Wednesday, 10 December 2014


I need to listen to the rice grow but all I can hear is the never-ending lists in my head. Renew your driving license. Buy my father-in-law a gift. Make panforte. And chutney. Wrap the presents, probably better to buy them first. Order a turkey, poor bugger. A needs some sparkly shoes apparently. They haven't written to Father Christmas yet, not sure if they are doing their advent calender in order. My head hurts, my teeth hurt, my cheeks hurt, the sinus is screaming so I wouldn't be able to hear the rice grow even if I was there.

The phrase comes from how the people of three Asian countries define their characteristics, possibly how the French defined them in colonial times. It is said that the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch the rice grow and the Lao listen to the rice grow - such as is the pace of life in Laos. I liked it a lot, Laos, we arrived in Luang Prabang with little A fluttering in my tummy, all but 18 weeks developed. I feared not the exotic food and traditions on my unborn baby, but embraced the serene pace of life before the chaos (I had been told) ensued, once she was born. I sipped at the strange drinks, ate the fried seaweed strips topped with chilli and sesame, wandered around temples in the rain and watched geckos underneath whirring fans of times past. We slowed to a pace so hard to find amongst our own lives.

But this Christmas I will take time to listen to the children giggle, listen to Fletch grinding and crunching through his hay, I will listen to their carols - and not let my mind wander - and to the glug of the red wine from the decanter. I will hear the cats delicately paw my duvet, I will appreciate the silence of dawn and I will listen to peoples needs. This Christmas I will listen to the rice grow, Sussex style.

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