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Category: Writing (page 2 of 7)


It’s cold.  I don’t know whether I view the past with rose-tinted glasses or whether our weather really is warmer, but it seems to me ages since we had a really cold proper winter.  Spending a lot of time at home at the moment means I have to watch the heating (fortunately  the flat is warm anyway), but as much as I enjoy being at home warm and curled up, living in London you are aware of how many people live on the streets and that this is just a particularly horrible time of the year.

I’ve also become aware in recent days that people keep their curtains closed during the day when they are at home to keep warm, and denying ourselves daylight, particularly now when days are short, is really unhealthy.  Look at the size of windows on expensive houses or apartments, and look at them on standard housing.  If you are wealthy you will have acres of glass in your housing. Developers keep costs down by fitting minimum size windows, which means many, many people do not get enough daylight.  I have worked with children who have been at the beginning of developing rickets.  And it effects mental health.  Take daylight away and we will suffer from depression.  So  try and get as much exposure to daylight as you can.  It has been a relatively sunny autumn and sunshine cheers everyone up.  Sadly daylight is a luxury some people cannot afford.

(I’m a bit gloomy today, hence seriousness of above post – need a job….)

More Gym Talk

I overheard two men talking today but couldn’t see them.  One said out of the blue “Why do people lie?” and then started pouring his heart out that a woman had said she’d meet him and hadn’t.  He was quite upset and the man he was talking to (they didn’t sound as if they knew each other), was very sweet and sympathetic.  Even suggested he read some poetry.

I really wanted to see who they were so hurried up drying myself so I could walk past them on the way to my lockers.  There was Greek man in his sixties on his own so I presumed they had gone.  A tall black guy probably in his early thirties walked past me – and I heard the two voices start up again.  The older man was the one who had been let down, and the younger guy was his sympathetic listener.


On Saturday evening I went to a Memorial of a dear friend of mine who died a year ago. I knew her from a school I taught at where she specialised in Drama with the children.  But at her funeral last year this extraordinary life appreared I knew little about. She was trained as an actor and worked steadily in TV series from the 1970’s through to the around 2000 I think. She was very politiclly active and played a big part in the community of her Synagogue in North London.  I learned at her funeral, if I remember correctly, she was the first woman to read from the Torah there. She wrote poetry and plays.

A long time ago I broke my leg, and even though I didn’t know her very well at that time, because she lived fairly near me she offered to drive me to school and back, and she did so over some weeks.  That’s how I really got to know her.  She has a son of whom she was immensely proud – especially when he got arrested for protesting. He is a composer and musician and now he is starting to make his name. Her ex-husband with whom she continued to be on good terms  worked in television, directing some well-known series and dramas.

She had two dogs when I knew her.  First was Ella (after Fitzgerald) and when she died she couldn’t live long without another one, and so along came Billie (Holiday) who had the same spirit of adventure and love of life as her owner. When she became ill she had to give Billie away and I know that would have broken her heart.  I used to walk on  around Ally Pally with them, or bump into them at the local shopping street. She went to my yoga class (without Billie) for a while but gave up because there were too many Sun Salutations!

I still pass where she used to live on one of my regular bus routes. She came to my birthdays and was just enormously kind.  I really miss her. At the Memorial which involved a group of known (Miriam Margolyes, Marion Bailey and David Horovitch as well as Mike Leigh) and unknown actors performing four of her plays, I heard her acute ear for dialogue; the plays were funny, angry and deeply compassionate.  Marilyn never seemed to take anyone or anything at face value.  I wonder what she would have made of Trump. She was forever telling me off if she sensed me  spouting a received opinion (as I usually do). It was a lovely evening including two recordings of her voice. I’m so proud to have known her.


These two boys were sitting in an exquisitely beautiful, tiny chapel in France. The picture makes me laugh because it reminds me of how I used to feel at their age.  And still do although now I am supposed to hold such feelings in.  I sometimes fail to do this in the cinema or theatre and (apparently) start sighing a lot out loud.  I have a friend who used to come out of meetings with pages of detailed and rather lovely doodles which everyone in the meeting would have seen her making.  I never worked out how she got away with it other than no one wanted to confront her.  Last Christmas another friend bought me a mug with a Ladybird book cover on it: Shopping With Mother.  It reminded me of the times I went shopping with my own mother when I was a child and the excruciating boredom I went through, though I can’t remember what she was doing.  Trying on and buying clothes?  I still feel like this inside now and come close to behaving badly.  What holds me back is not that it would be considered as childish behaviour, but rather I don’t want to be rude to people – although I have failed really badly at this on a few occasions in the past and paid the price in the consequences.  I went to a series of talks recently, and the amount of people playing on their mobiles was astonishing.  Maybe some were taking notes but I could see a lot weren’t.  I was bored but I respected the fact that the speakers had taken the time and energy to put together their presentations and so I made an effort to look as if I was listening.   There’s a difference between being bored because you haven’t got anything to do (arguably those days are gone in the advent of mobile phones) and being bored by a situation.  I’m very reserved in public situations and would much rather observe than seek out people to talk to.  Hopeless as I am now trying to get a job.  That’s partly because I dread getting talking to some I don’t find interesting – I’m quite aware I bore other people – and I haven’t the social skills to get myself out of it with ease and charm as some people can.  Part of me will be screaming LET ME OUT OF HERE and a bigger part will see me through with a few  sighs and some feet shuffling. I’ve got to go to an event tonight and there’s a fair chance I’ll be bored and won’t talk to anyone.  Does it matter? Why go? Well, you never know.  I may be surprised.

Gym Music

Usually the music piped into the gym changing rooms is plinky plonky calming piano or orchestra stuff.  However today we had in the following order:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (presumably exercise motivation)

Staying Alive (presumably for after the heart attack)

Spirit In The Sky (presumably you don’t stay alive)

Dancing Queen (presumably for the funeral guests,  or life in Heaven)


Gym Talk

I was tempted to repeat my gym changing room sign photo (see below) due to the delightful responses it received but my priority here is for safe entertainment and not to choke readers on their coffee.

Yesterday I was treated to a fascinating demonstration of feet drying with a hairdryer.  It shamed my own yoga position efforts

I try and swim about three times a week, and one expenditure I am clinging onto with dear life is my gym membership fee because it has an excellent 25m swimming pool which is usually fairly quiet and swimming keeps me calm and sane.  And more to the point there are NO CHILDREN.

In the past I have always gone swimming at the gym after work: around 6/7pm.  I noticed that conversations in the men’s changing room (I keep myself to myself and do anything to avoid verbal interaction with those around me) always tended to focus on football or the physical activity that has just been completed/is about to be started.

Now I have more time on my hands I start the day swimming, so am usually there between 9/10am.  I have noticed that conversations at this time tend to focus on hip and knee replacement operations.

Never Go To Bed Angry

Stay awake all night and plot your revenge.

Life Update (quick)

I’ve a busy weekend and may have no more time to write, so for anyone who cares:

  • I’ve run out of money – completely
  • I’ve had a magazine article proposal accepted and will get small payment as long as I can get the three interviews it needs organised. My first paid writing for a long long time.
  • I was planning at this point to be doing some home tutoring but getting onto the books is like pulling teeth, which has buggered up my financial plans
  • I may have some ‘consultancy’ work. (That’s a word that covers a multitude of evils haha)
  • I’m taking part in a voluntary paid study – needs must and more on this later
  • I’m remarkably calm thanks to keeping a daily routine which involves exercise, and some simple Mindfulness practice
  • I wasn’t calm when I got home from shopping today due (amongst other things) to a large Primary school trip in the supermarket and a tiny baby in an enormous buggy on the bus
  • I’m listening to an Audible Original: Six Degrees of Assassination.  One of the most gripping things I have heard for a long time.  Full review when I have finished
  • I love Bargain Hunt and Strictly and would happily take part in either if anyone is asking
  • I can’t tell you how glad I am that Halloween is over
  • Bonfire Night is now like a week of living in a war zone
  • I’m locked horns in battle with the cat (that’s not her pictured)

Now, back to the kitchen.  I get so tense cooking my shoulders hurt.  If I went on Masterchef I think I would collapse.

To Work Or Not To Work

Well, if only it was that simple.  Truth is I’ve some bits and bobs but not nowhere near enough money coming in.  I’m applying for jobs and writing to organisations that appeal to me most days.  One application can easily take four hours to complete.  That time aside, however , no work means that I have time now to swim three mornings a week – which sets me up for the day mentally and physically – to clean, to clear out years of accumulated stuff in the the flat, to really focus on my piano playing, but most importantly I have had the time to spend with ailing parents and  to help look after a terminally ill friend. If I had a full time job, boy would I be struggling if able to do those things at all.  Goodness knows I have worked hard all my life and  to have such time is so important- but I have no income.

I am determined not to go back to supply teaching but I am realising how hard it is to rid myself of the label “teacher”.  I’ve only done it for the past nine years, but once a teacher you are always perceived as a teacher as if you cannot do anything else – despite the fact the skills and experience it gives you are invaluable and can easily transfer into all sorts of other jobs.  But you are just a teacher.

I have no chance now of earning anywhere near my teachers’ pay.  I have to go back to the beginning. Which is why I am having to take as much emphasis off my teaching career as I can.

Even as I write this I wonder how spoilt and privileged I sound.  And I am.  But I still need an income and changing careers right now is proving really tough.  It’s not a mid life crisis: I am of the generation who won’t be retiring at 65.  I am going to have to work long past that, and so I want to do the best for myself that I can.

This situation with so many positives has got to change pretty damn quick.

A Dilemma And A Question

Long story short.  I have no work at present and annoyingly I am about to have to renew my web host’s services (i.e. if I don’t the website disappears).

I can’t really afford  the money right now, but I love the blog because it keeps my creative juices flowing a bit and so helps my well-being.

I don’t honestly know who reads, likes or hates this blog.  So I am asking you, dear readers, would you like me to keep it going?  If I get an overwhelming positive response (hem-hem) I’ll find the money and continue on.