64 Million Lamp-posts

I woke up this morning, opened my blind and wished the lamp-post a Happy New Year!

Chatting to the lamp-post has been a part of my daily routine ever since I moved into the castle, almost ten years ago. I have no idea why my tics settled on the lamp-post as the recipient of so much attention but our surreal conversations have given me a lot of joy. It’s also been my muse, featuring in several short plays including this piece which we recorded for Pandemic Postcards in August.

The lamp-post isn’t the only object of my attention over the years. Leftwing Idiot’s geranium and an unusually bright ‘cartoon star’, also became the regular focus for my tics. It was these surreal conversations that helped me realise that my tics draw attention to details in my surroundings that I might otherwise miss, I came to appreciate and value the perspective that having Tourettes gives me.

Taking a creative approach to life with Tourettes has helped me navigate some big challenges, including my reduced mobility and increasing pain. Sharing the spontaneous creativity of my tics with other people forms the basis of my mission. And finding new ways to incorporate creativity into my life has improved my wellbeing and led to opportunities I could never have imagined. It’s these experiences that meant that I jumped at the chance to work with 64 Million Artists on their January Challenge.

The Challenge shares creative prompts every day in January to get the New Year off to an exciting and fresh start. The challenges don’t require any specialist equipment, but are a starting point for exploring new ways of making, creating or thinking. If this sounds interesting, it’s not too late to sign up and get involved!

This year I’m one of three artists who’ve each curated a set of challenges. Lemn Sissay, Yomi Adegoke and I each chose 30 challenges from suggestions made by people from all over the UK and beyond. Each of us also came up with a challenge of our own to kick things off.

The challenge I set – inspired by chatting to the lamp-post – is to have a conversation with a familiar object in your area. What will you say to it? What will it say back? Capture your conversation in writing or a doodle.

This is the first of a set of challenges that I hope will be fun, playful, and spark your imagination. I can’t wait to see what everyone creates, and to learn more about the challenges Yomi and Lemn choose, too.

January can be a difficult time for many and this year the pandemic’s making everything even harder for everyone. But it’s also a time of new beginnings – in fact it was on New Year’s Day 2010 that I first started writing this blog.

Of course, there are lots of things that won’t change just because the clocks have struck midnight, and like me, many people will still be shielding in order to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Finding ways to connect with others and with my own creativity is something I’m going to work on throughout 2021 and the January Challenge is a great way to start.

Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances (and regardless of whether you’re a lamp-post or not), I wish you a very happy New Year!

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