Wednesday 26 September 2012

Another person's Blue

Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, there is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well they're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it through these waves....

...Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

From 'Blue' by Joni Mitchell, from the album, Blue

Another person's Grey

"I lay back on the bed and looked up at the chains.  I was thinking, That sunshine, that colour yellow, maybe I will not see very much of these now.  Maybe the new colour of my life was grey.  Two years in the grey detention centre, and now I was an illegal immigrant.  That means, you are free until they catch you.  That means, you live in a grey area.  I thought about how I was going to live.  I thought about the years, living as quiet as could be.  Hiding my colours and living in the twilight and the shadows".

- Little Bee, a Nigerian Asylum Seeker in 'The Other Hand' by Chris Cleave (p.108-109)

Picture from

Sunday 23 September 2012

The blues/greys

Winter is approaching and I'm feeling blue
Or rather grey
Why do we call them the blues?
Blue is sunny sky and ocean deep
Blue is my favourite jumper
Your eyes
My wedding shoes
Blue is sparkling sapphire
Her nail varnish
Blue is cold, yes, but fresh and clean
Refreshing cool calm breath
A stroll along the river with you on my arm

Blue is deep soul grooves
Sweet love tunes
Verandah, pipe and rocking chair

So no, I would not say that I feel blue
I would not mind if I were blue

The colour today is grey
- a heavy sigh, an aching empty
A barren land and overcast sky
Blocking out light
Keeping out warmth
Sucking out hope
Leaving nothing to catch they eye

Grey is heavy and suffocating
Morning mist that doesn't lift
The chill in my bones
Grey are the tears that spill over
The sadness that silences me

So I walk to try and escape
Walk to the blue sea expecting it to be grey
Expecting the clouds to be hanging heavy as they were on my shoulders
The waves to overcome me like my emotions

But you know, don't you?
You know my thirst for colour

And to my surprise
I find waters calm, shades of indigo
I find warm breeze tasting sweet with memories of summer
I find crescent moon shining low above pink brushstrokes of cloud
I find sky - blue, lemon, peach and mint
I find people, communing with each other and with creation

Not alone

I find peace
I find colour
No trace of grey

Wednesday 19 September 2012


 My Mum and Dad are brilliant.  I couldn't ask for better parents.  OK I might not have said that a few years ago, and we've had our fair share of tears and tantrums, but with time, and learning to communicate better and understand each other, I'd say we've got a pretty good relationship.  I'm sad I don't get to see them more than I do.  They've just moved from Oxfordshire to Shropshire to begin a whole new adventure.  I love that despite their claims of being very 'average', and their more conservative way of doing things, they are not that normal!  (They think I'm weird but I think I know where that comes from!!) They are not willing to settle for the expected, they are up for change, they are open to learn and to build new relationships.  In their quiet, non-attention seeking way they persistently love God and the people around them.  My mum is quick to laugh and my dad is slow to get angry.  They both give great hugs and make a good cup of tea.  Together they are a great team.  They don't pretend to be perfect and are honest about the challenges life brings.  Their new house is peaceful and I'm sure will be a refuge/respite to many.  I hope they find people who appreciate them as much as their family and friends back in Oxford, Basingstoke and beyond do.  Hooray for Mummy and Daddy Pike!!

I really like this pic.  We took it on Monday - our first year anniversary.  We were in the kitchen about to eat a candle lit dinner.  (Thank you M&S Dine in for £10!  Although we like our food, so had to boost the portions with a few extra purchases.  Diets start... next month!)  My husband is another hero of mine.  Cheesy but true.  I can't tell you how grateful I am to be married to a man like him.  He rocks my socks :-)  

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Good Tings

OK enough of seeing the last post every time I look at my blog...

Change of tone:  Here are some GOOD things from the last week or two for which I am THANKFUL...

  • Travelling on trains in the middle of the day, when a seat at a table is pretty much guaranteed
  • Catching up with sisters
  • New cocktails... the one I had at 'Island Bar' in Birmingham had rum, cocoa liqueur, lime, cream and orange zest. Mmm mmm mmm!
  • Carrot cake and ginger wine (thanks mum!)
  • Exploring new places - this time Shropshire/Wales
  • Time to sit and read the paper with my parents
  • Being taken out as a surprise treat to see some amazing acoustic guitarists
  • Celebrating one year of marriage
  • A new friend
  • Sofa time with an old friend when you can talk about everything and anything
  • New-to-me jeans and bras that fit. woop - Thank you Mum's friend who always seems to be getting rid of clothes!
  • Walking with my Dad
  • Roast lamb (thanks Jean!)
  • Laughter and 'real talk' in our living room with people we love

Monday 10 September 2012

Diaries of Down 3

So I have a few questions:

  • Am I depressed?  Do I have depression?  Am I a depressive?  Does the fact that I'm taking medication and it's making me feel better change how I describe IT?  Change the wording?

  • What about the days when everything goes back to grey despite the medication?  Does it make it even more serious?  Does it mean something isn't working?  Or is this just life?  The ups and downs.  Can't be OK all the time, can we??

  • Is the fact that I wake up tired despite hours of sleep linked to the dreams that I think are a side effect of the medication?  I've always dreamt lots and woken up remembering them every day, but I think they are even more vivid now.     Last night I dreamed about fighting evil postmen, being charged huge sums of money for painting green sparkly nail varnish on the wall of a community centre, delaying everyone at a service station because I couldn't pull my trousers down in order to go to the toilet, then being unable to walk due to a dodgy hip that I used to have as a baby.  The service station and carpark then transformed into a huge ship with the whole world on it.  A dictatorship infact, with an uknown ruler and unclear rules but the constant threat of real punishment.  So everyone lived in fear, food was scarce, and it got darker and darker.  Despite the fact that faith didn't seem to be allowed, me and Llewellyn went out on to the deck and started praying with tears running down our faces.  To our surprise, others started to join in with honest pleas.  Then I started singing, and a bunch of people I didn't know from different countries started joining in, running around the ship, dancing and singing with all our might.  We didn't know what the consequences were going to be, but in that moment, it didn't matter.

OK so the Batman film 'The dark Knight' clearly influenced some of this, along with road trips over the summer, and the fact that we no longer have our friendly postman in our new building.  But still, it all seems a bit dramatic and means I wake up feeling like I've spent the whole night tense and stressed.

  • How do I know when to stop taking Happy Pills.  To be honest, I am scared of what might happen when I do.  
  • Does there always have to be a REASON for depression?  Is taking medication an escape from facing up to it - whatever IT may be, because I'm pretty clueless to be honest.
OK enough questions for now.  I'll leave "Am I Crazy?" for another day ;-)

Feature at Farrago

There's me.  (Weird photo but hey ho.)
This is tonight...

Saturday 8 September 2012

The Poisonwood Bible

I've just finished reading 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver.  It's a book I've been meaning to read for years, and so when I saw it on the second hand book stall by the station, I grabbed it.  It's the first time in a while I've read a book that I didn't want to put down.  It's so thoughtfully and cleverly written.  It's about an American family of four daughters, their mother and their baptist-minister father going to live as missionaries in the Congo in the 1950s.  Each chapter is written from the perspective of each of the four daughters, with retrospective accounts from the mother.  To be honest it's a pretty devastating tale of the pride and mistakes of men, and their consequences. (OK and a whole lot more but you'll have to read the book!)

It's brought up a whole lot of thoughts, memories, questions and feelings.  Partly because of a few similarities between my family (the Pikes) and the family in the book (the Prices).  In 1999 the Pikes - mum, dad, and four daughters (2 of them twins, as with Leah and Adah Price) - left Basingstoke, England, for Mkushi, Zambia.  Actually pretty near to the border with the DRC.  We were also in that place for about 18 months, like the Prices, and our experiences affected us all in different ways.  It was nowhere near as dramatic as in the book, for one we weren't in the jungle living in a rural village, but in the middle of a large farm block living on the campus of a boarding school.  And we weren't there during the country's fight for independence.  Zambia has never gone through a war.  Instead we learnt about the slave trade, colonialism and empire in our history lessons.  As one of just a sprinkling of white people in my class, aged 12, I sat at the back of the room, sinking lower and lower into my chair, wishing I could disappear, wishing my skin was a different colour, unable to express any of this in words that didn't sound empty and pathetic.

That's what reading this book reminded me of.  I still want to better formulate my thoughts, but here is my 'straight off the bat', unedited response:

I wish I’d read this before.  Years and years ago.  Now it’s brought everything back.  The guilt.  The inescapable fact of being white.  The ‘Sins of the Fathers’.  I’m sorry.  Forever sorry.  I carry this on my back but I don’t know if its my burden to carry.  Sometimes I forget, other times it nearly squashes me to the ground.  It is of no use to feel guilty, some say.  What does it achieve except to lock you up, silence you?  Sometimes silence is best, yes.  Be quiet and listen.  Let the children speak, let the mothers speak, let the trees speak, let the ground and the skies speak of what they have seen, of what they have lost. 

Do I carry the guilt to comfort myself?  Is silence a pretence, a wish to disappear, for the ground to swallow me?  Does my guilt simply become another burden for others to suffer?  I don’t know how to be.

Best to forget.  No I don’t think so.  How can someone ever forget being forgotten.  Being abandoned?  Being treated as though their life is worth nothing?  So we should not forget.  Can we at least be unified in remembering?  There are no words.  No comfort I can give.

Will the future be different?  I have not seen it yet.  Will equality ever be a reality?  Revenge solves nothing but I understand.  How do you turn the other cheek when there are no cheeks left to turn?  All of them whipped, burnt, starved to death.  Greed continues.  Corruption continues.  We are the products of our history.  We have a choice to do things differently but the choice is hard to see in the midst of the pain.  The consequences of others gain.

Man has made so many mistakes.  How could we ever unpick this mess?  And so many of these in the name of God.  God who puts the little children at the front of the queue.  God who became nothing in order to save.  God who had dinner with the lowest of society.  How dare you label your actions with His name.  That is the ultimate taking his name in vain.  I don’t care about you swearing, I don’t care about language except for the labels you use for the actions you do.  Blood taints the hands of the church, pride distorts the fervour of missionaries, it wasn’t supposed to be about black and white, wrong and right.  How did you read the stories of grace and mercy as an excuse to impose your Western ways.

Where was the loving people as you love yourself?  Where was the humility, the service? 
I don’t understand.  But then things are always clearer in retrospect.  It could have been me.  It hurts me to say it, and I hope with all my heart that I would have stood against the tide of greedy clutching, superior correcting.  But what do I know?  I could have been there too.  

*I realise that a lot of good has been done by missionaries, and people who follow God, etc.  But right now I'm kind of overwhelmed by the wrongdoing.