Kate The Grateful

Twisting By The Pool

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

— William Goldman, The Princess Bride

It has been, to put it mildly, a very trying week. I am not even going to pretend otherwise. There are times when it is better to lay down one's arms, stop trying to rule the known world and simply admit defeat; to say to the dragon 'come out, come out wherever you are' and let it flame you for a few moments before taking up shield and sword again.

Even princesses in shining armour need a break every so often.

I was talking last week about not sucking it up. And yet again, I may sound as though I am having a bit of a whinge. In a way I suppose I am, because I am talking about being in physical agony. But I am also talking about gratitude, and how I feel about normally having it - well, normally having it pretty damn good.

Planet Pain. It stinks. It is not a nice place to be - at all. I don't like visiting, and I cannot believe that I used to basically live here on a full time basis.

What I also cannot believe is how much I take for granted now in terms of how well I am generally, and how grateful I am for the progress that I have made, and continue to make, in terms of staying healthy and fighting what my body and brain would quite like me to give in to at times.

I am also grateful that I know the reasons behind my pain this week, and that I know there is a 'most of the time I am fine' end in sight. For so many people whom I know who have Parkinson's or Dystonia - or both - they are not so lucky. They hurt all the time.

All. The. Time.

Imagine being 30 years old. Or 35. Or 40. And you wake up in the middle of the night and your back is twisted, and your feet are in cramps so severe that they form circles, and your jaw is trying to make its way through your collarbone just for the hell of it. And it just won't stop. Not just for minutes, or hours; but days. Or weeks. Or months.

Or years.

I have only faced days at a time.

My beautiful Rogers - and in fact so many people I know - face, and have faced, the latter.

Sometimes I underestimate her bravery because of her silly sense of humour and because she is so gorgeous that you forget about the lean-over. And she doesn't talk about the pain.

But then whenever I end up as a pretzel I remember.

And I think all over again about how amazing she is. How amazing all of the wonderful people that I know are.

And how grateful I am for their strength.

I will say this, and it is something it has taken me a long time to learn; if you are in physical pain, don't be afraid to admit it. I am not talking about sitting there and  constantly griping 'I'm hurting', because believe me, people will get sick of it pretty bloody quickly. But - if you don't speak out, then nobody will understand just what is going on, and when you are irritated, or sharp, or simply aren't coping, they will be puzzled, and perhaps angry, because it will be out of the blue. If you are factual and admit to what is going on with your body, then understanding from those who care about you will be there. Not from everyone - but from those who care for and love you, yes.

I am constantly and consistently grateful for those who express empathy to and for me. Not in a 'keep me in an illness box' way, or a pitying way - but in a 'let's get you better, constructive, slay that goddamn pain dragon' way. Particularly the Dread Pirate who has been very good (in a piratey fashion naturally).

It helps me put the armour back on, however heavy it may feel, and get ready to fight the good fight again.

Mistress of the Universe?

You bet your sweet... donkey.

Works for me.

Hymn To Her

“My mother... she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”

— Jodi Picoult

Last Mother's Day I wrote about my grandmother because it was very close to the date that would have been her hundredth birthday. Not out of any lack of love or respect for my Mama - quite the opposite - she would I know agree that without my Gran'ma she would (literally, ha, ha) be half the person she is.

But I definitely owe the P a post. She is going to kill me for putting this photo in, so I may as well go hell for leather and embarrass her totally.

She is my best friend. If you are a grown up (or semi grown up in my case) woman and you are able to say 'my mother is my best friend' consider yourself very, very fortunate indeed. As a teenager - forget it. You are going to scorn everything your mum says, wears and does - and then as an adult probably end up saying, wearing and doing all the same things (in my case yes, sort of and yes). You will scream 'I hate you' and then if you are smart, apologise.

But as an adult - yay. The thought of not talking to P on a daily basis is one that frightens me so badly that I stick my fingers in my ears and go 'la, la, la' until the bad men go away. She is the still, calm voice in the centre of the hurricane that constitutes my brain.

She is my inner eye.

My mother is an amazing woman. She would be the first to scoff at this. She is incredibly unassuming and very modest. She has no idea of the quiet impact she has on all those she comes in contact with. Her employees, her friends, her family. Me. Always me. Even when we have fought. If I am in a strop, I really do try to stop and think 'how would P handle this?' - because invariably it would be with better grace and humour than myself.

She has handled blows that would fell strong men. She has watched her children mess up time and again - and sadly had to watch one of them go through illnesses that I know in her heart she blames herself for, despite there being no reason for it. It's not her fault. As the one going through said illnesses, I say this with certainty. But I hear that little voice inside her saying 'yes it is' and as that same voice ticks inside me I will not attempt to shut it up, but simply say this.

Mumsy, Mama, Big P.

You are my sanity and my succour. You are the first person I turn to - always - even if I am narky with you. You are the snort at the other end of the phone when I need to let off steam. I laugh til I cry with you about stuff which nobody in their right minds would find remotely amusing, or understand, and that is fantastic. The fact that we have had a running joke of one word for well on twenty years is testament to both our combined sense of the ridiculous and what can only be called deep, deep love.

I actually find it hard to put into words the respect that I have for you, both as a mother and as a woman. So let me just say I am grateful for you, I will continue to be grateful for you, and I will try to show it every day.

Happy Mother's Day.

Gratitude and love overflowing.

And 'hello!'


The Hole In The Sky

“Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.”

— Lao Tzu

It is probably obvious to anyone who reads this blog that I love language. I love writing, I love expressing opinions. I love a good rant about pretty much anything and I don't hold back if I am upset or hurt about something on someone else's behalf. I quite like talking in a ranty way as well, and am never usually lost for words, much to some people's despair.

And yes, I love shoes. And books. And cats.

Wow, I'm a real prospect. A yarpy, nerdy shoe-loving cat lady.

Awesome. I probably should delete that description, but that would make a nonsense of what I am trying to say.

One thing I am truly bad at, despite all the self-expression - and I think this is possibly true for everyone, but especially for those of us who are introverts pretending to be extroverts - is admitting when things are not fabulous. In written words or out loud.

Actually saying 'I am not OK, and I am not happy/coping/well/in a good place' is something that is ridiculously hard for me to do. I see it as a weakness I suppose. Because when you belong to the 'Suck It Up Princess' School Of Life Management, the first lesson you teach yourself is to - well, suck it up. There's no crying in baseball, things will be fine, get over yourself; these are all words I smack myself around the brain with on a daily basis. Because yes, life does go on and things usually will be fine; but sometimes - well, sometimes they aren't, and admitting that this is a possibility means admitting vulnerability, and fear, and even despair.

Most of all, it means admitting you are human.

Much as I would like to believe it at times, I am not a robot. I can't just go on and on with the power of an automaton - saying 'yep, all good!' and secretly screaming inside my head. Do that, and you will not only end up blowing a gasket, but you will lose so many things - opportunities, options, and most importantly, people who care about you - because you haven't been able to tell them how hard things are, and so when you break, they don't know how to deal. How could they? If you constantly hide all the frailties that you hold inside yourself, then all they know of you is a two-dimensional caricature rather than a real person.

You may well ask why this is a gratitude post.

Because I am immensely grateful for a few things. For someone who cared enough to use truthful words with me, and got me to say out loud 'I am struggling' - and yes, Lao Tzu is correct. Sometimes truthful words are not beautiful. But they are real.

I am also grateful for the people and opportunities in my life. Full stop. That, after admitting to not being at my tiptop best - after actually letting some of that vulnerability out of its locked box in my brain and my heart -  I have received back nothing but support and strength and love.

I feel as though I have managed to take off the padlock of said Pandora's box and just breathe.

For anyone out there who is proudly wearing their Suck It Up t-shirt, I just want to say this;

Wear the t-shirt by all means - and do wear it with pride. Because being able to cope under a lot of stress is a strength, and you should be proud of it.

But even the best t-shirts get grubby and need a wash - so every so often, allow yourself a change of metaphysical clothing - and perhaps put on a 'NOT COPING AT ALL' or even just 'Help!' number instead.

Hard - yes.

Essential to being yourself?

Even bigger yes.

And I am grateful that for once, I am letting myself see that - so I'm off to change my top.


Words I know to be true. And beautiful.

Take that, Lao Tzu.

Blow Out, You Bugles

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

— Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

It's ANZAC Day. To be exact, it's three in the morning, and in about an hour and a half, I am going to get up and get ready to go to the Dawn Service. So yes, I should be asleep, but for various reasons I am not, and one of those reasons makes me very happy indeed, and is also relevant to the day.

I speak quite often on my blog about the Dread Pirate, and the fact that he is off buccaneering. Those who know me, and said DP, are aware that he has not exactly been sailing the seven seas, but has in fact been in rather more of a landlocked location - but as for rip-roaring adventures - well, those I can definitely attest to (some slightly more rip-roaring than I am personally comfortable with, may I add).

It must be said, however, on this occasion, that he is more on the side of Her Majesty's forces than fighting under the auspices of the Jolly Roger.

And thankfully today - well, even pirates get to come home to their family and friends if they are fortunate - and even more fortunate for their family and friends, they get their pirate back in one piece. That is something I will be forever grateful for.

I am obviously massively proud of someone I care very much about. He has served not only with distinction and courage, but with conviction. He was true to his personal beliefs, to his mates, and to the ethos of the Australian Defence Force. To me, this sums up the ANZAC spirit, and so it is incredibly appropriate that he gets to return home on April 25.

Sometimes, a bit like other occasions, ANZAC Day seems to become more about the trappings and the ra-ra than what it truly represents. When it comes down to it, what we are talking about is remembrance. Remembrance and literally not forgetting; not forgetting not only those who have died in past and current conflicts for the rights of those who couldn't defend themselves, but not forgetting those who are out there now. Because we are still going. And sometimes, if you watch the news - particularly the commercial channels - you'd be hard-pressed to realise this. I have, over the past six months, mentioned in passing conversation to acquaintances where the Dread has been. And to my resignation - unfortunately not my astonishment - more than once they have said 'where's that?'

So today, if you are going to a service, or watching a parade on TV, or even eating ANZAC biccies, don't just think of the past - even though that is important.

The ANZAC spirit is alive and well, and out there fighting hard, and doing it bloody tough in most cases, in our amazing men and women of the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. And doing it despite most people not thinking much of - or thinking much about - what they do.

364 days out of 365.

Lest We Forget.

And welcome home DP. With immense gratitude. And equally immense pride.

The Bright Side Of The Road

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

I was thinking late last night that I hadn't written a gratitude post for a while. And I have a confession to make. Whilst there have been some fairly big things that I have wanted to get off my chest in the last few posts, and which weren't suited to the attitude of gratitude - and boy, has that resulted in a few hiccups - there has been another reason for a slight reduction in the ratio of thankfulness.

I haven't actually been feeling very grateful for much at all.

I think, to put it plainly, that I have been having a violent attack of a well known disease of the twenty first century. There are a lot of sufferers out there - although sufferers is perhaps a misnomer. Malingerers is probably a better word for it.

To be blunt, I have been feeling sorry for myself. Having a fit of FirstWorldItis. Things have been going wrong. Laptops acting up. Banks stuffing me around. Telstra (shudder) messing with my ADSL. Health not - well, not crash hot, although that perhaps is a fair whinge in small doses at least. Really bad sleeps. Sebastian Vettel winning the Bahrain Grand Prix (again). And a few other things which I had best not talk about because this will simply become a diatribe rather than what it is supposed to be, which is a post about positivity rather than the reverse.

Then I woke up this morning in my comfy bed. And I looked out my window at the view of the sunrise, which I am lucky enough to do, and realised something.

I realised I am lucky enough to wake up in my comfy bed and look out my window at the view of the sunrise.

And felt like slapping myself around the head for all the negative and dark sulks that I had allowed to take over for the last little while, because so many people don't have that privilege. So many people.

This is not supposed to sound Polly-Anna-ish. I am not trying to be saintlike - goodness knows I am more on the side of the devils than the angels when it comes down to it, and realistically quite cheerfully so. They seem to have more fun without the shame attached, plus devil costumes are way sexier at Hallowe'en. But I do know this - and I am speaking for everyone I know, and for everyone who I believe reads this blog; if we, as intelligent, educated individuals, hold our gratitude inside ourselves, or indeed don't acknowledge everything that is good in our lives, and instead focus on the black and dark and dreary, then we may as well not bother going forward. Because we have so much - so very, very much - and we take it for granted 98% of the time.

Every person has crap to deal with. Often it is a case of same crap, different day.


When you woke up this morning, were you waking up in a bed? Yes. Did you get to look out at a sunrise, or at least at the sky? I'd say so. Did you have technology at your fingertips, and food to eat, and coffee to prop your brain and your eyelids open, and a shower to shock yourself into sensibility with?

Then you are on the sunny side of the street.

And the very bright side of the road.

And life in its entirety is something to be truly grateful for. No matter what. This is something I am going to endeavour to carry with me today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Because no doubt FirstWorldItis will strike again soon, and I will need a reminder of this morning's sunrise.

And my very comfy bed.

The Star-Splitter

“How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars - when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.”

— Saint Thomas Aquinas

I have posted before about my love of astronomy and mythology and the way the two intertwine, and since moving north it has already given me a great deal of pleasure to get my geek on with my favourite iPad app (StarWalk) and watch the stars - and the man-made bits and pieces in the heavens - in their infinite variety.

As someone who is pretty much bewildered by the whole 'what happens afterwards' question, I am, I think, particularly fascinated by the stars for a very romantic reason.

Maybe, just maybe, there is something in the tales of the gods and heroes - and we do end up looking down on our loved ones from millions of miles above as a tiny part of a cosmic creation; not with the kind of consciousness we have as humans, but perhaps in some way aware of life continuing on. This to me makes as much sense as an old man with a beard letting people through a set of pearly gates, and I quite like the idea of being part of Draco, or Andromeda - or for that matter Lux Katrina.

We have watched the stars for millennia. Men have written odes to them; charted courses by them; princes have decided the fates of nations through their cold impersonal blaze. Why do they continue to fascinate us so much? If they are just large bodies of dust and gas and rock, why do they exert such an amazing pull on our hearts and minds?

I think it's because of their mystery. They are inexplicable, and whatever mankind cannot explain is always irresistible. Much like anything we cannot have, the stars have an intangible beauty - and although at times they seem close enough to reach up and pluck out of the sky, they will always remain out of reach.

This may seem like a strange thing to be grateful for, but as I was sitting outside last night and watching a satellite hum across the sky, and doing my nerdy best to absorb as much as I could about a new (to me) constellation, I realised something.

I am very grateful that the stars retain said mystery.

Because much like the things, and people, that I love most in this world - a little mystery only adds to the desire to keep learning more about them.

And my advice? Don't necessarily look with a telescope. Because the naked eye means you look a lot deeper at those celestial trailblazers.

And at the people you care about too.

Little Star.

I really do wonder what the hell you are - with a great deal of gratitude in the wondering.

That Wascally Wabbit

“Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics.”

— Marvin Olasky

As most people who are close to me are aware, I am not at all religious; my 'belief' system tends to be centred around individuals and whether they are decent human beings (or not) rather than organised tenets of faith, mainly because of the acts I have seen said organisations perform in the name of their various doctrines.

So this post is mostly not about Easter or Passover in any religious sense - nor would it be likely anyway, as I am not interested in beating people around the head with my beliefs. Unlike my political views, I would rather keep them mostly to myself.

I admit though, Easter is kind of fascinating. Most probably built on the back of Eostre, although I know there are several alternative explanations, there is a burning question in there for me which nobody I have consulted  has ever been able to answer. I have been asking it since the age of about six - and still no joy. Please, somebody tell me, and put me out of my misery:

How the hell does the Easter Bunny lay those really AMAZING chocolate eggs? Riddle me that, Batman!

I am not even interested in the whole rabbit (and it seems, male rabbit at that) laying any kind of eggs scenario. That doesn't concern me at all. I want the big answer: why is Easter egg chocolate so much better than normal chocolate? Why is that damn lepus able to make us want what is essentially really crappy hooves and lips, garden variety, low-cacao content chocolat which we would normally turn our noses up at? Because the moment I see an Elegant Rabbit, its ears are off and that bunny is a few smeary crumbs in its now not-so-elegant foil.


But you try to deny it. Put an Easter egg and a block of good quality chocolate in normal wrapping in front of you and see the Pavlovian response kick into action.

Yep. Good dog.

I also can't cope with the whole E Bunny plus chicken thingy. I get the whole chickens are a sign of new life, yada, yada, yada, spring has sprung business, but people: let's pick a mythical figure and stick with it. Easter Bunny or bust, I say. Rabbits are cool. Bugs Bunny proved that. If you needed any further proof, enter Ms Jessica Rabbit. As a redhead, I thoroughly approve of that cartoon creation.

You may wonder (quite reasonably) where the gratitude is in this post. I am getting there though. And it's not just about chocolate eggs - which I may or may not be currently eating at a very early hour of the morning. Dribble.

Easter Sunday is traditionally a day of hope - and for many people, new beginnings. I know that for many of my friends it is a celebration of their faith, and I am grateful that they gain joy and comfort on this day. For me - I am also filled with immense gratitude today.

I am grateful that the people I care most about and love are all safe today - and that I am able, through the power of technology, to know this for certain. I am grateful that I am lucky enough to live in a country where people can celebrate Easter, and Passover, or dance around buck naked praising Eostre if they feel like it - and not be punished for doing so.

And yes, I am grateful for that wascally wabbit and his unnatural ability to bring forth ovoid spheres of the chocolicious variety. Annoying as it may be, there are some mysteries that are best left unsolved.

Because I don't want to miss out on Easter eggs next year.

That's what happens to girls who ask too many questions...

Big Bunny is watching.

My House, In The Middle Of My Street

“Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners.”

— Charles Henry Parkhurst

I hate flying. I absolutely detest it. I would rather cage-fight crocodiles than be on a plane in turbulence. In fact, I would consider that an opportunity for picking out bespoke matching shoes and handbag and thank the organisers profusely. If ever The Hunger Games existed in reality and I was forced to compete, all the Game Makers would need to do is stick us all on a plane and say 'the quicker you do the deed, the quicker you get off' - and bam, they would have a merciless puppet of the State.

Hey, my name is Kate after all. Kateniss could work.

My point though, when I stop rabbiting on about being a Girl On Fire, is this; I was so tired yesterday afternoon on a flight back from Sydney, that I actually fell sleeps on the plane.

Before it even left the runway.

This is profound tiredness, which made me particularly snarly when the flight attendant decided I didn't need to be asleep, I needed to be asked if I wanted to purchase anything to snack on.

Tempted as I was to answer her with 'yes your liver, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti' and Hannibal Lecter 's-s-s-s-s' noises, I didn't want to sit in a straightjacket for the rest of the flight, so I settled for the Kate Stone (copyright pending) Glare Of Death which subdued her accordingly, and then sat and admittedly had a lovely conversation with my fellow traveller (mainly about slightly stupid flight attendants).

Eventually we reached Gold Coast aeropuerto, and I toodled straight off - literally - into the sunset, and drove home, with a short stop at the crazy shops where everyone was buying enough food for the Apocalypse as everything is closed for one whole day.

And it was on the way home, whilst conversing long distance with the Dread Pirate, that I realised something very important.

I had just done my first return to my new home - and it felt like home.

Awesome. Quite astonishing really, as despite a number of visitations to the weirdness that is my new locale, I have not lived anywhere like this in my life. And honestly, after less than a week, it could be expected that it would still feel completely alien, and strange, and a little bit unreal. But instead, it felt like sanctuary, and that is a whole big whack of gratitude right there. Enough, if not for a lifetime, then certainly enough for a very happy Easter break.

Kate the Grateful indeed.

Or was that Kateniss the Grateful.


My Feet Back On The Ground

“It’s not the load that breaks you down - it’s the way you carry it.”

— Lena Horne

There is no other way to put it; it's been an absolute bugger of a few days. Moving sucks. It sucks like a sucky thing that has been sucking sour stuff and is feeling really sucky.

In other words, it sucks a lot.

I have just worked out that this is Move Number 32 or something ridiculous. How on earth did that happen? More to the point, how did I collect so much china along the way? I have had to come to the realisation that I don't just have a shoe issue, I also have a kitchenware issue. And a bed linen issue. 

At least when people stay over they will have nice sheets.

I have also had to come to a rather more serious realisation.

I am not very good at asking for help. I'm very, very good at telling other people what they should do and bossing them around - but when I need help myself?

Absolutely rubbish.

But lately - well, I have had to change that behaviour. Because I have needed help, and I have needed it quite badly. I have needed emotional support. I have needed to be able to talk things through. I've needed pure physical support in terms of moving heavy stuff. And as difficult as it has been for the proudest woman in the world to ask for said assistance - once I managed to ungraciously start to open up, then I realised it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

Because when it comes down to it, if you are incredibly fortunate, as I know I am, you will have people who are always willing to assist.

I am massively grateful for the realisation - at 41 mind you - that to ask for a hand is not weakness.

I am even more grateful for those people who without fanfare or the need for recognition or reward have helped me.

Thank you.

Now back to the boxes. And possibly - well, possibly a garage sale.

An Awfully Big Adventure

“She asked where he lived. ‘Second to the right,’ said Peter, ‘and then straight on till morning.’”

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

This post really belongs in two sections. Hmmmmm... actually, three. Because there is a lot of gratitude, quite a bit about shoes, and it sits nicely in the 41 bucket list items for the year.


What a woman.

How is it involved in the 41 Steps? I am glad you asked (even if you didn't). Step Number Five: Live Somewhere You Have Never Lived Before. So that I am. I am about to grace (they may disagree with that term) the fair shores of South East Queensland. To feel the sand between my currently broken toes on a daily basis, and to further my ambition of NEVER GOING THROUGH A CANBERRA WINTER EVER AGAIN.


So off I head to the Land Of The Long Orange-Skinned Meter Maid. Where ugg boot and bikini combos are considered the height of fashion and my paleness is a weird attraction for Japanese tourists on the Main Beach at Surfers. Where people watching is more than a hobby, it's a way of life, and where the best coffee and pork belly in the Southern Hemisphere can be found if you don't think like a tourist.

If there was a bookshop closer than Coolangatta (sorry - Gold Coast) Airport, all would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Thank goodness for the interwebs.

As for the shoes - well, I am having to pack them. Which involves much effort. Much, much effort. And multiple pauses to appreciate just how lovely my shoesies are.

I am certain they will love their new home.

There are built in shoe racks in the wardrobes.

Mainly though, this post is about gratitude. Gratitude for those people who have made my time in the Can pretty damn amazing. Who have made me laugh until I've had to cross my legs and hope for the best; who have held my hand in some fairly spaztacular moments, several of them involving various hospital visits; who have cried with me, drank, eaten, cried, not cringed whilst I've sworn at the rugby and netty and AFL on TV, again when I've sworn at live rugby, cried some more; who have propped me up and been inspiring, irritating, huggable and horrible.

Who have loved me and been my friends.

Gratitude is not quite a strong enough word for the emotion I wish I could express for what you have given to me. But it will just have to do.

And as I set off on the reverse of the road trip that my gorgeous sister Oonagh and I made about six months ago, this time with a very suss Thelma to my Louise in tow (Thelma as far as I know didn't have a 5 o'clock shadow), I am happily aware that in a few days time, I will be crunching through said sand. And also, that not too far up the road from my new abode, a buccaneering boyo will soon be home from adventuring to help make my life well - interesting. To say the least. God help the Gold Coast.

I don't know why P. Pan was so keen on popping off the twig.

Life is a big enough adventure for this little duck.

And her several trillion pairs of shoes.

All That Is True

All That Is True

But for me his work has never been about the Eldorado cabaret posters of Bruant, or the cynical twisted grin of Mlle Weber as she enters a restaurant on the arm of her sister. It has always been about his fascination with the demi-monde and his - and I mean this - respect for the girls who made their living sleeping with men for money.

Wax On, Wax Off

“I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, ‘don’t try to fly too high,’ or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers, and do a better job on the wings.”

— Stanley Kubrick

I don't know about you, but I dream about flying all the time. I love it. And I can tell when I am close to waking up because my 'flights' turn into a strange kind of bunny hopping where I don't achieve much height and can only get off the ground for about ten seconds at a time; and the more I drift towards consciousness the shallower the jumps become.


But when I am truly sleeps - then I am soaring over power lines, zipping around the sky, having a total blast. It's the ultimate freedom. Possibly, much like birds, I should be looking out for passing A380s, but in dreams they tend not to be a feature - it's all swooping and soaring and not so much being sucked into jet engines.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened with old Daedalus and the luckless Icarus if the latter hadn't got a bit too big for his feathers. Would the course of aviation history have moved up a good two millennium or so? Or did they even really exist - and if they were real people, did their wings do anything other than look like big flappy things which would have been ace Mardi Gras accoutrements? 

I may be naive, or simply a believer in the improbable, but I like to think that young Icarus was (obviously before he went splat) on the right track. You know why? A couple of reasons. One, he was willing to try something radical; and two, he was massively grateful that the the only person his father wanted involved in this project was him. So many parents would say 'don't - you'll always be here. This is my project, not yours, so naff off and leave me to it.'

Hubris may have gotten the better of I&D Industrial Aerospace, but if you are lucky enough to have awesome parents - or family members - who you engage with on a personal and professional level, don't ever, ever underestimate the value of their brains and their passion for what they do. If they let you in, be in.

And if they make you a set of fairy wings?

Wow. Never, ever stop being grateful.

And don't fly too close to the outdoor gas heaters.