Monday, 23 December 2013

The truth about 'Lonely this Christmas'

It was by Mud, not Elvis.

It wasn't a cover version of an Elvis song. It was written by Chinn & Chapman, purveyors of brilliant glam rock to teenyboppers.

Elvis never sang it. Honestly.

That's it.

Oh, yes, and it's one of my favourite Christmas singles ever.

Merry Christmas, everyone, wherever you are.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Life after life

It's that time when you get those 'books of the year' articles in the papers, and it's reminded me about  Kate Atkinson's Life after Life.

I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson, but when I first read the book I wasn't sure what to make of it. Now, though, I'm starting to get it. It's stayed on my mind, and it's chimed with so much else I've been pondering on.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The present is a foreign country

'The past is a foreign country' is a) one of the best first lines of a book ever, b) a bit of a cliché.

But it feels to me much more nowadays that it is the present that is a foreign country.

Yes, they do things differently there. Much of the time, I feel like a stranger. I just don't understand the habits and conventions of daily life any more.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

When did you ever see ‘wisdom’ on a job description?

This time next week I will be unemployed, or workless as our politicians like to say. It’ll be the second time this year I have left a job and both times I was glad to do so. The first time was redundancy after several years in the same place, some good, some bad, so I left with mixed feelings. It felt very much like a divorce. The job I’ve been doing for the last six months was only ever supposed to be temporary. It feels like the rebound relationship that you know all along is not going to last.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Showing the sunlight outside: why I will always love reading

Little Women book cover
There was a nice piece by Neil Gaiman in the Guardian this week about why reading is a Good Thing for children, and the rest of us. It ought to be obvious, but it obviously isn’t because there was a lot there that needed saying: about the importance of imagination and information, the value of culture and wisdom. And about fiction that opens a door and ‘shows the sunlight outside’. 

It reminded me to feel grateful for the gift of literacy. It’s easy to take for granted, but I can’t imagine life without it.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Why job interviews are a waste of time (and interviewers are a waste of space)

The stupidest question I was ever asked in a job interview was ‘What do you expect to be doing in five years’ time?’ I know it’s a standard HR-type question. But the interview was for a temporary job.

The weirdest thing said to me in a job interview was ‘We don’t employ people with punk rock haircuts here.’ This was in the early 80s when, like most young women at the time, I had short spiky hair. I should have walked out then but I smiled politely, finished the interview, went home and waited for the rejection letter.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Glastonbury festival? Life’s too short

Nick Cave at Glastonbury 2013 (BBC screen shot). There was something I liked after all.
I thought I might spend the weekend slagging off Glastonbury. But then I remembered I had a life.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Case Histories soundtrack - series 2

There are a  lot of things I like about Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books. I love the way she writes about the sad important things: life and death  and family and loss (subjects made for a country music soundtrack). I love that in Started Early, Took My Dog Jackson has turned 50. Listen to this: "His definition of elderly had changed as he himself had moved nearer to the event horizon of death." What an absolutely brilliant metaphor.

And I love the way she tells you what music Jackson is listening to.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and why you don’t need to learn poetry

I don’t want this to become one of those inspirational-type blogs because that would really blow my cool. And my carefully cultivated ageing cynic routine.

But I got my life back this year (after being made redundant) and I’m taking more care of it now.  One of the ways is remembering to recognise the small, good things. (And if that sounds inspirational, go away and read A Small Good Thing by Raymond Carver, who is a pretty cool cynical kind of guy and who wrote a story that will make you cry.)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Enterprise, energy and anger

Two months ago I started a course called Preparing to Run Your Own Business. Or, as I like to tell it, ‘I’m doing a business start-up course’. Because start-ups are hip (hey, they’re what young people do), and being trained to be a ‘senior entrepreneur’ is not.

Monday, 18 February 2013

George Orwell and the commodification of consumers

We're all supposed to be quoting George Orwell these days so here goes.

Facebook: 'How are you doing?'
Sainsbury's checkout person: 'How's it going?'

You can look from machine to man, and back again, and it's becoming impossible to say which is which.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

What are you going to do when you grow up?

I blogged a while ago on good things about being over 50.  I recently found another one.

Everyone's heard of the Prince's Trust. Hardly anyone's heard of the Prince's Initiative, aka the Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise aka PRIME. Yes, I think it's one of those things where they chose the acronym first and then worked backwards.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Armchair anger is not enough

One evening last week, I was on Twitter making small talk with some friends, having a laugh, trying to wind down after a hard day at work.

Then someone I follow decided to spend the evening inviting people to share experiences of poverty, and retweeting them. This appeared to find approval among a lot of people, who made comments such as 'This is what Twitter is for'.

I unfollowed him.