Monday, 28 June 2010

And the prize for Best Backdrop goes to - New York!

For some time now (since I was in my late teens) I have mused over executing a merger of my favourite tv shows.

When I was young I longed to see Remington Steel take on Maddie Hayes from Moonlighting or Bergerac face down Bodie and Doyle. I pondered the plot lines if Magnum PI was compelled to leave his beloved island and travel to New York to settle an old score with Cagney or Lacey.  Later I contemplated a catastrophic event on the Bold and the Beautiful resulting in the doctors of ER stitching up Brookes jaw or Thorn's pecs, amidst terrorist scares and rescues from Jack Bauer.

I am willing to admit that most of the drama in my life is of this order - fictional, imaginary or impossible. Nevertheless, the possibilities are endless. After all, many shows sport the spin-off series and some do it so well - CSI being the prime example.

But the really exciting untapped market must be in the occasional cross over show where for an episode or two - or a movie length feature event - worlds collide, as it were, on the small screen. Think of the merchandising alone!

I am mindful of my adolescent daydreams as I reflect on the very adolescent "Sex and the City 2". From the limited press coverage I saw in Australia regarding the film, I think it is safe to say that there will not be a third one, but one cannot be sure about these things so - you read it here first - I claim all rights to the royalties should my plot line end up on the big screen - or even go straight to DVD!

First, the lesson to note upfront is that most of us know the virtue of quitting while we are ahead;. even if we learn it when we are far behind and down and out. That said, people who make films/pay for making films fail to see that millions of people watching something that is over-hyped, over-exposed and over-anticipated is not the essence of success. Like so many things we seem to prize these days, the mere fact it is popular does not mean it is good. Now this may become a philosophical rant about populism, culture, art and emotion. 

I could go to town about one woman's dross being another's escapist heaven. Indeed, I recall a friend lamenting my appalling taste in films when I said I would rather watch something that was screening about a shopaholic than "The Reader". You see, I had read the latter and knew it dealt with war crimes and older women interfering with impressionable young boys. I knew how it turned out and it just seemed that that little Australian actress who married Borat might be more diverting as she grappled with her shopping addiction and found love in the big city.  I do like to escape and relax, even laugh at the movies. So, no, please don't infer that I am a snob when it comes to movies - I mean I call them movies (rawther than cinema or film). But even populist swill needs to deliver something other than ageing clothes horses whining about their lives. A joke or two would be something? (Mind you, the Alicia Keys tune, scenes of NYC and the photography were quite diverting...

Anyway, my proposal is to do a sequel - a SATC3 - that will be thought provoking and good

Here is a precis:

New York circa 2015
Samantha dies of a horrible STD after a lifetime of hedonism and sybaritc abandonment.
At her funeral where a sordid crew of former lovers and loveys are in attendance, Miranda finally makes peace with Carrie with whom she fell out some time before when Carrie hired a competitor law firm to represent her in a libel suit. Carrie lost the law suit and is now bankrupt. Her books have been blacklisted. Poor Carrie. Mr Big is hugely overweight after being fired from his vague but well-remunerated job in financial services as a result of rogue trading. The US Securities and Exchange  Commission is investigating him. Luckily Chris Noth has been under house arrest in other dramas (The Good Wife) so he is well equipped to play this role. 

Alas, bankruptcy and unemployment mean that the golden couple are living in Charlotte's guest house in the Hamptons - woeful, I know. Mr Big - diagnosed with stage 2 diabetes - faces some hard choices.

Charlotte has gone on to parent triplets and has had a breakdown as she grapples with the competing interests of motherhood, weight management, keeping her virile man happy and being a role model for 5 daughters. The Rehab song that tormented us a couple of years ago plays through our first encounter with grey haired, gaunt Charlotte. 

Meanwhile Miranda is managing partner at her law firm but struggling to deal with her family problems. Husband Steve is gay but won't move out for fear it will harm Brady and put his mother is a difficult position as she lives with the family.

The drama is taut, funny and poignant. 

And all is not grim, by any stretch of the imagination.

Mr Big and Steve become close and start to go to the gym together. Charlotte begins a long journey towards recovery and coping; letting go of her self-imposed unattainable standards. Miranda proves more likeable than any of them and starts an amazing mentorship programme for young street kids. Through this Steve finds love, Brady develops a passion for basketball and ambitions for the NBL (another sequel?), Mr Big requalifies as a personal trainer working with other Mr Bigs as well as troubled youth and Carrie breaks a nail or two avoiding the ball in the grand finale community sports carnival.

Carrie too evolves, at last. Forced to make money and with only her talent to fall back on, she starts writing under a pseudonym and publishes ebooks about - you guessed it - clothes and shoes. She does not make any cash but all her readers love her work. Miranda convinces her to help her protegees discover their own facility with the written word.

What do you think?

I am optimistic someone will pick this up and run with it. I feel connected already with these characters - well some of them.

The only thing that might cap this off would be some cameos from various other New York characters. Some cross-over! 

A little bit of Sopranoesque action for Mr Big before he finds fitness. Bree from Desperate Housewives might make an appearance in the therapy centre Charlotte frequents. Ross and Rachael could befriend Charlotte's husband at the synagogue and their kids have play-dates together under the guidance of bachelor Joey. Jerry Seinfeld would delight in the role of rival to Miranda for head partner at the law firm (and rival to Miranda for Steve!). Those nice FBI people in Without a Trace would get a look in as well, when Carrie goes missing for a day - drunk and confused she drives off the road in Queens and has to rely on her talent - yet again - to emerge mostly unscathed from a near disaster in a holding cell with Jeff Goldblum from Law and Order.

Too ambitious? Too silly? 

Yes - perhaps you are right. Best leave it to the experts. I would be better placed to do some ironing or sort a few jigsaws that seem to be muddled together. That said, I might see if they work out better when muddled up. Like some movies would, I dare say...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Wither Football and electronic devices?

The only thing nicer than a clear sunny day in London is a clear sunny day in London when everyone but me is holed up inside watching England vie for glory in the Football World Cup. There is a gloriously eerie, oddly reverent feeling as one wanders the peacefully deserted streets. Like Good Friday in sleepy 1980s Brisbane or Christmas morning in the middle of a snow storm. The traffic is minimal, pedestrians few and far between, the air is cleaner somehow; all that hope and anticipation somehow palpable and purifying.

An employee at Tesco today offered me three coloured foil wrapped packets for the Off-Spring - in tow for a mini-non-weekly shop (we have a teeny fridge so I shop every day). I said what is that - he said something about football match cards. Off-Spring 1 shook his head at me. Off-Spring 2 was oblivious - gazing at the ample rear of yet another scantily clad shopper blocking the aisle with her ample rear and trolley of alcoholic beverages, chips and dips - clearly a better social life than me. Off-Spring 3 was snoozing in the buggy. "No thanks," I said politely. "We don't do football." Well Mr Springgirl does and the Off-Spring follow it fleetingly when one of the nations of their parents is competing, but the idea of cards and what-not, well... just not their thing. I say all of that with no judgement or criticism of football, its followers or players. I think its like curry - you either get it or you don't, no harm done.

Anyway, while I relish the prospect of an outing to somewhere usually too popular and touristy to attract us on a weekend, I fear that the pollen count will be too high, as usual, to tempt me far from home. I have several new "fine lines" around my eyes after a vicious week or rubbing and attempted eyeball extraction due to the thick layer of tree and grass detritus accumulating in my facial orifices. I am now on not less than 4 medications, none of which seem to help. I did steer clear of the one with the stated side effect of "Agitation" feeling I had plenty of that already. Nevertheless, what might be a glorious Sunday in the city will no doubt be an itchy, sneezy, scratchy throated rush for indoors and air-conditioned comfort, sans TV coverage of sports.

I think the pool might be the trick. I would think even the Eastern European ladies (see previous post for insights on public pools) might be keen to see Germany defeated by England and stay home in honour. I would definitely will not want to be anywhere near a park or recreation centre tomorrow before the game as all those dads wanting a peaceful time come 3pm kick-off will be out in the morning earning their time off for good behaviour to watch the match and sink a few lagers.

I read somewhere about the lengths men will go to in order to secure football watching entitlements during the World Cup. I felt sorry for them, I have to say. Do they not know they can just watch it on line, or visit a friend or a pub or buy a second tv? Why so much drama? I am no fan of the beautiful game but I would hardly begrudge anyone else their 90 minutes pleasure. Also, have there WAGs not heard of credit?

I was, nevertheless, contemplating a world without football. How would that go? Can you imagine what men might do instead? It boggles the mind.

That got me thinking about imagination. I was at a meeting of parents at my sons' school discussing preparation for the school fair looming shortly. It was generally regarded as desirable that large raffle prizes or tombola (crikey) for kids prizes consist of something called a DS. I gather this is a hand held gaming device. I said - "Why not a scooter, a skateboard or a-?" I did not finish my question. The response was incredulity. No - they want DSs. It reminded me of the parents that say - how do you fly long haul without a portable DVD player? (If you are not acquainted with economy class travel on most large commercial jets you may not know that they now offer over 3000 forms of audio visual distraction per sector. I daresay a few less for the little ones...)

Has this generation truly lost all capacity to amuse their kids without a device? Could a child of under 11 not be expected to enjoy a board game, a trip to a country house full of treasure or the aquarium, an overnight stay in a museum for himself and some pals, a ticket to (God forbid) a football match or a even a voucher that he might redeem for lego, a bike, a present for a loved one, a train ticket on the TGV - or any other amazing and fantastic treat that only well-to do kids in a place like London can have access to?

Oh -no! For the pinnacle of all youthful ambition is the DS, of course. Just as the Gen Y hoards lining up outside the Apple Store and high street phone shops (Vodafone at High St Kensington, London sold its entire stock of 21 within 30 minutes of opening on Thursday) will attest, you ain't no one without the latest device (i-Phone).

We have attended parties for 8 year olds and had no one to talk to as all the children were busy seated next to each other on the sofa silently playing their DSs. Yes - this is a great time to be alive. I daresay what they lack in capacity to amuse themselves without technology they make up for in their concentration and hand eye coordination skills. Which, after all is all they will need going forward.

However, being something of a Luddite and having withstood the DS pressure - the Off-Spring are throwbacks - and fearful of the retardation of developing interpersonal skills in young people I established a coaching business aimed at nurturing a love of the spoken word and the great art and pleasure of verbal communication. It is great fun, replete with learning and challenge and the kids who participate seem to like it too.

However, a number of the attendees have what might be termed (by my "old-school" Dad, at least) ASS (Attention Seeker's Syndrome).  I am not a strict old fuddy duddy in these classes, despite what I may appear from this blog. Rather, I am all about the fun, creativity, thinking and speaking skills and imagination play. But even with that latitude for some it is a struggle to come up with an idea of their own. (If any parents are reading this don't take me amiss). But it is very interesting. Is this a symptom of modern life and the pace or style of family interaction? Is it common, or typical? Is it me? I love those children and I am privileged to be part of their learning journey but I wonder if there is something happening to our kids.

So I say, we levy a surcharge or tax on the sales of all kid oriented electronic devices (and food) and direct the takings to the Department of Education to fund research and interventions to manage the longer term impact of being amused all the time by a machine and thus deprived of human interaction at levels regarded as necessary for sustainable human development.

Might draft a letter to that nice new Prime Minister tomorrow while that match is on and the kids are busy building forts with the play-dough.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Port out, starboard home (via Waitrose, dahling!)

A recent opinion poll conducted by Opinium Research asked participants to comment on what makes a person "posh". I chanced upon this in an article in Waitrose Weekend

The poll was commented on by MSN UK:

Employing a cleaner, saying "supper" instead of "dinner" and owning an Aga are among the current indicators that one is posh, according to a study. A quarter of those questioned consider spending more than £10 on a bottle of wine to be posh... Other markers include telling others what school you went to while in your 30s, doing the weekly shop at Waitrose and drinking Earl Grey tea... Almost two in three people (63%) would not want to be considered posh but just 11% said they would not marry a posh person.

Quite apart from finding this alarmingly twentieth century, it was disappointingly self-congratulatory that Waitrose - a nice supermarket - featured an article by one of its contributors on this very topic. We should all be terribly pleased that by shopping there we are by definition posh (weekly shops only, note!). I am, as ever, struck, by the on-going fascination that British people have for their class system.

First, who did Opinium ask these questions of? Second, why "posh"? Is posh not a terribly antiquated concept? Third, does the Earl Grey have to be Twinings or Waitrose brand or can any wannabe-pretender shop for tea at Lidl and qualify? Fourth, many of the cleaners flourish due to the long hours their employers spend at work. Fifth, have you met anyone who does not mention their school? Schools seem to be the one topic one can safely rely on as an icebreaker these days. Do I only know posh people?

It seems almost Victorian to know (let alone care) whether the tea one drinks makes one a better class of person. What does lapsang souchong or orange pekoe say for one? For the uninitiated - like the unwary Australian who may have gone to the best schools and had opera season tickets - there are many pitfalls involved in this national preoccupation. How terrible to meet the admission criteria for Oxbridge but come unstuck when accidentally and unwittingly referring to the Ladies as anything other than the Loo.

I grew up thinking loo a rather horrid word, you see. Indeed, toilet is not great, but finding out that loo is the only acceptable middle class nomenclature took me somewhat by surprise. That was before I discovered that the room in which one sits and entertains friends, watches tv (if one is not so nouveau riche as to have a "media" room) listens to radio plays and "Just a Minute" on Radio 4 and sips one's prosecco also has a particular name. 

Choose the unacceptable working class names from the following:

drawing room
sitting room
living room
reception room

I was initiated into the vagaries of the class system when fresh off the boat from the colonies. It was all explained to me by my posh Cambridge (!) chums (this was 1995, not 1925, mind you). Naturally, the underlying assumption was that one wants to be perceived as posh or at least middle class (and not lower MC or recently joined the MC). Reading the correct newspapers and magazines will help create an image. As does allegiance to sporting teams and codes. The music acts or writers one follows can also be important. As can one's neighbourhood, pub, referred food and drink, holiday destinations, shops and ways of dressing. 

Over the past 15 years I can point to several rules that have been broken, flouted or abandoned by the MC. Discretion, being one that springs to mind. Hence, I dare say, this new poll and its futile attempt to reclassify the criteria for admission to the ranks of the posh. The ground has shifted and people need to know where they fit in.

Correct me if I am wrong, dear Aussie reader, but where we come from we seem to be less concerned with such ideas. Is ours a virtually classless society? Certainly, there are "haves" and "have-lesses" and the "right" schools, shops and brands have always been around, but we tend to prefer to view one another as mates, do we not? Success, energy and a smile for our neighbour carry more weight than the tea we favour. That is not to say that old school ties and clubbishness does not abound. But would we call such prejudices middle class? Perhaps we have more colourful terms for people that don't drink Earl Grey, than "working class". Or perhaps these sorts of distinctions have become blurred so much that the criteria applied in the UK would not really sort the toffs from the louts at all, down under. 

I accept that people love to know where they sit in the pecking order. But do one's proclivities towards eating crisps, rather than hummus, or camembert over beer nuts tells one very much?

Indeed, many of the best bred young fellows follow "working class" sports, anyone can find someone to sponsor their membership of the Turf Club, sit on a board or two or buy a boat. 

So I wonder if the selection criteria ought not to be challenged and changed. Assuming of course, that it mattered an iota.

It seems that being of a "class" is itself rather outdated. Very old world - old tech - if you like.

In a time when we have at our fingertips the means to discover not only what prosecco is, but God forbid, buy it from the comfort of our Reception Room, while watching football highlights or catching up on what Posh said to Becks in Hello, book a flight in "Upper Class", sip imported lager and special blends of tea flown in from Latin America via India and gain a university degree remotely, concepts such as class seem to have no currency at all.

The classrooms in the better public schools are a melange of second generation Brits whose parents have toiled night and day in off-licences, children of civil servants, surgeons and media dahlings and the cherubs of lingerie models and pizza franchise owners and made-it-big before the GFC city traders. 

Are we not all "middle class"? Do we not all aspire to holiday anywhere that makes a "Hottest" or "best" list? Don't we all want to give our children the best of everything? While it may not be a completely level playing field, all the privilege that the middle classes of yesteryear enjoyed are now easily attained. Indeed, with a limited supply of talent or good looks, plenty of luck and a rich pinch of connections, not even a parlous lack of education, intelligence or conversation can get in the way of the enviable celebrities of this generation. The privileges that the lower classes once aspired to? Mulitple tvs, annual holidays abroad, private school, straight (white) teeth? Hardly a big deal these days. 

How can foie gras or Rigoletto rate a mention these days?

It is time for a new poll. Class questionnaires are truly a thing of the past. 

The issues today are more substantial and heavy hitting. Try these for example:

Are you cool? 
Are you tech-savvy?
Are you green?
Are you organic, aruvedic, yogic or charmic?
Do you smoke?
Do you have a purpose?
Have you adopted a child from the developing world?
Have you posted a DVD on You Tube?
Do you know the lyrics of all the Lady Ga-ga songs?
Are you obese?
Do you drive a small or a large car?
Are you a domestic god/goddess?
Are you conservative?
Do you pay taxes?
Have you ever suffered from depression?
Are you extrinsically motivated?
Do you work?
Do you believe in (a) God?
Do you care who wins the World Cup?
Are you a Coke Zero or Diet Coke person?
Apple or PC?
Can you think for yourself?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Fierce Mother of all Leaders

Susan scott writes in the Australian that whether your goal is improved workplace relations or improved market share, your most valuable currency is relationship; emotional capital. In her book Fierce Leadership: A bold alternative to the worst 'best practices' of business today (Hachette Australia) she argues that leaders fail when they fail to connect; when their conversations are one-sided, directive or lacking in imagination and emotion.
Apparently, a fierce leader commits to a way of life, not a business strategy. Not having a business conversation but a human one.
Well - clearly there may be demand for the College of Z after all. No university is better equipped to teach its students how to be human!
But while we mull that over at our leisure I want to pick up on this concept of "Fierce Leadership".

Hands up all those who have experienced a fierce leader? Mmm. Yes. Is it just me or does fierce leadership conjure images that are not quite sparkling with positivity?  I have not read the book yet so I cannot be sure I have grasped the notion correctly. Suffice to say when I think of fierce anything it is generally with fear and trepidation.

Could this be what was intended? Let's assume fierce is intended to bear its ordinary meaning - it is a title after all - and is not defined in any other way - and have a think about what this might mean for us.

I have not known many fierce leaders in the workplace. I had a fierce dragon boating coach at one time. Though he was really a harmless Chinese man by day, he could mix it up with the toughest sporting heroes come training on Canberra's Lake Burly Griffin at dawn of a Tuesday and Friday...

I also had the misfortune of being taught by at least two fierce teachers at primary school. They were both old school fierce - screamers with imposing bosoms and high heels to match, coiffed hair and wooden blackboard dusters. To a spineless 7 year old they were reminiscent of fashionably dressed witches - long rulers rather than broomsticks and clicking teeth and sharp words rather than spells and potions.  

In the workplace I have benefited from working (for want of a better word) - under (again for want of a better word) - a range of leadership styles. Among my personal favourites were:
the Best Friend, 
the Aloof Dandy, 
the Misogynistic Old Perve and 
the Mr Wine 'em and Dine 'em. 

Less accomplished were:
General Ex-SAS 007 (curt, self-congratulatory, arrogant and muscular), 
The Shy Guy and 
Oh-God is that a Woman I see Before Me. 

There have been many more - indeed:
Short Man and His Entourage, 
Wake me Up when He Stops Droning about his Ski-trip and Kids and 
By Golly am I Really a Partner Tigger types, 
but nowhere have I encountered fierce leadership, as it were. I have rarely even seen angry, hungry or stalking leadership (other attributes of fierce animals such as lions).

I have seen some great leadership qualities, I should add. Amazing vision, intuition, empathy, technical excellence and leading by example. I have witnessed somewhat dubious feats of client handling finesse and brave and ambitious achievements in one-up-man-ship, and yet at no time was there anything approaching fierceness.

It occurs to me now that this brand of leadership might be peculiarly Australian. Having spent most of my career in the UK, I may be ill-equipped to speak to this topic. Perhaps it is an Australian style of fierceness that Scott alludes to. We are a fiery (funny how that word changes spelling with the "y" added) race are we not - stuck down under, craving attention and recognition? Sun-burnt, outdoors-y and seemingly laconic? No, rather we are a people of grave contradictions. We seem laid back and relaxed in our board shorts and flip-flops, surfing and branding cattle, but just look at us on the cricket pitch or the rugby field (no one mention football now ok!). Just look at us on the casting couch.

You cannot deny that a certain talent, drive and focus, indeed hunger must be present to catapult the likes of Minogue, Kidman, Watts and that guy who starred in Avatar to the heights of success they enjoy. Now I know they are not exactly leaders - but role models perhaps? And they surely embody some of those fierce attributes, no? Who would you prefer lead you? Russell Crowe's Gladiator or Simon Baker's Mentalist? Either!! Either, I say!!

Or even La Paglia in "Without a Trace" for that matter, or Hugh Jackman being all wolflike? Any of those trumps tepid Horatio (CSI Miami) or even Morse (God Bless him). I won't start on Wallandar or those Mad Men (my argument might fall apart), but I think my point is valid, nonetheless.

Where was I? Leadership. Yes.

I would like to draw on a couple of examples of times when fierce leadership has paid dividends in my personal life.

A couple of years ago when the youngest Off-Spring outgrew his cot and began sleeping in a bed (mattress on floor) and could no longer be penned into his little cage (like a small fierce zoo creature), the whole like clockwork bedtime routine suddenly went out the window. With one small logistical move came a virtual riot of upheaval in the bedroom. Children were climbing out of their sleeping positions to disturb one another, talking, laughing and generally being merry and unsettled after 7.30pm.

After two or three nights it occurred to me that some fierce leadership was needed. Not only did I need the peace and solitude that bedtime occasioned, the Off-Spring needed their rest. So I called in the big guns. The Dragon Lady. Now the Dragon Lady must not be confused with the Lady Next Door. 

The LND made a few appearances circa 2005 but was abruptly removed when a story about emotions was read out at school causing quaking and tears from off-Spring Number 1 who thought the drawing of the angry faced child in the book resembled the horrific and threatening LND who was want to visit at bedtime when troublesome children failed to observe the required etiquette of lying down, closing their eyes and falling asleep promptly. The Nursery teacher took my aside at pickup and told me that Number 1 had been upset by the story. She gently inquired - her finger on the speed dial button for family services no doubt - whether we had a rather cruel or frightening neighbour.

It was all a bit surreal as the LND was a figment of our imaginations and did not really exist. She was a creature who had made only a short and swift appearance in our lives. No more were needed, let me tell you. Who was she, you ask? She was me - stony faced, unsmiling and flinty eyed, standing in the doorway growling in a low voice - "Bed time. Go to sleep."

Let me say that she never raised her voice. She never yelled or smacked. She merely glared fiercely. Bed time order was restored immediately upon the mere threat of a visit from her. Indeed, the return to a calm and collected bedtime regime was well and truly achieved by the time the book at school brought all that fear and worry back!

Suffice to say she was never mentioned again...
Hence, three years later, the Dragon Lady was invented. Similarly effective. Unlike the LND she never showed her face. Her steely voice could be heard ringing through the flat though as the minute hand ticked ever closer to the twelve.

In short, fierce leadership is certainly capable of delivering great results - for the leader.

The curious thing about writing a book and calling it Fierce l
Leadership though, is that one expects to read that anger, fear and threats are the order of the day. And yet, Scott's thesis is quite the contrary. She argues that human and emotional connections are the key to successful leadership. Hardly the domain of the fierce?

So, yes, I had better buy the book and work this out properly.

Or perhaps I need to wake up to the fact that calling a book - the "drippy leader" or the "girly leader" or "leading with heart" is not a recipe for bestselling success. But "The heart of leadership" could work...

At the end of the day, the essence of effective leadership must be the ability to blend a lot of things together; to be flexible and resilient, to set an example and a tone even when no one appears to be listening, to be consistent and rational in the face of challenge from without and within, yet to be approachable, vulnerable and human too. Ironically, many of us will never be "leaders" but we have long ago mastered all of the skills.

Perhaps there is another book to be written - the Mother as Leader. Personally I have learnt more in my time as a mother about how to influence people, negotiate outcomes and lead a group than I ever learnt in university or at work. Moreover, the scope for creative and innovative thinking is quite staggering. Finally, who else in their leadership commits as wholeheartedly to a way of life, as espoused by Scott, as the mother?

I do not want to suggest there is not a lot to be said for the Father as Leader as well, but (for once) I am sticking to what I know best. 

I really do think that the workforce, the ranks of the leadership elite and the gurus of innovation and management ought to find a way to tap the expertise and experience of the motivated mothering masses...

(NB - no children, managers, fathers, actors or animals were harmed in writing this blog)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Where has she been all this time...

I am delighted to be back in London following a short but sweet visit to Australia to share in the nuptials of my brother. I made hay while the sun shone on me and crammed in some relaxation time sans Off-Spring. Many people nod sympathetically at the thought of 21 hours airborne in economy class to Brisbane. The truth is that 21 hours anywhere without the children is in fact a treat to be cherished. Much as I love and missed them, everything is better after an absence and I was sorely in need of a little absentia from responsibility when I boarded that jumbo jet...

It was a lovely visit "home". The wedding went beautifully, the weather was delightful, the time with family and friends meaningful and joy-filled (on the whole), the Off-Spring and Mr Springgirl made the most of some quality father/son time without me and I returned feeling, if not refreshed and restored, at least relaxed and refocussed (mentally that is - the physical toll is still being felt...).

When I last posted here I was in search of the Voom, I recall. I am delighted to say that I found a little bit of Voom down under in the form of a rather dashing and chic blue coat (French, of course) which I wore to the wedding over a shiny teal dress, teamed with a little bit of bling at throat and wrist and some sweet blue flowers in the hair. It was all quite Holly Golightly (or so one guest informed me) - which I interpreted to mean I looked Audrey Hepburnesque (rather than call-girlish).

The Voom was not too long lasting though as a weird bloodshot eye complaint came on the day after the wedding (eyeliner(!)), only to be followed by severe jet lag and sleep deprivation induced skin blotch breakout soon after that. I now find myself virtually ripping both eyes from their sockets in a melodramatic upstaging of King Lear due to the pollen and dust in the air. If any of you are at a loose end - please develop a hay-fever drug that works without causing massive mood altering side effects. Then again - maybe those mood altering varieties might help with that elusive Voom...

I do not want to make this post into a negative and whining complaint about pollen and long haul flights. I am missing Australia playing in the World Cup to write it, after all, so I had better not fritter this time away being a big old whingy pants, but I have to say that apart from the three weeks of Spring in which there is no pollen, the whole London summer experience is greatly overrated to my way of thinking. Sure I do love the long evenings of light and the glorious thrill of not knowing which climate to dress for on any day, but on the whole, the sheer discomfort of sneezing and itching one's eyes for several of those daylight hours, does detract from one's enjoyment of tea in the garden. It's like travel. It's a nice idea...  Of course one loves to go away, to share special occasions and memories, but one forgets how very gruelling long-haul travel can be. I take my widebrimmed stylish summer hat off to those cabin crew and pilots. How do they adjust to all those time zones, sleep at funny times and return to work so smilingly, with such pleasant and sunny demeanours?

In any case, as you can see, I am still, after several days back home in London, searching for my old sense of purpose and vigour. I do have several episodes of "my shows" to catch up on, it is true. Moreover, despite coming late to the "Madmen" party (in-flight tv drama thanks to Qantas), I now have another distraction to make time and space for. As a result, blogging, job-hunting, finishing the next novel and arranging for printing of the children's book have all gone on the back burner, together with the Voomless search for meaning in the myriad concerns of the multitudes. I shall have to make more hay until this sense of dislocation and malaise wears off. Perhaps three more days - just long enough to watch three episodes of "The Good Wife", restock the fridge and catch up on the sleep lost in transit...

So I apologise for my absence. I apologise for having nothing much to say here. I apologise for not keeping in touch. I apologise for whining. I apologise for not having a photo of myself looking so good at the wedding to share with you.

But - on a happier note - do you like the new template? I am not convinced. I want to like the Spring-like design and feel but a part of me wants to hold on to the past. Am I just embracing this change for the sake of it? Am I trying to distract you from the parlous lack of content in this post?

Let me know what you think.

I promise more gripping, amusing and scintillating dialogue in the next few days.

I actually have several ideas in the pipeline for posts. Really, I do. Come on - it's World Cup time, and Wimbledon around the corner! Who is reading my blog anyway?!