I could never handle the summer, or the school holidays in general, particularly in my teen years. The alluring break from work is dangled in front of you – six weeks that you look forward to for most of the year, during which there are fewer things that you must do. Mum used to smirk when I said the words, ‘I can’t wait for summer.’ She knew… Continue reading
Mum was going to be 40. Such a big number. It seemed strange to me that she could be that old, because she had been in her 30s for as long as I could remember. It was deeply significant.
I remember clearly one day when I was 13. Mum was parking the car at Morrisons for our weekly shop, and I always went with her – I may have bought a whole can of Pringles to eat in one evening, or a nail varnish, or both. Or perhaps I was in my rice pudding phase!
We were discussing plans for Mum’s special birthday, thinking about what it all meant, Continue reading
I am lying in bed at half-past nine on a Wednesday evening. There are so many things I could be doing right now – I won’t say should be doing, because I’ve accomplished everything I had on my to-do list, and more. I still have some energy though. I didn’t expect that!
Today has been busy. I’ve been organising a concert, and I did the final lessons before my pupils’ exams, accompanying them on piano. I was nervous beforehand, with the pressure to say and do the right things, and to leave useful thoughts lingering in their minds before the ‘big day’ (if we must view it as such). They were calm and measured, even with mistakes. I was so proud of them. Continue reading
I still remember stepping over the threshold for the first time. My trombone-carrying arm shook a little as I took in the brassy smell that is typical of any band room. I’d been asked to help them out for a competition – that was a nice feeling, especially because it’s my home town.
I held my breath as I walked through the small hallway and turned into the main room, eyes searching around for somebody to put me at ease. I instantly relaxed, as there were a few people I knew. But it was more than that: open, warm smiles from complete strangers. Continue reading
Priorities are complicated. I promised myself that I would work as hard as I could in the final year of my degree, because I wanted to know that I had done my best to get the desired result. As so often happens in life, it wasn’t that simple.
It’s not about what you’re prepared to do; it’s about what you’re prepared to give up and what you’re prepared to become. I was prepared to work hard when I was tired, to spend Saturdays chained to my desk, and certainly to bury myself in revision at the end. But that’s all.
There were things I was not prepared to do for the sake of educational status: Continue reading
I’m not bad at exams. I’m good at answering questions in a relevant way and at creating arguments. I don’t usually get overwhelmed when I walk into that room, although I do get a little distracted by other people’s reactions to the environment – it’s fascinating. But my GCSEs went smoothly enough and I did well at AS Level.
It was my second A Level year that threw me off course. I initially decided to take a year out of ‘education’ to follow my interests in an unpressured way, but that idea didn’t last for long. I was attracted to structure and to the ‘fun’ of choosing subjects. I decided to take three A Levels and to learn them at home – Geography, English Literature, and Thinking Skills. Mum dug out the syllabuses and past papers, and bought numerous recommended textbooks.
It turned out to be far more difficult than I imagined, working out what I needed to know – in Geography there was quite a bit of conflicting information. I make it sound like it wasn’t my fault and, in some ways, it wasn’t. The difficulty of the task, my struggle to think and write quickly, my often-bad health, and my low stamina (which is still often a problem), all contributed to the lack of motivation. However, I can’t blame it all on that. Continue reading
I recently talked to somebody about my musical experiences and then, presented as a completely different aspect of my life, discussed my relationship with Creative Writing. I realised something: I rarely write about music.
I am near the end of an Open University degree: ‘Humanities with Music and Creative Writing’. My two favourite subjects are sitting side by side, and yet even there they are separate.
It seems strange that music, which is a huge part of my life, should rarely make it into my writing. I love conducting, teaching music, playing trombone, music theory, singing, playing in band… I hear so many stories, witness so many hilarious events, and know that many of them would make a thrilling read! I just don’t often write them down, apart from in my journal, and occasionally in a Facebook status. Continue reading