Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Long List for Blog Awards Ireland 2014!

In good news: This blog made Blog Awards Ireland's long list for the Best of the Diaspora category for 2014! It's listed amongst many great blogs from around the world that represent Ireland's long history of emigration. Whatever the economic or political situation of our little island, we have always managed to export excellent writing. It's great to see that this is being represented in the world of new and social media. Good luck to all the other nominees!

blog awards ireland

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Invisible Mentor

Last night, I went to Shark Tank, a play that is a part of the International Youth Arts Festival and currently playing at the Stanley Picker Gallery in Kingston-upon-Thames.  It's a farcical look at the world of contemporary art and was written by a former student of mine, Nik Way.

This isn't so much a review of the production, because I'm obviously quite biased. It's more that it got me thinking about what it means for a teacher to see a student succeeding. I love teaching. I love seeing students learn and grow and become better writers. I like it even more when they suddenly realise they've gotten better and the leap in confidence that they have. You would think, then, that seeing a student write a play that is chosen to be performed at a festival. Watching that production which he has co-directed and in which he is acting would be the culmination of everything a teacher could want.

In some ways it was. I'm very proud of Nik. It's a good play. But, really, it has very little to do with me.

Promotional image from Nuclear Jam

Friday, 18 July 2014

We're Melting!

Yes, it is, once again, hot in London. What??? We forgot this happened. Somewhere amidst our whining about long, wet, miserable winter we forgot that we also hate hot weather. Hate. It.

This is primarily because we are so woefully unprepared for it. As I sit melting at my keyboard, various internet weather sites assure me that it is a whopping 31C in London right now. That's about a million degrees Fahrenheit. Fine, so it's only 88F. But it feels much hotter because it's muggy and my best defense against the sun and heat has been to keep my windows closed and shades down all day.

Yes, this does make me feel like I'm wasting what is obviously the nicest day of the year. And yes, I will no doubt hate myself for doing this some dark January day when I haven't seen sunshine in months.

But we don't have air conditioning. No one does. Well, my gym claims it does, but I don't buy it. The women who teach the exercise classes there are amazing. Nothing fazes them. Nothing slows them down. Except the heat today. Even in the basement studio with air conditioning, my Mexican and Kiwi teachers were struggling. Not like we were struggling, of course, but just a little bit.

Regular blog readers will know that London did not cope well with last year's heatwave. From ice cream shortages to spontaneous combustion, the city basically shut down. Here is the first "It's to hot for..." of 2014.

It's too hot for the doors at the gym.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Digital Friendships with Heroes

Just over two years ago, I decided that I needed to get my butt in gear and to tackle this beast called Twitter. It was a bit of a rough start but I seem to have rallied and am doing alright in the Twitter-sphere. I know words like "Twitter-sphere" and "tweeps"; I know to say "I tweet", not "I twitter"; and I know a RT from a #FF. I even started a hashtag project. Granted, it had minimal success, but I learned a lot. Generally, I would say that I am entirely proficient at Twitter.

I've stopped keeping track of my followers, which has done wonders for my digital self-esteem. But I still worry about what to tweet. In fact, I worry more now than I ever have before. And for this, I blame Amy Tan. Yes, Amy Tan of The Joy Luck Club fame.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sad News for Canada Day London

This time last year, I was texting the taller half at work to surprise him with the news that we were going to see one of his favourite bands play live in Trafalgar Square. We joined the hoards of maple leaf-wearing, Molson-swilling, poutine-scarfing Canadians in the centre of London for a evening of good, Canadian music from The Tragically Hip, who were the soundtrack of my Canadian university days. We made friends with the people all around us (because Canadians are awesome, friendly and don't avoid eye contact like Londoners), saw someone from my husband's hometown and had a brilliant night. Unfortunately, there will be no reprise this year.

Last year, we thought it was sad that the Spar on Haymarket had stopped serving Tim Hortons coffee and donuts so there was no Timmy's at the celebration, but this year...oh, this year, there is no celebration at all. Canada Day International who ran the annual event regretfully announced that, due to the loss of key corporate sponsors, there would be no Canada Day in Trafalgar Square this year. You can read their full statement here, but the gist is that it's sad, but there's nothing they can do...and it doesn't look good for next year either. They don't even mention another event until Canada's sesquicentennial in 2017 (that's the 150th anniversary). Insert gutted face here.

Screen shot from