Thursday, 7 August 2008



Which really leaves me nowhere to go but the third child, which is interesting because there are a couple of other things I've been thinking about. General grumpiness, apologies and lift ettiquette to name a few.

Anyway, the third child; the joker, attention seeker and people person. The one who's trying to be noticed beyond the other two, who's trying to find their place. Generally they're more artistic - I don't know why - but they also have a tendency to have less self-confidence than the others.

All of which perfectly sums up Kirsten. It's also easier for me to see Kirsten's self doubts than the other two's sipmly because I know her better than them. I did after all spend more time with her when I was growing up. In many ways most of my childhood memories include her in some way. I remember her jumping on me on my way home from school one day (I had my nose in a book at the time, so it's not as bad as it sounds). I remember giving her split ends - I don't know why I was doing stuff to her hair, she must have been very patient.

But most of all I remember her. In all her glory. She is funny, she is joyful, she very much enjoys having people around her. She is far more intelligent than she gives herself credit for, and lacks the self-confidence that she clearly should have.

I think the problem is that she's had such a huge influence on my life that it's almost impossible to talk about her, there's just too much to say. Hell we shared a room for the first six to eight years of my life. In fact a few years ago when we ended up sharing a room on holiday again it felt so incredibly natural to lie in our beds talking across the room in the dark that I was almost disappointed we were too tired to do it the next night.

Which reminds me, when we did share a room I had the top bunk and she'd push up on it from below. It was something I enjoyed immensely, even after she accidentally bounced me out of the top bunk.

I think if nothing else that instilled a sense of risk and excitment in me. The ability to look at old and boring things in a new light. It's lead to a lot of my freakish behaviour - which she'd probably be appalled by, but I really must thank her for.

On the other hand though, I know that she was raised to look after and protect me. It was drilled into her from an early age and she has trouble getting past it. If I had one wish it's that she would. Scratch that, if I had one wish it's that she'd realise howe great she is and how valid her viewpoints are. If I had two wishes then the second one would be that she'd get past it and treat me as a friend and equal.

If I had three then the third would be that she did that and yet remained my big sis, because she's damn good at it!

I don't know, I feel like I should gush more about Kirsten. She's too important to me for me not to gush more. More important than Catriona and Euan, which is no disparagement on them just a simple truth. I mean Catriona and Euan are hugely important to my life, it's just that Kirsten is more so. A first among equals, in a good way.

It's just that because she's so important I've got to see a much more rounded view of her. I've seen her worries and so it's hard for me to separate them from her. I can't separate the good from the bad because it's such a complete bundle. It's Kirsten.

She's a people person. She relates. She has an emotional intuition. More importantly she has an ability to improve life for people. To make them laugh when they need it.

No, I can't do it. Because I know she finds it difficult when she can't. I've seen it. Especially with me.

But she's Kirsten, and from my point of view the world is a fundamentally better place for it.

Monday, 9 June 2008


It appears I've missed a week, which is a blatant attack on the rules. Rest assured this will not happen again.

In my defence I've nowhere to really go now except Euan, and I was surprised at the range of emotions that led to. Euan and I have always had a variable relationship. There was the stage when he was the older sibling who looked after me and I was an annoying brat. There was the stage when he was an unhappy teenager and I was an annoying brat. He then moved out into the wider world and found God and I remained at home to be an annoying brat.

He's now a married father whilst I remain an annoying brat. He really could learn something about consistency of character from me if he took the time.

Seriously though Euan is the second child. Traditionally this is the follower, or the quiet one. Someone who is in the shadow of the eldest - at least until they escape out into the wider world. They grow up being bossed around by the eldest. Even now I find myself coming back to Catriona when I think of Euan.

Anyway, unlike Catriona I have more vivid memories of Euan. It probably helped that we were both male, but equally they're less specifics as they are generalities. My love of fantasy comes from him reading the Hobbit to me when I was younger. The music I like is thanks to what I'd hear him playing in his room.

In fact the more I think about it, the more I realise that most of my interests come from Euan. Art, poetry, literatune, computers, DVDs, music, you name it he started me off on it somehow.

What's interesting here is that it's impossible to talk obut Euan without mentioning faith. He is a true believer. Someone who draws strength and calm from his belief and casts it out into the world. It lifts him when he's sad, and it rejoices with him when he's happy.

I'm not saying he doesn't question it at times - he's too intelligent a person not to. But that's the religion, and not the underlying faith in God that he maintains.

One of the most disappointing things I'll ever admit to him is that it's not something I can ever believe in myself. No matter how hard I have tried in the past.

Anyway, this is about my perceptions of him, not about me. Because Euan remains something of an enigma to me. it's not that I don't understand him, it's more a case of I don't understand how he manages to be such a thoroughly good, nice, lovely, wonderful man.

Because I think I do disappoint him - much more often than I'd like. It's nothing I can put my finger on, and it's never anything major, but every so often I'll do or say something and hell' get this look, or this tone of voice. Just enough to make me stop and reconsider what I've don.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that he's probably the most decent, kind and considerate person I know, and he's someone I'd really like to be more like.

Friday, 22 February 2008

An interesting situation

Rather naturally the last entry leads on to the next, so you're going to have to forgive me whilst I take a step to one side and look at something else for a while.

I've been avoiding really talking about work for a number of reasons. For a start it's really not that relevant to what I'm trying to achieve here. However I find myself in a situation that bears some thought.

For various reasons my job is changing and I'm taking up a new role. My current role still needs to be filled though, so two new people have been drafted to cover it. The fact that they thought they'd need two people probably says more about how well I'm doing than anything, but nevertheless they're supposed to be taking over.

Now I get that they don't know the system as well as I do, they've only had a few weeks to learn, but they're not... trying is the wrong word. They're not taking responsibility for it. They're not driving it forward.

It's kind of a shock to realise that I have been. I'm fully aware of the state of the system. I know what's been done, what needs to be done and where each of the problems have got to.

In other words I'm fully in control of it and know what needs to be done. I'm working out in my head the next steps and what needs to be achieved to reach them. I'm foreseeing problems and working out solutions and I'm molding and shaping the people around me to achieve them.

In short, I'm acting like a manager, and I'm pretty sure it's being noticed. The problem I have now is that I've got to deal with the new guys. To be a manager you've got to be a manager. It's not my job, it's not even my role, but I've put myself in the position.

So, how to sort this out. I'm not used to criticising people, and I'm not used to motivating people at the same time. It's an interesting pickle. If I do it right it'll be a huge boost to both their careers and mine. People are watching, and their looking to see how I do.

If I get it wrong, I'll create a bad working environment and end up having to do more work to fix it. Or even just to keep it going as well as I have been.

So no pressure or anything.


25/10/07 - just

So, childhood.

Now really here I should start with my parents. I mean ultimately they are the start of me. I’m not going to, but I should.

There are many reasons for this, but to keep things simple I’ll just give you two. One – it’s too big a subject to tackle without a run up. Two – to understand my relationship with them I need to look at the filter first.

But even the filter is complex. I’m the youngest of four so there are three others to introduce first before I can even begin to explain the effect.

If I’m offensive I’m truly sorry. That’s not, and will never be, my intention. But it’s impossible to try and describe someone without risking the possibility that they object.

Enough hiding. Onwards.

The first child is the leader, the trail blazer. Every fight they had first. Every aim – from the first beating heart to the first step into the wider world they did first. They can never lose that. They can never have it taken away, they can never have it diminished. Everything else is a copy of what they did first.

But that also makes them the bench mark that everyone else is compared to. They can never compete, never get the chance to be better than the others if they weren't the first time around. They're pushed forward and they never get the chance to know if they've done well or badly until the next one appears.

I'm ten years younger than Catriona, which unfortunately means that when my memories were sticking she was stepping out into the wider world. I have few truly vivid memories of her simply because I was too late.

I think that's my misfortune because what I do have is photos. My father is a compulsive photographer and almost all the ones of me before I can remember include Catriona looking after me. I don't really remember the decision to start dancing, but I'm pretty sure it was after watching her in a Claire Goodwin's dance show.

Maybe it was Kirsten, I don't know.

In fact I really have only one vivid memory of Catriona when I was growing up. It was bonfire night, we were out at the traditional bonfire and she was looking after me. She had to explain to me that I'd spent all of the money that Mum & Dad had given to her, and all of her money as well.

It was the first time I was introduced to the concept of money, and money as a finite resource. It was also the first time I was introduced to generosity as a concept.

Well that's not true. I'm sure I must have been introduced to both those things before, but it was the first time it made sense. I think money and generosity have been intrinsically entwined in my head ever since. Which is weird because to tie it down to one thing completely misses the point.

Catriona has a marvellous generosity of spirit, of time, energy, enthusiasm and warmth. The majority of the time she will give up anything for anyone. The rest of the time she will give it up for - it's the wrong word, but - the right person.

I remember discovering that a work site was just around the corner from where she lived. Literally around the corner - the car park was across the road. So I figured I'd skip the ride home, get a train and see if she was in. Normally she wouldn't have been, but that day she'd had a doctor's appointment so she was. For once in her life she had a few brief hours to relax and enjoy herself and as soon as she saw it was me she gave them up.

I don't think it meant anything to her, it just meant a lot.

I've see her cry once at my paternal grandfather's funeral. After we walked out Euan and I turned to her together and it was one thing too much for her. In my head the subconscious moves I see are me turning to my older sibling for support to see him turning to his older sibling for support. So we both turned to her for support.

I think she recognised that and it was more than she could handle at that time. She needed her own support, so she burst into tears. It was too much for her.

It happened that I was closer so I caught her. The interesting thing was that I immediately passed her onto Sean, her then boyfriend and now husband.

I had no stability, no ground work to build on without her. Give me anyone in tears and I will do my best to make them stable - for a time at least. But remove my family and I have no tools to work with because the concept was so alien to me I'd never considered it.

I have now, and I know I could deal with it. I just hope to God none of the situations that would require it will happen any time soon.

But I suddenly realise I haven't even mentioned the basics yet. The simple intimate truths that we build a part of our personality on. I love my sister, deeply and truly. She is my rock of sanity, my grounding stone. She is one of my biggest fans and harshest critics. She is kind, generous, giving and warm. I appreciate everything about her and I don't see her enough because she gives so much of herself to other people that I'd hate to be another burden on her.

It's the wrong way of looking at it, I know. Logically she'd want me to bug her, if I was her I'd want to be bugged. But emotionally it's enough for me to know she's there - whenever. In a weird way I think it would cost her more to give me less than it would cost her to give someone who meant less more.

But then equally I get more out of her giving me less than they do. A five minute chat with her improves my day, and my life, as much as an evening with a good friend does (and that applies to the other two as well, but more on them later).

Like I said, I love Catriona deeply and truly. She's the most obvious marker of who I am. And there are some truths that are buried so deep, and are so obvious that we never think about or question them. They are such a part of us that an entire section of our self, our inner being, is based upon them.

It's nice to know that the only reason this one is wrong is because it's not strong enough. After all, maybe she gets more from a five minute chat with me too.