spotted in Glasgow...

Friday, 23 September 2011

...when my sister, Emilie, and I went to see 'The Slow Club' (amazingly quirky). Quite nice to be greeted by stairs. We realised that, between us, we were wearing every colour in the rainbow. Red: my coat. Orange: the flowers in her dress. Yellow: her cardigan. Green: her dress. Blue: my shoes and dress. Indigo and violet: the flowers in her dress (kind of ...does anyone actually know what indigo looks like? It just has a lovely sounding name. Like 'India' and 'Calico' - two of my favourite words to say - mixed up in one).  

a rainbow on the walk to work.

Friday, 9 September 2011

So faint you can hardly see it. But it's there.

go do.

Friday, 9 September 2011

When I was twelve, I read a book on juggling. I read it in the summer, lying on my stomach in a rectangle of sun. I went over passages of the book again and again, trying to make them stick in my brain. I eventually put the book down and felt ready to begin. I picked up the oranges (stand-in balls). I started playing circus music inside my head. And then... thump, thump, ‘owch’.
...that was not supposed to happen.
I took a moment and then started again. I fetched the oranges. I hummed the circus tune (a little louder this time). And then... ‘owch’, thump, ‘owch’. Juggling, it turned out, was trickier than it looked on the page. I decided to give up and eat the oranges instead.
Thus ended my brief career as a clown.
I was reminded of this recently, and I think that I probably went about it the wrong way. The way to learn juggling is probably just to juggle. To practice. To physically move your arms: throwing, catching, dropping, picking up, trying again. Learning the theory is part of it, but the real learning is in the doing. It is easy to read the book, but that is not juggling. You can’t call yourself a Juggler if you don’t actually juggle.
I read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse at the start of the summer. There was a description in it of someone who was ‘so brave in thought’ but ‘so timid in life’. And it struck me. I am someone who would prefer to wait until I really fully absolutely understand the ins and outs of things before I act on them. But I wonder if there is a degree of fearfulness in this. Most things that are worth having require a level of risk – the risk of being embarrassed, hurt, wrong – and risk means dancing with the unknown 

I've been thinking about this a lot this summer. I've been thinking about  how I can (and do) wax lyrical about "the beauty of love, friendship, faith, [insert other ideal here]" to my heart's content; I can discuss the theories and philosophies behind them; but if I get stuck there, if I do nothing beyond that ...my words are empty. Life will be empty. Life is something that is learned by doing it, by taking risks. I want to live a life that matters, not one that could have.
Listen to this (Go Do by Jónsi) ...if you want to.
(Pictures from: Leanne Ellis).

orders.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011



Lady with the happy wrinkles: "I’ll have a plain scone, honey. And an earl grey tea."
Man with the red tie: "I’ll have nearly the same. I’ll have a fruit scone. And -- I’ll just take some of your house tea."
~ In work the other week 

'House tea.' I thought that was quite a cute thing to say.
(Picture from: Emma Block.)

subtle.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


William Strunk, Jr in The Elements of Style writes this:
'Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.'

I completely agree. I’m trying to get better at this, at chipping away at unnecessary thoughts, words, commas. Writing that is cluttered with too many obscure words and phrases feels a bit self indulgent to me. I think the best writing is hardly noticeable, it honours the ideas it gives form to.
I finished reading The Remains of the Day last week. It is an excellent book, very engaging, and I think it is because Ishiguro writes like this: with quietness. The most powerful moment in the book happens in a single sentence near the end of the story. It is perfect, but I would have missed it – a skipped beat in my heart – if the rest of the novel hadn’t been so muted. Really beautiful.


(Picture from: here.)
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