Posted in Events, Reading

Swish, Swish!

After volunteering to help man the Swishing rail at a village event run by our local Women’s Institute (WI) later this month, it occurs to me that perhaps I ought to find out exactly what I am letting myself in for. I know that in this context swishing means swapping clothes, but I’m intrigued by the derivation of the term.

In a word association test, the first words that pop into my head after “swish” are “of the Curtain, (The)” – the title of one of my favourite books when I was a child. Pamela Brown’s classic children’s novel is the first in a series about seven young people who transform a disused chapel into their own theatre company. The sound of the stage curtains swishing open symbolises the success of their project and the lure of the acting life.

cover of vintage copy of The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Browne
My favourite Swish ever

When I first read The Swish of the Curtain when I was about 12, I was going through a brief stage-struck phase, attending the Saturday morning drama club at the famous Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, literally at the end of the road where I grew up in Sidcup, Kent. The book inspired young actors everywhere, but it also fuelled my more enduring ambition to write fiction, because Brown started writing her novel when she was just 13, finishing it when she was 16..

Like Brown’s book, the Swishing Movement, founded in 2000 by Lucy Shea, also takes its name from the sound of rustling fabric, in this case of the alluring sound of moving silk.

But it’s also tangentially related to “cattle-rustling”, ie cattle theft. The Swishing website defines it as “to rustle clothes from friends”.

Engraving of The Great Cattle Raid during the American Civil War
Quite a different kind of swishing – the Beefsteak Raid during the American Civil War (Public domain, via Wikipedia)

This is because at a Swishing event, no money is exchanged – you just take along old, unwanted fashion items and help yourself to new. Well, new-to-you, anyway.

I don’t suppose cattle-rustlers ever swapped their old unwanted cattle for new ones better suited to their current personal style, so there the similarity of their rustling habits end.

The thesaurus lists “swish” as a synonym for “posh”. That’s also appropriate for swishing events, as items donated should all be of good quality and in good repair, rather than of jumble-sale standard.

Swishing events thus provide a great opportunity to refresh your wardrobe with covetable clothes without spending money or impacting the environment.

So this month, if you’re within reach of Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall on Saturday 18th February and you fancy revamping your wardrobe for free, with swish clothes that may or may not rustle while you move, you know what to do.

Just don’t bring any cattle.

Any lower-quality garments you’d like to dispose of can be donated in the charity’s collection bin outside the Village Hall or sold on a stall at the Tabletop Sale that takes place the following Saturday 25 February.


This post was first written for the February 2023 edition of the Hawkesbury Parish News

Posted in Events, Family, Personal life, Writing

My Past Writing Year

Before sharing my goals for 2023, I’ve been looking back on what I achieved in 2022 – which was rather more than I expected! 

At the turn of the year, when I sat down to set my writing goals for 2023 – more on those in next week’s post – I decided first to list my writing-related achievements in 2022, on the principle that writing a “what I did today” list always makes my next day’s to-do list look less daunting.

Here’s what I came up with (I’ve typed the numbers in figures rather than words to make it easier to follow):

Continue reading “My Past Writing Year”

Posted in Events, Personal life

Dream On

My first blog post of 2023 is the column I wrote for the January issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News – a very important institution in the life of a little Cotswold village like mine!

I’m the kind of optimist who not only sees the glass as half-full, but is jolly grateful to have a glass, and assumes it must be made of the finest crystal.

That’s not to say I’m oblivious to darker times. But when life seems grim, I unleash a handy collection of mantras that make me feel better.

  • “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, I tell myself. (Clichés are clichés for a reason, you know.)
  • “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” (Thank you for that one, Percy Bysshe Shelley – especially handy as winter is my least favourite season.)
  • If I’m in a musical frame of mind, I simply channel D:Ream and play “Things can only get better” on a loop in my head.

But as this new year dawns, I’m feeling wary. For the last few years, I’ve started every January thinking, “This has got to be a better year than the last one”. Then along comes something worse.

What a run of disasters we have had lately: Trump, Brexit, Covid, more Covid, the war in Ukraine, and all the economic and political fall-out those crises induced. Not to mention ever-stranger weather, indicative of frightening climate changes.

With apologies to Samuel Johnson, who described second marriage as “the triumph of hope over experience,” experience is threatening to triumph over hope.

Yet my inner optimist will out, and as I list those disasters, over which I had no control, bar the right to vote and to get vaccinated, I realise it’s still within my power to make 2023 a better year in small ways.

So 2023 will be the year that I will vow never to run out of teabags, or milk for my morning tea…

photo of box of 480 tea bags
Bonus point: if you buy M&S Luxury Gold teabags in bulk, they work out cheaper than Everyday teabags!

or the cats’ favourite treats, Dreamies:

box of 350 Dreamies
Downside: the Mega Tub might make my three cats a bit tubby too

And if I’m setting the bar that low, doesn’t that mean things can only get better? Let’s live in hope.

Wishing you a new year full of whatever makes you happy.

In my next post, I’ll be reviewing my writing achievements in 2022 and sharing my writing plans for 2023. 

PS My new year’s resolution is to publish a new blog post every Wednesday! Let’s see how that goes…