As my few readers will have noticed, I was a bit disgruntled with the Troon craft fair on October 17th…so I thought it only right to redress the balance and say that the fair at Troon on November 14th was full of affirmation of what I do from the stalwart customers who went to the trouble of turning up on a blustery, wild, wet day. Thank you to those people who were so encouraging and complimentary, I felt so much more hopeful and inspired by the end of the day.

As usual there was only very dingy light in the hall, made worse by the dark weather, but that’s all due to be modernised in the new year, so I’m hopeful that the lighting will be changed. Someone told me that the floor is perfect for dancing, and it was a whole new picture to imagine the hall full of dancers.

Despite some progress made with new designs, I’ve had a bit of a slump in my confidence regarding bead making, as I’ve been through a period of focusing purely on pushing myself as an artist. I’m surprisingly competitive and want to stand out as a bead maker, I like being like this, but it is also quite alarming, I’m scaring myself! However, if I can push myself as far as I can as an artist, then I will have achieved something that I think is worthwhile, on a personal level. There is no room for resting on any kind of laurels, certainly not the ones I have as yet, there is far to go.
My latest beads are large, they take about two hours each, by the time I’m nearing completion of a bead, just when I need to be on top form, I’m flagging, especially if I’ve already made a couple and it’s nearing 3am. I have made some decent strides in artistry, but I need to perfect the technical aspects of the beads I want to make, I’m grateful for the new kiln programme from Sean at OffMandrel, which will anneal these big beads…I’m very excited about my new beads.
As always when I have had a bit of success, there is a sudden come down from which I must pick myself up, I can’t rely on achievement to give me some sort of peace, I’m already chasing the next thing I want to do. It’s not easy being like that, and combined with recent events, I have found myself in a familiar space which mostly involves wondering what the point of my being alive is. ‘Blimey,’ you might be thinking now, ‘here she goes again, getting heavy’ but it’s the truth for me, and as far as I know, creative people (and especially depressives like me) get like that, and while it might not be ‘normal’ to say it out loud, it’s pretty normal to think it occasionally, for a lot of people. It doesn’t mean I want to be dead (although I occasionally I hit the depths where I feel being dead would be a nice ‘rest’ – how thick is that?!!! or does it just mean I’m tired?) I’m just thinking about my place on the planet, and what’s the betting that a lot of women whose children have left home find themselves in this position, rethinking what they are actually ‘for’ now that their roles as mothers have diminished?

Even two years after leaving London (and thereby our son James at uni there) and moving to Scotland, I am not sure what I am ‘for’, what is my role and purpose in life? While I figure that out, I’m just trying to make the best of the life I have been given, one day at a time. Sometimes I am very bad at that, and need a little nudge to see the bigger picture, so, when I met people at Troon last weekend who were complimentary about my glass work, who bought some of it, and even those who were returning customers coming to get their ‘Min bead fix’, I felt affirmed, and as if there is a point to making beads, and being me. Glass beads give me a place in my world, they challenge me as an artist. I know I’m a daughter, wife, mother and friend, and being those things is important to other people (thanks guys) but first and foremost is the relationship I have with myself. After all I have to live in my head, and that takes some managing…oh to be simple and uncomplicated, and not to think too much…

keeping my world big enough

I’ve been stuck indoors on my own too much lately, often in the shed until the early hours, lampworking. Until recently, my husband had been at home full time, studying, so even if the company available came in the form of a slightly irritable and distracted man, it was better than being by myself, a little loving contact every now and then through the day makes a difference – plus which, he liked to take a break and cook for us, an alien form of relaxation in my book, so it suited me fine. The study paid off and he qualified as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and managed to get his BSc as well, fantastic. Almost two years of stress about lack of money and concern for our home began to recede, the flat was taken off the market (thank goodness for the recession, no-one was up for buying it, despite desirable sea views) and he started working, still quite amazed that he had moved through the difficult time and we hadn’t had to sell up. We had survived taking the risk of his leaving long term full time employment to do what he had to do.
I’m aware that some people find the retirement of their partner difficult, suddenly adjusting to another person in ‘their’ space, but I do not have that concern at all, I enjoy my husband’s presence, but I’m also glad when he goes out and I get that ‘place to myself’ feeling. I wonder when he ever has that, as I rarely go out and if so, he wants to come with me (why is that?) but actually, as we have only one car, sometimes I just want to get in it and drive off on my own, because that’s what I like. My husband doesn’t appreciate my driving, he’s super anxious when I drive, this reveals far more about him than it does about my driving. I am not a perfect driver, I am glad to know this. Sometimes I join the ranks of those who know how to make a car go (they are the annoying ones who should’ve stayed home) other times I easily join the ranks of what I call ‘Drivers’.
There is a point to this.

My husband has started working, and teaching, and needs the car. I am obsessed with making glass beads, and stay in a lot, in a chill damp shed, in my ‘shed’ clothes – warm, but unflattering. I have forgotten which of my ‘tidy’ or more attractive clothes go with which, I just don’t go anywhere very often. Luckily, my passion is right here at home but the problem with that is that sometimes, the world shrinks. Well, my world shrank (shrunk?) lately, and I found myself feeling quite upset and powerless about a situation in which I had foolishly involved myself.
I needed a few groceries this afternoon, so I set out for Sainsbury’s, a very short walk away. The last few days have been quite wet and blustery, so I was pleasantly surprised by the still quality of the air, a soft light taking the edge off the icy greyness of the sea and sky, a little sun breaking through the clouds and pointing, finger like, in the direction of an impressive container ship passing Arran. Fantastic, a beautiful reminder of how big the world really is. I realised that I had no aches or pains, I felt really good. I turned the corner and saw a man stop to look back at his dog, it had decided to sit down in the middle of the road and not budge. It really made me smile, the gruff man talking to the tatty white dog, it was nice to see their partnership in action. Eventually the dog got up and moved towards the man, at first limping like a broken old dog but suddenly trotting along busily behind, as if the limp had been an act. The man had broad shoulders and walked hunched, clouds of cigarette smoke in his wake. They had understood each other, the man and the dog.
I got to Sainsbury’s and saw a mother and her two little girls get a trolley from under the shelter. The eldest might have been nine. Both girls wore short black leatherette jackets, skin tight black leggings, very revealing especially from behind, and high heeled black boots with stud decoration. As the girls clacked along importantly, unaware that they paraded the length of the fruit and veg aisle in surreal emulation of adult females out on the pull, I could see the price labels flashing white on the soles of their boots with every step.
I was reminded of my mother telling me to always remove the labels from new shoes, because prostitutes used to advertise their price by discreetly revealing it written on the soles of their footwear. I don’t know how she knew that, but that’s what she said. As I pondered the scruples of the mother of these girls, and tried not to let my expression reveal my inner thoughts, the eldest girl turned around and looked right at me, it was a little spooky. Our gaze held just a moment long enough and I said, ‘when you get home, take the labels off from under your boots’. She said, ‘ok’ then ran off to catch up with mum. What I would have liked to have said was, ‘please please don’t wear provocative clothes, just don’t, it’s just not appropriate, and while you should be safe always and forever no matter what you wear, the reality is that someone is making you vulnerable by allowing you to dress in that way and you are worth much more than that’, but I didn’t.
I heard the expression ‘Prosti-tots’ for the first time two days ago, it fills my heart with sadness.

Anyway, I tried not to keep looking at the Little Freaks Show, and did my shopping, two cartons of semi-skimmed goat’s milk, one Freedom Foods chicken for jampot soup (I do feel uncomfortable about eating animals…but I still eat them) a little chorizo to make it taste of something different, one baguette (partially baked, as I discovered when I got home) and because a friend was coming over and we needed to be a bit naughty, a cream slice each. While on the subject of cream slices, yes, too many would be Very Bad, and yes, I have now descended into the miserable world of not being able to hide from my own fat (it’s right there every time I look in the mirror, indeed, every time I look down) but the chances of dying of a heart attack from eating on my feelings are far less than a heart attack caused by a cream slice evacuating it’s packaging with a back flip and landing on the floor, because the packaging is the most insane I have ever encountered. Those of you who indulge in Cream Slice Temptation will probably know what I mean. Clearly I need much much more experience with handling the packaging. Ahem.

On the way home, I noticed that a persistent and nasty pile of wet dog poo had been thoughtfully covered with sand. It had been there a couple of days, because I’d already noticed it’s strategic positioning for an unfortunate foot on Thursday. People round here aren’t that bothered about picking up dog poo. It’s not the dogs who are inconsiderate and dirty, but you know, that’s life. Just look where you’re going is the message, all you can do is change yourself in the end, and make sure you pick up your own dog’s leavings.

The light had changed subtly since I had gone into the shop, and was still soft but cooler, the container ship had disappeared from view, there was a huge ship further up the bay (I’m a bit envious of the people who have the view of the biggest vessels waiting in line slightly further round the coast) and I felt happy in the knowledge that I was walking home and would have a happy greeting from the dogs, even though I hadn’t been out long. I was about to start making a big warming winter soup and my friend was coming over. I thought how silly I had been to coop myself up and allow my world to become so small that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I wondered how many people there are in the UK. Internet research this evening came up with a figure of approximately 61million…61million! In 1997 I went to live in Bangladesh for three years, with my husband and son. At that time there were an estimated 120 million people living there, a country half the size of England. Still, 61million is a fair amount of souls, and I had allowed my world to get small, I really must remember to get out more.