WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many years ago, a woman visiting our home, on seeing our wall to wall book shelves, said to me, “Doesn’t your husband read a lot of books!”

OH (other half) and I are the kind of people who never throw books away – unless they are absolute rubbish. In other words, totally unreadable or falling apart.  Now we’re using lockdown to finally have a sort out.

Over the years we have picked up books at boot sales, charity shops, street markets, jumble sales and second-hand book shops.  And of course bought from book shops and Amazon. Often we never actually get round to reading the books and they languish on our bookshelves waiting to be picked up and loved.

In his study OH has shelves filled with science books. And there are even more at his place of work.

On my book shelves there are books related to childbirth and parenthood (from my National Childbirth Trust teaching days), poetry, art, education and advertising.

And both of us share a huge amount of fiction and non-fiction on all manner of subjects.

In the kitchen there are four shelves of recipe books.  Do I really need 40 cook books?  I rarely use recipes when I am cooking so why keep them?  I guess every book holds a memory. For example, “Cooking in a Bedsitter (Katherine Whitehorn), was my bible when I lived for a short while in a cramped bedsit in Kinnerton Street behind Harrods.  In the house there was a French guy who was a chef in one of the London restaurants. I  used to hover on the landing to savour the aroma of steak and garlic emanating from his room. There was a large kitchen which everyone in the house shared but never at the same time. We also shared the kitchen with mice. I once opened the fridge door to find a mouse sitting on one of the shelves eating some delicacy someone had stored there. Not long after that I moved back home.

A number of years ago I parcelled up most of my advertising books, memorabilia and teaching notes.  The History of Advertising Trust in Norwich were very pleased to take them off my hands. They even sent a courier down to pick up all my boxes and now HAT have an Andrea Neidle collection!

Not long before the internet really got going OH bought a set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica.  Most of the books have never been opened. Because not long after that the Internet took off and our children discovered Google. Sadly no one wants encyclopaedias any more and now they sit taking up room on my bookshelves.

When I was working on my Master’s in Higher and Professional Education the internet did not exist.  One actually had to visit the library and plough through all the books to find suitable quotes and references. Note I don’t say that I read the books. One just had to trawl through them and take notes. But it took forever. When Google first came in, our Watford advertising students were told not to use Google but seek out the books themselves. Few of them bothered. And who can blame them? I envy anyone studying today. They can just do a search and find whatever it is they need in seconds. When I wrote the first edition of How to Get into Advertising back in 1999 my research was all library based. By the time I produced the second edition in 2002 I was able to use Google to update address details and so on, which saved a huge amount of time and effort.

Now OH and I are sorting out our books into three piles. Definitely keep. Possibly sell. Give away. We use AbeBooks to check if any have any value. If you haven’t come across Abe I recommend it. Not just for getting some idea of the value of your own books but also for obtaining second-hand and out-of-print books that you want to read.   It’s an eye opener to find that your twenty year old tatty jumble sale purchase is now worth upwards of fifty quid whereas that beautiful old leather bound copy of Dickens that you have held on to since you were a kid is not worth anything at all. Of course a book doesn’t have to be old to be valuable. We all know that the early editions of J K Rowling are worth a small fortune, as are many first editions of other 20th and 21st century writers, particularly if you have a signed copy.  Dust jackets add to the value of a book too. I tried to tell that to OH back when we were first married and he was busy tearing off all the dust jackets and binning them. Vandal.

From an early age my father, the author R L Finn, taught me to value books. He only smacked me twice in my life. The first time was when I was about nine or ten years old and I accidentally tore the dust jacket of a book he owned. (The second time I will save for another day.)  My dad also instilled in me to always use a book mark and to never ever turn down the corners of a book. Are you listening OH?

So what am I reading right now?  On my bedside I have a large pile of books waiting to be read.  I am currently reading “I am, I am, I am”  (no typo – that’s the title) by Maggie O’Farrell.  If you’ve not come across her books before, I highly recommend them. She writes beautifully, sparingly, evocatively, movingly. Another one of hers I really enjoyed was, “The Hand that First Held Mine.” Next on my list to read is Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman followed by The Red Notebook (Antoine Laurain), Normal People (Sally Rooney), Caging Skies by Christine Leunens (the book behind the film Jojo Rabbit) and Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng).

Trouble is, I am spending so much time sorting out books and writing this blog that I am not finding enough time to read!

Let me know what you’ve been reading. And I will add your recommendations to my pile.

The image below is from a book of children’s stories by Leo Tolstoy. No value whatsoever!

See you tomorrow.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

LBC – LONG BEFORE COVID

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGINE YOU ARE ON A BEACH …

In another life LBC (long before Covid) I used to teach relaxation.  For those of you who know me, that’s probably hard to believe!

I was a NCT (National Childbirth Trust) antenatal (prenatal to my American readers) teacher. In addition to teaching expectant couples about the realities of parenthood plus practical skills for childbirth, my remit was also to teach relaxation and breathing. They call it hypnobirthing now.

One evening a week after I’d cooked dinner from scratch for five, tidied up the living room and kitchen, cleaned the loo, bathed three children, read bedtime stories and put the kids to bed, I would then rearrange the furniture in our living room to create more space and get out all the paraphernalia for the class. This included a number of the huge relaxation cushions we called “wedges”, books about pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding, a plastic pelvis, a “baby” (a floppy doll someone had made that even had a removable umbilical cord) and a birth chart. I also prepared twelve cups and saucers in readiness for the class coffee break.  All the while, of course, having to run up and down the stairs a few times to settle the children.  Then at 8pm, just when I was about ready to drop, my class of six couples would eagerly arrive and I would teach them how to relax!  Yes, I thought it was amusing even then.

A RELAXATION TECHNIQUE TO TRY (or not – in which case skip the next three paragraphs)

Get yourself comfortable. You can lie down anywhere but make sure your back is well supported.  Close your eyes. Start by listening to your breathing.  Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.  Do this for a while.  Now listen to the sounds you can hear outside your home.  Nowadays it’s probably desperately quiet but BC (Before Covid) you might have heard  the sound of  traffic, aeroplanes, trains in the distance and maybe also the chatter of passers by. Now you may be able to hear the sound of birds singing.  Just concentrate on what you hear, all the while keeping your breathing slow and steady.  Now switch to listening to the indoor sounds.  Perhaps you can hear the humming of household appliances or the creaking of floorboards.  Focus on those sounds.  If you are in bed you might be able to hear the sound of your partner snoring.  Rather than letting it annoy you, just continue focusing on your deep, relaxed breathing. In through your nose and out through your mouth.

Think about a place where you felt happy and relaxed. Some people find it helpful to imagine they are lying on a beach or floating in the sea. Carry on with the breathing. Now starting with your right foot, clench your toes on the in breath and relax them on the out breath.  Do the same with the other foot. Then tighten and relax each leg in turn.  On the in breath, tighten your buttocks. And then relax them. If you know how to exercise your pelvic floor, tighten it and then relax.  Always tighten when you breathe in and relax when you breathe out. In this way, work through your entire body – stomach, back, arms, hands (clench each one and then relax it), shoulders (lift up to chin and then back down) and finally your face.  Screw up your whole face tightly and then – on the out breath – let go. Continue with your deep relaxed breathing.  If you feel any part of you tightening up, just repeat the process.

If you’re in bed you may even find that you fall asleep before you reach the end of the exercise! I’d be interested in your feedback as to how you get on – feel free to comment below.

This simple relaxation technique worked so well for me that for many years I was able to have fillings (and other treatment) at the dentist without the need for injections.  I just used to relax in the dental chair and do my breathing.  Returning to work after twelve years at home bringing up children, I used the relaxation and breathing for my job interview. I arrived early and remained in my car listening to Mozart’s clarinet quintet and doing my relaxation breathing. Later, after I had succeeded in getting the position, I used the relaxation and breathing with my postgraduate students to help them in preparation for major presentations in front of clients. Or should that be presentations in front of major clients?

One day they were all lying on the floor relaxing, really into their breathing, when the classroom door burst open and in walked the college principal accompanied by two of the governors! I don’t know who felt more embarrassed – they or me! My students, to their credit, did not stir  – some may even have fallen asleep. It felt like a scene from “The Office” long before that sitcom had ever been dreamed up. I expected a rollicking after that – a “this is not what we pay you for” conversation – but nothing was ever said.  Needless to say, I did not teach relaxation to my students again although I like to think that it might have proved useful to most of them at some stage in their advertising careers.  Yes, I used to prepare students for a career in the advertising industry. Before digital media. In the days when ads were creative and exciting.  Plug alert. My book,  “How to Get into Advertising” (Cengage Learning), once hailed as “the advertising students’ bible”, is still available on Amazon.

Today, I’m astounded to see ads on TV for river cruises and other totally inappropriate products and services. I know the ads are made many months in advance but can’t some bright spark quickly come up with ideas for ads more suitable for the Covid era? What’s more, do you, like me, also find it weird to see people in plays and films linking arms, shaking hands, kissing and hugging? I want to shout out, “Keep your distance! Be careful!”

How odd it is that we have now become so wary and mindful of other human beings. Ah, that’s where I came in. Mindful. Mindfulness.

Try some of my relaxation tips when you’re attempting to sleep tonight.  Or, better still, do what I now do and have a glass of wine (or two) instead.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting

Waiting

We are all expectant!

Waiting for news of the latest Royal birth. Kate Middleton – the Duchess of Cambridge – went into labour today!

Here’s a  poem I have posted before. I wrote it in 2011 when our daughter was in labour and we were expecting our first grandchild.

Maybe this is how Kate Middleton’s mother is feeling right now …

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting for a Royal birth

We are all expectant!

Waiting for news of the royal birth.

Here’s a  poem I wrote nearly two years ago when our daughter was in labour.

I wonder if this is how Kate Middleton’s mother might be feeling right now …

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

Maybe – by the time you read this – we shall all know a little bit more about the Royal birth!

PS  Just heard it was a boy! 8lb 6oz!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems