Signed GPJ

GPJ

My Grandpa died almost twenty years ago. I remember the date because it was the day after my 12th birthday. Most of my primary school classmates were away on a residential trip, but I’d chosen not to go (an introvert even then) and so there were just a few of us left.

Later that week the headteacher – the perfectly named Mrs Spankie – came into the classroom, placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, and told me I’d won a national competition for my project on Robert Burns.

I have never liked Robert Burns. Continue reading

There is going to be a wedding

marriage

There is going to be a wedding.

This July, back on the island where I was born, my oldest, closest childhood friend will exchange Miss for Mrs, although in true Scottish fashion she already shares a surname with the man she is due to marry. She was my bridesmaid, almost seven years ago, and I’m honoured that she has asked me to do the same.

What a joyful celebration it will be. I can imagine already her shy smile, her graceful walk, the radiant light in her eyes. I know there will be giggles as she and her husband try to steady their shaking hands for long enough to ease on golden bands. Continue reading

Internships: just for the young?

spiral bound notebook

Internships are wasted on the young.

Or maybe they’re not. Maybe it’s just that mine was wasted on me.

How I look back now and wish I’d taken more advantage of the opportunity. I was 21. I applied on a whim, scrabbling together a last minute CV, and was stunned to be invited to an interview. That meant a day away from my full-time but unpaid summer job as an arts reviewer at the Edinburgh Festival. I took the 5am train down to London, the 4pm train back, arriving in Scotland just in time for my publication’s launch party.

In between train journeys I spent several hours in the offices of a national newspaper, along with a dozen other wannabe hacks. First we were just observed as we sat and chatted, not realising it was part of the screening. Next we were given a marker pen and a copy of the paper to scrawl on. ‘Tell us what you’d do differently,’ they said. I circled the headlines. ‘Too small to be effective signposts on the page,’ I wrote. Finally we were paired up and had to interview each other – ten minutes to talk, then twenty minutes to turn it into a publishable piece. That bit was easy. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Everyone has a story.

Continue reading

My Word for 2014

Compass street art

Since my dear friend Emily – The Startup Wife – introduced me to the practice a couple of years ago, I’ve taken a morning or an evening every December to complete Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year workbook.

It’s a very worthwhile activity. Susannah challenges you, in the gentlest way possible, to look at the year that has just passed and reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, and what you’ve learned about yourself and others along the way.

You then take time to think about the year ahead and what your dreams, hopes and ambitions are, as well as noting any obstacles you expect to face and considering how you might overcome them. To tie all that together, you choose one word to keep in mind and inform your actions throughout the year – an overarching theme for everything that follows.

Continue reading

DorkyDad’s Last Transmission From London

The movers are here now.  I type this against the background chatter of ripped masking tape and heavy cardboard boxes being assembled by rough, experienced hands.  Tonight this flat will be empty save for two beds and the three of us.  In just under 60 hours the plane will lift off from Heathrow, bound first for Dubai, then on beyond to Melbourne.

We are away to Tasmania. Continue reading