Sunday, June 26, 2011

Those hazy days of summer

Well, summer is here apparently for all of about twenty four hours. So enjoy it while you can. What's your favourite memory of summer? Is there a summer you'll never forget? Was it when you first fell in love or went on a special holiday?

I don't have one specific memory that's a lot better than others, but rather a collection of childhood/teenage images like a slide show of memories: playing by the river with my dog; making dens up the mountain, swinging on a tyre swing attached to a huge tree; paddling in the sea; going to the swimming pool and coming out with wet hair, towel rolled under my arm and queuing in the sweet shop around the corner; playing in the local park; going on Sunday school outings; lying in the garden for hours trying to swot up for my O'levels slathered in lashings of Ambre Solaire oil; getting ready for a night out at the local disco being proud of my new tan!

I'm sure you can think of a slide show of summer memories too. So what are they?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

John Sullivan: A Legend

There's an interesting interview with John Sullivan, the creator of Only Fools and Horses, in July's edition of Writing Magazine. He had no formal training yet, he was able to tell a great yarn. Upon hearing of the scriptwriter's death in April, David Jason said:

"We’ve lost our ­country’s greatest comedy writer, but he leaves a great legacy – the gift of laughter."

What I loved about him was that he mixed comedy with tragedy. He had the ability to make you laugh one moment and almost cry the next. Like the episode where Rodney gets married and Del is left alone at the reception as the song, 'Holding Back the Years' plays. Gives me a lump in my throat every time I watch that.

He came from humble beginnings, leaving school at 15 and after a series of jobs, worked as a scene shifter. It was from there he became inspired to write for TV. He did his training on the job as it were. He purchased an ancient typewriter for £2.00 and spent the next two months with his friend working on a sitcom.

They received a rejection from the BBC, which put his friend off but Sullivan carried on writing and submitting and the rest is history.

Makes me wonder how many writers have been put off by rejection when if they'd had the motivation and passion John Sullivan had, the drive to push forward, they could have been writing legends!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happiness is a Swedish Sunset

** I wrote this at my writing group this afternoon and thought I'd share it with you.**

I’ll never forget the summer I went to Sweden at the age of seventeen. I had been penfriends with Anna for about four years and she had already stayed at my home the previous summer. She’d thought the rows of terraced houses in the Welsh Valleys were tiny and was amused with how my family ate chips most days of the week.

Looking back on it, I can’t believe I was brave enough at that tender age to take a flight for the very first time to a strange country and from Heathrow Airport of all places!

Upon my return, my father told me that he couldn’t get over how I just walked off to the terminal gate without even turning around to say ‘Goodbye’ to any of my family. My mind must have been set on going off on an adventure.

I ended up taking a window seat inside the Boeing 707 seated next to two business men. I even remember asking them if I had to pay when the stewardess turned up with the tea and coffee trolley.

At one point during the journey, I thought the wing was about to fall off as the flap rose.

The main thing that hit me as we circled to land in Gothenburg Airport was the amount of trees and lakes. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.

Unfortunately, by then I had severe earache and felt nauseous. What didn’t help matters was, as I waited at the luggage carousel, eventually the crowd drifted away having retrieved their cases, and there was only one remaining. It looked like mine, but it wasn’t.

I was met by Anna and her family as I struggled to fight back the tears, explaining that I felt sick and my suitcase had gone off on its own journey some place else. Thankfully, Anna’s German Step-father, Harald, took control of the situation. He discovered my suitcase was in Tel Aviv and I’d have to wait another 24 hours for its return.

Anna’s home was fantastic. The family lived upstairs and slept downstairs. It was much bigger than our terraced home. Also, back in those days it seemed unusual for families to have two cars which a lot in that area seemed to have. Not only two cars, but also two houses. Their main house and their smaller summer house in the woods.

I witnessed my first Swedish sunset from the balcony that evening, reminding me of a quote by the author, Mark Twain: “Happiness is a Swedish sunset; it is there for all, but most of us look the other way and lose it” A Swedish sunset is thought to be the most beautiful sunset in the world. I can well believe it.

I spent a fortnight at Anna’s home and met her friends. We partied and picnicked and had such fun.

I saw wild elk in the woods, went to a crayfish and vodka party, visited the fair at Gothenburg, the Match Factory in Jonkoping, the second largest lake in Sweden, Lake Vettern, which is sixty five miles long and has an island with a giant in the middle of it. One of Anna’s friends, Annelei presented me with a miniature giant her father had carved for me. I had a ball that summer.

I was sad when it was time to leave a beautiful country where the sunset was pure poetry.

Friday, June 03, 2011

If You Could See What I Can See When I'm Cleaning Windows

Sometimes life knocks us off course. We are coasting along nicely, the horizon clear, only to be confronted with something that happens 'seemingly' out of the blue, creating a huge tidal wave. However, often it's not what happens to us at the time that causes the problem, but how we deal with it.

Making waves can be good. They shake us up by forcing us off our feet, pushing us into a period of transition. Change can be a positive thing, and although we might not think so at the time, if we look back on some of the big things that happened to us in life, those changes, even if they were enforced on us, were often for our own good.

During my own life, this has happened to me several times. At that moment the 'tidal wave' was upsetting, devastating, even. Yet, retrospectively, I can honestly say, I'm glad those things happened. The events shook me right out of my comfort zone but forced me to face up to reality.

We're all capable of becoming deluded.

We have blind spots to certain people and particular situations that aren't good for us. It wasn't until I studied 'The Johari Window' that I even knew those blind spots existed. I believe, it's because we don't always recognise the blind spots that cause the problems in the first place.

How often have we trusted someone only to think they were 'behaving out of character' when they did something that hurt us? The truth of the matter though, is the person concerned is more likely to have been behaving very much 'in character', and we simply haven't recognised it because we have a blind spot in that area.

And don't we feel foolish when we realise how shielded we've been behind 'rose-tinted spectacles'? Especially, when someone informs us, "Didn't you already know that?"

The truth was we didn't, or rather didn't want to recognise what was right before our eyes.

Sometimes we are our own worse enemies. We need to keep our metaphorical windows clean: the open, the closed and the hidden, because if we don't, we are going to get knocked off our feet one way or another!