Growing Old Disgracefully

As a woman in her forties and who can no longer use the excuse that I’m not old enough to know better, I’m going to come clean about something.

Basically, I no longer care what the world at large thinks of me.

This isn’t to say that I’m Sticking It To The Man (whatever ‘it’ might happen to be at that particular time). No. This is me saying ‘I defy your expectations of how a woman in her forties should look/act/exist’.

There have been a couple of things doing the rounds on social media: the first was an item written by some stripling of a child stating that women over 30 shouldn’t be seen wearing certain items. Amongst these were hoop earrings, just to give you an idea of how banal this opinion actually is. Myself, I have no need of hoop earrings, unless I’m planning on transporting parrots, but I get that other people like them. I recommend wearing them large enough to teach poodles to jump through, just to get at that so-called fashion writer.

To counter this, and much to my extreme amusement, an article appeared on my feed yesterday  which was headlined as ’24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear’. I recommend a look – here. Every suggestion is perfect.

But it got me to thinking that society has these ‘norms’ to which it expects us (and when I say ‘us’, I frankly mean ‘women’ to adhere at certain stages of our adult lives.

Aged 18-25? Why, you’re perfect as you are. You are the perfect demographic. Do what you like. Go where you want. Wear an old bin bag for all we care. The worst we can do for your demographic is to shake our collective heads and say ‘ah, the yoof of today’. But all our fashion articles, all our holidays, all our marketing is aimed in your direction.

Aged 25? You’re a quarter of a century old. Think about it. Quarter of a frickin’ century. Best start thinking about growing up now, because it’s a downhill slide to thirty from here. In fact, the next few years of your life will become consumed by the dread that you’ll no longer be a twenty-something. It’ll be the end of the world as you know it, because everyone knows that once you hit thirty, you’re Past It. (There’s that elusive ‘it’ again).

You are no longer relevant. You have moved, the gods forbid, into the next age group tick box!

When you reach the dizzying heights of 29, you’ve accepted your fate. Thirty, you say confidently, is the new twenty. This is all well and good and frankly I find it an admirable approach, but what you’re going to encounter is a subsection of society that immediate begins wearing Frank Bough style cardigans once they turn thirty. That same subsection that starts to go to bed early for no reason that’s what they assume ‘old’ people do. Those people will shake their heads at your tales of your wild night out, where you drank beer straight from the tap, or bounced on a kid’s bouncy castle in the rain, or played on your PS4 all weekend. Shame on you. Shame. You should have been doing the housework, or spending sixty hours in a B&Q trying to find just the right tiles for the bathroom, not going to Ikea and deliberately going the wrong way around the one-way system because it winds people up.

Partway through your thirties, you’ll undergo a repeat of what happened at 25. You’re nearly 40. FORTY, for God’s sake! What’s even the point of being forty? But wait! It’s going to be OK, you’ve got that Frank Bough cardigan that your friend got you for your thirtieth. Now you really have to knuckle down and do the things society expects of you. Maybe join the WI. Maybe consider buying matching coffee mugs and being really really proud of them. Because you’re in your forties. And here, my advice and experience of what societal ‘norm’ for my age group comes to an end, because it’s all new from here.

Truth is, I’m not long for my forties. Soon, that first number will be a ‘5’, and I no longer care about it. I just hope that I make the most of what time I’m actually given on this ridiculous planet.

For most of my thirties, I worried incessantly about being forty, but then it stopped. Because here’s what I realised.

Time is a constant. We can bemoan our mortality, but there’s sweet Fanny Adams we can do about it. No amount of creams or magic potions will stop the aging process. People have become so fixated on what the exterior is like that they forget, by the age of thirty five, to have fun. They let their insides rot away. They lose the ability to play, to imagine, and to enjoy the miracle of being alive.

There’s such a difference between being an adult and being grown up. Being an adult is a certainty. It’s a physical thing. We only measure it in years because that’s what society expects of us. Being an adult is knowing when you have to pay your bills, knowing when you have to sacrifice a holiday because the roof needs retiling, or giving up your hard earned cash to your offspring because you love them and want them to be happy. Being an adult is knowing when you need to be silly, to fill your life with love, laughter and ludicrousness. Being a grown-up is accepting your mortality and waiting, sternly, drinking tea from your matching mugs, whilst tutting at the state of your peers, who are rolling about in mud, dressed as fantasy characters and playing make-believe.

Being a grown-up is utterly dull and I want no part of it.

It’s my life. Those I invite on board the roller coaster are there because I want them. You don’t like the sudden drops, or the inversions? Then go play on the swings. This is my party. Happy to just roll with the world? Then welcome on board. Person who makes the best train noises wins this lollipop!

Caveat: I may have done some of the seemingly childish things on this list and I regret none of them.

Dear Mum (2015 Edition)

Dear Mum

And around it comes again. Fifteen years since we lost you, fifteen years that have gone by both in a rush and which have dragged. So many changes, so many good times, so many lows.

Life, they say, goes on after you lose someone and that’s certainly true. But the pain – whilst it may fade – never really goes away. When Jamie collected his GCSE results, when he did so well, I was heartbroken that you weren’t there to share in his success. I was sad that you will never get to meet him as he is now: a nice, sweet, kind young man with a wicked sense of humour not so far removed from yours.

I have been quite low these past few days with the build-up to today. I know it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy to make myself sad before the event, but I’ve woken up this morning and after a moment of reflection have realised that I’m actually OK today. OK doesn’t mean I don’t miss you, I miss you several times a day, every day. What I wouldn’t give for an opportunity to talk rubbish on the phone with you again. But I learned a long time ago that lingering on ‘I wish’ won’t help the healing process.

Struggling to find my Christmas head this year. However, as it’s… Today… the tree will go up tonight. I suspect that may help me locate some of my Christmas cheer. It’s for you. It’s always for you, and Jamie always insists on having that little fibre-optic tree you bought for him the year you died. He puts it up in his room and in his own words, ‘it’s like having a piece of Nanna with me’. For a boy who wasn’t even two when you died, that’s immensely touching.

This year’s not been without its highs and lows, but when you do an annual letter, you start to realise that’s not so unusual. I’m hoping it’ll end on a high, because I’m quite fed up of being sad. Some stuff happened over the last twelve months that’s really dented my sense of self-confidence and it’s a hard thing to come back from… but I’m trying.

Fifteen years.

Gosh.

But… I will put a smile on my face and work through today, as I’ve done every year since December 10th, 2000. For the people around me it’s just another day, and that helps to put things into perspective. But for this moment of heart-pouring, of letter writing and communication with memories, it’s just you and me.

Love you, mum. Always did, always will.

Happy Christmas!

 

Sarah

xxx

Sir Terry Pratchett – 1948-2015



It was my extraordinary privilege to meet Sir Terry Pratchett (or just ‘Terry’ as he was then) several times during the course of my late teenage and young adult years. Each one of those meetings was extraordinary for different reasons. Each memory of those meetings is precious, even more so in the wake of his death.


Not long after the publication of ‘Equal Rites’ Terry[1]  was signing copies at the local bookshop in Crawley. He was not really a household name at this point and a small trickle of people came up to him and got their books signed. I had read his previous works and in a twist of annoying fate, had purchased my copy of ‘Equal Rites’ a week before, down in Chichester whilst at college. Being an impoverished student, I asked him if he wouldn’t be offended if I got him to sign something else rather than buy another copy of the book. Honesty, I reasoned, was the best policy.


He laughed warmly and signed the only thing I happened to have at the time – the inside sleeve of a set of photographs I’d just had developed in town that day. We started chatting. Easily, without it being forced or in any way false, we discussed Discworld, my love of reading and writing and a plethora of other things.


‘Don’t start writing until you’re in your thirties or forties,’ he told me. He was like a wise Buddha giving me a life secret[2]. ‘Live a little. Have some Experiences.’ Terry Pratchett was the only person I ever met who could effortlessly pronounce capital letters.


Some years later, at the first ever Discworld convention, I met Terry again. I caught him at the bar when we were ordering at the same time. We exchanged a quick word – like you would – and I bought his drink for him. He was delighted. So was I. I don’t ever deny there was a bit of fangirling going on.[3]


Later on in the weekend, there was a series of short scenes acted out by various delegates from the books. Myself and a few others engaged in this wholeheartedly and we were assigned the ‘job fair’ scene from the beginning of ‘Mort’. But we were one character short. We needed someone to play the boy who gets selected to be the idiot.


In a rare moment of assertiveness, and on seeing a familiar hat walking through the door of the room where we were creating this theatrical masterpiece, I decided there and then that I would ask Terry if he fancied being an idiot.


‘You can’t do that!’ My companions were aghast.


‘Watch me.’


I could. I did. And with great joy at being involved, Terry put on a beret, rolled up one trouser leg and stuck his tongue out in Benny Hill style for our little scene. Somewhere, I have a photograph of that. I must locate it. It was stupendously hilarious. And rather than accept our gratitude for his involvement, he gave us his – for involving him and letting him have a moment to ‘give back’ as he put it.


The third meeting was when he, his wife and daughter were attending a performance of ‘Guards! Guards!’ when it had first been adapted for the stage. I don’t even remember where that was. Reading? Somewhere like that? Lovely little theatre and it was alarming to realise that the Pratchett family were sitting right in front of us.


There was easy joy in watching him laugh at words he had written himself and which were being brought to life with fantastic effect on the stage. At one point, he turned to his wife and said ‘Did I write that? I was on form that day!’ 


Every time I met Terry, he was warm and delightful. There was such wit and intelligence in his words and his observations. The cruelty of the illness that robbed the world of his talent was a nasty, spiteful irony. An embuggerance, even. But he didn’t give up. He never gave up. He fought against it. He raged against the machine. He championed the cause of assisted suicide. He gave so much of himself and his time and his talent to raise awareness and then… well, I can only assume that he simply outgrew this life. Wherever he’s gone, their lives will be enriched in the same way ours were.


It’s easy – and true – to say that he was – and will remain – one of the most inspirational people I have met during my lifetime. His long-ago words of wisdom, his willingness to participate in something verging on the ridiculous[4], his laughter at the sheer comedy of his own words left a great impression on me. I am immeasurably grateful for both the gift of his works and the pleasure of having met him those few special times.


I will miss him, but whilst I have his books on my shelves, he’s still there and he always will be.


His final Tweets, posted in the wake of his death by his assistant were both delightful, sad and very, very Terry.


AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.


Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.


The End.


Rest very much in peace, Sir Terry. And make sure you get that curry.

[1] I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me calling him Terry. If he does, somewhere he’s searching for a pointy stick with which to poke me.  


[2]A wise Buddha in a hat and with a devilish twinkle in his eye.


[3]At least it wasn’t like the first time I met Graham McNeill and utterly embarrassed myself with an unintended and yet decidedly mega double-entendre that sent me as red as a post box.


[4]Unlike a virgin on the ridiculous, which is something entirely different.

Dear Mum – 2014

Dear Mum

Well, here we are again. Another year’s gone by and if I’m honest, there’s not all that much that’s changed. You’re still not here and fourteen years later, that still makes me alternate between sad and angry. I didn’t sleep well last night; the wind was lashing the rain against the windows and I could only lie awake thinking of you. This means I’ve woken up feeling a little on the gloomy side. I have to spend a day at work and I’m fairly certain it’ll only take one person to observe that I’m ‘a bit quiet today’ for it all to come out. I’ll try not to, though, there’s a colleague who lost her own mum earlier this year in that same sudden way we lost you. It’s far more raw for her than it is for me and I try, at least, to be considerate.

What has happened this year that’s worthy of note? Well, I’ve had two more books published, including the Plantagenet one I mentioned to you last year, and another Space Marine tale. I’ve decided to take a writing break, though. I essentially wrote four novels back-to-back over a two year period and tying that in with a day job means I was pretty wiped out.

Ben and I went back to LRP this year. I still can’t get over the warm welcome – people’s genuine pleasure and kind words made me a little tearful. It was great to go back without the pressures of trying to please all the people all the time (when it’s a fact that when it comes to LRP folk, you can’t please any of the people any of the time). I had fun.

Jamie took his first GCSE in the summer: Core Science, for which he got an ‘A’ grade. I was pretty proud of him, I can tell you. He has the rest to look forward to in 2015; and he’s received his conditional offer of a place in sixth form to do his A Levels. He has plans to go to University and study biomedical engineering and I believe he will completely do that. He’s that type: sets his mind to something and *bang* achieves it.

He’s sixteen in February. Practically an adult.

I took up a twelve-month secondment which I started in September. I’m hoping wholeheartedly that it becomes permanent, because whilst my previous job was pretty enjoyable, this one is better suited to my skillset. However, it will be what it will be and in the current economic climate, it’s good to have a job at all. I’m grateful for that, and the fact that I can provide a roof over our head and feed us every week.

There’s been some bad stuff this year as well. None of it as bad as this day fourteen years ago: I consider that the benchmark for ‘bad stuff’, but some of it so hard to deal with that I cried for days. I’m still pretty sad over some of those matters, but I think I’m coming out the other side. The short version is that the lessons learned from various things that have happened this year are: I should learn to trust my instincts, I should say how I’m feeling sooner rather than later, and that there will always be people who don’t give a damn about how their behaviour might affect others.

Back to the good: we have good friends in Lincoln and we spend lots of time with them and they spend lots of time with us. I’m starting to think that, once Jamie goes off to University and I’m no longer tied to the North East, I might well start giving thought to a relocation. Again, it will be what it will be – the housing market isn’t exactly a seller’s place just now, but I’ve been in this house for ten years (this week!) and I know that my mortgage statement should be a pleasant surprise this year.

We’ll be putting the Christmas tree up later, the ritual of the last fourteen years that I have come to insist upon. I’ll pop by the supermarket and get mince pies and we have a bottle of mulled wine in the house. Tonight, I will remember you – although I do that all the time anyway – and be grateful for the fact I got to spend so many years with you.

For the first time in a few years, I’m getting a little bit teary as I write this. I think it’s probably my cue to stop and go to work. I will be thinking of you and missing you.

Always love you, mum.
Sarah

The Restless Dead – Part One

I should quit smoking.

​They were strange words to be thinking when he was running for his life down the river path, the pounding of his pursuer loud in his ears, but there they were. Random, pointless words that had absolutely no right being in his head. He should quit smoking. Because then, he wouldn’t feel as though there was a raging inferno burning in his lungs and he might – might – just be able to run that little bit faster.
​He could hear a variety of sounds behind him, each individual one conjuring up a greater overall vision of abject terror. His imagination, healthy and very active, thank you very much, had already gone into overdrive. And yet he knew. He knew categorically that the reality would be far, far worse. He wasn’t going to turn around to verify it though, oh no. He wasn’t going to fall for that old chestnut. He’d seen enough horror films to at least have an inkling of what he was doing. Turning around to see what was chasing you never ended well.
​The snarls that left his pursuer’s throat were wet in tone, made thick with drool and saliva. The sound of claws scrabbling against the dirt and stone of the rough river path most certainly belonged to massive paws. But probably the worst thing of all, the most horrendous contender for ‘noise of the night’ was the panting. It wasn’t the panting of a dog attempting to cool down. It was the panting of a creature hungering for his flesh, blood, bones and probably a few internal organs as appetisers.
​The moon, full and bright, disappeared behind a cloud and the river path fell into complete blackness. The sounds of pursuit slowed, all six running feet reducing their speed momentarily. Without the light of the moon, both hunter and hunted were temporarily blinded. The difference, the running man knew, was that he wasn’t gifted with a supernatural sense of smell. It wasn’t going to be him who adjusted to the new levels of light in the space of a few heartbeats.
​Adrenaline pushed past the screaming in his lungs and gave him a new burst of speed as he willed his legs to pump harder, to run faster, to carry him to safety.

​I really should quit smoking.

Six Hours Earlier

‘Afternoon, Mister Flanagan.’
​ Ed looked up from his newspaper and grunted acknowledgement. He looked back down for a moment, then realisation kicked in. He raised his head again and there was something almost pleading in his eyes.
​‘Dennis? It’s not that time of the month again already is it?’
​‘You really would benefit from a calendar,’ said the customer in a light, scolding tone. ‘Or get yourself one of these new fangled electronic thingies. An Orange, or a Banana. Some sort of fruit, anyway.’
The irony of you saying that…Ed coughed suddenly, not entirely sure that he had not just said that out loud. But his customer didn’t appear to be deeply offended and carried on with his little lecture. “I’ve heard that those electronic doo-hickeys do just about everything short of making the tea for you.’ Ed folded his newspaper and took his feet off the counter.
​He had seen four customers all day. Three of them had come in thinking he sold video games. He had briefly attempted to engage their interest in outdoor pursuits but that had resulted in the kind of looks that could slay nations. It had also invoked a slew of expletives that he had never known at that age. With the infinite patience of a man dealing with People Like That all the time, Ed pointed them up the stairs to the market. Then he returned to contemplation of the tabloid rubbish that so entertained him.
​‘Well, this is nice,’ said Dennis, taking one of the fly fishing rods from the wall and bending it to test its suppleness. He was a mild, unassuming-looking man. The sort of man who, in books, would likely be described as the type who wouldn’t say ‘hello’ to a goose – never mind ‘boo’. Receding sandy hair formed a near-halo around a high forehead and his myopic green eyes blinked at the world through thick glass lenses. He was heavily set, the evidence of too much enjoyment of pie and peas at the weekly darts matches he played.
​Ed knew Dennis very well. He was forty nine years old, married to an equally unassuming, yet remarkably angry woman called Barbara. He had two children. Ed didn’t know their names. Dennis had told him once, but he was so infernally dull that without really meaning to, whenever he spoke, Ed had sort of tuned him out. When Dennis spoke of his home life, Ed heard white noise.
​ Dennis flexed the rod a few more times, then put it back carefully on the rack. It teetered there precariously for a moment or two before promptly falling off. A second or two later, the others followed. They fell to the floor one at a time with a surprisingly loud noise until the carefully laid-out display was strewn across the dusty concrete of the shop floor. Dennis blinked down at the chaos he had wrought and took out a handkerchief. He removed his glasses and anxiously cleaned them. ‘Ah, sorry. Should I just…?’
​‘Don’t worry about it, Dennis. I’ll sort it.’ Ed unfolded from his lounging position and moved across to recover the fallen items. He was tall; lean and rangy with whipcord muscles honed from the hours of training he put in. Dennis blinked up at him, then perched his glasses back on his nose. He hesitated a moment or two, then spoke.
​‘I’ve got it, this time,’ he said, lowering his voice surreptitiously. ‘I know exactly what I need to catch the blighter.’
​‘You said that last month, Dennis.’ Ed grinned in a friendly sort of way. He knew, deep down, that he really shouldn’t humour the man, but he couldn’t help it. Dennis was so set on making the catch of his life. ‘And the month before that. In fact, you’ve said this to me every month for the past two years.’
​‘I mean it this time,’ insisted Dennis. He nodded sagely and peered up at the lanky Irishman. ‘But I’m going to need your help this time.’
​He took out a brown envelope from inside his tweed jacket pocket and slapped it down on Ed’s counter. There was a faintly triumphant expression on his face which lost some of its impact when the envelope knocked over Ed’s mug of tea. In a few brief seconds, the fishing flies that Ed had been tying that afternoon were swimming forlornly in a brown, murky puddle as though trying to attract some kind of lesser-known tea trout.
​‘Oh, I’m sorry… should I just…’ Dennis made a move as though he would clean it up, but Ed held his hand up to forestall him.
​‘No,’ he said, wearily. ‘No, Dennis, it’s alright. I’ll sort it.’ He picked up the envelope, saving it from certain tannin doom and peered into it. He pulled out the contents and studied them thoughtfully.
​‘Please tell me this isn’t the money you were putting aside for your second honeymoon, Dennis?’
​‘Of course not!’ Dennis was almost comical in his indignant rage. ‘Do you think Barbara would…’
​‘Dennis?’ Ed had a hard edge to his soft Irish brogue that was all business. ‘Is this the money you were putting aside for your second honeymoon or not?’
​The little man seemed to sag visibly. ‘Yes,’ he said, sadly. ‘It’s that money.’
​Ed shook his head and put the cash back into the envelope. There was a lingering sense of regret; he could have used the money, certainly. But he had limits and incurring the wrath of the terrifying spectre known as Barbara was way over the line. ‘I can’t take it. I’ve met your wife, Dennis, and of all the ravening monsters and terrors I could imagine, she’s by far and away the most unnerving. No.’ He put the money back in the bag. ‘Go on your second honeymoon, Dennis. Walk across the sand at sunset. Sip tropical punch beneath the shade of a parasol…’ Something faintly wistful came into his tone. Once, he had promised to take his wife to the Caribbean when he could afford to.
​‘I don’t know that you can get tropical punch in South Shields, actually, Mr. Flanagan.’ He paused. ‘Although, there is that new curry place. Maybe…’
​ Ed sighed and held his hand up again, forestalling another tangential diatribe.
​‘Tell you what, Dennis. How about we worry about the money later? And as for the tropical punch. Let’s not even go there. Tell me what your plan is, Dennis.’
​Dennis told him.
​In hindsight, Ed should never have asked. If he’d just said ‘no’, he wouldn’t, six hours later, have been running for his life along the banks of the River Wear.

All Work…

Well, this has been quiet for a while, hasn’t it? This is in part due to a combination of real life pressures, general apathy and a lack of anything remotely interesting to discuss. But there’s something that I was talking about yesterday that’s prompted me to write an entry.

First of all, as I’ve mentioned in passing on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I’ve decided to take a step back from writing projects for the time being. After writing four novels in less than three years, three of those practically back-to-back, I found that I was pretty exhausted. With a full-time job, a family and other external pressures, it’s been hard to throw myself into it as fully as I might otherwise have liked. So a rest is kind of welcome. I even sat there the other night reading a book for the pleasure of it and it feels like ages since I last did that.

I also returned to LRP this year and realised just how much I missed both the fun and the people and it’s that, in part, that I want to talk about in this entry.

I had a physiotherapist appointment yesterday and Greg, my very nice (and exceptionally brutal) physio asked if I had any energetic hobbies. So I said ‘Live Action Role Playing’ and, joy of joys, he knew what it was. For once, I didn’t have to try to explain it. I’ve heard people use all sorts of ways to try to summarise it:

1) Cross-country pantomime;
2) ‘Like paintball, but with swords and stuff’;
3) Lord of the Rings-style… thingy

For me, the phrase I prefer most of all is my own. ‘Let’s Pretend for grown-ups’.

I have long held to the belief that grown-ups should have playtime. When you are at school, they encourage that break from the grind to let you run around aimlessly letting off steam in whichever way you prefer. When I was at primary school, this ranged from playing ‘Red Rover’, or skipping, through to the summer joys of handstands, cartwheels and ‘British Bulldog’ on the school playing field. On quieter days, I loved nothing more than lounging beneath the beautiful big tree at the top of the field and creating pictures in the clouds.

At secondary school ‘playtime’ became ‘breaktime’ and once we hit thirteen or so, largely consisted of groups of Trendies gathering together in secretive knots that never untangled to let me in. For a handful of us misfits, bullied and awkward, breaktime meant freedom from the torment and a hiding in the drama studio where we picked scenes from plays and did little lunchtime readings. Or talking about the Trendies in the safe knowledge that the drama studio wasn’t a Cool Place to Be.

I remember well the games of ‘Let’s Pretend’ I had as a child, mostly played out with my neighbours-but-one, Darren and Lindsay. Over the years we created stories and characters of startling complexity when you look back at it. Sometimes we acted as characters from favourite films of the time, but mostly we just created our own characters. We were always a family, the two sisters and the brother. Our playground was the patch from the back path of our terrace down to the alleyway and it was variously an ocean, a mountain range, the plains of the Western USA… the year we slid into the farmer’s field beyond the copse and built a castle out of grass cuttings still lingers in my memory.
Now there’s houses being built on that field, just as there are houses on my old school playing field. My tree is still there, though, and that gladdens me.

When you become an adult (according to the conventions of society), and enter the world of work, you get a lunchbreak. You usually take it at your desk whilst still working. Sometimes, I gaze out of my window at the clouds. I still paint pictures in the sky. (As I type this, there’s an elephant out there). What happens to playing?

Those of us who engage in roleplaying games of any kind, tabletop or MMO or LRP are given a connection to our creativity that is horribly stifled in adults. I had missed the freedom of being someone else for a few days, not just in thought, but in action and body. Sarah would never dream of being as adventurous and daring as Morwenna Kerrow turned out to be. Sarah would never have thought she could stand in a ritual circle and be a part of an exceptional success ritual for which the preparation was ‘we need to do this ritual, off we go’. But Morwenna didn’t think twice. Sarah would never have put complete trust in a strange priest of an unknown heritage. Morwenna didn’t think about anything but her drive to obtain a greater understanding of the world.

It’s an escape of the best kind: a freedom. An unspoken acceptance amongst like-minded people. A playground.

I still firmly believe that if workplaces had playgrounds, the grown-ups would be out there on the hopscotch in a flash. There’s all these soft-play centres for kids opening up in industrial units, where are the soft-play centres for adults? I’d go. And I bet most adults, if given the chance, would do the same. (Case in point – adults on bouncy castles. ‘Nuff said).

Why does society expect us to just switch off the need to play? Well, guess what, society? I’m pinging an elastic band in your face.

(The elephant-cloud’s gone. There’s a giant lobster up there now).

So… go outside and play.