Category Archives: diary

A Walk Through My Mind

Recently, I started taking long walks again. Coming out of the slough of despond can have that effect, and vice versa. And as I walked, I began to think. As as I thought, it seemed like a good idea to share some of my thoughts.

So last week, setting off from Crewe Toll towards Princes Street, in Edinburgh, I thought I would share what was on my mind as I was walking.. Siri obligingly opened my voice memo app, and the result is here for you to listen to. There is traffic, and breathlessness involved, so it’s all very ‘in the moment’ as we say in the biz.

There’s talk about theatre, and the weather, and I do apologise for the poor quality of the recording. Clearly this is going to be a steep learning curve.

As I mention in the recording, at the top of Dean’s Bridge, a rather interesting building can be seen. I still haven’t been able to ascertain if it’s a private house or not. Here it is.
           

Play

NOW HERE’S THE THING

Hello, and welcome to my personal website. This is where I give myself permission to ramble on about life, the universe and everything. There are blog posts, and podcasts, depending on whether I feel like writing or talking. Topics mostly revolve and devolve around theatre, voice training, and family matters, but I also occasionally rant about world affairs and life, the universe and anything at all. Right now I’m between jobs/semi-retired/freelance, so more time on my hands to rattle my head and share my thoughts.

If you’d like to subscribe and be notified when I’ve something new to say, just fill in the form. I promise NOT to inundate your inbox.

photo: July 2017. “The Real Mother of Marilyn Monroe”. Cervantes Theatre, London.

Time IS the Essence

“Time is of the essence”  What on earth does that mean?  I know we usually use the phrase to get someone else to hurry up. “Time is in short supply”?  Crikey!  That is for sure. [I feel the need for an emoticon.  Facebook, what have you done to me?]

So I just felt inspired to write a new blog post, one that was personal rather than business related, and of course, this is my personal blog. This one. So I open it up, and discover that I haven’t posted here for THREE YEARS!!!  Sorry for shouting, but what the heck, this is ridiculous.  Where have I been? What happened to me? Who even am I?

I’m not going to attempt to fill in the past 3 years, because most of you already know what I’ve been doing.  You probably have a clearer idea than I do, because I forget things.

That’s not strictly accurate. I don’t actually forget, I misplace things in my head, and sometimes it takes longer than usual – whole seconds – to find them. Alright sometimes whole days. And sometimes I don’t bother.

[In brief, I’m now based in Edinburgh, after a stint in the south of England, teaching voice to acting students and touring my solo show.]

Why?

Because I can.

What brought that on?  Comments from a friends, mostly Facebook friends who don’t actually know me all that well (so who does?)  “Aren’t you brave!”  “Good on you, Flloyd!” Or this one, received today: “how fun that you keep traveling the world, playing, and acting/playing, and putting yourself out there. it’s great great great.”

Yes, it is fun. It’s great. I love it. I love being in new places, working in new ways, learning as I go, doing the things I love doing, which are performing and teaching.  And I hate that I have to travel to the other side of the world in order to be able to do it. It’s exhausting. I’m tired. I’m sad to leave good friends behind. It’s hard for me to make friends. I know lots of people, that doesn’t mean I have lots of friends. So I value my friends.

When I was young, I assumed that I wasn’t anyone that people particularly wanted to be friends with, so whenever I moved away I said goodbye and never made any effort to stay in touch.  Fortunately, I eventually learned that friendship is something that has to be worked at (like families). So now I make an effort to stay in touch with friends, to let them know I care about them. As a result, I have a couple of good friends everywhere I go (that I’ve been to before!)

Here in Edinburgh, I’m now beginning to reach out to them, and I’m so lucky that two friends from Glasgow are now living and working in Edinburgh, so I don’t have to reach out too far.  Family members are still on the other side of the country, but as I discovered last weekend, Oban is just two train rides away.

So I was able to connect up with my sister-in-law, Mabel MacArthur, and my younger son Roderick at the Wedding of the Year, and much fun was had by all. I couldn’t dance, because I had a dodgy and very painful wrist, so Mabel performed The Dashing White Sergeant just for me.

But I digress.  And I find myself doing that more and more often these days.  It’s a form of procrastination.  Like writing this blog post instead of rehearsing and re-working my solo show, due to be performed in New York next month.  How good does that sound!  [Rhetorical question, hence no question mark]

Yes, it sounds good. It will be good. A great experience.  Unless my US work visa doesn’t come through in time, in which case I will still be performing in New York, just not in an actual theatre on 42nd Street (book your tickets here), and not for the potential of taking away a portion of the Box Office, but for free in my friends’ and family’s front rooms. Incidentally, if you’ve booked and paid for your ticket already, THANK YOU SO MUCH I LOVE YOU.  If not, but you intend to come, please do, because there is a web page on United Solo’s website that lets us know when we have sold 15 tickets or more, and if we sell out they allocate another performance slot. And IF the visa doesn’t come through, you will be refunded, so no risk involved.

Oh dear, what was I saying?  See what I mean?  Oh yes, Time. Apparently it doesn’t exist without Space. Also, it always exists – past, present and future, they are always in existence. So wherever I have been, and wherever I am now, whatever I get up to in the future – no. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.

I think I need to focus upon the NOW. I am in Edinburgh – oh, and I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me to be able to see Roddy more than once in 4 years, to be able to call Iain in the US more than once in 6 months, with the time zone difference much more sympathetic to my sleeping patterns.

Everything Old is New Again

I’ve been house-sitting for about 6 years, and for most of that time those belongings that don’t fit in my car as I move between houses have been stored in a unit in Aspley. Whenever I need something I go rummaging in the bags and boxes, and when I decide there are books, or clothes or whatever that I won’t be needing for a while, I stuff them back into the storage unit.

As a result, it has become pretty messy, and while I wait for my thesis to come back from my son the proof reader I have nothing better to do (apart from developing a new clown act) than clear out a few bags and boxes, sort through them and generally tidy up.  So far I’ve managed to reduce the number of bags from around 20 to 6, and the filing boxes from 5 to 3.  And I still haven’t thrown out all my thesis research files…

So! It’s been quite fun, if hot and sweaty work. I’ve rediscovered old friends, like all the universal adaptors that I had to buy every time I travelled abroad because I couldn’t find the ones from the last trip. I found the loan documents for the car, and discovered I’ve still 3 years to go… Sad face. 🙁

The Great Court, University of Queensland

But I also found my Valedictorian Speech from when I graduated from UQ back in 2005. I quite enjoyed reading it again, so I thought I’d share.

“Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, members of Senate and academic staff, distinguished guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen.  Good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity to address you.

“How to begin?  A moment of uncertainty.  Where do we go from here?  More uncertainty.  Did we do as well as we could have?  Did we do the right degree?  Should we come back for more?  Should I stop asking questions now?

“There is no straight answer to any of these questions, any more than there is to the question we have all been asked during the past years of study: “What are you going to do with your degree?” Did you ever hear such a daft question?

“Let’s cut to the chase here, and agree for the moment that by ‘degree’, we’re not referring to the piece of paper or the letters after the name. We’re really referring to the process of learning, arguing, realising, procrastinating, sleeping through and breaking through which we have all shared in some measure over the past few years.

“When I left school, well before most of my fellow students were a glint in their grand-parents’ eyes, it was one of my ambitions to become a university student, largely because I was enraptured with the Doctor in the House movies, and the thought of encountering students like the hesitant but heroic Simon Sparrow, aka Dirk Bogarde (and if you never saw him in his young days, just think Johnny Depp times 10).

“I had no thought of actually graduating; I just thought it would be grand to be a student.  That it took me 40 years to take the plunge is merely an indication that I am, in many ways, a slow learner.  Not that the time was wasted – I firmly believe that there are times in our lives when it is right and appropriate for certain actions, when we are ready to make the most of the experience we are being offered.  And my time to gain an arts degree happens to coincide with yours.

“What does it mean to hold the piece of paper, to have the right to put the letters after our names?  It does not guarantee us jobs.  Whereas years ago employers reserved the right to induct new employees into their work systems, nowadays they generally expect to engage people who already know how their filing system works, how to manipulate the software package they just had personalised to their own requirements, or how to create proposals or designs which resonate with their own corporate style.

“Even the most practical double degree doesn’t guarantee that you can walk into a school, an office or an orchestra and competently ‘fly solo’ without having to learn skills you did not acquire as part of your degree.

“So, what do we say when our friends and relatives ask us what we intend to do with an arts degree?  For the past five years, I have been answering that question by saying “well I don’t expect it to get me a job at my age. But I do expect to use it in everything I do.”  At first it was a bit of a cliché.  I didn’t really know how I was going to use it.  But within six months it was so true I could hardly contain my excitement.

“I found myself putting into practice immediately whatever I was learning about.  Every philosophy lecture revealed some new aspect of the human condition which I would eagerly pass on to the (albeit stunned) acting students, every history lecture took me to places which connected in both tangible and intangible ways with my work, my understanding of myself, the societies I grew up in, travelled, lived and worked in.  I was able to consciously, if uncertainly, integrate my studies into my personal process of development.

“Whether conscious or not, that is exactly what we have all been doing for the past three, four or however long it took years:  integrating new found understandings into ourselves, developing our sense of ourselves as articulate human beings with ideas and opinions of our own, and with respect for the opinion of others – well, most others:  because to quote Salman Rushdie, arts degrees “are all about Preparation.  They prepare us for a lifetime of preparation”*.

“What they are not about is certainty.  Certainty is the end of preparation. Certainty stands still, does not move or grow, it is satisfying only until challenged by someone else’s certainty.  Certainty is the end of adventure, the end of discovery, the end of life as we know it, Jim.  Because the only certainty in life is death.

“Our hard won arts degrees have prepared us for a life of uncertainty: and hopefully these sometimes painful, sometimes joyful years have prepared us to be comfortable with uncertainty, which is what David Mamet proposes good acting involves. Of course, the only difference between acting which embraces uncertainty, and life is – well, there’s a doctorate in that…

“Uncertainty has been the one constant ever since we walked into our first tutorial, and asked the first question – which was usually “will I get a good mark if I say that?” only to be greeted by either a blank stare, or “how should I know?” from the tutor.

“Questions, leading to answers which are more questions.  An abundance of uncertainty.  We may have hated it, tolerated it, accepted it temporarily or embraced it wholeheartedly.  I do so hope you have embraced it, that you recognise what a gift it is, to be able to deal with uncertainty, to accept it and to seek it out.

“This degree represents all the hard work we did in order to be granted it.  Even the brightest student knows that consistently good results don’t happen without hard work.  Michaelangelo once said – apparently – that “if you knew how much hard work went into it, you wouldn’t call it ‘genius'”.

“However, no amount of hard work guarantees success.  There are no guarantees.  If there were, life would be very tedious.  Instead, we’ve been given, at this institutions and at universities all over the world which still teach the humanities, under conditions of diminishing funding and rising costs, we’ve been given the opportunity to learn about life, about each other, about the ways in which human beings express their humanity, the wonderful and terrible things we are capable of doing to each other; we’ve learnt to challenge our own, and other people’s assumptions, and we’ve learnt to ask questions.

“This enables us to go out into the world with some sense of what is possible.  Not what is certain, not what should be, not what is safe and comfortable. With the support of our community, our families, our lecturers and tutors, and each other, we have earned the right to be creatively uncertain.  We can enjoy full, satisfying and productive lives in whatever profession or occupation we choose to undertake, as long as we continue to challenge certainty wherever we find it.

“Congratulations, fellow students.  It’s been a bumpy ride, and worth every bruise.  Have a fantastic, peaceful, healthy and uncertain life.

“Thank you.”

* Salman Rushdie, graduation address to Bard College, May 25th, 1996.

 

Sunday morning in Red Hill

Red Hill, Brisbane.10 am Sunday 10th June 2012

How very strange, sitting on the back deck with 3 layers of warm tops, good socks and loose comfy trousers, with nothing better to do but drink coffee and talk to you.

Yes, it is winter in Brisbane, which anyone living in Scotland would find a very acceptable format for summer.  It’s cloudy today, and quite breezy, which is probably why the birds are later than usual.  In summer, the maggies sing around 8 am, followed by the crows, but here they are in full voice at 10 am. I’m certainly not complaining.

Of course, I have other things to do. I don’t think, though, that they are more urgent than sitting here with the birds and Perch the cat, enjoying the cool air round my fingers and an excellent coffee.

Perch catching some rays on the deck.

I will start learning my script for Nanaimo later on today, pay for my upcoming week of training with Ira, and post a blog on Being in Voice about the workshop I’m proposing next month.  Nothing too demanding – my to do list.  Hopefully, the workshop will be Extremely Demanding.  I’m pretty excited about the possibility of working with people who crave Extremely Demanding.

You may have guessed – if you don’t know already – that I have now formally handed down (submitted) my thesis.  Done.  Like a dinner.  I have informal acknowledgement that the submissions office has received it, but I’m still awaiting formal acknowledgement that everything is in order. The actual submission process turned out to be incredibly complicated, fraught with error potential, and took about 10 days to get everything sorted.  hmmmm.

So anyway, here I am, virtually post thesis, at least for a few months till the examiners send it back with whatever objections, revisions, suggestions they may have.  So I am enjoying the remarkable sensation of hiatus, and allowing lots and lots of ideas to potter around in my head for what mischief I can get up to next. My supervisor likes some of my ideas for writing projects, so that’s encouraging.

I’ve listed my itinerary below, so you can skip it if you’ve already heard it. In brief, as I’ve said before, I’ll be away from 26 July to 8 September. If there’s any chance we could meet up someone along the route, please let me know! Maybe by the time I get back, I’ll have figured out what I’m going to be when I grow up.  I’ve applied for a couple of jobs.  One thing is sure, it includes a trip to UK and France in 2013. And to anywhere else that gets me outta Brisbane. Out of Brisbane. Hmmm. Maybe that’s the title of a film.

OK my friends, tha-tha-that’s all folks – for now.

 

 

Here’s the plan to date:

I’m house-sitting in Red Hill with Perch the Cat till 13 July.

Next week, more clown training with Ira, who has just returned from Europe and 3 months touring (performing) with Slava’s Snow Show. I’m very exciting about working with him again.

2-6 July – ADSA conference, here in Brisbane. I’m leading a voice workshop

14 – 26 July – house-sitting in Toowoomba for Willie and Elvira.  I shared a dungeon basement flat in Sauchiehall St, Glasgow with Willie 17 years ago!

14 and 15 July – workshop “Shakespeare’s Archetypes” IF I get 6 participants.  I still need to find a venue, has to be special because I want to work from 9.30 am to 9 pm, total immersion, food included. Details HERE.

26 July – fly off to Seattle to see my beautiful Iain, Jessie, Owen, Natalie and Annie the Dog.

2 August – to Washington DC to take part in panel presentation on Presence at ATHE conference.

5-9 August, VASTA conference, also Washington DC. I’m presenting a short paper on training teachers to care for young children’s voices – i.e. encourage them to play with sound for longer, and safely.

10 August, get together with Adele and Lauren in Moorestown, then back to Seattle.

16 – 23 August – to Nanaimo Fringetastic Festival with Across The Pond, to perform “Man Catches Fish.

23 August – back to Seattle

6 September – back to Brissie.

Downhill All The Way

I see it’s nearly a year since my last post. Maybe I should make a habit of this, annual postings!

SO, where am I? In Brisbane. Still house-sitting, thanks to some lovely house-owners who are kind enough to let their animals keep me company while they travel.  What am I? Still a student, part time PhD candidate, and still a freelance voice and acting coach. A little bit less of the former, a little bit more of the latter.

I’ll explain. I have now completed a full draft of my thesis. It is sitting with my two very busy supervisors, waiting for them to read it and return it to me with their comments, and suggestions for refinements. Hopefully refinements. Hopefully they won’t want major rewrites. I’m now pulling together all of the ancillary material I can muster to put into the appendices, such as feedback from colleagues and audiences who attended the various work-in-progress presentations of the performance project, The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will). Then there are all the diary type notes I made along the way, since the project became officially part of my PhD.  I’ve been pretty slack in that area, but as I’ve been trawling through every external hard drive I’ve saved files onto over the past 4 years I’ve managed to find 23 pages worth of ramblings, some of it quite revealing.

So if any of you have any final thoughts in response to your encounter with June Bloom, and would like them included in the final document, now is the time to send them in to me.  Final submission – when I have to hand it down – no later than the end of June.

My teaching practice is bubbling along quite nicely.  I must be doing something right with the website, because I am now getting one or two calls a week from potential students who find me just by searching on the net.  I’m working more with non-actors at the moment, people from different walks of life who want to develop their voices and presentation skills. What fun!

When I arrived back in Oz last year, after a fabulous trip to  Phoenix, Haworth NJ, New York and Seattle, I vowed not to leave the country until the thesis was completed. Well, one way or another, it will be completed by the end of June, so I’m setting off again late July, back to Seattle to see Iain, Jessie, Owen, Natalie and Annie.  There will be a dash across country to the east coast for a conference or two and hopefully catch up with the NJ mob, then back again for more Seattle family fun.

Back in Brisbane in early September, I guess I’ll have to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  I seem to have discovered yet another string to my bow – composer! having tinkered, on and off, as long as I can remember, with song writing. There have been occasional forays into arranging, and then of course there was the Music Major as part of my BA. I keep forgetting about that.  Anyway…

To explain the photo up at the top.  I’m wearing one of the costumes for the Performers For Peace group, for which I have been commissioned to compose original music for their latest street theatre performance.  It’s been an absolute blast, tagging along as the group (from the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, Brisbane chapter) debated and discussed, improvised and devised – under the most excellent facilitation of Anna Yen – the words that they wanted to sing.  I then went into seclusion to set it all to music. It’s just 5 minutes long, but we’ve managed to turn out a miniature agit-prop epic. Opening night is at the end of April, at the WILPF Annual Awards cocktail party.

Of course, I am not without ideas for stuff to get stuck into when September arrives. I’m pretty excited about a range of possibilities for getting more and more people of all ages, from very small children to senior, involved in voice work and play. Shakespeare will also feature in future plans, be prepared to be surprised on a street corner or in a car park near you.

Oh, and there’s a trip to Paris to run a voice workshop, that’s in early planning stages. It would be awfully nice to get a whole tour happening around that, early in 2013. Think about it! It could happen in your part of the world too. I’ve been riding high for some time now, and I’m heading down into the valleys to continue the journey.

OK, enough already. Until next time…

 

 

 

Quietly Stepping Out for CARE

22 May 11 14:00 PM

This morning I returned to the walkway along the Brisbane River for the first time since I’ve been back in the country. I was delighted to find it practically deserted, hardly another person at all as I walked from Auchenflower towards the city, and only a few manic speeding cyclists on the walk back.

Quite Walking by the Brisbane River

Isn’t it interesting, how cyclists who complain bitterly about being hounded off the roads by speeding, thoughtless motorists will team up to speed along the walkways with absolutely no thought for the pedestrians they are supposed to be sharing the space with. Ok, enough whinging. It was a beautiful walk, cool and a little bit drizzly, calm and quiet. I am very lucky to be able to walk just for my health and pleasure, unlike millions of women who walk to survive.

Also, I discovered that if I place the pedometer too tightly on my waistband, it only counts every second or third step, so I’ve actually been walking more than I thought I had! Today, I’m up to 9,692, and it’s only 2 pm. My fundraising total is creeping up slowly, thanks to very kind and generous friends. I hope you will join them, if you haven’t already – here’s the link: www.everydayhero.com.au/Flloyd_Kennedy.  If you have, thank you so much!

with love Flloyd

On the Road

I arrived in Phoenix a week ago. The first few days were passed, as I suspected they would be, in a haze of exhausted relief.  My kind hosts took me with them to share in a family reunion on the first day, which involved lots of laughter, wine, beautiful food and a great sunset.

Scottsdale, Arizona

I am staying with friends in Gilbert, one of the outer cities that rings Phoenix. Public transport hasn’t made its way here yet. In fact, today I drove to where Google told me I would find a Light Rail Transit stop with Park and Ride facilities, only to discover that the rail hasn’t been extended this far yet.  The car park was there, and a bus stop, but quite a wait for anything else.

I have been placed in a little self-contained cottage in the back yard of the main house. It’s delightfully comfortable, and private.  A car has been placed at my disposal, and today I finally stopped wimping out and drove myself several miles to Mesa, the next city along the way to catch the light rail (what I would call a tram, but a very modern, fancy one) into downtown Phoenix. I got hopelessly lost, in spite of having Google maps printed out, AND my TomTom with local maps, but what the heck, I got there in the end.

Still haven’t seen what I would call downtown Phoenix. I appreciate it’s a lot like Houston, with its centre  a complex of businesses and offices. What I did find were 3 or 4 blocks with charming little cafes and art galleries scattered among car parks, waste ground, and blocks of apartments.  This is apparently the arty end of town, and where most of the Phoenix Fringe will happen.

Speaking of which, rehearsals are going well. My new company is shaping up beautifully, and I reckon this revised show will be a bit of a cracker – not better or worse than the last version, but different.

We had a look at our Fringe venue this afternoon, and it’s adorable. I’ll say more about that at a later date.

Tomorrow I’m running a free all-day intensive workshop on Archetypes. Looking forward to it immensely.

Catch ya later 🙂

Biding my time

Sitting in my old (as in ex) apartment, now empty – I moved out last August, and went back to house-sitting – waiting for a student who is now 37 minutes late. I guess I’m not actually waiting any longer, just sitting.

I was supposed to have 2 students this morning. One sent me a message to cancel with 1 hour’s notice, the other just hasn’t bothered at all. Such is the life of the freelance coach.  Fortunately the first one has paid in advance, and has therefore forfeited his fee for today’s session. The other was a newbie, and they often don’t bother turning up, or letting me know that they have changed their minds. That’s why I get people to pay in advance once they do start with me. It’s the only way.

I’ve been staying with my friend Kris for the past couple of weeks. She hasn’t sold the house yet, but she has bought into her new place, and the big move happened on Friday.  It was relatively stress-free. Mini-movers did a great job, and we had the bonus of a gorgeous big hunk of a gay singing removalist as well.

It wasn’t quite pain free. My back is not up to much these days, lifting the odd box – no matter how carefully – results in a couple of sleepless nights. But it’s all better now.

So, I’ll just sit here for a little while longer, sharing my adventures with you, before I head off for an audition for a short film, followed by a show at the Powerhouse. Hope I get a park…

I think it’s going to rain. Actually, I do believe it is raining already. Lot of it about.

So, what’s new? Well, the thesis still isn’t happening for me. Meeting up with Joanne (my supervisor) this week, so I’m pretty sure something will happen between now and then. In between my online rehearsals with the Phoenix crew, and moving out of Kris’s place and into another very kind friend’s place for another couple of weeks, and preparing for the big trip next month.

I’m pretty darned excited, I can tell you. Next time, I’ll give you my itinerary.

of flood and fire

The dreadful floods that have inundated large swathes of eastern Australia lately, including much of my present hometown of Brisbane, have not troubled or inconvenienced me personally at a physical level. I am staying in one of the outer suburbs, not too close to the river and not particularly low lying, so the massive amounts of rain left the garden water-logged by last Monday, but not flooded.

The local streets have coped well – this is a fairly new housing estate – with storm water drains flowing freely throughout the worst of the downpour. As I took this picture I realised there was a drain blocked with leaves in the middle. I cleared it, and the water drained away very quickly.

I did get down to the River several hours before it really took over.  This photo was taken at the Kodak Beach, at Southbank, 9.30 am on Wednesday. By the time I got to the bus station it was closed, with water lapping the edge of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex nearby and buses being re-routed via the Captain Cook Bridge.  A friend dropped me to a bus stop in Ipswich Road, and 2 1/2 hours later I was safely home (a trip that normally takes around 30 minutes).  There was a lot of traffic winding its way around those streets that were not flooded. The river rose another 3 metres after this.

I have managed to stay pretty cool and calm, not a problem when I am not directly affected. Now that the water is receding, and the clean-up has begun, I feel the need to offer to help.  I have enough sense to realise that I am no longer fit and able enough to manage the heavy work that is required in the first, second and third instances. So I have offered to bake treats for anyone who wants them, and I’m selling my jewellery online with all proceeds to the Qld Flood Relief Appeal. You can either acquire something pretty in return for your donation – at www.handmadebyflloyd.com –  or at my Etsy Store, or bid in the auction at Handmade Kids Flood Appeal Auction (the latter is for Australian residents only). Or of course you can donate direct to http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html.

I have listened and watched the news broadcasts, and been inspired by the patience and hard working support of our State Premier, Anna Bligh, by courage and generousity of local residents who mucked in together, helped clear each other’s houses, took in strangers and generally behaved with great kindness and patience, and appalled by the politicking of the opposition leader, who announced at the height of the tragedy that he would be “keeping a close watch on the government” rather than offering his, and his party’s support. Not a good look, Tony!

And I have been reminded, most reluctantly, of what it feels like to have your family’s lives at great risk, to lose all of your possessions, and to be inundated – not with water – but with the very generous donations of total strangers.  It was a house fire, on Tiree (Inner Hebrides, Scotland) in 1975.  I don’t think about it often, after all we all survived, we moved on. (ok, we lost the dog. That still hurts). At the time of the fire, I was so busy getting on with the business of getting everyone out, squirting a pathetic little fire extinguisher at the flames, and then watching the local fire brigade managing to douse the fire, but only after it had gone through the roof. I remember being overwhelmed by all the gifts of clothing and toys the islanders brought in huge bags, and I also remember feeling deeply resentful – something I have never confessed before.  I resented their smiling, caring faces, and I resented having to wear, and to dress my children in their loving gifts.  I still have a problem with second hand clothes, although I will occasionally indulge myself with some small item from St Vinnies, or the Salvo Shops. And boy, will I ever donate to them, every time I move and have a clean-out.

So I guess what I want to say at this moment is that I feel very deeply for those affected by this natural disaster.  I want to help you, in any way I can. That means I will bake for you, I will make and sell jewellery for you, I will come and entertain you when you are ready to be entertained.

I will also refuse to watch those disgusting television reporters who try to make people cry, with the camera people zooming in to catch the tears. Yuk! Do they have no humanity? They certainly don’t understand plain decent courtesy.

The Big Wet has a way to go. And then it will be back to the Big Dry. Because that is the way it works over here. Nature, eh?