the moon's never seen me before.

Monday, December 31

(A sneaky little post written in whispering letters just to say: hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that next year is full of many delightful things  

The promise in my last post of writing ‘soon’ fell to the wayside when the dissertation took over – nine days till it’s due in, and counting.

I’ll not leave you with empty promises, though. Instead, here are some pictures of light I've been noticing while going about my days - most especially the twinkle lights in my room.
I’ve recently fallen in love – all over again – with the lovely, wistful light they cast, with the way their reflections dance over every surface they touch.

And now, of course, you must listen to this: by Sam Philips. Goodnight.)

be still.

Wednesday, November 21

Earlier this afternoon, I wandered down the stairs of one of the taller (and uglier) buildings in the university. My mind was churning a lot of things over (...worrying about an essay, tiredness, thinking about someone, formulating a need-to-do list, trying to work out a story plot, feeling a bit wistful and weighed down under the heaviness of my bag...). Ruminating. I guess that's the word for it.

Before leaving the building I took a short detour to visit the bathroom... and was struck into stillness by these words on the cubical door:

Yes. How true! Be calm. Don't worry. Breathe deeper. Have hope. (Wisdom in an unexpected place.)

Hello! I'm still here. The silence on this blog is related to the demand for words elsewhere (...where else but: university!) There are many words to be read, and many to be written. But I'll be back on here soon with more 'noticings' (and some good news.)

'I'm just a silhouette...'

Sunday, October 21

Another smattering of photographs from this past week (taken through instagram*).
The week started off sunny, and then descended into days and days of heavy rain (resulting in damp feet and a chill that only a long soak in the bath could purge). 
I'm trying to spot moments of beauty, though, even in the rainy weather. We have such buckets of it in this country and moaning about it probably doesn't help things (...I say this to myself, being up there with the best of the rain-ranters).
(Rainy shadows in George Square on my walk to class)
(A puddle of orange leaves on my walk home.)
Rainy days and dark nights make twinkle lights and tea all the more necessary (which can only be a good thing).
And... I suppose the rain makes the sun more noticeable (when it chooses to show up).
(Long shadows while waiting on the morning train. I was juggling my bag, my phone, and a cup of Earl Grey tea while taking this picture.)
Today, it's been lovely. My favourite part of autumn, every year, is the golden hour.
(A serendipitous picture of my mum walking into the golden light. I love the movement in this.) 

*(my user name is teaandascone, if you wanted to find me.)

noticings through instagram.

Sunday, October 7

In the midst of all the busyness, I've been trying to capture life through snapshots. I'm saving up for a DSLR camera at the moment (they are bloomin' expensive), but there's really something to be said for a good camera on your phone. So much easier to carry about, and much more subtle. Here are few things I've been noticing recently:

[one.] autumn is here.

[two.] sunlight and sea through my train window. I do like to live beside the seaside.

[three.] the first train ticket of the semester (this is my last year as an undergraduate ...which is kind of terrifying. Fourth year, so far, has been a return to form though. Looking forward to the rest of the year!)

[four.] editing the Strathclyde Telegraph is well under way. The Fresher's edition has already been published, Issue One is out this week, and I'm writing, gathering and editing Issue Two at the moment!

[five.] After about six years in one of the smallest rooms in the house, I've moved (into my sister's old room). Much warmer, brighter, and bigger.
[six.] me at the Theatre Royal reviewing a Scottish Ballet performance for the paper.

[seven, eight, and nine.] Trying to notice beauty in the autumn weather. A rainbow at the station... sky in a puddle...

...mist on my train journey.
(Also... I realised that I forgot to mention earlier on here that the literary magazine, Octavius, that included my short story has now been published. It has been since August, in fact!

Quite exciting to see my own words in print!)

Dear Tidy-Up Lady

Sunday, October 7

My mum found these letters a few weeks ago when she was tidying up our ‘school room’.
I wrote them to the tidy-up ladies (i.e. chamber maids) when we were staying in a hotel in Leeds.
I must have been about nine or ten, because I thought 'text language' was cool, and I still brought millions of soft animals with me everywhere (teddies, cats, dogs, squirrels, fluffy dogs. I wrote down all their names before I left the hotel room each day - an inventory of sorts - so I’d know if anyone decided to nick any of them).
I liked the idea of the tidy-up lady unlocking the door to our room, dragging the hoover in behind her, sighing a little, suppressing a yawn as she started to fold up sheets ...and then spotting the letter on the bed. I liked to think of her smiling when she saw it, and hoped the memory of it would stay with her the rest of the day.

(I also liked getting extra biscuits. And the most exciting thing was when one of the ladies actually wrote back...)


sorry for the quietness

Friday, September 28

...the past month has been absolutely hectic (working, writing dissertations, helping my sister move out, driving lessons, editing the paper, having the cold, helping at the Fresher's Fair and so on).

The next few months look like they are going to be filled with more of the same (+ Shakespeare). I just started back my final year of university on Tuesday which is slightly terrifying. I'm praying, wishing, hoping and crossing my fingers for a sense of peace (along with a sharp mind, and speedy-reading and writing skills) over the next few months! There's a lot to do, but hopefully it will be exciting instead of (or at least, as well as) being stressful! So... if my posts on here are a little few and far between... this is why!

For now, listen to this if y'like: Youth by Daughter (this song featured in a production of 'Romeo and Juliet' I went to see over the summer, and my friend reintroduced me to it a few weeks ago. Quite anguished, but beauitful).

(Pictures are of customer notices - unsure of the right term - noticed in Sainsbury's while on holiday. The first one is quite cute, the second one whispers of heartbreak.)

a small kindness.

Wednesday, September 12

The other week, a customer gave me a gift. It was drizzly outside, and she was waiting for her friend at a table by the window. I was cleaning her table and she said,

'Do you like sweet things?

I looked up and saw she was holding out a hard-boiled orange sweetie for me.

'Oh,' I said, 'thank-you very much.' And I popped it inside my apron pocket.

I didn't eat it ('Rule Number One: Don't eat sweets from strangers!!'). But it was kind of her to give me it. And I tried to receive the gift.

(My mum, wise lady that she is, is often talking about how it is quite a brave thing for people to offer kindness ...whether it takes the shape of an invitation, or a few words, or a hard boiled sweetie. Giving things, offering things, leaves people vulnerable. So receiving is, in a way, kind as well.

This is something I'm trying to get better at: resisting the urge to get embarrassed, or to automatically say 'no thanks', or to make excuses. So many things just don't come naturally.)

(Picture: sweet-peas from my Gran's garden. A love heart mark on the window. )

the things they leave behind.

Wednesday, August 29

I thought I'd post another one of my columns for the Strathclyde Telegraph. This is one of the last ones I wrote for the paper before the summer... but, for a number of reasons, the paper-version of this issue never actually ended up going to print (which was a pity, because I was quite pleased with it). So here it is: a kind of exclusive! (*wink*)

Something I've Noticed: discarded.
(from the Strathclyde Telegraph. Issue 7. April 2012.) 

It started with a handkerchief.

I was waiting at the bus stop when I spotted it by my feet: a crumpled, green, tartan handkerchief. 'What can it be doing there?' I wondered.

‘The erstwhile-owner of this handkerchief,’ I decided, after a bit of thought, ‘was most likely a tweed-clad gentleman with a slight curvature of the spine. He had probably been the victim of a violent sneeze, a sneeze which exploded from his nostrils with such force that this, his favourite handkerchief, was blown from his fingers straight into a puddle. Because his bus must have arrived at just that moment, the tweedy gentleman was, no doubt, forced to abandon the hankie in favour of alighting as, in all likelihood, he had an important appointment with his lady-friend to keep.’

Satisfied with this reasonable explanation, I put all thoughts of stray handkerchiefs out of my mind for the day. But ho! Little did I know this was only the beginning...

Throughout the following weeks I stumbled upon other stray items scattered about the streets: a purple glove perched on a fence, a woolly scarf draped over a wall, a body warmer lying among fallen leaves. I found a pair of chunky black boots just sitting in the middle of the pavement, and a mangled umbrella stuffed inside a bush; I found two full bags of groceries from Morrisons, forsaken, in a ditch.  

'How curious,' I thought. 'Perhaps the people in my village are just particularly forgetful.' Leaving your shoes behind is an easy mistake to make, I suppose. Just imagine that you were walking home one day and felt your toes wiggling against two stones. It would be quite understandable if, after unfastening your laces and shaking the stones out, you were to resume your walk without remembering to put the shoes back on. Perfectly understandable. I’ve even done it myself a few times.

After a few train journeys to and from Glasgow, however, it became increasingly apparent that this ‘discarding of random objects’ is not something specific to where I live. Quite the contrary. As my train hurtled past woods overrun with neglected buggies, kitchen sinks and perfectly intact-looking leather sofas, I began to suspect that something other than mere forgetfulness lurked behind these cast-offs. My suspicions were confirmed when, just last week, I looked out the window and there, smashed to pieces at the bottom of a gully, was (I kid you not) an enormous grand piano!
People of Strathclyde, I believe there is a gap in the collective knowledge of this country. Good citizens up and down the land are forced into lives of littering because they are helplessly unaware of the other options available. But fear not, dear friends! Be in the dark no longer! I have taken it upon myself to show you the light!

To those of you inclined towards abandoning groceries: I know that putting the shopping away can be a bit of a grind – all those tins! All that cheese you’ll have to rearrange in the fridge! But! I have a solution: if you’re not going to take your food home with you, why not give it to a friend? (Or why not save yourself some money and, y'know, don’t buy it at all?)
To shedders of random garments: isn’t the charity shop a more suitable place for unloading your old clothes? How about a car-boot sale? Have you ever heard of eBay?
And to those of you who are tired of grand pianos cluttering up your living rooms: hold off from those destructive we’ll-lug-it-up-a-hill-then-chuck-it-over-the-edge type plans that you are currently formulating. Hear me out! Would it not be better, would it not be kinder, to sell the piano (or even gift it) to an aspiring young musician? Think of the talent you might help to unlock. (Think of the pain you will spare your back!)

Don’t throw away your undesirables like used banana skins (which, by the way, should go in a bin). It might start today with discarding a handkerchief, but what will it be tomorrow...? Beware the slippery slope!

(Pictures taken over the past few years: a glove in Glasgow, the handkerchief itself, a baby's hat on a bench, a scarf on a wall, some socks at the bus-stop, a bear by a bin, an origami bird on a train, a seat on the street, a couch by the road. I haven't managed to get a picture of the piano yet, because the train is too fast. But it's still there, as far as I'm aware. I'll keep trying.) 

customers cracking jokes.

Monday, August 13

Busy cafe. Afternoon. Customers at table in the corner put down their menus. I walk over to them, pad and pen at the ready.

ME: Hi there.*

Customers look up. Two ladies, two men (old enough to qualify for the 'seniors choice' fish tea.)

ME: Do you know what you'd like?

One of the men winks at his friends. Looks at me. A wry smile.

MAN: Well... a pension increase ... an all inclusive holiday to Spain ... a full tank of petrol for my mini ...?

Other customers give tittering laughs. I smile, still holding up the pad and pen. 

(...ah yes. I see what you did there. Very funny...)

Pictures by: Mark Johns. (And here's one more, because I like them...!)

by mlekoshi