Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Last few conscious thoughts in November

Before my ears start to ring, I've turned the laptop and all the music software and various bits of equipment off. Immediately after I last posted on here, on Saturday morning, I spent a while on the music: as if to prove the thrust of that post wrong, I was very quickly in the middle of it all and making a few leaps forward, and having a great time with it.

Tonight's work has left me feeling altogether less satisfied, but for all the leaps and bounds there are many sessions like this one: valuable in that I've retained continuity, but otherwise less decisive or inspiring, or indeed inspired.

One of the reasons for me to pick up my various sound-generating devices and programs this evening was to consciously put a few daytime cares out of my mind for a while, and therein also lay the value. There have been tempers, tears and despair at work both today and yesterday. Not mine, I may add, though that's not to make any claims for some kind of resilience on my part. Nor am I unaffected by seeing what others are going through: I can readily recognise the anxieties, tribulations and doubts that I'm witnessing in a couple of key colleagues: I've known those things well enough myself, recently enough, and hardly consider myself immune from any fresh inroads that they may attempt on me at any given point in the future.

The 1st of December always makes me think of the same date in the mid-1970s ('75, perhaps) when I was eager to get to school, since I knew that we'd be starting to do Christmas-themed things: making decorations, reading stories and so on. The weather was as cold and icy as it is now and I remember approaching the school, walking at an incautious pace despite my mother's gentle reproaches. Sure enough I slipped on the ice and my excitement turned to tears, at least until my mother had got me up off the floor, consoled me and ensured I took more care for the remaining steps of the journey.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Looking in

I'm not sure where, if anywhere, this post is going to go. But I feel compelled to write about something.

It stems, in part, from childhood memories, let's say from around the mid-70s. That something is represented by the pub. More specifically, about the fact that I couldn't go into the pub - nor would I have necessarily wanted to. But the pub was a domain which resonated with mystery, with grown-up things, with things which were other and separate and about which I could only imagine.

Most pubs then, at least as far as memory serves, had high windows (no doubt that's more about the fact that I was knee-high to your average grown-up) and frosted glass. The latter in particular fuelled this sense of otherness - bright lights or dim lights, amorphous shapes moving around accompanied by the sound of chatter, laughter and music in the background.

The pub seemed like a gateway to an adult world, where people talked about grown-up things. Where they could spend some of the money they'd earned at work (another unimaginable concept for me at the time).

I imagine the talk to be of the politics of the day: miner's strikes, power cuts, the three-day week, OPEC, the EEC (the "Common Market") - or more frequently, about the football, last night's television, a smattering of gossip and a serving of bawdy humour on the side. All dressed up in the attitudes and mores of the day. Over a pint of Mansfield, or Double Diamond maybe.

I couldn't imagine entering that world. In fact, as far as my local pub (from where I grew up, and occasionally revisit) is concerned, I still feel slightly self-conscious when I happen to walk in there. Plus I've still never ever gotten over the novelty of walking into any pub or bar and ordering a pint of ale.

But I suppose it's not really about the specifics (nor about the nostalgia), and more the sense of access - or lack of - to something other, something esoteric. Something tantalising perhaps, due to a combination of proximity (eg being able to peer through the frosted glass) and distance (the same frosted glass acting as a barrier).

I remember the feeling though, akin to what I've described above, aged 21. There was a school reunion at the local welfare, and I remember standing at the top of the stairwell and suddenly halting at the (again) frosted glass doors. There was a different sense of the other at this point - I had moved to the city and was in the middle of my art college days. I had long straggly hair, ripped jeans, outsize, baggy jumpers and all the rest, and knew I would stick out like a sore thumb when I walked in to see my old school mates. I stood there, hesitant, wondering whether I might even just turn and walk back home.

Then, as it happened, SJ turned up, and he was dressed in old army stores gear, big Dr Marten boots, and his hair was a jubilant mass of dreadlocks. He boldly strolled into the function room and I followed him, suddenly not feeling quite so other.

The underlying point to these musings is, I think, that the combination of barriers and gateways - both real and imaginary - is something which has permeated my outlook.

One barrier to my creative side, I've realised, is that to fully immerse myself in it and in what it requires, to fully get into the flow of it, often requires a leap: a leap which takes me from the outside looking in - a view which shows one's ideas and methods in a diffuse and rather abstract light - into being right in the centre and fully, intuitively conversant in it all, to a different and more fluent (or fluid) relationship between the self and the realisation of those ideas.

Sometimes this leap is fairly easy. Sometimes it is aided by a sense of permission (hearing or seeing the work or approach of someone else which serves to lend a certain validity). Other times it's forced by sheer will, usually accompanied by the sound of me chiding myself to stop being so bloody silly.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


2 things:

My Grandmother is 95 today.

She's never owned a phone of any kind.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bar scenes

A week of immersion in these kinds of colours, and the atmosphere that they suggest, is a good week in my book.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Thank goodness for soft furnishings

It happened rather more quickly than I expected. Falling apart, that is. It happened yesterday afternoon.

I'd been for a bike ride, and for a while after that I felt a mixture of contentment and tiredness. I relaxed.

Well, I thought I relaxed. The tiredness took a greater hold and the contented feeling was replaced by agitation and unease and a whole bundle of dark, rather stressy thoughts. I tried to distract myself with a few things: a couple of programmes on iPlayer, a few small tasks here and there, but this thing really had me in its grip.

All this on a fine, clear Saturday afternoon with a whole week away from work (and, as of tomorrow, away from these shores) ahead of me. It was frustrating as much as anything, wanting to let go of it all but not being able to.

I knew I was probably dehydrated from the bike ride, and the water I drank took the edge off it a little bit, but I still wasn't ok. I was trying to dismiss the stressy stuff - none of it was anything that I could act upon or make any kind of difference to - but it wouldn't go away.

After another hour or so it felt just a little less intense. I decided I would treat myself, and went to the local curry house for a takeaway. Starter and main course.

Once home I realised just how incredibly hungry I was. I put the starter and the dips onto a plate and swiftly sat down and tucked in. Little pause between that and the main course. Wolfing it down like there was no tomorrow.

I felt tired again, but more of a pleasant, calm tiredness. With it came a steady easing of the stress, and a return of a sense of perspective and rationality: I was ok again, much more settled at last. I now feel like I can look forward to the week ahead, and make the most of it.

Maybe I needed to go through that mini-meltdown to come out the other side. Shed some work-related shite. Now it's time to properly relax and (gasp) enjoy myself.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Suddenly I remember what it's like.

I feel like I've worked non-stop this year. The breaks I've had, a few days here and there, have been during times when I've not been able to fully switch off, when things have been too intense. During one such break, for a few days back in May, a friend noted afterwards that I really wasn't my usual self.

No, I suppose I wasn't my usual self - I was trying my best, but was already carrying a lot of shit around at that point, and bracing myself for more (it was a good job I did brace myself too).

This will be the first full week - ie Monday to Friday, bracketed by the weekend on either side, that I've been away from work this year.

I'm ready, and suddenly I remember what it's like.

What it's like in the remaining days before a holiday, when the prospect of winding down for a little while is so close, so tantalizingly close...but just another day or so to go.

What it's like to start to unravel a little, to fall apart a little, because one can actually allow that to happen. In the working week such an occurrence feels like dysfunction, whereas having the space to fall apart a little is actually a luxurious one (in this particular context).

I've one more day to go. I'm in that crossover point. Not quite there, but straining to be there.

Whatever happens during the working day tomorrow (and these days I'd be a fool to be surprised by any eventuality, no matter how seemingly unlikely), the working day will end in the late afternoon regardless, and then I'll be there.

Then I can fall apart, and I'm looking forward to being able to.

I think I'm ready.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Thursday, 4 November 2010

This post..

..is a quiet post.

No complaints, no observations, no whining, no allusions or cryptic references.

Just quiet.

Sometimes, I like it like that.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Misreading the signs (I've lost count of what number we're on)

Misread on a display whilst out walking earlier:

Be risible this winter.

I'm sure that won't be difficult to achieve.