It’s been two and a half years since I was made redundant. During that time I have had some fun times, caught up with several long lost friends, made and nutured new ones and been supported financially by my husband and a small pension. I’ve always written, sometimes sporadically but it’s always been in the back of my mind that it was my life’s ambition to be published. I took every opportunity to write – letters, emails, blogging, the work magazine and so on. I even wrote for our residents association, for the website and the newsletters. But now it is really happening. I was asked by a publisher to write a self help book on managing back pain a few months ago, and I am so happy to report that it should be being published in February 2013. What’s more, I’ve been asked to write more, and since my initial reaction to the request, of ‘How do I follow that?’, a few hours writing and chatting with friends on the phone and on facebook I have around four more ideas to develop. I am still in shock, I won’t quite believe it until I see the finished book and the first royalties have been paid! I dithered over changing my social media profile to ‘writer’ for weeks. But I guess this means I am.
So, why do we choose to express ourselves in this way? Why not just talk to people? Sometimes, it’s hard to express ourselves verbally. I’ve always found it so much easier to say what I want to say on a piece of paper, than stand up and talk in front of people, especially those I don’t know. These things are supposed to get easier as we get older aren’t they? Not in my experience – I find myself still searching for the perfect word, only to come out with ‘thingummy bob’ or ‘watchamacallit’ or ‘you know…’ – except I don’t know, not at that precise moment in time. If I am at a keyboard though, or have a pen or pencil in my hand, the words flow effortlessly from its tip, my voice is transformed into a clickety-click of the computer keyboard or pleasing scratch of pen on paper. Writing is definitely cathartic in nature. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with a dilemma, problem, or tangled thoughts. Five minutes ago I was worrying about family, friends, studying, my new book project – friends and family are at work or unavailable so there’s no-one to talk to. Now I am calmer, the writing has reasoned my mind. A writers life can be a lonely one – I am calling myself that now, as a book project is imminent, just waiting for the contract to come through. All I seem to do is write – Facebook rants, condensed Twitter thoughts, blog posts, academic notes, essays, and now the text of a book I’ve been asked to write. I’m even driven to poetry and short stories when the mood takes me and time and inspiration allows.
I was blessed with a love for the written word, nurtured by my Mum taking me to the library every week, my fantastic teachers at infant & junior school, and find myself with an almost obsessive regard for correct spelling and grammar, for which my friends tolerate (well, mostly) this little foible of mine!
But I am also a sociable person (selectively sociable, according to a recent psychometric test) so I need to make sure I balance the two things. This week will be difficult – my mum is poorly at home and it’s difficult for me to get over to see her, Pete is away on business much of the week, so I’m reconciling this to be a lonely but hopefully rewarding ‘writing week’, and with the rain teeming down outside as Summer comes to an abrupt and chilly halt, who wants to go out anyway? It’s over-rated sometimes.
Happy reading and writing everyone!
Well, the recovery begins here. After a fortnight of being high on adrenaline, wrung out with salty tears, and a body clock shot to pieces, Monday morning arrives. I rescued Pete in a contorted state from the sofa at around 4am this morning, he still lies sleeping. As I a mope around the flat, I see our union jack flag still hanging victoriously in the window, the lanyard full of pins lies on the floor and various other memorabilia are strewn around the living room.
Turning on the TV quietly, I flick through the strangely silent red button channels, still echoing to the sounds of Elbow’s Olympic tune, thanking us for watching. The news channels provide us with varying degrees of euphoric and prophesising summaries of the last fifteen days.
Will the feelgood factor last? It’s up to us as individuals, we no longer have the collective banner that is Team GB success or gamesmaker uniforms to make our public face smile. Commuters will return to the hurly burly, hangovers will fade, and resolutions will be made.
Me? Well I’m looking forward to what many consider to be true feats of effort and endurance, the Paralympic Games which begin on 29th August. Let’s see if we can continue this party a little longer!
Well, the last day is upon us. We are both feeling a mix of emotions – pride, joy, a buzz that is like being a child at Christmas, but also a sense of impending bereavement. Seven long years ago, when it was announced that London would be the host of the 2012 games I felt similar emotions. But not on this scale. The Christmas present has been more enormous, impossible and beautiful than I could ever had imagined. From the first gold medal won by rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, to the unstoppable Mo Farah’s double gold for the 5000 & 1000m – there has hardly been a day pass without there being something to celebrate. The rush of adrenaline is contagious, even the pain in my back seems to have paled in the last fortnight, despite it having been virtually glued to the sofa or stuck to an uncomfortable seat in one of the arenas in the Olympic park. I find myself talking to strangers about it, and am bitterly disappointed when they don’t share my own unbounded enthusiasm. What is wrong with them? Even the most cynical of our friends seem to have caught the bug. Those who haven’t, have become social pariahs. I feel for them. This big Olympic hug has cured my cold in record time (four days) and eased the pain in my back. Just think what it could do for you.
I am also incredibly proud of my Gamesmaker husband. So many early mornings, very, very late nights – we are both running on coffee and adrenaline. He has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion by complete strangers, swapping stories, pins and experiences has been life changing for him I think. To give up your time for so many hours, for nothing other than the personal satisfaction volunteering can give you. I think he was inspired by his late father – who, after being made redundant in his early sixties devoted the rest of his life to fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support.
But it’s not over. On August 29th there begins the story of true heroism in sport – The 2012 Paralympic Games. The BBC advert has already had me in tears. Already the organisers have told us they have sold around 2.5 million tickets, outselling Beijing’s 150,000. So, let’s carry on the feelgood factor long into the Autumn, and dark winter nights, and remember these few inspiring weeks. Tell David Cameron that the ‘big society’ he keeps harping on about has been in action long before he or his spin doctors dreamt up the phrase.
Our weekend of Olympics, was exciting, tiring, exhilarating, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Way back in 2000, we were lucky enough to travel to Australia for the Sydney games. We were both struck by how much difference the volunteers made to the games, their enthusiasm was infectious and made the long journey back from Sydney to our base in Windsor, NSW each day more bearable. We vowed then to get involved if the games ever came to Great Britain.
As soon as London 2012 was announced, I had no doubt it would be a success. We signed up to become volunteers and waited. Although I got an interview, I wasn’t chosen (given the state of my back at the moment, a blessing in disguise). Pete was luckier, his dream came true and he’s having the time of his life as a gamesmaker. We applied for tickets and got them in the second ballot. Ladies basketball and handball and men’s hockey. The basketball was a truly ‘American’ event, but lots of fun, with imaginative entertainment during the breaks. Handball – legalised violence without the histrionics usually prompted by the presence of too much testosterone in men’s sport! The beautiful blue and pink hockey pitch at the Riverbank arena was matched by a clear blue sky and pink sunset. On Saturday, after a few drinks and much online perserverance we obtained the ‘hot ticket’ of the games – for a price – the Sunday evening athletics session which included the mens 100m final. Just as we shouldn’t doubt our country’s ability to put on a big occasion, we needn’t have doubted Usain Bolt. Gone in under 10 seconds, the freak of nature won convincingly. Even more delightful, was the discovery of the lady behind us, Christine Ohuruogu’s mum, sobbing with delight at her daughter’s silver medal in the women’s 400m. Priceless moments like this are occurring all over the Olympic park and other venues. These things can’t be seen on television, and we’ll hold them in our hearts forever.
I feel so sorry for those who said ‘I don’t like sports’ or ‘we’ll get a better view on the telly’ and are now frustrated by the non-availablity of the tickets. Never under estimate the power of the big event, especially one which has lifted the spirits of a country in the doldrums, experiencing one of the biggest and longest economic depressions in history.
So, it was worth the money, the pain, and the lack of sleep this weekend. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Whew!! It’s been an exhausting few days! I have been on an emotional high, and on a strange drug called adrenaline since last Wednesday when we went to the technical rehearsal of the opening ceremony. We re-lived it on Friday night with a few bottles of something sparkly, and were wowed again by the brilliance of Danny Boyle and the amazing cast. The surprises was exactly that - eccentric, hilarious and very clever.
Then the games began ‘proper’ and so began my own marathon, which boomeranged between the remote control and the 24 channels available on the BBC’s red button. Nothing got done, the flat is a bit of a tip, my 4000 word essay on Paradise Lost is not getting written, dinners are sporadic and hap hazard, leftovers and snacks are the order of the day.
I have never been what you call a die-hard sports fan. I love athletics, hockey, cricket – and tolerate most other sports that the old man flicks between on the telly. The standing joke in our house is ‘he’ll watch anything with a ball in it’. I used to play badminton, occasionally volleyball, ten-pin bowling. That was it. My body was designed for comfort, not speed.
The truth is, I’ve always been a little jealous of those fit and able enough to play lots of sport. I have witnessed what it can do for people, it goes beyond just fitness, the bonds you have socially with people can last a lifetime, and it gives you confidence and many other life skills.
To see the magnificent efforts of our fantastic ‘Team GB’ athletes is inspiring. To get into a sport, you don’t have to necessarily be a sports fan – it is so easy to get caught up in the atmosphere being created by the audiences at each venue, which has proved truly contagious. I have several ‘non sports fan’ friends who have admitted that they have been drawn in by the games. Which is great, as those athletes are doing it for all of us.
So, as we come to the end of day 5, I realise that I might just have to turn the TV off tomorrow, which will be painful, a bit like coming off something a little bit illegal. Then again, I might just ask for an extension for the essay, and sod the housework for one more day….