Share Your World: 27 July 2020

Are you a clean or a messy person?

Hmmm… If the question is are you clean or dirty, then the answer is most definitely clean-ish, but I believe a little bit of dust here and there now and again never hurt anyone.And if the question is are you tidy or untidy, then I probably sit comfortably about the middle of the continuum. I’m certainly not a minimalist when it comes to personal possessions so I like to have my things around me with a place for everything and everything in its place, and being surrounded by such clutter doesn’t necessarily count as ‘tidy’ to minimalist neat-freaks 🙂

If I asked you to describe yourself in five words, what would they be?

Daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, me. I remember years ago taking part in a small personal development training session as part of a management team where coincidentally I was the only woman present, at that time a young single parent working mother of three small children. We each had to write down ten words describing who we were, and these were discussed in the group afterwards. Almost all of the men had included at least eight out of ten words that were individually descriptive of specific traits or characteristics they valued whereas about seven out of ten of mine were linked directly to naming my relationships with others. I remember the significance of the gender difference being remarked on by everyone, but for me it was an honest response. I was born and brought up at a time when women were legally second-class citizens, long before the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, which has inevitably shaped my early identity and in many ways still shapes how I think of myself today.

Do you enjoy being out in nature?

I love being out in nature, walking by water or through woods or spending time in my garden, and just generally being outside in the fresh air and warm sunshine. But I like being indoors at night, tucked up safe and sound in my own comfy bed.

What could you spend all day talking about?

Nothing. I’m an introvert at heart, and much as I love being in company at times I also enjoy having some extended periods of solitude and silence in my day. Even the thought of talking all day exhausts me.

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Share Your World: 1st June 2020

Is it ever OK to commit a crime? Please explain.

Sigh! This is me answering, so as usual for these kinds of question expect a convoluted ‘it depends’ response! If we agree that committing a crime is breaking a law, then the assumption is that the law being broken will be fair and just for all. And yet the world over, countries have laws that are anything but fair and just for all.

One hundred years ago Suffragettes broke the law here in the UK when protesting against women being denied the vote. Right up until 1967 otherwise perfectly innocent gay men in the UK were saddled with criminal records simply by loving people in a way the law said was wrong. Girls and women here had millions of back street abortions before the law changed, also legalising abortion in 1967.

So to get to my answer – if the law in question protects one set of people over another, is deliberately set out in a particular way in order to frustrate, discriminate and disenfranchise and to maintain a particular status quo that reeks of social inequality throughout the entire societal structure and hierarchy, then in my book, in absolutely extreme situations where all else fails, damn right it’s OK to commit a crime if that’s what it takes to highlight and try to change said social inequality once and for all.

Do you deal with change well?

Yes and no… I like to have routine and ritual in my life, but then I also like to shake things up a bit from time to time when stuff starts to feel a bit stagant.

Do you like birds? The sound of birdsong in the morning, taking pictures of them, as food?

Birdsong – absolutely. Bird pictures, not so much – but if I ever got myself a good telephoto lens that might change. Food – yum! Chicken is my absolute go-to favourite, duck and goose not so much, Game birds – no thanks, the meat is just too strong for me.

What’s the least-used item of clothing you own?

I have a beautiful long black bias cut velvet dress I bought in a sale once for really silly money (ie genuinely an absolute bargain!).

I know everyone is supposed to have a Little Black Dress that sees them through every eventuality, and although I’m not a very smart-dress person I actually own three black dresses along three different levels of formality, for different occasions. One is an above the knee black lace skater-style party dress, one is a below the knee plain ‘interview and funeral’ dress, and the other is the more formal floor-length velvet number.

The party dress gets worn very occasionally – I’m really not a party animal – and the interview and funeral dress gets worn as necessary, but to date the beautiful velvet dress has never yet been worn. But it hangs dutifully in my wardrobe just incase I ever need it… 🙂

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Share Your World: 18 May 2020

What’s something you really resent paying for?

Honestly, I really resent that we have to pay through the nose every year for a US-tax-qualified accountant here in the UK to prepare my husband’s US tax return for the IRS just because he is an American Citizen by birth.

My husband has lived continuously in the UK since he was 11 years old, has been educated here in the UK, has only ever worked here in the UK, pays into the tax system here in the UK, owns property here in the UK, got married here in the UK, and intends to retire here in the UK. But because America has the most antiquated system of taxation based on citizenship rather than residency, my husband is required by law to file a ridiculous amount of complex and convoluted tax paperwork each year only to show that because we are fully compliant with UK tax requirements, he does not actually owe any tax to the US Government.

And by the way this is not just a ‘simple’ tax return, the same as that filed by US citizens who live and work in the country – it costs us such a lot of money each year to have each tax return completed properly and professionally by our accountant, to ensure we correctly meet the legal federal requirement to file. And then to add insult to injury, we also have to upload all our bank account information every year to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency to prove that our so-called ‘Foreign Bank Accounts’ are free from any suspicious money-laundering activities.

What was the most unsettling film you’ve seen?

I don’t ever do modern scary movies or any kind of gratuitous horror stuff, so ‘unsettling’ in any other way is difficult to put my finger on… probably psychological thrillers unsettle me most, and watching the original ‘Psycho’ in my teens is still probably high up there on the freaked-out scale for me.

Do you judge people?

I think we all tend to judge people, however hard we try not to, and it seems like the older I grow, the more judgier I get, but also the more aware of it I am so wherever possible can try to minimise my judgement accordingly.

Finish this sentence ‘Back in my day, we…’?

Back in my day, when we weren’t at school we played outside all day without supervision, climbed trees, made dens, got filthy, coped with countless nettle-stings and grazed knees without too much fuss, and generally learned to amuse ourselves independently of our parents without there being an electronic gadget in sight… 🙂

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Share Your World: 27 Jan 2020

What age would you like to live to?

I’m kind of working towards assuming an age of somewhere around my mid-eighties, giving me another 30 years.

What mystery do you wish you knew the answer to?

Whatever happened to Renee MacRae? In 1976 a 36-year-old woman disappeared from Inverness with her three year old son Andrew. I remember the case, and remember that after her blood-stained car was found burnt out, the common assumption was that her body was buried somewhere under the new A9, which was under construction at the time, and that we would never know for sure. However last year after new evidence was found a man (her former lover) was finally charged with her murder, and I believe the case is due to be heard in the High Court sometime this year. So we might actually find out, 43 years later, what actually happened to Renee Macrae.

Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Mostly? Can’t think of a case when it hasn’t…

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to?

Can I choose gardening? It’s not technically something I haven’t tried before ever, but it is something I haven’t been able to do in nearly 20 years. And when I did have a garden before, I was a working single mum so my gardening was necessarily kept to a minimal effort basis. But now here we are with fully functioning flower beds front and back, and with a real glass greenhouse too, which I’ve never had before! So I’m looking forward to learning to be a ‘proper’ gardener into the future, so that once I retire I can be a contented old lady pottering around in my beautiful garden forever 🙂

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Share Your World: 20 January 2020

Where do you get your news?

Mainly TV news channels, occasionally online (proper news channel websites, never social media)

What ‘old person’ thing do you do?

I often moan and groan a bit when getting up off the sofa, due to stiffening joints 😦

When was the coldest you’ve ever been? The warmest?

Where at all possible I don’t do extremes of temperature, either way – I’m definitely a temperate climate kind of girl. But if push comes to shove I prefer dry heat and crisp, fresh coldness to high humidity and miserable wet coldness.

Do you eat food that’s past its expiration date if it still smells and looks fine?

Yep, I’ll generally make my own judgement on the safety or otherwise of stuff I’ll put in my mouth – but I won’t be stupid about it.

What are you grateful for this week?

My new reading glasses – I was struggling to colour in the smallest of shapes with my old ones so realised it was time they were replaced. The very middle of this design was far too small for me to focus on clearly before, but now it’s finally done – hooray! 🙂

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Share Your World: 13 Jan 2020

What’s something your brain tries to make you do, which you have to will yourself NOT to do?

When I’m waiting to cross the road at a Pelican crossing, I always feel the urge to hit the button several times in quick succession, even if has already been pressed by someone else, and what’s more I keep on pressing it over and over again, in order to try to make the lights change quicker. I know the number of presses is irrelevant, but for some stupid reason I feel compelled to do it anyway!

When someone finds out what you do, or where you are from, what questions do they always ask you?

Having recently returned ‘home’ to Scotland after 18 years of living in England, I’m delighted that no-one hearing me speak has to ask me where I’m from anymore, because I sound just like everyone else again. I have quite a soft Scottish accent – not the strong Glaswegian or Aberdonian accent that many English people tend to associate with Scottishness – so I was forever being asked what part of Ireland I came from? 🙂

What’s something terrifying that we’ve all come to accept as a fact of life?

That due to selfish personal greed and valuing rampant individualism over greater social and environmental concerns we’re actively destroying the beautiful planet we live on, and cumulatively as a species we just don’t yet give enough of a damn to do what’s needed to stop being destructive into oblivion. Like Mr Spock in Star Trek, we need to learn that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one. That’s you I’m talking to Trump, Putin, Kim, et al. Learn to be a bigger man by giving more to others with humility, not taking more and more of whatever you want with your hyped-up sense of self just because you can. Otherwise how are we ever going to live long and prosper? Our denial-based behaviour in the face of a world crisis is illogical – in fact, I vote Mr Spock for World Leader, let’s get some rational Vulcan considerations to counter the puffed-up vanities of all these pathetic Alpha-male autocrats out there.

Should governments make laws to protect people from harming themselves?

Health and Safety-wise yes – keeping workplace environments fit to work in is fine, as are driving regulations (seat-belts, speed restrictions, MOT testing, maximum alcohol levels etc). But on a truly personal level, no. My life, my choice, end of.

Please share your gratitude for this past week in the form of a photo, a quote, or a thought 🙂

‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough’


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Share Your World: New Year Questions

What was the single best thing that happened in your life this past year?

Finding and buying our beautiful 1930s bungalow in Inverness and moving in!

The most challenging?

The logistics of selling our flat in London, arranging to move all of our possessions from London to a storage facility in Inverness, then living with my elderly parents for 10 weeks (camping out in their spare room) until we moved into our new house in town… phew!

One thing you learned in 2019?

When things happen in life to frustrate you, slow you down, hamper you, just take a deep breath and a step back from pushing so hard and understand that the Universe probably knows what it is doing – had we not sold our flat at exactly the time we did, our new house would not have been available on the market for us to buy 🙂

Given all your experiences, insights and lessons learned in 2019, what’s the best advice you could give youself for 2020?

Enjoy whatever you have in life right now – health, wealth, happiness – because you never know what might happen next. Learn from the past, plan for the future but never forget to live in the moment. Be as brave, be as bold, and be as beautiful a person as you can be, and make every day count ❤

What’s the best meal/food you ate in 2019?

All of it… food… Mmmm!

What are three activities you plan to use in the coming year to relieve stress?

Painting, gardening, yoga…

What brought you the most joy and are you going to do more of that?

Spending more time with my family – parents, siblings, children, grandchildren – and yes, I’m definitely going to do more of that in the coming year! 🙂 ❤

Any resolutions you’d like to share?

I’m not really a New Year Resolutions person – they create too much pressure and potential misery and seem doomed to failure within a few weeks…

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Share Your World: 16 December 2019

Do you enjoy receiving Christmas cards through snail mail?

Surprisingly I do, and probably moreso nowadays than in the past – with fewer hard-copy letters and cards being sent in general, it’s always nice when someone makes the effort to hand-write something and post it in person.

Do you like the taste and/or smell of peppermint?

Mmmmm… Trebor Extra Strong mints – eye-wateringly clean breath, sharply stinging tongue, instantly cleared sinuses – don’t mind if I do 🙂

What is your least favourite holiday side dish?

Brussels Sprouts – yuk!

What is the coolest (best) gift you ever gave someone?

For my youngest daughter’s 25th birthday I sent her a wrapped and ribboned box containing 25 small individually wrapped gifts – silly things, fun things, meaningful things, loving things – with lots of layers of colourful tissue paper and birthday confetti. She absolutely loved it, the thought behind each item and the fun of unwrapping 25 little things… and I really loved creating it for her too ❤

What is a Christmas song that makes you cringe?

‘Santa Baby’ by Eartha Kitt – it has the most beautiful tune, but some of the world’s worst greed-based lyrics. So I satisfy myself by humming it rather than singing the cringeingly awful words…

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Share Your World: 2nd Dec 2019

What’s your remedy for the holiday blues?

Wherever possible I try to avoid getting caught up in the maelstrom frantic spending sprees of rampant consumerism, and simply make the most of quietly enjoying the nice food and drink and TV scheduling at Christmas 🙂

Your favourite beverage during the holiday season?

It’s an ‘old lady’ drink I know, but I have a penchant for a glass or two of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry over the Christmas period… on the rocks! Mmmmm… It’s the only time of year I ever drink it! ❤

What’s your take on pumpkin spice?

No idea – I’ve heard of it but have absolutely no idea what it actually is?

Is there a person or God connected with your holiday?

Nope, Christianity and Christmas clearly parted company a long time ago…

Share a song that you enjoy during the winter season?

I suppose for me it has to be Nat King Cole’s ‘Christmas Song’… 🙂

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Share Your World: 4th November 2019

What is the meaning of true love?

Watch the movie ‘Frozen’ – sisters Anna and Elsa certainly find the meaning of true love ❤

Do acts of kindness have a motive?

Hmmm… Altruism is rarely ‘just’ altruism – even if someone completes an act of kindness purely to feel good about it, technically there is still a reward inherent in the action. But in my mind any act of kindness, for whatever underlying reason, is always a good thing for the person receiving it – ultimately the ‘what’ matters way more than the ‘why’ 🙂

If we live in a civilized world why do we see so many distinctions between rich and poor?

Because structurally the status quo of our so-called civilized world is based on favouring financial status and personal greed above all else in a hierarchical framework deliberately designed to allow the rich to continue to rule the roost with a self-righteous sense of arrogant entitlement while so many of the rest of us struggle simply to survive…

Do we love ourselves more in the virtual world than in the real world?

Some people do seem to create an alter ego virtual self (and lifestyle) that seems too perfect to be true – and sometimes it seems they do seem to prefer their virtual ideal to their real-world reality. And having written that I suppose perhaps we all do that to a certain extent -we only show the good-mannered, well-behaved public-facing selves to our blogs.

Are you grateful?

Not anywhere near as much as I should be – I have such a lot to be grateful for, but instead of celebrating the positives I tend to focus too heavily on the negatives in life… I’m definitely more of an Eeyore than a Winnie the Pooh…

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