Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Shh! Don't tell a soul...

Want to hear a secret? Damn right you do! When it comes to other people's business, we have an insatiable curiosity to find out more. Or, as Rudyard Kipling called it in his tale The Elephant's Child, a 'satiable curtiosity. And, if that scrap of other people's business is little known, or somewhat juicy, all the better. Many a friendship has been sealed by a shared confidence or a tantalising piece of gossip.


There are also the people who carry those secrets like an albatross hanging around their neck. Rolf Harris, the disgraced entertainer who was jailed for indecent assault, springs to mind. What a grotesque secret he hauled around for so many years, along with his didgeridoo, his jolly songs and his paintbrush. You imagine, perhaps, that a small part of him was relieved to be found out - if only to shed the rotting albatross.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bottling sunshine

It's hard to believe that the summer holidays are upon us once more. Where did the last term go? In another year, my daughter will have finished primary school - how did that happen? Hardly a day goes by when I don't lament (hand resting on my brow) how my children are growing up too fast. 

Children fishing off a boat
Summer: a time for making memories
As a parent, hemmed in by school timetables, you tend to see the year in a very structured way. Inevitably, the end of the summer term becomes a red, flashing marker for the passing of time.

My children seem to change so fast that I occasionally grieve for the chubby, inarticulate people they once were. In some ways, every day spent is the loss of something intangible. This is compounded by the sense that time is speeding up as I get older (which is possibly a sign of my own mental deterioration rather than any quirk of physics). 


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Lessons from nature

I crossed a country road other day and stumbled into a field brimming with white poppies. It was unexpected and joyful. Just rows and rows of them bobbing in the breeze. Their crumpled, white petals sat like cotton mob-caps upon green heads.


A red poppy amongst white poppies
No wallflower

A little further on, my friend and I spotted a single red poppy, amid a sea of white. The metaphor was irresistible: the one that stood out from the crowd. Further on still, we spotted another red poppy, or another free spirit determined to make its mark.

Last weekend, I spent two days with hundreds of bloggers at the BritMums annual jamboree. It was a seething, bubbling mass of blogger-brains, all trying to fit in and each trying to be different. Perhaps this is the dilemma we all face: how to be part of a community whilst hanging onto our individuality.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bottoms up for self-publishing!

Think of me on Saturday afternoon: I will be standing up in a room full of bloggers and giving a 20-minute presentation on self-publishing. And not just self-publishing, but "How to successfully self-publish". Yikes!

A woman dressed in sparkling dress, holding a megaphone
Get on your glam rags!
©  | Dreamstime.com
And, we not talking about any old bloggers, we're talking about BritMums Live bloggers! This weekend Britain's largest collective of social influencers are gathering en masse in London to hone their blogging and writing skills. Now you see why I need a bit of positive thought energy.

So far my Labrador has heard the presentation fives times and he hasn't laughed once at my jokes (note to self: remove attempt at humour). Tonight, I shall try it out on my husband. I suspect he will be less forgiving than the dog, but at least he might be able to keep his eyes open for the duration of the talk.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A no-brainer

This week I tried something new. I attempted to step inside the right hemisphere of my brain and find my inner peace. Pardon? Yup, you heard correctly. So if you need me, that's where I'll be: connecting with the 'here and now', thinking in pictures and receiving energy streams. And before you dismiss this as a load of codswallop, I heard about it from a brain scientist. So there.


A tree blocking out the sunshine
Turning to the right-side of my brain
Let's backtrack a little. It has been a busy old week. I have been juggling the usual demands of family life with a promotion/sale of my book and preparation for a 45-minute presentation on self-publishing at the BritMums conference later this month. In between cooking supper and packing school bags, I have been padding back and forth to the computer to proof power-point slides and check the latest figures on my book sales.

By mid-week, my brain was firing on all circuits and refusing to switch off at the requisite times. I was completely plugged into my work, but also slightly removed from reality. And despite all the brain chatter, my focus was becoming slightly glazed. Cue neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who gave an influential TED Talk back in 2008 about a stroke she suffered aged 37. (Don't worry, I didn't have a stroke.)

In 1996 Jill suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and over the course of a morning witnessed a deterioration in her self-awareness, speech and motion as the left side of her brain shut down. Despite all the trauma of the stroke, she found the experience of existing solely in the right side of her brain strangely uplifting. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tears at night-time

Review: 
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

My husband had a little cry a few weeks ago. This is not uncommon. He is not one to baulk at public displays of emotion. His wedding speech is legendary. We weren't entirely sure whether he would get through it. I, on the other hand, inhabit the stiff-upper-lip end of the spectrum. It is true that I am thawing with age, but generally speaking I am a dried-eyed kind of girl.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play).jpg
Via Wikipedia
The trigger for my husband's tears was a trip to our local cinema to watch a live link-up of the National Theatre production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We both enjoyed the book by Mark Haddon and had heard good things about the play (it won seven Olivier awards). As we hurried to the cinema, however, we both wondered how on earth you could stage a deeply personal novel set inside the mind of the storyteller: Christopher Boone, an emotionally dissociated teenager.

We were to be proved wrong of course. Using theatre in the round, a minimalist stage design and stylised moves, the play takes you on an emotional journey through Christopher's mind and to the universe beyond.  We enter a world of comic poignancy, where harried parents struggle to cope with their brilliant, autistic son. Equally, Christopher struggles to interact with a local community that fails to understand his limitations. It is a breakdown of empathy on both sides.