Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for December, 2006
So, here we are, tumbling rapidly into the next year of the New Millenium, and what are “we” about to do? Kill Saddam Hussein. Very sensible. Very grown up. Very 21st Century. Very “let’s not learn any lessons from previous experiences”.
I confess to be somewaht staggered by the notion that that is as good as it gets. Kill Him. Now.
I have been reading a lot of History. Particularly that period during the reign of Henry 8th and all that followed his break from Rome. The only difference I can see between then and now is that we have a bit of technology that the 17th Century did not have. They burned heretics. here, they get mass slaughtered by coward blowing themselves up because they want to shag in Heaven. What is different? What has changed?
I can see a Muslim State on it’s way. I think it will happen in France first, then the EEC will pass it as law for the whole of Europe. Oh joy. Instead of a choice of Turban or not it will be “to burqua or not to burqua”.
I cannot wait. I think I have gone off Religion totally. Let’s all be spiritual instead. No rules, just Birkenstocks and lots of incense.
This applies both to Chriatmas and to the shop. We moved out on Christmas Eve. Four hours of solid labour. People still coming in to buy even though it was all laid on the floor, which was encouraging, but it was a great sucess. I learned lots and we sold well.
The General Public are an interesting group when out alone. Sometimes very rude, other times totally charming. Occaisionally very amusing, other times really interesting. We had a full mixture of all the different types and I enjoyed them all. I go towards the new shop much more positive, and still somewhat dazed by how well the clothes sell.
I am gaining increasing confidence from this reality and am looking forward to the whole designing expreince later this week.
Christmas was great. We had a good day. There was the perfect amount of presents, all of which have been given a run-through and played with thoroughly. The sitting room floor looks awful, but that is OK. We had a modest but delicious lunch and relaxed into card games in the afternoon.
I feel as though I have found a formula for an acceptable Christmas Experience. The number of presents, the food eaten, the course of the day. I want to write it down and put it somewhere safe, but of course I will not find it again…… Maybe it was a one-off.
I have managed to bite my tongue for the last few weeks at all the Christmas trees everywhere, and we will not be here to see them leaning, exhausted, against lamposts and dustbins all over London. I am grateful that a family event was not included in the experience and know that this lack went a long way towards the total pleasure of the whole thing. We did not have to sit on the edge of the meat frenzy and eat quiche.
So now begins the fun of packing for India.
We are now the proud owners of a long lease on a shop. How great.
We went there yesterday, to collect the keys and to take measurements. It has always been full of builders and builders things, up to now, so it was great to see it clean, painted and empty. Very exciting.
Now the fun starts.
I refused to think about it during the noght yesterday. In fact it was not such a great battle as it has been over the last few nights. I think that now it is done it have become softer and easier. It was the build-up to that reality that was giving me the jitters. I got lots done yesterday afternoon. Telephone. I don’t know what I did, but BT answered after two rings and it was a human. I was rather startled and took a few moments to gather my thoughts. They did a credit check on me there and then. Rather an uncomfortable wait. From there, or whilst on the phone to BT, I found carpet for the office and tiles for the shop. I have a painter doing a quote and we already have most of the fittings. So it is good.
My husband woke me from a great dream this morning. I was flirting with John Travolta. If I was going to flirt with anyone, it would be him, by the way, but to be woken so cruelly…. Actually John had just told me that he loved his wife. So, hey, you win some, etc, but it would have been too complicated with the shop as well.
My Indian drawer is filling up rapidly. I cannot remember if Indian plugs are flat or round. Advice, please. We are all taking the homeopathic remedies for typhoid etc. We have our visas, car is booked.
Just have to get through Chrismas.
I never celebrated Christmas until having children. I do sometimes wish I could presuade them to pass it up, too. But I know I would be mean and horrid if I did so. We have to move out of the shop on Christmas Eve. We will be four of us, so it should not take too long, but still, I am not enthralled by this reality. One more person would make it a breeze. At the moment it is a windy experience.
I had to walk most of the way back from Chelsea yesterday. I really enjoyed the walk. I love the cold, especially when being brisk. It was crispy and foggy and perfect. We had a great Kirtan session and all sang carols as well as mantra. The children were, as usual, fabulous. It is a great thing, a Kirtan session in the house. It makes everyone feel elevated and gives a good energy around the building.
We are waiting to hear about the lease on the shop going through today. It is somewhat stressful, as a period in my life. Reality is interesting. Living sober and not drowning any feelings makes it all rather huge. I find I am woken in the mornings around 4am by the dogs and I just lie there thinking. My usual skills at turning it all off are currently unavailable. I don’t really like uncontrolled thinking any more and look forward to the reality of have a shop rather than the early morning jitters.
Once we hear today we will go down there and do whatever it is one does to make it our own. I am Oh, so looking forward to that part. Life in Balham….
Otherwise India looms. I need to take time to really think about the trip. What we need, not just to take, but to buy. Such fun.
I took my son to see We Will Rock You the other night. He is 8, and loves Queen. It is amazing how it transcends all ages, their music and their energy. We had to park far away and walk all the way up Charing Cross Road at high speed as the Christmas traffic was awful. He was great. No fear, he kept p with my pace, holding my hand all the way, looking at everything we passed. When we finally sat in our seats he struck up a conversation with two Northern women next to him. The show started late, and as the curtain went up and the lights went down, for some reason I turned around and saw Brian May walking in. The guitarist.
I was very excited. At the interval I took Louis to the hospitality room and asked a large bouncer if he would say I was outside. I had to be rather insistent, but eventually he went in and came out beaming. We were ushered in and offered Crystal Champagne and sweets. We declined. Brian was as charming as ever, Louis had huge eyes and we left autographed and happy. It was a perfect treat.
The show was unexpectedly great. The energy was wild, but the sadness of Freddie dying was still really palpable.
I get very upset about HIV and AIDS. A friend is really suffering at the moment and it seems such a cruel way to live. And then thoughts about all the people who have died and who could still be alive if they had had medication. Seeing images of Africa and the HIV and AIDS scourge, I find really awful. I can be in tears when I think about it, but it is such a helpless feeling. I get so upset about the drug companies and the money at stake, about the medication that could be given to save millions of lives, and nothing is done because no one will pay for it.
Any negative feelings I may have ever haboured about Bill Gates were dissolved immediately when he made the foundation and gave all the money for research. It was like a sigh of relief.
I am increasingly aware of how we always need a baddie. Someone always has to be the scapegoat. Yesterday, a conversation about Googe. How awful they are, then went onto how awful Amazon are, the Blair, then Bush. It was interesting to see that there are always certain people who attract the energy of being baddies, no matter what they do. Google and China. An interesting dilemma. Blair in Bhagdad. Terrifying, I would imagine. No matter how many big chests stood around. A conversation recently with someone who shall remain nameless, about AIDS in Africa who thought it was the women’s fault for saying yes to so much sex. An interesting ppooint of view, and Oh, so eay to get right out of my pram about, and also Oh, so easy to make them the baddie, considering my feelings on the topic.
On a lighter note, the shop is doing well. We are edging closer and closer to signing the lease on the new one. My life is about to alter drastically. Chrismas is coming and thoughts of what to eat on the day have not yet entered my head. I can just see a 4am trip to Sainsbury’s looming. How awful. There, another baddie.
An interesting thing is happening. I feel as though I am becoming another person. Sitting in the shop, running the shop, smiling and organising it, re-stocking and tidying is a pleasure, thus far. Unexpected but true. I like the discipline of it. I like the stillness and the separation from the usual speed and intensity of my daily routine. Lunch is still an issue, but I persuaded my husband to come and help me move the shop around yesterday and he brought me a tiffin. Great.
Otherwise, another year is nearly over and that takes me closer to 47. That occured to me yesterday. It must be strange for my mother to see me age and make her feel older. I had never really thought about it much until yesterday. I don’t really have a fear of 50, yet, but I know it is getting closer and closer and 47 is a lot closer that 46. I am white haired and have the usual lines, but I know that once I start watching my children age it will intensify my own experience of it. I think in this last year I have felt the sensation of peaking. As though now I am going down the hill, no longer up it. I have passed the half-way point in my life. I always felt I will live to be very old, so 46 seems about half way. That gives lots of space to do many more things. Rather an exciting thought. But I am letting go of the idea of being an undertaker. I truly cannot see myself doing it, which is sad, as it has facinated me for years. But there are other, brighter things still waiting to be explored.
We had an evening of Yogis here last night. It was delightful and amusing. There was lots of laughing, but also moments of reall bliss. We did a fantastic meditation at the end to a piece of music that I know really well, but had never truly heard before. I was transported completely and have much respect for the musicians. It was a delight.
Otherwise the years is tumbling to an end. Will there be a huge finale or just a small squeak? I love the news recently that the chances of a terror attack before Christmas are extremely high. That will really help the economy. That will really get people out in their droves to buy presents and generally make merry. I know they still go out, but it always seems to be in search of oblivion rather than for pleasure and delight.
I would like a survey done as to how many people are aware of the climate of fear that is wrapped around us every day. The statistics on CCTV are truly frightening. The number of new offences created by labour now means that we are a nation of potential hooligans at every turn. There is no espcape. Our every move, moment, action is watched. And who are the sad shits who sit there and trawl through it all? There must be swathes of people out there who did not get enough love somewhere that now all they are is traffic wardens and people who monitor CCTV cameras outputtings.
We were discussing the joys of maintaining class numbers as a yoga teacher last night. Maybe teaching traffic wardens compassion could be a calling for some. Or pelvic floor exercises to suicide bombers to ground them ito this existence. I have, in moments of absurditity, tried to imagine how you brainwash someone into believing that hundreds of smiling virgins are lying in wait for them in heaven if they blow up a load of unbelievers. That must be quite a sales talk.
Horrid, I know, but these things must be thought about. We are all headed to oblivion of some sort or other. It just depends on the semantics of the words. What do you beleive in? Is watching other people living their lives enough, and that is not just on CCTV, that is also on TV. Big brother. Celebrities in their emryonic stages, showing their arses, metaphorically, and becoming stars because they do. Charming. Or Utube. Become famous just because you are on the computer screen.
The whimper of another year ending. May be the bang, if there is one will wake us all up. A good shaking is needed. The numbness is scary.
This is all new to me. I think I am doing quite well, but lunch is totally thwarting me. I cannot find anything I want to eat from the myriad of cafes and restaurants in the locale of Northcross Road. I am a princess, I know, and am used to eating a big lunch, and having little that is vegetarian on offer other than sandwiches or hummous, both of which I do not like, is proving tiring and tiresom.
It means I either starve. Something I have never been gifted at. I am unable to get high off being hungry. Oh my God, I truly wish I could. If it were so I would not be the pneumatic me that I am.
The only other option is to get up really really early and make myself something. I can see now, where my daughter gets her fussy eating from. I can see where my fantasies about personal chefs come from as well. I will ponder this problem whilst asleep and if I wake up early enough tomorrow, can start the joy of cooking really early in the morning.
Otherwise it is fine, being a shop keeper. I am responsible, I open, I smile, I tidy and I think. I am getting a calm, zen-like thing happening, rather like waiting in the wings on a film set, or travelling long distances. Just letting time move past without being too attached to it’s destination. I started a book today. Called Waterlog. A story of a man swimming across England. Slow and painstaking. It suits being in the shop really well. That is what it feels like. The repetitions, the ceremony and the ritual. All new and shiny now, but they all need to be kept polished.
I was talking with Miranda, from Dulwich life today, about having been a body painter before and how different this was, but in looking up and round me, I thought it was not really so different after all. Much was the same; decoration, adornment, colour, texture, themes, a beginning, an end. It is just more permanent, one has more time to construct. It lasts longer and is all around rather than focussed on one body. Interesting.
Life is busy, the shop is quiet.
It makes for realxing days, sitting getting thoughts cleared and new ideas worked out, but can be a trifle tiresome. I love meeting new people. Everyone is different. everyone reacts differently, wants different things…… always makes for an interesting time. When there is no one it is rather sad and quiet.
I know when we are in Balham it will have the office there and life will be different, more things to do, internet, orders, other people, but in Dulwich it is the bottom of a handbag, and not much happens.
Funny how long it took me to discover Dulwich. It was not until I had children that I really got what it is about. Now I am there almost daily. I am intrigued to see what is going to happen whent he next wave of congestion charging comes in. I can only think that small streets like Lordship Lane and Northcross Road will thrive. We shall see.
I really don’t get what the delightful Mayor is doing to London. It is now hell to move around and the pleasure of travelling has dissappeared completely. But there just has to be a great reason for channelling all those deeply pressured people into narrow files of almost static traffic and then fining them for venturing onto the miles of naked, empty, silent bus lanes, unless of course you are in Camberwell where all buses go to die. Camberwell is the equivalent of an elephant graveyard. All buses, bus lanes, roadworks, traffic lights and total hideousness.
I have stopped. I am calm. I only have to drive to Dulwich today which needs a two mile detour because they have closed the main road through and everyone has to negotiate a single track through the wilds of Bellenden to get the other side. Such fun.
I do so look forward to going away……
And what am I going to? India. Total insanity. But it is easier because there is chaos, and it is so much more user friendly.
We had a great palmist here for the day yesterday. There was a stream of visitors both temporal and etheric. It was great fun and we will do it again. He has a real gift and is very generous with it. Everyone who saw him was elevated and enthused to move towards higher paths in their lives. Always a good thing, and to have those paths shown to you as existing in your being, therefore truly possible and do-able is a big encouragement.
The house is chaos. I am astounded by the mess. I did not know I could make quite so much of it. I have to really separate from it because I find it affects my thinking. How I will every really tidy up is a mystery, but perhaps when we off-load everything in to the larger new shop we can create the illusion of space.
I sat with a friend in the shop all day on Sunday and went through all the wholsale catalogues for shop fitting and office equipping. We ticked many boxes and circled all manner of fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Scoured IKEA for anything remotely attractive and servicable and put the whole lot down at 4pm and left for the day. Yesterday a friend was closing her shop in Battersea. Baptiste and I bought the most amazing amount of shopfittings, office equipment, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, racks, rails, hangers……… for a great price. I feel very ecological about the whole thing, and found myself growling at the shaved heads and rounded bellies of the men selling the sad Christmas trees on the side of the roads around London. They all look like they have been out knicking the trees with stolen chainsaws, lopping off the tree tops in th emiddle of the night whilst waiting for the deluded pheasants to eat drugged raisins and pass out so they can knick them too and it is a double whammy. Shocking. I know I should not say these things, but it is true. If it was a small cheery elf selling the trees, wearing bright red tights and rubbing cold hands it would be different. I might even begin to believe the whole thing but I am unconvinced by leery men with shaved heads making a fast buck at the expense of the planet. Even more amazed by all the people who buy the trees……..
Of course I, too, hit snags. Bananas being one of them. Personally, i don’t really like them. I will eat them if I am desperate, or in India where they are exquisite and local. I buy kilos of bananas a week. Everyone else in the family thinks nothing of several a day. I know it is not ecological. Avocados. 22 litres of water a day! From spain where the country is laid waste by intensive agriculture practice. These things are not right but I balk at going all the way. So I have to curb my judgementalism. One day,…..