When I was living out my extended adolescence during the 90s and ‘noughties’ I had what you might call an absurd yearning to have been born during a different era. I say absurd because there really is no point yearning for something quite so impossible; surely it would be better/less crazy to utilize one’s time dreaming about something more plausible, like flying to another planet for instance.
I wished with quite a lot of energy that I had been about when it was all flower power, peace, love and being infatuated with Jim Morrison. I had this (thinking about it now) really quite embarrassing Janice Joplin affectation going on. Ridiculous, if only because, even if I had been about then, chances are I would have been working in Boots or something and not sitting about in a field at Woodstock staring at the pretty colours in the sky. Not that there is anything wrong with working at Boots – in fact, I’m sure I went for an interview when I was 17 to do just that (I ended up at Pizza Hut instead though). Nevertheless I have always been somewhat envious of people who lived (and loved) through that time and actually experienced it. But the point is, my fantasy was all about a fairly hedonistic, self-absorbed paradigm which would probably have landed me in a rehabilitating or psychiatric institution at some point. If indeed it had been at all possible to get in a time machine and find myself living during another decade. And also ridiculous, as the reality is that the 70s hippie ideal was a lot more altruistic than my fantasies were.
Dede, whose 70th birthday celebration I photographed last week, told us in a very informal and lovely speech all about how she arrived in London aged 22 from North America with not much more than her guitar, which of course was covered in flowers. Before long she had hooked up with an amazing bunch of people who hailed from all over the world, including South Africa (where I grew up), and formed a band called the Solid British Hat Band. The songs they sung were absolutely NOT about lying around selfishly in a muddy field pretending to be a pixie (I’ve abandoned such notions, now, honest… not to have done so would be quite ludicrous, wouldn’t it?). Instead they were about protecting the world in which we live. In fact Dede and her band mates, one of whom has been her husband for a pretty amazingly long time, sang songs from their albums Mister Monday and Goodbye Rainbow at the party and it was so interesting to hear the very contemporary themes, warning of the damage we humans do to the world and reminding people to take care.
Today Dede continues to care passionately about her world and is standing as a candidate representing the National Health Action Party in her home borough of Fulham, a group which is currently fighting the proposed selling off of Charing Cross Hospital. Fulhamites can vote for Dede on the 22nd March and help send a strong message to the powers that be.
Dede used her 70th to publicise this cause and others and I can only say that she seems like a pretty wonderful woman. I really enjoyed listening to the Solid British Hat Band doing their thing in central London last week and chatting with some of Dede’s friends afterwards.
So, of course, I didn’t grow up in the 60s and certainly wasn’t part of any hippie revolution, and never arrived anywhere with not much more than a guitar covered in flowers. Instead my extended adolescence took place later, but even so I spent my time listening to Bob Dylan and Janice Ian pretending otherwise. For some reason, and always a bit behind the times, I have recently been catching up with my own generation and listening to Radiohead a lot, which is from my era. Son No 1 told me off for having it on too loudly in the car and Son No 2 was appalled by the expletives on the Pablo Honey album.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t listen to this when you’re in the car,” I said.
He greeted my mother with “You’re so f-word special….”
He said f-word and not the ‘f’ word, I’m relieved to say. The fact that he does know it’s out of bounds and stays within that boundary despite my lax attitude with my in-car musical choices is a great source of pride for me with my impressive parenting skills!
“Pardon?” said my mother.
“Mum’s been listening to songs with swear words in!!”
Sometimes you just want loud guitars and mournful Radiohead songs in the car though, don’t you?
At least I’ve long given up my nonsensical, slightly delusional dreams of having been born during a completely different decade, which is undoubtedly a good thing. But if I’m honest, I am still rather struggling to be a proper grown-up even though I very much have my feet on the ground in this era. Of course, I still sometimes hanker after a life as an eternal pixie with flowers in my hair dancing in some muddy field somewhere (Mrs. G, I’m kinda desperate to get in that fantasy camper van with you) – but I’m also aware the reality of that might send me a little bit loopy! You see, not so delusional after all.
Here are some images from Dede’s fantastic wonderful fundraising 70th.
I like leaving London sometimes. Gives me a chance to take photographs of different places and I take my camera everywhere with me. Getting out of London can be tricky of course, but on my most recent journey getting back in was the problem.
Rather unhelpfully, there is something not quite right with my SATNAV. I say not quite right. What I mean is, I think my SATNAV is a psychopathic monster sent from Hades to confuse, torment and wreck my mind. Which is odd when you consider that a SATNAV is meant to guide you from A to B, prevent you from getting lost and save you the hassle of looking at maps while you’re driving, so in essence, keep you safe.
For a while, I thought it was just me being daft but I had a witness to the SATNAV’s murderous tendencies when it told me repeatedly to turn right as I drove up a dual carriageway. Had I listened to the digital voice in my car that time I would have driven through a crash barrier, across a stream of traffic coming the other way, over some pedestrianised paving – mowing down several innocent bystanders in the process – several times, and still not arrived at the place I was aiming for.
So, you may well ask why during half term I chose to rely on the faulty software once more (my own fault, I know – I need to do something about this). Heading out of London with too many Wotsits, digestive biscuits, bottles of Lucozade and some cursory apples to make us feel better about our less healthy travelling snacks was fine. There were really only a few moments where it told me to turn left or right in 100 meters only to say immediately afterwards, “turn left NOW”. So, I’m a lot of things but a fast and dangerous driver I am not, and there is no way I could have driven 100 meters within a second. Whether I turn or not the SATNAV frequently says “recalculating route” in as monotone and dispassionate a voice as you can imagine, and I can’t help but begin to hear the unspoken ‘Turn left now, NOW, NOW, like I told you, you stupid cow!’ or “Oh, OK, dumbass, I’ll recalculate once again, shall I?” Good grief, I wonder as I obediently swerve just in time or incorrectly as it turns out, twitching only ever so slightly, what on earth have I done to warrant this? (Not updated the software, indeedy, you may well say.)
On the way back from our little half-term break, the SATNAV took a pun-worthy turn for the worse. Sometimes it suggests an alternative route due to a ‘traffic event’. I’ve learnt to ignore these moments as it either doesn’t take us anywhere different even if I’ve said, OK, reroute us, or it guides us straight into an actual traffic event that we can’t escape from. So I’m not sure why the machine suggested we come off the road we were on and head into London along one of the most circuitous routes you can possibly imagine (little fingers perhaps) but it was during this most bizarre detour that I begun to believe that my SATNAV wasn’t just a little out of date but actually demented and that it may even hate me with all its little mechanical heart. Yes, you’re right, I hear you – it has no heart, of course. “Turn left now, recalculating route, turn left now, recalculating route” – oh my god, we’ve just been here, haven’t we, again and again and again at one point….
As we went round and round and in and out of roads I have never been on nor hope to ever visit again I began to unravel. Our journey which should have taken 3 hours was getting longer and longer. My oldest passenger, just 10, fed up plus feeling slightly guilty perhaps for accepting the SATNAV’s alternative route suggestion began to hate me almost as much as the SATNAV does. I can’t quite remember why he yelled he never ever wanted to speak to me again, ever, and that he wished I were dead, but driving alongside him in the dark and in the pouring rain I began to see that I really, really, really need to do something about that SATNAV before we head out on our next journey. Otherwise I might be driven to a place of complete insanity. I mean, I just don’t want to share my travels with something that seems so determined to send me running down the motorway being chased by men or women (of course) in white coats, crushed Wotsits in my hair, gibbering about the SATNAV that my delusional mind has turned to Beelzebub. Why does it hate me so much, I’d ask them plaintively. Why???
Anyway, we had a nice time away and I am sort of refreshed for the next half of the Spring term, I think, and I’m sure I’ll get over the sense of feeling utterly frazzled by our journey home. I will get that SATNAV sorted, because of course, it’s just madness not too, isn’t it? And I love to take photographs of places other than London so it would be a shame not to venture out of the city again soon. Perhaps I should listen to Son No 1s pleas and just get the train next time. Hope everyone else had a good half term and is raring and ready to go now that the kids are firmly ensconced back at school. I’ll tell you all about the amazing Dede next week, whose 70th birthday party I photographed this weekend – she’s incredible!
So after nearly 11 years of being woken before dawn most mornings my body is now trained to wake at 5.30 or thereabouts. Often I go back to sleep but there are days when that just doesn’t seem possible. So last week I actually got up, dragged on several layers of clothes, picked up a couple of cameras and a tripod and set out to the local common to take photographs at dawn. I’d always said I’d do that when I wasn’t so tired from baby-dom anymore and perhaps I’ve reached that stage. They do say the first two years are the most exhausting and Son No 3 is very nearly at his third birthday; by which time, usually the world opens again and space for stuff other than your fast-growing infant begins to materialise – woohoo!
Photographing landscapes at dawn is a new experience for me and there is a lot to learn but I was really lucky to have ice on the pond last week which made for some really interesting patterns and textures – something I like, although I’m not sure if such things will sell. We’ll have to see. Some of the photographs I took are a little too ‘Disneyfied’ for my tastes but there are two or three that I’m thinking about printing, framing and selling. I think I have to wait and see how I feel about them in a while – seems that’s the best way to edit this sort of thing.
In fact, I enjoyed myself so much last week I went again this morning. No ice this time but some fabulous Canada Geese having an argument and leaving some great waves of water behind them as they landed on the pond, which was great to see regardless of anything else. Sadly, I didn’t end up with photographs I’m that happy with this week but as I say it’s a learning experience and I will certainly be out again at that time of day before long. Turns out I love early mornings; who knew? Off I trot whilst the kids are still sleeping, spend a couple of hours on my own listening to the birds singing at dawn, doing what I love doing, and back home via the shop to buy bacon by 8.30 having done a load of work before the day has even begun. What more can you ask for?
To be able to climb back into bed without being mauled by a small person would be nice, but admittedly he told me he loved me and that I have hot boobies as he lay on my chest stroking my face – so perhaps it’s not so bad after all. (Incidentally, just in case there is any confusion, he means hot as in very warm because a) he’s my son, b) he’s two, and c) he’s not yet been indoctrinated by our society’s fetishism for female mammary glands and has never heard of page 3! And I think it’s fair to say I have never had hot boobies in the alternative sense.)
Enjoy half-term. We’re off to visit friends where my feral brood get to be free-range too and run around in the one of the biggest gardens I’ve ever seen until way after dark screaming and laughing and occasionally beating each-other up, and I get to sit down and drink glasses of wine with my friends while the boys are thoroughly occupied. Bliss!
Before I go, thanks for all the lovely feedback on last week’s post about old family photographs. Always gratifying to hear.
Have fun and remember I am offering a 5% discount off the full price of a family shoot at the moment to anyone who shares this or any other of my posts via social networking sites. (Terms & Conditions apply – see prices page of my website)
First of all I must apologise to the all the people who are over 44 years old – I am about to have one almighty moan about having turned 44 yesterday. I’m not sure why I should have found this particular birthday so upsetting as I’ve never worried about getting older before. In fact, I have always quite welcomed it as I have, foolishly it turns out, always suspected that with every year that passes another tiny modicum of maturity must surely emerge.
Earlier Son No 3 asked me, “Are you growed-up now, Mum?”
“So they tell me, I answered.”
Maybe that was not the correct response. Maybe my baby son needs to know that the person in charge of him knows exactly what she’s doing and is absolutely as growed-up as it is possible to be at the grand old age of 44.
The thing is despite no longer being in my early 40s but now very much in my mid 40s I do without any doubt feel ‘not-even-remotely-grown-up’ and have no idea when one begins to feel such a thing, because sometimes you meet people and you think, goodness, they’re very sorted and grown-up and then you get to know them and it turns out, either because they are grown-up enough to admit it or because they aren’t but their behaviour kinda gives them away – that they seem just as perplexed and un-grown-up as you do! So now I am fairly certain that the notion of ‘grown-up’ is rather like Father Christmas – something that, as time goes on, you might begin to suspect is a little fantastical perhaps.
But while the mind might not grow up in quite the way my 2, 7 and 10 year children probably imagine it does, the body on the other hand certainly does with or without the person inside onboard. As was so clearly and kindly pointed out by a young and oh, so trendy hairdresser I went to see a while ago, but not since he said the following,
“Well, I don’t think I can let you leave the salon without doing something about these greys…”
I said, “No thank you!”
Because I am actually quite interested in my hair going grey and I want to see it happen, not cover it all up. Admittedly, I am fortunate as the greys are appearing quite slowly and they look OK. I’m quite vain though so if that weren’t the case I might have said, “Yes, please!” (And I’m certainly thinking about a jar of Jolen because no one wants a ‘tash? Well, no one like me that is.)
As it was I ended up agreeing to have some entirely colourless thing which cost just as much as the colour thing plastered all over my hair and nearly doubling the bill because I’m a twit and not grown-up enough to say,
“Do stop trying to sell me stuff and just cut my hair, please!”
Thank goodness a friend now just sends me a text to tell me her home-visiting hairdresser is due to come along and would I like to pop along too? It’s all much easier; no-one tries to dye my hair or points out the greys, or sells me the most expensive conditioner in the world and I don’t even have to come up with the idea of actually getting my hair cut in the first place – just answer yes, or no. Much like someone who isn’t very grown-up at all. Phew!!
Turns out I haven’t moaned about being 44 in the least. Just about not being very grown-up but undeniably ageing nevertheless. Maybe that is what’s depressing me in the end. The fact that I still feel about 17 years old, make the same bloody mistakes as I did then and always have done, still can’t find a way to deal with said mistakes as I’d like to, but am anyhow getting creakier, (would love to say leakier because it rhymes but it’s not actually an image I want to promote) greyer and a little bit more decrepit by the day. Aaaaaaaah! 44!
So this week I woke up with a particularly annoying earworm wriggling round my hormonally weathered brain. Have you heard It’s my Belly Button by Rhett and Link, a couple of Internet celebrities the boys enjoy who also sing I’m a Textpert (Epic Rap Battle) and Nerd vs. Geek (Epic Rap Battle), both of which I was surprised to find in my iTunes collection one day? If not, the chorus goes “It’s my belly button, my belly, belly button, I won’t pretend like it’s nothing because my belly, belly button’s really, really something, something I want to show to you”.
It’s one of Son No 3’s favourite songs although he also seems to enjoy Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon as well and I have to say listening to a two-year-old sing Bobby Hebb’s Sunny is ineffably cute. The least edifying of the boys’ favourite songs has to be Yoghurt which Son No 2 thinks is marvellous, although it’s certainly rather dubious and thank goodness he is actually too young to pick up on any of the truly revolting connotations. It’s pretty far from my idea of a song worth listening to I have to say.
Despite the fact that It’s My Belly Button was festooned inside my soggy head for longer than I would ideally want, I think Rhett and Link are OK as far as Internet celebrities go – they’re certainly amusing and seemingly don’t use bad language which is more than I can say for me. But of course, what the boys are absorbing online is always a worry. And apparently what I’m absorbing too because I without a doubt wouldn’t have consciously chosen It’s My BellyButton to be my head’s lift-Muzak of the day.
“Don’t let them go near YouTube!” was the alarming warning we received when attending a talk at school last term about secondary school transfer. What? No YouTube at all? Really? No – apparently according to the teacher YouTube is just too dangerous by far. Oh! Oh dear – “I don’t really use the Internet, Mummy,” said Son no 2, “I just go on YouTube”. Well, I’ve got that one catastrophically wrong then, haven’t I?
Regular readers of my tiny little corner of the blogosphere may have picked up that I have some ambivalent feelings about the Internet. On the one hand I appreciate so much about it; I’ve been able to share my photography and therefore spread the news which means people get in touch with me when they want portraits done. This week I was asked to supply something for a magazine for the first time and I was also asked if one of the images I created for some college work can be reproduced, both of which are things that came about because of the Internet. Goodness, I doubt I’d even have been able to study at all right now if it weren’t for the Internet. Added to that I have had some really useful conversations online with photographers whose work I like and respect which again would not have happened at all if it weren’t for the World Wide Web. And I am here right now banging on about my concerns about the Internet thanks totally to the Internet without which these thoughts would just go round and round incessantly inside my head alongside songs about belly buttons –whether this is a good thing or not is debatable, of course.
There is so much that is positive and good about the Internet. But it doesn’t come without its costs. Nothing ever does.
A while before Christmas an article about the Internet NOT being a harbinger of narcissism was doing the rounds on Facebook. In it all the Internet’s fabulous points were raised and many of the negative things that people have suggested may be worth thinking about were dismissed.
(“Mum” said Son No 1 “You should be a YouTuber, because all they’re doing is ranting too and if you’re going to rant you may as well be like the YouTubers! And make some money. And get rich!!!”
“Really, Son No 1? Really? You actually want your mother spouting off on YouTube – I don’t think you do, my darling – In fact, I think that would be absolutely the opposite of what you want!”)
Anyway, so I was saying…
…But and this is most important, the article was looking at things in quite a limited way – i.e. A has an effect on B and therefore A is the cause of B’s potential problems or wellbeing. This is kinda crazy thinking. The world just doesn’t work like that. The Internet and the World Wide Web did not suddenly appear out of a vacuum. The Internet isn’t some entity that was just dropped on planet earth to wreak havoc or induce some kind of miraculous change in society, democratising information and power. The Internet and all the information we share on it started to develop when it did because it is an expression of our collective consciousness and its seeds are routed in various places – how it impacts on us and us on it is a continual back and forth, inside and out, up and down dialogue between us and our expressiveness, which in this case manifests itself as the Internet. And our collective consciousness according to some academics was becoming more narcissistic towards the end of the 70s just as a tiny number of counter-culture members in San Francisco, presumably reacting against the seeds that generated any narcissistic epidemic that may exist today, were creating a small, pioneering online community which was the precursor to all social networking sites and which are such a huge part of our lives today.
During this period extended families continued to become less economically viable and the cost benefit ratio of smaller nuclear families had over time driven a sea change in how we Westerners chose to live. Out of that inevitable fragmentation of community a need for connectivity arose and the Internet provided it in the shape of social networking. Social networking does indeed provide people with a way of staying connected to other human beings and thank goodness for that – our individualism and subsequent isolation is deeply intertwined with the wellbeing or not so well-being of our society; neurosis, anxiety and depression are all growing problems for us and have been for some time. But the Internet, and all its benefits comes at a cost, some argue adding to the erosion of society’s well-being. Societies are constantly addressing, judging, adjusting and readjusting their relationships in accordance to the cost benefit ratios within their cultural structures.
The costs of the Internet for now are deemed acceptable by our society but risks included amongst many are: the feedback loop of narcissism that is according to some fuelled by people constantly self-publishing (oh, the irony!), and expressing thoughts that were once ours alone; the need to live up to the online persona that we all create every time we use social networking; apparent difficulty in shutting out and keeping the world at bay – I totally get how teenagers are driven to suicide though online bullying – how it can be pernicious, devastatingly demoralising and seemingly impossible to ignore; existing in a paradigm were voyeurism is simply accepted as the norm – this article explores that in a very amusing way; and by the way the Internet allows very destructive ideas to be spread quickly and efficiently seeking out people ripe for attaching themselves to those ideas.
Added to that every time we use a search engine we allow ourselves to become a commodity; we the users become the product as our data is traded and we just accept that as perfectly fine.
But the greatest cost as far as I understand it is the Internet’s power to inform and form who we are. By handing this power over so freely we risk losing not only the ability to be authentic, but even the awareness that it might be possible.
Douglas Rushkoff is a fantastic theorist whom I first came across when I watched a documentary about the Internet on BBC 2 a few years ago where much of what I’m summarising here was explored quite brilliantly and of course in far greater detail, called The Virtual Revolution, which was incredibly well researched and presented by Aleks Krotoski. Search it up on the Internet if you’re interested, it really is fascinating (and if it weren’t for the Internet I would have had to say in this post that I heard some guy say something rather clever on some documentary I watched some years ago, but who knows what any of that was called or about).
So, in The Virtual Revolution Rushkoff talks about how online companies capture our clicking habits and then feed back behaviourally targeted advertising, which in turn eats away at our authenticity by telling us who we are and thereby disallowing us from actually finding out who we are organically. I have retained this message and kept it with me and even so it is still fabulously difficult to maintain a clear sense of self that delineates from the person the advertisers want me to think I am, or from stopping myself from being influenced by other Internet users from all over the world in a way that is so incredibly instant. Visit Rushkoff’s site if any of this is something that interests you – it’s definitely worth a view.
So why am I banging on about all of this – because I have three kids who I am pretty much solely responsible for bringing up. They are learning a language that I don’t really get and will never speak as well they do – the language of the Internet and social media. And sometimes some really distressing and upsetting things happen in the world which our culture now reacts to with such immediacy that it can be very difficult indeed to maintain a sense of self within the cacophonous reactions all played out online. I suspect in the past we have witnessed, discussed and debated events with a great deal more time for reflection and thought whereas today – it’s all NOW, NOW, NOW. And I think this is going to make it hard for the next generation to exist peacefully. I wonder when or if society might evaluate the cost benefit ratio differently to how it does now. For the moment it looks like the benefits will be valued far more than any costs might worry us, whether you buy into the narcissism argument or not.
I have to say, as much as I could have done without It’s My Belly Button wandering around my brain, I wonder if Rhett and Link have something to say on the matter of never being able to turn the world off, of everything happening in the present, of there being so little space where you can curl up and switch off in today’s world, because they’re pretty astute on a lot of things which have made the kids think. For example the middle class problem of not being able to get any Wi-Fi in the kitchen – a satirical poke at our ridiculousness which Son No 1 in particular finds very amusing.
However, next time I have an earworm I do hope it’s Muse, Miles Davis or perhaps a bit of Mozart instead.
Information in this post gleaned from BBC 2s The Virtual Revolution, Our Babies Ourselves by Meredith F. Small (published 1998 by Random House) and of course once again, The Narcissism Epidemic By Jean M. Twenge, PH D and W. Keith Campbell PH D (published by Atria 2009)
I am aware that publishing my usual Sunday afternoon blog on Monday morning makes it slightly later than usual – but the feral ones were with me yesterday afternoon and I was dragged to the cinema to have my heartstrings pulled my those manipulative people at Disney. I have however been very pleased to hear from readers that they enjoy my blog and look forward to it arriving in their inbox or popping up on their Facebook page so apologies. I have just wrestled the computer off Son No 1 who was most disgruntled as he apparently takes his imaginary online airline, of which he is the CEO he tells me, far more seriously than I think I’ve taken anything in my life.
It’s a very good thing, in my mind at any rate, that the beginning of the school term beckons – although according to Son No 1 he’d be much better off being home-schooled or even unschooled. According to me that would be a disaster and he can carry on dreaming.
So back to normal before long: only a new normal in a new year, which will strangely feel just like the old normal.
This is the time of year I habitually ask myself where we’re going to end up living. I don’t think I’m the only Londoner who teases themselves with the perennial question of whether to leave the city for some countryside idyll where children apparently run around outside all day with the wind blowing in their un-city-sullied locks. But this year I probably need to think about it more seriously about than ever before.
Why Boris, why have you engineered a situation where millions of tiny unaffordable flats are built and then sold off to investors so that the people who actually live here are forced to ask themselves periodically ‘what on earth are we going to do about a home?’ and then have no choice but to leave the city that is their home?
With this in mind I went along with the boys to look at a bigger flat around the corner and I won’t bore you with the grisly details but we left having the familiar conversation about where we might end up going if, or should I say when we have to leave London. And as we do I remind myself of a key chapter from The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and W Keith Campbell (published by Atria 2009) which says very clearly – don’t let your children make major family decisions.
So, I mustn’t, mustn’t leave the profound life changing and all-important decision about where we all move to a 10 year old. Even if the 10 year old is under the impression that he’s at least 34 years old and in charge of an airline based round the corner in the playing fields surrounding the local gym.
“Where shall we move to?” I ask the 10 year old. His answer is always the same.
“Why? Why? Why Son No 1?”
“There are two really cool train lines….” which he then goes on to describe to me yet again. I can’t repeat it here as this is about the time I switch off because my brain has been battered enough over the years with tales of trains and train lines, real and imaginary as that form of transport was the obsession before his airline company took over.
“And,” he adds, “Pewdiepie lives there too!”
Pewdiepie for those of you not in the know is a YouTube celebrity whom Son No 1 should, no doubt, not be enamored by as I’m certain much of what he bangs on about on the Internet isn’t age-appropriate but then since I seem to be on the verge of leaving a profound and major, life changing decision to him perhaps it’s all a little academic anyway.
“I’m not moving to Brighton,” I say. Nothing against Brighton as such. Some of my best friends live there. Actually just friends but you get the point.
“Why, mum? Why? Why?”
“Stony beach,” I say. “It’s not for me. I like sand.”
“OK, he says. Yorkshire!” I know this is because another well-known YouTuber, for that is what these YouTube celebrities are called, didn’t you know, lives there and has nothing to do with my brother being there at all. Yorkshire at least would be a good deal cheaper, I think.
After seeing the grisly flat we wander slowly home to my lovely flat that is nevertheless far too small and I remind myself of Affleunza by Oliver James (published Vermillion 2007), a book I read some years ago but which I can’t quote from because all my books are still in storage for various reasons but there’s no-where to put them in my tiny flat so perhaps fortuitously (but still… “You hear that, Mr. X, my books are still in STORAGE!!”): and how the desire to always have bigger and more is ultimately not very healthy at all.
It’s a shame we really don’t fit in the flat we’re currently in though. I’m ever so happy there and those who know me will understand that what I don’t have in space is very much made up for in other priceless ways.
I wonder how Boris Johnson and his family will feel if I knock on his door with my 3 boys in tow (one of whom is a CEO, mind) and let him know that we cannot afford to live anywhere and have so decided that we’re moving into his rather lovely London home. Do you think he’d mind? I expect he’d say “Why, Sarah-Jane? Why? Why?”
“Well… ” I’d answer, and then I’d bang on for some hours about tiny expensive flats being built and then sold off to investors only to sit empty while real Londoners are forced to consider leaving London. “Why, why, why???”
For those of you looking at moving out of London, Life After London’ssite is full of useful information.
This week I have posted some photographs from a corporate job I did just before Christmas where Peter Sissons hosted a seminar aimed helping companies who are considering moving offices – it was very interesting listening to all the pros and cons and I was able to apply some of the arguments for and against to my own little life.
We’ve got mice. I tried to convince myself we didn’t but the slightly subliminal darts across the floor are becoming too hard to ignore and the other day I knew the time had come to open up the grey envelope filled with traps which was delivered some time ago. The thing is I didn’t want to come downstairs in the morning and see their little dead bodies, certainly not before breakfast. I needn’t have worried though because those mice are probably just laughing at my incompetence. Following advice from a friend who had the same problem I dutifully popped some pet food on the little spikes one evening because she swore this was the only thing they went for. And the next morning I came downstairs and the cheeky buggers had eaten the food and not set off the traps.
My oldest friend and general adviser in life says the only way to keep mice at bay in these old Victorian buildings is to have cats. We actually had a visiting tabby recently. I was sitting here, as I do, writing my blog when there was a loud crash from the kitchen. I checked it out and noticed something had fallen from the windowsill. Assuming it must have just been the wind or something I went back to work. About 10 minutes later a very insistent “miaow” gave me the fright of my life and I turned round to see a beautiful cat sitting on the wooden chest that houses our vast collection of Thomas and his Friends paraphernalia. As lovely as he was I of course took him down to the garden below and told him to go home. Now, what with the mice and all, I kinda wish I’d invited him to stay for a bit longer, but as far as I remember kidnapping someone else’s cat even for the best of reasons isn’t ideal. And he most certainly had a label on his collar so I couldn’t even have pretended he didn’t belong elsewhere.
And then there’s the problem of my little dog Poppy. Being the Jack Russell/Border Terrier with more than a smattering of Paterdale that she is, she’s rather partial to small fluffy animals and has to go out and about looking a little like Hannibal Lecter, so I’m not sure a cat would last that long with her around. (Don’t they say that the dogs we own are reflective of us in some way? I’m sure I don’t need a muzzle but perhaps I’m blissfully unaware of that side of myself!) Unfortunately, she doesn’t catch the mice but instead sit and stares at the floorboards, whining for hours on end when she knows they are there.
So, getting a cat is a bit tricky, but then cats are funny creatures anyway, aren’t they. They sit on your lap purring loudly and then for no reason at all start repeatedly and rhythmically plunging their claws into your thigh! When you kindly put them down (or throw them off in alarm) they very haughtily saunter away with tails and superiority complexes high in the air as if it were you who started the painful poking.
Son No 2 has asked for a kitten for Christmas though. Mercifully the ex husband said, “As if I would buy a live animal without asking first…” Phew! That’s a relief then.
The thought of any more animals to add to the mix of small boys, mice, a dog and then this imaginary cat as well, begins to sends my crazy hair just a little crazier. I mean, why not get a couple of birds in here too? Actually, come to think of it, we have had those in the house. One instance was the morning after I found out my father had died and a pigeon very bizarrely crashed through the window in the front room leaving a cartoon-like, open-winged-bird-shaped hole in the glass.
“Now don’t go thinking that’s your dead dad visiting!” said Mr X.
“Course not,” I replied although as the poor slightly lame thing was set free I couldn’t help thinking “Bye, Dad!” The crazy hair was no doubt and quite understandably completely bonkers that day.
Who knows how I’ll eventually deal with the mice… sure it will get sorted soon. Somehow!
I have too much editing to do now so best stop blathering on about the various animals (two-leggers and four-leggers) in my life. Just a photograph of a chair this week. I was working at a corporate party recently and in between snapping photographs of workers dressed up in their finest drinking champagne, I couldn’t help but find moments of magic and mystery.
Bernard Hughes, talented composer based in South London, needed some updated images for his website and upcoming projects. We spent a lovely sunny morning together where I banged on about how little I know about music – poor guy! But he’s ended up with some images he’s very happy with so hopefully it was worth it.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Racepoint Global, based at Westfield, Shepherds Bush, a couple of weeks ago. I was asked to come in and take photos of employees that illustrate their hobbies along with some straight head shots. The hobby shots are going to be added to a space in the waiting area of Racepoint’s office where photographs of all the people who work there are displayed doing something they love. It works really well; and it was good to spend the day finding out how all the people I photographed spend their spare time. What a lot of healthy, fit and very clever people!
I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day which was fortuitous as I was far too tired to have a sneaky trip round all the shops at Westfield Shopping Centre; thank goodness I don’t work there on a daily basis – not sure I’d ever have any money.
I can’t go without saying a big thank you to Sonia Carneiro, Racepoint’s multi-talented office manager. She has assisted on a few shoots in the past and helped me out during my time in Shepherds Bush, and I couldn’t have asked for a better assistant!
Wow – I was thrilled, more than a little nervous, flattered and excited about being asked by Sarah Legge, winner of 2014 Best Wedding Photographer*, to do some head shots for her website.
I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you, but Sarah was quite nervous about being on the other side of the Canon and told me she now understands why some of her clients feel nervous. I didn’t let on that I was also a bit nervy because she’s been doing this a lot longer than me and really knows her stuff, but I was very pleased when she told me that I’d been ‘lovely and a natural behind the camera’. I totally understand her discomfort about being photographed. I used to be an actor and it was really uncomfortable having head shots done. Maybe that’s one of the quite numerous reasons I’m not one anymore!