Monthly Archives: September 2015

Can you believe this writer? He does not write in coffee shops…

cartoon by Paul F Newman

Anne W and Friend write in a coffee shop

Cartoon by Paul F Newman

I’ve been following Robert’s writers’ blog for a while and would heartily recommend it to those of us fatally addicted to attempting to communicate via the spoken word. This grumpy but funny post about not writing in coffee shops ( can you believe it? This man does not like coffee! ) gave me a good giggle. Do you recognise your writing habits here? Do tell!!

101 Books

Confession: I’ve never written a single word in a coffee shop.

Confession number two: I don’t recall ever taking a laptop inside a coffee shop.

Confession number three: I hate coffee. Like, I loathe coffee. It smells like a combination of cigarettes and skunk.

That being the case, I’m a terrible candidate to be a novelist.

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Books, books, glorious books…in praise of Indie Book Stores…

There we were, the 6’5″ nephew and myself, leaving Waterstone’s, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, UK last year without buying a book. What a triumph of willpower over two lots of biblio-addiction! And then –  a title caught my eye: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops”

This book is irresistible!

This book is irresistible!

“Hang on a minute”, I said to the nephew, ” just a quick look. I won’t buy it, honest…”

However, after a fast flick revealed the following gems offered by its author, Jen Campbell : ‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ ‘Excuse me… is this book edible?’ I gave in. Yes, Reader, you have guessed correctly. I bought it – and went on to have the best laugh I had had for ages, perusing (as one five-star reviewer memorably put it )‘… some absolute howlers from the misinformed beast that is the general public…’

This affecting little tale is offered to demonstrate two things. One, the fundamentally irresistible nature of books to book addicts, in this case the nephew and myself.( It is always a great comfort to share book addiction with a fellow spirit). And two, the importance of having a good bookshop in your local area into which you can stroll any time you feel like distracting yourself from Life’s Onerous Challenges (fill in according to your particular current oppression). If there is also good coffee on offer, so much the better.

The above will explain why I could barely contain my excitement over this summer on finding out that an independent bookshop, ie a new branch of Waterstones,  was returning to Byres Road, Glasgow, about fifteen years after our much loved and lamented local John Smith’s bookshop had fallen victim to the march of regress.

The shop has received a warm welcome from shoppers in Glasgow’s West End. “Almost every single person who has come in has complimented the staff, the store and the fact that we’re here,” reported bookshop manager Xavier Jones-Barlow shortly after the shop opened on 29th August. The following day, I was fortunate to capture a moment of fun and frolic whilst passing by.

No, not Hallowe'en...

No, not Hallowe’en…

 No, I was assured, it wasn’t Hallowe’en in a time warp. It was a book launch. Waterstones has started as it means to go on!

What is the indie book situation where you live? I’d be most interested to know. I found a cheering article from earlier this year on USA’s The Daily Beast, titled Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying , which carried the following optimistic comment: “In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S. They have always been and will always be anchors in many communities.”

So – let’s all go out there and support our local bookstores, shall we? And the next time I visit your  friendly and brilliantly well-stocked Waterstones store, Xavier, I promise the nephew and I will buy at least one book each…

Books!

Books!

500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/”Witches” Photo copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

To change the world – start in your own back yard!

We don’t need astrologers to tell us we are living in a period of remarkable turbulence and change. The evidence is all around us: from our teetering and corrupt banking systems, to the declining health of Planet Earth whose dominant species, humans, at current rates of consumption require the resources of three and a half planet earths to sustain us. Amongst many problems greatly on the increase against this backdrop are obesity, social inequality, the social and economic burdens of an ageing population – and fast rising anxiety and depression rates.

Our Beautiful Planet:Facebook

Our Beautiful Planet/Facebook

Apparently the overall index of increased happiness as material prosperity grew, peaked in the mid-seventies, then declined. The rot, it seems, set in in 1976….

However, humans have always been incredibly adaptable creatures and there is plenty of room for optimism in the midst of the current gloom. We are poised collectively on an interesting cusp, which many people see as the pivotal point of recognition that the materialist project which has so dominated all life since the rise of Age of Reason in the 18th Century is crumbling, and a new world order or paradigm is emerging.

Materialism has brought us incredible advances, but is bringing our planet and the systems governing our collective lives, to a dangerous edge.

The new paradigm emerging, in essence, invites us to respect and work with the ecological balance of our home planet. It also invites us to recognise that there are many levels to “Reality” – the material level is just one of these. It is not suggesting that we should attempt to put the genie of progress back in the bottle and recreate a “Golden Age” which never existed.

It invites us to go forward into the future bearing the best that scientific and material progress has to offer, but also the best of what human civilisation has distilled over its six thousand years of social evolution which offers proven nourishment of both a physical and spiritual nature to all life on Planet Earth.

We can see evidence of this new paradigm’s emergence all over the planet in large and small ways. To give just one example, the principles of the “Slow Food” movement which began in Italy over two decades ago have taken root and flourished all over the world.

All of us, at a collective, local, and personal level have a part we can play in this paradigm shift. I have been posting now for several years, reporting the remarkable developments taking place in our local area of the city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK, via The Children’s Wood campaign which promotes outdoor education and community activity  via a precious patch of wild land  – which we are fighting to save from the clutches of developers.

Children's Wood Protest

Children’s Wood Protest

What’s happening where you are?

Drop by. Comment. Do let me know!

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/ ‘Not for Sale!’ Photo copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

As summer ends…the sea, glorious woods, and TWO Buddhas!

The sea, the sea…taken from the window of our train at Dawlish, en route to Totnes, Devon, UK. I love gazing out at horizons. A favourite memory is of sitting at a street cafe in the atmospheric seaside town of Lagos, Portugal, gazing out at a vast, shimmering horizon. Henry the Navigator, in the 15th Century, had boldly gone across that very line into the Great Unknown. It was 1995 – the start of a boldly-going period of human expansiveness. Little did we know then that technology was poised to deliver the Internet worldwide, changing all our lives. And I was poised for an educational adventure of my own..

The sea, the sea!

The sea, the sea!

Here is some local colour out and about round Totnes, Devon, UK where we were running away, hiding from our home in Glasgow’s extensive repainting job. First, cousin Michael’s wonderful flower garden. Second, Buckfast Abbey’s sumptuous gilded interior, after its extensive restoration. And last but not least: Ian doing some hands-on healing on a very quirky stone Buddha. Always the optimist, that man…😜

Glorious Garden

Glorious Garden

Gilded Altar, Buckfast Abbey, UK

Gilded Altar, Buckfast Abbey, UK

Will it work?

Will it work?

We spent a morning walking in the beguilingly beautiful, tranquil Dartington Estate, upriver from Totnes, in glorious autumn sunshine. And found, tucked away, another Buddha. A delightful highlight, complete with sunflower offering from us.

Buddha with Sunflower

Buddha with Sunflower

And now – we are home…but Totnes always seems to call us back...

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250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/ Photos copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page