Archives For Shirley Anstis

It’s Saturday 14 June and my husband is looking after our son. I am meeting up with a longstanding friend and very much looking forward to it. It’s one of the highlights of the summer where we do something arty, eat some nice food and share about our lives. We are professional women who are wives and mothers too. We were born in the same year and married one day apart.

This year we’re attending the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. Last year we saw The Amen Corner at The National Theatre, South Bank with Marianne Jean-Baptiste and a few years ago it was the Anish Kapoor exhibition. With her art and my therapy training we enjoy interpreting what is presented: the creative skills, the subject choice, what we imagine the artist is trying to say and how it makes us feel. It’s great to keep adding layers and affect each other’s perspective and be moved by our experience. We catch up too on being mums, about keeping boundaries, modeling how to be and our developing children.

We share our challenges and receive a fresh viewpoint from the other. Eventually after 2 hours in the exhibition and a 2- hour lunch we make our way down Piccadilly towards the tube. As promising writers – I have authored two books and she is completing a book on healing – we stop at Waterstones to browse.

Soon after leaving the shop a familiar looking tall black man walks past rather quickly. He is wearing glasses, a hat, headphones, shorts, trainers-type footwear and a Pharrell-style cardigan. Could this really be Samuel L Jackson of the Hollywood movies? I check it out with her but she does not know. Encouraged by her I speed up to find out. Just then another black man and I notice that we are both trying to follow the tall man. He confirms excitedly to me that it is Samuel. My friend is falling behind and encouraging me to continue whilst Samuel is going further away. I hesitate as am not sure if I should continue to follow him and for what purpose. I am not an agent, I don’t have a script and he probably won’t want to be interviewed for my local magazine. What will I say? “I’ve seen a few of your films.” These thoughts rush by.

We arrive at Piccadilly tube and my friend and I hug goodbye whilst Samuel dives into Lillywhites. This is not how our meet-ups usually end but there is a distracting moving target. Despite all the deep conversation I turn out to be as fickle as the next person. She leaves for her long train journey back to her family. I consider doing the same but find myself in the shop trying to make eye contact with Mr. Jackson.

He seems to look both through and around me with a determined focused expression on his face. I feel that if I get any closer he’ll have me in some martial arts brace and see it as self-defence. I am disappointed with the outcome and a little bit “how dare you ignore me”. I know I am a good person but I am not sure why I am trying to get his attention. What’s the point of a little star-dust, if that is what I seek?

Of course I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me. There are lots of people on the street watching the street dancers and performers. Why is he the only person I want to meet? If I were him I might easily do the same thing – dress ordinarily and try to walkabout like a regular person. The alternative is to have an entourage, be on show and feel unable to walk about freely.

He owes me nothing. If I pay to see his movie then I have the pleasure of seeing the movie. That’s the end of the contract. And yet still I stand outside the shop trying to decide whether to wait for a while or return home to my family and be with the people who are part of my real life.

Ten minutes later he comes out and I try to get a picture with my phone. In a flash I could see the back of his head as he walks away from me. I decide that this is the end of any encounter. It’s time to forget this and return to being present to my environment: a lovely Saturday in the summer filled with friendship, art, good food, books and now street performers and people from all over the world. I enjoy a leisurely walk to Trafalgar Square arriving near the end of a free Christian concert then getting on a train to begin the journey home. A
pleasant and eventful Saturday in London.

Orbit and Olympic stadium

I remember being excited as the LONDON 2012 games approached but I wasn’t exactly sure why that was.  Could I sense the impending flow of competitiveness, national pride, personal stories of triumph and family sacrifices?  Or was I simply fed up with the negativity of naysayers and wanted to support the hardworking people trying to organise a global event?

Whether you were supporting a sport, a national team, or none in particular, you could not help but be moved by the Olympians and Paralympians.  We have seen so many people demonstrate what hard work, good coaching, focus and commitment can do.  We have become so cynical that it took a while to engage our attention.

There is so much to admire.    They encourage us to take time to explore our talents, work to get better at what we’re good at, see competition as a way to bring out the best in us, collaborate with others when we can for a team performance, set goals and work towards these, share the struggle, accept our individuality, try to overcome adversity and keep an eye on the rest of the world to give us perspective.  A wonderful reminder of what our fellow human beings are capable of.  This could help to motivate us to keep going through our own challenges and disappointments.  Many participants vowed to perform better in London than they did in Beijing and others are planning to improve for Rio; we have our own performance timelines to work towards.   We don’t need to do their best, just ours.

At the Paralympics wheelchair basketball final

I was lucky enough to get tickets for both Olympic and Paralympic events and able to absorb the atmosphere first hand. It is simply incredible to see people performing at their best and being part of the elite group in their field.  When else do we get the best in the world and have them compete to find the best of the best?

And it’s been great experiencing that community feel with people talking and laughing with strangers, smiling staff offering high 5’’s and people offering to take pictures for others.  And I even saw someone offering free hugs at a few events.

I am really pleased that Team GB performed brilliantly and Team Grenada won its first gold medal! I am left with a good feeling and a plan to get fitter and focus my energies better.  How did you feel before the games came, once they started, and now that they are over?