Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lessons my mother taught me – how to be fearless

I have a rubbish memory, so I have no idea how old I was. Older than 10 certainly and probably closer to 14, an awkward age full of hormones and crossing thresholds of responsibility and innocence.  Salem’s Lot was on TV. and for some reason my mother had agreed that we could watch it. Having no interest at all in films and television programmes she had no idea that the program was a film about vampires. I’m guessing that the film had been advertised extensively on TV. and that maybe it had been discussed at school, so I’m sure some relentless nagging on my part was part of the reason why we eventually watched it. It had David Soul in it for goodness sake, of Starsky and Hutch what would be the harm in that...
Trawl the internet and you will find endless horror stories of kids having the absolute crap scared out of them by the film. It looks kind of dated now but at the time, the vampires were a nasty, scary breed and the horror genre had not yet been satirised by post modern 90s. Despite the fact that I often loved Hammer House of horrors films (often shown, bizarrely, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon slot on BBC1 or 2!) I was not immune to the horrors in the classic Stephen King story and I was terrified. One classic scene featured a gaunt and once beautiful vampire scratching at a window, waiting to gain entry and rip David Soul’s throat out.
When we went to bed that night, I uncharacteristically asked my mother if I could sleep in her room. I was not really an easily frightened child and mum didn’t usually encourage that sort of clinginess, but in this instance, she agreed that I could make a little bed for myself next to her bed, on the floor near the window. We got ourselves comfortable and mum turned the light out. I was feeling snug and warm in my little bed, safe in my mother’s protection because everyone knows that the primal instinct of a mother is to protect her babies from any harm, from cold and chicken pox to supernatural vampires. As I was just drifting off to sleep, I heard mum’s voice in the dark.
Mum: “You know why you’re sleeping next to the window don’t you?”
Me: ”No, why?”
Mum: “So that when the vampires come through the window they’ll get you first.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

Epiphany, chaos and misrule...

6th January in Spain and it’s Epiphany. The day when the three kings visited Jesus and offered him gifts. The day when traditionally, Spanish children also receive their gifts from their families although increasingly, many Spanish families are now celebrating Santa Claus on the 25th December too, making it an expensive time of year.
For language geeks like me, epiphany is also an interesting time and word and idea. The concept of an epiphany is the sense of gaining, perhaps quite suddenly, an intricate and perhaps externally influenced understanding of a concept. An epiphany suggests to me a gift from the gods or supernatural elements looking out for us little people and giving us some insight into life the world and everything.
At the same time, however, an epiphany doesn’t come without some sort of prior work. We can’t suddenly grasp huge concepts of physics or matter or the universe without some prior building blocks and thought.
That’s why an epiphany is a great concept. The marriage of some supernatural, magical event or understanding in our lives after some serious thoughtfulness and meditation or maybe some serious physical graft or just some hard bloody work.
An epiphany is a major thing, an opportunity, a light shining. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a big thing in our personal worlds. It may be a decision to change something in our lives, to be more charitable, to be honest or enact a kind moment every day. The small stuff begets the big stuff, emotionally, physically, spiritually.
The celebration of Epiphany also coincides with Twelfth Night, traditionally the time to put the decorations away and prepare for the year ahead. Twelfth Night has been a time for the final acts of chaos and misrule as we celebrate the end of the disorder started earlier in the year (at Halloween).
The origins of Twelfth Night and Epiphany are complex, with religious and pagan ceremonies coming together in this significant date after Christmas. They may mean different things to us all, the end of Christmas, the recognition of a New Year ahead, the return to order after dark winter chaos, the celebration of the birth and recognition of Christ as the son of God.
I don’t think it matters what you may be celebrating or thinking about today, I just hope that we can all take a magical bit of the meaning of those ingredients.
Personally, I’d like to combine a bit of pagan chaos energy with a moment of clarity, an epiphany which will allow me to make changes for the better in the New Year. Perhaps it’s enough; if we believe in it, in combining those elements together today; magic will happen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Husband has been on a seemingly never ending Lego quest this week. It was the after Christmas quest to put some order back to chaos. We have spent far too much money over the last 5 years on Lego. It’s an easy fix for birthdays and Christmas for my son as he loves Lego and Star Wars and Indiana Jones. So the perfect combination is Lego Star Wars figures or space ships
Unfortunately, what seems to happen with Lego is that the space ships are made in an excited flurry on first receipt...then over the course of a few months, they are dropped and bits chip away and friends come to visit and decide that making your own models out of various bits of broken space ship is far more interesting than keeping the original bits together.
Eventually you end up with a pile of Lego in a box, which is fun and leads to hours of imaginative play but what happened to that great space ship?
Thankfully, we are a family with two semi control freak teachers, so we keep the instructions...
So husband has been using the instructions to gather up all those teeny weeny little bits of Lego from the box to recreate the space ships.
We did it last year too....
It’s arduous, takes hours and is satisfyingly wonderful when you manage to get a space ship back!
We’ve been colour coding this year...collecting all the black, dark grey, grey, white, red , brown and cream pieces into separate zip lock plastic backs (easier for finding pieces). Sounds simple doesn’t it? Until you get a bit compulsive about it all...we now have a zip lock bag for pieces of ‘men’ and accessories and another bag for ‘interesting and strangely shaped and transparent’ pieces that don’t necessarily fit into colour coding or ‘men’ accessories categories....
My son is in charge of putting the appropriate men together with the ships and he has a surprisingly good memory for which particular bits belong to each ship (they all look the same to me..)
We’ve turned into LEGO geeks.....
Spent the morning making a space ship today... and yesterday. I suppose that’s what holidays are for when you have young children. Next week will be back to work and normality without the luxury of hours of leisure time and the Star Wars figures will go back to their organic and natural decline back into Lego blocks. Meanwhile my daughter’s Playmobil is far easier to store and play with...although her animal menagerie from last Christmas could do with reconstructing again...