Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Lazy-free days

As a child, I attended more than one Christian school. During my time in these establishments, Lent was, naturally, a big deal. The lead up to Easter was filled with endless prayer, religious ceremony and, of course, 40 days of being interrogated about what we were going to 'give up'.

As an adult-atheist, I had long forgotten about the deprivation necessary at this time of year, until the Christian school I now work at gave me a timely reminder.

Regular readers will know that I am generally opposed to the idea of doing something 'for' an occasion. I am not one for new years' resolutions or anything of the sort. To me, the time for change is every day and one should not need an external event to tell them to do something before they have any motivation to achieve.

However, having been very poorly for a couple of weeks – and found a multitude of other excuses – my motivation and productivity have been through the floor and I am being forced to eat humble pie. When asked what they plan to do for Lent, children always have such grand, wonderful ideas. By contrast, most adults simply shrug and reluctantly agree to give up wine or chocolate. It's underwhelming, uninspiring and, frankly, lazy.

Speaking of which...inspired by the children, I have taken it upon myself to use the excuse to sort my shit out and have decided to give up one, very simply thing:


40 days of binning the any-old excuses, attempting to manage my time and finally, truly get things done. That means finishing this year's degree-work, getting a wiggle on with projects at work, finding the second job I've been talking about for months (and the car to get me there) and, of course, getting my sorry butt back on the blogs.

Non-specific though the commitment is, I am hoping that the abstract nature of my pledge will work in my favour, making it achievable at the most basic of levels first. One can only ever hope for the best and that is what I endeavour to do. Wish me luck!

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Whoever you are and wherever you may be, have a truly wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Feeling the love - Countdown to Christmas

Today, I am in sunny Statford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, with someone very, very special to me and, as if it didn't before, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. 

Between sparkling lights, cobbled streets and an all-year-round Christmas shop, I have flown well and truly into the Christmas spirit and, from here, there is just no going back.

I love Stratford for so many reasons. I love the feeling of walking through the streets and knowing that - though modernity has taken its hold of the town- so much of what I am seeing hasn't changed in a good century. I love the number of sweet little shops, places of art and the many buskers filling the streets. And, more than anything, I love the atmosphere: the feeling that something more important than getting from A to B is happening and everyone is a part of it.

Image sourced from here.

I am well aware that this makes me sound like a pretty strange kind of little weirdo but there is no denying that the place has something about it that continues to draw me back, time after time. 

This time though, the trip is a little more special. Having been with other friends and family before, I know Stratford well and have a story for every other street corner. Taking this person today was like introducing them to important memories and what it has felt like to, at some points, be me. And, of course, in the process, we made new memories that I will most probably widdle myself about for years to come. 

Stratford touches the musician and writer in me, drawing me into the oh-so-slightly upper-class, bohemian environment. Equally, the tiny little town could be anywhere: it's the sharing of memories and the making of new ones that has made me quite so mushy and, of course, well and truly in the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Snowman Musical - Countdown to Christmas

On Monday, we took the children at school to see The Snowman Musical, a screening of the animated classic, accompanied by live orchestra and choir. For a four-year old, sitting still for such a long length of time is really quite a challenge. Add to this a less than modern-type animation, no dialogue and a whole lot of noise and you've got yourself a potential recipe for disaster. 

But, to my very pleasant surprise, there was not a disaster in sight. Every single child absolutely loved it. They sat up straight, heads up, eyes wide, some of them not even blinking. Not a whisper, not a fidget, just complete and utter awe. 

Their excitement started the second they walked into the theatre. "Instruments! Real instruments!". The overture began and, were they to have been filmed in slow motion, I'm certain it would have caught them all straightening alongside each other. The reflection of the snowman flying across their eyes was nothing short of delightful.

And it reminded me of something that I've felt for a while. Speak to any well-meaning adult and they will tell you that childhood just isn't what it used to be: children don't play, they don't explore, they simple sit, sedentary, before a screen, gawping. They do not appreciate tangible things, don't understand art, work only with technology and sofas.

In my experience, this could not be further from the truth. Certainly, childhood is far more influenced by technology than it ever was and yes, sedentary lifestyles are rising in prominence but, to me, the suggestion that children no longer appreciate those things that we used to is nothing short of absurd.

No matter how expensive the toy, if I give any one of my children a cardboard box and tell them to 'just play', their faces light up. If I give them the opportunity to dance, sing or make music, their little hearts swell. And they most certainly do appreciate live work: the number of times they have begged to go back since Wednesday makes a sure thing of that. 

If ever there was a time for taking children out and giving them the chance to enjoy some of the most magical delights our culture has to offer, it is most certainly. So, no matter how computer obsessed or art-ignorant you think the children in your life are, take them some where magical and just see what happens.