Monday, February 4, 2008

Seven Things You Oughta Know About Me



I've been tagged by Carol of Simply Gluten Free to write seven random things about myself and nominate seven others to do the same. So here goes....
 
Raised By Hippies. Yes, I was raised in a hippie commune on the gorgeous Dorset coast. There we lived in a huge gothic pile, like lentil munching kings; surrounded by terraced lawns and rolling fields where dun coloured cows ruminated and naked folks tended the walled garden that provided most of our vegetables. There were no drugs; well at least none that couldn't be picked from the fields. We didn't laze about contemplating our navels; we were hard working hippies, with an almost Protestant attitude to life.

It was the best of times - it was the worst of times. It shaped me into the complex person I am and I do give thanks for that. I learnt how to milk those cows, what a talking stick is for, how to smudge someone correctly and which end of the incense to light. But I also got chilblains every winter, didn't see any TV for years and all my clothes smelled of soup. So I guess it was a mixed blessing, a fondly remembered time and one which I wouldn't recommend if you are averse to armpit hair or nudity.

Home Schooled. So I guess this may be obvious now from what's written above. I didn't attend secondary school. I went my own way, learnt how to make paper, print, weave, felt, dye, marble paper, made a spinning wheel out of a bike and learnt how to spin fleece into yarn, drew lots of chickens and a few cows. I learnt how to judge the water in a pan of rice for 30 people, how many carrots to pull up for a salad for 25 and how to avoid being put on the rota with someone I didn't like. I learnt how to meditate and how to take the piss out of nearly every group therapy going, especially Reikian therapy, by standing outside the window of the group room with the other kids shouting, 'NO - YES! NO - YES!' for far longer than anyone else found funny.

I found out how I like to learn - and it might not be the way you learn things, or the way you think things should work, but it works for me. I may not know the capital of every country and I definitely don't know all my kings and queens; but I do know a lot of useful stuff, and some esoteric stuff too and I'm coming to terms with the fact that I am every bit as good as someone who had a conventional education. Hey sometimes, I may even out shine them! I also have lots of qualifications; to show the world that I can get those bits of paper that say you know something.

Hypermobile. What? Sounds like some sort of deluxe touring vehicle, yes? It means that my joints move more than most. It's great for showing off at yoga classes - watch me put my foot behind my head suckers! I can put my head between my knees, stretch my thumb all the way back to my wrist, swing my arms in a complete circle back past my ears and sit cross legged like a child. It's not all fun and games though; actually not at all. Sometimes my hip decides to part company briefly with my leg joint - a real problem when I'm cycling.
It also nearly ruined my trip to Brighton. I was mooching around the shops in my smart double breasted winter coat when my shoulders started to ache horribly. After half an hour the pain was so bad I thought about stopping by a tattoo shop just to have a distraction from it. As I was considering this dubious course of action, I remembered that it might be my bra causing the problem. How so, you might ask? Well, this bra was padded (a girl needs a little help sometimes) and the combination of increased bust size and nicely fitted coat was pulling my barely joined shoulder joints out of their sockets. I rushed to the nearest M&S and purchased a sensible bra without a hint of padding and my shoulders sighed back into place with relief. Underwear - it's not as innocuous as it looks.

Costume Designer. One of those bits of paper I went after, post home schooling, was a degree in Costume Design. I love fabric, colour, plays, characters, drawing, costume history and corsets, how could this not be perfect for me? You know what, it was perfect - until I had to go on tour with film crews, who air kissed my girlish cheeks and stabbed me in the back with the dressmaking shears when I least expected it. Sure, it looked glamorous, but having to wipe the cocaine off an actor's nose to preserve continuity and being groped by a large perspiring opera singer as you adjust his cravat soon convinced me that - in the words of ACDC - 'it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll'. Bye bye film world - hello sanity.

Singer. I only occasionally mention this part of my life on the blog. I've always sung. My first boyfriend played the guitar like Joni Mitchell and I sang like her, together we were a great little Joni tribute. Can't say much for the relationship - but the music was great! I could do a good impression of Joni, but it wasn't until I took part in a performance workshop with the inimitable Jonathon Kay that I realised what it was to tell the story of a song from the centre of your heart. I sang a Joni song to the circle, imagining that everyone would be delighted until Jonathon stopped me, asking why I wasn't feeling the words? He made me sing that song until the tears ran down my face and my soul rang out with every word. There wasn't a dry eye left in the room.
When someone approaches me after a gig to say how moved they were by a song, I think of Jonathon and the gift of that painful experience.

Telephone Valium. I know this is an odd thing because I have never met anyone else who wasn't annoyed by cold callers. However, I have this odd response to those sales people who call to sell you double glazing or to change your energy supplier. I just drift off while they are talking, into a comfortable trance, like a sheep with a bag on its head. I get the same thing when Fin strokes my hair or I have a massage. Of course, I never take these earnest folks up on their kind offers of double glazing or cheaper power (we get expensive green electricity); I just wish them well and go back to what I was doing.

Rosewater. This isn't really a surprise to any of you who follow my blog, but it is an essential part of me. I love rosewater. I make cocktails with it, pour it into my herb tea, sprinkle liberal amounts over whipped cream and bananas, add it to cakes, meringues, biscuits, ice-cream, syllabubs and even meatballs. I even spray the stuff on my face before I lay my head down at night. It's a love affair that shows no sign of cooling off.

Pride and Prejudice. Every now and then I revisit Jane Austen's ode to the folly of mistaken first impressions. Even though I know every twist and turn and can quote it at will, it draws me back again and again. I guess I'm a romantic fool at heart and I find something incredibly satisfying in the inevitable melting of Elizabeth Bennett’s dislike of Darcy after the discovery of his goodness and his awakening to the folly of excessive pride. It's a book for those times when I need a little romantic cosseting - so no surprise then, that it never gathers much dust.

So there you are! Seven random things to flesh out the mischievous Max of the Wild Things that is my online self. I look forward to reading the following folks, should they choose to take up the baton and carry it. But remember guys, nobody will die if you decide not to - these nominations are just a suggestion of folks that I would like to know a little random stuff about. I nominate:

My Kitchen In Half Cups

Bake My Day

Laura Rebecca's Kitchen

Book of Yum

64Square Foot Kitchen

Ambrosia and Nectar

What's on My Plate?