Category Archives: Random

An Imposter? How many times in your life have you felt like one?


I tend not to look back too much. Just the occasional nostalgia session with a friend when we reminisce about a holiday, a gig or party.

This afternoon I have found myself in a time warp. I’m taking part in an alumni Q&A tomorrow evening for an organisation called UNIQ. It organises summer schools for state school pupils who might find the idea of applying to Oxford daunting and / or out of their reach.

Nearly 30 years ago I was in that boat and nothing like UNIQ existed, so I’m happy to help out.

A politics teacher said I should have a go at applying for Oxford and my immediate reaction was ‘no way – definitely not bright enough, posh enough or rich enough.’

Despite feeling that way, I went for it and loved the whole process. Writing my notes today for my presentation tomorrow has reminded me of it all. What I intend to say to the 14 young men and women I’m meeting tomorrow is that I had a real fear of not fitting in. And for substantial chunks of time at Oxford I felt I didn’t – but it wasn’t a negative feeling. On the contrary I felt as if I had landed a starring role in my own movie. I was transported to a magical world that contained eccentrics, ancient buildings, fantastic minds and enriching friendships. Terms were short (just eight weeks), intense, and filled with escapades – drinking, acting, singing, debating.

The intensity brought with it anxiety (am I good enough? am I fun enough? am I anything enough?) but the good times will be with me forever and I am forever shaped by them. And it was, after all, a bit like a film, set against one of the most beautiful backdrops imaginable.

Academically, I am grateful for that part of my education. I put my mind through an intellectual pencil sharpener to emerge with a set of skills that I draw on constantly. I’m not a politician. I don’t earn a huge amount. On paper, I’m not the ‘success’ that might be expected of an Oxford student. But throughout my career I’ve used my ability to reason, argue, analyse and present time and again with huge success. The rigor of the tutorial system did that for me.

Writing my notes today I realised that I did absolutely fit in. Everyone did, that’s the point. The shy ones, the socialites, the socialists, the sporty ones, the aristocrats, the future politicians, the geeks, the true academics, the state school kids; we all had a place in the madhouse of Oxford, whether we could appreciate it at the time or not.

So, in a avalanche of nostalgia, thank you Oxford. You gave me three years I wouldn’t swap for all the money in the world!

By Carole Scott




Life as Bowie or Clooney? [Daily Prompt: trading places]

English: George Clooney, Cannes film festival
English: George Clooney, Cannes film festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The inspiration crew at WordPress asked ‘Have you ever wondered what it would be like to trade places with a member of the opposite sex for a day?’

I haven’t wondered what a whole day would be like but I have wondered what sex as a man is like. I’m curious to know what a male orgasm feels like. How different is it to mine? And what does it feel like to enter a woman? Is an erection better or just different to my feelings of lust as a woman?

Crude questions? Perhaps, but I’m willing to bet that most of us have thought them – or similar ones.

Outside sex, though, I wonder what would be so different? It would be interesting to feel the difference in physical strength. I go to a climbing wall every week and I’m not a great climber, largely because I don’t work on my strength in between sessions. To experience the upper body strength that most of the guys at the wall have would be amazing!

Physicality apart, surely the experience would come down to what type of man or which particular man? Men are as diverse as women, so there could be no generic ‘oh, so this is what it feels like’ aspect to trading places.

If I could choose who I’d be, I’d be George Clooney and find out if he really IS sexy in real life. Or maybe not because when I switched back, I might have to live with the disappointment of finding out he’s not. If I picked my nose as George Clooney, I’d live with that memory for the rest of my life.

Instead perhaps I’ll opt to be Noah Stewart for the day, spending my time singing with a rich, deep boom that is impossible to imagine as a high alto.

I could inhabit the body, mind and life of a man I detest, to try and understand what makes him take the decisions he does. If I were Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, I could understand his black heart. And I could call a true cease fire, step down and allow my country to move towards democracy.

Right now, I’d like to be David Bowie for a day. Then I’d know if and when he’s going on tour. After such a long break, would I be nervous? Excited? Thrilled that at 66 I still have a beautiful voice and a vein of creativity as deep as it was when I first started out? Best of all, I’d be able to sing ‘Where are we now?’ with the right voice, not my voice.

The choices are endless and it is fun to imagine them. It would be wonderful if we were able to get under the skin of another person for a day, to see life through their eyes. Imagine the empathy we would have for each other as a result.

By Carole Scott

Middle England at its worst

I’m on the train heading into London, on my way to an important client meeting. I make a point of only taking calls on trains when I really have to because quiet carriage or not (and I should add that this ISN’T the quiet carriage!) I think we all speak a bit louder than usual when taking calls on trains because the signal’s usually bad.

A few minutes ago I had to take an urgent call from a colleague, so I answered. The signal went down and I had to call my colleague back. All of a sudden a loud hiss of a ‘shhh’ comes my way from across the aisle and I quickly end the call.

I leant over to see who was chastising me so rudely. A woman with a real fur collar on her coat, reading the Telegraph and a ‘sucking lemons’ expression on her face. I said “there was no need to be so rude – it was a call that I had to take”. The sour expression remained and she didn’t even have the good grace to look at me.

This is middle England at its worst – reason 141 to emgrate! (Only joking Will!).

It's so tempting sometimes....
It’s so tempting sometimes….

NOT middle EnglandAh, Burmese people!

By Carole Scott

Photoshop: learning new things

I have been playing around and learning in Photoshop Elements today. There is a fantastic selection of useful tutorials online.

I liked this one, teaching how to take a double exposure

I had to have a go, so I took one of the Bagan Balloon ride pics and put me in it – it’s a pic taken when I did a tandem skydive. It has really made me smile and has given me lots of ideas for birthday cards for friends!

Skydiving over Bagan would be a dream come true!  © Carole Scott 2013
Skydiving over Bagan would be a dream come true! © Carole Scott 2013

By Carole Scott

Canine Austen: romance novel for dogs?

I was a grumpy old cow this morning, when I boarded the 6:11 a.m. train to London. I grouched my way into a seat and grumpily slapped on my slap while sipping strong coffee and reading the Indy.

You can probably tell I’m not my sweetest early in the morning. So when a large ‘country’ chap in a diamond-stitched jacket plonked down next to me, I was tempted to growl ‘get out of my space’.

It was this kind of jacket

Barbour know the type.

…but bigger and filled with a pink-cheeked man.

But I’m a nice, well-mannered person so I continued with the paper and the coffee. A quick glance at the book he had laid on the table changed my mood from growl to woof. ‘Gundog Sense and Sensibility‘ was the title that greeted me.

Being an Austen fan, the imagination gets to work.

‘In Stephen Wilson’s charming tale of two dogs Eliza, a black lab puppy, falls for the  dastardly but great-smelling Brutus, when he rescues her in the park from a surprise hailstorm. Unknown to her, loyal retriever Edgar is waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces when Brutus’ true character is revealed. Meanwhile, older sister Janty is pining for pedigree pointer, Henry, whose owners have forbidden him to be with her. Will Janty ever find her true mate?’

Okay, so it’s less Austen and more Mills & Boon but you can see where I was going at 6.20.  It cheered me up no end – maybe I’ll even write a short story on the theme at some point…yeah, maybe not.

Alas, I can see from the image on Amazon that although the book purports to be about the ‘inner nature’ of gundogs, it is really about getting them to fetch things. Good old Wilson Stephens, I wonder if he’s ever read any Jane Austen?

Gundogs - they're sensible, you know.

By Carole Scott

Thank god for pen and paper

I started writing a short story last weekend. I was in the sun on the Isle of Wight and started to scribble from an idea I’ve had buzzing my head for a couple of years.

Please note the verb ‘scribble’. Thank god I did. I had a note pad and pen, as I was on a walking break with no computer. I’ll put some pics up later, as I was in a beautiful garden attached to Northcourt House.

This morning, sitting in bed, I decided to type up the story so far, to see what it looked like and how it was going. 700 or so words, dark and funny but mainly dark, and I was feeling quite chuffed. My stomach rumbled and I looked at the time – midday! Time for brunch before going to visit friends for tea.

I was struggling to think of a name for the story and that blank in my mind prompted me to ‘don’t save’ instead of ‘save as’.

Thank god I started this story in a notebook. All I have wasted is 45 minutes typing and reading but it’s all there to be rescued later!

Lesson learnt? Save a document before you start filling it with creative writing. Who knows what mistakes your musings will cause!Image

By Carole Scott

Google Author Rank: kept me up late!

I have it on good authority that ensuring one’s Google Author Link is in a profile and post is absolutely vital. But boy, trying to get it in the right place isn’t straight forward unless you have a friend/colleague/wise person to tell you how!

For anyone who has followed complicated instructions on the Google badge page or on the WordPress forum, let me simplify life for you.

Go to the Text (or HTML) tab of your blog post or profile page. Just pop this coding in your profile and on each post, making sure you put in the long string of numbers from your very own Google+ profile where I have put UNIQUEGOOGLEPLUSID. To find the long string of numbers, just go to your Google+ profile page and copy the numbers at the end of the URL. Then put your name where I have YOURNAME – oh, and don’t forget, put your name in Title Case, otherwise it’ll look like you’re shouting!

Thanks to RainbowClaire for this!

By <a href=”“>YOUR NAME</a>

By Carole Scott