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Disabling Myself

If, like me, most of your duties involve being at home then you will understand the fuzzy place where I live and work.
We have a shop. My part in the business takes place entirely in the home office: answering emails, arranging payments, filing, accounting, working out wages, etc. Conversations in the home are sometimes shop related, sometimes home and family related, sometimes a weird combination of the two because they are necessarily involved. My husband’s days off vary enormously. We rarely know how many hours he will work from one week to the next and when he does have a day off, he still makes and receives regular work-related phone calls. In fact, he never has a complete day off. I hate that.
In 17 years, we have never spent a bank holiday together as a family. We have never spent a summer together as a family. He takes 2 days off at Christmas and works New Year’s Day.
It’s not all bad of course. Having your own business has distinct advantages. He picks up our daughter from school and he has random pockets of free time on weekdays when we can go for a walk together or he can take everyone out of the way so I can finish an OU assignment, or the VAT, or a story I’m writing. He has more time off than most in the winter (but unfortunately it’s when the children are at school)

No, the major problem is the fuzziness. I am always among ‘The Things That Need Doing.’ My OU coursework is here, my writing is here, the bookwork is here, the household duties are here. Is the free time here?
Angst. Always.
Right now, for example, I have a list of things to do in the office, in front of me is a kitchen that needs cleaning and a pile of dishes waiting to be washed, I have 2 weeks of studying for one of my OU courses to catch up with and three quarters of a 4,000 word story to write for my other. The washing machine is zooming the latest load up to its final spin, which means that needs hanging out, there are some seeds to be planted in the garden before it’s too late and a six-year-old has just whizzed past me from the sandpit into the sitting room and I need to find out what she is doing. And all the bins need emptying. All stuff that needs doing … well, now really.
This is my life, my work, my family and my free time, all in the same place. It’s confusing. I’m never completely at work and I’m never completely off work either.

Yesterday, I felt very tired and was supposed to be in the home office completing the quarterly accounts, but for some reason I felt compelled to garden. So I did. I was fed up, distracted, wondering how I was going to get through another summer where we as a family did everything the opposite way to other families. I was feeling like a bad mother; always tired, always distracted, always frantic, always having something that needed doing before I could do anything enjoyable or even simply listen to someone. Not having weekends, never knowing where the work/home boundary lies and never allowing myself to relax – not during the day anyway, means that sometimes life is a fuzzy mix of everything and nothing and occasionally it is not clear if anything is being achieved.
I think attacking the garden was a symbol of me trying to hack away the clutter that I alone simply cannot deal with. In the garden, though, I can see and feel how I physically remove things. It was therapeutic.
Until, that is, I was forced to stop. Everything. Completely.
I almost chopped off the end of my finger.

Today I am temporarily partially disabled. I can only do what I only can do. I asked my son to make his sister a sandwich and help move the slide in the garden and clear a pile of cuttings. I asked my six-year-old to hold some towels that I was taking off the washing line. I sat in the sun and had a think about what I am capable of with a gashed finger and I followed a few links to interesting articles about writing – something I would normally have saved somewhere until I thought I had earned or deserved the time (which is usually never!) I photographed our daughter climbing a tree and we had a chat about seeds and birds and – yes – bees!
She and her brother haven’t fought once today because I’ve been around them the whole time so there’s no need for conflict or power struggles.
I have not torn from one job to the next in a whirl, thinking, ‘This next, that, next, can’t stop.’ Instead I’ve plodded around with my left hand on my right shoulder, thinking, ‘That can wait. Can’t do that one-handed. Maybe someone else will do that for me. That’s nice apple blossom, that’s a busy blackbird. I’m glad I managed to hang some washing out.’

I was also forced to spend three hours last night, sitting quietly in A & E, drinking tea and watching people with problems infinitely more significant than mine. Some people were not going home last night. I did (eventually).

If you are also someone who is tough on themselves and never knows if taking time out is allowed, then I don’t recommend anything as extreme as attempting to lop off digits but I do certainly recommend disabling the guilt if you can because guilt may be disabling you by putting more responsibility than is possible or is useful upon you.
Easier said than done of course.

The Measure of Success

When the given way to success is not your way,
And the arrows point so as to wound your heart,
It is hard to walk with purpose.

When the one-size-fits-all shoes do, in fact, not fit but pinch,

You long to stray
Away

From

The

Path

And run.

Barefoot.
Through cool wet grass,
Shaking off the coat of expectation,
Exploring new sensations.

Ignoring the shouts of disagreement,
That signal failure to cope with differences.

It is not selfish
To want to know what we are,
To place ourselves.

Success is quiet, not showy.
Rows and rows of tiny achievements
Joined up like little stitches on a shawl
To wrap around ourselves
And hug tight, thinking,
I’ve done this and I’ve done that.
To afford time to feel
Settled and grounded –
To discover something that is purely you
And no one else
It is the best kind of success.
That inner germ of you-ness
With miniature tendrils quietly climbing
Just enough to curl around and hold onto a small life.
– And it is small.
It sits in a big world –
To find a place in this world and be happy to be small
Where the measure of success and the greatest achievement
Is peace within the folds of a calmer self,
Is acceptance.

Better

‘Mrs. Mahoney, it is quite clear to me that you need fixing,’ Dr. Schwein said paternally, interrupting Jess mid-sentence and reaching for his prescription pad. ‘I can give you some pills to help you move on from your parents’ deaths and stop you from driving your husband mad by talking about it quite so much. It’s certainly driving me mad. My wife found that taking these after – ’

‘But I don’t want pills. I want counselling. And it’s Miss Mahoney – I haven’t got a husband.’

‘Oh dear, at your age? I’m so sorry. No takers? Having trouble finding a husband? You’ve left it a bit late to have children you know? What have you been doing all these years?!’

‘I’m in a band. You know, a musician? Been touring all over the world. You may have heard of us: The – ‘

‘Having trouble settling down?’
Sense of dissatisfaction, particularly with self, he wrote.

‘No, that’s not it at all…’ Jess stared at him in disbelief.

Dr. Schwein scrutinised her face, squinting over the top of his half moon specs.
‘Manic depression? Bipolar? You mustn’t dwell, you know. Get fresh air and exercise and how about a hobby? Get a pet? My wife found she was able to be much more practical again when she began to control… And you never know, you might meet Mr. Right…’

‘Don’t dwell?! But my whole life has been turned upside down. The two most important people in my life have gone. Just like that!’ She screwed her palms up tightly until her nails cut into her skin.

Dr. Schwein watched. He saw the marks.
Anger, he wrote. Self harm? he wrote.

‘Please. Can you refer me to a counsellor? I need to talk to someone.’

‘Some pills to tide you over, I think. I don’t want you to be a danger to yourself – or anyone else for that matter. I’ll put you on the waiting list, but you’ll find you probably won’t need it after a month of taking these.’

‘I’m not depressed! I’m not a danger! I’m grieving! I need time to talk about this and rebuild my life. I know what I need!’

‘I think I’ll be the judge of that. I am the doctor here, after all. You have some issues I’m not happy with. That anger could get dangerous. And the sadness from being lonely and childless when most people your age have a family by now… It’s understandable. I see plenty of women who have lost their sense of purpose and femininity these days. It’s so sad. You could try dying the grey hair away you know.’

‘I don’t use chemicals.’

‘And what about the way you dress? And that’s quite a scar you have on your face – have you considered cosmetic surgery?… Hang on… a friend of mine… where’s his card…’

‘Look! I realise I’m not flawless. How long is the waiting list for a counsellor?’

Dr Schwein leant forward in his chair. ‘Some things can’t be just talked away you know? What do you think talking will achieve? It won’t fix anything. I know it must be difficult to stop feeling sorry for yourself when you’ve only got yourself to think about – no family to worry about. This sense of emptiness you feel is most likely because you’re not fulfilling your role as a woman. Obviously, yes, the guidance and support you must have received from your father has gone, but if you were married, you’d have a husband to keep you on the right track. You wouldn’t have been gallivanting across the world all these years like a loose canon. Have you noticed how married women are so much quieter and calmer?’

‘Not particularly.’

‘Oh. Ahem. Well, it’s healthy for a woman to have someone to look up to, you know. We men are natural leaders and natural decision makers. Who’s in charge of your er – band?’

‘I am. I write all the songs and I’m lead guitar and lead vocals.’

‘All girl group, is it? He smiled predatorily.

‘No. The others are all blokes.’

Dr Schwein lost interest and swivelled his chair back to the desk to write a prescription. ‘Come back in six weeks and see one of my colleagues. I’m retiring today.’
He turned back and passed the piece of paper over, creating finality to the appointment.
‘Can’t you marry one of them?’

No. They’re my best friends. I can’t marry one of my mates. Besides I don’t fancy any of them.

Oh dear, dear. Are you a lesbian? Hormone imbalance. That explains a lot. Sit back down.



(inspired by the prompt word ‘balls’ )

Not today, thank you


I have this blog to write thoughts and fiction and compare notes on what it is to be a writer. These are my own words and opinions but I am aware of the risk of offending so I am careful – even though this is my space.

I welcome different opinions and approaches. I appreciate feedback, input, suggestions. I love it when someone shows me a different way of looking at things – things I may not have noticed. It’s brilliant.

I am honoured when people take the time to visit, read and, better yet, comment. And people are welcome to disagree with me – and they do!

But.
You know that feeling, when someone of a political or religious persuasion that you don’t really like or don’t agree with, knocks on your door? You know how you can feel bothered, almost accosted, in your own home? That’s what it feels like when someone visits your blog and insults your intelligence. Ironically, someone that thinks they are good with words…

It’s not on. If you can’t present a different opinion without insulting someone then you have no place submitting a comment to their blog. It’s intrusive. It remains there as a constant reminder of a put down. Agree to disagree but don’t get personal.

I felt today that some comments were wrong about me and my knowledge and experience, unnecessarily patronising and they have haunted me for hours. What a waste of a day!

So I have learned a valuable lesson. If it feels wrong, those comments have to go. Much as I love freedom of speech, sometimes it can be at the expense of someone else’s enjoyment of life.
Don’t stamp on people’s dreams. Especially if you don’t even have adequate boots.

And the photo. Well it’s wind turbines. Some people love them. Some people hate them. I love them because of what they represent. And it’s MY blog.

Shiny

(A flash fiction for Friday Flash and a reworked version of yesterday’s post: ‘Too Shiny for a Ladybird’.)

Well it all started when he phoned me and asked me to go to the clinic with him.
‘But I’m not your wife anymore, Dougie,’ I told him.
‘I know,’ he said, ‘but it’s you I want. You were always so good at, you know, the hand-holding. So reassuring and … well… you know – maternal.’ And then he said, ‘Please, love. I don’t want her.’

Yes, okay. I know. So three years after the divorce I was still misreading the signs. Some of us see our future all mapped out and find it difficult to take another path. What can I say?
I hadn’t stopped loving him, you see. I suppose I was still processing what had happened – what he’d done to me.

‘…it’s you I want… I don’t want her…’ That’s what he’d said.

It sounds so stupid, now I’m telling you about it.

Sheena…God… She was furious when she found out I’d gone to the appointment with him. Accused him of being unfaithful and moved out. Just like that. After three years. But, you know, I think I did her a favour really. She was that quick to leave… Makes you wonder… Dougie said she was too “feminine” and fragile” to cope with all the stress. Not like me. He said I was…. What was it he called me? …“Sturdy.” Yes that was it.

Of course, everyone else said what a fool I was and how I was reading too much into it – just seeing what I wanted to see. But I saw a sick man and a commitment. That wasn’t what I wanted to see.
And I did stop loving him… Eventually.

When the pain got too much he would call out for her. And he called me – Well… You don’t need to know what he called me.

When I saw what he and his “little princess” had done to my rose garden, to make way for gravel and decking… It was like a stab to the heart. The pink emulsion over my William Morris wallpaper – well, it was insulting. Just the blatant disregard for anything I had done. It was all such a waste. I imagined Sheena laughing as they ripped out my Victorian oak kitchen and replaced it with soulless modern stuff.
Out with the old, in with the new, huh?

She never came back. Never visited. Not even on his fiftieth birthday. But she didn’t divorce him and he didn’t want her too either. No, she just kept spending his money and then got the rest, you know…

I’ll give Sheena credit, though. It must have been a very expensive headstone. See how it gleams in the sun? I’ve never seen anything so shiny. Apart from Sheena’s cheeks, that is. She has this polishing thing done and then covers her face in some sparkly iridescent pink stuff. She likes giving me make-up tips. I think she feels sorry for me or something.

Of course they’re not from me, these flowers, they’re from her. Sheena is the beloved wife, etched in marble for all eternity, after all – and the one spending Dougie’s last few pounds on shiny stuff, not me.

Do you want a lift somewhere? Mine’s that old 1950’s Aston Martin over there. You like it? Yes I do too. Needs work and a new paint job, but I find the subtler, matte look quite endearing. Sheena never liked the old cars, made Dougie drive her around in a new thing, so when she found that in the garage under a blanket she asked me to take it off her hands.

Really? That much? Gosh – you do surprise me.

Too Shiny For a Ladybird

Going to work on this and repost it.

It’s a bit clumsy and unpolished for my liking. But feel free to read it and come back and see what I do with it
🙂

    ‘Can you come?’ he said, ‘to the clinic?’ he said.
    ‘I’m not your wife anymore, Dougie,’ I said.
    ‘I know but it’s you I want. You were always so good at, you know, the hand-holding. So reassuring and …well… you know… maternal. Please, love. I don’t want her.’

You don’t just stop loving someone – not just like that. It carries on burning while you process what’s happened. Even if the other person doesn’t deserve you.

They had said it wouldn’t last.
They were right.

They had said I was too young and I would leave him.
They were wrong.

Dougie was forty and I was twenty-three when we got married. Age didn’t matter to us.
Or so I thought.

But seven years later he was still acting like a teenager and accusing me of being ‘past it’ at thirty.

Sheena was twenty-two and acted like a teenager. Dougie liked that. She giggled a lot. Dougie liked that too. He said she was a ‘little princess’.

      ‘…it’s you I want… I don’t want her…’

Okay, so three years after the divorce I was still misreading the signs. Some of us see our future all mapped out and find it difficult to take another path. What can I say?

Sheena was furious when she found out I’d gone with him to the appointment. Accused him of being unfaithful and moved out. Just like that.
I think I did her a favour, really. Dougie said Sheena was too ‘feminine’ and ‘fragile’ to cope with all the stress. Not like me, I was ‘sturdy’ and ‘capable,’ apparently.

When the pain got too much he called for her. And he called me… Well you don’t need to know what he called me.

A fool, they said I was. They said some people just see what they want to see.
I saw a sick man and a commitment. It wasn’t what I wanted to see.
And I did stop loving him.
Slowly.

When I saw what he and his ‘little princess’ had done to my rose garden, to make way for gravel and decking, it was like a stab to the heart. The pink emulsion over my William Morris wallpaper: an insult. The signs of a decadent, wasteful, neglect for other people’s feelings became apparent as I found more and more evidence of excessive materialism, parties, drugs and careless housekeeping around my former home.

Sheena didn’t divorce Dougie. She kept spending his money and Dougie was happy to stay married to her although she never visited him, not even on his fiftieth birthday. I began to pity him – the man who had played but never lived.

I’ll give Sheena credit – she bought Dougie a very flash headstone. Gleaming black marble. You’ve never seen anything so shiny. Apart from Sheena’s cheeks, that is. She has this polishing thing done and then puts this sparkly iridescent pink stuff on her face to make her look smoother or more feminine …or something… apparently.

I take flowers for Sheena twice a year. She can’t get there. Or it’s too painful …or something… They’re not from me, you understand. Sheena is the beloved wife etched in the marble for all eternity and spending his last few pounds on shiny stuff, after all, not me.

Today I watched a ladybird land on the shiny memorial. It slipped and fell off as the marble representation of memory, or love… or something… shone erect, alone and unapologetically in the summer sun.
My corn-coloured maternity dress, with poppies scattered around the edges, was more welcoming and the ladybird crawled up safely, until it reached the blossoming representation of my new life.
The ladybird and I walked away to my young husband, waiting in the carpark.

Sheena says she’ll never have children. Motherhood will ruin her femininity, or something…

Black Dog Days


Having days that are lost or wasted through feelings of worthlessness, unproductiveness, low self-esteem, low energy, lack of inspiration, and sometimes the worst kind of self-hate, are torment. They are also difficult to talk about because people try to fix you by giving well-meaning advice.

‘Go for a walk, why don’t you?’
Are you kidding?! There are other people out there that I would have to be polite to. Being around other people makes me feel worse. And have you seen the weather?! It’s not going to happen, okay?

‘How about a healthy lunch?’

Oh yeah, food… I forget to eat properly when I’m having a black day. Thanks. But would you prepare it please, I’m likely to burn or smash everything. I really am useless today. Oh no – I tell you what – just fetch me the cooking sherry and a massive bar of chocolate so I can hate myself some more.

‘Play some happy music.’
What’s happy music? I can’t remember what cheers me up. If I put on something too jolly it will just irritate me. How about Mahler and a good cry…? Morrisey? Leonard Cohen? Oh leave it… It’s all getting too complicated. I can’t make any decisions today. I’m useless.

‘Think about the positives.’

Positives?! POSITIVES? Are you crazy? There Are No Positives. It’s just bad, all bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. No, not you, you’re not bad. It’s just me that’s bad. You’re too good for me. You should leave. Everybody leave me alone in my sad little head. I know – I’ll see if I can get a bedsit somewhere and you can all get on with your lives. I’ll start looking for something now. Where’s the local paper? Oh I can’t find it, this house is such a mess. It’s all my fault because I don’t tidy up enough. Did I mention how useless I am?

‘Why don’t you go and see the doctor?’

What? Why? What can a doctor do? I’ll be okay tomorrow. And I’m not having my good days ruined by medication.

These days can happen out-of-the-blue or after a tiring or stressful period, they can occur when you have been otherwise happy, they can take over a perfectly beautiful sunny day or a well-planned day of activity. If, like mine, they can happen whatever the weather then bad weather isn’t a cause but an additional problem.
Some people get very angry, some very sad. I get upset and want to slap myself.
I find it tricky to talk to people because most of what I want to say is negative and the theme is always what a worthless piece of nothing I am.

‘Oh cheer up.’

Yes please. Actually, no. It would be pointless being cheerful this late in the day.

As a creative person, having the wind knocked out of my sails when I had planned a productive day is frustrating to the point of desperation. Today is one of those days. I have spent over five hours – no SIX! – hovering around my laptop, attempting to start one thing after another. I could leave the laptop and do something else but, from past experience, this is not a good idea either. This isn’t just your usual lack of drive, motivation or energy, boredom or sluggishness this is lack of a balanced perception of the world around me. Everything is awful. Everything.
I know it’s not really. But still it is.

And yes. I forgot to eat.

People talk of being visited by the black dog or they call these days ‘black dog days’. When I first tried to find a photo of a black dog on the Internet – I had this crazy idea that I would outdo the moody bugger with a picture of cute black puppy – my Internet connection failed. It would, wouldn’t it? Even Broadband has forsaken me, I’m so useless.

The worst thing is knowing I have lost a day. I can bounce back. I will have productive days again. I will dance around the kitchen again. I will see all the positives and enjoy a walk again. But right now all I can think is how I’ve wasted a day – a day when all the children were at school and I had time and space to be productive and yet I wasn’t. I feel illegitimate and it’s not a good feeling.

Now I have to decide between screaming, slapping myself on the forehead or going back to bed. Nope. It’s too complicated trying to decide. Perhaps I’ll pace up and down.

Pity the poor black dogs who have become the representation of such days. And meet my favourite dog:
The flat-coated retriever


They make me smile. Even today.

I’m going to get one some day and outbluff this black dog day thing.

Update, June 25th 2011:
We have a black flat-coat retriever! He came home 3 weeks ago and is now 12 weeks old. His name is Dylan and he’s a little b***** but very beautiful and lovely when he’s lovely. We’re really looking forward to the gentle, loyal grown-up dog that we know he will turn into.

If I Only Had (Proof Of) A Brain

Me, questioning stuff and probably waffling too much again



I would not be just a nuffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

Do you have some credentials? What do you do with them? Do you use them as positive proof of your superiority? As evidence of a great collection of knowledge and facts? Do your credentials make you feel more worthy than others? Do you use your credentials on a daily basis? Do you share the great wealth of information and understanding that came with your credentials, pass it down to others? Did your credentials lead you down a path on which there is a newer, better life and you are forever expanding your mind? Are your credentials a tool with which to make yourself a useful cog in the wheels of society? Is there a point to your credentials, other than to say ‘Whoo – look at me! I’m brainy!’

Is there a point to any of this?

Why can’t we just stuff our brains full of the knowledge that is relevant to us, our interests, strengths and possible career choices? Why are we so obsessed with teaching every school child exactly the same stuff in exactly the same way? Why are we panicking when they can’t spell by six years of age?
For example, yesterday our 6-year-old wrote ‘Mudl pudl farm is a gra!t Book I lov it a lot.’
Shall I tear her confidence apart by pointing out all her mistakes or drink in the beauty of the word ‘gra!t’ and continue to enjoy sharing Michael Morpurgo books with her?
Should I start panicking about the school league tables if my daughter’s spelling isn’t up to scratch? Thinking, ‘Oh my God! Key stage 1 SATS! Get the calendar! How long do I have to fix my imperfect child!?’
There’s too much emphasis on performance, figures and positive notoriety for the school from 5 to 16. Until the end of childhood, in fact. Wasn’t that supposed to be the fun bit of life? So why is education now so focussed on schools proving they have the highest number of successful, brainy kids?
And when we say someone has brains/is brainy, what do we mean?
Do we mean they’re academically able? They spell well, they understand Shakespeare, they are in the top classes? Do you notice how people who have trouble spelling don’t get called brainy? People who struggle with school are not associated with brains but with stupidity?
If I think back to my school days, that’s what I would have meant. ‘Brainy’ people succeed at school, stupid people don’t. Simple. Right? There were ‘brainy’ kids in maths and science who actually managed to look like they knew what the teachers were going on about! There were people that passed all their o’levels (yes, I‘m THAT old!) and actually did a few extra. Some children in my year came away from school with 11 o’levels. I knew people at 6th form college who passed 4 A’levels and going to university wasn’t an ‘if’ or a ‘maybe’ for them it was a certain thing. They had brains.

But sometimes we neglect the fact that we all have brains. I was one of those that got called ‘brainy’ (sometimes) in the early days at school but I ended up underachieving and falling through the holey education system.
Do you know what upsets me?: When I began to not fit, when I began to underachieve, when I began to struggle and perform badly, I started to feel stupid. Gradually I felt less and less ‘brainy’.
I thought I couldn’t be a good student. I thought education wasn’t for me. I thought I didn’t have a brain after all. I lowered my expectations of myself.
But as the years went by, I spotted incredible wisdom in the most unexpected people, juxtaposed with a lack of depth, logic or common sense in people who supposed themselves to be in possession of a superior mind. One thing I find very difficult to accommodate is a certain knowledge combined with a judgemental attitude. Judgemental is a word associated with limited knowledge and a closed mind. Those that judge must have, in a sense, shut themselves off from new information and new ideas in order to feel so righteous. Doesn’t sound very clever to me…
I began to notice that some people with impressive-sounding qualifications made less sense of the world than they ought – so-called ‘brainy’ people! I also realised that some health care professionals were a bit limited in their approach to a problem and the information they provided, some teachers made errors in things that they taught my children. I saw things that they couldn’t. So why were they ‘brainy’ and I wasn’t?
Education? Confidence?
What could I do with my observations? Where would my thoughts be relevant? And where would I be valued and recognised as having a worthwhile opinion? I wasn’t ‘educated’ after all.

I could wile away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain

It’s not really about a brain though is it? Because we do actually all have one (mostly ;))It’s what we do with it. Swap the ‘brain’ for ‘education’ and you’ve got purpose, focus, ambition and direction. But I mean education in its real sense: acquiring skills and knowledge, learning. The learning that helps you to live well and to follow routes to suit you.
It’s about learning to use your brain.
Okay, so, yes, people that fit the current UK education system that have drive, confidence and ambition can get a string of qualifications. They can get letters after their name, they can work their way up to the top: lawyer, headteacher, surgeon, politician, research scientist… They can spend their lives waving their PDF SWALK ESP RSVP SOS under our noses but they are not the only clever people in the world and they are not necessarily THE most clever people in the country.
Now I have to stop and explain that I am not anti-education or that I think all educated people are academic snobs because I don’t think that. I’ve nearly completed a degree – so that would be a bit stupid!
But… learning, proper learning and not necessarily always exam-based, surely it doesn’t end? It doesn’t have a set of letters that say I Got To The Finish Therefore I Know Stuff So There. An education should make us fit for purpose not fit for superiority.

So here’s what I think – in my trying to be wise and all-encompassing and non-judgemental and now educated (but not that that makes me better than anyone!) kind of way – whatever our field of knowledge, our interest, our concerns, there is not one way of looking at the world, not one way of being clever not one way of doing most things. We should not judge or feel superior and likewise we should not let ourselves feel inferior. We should be questioning ourselves and what gives us the right to say something about something in a certain way. And we shouldn’t assume one set of knowledge is any more valid than another set of knowledge. (If I had my way there’d be GCSEs in gardening and running a home – they are damned complicated and hard work and come with no prizes for doing well!)
And here’s how I’m applying that to my life: I write. I want to continue to write and I want to continue to improve. I want very much for people to read my writing but I want to feel that I am writing the best fiction I possibly can in a style that is all my own but with the influence of a greater knowledge of literature. So I’m taking courses. The way people review and critique literature is interesting to me – particularly the way my tutors tear my writing to shreds! 😉 The way people used to write in the past is interesting to me. For example, have you seen the way Virginia Woolf used semi-colons?! And have you noticed how Tolstoy’s observations can still be relevant today?



Are you doing something relevant to you that improves your understanding of it, your success at it and enjoyment of it?



Or would you rather just see Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz on YouTube ?

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