Show up. Dive in. Persevere.

Dear Leo and Miller,

I think I need to reassess the frequencies of our letters. I didn’t think it would be too ambitious to write one per week but it is certainly proving so. So instead of once a week it’s going to be when I have something worth sharing with you – then I know I will find the time. I am finding Instagram a better place to stay consistent and connected with the project – it’s much more immediate and practical. But I won’t abandon the blog, I promise.

Christmas went over in a blur. A beautiful blur but a still a blur. The tree stayed standing, no presents were tampered with before the big day and tempers remained at reasonable levels throughout the entire festive period. I think this was mainly due to the fact we didn’t do half of the things we planned on doing. Parties were missed, loose arrangements weren’t kept, half-made commitments were cancelled but I think it was a welcome relief to everyone. From the 28th of December we just hid. Hid in our house and only left it when we absolutely wanted to and completely on our terms. The four of us walked into town and went for dumplings at the market, sometimes soft play. All your normal favourite things. We didn’t even go to Beadnell. The weather was freezing and the advantages weren’t weighing up the disadvantages so we just didn’t go. The last time we went up for the day (sometime in early December) I forgot that you Miller had never stood in the sea before. I led you by the finger, I let go and then you fell in. You were soaked to the skin and so we all had to race back to the house and change you into the only clothes I could find, which weren’t many. When the work is finished to our house, I promise we will go up more, regardless of the weather. But this winter was not the one to spend by the sea.

I do have something worth sharing with you which is taking up a lot of my time but I want you to know how important it is. I touched upon it in my last letter and now there is a real plan. Some friends and I are organising a fund-raising event for Syria. We are raising money for the International Red Cross who are doing incredible work out there. This event is becoming a much bigger thing than I first imagined and to think it’s only 8 weeks away makes me nervous. We’re calling it Something for Syria. It needs to do justice to the cause and I just hope we can pull off something very special.

The picture with this letter is from The Economist and it shows Syrian children play next to a destroyed building in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus (January 9th 2017. Credit AFP/Abd Doumany.) I saw it on Instagram last night and at first, it made me think of you both and then, it made me even more determined to make the event a big success. It’s a good image to hold on to.

Barack Obama gave his farewell address last night, his last speech as President of the United States of America, and, regardless of politics, something he said was also worth holding on to. “Show up. Dive in. Persevere.” Useful to conjour up when a task seems impossible or hope is losing.




God Bless America

Dear Leo and Miller,

Donald Trump is president of the United States of America. You will discover in your own time how this is an incredible turn of events that only 12 months ago seemed an impossible joke. Like Brexit, there is very strong feeling surrounding the subject and people are angry. One of the things being said a lot is “What kind of a legacy are we leaving our children?” and I am going to be honest: I don’t know. It’s difficult to not have some kind of political point of view and I have fallen out with good friends over both Brexit and Donald Trump. You can only speak as you find and we are lucky enough to also speak as we wish: that is the beauty of living in a democracy. I don’t consider myself a political person – I don’t know enough and I don’t make it a priority to know more, which is a failing. I live in a bubble: a tiny bubble that won’t be directly effected in any huge heart-breaking ways by either of these historic events. So I look on in wonder (mixed with a bit of horror and a battling hope) at the millions of people whose lives will very probably be turned upside down. Will the world be a very different place by the time you both come of voting age? Almost definitely. Will your generation be the one that brings about the changes this generation so desperately wanted to? Again, I don’t know. All I can hope for is that through more information and more understanding, you become better equipped than me to speak freely and boldly about what you find.

Love Fa

PS. As always, when I want to make sense of something confusing or over-whelming, I look to well-written words for a smoother path. No-one has the answers but some are better than others at making us think clearer about the questions. The following are some things I have read – in articles, on forums, on blogs. It doesn’t even matter who wrote them or whose side they are on: they just have something to say and they say it well.

Unknown: “For well over a year, many people including myself who have been wary with Trump’s rhetoric have relied heavily on media to make sense of it all. But media did a great deal of disservice to public by shoving itself up so high into Hillary camp that they started mixing their bias with actual events, mostly by highlighting trump’s palaver and ignoring people’s sentiments. Media has voluntarily taken the role of going after trump, and promoting Hillary. But the majority of the country has spoken, and the outcome of Trump’s presidency is a smack on Media’s chosen position. Media is the sore loser now for betting on the losing side. People need to distance themselves from the self-serving and click mongering media, and support the president that the majority have chosen and act as one America, just like what we all did with past presidents.”

Emily Henderson, American stylist, author and TV host: “I consider myself a liberal because I strive to care about all people, equally, and I believe that left to our own devices, we are innately all selfish and will put our needs, our wants, our dollars in front of the greater good. It’s not that I don’t think that conservatives care about people, I know they do, my parents care more about people than anyone I know, but like another commenter said liberals value equality over freedom and conservatives value freedom over equality. Both are good, its just a matter of what you want to place in front of the other…” You can read the full blog post here:

Toni Morrison, American novelist and professor: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”