Wednesday 30 January 2013

Do you remember that time when we held hands?

Do you remember that time when we got up before sunrise and heaved on our full-to-bursting back packs, smelling of damp nights, leaked purple meths and bonfires. That time when we clambered up into the open back of the Bedford truck, passing up bags and tents and old mattresses.  And I think some of my expedition group had overslept so someone had to creep into the Junior Boys’ hostel and wake them up?

Do you remember that the dawn air was freezing cold as it rushed past our ears.   So, we unpacked sleeping bags and huddled up close in an attempt to soak up each other’s body heat.  And do you remember, that in the midst of the pile of teenage bodies, attempting to catch some sleep before their adventuring, that our hands found each other?  I know one of us was wearing gloves but I don’t remember who.  All I know is that all of a sudden we were holding hands and I’d never held hands with a boy before.  And it wasn’t even like we fancied each other or anything.  But it did feel nice and we stayed that way for the rest of the journey as the truck headed north-west, further into the Zambian bush.  

The funny thing was how neither of us ever mentioned it, like it never happened.

Monday 28 January 2013

Sunday photos

Time for some photos me thinks... these from a mini excursion on Sunday in search of a BIG breakfast...

The wind is in my tassles
wild waves

Shoreham-by-sea to Seven Sisters

even two sunshines don't stop our mouldy car smelling

Friday 25 January 2013

Third and Last First Kiss

I'd been to Heathrow to meet a crowd of Japanese girls and escort them to Brighton.  I watched tearful reunions and tried to guess people's nationality as I waited with my sign.  And I thought about you.  About how, last week, you'd told me you liked me after we'd somehow ended up holding hands at your house while we attempted to watch 'Slumdog Millionaire'.  And how I was terrified and totally chilled all at the same time.

Sunday evening - we went for a walk.  Brighton beach, our favourite place.  First date place.  First swim in the sea and BBQ place.  We walked from Brighton to Hove and stood Titanic style on a groyne.  And my jeans got wet when I paddled in the sea but I didn't want to roll them up because I hadn't shaved my legs.

The sun sank and with it, the temperature.  So of course we had to huddle up very close on the stones.  And you whipped out the 'magic blanket' - blue and uh 'borrowed' from Worthing Hospital (we haven't returned it yet...).  And you wrapped it around our shoulders as we sipped on cans of heineken and you smoked too much.

And then I felt your head tucked in between my cheek and my shoulder, ever so subtly turning my cheek toward yours.

And I told myself not until we're 'officially' going out and I told myself to save my kisses and I  told myself I don't want to give more away to men who won't finish the race with me

And I told myself what-the-hell-this-boy-is-too-cute-and-I've-been-waiting-for-this-for-ages (it must have been the magic blanket)

And I turned my face to yours

And it was the best kiss ever.  No lie.

And I never believed it when people said it but after that I literally floated all the way home.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men

I've been listening to Of Monsters and Men lots recently.  I particularly like the song, 'Little Talks', which you can watch below.  I've also included the lyrics.   Even if it's not exactly the intention of the song, it makes me think of the way we so often listen to lies and think that we cannot go on.  This is what often happens to me when I'm feeling down.  That's when I need someone else telling me not to listen to those voices, to help me see things from another perspective...

I don't like walking around this old and empty house.
So hold my hand, I'll walk with you my dear

The stairs creak as I sleep, 
it's keeping me awake
It's the house telling you to close your eyes

Some days I can't even dress myself.
It's killing me to see you this way.

'Cause though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.

Hey! Hey! Hey!

There's an old voice in my head 
that's holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks.

Soon it will all be over, buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young
and full of life and full of love.

Some days I feel like I'm wrong when I am right.
Your mind is playing tricks on you my dear.

'Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

Don't listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same.

Though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

You're gone, gone, gone away, 
I watched you disappear.
All that's left is a ghost of you.
Now we're torn, torn, torn apart, 
there's nothing we can do,
Just let me go, we'll meet again soon.

Now wait, wait, wait for me, please hang around
I'll see you when I fall asleep.

Don't listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same.

Though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

Don't listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same.

Though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore (x3)

Thursday 17 January 2013

last night with the pebbles

last night we went down to the beach.

the moon is just a slither but present enough to be reflected on the surface of the water and the small, breaking waves.  the low tide reveals a broad stretch of pebbles spread out before us, providing a refuge from the city lights and noise.  candles are lit, pinpricks in the dark like the stars above them.  the scent of roses and cigarettes wafts upward and around two brothers and their wives, huddling together in the icy air. a picture of a beautiful young woman is set carefully amongst the candles, radiating warmth. we remember her. they remember for me, because i never got the chance to know.  her smile, her kindness, her love and care. we remember her. we celebrate the difference her life made.  we don't dwell on the horror of the ending but talk of birthday calls and bags of smarties and an infectious grin. we mourn our loss.  the loss of a big sister. we drink whisky and we read poems and words

...God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away...

and we tell God we hurt and we're angry and we don't understand and say please please be with the little ones left without a mother. there are some tears. there's been a lot already.  there are still more to come. and it will all take time...

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

we light chinese lanterns and watch them float upward, join the stars and disappear.
we say goodbye.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Brighton fading?

Yesterday was one of those grey days.  (This time) I mean literally.  The sky was grey, the sea was grey, the air itself seemed grey, draping itself over the city.  And, as I sat on the bus in the morning, lots of the buildings and lots of the people seemed grey too.  I know I've talked and poem-ed about Brighton's paradoxes and contrasts before.  It just seemed to be a particularly sad place yesterday.

And it wasn't just me who noticed.  I spent yesterday with Alice, a friend's mother who is suffering from quite severe dementia and now requires constant companionship/care because her short term memory is so limited.  We went into town via London Road and Alice commented every time we passed an empty shop.  Which makes you realise just how many shops on that trajectory from Beaconsfield Road to the City Centre have been closed up and left empty.  Boarded up, graffiti'ed upon, spilling over with rubbish, apologetic notes to customers taped to windows.  The building we used to rent and run as a Community Centre is now home to squatters (perhaps that's better than it being totally unused?) and the old-BlockBusters below it has been empty for over a year.  Meanwhile new buildings and office blocks seem to be constantly being squeezed into already crowded areas.

What's going on?  From the looks of things, much of this 'vibrant' city is in decline.  Or, it's OK if you have plenty of money, but for those running small businesses, it's clearly not an easy place to operate.  I guess it's not as if we have a shortage of shops, cafes, etc, and the contents of most people's wallets is definitely lower than in the past, so it's not surprising that only the 'fittest' are surviving.  Too bad that the 'fittest' are betting shops, £1 stores, and mainstream supermarkets.   And sometimes pubs, although I know a lot of local pubs are shutting down too.  Meaning... even less establishments that contribute to a sense of community or ownership.  How bad does it have to get before things change?  How much more will the divisions in our city increase?  As those who are struggling most have less and less access to local resources.   Think Whitehawk and Moulsecoombe.  Cut off from the rest of the city by extortionate bus prices and the only shops you'll find are again, betting shops, and expensive newsagents.  Perhaps I'm exaggerating and I am only speaking from my own observations but it seems to be pretty unjust to me.

No wonder as we wandered past the Pavillion and the bustling South Laine and out along the Pier Alice muttered, 'it's too much'.  I agree.  On one hand too much excess, too many 'pretty things' on sale in shop windows, too many lights and noises and posters and invitations to spendspendspend on superficial things.  On the other hand, too much hunger, too much homelessness, too many forgotten ones, too many endings.  EMPTY.  On both hands, what I sensed in Brighton yesterday was EMPTINESS.

And I know there is more than meets the eye.  I know there are people filling this city with compassion and campaigning and creativity.  I know there is laughter and love and long-term relationships with partners, people and places.  But I think there's still quite a lot to be filled.  And I wonder when and I wonder how and I wonder who.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

"I Will Wait" - Mumford & Sons

Well I came home like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust, which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun

And I'll kneel down, wait for now
And I'll kneel down know my ground

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So break my step, and relent
Well you forgave, and I won't forget
Know what we've seen and him with less
Now in some way shake the excess

But I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Now I'll be bold as well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh and fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies

But I'll kneel down, wait for now
I'll kneel down know my ground

Raise my hands, paint my spirit gold
Bow my head, keep my heart slow

'Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Katrina's thoughts whilst swimming.

I've enjoyed, and been good at, swimming for most of my life.  Until the age of 16 I trained several times a week and competed at swimming galas.  I even represented Zambia three times at national swimming meets (yeh...don't get too wowed... not many people swim in Zambia!!).  A lot of people find swimming up and down boring, but I think there's something kind of therapeutic about it, and for me it's a form of exercise I can do steadily for a long period of time (unlike running!).  I'm not gonna lie though, more than swimming up and down, I love to play in water.  It's the only place I feel graceful.  Once I'm IN the water, I forget that I'm basically half naked and stop caring about the wobbly bits.  Most of my favourite memories revolve around being in water - playing stuck in the mud all afternoon on weekends at school in Zambia in the outdoor pool, swimming amongst fish in Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika, spending hours in the sea at West Wittering, surfing in Cornwall, playing in rivers in Brazil and in Bolivia.

Over the past ten years or so I've swam nowhere near as much, sadly.  Going to the pool on your own isn't quite the same as being part of a team training together.  I've not got the motivation to maintain my speed.  Study and employment kinda took over exercise, which has generally only expressed itself in cycling and attempts at dancing.  Which are two things I also love, so it's not all bad news, but whenever I do swim I realise how much I miss it.

So.  What I'm getting to is, I went swimming yesterday.  At the gym.  And these are the thoughts that flow through my mind whilst I'm in the water.  Because I know you're desperate to find out.  Yeh, OK slightly random blogpost, but I cannot write about the other things going on in our lives right now because they are too big and too sad and there are no words.  So you get swimming instead.  Lucky you!

Monday was the WRONG day to come...stupid website not telling me about the 'aqua-robics class' taking place at 6 o' clock, leaving only one lane for swimming...oh and great there's the slowest, most awkward looking breast-stroker plodding along in the this one lane (although all respect to her, she just kept going and going and going!)...ew the water is pretty cloudy today - won't think about that too much and it's kinda a relief because it means whoever's swimming behind me can't see every detail of my rear... doh my goggles are leaking... why after 26 years have I still not figured how to wear goggles properly?!...but my eyes sting without that because people have been pee-ing in the water?  please can everyone just get out the pool and leave me in peace, I came here to escape from everything and get some I'll just swim underwater and pretend no one else is around...I am a fish!  I can swim a whole length underwater if I swim real slow...oops and then nearly crash into the guy who never realised I was there...I don't think I'll risk backstroke today as even though I love it, I still cannot swim straight...and my breaststroke still sucks after all these front crawl it is and I'll imagine I am still a fast swimmer even thought I know that's not the technique's not bad...make it streamlined like a ferrari said Murray my swimming teacher when I was 10...although I probably am the fastest swimmer in the pool right now and I will keep on going until the others give up and go home...ooh awkward tumble turn from the guy in front...maybe I'll become a swimming teacher one day...let's see if I can still do a turn...ah YESS, sweet, hope the whole world didn't see my butt peep out the water...there's three lanes now but some people don't seem to have read the signs properly, I see frustrated swimmers caught behind that same lady who's in the medium speed instead of the slow lane...always the case...time for another length underwater...not sure I can get away with practicing my dolphin dives though...not today anyways...

Wednesday 2 January 2013


Two-thousand and twelve is over.  I think it would be nice if we could have a little bit of time in-between years, just a moment to be able to pause and reflect.  Instead it's often a bit of a strange over-rated night of celebrating and awkward cheers and too much alcohol and suddenly it's time to change the calendar on the wall.

The past year was all a bit of a blur.  The first half was mainly a grey, teary blur and the second largely a busy-working-three-jobs blur.  The second half was most definitely better... the factors inducing change were predominantly a timely trip to Cornwall and anti-depressants!

There's also been a lot of change.  I've changed jobs, moved flats to share with a friend (as well as hubby of course!), our church has moved, my parents moved from Oxfordshire (after 10 years) to Shropshire, we've acquired a car, my younger sister has turned 21... And soon, in 3 months time, comes the biggest change of all so far for me and Mr Q: we shall be moving to Cornwall!  I can't say how good it is to start a year with something to look forward to.  An adventure!  And the unknowns are pretty exciting, actually.

Llewellyn asked me what the best things about 2012 have been.  Apart from our trip to Cornwall, what I've loved in the past few months is all the friends that have visited and stayed on our sofa and sat in our living room.  And, everyday I am thankful that I have a friend to walk through all the ups and downs with.  Thank you Mr Q.

And Jesus, He's pretty awesome too :-)