Mixed Messages

20140831_112130

Carrie dug her fingers hard into her temples. She closed her eyes tight, tried to clear her mind and concentrated. Nothing. She bit down on her lip and tired again. It was no good. There was no message coming through.

She ran her hands through her short red hair, pinched her cheeks and tired once more. Still nothing. It was impossible. It didn’t matter how much she cleared her mind or concentrated, Lee’s message was just not getting through.

Carrie jumped to her feet, knocking over the chair she had been sitting on, and began to pace around her small bed-sit. There wasn’t much room and it took all of her concentration not to bump into the dusty old worn sofa or knock over the piles of books and magazines on the floor. This wasn’t working either. Her eyes quickly searched the room looking for something, anything that could help her.

Carrie saw her mobile phone on the floor next to the chair she had just knocked over. Carrie picked it, righted the chair, sat down and placed the phone on her forehead. A smile crept slowly across her face as she closed her eyes once more. She sat perfectly still and held her breath. It was no use. The smile disappeared from her face as she pulled the phone from her forehead and threw it on the floor.

Carrie sighed and then bent down to pick up her phone once more. Her fingers worked quickly across the screen until she found the message from Lee and read it one more time. Maybe this time the message would become clear to her. It didn’t. “R u going on Fri?” it read. What was that supposed to mean? Lee had never asked Carrie if she was going anywhere before so why did he want to know now? What did he want? Did he want to be friends or, maybe, something more? It was no good, Carrie decided. She could sit here for hours and would still be no closer to finding out the truth. Carrie sighed again, tapped out a reply and pressed ‘send.’

Lee dug his fingers hard into his temples. He closed his eyes tight, tried to clear his mind and concentrated. It was no good. He’d read Carrie’s message over and over again but he still didn’t understand it. It was simple and brief in its “Yes” but what did that mean? What did she want? Was she interested in him or not? Lee read the word “Yes” one more time before he placed the phone on his forehead, closed his eyes and concentrated.

I don’t want to be like them!

Necessary for Cheerleading
Necessary for Cheerleading

When I became a parent, I swore I wouldn’t be one of those parents. You know the sort, the ones that become a taxi service and have no life because all of it is spent ferrying their children about from club to club and activity to activity. This pledge was made when my children were babies and was before I had an idea or inkling that they would grow to be one those children. The ones that want to do every club and every activity possible.

To be fair, I have said no to some things they wanted to do but, to be honest, this is because they clash with another club/activity that they already do. You see, it’s hard to say no when they are so enthusiastic about everything. They come home wide-eyed, smiling and in earnest about whatever it is they want to do now and their enthusiasm is infectious. How can I say no? Besides, in the blink of an eye they’ll be teenagers and all that enthusiasm will be replaced by angst, wearing black and locking themselves in their bedrooms so I have to make the most of it whilst it lasts.

So, my daughters’ activity list currently looks like this:

Monday Lunch – School French Club

Tuesday Eve – Gymnastics

Wednesday – After School Football followed by Swimming Lessons

Thursday – After School Cheerleading/Dance Club

Friday Lunch – Loom Band Club (I kid you not).

And it’s embarrassing to admit to others that you’ve become that person you really didn’t want to be so I try to keep it to myself as much as possible. The problem with becoming one of those parents that ferry their children about everywhere is that you run the risk of becoming one of those other types of parents. The ones you really don’t want to be like. The pushy ones.

My daughters were at gymnastics last week and it was badge week. Badge week is where the children attempt to complete a range of gymnastic moves and if they are successful they get a badge and certificate and get to move up to the next level. Now, of course, all the children want to be successful and get the shiny certificate and embroidered badge. Of course they do but, of course, they more often than often don’t. This is when it’s up to parents to be supportive with ‘Never minds’, ‘Maybe next times’ and ‘It doesn’t matters.’ That’s what parents should be saying. What they should not be saying, in any circumstances, is ‘Why didn’t you get one? Go and ask the Coach what you did wrong’ which is what I heard one parent saying to her already sad and deflated daughter.

I stood there with my mouth wide open and did an excellent impression of a fish. I couldn’t believe anybody could be so insensitive. The woman’s daughter was clearly upset that she hadn’t done enough to get the sought after badge in the first place. Goodness knows what her mother’s unthinking and, quite frankly, cruel comments had done to this girl’s confidence. And, to rub salt in the wounds further, she did indeed send the poor child back to ask the Coach, ‘What she had done wrong.”

It was then I realised that no matter how many clubs my daughters go to and no matter how much time I will spend driving them to and fro and just sitting waiting for them to finish, I will never ever become one of those parents.

A Sting in the Tail

2014-09-27 11.20.32Sometimes we are offered an opportunity that is too good to pass up. This opportunity will be a huge challenge and demand a massive commitment. It will be doubtful whether or not you can actually pull it off but, if you do, it will be absolutely amazing. So you have a choice. Turn down the opportunity because it’s too much of a risk and carry on as before, with all the ‘what ifs?’ and ‘if onlys’ that brings. Or you can take the bull by the horns and go for it because you know you’ll kick yourself if you don’t and anyway, of course you can pull it off and it will be spectacular.

This was the challenge that was presented to a theatre company I help to run earlier this year. We were asked to write, direct and perform a new 30 minute play for a festival that took place last weekend. We knew we would be up against it. That time wouldn’t be on our side. That it would age us prematurely, make us want to pull our hair out and scream but we took the opportunity anyway as, well, you don’t turn down opportunities like that.

If I believed in such things (which I don’t) I’d say the project was cursed from the beginning with delays in writing the script, problems with casting, massive fallings out and resignations (which I understand is quite common in the theatre and I really don’t know exactly what they were about. Nor do I want to), to people taking on other projects at the same time which meant that this play wasn’t their priority and festival organisers who couldn’t organise a piss up in the proverbial.

We tried our very best. We worked our socks off and aged and pulled out our hair but it wasn’t enough. After one performance (we were scheduled for two) the play was pulled by the festival organisers as one of our actors forgot her lines and then three of them froze and dithered on the stage. Understandably, that one mistake lost a lot of our audience.

So that was that. We tried and failed. And it feels crap after all the time and commitment everybody put into it. It sucks to fail. It sucks to think that it could have been so much better with more time and less off-stage dramas. So now I have to do all those clichés, you know the ones. Pick yourself up and dust yourself down, get back on the horse, lick your wounds, what doesn’t kill us… But it still sucks and it’s still crap. This is obviously why wine was invented. Joke! This is what family and friends were invented for. With the benefit of hindsight, would I change anything? No, sometimes clichés are right. It is better to try and fail then not try at all. Even if failing sucks.

 

UK Krampus Crackers

thekidshavegonetoschool:

Sometimes you feel ‘Why am I bothering?’ Then something like this comes along to give you a boost when you need it most. I’m really pleased to be part of this project

Originally posted on Tiny Owl Workshop:

The mighty fabulous Vicky Pointing and Steve Toase have chosen the 12 flash fiction stories that will be part of the UK Krampus Crackers project. Our congratulations to the authors and our thanks to all those who submitted.

The list and a little about the authors can be found here: http://vickykpointing.wordpress.com/krampus-crackers/

Terry
Terry

View original

Blame it on Sooty

2014-09-15 10.20.10
Sweep, Sooty and Soo. Sooty has obviously had a hard life.

So, I did it! I completed my 5k Colour Fun Run in 30 mins with a combination of running and walking fast. I’m pretty pleased with that. I wasn’t first and I wasn’t last. I was somewhere in the middle which kind of sums up my life. I maybe would have been able to have run more if I hadn’t hurt my back 2 days before the big day looking for Sooty, Sweep and Soo.

Now, if you are British, you’ll know who Sooty, Sweep and Sue are. If you are not, you probably don’t have a clue and I don’t really know how to explain them. They are British icons. Three glove puppets who have entertained generations of kids with their loveable, cheeky antics. If you want to know any more than that, you’ll have to Google them or look on YouTube. Anyway, I took my daughters to see Sooty et al at Hull New Theatre the day before my race. My girls wanted to take their own version of the puppets with them  and it was when trying to find the cheeky bear and his friends (who were hiding at the bottom of the toy box, the rascals) that my back went crack and I went “argh!”

T0 be fair, it wasn’t totally Sooty’s fault. I’d hurt my back on holiday last year so bending over the toy box at a strange angle was never going to be a good idea. So I rested-up for two days and took some painkillers before setting off from the start line and I didn’t feel even a twinge in my back whilst I was running and walking. I was too concerned with the stitch in my side and my laboured breathing. I didn’t even feel it when I’d finished. I was too high on adrenalin and feel-good endorphins. Even after the high had worn off, I didn’t feel it. I was too busy enjoying listening to the live music that was part of the event and the cider that was in my hand. Only one cider. I didn’t want to spoil all my good work. I didn’t feel it when I jumped into the shower and washed all the paint off my body and the blue out of my hair (there was a lot of blue) when I got home.

When I did feel it was when I was clean, pj’d and sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine in my hand (I think I deserved it).  Then I felt it big time. It hurt. A lot. So much so that I had to lie on the floor which isn’t ideal for drinking wine. But, hey, that’s why straws were invented, isn’t it?

It kind of was like Holi. Holi with pain.
It kind of was like Holi. Holi with pain.

Instructions

20140911_110226It’s two days until the Colour Fun Run I’ve signed up for and, yesterday, I received my race instructions. Point two is as follows:

“The colour course will begin at 1pm, colour runners will be sent in waves of 100 people every 5 minutes – these won’t be in running number order – just in the order you arrive at the start line. Please remember this event is not a race and walking, skipping or dancing (watch out for the live music along the route) is encouraged!”

Well, it would have been nice if they had told me this five weeks ago before I stepped up my training! Reading this, I just thought, “Why the hell have I bothered pushing myself?” But, there again, pushing yourself does feel good. It does make you feel like you’re achieving something in a way a stroll or skip around the course wouldn’t. Also, I’ve managed to raise over £100 in sponsorship and I wonder if people would have been so generous in their giving if I had told them I was having a Sunday afternoon stroll around the park (which is where the course is). I don’t think they would. I feel more inclined to sponsor someone if I know pain is involved so I’m going to inflict pain on myself to make sure my sponsors get their money’s worth.  And, anyway, why are they calling it a Colour Fun Run if you’re not supposed to run?

It’s funny how our decisions to follow instructions depend on whether or not they suit us. Or is that just me? I’m not talking about important laws or life and death situations, just little ones that I filter out if they don’t seem to make sense to me. For example; I picked up my race pack on Monday which, amongst other things, had my race number in it (more mixed messages, why a race pack and number if it’s not a race?). The back of my number states “This is important, please complete the details below in BLOCK CAPITALS using waterproof biro/ballpoint ink the night before the event.”

Why the night before? Why not the morning of the event or two days before? What will happen if I don’t? What will happen if I fill it in five days before? Why is it so important the night before? How are they going to know if I don’t comply? Do they have some sort of special machine that scans your race number and sets of sirens and flashing lights if you haven’t done it the night before?

So the tiny rebel in me with a mischievous streak is going to fill it in tomorrow morning to see what’ll happen. I mean, what a silly instruction. It’s just crying out to be not followed. And this blatant disregard of the rules will result in nothing. No-one will know, except me which means a can have a secret smile to myself whilst I’m running (or attempting to run) around the course.  Unless the ink fades if you fill it in too early. Or they do have a scanner. Then I’ll be busted.

 

 

 

 

“You are live… Please do NOT swear”

Great advice for if you're ever on the radio.
Great advice for if you’re ever on the radio.

I’m a firm believer that you should never let the fear of failure or fear itself get in the way of trying new things. Sometimes, it’s all too easy not do something because the idea terrifies you or you’re worried you’ll make a laughing-stock of yourself. However, I always think it’s better to have tried and hated or failed at something than spend the rest of your life wondering, “What If?”

This doesn’t mean that you should accept everything that’s thrown at you. If you really, truly don’t want to do something – then don’t. I don’t want to climb a mountain as it’s too much like hard work and I’m not good with heights. I don’t want to go in a submarine as the thought of being underwater in a metal tube feels me with dread. What if something went wrong? How would I get out? I most certainly don’t want to go into space for much the same reason as I don’t want to go in a submarine. Plus, I’ve seen the film ‘Gravity’ which just confirmed all my worse fears about space travel.

But there are things that are offered to you that you know you probably would like to do really if you weren’t so worried and nervous about how they might turn out. This recently happened to me. A friend of mine is a DJ on our BBC local radio station and he asked me if I would come in and review the Sunday newspapers for his Sunday mid-morning show.

My first reaction was, “No bloody way!”. I don’t know about you but I hate the sound of my voice. I’m not sure if that’s because I have an awful voice or is because our own voices sound so different to our ears that we can’t reconcile the real voice from the one we’re used to hearing. Anyway, whatever the reason, I was going to say “No” as if I don’t like listening to my terrible voice, I’m sure no-one else would want to either. But, there again, it was to review the Sunday newspapers and I always like watching that bit on the TV news. In fact, I make a point of trying to catch it so, what the hell, I said “Yes.”

It’s at this juncture where I feel I must comment on my thought process. I decided to go onto live BBC local radio (for over an hour) to pass intelligent comments and make witty remarks on the Sunday newspapers because I like watching the paper review on the telly. It’s a bit like deciding to do a Charity Colour Fun Run because I like the idea of going to a Holi celebration. I really think it’s time I got myself a new thought process.

I also don’t listen to this radio station because, to be honest. local news doesn’t interest me. National and inter-national news – yes. Local news – no. It’s all cats stuck in trees and someone complaining there’s a pot-hole in their street. So, once again, my thought process for agreeing to do the paper review was flawed. But, once you’ve committed, you can’t back out. I did think about doing some prep for the show but that’s as far as it went – thinking about it. So, instead of listening to local radio or buying a local newspaper, I bought a marker pen and wrote “Do not swear” on the back of my hand which I thought was good advice.

And, as it turns out, it was because the only advice I got from the good old BBC was, “Don’t talk about Sir Cliff Richard and don’t swear.” Which, perhaps, says a lot about the BBC’s thought process.

Fun Run?

My life is littered with projects I have started and never really finished. I first started this blog (nearly 2 years ago) in a bid to motivate me to finish something. Because if I’ve blogged about it and committed it to cyber-space then I’ll have to finish it, right? Wrong. I haven’t even written my blog for such a shameful while that even writing a blog didn’t make me write a blog.

However, there is one thing I have kept up with. One thing that, quite frankly, if you asked me to name the one thing I wouldn’t continue on with would be at the top of my list. And that thing is exercising. Whilst writing my blog (I have been writing other things, honest) and the host of other things I was going to do have fallen by the wayside keeping fit and healthy has been something I’ve focused on and kept up. I’m not sure why either. I suppose it’s because I feel better for it and have had to buy a whole new wardrobe too. Oh, shopping. That’s something else I’ve kept up too.

My new-found love of exercise has led me to enter a Charity Colour Fun Run  in September. For those of you who don’t know, a Colour Fun Run is where you run and people throw paint at you. I’m hoping it’s powder-paint, although I’m not entirely sure. My reasons for doing this were (1) It’s for a local hospice which cared for two of my relatives in their last weeks of their lives; (2) I’ve always wanted to go to the Hindu Festival of Holi and this would probably be the closest I would get to it. Holi with pain, that’s what I’ve signed up to.

And pain is the appropriate word. You see, I’m not a runner. I’m a walker. A fast walker, I’ll have you know, but a walker none the less. And, in my head, there really couldn’t be much of a step-up from walking fast to running. Foolish woman! But, despite being able to walk or dance the Fun Run, I’d decided I wanted to run it. So I trained and I pushed myself a little more each day. It was hard work and I sweated buckets but, gradually, little by little, I could run further and further.

This is when I realised how marvellous the human body is. How, when you set your mind to it you can set yourself to achieve anything. I felt great. I felt fantastic. I felt pain – ouch. I chose to ignore the pain and run through it. It was just a question of mind over matter. I could do this. I would do this. I would…

That’s when I realised that whilst I was marvelling at the human body and ignoring the pain I was also ignoring the fact that the pain wasn’t from just training and, actually, was pain from an existing injury and problem. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to run through it, my body wasn’t going to let me and, if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up not being able to walk the Colour Fun Run let alone run it.

At first, I cursed my body for not being as marvellous as I thought. I had set my heart on running and was terribly disappointed that I couldn’t. I felt like I’d let myself down. I was angry I couldn’t do what I wanted. Then I realised that the human body is a marvellous thing. I was pushing myself too hard and, in the long-run, if I wasn’t careful, carrying on that way would just end up with me being bed-ridden for a week or so.  My body was telling me this and I should have been listening to it, even if I didn’t like what it was telling me.

Wishes

Be careful what you wish for. It’s easy to wish. It’s easy to long and want and imagine. It’s easy to loose yourself in daydreams and believe wishes will make everything alright. It’s easy to believe you really want something. That you have to have it more than anything else in the world and that, by having it, you’ll be complete. Your skin will stop itching, your head will be quiet and your soul will stop aching. It’s easy to believe your wish will make you happy and that you’ll never be lonely again.

It’s easy to believe this when the wish isn’t yours. When it belongs to someone else and is so far out of reach to be impossible. When the longing is just longing and the wanting is just wanting. It’s easy to believe the wish will change your life if only you can grab it, pull it to your chest, hold it tight and never let it go.

The old woman pulled her cape tight to her body. “Are you sure this is what you want?” she asked as she peered down into the face of a young woman. The face was filled with longing and want. The young woman’s eyes were brimming with hope and expectation. Her mouth was set firmly with realisation of the seemingly impossible as her head nodded excitedly up and down.

“Are you sure?” the old woman asked again, though why she asked she didn’t know. It was clear to her what the answer would be. That she was wasting her breath and her time with this one. The young woman nodded again as the old woman knew she would. The old woman reached deep into the folds of her cape. She sighed as she pulled out her wand and said, “Well then, you better go and fetch me a pumpkin.”