Posted in Family, Travel

The Perfect Job

Strolling down The Ramblas in Barcelona, the leafy pedestrian thoroughfare that slices through this great city, we can’t help but fall into the traps that have been laid for the unwary tourist.  Passing by the many living statues, we toss coins liberally into their collection boxes.

The statues are spectacular and imaginative, ranging from all-white classical Romans in togas to space-age superheroes.  There is a diminutive Charlie Chaplin, a giant baby in a pram, a man with two heads and another with no head at all, employing the same clever technique as the invisible man that we (didn’t) see in the Park Guell.  A particular favourite is what seems at first to be an abandoned fruit stall.  As soon as we look at it, a fruit-covered man emerges from the display where he has been effectively camouflaged, holding out a fruit-bedecked hat for Laura to wear for a photo.

Laura is entranced, if a little wary.  The more experienced statues know how to overcome children’s shyness and proffer coloured glass beads and marbles to encourage them.  I find the marble policy particularly pleasing as Laura is diabetic.  In any case, if they were offering sweets, the whole proposition would seem rather seedy.

We also encounter musicians on the Metro, to which Laura obligingly dances.  She is hoping for a Spanish flamenco dress as a souvenir and is certainly meriting one on her performance.  The quality of the music is very high – a delicate rendition of Bach on a mandolin, cocktail lounge favourites courtesy of duetting guitarists, soothing Sinatra from a trumpeter.  Again, I’m easily parted from my money.
Soon I am slipping any coins I receive as change into my trouser pocket, for ease of access whenever we pass another street performer.  When we encounter any plain common-or-garden beggars, of which there are plenty, I am hardened to their entreaties.

“Can’t you put a little more effort into your act?” I want to say to them.  “Show a little creativity, won’t you?  The competition is pretty stiff, you know.”

The sun comes out and we head for the beach, happy to pass a couple of hours making sandcastles for Laura’s Polly Pocket dolls.  We gather tiny pebbles, driftwood and sea-smoothed glass to make Gaudi-inspired mosaics as decoration.
Finally, after dipping our toes in the Mediterranean – still quite cold, despite the 20 degree heat of the day – we head back along the promenade, passing  magnificent sand sculptures, each the work of a young African man lurking nearby.  There is a wonderful castle with high arches.
“How does he get sand to levitate?” I wonder.  And a waterfall.
“A concealed pump,” my husband surmises.
The sculptor has clearly come well prepared.  A giant dog, very simple but vast, pleases my daughter, though she gives a basking sand crocodile a wide berth.  Cue for more redistribution of my wealth.  I’m all out of coins by the time we leave the beach.

Laura has fallen into a quiet, pensive state.

“Perhaps I won’t be an artist or an inventor when I grow up,” she confides eventually.  “I think I know what I want to be now.  I’ll be a person who makes a model and people have to put money in their tin.”

Relaxing in the late afternoon sunshine, as we stroll back to our hotel, I decide that she is definitely on to something.

Posted in Uncategorized

Debbie Young Has Left the Building

Well, that’s that.  After 13 years, I’ve finally leapt off the treadmill of my salaried job and jumped on to the rollercoaster of life as a freelance.

Time now to reboot my brain, erase the files that are surplus to requirements and make space to record all that my new status will bring.  It’s time to break all those habits, from the 6.30am alarm to the 6.30pm restorative glass of wine, and to go where my fancy takes me.  I might even throw away my watch.

There will be no updates to this blog for the next week, then I’ll be back and raring to go – so please do come back to visit.  In the meantime, happy half term, everyone.  Oh, I forgot – I don’t need to think in terms anymore.  This rebooting may take a little longer than I had anticipated .
Posted in Uncategorized

On the Evening of My Last Day at Work

Dr Who and I have a lot in common.  Every now and again, we can’t help it, we just have to regenerate. I’ve reinvented myself several times during my adult life: I’ve been married, widowed, married again, then become a mother.  In career terms too: a journalist, a PR consultant, a marketeer.  All along, it’s been the same old me underneath, but I’ve just added another layer, an extra dimension.  I’ve just evolved a little bit further.

I feel quite a lot like Mary Poppins, too.  No matter how much I’ve loved my current job – I’ve danced on the rooftops, fed the birds, tidied the nursery, ridden the carousel – I know in my heart that it’s time to slip away and move on. And while Jane and Michael Banks might think they can’t function without me, not only will they manage, but soon they won’t miss me at all.  I’ve imparted sufficient wisdom.  My work here is done.

I’ve had a sign in my office for some years that says “When your heart speaks, take good notes”.  (Not far from the one that says “The Romans didn’t build an empire by having meetings – they did it by killing everyone who opposed them.”)

The thing is, no matter how much you enjoy the carousel ride, sometimes you just want to get off and have a go on the dodgems. And in a few hours’ time, I’m going to climb aboard.
Posted in Family, Type 1 diabetes

Birthday Thoughts & Diabetes

I’ve got a big birthday with a 0 on the end of it today, and happy it certainly is.

Working on the embryonic links page of this website, I realise that if I add all those that are currently floating around in my head, I will soon give the game away that I have a complete butterfly mind.  So I think I had better prioritise.

At the top of this list of priorities will be the JDRF website.  (Note to self: don’t forget to let them know, just in case they want to add a hotlink to mine – inbound links are so  good for raising your profile on search engines.)

What’s JDRF?  It’s a fabulous charity with a global network raising money to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.  This lifelong illness is becoming an epidemic among children, requiring invasive, daily administration of the hormone insulin by multiple injections or a permanently connected pump infusion.  Every Type 1 diabetic child must also draw blood umpteen times a day to check that they have not overdosed or underdosed and to help them hit the right balance of blood sugar so that they neither pass out (or worse) or fur up their blood vessels, causing long-time serious organ damage.  This balance is particularly hard to strike in babies diagnosed (and there are plenty of diabetics whose age is represented only by a 0 at the end) and in children going through growth spurts and adolescents.

My small and otherwise perfect daughter acquired this incurable disease a few days before her fourth birthday, and so began our 24/7 battle with this unpredictable and unruly condition.  Why did she get it?  No-one knows.  It’s not to be confused with Type 2 diabetes, generally associated (rather  unfairly) with poor lifestyle choice, to which some people and certain media have taken a “serve you right” stance.  Type 1 diabetes is just one of life’s many lotteries, the prize being the kind that no-one wants to win.

Asked to describe herself in a single word, my daughter would say “diabetic” – and no child should have to give that answer.

Ever since I was her age, my reply for myself would be “writer”, and I am grateful for that.  I’m grateful for the talents I have been given, but I’d trade them all in tomorrow for a cure for diabetes.  That will be my wish when I blow out the candles on my cake today, but that alone is not going to make it happen.  In the meantime, I vow to do something that absolutely is in my power to help the cause: I will offer the JDRF my writing services free of charge and I will also tithe all commissions I get from here on it to benefit their invaluable work.

So – no presents, please – but if you want to make a donation to JDRF, please click on the link.
Posted in Family, Personal life

Red Is The Colour

Spend the day reorganising my study, adding more and more items coloured the bright red of a certain fast-food outlet which I’m not naming here for fear that I might then have to raise my rates to cover legal fees.

I know that it is an energising colour and surrounding yourself with it is meant to speed up all your activities, including the demolition of fast food in their case, so I’m hoping it will work with my writing assignments too.  (Or at least give me the energy to change out of my pyjamas on the right side of lunchtime each day.)

On my most recent trip to said fast-food outlet, made at the insistence of my small daughter, I discovered it is now offering free Wi-Fi.  A smart executive type sat discreetly in one corner tapping away at her laptop, apparently undisturbed by the sound of numerous small children enjoying their tea and rather bigger children seeing how much they could swear before being threatened with eviction by the manager.

This new development must surely increase the average dwell-time of the customer, against all the usual business principles of such places.  I suppose the one thing that can be guaranteed is that it must be a very high-speed broadband connection.

Oh well, when my rural exchange goes on one its frequent go-slows, I suppose I can always jump in the car and head down to the burger bar.  Note to self: better slip a pack of wetwipes in my laptop bag first.  There’s only so much I want to oil the wheels of my writing career.