Saturday, October 9, 2010

Being Happy

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Journeys recontinued


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Journeys Continued

Starting again, because the previous blog got too big!! :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This isn't a proper blog, it's just a space to share.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monday Socks

I recently bought some socks. I fell in love with them at first sight, because they were black. I have this theory that black socks are best, because when they emerge from the washing machine they all look roughly the same and can be paired up with relative ease. My system for pairing-up is simple - if one sock is black and the other sock is black, then that’s a pair.

But these particular socks really did promise an absolutely perfect match every time. Each pair in the packet had the name of a day embroidered on their toes. And the name of each day was embroidered in a different colour. For example, “Monday” was embroidered in red, which seemed appropriate for the first day of the week – a red-letter-day!

Well, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, so I bought them. What a terrible mistake that was. You see, I’d forgotten one of the basic laws of physics, which is that when you put an even number of socks into the washing machine, you get an odd number of socks out.

So I was faced with a puzzle. What on earth do you do with a single sock embroidered with the word “Monday” on its toe? My solution to this quandary was to keep my mobile phone in it.

Then a good friend of mine suggested it would be very avant-garde if I continued to wear my Monday sock on one foot, with a Wednesday sock on the other foot. A brilliant idea!

So I started rummaging in my sock drawer to look for my Wednesday socks. At first, I thought this would be a straightforward project, because my Wednesday socks have the word “Wednesday” embroidered on the toe of each sock. But the search took forever.

You see, I keep each pair of socks neatly ravelled up in a small bundle. But you can’t see the toes in a bundle. And as all my socks are black, all the bundles look identical. So I had to unravel each bundled pair. Whilst doing this, I came across a pair of socks that weren’t really a pair at all. The two socks were of different lengths. I had to lay these two mismatched socks on the bed, in the hope that I would find more mismatched pairs and be able to reconcile the problem later. Well, I did find several other mismatched pairs, and eventually I was able to reunite these socks into pairs of equal length and re-bundle accordingly.

At first I was quite pleased with myself. Then I remembered my original objective, which was to find my Wednesday socks. I hadn’t found them. So I looked in the laundry basket. No Wednesday socks. I looked inside the washing machine, which I had used earlier. No luck. I peered under the bed. No luck there either. I searched high and low, but my Wednesday socks had vanished.

Eventually, the truth dawned on me. The reason I couldn’t find my Wednesday socks was because it WAS Wednesday, and I was wearing them. Silly me, I thought, and I took my shoes off to check. Sure enough, there they were, on my feet, where they had been all the time. It was then that the really dreadful truth became apparent.

Both of my Wednesday socks are adorned with the word “Wednesday” in GREEN embroidery. But my solitary Monday sock has the word “Monday” embroidered in RED. I was instantly reminded of the old adage “Red and Green should never be seen”. So alas, there is no way I can wear one of my Wednesdays with my Monday.

Happily, I do know where my mobile phone is. It is inside my Monday sock, hanging on the washing line, but still ringing and wringing wet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Bully

The bully wore spectacles. He was big and fat, by far the biggest boy, with hangers-on behind him. They followed him everywhere, mimicking his lumbering walk. They surrounded a small boy at the far end of the playground. Other children nearby scuttled away. I didn’t see what happened next. The bell rang for class, and it was my first day at that primary school.

Next day, and for weeks afterwards, I stood near the teachers on playground duty, just outside my classroom door. It was a safe place to be, from where I could watch. There were incidents every day in the other half of the playground, in which the bully reinforced his dominance with a push, a spit, or a kick. He particularly liked pulling a girl’s hair, or snatching a possession and throwing it to the ground for his tribe to kick around.

The teachers on playground duty, and there were usually two of them, were oblivious, engrossed in their own conversation. Their attention only switched to the playground when the bell rang and they organised the children into lines outside their classrooms. None of the children complained. They were too intimidated.

My hate for that boy and his followers grew by the day, filling every moment of my time in the playground. I watched his every move as he swaggered about looking over the top of his spectacles, making up his mind what to do next. He had a habit of pushing his spectacles back up to the top his nose just before he picked on someone.

Inevitably, the day came when his eyes locked with mine. We stared into each other’s souls. His face curled with frustration because I was standing near the teachers, and out of his reach. He raised a fist and spat in my direction before turning to his tribe, then pointing me out to them. I was on his list – he had made that crystal clear.

The worst happened soon after, on a day when for some reason or another, there were no teachers in the playground. The bully saw me standing in my usual place, with my back against the school wall, and he made a beeline for me. As he approached he pushed his spectacles up to the top of his nose. It was my trigger. I flew off the wall with my fists flailing. His spectacles broke, and then broke again. There was blood from his eyes. He fell on his back screaming, me on top of him, pounding his hands as they tried to shield his eyes, hitting his mouth, his chin, and any part of his head I could see.

Teachers arrived, pulled me off, and one of them dragged me away into the school hall. The teacher holding me wanted to know what had happened, but I was still in such a rage that I couldn’t speak. Later, I heard a teacher say that an ambulance had taken the bully away.

I was kept in the hall until my mother came to pick up me from school, and the teachers took us to see the headmaster. It was then that I told my story. My mother took my side, and there was an argument. Afterwards, my mother told me that I wouldn’t be going to the school for much longer, because we were moving away to a new flat in a completely different area. I was enrolled into a new school shortly afterwards, where there was no other child with a seriously mean streak.

Except, perhaps, for a new boy who could be seen during playtime standing with his back to the wall....


Coincidences are fascinating. They have a quality of surprise that makes us pause for breath in our busy lives, and wonder if we are a part of some greater mysterious pattern, or if the event was merely some random chance. I suppose that most people encounter coincidences one at a time, and relatively rarely, but my story is about a day when coincidences happened one after the other, all of them amazing.

It all happened on a Saturday when I was eighteen years old. I’d had a busy morning, shopping in the West End of London, where I bought myself a faux suede jacket and a pair of shoes before keeping an appointment to have my hair cut in my favourite barbershop tucked away in a side street off the Edgware Road. The barber, an old friend of my father’s, had cut my hair since I was six or seven years old.

When I got back home I was in a hurry. It was perilously close to the time that I’d arranged to meet a school friend at a local tube station. I quickly changed clothes, donning my new jacket and shoes for their first venture into the outside world. As I left the house, I crossed paths with the postman who had a letter addressed to me. I opened the envelope as I set off on my walk to the station. Oh happiness – the letter was a confirmation I had won a provisional place at my first choice college. And the exam grade requirements were just about within my reach.

At that moment a newspaper delivery van pulled up next to me. The driver asked for directions to the very same station that I was headed to. Of course, I offered to act as his guide if he gave me a lift to the station. He agreed and let me hop in. We arrived at the station five minutes before I was due to meet my friend.

Imagine my surprise as I alighted from the van to see my friend a few yards away, also alighting from another newspaper delivery van. We stood there and gaped at each other. Then we gaped some more, as we took in the fact that that we were each wearing brand new faux suede jackets and new shoes. And we were both sporting fresh haircuts.

It transpired that he had spent the morning doing exactly the same things as me, and he too had been asked directions to the station by a passing newspaper delivery van. We were amazed. We had even bought our jackets and shoes in the same shops.

But that wasn’t the end of it. I asked him where he had had his haircut. The very same barbers! And he had been going to the same shop for many years, but we had never crossed paths there.

I guess we must have stood outside that station for at least twenty minutes, in animated and somewhat bemused discussion about these incredible coincidences. Eventually we agreed to move on to our planned visit to the local youth club. It was then that I remembered my letter from the college admissions secretary. I reached inside my jacket for the letter at exactly the same moment that he was reaching inside his jacket.

You’ve guessed what happened next, haven’t you? We had identical letters, from the same college, for the same undergraduate course. And we both passed our A-levels with identical grades a few months later.