Monday, 23 April 2007

Time and place

As we are limited by the incessant ticking of the clock, so do most of us constrain our lives by location. In turn, it is the place where we live that provides or denies the opportunities by which to thrive.

The area known as Southern Scotland incorporates the counties of Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders. It is a land of dramatic hillsides, sweeping rivers, tumbling falls and long, sandy beaches. This part of the British Isles has had its fair share of historic drama and its border towns have been won and lost to vying conquerors for millennia. Robert Burns, the great Scottish Bard, lived and died here. King Robert the Bruce was born here and it is here where he committed one of Scottish history’s most famous criminal acts —the murder of the Red Comyn at the altar of Greyfriar’s Kirk in Dumfries. This region has many famous sons as well as a long, vibrant history.

Much of the scenery of Southern Scotland has remained unravaged by man mainly owing to the fact that outlanders know little about it. For those who are confused as to where Southern Scotland actually is situated, it is the place to the left and right of you as you drive up the M74 from Hadrian’s Wall to the Central Belt and the Highlands. For the more intrepid traveller, it is the area mainly to your right as you head towards Stranraer for the ferry to Ireland. Despite attempts by VisitScotland and the local councils to direct visitors to turn left or right off the motorway, this part of Scotland tends to be by-passed by most tourists travelling to Scotland.

It is not surprising to find that large industries, transport networks, the mass media, important educational establishments and government cash also tend to by-pass Southern Scotland on their way to the north. This area apparently boasts the lowest wages in the United Kingdom and possibly the least available jobs and business opportunities. There is a rampant drug culture, mass unemployment and all the associated socio-economic problems that come with hopelessness. A quiet, relatively cheap, housing market has led to an influx of retired couples from more prosperous areas of the UK seeking comfort and serenity during their final days. This has bumped the house prices up threefold over the past few years and many local first time buyers are finding it difficult if not impossible to compete with their richer adversaries. Most of the land belongs to a big business heritable duchy and affordable housing is becoming a privilege of a distant past.

Southern Scotland, however, is probably no worse off than many rural areas in the UK and is considerably better off than most other places in the world. People, in general, have a way of overcoming obstacles and the survival instinct inherent in all forms of life enables us to endure.

The plus factor is that this part of the world stimulates the senses of many artists and craftmakers; of musicians and writers; of ramblers and hermits, who all find inspiration and significance in the quiet serenity of the hills. This region fires the imagination with new ideas and provides the opportunity with which to nurture it and fulfil aspirations.

My preparations for glory in five years can therefore begin. I have established my time and inadvertently my place. I have the space within which to carry out my work and the bedrock upon which to build my dreams. All I need now is the energy to see them through.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

NO MATTER how hard I try to manage my time, there is never enough of it to complete life's tasks. In my proverbial house, there are many mansions — some of them partly furnished, most of them derelict and all of them half-built. The words "If only I had more time," have haunted my life as a wistful refrain. We mere mortals can interact with time by playing for it, biding it, taking it, telling it, buying it and even killing it but we cannot control it and, in the end, it runs out for us all.

The time has come to stop the clock, to take a long breath between the short moments, and prepare to make the most of time while it lasts. The only way to do this is to enjoy it and manage it properly. I, however, must strive to achieve order out of pure chaos. I am that pickled specimen in a dusty jar in the British Science Museum labelled "Living Proof of Chaos Theory". There is such a place as Bedlam, because I have lived right in the middle of it for all of my life but I have somehow managed to endure inside its crowded halls and crumbling walls to achieve quite a lot in my shortish lifetime.

My career has spanned the breadth of the employment market with various jobs including a waitress; a sales assistant; an admin assistant; a receptionist; a postgirl; a conference organiser; a computer teacher; a tutor in Chinese cookery; a journalist; and a barrister. My academic accomplishments include an LlB Hons; a professional legal qualification; achievements in photography, British Sign Language, advanced web design, computers and lots more that do not immediately spring to mind. I am at present (and this is not necessarily in any order) a journalist; bread-winner; wife; mother of not-one-but-four teenagers; web designer; photographer; epic fantasy author (unpublished - for the moment); and now blogger. I juggle these tasks with mixed degrees of competency but aspire to succeed in all. In the effort to achieve excellence, however, I often end up accomplishing little within the limitations of a day: tail-chasing can be an exhausting pastime.

So comes the reason for this blog site. Despite the orderly chaos of my life and despite the limitations of time and money, I am going to achieve the goals set out in the standfirst to this site and I am going to do all of them within five years. I wish to use this space as a record of my achievements - a time line of events - and something that will encourage me, and hopefully others, to succeed in getting time just right.