These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Identity: whose is it?

Can you undermine someone else’s self-identity?

Can you change someone else’s self-identity?

When do you recognise you own identity?

When do you formalise your own identity?

Identity. Whose is it? 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Future conditioning

No matter what ‘condition’ you inhabit it is your RESPONSE to that condition that is a major factor in indicating what your future is likely to be.

(from a discussion at the University of Oxford 25th October 2011)

Your mind’s thinking and learnt responses can direct your future paths. Learn better.

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Underneath it all

Do you ever look under the surface of things?

Sometimes it’s way too scary to even contemplate looking underneath things because you’re afraid of what you will find and how it will affect you. An example would be not looking too closely to the tables and seats in a restaurant otherwise you’d be unable to continue your meal there.

We are used to accepting certain standards and just living with them. (Is that actually lowering our own standards? Hmmm. Do we always have a choice in that?)

What I have found is that if you look under the surface, if you look closely enough, you’ll always find a whole different array of issues than you first thought were there.

The only question is ... do you have the time or the inclination to look under the surface? 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wrong number?

What do you do when someone rings you but it is obvious that they didn’t mean to ring you?

This was my conundrum the other day. The phone rang and there was a familiar voice at the end. The only problem was that I wasn't who they were really looking for.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello.” Came the timid reply. There was recognition but obviously not what they were expecting. “Um...” there was continued hesitation.

“Hi, D,” I said helpfully, “This is Marjorie,”

There was a pause.

“Hi, how are you?” I said, “How’s the family? Did J tell you that we popped around the other day?” I had started the conversation in the hope that she realised that I didn’t mind her calling me, even when she didn’t mean to.

“I was home when you called by, but I must have been in bed. J didn’t tell me.”

“Never mind,” I said, drawing the conversation to a close. “Maybe we’ll catch up another time.”

As a final note I said, “You really need to sort out your phone book you know, D.” I said with a laugh. “I know you didn’t mean to ring me. But it’s OK, because it’s nice talking to you anyway.”

“Yes, Marj,” she said sheepishly. “I know.”

Sensing she really needed to make her original intended call, I said with a laugh, “Take care. I’ll catch you another time... maybe when you really mean to call me.”

She echoed my laughter rather weakly and also said goodbye.

With that the conversation ended and I put the phone down.

I know what I felt like when she went; I don’t know what she felt like ... again. You see, she keeps calling me and then saying, “Oh, Marj! It wasn’t you I meant to call. Sorry!”

At times like that, it is difficult to know what to do, whether to talk politely for a few seconds or to just say, 
“No worries. Bye.” And put the receiver back down.

Wrong number. Wrong person. Uncomfortable times.

Sometimes when we contact people we get the wrong number and a bad connection, too. 

Monday, 24 October 2011


It takes time to adjust to new sounds, especially to new voices. And before you know it, it’s as if you’ve heard that voice your whole life.

Before actually hearing a voice I have built up an audio track of what I perceive that voice to sound like. And what I have discovered is that it always sounds – in some degree – like me!

I have a tendency to fashion ideas and project my perceptions based on what is in my head. Then when the real thing comes along I have to make some adjustments. Then, it is all done. And before long, I can’t remember what that previous voice sounded like again ... even though I used to think it sounded different to me. It was me, but not me.

When the new sound is pleasant it immediately finds a place in my memory bank and the old recording is wiped away.

I like voices. They bring new adventures with each cadence and different stress on special words. Voices are more than words, they are individual characters.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Listen again

How can I discussion about women’s rights versus business survival get me incandescent with rage? When one of the speakers compares slavery to a good business model, that’s how.

So I decided to write about it. I decided to write to the speaker as well. I obtained her email address and set about constructing my argument. This is when I began to listen again.

I could not download the programme so I painstakingly listened to it all over again, transcribing it as I went. And this is the conclusion I have reached: I was wrong. I had a listening error.

You see, I have spent hours analysing and listening to this 9 minute 6 second segment and I now realise that my initial reaction was not based on facts. I responded to what I thought I heard, not what was actually said.

After transcribing the entire thing and going over it numerous times I now believe Dr Hobbs is saying that business growth, albeit valuable and important, cannot be achieved at any cost. Business has to contribute to a stronger society because there are psychological and moral costs of business growth as well. I’m glad I was wrong.

Her only error, I feel, was to attribute the blame of the August riots to unhappy families when she said “The cost of having unhappy families can also literally mean physical damage to business ... We all suffer the consequences of a society with broken families in it.”

Her last sentence, however, is still true.

I guess that sometimes it does pay to listen again.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Third party sadness

We all have our own pain. And sometimes we know we have too much of it. But there is a whole different type of pain that also causes deep grief. This is third party pain.

I have realised that you really hurt when people you care about are hurt or hurting. As much as you want to you cannot take their pain away. What I have found is that you can let them know that you care, deeply.

I have sent hugs and prayers to people who I cannot be with in person right now. They have always been eternally dear to me and, at this moment, they are too closely acquainted with that heart destroying pain.

Their first degree sadness is raw and debilitating.

My meagre offering to them right now is somewhere to rest and express that pain because I really care about what they feel.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Source of confidence

Last week I was privileged to attend a meeting with outstanding academics and as soon as I was in that environment I was imbued with a fresh charge of confidence.  The people in the same room as me exuded a sense of assurance that made me proud to be amongst them.

As serious topics were discussed I made notes and thought of questions to pose and answers to give. There was an electric charge of positivity that was as refreshing as a spring rain after a season of drought.

On my drive home I wondered where and how different people get confidence in their ability. Do they gain it from others or is it personally created. At some point people have to believe in themselves, whether they are gifted a seed or they make their own: personal confidence in you ability can take you a long way.

This much I know.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Way in front of me one of the elderly women who live on my street was making her way gingerly along the road. She had a couple of shopping bags in one hand and a sturdy walking stick in the other. For every one of her steps I took about three and I was soon walking parallel to her.

We exchanged greetings and, in the age-old English fashion, commented on the weather.

I noted that she was making sure and steady progress.

“I don’t want to fall over,” she replied. “That’s why I’m staying close to these.” She used her stick to point at the line of bollards.

“That makes sense,” I responded. “With this wind it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“Yes,” she continued. “I’m not a coward, but I’m not stupid either.” Being a frail woman of relatively short stature, I understood her totally when she said, “I have to keep anchored.” I could see there was not much to her small slim frame and the wind was getting fiercer by the moment.

I wished her well as we parted and a short while later on my return journey I caught up with her as she continued her tortoise-walk in close proximity of the walls. We turned the corner of the street together and said  our goodbyes.

Her wisdom will stay will me long after the weather has changed many times. 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Brave or stupid?

This is a DIY blog. You get to fill in your own examples. I know. How kind of me! I thought so, too.

This will sound a bit general because I don’t want to influence your way of thinking about your own situations, so here goes.

I was thinking about a situation when I did something, and the reason why I took this particular action was because I really wanted to believe that the world is a wonderful place. (It’s at this point when things can go one of two ways – choose your own ending.)

Path A: The choice I made blew up in my face and I felt stupid. It was then that I realised that they world was not as good as I had hoped it was. People said that I was stupid – it was confirmed; I knew why I didn’t take risks after all. I went back to reserved living. I questioned my sanity at believing any different.

Path B: The choice I made turned out wonderfully! I was proud of taking the risk and people said that I had been brave. I believed that there was a chance of something different, something better and I went for it. It was in that moment that I knew why I dared to take the risk at all. I was glad that I believed that there was an alternative. I applauded myself for being wise.

I find it sadly amusing that people often don’t do things because they don’t want to be seen as stupid when they have just as much chance as being seen as wise and brave... and feeling fulfilled in their dream.

So what, really, is being brave or stupid?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lost and found

How do you know if something is lost? Is it just about missing its presence in your life?

I was wondering about things being lost and found when this scenario crossed my mind - it was brought about by a real situation – there was a seeker and a hider, the seeker was ecstatic because they had discovered the whereabouts of the hider.

“Found you!” He exclaimed with obvious delight.

She looked around in shock, this was not what she wanted. With a quick second glance at her surroundings she began to run ... away. She kept running while he just stood there with his mouth open.

It was then that he realised that sometimes people don’t want to be found. They are meant to be missing from certain people's lives.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pay attention

I’m a walker and I’m a driver. I think sometimes I get the two mixed up.

The other day I was walking and I came up to some pedestrian crossing lights. I waited on the pavement with other pedestrians. You see, I was obeying the signal that told me when it was safe to cross the road and when it was not.

Imagine my surprise when, as the light turned green and I stepped into the road, that an old woman’s hand grabbed my left sleeve and pulled me back onto the pavement.

“But it’s green!” My protests became weak as a car swung in front of me just missing me by inches as it rounded the corner.

“He must have gone through a red light!” I exclaimed, as I started to walk across the road in the company of my new saviour.

“I just couldn’t manage if I saw someone have a bad accident in front of me,” The kind grey-haired woman continued to shake her head as she walked to the opposite pavement with me. We were both glancing over our shoulders and shaking our heads as we turned in unison to watch the errant car continue to speed off into the distance.

“I know the light was green,” I said, “green for us to walk, not for the car.”

It was then that I thought of my own experience as a driver and the times when I had driven through amber-turning-red lights. Then I was convinced that I was perfectly safe and in  control of all variables.

As I walked further into town I realised that I nearly got run over because I forgot what I sometimes do as a driver!

This incident makes me wonder why it often takes serious incidents to see things from a different perspective before we really commit to changing our behaviour.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Final Curve - Poetry by Langston Hughes

When you turn the corner
And you run into yourself
Then you know that you have turned
All the corners that are left.

Langston Hughes (From his collection - Life is Fine)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Feed me, Seymour!

This is a contrary post (considering some of my recent posts) nevertheless I will continue.

I sometimes get hungry.

This is not the regular appetite type of hunger, This is when my skin gets hungry. I have a skin hunger that needs to be fed. And what exactly can satisfy this desire?

Difficult question and complicated answer.

Some answers are best served with an illustration. Let me try that now.

One evening Heather suddenly felt isolated in the middle of a hotel. A pleasant group meal had turned sour and she was unexpectedly under attack. She became child-like in her response. Heather wanted to turn away and hide. She found a corner and began to cry. When she looked for comfort and reassurance from those close to her she didn’t receive any. The space around her grew wider. 

She was a long way from home where everything safe and familiar. Heather didn’t know that she was having an intense desert-like experience. She had felt the pangs before, now she was hit with the full hunger. She had skin hunger.

The person she had expected to touch her did not. That made the situation substantially more profound. As Heather tried to escape to her hotel room to ride out the pain there was a breach through her boundary walls. Someone reached out, with the softest gentlest touch possible. A touch full of genuine concern. The intensity of that continued touch was like an electric current buzzing through Heather’s skin. She knew it instantly and she dreaded it as well because it woke her up to the void that had enveloped her before that moment.

Heather was sated in that moment. She would never forget it.

So, sometimes I get hungry and I want to be fed. Unlike the Little Shop of Horrors I will not devour everything that is put before me. I have specific needs and desires. My palate is sensitive and peculiar. Even I don’t understand it, but I do know the correct nourishment for this skin hunger. I don’t plan to deviate from my diet again.

I’ve used this quote before and I make no apologies for using it again:

Every relationship is reciprocal ... when you touch something it touches you."
Fringe, season 3, episode 11.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

I’m worried ...

Something strange has been happening in my house over the past few weeks and I’m worried.

Things are changing. And it’s not just confined to one room.

I first noticed it when the food from the cupboards started disappearing. Then there was a problem with the washing machine. The clothes looked OK. Even when I ironed them they looked fine. It was just when I put them on that I noticed something odd: they were shrinking.

This is particularly strange because it has affected even my coats. Because of the warm weather I haven’t been wearing them, but the late autumnal change has brought cold winds and cloud-filled skies.

I think the heat from the summer has shrunk the clothes or the temperature dial on the washing machine has been set to high. Because something is desperately wrong.

At first I thought it was a mouse and even considered a mouse trap but these particular visitors are not leaving the usual traces of their visits.

Then I realised that it was indeed something else. Something that needed a bigger trap to catch it.

So, if you don’t see me for a while it’s because I am busy fighting this new-fangled contraption that is called a ‘free-will trap’: I know it’s the cause of all the strange happenings. I may set up a video camera and record my findings to post here at a later stage.

Things are indeed changing.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The question

There comes a time when I begin to dread the question I feel people are going to ask because I am tired of answering it. You see, they never seem satisfied with my answer and then they want to change my life ... the way they think it should be.

What’s the dreaded question?

It’s simple really. A few words but they cover a whole lifetime of queries.

“How’s your love life?”


Do you really mean ‘Am I seeing anybody?’ or ‘Any love interest on the cards’ or ‘Are you really still single?’, ‘What’s going on in your head! Just get somebody. It’s awkward to have a single friend.’

In that split second I have to decide what they really mean and how I will answer. Do I use humour, do I just tell them to mind their own business, or do I change the subject and then walk away?

The answer I want to give is, ‘My love life is ... nothing to do with you. If it was, then you’d already know all about it.’ But I don’t say that.

I usually just laugh and make some comment about them, saying that I will only ever be happy with them as my love interest. It usually causes more laughter because the people asking are always in a relationship.

Strange really.

Maybe I should ask them the same thing.

I don’t think they’d be too keen on answering that in the middle of a party. Who knows? Could lead to a whole different kind of party.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Forever single

Relationship templates are said to be created in the first few years of a child’s life. I know you can change things and make your own choices as you grow up but I wonder how much easier it is to blame your parents when things go wrong.

It may also be the most discrete way to ‘cop out’.

I have considered my own relationship choices and have concluded that I have a propensity towards impossible love options. I set my heart and mind on inaccessible love. I make long distance choices. I seem to purposefully select impractical and impossible matches. I know there are barriers that cannot be surmounted but I launch my grappling iron anyway – knowing it will never hold fast, because that was never my intention or design. I think I want to catch hold but not sure that I want to hold on. So I pull the rope back towards me: it’s not a fluke. I have made love impossible.

I wonder why ...

My belief is that I have come to believe things I saw when I was younger and things I have heard since I have grown.

One friend said to me, when I told her that I was separating from my long-term partner, “You’ll never find someone else as right for you. If you do separate ... you will be forever single.”

Maybe that’s what’s best for me.

Maybe that is what I’m choosing.

Maybe it’s time I rewrote my relationship template ... or I could stay happily forever single.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What matters now?

In wars people reassess what matters to them.

Luxuries are no longer necessities. Clean water, basic food to eat, a place to sleep and someone you care about – these are the things that become all important again.

Some of us may not live in war situations on a daily basis, but I know that sometimes I lose sight of all the things 
that matter because of all the things that clutter my life.

When environments change, the question of everyone’s lips is always ‘What matters now?’

In your life today can you answer the question ‘what matters now?’

In my answer people always come at the top of the list, things are secondary. This matters now.

I don’t need more wars and deaths to know that.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Worth living for

It is an uncomfortable truth that some people look at their lives and think they have nothing worth living for. 

There is an awful amount of pain and totally unnecessary suffering in this world and at moments it can seem like it is way too much to bear.

I speak from a place of personal knowledge.

Although we know that death comes to all of us – and way too soon, it always seems - some people make a choice to end their own lives because they cannot find anything worth living for. This always makes me terribly sad. Because I am so familiar with the intense sense of desperation and feeling lost.

There is this particular spot in the Cotswolds that I will never forget because it nearly became the place I took my last breath.

Why am I still here? Because it wasn’t my time. Because I wasn’t sure my plan would work and that I may suffer. Because I was more afraid of death than I was of life.

Because I somehow grasped a strand of light and knew that there could be something worth living for. I didn’t dare to dream what it could be. I just felt it was really there.

Since that day I have had many high days and several low days. I have grown and discovered areas of resolve and skills I didn’t believe could exist in me. I have experienced such love that I shudder to think I could have missed this depth of joy.

The tears that made me see the light of my own life were heavy but I am glad they were shed because I know now, today, that  ... I am worth living for.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Unexpected catches

The sun was shining, the windows were wide open and we were driving along the road when all of a sudden I saw a single leaf being tossed and blown ahead of me. It was high up but was falling as we got closer.

Some madness in me made me stick my hard out of the window and reach for it as we approached the spot. I caught it!

Laughing out loud I pulled my hand back into the car as I looked with amazement at the leaf in my hand.

I never really believed I would touch it, but there it was, in my hand.

My smile lasted for ages. We released the autumn leaf back into the light breeze as we continued down the road. A wish for more happiness on our lips.

I realised that that was a marvellous and unexpected catch.

While on a walk later that same day my eye caught something else falling from the sky. Again I reached up and a single white feather landed in my hand. More laughter followed at my good fortune.

Sometimes life is festooned with unexpected pleasures and opportunities. I’ve found that I just need to look out for them and be ready to catch them. It’s all good!

Monday, 3 October 2011


I’ve heard it said that connecting with people is the easiest thing in the world to do.

I’ve heard it said that connecting with people is the hardest thing in the world to do.

Observing children I see that sharing a smile together is so easy, and within minutes they are playing like they were always friends.

Some connections I don’t yet understand but I know they are true and will last a lifetime. Other connections are like frayed rope and I wish they were stronger, but no matter how I look at it, no matter what happens, these connections are not natural or true.

Connections should be natural – just like (organic) food.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

I wonder ...

I wonder what my brother would be doing now if he were still alive. He would have been retired by now, as he would be nearing his 70th birthday. But he didn’t live even to my age. Sadly, he died well before he was 50 years old.

© MHM My brother Roy, aged 23

As I wondered about my eldest sibling it made me think about my other brothers and sisters – the ones that are still around. How much do I really know about them?

Am I in the same position of wondering what they are doing now?

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the phone and find out ...

I wonder.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

To respond - Poetry by Ken Walsh

To visibly or invisibly acknowledge
Someone or their actions,
To transmit to them
That you know -

Then they knowing
That you know,
And it grows.

Ken Walsh (from his collection - Sometimes I Weep)

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