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Homesick -Catrina Davies

Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed by Catrina Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is an engaging and fascinating book detailing one woman’s attempt to escape the treadmill of dead end jobs and crappy rooms in shared houses by moving into a shed in her hometown in Cornwall where she has the peace and space to write. The magic is in her descriptions of the people she encounters, revealing the impact of second homes and investment properties on Cornwall. She also details beautifully the lives of her parents and herself, crushed by economic hardship and mental health difficulties, and there are some lovely descriptions of nature, and of the kindness (and random, undeserved hostility) of strangers.

I too was born in the Winter of Discontent so we are the same age. While I would argue we have it better than those younger than us, ours is the generation where the faultlines are first evident. Amongst my friends, also in their early 40s, they are either settled into a career and own a house and have a mortgage, or they are stuck on a treadmill of low paying, unreliable jobs, and renting a room in a shared house, or maybe a tiny flat to themselves if they are lucky. There seem to be no particular rules s to who has ended up with what but the key factors as far as I can see are, 1) inheriting something along the way and being sensible with it (I inherited a small amount from my grandparents, similar to what Davies got from her grandfather by the sound of it, which I used as a deposit on a property before prices rocketed), 2) being in a profession that offers reliable job prospects, and 3) being in a stable relationship, with two decent incomes. I have two out of three and am definitely less well off than most of my friends who have three out of three, but I know other people who have had different luck and made a couple of different choices, and now find themselves locked out of home ownership, job stability, and probably locked out of the places and landscapes they love and feel a connection with. Anyone with mental health problems and/or neurodivergence is particularly likely to end up in this scenario, as beautifully, honestly depicted in this book.

I did skim some of the descriptions of surfing as I found them tedious, but it still did manage to convey to me that this is important for her and of huge importance for her mental health.

The descriptions of the natural world, and the observations about people and society are superb. It is a moving and important book and one I will now purchase for a permanent place on my shelves as I’m sure I will want to re-visit it.




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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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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

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.

ADHD explained

Factual, evidence-based answers to common questions, controversies and misconceptions about ADHD.

ADHD explained

Having just put together my own piece on ADHD I came across this one which answers many of the questions and addresses many of the misconceptions. Please take the time to read it for further understanding as it’s very good.

REM – Half a World Away

I recently became aware that a lot of albums I love are having anniversaries (usually 30 years), which makes me feel very old, but also astonished at how I managed to be into such good music at such a young age (a coolness I was unable to sustain, I’m afraid). Maybe there was so much good music about that I just couldn’t help but absorb it–that’s my general memory of the 90s anyway. Great music, no mobile phones, no Facebook….. ah, those were the days.

I remember buying a cassette of Out of Time from my local record store (it might even have been an Our Price) and rushing home to listen to it. It was such a wonderful album that surpassed anything I had ever heard before. I only bought it because I had heard Shiny Happy People on the radio and loved it. I very quickly realised that the rest of the album was even better. I was 12 years old and my love affair with music started right there. From then on I spent my pocket money on Q Magazine and whatever new album they were writing about.

Amongst die hard REM fans (of which I count myself as one) I think its reputation is that it’s got some good stuff but is kind of a chaotic experiment inferior to their early albums. I disagree. There are a couple of mediocre tracks on it (Radio Song and Shiny Happy People) but every other song on that album is either very good or magnificent (even Endgame, which has no words!). Even at a distance of 30 years, even knowing there was better yet to come, these amazing songs have such a power to move me.

I have agonised the past couple of days about which song to pick to represent the album. I narrowed it down to Belong or Half a World Away but it’s a tough call.

So…. To mark the 30th birthday of Out of Time, here is Half a World Away. Enjoy it, then listen to the full album…

Song
Half A World Away
Artist
R.E.M.
Licensed to YouTube by
UMG (on behalf of Concord Records); UMPG Publishing, LatinAutorPerf, LatinAutor – UMPG, Warner Chappell, CMRRA, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, UMPI, and 8 Music Rights Societies

Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys -A double bill inspired by my ADHD experiences (See previous posts for full explanation!)

Music Monday is a weekly meme by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek 

Radiohead- No Surprises

‘No Surprises’ is taken from ‘OK Computer’ Director: Grant Gee Producer: Phil Barnes Cinematography: Dan Landin Production company: Kudos (Music Video)

Licensed to YouTube by

Beggars (on behalf of XL Recordings); Warner Chappell, ASCAP, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, PEDL, LatinAutorPerf, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, CMRRA, and 9 Music Rights Societies

A heart that’s full up like a landfill
A job that slowly kills you
Bruises that won’t heal

You look so tired, unhappy
Bring down the government
They don’t, they don’t speak for us

I’ll take a quiet life
A handshake of carbon monoxide
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
Silent
Silent

This is my final fit
My final bellyache with
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises, please

Such a pretty house
And such a pretty garden
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises, please

Songwriters: Greenwood Colin, Greenwood Jonathan

For non-commercial use only.

Data from: Musixmatch

Arctic Monkeys -Mardy Bum

Provided to YouTube by Domino Mardy Bum · Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not ℗ Domino Recording Co Ltd

Well, now then, mardy bum
I’ve seen your frown
And it’s like looking down the barrel of a gun
And it goes off
And out come all these words
Oh, there’s a very pleasant side to you
A side I much prefer

It’s one that laughs and jokes around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember that
On a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got the face on

Well, now then, mardy bum
Oh I’m in trouble again, aren’t I?
I thought as much
‘Cause you turned over there
And pulling that silent disappointment face
The one that I can’t bear

Well can’t we just laugh and joke around?
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember that
On a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got the face on

And yeah, I’m sorry I was late
But I missed the train
And then the traffic was a state
And I can’t be arsed to carry on in this debate
That reoccurs oh when you say I don’t care
But of course I do, yeah, I clearly do

So laugh and joke around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen?
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Ah but it’s right hard to remember that
On a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got the face on

Songwriters: Turner Alexander David

For non-commercial use only.

Data from: Musixmatch