Archive for January 8th, 2009

Jo at 30

For a laugh, I took some self-portraits today.

Midge wouldn’t pose at all, neither would Bailey and Brini but Snipe was a bit more obliging, as were Tia and Scrumpy:

Jo at 30 with Snipe - 8 January 2009

Jo at 30 with Snipe - 8 January 2009

Jo at 30 with Scrumpy - 8 January 2009

Jo at 30 with Scrumpy - 8 January 2009

Jo at 30 with Tia - 8 January 2009

Jo at 30 with Tia - 8 January 2009

3 decades down

Today is my birthday and yes, I’m the big Three-Oh!

Things are not going exactly as I’d planned, with my night off work being cancelled for reasons that make no sense to me or anyone else, not to mention one or two other things, but that’s not why I’m blogging. I thought it would be fun to consider not the things that are a bit crap on the my 30th but rather the stuff I’ve done in my first three decades.

I was born, bumbled about in nappies for a while and then learnt to talk and walk, read and write etc

I’ve got quite a collection of trophies and rosettes from my Pony Club days, all thanks to a series of insane (but no less loved) ponies – Blueboy, who died in his 30s, Topsy the Shetland who also had a very long life, Gwyn the Section A with no brakes, Lizzie Lou the Section B x Arab (whose dam died when she was born and was raised in a kitchen with a calf and a lamb!), Shantih the Section C x Arab who really could gallop at the speed of light, Beauty the Welsh x something who was the perfect pony if you overlooked her numerous faults, and Ruby, the Cob x TB who was the reason I gave up riding. Well, not the reason but a cause. We got her as a 2 year old, backed her as a 3 year old, and I started riding her when she was 4 and I was 16. Predicted to be 15.2hh, she was 16.1hh when I started riding her and looked set to grow another inch or two before she was done. I’m only 5’2… In short, she scared the crap out of me and I didn’t have the experience to be confident enough to handle her. Her faults were merely down to her age and any confident rider would have let her get it out of her system but when I look back, I see that my fears exacerbated the situation because she trusted me and thought that if I was scared, she should be too… This is proven by the number of times I rode her bareback without any problems whatsoever. Ah well, that is the way things go and the people we sold her to are still loving every second with her so it worked out well in the end. I now own Moonlight, a bay Section C, who is expecting her first foal this spring. If I had a properly fenced field, she’s be with me down here, but as it is, she’s up at mum’s who is spoiling her rotten. Rumour is she has a new rug, which is great. The fact that it’s pink is not so great…..!

There are the dogs I’ve had throughout my life, loving and loyal companions. Tom, the hairy Jack Russell who was my constant companion as a child and whose death when I was at uni was heartbreaking. Dilly, my Cairn, who hated everybody and everything apart from me (she’s one of the few dogs who ever dared to bite my mother!) And now Snipe and Midge.

Not to mention the others owned by the family – Buckthorn and Barnaby, the black and yellow labs we had when I was a baby (Buckthorn adopted me on sight and where I went, he went. He even slept beside my cot!), plus Jeeves, the Peke who did not welcome me with loving arms – until he discovered the parcel shelf under my pram!!!! Jill, Fly, Jill 2 and Dell, the sheepdogs. Massie, the Bassett Hound who we rescued and had a wonderful litter of pups from. Massie had lived outside her whole life but on discovering the living room, discovered life’s greatest luxury – the armchair. Bloody thing would leap on your lap (no small feat for a bassett) and if you tried to evict her, would use her length to her advantage by wedging herself between the arms. You couldn’t budge her! Then there was Lizzie, the broody JRT who helped raise Massie’s pups and several litters of sheepdogs – she kept producing milk and every pup she helped feed was huge! Watching her with the sheepdogs was hilarious as she kept feeding them even after they were bigger than her!! Bryn, my Welsh Terrier, who died from a massive heart attack when he was just a few months old. Bobby, the ex-hunt terrier who would go missing for days at a time. She came home one evening after being missing for a day or two and died that night, which is why I won’t let my lot go off hunting. You never know what they’ll eat. Then there were mum’s Scotties, Jess, who we got at the same time as Dilly, her daughter Mags (the apple of mum’s eye) and her daughter Jay. Mum’s friend bred Jess and would often bring her Scotties with her when she came over for coffee, so there was a period when we had four generations, plus relatives – Jess’s mother Bonnie and half sister, Rags, plus Mags and Jay – mother, daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter, plus Rags!

I think that’s everyone…

We never had many cats but the ones we had, stayed with us for many years. Humphrey was Mum’s big black cat who truly thought he was a dog and took as much interest in lambing as the dogs – more so because he could get into the shed but they couldn’t! Holly was my dad’s treasure and knew the second he came home. He was in the merchant navy, so would be away at sea for a fortnight and then home for a fortnight. During his leave, she’d never leave the house but we rarely saw her when he was away. She had one litter and we kept one kitten, a big ginger tom that I named Henry. Holly was tiny so Henry’s size was a constant surprise! He didn’t do much, just went about his business and stayed out of trouble. Hector came to live with us because our friends lived in constant fear of his death. They had 20/30 sheepdogs at any given time and to stop fights and unwanted litters, let them out in the yard on a rota system and they spent a lot of time either chained up in the barn. Most of their cats would keep their distance but Hector used to go right up to them and the first time our friends realised there was a problem was when they spotted the dogs throwing a rag in the air and catching it, then throwing it again. Out of curiosity, they went to investigate and found that the “rag” was one of the cats… On the third consecutive day they had to rescue this cat, they asked if we’d take him in before he got himself killed. You’d think he would be terrified of dogs, but he loved tormenting them. He was the reason Dilly was scared of the dark as he used to sit on a shelf or table and would pounce on her head. She refused to enter a room if the lights were off as she never knew where he was lurking…! Finally, there was Herbert, a London cat, donated to us when his owners moved overseas. He’d never been outside in his life and once we’d persuaded him to go out, spent the first month or so only going as far as the path which goes right round the house. He tried the grass once but didn’t like how it felt under his paws!!! Eventually, however, he did go out, but remained perpetually useless. I once saw him trying to catch a rabbit. He’d figured out that the hole in the ground was where they came out so was sitting behind it, with his head hanging down inside the hole. He sat there like that for a good half hour, totally oblivious to the collection of rabbits behind him, trying to work out exactly what this stupid cat thought he was doing. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!

Hmm, I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent there…

But that does sum up a good proportion of my life – animals!!

In other news, I dislocated my elbow when I was three, chopped off the top of my thumb when I was four, got chicken pox when I was five, broke my wrist when I was twelve and had migraines when I was fifteen. Other than the odd sprained ankle, that was it for serious childhood injuries and illnesses! (And that’s how I would like it to stay, thank you.)

I’ve got GCSEs, A Levels and a degree. I was researching my M.Phil but deferred that to become a sabbatical officer for my Students’ Union – and then became a sabbatical officer for the National Union of Students, which knocked that on its head. That’s something I regret, not completing the M.Phil, and if I had the money, I would like to give it another go, if only because I loved researching my undergraduate dissertation and was just getting into the swing of things with the research for the M.Phil. My diss was meant to be between eight and ten thousand words – I had to stop myself at fourteen! The M.Phil was an ambitious eight to one hundred thousand words and I’d love to put that many words on paper… One day!

NUS consumed my life for too many years and while I made some wonderful friends and met some amazing people, I feel like I lost those years and that instead of beginning my grown up, post-student life at 21/22, I did it at 27 instead, with very little to gain from it, other than credit card debts and an overdraft. Of course, that’s not at all true as I learnt a lot about myself, politics, people, society, how the world works and why, the good and the bad of life… I think my world now is so far removed from what I was doing in student politics that it’s hard to believe that was me – and I don’t think the me back then could have predicted where the me right now would be sitting on her 30th birthday. Everything has changed in the past decade and very little of it could be predicted.

And that, my friends, is an accurate description of my life. Not me, just my life. I’m terribly predictable and live my life by routines and fixed times. But the life itself? At school we had to study The Winter’s Tale. I hated that play and was bored to tears by it. But there’s one line that has stuck with me through the years, something about “exit, persuaded by bear”… no, only joking, it’s a line about being a feather blowing in the wind:

Leontes: I am a feather for each wind that blows

That’s me. That’s my life. I went to school, stayed on for A-Levels and then ……….. the rest just happened. I know it “just happens” for everyone, but there’s never been a goal, something to aim for. I’ve gone where the wind blows and I think I like that. It’s certainly a lot more interesting!

The downside is the fear factor. Waking up at three in the morning because there are bills to pay and you’ve got no plan to be able to meet them and keep meeting them. Because you tend to prioritise your satisfaction and happiness, because you’ve discovered that being miserable at work means being miserable, even if the bills are paid. Financial worries and real fears can be forgotten when you’re happy but money doesn’t make you happy.

/takes a deep breath!

Wow, this really is a long ramble about nothing! Still, that’s me at 30. A whole lot of nothing – but I know I’m lucky. No matter what comes next, no matter how tightly the screw is turned, wherever I go, whatever I do, happiness and contentment matter more than The Man. I’m not a cog, I don’t fit into the perceived lifestyle of a well-educated woman in her 30s. That ain’t me.

So bring it on, here’s to the next 30, and the 30 after that!