Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February 29th

An extra day in February only comes along every 4 years, that’s once every 1461 days, I’ve just worked it out and hopefully my maths is correct! 

It’s a day for doing something special. As I have no "frog" to propose to - hahahaha - I chose to spend my day with a friend at the cinema, possibly not the best choice to be shut indoors when the weather is so wonderful and spring like but it’s Orange Wednesday and we did watch the most fabulous film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

It has a stellar cast including Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, which is enough to recommend it in itself. 
The story is about a group of pensioners enticed to spend their “autumn years” in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel run by young would be entrepreneur Sonny (Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire). 

Upon arrival the hotel is not as luxurious as it has been portrayed in the advertising.  This doesn’t deter some of the characters from throwing themselves into the local culture, while others flounder in a foreign land. As the story develops we find out more about each character’s secrets and why they decided to take a huge risk upping sticks and moving half way around the globe.

Judi Dench’s character Evelyn has recently been widowed and the film starts with her trying to get through to her internet provider and explain that they can’t talk to the account holder as he has died – gosh I remember that conversation so clearly. The sheer frustration of it.

It is easy to see why Evelyn wants to get away and longs for a fresh start. I was rooting for her from the beginning, hoping India would provide the answers she needed, a place where she fitted in, a happy ending. She also writes a blog of her adventures which is the narrative holding the plot together. It not difficult to see why she was my favourite character.

There are plenty of twists and turns to the story. Nothing works out quite how anyone expects but each character makes self-discoveries along the way.

“It will all be alright in the end and if it isn’t alright it isn’t the end.” Is a profound catchphrase that is uttered throughout, especially when things look bleak and there are inevitable disappointments.

I took comfort from the saying it means I am still somewhere in the middle of my own story too because everything is not quite “alright”!

The film has also rekindled a sense of adventure and a yearning to travel. India might still be a bit exotic as yet but I have already been plotting a trip, maybe somewhere in Europe and I want to take one on my own just like the characters in the story.

Oldest son has holidays booked for this year, youngest son is a definite homebird like his father preferring to stay put.

I need a chance to spread my wings, but unlike those in the film my stay will be shorter I will have to come home to my parental responsibilities. I can’t take off indefinitely like the pensioners whose offspring her flown the nest. That’s the predicament I find myself in.

Being widowed young doesn’t make me unique or special but it does create interesting problems. 

There are others of us out there. But we are a bit rare like a February 29th, in some ways just another day but not something you encounter every day or even every year. 
I tried to check the statistics, am I one in 1461? All I found were dating websites for widows – best not go there again so soon -  I’m off to check out single holidays instead…

...and if you get a chance to go to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel my advice is to take it, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Grow Your Own - part 2 – the result

You may remember on Thursday I started a little experiment to see it I could grow my own handsome prince – well it couldn’t turn out any worse than my hapless attempt at online dating. 

The packaging even promised that if a prince didn’t materialise I would at least be left with a really cute frog.

I dropped him in water and have waited for longer than the required 72 hours.


Hmmm – I’m not sure he’s that cute now he’s expanded, something about his shifty eyes! He’s certainly NOT a handsome prince in my book.

Around the same time I picked a plain green stalk from the garden which I also added to water. This was the result after the same amount of time had passed.

First beautiful daffodil from the garden

Once more God and nature have triumphed over woman desperately trying to get her own way!

And somehow that W word springs to mind again...

Monday, 27 February 2012

It’s Not Fair!

Oh I recognised the expression on oldest son’s face this morning as he slammed the door on his way to school. It’s a carbon copy of the one I used to wear when I thought my little brother was getting away with skiving a day off school for no real reason.

Today youngest son was just a little off colour, complaining of a sore throat and slow to eat his breakfast. After a spoonful of Calpol and a day at home with me he is as bouncy as Tigger!

When I was a child I hated deciding if I was ill enough to stay at home. I was probably frightened of missing something at school. 

Now I have come to realise that some days need to be taken slowly, residual grief still swirls in the ether and if I sometimes need time to regroup why shouldn’t the boys be afforded the same luxury?

That doesn’t stop oldest son from pulling a face, that well worn phrase “it’s not fair” clearly etched on it.

So what isn’t fair?                                                                                                                                                    
It’s not fair I was widowed at 42.

It’s not fair my boys no longer have a dad to guide them as they grow up.

It’s not fair I have more than one spare bedroom in my house and some people have no bed to sleep in.

It’s not fair it’s been raining here today and there are areas in the world where there is drought.

It’s not fair I have food in the fridge, freezer and pantry when others are starving.

It’s not fair I can freely attend church on a Sunday when others are persecuted for their faith.

I can stamp my feet and shout all I like - it’s just not fair!

“Neither is a circus.” My mum would reply. I now know why she had such a stock catchphrase to throw back at us. Some discussions are not worth entering into.

And who said life is fair anyway?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Cinderella’s Shoe Shop

This is a monologue I wrote and performed at a ladies meeting last night. Imagine a woman in her, let’s say, forties sat at a desk.She is wearing a headset enabling her to talk on the phone while typing at a laptop … every so often she pauses to listen to the other side of the conversation…

Hello, Cinderella’s Shoe Shop, Veronica Huntly-Smythe speaking how may I be of service today?

...Yes sir you have dialled the right number, here at Cinderella’s Shoe Shop we offer exclusive matchmaking for discerning royal families.

Each potential princess registers a shoe with us that encapsulates her personality and passion. Princes looking for a soul mate just have to look through our shoe collection and we promise they will find the girl of their dreams. 

Just like the fairy tale the shoe will only fit the prince’s one true love.

…Glass slippers? Oh yes sir we have an extensive range of glass slippers, these tend to be left by the truely romantic brides-to-be.  I shouldn’t comment but some of these do have some airy fairy notions about love and marriage.  But as I said I shouldn’t pass judgement, if you are the sort of prince prepared to give a girl the world…

…oh you are! 

Well let’s not rule anyone out at this stage, how about a more practical princess?  We do have quite a collection of Barbour wellingtons and riding boots registered belonging to some lovely young ladies.  Would you say you are an animal lover?

…that’s quite a collection you’ve got yourself.  A pair of antelopes, a pair of zebras and everything in between.

Now how do you feel about charity working would-be-princesses?  Their shoes do tend to be a bit downtrodden, lots of compassion for the poor and always reluctant to leave a shoe with us.

…Gosh I don’t think we’ve ever had a prince with such a hands on approach to his own charitable causes.  Let me note that down “poor very high on agenda”.

There is a fourth group I should tell you about, a bit like the glass slipper brigade, we have what I like to term the party princesses.  They register their Jimmy Choos, lots of glitter and high heels.

Obviously we’ve just been talking about the underprivileged in society, how do you feel about a woman with money, who likes the high life, diamonds, champagne?

…I see let me add that to your profile “rather partial to a party and likes fine wine”.

Well I seem to be building up a good picture of you, so many of our young ladies registered with us spring to mind for you.  

Actually may I just say your voice is like honey, you sound absolutely charming, it’s a bit delicate but how do you feel about older women?

…that’s very kind of you to say, I might just be throwing my own shoe into the mix.

Now the matching process works like this I can show you a selection of shoes to choose from or you can browse from the whole store at a time convenient to yourself.

But before I make an appointment, I should clarify your royal status.

Can I take your name? 

...Could you spell that for me - J.E.S.U.S.

And you are the prince of?

…And that would be spelt - P.E.A.C.E?

Do you live in a palace?

…A mansion is fine, there’s no discrimination, and that’s “with many rooms”.

And are you in line to inherit the kingdom?

…Kingdom of H.E.A.V.E.N.

…Well everything checks out splendidly at this end, I have an appointment a week next Tuesday if that is convenient? Shall we say 2pm?

…I look forward to meeting you then and introducing you to your future bride.

Have a nice day and thank you for calling!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Jesus is an Action Man

My post the other day on Men, Women and Church sparked a healthy debate on my Facebook page.

This was one of the comments left…

Jesus is the ultimate rebel in lots of ways - anti-establishment breaking the mould countercultural messiah - that is very appealing to follow a guy who walks on stormy water, feeds thousands, faces down a madman, is comfortable teaching in the temple and with prostitutes at the table, who fishes better than fishermen, barbecues on the beach, parties, weeps, heals, bleeds and dies then reveals his majesty and best of all he makes fine wine!

As these words went round in my head I began to form a picture of Jesus as an Action Man, a toy figure from the seventies, I’m not sure if they are so popular now. I grabbed my pen and notebook. 
I hope my poem isn’t in any way blasphemous or that anyone is offended.  There are some striking images and I have added an interesting picture I found which will hopefully make you think and maybe challenge your perceptions. 

I don’t claim to have a definitive picture of what Jesus is like. In fact tomorrow I have a completely different perspective to share with you. 

Jesus is so much more than any words I can write.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, left here on the blog or on Facebook – there is a re-ravelling page anyone can “like” and comment on.

Jesus is an Action Man

Jesus is an Action Man
With crew cut hair you have to touch
Eagle eyes
And scars

Jesus is an Action Man
Not afraid to be stripped naked
Or thrown in with the Barbie dolls
With their high heels, spaghetti straps and painted lips

Jesus is an Action Man
A rebel
Parachuting from a bedroom window
Dragged through mud
Wrestling with dinosaurs
Challenging the learned minds

Jesus is an Action Man
Swimming with sharks
Walking on bath water

Jesus is an Action Man
Turning over tea cups at a tea party
Yet making sure none go hungry

Jesus is an Action Man
Not pushed around

Jesus is an Action Man
Who survives being rejected
Entombed in a box in the loft

Jesus is an Action Man
Who rejoices in the resurrection
Unpacked at last
A re-discovery of the fact
Jesus is an Action Man