I snapped this photograph three years ago. We were in Algeria. I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first born son. We were on a boat and it was a truly lovely day.
I miss summer, with its sudden thunderstorms and endless light.
Hot, silent, still.
The grass crackles and folds and pales under the glare of a ferocious sun.
And then the rain gushes down in a torrent akin to a waterfall. As quickly as it started, an invisible tap turns off, clouds scudding away to reveal the bluest skies.
Endless deep contemplation in the vast azure.
Stretching over the world and into the distance.
Paling even as it speeds away, until it dissolves into ethereal nothingness.
Hours seem endless, meditation and reflection come with ease. Welcoming atmosphere. Gentle breeze.
I suppose there is a beauty to autumn too. Summer has to burn itself out, and bow to the change in season. Accept the rain, accept age. Accept that life must stand still after months of ravenous growth.
There is a beauty to lashings of endless rain, droplets light enough to dust eyelashes like the smallest jewels. Smooth conkers, waterlogged grass, windfalls aplenty. Trees become sparse, pale, and then explode in a plethora of colour.
Amber and saffron and gold.
The earth sighs and releases her deep essence. The aroma of life. Mud and grass and dying vegetation, rich even in their demise. Generous in their sacrifice. Nutrients seeping into the soil, waiting to sit through icy months, feeding the dormant seedlings that will once again spring to life when the earth turns her face achingly towards the sun.
I miss summer, I do. But I know that in order for us to have a summer, we must also have an autumn and a winter and a beautiful spring.
BST. British Standard Time.
There is something about the word British that makes me feel proud, and at the same time irritated. If you were to look at me, you would not think I was British. Namely because I am not white of skin and fair of hair – or just fair, for that matter.
You would probably change your mind once I opened my mouth.
I used to tell my colleagues that I grew up in Dubai. They took that to mean that I was FROM there, and would say things like, ‘oh you learned English pretty quickly‘, and ‘your accent is quite good‘ and ‘you sound distinctly Southern – who was your teacher?‘.
Well my teacher was my mother. She was born in Tooting, London. I was born there too. We are British, albeit very multicultural, so not English, just British. My accent is British because my parents are British, so even though we lived in another country, they maintained their British culture and passed it on to us. They didn’t design to do this intentionally – it just came about.
Do I get offended when people say these things to me? I used to. I was a bit green. I used to get indignant. Hey, I’m British, this is my country too.
I don’t always feel like it’s my country, especially when people tell me to ‘go back home’. How can I? This is home. This is my mother’s home too. My mother’s parents came from two different countries and so did my father’s parents.
So if I were to go ‘home’ you’d have to dissect my body into a million pieces and divide my cells according to which country they originated.. that would be messy.
I bloomed though, with the knowledge that I came from everywhere and nowhere. It made me stronger. It made me prouder of my heritage.
Some days I feel fiercely British, and proud of my country and its people and it’s polite manners. Other days I feel ashamed of its history and the way it colonised the world. Some days I love its people for their exceptional Britishness, and other days I despise them for their entitlement.
But as I grow I realise something – and that is not everyone is perfect. Every nation, culture, race has its flaws and it’s positive attributes. There is good in everyone and everything, and there is also bad.
It’s important to value who you are and where you came from – to BLOOM into what makes you, YOU. Most of the time you are who you are because of your family, heritage and culture. This is why I choose to embrace the good parts of being British, and how they define me, so I can feel proud to be so. I can also feel proud to be all the other cultures that I am, and how these have impacted my ‘Britishness’, enhancing it and helping me to bloom in the process.
Which aspects of your culture do you like? What do you dislike?
I had challenged myself to write a post everyday in May but the past three days had been disgusting in terms of exhaustion to be honest. I’ve walked and sang and read and taken my little all over this town in pursuit of rhymes and baby groups and sensory experiences, and by the time he was settled in bed for the night and I had had my dinner, I just crashed. Motherhood is hard, yet rewarding. He is at the age now (3 months on Sunday) where I feel like I am getting the hang of things finally and feel more in control! So here is my 14th post – playing catchup.
Curtains literally mean pieces of cloth that humans put in front of their windows to stop the outside world from peering into the privacy of their homes. Especially at night when the lights are on and everything is laid bare.
However there is also a figurative meaning – to obscure. To curtain something is to cover it up. Like smoking weed for example.
Let me paint you a scene.
The sun is shining brightly down on a street in Crewe, England. A line of terraced houses mounted atop a pavement badly in need of renovation. I am walking along with my pram, when a door to my right bursts open and two young men fall out, pulling hoodies on and slinging backpacks on their backs. They look too benign to be louts, I have to say.
The taller one is fatter, and the shorter one thinner, and they both have long gleaming hair that they’ve pulled back into a bun halfway up their heads. One dark bun and one light bun.
And I noticed as they left the house one began to root in his backpack for something – aha, he pulled it out just as they walked swiftly past me, and as they did I caught a whiff of very strong weed, as the shorter of the two began to vigorously spray the deodorant spray he’d pulled out all over his person, until he was covered in a halo of white that quirky effervesced in the sunlight. He handed the can to his mate, who also proceeded to cover himself in the cheap smelling stuff, and as their long legs pulled them further away from me, they left a trail of deodorant and weed in their wake.
I couldn’t help thinking how stupid they were. To curtain the scent of weed like that right in public. Why not do it behind their curtains?
For information purposes, weed is illegal here in the UK, hence I assume that was why they were trying to mask the scent!
What things do you do to curtain aspects of your life that you don’t want others to know about? And do you reckon you do a good job of it?
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my ninth post.
When my brother and I were very small, our parents moved us away from rainy England to Dubai, where it barely ever rained and the sun shone down upon the barren desert with a beaming ferocity that unrivalled anything we had ever known.
You see, if I were to describe England to you using only the colour spectrum, I would say it was ramaadi (grey) and a thousand shades of green, with a few splotches of brick red thrown in for good measure. Clouds here are stunning, and seemingly perpetual. When it rains it does not rain as it does in Malaysia (there it POURS). It is a slow sort of rain, seemingly innocent and gentle, but viciously incessant, soaking you through in a matter of minutes all while apologising meekly and drizzling away.
The green is of all hues. Dark sultry evergreens, pale shoots, regular green of birches, the humdrum green of privet, cheery green of oak, green hills rolling away into the distance and grass that just grows and grows and grows. Green ivy creeping over beautiful homes and driveways fringed with neatly clipped grass. An abundance of green and all looking like it came out of a picture book – which I suppose it did, for Beatrix Potter did base her paintings on the Lake District!
When you fly above England it’s all neat little squares of varying shades of green. It’s similar in France I suppose but there is a foreign vibe to it there and lots of browns creep in.
When you fly above the United Arab Emirates the land is brown, a hundred shades of it, and you can see the winding marks on the earth where rivers and mountain ranges signify a land that barely changes. It’s always changing in England, for we have seasons. In Dubai there is summer and winter and a week or two of rain and that’s it.
So whenever we came back home to England for the summer holidays, my brother and I relished the rain and the greenery like a pair of mad children. We ate buttercups and yanked all the dandelion seeds off their stems, blowing until we were blue in the face. I naughtily picked the neighbour’s flowers because they were pretty and sobbed inconsolably when my mother gave me a good telling off about it.
My mum bought us two children’s umbrellas one summer, darling little things, coloured like a rainbow, and we would rush into the garden when it rained and stand out there like a pair of wallies under our umbrellas. The neighbours thought we were bonkers and their dog barked at us.
Those odd children standing out in the wet under umbrellas!
It was such a novelty, you see. The pattering of soft rain on the umbrellas, splish splash of water by our wellies, tap tap of heavy drops on wide tree leaves.
It’s funny what makes children happy.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my sixth post.
Well well well, I see you have found the scales.
Go on then. Stand on it, do. Won’t do you no harm. Sure, a number will pop up, but that should only show you how much mass you have accumulated on your years here on earth.
Would be very different on the moon. You’d weigh less there – but perhaps if humans inhibited the moon there would still be a stigma, just on a different range of weights.
When you were a baby your mother anticipated each weighing you had. They stripped you and sometimes you cried, your little naked chubby body going blotchy because there was a draft. They laid you gently on the hard plastic of the scale and your mother – well she squealed in excitement when she disovered you’d almost doubled in weight since the day you were born. She sure does remember your exact weight and treasures it in her heart for some odd reason.
Yes he weighed 3.45kg when he was born and now he weighs 5.9kg, isn’t he growing fabulously!?
Such pride and happiness in her voice. She longs for you to grow and yet laments your tiny self from a month ago.
So weight is important. If you weren’t increasing in weight they would worry. If you increased too much they would also worry.
It’s just when you reach a certain age. An age where weight seems to become evil and high numbers on a scale are devastating. People begin to become fixated on these numbers, and eat green things in favour of beige things in the hopes that the scales will read them a lower value.
Some barely eat at all.
Those scales you are standing on are just an inanimate object. Revel in your mass. Revel in your form. It takes up just the right amount of space here on earth, and presses down on our planet along with billions of other masses – the comforting humdrum thump thump of earthlings weighed down by gravity.
All it is is gravity. Your weight. Here on earth.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my second post.
There were three stars, in a straight line. And they followed her wherever she went. Up North, down South. In the Eastern hemisphere, where the world was tropical and the heat and humidity battered her body until she oozed from every orifice. In the Western hemisphere where the days were icy and short and then terribly, terribly long. Every night, three stars in a row.
If she looked up at the sky her eyes searched and searched for three in a row, just like that.
She didn’t know what they were called, or if they were part of some larger constellation. Scrap that, who cares for the constellations.
As long as there were three stars just like that. Just that, as long as there were those stars. She didn’t know what came after that. Just that she had to see them.
When she learned about space it was always with awe. A deep expanse of blackness and nothing and airless floating, containing worlds of light and gas. Black holes bending time and space, folds of dimensions expanding and contracting. Complex and unnerving, terrifying and beautiful.
But when she looked up, all she could see were the stars. Her three stars, amid a myriad of others. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on where she was.
Dependable. From her safe haven on earth.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my first post.
I am always running, I think.
Running from the past, because I didn’t want to be there. Bitter memories, silly mistakes. Teenagehood for me was not a good space. I wasted too much time being sad. I wasted too much time staring at doors that wouldn’t open because I was too afraid to reach out and pull the handle.
Running to the future, wishing the hours away.
Enjoy your time now, they said.
But now was too painful. Too shy. Too slow. Too impatient.
Enjoy your pregnancy, they said. I stared at them. How could I, when I was exhausted every second and heaving my guts out.
Now I am wistful a lot and miss the old days when my husband and I had a relationship. Now, how do I enjoy now when we never get a moment together? How to enjoy the now when I am sleep deprived?
Enjoy it now, they grow so fast!
Two months and already features are solidifying, face less squished, character appearing from a pair of bright, eager eyes. I can’t believe I am going to say, this, I miss the newborn days.
Stop running from the past. Stop running, wishing for the future.
Enjoy it now. I know the words mean something momentous, but the meaning escapes me until time has whipped it out of my grasp.
Stop running. Stand still. Breath. Feel. Savour.
We have had a week of GLORIOUS weather in the UK.
Glorious. adj. having a striking beauty or splendour.
I wish you could see it. See the sun bring out the greens of late summer, see how it coaxes the fragrances from the late September flowers, see how it shines on gentle webs, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that shift up gossamer threads as the sturdy little arachnid home sways stubbornly in the wind. I wish you could smell the earth, it’s like the spring of winter. Everything is so fresh, idyllic. Things have bloomed past their prime, and they nod in the breeze with unwitting splendour.
And the sun is warm, caressing, in the cool, sometimes cold, breeze.
This is my favourite season, just before the trees deck themselves in the sunset colours for the evening of summer, just before the bare branches begin to peer over the haze of icy morning fog. The evenings are still lasting, the shadows still long at 6pm, the golden sunshine can still be called a late summer sun.
Why do people say that they are running on empty?
They aren’t running.
They are just empty.
The sun can suck your energy out.
Especially if you live in a country where the sun is consistently shrouded by cloud.
Clouds of shroud.
Covering its beaming face.
When the sun comes out all and sundry scuttle from their hidey holes.
And it drains energy.
So lobster arms and legs sprawl, blistering, in the heat, empty cans hanging loosely from fleshy claws.
And people are truly, then, running on empty.
And when the sun sets, and the ashen dregs of barbecues are ground into the floor under hardened soles, the cold night air surges again, and the stars pop out to twinkle, one by one.
We never run on empty.
We just run.