Thursday, 28 October 2010

That 'can't sleep, can't lie in' thing

It's half term and I have been up since six.

It's funny - I always look forward to half term as a sort of mid-term get-out-of-jail free card. We've done half a term of mornings comprising me being nice to the children at seven - 'wake up darling', 7.15 - 'are you still not up?' (louder and less gentle), 7.30 - 'why didn't you have a shower and do your hair last night?', reaching a crescendo (great word - had to look it up) at 8.10 when I lose the plot completely as I have one child in the mini ready to go with school bag, games kit, trumpet etc and the other still doing the Paris Hilton thing with her hair in her bedroom. Anyway, half term, I can relax, get up at eight, feed animals, start work at 8.30 as usual and stay in my jamas until I feel like having a shower - without having to fight for the bathroom. So why am I awake at six?!

Sometimes, of course, the old brain wakes me up. I am a firm believer in the 'If you build it, he will come' theory of creativity. If I am working on generating some creative ideas for clients, I have to make lists, brainstorm a bit with myself (hard, but not impossible) bounce a few ideas off the husband, dogs, children - and then walk away and do something else. The 'something else' might be walking dogs, doing laundry, blogging (oops, that's a giveaway!) . And then I come back to it - I have 'built' the structure - lists of ideas, etc and then (eventually) 'he' - the idea - will come. Of course, Field of Dreams is not my favourite movie and Kevin Costner should have stuck to being Alan Rickman's straight man in Robin Prince of Thieves but it is such a great line.

The other reason for being awake at such an unearthly hour nearly every day this week is, of course, the orchestra I sleep with. The percussion section is the worst, random (and sometimes so loud that he wakes himself up) but the woodwind were playing a rhythmic but persistent tune from about 5.30am this morning and there was nothing to be done but get out of the orchestra pit. We have tried various remedies and I know friends who have made their husbands ...wear watches that give off small electric shocks when they snore... have operations on their throats...wear those nostril-opening plasters and so on. We resorted to homeopathic drugs for a while but he became rather reluctant to take them so here we are ... or rather, he is upstairs asleep and here I am.

Anyway, it is now nearer 8.00am than 6.00am so I can start my day without fear of too-early-waking either of the twins, the French Exchange student and the 'Barnsley exchange' as we have now named the lovely trainee teacher who is also staying with us for a month or so. I don't think I necessarily want to go and stay in Barnsley in exchange, but hey, if the brass section gets going, it's always a possibility.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Don't Press 'Send'!

It would not be unreasonable to suggest that I don't have the longest fuse... Fortunately I am married to the most placid man in Yorkshire and generally, I don't think I lose the plot too often (children may disagree here but I don't think they read this...) However, occasionally, someone emails me something that makes me want to fire off a less-than-polite email in response.

Now this is the trouble with emails - tone of voice. It's not always clear whether the comments contained therein are politely, helpfully but firmly meant or whether it is just a case of 'I know better and I am telling you this!' Generally I guess emails of the critical type fall into the first category but, because tone of voice is hard to detect in this high-speed communication world and because it is all too easy to react and respond quickly, sometimes something which one might have thought better about later is already in an email and...oh no...I pressed 'Send'.

A while ago, a neighbour of ours started to build an enormous barn. He had obtained planning permission and we all knew it was happening but I guess none of us bothered to work out the dimensions of what he was actually constructing. As the barn began to grow into something which the locals in our village community referred to as 'the aircraft hanger', the natives definitely started to become restless.

The barn-builder is a lovely bloke - digs my car out of the snow in winter, helps with minor rural catastrophes that tend to occur when my other half is away on business - so I was not about to get involved in this controversy. However, another neighbour fired off an email to the council regarding the dimensions of the construction, with a copy to me. Hours later, his wife rang to say that he bitterly regretted making a fuss and that in real terms, it wasn't a problem. He had, in the heat of the moment, pressed 'Send'.

I was likewise guilty of doing the same thing the other day. End of day, end of week, tired and grumpy, I received an email which was probably designed to be helpful but the tone of voice (in my state of grump) appeared to be 'I know about this and you clearly don't' so I did what people do when they are tired and grumpy and fired a short, pithy one right back and, yes, I pressed 'Send'.

Suffice to say, I am feeling suitably guilty and really I should have just pressed delete. So, what can I say? A lesson learnt the hard way, like all the best lessons, and I shall attempt not to re-offend. Just don't send me stroppy emails on a Friday because I still can't promise!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Blogging and Pilates - Uncompetitive Sports?

Someone asked me the other day if, when writing my blog, I was 'free writing' or writing for an audience? Tricky one, this, and I have been considering it ever since.

I am in the middle of a very long writing/editing job and, as soon as this is finished, I have another one in my in-tray so I need some light relief. So, I thought, I might write my blog. But then I am back to the question my friend asked. For whom am I writing - me or you?

Yesterday, I went to my first Pilates class. Actually, this is not strictly accurate as we have, much to the entertainment of our twins, been having home visits from a Pilates teacher for the last few weeks. The lovely, young svelte Pilates teacher has been encouraging my husband and me to adopt ever more unlikely stretchy, muscle-toning positions on the conservatory floor whilst the twins watch in hysterics from the other side of the glass door in the sitting room. Friends have been kind enough to offer to come round and watch and requests that we put the entire experience on YouTube for everyone's general entertainment have been rebuffed.

Anyway, having convinced myself that I would not make a complete fool of myself in a class situation, I bit the bullet yesterday and went to a class. And yes, it was fine and I quite enjoyed it ... but non-competitive exercise/sport is something of a contradiction in terms to me. I am doing this to protect my back - a few niggles during the tennis season tell me I need to do this - but still, and I know this is ridiculous, I want to compete somehow. I was lying on the mat yesterday, rocking gently in an appropriate manner, thinking 'I want to be the best at this!' There - I am ridiculous! So I am trying to drill this out of my system, at least at Pilates, though running, tennis, monopoly, backgammon and every other game/sport we play will be continue to be fought out to the death - as usual.

So, back to the blogging question - for you or for me? Unlike lots of other stuff I write and edit, this is, I think, for me. No client, no ready-made audience, only, I suspect, an occasional passer-by. So it doesn't have to be the best blog in the world because this is not a competition and, if you read this and enjoy it, I shall regard that as a bonus (if you let me know...) and in the meantime, I feel I can get back to the major work project in hand, feeling refreshed.

Oh, and I read a truly awful blog yesterday in the course of my work (it having been written by a competitor of one of my clients) and I was forcibly reminded that blogging is not an excuse for demonstrating the symptoms of 'Me, me, me syndrome' - unless, of course, I am writing it just for me!