Monday 25 February 2008

Harriet Rose Uncut

I had planned a final Meditation for my collection, but because my Meditations were published without my knowledge, that final Meditation was left out. So I thought I would let you read it anyway, those of you who admire my work and wish for more. Because in a way, my book is dedicated to you, those of you who wish me well. The rest - just watch as my books sell!

'There's nothing more for me to say.
I've told my tale the Harriet way
With good and bad and old and young
And friendships that have just begun
But do not think that it's the end
Nor fear that you have lost a friend
For in the end is our beginning
And loss is nature's way of winning
Remember me, then, with a sigh
And say "Au revoir", but not "Goodbye" '

Friday 25 January 2008


From yesterday, I am in paperback in all good bookshops - The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose is now selling throughout the UK and in dozens of countries worldwide. Which in turn makes me ask myself the following question:

"What is it about my Meditations and the story of their success that makes them so popular?"

I do not pretend to be a philosopher of Kantian proportions, although it is true to say that the great man has had a huge influence on my thinking. Like my hero, Marcus Aurelius, I didn't set out to have my Meditations published - it never occurred to me when I wrote them that others would find them so interesting or that they would one day appear on London Underground posters. And as 'why' is extremely important to me, I need an answer to my question.

It was once suggested (by the father of one of my more envious classmates) that I was doing no more than repeating the theories of far greater philosophers and that as a fourteen year old I lacked the experience to do so. Now that I've had time to reflect on that accusation in the solitude of my bedroom, my response to this is as follows:

Many people study philosophy and some are then able to summarise and regurgitate it. But to be a true philosopher you need to be able to think for yourself rather than to depend upon someone else to do it for you. Like a good conversation, it's important to read and discuss what other philosophers have to say and to reflect on their views, but you need also to be adding your own views and, most important of all, to have the capacity to express the inquiring mind. I do not look to Kant or Descartes or Marcus Aurelius to tell me how to think or act or speak. I do not seek to apply their beliefs on a daily basis to my everyday life. The great philosophers are not counsellors or psychologists. They are people who are capable of intellectual inquiry. Experience of life is not necessary for that - an intelligent, reflective, creative, ordered mind is. So it matters not that I am only fourteen any more than it hindered Mozart that he began to compose at the age of four. It's all about natural inclination - not to repeat parrot-fashion, but to know how to use your brain, and to want to ask 'why' and 'how' rather than 'who' or 'when'. And that, I believe, is what makes my Meditations so popular.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

X Factor Final: Results

As the winner of television's The Face of London competition, I feel I speak with experience, and an element of authority, when I say "Rhydian - you were robbed! You sang with the voice of an angel and conducted yourself throughout with dignity. And that, after all, is what winning is all about. So do not despair. Listen to Harriet Rose who sometimes knows what she's talking about. Read her Meditation 35 from 'The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose and know that you are a true winner. Congratulations, Rhydian!"

Meditation 35

'I once lost a race when I'd won it.
It taught me that life's seldom fair.
I watched while they made losers winners,
Pretending that I didn't care.

I've tasted the beauty of winning.
I've savoured the joy of success.
I've relished the failure of rivals.
I've longed for perfection, no less.

But now when they make me a winner
I hesitate as they applaud.
For winning can sometimes be losing.
Perfection is often best flawed.

So tell me I've won, but with caution
Remind me of others who failed.
And we'll all wait for that final curtain
To teach us what winning entailed.'

Wednesday 5 December 2007

I was once asked why I wrote my Meditations. I answered that I wanted to make people think - about subjects they may not have considered before or that they had considered but not from the Harriet Rose perspective. So when I Googled The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose and discovered that people in faraway countries are quoting and recommending my Meditations and taking time to reflect on them ( , it made me want to cry with joy, and laugh too. Strange that a response can entail two such opposing sentiments - different and yet the same.

So, my message for today is to keep reading my Meditations, all you out there in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia, Holland and the many other discerning countries of the world. And thank you all for your part in spreading the word of Harriet Rose.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Now that I'm an established author whose meditations are even being quoted internationally, I decided yesterday to try my hand at short story writing. It was harder than I'd thought it would be. At school we're given essay titles which help to focus the mind. But when you can write about anything at all, it's much harder.

My first attempt was about a self-taught viloinist who turns down a marriage proposal because she doesn't respect the manner in which she is asked - over a Chicken Biryani in her flat with Question Time on in the background. When I'd finished it (and I knew I had because the proposal was finally acceptable) I read it over then put a line right the way through it. What else could I do? Of all the subjects in the world to write about, of all the views close to my heart I could have put across, of all the people I had met and admired, I had chosen to describe a self-taught violinist and a Chicken Biryani. And I don't even like Chicken Biryani. And I can't even play the violin. And I've never even had a marriage proposal.

So I tried again. This time, I was happier with the content. A successful and beautiful young woman (and already I felt this heroine was someone I could relate to) suddenly decides to have a flatmate, to the horror of her admiring Russian boyfriend - a violinist (my persistent obsession with the violin took even me by surprise). I liked the storyline because it had a twist - the flatmate is assumed throughout to be a young woman - she's full of life and strong-willed and attractive to men who are drawn to her vibrant, outspoken personality. It's not until the end that the reader discovers the flatmate is eighty-five. At least this time I had written about characters I admired. But I feared that some readers might feel that the heroine had made the wrong choice in turning down the opportunity to live with the Russian violinist in favour of her eighty-five year old Great Aunt. Personally, I thought she made exactly the right choice, but I had my readers to consider.

I didn't try again after that. Short stories, I decided, were not for Harriet Rose. I may be able to condense my thoughts into Meditations, but I cannot condense my characters - they have too much to say.

Monday 19 November 2007

When I'm asked if I have a boyfriend, I never know what to say. I find the whole concept of 'boyfriend' a curious one. A friend who is a boy? I have several of those. Yet when the two words are juxtaposed they seem to take on an entirely different meaning, like egg and cress sandwiches - each ingredient boring on its own but delicious once you put them together. Not that I consider a 'boyfriend' delicious. It's concepts I'm discussing rather than their implications. Philosophers will understand that, especially if they've ever mixed theirs with mayonnaise to bind the egg and cress together.

So what ingredient is it that similarly binds together a boy and a friend into that elusively indefinable concept 'boyfriend', used randomly to extend on occasion even to ageing lotharios who haven't been 'boys' for very many years? Wherein lies the mayonnaise of a 'boyfriend'? Not enough people reflect on such questions before answering them. And you should. Unless, of course, you don't care to answer questions truthfully, in which case you're not really someone worth talking to anyway.

Perhaps I'll find the answer when I have a boyfriend. Then again, perhaps I have one already and I don't know it. I'm referring, of course, to Jean Claude, a boy who's most certainly a friend, but, as Nana would say, a friend to who else? If asked, I think the safest solution might be to leave a small pause between the words 'boy' and 'friend' and then I shan't be saying anything untruthful. Like this:

"So, Harriet, is Jean Claude like your boyfriend then, or what?"

"Yes, Jason, Jean Claude is my boy" then the small pause, "friend."

That should do the trick.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Why can't someone invent a mirror that shows you what you look like the correct way round? Am I alone in not wanting to be reversed? Is Rabbie Burns the only other person to understand the importance of seeing yourself as others see you?

P.S. If such a mirror already exists, I apologise in advance and ask that the inventor be more ambitious in his or her sales campaign.

P.P.S. I could always lend you my own very successful sales representative - Nana - if necessary.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Those of you who have been with me from the start will recall that the title 'The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose' was taken from my Meditation 33 which I wrote on the day of my father's funeral. And now, less than two years later, those very words have been translated into several languages across the world. What I wrote in despair has become a reason for joy and celebration. My father would have liked that.

Friday 28 September 2007

Why is 'why' so important to me
And why not 'who', 'what', 'where' or 'when'?
Why can't I be like the others I see
Who don't seek the motives of men?

I've searched for the truth
Through all of my youth,
But the answer I still cannot find.
Should I ask 'why' no more,
Close my eyes, shut the door?
Not while reason lives on in my mind.

Wore my t-shirt with 'Why?' across the chest today, very slightly raised at the 'W' and the 'y', understated, with a quiet hint of greater things to come. Nana said it looked daft, that people would think I didn't understand anything, that there was no point in 'Why?' when no-one knew what the question was, that I'd be better off with 'Because' than 'Why?', that at least then people would think I had the answer. I fear that Nana will never make a philosopher

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Ode to the reviewer who described me in a broadsheet newspaper as beautiful, confident, clever, successful, much-loved and loving

There are some who brush against your life
With the gentle touch of an angel's wing
Never knowing how much joy
That touch can bring
Your paths may never cross
You will not know them
But in their hearts
They'll hear a young girl sing