Posts filed under ‘Reading’

The Sense of an Ending – A Piece of Perfection…..

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post……

This is not a book review, it is about the thoughts a book prompted in me. That book is ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes. Fair to say I am not the only person who found this book to be a pure delight, it was the Man Booker Prize winner of 2011. The title is not misleading, there are no cut and dried answers with this novel. I will not disclose the plot, will say only that the book made me smile, sigh and think. One passage in particular touched me, I share it here.

‘But time . . . how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time . . . give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.’

Brilliant words, I am sure we have all thought them in one form or another through our lives. Didn’t we all think we knew it all when we were eighteen? I considered myself wise beyond my years I am ashamed to say:) That is not to say that all my opinions have changed, I still believe that the answer to poverty is for people and Governments to work together. I still believe that mankind has it within him and her to do great good but too often it is easier to blink away the bad things and dwell only on the good. This may get you through the day but if we focus only on the good the bad will gain ground.

I wonder how much I have changed in the intervening years. I could flatter myself and say I am less self-obsessed but that is part of every human, it is how we process thoughts and outwardly display them that changes. I know my life needs affection and laughter, I think aging makes one very conscious of the need for support. When young we need that support to endorse our ‘rightness’, aging helps us understand that flexibility and compromise are not the enemy.

Words continue to be a constant for me, I have always read and it would be a hardship for me if I couldn’t. When I need to escape I find comfort in books, they take me elsewhere. I know the manners of Jane Austen, the wit of Philip Roth and John Irving, the history of Victor Hugo, the atmosphere of James Lee Burke. I am a reader of many books and many writers, I love to be surprised by words, it does me good to have my beliefs challenged so that I can ensure that my core has some substance, that I am not mere fluff and nonsense. Reading and conversation have helped form me from a smartass teen to, I hope, a grounded adult. I thank my lucky stars that my childhood ambition was not to be ‘famous’ as it is for so many young people today. What does that mean? Fame? Who wants public visibility for the sake of it? At eighteen I wnated to make a difference but wasn’t sure how. Today I still want to make a difference. This blog may help me do that, I am not always sure but will keep putting my words out there, this is the way I have chosen.

Would I change the decisions I made at eighteen? Some of them certainly. Does that mean I regret my decisions? I may wonder about them sometimes but they were and are my choices. Regrets will not change the here and now, actions do. So no, I do not regret but will use my memories to help me move along.

My thanks to Julian Barnes for such a novel, I hope you get to enjoy it as much as I did…..

Courtesy of Julian Barnes website -

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.


April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

When I was 8?

I thought I would talk about my childhood today. I ask everyone out there to donate to children’s charities and then write on this blog about the donation, which charity and what they wanted to be when they were 8 so it is only fair that I talk about me too.

I am from a large family of 9 children. I am the eldest girl and middle child. In order, there were 4 boys, me, 2 more boys and 2 more girls. Ours was a noisy household. As the boys got older it was also a competitive household, all that testesterone in one house? There was always a row going on between a few folks! It was interesting to see how 2 going hammer and tongs in the morning would be best buddies in the afternoon and scrapping with someone else.

One thing we were all competitive about? A decent seat in the living room. The cries of ‘that’s my seat’, ‘well, you left it so it’s mine now’ were some strange loop that never stopped, only the voices changed.

As the eldest girl, I often had the job of ‘minding the wee’uns’. You had to watch the last 3, often thought of as triplets as they were all born in an 18 month period. They were good and loved playing together but one was rather adventurous and spent her time either ‘exploring’, in other words, wandering off or dismantling everything with a screwdriver. I was in big trouble the day the prized clock was in pieces.

I also learned to peel potatoes quite young and still find it fun to cook in large quantities when I have guests, I can do a bag of spuds in double quick time. Myself and the third brother became good cooks once my mother started to work as we would ‘get the dinner on’ after school every day…..

I don’t want to make this sound arduous, I had a great childhood. We had fun! I played in goals from a very young age, badly I know, but it was better than an empty space between the jumper goalposts. We also laughed an awful lot as we took car journeys to visit the grandparents on a Sunday, I remember when we there would have been 1 or 2 babies in the front seat with our mother and the rest of us in the back of a Ford Anglia. Health and safety campaigners would no doubt be horrifed today but we played ‘spot the red car’, ‘spot the numberplate starting with S’ and ‘I Spy’ as we tootled along in one of these (thanks to MellY Designs for the image) :-

One thing we were keen on, well most of us, was sport. This definitely came from my father who had been a footballer in his youth and a golfing nut as his family grew. I know it must have been quieter for him on the course than at home so he would have used this time to ‘get his head showered’.

I played hockey and netball, the boys football and rugby. As teenagers we also had mad games of touch rugby in the garden. When all the mates turned up we many times had 20+ people playing rugby and it involved torn clothing and the odd hospital tackle. If you weren’t ready to stand up for yourself, our front garden wasn’t the place to be. After the rugby we would then move onto the water fights. You didn’t need super-soakers then, jugs, washin up liquid bottles and the hose did the business then. My mother lost so many washing up bottles that she took to keeping a stash of empties in the kitchen so that the washing up would still get done.

Having said all that, one thing I loved then and still love is to escape into my own world. This generally involves books and now blogging. I am told that I could read when I was 3 and one of my earliest memories is being asked to read aloud from the newspapers for guests, my party trick:0) I do remember having to work out how to pronounce Parliament but I managed it.

If I had time for me you would find me doing this:

I loved reading then, love it now. It was an escape for me and one that was indulged. I read everywhere and loved Jules Verne, LM Montgomery for the Anne series, Johanna Spyri (who didn’t love Heidi?) and anything else I could borrow from libraries, school, friends. I also enjoyed reading the grown-ups’ books too. I was a great fan of Wilbur Smith and Harold Robbins when I was too young to understand all of the more racy passages, I just liked the plots. Luckily I was always encouraged to read and my parents are still avid readers now as most of us are. Computer games will never have the hold on me that a book could have, I feel sorry for some of our youngsters who won’t get to know this….

I’m not sure if this snippet of my life explains how I can be both so extrovert and introvert at the same time? I know the best lesson I learned as a child was that you protect and care for your children as we were cared for. You set expectations and behaviours, we were always expected to have manners and I have instilled the same in my children. There is no excuse for bad manners and when you treat others with respect you may get some back in return….

This leads me back to my message for this blog. I want everyone to help care and protect as many children as they can. This should be your own first, I don’t dispute that. However, shouldn’t we look out for other children as well? I will restate that children don’t have the control over their circumstances that adults can have. I know that often the adults don’t have that control as well with wars, disasters, famine, disease in this world. Those adults have one message to us, help us help our children. I hope that this blog will prompt you to do just that, help someone else’s child. Make sure your children know you do this too if you have any. It is never too early for children to learn that helping others and kindness are to be encouraged.

I close as always with the ‘instructions’ to follow:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions:-)

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8 year old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.


August 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment


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