Sunday, 22 June 2008

A Tag...

I’ve been tagged by Akasha Savage over at Aspirations from the Darkside. Quite a restful post to put together on a Sunday evening…

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Working as assistant to the fundraiser at a local charity for homeless people. Writing a novel about a homeless girl who accuses a vicar of paying her for sex. Meeting my sons – then aged eight and six - from school every day and playing a lot of football with them. Those were the days when I could actually keep up with them when playing sport…. sigh….

Five things on my 'to-do' list for today.
When I worked for the NHS, I was obliged to keep a ‘to do’ list which my manager was entitled to see at any given moment. Suffice it to say that I have never kept such a list since.
I do, however have a Don’t Forget whiteboard in my kitchen which has things on it like ‘Ben birthday’ ‘ring C’ ‘car Friday’ and so forth. This is just to remind me of the things which I cannot afford to forget without a) losing money b) losing friends c) losing my mind.

What I would do if I were a billionaire.
Give all but a million of it away. I feel that I could use a million constructively without ruining my life or anybody else’s. And I wouldn’t have any of that ‘set up a charitable trust’ thing. Too much decision-making and letters and stuff. Just make some decisions, give it away. In big chunks so it might actually do some good.

Three bad habits I've got.
Taking my glasses off and either forgetting where I’ve left them or sitting/standing on them.
Answering the phone when I’m writing instead of doing what I’m always saying I do and letting it ring. It’ll only be people trying to sell me stuff as all the family know to ring me on the mobile if there’s anything I need to know during the day.
Reading into the early hours of the morning instead of going to sleep and getting a proper seven or eight hours. Tsk...

Snacks I enjoy.
Snacks? What are they?

The last five books I've read.
The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Should have blogged about it but didn’t. Probably too busy writing.
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka. Good, amusing, poignant, learned stuff about Ukraine. And tractors.
Engleby – Sebastian Faulks. See last post.
Going Postal – Terry Pratchett. I love Terry Pratchett. His biog says he is ‘occasionally accused of literature.’ I am one of the accusers.
Brain Rules – John J. Medina. Non-fiction. Twelve things from neuroscientist John Medina that you need to know about how your brain works. Exceptionally accessible and amusing.

Five jobs I've had.
Cooking at a café attached to a working water mill (and therefore tourist attraction) near my childhood home in West Wales. This was during the summer before I went to university. I worked with a lovely girl whom I knew vaguely from my village (she’d been at boarding school) who taught me how to cook ‘make it up as you go along’ soup, was unfailingly lovely to the punters and very nice to me. Her name was Pat Llewelyn and she went on to discover Jamie Oliver and the Two Fat Ladies (for those in the US, both JO and the TFLs are celebrity TV chefs). She’s one of my few claims to fame.

Serving burgers in Burger King for a year between Oxford and training as a speech and languagae therapist. This was a necessary corrective to three years at Oxford.

Speech and Language therapist for various NHS trusts. I discovered that a) I was atrocious at filing b) I dislike working for big organisations c) I dislike the words ‘the Trust’s policy on this is’ and ‘the guidelines specify...’ Phrases of this kind make me want to swear and throw crockery.

Assistant to charity fundraiser (mentioned above). This was unpaid but one of the most enjoyable jobs I have ever had. I learned loads of stuff including that requests beginning ‘It would be really great if..’ worked much better on me than instructions beginning ‘You can’t/must/should…’

Independent SLT specialising in autism spectrum disorders. My current day job. This is v. cool mainly due to having a boss who has about as much regard for ‘the rules’ as I have.

These are pretty much all the jobs I’ve had, ever, apart from the long term ones of a) mother b) writer. None of the others has been remotely as interesting as a) or b)

Five places I've lived.
On a dairy farm in CwmCou – a little village in Ceregion, West Wales. This is where I grew up. Idyllic is the word.

In Oxford (as a student) first of all in a 60s block where, for the first time in my life, I could lie full-length in a bath (they were built for rowers when the college was men-only, I’m five foot ten); then in a little terraced house down the Abingdon Road where none of us did housework and I discovered (from a housemate who was a chef) how you test when spaghetti is done; finally in a first floor room on the main quad of my college. College founded 1516, date of room unknown but probably thereabouts. Friends could stand in the quad and shout 'Alis are you in?' V. Oxford.

Inside my head… This is where all writers live, really.

That’s it folks! If you’d like to do this one, consider yourself tagged and go to it…


KAREN said...

Great answers. It's funny how much we've done when we look back. I can definitely relate to all your bad habits :o)

Akasha Savage said...

That made interesting reading. You're right, writers live in their heads most of the time...with doors locked and bolted!!!

Alis said...

Hi Karen! Thanks. Yes, it's easy to underestimate what we've achieved, isn't it? That came home to me when I did a talk a couple of months ago and did a quick look through my archive to see if there was anything of interest I could take. I discovered stories and radio plays I'd completely forgotten having written!
Hi Akasha! Maybe it would be easier if we could lock and bolt the doors then shopping, housework etc etc wouldn't interrupt the creative flow!

KatW said...

Great! Like you, I also lose my glasses (oh and keys)regularly. I end up stomping around accusing the kids only to discover I was sitting on them. My hubbie did buy me one of those chains to hang my reading glasses on. I've lost the chain though.........!! Oh and the reading thing. How many mornings do I wake wishing I hadn't insisted on finishing that last 200 pages? My six year old has just got into independent reading. Like a hypocrite I moan at her to stop reading and get to sleep!


Leigh Russell said...

I definitely share your bad habits! How horrible to have a 'to do' list that someone else is 'entitled' to look at!