Wednesday, 7 January 2009


I was awarded an award by leigh just before Christmas, and tagged to list 5 obsessions. Interesting that leigh's blog is entitled The Art of Subtle Procrastination, since it's taken me some time to finally get round to this. Well, very belated thanks! Just to add insult to injury, blogger won't even let me upload the image for the award for some strange reason.

Oh well, here we go with five obsessions:

1. Cycling. I feel I've been there and blogged that often enough, to not feel the need to write more about it in this post - except to say that on Saturday I'll be doing my first dollop of cycling so far this year, a six hour slog on a mountain bike somewhere up north (ish). Let's hope the weather stays as challenging and inhospitable as it has been the last few days :)

2. Music. Listening to, making, reading about, talking about, thinking about, getting tinnitus because of.

I could easily have said "The Fall" instead, mind you: though I don't know if I could count as a true Fall obsessive given that I own just 21 of their 27 studio albums, does that make me a bit of a lightweight?

But yes, music: all sorts of music. Music that is sweet and delicate, music that is harsh and atonal, challenging, primitive, raw, "unlistenable", experimental, music that sounds like it's been made by beings from another planet (especially late at night on that particular planet)...and all sorts of shades inbetween, including Hot Chocolate's Greatest Hits, and "Money" as performed by the Flying Lizards .

I could go on about music - but just go and listen to some, will you?

3. Myself. Oh yes - I don't mean in a narcissistic, vain kind of way: I certainly don't spend inordinate amounts of time looking at my reflection in the mirror, put it that way. No, I mean more along the lines of searing self-analysis of my every thought, word, action and motive, and the potential consequences or lack thereof resulting from those in isolation or in tandem. Moments in which I can forget myself can be hellish or bliss therefore. I realise, of course, that what I've written does carry its own kind of vanity, don't go thinking that I don't. See, this is a case in point.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but there's a certain truth in there all the same.

4. War History. I know, it's such a blokey thing, but in recent years I felt the need to read history to make sense of so many questions in my mind, and then I got on to the World Wars, and haven't really moved on much from there. It's certainly not about glorification of war, nor is it about any kind of fascination with what kind of tank fired which kind of shell and at what range was it effective and all of that tedious nonsense. It's more the combination of the human aspects (and sheer disbelief at man's inhumanity to man - of which there's plenty about at the moment) and how individuals coped in such adversity, and the wider geopolitical aspects... and also the fact that such huge and frankly unimaginably horrific events happened in such comparatively recent times.

There's also the element of such things being part of a continuum, in which reading about the war helps make so much sense (if the word sense can be meaningfully applied here) of the preceding and following events, and vice versa.

Compelling it may be, it can also be bloody harrowing. Especially this.

5. Words. I won't say writing, because I'm not a writer (except on these pages, obviously, and occasional other texts). I'm tempted to say language too, but then I'm neither a linguician (I know, I just made that word up) nor a polyglot (though I've been called worse).

But: words, in the sense that one can play around with them to create, convey, alter, emphasise and subvert meaning, and all sorts of other things besides. Going back into vanity territory (see above) I think I'm better off doing that off the cuff in conversation than I am on the printed page.

Language - I'm endlessly fascinated by the links and relationships between different languages and language families both ancient and modern. Like how the Celtic languages, and Latin, and Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit, have many points of comparison and interplay (or something). Like how, if I remember correctly, two in Urdu is duo. Like how Finnish - again if I remember correctly - is related, albeit distantly, to Turkish and to Japanese.

I once sat and listened to two friends - one Turkish, one Japanese, as it happens - in conversation, and it was fantastic to listen to them realise a couple of words which were common to each language.

Right, that's me and some of my obsessions. If you've got this far, you may or may not recall that I tend not to pass these tags/memes on, but feel free etc - the rules are on leigh's blog as linked to above.


Leigh said...

This was worth waiting for. And you know what, Trousers? I knew there was a reason I liked your blog. I'm with you on all of these.

Mei Del said...

i had that inner self examination today - on the long walk adn later with my daughter when we just hung out together and talked about everything ... i love language too and how we can accidentally mispell a word and it means something slightly different almost intentionally, ah linguician - a magical artist!

B said...

Music! My main obsession! How did I forget that?????????

And, what leigh said.

anya said...

I share a couple of your obsessions...words, and well....maybe that narcissist thing...but especially the music. I can loose an entire day somewhere in the deep vaults of i-tunes. It's gonna break me. Last night I found and fell for Eric Lindell. I can't believe you like Hot Chocolate too.

Like your blog.

bi-cycler said...

Trousers : WE are very concerned.
One wheel or two?

trousers said...

Thanks leigh, it's taken me long enough to write something on this thread, too...but I was really pleased with your response.

Long walks are great aren't they, mei? Very good for thinking things through, talking and so on.

Easily done, b, I missed out art (ie the visual kind) from this list, but I went for the things that I felt I could most immediately write something about.

Hello and welcome, anya! Hot Chocolate is a childhood thing, to an extent - but one of those where you go back to it and realise that you like it all the same. I do enjoy listening to them from time to time, inamongst all the weird and wonderful stuff. Glad you like the blog :)

No cycling without (at least) two wheels as far as I'm concerned, bi-cycler.

J.J said...

I can actually completely understand the war history thing for a bloke. So many sons, husbands, brothers and fathers have had to go and fight in wars. How on earth did they ever deal with it? I tend to avoid the history, in spite of having a degree in it, but read the literature - war poetry a lot - and currently War and Peace (every bit as long as peopel said it was!).

trousers said...

Good point J.J., one of the things about it is that surely most of the people involved were ordinary, and it's those all-too-human perspectives on such grimly extraordinary circumstances that holds a lot of the interest.

War and Peace? Well I've had the Divine Comedy sat on my table for I don't know how long, and I've neither got round to reading it nor, unsurprisingly, has it read itself. Good luck!