Autumnal Shorts

Making Time for Friends/Making Friends for Time:

This past weekend, I went and met up with some of my friends from University whom I don’t often get to see these days.  There was a group of us and it was like we’d never been apart – we laughed a lot, reminisced a lot, and generally added a new page to the story of our friendship.  It was good!  It’s always quite surreal to remember that for three whole years we were living in each others’ pockets and yet now, all these years later – we are spread far and wide,as we have been for four years now, and seldom able to get together as a group.  We are “just a scattering of lights across the globe”, as one such friend mawkishly predicted after many glasses of wine on the evening of our Graduation ceremony, back in 2008.

In 2012, I am glad to have these people in my lives still, even if all we do is make jokes at one another’s expense.  It seems that these days, it’s very easy for people to completely drift apart from one another.  People change.  Their circumstances and locations change.  Their personalities change.  And that includes ourselves – we are changing too, in all of these exact same ways.  It’s inevitable that, as our personal situations change, the time we have available to meet up with our nearest and dearest will fluctuate.  At University, I was living on the same campus as these people and seeing them every single day.  And night.  Lancaster University campus was the size of a walnut shell.  It was impossible not to see a number of friends to stop and talk to on just one short walk to the shops.  These days – with everybody living in different places and doing different things – we can go days, weeks, even months without contact.  It’s a massive contrast to how it used to be, but if the friendship is strong enough, these tests of time are no problem.  However, there will be other times in which people change so much that friendships slowly dissolve, albeit unintentionally.  People gradually forget people sometimes and that’s sad.  That’s something I try very hard not to do.

I’m not one of those people who is constantly typing away to people on the phone or over Facebook.  I don’t always think it’s necessary – I don’t believe that friendships should require constant contact in order to stay alive, and if they are that high-maintenance, they’re unlikely to exist beyond the inevitable boundaries of time and distance anyway.

That said, it’s nice when you do take that time to reconnect.  To catch-up.  To pretend you’re young again and yet to also age with one another.  To reminisce and keep the memories alive.  But above all, to continue the story – we all know that life is just one long series of chapters, and that each of the chapters have their own distinguishing features, but it’s nice to keep the characters recurring and keep the story cohesive.

Always make some time – no matter how small or how infrequent – for your relationships, and in turn those same relationships will know how to survive through time.

A quick word on Jimmy Savile…

So ‘Sir’ Jimmy is not quite Jim’ll Fix It For You but Jim’ll Stick It in You…?  I can safely add my name to the list of millions who are disgusted by the recent allegations.  Who would have thought that that cheery, comedic looking chappy in the tracksuit, who raised millions for charity, could have turned out to be such a poisonous little turd.  The recent revelations may have been a shock for the likes of you or I, but his dozens of victims will have spent most of their lives with their minds burnt by such horrifically vivid memories.  These women weren’t given the option to enjoy the same kind of innocence that we could – that choice was taken away from them by a gluttonous  monster who was powerful enough to always retain his innocence, albeit the different kind.  Posthumously strip this straggly-haired, self-gratifying old ogre of his knighthood and let’s distance ourselves a bit from this ridiculous modern-day notion that those who enjoy money and fame are always some kind of iconic super-being.  There are far more admirable and respectable people out there.  They just don’t need the limelight to make their point.

Intriguing Nuggets of Other Peoples’ Conversation #2471

I was on a train over the weekend, sat near to two immaculately-dressed ladies in fur scarves who looked and spoke like the sort of people you might expect to own a rural manor-house and make home-made jams and preserves for a living.  Both seemed to be in their ’60s, and their seemingly ostentatious conversation echoed around their seats.

“I didn’t much like Meeelanie laaaast niiight,”  one of them began to divulge to the other in posh, plum-voiced tones, “her outfit was AAAppalling”.  Fur Scarf #2 agreed, “Iiii wasn’t too fond of her either…or that other one…”

“What a pair of bitchy old beings!”  I thought to myself, assuming that they were probably referring to a blissfully-unaware acquaintance from Quifflingborough Croquet Club or whatever social circles they mix in.

Fur Scarf #1 continued…
“N’yes, all in all, not what I’d consider true X-Factor materialll”

I alighted the train moments later somewhat amused but albeit with my tail between my legs.  The dialogue had served as a timely reminder of the scope for error when casting judgment too quickly.   Ho hum.

Finally, some arty shizz:  I made a new video recently using some pictures I took in an old abandoned building we accidentally stumbled across during a bikeride.  Those of a nervous disposition probably shouldn’t watch.  Video can be viewed here .  Or if you prefer – you can click on the link that’s somewhere over there —>
New cartoons on the way soon too.

Song of the Day:  Dent May – Wedding Day

Mississippi musician who writes pleasant little dream-pop ditties such as this one.  A good one to chill towards the end of a long, busy and dark Autumn day.  I’ve had this one on loop for the past couple of days.

“Follow Your Heart”

I received a lovely surprise gift from my parents today.  A silver-ring into which are inscribed the words, ‘follow your heart’.  I’m sure my parents wish that somebody else was buying me a ring…you know, somebody nearer my age with an xy chromosome who wants to spend the rest of their life with me, but that doesn’t matter, because those three words around my finger have never seemed as important to me as they do right now.

I believe that if we follow our hearts, we will eventually always end up exactly where we want to be..or at least, somewhere in the vicinity.  The journey may be harder.  We may trip on plenty of stones along the way.  There’ll probably be tears.  There’ll be times when we look across the central reservation of the motorway in envy of the nice, shiny cars zipping along in the opposite direction whilst we sit in the lay-by, sipping coffee from a thermos flask and waiting for the AA to arrive and fix our punctured tire.  But whilst we wait, at least we can look at the road ahead and know that despite the potholes, every metre we transcend is a metre closer to our dreams.  If we were to follow our heads, no doubt there would be a helpful bypass or two en-route, ones that could make our journey that little bit easier and faster, but once we were to reach our destination, would we even feel pleased to have arrived there or would it just be considered a means to an end?

One of the biggest dilemmas in life is knowing whether to choose between your head and heart.  When the two are in conflict, it can be very difficult to make any decision at all.

But for now I’m going with my heart, simply because it knows what makes me smile, and even if it takes me down shady back-alleys and across bridges constructed of frayed rope and damp wood, at least every single step will have a purpose, a step closer to the dream.

It is down to us to firstly believe in the things we want to achieve, and then take the steps to get them, even if it means taking the riskier of the two routes.  No worthwhile lessons were made from the things we already knew.

Song of the Day:  Cults – Rave On

Fresh, anthemic indie-pop talent from Manhattan.

Roses are dead, but I prefer the chocolate version anyway

Valentines Day is coming up and we all know what that means – the lonely-hearted feeling like lepers whilst the lovers compare what wonderful gifts and surprises they’ve received from their other halves and maybe even upload the photographic evidence on to Facebook.

Splendid…

As somebody who is currently so much a single that I could probably be eligible for chart-release, I’m very much aware that to write anything anti-Valentines would likely be perceived as an unconvincing and possibly jealousy-fueled attempt to try and justify to myself why I’m currently so far from joining the growing party of peers whom have recently acquired a diamond ring on their finger.  But, I’m not here to bash relationships or romance or deny that I want those things.  I admit I would love to have that, if the right person came along… only if the right person came along.

But he hasn’t yet, so right now I can’t enjoy all the wonderful things that relationships can bring.

So what to do?  Sit and cry into a cup of commiseration coffee?  Stare at myself into the mirror until I find a million reasons to understand why I’m single?  Walk around feeling inadequate to everybody else because they managed to find somebody and I didn’t?

Of course not, because let me tell you something boys and girls – being single isn’t such a bad thing.

I know what some of you may be thinking when you read this, “Aww, poor wee lamb is only saying that because she’s single” and I guess to some extent you’re right – if I wasn’t single, I wouldn’t be writing a whole piece on why it’s not a bad thing.  Though, the truth is – there have been times in the past when I have done all the above things: detested my appearance, picked apart my personality to see what was wrong with it, and yes at times I have even felt inadequate around couples.  We live in a society which loves it’s love stories, afterall.  A lot of people who are single probably feel or have felt the same way at some point.

***“What’s wrong with me?“*** those of us without long-term partners ask ourselves as we notice the middle-aged couple several rows in front of us on the bus, squeezing each others cheeks and giggling like geese as the bus meanders through the streets of London.

But for quite a while now, I’ve begun to look at matters from an entirely different perspective.  I realise now, that the one and only reason I’m still single is simply because I haven’t met the right person yet.  I like to believe he’s there somewhere, waiting in the wings, probably necking a few shots of whisky in preparation to put up with a whole lifetime with me and the baggage I come with (my schweet’earts and my special dietary requirements of four thai curries a week).  Alternatively, maybe he’s not there at all.  Maybe he doesn’t exist.  Maybe the curry thing was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the poor guy was last seen in the back of a taxi destined for “as far away as fucking possible!”  It’s a grim vision, but not one that I can necessarily change.  Sure we can change our appearance, try and meet new people, take tips on how to flirt but even after all of that – you either have that chance encounter with the right person, or you don’t.

Obviously, I hope I won’t be single for the rest of my life, but neither do I want to slip into the dangerous territory of needing a relationship.  They may be important, but not having one doesn’t make you any less of a person and that’s something which I think the world seems to forget occasionally.  From some peoples’ perspectives, singles stick out like sore thumbs and the older they are, the larger the swelling.  The world is full of interfering busybody types who love to play matchmaker and try and create the missing link between two ‘compatible’ single people (who have only their relationship statuses and maybe a love of red wine in common, too) and that’s what contributes to that feeling of inadequacy that not being in a relationship can bring.  Well quite frankly – fuck people like that, they probably live alongside Tinky Winky and Dipsy in an area of La La Land where everybody is happy all the time and the rate of divorce isn’t 50% like it is here in the actual society in which we live.  Real life is much more complex than 120 minutes of Hollywood magic, even if we wish it wasn’t.

We are who we are and things happen how they happen, we don’t write a script in advance – so instead of feeling the stigma of being single maybe myself and others like me should just sit back and enjoy the positives.  Are there any?  Yes.  Plenty.

Ready?

Being single allows you to….

keep your options open with what you want to do in life • have the entire bed to yourself  • not have to worry about the threat of messy break-ups or the mini heart-attack that occurs when they don’t put an ‘x’ at the end of a text • not have to tell anybody what you’re doing and where you’re going • be able to change town or country as you please  • save money on the 14th February • use the money on buying yourself a new pot of foundation instead • not have to sit through really boring films about robots using complex computer systems that you don’t understand kiss Jake Gyllenhaal without having an affair • eat the whole ‘his’n’hers’ chocolate gift set not be told off when you want to do something that doesn’t align with his schedule eat KFC in bed with only yourself to disgust • wink at the waitor  •  “What are you doing? Why didn’t you reply to my text? Where are you going? Who are you going with, are any of them male? Why can’t I come with you? “  • etc etc.

In my mind, being single is like childhood.  As soon as you reach adulthood and begin that battle with your bank account, or as soon as you meet that partner that so often sends you sideways with each minor misunderstanding, you realise how simple things used to be and kick yourself for not making the most of it all.  Does that mean we shouldn’t bother with relationships at all, then?  Of course not!  You always need to try before you buy and not every shoe will fit.  The point is merely that sometimes, instead of waiting around in the shoe shop for that special sandal to come into stock and looking at your watch every five seconds to curse how late it’s getting, you could be next door buying yourself an atlas, some plane tickets and maybe a box of chocolates for good measure.  Once you’re finished with those, maybe that sandal will be on the shelf.  If not, go into another shop and buy something else, and repeat this process again and again until it is, so that by the time you’re wearing those sexy sandals that you wanted for so long, you’ll be able to say, ‘I made the most of being single’.

See the positive in everything and if you can’t, create it!

And on a slightly different note, I’ve added another new section to the site for my travels.  I’ve only done a few U.S cities so far but there’s plenty more places to come, so if you feel like going on somewhat of a trip abroad today, check out the section!

Song of the Day:  Pet Lions – Trinidad

Pet Lions are a great little power-pop band from Chicago, IL and this is the best offering from the 2011 debut LP, ‘Houses’.  Energetically laced with melody and keyboards I fail to see how even the snobbiest of musical snobs could not like this song.

A brief appreciation for the ’90s

One of the best things about having a blog is that, unlike Facebook or Twitter or whatever else all the cool kids are using these days,  you can type whatever you wish and know that people are only going to be reading it if they actively choose to open your page.  You are in absolutely no danger of clogging (what a great word) up somebody’s newsfeed, uninvited, with any of your nonsense… so you can say whatever you wish, as much as you wish.  (Plus, you don’t have to worry about any confusing and unnecessary changes to the layout… the new Facebook timeline, anyone?! Yuck.)

… And something I have always wanted to proclaim is that:  I love mid-1990’s dance music.

Don’t most of us, who are in our mid-twenties or older?

For the most part, it seems to be down to an element of nostalgia.  Hearing the likes of Snap! or Corona in a bar these days isn’t enjoyable just because of the tunes themselves, but for the memories they conjure… being a kid and hearing those same songs: Saturday-afternoons at the bowling alley in celebration of a classmate’s 9th birthday party; watching Top of the Pops on a Friday evening after spending the day at school practicing your times-tables; or simply through the foam headphones of your suitcase-sized Walkman as you listen to the chart compilation cassette you got for Christmas on a car-journey to visit the grandparents.

Hearing these songs again, in the (slightly different) environment of twenty-first century nightlife, takes us back to those days, back when we were four-feet high and had nothing to worry about besides one of the beads we’d got free inside a packet of Monster Munch snapping off from our bicycle spokes, or whether or not we were going to pass our latest swimming test.  What a blissful time it was; but all we seemed to want to do was grow up and be an adult!

Whilst browsing through some charity shops this morning, I discovered and purchased a dusty old second-hand c.d for £1.50.  Dance Zone ’94 – a compilation of chart-hits that I remember wanting to own as a 9-year old, when it was first released, but not having the money to buy it.  Today it has been the soundtrack to the rest of my day of doing work, entrapping me into a time warp, making me half-believe that John Major is still prime-minister; Oasis and Blur are still battling it out at the top of the charts, and that my responsibilities in life are little more than a picture I have to colour in for homework.

What else can I say but: feel the nostalgia, kids!

Waving Goodbye to 2011

These days in between Christmas and New Year feel like that somewhat sombre few hours right after all your guests have left a party at your house.  Weeks of excited anticipation and frantic preparation culminated in a lovely evening of celebrations with some of your nearest and dearest… but before you even had time to pour yourself a drink, time jumped forward a few hours and now your guests are gone, back to where they live, some place far away, and all you’re left with is the odd half-eaten sausage roll to sweep up from the floor and red wine stain to tackle from the carpet.  When just a few hours ago, the desk was vibrating below a speaker blaring out ’90s tunes and the room was full of laughter and chatter, you are now left with a silence which taunts you loudly: “Party has finished! Get back to work!”

And this is the feeling that seems to define these December days.  The festive spirit had engulfed us over the past month, sending it’s magic through the streets.  The Christmas shopping on grid-locked high-streets may have left us in strong need of a caffeine pick-me-up at times, but overall the season of goodwill was exactly that:  a wonderful few weeks which were all about loving, giving and being able to eat a million mince pies without feeling guilty for it.  A few days ago I was receiving Christmas cards in the post.  Today, I was receiving a P45 from an old employer and the usual friendly letter from the Student Loans Company reminding me that I owe them several thousand pounds.  Hi ho, back to a life pre-destined by paperwork we go!

Though wait, despair not, an encore appears on the horizon!  New Year’s – one final frolic before we really have to get back to down to it, but it’s not just about having a party and blowing your loudest *PHEEEEP* through a party-whistle whilst singing Auld Lang Syne.  It’s more than that.  To me, New Years is about both celebrating the good that has come from the past 12 months, and thinking about all of those things that we could have done better.  It’s an opportunity to plan out what our aims and dreams are for the year ahead.  2011 wasn’t a bad year for me, but it wasn’t the best either, and I’m hoping that the lessons learned from it can help me make  the year 2012 a whole lot better than it’s predecessor.

This is a time of year for celebration and positivity – for new starts, new challenges and a new you – stronger now from the things you’ve achieved or any problems you’ve overcome in your previous year.

And so it is with this entry I would like to wish all my family and friends a wonderful New Year.  2012.  The number alone sounds nicer and is less awkward to say than, “two-thousand and eleven” (*breathe*), and  I hope the year itself reflects that way for all whom are reading this.  Let’s hope 2012 can be a good one for us all.

Song of the Day:  Jukebox the Ghost – Good Day

An incredibly happy sounding song about… a good day, from Philadelphia talents Jukebox the Ghost.  Chorus includes bonus tongue-twister.  Did everybody say what a good day that it was for everybody who said what a good day that it was?

Cartoons: A New Section to the Site!

It must have been a moment of pure madness that convinced me that it would be a good idea to go and start my Christmas shopping on a busy Saturday afternoon in the town.  Whilst you set off in good spirits, preparing for the annual unleash of your inner-Santa and contemplating what you can buy for everybody, by the end you have ultimately morphed into Scrooge – you too would be up for banning Christmas  if it meant never having to experience the horror that is Saturday afternoon Christmas shopping ever again!

By the time I reached the town centre this afternoon my feelings of festivity had significantly dwindled.  I’d passed a man angrily hitting his girlfriend over the head with a roll of Christmas wrapping in a subway that is affectionately known as ‘piss alley’, been angrily tooted at by a bus at a zebra crossing, and been stuck behind a trio of friends walking s…l…o…w…l…y and swinging their cigarettes behind them as they sauntered along (I seem to be much less tolerant of cigarettes now that I’m an ex-smoker, than I was before I even took up the filthy habit!)

The first thing I had to do was pick up some plates from the china shop.  These plates had been specially made for my nephews’ christening in a fortnight, with each plate beautifully decorated with their names.  I watched the lady wrap them in tissue paper and, considering I was wearing a boot with a broken heel (reason number 45367536 for needing some paid work a.s.a.p!), debated asking if she could use a couple of extra layers, just in case I tripped up.  I didn’t though, possibly because I seem to lack brain cells from time to time.

With plates in hand I leave the shop and walk back along the High Street.  Town is extremely busy and I’m like a fast-flowing river, meandering rapidly around everybody so that I can get home as soon as possible.  Just as I become distracted by a stall selling scarves, Broken-Boot defies me and sends me crashing to the floor, scraping my knees and sending my shopping bags flying.  “LOOOOOOOL” jeer a small group of teenagers behind me, their sympathy knowing no bounds.  THE PLATES, THE PLATES! I think to myself, and scuttle into the nearest shop to check on their welfare.  With a combined cost of around £100, they best not have broken or I’d probably be selling my left hand to Science in exchange for money to refund the replacements as we speak.  To my relief, the plates are fine, but the whole episode has left me feeling even less festive than before.

I run to a cafe for an emergency caffeine fix to help me recover, and realise that now, all I can do about it is laugh, because it’s far more fun that way.

And that’s what the new ‘Cartoons’ section on this website is all about – trying to see the funny in the otherwise undeniably ridiculous or embarrassing.  So, please check it out by clicking here or by choosing from the menu above!  Thank you!

Happy Saturday one and all.

Song of the Day:  Hey Marseilles – Rio

A wonderfully uplifting song about the wonder of travel from Seattle band Hey Marseilles.  This song just makes me want to sack off all the things that bind us – work, housing, relationships, taxes and just travel for the rest of my life… hey, a girl can dream, right?  Enjoy.

Love is a hazard in Lower Manhattan,
You cannot escape and mustn’t be saddened,
By men who abandon your eyes for another’s,
There’s always Brazilian boys to discover!

Set your sights straight now, don’t forget pain,
Drink til the morning becomes yesterday,
Think of the shorelines you have yet to see,
Men who will hold you with eyes you believe.

On the way, I will go.
Where the days left to breathe,
Are not gone, are still long,
I am travelling on! 

Autumnal Aims

This is the first week of the year in which it has really felt like Autumn.

The last couple of weeks of September were so abnormally hot – maybe on a par with June’s weather – and so it has only been over the past few days that temperatures have noticeably dropped and the darkness has become more apparent.  I’m writing this at 18:30 and the sky outside is already a hazy shade of ash with the moon glowing through, when just a few weeks ago it would have stayed light until 21:30.

Since schooldays, Autumn has, to me, always been about new starts.  It is when the lethargy of the Summer heat suddenly transforms  into a more fresh, vibrant energy – new ideas, new goals and new plans of action.  At school and University, this normally involved joining a new club or society for the academic year, or buying a new set of stationery or bed-linen and meeting new flatmates. Nowadays it’s not quite as marked or fun as that, but its still useful as a time to review our plans and get ourselves back into the fast-lane towards our ambitions, just as society starts waking up again from it’s Summer slumber.

So we say:  Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn:

Goodbye Summer
Streets splattered in the reddy-orange hues of the changing leaves;

Adjusting our eyes to the brightness of the house-lamps that were redundant over the light Summer months;
The resurgence of Saturday night t.v as something to do in the colder climes; 
Coastal bus-rides in the pouring rain underneath transparent skies; 
Dusting off hot-water bottles and re-introducing them to your mattress;
Re-discovering socks, boots and that extremely annoying, yet cosy, winter-jacket with all the feathers stuffed inside that keep poking out and getting stuck to your cardigan.
Hello Autumn. 

Song of the Day:  Matt Pond P.A – Halloween

I love Matt Pond and his ever-changing backing band of merry men (and possibly some women too at some point, I don’t know) – the artist is in my opinion Pennsylvania’s consistently best produce since 1998.  I just love him.  If I could, I would even send him a Valentines Day card.  I’m not entirely sure what this song is about but all I know is that I can listen to it over and over and never get bored and unsurprisingly, given the title, it reminds me of Autumn, hence being this post’s song of the day.  This song makes me smiley inside and jumpy in the wet Autumn leaves and puddles!

“Into where the people were on a Saturday night…”


 

A Pause in the Park

Any 25-year old female who has a million and one things on her mind deserves at least one relaxing afternoon in a park to escape from it all and read a book.  That is my belief anyway, and it has been that way ever since I moved to Canterbury and first caught glimpse of the picturesque Dane John Gardens– a lovely, historic park enclosed within the city walls, adorned with beautiful, colourful flower beds and a pathway lined with lime trees.  “I simply must sit and read a book there one sunny day”, I have been saying to myself for the past three months, each time I pass it’s gates on the way into town.

The rather idyllic plan finally came into fruition today, when the early morning sunshine convinced me that today should be that day in which I fulfil my vision, before the impending Autumnal weather dashes my opportunities to.  I dressed and headed towards the town, and looked forward to an afternoon of sunshine, a good book, and perhaps a punnet of fresh fruit to complete an altogether rather sophisticated scenario.

Wait, sophisticated? Me?

The reality is – I forgot to bring my book, the blanket I brought to sit on keeps blowing about in the wind, and creepy-crawlies are snooping around the pack of cocktail sausages I’ve purchased from Marks&Spencer (fruit had been an option, but ultimately I succumbed to my stomach and not my head).  I feel the very opposite of a sophisticated young lady right now, more like a lumbering mess who’s fringe cannot withstand the wind.

Thankfully, I have a notepad and pen in my bag, so at least I can write.  It’s time for another hour or two of earthly observation!

Pen at the ready!

There’s a man to my left who looks very serene.  With his hat tilted over his face he lies back, relaxing against the grassy verge that slopes down from the city wall.  You wouldn’t for a moment think that just a few yards behind him, over the wall, is a traffic-laden ring road.

This park is also situated right next to the train station, and when a congregation of people appear sporadically, pulling their suitcases through the limetrees, you can tell that one of the London trains has just pulled in, as is the case now.  Visitors, or perhaps you could even call them ‘pilgrims’ make their way into the city centre, for what?  A holiday?  Studies? Visiting family, perhaps?

I just love how touristy Canterbury is.  I love walking through the streets and feeling like I could be anywhere in the world.  Watford was diverse, but not in the same way that Canterbury is.

A teenage girl strides across the grass wearing a pair of headphones that are clearly based on the retro models, with the frame that goes around the head.  She is headed towards the bandstand, where a group of teenagers are sitting, making the most of what’s left of the school holidays.

Serene old man has risen from his afternoon slumber and re-gains his bearings after an hour or two in the luxury of his subconscious.

The wind is doing my head in, and I battle to keep my food covered and my rug on the floor.  When it rains, we have umbrellas.  When it’s sunny, we have sunglasses, but what protects us from the wind?  Maybe one day, somebody will invent something that does just that.

The biggest hula hoop I’ve ever seen passes by on the shoulder of a young girl who walks in tandem with a man clutching a bunch of bright green skittles.  I assume they must be from some kind of theatrical school.  Oh please, stop and perform!  They look to be headed towards the bandstand but the group of teens remain seated and I feel a tinge of disappointment that I’m perhaps not about to be witnessing any displays of acrobatics afterall!  I also notice that one of the teens who is sitting in the bandstand has bright pink hair.

I want some candyfloss.

What is it about people-watching that captivates so many?  There may not be a great deal going on, but this is infinitely better than watching Eastenders or that silly programme I caught last night about single women competing for a relationship with Gavin Henson.  I guess it’s because, this is real life.  Forget actors, forget those who seek fame and fortune by masking who they really are and forget television programmes: If you want to enjoy an authentic slice of real life – go outside and look at it.

Two men walk past me clutching picnic equipment.  They meet a group of women sat next to the war memorial and the lady wearing pink seems particularly keen to see what food they’ve brought along with them.  I get ya, sweet’eart!

I have to strongly resist the urge I have to roll down the steep, grassy slope behind me.  Flashback to Mrs Ho telling me off for doing so during school Sports Day in year 8.  Thankfully, the sight of a lady with bright green hair sidetracks my mind.  Welcome to the 21st century!  So men, which do you prefer, blondes or brunettes?  Jet-blacks or redheads?  What about greens or pinks?

The group of teenagers sitting in the bandstand are smoking and it saddens me a bit.  If only they could appreciate how great it is to be young and carefree, instead of trying to be ‘adult’, and do ‘naughty adult things’.  Hey kids, want to be an adult?  Then why don’t we swap places.  You be 25.  You enjoy the headaches that come from trying to simultaneously figure out your career and settle your finances whilst feeling the increasing push to fund the move into a place of your own.  You do that, and I’ll be a 13 year old again, who has no responsibilities, and can sit around eating sweets all day whilst trying to perfect my rendition of Greensleeves on the recorder in time for Thursday morning’s Music lesson.  Deal?

It feels increasingly like it’s about to rain and the flash from what is obviously a very large camera held by a tourist at the top of the Dane John mound which overlooks the Gardens meets my eyes.  Where has the sun gone?  Out to lunch?

Parks are so under-rated these days.  Modern day consumerism is gradually destroying our heritage.  We have been stolen by the likes of the internet (I realise the irony of the fact that this is an online blog), plasma televisions, new shopping centres, discounted retail outlets, that we often forget about the great outdoors and the fun it has to offer.  It doesn’t cost a penny to go outside, yet there is so much inspiration to see and feel here.

I debate what do next.  Stay here and sway around battling the breeze or go home and face the important tasks that – EW, a bug on my shoulder.  How long have you been there, darling? Say hello to my finger!  Ideally I could stay here forever, but there’s paperwork to fill out and job applications to do, plus, I need to blow my nose.  It seems as though I forgot to bring tissues as well as my book.

For the second time this afternoon, a fly has found its way into my drink, rendering the remaining liquid undrinkable.  Want to buy me another, Mr Fly?  Thought not.  Cheeky sod.

I need the toilet.

The park is getting emptier.  Come back, sun!  We’re losing business, and I’m running out of things to write about.  Mind you, I do like that girl’s yellow dress.  I wonder where she got it.  I’ve been looking for one like that.  Oh, how I long to be able to shop again.

I look down and see a friend’s face flashing on my mobile phone.  I answer the phone.  You’re in town too?  Cool, so am I! Let’s meet for a coffee.  The notepad goes back in my bag, and, albeit somewhat abruptly, normal life resumes once again.

Song of the Day:     Jim Noir – Turn Your Frown Into A Smile

Oh this song is so sublimely sweet, it’s impossible to dislike it.  I was listening to this in the park at one point, and it fit so nicely.  A beautiful classic from Mancunian neo-psychedelia genius, Jim Noir.

I won’t be wearing shorts this August, but I can still post them.

It’s raining, it’s pouring, it’s August, it’s Britain.  The wind blows, the trees sway, the sky is grey… and I sit inside lumbered with a kidney infection so painful that if childbirth were to be any more painful than this, you may as well just zip me up now and start calling me the Cat Lady.  Yes, this is the epitome of a perfect Summer’s day.  Who needs strawberries ‘n’ cream when you can instead have the gourmet lunch of Diclofenac ‘n’ Cefalexin tablets?

There are a number of things I feel I could write about today, so rather than write about just one, I thought I’d do some shorts instead.  Enjoy:

R.I.P Amy Winehouse

Last week, I was shocked to receive an instant-message from a friend informing me of the death of Amy Winehouse, 27.  I can’t pretend I had ever enjoyed her music, and I had never really found her personality too appetising either, yet despite that, I was genuinely rather sad to hear the news.  To me, it is a sad reflection of the ‘other side’ of fame and fortune.  Without knowing myself what the celebrity culture is really like,  or knowing Amy personally, it would be naive of me to speculate what exactly caused her to start suddenly rolling down the hill of drug abuse, but the biggest shame is that her death appeared to happen just as she was starting to get her health and personal life back in check.  I hope that wherever she is now, she is at peace and rest.

In the meantime, I cannot help but laugh at portions of the British press and public, who were more than happy to slate and ridicule her whilst she was alive, only to now place her on the pedestal of being some kind of demi-goddess now that she is gone forever.  Such hypocrisy and mawkish sentiment is nothing if not cringeworthy, and you could even draw comparisons between this and the precedent death of ‘The Peoples Princess’ some 14 years earlier.  One can only hope that, unlike with Princess Diana, the press can leave Amy to rest without needlessly regurgitating aspects of her life years down the line in order to ‘make a good story’.  R.I.P Amy, you leave behind a legacy of a music enjoyed by many, but if the world can take anything from your story, please let it be the lesson that drugs are not the answer to either a problem, nor a need for ‘fun’.

Putting the ‘poo’ in ‘shampoo’

Owing to a recent move a couple of hours South, and a lack of money not helped by the extremely frustrating rarity of available work in the area, I have had to temporarily go to a different hair salon that’s more local for my usual cut and blow-dry, until money becomes available to me again and I can go back to Watford for one.  It’s always strange going to a different salon when you’ve been used to attending the same one for three years, and as with any kind of ‘replacement’ you cannot help but critically compare it to it’s predecessor.

There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with my haircut itself, rather, the strange experience had whilst my hair was being washed and shampoo’ed.  As I lay back with my head in the sink, trying to relax as advised by the stylist – a spindly young man in his late teens with bleached blonde hair – I closed my eyes and tried to think about soothing images to go with the gushing water trickling down my neck.  For a couple of minutes I was at complete peace with the world, until the stylist started speaking; “I had to get the train to work today, and Sittingbourne Station smelt of poo.  Then I got on the train, and that absolutely stank of poo too…. I wonder where it goes? Do you know where it goes when people poo on a train?  Like it must just go straight onto the track or something. Ewww.”  I grinned, politely, not really knowing what else to say, and the young man continued his story.  By the time we had reached the second rinse, I had heard all about a school trip he had been on as a 12 year old, when the coach got stuck in traffic in Paris and a fellow pupil had thrown up into a sock because there was no toilet on board the coach, and how the coach had also smelt of poo.  Something tells me that the editor of 2011 edition of, “The Hairdressers Handbook” tried to aim for an innovative new approach when it came to conversational tips.  Long gone are the days of being asked if you’ve booked any holidays, or whether or not you watched Eastenders on Monday night, faeces-focused folktales are here to stay!

Memories in Waves

On Monday evening we went to the beach at Tankerton for sunset and dusk.  This is the beach at which we used to own a beach-hut, some 10-12 years ago, and being back on those pebbles, looking out over that same patch of ocean I used to take my dinghy out on back in the late 1990’s, I felt a strange shiver down my spine.  For fleeting moments, I felt as though I was 13 years old again – short bedraggled hair, fringe, braces.  I remembered what my personal sphere had been like back then – school, lessons, teachers, my Backstreet Boys posters, my 8-strong group of best-friends.  I remembered all those pre-teen dramas, some of which would be playing on my mind during our weekends by the sea.  Why did so-and-so sit on a different table in Geography class – I don’t think she wants to be friends with me anymore.  What will happen if I can’t find my piece of homework about Mughal India, will I need to re-do the whole leaflet?  What if my felt-pens ran out?  When will I next see that cute boy I sometimes pass on the way home from school? Have I been invited to Rupal’s sleepover this year?

It’s funny how when you look back you wonder why you spent so long worrying or thinking about particular things that nowadays seem so insignificant.  I probably did see that cute boy again on the way home from school, but that’s all that would ever become of him – just a stranger who’d walk the Whippendell Road at the same time as me.  And it was never worth me losing any sleep over my piece of homework about Mughal India – I did end up having to re-write it, and as far as I recall I got a ‘B’, but it wasn’t a piece of work that would ever had any bearing on my future.

I compared my personal sphere then to the one I have now and marveled about how life is an on-going process of change.  My home has changed, my career direction has changed, my best-friends have changed.  Worries have come and gone, people have come and gone, jobs have come and gone.  Life is a transient motion which does not stop, and it fascinates me no end.  It can also be pretty intimidating to think that things you put a lot of focus an emphasis on now may one day, 10 years down the line, mean less to you.  Maybe things cannot be forced, maybe they can only be.  I just don’t know, but still, it interests me…  what do you think?

Song of the Day:       Super Furry Animals – The Turning Tide

In line with my third point, this is an amazing little song about the fascination of change by legendary Welsh rockers, the Super Furry Animals.

“The service was slow, my eyes began to grow into telescopes, that are looking out to a world of quick-sand-castles  on their keep, still waiting under siege for the turning tide.  Need some inspiration, time to hitch a ride on the turning tide”