Friday, February 23, 2007

Lent - what's it all about?

Just read an interesting column in the Church Times about the current trend to make an achievement of Lent: it becomes a self-improvement or detox time. The writer, Giles Fraser, discusses how difficult it is, in our success-orientated society, to get away from that kind of mindset and do things simply because they get you off the treadmill for a while, disregarding altogether their 'purpose'.

It's a funny time, Lent. I always find it meaningful and moving but I'm not sure why. Easter is my favourite time of year: that's partly due to increasing hours of daylight. (The best time to start a new job is very early Spring: you begin full of anticipation of approaching summer and have a long wait before autumn term darkness and stress kicks in).

My most striking celebration of Lent was to give up make-up, when I was about 22 and took myself a little too seriously. (Which is not to say the make-up thing didn't do me good....) This year, I've been slightly less ambitious and simply given up reading the free Metro newspaper on the trains. The writing is awful and the content depressing: every other page is about someone stabbing someone or beating them brutally. I'm sure reading it has a negative impact on my day: so I'm trying to read the bible or a good novel instead.

Jon and I have given up alcohol on weekdays - unless abstinence would impact our socialising with others! So maybe we are buying into the 'detox' thing a bit.

I'm also checking out the ship of fools website each day: they have 40 suggested Lenten activities. Ship of Fools is never too pious or earnest, so I have high hopes.

Giles Fraser has also encouraged me to be less 'purpose-driven'.......and I think I'll enjoy that!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"...booked any holidays yet this year?"

So. Yesterday I got my hair cut.

Is it just me, or are hairdressers' mildly stressful places?

First of all, I had to explain what I wanted 'doing'. And I haven't learned hairstyle language. "Make it shorter and tidier" is always my response, illiciting a sweet smile that says: "you are very dull indeed and clearly rather insufficient..."

Then they washed my hair in a basin and I wondered if my neck would ever recover.

At the cutting stage, you have to negotiate the disconcerting extremes of hairdresser behaviour. Some 'stylists' (did you notice that? That's the correct word, that is) talk incessantly and compel me to pretend to be deeply interested in things that, in reality, bore me to tears. Or they ask a barrage of questions, the answers to which confirm their suspicion that I am extremely odd.

Or else they don't speak at all, thus forcing me to gab away asking them questions that are probably equally confusing and uninteresting....

There's also the issue of being offered a drink. Aaargh. Yesterday I was thirsty and requested a squash when the chance arose. But just when are you supposed to take a glug? They place the cup on a table below the mirror in front of you, just out of reach without having to move your head. And they're cutting your hair, so you can't move your head. So the drink sits there, possibly getting cold. Often I just leave it, untouched. Yesterday I gulped the whole thing down while trying to pay. Probably dribbled a bit. But by then their opinion of me was so low that I'm sure it didn't matter.

After the cutting, I was asked what I thought about my new hair. "It's the same but neater" I wanted to say. But this seemed ungrateful. Instead I mumbled, as always, "very nice, thanks". What would happen if I ever hated it, I do not know. Probably "very nice, thanks."

Finally, can someone please tell me if you are supposed to leave a tip? To me, a hair cut seems way too expensive already. But I'm sure I'm not imagining the look of mild hatred and disdain that I'm usually given when I pay the exact amount and no more, waiting for 50p change if necessary?

I don't know.

Don't have to go through it again for a few months, at least.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

lightness of being.....

Looking at snow is a kind of otherworldly experience. It's such a bright white, it's so soft and omnipresent but so temporary. Its reflected light seems to travel through, behind your eyes and under your ribs.

Playing beautiful music makes you want to leave your body and dive into the world where that music really exists, without any interruption or flaw.

A deep snowfall and a moving melody evoke a kind of sensual excitment and longing that has to be something to do with the joys and the yearnings of mortality.....

I walked round the block at 715 this morning in my wellies, I was so excitable about the snow.
And the other day I rediscovered a piece of cello music that, somehow, I had forgotten all about. It is the most haunting piece of cello music I know. I hadn't played it for years. I can't play it very well any more but it was still a privilege to enter into its world again.

Praise God for the little, unexpected, gifts of life.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bridget Jones

Last night Jon agreed to watch some of 'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason' with me. Hurrah!

This was no mean feat. It involved emotional anguish and mental wrestling for both of us: I'm not proud of everything I said and did in order to persuade him. We watched half of the film together, without injury or undue stress, and have taped the second half to watch some other time.I have to concede that two hours of such chicky flickyness isn't good for anyone's health.....

But I do like Bridget. She's the person I'd be if I allowed every silly thought and insecurity to manifest itself fully in my behaviour. The title 'The Edge of Reason' sums up her thought life perfectly. But, then, lots of her political views are spot on.

I can sense some concern among you, dear readers. Never fear, though, Jon is doing ok. We watched an episode of Angel afterwards, to re-establish his equilibrium before bed.