Monday, July 12, 2004

Search vs discovery

I was using Friends Re-United, a UK web-site to try and locate an old university friend called Barbara Stephens. As I typed in the name the "search" revealed a list of possibilities. As I scrolled down the list I came across a Barbara Stephens who attended Gosforth Grammar School and who had left there in 1973. I knew a Barbara Stephens when I was 6 years old. It was a different Barbara Stephens to the one I lived with at University. I had forgotten all about her, until that moment. She was the older sister of my first best friend. I wondered, if this person could be my friend Gillian's sister. I wrote to Gillian a couple of times when I was six years old. She wrote back to me. We promised we would visit. Where she had moved to, seemed so far away. It was only forty miles. We lost touch. I sent an e-mail, just on the off chance that it could be her.

The next day I received a reply and I was right. Barbara remembered straight away. She gave me an update on her family. I wasn't prepared for the tragedy that unfolded. Her mum had died of cancer in 1983, at the age of 49. Gillian died last Christmas of breast cancer. The family is still grief ridden.

I found out that Gillian had attended Bedford College, London University at the same time I attended University College, London University. We were about two miles apart for three years. After that she went on to train and later became a Midwife at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow. I gave birth to my two boys there. We lived and worked in the same area about three miles apart for years.

Barbara told me that Gillian was a lovely person. All I remember is that she was my first best friend. I was bereft when she moved away. This story adds a whole new meaning to the expression "good friends are hard to find"

The point of Kevin's recent blog entry about search and discovery is well illustrated by this story. I didn't find what I originally searched for, but I discovered a whole lot more."Blogging is about what you discover, not about what you search for." This idea extends to other things too. The discoveries can be personal and emotional.

My fragmented memories made the links which enabled me to do the search. My discoveries have had a profound impact on me just like the film I watched a film a couple of weeks ago called "Sheltering Sky".

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The birthday present

I have a very dear friend and a week before my birthday she had already booked my two for a sleep-over so I could "celebrate" the event. A couple of days after the event, my friend telephoned me and said she was sending her cleaners to my house the following week as she was going to Michigan to visit family. The cleaners were paid for and all I had to do was open the door and let them in. If only that were the case! (She didn't say it was my present.. but it was!) Good friends just know what you need, even when you don't realise it yourself.

I had known for a full week that the cleaners were coming on Thursday and all I had to do was make it possible for them to clean. Oh my.... where do you start?

Jan gave me the idea that actually made it possible for me to have the cleaners in my house... "What I do is just put what is in the way on the bed"

Our bed, Andrew's bed and Christopher's bed looked like overloaded dumpsters, which if we had paid someone to remove, we would have been surcharged!

Where does all the c..p come from and how is it no-one notices it until ... well you have to? I spent three hours preparing for the arrival of the cleaners and believe me it was hard labour and I've given birth twice.

I was full of optimism and excitement. The cleaners were coming at 12.30. I had to pick the boys up from Art Camp at 12.30 so on my way out I left instructions with Kevin that the Yamaha piano was not to be touched.

On my return, I noticed that their vacuum cleaner was not great and had no obvious crevice tool attachment. I allowed myself to be deluded into thinking these professionals could do a better job than me. (I am an expert on vacuum cleaners.. I have five)

The real reason I dislike housework so much is that I don't have the time to do a really good job under normal circumstances. I am actually very good at it but suffer huge amounts of inertia at the prospect of starting a job and not completing it. Yes, it is a rather defeatist attitude I know.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Andrew and Christopher are sharing a bed tonight as Andrew's bunk beds are inaccessible, most of my kitchen ephemera is on the table on the deck but the good news is my bed is accessible and the kitchen looks light and airy. I spent a good couple of hours today "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" and my bedroom looks unfamiliar as a result. My visual memory is all to pot and tomorrow is going to be fun trying to locate things!

OK, so has any good come from all of this? The answer is a resounding YES. I need to have cleaners come into my house so I can make it possible for cleaning to happen. It feels good... but how can anyone clean seriously without a crevice tool, I ask you!

I went out tonight for a girls' night out and fully expected to return to mayhem and mess. Not so. It is quiet and clean. How long can the calm and order be maintained? I'll let you know!

Did I mention the cleaners surcharged me!

PS Andrew won a "guess how many Starbursts are in the jar" competition he entered at the beginning of the week at Helios in Cupertino tonight. He was overjoyed...... and then I asked him who really won the competition.... How many did you write down as your first guess... ); I celebrated my birthday at Helios on the 28th 0f June! I enjoyed it so much we went back a week later with the boys.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Call off the search

A package arrived in the post on the afternoon of my birthday last week addressed to Kevin. I assumed it was a CD for me as a present... don't know why really, just did. Anyway I opened the package and inside was a CD by a young artist called Katie Melua. On the way out to dinner that evening I mentioned the package to Kevin and he'd been sent it to do a review. We listened to it on the way to the restaurant and I've played it every day since. It is amazing. Strangers who have heard it playing in my car want to buy it... The US release date was June 8th. I had no idea as I was playing this CD that it had been number 1 in the charts for weeks in the UK and had sold 1.2 million copies and gone platinum.Katie Melua official Website: KATIE MELUA Her voice has a haunting unique quality and her style is modern but somehow retro. Katie was born in Georgia (USSR), moved to Northern Ireland, studied in Scotland and went to college in London. It is hard to pick a favourite track as they are all so good. "Tiger in the night" I like very much. Crawling up a hill is also a memorable one. You have to check her out. You will not be disappointed! She's on Jimmy Kimmel live on Friday 9th July.