on endings and new beginnings

Never a New Years morning,

never an old year ends,

without somebody thinking of someone,

old times old loves old friends

The end of the year is almost upon us, tomorrow is the day Mum used to send us kids to the window to look for the man with as many heads as there were days left in the year, how we stared waiting for a many headed man, only to realise eventually that there was in fact only one day left.

How much store do we all put on the New Year?  On the chance to start again, make good the wrongs of the year we were so hopeful for 365 days ago.  What does that tell us?  It tells us that this is a great time for reflection, for considering what has gone before and what we would like the future to bring, it also tells us that unless we make things happen things will never change.

It is fair to say the past year has been full of momentous change for me and for my family.  Nothing is as it was this time last year.  We live in a different house, I have a new job, we have lost some of the most important people in our world, and we have welcomed a darling new baby into our family. The feelings overwhelming me this time last year are not important today.  It is good I didn’t know what was to be, another of Mum’s sayings come to mind.  ‘we never know what is in the pot boiling for us’ and frankly if we had I wonder if we would have had the strength to deal with it.

The constants do remain.  The love for family and friends, the weather, yes it has snowed in December again, and we had sun in the summertime.  The world is a fluid place with small decisions leading to big changes and big decisions often leading to not a lot.

Today I have spoken to three dear friends who are separately dealing with unimaginable difficulties,  Watching loved ones who are ill, making bad choices and being powerless to help.  Each of them are wondering why? What have they done wrong?  How can this be happening?  To them all I say, we don’t know any of those answers, but we do know one thing.

We cannot choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we deal with it.  In the worse situations of all there is still some good.  We need to find the good, focus on it and make it the centre of our being. It is not easy to do, there are times that test the best of us, but, it is always an option.

So, as we say goodbye to one year, and welcome in another, really the change is within us, the date on the calendar is just that, a date, and while reflection is good, we should remember that now is all we have, tomorrow is promised to not one of us. So lets make each day the best ever day, for the next year, we have three hundred and sixy five chances to seize the good and be happy.  May it be so for you all.

Merry Christmas everyone

Advent Day 24

The last Advent post of 2014, thanks to those who have read each one, it means a lot that you are all out there following my ramblings!

Today is Christmas Eve, and the excitement is running through the house.  Daughter has a hangover but is in a good mood, she has popped out shopping with lovely boyfriend.  Family are arriving later and I am on track with the cooking, wrapping and decorating.  It is nice to take five minutes to write a few lines to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Good New Year ahead.

May your day be full of nice things and be spent with people who love you,  may all the presents under the tree be filled with promise and lovely stuff.  May you eat good food and drink a drop or two of nice wine.  May you reflect on what is good and great and all things we have to be happy about.

Happy is contagious, no matter what else is happening there is always a happy choice to be made, make sure you always find your happy and make the most of every minute.

I look forward to writing more in the next year and am so glad you are all on this journey with me.

For the Advent song on Christmas Eve I have chosen a carol, not because I am in any way religious, but because this is the song that sums up Christmas for me as a child.  It is the first carol I learned the words to and still it can make me so happy I can cry.  I am back at church with Mum by my side, I am in the school hall, singing in the choir and I am in a dozen children’s performances watching my own little ones act out the Christmas story. Merry Christmas and may Peace be with us all this Christmas.

on Christmas number ones

Advent Day 22

In the days before X factor madness the Christmas number one was a really big deal.  Sometimes it was a hit of the day, by the most favourite artist, I am sure the Beatles had their share, but sometimes it would be a speciality tune made for the Christmas market.

I couldn’t have an Advent of tunes without including some of the classics, so in a bonus of tunes today I am going to list my top three all time Christmas novelty Number One tunes.

In at number three is Ernie, Benny Hill made us laugh until we cried as kids, loved this song

Number two sees the first time I notice Roger McGough, who is now one of my very favourite poets, love this song, reminds me of Vaughan Road Junior school

At number one is the most annoying Osmond brother who gave us this tune, oh my goodness how we laughed.  And I did later have several boyfriends who fitted this description.

on Christmas cheer then and now

Advent Day 21

As I type this I am sitting in the middle of the remnants of present wrapping, there are bits of paper, sticky tape and labels all over the table and the parcels are looking nice and shiny under the Christmas tree.  It has made me think of the Christmas traditions that each family creates and holds close over the years.

We always spend Christmas Eve with good friends, taking turns in each others homes.  The same drinks and the same food is served and we try to play daft games before swapping presents.  Back in the day we would then put children to bed on the most exciting night of the year, before filling stockings and sorting things out for the next day’s cooking.  Now it is more likely those ‘children’ will be heading off to the pub at the end of the evening returning home to bed in the small hours.

This year, more than usually, there will be people missing from our Christmas celebrations.  We have lost some very close family members this year and they will be spoken of and remembered in our hearts and on our lips throughout the festivities.  There are other members of the family who are poorly, and, in truth this maybe the last Christmas for them, in fact you could say that for everyone.  If we knew that to be true, how important would the present shopping be?  Would it actually matter if everyone doesn’t get all they would like?  I doubt it.  I would want to hold everyone close and enjoy time with them.  The greatest gift of all is giving someone your time.  I plan to do just that this Christmas  I will be hugging my children, my husband and my sister and her husband.  I will be loving my nieces and nephews, some from afar, and ringing my Aunts for a natter as often as I can.  The joy for me is in the loving and caring we do for each other.

Other traditions will continue, the brothers will torment their little sister over the dinner table, the crackers will be pulled, the turkey carved and eaten and in the evening we will all get together at my son’s house to cuddle the little girl who will be spending her first ever Christmas with us all.  Her Mum and Dad are already thinking up new traditions for her which will last her a lifetime of exciting times.

Despite the difficulties and sadness of the past year at Christmas time I will be counting my blessings, I will be hugging my family to my heart and being glad, glad I have them and glad they have me.  This year I will have had more Christmas’s without my Mum and Dad than I did with them.  They are still here, with me everyday, in my thoughts and actions. Never more so than on Christmas morning when I prepare the veg for the dinner, Mum is by my side and we have a little smile together, just before a tear drops onto my cheek.  I can still see Dad, poorly on his last Christmas with us, holding his new grandson close, the same boy that this year is the Daddy making memories for his daughter, and I am remembering Dad being the happiest I have ever seen him.  They have gone nowhere at all.

So, happy times are ahead.  Lots of food and drink, presents to open and crackers to pull.  The hard work putting it all together is upon me, and I love every minute of it.  I have tried to think of a suitable song for tonight’s Advent, a song about Christmas, about tradition and about memories a song about families, the squabbles and the friendships the laughter and the tears.  I just couldn’t find one song to cover all of that, but this is a good one, from one of Mum’s favourite ever musical films, takes me right back to sitting beside her enjoying every moment.

on Christmas past TV style

Advent Day 20

Tonight I have been reminded of the television of my childhood, of an era when the whole family would gather in front of the box to enjoy the Christmas programmes.  In the days before video and recorders you had to plan to be at the television at the time it was transmitted, and in our house no on wanted to miss the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special it was was a firm favourite.

It was a time of innocence, when no one questioned why two middle aged men shared a bedroom, and a bed, we were all too busy laughing at the ridiculous Ernie and the play wot he wrote and the gentle humour that put all the stars of the day down, and yet had them all queuing to take part. Who can forget Angela Rippon’s legs, the set where the stairs finished a good six foot short of the floor. Glenda Jackson taking her best role yet, Eric playing the drums full of mud and Ernie’s short fat hairy legs?

They always finished with a song, a nod to the golden days of variety, where they had begun their careers and it is one of these songs  I have chosen for tonight’s Advent song. In the dark winter days, let’s hope there is something in everyone’s life to bring them sunshine.

on dancing and loving

Advent Day 19
tonight is mad Friday, that last Friday before Christmas when workmates go to the pub and get drunk and kiss each other. I have been on many a mad Friday some have ended well others in a hangover but tonight I am at home with a cheeky Baileys.

I am thinking back to nights out, when we have laughed and danced on into the night, when the drink flowed and the tunes were impossible to sit still to.  When as a single lady I used to wish I had someone special to dance the last dance with, but instead walked home arm in arm with the wonderful friends who kept me sane through the crazy years.

Dancing is good for you, it is good for the physical you and for your soul.  Forgeting to dance is like forgeting to live well, and there are some tunes that even now, with a dodgy knee and a knackered back I will struggle not to jig along to.  I love dancing in the kitchen, especially with my hubby to daft tunes on the radio when we just enjoy the moment.

It is a sad thought that these days I would rather be dancing in the kitchen than in the pubs or bars, so much easier to do, no dressing up and no walking home in the rain.  I hope over the holiday we will go out and dance, in fact I know we will because we have tickets for a night out where the band play songs that make you want to move.  The joy of shimmying Mum dancing for pure fun is magic.

Anyway to those out dancing tonight I hope the hangover isn’t too bad in the morning and may you all have someone who loves you to be your partner on the dance floor of life.
take it away Whitney

on the king, the queen and the prince, remember with a smile

Advent Day 18

When you are a teenager you can be very influenced in your musical choices by your friends.  Luckily for me I had lots of different friends who all liked different music.  One very close friend loved Elvis her whole life.  She was never swayed by David Cassidy or The Osmonds, for her he was the King simple as that.  Through her I learned to love his music, it was a case of having too do so really, and I can never hear him sing without thinking of her.

Around the same time other friends had discovered the magic of Motown and the deep soul sound that came from Detroit.  In the days before the internet or even Freddie Laker flights, American was far away, a place where everything was bigger, better and louder than here in England.  Of all the Motown groups we loved the Jackson Five best of all, and it was with great sadness I watched the most beautiful Michael destroy himself so very publicly. The prince of pop still remains one of the greatest ever for music and movement, from the soulful ode to a rat, Ben to the insightful Man in the MIrror, with a Thriller in between it is hard to say which was the best of his songs.

To complete the royal flush I needed a Queen, and the obvious choice would be another band who broke the mould.  Freddie Mercury took Queen to a place they would never have reached without him.  His distinctive voice, his over the top persona and fabulous stage presence will live forever more.

So we have it, a King and Queen and a Prince, all magical, amazing and all dead before their time.  So very sad, but how amazing they were.  It is very hard to pick just one song from the three of them for tonight’s Adven. What every Royal house needs is a Joker and there are many fun songs out there to choose from.  This song by Elvis was played at the end of my friends funeral and everyone in the Chapel understood why it was so perfect.  The King catches himself laughing in the midst of a performance and boy does he laugh.

So this is dedicated to all the people we have known and loved who have left us far too soon, we are thankful we had them in our lives and will always try to remember them with a smile.


on living alone together

Advent Day 17

today’s song for Advent is for my most lovely husband, he is always there for all of us, a quiet man, gentle and strong, I am thankful every day that we managed to find each other in this crazy world.  Tomorrow will be our last day living on our own before the travelling daughter arrives home bringing with her the whirlwind that is life with family.  Once again the fridge will empty when we are at work, there will be footsteps on the stairs and sssshhing and giggling way into the early hours and the house will be as it always has been.

We have liked being just us, it has been our own adventure and we have had four months of peace and sometimes, for me at least, too much quiet.

This song was played at our wedding, the lyrics seem to work well for us, and although this year has been a real challenge in so many ways, every day, every month and every year is ours.  Ours to enjoy and have fun together to be glad for the good times and to hold tight through the bad..

on birthdays and seizing the day

Advent Day 16
Today is the birthday of two special people, one is my Auntie who is elderly and the other the son of a friend, whose Mum has had more than her fair share of heartache in the past.

My Auntie has lived for more than 80 years, she was my second Mum throughout my childhood, the go to person when Mum wasn’t there, her team mate in many a ruse and crazy idea, she made my life happier for having her around.

In her later years she has been unwell and fought many, many personal battles with her health. Not content with surviving cancer, twice, she has also dealt with heart problems, with breathing difficulties and many other illnesses. Throughout it all she has remained cheerful, strong and brave.  Not many patients get a standing ovation from nursing staff when they leave hospital war as she once did.  People blown away by her courage and strength and her all round good spirit.  I doubt I could ever be as strong as she is, an inspiration.

The other person celebrating a birthday today was born after his Dad had sadly lost his battle with illness,and his Mum is another amazingly brave and wonderful woman.  She faced tremendous sadness and loss and came through the other side.  Her beautiful boy is growing big now, and from what I see they have an amazing relationship.  His Dad grabbed every minute of his life, lived it large and was always full of fun and laughter. Sadly he lived half of the life in terms of years, than my Auntie, but he lived a longer life than most, for he had the knack of making every moment count, of seizing the day, loving every minute and that has been a source of comfort for those who miss him every day.

It seems to me that celebrating birthdays is about looking backwards at the past and forwards to the future, if we are eight decades old or in our teens, there is still much to do, lessons to be remembered and to be learned.  I wish everyone celebrating birthday today to enjoy, seize this day and the next, remember to choose happy and to concentrate on the good in your world.

Take it away Stevie

on how #ridewithme could save the world

Advent Day 15

Yesterday I received messages from a family member who was on lock down at her office in Sydney, Australia in the midst of what was thought to be a terrorist threat and siege.  It was scary, the world is a scary place. Fear and separation currently go hand in hand mistrust amongst neighbours especially if they are divided by religion and culture.  People already aware of events across the world panicked and unsure what would happen next.  Thankfully it now seems it was one lone person, still scary but maybe not on the scale it was feared.

Then thoughts turned to those people being blamed, who are as scared as the rest of us. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be judged a threat by being seen in clothes that identify your religion.  I cannot think how our fellow humans, who are just as nervous as the rest of us, get along with feeling the fear and being the feared.

So it was with tremendous joy I heard tonight of the #ridewithme campaign that is currently trending worldwide. An Australian commuter realising the fear of a woman in religious dress spoke up, said what we should all be saying, they said ride with me.  If you are fearful ride with me.

Now there are a hundred reasons why this could be seen as condescending, as patronising or games playing. why should someone in religious dress need a more ‘conventionally’ dressed escort.  To judge it that way would I believe be missing the point,  The point is we are all human.  When one of us is afraid, then let the rest protect them.  Simple.  Stop being scared of each other, it is being used to divide and rule by those who have to rest power in what ever way they can for their own needs.  See the human, not the costume, the hairstyle or even the tattoos.

There is one song, adopted by a team, loved by a city, written for a musical and this song gives hope to all.  It was always going to be in my Advent but tonight it fits the bill.

Walk On.  Be human. Be kind. Protect the scared. Stand up for the oppressed and Love each other.  It isn’t difficult.  Peace is in all our hands let’s grab it and turn the tables on the real oppressors, those who want the power and seek to divide us all.