Monday, 26 April 2010

St George's Day - To Celebrate or Not?

So do you think we should celebrate our Saint’s day? Personally I think we should. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I named my youngest son George, so now we always make an occasion of it, but on reflection I think why not? Why are we Englishers afraid of celebrating our history? Or perhaps we are just apathetic? I’m not sure, but with my husband’s family having Irish roots I’ve certainly learnt how you can celebrate something if you want to put your mind to it.
So how did we celebrate St George’s day - or should I say weekend?
We live not far from Beeston Castle- a medieval ruin which stands 500ft above the Cheshire plain. On a normal day it’s a great place to g - once you’ve puffed your way to the top - the views are out of this world.
This weekend my two little knights jousted all the way to the top where we then enjoyed a picnic. It was a beautiful sunny day but all that way up it was a little windy so after we’d eaten our fill and the boys had explored the ruins, we made our way back down to the bottom where we enjoyed the real entertainment.
A re-enactment group was in full force - brightly coloured tents were sent up and the wood fires were burning - they should have been roasting a hog - and it was just like something out of Merlin.
A juggler was entertaining the crowds - and boy was he funny, whilst entertaining the youngsters, he also threw in enough double entendres to keep the adults chuckling away. This was followed by an re-enactment of St George slaying the dragon and then a jousting tournament with the clashing of swords and the clanking of full armour. With the sun beating down on us it was really an afternoon to remember and afterwards the boys even got to try out the helmets for size and feel the weight of the swords - I don’t think they’ll forget that in a hurry.
Then on Sunday my eldest took part in the St George’s day parade with cubs. We all met at Chester Castle - not quite as impressive as the views from Beeston but just as steeped in history - and then the boys, and girls, marched through the city centre to the sound of the brass band. Do you what? Its great when the police actually stop the traffic for you and a brass band is always rather stirring.
But whilst we were following the parade a thought struck me. We’re really good at the pomp and ceremony, so why don’t wee do it more often?
In my opinion when we try we’re pretty good at blowing our own trumpet when we make the effort, so why don’t we do it more often? Celebrating what’s good about being English isn’t something we should be afraid of. And it shouldn’t mean that we don’t embrace other races or religions either. Just that this country does have a history and we should be proud of what is good about it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Shirley Valentine and Times Gone By

The other night as I was idly flicking through the television channels I came across the film Shirley Valentine. No matter how many times I’ve watched the flim, it always comes across as fresh as the first time I watched it and is just as poignant.

The film was at the hilarious point where Shirley meets her old school friend (Joanna Lumley). Shirley admits that she thought her friend was an air hostess and Joanna comes back as says, “Good Lord no, I’m a hooker.” or words to that affect.

The bit that really got to me though is when Shirley is on the bus going home, and is remembering how she used to be when she was a girl, full of hopes and dreams for the future.

I think that bit really got to me because I had a similar experience recently. At the end of March I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years – where did they go then?

We decided to celebrate by going away for a weekend without the children which we have done so rarely in the last ten years. (I was pregnant with our first son on our first anniversary, so technically we haven’t yet had an anniversary on our own).

We looked at various different options but settled on a weekend in London. On the Friday morning we travelled down on the train, stayed at a really nice hotel close to Tower Bridge (with swimming pool and spar), had a champagne flight on the London Eye and went to see Phantom of the Opera at the theatre. All in all a wonderful and memorable occasion.

I enjoy going to visit London because for nine years I used to live there. I’ve always had a fascination for our capital city and decided to go to polytechnic in north London when I was 18. I didn’t come back to the north west until I was 27. I lived in a variety of places and had so many experiences there that I can barely remember them all. But sitting on the tube and exploring places where I used to go or live brought a lot of them back to me. On the Saturday we got the tube to Richmond where I used to live and work and then followed the river all the way round to Chiswick; also a place I have lived in.

It was really weird, as though those things had happened to a different person in another lifetime and I found it really hard to reconcile the person I am now to the person I was then.

I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with my life or how things have turned out just that the years have flown by so quickly. In my head I’m still in my early twenties and sometimes it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that I’m actually in my early forties (despite the continual reminders from my boys).

I also began to think about all the time I wasted when I was down there, when I should have been out and about and making the most of the attractions of such a wonderful city and its made me more determined to make the most of what I have here, especially now the sun has started to shine.

Have you had any profound or thought provoking experiences recently?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Aiming High

Hello to anyone out there.

I've been away from blogland for a while, mainly due to juggling Easter school holidays with work. I really wish that I had a term time only job, but then again at the moment I'm one of the lucky few who does have a job so I shouldn't really complain. But I'm back now and will try to be a bit more of a consistent blogger!

One of the questions which niggles me as an unpublished writer is: "Am I any good?" followed closely by: "Will I ever be any good?" and its those kind of questions which can drag you down and mean that you don't write anything at all. A self fulfilling prophecy is ever there was one!

But this Easter I was taught a lesson in self-belief from my 6 year old son.

He was telling me that he was sad because it was Good Friday and it was the day that Jesus died. My eldest son is about to take his first communion next month and little fella is taking a keen interest in everything his older brother is learning. He's actually one of the few children I know who enjoys going to church (I don't suppose it will last). So with his current interest at a high I casually asked if he wanted to be a priest when he grew up to which he promptly answered "no". I then asked him what he did want to be expecting the usual answer of a footballer or a chef.

So I was completely floored when his answer was "I want to be God". Now if that isn't aiming for the top I don't know what is.

So there you have it. If my six year old can aim to be God then becoming a published writer should be a piece of cake. Shouldn't it?

Perhaps if we all reach for the stars we may at least end up a little bit nearer to the sky.

Take care everyone out there and aim high. You know you want to.