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Saturday 7 March 2009

How to transform an empty page in an action-packed year!

"Rescuing the moon", by Susie Mallett, 2002

Cheerio! Egészsegedré! Prost!

What happened to my blog? Did it become all the things that I predicted it could be when I began writing on March 7th 2008, just one year ago today?

Then I asked myself “Will it become an art gallery, a poetry book, a bike maintenance workshop, a conductive education forum or even my autobiography?”

It certainly became an art gallery. As I reported in February I have even had an order from a reader for a painting.

The piano has been drinking not me

That was the title of the picture that headed my first-ever posting. It is also one of the two paintings that I have sold in my thirty year career as a would-be artist. The other was a print of my grandmother as a child that I made while I was at art school.

“The piano has been drinking not me” was inspired by a favourite song with the same title, sung by Tom Waits.

In this picture I tried to create the seedy atmosphere of an American bar. With a piano player in the darkest corner disappearing into his own world, hardly visible so virtually ignored by the customers in this smoke-filled cavern.

I remember painting it as if it was yesterday. I had listened to the music over and over again, and “watched” intensely the video playing at the same time inside my head. I remember how when I at last began to put paint to canvas I had the image that I wanted finished in twenty minutes. Often I can take days to complete a painting that size (60cms x 40cms), but that day I didn’t even wait for the oil paint to dry to alter anything. I just painted on top, layer and layer of lovely rich colours, which helped to create the murky interior of the bar.

I enjoyed listening to the song, I enjoyed the process of painting and I loved the result. I was extremely sad to see this picture go, but parting with it was made easier by the fact that I liked its new owner. He has a lovely soul. He is the man who makes the shoes and splints for children and adults in my groups. He makes inner soles for the shoes of all the conductors and he makes his own shoes for running marathons.


This has featured occasionally too. I love reading poetry and knowing this my young niece used to send me samples of her own poems when I went off to live abroad for the first time. Here is one from around 1990 when she was just seven years old. She and her twin brother always called me “my Susie” especially when they told their teacher something about me and my travels.

“My Susie” lives in Hungary that’s why she’s very hungry.
She saw a hippopotamus and then she ate her sandwiches.

One of my other all time favourite poems is the Lady of Shalott, which is much too long to reproduce here but you can read it in full at

When I was studying art therapy at Birmingham Polytechnic I spent many tea breaks in the Birmingham Art Museum behind the Margaret Street Faculty of Art. It was here, while walking to the Victorian-style tearooms, that I preferred to the dingy underground café of the art school, that I would scrutinise the pre-Raphaelite paintings that were often on display. One of these was of the Lady of Shalott and it is from getting to know this painting that I developed my love of long, very wavy hair and of Tennyson’s poem.

Bike maintenance?

I really did think that I might get a posting or two in about cycling, but I seem to have neglected my lovely mountain bike since I started my life in the city. I haven’t ridden it for three months. Not because I am lazy but because since the end of December snow started to fall in Nürnberg, the temperature dropped below zero and it hasn’t been much different ever since. There were a few weeks when I was travelling to Norway and England when the grass appeared in its greenery for a short time but we still have snow in Bavaria and although on some days it feels like spring is in the air it will suddenly freeze again, becoming once more much too dangerous for me and the bike.

Perhaps I am getting soft in my old age but I prefer to put the blame for my bike’s lack of appearance from the cellar on an exceptionally cold, snowy winter.

So no bike blog yet, but perhaps when the weather improves, when the snow stops falling and the bike comes up out of the cellar to be cleaned, a bit of “Zen and the art of soul healing bike cleaning” will feature here.

Conductive Ed forum or autobiography?

Well yes, I suppose there has been quite a lot of conductive postings and of late a bit of dialogue taking place too. Not quite a forum yet but getting that way occasionally.

Slowly, slowly I am getting a following and slowly, slowly we begin to communicate.

Personally the conductive part of my blog is the most important. I am beginning to realise through the comments I receive what kind of an audience I now have. I hope to continue with postings that appeal to a readership of conductors, parents and carers, and users of conductive services.

I will however continue to include the “bits-in-between-for-conductors” but I promise I will try not to let these postings take over too often in the way they have sometimes had a tendency to do. On the other hand this tendency only goes to show that conductive upbringing/pedagogy and the likes are not all the do-all-and-end-all to a conductor’s life.

I will write the rest of my autobiography somewhere else, but of course I will be sure to advertise it on the blog when it is published!

Back to the beginning

Another song that I love is one I call “I have everything I need, I’m an artist I don’t look back”, although I have recently discovered this is not its real title. It is the line that begins “You take the dark out of the night time” that seems so appropriate and is a good description of how my blog has changed many things in my life. It really did take the dark out of the night time, it made my life brighter and put me in touch with the wider conductive world again after a long absence. Through my blog I discovered my love of writing and I began to draw and paint again.

The hibernation was over.

Things that a woman should have

My list of things that a woman needs started growing when I received the present of my blog. As I said above, it immediately began to shed the light into the darkness and expand many parts of my life. The list started expanding too!

In March 2008 I had on my list, and still have:

1 .a cordless drill
2. a black dress,
3. a nice job
4. a notebook
5. a camera
6. a claw hammer
7. a mountain bike
8. a full box of watercolour paints
9. a wonderful library of books
10. a few good friends

The bare necessities of life

By adding my blog to my list I now had eleven things that a woman should have, instead of ten. This made the list look like an unfinished list of twenty. Over the past year I have added more and more to the list, so now I have a finished list of twenty.

Receiving a blog seemed to make other things become necessities of life so the list got longer and longer.

The first-anniversary additions to the list are

11. a blog
12. my own flat
13. at least one pair of high heel shoes
14. a wonder bra.
15. a local cafe
16. long hair
17. a collection of “angels”
18. a voice
19. more confidence
20. some purple clothes, but no red hat!

I hope that by my blog’s second anniversary the list will be called “Thirty things a woman needs”

So to end, in the style of Mr Bean talking to his teddy Happy Birthday Blog”.

In my own still developing style “ Thank you very much for reading and making your voice heard too".

Please, please continue doing both.


When I started to write this post a couple of weeks ago I was going to dedicate it to Gill for always being there since my blog's early days with answers to my questions, with helpful suggestions and lots of encouragement. I do so even more gratefully now.

I am sorry that my blog's birthday has been saddened by recent events but Conductive Education has to survive through these hard times as it has others, and keep a cheery face despite everything. Don't forget the very important discussion going on under two of my previous blogs. Some very interesting positions are being openly stated there and your views on this will be very, very welcome. Please keep the conversations going.

1 comment:

Kasey Gray said...

Dear Susie,

Happy Birthday to your blog! Thanks for writing, and keep it up!