A shambles of thoughticles

Today my hands were blue with cold and I wore a heavy winter scarf for the journey to work. Seasons are not real.


I’ve always been pretty good at fading into the background – I have a face that manages to be both politely vaguely familiar and completely unmemorable. It suits my wallflower tendencies. It’s also something that comes in handy on trains where, I’ve discovered, if I don’t move to get my ticket when the ticket inspector comes by, they assume they’ve ticketed me before and don’t bother me. (I am not avoiding buying train tickets – I have a month pass that doesn’t need stamping.) Now, though, I wonder if they’ve seen me often enough that they do recognise me, and know that I’ll have a pass and it’s not worth asking me. A train regular. Can’t decide if I like the idea of being invisible or often visible better. Continue reading

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Of fairies and facebook

During this morning’s walk my dog stopped in front of an elder tree – one of many trees in a plantation that seems to be a mixture of oak, elder, ash and beech. It was marginally larger than the others around it and the only one not to have its trunk cased in plastic. She sniffed it and went to move on to the next one – then abruptly turned back and sat, in the pouring rain, staring at this tree with her head cocked and her tail wagging like it does when she thinks she’s going to get a biscuit.

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Oh Mickey you’re so fine

At the beginning of the year I signed up to the Goodreads reading challenge – basically aiming to read a certain number of books throughout 2015. I signed up less for the challenge and more to get an idea of how many books I actually do get through each year now. I figured ‘at least one a week, easy’, and I was sort of right, but only when the freelancing isn’t kicked into high gear, and when I’m between writings. At the moment the freelancing is in high gear and I’m not between writings and I’m actually feeling guilty for writing this instead of working on something else. When I do settle down to relax of an evening, I gawp at the TV. Goodreads tells me that I’m behind on my challenge and I really don’t like it.

On the upside, though, this sort of not-really-enforced reading break means that I’ve had plenty of time to let the last book I finished percolate for a while, instead of me rushing headlong into the next tale. And that’s been nice, because Mickey – the young protagonist in Paul McVeigh’s fantastic first novel The Good Son – is the kind of character you want to keep around for a while.

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On the flipside

Three weeks and an election later. Sorry. I forget, sometimes, that this blog is how my family keep track of me when I’m being the worst daughter in the world and failing to call them. (You can tell when that happens because I swear more in the entries.)

When I finally did speak to my mum she berated me, mildly, for not doing some sort of update here on the past couple of weeks, which did include a weekend trip to London and catching up with old friends and this fantastically chilled dog called Buzz that lives with one of them and the game-changing workshop with AL Kennedy that means I’ll never be quite so inept at talking in front of an audience again, and the always-emotional London marathon (nothing better than giving jelly babies to people staggering through their 5th hour of running and watching them perk up). And there was another weekend that involved walks and a slightly crap picnic. Continue reading

… basically a Nike advert

There’s this quote that I see repeated, often, on Twitter and Pinterest, which is taken from Amy Poehler’s excellent book Yes Please.

“I believe great people do things before they are ready.”

And this one:

“You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.”

I could actually happily post most of the text here. Yes Please is that sort of book that makes you want to try harder and do more. It also sort of makes you want to throw yourself at Amy Poehler’s feet and do the full Wayne’s World ‘We’re not worthy’ thing.

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On the tip of my tongue

A week or so ago a person who’s known me for a very, very long time – knows my background and my family and how filled with books the house I grew up in is and how I talk – but had not read anything I’ve written until I started blogging, told me that she was quite surprised by my writing style. She thought it would be more flowery. More long words, I guess, and poetic and perhaps more philosophical?

I was a bit surprised, anyway, because at the other end of the scale Coffee Monster finds it funny and frustrating that, when talking, I have the barest grasp of nouns and can spend five minutes searching for the correct adjective. Not out of artistic temperament – I just forget words easily when I’m on the spot. I used to have a speech impediment Continue reading

Excuses, excuses…

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away (for some of you) and very, very near (for the rest), there lived a not-so-young woman. The woman lived a life of relative ease, having a job that she mostly liked; a roof over her head (sometimes, when the rain doesn’t cause it to cave in [true story]);  story-based ambitions that meant she spent a lot of time making stuff up in her head; didn’t have to deal with princes, having met a far more appealing woodsman; and had two wolves who doubled handily as hot-water bottles, thus keeping the heating bill down. Continue reading

Extra extra: Sinead O’Connor and Miley Cyrus (opinion)

I can’t believe I’m actually writing an entry about this when there’s a whole mess of other more important things out there, like, for example, every dodgy thing the current British government is saying and doing. But in the same way that a week of emails at work marked ‘urgent’, ‘urgent URGENT’, ‘URGENT URGENT URGENTIST’ has completely numbed me to the concept of urgency, so my sense of outrage has been completely ground down by current happenings on the political front. So where I used to get angry, now I just shrug wearily and think Of course they said/did that. Of course. And fret about who the hell I’m supposed to vote for in the next election. I’m seriously thinking anarchy might be the way to go.

Anyway. Because of that sense of resignation and inevitable fucked-upedness on the Important Things front, today, instead, I am getting my tuppence in on the Sinead O’Connor/Miley Cyrus shitstorm. No, I’m not linking to the letters, facebook posts or tweets – google away. It’s all out there.

I’m not sure why I actually feel quite strongly about this. I know two O’Connor songs and I couldn’t name any of Cyrus’s (though, yes, I probably have heard some of her stuff at the gym or something). So this isn’t a case of favourites. I’m a fan of neither.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that O’Connor, in writing that open letter at all, starts out in the wrong and then stays there. It’s concern trolling of the worst kind. I think that Cyrus’s twitter response was classless as well, but Sinead got in there first, so. To the bullet points!

– In its most basic form, what’s happened here is that a young, hardworking woman professed admiration and made a bit of a tribute to an older woman, only to have that older woman take to a public forum and tell her that she’s doin’ it wrong and compare her to a prostitute (the word pimp is thrown around a lot). It’s a presumptuous, patronising letter that implies she is being fucked metaphorically and literally by everyone and that she has no self respect. That sort of response from someone you admire would be bad enough, but sent out as an open letter? What a kick to the gut. It was harsh and irresponsible.

– If O’Connor were really that concerned about Cyrus that she couldn’t just shrug and take the intended tribute as a compliment, she could have skipped the ‘open’ aspect of the letter and contacted Cyrus privately. She didn’t. And I don’t believe that she wasn’t aware that posting a presumptuous and critical missive to the current pop culture scape goat under the guise of ‘advice’ would stir up a massive media shitstorm.

– Did O’Connor really think Cyrus would or could ignore that letter? Or read it and proclaim that, My God, she’s right! And abruptly change her ways? Of course she wasn’t going to do that. Cyrus is 20 and on top of the world and was just humiliated, in public, by someone she (previously, I’m guessing at this point) admired. I’m not defending (or condemning) Cyrus and her music or her style with the ‘Ah, but she’s just a kid’ argument. She’s 20, she’s a woman. But I will point out that I have known very few people who had their shit together and a solid sense of self at 20. Of those people, a couple had had their wild years by the time they were 17, and the others had various experimental meltdowns in later years. No one escapes a period where the world is judging them for their suddenly, apparently extreme, life choices. Everyone has a period of figuring themselves out.

– I am condemning Cyrus’s twitter response though. It was as low and graceless as O’Connor’s initial ‘reaching out’. And O’Connor responded straight back with the good old ‘you’re nothing but an ignorant prostitute’ argument. Neither of them are coming up shiny in this particular situation. It’s bloody ridiculous but could have been avoided if…

– O’Connor had just paid attention to her own 2012 album title and applied those wise words accordingly…

"How about I be me (and you be you)?" Yeah, about  that.

“How about I be me (and you be you)?” Yeah, how’s about that.

God knows you can’t expect other people to listen to you if you don’t follow your own advice.