Some shit I learned in 2014. What did you learn?

1. If there’s a future in Europe, it’s probably in Scandinavia

Free health care, comparatively generous pensions, care for the elderly, affordable housing – four things I’ll bet you a MILLION POUNDS we won’t have in the UK when I reach retirement age in 35 or so years time. So, if my husband and I can batter down the language barriers and learn to live in the cold(er than Britain), I think that Scandinavia is our destination. Particularly Norway. It’s the only solvent place in Europe, with a massive trust fund from its oil revenues, or Sweden with its megabucks. With low populations and high GDP per capita, these are the economies that can keep investing in human services, whereas the UK government is stripping them to a bare minimum. I know which one looks like a secure prospect for my old age.

2. I am a writer

I never would have thought it, but I really am. Whether I’m a good writer or a talented writer is up for debate, but I know I’m a writer because when I don’t write, I get depressed and panicky. I also know I’m a writer more now than ever because of the sense I get that there’s not enough time to do all the work I want to do. And beyond all that, as Joni Mitchell said: “the best of my mind goes down [on] the page”, I make a lot more sense written down than in real life.

3. I was a traumatised child

I was traumatised when we left Wales and moved to England. We left behind mountains, rocks, deep cut valleys, rugged coastline, rain, heather, bogs, and the Welsh language. I spoke Welsh with my friends, so when we moved to England and I had to make new friends, it was a massive culture shock to be in a mono-lingual English environment. It was like another world. I became interested in maps, mostly to see how far away my real home, Wales, was from where we now were. Hundreds of miles seemed like the distance to the moon. It seemed insurmountable. The old life was so far away it was as good as dead. And as a result, I truly grieved. Truly. And it changed me. Trauma in a young child can affect them for the rest of their lives.

4. You can’t change the past, but you can build a future for yourself

The Tristan that went looking for sex and love on the internet, the 14 year old Tristan that felt so ugly and unlovable that he thought he had to exploit the sexual desires of pederasts in order to get laid, the Tristan that put himself in such danger, that didn’t value his own life, who was raped, who was abused, who wound up wanting to kill himself, who was traumatised again and again… I wish there was something I could do to stop him. I wish I could protect him. I wish I could save him, but I can’t. I CANNOT change the past. The Tristan that was so sweet, so loving, so positive, so ambitious, that was a dreamer, a charmer, a friend, a little chubby bundle of joy – well, he did what he did. I went through what he went through. For such a long time I thought he was dead. By being dead it meant that all the things he went through were dead and gone as well. But they’re not, and he is not. And he deserves to be alive. The only way that Tristan can live is by giving him a future.

5. The only way I can honour, or save that Tristan is to give him back his imagination

There were no limits to his imagination, and using his imagination in play, in writing stories, in music was what gave him life and what made him unique. My imagination got buried under sexual desire and sexual trauma aged 14, and it barely saw the light of day again. The only way I can save the child that washed his body only to have it abused is to re-connect with his imagination and his dreams. I can’t change the past, but in re-connecting with the imagination I can give him back his strength, and his spark. My spark. Maybe finally appreciating him and appreciating what made him, me, unique is the lesson I was meant to learn. Maybe it’s the light that emerges from the abyss. I know that it’s the only way I can go on, and I owe it to that Tristan to do it.

6. In the Anglo-Saxon world we limit ourselves to our own language, to our detriment

Most of the world speaks a language that isn’t English, and all over the world people are making amazing music, art, film, TV and literature in tongues we can’t understand. I say GET OVER IT. Get a dictionary or switch on the subtitles and get involved with what the rest of the world has to say about what it means to be human. The most inspiring music I’ve discovered this year has all been in other languages: Christine and the Queens (French), Chyi Yu (Mandarin), La Lupe (Spanish), Indila (French), Ólöf Arnalds (Icelandic), Chisu (Finnish), Cristina Donà (Italian) and 9 Bach (Welsh). My enjoyment of them has only been enhanced by looking for translations of their lyrics and learning to understand at least some of the language they’re singing in. Stop being lazy and try it!

7. I can go all over the world but nowhere will feel more like home than the Rheidol and Elan valleys

You have to go there to understand. If I had to I’d go there and never leave again.

7. New Year’s resolutions mean shit, birthday resolutions are much better, but if you’re living your life and are attentive to your thoughts, desires, impulses then you achieve much more than any stupid resolution.

End of.


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