Thursday, 25 June 2015


Currently is a weekly link up hosted by Ot and Et and Kale and Beans. The words they have provided for inspiration this week are visiting, planning, cooking, longing, growing.

At the weekend I was visiting my dad in hospital, where he's spending a fair bit of time at the moment, while a battle is fought between the cancer in his bone marrow and the drugs that are being pumped into him. He is relatively cheerful and stoic, making friends with the nurses and moaning about the food, but there is also a hint of the question about how much of your life you sacrifice in order to maybe get a bit more life. He is starting to question the restrictions the treatment imposes.

It's time to start planning for Latitude festival. We've been going for years, so we're pretty well practised in what we need to pack and what really isn't worth hauling on the long walk from the car to the campsite. The main focus of the planning is in researching the music and art and poetry that's going to be on offer, and working out what's unmissable, what's worth a try and where there are gaps for just aimless wandering and stumbling across marvels.

On Sunday I was cooking a big roast meal for Peel and her girl. They are still reeling from the accident that killed their loved one, and cooking them a meal that I know they will eat is the one thing I feel qualified to do for them.

I am doing a lot of longing, and what a fantastic word it is. I am spending a lot of my time in a strange, disengaged state, while carrying on life and work.The word longing also makes me think of the incredible smells that the girl and I came across on a recent walk - honeysuckle and linden blossom, at it's strongest in the evening. It was a wonderfully unexpected sensual assault.

Most of what I am growing (apart from a huge human person - Goldie is now 6ft 2 (at least - he may have added an inch over night) and able to pick me up) is weeds. Which I choose to see as a small kindness to the birds and insects which love a unkempt garden, rather than a sign of my disorganisation and lack of ability to prioritise gardening.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Living for the weekend.

I thought we had a fairly quiet day planned for Sunday - no football, no big social plans. There were a few small jobs to do, but nothing that would take too long.

In the end, this was what needed to be done on Sunday.

Pick up Ms M to take her to pick up her car, abandoned at the village fair the night before after a few too many ciders. 

Take my dog and Ms M's dog for a walk (Ms M's dog needed me to walk it because Ms M had a mysterious heel injury following wild dancing after a few too many ciders the night before). Return dog and drink tea with Ms M while hearing about various middle age romances that are going awry. 

Buy a birthday present for 8 year old niece; deliver birthday present for 8 year old niece. (Bump into acquaintance - really nice woman, great admirer of Snake's art but incredibly posh and dithery and so all conversations with her very slow. Meanwhile, her barrister husband pretends we don't exist and ushers their children away, which is a little awkward, although I have some sympathy, not particularly enjoying conversations with comparative strangers either. During the conversation this woman tries to wrangle an invite to a book launch/ solstice ceremony that we are aware of but not invited to, and which, frankly, I would run a mile from).

Pick up Goldie from his friends house and all four of us head off to visit my dad in hospital. Lovely as it is to see him, the sight of a bed and a couple of weeks of minimal sleep make it really difficult for me to keep my eyes open and I go on a mission to find caffeine. On the way I bump into the brother of a friend, who I know is in hospital because of a relapse into drinking and a subsequent haemorrhage, but who probably doesn't know that I know, and definitely doesn't want me to know. Luckily he has a phone in his hand that he can put to his ear, and I am able to smile a greeting without the need for further engagement. 

Deliver snake skins to La's house for an art work that is in progress. We have a constant supply of snake skins from a friend who saves them for Snake who uses them as art material too. During the conversation, La's partner turns to my 20 year old girl and says something appallingly inappropriate, entirely by accident (although some might see a Freudian element). Basically, he mixed up the words testicles and tentacles, in relation to a very innocent encounter the girl had had the night before.  The girl, with great composure, smiles broadly and says " I wasn't expecting you to say that". La's partner looks truly horrified - possibly the first time I've seen him lose his carefully composed cool. The rest of us are yet to stop laughing. 

Buy food to feed Peel who has been invited for an evening meal. Cook meal. Eat meal. Drink wine. Retire to bed to lie awake, thinking of all the things I meant to achieve over the weekend and that will now have to wait another week. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Park Life

Obsessed as I am on this blog with the inside of my own head, I need to report that I have been in a restrained level of turmoil, if such a thing is possible, for the last two weeks. There is something going on that has rocketed my anxiety, destroyed any hope of unbroken sleep, made me turn away from food (this never happens to me), and is causing me to question question question the foundations of my life.

None of this is particularly visible, and life goes on, with me carrying out various roles while internally spinning. 

In the meantime...on a beautiful hot sunny day I left work a little early and set off to York to pick up the girl for the summer. On the way I stopped at a small town that no one would ever stop at without reason, and spent a couple of hours sitting in a non-descript park and the only person in the world who knew I was there has no connection to any other part of my life. When are we ever lost in that way any more? Mercury was in retrograde (thank you to Ot and Et  for this nugget of information, which I'm clinging to for sanity's sake) and the roads were repeatedly blocked and my sat nav kept losing it's satellite connection (that doesn't ever happen) and the spinning thing is particularly tricky when strapped into a car. But I got there to my girl and she cooked me some sweet potato chips and we watched the sort of television I never watch before retreating to her bed and dozing, waking, dozing, waking.

The next day I drove her and a friend back home and took to my bed, thinking that if only I could sleep for an hour or two then I could go with Snake and Ms M to see Half Man Half Biscuit at the local venue that evening. But I was in a state of wide awake exhaustion and I left them to go on alone. 

Snake has been curating an on line surrealist art collective that has about 70 members from around the world. They have produced some beautiful work and formed some great friendships and a couple of real life publications. On Saturday we met with some of the UK based members on Hampstead Heath for a picnic of hard boiled eggs and nuts, and to build a cardboard boat to set sail a plaster cast cupid on the ponds. Strangely, on an overcast afternoon in a park in the centre of one of the major cities of the world, surrounded by friendly people, I was able to lie on the grass and sleep for a while. It felt life saving. It felt like the one thing I needed to do, and on waking I was completely unembarrassed, such was my delight at having had half an hours break from my own head.

Today we went to London, Snake and the girl and me, to march against austerity along with about 250,000 other people, At one point in that huge and diverse crowd, I had a moment of absolute joy and wonder at being amongst people who give a shit, who care enough to get out of bed on a Saturday morning and to travel to London to say it's not OK to destroy the welfare state, and it's not OK to further increase the divide between rich and poor, and it's not OK to target the most vulnerable people to experience further hardship in order to protect banks and their friends. It felt like a huge sigh of relief, a weight being lifted from shoulders to realise again that there are good people out there.

We left fairly early to travel back to our rural county for a village festival that was being held in one of the local villages. Lots of friends were there, and we wanted to support a band we knew, and out friend Marc was providing the beer tent. It was a lovely, happy evening, a joy to be outside late on the eve of the longest day. The girl was chatted up by a very tall, very attractive, very pierced and very dread-locked man who I know a little. He wrote his number on her hand with great ceremony. Who knows if she'll get in touch.

Lots of time outside, in this frequently grey and sometimes wet, but warm enough, bright enough summer. Lots of time laughing with my family and with good friends. Still spinning, still questioning everything, still feeling slightly insane, but happy and well. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015


This is a currently post, hosted by Kale and Beans and Ot and Et, with this weeks themes being hoping, being, going, making, writing.

I am mostly hoping for some sleep. and for my head to slow down a little (I imagine that one will lead to the other). I have always had some trouble sleeping but it's ridiculous at the moment - maybe 3 hours sleep and then 3 hours awake, and then dozing until the alarm goes off. As either a cause or effect (or both) of this I am incapable of holding a thought in my head . It feels like I am constantly spinning on the spot. And - related - hoping I manage to get through a day without wiping everything off my iPhone, losing my work phone, locking a temporary back up phone. It feels like the universe is trying to tell me something about communication and chaos.

Of all the unlikely things that could happen in my life, being praised for a presentation I delivered is up there. I have been doing a little more public speaking as the result of my current role at work, but yesterday was probably the most nerve racking,  I was aware that I was moving around a lot and using my hands an unnecessary amount, and I wouldn't have got through 10 seconds of Just a Minute without a challenge for hesitation, But I said what I needed to say and I meant what I said, and that seemed to come across. The Very Impressive Man who I occasionally meet with so he can make me more impressive (I guess that's why I'm being given time with him?) congratulated me on my turn of phrase and told me that I was "dramatically understated". I am not entirely sure that I understand what that means, but I like the way it sounds.

Today after work I am going to drive up to York to pick up the girl and bring her home for the summer. I love her being home. In her own quiet, still way, she is a happiness injection. When her and Goldie are both here, there is exponentially more laughter in the house. Also, I have been going for evening dog walks with Ms M. On Monday evening, we could see our dogs up ahead on the path through the wood, standing with and paying great attention to a creature that looked like another dog, As we approached it turned and lumbered away, and we realised it was a badger, the first one that either of us have ever seen that wasn't dead on the side of the road.

This is sad of me, but the plan I am making that is most appealing to me at the moment is for a very early night tomorrow night. Snake is going out to see Half Man Half Biscuit, and a bit of me thinks I should go along, but a bigger bit thinks I will leave my gorgeous children to catch up on each others gossip, will come up to bed, and relish some peace and space.

I should be spending more time than I am writing a literature review for my dissertation. It's on my mind. Instead I spend my days writing presentations, reports, plans, and then I come home and write on here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

You're a humming live wire.

There's been some sort of madness in the air.It must be the moon, or a particular combination of stars. possibly the sun and the British inability to take even an afternoon of warmth for granted.

I did something that made my brother happy. I honestly believe that my birth when he was 18 months old was the worst thing that has ever happened to him and that it has coloured both our lives since. We try and get on, particularly since my father became ill, and we do now, we tolerate and compensate and bite our tongues. But it's not the easiest relationship. Anyway, this weekend I managed to not only get him free guest passes to the Isle of Wight festival, but also arranged that a poet he greatly admires will be staying with them pre his performance. We are all very happy about this.

On Friday night we had a barbecue at Ms M's. An old friend of ours, an eccentric, talented, extravagantly bearded brewer, came along and played guitar, beautifully. Snake pushed me round the garden in a wheelbarrow. I spent some time in the kitchen in a text exchange with Flirty Smiths fan explaining my marital status and my combined appreciation and discomfort in relation to his attention. Snake and Goldie and I walked home late under the full full moon and the close enough to touch stars.

Also this weekend, Strawberry Fair. An annual gathering on common land in the centre of Cambridge, that draws in hippies and ravers and various other outdated subcultures from miles around. A band we know from parties and pubs and all aroundness played a storming set in a packed marquee, earning themselves extra stage time and new fans. A whole load of us settled in a corner of a field and from there people went off exploring, coming back with tales of music they'd heard, friends they'd bumped into, food they'd discovered, sights they'd seen.

All of this, and work this week, and the long long evenings, and the sleepless nights, have been coloured with a buzzing distracting edge of chaos. I am reminded of a long ago summer of complete madness in a London squat - the summer I met Snake. It's a strange one. I'm going with it, I'm enjoying the edge of madness, but  - I'd like my head to stop humming. just for a while. I'd like to sleep again, sometime soon.

Wasps Nest - The National