I should be so lucky

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The one and only lucky tin!

 

While I was walking the dog this morning I found a penny on the pavement (note to my far flung friends: a pavement is what you should be calling your sidewalk!). 

When I was a kid, my nan always used to say ‘see a penny, pick it up, all the day it’ll bring you luck’. Some years ago now (gosh, probably 11 years now I come to think of it – my, how time flies, it’s terrifying!), when we were doing the rounds of University applications with my daughters, one of them had an interview at Bristol Uni.  We had to stay overnight and had some time to kill in the morning, so had a wander around town.

During our wanderings I found a penny on the pavement and quoted the ditty. After some discussion over who should pick it up, it was decided that although she was the one who needed the luck for her interview, since it was me who saw it first, I would be the only likely beneficiary of said ‘luck’

‘But’ she said and quoted ‘if you put it in your shoe, more good luck will come to you’

‘what about ‘if you give it to a friend, your good luck will never end’ I countered.

‘I’m your daughter though, I don’t count as a friend (?? ? I dispute this strongly!)

Suffice it to say, we debated the point for some time before I picked the darn thing up and ended up having it rattle about in my shoe for the rest of the day. (actually, for a good part of the day it was in her shoe on my foot, because she’d forgotten to bring anything but her manky old trainers to attend the interview in, so we had to swap. Though, please understand, I would only put my delicate, perfect feet in those manky things under exceptional circumstances).  I figured that I so badly wanted her to get the result she wanted, that my good luck would automatically transfer to her.

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  She didn’t get offered a place in Bristol, so it didn’t work.

Or did it?

In the end, she was offered a place at Cardiff, which she loved.  If she had ended up in Bristol, she would never have met her lovely boyfriend, or bought their perfect little house.  She may never have experienced some of the great things she’s done since moving there.   Indeed, it could be argued that the ‘good luck’ was in not getting the place at Bristol.

You see, I figure that luck is one of those things that we experience in different ways depending on our state of mind. In fact, on the whole, I believe it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things that ultimately make us the lucky ones.

Just like the one and only time I won a raffle prize.

It was an ‘own brand value’ tin of rice pudding.

Yay!

Yeah, how lucky am I??

Whilst I was bemoaning the fact that it was not a bottle of champagne, or a yacht, to cheer me up, my other daughter ventured

‘Well I like rice pudding’ she was probably about twelve at the time.

‘It’s yours’ I said

‘I don’t want it, I was just saying…’

‘nope, it’s yours now’

And it sat in our cupboard for years, waiting for her to eat it.  It became a standing joke in our family.

‘Helen, do you want rice pudding for afters?’

Eventually, I told her that if she didn’t eat it I’d sneak it into her bag when she left for university (there were still several years to go) and that she’d be glad of it then.  Though she pooh-poohed my threat, I did indeed sneak it into her bag when she left home, and eventually she sheepishly confessed she’d eaten it’s seven year old contents, and brought me back the washed out tin to keep as a souvenir.

Ok, our family is weird, but I still have the tin (see above!), and it still makes me chuckle that we kept that particular in-joke up for so long.  I’m not sure a bottle of champagne (or a yacht) would have given us so many laughs. So yes, I was indeed, very lucky to have won it.  I’m also lucky to have a daughter that still loves me despite my endless teasing.

Now, can someone tell me how long I have to keep this penny in my shoe? Do I have to keep the shoe on all day? Does the luck stop as soon as I take my shoe off? Will it still work if I quickly transfer it to my slipper?

Oh, and by the way… It’d still be nice to win a bottle of champagne…or a yacht! 🙂

Absolute beginners

Maybe not the first single you think of when you think of David Bowie, and maybe not one of his best, but we chose this as the first dance at our wedding thirty years ago, for both the sentiment and the mad dancing opportunities in the jazzy bits!

Most of the time I still feel like an absolute beginner in this life, so often think of the lyrics to remind me that I’m a lucky sort really.

David Bowie was only a few years older than me, and his loss so prematurely is another reminder that we should live life everyday as if there is no tomorrow!

The Fast Life

Writing 101, day 10. ‘Let the scene write itself’.

40 mph 2When I was forty we moved ‘up North’.  The year flashed by in a flurry of finding homes and schools, and settling in and seeking friends. A comfortable and smooth suburban road, my fortieth year was fleeting. But on reflection… Forty was slow.

In my fiftieth year I celebrated a half century of living.  Working full time, the decade hurtled along. Motherly fussing over A level angst, and woefully watching my girls turn to women overnight. And then they left.  My nest was empty. I studied and worried and filled that gaping gap with grief. My fiftieth decade passed so quickly on that bumpy B road.  But on reflection…. Fifty too was slow.

Now, it’s over sixty years since my birth. I grasp life, clinging to my youth with white knuckle fear of declining body and mind. Years roll by as fast as miles on a motorway.  Long stretches of similarity so often give way to curves and corners in my world. I expect the unexpected – a sudden ‘slow down’ or ‘obstruction in the road’. I’m flying along in the fast lane.

But what of seventy? Dare I look beyond? Do I inevitably set out, slow moving, on curling country lanes? A pedestrian? Or perhaps fork out for a Ferrari, put the pedal to the metal, and speed away?

What do I do?

Writing 101, Day 9 – What do you do when your not writing?

You ask what do I do
when I’m not sitting side-by-side
with a sharpener
scrawling in my ridiculous
childlike script on
blank sheets of sepia paper
or staring at a screen
where fought for phrases
turn to text

You ask what do I do
when rhythm is erratic
and rhymes
don’t.
When alliteration alters
instead of enhancing
when allegory is elusive
metaphor meaningless
and similes absurd

You ask what do I do
when words don’t spill
and I have no story to tell
how I pass the time
in that hollow void
when secrets attempt escape
to compensate
for lack of imagination
and skill

You ask what do I do
I live.

Dear Nature

Writing 101, day 8 – write a letter

I thought I’d drop a line to see how you are.  To be honest, I’ve been a bit worried about you lately. You seem to have been, well, let’s say, a bit of a drama queen lately.  What with all the whipping up the wind, and lashing down with the rain, and frankly, no-one likes the fog and the drizzle. Also you seem to have lost your blue paintbrush, preferring to use that nasty gun-metal grey to wash the sky.  Of course, that means there’s not a lot of green either.  Ok, the red and golds are quite nice, but really, they do look better under a sunny sky.

And while we’re on the subject… those leaves.  Look, I know there’s this arrangement with the trees, that you give their branches a rest from time to time, but please could you organise it so that you don’t get into a huff just as the leaves have fallen.  It gets so darn messy. Leaves bloomin’ everywhere.  Couldn’t you just blow them into a neat pile, instead of trying to see how much of a blanket you can cover my garden with?

Oh, and the acorns.  Look, I know trees have to procreate, but do they actually need to produce a gazillion acorns? Surely half a dozen would be enough. Let’s face it, there’s not much to be done with umpteen bins worth of acorns. Even the squirrels are quite overwhelmed.

Now, you know how much I love the animals in my garden don’t you? It’s lovely to see the birds feeding, find hedgehogs wandering about, see the squirrels running along the fence, or find tiny mouse holes here and there.  But there are just a few teeny tiny adjustments that I’d be really grateful if you could make.

Firstly, the birds.

Please ask them not to poop on my patio table. It’s really not nice.  They’ve got their own bird table to poop on if they must.

The Hedgehogs

When will they learn to keep out of the way of my dog? They wander about in the middle of the garden at night, and the dog makes a beeline for them and won’t leave them alone.  I have to go out there with a flashlight, in my jimmyjams and slippers, and physically drag her away.  Could they stay in the far corners please?  There is after all, plenty of piles of leaves for them to hide under.

The Squirrels

Oh they’re so cute.  They gallop along the top of the fence, their fluffy tails bobbing and swooshing.  They tussle entertainingly with the birds as they hurtle along branches.  They’re great.  But…. Would you see to it that they stop burying acorns in the middle of the lawn please?  I’m going to have an oak forest there this time next year I think.

The Mice

I love the mice. Their cute little hands. They’re so teeny tiny. Who’d a thunk that they could do so much damage? They’ve chewed the garden cushions that live in the shed y’know? And they find their way into my house sometimes.  If they’d just stay where they are supposed to be and eat what they’re supposed to eat we’d get along just fine.  Errmm… that goes for the spiders too.

I should elaborate.  You know I have this thing about spiders.  A phobia.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t not like them, they just give me the heebie jeebies. They can’t help being spiders and I know they don’t really mean to scare the living daylights out of me. Why oh why oh why do they have to come into my house though? I’ve got nothing for them to eat.  Those mega granddaddy spiders who run across my carpet when I’m sitting minding my own business, they are asking for trouble (not from me, I just scream, but my husband insists on squishing the poor things).  They can live a long and quiet life if they just spin a pretty web, away from where I’m likely to walk into it (ewww…) maybe decorate the trees with their lace, and we can cohabit without incident for either of us.

Oh sorry, I seem to have gone on a bit and it’s all about my problems, but as usual, you are causing havoc across the globe one way or another – droughts here, floods there, hurricanes, earthquakes.  What the hell is that all about? It would be nice if you could take a few breaths and just calm yourself.  It would be so much easier if everywhere was temperate.  No one place too hot or too cold.  No one without water, and no-one with ruined properties.

It’s got to rain now and again, so let’s have a proper downpour that leaves proper puddles, not this general weepy dampness.  If we’ve got to have clouds, let’s have a few breaks in them so we can look up and say ‘I can see blue’ now and again. I’m sure you’d feel better for it too.

Anyhoo, I’m sorry to nag, but as I said, I’ve been a bit worried about you. However, I have to say that red sky this morning was mesmerising.  Good job!

Best wishes

K

I must’ve learned something…

Day 2 of Writing 101 – make a list, either ‘things I like’, ‘things I learned’. or ‘things I wish’

Ho hum… I’m not a big fan of lists, though I do occasionally post a listy type blog, the last one being ‘Little Irritations’ and before that ‘Reasons to be cheerful’.  So I’m not completely agin ‘em, but being asked to write one off the top of my head seems a bit dull.  After all, don’t most of us wish for the same sort of things, like the same sort of things (ok, so you might actually enjoy a bowl of jelly – yuck!), and generally find out things the hard way?  So I’m stumped.  Can’t think of anything original to write in my list. Hmmph… only the second day of writing 101 and I’m falling at the first hurdle. Gee thanks wordpress fairies.

So….

Hmm… lets see…

Things I’ve learned…

Hell, I must have learned something in 60 odd years….

  1. Milk goes off if you forget to put it back in the fridge
  2. Paper cuts hurt like hell
  3. It is possible to fall up stairs
  4. Mice like chocolate biscuits
  5. life throws curveballs when you’re least expecting them
  6. If I wear a thick jumper the weather will turn unseasonally warm
  7. If I take an umbrella out with me it won’t rain
  8. It is almost impossible to get a turmeric stain out of a white blouse
  9. Can’t please everybody
  10. I think I can sing, but really, I can’t
  11. Using a piece of greaseproof paper taller than the cake tin helps the cake rise
  12. Life is too short
  13. It never snows at Christmas
  14. The All Blacks always win
  15. 9 times 9 is….. hell, I don’t know… who cares…
  16. Trust no-one
  17. Crying doesn’t make things better
  18. Don’t rub your eye after chopping chillis
  19. I am not elegant when I’m on ice-skates
  20. You don’t automatically become wiser as you get older

There you go, I managed it – 20 things I’m pretty sure about – especially the last one… 🙂

Missing the News

Me and my husband on our camels, Cappuccino and Tarzan

Me and my husband on our camels for the day, Cappuccino and Tarzan

My husband and I had a holiday in Essaouira, Morocco recently. Essaouira is a wonderful bustling place, with a colourful old Medina lined with tiny shops overflowing with goods of all sorts.  It also boasts a long, golden, sandy beach, where local boys practice football and gymnastics, girls paddle, tourists lie prone soaking up the sun for hours (yep, that was me), or take to the water on boards of all shapes and sizes. At the far end, away from the town, camels and horses line up awaiting their next riders, while their owners sit and chat and smoke.

There are hawkers patrolling the beach selling all sorts of tat, but also brandishing trays of cakes. One particular gappy-toothed chap was certain I knew him and every day approached my sunbed with

hello ma’am, you remember me? You want happy cake today?’

and when I refused offered me

just weed?’.

I still don’t know who he mistook me for, I can only assume I look like an ageing hippy!

The tiny Riad where we stayed was right in the Medina and looked very unprepossessing from the outside, but inside, it was a glorious gem, with all the luxurious trappings you could imagine, even a Jacuzzi.

Anyway, it was all very lovely, we did the touristy things; had a hammam (owww..), rode a camel, saw the sights (including where they filmed a bit of Game of Thrones) and took full advantage of the lovely restaurants and beach.

But all this aside, one thing that made this holiday very special was our complete separation from technology and the outside world for a whole week.

I did take my phone with me for emergencies, but it remained switched off for the entire time.  My laptops and ipad stayed home alone. For once there was no TV in the room, and we couldn’t read the headlines on the newspaper stands. So for a whole week, we were cocooned in our own little world of eating, sleeping and having fun.

Naturally, while we were there we witnessed some poverty and were reminded of really how privileged we are, but generally Essaouira is less down at heel than other places we have visited. So all in all, it was a treat to have a break from the daily bombardment of misery, suffering, and arguments that is fed to us daily through newspapers, TV, and websites.

Nonetheless, I believe that it is absolutely right and proper that we should all take an interest in the world and it’s complex problems. Ok, it’s often distressing, and worrying, and I don’t necessarily understand it all, but it wouldn’t do at all if we all buried our heads in the sand and said

it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t affect me’.

Of course, it matters. It will affect me. History teaches us that ripples, from whichever corner of the world they originate, will eventually reach us. Whether it be close-to-home decisions in parliament about taxes and austerity, or news from the faraway places where injustice and horror reign, we can be sure that there will be an impact, one way or another, on our lives.

So yes, a break from all that is brilliant, but I don’t understand those who can live their entire lives unconcerned and disassociated from society. After all, we are all global citizens these days.

Surely a world in which we were all blithely going about our own business without a care would soon founder? And wouldn’t those self-absorbed individuals be a bit of a bore?

I should mention that I always take the news with a pinch of salt. We are all aware of how stories differ from one media outlet to another, so what is factual and accurate often takes a bit of unravelling. But by being engaged and interested we can form our own opinions and take our own paths accordingly, perhaps add to voices to improve conditions for everyone, and maybe even throw our own stones:

‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ – Mother Teresa