Archive for April 27th, 2009

Learning Lessons

April 27, 2009

Sometimes belly dancers look like they might work in a library.

I learned that last week.

And tried not to let my jaw drop.

And structural engineers like dainty little ballet dancers.

I learned that too. (And felt mildly foolish for my solicitous encouraging of her project – “Oh well done!” – which, on hindsight, must have sounded maternal and patronizing).

Life’s a melting pot of unexpectedness and myriad colour.

Like the kiln – as big as a bed and blue – which rested solidly in the corner of the studio where we worked. Cold cutting glass emerged mellow and warm. Sharp corners smoothed to invitingly voluptuous-glossy roundness. Bold colours fused softly-hued: blues and silvers and greens. Blood reds and rose pinks. Hot oranges and balmy yellows.


I was anxious before I went.

Can I do this? I fretted: learn something new? Is it even the right thing to be learning? For me? Now? At this stage in my life? What if I hate it? Prove incompetent in the face of creativity? Is it self-indulgent? A waste of time and money?

When you’re a metaphorical million miles away from the reality, ideas frequently seem blindingly brilliant. Up, close and personal and when your vision’s cleared and you’re on a train bound for Crewe and that reality is hastening towards you at the speed of light (or at least an intercity East Midlands train), your confidence evaporates.

In the end, though, the apprehension was unfounded.

Because I did learn. Not just that belly dancers can look like librarians and structural engineers like ballerinas. I learnt how to cut silver, mould clay, fuse glass, string beads, set a tiny olive coloured stone into the metal heart I had created so that when I polished it and watched with satisfaction and a spreading child’s smile as the mirror-shine evolved, the tiny gem winked encouragingly.

But I learned something else too. Something much more important.

I discovered that, despite the nerves and the intervening years between my last classroom experience and this one, despite a careworn self-assurance and the worried grappling to clutch at lifesaving (and certainly sanity preserving) straws, despite an innate shyness exacerbated by Outpost living, some bolder part of me was given the opportunity to unfold.

I surprised myself. I laughed a lot and loudly, asked endless questions, made dozens of mistakes and enjoyed every one. And some latent self confidence bubbled to the fore. Because I could do it: I could learn to do something new.

Which just goes to show: you really can pluck a quite different recipe and garner the necessary and make new jam.

There is something deeply, deeply satisfying in knowing that.








Time is going too quickly.

Spring is racing towards summer. Carelessly, heedlessly.

Mum says there is more blossom than she remembers this time last year; that much of it is premature.

That shouldn’t be out until at least June! She exclaims, gesturing a tumbling violet.

The dandelion (dent de lion, lion’s teeth, I learned that last week too) clocks have quickened. Yellow flowers giving way to feathery heads so that Hat already knows she’ll be married in the afternoon: at three.


The rape has tossed bright picnic rugs across green fields.


This time last year Mum was steeped in black gloom. No amount of blue sky and sunshine and quick-breathed Spring gusts could blow densely gathered greyly-sagging cobwebs away.

This year is different. This year she is well.


I don’t know if that’s because the sky is bluer and the sun brighter.

Or whether they are bluer, brighter because she is well.

It does not matter.

All that matters is that Depression is not darkening her quick-approaching summer horizons.