Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Night, Moonlit

Early morning, late night, did not check the hour. A hurried phone call - get up, get dressed, drive to hospital. I'm fine, we're fine. Just an alarm we found, thankfully, false. Nevertheless the A&E (Accident & Emergency) Room, lags. Drags. A strung-up tension pervades with the lingering scent of spilt bottles/cans. So quiet except for the hum of the coffee machine. While I wait for the doctor to see our loved one. I sit, write and look out. Expectant of a long night. All around us, the murmurs of humans. Delicate, hushed. All the vulnerable souls in this room are in it together yet utterly separate. Small islands of fear, trepidation, calm.

I am fine, we are ...

A woman with red hair and white clothes bobs her head to her ipod. A young woman with short hair and pyjama bottoms holds on to the hand of her beloved for dear life. Lifeboat love. He is young - dutifully responsive without looking at her. Shy - embarrassed, I can't tell. She rocks back and forth for a while then continues touching him - his hair, his blue-jeaned leg. He might as well be in another room. I notice the twin-taped cuts on her shins, then look away.

Not for the first time, I notice the lady with the green shoes. Beauty with tired eyes and hair. She looks alone, even desolate. Somehow she has turned up stylish. Looking at "us", so did we but this was done in a haze of sleep. Her green shoes glisten in the fluorescent glare. Her eyeliner, smudged. Is she alright? The result of a late night or late life. She curls up in her steel chair. Then stretches here and there, head back, uncrossed then crossed legs, conspicuous. I think that I am watching a show. Perhaps she has played the role of beauty too many times, opposite a beast of a life.

It is now 2 a.m. I write and ignore any gaze from me to pen and back again. Why can't they look at the lady with green shoes? Stream of consciousness, I am adrift. Thank God for this pen. Ipod lady has started speaking with two porters, they are pally. I wonder if it is a return trip. The lady with sore taped shins has stopped touching him. I feel relieved. Almost want to get her a coffee. It's alright, he's brought her one. Perhaps that's how he touches. Perhaps it's none of my business. Yet tonight I feel we are all in the same lifeboat, - While children sleep, mothers worry and God watches. A microcosm of a night, somewhere in England. I am fine, we are fine. Looking back on what I wrote, thinking. Sometimes I know I love the whole world and see only beauty, soft-winged beauty.


Saturday, 17 July 2010


It was two hours until dawn, late summer night, this girl was cajoled into bed. Apparently I looked tired.

Perhaps, yet I couldn't sleep. To blog, perchance to dream: I wrote the following just before my eyelids drifted shut and am posting it the day after. Within this post are old photographs I had taken in my teens. I'd forgotten what "real" film looks like, warm and grainy. I'd forgotten that girl who carried a camera instead of lipstick. Quite nostalgic in an "If I had told myself this or that..." way:

A true life = clear thought.

Clear thought combined with... perseverance, which is another word for "patience in the long haul".

If one is in it for the long haul, one must hold back, refrain a little. Not jump to that first desire like a magpie meeting a sparkle in the grass.

Conserve your energy for what really matters, not just the physical reserves, but your mental energy too. Step back, look clearly upon something and think.... before you speak, before you leap... focus gently.

One of the things I have learnt in this tiny span of existence is - it helps to keep your eyes wide open, along with your mind. So, although no one might know it, you are taking it in, drinking it all in. Studying the horizon.

I've always admired the grace of animals in the wilderness, they know the above naturally. Especially cats. The soft slink of ease and languid determination. So languid that as a child, visiting game reserves abroad, I would watch transfixed if any crossed our path. Part of me would be struck by their confident beauty, the other part would sometimes think "Hurry up, please".

That second part is the one I work on... every day. For impatience can sometimes be delicious, you want it now.... you want it cartoon-fast and vocalising that releases something. The truth is, it only releases energy you could use otherwise. Observe patience as something tangible, not just an ephemeral object. Think of it as a muscle one needs to work on.

Strengthening this gives you real release. Rather than falling upon a sparkle in the grass, your thoughts and feelings share equal space, equal respect. Ultimately, you grow patient with yourself too, an unexpected gift. A necessary one.

Odd how "Go with your heart" as true as it is, is nowadays given more reverence than the brain - why not emphasise both? If one consistently goes with the heart in life, relationships, faith even - at the first sign of real trouble we hear:

"This is a recording... go with your heart" and some of us lash out or ... jump ship; it is not so much that rationality is abandoned - just that it is easier to react without thinking of the consequences. Patience is a wee casualty in the "heart only" mentality. But thankfully, it can be revived. We just have to allow both sides of our nature an even playing field.

What I find amazing is that while you are reading this, wherever you are, you have unique brain cells, synapses, emotion sparkling away inside of you, bubbling to fruition. So real, thank God and so wonderful. Everything you have just read, you have absorbed or recognized. Everything and everyone are somehow linked.


Friday, 28 May 2010

Just Add Water

A while ago I heard about this clever company that came up with a new pancake mix in the 1940's. All you had to do was add water and hey presto .. pancakes. Now being an enthusiastic cook, the thought knits my brow. "Water? what else is in there?". But I understood the convenience and of course the company thought that they had hit on culinary alchemy. Somehow when it came to the sales launch, shoppers stayed away. People (or in those days, women) found it too easy, too strange and alien. So a clever duck in the company changed the recipe, now you had to water and ... an egg. Sales shot up at a blistering pace. They didn't understand it but were pleased, the mix was finally off their sorry hands and into those of the fairer sex.

What they forgot to tap into at the beginning, was reality as seen and known by people at that time: Nothing is that easy, some work goes into achieving anything worthwhile. Which makes me think of the world we live in today. Everything is at our tiptap fingertips. We may lament about the declining economy, petrol prices and finding the right shampoo - but on the whole, we've noticed that those who do complain, are hardly the ones lying in the street or counting loose change under a streetlamp.

Yet while we we have so much more materially - the fear is always driven into us that we have nothing, not really. That life is not as it should be. The spouse is not quite perfect enough or psychic enough to anticipate each and every need. The job is too stressful. Time is far too fleeting. The last one is the only one I agree with: Pardon me for my absence.

During all this fear-mongering, the "counter message" we get to balance this out is: More. That's their answer. As if by just adding more (water) we will be gifted with an instant life. A life other than the one we borrow. I use "borrow" here, because that is how it is. We don't keep life forever; we are entrusted with one for a short while: Why then are we so determined to remain dissatisfied with this gift?

I feel as if people are bombarded by their own side sometimes. Good, intelligent people are buying into the idea that they are not quite capable, because they are unhappy - and they are being sold that idea by OTHER human beings. An endless spiral of enabling - the drug is "This is not good enough and neither are you".

Perhaps they are right to be unhappy! Or dissatisfied. It's good to know when something needs fixing. The only harm occurs when they barely scratch the surface of why there is discontent; when they use the outer life: appearance, career and status as the passage to contentment. The truth is, all those things only equal a material life - which no matter how much you improve upon will never bring true fulfillment.

Deep down we know this, yet we still forget. The other messages are too prevalent. Why? Happy, fulfilled people are rarely voracious consumers, it helps profit margins to keep us in a state of constant need. I don't think that those who enable this process truly mean harm - but let's face it, they are partly responsible. Though not completely.
The greatest opportunity and thus the greatest test lies with us. Taking responsibility for why we are and what we value is not the easiest thing. Sometimes it can strike like a lightening bolt - when reality forces us to see beneath the veneer. Most of the time, it takes work, real hard introspective work. We actually have to sit down in a quiet spot and think. Shut away the world and all the images dangled before us. Just sit and think and ask every question we have avoided or neglected. Remember our question mark? It comes in very useful during those tender, worthwhile moments. This life is so precious and it floats by in the blink of an eye; I hope we can give it the time and thought it deserves, soon and often. Throw out the pancake mix. Start from scratch.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Farewell Sweetheart

It's 10pm in London, returned from a marathon writing session. The whole day, the sense of something tangible, something missing followed me. Just wanted to be indoors. I ate little, what little I touched lacked taste. I prayed, found some peace in that. I wrote some more. Then, looked at missed blogs.

It's 10pm in London and dear Renee, a person of incredible warmth and goodness of the blog "Circling My Head" is.. not here. Her cancer, telling title is her blog's name, had deteriorated quickly. Her warmth and strength are needed elsewhere, she is dead.

Renee, today I wrote, after a long time of my brush with the dreaded tumour; the lease and breath of new life that came when they removed it. Today I found, you, missing. I know Renee was here for a short while. I can't tell you how much she means to me. I want to post her picture and I can't.

I don't always let people deeply into my heart; give - yes, receive? carefully. Except when I come across genuine and kind people, it is very easy to love them. I don't know the romance of that emotion, but with family and friends, it is there and means much. Renee was an instant, loving and sincere friend - certainly not something I expected when I started to write this blog. I did not expect her familiar love, her endearingly sweet emails, her glowing trust, encouragement, understanding of vulnerability and unexplained delight in knowing my real name. I did not expect a complex, amazing, ballsy, (sometimes potty-mouthed) funny and shatteringly good person. Renee did everything her own way and answered to nobody. She grew up Catholic, married her Muslim husband in their "unique" 1975 wedding and together they built an amazing bond and family. She suffered with cancer, sometimes in silence, sometimes with a primal cry for help and we came running, because that's what people who love her do.

I am crying Renee, but it is because I knew you, not because I lost you.

I am grateful to her darling daughter for sharing all the news with us at this sad time. My heart is with Angelique, her father and family. I am grateful for Renee's open heart, searing mind and soul. God I hope I see you in heaven, RK; you deserve peace after all this pain. You deserve every drop of goodness you brought to this world. I am not mythologising Renee, she chose goodness; the simple undiluted kind every day.

I love you.

Peace be with Renee,

Your friend,

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Water Ripples

Dear friends, dear souls I have missed the pleasure of conversing with in some time.

Including the friends who email, hello again.

The absence has been felt. Somehow I wish you were across the street from me, so I could meet you at the window and talk back and forth happily like they did in previous times, ready to share, ready to listen.

For some weeks, I have been trying to be the best person I can personally and careerwise. Sometimes they collided, quietly, change causes sparks. It helps to be prepared. I spoke on the phone sporadically, emailed less. Itched to blog. Forgive my silence.

I hope you have been well, better than well. My thoughts would stray, sometimes even gallop to thinking of many of you individually. As weeks stretched, I would rush to write a post and then leave it, it didn't feel quite right for the time, as always the sincere thought requires a ready moment.

For January I had written an enthusiastic, bold, happy one, and then, Haiti collapsed. A house of cards, heaving tremors around the world. Somehow the happy post seemed inappropriate. But I remembered the posts you wrote and they touched me although I could not reply. How to reply, when you said it better than I?

Aghast and shaken, days after I thought of what happens to people after the rubble is cleared: We are left with questions: these encircle a magnifying glass to the people that were abandoned, hungry and needy before any earthquake shook them. I only discovered this after watching a Charlie Rose YouTube on Haiti. Yet we heard little for so long amidst our normal concerns. Little until one earthquake hurt them and jolted us.

Is selfishness individual complacency? Or an epidemic? Are we to blame for not seeking to know more about the world than we are spoon-fed?

Perhaps the magnifying glass can be held to ourselves. Who are we? Who am I?

Am I like the shape of water? Ready to fill the vessel I am given? Or do I build the vessel myself, grow within it, discard it when it cannot contain me anymore?

Without the analogies, I know one thing. I am in this world for reasons bigger than myself. This means I must share of myself freely and without expectation. This means that sometimes I am needed elsewhere. This is not weakness nor naivety. It is humanity finding its way.

The past few weeks have taught me that without cherishing the bigger truth, life is not quite right, contentment is not as surefooted. I reserve the right to be imperfect, I also reserve a right to aim for perfection knowing I will not attain it, as this is human. Yet how vital is this journey when we try for the right reasons?

I pray we all act on our words and good intentions at this time, however small the action, allow it to form and ripple farther than human eyes can see.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Awards and The Coliseum


Going underground is what our work prep. feels like; contact with the world at large being via my phone, with its tiny screen only allowing me to view blogs while squinting and shaking it at the same time. I often tried to comment but for some reason my on screen keyboard seems to have been made by Lilliputians with a sense of humour. Clicking anything makes the page expand and contract, double clicking makes me type in Danish, do I speak Danish? My phone seems to think so.

So alas, I am back in the realm of the living on a mild November day and gearing up to read what I’ve been missing. As for those who messaged, love you. This post is in two parts; the first, passing on awards because they are “about timely” and the second a youtube sight that can only be called … well, you’ll see.

I have tried not to repeat awards for those that already have them; I know the "rules" involve one word answers to questions, etc, but I was never very good with rules or monosyllabic answers. I choose to pass them on in appreciation and love, unconditionally.

The "Deborah" for Laurel, Pamela, Jennifer, Renee, French Fancy, Vanessa and Purple Flowers.

The "Kreative Blogger" for Lori, Diane, Heavenly Housewife, Phoenix, Victoria, Debra, Corinna, Dzintra, Jacqueline and Des.

Above you will find a feast to suit any mood, be it intellectual, emotional, decorative, culinary, cultural or simply those that bring a spark as they share. Thank you for being who you are so openly.



In complete contrast, the following youtube video may surprise. It’s one of the first things I saw on going back online to a reasonably sized screen. I want to write about it objectively, if that is possible. I can attest to never seeing anything like it.

The centre of attention is footballer, Elizabeth Lambert of the New Mexico University team. The sight of this girl kicking, punching, pulling hair, tripping up opponents and tripping them up again has flamed through youtube with a vigour worthy of the cheesy wedding dance couple.

This is the most surprising, feisty and ferocious bit of (sports) violence that people have witnessed for some time. One of the kindest people I know viewed this and burst out laughing. While offensive, the complete incredulity of the clip brings forth a shock that is sated by laughter. It is hard to believe that it is real. It’s too cartoon-like, too "Street Fighter", too.. masculine?

As of now, the youtube view count is hurtling past one million. The comments alone reveal a snapshot of the world at large,

"She was provoked", "What a bully!", "Go girl", "Thug life!" (apparently a positive).

Besides the obvious calls for a referee (where was she/he?), the majority of Elizabeth’s defenders appear to be male and her opponents, female. In an age where equality is King, when a woman produces a performance mirroring Vinnie Jones’ - former model for football hooligans in my country, it is electrifyingly vulgar.

Perhaps it takes an act of sports barbarism or rough play according to which side you are on, to wake people up. Violence of this kind is rarely made real to the majority of genteel viewers. One expects it to be the start of gang fights (when they can’t find their blades) or the result of a crass late night gone wrong. One does not expect "Thug life!" to come in a blonde, middle class and female package.

Elizabeth Lambert is the bitter pill and antidote to an unshockable zeitgeist. Perhaps the transplanted coliseum show playing across our screens is just what we need in order to ask how far violence is going. She could be your daughter or sister, that is the piercing reality when the laughter dies down.

So could her toppled opponents. Within forty seconds of footage, the college girls have been catapulted to infamous worldwide attention. The last thing they expected to learn besides their major and minor was how to take a thorough kicking, in public too. It is neither their fault nor their infamy but the memory is sure to remain more acute now. The fact that a mea culpa has been issued is of little use to them as is her indefinite suspension.

As for Thug Life Lizzie, we have not heard the end of her after that apology. Rather than vilify her, it would be wise to ask where this anger comes from, is it a symptom of our times? I can’t help but believe that condemning something makes us stop debating, stop figuring out what lies beneath and what we can do to change it. Condemning it also makes the taboo grow acceptable and more palatable, because in our world, taboo attracts attention.

We have not seen the last of that kind of performance either. Expect youtube parodies to come pouring in with carrion crow efficiency. One can only hope that the "Why?" can be answered before the world numbs itself with laughter.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Question Mark

A graceful curve, a succinct point. One flow here to a pause, followed by a simple dot. The question mark; a wonderful addition to our world.

It is not about the look of this object but what it represents. "Question everything.". That is a human birthright. What separates as from animals if not our reason? At the heart of reason is the quest for knowledge, inner and outer. Curiosity is the antidote to ignorance.
Curiosity is a question mark.
I can imagine a long queue of human beings milling along a busy city street. The view of them is from above as they walk to and fro. Over each head, a clear question mark follows like a punctuation halo. Some are as clear and bright as an oil slick, others are dulled, many have their forms nearly scratched through although the shape remains the same.

We are born curious creatures. We learn at a rate that a computer could not hope to quantify before we even understand what a computer is. Curiosity and reason are as inbuilt as love. I don't doubt that in years to come the curiosity gene will be discovered with a big "I told you so" written all over it. The truth is the gene is unimportant; exercising curiosity is what really matters.

Time seems to go so fast that we are being dragged along with it like barnacles holding fast to a speeding ship. The temptation for the human being in this state is to accept, anything. Be it the status quo, the safest option or whatever is handed to them on a plate. Sometimes all of the above.

Question everything. If you see an irrational world, question it, dig deeper than what you are told is the answer. If you yourself have an irrational thought, question yourself.

I discovered recently that the question mark was also known as the interrogation point. Like a full stop with attitude. But the "interrogation point" sounds apt. Interrogate life, question the why and the wherefores. Look behind the veneer of stated fact and ask the difficult questions as well as the easy ones.

It was not too long ago that I was pleased with an ivory tower, filled with exclamation marks and full stops. I questioned nothing if I felt it would interfere with my ivory tower. Most of all, I never questioned if I was truly happy. Difficult questions are easy to avoid because we know deep down the answer might serve as a challenge. A challenge to re-examine, change or even grow.

To grow is something adults are unused to. The mind and heart are as settled as the flesh and bones they inhabit. We remember the pain of teething and fear the same again, perhaps more acutely this time. It is a genuine fear. But we should all remember that teething was a temporary stage that passed and was forgotten like a fallen autumn leaf. We gained something new and better after it. We gained a freedom we had not anticipated but gladly welcomed.

Curiosity is just the same. It awaits, ready to be tapped into. It is everywhere and in everything. It enables us the chance to grow before we cannot grow anymore. It gives us a gift to not just react and follow, but to reason, decide and choose what we will. The question mark is a friend on the tip of your tongue.


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Come Fly with Me

Thanks are in order before I begin this post. Three lovely ladies graced me with sweet awards on the sidebar, Shell, Vanessa and Lori, your blogs are unique and I thank you for the warmth and sweetness you bring here. Do check out their blogs if you have not already. Now, for mentioning something about me not mentioned before (as asked):

I would like to share a private dream with you - as yet unfulfilled;
I've always wanted to fly. Preferably in a small plane, over Africa, Asia, anywhere that is rich with landscape, colour and wonder. To be a skilled aviatrix is something I don't see happening for a while, time being one reason. But sometimes the dream catches me softly and I allow myself to smile in its familiar hold.

I want to know what it is like to control and master a delicate and precarious engine. I want to know the feeling of human melding with wing and horizon until you are one motion. Most of all I seek the dream of soaring skillfully, as if I was born in the air.

Dear all, how to describe why I am always touched by this film sequence, where even the tiny screen does it some justice. If you get goosebumps and your heart swells, I understand. From the overhead view of Africa to John Barry's golden music, this is beauty designed to make every human ache.

May I present to you three aviatrix (except Amelia, I intend to write a post for her alone) who were not only capable of all of the above but were TRUE examples in their courage, dedication and quest for adventure. These are real pioneers. They had no publicists, pop songs or photoshopped spreads, they were only themselves. Lovely.

A brilliant and feisty girl from Texas, who after being denied flying lessons because of her colour, saved and travelled to France in 1921, where they allowed women and African-Americans to obtain the difficult international pilot's license. She was the first American woman to gain it. She returned to The States, aged twenty-nine, to much acclaim and continually worked hard to be a flyer, activist and lecturer across the country. The first African-American aviatrix proclaimed, "I refused to take no for an answer".

This was true for Elly Beinhorn-Rosemeyer (see last post). She started off as an only child with a thirst for life and a desire to break through the city walls surrounding her. Long distance-flying became her dream despite opposition. In 1931, aged twenty-three (two years after gaining her license) she flew solo from Europe to Africa, carrying a mosquito net and water. On her return to Germany, she pointed to an Atlas and said that she would like to try, "Somewhere on the right"; this was Elly. She then flew over Mt. Everest, Bali and Australia then returned to the African coast, the last time with her husband. She turned in her license aged seventy-two voluntarily, knowing she had tasted her dreams.

Imagine the early days of aviation. You are like Columbus in a small drag plane. All you have is a compass and basic instruments. In front is an open cockpit window and no roof. The wind rushes past your face, bellowing at you, as you lift and lift higher into the air. Surrounding you is the sky, intimate and vast.

Ascha Donnels, Californian aviatrix, remembered on her ninety-ninth birthday:
“I could imagine that I was sitting on the edge of a cloud, looking out over the whole world. In those days there was no smog, and you could smell the fragrances of oranges, whatever you were flying over, at all altitudes."

Achsa: “I had no sense of fear. In fact…when they learned about it (first flight), my family said I had no sense, period.”

I wonder what it was like; below you have left not only reality as you know it, but the thoughts of the age. Very few people if any believe you should be up there. To them a woman in jodhpurs is hideous, let alone a woman in a plane. They cannot believe your choice and yet, some of them admire you for it. A lonely place is knowing you are doing the right thing although few understand.

But up in the air, the wind is knocking the truth back into you, "It doesn't matter" and it really doesn't. You are electrified and more free than most on this planet. You inhale adventure and light. The engine roars its encouragement, you go higher, "This is the world and I am its dove". Everything seems minute below, but you feel oddly protective of it, somehow more enchanted. It is true that distance makes the heart grow... not fonder, but aware of good.

I think that flight taps into our consciousness in a manner few things can match. On the one hand, it is spectacular to roam the planet as a winged being.

On the other hand, it serves as metaphor: Striving and reaching higher than you thought possible; facing oneself at a dizzy height; finally, mapping your journey and taking charge of destiny. Wherever it takes you, at least you follow a map and compass. So this is my dream to be one with the sky and use my compass wisely. I hope you have enjoyed your flight.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Old Age, you Rockstar

"Breathing, listening, being", fantastic, alles in ordnung, all is well. The sun is shining and I feel odd posting this as my mood is lifted by the sparkly view from my window. This was written the day before and is illustrated by the subject of my next post - pioneering women... go with it :)

Let me be the first to remind us today, sweet gratitude!

A reminder is needed: I have been confronted by the smite we all know as the "woman's column", everywhere I turn I face the dreaded false distraction of women AND men somehow putting down women for the awful crime of, wait for it.... growing old. There I said it. "Old", say it, let it curl around your tongue like a forgotten flavour.

This is after all what the "fear" is; equalling old with "forgotten", "past it", "sell by date" - I am still shocked, even now, that we can use this kind of language to describe one of the most BEAUTIFUL gifts in the world, the experience of life in it's many seasons, growing, changing, living.

So this will be an unusual turn for me, a slightly tongue in cheek look, perhaps a kitten's rant in defense of ageing.

I will add that grey (gray for my American friends) hairs don't count; we have lots of beautiful natural dyes on this planet used by pre and post grey-haired people, equal opportunity dyeing for all; moving along.

Now some of you may be aware that I am "relatively" young, by that I mean, no longer a teenager nor am I old enough to be a district attorney... I think. Find whichever age you think that is and guess away. Because that is beside the point, how old am I? Who cares? I won't deny that for years I always wanted to be older, as if something magical was going to happen then. This only stopped when I hit eighteen and then the facet of mortality and an immature fear of revolving years nipped at my heels. But I am over that now, have been for some time, thank God.

For those that still have this superficial fear of ageing drummed into them, my dears, consider the alternative? .... exactly.

For those that would like to take a time machine back (sometimes I would too, but only to meet all the wonderful people who've passed), not going to happen. I tried, they told me the science was impossible. Plus I think that, seriously... God does not need to do a "rinse, repeat" with our destinies.

And for those that would like to look like they did when they were younger, what good would it do you? And if that is the case then how far back do you want to go exactly? I could go as far back as age twelve in my head, hmm, I looked like a cute girl with the body of a twelve year old boy, no thankye.

Frankly, anything which is not naturally occurring that somehow makes you look twenty years younger, well that's surgery, CUTTING and it is just unreal. Sorry to state the obvious. In fact I look on that kind of surgery, the pull, tug, nip, tuck, disappear acts as self-harm. Harmful because they are there to make you THINK you need to look better than you do, you don't. They are also there to make you feel you are not good enough, you are more than good enough - you are fantastic. They are lastly there to turn ageing into the millennial money-making disease.

"The plague, the plague"

"What? Swine Flu?"

"No! old age, quick, call your surgeon".

I don't wish to blame the media. Start, stop. It's been done. One does not have to invite a rude person to dinner neither is one compelled to buy into that shtick. I accept that youth is adorable but it is not King Solomon's Mines. The real treasure is the face of wisdom, love and understanding. All of which grow and are magnified by greater experience.

As for wrinkles? Beautiful. My favourite are the crinkly eyes when someone smiles. I look forward to them, can't beat 'em, don't want to, so join 'em. I look forward to all the things that we are told to shun and fear out of ignorance. Dear friends, let us just stop buying into the paranoia, the cosmetics have made enough money off of it and do we really care if 10 out of 23 women prefer retinal a to peptides?

To emphasise, cellulite? fine, bring it on. Change is good. Stretchmarks? groovy. Case in point: A beautiful friend (in her twenties) was wearing jeans to a tea party, complaining about stretchmarks, she then with one finger displayed some on her upper hip, uninvited. Following my initial surprise, "Cool" I ventured, "It's like a Zebra print", she got the joke; but the truth is I see nothing wrong with it. Look at it another way - nature's tattoo (!) People make out like these are sinful scars, "Horrible, horrible, pass me the cocoa butter", why? If they are scars, then let them be the battle scars of womanhood. Wear them proudly, you made it!

We all know it's not always easy being female and it does not get any easier. I know I live life happily, but please be aware, it is not an exercise in floating with my eyes closed. I worked to get this way, or get back to being this way as I believe we are all born with the brightness gene. It just gets dimmed sometimes.

Yet, back to taboo stretchmarks, bring them on too. Zebra print me, I don't mind. In fact, I'll help it along; tonight I'll take an extra scoop of ice cream, make that two extra scoops. Anything I can do to impede the madness that is "FEAR OF OLD AGE" and the natural body, I shall do. No sacrifice/scarcrifice; sorry, had to.

Lastly, please think back to some of the most amazing and graceful people in this world. Where would we be without those who lived without fear and delusions? People whose courage made us smile and inspire us to go forward be it on a shared path or simply by the gift of their pearlescent quotes. I wonder what they would think of the petty 21st century concerns about something completely natural and precious. I wonder how incredulous they would be. Most likely they would pity everyone. Those that fear ageing and those growing up to fear it.

Below follows Audrey at her most beautiful:

Please, let us remember that this life is a gift as is every.... single.... wrinkle one earns during it. Kiss it, love it, embrace it. A certain fifties male actor dropped this ditty, "Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse". Well, he got 2 out of 3. I still think it is the silliest line ever. That along with, "Why buy the cow if you can milk it?". Sorry, Jimmy. I also feel sorry for anyone who chases the mirage that a plumped this or a tighter that, equals happiness.

I thank God for the graceful gift of living, I pray that we all live a RIPE old age, full of sweetness, full of truth and full of giving. Serving white and dark chocolate ice cream tonight, feel free to join me.