Here's some of my earlier writings:
Do You Mind?
You don’t want to look into my mind. I don’t want to look into my mind. A deep void of slathering, pretty pink goo. It’s actually not a bad mind, as minds go, but it’s a sensitive butterfly. A colourful one, but a butterfly nonetheless. Settles on something for a moment, ruminates silently and digests it, is distracted by something else equally interesting, and flutters off at a tangent without even a ta ta. I’m a Jill of a number of trades. My mind has a mind of its own. It’s a Renaissance Soul.
Take Mozart (to the pub if necessary…). He pursued his main interest and became a legend because of it. Now take Benjamin Franklin: inventor, printer, statesman, scientist, journalist. Absolute Renaissance Soul. Thirdly, take Leonardo Da Vinci. This man had so many interests he couldn’t keep up with himself. An artist, scientist, inventor, engineer among others. He was the Renaissance Soul. Now, I’m not a genius like he was (here’s always hoping…) but I often joke that I have gazzillions of interests. So many I wish I was an octopus or an ant. Unfortunately, like Leo, projects lie unfinished, abandoned and coated with dust, because something else caught my eye and possibly looked a tad more interesting. I read, I watch telly. (When involved in all this, I totally ignore my loved ones - who object hotly - and object hotly but silently myself when someone comes to call if it’s evening when I’m absorbed.) I listen to people, and something catches my attention and I’m scribbling in my notebook for later reference. I love learning. I habitually watch Eggheads and feel proud of myself when I manage to answer obscure questions. I was really pleased when I correctly answered the question: ‘What was the name of Eagle comics Dan Dare’s companion?’ Digby. The name had comfortably esconsed itself in the cobwebs of my mind all these years after reading my brothers’ comics until now, when needed. Fancy that.
Talking of learning, I hated school, particularly primary, tolerating secondary because I had no choice, and detested games – PE, PT – whatever you want to call it. Double games on Wednesday afternoons. The very termsgames and teams trembles dread up my spine to this day. I almost preferred maths (at least, on the whole, no-one would kick you painfully on the shin and call you rude names…). I was not brilliant at passing exams, failing English Lit despite having read Pride andPrejudice three times and hating it each time (no DVDs in those days…)
and also failing French three times. (Can’t not call me stubborn, that’s for certain.) How I acquired CSE grade three maths I’ll never know.
But times change, and years later my mind’s creativity and desire to learn positively bulge and I couldn’t give a dooda about past under-achievements. (Today it’s political correctedly called ‘learning opportunities.’ Pff. )
Yes, I’ve recovered from my school’s Pink Floyd Brick in the Wall quashing and it’s easier to say what doesn’t interest me. What makes me leave the room to make tea when the box is on? Not much. Wild life (you know – the mating habits of the hairy squat lobster…). Greek and other myths. Poetry. Astrology. I’m interested and fascinated by so many other things I grow giddy thinking about it. Quite apart from my major interests (art, wild west, travel and writing…) there’s medicine, space exploration, history of photography, the paranormal, archaeology, architecture, travel, boating, flying, cinema, gardens, social history, collecting curios…I feel weary just thinking about it all.
Unfortunately - and this is where this mind is a pain in the posterior - my brain, quite apart from being super-sensitive to the point of neurosis (the mere thought of a kitten glistens the eye…) occasionally likes to be tucked up in bed with a nice cup of tea till it feels normal. This put paid to ambitions of indulging in any of the above for years. I hope to make up for this.
Renaissance souls were – and possibly still are – frowned upon. ‘Why can’t you settle to just one thing?’ ‘You’re hopeless. You’re a real butterfly.’ What’s wrong with that, I ask? Just because folk in the past remained in one place all their lives – stability – doesn’t mean we should. Provided we’re not breaking any laws or hurting anyone, bouncing around from one thing to the other can fill one with spark and enthusiasm. I’ve read much about these folk. They simply can’t decide. So much fascinates them. I feel like that. Several times over past months I’ve thought: ‘Perhaps I should just stick to two or three things.’ But the idea didn’t add up. I’d find myself in the middle of one thing, writing an article for instance, when the idea of investigating a subject I’d thought I’d forgo would pop into my head and forgoing it would be forgone. Or I’d be in an antique shop, fascinated by a two-hundred year old sailor’s cap (yes, I did see one for forty quid), when unexpectedly the idea of researching Victorian unmentionables would pop into my cranium.
It can be fun, this Rennaissance Soul lark, so this is where ants and octopi come in. Lots of arms and nippy. As it is, two arms, two legs and a pathetic runner (told you I didn’t like PE), I’m just a struggling human. Having said that, old Leo – he of the groovy beard and robes - possessed the same number of limbs, and speed didn’t seem to be his thing either, so how come he managed to do so much? Or Benjamin Franklin, the same? It boils down to insatiable curiosity, a craving to learn, a need for variety.
It was obviously all in their minds.