A Pillow Book

I wanted a blog to reflect my life and, as with most people, I do and am many things, decided to create a Pillow Book. It will have thoughts, ideas, observations and little snippets of my day to day life. So, thank you Empress Consort Teishi....... I bow to you and your great work and hope, in some small way, mine might be great too.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sister Friends

 I, like many people, have not lived where I was born for most of my adult life. My mum and her sister live less than half a mile from the house where they entered the world, their grandparents and parents are  buried in the town's cemetery; this is not how my generation have lived. I am not unusual, in fact I don't have one close friend who lives where she was born. We have not had the luxury of extended families to help, we have all had to create that network from scratch. It is not easy but once achieved this network of women is as much, indeed more, than any family could ever be.  Maia Angelou has a name for such women, she calls them her 'sister friends'. I am lucky enough to have several such women in my life and  I love them dearly. I can be myself with them and know they never judge, or are shocked, but always loyal and supporting. They will hug me when I haven't showered for days, make me a cup of tea in my own kitchen and not mind if they have to pick up a pile of washing before they can sit down, or text me from America, just to make sure I am fine. Nobody makes me laugh more that one such friend, nobody makes me feel more cherished than another. I have cried, had drunken nights, been outrageous and given love and support to them all, it is no chore, it is as easy as breathing.  I never forget , at the time of my very difficult separation, after a incomprehensible and tearful phone call the arrival, within minutes, of a dear friend, bottle of whisky in hand...just there at my time of need.  With this love comes anguish, fear when illness lurks, worries at times of marital difficulties, funerals of parents to attend, but also celebrations and joys. A test of a true friend, I was once told, it is the 3am breakdown. Who could you call that would come and rescue you, and would laugh with you and make it all ok? I know, do you?  We have partners, spouses, and family, children and acquaintances, but Sister Friends are the rocks we are tied to that stop us being washed away with the tide.  I am, at the moment going through a sad and difficult time and would like to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to my special 'sister friends'. I couldn't live without you, my life would be all the poorer for the loss of you. I am taking from the friendship cup now but promise I will give back when I am able. You know who you are, a thank you can never be enough.

-I do not believe that the accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings. Gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at. It's a serious matter. You compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you're relentless...And it is an investment. Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I'm married to someone who is very jealous and you're married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.”

Maya Angelou




Thursday, 17 May 2012

Donna Summer

Well, Donna Summer died today...I can't say that I have thought of her often over the past years, on occasion hearing a track on the radio or in the background of a film. But I am sure, like many of my generation,today we have been transported back to our teenage years....I did a Google search of her album covers and realised just how many I had, and 12" disco mixes and singles and probably, somewhere at my mum's house, old cassette tapes of the Top 30, recorded from the kitchen radio using a hand held microphone.  Looking on itunes reminded me just how many amazing songs she recorded! For dancing, for singing with a hairbrush in front of the mirror! Anthems for my generation....we dreamt of New York and wore our glitter belts, lip gloss, tight jeans and stilettos. Primped and permed off we went to  local church halls and danced with our friends and sang our hearts out...  Today a little bit of our youth died and we all had a stark reminder of our own mortality.  So, this weekend, dig out your lip gloss and heels, download a track or two, pick up your hairbrush and sing along with me and Donna....back to Saturday night C1981......Love to Love you Baby, Mac Arthur Park, State of Independence, take your pick, belt it out....to youth..to Donna....

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sunshine came softly through my window today....

For the very first time this year I was woken by the sun flooding through my bedroom window, this is, without doubt, the way to be woken, no alarms calling you from slumber, just a gently rousing glow. Let it be the first of many such mornings, that I may arise refreshed and ready for the day... the breath of summer is whispering in my ear...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A cut in time....

I am a child of the 60's, I spent many hours sitting in hairdressers watching grandmothers, aunts and mothers having hair washed, setting lotion applied, curlers wound, nets on, under the dryer, magazine in hand. Then on to back combing teasing and spray, so much spray, weekly this ritual occurred. There is a whole generation of women (my mother included) who have never styled their own hair.... but for one man my generation has been saved this ritual....we have been freed the torture of the clip and curl.... Vidal Sassoon, our saviour!

I had my first bob cut when I was 15, I worked on Saturdays and in the holidays at a hairdressers. The twin sons of the glamorous Italian owner were disciples of Vidal and after one trip up to Sassoon's for a cutting course to learn the new convex cut they decided that I should be their model. Well they were young, handsome, Canadian born and accented....and I had the biggest crush on one of them. For several hours I sat in the chair whilst they snipped away, strand by strand, perfectionists both, until finally the cut was achieved, photographs taken and there it was, my first 'bob'. I loved it, the cut, the attention, the whole thing and since that day, despite the odd moment of curl , I have been a 'bob' disciple too. It is the perfect hair style for any age, it always looks fresh and of the moment, it exudes style rather than high fashion and will, I believe, remain timeless forever. So it was with a sadness that I woke to hear of the death of Vidal Sassoon, but what a life, what a legacy. Mr Sassoon I thank you, for the freedom you gave to women all over the world, for that shiny, easy to care for hair style that will forever be yours. Rest in peace, sir rest in peace.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

To Kindle or not to Kindle............

Last night at my Book Club meeting we had a lengthy discussion on the merits or otherwise of owning a Kindle. I can see the advantages, if you are a commuter, to have the newspaper and current novel on a light flat screen the size of a paperback is ideal, it can be read with ease, no folding and re-folding, no one handed propping open of pages or trying to flick over a page when the other hand is otherwise engaged holding onto a strap! One friend is off solo across Europe on a train journey of many hours followed by a two week holiday, a voracious reader she loves the idea of several books ready to go... Another friend, who is of the age that reading glasses are required, loves the fact that a largish font can be chosen so negating the need for remembering to take her glasses to bed each night. Another loves the light that comes with the case so she made read in peace without disturbing her husband.  I could go on for each owner of a Kindle gave many reasons for owning one, but for me the greatest reason to not have one is that Kindles have no soul.

I grew up surrounded by books and readers. Every Friday after work my dad would drive to my Gran's house where he would meet my mum, brother and me, a quick cup of tea and he then walked along the road to the minuscule Library that served the market town I grew up in.  The Librarians knew him by name as he did them. I often went with him, and would happily spend time looking at books on art or some such until he was ready with a stack of four, five or six books to get him through the next week.  I still have a book from that Library, bought in a sale,  withdrawn from circulation stamped in the front, when I pick it up  I am taken back to Fridays of my childhood and precious times with my dad.  My eldest daughter is called Jessica, I came across the name as a child because it was part of the title of a book given to my Grandmother as a Sunday School prize, Jessica's First Prayer. I read it as soon as I was able and it now belongs  my very own Jessica. I recently had to teach a class of seven year olds PSHE introducing the theme of how we change through our lives. I was able to go to my bookcase and use the much beloved book belonging to my son, Love You Forever, which perfectly illustrated how we all change from babies to the day we die.  I love certain recipe books that fall open at exactly the right egg stained page or the novel that has suncream smudged ink and sand that trickles out when you open it up again many years later.

I could go on, yes it is better for the planet, but wouldn't people lose jobs if no more books are printed?  It remembers what page you got to when you fell asleep, but is it any hardship flicking through until a sentence is familiar? But, we won't ever share Kindles or pass them on to our children, or sit snuggled up on a rainy afternoon with a small child going back and forth through  much turned pages. So to Kindle or not to Kindle...that is a very good question.....and for this reader it is, I feel, a no because a soul will always win over convenience for me.....unless I start commuting that is.....