Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Most Beautiful Thing Is ...

Good Evening Dear Friends!

Here we are in the study at Myrtle House once more as day slips into eve and I thought I'd share this picture of my new friend with you; her name is, appropriately enough, Joy and she is the embodiment, I hope, of an upward swing in my emotional state in comparison to the last few weeks . . . Our meeting coincided with yet more not-very-good news which was the final event in a whole series of if anything could go wrongs and after clapping eyes on her I thought rather than simply give up, it was time to maybe fight back a little!

It's been a funny old day really; one thing has lead to another and some surprisingly lovely outcomes have occurred. The day began with an unexpected text from a sweet neighbour asking me to please put her bin out as she had lost the key to the gate which protects our somewhat overgrown communal cobblestone area from the strife of everyday life. It was a little after six-thirty and I was, as is usual at this hour, a little befuddled; surely it wasn't Wednesday already? It wasn't and my apologetic neighbour conceded as much but, after discharging my bin laden duties,  I decided to take the bull by the horns (sorry Joy!) and start work on the dreaded website design for the new practice . . . this went surprisingly well and a little work in progress now graces the ether for all to see.

In between such technicalities I was, of course, keeping a weather-eye on my twitter and saw the offer of a free download of an e-book and, not being one to refuse anything for free, I went and clicked the link which, unfortunately didn't appear to work. I tried it three times without success and then sent a tweet to the author Fiona Robyn who very sweetly explained it was an issue with the release time and I should try again later. I did and got it - along with an invoice from Amazon for the three times I'd tried to downloaded it but that was quickly sorted.  Anyhow, the point I'm trying to get around to in my bumbling way is that Fiona shares a certain commonality with Yours Truly in that she is a writer and a psychotherapist and succeeds in doing what I am trying to set up in the new venture . . . and so I have joined her community which is aptly named Writing Our Way Home, and hope that this leads onto a sharing of many good and beautiful things.  By the way, the free offer ends at some point tomorrow I believe - you can check it out by clicking on Fiona's name above. The only down side of all this positivity is that I've been so fired up and keen to create I haven't had time to but skim the book; I intend to give it serious consideration later this eve.

I can feel the call of a cup of tea tugging at my heartstrings,  if such a thing is anatomically possible or merely a mixing of metaphors in response to that muse of Morpheus, so in any case I shall finish up here and hie my way down the Eiger face of the staircase to the kitchen where, I suspect, a cup of the steamy stuff may be had with even, perchance, a chocolate biscuit or three; the diet will begin . . . soonishly.

I hope the rest of your evening is a joy to behold - especially if you too have a gaudily painted bovine - and that tomorrow is bursting with happiness from the moment your eyes open.  I know that in the Wigwam the weather is supposed to be dreadful tomorrow and, I suspect, the same is to be said for most of the country, so please ensure you take my love with you to act as an umbrella.

'til next time

Be Seeing You! 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Beauty of the World has Two Edges *

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Welcome to a sunny Saturday morning with a so far cloudless blue sky painted on the windows of the study at Myrtle House and Yours Truly in a somewhat wistful mood . . . I woke this morning and thought "Why is everything so complicated?" that was it - my very first thought. Now, I must admit that I have spent many nights recently trekking in the dark, midnight woods, looking for that evasive and elusive shade called sleep; and a flare up of old physical issues means I'm walking quite a lot like a question mark which isn't exactly helping my state of mind but I was a little perturbed that my first conscious thought should be that . . .

Then, after some consideration and deliberation, I asked myself the question again; why does everything have to be so complicated? And the answer is, of course, that it doesn't . . . as Thoreau wrote in Walden which first saw the light of day in 1854: 

"Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify, simplify! ... Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose". 

I suppose it would be easy to say glibly "Ah well, that was then, this is now - life was a lot simpler then" and I expect that, to a degree, it is true; and you have to take into account that the book is an account of two years he spent living in a cabin by Walden Pond in woodland near Concord, Massachusetts experimenting with self-sufficiency and he was only able to do that because his friend and mentor Emerson footed the bill, as it were but, nonetheless (how I love that word) I think we could do worse than consider his advice when weighing up the direction our life is taking.

By 'our' life I do, of course, really mean mine.  I think it is a modern day myth and cause of much sadness to me personally that, in order to live the simple life, it seems one must wade through a sea of complicatedness first - any one who has tried to set up a 'simple' wireless network in their home knows this first hand - but I think it is because we all of us see the world as a complicated place and so make our lives more complicated than strictly necessary in order to fit in. We are so aware of,  and so able to respond to, the many connections that exist that we feel somehow bound and obliged to do so; I am never further than a foot away from my iPhone and its stunning array of apps to help me organise my life and communicate with people and consider their connections and . . . well, it all gets so complicated, doesn't it!

And so the morning slips on and I contemplate such concepts as, among others,  the delayed gratification that seemed so prevalent in my childhood but which now no longer seems to exist; having said that I recognise that I am just as guilty of wanting things now rather than later although I could excuse this as an example of my buddhist (with a very small b) lifestyle where I live purely in the now, but I feel that would be cheating ever so slightly, especially as I know that the things in themselves aren't the answer.  We do use them to fill the gaps and chasms that exist in our lives; the gratification doesn't last however and the hunger returns with a vengeance  . . . 
I recall a fantastic line from the wonderfully charming and feel-good film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a film which I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, by the way, despite some shoddy reviews - in which a very curmudgeonly Maggie Smith is told that she may have to wait six months for a medical procedure and responds with "Six months? I can't wait six months! At my time of life I don't even buy green bananas!" which resonates so deeply with Yours Truly that it could almost be mistaken for ultrasound! 

So, given that a level of complicatedness has to exist at least momentarily, what does the week ahead hold in store? Well, on the professional side of things, furniture has been moved into the new premises and titivation needs now to occur - along with the procurement of stuff like desks and chairs as we have tripled our space but not our furniture - and then, once all that's been done, and bids written, and surveys undertaken, and workshops designed and fun events co-ordinated . . . Hmmm; maybe I should just sit here in my study and write? Ah, but were it possible! Sadly, unless some money rolls in this particular "Room of One's Own" won't be one's own for much longer and so the necessary evils once again take precedent and with noses to the grindstone and shoulders to the wheel it's no wonder my back is so bad  . . . why is life so complicated?

I hope your weekend is simply wonderful and wonderfully simple; like me, the youthful morning's blue sky is slowly greying and so I'd take an umbrella just in case but have fun whatever you do and - since April showers bring forth May flowers - I think we can all look forward to a blooming lovely Spring! 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

*The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder ~ Virginia Woolf

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Let Us Always Meet Each Other With Smiles *

Good Morning My Dear Friends!

And so, it seems, it is Easter Sunday; all over the country people are celebrating the major event in the religious calendar of the most popular faith by eating chocolate for breakfast . . . being of buddhist (with a small b) leaning I am doing no such thing, although a bar of organic plain may get a bashing later on in the proceedings . . . So welcome, friends; make yourself at home and I'll see about rustling a spot of tea and toast for breakfast . . .

I hope you like the pic on todays offering; it is a print made by the very talented Seb West who is based at Towednack, on the outskirts of St Ives. Seb is one of the artists whose work I used to lust after when I visited the town I considered to be my spiritual second home; to my eternal shame and regret I never got to buy any of his work although, should Dame Fortune ever give me a second glance - much less smile on me -  that is a situation I would gladly rectify. By the way, I hope you will have noticed that I have recently started linking the people I mention in this blog to their websites by hyperlinks; this is a way of giving you a chance to learn more about them and also paying them back for their kindnesses to me whether known or unknown . . . so if you could click on the link - as in Seb's above - I would appreciate it. Talking of spiritual homes, another place that always felt that way to me and is similarly different is Deya, a wonderful village in the north of Mallorca that I visited once and with which I fell in love; my friend the poet and musician Daevid Allen lived there, next door to author Robert Graves and other authors and painters of note . . . an amazing collection of talents in that one small place.

So what plans are afoot today? Hmmm, a very good question; I should do some writing and possibly some reading - Virginia is tugging at my conscience and I have a book of short stories by Ian Rankin to review - not to mention my dear old K9 DomQuad currently snoring at the side of the desk  who will at some point wish to venture afield despite the predictably awful weather . . . but I have an urge simply to curl up and watch an old film, maybe Rebecca, with the lovely Joan Fontaine (see above) . . . she is in the film btw, not curled upon the sofa with Yours Truly! 
One aspect of the film that intrigues me is the fact that we never learn her character's name; we know that her husband is the wealthy and eligible Max De Winter, played with icy disdain by Laurence Olivier; and the name of his first wife, the eponymous Rebecca (who remains unseen) and even the exceptionally creepy housekeeper Mrs Danvers - played superbly by the fabulous Dame Judith Anderson - but Joan's character is only ever referred to as Mrs DeWinter, my dear etc.  She and Max meet when she is acting as companion to an annoying american woman named Edythe Van Hopper (Florence Bates) and accompanying her around the Riviera.  Mrs Van Hopper - a social climber - fauns to Max saying that "Most girls would give their eyes for a chance to See Monte [Carlo]" to which Max replies "Wouldn't that rather defeat the object?"  Lovely stuff! 

Anyhow, we shall see; plans are, like the dominant weather system, mainly fluid and subject to change without advanced warning! I can't see me being whisked away for unknown treats and delights which would, of course, be rather fun; so a quiet and secluded day seems on the books . . . which is fine because, after all, you can always pop in and visit whenever you choose. I suppose I could even get around to updating the long-neglected Myrtle House blog although that does seem a rather energetic and somewhat radical move - we shall see how the day progresses.

And with that thought I shall leave you to your Easter; I hope you enjoy the day and the Bank Holiday to follow and that love hops after you and multiplies like bunnies do

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

* Let us always meet each other with smiles; for the smile is the beginning of love ~ Mother Theresa

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Summoned By Bells

Good Evening Dear Friends!

And what a bizarre kind of evening it is weather-wise with Aberdeenshire - where I used to spend many a happy hour in the mid '80s  - shivering under a traditionally imperial 6 inches (rather than the modern metric 15 cm) of snow whilst other parts bask in Spring sunshine . . . here in the Wigwam it is somewhat grey and darkling with the ever present possibility of brighter later seemingly more probably a wetter sooner !

So what has Yours Truly been up to since last we met? Well, I went along to the Stephen Armstrong event (see picture above) and met not only the very charming man himself but another author named Danny Dorling with whom I chatted statistics -  and yes, it was very interesting thank you, oh doubting ones!  - along with the very lovely and talented soprano Jane Collier . . . I have a copy of Stephen's book "The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited" which I will be reviewing and of which I shall say more later.  The event, which took place at Sunshine House in Scholes a mere stone's throw from where Dear Old George stayed when he came to Wigan in the '30s, was very well attended and there were so many familiar faces there that I could have spent an entire evening shaking hands and kissing proffered cheeks; especially those of my dear friend and artist extraordinaire Poppy Fields with whom such social collisions are always so pleasurable!

Today was spent on a variety of tasks involved in the process of trying to be grown up and professional - which, as fellow 11 year olds will vouch, is a tad difficult not to say boring - and a more pleasurable set of activities involving not one but both of my sisters.  First and foremost it was off to Costa for the initial visit where Vicky, Sally and Shoana (hope that's the correct spelling) went out of their way as always to make us feel welcome.  The Sisters  sat scoffing - cake, not in derision - whilst I tried once again to explain to Cate the theory behind the correct fitting of a toilet seat; this included demonstrating the eccentric nature of the seat and lid fastening which allows for adjustment along the length of the toilet by use of the also-eccentric Costa saucers . . . fuelled thus we set off into the less than pleasant climes and popped over to the Parish Church of All Saints which, this being Holy Week, was open for visitors other than on a Saturday.

It really is an amazingly beautiful and often over-looked church, the present building dating for the most part from around 1840 but the first mention of the church being in the Doomsday Survey of 1086.  As well as enjoying the beautiful peace and tranquility and gorgeous architectural features, it was also good to revisit the scene of the Sisters' baptism (many years ago!) and to remember the Old Duchess who 'belonged' to the church as she would have said; a real pity she couldn't be there in person to enjoy today.  It was fascinating to chat to the very friendly helpers who were there to meet and greet visitors and, in the ensuing conversation, I learned that the Church has been successful in bidding for Heritage Lottery funding to allow the restoration of 15th century altar pieces and the Chancel reredos; the project will also provide an opportunity to learn about the importance of the church in the history of Wigan.  
If you're free this week I would urge you to pop along and have a look and, if possible, to add your name to the visitors book; the funding body always wants to see that the community visits the building at times other than for services. It is also a venue for all types of musical events and deserves perhaps more support from the community of Wigan than it receives.  The picture, by the way, is of a window I particularly liked; it is set in the south wall and depicts angels representing Mercy, Truth, Righteousness and Peace.

I thought for a brief moment I could hear thunder but I realise that it is, in fact, the rumbling of my intestines as they cry pity and long for the Chicken Dopiaza I obtained from the "It may look a funny colour but it's still nearly edible!" section at Morrisons; and so with thoughts of you all still reverberating like a ring of bells in my head I shall end this mercifully short tragical history tour of my mind and say toodle pip with hopes that your love keeps you warm in the snow!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !