The MyWay Code

We live in a rule-bound world, the last 12 months having demonstrated how quickly we are able to absorb new ones – sidling off the pavement if someone comes the other way, shopping in face masks, not visiting your parents at Christmas, social norms that we’d not have dreamed of a little over a year ago. Some of these rules are applied and others we apply to ourselves.  A Highway Code and a Myway Code. I have been known, when something is taking too long, to feel nearly sick with [...]

A Crash Course in Responsibility

I pranged the car on Saturday, someone went into the back of me. There’s never an excuse for someone going into the back of you, it’s what brake lights were invented for.  That, in the first nano seconds after that horrible crunchy thud, is what raced through my mind. Blame the other guy. By the time I was getting out of the car to inspect the damage, I knew that was wrong.  I was to blame.  It was my fault. By the time me and the other guy were standing [...]

I can’t be defined by a donkey

One of the ways my daughter made my recent lockdown birthday special was to arrange a surprise breakfast zoom with my sisters; there we all were, croissants, coffee and flowers in three different houses. My sisters had prepared a little game. I had to work out some clues which would lead me to their gifts. The clues related to images, items and icons from my childhood. One of the clues was about my grandparents’ car, another was about push-along donkey, and a third referenced a pair of stilts; all, as [...]

Not drowning but braving

I woke up last Sunday, a mild dose of anxiety making me feel slightly sick – the struggle of lockdown, the crisis in the world and not knowing when it will end.  A dip in the sea, that would do the trick. The high tide was going out.  The water was murky and turbulent; swimmable but with a definite edge and a lot less peaceful than the flat water we enjoyed at the beginning of the month. Normally, I get changed quickly once I’m on the beach, get in, get [...]

Now we are [nearly] six[ty]

I am sixty at the end of this month.  I know lots of people are sixty and some are even older, but it's still ... a bit of a thing. I can’t have a party, which serves me right because I’ve always made a huge fuss about having to have one.  I was going to have a few people round the weekend before; I intended to spend the actual day with my family and I’d planned a holiday with a friend just after.  A perfect triad of low-key celebration, all [...]

How To Not Feel Dread

I am a creature of habit, almost detrimentally so. I never change my running route, I swim at the same time most days, I write my diary, I buy the same things from the supermarket, I have two bicycle circuits. One goes down the big hill then up a short, steep climb to the golf course; the other takes the same roads but the other way around which including a long tough hill on Saddlescombe Road. It’s this second version that I dread, enough to stop me enjoying the entire [...]

The Wrong Jam

There is a pot of jam that has been in my fridge a very long time.  It’s delicious, Bonne Maman.  It’s full flavoured, blue black, firm and smooth.  Blackcurrant jelly.  So why haven't I eaten it? The problem is the label.  The label says it’s Gelée Framboises. There is no way this jam is made from raspberries.  I know I should be able to ignore the label and simply enjoy the taste but instead I find I’m suspicious. I’m not really sure I can trust it. I’ve noticed the same [...]

How to talk to difficult people No 3

I wrote some blogs a few weeks back on how to talk to the difficult people in your household, especially those who find you even more difficult.  I hope that’s been going well, but remember it does take practice. Today I’m going to give some examples of things we say when we mean to be helpful but which never seem to make things better.  I’m going to offer some alternatives. Sentences that start: Why don’t you … If only you would … All I ask is that … ...  hardly [...]

Twelve things to love about lockdown and four to hate (maybe five):

1.The weather. It has to be connected, right? 2.  How the front at Brighton smells like the sea. I’ve never noticed that before. On the same note, I cycled past a field of sheep yesterday and I could smell the wool. Maybe fields of sheep always smell of wool and I don’t notice. Either way it’s a plus; 3.  Cycling. I’ve not been up to Devil’s Dyke before because there are so many cars. Without cars, it's a great ride; 4.  Afterwards, and how none of us know what that [...]

Sixteen things I didn’t know a month ago:

Even when everything’s closed, there is still slightly too much to do; Starting any new project – making curtains, writing a novel, learning the guitar requires will, determination, routine – not just time; I knew I was an introvert, but I hadn’t realised how much of my happiness depended on not having to go out; What furlough means. My guess is like tsunami after 2004, we'll find it popping up in every other sentence from now on; That face masks protect other people more than the wearer - using one [...]

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