Over the last few years I’ve spent time re-engineering my outlook on life, moving away from the imprinted, self-destructive patterns I acquired as a kid. I can’t claim complete success but I’m getting there. It’s partially an attempt to be a better person but it’s also a way of making my life more efficient and my passage through time more bearable, if that makes sense – you swim better if you’re dolphin-shaped, I guess.
A while back, during my meditations on how to be a better person, I got to a question that I’d struggled to articulate but that if I answered it honestly might suggest a way to an inner balance. The question was What Do You Want?
So I mulled this over for a long time and yesterday I realised two things.
Firstly, I don’t want much, and as my bio already says, if anything I want less. A lot less. But secondly and more importantly, I realised that ‘what I want’ is what I already have, but to the furthest extent, and to the best of my ability.
That is all.
I found myself outside of Sainsbury’s today, when the two-minute silence began. Like everyone else I stood and waited in contemplative silence. By 1918, this country was bled dry, we lost the flower of our youth in a senseless, muddy slaughterhouse. We were the same in 1945, when another generation was dead. It was a thing to consider.
As I stood at the doorway a young bloke with a middle-eastern appearance asked me what was happening. ‘We’re remembering the dead,’ I told him.
‘What dead?’ he asked.
‘Soldiers from the Great War, and World War Two, and other wars.’
‘Yes,’ I said.
But that isn’t really true.
We remember the dead, all of them. It doesn’t really matter what uniform they wore, or if they were even in uniform. On all sides, what they have in common is they died.
My grandad, a veteran of the desert war, was a POW in Dresden during the allied fire-bombing. He told me they spent days after the raids digging the dead out of cellars and shelters where they’d suffocated from the lack of oxygen, which was burned up by the firestorm. He was a lovely, gentle man, and the war damaged him. My gran said when he returned from war he was not the same man he’d been before.
The people in those Dresden shelters were no more warlike than the people of Coventry or London. They were no more warlike than the people who stood next to me at the doorway of Sainsbury’s or the citizen soldiers who fought and died to defend our way of life.
We stood quietly, on the shoulders of giants.
It’s available in print here. Or click image link. Or look for it on Amazon.
Going up to Cresswell in the morning. Going to cycle up the coast a bit and then cycle back. Temperature is around 3-5 degrees. It’s a trial run for some longer expeditions in the future.
This was taken at Alnmouth at low tide. I think at some point I was rolling around on the sand.
Just experienced the first hailstones of the winter – it’s cold and very dark outside.
If I could hibernate, if I could find a warm snug place and switch to standby mode for four months, I would. I’d wake on 23rd December for my birthday, stay awake over Christmas, then I’d be back asleep ’til the beginning of March.
When I write, I spend a lot of time editing and redrafting, adding and subtracting, tweaking, polishing, erasing. When I busk on my sax, I don’t. If you like a piece of writing you can go back and reread it as often as you like. Playing live is the opposite, it’s immediate and then it’s gone.
I like ’em both.
Part Greek-tragedy, part coming-of-age, but mostly the story of the rise, fall and sort-of-rise again of a 15 year-old drug dealer called Mickey Hall.
Dealer No. 1.
Available in print here:
And on free kindle download from 6-10 November here:
Or google/Amazon the title.
Still haven’t seen the Joker, though I’m tempted to go tonight, cos it’ll be very quiet at the cinema. On the other hand, I’m semi-obsessed with Penguin from Gotham, so I might stay in and watch that.
Either way I won’t be taking my pooch for his evening walk – too many fireworks going off tonight as we celebrate the torture and execution 414 years ago of a man who tried to blow up Parliament.
Not Guy Fawkes. Not the Joker.
Free download from 4-8 November. Click image for link:
I injured my leg about 14 months ago. Started off a bit stiff and ended up not being able to walk.
But it’s improving. It’s got to the point where I can walk with no pain. Standing, moving about, where I use the smaller muscles, can be twingey, but the big stuff, fine. It’s lovely not feeling pain.
But not being able to walk properly for a year or more, it makes you reconsider stuff. Forces you to recalibrate. And I have. I’m better off for having done so.