Monday 25 May 2020

New Artist Extraordinaire YouTube Channel.

Everygrandma.  New YouTube channel, move over Russell Brand.
I know.  I asked one of my son's friends if old ladies can have YouTube channels, and instead of being shocked that I called myself an old lady, he replied that anyone could have one. 

I do already have a channel, with very little on it.  There is a smattering of stuff from a long time ago, and a five minute video I made of my mother as she was dying and of her actual death back in 2015.  Mother's video has gone mental and has had 427,521 views and 556 comments so far, and is growing daily.  I have 671 subscribers because of this one video and I am paralysed with fear because there is nothing else for anyone to watch, at all, and yet these kind people have subscribed to a one hit wonder channel.  They thought they were going to see great things, and they have not.  I want to apologise to them all for being a YouTube fake, and for not making anything else.  I look at my channel from time to time to feel awful about all the lovely new comments and views, with no idea how to follow up.  What on earth do I do after a video of mum dying?  I am, after all, just a grandma from Bognor Regis who does painting and stuff. 

And then, I thought, that is the follow up!  

There is Everyman, and Everywoman and now there is Everygrandma.   

The real thing.  So excited, branded to
match my website.  Matchy matchy. 
I will take a deep breath, own my YouTube channel, and start a new online weekly posting from the studio.   That is, after all, where the A Graceful Death exhibition was created, is stored now and where I am currently working on the Addicts and Those Who Love Them paintings.  There is so much creativity, thinking, doing, listening to reggae, and letting the muse flow in the studio.  People come to talk about life, death, love in there.  And of course, I am in the middle of painting things that are interesting to watch as they take shape.  I always show paintings when they are done, and never when they are at the painting by numbers or the kindergarten let me do a masterpiece stage.  My pride has up until now been too tender for anyone to see quite how awful the first few attempts at doing a new painting are.  I have not wanted you to know I work very hard at getting it right, getting it wrong so often that I sometimes wonder if I should get a real job.  Sometimes, I have finally painted a likeness that is terribly good, and I am pleased.  When I come back to it, expecting to twiddle a few flicks of paint and finish it with a fanfare, I notice that the eyes are too far apart and that the whole structure of the face has been thrown out of kilter.  I have that little discussion with myself that says, well, no one will notice, I can get away with it - but I know that I will re do the whole face, from scratch.  I will just have to do it.  It is always much better when it is done, but oh, for that short while, I think, no one will notice.  Don't make me do it all again when it is so nearly finished.  

This is the kind of stuff that I will show you.  I will let you all see the wonky drawings, the out of place ears,  the arms that are far to big for the body, the way the painting looks great except that it doesn't look like the person I am painting. I will have to admit that it needs re doing, I won't be able to get away with leaving it. It will be such a new venture, this YouTube channel.  I have already done the first video and will get it ready for Tuesday for when the newsletter goes out too.  In this first video, I had no idea what I would say, and surprised myself by talking about how my USP (unique selling point) is that I have no training whatsoever for any of the work that I do.  I work best on the job, and I say that I do not like to be restricted by rules.  Lord!  This first video seems to be a confessional.  It is true though, I do not even have any art qualifications.  (And I do not like rules very much).  I did not go to art school, I went to University instead and did a degree in Art History.  I felt that what creativity I had would be lost if I went to an art school, it was best to let it be and not dissipate it.  I felt it was both very fragile and as old as time itself.  I wanted to let it grow with me, and now, look.  I am a grandma in a studio in Bognor Regis with my very own YouTube channel.  Move over Russell Brand.  

Because my life is so much more than painting, I aim to include the under the radar work I do too.  I will talk about encounters with people who face the ending their lives, people who are living with illness and how it fits into the world in which we live.  There are many stories about these meetings, these times spent passing through someone's life, and of the things we all give and receive in each encounter.  It is linked to the artwork that I do, and so there will be a place for it in the studio.  Even if it wasn't, I would still speak about it, it is so interesting.  And I would like to show the people who visit the studio, and hear them speak.  People from Arun Exact, perhaps, the peer led relapse prevention project run by Ian J Doctor, coming to talk about being in the Addicts And Those Who Love Them Exhibition.  Chats with friends Gill and Marie with whom I run sessions for anyone dealing with loss, loss of any kind, including grief, and perhaps because creativity happens all the time everywhere, I will show the beautiful garden and the work Chris, who looks after the it, does in there, the furniture painting and creating that my lodger Mark is doing in his workshop in his space in the garden, and the piano music that my son likes to play when the mood takes him.  

And now, I am going to post the video of my mother's dying.  It is very beautiful, loving and tasteful.  It shows her after she dies, so you can chose if you want to watch. It is kind, and mum has a peaceful and holy death.  It is this channel that will post updates from my studio and creative world.  The first one is up now, so please do watch it.  And subscribe.  The video is here

My newsletter comes out every two weeks, with updates on my creative work and listening and support encounters.  To subscribe, please go to

Please be aware that this loving video shows my mother after she is dead.  Click on the link not the photo.

Sunday 10 May 2020

What yells the hell out of me and what gives me joy.

Yelling the hell (Covid rage)
Finding joy, (being nice)

When my children were little in the nineteen nineties, one of them misheard "annoying the hell out of me" as "yelling the hell out of me", and that became the go to phrase for annoyance.  I still use it, as you can see.

Staying at home like this has begun to focus my mind on details.  Not world details, not political or health details, but details in my house.  I am able to pin point things that annoy me and things that give me happiness in a way that, in the old days, someone may have asked me if I had not better things to be doing with my time.  I am noticing things in total strangers, when I am out, that make me tut in frustration.  I have become passive aggressive in the supermarket and I am not the only one.

I experienced a stand off only last week over blueberries.  As I stood to look for raspberries, a tall, brusque man in face mask and gloves behind me tutted and cleared his throat. As I had not moved for about two seconds, he called to me very loudly and with suppressed violence, that excuse me, he needed some blueberries please.  I leapt out of the way, apologising, thinking I had been looming over not only the raspberries, but all the blueberries too and how selfish - only to see that the blueberries were more than six feet behind me and I didn't have to move at all, it was all just a power trip. Annoyed, I wanted to attack his trolley with my trolley and pretend it was an accident. I wanted to think of something precise and cutting to say, but I didn't.  I wanted to lick all the blueberry packs so he couldn't have any, and to ping his face mask.  I just had to walk on and hope that he had forgotten his card and had to go home and queue up again.  The point is, I don't normally care if someone is like this, there are always reasons why they are, but right now when I am much more aware of what yells the hell out of me, I take it all personally.  Poor man, he's probably telling his wife right now that there was such a nice lady in the supermarket looking at raspberries and that they had a friendly and polite exchange.  He probably told her, with a tear in his eye, that this Covid business is bringing the best out in us.

For this blog, I am going to tell you what is yelling the hell out of me, and what is not.  Normally a very nice patient person, with lots of good things to say about everyone, I am finding the shadow side of my personality.  I am judgemental, cross, impatient and weary.  I am unable to think about too much beyond what I am going to eat next.
Doves fly from my hands etc

And then, I am filled with peace, understanding and compassion.  Doves fly from my hands.  I smile and do nice things like paint my garden furniture blue.  It is all just a temporary test for the human race, I say kindly, to whoever will listen.  On line.  Love and connection will win through.

What yells the hell out of me.

Here are just a few.

  1. Things are not in the right order on my tables.  Oh.  You may know this one.  I need order, I
    Oh my, who left the letters
    there.  WHO? 
    need things to be where I left them and this pen, this jar of matches, this fan are all in the wrong places.  It's too much.  I can't do anything if the jar of matches is here it needs to be there.  This is possibly about control.  I wake in my house, I go to sleep in my house.  Outside there is a teeny tiny invisible virus that wants us to snuggle up close so it can jump into our bodies and kill us.  We are all washing our hands in our homes, staying away from everyone we love, and we can't see this threat.  One wrong move, we think, and it will fly through the air to us and we will never see it coming.  So I control the tiny things I can control in my world  - and the bloody jar of matches is too far to the right on this table.  Damn these matches. And all the other things that look messy and out of place, like the fruit bowl on the kitchen table.  It doesn't go under the flowers it goes here, and if it gets moved, I am going back to bed.
  2. I can't see my grandchildren. How many of us are in this boat? I can see them on FaceTime but it is not the same.  I fear they will forget me, and I will turn up eventually with little chocolate bunnies in my pockets for them, and they will cry because they don't like the new funny lady who wants to watch telly with them and knows their names.  I will end up eating the chocolate bunnies all by myself watching C Beebies with the grand children playing happily next door with their mummy and daddy.  I miss their little ways, their excitement when we go to the beach, and all their stories and constant chatter about everything.  I miss cuddling up with them at the end of a busy day and reading stories.  Obviously their mummy and daddy do not feel this way, they would like a month on a cruise liner far out to sea with no children or WiFi.  They have been eyeball to eyeball with the children for over six weeks now. 
  3. Everyone is talking about Covid 19.  I have been in my house for ages without my friends, family or colleagues.  I want to talk about me.
  4. Masks and gloves.  I have mask and glove rage.  My own feeling is that masks do not stop you
    Just off to change a car wheel.
    getting the virus, as much as staying away from people and washing your hands.  Masks look like a fear response and make me annoyed.  Gloves, well, if you wear gloves and then answer your phone, touch all the food in the shop, and touch your face taking off your mask, then you are not as safe as you imagined.  In the hospice, we put on fresh gloves and an apron each time we go into someone's room, and remove them on the way out and wash our hands.  If I forget something and have to go back in at once, I still have to re glove and re apron.  Leaving the ward, I have to remove the face mask and get a fresh one when coming back in.  Forgive me if you love face masks and gloves.  I think they are very effective, if used properly. But I hate them in supermarkets and cars and walking the dog.  
  5. The push to look busy.  I resent, and resist, all encouragement to get busy online, doing courses, offering courses, and attending webinars.  I do not want a routine and I don't want to hear about how well other people are managing with their successful routines.  I certainly don't want to get lots of posts from shiny young thin women telling me to up my marketing and it's time to join them online to learn how to network, get and keep more clients, keep myself slim and be a much better person.  The pressure to achieve makes me want to sit in my old pyjamas and eat peanut butter from the jar.  I do want to achieve, I would love to be thin and have people beat a path to my door to have a bit of what I have, but they didn't before, and I am dealing with so much change here in my home and my family (who I can't see), that to be focusing on being glossy and successful and completely unaffected and in control, makes me cross.  Go away, I say to the posts.  I bet you didn't look like that first thing this morning, and I bet you have down days too.  I bet, too, that your dog ate all the smarties you had hoarded for later when no one was looking, and now you are as depressed as the rest of us.  (We aren't all depressed, but we are sometimes on and off.  People on social media who look like they can't wait for dawn so that they can do their yoga upside down in size ten leotards, and smile with delight as they brush their already white teeth before taking a few thousand pounds online with the courses they offer while fending off the fan mail, make me very resentful. Normally a very nice person, I wish for these poor people to fall down a manhole.  Onto a nice feather mattress.  I am not advocating violence)

What gives me joy

Here is a small selection -
  1.  The mornings.  I sleep under a wide open window, and I cannot wait for the first birds to
    sing.  When the dawn comes, I feel happy that a new day is here and that soon I can have a pot of tea.  As the days are longer, the light comes early, and because there is a lock down, I do not have to get up.  I can stay there in bed and it will not matter.  There is so much time ahead to enjoy the morning.  My options are - make the tea and have it in bed, or on the pink sofa where the doors open onto the garden, or on the red sofa where I do all my thinking.  And then, I can listen to the news (only for a small while, it gets very samey), read a book or listen to Audible.  Or I can just sit and think.  I am a morning person, and love this time when the day is so new.  And because the whole world has been put on hold, there is no thing I should be doing instead.  I can simply have my whole morning, and I love it. 
  2. My garden.  I may feel about my garden now, the same way that I felt about my children when
    Smurf blue garden furniture
    they were tiny.  I love my garden.  It is a riot, a jumble, a mass of colour, of different leaf shapes, flowers, of plants that have come from somewhere and ended up here.  I have hollyhocks in my front garden that I did not plant.  I have poppies, foxgloves, wisteria and  honesty that I did not plant.  They came by themselves and found a home in my garden.  Many other plants and flowers were planted by Chris, who walks over from his house round the corner, and does all the work.  I simply enjoy.  And I do enjoy.  I have painted all my wooden garden furniture blue, and I sit on blue seats having tea from a blue table, and breathe in the beauty and feel transformed. I love my children too, just to reassure you.  They are grown now and even more wonderful than ever.  They too are a riot.
  3. FBI Files and other police documentaries.  I am not sure if this should be a guilty secret or not.  I love fast car chases on police documentaries, and driving a police car at top speed through a built up area with blue lights should be on my bucket list.  I am those police drivers when I watch them.  FBI Files is an American show, a docudrama of old cases and the FBI always wins against the odds.  Each show is just under an hour, so you get your money's worth.  And oh those Agents are so slick.  So confident, and the baddies do not, in the end, stand a chance against the genius of the system.  During this lock down, there is much time for indulgence.  In fact, I think it is essential to indulge, and I have loved my times on the sofa with the FBI and all the UK police forces that I can find.  (Indulge within reason.  I do not suggest a serial killer should indulge in serial killing during this time.)
  4. Eating.  I cannot get over how delightful it is that there is a kitchen in my house, dedicated to food.  I am in there a great deal, planning what to eat next and having a snack while I do so.  
  5. Time.  Time has changed.  I do not have to achieve anything for anyone, there are no deadlines and I cannot do face to face visits.  There is nothing to prove.  It wouldn't matter if I didn't do the things I do, and I am at home in my house most of the time.  So I can experience the mornings.  During the days I can sit and think if I want to, and potter around both house and garden following a whim.  I have never had time to do this before without pressure - all my events and things are postponed till whenever - and so I have time to simply watch it, time, go by.  I am finding a lot of healing in spending time letting go, it has made me realise  how much I waste it by avoiding noticing it.  It is nice, time is, it is there whether I like it or not, and so I have made it my friend and am getting to know it a bit while I can. 

The things that yell the hell out of me are less noble than the things that give me joy.  This time here in my house has been frustrating, tedious, constricting and difficult.  It has also been peaceful, revealing,  joyful and surprising.  We all have different experiences of this Corona time.  It is truly awful for some.  It is relentless, unyielding, frightening for others.  It is also just right for some people, they love the freedom to be at home doing their own thing without having to see anyone else.  I am making the most of it, there are good days and bad days, but being an optimist I am managing. 

If you love face masks, gloves, blueberries, webinars, yoga and any of the things I may have been a bit rude about, I am really sorry.  Don't take it personally, it is not you, I am just experiencing Covid Fury from weeks of isolation and navel gazing. 

Longing to see these little angels again.  On their way to post a letter to me.