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Showing posts from 2016

Convolutions, resolutions and a Roman God.

In a few hours - and fewer hours by the time you get to the end of this procrasti-ramble - it will be another year. 2016 will be in the past and 2017 will open its doors and lie before us. Which is all pretty obvious really. This being 31st December. What perhaps isn't so obvious are the hopes and aspirations we invest in this passing into the New Year. The promises that we wish upon ourselves and that we call resolutions. Brief intermission in the ramble for a picture of the end of a winter's day The New Year's Resolution is a gift in the hands of a procrastinator. Hours ... no, days ... spent planning exactly what to pick; which dissatisfaction with oneself to correct; which dream to commit to; which impossible ambition to clamber towards. Note the words dissatisfaction, dream and impossible and call me a cynic. Or a realist. Or a resolution agnostic. Why do we accede to the annual resolution humiliation? Where and when did resolution-making start? Why do I h

Doing a Kim

Doing a Kim Kardashian will go down in our family annals as a moment when my embarrassment was acute and I managed to make everyone in the room ache with laughter. Proper belly laughs. Holding of sides. Tears running down cheeks. Collapsed back into chairs or rolling on the floor. Yup - proper rocking from side to side rolling. For what felt like minutes but was probably only ... minutes. My face hurt with the intensity of the laughing and burned with all-consuming embarrassment. Kim Kardashian it said. The paper scrap I'd drawn from the pot. Kim. Kardashian. Describe her in three words. Actions allowed. Ums and ehs and erms all contributing to the three word rule. A huge dinner was nestling inside my tummy. With rather too many glasses of bubbles, then wine, then pudding and more pudding. Kim. Kardashian. In three words. Easy? Well - yes; probably. Unless. Unless. Unless you make the near-fatal mistake of thinking it would be a good idea to stand up and mime the

Lists and listing. And being an FCP.

Are you a writer of lists? I used to be an avid list writer. If pushed, I'll still write one now. I have pads of paper that prompt list writing; my favourite is headed 'This Week ... or next ...' which sums me up perfectly. An average procrastinator will put off the listed activities to another week, another time, another dimension, perhaps. A fully committed procrastinator - or FCP - will put off the writing of the list! I am an FCP ... most of the time - carrying around bits of lists in my head; forgetting to do the things I might have remembered if I had written them down; and, until I am reminded, remaining blissfully ignorant of my many failings. Many failings that are obvious only if categorised and the only way to categorise them would be to write them down. So, as I am not going to list them and I defy anyone else to, perhaps those failings, ultimately undocumented ... or unlisted, can be forgotten. Who, apart from someone with narcissistic tendencies, wants to ma

The giggle-monger, Christmas, many feet and trying to worry enough.

What makes you happy? What makes me happy? Finding good words written on a page; discovering adventure in a book and not turning back; laughing and calling my daughter a Giggle-Monger and finding that she liked it and laughing more; shopping for presents; eating too much food in good company; planning Christmas and remembering Christmases past when little hands decorated the tree with a skirt of decorations, all at 1-2 feet above ground level and the top of the tree bare; cooking a feast; sharing the feast; hugs; ice-cream ... always ice-cream; and chocolate; a pale crisp white wine or a fruity beaujolais, and feet. No, not the smelly, hair-sprouting, thick nailed sort. No. Definitely not! The fall of feet - the feet of my children and their friends and our friends and family - as they walk into our home and do a soft-foot-settling-contented-happy shuffle. On my floors. Feet. Feet on floors. The footfall of passing lives. Here. At home. At Christmas. But ... but ... but ...

#amwriting - a book review. Perfect word mixology and not giving up.

Whisper to the wind, ' This is how to write.' No, not these inexpertly assembled procrasti-rambles but words discovered in a book that I have been promising myself I would read for many, many months and have now started. My ascent so far has taken me to chapter 4. What a journey those first chapters have been! I am daily transported to India. All its scents, noises, lights, people, traffic, food, grime, poverty, politics, fabrics, fruits, spirits, humanity, hysteria, tragedy, faith, prostitution, drugs, hospitality, bribery, corruption, travel, cosmopolitan enlightenment, tolerances and intolerances in just four chapters; sixty or so pages. A portrait of a place so immersive and with characters so bright that they light up each page with the intense shine of their being. Reality is not merely being created for the reader - this setting and its characters live and breathe (even if some of them are fictional). What a lesson in how to write! I don't remember now

Broadband, memories of a weekend, a flame fairy and why we shouldn't worry.

Broadband.  What is it? We take it for granted. We think we sort of know what it is. Do we? A ...  broad ...    band ...  ? Broad as in wide? As in encompassing a wide range of frequencies. The frequencies of multiple messages that, because the band  is  indeed wide, can be transmitted simultaneously. Or not. When it fails, picture a band that's so broad it frays and curls in on itself at the edges; rolling itself up into a tight constipated tube that no information - even information backing up like logs behind a beaver dam - is ever going to burst through.  Broadband at its most basic is simply electrons bumping into each other. It inhabits the earth and the air in a variety of forms, a broadband spectrum of electron collisions, if you like. In my imagined spectrum, there's SS broadband - the  s low,  s tuttering but mostly working variety.  This is almost but not quite as bad as FaFFF broadband - the type that  f alter

New York state of mind

My goodness, jet lag does funny things to your head. One minute you're functioning fine: you can hold a conversation; remember people's names; have a pretty good idea what time it is, even correctly guess the day; begin to understand the enormity of the political landscape in the country you are visiting; read a book, and (almost) manage to navigate without causing a major fall-out. The next (and it can literally be the next) minute you are unable to decide what to wear and realise you have been staring blankly at the suitcase for ten minutes; you have no idea if you told your host a particular anecdote earlier; you stand in front of a written description of a painting at a gallery and realise that on the third reading you have still failed to process any of the words, and you come over all  my goodness  using words that you normally only observe spoken by the very young.  And you start taking photographs of buildings and pavements and paintings and wonder if that's no

Autumn or Fall or whatever you want to call it. In England this week and somewhere else next

'Summer has o'er-brimmed' and we find ourselves in Keats' 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.' Of brambles, apples  and crumble. Of falling leaves. Long shadows And flaming sunsets 'Autumn settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favourite chair and fills the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he had done since he last saw you.' Stephen King  Stories ...  We find stories everywhere. And if we don't find them, we make them up. Stories for ourselves and stories for sharing. Usually, they are good stories.  But sometimes they are bad. Bad stories make me feel uncomfortable. And this autumn, I am a little uncomfortable. No, I don't mean a little uncomfortably shivery around the edges? It's not a the-nights-are-drawing-in-and-we're-holding-out-like-we-do-every-year-til-November-to-put-the-heating-on seasonally induced uncomfortable. Nor is it uncomfortably starting to co

The art of storytelling; Caravaggio, Pinter and a Bear of Very Little Brain.

A life without stories would be impossible. Look for something that doesn't have a story and resign yourself to never finding it. A grain of sand on a beach; a petal on a flower; the broken handle on my cup; the rusted rivet in a metal bridge; and the gum stuck to the pavement, all have a story. Everything does - there's the how did it get there; where did it come from; who put it there; what happened to bring it in front of me at this precise time? What is a story? Story - definition: a true or fictitious account of a sequence of events and characters; its purpose being to entertain or inform. We constantly ask ourselves, what's the story? Or, what's in a story? Different questions, but essentially addressing the same thing: we like to know. And if we don't know, we like to make an attempt at explaining things - we pry, we wonder, we invent - who did that, why, where, what happened next? We fill in the gaps. Not always accurately. But we fill them anyway,

Something's missing. And a pedant in deep water with Canaletto.

According to Tate Modern - ART CHANGES WE CHANGE  I wonder if it's just me ... just me - the sufficiently pedantic one, who bothers to be bothered by this declaration? Everyone else simply walks on by. If they notice the words, perhaps they glance, read, shrug a 'yes, whatever' and walk on. Me - I glance, read and the words trigger an agitated avalanche; a silent screaming 'Whaaaaat?!' Surely, something's missing. Perhaps, a comma. Or any of the following: when, how, where, if, and, as.  All would fit. Wouldn't they? Or am I alone in my nit-picking, pernickety little world; worrying what these words mean? What the intent was behind displaying them large above the brick wall of the iconic Tate? What they are meant to say? But fail to say. Perhaps, the point is that different people will read different things into them. If they bother to read them at all. I'm still bothered, though, about what they mean to me. And what they clearly do

Sunset in pictures and a few words and a few quotes

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. Albert Camus Be my friend. Just take me for a walk. Please. Or I'll have to take myself for one. And then I won't have a friend - Four-legged-friend discovered yesterday that he could hold his lead in his mouth. It happened by accident. There was something dangling at mouth level that hadn't been there before so what was a dog meant to do. It tasted leathery and smelt of friends' hands. Then, he appeared to realise what exactly it was that he had in his mouth. And having never done this before, he brought it to us looking for our hands, as if to say take it and take me for a walk.  I thought you couldn't teach an old dog tricks. Four-legged-friend proved that wrong. Even if seven is not old old, it is pretty old in big-dog years. While Four-legged-friend was happy to walk with a friend, Bertie Baggins wa