Like the New Theme?

I’m trying to think of a word that isn’t revamp or makeover; words which strike gloom into the boots of every reader; anyway, whatever you want to call it, this blog is having one.  We’ve got a different theme called Penscratch and I’ve renamed it Sarada Gray to reflect the changing emphasis since I no longer write about yoga.  Now, I don’t expect you to get excited about this since this blog is about content not packaging; and I promise above all not to subject you to any surveys.  Surely everyone must be sick of surveys?  Every time I go on a website or fill out a form I’m asked to rate my experience: I swear to God that when I die I expect St Peter to be up there holding out a clipboard and a pen.  Please rate your life experience under the following categories….  Yeah, yeah, I appreciate that people are just trying to do a good job (or look as if they are) but there must be better ways of doing it than the infernal tick-box.

But I digress.  Sarada Gray, in case you didn’t know, is my pen-name.  If you don’t know where the name comes from and can’t be bothered to click on the link above, it happened like this.  In 1992 I was on a yoga retreat in Avila, coldest place on earth, at a convent in the mountains above Madrid.  The convent was basically a set of corridors open to the elements and the heating came on for half an hour a day, between 3 and 3.30 pm when I was usually taking a nap.  We got up at some ungodly hour to do meditation and at the start of the whole shebang we were invited to choose a ‘nombre espiritual’ – a spiritual name by which we would be known on the retreat.  This name should embody qualities which we wished to develop in ourselves.

I think it was that which inspired me more than anything in yoga – if you want to achieve something you should act as if you’re already there.  So I asked myself, where do I want to be?  The answer was of course, to be a writer, so I searched lists of gods and goddesses for suitable names and came up with Sarada.  Aka Saraswati, she is the goddess of creativity and wisdom (good combination) and is usually shown playing a veena, something like a sitar:


Image removed on request

But believe it or not, it was years before I thought of using it as a pen-name.  For ages I played around with variations on my own name – Liza, Lisa, Beth… I knew I wanted to keep Gray but none of the variations seemed quite right; and then I had an epiphany.  Of course!  Use Sarada!  So there it is.  No-one else has a name like it; it has history and relevance and it sounds good.

So from now on this blog will be called Sarada Gray and soon it will have a new banner, courtesy of my talented son.

Now, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your experience of reading this post?

(Just kidding)

Kirk out

Insecure Writers Day

Oops, this wasn’t supposed to be published just like that – it was meant to be a reminder to me yesterday to link to the insecure writers’ blog.  Ah well.  Sadly I spent yesterday out of the house and today also; meeting Holly off the train and going to Fingerprints and then – and THEN! – making a Blue Peter pizza box.  A Blue Peter pizza box is basically a box you make yourself when your oven isn’t working so you go round to Peter’s house and make pizzas which you want to carry home without them getting blue with cold.*  I was very proud of these boxes and I shall keep them for future use.  I arrived home and rang the doorbell, announcing ‘Pizza delivery!’ when they answered.  Oh, how we laughed.  The boxes were actually very successful and the pizza stayed quite hot.

After which we had the kind of evening which doesn’t seem to exist any more: the four of us round the table eating and then playing Trivial Pursuit.  Unfortunately it was Dr Who Trivial Pursuit which includes such questions as ‘who was Magatheta’s mother who began the slaughter of the Trimbods on Metebeles III?’ to which the answer is of course ‘Tharg.’  Actually that sounds more Douglas Adams than Dr Who.  But then again he was a script editor and wrote several episodes of the series.  His pen name was David Agnew.

My pen name, as you all know, is Sarada Gray.  Lots of people have been asking me about this as I’ve been walking around holding the latest copy of Mslexia open at the page where my poem is proudly presented.  Sarada, in case you can’t be bothered to click the explanatory link above, is the name of a Hindu goddess, aka Saraswati, the goddess of creativity and wisdom.  A good combination, I think you’ll agree.

Bong! in other news, having sent my ‘Lady in the Van’ poem off to the London Review of Books, I have been informed that they are considering publishing it.

So that’s all good.

Kirk out

*see what I did there?

What the Who?

Some good news yesterday – my poem and short-short piece have finally appeared in What the Dickens? magazine.  I’ve had a leaf through and it looks quite good – some interesting articles, short stories and poems, though of course the highlight comes on pp 35 -36 (look for Sarada Gray, not Liz).  It’s free to read on-line though the print version will cost you.  And here it is:

And that was the high point in an otherwise rather dull day.  I made it down to Yesim’s for about an hour and then came home again: there were icicles hanging off the shop-fronts and the puddles were all frozen.

Yesterday Daniel tidied his room without being nagged (a minor miracle) while I watched ‘Coronation Street goes to Ancient Egypt’.  I think you can go a bit far with this ‘viewer-friendly stuff: I’m all for things being accessible but for this documentary on ordinary Egyptians they found a presenter who would not have been out of place in the Rover’s Return.  She really played up the accent and was rather bizarre-looking to boot.  Where do they find these people?  Or do they have a lab somewhere?

Take a look.  It’s quite an interesting programme once you get past the presenting style:

We now have 4 OD downstairs because Daniel’s reward for room-tidying was to bring his x-box down for a week.  So prepare for comments on channel 4 stuff.

Today will be busy-ish: a friendship group followed by Sainsbury’s order coming and then Drink and Think tonight.  Join us at the Ale Wagon for 8 pm where we will be discussing Political Correctness.

Has it gone mad?

Have I?

Kirk out


In a shock move today, which many are calling a “horrendous error of judgment” the BBC has rejected out of hand an important new play, The Flood, by Sarada Gray.  One source close to the author said “This is typical of the BBC’s current blinkered attitude”, whilst another deplored what they called “the relentless stream of dumbing-down and so-called reality shows which are today served up as entertainment, whilst true talent goes unrecognised”.  The BBC refused to comment on its judgment, saying they were unable to enter into discussion about individual works.

The author herself was today unavailable for comment, but is said to have been spending the weekend quietly in a small corner of her darkened room.