Thursday, 23 February 2017

A letter to Doris; avoiding the W word and a little bit of Thursday escapism.

Imagine having a word that you can't mention. Like Voldemort, say, in Harry Potter land. Or fart when in the company of a great aunt. Or ice-cream if surrounded by toddlers. A bad idea, in the wrong situation, to utter any of those out loud. So it is with the W word in our house. If we say it and don't act upon it, it becomes a form of torture and a source of great, moaning-laden frustration. Utter it and the excitement created could be bottled. If you are in possession of a canine companion ... that looks wrong; arguably, it is the canine companion who possesses you ...  you will be aware of the strike-a-match potential of the W word. And the need to find alternatives - shall we go for a perambulation in half an hour? Or is it time for a stroll? Or what about a wander across the fields? Or anyone fancy placing one foot in front of the other for an hour or so? Speak the W word itself and observe the transformation, from this

to this


actually it is surprisingly difficult to catch them on camera in an excited state. This is how they look a few minutes after the tail-wagging, hip-swinging, vertically-bouncing, whinnying state that the W word triggers. At the gate, ready to go -

Ready in the sun that didn't last long ...

Dear Doris,

I don't normally complain but I worked on Monday and Tuesday and Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins haven't learnt how to take themselves for walks yet - although Bertie Baggins has tried - so the boys were delighted to discover that I wasn't abandoning them yesterday morning. But much less delighted to find that I had running up and down the stairs and baking and carrying baskets of clothes and vacuuming and doing stuff with water and bubbles and cleaning muddy paw prints off the floor and sitting and talking to do. But so far, Doris, none of that was your problem or your fault. What I wish to complain about is your timing. Why did you wait for me to go out on a Walk before doing this? My daughter, who sensibly stayed at home, captioned this - "five minutes after they went out for a walk ..."

I had to shelter in the lea of a tree

and reflect on how much better this would be in summer ... with leaves

Bertie Baggins took on that cliched 'hang-dog' expression - 'I'm not at all happy to be out here / it's warmer at home / why are you standing in a ditch cuddling up to a tree? / the sooner we hurry up this path the sooner we get home / my coat is soggy, my feet are muddy, your bread is wet, so no, I have nothing to be happy about / and yes I am ignoring you because you brought me out in this and I blame you for that and for the fact that you will need to take the towel to me when we get home which I hate and which you know I hate'

Four-legged-friend protested by plodding

They had a point

So Doris, yesterday, you could have waited. Allowed us to get home; dry.

Today, however, my dear, you were spectacular.

(Plus ... I looked at the forecast)

This is the tree we sheltered under yesterday

Bertie Baggins was a little too adventurous in the unexpected sun and swollen stream and a little too not strong enough to scramble up the bank

but - revealing that he isn't as thick (not my word for him!) as he sometimes looks (to others!) - he waded downstream and found a spot where it was much easier. Bread helped.

It took Doris about five minutes to fill the sky with clouds

and the air with ear-flapping wind

and this-is-too-much-I-want-to-go-home gusts

and dramatic stormy skies

Doris, you soaked me yesterday, blew me away this morning and deprived me of internet and electricity for several hours this afternoon. I wonder what you have left over for tomorrow.

Lastly, having promised myself that I wouldn't get political or mention the T word in this post, here's a little escapism, which we all need, especially after a week forever scarred by the infamous (as in not famous) and terrible (as in really ... ?) Sweden incident: searching for fairytales and superheroes - even if a little beige, a little same-y, a little repetitive - is a much better way to start and end a Thursday. It's Coldplay after all ... youtubefeature

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A procrasti-ramble and a rant - on writing, fear, muddy wellies and when the only direction is up

Early morning sun

and a walk with Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins

Frosty underfoot

giving way to blue sky and long shadows

and sunny boys

Taking 'the path less travelled by' takes on a whole new meaning here - left, right or straight to heaven?

But perhaps, this procrasti-rambler needs to forget heaven and see it as up. Stepping upwards and onwards. Taking the harder choice, the brave one, the one where challenges are met and tackled and overcome. Maybe, I should see it as a metaphor for ceasing to procrastinate and doing the things that are frightening and hard to face.
When it comes to writing, criticism and rejections are hard to receive; praise is seldom fully believed and there is, ever present, the niggling doubt that the only person you write for is yourself. Being a writer can be immensely lonely. Sharing your writing risks increasing the loneliness, because, once it's out there, you avoid situations where others could comment. You become fearful of judgments passed. And you hide beneath your own invisibility cloak. You avoid applying for courses; avoid submitting ... again; avoid re-editing; avoid entering competitions. Why is this? The answer is fear.
If you, like me, write - you must have felt that fear.
Sharing your writing sometimes feels like wrapping one of your children in brown paper and handing it over to strangers who will judge you on your parenting skills. If you don't write and have never experienced this believe me, I don't jest - it is that bad. And no, this is not a round about way of seeking compliments (I wouldn't believe them after this, anyway), it is simply the truth.
So why do writers do it? Inside all the writers I know, there is a need to string words together. It is something visceral; unexplainable. I think most writers would find it impossible to write without loving the craft - they have a fascination and deep passion for words and an almost religious belief that the pen is mightier than the sword and that words can and do and always have made a difference. That is why writers do it. And if a writer is also a storyteller, then all he or she is doing is filling a page with his or her dreams.

So, back to the paths, is the only direction up? It depends how you define up, but if up is striving to do whatever it is that we do better, then I think it ought to be. For all of us, wherever we are, whatever we do, at this time more than at any other time before: we need to believe in ourselves, both as individuals and together, for it is by rising up together and using our words that we can make a difference and make sure that history will judge us as having been right.

Ah! That wasn't how this started out ... that wasn't my original intention at all. I was walking with my boys, in the sun


and cursing the mud on my wellies.

But it's good sometimes to have a bit of a rant.

And at the same time a bit of a pep-talk-to-self.

And allow oneself to smile - at the world as it was this morning and also at this (cleaning-up) which hints at it being cheaper for energy companies to invest in clean renewables to fuel the planet rather than coal and gas and fracking. This is potentially very good news but will upset, bigly, a certain orange 'being' (I nearly called him a gentleman but that he is not). You could even ... perhaps ... say that things are looking ... well ... up!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Dreich, dogs, deer, drops and when a Donald isn't a duck

Dreich - Scottish word: meaning dull, damp, gloomy, perhaps a bit misty, and generally miserable as applied to weather. It could involve rain or just the heavy wetness that hangs in the air going nowhere until you step out into it and soak some of it up. It's wet. British. And in summer, associated with midges. Thankfully, this is winter and England. So no flying beasties with teeth. Just a pair of dogs and lots of water -

raindrops on the village duck-pond

deer on the horizon

and dogs in the stream

A clean stream.

A stream (hopefully) protected by UK or (at the pre-Brexit moment) European laws.

Unlike streams, waterways and rivers in America. They were protected. But no more. Not after Yuge  D and his gang of environmentally unfriendly friends swung behind a Congressional Review Act to repeal the Stream Protection Rule. They prefer coal dust on their hands to clean water in their streams and lakes and taps. Mining companies will no longer risk prosecution if they block, divert or pollute water courses. They can legally dump coal ash into rivers as they scramble to save their industry. The environmental damage will be huge. But big D's ideal of a saved America doesn't seem to care if it emerges a dirty, polluting, ugly, corrupt America: as long as it is rich and fuelling itself, how it looks apparently doesn't matter.

Clearly, this is a case of a Donald who is not a duck.