Category Archives: Love

#42 airplane (draft)

Contained, concealed, a heart revealed,

A clear refining light unveiled

Beyond your eyes.

 

Fingers clasped around my phone,

I’m not alone. The runway falls,

We’re coming home.

 

Across the aisle, a stranger sees,

Perhaps perceives the fields of trees,

Racing seas, swarms of bees we conjure.

#41 seaside

Strange to be by sea on sand

Sunned, yet chilled by wind while tanned,

Watching son and daughter manned by others.


Surf school seemed the slackest sort,

Though by these slackers children taught

To stride the breakers’ cold onslaught and triumph.


Moored up, but still the rise and fall,

Anchor deep, yet still that pull

Elsewhere, a pulsing constant call, my other.


Cells divide, hearts contract, blood rushes through.

Time passes, thoughts turn, waves renew.

Surfing stops, I switch bifocal view.

IMG_2234

 

#40 Pairs

Things said

things done

things bled

things won

Sad things

sad songs

bled out

all wrongs

Lost hearts

lost lives

false starts

long drives

Two hands

deep night

two hands

clutched tight

No words

just eyes

tears

sighs

arms

scars

skin

silence

understanding

#30 Marta

Raton. Rrrrrrrrrrrraton, Spanish for mouse.

I can’t pronounce it, my lips/tongue/mouth don’t know the way of forming the sound.

Marta laughs.

Quack, miaow, woof. Animal sounds are the same in Spanish, which is useful as- right now- they form the only shared language between Marta and me.

 

Yesterday, I was so tired. The weekend I’d been anticipating for so long was over, and now it was just me and my fatigue. J and I took a train to Whitstable to visit an old friend. We ate (plenty of oysters) and drank copious amounts. We caught up,  broke bread, laughed, lounged.

There had been a malaise that fell on me towards the end of Saturday night. Gin-fuelled, undoubtedly, gradually I slumped into a wordless sinkhole, and detached from J. It hurt her. I pulled myself more-or-less together the next morning, but I was left with the consciousness of dark silt in the depths of me, threatening to billow up with the next change in current.

 

Marta is my daughter’s Spanish exchange student. I had to retrieve her from school Monday lunchtime. She was crying as we drove away, and she phoned her mum as we headed to B&Q. When we got out, the trolley I chose was unco-operative, causing Marta to chuckle. A woman from B&Q came across to help me separate a different trolley from one with which it seemed to be coupling. More chuckles. I needed some manure and shears and, as I searched for them,  I gradually managed to draw Marta out on the subject of her garden at home in Seville- quite large, no orange trees. We got the manure – caca de caballo. Smirks.

Back home we set about making spag bol. Turns out, Marta is an excellent sous chef. She made quick work of the pepper, garlic and onion, though the latter drew yet more tears. I offered her a taste of tea. Slowly, without either of us really noticing, trust was being established; the sense that, although we couldn’t communicate about anything more significant than nouns or the films we liked, the tone in which we communicated, the way we  inhabited our shared space suggested that we both meant well.

Later, after my daughter came home, we took a turn around the town. Keynsham of an evening is something of a ghost town, certainly compared to the Spanish evening promenades (passegiata in Italian). What we did come across, helped draw Marta further out of her shell. Two boys sprinted downhill in the park, away from a bin they’d just set light to. We went down to Echo Bridge and presented Marta with the acoustic wonders. We jumped, clapped and shouted a cacophony of reverberations. She was delighted.  There was an old woman drinking cider by the river, whose dog (a white, cutesy teddybear fluff ball) followed us, ignoring its owner’s calls. Marta seized the initiative and the dog, and returned it. She wants to be a vet. As we walked up the hill towards home, my daughter found a broken egg at the base of a tree. Gaviota, seagull. Marta picked up the fragile shell and unravelled it as we walked on.

We got home and the girls watched a film while I filled my newly prepared pallets with topsoil (to be raised beds). By the time it was time for bed, we all knew each other a little better and I was feeling more recovered from the lapse of the weekend.

Marta had come to feel safer and more able to be herself once she felt that my daughter and I understood who she was. The ingredients had been:

  • mispronunciation
  • animal noises
  • slapstick comedy with supermarket trolleys
  • caca de caballero
  • cooking
  • echoes
  • a little white dog
  • a seagull egg

 

Last Saturday night’s existential angst was a momentary forgetting of who I was. A slow-burning chain reaction of:

  • gin
  • tiredness
  • disorientation (J and I rarely spend time with others for long periods)
  • mild envy/the acknowledgement that my friend (and his girlfriend, with whom we were staying) are home-owners and materially better off
  • lack of a sense of belonging (my friend’s mum and dad live close, he lives in a town he grew up in, always bumping in to long-established friends with whom he maintains a mostly easy, regular socialising existence)

 

Marta recovered herself gradually, by establishing an understanding between the three of us of who she was, while (simultaneously) discovering who we were. Not only that, but we cared about her well-being and actually wanted to know who she is.

Now and then, I feel unsure of who I am.

The things I do- the writing, playing the accordion, motorcycling, rambling- are partly about defining my self to myself (and those around me). It’s probably the same for all of us. Most of the time, the way seems clear- just keep doing the things you do, try your hardest, help others; smile. But from time to time, the energy required to just be can just suddenly wane and the ground beneath you falls away. Thankfully, this Saturday night, I was with one of my oldest friends and the woman I adore. I was given time to resurface and gather my senses. It’s not always the case. In the future, when the walls close in, I will try to remember how an eleven year old Spanish girl pieced herself together with the simplest of words, echoes, an egg and a little laughter.

#29 Watercolours

Side by side, we sat and painted the view out the window.

Sunday afternoon ebbed toward evening.

Shadows that outlined the frames  shifted through aqua pura greys to Bayou waters.

We had planned to cycle down to the river to paint, light rain gave us the excuse not to.

A gentle weekend. Rapture is probably best left untranslated, but there were good things to eat:

All from the same, excellent blog. Make the Snickers.

Before breakfast on Saturday, we spirit-leveled, top-soiled and repotted my horse chestnut into its new, 230l pot. There was an established ants nest among the roots. The trunk is almost as thick as my wrist. Only one leaf fell from the entire plant.

It looks very happy SONY DSC After breakfast, we read and watched the frog-poles experiment with their new legs in the pond.

We bought some food, a sugar thermometer, then had a pint at the Jolly Sailor at Saltford. We stood with our pints on the floating jetty and watched a group of sensible-looking students muster the pluck to try the rope swing that hangs from a huge ash out over the Avon. We wanted someone to fall…

The graceful one whose slight frame flew Tinkerbell-like over the water?

The heavier-set lad whose lower torso appeared to collude with gravity?

The hesitant, beige-wearer who dithered on the bank before half-heartedly swinging back and forth?

None fell. It was disappointing.

We had the last of the mackerel from Falmouth for dinner, then made the homemade Snickers. Make it.

On Sunday, I marked exam papers while J read. Or vice versa. Then, as the weekend threatened to begin its decline, we found our paint sets and settled to an hour or so’s looking at something SONY DSC SONY DSC

There is the chestnut.

Now the week is already Tuesday, and I am alone with a day to do some writing. Before I start, I wanted to bring the things I cherish into focus,  a deep breath drawn in.

Now to begin.

#28 The garden

Image

My daughter took this photograph a few night’s back. It’s useful because it is me as I am, here and now.

The bonfire that lit me is ashes, but I’m stood in the same place. It’s just started to rain, there is that sense of electricity, the scent of it has risen into the air. Although it’s nearly sundown, I’m waking up. I’ve been waiting for this moment for hours.

My daughter has just berated me for stealing her pillow. She has been tucked into bed, but opened the window and yelled, well within earshot of my Polish neighbours two doors down who are having their usual summer evening smoke and chat. The neighbours stopped their chat, I went back inside. By now, she’d found the pillow I didn’t steal, but she’s still angry. Just angry, no reason. Grudgingly, huffing, she went back to bed.

I am supposed to be doing some other writing, but gave myself a break to water my garden, which has now given way to this.

This is my horse chestnut

Image

It is over 5m tall, and about that many years old. I grew it from a conker from my garden back in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. J and I repotted it a week ago Sunday into a half sherry barrel that is too small. I will order a more suitable one here: huge pot

The 230l one should do the trick.

I love repotting plants.

This is one side of my row of pots

Image

Five lavenders, strawberry trough/lavender, rosemary, and a young birch sapling.

This is the other side of my row of pots

Image

Horse chestnut, two lavenders, scots pine, ash, rocket, willow, hazel, blue tub of rocket, olive, french marigolds (not sprouted), willow/lavender, mini Christmas tree, lavender…

The young ash has thrown up its first leaves of the year this week

Image

I’m very proud.

The plants are all in pots because I’ve moved three times in the last five years.

The plants might represent several aspects of me:

1. I made mistakes

The first of the three moves was to move myself and my daughter in with a girlfriend. It lasted three months before she found out I was flirting with someone online.

It is the worst thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve tried to reason out why- maybe it was a result of the damage done in my own divorce, the unfaithfulness of my wife. Maybe it was some need to not be instantly, entirely merged into someone else’s world. As likely is that I am not perfect, that I am capable of baseness and cruelty. It’s been three years and I’m still feeling guilty.

2. I need moments of calm

I usually water the plants after working-out in the evening. For the last four months, I’ve given up weights and adopted this programme: Medicine ball workout Maybe I’ll write about that another time, but it is good, despite the fact several of the exercises make you look like a bell-end. In between sets, I like to fill up the watering can, then get close to the plants and carefully water them.

There was a toad amongst the strawberries once

Image

Beautiful creatures. Orwell wrote an essay (Some thoughts on the common toad, 1946) in which he describes the toad’s eye:

…the toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature. It is like gold, or more exactly it is like the gold-coloured semi-precious stone which one sometimes sees in signet rings, and which I think is called a chrysoberyl.

3. I want a future in which I can plant my trees into the ground

I keep the plants in pots because I am too selfish to leave them to whichever tenant moves in after I leave. I  love my plants, particularly the saplings, and want to sustain a mini arboretum which increases each year. Medium specimens of all my favourite trees. One day. One year, I will buy a house, or we will build our own, with some land into which I will plant the trees, the lavenders. Their roots will sink deep and they’ll flourish.

My plants will go with me wherever I go. I provide for them, they grow and provide me beauty and joy. My children too.

My hopes are the same. For them to come to fruition, I will ground their roots in endeavour, nurture their growth with clarity of purpose, honesty and humility.

 

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

 

 

 

 

#23 Redventures

I sold my motorbike- Reddi-  on Monday. Here she is, or was:Image

It had not been quite a year that I had her, but we have had some memorable times:

  • never-ending waterfalls above Talybont reservoir
  • the after-work trip to Tintern last summer, sitting amongst the beeches above the Wye painting in the fading light, jumping the wall of the abbey, roaming the silent ruins in the dark, roaring back up the sinuous road to Chepstow, and across the Severn Bridge
  • Dymock woods, via the Wye valley- working the jaw of a badger skull , ceps,  yellow stagshorn fungi

Image

  • finding the Somerset floods- parking by Ivy Thorn Way on Cockrod, above Street, gazing out across the ruined fields shimmering in late afternoon sun, then skipping around puddles
  • coffee and breakfast in Bradford on Avon, then to Devizes and up Roundway Hill, cat and mouse with deer, sliding down the deep, fleshy folds of the landscape on our arses, water-colour painting side by side

IMG_2073 gliding partridge, a few hares.

Last Wednesday, I dismissed my class a minute earlier and was the first out the school gates; I had a taxi waiting there. We drove to my daughter’s school, collected her and then headed into Bristol to the Colston Hall. We met my daughter’s mum, who took my daughter home with her while I caught the 4:35 Megabus to Leeds, 207 miles away. Barry met me at Leeds bus station and drove us to his place near the A1, and I bought his motorbike:

8It was a long way to go, and it had only been a one-way ticket, but I had talked with Barry for quite a while during several long  phone conversations. What particularly encouraged me was that his voice was almost exactly the same combination of Yorkshire straightforwardness and gentle kindness of a previous Head of Department. Strange to perceive so much of a personality through a voice. He gave me several cups of tea and a cheese and tomato sandwich. His house was traditionally furnished, some oil paintings of sailing ships and a grandfather clock. He offered me a spare bed for the night but, as I needed to collect my daughter and go to work in the morning, I declined. I set off from Leeds on the new bike at around midnight.

I took it slowly at first, getting accustomed to the torque-y engine, then leaned forward and flew down along the misty carriageway. I got lost. I should have found my way to the M1 and shot south towards Birmingham. I somehow stayed on the older A1 and was soon penetrating the borders of alien territories: Rutland, Sherwood Forest, Cambridgeshire. The bike is quick, so by the time the recognition that I was far off-course fully dawned on me, I was in deep.

The truck stop at Stibbington was a welcome sight, I think I pulled in around 1:15am. The man working in the empty cafe sorted me out with directions to Leicester, black coffee and a snickers. The chairs were all up, the light seemed jaundiced and faded. I was glad to share a little time, small talk and company before stepping out into the void. Apparently, he’d never had the co-ordination for bikes- liked them, but would have killed himself.

His directions sent me on the A47, a much more involving road of plunging corners, rippled straights and unexpected, sleeping villages that scrolled past like silent narratives.

When I slipped into surburban Leicester at around 2:15am, I was quite tired. I pulled in to the Shell garage at the junction of Uppingham and Coleman Road to refuel. I asked a young asian lad getting out of a Golf GTI for directions toward Birmingham. He wasn’t sure, so he asked his mate who was pissing against the wall of the garage. When he’d finished, he offered to escort me to the M42. And so it was, that these two hospitable ambassadors of Leicester lead me through the intricate,  empty city. I left them at Enderby with a salute of thanks and began the penultimate stage.

I stopped in the Waitrose/Petrol station at Hopwood Park on the M42. I had another black coffee and texted J at 3:18am. I bought deep red tulips, which I locked into the top-box and set off. I arrived in Keynsham around 4:30. I took my bike cover off Reddi and, after it’d cooled, placed it onto my new bike. I got changed and drove to J’s.

There was a candle for me in the hallway. The pre-dawn chorus was beginning. I got a glass of water from the kitchen, blew out the candle and went upstairs, my mind still racing.

The motorbike journey had taken 4 1/2 hours from the witching hour until dawn.

281 miles

4 hours journey time

Average: 70 mph

#21 Jura Part III

juramap

The one road south to north on Jura roughly follows the line of the east coast.  Fifty minutes of driving around some interesting bends brought us to Inverlussa, twenty-five miles from the dock at Feolin. The notorious Paps of Jura were shadows within cloud as we passed them, but the range of hills behind showed as a vast, jagged wall. We arrived at Inverlussa late in the afternoon. We were renting heather cottage for a week because of its relative nearness to Orwell’s Barnhill, and the whirlpool of Corryvrechan. The key was in the door. Inside, the living room was high ceilinged, clad in white-washed tongue-and-groove planks with a simple fireplace. The bookshelves contained genuinely readable books and local literature. The kitchen was small and well-equipped. I put the kettle on and hung our damp clothes above the fireplace on a clothes rack suspended by a pulley.  We brought in our luggage and multiple bags of food and wine, almost enough for a week of good eating. I made a pot of tea. J went out to collect coal from the coal shed and engineer a makeshift barbecue. When I went to help and share wine, I found her lighting charcoal whilst suffering our first encounter with midges.

An example attack on an island further north…

My oily skin and blood-warm pate are an irresistible lure to all biting insects, let alone the insatiable midge.  I couldn’t cope and retreated inside to rub cumin into lamb. Which reminds me:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/middle-class-problems?s=mobile

Soon, we were inside with the fire, eating char-grilled lamb steaks, halloumi, fresh made flat-breads, salad and red wine. Outside the window, highland cattle and deer crossed the bridge over the Lussa river and began to mooch around in front of the house. J and Rob surveyed the map to decide what we should do the next day. We would go to Ardlussa Bay. 

To get there, we walked back along the one road and through the Ardlussa estate. There were ancient stone outbuildings still in use, an open double door revealing a beautifully organised collection of tools and an alcove containing at least a hundred empty bottles of Jura whiskey. We brought a picnic with us, Rob had his Kindle, and I carried the beach casting rod I’d bought recently in Cornwall. The owner of the tackle shop there had promised me a lesson off Pendennis Point, Falmouth, but never showed. In the forty minutes I was in his shop, he had drawn for me some guides of how to set a line. Today, it was to be float fishing.

float fishingI prepared my line-as per the diagram- after breakfast to avoid fumbling on the beach.

The sea at Ardlussa Bay is clear, you can easily follow occasional ribbons of seaweed-drifts to their roots in the shingle. After a while sitting, smoking, reading, Rob waded into the bay and swam eastward to a ridge of rocks four hundred yards away. There was a steady cross current, he made gradual progress. About twenty minutes later, he climbed out onto the rocks and was surprised when we pointed out several quite deep lacerations on his body, no doubt inflicted by the sharp shelving of the outcrop.

When we had first got to the bay, J and I ambled about, digging among the tiny pebbles, crab elements and sea-smoothed coal. I remember being acutely conscious that beach-combing should be a singular pursuit, yet J’s movements, always somehow in my periphery, beckoned me; today, I just wanted to be close to her.  I found a small black rectangular stone with an exact white X across one of its faces. I gave it to her. We sat gently for some minutes before I headed around the north edge of the bay to find a fishing spot on a spit of rock that curved around the headland. The bay was fringed with yellow iris and tufts of marram that gave way to saturated grass as I walked upwards onto a sloping chase. There was a large paper target nailed to a wooden frame, splintered with rifle fire. I ducked behind and made my way through a narrow band of firs into dense rhododendron thicket. I plunged inside, rod in hand, threading myself ever deeper into a diabolical network of stone-hard rhododendron branches. I knew the others were expecting me to emerge onto the headland, and so pushed inwards toward what I knew would soon be the edge of a cliff. The trouble was, I had no idea where it would be, such was the density of the strange, semi-tropical foliage. I felt like Laocoon, hung in a three-dimensional game of Twister.Laocoon_group_sculpture

The leathery leaves thickened above me and blocked out the sun, my foot slipped and I dropped about ten feet directly down. Somehow, the rod stayed intact, but it was clear that I was now very much snared in this unnerving place. I was in the foundations of an old croft that must have stood on the coast here a hundred years ago. One of the walls remained, but the rest was granite-rubble, utterly subsumed within the monstrous organism. I felt very alone. Rob and J could only have been a quarter of a mile away, but I was by no means sure I’d be able to extract myself. I peered out at the sea through a tunnel of forked boughs; there, a few hundred yards out from the cliff, a small herd of seals were sunning themselves on a rock. The others had to see. There was no way I was staying here. I javelin-ed the rod through a gap above me and lunged upwards. I caught hold of a snaking limb, swung myself into the canopy, and painstakingly spider-ed my way through the endless loops. I was the end of a knotted piece of string, being drawn through one bight after another. After I finally escaped and stood in fresher air, I realised I had utterly lost my sense of time. I could have been fifteen minutes or an hour in that gloom. Looking back, the experience was uncannily like a recurring dream I used to have as a child. I was in the cellars of some vast industrial space. It was always dim and claustrophobic, there were innumerable hot water pipes and ducting, giant cogs smeared with grease, a cement floor and the faint humming of unseen machinery. I can’t have had this dream for at least twenty years but, back then, it would revisit me at least once every few weeks. 

I walked back to the bay. J caught sight of me and strode to meet me. She didn’t know how glad I was to see her, how the sight of her gave me heart. We hugged. I probably pressed my face into the hollow above her clavicle. I told her about the seals and we decided to get to where we could view them by edging around the base of the cliffs. We managed this easily, I used the rod like a tightrope walker’s pole to balance along some of the sheer edges. We rounded a small inlet, then found we could peer across at the islets in the water. There they were, the herd of seals, still basking. It was clear the tide was rising and that soon they would be buoyed away. We skipped along the spit of land that narrowed into lively waves. After initially attaching my reel upside-down, I made ready for my first cast into Scottish waters.

I flicked the rod behind me, and flung it forward. The ball weight smacked miserably into the sea barely five metres from where I stood. Even worse, my line unspooled into wild coils that sprung rapidly outward, becoming instantly knotted. I was silently furious, embarrassed. I had a white and blue nautical shirt on, my best hat, decent kit- I looked the part. But now it was clear, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. J came over, wordlessly. Her fingers deftly reordered the wire and wound it back around the reel, her fine hair brushed my face as the wind blew, calming me. Her hair and the line became, for a moment, indistinguishable. I cast again. This time, the float caught in the seaweed at the base of the rocks. J knelt and extricated it. Rob arrived from his swim, we marveled at his cuts, his endurance of the cold. While they both went to watch the seals, I cast again and again. I gradually improved, learning the gearing of the reel, which position to keep the bale in. My casts eventually reached about thirty yards. I caught nothing. When the seals were evicted from their rock by the tide, we made our way back around the edge of the shore. I swam out into the middle of the bay, taking in the amphitheatre of land about us. My head bobbed on the surface the way a seal’s does. I watched J curled on a rock in the sun, Rob had a cigarette. Time stalled a little. I returned to the shore, dried myself and lay against J’s warmth, anchored.

We walked a mile or so north on the road towards Lealt. There was a small cairn on a rise at the road’s edge. J observed: That is the least impressive cairn I’ve ever seen, it’s more like an elephant turd. The air became humid, the flora about us seemed to vary, as if we passed through shifting hemispheres. There were huge ferns, then weathered beeches; deforested slopes of burnt trees, then dense woods; moments of moorland and swift burns; countless mushrooms: slippery jacks, false chanterelles, an orange boletus. There were huge dragonflies. We turned back after admiring the coastline from a crumbling vantage point. Just before we descended to Inverlussa, we watched a herd of Whiteface Woodland sheep grazing. One particular sheep with jester-like, asymmetrical horns wandered across to a neighbour and pissed liberally on its head. Rob named him Crumplehorn and headed home.

#20 Didcot impressions

I disembarked onto the platform at Didcot Parkway in a buoyant mood. I swung shut two carriage doors, and skipped down the stairwell. I was on the way to pick up my boy and retrieve the hire car I’d left in Abingdon since buying a Mazda to replace the Golf someone had shunted into oblivion a few weeks back.

I bought a lighter in the station cafe, a woman with Downs Syndrome returned to collect the change she’d forgotten with gentle, shared laughter with the woman behind the counter. I was to meet my ex-wife at the swimming pool in three quarters of an hour. This gave me a precious moment to myself to wander through the town, forming impressions, finding coffee.
I headed out of the station, round the back of the car lot opposite and down the next alleyway. Sprayed on the wall in front of me was a large cock with suck this beneath, not an auspicious sign, but not exactly unexpected. I followed the path which led me to the back of the high street. I have a distant relation who owns a sweet shop here. When I saw her last, she had spoken excitedly of a new shopping development coming to town.

The new Orchard Centre squats at the lower end of the high street and already looks outmoded: a narrow ravine of shops mostly cast in shadow, retail space downstairs, dubious office/storage space above.

orchard1_image

The new-ish Orchard Centre, Didcot.

The shops are a dreary collection of opticians, pound-stretch lands, cheap pharmacies and sportswear outlets capped at either end by Prezzo and PC World. Not exactly the reinvigorating investment anticipated.

The anticlimax was only heightened by the slow recognition that I was walking through a happiness sink-hole. On all sides, there seemed to be a near continuous sense of despair and incomprehension. Like my own town of Keynsham, Didcot seems to have a larger than average quotient of people in care, people being ushered into shops with their carers, people with Downs, elderly folk with dementia. People who might well appreciate being somewhere other than this miserable consumer-trap. A park, perhaps. Somewhere that isn’t shops.

There were lots of children crying. I stood and watched a woman shout at her screaming child for over five minutes. I nearly stepped in. There was a fruitier casually slipping swear words into his banter,

How about some of these fucking apples? Got to get rid of the sods somehow…

Strangely disconcerting.

I am well aware that I drifted through the town with that sense of perception afforded the outsider, that it was a particularly dull Thursday. That said, I know what I saw, and it was not good.

I found an escape, eventually.

The Salinas cafe was neither nouveau nor dated, depressed or hostile. Despite being next door to Subway, it was thriving. I got a good coffee from friendly staff. For this, I was truly grateful.

salinas

Sadly, the Salinas Cafe is mostly blocked by a bus on google maps

As soon as I left, I found my path again. Directly opposite, there was a proud row of ex-council semi-detached houses. Most of them seemed to have glorious front gardens. Google maps gives a reasonable impression

broadway

A wide grass verge beneath elegant cherry trees was the perfect place to sit. I felt like I vanished from the passing traffic. Given the options, this was as close to an ideal place to eat the food J had made me for the journey. I savoured my lunch and floated back to the start of my journey below the bridge of Stapleton Road station in Bristol.

I remember not being able to end the embrace, despite my train’s imminent arrival. Burying my face into her hair, drawing her scent in, the sensation of her skin. Running up the incline to the platform, casting laughing glances back, throwing kisses to the wind. This was me, the morning of the 13th August last year, another moment ebbing in time that remains utterly precious.

 

#19 being worthwhile, secret images

I deleted the earlier draft, it was a gallery of  photographs copied from the last month on my phone. I changed my mind. I changed it because some of the images that mean most to me are of the other humans that mean most to me, i.e. they are personal. They are deliberately captured moments that remain deeply felt. They are memories, altered atoms imprinted with experience,  giving existence meaning, improving and strengthening who I think I am.

I deleted the earlier draft because I came to suspect that it was  motivated by the need to be defined. I learned this phrase  something like fifteen years ago watching an episode of Friends. In that episode, Phoebe was in that coffee shop, at ease, being friendly and her boyfriend joined her. This friend was not like the other friends, he was a cynic. Having had the opportunity to observe the friends’ winning mixture of joshing and self-deprecation, he couldn’t resist commenting on their group dynamic:

I hadn’t considered this in much detail before. Since that time (quite probably before, but the Friends episode is a convenient reference point), I sometimes question what motivates the wish to share my experiences with others. These are my thoughts:

– due to simply being human/ being a single parent only intermittently able to be with his lover/ being adopted?/ having boarded school? I find I sometimes need definition*.

[*I am defining: definition, as the comfort given when we have it affirmed that we are worthwhile, that we are lovable, we are attractive, and that our existence in the world has purpose and value outside of the value that it has to us. The need for definement is akin to loneliness.]

All this need seems a bit needy and I treat it with suspicion. This isn’t an original thought, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

My thoughts in summary:

  • what is written here should have more purpose than a Facebook status update, or a posted image
  • it is true/a cliché that being shown someone else’s holiday snaps is perversely tedious
  • aren’t there more important things to do than to be writing this (be reading this)?

At the heart of my thoughts is that sharing your private life online is casting pearls before swine. I see that you are not entirely swine, but it is foolish to give precious things away, let alone set them adrift on the internet ocean.

I can admire dignity, or creativity in sharing our own perceptions or fantasies:

http://nightmarebrunette.wordpress.com

http://rine1873.wordpress.com/

But uploading our children, or our lovers into the ether seems to me as if they are somehow taken away, like we’ve valued them less. So, I keep mine dear.

The images that I didn’t post are:

                                            My son asleep                                                                 My son and daughter gazing at the sunset from a train leaving Bath

                                                                        A moth on my bathroom ceiling

                                                                                     A poppy                                                                           A chestnut in full flower in Victoria Park, Bath                                                                                My son in a sand-pit

J draped in a tree                         My daughter and me after swimming in the Wellow                            J and me at St.Pauls Carnival, Bristol

                      Our watercolours from Tintern