Today the British government has announced that by 2020, the UKwill take in up to 3,000 more child refugees. (Although, this announcement also contains the (frustrating) caveat that those who have already reached Europe will be excluded from the new initiative).
My fear is that these children will be so deeply traumatised, so broken by the horrors they have witnessed, that they will carry their wounds in places of quiet agony, affecting their emotional, psychological and in many cases, physical, development.
Not that I don’t welcome these children with a desperate surge of maternal passion that is quite foreign to me. Not that I would want the UK to take any less or to be any less involved. It’s just that I can’t get my head round the atrocities that these children may have witnessed. I can’t conceive of how they will communicate their loss, their grief, their horror and their fear; things that feel impossible to communicate ev
en as an adult, familiar with Western patterns of interaction and with a sound knowledge of the English language.
I want to help. I want to teach, or counsel, or care for or SOMETHING. Just something.
There’s a more than a little irony in the immediate cacophony of internal noise that is triggered by the word ‘quiet’. I hear my dad’s ‘story voice’ reciting Merton’s When we Two Parted‘ against a background hum of ‘Silence is Golden’. A memory of a most beautiful place stirs sleepily and I feel the haze of Burgundy sunshine, lagoon like pools and the muffled sounds of people’s reflection at The Source.
Quiet. A concept known to all. Heralded as a panacea, a state of the soul, a level of consciousness, a discipline, a practice, a revealer, a healer, a sedative.
Yet. Quiet. Used as a weapon, a punishment, a cop out, an ally, an accomplice, a collusion.
Quiet. The absence of noise, yet, the stillness within sounds.
I was going to go for something more profound but really, an olive IS a pretty important thing. As I have a particular adoration for them, I did a little research.
The following fascinating facts I’m about to share will undoubtedly convince you of the Importance of Being an Olive.
Firstly, I’m willing to bet that you had no idea that the edible olive seems to have coexisted with humans since the Bronze Age. That’s around 5 to 6 thousand years. We should know each other pretty well.
Second, we’re not exactly forward in appreciating the health properties of the olive. The ancient Greeks used to smear olive oil on their bodies and hair as a matter of grooming and good health. Greasy Greeks are in good nick.
The oil of the olive (considered a fruit btw) also has a long established reputation of being sacred. Used to anoint kings in ancient times (and athletes, oddly) it was also used to burn in temples and fuelled the original Olympic torch, the ‘eternal flame’ (not the one that The Bangles referred to).
Lastly, the sanctity of the olive and its role in religious traditions is something appreciated in both Christianity and Islam, featuring 7 times in the Qur’an and countless times in The Bible. If only we could all focus on the humble olive.
I didn’t imagine I’d ever find myself writing about olives but now I’ve dipped into it, I could well go on to become the world’s leading expert, and write prolifically about this remarkable little fruit. Olives, it turns out, are a rather understated part of world history and civilisation as we know it.
Absolutely NOTHING will pop up in my head when I try to think of an ‘N’ to write a short, imaginative and captivating post about. Why it is that I am so wholly devoid of inspiration I don’t know. It’s possible that a pervasive tiredness bears some responsibility, that and the illness I have tends to hijack the parts of my brain that might be otherwise creatively engaged.
So N is for Nihilism. For the philosophically uninitiated, this is the belief that the world and everything in it, life, values, morals, laws… are meaningless. There is no POINT to anything, nothing has any meaning.
Macbeth sums it up beautifully when he says:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
It’s a painful thought; one which challenges the my Christian faith on a daily basis at the moment. It would be so much easier to believe that life really is just a brief candle which is eventually snuffed out to burn no more. Perhaps owing to the extremist tendencies of Anorexia, nihilism stalks me daily, lightly running cold fingers through my hair. Death-coated whispers trickle through the aural canals, trembling tiny bones and dizzying my stance.
Turns out I have something to write about after all.
It’s what I’m good at, and you honestly won’t hear me use that phrase very often.
As the official leader of The Society of Burnt Out Teachers, I nowadays realise that although my passion for teaching English and English Literature will never waver, the transference of my enthusiasm doesn’t have to be within a classroom. No. In some ways, it’s easier to deliver it within a mentoring relationship. Because, as most good teachers will agree, at a certain age, its RELATIONSHIP which is the single most important factor in the delivery of successful teaching.
Mentoring allows a relationship to flourish (hopefully) and then, once established, it’s an open landscape on which, as a trusted mentor, you can help to build whatever scene and whichever structure, will most benefit and satisfy the mentee.
I’ve mentored a lot of your people, before and during my teaching career. Nothing sparks me like being able to nurture an ambition in someone. I love to help breathe hope into other people’s hearts. Nothing gives me a renewed sense of purpose like showing someone else their purpose.
Lighting. – I did a little post mentioning my love of the softer season’s evening lighting but I’m also mad about LAMPS! I have a growing collection of the weird, the wonderful and the beautiful!
Longfellow – The beauty of his words very often nearly drives me over the edge!
Lakes – Particularly the deep blue pools in the Pyrenees
Licorice-I’m quite mad for the stuff! It has to be hard – tear – with- your- teeth licorice. The sort that you can buy in little bags… cuttings…
Learning- I’m fascinated by the world and it’s people! Sometimes I wonder why we/I bother to research something,my tendency towards nihilism creeps in. Then I realise that I have a genuine love of knowledge and of learning. And sometimes it’s okay to do something for its own sake.
Lemon – Generally love lemons!
Literature- I couldn’t live without it. Oh… and Languages… I love to learn new words in any language. I’d like to be fluent in all the European languages,ancient Greek, Arabic and Latin!
Hmmm… Overall, L is looking kinda like a lame excuse for a post.
Despite German company, Haribo making their first gummy bear in 1922, they didn’t hit the US market until the 80s. I assume that it must have been even later getting to the UK, which explains why I don’t recall them being here when I was growing up.
When I was young, I thought that it was only kids that ate sweets. Adults were WAAAAAY beyond all those sugary jellies. Chocolate; sure, chocolate was different because there were obvious degrees of something like choco-sophicstication… Which explained how it was that whilst we kids dribbled and drooled over Milky Bars and Animal Bars, the grown ups could nibble sensuously on a Cadbury’s Flake and eat things like After Eights in a bubble bath.
So it is, that nearing 40, I am still waiting for that crucial, transitional moment, when I can look at a strawberry shoelace, or a bag of Tangfastics, with a sense of disgust.
Deep down, I just want to be a grown up with a penchant for 80% cocoa, fairtrade, dark chocolate made from hand selected beans grown in sustainable developments in deepest darkest Ecuador. Instead, I go mad for a jelly fried egg, and sometimes crave a cola bottle.
Now. apologies for ending a lighthearted post on a downer, but in keeping with the confessional nature of my H post, I must admit that I can rarely allow myself the delights of any of it, as my choices nowadays are generally (and spitefully) governed by Anorexia Nervosa. Bastard illness.