Love is a banquet on which we feed*

13 02 2011

I am incurably romantic. 

I state that as a fact and with no apologies. Roses and romantic gestures are always welcomed by me – besides I like Bon Jovi and Jon is a king of the rock ballad. 

However, I don’t do Valentine’s Day.

In spirit I love its intention – a moment to appreciate your significant other is a sentiment that I endorse. But Valentine’s Day as it currently exists? I find the whole mass commercialised event incredibly un-romantic. As a society are we so without grace that we are unable to celebrate love with spontaneity? Do we really need one day a year where the notion of romantic love is shoved down our throats until we are ready to choke? I am inclined to think not and as a society I certainly believe that we could learn to appreciate love with spontaneity (and at least more than once a year).

This year I will pass Valentine’s Day as a singleton. Oh yes, I said it – I proclaimed it to the blogging universe – I will spend Valentine’s Day as a single person. Scandalous!  Or not really. I don’t feel any shame in being single. In fact, after the heartbreak of my last relationship, being single is a comfort. I certainly don’t see why I should need a ‘survival guide’ to navigate my way through today. I see it like this: if you’re in a loving relationship – fantastic!! If you’re single and enjoying it –fantastic!! Love should be celebrated just because it exists, not just because it is the 14th of February. That is true not only for the love that exists now in your life but also for the love that has existed in the past. Yes, my last partner broke my heart six ways till Sunday, but despite some of the rather painful moments in that relationship (and there were some corkers) there were a few good moments. Those are moments that I celebrate, the rest were just lessons that needed to be learnt.

My philosophy for love is simple: celebrate the love that you receive from your partner, your family and your friends and reciprocate with even more love and do this often and sincerely. Life is too short to do anything less and love is far too precious to be horded and kept in the silent dark.

* Patti Smith Group ‘Because the night’.





Evidence of Spring

13 02 2011

I was walking through Russell Square yesterday when I stumbled upon my first daffodils for the year. Daffodils! Daffodils just radiate that warm glow of Spring and combined with the clear & crisp early afternoon their appearance proclaimed “Spring! Spring is coming! Winter is ending!” I was quite excited. I do like Winter. I  like wrapping up in scarves and mittens and hats and large warm coats. I even enjoy the early evenings – they are perfect for doing nothing of great importance and are a great tonic for the hustle and bustle of Summer’s long evenings. Then there’s Rugby. The dark and the cold are borne much better when there’s a good game of rugger on. However,  after a while I start to get itchy feet. That is when I start to look out for the first signs of Spring and daffodils are one of those portents. However, I won’t get too excited too soon. London is relatively warmer than nearly all of the UK, once I start seeing Daffodils popping up at my parents (who are a little further north) – then I’ll consider putting my warm winter coat into the dry cleaners.





Year of the Rabbit

6 02 2011

Run, rabbit run/dig that hole/forget the sun/and when at last your work is done/don’t sit down/its time to dig another one

Well, January just disappeared on me and now I find myself six days into February. As I missed uploading a New Year 2011 post in January, I am going to make up for it by posting a Chinese New Year epistle for February instead. So, welcome in the Year of the Rabbit! Not just any rabbit, but a metal rabbit at that. Wicked. Though what I think of when ‘metal’ and ‘rabbit’ are mentioned in the same breath (left) is most certainly not what the Chinese intended.

According to the Chinese, the Year of the Rabbit promises to bring a more placid year after a frenetic Year of the Tiger. Diplomatic bunny hops instead of roaring fits and starts – the eyes of the rabbit are apparently more gracious and amiable than those of the tiger. Considering the current state of worldly affairs a more placid and considered year wouldn’t go amiss. I certainly have plans, goals and resolutions to accomplish this year. I’ve updated the Resolutions page to reflect some of these – I am sure that posts of the subject will appear during the year.

There is also plenty to look forward to this year. Last year I posted a list of events that I was looking forward to in 2010 – of those the Football World Cup in South Africa was a standout for me. After 28 years away from this competition New Zealand acquitted themselves with style and came out of it the only team to remain undefeated by securing three draws, including one against Italy. The All Whites’ result was exceptional considering their rather modest world ranking and that we don’t have our own professional league (only a solitary professional team). Looking ahead to the rest of 2011 there are three events in particular that I am looking forward to – two of these are general events, while the third is more personal.

  • The Royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton (April). I wasn’t around for the nuptials between Prince Charles and Diana so this will be the first really big Royal wedding that I will be able to celebrate. I also have a soft spot for William (no, not for those reasons). Being of the same age I’ve kinda grown up with him over the years and it’s really pleasing to see him tie the knot with Kate. I’ll be watching the wedding on telly or I’ll be standing in the Mall, or maybe I’ll do both (unless by some chance I receive an invitation, though I’m not holding my breath). I may even hold a party with bunting, tea, scones and as much naff Royal and English paraphernalia as I can find.
  • The Rugby World Cup, New Zealand (September – October). I love rugby, it is just that simple. I actually love watching most sports, this weekend was especially good in that regards as both the Six Nations started and the Super Bowl will be kicking off later tonight. However, rugby union is a particular favourite of mine. I’m also looking forward to it being held back in Aotearoa. I’m backing the ‘Blacks to go all the way, beating the Wallabies 24-31 in the final.
  • Returning to New Zealand for my Grandma’s 100th birthday (August). I haven’t written about my Grandma before, but she is easily the most awesome of all awesome people…ever. This August she will celebrate 100 years on this planet, which is a length of time that I just can’t quite fathom. So much has happened during her lifetime that it just boggles the mind. Needless to say the holiday back to NZ this year is beyond special. Expect more on this later in the year!




Lizzie meets an Angel

8 10 2010

The following is an account of what happened to me this Monday (4th October).  It was a timely reminder that there are people of grace and kindness all around us, even if there are times when we can’t see them for the crowds that surround us. 

Monday started early, I had a lot to do (even for a Monday) and there was a Tube strike to contend with and work around.  I thought I had arrived early enough at the Regent Street bus stop to miss the crush of people who would normally catch the tube to work but had opted (like me) to try their luck with the buses instead.  It didn’t take long before I realised that I had underestimated the situation.  Fearing that it was now or never, I managed to squeeze onto the third number 23 bus which stopped at Regent Street.  Relieved to be on my way, I found a spot on the floor near my feet for my backpack and grocery bag and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible amidst the crowd of Monday morning commuters.  Everything was fine for the first 30 minutes or so and then I began to feel unwell.

Pull yourself together girl

I tried telling myself

You’ll be fine

No such luck.  I began to feel as if I were no longer welcome in my own body and the bus around me began to change into a tunnel.  I awoke in the door well, lying on my back with an angelic commuter (there is no other way to describe her) holding my hand in both of hers, reassuring me that I’d be alright.  Confusion morphed into realisation as I slowly figured out what must have happened.  I felt something metallic under my head 

I must have hit my head when I landed

It was the first coherent thought that I could manage.  Shock began to set in and I felt my body start to tremble slightly.  The raw emotion of the past week (which I had done so well to mask up until that point) mixed with the shock and formed a tidal wave under which I felt overwhelmed

You’ll be alright

Reassured my Angel.  I felt tears began to warm my eyes and then slide down my cheeks.  I gripped her hand a little tighter.  The bus driver arrived at the back door

You alright love?

Someone told him what had happened, that I’d hit my head.  I felt unable to speak.

Should I call an ambulance?

I wasn’t sure, but I felt that right now wasn’t the time to be stoic.  I wasn’t the right person to assess whether or not I’d hurt myself.

Yeah, maybe, yes.

I managed to get out those three words out, though they felt strange and like someone else was talking.  The other commuters began to file off the bus as an ambulance was called.  I felt like a bizarre specimen in a science lab which everyone glances at but doesn’t want to be seen to have done so.  The bus driver reappeared at the back door.  My Angel remained by my side, holding my hand.  Not sure where to look, my let my gaze flit from my Angel, to my abdomen (watching as I breathed in and out, I was wearing red, my power colour), to the commuters as they left the bus.  A police officer who was passing by stopped and asked the driver what had happened.  He bent down to talk to me.

What’s your name?

Liz

You fell?

Yeah

Even though I was still collecting myself  (I could only now feel blood tingling back into my fingers), I was beginning to feel stubbornly frustrated that I was only able to manage monosyllabic answers.

You two travelling together?

This time the question was directed at my Angel.  It occurred to me that I didn’t know where she had come from.  I couldn’t recall seeing her on the bus. 

No, I was walking by and I saw her fall

Her slight eastern european accent began to filter through, I noticed for the first time her ringlets of strawberry blonde hair and realised that the look of concern which I had first noticed about her hadn’t left her face.  I felt more tears slid down and drop onto my shoulders.  I heard the bus driver’s London accent again

They asked me how old you were

He waited for effect

I said 40

I felt a giggle escape from my body and then a smile.  I could hear sirens in the background.

Sirens? I get sirens?

The thought puzzled me and the moment felt immeasurably surreal.  I had heard plenty of sirens during my time  in London.  I never thought I’d hear them ringing through the city for me.  The police officer remarked

I think these are for you

Before adding with a reassuring smile

You’re getting well looked after – Police, Ambulance…

The ambulance arrived and one of the medics looked me over. All the while my Angel remained by my side, the last commuter left on the bus. 

You’re going to survive, we’ll just take you to the ambulance for a couple of small tests

She followed just behind me as I slowly made my to the ambulance.  I stopped at the ambulance door

Thank you

Those words seemed horribly inadequate

I wouldn’t have left you

Was her reply, her reassurance that I would have never had to pass through that moment in my life alone.  I felt tears prick my eyes again.  I had not before experienced such grace and kindness from a complete stranger.  I felt humbled by it.  Words failed me and it was the best I could do to say

Thank you.





Lizzie returns and the Battle of Britain

1 10 2010

Almost three months gone and no post…holy blogosphere Batman! But seriously, that is a long time between drinks. Rest assured that the silence on the blogging front wasn’t for a lack of material, but rather it was a lack of machinery that left me stranded in the blogging wilderness. After seven years my much-loved laptop is finally on its last legs. Until my last encounter with it I wasn’t actually aware that you could get the blue-screen-of-death so many times in a row. After the fourth blue-out I began to engage in that futile talk one feels they need to have with an uncooperative computer “Come on laptop, you’re overheated and so am I…either you start up, or blow up, which do you prefer?” While it didn’t blow up, it is now resting in a state of retirement.

Anyway, back to the business of blogging. Much has happened in the world of Lizzie. Some of the escapades, trails & tribulations of the past twelve weeks were enjoyable and others weren’t so much – some may end up as posts, while others are unlikely to become posting material.* However this post is one that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks and it would be remiss of me to let the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain to go by without commenting on it.

Seventy years ago the Blitz was raining down on London while the Battle of Britain was being waged in the clear late summer skies over the city and south-east of England.  I was twelve during the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and I developed an all-consuming interest in it.  This interest had been sparked by the movie (starring Laurence Olivier amongst others in a stellar cast).  When my Form Two teacher, Mr Sullivan, asked the class to do a project on something that interested them I chose the Battle of Britain.  Other girls chose to do their projects on horses and pro surfers – it was another moment in my school life that marked me out as a bit of a total nerd.  Not that I cared, everything about this battle fascinated me: the planes, the pilots and the personalities of those involved.  

Like many a spectator of history who finds themselves separated from the events that intrigue them by the passage of time, I’ve often wondered what this moment was like for those Londoners who witnessed it. This is especially true for me now as I have begun to consider London a home of sorts.  With all that was at stake, when those Londoners watched the dog fights raging above the familiar landmarks, could they distinguish between the men and the machines?  Between the pilots of flesh & blood who flew, and the machines of metal and armour that were flown? Hmmm, I think such a distinction might be a luxury of us spectators of history, who posses the ability of hindsight.  What I do know for certain was that amongst those Londoners was my Nana.  Too young to enlist, she joined the WAAF the following year.  As a spectator of history, this is as tangibly close as I will get to the actual event.  

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend I caught the second half of the Battle of Britain movie on TV.  It was a moment of serendipity, as it was quite possibly the first time that I had seen it in almost ten years.  Watching it through adult eyes brought home just how young some of the pilots were who were flying those planes.  As a twelve-year-old, a 22-year-old pilot sounded well, rather, old. Now, as a 20 something who is on the greater side of 30, a 22-year-old pilot sounds exactly like what it was – young.  

A similar moment of reflection had occurred earlier that day when I visited the Yorkshire village of Aldborough.  Ostensibly I had visited this village as it was built on the site of a Roman town and it had some Roman remains (which I did see while I was there).  However, amongst the park benches and maypole on the village green I came across the following plaque:

So, here is a moment to reflect on the men and women who had given their lives during this conflict, the preceding world war and all other wars that have followed.  To die young in these circumstances is to die too soon. Further, to die in the act of saving the lives of others exemplifies a selflessness that demonstrates the better side of our humanity and is something that is worth remembrance and reflection. 

*As I said, I’ve not been short of material, just means. While the value of this material (if one can put a value on words) is a moot point – I do wonder what the point of having a blog is if one does not actually post onto it one’s words. Hence the new tab, pieces of writing that are not exactly posts but are the end results of thoughts, feelings and experiences bundled into nouns and verbs.





shininglikeadiamond turns one

3 07 2010

About thirteen months ago I created shininglikeadiamond: a result of a curiosity about the blogosphere combined with the desire to write more.  I played around with the settings and set up of the blog for a while, read up about the ins and outs of the blogosphere and sat and chewed the end of my metaphorical pencil while I contemplated the topic of my first post.  Nothing came, and then the unexpected passing of Michael Jackson provided the spark my Muse needed to create my first post.  Twelve months later we arrive here, post number 20 and one year older.  I’ll admit that I haven’t written as much as I would have liked, and that’s something that I will rectify, but overall I’m pleased with shininglikeadiamond

Ideally I would have penned a post centered around this little milestone, but to be honest it kinda snuck up on me and I haven’t had the time to fully create the celebratory post that I would’ve liked to have written.  Instead, and in order to not miss the anniversary completely,  I offer a Lizzie update and birthday cupcake.

Last post centered around Bon Jovi concert number 4 of 12 at the O2.  I ended the post with

In the end, the concert was so enjoyable that I’m going back for the final of the twelve shows.*  Proof that you can’t have too much of a good thing – and that you should take all the opportunities there are to let out your inner Rock Chick.

Not a truer word has been written, heed the lesson my friends: always take the opportunity to let the Rock Chick out (or whatever musical form it may take).  Despite the fact that this concert clashed with the second of the two-part finale of Dr Who (thank you VCR) it was the right decision to go.  We were treated to not only a spine tingling Bed of Roses, but also a wicked set list (see the end of the post) which included a six song encore.  Jon and the boys were on fire when it came to energy and musicianship.  It was easily the best sixty quid I’ve spent this year, and totally worth a wait before seeing the Doctor in action. 

Update now out of the way, it is time for birthday cupcake.  If I haven’t mentioned yet that I worship at the altar of the culinary genius that is Isa and Terry, then I will now.  Isa and Terry rock, and if I could cook and bake like anyone else on this planet it would be them.  Needless to say the birthday cupcake came via the awesome Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and is the mighty yummy Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting.  Did I mention that there is also cocoa powder involved?  Oh yes, this recipe is a perfect ten. 

Not wanting to waste half a can of coconut milk, I also made some Chocolate Coconut Pudding from the ever faithful VWAV.  Seriously delicious pudding.

Now there is nothing left but to say many and sincere thanks to those who take the time to read my musings.  Here’s to another year.

Lizzie

x

Set list: blood on blood/we weren’t born to follow/you give love a bad name/born to be my baby/lost highway/in these arms/when we were beautiful/blaze of glory/captain crash/sleep when I’m dead/we got it going on/bad medicine w/ old time rock & roll (performed with Kid Rock)/lay your hands on me (Richie Samora)/bed of roses/diamond ring/I’ll be there for you/Saturday night/bullet/it’s my life/who says you can’t go home/keep the faith.

Encore: have a nice day/wanted/these days/it’s hard letting you go/I love this town/livin’ on a prayer





Super 14, Valentine’s Day and Birthday Cake

14 02 2010

The 2010 Super 14 season kicked off this weekend with the Blues hosting the Hurricanes, a match that ended with a particularly pleasing result.*  This Sunday was also Valentine’s Day, a yearly event that it seems one can’t avoid (no matter how much one tries).  I don’t really care for it either way, although I don’t particularly like that the build up for it starts while I’m still recovering from Christmas/New Year – to be reminded in the first week of January that Valentine’s Day is ‘soon’ is generally unwelcome!  However, timed as it is with the first round of the Super season, it does give me a reason to post the following little anecdote which is in part both rugby related and romantically themed (though totally of the fictional kind). 

A number of years ago, and unbeknownst to me, my brother and his partner decided to surprise me on my birthday with a special cake.  A few weeks before the appointed day we were sitting in our lounge when he asked me, rather out of the blue, “would you rather have a picture of Mum and Dad, or Richie McCaw?”  Slightly puzzled (and in search for a context that might clarify the question) I asked what the photo would be for, “no reason” was the reply “which photo?”  I thought about it – I didn’t need long to come up with an answer – “McCaw” I replied.  In moments of Bridget Jones-esque flights of fancy, I’ve concluded that he is one of the rare breed of men that constitutes the almost-perfect prospective son-in-law.  He plays rugby – my dad will love him, he flies a plane – my mum will love him.  This is something my brother knows well (as I may have made comments on a similar theme during various rugby matches).  So my answer was relatively straight forward.  Pictures of my parents I had.  “McCaw, definitely” I affirmed.  My brother smiled “I thought you might say that” and the conversation changed to another topic. 

A few weeks passed and it was my birthday.  After a celebratory dinner I came home to find a cake shaped box on the kitchen bench.  Despite still being rather full from dinner, I was well up for cake – after all it was my birthday and therefore indulgence is somewhat expected.  I lifted the box lid, expecting to see the usual suspect of a birthday cake, but was delighted to find something else adorning the cake.  As I opened the box I was greeted by none other than photo of McCaw staring back at me.  I may have squealed in delight and surprise  – I can’t remember.  Suddenly the purpose of his question became clear, “that’s why you wanted to know what picture I wanted!” I exclaimed, picking up and examining one of the rugby shaped candles which were dotted around the cake.  “Yeah” my brother responded, “when I went to collect it, the baker asked if it was for my younger brother” he paused and grinned “I said yes, yes it was – I didn’t know how to explain it was for my older sister!!” 

*Friday actually turned out to be a pretty good night for Wellington sport, as the Phoenix also won, securing a home semi-final in the process.  Massive congratulations for the team for that achievement!