Saturday, January 28, 2006

Non-Celebrity Big Brother

Now here's the thing. Create a TV programme which pits the fragile egos of known celebrities against each other for a few weeks. Presume that none will emerge still standing. Then put a non-celebrity in the mix who pretends to be a celebrity until found out, because it quickly becomes clear that she has no talent. She's now on an par with the others anyway.
Then watch as the proper celebs self-destruct in an orgy of over-acting, bad temper, foul language and little humanity. End result; the non-celebrity gets all the left over votes and wins. Becomes an instant celebrity. Amazing! Defies the logic of programme making and prompts us all to wonder why we need these people anyway. Aren't we all just famous in our own way?

Naw, you're right, it just couldn't happen...

Whale water

Further to the Christmas sprout, it’s whale water time! On the back of the saga of the Thames whale, I note on ebay some new items offered. One is the genuine watering can used to keep the famous cetacean hydrated in its last hours on the planet. Another is a jar of the supposed Thames water that came from said can. Now I can see the point of raising money for charity, but the people who get in on the back of good causes, well.

OK, selling the watering can is fair enough, but trying to sell whale water too? This just reminds me that all the water on this planet has been here since the earth first formed. There are an estimated 326 million trillion gallons of the stuff, 97% of it held in the oceans. Nothing added. Not much taken away. Which means that everything you drink has potentially been through millions of bodies: dinosaurs, ants, trees, paupers, Presidents, murderers, dogs, hedgehogs, poets, squid, plankton, sea cucumbers, fish and yes, even whales! I find that quite humbling. Point is you could label any jar of H2O up and still rightly claim that it was whale water. Pinning it down to one specific whale is the hard thing. More on water here and yes, I AM BITTER.

What 'jars' me most is that I didn’t think of it first.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Busy week, let’s see – highlight: finishing Slow Man by J M Coetzee. Now, I know I rave about this guy and it’s easy – he is a Nobel prize winner after all – but I just love his style. Someone once said about Beethoven that every note seems to be the right one, the only one that can fit in its place. Well, Coetzee is the same. I am looking for cock-ups, the disingenuous, repetition, a false turn; but nothing. All I see is tight prose, no fancy twists of time and place, no verbal gymnastics. Just that simple style, nailed to a strong examination of character and interlinked with a dry humour and humanity! It’s what I must aspire to.

Went for a run on Sunday, 30 minutes, exacerbated a nagging pain I have had in my hip since cycling 3 miles on a flat tyre last week. Seems to have eased now (Friday). Bev had a few aches and pains recently, bemoaned their increasing frequency. "Welcome to the forties," I told her. God knows what the fifties will be like (not there just yet).

Cold here in Bury this week, spilling over from a freezing Europe. No snow yet though. Are we expecting any? I always am when it gets cold, sort of makes up for all the suffering. Yet when it’s fresh, dry, the sun is out, what better weather. You have the feeling that the world is being scoured, stripped dry; all those damp, clinging leaves and the detritus of old autumn shrivelled and parcelled into topsoil. New growth lies ready and waiting, just under the surface of the ground, of the mind. And the English weather, the seasons of growth, decay and dormancy are perfect for poetry: Inspirational, invigorating, enthusing!

Except, I think I have a cold coming on…

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Coffee time

Visited Starbucks in Bury for the first time last week. I had convinced myself it was going to be the MacDonalds of coffee, but I was wrong; it was vibrant, welcoming, and the coffee was fantastic. I recently went two years without drinking coffee, now I have to have one strong cup a day. Who knows where this new urge came from, or what first prompted the abstinence? I'm not going to bother to work it out, just head straight for the shop next time I am in town. Such is the attraction of the brand name, the force of marketing. Or, the mystery of addiction.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Money for old sprouts

It’s Sunday evening. I’ve just listed some stuff on ebay to sell – old videos, Playstation games, that sort of thing. I see it as a form of recycling; and while I don’t expect to make too much money from it, it’s nice to think that stuff lying around for years in cupboards and attics might suddenly be used. Having said that, there is the current story of an unwanted Christmas sprout being sold for nearly £2000 recently on ebay. With a lot of the money going to charity. I did a quick search yesterday; suddenly there are any number of Christmas sprouts on offer, with varying percentages of the money gained going to charity. That’s ridiculous. Don’t these people realise that one-offs are just that; there’s no way that any one would be suckered into spending any more money on an unwanted sprout. Hold on, just getting my listing for that half-eaten Quorn sausage polished up – back in a second…

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Making sense

I have been reading up about Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. Why? Just because I can. Also, over Christmas I bought a new mobile phone. Now, the idea of all this communication seems OK on the face of it, but what information are we trading? News of Jordan’s latest enhancement? Big Brother voting patterns? Ringtones? We seem to be missing something here, and I am all for information, but it really is quality, not quantity, that I’m after.

I’m sure I have learnt a lot more since the Internet first engaged me, but a lot more of what? I used to learn a lot when I visited the library, the difference now is that I learn as and when I think about it. That immediacy can be confusing. My concentration is dissipated, the nature of the Web is to explore, to go off on those crazy tangents, probably never to return to what I was searching for in the first place. As an antidote to that I sit down, in front of a piece of blank paper, to see what my mind, on its own, throws up. That is writing.

So the essential part of me, what makes me what I am (call it personality) is unchanged by technology. Another part of me, the excitable geek, the enthusiast, the useful (to my firm or society in general) part is improved. Which one is important? Well, I would say both are, but not equally. The me that appreciates fine things, beauty, a quality of objects and their attributes is, to me, more important. But that experience is mine alone and purely subjective, a result perhaps of all the poems I have read or written, the hours spent staring at the blank page trying to communicate with myself, and through me whatever sought to bring things into being.

A result also of the time spent playing guitar, talking to people, laughing aloud, drinking beer, reading, looking, learning; in short, living. In the search for quality, not quantity, I would advise turning off the TV, switching off the computer, pouring a glass, curling up on the sofa and opening a book (preferably Shakespeare) and reading. I am taking my own advice here, which will do for now, until my Bluetooth phone beeps and tells me that, as always, the other side of life is still waiting.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Making time

It has been an uneventful start to the New Year; after a leisurely morning we go to Pizza Hut for lunch. The children manage to eat more than we do! Then we wander around the few shops that are open in Bury, as if we haven’t had enough of shopping. Other dazed families are suffering the same fate; children clutching Bratz purses or Star Wars wallets stalk the aisles in search of scraps to buy with whatever money they have left. Everything is something off and items no one wanted at retail cost suddenly become must-have prizes, as the discount stickers glow on the shelves in phosphorescent red and yellow.

Still, that’s Christmas. Over. Tara and her kids come round for the afternoon, Bev irons and Tara and I list a couple of items for sale on eBay, my first. Oh the excitement of selling tat! Must send some emails out too, firstly to wish family the obligatory New Year happiness, then to advise members of the writers' group of the date of the next meeting. I don’t make resolutions, so have none to list, except to resolve to do more writing, more meaningful writing, which I class as drafts, synopses and corrections. This is the unromantic bit, the perspiration, the 99% slice of the pie. Also, I need to enjoy this part more, which I now do, thanks largely to the feedback and interest from the group. It has been a productive year, but I need to get better, so I resolve only to:

Watch less TV.

That should provide some of the time needed. Also;

to do less shopping.


No problem there then. I feel more productive already.