These Watchmen are also the frequent recipients of charitable and humourous garb. Much like the crowning of the Wellington statue of Glasgow, with a traffic cone, became such a tradition by inebriated (probably) souls, that eventually the “crown” became a permanent feature, so too, the iron men’s adornment has become a popular practice amongst the locals.
I hope very much that local Yarn Bombers one day surprise the faithful Iron Men with colourful, warming wool. Thus creating a beautiful, jaw-dropping sight and at the same time celebrating not just this fabulous artwork but also acknowledging the, all to often, undervalued skill of things such as knitting, crocheting, spinning wool and so on.
Anthony Gormley, artist and creator of “Another Place” (the men are moulds of his body) has such shapely legs!
Five hours stuck on a coach, with no air, no room and a nauseating rubbery smell. Ugh! Would it be worth it?
(One of the vexing things about the narcolepsy is that I’m not allowed to drive. This stymies a constant need in me for finding open space or to be able to “run” away, even if only to the nearest beach. Dreams of Great Road Trips, like the Scottish Highlands, our “green and pleasant land” – England, a Grand Tour of Europe or of Route 1 (the coastal road that takes you the length of California), don’t seem feasible anymore: who’s going to want to hop in a retro VW Campervan to embark on a road trip with someone who can’t share the driving? (Silence))
Six years to the weekend that dad suddenly died I’m more aware than ever of how like my dad I am, both for good and for bad. Not that you’d have ever seen my dad traveling anywhere on a coach (unless he was firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat) but had it happened, he’d have been huffing and puffing, shifting from one butt cheek to the other, all hot and bothered – in short, he’d have driven me nuts. I now drive me nuts with me! It’s about the only driving I can actually do (queue laughter).
Things I Loved About Whitby
The abbey on the hill; I loved all the knobbly, gnarled walls and windows with the sparkling blue sky above its rooflessness. Great to draw.
I loved the cackling and chorus of the myriads of starlings perched atop the abbey, all talking at once, enjoying the warm September sun.
I loved the quaint, crooked cobbled streets and quirky independent shops. (Loved Bobbins in the historic Wesley Hall on Church Street. Love yarn? You’ll love Bobbins.)
I loved the wee pastel coloured houses on the waterfront; there’s picturesque scenes at every turn. My head was on a swivel!
I loved the recommendation of the Fisherman’s Wife restaurant, with fab food and sea views (we managed to get a window seat. Pheweeee! T’was a close call.).
I can hear a little whiny voice asking: but what about the 11 hour round trip on a stuffy, cramped coach? And what about sharing the tiny town with what felt like an unnatural amount of people (I think half the UK were there!)? And you were so tired you missed all the best scenery, like the seemingly infinite and utterly awe-inspiring Yorkshire Moors. And what of the gaudy strip of amusement arcades and other tasteless establishments?
In reply, I’d say, I don’t know what you are talking about. I simply don’t remember any of that.
This isn’t so much a Tale of Two Cities and their inhabitants, as much as a tale of two gardens and the cats that live in them.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…”
The summer was hot, the Pimms was cool. On the surface, all seemed somnolent. Alas, in the Universe of Scents that only felines can inhabit, rancor rankled and rattled. The general zeitgeist of the moment was mercurial and one of unrest and of caution.
It took us several months to realise that our new neighbours had moved in not with 1, 2 or even 3 cats but with 5 or 6. It would seem the cats are not allowed indoors (or maybe they are too terrified to venture in due to the 2 big dogs that live there now also).
Oftentimes, sitting outside, especially if enjoying al fresco dining, it feels like living on a Greek Island. Or, a real version of that TV advert where 100’s of cats fiendishly descend upon a home because a certain brand of milk (or cream?) is being served there; awaiting the right moment to pounce and lap up the White Stuff.
The kitties from next door seem to prefer our garden, company and affections (I can’t say food because were we to start on that road, I fear mum and I would end up as something akin to the characters in Grey Gardens. This makes me sad though as they seem ever hungry. Oh to have more pragmatism in life!), to that of their own domain. Three of them in particular make constant attempts to make their paws firmly established under the table here.
All of this is, of course, much to the disquiet of our own 2 kitties and our current lodger, Binky.
The rascality and shenanigans that occur between all of these residents must be witnessed (or heard) to be believed.
The Main Characters:
Sam is as proud and as haughty as the cats in Ancient Egypt must surely have been. They were worshiped there after all. He is also, however, the softest, gentlest of boys and can be a real scaredy cat too.
Sam adopted us; it took a whole year to gain his trust. He’d turn up between 5 and 6 each evening and wait on the window sill. As we put food out for him he’d growl and hiss and would wait in safety until we were back inside, door closed, before making his hungry move.
Back then Sam donned a blue polka-dot collar but as the bitter winter of 2010/11 descended it was evident (if it wasn’t already) that poor ole Sam did not have a home. He sought refuge in a dog kennel we’d erected and made cosy for him.
One snowy December night he collapsed with the cold and we carried him in. That was the first time we’d managed physical contact with him; his fur was matted and dirty. He’s never hissed or growled at us since.
We lost Sam for almost an entire year. Once again Sam’s savvy survival skills served him well and we were all happily reunited last June. (By this time I’d rescued a little scrap of a kitten (Tilly). Sam now professes to be guardian of her (she adores Sam) but we know he secretly teases her.
Sam is savvy too in that he’s always managed to avoid fights and skirmishes with other cats. He doesn’t wear the battle wounds that other cats do who have needed to fend for themselves.
He does bear other scars though. Sam has evidently, at some point, suffered a raw deal at the hands of a man. Bar one or two exceptions, Sam hates men. Men and boots.
A gentle, timid little girlie that squeaks in lieu of a miaow and moves as deftly and as silently as Cat Woman herself.
Tilly is terrified of the cats next door and finds Binky to be blunder-bus. As she skirts around him, hoping not to wake the beast, she growls the whole time.
Tilly doesn’t walk or run; she ‘dances about’, as if moving to a beat that only she can hear.
Many of you will by now know Binky. On this, the eve of Binky’s being re-homed (alas, he has never been embraced by Tilly or Sam and this causes Binky no end of distress), it seems fitting to pay homage to a brave boy who has come through much (as we have with him!).
Farewell Mr Binks. We’ll never forget you! This hasn’t been an easy year for you thus far, we know, but we feel sure that your new Servant is just the right choice for you.
We miss you already, you lovely boy you.
The Sleepy Soul (me)
Ever anxious, creative and nurses a penchant for Pimms&Lemo (only if it has all the trimmings mind!).
Ever patient; ever calm.
Please note, names may have been changed to protect the innocent. (In other words, we don’t know their real names.)
So called because of a triangle of black smut in the middle of his face. The -Ange part worked well because I thought he was a she; I now think she is a he.
Triange is not afraid of heights…
Thus named because he looks like a small hyena.
My cousin named this pretty ginger spice with a white chest.
Olive tries to woo our Sammy – who runs away in terror or looks on with great perplexity. (Much to my consternation it would appear the Olive has not been neutered. Knowing how good cats are at breeding and knowing only too well how cat sanctuarys are packed out to the rafters with unwanted cats and kittens, I find I’m in constant dialogue with myself as to whether I ought to go and politely ask our neighbours if they have ever heard of the PDSA.)
When Sam refuses to get involved with the immoral advances of the riff-raff element, Binky is happy to oblige poor, desperate Olive – despite the fact that he himself has had ‘the snip’. (I have video footage of this but it felt an infringement of Cat Rights to post it. It even felt a tad voyeuristic filming it to be honest!) Sam looks on in sheer disbelief. I swear I hear him muttering, “This used to be a reputable neighbourhood.”
Hard core fighter and defender of any current “Top Cat” Title. GM struts into the garden and the Rocky theme tune strikes up. It must be seriously to his chagrin that he has now been forced to wear a collar with a little tinkling bell.
I can’t decide whether this is because he’s been bringing his Servants too many gifts of the feathery or long-tailed variety or so that his Servants will know when we splash cold water his way. (They’ll hear a rush of tinkling.)
Oh c’mon now, don’t be like that! He inflicts terror into our cats – we don’t drown him; just a little sprinkling to see him on his fighting way.
You maybe familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical CATS, based on the delightful set of poems by T.S. Eliot. As Grizabella enters any scene all the other cats slink off; it’s as if they can’t bear her sorrow. And so it is with Griz. I had gotten into the habit of calling her Gammy-eye, due to her sad, runny eyes (something else to mention in passing to the neighbours?), but her slow movements, combined with her unintentionally seeing off all the other cats made me rename her.
GB is determined to make her home here. If the back door is left open for more than a few minutes, she’ll waste no time in venturing in (she has just pushed her way in as I write), foraging in all three food bowls here. Maybe she could be called Goldilocks too.
Rarely seen. (Does she have a special place within in the home?) No photo.
Yes, yes, I realise that makes only 9 cats but would the title have had the same ring? It had to be 10. And let’s face it, at this rate, there could be new arrivals any day!
Sometimes, Sam prefers to keep an eye on the outdoor proceedings from the safety of indoors. His favourite spot enables him to do this.
Pablo Picasso’s Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier), 1910 Wikipedia.
(This is a post for moodscope.com but I’m putting it here first.)
Yes, I know, I’m all about the “highly sensitive souls” but please, indulge me here for a few posts about very sensitive people. I need to purge these from my own sensitive soul and then, I promise, I’ll not harp on about the personality trait, again.
Despite having known for quite some years that I’m very sensitive and despite the fact that I keep a blog site with the words “sensitive souls” in the title, I’ve only just these past few months read properly Elaine Aron’s book entitled, Highly Sensitive People.
It has validated a lot that I’ve always “felt” (for starters, it’s no wonder my posts are often all about the feelings), but it has enlightened me on a whole lot more besides.
For now though: what exactly is it to be a highly sensitive person? Here’s what it is to me…
I recently read an incredible article explaining why the camera could never, nor will ever, be a match for the wondrous design of the eye. You can read the article in full here but, in brief, Danny Gregory, an artist and author, expresses with clarity that, “a camera sees only from a one-point, locked perspective that creates a single image of a specific vantage point…,” as opposed to the human eyes which “constantly move about…Our impression of what we’re looking at is actually lots of different perspectives all blending into one undulating picture”.
In articulating all of this Danny explained what the Cubism movement was all about and it was this that gripped me. I’ve re-read it again and again:
“Amazingly our brains take all this information and instantaneously create a sense of what we ‘see’. It’s not a single picture but lots of different impressions that are all blended together. (That’s what the Cubists were getting at, trying to record all those different angles and perspectives into a single painting to simulate the way that we see. They were trying to show the distinction between how humans see and what the camera was introducing. People think of Cubism as abstract art but it actually was an attempt to be even more accurate about literally how we see the world.)” (Note to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona: if you had Danny Gregory’s article, especially the bit in parenthesis, up for visitors to read, I can guarantee that more money would be spent in your gift shop. To understand Picasso’s Cubist work (I never have) is to want to buy memorabilia of it. Trust me on this.) See Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ here.
It finally hit me in the small hours one night why I found this cerebration so poignant. For me, it explained perfectly how it is to feel highly sensitive. In the same way that the Cubists were trying express how the eye sees in comparison with the camera, so too the very sensitive soul feels/sees everything as if in 3D; the length, width, height, depth. And trying to convey this can be very challenging. The result often being that the very sensitive soul is misunderstood, just as the Cubist’s art was.
I leave the house and I see, feel, hear; I absorb everything. The cornices, design, era of every building I pass; the character of people by observing their gardens, wheelie bins or recycling boxes; I see pigeons swooping down invisible hills in the sky; aircraft flying overhead; I hear a police siren getting closer; I feel the moods of people that pass me by; the skinny cat from down the road – ‘is it cared for?'; I smell freshly mowed grass, pot from a house I’ve just passed; and I could go on and on and on here.
I’ve always seen this as a positive trait: observant. For the first time in my life, however, I grasp why walking into a room full of people, people I may know well and love, can, at times, be totally overwhelming. It’s a stimulus too many. It’s overpowering and often something has to give: I’ll turn on my heels and head back for the door, or, hide in the loo until I feel I can make another attempt at joining the throng.
It puts me in mind of watching a film in which someone is losing consciousness. As he or she is fading, things become exaggerated to him/her. The music seems distorted, the person talking to him/her become a kind of grotesque, wide-mouthed creature, talking too much and standing too close.
You may have seen the enchanting mini-series ‘Lost in Austen’. There is a very affecting moment where Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, slips through a time rip from 19th-century Georgian England and finds himself in the present day, bang slap in the middle of Oxford Circus (or some equally a frantic paced place in the capital), London. This is a jolting, over-stimulating, terrifying moment for him and its poignancy is never lost on me.
This personality trait makes no one any better, or indeed, any weaker than anybody else. And, as with any trait, there will be varying shades of it. Once again though, doesn’t it go to show how learning about ourselves can be helpful, comforting (I’m not a “a mess”, my senses are just more quickly aroused), and can assist us to become more successful in handling daily life?
I play around with words all the time in my head and sometimes even out loud. What I haven’t done, in a very long time, is play with words on a Scrabble board. So, meet my trusty new tool, designed for morphing Scrabble tiles into other beauteous things (even if they don’t make a winning word score!).
A cork with a pin stuck into it. Hold the pin over a flame and then make holes in plastic Scrabble tiles. Easy peasy.
A little bit of fiddling around with jewellry wire later and et voila… one pair of earrings and a brooch.
I hope no one is looking to make a triple word score anytime soon with my Scrabble board. They may struggle; I’m scrambling the Scrabble!
A book to inspire: ReCraft by Sara Duchars&Sarah Marks
Unable to sleep, as is often my custom, I was perusing the cuteness that is Cute Overload and accidentally reblogged one of their posts (I wouldn’t even know how to do that if I tried!). Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 😣This WordPress malarkey is still work in process for me. Please excuse that dud post folks!
The aptly named Icarus from Greek mythology. We too were able to fly only in a “corridor”, flying neither too high nor too low.
It’s not often I receive a phone call that goes something like this: “Hi Suzy, I’ll be flying my microlight on Thursday morning if you’d like to join me?”
Ever since that phone call I’ve been like a little girl, running around the playground, arms spread out like wings, singing:
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly,
I believe I can fly…
It was a beautiful thing to see my friend’s son (who started learning to fly at just 14), pilot with all the surety and confidence of someone who is doing nothing more than say, tying his shoe lace. And all that flight speak! I was sure at one point he was muttering a foreign language into that headset. I got to wear a headset too! (I’m sure that I’d really be a lot more cool if I could curtail some of my childish excitement. But never may that happen!)
I could ramble on all day about my mingling with the clouds above my home town but I’m not going to. It was something I felt. And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t want to weigh, measure and assimilate everything into words.
Suffice to say, life can be glutted with disappointments, sadness and vexation but cruising in excess of 1000 feet above terra firma, floating smoothly along at 80mph, with views stretching out all around you, further than the eye can see, it felt calming. It really did feel like “everything is going to be ok in the end. And if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
If I just spread my wings
(I can fly)
I can fly
(I can fly, I can fly)
Final checks before take-off
A patchwork quilt
It’s impossible to photograph the beauty of flying above fields of crops, almost ripe for harvest, as they allow the breath of the breeze to sweep and swoon them. It’s like watching an invisible hand smooth through a soft, sheepskin blanket.
Near the air strip, Formby
Sefton Village (the Punchbowl) and then Maghull beyond
One of my favourite roads in the world, Beach Lawn, Crosby Marina and looking towards Bootle and Liverpool Docks
The wealthier part of the Wirral. Spot the swimming pools.
The Wirral, The River Mersey and Liverpool Skyline with the menacing Anglican Cathedral just to the right of it.
The Welsh Hills
The River Mersey looking towards Liverpool
The River Dee and West Kirby
The Mighty Liverpool Docks
Crosby Coastal Path and the pretty, pastel coloured houses of Beach Lawn
Liverpool Road and South Road of Crosby
Following my soaring came a long noon of absorbing (and snoring), after a pleasant lunch at the Pheasant, Hightown, of course.
Holly Golightly adored Tiffany’s and me? I adore epiphanies.
I remember a glorious epiphany I had whilst on a private water taxi from Skopelos to Skiathos. As I sliced my hand through the turquoise waters, donning my shades and head scarf, hoping for an Audrey Hepburn look, I observed the Greek chap who was operating the wee boat. He spoke English with a New York drawl and was a fine looking fellow. Conversing with him, I realised a profound truth: should I ever marry, it would have to be to someone with whom I felt even freer than when single.
So, for example, should I decide to strip naked (I’m actually quite prudish but it just seems to nail my point here) and dance around the garden in the summer rain, just because I love summer rain, my husband wouldn’t fret and flap about what the neighbours might think. He would sigh, (probably wearily), and admit, ‘Ah yes, there goes my Suzy.’ Should I decide to slide down a banister in a public place, wave at passing aircraft or have a big rant over a rotten day he would accept it; accept me. In short, he would let me feel. He’d grasp my need for solitude too.
Whether in a depression or a “horrible high”, the clattering and clanging going on in my mind is of a different quality in sound but equally as distressing. When recovering from either, I find I’m allowed moments of tremendous clarity. Recovery from a depression can do that. It gives that part of us that has been screaming to be heard (our intuition) an attentive audience and sometimes, just sometimes, it affords sufficient silence/quiet to be heard.
It’s like a huge wrecking ball made from feathers and downing coming at you from the middle distance. It hits you hard but not unpleasantly and it comes as if from nowhere.
But does it? Come from nowhere, I mean?
I feel strongly that a depression is our body’s way of telling us that there’s a whole lot of stuff we’ve not yet dealt with. If we listen closely, it can tell us where we’re going wrong; what feeling/s we’re failing to take care of, or worse, ignoring.
“Don’t look for beauty. You must let beauty come to you. Those who look for beauty are mere journalists.”- Borges
Epiphanies cannot be forced. They come from allowing the feelings; taking care of the feelings. Just as a thorny cactus can sprout a colourful flower, even the messiest of feelings can give birth to beauty.
Ah yes, give me an epiphany over a Tiffany diamond any day.