Be still, my beating heart

Last Tuesday I got some news. To most people it wouldn’t be earth shattering news, but to me it was huge. I was just about to go out and I got a notification on my phone to tell me that my brother-in-law had shared something with me on Facebook. At that point I had no idea that it would be so important to me.

Generally, I’m not a person of certainties. I don’t have a favourite food or restaurant. I don’t have a favourite band or singer. I don’t think I have a favourite colour but the prevalence of purple in my wardrobe does undermine that slightly. However there is one thing I absolutely know to be true: my favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, the one and only book to come from the mind of Harper Lee.

The one and only book until now.

Because last week it was announced that Go Set A Watchman, a second book by Lee, is going to be published 14 July 2015. It was actually Lee’s first novel, written about Scout as an adult in New York, but the publishers enjoyed the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood so much that they asked her to write about that instead, and so Mockingbird was born. Lee didn’t think the manuscript of Watchman had survived until the publishers discovered it paperclipped to a copy of Mockingbird.

How much more wonderful could literature get? The beautiful piece of artistry that is Mockingbird, the sumptuous evocative text that says, in such simple terms, such big things that make you feel so deeply, will be alone no more.

When I read that piece of news I did a happy dance in my living room. No jokes.

There has been some controversy surrounding the news. People are worried that Lee, who is a very private person has been coerced into publishing Watchman. These people think it’s too much of a coincidence that Lee’s sister, who was her lawyer and protector, died just two months before the announcement of this new book.

The statements from Lee herself have seemed to be joyful and in control. She has said that she is thrilled they found the manuscript, and has asked people she trusts whether they think it is worth publishing (to many a resounding ‘yes’, of course).

People have even questioned if Watchman will stand up to the quality of Mockingbird, without the input of the latter’s editor, who was supposedly influential in making it the piece of literature it is today. But is that the point? Surely, this is about sharing Lee’s talent and her original intention for the story of Scout? It is naïve to think that without the very same editor Watchman won’t be a good piece of literature. There is more to a book than that. There are plenty of talented editors, and more importantly, it is Lee’s way with the written word that we have all fallen in love with and that we are all thrilled to be getting another dose of. We should not be comparing the two books, we should be grateful that we are allowed to lose ourselves once more in the delightful prose of Harper Lee.

I am uneasy with the idea that this wonderful woman, made vulnerable through the loss of her sister, could have been forced into something she was unhappy or uncomfortable with. But equally, I think it is sad that we are so cynical as to jump immediately to negative conclusions when such fantastic news is presented to us. In the wake of stories that tell us about murder, death and wrongful imprisonment, can’t we be glad that this book will be published?

It’s taken me over a week to write this post because I wanted to think about exactly what this news means to me, and how I want to take it – which evidence I believe and how I should feel. I am torn, but for me it’s all about the books. If something beautiful, poignant and meaningful has been written, it should be published and made available to as many people as possible. I choose to believe that it isn’t about profit margins and sales figures but about sharing a story that was meant to be heard. In the end, I pre-ordered my copy and I wait with bated breath to read Go Set A Watchman.

Welcome back Harper, we’ve missed you.

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Workin’ 9 to 5…sorta

As you may have guessed from my previous post, things are all shaken up round these parts. It’s all good shaking (think Taylor Swift rather than hypothermia) but it’s still been pretty dramatic. Particularly, the way I work has changed a lot. I’m currently working from home, rather than in the office in Bristol, and it’s pretty mind boggling how different things feel. Here’s my roundup of pros and cons to working at home. Because I’m sure you’re all dying to know…

First things first.

The elephant in the room.

The big issue that I know you are all very concerned with.

PRO:

Working in your PJs.

Yes, I have and yes, I will again. No, it’s not slovenly and yes, it’s as amazing as you imagine.

Moving on…

PRO: Lunchtimes

Ok, so I might not be in the centre of Bristol anymore, and I might not be able to pop out on my lunch break to buy a pair of jeans and be back in the office within twenty minutes. But let’s face it, I never did that when the option was there, so I’m not really missing out. And, really, who can buy jeans that quickly?

The counterpoint, and the massive win, is that I don’t have to take a packed a lunch or spend a small fortune on sustenance anymore. Do you know what I had for lunch on Friday? Goat’s cheese on corn thins topped with oven roasted peppers and tomatoes, piping hot and juicy from the oven. That’s bordering on gourmet, guys, and it’s the norm now. Things are stepping up!

CON: Company

I’m lucky, and my family and friends are nearby for human interaction on my lunch breaks. Let me tell you, if they weren’t around, I would go officially crazy spending this much time alone. It’s so wrong. Within a week I got into the habit of singing about everything I did, telling myself off constantly and aiming some really foul language at my online email system. Things got dark, guys. So thank God for lunch pals. Working by yourself can by scary…I mean, I always used to do that stuff, just silently, in the confines of my own mind. That’s normal, right?

On a more serious note though, I am really missing my colleagues. It was great being able to share the stressful things and vent, to have a bit of giggle and a joke, and just have those lovely ladies around me every day.

Miss you guys ❤

PRO/CON: Efficiency

This one is both good and bad in every aspect. I can get up later than I used to, do some chores around the house and still be at my desk on time, now that I am at home. That is awesome. BUT. I can also work through lunch and carry on until about 9pm if left to my own devices and conversely, I can get very distracted with jobs around the house when I do stop for lunch. It’s all about control. Luckily, I’ve stopped my self from going overboard/underboard (if that’s a thing) but you really have to watch it.

PRO: Commuting

Oh gee. For a long time I was a cheeky sneaker who only had to walk ten minutes to get to work. Then everything went bibbledy and I suddenly had an hour commute that involved a train and 45 minutes of walking to get to work. Want to know a secret? That was hard. It was draining and miserable and more often than not very cold and very wet. I don’t miss it. Not one jot.

PRO: Gym motivation

Now hear me out on this one, I know it seems weird. When I used to work in the office, it would get to the end of the day and I would trudge all the way home and the last thing I wanted to do was head back out into the mire and do a workout. I managed to make myself go to ballet classes (sometimes) but that was still tricky. Now that I’m at home all day, I’m desperate to get out of the place come 5pm and do something physical. The result? I have been to the gym four times in eight days. I’m gonna get ripped.

So there you have it. That’s my two cents on working from home and yes, I know you didn’t ask but hey, it can still be entertaining, right? Answers on a postcard…

All change please, all change

Have you guys ever felt the need to just shake things up? Just completely change everything in your life and do something new and different and exciting? I would have never pegged myself as the kind of person who would, but in the last two years I’ve done that twice.

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In February 2013, I uprooted from my hometown of Milton Keynes and moved with Steven to Bath to undertake a new and exhilarating job.

In February 2015, I uprooted from Bath and moved back to Milton Keynes with Steven, ready for a new adventure. This time it’s his turn. And come September things will really hot up.

These experiences just got me thinking, really. In a world where people have the same job for 30 years and stay in the same house their entire lives, there isn’t much room for mystery, for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing something that scares you. I’m not about to say that everyone should do one thing that scares them everyday because a) why would you want to? And b) there aren’t that many scary things in life. But I do think there is something to be said for appreciating how temporary things really can be if we want them to be. We should embrace that, and put a little less pressure on ourselves with it in mind.

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In the past month I’ve been stressed, tired, anxious and sad but it’s all been temporary. And do you know what it’s all paved the way for? A new kind of contentment. A bigger home. Seeing my family every day and knowing that my oldest friends are five minutes away once more. Sure there are still uncertainties, but that may just be the best part.

Who ever wanted all the answers, anyway?