All posts by ann.clifford


Why do we forget to play?

Life can get so hectic, so commitment and work driven, that we stop playing.   When we stop we try and zone out. We watch the TV or computer or do social media but this isn’t the same as playing.

We need downtime with our partner, friends, pets, children, work colleagues.  In playing together we connect and communicate in a different way and it can be hugely enjoyable provided it doesn’t get too competitive.   Play is not being idle, it is nothing to feel guilty about.  Rather it is to be embraced as part of our lives.

I enjoy playing with my grandson.  He is seven months old and I bought us a soft ball to play with.  He loves it. He has learnt to reach out for it, hold it, shove it away from him towards me, make it fall on the floor out of sight.  Oh the joy on his face when I magically make it reappear and gently throw it towards him.  He can play this game for ages.  It is a wonderful way for the two of us to connect.  We don’t have words, noises yes, he can’t do much on his own yet, but this way we connect and relationship is built.  When he comes to our house, he relaxes and gives a huge grin of delight when the ball is held out to him.  Delightful.

I think I am playing with him in order to teach him.  In reality he teaches me.  He gives me so much.

  1. He is stress relieving – I think about nothing else other than the sheer enjoyment of connecting.
  2. I know it stimulates his mind and gives him ideas, but it does the same for me. I find it profound and energising.
  3. It definitely improves my relationship with him. We laugh and smile at each other. We converse through play.  Sometimes he is so excited he just has to scream.  I love to feel excitement like that, I used to.  I would like to again. He’s teaching me.
  4. It improves social skills because there is a rule. Once you have the ball you have to give it back.  Okay maybe not immediately, but you do have to let it go.  We share it.  I don’t shove as much of it in my mouth as he tries to, but eventually he makes himself let it go and kick it away.
  5. So we have to co-operate with each other. Heard that one before?  How lovely if we could all learn that we are on the same side, working together, to make where we are better for all.

If I feel sad for any reason I can’t stay sad. His smiling face, his abject delight, melt into me and soon my spirit is cheered.   All those endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals start rolling around in me. 


Playing is important for all these reasons and more.  Doesn’t matter how young or how old, it is still delightful to connect with another human being in some sort of game.   Get out the board games, retrieve the balls in the cupboard, shuffle those cards, and play.


Speaking dates for Time to Live

I list below the times I will be speaking on the content of my book Time to Live: The Beginner’s Guide to Saying Goodbye.  Do join me as most venues will welcome visitors.  

October                22                          Engage, Church Halls, Church Road, Leatherhead KT22 8BD                                                                  at 4pm

                                29                           Refresh Centre, 129 Walton Road, East Molesey at 10.30am


                               5                              All Saints Church, Elm Grove Road, London W5 3JH                              

                             18                             Bethany Tamil Church, Greenacres Woodland Burial, Potkiln                                                                 Lane,  Jordans, Beaconsfield, Bucks HP9 2XB  11am

                             24                           St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Road, Ealing W5 5RH at  10.30am

January 2018

                                23                           Moorlands Bible College – Chapel plus lecture (no visitors)

                                31                           New Life, Miracle House, 2A Silva Island Way, Wickford                                                                            SS12 9NR  (check address several venues)  01268 916080

February               1                           Quaich Cafe, East Horsley – all welcome 7.30pm

March                    7                            Churches Together Loughborough (Ness Wilson)

                               20                          London School of Theology (no visitors)

April                       4                           Spring Harvest Skegness – afternoon seminar

                               21                         Capital Vision 2020 workshop: Willesden Area Training & Dev                                                               Venue: Holy Trinity Church, Suez Avenue, Perivale, Middx                                                                       UB6 8LN       Time:  10am – 1pm       All welcome

October                9                            Ealing Deanery Chapter – Midday – 2pm

The Waterstones Book Launch


The launch of Time to Live was a great evening. The support from friends, family, colleagues, random ‘Ealingites’ was superb and yes we actually sold out.  Waterstones will be restocking in Ealing.  Their support has been much appreciated.  

We had the launch in Crispin’s Bar in Ealing run by the wonderful Polka.   It would have been easy for this to be a dour event, something I really did not want.  There were other people in the bar that evening but as we numbered 60+ persons we were a significant gathering. A problem occurred.  The only way to the toilet was through the centre of our group.  One indomitable gentleman launched himself into a moment of silence.  The MC for the evening, Steve, could not resist capitalising on his long ‘walk to wee’.  However, he had the last laugh as when he re-presented himself ready to take his place back at the bar, he said “I’m not dead yet!” and continued through to resounding applause.  He was a gift. No idea who he was, but we laughed.

In fact several people who had simply come in for a drink found themselves caught up in the moment.  At the end three of them came and bought a book.  I was touched.

I will give one more clip.  In it I read from near the beginning of the book.

It begins like this as the recording begins after I have started. 

“So what if…?

  • What if dying carried with it a sense of promise and a sense of excitement?
  • What if meditating about dying brough a fresh sense of perspective and purpose?
  • …..
  • What if, in our dying and death, we became our best selves?


Tea-Timers and the Waterstones Book Launch

I have my very first book launch, courtesy of Waterstones, Ealing this Friday.  I can’t quite believe it is happening to me, but I am excited.  My friends have been wonderfully supportive and several are making cakes for the event.  Here’s Waterstones and my book is in the bottom right hand corner.  Thanks so much to everyone who has wished me well on social media and been excited for me.  I am so grateful.  

I had my first launch on Sunday 10th September with Tea-Timers a group of my favourite people. 

Who are Tea-Timers?  They are a group of people I have fallen in love with over the last six years.  A group of us from my church wanted to do something for the elderly.  So we set up a monthly tea, with proper china cups and saucers, homemade sandwiches and cakes and invited the over 60’s.  Since we began in September 2011 we have hosted over eighty people.  Many in their 80’s and a few in their 90’s.  It was through working with this group that I felt I would like a tool to have the conversation about dying and death.  Time to Live: The Beginner’s Guide to Saying Goodbye was born.  

When I told them all about it on Sunday they were very excited for me.  We had some wonderful conversations about dying and death and to my amazement and joy many bought the book.  So I feel encouraged.  The whole point of the book was to help the conversations and offer really practical advice.   Some will be joining me to celebrate on Friday.


He had set eternity in the human heart

The title of this post is from Ecclesiastes 3:11.

The quest for eternity is deep within us all.

Our only portal to eternity is  through death.  Seeing death through the eyes of faith means what will stretch before us in our death and resurrection is far greater than what we leave behind.  

The full quote from Ecclesiastes:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no-one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 


HANGING BY A THREAD – The life of a creative

You’ve worked your butt off. You have given everything. You have sweated, persevered, and nobody seems to want what you have given birth to. Why keep going when it’s all gone horribly wrong?

  1. Our definition of success defines our failure

I just counted the number of scripts I have written. Twenty-one.  How many got made? One short, one feature film.  Of course I saw myself receiving the Oscar, my friend had imagined her dress.  I am grateful to have been a part of writing, and making a feature film with a great cast that talked about something important.  When one of the crew on the night we wrapped wanted to talk to me about the content and tell me his story it became worthwhile in that moment.  I know there were others for whom it was significant.   I wanted to make more but it wasn’t to happen. 

  1. Never confuse your real life with what you do

The sense of loss and despair can feel so great, like walking through mud in a long dark tunnel. And this all about something you have created. When I feel like this I remember what I do does not define me. The priorities in my life are to love and receive love. My real life is community, family, home, and God and I am fortunate enough to have all of this in my life. When we confuse the two we get into substitutes like addiction and unfaithfulness. A real life is interacting with beings with skin on their face.

  1. Stop obsessing and treat yourself to a retreat

Reflect, write, think, meditate, pray, read, remember. Leave behind all distractions. Get surgery to remove yourself from all social media.  Go somewhere and feed your soul.  Ask God for help and He will answer you whether you know Him or not. 

  1. Do not allow yourself to become isolated

Talk to a friend about everything, ask for help, and remember you are not alone.  Remember you are loved.



“Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them”

Thanks to my book club I have just read Fahrenheit 451 (Flamingo Modern Classics) by Ray Bradbury.  It is awesome.  I recognise I am not alone in thinking this as many people have read and appreciate this dystopian novel.  It depicts a not so distant America where books are prohibited and the general population tune in to shallow entertainment that anaesthetises from real life. The main character, a fireman who burns the books, is awakened from his sleep. He loses everything, but lives to activate change.  Although written in 1953 it is prescient and disturbing.  I feel somewhat depressed I never found it before, but exhilarated by the discovery of it.

Many questions and imaginings arise from the book. The quote above was only one of several I found striking.  If I looked long and hard at society what would I see?

I chose two things:

  1. A society that ruthlessly judges others. If someone has the courage to put their head above the parapet and say something different to perceived opinion, social media erupts into horrific abuse and people’s lives are often changed forever. An example is Gina Miller, the person who took Brexit to court.  She triggered the wrath of the tabloids, received death threats, harassment and racial abuse.  A woman driven by a genuine sense of responsibility towards a country she loves. ‘Hate-filled abuse is poisoning Britain. I fought it and ask you to do the same | Gina Miller’  
  2. A society that allows its plumb line of sexuality to be the entertainment and advertising industry and pornography. I taught briefly young troubled teenage boys 2008/9 excluded from every school they had attended. My school, specifically for such children, was their last chance to gain any qualification.  The pornography they watched on their phones was appalling. Their treatment of myself and other women in the school, dismissive, disrespectful and demeaning. Apart from disallowing phones during the school day there was nothing to be done to stop their daily diet.  Does pornography damage? I believe so. ‘Friends’, that series we all loved so long ago actively endorsed pornography. When Joey, Chandler and Ross needed cheering up pornography was an answer which the women thoughtfully provided. When, by chance, it was streamed free on Joey’s tv it was celebrated and never switched off.  It was an underlying theme in the series which I missed. “Friends” The One with the Free Porn (TV Episode 1998)  What do we allow to teach us subliminally? 

We all need back-up!

Remember “About a Boy”? I’m recalling the film of the book by Nick Hornby.  Marcus, a 12-year-old somewhat odd son of an unstable single mother recognises they need friends or ‘back up’ when things get tough.  They do as his mother is so unhappy she tries to die. However, a small unlikely community grows around them, including a confirmed bachelor Will, terrified of growing up. When the bad times happen friendship sees everyone through. 

Why is community important?                                           

1. We need each other:   nurturing human connection is essential for our well-being. We need to be touched, to be hugged a certain number of times daily. I’m not talking about sex, but about human beings appreciating and loving each other.

2. Be a friend: Let’s not wait for people to befriend us, why not foster friendship ourselves. We don’t have to do anything grand. One of my friends rarely had someone round for a meal because entertaining was so stressful for her.  She believed she must clean the house completely;  provide outstanding food; be the perfect host.  She had a difficult full-time job, so she was exhausted before she began.

3. Eat together:   we all need to eat, why not organise mealtimes to eat with others? We have had people living with us for years and we tried to eat together.  The quality of food depended on when I shopped but there was food of some description!  People didn’t care. They loved being invited.

4. Know your neighbours:   we need each other.  Do you have elderly neighbours? Can you check on them, perhaps pop in with a pack of biscuits to share a cup of tea?  Elderly people are among the loneliest in our society.  When I walk my streets I remember those who live around me. I feel I belong.  Are we too busy to stop and have a chat?   Send an invitation to neighbours for a Christmas drink it might surprise you who you meet. 

5. Volunteer:   doing something positive, serving your community is a great privilege. It brings a sense of belonging, of ownership and has certainly helped me to understand and care about the people I live amongst. On occasion we band together.   I lend my voice as we stand against what we view as destructive initiatives in our neighbourhood.

6. Life is more than me:   let’s allow ourselves to be part of something greater than ourselves. If my life was only about myself, it would be paltry indeed.

7. Living without fear:   being part of, and living within a community brings a sense of safety and security.  I know my streets, I love my streets, I love the people who live here and I pray for us regularly.