of tinned custard; those who will bury this year of troubles and sink down into a permanent Lower case.

Just saying.

Island Blog 162 Blue Moon

Blue moon

‘A blue moon traditionally marks a time of change and possibility in the astrological world. The blue moon is the first since August 31, 2012, and won’t be seen again until January 31, 2018.’

It won’t be blue, however. The Blue bit refers to the fact that there will be two full moons this month, this lunar month; a phenomenon, and we like those.  For the star-friendly among us, it denotes a time of change, of possibility.  We say that something happens ‘once, in a blue moon,’ as we refer to the rarity of an event.  We, on the island, might struggle to see any moon at all through a closed and soggy sky, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going on beyond our vision.

Although I usually avoid anything political or strug-mental (my word) inside my blogs, there is a time for every season, one of which is to be counted, to stand tall for something I believe in.  Okay, I’m not so tall, not so important that my little stand can change circumstances, but perhaps, by becoming one of a crowd of ‘standers’ I can make a difference.

On the island, no business, no charity can survive without extra oomph.  That old ferry boat divides us from access to all the instant supports you mainlanders take for granted.  Every one of us has to work that bit harder, that bit longer, our wits and ideas our lifelines.  Tourists come in the Summer months, in the main, although a friendly Autumn or Spring can bring stout-footed walkers and hikers, lycra-clad cyclists to pump their calves into balloons as they rise and descend our endless hills and valleys, eagle-nest watchers and so on.

So, the work we think about all winter long is distilled into a powerful action once the snowdrops begin to show and what should pass for Spring (but forgot this year) lifts the sun a centimetre or two higher in our skies, to illuminate the snow patches, many of which have only just thawed.

One of these worthy and high-profile attractions is our theatre and arts centre, Comar.  I remember, and many of you will too, watching excellent theatre in the barn in this village, where the idea was birthed and delivered to the world.  The Smallest Theatre In The World.  It attracted thousands of thespians and the excellence of this theatre spread far and wide.

Nowadays, it is bigger business, grown from that tiny seed and tended and loved and fed and watered by those whose passion for theatre, music, dance and art led them to invest themselves completely in its development.  Today, amongst its ranks, chaos reigns.  It seems that some now consider it not an island thing anymore and, in their eagerness to make money, have removed the control of it from the very hands, the talented and caring hands of two men whose life revolved around little else, such is their passion.  Being made redundant is not fun for anyone, but on an island it is tough indeed.  Jobs are few and there are many more months without visitors than with.

I am not able, nor willing to state accurate facts about this situation, but the press is doing a good job thus far.  You can read it for yourselves.

http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heraldscotland.com%2Fnews%2F13521125.Equity_calls_for_board_of_Mull_arts_company_to_resign_en_masse%2F%3Fref%3Dtwtrec&h=DAQExViOo&s=1

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-33728339

What I can do is stand beside these island folk, and I am and I will.  Too often we overthink ourselves into stillness, watching precious moments pass us by because we feel the fear of challenging the bully and we logic ourselves back home where life is safe enough, where we can pretend everything is okay.

Theatre and art and music and dance are quite without logic, and all about emotion, about passion, about the red blood of who we are. The island is like no other place.

Once, in a Blue Moon, we must stand and be counted.