Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why do things always have to be so difficult?

I go out with my daughter,Leyna, this morning to help her sort things out ready for her well deserved holiday with friends to Spain on the weekend. She wants to withdraw £650.00 from her building society account. She hardly ever uses this account, so we are surprised when the clerk tells her she can only take out £100.00 today.

Leyna says, "Well how come I was allowed to take out £500.00 a couple of years ago?"

To which the lady replies, "We've changed our policy since then."

I say, "But she needs the money today to get it converted into Spanish currency for her holiday."

The clerk says the best she can come up with is to pay Leyna a cheque for the full amount and then I will have to pay this into my bank account and give her the money myself.

Leyna says, "But I'm eighteen why can't I have the money?"

To which the clerk replies, "Because this is classed a child's account, you will have to change it."

How frustrating. So we accept the cheque and trot off to the bank. I write a paying in slip for the cheque and hand it to the teller. I say, "I'd like to pay in this cheque for £650.00. I have enough money in the account to cover it.

"To which the teller replies, "Do you have any identification on you as I don't know you?"

I reply, "Yes, all my bank cards.""No good."Double frustration.

She carries on, "Would anyone else in here know you?"

As luck would have it, I recognise a teller from the foreign desk who has cashed American cheques for me in the past, although it was a long time ago I remember a conversation we had about writing. She had seemed impressed that I was earning money for it.

"Do you recognise me?" I ask in frustration. "I'm the writer who used to pay cheques into you."

She screws up her eyes and I almost scream at the thought of getting no where. But wait a minute, there is a flicker of recognition.

"Yes, I do recognise you," she smiles. "I remember you told me about that website for my writer friend. She writes short stories." Then she launches into my favourite subject whilst the teller who was serving me doles outs 650 big ones. Success at last. We take the money to the travel agency and convert it into euros and travellers cheques. Leyna and I are happy.

* * *

This afternoon, I notice Milly the sheepdog has gone missing. Nathan has left the front door open. I can see her across the road, but she doesn't respond to my calls. When she finally returns she is covered in cow dung. Why do dogs always roll in that stuff?Now I have to wash her with the hosepipe and shampoo, something she hates.

She gets her own back though, by shaking herself all over me. Then, when I remove her collar [she has been tethered to the tap by her lead and collar] as I need to clean it, she makes a run for it again. I worry that maybe she has gone to rub in the yucky stuff again, but luckily she turns up later still clean. I on the other hand, have had to wash myself down and change my clothing!

It's one of those days!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Why does this always happen?

I've been waking up early most mornings of late, around 5:00 am ish and sometimes have difficulty getting back to sleep. Anyhow, that happened this morning [I think it may be due to the strong sunshine we have been getting here lately as well as my circadian rhythm]It took me ages to get back to sleep, well over an hour later and I knew I had to get up to see the kids off to school at 7:00!

Anyhow, during the short amount of time that I fell back to sleep my dream was very vivid. I was up in Pant near to wear I work and about to share a meal with one of my colleagues and her husband. We had already eaten the main course and now it was time for dessert. Someone handed me a half carton of some gorgeous ice cream rather like the one we had for dessert yesterday following our Sunday lunch. In the dream I could really taste the ice cream, I was really experiencing the moment. Then, it dawned on me that maybe not every at the dinner party had had their share of the ice cream. I felt like a glutton. At that moment I woke up it was around 6:50 -- so almost time to get up.

Have you ever had a dream where you were enjoying the experience so much that you didn't want it to stop? That has happened to me several times particularly when I am in that sort of state, i.e. overly tired. One of my first thoughts is, 'Never mind I can go to bed later when I come home from work/shopping/etc', only I never do. The moment has gone for good.

All I can think that makes any sense at all to me is that perhaps it is a different quality of sleep I experience when I first fall asleep, particularly when it is for a short space of time. It is said that we dream several times a night rather as if we are watching a few short movies [like at the old ABC Minors!] So no wonder I needed that ice cream, maybe next time there'll be popcorn too!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A great day to be alive!

I have to admit that the weather has been so lovely over here for the past few days that it makes me glad to be alive. Not that every day isn't valuble mind you, but when the weather is warm and summer is in full bloom it gives me a different perspective on life. I have heard that the weather will change again soon, so no doubt when the Glastonbury Festival starts tomorrow, it will be rainy as usual. I hope not though. We are used to seeing revellers up to their knees in mud so it would be nice if for the very last festival the crowd and performers had good weather. Apparently, the man who has been organising it since he bought the land in 1970 says it's time to give the neigbours some peace. I'm looking forward to seeing television coverage of the event over the weekend and will particularly be on the look out for the group, Alabama 3, who composed and sang the theme tune to the Sopranos.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wishful Writers

If I had a pound coin for everyone who ever said to me, "I've always wanted to write a book..." I'd be a rich woman. Why is it the world and his wife think they can write? Not just write, but craft a novel before they have even written anything at all, they've not even kept a journal or attempted a short story. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not a snob. I'm not one of those people who thinks that writers have to use flowerly terms and unusual words that others don't understand. Au contraire, that means on the contrary :) It's just that writing often isn't taken seriously by non writers. They just don't get it. I mean if they met a doctor they would hardly say to him: "I've always fancied being a doctor and would love to be able to perform major surgery!" because that person knows that unless they undertake X number of years training, they will not have the skills required.

I don't mind helping new writers but once in a while someone will contact me claiming they want to be a writer and then will try to pick the hell out of my brains. I will answer their questions to the best of my ability but when they bombard me with questions I start to think, "Why don't you take a writing course if you don't understand anything at all about writing?" I have suggested this and gone out of my way to provide links to help them. I wasn't born with a pen in my hand, if I had been my mother wouldn't have been very pleased! Okay, I had a flair for writing, my stories were often read out by the teacher, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It wasn't until a few years back that I started to take my writing seriously by joining a local writing group and online ones too, read books about the craft of writing, crafting my first proper short story and article and most importantly of all, getting it out there into the big, bad world. I've had some success, I've also had my fair share of failure, but I never thought I had to get someone to do my thinking or my writing for me, like some writers do.

Yet, these self same writers who claim they badly want to write, never even get started. I had one online friend who told me she wanted to write children's books as that was her dream. I asked her if she had ever written anything. "No," she replied, "I don't know how to go about it." I managed to get her enrolled on an online writing course I was taking, which cost her nothing. A couple of weeks later I asked her how she was getting on with her assignments [these were only small writing exercises]. Oh, I haven't been able to do them as I just don't have the time!" she replied. Now this same woman spent hours upon hours chatting on MSN Messenger. Did she really want to be a writer of children's books? I don't think so. I would pigeon-hole her in the category of, 'I've always wanted to write a book..."

Next time someone tells me that I'm going to say, 'What's stopping you then?" Chances are they will never even get started.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A chilled-out evening

I had a lovely afternoon/evening yesterday. It was a beautiful summer's day here in Wales, apparently hotter than in Miami! The cancer charity I work for ran a trip to see Miss Saigon at the new Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Down at Cardiff Bay it was truly like walking around the Med, so chilled out with people of all ethnic minorities chatting outside cafes, yachts bobbing about on the water and just a good feeling all around. My boss, Tracey, said jokingly it would be lovely to move our office to the Bay because of the scenery and ambiance of the place, but I know that we appreciate it more because it's not something we see and do every day.

Karen, Tracey, Sharon and myself found a restaurant overlooking the Bay for a meal. We ordered the chicken in red wine with mashed potatoes and 'a selection of vegetables'. We all sat mouths wide open when the waitress brought our order. The chicken breast was plonked on top of the mash potato, swimming in red wine with sliced courgettes placed preciously like the numerals of a clock all the way around the plate. Call me old fashioned, okay, I'm old fashioned, but I prefer my food served up in little separate piles unless it's supposed to be mixed, like good old spag bol! I think some of these chefs are taking nouvelle cuisine too far, don't you.
The food was edible, but not wonderful and I think I could have easily made it myself if I had whipped up some instant Cadbury's Smash, shoved a piece of chicken on top and sloshed a bottle of red wine all over.

We ordered coffees afterwards which never arrived, so we cancelled them and didn't give a tip, to which the waitress asked politely, "Was everything all right?" "No," replied my manager, "the food wasn't what we expected and the coffees never showed up, we didn't think too much about the service either!"

Afterwards we went into a bar where we chatted to some men from Jamaica. They were colourful characters who teased the life out of us. Karen was convinced that they were in this country playing some sort of sport like basketball, in other words representing their country, until I told her that one of them had been living in Cardiff for the past 15 years.

I was very impressed with The Millennium Centre, it was a huge, classy sort of building. I was relieved at half time of Miss Saigon, that the others expressed what they had been thinking, they just didn't get it, didn't understand the plot. I told them it definitely wasn't my bag either. Someone explained the plot to us while we were drinking our wine during the interval, that made a lot of difference as I found the second half much better. I wouldn't go to see it again. I didn't understand why people were crying either, it just didn't move me at all. Now if they had put The Sopranos on stage I would have been in my element...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Death seems to make us re-evaluate our lives

Death seems to make us re-evaluate our lives. Since my daughter's friend, Carly, died so tragically, in a car crash just over a week ago, I think it's got some of us thinking more and more about how fragile life really is and how we sweat the small stuff too much.

For instance, Leyna, asked me to pick up some odds and ends for her holiday in July to Magaluf, she didn't have the heart to go herself as she is still in the middle of her studies for her A Levels and in the aftermath of the sad news as she was so close to Carly.

Carly was due to go on this holiday with Leyna and a few other girls who would have been celebrating the fact their exams were over. She had a bright future and would have gone to Bristol University in October. She wanted to be an accountant.

Carly, like a lot of the other girls had taken a part-time job to save money for this holiday. She hadn't spent any of it, just wanted to save so she could have a great time on holiday. Now that isn't going to happen. So when I came home from shopping and gave Leyna some of the items I had bought for her, she tried the clothes on: shorts, t-shirts, etc. "I'm going to wear this right now", she said to me, sporting a turquoise t-shirt that I could well imagine will be one of her favourites on holiday, worn with a golden tan. "Why don't you keep it for the holiday?" I suggested. This is what I am prone to do myself with new clothes, keeping them for best. "No, after what happened to Carly, I'm wearing this now when I go out," she firmly replied.

Was her attitude right? I think it was. My own grandmother kept so many things for best. She came from that generation who saved up for a rainy day. She lived through the war years after all. But it was sad that when she died she had left behind so many things that were never used, still in packaging. Scent that would definitely have gone off with age, for instance. To me, that is an even bigger waste.

We need to make the most of what we have right now not wait for sometime in the future for things to happen to us, chances are they won't. My grandmother never had that bungalow by the sea she always dreamed of. It wasn't that she didn't have the money to buy it either. I believe we shouldn't wait for things to fall into our laps, or wait until the time is right, the time may never be right. We may not have the time if our lives are cruelly taken away from us like Carly's was.If you are putting off something, ask yourself why and what would happen if somehow you knew you only had a year left to live? Would you do it? Would you do it right now?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Sad Weekend

On Friday I attended a Grief and Loss course at Alt -Yr-Yn College, Newport with my manager from work, Tracey. We had a pretty good day even though it's a heavy topic. Unfortunately, I found out on Saturday morning that one of Leyna's best friends was killed in a car accident, near the Storey Arms, Brecon.

The other four teenagers in the car survived and we don't really know as yet why Carly died. The only thing that might make any kind of sense we think is that she was at the back of the car, in the middle wearing the lap seat belt.

I feel so sad for her parents and younger brother and for all her friends and other family members. Leyna was devasted. She was in a state of shock and so was Scott, Leyna's boyfriend. Leyna was due to go into her Saturday job, but I phoned the store to explain why she couldn't come in. Scott came out of his Saturday job to be with her most of the day. She drank lots of tea, but it was about 5:30 before she even attempted to eat anything at all.

She didn't get to sleep until about 2:30. She brought her quilt downstairs and I stayed with her and woke her a bit later for her to go to bed.

I don't know what sort of affect it will have on all Carly's school colleagues as they are currently in the middle of their A Level Exams. I hope the examining board and the school will make allowances for this.

Carly's death has reminded me of the fragility of life. The last time I felt like this was September the 11th, 2001.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Family Reunion

Today I went out for a meal with my mother, father and brother Alvin for Alvin's 43rd birthday. I haven't seen my father to talk to properly for a couple of years. The meal was my idea and even my idea to invite my father. It went very well. My mother and I bought Alvin a joint present of a DVD player and a couple of DVD's: The Battle of Britain, Airplane and one other I can't recall now as we looked at so many.

It was strange that although I thought things might have been strained between me and my father they weren't. He had upset me about 4 years back, so I hadn't gone out of my way to maintain contact with him. One of the things I was upset about was because he told me he had stopped mail getting through to me from a boy I met on holiday when I was almost 19. I couldn't believe he had done that. It made me wonder how things might have turned out if I had got those letters. Funnily enough, a year or so before his admission I had written a short story on a similar topic.

My parents haven't really bothered with one another for years since their divorce, so Alvin is the common denominator in all of this. We usually hear news about my father via him and vice versa.

Today was nice. I wanted it to be that way for Alvin's sake. The last time the four of us sat around a table like that was probably 10 years ago.

Life's too short.

Don't get me wrong, I can never see me and my father being close as a lot of it is in his hands, it takes two to make a relationship, but at least things can be amicable now when I see him again.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

This time of the year

This time of the year, I feel tired, yet I accomplish more, it that makes sense? The days are longer and the shorter days seem a long way off. You see, I am one of those people who suffers with SAD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder. As September draws near I have to take some action, last year I tried a light box for the first time, which worked quite well. Before that I had used St. John's Wort quite effectively, but had been put off by the scare stories surrounding the natural herbal tablet. When the sun is shining like it has been today, I feel much happier in myself, although I can still be prone to the odd mood swing.

This time of the year, I see my neighbours to talk to much more often. Where does everyone go to winter? Do we all hibernate? That time of the year you can go ages without seeing people to talk to in the street. I'm not saying I never see them, I see them going out and coming in, but not standing around to talk like they do in the summer.

January 2005, seems a long time ago now.

I started off the year by setting some goals for myself which I have achieved, so now I need to set some more as we are half way through the year.

1. Finish writing my novel, THE HONEYTRAP MISTRESS

2. Submit short story to Woman's Weekly magazine

3. Revise and edit novella and submit to Kensington Brava

4. Get more sleep

5. Lost some weight

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Cycle of Life

Walking the dogs today, I became very much aware of the cycle of life. As I stood gazing down at the village, it's 10 years since I returned to my home town, how much has changed... The old village school the children attended is now derelict. It's the same school that the International singer, Petula Clark, attended when she was evacuated as child from London. The same school my Uncle Gerwyn went to. In fact, I think I'm right in saying they were the same age. Gerwyn died some years back. The poor man had a double amputation at tender age of 21 in a train accident. He was working on the track when a train ran over his legs, but that's another story.

The new school has been replaced by a much bigger, purpose built one. I haven't been inside it, it's in a different location down at the park near the River Taff. I expect it's nice but I doubt it has much character like the old one did.

As I closed my eyes I became aware of the sounds around me: the rustle of the wind through the leaves of the trees, the warble and tweetering of the birds, only marred by the distant'thrum' of the traffic behind me. What used to be a lovely bridleway and walk is now replaced by the A470 road. Are we really going the right way if all we are doing is creating more roads, more cars and more traffic? Instead, I believe the government should invest in more and better public transport. Where I live in Abercanaid, you can't get a bus after 6.15 pm. What good is that?

But I digress, looking up Northwards I saw the peaks of The Brecon Beacons:

Beauty among the weeds, as my online friend, Bea Sheftel might have described them. There is so much beauty on my doorstep, but sometimes it gets lost in amongst the industrial side of the town of Merthyr Tydfil.

Still looking north was my old school, Cyfarthfa Castle. A home that was built for the Crawshay dynasty, the iron masters in 1825. How many children can boast they went to a school in a castle! Not only that, but it once belonged to one of the most powerful families for miles around in the days when Merthyr was at the heart of the industrial revolution, supplying iron all over the world. For goodness sake, I live yards from the old Glamorganshire canal that was purposely built to transport the stuff. Yet, I fear most people see these things everyday but are oblivious to them.

Below a panoramic view of the castle:

Postcards and pictures of the canal:

Two butterflies with matching peach coloured wings fluttered by. How long do butterflies live for? I thought it was just one day, but it maybe three. Imagine if you just had a day to live, wouldn't you want to absorb all around you? Wouldn't your senses sharpen up? It's often said that out of all the senses hearing is the last one to go. When I was a student nurse, I remember being warned by Sister to be careful whilst talking over a comatose patient who was ready to die. So if it's one of the last senses to go...then I wonder if it's one of our first senses to evolve when we are born? I suppose other senses kick in as well, but it's certainly more developed at birth than sight, when a baby's eyes are said to be unfocussed.

On my way home a furry caterpillar crossed my path, reminding me of the butterflies I had earlier seen. What a transformation. It seemed to sum up the cycle of life for me...

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I was thinking just yesterday when I bumped into an old friend, what a curious thing friendship is. I mean, how is it we can be so close to certain people that we share secrets, ups as well as downs and then something happens to get in the way and we are no longer so friendly anymore. It's not that we have fallen out with certain people, it's just that for a time in our lives our paths crossed and now they no longer do so.

The friend I saw yesterday, I have known since school days, then we went nursing together. Sometimes we worked on the same wards, where she was frequently in trouble for turning up late, or her uniform was not regulation. She was the chief bridesmaid when I got married 21 years ago and now although, we live in the same town we have drifted apart.

Even when the children were young and I lived in another town, we still kept in touch for the odd night out or childrens' party.

So what makes friends drift apart, I wonder?

I think my hubby hit the nail on the head when we were talking about school reunions that seem so popular these days: "You can't go back," he said. "What it amounts to it that you had something in COMMON with these people at one time and now you no longer do."

He's quite right of course. But I have proved one exception to the rule. I have a friend, Zoe, who I was in school with and later we used to socialise with one another. Then we lost touch, she had a controlling boyfriend, who wouldn't even allow her to attend my wedding. Years later, when she had finally dumped the man who abused her physically, emotionally and verbally, we made contact again. Quite by accident. I had moved back to my home town and worked in a local shoe shop. Her mother came in and told me that Zoe was back living in Merthyr too and now she was living with someone and had two lovely children.

I made contact and it was like we had never been apart from one another.

Nowadays, she has moved away but comes back home from time to time and we have the odd night out together or go for a meal at lunch time. It's nice.

Why our friendship has endured whilst others have fallen by the wayside I have no idea. The only thing that I can think of is that we both seem to be the same sorts of characters we were when we were seventeen. There's no pretence or trying to out do one another. We're comfortable with one another and share the same sort of sense of humour.

I think the Beatles put it well in one of their songs:

In My Life

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall,
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I’ve loved them all.
But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compared with you,
And these mem’ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more.
In my life I love you more.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

This is me Posted by Hello

Procrastinator Extraordinaire

I didn't think I was one -- a procrastinator, I mean. I was always one of those people who dealt with things quite quickly. You know, the child at school who always got her homework in on time, the person who is for ever punctual. Deal with things, then move on.

So what happened to me?

Nowadays, I open appointment cards and letters and leave them to fester on the mantlepiece behind the china angel for weeks if not months, causing me to miss important appointments. I'll give you an example, I did just that before last Christmas. I had finally plucked up courage to go to the dentist again after XX number of years and had received all my sessions but needed to go back for a check up. Did I go? No. Because the appointment card was filed away behind the angel again. It was only a couple of weeks ago, in May [almost 6 months later] that I received a letter from the dentist saying if I didn't contact them I would be taken off their register. It was a final wake up call for me. I got my butt into action and phoned them to make an appointment. Now I'm safely still on the register.

But why do I keep needing a final prod? I never used to be that way.

Right now I'm procrastinating. I'm supposed to be getting ready to go shopping with my mother. I should have run the bath water by now, but anything to put off getting going. What will probably happen is that I will have another cup of tea, jump in the shower instead to save myself time and be stressed up to the eyeballs to get ready in time.

Why do I do this to myself?