Monday, September 05, 2005

Sunday: 10k run (that's 6.2 miles in English), hot (27 C) 11.00am start Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, England. I haven't done much running over the summer, concentrating on the bike instead. I'm quite fit (in one sense), but this was an ordeal too far. The friends I ran with went off well, as the practised do. I adopted a casual pace. First mile a bit of a huff, second mile felt quite good, by the end of the third I was struggling. The sun blazed, temperature rose. At the first water stop I threw a cup of water over my head; sweat ran into my eyes. I really don't have to do this, I thought but gamely carried on. My split times became uninspiring; thus I started to lose the mental edge. Now this doesn't help, for when the battle for the will is lost, no matter what the incentive (a T-shirt? A goodie bag!) tiredness creeps in. Then I started to think It would be much nicer on the bike, and there you have it; the truth is, running is not much fun. Oh it keeps you fit, tones the legs, exercises the heart (perhaps a little too much). Cycling does that too, yet is not as exhausting, as distracting (look at the scenery) or as high impact. Today my legs hurt: after 5 years of running I still can't see the point.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Spring break

Not that I had one, but the break is over. I have discovered Coetzee, courtesy of fellow members of my writers' group, sent off some poems to a regional competition, decided to put in the hard work necessary to fuel a 'career' in writing and not expect fame (and fortune) to come my way as of right.

At the moment I have the inspiration, the imagination, but not the application; that is what I intend to work on.

A revised website progress, finish off the novel, work every day on breaking out of the mould, the safe structured cycle of work, salary, endless expenditure.

It can, should, be done.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

If you're going to write a poem, first you have to feel something. You can't be lifeless, slothful, regretful; you've got to feel life. Don't be a sap, a charlatan, don't be happy with what you have, what is going on around you. Be mad, sad, joyful; pick the right things to shout about. Not commerce, work, money, sex, drudgery, TV, commodities, politics, cars, images or celebrity. Avoid these toiletries like the plague and you're more than half way there.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Getting published

Today I have two main aims:

Finding a local publisher of poetry.
Checking up the stats on my web site (of which this blog is the home page).

I'm in Suffolk, the sun is shining between showers, the late shift beckons at the printers where I work. Web stats show that most of the visits on my web site in the last couple of months have come from the Mirabot search engine. Probably just visits from their 'robot'. Otherwise just very individual visits from search engines. Need to push these figures up. It helps to blog! I haven't been lately; revising instead what I am. What I am good at. Poetry I would say, first and foremost, I can't seem to be innovative, or ingenious enough with the prose. Others are equal or better than me at the basics, viz. just getting words onto paper. Correct syntax, grammar not withstanding I need to write in a poetic style. Also my themes need to be universal, like my poems, not limited just to character. Short stories are too short, novels are a bigger canvas I can paint my ideas on, yet they take up time. Poetry is something familiar; I can hide in it.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Creeps in this petty pace

This is about time and the blog. Or, about time, Shakespeare and the blog. I mean, if the web had been around in Bill's time, or if a new 'Shakespeare' arose today, would any of those plays get written? Would he not be writing stuff instead for the BBC, teamed up with Gervais or Ali G, churning out candyfloss for the many digital channels that charm and amuse us 'to the last syllable of recorded time'?

Also, to all those who responded to my recent rash of emails requesting a look at the blog, thanks. To those who got offended by any of them, I should say "so what" but instead I'll say sorry, even to the odd two or one who got offended secondhand, without even reading any them. Criticism by proxy, she knows who she is...

Monday, March 07, 2005

What's important

I'm in a meditative sort of mood. My son has been sick for a few days with a virus. We had him checked out at the hospital on Sunday, they say it's nothing too bad, but you always wonder. My twin brother had Meningitis when he was about 7, wrongly diagnosed as flu until he started banging his head against the wall with the pain. Another doctor and he was straight in hospital for 6 weeks. Only later did we realise how close he was to the end. This was in the 60's but the same thing could happen now. We live on a precarious edge, life is so fragile, so tenuous yet somehow babies are strong, children too and adults do fantastic things like ultra marathons and giving birth. One bash on the head though and it could be all over. This begs the question - what next? You either live life trying to preserve it and fearing death, or, try to come to terms with it through faith or scientific explanation. The only truth is that sooner or later you will die. Harrowing isn't it?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

In lieu of inspiration

Two titles for short stories: "Stamped to Death Envelopes" & "Get Witch Quick". Not sure what I could do with them, maybe themes for the writer's group. Perhaps the titles will be more exciting than the stories. One job I've always fancied - headline writer for the tabloids. Now I think I could do that well...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

micvskyeno

This seems a good blog: micvskyeno. Also, bought a Yin Yang pendant off the Holistic Shop recently. Good price, quick delivery, for all those crystal/jewellery needs. Only problem was, Bev was looking over my shoulder and took a liking to some of the more, how shall we say it, expensive items. Might have to indulge her for Mother's Day.

Now, coming to that, to add to the Death Day recently envisaged (see last blog), how about a Blokes Who Do The Washing Up, Most Of The Cooking, Some Tidying Up, Clean The Car, Do The Finances And Most Of The Moaning Day?

I await Government ratification.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Death day

Just to say, 9 years ago today my Mum died, of Alzheimer's. Dad reminded me on the phone last night. We joked, as you do when subjects are a bit close to your heart, about the possibility of "celebrating" death days as we do birthdays. Of course there is no one there to receive a card (cheaper already). At least we can have them in our thoughts for a day so, for the next 24 hours, that's what I'm doing.

Speaking of attitudes to death, I'll quote a little extract from one of my favourite books, by Chuang Tzu, a fuller extract of which is here

Chuang Tzu's wife died. When Hui Tzu went to convey his condolences, he found Chuang Tzu sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. "You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old," said Hui Tzu. "It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing - this is going too far, isn't it?"

Chuang Tzu said, "You're wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn't grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there's been another change and she's dead. It's just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.

Now she's going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don't understand anything about fate. So I stopped."

Adding stuff

I'm just editing my template, adding a few links in to my other site pages. The blog is now my home page. No longer "Unkewl" George (thanks Samantha), the new dynamic web me has evolved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Do I care?

Penrich says he could have finished my kitchen in half the time.

Well, sod him, so could I!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Short and sweet

The shorter the better. In most cases, I like it long though, it gets the juices flowing. That's why novels appeal I suppose. Yet epic poems are not my style, either. Someone is moving upstairs, Oh, it's Dad, taking his cough to the loo. Must get a house with 2 bathrooms next time, or at least toilets. Next time? That whole reincarnation thang again...

Perfectly good day

To paraphrase a famous comic, I have had a perfectly good day.

This just wasn't it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Getting back

Been away for a few days, MSN land (usually I work on AOL Broadband) and for some reason (‘cos it’s free), you can’t log onto MSN during school holidays. Well, I tried. That’s not an excuse not to blog, but it let me do other things. There was family stuff going on and fixing up Brian’s scanner, that’s no excuse and I seriously wanted to blog. Then again I was doing other things as I said, mainly thinking of ideas for my piece for the writer’s group (Write Now! – Bury St Edmunds). It’s a ‘sexy short’ theme up to 1200 words. My final effort is a kind of seaside postcard theme, Large Chest For Sale. We had the meeting last night after I got back from MSN land, they laughed in a few spots, innuendo being what it is, and a titter is all I should expect from the postcard theme.

Still no developments in the search for Dawn’s murderer. I know it’s only been a few days but you expect (read hope) that the police would have dug something up by now. I don’t want it to just settle into one of those crimes that never gets solved. Bad for the town, bad for Dawn, bad for the local people scared to go out alone. Let’s have an answer soon.

Haven’t seen Ron so can’t let you know about that scenario. On holiday for a whole week away from Apple Macs, workflows, archiving and who knows what other shit will happen. Dad’s coming up from London today, need to buy some gerbils for Olivia’s birthday (strange substitute for cake!), sort my tiny pond out, and so on.

In case you want to know:

  • MSN is Microsoft Network
  • MSN land is Abingdon, nr. Oxford where my wife’s parents live.
  • Brian is my father-in-law
  • Arsenal 5 Crystal Palace 1

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shit happens, but this is bad

Nothing much to be happy about recently. Weather OK, I'm doing my chores, not enough writing, but there's some serious stuff going on. First there's the thing with Ronnie, gets you thinking (gave Bev a big hug and told her, you know, those three words). Now, there's been a murder in the town. Not only that, unthinkable in these parts, sleepy Suffolk, possibly the safest place in the world, but the lady in question worked at the same firm as me. In short, I knew her. Now that makes you feel bad. First, she was a missing person. You're thinking, sometime she is going to show up. Then, a body is found, it's her, now it looks like she was attacked at a local beauty spot, out running. She was quiet, thoughtful, mad on fitness, diet, good at her job, but now she's dead.

No-one really knows what happened, and 'though I believe that there is an afterlife, that the soul leaves the body and rejoins whatever deity is responsible for this sad, sick but occasionally joyous world, I just can't stop thinking about death, and poor Dawn's murder, and wondering how it can be that someone who you used to say hello to is suddenly not there anymore. I have known people die before; Mum, my Grandparents for example, but it was expected. Sad, but expected. This sudden stuff is just too much to take. My heart goes out to all who knew her and I'm going to dedicate a poem to her, when the emotion has worked through enough to let me see more clearly. And I hope they find out what happened to her, who was responsible for this tragedy, soon.

Rest in peace.

Friday, February 04, 2005

This one's for Ron,

Firstly, it's never easy when your world is suddenly turned upside down and you are shat on from a great height. Like Ronnie, whose long relationship with Liz is currently teetering on the brink. When it happens, and it will sometime happen, you can look on it either as a challenge or a defeat, 'though it'll just seem defeat for a long long time. I don't know Liz, except by the mostly complementary things that Ron has said about her over the years, but I get the impression of a kind, fun, conscientious lady who likes buying from catalogues. Oh, and cats (not buying from cats, but liking cats). Which makes it harder to understand why she has left the cats, catalogues and Ron behind. Moved out, gone to live in suitcase land with a friend, Caroline. There's someone else involved, of course, there always is, who has created the same chaos in his own house as currently exists in Ron's. But that's what we do; in the end material things, comfort, pets don't cut much when for whatever reason we cut loose. Midlife crisis? Too easy. Out of love? Stifled? Mental case? Probably. We're all mental cases, looking around for judgments, satisfaction, some purpose when we feel that life is slipping by. I blame work; without it the tensions just don't appear. As couples we spent too much time apart. Then again, sometimes we spend too much time together! Of course Liz's 'new' man works with her, as does her friend. Whatever they have shared they share as workers, but now she enters a world where she can't get away from the everyday. It's there with her friends, her co-workers as they sit round the TV in the alien environment they have created for themselves.

I feel for them.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It's true

It's me. For a while I thought it wasn't, then I built up a scenario in my head of how Penrich was going to supercede me, Penrich was going to slip into my mind and overhaul all the delicate feelings, emotions and fine tuning I'd built up over the years (told you it was late in that last blog). Well, turns out it was me all along! What about that, seems I've been writing poetry, novels, even sending stuff off to be churned by the rejection mill, for years. I always suspected it. Times I've woken up, slumped over the dining table, pen in hand and a few pages of semi-erotic prose under my head. On these occasions it's all I can do to drag myself out to work. There, the illusion vanishes; I am alone with Macs, PCs and print problems, the whole meaning of the day has gone.
So, it's me, and I'm going to sign myself with pride, not worry about how it will look when I come out from behind the mask of my alter ego and declare myself at one with him!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who is this?

I've told you about Penrich. The truth is even stranger; he woke me up in the middle of the night, forcing things into my head, strange thoughts, I s'pose you could call them thoughts. I couldn't sleep after that, then I knew I had to do something about it. Why fight him, when I want to be like him? Perhaps I will let him into my life, slowly (I don't want him to get too bigheaded).

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Did I mention?

How dull it's been here lately. I've got a bike, crusty with all that crap that comes off the road in January (you know, the salt & grime they put down here to keep the ice at bay) in the garage, thinking about going rusty. I woke up this morning thinking about being sick, then I realised it was Saturday and quickly got better. Still not quite right but I don't intend to do a lot. Arsenal are playing later and I'm getting nervous about that. Might tune into arsenalmuse to see what he thinks of the current situation (Championship gone, defence a bit ropey). Need to do a bit of DIY, since the kitchen I put in last April still needs finishing off (what can I tell you, I'm a writer not a builder). Thought I'd do a quick blog instead. More later.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Time - a poem

This poem sort of goes with my last blog:

Time

I waste the lost hours
playing games—in the fun
of distant worlds, and words framed
from disappointment, another hour ticks by.

My disease is framed, in a circle.
Two remote hands edge, a semaphore
to the knowing, ever closer,
now nearer now far apart.

My daughter cannot tell the time.
Cannot tell it, it doesn’t matter to her
that things divide into other things,
and then dissolve.

It doesn’t matter to her that photographs
are lost, and with them memories
as if it wasn’t all contained
eternally, as if the brain had failed.

Is it an element then? Or an arbitrary
division of the moment, of anticipation
over before indulgence. Time;
convenience or torture,

dragging us onwards, admonishing,
with the wagging finger of electronics
or the old Grandfather,
monotonous, severe,

an heirloom of the family,
that ticks over arguments
and the door that closes
for the last time.

Defining moments

Dismal day here in Suffolk, raining, grey, that shivery kind of cold weather that gets in your bones, nose, everywhere and makes you remember the hot days of summer. One in particular I recall, driving down to Bev's parents' place in Abingdon. Get there, sticky in the car but although its only a little Skoda Bev made sure it had air con when we bought it (I was, I admit, sceptical about the need), so the journey with the kids was pleasant enough.

Anyway, stepped out of the car and blam, even hotter in Oxfordshire than it was in Suffolk! Walked through to the garden, and they have a long, long lawn, I can see it now, in my mind, can feel the sun, hear the kids running along after me, happy to be released, looking for a ball to kick, a cat to play with, or just run, run up and down the lawn until one of them falls over, laughing and the other one collapses giggling on top.

What does this all mean?

Imagination, that's what it all means, and memory, the ability of the human mind to hold everything inside, through a jumble (I use the word loosely, clearly it isn't) of neural pathways and biochemical reactions (OK, OK, so I've got a degree in Biology) and recall any feeling, any picture from the mind's eye, in an instant. Why? To give pleasure, to reinforce, to remind ourselves that the world is on the whole a wonderful place full of experiences, tastes, feelings, colour, light, degrees of heat and that everything is to be savoured and relished. Who knows, it may even be true that we come back again and again to experience it all over. If we choose to do that, it can't be all bad, can it? So, throw some more rain down at me, I love the contrasts in life, don't you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Winter warmer

We're in the middle of an English winter, one of the 'modern' ones, i.e. not much snow, lots of rain, gales, some icy nights; a bit of everything. Kids are happy with a few snowflakes swirling about for a couple of hours. Older people are not impressed - what happened to 6 foot snowdrifts, cracked pipes and toboggans? If it's global warming then we have something to worry about. If it's just normal climate change (into or out of the next ice age) then I s'pose we can put up with it. Remember the winter of '63, so my Dad says. Oh yeh, I remember it (the year we thrashed our sledges down Kite Hill on Hampstead Heath). Later I learnt how Sylvia Plath was so depressed she put her head in the gas oven (not far away from us, she was living in Primrose Hill at the time).

Now poetry is usually a way of getting us out of a mess rather than in one. We write in moments of duress - someone close dies, a love affair fizzles out. Sylvia couldn't get that death wish out of her. She tried poetry; gut wrenching, almost too private stuff, very personal, but it wasn't therapeutic, it just kept on compounding the faults, the interminable winter just added to the burden. Not even her kids could keep her going, her husband (the poet Ted Hughes) had left her, what was it all about? So she took the way out she had tried before, and whether it was a cry for help or not, she did it too well, and died. The same way Berryman died, and numerous others, jumping off bridges or drinking themselves into oblivion. So, was poetry a burden to all of them? Or was it perhaps the only expression they had, always under duress, for diverse reasons, all of them universally unhappy, unadjusted, taking out in poetry, because it is the purest form of speech.

I don't think it was the winter, or poetry, or even her love affair with Hughes that did it. For Sylvia anyway, it was almost her destiny. Her soul was sensitive, needed to learn some lesson, leave something in life (her poems), as a signpost to others, to perhaps stimulate them when faced with the same depressions, the same blank wall, 6 foot drift of snow in an English winter, when winters really meant something, came upon us with a roar, before our centrally heated, double glazed and globally warmed modern existence began to cancel them out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Starting somewhere

Blogging. The name has been jumping out at me for the past few weeks. I'm reading a book now on it, sort off jumped out at me from the library shelves. Blogging, by Biz Stone. Telling me how to get started. So, I thought I would have a look at the blogger.com site, just to see. No commitment, just get in and get out. It's Sunday evening, and I haven't got a lot of time to set things up. Celebrity Big Brother is on (UK version, I don't even know if it's global yet). It will be - there's a fascination with looking at other people, ordinary people, living their lives in a goldfish bowl. I don't even like it, but it's on and I am trying to find other things to do.

There are lots of them. I could polish up some of my novel, send it off (again) to an agent or publisher. Just to see it come back. Recently it doesn't even do that. Are publishers that busy? Is the book that bad? Self doubt never hurt anyone. I could polish up a few poems, make them shine, dazzling so that no-one can ignore them. Browse the Web looking for sports articles, stuff on the Arsenal. Cricket - does anyone remember that? Speaking of Arsenal, we won today, 1-0 against Newcastle.

Which brings me back to the blog. The arsenalmuse set me off I suppose, he's written some stirring stuff about the team, in a distinctive style, almost philosophical in his 'musings'. I've got a web site, and it always seems so static (Biz Stone mentions this as well). Update a page, a few pages, post them up, look at the stats a few weeks later, lose enthusiasm for a couple of weeks, a month. I've removed the date on the home page so that no-one will know how infrequently I update! They know now. Here's a poem.

Feline

You're a cat all right,
don't know anything
but cat things, at the back door
squealing to come in,
looking for scraps, comfort,
the food that no one else brings you.

You're a cat all right,
collar against fleas,
face against mine, just
want some comfort, anything
this time in the morning,
early, and I'm writing.

Is it love? Or is your tongue
just searching for salt. Is it love
that brings you back through the night?
Knowing that if nothing
better comes up, the hope will be
that one day, when the ninth life
has leached away, you will take
some of that affection with you.

May it wash off on me,
because I often need
the crumbs of comfort,
the warmth of a hand,
the fur of delight,
rubbing against me
through me, with me.

The upshot is (I know you'll be glad to sense an ending) I have set up a blog. Later I'll link it to my website, do some advanced things with it. For now, I'm happy to be starting somewhere.