Sunday, 30 May 2010




I walked in the park. I usually run or cycle with head down determined to beat the clock and my time and sweat and burn.    But I slowed down to talk and walk with a lover who didn’t’ want me any more. And sit on a bench looking far over to the corners of a park I had never seen before, not in that light.   The deer grazed closely by and we sat under a tree and I wanted to cry. As soon as I stepped out of my car I wanted to cry, looking at him, sitting down, unable to stand. I knew he’d met someone else.  I walked carefully and looked at the earth and wished I had bare feet so I could feel it between my toes and wish it would feed me with light.   We walked through trees that whispered my fears back to me but gave me hope as the sunshine burst through and then went and then came back again.   We need to talk, the need to talk, his need to talk and mine to listen to all the things that I had done wrong and why, without telling me, he was seeing someone else.  About how there were two sides to me one he didn’t like, one he loved and adored and bewitched him into doing things that he shouldn’t do, and overwhelmed his better self and side.   And how there was someone else in me, who he didn’t like, the fragile woman who has a son, who is afraid of hurting, and messing up a life that is still so fresh and free.   My son’s and mine.  And makes mistakes.  And there were countless other things he said, listed long and deep until I couldn’t see myself any more only a reflection of his words. Or the words of others who I may have met before who hadn’t seen me.   He wanted the space to think and clear his mind and his bed and his time and I let it wash over me and looked up at the tree which covered our conversation and hoped my roots were as strong and deep and sound and I could reach within myself.  I wanted to leave then but he wanted to eat and talk and suggest we don’t see each other for a month, may be two.  No dialogue I think he said.  And then we went for supper, me holding car keys that would take me away at any moment.   I questioned how a weekend in Paris full of lust and walks in the parks and along rivers and narrow streets could turn so quickly. And then echoes of the pain I had with my ex when he started seeing someone else, and accused me of things that I didn’t even know were on the list.   And I saw someone else in my love I recognized who had a strength that didn’t belong to him.  I asked him if he was seeing someone else. He said no.   Until of course I saw him a week later.  On a train to see him for the first time because the month or two became a week and he texted that he had met someone else.  And was very sad. And perhaps it wasn’t a good idea I came after all.  I still made the journey in tears which everyone ignored, including me, because denial is easy.    I saw him, but he doesn’t see me any more.  Well he wants to see me, and her, he wants to see both of us in his bed and as friends because he and I have this energy together and she doesn’t quite do it for him, so he says, and I do. And he wants to maximize his life.    And he tells me I mustn’t tell anyone.    I see him now.


Friday, 21 May 2010


I think it’s the ash. I’ve recently had two very unusual encounters with people who are both nutty or may have been turned nutty by the (volcanic) ash. They both looked normal, well insipid, which I suppose is normal. One was a tall, be suited man (in his fifties, weak left eye, six foot five, lofty in all aspects) on the underground who scolded me for not telling my son and his friend to stand up for him (there were seats but he wanted THEIR seats). He followed me up the escalator and tried to brow beat me, couldn’t look me in the eye (they never can) and I stood there, looking at him. ‘You’re a banker aren’t you. I said after listening to him tell me how he use to treat his elders when he was a child, realising that only a banker would have that heady combination of arrogance and ignorance that makes them so unworthy of the money they earn (give it to a footballer any day rather than these guys). Nutter number one. Nutter number two. A woman, (middle aged, plain, silver Volvo, East Sheen), remonstrated because I tried to over take her. She was driving at ten miles an hour, so I went at twenty, then so did she, then I speeded up, then she stopped in front of me, blocking the car coming the other way, got out, banged on my window and said she was going to call the police. That I was driving by a school (long closed) and that, when I failed to call her the names she was calling me, told me she had two children in the car and I was a stuck up toffy nosed bitch. Nutter I thought. So I reversed back. ‘You’re going to ram me now are you!’ she shouted at me. ‘No I’m just trying to get as far away as possible from you,’ I replied. There are so many really important things in the world to get angry about, to rant about, but that is not one of them. Perhaps her husband was having an affair, perhaps she was menopausal, perhaps I don’t know what, and I don’t care, but her raving at me was nothing to do with my driving or hers for that matter. Perhaps she was the wife of nutter number one, in which case she had every right to be angry. She drove off eventually, not before telling the guy in front who she’d blocked while shouting at me why she had blocked him and then drove off, slowly, I trailing behind her. She couldn’t resist shouting at me one last time, before turning off, to which I gave in and gave her the finger. Only a little one.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

wise man says...

I told a colleague about the event I attended about corporate charity and the wealthy giving their wealth away.    His response was this.   Anyone wishing to prove him wrong let me know.  

Sarah, our 'takes' on affluent people wanting to do good are gleaned from very  different social levels. My wife works in a charity shop, and we always laugh  about the crappy stuff which affluent people bring in- sometimes friends of  ours-  for Cancer Relief to sell. I'm equally guilty when I give her some of my  books. In Rochester terms, the very great majority of people who are comfortably  off have to be fairly driven and aware of looking after Number One to get into  that position- unless they inherit from Mum and Dad and in that case must  constantly tell everybody that they are desperate and down to their last penny,  because they don't want to be disliked or envied for their good fortune.   By contrast, when you go to City accountants, or indeed take a latte in a  Richmond High Street cafe , you are among people who make their large sums more  painlessly and can therefore think grandly and benevolently about the outside  world. In the case of accountants, they can usually grab squillions without even  seeing the faces of their customers, the people actually paying the bills.  But I see most of this FT-style goodwill and generosity as a front really, and  partly an insurance against something terrible happening, like being involved in  a court case or exposed as a paedophile. How benevolent would some of those who spoke be,  though deeply religious,  actually be if you and his family both wanted the same  thing, I wonder? 

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Givers and takers

I attended a fascinating evening last night organised by the excellent Carole Stone. The Stone Group organises debates and events throughout the year which you can attend for a fee as a member and discuss with the good and the great. It's a bit like BBC Question Time but better and the questions aren't fixed - well I don't think they're fixed. There's a questionnaire on various issues which is sent out via email and the results help to add another dimension to the debate. The last one I attended was on education which I went to when researching 'Battle for Big School'. There was lots of shouting.  

This discussion for the evening was 'You can create wealth by giving it away'. They didn't define the 'you' or the 'it' but I presumed the 'you' was to do with wealthy individuals - Bill Gates et al and the Cadbury's and the 'it' was wealth - money wealth, rather than the wealth in a feel good sense of spiritual worth.  

The debate had some very interesting speakers, some of whom I think spoke from the heart and experience, others who appeared superficial and shallow. The debate was set at the HQ of KPMG, who gave good PR by telling the audience their company have huge social awareness and told us what they do. Having listened to the talking heads and Andrew Neil who was moderating the evening, I must admit the philanthropy - the genuine sort (ie give without the 'what's in it for me' come back)- comes from individuals, not companies, unless it is family led. I don't believe as one of the speakers commented 'business has a contract with society'. Another mentioned that CEOs have big hearts. Those I've met have big egos and a keen interest in the bottom line, but their hearts have nothing to do with their business. To hope that companies have a social conscious is wishful thinking. I'm told it's different in the States and things are gradually changing but as a journalist commented when I told him I was going to this event 'they give when they have so much money the guilt eventually sets in, but they have to have an awful lot of money before it triggers.' The banks who are more than able to filter off money to charities fail to do so. Mind you, charities should get their act together, and its shameful that more is given to donkeys in this country than to kids charities. We have all lost the plot not just the companies. My view for what it's worth is companies will never give unless it is made in their interest to do so - that they are penalised if they don't. And it's weaved into their structure of business if they don't. Since the meeting I've been told about companies who have spent time and money on sustainability - a word that came up a lot in the debate. I've been at those meetings when that word has come up. It's at the bottom of the minutes and it's given scant time and interest, because it doesn't make 'wealth' and the PR gleaned from it, whatever some of those who spoke last night said, it negligible. Even the recent attempt at the Robin Hood tax on bank transactions has received little interest. Their business is to make money. It is in their DNA. They do not believe 'giving' in the sense we were discussing last night makes wealth, or the sort of 'riches' they find of interest. Philanthropy they have researched does not make money or wealth. If it did, they would do it. And their understanding of 'wealth' is limited to that of the monetary variety. Any other sort doesn't make an impact on the bottom line. And that is all they care about. That is, as one person said to me after the event (a CEO actually) they care about. But a very interesting debate.