- Holly Searle
- London, United Kingdom
- Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
For imperfect cousins everywhere.
Let's face it, if Feargal Sharkey had been paying attention during his game of Subbuteo against his perfect cousin Kevin, he may well have won the game if only he'd have been aware of the fact that Kevin had "flicked the kick" without him knowing and therefore had cheated his way to victory.
Human error is a bit like that isn't it? People who aren't paying attention miss what is important and by doing so, often pave the way for an event to unfold that quite frankly could have been avoided if only they had been more on the ball (did you see what I did there).
We see it everyday without fail, but it is usually obscured by the actual event itself. When the dust settles and Columbo finally arrives late (held up no doubt due to human error) he traces the reasons for the event back to the actual root cause. Nice one. By doing so, he not only solves the case but also dispels the thoughts of those he has been investigating that he was just some fool in a dirty raincoat.
There is a great children's book by David McKee called Who Is Mrs Green? that does exactly that. A series of consequential events that are traced back to the misbehaving antics of one Mrs Green and her trip trapping high heels. Because she wakes her neighbour in the early hours, he then vents his anger and frustration on another and than that person does the same and so on and so forth throughout the course of the day that follows on from her initial thoughtless action. If you have children (or even if you don't) it is well worth tracking down a copy and having a read as it is quite thought provoking as so many of David McKee's books are.
Just like in the game of Subbuteo, in life we are governed by rules. Parameters are set out for us, that are there to ensure we don't make mistakes. But unfortunately we live in a world where these are sometimes overlooked because we are just flawed human beings or like cousin Kevin, we just choose to overlook the rules because we can't be bothered to abide by them.
And it seems to me that as a race, we either committee errors because we do not communicate properly with one another or because we are under pressure to deliver something that due to a set of circumstances is impossible to achieve or because we simply do not listen.
A friend and I had a conversation about it all recently and he retold a story to me in which two planes had crashed on the runway they were both about to take off from, due to the fact that the pilot was under pressure to return home for his anniversary party.
The circumstances in which this terrible accident took place were also blighted by bad weather conditions and miscommunication, but the root cause was human error.
My friend concluded that occurrences like this had to take place to enable the fact that they would never happen again.
It is a shame though that so many people suffer to enable these measures to be enforced so that they do not happen again in the future to another bunch of innocent souls. But maybe that is why To err is human, to forgive is divine.
But those are big things, news making incidents that we all collectively share in together. It is the small stuff you have to be aware of.
On the day to day agenda of our lives we encounter and are effected by the errors of others. Be it at work or play, we all fall victim to them. I used to get all het up about it, but now I just try and trace it back to its root cause and weigh up the stress I am prepared to endure or pass on for the benefit of my health. I sometimes feel like Columbo when I am doing this but without the dirty raincoat.
And even though I am more like Feargal than Kevin (as are my family and friends) I am well aware of those that "flicked the kick" and those that do not in this live game of Subbuteo we are all involved in to enable a more durable and productive version of the society I live in.
Monday, 10 September 2012
This has been a great year for me so far and the city that I was lucky enough to be born in.
As I discussed in Marmalade, the last few years haven't been particularly good for me. But as I welcomed in the New Year, along with everyone else, I had a sense that this was going to be a new start for me. And so far it has been just that, right on the money.
I was lucky enough to have set targets ahead of me, beacons if you will, that had already been lit and put in place to act as positivity markers that illuminated my new journey.
I fulfilled a lifelong dream and visited New York in January. A gift to me for my last birthday from Child One. It was just incredible. Because of the issues that I had had, I did worry that I would find it all too overwhelming, but in fact, I never felt more at home than I did as we drove from the airport to the our hotel on that first night. It was an inspirational trip that was filled to the brim. I cannot wait to go back there one day.
Next, both children and I went off to Ireland to visit our family there. It had been a while and as I have already explained, my Dad hasn't been well, so off we all went. Again, it was like going home.
I also invested some personal time on my own, just mooching around the city and falling back in love with it. I walked around it, visited places I had always wanted to go, made myself board buses and boats to enable me to map the city in my mind's eye and made a whole host of new and enlightening discoveries. I did it all and loved every damn minute of it.
I realised how far I had come, but I also realised how much I wanted to share it all with another like minded soul.
As I count the days down to my forty-ninth birthday, I feel the lacking more now than at any other time in my life of the need to be connected to another adult that I can share my life with. And here is the weird part, it isn't because I am lonely, it is because for the first time in my life I am happy and I want to share that.
It is a fantastic realisation on which to stumble upon. Quite profound in fact. And what is even more illuminating, is that I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be too long before it becomes a reality.
The story of Pandora's Box illustrates my current situation perfectly. Pandora, a moniker that was very nearly bestowed upon me, was given a box by Zeus to watch over. She was told in no uncertain terms not to open the box or mankind would be doomed. Of course she did, but before it was too late, she managed to close it again. And the only thing that remained in the box was the spirit of hope and mankind was saved.
Young unmarried women used to save items that they had made in their Hope Chests, with which they would furnish their future lives that were still yet to unfold. And I realise now, with all that has gone before and has been stored away in mine, that I am ready for this moment to unfurl.
I have enjoyed being single, it has been fine. I am a dab hand at fixing most things. I can manage my money, I know my limitations and downfalls, I am not too good at knowing when I should really be going to bed for example.
But, and here's the thing, I am missing the presence of a man. I miss the feel of him and the fact that someone will be there as a sounding board for me. I am missing the phones calls to see how I am or when I will be home or if we can attend a do together. I am missing out on the planning and the company of a fellow journeyman to accompany me in the next few chapters of my life, that really should be ours.
I am missing it so much, and I am ready now, for him to arrive and ask me to dance or tell me how attractive I am looking today, or how nice I smell.
I am missing it.
I am missing the shared laughter, the foundations of our companionship and the first kiss and touch and feel of him.
The feel of his chin when he hasn't shaved and the familiarity of his hand in mine and the way I find the back of his neck so attractive.
The way his persona changes when he wears a suit or something more casual.
The life he has lived that has been etched upon his face with such irrevocable grace.
The stories he has to tell about the life he has lived so far, the people he is related to and the hidden talent that he is embarrassed that they might allude too.
The similarities we share and the polarities that we do not.
Most of all I am missing the way he will hold me.
I am missing the way in which we shall just enjoying being.
I want to tell him that I am a worthy adversary that he will be glad of in the coming years.
I want him to see me as I truly am.
You see those couples don't you who are in the throws of the first flush of love.
Their tactile intimacy gives them away.
You don't want to intrude by looking at them, but their enthusiasm for each other demands your attention and draws your gaze. It is so intoxicating that it takes your breath away.
Well, now I am ready to be just like they are because my Hope Chest is so full, that I am having to sit on in order make sure that it is secured.
And so is my heart.
So here I am, ready and waiting for the most incredible journey that with be full of new discoveries and adventures.
Here I am.
On my birthday I shall be surrounded by my friends and family. I am blessed in that way and I shall be raising a glass or two to all that is too come, and will be, and especially to hope.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
One of my overriding memories of my Dad when I was a child was his ability to be able to crack a whole walnut in the crook of his arm. I still don't know if he ever cheated this illusion with a shifty prep with the nutcrackers beforehand, but I was amazed by this feat and thought he was the strongest man in the world.
A few years ago my Dad was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) an incurable cruel degenerative disorder that has already stolen his ability to carry out simple tasks that you and I take for granted on a daily basis.
IBM is a muscle wastage disease. Initially the early signs are indicated by the inability to be able to use your hands to grasps objects properly or a slight weakness in the limbs and then gradually, as it progresses, you find that you are unable to support yourself until one day you suddenly find that you are simply unable to stand. Then your legs just fail you altogether and not only do your muscles become redundant and out of work, but your confidence packs its bags and exits via the gift shop.
IBM has taken away my Dad's strength and has diminished the command he once had over his body. It is heartbreaking.
We had lived all over London during my childhood, but my fixed memories of him only really begin once we had moved to Fulham in the mid sixties.
During this period we once paid a festive visit to Selfridges to go and see Father Christmas. Before you ever reached him, Uncle Holly would be there to entertain you, I wasn't able to make it past old Holly as I fainted due to the heat and remember Dad having to carry me to the in house sick room where I could rest until I felt better. I always felt safe in his arms.
He was quite involved with motor racing and maintained Mini Coopers for a man who raced them. My brothers and I spent many a weekend under the stands at Brands Hatch or Linden Hill, while Dad tinkered with the car before and after the race. He was always busy fixing something.
And he has always been a sociable man and even back then, I can remember the eclectic mix of people that were part of our lives.
Looking back, I should imagine that it was during his Soho days (which pre-dated my arrival) where he met or was introduced to the various people he knew or would get to know. He had always wanted to be an artist, but before he was able to realise his ambition, he worked in a garage below Andrew Logan's studio in Hammersmith.
I remember Dad being in that garage working on the carcass of some car, the smell of oil and the massive can of Swarfega that he used to clean his hands with. That cool bright green jelly like substance would work like magic and rapidly remove all traces of his days work from his hands.
Dad was born in the East end of London. He was one of six children and the second youngest. During the war he was evacuated to the country and during his time there, he rarely saw his family. When he returned after the war, he found that his youngest sister had been adopted and his Mother was living with a man whom he refers to as Pop. I don't know what happened to his Dad Albert, he is an unsolved mystery to this day.
His London had changed and so had he. I have never asked him when or why he decided to be an artist, I really must do that.
After attending art college, he worked at ITN as an editor. He was always good at fixing things and what with his past race connections and a family, he reverted back to the cars and carried on. He was very good at it.
It was only when he moved to Ireland over thirty years ago that he actually loaded his brush and started to paint. And paint he did the most beautiful landscapes you could ever imagine.
Now you're thinking, yes well you would say that, but seriously, if you get a chance, look up his work, he is a very talented and underrated artist. Inspired by Turner and a lover of Rothko, you will be able to witness for yourself his glorious use of colour and his abstract interpretation of the landscapes that have surrounded him throughout his life.
I am a big fan of Terry Searle's work and I am fortunate enough to have collated a vast and varied collection of his work.
I was lucky enough to be treated to a visit to New York earlier this year. I thought about him a lot while I was there. I thought about all the walking I did and how he would never be able to do that. I made sure I visited most of the major art galleries and took as many photographs as possible so that I could show them to him. When I stood in front of a Rothko I will admit that I cried.
When he first became unwell he told me not too worry, but of course I do.
A few years ago after a minor disagreement, we didn't speak for over a year, I could kicked myself now for the stubbornness of my nature and the time we lost. But we made amends and I am glad that we did.
I realised recently that out of his three biological children of which I am the only girl, that I am actually more like him than my brothers are.
I am pragmatic to the core like him and never see a reason why something cannot be fixed instead of replaced.
He once oversaw the build of his own house, the first one constructed out of wood in West Cork, all the locals thought he was a bit mad and surmised that it would probably catch fire and burn to the ground. It never has and is still a lovely house. This is the sort of maverick undertaking I would consider myself. How hard can it be?
My brothers are not this way inclined, but I am, so I have come to conclude that I have inherited the same industrious spirit of adventure that he has.
And just like my Dad, in my middle age, I have at last grown into myself and have discovered the world and have at last realised what I am happy doing.
But of course, this makes me realise how difficult it must be for him to no longer be afforded the choices he once had.
He used to come and stay with me while he was on route to somewhere or returning from a trip. But now he will never be able to do that ever again.
Armed with this realisation, I have turned the tables and have started to visit him as often as I can in Ireland.
It isn't a hardship on my behalf to make this journey, it is a pleasure to be able to just spend time with him. What we talk about is of no consequence, just being is fine.
During my last visit we talked about this visiting business and we both got teary because this disease has taken away his right to choose. His liberty has been removed and I can't imagine how frustrating that must be.
All that said, he has a very positive outlook on in all. He is surrounded by family and friends who love and care for him and despite his illness, he has the look of a man at least fifteen years younger than one of 76.
And to me, he will always be and remain the man who cracked walnuts in the crook of his arm, regardless of anything else.