Category Archives: 2017

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

I am stuck on a treadmill. I work. Long hours. Go home. Grab some food. Sleep. Wake up. Make my lunch. Get on the tube. Go to work. Long hours. Go home. It has been like this for two maybe even three months now. I just can’t seem to jump off.

The long hours started due to changes at work. The prof was leaving and I had a new Dean coming in. I was managing a transition period and I didn’t mind. They are both nice people and I wanted to support them the best I could. However, now I seem to have got myself stuck in a loop. My own ‘Groundhog Day’ which I can’t break out of and unlike Bill Murray, I am not honing any skills. No piano playing. No editing my book…

I talked to a friend at work about it. How that morning I had made the impulsive decision to turn left out of the front door, instead of right, just so I could experience a little bit of variety.

I always get twitchy when the years of my life add up to the end of another decade. At 18, I packed my bags, left home and moved to London. At 28, I packed my bags and moved to France. At 38, I stood still but fell in love and that brought its own adventures. Now I am 48.

I have been toying with a dramatic shake-up – selling or renting out the flat and moving back to France, that way surely I would have time to edit and write my book. The thing is, I learnt from the last time I did that, it doesn’t stop the same issues in your life cropping up. Moving house, moving job, moving countries – yes sometimes it can help but mostly you just get into a new routine which after a while once again becomes repetitive. Turning left can be a novel change but if you do it every day there is no difference to turning right.

My motivator here should be my book. I went to CrimeFest in May and did one of the ‘pitch to an agent’ sessions. It was a magical ‘Simon Cowell’ moment when at the end I got three ‘yeses’, one from each agent that wants to see the manuscript again – once I’ve made some changes. So although not a golden buzzer, there is more work that needs to be done, at least I didn’t get three doors shut in my face. But whether it is the treadmill I am on or fear of failure – a thread I really don’t want to pull at right now, I don’t know. I just know my imagination and creative neurons have dried up and they feel like a handful of raisins sitting in my palm.

When I moved to France I was happy. Life revolved around good food, good company and I was fit and healthy – in fact super fit and healthy, whether it was the gym, skiing, tennis or even one friend who got me back on a bike.

LT in France 2

LT in France 1

Rocking a pair of padded bike shorts in France

So today I booked some tennis lessons. Maybe clearing my head and trundling around a tennis court will help.

And if that doesn’t work? Well I am also renewing my passport.

The Brighter Side of Life

It was the Queen’s birthday yesterday but she wasn’t in the party mood. Instead she announced, ‘Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is very difficult to escape a very sombre national mood.’

The past couple of months have seen some harrowing incidents in the United Kingdom and it does feel like I am living on an island that has been battered and bruised. This is though a country that is used to ‘pulling through’. It has a history of digging deep into its stoical pockets. As the Queen also said in her message, ‘United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.’

Many of my friends have moved out of London. Seeking space, quiet and a quality of life that can be purchased at a quarter of the price, certainly compared to what those of us still living in a shoe box with a single figure postcode pay. I go through phases when I wonder if I would be better off in the suburbs. But, for the moment, the arrow on the scales that balance the commute v central London living, swings in favour of my inner city life.

Yesterday, as I sat on the tube on my way to an appointment at my opticians. I was surrounded by the multi-cultural background of London’s inhabitants. Next to me an Asian teenage boy was deftly flipping a Rubik’s cube, opposite me a middle aged Frenchman virtually played his piano, turning the pages on a music score cradled in his lap. Two girls giggled, one with pink hair, one with blonde, as they discussed what they would buy on Oxford Street. An elderly Middle Eastern man in front of me smiled and leaned on his walking stick. In one carriage we spanned several decades in age, along with a wide diversity in gender, faith and cultural background but that is how London should be. Londoners have their own identity, do their own thing, and for the most part are happy to live their lives next to each other. For an introvert like me it is the perfect environment. A non-judgemental community where I get to co-exist alongside others, but without having to meet the expectations of life’s unspoken agenda. An agenda which some of my peers choose to match their achievements against.

After the opticians I walked  home, trying not to fall over as I tested out my new multi-focal lenses. Before I knew where I was I had stumbled into the end of the parade for the Queen’s birthday celebrations and there was Queenie, bobbing along Pall Mall in her open-top carriage with Prince Philip beside her. Admittedly between my blurred vision and the crowd I only glimpsed her hat and a brief regal wave but it felt special.

The sun shone, the sky was blue and I was surrounded  by people speaking fifty different languages, from fifty different backgrounds but for all our differences, we had one thing in common – a smile on our faces. After everything that has gone on in the past few months, I needed that. Just a little reminder that the brighter side of humanity lives on.