first day of my life

Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The State of Poetry by Roger McGough

Yesterday I bought no. 48 in the "pocket" series that Penguin has brought out to celebrate its 70th anniversary. This one is "The State of Poetry" by Roger McGough. Here are a selection of his (comical) poems that I really like (although I haven't finished reading the book yet, so I may be making additions...):

*Conservative Government Unemployment Figures

Conservative Government.


Jane Austen
Got lost in
Moral: She shouldn’t have went.

*Bath – Avon

I have a problem with Bath
I use the short a, rhyming it with math,
Whereas southerners put in the r. Barth.

So my living there would be a kind of hell
(Although a lovely place by all accounts).
Never have an operation you cannot spell
Or live in a town you mispronounce.

Yes, maybe they are silly poems, but it's been a long time since I laughed out loud at a book.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Rire, c'est risquer de paraître idiot.
Pleurer, c'est risquer de paraître sentimental.
Aller vers quelqu'un, c'est risquer de s'engager.
Exposer ses sentiments, c'est risquer d'exposer son moi profond.
Présenter ses idées, ses rêves à la foule, c'est risquer de les perdre.
Aimer, c'est risquer de ne pas être aimé en retour.
Vivre, c'est risquer de mourir.
Espérer, c'est risquer de désepérer.
Essayer, c'est risquer d'échouer.
Mais, il faut prendre des risques, car le plus grand danger dans la vie, c'est de ne rien risquer du tout.
Celui qui ne risque rien, ne fait rien, n'a rien, n'est rien.
Il peut éviter la souffrance et la tristesse mais il n'apprend rien, ne resent rien, ne peut changer ni se développer, ne peut ni aimer ni vivre.

Enchaîné par sa certitude, il devient esclave, il abandonne sa liberté.

Seuls ceux qui risquent sont libres.

(Auteur inconnu)

Monday, July 25, 2005

rhubarb muffins!

Yes, I know they look a bit burnt, but they taste really good. (Thanks again, Nigella.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005


This evening I went to visit Wendy B, the partially-sighted/disabled lady I visit every week. Tonight I feel went especially well, and that we reached the point where we can call each other friends now. I always feel that she's forced to do her computer work with me, and that it's not really out of her own choice, because all the residents in the house (sounds a bit like Big Brother...) are supposed to do an activity with a volunteer every week. But tonight I felt relaxed with her, and we even joked about her carer Colin, who she is not that keen on... Actually she doesn't like him much at all. (She tells me these things but I am not supposed to tell anybody else.) She also likes to swear a lot, but I guess she must either feel really comfortable around me, or knows that I'm not going to tell on her... The residents aren't supposed to swear, and get into trouble if they do... But not bad swear words, because really she's sweet and needs to let off steam with somebody (me). I asked her if she enjoyed typing on the computer, and her reply was 'Yes, I really like computers', so that made me happy, that we were doing an activity that she actually wanted to do. If I didn't see her regularly, she would never have the chance to use a computer, and for that reason it makes the whole thing worthwhile and my time spent well. I then told her that I would have to stop coming in September, and that she would have to have a new volunteer, and then she said, 'But you can still phone me, can't you?' And then I realised that actually Wendy does like me, and that we are friends, and that she does appreciate the time I spend with her. And it felt really good (because usually I can't be bothered to go and think that Wendy doesn't really care about the typing and chatting to me). But I felt sad too, that I will have to stop being her volunteer. So, all I can say is it really is time, if you haven't already, to volunteer. Even if it's just for a few weeks, for a few hours, or just a day, it is really important. Next week she wants to go to the pub... But I have to learn how to manoeuvre her wheelchair first... I'm sure I can do it...

Monday, July 18, 2005

10 things to do in your lunch hour

I like lists: I found this in the Office Hours supplement today. I wonder if I can manage to do all of these before the end of August... 10 things to do in your lunch hour. Or half hour in my case.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman
Originally uploaded by jennywren146.
I have recently (re)fallen in love with Michael Nyman's music. I learnt the theme from the film The Piano ('The Heart Asks Pleasure First') many years ago. But when I was in France, dreaming about playing the piano and missing my piano from home (despite its out-of-tune-ness), I became inspired again and on a bit of a whim ordered the music from the film Wonderland. Good choice though! The music is so simple, but soothing... Wouldn't it be wonderful to go and see Michael Nyman play in concert?

Monday, July 11, 2005

hit counter

Why does the hit counter that I've chosen make me advertise their website? Where can I get a proper counter?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stockton on the Forest Carnival

Fashion Through The Ages
Originally uploaded by jennywren146.
Today I went to the carnival that takes place in my village every year. This was the first time I'd attended in about ten years! The last time I came was when I was still at Huntington School, with my friend Heidi who used to live just around the corner from me. It was actually Jane who mentioned it to me when I met her for lunch the other day... I'm really glad we made the effort though. The kids in the parade were so cute!! I especially liked the 'Fashion Through The Ages' section (see picture). We got to see what fashion was like from the 1920s all the way through to 2005!! The kids doing the modelling were carrying signs showing the year they were representing... I thought 1951 was especially special - how specific! Did that kid do loads of research or what?! Not just fashion in the 1950s, but 1951! Wow! What bright kids we produce in this village! We followed the parade up to the village hall, and tried our luck on the tambola. Unfortunately I didn't win the 'Pot Noodles' mug set (shame). But it was lovely to be part of the community, even just for the afternoon...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Anna Karenina

This is the first Tolstoy book I've read. Despite it being 800 pages long, I was hooked!! (But I skipped some of the chapters with the agricultural descriptions.) I was a little disappointed by the ending... Anna's actions were a little drastic I think!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

REM in Hull

I saw REM for the second time last night. What a lovely evening it was in Hull too... A typical British summer's evening. I'm sure Demi and Wanyu will have fond memories of that place! Especially of Lidl (where we pretended to buy beansprouts) and the pub where they don't serve meals. What a place Hull is!! I wonder what a band like REM would think of a northern English town. Must be completely different from Athens, Georgia... So, anyway, the concert. Of course REM are amazing (to me, anyway) and I'll always remember my days as a teenager listening to them non-stop. But for some reason seeing them yesterday wasn't as special to me as when I saw them for the first time in London. I guess the mystery had already been taken away. I also felt like they were doing this huge tour, but it was very impersonal (Stipe didn't even speak to the audience until about five songs in). Kind of another place to cross off the list for them. Maybe after seeing Rufus W in such an intimate place (GOH), and then to see a major rock band in a football stadium, of course it will feel different.

They opened with Bad Day. Although a recent song, it is actually one of their best songs. Fran, you know that!! I wish you had been there with me to shout out the lyrics!! Like we did when we had bad days in Japan!! They played a lot of crowd-pleasers like Everybody Hurts, The One I Love, Man on the Moon, Losing My Religion, but too many of their new songs from the new album that I don't like very much. And the rain!! Oh the rain!! The three of us were drenched even before we entered the stadium! We did buy some very fetching rain coats though (which I wanted to keep, but the other two just told me to throw away...) Michael Stipe made a comment along the lines of: "If it had to rain today to be nice for last Saturday (Live 8), then so be it". I agree. It was much more important for the weather to have been sunny on Saturday. I was pleased though that they played a few of the very old ones, like Seven Chinese Brothers, Pilgramage, Welcome To The Occupation, and Orange Crush. The rain managed to hold off for the most part, and even when it did fling it down, it added to the atmosphere... especially during the climax at the end of Everybody Hurts. Perfect timing!

What I like about Stipe is his politics, and the fact that he is not afraid to let his opinions known. Final Straw is a song which criticises the Bush administration, and I think the words are very important:

Who died and lifted you up to perfection?
And what silenced me is written into law.

I can't believe where circumstance has thrown me
And I turn my head away
If I look I'm not sure that I could face you.
Not again. not today. not today.

If hatred makes a play on me tomorrow
And forgiveness takes a back seat to revenge
There's a hurt down deep that has not been corrected.
There's a voice in me that says you will not win.

And if I ignore the voice inside,
Raise a half glass to my home.
But it's there that I am most afraid,
And forgetting doesn't hold. it doesn't hold.

Now I don't believe and I never did
That two wrongs make a right.
If the world were filled with the likes of you
Then I'm putting up a fight. I'm putting up a fight.
Putting up a fight. make it right. make it right.

Now love cannot be called into question.
Forgiveness is the only hope I hold.
And love- love will be my strongest weapon.
I do believe that I am not alone.

For this fear will not destroy me.
And the tears that have been shed
It's knowing now where I am weakest
And the voice in my head. in my head.

Then I raise my voice up higher
And I look you in the eye
And I offer love with one condition.
With conviction, tell me why.
Tell me why.
Tell me why.
Look me in the eye.
Tell me why.

But, even if I was a little disappointed, and got drenched to the bone, and missed Idlewild (sorry, Demi), I'm so glad I saw them, and I hope I will do again.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

look at the blue sky

This is Belle-Ile-En-Mer ('beautiful island in the sea'), very early in the morning. Taken whilst I was waiting for the ferry and eating my breakfast.

Mont St. Michel! See why I had to go there!

being back...

...and typing 'q' where I should put an 'a'. I shqll have to learn to type on a qwerty keyboard again before Monday...

I'm going to upload some pics to this website, but just q few. For those who want to see them all, you will have to ask me nicely!

I don't feel like sleeping.

So, being back. I guess that every time I go away I expect things to have changed. The things I least expect to change, do. And the things that I wish would change never do! So it's same old, same old here. More or less.

So, happy birthday, Annemarie. I'm sorry I couldn't stay for Cranium, as I know you were dying for me to do another miming one (I must admit that 'cat litter' wasn't the easiest thing to mime). I hope you had a lovely birthday, and will enjoy reading Philip Pullman in French.

Friday, July 01, 2005

home tomorrow

Home tomorrow. I can't believe it! I'm really looking forward to getting back though. It's hard to believe I actually stayed the month. Haha, when I spoke to my mum on the first night here I told her that I would give it a week and then come home!

I said goodbye to Françoise this morning... I bought her a plant and a little card to say thank you for being so kind. She's always complaining about how she has to live with four men (three sons and her husband), so I thought she deserved something a bit special (can you imagine having to live with four other men!!!)

Today it's throwing it down, and it's cold, so I'm going to find myself a cafe and then maybe treat myself to the last crêpe.

Salut Quimper!