Friday, 29 October 2010

Flu perspectives

I've been a bit run down the last few days. Nothing major, but I've been under par, and some of it is certainly self-inflicted, thanks to a heavy (in a good way) weekend. I booked leave from work for the first two days of this week, knowing that I'd be of little use to anyone, and in fact I damn well enjoyed being of little use to anyone.

Typically, though, a three day working week has felt like it lasted twice as long. There are still plenty of ructions and instabilities and uncertainties (and stuff) happening in the workplace. However the main reason for the time drag was that I felt, on Wednesday and Thursday in particular, like a teabag that had been used twice and then left to dry and shrivel up (look I'm still not quite 100% so don't expect any better analogies).

Anyway, though it's meant I've had less energy and stamina and perhaps the occasional hint of cold symptoms (which appear to have passed), that's been the worst of it. It certainly reminds me that I can no longer party like I'm half my age, without expecting any consequences.

What it most definitely isn't though, is the 'flu (I'll forgo using the apostrophe from this point because I can't be bothered with it).

I've realised that I get very annoyed...well ok I can get annoyed with most things, I'm more than aware of that. Still. I get very annoyed when I hear people, especially in the workplace (but anywhere else for that matter) say, through a blocked nose and punctuated by snuffles or a sneeze, I've got the 'flu.

(Yes I know I said I would forgo the apostrophe, and I remain consistent with that, but the person saying the above quote used it.)

No you haven't got the flu (see), you've got a cold or possibly some sort of viral condition which might have a few mild symptoms in common with the flu. Otherwise you'd be at home bedridden, drenched in sweat and in a mild delirium, feverish, aching and feeling like death warmed up - or alternatively, death cooled down. Flu knocks you for six, it can make you feel filthily depressed, unable to eat, move or concentrate, and you certainly don't feel able to get up and go to work and sit in an office (or a laboratory, if that's where you happen to work) and say I've got the 'flu.

If you did manage to drag yourself that far, you'd be more likely to be saying Taxi? Yes, can you take me to [insert home address here] as quick as you can, thank you, and saying sorry boss, I'm really not well enough and I shouldn't have come into work today in the first place.

Plus, if you did manage to drag yourself that far and somehow felt like you could at least sit in your office/lab/abattoir etc and try and work, hopefully it would only be a matter of time before a more sensible colleague or boss quickly phoned a taxi on your behalf and ordered you home - both for your own sake AND SO THAT YOU DIDN'T BLOODY WELL PASS IT ON TO ANY OF YOUR WORKMATES YOU UNTHINKING IDIOT. WHAT ABOUT DAVE AT THE DESK NEXT TO YOU, HE'S GOT TWO WEEKS HOLIDAY ABROAD STARTING THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT HE REALLY WANTS IS TO FEEL LIKE SEVEN DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHIT WHEN HE CATCHES WHAT YOU'VE GOT, DOESN'T HE?

Anyway. So no, I'm not feeling too bad at all (and rather better for a rant, actually - did you notice that I ranted? Did you?), and certainly well enough to go for a walk with the lovely Fire Byrd tomorrow. But then I haven't had the flu, or anything remotely like it. Sometimes it seems like not many people know the difference anymore.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


I was in a queue at the supermarket earlier today. Hardly a long queue, though a little busier than usual. When I got to the checkout, the lady who served me said, I'm sorry about your wait, to which I immediately replied, with faux indignation, but I've lost a stone!

She laughed, and I remarked that I was glad that she did - bless her, she said it had really cheered her up.

In an alternative, imaginary scenario which immediately started playing out in my mind, I said to her, well, you've got to enjoy the laughs and good cheer when you can get it, haven't you, because after yesterday's euphemistically-titled spending review, we're all well and truly fucked, aren't we?.

I may have then either trudged out of the shop with an aura of tragedy, or continued on to musing intently to my surely-now-less-than-appreciative audience about misery, alienation and death, depending which scenario seemed more entertaining in my mind's eye.

Probably the latter, because it would have annoyed the shoppers being held up further in the queue behind me. In the event though, I (thankfully) kept all this within the confines of my skull, and left her still in a moment of levity.

Friday, 15 October 2010

On reading

I'm reading again. Reading a book, that is.

Earlier this year - May, I think - I stopped reading, before I'd finished a book. I was about a hundred pages in, and then lost the will to continue with it.

It wasn't the book itself that put me off reading any further, far from it: what put me off was a sudden dollop of Challenging Stuff in that there real life. It forced my attention onto other matters largely beyond my control and, crucially, I didn't want to associate a book which had such promising and intriguing qualities, with such a challenging time.

So I stopped reading because I felt I had to, and I was in a frame of mind in which (rightly or wrongly) I felt I wouldn't be able to find any refuge in such an activity.

So now, months later, I've started reading again. Not the same book - I'll come back to that, all in good time, it will be read - but one which feels appropriate to now. Which had to be the case, or I wouldn't have started again for a much longer time, I'm sure.

I'm not going to mention the book(s) in question, at least one of which will become the subject of a different post. The point, though, is that something has shifted - I can at least concentrate upon the act of reading again, I may well have finally incorporated or assimilated those aforementioned challenges to some degree.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

400 posts

I had a series of dreams the other night, each one had a different scenario with a connected theme: the sense of becoming aware of an alternative and very beautiful space, yet which had a dark element of some kind or another about which I/we (you know how it is in dreams, there's a bunch of people with you sometimes and you know who they are, but there's no way you can define them when it comes to explaining it all to someone else) had to be very wary.

In one such dream, "we" (see extended parenthesis above) found ourselves in an almost Eden-like place, lush and fantastic, and yet there was an individual there who was deviant and aiming to corrupt. Despite the obvious reference, there were no Biblical allusions - not least since we decided to take direct action and spent most of the dream pursuing him, lynch-mob-style, shouting "WANKER PATROL! WANKER PATROL!" repeatedly.

When I remembered this the following day, I burst out laughing, but it wasn't appropriate to explain why to the company I was keeping.

I Misread a Sign today, for the first time in a while, on a leaflet I saw somewhere. What I read was

Think about your excrement

Whereas it was actually

Think about your retirement.

What I do think, is that I would be an analyst's dream (but not like my dream as detailed above) at the moment. But I shan't ramble on about such things more than I already have, that would feel just a little too indulgent.

So that's what I write about in my my 400th published post. Typical.

I shall treat (!) you to a self-portrait: I'm in the pub.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Not just a walk in the park

The weather, in London at least, was unseasonably good at the weekend. It's rare that I get to spend any more time than the odd day here and there in the capital, so it was a blessing that, apart from a dull Saturday morning, it was all warmth and sunshine.

Then again, we seem to get fine weather with sufficient regularity at this time of year, that it's perhaps no longer accurate to use terms such as "unseasonable". I remember being quite startled one afternoon in late October, back in the mid 90s (the decade, not the temperature), that it was warm enough not only to sit outside and have a pint, but that it was practically t-shirt weather as well, even as the sunlight was starting to fade.

That was during a weekend in London, coincidentally, and I remember thinking that being down south was surely a factor in the relative warmth so late in the year. These days - whether there or further north - it's a much more familiar, less startling scenario all round.

There could be (and probably are) any number of reasons why I was descending into such a rubbish mood as I strolled through Hyde Park last Saturday, but it wasn't due to the weather. A gorgeous, warm afternoon with bright sunlight, which began to gain a delightfully soft and hazy aspect as time wore on. Plenty of people were around but there was so much open space that it felt calm and quiet.

I strolled over to my destination, the Serpentine Gallery, and picked up a guide to the show of works by Anish Kapoor which are installed in nearby locations.
My mood quickly and definitely lifted as I spent a good chunk of time in apprehension of this piece, initially, and then pondered and explored the remaining three pieces. Their monumentality combined with their reflective (both literally and metaphorically) qualities drew me in, and I greatly enjoyed the adventure of heading from one to the next.I felt like I could have stayed for many more hours, not least since the slowly fading afternoon light imbued the whole place with a gentle, meditative atmosphere.

I had other things to do later on that evening, however, so with a mixture of anticipation tinged with slight reluctance, I headed out of Kensington Gardens. Needing a rest for a while, I had a very contented couple of pints at a pub across the road. It was still warm enough to sit outside and drink in the atmosphere as fully as possible, as afternoon slowly became evening.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I love this song, it has a certain majesty and melancholy, and is very much a pop song.

That's all.