Scrabble on a train (beats snakes on a plane any day)

scrabble spelt out in scrabble letters on a scrabble boardThe week started oddly with a game of Scrabble on a train – not strictly my #DoDifferentDaily, as I wasn’t the person who had the Scrabble set but I did absolutely join in – never played Scrabble on a train before, never actually played any board game with a complete stranger (well, 3 complete strangers) on a train before.

So who carries a Scrabble set on a train then? To be fair, Pete (the Scrabble set owner) hadn’t done it before either – he’d been given a set as a present, was looking at it, I made a comment about it, he opened it and the other 2 people on our table on the train decided to join in too and it all became rather merry. Luckily we were all doing the same journey so it fitted in rather well, but could I make my apologies now to the rest of the carriage for the rather raucous moments? We didn’t have a dictionary you see, and so suspect words did cause vigorous debate…

I was telling someone about it the next day and they responded that they would have felt too embarrassed to join in. I think I would have felt embarrassed not to – to let an opportunity for real contact with real people slip past. My life at the moment is very busy – eat, sleep, train, work – so opportunities to stop and simply have a laugh seem rare. I’m caught up ‘baton passing’ with my husband – you know, when family life seems reduced to lists of who has done what when and who needs to be where when. Playing Scrabble on a train made me want to play Scrabble more at home – or any game, or anything with my family. If it was this much fun with a stranger, how much more enjoyable would it have been to play at home with those I love?

a black doodle filling the whole of an orange sheet of A4Another train journey on another day produced this doodle. I’d had some work news I needed to process – actually, two pieces of news, one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’. Actually, nothing is good or bad really, so maybe better to label one as a yes and one as a no, anyway – lots to think about. I didn’t want to get the computer out and start tapping away; I wanted to let my mind take things in, to work out next steps. I’d read somewhere that automatic doodling was a way of keeping the front part of the brain occupied so that the back end could get processing so thought I’d give it a try and set myself the task of covering a sheet of A4 with doodle. God, it took ages!

Over an hour of lines, dots, squiggles and splurges. And I found I had to think quite a lot about it too – what to put in this bit, how to fill in the next one. I found it hard to not be judgmental too. I’ve seen a lot of repetitive, detailed and beautiful art work in Outsider Art exhibitions and it was hard to just let go of that and enjoy the process. Don’t think I’ll be trying it again, but I did find a colouring in for adults book recently and might give that a go…

bags of popping candyTwo purchase-based #DoDiffDaily’s this week – popping candy and a fascinator!

Not had popping candy for years. I remember loving it as a child – the sheer science of having the mini explosions in your mouth – and then also came across it in a rather posh restaurant as a topping on a dessert.

This time I bought 8 packs for £1 and got to the sore tongue stage (you know, where you feel the surface of your tongue has been sandpapered into submission) before accepting defeat.

the top of my head and a black fascinator with curling black feathers and additional blue ones too. Looks faintly ridiculous.The fascinator was for the forthcoming wedding of my daughter. I saw one a week or so back, but wanted some additional feathers adding and it putting from a band onto a comb so this week I went back to pick it up – a fascinator with bespoke tweaks no less! The only hats I’ve ever had really are from charity shops so it was an odd feeling standing in a proper hat shop, trying on proper hats. I’m amazed that so many people still wear them – the shop was busy – I don’t tend to see many hats on people when I’m out and about so where do people go with them? Am I simply not mixing with the hat-wearing sort?

So I am now the proud owner of a black and blue fascinator – and I’m very intrigued to see where else I can wear it once the wedding is over. Suggestions, perhaps?

Three more this week – one serious one, a silly one and a workshop preparation one.

Seriously, I owned my feelings again this week. Often when I am away I’ll play down any negative feelings I have. I feel lucky to have fantastic work that takes me to exciting places and I find it hard to abandon my home, kids and family to go and do stuff that is such fun. I know being away puts an additional stress on those at home and so I feel duty-bound to not moan when I am away, so as not to add to the stress there. But what this does is create a sort of bubble. I’m not always honest about how I feel so there is a distance that is set up between me and home, and it also sets the expectation that ‘away’ is always up and positive and fun and ‘home’ is not – also totally not true.

This week when away I had a few niggles and irritations – nothing major and nothing to do with the work I was doing, just standard ordinary moans. Rather than pushing them down, I just owned them, accepted them and mentioned them. It seemed much better to simply be honest rather than trying to present a manicured version of how I was feeling. Not too sure how I’ve got caught up in doing this in the first place – but something that I’m definitely planning to stop now I’ve spotted it.

a wall covered in ordered post it notes.The silly one was becoming someone else for 5 minutes. I was up in the rehearsal room of an artist I really admire – Janice Parker. Her new show opens tomorrow and I’ve been witnessing its development, which has been a real privilege. Last week though she had to pop out to a symposium and I watched her rehearsal director leading the company. When it came to rehearsing the very end of the show, they needed a stand in for Janice and so I volunteered. Won’t tell you anything about what I did – a) in case you are going to see the show (and I very much recommend you do and b) in case this ending is no longer the ending – always a very live possibility!

outlines of people, some visibly disabled, some not, jumbled up on a table top.So final #DoDiffDaily for last week was my workshop preparation one. I’m running a session next Sunday and also one soon in Hong Kong and so was trying to think of ways of making a standard exercise I often use more visual and more fun. I’ve ended up making little laminated cards of 20 people – all with different experiences of disability – and all of whom want to access the arts. The aim is then for the groups I work with to follow through with each ‘person’ to help identify their barriers to participation – so that we can look at what it takes to remove them.

It’s a standard exercise, as I say, but making my little army of people was fun – although time consuming. And it led to a great list of future additions on Facebook – ‘have you got one that does this, feels this, acts like this…’ and so on. I can see this army growing…

Last thing this week is a quick report back from last week’s blog. Remember I was talking about TV programmes from my youth? I had a retweet and from that managed to get a tweet direct from Mr Benn. Yes, the real Mr Benn who owns the fancy dress shop from which you can travel anywhere in the world or beyond it. But always check your pockets afterwards! (And younger readers who have no idea what I am talking about, just watch – this was one of my favourite programmes when I was young and I reckon a clear inspiration for #DoDiffDaily!)

All my own photos (apart from the Scrabble one) and if you want to follow the blog along, do sign up at the bottom right of the screen (and if you want to find out more about me, check out my other site

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