Coming Around Again

I watched Suicide Squad for the first time this week and really enjoyed it, not least for the array of talented actors in it but because it had Jared Leto as The Joker; a part he played really well.   Reading about it after I saw it, I was surprised to learn that Mr Leto is 44 years old, soon to be 45.   Yet to me, he’s still that baby-faced guy from My So Called Life.  He hasn’t aged.  But, I bet to a late-teen, he’s an old timer and I bet if I told my daughter and son about him when they’re older, they would sneer inwardly and roll their eyes as they look on at a wrinkly old man in whom they can see no hidden depth.   And only when I make them watch one of his films might they realise who he was.

As a young woman, not so long ago (cough), I would sometimes tire of hearing from my elders about films I should see, and television and film stars who I should appreciate the beauty of (mainly of the male variety) but who now looked pretty un-filmstar-like in my eyes.  I did not appreciate the beauty or talent of such stars as Adam Faith, George Hamilton (tanning salon, anyone?), AL Pacino or Robert de Niro.  I sneered inwardly too when they were described as dreamy.  In fact, the only one I ‘got’ was Richard Gere.

And just as I sneered at these aging heroes, I sneered at the decades they came from and laughed along with my peers at members of the elder generation who still dressed in a style they probably wore when they were living in that time.

But do you know what?  I get it now.   At the grand total of 35 years old, I full-on get it.

I’ve seen the light. Or, more accurately, I’ve grown up and along the way I’ve seen a few movies that made me appreciate the former glory of these Hollywood statesmen.     When I finally saw The Way We Were, as well as developing a crush on Streisand, I realised how beautiful Robert Redford was.  When I saw The Godfather, I fell in love with Pacino, and when I saw Midnight Express, I realised that Channing Tatum is a reincarnation of Brad Davis.

Objects of our desire seem to go around in circles and as young and trendy folk, or in my case just young, we assume a sort of arrogant stance over our elders.  We assume we know best, because we know what is new and current.  Our film stars are the only film stars ever to look this glorious or be this talented. Our music is the only music ever to sound this cool; none of that easy listening shit, we’ll be tapping our feet to Kanye in the old people’s home.    Our art surpasses all art, our stories are ground-breaking, our potential is enormous.  How awesome to be in that young, hip brigade of trend-setters and influencers.

Well not quite.   What I’m realising, and embracing, as I move through my thirties is that my perceptions, our perceptions, are all relative.   We love our time.   We love what our generation loves.  It keeps us in time with the music.    Consider how huge Take That were the second time around, perhaps even bigger than the first, but look at who their fans are – 30-40 year old woman, largely, who have remained loyal.   And look at Duran Duran.  An achingly beautiful band in their prime, and still beautiful now but I bet they would hold little appeal to Generation Z.

I don’t mean for this to sound shallow.  I suppose my point is, we move through time with our generation in step with each other, while we follow the same patterns as the last, even if we don’t see it.  We assume we know more than the one before, until we grow up and only then appreciate what they knew, what they know, who they were, and who we will become.   I imagine I will be that older person who one day bangs on about how great the nineties and early millennium years were, whilst I’m wearing double denim and lip liner, and blogging on Selfish Grandmother from my armchair whilst listening to some gangsta rap.  But I’m ok with that.  Because it was awesome and in the end everything comes around again.


Image: shared under Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication license.


Keeping a Diary In An Online World

I’m feeling a bit inspired this morning after watching a lovely little feature on BBC Breakfast about diary writing.  As is the way with these things, I caught the end but it was enough to spark my interest.  It was about how common diary writing used to be and how some children do still like to keep their own diaries.

I was a child of the Eighties and spent much the Nineties in a state of teen angst.  The story books of my youth seemed to involve a lot of diaries.  Most notably was of course Adrian Mole, but there seemed to be a lot of young adult fiction that involved the main heroines keeping their thoughts written down.  I drank in books by Judy Blume and many of her characters kept diaries or just narrated their thoughts in their head.   I can’t say I was in any way like her characters but I felt a connection to what I aspired to be.      So, it isn’t surprising that I kept a diary for much of my younger years and probably more frequently during high school.  And I think it also no surprise that my most prolific diary writing periods were linked to those times of teen angst.    I wrote about everything in my life but mainly the boys I loved – including one boy called Joe who was the subject of the great unrequited love of 1991-93.  That was tough.  The high point of that non-relationship was making him dance with me at the school disco to Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You.  As well as my appalling love life, I wrote about songs I liked, books I read, friends I thought were fab, and girls at school who were mean.

I wish I had kept them but I destroyed them all towards the time I was heading off for university.  I remember reading them and feeling a bit silly and embarrassed at the things I’d written.   Of course if I read them now I would read them with a different head and probably feel a lot of empathy with that young girl.

So I wonder, how many of us still keep diaries?  I’m certainly tempted to start again.  One could argue that blogging is a form of diary writing, and to an extent it is, but there is one thing a diary is that a blog never can be – private.   If you wish them too, diaries can contain every private and personal thought you ever have, every mistake you need to reflect on, every good moment you feel happy about and want to remember but not necessarily share with the world, and even every bit of mundanity in your life that you one day might want to look back on.  They are a closed book, not for consumption by anybody else, just you.   And in a world full of social media, sharing, scrutiny, online validation, and lives which, once private, are now so public, a closed book just for yourself is no bad thing.

The feature this morning explored how diaries might fit into the modern world, and how young people might be less inclined towards the practice their elders grew up with.  The wonderful Dame Jacqueline Wilson, DBE, FRSL, was interviewed and felt that, on the contrary, there will always be a need for children to want to write down their thoughts and have that special experience of owning their own diary.

I wonder if readers keep a diary?  I’d be interested to know if there are grown-ups out there who carried on.  I have close family members who I know still do, and after today I think I’ll be adding another gift to my Christmas Wish List.    My children are still too little to know about what diaries are and what they mean but I will watch this space to see if they follow suit when they are older.


Image shared under Creative Commons license.

Awesome Garden Centre

Now, if you’ve said to me ten/fifteen years ago that I would one day describe a Garden Centre as awesome, I would have chuckled smugly and sloped away in disgust.   How times change.   I do appreciate the value of the modern Garden Centre and there is no more fun a time to go than Christmas.

I met up with my beautiful friend Hana last weekend for our pre-Christmas get-together and we visited a Garden Centre in her neighbourhood.   Called Barton Grange, its just fabulous.   It has everything a modern Garden Centre needs to have and a bit more.   Plants (obviously), gift stuff, Christmas stuff, Christmas tat, a sit-down restaurant, a walk-in café, and then these guys …..


And these…..


It doesn’t get better than dancing Snowmen and Bears.   Awesome.


Night Owls

Are you a night owl or a morning worm or whatever they’re called? (Early bird?)  Society seems to like it if we fit neatly into one or the other and I think I’m probably more night owl but not because I’m particularly good at staying up late and then fighting fit the next day, its just that I’m less good at getting up early and I feel a strange affinity with the night time.   To me, night time is a mystical time.  Normal service is on pause.  The pressure is off.   Day workers allow themselves to unwind and go to bed, nightworkers join a unique workforce of people working during the quiet hours, the graveyard shift.  Roads are quieter.  Films are more exciting.  Radio voices are sultry.  The pace has slowed.    Have I lost you yet?   Stay with me.

Last night was a bad night.   Our youngest was up at in the very early hours and had an unsettled hour before he fell back to sleep again.  My husband and I shared the ‘settling’ in this bit of time in a space that wasn’t quite ‘dead of the night’ but was still too early to be accepted as morning.  When morning came, we got up as normal but it felt fuzzy and it felt like it had been a strange night.  Do you ever have nights like that?   I have them every now and again, and not always because the kids are awake.

The children are both under five so they’re still learning how to cope with getting to sleep and seeing that sleep through to the morning.  It isn’t uncommon for the first part of the night to punctuated with brief wake-ups, one or both padding down the landing to the top of the stairs, and the occasional crying spell.   And it is quite usual for one of them to appear at the side of the bed in the early hours of the morning.  Loose rule we work to is that if it is before 5am, we take them back and if its after 5am we let them stay.  

So last night’s longer bit of being awake for our youngest cast a foggy spell over the night and had me thinking, whilst brushing my teeth and again on my drive to work, that although I’m a bit of a night owl, it perhaps is not the way I’m designed to be.   My body doesn’t welcome it.  I tend to stay up later than I’m comfortable with.  I get very tired, I watch films, I surf the net, I write blog posts.   My mind doesn’t stop, I know this. But also I know that it is largely due to craving some grown-up adult time as well.   Once the kids are in bed, the last thing I want to do is have to go to bed myself not long after, but physically I often feel that it might be the best course of action.      Even when they were babies, I stayed up late after they had gone down for the first 2-3 hours of their night time sleep, because I wanted some indulgent, grown-up time before the next feed/change. I didn’t want to waste it sleeping.  I realise how strange this sounds.   Maybe night owls are peculiar that way.  

If any of this rings familiar, maybe you are a night owl too?

I think I’ve always been like this.  As a child, I found it difficult to sleep.   I would lie awake long after the sounds of the house were reduced to a gentle hum.  I was desperately jealous of my siblings who fell to sleep as their heads hit the pillow, whilst I would think and think and think about how on earth I could fall asleep.  Ultimately, sleep always took me, but I hated that first bit of the night.  It got better as I got older but then university happened and there is no better way to shatter the peace of your sleep than having no routine.   I slept during the day, I partied at night.   I even studied at night.  After all the dancing at the discotheque, I would turn on my computer and write my assignments.  Maybe it was my optimum time for study.  Who knows.  

Before we had the kids, I went through a phase of not being able to sleep again.  A sort of temporary insomnia, where I would creep downstairs in the middle of the night, get a bowl of cereal, and watch the BBC news channel.  

I do think there is something in the fact that we are either night owls or early birds.  Whilst everything in my physical make-up is saying the late nights and little sleep make me feel tired, I still find myself inclined towards restless nights full of thoughts, which just feel like moments of fog the next day as I continue my day with the rest of the world.

Its night time now and in true form I’m ignoring the tired and watching the film.  Hoping to reach the end.  Hoping to stretch out this time as long as I can.  Hoping not to feel too tired in the morning. 

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