Naughty

I’ve been fantasising recently (for the last three years) about adding washing-up liquid to a local fountain. 

Of course, I never do. I am a good boy.

And today it happened: some other naughty soul did it, and frothy bubbles were mounding up high in the basin, ready to crash into the street.

I felt joyful, thankful and connected. I felt connected to the naughty person who did this. There’s a funny, fairytale quality to having captive-clouds at knee-level  Hands can playfully part the clouds and shape them. People  walking by make little happy noises as they stifle smiles.

Back to School.

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I watched my students move on today. I had bonded with them, trained them,  showed them how to jump hurdles and tenderly coaxed them through their exams.
They were my little gemstones.
Now they move onto the next level, and they are no longer mine.
In truth, they never were.
Students belong to themselves.
It’s the flowers that do the growing.

Sleepy Sunny Day

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She was all tuckered out, the last sunlight in her hair. Her hair spread across the pillow.

We had had a big day. We’d played in the park with our friends and their young family. Sandpits, swings and ziplines for the Eldest in his padded romper suit. The Youngest slept, but only for as long as I pushed her pram round and round the little paths. I could see my Lovely sat on a bench in the sun, talking secrets with the Mummy. I saw the Eldest playing near them with his trike and bright shovel. The Daddy had paused, perched at the top of the zipline ladder. He had a rare moment of peace, quite literally watching over is little family.

Then it was off to the river. Half the valley was full of colour, the other half had been silvered by the sun and mist. The Eldest has a fondness for the passenger ferry, so we sat and watched it for a cycle (toot toot!). The river was running fast, the boats were struggling. The gulls weren’t. The Eldest and I learnt lots of words for nature. My German is getting better.

There was more practice at home. We snuggled down, now alone, on our sofa. I read aloud from her favourite childhood book. Sunsets, cuddles and storytime. Bliss.

Bliss punctuated by sneezing. I stopped reading and tucked her up for a nap. Quiet.

But I wanted more time by the river. I changed into my leggings, snuck downstairs and sprinted down the avenue. Soon I was at the tow path, loloping downstream. The sun glowed orange through the trees. My running  made a funny strobe of warmth, dusk, warmth, dusk, warmth. As I slowed for a walk break I heard a woodpecker. When I heard him again I ran again

I ran to the deer park. Two old ladies were smoking on a bench: a dad ran while his son cycled: two ladies kept up a cracking pace: an old man was doing interval training.

I turned, running up river towards home. I was a little behind a barge, powering against the current. I pushed myself to pull level with it. I surprised myself. I pushed on. The barge became my running buddy. I kept pace, then drew level to the wheel house, then the cargo, then the other end of the cargo. By the time I had to turn uphill, I was past the prow. I hadn’t taken even one walking break.

Back home, the sky was dark, but our window was light.

‘Undecided on Love’ Exhibition

It’s on! It’s live and there are no excuses for not going.
Except the miles and miles of sea one has to cross…

{ The Undecided Art Collective }

Undecided on Love poster - Julie Barnes Poster by the marvelous Julie Barnes ❤

The Undecided Art Collective are delighted to present an Exhibition of new Artworks on the theme of LOVE.
The show will take place at Ventnor Exchange between the 6th and 8th of February 2015.

“LOVE: bringer of unequaled joys and unfathomable sorrows; catalyst of temporary (and sometimes lasting) madness; trigger for strange behaviours of every kind.

Love penetrates the furthest reaches of our experience and tears us in every direction, from invincible ecstasy to numbing mediocrity, right down to unfathomable despair and back again, changed.

Its partners in crime; light-headedness, joy, nervousness, self-doubt, excitement, fear, embarrassment, silliness, apprehension and the gang all play their part in its strange dance.”

Join us on Friday the 6th of February at 8pm for a preview with music from Laura Claire Reid and Matt Hitt of The Ventnor Darlings and our Undecided playlist of infinite love ♥ (

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Dirty Little Secret

wpid-20150202_184609.jpgI have had the most beautiful weekend! I was reading,  “Island” by Aldous Huxley.

It’s lovely, and I am so glad I waited till now to read it, as there are so many beautiful moments that my younger self wouldn’t have appreciated.

Not that my younger self would have read Huxley of his free will.

I was made to suffer though his work for my GCSEs. Don’t get me wrong, “Brave New World” is an excellent book, but our teacher took it upon herself to edit out the drugs and sex. The whole experience put me off Huxley, Orwell, Heller and the rest of them for years. At one point I even spent my own pocket money on an unexpurgated copy from the bookshop, so that I might have half a chance of answering exam questions on it.

But now, almost thirty, I gave Huxley another go, and it was so beautiful that I dug through the bookcase to see what else I had been putting off for no good reason.

The list is …shamefully long.

Island by Aldous Huxley (1976) Shelf time:15years. Reason: I was misled into thinking it was serious. Shame?: No! It’s awesome, but I wouldn’t have been in the position to appreciate that. How can you relate to a man haunted by temptation if you have never been tempted ?

Orientalism by Edward W. Said (1978) Shelf time: 11 years

Reason: I was bored at college, and a drunken convo convinced me this book would be my next great adventure. I promptly checked it out of the University Library and just as promptly lost it in a “desk-a-lanche”, caused by a ludicrous, sangria inflated argument with a forester over the nature of phospholipids.

I won. But I also forgot “Orientalism” until the library sent me a letter. It was a notification that, since the overdue charges were by that point greater than the value of the book, would I please forward them the sum so we could all draw a line under the issue.

I only found it when moving out, and have kept it, un-read, to this day, through every move I have ever made.

Shame?:  Everytime an accusation of orientalism is made, I have no idea what is going on. I look around sheepishly and try to change the topic. And to top it all, there have been publication anniversary retrospectives that I couldn’t read in the magazines so that thy didn’t spoil the book. Now I have a collection of his essays, or essays on him, that I cannot read till I make it through this bottleneck.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. (2003)

Shelf time; circa 9 years.

Reason: It exploded. It was THE Big Thing. An ex gave me a copy and gushed about how “You can’t fail to fall for it!”

Shame?: A stubborn voice at the back of my head grumbled, “Yes I can…”

The Migrane Hotel by Luke Kennard (2009)wpid-20150202_184742.jpg

Shelf time: 6 years

Reason; I was bored, and went to a poetry reading to support a friend of the sister of a friend. I bought one and had him sign it, mainly because I had liked a comedic poem in a previous anthology and hoped there might be another chuckle in this.

Shame?: Yes. Lots! I haven’t yet bothered to check if there is a another chuckle in it. BUT I did write a glowing review on amazon about it because I thought he was a nice chap and could do with a bit of exposure.

wpid-20150202_184714.jpgDeforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis by Michael Williams

Shelf time 8 years

Reason; 568 densely printed sheets of dead tree on the subject of dead tree.

Shame? 568 densely printed UNREAD sheets of dead tree on the subject of dead tree.

The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur (2001)wpid-20150202_184524.jpg

Shelf time: None, in constant use. It’s tasty and healthy recipes have formed the backbone of many of my happiest evenings

Shame?: Yes, I have now read more of it than the actual Bible.