The GateHouse Pub


I love Sarah’s prompt for this week, but I don’t think I can give an authoritative answer to this one. I will tell you about one pub where I have some special memories I cling to though.

Where I am living now there are pubs a-plenty, and lots of restaurants. This area is very popular with tourists and visitors. Most of the pubs are owned by Youngs – a pub restaurant company with quite an empire up and down the country. I don’t know which is the best. I have visited most of them with friends, but I have not adopted any of them as my pub of preference.

The thing about a pub is…it’s not just the food, it’s not just the staff, it’s not just about the comfort and seating, it’s not just about the music they play, it’s not just the other people at the pub…it’s all of the above that create an atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed and forget all your troubles.

In the town I grew up, all of the local pubs were a bit too rough and ready for me to go anywhere near them! But I have travelled a lot within the UK, and I discovered country pubs when local volunteers took us for a drink after a long day on a construction site or a large public event. They took us to some beautiful pubs with a relaxed atmosphere and we felt comfortable there.

Of the pubs I have visited up and down the country with friends and workmates, some I have enjoyed, others not so much. I think on the whole, when I didn’t enjoy a pub, it was because of the behaviour of some eeed-yats who had drunk too much and decided to act up. Whenever that has happened, my friends and I would make a hasty departure. That’s the risk of pubs – you never know who else will be there and how much they will drink and the effect it has on them. So we are always ready to move on when the atmosphere changes.

I have lots of memories of fun nights with friends at pubs. We have played cards, we have put the world to rights, we have shared portions of chips or onion rings, we have argued over whose round it was, we have laughed, even danced, and occasionally cried together. In London especially, many of my friends and I have lived in tiny flats, where we had to be considerate of our neighbours. So meeting up for a drink at a local pub where there was more space and we could make a little bit more noise was handy.

I know quite a few of the pubs in Highgate, Hampstead, Muswell Hill, Finchley, Mill Hill, Whetstone, Crouch End, Holloway, Kentish Town….and beyond. I am going to tell you about one pub, it’s not necessarily the best pub, but it is one pub where I have some memories with friends that I like to keep close.


My memory is of an evening that ended at The Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village. But the whole evening is one I remember fondly. It took place on a Thursday evening, at the end of a warm summer’s day.

I met with the group I met every Thursday for a bootcamp. Normally we would run down to a local cricket pitch, where the class would start. We would run sprints, and do squats and leapfrogs and all sorts of different exercises. But this night was different. One of the lads was leaving London to move abroad as he was engaged to be married. So we were going to have the bootcamp at a different location – Hampstead Heath.

We drove to Hampstead Heath. We ran from the Highgate side of the Heath over to the Hampstead side. When we reached the Hampstead Ponds for mixed bathers (there are men only and women only ponds too), we stripped our running clothes off and all of us had our swimming costumes on. We jumped into the water and swam a couple of circuits around the pond. There was a bit of splashing each other too. There was hardly anyone else there at that time so we weren’t annoying anyone.


Afterwards, we put our running clothes on over our swimming costumes, and then ran back over to the Highgate side of the Heath. There we found a grassy spot and the guy who took the class shouted out some instructions which we followed, press-ups, squats, leap frogs and stretches.

VW camper.pngTwo of our friends (a married couple) had a VW Camper Van. So we all got changed in the back of the van. The girls went first, we had to take our damp clothes off and have a quick dry off and put on our warm dry clothes. Then it was the lad’s turn to change. Once we had all changed, we walked up the hill so we could have a goodbye drink with our friend who was moving abroad for his wedding.

After all that exercise we were hungry. So a few of us ordered some food. I can’t remember the drink I ordered…but I do remember I ordered a veggie burger. I remember that night, sitting with friends whose company I really enjoyed. For almost two years they had been a weekly escape from the challenges in my life. I felt happy with them, relaxed. Some of them knew Jack, my ex-flatmate, but they didn’t mention him. Nobody teased me about him, nobody taunted me. None of them referred to something that had been said about him and I. All of that group just liked me for me. We had the same interests, we loved keeping fit and exercising in a really fun way – outside in the fresh air.

at pub with friends.jpgI loved Thursday evenings because they were a complete escape from Jack, who had been pretty much making my life miserable for around two years by this point. That night we sat in The Gatehouse Pub and I felt happy, I felt really settled and secure. It was a lovely summer’s evening and I had spent it doing what I loved with people I felt very comfortable with. We laughed and we made a fuss of our friend who was moving. It was his last bootcamp with us and we all said our goodbyes. Although it was sad someone was leaving, I remember feeling so very happy that night.

But the very next day, Jack was back to his tricks taunting me, yet another rumour about he and I was doing the rounds on Facebook and Instagram and in Whatsapp groups. I strenuously denied it, as always. I passed Jack several times and he always looked at me with a hateful expression. That was a busy weekend. I was involved in several work projects and had training sessions to conduct. Also I helped a good friend with a huge party she had organized for the Saturday night. I only arrived back home after 3am on the Sunday morning after all the clearing up. Then Sunday was very busy. On Monday I had a television interview. I must have looked awful because I was so tired. Jack was on the same bus as me that day. He kept up his disdainful attitude.

AmbulanceOn the Tuesday I saw him several times and he was horrid. That evening, after I had been out with some friends in Highgate Village, at a pizzeria, I turned down an offer of a lift home by a friend, who lived near me. Instead, I walked to Hampstead Heath and sat on a bench and cried. At least an hour must have passed before a man sat next to me. The next morning, Wednesday morning, I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital.

at the pubIt turned out that was the last time I was ever at the Thursday bootcamp I loved so much. The last time I was with a group of friends who made me feel I could be me. The last time I was in a pub in Highgate with friends. The last evening I remember feeling happy and relaxed despite the challenges Jack was causing in my life. I cannot tell you how much I would love to be back there in the Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village with people who made me feel comfortable and relaxed and happy.


Is there a pub near you that you would describe as the best local pub? This is the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth MooreSarah Elizabeth Moore. Please link to her original post below:

Writing Prompt #11


I Had Piles!

kiddoThose first few years out in the world of adults were an education in themselves in toughening up generally, and learning about interacting with these grown men who seemed to regard me as a woman. Maybe that was the case legally, but I felt as if I had only just left school and wasn’t really ready for adulthood at all. I still don’t think I am ready yet. It also seemed the pace of life made it very difficult to try to figure out what was going on around me, especially when it came to interacting with men.

I had become easily embarrassed because of all this male attention that sometimes seemed to be due to my being tall-ish and having long-ish golden hair and an ample bosom, I was having so much success in other areas, but when it came to men – well in those days I realized I was easily flustered.

blondieFor a short time, I held an administration support post within the fashion industry. One day I was assigned a task that seemed simple enough: take this list of codes and go and find each of the garments (in the massive “development” store-room that housed them) that they belonged to. When I started though I realized this was going to be a laborious and very-time consuming effort. I was checking hundreds of tiny codes on labels and not finding the matching codes. It took me a couple of hours just to find about eight garments. I had several pages listing codes, roughly thirty codes on each page.

Now one of the men who worked within the company had become a popular topic of conversation amongst the women in the office. He had been given a big role within the company. He was extremely physically attractive, bronzed skin and many other eye-catching features, wealthy (due to success in business), drove a very flashy car (he was not much older than 30 so he had chosen a very sleek sporty number) and at that time lived in a nice pad in an exclusive area. It had also been mentioned in the media that he was now single again.

women gossipingCan you understand why the women who worked on the same premises began to bring up his name again and again? It all seems so ridiculous looking back and I am sure many of them would see that now. But I was a young woman who had been raised with respect for others, and now hearing this conversation confused me (and sometimes shocked me).  I have never liked gossip, it is one of the huge drawbacks of working in offices or any workplace with a large team.

Anyway, one of the ways in which I was effected was that whenever I passed this gorgeous specimen of a man, I was more nervous than before. I think it is fair to say that without any real substantial reason, knowing nothing of his true character and qualities, I was over-awed by him because of what others had said about him.

So, that afternoon I was still alone in the “development” store-room.  I was feeling rather dejected by my lack of progress and overwhelmed at the task ahead. There were rules about this store-room. Although there were a couple of secured doorways, those with a security swipe card were not to use the store-room as a short-cut (which it would have been). You were only to go into that store-room in connection with a work assignment – otherwise their was a lot of potential for employees to steal the latest designer clothes that were in stored there.  I heard one of the doors open and then slam shut, floowed by loud, quick foot-steps. A moment later I was surprised to find him right in front of me enquiring as to whether I was alright. Of course, that had not been his reason for entering the store-room (he was probably using it as a short-cut) but he had noticed me and came over. I remember nowgorgeous man that he really did have a beautiful smile and he was very friendly to me. At the time – I was just so glad to see someone. Although I felt nervous around him, this was overcome by my feelings of desperation at my predicament.

So, I told him the task I had been assigned and said that it was taking me “ages”. He took the paper-work from me. For the next few minutes he looked over the codes on the top sheet and pulled out another ten or so garments. He knew his work that well that he could see a code and recalled the garment it referred to. I was pretty hopeless staring at him and thanking him each time he handed me an item that he had matched. Anyway, he worked his way through all of the codes on that top page. I was so grateful I could have hugged him, but because it was him, of course I couldn’t. (By the way, I do prefer to think that he would have helped anyone in my place and it was a wholly unselfish act of kindness on his part to give a young woman his time and help.)

When he had finished, he asked me if there was anything else he could help me with. My words: “I’ve got piles”.  Now of course I meant the remaining pages of codes and of course he knew that too, but he could not resist it…He said “sorry I can’t help you with that – it’s going to have to be the doctor love.”

At the time, I was mortified. Later, I knew he was only teasing and I realized he had just given me fifteen minutes of his time to help me, all the while bestowing on me his beautiful smiles and his kindly chatter. (I have often thought that if some of the women in the offices had ever known I had been on my own with him for fifteen minutes, in a rather isolated and confined space – well that would have led to a lot more talk perhaps, and have given them easy opportunities to tease me frequently.)  He…had every right to give me a little tease after showing such kindness didn’t he?

nervousLessons learned: try not to be over-awed by fellow humans especially when you don’t really know anything substantial about them. When you are over-awed, try to keep your composure and think about the words that come out of your mouth because otherwise you may embarrass yourself yet again. When you do embarrass yourself and someone can’t resist teasing you – often they are truly kindly and don’t say what they say to be cruel, they just love a little laugh. 

Being able to laugh at your own mistakes is a fantastic asset. Never forget that what really makes a man or a woman is the qualities in their heart which will spill out all the time.

Icky Sticky

When you don’t foresee an icky sticky outcome, and look back and try to figure out what on earth happened.

chalk and cheeseA situation developed within a work setting: There was a male colleague. I don’t want to be unkind, but to say we were like “chalk and cheese” is a very kind way of expressing how little attraction there was on my part for him.  Not just NO, more NEVER EVER in my mind.

On a few occasions, we worked together. As with most work mates there was a degree of non-work related chatter. Some of it fell flat because we were bringing up subjects that were of little interest to each other. Of course, I don’t know what his perceptions of me were at different stages of our being workmates – I can only relate what my own perceptions were and the basics of what caused the icky sticky outcome.

You know I can’t bear to be unkind about people.  It would be unkind if I related details. But it was awful from start to finish. You can use you imagination if you like, but I don’t want him to be the target of any kind of ridicule. There is a part of me that would love to give you a description of him so that you can understand how very much polar opposite he was from me in so many ways…but I am afraid to be unkind. A lot of his animated conversation included his enthusiasm about how much alcohol he had managed to imbibe at the weekend, and then graphically detailed descriptions of the effect that had on him.

When I am conversing with anyone, I have a natural tendency to seek out common ground and points of agreement and build on it. I don’t go out looking for points to disagree on. He mentioned he had been a vegan for some-time. I asked lots of questions as this was a subject I was interested in. In general, though there were few areas of mutual interest.

swearingIn some areas, we had different habits of speech. At times, he had been using language in a manner that I perceived as vulgar (I know that for some people they have been surrounded by “swearing” in their family life and other aspects of life, but I haven’t, I have been raised like a princess) so there were occasions when I actually walked away from him to escape his presence, because the use of his language made me feel like someone was punching me. I know he would not have realized that. I hinted at times that his language was colourful. It didn’t seem to affect his speech. He was not the only member of the team that threw around words that some like me would find offensive even if we know it might be due to an ingrained habit and not a deliberate intention to cause a reaction.

I didn’t want to conflict with a workmate by expressing myself more firmly. But it did make me desire to avoid chatter with him at all. There were other more personal habits of his that I won’t relate, as I would feel unkind, but I know my overall impression of him at the time was that despite his being a human being like me with imperfections but the capacity for positive and negative thoughts, feelings, behaviour – I preferred that we remain strictly work colleagues who could do exactly that – just work within the same premises. Enough of a rapport to make working together possible.  I was never impolite, but I didn’t relish the occasions we were working together.

Imagine then my reaction to a few female colleagues who when chattering with me repeatedly asked me about my view of him. I chose to share a positive comment on an aspect of his work. In time though I became aware that other workmates were encouraging him to “set his cap” at me. Somehow, either from him having a more favourable impression of me that I had of him, or from other workmates encouraging him, or whatever else contributed to the situation – he went on to ask me out for a drink.

asking outI hoped that the reasons he had for choosing to do so were casual and my choice to decline (which I had the right to make) would not cause any significant disappointment. I didn’t want to add any reason to my saying no. Maybe I didn’t give the perfect reply but I wanted to be kind yet firm. So, I said something along the lines of “thank you for asking me but I would prefer not to.” Some people may have said “I am busy” but that could have led to “what about next week?” to which I would have still had to say what I had said. On the spot, I chose not to confuse matters with anything other than my choice which as I said was in essence “thank you but no”.

Was that the end of it? In male/female interaction (or often any interaction with people you have limited understanding of) it’s rarely so straightforward is it. From then on, I noticed a marked difference in his behaviour towards me. I don’t want to be unkind and relate details because I think he would regret some of what he said and did. I continued to be polite. I had the same objective I had all along which was just to be able to work together effectively. But to say it was a very icky sticky outcome is really an understatement.  I started to become quite fearful of being in his presence at all.

Later, when I reflected on the situation I could see that I hadn’t understood the effect I had on him, only the effect he was having on me. Other than asking enthusiastic questions about his being a vegan there had been very very little dialogue between us. I worried that at the stage he decided to ask me out for a drink maybe there were some feelings on his part that had raced away a little. That’s probably natural because I guess most people would have some kind of feelings to go and ask someone else out?

For some be with someonepeople, they find it easy to ask casually and accept the answer one way or the other. It is natural to have a desire to be close to someone of the opposite sex, to have someone special, or to just not like living alone – all natural and healthy feelings in themselves. If someone feels very strongly and maybe they feel frustrated that the fulfilment of those desires seems elusive, maybe they have experienced some pain. Maybe there was something about my physical appearance, personality or reputation that appealed to him. He never told me if that was the case and I am glad because if he had expressed any such opinions it still would not have changed my answer. All I know is that whatever had gone on in his mind (which I will never know) his behaviour changed significantly. I can’t bear to feel I have caused hurt to someone. I could see he may have had enough disappointment or embarrassment to affect his behaviour.

Anyway, if I told you more of the details you might laugh, but I don’t want to be unkind about him. He is a fellow human and I don’t want to diminish his dignity.  The temptation is there, believe me, to share how he behaved after I turned him down, but I don’t want to cause any damage.  I genuinely hope he has had better outcomes in asking women out since I turned him down.

Lessons learned: Always act like a princess.

You can’t always be sure of what is going on in your own mind. And of course, it’s often hard to know what is going on in someone else’s mind. If we did maybe we would all find it easier to make decisions about our speech and conduct. Maybe we would be alarmed and rush in too soon, rather than just allowing time so that feelings become manifest by words and actions and then respond appropriately…and hope others do so too.

Sometimes we receive a surprise we were not expecting and don’t deal with it perfectly.  You don’t owe anyone anything except love of neighbour which involves giving them respect, dignity and kindness.  Although some people have judged me as having a heart of gold and a desire to please, at times there are very good reasons why I can conclude and communicate the answer is “thank you but no”.

Buttons Are Not My Friends


Here is a little episode within the first couple of admin jobs that I held when I was 18 – 24ish. This was when I was probably at my prettiest and slimmest (except from the two great lumps on my chest) and was aware of receiving very friendly attention from men of all ages (which was new to me…at high school I was only aware of boys my own age and the odd scary teacher looking at me in “that way”.)  This was a confusing time. Men who I looked at and thought of as “dad” figures before were now “checking me out” and I was aware of it and embarrassed. Leaving school and college and being out in the adult world posed challenges that all that homework and all those exams had not prepared me for. I seemed to be regularly stumbling into my own gullibility and naivety. I often found myself blushing with deep embarrassment.

I was working in a very large open plan office. For some reason the printer that was assigned for the use of our section of the department was positioned right in front of the desk of one of the “big cheeses”. I was so scared of him. Looking back, I realize there was nothing scary about him. It’s just that he was the boss and I was easily scared. However, whenever I had to print a document, I would rush over, grab my print-outs and flee back to my desk, hoping I had not been noticed.

One day…I needed to print a large number of documents. I walked over to the printer but it was still slowly churning out pages. I kept my eyes fixed to the printer because I was scared to look up at the boss. Then I heard him say “hello!” I glanced at him and realized he was looking right at me with a broad smile. Confused and uncomfortable to have been noticed, I smiled back and said “hi” in as composed manner as I could muster. He almost whispered something…I did not catch every word, but I did hear him say “pleasant surprise” which I didn’t understand at all at the time. I tried to keep my eyes rested on the printer but occasionally I cast a brief glance towards him.

It seemed to me that he had decided to stop his work and continue looking straight at me. He maintained a very warm smile and intent gaze at me. I started to feel so nervous. I tried to calm myself and decided it would be appropriate to try to return a warm smile. I felt relieved when I could scoop up all of my print-outs and scurry off. Not before he had said to me in a quiet voice “thanks for that” and I had replied “no problem”.

As I returned to my desk I passed two men walking quickly. One gave me a wink and a smile, the other said “hello lady!” I smiled, but already tired of all this friendliness within a few short minutes, I was so glad to sit down at my desk.  I felt a bit shaky about realizing my existence had been noticed.  Better to be invisible and unmemorable by far.

embarrassedWithin the next half an hour I paid a visit to “the ladies” which was not very far from my desk (newbies always seem to be stuck in the worst parts of the office like next to the toilets). It was only then that I caught sight of myself in the mirror. So…the top button of my blouse and also the lowest button were fastened. The rest of my blouse was gaping wide open revealing my cleavage in full glory. On seeing myself I was embarrassed naturally and hastened to fasten the rest of the buttons and then it came…”aaagh!!!!”…the memory of what had happened when I had been at the printer. I am not going to describe my agonies. I didn’t want to go back to my desk, I was ready to just run from the building and never go back to work again.

Of course, I recovered. I never had the courage to go and apologize to the boss though.  I was more nervous than ever of going over to the printer. I did notice though that after that day, he never uttered a stern voice to me, he was always very warm and friendly.  Never inappropriate, just polite and kindly.  I did not ever worry myself about his actions on that day, I just kept those thought in a sealed mental box with my own shame and embarrassment.

Lessons learned: buttons are not my friends, safer to choose tops without buttons. Embarrassing situations / mistakes happen and you can recover.



Dig To The Summer Breeze

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: BREEZE/CLOUD/SKY/WIND

So many great songs to choose from. Eventually I picked one based on the remix which for me is an example of how an old song can be transformed into something more phenomenal than it was before. That does not always happen, but in this case, I love what was done with the Elvis Presley track “A Little Less Conversation“.

Why have I picked this song? It is one that Jack sometimes plays to tease me. The truth is that he is much more of a chatterbox than I am, so I don’t know why he teases me. I do understand why Goldfinch teased me about the amount of words that I can deliver in one day.

There is always so much to talk about when you have two hundred relatives and too many friends to count. It’s not as if these are uneventful times either. Of course I have a million things to share with him! But on a Saturday night when he has not seen me since Tuesday lunchtime, he does not want to talk….

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Baby close your eyes and listen to the music
And dig to the summer breeze
It’s a groovy night and I can show you how to use it
Come along with me and put your mind at ease

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Shut your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Come on baby I’m tired of talking
Grab your coat and let’s start walking
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Don’t procrastinate, don’t articulate
Girl it’s getting late, you don’t sit and wait around

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby
Satisfy me baby

Written by: Scott Davis

I Put My Parents Through Agony

My parents were never really sure quite what happened. They said they felt helpless and they prayed many times that things would turn out well. But they were deeply anxious and doubtful I would recover.

For years I had been a typical child, eager, full of life and laughter. I ate and pooped, ate and pooped. I was immature and completely dependent on my parents. I looked up to them and felt very secure in their love. They fed my mind, my heart and my stomach and watched me as I grew and grew and grew.

Svensson'S Pyramid Owl

But then I went to high school and entered my teens and puberty. Something happened which they knew may come one day, but not in quite such a drastic way.

I shut myself off from them and refused to communicate properly. I grunted, shrugged and sighed my way through my fourteenth and fifteenth year. My parents tried their best to keep reaching my heart, but they had no idea if they were getting through.

They must have found it agonizing. In many ways, I am glad I was clever enough to hide what I did from them until many many months later. I hid so much from them for so long.

They still don’t know the half of it! All sorts was going on inside of me. Boys, music, drinking. I was no longer happy to conform, to obey. I questioned everything inwardly and outwardly.

I skipped school and forged sick notes. Instead of going to school I would catch a train into Manchester which was almost 40 miles away from home. When I was at school, I became disruptive in some classes (the ones I did not really enjoy). My best friend and I spurred each other on. We vandalised the geography teacher’s classroom and even his own belongings. We turned every physics lesson into anarchy. We played netball in the middle of our French lesson with a French dictionary and jumped up on to her desk and danced the Can-Can.

Sometimes I was given a “detention” by a teacher. I forged my mum’s signature and turned up for the detention (except the time I skipped detention because I was going to a concert), I was fortunate in being so bright. My school work never suffered and I maintained my straight A grades.

I started to work for a record company, which my parents knew about. But most of the nights they thought I was staying over at the home of a school friend, I was in Manchester at a music venue or club. I did things I am ashamed to relate.

The teachers wanted me to make decisions about what to do when school ended. I did not know what I wanted to do. I knew what I did not want to do.

I pondered what purpose there is in life, when we seem to be forced down a path that does not in any way appeal to us. I felt hollow and lost at times. Life seemed like a grey expanse stretched out before me. I felt trapped. The music I listened to constantly incited me to be disdainful of boring conformity. There was a spirit of arrogant rebellion breeding in my mind. I was full of resentment and anger towards everyone – I am not even sure why.

But I was not happy. Some of the things I saw at clubs shocked me. Behaviour beyond disgusting. Everything felt filthy. I did not know how to be happy any longer.

aunt june.jpg

A wise old owl – Aunt June, who was almost eighty, and had sparkly blue eyes and a very deep grin – asked me what I was going to do when I left school. I muttered and gave her a wishy-washy answer about going to college. She probed further and soon discovered that I had no real plan in mind. There were no subjects that interested me just then, accept music. But I already knew I hated the places I was going and the people who were there. I was disillusioned with the music industry.

Aunt June could be scary sometimes. She looked at me sternly and said: “Do you want to live?” I was a bit taken aback by that question. Tears came into my eyes as I realized I was not even sure that I did want to be alive. I had been miserable for so long, my enjoyment in life had evaporated.

She asked me if I didn’t know what I wanted for my future, then what did I want for the rest of the world and for the planet? I thought about it, and knew that actually I did have a vision in the back of my mind. A vision that I had first seen in a golden story book my first ever teacher used to read to us from when I was just five years old. I knew the word to describe it: PARADISE.

Aunt June cried out that I should set that goal for my own future and see myself there, not just the rest of the world. She told me to work towards that goal.

At just the right time a project started in the town where we were living. They needed volunteers, skilled or unskilled. I had just broken up for study leave for my GCSEs. I went down there and from the first day I was trained and assigned all sorts of tasks. I ended up on the front page of the local newspaper because of my involvement for the full length of the project.

I remember a couple of my dad’s friends talking to him about me one day. I could hear everything. My face flushed with embarrassment but I was pleased. Then they called out to me: “We were just talking about you Mel! We were asking what has happened to you? You have come to life. You were grumpy and moody a few months ago and wouldn’t talk to anyone, not even make eye contact with anyone. Now look at you. You are glowing.”

I knew I was. I knew that ever since I had started to become involved in volunteer projects I had started to taste happiness.

My parents always said those couple of years when it was so hard to get me to communicate were very difficult for them. They were so worried about me. They always said it was as if I had cocooned myself within a chrysalis. They had no idea what was going on inside my mind and heart. But it was very much a metamorphosis.

One day something wonderful started to happen. They said a beautiful human being started to emerge from that mentally and emotionally isolated state and started to give colour and happiness to everyone around her.

I always felt it was because I had started to spend time with very beautiful people. People who were freely giving their time, their energy and their skills to build something that would benefit a community. I was learning so much from them.

I wanted to be alive. I wanted to work towards a better world, a world where everyone is happy, full of life, secure in love. I wanted to help make this earth a paradise.

I now had a purpose, a goal and I loved beautifully hearted people who were working towards the same purpose.

FOWC with Fandango — Metamorphosis

Job Interviews

Job interviews….!  Ay ay ay!!!

I don’t mind them really… I don’t really feel nerves, but afterwards I do sometimes cringe at the awkwardness.  It’s a bit like going for a blind date.  You don’t really know what the other person is looking for or comparing you to.  You sit there in the judgement seat while the other person seems to be analysing every word and gesture you make.

I have been for a few interviews recently which were 95% OK, however when I think back analytically, I realize I may have blundered by choosing the wrong words at the wrong time.

Job interviews

One interview I went to, I thought went well, except for the point I made of saying I had to be available every Friday to help my landlady.  The job is for two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday, however they want someone who is available to cover holiday time, and the most popular day for holidays is Friday.  When I first moved met my landlady, she wanted me to be available every Friday and Saturday, but she was flexible and thus all year I have helped her on Wednesdays and Fridays. So I expect she will be flexible if I change my job so long as I am available for at least one day mid-week and so long as I am able to accomplish all the tasks she needs help with.  So, there was no reason for me to make a fuss about Fridays.  But I said something else which was worse.  After the interview, the manager took me down to reception and we chatted a bit more.  She mentioned her back pain.  I asked her briefly whether she had had an injury and when she mentioned being in bed and reaching for something on the bed side table and feeling her back strain… I then alluded of the accumulative damage from lots of small incidents.  I came out with the phrase “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  As soon as I walked out of there I suddenly thought, did she think I was calling her a camel?

Another interview I attended, I know now that my period of notice to my current employers was too long for him to wait.  But I also remember at the interview asking him if he receives a lot of complaints.  When he asked what prompted my question I came out with an explanation in which I clearly insinuated that people who are wealthy from the south of England are more likely to complain about silly things.  That may not have gone down well either.

One interview I attended made me feel super uncomfortable.  The interviewer asked me what I would prefer to drink… wait for this… red or white?  His first question to me was, “are you married?”  As the interview continued I realised all of his questions had been personal, none of them were about the role he was hiring for, or my work experience.  I tried to steer the conversation around to the job itself, but he was not interested.  I asked him about uniform.  He said he likes women in skirts and dresses.  Which would not be a problem in itself, but I did not like that he cast his eyes up and down my legs. I had to travel to attend the interview of which he was aware.  He offered to put me up that night if I was tired, so I could travel back the next day.  I thanked him and made it clear that would not be necessary.  As I left, trying to repress my desire to run like the wind, he gave me a peck on the cheek and assured me he would be in touch soon.  Scaaaaaarey!  I blocked his e-mail address as soon as I was home.

Then I went for an interview when because of the relevant experience I had they asked me if I would be interested in the role of supervisor over a team of around fifteen to twenty.  To which I asked, “is the supervisor allowed to actually do any work?”  I then explained how much I love practical work, and I have been on construction projects were supervisors were discouraged from getting involved with practical work but were told it was there responsibility that every member of their team was trained, safe, with the right PPE and equipment, had to liaise with purchasing about needed resources and the site manager and other departments about all sorts of matters.  I said I love the kind of work I am applying for a role for, but the thought of having to motivate a team of tired, unenthusiastic youngsters who are addicted to looking at their phones repels me.  Then my interviewers spelt out the wages that supervisors receive compare to team members.  I replied that if they can’t find anyone else suitable I would consider the supervisor’s role.  Ha!  I am sure that impressed them – NOT!

I arrived at another interview and within a couple of minutes I realized that rather than the part-time role at a site twenty minutes walk away from my current abode, the manager was considering me for a full-time post almost an hour away via public transport.  I can’t even remember what his first question was, but I remember with shame my reply.  I told him that I have to think about myself and my own personal circumstances.  I said I want to simplify my life, not complicate it.  I told him that I had applied for the part-time role close to where I live because I want to squeeze more time out of life and get our and enjoy living rather than feeling trapped in an existence which is monotonous and unfulfilling.  Some how…he seemed to respect my honesty and by the end of the interview I thought I had almost charmed him into giving me the part-time role.  Apparently not!  I never heard back from him!

Then there was last Wednesday’s interview.  He interviewed me for over an hour and it seemed he was quite keen on me as a candidate.  There would be a lot to learn, but I mentioned how much studying I have done within my current role and that I have a much keener interest in construction trades over medical matters.  He seemed very positive.  But then right at the end…he said to me that he thinks I am very suitable for the role and he thinks I am looking for a career and he can offer me that chance.  Immediately I contradicted him!  I said I am not looking for a career.  I told him working for money is just a means to an end.  The end is a purposeful enjoyable life.  I said I enjoy work and give my best, but I am looking for a role that allows me to enjoy more of life, and that a key part of my life is unpaid voluntary work.

I seem to be calm and composed in interviews but also capable of throwing in something controversial or hard for my interviewers to swallow!  What is all that about?

I don’t really mind…if I am not what they are looking for, it is fine.  Just as going on a blind date, you can realize whether there is any potential or if it is more likely that there would be friction and frustration.  Sometimes when I hear I have not been successful after an interview, I almost feel relieved as if I have escaped a miserable existence.


Heal Us

still control me.jpg

You still have power over me

Your glare sends shivers down my spine

From miles away you still haunt me

Though I’m not yours and you’re not mine

Please don’t let anger consume you

It only makes you look so weak

I would love to sit down with you

And listen to you as you speak

Can we heal this rift between us?

I always pray to God above

With the hope that He can heal us

For you, I still cling to this love

Explaining The Magic Bin Emptying Fairy

In a few of my previous posts I have mentioned former single male flatmates who seemed to believe in “the magic bin emptying fairy”.  It seems I have caused a little confusion by using this term.

Well, some bloggers understood immediately what I was talking about, whereas others seemed puzzled.  So I am going to try to explain to clear up any confusion that lingers.

emptying rubbish (2)There are those flatmates, house-mates, even members of one’s own family or household who seem unawares of a supreme truth.  Someone, and by that I mean a human, not a fairy (often a woman, but there are some exceptional men) is actually behind what may seem miraculous or magical.

For example, Ella and and I were the ones who emptied the bins in our flat.  In addition to emptying the bin, we wiped the bin, the walls and the floor surrounding the bin.  The male residents of our flat seemed to go to further extremes each week in their  carelessness.  Coffee granules, tea-splashes, sauce stains and unidentifiable substances were smeared all over the walls, floor and the bin itself.

Now the boys…well, they never thanked us, they never thought to help by emptying the bin themselves.  If Ella and I were away, we would come back and discover the bin was literally over-flowing.  Ella tried to “enlighten” the boys…but they obviously were convinced that they had been specially chosen by “the magic bin-fairy”, whereas Ella and I had not been favoured by her.

It was not just emptying bins.  They seemed to believe in the magic dish-washing fairy, the magic toilet roll stocker-upper fairy, the magic fridge shelf wiping and mouldy food disposing fairy, the magic picking clothes up off the floor fairy…the list goes on and on!

I have laughed about it with Goldfinch.  He has two new house-mates at the moment who are clearly not particularly domesticated.

He showed me this video, of an Australian comedian who highlights this belief I have been referring to – there is a swear word at one point.  I like my site to be suitable for all ages, but this video…if you are under I don’t know which age, but just to mention it contains one swear word, just in case you are like me and feel shocked when you hear bad language.

Anyway, this brilliant video does a great job of highlighting the situation I have been referring to. If you believe in magic coffee-tables, magic laundry baskets, magic bin emptying fairies or any other household miracles or domestic magical occurrences – please feel free to ask questions and I will try to “enlighten” you.

Caramel Is Decorating!

You may remember that one of the surprise outcomes of me starting this blog two years and ten months ago is that I have ended up writing and publishing a bunch of books! Never expected that when I started blogging! Hardly know what came over me!

The amazing thing is, I managed to do most of the writing and editing before the Pandemic began, which was good because work has been bonkers with this virus. Work has been incredibly taxing and for every right reason, I have had to cut back on the amount of time I spent blogging and writing. But it has always been a hobby I have enjoyed whenever I had the opportunity.

Too often I don’t get a break at work, we are often just too busy. But when I am able to sit down for ten/minutes (or on the rare occasion half an hour) I have pulled out a paperback copy of one of my books and a red pen and circled corrections I needed to make. Slowly slowly I have continued to make corrections and update my manuscript. At last that process is complete! I now feel my books will not embarrass me with really silly mistakes. So I am trying to find a way to add pictures of my books with Amazon links to them to my site.

However, I have realized….I cannot do that with my current WordPress theme. So….I am dreading this….but I am going to start messing around with finding the right theme to allow me to do what I want. That is going to be a complete nightmare! I know it. I should have done it before now. But I could not face it.

There was a stage when I was on top of all the widgets and menus on my site – but I gave up about a year ago when things started getting too busy. But I know that changing my theme is going to be a momentous task – momentous! I am going to be searching for a theme that allows me to stay that blue colour I like so much and that allows me to to have a few simple widgets. I don’t want lots of them. I just want some kind of easy navigation widget (is there one?) and to be able to feature my books.

Playing about with the theme is something I am frankly terrified about. I do believe my site will be a mess for a while. But now is the time it would seem. So…while I play around until I find what I want….I do sincerely apologise for any confusion I cause. Caramel is decorating her site – yikes! This could be one of the craziest disasters ever seen on WordPress – are you ready for this?