By: A one in ten opportunity

I receive occasional email newsletters from Bridget Whelan, author of Back to Creative Writing School, with hints and suggestions for aspring writers. This one has just arrived, and her suggestion is:

When you have time to write, but don’t  know what to write….
Find the 10th  book in your home (or where you are right now). Go to page 10 and find the 10th word on the 10th line. That will be your title. Use it no matter how difficult, even if you have to look up its meaning, even if it is THE. Write for 10 minutes.

Whilst THE sounded challening enough, I thought it was just my luck to end up with BY. So here goes…

By. What does that word suggest? Immediate response is that it means ownership. Something may be written by me (like this) or it may be owned by me, like the laptop I’m using to write on, or the desk that I sit at or the rather snazzy art deco style chair I sit on when using the desk.

If “by” suggests ownership, it also means the responsibility that comes with it. I have to own and use my possessions in a way that doesn’t harm others; if I write something and get it published with my byline saying it has been written by me, I have to own the views and opinions that I’ve included in the article or blog post or tweet. I can’t wriggle out of something I’ve written or said and pretend it’s not been said by me; to do so would be dishonest and inauthentic.

So “by”, in the contexts mentioned relates to ownwership.

Other verbal or written expressions of the word “by” might be spelled differently and have different meanings – “Bye!” as in goodbye; a “bye” in cricket is a run scored from a ball that passes the batsman without being hit; “buy” is commercial, in the sense of buying goods or buying into an idea or scheme. And if we stand or sit near something or someone, we say we’re by them or beside them.

That’s my ten minutes on “by”. By me, naturally!

At the Hustings

I’m reblogging this account of the hustings from “I Can’t Believe it!”

Last night I was  at the Tatton hustings in Cheshire, which became lively and noisy when ex-Cabinet minister Esther McVey was booed and heckled. She was depressingly monochrome and only really came into her own (drawing on her experience as a TV presenter) at the end when she did her summing up. It was like she was back “on script”, giving a performance. Hadn’t the Tories issued candidates with a crib sheet of what to say? It sounded like she’d learned it off by heart; she didn’t convince me that she was speaking from the heart.

The other candidates, however, felt and were a lot more genuine, with Labour’s James Weinberg standing out as a beacon of hope for the future, where change is desperately needed in our riven country.

Environmental issues and climate change are infinitely more important than Brexit, yet I suspect that the silent block of Tory old schoolers will vote for McVey and Boris the Blamer. Significantly, it was only McVey who blamed other parties in this debate and sought to bring them into disrepute. The other candidates occasionally referred to other parties, but did not to blame or dwell discussing or disrepecting them.

My hope (and vote) is for our once “safe seat” for “shoo in” candidates (previously George Osborne & now McVey) becomes a lot less safe and gives way to new wave of refreshing change.

I can't believe it!

We’re into the last week of the UK General Election, so we went to the local hustings, in Alderley Edge. As background, Tatton is a Conservative safe seat currently held with a huge majority (58% of voters, Labour second) by ex-minister Esther McVey.

The hustings were held in a church and chaired by the vicar. Candidates answered questions put by selected members of the audience.

Esther McVey largely stuck to the party line – get Brexit done, with little detail on anything else. She was bemused as to why there were more food banks today than 10 years ago, and why politics is now so divisive. It seems it was all caused by Labour’s creating the financial crash of 2008 and leaving the country in a mess. Nothing to do with the banks and Tory policy in the intervening years, then. Derisive laughter met her attempts to explain why police…

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Kindness is key to health and happiness, and it’s free!

I’m sharing this blog post by Jane Fritz, who writes from Canada – and she writes a lot of sense too. This post about kindness, and how it can benefit everyone, is something to consider, embrace and act upon. Be kind. It costs nothing but the gains are temendous. Give it a go… smile…and be kind….

Robby Robin's Journey

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and, just as with Thanksgiving in Canada (which is a little earlier, when travel is more predictable), it’s a time for many people to consider all that they have to be thankful for and to be reminded that gratitude is good for our health. In fact it’s very good for our health. Just google “gratitude and health” and you’ll find out.

As it turns out, being kind to others is also good for your health, maybe even more so. You can google that as well! Engaging in kindness has all kinds of positive physical effects. Ongoing research shows that kindness can actually extend your life. It lowers your blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression, and helps the immune system. Research shows that kindness can help you live longer and better, both in the giving of kindness and in being the recipient of kindness. And…

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Whatever happened to Lobby Lud?

On holiday, 1950s. Lobby Lud in the trirly hat? From my personal archives.t?

On holiday, 1950s. Lobby Lud in the trilby hat? From my personal archives.

This question arose as husband is currently giving a touch of fresh paint to the area between our kitchen door, which leads to the utility room and also has a door  giving access to the garage. I call it the lobby. He calls it an alcove. Daughter calls it a porch.

Using the word “lobby” had us both remembering a certain character called Lobby Lud, who was around in the late 1950s/early 1960s when we were taken on seaside holidays with our respective parents – me to Clacton-on-Sea, him to Blackpool and Scarborough.

As I remember, Lobby Lud was a mystery man who roamed around the resort, probably wearing a trilby hat and carrying a certain newspaper. People were encouraged to look out for him, and if they recognised him from his picture in the newspaper, to approach him and say “You are Lobby Lud and I claim my £5”.

The whole thing was a ruse to get people on holiday to buy a daily newspaper. As I recall, it was probably either The Daily Mail, or The News Chronicle who ran this event, and it was done to boost newspaper sales. People often didn’t bother to buy a paper whilst on holiday so this was a way to encourage them to do so, with the potential £5 as the prize. £5 was quite a lot of money in the 1950s.

The whole thing had a quaint, slightly quirky ring to it, but I don’t think my dad ever saw Lobby Lud when we were out and about – or if he did, he tried to get me, but an innocent young child at the time, to go and challege Lobby and ask for the £5. I would never have dared to do this, but I was always on the lookout for a man in a trilby hat, carrying a newspaper when we were walking around in the central promenade area near the pier.

Oh, those were days of innocent holiday family fun alright. In Clacton, as well as Lobby Lud, there was a concert party on the pier twice daily and live entertainment and shows to go to. Today’s holiday makers are more likely to go to a multi-screen cinema with a bar, and read the news on their smart phones or tablets. And more often than not it’s only the older generation who have a folded, well-thumbed tabloid tucked under one arm.

Trust, truth and communication

group of people sitting indoors

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

It’s hard to trust much of what we see, hear, read or are presented with via the media as  the UK staggers wearily towards the forthcoming general election.

Truth and trust is a rarity. We have a prime minister, supported by members of the cabinet, who appear to be highly capable of making things up as they go along, claiming they are facts. Well they may be, but the chances are they’ve been massaged and manipulated to serve the purpose of getting the message across. I’ll be generous and say that some of them may be wrong because they’ve been incorrectly remembered or briefed, but that’s as far as my generosity is likely to go.

In most instances in this run up to the general election, it seems to be the output of the  prime minister which comes across as lacking in the trust department. He appears to be uncomfortably incapable of speaking with conviction or truth.

Time and again as he goes about electioneering, people around the country and the journalists who follow him, are asking questions which he deflects by ignoring them, changing the subject and blaming the mess we are in on other people and other political parties.

Mulling this stuff over in the wee small hours, I was reminded of some of the psychosynthesis/self-awareness training I have been  involved in delivering. We asked participants to do an exercise based on psychologist Virginia Satir’s Methods of Communication.

Taking on each of these roles in turn, so as to experience them, and with a thumbnail situation to role play within, they are

The Blamer, who shifts the onus as far away from his/herself by throwing blame on others

The Placator, who tries to please & doesn’t want to upset things

The Distractor, who changes the subject as fast as possible

The Computor, who is logical and factual but is also totally unemotional as he or she doles out the dry facts

The Leveller however is where it’s at. Levelling is about being honest, truthful, coming from what is known as your centre in psychoynthesis terms. Even if you’ve never heard of “the (your!) centre” before, you will have a sense of  what it means.

It means to be solid, honest, secure,  true and “right on” in what you’re saying and doing, to be authentic…..if you’re coming from this place, and are levelling (like speaking your own truth and admitting you don’t always know the answers to things), people will respect you and believe you. You will be credible because of your vulnerability and authenticity. These are some of the qualities that a good leader will express.

So now, what I’m doing every time a politician speaks in this dreary, dreadful, divisive Brexit-ridden election, is remembering to apply some of Virginia Satir’s wisdom to their style of commuication, and form my own opinion.