A friend of mine recently went on a Buddhist activist weekend, and came back with the best advice I’ve heard of coping with the world right now. DO SMALL THINGS, she was told. There’s no way you can change everything.
So I’ve taken this on board. My small thing at the moment is what I call the Polish Ladies and Tea Club. A group of Polish women come to my house weekly to drink tea, eat cake, and er, yes, learn English. They are teachers, shop managers, university students who are now all working as cleaners here. One of the problems we identified is that their hours don’t allow them to study English regularly so this is a chance to sit down and have some general conversation.
As always, the best things to do are the ones you enjoy yourself. And what this has done is to remember the joy of everyday words. Cup, I say, and then cupboard… is that because that’s where the cups board???? Oh my gosh, how bizarre that we never think of what’s behind these words. I’m not trained in teaching English as a foreign language, but as they are just ‘paying me’ in laughs and chocolate biscuits we are all happy. If anyone would like to try something similar, I’d be happy to let you have some of the exercises and games we’ve used so far. Or indeed to swap resources.
And then, other small things… well, I’m not sure I’d call reading a small thing, but we went away recently for a reading weekend. We put our phones away and got out our books instead. Apart from missing a call from my sister to say she was at the local pub, we didn’t miss them at all. Mind you, we were staying here in one of the Landmark Trust houses.. Fox Hall in West Sussex. It may look like a mansion but it was actually a bedsitting room.
So what did I read. Well, here’s a clue…
I’ve placed it by a labyrinth because Sarah Hilary is plot-master supreme – who even holds back certain mysteries (no spoilers) for the next Marnie Rome book. I could hardly bear it. If you see her on twitter or facebook please send her back to the manuscript. I can’t wait too long. I also read the most extraordinary biography of Shirley Jackson, A Rather Haunted Life. GET BOTH! I promise that you’ll never hear creaks in an old house in the same way ever again.
But despite being too frightened to go anywhere on my own one evening, I felt so relaxed and … yes, stilled at the end of the weekend.
And the third thing? Laughing of course. Helped by this sign I saw…
And then a friend of mine spotted my photo on instagram, and sent me her poem which made me laugh out loud… ENJOY! En-joy… In Joy… that’s not a small thing after all!
by Susanna Clayson
I recently was entertained –
my mirth could barely be contained,
by a list of British places
with names so rude they redden faces.
One county stood out from the rest –
Northumberland was naughtiest.
With Lickar Moor, and Great Tosson
Bushygap, Flesh Shank and Sodom
Dorset has a Scratchy Bottom.
Shaggs, Piddle, Spanker and Weedon,
Nob End, Minge Lanes and Lower Swell
Cockintake, Twatt and Staines as well
Up north, I laughed at Cockermouth
And smirked at Sandy Balls down south
Beaver Close and Bachelor’s Bump.
Bishops Itchington, Great Trump!
Butt of Lewis, Cock of Arran
Hole of Horcum and Wetwang
Horneyman in Kent, near Thong
While Crotch Crescent is just plain wrong
But west to east or in the middle
Acock’s Green to Wyre Piddle
Fanny Barks wins the rudest prize
Tied with Fudgepack on Humberside