Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On the hill:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Elegy of gateposts

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lookee what I found when I was trying to see how Malaysian players were doing at badminton...blush! OK he's not Malaysian, but I think he's the current no.1 - Lin Dan from China. For a while in 2004 he was ranked below Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia who was no. 1 at the time, and is now no.4 - but that's pretty good. They are both born in October and the Malaysian is a year older. I did not get quite as good a pic - but you can compare them:

hmm, bit bony - but we wish him luck!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Very small voice by my ear goes," Mummy, daddy says to come and have fish fingers and scrambled eggs."

I sit up in bed. "Are you sure that's what's for breakfast?"

Big grins, "Oh, oh. oh, I think so."

"Better go check, honey"

Little voice fading down the stairs," Daddy..."

Reappearance - "Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, mummy."

I am spoilt, aren't I? It came with fresh squeezed orange juice, capers and spring onions and crisp soldiers of toast.

Hurray for the gourmet!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Swans on the water.

Friday, March 23, 2007

This is the hill where I live one winter evening. I love how the setting sun has lit up the sky just over the trees, and how the rays of light are thrown up into the air above it.

I love how I know all the paths on the north side, but have to still learn the paths to the south. I love the steepness of the steps making you wrestle for your breath like wrestling with an angel on Jacob's Ladder.

I love how the wild garlic has unfurled through the woods on the cliff and how the fallen tree stumps compose the wilderness. Birdsong is everywhere. Tight buds on trees are waiting for the mild fingers of sunshine to tease them open.

I love how the tame robin eyes me in the garden as it pulls up a juicy worm and snaps up half right in front of me. The celandines invading the grass are so mirror bright, I love the little grass spiders sunning themselves like tiny folded crabs.

I love how the phalanxes of seagulls circle below in the city, but never come up this high. I love the ferny streams in the gullies. The ordered allotments lie quietly together in a civilised manner, raspberry and bean canes in a row.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Malaysian High Commission

Every five years or so, holders of Malaysian passports gravitate towards Belgrave Square to renew their passports. They alight at Victoria Station and strike straight down Lower Belgrave Road, which turns into Upper Belgrave Road which leads to the Jalur Gemilang (flag) fluttering above the basement premises at the Square itself.

Perhaps they may pause at the photobooth at the station to get their passport photos (£4) or head to Kennington Road after 9am to the hardware shop where a spotty youth may aim the camera at you himself, and try to get your face absolutely straight while you press yourself up to the wall and try not to blink(£6).

Get there at 8.30am to put your name down in the book on the wooden "pulpit" at the front of the room. The formidable lady who processes you will not even speak to you unless your name is there.

Sit down and read all the signs on the wall. They generally contain vital info which one may find in the FAQ section of any good website. If the High Commission had a website which worked, they might not have to repeat themselves so much, as this information could be disseminated this way.

This lady is the heroine of the establishment, day after day, year after year, she mounts the wooden step and dispenses firmness, information, forms (25p), maps to passport photo takers, translation, humour and genuine kindness to those she judges are deserving - the truly clueless souls of our country wandering lost in this foreign land. She occasionally breaks out in a spirited lecture to those needing one for their own good eg. for not ever renewing their IC since they were 12. And no excuses for never going back to get one. She gives you a number while you scramble to get all the pieces of your application together and come prepared to use your Form 5 Malay. Without this lady, the world would not go round for the High Commission - I hope they recognise the jewel in their crown.

Proceed to the back room with the glassed in counters, they will call your number to hand in all your papers. Sit down. Then you go up again to press your thumbs against the machine and in the ink. Sit down. Then you sign another bit. Sit down. After 20 minutes they hand you an all-important receipt and say come back at 3pm. It is now about 11am. A major breakthrough.

Run away and occupy yourself. Drink a few cups of coffee or tea in a cafe and read a book... Have some Nasi Lemak or Mee Goreng from the canteen under the stairs and a bottle of water (£3.80). While you are doing all this you are also trying to answer nicely all the personal questions people are asking you because your mum taught you to be polite, but you think she should have also taught you to be rude.

Being Malaysian you plan where you might go to eat lunch. I found this place here close to Lower Belgrave Road towards Buckingham Palace - it was absolutely packed full of people! It was called Noodle Noodle.

They had a problem seating one person but were very nice about it and took my order first so I wouldn't have to wait. They seated me at the window:

I had some good warming seafood noodles with tender well cooked seafood: 2 mussels, 2 scallops, tender squid and prawns and fresh veg for £6.95. I was happy.

Then walk it off back to Belgrave Square by 2.30pm to wait to pick up your passport - at 3pm you go straight to the room at the back where they will call your name roughly in the order of the morning - listen carefully! And if you're lucky, then it's time to get another tub of Nasi Lemak for your dinner because you have been too tired from waiting around too much - and home you go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Badminton and other Sport

Aunty Siti lets us play in her corner garden. We are the children from across the road, although I am just visiting. I come here every week after music lessons to stay with Aunty Lin. For some reason, no one is home at my house. Sharon, John and Tommy are my gracious hosts. I went to kindergarten with Sharon who is the eldest, and to Sunday School. I don’t really remember doing any of that, but our parents remain friends and they kindly take me in. I am a bookworm. I shun althletic activities, though on sports days they make me run the 100m and do the high jump. John and the neighbour boys have set up ping-pong; and when we tire of that, there are badminton games to keep us playing all afternoon.

However, being with the other kids is lively. We are all about 10 or 11 or 12. Suddenly I relish the competition, the precise click of the ping-pong ball and the airy thwack of the shuttlecock on the sweet spot of the racket obsess me and I begin to actually play a sport. For once, I emerge from the world of dreams and feel the grass spring under my Bata shoes as I leap in the air in Aunty Siti’s garden.

The neighbour boys are all related to each other, they are two sets of brothers who live next door. They call themselves Little Brother – Big Brother/ Little Cousin – Big Cousin in the chinese custom. Later on, they may get English names, as is the Malaysian custom. Little Brother is their leader, despite being the youngest. He is born in the Year of the Monkey, and he is mercurial. I have yet to meet any other boy who talks as much as he does. He organises us. Shoves us into doubles teams. The months go by and we have all played against each other and partnered each other in turn. Mostly I speak with Little Brother, as he is the most expressive. We are the communication twins, we make leaps of imagination together. The others speak cantonese among themselves. I can understand it. The cousins don’t speak much English and Older Brother stands aloof because he is older.

Everyone is intent on the game, we move aside for our doubles games, stepping up for the stroke of our bats, of our slams and smashes. No one ever bumps into each other. It is rhythmic, even graceful, and mostly silent except for Little Brother’s commentary, his story which pulls us through the days and months.

Of course everything changes one day. We are all talking through the fence. What game do we play today? Little Brother wants me to choose. But he doesn’t want me to choose the game, he wants me to choose the boy I like the best. Little Brother is insistent and emotional. I guess now, it is because he knows inside that he is my 11-year old soul mate and he wants me to declare it. I feel anxious and betrayed. The games stop abruptly as the boys prowl the chain link fence, and I hide with Sharon, John and Tommy in their shared room and wring my hands. There is an older, more experienced shade of me which stands in the corner of my gaze. This other me knows disaster is approaching. I cannot choose Little Brother, he is too little and he has forced my hand. He’s lured me into my body and now he wants to pin down my mind.

I think that if I were older, I would like to have a crush on Little Cousin, he doesn’t say much but he has a noble brow and seems like a decent and honorable fellow. So I tell Little Brother this. I write Little Cousin a poem which he doesn’t understand and he is nonplussed by it. No one speaks to me, and Little Brother is wrathful. I can feel it emanating from the blank windows next door. Aunty Siti’s garden is silent. She must wonder where the children have gone. I never play badminton again as I have learned the shame of choosing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Before I leave the Spleen...

I want to talk about Damp. Damp and the Spleen go together because when Spleen is tired it doesn't digest your food very well, or transform it properly into the energy we need. Do you find that picture disturbing? I never thought I would post a picture of a tongue on my blog, but I think it is important to illustrate both Spleen deficiency and Damp coating. When I am working, all I am thinking about is getting the information from the tongue I am looking at, so I never have a problem. Damp is often prevalent when you live in a humid place, such as Malaysia or chilly wet place, such as southwest England. In hot countries, it appears as Damp-Heat, which could be something like a red, itchy rash or inflamed arthritis.In cold guessed it, Damp-Cold could just be an ache in your bones when the Siberian wind is blowing and the rain is sheeting down, or very stiff arthritis.

Damp is also associated with having high yeast levels, like candida in your body. So eating too many sugary things aggravate it - or drinking too much beer or wine (sorry folks!) - Damp makes the system very sluggish.

So to help your Spleen recover, you may also have to spend a few weeks cutting down on sugar and alcohol as well as getting some sleep and chewing your (warm) food very slowly...can it be done?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Are you taking care of your Spleen?

In Chinese Medicine, Spleen is Earth Energy, our giving Qi. If you stick out your tongue and look at it in the mirror, do you see anything like teethmarks on the edges by the tip? If you see those, your Spleen is run down and needs some TLC.

Characteristically, most people in the caring professions have teethmarks on their tongue - unless they are remarkably balanced individuals. Also, people who worry a lot and don't sleep enough. Or people who never sit down to have a meal. Hmm, parenting probably qualifies for all three. Early parenting anyway. Later parenting probably involves trying to get everyone to actually sit down with you for a meal.

Other indications of Spleen disharmony: bad digestion - too slow or too fast; easily bruised; varicose veins; stiff muscles, fuzzy head. oh and yeah - Chocolate cravings.

Spleen usually needs a lot of nourishing. You probably do too. I probably do as well.

Daverick Legett knows a lot about how to eat for your spleen. Nice warming foods. No salads. Porridge with honey, that kind of thing - orange food - butternut squash, pumpkin with ginger...and sit down and chew.

Spend some time with your feet on the ground or digging in the garden. Spending time just in your head drains the Spleen.

Essential oils for your spleen: Cardamom, yum! geranium, cedarwood, cypress - blend with citruses to be nice to Liver and Stomach so they all play nice. Just off the top of my head...

Point to press if not pregnant: Spleen 6- place 4 finger widths over the anklebone on big toe side - press hard on the point which feels like someone is sticking you with a letter opener. Ouch! You found it. Maybe some regular attention to it may alleviate Spleen tiredness - or actually sleeping, or eating without rushing out the door, or worrying about stuff...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Hummus and the Haggis

Mr G and i had separate dinners last night. There has been a shortage of hummus in the UK for the last week due to the company which supplies all major retailers of hummus having a problem with salmonella!,,2015332,00.html

Mr G being a hummus lover, had been deprived of his hummus and experienced withdrawal symptoms. He discovered the hummus supply restored yesterday and arrived home bearing a pot of organic manna from M&S and pitta bread to go with it. I, in the meanwhile had unknowingly got out the Haggis for dinner - you know, chopped lambs lungs, beef hearts and liver - this one not stuffed in a sheeps stomach. We do appreciate Haggis in this house too, we had this one in the freezer since Burns night and it needed to be eaten with mashed potato, turnips, nice green cabbage and generous gratings of black pepper. So I had mostly Haggis, and he had mostly Hummus.

As we sat there sharing the hummus and the haggis, I experienced a moment of peace and contentment that Mr G and I, who are opposite in many ways, were at One in our differences.

Friday, March 02, 2007

You know, blogging takes an unprecedented degree of technical bravery. Not only that, you have to dissect your own identity and decide which parts of yourself will be on display: which is your public face, your dark side or your avatar. OK, I'll admit there's a part of me who likes filling in forms and ticking boxes, that's what has got me this far.

I'm a little bit worried though, I've spent the past two years trying to take all the comparmentalised parts of my self and integrate them. Have them see each other, talk to each other, mention one another while speaking to other people. Blogging makes them want to go their separate ways again. Be one thing to each person. This doesn't seem to be the case for most people - many people seem to want to present all the parts to themselves, but I'm naive. It's all probably still part of the illusion.

It'll take a little while for me to figure out what this is all about and what it is all for. Happy to take that learning curve. Feel the walls of the room I'm in streeeetch a little.

see ya'll