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Life

Pathfinding

This morning the vast internet machinery heaved the minute hand of an invisible clock forwards another minute, and filled the bedroom with one of the London radio stations. After a few minutes drifting between asleep and awake, my body clock finally gained some traction, and swung legs out of the bedclothes – planting feet on the floor below, ready to begin another day.

There’s a tremendous sense that each day has become “another day” at the moment – unravelling the future like a worn carpet I’ve seen before. There’s a flickering urge to somehow make today better than yesterday, but I’m not quite sure how to go about it, or what “better” really means.

While writing, the clock continues ticking. The planet continues revolving. Carpets continue to unfurl – mapping different directions the day might take. It seems that indecision is not an option – if we retrace steps, the junctions we return to are not as they once were.

If only the world had a reset button from time to time. A chance to start again – to re-invent the recent past. Of course no such thing exists, so we make the best of our situation, we look forwards, and we continue putting one foot in front of the other – marching in step with the ticking of the clock.

What if we could weave our own carpet though – construct a new path – choosing our destiny rather than leaving it to fate? Does fate exist, or is it a convenient construct to soften the consequences of indecision?

I think I’ll continue forwards, and shake my fist towards the machinery of the universe from time to time – pretending I have some say in the way my story unfolds – pretending I might introduce at least a little order among the chaos and mayhem.

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Life

And then the rain fell

While the sky remains filled with cold grey blankets, and the cats keep watch on the garden from the warmth of the living room, Spotify fills the study with music from a Paris jazz cafe as I struggle to pour words onto the page in an order that might work well together.

I seem to have happened upon a couple of hours of Sunday afternoon where I might chase my own interests for a change. Of course you find me in front of a keyboard. Of course you do.

I filled the morning with two walks into town in search of a water filter for the kitchen. There would have been only one walk, but I forgot my face mask and only discovered it’s absence after walking most of the mile-long-route through back roads towards the high-street. Cursing my own stupidity, I retraced my steps and returned.

While walking I played out the paradoxical situation where you arrive at a high-street shop that sells masks, wearing no mask, and cannot enter to buy one unless you are wearing one.

While writing, a quite wonderful French singer is singing about… something. I have no idea what he’s singing about because my mastery of the French language extends no further than “I am fourteen years old”, “please may I have a vanilla ice cream”, “two tickets please”, and “I love your dog”. It’s quite nice – listening without understanding – you connect to the emotion, rather than the story.

Rain has begun to fall. Puddles are slowly filling – swimming pools for pond skaters, and atomic bomb targets for toddlers in wellington boots.

I wish I had some chocolate biscuits.

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Life

London Calling

A little while after the sun rises tomorrow morning, no doubt after gazing at the ceiling for a little while, I will untangle myself from the safety of the bedclothes, stumble downstairs to the shower, have a shave, pull on some clothes, and wake my eldest daughter. With a little luck we will make it to the railway station on the edge of town in time to purchase two tickets, find a seat, and sit in worried silence with masks on, and disinfectant gel in our pockets.

We’re going to London.

This used to be our thing. Before the world locked down, we would regularly travel by train into the centre of London and join the river of people flowing from Paddington Station into the underground – squashing ourselves like sardines into the trains far below the ground, before climbing into bright sunshine at the foot of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, and of course Shaftesbury Avenue and our destination for tomorrow – Forbidden Planet.

It’s been eighteen months since we last set foot within the city walls. We are not brave enough to risk the underground trains yet, so will walk from Paddington – tracing the path of the Serpentine across Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park – visiting the statue of Peter Pan, and experiencing our first taste of “life” since the world fell into shadow.

After a litte exploration of Leicester Square we might watch the entertainers at Covent Garden before making our way to Forbidden Planet – the biggest comic book shop in the country. My daughter will peruse shelves of Manga while I marvel at artwork, and wonder quite where to start. I’ve never been much of a reader of comics, but I’ve always admired their art.

I wonder what London will feel like after so long away, and after the events of the last year? Will the streets still be quiet, or will the people have returned?

Postscript – the visit to London didn’t happen. Anxiety got the better of my daughter – a journey she has been on for many years. Let’s see what the day brings.

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Life

Nothing to Report

I’m trying not to read the news. The news is full of stories about the Indian variant of the coronavirus going on something of a rampage, and causing brakes to perhaps be put on the slow journey out of lockdown we had all been on. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the variant arrived here – until recently travel to and from India was allowed if you had good enough reason. It’s all rather depressing really.

It’s interesting really – that while the modern world has become so much smaller through the development of affordable methods of travel, it has also ensured that viruses can spread throughout the planet in days or weeks.

In-between working and doing chores, I’ve been tinkering with an old computer at home – or rather, a simulation of an old computer. There is an old laptop sitting on the desk opposite me, suffering from a multiple-personality disorder. It’s running an “emulator” – which transforms it into a Commodore Amiga – a computer that most people haven’t seen for the better part of twenty five years. Don’t ask me why I’m tinkering with it. I don’t really know.

The blog seems to have taken a back-seat in recent days. I’m not really sure why. I tend to go through phases with writing – sometimes I have all manner of ideas, thoughts, or stories to communicate – and then sometimes I have nothing at all.

Anyway.

I have nothing to report today. No great news. Nothing of note has happened. I’ll shut up before I single-handedly induce narcolepsy in enough people for “big data” to expose me as a danger to civilised society. “Most boring man in known universe becomes danger to others”.

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Life

The Dying of the Light

After noticing dusk had fallen a few minutes ago I wandered into the garden to get the washing in, and was met by a wall of cold air. While unpegging clothes and folding them into the basket I listened to the birds singing their twilight song, and smiled at the huffing of a hedgehog somewhere in the undergrowth nearby.

There’s something tremendously peaceful about the dying of the light, and the effect it has on the world around us. Darkness seems to fall like a quiet blanket over the world, and everything in it. Well – everything except the teenagers listening to music in their car several streets away.

I imagine older people will be complaining to each other about the music – forgetting they were young once, and also forgetting that the reason they sit in their car is because previous generations have systematically opposed any and all provision for young people in the town.

When I first moved here – twenty years ago – there were plans in place to build a civic centre with a bowling alley, a cinema, a club, and so on. The town planners rejected it – instead allowing a developer to turn the site into luxury apartments that stood empty for years because nobody could afford them. There were also plans to build a sports arena – they too were rejected because house prices of senior members of the council would have been affected.

They say coffee shops are an indicator of wealth arriving in an area. A portent of sorts. There are at least five coffee shops in the centre of town now – all within a single scooter push of each other. A town where you can buy any variety of international coffee bean in a cardboard cup, and yet you can no longer buy a washing up bowl, a mug, or a kettle. It has nothing to do with the internet – it has everything to do with wealth, property owners, extortionate leaseholds, and greed.

I can’t help feeling the town is going the same way as a town I grew up near. When I was young it was a busy, thriving place filled with young families. By the time I left it had become a single road lined with antique shops and restaurants, and an almost entirely aged, retired community.

I wonder what causes people to lose sight of everything and everybody around them? What causes them to focus on their own aspirations above and beyond anything else? Will they ever realise that their wish for “a quiet life” eventually means no young families, no parks, no shops, no social gatherings, and the eventual destruction of the town they once knew and liked?

For what it’s worth, I have the windows open, and I’m playing music. Music that somebody, somewhere will probably be complaining about.

In other news, after dinner this evening I sat with my eldest daughter and watched the movie “Freedom Writers”. I’ve seen it before, and I’m now wondering if some movies systematically take us apart – ripping away a different piece of us each time we watch them. Each viewing becomes more difficult.

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Life

Conjuring Audrey Hepburn

I’m sitting in the study (read: the junk room). Rain is gently falling outside, and I have jazz playing in the background once again. Through the wonders of Spotify and bluetooth, I have discovered how to choose music on the computer, and have it automagically burst from the boombox. I’m sure the neighbours are not happy about this, given the New York jazz band now causing the walls to gently vibrate to a bossa nova rhythm.

I’ve changed my mind about Ally McBeal. I’m expecting Audrey Hepburn to tip her head around the door at any moment, wearing her latest boyfriend’s work shirt, and carrying a black cat under her arm. There’s something about this music – it transports you to a time and a place in your memory.

Anyway.

We just got back from visiting the zero-waste store in town – our kitchen and pantry now look very much like they might fit in at Hogwarts – with glass mason jars filled with all manner of goodies lined up along the shelves and counters.

The store is a genius idea – you arrive with empty containers, weigh them, fill them with whatever you want, weigh them again, and only pay for the weight of whatever you have chosen – no packaging involved. We typically get most of our dry cooking ingredients from them – everything from pasta, to beans, lentils, and all manner of “healthy” snacks. I think my favourite in recent weeks has been dried chilli chick-peas. Or maybe almonds coated in cocoa.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a reading list on WordPress a mile long to catch up with.

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Life

Coffee and Jazz

It’s late on Thursday evening, and I’m listening to jazz on the internet while sipping coffee. I’m going to blame Claudette. She tipped me off about a YouTube channel filled with coffee house jazz, and I fell straight down an impressively deep internet rabbit hole.

Who knew I liked jazz? Does this mean I’m getting old? My late father in law had a huge collection of jazz music – we went with him on river cruises with jazz bands on-board several times over the years.

Jazz reminds me of Ally McBeal. I think perhaps it’s the 90s Vonda Shepard back-catalogue that’s been lurking in my subconscious recently – secretly burrowing it’s way in via a steady stream of Spotify sleepy afternoon playlists.

In my mind – no doubt heavily influenced by movies, television shows, and old vinyl records heard from a distance – jazz is the soundtrack for New York, rain, wistfulness, and melancholy. The music of broken dreams, sadness, and loss.

I like melancholy. I like peace and quiet. I like music you don’t really have to concentrate on – that’s just kind of there in the background – tugging at an emotion, or a feeling. An old friend that’s in the room with you, but you don’t have to make conversation with.

Anyway.

It’s almost 1am again. This late-night head emptying is turning into a habit.

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Life

Ignoring the Tomorrowness

May the fifth be with you. Doesn’t sound quite as good, does it. At the time of writing it’s eight minutes past midnight, so I suppose it’s already tomorrow. The sixth. Perhaps I’ll ignore the tomorrowness of it all, and pretend it’s still tonight.

I have a somewhat important conference call tomorrow morning. I should really be asleep already – recharging my batteries in order to appear somewhat cogent while sipping coffee in front of the laptop webcam.

The draw of the internet rabbit hole is strong. Oh, the hours I could spend reading about subjects of little consequence to me. Last night I found myself reading about the Trinity nuclear tests at midnight. I’m not sure why.

There seems to be an event horizon in the internet rabbit hole, beyond which all manner of interesting yet unknown distractions lurk.

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Life

Star Wars Day

May the fourth be with you. Apparently today is “Star Wars Day”. It’s all a bit thtupid really, ithn’t it. Thee what I did there?

Anyway.

What news might I have to impart? Perhaps that I’m back using the bullet journal again. My attempt to weld myself to mobile productivity apps lasted all of one weekend. It turns out – for me at least – there really is nothing better than a piece of paper and a pen. Of course the productivity ninjas will probably start wittering on about there being bullet journals and bullet journals, and will reference their own expertly photographed double page spreads of yoga mornings, boutique lunch appointments, and zen afternoon wellbeing meetups.

Idiots.

My bullet journal is an embarrassment to bullet-journal-kind. Each day has a list of things I wanted to get done, and things I did. That’s it. That’s as clever as it gets. Sure, I can’t search it without flipping backwards through it, but it’s not like it takes very long to find a password I shouldn’t have written in it in the first place.

Sure, I could fill the pages with wonderful little doodles that might yearn for a home in a children’s book or a graphic novel, but what’s the point (other than photographing them to become some sort of illustration influencer) ?

I’m not sure if the US version of “The Office” had an equivalent scene to the one where head office turns up, and it turns out the manager has spent all day inventing a new television game show. That’s what comes to mind when I see some people’s bullet journals.

I get it though. Doodling is kind of creative – and if we pooh pooh all creative things, you may as well destroy all books, popular music, and performing arts. Remember the movie “The Invention of Lying” ? Remember the performers reading history text books? That’s what happens if you stop doodling. It probably has something to do with butterflies flapping their wings, and water dribbling across the back of Jeff Goldblum’s hand.

I drank ONE glass of prosecco a few minutes ago, and this post is what happened. Can you imagine what would happen if I drank another glass? Probably not a good idea.