Monthly Archives: March 2014

Remembering Sherwin Nuland

TED Blog

Surgeon, author and speaker Sherwin Nuland died on March 3, 2014, at age 83. The author of a dozen books — including the award-winning How We Die, a clear-eyed look at life’s last chapter — Nuland came to TED in 2001 to tell a story he’d never told before.

The world-renowned surgeon, clinical professor of surgery at Yale and best-selling author began his talk with a history of mental health and mental illness … and gradually began to weave in his own story, of a depression so crippling, so impossible to shift, that in his 40s he was in line for a lobotomy. But his young doctor made a bold suggestion, and then stuck to it in the face of widespread doubt: Nuland would try electric shock therapy.

It’s a stunning talk. TED’s own Tom Rielly, who saw the talk live, remembers:

“Sherwin’s talk took us on a journey into…

View original post 228 more words

What can it all mean?

Don’t ask me, it’s Sunday.

by Elodie

by Elodie

The blog has become a monolith

And, as I had mentioned before it was nearly full, with only a miniscule 2% remaining, which is partly why I stopped posting quite so much… I just did not want to face the day. Yes, I had a new shiny blog all lined up – it had a title and everything. It sits on the shelf, not quite launched.

My On Wishes and Horses blog is officially too big to navigate, it has started to cost me money, it is random, but I love it. Sometimes people hit on posts I’ve forgotten about, and I am sad enough that I occasionally zip back to have a little read and see what I was whiffling about on that occasion. It’s like a small part of my memory, outsourced and with pictures.

It turns out that I don’t want to let this one go – especially now I realise I have had four readers from Bhutan in the last year or so. This list appears in my stats with lovely little country flags alongside, but I can’t reproduce them here. I have therefore put up the visitors for the last year or so and there are countries on there of which I have never heard. How amazing is that? I think it is. Oh the internet has lots to answer for certainly, but on the whole what with the way it connects people with each other and knowledge and pictures of cats… well how could it be all bad.

For the stats on all the countries people have dropped by from over the last twelve months, along with their lovely colourful flags click the link. In the meantime, I keep on (with a space upgrade).

The amazing flag of Bhutan

Thomas Newman ‘Any Other Name’

from the American Beauty soundtrack: press play and chill

Boat Shard

Boat Shard

Far too much out, and not nearly enough in

I am, I will admit, antisocial.

I used to go out a lot. A lot a lot. But now, thinking back, the main attraction of that was the drink and the company not so much. I can also admit that really I am an antisocial drinker… but I have Cut Back on Account of My Liver. Old habits die hard however, and I tend to start thinking about what I could drink in the evening, in the morning. As I have Cut Back, I now tend to think about whether the day is a dry one or a wet one. If it is dry, I may have to cycle through a few internal reels of dialogue about why it must be dry, or whether I could justifiably take a dram and flout the clear instructions from Public Health himself which is: have a dry day every other day, at least.

All that takes a bit of a while.

Tonight is a dry night, so was last night. Last week was drink on Thursday before Kings of the Dance at the Coliseum on St Martin’s Lane, drink at Henry Burgers before and with food, drink on Saturday because the habit was too hard to break and also on Sunday because it would be a dry Monday the day after. Basically, I fell off the self-imposed 24 hour stage wagon and all the travelling to and fro in the dark made me quite tired from which I may only just be recovering. Long, long gone are the days when I could live hard…

Still, on the basis of overdoing it somewhat last week (there were no hangovers I might add, but it does affect my sleep pattern) I can highly recommend two things to readers, in no particular order: Russian ballet dancer Ivan Vasiliev for his high lepping and Gnarly Head Zinfandel for a sultry berry finish.

Breaking (it) Down

Seems that I wrote this nearly a year ago. I wouldn’t call it a poem – more a snapshot of my external disarray. Not much has changed since then it seems. Last week I bought two tickets for a show, for a night that I work and can’t go to. I gave the spare away. The only tangible difference between last year and this, it would seem, is that I set to work earlier in the morning back then, the washing has taken over the entire dining table now and I completely failed to book this year’s school camping trip.

Oh and my eye hurts. It didn’t before…

Last edited by on April 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

The windows need cleaning and the damp is coming in
The clothes pile teeters over the laptop
Lesson plans stay in my head
(where OFSTED can never go).

I invite a child’s friend round for tea
At the same time I have to go to Parents’ Evening

I buy tickets for the theatre
On the night the youngest is out of town, camping

I make half-arrangements
And fail to know the name of songs

Fruit appears, all mystery, in the bowl

My duties are slowly being removed
Through dereliction
Of the house
& garden

The apple tree grows through the washing line
Over the blue tarpaulin on the ground

I am hoping, if I leave it
Long enough
I can whip it off
With a flourish
‘Ta da…’
And find a manicured lawn.

Just like my plan
For the snails
Munching on my filing
Leaving only the inedible essentials.

As it is, today
I must try and remember
To wrap my head round Tuesday

And not let it slip through my mind…

Well, only a little

Out of the fog




Definition of ekphrasis from a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art

Ekphrasis was on my exceedingly long list of things to do sometime (along with sorting out my bedroom, refilling the trenches in the garden, cleaning the oven…) however a visit to the Royal Academy is unlikely to inspire a fit of wanting to tackle the tasks in the brackets…  Fortunately, a recent trip to the Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined exhibition at the RA did remind me I wanted to try working on a poem to describe an artistic experience. It’s my first attempt at ekphrasis; I make no claims for it, but it was fun to do.

The exhibition runs until the 4th April 2014 and is recommended if you are that neck of the woods (Piccadilly, London, The World…)

Playing with Light

I come to write
With corniced eyes…
My brittle, bad, habit
But the ink stays wet.

Explore these mindspace secrets
Containing voids for our flesh
Spiralling into the firmament
To face down gilded mood angels

Inside, glean the skinned wood groaning
Tread the knotted smooths made of splinters.
I’m a noise hum-thrumming through
In search of softening spaces

Always, never, diverted
To forgotten whorls, loops and arches
Pressed against the lost twins in satin concrete
Both wearing the scold’s bridle

Trapped under hollow sheaves
And mussed-up smartphones
Reclining lovers plait
Hair into straw rainbows

Squeezing between valiant hazelnut switches
Close-by, a disconcerting grumble of beaches
Where the Sentinel reflects, only, One Way!
To the #Zen Garden

Lenticular clouds beam
Making me blink. Or think. Inverted
Clusters bustle under pointing corners
As we abrade our hides

Lurk behind bamboo ogees
Watch the game with cedared curtains,
Plus silhouettes… slow-dawning…
All playing with light.

playing with light


They are meant to stay just out of reach, surely? Because if you try to live them out, they end up all weird and not making sense, just like the ones you have when you are asleep. If by some miracle, in waking consciousness you get your hands round the throat of your dream, truly, then all you end up doing is throttling the life out of it. Don’t you? Or is that just me?

Everyone says have a dream. Maybe I am done with them now. Perhaps I shall just switch to purpose. My purpose. This blog is called On Wishes & Horses, a bit of a play on words, where the next line is that beggars would ride. I am still out on wishes. I was very anti-them a while back, now I am not so sure…

And it’s at this juncture I’d like to insert a picture of a porpoise, just as a small sign that I have not disappeared up my own arse and had my sense of humour surgically removed circa 2010. But I just quite can’t bring myself to do it. Sorry.

I was there when…

You, the dear reader, may expect this kind of blog post title to lead into a fervid description of some event of relative or even national importance.

Let me warn you now, it’s not going to. Not today anyway.

Rather, here is the place I choose to record that I was there when…

My youngest daughter came home and told me she had had X education at school (with a heartfelt shudder and a grimace)

My oldest daughter came home from school with a bag full of vegetable soup (which she drained and ate)

I was there when… and it felt like we could probably sink no lower as a family unit, for just a second, before we laughed quite immoderately, truth be told.

How can you not when the book your daughter is receiving her X education from is entitled ‘My Mother Laid An Egg’ and next week’s will be ‘Hair in Unusual Places’ How can you not curl up with laughter?

For the record I should like the world to know that the X-educated daughter was not entirely ignorant of the facts around procreation (and who ever thought the Facts of Life covered either sex or life must have been either a) a nun b) insane) but that she is of squeamish disposition and felt that she would rather have been appraised of the situation in Year 6. She is in Year 5.

She also reported that the boys showed a great deal more interest in the subject than the girls (apart from one who ran away) and that the girls had worked out that they would have ‘a lot more to do’ growing up than boys. The girls gave X education a thumbs down; the boys a thumbs up. Such is the way of the world?

For my own record, I would like to add that ‘Hair in Unusual Places’ is a terrible title for what I imagine will be a book all about hair in all the usual places, were it not for society’s obsession with women, and now men, going about their daily business like skinned rabbits.

My other daughter ate her vegetables, formerly known as soup. She has already done all this X education stuff at school and it is of no interest to her currently because her school is full of Munchkins and she is an Amazonian warrior. Good. Now I’m off to grow my moustache.

I’m not joking.

(There’s not really a photo for this post – is there?)