Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where do Your Ideas Come From?

I mentioned in my last post that an idea for a new novel had popped into my head while I stared out of the window on the train. I have no idea what triggered it, other than I was not, for once, thinking about anything else. Usually, I am looking after the children, working, writing, washing, cooking, or even doing some housework. Occasionally, I am drinking tea, but this last activity is invariably accompanied by reading.

I used to get my ideas as I dozed off in bed, but these days I just fall, zombie-like into the deepest slumber (until woken by the need to rearrange a duvet cover, pick up a teddy, fetch water, etc.), and so that dreaming time has gone. The same with driving. I like to think I pay attention to the road (unless Cally's in the car), and there used to be space for thinking too, but now that's taken up with The Wheels on the Bus, and I haven't a hope of constructive contemplation. So you see, I'm never not thinking about something else, and how the too-tired-to-bother-with-work episode on the train proved unexpectedly productive.

I'm going to practice now, thinking about nothing, and see what happens. With luck, my stress levels will dive, but I'm hoping my creativity might get a boost too.

Where do your ideas come from?

New Mountain-Walking Blog
I have started a new blog: Mountains, Miles & Mist, and would love to see you over there!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Throwing Away the Crutches

You know how you should never google your ailments? A spot of browsing over the weekend warned me that, while I could expect to be walking normally in 4-6 weeks, I might experience problems with my ankle for 12-18 months. 12-18 months?!! I'm a mountain hiker!

Well, I've been here before: I broke this ankle in 1981, and in 1996 I fell over in my bedroom suffered the same ligament injury as now. I had physio for the break, but not for the ligament, which was a big mistake. Thus, on Tuesday I paid my money (three-month wait for the NHS), and went to see my handsome physiotherapy friend, Paul.

I wanted to know how to get better without risking further damage - the kids have been brilliant, but the novelty's worn off - and if there were even a remote chance of getting hiking-fit in time for my (already booked) trip to Scotland in May. "Yes," he said. "Throw away the crutches, and get walking!"

It was music to my ears, Dear Reader. Music. It seems obvious now (especially after all I learned about ankles on Tuesday), but am wondering why the hospital advice was limited to: 'move your foot as often as possible, and stop if it hurts' - fine for the first few days, but useless after that.

Along with ultrasound treatment, an anatomy lesson (strictly limited to lower-limb joints), and some interesting* exercises, Paul gave me his promise that I'm not going to 'do it in' again (unless I commit muppetry again), and this gave me the confidence to walk. I can't tell you how lovely that feels.

*dull as death

On the writing front, work has necessitated spending a useful amount of time on trains recently. Having tired of doing anything constructive, I had taken to staring out of the window, and as a consequence, a new-novel idea popped into my head, somewhere between Redhill and Gatwick. Plot, characters, twist and all. I am very excited (though it is currently no.6 on my list of Books To Be Written), and have already drafted a synopsis! Am a little bit smug about this.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

People: the Good, Bad & Ugly

I've been to London three times this week, on crutches, and have alternately enjoyed and hated the experience every few minutes. Because of people:

The Good: the woman in a Clapham Junction coffee shop, who leapt out of her seat to haul open the door for me saying, "Been there myself, love. Know just what you're going through"; the man on an increasingly crowded train who growled "crutches" at anyone who tried to sit on a seat occupied by my foot (I would have happily made space, but I appreciated his care); the railwayman at Clapham who unlocked the staff loos to save me walking to the other end of the platform; the man who carried my coffee; the Sussex taxi-driver who waited an hour (until 12.45am) for my delayed train; the people who offered me their hard-won seats; the handsome Naval officer who treated me to two hours of enjoyable conversation (started on the subject of my crutches) and who escorted me to my destination (Hi, Tim).

The Bad: the people who barged into me, stepped in front of me, plonked themselves on the seats I was aiming for; all the other people who simply didn't notice; the colleague who kept me talking for twenty minutes in Waterloo station while I stood on one foot; the people who stared (they're only crutches for gawd's sake);

The Ugly: the man who kicked a crutch out from under me on Victoria concourse, and walked on without even registering what he'd done - I like to think his shin registered it, but he didn't break stride; the fit forty-something in the disabled seat on a packed tube, who held my gaze and did not move...

You'll notice there are far more Goods, than Bads & Uglies put together, but I think that's because gems stand out in the muck. My lasting memory is one of others' indifference. Which I think is sad.

Thanks for all messages of support! Ankle getting better, albeit slowly - small improvement every day. Am now able to hobble without crutches in the house, but am taking things very carefully! Scotland beckons.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Reasons to Lounge About on the Sofa, no.32

As I lie here, on my sofa, cup of tea in hand, laptop on lap, sun shining through the window, and the smaller girl playing happily beside me, you'd think life couldn't get much better. Then you might notice the long metal things beside me... So, Leigh, exactly why are you lying around on a Monday morning, when your house craves attention? Eh?

Ahem. Quick change of subject.

Walking in the mountains is potentially dangerous: a slip could mean death - not because of cliff edges, necessarily, or anything dramatic like that - but because a twisted ankle will leave you lying around, cold and probably wet, for a long time waiting to be rescued, or even to summon help. People die of hypothermia in the Scottish mountains in June. Now, I've been mocked for all the kit I carry - enough to survive immobility for 24h in freezing conditions (i.e. all year round in the Cairngorms) - but I carry it nonetheless. Peace of mind, and all that.

So, it's comical (not to mention embarrassing) that it was a two-foot high bank in the garden that proved my downfall. Thirty seconds after warning the smaller girl to take care in the frost I slipped, and one God-almighty crack later, down I went. And not a Kendal Mint Cake in sight.

Nothing broken though, just ligament damage, and I hope to be off the crutches within a couple of weeks.

Have you ever done anything as dumb?

The Gold Star Award goes to the Smaller Girl (who'll be three tomorrow) who fetched: the telephone to summon help; hiking poles to get me into the house; frozen sweetcorn to put on the swelling; iPod for going to hospital; and unlocked the door when help arrived. She stopped several times to have a little wail, and point out interesting aeroplanes, but I'd have been lost without her.