When the world was bigger,

When the days were long,

When the night came quickly,

When my legs were strong,

I would climb the lamppost,

Right up to the light,

Swing upon the cross bar,

Holding really tight.


When the nights were lighter,

When we were out all day,

When a pound was riches,

When all we did was play,

Then I would write out numbers

In chalk upon the ground

And hop and jump for hours

Until the night came round.


When all my friends were little,

When I was little too,

When adults were like giants,

When there was lots to do,

I’d pull the blankets round me,

The world would fade from sight,

I’d lose myself in stories,

‘Til late into the night.

My Mother’s House

My mother’s house is packed with books
The paper garden of my thought.
Mysteries, crime, adventure tales,
Poetic tomes, the facts of war.

I know them like a loved friend’s face,
Their covers and each lettered line.
I know the stains, the tears, the wear,
The marks that take me back in time.

So long ago I picked them up,
Devoured each chapter, phrase and word,
Cocooned within that special place,
My private and imagined world.

Quite deaf to any outside sound,
Unknowing of the turn of tide.
Entranced by other people’s words,
Inspiring me to try to write.

Those stories now are written large,
A part of me, beyond all doubt.
My story too is written there,
On pages in my mother’s house.

My ’10 things’ blog post.

By some coincidence, I have recently stumbled (metaphorically) across several blog posts with a ’10 things’ theme, such as ’10 reasons to stop shouting at ducks’, ’10 ways to get your foot unstuck from railings’ and, my particular favourite, ’10 types of bread that can be used as a rubber’, which, for my American friends, I must explain means ‘eraser’.  Actually, none of those things are posts I have genuinely found, but they illustrate the kind of thing that seems to be becoming more and more common.  And since I, too, am becoming more and more common I decided I would have a go at it myself.  But, what to write?

The bulk of these posts seem to be about things that make you think ‘smug git’ and click on another web-page: self-congratulatory things that are really just an excuse to boast.  ’10 ways to make your skin healthier’ translates as ‘Look at my beautiful skin in this array of artistic black and white photographs; ’10 healthy snacks you can take to work’ is another way of saying ‘I’m slim because I actually make an effort, instead of buying biscuits from the snack-trolley!’ and ’10 tips for better writing’ just means ‘I spent three years studying English Language in university and I’ll be damned if I’m only going to use it for sending angry letters to the council about pot-holes.’  I didn’t say they were all smug: just the bulk of them.  The trouble with this model of the ’10 things’ blog is that I don’t have anything to boast about.

So, here is a list of 10 things I can’t make into a ’10 things’ blog post, as well as why I can’t:

  1. 10 things that are better than chocolate:

I didn’t write this because a list that says ‘More chocolate’ 10 times would probably not hold the attention for very long. 

  1. 10 exercises you can do while you’re at your desk.

I don’t work in an office and haven’t done so for many years, but when I did, the only exercises I did were:

The back-stretch, where you lean as far back in your chair as you can until you can see into the boss’s office to find out whether he can see that you’re not actually working

The ankle rotation, where you rotate your clicky ankle that makes a dull ‘thunk’ as it moves (I’m sorry if you don’t have one because it’s a requirement of this exercise) until the person who sits opposite you becomes amusingly irritated and swears at you.  Points awarded for doing it while they’re on the phone to a client.

  1. 10 creative things you can do with flowers from your garden.

Well, to call what’s behind my house ‘a garden’ is stretching a point to its limit.  There are flowers there, to be fair.  About a million dandelions, for a start, and something tall and scary-looking, although that could just be the washing-prop, covered with bindweed.  With a cat of my own and four next door, I wouldn’t want to start cooking anything I found out there, nor would I particularly want to press any of it between heavy books.

  1. 10 books everybody should read.

I’m not the right person to start helping you pick books, since one of my favourites is ‘Everybody Hide from Wibbly Pig’.  It isn’t that I don’t read adult literature, it’s just that I have a special place in my heart for children’s books and their illustrations, so unless you have a 2 to 10 year-old, you’re probably not going to want to investigate my choices.

  1. 10 apps that you really need on your phone.

I have a good phone.  I know this because I have been told so by somebody who claims to know about these things.  The criteria by which I judge the quality of a phone are:

  • Can you phone people with it?
  • Can you text people with it?
  • Does it have a decent camera?
  • When it’s been bounced off a variety of surfaces (which is how it will spend its life with me), will I still be able to use it for the previous 3 things?

If the answer to all of these things is ‘yes’, then I will be happy.

However, I have downloaded apps. Precisely 5 of them: 2 cryptic crosswords, an app for making notes (which has the ingenious name, ‘Notes’), a timer and Kindle.  My daughter insisted on the timer so I could measure her 15 minutes of stretching that she does each night because being able to put both legs behind your head at the same time is somehow not ‘stretchy’ enough. And although I have Kindle, I have only downloaded 2 books: Dracula and Wuthering Heights.  I already own both of those books and have yet to investigate their e-counterparts.  When I’m forced to sit in my car, waiting for children to come out of school, or drama, or dance class, or catering-college I just do a cryptic crossword.  And if I’m being really honest, I didn’t download all 5 of the apps personally; I got my daughter to do it.

  1. 10 soap characters who should have their own spin-offs.

Several years ago, I gave up watching soaps for Lent and never took it up again.  However, when visiting family who watch them, I have occasionally seen isolated episodes and this has taught me 3 things:

  • If an actor has been in a soap, they will eventually turn up in a different soap just to confuse me.
  • The same things happen again and again, so if you time it right, you can watch one episode then watch another episode 2 years later and it will vaguely make sense.
  • Even on a bad day, characters in a Northern soap are happier than characters in a Southern soap.  I don’t know why this is. 
  1. 10 things you should have in your wardrobe.

If you have read my blog before, you may be acquainted with the dire state of my wardrobe.  I am in no position to be a fashion blogger.  But as somebody who ‘walked on the Goth side’ in her youth, I will say that a wardrobe essential for me is a torch which I can use to distinguish one black garment from another.

  1. 10 cocktails to make for a party.

I had some cocktails the day I left college.  As I had written a very long, analytical piece on the 1916 Easter Rising, I chose a cocktail called an Eamonn De Valera.  I don’t know what was in it, but it was pretty potent and I only know that the rumours of my dancing on tables were greatly exaggerated.  It was a chair.

  1. 10 ways to make money from home.

Funnily enough I have genuinely seen this on more than one occasion although I can’t ever remember reading one all the way through.  I get as far as ‘Sell things on eBay’ and I’m off on the hunt for things to sell.  I drag everything out from the loft, realise that nobody is going to want a bald Christmas tree, the empty boxes from 17 small electrical appliances (saved in case we ever need to send them for repair) or several rolls of loft insulation that I probably should have left in the loft now I come to think of it and then I shove the items into the wardrobe and go and eat some chocolate.

  1. 10 things I can’t write a ‘10 things’ blog about.

I just couldn’t think of any more.