Knots, layers, colours that contrast and all completely by coincidence, creating a collage of texture that just sat there waiting to be seen in all its beauty…

A moment of joy.


Autism Awareness: Are we nearly there yet?

A brilliant piece on being an adult autist, on Autism awareness day…we are all around you! But does that even matter? Not really. All we and everyone else needs is to be accepted and loved for who they are, their talents and their weaknesses. Life is a gift.

Autism and Expectations

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with AA!

Not not Alcoholics Anonymous. No, not the Automobile Association. I’m talking Autism Awareness!

In the run up to Autism Awareness Week and Day and Month and Millenia, I’ve been thinking about what it is I really want the world to be aware of.

Most people have heard the word “Autism”, they’re aware it exists, but that’s about it.

Even those who have autistic family members will not recognise the adults in their midst. No, I don’t look like your child, for much the same reason you don’t look like my three year old, Autistics grow up too. An adult autistic, no matter how verbal, has still had a lifetime of acquiring skills and learning and developing, that a child doesn’t.

When experts talk about autism – trainers at work, speakers at conferences – they often forget that there will be…

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Leonard has left the building

Some people just know when it is time to leave the party. After 82 years Leonard Cohen passed away leaving a huge legacy of poetry and music that has marked millions of moments of love, of goodbye, of bewilderment and questioning on the human condition.

I first heard Leonard Cohen in 1977 – I was always a late developer on the things that mattered – at a party hosted by Hedd, a workmate I haven’t seen since I left the printshop where we worked together. A confused and lost 17 year old on the brink of marriage, I thought that this was a soundtrack to accompany suicide. But my own feelings of bewilderment and confusion at trying to understand the human condition soon led to meetings with a psychotherapist. We didn’t manage to sort out my childhood traumas but we did spend hours talking about poetry …. Leonard Cohen figured largely in our weekly half hour sessions.

Through his songs, I discovered that my sense of being permanently lost and at a loss were not unique to me – which was a bit of a reassurance really. Passing via Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas, I began to make some sense of the world around me.

Still listening to Leonard Cohen, I moved through the usual round of love, loss, and lamentation that accompanies the move from adolescence into adulthood.

Divorce and university followed and again Cohen was there to hold my hand with his words. Words that allowed a sort of cathartic experience, tears that could finally escape and remind me that “there is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”

My dearest loves have their Cohen song that throws me into flashback..

For the man with the deep auburn hair who showed me I was intelligent and for whom I read Bourdieu and Sartre and tried to be  de Beauvoir,  it was “That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”.  I recognised that the goodbye was inevitable even if the love remained until it transitioned through the various stages of mourning and fighting until I realised that unless I became the ocean I would be seasick everyday. And so I set sail.

My children bring me “Hallelujah”. It was a song I had tucked away in the back of my mind but their love of the film Shrek brought Leonard’s version running right to the front of my heart and even if I hear it on the car radio, I feel the pull of sadness and joy. They are all grown up and I don’t watch Shrek anymore – the empty nest and the passage from mother to crone.

And now the soundtrack is “Dance me to the End of Love”, a song I listen to often in the late evening when my husband and I just are, just being. The words echo what he means to me, in my lostness and even at 56, bewilderment at the human condition…

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in,

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove,

Dance me to the end of Love”.

Thank you Leonard. leonard-cohen-hallelujah








IMG_0499My father Jack Newman, was a member of the civil defence and had recently lost his job as a miner when Llanbradach pit closed. He was collected by the civil defence and went there to work with the other miners trained in pit Rescue. One of the first teams to arrive, he helped dig in and pull the bodies out. Bodies of children the same age as me. I was 6 at the time. When he eventually came home, maybe 2 days later, he cried. I never saw him cry before or since. This was a man who fought in WW2, saw the horrors of war at first hand. But Aberfan touched him in a way nothing else seemed to have done. He changed. He was distant, didn’t laugh anymore. He withdrew into himself and never really came back. He gardened, studied for a diploma in horticulture and became eventually a park and garden officer for the local authority. But he, the Dad who went to Aberfan on the 21st of October never came back. Today we’d probably call it post traumatic stress disorder. I’m sure many families also suffered this. The children were the first victims, their familes, the second wave of victims. Then there were the rest. People like my Dad. He died in 1978, aged 59. But I lost him in 1966. This was just my way of marking this 50th anniversary and finally letting him go. And sending love to everyone else who lost someone in or because of Aberfan. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Summer in Brest



It is raining. That thin but persistent rain that Brittany and particularly Brest excels at all the year round. As a small proof that I am not imagining it, I took this picture at Brest railway station. It is indeed an umbrella vending machine. For the modest sum of 4 euros, you can buy a simple, telescopic umbrella to keep you dry during your dash from the ticket hall to the bus stops or taxi rank.

Where else?

On Discovering My Voice

Fresh little snippets of poems for breakfast … Deliciously selected from a collection compiled by the Poetry Translation Centre….discovered and shared by Anthony Wilson. A rare treat…

Anthony Wilson


I am at a thing.

Canals are there. Sunlight on them, the last tourists, a shifting of the seasons. ‘Soon it will be autumn…’

Hellos are happening, old ones, catching up on five year’s of news; and goodbyes, too. Kissing ‘take care’ in a foreign land. A test for all of us, of trust, of hope, of what will happen to a child when we are no longer there.

It does not get easier.

Softening the blow is the view. I mean, maybe the view, all of humanity passing below us, others’ lives fluidly within reach, beautiful, passing, never the same twice.

Into this rich space we drag our tired bodies and minds. We have buried a friend. We have sat in silence. And now we are here.

At which precise point, there on the coffee table, from out of the corner, my eye catches this, a fat and…

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The Joy Project

What a good idea… Note what brings us joy and have those notes handy for those grey, sad moments. Why not get a pretty notebook, small enough to slip in a pocket or handbag? Even stick little things like a feather, or a ticket for a concert that was good…


Yesterday, a very kind man asked me to name three things recently that have brought me joy. I was a bit down in the dumps (to put it very, very mildly), it wasn’t an out of the blue question.

I paused.

“My son. My kids. They bring me joy. They’re so funny, if you just listen to them and their funny little ways, the questions they ask, the gratefulness for small things (sometimes), the kids, they laugh so much. They bring me joy.”

He nodded, and gestured for me to carry on.

“And… The day before yesterday I found a tiny white feather on the ground. My son spotted it and said it was a feather from Grandad. He said Grandad left it there for him so he would know he was still with him. He’s four. He’s lost a lot in his short life, he seems to have a…

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