Another keepsake from the past…

My blog last week about the ten things I can’t live without reminded me of those little clippings from Just Seventeen and this one also resurfaced:

I’ve always thought I’m a successful presenter (well, feedback forms told me so, unless all those people I’ve trained were just afraid I’d hunt them down and kill them) because I’m natural. I don’t care what you think of me, much. I try hard, I’m sincere, I believe what I say. I did part of my Masters on ‘authenticity’ – whether our inner self is in step with our outer self – it’s a cause of many problems in life and in work. Ironically, when I left teaching, I was most in danger of not being authentic,  because I was disguising this huge depression. My boss said: “You? Depressed?!”

He honestly couldn’t believe it. I guess if you wear orange suits and appear cheerful, people don’t think you’re sad. However, like Shirley Bassey, I bang my own drum and some think it’s noise and some think it’s pretty. I guess I’m not too bad at number one.

Jake is probably best to attest to me embarrassing him. He ‘forgot’ to bring all his stuff for homework, so I took him to school, told his teacher and went to pick him up on my bike, wearing my fluffy pink hat. A boy is never, ever going to ‘forget’ to bring his homework home. Apparently, Jake is a cancer, and that is ‘gay’ because he doesn’t have cancer. Ironically, he’s just looking in his homework diary now. Nobody, but nobody wants me turning up at school in a pink hat to help retrieve homework.

He said “If you think I’m doing this every night, you can think again!”

He was right. I didn’t need to do it again. Embarrassment is a great weapon. I’m reminded of that man who sees his children off on the school bus every morning, wearing fancy dress. I’d be that parent. This is why I don’t have children and it’s probably not a good idea for me to start making plans for any.

Getting on with it. Yes. Okay. I moan sometimes, but if something needs doing, it gets done. I built my reputation on it.

Philosophy – maybe my Bible lecture yesterday is testament to that. I quite often think my depression is existential angst, and I confess to having a love of all things thoughtful. I still haven’t found any answers, though, which is annoying. God doesn’t talk back much. Actually, I’m glad about it because if He did, I’d die of shock. Or I’d be a Saint and people would come to my house on pilgrimage.

Grinning. I’m not sure. Maybe I grin. Apparently, I smile like Cherie Blair. This is better than Steve calling me Rose West as he has been recently. I don’t mind. If you’re good at embarrassing people, you have to be able to take it. I’m a fairly smiley person because if I don’t smile, I look like Rose West.

I don’t know about survival courses. I used to be a triathlete and I’ve done marathons, but my feet are K-N-A-C-K-E-R-E-D. But I subscribe to all manner of survivalist/homesteading blogs and I know what a BOB is and have plans for when the economy completely collapses. Be prepared. I bet you didn’t know that about me!

Spending money. Yes, I’ve spent it like it’s going out of fashion. However, I’ve got a good sense of how much I’ve got and I can live poor too. I was only saying to Steve today about this place I lived in, in Sheffield, where I had to put my mattress over a huge hole in the floorboards a) so I didn’t fall through the floor and b) the outside air didn’t come in. I lived in a squalid room once above a pub next door to a Goth who liked to listen to the Sisters of Mercy at full blast. I lived in a freezing cold building with sixteen other people right in the middle of Sheffield’s red light district. And when I came back west, I lived with other people. That’s what you do when you’re poor. I was saying this in context of the rising ‘dole’ problem I see in England, with a million 16-24s in unemployment. I’d never have thought to claim the dole or get benefits. And if you need to share a house, you share a house. If you need to live at home, you live at home. That’s how it worked. You didn’t move out into a two-bed house with carpets and ovens and no holes in the floorboards and expect the state to pay. Meh. That’s the problem with money these days. I worked in the days before minimum wage and I did lots of bits of jobs to make some money – collected milk money, worked in a greengrocers. When other people were going with their parents for work experience, I was out there getting work experience in the local hotel, knowing they might give me a job after. They did. I worked in restaurants and I worked in pubs. Even when I was teaching, I was tutoring (I did so for the first five years of teaching – just to make a little extra. It’s amazing how much further £100 will go) and I was working in pubs. I’d still have been working in The Bridge if it hadn’t gone and blown up! And I’d never, ever have thought of taking money from the Government, because that should be for people who need it. Kids don’t think like that these days. If they have to work for minimum wage, and heaven forbid that only brings them in £20 more than dole and housing benefit, then they don’t see that they should work. I worked for much less than I’d get on the dole, and did lots of work to make sure I had enough, even if I only spent £8 on my shopping each week. I ate well too.

Languages. I guess. I pick them up easily. Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French, Italian… bits of Dutch and German. I like languages. I like words. I’d prefer a book to a film and I’d prefer to write over all other art forms. So this isn’t too far off the mark on that.

Ah… and the one that should be at number 1. Telling right from wrong. God I’m a moralist. I’ve often said I should be in charge of the world and make people’s decisions for them. Usually, I say this if I have the misfortune to watch Jeremy Kyle. I’m not always so good at doing the right thing, but I do try. You can see that with the money thing. And the honesty thing. I’ve often wanted (and said it too!) one of those signs they have at football that say ‘OFF’ – and I could have one of these and flash it at people when they were doing something deeply offensive to me, to the planet or to other human beings. I think I get this from my Uncle Paul. He wants all lorries fitted with a 6 foot spike in the seat which can be activated when certain drivers (i.e. him) set off a remote. He’d press it if they were driving badly.

Yes, I definitely get it from my Uncle Paul. He’s a trade union guy and whilst he fights the corner sometimes for people who are complete idiots, he’s a man after my own heart, because mostly it’s the little guy against the big corporation.

And travelling on my own – yes. In fact, whilst I like the company, I like travelling on my own too. Those days in Morocco or Brazil when I was completely at my own devices – I take the world at my pace (uber-fast, see everything, stop and marvel at the things that most need it, get lost a bit and enjoy it, take lots of pictures, read, have coffee) and I meet lots of great people. The taxi guy in Morocco was horrified when I turned up without a hotel in mind or reserved. “Take me somewhere you think I’ll like,” I said. “I want somewhere not too expensive, somewhere interesting. Not just your standard hotels.”

He took me to a fabulous hotel – my room was stunning.

My room in Casablanca

It was absolutely huge with the most mahoosive bed I’ve ever slept in and it was half the price of the usual hotels because it was new. The next day, he arranged for his friend Khalid to pick me up and take me around Casa – £10 for a day tour in an ancient Merc with amazing sagging seats. Every day, Khalid came to have a coffee with me and the bar manager came and ate breakfast with me. Many men in Morocco are VERY concerned about girls travelling on their own. On the other hand, if I hadn’t been on my own, I wouldn’t have got this picture:

Amazing image and an amazing afternoon

It was the kind of afternoon that doesn’t really happen when you travel with other people – you kind of huddle up in a group and don’t get to know the people where you are. These guys in this drum shop in Essaouira were such great guys. We drank tea, we talked in a garbled French-English-Spanish and back again whenever one felt better than the others. If I’d been with someone else, they probably wouldn’t have really talked to me. The kindness of strangers is never so powerful as when you are on your own – people are much more interested in you when you are on your own. I don’t know why. Maybe you seem intrepid. Maybe you seem lonely. Maybe it’s that great joy of being able to talk to someone you know you won’t see again, a bit like a free therapist.

Plus, when you are on your own, you can go places you want to and stay as long as you like. You can’t do that when you’re conscious of other people’s boredom. I climbed up this pigeon-poop-infested church tower when the guy only let me because it was just me. And I got the most amazing shots of Casablanca.

The Cathedral in Casa

So that last one is a bit of a thing of mine, despite how much it makes my Nana worry!

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