Repeating numbers

Every now again, I have these times where I’m really aware of the frequency and consistency my attention is drawn to repeating numbers. I’ll notice this most when I’m checking the time; it will be 14:14 on the clock, but then the next time I get a chance to look it will be 14:41, and then 15:15….

This pattern will also be on the time stamps of messages, on signs, on things I get through the post, on buses that drive past! And it’s not even here and there either, it will literally be one thing after another!

So weird.

If you Google the phenomenon, apparently it could be the universe trying to tell me something, or I’m on the cusp of an auspicious event. That would be nice. I haven’t particularly got my belief system nailed down yet, but I think it pays to be open minded about things, just in case. I mean, it would be sad to dismiss something just because you don’t understand it, or it doesn’t make sense, because then you could be missing out.

So universe, do what you will…but, seriously, how long did it take some product designer to come up with a container that holds exactly 888ml of washing liquid?

Springy things

If I was running a GP practice, I would set aside a reasonable budget for growbags, seeds and bulbs for my patients, because they are quite literally the equivalent of health insurance. I really don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t feel just a tad bouncy if they planted something and ‘ta da’, up pops something stunning, and living, and good for everyone and everything, and it’s really easy to do!?

These bobby dazzlers are out and making my bay window border a bit spesh, and I’ve got some irises and snowdrops on the way by the looks of things. Yay!

I’m getting a bit preachy, but the joy of writing to yourself is no one cares, and you don’t have to watch as the ‘real people’ glaze over. Genius.

Simon and Garfunkel

A generation apart, mi’ Mum and I both got to re-live the same period of our youth, simultaneously, whilst watching the same band. Would that be something paradoxical? I don’t know if that’s right, but it was cool anyway.

Growing up we only had two tapes in our car, ‘The Animals’ which was Dad’s jam, and Mum’s ageing copy of ‘The definitive Simon and Garfunkel’ which never had a case. The equitable nature of my parent’s marriage meant that Simon and Garfunkel was essentially the soundtrack of my youth, and certainly linked to every childhood memory I have of family holidays, sat in the back of Dad’s red Citreon BX, eating something Mum had packed for us in tin foil, trying not to touch the actual food having had to stop at another one of France’s unfathomable roadside long-drop loos, and trying to revive one’s nostrils afterwards by squirting coconut Soltan on them.

Good times.

Anyway, so I bought Mum tickets to see ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’ for Christmas because, well, it’s part of our history, and it was everything I hoped it would be – all the classics, top band with cracking blokes as ‘Arty’ and Paul, and the whole back story of how the duo came to be. Mum re-lived the music from the first time round, and I got the chance to get down with my bad ’60s self in a slightly ‘recycled’ kind of a way…

Unexpectedly, it also reawakened my occasionally reoccurring ‘militant repressed hippy’ tendency. I get this every once in a while when I slip into my philosophical ‘what’s this all about’ mode. I found myself saying things like ‘this was real music, about things that actually mattered’ and ‘music these days just doesn’t bring people together like it used to’, to random strangers in the ice cream queue. Which is pretty embarrassing. It probably isn’t that true either, my musical knowledge doesn’t greatly extend beyond ‘The wheels on the bus’ anymore, and I had had a couple of large glasses of wine by this point, but still – I was feeling it, and kinda stand by it.

I do however also have a bit of a romance with the 60’s and 70’s. It felt like lots was changing in the world, and that most people had a view about that – which I greatly respect, and everything seemed culturally less ego-centric, and more of the music was about ‘something’, and lyrics were heartbreakingly poetic, and didn’t rhyme with ‘booty’, and critically, ‘Adele’ hadn’t been dumped yet.

It was a classic night anyway, in the company of my lovely Mum, the show was fantastic, if you get the chance to, go see it, it will knock your socks off!

Ducks and mistakes

Do you ever buy someone else a present, for yourself? I do. I love these ducks.

Also loving Netflix. Of the TV I watch now, very little is live. The Netflix accounts in our house are markedly gender specific. You go into Neil’s and all the fonts are black and red and the programmes are called ‘Narcos’ or ‘Last Man Standing’, and mine are all pink and purple with happy looking people getting married, going shopping, or if the programme is worth my attention, both. I happily admit I love the bubble of crap TV.

I also have a certain fondness for the wildcard selection you get down at the bottom, and every now and then I choose anything without looking at the title or the description. This has mixed results, but occasionally you get the odd gem, and tonight I got one of those. It was mega cheesy (so totally my bag), about a woman who was trying to write her obituary before she died. She was a horrible woman, but with a good taste in music – she thought ‘The Kinks’ were one of the most underrated bands of all time – my Dad would agree. There was one line in the whole thing that particularly appealed; ‘you don’t make mistakes, mistakes make you’. I like that. I was once told ‘if you can’t change something, change how you think about it’, and that feels of a similar ilk. It’s about reframing.

Wow, and on that profound and cheesy note, fitting to my Netflix algorithm, it’s time for bed.

Still January

I am so aware of vanity, and I find it uncomfortable and cringeworthy (like many of the blogs I’ve written). I’ve stopped being ‘present’ on other social media for this very reason – I understand that no one really cares that I have visited the cinema (other than the person I was with, they could still use a lift home), and when I am lucky enough to do really, really fun stuff, I feel uneasy about what motivates me to present these as ‘ta da’ moments.

Watching ‘Snowden’ recently was also a bit of an eye opener. And then there is the small person to think about. A private person in her nature, she was rather freaked out when someone unknown to her (but my Facebook friend) asked her about a trip we’d been on. “How did she know I did that Mummy? It was just us”.

 Yes, it was.

So here I am, blogging. 

It’s a dilemma because I love writing, even if it’s entire nonsense. It’s my happy place. 

The desire to share this nonsense I have decided comes from the satisfaction of seeing something concrete ‘here’. It feels like a job done, an achievement. The days when life is consumed by washing and ironing, and wiping that manky bit behind the bin, it feels good to have made, not just maintained, something. 

So this is me trying to justify this weird blog. I don’t think it’s a showing off thing, and will hopefully be the most respectfully, least vainly written nonsense I can muster. Ish. With some possible exceptions. Like ‘Kilted Yoga’ book gifts.

Happy things (for personal, future reference):

1. Kilted Yoga.

2. Pretty umbrellas.

3. The ‘Cruel Intentions’ soundtrack and feeling 18 again.

January

Always a bit of a bleak month, but now softened with the build-up, excitement and organisation of the small one’s birthday celebrations. This 5th year involves wrangling the hundred pieces that will arrive as a cabin bed kit, alan key; weapon of choice. 

Bleak is actually a grower. The normal tromp around ‘my field’ and Sulham has inspired new loves in its naked form. And as I have little doubt what I write is a conversation with myself now, here, I can indulge my latest obsession with lichen, guilt free! It’s beautiful, and useful, and prolific, and it can tell you about what’s going on in the air, and you can eat some of it, and it doesn’t even give up when it doesn’t get much action. 

It’s like the Jennifer Aniston of fungus. 

Can’t quite believe I’m typing this. 

Started doing ‘happy things’ to be listed in groups of three at bath time. I’m bringing them here:

1. It has been outrageously sunny

2. I went on an walk with Foundation class, and one of the children’s ‘observations of winter’ was that a dog turd had frozen over.

3. Dawn French as an author.

A machine at the library made me sad

I love our local library.

Granted, it’s not the most attractive of buildings, but it is light and bright inside, has a great children’s section with a magnificent elephant rug, and smells glorious. You know, that smell of old books. A bit like petrol flavoured sawdust – that smell.

So, anyway, I have visited this same monument to papery loveliness since I was born, and I adore the fact that absolutely nothing has changed. Nothing. Except I think they have got a new computer, and perhaps a new easy chair, and there is now a carpet covering the crazy mosiac tiles in the entrance lobby…but otherwise time has stood still, and that is just how I like it. I like that there is a ritual to doing things, I like that that children are still made to ‘shhhh’, and that Kate reinforces this if I speak too loudly. I really like the staff at the library, that you can chat about the books you are taking back, or discuss where you have got to in the books you renew. I love the ‘stampy-stamp’ sound of the stamper, and weirdly feel a real honour when they have to glue in a new stampy page at the front of the book because the other one is full up, and you are the first person to have a stamp on this fresh white beauty.

Lush.

But then ‘The Machine’ arrived.

It’s a self-service machine. You pile your books up in a little box, and it scans them, and checks them in or out, or renews them, and there is a credit card and coin slot in case you have accrued a fine, and then it prints you out a receipt to confirm all or any of the above. But there is no stampy-stamp sound, no discussion of what is a ‘great read’ if you like ‘such and such’ as an author, Kate doesn’t get a star on her children’s book card. You don’t have to interact with any human being at all now to visit the library.

And that made me sad.

Thinking about it in a greater context made me even sadder. Modern technology allows us to save money, and undoubtedly increases convenience, but it is doing away with human interaction in so many ways.

There was a tale I heard recently of an elderly person who used to visit her local supermarket every day to buy some essentials. She would wait patiently until all other customers had been served so she could then stop and have a chat with the staff with whom, over this time, she had struck up a relationship with. It was only when she died, did a relative pop in to thank the staff at the supermarket for preventing this lady from becoming isolated and lonely. They were the only human interaction she would often get in a day. Great then, that there was another option to the ‘self-checkout’ (a term which now sort of lends itself a alternative meaning).

This, and ‘that Machine’ at the library has made me reappraise how I interact with people, particularly those closest to me. I am now aware of how long I spend looking down at a screen, how I ‘follow’ people I barely know, spend a healthy amount of time looking at the pictures of their new kitchen, when I could use that time to actually talk to someone I know instead. I interact with my friends over instant messenger, which is convenient, but I can’t see their face, hear their voice, and I’m sure on many an occasion I haven’t interpreted what they are saying correctly, because we are missing inflection. I’m sure there is also a delay in actually meeting up with friends sometimes, because the assumption is that we have already ‘caught up’ via ‘Whatsapp’. But there is only so much you want to type, to relay on a daily basis, to ‘bother’ people with often. Sometimes you need to be in the company of someone, put the world to right without substantive gaps in conversation (when things could have moved on anyway), and not measure how much someone cares about you by how recent their ‘last seen’ time stamp was. When you need a hug, a yellow smiling face just doesn’t cut it.

So here I am, trying to kick (in my view) my quite unhealthy habits of creating and maintaining relationships, whilst also hopefully setting an example to my daughter that a relationship with a person is far better than a screen.

Here’s hoping that will be the way of all things, that convenience and cost savings (at what cost?) won’t keep removing actual humans from our lives, and that, one day, ‘that Machine’ at the library can go back in the box¬†where it came from, and where it belongs.