Tuesday, 30 November 2010

a shocking discovery....

...there's another 'me'. 

I've started to make contact with companies and other organisations to boost my writing and teaching activities.  I thought I would check my online profile as I'm aware that those I've contacted may take a little time to check it out.  I chose to write this blog anonymously because initially I wanted to write more freely and I wasn't sure how long I would blog, what I would write about etc.  I think my real name is on a handful of websites such as School of Everything.

Anyway, I googled 'me' and up popped another 'me' on Facebook.  I don't do Facebook.  If I wanted to meet people, I'd go out or join a group or see my friends in the real world.  Nevertheless, I had to look.  The temptation was too much.

'Me' on Facebook is a perfectly nice woman with quite a few friends.  I have to say, however, that I'm a bit miffed that I can't now claim my own name on Facebookplanet.  I'll have to contrive a name with numbers or with my middle name.  She also seems to have more friends than me.  I quickly left her profile as it all felt a little peculiar.  My name, someone else's life.  I should never have looked!  Can I claim my name back?  I can't think anyone would want to participate in such a trade.  My online future, I fear, may be doomed.

Monday, 29 November 2010

more or less?

I've been thinking about aspiration and satisfaction, how some people are adept at accepting and embracing the present and existing, and others prefer to pursue the other, the bigger, the better, the more.

This thinking was brought about by a chat I had with the man who presses the apples from our apple trees every year.  We discussed all sorts of subjects but the topic that got me thinking was about how companies (and perhaps people) can almost get too big.  If everyone wants the biggest market share and competes aggressively to get it, at what point are they happy with that market share and if they never are, what happens if something goes wrong or if the market collapses?

Is this business practice just the same as trying to out-do your neighbours with your car or your lifestyle?  I'm no economist (you might have guessed), but presumably there's only so much market to grab and there's only so much money in customers' purses.  It doesn't matter if the shops are always open if we poor consumers only have so much cash.  Surely we then just spend the same over a longer period of time?

I do know, however, that I'm over wanting 'more'.  I think I've realised that unless the lottery god picks me out, I've neither the talent or the perseverance to strive for anything much more than I have.  Of course, I like the idea of Birkins and Mulberrys and Cartiers but, let's face it, they wouldn't go with my New Look jeans.

PS:  Who else is delighted that Wagner has been flung back to obscurity....could it be Ann's turn next?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

"Kwills" - the wedding

Now, before you read this, please note that I wish any couple getting married the very best of luck and love.  I am happy that our most recent famous betrotheds have set a date.  I have no malicious thoughts towards them or their nearest and dearest.  However, my initial thoughts on the Royal Wedding are thus:


- we'll all get more time at home or on holiday next April

- we can think about K's dress (will she go for British design or cast the net/veil wider?)

- thinking about K's dress will distract us from balancing our domestic and, indeed, national budget deficits after Christmas and the VAT increase

- the dress will knock the ConDem's gradual destructive twiddling of our lives off every front page, thereby reducing the prospect of public protest and disruption to our town centres

- we get a day off

- we'll find out how much it's all going to cost and be able to compare it with the cost of an 'average couple's wedding'

- there will be fewer pictures of Katie Price on the cover of 'OK!' at the supermarket checkouts

- we get an extra day off

- reality TV shows will be replaced by programme after programme of idenitikit Hoorays talking about their friends the Kwills, what they were like at nursery, how they behaved at uni, how lovely they both are which will stop me watching so many hours of reality TV (note to self: must post about GK on IACGMOOH)

I really do wish the happy couple the very best of luck and I hope they have a lovely day with their family and friends.  I might even watch their arrival at Westminster Abbey on the telly but do we really need to have five months of vicarious wedding planning?

Monday, 22 November 2010

in praise of knees

...or, rather, Knees, Malmesbury's department store. 

Before I posted this, I googled Knees, expecting to get a list of bone and joint supplements.  I find, however that Knees has a very respectable website with, dare I say it, the option of online ordering.  You can find Knees here.

There is a Knees in sunny Trowbridge but our local Malmesbury branch is my subject today.  When living in London, there was nothing I liked better than a bit of Saturday afternoon department store browsing.  Department stores are a great thing.  Lots of different brands in one lovely shop with opportunities for refreshment.  I've always loved the fact that you know there will be cosmetics on the ground floor and haberdashery will be up in the sky somewhere.  I've loved them all: Selfridges, Harrods, Dickens & Jones and especially Liberty.  I have taken to visiting John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway when stressed as I find their kitchen department incomparably soothing.  All is right in the world when contemplating the plethora of egg cups when you know that they will never be knowingly undersold.

Knees is in a class of its own.  Its current window display contains a family of porcelain meerkat figurines.  Something that every home should have.  For a department store in a tiny town, it has a wide selection of ornaments and china.  I often wonder who buys them and where they put them.  It's one of those little mysteries I like to have a think about. 

Dubious porcelain apart, Knees is the best store ever.  I would estimate that Knees is 99% effective in the search for any domestically required item. Brewing your own beer?  Visit Knees.  Baking a cake and want a liner?  Pop to Knees.  Bird food?  Knees.  Seals for ancient Kilner jars - yes, you've guessed it.  I suspect that Knees has saved more women from culinary drama than you or I could possibly imagine and it has a wider variety of vacuum cleaner bags that I knew existed.

Now, if only it sold Dr Haucshka, Origins and Ren....and there was a cafe. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

double digits

That's it.  My baby is 10.  Today.  She appeared at our bedside this morning at 7am having got up at 10pm, 11pm, 11.30pm with an attack of the anticipations.  We've had two significant birthdays this year, both marking time that we'll never get back but both marking the start of new things and a new way of family life. 

Things I expect:
- fewer visits from the tooth fairy
- less TV freedom as they stay up later and later
- about the same amount of tantrums but over quite different matters
- poverty brought about by insatiable teenage appetites
- an extra dryer as the clothes get bigger
- afternoons of boredom waiting outside changing rooms in Bristol
- less plastic in the house, perhaps
- hormonal fluctuations (from at least 3 of us)

I don't think I can bring myself to anticipate anything else - as long as we're all healthy, calm and happy and there's food in the fridge, I'm happy.

Monday, 15 November 2010

let the festivities commence!

I admit it, I've started my Christmas shopping.  I have cards, wrapping, presents and food underway.  I know exactly what will happen.

- I will 'lose' the wrapping paper because I'll hide it somewhere and forget about it

- I will eat at least one Terry's Chocolate Orange

- I will forget that whilst loading the credit card with gifts I also added a few 'personal items' that will jolt me into financial panic in the New Year

- I will forget to send at least five of the Christmas cards I write

- I will give in to the mass Christmas card sending that occurs amongst E's friends at schools despite protesting every year that we should just donate a goat to a poor soul somewhere else (no-one needs any more unrecyclable cardboard in their house)

- I will forget to book my online delivery and end up sitting outside a supermarket at sparrow's fart one morning during the week before Christmas

- I will forget that shop-bought mince pies contain about 750 calories each before I eat a packet one drizzly day in December

- I will re-name a long-lost relative causing irreparable insult resulting in one less second class stamp next year

- I will be harrassed by my children for insisting that all Christmas lights should be clear or white and definitely not 'phased' or 'pulsing'

- I will wonder why turkeys are so much more expensive than chicken

- I will name my turkey Claudia or Alesha or Tess (feel free to vote)

- I will have a lovely time with the people I love and care about the most. 

Friday, 12 November 2010

blown about....

It's the 4th morning this week that I've stepped out of the house and found myself in a gale.  I can see though that the wind is settling and I hope today will be a calmer affair.

We watched Tom Ford's 'A Single Man' last night.  Not exactly the Worker's cup of tea but very moving and beautifully made.  Like 'Mad Men' it had an authentically nostalgic feel and (as you'd expect from TF) an incredible attention to detail on costume and set.  I'm never quite sure about Colin Firth (sorry) but he was quite brilliant.  I hope he makes more like this and less like 'Love Actually' (although I always cry at that bit when Emma Thompson finds out about nasty husband's infidelity and smooths down the sheets before she pulls herself together).

Anyway...I digress.  We had our 'group crit' yesterday.  It was a bit like being in a gale.  There's a lot of diversity in our small group in terms of work and approach.  One minute we were looking at beautifully textured landscape paintings, the next we were contemplating wire 'growing' from the installation room.  There was lots of talk and lots of discussion until the group came to my space.   I have two sets of work going on - random sketchbook 'experiments' and a more considered project, examining collections and how the ordinary can be made extraordinary.  There's not a lot of drawing going on.

The only people who spoke were one of the other students and the tutor.  I welcomed the howling wind subsiding but I'm not sure I wanted to hear such peace and quiet yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Lucas North is dead....

....just like the ending of 'Thelma and Louise', LN went over the edge last night and just as I still believe T&L survived, I believe that Lucas somehow got a Soviet chopper to sweep him up and take him to a safe house.  Poor Harry looked a bit sorry for himself.  I'm not sure I'm enamoured with the next batch of spies and operatives but I'm sure I'll get hooked again if the series returns.

We watched 3 hours of 'Spooks' last night, I insisted we caught up on the episodes we'd missed before watching the finale.  I was a little strung out by the end and realised that my airport paranoia can be directly tracked to Spooks Series 1 and beyond.  Last night's episode of hacking and surveillance had my stress levels flying about like a sparrow in windy weather.  I am not MI5 material.

So...now Spooks has finished but IACGMOOH (celebrity jungle japes) starts on Sunday with, I hear Mr Boy George and Jedward.  Can this be true?  Of course, I won't be watching, I'll be reading 'The Iliad' whilst listening to 'Wagner' (not Vargner, silly).

I'm having a very pleasant couple of days, enjoying peaceful hours during school time and enjoying the feeling of my feet being attached, in my slippers, quite firmly to the ground.  I did a little exercise yesterday but made sure, at all times, that at least one foot was planted firmly and squarely.  I did not put my feet above my head at any point.

I've done admin, and am keeping the house clean.  I've even bought some Christmas presents and started to think about Christmas cake.  It's just been really nice to be at home, pottering about.

There is, of course, the slight matter of wealth creation to attend to.  My teaching commitments are likely to be scuppered by the cuts in the near future so I need to revive that CV and create some opportunities.  I like that part of self-employment.  I put it down to the fact that I regularly trawled a variety of shops and businesses throughout my teens and early twenties to find work.  My greatest success was finding a job two hours after a particularly nasty row with an existing Saturday employer (a bit like Voldermort, his name can not be uttered) in a toy shop, for more money and better breaks.  There's nothing like a bit of self-determination to cheer a body up.

I digress....college beckons tomorrow and we have our first 'group crit' on Thursday.  There are two reasons this makes me slightly nervous.  Firstly, my work is, shall we say, a little minimal.  Secondly, we are a small group of students and although we are getting to know each other, a few misinterpreted comments about our first attempts could be problematic.  Our tutor is lovely and skilled in such matters, I'm sure but as anxious I am about what comments my own work will illicit, I'm not sure how to approach commenting on the work of others.   Deep breaths and a large flask of coffee will be required.

Right...off now to clear away the ironing and get out the sketchbooks....

Saturday, 6 November 2010

extended leave....

We've been away.  We've been far away.  We visited Mickey and Harry and Homer in Orlando.  It was a big trip.  A big trip with big rides, big food, big walks, big domestic appliances, big cars.  It was a fortnight of visiting, queuing and flying about in the air.  It was fantastic to do something so different and so full-on.  Everything was bright and noisy and hot and shiny. 

I have to say I'm now pooped!  We're a week back and I'm relying on herbal something-or-others to stay asleep beyond 2am.  I'm told this will wear off by Monday.  We were 6 hours behind UK time and apparently it takes a day for every hour of time change to recover.  Who knows? 

I know that I'm enjoying many of the things I'd got fed up with before we went which, I suppose, is one of the purposes of a holiday.  I love my bed.  I had a great time going to the supermarket to finish re-stocking the cupboards.  I'm enjoying our country roads and the quiet rurality of our surroundings. 

The best thing about coming home for me was the fact that friends had house-sit for us whilst their house was being 'done up'.  I'd tried to tidy up before we left but dear C (the temporary lady of the house) did us proud.  Even the fridge was defrosted with a home-made lasagne and salad ready for us when we got back.  I know she and P appreciated our house while we were away but I would be very grateful if they could move in every time we went anywhere.  Their appreciation is matched if not surpassed by ours. 

So...it's been back to normality.  We got back on Monday evening with school, work and college beckoning by 9am on Tuesday.  Not to be recommended but there are still four of us and we're all talking to each other.  I'd expected a big comedown and a seismic meltdown on Thursday but so far so good. 

We're now on the countdown to E's birthday - the gift list changes daily and Christmas, of course.  I know from the last ten years that I need to get a little bit ahead.  Now.  This year especially as I have a college deadline and a possible trip to Paris to fit in before the end of term.  I can feel a list coming on.

Happy Fireworks!