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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a compelling read with themes of motherhood, cultural identity and what shapes us. It was heart rending at times.

Although my book group found there to be sympathetic elements to her I thought Mrs Richardson was odious. It’s a while since I’ve read a book where I disliked someone so much!

I also like the 90s-ness of it, with some familiar cultural references. Let’s face it, I was stomping around in my Doc Martens and listening to Tori Amos at the time, just like Izzy, and also feeling like the prevalent rights and wrongs and conventions and expectations of the time were so at odds with what my own heart and head told me. Izzy was definitely my favourite character and if I’d had a mother like hers I would have done what she did too.

I won’t put in any spoilers but suffice to say the ending was hugely satisfying and had me cheering.



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The Island Home by Libby Page

The Island Home by Libby Page

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This is the story of a woman in her 40s returning to the Hebridean Island she run away from when she was 18.

I found all the characters likeable and sympathetic to some degree, and the landscape and community were nicely depicted. On the surface of it this book is very much my sort of thing. So why did I only think it was ‘OK’?

It’s a perfectly nice, inoffensive book but I just found that I was underwhelmed and bored. The storyline was very predictable with far too many words spent on internal dilemmas that weren’t really dilemmas.

Don’t listen to me though, as most people who have read it rave about it. I probably have my curmudgeon mode on again!



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Kate Rusby – Life in a Paper Boat

This wonderful song from the exquisitely voiced Kate Rusby is especially chosen with the RNLI in mind. It still blows my mind that they are getting so much hate for rescuing people from the Channel. Families, children, cold, scared, in serious danger, rescued by the brave RNLI volunteers.

Of course there are issues with illegal migration across the Channel, of course it isn’t safe or to be encouraged, but leaving people to drown is never a solution. Just like doctors save lives without question, so do the RNLI, that’s what they do. And whilst there is war and hunger and desperation people will make the journey, even if it likely means death. So don’t tell me that leaving them to drown with deter others, because it won’t. Human beings don’t work like that.

I particularly love the heartfelt intro to this where Kate talks about her motivation for the song.

LIFE IN A PAPER BOAT (K Rusby PRS/ MCPS)

A boat made of paper it set sail with me,

And oh how I’ve grown weary,

That boat of shame it took me now I’m far from free,

And oh won’t you stay near me.

Chorus Hope it bloomed eternal there,

Upon the promised land,

Will it wither now, Or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

This bundle that I carry is worth more to me than life,

And oh how I’ve grown weary

There’s only me to hold her now that I’m no more a wife,

And oh won’t you stay me.

An ancient land I’ve left behind in ruins now lies she,

And oh how I’ve grown weary,

I must build a new land now with walls to keep her free,

And oh won’t you stay near me.

My heart is in my hand now we are on the open sea,

And oh how I’ve grown weary,

Thank God she won’t remember this whatever it may be,

And oh won’t you stay near me.

The orange sun was burning,

On the boat where we all stand,

Hope it bloomed eternal there,

Upon the promised land,

Will it wither now, Or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

Electric Tenor Guitar- Damien O’Kane Double Bass- Duncan Lyall Electric Guitar- Steven Iveson Diatonic Accordion- Nick Cooke Percussion and Drum Programming- Josh Clark Keyboard, Pads and Synth- Anthony Davis Film- James Lockey

Michael Stipe and Big Red Machine – No Time for Love Like Now

I first heard this a few months ago and it had been a regular listen ever since. It was made in the heart of lockdown and definitely has those vibes. I find its mix of sadness and hope irresistible.

Written by Michael Stipe and Aaron Dessner, produced by Aaron Dessner, with Orchestration by Bryce Dessner, and lyrics by Michael Stipe. NO TIME FOR LOVE LIKE NOW LYRICS

no time for breezy

no time for arguments

no time for love like now

there’s no time in the bardo

no time in the in-between #

no time for love like now

there’s no time for dancing

no time for undecideds

no time for love like now

where did this all begin to change

the lockdown memories can’t sustain

this glistening, hanging free fall

i turned away from the glorious light

i turned my head and cried

whatever waiting means in this new place

i am waiting for you

there’s no time for honey

no time for psalms and thresholds

whisper a sweet prayer sigh

where did this all begin to change

the lockdown memories can’t sustain

this glistening hanging free fall

i turned away from the glorious light

i turned my head and cried

whatever waiting means in this new place

i am waiting for you

your voice is echoing

love love love love love

i hear it far far away

and i am here waiting for you

i am waiting for you

whatever waiting means in this new place

i am waiting for you

i am waiting for you

Music in this video

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Song

No Time For Love Like Now

Artist

Michael Stipe, Big Red Machine

Licensed to YouTube by

[Merlin] Secretly Distribution (on behalf of 37d03d); CMRRA, UMPG Publishing, ARESA, UMPI, and 3 music rights societies

John Grant -GMF

A friend recently introduced me to this and it’s so beautiful I’ve been listening to it pretty much every day since. The video is wonderful too. It actually made me laugh when I first watched it but it’s very sad too in a way.

John Grant – GMF, video directed by Lucy Luscombe. From the 2013 album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’. http://www.bellaunion.com

GMF

John Grant

You could probably say I’m difficult
I probably talk too much
I over-analyze and over-think things
Yes it’s a nasty crutch
I’m usually only waiting for you to stop talking
So that I can
Concerning two-way streets I have to say
That I am not a fan

But I am the greatest motherfucker
That you’re ever gonna meet
From the top of my head
Down to the tips of the toes on my feet
So go ahead and love me while it’s still a crime
And don’t forget you could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time
You could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time

Half of the time I think I’m in some movie
I play the underdog of course
I wonder who’ll they’ll get to play me, maybe
They could dig up Richard Burton’s corpse
I am not who you think I am
I am quite angry which I barely can conceal
You think I hate myself, it’s you I hate
Because you have the nerve to make me feel

But I am the greatest motherfucker
That you’re ever gonna meet
From the top of my head
Down to the tips of the toes on my feet
So go ahead and love me while it’s still a crime
And don’t forget you could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time
You could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time

I should’ve practiced my scales
I should not be attracted to males
But you said that I should learn to love myself
Well, make up your mind, Dr. Frankenstein

I am the greatest motherfucker
That you’re ever gonna meet
From the top of my head
Down to the tips of the toes on my feet
So go ahead and love me while it’s still a crime
And don’t forget you could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time
You could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time
‘Cause I am the greatest motherfucker
That you’re ever gonna meet
From the top of my head
Down to the tips of the toes on my feet
So go ahead and love me while it’s still a crime
And don’t forget you could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time
You could be laughing
Sixty three percent more of the time
You could be laughing
Twenty five percent more of the time

Songwriters: Birgir Thorarinsson, John Grant

Data from: Musixmatch

Blog hiatus with special guest appearances from RSD and impulsivity

I have been riding some ADHD rollercoasters the past couple of months, so this blog has fallen by the wayside somewhat. Well, totally, as you can see. I have still been reading, so a backlog of reviews are coming your way! 

I think writing about what’s been happening is important, and will illustrate a lot of the emotional side of ADHD. Some adults have more what is called ADD, where it manifests as a lack of focus, inability to concentrate or organise. I have that, but I have the other aspects too, the emotional dysregulation and impulsivity. The story of the past couple of months will give a little insight into what that is like. It can be hell. 

So, May. A job came up at work, a promotion. Basically, it was all the things I like about my current job amplified, and the things I don’t like about it taken out, plus they would pay me more money to do it. I knew the job would come up so spent the past three years volunteering for things at work, always with that job in mind, so when it came up I would be armed. It came up, I applied, (and spent every evening for an entire week writing and editing and agonising over my application) I got an interview. There were so many applicants, mostly external, that there was a two stage interview process. I spent an entire week agonising over the first interview, trying to work out what they would ask me and having my answers ready. It paid off, because the interview went well and I got through to the final stage. The final 5 candidates. I really started to get my hopes up, my incurable optimism and enthusiasm began to build, I could imagine doing the job, I could think of the ways I would do it, even though my rational brain was saying ‘steady on!’, my imagination as always was running away with it. There were 10 days between the first interview and the second. And for 10 days my life revolved around preparation. I designed the teaching session I would deliver, I roped colleagues into being my guinea pigs while I practiced, I tried to guess what they would ask me, and rehearsed my answers over and over. I was feeding the kids rubbish food because my food prep evening was gone, for two days I ate only toast, I couldn’t engage with anything in the ‘here and now’ because my mind was on the interview I had to do and the job I would get after it. The interview and teach came. They were tough, I’m not going to lie, but I felt at the end of it a quiet, nervous confidence. I knew I had done a pretty good job. I usually come out of these things knowing I fluffed one or two questions but this time, this time I felt I’d nailed the lot. 

I took the kids to the park that evening and sat with my phone in my hand, waiting for the call. As time dragged on into the evening I began to feel increasingly uneasy. If I had got the job, then surely I’d be the first person they called. I treated myself to a hot chocolate with cream and sprinkles, and sat drinking it as the rain came down. Midway through I got the call “very very close second, very impressed with you, the other candidate just had that bit more experience”. And that was it. RSD central. 

Over the next 12 hours: I physically threw up, packed the kids of to bed so I could curl up in a ball and cry, decided I was not suited for my line of work, was possibly not suited for any line of work ever as I was such a useless human being, drafted my resignation letter, decided my dream was to be a stand-up comedian, started writing a script and googling local places I might try to get a gig, thought better of that idea and looked into selling my house and buying a large camper van, the n wondered if I could be a performance poet…. Then came full circle, and realised I do like the job I’ve currently got, and I want my house, and I have been an idiot. 

About 24 hours after the interview I was totally fine. But as you can see the whole process took over my life. It took my emotional energy, my time, and my executive functioning. It took pretty much all of it, and everything else in my life (my kids, my day job) was left with the dregs. But here’s the thing. I have been for other jobs, and I struggle to prepare, I struggle to revise, so when I turn up I have done pretty much zero preparation and just wing it. This has occasionally paid off. But I knew that for this job I wanted it so much and it was going to be very competitive so I switched into the only other mode I have. As I have mentioned before, ADHD for me basically means “all or nothing”. 

I say I was ‘over it’, but I did feel an emptiness inside. I really felt I needed something to pick me up. This is where the next disastrous episode begins. I have been separated for three years, and the divorce is currently in progress (finally!). In lockdown I felt so lonely. I am pretty independent, and I like that I am solely in charge of my household, but how I envy those people with happy relationships, having that someone to tell things to, to joke with, to hug. So, in a moment of sheer madness, I decided the answer to my woes was to find a boyfriend. 

Online dating, of course, is the only way to find a partner these days, and even more so in semi-lockdown. I have been there before, twice, and found it a stressful experience, an extreme version of ‘try to be someone you’re not so people will like you’. This time I was actually pretty honest in my statement. I started with two sites which had a reputation for being a bit more mature and sensible, (ie not match or tinder, neither of which I will go near), but they were so mature and sensible, every profile read ‘nice guy, likes chilling out, enjoys mountain biking’. Yaaaaawn. And I could never gain full functionality without paying them some money. With one site I caved in and paid, but all it gave me was 4 times more nice guys that like chilling and mountain biking, and are too slim and have no hair, and live miles away. 

Just as I was about to give up someone recommended a third site which actually has decent functionality without the paid version. It’s like social media on speed with a dizzying number of profiles to click on, and then ‘bingo’ when you have liked each other’s profiles, and can then message each other. Messaging involves particularly excruciating small talk, often drawn out across several days.

A few conversations spark up, but it’s just conducting small talk over text, and it’s depressing. I had one evening where I was in five different such conversations, talking about bands, or gardening or where we live… but it’s impossible to get the essence of a person from that. I would get a glimpse of a guy through all the small talk and really like him, and imagine our dates, and imagine us dating, and my imagination would be running years ahead, and then he would say something that just didn’t chime with me and the whole thing would come tumbling down. In the end I realised that I was wasting my evenings on this nonsense so I stopped. And ever since I have used the time to read instead.

What is the lesson from all of this? There probably isn’t one, except that I need to slow down, curb my impulses and stop myself “getting carried away”. Story of my life. I guess the lesson is also that a boyfriend is rarely the answer to anything, but that books usually are.

REM -Swan Swan H

No particular reason for sharing this, except that I heard it the other day and remembered just how wonderful it is. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to have too much REM in your life.

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Swan Swan H (2011 Remaster) · R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant ℗ 2011 Capitol Records, LLC Released on: 2011-01-01 Producer, Studio Personnel, Mixer, Associated Performer, Recorder: Don Gehman Studio Personnel, Mixer, Associated Performer, Recorder: Greg Edward Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Robert Vosgien Composer Lyricist: Bill Berry Composer Lyricist: Peter Buck Composer Lyricist: Michael Stipe Composer Lyricist: Mike Mills

R.E.M.

Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Girl and dog he bore his cross
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
A long low time ago people talk to me

Johnny Reb what’s the price of fans
Forty a piece or three for one dollar?
Hey captain don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings her hair chains
Here’s your wooden greenback sing
Wooden beams and dovetail sweep
I struck that picture ninety times
I walked that path a hundred ninety
Long, low time ago, people talk to me

A pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine
Marching feet, Johnny Reb, what’s the price of heroes?

Six in one, half dozen the other
Tell that to the captain’s mother
Hey captain, don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings, her hair chains
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Long, low time ago, people talk to me
A pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine

Songwriters: Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, William BerryFor non-commercial use only. Data from: Musixmatch

Raynor Winn – The Salt Path

Winn and her husband Moth, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness called corticobasal degeneration, became homeless after a bad investment and decided to walk the 630-mile (1,010 km) South West Coast Path.

I loved this book in many ways. It was such a wonderful glimpse into life on the edges of what we so oddly call ‘civilisation’. I got a feel for the freedom of it, the peace of it, the quiet, the fresh air, and at times I was envious. You get to experience life in a different way when you’re open to nature, and to the randomness of strangers. And it was described so beautifully, so evocatively, I do feel that through those descriptions I experienced a little bit more of rural Britain. The bit about the salted blackberries stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards. 

But it wasn’t glamorous and the precariousness of their situation was ever present. What was most fascinating was the different reactions people had to them when they said they were homeless compared to when they said they were on a hiking/wild camping adventure. 

The glimpses into the world of the homeless were interesting and important to read. How the country dwellers were priced out of their own homes, living a hand to mouth existence, how the city homeless lived in a dangerous, violent, harsh world. Something has gone very wrong with our country. 

The reason it has taken me so long to get round to writing a review is the deep anger I felt about a couple of bits of the book. The fact that they could be dumped into homelessness like that, losing a house and farm they had lived in for decades, because a ‘friend’ has caused their financial ruin and they hadn’t been able to get any legal aid. What an absolutely fucked up situation. Their bravery and decency and humour in the face of it all was amazing, and I felt such huge warmth towards Ray and Moth the whole way through the book. But personally, I was raging on their behalf. And don’t even get me started on Poppy. Who the hell exploits other people like that? Definitely not a ‘friend’. 

So for me it was quite an emotional and difficult trip, reading this book, not the inspirational and life affirming journey it may have been for other readers. Well, in some ways it was those things, but the anger took precedence in my ADHD mind. I left it well over two weeks before writing this review and the anger has subsided somewhat but it is definitely still there. 

Book and cup of tea, whilst guarding my seeds and seedlings on their little trip out of the greenhouse.

My ADHD Brain, Episode Nine: The Inner Life

So, apparently a lot of people don’t have an inner life. I’ve always thought I have a good imagination but this is one thing I simply can’t imagine. It’s like trying to grasp that space is infinite. I know that it is, but the imagination just can’t quite deal with it. Thus my imagination can’t quite cope with the notion that some people do not have an inner life.

Take a particular conversation I had with someone recently. And this is a highly intelligent person, by the way. He was talking about how the National Trust have started to mention on displays if a property was owned by a slave owning family, and he was saying that it’s a good thing and I was like “yeah, it is, but they’ve been putting this stuff on labels for years, like if a family made its money from the tobacco industry or the cloth trade, or they were part of the East India Company, so you already know when you’re walking around their posh house, don’t you?, and you’re admiring stuff but at the same time thinking about how the money was made, and it’s all part of the same story” And he was like, “well, I agree, but I don’t think they put that stuff in the info, and they don’t make the link between the trade and what that meant for people”. And that’s when I realised, no they probably don’t, but my brain had always filled in those gaps and made those links without me even realising that I hadn’t just read it on an info board. 

I like a good NT property, a nice Stately Home with gardens and landscaped park, and I’ve been visiting them for many years. When I go round the house my brain is usually saying something like this:

“So it was built in 1871, oh that’s interesting because at the same time the Paris Commune was happening in France, which seems incongruous somehow, all that noise and revolution there, and the quiet here…. Oh look, that’s a pretty tapestry, look at their beautiful hands holding up that fruit there, what elegant fingers, I wonder if this was a stylistic thing at that time because presumably not everyone had such lovely hands, I mean people are the same aren’t they, it’s just the depictions that change over time…the information board says that they made their money from coal mining, just think that all this beautiful stuff was built off the backs of children working down mines… the air feels quite fresh in here, but I can’t see an open window, I wonder where it’s coming from…  I can imagine these rooms empty of people and me running round them barefoot [cue visuals of me in a music video or film running round the empty house with bare feet]… Hm, OK, I don’t like the ceiling very much, very oppressive, very Victorian, how did they manage to imbue their interior decor with that aura? … onto the next room.” All of this will probably take about 2 minutes, maybe as many as 5 if something really grabs me.

This isn’t just how my brain behaves in stately homes, this is how my brain behaves ALL THE TIME. Until recently I thought this was normal. Now whenever I tell this to someone they look at me like I’m mad. So I asked my highly intelligent friend what he would be thinking of in the same situation. He paused and then said “I would probably notice a painting, and be a bit interested and then read the label, then I would take in the general view for a few moments and move on”. 

Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know how to do that. But, my god, life would be far less exhausting and confusing if I did.

Soccer Mommy – Circle the Drain

A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook as a recommendation and I absolutely love it. Great tune and fantastic lyrics.

I wanna be calm like the soft
Summer rain on your back
Like the fall of your shoulders
But everything just brings me back down
To the cold hard ground
And it keeps getting colderIt’s a feeling that boils in my brain
I would dial back the flame
But I’m not sure I’m able
I’m wobbling out on the wire
And the lights could go out
With the break of a cableThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fineHey, I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open, watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downI’m trying to seem strong for my love
For my family and friends
But I’m so tired of faking
‘Cause I’m chained to my bed when they’re gone
Watching TV alone
‘Til my body starts achingAnd I think there’s a mold in my brain
Spreading down all the way
Through my heart and my body
‘Cause I cling to the dark of my room
And the days thin me out
Or just burn me straight throughThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fineHey I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fine
Hey, I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open, watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downRound and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downSource: LyricFindSongwriters: Sophie Allisoncircle the drain lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.