To think or not to think?

Ah well, I’ve just started the new year of my course, and I’ve seen the course materials and the assessment requirements, so anxiety is setting in big time.  I decided to change my primary genre this year from fiction to poetry, ‘cos basically I like writing poetry more. Besides, it takes me ages to think of plots for stories but I can write a poem on practically anything you throw at me (it might not be a good poem, but it’ll be a poem – I give you ‘ode to my knickers‘…)

I do have the odd existential crisis around poetry though. I wonder what its for. Am I just writing it to show how jolly clever I am?  To share a mood, an emotion? How my brain works in weird ways? (Certainly that last one is apparent in much of my work!)

I am thrown by some of the comments at my writers group too. I am one of only a few poets there, and some of the aspiring writers just don’t get poetry – ‘if it doesn’t rhyme it’s not a poem and you are not a poet’ was one memorable comment.  And yes, I know, much as I love ’em all, they are heathens…. 😉

Of course, I can’t agree with that at all, I know it’s not correct. I read a lot of poetry both modern and classic and enjoy the free-verse and rhymes equally, as long as they connect with me in some way –  make me think, bring a tear, make me laugh. And I love layers to unpeel, deeper meanings to uncover, thought provoking ideas, and beautiful use of language.

However, I have to agree, that for many people a quick ditty that doesn’t require analysis is the only poetry they understand and therefore, enjoy.  For instance, who doesn’t like Pam Ayres and her ‘I wish I’d looked after me teeth!’, a poem many of us can identify with I’m sure.

On any creative writing course I doubt very much that this would be described as ‘good’ poetry, and I imagine I wouldn’t get a particularly high mark if I chose to submit something along those lines as part of an assessment. But hey, it makes us laugh, we understand it and empathise, and with it’s tumpty-tumbness, it’s memorable.  Shouldn’t we appreciate that just as much?

But as I said, this was a brief crisis which has now been sat on.  I work hard to write poems that require some reading between the lines.  I like to find rhythm where there was none, and to play with words, spending hours finding the one that’s just right in that particular line making it delicious and dripping with meaning. I don’t often get that right of course, and some might say it’s not worth the effort, but I enjoy the process.  And yes, I’m quietly pleased with myself when the whole thing comes together.

Last week I read an allegoric poem at the writers group which I was really pleased with, and the best they could say was ‘it’s good’ and ‘to the point’. I really wished they had had the time to check it out a bit further, given it just a little more thought. But in this world of rush and instant gratification perhaps allegory and metaphor are too time consuming and are a bit too much like hard work, so I’ll take the approval, albeit for what I consider to be, the wrong reasons. Of course, it might just be that the allegory is all in my head. At what point does it become clear to everyone I wonder? Its ok to have a blanket of layers but I guess it doesn’t need a whole bloomin’ duvet!

Oh dear, I fear all this studying is turning me into a bit of a thinker! I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing and work towards improving and expanding my writing and my thoughtiness… (and perhaps, my vocabulary!)  🙂

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The age gap?

We had my brother-in-law and his family over on Sunday.  They don’t come very often, and it is lovely to see them, but we do have to brace ourselves a bit for our big, boisterous, and loud eight year old nephew’s visits.

His sister, who turned twelve on Saturday (happy birthday to the fabulous Miss V) tends to sit and stare at her laptop with her earphones on for most of the time.  Goodness knows how addicted she’ll be in a couple of years time, but as my brother-in-law once commented ‘you shouldn’t poke a sleeping tiger.’

Anyhoo, my nephew’s energy levels are something to behold, in fact, I think he got Miss V’s share. He bounces around begging us to play with him.  Anything physical, it doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s by his rules. He is in the school rugby team and likes nothing better than a ‘bundle’.  Sunday was a hot ‘un and really not conducive to running around much, but despite his endless complaints about the heat, it didn’t stop him.

By tea time we’d all had a go at tennis, or cricket, or throwing balls, or chasing, tickling, whatev’s and were fairly tired of it. The dog had hidden.

Bored by our needing to replenish with tea and cake, he begged his dad to play with him.

‘I’m tired, I’m too old.’ Said my brother-in-law.

Now, I was the oldest adult there, by several years. I am positively ancient, but one thing I will not tolerate myself saying is ‘I’m too old’. I absolutely and completely refuse to be too old to do anything. I believe once you get in that mind set you can never crawl your sad old way out of it.

My body might not be quite what it used to be (actually it’s considerably more than it used to be, but that’s another matter…) but I still can’t quite get to grips in my head that I’m supposed to be grown up… a pensioner even, a senior citizen, a twirly (we had a bus driver friend who called all pensioners ‘twirly’s because they were always turning up with their bus passes before they were allowed to use them and asking ‘am I tooearly’ (twirly). It’s stuck!)

In my head I’m still silly me. I’m still up for adventure, having fun, adrenaline rushes, and yes, just running about and being daft and having water fights. I still want to dance wildly and sing loudly and out of tune. I want to wear clothes from young folk shops, and laugh…. laugh lots and lots.

To this end I try and keep myself a bit fit, the dancing around the kitchen helps, as does my daily walk with the dog, and of course, yoga. I also try to eat well, and enjoy food and drink without pickiness or guilt. Do you know, despite being the elder by some years, I was the only adult there on Sunday not on medication for anything, so something’s working. Maybe I’m just lucky and have good genes. 

So I advised my young nephew never to accept ‘I’m too old’ as an excuse from anybody, he’d be doing them a favour. Neither my brother-in-law, or his wife (who is some eighteen years younger than me) agreed, so aaarrgghhh…. Of course, it was me who had to get up and go run about again.

It took me most of Monday to recover 😊

Light Bulb Moment

This week I was reminded of the value of proper shopping. You know, not the pressing a button and getting it delivered kind, but proper, driving into town and walking all the way to a particular specialist shop, choosing something then bringing it home, sort of shopping.

I’m a geeky type, albeit an old ‘un. I was all grown up with a house and a family before t’internet was born. And let me tell you this now, and in no uncertain terms, I think the internet is GREAT. Ok, there are definitely some caveats to that, but life is so much easier these days. We have on hand, in our own homes, without actually moving from the sofa – a source of information, friendship, jolly silly stuff, and of course shopping opportunities its just, well, GREAT. But saying that, it does have its limitations. Apparently, it seems, almost infinite choice is one of them.

We wanted a new lamp for the sitting room, and wasted hours looking through endless pages of them on various websites (Wayfair has thousands!) but were still not able to find the ‘ideal’ one, that being a mother and child type, you know the sort, the ones with the little reading lamp and the uplighter. Trouble is, they all looked the same and pretty uninspiring.

‘We could go to the lamp shop’ I said

‘What lamp shop?’

‘You know, the one at the outlet’

‘Ugh, that’s a bit of a drive and it’ll be packed on a Saturday morning’

‘Yeah, but you never know..’

So off we trotted. It’s only a little lamp shop, but it glittered with bling so brightly you could probably see it from space.  We had to blink quite a bit to acclimatise but managed to resist the temptation to don our sunglasses. 

We’re not blingy people. Don’t like sparkly stuff and doubted that we’d be able to find anything amongst the chandeliers and ‘diamond’ encrusted fixtures that covered pretty much the whole shop.  Still it was fun, icking, yucking and ‘definitely not’- ing our way around. Then we found it. The one. Standing quietly in a corner. Understated without a bit of bling it was an upper class piece of totty amongst the chavs.  Just tripod stainless steel legs and a white pleated shade. Smart, modern and understated, and of course, nothing like what we’d come to find.

Readers, we bought it.

On the way home we agreed that we’d probably ruled out many of its sisters while we were browsing, but online you can’t see proportions properly, or the soft glow of the light (enough to read in, but not too bright) so we would never have gone for it.

I think I’ve learned a lesson from this, yep the light has come on. It is, of course, ok to buy stuff on-line (though I still hate my self every time I use Amazon… which I do… frequently), but when it comes to aesthetic requirements, it’s got to be better to see the choices in the flesh, as it were, before you purchase, because sometimes, a picture just doesn’t speak to you the way the real thing will. 🙂

Missing you

Hmmm…. just looking at me little blogs stats and realised that it’s been a dry year so far. Mainly, as I explained in an earlier blog (you remember… I’m sure you do…), that I can’t post any of my writing because of publishing restrictions on the course I’m doing (an MA on Creative Writing with the Open University since you ask). I actually daren’t post any just in case they’re half reasonable and I can fish them out when I’m in dire need halfway through next years module. But anyways…

Looking back I can see that actually when I first started this ‘journey’ I wasn’t posting that much creative writing stuff, more a mishmash of things I like, moany posts about life in general, and some photographs. The most activity was around the events hosted by wordpress, such as photo101 and writing101 which encouraged me to post every day. They were most excellent at keeping me on track and a lovely way to meet new online friends and get more followers. They were my most productive times on the site.

Oh I know I shouldn’t need that push and shove, but you know what it’s like, life gets in the way and there’s all sorts of excuses I could use – for instance, I have to take the dog to the vets in a mo’ and I’m busy bracing myself – it’s fair to say she doesn’t like it much! Anyone who’s met my dog knows she is a nervous sort and that’s enhanced a 100 fold on a trip to the you know where’s. It’s emotionally draining. No, not for her.. for me…

Anyhoo, I digress. One of the other reasons I haven’t been around here much lately is because I’ve taken on a couple of other sites (suttonartgroup and retwords) so have been busy making them look all pretty and alive whilst letting my poor flower die off a bit. This needs to be redressed methinks.

Therefore, I hereby promise to prattle on and post more frequently despite the limitations, and one day, when I eventually finish this darn course, I’ll be able to share that mountain of poetry and prose that is building up on my laptop.

Hope it’s worth the wait….

Master of None

Well, hello!  You may (or more likely, may not) have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around this blog for a while, since November in fact.  My apologies.  Life seems to have got in the way quite a bit lately.

‘Why, what have you been up to?’ you may ask.

Really there is a variety of reasons, however probably the main factor is that I have rather rashly, begun a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University.  Not only does this, unexpectedly, take up a disproportionate amount of my time, but also, I’m not allowed to use for the course anything I write once it’s been published, even if that ‘publishing’ is only on this wee little blog.

Now, my writing being a bit hit and miss, I can’t afford to use any of my poems or short stories just in case they turn out to be the best I can manage and I want to submit them for assessment at some point.  This leaves potential content for this site a somewhat dry area.

Nonetheless, I’m quite enjoying the course and learning a lot, even though I’m finding it pretty challenging.  The content is all on-line and you are expected to contribute to the forums regularly, thus meeting some like-minded, like-baffled peers, which has been fun.

Whilst the course is keeping me busy, I’m still trotting off to the art group every Friday.  I’m not sure there is a lot of improvement in my artworks, but painting alongside such jolly and talented friends is always relaxing.  This week we were all doing our own thing, and producing this little flight of fancy in watercolour and pen work kept me quiet all morning! :

IMG_1070 (Edited)

 

 

 

 

What does fun feel like?

Fun is carefree, laughing, singing, taking risks, dancing, letting your hair down.  As I get older, the opportunities for that sort of fun seem to diminish.  Not because of any lack of ability or motivation, just that, somehow, life gets in the way, and convention says those sort of fun things are for ‘the young folk’. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I spend most of my life doing things I enjoy; yoga, writing, photography, painting, gardening… but am I having ‘fun’ exactly?

I’m young.  Not everybody would agree of course, but despite my ageing 1950s edition container, Me, the Me inside, is still in her twenties.  And this twenty something still loves music, rollercoasters, climbing trees, zip-wiring, fast cars, boats, yep, I’m still an adrenaline junkie whenever I get the chance.  But these days, the best fun I have is when my family are all together, stitching each other up over a board game, or playing something daft on our old games console (cow racing being a favourite), or just basically, being silly. And that’s great, but it doesn’t happen often as my two daughters live at different ends of the country (well, one is in Wales, so not even technically in this country), and their shifts mean they are not often ‘off’ to visit their poor old parents at the same time.  We’ve even had to postpone Christmas some years.

However, this week, after months of waiting, Monday 3rd July finally arrived. Finally, finally, I was off to see one of my all time favourite bands.  I was like an excited kid and the evening couldn’t come quickly enough.

What can I say… GreenDay were magnificent, epic, awesome, incredible…

Every single person in the arena were on their feet, dancing, singing, and shouting for the whole two and half hour set.  They played new stuff and old favourites and it was just fabulous.

And me, yeah, oh did I let my hair down!  I danced and sang til I was hoarse. I chanted and cheered and waved my arms about.  The years dropped off and, transported by the music to a world of my own, I was exhilarated and felt young and free and alive and beautiful.  Never mind that I had a 30 year old daughter dancing next to me, we were the same. Me and the slightly scary young bloke on my left. The one with the piercings and tattoos, yeah, we were the same too. In fact, everyone in that arena, no matter what age, or inclination, or colour, or faith, or difference of any kind, were all the same.  Troubles forgotten in that hot, loud world, we were moving with an energy that could have powered the national grid for a year.  And we were all having the best fun… and yes BillieJoe, I ‘ad the time of my life! Thank you xxx

Getting out of the car park afterwards, now that was quite another matter altogether…!

 

 

I could’ve been a star…

Posted in response to the Daily Post weekly photo challenge. This week’s them ‘The Road Taken’

To this day I don’t know why Dad was so furious when I told him I was learning to play the tambourine.  Well, I know it wasn’t particularly the tambourine side of things he didn’t like, I mean, who doesn’t like a tambourine, it was more where, and by whom, I was learning to play.

To be fair, most people don’t need lessons.  I understand that.

In a way it was his fault.  He was a collector of tat, and one day bought home a red tambourine, complete with long red, blue and yellow ribbons attached.  They swished as I banged and rattled. It was a joyful thing.

I don’t think my parents thought of it as joyful for long though. I’d march about our huge ‘over a shop’ flat, singing along to the tuneless bang rattle. 

I knew about marching.  We lived on a main road, so main that there was a bus stop right outside our front door, I used to have to navigate queues of people to cross over the road to the sweet shop to by my weekly jamboree bag.  I used to love jamboree bags, the blackjacks and the mojos, and the surprise cigarette card, sometimes a sugary lollipop, it’s a wonder any child of the 50’s has any teeth left at all.

Anyhow, pretty much every other Sunday morning a parade would pass by our flat and the sweetshop and the garage and the pub over the road.  I never really knew where they marched from or to, or why, but the people were all ages, dressed in uniforms, marching smartly while being led along, by a pied piper of a brass band.  Some of them were scouts, some girl guides, but the band were special, smart black uniforms, shiny instruments, and… tambourines, four or five playing in unison.  Women with their arms waving, making shapes with the ribbons… across, down, up, across, down up, across, down, up…

This was the Salvation Army band in all it’s glory.  We could hear them coming for a good five minutes before they passed our door.  My sister and I would watch them from the eyrie of our second floor bedroom window, still listening even after they’d disappeared from view.  Oh how I wanted to march like that, all smart, and in a troupe, all in time… left, right, left, right…

As it happens, the Salvation Army headquarters was next door to our house.  It was a dingy long low building stretching back off the road, separated from our backgarden by a fairly rickety six foot brick wall.  I couldn’t see through the grilled windows, but occasionally heard singing coming from inside, other than that it was an off-limits mystery. 

Nevertheless, I snuck in one day when the big red doors were open.  I don’t really remember what got into me.  I must’ve been about nine.  The people there were lovely and welcoming. I told them I lived next door and that I’d got a tambourine, and that’s when they told me I could learn to ‘play it properly’.   So I had lessons. Two of them. Before my dad found out.

Goodness, he was spitting nails when he heard.  What he didn’t call those poor people, who had after all, treated me very kindly. He was thoroughly ag’in religion in any shape or form, and the Sally Army was, in his mind at least, one of the most heinous sects imaginable. I was forbidden to go anywhere near them again.  I’m quite sure I was punished too, but my main memory is my anger and disbelief at the injustice of it all.  He never did explain his reasoning to me.  Dad never needed a reason for anything.  He was his own man.  So without further ado my road to tambourine greatness ended.

I still remember the ‘Cricket stump’ move though (across, down, up etc..) and can play a tambourine with the best of ‘em. And every time I see a Salvation Army band playing carols at Christmas time (actually, the only time I ever see them these days) I remember the grim dark hall and the silk ribbons of my shiny tambourine.

bassoons-in-the-sun-2

Not the Salvation Army! This was taken at Easter in Sorrento some years back 🙂