Sunday, 30 May 2010

A Room of my Own

I miss having my own room. Thoughout my childhood I always had my own bedroom and now the thought of having one room that is all mine is a luxury I can only dream of. But dream of it I often do.

Sometimes this room is an office. Working from home, it would be so welcome to have my own desk, shelves and cupboard so I could organise myself properly and so I could shut the door and switch off completely.

Sometimes this room is a shed or summerhouse at the bottom of a long garden, with a comfy chair, a stereo, a bookcase and a tatty rug on the floor. There is a potting table, flower pots, bulbs and seeds and a pair of shiny red wellies by the door.

Sometimes this room is a bedroom - light and airy, with big windows, lots of cushions and very feminine. Scented candles, fairy lights, fluffy pyjamas and a teasmade by the bed.

Sometimes this room is a day room - my very own den - with a slouchy sofa, Tiffany lamp, a piano covered in framed photos, a desk & computer, floor to ceiling bookcases filled with novels and cookery books.

Living as part of a couple, and now as a family of four, the space we share is a constant compromise. How fabulous would it be to have my own space, to fill with all the things I love - the colours, music, smells, pictures and textures that speak to me. A room which would allow me to just be me.

Wearing a Shell

Having a bath yesterday it was like I was seeing my body with new eyes. Folds of skin, extra fat, lines, cellulite - a body that had aged without me noticing it. But does it really matter? Isn't this body just a shell that protects who I am really am, and have always been?

Why this obsession with the outside at the expense of the inside? Why spend so much time trying to change the shell, and ignore the contents? Maybe it's because it is easier to deal with what's on the outside than look honestly at what's inside.

Call it what you like - your soul, your inner being, your personality, what makes you tick - but it is hardwired into us, and when we fight against it we are unhappy. And if you are unhappy, isn't it easier to blame your chunky thighs or your wobbly bum, than admit you are unfulfilled or have fallen out of love. It's much easier to change the colour of your hair than get to the root of why you feel lonely or misunderstood. And going on a diet is a great way to feel you have some control over your life, when inside you feel like you're going into free fall.

When I look at old photos of myself I see a shell that is tall and slim, smiling back at me like she doesn't have a care in the world. But the self I still carry around with me remembers that wasn't how she felt inside.

Modern life has become a series of aspirations, where our happiness is set to be sealed in some future paradise when we are richer, thinner, more successful in our career or living in a bigger house. The single thing few us can be is content in the here and now, in our own skin.

So for now, I'm going to try and worry less about the shell and try taking a leaf out of Robert Green Ingersoll's book:

"Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.”

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Long time no blog

It's been a while since I blogged over here - mainly because I've been blogging a lot over there and work has been keeping me busy. But having scheduled all my work posts for the whole of Half Term I'm hoping to catch up over here, and do some more personal writing.

I find I go through peaks and troughs with most things. I'll do them intensely for a while and then stop for ages. I think it's a personality trait that I bore easily. While things are new and fresh I get slightly addicted. Then I reach saturation point and need a complete break. The real measure of the things I love are those that I go back to time and time again.

Some of these have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember - most particularly writing & reading. Lots of things have been tried (enthusiastically at the time) then fallen by the wayside, like crafting, knitting and running. The newer things that have stood the test of time are gardening, blogging, baking and Twitter.

So for the next week I intend to spend a lot more time doing the things that really define who I am. I have a crisp new novel to read (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), a vegetable patch to tend, this months BBC Good Food magazine to pore through for new recipes, and my beloved Blackberry so I can keep up to date with the Twitterverse wherever I happen to be.

And I have this blog, which will be receiving some special TLC - Tender Loving Copy.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Why I fear Tory Rule

I've said before that I don't think of myself as a political person - in the past 40 years I have really never taken much of an interest. But this months election has stirred something deep inside me and re-awakened old memories of bad and unhappy times. And it has made me realise how deeply ingrained ones political beliefs can be, even without you knowing.

The last time the Conservatives were in power my family had a tough time. I was a child then and didn't undertand the implications of what their government did, but now I am an adult, a parent and a home-owner I understand much better what my parents must have gone through.

In 1977 they bought a brand new house in a beautiful village in rural North Bedfordshire. They both came from North London but couldn't afford to stay in the capital so gradually moved away, first to Northamptonshire (because in the early 70s it was cheap and there were new estates springing up everywhere) and then to Bedfordshire.

We watched the house being built. We would go over and look at the plot at weekends, and saw it develop from just a concrete foundation to our new home. In 1977 the mortgage interest rates were around 7.5%. By November 1979, just 6 months after Margaret Thatcher came to power they had doubled to 15.75% and my parents had long been unable to afford the home they had bought. In Decemebr 1980 they peaked at 21.5%

Then in the 80s my dad lost his job. He was unemployed for more than 5 years. We couldn't afford to run a car, and as we lived out in a village he needed to travel to Bedford every fortnight to sign on. Rather than pay the bus fare he would walk or cycle the 10 miles each way.

I spent my childhood wearing second hand clothes, never going on holiday and getting very little for birthdays and Christmas. During this difficult time both my parents suffered with depression which had a lasting effect on everyone in the family.

Now I am fully aware that this story might all sound a bit dramatic and melancholic. It is not meant to be that way. It is purely meant as an explanation as to why I could NEVER vote for a Conservative Government. Why I felt so despondent when I woke up on May 7th and saw that the political map of our country had turned blue overnight. And why I genuinely fear for my home, my children's future and that of our public services. And also for my own sanity.

By all means people have the right to demand change - but not change for changes sake. And not at any cost. People are quick to blame, quick to judge and equally, it seems, quick to forget.