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A woman dreamt one night the most vivid dream of her life, it was almost tangibly real – the sounds, the smells, the feelings, surely it had been real?

She dreamt that as she walked along the bank of the canal she saw a figure dressed in a  brown cloak. Whilst she didn’t recognise the cloaked figure, she did recognise the canal. It was the same canal as the one close to her home where she would walk on fine evenings.  As she got closer she recognised the figure was a monk, kneeling as if in prayer, his head bowed. The woman approached the monk and, as if compelled to do so, she spoke to him:  “you have the greatest treasure, please will you give it to me?’  The monk’s head started to rise ever so slowly, but before she could make out his face, and before he had uttered a word in reply, she awoke.

No! how could she wake up now, why did the dream end now?  It wasn’t the end of the dream, she hadn’t found out what the treasure was!  This was painful, the dream was so real surely it had a meaning for her?  But without knowing what the treasure was how would she understand its meaning. Maybe if she walked by the canal she would get some inspiration?

Walking along the canal path, the one thing that struck her, as it did on numerous occasions, was how calm it was. The gentle breeze was enough to make the water sing as it lapped against the canal wall. Ahead on the side of the path she saw….yes it was the brown cloak, it was the monk, this was the dream but in reality!

Without any hesitation she rushed to the monk and in an excited voice uttered ‘ You have the greatest treasure, please give it to me!’ The covered head of the monk started to rise and at the same time and at the same rate his clenched hand moved towards the woman. “Ah,” he said,  “you mean this.’  As he spoke  his fist slowly unclenched, ‘I found it at the side of the path there.’ Looking into the woman’s eyes, a slight smile appeared on the face of the monk. “‘Yes this is what you want.”  The woman looked at the outstretched palm in front of her. There in the middle of the monk’s hand was a huge, sparkling diamond. A gasp escaped her lips, “I can have it?” she asked.  “Yes,”  the monk replied, “of course.”

The woman took the rock from the monk’s hand and, completely overwhelmed with the event that had just unfolded, left the monk without thanking him. She would have done, of course she would have done, but now the dream had become reality, this was too much!  She could hardly breathe, let alone say thank you.

She started for home, thinking of all the things that this diamond would bring her, of the security she now had:  bills paid, presents bought, a makeover, a new car!  So much to spend and so little time. This was indeed the greatest treasure.

But suddenly she stopped and thought. For five minutes she stood deep in thought, staring at her hand, still holding the diamond.

She returned towards the monk. The smile on her face disappeared and tears started streaming down her face. When she reached him and without taking her eyes off him,  she hurled the diamond into the canal.  It landed in the centre of the water, the deepest gloomiest part, never to be seen again.

Just as the sound of the splash disappeared, she turned slowly to the monk, the tears still running down her cheeks. As her benefactor returned her stare, with an air of purpose she said:

” Now give me the greatest treasure.  Give me the treasure that you have, the one that made it so easy for you to give up that diamond.”

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Work has been hectic!

Nine months ago I was being taken through a hideous process called redundancy, and at the very last redundancy consultation meeting I was asked to stay on for a period of two maybe three months…well to cut a long story short (very very rare for me) I’m still there and have been given a new contract.

 Since that most awful of times (very Dickens-like), we have just got busier and busier. I often wonder what would have happened if I had gone, who would be doing what I do now? ….Yup, anybody!! I have never ventured asking the Operations Director the same question for fear of his reply, I think knowing him as I do, it would come out something like,

 ‘Well lets find out shall we?’

I digress, its been hectic, it seems every moment of the day is taken up with work, until last Saturday.

Saturday was one of those days when you look back and a big grin spreads across your face….well it did mine anyway.

You see Saturday, was about spending time with an old friend; can I just stipulate at this juncture, old as in the length of time  I have known her not that she is a friend and is advancing in years, we coffeed several times, chatted, walked, did a bit of work, not half as much as was planned, but nevertheless work was part of the agenda.

I then went to see one of the loves of my life. We have had a somewhat love hate relationship over the years, but when you support a football (soccer for my American readers) team, you will have a slightly tortuous affair. We WON, OHHHH that sounds good, we did indeed win. Not only did we win my friends, we won in style. The mighty Swansea City beat some other team you will never have heard of 4-0!!

I was ecstatic and thrice ecstatic! Never has so much  ecstaticness been witnessed before from seat 104 D in the West stand. I was so delirious I could have kissed the person sat next to me. Had it not been for the fact that he was eating a cold steak pie, with half the contents neatly balancing on his chin, as if he was saving it for a more meagre period of his life, I would have, and he would have flipping well enjoyed it……. but probably not as much as a steak pie, by the looks!

Not only did the Swans win, but sitting in the aisle across from me was my nephew, who had called me about 45 minutes before the match to say he had been let off work early and was coming to the match. Now I adore my nephew. In the week of his 21st birthday i was to spend an afternoon with him. The pleasure of his company was only marred by driving to his new ‘pad’ which is reached by a…..well I can’t call it a road or a track really, some suspension busting, tyre wrecking, bone rattling driveway that would have had less and shallower potholes if they had dropped a ten ton bomb on it. How we laughed…..well he did anyway! I was wracking my brains trying to remember if fully comprehensive car insurance covered retrieving half your car from a ditch infested track…..but i’ve already said I can’t call it a track, but you get the picture.

Van Morrison, as im prone to quote, sang ‘Didn’t I come to bring you a sense of wonder’ and the people, the place, the event that I was so ensconced in on Saturday all brought me a sense of wonder.

To have people, places and experiences that leave you smiling, to know what it is to be BLESSED is truly wonderful.

So im still smiling and this week has just got better and better, and it’s because I’m surrounded by people and nice people, or maybe, just maybe I appreciate more than I used to?

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Having viewed the results from your poll casting, all I can say is ‘Gee thanks!’ That was so decisive!!!

Nevertheless you have spoken and I will actually take no notice of what you have plumbed for and will sojourn forward with a mixture of both, its my blog and I can do what I want.

I am taking a leaf out of our recent general election here in the UK and give you more or less the complete opposite of what you wanted.

44% want to just read it

33% don’t have an opinion either way

22% would rather listen to my blog

I’m still left wondering…..whats happened to the other 1%???

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It’s incredible to think that it was 5 years ago that such terror and horror arrived in the heart of London. Had it been a year earlier, it wouldn’t have affected me so much.

 London was a city that didn’t really hold much for me, i’d visited a few times, worked there for 9 months and detested it with a passion. Having grown up on the coast, this was way way out of my comfort zone and I remember feeling at the time of working and living there so alone, and longing for the weekends when I would come back to windswept beaches and quiet! That’s what it was that hit me the most, how noiseless Weston was compared to the bustling streets and the emergency service sirens that would scream ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY’ as they negotiated their way down busy roads; although to me initially they would not be telling me to stay clear, more of a ‘bad people up to bad things’ kind of warning. They filled me with fear for a while, like anything with a bit of familiarity you tended not to notice them after a while. Van Morrison wrote ‘Can you feel the silence…’ and yes you can! Of course being a carrot cruncher from the West and staying in the Capital, you can most definitely feel the silence and the extremes of these two so different of places.

The year of 2005 was so much different. I had a fabulous job, I couldn’t wait to get back to London if I came home for the weekend. I used to drive past the Houses of Parliament on my way to the office and every single time I would have a broad grin on my face. It was another world, I was older so appreciated it more. I was paid well so could ensconce myself in the culture. I had a better understanding of art, so the Tate Modern, National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery were new and exciting places to lose myself in. The Photographers Gallery just outside Covent Garden was a place I would visit and revisit every time the exhibition changed. These places were not just to view but they had become thought-provoking, they were now ‘wow’ moments. I remember having conversations with my good friend Ian and looking at him incredulously as he would extol the virtues of Tracey Emin and Banksy, he would laugh at my glazed blank expression and my constant utterings of ‘WHATEVER!’, but this was different, I kind of got it now.

The architecture around the Royal Exchange I would be bowled over by, the old bank buildings, Leadenhall Market, the Gherkin, the new Lloyds building, the Pru building in Holborn with its red brick turrets, absolutely breathtaking.

Dinner in Spittafields market, Wong Keis in China Town, Giraffe on the Embankment, Cafe Nero outside Liverpool St station, these were all synonymous with my busy but wonderful time of three years working and living in London.

You see the picture im trying to portray is that I had come to love the City, we had become good friends, I missed it when I was away, I had started to have memories of great times. There were places that had become more than a coffee shop or a good eatery, but that’s where I had had a conversation with a particular person, who more often than not, I didn’t know when I went in through the doors to order my extra shot extra hot latte, but due to my ‘i’ll talk to anyone’ policy, had left thinking I’d made a new friend.

That is partly why, it was so sad when 07/07 happened, it was now my London, it was a massive part of me, I felt protective towards it, I took it personally. The people who suffered such horrible injuries, the people who so sadly lost their lives the families that everyday from this day onwards would mourn, I felt so close to, they were part of my extended family. I think you have to have spent some time there to really feel it.

On the 06/07 I was driving back from a meeting in Birmingham and as I trundled along in the middle lane of the M25 late in the afternoon , a lorry pulled out and literally took the side off my car. The garage we leased our cars from was in Tunbridge Wells and for some unearthly reason they were insistent that I should go and pick a new car up from their garage. On reflection, what an appalling, ridiculous customer care policy. Here was our company leasing a dozen or so cars from them, and I had to go to them? When should I pick it up? How about the next day, yes that suited me fine, I would go to Tunbridge Wells, I guess about 40 miles outside London ready to get the new car first thing on Thursday the 7th of the 7th 2005.

Would I have been on the underground at the time? I don’t know. My work pattern was that I would get to my office for 6-6:30 work for a few hours and about 8:30 when the office started to get busy, would go and do store visits for a few hours. Sometimes I took the Tube other times I would walk.

I doubt I would have been on any of the Tube lines the bombs went off, but I would have been caught up in the fear of it all.

 I remember listening to BBC 5Live  and hearing a trickle of phone calls going live on air about bangs being heard in the heart of the City. I remember the dread of having report upon report being quantified, verified, confirmed by listener after listener.

It was horrendous. I couldn’t ring into the office, mobile phones didn’t work, you couldn’t get a signal. I couldn’t find out if my colleagues were safe or to let anyone know that I was safe. All I could do was sit in the resulting traffic jam for what seemed like hours and listen to the radio, and get sadder and sadder as the reports grew more vivid of the carnage affecting so many and created by a few.

Today 5 years on, there will be individuals, companies, families, complete strangers who will be remembering and mourning the death of someone they knew, someone they happened to come across, someone they worked with, someone they married, someone they gave birth too, someone they loved a little, someone they loved a lot…..

….and we would do well to remember them also.

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