Thursday, 31 January 2008

Sober reflection

Yep, I pledged to myself (as I do most years) that I would remain alcohol-free in January, and that's been the case. Not that it's a big thing, or anything to make a fuss about - he notes as, ironically, he embarks on writing a post about it - but it does bring up some interesting stuff.

For instance, when it's cropped up in conversation with anyone, pretty much the standard reaction has been, "I wouldn't have the willpower to do that". Well, neither would I. If it was about willpower I don't think I would even consider it. The point is that I enjoy it, it's something to look forward to. When drinking has become so much part of the routine, in this case over Christmas, then the change in that routine is welcome (and, in turn, the prospect of drinking becomes a novelty again).

Nor have I felt tempted in any way to drink during this time: the bottles of whisky on top of my fridge seem to have blended (no pun intended) into the background; there's half a bottle of red wine in there as well which a friend brought round last night, having forgotten that I wouldn't be joining her in sampling it. I had no problem with her drinking it herself, and I'm not tantalized by the notion of pouring myself a helping from what remains.

If I'm painting myself as being completely and utterly (and sickeningly) virtuous with the words above, or like I'm trying too hard to prove a point, then I must admit that the prospect of a really good pint of a quality beer is a welcome one. I'm not sure whether the alcohol content is part of the equation, but I do miss the taste and texture of, say, a glass of Leffe or Theakston's Old Peculier, it seems warm and welcoming whereas I've not really given any other types of booze a second thought.

The most obvious benefit of this abstinence is the quality of sleep (saving money doesn't count, because what I save always ends up being spent on more music). The prospect of, say, a Friday night without booze - especially if I'm not planning on going out either - might initially seem a bit of a drag, but is always more than compensated for by waking up the following morning after a good, solid night's sleep, without even a hint of any after effects of alcohol.

I did have an odd couple of days where I felt like I was slurring my words: make of that what you will, I'll just put it down to tiredness and catching up on proper sleep.

The main thing which I tend to notice however is far more subtle. It's a fine line, but I end up feeling much calmer, more even, more self-possessed. It manifests itself in different ways but, for example, in situations where I might normally be clock-watching and willing the time to pass, I'm much more patient and able to sit back and just let it happen by itself: I'm much more tolerant towards things which otherwise seem like a chore. It gives rise to a certain stillness or quietness which seems to refresh me and give me renewed strength. There seems to be a sense of more time in which to think and to act. Worries subside; I'm less likely to avoid things.

Having said all that, then it seems pretty ludicrous that the chances are I'll be enjoying a couple of drinks at my local tomorrow night. But still it has to be said: the chances are I'll be enjoying a couple of drinks at my local tomorrow night. They serve Leffe by the pint, after all.

Sunday, 27 January 2008


DJ Kirkby has given me a prod to stop clicking on the link in my previous post and write something new. Thanks dj, will do.

I must admit I think I've managed to extricate myself from a potentially chronic phase of addiction to jozin z bazin, and haven't watched it for several days now. The secret of my success in achieving that is, in part, by watching something slightly different in tone, namely some footage of Swans playing live in concert in the mid/late 80s.

I was, briefly, in a band with someone in the late 80s whose previous beat combo had supported Swans on one of their European tours. This 6' 4" Scandinavian man was himself quite an uncompromising figure: he played guitar through a whole series of compression and distortion pedals, using a wire brush instead of a plectrum. Nonetheless as he recounted memories of the tour, he told me how the best way to cope with the sheer volume and intensity of Swans in concert was to stand outside the venue and on the other side of the road.

I've used my evenings this week fairly constructively as well, which is another reason for my relative quietness. I'm aiming to get out of the habit of doing little during my non-working hours: it's often the case that merely not being at work is enough in itself. However I always feel better if I've used some of my time to work on music or drawing or some other form of creative/constructive activity (and yes I do include blogging in that). So I've had a good few hours tinkering around with music, listening back to old ideas, working into them, and starting a couple of new ones. No pressure on myself either: the phrase "it might be shit, but it's MY shit" is proving to be a helpful one.

My search for a change of career continues, but not at the expense of the things I'm trying to include back in my life again, because I've realised how important they are to me.

Oh go on then, just one more look at jozin z bazin...

Friday, 18 January 2008

Jozin z bazin

Thanks to Szwagier and his blog at Avantgardening, I've been watching this over and over. A piece of subtle 1970s Eastern European comic genius. I recommend going and having a look: I did, and I keep going back and watching it again and again. I've laughed out loud every time.

Update: Sunday morning, get out of bed. Have a wash, drink some water and have a cup of green tea. Browse the net for a few minutes. Get ready to go to the shops to buy some items for a late breakfast. Realise, something's on the link to watch Jozin z Bazin once again, and feel a sense of completeness. Now I can get on with the day. Is this getting out of control?

Thursday, 17 January 2008


I'm bemused by the amount of sales there are at the moment. Given that it's the middle of January, that might sound as silly as going to see Muddy Waters in concert and being bemused by the amount of blues songs he plays: that much I'm aware of.

But - sales in banks? Pubs? Betting shops? What's that all about (no marks for saying "filthy capitalism")? Maybe if these pubs do the same next January then I might go teetotal in December and do all my Christmas drinking on the cheap the following month. Mind you, on my way home I pass a funeral home, and I was almost hoping to see a sign advertising a sale of their own, but I was - if this is the right word - disappointed.

Perhaps voluntary sector mental health services can do a sale of their own next January: more service provision for less money! Oh - hang on...

Monday, 14 January 2008

Walking like there's no tomorrow

I was up north at the weekend, and I was really glad to get out of town on Friday. That thing, what's it called.....daylight, that's it: the daylight thing never really happened on Friday. The weather was so dark, shitty and rainy with no respite, that I felt like I could quite easily take it personally.

As I waited for transport to take me up north, I sat and had a regular coffee. I forgot just how big regular coffees can be, but it was very nice so I drank nearly all of it, and was rewarded with a nice dollop of hypoglycemia about an hour later.

Still, up north I was in the company of some old friends and a couple of new ones, all gathered at someone's house for food and drinks and conversation. As I've mentioned in a previous post I'm taking a break from alcohol at the moment: rather than that being a struggle in any way shape or form, I found myself actually having to remind myself that I was sober, such was the atmosphere. It was easy to get lost in the flow of conversation.

Once again I took dozens of photographs, and the following day we had a walk for a couple of hours. The weather couldn't have been more different to the previous day: bright and sunny, and surprisingly warm. Despite being with others, I tended to lapse into my own thoughts as I walked: I usually do, and it's not a bad thing, it helps me to think things through.

Weekends just seem to be too short these days.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

99: Post of Ice

I really wasn't sure how to follow the previous post: I'm tickled by the amount of comments a pair of socks generated. Not that it was about the socks of course, but what they represent. Danger, decadence and other shit like that. Meanwhile I'm sat here listening to a so-far very fine compilation album on Planet Mu records. It's entitled "200", since it's the 200th release on that label.

So, following that kind of logic, this post is entitled "99."

Post of Ice?

I was walking home from work today, and those were the words I saw on a building that I passed by. It was a green building, inside I saw lots of stationery on sale... and I believe you can buy stamps and lottery tickets in there amongst other things.

The weather, general wear and tear, or (and I hope this to be the case) an act of creative vandalism must have done for the second "f."

Saturday, 5 January 2008


Did I say something in a recent post about taking risks?

Risks, schmisks - today I'm breaking all the rules, motherfuckers! Better be careful - I'm not just pushing the boundaries, for me there's no boundary sometimes...

Friday, 4 January 2008


"I know most of you are very unhappy: I'm not surprised and I don't blame you. I'll be less than surprised if some (if not most) of you don't stay for much longer. Again, I don't blame you, and if that's what you want to do then that's understandable. I probably won't be far behind."

Here's another photo.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Last of the holiday walks

I started back at work today, so here's a post (and photographs) about yesterday: yet more walking, this time in Matlock and Matlock Bath.

An early start was had in order to get the train there for a reasonable hour, which in itself felt like a rehearsal for getting up today. It was dark and grim.

Matlock occupies a curious place in my thoughts and memories, having spent my childhood living about half an hour's drive away (and my dad never drove fast). It reminds me of maudlin Sundays from Spring through to the Autumn months when my parents used to take my brother and I there for the afternoon. I think the main reason I would be maudlin was because it was Sunday and also because the chances of us visiting a garden centre on the way home would be pretty high. Otherwise I really did like it there since we'd often get fish and chips, spend time and endless 10p pieces in the amusement arcades or in the parks with their various attractions, and generally have more fun than I would often credit the place as being able to provide.

It also gives rise to memories of my late teens and early twenties when I would go down there with friends for drinking and in search of any excuse to go out and party. After attending someone's birthday party at a local and rather grand venue, my friends and I had nowhere to sleep, until by a curious turn of events we spent the night wrapped up in blankets in a small industrial unit nearby.

Yesterday was mainly about the walking though. None of it is off the beaten track, as such, though the some of the paths and tracks are pretty steep and so we expended a satisfying amount of energy. We also took a walk near to Riber Castle, which I remember from at least one visit in the summer of 1976. Now it's a desolate and rather eerie-looking empty shell, and this gave me pause for reflection in an otherwise exceptionally pleasant day.

Oh, and I made friends with a cat.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Tags (5)

Ok, here's the End Of Year questions as requested by wayfarer. I've kept the answers brief since there are a lot of questions, and as usual I'm not tagging anyone else though feel free to take it on if you wish to. I know I'm repeating myself but I'm becoming much more selective with tags and more likely to politely decline: this one was interesting to me though, as much as anything because it throws up a couple of things which I'm not entirely comfortable with.

1. Will you be looking for a new job? Yes. Something different to what I'm doing now. My lack of success in achieving this so far has been rather dispiriting and draining. I'm keeping this answer brief because I've moaned about it often enough.

2. Will you be looking for a new relationship? Not actively, no. My experience of relationships in recent years has been negative and difficult and, while I've moved on in many ways from those particular relationships, then the prospect of commencing another one leaves me feeling defensive rather than filling me with any kind of enthusiasm. I would say I need to deal with those feelings before any relationship becomes a viable and desirable prospect.

3. New house? If you mean owning one, you're joking! I'm open to the possibility of moving though, depending on other factors.

4. What will you do differently in 2008? I don't see why I should do anything differently purely on account of it now being 2008, but I think I need to change my tactics as regards (1), for instance given the lack of movement so far.

5. New Years Resolution? No, I don't really do them, it seems a bit artificial to me. Any resolutions I make at this time of year aren't necessarily linked to that (though I concede that often there's more time to reflect and examine priorities at this time of year for various reasons). I know I'm sounding like a humourless git here though, and if there is anything that I could offer to answer the question, then it's the following: I'm keeping my mobile phone on silent. I switched it on to silent just before Christmas and it's much better that way!

6. What will you not be doing in 2008? Lots of things. Erm, I'm not sure where to go with this question.

7. Any trips planned? No definites as yet, though possibly a week in Yorkshire in February, and I hope for another holiday in Europe or further afield (or more than one, if circumstances allow).

8. Wedding plans? No!

9. Major thing on your calendar? Nothing in that respect, the things I want to achieve aren't set in stone or tied to particular dates: not yet, at least.

10. What can't you wait for? I can wait, I don't want to wish my life away and I'm a far more patient person these days than I ever used to be. But the things which spring to mind are: lighter nights and warmer weather, and some tangible progress with making changes.

11. What would you like to see happen differently? I would like to be more cheerful!

12. What about yourself will you be changing? See (11).

13. What happened in 07 that you didn't think would ever happen? I woke up and realised just how much of a rut I've been stuck in, and it frightened me.

14. Will you be nicer to the people you care about? I always try to be as nice as I can to the people I care about: I'm far from perfect in that respect but the friendships and connections I have are very valuable to me and as long as the love and respect works both ways then I want to maintain that.

15. Will you dress differently this year than you did in 07? Not unless the circumstances demand it!

16. Will you start or quit drinking? Neither as such, but I'm taking a break from drinking for the duration of January and possibly further: I do enjoy having a few weeks away from the booze from time to time.

17. Will you better your relationship with your family? I hope to in some specific ways, I wouldn't wish to mention them here though.

18. Will you do charity work? No. I wouldn't say so if I was, either!

19. Will you go to bars? Ah, now we're getting back into the realms of certainty. Though see (16).

20. Will you be nice to people you don't know? That depends. I'm usually polite and courteous, though I do have a steadily-increasing streak of intolerance towards people who might be behaving in certain ways.

21. Do you expect 08 to be a good year for you? I don't expect so, I would hope so, and I will hold myself primarily responsible if it isn't. I don't see it in such absolute terms anyway, no doubt there will be a mixture of positives and negatives as there is in any year.

22. How much did you change from this time last year until now? While I'm very desperately frustrated about (1), then I feel really happy to have done more writing (chiefly here) and more creative stuff generally. I hope that this is merely a starting point for further such.

23. Do you plan on having a child? Given the answers to earlier questions, it would be a slightly odd state of affairs if I were to say yes...

24. Will you still be friends with the people you are friends with now? I would have thought so, once I've established a friendship with someone, it's been a very rare occurrence to have entirely lost touch.

25. Major lifestyle changes? That depends on a number of things I've already written. Sometimes I've taken risks: I'm not suggesting I will, but neither am I ruling it out.

26. Will you be moving? Again, that depends on a number of things I've already written.

27. What will you make sure doesn't happen in 08 that happened in 07? Another one that leaves me at a loss as to how to answer.

28. What are your New Year's Eve plans? Well, that's a whole year fault for not doing this tag earlier. What I did last night was to meet up with a bunch of friends at someone's house for a pleasant evening of wine, home-cooked food, good conversation, lots of silliness, and getting home at about 3am.

29. Will you have someone to kiss at midnight? Not in the way that this question infers (to me at least)!

30. One wish for 08? To be out of the rut that I feel I'm in.