Privacy

Its an emotive subject which causes rifts in relationships. Many people post their whole life online and don’t understand others who refuse to join any social media networks. I have friends who will never join Facebook or Instagram and now it seems they may have protected themselves more than people like me who freely joined various sites.

If you refuse to have your photo taken for a post or to allow people to film or photograph your home it can cause a problem. If you don’t explain your reasons then people can be offended but I wonder if they stopped for just a moment and thought about it would things be different?

We can all make mistakes with privacy. I am inquisitive, its part of my job to ask questions and to dig deep, sometimes the boundary between work and social conversations blur. I may ask a question and as its coming out of my mouth I feel it may be too personal so I try to catch myself and say ‘you don’t have to answer that’. When I don’t realise I have overstepped the line, someone may say ‘I can’t answer that’ I realise I have hit a boundary and I don’t probe further.

Recently I had to request privacy without offering an explanation and it has caused outrage in someone I like. I have no intention of explaining myself and I simply said ‘NO’. This is unusual behaviour for me, I always try to say yes, and in the cases where I have to say no, I find a million reasons to explain it.

Sometimes though, No means NO.

privacy

What are the reasons that someone may need privacy? Well, it could be avoidance of a stalker, or  fear of an abusive relationship you escaped some time ago, or …. There are lots of reasons and they are, yes you got it, they are private.  It really doesn’t matter what the reason is, we need to better respect others’ privacy.

 

So, when someone requests privacy, just say YES!

 

Mental health

As a child I was happy, I lived in the countryside and had a huge cow to play with. She was our dairy cow and lived in the front garden of my grandparents home in Ireland. I climbed on her, made daisy chains to go around her neck and sometimes spent hours staring into her giant watery eyes. I loved her but never named her. She knew all of my secrets, hopes, wishes and desires.

One day a neighbour came to pick me and my brother up from school. We jumped on the back of a hay cart, it was a glorious day and I lay down to watch the sky as the horse trundled along. It is the most exciting thing that I can remember from those early days but I don’t remember anything else until I arrived in London.

We moved into a tiny house in a tiny road which was near to a graveyard and a railway station. I hated walking under the railway bridge which was dark, dank and noisy. I was scared by the greyness of my new home. Everything was grey, the roads, the walkways, the bridge the houses and even the people seemed to be grey.

I was used to bright greens hundreds of shades of green and blue, dark brown bogs with bright coloured flowers, white houses surrounded by apple trees and rows of vegetables. Skies seemed to go on forever and fields surrounded us.

In London, when I looked out I saw houses, more houses and the graveyard!

I realise now that as a child I was depressed. That depression lifted when I wrote songs or stories or when I chatted with family. I had no friends, I was weird, my clothes were weird, I spoke with a weird accent and I didn’t fit in. It took me several years to make friends and eventually when I moved to a new school I made lifelong friends.

Today I am feeling sad. I wondered if I was depressed but then I realised that today would have been my fathers 83rd birthday. He died when he was 59 so I have been without him for a very long time. I cannot imagine him as 80+ I have no idea how he would look or sound because no man in his family, that I know of, lived that long.

Mental health has been in the media extensively this week and I am so sad that anyone would feel so bad that they could not go on. My heart goes out to all of those people, their families and friends. Today my mental health is a notch lower than usual, but thankfully its still intact and that is because of my husband, friends and family. I am lucky.

 

Tradition and the Baubles

What is it about Christmas that brings out a need to follow tradition? Even the most resolute atheist seems to find time to celebrate in some way over the Christmas holiday. Republicans manage to watch the Queen’s speech. People buy, wrap and give presents to other people who have little need for anything. Trees are bought in their thousands, decorated and then recycled in January. Gardens are decked with lights and windows glisten with fake snow.

In my family, tradition was not something we were big on. Christmas was an adult time and, as a child, it meant hours of boredom. No shops, cinemas, cafes and not even a bus to help me escape. My parents, their siblings and friends all smoked so I would spend much of the day in my bedroom where I could hide from the ‘Senior Service’ fug.  Luckily I loved to read so I have good memories of escaping into winter wonderlands and other magical places.

Later, when I was a teenager, my best friend would get a member of her family or later her boyfriend to drive over to pick me up at about 5pm on Christmas Day. She would spend a few minutes with my parents and then she would whisk me off to a house full of her relatives and friends. There was always a  huge Christmas tree where people would gather around to sing carols or the latest Christmas song.  There were lots of traditions in her family, charades, musical chairs, pass the orange and other games played by everyone and it was fun to see a 70 year old try to pass an orange to a six year old.  Sometimes the teenagers would gather in a separate room to watch a disaster movie or just sit around chatting and listening to music. I often stayed and helped out on Boxing Day and sometimes the day after. Eventually, I would return home to my own family. As I write this I realise that it sounds odd that I was adopted by my friend’s family for Christmas.  They were fun, really good fun. I loved those large, noisy family oriented Christmases.

Now its me and my husband and we are creating our own traditions. We do things that matter to us. My sister seems to have slipped into a tradition of visiting the  weekend before Christmas with her husband and we see our brother. Christmas Eve is a chance to see one of my best friends who’s birthday falls that day. We meet with her family, have lunch and then go to a Panto or one year a circus. John couldn’t make it this year, but I did and I had a ball. Christmas Day we often spend with John’s sister and family and this year it was about walking, talking and eating. We play some games and then we do our own thing in the evening. Boxing Day is for relaxing, walking and going to an event, so this year it was Kew Gardens. We try to see John’s cousins and their children and this year John and his sister went to the Panto with them whilst our nephew made great Pizzas for a family dinner. I love the ballet and Coppelia did not disappoint.

One tradition that John and I practice together is the dressing of the tree. Every year we have moments of joy when we open a box and find something we bought on a particular holiday or received as a gift. Most of the baubles have been picked up over a 20 year relationship and its as if they have their own personalities. A couple of weeks ago a friend set a writing exercise and three of the group picked a conversation between two Christmas decorations. I include it below even though my husband thinks I have gone just a little bit bonkers!

A short story – The Baubles

In a sparking dress and holding a golden box, the Princess arrives on the tree. ‘Hello everyone, I am so very glad to be joining you all today.’

From somewhere to her left a boat with dubious lights pipes up, ‘Oi, big mouth, we stay silent during the day. We only speak after midnight or when the whole family go to sleep. Now shut up and sparkle.’

‘Well hello Captain, how long have you been here?’ Princess looks around hoping for a response.

Silence….

At midnight the Captain speaks ‘I am the 2nd longest serving and I defer to Santa who met Missy when she was only a child.’

‘Well, you took your time getting back to me. When you say defer, what exactly do you mean?’ Princess looks bemused and the Captain chuckles.

‘Santa is the boss on this tree and I am his right hand man. The Angels come next, brought back from Venice for Missy’s mum but they arrived here after Missy’s mum passed on. Then there’s Harrods, he was one of Missy’s extravagances. Lovely old deer, fat as you like can only lie down on the branch, too old to hang there.’ 

Princess looks around the tree, ‘Hello Santa, Hello Angels, Hello Harrods. Lovely to meet you all. I am sure we are going to get on wonderfully!’ 

The Captain continues, ‘Then there’s Balls – big fellas, came in about three years ago. Large as you like and pretty dumb but Missy was going through a white phase. Oh, and over there we have two Skipping Deer, they flew in on her wedding day. Lovely pair mad as hatters, don’t really speak to anyone and spend most the year in their own little box. We have one or two old and fragile chaps from Mister’s family tree, they’re hanging on by a thread!’

Princess is beside herself with joy, ‘Ooh, hello all, I am so excited to share the tree with you and look forward to having some fun when we go on our holidays together in the attic.’

The Captain notices a light going on, ‘hush up now everyone, Missy alert, silent rule!’ 

Missy turns the lights on, sits in a comfy armchair and drinks a mug of hot chocolate looking at the tree. She gets up, walks over to the tree, flicks one of the branches and an Angel  jingles. Missy sighs, turns the lights off and leaves the room. 

The Captain swings around to Princess, ‘Missy must be thinking about her mum. Her mum loved to hear the Angels jingle.’

Princess smiles and offers her box to the Captain. ‘Captain, you haven’t told me your story.’ 

‘Well now child, I am a little bit special because I am loved by Missy but I am Mister’s favourite. Mister gave me to Missy on their honeymoon many years ago. Mister always has glistening eyes when he puts me on the tree.’  The Captain is silent for a moment as he thinks back to the day he left Virgin Gorda.  ‘Its like this Princess, our job is a special one, for we are the memory makers!’

The End

Version 2Traditions matter to me and Christmas is a special time where I can indulge in some of the simplest but most enjoyable. I hope you are having a good holiday and would love to hear some of your stories.

Oh and Mister and Missy wish you a Happy New Year!

 

Watercolour joy

‘I can’t draw!’ Its something I say all the time.

I want to draw and am inspired by drawings. My work would be enhanced by my ability to draw; for example, I would like to illustrate one of my management books. My hobbies would be simpler if I could draw patterns for quilting or sewing and I would like to draw Christmas cards or notelets.

I was ejected from art class at school when I was about 11. I don’t remember being naughty I was just incapable of drawing or painting and that was enough to have me thrown out for ever!

Not long ago, I started a cartooning course which clearly said ‘no experience necessary’ but after two submissions I was thrown out because I couldn’t draw! Of course I couldn’t draw, I never could and the course requirements didn’t say that you needed to be able to draw. Frustration overflowed and my cartooning career stopped before it started.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first watercolour course with an amazing tutor. It was hard going for the first hour or so; she made us draw the same thing four times, once with my right hand, once standing, once with my left hand and once drawing the item upside down. As we worked through the exercises I was rehearsing how to tell the tutor I wanted to leave the workshop. I wanted to give in and repeat my mantra of: ‘I can’t draw.’

As I looked at my drawings I realised that my best result was achieved by drawing with the wrong hand. I tried it again and then again and later the tutor introduced us to the paints and we only used two colours and as I was painting something in me clicked. It was like a switch clicking in my heart and I wanted to stay and see it through. I can’t really explain the emotion in words,

I made a decision to  commit to finishing the day: however bad things got; some of it was pretty bad!

So, what did I manage to achieve?

 

 

So, I am learning to draw, I am not good but if I use the ‘wrong’ hand I can draw and it seems that I may even be able to paint!

 

Brexit! Elections! Jo Swinson

So the deed is done! Brexit will happen now and it seems that a significant number of people want this. The thing I struggle with is trying to understand what it is they actually want. What is it that they think Brexit will bring to the country? After fighting hard to build a united Europe how will the UK be better off separated from our allies? I just don’t get it, but it’s too late for all of that now.

What is democracy?

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

“a system of parliamentary democracy” control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.

“the intended extension of industrial democracy”

Many of my ‘Remainer’ friends are now posting about proportional representation and how that would be better for the country.  Well, it is easy to blame the system when the votes don’t go your way.  The fact is that given a choice people did not vote to remain. Even the most ardent of Remainers decided to vote for Labour even though Labour did not have a clear mandate to remain in the European Union.

In various conversations I was intrigued about why this might be the case and asked a few friends to explain their rationale. Some said they decided that the Lib Dems were no longer acceptable because they would revoke article 50. Their argument being that a large number of people voted to leave so we must have a second referendum. I found myself thinking and possibly saying, hang on a minute, if you want to remain then why not vote for the only party that has it at the centre of its manifesto? The responses were various.

This election has made me think about many things and I want to share just a few about Jo Swinson.

  1. As the leader of a major party she deserves some credit, her message was clear and unequivocal. When pushed to vote, people just didn’t go for it and maybe in the moment of truth, x on a paper, people didn’t want it enough to vote for her.
  2. We have ended up with a significant conservative majority and they will be in power for the next 5 years. We are leaving Europe, no more equivocation about it!
  3. Female leaders always bring out the worst in mainstream media. I have heard so much bollocks about Jo Swinson, her age, her ambition (being too aggressive – have you seen and heard BoJo?) her clothes, and it pisses me off!
  4. Its really quite simple: she tried really hard to be heard in this election and for the UK to Remain in the EU; she failed. It took courage to step up in the way she did and she stood for something that matters to a great many people. 
  5. Jo Swinson will continue to have a good career in whatever she chooses to do but it wont be the House of Commons anytime soon. She has experienced the worst type of learning experience, failure, and hopefully she will come back stronger.

Well it more than met my expectations

John and I waited in line for a good half hour last week to see the Tutankhamun exhibition. It did not disappoint. Someone told me it was well curated and indeed it is. Its a magical experience for anyone who loves all things Egyptian. Just behind us a woman regaled her children and grand children about her experiences of seeing the exhibition in 1972. The children were really interested in how much gold she had seen and in hearing about the mask. Luckily the queues were shorter this time.

I don’t have a particular item I liked more than others I loved it all and the Saatchi gallery also excelled; the staff were exceptional. they were proud of the exhibition, proud to talk about the number of artefacts, proud to be able to see the exhibition when no visitors are  inside and proud that the exhibition is attracting so much attention.

I loved my visit and hope to one day make the trip to see the entire exhibition in the new Gallery in Cairo.

Tutankhamun

I’m so excited!

We have tickets to see the Saatchi exhibition tomorrow. I’ve had them since the exhibition was announced and now its nearly time to go. People tell me different things about their experiences and I listen, but in my own mind I am back in the Valley of the Kings experiencing the excitement of entering tombs for the first time. I cannot wait to see the artefacts again!

1972

xTutankhamun-queue.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Xl34j-giR7

In 1972, both John and I queued in the lines of children to see the treasures of Egypt. No doubt he waited patiently and I less so. I do remember making friends with other children who were opposite me in the snake like lines. We don’t remember the exact dates and who knows we might both have been in the same queue. John still has a brochure, I only have memories. The exhibition was crowded and I saw a fraction of the main artefacts but it was enough to ignite a fascination of all things Egyptian.

Tomorrow we will see the exhibition together. This might not sound significant but this year John has been unwell and after three operations and several months of healing we now know he will have a fourth operation in two weeks. Being able to go to an exhibition together, and one that means so much to both of us, matters a great deal. I feel like a child on the eve of Christmas.

I will post about the exhibition again next week.