Sunday, 6 October 2013

Mugged by a memory

Ever since I woke up this morning, I've been revisiting a memory from early childhood.  Why today, and why so vividly, I have no idea.

I was with my father in a market in London.  Right now I can feel his hand wrapped tightly around mine, warm and comforting, as we crossed a busy main road.  I was so little, and he seemed so big to me, his youngest daughter - dark, with almost jet-black hair.  We walked into the market and he became engrossed in a stall selling electrical gizmos.  I didn't wander, but was far enough away for a blond, tall man in a yellow sheepskin coat to approach me and hand me a leaflet, saying "give this to your dad".  He was friendly and smiled, and called me pretty so I took it. 

When I handed it over as instructed, Dad did something that, on reflection, was just amazing.  He glanced at it, asked me gently who had given it to me; I pointed at the man who hadn't walked far away.  Dad strode up to him (bearing in mind this guy was considerably taller than Dad's 5'6) and engaged him in chat before yelling in his face that he was a coward to use children to spread his poison.  "If you've got anything to say, you say it to me, not my little girl".  The leaflet went in the bin, I asked but wasn't told what it said, and I got a stern lecture about talking to strangers - even nice, smiley, friendly strangers.  I can still remember the look of frozen surprise on the man's face as my fair, terribly English father grabbed the hand of the little, dark girl he'd encountered earlier.

It was many years later that we were in another (or the same?) market, and another (or the same?) man in a yellow sheepskin coat was handing out flyers.  This time, he sneaked one into my hand.  This time, I read it and stuck it in the next bin without having any understanding of what the National Front stood for.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Community spirit

I laugh when people say "there's no such thing as community any more" or that the interweb has somehow stopped people from talking to each other.  I talk far far more with my fingers than I have ever done with my mouth, and trust me that's saying something.  My Facebook communities, comprised of family, friends, colleagues, and people who share my interests, each barely distinguishable from the others like some fat and many-circled Venn Diagram, raised a huge amount of money last year for McMillan's Nurses.  This year they're sending me old mobile phones for my great-nephew. 

In real life it's the same.  I lost count yesterday of the number of complete strangers who smiled at me, stopped for me on my scooter, or that I exchanged words of thanks with for pausing to let me go past, or vice versa.  Tell me that's not community.

I've been interviewed for several jobs recently, but not been employed for any of them.  Disheartening, but not the end of the world.  Thing is, I have a brain and skills, I should be able to employ myself.  No start-up fund in the bank though, and it's notoriously hard to kick-start a craft business.  The demand is there, but overheads are a costly thing to have when Ebay charges are so low.

So I've listened to what people have said to me for ever - do something you love.  My first love would be working with children, but that's simply not practical any more.  Plus I'm sure my hairy feet would scare them and my laugh give them nightmares.  So I started to think about crafting.

Since working for Anni, I've had several pieces of my work pictured on the front page of magazines and online.  It's a fantastic feeling - I am not the brain behind a pattern, but the hands that make it real.  It was this realisation that gave me the self-confidence to apply for those jobs in the first place.  So I've been hatching  a plan and the first steps are in motion - a community group that uses crafting for therapy.

My own skills are fairly limited - I can only just crochet, for example; but I can knit and make cards, use a loom, and I can teach.  And I know firsthand the healing power of creativity.  I've taken the first steps - and am waiting for a few people to get back to me.  Venues, funding, advertising - all just a few phone calls away.  Yes those phone calls have hurt me physically, but hey, I can spend the rest of the day knitting.  I'm happy.