Friday, November 30, 2007


I love coincidences; I love it when coincidences seem to point towards a message; I don’t really care whether that message exists anywhere outside my own imagination; it is enough that it exists there.

I mentioned earlier – or linked to - a jazz trio called Acoustic Triangle. I have a CD, which is playing at the moment, by one of their number, a saxophonist by the name of Tim Garland. It’s called Made by Walking, and it takes its name from these words of Antonio Machado, quoted today by whiskey river:

"Your footsteps are the path, and nothing else;
there is no path, paths are made by walking.
Walking makes the path, and on looking back
We see a trail that never can be walked again.
Traveler, there is no path,
Only a wake in the sea.”


I’m listening to some wonderful, wonderful jazz by Gwilym Simcock, an astonishing young pianist I only heard of for the first time 2 days ago. I was in town yesterday and took the opportunity to buy his debut CD, plus another CD of a trio he’s in. It’s the kind of music which frees and expands your mind; listening to it, the world seems bigger, more open, with more possibilities.

I’m sat here in the office, headphones on. My tiny workspace - just three feet of a communal desk (we use huge tables seating four each side) – usually feels so cramped, with the bustle of the office crowding in on me. I often use headphones to shut myself off from this alien environment – alien to me, at any rate, although others seem to thrive in it – but this is different; this isn’t shutting off, it’s opening out; opening into a new world.

Goodness knows, I need that. The walls have been closing in lately; I’ve been living trapped in two bubbles – the house and the office – and anything which takes me beyond those is welcome indeed. Even the web and blogs have had a hard time trying to break through.

From Jazzwise magazine:
“At 26, he is, by common consent, a major star in the making and the most talked about young musician in British jazz for decades. In a relatively short space of time he has earned the admiration of both fans and fellow musicians alike. When he appeared on Spike Wells’ recent album Reverence, the veteran drummer, who knows a thing or two about pianists, said he thought Simcock was on track to become “the greatest pianist this country has ever produced.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just turned up 

Joe Riley at Panhala comes up trumps again:

The Resemblance Between Your Life and a Dog

I never intended to have this life, believe me -
It just happened. You know how dogs turn up
At a farm, and they wag but can't explain.

It's good if you can accept your life - you'll notice
Your face has become deranged trying to adjust
To it. Your face thought your life would look

Like your bedroom mirror when you were ten.
That was a clear river touched by mountain wind.
Even your parents can't believe how much you've changed.

Sparrows in winter, if you've ever held one, all feathers,
Burst out of your hand with a fiery glee.
You see them later in hedges. Teachers praise you,

But you can't quite get back to the winter sparrow.
Your life is a dog. He's been hungry for miles.
Doesn't particularly like you, but gives up, and comes in.

~ Robert Bly ~

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Job 

Same organisation
Same division
Same office
Different department
More work
More caffeine
I'm shattered...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A little light relief 

As you might have gathered, I've given up all pretence of being able to keep going with a post a day. However, this, from my email inbox, seemed worth sharing. After all, why shouldn't you be as puzzled as me...?

Count them and wait!
Count them again after the picture has changed . . .


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Day 23 

Since the present is devoid of anything post-worthy, as evidenced by having missed two days of this post-a-day ideal, I thought I’d turn to the past. Browsing through old photos, I came cross this one:

A less extreme application of photoshop (I use the term generically, as in hoovering - it was actually Serif's Photoplus that was used here) to the original than the one in this post, from nearly two years ago.

Throwaway line heard on Radio 4: 

"Musical education is so bad, schoolchildren believe a bassoon is the President of the United States".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 20: Dancing, and a spot of serendipity 

Postponed from day 18. If at first you don't succeed...

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WIDTH="320" HEIGHT="240" ShowControls="0" ShowStatusBar="0" ShowDisplay="0" autostart="1" loop="1">

(takes a while to buffer, but it will start...)

It's been one of those evenings where must-do takes precedence over want-to. The tail light on my motorbike has been playing up - sometimes on, sometimes off. It was only pointed out to me yesterday, by a motorist who used a surprisingly accurate form of words. He didn't say "It's not [switched] on" or "It's not working" - what he said was "You're not showing a tail light" - a statement that was 100% accurate and without any attempt at infering the cause. I'm always impressed by precise use of language... but I digress. I spent the evening fiddling with it; one of those annoying faults which is sometimes there, sometimes not.

Taking the bulb out is easy; getting to the rear of the bulb holder to examine the connections is not. Too many things to undo and remove before you can get to it. But there was no option unless I wanted to take the train tomorrow - which I didn't. To examine the bulb holder closely you have to take the whole lamp housing out; to get to the screws holding the lamp housing, you have remove the tail cover, and to remove the tail cover you have to remove the grab handles. It all sounds a bit like that song about the connected bones...

It was when I was looking on the shelf for the nut spinner to remove the final set of screws, having removed everything else first, that I spotted it; indeed my hand almost fell on it: a spare stop/tail bulb. It had no right to be there; that's not where I keep spare bulbs. But there it was, all the same; tucked away but come to light (!) at exactly the appropriate moment.

And would you believe it, that solved the problem. Nothng obviously wrong with the original one, but the contacts on the found one were just that little bit higher.

So fortune does smile, occasionally.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 19: On Conversation 

From Chris Corrigan today:

Not just any talk is conversation

"Just back from an amazing Art of Hosting in rural Pennsylvania. Found this in my email box upon my return, send to me by my friend Toke:

Not just any talk is conversation
Not any talk raises consciousness
good conversation has an edge
It opens your eyes to something
It quickens your ears

And good conversation reverberates
It keeps on talking in your mind later in the day;
The next day, you find yourself still conversing with what was said
The reverberation afterward is the very raising of consciousness
Your mind and heart have been moved
Your are at another level with your reflections.

– James Hillman

This is what it is all about."

I really miss that kind of conversation. I recognise it, I can remember the truth represented by every line above, but… but it doesn’t happen that way any more. Not for me.

“It doesn’t happen…” – how passive can you get? Am I just waiting for a ‘good’ conversation to drop out of the ether and inspire me? Isn’t conversation a two-person thing? Didn’t I once conclude that the one thing I wanted in my work, above all else, was to be able to build the kind of connections with other people which inspire, uplift, energise?

So why “doesn’t it happen?”

What does it take for this kind of conversation to happen? Time, space, freedom, trust, openness, compassion, a willingness to put self on one side and be open to the other; and also a real need, a hunger and thirst for this kind of connection. Perhaps only that latter; if you have that, wouldn’t it drive a path through all those other factors which get in the way? Wouldn’t it find a way to negate all those things which are the inverse of the preceding conditions above – time pressure, other activities and needs crowding in, mistrust, a felt need to be circumspect, fear?

But still, it doesn’t happen. I don’t make it happen. And I think the reason for that is that there’s a further condition I haven’t listed above – it needs a context, a reason beyond mere desire. It needs to be a means to an end, not just an end in itself (although David Bohm might have disagreed).

This is where it starts to get scary, starts to touch on things I’ve been shying away from. That kind of context – the kind in which real dialogue is both an end and a means - is something which grows out of vision, enthusiasm, passion; out of a sense of drive, of purpose.

Being brutally honest with myself, the reason I don’t get engaged in good conversation is that I have no purpose which needs it. Mere pleasure is not enough.

Like I said; scary.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day 18: Almost but not quite 

Well. I was hoping for another variation on filling space. Wasn't to be though; almost, but not quite. Having done still pictures and sounds, the logical next step is moving pictures; I did actually have something recorded using my digital stills camera - the very first time I've used the facilty (I neither own, nor have any wish to own, any kind of video camera). The camera records Quicktime files, so I found a format converter to Windows Media, but although it views okay directly, it seems Blogger doesn't like it.

Oh well, another day, perhaps.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 17: Theft 

So. I've raided the photo archive, scraped the bottom of the barrel with blurry cameraphone shots, posted links; now it's outright theft. I found this amazing pic when following links on something completely different (as you do...) to here.

And so we manage another day...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 16: Under Pressure 

A taste of the show, recorded live just two weeks ago today. I'm still recovering...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 15: Keeping going 

This post, I freely admit, is made with the sole purpose of continuing the post-every-day practice. My head yearns for the oblivion of sleep, and is simply too empty and tired to string together any more words than this poor handful.

I offer therefore, for your interest and amusement, three items from today’s news about animals with unusual travel habits – a swimming squirrel, a cat who insists on being collected by car the morning after a good night out (see also the short video news clip on that page), and another cat who could be straight out of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

I’ll try and do better tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 14: A wish almost come true 

I almost got my wish of Tuesday... All it needed was the Sound of Kerrera outside the office window, instead of the White City estate.

Cameraphone shot, West London, this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 13: Words and Pictures 

I had a training course in central London today. Not being sure of finding anywhere to park my motorbike, let alone somewhere secure, I opted to go on the train. This has two benefits – one, I get some thinking and writing time, and two, I can take my camera with me. If you want to find the link relating the words and pictures in this post, that is it; there is no other.

Like most people, I must dream every night, but it’s very rare for me to remember even the fact that I’ve dreamed at all, let alone any details. Last night though, I dreamed of someone I haven’t met in years, and almost certainly wont meet again. Now, there’s a line in ‘We Will Rock You’ (after playing for a total of nearly 30 performances including rehearsals, the band could quote just about the entire script) where Scaramouche says to Galileo “Believe me Gazza, there’s nothing – and I mean nothing – more boring than when someone tells you their dream”. So I’ll spare you the details, and just mention the general theme. This person I dreamed of was my boss for a while – the best boss I ever had in fact, and a real inspiration to me in so many ways. She had intelligence, drive, penetrating clarity of thought, yet also compassion, humanity, integrity, warmth, humour… sounds perfect, doesn’t she?

I only worked for her for 6 months or so, about ten years ago, but we kept in touch for several years after that, meeting up once in a while for chats that would last for hours, covering every subject under the sun, both of us oblivious to the passing of time (like the occasion meeting after work one day in central London, when I nearly missed the last train home at around midnight). But the link between us was built largely on a working relationship whose pivotal point lay in the past; as time went on and we went our separate ways, that common point became further and further away and so those occasional reunions ceased.

It was only about six years ago that I last saw her, but it seems a lifetime away; it feels as though I was different person then. Enthusiastic, inspired, with great hopes for the future; just beginning to believe in myself, to believe in possibility, in hope, and in Making Things Happen. Much of that came from her; she bridged the gap between impossibly idealistic fantasy-hopes and the hard reality of bringing a wish into concrete existence.

I wondered why, after all these years, she should surface again in my dreams (and before you ask, no it wasn’t that kind of dream. Shame on you!) True, those times stay in my mind, as a benchmark of possibility, of What Could Be, but like I said, those times are also history, more and more remote, and seemingly irrelevant to my life nowadays.

But there is a connection, which may be what triggered the old memory. Last night, I was working late on some reports – progress of technical projects. It’s rare for me to stay at work late, but there were deadlines I had to meet. And that is very similar to what I was doing ten years ago – working to tight deadlines on corporate performance reports.

The dream was like a tunnel in time through which I saw up close the person I felt I was ten years ago; saw once more the possibility of inspiration, of confidence, of self-assurance; and the slate of future possibility blank, awaiting my writing upon it. All of those things have been sadly lacking in me lately – I’ve fallen into bad habits of compliance, obedience, aloofness; no challenging, no questioning, little true engagement. But for a moment, in the dream, I reconnected with that earlier energised self.

Thanks, Sue.

The photos incidentally were all shot within a few minutes walk of Oxford Circus; London has such delightful hidden corners.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 12: Frazzled. 

Very long day at work, going cross-eyed over multiple spreadsheets; rather late home. Another day resorting to holiday snaps in order to keep the one-post-a-day going (a practice, btw, which I am beginning to appreciate). Wish I could see a soothing sunset like this, the gorgeous view from our hotel room window in Oban:

Wish too that the autofocus on my camera could manage better in conditions like that. Or that my eyesight was good enough to get a usable result with the apology for manual focus.

I thought I’d got sorted, by locking focus on an object sufficiently far away to be near enough to infinity (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) but near enough to be clear enough to actually get a focus. But no; this was about the clearest –I had a dozen or so with very fluffy clouds indeed. Some very like a whale, too; a pink whale...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 11: Flipped. 

Completely barking. Must be; posting pictures of plumbing???

We stayed in some interesting places during our tour of Scotland this summer; so much so that we photographed all the interiors, bedrooms and bathrooms.

This, characterful though it seems, is all glitz. A mere replica, albeit appropriate to the period:

This, however, is the real McCoy. All bar the plastic-covered hose, that is. It must be; the handle was so stiff it took two hands to move it:

I just couldn't resist recording such an elegant bathroom accessory. Anyway, it reminded me of my childhood - we had one just like that.

There, I've kept the one-a-day going for another day. Normal programming will be resumed as soon as possible...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day 10: Remembrance 

Ever since August this year, the South Asia page of the BBC News website has been one of the first I visit, always with a touch of apprehension, when I turn the computer on before breakfast. My oldest son, J., is on six month tour of duty in Afghanistan. He’s not a regular soldier, but he’s in the Territorial Army (TA) – the volunteer reserve. “Weekend soldiers”, they’re sometimes rather disparagingly called, but they also serve as equals alongside their full-time counterparts wherever the British Army has a presence.

Usually on Remembrance Sunday, I’ll just go along as usual to the local Methodist Church where I’m a member, but today it seemed appropriate for us to go a few miles down the road to Barnet where his TA group hosts the parade to the war memorial for all the local uniformed organisations who traditionally take part, and then attend with them the service at the Anglican church.

I always feel uncomfortable about the link between church and warfare which this day in the calendar exposes. The common factor between the two I suppose is nationhood, reflected in the opening words of the traditional Remembrance Day prayer: “Let us remember before God and commend to his sure keeping: those who have died for their country in war…” – one of the reasons perhaps why I’ve never felt drawn to the Church of England, preferring always the non-conformist denominations. You cannot serve two masters; but more of that later.

War is bad; remembrance is good. Keep those two ideas separate and you may stay sane. Unfortunately though, they are inextricably linked. The vicar did not, to my mind, do a particularly effective job of exploring this paradox – he kept his blinkers firmly in place, sticking to the traditional straight and narrow. Far easier on such day, and in such company - and, to be fair, probably more appropriate - to put aside the difficult questions about war, and focus instead on the sacrifices made by millions. That, after all, is why we were there. All the same, he treads on dangerous ground when he hints at the idea of nobility of sacrifice, and draws parallels with the very root of Christian faith – the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Did the soldiers of Passchendaele feel such nobility? I doubt it very much. It is something we have devised after the event – in truth, as a way of honouring them, nevertheless by thinking in such terms we risk moving a step down the road to the glorification of war.

My father took a very simple line. He was a devout Christian, and knew that for him, the authority of God came above the authority of any man – even a three-star general. And God had said quite plainly (or would have said, had he delivered the clay tablets to King James instead of Moses) “Thou shallt not kill”. Some translators have rendered this as “Thou shallt do no murder”, but whatever the original clay tablets may have recorded, for my father, the traditional interpretation of the command was absolute and beyond doubt. His allegiance was first to God, second to fellow men and women; nations and generals came a long way down the list.

He wasn’t prepared in any circumstances to kill, so instead, as the most appropriate way he could think of to serve both God, his fellow men and even the generals, he volunteered to train as a battlefield medic – probably a role equally as dangerous as a front-line soldier. But he’d still be a soldier, and would have to carry a rifle, which he could be ordered to use. And if that happened, he would inevitably refuse, equally inevitably be court-martialled, and so bring shame, dishonour and hardship on his family. So he took the only remaining course of action open to him – he registered as a conscientious objector, and joined the Non-Combatant Corps.

This was no ideological ivory tower, either. He wasn’t simply anti-war, he was actively pro-peace, at the level where such ideals can have most impact – personally, in his relationships with everyone around him. He lived as an active peacemaker, always seeking reconciliation and harmony, sometimes at great emotional cost to himself.

So here I am; son of a conscientious objector, father of a serving soldier. Where does that place me? Perhaps inevitably, I’ve inherited some of my father’s peacemaking qualities, and in seeking reconciliation that means I can see both sides of the coin.

However unpleasant the notion may be, I feel bound to accept that the evidence of all recorded human history is that the waging of warfare is intrinsic to the human race. It’s a safe bet that in all the tens of thousands of years for which humankind has existed in organised social groups, somewhere over the globe, every single year, wars have been fought between those groups. Much as we would wish it otherwise, it would be foolish to expect next year, or the year after, to be any different from those tens of thousands of preceding years. Hope, yes; work towards, certainly; expect, no.

And from that simple premise, builds in one swift stroke the entire global military edifice. It’s part of humanity, as inhuman as that sounds. So, what if I were called to be a part of that edifice?

It’s a question I sometimes ponder. I don’t know the answer.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 9 Bonus: The Street Art of Kurt Wenner 

Thirty fabulous high-res images for your delectation here.

Awesome is a much over-used term, but its presence is, to my mind, entirely justified in the title of this article about the artist.

Hat tip to Kenju for the link.

Day 9: Christmas Cactus 

Another view here

Friday, November 09, 2007

Day 8: Another filler 

Too tired tonight for any words; another picture will have to suffice.

The shot from which this was taken was snapped during a preprandial stroll round the ancient town walls of Berwick-on-Tweed, an overnight stop on our way back from our summer hols in Scotland. An unremarkable original, quite literally a snapshot - stop, click, move on (the sun was going down, the wind getting up, and dinner was calling...) - but it did have enough promise to turn into what I thought I saw, at any rate in my mind's eye.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 7: On orchestra pits, RSS readers, and efficiency vs effectiveness 

We played the show for two weeks at two different theatres. At the first, the orchestra pit was only just over a foot deep – just enough that our heads, when seated, were below the level of the stage. We could still see all the action on the stage, and between us and the audience there was only a low curtained partition so we could see them – at least in part - and they us.

For the second week though, we were in a fully-fledged orchestra pit which ran under the front of the stage (complete with lift, which could move the entire front part of the pit floor from pit to auditorium to stage level; regrettably, we weren’t allowed to ride it and arise, Wurlitzer-like, from the depths). We could see only head and shoulders of the cast when they stood at the very front of that stage – which they were understandably reluctant to do as there was a 9 foot drop into the pit. The audience was completely invisible to us.

What a contrast that physical separation made. Never mind 5 feet deep – the pit might as well have been 50 feet deep; the band felt disconnected from both cast and audience for that second week. There was something vital missing; with much less feeling of involvement – of being part of the show – we could have been playing in a studio.

(I have to confess though that the second week’s arrangement wasn’t altogether without its advantages. Like passing round a tin of chocs between songs; being able to yawn luxuriously as burning-the-candle-at-both-ends took its toll; taking breaks to stretch legs – the show runs for 3 hours, including the interval).

Blogging through an RSS reader is a bit like the downside of that second week. It was the promise of connection with like-minded souls which first drew me into blogging and sustained me for the first couple of years. But using an RSS reader is like being in that second orchestra pit. You still hear the sounds, but you’re a step removed from them, and from the responses. Reading posts in a reader, I don’t read the comments so often, hence don’t get engaged in the conversations.

It may be efficient, but it’s not very effective. Writing one post a day only addresses part of the issue of rejuvenating this blogging practice; some more changes around here are called for.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day 6: Pictorial interlude 

I only had the 1 megapixel camera on my phone, and the highlights are decidely clipped; this is the best I could do to try and extract a sense of one of the finest examples of crepuscular rays I've seen for a long time. Fingers of light in a slow dance...

The view is from the office windows, looking out over west London. The Towers on the left are the lights at Queens Park Rangers football ground.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Day 5: Innocence 

I have an altogether happier roadside scene for you to imagine today.

You know that classic image of the proud mother duck with her brood of ducklings strung out in a line behind her, paddling energetically along, distracted momentarily by all the interesting sights and sounds all around, then paddling hastily back to her side, not wanting to get too far separated from their mother?

And you know how sometimes duck and ducklings will cross roads together – they even have roadsigns marking their favourite crossing places?

Well, there was this rather elegant young lady cycling serenely along the pavement – straight back, head erect, hair tucked under a loose cap, long black leather boots over designer jeans, and in close formation behind her was her brood, on little scooters. Only two of them, but arranged neatly in descending height order, with the littlest at the back bustling earnestly along, falling behind awhile – just like a baby duckling - then putting on a spurt to catch up.

I glimpsed them briefly as I passed by, then got stuck waiting to pull out across a busy main road. They caught up, and I waited whilst they crossed the road directly in front of me.

It was such a delightful scene, a happy little bubble of family togetherness floating gently through the noise and pressure and dirt and smell of an urban rush hour – the effect on me was just as soothing as if it really had been a family of ducks crossing he road. I’ve carried the image with me all day; I wish I could have told her.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 4: An exercise in anger (mis?)management 

Consider yourself in this role: you’re a young woman, probably in your mid 30s. You’re driving your two young children to school, in your big black 4WD status symbol. It’s great having a 4x4 – you can see over the tops of all those other little vehicles, people get out of your way, and you know that if you should happen to be involved in a collision, you’re well protected and the other car is almost bound to come off worse. It’s big and heavy, but it’s an automatic so it does all the hard work for you.

Your road is only a country lane, and the quickest way to the school is to go down a busy dual carriageway. You pull up and wait for a gap in the traffic. Just in front is a motorcyclist, also waiting. It’s a cold morning – the coldest so far this year; only just above freezing - and the auto choke is causing the engine to rev higher than normal tickover, so unless you hold your foot on the brake, the car creeps forward.

You’re very close to the motorcyclist, but your car is so big and boxy, and the wing higher than the bike, so you can’t really see just how close you are. Without thinking, you take your foot off the brake ready to move off. Unexpectedly, the car suddenly lurches forward and, unseen by you, your front wing knocks hard into the panniers on the bike. Bike and rider are thrown to the ground.

You’re horror struck; you had no idea you were that close. And now the motorcyclist has picked himself and is walking menacingly towards you, his body language shouting anger at you. You’re terrified; you don’t know what to do, you just sit there, frozen in horror. He vents some his anger by taking a swipe at your door mirror, knocking it out of line. His face is inches from yours, the other side of the window, but hidden behind dark glasses under his helmet. Still you sit, petrified, unable to move, but tears streaming down your face. Now he’s hammering with his fist on the window, swearing and shouting insults at you, yelling at you to wind the window down.

You do so, and suddenly the words come in a rush “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry – I could have killed you”. He continues ranting for a while, then turns away to pick up his bike, and takes off his helmet and dark glasses. He turns towards you, and you see with some surprise that he’s not the archetypal young tearaway you imagined behind those dark glasses; the eyes that stare into yours are, for the moment, hard and cold, but show also a level of human experience and understanding which only comes with years. He may be angry, but he’s not about to assault you. Your relief though is minimal. How could such an ordinary morning have gone so wrong?

You’ve guessed, of course, that the motorcyclist was me. No, I wasn’t hurt – after all, I only fell sideways and I had full protective clothing on - and as far as I can tell, the bike suffered only superficial damage – a scratched mirror housing, scratched engine protector, and a bent gear shifter. I guess I was lucky though not to get a foot trapped under the bike. I apologised to the young woman for my language and for shouting at her; she was much, much more shaken up by it all than I was. “Take care” I said as she turned to go back to her car and her children after we’d exchanged details, and I meant it. All the same, I also meant it when I said I hoped it was a lesson to her, and in that context perhaps my anger and her fear will help drive that lesson home.

It worries me sometimes just how much suppressed anger I find in myself in situations like this. I express anger so rarely; I think what must happen is that the small amounts of unexpressed anger somehow accumulate until something triggers a volcanic explosion.

What made me angry in this case was the senselessness of it all –it was entirely avoidable, and entirely her fault. Now I have to report it to my insurance company, and on every form that asks “Have you had any accidents, claims or convictions in the last five years?” I shall also report it to the police, as her front number plate was missing, meaning that she was breaking the law.

Righteous indignation is all very well, but I may have overstepped the mark. All in all, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Day 3: In which Dr Jekyll is revealed as a blogger 

Prologue: As I sit down to write, I notice that familiar pressure – an urgency to get something - anything - down onto the page, a drive which hammers on past the ephemeral wisps of ideas coalescing at the edge of consciousness. I see these only as simple, bold, primary colours, missing their subtle shades. I become a hammer, forcing my thoughts into the form of nails; hard, defined, purposeful.

What was today’s thought? Jekyll and Hyde, I called myself a couple of days ago, thinking of my parallel lives of office worker and bass player in a rock musical. But of course, Stevenson’s famous novel (which I confess I’ve never read) is about a much darker side to the human psyche than a simple dual role.

I may be no Mr Hyde, but when you hear me talking about ending this blog, it is my dark side that is talking; a self-destructive demon, probably present to a greater or lesser degree in all of us. It’s engaged in a constant struggle with my “white knight” rational controlling self; mostly it is the latter which has the upper hand; the dark side never really expects to be victorious, nevertheless it is constantly probing its opponent’s defences, attacking any signs of weakness – of which there are many.

So when I referred to “make or break time”, it was with the foreknowledge that, strong though the dark side demon may be, the white knight is stronger and will win – and therefore has in a sense already won – the battle. (And that last is a sentence on which, I think, I would do well do dwell…)

I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve dreamed up closing posts to this blog. A few have got as far as paper, but none was ever posted. Deeper than the feelings of anger, frustration, inadequacy, fear – or just plain lethargy – is the knowledge that for our health we humans need to connect and communicate, just as we need air and water.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Day 2 

Up against time pressures. The cast crew and band went out for a curry after the show last night, which meant I didn't get home until nearly 2am. Saturday chores just finished now; 2 shows today meaning I'll be out from 5 mins time to gone midnight. Eating today got missed out somewhere along the line.

BUT I'm committed to the one-a-day plan. Not much today, but hopefully more tomorrow plus some replies to the comments from yesterday - I think I must have given a more negative tone in yesterday's post than I thought. Tomorrow I'll try and explain that. Must dash now.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Jean tells me its NationalBlogPostingMonth.

Maybe this is make-or-break time for this blog. I know I’m down to a number regular readers who can be counted on the fingers of one hand; heaven only knows why even those loyal few remain, as I offer them so little. Although this blog isn’t yet quite dead, it can hardly be said to be alive. So, for the next month, I plan to attempt a post a day, and see if a little exercise can’t rejuvenate those flagging blogging muscles before they waste away completely.

Write every day; write what you know; write from the heart. Okay, so I’m intending to tick off the first part of that well-known writerly advice. How about the rest?

What I know is that I feel by turns utterly weary and manically busy, flipping between the two with no space between them for the kind of observation and reflection which yields worthy blog material. The last fortnight has been something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde existence – by day a conventional office worker and by night a wannabe rock star - except that I don’t really want to be a rock star at all. The shows are great fun, albeit exhausting, but whilst I might put a tape of Queen songs on in the car (yes, some of us still use those quaint old magnetic-tape-cassette thingys - my car is old enough that at the time of its manufacture, in-car CD players were a distinct luxury item) such wouldn’t be my first choice for stimulating the musical corners of my brain. Mind you, there is something very satisfying about being able to feel the floor vibrate at the touch of a single finger on a bass guitar string, when played through the theatre’s 8 enormous speaker cabinets. Boy’s toys…

Last week’s trip to see the exhibition of Henry Moore's sculptures at Kew Gardens was a rare and welcome exception to that non-stop manic activity. It would qualify perfectly for one of Julia Cameron’s artist’s dates, as recommended in The Artist’s Way; it’s not hard to see the cumulative value of taking time out to stimulate the creative processes. I only took few snapshots but I could easily have spent many hours exploring the photographic possibilities.

There were notices up asking children not to climb on the sculptures. Not, I suspect, because the sculptures would come to any harm – it would take more than a child’s touch to damage monumental bronze – more to protect the proprietors from lawsuits brought by parents of children injured by using an archetypal Moore reclining form as a slide. However, not many parents or children seemed to take great deal of notice, and watching one group of 6-year-olds chase around and through the loops and crevices of yet another reclining form, I realised they were appreciating the three-dimensional forms in a way unavailable to an adult twice their size and with many times more than twice their inhibitions.

Time up. Manic-busy-time calls again. Back tomorrow.