Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Airports are good places to begin. Not only because they afford time for beginning, but because every journey necessitates the start of more than itself - as it does the ending. This book, at its beginning, is dedicated to being whatever it wants to be. Its purpose and format are neither preordained nor fixed, but I anticipate that it is going to record, perhaps unreliably, and probably sporadically, a very interesting and transformational year. A year in which structure develops
I didn't finish the sentence because something or other interrupted my train of thought... it transpires that the timing was perfect. Little did I know the extent to which those words would prove true, or how far from my expectations the definitions of 'interesting' and 'transformational' would turn out to be.
I had one of those great seats on the plane, right next to the door with all the space a Bec's legs could want. Ever since I was old enough to really know that I'm able to die, I haven't been overly fond of flights. That said, I lived in China for three years, so the fear was clearly manageable. Anyway, this flight was a smooth one with a friendly, communicative captain (which always reassured me for some reason...)
Here we are making our descent to Heathrow:
Of course, the plane is far, far, far too close to the house below it because at this point both engines had stopped responding and there was not enough power to make the runway. We were dropping from the sky towards a busy London road and I, ensconced in my deliciously leg-roomy yet windowless seat, had no idea.
We just made it over the perimeter fence before slamming into grass the other side and skidding towards the end of a runway... there was the bump to end all bumps and the crack of my top teeth slamming into my bottom teeth and then... nothing... haziness... snippets of recollection but little else: a man running from another section, desperately wanting to get off the plane; the firm, well-projected voice of a member of cabin crew taking control; jumping onto the emergency chute and wondering why I wasn't going anywhere; running across the runway and answering an, "Are you okay?" with an, "I don't know!"; starting to cry then being too shocked to continue; the kindness of other passengers: the man who gave me his (ankle-length!) emergency jacket, another who offered the use of his mobile phone (from which I forewarned Ma who was waiting in Terminal 4 for a flight that had frozen in the information board world), and the girl who pointed out the wheels of the plane lying in a far-off field and made me laugh with jokes about Chinese hats; using accumulated loose change at a pay phone to send my mother on a parent-hunting mission for a fellow passenger... to tell them he was safe and unharmed; the nun in the secluded section of the airport where we spent many hours, speaking to me with warmth and sincerity; free Pret A Manger sandwiches accompanied by exhaustion and a desperation to see my family; inarticulately answering question after question; waiting; feeling dazed; wondering which way up I was.
You see, my seat was in the space between the third door and window where there is no window. The chute I tried to slide down was the incredibly on the wonk affair behind the wing - is it any wonder I wasn't going anywhere?
The wheels of the plane in a field over yonder.
The scene of my dramatic, non-slidey escape.
These men, Peter Burkill and John Coward, saved my life. It's thanks to their skill and presence of mind that I stood and walked off flight BA38. Yes, they were doing a job, but they did it so well that day that 152 people danced with death and came out the other side. Besides which, they are the ones who faced the ordeal that we, in our blissful ignorance, were spared. The word gratitude has a new depth and significance in my vocabulary.
Why is this the start of the story of Bec? Because everything changed on that day. Everything. Why am I writing it now? Because I am finally ready to admit to it.
More next time my lovelies. Be well and be careful and don't give up. Remember: for better or worse, no experience lasts for ever. Much love, Bec x
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Life is unrecognisable when compared to what it was, and I don't think it really has anything to do with where I'm located on the globe. Issues of life and death which were once too huge and too far-removed to be tackled, push their way into the comfortable routine of existence, stepping on the toes of the familiar figures in everyday life. Death is not something to be faced one day, it is a constant companion to those who are alive. Where there is life, there's the promise of death. It's the old two-sided coin; night and day; main course and dessert. One inevitably goes with the other: they are inseparable, although who knows which is which? The challenge now is to accommodate this truth within the confines of a 'normal' life. To be neither too hedonistic nor morbid as a result, yet achieve a degree of awareness. To keep plodding through a story that we are only permitted to know a tiny part of: the gap between the end and the epilogue, which is devoid of words.
Yet again, there is much to tell, but now is not the time to tell it. I will squish a little update in here, however:
I'm in Sri Lanka! It's rather incredible.
More on that later, I'm all typed out.
Be well, and if you're not, be honest. Let's look after each other in any way we can.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Well, hello! Look who it is: me!
So, realising that it's been ALMOST A YEAR since I last wrote, I was on the verge of starting a whole new blog... I actually went as far as signing up for it and writing the first post... but then I realised that I was doing that exact thing that I've come to realise makes no sense: COMPARTMENTALISING!! This has truly been a year of realisations - the kind that make life itself look so very different, it's as if someone has switched channel without telling you. Yes, anyway, what I've realised about compartmentalising life is that:
a) Calling a marshmallow a mushroom does not change the essence of the marshmallow. It can be called a mushroom if you insist, but when I eat it (which I inevitably will), it's still going to taste like a marshmallow.
b) People like stories. Deep down, somewhere where intellect doesn't impinge on intuition, we are all narrating our own.
c) Our stories are composed of miniscule chapters. Teeny weeny incy wincy chapters, so small that they flow together to create a seemingly seamless whole. In case you didn't realise, that's good news. It means that this very mini moment is the one when you can make that new start you've been planning :D
Mm hmm, so basically I concluded that I should persevere with this blog. And here I am.
To say that this year has been eventful would be an understatement so great that I couldn't even do justice to it via some incredibly ingenious comparison. Let's just say it's been MOST eventful, and leave it at that.
I know you've only come to snoop at my photos, so I'll gratify the effort you made walking over here by sticking up a few from the last year. Be warned, however: I have much to say. I suspect I'm going to write about things that I had no intention of writing about, because finally I see that this year has been awful and wonderful, and weird and enlightening, and scary and exciting, and so many other things beside... and I have always taken refuge in writing: it organises my chaotic thoughts.
So welcome, friends old and new, to peek at my snapshots, skim-read my stories and wonder what on earth I am. I do hope you are happy. I hope you are warm, well-fed and within a few pace's distance of something wonderful to read. But, even if you can't tick all of the above, I hope you have peace.
Tusk-brushing sesh with lovely Jin (Beijing)
Wondering whether I'm about to meet a watery end (Devon)
Bec the leaf (Westonbirt Aboretum)
In my other role: promoter of dumplings (Beijing)
With cold feet, happy heart and Sarah (Sandymouth, Devon)
Mart demonstrates the in-tent schnuggle (Forest of Dean)
The Buddha demonstrates the in-tent peace (The FOREST!)
Mim and Mart do breakfast at Mim's: many yums! (Pembrokeshire)
Bec overboard! (Near Mim's)
Waiting for our clothes to Dry (Launderette int' Forest)
The world beneath my knees (Mim land)
The intricacies of tortoise care (Swansea)
Giving my forehead its annual airing (Mim's beach!)
Wishing I could wrap the WHOLE WORLD in a snuggly pink towel (Swansea)
For now, much love,
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Yes, jolly Crimbly time is upon us once more, and to celebrate I've been teaching lessons with a festive theme and having yuleish adventures around Beijing! I'm going to be teaching on Christmas Day, but only until 10am, at which point the Crimbo lounging and gorging shall commence! I've just purchased some apple cinnamon tea, so I really couldn't be feeling anymore festive this far away from home.
Here I've captured a few of our recent pre-Crimbo antics:
Miss Sarah Marsh and her pals the baubles.
Me inspecting a plastic crab at the Christmas market.
Bonding with the baubles.
Now for two little videos that I made (filmmaker extraordinaire that I am!):
Yes, this is the rather splendid Kempinski Hotel, which has the HUGEST EVER Crimbly tree in its lobby! We popped to the deli for coffee and nibbles before venturing out in search of Sarah's Christmas tree.
I am emitting a somewhat witchlike cackle in this one because Sarah had already been endeavouring to open yonder box of tea for quite some time!!! Oh ho ho ho!!
Erm... I'm not sure whether these are actually going to be watchable, or if they simply spend forever buffering! We still can't access Blogger blogs from here so I am, as ever, unable to actually see my own blog!
Either way, I wish you and yours the most wonderful Christmas yet! This time next year I shall be home and near you all, but until then: let the festivities commence!!!!!!
Do, do, do enjoy! Much Crimbo love,
Beijing Bec x x x
Monday, December 10, 2007
How are you lovely people? Feeling festive I hope! I'm in reasonably festive spirits, aided by the fact that I stepped outside into a snowy winter wonderland this morning! Woo!
I've received some Christmas parcels over the last week or so! I'm soooooooo lucky and spoilt: thanks to everyone who's sent Christmas gifts, cards, wishes or thoughts (yes, I'm psychic as well as forgetful ;))
Here are a few snaps from quiz night at Lush (cafe/bar) last Wednesday:
Our team 'The Twittering Sparrows' (Sarah M, yours truly, John A (my next door neighbour) and Jarod Z (my film watching buddy)) posing with answer sheet.
The world is prettier when viewed through a cocktail (and they have buy 2 get 1 free from 8-10pm!)
All quizzed out!
John's mojito gave more assistance in question answering than the combined efforts of his three teammates!
Mr Zhang enjoying the quiztastic experience.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! We did pretty well (5th out of 20 I believe), but sadly left without the first prize (a bottle of Jack!)