Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ringing Out the Old.

Today I walked around the town where I used to live. I needed a loaf and went to the supermarket where I used to shop, only to find the windows boarded up and the place empty.

I shopped at that supermarket about three times a week for over nine years. It was only about a mile away so I used to walk, and I became very fond of the place. It was the only supermarket I ever got fond of. Nearly every time I went there I would see people I knew and stop for a chat. It was like going to the local pub. And now it’s closed. Sad.

Being Cryptic.

Days of wine and roses, eh? I'm more of a nectar and cherries man myself.

You don't understand that because you're not supposed to.

Present mood (why isn't there a 'present mood' facility on Blogger?)

48% confusion
48% tension
4% euphoria.

Life is a very strange bedfellow at the moment. Talking of which, I have to be up early.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Value of Wisdom.

Somebody said to me yesterday that one benefit of growing older is that it brings wisdom. My reply was ‘What use is wisdom?’ It seems to me that wisdom gives you two things:

1) It helps you to see the answers to a lot of life’s questions, only the answers aren’t actually solutions; they’re grey areas. So what you learn in many cases is that there aren’t any answers.

2) As you think you’re getting closer to finding answers, what you see beyond them is an ever growing horizon of further questions, until the number of new questions outweighs the ones for which you’ve found non-solution answers.

That’s really a lot of use, isn’t it? I think I’ll take the simple certainties, physical freedom and seemingly limitless potential of youth any time.

Being Wrong.

Blogger has been malfunctioning for nearly a week, but it seems I've found a (rather difficult) way to make a short post, so I just want to say this.

I can sometimes get things so very wrong!

Priestesses might wander, but they don't stop being priestesses. Love might hurt, but it doesn't stop being love. True beauty doesn't stop being beautiful because it's soiled itself by walking in a slurry pit. Connections don't stop being connections just because a tree fell across the road.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Shame, Mr President.

During the state visit to America by the British Royal Family, Barack Obama said that the Queen ‘symbolised the best of England.’ Two things struck me.

First of all, I wondered what he meant by that, since I would be inclined to disagree. Well, it seems he was impressed by her graciousness. Ah, so that’s it. As I see it, ‘graciousness’ in political terms consists of practiced politeness, assumed superiority, and being hidebound by a mass of complex and often pointless codes of behaviour. Best of England indeed.

What is of more concern, however, is what the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland thought of his pronouncement. The Queen is their queen too, her son is Prince of Wales, her husband Duke of Edinburgh. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t in England. Wouldn’t you think that someone of Obama’s standing would have learned the difference between England and Britain by now? We forgave Bush anything, since he was just a puppet clown without a brain of his own, but we expected Obama to be a bit above that sort of thing.

Charity Anybody?

I’ve always tried my best to find what I need to find and do what I need to do. One result has been that I’ve given up or moved away from a lot of things, either because I thought they were wrong or because they didn’t interest me any more. It’s left a hole that I could do with filling. Emotional and material austerity weighs heavy sometimes.

So now I have a cunning plan, but I need about £20,000 to bring it off. Here’s the provisional itinerary:

Berlin, Bangkok, Sydney, California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania/Jersey (Philly is just across the river, I believe.) I might even rest for a while in one of them, and others might get added when my brain gets into gear.

Anybody got £20,000 they don’t want?


Not the best of days. There are two people with whom I would relish a conversation tonight, and neither is available. The blog won’t do. Be grateful. Back soon, computer permitting.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sinatra Again.

'And here is the best part. You have a head start...'

I wonder whether staying young at heart is such a good thing. It can blind you to reality, so maybe an enforced change of mindset is called for. If I do that, I shall almost certainly age faster and probably die sooner. It isn’t the latter that bothers me, it’s the stagnant grey water I shall have to sail between now and then. I did middle age in my twenties and early thirties. I really don’t want to go back there.


A woman asked me to marry her today. I said:

‘Depends on why you want me to. Is it so you can get a British passport? I’m no stranger to colonial machinations, you know.’

‘No. It’s because you’re amazing and scrumptious and I can’t stand being apart from you any longer.’

‘Oh, right. OK.’

‘OK what?’

‘OK, I’ll marry you.’

‘I’m not joking.’

‘Me neither.’

This is fiction. My computer is still playing up, but I can still joke. Now, that’s what I call resilience.

The wind has risen to gale force and the rain is clattering against the window. I doubt much of my garden will be standing tomorrow. Whether I will or not remains to be seen. One way and another, it’s been a highly charged day.

A Pathetic Admission.

I’m feeling a bit of a wreck at the moment; the intense psychic and emotional activity that’s been raining down on me over the last few weeks is taking its toll.

And now my computer is playing up. I was going to make an extended post about how my computer has become central to my life these days, how it impacts on my relationship with the external world, and how, by extension, it affects my sense of self. The prospect of it packing up, or even preventing certain operations, is not one I like to contemplate. And you know how it is when you don’t understand the damn things. The more it plays up, the more you expect it to fail completely any minute now... Stress. But I can’t be bothered to make an extended post. This paragraph will have to do.

Maybe it’ll be in a good mood tomorrow. But if I suddenly disappear off the radar, you’ll know the likely reason.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Getting to Know All About You?

You might remember in my recent ‘Today’s Journal’ post that I mentioned an e-mail from Australia that didn’t do much for my mood. It was because the writer made an offhand reference to a subject that pushes my horror button as few others can. It felt like mockery, but of course it wasn’t. I’m sure there was no volition involved; it was simply that the writer didn’t know what she was saying.

But that brings up an interesting point. When we’re getting close to someone, we ask them lots of questions about their history, their views, their likes and dislikes. We believe we’re getting to know them, but I’m not sure it works that way. What we tend to do is ask them about the things that matter to us, and so we’re not so much seeking a comprehensive understanding of the other person, but rather making sure they’re onside in matters which we consider important. And that can lead to some pretty big gaps in our knowledge.

Even Auntie Beeb Has Caught the Bug.

The standard of the BBC’s TV text service, Ceefax, has been declining badly over the last year or so. The latest little manifestation came in yesterday’s weather forecast, which included:

Showers dieing away.

Never Be an Optimist.

Do you know what the problem is with being an incurable optimist? You start extrapolating the current situation into the realms of fond, but hopelessly unreal, imaginings. Eventually you have to take a metaphorical cold shower and tell yourself:

‘That isn’t going to happen, you fucking idiot. GROW UP!’

I did that about ten minutes ago. This is supposedly one of the Sagittarian’s most dominant traits. Well, it’s damned inconvenient.

The Scottish answer to morphine is taking hold.

The Colour of Missing.

Missing somebody is one of those abstract, emotional concepts that’s difficult to tie down. You can make a fair stab at describing the symptoms, but actually defining it is as elusive as defining the perception of beauty or the statement ‘I love you.’

What I have noticed is that there are two sorts of missing people. There’s the pleasant sort that comes with security, and then there’s the exciting but gut-wrenching sort you get when you don’t know where somebody is, what they’re doing, and when – or even if – they’re coming back. I think they’re both colourful, but I suppose the second is more vibrant.

'You Cannot Own the Land, the Land Owns You.'

I was thinking today about a subject I don’t want to go into, but it led to the final thought:

The farmer’s just the guy who throws the seed around. It’s the land that’s sacred.

So why am I being enigmatic? Because after I thought that, I looked at the fields around where I live and, for the first time in my life, felt a sense of just how sacred the land is.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Aine's Moon Mirage.

I went out at dusk a couple of nights ago and saw a big white disc in the sky behind one of the sycamores. I thought how nice it was to see the full moon, and then carried on with what I wanted to do.

Suddenly it occurred to me that the ‘moon’ was in the wrong place. That sycamore is to the north west of the garden, and the full moon at that time of the evening should be in the south east. I looked again and there was nothing there.

I was quite sure I’d seen it, so I sought an explanation. The most obvious one was that it was some sort of atmospheric aberration – maybe a mirage of the actual moon that was hanging in its usual splendour in the opposite direction. Mirages have been riding high in my world lately. And then it occurred to me that north west is the compass direction with which Aine is associated, and she has been riding high in my world for fifteen years.

So of course, I ended up being perplexed as usual and shrugged it off. But wouldn’t it be good if it was Aine giving me a message about mirages? I just wish I knew what it was.

Magical Letters.

Since letters represent sounds, and sound is said to be the origin of existence, maybe letters have power just as numbers do. Which is maybe why the following trotted in front of my brain this morning.

A string of strange letters
Can lock you in fetters
And leave you to list
With the fools and the fretters.

Or maybe I was just being silly again. Maybe it stemmed from that dream I had last night, of talking to a woman on a train. Two women, actually - different dreams. One of them was one of you lot out there in the b.sphere. The other I didn’t recognise.

I’ll tell you about Aine’s moon later, shall I?

A Question to Which I Don't Expect an Answer.

I’m becoming increasingly aware lately that there are two very different versions of me.

There’s the outer me, the logical one based on reason. It’s the me who knows when he was born, how he’s spent his life so far, and what appears in the mirror hanging on the wall. This is the me the left brain sees, the me of past experience. You might even say it’s the Greyville me.

Then there’s the inner me, the more enduring one based on instinct. It’s the one who forgets when he was born, who thinks of life in terms of the future rather than the past, and who sees an entirely different image reflected from the inner mirror. This is the right brain me, the me of present and future experience, the colour seeker.

This is sometimes a problem because the outer me knows what he can expect, but the inner me knows what he wants. They’re not the same and the result is inner conflict.

I know I’m not the only person to have this problem; I’ve heard others refer to it, too. So the question we have, and which is maybe unanswerable in simple terms, is: which version do other people see? Well, it’s pretty obvious that the vast majority of people will see the outer one, only occasionally getting a glimpse of the other. But is it just possible that the odd individual here and there, someone so intuitive and in touch with the right brain, maybe somebody who is also an obsessive colour seeker, will naturally bypass the obvious in favour of the more subtle view? Did TS Elliot just have the rarest piece of luck, or is the phenomenon a little less uncommon than we believe?

Today's Journal.

There’s no reason on earth why anybody should be interested in how I spent my day, but I have nothing else to say so I might as well throw up the list. Other people do.

The number of people I feel I can’t e-mail any more grew bigger.

I burned myself.

A squirrel jumped onto my living room window ledge and paced up and down a bit.

I had an e-mail from Australia that didn’t do much for my mood.

I listened to some music that didn’t do much for my mood either.

I finally made a choice about something and then realised it was pointless.

I waited, and waited, and waited...

I made a blog post that was really about something else.

I noticed that a lot of people seem to be having difficulty at the moment.

I talked to a man at the Inland Revenue and sorted out the current rules on claiming Capital Allowances.

I watered the garden and the vegetable plots.

I prepared three blog posts and backspaced them.

I pondered a lot on whether we should welcome pain for the sake of the lessons it brings.

I had my first salad of the year for dinner.

I watched this week’s episode of Psychoville, my favourite TV programme, but didn’t enjoy it because my stomach felt like a cat’s cradle.

I felt like upping sticks and moving to a different country, but knew I would still be me and I would still be looking for the same thing.

I wondered why the same string of letters should continue to send a ripple up my spine. I should be bored with them by now, but I'm not.

All in all a mixed day. Right now I’m getting tanked up on anaesthetic, and then it will be tomorrow. And it doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden. I’m still waiting.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Addiction and the Aurora.

I think I once made reference to a play I saw on the TV called Clay. It told the story of a man who became so obsessed with his garden that it developed into an all-consuming addiction. Eventually it became so dominant that he took to living in a makeshift shelter in order to be closer to his beloved soil, and even when his wife died the fact meant nothing to him.

I sometimes wonder whether the Aurora Borealis could have a similar effect on me. It’s such a compelling phenomenon that I could almost imagine myself moving to a tent on a mountainside somewhere, just to be ready for it when it chose to grace me with its presence.

That’s the thing about the Aurora; you never know when it’s going to appear. And when it does appear, you don’t know how long it’s going to last. And when it’s gone, you don’t know how long it will be before it appears again. It washes in and out, flooding the firmament with unimaginable brilliance and beauty, and it does so in its own time and under its own direction. You have no control over it.

But I suppose an addiction is something different. That’s when you have no control over yourself.

Frustration All Round.

I’m trying to awaken the part of me that counts patience among its virtues. I’ve asked him to step up to the plate and bat for a while. He’s thinking about it.

In the meantime, I’ve started to feel frustrated about Wuthering Heights again. It’s bothering me that the world continues to see the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine in an obviously inaccurate way. There are enough clues in the book, for heaven’s sake. It feels like Emily’s ghost is shaking my arm again. ‘Tell them. Tell them again. Tell it in terms of colour seekers and Greyville, if you like. It isn’t entirely apposite, but it’s better than people thinking that Cathy and Heathcliff were romantic lovers.’ Emily, dear heart, I’m one small voice in a world of six billion people. What do you want me to do?

And while I’m touching on the subject of mysticism, I might refer you to the post The Short Version again, item 6. Now I’m thinking it likely that there’s a fourth explanation. I think there might be a karmic dance going on, one that involves at least three people trying to balance out something awful that happened last time around. If you think that makes me even madder than I was yesterday, feel free.

Life, Lies and a Della Ditty.

Remember the old days before I started turning into a Red Admiral? Seems the old caterpillar has life in it yet.

When Della Marinis
Drank six pints of Guinness
She said to the man she most favoured:
‘Do you want to come up?
There’s still time for a sup.
And my etchings are there to be savoured.’

I think the caterpillar is about to get stepped on.

Here’s to my new life.

Life is lovely
Life is sweet
Life just sweeps you
Off your feet.

- Sinatra.

(I made that up.)

I’m in a bloody strange mood at the moment. Rollercoasters make you dizzy. This is another one destined for the chop. Goodnight.

A Word from Helen...

My occasional companion the black dog kept pushing his cold nose under my shirt again tonight. Not the depression black dog, the other one. (Come to think of it, there are three of them. Never mind.)

I was telling Helen the other day about the grinding sense of grief I went through a couple of nights last week. I was going to explain the difference between depression and grief, but she forestalled me.

‘Of course they’re different,’ she said. ‘Depression is lifelessness. Grief has energy.’

Do It Anyway.

I did have a thought in the bath tub, actually. I was musing on one of the issues that’s been giving me grief lately, and it struck me how often people really want to do something but desist either because ‘it won’t lead anywhere’ or ‘it’ll all end in tears.’ I think there’s a lot to be said for doing whatever it is anyway, and seeing just where it does lead. And if it all ends in tears, most of us have the resilience – most times – to get through the vale until we come out the other side. It’s an approach I’ve taken several times in my life. It’s led to both peaks and troughs, and has sometimes ended in tears - either my own or somebody else’s or both – but it hasn’t killed me yet. Or them.

The bad news, though, is that I misjudged the hot and cold taps. The water wasn’t quite warm enough and I had to truncate my usual soak-and-muse session. There is a cure for that situation, but it’s unavailable.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sigh and Slump.

Oh dear. I’m making so many mistakes lately, the sort you make when you’re distracted. Those lines from another Sinatra classic keep coming up, the ones that begin ‘I’m wild again...’

Time to take a bath. I’ll let you know if I have any blinding revelations while I’m in the tub.

No sniggering.

A State of Being.

I saw a man in the supermarket today, a man I’ve seen there often. I say ‘seen,’ but the first indicator of his presence is always his voice. It’s very loud and he talks almost incessantly.

I’d say he’s in his mid-thirties, but I’m sure his mental age is rather lower. He’s always with a much older woman who I assume to be his mother, and he follows her around while she does the shopping without, as far as I’ve seen so far, ever consulting him. It’s evident that he knows lots of people who shop there, but it’s also apparent that he doesn’t need to know a person in order to engage them in conversation. If you can call it conversation. It’s always the simplest of stuff: the state of the weather, what he had for breakfast, where he went yesterday...

He obviously has a condition. I doubt he had much education, and I can’t imagine he’s ever had a job, a string of commitments or a troublesome romantic entanglement. There was a time when people would have called him ‘touched’ or ‘a bit simple.’ Some would have mocked him, some patronised him, some shunned him. All I could see was that he projected more vitality and apparent contentment than most of us can manage.

A woman was watching him today. She turned to me and smiled knowingly. All I could think to say to her was

‘I’ll bet he’s happier than I am.’

Balancing the Genders.

Priestess - priest.
Wife - husband.
Princess - prince.
Queen - consort.

The gender order was made in homage to Mists of Avalon, the quality of which I still muse on sometimes. And the question is: what does one append to ‘Blinder with light and blinder with darkness -’ in a way that allows balance? And is balance necessary anyway?

Just a thought I had when I was trying to grasp the true meaning of ‘anadi anant.’

There was a madman in Sainsbury’s today. Maybe he can be the subject of the next post.

The Short Version.

I was going to attempt a long post addressing the second question in my last one. I decided against it because the whole thing is confusing me at present. All I can say is this:

  1. I’m utterly convinced that something big is happening
  2. There appear to be two completely different strands involved
  3. It seems I have little or no control over either of them
  4. It’s been simmering for about a year but has only got into full swing over the last few weeks
  5. I don’t think the present phase is over yet
  6. My three favourite theories are that either there’s some sort of metamorphosis going on, I’m becoming prey to an identifiable mental condition, or I’m simply being shown a load of new colours
If that makes me an irritating blogger lately, I’m sorry. I feel in need of a break, too. Or do I? I don’t know that either.

I went shopping this morning, so I must don my thinking cap. The supermarket usually provides the odd anecdote or two. I’ll give it some thought while I’m harvesting my strawberries and watering the greenhouse.

Today's First Question.

Does the lunatic question his sanity?

Answers by comment or e-mail, or you could try telepathy because that might work these days. What the fuck is going on? The expletive is there for a reason.

More later.

Being Impatient.

Waiting is something I don’t do well. I’m a little prone to impatience. Seems I expect everybody else to apply levels of priority that accord with my own, and I expect everybody else to be as impulsive as I am and go into freefall alongside me.

Pretty unrealistic and unreasonable, no? Pretty damn stupid.

So here I am again, connecting with my old friend John Barleycorn and making a post that I will probably want to delete in the morning.

Karen Mattheson’s Breisleach says it all. The mire and the mountain top that madness makes manifest.

I’ll be off to bed soon. To sleep, perchance to dream of gambolling cows and lollopy dogs. Good word, lollopy.

So many disconnected phrases and statements and questions and speculations flooding through this unbalanced mind at the moment. They keep asking me to write them down, but that would be embarrassing. Especially if it turns out that they're not disconnected. Life seems intent upon pushing me along the fast lane at the moment and I love her crazily for it, but a part of me wishes she understood that I have trouble finding the brake pedal. It all comes down to who or what is in control here. And a line from a favourite Dylan song just insisted on being heard:

And the princess and the prince discuss
What's real and what is not.

Another Story.

I’ve thrown another story up at the other blog. This one isn’t supernatural, more a sad and sorry slice of life.

Some Bits.

The colour seekers and the citizens of Greyville are divided by another little fact. Their respective views on what should be kept simple and what is, by necessity, complicated tend to be diametrically opposed. Yet another reason why the colour seeker is likely to be uncomfortable in this culture, and why there is little point in expecting one of its denizens to understand you.


I have nothing else to say at the moment. I’m still shivering a bit in the cold breeze that hung around after the storm abated. And I’m a bit wary of another one blowing up any minute. Still, colour comes in all shades.


Spoke to dearest H today, and gave her the unexpurgated story of my recent difficulties. She understood, of course; she understands me. She was even impressed with the high standard of the players. And she had some colourful stuff of her own to report. I was very happy for her.

Might come back later if I can think of something daft to say. Must start going to bed a bit earlier, though. The sky was lightening when I turned off the lamp at 4am, and I don’t like that.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Another p.s.

Re the previous post:

I do realise that caution has its place and is a perfectly proper thing to exercise in some situations. Life is never simple.

It was either saying that or taking the post down, which I hate doing. ‘The moving finger writes’ has been a leading light of my philosophy since I was about fifteen. Not many things have stayed the course as well as that one.


Do you know what I find weird about me? In most things I’m a pretty laid back, level headed sort of bloke. But when I go into free-fall I really have to force myself to use the brake pedal. Why arrest the descent? Isn’t the speed part of the thrill?

It’s like those occasions when I’ve been driving and I’ve come across a sudden situation that needs an instant reaction. I’ve always taken the risky option, and so far it’s always proved to be the right one. I remember one occasion when mine was the only car to get up a hill laden with deep snow. That’s because I was the only one who hit it at speed, and forced myself between double-parked cars to do so. It was white knuckle stuff, but it worked. If I’d had time to think about it, I would probably have exercised proper caution. But I hadn’t, so I didn’t. And it worked.

And that’s why I find it hard to understand when people say ‘Hold on. I have to think about this. It’s risky.’ That’s a Greyville attitude, and it works well there. Outside Greyville, instinct works. And instinct works at speed. Instinct doesn’t do brake peddles.

Why am I saying this? Don’t know. I suppose I was just in the mood for saying something before I go to bed. Mood is a great expresser of instinct.

And now it’s time to hit the sack before the dawn comes up.

Update and a Sideways Step.

Things in my world have changed. Whether for better or worse I really don’t know. It’s that confusing. So maybe I should drop this subject, at least for the time being, and move onto something a bit lighter and nature-oriented.


Blow trumpet
The world is white with May

- Tennyson, I think.

The May blossom was very early this year due to the warm March and April, and it’s nearly gone now. But now the hedgerows are flanked by a dense profusion of cow parsley, which is also white. ‘Blow trumpet. The world is white with cow parsley’ doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?

And talking of cows, the little ladies in the field opposite my house seem an unusually happy bunch. They’re forever frolicking, galloping, having play fights and rubbing their heads together affectionately. They love to watch the farmhands working and the kids from the school playing – and me tending the garden. I went and said hello to them today. They trotted over and looked inquisitively at me. The little brown one even let me scratch her nose.

And the dunnocks are definitely coming closer.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Dream and the Epiphany.

It won’t have gone unnoticed that I haven’t been at my best recently. It came to a head last night with a disturbing dream that seemed to go on and on. I’ve forgotten most of the detail now, but the three elements I remember were:

1) I was walking through Ashbourne, my local town, and noticed that changes were taking place. I didn’t know what was going on but sensed that it had something to do with setting up art exhibition spaces. And then I saw that the theatre where I used to work had been relocated inside one of the town buildings, and I could see through an open door that somebody was hanging an art exhibition (a job I used to do there.) I made to go inside, but was stopped by a policeman who told me I would have to pay to get in. I had no money on me and felt disturbed by the fact that I was now being excluded from a place where I’ve always felt at home and which I’ve always entered free. I walked away.

2) The scene changed to the High Street where I saw that exhibitions were being set up all over the place, and somehow I knew that all the artists were women. And then I saw those women. They were all young and attractive, and they were all skulking in shadowy corners watching me. I felt an aura of malice coming from every one of them; I sensed that they wanted to attack and maybe even kill me. And so I felt both excluded and threatened that time, and walked away again.

3) As I was walking out of the town centre, I realised that I was about to be picked up and taken somewhere to have body parts removed. Whether I knew what those parts were, I don’t remember; but I do remember being aware that some unidentified power was going to remove things that were vital to a normal existence. At that point I woke up feeling a little fractured.

I pushed the dream away for the rest of the morning, but it came back strongly when I was working in my greenhouse in the afternoon. A light bulb flickered into life. I suddenly understood an aspect of my attitude to women that I’d never realised before. And then came the real epiphany. Ever since I was nineteen I’ve been aware of one great weakness, one very soft Achilles’ heel that has always dogged my relationships with lovers. It’s complex and confusing because it manifests itself with different faces, and I’ve spent the whole of my adult life trying to get to the root of it. Now, at last, I think I’ve found that root.

The new understanding isn’t likely to remove the problem in this life; it’s too deep-seated for that, and it probably doesn’t matter anyway since I’m unlikely to have any more lovers. But it’s good to think that I can go to the Between armed with the first stage in the curative process, so that I can get rid of this damn problem before I have to come back here again.

Since realising that, other speculations have started to take shape as credible, maybe even likely, possibilities. If I’m right it would explain some of the curious coincidences and connections that have been going on lately.I think there might be some karmic balancing going on here.

But I think I’ve said enough. Make of it what you want.

Back to Real Life.

After the heady stuff of the last few days, I think I’ll lighten up and make a little Greyville post for a change.

There have been two interesting statistics published in the British press recently.

1) The top 0.1% of British earners saw their incomes rise by 64% over a period of eleven years. In the same period, the incomes of the bottom 50% of earners went up by just 3%. No comment needed there, I think.

2) Last year, 40% of graduates were forced to take non-graduate standard jobs, up from 30% the previous year. And when you consider that the definition of ‘graduate standard’ has been greatly devalued over the last twenty years or so, the real figure is obviously a lot higher. I was pleased to see it because it vindicated what I’ve been saying for a long time: that the modern mania for extended higher education is ultimately pointless.

Ah, but there’s a bit more to it than that. These two sets of statistics are actually related. I can’t be bothered to explain how because the whole thing is boring me. What I’m sure of, however, is that when the politicians and pundits discuss them, they will treat them separately. And so they’ll miss the point as they always do.

I take comfort from the fact that the grey stalwarts of the Greyville Establishment have no power whatsoever over the colourful land that lies beyond their grubby kingdom.


Right then, the next post will be the Bad Dream post. It could be a little more interesting than you think, because a remarkable young person from Pennsylvania just might have won her wings from the Rabbi Blue angel academy today.

A Preparatory Note.

I do hope the few people who still read my blog have been entertained by the little bits of madness that have crept into my posts over the last few days. Well, I can’t write the post mortem yet. Sorry. I have an e-mail to read first, and there’s a separate mystery waiting to prove itself substantial or illusory. The fact is, there’s a lot more to this than I can lay out on the table in logical and chronological order. The only person who knows the full picture is me, as will Helen when I finally get around to talking to her. She’s the one person I trust totally, she knows me inside out, and she knows the history behind it all.

Things came to a bit of a head last night. It was Bad Dreams time. A whole night of them. So, when you see a post with ‘Bad Dreams’ in the title, you can either continue the entertainment or give it a miss if you’re finding the whole story terminally tedious.

Right now it’s lunchtime, and then I have to concentrate on one of my least favoured jobs – sorting out Nigel’s final yearly figures and making sense of his tax return. I’m hardly in the mood, but it has to be done.


The Holy Grail.

All that stuff about the Holy Grail being the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper is a pile of crap. The Holy Grail first appeared in a work by Chretien de Troyes, and he died before he got around to saying what it was.

I know what it is and I’ll tell you, shall I? The Holy Grail is the thing you’ve spent your life looking for. But when you catch up with it, it’s visible but out of reach so you can’t touch it. All you know is that its beauty and mystery is beyond the wildest excesses of your dreams. The result is frustration so profound that you either go completely fucking insane or you die! That’s what the Holy Grail is.

Now you know. Goodnight.

Sorry for Being a Bore.

Damn. It’s back. I thought I was doing well today – confining the sickness to a mere twenty four hours. Once a line is drawn under something I’m usually pretty good at getting rid of the symptoms quickly. I suppose it comes of having had a fair bit of practice. Seems this one is not only keen, but more deep-rooted than I'd hoped. Having a visitor from New York earlier didn’t help. And it is the wee small hours of the morning, a time well known to be when the human animal is at its most vulnerable, not to mention that the root of the virus is a rare and spectacular one. I suppose I should be grateful for a new experience, but I can’t say I’m enjoying this one.

And that brings up another point about the Greyville subject. Within the walls of Greyville, reason rules. Maybe not always in the observance, but certainly in the expectation. Outside the walls its currency is much weaker, and those inclined to step outside are usually the sort to be ruled and guided by other masters and muses. And so even an intelligent colour seeker can spend all day explaining to himself why it’s wrong or irrational to feel a certain way, but it has little effect. He’s more of a feeling creature than a reasoning one, at least in some situations.

And I’m not looking forward to tomorrow, as usual. Tomorrow I have to do something I’ve been putting off. A Greyville something. I don’t function well there these days.

Oh, fuck it! I don’t like feeling this way. The scotch didn’t do its job last night, so let’s try again. I’ve always been one to try again.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Going Beyond Greyville.

Andrea picked up on my phrase ‘trying to re-locate to a world that only poets, artists and mystics understand.’ And when she did, even I began to wonder what I’d meant by a phrase that had tripped instinctively off my fingers. It isn’t easy to explain, but it goes something like this.

The culture we are trained to inhabit in the developed world seems drab to me. It’s all about cars and soaps and careers and stylish clothes and football matches and exotic holidays; it’s about the preoccupation with politics, economics and formal education. What’s more, we’re directed to the view that this is all there is; these are the only colours that exist in the spectrum of the modern, sophisticated, developed world. So these are the things that the vast majority of people focus on to the exclusion of everything else, simply because they don’t believe there is anything else.

To me, the colours in this kind of world are merely shades of grey. A certain amount of grey is fine, but I also want the rest. A wholly grey world is wholly unsatisfying to me. And that’s why my greatest thrills have always come from finding the chinks in the wall of the grey world and seeing the colour beyond.

I wrote in a post once about the thrill of standing on the deck of a small ship in the middle of the Atlantic while a force 11 storm was tossing us about like a piece of flotsam. It wasn’t the statistics that were impressive – the measurement of the power of this volume of water in lbs per sq ft, or the height of a wave in metres. It was the sense of something bigger than that; a sense, I suppose, of the very meaning of nature’s power. That’s a principle that goes beyond the measuring instruments of the grey world; that’s a colour – if you’re able to see it.

The same is true of the feeling I get these days when I sit outside at dusk. What I sense is something beyond nature’s physical manifestation; it’s a sense of the energy that drives it all, and maybe of what it’s composed. Perhaps it’s chi, I don’t know. Why give it a name anyway? It’s another colour, that’s all I care about.

And perhaps the most prolific provider of colour is the phenomenon of romance, or at least the way in which romance can be experienced. The problem is that romance for a colour seeker like me isn’t what it’s supposed to be. It isn’t the start of a process that continues with getting married, settling down and living happily ever after. It isn’t about meeting a woman my own age and settling into a comfortable situation for the purpose of mutual, material benefit - being a help meet to one another for the last few decades of our lives. It’s a self-contained, intensely vibrant experience that exists in and of itself. And it contains the most incredible colours.

But there are risks involved with being a colour seeker. To get a sense of the meaning inherent in the power of nature you have to get close up to it, and the power can kill you with a flick of its tail. To feel the subtle energy that drives nature you have to lay yourself open to the physical pain that can strike you when something shatters the peace. That’s happened to me several times. And the intensity of a colour seeker’s experience of romance applies as much to the spills as the thrills. When that happens it leads to a form of madness that can be very dangerous indeed. It has led people to commit murder and suicide. I have personal experience of that one, too.

But I suppose the most obvious risk is the risk of being misunderstood. In fact, it isn’t even a risk; it’s a certainty. The kind of thing that can drive a colour seeker to despair is usually incomprehensible to a denizen of Greyville, and so you can’t look to them for help. They’ll tell you to ‘grow up’ or ‘pull yourself together.’ They can’t see the fire that’s burning you up from the inside because fire isn’t grey.

And I haven’t even begun to consider the colours further out, those to be found in the worlds of magic and mysticism. I wonder what sort of risks they carry. I have no experience of them yet, but I’ll bet there are some.

Crooning Romance.

All my adult life I’ve had a sneaking regard for the classic old romantic songs (I hated most of them as a kid for some reason, probably because I associated them with a Sunday lunchtime radio programme and the fact that I didn’t want to go to Sunday school.) And sometimes I wonder about the people who wrote them. Take an old Sinatra classic as an example:

In the wee small hours of the morning
When the whole wide world is fast asleep
I lie awake and think about the girl
And never, ever think of counting sheep.

In the wee small hours of the morning
I’d be hers if only she would call
In the wee small hours of the morning
That’s the time I miss her most of all.

Now, first admission: Poetry this ain’t. Not quite Sylvia Plath, I know. If you read the words cold on a tedious Tuesday afternoon they sound pretty trite. But if you’re in that kind of mood, and it’s that time of the morning, and you’ve got the melody and accompaniment to go with it, and Sinatra is providing the sense and exploring the nuances, it gets inside and speaks volumes. What’s more, it tells you that here is a person who knows just how you’re feeling, and that fact somehow makes the feeling shared. Which is what, I suppose, most people got from them.

So what about the people who spent their lives writing such songs? In order to do so they must have been there and felt it all, and they must have done so frequently because their repertoires cover all aspects of the romantic experience. Does that mean they lived their lives on a roller coaster, feeling the thrills and elation, the loss and the longing, over and over again? What a prospect!

And then occasionally I see the lyrics of modern romantic songs quoted on young people’s blogs. They’re not the same at all. They lack the immediacy and conciseness, they’re angst-ridden in a confused, messy sort of way, they’re stylistically and linguistically disorganised. Mostly, from what I’ve seen, they’re just a pretentious mess. So what does that say about the people who wrote them? More to the point, what does it say about the young people who listen to and laud them? Maybe that the wee small hours have changed. The whole wide world isn’t fast asleep any more.

In the Light of a New Day.

I intended to delete the last post this morning. It was written in one of those awful moments when this fragile mind was drunk on both alcohol and the agonising sense of loss that the drink was failing to ameliorate. I especially intended to delete the last two lines because they could easily be construed to carry a meaning that was never intended. But it attracted comments - which I haven’t read yet and I’m not sure that I want to - and it’s always been my policy never to delete posts that have been commented on. It seems disrespectful to the people who took the trouble to make those comments.

So let me just say this instead. I’m under no illusion that anybody out there in the blogosphere cares a hoot about my life or my state of mind. Few of us have the capacity or will even to sympathise, let alone empathise, with somebody we’ve never met and are never going to meet. (I do occasionally, but that’s my problem.)

And so the general comment that’s worth making is that all forms of adversity have some value. It’s often said that adversity makes us stronger, but I don’t think it necessarily does. Being burned doesn’t lessen the pain of any future exposure to fire, does it? What it does do, however, at least in most cases, is teach lessons. And so it is with this. I now have a better understanding of one little problem that afflicts certain people, and that means there’s one more aspect of the human condition about which I shall feel less inclined to be judgemental in future. That’s good, yes?

That’ll do.

A Pointless Post on Life and Poetry.

Oh to be a poet and to write in praise of life.

It would be pretty and poignant and pained and profound.

It would paint the star to persuade it to dazzle less.

It would please and purport to be perfect.

It would presume and perambulate in golden pastures.

It would practice at playing and pining and praying.

It would plummet to precocious platitudes

And penetrate Pennsylvania.

And penetrate Pennsylvania.

I don’t know why I’m posting this. Probably because I’m pissed and in pain. Pity I’m not a poet. And I haven’t a clue what the letter ‘P’ has to do with omega.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Destruction by Wind and Fire.

Please be warned that this is a miserable post.

The weather has turned a lot colder here. The wind has risen considerably and we’re getting frequent showers of cold, spitting rain. The spring season is being cruelly capricious this year. The warmth we had in March and April brought the garden on early, and now the near-gale-force wind is beating the taller flowers down. It seems that Madame Spring feels some perverse need to destroy her own bounty.


Being a thinking person has its disadvantages. Let’s suppose you have a serious emotional flaw, one that rarely shows itself and so is invisible to most people, but which is strong enough to lay you flat just as surely as a spring gale will level a tulip. And when that flaw is triggered, it kindles a fire inside you that obscures nearly every normal sense of the world and replaces them with a universal and enervating rage. I’ve known a number of people who have had that problem, and they’ve usually vented the rage by turning it outwards. They do so because, to them, the rage seems right and natural. But suppose you’re a ‘thinking person’ who knows that the rage isn’t right and natural; it’s a flaw. And suppose your capacity to be thoughtful is so strong that it remains active in spite of the fire. Then you have a problem because you know that the only person against whom you can direct the rage is yourself. And that means there’s no venting it.


Apart from family, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who are substantially significant to me. Losing two of them in the same week isn’t pleasant. It’s a bastard.


No more posts from me today, I think, and no getting nicely inebriated tonight. Tonight calls for a more serious attempt at anaesthesia. See you tomorrow.

Ode to Uncertainty2.

If life would only come my way
And toast my teacakes every day
I’d never frown
Or let her down
I’d smile
And keep the bugs at bay

This is trying to insinuate itself into my blog as a series. Don’t blame me, it’s my muse. I can only hope that such apparent presumption will be excused in certain quarters.

It was said of Iain McCleod’s performance in the House of Commons on one occasion that he appeared ‘tired and emotional,’ which was a euphemism for ‘pissed as a newt.’ Who could want a better excuse?

And do, please, excuse my verbosity. I have two days of blogging to get through, courtesy of Googles’ ‘human error.’ I think I’m just about done.

Words for the Wanton.

An American friend recently used the word ‘slag’ in connection with a mutual acquaintance, and I’m curious to know its origin. I’m sure we must have it over here because it wasn’t entirely unfamiliar, but I wouldn’t say it’s our first choice. We tend to prefer the old fashioned ‘tart’ or the more modern ‘scrubber.’ I don’t know where they come from either.

I’m also curious to know what they’re called in other English-speaking parts of the world, especially those in which the concept itself is relatively rare.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Triptych.

A woman gets into a man’s heart and says ‘Look at me.’

A second gets under his skin and says ‘Feel me.’

A third waves from a distance and says ‘Find me.’

Are they really all the same person? Are they even real? What the hell is wrong with me today?

Ah, I remember now. I had an outgoing phase earlier. Time to get reflective.

Life and the Latest Tangent.

I’ve always been lucky in having a faculty that some people tell me they envy. If there’s something I can’t have, I simply don’t want it. I don’t have to work at not wanting it, it just happens automatically. That means I don’t miss things I haven’t got, which is a neat trick if you can do it. I usually can, but not every time.

Just occasionally I want something I can’t have so desperately that I have to find some means of taking my mind off it, like housework or gardening or simply pacing up and down in the ridiculous hope that the meagre expenditure of energy will calm me down. It doesn’t work, of course. External distractions sometimes do if they’re exciting or entertaining enough, but external distractions are just as likely to make the frustration worse. When that happens, I can’t wait to be alone and sit with my head in my hands, close my eyes, and engage with the frustration until it wears me out. Then I go to bed.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, which is just as well because it’s a ridiculous waste of life. Or is it? Am I not life, however I choose to use it? Is life not me? Can life be used up? Can life be wasted? I somehow think not. So is life enough? I don’t know.

And what happens when life itself is the source of the frustration? Full circle.

I haven’t a clue where this train of thought is taking me. I think I’ll put my head in my hands, close my eyes... and listen to Smaointe.


A man smiled at me in the dentist today. I wish they wouldn’t do that.

By the way, Google's faffing about with Blogger over the last twenty four hours has resulted in several posts being deleted. Just in case anybody wondered. They're supposed to be putting them back.

A Minor Misunderstanding.

When I was walking down the garden path earlier, I saw one of the cows in the field on the other side of the lane watching me. I did what I always do: I waved to her. And she waved back. She lifted her tail high in the air and flicked it from side to side.

‘Whoo,’ I thought, ‘I really am starting to connect with the animals these days.’

But then she proceeded to spray lashings of urine around the place, so maybe she wasn’t waving after all. In fact...