Monday, 24 January 2011

"The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have."

It's true isn't it - almost as cliched as if you smile the world seems better and then it is better.

But they are both so true. We spend so much of our lives moaning about what we haven't got that we miss all the lovely things that we do have.

One of the great beauties of life is that we are all different, that there is so much variety, but we all try to conform to the same clone at some point in our life. That we aren't married, with 2.4 children, a house and a car and blah blah blah then somehow we have failed.

Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same.

Money is useful - essential, sadly, but no matter how much we have (or don't have) we seem to live within our means.

I long for more money so I don't have to be skint two weeks after pay day - but to have more money I would have to trade off some of my own time and no doubt I would still just live within my means again.

I do my best in my job but I don't live to work - I need things beside my job.

I count friends and think I am failing somewhere as I don't have as many 'friends' as such and such. I need to learn to shut up on that one as it makes me sound so ungrateful for the wonderful friends I do have.

I tell myself off sometimes for not living the party life I used to but hey I think they just call it growing up and evolving.

Today I am going to try to learn to work with what I have - rather than forever judging myself....and that way I will become truely rich!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

It'll be story time again then!

I asked some friends to give me topics to write about, one friend said I should write a story about how the weather is always grey and people are depressed and only get one day a year where it's nice.

So I quickly wrote this.....

‘RARRRRRR That’s it. That’s bloody it!’ roared down the stairs, round the corner, over the cooker and bang into the ears of Loral. She jumped up, dropping the pan on the floor and hitting her head all at the same time.

‘Shhh….t’ she mumbled rubbing her head as she stood up. ‘What the hell is the matter Jamie?’ she called out to her sister.

‘My nails! It’s my nails. I’ve spent hours and they just keep flaking. I can’t cope. Look at me I am as grey as a squirrel….obviously not the red ones before you start…..I am sick of waiting around all the time for this damn weather to give up and to see a season…any season would be nice, I’m just so……..oh Loral you’ve dropped your cooking! That’s careless.’ Jamie chirped as she skipped off back out the room.

She knew it was her fault but couldn’t face another lecture by Loral.

Loral on the other hand looked at her sister with exhaustion. It was the same for all of them but Jamie always had to be so vocal about it. The girl had one volume setting. Off and on! Nothing in-between.

Loral peered out of the window. Another grey miserable day. This was day number 289 of the same thing. She wondered what all the weather forecasters did these days. You could set your watch by the weather now. At 315am it would start to rain. There’d be a mild break at about 9am and then it would drizzle until 5pm then there’d be cold wind picking up until about 3am again. Grey was the colour of the land these days. Gone were the lovely autumnal colours splashed across the skies and the pavements with what now seemed like such reckless abandon. So much use of colour all in one go. How they’d taken it for granted once. Now it seemed like heaven to think about it. To wish for sunshine and a clear blue sky. Still another 24 hours to go until they would get that.

Day 290 was now a public holiday. The whole world and their dog would be outside. Just being! Soaking up the sun, seeing spring appear for an hour, turning into glorious sun for the next 12 hours then autumn would seem to happen overnight. They had 24 hours of daylight on day 290. Day 291 would be the fading embers of the autumn night. Like the last sparks on a campfire slowly fading out, taking with it the sing song sounds of a campfire, or day out on the beach. By day 292 it would be back to grey. Like a colour blind world.

It never used to be like this. So Loral had heard. She’d seen the photos in her mothers top drawer, but it was always spoken about in hushed tones, like some dirty secret. The way the world was once. All taken for granted, and now? Well now it seemed to be that someone was punishing them for this.

They wouldn’t take it for granted again that was for sure. In reality it had only been like this for 4 years but it felt like a lifetime.

Loral longed for, even dreamed about waking up to feel the sun pouring through the windows.

A blue sky! Fresh green grass! Things that were once so simple.

Jamie was upstairs stamping about making so much noise that Loral gave up trying to daydream.

Loral scooped the (grey looking) porridge into the saucepan and chucked it into the sink. She hadn’t the energy to start again.

There was a knock at the door. The postman!

He handed her the post silently and walked away.

Loral heard the rattle and clunk of the milkman’s float and hovered at the door to collect the 2 pints they got every day. The milkman handed them over ‘Hello’ he mumbled and walked off without even cracking half a smile.

Loral sighed. Depressed! That was the word to sum up everything these days.

On queue Jamie hurtled down the stairs landing on the sofa with a huge explosion of air. Possibly her, possibly the chair….

‘Argh I just hate everything.’

‘Well hello to you too’

‘Oh p.iss off why don’t you’

‘Sadly it’s raining out so I don’t really have anywhere to off to but thanks all the same.’

‘Ok Loral I am sorry, I know we’re all the same I am just sick of it, I’m craving smiles like a junkie.’

Loral shook her head – she had no clue how to cheer her sister up. She used to paint pictures of sunshine, rainbows, babbling brooks all sorts of lovely things that well, you just couldn’t enjoy anymore.

If you went out you couldn’t wear floaty dresses, you had to wear big waterproof coats and trousers. So much rain would collect that cars didn’t care about trying not to splash you, well hold on, maybe that thing had stayed the same.

Come on day 290. To feel the sun on their skin was what they all lived for.

And soon. Soon it would be here.

But not soon enough for some.

Over the road lived Rory, she was a quiet girl, alone in her world of colour. Yes that’s right. She seemed to be the one rainbow amongst the grey storm clouds of everyone else. She wore big bright rainbow frocks. Not caring if she got wet. She had lovely glittery wellington boots and an umbrella that lit up with little rainbow effect lights. Her hair was naturally bright red and she always had some wonderful coloured pieces of fabric in it. Her nails were painted an array of colours and quite often she was clutching flowers and a book that she would cover and draw all over, colouring it in a wonderful selection of bright clashing shades. She was always smiling. Always singing a tune to herself.

The neighbourhood looked at her with a mixture of fear and envy.

Nothing seemed to get this girl down.

‘Hello sky! Hello tree. Hello worm. Hello rain. HELLO LORAL.’ She bellowed out – giving Loral an elaborate wave. Loral couldn’t help but smile. Where did Rory get her energy from. This weather just made you constantly lethargic but there she was, a big grin from ear to ear for anyone or anything that crossed her path.

Loral had been told that Rory was a few hampers short of a picnic but honestly if it made her that happy who cared!

Thing is Rory wasn’t simple, she just believed in looking on the bright side and looking on the bright side meant her world was always in Technicolor.

She also knew that day 290 that was coming tomorrow was going to mark the change of the weather, not just for the day but for always. Her father had been playing about at his weather station in the attic 4 years ago – trying to work out how to paint the perfect sky and to create the perfect beach so you could control the weather for the week day and weekends. He’d been using ridiculous chemicals, weird symbols and a bit dollop of electricity. It had gone wrong and the less said about it the better. The town had been suffering for 4 long years but the effects were about to wear off.

She hadn’t told anyone as no one had really spoken to her since it had become common knowledge that it was her fathers fault that the ‘world was like this. See it wasn’t the world at all, it was just this little town. Like a black cloud hanging over this little town. If people had bothered to look just beyond the borders of Cranely Village they would see that the rest of the world was carrying on as normal. The lack of seasons had just zapped them of any free thinking, any creativity or anything half fun. There was a lesson learnt there in itself…..never moan about the weather again!

Day 290 was almost here. You could feel the sun crackling over the horizon, spreading out, getting bigger and bigger by the minute. The sky changing from grey to beautiful shades of pink, orange and yellow. Hitting the water and making it look like there were stars right here on earth. You could feel the mood of the town lift, the birds were starting to sing, and the flowers were spreading out their petals to greedily eat up every bit of sun they could.

Rory smiled again at Loral, she winked and said ‘Everything is going to be alright from now on Loral, just you believe it and it’ll be so.’

Loral looked at Rory quizzically, she had never really spoken to her, but maybe it was the sunshine giving her courage. She raced over the road. ‘That’s an interesting thing you say their Rory, and I do hope you are right….say, I don’t think I’ve heard you talk before….?’

Rory smiled, ‘Oh it’s nothing Loral, just think I was feeling a little under the weather that’s all…………..’

The beauty of the unspoken word

Sometimes I forget to say things out loud. I forget that I am sitting with people and not actually saying the things I am thinking out loud. I don’t know if that’s good or bad as sometimes when I do say the things I am thinking out loud the looks I get make me burst out laughing.

Maybe that is why I am sitting under this tree, alone, except for my apple, a daisy chain I made about 5 minutes ago but already don’t recall making and my book.

I always have my book.

It doesn’t even really matter which book, I just have to have a book. It makes me feel comforted to feel it juggling about in my bag as I head off anywhere.

Well you never know when you will find the prefect tree to take a break under.

Or when the situation you are in will get boring and you have the book to rescue you.

Or when you hear a great conversation and you can hide behind your book pretending to read and really just sit and listen in. I’ve done that once, almost got caught out when the book I was holding was upside down. It’s hard to look cool in a moment of realisation like that. I think my stupid smile deflected the attention.

I’ve been thinking about all sorts today. What colour I should do my hair next. What trainers could I wear that would go with vintage dresses to take away the doll like look. What barrettes do I not already own as it’s nice to have little treats to make you feel better and it’s better to buy barrettes than yet more candy. I’ve eaten my way through a whole packet of jelly beans. I think I only tasted about 2. I shouldn’t have washed them all down with coffee either, the taste in my mouth is not pleasant.

Why is that man staring at me? He looks like he’s in a trance. I wonder what he’s thinking? Who is he? Why is he staring at me? I’ve waved to him but he’s not broken his stare. It’s not cute anymore. Now it’s freaking me out. I feel like I should leave but at the same time, this is my tree, this is my spot, this is my time. Stupid humans.

The man seems to be drawing me. I guess that is kindof cool. I’d do that too if I could only draw. A sort of picture diary of the things that I notice in the day. I carry a notepad around for such things but I always end up just taking a picture or just a mental snapshot and going on my way. I hate how when you take a photo people all around you stop and stare at what you were looking at. It’s my vision – find your own!!!!!

Now I wish I was a bird – soaring around in the skies, spending my down time in the trees. I don’t really fancy eating worms though, hang that I think I’d rather just be a cloud then. Just floating about, making different shapes, travelling the world. I mean they do travel the world don’t they – changing and forming into different shapes like secret spies or something. They are not all new clouds are they? Or are they use once and destroy type things? They rain once then they are gone?

I am really wanting to see the drawing the man has done of me but I might be insulted so I think it’s best to just go back to reading my book. I’ve proven that I am no good with people so what is the point in even trying to make conversation with him. To be sat in a park on his own, drawing strangers probably says he’s as inept at me at all this making friends and being sociable stuff.

Anyway – I can see my bus is about to leave across the road, I’ve now got to run again to catch it. I hope I don’t lose a barrette again. I am sure that my mark on this world will be just to leave a trail of plastic brightly coloured hair slides everywhere I go.

A message in pictures

We've all been here and done this sort of thing - but wouldn't it be lovely if we could all stop this sort of thing and realise it's more than just what someone looks like!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

It's with some sadness.......

That I found out Major Winters passed from this world on 2nd January 2011.  He never got the honors he deserved in this lifetime.

I wrote a blog piece about him a while ago for anyone that is interested click here.

Dick Winters with Damian Lewis who played him in Band of Brothers.


RARRRRRRRR like a little dinosaur

So…..there’s a new government in town in the UK, and oh dear god!!!!

That sums up my thoughts in a sentence.

Here’s my thoughts in general………the country had hit a bit of a sticky patch with it’s finances, for that I will agree. Most of this sticky patch was caused by the banks ridiculous disregard for the power of money and how to use it and what it should be spent on. They royally messed up and left ‘the people’ to pay for it. How did they thank the average Jo, yes that’s right – they didn’t pay back any of what they had borrowed – they decided to give themselves huge bonuses. Um, how come? You normally get a bonus for doing well and doing your job exceptionally – they blatantly didn’t do that – no one can dispute that, so what was going on there? Oh yes, that would appear that the banks rule the country because the Government seems too scared to put their foot down with the ridiculous behaviour of the bankers. Oh yes they did do something, raised all the taxes for the average Jo and gave the banks tax cuts.

Ever feel like you are being laughed at people? Not just laughed at but put up against a wall and peed on whilst being laughed at?!!!

So lets look at what other gems seem to be going on in this Conservative government. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it’s a coalition……….it’s a conservative government. Just that word ‘conservative’ is nasty in my book. But I digress.

The country is just pulling itself out of recession so the government has decided to raise taxes and hugely cut funding. This means job losses or cut in hours for many. So less income. The raise in taxes means everything costs more. Some shops are not just passing on the tax increase they are doubling it and passing on double the charge. So way less money in your pocket. Then the gas, electric and water companies are charging through the nose, making huge profits but putting up their services. The water company is losing loads through leaks but rather than put the money into fixing those leaks they are awarding themselves bonuses and huge wages to the higher up and then telling the average Jo that they need to put up the charges so they can do the repairs.

Can I hear laughter again?!?!?!!? It’s not a funny joke though is it!

Benefits are being cut. But it would appear that those fleecing the system are still getting away with it on the whole and it’s people that really deserve it that are not getting all that they are entitled to.

In north London the rents are beyond ridiculous – people can’t afford to buy anymore so what can you do! Live on the streets? Well, that might not be a joke for much longer for some.

Closed bids are being accepted by landlords. Hello! Is this not illegal? Why yes sir I think it is! What is being done about it? Oh yes, nothing! But then a lot of MP’s live in the North London suburbs so I guess it suits them if they can turn North London into an elitist snob fest.

Now the country has huge debts, much of this money that has been spent is public money – the money of the average Jo, but the average Jo has no say in how this money is spent. Government makes some dumb ass decisions but never mind the average Jo will legally forced to pay for it.

Now let’s put this another way. If your boss pays you for your work and then says exactly how you have to spend it and a lot of it is on things you don’t like, are not interested in or strongly disagree with, the rest he will not tell you about or how much it’s really costing. Well, no one would stand for that would they?

The future looks like it’s going to drive the poor into absolute squalor. I keep hearing that the rich are being made to pay the most – but sorry a higher tax for them isn’t as crippling as a higher tax on someone that has practically nothing. Remember it’s not just that 2.5% rise it’s all the other stuff that is going up on top. So that’s a tax hike for the average Jo and a tax break for the bankers that are majorly to blame for a lot of the debt…..oh and big bonuses for them when a lot of people are having their pay frozen for another year.

My bus fare alone this month has gone up by £5 a month – when you put that into a percentage increase it’s just wrong. To go from Archway tube to the west end and back cost me £4.60 yesterday. The distance travelled probably wasn’t even 5 miles. What other city charges so much for a tube service, that is dirty, smelly and keeps breaking down? I think the answer is none.

This country is turning into a bit of a nightmare featuring the face of David Cameron – that makes me shudder.

Many people feel the answer is to move away. How sad is that, that people feel they can no longer live in their own country to have a good life. Sounds almost third world really doesn’t it.

I could go on, but I think you are getting the picture I am painting and I’d rather start a new canvas please.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The simple things in life.....

This weekend has been so good - so simple but so much happiness.

I had take out with D on Friday.  No washing up, no cooking and I didn't even have to go and get it - result!

Then the postman delivered 3 boxsets of my secret pleasure........Gilmore Girls. 

I grew up in a small town but sadly not as cool as Stars Hollow.  If only I had.  So Saturday I ran around doing my chores, even taking two massive bags of clothes to the charity shop, see a good deed, I did a pilates workout and then settled down and watched an embarrassingly large amount of Season 1 of said dvd.  As the night wore on D and I went to the cinema to see 127 hours.  I managed to keep my eyes on the screen the whole time, even when he appears to put his hand inside his own arm.  For those who don't know what 127 hours is, it is a film based on a true story.  A climber whose world revolved around him.  He went off climbing, not telling a soul where he was going, and he slipped.  He fell down a crevise, and his hand was trapped.  6 days of trying to break out and alone with just his thoughts and a small amount of water and food that did run out, he realises the error of his ways, realises the important people in his life and the things he has done wrong.  He cuts his arm off.  It takes him 45 minutes.  I cannot even imagine how that must feel, what he must've gone through but thankfully he was rescued and lived to change his bad ways.  It's a lesson we could all do with learning but alas many of us never do.  And I'd rather learn without having to cut my arm off thankyou.

Sunday D and I went into central London to have a long slow chilled out sunday lunch with our friends Patrick and Sophie.  Then back home to watch more Gilmore Girls.

Such simple fun, pure and refined and just perfect.  No pressure, no performance.  Just nice.

I wish every weekend could be just like it.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

In a silent world nobody can hear your screams

She looked over at them, slight concern on her face. They would never understand. They had never even tried to. She’d thought about writing some sort of letter to them to try to help them understand but stubbornness had set in. If they couldn’t be bothered to make an effort with her, why should she with them?!

Her friends had told her off about this attitude before. It only takes one to make the first move, but they didn’t understand. She was too paralysed to take those first steps.

To the world around her, her world – the one she knew so well, she was deemed a chatter box. No one could understand that she was insecure about her conversational skills, that if anyone didn’t seem to like her she thought it had to be down to that. It just made the problem worse.

So today, she thinks she doesn’t speak much and her friends think she is a chatterbox. Once upon a time she thought she was a chatterbox, so just how chatty must she have been then!??!?! Sometimes she chases that girls. Sometimes she knows she has gone and she almost mourns her. Sometimes she’s happy that the girl she once was has gone.

Most days she just feels a sensation of being unhappy gently tugging at her sleeve. Never hard enough to cause an huge issue but just enough for her to know it’s still there, always following her. Her one companion. With one message. ‘You’re not good enough.’

She was so frustrated by this. She’d researched online and read so many books about confidence and public speaking and making friends, but alas one or two things would make her nod her head but most of it never really got to the crux of the problem.

She wasn’t egotistical enough to think this problem was unique to her. Or that confident people weren’t sometimes paddling like mad under water but appearing to be a swan on the surface. She wouldn’t even mind that, but how can you even pretend and fake it so well? How do you pretend to have loads to say? Either you do or you don’t.

Sometimes she’d sit on the tube and listen to the chatter around her. She’d tune in to the conversation of someone that was really chatty and quite often would sit back after a few minutes and yawn. They’d normally be talking about a right load of self indulgent bollocks.

Despite her confidence or lack of, she’d always rather not talk than just talk shite. If you are going to say something wait until it was interesting…..maybe that was the point – every moment she was expecting a star turn from her mouth.

She sighed. This wasn’t getting any easier. She thought it would with age. Everything just didn’t seem good enough. Not enough friends. Not enough money. Not a big enough house. Not enough hobbies. Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Hair not nice enough. Clothes too boring. Conversation so dull.

These thoughts would only trigger worse thoughts and before she knew it she'd built an invisible gag wrapped so tightly around her mouth that it felt like it was never going to be removed. That nothing on this planet was tough enough to remove something that had been woven so finally for so long.

What could she do?

She didn’t know how to just ignore it until she didn’t think about it anymore.

She didn’t know how to force herself into things and out of her comfort zone because she would become paralysed.

She couldn’t go to see someone about it as she didn’t feel she was important enough or that her troubles were important enough.

She didn't feel able to just get over it.

What could she do? Who could she talk to? Maybe she should’ve written them that letter after all.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Some kind of love letter

Once upon a time I didn’t really pick and choose who was in my life too much – that has interesting consequences – sometimes it means you make friends with great people that you would never have happened upon if you were sticking to ‘your kind’ sometimes you invest in the wrong people – but it’s all good as long as you remember to learn from it.

These days I might even have gone to the other extreme and I am really really careful about who I let in my life. Of course this can still have bad consequences as I could be a really crap judge of character….but I don’t think so.

At work I feel like I am playing out another side of myself – always aware that someone is paying for me to be there and to behave a certain way. This doesn’t seem to be met with approval by everyone. It’s funny how once I started to moan about a few things I seemed to become more human to some of my colleagues. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s more a dig at human nature than anything. We bond over bitching about someone or something else. Bit odd really isn’t it. Life to me is too short to bother, if I don’t get good vibes from someone I just have them in my life as little as possible. If I feel uncomfortable I try to listen to that. I try to work on my insecurities and just let others be. Sometimes I think too much time is wasted getting wound up about things that really don’t matter. This can make me look too laid back or weak……..both of those thoughts would be quite a mistake. If people can’t be bothered to scratch the surface these days, then I can’t be bothered full stop. Does that sound harsh? It’s not meant to. I don’t want to give all of myself away with one look at me, with one conversation with me. That would make Jack a very dull girl ay! There’s a couple of characters at work that I think will become friends over time and that is good enough for me.

I suddenly realised it’s ok for the whole world not to like me.

I don’t like the whole world so it’s only fair really isn’t it.

I have felt let down by some friends – especially whilst I was at the height of being ill, but thankfully, I am finally starting to let that slide, to realise that people come and go.

It’s more important to be comfortable with yourself – be a good person and you will gravitate towards the right people.

How long have I spent beating myself up over my quiet and calm social life, my small group of friends. To the point that I sometimes worried I was starting to sound ungrateful. Instead I should be celebrating the people in my life and realise that there are many others to meet out there, and I will meet them, when the time is right. In the meantime I want to focus on the handful of people in my life now. It is a huge honour to them that I have let them in and kept them there.

I won’t name each of you individually as I risk missing someone out and it’s not my intentions to hurt anyone so…….I have a group of about 10 friends that I consider to be there for life, through thick and thin……and that’s not bad going. That’s about 10 people that I can tell anything to and know that I will not be judged. Yes, I may get laughed at, but in a nice way. There is huge comfort in that. And those people are worth so much more than 500 acquaintances.

Check out people’s facebook. Do they really know 900 people? Um no! And if they do – then how many are real friends? How good a friend are you being if you have to spread yourself so thin? It’s just a thought.

D and me might appear an unlikely couple to some, but we’re almost 4 years in. We’ve had our ups and downs and our heartaches. We’ve been through a lot and no doubt have a lot more to go through. We work. We click. We get each other, warts and all. We drive each other mad in a good way and in the not so good way. But something works, and generally it works very well and for that I thank myself for being open and I thank D fullstop.

To friends and family that are here with me now, I love you all and thank you.

Now I am off to back some cupcakes…it feels like that kindof day.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

It's 2011 where did that creep up from?

So......the moto, oh get me, THE moto - I should say MY moto for the year then will be............Don't wait for the world to change for you...........change it yourself.'

A lot of us do that don't we, just sit around and moan about things but very few get off their butts and try to change whatever it is that annoys them.

I just had a look on my facebook account and saw so many people I went to school with that are all married and have children.  For a milli second I thought something was wrong with me that I wasn't married yet and didn't have children yet.....whatever Alison - note to self, get over oneself.  Life takes us all on different journeys.....I am trying to apply the brakes and enjoy mine rather than just rushing for the finish post....which I may've been guilty of in the past.

So it's now 2011..........I remembered the Millennium celebrations like it was yesterday, then I realised it's a REALLY long time much has changed?  Well lots, some friends made it through, but I am definitely a different person to that girl - and thank god - not that there was anything wrong with the me of 2000 just I am really glad to still be growing and changing as a person.  In 2000 the celebrations started with some friends coming over to my flat, we cracked open some bottles and had a mini celebration.  We then piled out into the streets and went to a lovely restaurant in the centre of London, we ate to our hearts content and then shouted and whooped our way to the river, ie the Thames for the big spectacular river of fire display that well didn't happen.  Nice one!  The place was full to bursting of people, so many blowing whistles, I thought I had stepped into a football game, and very nearly rammed some whistles down peoples throats.  After a while I gave up trying to find my older brother and his friends and I bid farewell to my group that were content to hang out with zoo of people and watch a river of fire that just wasn't happening.  Sophie and I ran off to a deep dark place in North London called Wood Green.  We went to the house of a musician we knew.  We partied hardy and I think we all ended up getting married in a field that year. 

Anyway - I am going to celebrate yet another night of excessive drinking with no hangover - go me! 

I hope that 2011 is going to be my year............I guess watch this space to find out!!