Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Book of Time

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To go along with my ramblings on happiness and time (in just another canvas) here is a poem I wrote. It seems to have great wisdom and simplicity … so why can I not take my own advice? If I can write this I must understand it, I must believe it. Life is a paradox of mystery and clarity.

The Book of Time

The past is a story lost in time and

Who living might know what happened then?

Events seen now through a misted glass

May appear distorted, shaded by the tellers pen.

*

The future is a page still blank

Unwritten yet, and might not come to ought

For impending dooms can be re-writ

In time, and actions planned remain just thoughts

 *

The present time is all we have

To play awhile; an open book that we can lend;                   

Life’s template to illuminate as best we might

And should; for all too soon we reach the end.

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Time for Happiness

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I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. I don’t feel happy – hence all this business of changing my image, and not living up to other people’s expectations. I’m not depressed – been there, sent several t-shirts to Oxfam – I would recognise it anytime and this isn’t depression. I’m not sure what it is. A vague sense of ‘I can do better’ maybe – the story of my life; or ‘is this all there is …’ and ‘I’m running out of time to make it right’.

Yet when I try to analyse my life I realise that I live a pretty idyllic one for several reasons.

  • I live alone so can do what I want, when I want, how I want
  • I own, outright, my own house
  • I have no commitments (retired)
  • I have no responsibilities (kids grown up, no elderly parents – I am the elderly parent!)
  • I’m mobile
  • I’m reasonably healthy (barring some mobility issues due to an accident/hyper mobility syndrome)
  • I’m intelligent, interested in all sorts of things, interesting (so I’m told)

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In actual fact I should be deliriously happy – so why aren’t I. There are the obvious reasons, of course: varying but continuous levels of pain, lack of money, plus, and especially, feeling lonely, no-one to cuddle up to; no-one to share my life,  my feelings,  my ideas with, on an intimate level; no one to be 100% unconditionally on my side. But this only bothers me sometimes – usually on a night, in winter, when it’s dark and cold and silent.

No! That’s not the problem – or at least its only part of the problem. There is a constant sense of restlessness within me, and to complicate this I am just a tiny bit lazy. The root of the problem … I have decided, after months of reading self-help books, and practising my life-coaching skills on myself in an orgy of self-analysis … is my attitude to TIME. I feel it rushing by me and cannot seem to grasp it; it terrifies me into a frozen inability to act … to live. As if by my pretending not to see or acknowledge time, it might pass me by and forget all about me. There are constant reminders of time slipping by – from my children and grandchildren growing older, to the youth culture that pervades society, and through technology that is exceeding my ability to understand it. So, despite my affinity with the cycle of life and the turn of the seasons, I waste a lot of this valuable resource by – well – just doing nothing, colluding with myself and pretending I still have time to write that novel, time to visit that country, time to meet that special person.

 It’s an illusion worthy of a Time Lord. The reality is, that by doing nothing, time flashes by even faster – time is relative, after all. I’m thinking about those days when I do manage to write a poem or a chapter of my children’s book or paint a watercolour or craft a page in my journal. Time slows down, suspended, as I get totally immersed in my work and I emerge feeling a sense of achievement; feeling happy. I seem to be able to pack so much into so little on those days, drifting in a state of magical meditation as words flow like paint onto my laptop, or my paints create another chapter in the journal of my life.

So, I’m in the process of setting myself some monthly goals; goals aimed at using my time more effectively – to plan (oh not set in stone, that would kill my creativity, and my free, rebellious spirit) but to  consciously set aside regular time to write and paint, to meet with friends or family, and also to meditate, read, or listen to music, or just admire the birds in my winter berry-rich garden – and to be more spontaneous, to not give in to my solitude and hide away. I’m going to give myself permission to use my time to meet my needs and expectations, not other people’s. Maybe then, those wriggling worms of ‘happiness-less’ that inflict my restless heart, will migrate to somewhere else, and leave me alone … Alone … ALONE? Oh you know what I mean.

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I am the Goddess: writer of words and changer of dreams; the truth spills from my mouth, painting the world the colours of my choosing.

My friend and I both recently read the Happiness Project (see below) and decided we needed a Happiness Group; somewhere we can talk about Happiness in all its varied forms, enjoy good company, and  … eat cake. There was nothing locally that was remotely like what we envisioned so we launched our own group in February 2014, at a local café (Hull area). We had no idea if anyone would turn up or if it would just be the two of us, sitting on our own. Ten people joined us – we could hardly believe it – so many people interested in being happier! After three sessions we are fifteen strong and growing. One member has just built us a lovely website. So if you are someone who is interested in having more happiness (and cake) in their life (and who isn’t) go see what we are up to – we aren’t a life-coaching group, we don’t psycho-analyse, and we don’t charge; we just talk, listen, and have fun (and eat cake), and – wow – happiness grows. Happiness Group.

 Suggested reading:

Happiness                                           Matthieu Ricard

The Happiness Project                   Gretchen Rubin

Slow Time                                           Waverly Fitzgerald

The Invitation                                    Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Any book by Gill Edwards, Anna-Louise Haigh or Susan Jeffers

…  or just look into your own heart and be honest with yourself – identify what really, really matters to you, and then find a way of doing it. In the end, that’s just what I did – I found another canvas – my soul.  See my poem the Book of Time

The Day of the Doctor

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What a brilliant day the 23rd November 2013 was.             dw50th final

During the day I baked some cupcakes in Doctor Who printed bun cases because you can’t go out to tea and not take a contribution. I made rose flavoured ones with a rose and a dalek on top of pink marscapone cream– symbolising Rose taming the Dalek (9th doctor) and blue, violet flavoured ones with a Tardis on top. I also wore my 50th anniversary official hallmarked silver Tardis and sonic screwdriver charms on a chain around my neck (Tardis) and on an earring (screwdriver).

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My very glittery buns plus me with my Gallifrey tattoo, my sonic earring (you can just see it) and my Tardis necklace (in the V of my sweartshirt). Sorry for quality – its hard to take pix of self when you’re on your own.

I’d had fun all week watching the various programmes from re-runs, to analysis of the various Doctor’s regenerations, to the science and the drama of how DW came into being. Interesting watching the very first episode: I remember it, at age 12, as being grippingly exciting. 50 years on and I was fast-forwarding parts it was so slow – how TV and technology changes. Interesting also, to see no sonic screwdriver – I can no longer remember when this became part of the mythology of the show. An excuse to borrow some of the back episode DVDs off my son and watch them to find out.

At 6pm I took he cupcakes to my son’s house ready to watch the evening’s events with my grandchildren – they were buzzing with excitement, and wanted to fast-forward time! We had pizza, and then watched the Paul McGann (8) prequel before the episode itself; after that the party on BBC 2 (shame about the notable companion omissions – Rory, Amy, Martha, Donna; and the ridiculous, and useless live-link to 1-Direction) ; and then … we watched … the 5th (Peter Davison), 6th (Colin Baker) and 7th (Sylvester McCoy) doctors ‘unofficial’ film, on red button, of how they tried to get into the 50th birthday episode. It was so funny and also included Tom Baker (4), Paul McGann, David Tennant (10), his pregnant wife (Peter Ds daughter), Russell T Davis, various filming techs and … Peter Jackson from the Hobbit set! How cool! It was brilliant and all produced by Mrs Tennant! My lucky son can record off his red button but I can’t on Sky (why not?) They should have shown this very funny film on mainstream TV – it was as good as the big event, though in a very different way.

I thought the episode itself was stunning – the best ever, and I can’t wait to see it again, tonight – on my own, in peace and quiet! They’ve done some interesting stuff with the mythology, taking away the darkness that has pervaded the doctor since 2005. Time can be rewritten. Perhaps Capaldi’s doctor will be more humourous, less troubled – pity as I liked the inner darkness – we all want someone to save even when they are busy saving us. I’m not sure that someone’s comment at the party is correct though – that they have opened the way to more than 13 regenerations – maybe I missed that – will look tonight. Or maybe they just meant that ‘time can be rewritten’ – we know that anyway, and SF can do anything within reason. Looks like Christmas is all about Trenzalore and the Silence, and next season is about a search for Gallifrey. Good stuff providing PC lives up to expectations because I’m going to miss Matt – he was the most brilliant star in a brilliant Galaxy last night (I never thought I’d ever say that my favourites being the 5th and 10th doctors)! Just goes to show time really can be rewritten).

City of Culture

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To celebrate Hull being awarded this accolade for 2017 I enclose here some poems that express my love of the area. Some I submitted to help the bid, others are just heartfelt. see just another canvas page for my feelings about home, Hull and East Yorkshire; or read – further down – The Green Man of the Wildwood or Changing Moods – my meditation on the beautiful River Humber

Remembering Albion 

I remember this land

Its bones are my bones

Its moods my own.

 

Though I dwell in city concrete

And in fear, the trees retreat

Let me ride this fiery dragon

Across Albions’ ancient fields.

In dreams I breathe the northern lights

As I stalk the limestone heights

I bathe in muddy estuaries

And drink at sacred springs. 

Let me sleep between the standing stones

Trawl the patterns of its stars

May I pluck its peaks and weave its roots

Dance barefoot on the beach.

 

As I celebrate the moment

In the changing of its years

With its bones of rock and diverse moods

I remember this land and me.

The Kingstown Tale of Freedom

A cup of hot chocolate

With added double cream

East touches West in

A confectioners dream

 

White sugar/brown sugar

Both taste as sweet

When sprinkled in the cup of life

As multi cultures meet

 

Take a slice of brown bread

A fluffy bun of white

Share a friendship sandwich

Forget the ethnic fight

 

Weave a piece of white silk

With a deep amber stitch

Create a world of difference

In a tapestry so rich

 

Paint a snowy canvas

With rich ‘umber paint

Clean the city’s brushes

Of hatred’s taint

 

Seed a crop of daisies bright

In a terracotta pot

Plant a sacred garden

And stop suspicion’s rot

 

Play a tune of harmony

On jet and ivory keys

Blend the notes together

For the diversity reprise

 

A forest of snow white yacht sails

Midst a pile of rusting trawls

Create a festival of love and light

As ‘Ull and Freedom calls

Sea Mist – my relationship with the East Yorkshire coast

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In my time I loved to walk beside the sea

And dancing surf, with seagulls, and bobbing crab net buoys.

I loved the old boats, the harbour walls, and feeling free

From city grime, poison fumes and techno-toys.

 

Once, on a cliff top, with crumbling, muddy sides

I spied the comic flash of puffin flight

Streaking past, diving to greet the rolling tide

And rise again with fishy prize held tight.

 

A sandy point with rustling spiky dune grass

Stitching it in place like carpet tape or string,

Is broken by winter wind and wave, till, unable to pass

It remained unreachable till Spring.

 

Sleepy coves with white chalk stacks

Where gannets gossiped on every ledge.

The smell of bird lime and salt dried bladderwrack

Reminded me that life is hard at terra-firma’s edge.

 

Sun warmed hours hunting crabs in brimming

Rock pools like watery time capsules.

Standing at the waterline skimming

Sea-smooth pebbles, until the hot air cooled

 

And a full moon painted a silver pathway;

Or storm clouds marbled its ebb and flow in shades of bold. 

Such dawns: two mighty elements merged in hazy grey

Till sun rise blushed the waking sea with gold.

 

How I loved those moods from mirror calm and still as bliss

To raging anger; and days when I resigned

Myself to sly, insidious sea fret mist

Drenching every aching inch of skin with freezing brine.

 

Now, as I walk those cliff tops, or feel the sandiness

Between my aging toes, the changing facets of its flood

Echo mine, strangely restless

And surging, in the tides that drive my blood.

City of Culture

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Home, I learned, can be anywhere you make it. Home is also the place to which you come back again and again.

Margaret Mead

I said my roots found it hard to get established anywhere but in fact my roots are definitely here in the north of England, and in particular, the city of Kingston Upon Hull with which I have a very love/hate relationship. I am immensely proud of Hull’s tenacity, independence (we have insulted Kings and Queens – Victoria and William of Orange sit on top of public toilets whilst Charles 1st was turned away from our gates at the start of the Civil War), history (yes, even the bad bits – slavery and whaling give us depth and colour); and famous ancestors – poets like Andrew Marvell, Phillip Larkin (remember the Toads?), politicians such as Wilberforce, actors like Maureen Lipman (I went to school with her, though she was older than me) and John Alderton, musicians such as the Housemartins/Beautiful South and Roland Gift – a whole cultural plethora of them.

I adore Hull’s buildings such as our elegant Georgian old town, the modern city heart rebuilt after war-time devastation (the most bombed city outside London and we don’t let Coventry claim otherwise, sorry) with buildings from Georgian to 50s Art Deco; refurbished dockland warehouses to innovative Malls, one built on stilts over an old dock; our graceful yet practical tidal barrier; a modern new travel interchange; refreshing green spaces in the city centre, and many parks scattered throughout with tree lined streets that radiate around this semi-circular city (causing traffic chaos at the hint of the wrong kind of snow or a broken down vehicle). All perched on the beautiful, multi-moody River Humber (not a river at all but a tidal estuary – see my poetry) with its famous suspension bridge, once the longest on earth, and strangely patterned mud flats glistening and sparkling in midday sun or midnight moonlight, respectively.

            But I get exasperated by the inhabitant’s insular approach to life, the bad decisions made by politicians that have led to massive unemployment following the decline in the fishing industry, and the continuing closure of factory after factory. Still it’s my city and I love it. I have lived and worked here all my life, brought children into the world here, contributed to supporting disadvantaged people with my charity and social work, set up support groups, got involved in fighting for different causes, enjoyed its wide variety of culture and educational opportunities. Now I enjoy semi-retirement here, spending time showing my grandchildren the city’s delights, and proudly nodding when outsiders say how down to earth and friendly we are.

We get attacked regularly from London based journalists (Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location that dubbed Hull the worst place to live – its not, without actually coming here of course) but even that pales into insignificance by one devastating attack – that of the environment itself when Hull was badly flooded in the monsoon-like rains of June 2007. Once again though, that Hull-born tenacity came to the fore as residents rose to the challenge that saw whole families reduced to living in caravans (to add to any educational disadvantages school children now had to face GCSE exams having nowhere to revise but a caravan bunk-bed). Several years on and some families are still in temporary accommodation, fighting sluggish insurance companies and grasping builders who saw an opportunity to do a bad job for good money.

More environmental disaster as the winters of 1009/10 and 2010/11 brought arctic conditions that froze pipes and struck the roads full of potholes. Yet the Hull spirit rose to the challenge with neighbours helping neighbours dig out the drives and pathways, and get the shopping in. Yet even in this northern outpost, during weather to rival Siberia, tiny signs of life pushed the cycles of the seasons ever on as snowdrop bulbs pushed through the frozen soil and mistletoe sprouted from my apple tree trunk.

But the patient city weather victims were/are still happy to relish in other successes and subsequent failures. So – good for you Hullites, with your two exceptional Rugby teams (Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers – we went to Wembly once (and since but not together as we did that one amazing time), the police in London feared rival gangs at such a high profile derby game but couldn’t believe their eyes to see HKR and HFC fans eating in pubs, cafes etc together, no trouble AT ALL; most of Hull went – someone hung a banner on the overhead footbridge at the western edge of the city, saying “last one out turn off the lights” – that’s our local humour); and then there’s the mixed fortune football team Tigers (more about them later) with their brand new sports stadium (doubling up as a much needed pop concert venue) sponsored by the once and only independent communications company in the country, till privatisation and market forces opened up hundreds of new telecom business opportunities, for better or worse. The unusual-in-sport HKR/HFC friendliness showed its head again recently, when the teams played together. One team just wanted to win (HFC); the other NEEDED to win (HKR) to stay in the Super League. Everyone cheered when Hull Kingston Rovers won, it meant both teams could continue to play against each other in the Super League – more derbies especially the traditional boxing day match – tradition survives. This rival friendliness, or friendly rivalry, is unheard of elsewhere I understand, but is typically Hull, and I love it.

Back to our mixed fortune football team – up and down the leagues – but suddenly finding itself in the Premier League for the first time in its history, playing the giants, and for one brief glorious shining moment, third in the league above many globally famous teams! Even the great Man U underestimated them. What other team has been to Old Trafford and LOST 4:3! It was a brief heyday as two years on – relegation, financial ruin and manager misdemeanours taint the dream – but things change – owners, managers, players and fortunes – to see us in 2013 back where we belong – the Premier division.

Hull, as a city, cannot seem to win: we are the forgotten city, with decaying factories, desperate social problems – being at the bottom of just about every league table from health to education. There is very little investment in the city, and help was exceptionally slow to arrive, for instance, during the summer floods and winter freezes, leaving families living in dreadful conditions months, nay years on. A global recession and political chaos are not helping. The government refuse to abolish the Humber Bridge debt (rising by thousands of pounds per day they say though its expensive tolls have been cut by half) in order to improve commercial networking and free trade; the council are hesitating to sell the KC stadium to a local entrepreneur which could bring prosperity and life to the very run down area surrounding the stadium.

Yet our population remain some of the most positive, resourceful, friendly, do-anything-for-you people I’ve ever met. And there are glimmers of light on the horizon with foreign companies expressing interest in making Hull the centre of green technology appropriate to our Gateway to Europe position – if the politicians are able to see the same potential that the investors seem to, and that we, the residents know is here.

Recently the Economist urged the government to abandon Hull. But thankfully it hasn’t abandoned us – for – today, at 07.45am – we were named City of Culture 2017: the best news we have had for years – and so well deserved.

I love the existing culture (some of it free yet rivalling York) though this is also under threat from government cuts (talk about a lack of joined up thinking): museums, art galleries, cinemas (popular and art-house), theatres (municipal and the World Famous Hull Truck), the award-winning Deep – Europe’s deepest submarium (deepest what? people ask), our two ground-breaking universities, our local radio (the best in the country, its official); and the traditions too: Hull Fair in October, the largest travelling fair in Europe and the last traveller stop before winter; the Sea Shanty Festival in September; the Lord Mayors Parade and Hull Show; the mighty Freedom Festival and Round the World Clipper race spectaculars, the city’s love of fireworks, our council organising some of the best displays in the country; the Christmas carol concert in our beautifully Baroque and dignified City Hall, the annual, August spectacular called National Play Day when the city centre is opened up as a playground for children; and the many, frequently multi-cultural, street festivals, parades and parties in our several and beautiful parks – and more, much more … and so much more to come! 

But my local affection goes further, I love the nearby coast of chalky, bird rich cliffs, and ever-changing nature-reserve sand dunes, and its grey, cold, unpredictable seas (once full of fishing trawlers now empty of even the fish thanks to foreign factory ships registered in countries that don’t even have a coastline); the Yorkshire Wolds, and Moors that surround us on two sides ensuring those strange local weather patterns that leave us sunny in snow storms, and experiencing droughts when everywhere else floods, till the years when Hull did indeed find itself under water (but it so desperately needed that cleansing) or frozen under arctic storms. I love the local flower sprinkled woods and dark gothic moorland forests, both within which one can glimpse, if you’re quick, a pagan green man with spreading antlers peeping out from just beyond the next tree; the ancient standing stones and vanished coastal villages – can you hear the bells tolling at high tide; the rich agricultural flood plains stretching towards an endless horizon and huge, ever-changing skies; the busy market towns nestled and nurtured amongst breast-like rolling hills; and elegant Victorian spas, dumbed down with candy-floss, bingo halls and rows of battered Vacancy signs. See my poetry page.

Returning to Chez-Lynne: I do not need anyone else in my house to make me happily fulfilled, and it  feel cosy and full of love. I revel in my solitude, which is far from lonely. I have friends and family who visit regularly. If someone special comes along one day, all well and good; if not I have my work, my writing and my creative projects to keep me busy, the garden to nurture, decorating that still needs doing, sometime, no hurry. I might kid myself into thinking I’d like to live in a villa in Tuscany complete with vines, olive trees and the local Cazanove visiting for evenings of bohemian pleasure, or on a stony mountainside in citrus-scented Cyprus, or at the Galactic Portal that is Glastonbury, or even in Middle Earth or travelling the universe in the TARDIS (yes truly, all are dreams I entertain) but will I ever be able to tear my roots from East Yorkshire, I doubt it. I’m a northern lass, through and through, born and bred. But if I do tear myself away, I know I can take my ‘home’, that idea, that concept, that feeling even, with me, like a snail, and create it again, anywhere, anytime – just another canvas!