The Bulging Wardrobe: part one

the-bluging-wardrobe

…and what to do about it, or, alternatively, how to declutter your life. That last statement might sound a little ambitious, in fact I’m not sure it’s entirely relevant, but if I start with my clothes, who knows where my new found resolution will end.

As you can see from the picture above, my wardrobe is bulging at the seams. Although everything has been ironed, because it has to be squeezed in between all the other hangers, it gets creased almost as soon as it is put away. Not only that, but once thrust into the darkest recesses clothes have a mysterious way of sliding off their hangers and hiding at the back of the cupboard and the only way to find what I’ve decided I’d like to wear, is to take everything out, bit by bit, lay it on the bed, until either the room resembles a jumble sale, or I find what I was looking for.

I’ve never believed in the adage that you buy one throw one out. I always think, and I’ve been proved right on numerous occasions, if you wait long enough the item will come back into fashion. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s not quite the same, but how many times have we seen bo-ho chic, or pencil skirts, or Capri pants as the must have piece for this year?

So, I have kept clothes dating at least a couple of decades back, and boots for longer than that. Which is fine, but most of the time, I either don’t know where they are, or I’ve forgotten I possess them.

A year or so back, I did a whole six months when I wore a different outfit every day. (I have the pictures to prove it.) The whole exercise took some thought and imagination, but, to be honest, I have so much stuff that I could have kept going for the rest of the year. What stopped me was the time and effort it took.

It’s so much easier to reach in take something off the rail, add a top, or trousers that complement it and get on with the rest of the day.

There’s also the question of whether something I wore in my thirties still looks good. It was this that finally tipped the balance. Trying on a shirt I used to wear, which still fitted, but no longer suited me, I knew it had to go.

This was the obvious solution, so too getting rid of faded T-shirts and worn jumpers. Why then is it so hard to do?

The answer comes in my next post.

Techno Babies

 

ipad-1126136__340

Give a toddler a piece of technology and they seem instinctively to know what to do with it. They use i-pads and tablets as easily as we used to turn the pages of a board book and as soon as they can the nag their parents for a phone, which they will use, naturally, to access cartoons and photos. Once they learn to read and write messaging and googling will be added to their list of skills.

At school, using the computer almost goes without comment. Everyone does it. It’s both a way of learning and being assessed on what you have learned.

Two, or three generations back from this techno savvy tribe, it’s not so easy. Sure, I can use a computer, a lap top, and I do have a smart phone, though more on that in another blog. I google and e-mail and FB and tweet. I use websites to buy stuff. I’m a regular user of Amazon and I have, in the past, uploaded the e-book versions of my “Dragonfire Trilogy”.

The difference between my techno activity and that of my children and their children is that I have to think about it.

While they reach for their phones, access the information, add an app, or two, it takes me a long time to work out how to do it, to the point at which I sometimes wonder why I bother.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, I think, to sit at my desk and just write?

Sure, but then I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t be communicating with my friends, or my readers, or engaging in the world of writing and publishing, all of which I enjoy.

So, I’ll post this and then I’ll dig my smart phone out of the bottom of my bag and put it on charge.

Give a toddler a piece of technology and they seem instinctively to know what to do with it. They use i-pads and tablets as easily as we used to turn the pages of a board book and as soon as they can the nag their parents for a phone, which they will use, naturally, to access cartoons and photos. Once they learn to read and write messaging and googling will be added to their list of skills.

At school, using the computer almost goes without comment. Everyone does it. It’s both a way of learning and being assessed on what you have learned.

Two, or three generations back from this techno savvy tribe, it’s not so easy. Sure, I can use a computer, a lap top, and I do have a smart phone, though more on that in another blog. I google and e-mail and FB and tweet. I use websites to buy stuff. I’m a regular user of Amazon and I have, in the past, uploaded the e-book versions of my “Dragonfire Trilogy”.

The difference between my techno activity and that of my children and their children is that I have to think about it.

While they reach for their phones, access the information, add an app, or two, it takes me a long time to work out how to do it, to the point at which I sometimes wonder why I bother.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, I think, to sit at my desk and just write?

Sure, but then I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t be communicating with my friends, or my readers, or engaging in the world of writing and publishing, all of which I enjoy.

So, I’ll post this and then I’ll dig my smart phone out of the bottom of my bag and put it on charge.

 

Maddy’s Castle

maddys-castle-2

Pride of place in our dining room is this edifice constructed by my granddaughter, with help from one of her other grannies. My grandchildren have eight grandparents, but more of that on another blog.

The castle has been there for quite a while now, but I am strangely reluctant to relegate it to the recycling bin. I love it because Maddy gave it to me and I when I was young I wanted a toy castle and soldiers. Those, however, were not considered toys for girls and, in any case, there was no way my parents could have afforded anything so expensive.

So my sister and I made our own. We drew and cut out cardboard battlements, plus towers and a keep, then I, being the eldest and at that time marginally better at drawing than Anuk, who went on be a professional artist, but more of that in another blog, drew the king and the queen, the knights and the princes and princesses. Younger sister was allowed free rein on the foot soldiers.

Once we had our characters, the stories could begin. Out of very little we had constructed a world with its own hierarchy, its own history, which kept us occupied for hours and which still exists somewhere deep in one of my mum’s cupboards. Next time I go down to Bristol, I’m going to find them and who knows what these figures will inspire.
In the meantime, now that Maddy’s castle has been photographed, maybe, just maybe it will find its way into the blue bin.

 

Posy Miller

Posy pics from Jonathan 018
Today July 31st is Posy’s birthday. She was born in the middle of a thunderstorm on a hot summer’s night when lightening zig-zagged across an emerald sky. She died, of leukaemia on Christmas Eve, 2002, a crisp blue sharp morning. That night the family gathered at our house for the traditional Polish Christmas meal. We had discussed cancelling it, but Posy’s partner, Kane was adamant that we should go ahead and so we toasted her and the baby who had died with her and celebrated the life she had led.

That evening was typified her life. Whatever Pose did, she did it wholeheartedly and with joy. She might not have made much money, but she worked as an actor even when she was ill, not that she knew how serious it was, none of us did, the kindly couple she was lodging with would bring her breakfast in bed. When she wasn’t working, in those last months, she was writing a hilariously surreal novel about her experiences as a supply teacher in various London schools, corresponding with a prisoner on Death Row, supporting Bob a random stranger she’d met on a train and who also had terminal cancer.

At her funeral we sang “Happy Birthday” her crazy idea and ate the Christmas cake she’d baked.

Later, she starred in “Sam Jackson’s Secret Video Diary.” http://www.samjacksonmovie.co.uk/beyond.html Guy Rowlands’ film about a missing woman, which was screened at the Raindance Festival in the West End and nominated for a British Independent Film Award. Who says you can’t achieve your ambition even after death?

Pose would have been sneaped, however, to have missed all her friends and family gathering in the cinema to see her. She always wanted to be there right in the middle of things and for us she still is. Her photographs are up in all our houses, we talk about her, and toast her on all her important days.

As for me, I talk to her often. When I’m down about my writing, I remember her belief in me and pick myself out of my pit of misery.

And of course she is there in everything I write. She inspired Polly in the “Dragonfire” trilogy and there are traces of her in Mouse, in “Clear Gold.”  She’s Poppy in “Picking up the Pieces” and it’s her accolade that concludes the novel.

Happy Birthday, Pose. I’ve no idea what happens after death, but in the hearts and minds of your friends and family, you are still and always will be here with us.
Posy pics from Jonathan 059

 

An Invasion of Lilies

Lily invasion 2

Lilies have taken over the garden. I can’t get to the vegetable patch, or  hang my washing on the line without being dusted with pollen. I didn’t plan to have so many. Most years there is one well behaved patch, but this year’s warm Spring and, so far, wet and cold, Summer seem to have suited them. Not only are they prolific in their own space, but they are  taking over from other flowers in the border.

I love these bright blooms, the oranges of my feral bunch and the deep scarlet of the well behaved day lilies in their pot on the patio. Unlike the white lilies they are not fraught with significance. For some people Calla Lilies are pure and virginal, flowers to be carried by a bride, for others, however they signifies death and funerals.

A sobering reminder that today is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The Larks

Friends

Padrick and Podge
Friends

I met my oldest friend when we were seven years old. I don’t know what it was that drew us together, but right from the start we had much in common. We certainly shared a vivid imagination. Break times were spent in our imaginary worlds, whether out in the Wild West, where we were breaking horses and riding bareback over the prairies, or in Regency England where we were the bad girls of the family always getting into trouble over some breach of decorum or other.
As we got older, we slept over at each other’s houses and on one memorable occasion spent New Year’s Eve at The Glen, a nightclub set in an old quarry. Quite why she ended up with such a bad hangover, I don’t remember. I do remember the following morning watching her eating scrambled eggs on toast, slathered in tomato ketchup. Every bite and swallow was an act of will, but she was determined to get it down as she was sure it was what she needed to get rid of the thundering in her head.
We grew up, we moved away to live and work in different cities, then different countries. But we were always there for each other. And that’s still true decades later, as it is for all my friends.

After family, friends are the most important people in my life and it is friendship, in particular the long standing sort, that is the basis of “Picking up the Pieces.” Friendship, cake and the mutual support that only lifelong friends can provide.

 

Christmas Food

golombki3No, not the traditional turkey, goose, chicken, beef or pork. A pot full of golabki is one of the dishes we will be eating this Christmas Eve.

Because of my Polish family, my children were brought up celebrating both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Which meant cooking two different meals.

On the night before Christmas we laid the table, putting wisps of hay, or straw under the cloth to remind us of Jesus in the manger. Then the youngest was set to look out for the first star, or that at least was the theory and it did give the kids something to do.

Once the star was sighted then Christmas could begin. First the baby Jesus was put in our homemade crib, then came the distribution of the oplatek. The thin wafer, like communion bread, that in those days was sent to us by our family in Poland. Each person took a piece and shared it with all the others, kissing them and wishing them a happy Christmas.

After that it was presents under the Christmas tree and finally when all the wrapping paper had been cleared up, the food.

Twelve different dishes, one for each of the disciples was the tradition. Some were British, like salad, or cooked chicken, others Polish like the pot full of cabbage wrapped parcels above.

Because there was so much to do and a lot of it was very time consuming, I always made these beforehand and put them in the freezer. Over the past few years my daughter Lucy has taken on this role,  but with a very new baby, she has more than enough to do, so once again I was in the kitchen first thing this morning, blanching cabbage leaves, frying onions and mixing them together with rice and minced pork, seasoning and herbs. Then the golombki are layered into a casserole and I pour over a mixture of Heinz tomato soup, water, stock and tomato puree. Over the years we have evolved a truly fusion cuisine.

Everything goes into the oven for about an hour, or so while I tidy up and remember all those long gone Christmases and speculate whether my grandchildren will in years to come be wrapping cabbage leaves around handfuls of pork mixture and thinking back to their childhood.