October 31, 2008

All About Nothing

A blank page to a writer or an artist holds the same potential and the same fears. It has the potential to hold everything or nothing and the fear is of the first stroke you make on the page. That first mark is as important as the last one. This paragraph is my first mark.

I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I just feel like writing. All sorts of ideas keep flashing into my head so I thought I'd see where this went. I'll begin with the thing that is foremost in my mind. I'm listening to something quite jolly on Radio 3. The cats are asleep on the sofa. It's warm and cosy in here. And I've got a beer in the cupboard that I keep forgetting about.

Just after my 50th birthday I had one of those revelations that come to you through life now and again. You know, those bursts of insight that don't quite solve life's difficulties but can help with them. Once you've had one you know that it highlights the difference between knowing something and knowing something and understanding it fully. The supernova of revelation feels quite life-changing at the time but like any other burst of energy it wanes and loses its radiance. Doubt and uncertainty can creep in and you might have to remind yourself of the effect this insight had on you. Your own levels of confidence in yourself and your sense of self-belief eventually affect those revelations you have about your self.

My revelation was about me. I recall a poem about growing old disgracefully. I can't recall the title of the poem but it involved things like dragging your walking stick along the railings, spitting in the street, jumping in puddles, etc. The message was really about being yourself! Just because you're old doesn't mean you don't want to do those things. I love jumping in puddles now - and I'm 53. The content of the poem fits in with the realisation, for me, that I could do and say as I liked.

As long as I wasn't being deliberately hurtful, malicious, or criminal I could say what I liked and if somebody didn't like it then it really was their problem. I've always considered myself outspoken but I might not have been as outspoken as I thought I was. I often feared what others would think of me if I said or did what I was really feeling like doing or saying. If it damaged their perception of me would it, by default, damage my own self-esteem or self-worth? The answer often seemed to be yes. Like I give a shit anymore.

There are ways of saying things that can be as kind and thoughtful and diplomatic as you like. It's often how what is said is taken by the recipient that can cause the problems. I'm no longer afraid of the possible outcome like I used to be. Things are never as bad as you fear them to be. I realised one day that I'd overcome the fear of a result that might not happen anyway. That result certainly needn't damage my self-esteem or self-worth. It is only me who can do that.

If that sounds a bit arrogant it's because it is. That was another thing that came with being 50 - more arrogance. It's not at a dangerous level and I can't be classed as an arrogant person, it's just that I don't care. It's part of the development of my Grumpy Old Man phase, I think.

The impact, or causal effect, to stimulus external to our self is a subjective phenomena. It is our personal history, our genes, our primal instincts, that contribute towards our understanding of the outside world. In effect we all have a unique picture of the world and how it works. My picture is similar to yours but it will never be the same and I will never understand or experience it in quite the same way as you.

So I'm getting on with living in my world and experiencing it in my own way because it's comfortable and exciting to be me. I can't be anyone else anyway.

Not bad for having nothing to write about, huh?

And I still forgot about the beer! I'll have it now.

October 28, 2008

The Sound of Speech

BBC Essex on the radio, playing some nice music.

Why do so many local radio presenters sound so alike? Particularly the men. I used to be convinced the same guy dashed from one radio station to another to present shows under different names. Their voices sound similar and they have similar patterns of speech and intonation. Perhaps they all went to the same DJ school.

And that Robert Preston! BBC business editor or something - often on Breakfast TV and Radio 4. He's on a lot lately because of the credit crunch and the recent business with the banks running out of money. He trips along in his speech in quite an awkward manner. His inflexions, tones, pauses and emphasis come at the most unexpected moments. I find it annoying and fascinating all at once.

Listening to him is like trying to negotiate an unfamiliar obstacle course. I'm constantly stumbling to keep up with his flow. I've suspected there's evidence of some sort of past speech impediment overcome, or a learned, practiced, way of speaking that seems to him to fit the purpose.

There's often a young woman in tow on these radio shows. Think Terry Wogan (he's pc though - he has a man as well). They seem to be in the background to provide some back up to the presenter, and read the weather and travel news - a kind of afterthought or second-rate presenter. Perhaps they're in training. There's one who mumbles something now and again on whatever I'm listening to at the moment.

I find the way most people speak fascinating. I love listening out for their quirks in speech and expression of speech. I love listening to their traces of accents, their inadvertent windows when their real  selves show through. People also leak emotion in their manner of speech and in Freudian slips. Are puns Freudian slips? I've often wondered where the connection comes from in the train of thought that leads to the pun. There's always relevance to the initial subject of conversation.

Dawn over the Blackwater Estuary.


28th October 2008. 05:59. Barely getting light. Couldn't sleep and it started getting light with a clear sky so I decided to go for a walk with the camera.

This is the church with a pale lit sky behind. It got colder as I walked down Fish Street and I could just make out frost on car windows in the half light. The grass on the playing field was pale and crisp underfoot. By now my ears and nose were going numb. I was glad I'd wrapped a scarf round my neck as I went out.


The view down the Estuary from the bench at the end of Goldhanger Creek. I thought it would be interesting to lean the camera on the arm of the bench and catch some of the bench in the photograph.


Across the sand spit towards the oyster shed. I loved the sky and the pools of water in the mud here. The cloud in the centre of the picture is partly reflected in the main body of water. The band of orange provides a great contrast.


Approaching the church from the field behind at the end of the walk. You can see the frost on the ground. I'd just passed the first person I'd see that morning, out walking her dog.


The stile post at the back of the church, covered in frost with a brightening sky behind. I focused this one on the sky so it darkened the foreground. You can just see the line of frost on the top of the stile post.


The same post but looking down at it so it caught the light more. Although the two pictures were taken seconds apart there's quite a difference between the two. This second one looks almost as if it were taken some time later, when it was lighter.


The church again. On the way back at the end of the walk. 06:55. Again, there's a striking contrast between this picture and the one of the back of the church above. I was ready for a nice hot cup of tea by now.

Road Map (or lack of)

Tuesday 28.10.08 01:00

I'm not who I thought I was, am I?

I'm not what I thought I was either, am I?

I'm not the spontaneous, happy-go-lucky, accommodating, laid back person I thought I'd been. I can be all those things - and more often than not - but it can be selective at times.

If I've had a road map of life I haven't considered it. I think I've always had this picture in my head of where I want to be and strive for that. But just up the road and I come across a No Entry sign. The road's blocked and I haven't got a clue where to go now. Niadh has his side roads mapped out, but he was always good at reading maps anyway Smile

It was something I didn't even consider before speaking to Niadh tonight. I hadn't really thought about the 'who am I?' question in depth either. Oh, I have in passing. I've felt it at times when I retreat into my home (my shell?) and just be indoors. It's like I can't get enough of being here but it gets a bit lonely and claustrophobic at times and I don't know what to do about it. The solution at the time seems to be to stay here even more because that might make it better. But that doesn't work either.

Consequently, I become more withdrawn and less adventurous and spontaneous, etc. Deep down somewhere I'd be quite happy at home with me slippers on and me cup of tea and the paper. I've turned into an old fogey!! Surprise

That's not to say I haven't got a sense of adventure. When I've done something exciting in life I've loved it. Whether it was being fired into the air on an elastic catapult in Bulgaria, camping in the Brecon Beacons or on safari in Africa, I loved it all. Whatever happened to the day out Mick and I and Rick talked about? We need to do something. I need to do something.

Solution?:- Get out and do something then. You'll appreciate being at home more.

October 23, 2008


I've been signed off sick for another 2 weeks. I was getting a bit nervous about the thought of returning to work as this week wore on, so I phoned the surgery and asked if Dr. Roper would extend my certificate. I picked it up yesterday afternoon. It's amazing the amount of comfort it gave me to hold it and see the dates.

I'm not due back to work until about the 10th November.

October 22, 2008

Friends and Warmth

It was only about a week ago I was moaning about none of my friends seeing if I was OK or contacting me. It's probably a bit narcissistic of me to expect them to. They show their warmth in other ways.

Like Paul asking me if I wanted to stop for something to eat one evening. Then in the middle of dinner announcing that his wife had said I was looking a bit underweight. When I asked if that was why he had asked me to stay, Chris said that she'd merely remarked I looked like I'd lost weight recently.

32 Then about 10 days ago Siewkeen phoned and asked me over on Sunday for a walk and a roast. It was a lovely day and we walked down to Creeksea and along to 1Burnham, where we stopped for a pint and a bowl of chips.

Mick's mentioned coming over to theirs and stopping the night a couple of times and I took him up on it weekend just gone.

They all know I'm going through a difficult patch and offer their help in different ways. I like being with all of them and they give me a warm feeling when I think about the times I've spent with them all. In my last post I mentioned being with them and having a laugh. That's the sort of warmth I appreciate. It makes me feel happy.

Left Hug Open-mouthed Right Hug

And now Mick's got in touch to say he's going to pick up the dragon's tail tomorrow and install it in Mike Springett's garden. I'm going with him.

October 21, 2008

Friends & Conversations

I'd already thought about doing some visiting over the weekend but I'm not sure I'd have got round to it if Nile hadn't been here. And then Mick turned up on Friday afternoon out of the blue. I didn't know Nile was coming at that point. I was on my way out to get some shopping and he'd just pulled up in the car. We had a good chat and then I went to get Nile from the station. Mick invited me over on Saturday to spend an evening with wine or something.

Called up to the Gaffney's after getting Nile but they were out so we popped own to Doris's. I hadn't even thought that it was Friday evening and she would be working. However, JC was in and we stayed for a while.

I was leaning against the kitchen door frame chatting with him as he put the kettle on. I went for a wee and the toilet seat nearly came off. I remarked on this when I came out and JC jokingly blamed it on the kids. In his own inimitable way, looking quite serious, sounding very matter-of-fact, he launched into a diatribe about how plastic toilet seats weren't quite the ticket compared to wooden ones. He felt sure that they went skewiff after a while and there was always a line of shit down the side of the pan where you couldn't take a dump straight into the water. It used to go straight into the water but to get it to do that now he has to sit at a funny angle. I even had a vague demonstration of how he sat.

The conversation was typical JC but had a slightly surreal feel to it as well. Between him and Rick they manage to brighten any day with their honesty, openness and 'basic-ness'. Last week I had Rick talking about his piles and how they tuck them back in these days instead of cauterising them.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Gaffney's. Doris was there as well and Susie arrived just before we left. I was relating the conversation I'd had with JC on Friday evening and couldn't get my words out for laughing. The same thing happened later when I was telling Mick & Carole about it. We also remembered that when Jack was quite young, JC was in the bath with him and lifting his legs to fart (JC that is!), only he followed through and Jack ended up scrambling frantically out of the bath as his dads turd floated towards him. The poor boy was probably only just getting over that when JC decided it wouldn't hurt to show his kids his piles!!

Saturday evening we had a Chinese take-away and some wine and sat in the conservatory most of the evening smoking. Mick took Nile to the station in Burnham when he went for the Chinese. I slept on the settee and woke about 10:30 the next morning when Carole appeared and asked if I wanted a cuppa. The rest of the morning was spent lazing about and Mick and I went for a walk along the sea wall at Mayland in the afternoon.

Following a dull overcast morning, there was blue sky and the sun was shining. The wind was a bit keen and had a definite autumnal feel to it. Our ears ached. Ozzie kept running off in the wrong direction and we simply sat down where we were and chatted while we waited for him to come back.

October 20, 2008


By the end of last week I'd switched off to the extent of not even knowing what day of the week it was. I seemed to be immersed only in the moment and had no thoughts of anything else. The empty-headedness wasn't a meditative state however, it was just empty-headedness .... and it was wonderful.

I kept forgetting what I was doing and as long as it wasn't dangerous it didn't matter. I must have had my wits about me somewhere to be aware of the things that did need doing, such as feeding the cats and feeding me.

Time became immaterial and irrelevant. It was like stepping off the planet again.

It was interrupted when Nile came down. He'd initially said he might come down this weekend or next. I didn't expect a phone call Friday afternoon to say he was on his way. By the time he got here I was in my own little world and wasn't very welcoming. I think I just wanted to be left alone. My focus didn't really come back until Saturday and that was only because I had someone else here.

We had a nice day Saturday, visiting friends, and he went back to London that evening. With hindsight I might have asked him to stay away if I'd known he was coming. Part of me just wanted to carry on that empty-headedness.

Tanya had tried phoning Thursday and Friday but  I ignored the call. By the time I spoke to her on Saturday she was quite worried. Apparently I'd promised to phone her on Wednesday but I was so into my own little world that I forgot. I had to pull myself up a couple of times when I got talking about work - something I hadn't wanted to do but it just seemed to get hold of me and come to the boil. I started feeling angry and my face began prickling.

I'm not sure I've ever had a physical manifestation of a subjective feeling before. The prickling in my face came about more when I thought about returning to work.

October 19, 2008

More Memories

It's been quite amazing for me since signing up to Harringay online. I have always had a lack of memories about school, particularly, in London and I have trouble picturing friends and classmates but I've been regaining memories I thought were lost to me. Partly, it's because I'm writing about them and exercising my memory anyway. But it's also about feeling re-connected to a place I left behind a long time ago. The responses to my blog posts and to my discussion have been warm and welcoming. Thank you Harringay.

I have to wonder, did I 'wipe' the memories of London in order to handle the separation from long-term familiar things and people? I can remember wondering how I was going to cope without my friends and familiar places. At 10yrs old it was slightly traumatic to move so far away and yet it was exciting too. I suppose the only way to handle such a move was to become part of the new life quite quickly. After all, it was all there was and there was no choice.

I have always been able to adapt quickly to uncomfortable and/or unavoidable situations. Is this where it comes from?

October 15, 2008

Texts and Intrusions

I've been getting used to doing nothing. I've slept about 8 - 9 hours the past couple of nights and it's great not having the alarm clock on.

Yesterday it took me all day to do most of the washing up. Not that there was so much of it but rather that I did a bit, stopped and had a cuppa or went on the internet, or pottered somewhere else, and then went back to the washing up. It doesn't matter how long it takes me and it's a wonderful feeling.

This morning I had a text from Tanya asking me to phone her about the 23rd. I'm supposed to be helping her present some training that day. I don't normally mind her contacting me about anything but this made me feel angry. I don't want to discuss anything to do with work at the moment. I've ignored the text so far and am wondering how to respond. Maybe rather than wondering I need to respond to get it out of the way.

I've also got to phone Vernon by Friday for my weekly contact - and even this feels like an intrusion. It's something I don't want to do. Or is it something I don't want to be bothered doing? I'd just like to shut off and not have to make decisions or be committed to anything at all.

October 10, 2008

Don't Give A Shit ...

Well, I'm feeling a bit calmer in myself. I keep getting bursts of work invading my mind but generally I feel like I'm letting something go. The kitchen's a tip, hoovering and dusting need doing, I've got letters to open, but I don't give a shit at the moment. I'm not doing anything for now.

Went to meet Tanya for lunch in Chelmsford. Had a good talk, which was half about her for a change. I think I've been all me .. me .. me lately. Tanya seems happy enough to let it be that way but then that's the sort of person she is. She was letting me have time to express myself .... but maybe she was avoiding her stuff as well. I don't know. We had a good chat today. She's leaving Paul and now has the ups and downs of moving out, leaving a village she loves, and moving on. I'll have to find the room to give her some space for a change. She'll need it.

The cats are outside enjoying themselves. They haven't left the garden yet and keep running inside chirping and squeaking. They seem to be loving it.

October 09, 2008

Stress and Outings

I've been signed off work for 2 weeks and referred for counselling. Dr. Roper was lovely as usual: warm; gentle; smiling; calm - I always want to cuddle him. I felt quite a sense of relief, not only time off but the offer of something that could help me afterwards as well. It might be a 6 week wait before I can be seen but it's the light at the end of the tunnel. I should hear from them during my 2 weeks off.

SquiggleThe girls had their first outing today. It seemed as good a day as any. I'm going to have a few days relaxing so I figured it was about time.

I'd not long got back from C&P's, it was a nice afternoon and I was The two of themgoing out to hang out washing, so I opened the back door and encouraged them out. It took a little while to venture further than the back door step but eventually they were up the end of the garden with lots of sniffing stops on the way.

When another cat appeared at the gate at the end of the garden they really weren't sure what to do. Visitor at the gateSquiggle suddenly appeared twice the size when all her hair stood on end.  They both took turns staring the other cat out, withdrawing now and again so the other one could take over.

When a second cat appeared they were more than curious. I think they were both A dog barking. Quick .... indoorsPatsy's and had just come to see who the newcomers were. There was no hair on end, growling or hissing on their part. When a sound startled them both they shot indoors and growled from the safety of the back doorway.

SistersA few times I came indoors and forgot about them. When I went outside they'd appear quickly or I'd find one of them behind a plant pot.

They can have another outing tomorrow.