I woke up yesterday, on the morning of my 27th birthday, feeling a little flat. Here I was, with a normal day at work ahead of me, all alone with no one to watch me open my cards, or make me a special birthday breakfast, or give me an exciting birthday present. Not very celebratory.
Then I switched on the radio, and the first thing I heard was Matthew Price’s harrowing report from a temporary hospital in Haiti on the Today programme. A young American doctor was fighting back the tears as she told of a mother who had already lost three children in the earthquake, and would lose her fourth and last child that day if vital medical supplies didn’t arrive.
As I sat listening, it seemed unbelievable that here I was, drinking my tea and opening my birthday cards, thinking about things like what I was going to wear and where my friends and I would go for drinks that night, when somewhere at that very moment, thousands of people were suffering and dying. All at once, even thinking about something as trivial as birthday presents seemed like the most decadent thing in the world.
And so: I had a lovely birthday. I had a good day at work, a great evening out with my friends, lots of cards and messages and indeed some beautiful birthday presents, but I’m not going to say anything about that right now.
Instead what I’m going to say is simply that this year, the birthday present that really mattered wasn’t one that I received but one that I gave, by visiting the Bloggers for Haiti page and donating online.
I’m not quite sure I can put this quite eloquently as my blogging colleagues at My Shitty 20s and Travels With My Baby, but if we all give even a little, we can make a difference. If you would like to make a donation, go here and follow the easy instructions. It might just be the most important present you give anyone this year.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been off-screen for a bit, because quite a lot has been happening in the real world.
First of all, after some very busy final weeks, I have now finished working at Arts Council England, which I will miss very much – I had a wonderful time there, and will especially miss working with all of my lovely colleagues and friends.
And thirdly, I’m writing this from Scotland (or more specifically here) where I have now come to spend a very extended holiday/dissertation writing break. As I write this I can hear a whole chorus of seagulls: the view from the window looks almost exactly like an illustration from a Famous Five book.
Saturday mornings are for all the best things in life. Mornings which don’t start with the alarm clock ringing at 7 am. Long, lazy breakfasts, ideally involving something like blueberry pancakes or hot chocolate. Reading the Saturday papers (so much better than the Sunday papers) and doing the crosswords. Mooching to the shop and buying something frivolous like flowers or cake. Having more cups of tea than is strictly necessary. Listening to the radio while you float around the house, polishing things and thinking about stopping for a ginger biscuit or two, while you contemplate what you might do later on in the afternoon or in the evening – usually something cheering involving going somewhere and seeing friends.
And there are the traces of the excited feeling of childhood Saturdays too – the Saturdays which involved things like riding round the village on my bike (a turquoise Raleigh Bianca), penny sweets in a paper bag, ballet classes and going to the bookstall on the market and spending all my pocket money on paperbacks. Most of all, the lovely sense of possibility. After all, it’s still only Saturday morning. There’s still all of Saturday afternoon and evening, not to mention all of Sunday still to come.
Today I am recovering from a super-busy week I am catching up on domestic things (the War of the Green Taps continues), reading the paper, re-reading The Weather in the Streets by Rosamund Lehman, drinking cinnamon tea, knitting and resolutely ignoring the university work I am supposed to be doing. I am listening to a bit of Radio 4 or, when it annoys me (and/or Any Answers? is on) Radio 3. I am looking forward to going round to my friends’ house for dinner later on.
And in between all of that, I’m just doing absolutely nothing. Except maybe breathing. And sipping my tea. And watching the birds out of the window. It’s very, very good.
My plans for daily December loveliness haven’t worked out so well this week. Perhaps that’s just because it hasn’t been a particularly lovely week: I seem to have spent most of it working, or sitting on the bus, or being tired, or walking round town on a fruitless quest for Christmas presents, getting periodically bashed by people with armfuls of Primark bags in remorseless pursuit of the nearest bargain bin, all set to the tune of hyped-up electro Christmas carols.
Bah humbug indeed.
I feel the need to catch up a bit on the ‘loveliness’ front. Today has been a lot lovelier so far, in spite of the greyness and the rain: it’s Saturday, and I’ve just come back from a nice pub lunch, and now I’m sitting under two blankets because the house is cold, and am contemplating lighting the fire and making a cup of cocoa.
First though, here’s some rapid-fire ‘good things’ to make up for some of the ground I’ve lost through general apathy this week:
I quite like this new blog. It’s full of useful advice and eyeopening insights, mostly in capital letters.
The excellent artyarn will be launching their Shed Jumper project next week. Working with the local community, they have knitted a jumper for a shed! Check it out at the Pool Arts SHED Gallery, Tonbridge Road Allotments in Levenshulme from Thursday.
Academy:academy is a new blog and a very useful online resource, with links to ‘free material of educational value’ on the web. Go there to check out lectures, interviews, artists film and video and tons of other interesting stuff.
I like this new blog too. It doesn’t have a lot of posts yet, but I have a good feeling about it.
The Manchester Craft Mafia Christmas market is taking place at the Whitworth today and tomorrow. Go there for everything from paper shoes to cuddly robots. Check out the information here.
A new exhibition at FACT opened this week called DING>>D0NG (very appropriately seasonal) which I’m looking forward to seeing when I’m next in Liverpool. The exhibition ‘closes FACT’s 2008 programme with bleeps, bangs and electronic noise’ and features new work by Andy McCluskey, Peter Saville, Hambi Haralambous and The Fragmented Orchestra.
And just for a little variety:
I stumbled on this blog quite recently. It is called ‘Sea of Shoes’ (a good name) and it is penned by a young lady called Jane, who lives in Texas and is 16 years old. Although I can see that her taste might not be everyone’s cup of tea (I thought these Martin Margiela ‘sandal booties’ were fabulous but my boyfriend thought they were horrendous) I can’t help feeling deeply impressed that any 16-year old has such a strong sense of personal style, especially when I look back at the kind of things I was wearing at 16 (we won’t go into details, but in retrospect, it was Not Good). To be fair to me though, Dries van Noten and Balenciaga were a little out of my price-range, and not really readily available in Lancaster town centre!
Right, that’s enough for one day – now it’s cocoa time…