Blog 81 – 21.6.17. All will be well…

It’s quite rare to get a really decent summer in the UK…Wimbledon (starting next week) is invariably marked by torrential rain…that’s how you know it’s July.  Continue reading

Posted in Amazing World, Brexit, Cats, Everyday life in London, Family, Fun/Humour, Gratitude, Inspirational, looking for the good, Optimism, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Blog 80 – 17.6.17. Out of the ashes….

I know the smell of fire…a small but damaging one broke out at home when I was young. Now I’m imagining my lovely house as a charred, blackened, unrecognisable space…and several members of my family missing. How would that hole in my life be? Continue reading

Posted in Everyday life in London, Gratitude, London, looking for the good, Optimism, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Blog 79 – 7.6.17. London 2017 – just how bad can things get?

A recent pre-election chat with my 23 year old journalist niece, H, made me realise that some young people are pretty angry and think that things can barely get any worse…we are in a dark place she said.  The terror attacks are…terrifying. Different to other terror attacks, she says. H also says the baby boomers voted to increase university fees and effectively tax her generation’s education, while they themselves received a free tertiary education…but have left her £50,000 in debt. I guess that does sound pretty bad. She says her generation will be the first to be poorer than their parents, and will never own their own home. Not great. I’m not claiming to know any more than anyone else..but age does give you some sort of perspective. Husband Jay is fantastically good at history, so when I told him this, we decided to review the last century or so and find out just exactly how bad things are now. Imagine a huge expanse of calm sea …with the shiny tip of a shark’s fin in the distance…the news is the fin (cos it’s unusual!! that’s why it’s news!)…the everyday reality is surely the mass of calm water…

I’ve researched(!) the stats and present them here…but I’m also going to go anecdotal/from personal observation over my 50-something life. So – UK 1900: Male life expectancy – about 47. By 2010, it’s about 79…that’s better…and worse – cos it impacts the pension and elderly care cost burden, so – a double-edged sword. But even those 20-somethings will be happy that they are likely to live to 79 rather than 47, no? World War I (1914-1918) – the first German Zeppelin raid over London bombed Stoke Newington, Dalston (including Balls Pond Road), Southgate Grove, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Leytonstone…all very familiar places to me. In all about 900,000 British soldiers were killed and about 110,000 civilians (wikipedia)…1 million Brits killed over the 4 year period of WWI. Imagine that happening now. WWII (1939-1945): 380,000 soldiers and 67,000 civilians killed – even war deaths are improving – but still horrific. 43,000 Londoners died in The Blitz of WWII (1940-41). 43,000 Londoners. Yep, 43,000 (wikipedia). That’s bad. When you walk down the streets near my house, you may wonder why the odd block of 1960s flats breaks up an otherwise beautiful row of Victorian terraces…then you realise that these blocks coincide with the map of WWII London bomb sites (http://www.bombsight.org/#14/51.5049/-0.0900). Bombs. Right smack on my doorstep. Both the then residents and my house would have literally shuddered with fear and terror. From the 1960s through to the 1980s – nuclear attack was a distinct possibility – check this government produced ‘Protect and Survive’ leaflet http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4319466/How-survive-nuclear-war-1980-Government-leaflet.html if you want to scare yourself. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) regularly bombed London from the 1970s through to the 1990s. In the mid-1970s as a teenager, I left my little handbag in a fashion boutique on Oxford Street in London’s West End. I nearly shut down the whole street as police were called to deal with a suspect bomb until I wandered back to collect it.  They bombed Harrods in the 1980s….but didn’t stop us going shopping. My husband was regularly warned as he boarded planes alone as a youngster in the 1970s and 80s, to be aware of possible hi-jackings. But here’s some interesting information – the number of people killed by terror attacks in the UK has been going down: http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/24/terror-attack-related-deaths-are-actually-decreasing-in-the-uk-6531750/.  How likely are you to die just by being in London? Around 2000 people were killed or seriously injured on London’s roads in 2015 – about 130 of which were fatalities. Apparently around 10,000 people in London die each year from air pollution..10,000. Maybe we should be afraid of that and take immediate action.  I could go on…and I’ve posted this link before I think…but if you want to see the reality of just how much better things are generally – you really need to check this Hans Rosling video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo. A Brazilian friend of mine lives in London and forgoes the beaches and constant glorious sunshine of her home country because, aside from the fact that she has greater opportunities here, she feels far, far safer and more protected than being in Brazil. The immigrants know what we’ve got.

My behaviour has changed as a result of the terror attacks….I now make absolutely sure that I kiss husband Jay and tell him I love him before he leaves for work…and the best bit is the lovely smile I get when I do so. We can of course choose to believe that things are significantly worse/more dangerous/terrible. We always want to be right, don’t we? So we will heat-seek and focus on and click on links that support our beliefs.  The terrorists are very, very unlikely to kill us, so they (and most newspapers) want to do their best to at least depress us (and sell more newspapers). People say ‘be safe’. I regularly venture into central London…and to very famous possible terror targets. But we have absolutely amazing security services…and so, there’s a vast expanse of calm sea, and I am aware of the shark fin, but I’m in the boat…and in reality, I am overwhelmingly safe.

calm sea & boat-2137770_640.jpg

jx

Posted in Everyday life in London, Gratitude, London, Optimism, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Blog 78 – 23.5.17. Night walk to planet calm

Met friend Annie a few weeks ago….one of those friends who I can not see for a long time and just pick up with…we used to chase after our young black cats together at night, (trying to get them indoors), in the car park of the block of flats we lived in in London’s East End in the 1990s. That block had famously good ‘feng shui’ – people made great friends there ever since it was built in the 1920s…the key was density and open/connected garden spaces between the wings of the building. Annie said that if I have trouble getting to sleep (which I sometimes do)…I need to maybe go for a night walk…to tell my body it’s bed time and get my circadian rhythms more… rhythmic. So, like a lunatic, I was lured out at 10 o’clock one night by the stunning full moon. It was the kind of warm that makes the outside feel like the inside – the dark sky providing a roof with the bright lamp of the moon suspended. I took my binoculars with me in case there was anything to see once I got up the hill. I’d no sooner walked 5 minutes than I bumped into Brian from the ‘reduced’ counter at Sainsbury’s, having a drink outside one of the local pubs….he told me exactly when to come in to get the fresh produce on a 75% reduction (about 4.45pm) – he doesn’t mess about he said – he doesn’t want it to go to waste. I continued on and found that once I stopped to look carefully, I could see quite a few stars and probably a planet or two. With bare eyes, even in light-polluted London, and with a full moon, The Plough was visible to anyone looking….

A horror happened last night after a pop concert in Manchester…and young people have died. After the initial shock of these horrors – I steady myself with this: it is Spring and the cycle of the new buds and newly lush trees keep going, round and round…the beautiful moon waxes and wanes, the sun comes up again and again on a glorious hazy blue sky.. or glaring behind fluffy clouds…and life goes on – nature takes little notice of the horrors, these pock-marks of madness on an otherwise overwhelmingly beautiful face; the planet always continues the cycle.. and goes on… and rights itself…seeking the quiet comfort of rhythm and balance. That’s the way to go.

jx

Night Sky 2017.jpeg

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Blog 77 – 14.7.16 Brexit 4: Tick for Brexit?

Hmmm…I might stop writing about Brexit soon..but in the meantime:

Remainer: ‘What exactly is Brexit going to do for us…eh? What exactly?’

Leaver: ‘Set us free! Give us control of our borders!’

Remainer: ‘And?’

Leaver: ‘Give the political elite, the financial elite and the London elite a kick up the backside. They haven’t listened to us for decades…bet they’re listening now…’

The Leavers are right…their ears have pricked up…everyone’s ears have pricked up…Brexit has made lots of previously apathetic citizens interested in politics. At least for the time being. Tick for Brexit.

My 20 minutes on the cross-trainer at the gym today was carried out with occasional strange jerks as I near burst into tears (with what exactly…joy was it? pride maybe?) while I was watching Sky News on the little TV screen attached to the machine (http://news.sky.com/story/zimbabwes-citizens-not-backing-down-anymore-10501747). A non-politician called Pastor Evan Mawarire (of the social-media-assisted ‘ThisFlag’ movement) had walked free from a Zimbabwean court, his country’s flag wrapped around him, after being tried (unsuccessfully) for being rude to Mr. Mugabe…or some such. It was what he and the crowds around him (all wrapped in their national flag) seemed to be saying as he walked along…’we are not backing down…we have had enough of corruption…of being bullied and intimidated by the political elite…enough of not being heard…of being fearful ….the people have spoken…we have a voice.’  It seems they want to peacefully ‘take back their country’..and were no longer afraid to say so. Britain is not Zimbabwe…but some of this was sounding rather familiar…maybe the UK has crystalised a ‘take back our country’ zeitgeist? Could the UK end up inspiring other people to peacefully ‘take back control’? If the zeitgeist is about equality and fairness at all levels of society – then that’s amazing. If its flipside is jingoistic nationalism and xenophobia…well…I think the world has been there before… and it’s not pretty.

So…the Brexiteers…perhaps individually have their own, personal (some may say suspect) reasons for wanting to ‘take back control’ but maybe, collectively, they are a shining example of people power – the unheard echelons with nothing to lose, ignoring the powers that be and fearlessly saying NO!? Could it be that the Remainers…nay…the world, may end up thanking the Brexiteers?….really? Wow! Maybe this is all a little fanciful…but I’m trying to look for the good in Brexit…and, it could be a stretch…but omg… I just might find it.

jx

Zimbabwe flag

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Blog 76 -13.7.16. Brexit 3: now let’s just start that again

Sorry about this….but I have to tell you that until a few days ago I was pretty depressed…and I’ve never knowingly been depressed before….it’s a constantly present fug of hopelessness that pervades everything. Not even my busted achilles left me feeling like this.

I actually managed to speak to my local MP…she had voted IN…she mentioned that all the EU countries have people who want out…and Brexit may result in reform in the EU..but too late for us. Some say that the Brits have always led the way – first to get rid of/dis-empower our kings; first to industrialise, home of democracy….

I went for a walk and found myself at Sainsbury’s where I found 2 old guys standing outside shaking their heads and saying ‘what a mess’ …surprisingly they had voted IN…almost without exception everyone I spoke to over 65 voted OUT. We consoled each other for 5 minutes or so…realising that there was no other way to go but onwards and upwards.

I decided to sleep in our upstairs spare room that night…it is a spacious but comforting and cosy loft room with sloping ceiling and a smallish dormer window. I didn’t actually sleep all that well (as I expected to)…but somehow I felt very much better the next morning…I did some gratitude journalling (see Good Stuff page) and then decided that there was something decidedly wrong with my own bedroom. I looked around at the attic room….lower ceiling, less clutter and no mirrors facing the bed….I wondered what feng shui had to say about this and lo and behold, mirrors facing bed is a no-no. So today, the wall mirrors have gone (now inside wardrobe door) and I’m getting rid of stuff…throwing out the old and superfluous. The background fug of depression has gone. I don’t know what it’s like to get divorced …but I have a funny feeling that if you are the divorce-er and have decided to walk out, the initial feeling of trepidation at what you’ve done may be followed by a feeling of freedom and opportunity – a feeling that you can turn the page and start something new….and something better.

jx

dormer window

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Blog 75 – 2.7.16. Brexit 2: DON’T read the papers

Chaos, turmoil, back and front stabbing…no it’s not an urban riot, it’s the political elite reeling while the rest of us basically Keep Calm and Carry On. A very British revolution.

Here’s my advice to the poor folk who have to sort this out (incidently, it seems more and more likely that a whole bunch of women are going to be clearing up this mess and I’m really looking forward to that. In fact if Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon was interested in the rest of the UK, I’d vote for her!). I’m no expert, but by all accounts, neither is anyone else…so here it is…here’s what to do guys…I mean, gals:

  1. Bring in a proportional representation (PR) voting system….then hopefully more voices can be heard
  2. Set up the newly required Department of Trade in Birmingham (ie outside of London)
  3. Pay lots of cash to the best trade negotiators, wherever we can find them.
  4. Consider moving parliament (permanently or temporarily) to Birmingham or Manchester – the existing Houses of Parliament are in very expensive disrepair and the building is, in many ways, unfit for purpose.
  5. Get used to coalition government when necessary (this may focus their attention on good government instead of whether they are in power or not).
  6. Modify or get rid of the lobby system/stop cosying up to media moguls
  7. Make it a top priority to invest in wind energy/green energy so we’re not beholden to anyone for fuel.
  8. Proceed with airport expansion/HS2 railway scheme.
  9. Re property development – change planning laws so that all new London/city developments must sell/rent at least 75% of their units to British residents before they can market anything abroad.
  10. Heavily promote investment by housing associations in mixed rented housing in the south-east in particular and by housing associations/private developers/institutions in private rented housing country-wide to increase rented housing – including retirement housing.
  11. You will have to do something about immigration; but don’t send back any resident EU citizens (it would only cause retaliation and ill-feeling with the EU) and remember we need people to come and work here for all sorts of reasons. Also…be aware that immigrants want to go to peaceful, stable, economically thriving places where they can be free to be who they are and fulfil their potential….also… they follow the money….if immigration totally dries up… will the UK follow suit?

I’ve sussed why the cat is always happy…he doesn’t read the newspapers, he just sleeps on them.

cat on news.jpg

jx

 

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Blog 74 – 25.6.16. Brexit 1: EU kidding me??

Dear Folks….I’m finding myself needing to write..but not about my leg. My leg will survive. I’m not so sure about the UK, following the historic European Union (EU) referendum. I feel I woke up yesterday in a parallel universe. I’m generally an optimistic person but I really need someone to tell me something really, really fantastically good about leaving the EU. All I feel is that the UK has been broken, its economy being shattered…all for some nebulous ideas of sovereignty and against big business, when we live in a globalised, multi-national and connected world that will remain so, whether we are in the EU or not. I am depressed….usually I try to find hope…but just now, I can find nothing. Maybe London’s underground will be a little bit more comfortable because there are ‘less immigrants clogging it up’. Maybe house prices will fall and rents will be lower. I fear there will be great anger and resentment against the Brexiteers when the s**t hits the fan, (which it is already doing)…. and this may lead to social unrest. I guess this is what happens when people feel they don’t have a voice…I’m pretty sure that the introduction of proportional representation (PR) might have averted this. I guess one way to be heard is to smash something. The Brexiteers don’t seem to realise that this could end with fragmentation/unrest/more wars in Europe – as our exit has wider ramifications than their fear of immigration/dislike of big business. I am passionate about the right to vote …but right now I don’t feel I will ever vote again. The stability and well-being of our country creates the back-drop of all our individual thinking and planning, whether we are aware of it or not….what’s in the background now?

I need another country to move to. Who will have me? Where will I find the tolerant, stable, peace-loving, dynamic, involved, connected, outward looking country that the UK used to be? We have given up a unique and privileged one foot in/one foot out position in the EU that we will never be able to obtain again – the best of both worlds…even if the EU is  unquestionably flawed.

I am resilient..but this is an earth-shattering strike for me and for the UK. We will both take a long time to recover… and people will suffer. I can’t believe I’m writing this. Have to believe it will all come good. I believe the world can do great things when it acts as one. One body…like the man said…none can function without the other. Anyone up for a forming a new, democratic, trading club? How about you, Norway/Sweden/Denmark? And Iceland. Love Iceland.

Oh well, at least it’s a lovely day today.

EU vote_150935

So long, and thanks for all the fish…

jx

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Achilles Blog 73 – 2016 Event Horizon

Folks…I haven’t posted ‘cos my leg is fixed (no it isn’t) and I didn’t think I had anything else to say….on Achilles tendons at least. My leg has yet to recover full muscle size and ankle flexibility…and I’m working on it…and I’m walking on it. Stunning, amazing leg. Stunning amazing body. Trying its best to do what I tell it to do and believing whatever I believe…so I better believe good…

I’ve said it before I think…walking is the key. It might be the key to nearly everything….when you walk you can check things out…the bare branches of the trees, the Christmas decorations, the cloudy sky, the stunning moon, a clean pavement, the latest model of the Audi A3,..who has moved in across the road?.. neighbour Sylvia accosting someone to help her with her shopping, newly painted railings, children on new scooters….our great new street lamps…and you are in the real reality, instead of the one to come, the one that’s been…or the fantasy one on line. It’s the only one that doesn’t stress me out I think….where all I have to do is be in it. And my legs get to do what they were born to do.

Don’t really want to make resolutions for 2016…worried about breaking them. But I think it’s worth focusing on what I want…and then maybe immediately forgetting it (think (husband) Jay calls this an ‘event horizon’…when you move to a doorway/boundary and immediately forget why you’re there/what you came for. But at least you’re heading to what you were looking for). The New Year is a doorway to the next bit. I’m just gonna have a feeling good focus…and heat-seek anything that fits the bill I think. Gosh…just remembered I stumbled across this Oprah Winfrey interview on line where a buddhist monk nails it for feeling good in relationships….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEUxFNkISnU. Could be useful for some post-holiday repairs…

Here’s to making 2016 a healing year…my body wants to be fantastic (I mean listen guys …it has an auto-repair function and just naturally wants to be great)…if we all focus on the smallest bits of great stuff that is always happening…there will be more healing all round.

jx

PS…don’t know when I’ll post again…but if I ever have anything to amuse or edify you with, you’ll get it emailed to you straightaway by hitting the ‘follow’ button.

night time snowglobe

Posted in Achilles Tendon Recovery, Exercise/Walking/Physiotherapy, Healing, The Marvellous Human Body, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Achilles Blog 72 – 25.3.15. Now where was I?… ah yes, the Gym…

Well, it’s nearly a year since the accident. I can do pretty much everything I did before…but I’m on notice that my leg and other bits of my body need my continuing attention…..

My leg in plaster got me into all sorts of conversations over the last year…..but I didn’t expect my ‘Churchservice for Schools’ t-shirt to get me kissed by a total stranger. Myself and 4 other volunteers from local churches have been wearing these t-shirts while touring an Easter play around local primary schools and I forgot to take it off before I walked into the gym, thereby immediately catching the attention of 55 year old Dave, who had served a 25 year sentence for murdering a child abuser and had decided that since I had something to do with the Church, I would be open to hearing his story. I could have backed away… but he sat down at my table, showed me his Rolex and new trainers, calmly explained he was a gangster and knew all the ne’er-do-wells in south London and that he really, really loved his mum, who trailed around after him to jails around the country until she told him she couldn’t afford to do it anymore…and he finally realised the impact his actions had had on her life. After his detailed descriptions of life ‘inside’, I realised he was the genuine article. I also realised that a still angry man, who vehemently hates ‘nonces’ (Nonce (slang) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and whom I would normally avoid/have nothing to do with, deserved my time and my and society’s forgiveness, and was in his own way, actually delightful. Which is probably why he shook my hand and gave me a kiss on the cheek before departing. Do you ever wonder why some things happen?  Do they maybe just happen? Maybe. Was there anything to be gained by busting my achilles tendon? No idea… but I now know I need to slow down and walk more. Was there anything to be gained by meeting Dave? No idea….but our little touring play tells children that Easter is about forgiveness….and maybe I have something to learn there…..
We perform the closing song in the Easter show (‘Sherbert Holmes and the Extraordinary Case of the Empty Tomb’) using sign language which was much appreciated, particularly in the special needs school we performed in… and if you want see how lovely it can be when a stranger unexpectedly talks to you, check this touching video of a hearing impaired young man…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyrnfQ9Vhk8

 

 

jx

ChurchService

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