Tuesday, 5 April 2011

From outside in to inside out

Whilst already awake, I awoke again, to a thought.

I talk to much. And I am tired of listening to myself.

So I had a little chat with my neuroses and in an effort to talk less we decided to take a break from blogging for a while, or not from blogging as such because we’ll be hanging out here, but from talking so much. Because the less I talk the more I listen and the more I listen the more I understand (and the less I annoy those around me).

So thankyou to everybody who has ever visited here and especially to those who have returned to punish themselves more than once, - goodbye for now and goodbye incessant chatter (and hello perhaps enigmatic but ever so slightly scary smile . . .)


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Dancing with Death

When I die I would like to be ready. Ready to dance away hand in hand with death, eager to experience whatever may come next.

And to be able to dance whatever way I want to, free finally of all the inhibitions and later recriminations that have been such a part of my life so far.

Life is never dull when there are still classic movies to watch . . .

Oh, and as an afterthought - The photo above has entranced me for years since I first saw it in the Childrens Brittanica (what we had instead of Google in the dark ages). Yet I have never seen the film. But with all the predictions of the end of the world lately the photo popped up again during a discussion with my son about predictions. And they have a copy of The Seventh Seal in the library, so I now have it at home and I'm finally ready to watch it . . .

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

This State of Independence

Five to nine in the morning. I sit in a cafe looking out of the window at the rain. A slow drizzle floats endlessly down, warm and quiet. Outside it smelt of green things and growth, inside it is coffee mixed with deodorant from the business people surrounding me. The quiet clink and hiss from the counter mixes with the surrounding conversation. They talk in upbeat words like return on investment, niche markets and publicly perceived image. I have no public image today, it is my day off, I just sit quietly and write.

For a long time now I have thought that I do not have a work ethic, that somehow I was born without that compulsory requirement to modern society. But sitting here it occurs to me that I do, it is just not the same one that I am surrounded by.

Money. As deals are made and game plans play out, the underlying theme here is money. Making money and then making more money. All of it to buy things. I don’t want things, I am as happy here with a seven dollar coffee and scone as I would be looking at a shiny new Porsche outside my house. Time is what is important to me. I work to make time to do things, not to buy things.

My whole life has been an attempt to work as little as possible to make myself as much time as possible. I might just use that time to sit and look at the rain, but to me that is what is important no matter how much of a waste it would seem to those around me if they only knew my thoughts. They might say they are working now to make money so that they will have time in the future. But who knows what the future will bring, I would rather have my time now especially as I do not believe that after a lifetime devoted to making money you can suddenly stop, retiring as it is usually called and is the death of a lot of people. No I enjoy what I have now, little as it may be it is much much more than I should think those around me have. Far from being one of life’s losers I have just realised that I am very lucky to be this way.

No wonder people think I live on a different planet . . . I do.

Life is never dull when you make time for a cup of coffee . . .

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Solitude and Loneliness

I drove home yesterday saying these two words to myself, thinking about them. They mean nothing if you say them quickly, you have to draw the words out as you speak stretching the vowels out like an endless Sunday afternoon.

At first they seemed to mean the same thing - being alone, and they do, physically but the difference is emotional. In solitude are happy to be alone, if you are not, then loneliness creeps in. Having lived on my own for 35 years I have been both. It didn’t matter where I was - I have been lonely amongst friends at a crowded dinner table, the conversation whirling around me like a hurricane with me at it’s still centre insulated from from it all. I have also found a peaceful sense of solitude in the centre of a city, just sitting watching the crowds mill around me. The same in the countryside, where I lived. On a quiet evening I would often take a bottle or two of beer and drive out to a spot at the edge of the hills at dusk. From there I could look out over the Lothian countryside and beyond to the Firth of Forth. As the darkness crept in and the lights came on I would sit, sometimes in solitude, sometimes in loneliness but always at peace with the world around me.

Those days are long gone now. The world turns ever changing and I change with it. The difference at least for me, from those days is of course an emotional one - love. Since I fell in love and we got married the loneliness has gone. I can be anywhere in the world, in a crowded airport, or on an isolated empty beach and there will always be someone else with me, there is a connection between us that is independent of physical space. It breaks occasionally when we fall out with each other and then that aching emptiness that is loneliness for me seeps back but that is rare and part of being in love, reminding me that love is something you do as well as what you feel.

Solitude. Loneliness. Peaceful, beautiful words that connect with what is deep within me.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Friends Reunited

Well, it may have taken almost a year but I am ready to listen to Tom Waits again.

But how could I have doubted I wouldn’t be - he is an artist I have never seen live but have listened to regularly for nigh on 30 years. There is no way I could live the rest rest of my life without that driving rhythm, the words that fit together like a beautiful puzzle, the occasional hint of spaghetti western, the sense of humour that echoes my own, and of course that feeling of melancholy and hopelessness that is the flipside of western living.

The way he wrings whatever sound he needs from the instruments to get the desired effect has influenced my writing style for a long, long time now - we may have never met but together we have both aged and grown wise . . .

Sorry Nicola, I'll try to keep the volume low . . .

(ps - Life is never dull when you are married to the dancing queen . . .)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Tuesday morning, a quarter to eight. I need a car today so have dropped Nicola off to swim before work and now I am in Starbucks waiting for the shops to open at nine. It’s quiet, peaceful, grey. Distant, distracted people pass the window absorbed inside their own worlds. I am here with it all, calm, relaxed.

I think about work and the feeling changes. MY heart beats, butterflies flutter inside and I become anxious, slightly rushed, edgy . . . Why?

It could be the coffee but it’s not. I sit still but cannot pin down the cause. It could be the unknown, the uncertainty. It could be the closeness to other people, being within their personal space and mine. I am suddenly uncomfortable and cannot settle.

So I think about a couple of friends of ours, Dave and Carol. They seem to have this open calmness about them, receptive, ready to observe things, think and then act. To act without uncertainty, or to accept uncertainty as part of it all. As I picture the two of them I see myself being the same way. The butterflies suddenly multiply and swarm through me along with a voice from deep within.

“What if I am wrong? Just like I am always wrong. How will I explain that?”
“What will people say?”
“More likely they’ll say nothing won’t they? - I am not worth it, who would want to talk to me, to risk being associated with a strange one like myself?”

I stick with it and the feeling subsides to a nervous emptiness.

The feeling I have at work.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Comfort of Rain

Unusually, it has been raining now for two days here in New Zealand, this is the third day. Approaching the hottest part of the year the sun should be shining and the ground should be baked hard and dry, brown. Instead it is raining, and the view is much more British, all green trees and fields and a grey sky.

Inside in the dry, the sound of the constant rain surrounds me. There is a constant background hiss of the rain in the trees, overlaid by the rising and falling drumming sound from the roof. The occasional dripping splash of water onto gravel from the fig trees close outside and a distant bird call evry now and then add a randomness to the whole thing that is well . . . comforting.

It is like sitting with an old friend. Someone older that has known me forever. Someone who has watched my successes and failures, who knows my good points and bad and yet accepts them all without comment or judgement. The rain and I can sit together comfortably in silence, nothing needs to be said for we both accept things as they are and as they have been without comment.

Right now, at this moment all things are as they should be.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Schrödinger's other cat

If you try to put a cat into a box, it never fits. As soon as you try, the cat somehow doubles in size and sprouts another twelve legs. You keep detaching them from your jumper and pushing them in but as soon as you get close to closing the box another leg pops out again.

And yet if you leave a cat alone in a room with a box , the cat will go into the box.

What does it all mean?

Would it be easier with a dog?

Should I be doing something more useful?

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