I’ve recently had the privilege of putting together a guest post for fellow blogger, and excellent human being, Annmarie Miles. It’s not really bleak, as the title may suggest, more reflective. An apt thought for the New Year, perhaps? Feel free to follow the link if you are in the mood to muse. Thanks.
Hello you lovely people. How are you doing? Did you get trampled in the rush of consumerism that is Black Friday. I hope not. I hope you have remained safely unsquished and kept hold of your hard earned cash. You have? That’s good. Very good.
Because I have a Christmas SALE!
Sorry. Don’t know what happened there. Got all shouty. Try again.
I have A CHRISTMAS sale.
Hmm. Not much better.
Look. I’ll just say this. My little chapbook, Taking Flight, which expert reviewer Steph Warren of ‘Bookshine and Readbows’ says would make a good stocking filler, is going for £2 plus P&P from now until Christmas (please allow time for delivery). Email me on DithParity@gmail.com to order a copy.
I’m off now to gargle salt water. All that shouting hurts…
Recently, I did something which caused me some anxiety. It would go so far as to say it scared me, at least a little. I have done something else recently, an second act, which caused me no more anxiety than the first, in fact a great deal less on balance. I enjoyed the latter experience, the former brought me no joy.
For the first thing, which caused anxiety, no-one gave me any credit. For the second, which was fun, people said well done.
That’s one of the odd aspects of fear. It can often be very personal.
The second thing was an abseil, which I carried out for charity. According to an email I received afterwards, thanking me and my fellow abseilers for our time and efforts, not many people do this kind of thing. Perhaps this is what makes an exhilarating stunt like this something to be admired. Not many people do it.
The first thing was leaving the house and going to the shop. Facing the outside world. Lots of people do this, day after day. So why would anyone think to congratulate someone for something so mundane? I will tell you why – it is all down to that which makes a person afraid.
Many people called me ‘brave’ for lowering myself from Newport Transporter Bridge on a piece of rope. Whilst it was certainly far from unpleasant to be congratulated, I maintain that it required precious little bravery on my part. In order to have been brave, I would have needed to have been scared in the first place, and to have overcome that fear. As it was, I was a little apprehensive, but my overarching feeling was that of excitement and – eventually – of accomplishment. I wanted to do it again.
Some days, I don’t want to leave the house. It causes me anxiety to do so. I do it because I have to but, given the choice, there are times when I would prefer to avoid interaction with anyone but my nearest and dearest altogether. But we don’t get that option in this life. We have to get on with stuff. So we do. I do.
I think the times when I get up, get dressed, do the daily stuff despite the knots in my stomach and the heaviness in my soul, that is when I am truly brave. And I am not the only one. But it seems no-one would think to say ‘well done’ to someone for doing this. Perhaps we should.
(In choosing to publish this blog post, I am acting in the face of one of my biggest fears, that of judgement and rejection. I am doing it however because I hope it may help others. If I succeed in bringing some encouragement, then this particular act of bravery – whilst not as much fun as an abseil – will certainly have been worth it.)
It would appear that I told you about the chapbook being placed in shops, before I actually told you about the book! Well, let me redress that.
“Taking Flight”, published by Sampson Low is my first anthology, consisting chiefly of verses created during my creative writing studies. Many of the pictures in this book were also produced during times of work and study, where drawing them helped me concentrate on the content of the meeting/class etc . Honest! I hope that the resultant combination of words and doodles is a quirky, thought-provoking collection that people will enjoy.
You may buy this book directly from me for £4.99 incl. P&P by emailing DithParity@gmail.com. I will even sign it for you if you wish.
Update: From now until Saturday 6th October, 25% of profits from every sale will be donated to St. David’s Hospice Care. The reason for this is the excellent support they gave my father-in-law last year. (The date also marks the day on which I shall be doing a sponsored abseil, with butterfly wings. As you do… ) https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/abseilingdith
Published July 2018
16 printed pages
Print run of 100
Once again, I am making you wait for the next installment of “What I did. . .” I will add it soon, honest.
In the meantime, I wish to tell you that my new chapbook, “Taking Flight” is now appearing in bookshops in my local area. The first of these is the aptly named “Uttoxeter Shop” which unsurprisingly is in Uttoxeter. I visited there today and spoke with very obliging lady who agreed to place a few of my books by the till. If you are in the local area, why not drop by and purchase one, supporting a local business and a freelance writer at the same time. Plus, you get yourself a copy of my poems and doodles. Win-win and indeed Win!
Here continues the tale of what I did on the weekend of the Coda festival in July.
As some of you may remember, we left my Hop4Hope interactive display in a state of semi-completion in the reflective tent on Friday evening, it having previously embarked upon an unplanned and disruptive meander around this venue. Come Saturday morning – after the free breakfast – I dismantled the display and reconstructed it in the Hub tent, narrowly seeing off a last minute pretender to its new location.
Once in its new – and final – site, the installation invited people to ponder ‘hope’ in connection with concepts of inspiration and deflation, using the space-hopper to help visualise this. The friendly orange orb also provided a surface on which people could write their replies to the questions: “What brings you hop(e)?” and “How can you bring hop(e) to others?”. These replies were to be collected and incorporated into my 5pm presentation in the Words tent.
Around mid-afternoon, the Supportive Husband turned up with an answer to some of my own hopes, bearing boots for the near-saturated feet of his forgetful wife. He and I then dropped in on an intriguing, tech-based reflection led by DJ Andy Hunter and followed this by attending an introduction to a fascinating range of ancient instruments delivered by Nigel Mason. Our tastes are nothing if not broad ranging. We also entertained ourselves by watching the young – and not so young – people who were evidently enjoying the space-hoppers now bouncing around site.
Eventually the time came for me to prepare for my evening presentation. Space-hopper? Check. Daft hat? Check. Even dafter t-shirt? Check. Well, if I wasn’t ready now I never would be. What followed was a brief one woman show entitled “The Space Hopper is my Spirit Animal: Perks and perils of being full of hot air, larger than life and frequently deflated.” It provided an insight into my own journey from hopelessness to hope, and seemed to strike a chord with the audience – including those who were good enough to ‘volunteer’ to participate. Thank you (you know who you are!)
Once the performance was successfully completed, I was able to relax. After bidding farewell to my flying-visit-making Supportive Husband, I went on to appreciate offerings from the various talented contributors to this brand new mini-festival. The evening culminated in the Mass Jam in the Hub tent, a raucous, joyful collection of skilled instrumentalists and singers. The whole thing came to a close on a high note – both literally and metaphorically – with an impromptu rendition of Amazing Grace that threatened to take the roof off the tent. What a day!
Day 2 of 3 of “What I did…” is coming soon. In the meantime, here is a little something inspired by a recent visit to my folks in Dorset. Hope you like it.