I’m Back. And Better than ever (as they say).

Squatting Toad is back! ‘And why have you been away, Mel?’you cry.

Several reasons I’ve been quiet but I have to confess to a crisis of confidence in my project. Who wants to  read about my thoughts, especially on creativity, when so much utter c**p and devestation is being wrought on the world right now? Believe me, that’s not a cry for validation from the blogosphere. I’m just telling you what’s going through my mind for I know that even five minutes spent watching any news channel must make any right-thinking person ask ‘Why? What’s the point?’ about so many aspects of life.

When I think about what’s important to me, one thing stands out – humanity. I want to be treated with humanity, and dignity, and I want to strive to treat others the same. I also want to follow this small dream to create my podcast and introduce talented people to the world. That doesn’t make me Nelson Mandela but it will make me feel I have done some small good for a small community and hopefully for myself.

Whilst in my, thankfully, non-permanent funk, I kept thinking that maybe the arts don’t matter at all, maybe the point is just to get by. But without artistic endeavours what are we?

I am lucky enough to have spent two weeks recently travelling through Namibia. For the first and, hopefully, last time on this blog, I’m going to use the word awesome. Just, truly awesome. One day we walked with cheetahs, in the company of Stefan, our guide. And for those couple of hours, I wanted to be Stefan. Imagine, every day, driving across the African bush, seeing wildlife of great beauty and magnificence and, most importantly, giving other people, like me, the chance to see it too. Added to which, he’s involved in helping to preserve the cheetahs so that future generations may also witness them. What a job! What a life!

SAM_0029There’s a cheetah in there, just look closely.

For all I know, the organisation he works for might be ridden with politics and backbiting and he might yearn for the city and a comfy 9-5. But I don’t believe that we always want exactly that which we haven’t got. So, good luck, Stefan, long may you continue to be the bringer of once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the likes of me, even if they are daily happenings for you.

So, what has all this to do with artistic endeavours? Well, the principle’s the same. You do what you do because you love it, and because it might bring something positive into someone else’s life as well as your own. And, if you can get paid to do it, that’s even nicer, but the important thing is to do it. My hubby, let’s call him Mr Toad, often sits in front of the telly saying ‘ I could have written that’. But the point is, he didn’t. Someone with maybe more hunger did write it and is reaping the rewards, both psychological and financial.

So, now, as I write, Mr Toad, is upstairs teaching himself the chords for McArthur Park on his guitar. And if he cracks that, what next? Well, he and the band (of which, more another post) are planning to launch themselves on the gig circuit in London and Oxford. I fear he may still have to be a solicitor in the meantime, but that shouldn’t diminish the joy of playing. It might yet enhance it. He gets a buzz and the audience will go away happy, at least, assuming they like musical oddities like McArthur Park. It may not be walking with cheetahs with Stefan, but it’s important for all concerned.

The last gig I went to was a couple of weekends ago, and I came away uplifted, but that’s jazz for you. (World’s finest jazz singer, Dianne Reeves, in case you were wondering  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6G7K1nIPxE. )

So, let’s be uplifted. If work is getting us down, we need to have a full life outside of it, at least until we have a new plan. Let’s talk about our plans next time, but, for now, let me leave you with these thoughts, which are churning around in my own head at the moment:

1) It’s got to be about more than the money.

2) It’s nice to be an expert at something. What might that be?

3) Make sure you can say you treated everyone well.

4) Feel the fear, and do it anyway. (Not my own words, but oh so relevant.)

Until next time.




Author: squattingtoad

Mel is a comedy writer and performer, with a particular interest in creativity and a cynical interest in the workplace and how its idiosyncrasies (nicest word she could find) can drive us all mad.

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