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

Is This a Piece of Your Brain?

I’m just reblogging this for Mark because it came up in conversation: also because we’ve been watching ‘Fawlty Towers’ yet again and marvelling…

Sarada Gray

No, I haven’t gone all ‘Basil Fawlty’ on you

– I was just thinking this morning, at some point between 5 and 6 am (groan!) about how the mind compartmentalises things.  To whit: yesterday I washed an old eiderdown for which we have no daily use though it comes in handy for chair covers etc – and I was wondering where to put it as we have no space.  I settled for folding it and sticking it on top of an already-teetering pile on the wardrobe.  Then in the night I had the usual thought about needing to put another cover on the mattress as it has got into the bad habit of poking me in the ribs at night rather like a bad marriage (ho ho).  Then at approximately 5.15 I had one of those ‘Duh!’ moments when you realise that two narratives which have been going on…

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Snappy title not found…

I can no longer think of snappy titles for these posts.

Thunk!  That’s the sound of a thought I had yesterday,  which was this.  During the course of my whole ***** trip, my psychotic nightmares which lasted three months, I did not have a period.  so all of this coincided with the menopause getting into its stride.  I am not prepared to see the whole thing purely in terms of hormones (though to do so is not by any means to dismiss it) – but it is clear that there was a connection there.  Germaine Greer thinks that after the menopause is when a woman comes into her own, finds her own wisdom.  I think she’s right

Mantras yesterday: Om Aim Saraswatiai Namah.  This is the mantra of Saraswati, aka Sarada, goddess of wisdom, creativity and all that flows (there is a river in India called the Saraswati).  This felt great – like I was really coming into my own.

This whole ***** trip was a somewhat bruising encounter with the masculine.  Now I shall, as the Tao says, know the masculine but keep to the feminine.

What else was I thinking?  Yes, that when I publish a book of poems I want to write introductions to at least some of them, because it will be like having an audience, connecting with the reader.

I am going to keep occupied at the weekend because according to the zenith of my psychotic nightmare, that was to have been the time I was on stage with *****.

Future thoughts

At the chalet yesterday, thinking about this idea of living in community that always resurfaces.  I want to be part of some community where we grow some food (without being exhaustively and exhaustingly self-sufficient!) where children can run free and be a part of everything, where we live communally but also have some family and individual space, where we have some kind of shared values but no dogma, where Mark can do herbalism and I can do yoga.

The problem will be time for writing.  I am not a natural leader, though I have taken up that position by default when I think there are things that should happen and no-one else is doing them.  (for example, when I set up a CND group in Hounslow, or organised the collection of milk-bottle tops at junior school.  Apathy in others is not something I find easy to deal with.  I am very impatient with it but I’m not a natural galvaniser of others.)  But I’m not comfortable with being a leader: I’m a natural democrat who thinks that everyone should make decisions and work together.  Power dynamics ie people taking power in this situation, drive me crazy .  It seems to me so juvenile and pointless.  I have never understood the desire for that kind of power.  I just don’t see what people get out of it.  I used to enjoy the novels of CP Snow (another Leicester writer) for their dissection of power, though at the end of it I still didn’t understand the urge.

Incidentally, did you know it is to him that we owe the phrase “Corridors of Power?”  I bet you didn’t.  One of his novels, set in Westminster and about his time as minister in the Wilson government, is called that.  He is now completely forgotten, and it’s not fair.  His novels may be out of date but he should be remembered, at least in Leicester.

Rant over.  So the main problems about this community idea (apart from the tiny one of finding a house and land!) are the dynamics of power, and finding time to write.  I must have time to write.

It is hard when one has so many aspects to one’s being, to realise them all.  They seem to compete.  This I suppose is part of being a Gemini.

If you live in the East Midlands (or are willing to travel) and are interested in the idea of living in community – or if you have set up a community similar to this, send me your thoughts.

Ladimir and Oestrogen No 2

–  So, Sarada.  What’s that all about, then?

–  It’s my pen name

–  I know.  Where did it come from?  D’ya make it up?

–  No.  It’s another name for Saraswati

–  Sa-what-rati?

–  Saraswati.  She’s a Hindu goddess

–  Ah.  One in the Hindu pantechnicon

–  Pentheon, you twerp!

–  No:  pantechnicon.  Why?  Because the Hindu gods and goddesses have been exported wholesale.

–  Oh, very clever.  But they probably should hav used a jagganath – or, as we call it, a juggernaut.  Don’t you think?

–  Ha, ha.  So we’re even now, are we?

–  Spose so

–  Darling?

–  Mm?

–  Mi caro?

–  Spose so.