Thursday, 21 July 2011

Yes i'm still here and a bit of a rant

Well so much for writing every day! after a 2 week hiatus, not even the excuse of being on holiday, just too lazy and disorganised.

And now for a rant:-
this morning on Radio 4, they were discussing the benefits to children of having married rather than cohabiting parents. They said in their research they had stripped away such things as low income, ethnicity etc.. to compare the two groups more fairly.
I'm sick of the assumption that co-habiting couples are either poor or uneducated or both and that the relationship must be a transient one. I have been co-habiting for 25 + years and have 2 girls who have never been in trouble. I have a degree and planned both of my children, having the first when i was 27, my partner is well into the 40% tax bracket. my elder daughter has just graduated from a red brick uni with a 2:1 and my younger has just taken 12 and 1/2 GCSEs.
We have made a conscious decision not to marry, this does not mean that we are less committed to each other, i sometimes think that i should be committed or have him taken away, but that's normal for any couple married or not. A ritual and a piece of paper would not make any difference to either of us. We have a joint mortgage, and wills incase the worst happens and Will has made provision for me in his pension. We are not unique, i know as many co-habiting couples as married ones and no we do not live in a great metropolis just a small market town.  the divorce rate shows that marriage is no guarantee of stability for children.
The census yet again made me describe myself as single, it's as if the government are not interested in gathering statistics about long term stable co-habiting couples. After all it might disagree with the feckless stereotype they want to maintain.  Am I cynical? what made you come to that conclusion??!!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Camomile tea, calamities and a massage by Hermann the blind masseur.

My elder daughter has always been a little accident prone but I hoped she would eventually grow out of it. Now 21 she has just finished her music degree at Birmingham Uni earning a 2:1. each year she has been away there has been one calamity or another. In her first year she had bout after bout of tonsilitis, not good if you need to sing as part of your course, she was so ill at one point that she had to come home for a while. The second year  seemed to go well, she was living in a house with 6 other girls, the course was going well and we had got to June with no major issues. then one morning a few days before the end of term I got a phone call, 'Mum don't worry but I went to A&E last night.,' She had been scalded by a newly made cup of camomile tea after climbing over a sofa and kicking the cup, splashing the boiling liquid all over her leg.When we eventually got to Birmingham we saw that she was bandaged from hip to ankle. Luckily she lives a short ride from The Selly Oak hospital so had been treated by an army medic who performed miracles and a year later she has been left with only a small heart shaped scar.
I wondered how she was going to top that for her final year. When she rang me just before Easter to tell me that she had done something stupid, my heart sank. A cup of liquid was involved again, but this time it was a cold cup of orange juice and a laptop which had sizzled and died after coming into contact with it. Luckily I had insured her laptop as part of her student policy so with not too much trouble she got a new one.  It could have been worse I thought. She finished all her uni work and got through her end of year recital with no vocal problems and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then a couple of weeks ago she rang me to say she had fallen down the stairs and hurt her back, it kept going into spasms. after eventually seeing the doctor he has advised a deep tissue massage She comes home tomorrow  and on Saturday she goes to have a massage with Hermann who is a blind masseur.
In September she goes back to Birmingham to start a secondary music PGCE course and I wonder what accident might be awaiting her. i'm just pleased she can't drive!!

Bad poem inspired by the Kindle.

This post is influenced by the latest entry in Mark's 'My 100 goals' blog which was about his wife's Kindle e-reader, so blame him for being subjected to some Vogon poetry.

 I also got a Kindle for Christmas. as a chartered librarian i was naturally suspicious of e-readers, i love books and have spent years promoting them, but i love my Kindle too. I had tried out a few others like the Sony but didn't like the backlighting or scrolling that you had to do on some. Amazon have really thought about how we read books, the black ink on a white paperlike page is great and the one click is very easy and I like having 100s of books in my handbag. Not everything is published in kindle form but it is great to order a book and have it delivered in a couple of minutes. When i had a problem with my Kindle I rang Amazon's helpline, they rang straight back and the guy I spoke to did some diagnostic tests decided it had died and arranged for a replacement to be sent the next morning they even arranged for a courier to collect the broken one free of charge. As all the books I have purchased are stored online it was easy to download them all to the new device.

We had to write an alliterative poem as an A215 exercise,  it  was originally inspired by a conversation with another librarian who accused me of being a traitor to the book because i had  a Kindle. I know the rhythm is all over the place but this is the first draft. I apologise from my occasional deviation from english as we know it.

You can't cuddle an e-reader,
an acquaintance said to me.
You can't flick forward and back
through the pages.
You can't feel a folio
with your fingers.
You can't rummage in rows of books
in a bookshop.
There's nothing like numerous novels and knowledgeable tracts.
But, I beg to bicker.
I have two thousand books to browse.
No backlit brashness or glare.
Defoe, Dickens and Dostoyevsky,
ready to read right away.
No wearisome waiting for the postman.
My purchases downloaded directly,
without delay.
Petite, portable and practical,
I can take my works to work and,
my tomes travel with me back home.
Oh Yes I love my e-reader,
I can cuddle my Kindle.

Friday, 24 June 2011

BBC drama

There has been some cracking drama on the BBC lately, I really enjoyed the Shadow Line, it was brilliantly written , well acted and directed. Rafe Spall was a fantastic, believable and scary psychopath. Don't read the next bit if you haven't watched the last episode. the idea that we all walk a line between good and evil and that good people can be bad and vice versa was well explored and thought provoking. The only thing that spoilt it for me was the revelation that the motivation of all the dirty dealing, drug smuggling and multiple murder was to ensure the solvency of the police pension fund.. I know pensions are a hot topic at the moment but protecting cops futures on the one hand and killing pregnant women on the other didn't quite ring true for me.But some fabulous acting, the scene with Christopher Eccleston when he is ready to go to the meeting with the drug dealer and leaves his gun behind even though he knows he will be killed was heartbreaking, he knew his wife who had early onset Alzheimers was lost to him and didn't want to live without her.
The other BBC offering of note was Case Histories with Jason Isaacs as an ex cop turned private detective. All of his cases were about missing women which echoed the seminal event of his sister being found drowned when he was a child and the imminent loss of his young daughter as his ex wife proposed to take her to New Zealand. Some brilliant acting by Isaacs and the rest of the cast. had to feel sorry for his character he was stabbed in the first story , strangled in the second and run over by a train in the third. fantastic stuff, character driven and matched by a good plot and writing.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why Vogon poetry

I keep  describing  myself as a Vogon poet, what the hell is that someone asked me the other day. It all started with Will, my partner and his reaction when I asked him to read my latest poem. it was the air of disappointment and pained expression that did it. So i asked him if he would like to read my latest Vogon poem which made him laugh, not the poem unfortunately, but the Vogon bit. For those of you who haven't read the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Vogons were alien beings who loved to write and recite poetry. when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect hitch onto the Vogon ship they are forced to listen to some poetry. People have been known to commit suicide rather than listen to it, yes it's that bad!
There are advantages to  describing my work this way, firstly it shows that I don't take myself too seriously and secondly if my poem is awful I can say that I told you it was Vogon poetry.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The A215 effect

So,  have just finished A215 Creative writing with the OU, just waiting for the result, due sometime in August. Talking about that,one thing that has  perplexed me on these courses is the almost obsessive result checking of some students. They constantly refresh the submisssions page, hoping that the score will miraculously appear and proclaim on the forums that they still haven't got their  assignment back 2 days after it was submitted. i wonder how many get RSI from the repetitive refreshing?  Worrying about scores and when tutors are going to post them seems to take over their lives.
 I don't get it, once submitted via the electronic submission system, I abandon my essays, short stories and poems to the ether and forget all about them.
I approached A215 with some trepidation, over the years like many others I've had a notebook where I jotted ideas for stories and novels but never got around to developing any of them. I hoped this  course would give me the impetus and discipline  to expand some of them into something tangible that others might want to read. Before the course started I thought I would enjoy the short story writing and hate the poetry, I was about 12 when I wrote my last poem. As the course progressed i discovered a love for poetry in all its forms. I'd  read poetry of course and love narrative poems ,things like the Ballad of reading Gaol and Goblin market. i also like performance poets like John Hegley and Benjamin Zephaniah.
I decided to write poetry for most of the assignments, writing a couple of poems about the suicide of the american socialite Dorothy Hale and the Frida Kahlo painting for the life writing option, a sequence of surreal dog poems   for the publishing tma and another sequence influenced by Shakepeares 'All the world's a stage ' speech called The  7 ages of woman for the End of course assessment.   if anyone had said 6 months ago that I would enjoy writing a 100 lines of poetry, I would have said they were mad but I loved the whole process from research through to final drafting. I particularly enjoy the procrastination phase between the initial research and the first draft. this period of gestation or tma avoidance involves a lot of waking up or jumping out of the bath to write the latest ideas down. I am  now never without a note book. you never know when a great word or image might pop into your head.