Could do better: why we must set young minds free

October 22, 2014

Back to the chalk-faceIn the same week that my 16 year old son began assessing his options for subjects and sixth form colleges for next year, his 11 year old brother made a bold but flawed attempt to bunk off school, managing to duck away from the school bus and secrete himself in the local churchyard with his packed lunch and a plan to sit out the day under a bush.

The closeness of the school community and his older brother’s vigilance meant that his absence was spotted and reported within an hour; to his chagrin he was back in school for second lesson. But there were insights to be taken from this traumatic, if brief experience.

Read the rest of this entry »


Stories will lead us back to the forest

May 9, 2014
Stories yet to be written. Credit @fiona_veritas

Credit: @fiona_veritas

It’s been another long intermission, but with a heave of the creaky ropes and a squeak of the pulleys I hereby open the curtains on a new act for Vivid.

Since last writing here, there has been a time of false dawns and illusory summits; of horizons that came pleasingly into view only to be lost again in cloud. Of conflicting goals and wavering beliefs. On the surface it was no more than another period of indecision about future directions, brought on by a relentless and uninvited flow of leads and possibilities, each a distraction from the previous, and each, when it came to serious analysis, of dubious compatibility with my skills, resources and leanings.

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Pink pants, red herrings and life’s work

June 14, 2013

(or: More than my job’s worth, part 2)

The snickett where the pants lay.

Some weeks ago I made a decision. Except that it wasn’t me that was making the decision, I thought, it was the pants. They had been lying there, in the path, for probably more than a year. It’s a muddy, narrow path between hedge and houses; the route to school that I walk with my son every morning. A dozen parents had casually side-stepped the pants a thousand times apiece, perhaps not noticing them, perhaps embarrassed; but surely all, like me, wondering secretly: whose were they? How had they fallen off? Were they missed? Surely someone should pick them up. Should I pick them up?

Yet month in, month out, they lay there, unloved and ignored, covered in turn by summer dust, autumn leaves and winter snowfalls, exposed after every wind or thaw to reveal an ever more crumpled, downtrodden repose, their pinkness struggling to be heard beneath the deepening coating of mud and algae.

The day I decided to pick them up would be the day my life would change, I thought. The pants had called me. And if you respond to the call, the pants are yours. Read the rest of this entry »


More than my job’s worth

January 20, 2013

Cublicle lifeI’ve been thinking about jobs lately. For a while I even thought I should try to get one, freelance writing work having dwindled so dramatically. Admittedly, opportunities to work as a newsletter editor abound. Each that I have seen, however, pays precisely nothing. How droll, that when I am at last presented with an opportunity to use the longest word in the English dictionary, it is to describe the trade to which I have devoted half my working life, in conceding that the job of editor has succumbed to floccinaucinihilipilification.

But, enough levity. Read the rest of this entry »


On belonging

March 12, 2012

As this placeless world spreads, and as progress is increasingly defined as the ability to look out of a hotel window in any city and see the same neon-lit corporate logos, the most radical thing to do is to belong. To belong to a place, a piece of land, a community – to know it and to be prepared to defend it.
Paul Kingsnorth, 2004

I’ve been wondering about belonging. What is it? Is it important? Where can we get some? How do we hold on to it?Home

A decade ago I returned with my young family to live in the area where I had enjoyed my happiest childhood days.

I refamiliarised myself with the landscape, the trees and plants and birds and rivers, in all their colour and variety. I took the plunge into community activism. I made and renewed good friends in the area. It is a welcoming and beautiful place to live; I feel lucky to be here and generally content.

Yet I’ve rarely enjoyed a deep feeling of belonging. In my gloomier moments I can feel adrift, struggling to find any point of reference. Read the rest of this entry »


View from the inflection point

December 8, 2011

Greetings, dear reader (if there’s one out there). The time between posts is growing, a sign that the end grows nigh for Vivid, but I don’t yet have the heart to pull the plug. For one thing, I have one more exposition to get off my chest, promised months ago and very nearly ripe for delivery (it’s been a long gestation).

For another, I can’t resist the temptation to chip in and comment one last time on the state of affairs in the big wide world. Read the rest of this entry »


Update: new blog showing my nerdy side

June 17, 2011

This is a short note to anyone interested in permaculture or sustainable food production (I know there’s at least one out there!) to flag up another blog I’ve started, documenting my permaculture journey. It won’t be of interest to everyone but if you like pretty pictures of lettuces and straw bale buildings it might be for you!

Find it at Slow Worm.

Meanderings on belonging will be the subject of my next Vivid article, in the pipeline now.


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