Tag Archives: Blogging

Rules Are Made To Be Broken

1 Feb

Taking an inadvertent blogging break due to all of the studying I’m doing, I came across a post I wrote (hey, poets need downtime, too, you know), about a deliberate blogging break I took in 2013:

When I have time on my hands like this, I start thinking about myself. Always a mistake.  Last time I had nothing to do, I set a few rules and general guidelines to make Tilly Bud Tilly Blooming Lovely, Inside And Out.  Tilly Blooming Lovely IAO is, I am sure, well-groomed, relaxed, affable, clean, and at peace with herself.  Everyone will love her. Tilly Bud: The Menopause Years, not so much.

Forgive the use of an old photo; I wanted to look my best for you.

The Rules:

Presentation:

  • Tilly Bud shall forthwith cease and desist speaking of herself in the third person.
  • I’ll stop the pompous balderdash as well.
  • I will address the next lot of rules to ‘you’ because the use of first person negates the funny.  Take it as read that ‘you’ is ‘me’.

Diet:

  • When you eat the last Malteser, don’t open another box for at least an hour.
  • Stop eating: you cannot starve to death in a morning.
  • Exercise is not the enemy.  Dance, be a flibbertigibbet, chase the Hub around the house.
  • Galaxy Bubbles are not an acceptable substitute for Maltesers.  Nor are Galaxy Bars, Galaxy Ripples or Galaxy Minstrels.
  • They can, however, be enjoyed as a side dish.

Home:

  • Never miss an opportunity to clean.
  • The synchronicity of a dust bunny behind the couch and a vacuum cleaner in your hand should never be overlooked.

Computer:

  • Nothing bad will happen if you stay offline for ten minutes.
  • If your hand resembles a claw, put down the mouse and step away from the laptop.

Family:

  • It’s okay to be nice to the Hub.
  • Really.
  • Just because your child didn’t call doesn’t mean A) you are a bad mother or B) he doesn’t love you.  It means he’s a bad son who doesn’t appreciate your stretch marks.
  • Dogs are not substitute children.

Blog:

  • It’s okay to be nice about the Hub.
  • Really.
  • Serendipity gave him to you; keep him sweet by throwing out the occasional compliment.

General:

  • Stupid is as stupid does: pick a side.
  • Life is like a box of chocolates: you can be a soft centre and a nut.
  • Really.
  • Forrest Gump is not the Oracle.  And that’s all I have to say about that.
  • Never miss an opportunity to laugh (the first point under ‘Home’ refers)

This post first appeared five years ago.  Tilly Bud has since learned that the rules only work if you adhere to them.

Here’s One I Wrote Earlier

10 Dec

Hello, dear reader!  (I’m assuming I only have one left now, so long have I been gone).  I’ve been busy since September and here’s an article I wrote, first published in October on the Write Out Loud website, to explain why:

                             My student ID pic

Since graduating with a BA in literature in 2008, it has been my dream to complete an MA in creative writing; specifically, poetry. I knew I needed to mature as a writer, and that happened to coincide with having no money. I was able to apply to Manchester Metropolitan University this summer, however, because a couple of years ago the government introduced student loans for a second degree.

Reader, I was accepted. I was overjoyed, particularly as the news came at the end of Freshers Week, when I was wondering why I hadn’t yet received my rejection email.

A welcome email arrived on the Thursday, from the writing school’s manager; followed by the offer email on Friday, around five pm. I was excited and panicked at the same time: I have to apply for student finance? (You certainly do!) When do I start? (Monday?!). Will I be allowed to attend class if my finance isn’t in place? (Yes). Where do I go? (The old Cornerhouse). What do I do? (Not panic…oops, too late).

My first degree was with the Open University so I was excited to go to a “real” i.e. brick university but, oh, how at first I wish I hadn’t bothered. Two weeks in and it was all YOU OWE US MONEY GIVE US MONEY YOU WILL BE SANCTIONED IF YOU DON’T PAY THE MONEY SHOW US THE MONEY.

I understand that education is big business these days, but please, MMU, don’t invite me at the last minute so that I miss out on the helpful information; leave me to flounder; and then nag me to the death of joy. Truthfully, at this stage I’d be happier with my notebook and pen and just the one degree, thank you very much.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: three weeks in, the course is fabulous. It is challenging and difficult and I am surrounded by so much talent I can’t help feeling they made a mistake when they sent out the offer letter. But you’d have to pry it from my cold, dead Gmail account first.

You know you’ve never had it so good when one of your professors is Michael Symmons Roberts and the other is Carol Ann Duffy. And when the poet laureate hands out free books, takes you across the road to the pub and buys you a drink and, when you ask for some advice says, “That’s what I’m here for,” you know you’ll say: “Here’s the money! I had to sell my children to get it, but it is totally worth it!”

Excited? Yes. Terrified? Yes. Fed up with officialdom? Always. Would I want to be anywhere else? What do you think?

I Lost A Friend

9 May

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

Photo copyright RR Nichols

Her personal blog

Her political blog

Some of you read Laurie Nichols’ blog; more of you will have seen her comments on my blog.  For those who have been wondering, I’m sad to report that Laurie passed away on February 17th, aged 49, due to complications caused by her cancer.  Her husband Robert told me that he was with her the last 60 days of her life full time in the room, talking, and holding her hand and making sure she was comfortable.

Laurie was a beautiful woman, inside and out.  She was sweet and kind and lived life to the full.  She loved politics, gardening, travelling with her husband, cooking, movies, her dogs but, above all, she loved her family.

She was one of my greatest cheerleaders and we corresponded privately as well as through our blogs.  A favourite memory is the time she sent me some elephant ears, all the way from the US to the UK.  You can read about it here.  That post arose from another post (read that one here) I had written, and here is the conversation which ensued in the second post, which was the first post (hey, I may be missing Laurie but she’d expect me to write as confusingly as always):

Laurie: Love, love, love this! I bake Elephant ear cookies (Palmier cookies in French) so I thought that the bad man had thrown her cookies off the balcony, I never heard of a plant called Elephant ears. I would have been crying too if a bad man had thrown my cookies off the balcony, they are so delicious, flaky pastry dough folded umpteenth times in sugar and baked until golden and caramelized, cookie bliss. 🙂

TB: Drooling…

Laurie: Sorry about the drool, they are drool worthy though, next time I make a batch, I’ll be sure to send you some. 🙂

TB: The reading of this comment constitutes a legally binding contract under blog law.  Can’t wait! 🙂

Laurie: Don’t worry I honor all of my promises, you will be getting a surprise by the end of the month or the beginning of April the latest. 🙂

TB: Bless you!

Laurie: Anything for my Tilly 😀

And that’s Laurie in a biscuit tin.  The biscuits arrived as promised, and were devoured.  I still have the tin she sent them in.

DSCN2836

I miss her.  I miss her a lot.

 

In The Last Week I Have

18 Nov
  • Photo by Pam RobinsonDisplaying FB_IMG_1479336801999.jpg
  • Given three short poetry readings
  • Hosted my firstborn child, Rarity Boy
  • Made the best fairy cakes I’ve ever baked
  • Made the worst fairy cakes I’ve ever baked
  • Baked!  Who’d have thunk it?
  • Chatted to the Mayor
  • Put a hole in my knee (and my favourite black leggings)
  • Proofread and/or critiqued at least five documents of one sort or another
  • Missed the Supermoon, as expected – Stockport doesn’t do celestial events, being under one continuous cloud blanket since I moved here in 1996
  • Made a roast dinner in a state of mild hysteria
  • Attended two meetings
  • Been unable to buy train tickets on a website because it’s just too hard!
  • Allowed my last born child to patronise me because he knows how to buy train tickets off the internet
  • Felt immense guilt that I haven’t replied to your comments or returned your visits
  • Not been paid for anything on this list
  • Wished I had a penny for every moment of guilt felt because then I could pay someone to reply to your comments and return your visits
  • Found the first photo of me I’ve actually liked since 2003 (banner photo notwithstanding, because that’s of the Hub and I, who I love soooooo much)
  • Considered replacing the Hub, who broke my Tree of War mug, even though he offered to give me his as a replacement; maybe I’ll replace him with his mug…or just bean him with it
  • Put off going in the shower by writing this when I should be getting ready to go out to another meeting

I apologise for the smell

Viv

15 Jul
My favourite photo of Viv

My favourite photo of Viv

I never truly understood the concept of a heavy heart until this past week, when I heard the news that my beloved friend Viv had died.

Many of you knew her, whether online or in person; many more must have read her comments on my blog: she was one of my greatest supporters and cheerleaders. I loved her very much.  I’m glad I told her so.

I am not alone in my love: once the news had been posted by her family, on her blog, comments poured in from all over the world; dismay and sadness were the chief emotions, but many happy memories were shared.  The comment box not being enough, other bloggers posted their own tributes to Viv.  She deserves each and every one.

This isn’t a case of not speaking evil of the dead: she was a genuinely good and generous woman.  She was passionate about music, nature, the environment, quilting, poetry, education, friends, family…but most of all, she was passionate about life.  She lived.  She lived fully.  Despite pain and suffering, she lived right up to the end.  You could never accuse her of apathy.

She was always honest – here’s what turned out to be her last critique of one of my poems:

No and thrice no.  In questionable taste and unfunny!!!!!

I shall treasure it forever.

DSCN0956My heart has been heavy because of her loss; but also because I wanted to write this post – even had it roughed out in my head – but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  If I put it into print, then it became true: my dear Viv has gone.

My dear Viv has gone.

Upon hearing the news of a beloved’s death, people react differently: some cry, some scream, some freeze.  Some pretend it never happened. Some can’t believe that it happened.  All wish it hadn’t happened.

But for each person, no matter their reaction, there is one constant: emotion, like a boulder, sits on the chest – in the chest – where the beloved once resided.  Like Sisyphus, we try to push it away.  Unlike Sisyphus, we eventually succeed.  It may take months, years, decades but, sooner or later, the unbearable loss becomes bearable, and only love remains.

Once a person lodges in your heart, they never leave.  An osmosis occurs; and separation is merely physical.

Viv will always be a part of my life; I will always remember her.  How could I not? Before I met her, when we were friends online only, her personality was such that I was convinced ‘Viv’ was short for ‘vivacious’.  Imagine the full force of her charm and sweetness (she was often tart in print; never in person, that I ever saw) once we actually did meet.  I loved her at once.  You would have, too.

ViV compressed

Photo © Blake/Hutt
Viv graduating from the Open University

Do yourself a favour and visit her blog, if you haven’t before.  She wrote poetry from the heart – like she lived her life – but it was always accessible.  Enjoy her rants on war, politicians, terrorism, the way we treat the environment.  Revel in her sublime appreciation of nature.  Mourn the loss of a unique and special woman; and, like me, be grateful if you knew her at all.

 

The £50 Sausage Roll

27 Jun

DSCN0150

I guess it’s up to me to start the ball rolling…two weeks ago tomorrow, I met up with three other bloggers.  You may recall my anxiety about it and your endearing replies, to wit: Stuff ’em if they don’t like you; we do and that’s all that matters.

Terribly sweet, thank you; if a little unfair to three lovely bloggers who would have written the same thing, I’m betting, if it hadn’t been them I was meeting.

Back to the ball: don’t you think it’s peculiar that we are all bloggers and yet no one has written anything at all about our day?  I can’t decide if it’s:

  • Fear of what everyone else might say so they’re exercising a little caution i.e. waiting for someone else to go first, to check if what they’ve written is nice/nasty/sweet/flattering/boring/complete lies, and then they’ll reply accordingly
  • Idleness
  • That they’ve been far too busy with their real lives to write about me, me and more me
  • That I didn’t provide enough Maltesers and now they’re punishing me
  • That they are still recovering from the horror of it all
  • Something else.  What do you think their something else could be?  Answers in the comments, please (bearing in mind that all three bloggers will read what you’ve written, so be nice/sweet/flattering/tell complete lies)

The day began, as all of my days seem to begin lately, with a train.  Specifically, the Stockport to London Express (similar to the very first express train journey in the days of steam from Stockton to Darlington, only not as fast).

When I booked the tickets (which is to say, every so often I would say to the Hub, ‘Have you booked my tickets yet?  Better get a move on; I’m going next week.  I wish I didn’t have to keep reminding you.’  And he would reply, ‘I will; just as soon as you tell me which day you’re going and what times you want to travel.  As I keep asking you.’  Such a nag) the Hub suggested I travel First Class as a treat, because they had an offer on: £96.  I could do First Class, I thought, Sure; why not?

Turns out, I can’t do First Class.  Not both ways, anyway.  And not even one way, I suspect my fellow passenger was thinking fifteen minutes into my journey.

I arrived at the station early enough to catch the previous Stockport-London train if I hadn’t bought an Advance Saver ticket, which is the only way I could afford to travel First Class.  I had to wait for the train  I was booked on, but this sign made me giggle for the time I had to wait:

DSCN0147

The train arrived; I ran to the back coach to board, terrified I’d miss it (hence the fifty minute wait at the station).  Horror!  A man had put his briefcase and jacket on my seat!  What to do?  What to do?

There’s this whole British embarrassment thing going on, you see, that says if someone behaves inappropriately on a train, you have to ignore it and not make a fuss.  It is best exemplified by an apocryphal story from back in the days of British Rail.  

***BRIEF WRITING HIATUS WHILE I LOOK IT UP ***

I was going to tell it and I thought I’d Google it because I’m a dreadful storyteller. That is, I’m dreadful at telling stories; I don’t tell dreadful stories.  I hope.  I tend to wander off down random alleyways, like Ronnie Corbett on acid, and this post is supposed to be a five-minute read; but clearly isn’t.  I don’t want to make it even longer.  

When I Googled the story, I discovered it’s actually true!  And, unfortunately, a little too blue for a family blog, so you’ll have to click on this link if you want to know the story.  And you should click on the link, because you’ll never read a more accurate example of true Britishness.

So there I was, British and embarrassed, but I had paid for that seat and First Class is a rare treat so I blushed from the hair on my head to the hair on my toes and whispered to the gentleman that I thought he might have – excuse me – put his belongings on my seat and would he mind terribly…?

He did not mind, being British and horribly embarrassed at his very public solecism; and he stood up to let me past (no squeezing past because this was First Class and there was tons of room) to my window seat, moving his belongings out of the way.  We smiled politely without making eye contact and then ignored each other as much as possible.

I got comfortable: Kindle out – hardly read a page when oh goodie! the tea came round – oops! forgot to message the Hub that I’m safe on the train – and should I message Al that I’m on my way?  Yes, because I’m really excited – get bag out – phone out – message them – put phone away – bag away – oh, wait – wanted to write something in my notebook – get bag out – put Kindle away – get notebook out – put bag away – write three lines in notebook – get bag out – put notebook away – get Kindle out – put bag away…and so on.  Then breakfast was served and I swear my neighbour had a mini-stroke.

I wish I was joking.  Sadly, I’m not: I am that annoying passenger you wish hot tea would spill upon.  I assure you it’s not deliberate; it’s nerves.  I’m an anxious – and therefore fidgety – traveller.  Sorry about that, multiple strangers I’ve annoyed in my lifetime.

To be on the safe side, I ordered something I could eat with a minimum of fuss i.e. no cutlery, so it was two overdone sausages on a dry roll instead of the full English I’d have ordered if I hadn’t been A. embarrassed at how irritating I was and B. worried that I might cause the businessman to have a heart attack if he had to sit through my sideways fidgets on top of everything else.  DSCN0148

The roll was dry, by the way, because I’m not used to being posh.  When I buy something on a bread roll from a shop, for example, I just expect the roll to be buttered, because it has never not been buttered.  The Other Half, however (and how I was wishing by this point that I wasn’t discovering how they lived), are offered butter and thus choose to have it on the bread roll or not, according to their dietary needs, I suppose.  Unfortunately for me, a surfeit of choice from some people having more money than sense means that ordinary working class women are left ignorant when offered butter and think it is extra butter and don’t want to betray their ignorance of the Ways of the Rich or their own on again-off again diets and so decline the extra pat which turns out not to be extra at all; just simply all.

And of course, being British, when I discovered I was down one butter pat and would have to eat a dry roll or ask for butter after all, I chose to eat a dry roll.

That drama over, I looked up from my half-eaten breakfast (would you eat an overcooked sausage on a dry bread roll?  Then stop judging me) and made the truly appalling discovery that there only five passengers in the whole coach…which meant I had made a stranger move his things for nothing!  

I wanted to crawl into that leftover bread roll and be served on a platter to The Giant Embarrassment (I believe you’ll find him in a fairytale about sex and trains and cigarettes), who eats idiot working class English women for breakfast.

I apologised profusely to my neighbour and then made him move so I could move to the other side of the table and stop crowding him with my blush.

I settled down to read.  Had a cup of tea.  Wrote in my notebook for a bit.  Read some more.  Drank tea.  Wrote some more.  Drank tea.  The nice thing about travelling First Class is all the free tea.  What I didn’t like was being asked to use the same cup again.  I’m a bit of a diva that way so I owned my temporarily elevated status and insisted on a clean cup each time.  As there were so few passengers, I used all of the clean cups around, to the side, and behind me.

Then my table mate asked for a second cup.  

Guess who had used all of the clean cups…?  

Kill me now.

When the train pulled into Euston two hours after setting off, I was seven pounds lighter from all of the nervous sweating I’d done.  No wonder my fellow passenger did a runner the minute we stopped.

But he did wish me a good day; he was British after all: there’s no need to be rude to the aggravating hoyden who took all the space, drank all the tea, fidgeted, unnecessarily moved him twice and – worst sin of all – left crumbs on her seat from her dry breakfast roll.  Why not use butter like ordinary people?

First Class…it’s not for me.  As I discovered when I obsessively checked my ticket before returning home that day: First Class had only been booked one way; the train company website had been rather vague when I booked my ticket and I hadn’t noticed that the home ticket cost £23 to the outward journey’s £73; which meant that my half-eaten and unappetising breakfast had, in effect, cost me £50.

I had to travel back in standard class instead of First.  I’ve never been so relieved in all my life.

*

More to follow on the lovely day I had with my fellow bloggers; but the post will probably be considerably shorter.

 

Ooooo…

14 Jun

I’m meeting several bloggers in London today.

Sigh.

Three more people who are going to discover I’m funnier in ether than in person (Viv, no need to reassure me in the comments, but thank you in advance for thinking of me).

In the ether, you see, I can rewrite the dull; in person, I’m borderline offensive when I mean to be amusing.

Not having a crisis of confidence at all. No, sir; not me.

                                                                                                                 Wish them luck.

 

 

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