Friday, June 29, 2012


So I've been doing a bit of sketching lately, trying to sketch the foxes beside our house. On Friday, I visited the National Portrait Gallery with a friend, and there was an exibit on self-portraits. Lots of them were naked, and I wondered how one could be so vulnerable that they would paint themselves naked and then show other people. I decided that I would try making a self-portrait (not naked, so don't panic!) as a way of trying to see myself in a different light. Trying to see myself as other people may see me, rather than through the filter of self-doubt and injury and criticism that I use to view myself.

Here is my first attempt.

It looks quite pretty. Now I can't tell if I'm prettier than I think I am, or if I actually have a healthier self-esteem than I admit to. Why else would you draw yourself pretty if you didn't actually think you were - is it because deep down I do think I am pretty, or because I was just faithfully drawing what I saw in the mirror?

The next task is to buy a mirror bigger than 15cms in diameter to make the task easier.
(Interestingly, because it's a mirror, it is a mirror image of me. It is what I see of myself when I look in the mirror. My husband finds the picture odd, because it's not what he sees when he looks at me - I've been reversed! Maybe my next sketch should be based on a picture so that I can see what I really look like!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Parents and children

This excerpt is taken from Chapter 2 of 'About a Boy', by Nick Hornby. It's one of my favourite books, and I especially love the scene below. Totally how I feel about children and friends with children (sorry!), and everytime I read this passage I laugh in guilty pleasure. And then feel terribly guilty. Enjoy!

Clutter! Will's friend John's house was full of it. John and Christine had two children - the second had been born the previous week, and Will had been summoned to look at it - and their place was, Will couldn't help thinking, a disgrace. Pieces of brightly coloured plastic were strewn all over the floor, videotapes lay out of their cases near the TV set, the white throw over the sofa looked as if it had been used as a piece of gigantic toilet paper, although Will preferred to think that the stains were chocolate... How could people live like this?
   Christine came in holding the new baby while John was in the kitchen making him a cup of tea. 'This is Imogen,' she said.
   'Oh,' said Will. 'Right.' What was he supposed to say next? He knew there was something, but he couldn't for the life of him remember what it was. 'She's ...' No. It had gone. He concentrated his conversational efforts on Christine. 'How are you, anyway, Chris?'
   'Oh you know. A bit washed out.'
   'Been burning the candle at both ends?'
   'No. Just had a baby.'
   'Oh. Right.' Everything came back to the sodding baby. 'That would make you pretty tired, I guess.' He'd deliberately waited a week so that he wouldn't have to talk about this sort of thing, but it hadn't done him any good. They were talking about it anyway.
   John came in with a tray and three mugs of tea.
   'Barney's gone to his grandma's today,' he said, for no reason at all that Will could see.
   'How is Barney?' Barney was two, that was how Barney was, and therefore of no interest to anyone apart from his parents, but, again, for reasons he would never fathom, some comment seemed to be required of him.
   'He's fine, thanks,' said John. 'He's a right little devil at the moment, mind you, and he's not too sure what to make of Imogen, but ... he's lovely.'
   Will had met Barney before, and knew for a fact that he wasn't lovely, so he chose to ignore the non sequitur.
   'What about you, anyway, Will?'
   'I'm fine, thanks.'
   'Any desire for a family of your own yet?'
   I would rather eat one of Barney's dirty nappies, he thought. 'Not yet,' he said.
   'You are a worry to us,' said Christine.
   'I'm OK as I am, thanks.'
   'Maybe,' said Christine smugly. These two were beginning to make him feel physically ill. It was bad enough that they had children in the first place; why did they wish to compound the original error by encouraging their friends to do the same? For some years now Will had been convinced that it was possible to get through life without having to make yourself unhappy in the way that John and Christine were making themselves unhappy (and he was sure they were unhappy, even if they had achieved some peculiar, brain-washed state that prevented them from recognising their own unhappiness).
Now John and Christine had taken the Jessica route to oblivion, he had no use for them whatsoever. He didn't want to meet Imogen, or know how Barney was, and he didn't want to hear about Christine's tiredness, and there wasn't anything else to them any more. He wouldn't be bothering with them again.
   'We were wondering,' said John, 'whether you'd like to be Imogen's godfather?' The two of them sat there with an expectant smile on their faces, as if he were about to leap to his feet, burst into tears and wrestle them to the carpet in a euphoric embrace. Will laughed nervously.
   'Godfather? Church and things? Birthday presents? Adoption if you're killed in an air crash?'
   'You're kidding.'
   'We've always thought you have hidden depths,' said John.
   'Ah, but you see I haven't. I really am this shallow.'
   They were still smiling. They weren't getting it.
   'Listen. I'm touched that you asked. But I can't think of anything worse. Seriously. It's just not my sort of thing.'
   He didn't stay much longer.

See why I love it?! See why it makes me feel guilty to love it?!?! 

(If you want to read more of this great book you can check it out here.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bedlam in London

It's sunny - very sunny - in London. As a result, all the women are lying about on the grass with their shirts and pants pulled up, exposing expanses of white flesh, and the men have gone full crazy and have started ripping their shirts off.

Who knew the sun would make the Londoners crazy?

I must be assimilating a little, as I went for a walk along the Thames yesterday and there was a light breeze, the seagulls were calling, the sun was on my back, and I felt that if I had had my togs I would have jumped into the river without a moments hesistation.
(And then regretted it horribly once the sewage flowed into my mouth and eyes and I bumped my knee on a grounded shopping trolley (There are about 14 of those in the stretch of Thames mud by our house)...)

So instead I thought about doing a little dance, a bit of a boy in Taika Waititi's 'Boy' type of dance, but then I thought I'd better not as I didn't want to get my arse kicked by angry Londoners - of which, there are many.

So I haven't given myself over totally to London madness, but it seems the rest of the city has. We're heading for another scorcher today (17 degrees! In March!) so I'll try and keep myself under control.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


God, please pour down your love on the city of my home. Bring comfort to those who mourn. Peace to those whose hearts remain haunted by that day and those that followed. Heal our city and our lives, God. Restore hope. Hope for tomorrow.
Bring comfort, Father. Hold us close and heal us.

22 February 2011. A day I want to forget, but can't. A day that will live forever in my memory. I day that I have thought about every single day since. A day that brought destruction and hurt and so much fear.

God please heal my heart and my home and help us all to move forward. Please release the bitter sting of pain.

Help us to find peace.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

A return

I am back!

I was on hiatus as i started a travel blog and knew my family would be reading it, so I hid this one from my profile and forgot about it. (!) I've now created a separate profile for the travel blog, so I can return to my true form on this blog.


An outlet!

I have been in England now for over 70 days and I only know one person besides my husband. One person to talk to, and a husband who is grieved by my constant ear-bashing. So, blog, I have returned to use you for my evil purposes.

I am a little bit lonely, and a little bit disappointed in the UK, and a little bit bored. I have decided I want to be a historian and to spend my days in research, but it is proving difficult to find a job - or work out other ways to make a living - doing that. Sometimes I feel elated, like today when I visited a big Waterstone's book shop that was like a giant geek mecca. Seeing all those books about history inspires me that maybe I could write one. That history does matter, and it makes me feel alive, which a slug like me needs. And other days I just can't be bothered with the hassle of carving a niche for myself, of searching for something different, of trying to be confident enough to try and sell myself.

I haven't been very brave over the past year and a bit. The earthquakes really took a chunk out of my confidence and security and self-belief. At uni in 2010 I almost felt whole - I found where I belong, and, for once, I felt really successful and really clever. It felt good to get A's and to be told "you're good enough". I've spent so much of this last year feeling scared and not good enough and hiding away in my living room where I felt a little more secure than I did in the rest of Christchurch.

And now I'm struggling to recover from that. We've taken on this new adventure to England, and it's not as safe and secure and homely as I expected. It is expensive and dirty and full of people who I'm scared of or who can't understand me (and I, them). And now I have to get back into the swing of earning money, and I really want to do something I love, but the question is - have I got the self-belief to do it?

Life, huh? Many challenges, few easy solutions.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not this year, sorry.

I hate mother's day - it always evokes negative feelings, rather than happy ones. My mother always tried to force love and respect from us on mother's day, and thus it actually became a very difficult day for our family, rather than a special one.

We couldn't do anything right. If we made breakfast, we got yelled at for not making lunch. If we did the dishes for the day, mother cried because she'd had to cook. If we didn't get the right present, chosen from her precise list, then there were tears and tantrums. If my mother had to lift a finger on mother's day, then she was somehow less respected than the other mothers, her family less caring, and her life more burdensome.

Sometimes, if we were particularly unlucky, it would all go pear shaped and we would get the full monty. We would hear all about what failures we were, how we were such a horrible family, how we would send our mother to an asylum. She would storm out of the house and we were never sure when she would come back.

I'm not saying we were perfect: we were probably rather lazy and uncommitted. But that's not the way to go about loving your kids and gaining their respect. In my opinion, a good mother's day would include acceptance and grace and appreciation for however your family tries to love you. When love becomes conditional, and becomes about ritual and meeting some unspoken set of criteria, then it's not really love, but duty. And the danger with this is that any love that does exist can become resentment.

Whenever it gets to that time of year when all your junk mail and spam emails shout "EVERYTHING FOR MUM", "SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE SPECIAL", "TREAT MUM ON HER SPECIAL DAY" all I want to do is snarl and rip it all up with my spittle-covered teeth. You can't buy love. You can't force love. You can't hurt others in the name of love.

If you love your mum and she loves you, you don't need to pander to some stupid day to prove it. And just because you don't buy into the dictates of consumerism doesn't mean you love each other any less.

This year, I won't be celebrating mother's day. I've tried so hard every other year, and I'm tired. Love should be reciprocal. I know it isn't always, and I know the Christlike thing is to love regardless, but this year I'm afraid the stretch is too great. If you're always going to come up short then there comes a time when you decide to try a little less.

I'm sick of coming up short.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why is everyone having babies?

I hate babies. Well 'hate' is a strong word. I don't like babies! I want lots of carefree, irresponsible, fun friends. Not friends with babies and other children! Bring back the rock and roll.

And I don't want children. So if everyone could please stop harrassing me about having kids that would be swell.

Have your own stinkin bebees. Oh wait, you are! All of you!

I'm off to do what I want when I want. Hurrah for the tv liberty!