you’re my favourite earworm

You work your way into my brain,

Burrowing deep through the ear

Worming your way into canals

Hitting synapses like piano keys

Firing up memories

From too long ago.

There is a Co-op advert on the TV at the moment and the song that accompanies it is a new version of The Only Way Is Up which was originally a hit in the 80s for Yazz. I heard this song over and over when I was in bed, feeling sorry for myself after my ultra run and now it hits a nerve every time I hear it.

It’s amazing that when a song works its way into your head, especially during an emotionally charged moment, it lights up the brain like a firework every time you hear it afterwards.

This is a real problem if you do long events as an earworm can end up rattling around your brain for up to 30 hours. Imagine that. Thirty hours of a song, and you can normally only remember the chorus, so it can get quite annoying.

On my last event I had Oh Happy Day playing on repeat, and I am still too scared to play that song at the moment as I think that I have a minor form of PTSD.

And, these songs can still be recalled years after the event. When I swam the Channel in 2013, I had Emile Sande ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ rattling around my head. That was 9 years ago and I still associate that song with the 14 hours that I spent in the pain cave that day.

Do other people have earworms that they will remember for a lifetime?

Much Love

Rachel xx

leaving a legacy

down angle photography of red clouds and blue sky
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

She needs to know her story will

Be etched in stone for all to see

And yet she knows she is one girl

In seven billion people walking

On this great and wondrous Earth,

So how can she be held aloft

Above the people jostling for

A place in hefty history books.

I’m sure I’m not alone in worrying about the legacy that I will leave behind when I am gone. I worry about the fact that I will just fade away; I have one child and when he is gone, and perhaps my grandchildren, I will be forgotten.

This is a kind of narcissistic thought, because not every person can go down in history. And just because everyone won’t remember you, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t touched the lives of a few people in a wonderful way.

But I am writing this piece because I’ve spent the last week thinking about Deborah James who died at age 40 last week. If you are not in the UK, you may not have heard of her, but she was a teacher and then she got bowel cancer. She campaigned tirelessly during her illness for more awareness of the disease, and just before she died she was made a Dame.

She has left behind such an incredible legacy and, as this is something that I do genuinely worry about, it has reminded me of what is really important in life.

It’s not about getting famous and successful just for the sake of having money. It’s about either doing something that will help the wider community, or at least the people in your immediate life.

As a bit of an introvert, I know that I could never do anything like Deborah did, but I do have the ability to make my friends feel good, and to make sure that the kids I teach have a positive experience in my room.

It’s great the we have people like Deborah, and many of us who had never even met her, feel really sad about her passing – she felt like a friend. But remember that you can also leave a positive legacy in the smallest way – it might mean a hell of a lot to just one person.

Much Love

Rachel xx

book review: managing expectations by minnie driver

I find memoirs to be one of my favourite kinds of books. But normally the celebrity memoir doesn’t have quite the same charm as they can sometimes become a bit showy and self-congratulatory. However, this wasn’t the case with this one.

I think that it was the essay format that really helped this one along. Having separate little stories to devour meant that it didn’t feel like we were just aiming for the point where our main character gets famous and we should all clap and cheer because they have made it when us mere mortals are never going to achieve even a smidgen of their success.

In Managing Expectations, Minnie does take a close look at her faults and I loved the essays earlier on in the book that charted some of the key moments in her childhood.

The book was written during lockdown and Minnie’s mother died during the writing of it. This meant that the book had a very sad ending because the final essay is about the death. Reading it was painful and I can imagine anyone who has lost someone will find it even tougher. Her mother sounded as though she had such a way with words and I hope that when I am on my deathbed, I can pass on wisdom like that.

If you get the audiobook, there is an extra interview at the end which is well worth a listen. Minnie chats with her friend who is a novellist herself, and they talk about the art of memoir writing and about being an avid reader.

I loved that they pointed out that being human is never one thing or the other. She describes an audition when she was a child, and her response to her friend who was upset about not getting the part was, ‘there is no best, there is just one that gets picked.’ I liked that because I’m guilty of thinking in black and white; if I don’t get picked, to me, it means that I’m rubbish.

I also loved when they spoke about readers being polite people. I had never made that correlation, but now that I’ve heard somebody say it I can’t unsee it.

So, from one reader to another, have a lovely evening and I wish you the happiest of weeks.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a hazy prom night memory

instant photo of three women drinking
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

A hazy prom night memory

That drifts past on those June time winds

As sweet sixteens shuffle up for photographs

In front of limos, arms around a girlfriend who

Will be forgotten in two years, but now

This night is all we have. The music loud,

Thump-thumping as we enter jazzed up gyms,

Once filled with scents of sweat, instead

We are all blinded with the disco lights

And arches of balloons, the sneaked in vodka

Already warming up our youngster veins.

We will remember this for life, this love,

We’ll find the Polaroids in kitchen drawers

And reminisce in thirty years, when youth is gone,

But still that dress hangs in my room

A daughter will want to wear it soon.

Our school were having their leavers’ prom last night, and before I left I popped my head into the hall to see what it looked like. It was so beautiful it actually took my breath away.

Noah left school last year and the school decided not to hold the prom because of COVID. It made me so sad that he was missing out on something that feels like a rite of passage. I was desperate to be the proud mother, waving him off as he got into his limo in a smart tuxedo.

We are lucky in this country that we have sixth form college after school and this means that he will get another opportunity to attend a prom next summer (so I will also get my moment).

It also made me think back to my own prom. I left school 21 years ago so the idea of a prom was still pretty new in England. I remember it being very exciting that we got to dress up and dance the night away at the Hilton Hotel no less.

But it was probably the house party afterwards that was most memorable. About half the year were in attendance and everyone was drinking so it got pretty messy. I seem to remember someone being sick out of the upstairs window.

I hope that the kids at the prom last night had a blast and that they will have fond memories of dancing to Love Shack and being sick in their friend’s mum’s flower bed. It has to be done, doesn’t it?

Much Love

Rachel xx

upstairs, downstairs

brown boat on sea
Photo by Tiana on Pexels.com

They drift around in black, like shadows,

Quiet while the rich ones dance

And drink and eat and make a mess,

But all of it is whisked away

By morning time when sun streams in

And bodies turn in silky bed sheets

Ready for a breakfast made

By people poorer than ourselves.

I absolutely love watching Below Deck. I think that it’s aired around the world, but in case you haven’t seen it, it follows a group of people who work on board a luxury yacht for weekly charters. Each episode follows a new set of guests and how the crew manage and interact with those guests.

The season I’m watching at the moment is actually American, but it feels like there is something decidedly British about the set up on these boats. The idea that the upper class can sit around drinking champagne in the sun, while the poor people scurry around in the shadows making the magic happen. I find it strangely intriguing to watch.

And then there’s the relationship between the crew which is so fun to watch. You put a group of strangers together and have them live and work in such close proximity and there are always going to be a few fireworks.

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy watching relationships form in real life and so I can’t help but fall in love with Big Brother, Love Island and all those other reality shows. Many would say they are just trash, but I feel like it educates me in all the parts of life that I feel like I kind of missed in my twenties.

They teach me how to be a better human being.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a change is as good as a holiday

white happy camper printed cup on brown wooden log
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Fresh scenes

For tired eyes

They reinvigorate

The waning soul

And makes time fly

In the mortal’s eye.

I went on my first little school trip today and it was so nice to get out of school and just see something different.

Because I have trained during a COVID year and it was still difficult at the beginning of this school year, I have not had the opportunity to go on any trips. This one wasn’t a proper trip, but at least I got out of the mad house that is our school.

Our Year 7 cohort are on camp this week and the first half went down to the camp on Monday and came back today. So, it was my job to get on a coach with the new group of students, have lunch at the camp and then go back on the coach with the first group.

I was only off the bus for about an hour and a half but it was still so nice to see the kids running around the woods and having fun. I couldn’t be spared from my department for the whole camp, but I would definitely like to go on a camp one year, and stay for the whole thing.

However, my day out of the office has really helped me feel a bit refreshed and ready to go for the second half of the week. A change is definitely as good as a holiday.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the centre court buzz

two person playing tennis
Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

Kate and Meghan lead the way

In tailored suits and shades worth more

Than all the clothes I own.

But all are rich, sitting eating cream

And strawberries like rubies in the bowl,

Evian on tap unless the Champagne’s popped

And when the players walk out onto court

That crowd erupts in cheers so tempered by

The English sensibilities. The dreams

Of tennis girls go up in flames

And unknowns win a flurry of top games.

This is the place where dreams are made,

This is our Centre Court – our stage.

So, Wimbledon Tennis Tournament started yesterday and we’ve already been treated to some great tennis, especially if you are a Brit and you were rooting for Emma or Andy. Both of our tennis superstars won on Centre Court and it just reminds us how special the place is.

Emma Raducanu had never actually played on Centre Court before and it was lovely to see her enjoying the experience. She seems to be the type of player who thrives on pressure and so that atmosphere probably served her well.

And then there’s the magic of seeing royalty and celebrities gracing the spectator area. Nobody will forget the 2018 championship when Kate and Meghan turned up together and everyone was whispering, wondering if they actually even liked each other.

My own personal anecdote comes courtesy of a friend I used to work with. A couple of years ago, her brother won a wild card ticket into the main championship and then he got through the first two rounds. Nobody had heard of him before and he ended up playing Federer on Centre Court.

For an hour or so we watched him on the telly, and we yelped every time the camera panned up to my friend in the royal box. He got hammered by Federer, but what an experience. It was like watching something out of a Hollywood movie.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the reading slump

books in black wooden book shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The words all mix together like

A lumpy soup, luke warm and sad

They don’t excite the way they should.

The pages turn so slowly with

A painful wait between the chapters

Not sure these words are understood.

I’m in a dreaded reading slump at the moment. I have two books on the go and I’m not enjoying either of them and it is one of the worst feelings that a reader can possibly suffer.

Diving into a book gives me release from a world that is sometimes not very nice, so when I’m stuck in a bad book I feel like a door has been closed to that other world. I am quite literally locked out of the place that will make me feel better.

There is the argument that I could just put the book down and start something new, but I fall into the camp that hates giving up on a book. I do occasionally DNF a book, but it hurts my soul to do that and I would rather soldier on miserably.

I am into the last 30 pages of one of the books so I am almost there and I can’t wait to get to start another. It feels like the final few miles of an ultra marathon; not very pleasant at the moment, but it will feel worth it when I post my star rating on Goodreads.

And then there’s the fact that the quality of a book is so subjective. I’m slaving away through this novel while others are lapping it up and loving every word. I wish I could like everything, but alas, being human involves having likes and dislikes and going through little dips where reading feels like a chore.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the perfect first date

assorted books
Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

I read a tweet today that said a perfect first date would be to go to a used book store and buy each other a book. I don’t think I could think of a better way of getting an indication whether you could get along with someone in one book.

Books are so personal and they hold so many memories and feelings. I don’t think that he would have to pick me a book that I liked; I would just care about the story behind it and why he thought that it would be a good book for me.

And what a beautiful way to spend an afternoon!

When I lived in Cape Town, we would often wander down Long Street where there were just endless vintage bookshops. I could spend the whole afternoon going in one after the other and finding quirky little books that you would never find anywhere else.

Follow that with a coffee and a slice of cake in one of the cafes that plays cool jazz music and has waiting staff that are pierced and tattooed and you have yourself a weirdly wonderful date. We wouldn’t even need to talk, we could just read the books that were chosen for us and let the pages do the talking.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Glastonbury on a sunny day

two women embracing surrounded by crowd
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

The Pyramid Stage rises from the ground,

A jagged tooth protruding upwards,

Releasing golden stars in sparkly costumes

Skipping through the summer sunset haze.

The flags on poles as long as fishing rods

Wave in slow mo time, the breeze

Fluttering through them to the music beat,

And girls will sit on shoulders of

Their boyfriends as they sip from cans

Of beer warmed by the evening sun.

They’re all here for the music though;

To hear the classic tunes as stars look down

And fireworks fly into an inky sky

With key change times that bring that tears

To crowds lost in this hedonistic world.