Water keeps on flowing

As much as I feel my life has been at a standstill for a long time now, I’ve actually lived here in Scotforth Road for nearly a year, and am about to move again. Over the last few months, I’ve been in such a state of mental stagnation personally that I’ve seen very little worth writing about. I don’t want every post in my blog to be about how much it sucks to be depressed and have anxiety (it’s a lot, by the way) and I fear that’s what it would turn into if I was in a more regular posting routine at the moment. I barely sleep, hardly ever leave the house, and only ever seem to think about how badly I’ve ruined my life since I left home. I’m in a constant state of fear that it won’t be too much longer before my boyfriend and friends give up on me entirely.

Which, in a round-about way, brings me to my point. Even if I was inclined to write more often and with more detail about my present state of mind, I seem to have fractured my writing bone. That first paragrpah is such a poorly written heap that I can’t see how to tidy it up without causing it to collapse in on itself. So not only would my posts be very maudlin, self-depricating and miserable, they’d be poorly written and unpleasent to read, too. No-one wants to read stuff like that.


Father Valentine

Firstly, a quick explanation as to my lack of new updates recently – I simply haven’t been able to coagulate my thoughts into postable material. There have been things I’ve wanted to write about but they’ve stuck around for a very short period of time, much less than it takes me to mull something over and decide on what angle to pursue in my writing. I think part of the problem might be my thinking a blog post needs to be a long, in-depth affair, whereas it’s really fine for me to write only a few paragraphs on something. Am going to try harder in the coming weeks to remedy this.

A friend of mine, luvlymish, introduced me to a very interesting tradition a couple of years ago, which she heard about from a different friend of hers. Originating in Norfolk, the annual tradition of Father Valentine is a rather quaint idea that can really spread a lot of happiness and smiles around the place. Also known as the tradition of Jack Valentine, a lucky person would be called upon and St. Valentine’s day by a mysterious visitor, the enigmatic Father, or Jack, Valentine. A knock on the door would signal the arrival of a gift for someone in the house (children and unattached people were just as likely to receive gifts as lovers). Father Valentine himself would be long gone by the time the door was answered but the tradition was to yell “Thank you, Father Valentine!” into the wind in case he was actually just hiding in the wind.

Being a truly sentimental romantic at heart, this idea appeals to me immensely. The opportunity to give and potentially receive anonymous gifts is one that I can’t pass up. The gifts can be anything, from a chocolate bar to jewelry and more. A pair of sunglasses rests amongst my ornaments, Father Valentine’s gift from last year.

In some ways, it’s a shame I feel like I need this kind of sanctioning in order to give tokens of my love and appreciation to my friends. However, I’ve found that random gifts aren’t always a good idea. The last random thing I gave a friend got accidentally left in Manchester without even so much as a thank you. I don’t like sounding whiny and petulant but that stung. So, something a little bit more organised this time.

I am tempted to bake goodies for my valentines, but our kitchen is small and often quite messy (my housemate’s insistence that the recycling goes HERE obviously didn’t apply to him, if the empty pizza boxes are anything to go by). Also I’m not sure how I’d deliver vast quantities of yummy cakes and the like – I’d need to scour the land for small boxes. Aside from that I have scant few ideas, but there’s plenty of time. Mostly, I think, I need to write a list of people. I’m lucky – I have many people in my life whom I love dearly and want to lend a smile to. But that needs lots of ideas, so off I go to come up with some.


I know, no posts recently. To extend the slow cooker metaphor, ideas, like casserole, will go bad if you leave them too long, and I haven’t been able to produce posts on the things I mentioned.

On another note, I am planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. It’s basically a huge writing excercise where you write 50,000 words in a month. Quality is not the relevent bit here – the important stuff is to help develop a habit of writing every single day, whether you feel like it or not. I don’t have an idea yet – I’m going to go plot-bunny-hunting today. I must suppress the urge to write a 50k fan fiction story.

I am a slow-cooker, ideas are my tasty casserole

I have a few posts, developing slowly in my mind. I am like a slow-cooker. An idea forms, but is not ready for exploration and blogging for quite some time, until it is soft and juicy and infused with all my knowledge and opinions and has been thoroughly thought about.

I have several ideas in this gestation period now, About topics such as my attention span, my brother Lewis, and about reading. I’m also considering doing an entirely text/screenshot based let’s-play-minecraft (since I don’t like my own voice, I am reluctant to make a video). This is most likely to happen after the second half of Minecraft’s adventure update has been released though, as there isn’t much point doing it at the moment, while the experience system doesn’t do anything and there aren’t any giant mushroom biomes yet.

Hopefully, I’ll be ready to actually spit out one of the above blog posts some time next week, so don’t despair! However, on a related note, I am interested to hear ideas of what I should write about. Whereas I can’t guarantee I’ll write about a particular suggestion, I will consider everything.

So go on, add your own veggies or meat to the casserole.

People Watching

I like to watch people. I give their faces stories and think about where they’re coming from or going to. I wonder what they do for a living, and why they’re wearing what they’re wearing. What goes on inside their minds?

I like to sit in cafes with big windows and laugh privately to myself at the imaginary stories I’ve given people. I enjoy sitting with a milkshake and making it last long enough to see several sets of people come and go in the meantime. There is nothing quite like it.

One of the greatest places to watch people is train stations ( I imagine airports have a similar effect but I’ve never had the chance to watch people at one). I’ve seen people look happier than the sun as they are reunited, or more sorrowful than the waning moon as someone boards the train away from them.

The look on someone’s face when the person they’ve been waiting for, the person they love and want and need steps off the train is a look which is worth more than anything. They get the kind of crinkly grin that can change a person’s entire demeanour, the kind of smile that spreads from the corners of their mouth, up the curves and angles of their face and cheeks and into their eyes. The furrows around their eyes are unmistakably ones of joy and passion.

More often or not there will be an embrace of some kind. The most common example involves a man and a woman. The man will wrap his arms around the woman, as if to gather her to himself. She will fling her arms around his neck and bury her face in his shoulder. Not a moment’s thought will be given to the luggage, should there be any.

Just as often, you’ll see the opposite to this, the separation of two people who want very much to remain geographically together. They will often hold one another as though letting go will bring about the parting that much quicker. You can often see a man with his hands on the neck and face of a woman, looking into her eyes. A kiss on the forehead is commonplace. When the train pulls into the station, a tight hug and a quick kiss can often be seen. Hands outstretched, fingers entwined until someone is aboard the train, just for that second’s extra contact.

The train doors close and the remaining person will usually wait for it to pull out of the station before leaving. Often they will look for the seat chosen by their leaving partner and wave as they are whisked away. Slumped shoulders and a slow, dejected walk are often seen as they leave the train station alone, heart heavy with the knowledge that the person they love is being taken swiftly away by a great metallic chariot.

It is incredibly voyeuristic to watch these interactions, to see people say goodbye, or hello. This is a private moment and yet must be conducted in plain view of many others. A person’s world is totally cantered on the leaving or arrival of one other person, and yet the world around them continues to move and people can see them as they cannot see anything but the person before them.

There are very few other places you can see such extreme emotions. Hospitals, maybe, but they are relatively inaccessible. For day to day people watching, nothing beats the range you can see at a train station.

I think that watching people is an important past time for someone who reads, and even more so for someone who writes anything involving people. For the reader, being able to apply real life faces and reactions to what the author is attempting to portray deepens the experience of the book. For the writer, being able to aptly characterise the emotions is much easier if they are ones you are familiar with seeing regularly.

It could be that, or it could just be the fact that I am nosy and often bored, that compels me to watch people, but whatever it is, I wonder how many other people are infected by the bug, and I wonder how many times I have been observed by someone watching the world go by.

More on Journeys and Our Country

Sorry, to clarify – this was composed Saturday 6th March when I was on my way back from Wales to Lancaster.

So, another post brought to you from the belly of the train across our beautiful countries. The train is still passing through Wales, shortly to arrive at Cardiff. Beauty abound in the outside world, flecked with the grime on the windows of the train.

Wales, and Ferryside more specifically, have always been where I’ve considered to be ‘home’ for all intents and purposes. I’ve lived in the country of mountains, delicious cawl, and sheep almost all my life and nearly half of that time we’ve been in Ferryside, a small coastal village where almost everyone knows almost everyone else and the concept of a ‘strongest man contest’ in the village square (which is also the village car park) is met with enthusiasm, dressing up and community spirit.
The village itself is immensely beautiful – the view from the bridge over the railway track is phenomenal. Beach, dunes, rivers, fields, forests; we have it all. Old houses, new houses, a shop, a hotel and spa, pubs, tennis courts, churches, a school, a post office. Anything you want from a village really. Bus and rail connections to further afield areas too.
So since I was ten years old, Ferryside has been home. It’s the house I’ve spent the longest in, the one my family and I have really made ‘home’. We’ve made changes to it, fixed and broken it (I’ll never forget the time that the cat fell through the kitchen roof – the hole still hasn’t been fixed). Most of all, we’ve made it ours.

For as long as the thought has been there, I’ve wanted to raise my future children in Wales. I’ve wanted them to be steeped in Welsh culture, be Welsh speaking, and celebrate St. David’s day with the same passion for their homeland as I do. Given the choice, there is nowhere I’d rather call my home country.

Recently though, there has been a change in my outlook. No longer do I consider ‘home’ to be that tiny village. No longer do I see myself as an old lady walking along the beach with my grandchildren running around, chasing after the dog. Now, it’s Williamson park I’m walking through. My children will have Lancashire accents, not Welsh ones. They’ll never learn Yr Wyddorr, they’ll learn the alphabet instead. This saddens me somewhat – I want to further the language, I want my family to have the same experience of my part of the world as I do. But it won’t be home for them, I don’t think. Not anymore.

Lancaster is a wonderful city. Historic and steeped in culture and beauty, its only drawback is being so close to Morecambe. But Morecambe has its own redeeming qualities of course – the beach is the major one for me. I have never lived so far away from the sea as I do now in Lancaster and even knowing that it is a short bus journey away if I need it is a comfort. From my front door in Ferryside, a sufficiently powerful throw could land a stone on the beach.

I have been thinking recently about writing. I want to write! But I am so short of ideas that I’m not sure I’ll ever make it as an author. I have the ability to write (or so I’m led to believe) just there’s nothing in my head to write about. I can’t come up with characters, a world, or a plot. I lack inspiration. My muse has left me. The only thing I can be inspired to write these days are these live journal posts, where I prattle on about nothing relevant or interesting.

The train is very busy today. I try my best to not do this journey on Saturdays – people are going all manner of places over the weekend and they all seem to be on my train. I used to pick a person and wonder about who they were – what was their story. These days I can’t even come up with lives for the myriad of people around me. Not the trendy looking seventeen year old couple in the seats to my right, or the posh couple with their ‘Upper Crust’ coffees in front of them. It used to be so easy – why is it now lost to me? And why is it that when something is denied to us we want it, crave it even more fervently? Writing has always been something I’m interested in, and have done off and on for years (mainly Fan Fiction, but it’s still writing). Now though, I can’t do it and I so desperately want to turn my time and my words into a story for others to read and enjoy.

Dog Hair

I got a phone call from home last night. This may not seem like anything that’s particularly remarkable to any of you, but it did shock me to see ‘Incoming call – Home’ flashing up on my screen. My parents are supportive to the very end, in a passive way. If I phone home, I get all the praise, encouragement, advice and support in the world – my Mum (cookingwithwine) in particular is truly fantastic at making me feel as if I really CAN achieve my goals. However, they are the kind of people inclined to let me get on with my own life, and are very happy that I’ve become independent and in control (to an extent) of my own life. They know I’m having problems and help me with them when I phone, but don’t push their advice down my throat – something for which I am eternally grateful.

So when my mum phoned last night, I had to wonder why. We chatted for a little while, I told her about my new job prospects and she told me about how they spent my stepdad’s birthday. Then came the time to mention the Giraffe. It had been in the room the whole time, but we’d been purposefully ignoring it. My mum started off with ‘I’ve got something rather not nice to tell you’. This was enough in itself to chill me. Last time someone said anything like that to me was the morning of February 11th 2008, when I was on my way to the bathroom. Julian, my stepdad stopped me and told me that Bob, our family dog, ‘was no longer with us’. He’d been run over. Now, I don’t throw up. When I’m ill, or drunk or terrified, it’s just not something that I do, but I really thought that the sob that rose in my chest that day had to be more than just misery and sorrow.

So, my mum had something ‘not very nice’ to tell me. My heart started pounding and I sat down from where I’d been stood in front of the heater.

‘I’ve got something not very nice to tell you about your Nan Jackie. She’s got cancer. Lung cancer.’

I don’t know how many of you have ever looked up certain statistics relating to cancer, but about 107 people per day are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK alone. That’s a lot of cancer. And it’s not even the most common, that being prostate in men and bowel and breast in women. But lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK. Less that 10% of people diagnosed survive for at least five years after initial diagnosis.

So cancer is…prevalent. Common, even. I knew most of these statistics this time yesterday, before I was aware of it being in my immediate family, but it had never crossed my mind, even for a split second, that someone in my family would get it. My Dadcu is a very ill man, he has angina and all kinds of other problems, so it never occurred that another of my grandparents would be struck with an illness that is associated (at least in my mind) with death. I face, potentially, losing two members of my immediate family in the next few years.

This is a terrifying prospect to me. Until now, the worst things in this area I’ve had to deal with are the death of my great auntie Liz to breast cancer about eight years ago, and the aforementioned death of Bob. So I have no idea how something like this would affect me, were it to happen.

I guess I just thought they’d always be there. Facing mortality on a personal scale is a sobering thing.

I certainly thought that Bob would be a consistent thing all through my life. I was young when we got him, maybe about four years old. ‘Bob’ was my brother’s first word. He was a small, boisterous puppy when we adopted him. Labrador/pointer mix, black with a white stripe on his tummy. Certainly the most friendly, dopey, lovable creature you could ever hope to come across. I miss him so much, still. The photos are all that are left now, and the occasional short black hair I find amongst my thing, in between the pages of books and other places like that. I guess it’ll be the same if anyone else I value were to pass away – you’ll never stop finding things that make you think about them.

I will make them proud of me before they die.

I stood on the millennium bridge a few nights ago. My mp3 player had run out of charge, I was alone, it was late and dark and cold. It was the first time in a long time that I thought about suicide while I was actually within real potential of doing it in a long time. I was filled with a morbid curiosity – what would it be like to just jump? Would the water be as icy cold as the air, or warmer? Would it be like drifting off to death, or is it a violent way to go? If there is an afterlife, would I have to spend it wet and full of sand? how long would it take people to notice that I was gone? Clearly, I decided not to try it out just to see.

Theglaivemaster and I are ‘taking a break’ from our relationship. That’s something that I thought happened in trashy novels and soap operas, not in real life. But for us, the decision was reached not through any shouting or arguing or disagreement. It was a sensible, adult, frank and honest discussion. I shan’t delve into reasons here, but we agreed that a little bit of time and space might be what I need to turn back into myself. So that’s what we’re trying at the moment. We both came out of the talk very optimistic that we’d made the correct decision and that our relationship was clearly healthy enough to have this kind of honesty.

I think we’re both finding it much harder than we anticipated. While it’s great to be able to sleep however I like and whenever I like, I do miss the cuddling and the kissing and the little sweet intimate things that happen between couples. We’re staying good friends throughout this break, and when we’re together it’s hard not to hold his hand and other such things. None the less, we must persevere – things are difficult but usually worth it.

I want to start writing but neither ideas nor words will come to me.

Bob The Dog Rees