Monthly Archives: May 2011

Times they are a changing….

There seems to have been a sudden surge of school reunions in my world of late. Well, I say a surge. Three to be precise, but that’s three more than there have been in any of the other years since the education system and I happily parted company. It dawned on me that perhaps this was due to the impending arrival of 40. The biggie. The really-properly-grown-up-no-kidding-yourself-anymore age.

Forty. It’s supposed to mean something, isn’t it? Like 30 was. Turns out, where some people lock themselves away and sob at that birthday, I actually liked turning thirty. A whole new exciting decade lay ahead and I was determined to make the most of it. Seeing 40 looming I feel the same way. A new decade means time for a shake up. In my 30s I started writing, I went through a whole career in teaching, and then became a full-time writer. I’m expecting MORE from myself in my 40s. A decade of confidence maybe. A return to the ‘fuck it, let’s just give it a go’ attitude of my 20s.

Last week I went to a reunion lunch at the House of Lords (hell yes, my school was THAT posh) and caught up with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. It was fun. We giggled. I drank wine. We giggled some more and reminisced and shared what we knew of other peoples life journeys since we’d snogged/shagged/smoked with them in the various nooks and crannies of The Edinburgh Academy.  The years folded in on themselves. We were the same, but different.

A month ago I went to a reunion at my first boarding school and again caught up with people from half a lifetime ago and looked through their photo albums to times gone by. Again it was fun, but I found I didn’t feel that overwhelming sense of nostalgia that a lot of people had. I didn’t come away with any major desire to keep in touch or see the old place again. I didn’t even go through the routine of kidding myself that I would. That place and those people were the past. A different country. Done.

The excitement is in the future.  The one thing that these trips into the past have made me realise is that I’m pretty happy with my life. I’m excited about the future. Sure, I’d like to lose a couple of pounds and get my house sold, but in the main, things are really good. I’m free from ties and work is taking me in different directions some of which keep me awake with ‘what if…’ style excitement. I get the feeling that change is just around the corner. And I’m a girl that loves change. I like that it scares me slightly. Sometimes a little fear is good.

When I was younger, I thought that ageing would really bother me. I thought I’d be reaching for the Botox or fillers and envying the next generation. I’m surprised and relieved that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Maybe that’s because I’ve done a lot in my time, had my adventures and am embarking on new ones. Getting older brings a confidence that youth, for all its bravery, just doesn’t have. And I’m thinking that 40 is going to be just fabulous. I’m using 39 to make sure that’s the case. Working hard, exercising, trying not to be ‘afraid’ of things any more. After all, life is short, and if you don’t learn to make the most of by the time you hit 40, you probably never will.

I read somewhere that the truly young are those that look forward and never back. I’m keeping that in mind. There’s nothing wrong with a quick sentimental reflection on times gone by, but if you spend more time living in those than you do planning for the future then buy yourself some slippers and be done with it.

We live in a world where we, especially women, are supposed to want to be twenty forever. Really?? My bottom may have been three inches higher then, but that was about all being twenty had going for it. Twenty was crap. Forty, however, forty is going to be just fine. I’m hoping that by then I’ll be living somewhere new and writing more stuff and dating fabulous men. I’m tired of people stressing about their upcoming birthdays. We need to start celebrating our ages, not panicking about them. We’re alive. The world is full of fun and wine and laughter. Enjoy it.

Remember, all those of you that worry about turning 30/40/50. The only alternative to getting older is being dead.

Here Endeth the Lesson/Rant/Hour of work avoidance/mildlyhungoverwaffle. (oh, and in book news The Traitor’s Gate (Silverwood) is out on Thursday, and The Shadow of the Soul will be reviewed in the Saturday Times this week.) x


The lovely people at SouthsideBroadcasting try and get sense out of me…

Why I can’t abide the Dude…

(Disclaimer: This is not a deep meaningful blog. If you’re looking for that, move right along, and come back another day x)

Before I start, let me qualify that I appreciate that The Big Lebowski is a LOT of people’s favourite film. I see it quoted it all the time. People giggle at shared jokes, and laugh at memories of various scenes. There are enough of these people for me to know that it’s probably a good film. A pretty good one. The quality of the film is not the point of this blog. So all you Lebowski lovers – take a deep breath and relax. This is not about  your film. This is about me and the Dude and that is all.

I really wanted to like The Big Lebowski. I REALLY did. I wanted to be part of that jokey gang. I tried watching it. Twice. Both times I dozed off in the middle. This disappointed me. The second time I had tried very hard to stay awake but to no avail. I tried to care about the Dude and the unfortunate series of events that had taken over his life. I didn’t. It was worse than that – I was really irritated by him.

This surprised me. Mainly, because I totally heart Jeff Bridges. To be fair, there is nothing that man couldn’t do to me if he asked nicely. Or not so nicely as it goes. But not as the Dude. Definitely not the Dude. The dude totally made me grit my teeth.  It took me a little while to figure it out, but after quite a bit of mulling I got there.

The dude is everything that confuses me about some people and leaves me cold. I guess in many ways he’s the antithesis of everything I am. Here’s my reasoning….

I can imagine nothing worse that the one exciting series of events in my life coming about because someone mistook me for someone else. I never want to be mistaken for someone else. If there’s two people like me, I want to be the one that people know about.

Things happen to the Dude. He doesn’t MAKE anything happen. So much passivity. Everyone else in that film is running around plotting and scheming but even when he’s in the midst of it, the dude just gets carried along by which ever group is using him at the time. Sure, we all have stuff in our lives that we can’t control, but in the main I can’t understand people that just let life roll over them. I like to make things happen. I like people who make things happen. I like the buzz that comes with the achievement of your goals. The satisfaction of trying to be the best you can be in what you choose. I don’t understand why people would want to just dream their lives away. Get stoned when you’re young. Get serious when you hit 25.

I don’t want the rug. I want the whole fucking house.

Even when exciting things start happening in the Dude’s world, he doesn’t wake up and think – wow – there is some stuff to explore out there and change his ways. He’s happy to go back to getting stoned and going bowling. It’s like none of it touches him.

I know that in many ways I could use being a little more like the dude. A little more chilling and a little less striving might not hurt me. I might even be happier. But I’m never going to think the Dude is cool…He’s way too off the mark for me. When I see the dude I just want to say, ‘Oh get off your fat arse and DO something!’

Just like I say to myself in the mirror every morning!

SP xx