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I find comfort in strange names and it works

I’m currently sat writing this on a train, the 18.57 train from Banbury to Manchester Piccadilly. I’m getting off this train at Wolverhampton. I’m making the most of this opportunity (being sat on a train with a laptop and wifi) to do some work. I like working on the train. I find it easier to work on a train than at home (shame I just can’t travel on trains every day I’d be so productive). I ike the noise and commotion that a train provides: the people; the bags; the conversations; the tap, tap, tapping on nearby laptops and the smells of bacon butties and lager.

View from the Train

However, I was just sat here, working away, when something odd about my way of working occurred to me that I normally take for granted. There’s a chap sat next to me also tapping away on his own laptop and I tried to imagine what he would think if he were to glance at my screen. Imagining seeing my screen through another’s eyes gave me that uncanny feeling that things are strange when seen with fresh eyes.

The strange thing I am referring to is the fact that I give my documents, spreadsheets and folders odd names and I think that is normal. However, to the man sat next to me, this is surely not normal. Or, I assume that to be the case. I need to know now whether other people call their folders and documents odd names and organize them as haphazardly as I do. Here is an example of an oddly named spreadsheet.

My timekeeping spreadsheet is called: Copy of Time After Toes July 2017

It’s not called ‘Timesheet’ or even just ‘Time’. That would be sensible. The astute reader of this blog will notice that the word ‘time’ does appear in the name, giving some sense of normality, but the meaning of the rest of the spreadsheet’s name is rather ambiguous. The interested reader may want to know what, or who, is ‘Toes’ and why is it ‘time after Toes’ (what happened before Toes?)? There is a logic to it. After my youngest son was born (who I fondly call Toes) I started a new spreadsheet for my timekeeping for work and called it ‘Time After Toes’ as that is what it recorded: time spent working after the birth of the child called Toes. Subsequently, as I saved more versions of this spreadsheet I started to date them by month, hence the ‘July 2017’ part of the title (although I haven’t been consistent in renaming this every month given that it is now September). ‘Copy of’ I think just appears in the name of a spreadsheet when you save a spreadsheet after it crashes. Incidentally, Toes is now nearly 8 years old.

This is just one example. I could provide more (on request). This naming oddity doesn’t just apply to documents. It also applies to folders.

The folder I currently use for everything I’ve worked on since 2013 is called: VSIs for Edingburgh

That name won’t make much sense without some some context. A few years ago I worked on a project for Oxford University Press which involved creating short abstracts for titles in their Very Short Introduction series which were due to be launched online that same year. I then went to Edinburgh on holiday. I needed a folder for the work for this project while I was away. Hence the name. However, after creating that folder, I carried on using it as a general dumping ground for ALL work I did when away from home (so work not saved on the home server). The occupancy of VSI abstracts in this folder is minor.

A Very Short Introduction

At some point, this folder got a bit messy. So I created a subfolder called: OSO Stuff (OSO being Oxford Scholarship Online, a project I spend most of my time working on).

I then  started using this folder as a dumping ground for all away-from-home work (not just OSO – anything and including VSIs). This folder also gradually outgrew its usefulness.

So I subsequently created another subfolder to put new work in with a new name: General OSO

I then went on holiday to Wales.

The next folder within this folder was logically named: Wales October 2015

The same happened again, ‘Wales October 2015’ became my dumping ground. Everything was saved in here.

Wales where I did some work in October 2015 – when I had wifi

A year later I went to Wale again and so along came a fresh, new subfolder: Wales Oct 2016

I am currently still dumping into this folder but I am now already finding this folder really messy, following in the footsteps of its predecessors. I think I need a new folder (perhaps ‘Haddenham September 2017’ might be a good name as that is where I have been today?).

This is file path of all my away-from-home work at the moment:

C:\_Moved\Desktop\VSIs for Edinburgh\OSO Stuff\General OSO\Wales October 2015\Wales Oct 2016

That’s not great, is it? Anyone who is quite tidy will be quaking right now. It is messy, it is disorganzied, but I know where everything is. It works for me.

Organized chaos is a real thing. Long life folders and spreadsheets with weird names. I think life would be boring if things were named to describe exactly what they are.

‘Hell is other people’, or is it?

I’m currently reading a fabulous book on existentialism, and I’ve written about this book in my other blog already. Last night, while reading my book, I came across this Jean-Paul Satre quote from one of his fictional pieces, translated as No Exit.

Hell is other people.


My book

Until I read about this quote yesterday, I thought that it meant that other people are hell and solitude rules uber alles. I think that most people may have the same belief. I’ve often heard it used in that context.

At the time, as he was being misinterpreted even while he was still active, Satre refuted this meaning the book explains. Yet, this meaning seems to have stuck even until today.

The quote

What he actually meant with this quote rings very true with me. He didn’t mean that other people are hellish. What he meant was that after we die, we become frozen, or the idea of us does, in the eyes of other people. In other words, once we are dead, our reputation is mummified and we are no longer able to argue against other people’s interpretation of us or prove them wrong should we feel that they are under a false impression of us.

In death, the freedom to redeem ourselves in the eyes of others is taken away from us. This idea kills me, ironically.

I often wrestle with myself after being with other people about what impression I may have left on them. If I feel that I’ve messed up in some way, then I long to see them again to provide a better impression. I think this comes from a desperate need to be liked which I have always had. I know that a lot of people are similarly inflicted in this way and I’m by no means unique here. There is probably some psychological reason for this behaviour. I’m not going to go there here though.

Some people claim to not care whether they are liked or not. I’m not like that. I care. I care an awful lot. I really want to be liked. I admire those ‘I don’t care’ people. I especially admire those who are honest about this aspect of their personality. I mean, they are risking not being liked by expressing that! They are much stronger beings than I.

There haven’t been many people that have openly disliked me, at least to my knowledge (there are most likely those that have kept their disdain to themselves or just to their nearest and dearest). I can think of two people who have been open and persistent in their disregard for my wonderfulness. And I still think about them today.

The first was someone I knew at university. For the sake of anonymity I will name him Chicken Pie. That wasn’t his real name of course. He had a real name (and a really unusual one at that). He was very open about who he liked and respected in his circle of acquaintances and who he didn’t. He was fairly clear that he neither liked me nor respected me. He thought I was unhinged. He didn’t understand me. He didn’t attempt to understand me. He thought such a pursuit was pointless. Chicken Pie considered me a potentially dangerous sociopath. I tried really, really hard to get him to like me. It didn’t work. I didn’t want to give up. I tried for two years. I liked him. He was intelligent and quirky. I cried over his open dislike of me. I spent far too long trying to analyse how he came to his assessment of me. I even concluded that he was right and perhaps I was slightly unhinged and psychotic. His opinion of me (and he was an extremely astute person) was important to me and I believed it to be genuine. I took it seriously. I lost touch with him after university (after all, he didn’t like me so there was no need for us to stay in touch) but I then met him by chance at a party a few years later. He was charm on a stick at the party. Perhaps maturity had made him less honest for the sake of social grace, or perhaps he had decided I was tolerable after all. I hope the latter.

The city where not everyone liked me.

The second person who didn’t hide their contempt of me is someone I went interrailing with. In 1991 I went travelling around Europe with an ex-boyfriend (yes, I know, a strange thing to do) and his female friend from his college. She didn’t like me. I will call her Steak and Ale Pie. She started off the journey tolerating me. She even laughed at my jokes. She gradually grew more and more hostile to me as the month went on. I have no idea (and 30 years later I still have no idea) why. At the end Steak and Ale Pie was downright nasty to me. She told me I was vain (because I bought duty-free perfume) and stupid (because I got lost a lot). She was very open in her disdain. I cried a lot over the death of that relationship as well. At the time I asked myself frequently: I didn’t dislike her so why did she dislike me so much? In the Satreian sense, there was nothing I could do to change her impression of me. Everything I did got on her nerves and encouraged negative comment. We parted without so much as a smile. I went home and made water. I often wonder where she is now. I find myself genuinely caring about what happened to her. She wasn’t a bad person, she was just mean to me.

Steak and Ale Pie hated me in this city

I am now a lot older and I still feel this desperate need to get everyone I meet to like me. I think it is a sign of maturity to accept your faults and realise that you are not to everyone’s taste and move on. So why can’t I do that? I don’t know that answer. I am still the child who wants the grownups to think they are interesting. I think this need is too deeply embedded to change, even if I recognise it as a fault.

Hell is indeed other people.

I hope I don’t die today. I am sure I have much redeeming to do yet.

If we don’t believe in free will then there is no point to existence

This is my current, rather depressing, weird thought.

Currently, generally, humans are firm believers in free will. It is what runs through the core of modern Western politics and society and perhaps spreads further afield. Free will guides us to make the choices that we make. Free will voted for Brexit. Free will voted for Donald Trump. Free will also guides us to carpes diem and follow our dreams. Free will guided me to start an art degree five years ago. Free will is willing me to continue my studies with a Masters. Free will led me into a career in publishing. Free will guided me to end up in Newport (although, interestingly, a Japanese palm reader predicted my current living and working arrangements in 1996 so that is one / nil to the determinists).

If we don’t believe in free will, what is the point of having hope? What is the point of ‘following your heart’ or staring at the stars? You may as well just plod along and take the road more travelled. There’s no point fighting injustice. Accept what is. It is what it is. You may as well just spend your evenings watching Game of Thrones and your days working, or, just existing.

Let’s watch others taking chances on life

My belief in free will is my optimism that good will prevail, personally and globally, eventually.

However, I am starting to worry that my belief in free will is being squeezed into that category of the ‘teeny, tiny theory’ of the unlikely. Scientists have more recently come to believe that our ability to choose our fate is not free, but depends on our biological inheritance. Scientists have started to believe that our thoughts, emotions, hopes, dreams are just the work of neurons and electricity. All that we ‘decide’ and ‘do’ is determined by brain action. We aren’t thinking for ourselves. Our biology is our god.

Helping the scientists in their argument, is the fact that brain injuries and brain traumas can influence our so-called ‘free’ will by influencing decisions and behaviour in certain ways. In addition, mind-altering substances can turn us into irresponsible psychopaths: from the alcohol-induced declaration of love to the drug induced murder. That isn’t our essence that is doing it; it is an artificial influence. It is determined.

The danger of believing the scientists is that we may start to blame our irresponsible actions on our brains: ‘It wasn’t me, my neurons did it.’

Another downside in a scepticism about free will is that we will feel less inclined to be creative or to take chances. There’s no point leaping. It wasn’t in my destiny. That belief will basically depress us. That’s not good.

The paranoid part of me worries that those in power already know that free will is an illusion and they just aren’t telling us. It isn’t in their best interests to let the hoi polloli know what they know. If we find out that free will is a lie then we will just turn into vegetables with no sense of morality and no kindness. We will start to kill each other and we won’t innovate and create.

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m happy to live in my happy cloud where free will reigns uber alles. I am now going to choose to eat a piece of orange chocolate. This is not pre-determined. I don’t have to eat it. I want to. My neurons don’t care.

I will seek the chocolate fix


Symmetry is following me

This is my current weird thought. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about symmetry. A few things have happened in my life recently that have been symmetrical and I want to know why (‘question your teaspoons’ says George Perec).

I have always liked symmetry. I also like asymmetry. They are both interesting for different reasons.

Symmetry vs asymmetry

Symmetry has beauty, order, serenity.

Asymmetry winks in the face of symmetry. It is quirky. It sits outside the box. It turns neatness on its side. It warps the box.

It is like Schrodinger’s old pussy – both one and the other or neither.

Cat in a box

So I like both. Is that contradictory? I hope not. But who wants to be predictable and, well, symmetrical?

Recently, I’ve noticed symmetry appearing in the real world and that interests me. I can grasp the concept of symmetry in maths and art but symmetry in terms of events is a little too metaphysical to just accept as not worth examining. It is worth examining. What does it mean?

The sort of symmetry in real life I’m talking about is when something happens to a person, they then go forth and unwittingly cause that event to happen elsewhere. They may or may not notice this. They repeat the behaviour of someone else. They don’t know why they do it. They just do it. Or, someone hears a story about an event happening to someone they know, that same event then occurs in their life. They may or may not see it. I have seen this pattern recently in me and others. Why does it happen? I want to understand it. Is it a ‘thing’ or just coincidence? Some might wonder whether I am talking about karma, but this isn’t quite karma, as this isn’t necessarily a bad thing that a person commits coming back to them. It could be a thing (event, bad or good) that happens to them that they then unwittingly commit elsewhere.

Symmetry is related to repetition. And I am a huge fan of repetition (or at least I have recently become interested in it). However, symmetry is generally a once-only repetition rather than a repetition ad infinitum. It appears, it is repeated and mirrored.

Batman symmetry

A more simplified example is say you are planning a trip to Venice. You suddenly notice ‘coincidences’ around you with respect to the topic of ‘Venice’. You see references to Venice: someone else is going or has been to Venice, there’s a documentary about Venice on TV, you see an advert on the Tube for holidays in Venice or you spot Death in Venice on your bookshelf. Is this symmetry at work? Or just pure coincidence based on the fact that you wouldn’t have previously connected the ‘dots’ so to speak? I, being the airy fairy teeny, tiny possibility philosopher that I am, believe that it is symmetry at work.

Where I’m going in November

What I also like about symmetry is that it is one of those mathematical concepts that is also found in art (along with many others such as infinity, the void, the golden mean, the Fibonacci sequence, and the rhizome to name a few). I find the overlap of maths and art fascinating. I’m starting to think that they are one and the same (who knew?). The word ‘abstract’ appears in both. They both look at the meta. They both look at the concept. They both start with a gem of an idea and they work, rework, churn, think, work, rework until a diamond emerges.

Symmetry is pleasing because of the aesthetic. Aesthetics is desired, sought after, in all categories of art from representational to abstract and conceptual. All artists yearn for the aesthetic experience in their viewer. Maths is also all about the aesthetic : the aesthetic of numbers, and in this case, of symmetry.

Symmetry is beautiful and fascinating to me. To return to the idea of the symmetry of life. To me that is as beautiful and fascinating as mathematical or artistic symmetry. I see symmetry in my life and I reluctantly see the beauty in it even if it hurts when it happens.

Symmetry in purple triangles

So can we prevent this pattern? I suspect, not. So in conclusion. Don’t hate symmetry: embrace it. It is part of the fabric of nature and life.



Is 3 my magical number? Or is it a load of dangly bits?

This is a weird thought I’ve had for a while, for at least three months. It might be my imagination, or it might be real, but it feels as if the number ‘3’ is important in my life. Here is why:

Firstly, I am the third of three children so three was an important dynamic to me growing up.

Me and my two siblings

Secondly, most of my important friendships have been as a threesome rather than a twosome or foursome (or five-, six-, sevensome).

Thirdly, the houses I have lived at have been the following:

  • 18 (1 + 8 = 9 and 9/3 = 3)
  • 134 (3 of course, and 4 – 1 = 3)
  • 7 (see below)
  • 4 (take 7 from 4 and you get 3)
  • Then I lived in Amsterdam and I lived on the 9th floor (9 / 3 = 3)
  • Then Japan – Japan is a country pregnant with number significance so there lots of 3s in Japan
  • 2 (well, there has to be one exception I suppose)
  • 18 (see first house)
  • Blenheim Cottage (no house number – but the postcode was OX7 3SJ – there’s a 3 there and the house had three stories)
  • 24 (the number 3 comes between these two numbers)
  • 33 (no explanation needed)
  • 21 (2 + 1 = 3)

Blenheim Cottage – a three story house.

Fourthly, I have three children so that three dynamic continues in my life.

My three boys

Fifthly, I would describe myself as juggling three things: family, work, art.

Sixthly, I have three parents: a mum, dad and step-mum.

Seventhly, my birthday is 25th (5 – 2 = 3) of the 12th (1 + 2 = 3) in the year 1971 (1 + 9 + 7 + 1 = 18 / 6 = 3).

My birthday tree

Eighthly, I have lived in three countries: the UK, the Netherlands, Japan.

My favourite Japanese cat

Ninethly and finally as nine reasons is divisible by three, as I write this I am 45 years old, 4 + 5 = 9 / 3 = 3.


And as a final thought, I’ve finished writing this blog at 3.33pm!

Time is a messy scribble

This is a weird thought I’ve been having a lot recently. I’ve been a fan of Marcel Proust for a few years now, ever since I first picked up a copy of his mighty Remembrance of Things Past and started to read (and yet to finish).

This man again?

Arguably the most profound narration from Proust’s huge tome, which is composed of a number of novels, is the description quite early on of what happens to the narrator’s sense of time when he tastes a madeleine. This moment of remembering has coined the term a ‘Proustian moment’, which refers to how a sound, sight, sound (music), smell, taste or happening can trigger a flash back of strong emotion to an earlier time.

Proust’s cake

Through his writing, Proust examined what is perceived, and also what is remembered, and the repeated and ever-present links between perception and memory.

This interests me because I find the idea that time is a linear yet intangible ‘something’ completely meaningless. Many people, it seems, see time as something invisible that they live in and they travel along, as if they are a dot travelling along a long line that stretches from birth to death. They accept it as natural and dependable as the air that they breathe.

Is time like this?

I don’t see time like that at all. Time disturbs me. I see time as a big cumulus cloud with me in the middle.

Time, if it were pretty

If time were a line and I had to draw it, it would look something like this.

My theory of time

Time often feels as if it is traveling at a constant, linear fashion. Yet, there will be a moment in time’s journey, when I’m in a building I’ve been in before, or smelling a smell of the past, or tasting a taste of my childhood, or thinking about someone who has long left my day-to-day existence and I will get what I can only describe as a time-carrying emotional wack in the stomach. It can be a good wack, or it can be a bad wack.

I also have these time-carrying emotional wacks when I am driving. In fact, I get them a lot when I am driving. I also get them at Zumba, when I’m trying to sleep, and when I’m waiting in a queue. So they are sometimes triggered by an external stimuli (a smell or taste) and sometimes triggered by a total lack of external stimuli (boredom). Time exists in the chaos and the void.

So it may be n number of years since an emotional event happened, good or bad, but I can be thrust back to that event just as suddenly and unpredictably as I can not be thrust back to it. The idea that time heals, is utter rubbish. Why? Because time is a cloud, it isn’t linear. It doesn’t just have speed and direction. It has position as well. Perhaps the physicists need to step in at this point and make the observation that they have made many times before that you can either examine the velocity of a particle or it’s position but not both.

This theory is called the Uncertainty Principle. I therefore propose that we create an Uncertainty of Time Principle as well. Time is like a particle. We can see the position of time in our minds, or the velocity it is travelling at (with us along with it), but we can’t see both together.

If I could control my emotions and prevent the lack of or all-encompassing stimuli to the senses, then time would be predictable. But I can’t and it isn’t. So I have to accept that this is how time is. Time is woolly. It can’t be measured.

There’s no point fighting or seeking the emotional wacks, they will come when time wills.

Jayden K. Smith – who are you?

Last night I received a number of messages such as the below. This was a hoax. There are a lot of news items about this hoax. Lots of other people received this message.

One of many messages I received last night.

So today I decided to try to imagine who Jayden K. Smith might be. Why? Because I don’t have enough work to do at the moment and it’s fun. Is he real? Nobody knows. He is to me though.

This is what I have come up with.

He’s 23 years old. He lives in a small provisional town in the West Midlands. He has two younger brothers. They are called Simon and Adrian. He’s white. He’s 5’8″ tall. He’s not hugely tall compared to his contemporaries but he’s happy with that. He’s tall enough, he thinks. He doesn’t like to stand out in the crowd.

He still suffers a little from acne. He had very bad acne as a teenager so it isn’t as bad as it was. He has wispy blonde hair, it is short. He has a bit of a fringe though. His face sports a largish nose, big lips, and a light beard (its not really a ‘beard’ as most people would know it, perhaps a better way to describe it would be ‘a few sprouting hairs’).

The K stands for Kenneth. It was his granddad’s name. Jayden likes to go by ‘Jayden K. Smith’ rather than Jay, or Jayden, as he thinks it makes him sound important.

His favourite colour is purple.

He likes triangles.

Jayden finds this image very pleasing

He once met Jeremy Corbyn. That’s his claim to fame. He’s quite proud of that. He has voted for Labour ever since.

Jayden has met this man

He can touch his nose with his tongue.

He is more of a dog person than a cat person although he doesn’t currently have any pets. When he leaves home, he has decided, he’s going to get a dog. Or perhaps not, it depends on what he is doing at that point.

Jayden would love to have a dog such as this one

He has a good appetite. He has a high metabolism and doesn’t seem to put on much weight whatever he eats. If anything, his stomach is concave. He loves Nandos and goes there as often as he can. He will more or less eat anything though.

Jayden loves to eat here

He has a favourite white baseball cap. He mostly wears bleached jeans, trainers and football tops. He supports Aston Villa. He always has. He doesn’t know why. His dad did so he does. His dad died a couple of years ago from a heart attack. He was devastated. He hasn’t really gotten over it if he’s honest. He lives with his mum and brothers in a three-bedroom semi detached 1930s house. His brothers are both still at school. The house has a nice back garden with lots of shrubs and an apple tree.

Jayden lives here with his mum and brothers

Jadyen K. Smith has a degree in computer science. He got a low 2.1, which he is really happy about. He’s currently working in Asda (he only graduated last summer) while he decides what he wants to do with his life. He isn’t really putting in a huge amount of effort into looking for a proper job yet. He figures that he has plenty of time. His mum is a school cleaner. She hasn’t nagged him too much about his career. She’s enormously proud of his degree. He was the first of his family to go to university (although his dad was very clever).

He believes himself to be more-or-less completely heterosexual. He’s never had a serious girlfriend. He’s not hugely bothered though. He lost his virginity when he was 16 at a party. She was called Helen. He really liked her but it didn’t really go anywhere. She’s now living in London. He’s not sure what she does, something media-related. They are Facebook friends.

He has a few real life friends: people he knew at school and a few from Asda. He goes out about twice a week, mostly to the local pub but sometimes into town.

Jayden K. Smith isn’t very passionate about much in this world. He doesn’t have any hobbies as such, besides creating a Facebook hoax in his name and a vague interest in football. He’s completely overwhelmed by how many people fell for his hoax and how far and wide it spread. He has no plans for any other such hoaxes. He is quite happy living his rather quiet, non-passionate life. He is hoping that by this time next week everyone will have forgotten about him.

That’s it, that is Jayden K. Smith.




Nobody enjoys Sports Day and nobody admits to it

This is the weird thought I had today at my youngest child’s annual primary school Sports Day (he’s in top infants, or Year 2 for you younger people out there).

Shortly after waking this morning and realising that today was his Sports Day my reaction was not one of joy, elation, excitement or anticipation, it was one of annoyance and irritation. My second reaction was one of guilt at feeling annoyance and irritation. I reprimanded myself: what sort of mother doesn’t enjoy Sports Day? I don’t know of any other parent who feels the same way as me. But then I wondered, it this just another example of one of tose Things Nobody Admits To? There are a lot of Things Nobody Admits To but that’s a future blog entry.

Beanbags and hula hoops – the main ingredients of Sports Day since 1955

I don’t enjoy Sports Day and I hope that I’m not the only one (otherwise I really am a horrid mother). I didn’t enjoy it as a child and I enjoy it even less as an adult. Why? Well, I’ll tell you. There are a number of reasons and here they are.


It is the same every year.

Since having children I’ve attended at least 11 sports days. I’ve watched them toddle, jog, canter, skip and run in front of me. I’ve seen them throw beanbags into hoops, jump as high as they can, stumble over hurdles and slide over the finish line. I’m bored of it. The formula doesn’t really change much. I’m more than regular bored of it. I’m bored to tears by it. Sports Day has changed little, if at all, since the 1970s when I was at infants school.

This photo was taken circa 1980 on one of my sports days (I think this was the after sports day picnic)


If they have Sports Day why not have Maths Day or Art Day?

None of my  three boys are particularly athletic. They like maths and art. They are good at maths and art. They’d win maths and art races for sure. They never win running races. They don’t look to me like they are enjoying the whole Sports Day experience that much so since they look a bit miserable, therefore so do I.


Parents are expected to attend unless pinned to the ground at work by an elephant 

Sports Day means that I have to forego work for a whole morning. I am paid by the hour. It costs me £40 to attend Sports Day (on average). The timing of Sports Day is never convenient. They either start half an hour after school drop off or finish half an hour before the end of school and this entails a lot of hanging around and more small talk (see next point). So Sports Day actually costs me more like £50. Do I sound grumpy? Yes.

He so badly wants to go to Sports Day


Sports Day is hell for introverts

I have to sit with people I don’t know (at least this is the case this year as we moved to a new school in January) and wait desperately for someone to engage me in conversation.  This is painful. I’d rather take my laptop with me and do some work thereby negating the above point, at least a little bit.


Parents are more concerned about capturing the moment than enjoying the moment

See point below about ‘bringing out the worst in people’. All parents and grandparents have their phone out, and pointed at their child, as the race happens. Nobody is actually watching their child run. They just want that ever important photo. Yes, I do this too.

My middle son running last summer – good photo, eh?


The Great British Weather

It is usually borderline freezing cold (having said that, today was a glorious day).

We are having fun, honest!


Sports Day brings out the worst in people

I am not a ‘cheer ’em on’ type of mum. Today, I found myself sat sandwiched between two groups of screaming women who kept jumping up to holler ‘Leighton! Leighton! GOOOOOOO!’ or ‘COME ON SUMMER! RUN! RUN!’ They got on my nerves. They did it for every race. I have no urge to do that. I also witnessed one mother pushing a second mother out of the way today when the second mother lept up to cheer her son on thereby obscuring first mother from taking a good photo of her son. That really did happen. It was quite aggressive. I’m surprised second mother didn’t give first mother a knuckle sandwich. Now that would have made Sports Day more entertaining.

The one thing I do like about Sports Day is the mummy race. However, this is the element that brings out the worst in my personality. I know my children won’t win any races (and they accept that, as do I, as part of life’s way of saying ‘you can’t be good at everything and your skills lie elsewhere’). However, I am good at short distance running so this is my time to shine. I love the mummy race. As soon as the teacher in charge exclaims ‘and now for the mummies’ I have been known to leap up and be the first on the start line, with gritted teeth and a determined glare. I have won past mummy races. I once missed one because my youngest (who was three at the time) needed a poo. I had to hide my irritation that day but boy was I irritated.

My moment of glory

So at least today I had the hope that there would be a mummy race and I might leave these Donnington mothers as dots on the horizon as I glided gracefully over the finish line, arms raised, sweat poring and joy oozing. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. At the end of the last children’s race the teacher in charge announced ‘thank you all for coming, we’ve had a great day, bye bye see you in half an hour’.

So today was definitely a hip hugger sort of day (yeah, it wasn’t so bad really), not granny pants but no go commando either (which isn’t a good look on Sports Day anyway, especially during the mummy race if you are wearing a skirt).

Is it a granny pants day or go commando?

Recently I had a really bad day. It was an awful day. I spent the latter portion of the day in tears. That day was a granny pants day. A few days later I had a really good day, that day, I decided, was a go-commando sort of day.

Then my weird thought came: pants are a great way to classify 24-hour happiness levels.

Types of pants

So here is my classification system:

  • Control Briefs (Granny Pants): the worst sort of day imaginable, you have botched up big time at work, someone has died, you’ve crashed your car, you’ve had a bad review, someone has been really mean to you, you’ve failed an exam (or all your exams).
  • Classic Briefs (not far down from Granny Pants): a fairly bad day, you’ve got a stomach bug and feel awful, the exam you took was really had and you think you may fail, your dog is unwell, you’ve had a row with a close friend.
  • High-cut Briefs (I’m not even sure what these are): it hasn’t been a great day, work was full of niggles, you’re feeling stroppy and hormonal, you’ve got a headache.
  • Hipster (these are not unfashionable, but use more fabric than others): it’s been an average sort of day, not much has happened: things have been neither good nor bad.
  • Boyshorts (I wear these): you’ve had a reasonably okish day, perhaps you enjoyed a good cup of coffee but that was the highlight of the day. The rest of the day has been average.
  • Bikini Briefs (I don’t wear these, they are so 1980s): someone has paid you an unexpected complement, you’ve solved a problem, you’re feeling a little creative, you’re reading a really good book.
  • Tanga (I have no idea what these are): it’s been a good day, you’ve been shopping and bought an amazing pair of shoes or you’ve been out for a drink with good friends, you’ve had a good meal with your loved one, you’re book is unputadownable, you’re feeling happy and in love, you’ve got that warm gooey feeling you get from being content.
  • Thong: it is your birthday or Christmas Day and you’ve got lots of nice presents.
  • G-string: today has been excellent, from start to finish. You’ve been touched by human kindness, someone has surprised you in some way, a long-lost friend has got in touch, that handsome prince has kissed you, you feel healthy and alive. You’ve come up with a brilliant idea.
  • Go-commando: you are happiness. End.

These chaps are having the best day ever

We only live to 100 as we can’t cope with a century of change

This is my weird thought of the day.

Today, I came across an old lady in her mid-90s. She’s called Betty. She’s currently in hospital in Shrewsbury. She doesn’t want to walk. She’s not even that keen on feeding herself. I haven’t heard her talk. She’s inactive. She’s lived a good life. I don’t imagine she’s got a huge amount of time left on this world. Watching her sit in her chair today with her mouth agape I had one of my weird thoughts: ‘Perhaps we only live to around 100 because more than a century of change is too much for us to cope with’.

Betty was born in the 1920s. I’m not sure exactly when in the 1920s but at 90-something it will be the 1920s. She was born at a time when the motorcar was a novelty. The motorcar didn’t travel very fast. There were no motorways. We had had one world war, but not yet a second. I wonder if there were roundabouts in the 1920s? I suspect not. We didn’t watch TV. We didn’t have the word ‘television’. We didn’t really listen to the radio, or ‘wireless’. The telephone rarely rang and it had a handset and a mouth piece. I suspect we had to speak to an operator before we got to the person we needed. The idea of having a phone each would have been preposterous. There were no computers. We read books. We talked to people. We drank cocktails and sashayed about in flapper dresses.

Betty now lives at a time when we all have phones. We go to nightclubs. We watch TV every night. Our phones are connected to this amazing virtual land called The Internet. We drive up and down the M54 with such regularity, and rather fast, we could do it with our eyes shut. We don’t need to listen to the radio; we have iPlayer. Does Betty know what a pod cast is? Is she on Facebook? Does she update her status with ‘Spend the day sitting in my chair with my mouth open again.’ I doubt it. I suspect that Betty has reached her limit on change.

The M54

I don’t mean to sound patronising (perhaps Betty is very Internet savvy) but I suspect that in the year 2065 I, too, will feel tired of change. If I try to imagine what this world will look like in the year 2065, sat here in the year 2017 in the age of Facebook and Snap Chat, and I cannot. I cannot picture what it will be like. That’s my point. I suspect that by then, I will have had enough. I suspect that by then I will be like Betty.

This lady was born in 1898. She’s very old.

So I conclude, we simply cannot live past 100. Even as medical science advances further, we won’t live much past 100. Why? Because if we do, it’s just all too much and our brains explode. That would be messy.


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