Friday, February 29, 2008

Turning corners

Reasons to be cheerful

Today I feel nearly normal health wise. Well, apart from an interesting electrical crackly noise in my right ear every time I swallow. I am a bit … you know, snottily congested still.

During the day I went to look at my RSS feeds and found Lane had updated and I discovered she’d bestowed an award on me. I beamed big and wide. Thank you Lane. I bestow it on Hesitant Scribe, who is just brilliant, brave, honest ... I could go on, but don't want to embarrass her.

I told Husband I’d got an award, and he asked if it was “a miserable sod award? ;-)” because my last two postings had been a bit depressive. “I was sick” I said, but even his jibes didn’t stop me feeling pleased.

I had a meeting this morning and I picked up quite a number of jobs, but my web assistant is working out very nicely after only two lessons. I must be a bit of a dolt because it took me much longer than that. But today I don’t care if I’m a twit because my web assistant is working out and that makes me smile ear to ear.

Son was a vile teenager from the Dark Side this morning getting up for school, but when he came home this afternoon he was charming boy. Lovely. You can never be sure which boy will turn up.
I started writing the novel the day before yesterday and that bloody demon came back BUT I persevered in little bits and yesterday he was quieter. Today I did some writing (planning, really) but he was quiet. And I feel less crap. So that makes me feel good.

This morning I went investigating after Laurie raved in her blog about a programme she’d seen on Pete Seeger. She was enthusing about how great it was even if you don’t like folk music … which I do, but know very little about. Then she mentioned some of the other people on the programme one of whom was Johnny Cash, who I love. So I went surfing to YouTube and I found this, below. It produced a great big smile from me this morning and I’ve been singing and grinning it ever since. Now, I’m not old enough to have been around when it was recorded, but it was one of the few singles my parents had.

And finally, I can't believe I've worked out how to get this YouTube thingy here. I know I'm supposed to be a webmaster, but you know, in this non profit, voluntary sector, beggars can't be choosers. So they got me and my IT doltery. Very cheering and webmasterly.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

War Child pt 2

Despite feeling all sick and bad, I've been working on my War Child piece. Even if it's a pile of crap I've got to be brave and submit stuff. I am so afraid of appearing a tit and having you all fall about laughing at the idea that I might think I can write. The irony is not lost on me: given my 'You're Not The Only One' piece is about fear, scaredycatness but doing it anyway...)
My viral infested head got further befuzzled trying to work out what my deadline is in Bangkok for a midnight deadline on 29 February in the UK while you are seven hours behind not six because you're still in wintertime...
Confusing isn't it?
I went to Peach's blog and was delighted to see the deadline has been moved to 9 March. But then felt pissed off that it comes with a plea for funny ones, which mine was (assuming I can crowbar the humour back in.)
Oh, any old excuse for procrastination. Just get on with it.
Why won't Blogger put my paragraphs where I tell it to?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I must be nicer.
I must be nicer.
I must be nicer.

I like the word nice – maybe not to use in writing – but it says what I mean. I am a nice person; not perfect, but mostly I am nice, in a kind of bland and average way.

I’m no Mother Teresa but nor am duplicitous. I try not to judge too quickly and if I do, I try to give people a chance, even a second chance. I sit uncomplainingly next to the mad aunt at the wedding or the neighbour with halitosis. I’m kind.

Today I’m sick. I have been since Sunday evening. I’ve only got a rotten cold, but I feel crappy. Add to that that a chronic grumbly belly that I finally went to the docs about and returned with three different tablets. I feel horrid.

Today in Bangkok it’s hot. It’s always hot in Bangkok and most days I need air con in my office. Today I need it, but it’s also too cold all at the same time so I am wearing a moth holey cashmere jumper that was so expensive (despite being a sale item) I refuse to get rid of it (Can you see the holes from there? No, well I’m not offending anyone then.) I am – and this is a first in Thailand even for me – wearing sheepskin slippers that I bought in the UK. They are delicious; comforting and like eating chocolate.

That’s how I know I’m sick. So why, if I know I am sick, am I being so horrible to myself?

I must be nicer to myself.

When I am well again I will decide if I can’t write for toffee; if I am going to give up trying to write a book. Not yet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Edit, Edit, Contextualise

Having missed out on Messages, I started work on a piece of writing at the weekend for War Child. It was based on a letter I wrote two years ago to my best friend, the High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation, which made her laugh a lot. It was a single incident about facing fears and the power and strength you feel afterwards. I had to put it into context and make it less aimed at her.

And what do you know? As I contextualised the story, I wrote away every single funny bit and it turned into the most boring piece of writing I’d ever seen.


Sunday, February 24, 2008


Today is … Sunday.

The end of half term.

Daughter’s 12th birthday. OMG. Where did that go? Just a few minutes ago I had small children… I turned round a couple of times and they’re both nearly teenagers.

Today, at the Londoner Pub for Sunday lunch I decided that I loathed my lead character’s name: Ursula. Sorry to any Ursulas out there. I don’t actually loathe the name – I like it, that’s why I chose it, but you know what? It just isn’t her. It’s not right and so I’m thinking Julia or Emily. What do you think?

I do have a personal preference here, but would be interested in your opinions. After the hilarious kerfuffle on A.Writer’s blog a few weeks ago here and here about names, I thought I’d run them past you all. ‘Lucy’ would be a perfect name for her … but obviously I can’t do that!

Oooh, and check out this photo of Son and Daughter celebrating Daughter’s birthday with the Londoner staff.

(Sorry for the blurry faces: at Son's insistence)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Amateur Alert!

Just because I stopped posting about that article, doesn’t mean I got it finished. Until now, that is.

For those of you who don’t remember, I was asked to do an article by Andaman Discoveries for the English language daily newspaper The Bangkok Post about my trip to the sustainable tourism project. It was one of four articles – the other three being for magazines that are just grateful to get something to fill the pages…

The Bangkok Post article was sent off before Christmas and while I was away on my Skyros holiday I received an email saying that the editor had said it read like a PR piece, and if it could be rewritten to include more of this, and less of that, she would still consider it. I wasn’t able to do anything about it then but told them that I’d redo it in the New Year.

Good gawd, what went wrong? Well, I tried to use the framework of what I’d done to tweak it to their brief – cutting corners? Well, yes, I guess. I tried jamming the square article into a round hole, but it just wasn’t going, despite every effort on my part to persevere. Eventually I accepted that I had to start from scratch, but still I held on to one or two paragraphs that I believed were relevant. Eventually (again) I realised that I’d somehow fallen in love, somewhat myopically, with certain bits of writing from the previous article. The sooner I admitted that they were wrong and didn’t fit the journey for that article, I was nearly there.

It was agonising and I’ve learned, but reckon I haven’t done myself any favours. It’s taken me six or so weeks to deliver; I’ve properly cocked up and come across as a right amateur.

And now, if it comes back not right again, I think I have to say farewell to my fledgling career in journalism …

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lots of links

I was just reading the Friday Novel Racers’ Coffee blog, brought to us this week by BE Sanderson and I’ve ground to a halt before making my own comment.

The reason I stopped is to come here and write about something that’s been in my head for a week or more. I suddenly realised that I haven’t done it and while I know others have posted about it and you’ll already have seen it, I want to add my bit too.

If you look left to my sidebar, you’ll see a rather striking book jacket for Caroline Smailes’ ebook, Disraeli Avenue, which you can download here. The book jacket has been made into a widget by the clever and talented Stray (who I know through a non cyber life too). You should all know by now that Disraeli Avenue tells back stories about the folk we met through Jude in Caroline’s debut novel, In Search of Adam. It’s a tough subject, exquisitely told.

Caroline is asking where possible we make a donation to One in Four, a charity that helps people who have experienced sexual abuse. Research shows that one in four children experiences sexual abuse before the age of 18. Any child being abused is too many, but that’s a horrible number to contemplate. What that makes me feel as a mother, aunt, godless parent for the children around me, is terror and fury.

If you want you can add your own secret to the widgety thing that Stray made – I’ve done it. I keep looking at that widget; I’ve sat looking at for quite some time, with the secrets rotating past… And it makes me realise that even without any incidence of abuse, we humans are fragile creatures. We’re full of anxiety, vulnerability and fear. We’re happy too, which is great, but we don’t always feel we deserve it.

So if you’re in a position to donate, please do. And don’t forget to download Caroline’s ebook Disraeli Avenue, too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WARNING: snakes below

With the excuse of needing to do some novel research I took L, our backpacker, to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute and Snake Farm today. I LOVE the snake farm.

Thailand is home to more than 180 venomous snakes (Eeeek). The farm opened in 1923 to manufacture anti-venoms from a dependable supply of healthy snakes to treat snake bite victims in the region. As well as being a great tourist trip (you get to hold a python at the end) the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute is an important research centre. It makes rabies immunoglobulin, manufactures a tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) and collaborates with the World Health Organisation.

And it’s slap bang in the middle of Bangkok.

Since I was last there (a year ago) they’ve opened a new building and display, so I was pretty excited to see the new facilities. L and I pottered around the grounds looking in the snake housing. Sometimes there are piles of gigantic snakes lying on top of each other and in other containers you had to play ‘hunt the snake’. I get quite uncomfortable at finding a display cabinet with no resident inside; it makes me a tad nervous. Some of the snake enclosures have glass in them, and others are recessed in the ground and open in a kind of snake pit environment (apparently these snakes can’t climb hence the lack of barrier! Eeeek again.)

We stopped by a third container that had a double layer of metal grid keeping the snakes in. I pushed my nose up to the grid to see inside, while L grumbled at not being able to photograph the residents. All of a sudden something fell on my shoulder and I start screaming and dancing like a girl, which makes L start squealing and hopping on the spot too. It only lasts for a second or two before I realise it was a large leaf, but it got my blood pumping.

In the centre of the public part of the snake farm is the recessed snake pit and on either side is concrete seating in amphitheatre style, where they do the snake handing demonstration. ‘Oooh’ I say to L, ‘I’ve never sat in the front row; let’s get a seat early and you’ll get the best pictures from there.’

The first snake in the handling demo is the largest venomous snake in the world, the King Cobra, brought out by a Thai who looked about thirteen. ‘He’s an experienced handler’ the lady taking the demo said, and I felt sure it was okay, because he was wearing rubber boots to protect his feet! (Thai health and safety is very … well, on with the story). I’m sure it’s all part of the show but that King Cobra – he got a bit frisky. The underage handler starts taunting the snake a bit to show us his hood flare out in aggressive manner, and then he appears to lose his grip on the back end of the cobra. ‘Don’t move’ the lady shouts at us ‘they sense movement.’ King Cobra slithers about, ably demonstrating flared hood defensive mode. He rears up three feet high and coming horribly close to my toes, which I can’t move because they’re not well protected in flip flops! L and I are backing into the legs of the people behind us. Juvenile handler boy appears to be unable to regain control of deadly, stroppy looking snake. Just as I beg, out loud, to please catch that critter, surely spoiling the video of the folk with the cramped legs behind us, adolescent handler boy catches King Cobra’s head from behind and he is dramatically whisked away.

Anyway, it’s all extremely exciting; my adrenalin levels are sky high. I discover (slightly to my disappointment) that the characters in my book are most likely to encounter in Bangkok this rather diminutive green snake. However, as I process the information ‘She is little but she is fierce’ comes into my head, a quote from Shakespeare for how I describe one of my characters. Not so bad after all, as this little emerald reptile is a pit viper – “venomous and dangerous” says my snake book – rather like the character in my story.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Been a bit busy

I didn't think I needed to post that it was half term here too.

I thought I'd be blogging as normal, but apparently not. Daughter, without lots of exercise, is climbing the walls; much stroppier than normal and more easily wound up by Son. So I'm doing a fair amount of being wound up by both of them.

We have a 'backpacker' here too. That's a sort of general traveller term in our house to mean, a friend/son/daughter/cousin of someone we know who's coming to Thailand. We offer to put them up. L is totally lovely, Canadian and the cousin of the wife of a friend from University. Got that? So I've been out and about with her and not blogging...

Anyway, I need to blog - I do - I NEED it. So I've come to tell you that today I had a blogger meet... Carol and I met with Mel, who lives here. She's come to Bangkok for an interview and it was lovely to meet her. I love blog friends. I thought the internet was for saddos and pervs, but I'm loving it and I'm not either. Honest. Well, maybe a saddo...

I think that might be all I've got to say today. Ooh, apart from, here's a picture of Mel in Starbucks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


We went back to the hospital yesterday about Daughter’s broken arm. I got to look at the original x-ray which was interesting because the break is worse than I thought. She must’ve really thumped it hard on that poolside.

Before we saw the doctor we had to go to the x-ray department. Daughter confessed that it was a bit stinky inside her arm, so she let me take the cast off while we waited so she could wash her arm before having the x-ray.

Dear God, it wasn’t just ‘a bit stinky’ – what was that malodour? As I unpeeled the bandages I was convinced she’d gone gangrenous in there, but no apart from a few blisters from the splint there was no gangrene. So why did it smell like a colony of rodents had crawled in and died?

Oh, yeah, because this is Bangkok; it’s hot and sweaty here and it’s been covered for two whole weeks. ‘Where is the splint?’ Dr V asked, having made the decision that she needed it plastered again. ‘Uhum, I took it off for the x-ray.’ I said. ‘Yes, but where is it now?’ he persisted. ‘Well, actually, I put it in the rubbish bin because it smelt very, very bad.’ I held my fingers to my nose in case he was in any doubt. He looked very upset at this flagrant waste of resources.

I’d like to tell you that there was a toxic waste team surrounding the bin I put the plaster and bandages in when we walked past, but that would be a lie. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised though.

The worst news from the trip is that he wants to see daughter and her arm in three weeks! Three weeks in plaster with the weather getting hotter and more humid. OMG. I’m going to have to break out the Chanel perfume to cover up Eau de Dead Rodent.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Mum

Now it's my Mum's turn. I rather think that I maligned her in my post here. She doesn't tell me I should come home nor does she give me a hard time about it. She recognises that it's my life and I'm living it, but I know how much she misses me and wants us to come back to the UK.

My Mum:

  • Is obsessed by Shakespeare. (And is a bit of a lovie; okay quite a lot of a lovie.)
    Applied, without her parent’s knowledge, by audition to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) when she was a young. She was offered a place but because she didn’t get a scholarship and her parents weren’t interested she couldn’t go.
  • Started Marden Theatre Group because there wasn’t a group, and she wanted to continue with her hobby of drama. She’s never viewed her hobby as amateur.
  • Is passionate about costumes. She has an enormous theatrical wardrobe in the attic. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of period costumes but can’t remember if she took her tablets that morning.
  • Husband says that when he goes to their house she always asks him to move boxes, say from the attic to the dining room. Six months later she’ll ask him to take boxes somewhere else, maybe from the dining room to the attic. He has no idea if they are the same boxes or if anything has happened to them between his visits. They are nearly always full of costumes.
  • Hates cooking.
  • Is forever falling over the cats and dog, and shouting ‘Oh my God’ or ‘Jesus’ or ‘Bloody Hell’ in a completely over the top manner.
  • Once wrote a history essay for me because I was overwhelmed with work due at school the next day. My teacher marked it in class and then called out loud: “Jenny! This is excellent; wonderful.” I expect she was bitterly disappointed by any future essay I handed in.
  • Is the kindest, most generous person. Every week for months she drove a woman she knew to see her husband in a care home because the woman had no transport and the buses took all day. She waited and then brought the woman back again. She met another woman she knew in the village whose husband had weekly treatment at the hospital 10 miles away. She took them up to the hospital each time they needed to go for several months.
  • She has several friends, on their own now, who are referred to as the Sunday lunch club. They come every week for Sunday lunch to my parents’ house.
  • Has written/adapted several plays which she has produced and directed at a local men’s prison.
  • Has written a play that Radio 4 rejected.
  • Thinks technology is ridiculous. Thinks she has kept up with progress by learning to send faxes. Would rather use her old manual typewriter than the laptop my Dad and Brother bought her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Dad

Last week I said I would blog about my parents one at a time. Today is my Dad's turn.

My Dad:

  • rarely swears, but when he does he runs together convoluted combinations of really atrocious expletives.

  • brought my sister and me a cup of tea every school day morning to wake us up for school. It became a condition that the man I married would selflessly provide me with endless cups of tea. (I failed.)

  • catches spiders in his hands. He shakes his hands gently to stop them from biting him. Eeeewugh. (Husband stamps on spiders since he’s a bit scared too – although less so since his six year old Son challenged him with: “Dad, if you hold the tarantula, so will I”.)

  • is amazingly talented with his hands. For many years he’s made props for the local theatre group’s performances. So when I go home, this is the kind of thing I chance upon:

  • Every year (bar one when he was ill) he has made a Christmas Creature for the children of the family. Until we had our own children this was my sister and I until we were around 30! Christmas creatures are made, Blue Peter style, from cardboard tubes, fizzy drink bottles and are decorated in the style of: aliens, cats, dogs, snowmen, dinosaurs, etc. They always have a hollow in their bodies which is filled with small toys and gifts. They are placed under the tree and given out with presents. Every year it’s a top secret what creature he’s made.

  • (This Christmas Creature is Flicka, the dog. If you turn her round, you can open her bottom! and presents are hidden inside her hollow. It's quite scary how Dad has captured her neurotic expression so brilliantly. )

  • It never mattered how many friends we invited, how late in the day, my parents always found enough food, and pulled up another chair. Our friends were always welcome.

  • Has written his memoirs.

  • He’s a fabulous cook. He’s always does Christmas meals and Sunday lunches but since he retired he has done nearly all the cooking.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where do babies come from?

Lucy Diamond made me laugh last week with a story of her daughter’s bedtime delaying tactics. You know this question is coming; it’s inevitable but you’re not quite sure when or how it’s going to come and so you’re never quite prepared when it does.

I thought it was rather clever to ask this at bedtime because being responsible Mummies, we do want to get the answer correct. And Mummy (if she’s anything like me) is weak at bedtime and longing for wine. So Lucy fudged it.

This reminded me of my own spectacular fudging of the issue while dealing with the same situation when Son was three (he was somewhat precocious). Son’s question related to 101 Dalmations’ Pongo and Perdita.

Son: Where did Perdita’s puppies come from?
Me: From her tummy.
Son: How did they get there?
Me: Pongo put them there.
Son: *Confused* How?

Well, anyway, she says, fudging the issue again, I’m too embarrassed to continue with that story, because apparently you shouldn’t mention willies for some years yet, but no-one had told me that. Flash forward ten years to last Saturday when I took son shopping, and we were approached by this group of lovely Thais just outside MBK shopping mall:

If you filled out a piece of paper saying what you thought of sex education, they gave you a free gift. This is a good thing, I thought, Son is nearly fourteen, here’s a good introduction to talking about IT. I filled out a little heart shaped piece of paper and received my gift: hmmm, lots of stickers saying things about safe sex etc. This is a good thing, I reminded myself. Oooh, look in the gift bag, a heart shaped jelly sweet, and what’s that? Oh, a lolly pop and what’s … oh … that? Oh. It’s … a condom. Oh. This. Is. A. Good. Thing. We have to have these conversations.

And so what followed was a conversation in which Son told me stuff about ‘kids at school’ and asked questions and stuff, and really I found it’s much easier at this age. A bit more grown up and honest, and not a real cock up (sorry) if I mention willies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I went shopping to MBK with Son yesterday.

Can you spot what made us chuckle?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Books, books and more books

Ooooh, I’ve been book shopping. I wiped out the knowledge of my towering ‘To Be Read’ pile at home and bought some more. (I was in Asia Books this time (not Kinokuniya) and they had an offer of ‘buy three get a fourth free’ – so really who could resist?)

I’ve bought:

My Favourite Wife by Tony Parsons
I bought this because it’s about an expat family in Shanghai. (Research, you see! Know your market: recognise your work in the context of the modern publishing industry… persuaded?) And anyway, I like his books … although I do get him terribly mixed up with Nick Hornby.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I’m almost too ashamed to say out loud that I have never even seen the film. *flinches while everyone shouts in disbelief.* I know, I know, it’s shocking.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I first heard about this book from Liz Novel Racer Fenwick. And I’ve continued to be told what a good read it is. I didn’t bother to read the blurb and still have no idea what it’s about.

Marley & Me by John Grogan
What can I say about this? Animal stories aren’t really my thing but it does have a cute Labrador on the jacket, I grew up with yellow and black labs and I keep seeing it on library thing on the blogs. I read the blurb and thought it would make some nice light reading. I've just finished this; it made me laugh out loud.

Afterwards by Rachel Seiffert
I thought this was a wildcard until I read about the author inside the jacket, but that was after I got it home. I was attracted initially by the cover (YUP), read the blurb and committed. She was Booker shortlisted with her first novel The Dark Room and Granta have named her ‘Best of Young British Novelists.’ Not really a wildcard then.

Yes, I know I bought five when the offer was for three/four, but I chose Afterwards as a fourth and then when I decided on Marley and Me as well, I found I couldn’t put Afterwards back on the shelf… cos, well, they were restacking the shelves and there was no longer any space left, so I had to get that too. See?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Writers in Bangkok

I went to an organised lunch yesterday. (No comments about ‘ladies who lunch’ please!)

We had a speaker, Anette, come from the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group to promote their book ‘Bangkok Blondes’ which was published about two months ago. I knew her already from bookcrossing.

Most of the books written by farangs (westerners) published here in Bangkok are tales by men of men falling in love with bar girls or how they ended up in the Bangkok Hilton (prison). They don’t have much kudos. Some may be self published and most aren’t of a very high standard.

‘Bangkok Blondes’ is published by Bangkok Book House and according to local media is doing rather well (sorry, English understatement happening there) It’s doing very well. The blurb says: “Very few books on Thailand are written by women. Bangkok Blondes is one of the first. It reflects the lives of creative women who live and write in Thailand – *The Bangkok Women’s Writers Group.”

It also says “The BWWG* … has been meeting in bars, coffee shops and shopping malls twice monthly since 2000…”

So why have I never told you all about it? Well, I’ve been. I went about 18 months, maybe two years ago and I went two or three times. The reason I gave, when asked why I didn’t continue to go, was because I didn’t like it.

I think I felt a fraud. I didn’t feel like a writer … and I do … a bit … now. Back then, the idea of showing anyone anything I’d written appalled me. But I’ve done that now and while it's scary, so far no-one’s said ‘blimey JJ, you’re a crap writer.’

I’ve been toying about going back and so today I asked Anette to put me on the mailing list again. I will report back how I got on. It would be great to meet other writers in Bangkok, now that I feel a bit more qualified.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year

It's become something of a tradition on my blog to post pictures of celebratory decorations out and about in Bangkok. Or is it a habit?

I don't take the pictures to blog them, I take them because I so love to see the decorations that these big malls produce. (I once harboured the desire to do these kind of displays as a job.) The difference between here and the UK seems to be that here there is still a generous budget for this PR.

These two are taken inside and outside at Siam Paragon Mall.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kind and Lovely People

While I was writing the doorbell rang.

It was Khun Cherd. My parents were guardians to his son while he was at boarding school in England. Khun Cherd divides his time between Chiang Mai (Thailand’s second city in the north) and Bangkok. His son is back in the UK doing a photography degree. (My parents having Thai students was nothing to do with our coming to Thailand.)

I looked disgusting because I wasn’t expecting visitors. It was a writing day. No make up, old baggy clothes, glasses. My hair was washed, but bad hair days, when I scrape it up and pin it back, are rather tidier than clean washed hair. With clean hair I look like I’m wearing an unwieldy curly mop on my head that’s threatening to eat my face.

He brought me a present which I wanted to show you. The box is made of coconut leaves and the sweet things inside are wrapped individually in another, more papery kind of leaf and garnished with a little bit of raffia. They are called kar-ai-mai (or something) and are black sticky and totally delicious. But aren't they beautifully presented?

He was completely charming, promising to bring a bag for Daughter and green tea for Husband next time he comes to Bangkok. He left me with four phone numbers in case we should ever need help.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My folks

Carol-a Crayon, my friend and partner-in-design, said to me last week ‘you don’t talk about your parents very much…’

I thought about it, and she’s right I don’t talk about them much, but I do think about them. And when I do it’s tinged with sadness and guilt so I keep it in my head.

The simple fact is that I am breaking my Mum’s heart by living in Thailand – or by not living in the UK. I can’t bear to think too hard about them because I know how sad she is about me being so far away and how much she misses me.

(And if I’m honest, it’s not only my Mum.)

I don’t know how my Dad feels because he’s a man in his 70s, and he hasn’t been encouraged to talk about his feelings. I do know that he took his profession extremely seriously, and so did Mum and so they both understand that Husband’s job is the Thing We Have To Consider.

The opportunity to move overseas for a job – and therefore have some support – isn’t offered to everyone all the time. To live in a culture so different from your own it may as well be the moon, is a privilege. It’s not easy to do and I am proud to have adjusted.

Knowing that I’m enjoying this time in my life, but that it is something that makes some of my family and friends unhappy, is very hard to live with. It’s distressing to know that I am wilfully causing someone pain simply by living my life.

Every time we converse, embedded in the conversation is the never asked question: when are you coming home? Those unasked words reverberate around other words, enquiries, and conversations. I hear it in her tones, bouncing between the lines. Sometimes she might ask ‘Are you able to get home for Christmas/Easter/summer?’ She might ask again a couple of weeks later – in the hope that the answer has changed.

And no, she won’t come to us. She won’t fly.

So I’m going to post about my parents; one at a time.

Monday, February 04, 2008

No more blah

You know when you can’t really grumble, but still you feel a bit blue because of a couple of crappy things happening over a day or two? And you know it’s ridiculous to feel like that about those things, but you can’t shake yourself out of it…

And then something(s) happens, and your mood turns in an instant?

No? Oh it’s just me then; I am most fickle.

I have gone from a bit blah to ridiculously cheered up.

First: The lovely Laurie, whose blog I discovered quite recently (I think) through Lane (doggie loving writers) and just instantly loved it (three dog blog) has given me an award: A Big E for Excellent. Thank you Laurie: I am posting it with pride. And I can nominate 10 people to receive the Big E.

Then, after a long afternoon at website where the lovely Andrew solved my many computer problems (though not our internet at home, which Husband is rather worryingly trying to fix as I type!) I picked up my post (real post).

And completely gorgeous Helen sent me some articles for research purposes because we’d been emailing about an article I might be trying to write … anyway, slipped betwixt the card were two packets of Galaxy Minstrels. OH MY GOD: thank you Helen, you lovely woman.

(And, I just have to tell you that Husband has been sweating and a cursing in his head, and I gave him one of my packets of Galaxy Minstrels ... and ... they are magic: two minutes later our secure internet wifi thingy was up and running.)

My ten people are:
Hesitant Scribe, Angie, Yvonne, Jen, Pacha, JonM, Leigh, Carol-a Crayon, Liz, and Liane

Internet Mai Sabai

Sharp eyed folks out there might have seen that my last post was courtesy of my lovely, lovely (have I told you how much I love and adore it?) Blackberry.

That’s because our internet was misbehaving at home. Son had a new game he was subscribing to online, and he’d bought at upgrade, so sod’s law said our internet would fall over and flatly refuse to get up again.

We tried all the usual fixes, of turning it off and on again (this is a very technical IT trick I’ve learned because I’m lucky enough to have Husband who works in IT). Son got cross, whined, blamed everyone, hassled Husband who grumbled and whined back, before pressing the RED (on No Account Press) button that wipes out our internet account. And if you think it’s tough dealing with internet providers in the Western world, you should try it in Thailand! Because my Thai is restricted to ‘Where is the toilet?’ ‘Turn left/right here’ ‘Go straight’ ‘Vegetable/Chicken Fried rice please’ ‘Beautiful’ ‘pain’ ‘not well’ and ‘well, thank you.’ None of which helps much, although I think I could say ‘Internet, mai sabai’ which roughly translates to ‘Internet not well.’

So now, believe it or not, I’m sitting in the foyer of our local hospital because I came to pick up a prescription. They have wifi here … but I can’t stop and visit all my blog friends because I’ve got a website lesson now. Hopefully the internet will be fixed and I'll be around for a cup of tea.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Poor Daughter

Far, far too early for a Saturday, Daughter went off to school yesterday for swimming training. She's been training hard to qualify for a swim competition in Perth, Australia and these time trials were her chance to qualify. Daughter was determined to make the time.

About half past ten in the morning we had a phone call saying Daughter had hit her wrist on the edge of the pool while doing backstroke. They thought it was broken. Because of a big basketball competition in progress at school, one of the hospitals was very conveniently on site. So she was put in an ambulance and Husband was dispatched to meet her at the hospital.

I got myself dressed with plans to get on with some work. I couldn't help thinking of the first time Daughter had broken her arm when she was about four. Her arm was swelling before me, so I rushed her to casualty at High Wycombe. Every time any member of the hospital staff approached her or even came near her, she emitted piercing screams of agony. They can't have been very busy, or perhaps they couldn't put up with her histrionics, because we were rushed through like royalty. She left the proud owner of a cast all ready for signing.

About a week later, her godless parents were staying with us and the children were upstairs playing. Suddenly Daughter appeared at the door with a triumphant expression on her face. She looked like a little elf, in a lime green A-line dress. Her hair was cut in a cross between a bob and pudding bowl as we attempted to keep the regular infestation of nits under control.

My addled brain tried to work out the meaning of the triumph on her face. Until eventually I spotted that she was holding her arm cast in the other hand! The swelling had subsided so much, she'd just slipped it off. Off we went back to the hospital and in no pain at all, we were rewarded with a three hour wait to get her replastered.

So thinking about the last time and worrying about this time I achieved nothing.

Daughter and Husband got back from hospital after lunch. Broken ulna; no gym for THREE MONTHS, two cancelled competitions one of which was Singapore. No swimming for three to four weeks, and then only leg work. No swim competition in Perth because despite trying four times to qualify, her time when she hurt her arm was forty milliseconds off the qualifying time.
Sent via BlackBerry® from AIS

Friday, February 01, 2008

Name and Shame

It's no wonder I'm not getting much done is it?

Look at the state of my desk.

And peek down and notice the stuff under the desk where my legs and feet should be able to stretch out. I'm probably developing DVTs as I type.

Sadly, there's nothing in the Flake tin under the desk.

I'm going to try really hard to clear it all up soon. And then I can come back and post tidy desk pictures.

I wonder what I'll find.

(Daughter came to talk to me after school yesterday. She sat down, peered at my office chair and announced: 'You need to clean your chair. It's got micro-organisms growing on it.')