Archive for April, 2007

Awesome!!!

Kiwis are generally a nice bunch. Pretty gregarious, up for a laugh, generally pretty decent. Maybe it’s the small country attitude, maybe it’s the fact they’ve all learnt to live with each other pretty quick – everyone being a pretty recent immigrant  – by the worlds standards.

The Maoris arrived in the 14the century, and soon started beating the lining out of each other. The Europeans first arrived with Tasman in the 18th century, though the Maoris tried to beat the lining out of him so he didn’t land. The Europeans finally made it ashore with Cook – who in the grand scheme of things was really a pretty decent chap and didn’t really deserve to be eaten by those Hawaiian folk a while later. And shortly after we started beating the lining out of the Maoris cause there were no Irish to take it out on initially. And everyone got it all out of their system and we’re all as bad as each other, and no one really has the right to say it’s their country, cause it’s so recent that it’s all written down. Brief and largely occasionally inaccurate history of NZ over.

As for Ireland, people have been here for so long, we can’t remember who got here first but they’re probably dead or they’ve moved to a villa in Spain. It’s simply a system of the newcomers beating the lining out of those who were there before them, and it’s been going on for ages and that was just the way things were. But now we’ve got books and and someone started writing it down and it all seems desperately wrong to our wonderfully enlightened PC eyes so we’ll have a jolly good fight about it. And now no one can quite remember what all this fighting was over but we’re pretty sure the English are to blame somewhere and everyone’s happy with that at least. And as long as we have McDonalds and Coronation St then we’ll not cause too much of a fuss if you’ll pass the dole cheque please…

A while ago I was going somewhere with this…

Yes Kiwis. They’re startlingly nice really. Disturbingly so. Like Paediatricians. They always smile and don’t have that world-weary cynicism that the rest of the medical professional survive on. They frighten bears I hear. It’s just unnerving.

As an example I went to buy a pair of shin pads on Saturday for the footy match. I get to the check out and the teenager behind the till is instantly smiling and friendly. This is instantly disarming. He should be slacking off and picking his nose and getting complaints for being surly. He asks how my day was and I grunt an acknowledgement – feeling the need to play the grumpy teenager if he’s not willing to hold up his end of the bargain. He asks if I want a bag, which I decline, to which he replies ‘awesome’. Now, not taking a plastic bag for my one item may be a miniscule nod to environmentalism and a million more like me may just save the planet from it’s rapid and slippery descent into the dark ages but it certainly doesn’t warrant the use of the word ‘awesome’.

He wishes that I have a great day and smiles as I walk off in a huff – what does he expect, why would I want to have a great day – I’m flippin Irish! Next thing we’ll be making eye contact and having meaningful communication with our fellow human beings in the shopping mall cathedrals of the twenty-first century. This is why I do all my shopping on the net.

Now (hopefully) this is seen more of an indictment of myself than of poor kiwis. Their gentle enthusiasm in the market place is perhaps disturbing at worst, but more worrying is what superlative that kid is gonna be left to use when he scores a date with that hot chick form school. Though looking at him I’m really not that concerned…

Be nice to me will you… bah humbug

My (rather empty) space (between my ears)

I did something I’ve been putting off for a while today. And I don’t mean washing, cutting my toe nails or telling my parents that I left a ham sandwich under my bed when I left. I opened/set-up a myspace page for myself.

Ever since the bebo/myspace invasion/explosion (gosh I’m using a lot of forward slashes this blog, can’t remember the last time I used ‘gosh’ either, must be a day of firsts…), I’ve been browsing about the sites and looking at people’s little self-portraits. Which is what they are, it’s how people see themselves, or rather how they’d prefer to be seen.

For example, girls always tend to have a slightly mysterious, exotic photo of themselves which usually bears little resemblance to their usual pose or appearance. People always list cool bands in the music section and very few tend to reference their family or anything that might tie them to immaturity and remove their self-confident invincibility.

I’m not sure that the last paragraph is criticism, though I feel I’ve definitely constructed it that way. There are worse things you could do than present yourself how you would like to be. In fact there is surely something positive in declaring your love of Bon Jovi to the world, that at least takes guts.

Am I allowed to see the good and the bad of the issue or does that make me a feckless fence sitter? Either way I think the view’s better from here on this one. In his autobiography, Jonny Cash leaves lots of issues like this, describing something he experienced and making no judgement simply says ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’

Though I digress into something I didn’t even plan to discuss (the joys and the evils of bebo/myspace).

Why i really wanted a myspace page was so that I could put some of the songs I recorded on it. I’ve spent the past month trawling through websites of bands I love, mostly irish ones, in a hankering after much missed gigs at the empire. And I found lots of interesting sites, of people I know and what they’re up to and looking up their friends and realising I know them too and wasn’t sure how they knew each other.

And I kind of put it off for a while for a couple of reasons, one perhaps a tad noble and the other down right ‘unregenerate’ (I love great words that have been lost to modern culture and now considered ‘dirty’. Consider ‘doctrine’, try talking about that and watch the punters stare at their shoes!).

The first was the usual self-analysis. That I already worry far too much about how I appear before others, too concerned with the praise of men. Obsessed that I might be one who sees it all coming, that isn’t gonna be caught unawares as a cliché. I care far too much for all this already and I saw a myspace page as another opportunity for uncontrolled narcissism. And that was meant to be the noble reason…

The second was a pure and simple fear fear of exposing myself – and no it’s not that type of website… what I mean is that by sticking these things on the net I was leaving myself open to people’s opinions on them, whether I ever knew about the opinions or not.

I started writing when I was about 16 – the diary, and then I started my ‘book’ (a collection of meandering thoughts and arguments – somewhat like this) when I was 19. I was intensely protective of it and even to date have only let less than 10 people have access to it – I didn’t say ‘read it’ cause I doubt most of them ever read it. I was scared cause somehow a rejected opinion or argument would be a personal tragedy.

The same reason I hid my Bon Jovi (yes I admit it…) when I discovered Radiohead, that somehow my ‘most impeccable’ taste was tarnished because of it. ‘The important thing is what you like, not what you are like’, the cynical refrain of Hi-Fidelity rang true with me.

So I’ve been putting this off for a while you can see.

In the end I think boredom got the better of me and I just put the darn things on tonight. So feel free, listen, criticise, cringe and possibly even enjoy. I could go on an endless rant of what I don’t like about what I write and how I recorded them, but that would be even more painful than listening to the songs themselves…

As a brief post script I suggest you check out andyneill.com and see what I could have been if I’d only got that Dictaphone for Christmas when I was seven…

Oh and yes the myspace is here

The Great walk

So this another series type blog thing. Me on holiday again. Having stuck around for the first match of the season and getting thoroughly trounced, I now have five days off. So i’ve headed up (more commonly known as north) the east coast to lake waikaremoana. There are a number of ‘great walks’ in NZ, tracks that any kiwi or visitor, simply must do. This is one of them. I’ll not object to that.

Day One

Yesterday I drove up and stayed in what’s described as a fishermans cabin in the motor camp. The place was deserted (off season) and simply wonderful. I spent the evening downing coffee and the sunday paper squidging sand flies on my ankles.

I got a boat to take me to the trail head and off I went. Well I thought I was off and then 2 mins in I took a wrong turn and realised it just before the group behind me caught up, and I managed to pass it off as a coffee stop till I could see where they were going and follow them.

The coffee stop quickly extended to a 30 min session and a good read in the sun watching the clouds come in from the far side wondering if I was gonna get wet.

The walk was really 4 hours of uphill to the top of the panekiri bluff where the hut was. Through spectacular bush and with panoramic views every half hour. Wonderful stuff. I was carrying full kit (except a tent) and within 15 mins I was soaked in sweat and cursing another metaphorical grey hair.

But it was stunning. Being alone in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a continual cycle of before the throne of GOD running through my head.

So now i’m in a hut and it’s 8.20 pm and over half of the 30 here are in bed. Having spent the evening with a bar of cadburys and a wonderful english couple who’d spent a few years in their twenties in tanzania, talking about climbing kilimanjaro and life in africa and life in NZ.

When you take away modern conveniences ,people seem to become so much more open and friendly, just coming up to you and asking how your day had been, and where you were from. And I realise i’ve been here too long, one of the guys I know has some vague connection to a doctor/nurse couple i’m friendly with in work. It’s like NI all over again…

I’m not sure that I can justifiably go to bed at 8.30pm. I’m pretty sure i’ll not sleep, and anyhow i’ve not ran out of chocolate, book nor battery power. Party on wayne.

Day Two

So I went to bed at 8.45 last night and lay there for an hour listening to a guy snore and lay there another hour needing to pee but not wanting to get up. Got up and went in the end and drifted off to the new aracde fire.

Didn’t exactly sleep well so lay on after all the others had left and got at least an hour of what felt like sleep.

Thankfully it was mostly downhill and I ran parts of it indulging my lord of the rings fantasies seeing imaginary orcs at every stage. I grew up with, what could only be called, a fertile imagination and star wars and narnia just gave me the images to play with. I used to occupy myself for hours at night before I slept running through my own star wars fantasies. ‘between that flick of the light and the start of the dream’. Yet more arcade fire of course…

And so I passed all my ‘single serving friends’ along the way, and I wished them well and it was nice to meet them and I meant it. By this stage my blisters were playing up, nothing to do with my shoes just soft feet. It was easier if I just kept walking. In the end I covered 20km I think, which was decent enough.

This is all largely unaccessible bush, except by boat and so I was surprised to hear a chainsaw. I came across a hut with two guys working as a team sawing logs into fire wood. At first I thought they hadn’t heard me approach but then I realised they were just plain ignoring me (or do I mean plain ignorant). In NZ this never happens. Then an elderly man stuck his head out of the hut and said hello. The most striking feature was the fact he had a prosthetic claw hand. Like something they use in films for cutting pad locks.

I ran through a number of reasons as to why he might have this. One – he’d lost it in the war. He looked old enough. Two – he’d lost it in a logging accident, a mistake his colleagues looked like they were about to repeat. Three – he actually had a bolt cutter in his hand and had really long sleeves. All three went through my (admittedly small) mind in a few seconds. I asked him how far it was to the main hut to which he answered ‘help yourself to the water’ and walked off. I presumed he’d lost his hearing in the war too. I left wonderland as the chainsaw brothers stubbornly refused to acknowledge my really quite plain and undeniable existence.

The hut itself is a wee wooden shack overlooking a rather idyllic bay, surrounded by ridged hills covered in bush. I run out of superlatives in places like this. To my most immense joy it was empty.

I collapsed on the verandah (every building in NZ has a verandah, I want one) and lay in the sun, just managing to get my shoes and socks off and ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’ but with a greater sense of contentment and ‘job well done’. Out of superlatives again i’m afraid. Must buy one of those books that gives you alternatives for words – well I can’t think of an alternative for thesaurus can you?

Lying on a wooden floor outside an old shack, in the sun, by a lake is a pretty top moment. Unsure of what would have made it better. Then felt scared that this might be ‘as good as it gets’, then giggled that i’d made it that far down this line of thought without reality cutting in.

The lying and the dreaming lasted a good hour. But who’s counting. The silence was broken (or at least badly dented) by a family of five coming along the track. And in fact they were wonderful. And following them was a 15 strong duke of edinburgh group full of giggly teenage girls. Who were also good bant but perhaps I am more intimidated by giggly teenage girls than anything else.

So life in the hut got a bit more fun and I had a wonderful evening chatting to the teachers and kids and the family. Mostly conversations like ‘are you english?’, to which I replied ‘of course and you lot are aussies eh?’ ‘are you really a doctor?’, to which I replied ‘i might be or I might just be the janitor pretending i’m a doctor, how would you know?’ Realsing that this travelling by youself is wonderful stuff.

And so after another few chapters of my book and an hour staring at the flippin upside down stairs i’ll probably go to bed and not sleep all over again.

Day Three

And yes I didn’t sleep a wink. Oh well.

Woke (!) to a cold wet morning, not in the plan but the lake still looked pretty cool.

Reasonable length of a walk to the pick up point, passing a few more huts and meeting lots more people along the way. Virtually everyone i’ve met on this trek is from auckland and has family originating in the north of ireland. Kind of cool really. I tell the same story that my family goes back four generations on both sides and haven’t moved as much as 3 miles and that we’re all in-bred with big ears and webbed toes everywhere. Self-deprication always gets a laugh.

In the end I had an hour to wait at the pick up point before the boat arrived and it was howling with wind and freezing. So I put on all the emergency gear that i’d lugged round with me and sat on the bench reading and taking self-portaits with my camera. Trying lots of different angles and realising that my best angle was straight on with a hat pulled over my eyebrows and my hand over half my face. Initially the irony of this was lost on me completely. I must need sleep.

The (real) green room

I’m gonna try and do a retrospective blog. In that I’m gonna write bout what happened Friday as if I wrote it Friday even though it’s Sunday. If I had an editor I’d have a deadline. But I’m just lazy.

Friday morning 6am. I’m off work, but I’m up at 6am. I an surprisingly happy at being awake at 6am on a day off. My eggy bread is frying and I’m still staring at psalm 24:1 for the fourth morning in a row. Partly bleary eyed confusion but mostly the sheer implication of it.

6.30 am, I’m driving past the port onto marine parade as just a hint of brightness begins to make its’ presence felt on the eastern horizon. The wannabe immortals are turning up in their suits to ocean spa (the gym), and the mere mortals are starting to pick up last night’s rubbish. I’m feeling judgemental and pass remarkable…

At 7am I’m standing on the gravel of Te Awonga beach with Jess (an ICU murse) staring across the bay with a rising sun in our eyes looking at surf that could only be described as less than nothing. It’s less the roaring surf and more a duck pond. Very pretty, but hardly an invitation to the green room.

So we bail on Te Awonga and head to south side of the cape to my favourite beach – the imaginatively titled ocean beach. And it’s crisp; the sun is glaring, dominating the horizon. There’s not even a hint of a cloud, nor even the suggestion that one might turn up later if it’s bored. This is New Zealand.

So we gear up in our neoprene monkey suits and head for the surf, me trying to look like I know what I’m doing.

15 mins in I stand on the board for the first time in my life. I am so overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction I immediately fall off and inhale some seawater. Jess graciously offers a ‘gnarly move dude’ sign from out beyond me.

I manage to repeat this a number of times over the next hour. I am hooked. Most of the time, the wave is beginning to die out by the time I get round to standing. Indeed they were mostly moving into retirement villages and getting hip replacements by the time I was struggling to lift myself off my belly.

Occasionally this meant I would be left standing on the board as all forward momentum stopped and I simply sank.

My previous attempts at surfing (all 3) were mostly on short boards, intended for actual surfers as opposed to muppets like me. The board I was using today was a long board (technical term that) or mini-mal (short for Malibu, as opposed to some horrible mini-me copy), so it was more like standing up on a small boat than a real surf board. Much easier. I’ll take all the advantages I can get.

After 90 mins we’ve been swept half a km north by the rip and my arms are burning with the effort of paddling. I am a happy man.

I spend the afternoon looking at boards in surf shops in town. I surprise even myself by resisting the urge to impulse buy one.

I buy it the next morning.

Metaphorical grey hairs

The discovery of your first grey hair is a certain revelation. An obvious time for epiphany. That you ain’t as young as used to be. Now I am prone to melancholy and reflection and I certainly like to think of myself as old before my time.

So I’ve been finding metaphorical ‘grey hairs’ for years. I would say since before I needed to shave but I still don’t really need to so maybe that’s a bad example.

To be honest when I found my first grey hair I was pretty surprised. This was largely cause it was growing out of the centre of my forehead. I kid you not. I have a single white hair that grows out of the right side of the centre of my forehead. You may or may not want to know this but it makes a good party trick and almost as good as having a double dangly bit at the back of my throat. I call it the double dangly bit because the almost knowledgeable aren’t too sure what i’m talking about when I say double uvula.

Enough of party tricks.

So the forehead hair I call Delilah and requires roughly a 2 monthly trim. I have no issued with Delilah. She doesn’t make me feel old.

The second grey hair I found was in my eyebrow and I wasn’t entirely sure that it wasn’t a left over burnt one from lighting the gas stove.

But yesterday I found one on my left temple. Growing almost perpendicular to my scalp, as if to make itself stand out from the crowd. Hey look at me. So perhaps I am getting old.

Contrast with the feeling that I’m still as ‘dazed and confused’ as I was at the age of 16 and if anything I see a downward spiral in my neuroses. I do not feel like how I thought I was meant to feel at the age of 25.

I started keeping a diary/journal at the age of 16. For two reasons. One, I’d asked out a girl I’d fancied for months and got rejected. Unrequited love in a 16 year old is not an uncommon introduction to loathing self-pity and melancholy. The second was a family thing and not relevant here.

I never return to read what I’ve written before. Mostly cause it would be a monstrous waste of time that would be much better invested in say, watching paint dry, or writing this.

But from memory, certainly from an emotional point of view, I’m not much further on from where I started. (Except that I’ve perhaps learnt that if you never get involved in love then it never becomes unrequited – so maybe not a good example of a lesson learnt, pass the whisky… And maybe a counting crows album…). I’ve rationalised and explained my existence on various levels and perhaps am much more settled in my craziness, indeed becoming rather attached to it.

When I look at my peers I see a certain self-assured confidence. That ‘yes I know where my towel is’ (apologies for obscure hitch hikers reference, but stay with me…) or that ‘i was born to be this’. People around me seem to ooze this, taking everything in their stride. Though I sense I (at times) have a tendency to exude a similar vibe. At least I certainly try to.

So I’m not sure how you’re meant to feel when you’re 25, and again pretty sure this ain’t the point. And so there comes a quiet acceptance that this is the way it is, that the ‘craziness’ is here for good. As coldplay sang:

‘so I counted up my demons
Saw there was one for every day
And with the good ones on my shoulder
I chased the other ones away…’

In ‘life after god’ by douglas copeland the guy laments reaching his early twenties cause he’s terrified there may be no more new experiences. The fact that he’s fallen in (and out again) of love and has had all the basic emotional rides and that life from here on in is the slow asphyxiation of suburbia and a ‘quiet peaceful death’.

That tends to resonate somewhere within me but on this i’m sure – that I have time (an eternity of it) to see if there is an end to new experiences of grace and glory. ‘When we’ve been there 10000 years…’ and all that.

Lifestyle

So I was on a wee day off today. Doing the usual, lying in my pit. My phone rang, a kind of unusual experience here, I get used to having things planned and my social circle is inevitably quite small so there’s not much phone action.

And it was my landlord, well not my landlord, the rental agency who are managing the tenancy for the owners. The owners are back in town and want to see the place (I don’t think they’ve seen it since they bought it), and would next week be OK. Of course (I’ll not be here I’ll be off in the mountains).

And then she asked how I was enjoying the place and did I like the ‘lifestyle’ here. I answered yes of course and the call ended. But the question hung with me, was I enjoying the ‘lifestyle?’ Made me think about what exactly my lifestyle here is and what maybe it’s expected to be and what it should be.

The escape from the urban centres in NZ is to places termed ‘lifestyle blocks’, big houses in the country with some land so you can play at the country life. ‘Lifestyle’ is marketable and way of life. I live in a flash block of apartments that’s only just opened. It’s got a swimming pool and a gym and is the type of place where ‘young professionals’ live. It is not the type of place I would have expected myself to be. Gyms and young professionals aren’t quite me. Yet of course I can’t escape that I am a young professional, my distaste for the lifestyle is all the more acute cause I know I’m a part of it, no matter what I might think.

The ‘lifestyle’ the woman on the phone expected from me is what the pictures looked like on the brochure for this place. Young, beautiful people (me of course…) relaxing on balconies in the sun with sunglasses and glasses of wine with some others relaxing by the pool below and women returning form shopping trip with bags of shoes. The Ikea nesting instinct (refer to fight club for the reference) being paramount. This is not something I normally respond to kindly. If only for the fact that it appeals to me so much – well apart from the shoes.

‘Peace, reassurance, pleasure are the good I seek’, wrote CS Lewis in a disturbingly honest poem. At heart I’m the same. The heart of man is deceitful above all things. I need no reminder of that.

But all my pious, self-righteousness aside, I’m still here. I’m still in a flash flat paying more for my rent than I do anything else. The fact that I don’t have a duvet cover and a 10 quid vacuum cleaner doesn’t change that. The seductiveness of the opportunities available is all around me. Why bother with mortality, guilt, justice and pain when you have Sky and 40 channels. Why bother with beauty, truth and love when you’ve got a nice leather sofa (that I’m sitting on as I type) and you’ve got some lovely walking boots for 80 quid (which I’ve just bought and feel rather guilty about, hence the blog, salvation through confession is a dubious principle….)

It is perhaps true that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist, and that the masses of western civilisation are unknowingly suffocating in a fantasy world of denial, self-justification and self-worship. But then I am vulnerable only to that which is common to all men. ‘Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the good I seek’ remains true for me, but all too often forgotten.

A day in the life

Originally thought I could do an April Fool’s blog and fool you into thinking that I’ve done something mad or crazy, but then realized I didn’t quite have the imagination for that kind of thing. And I have this nagging inability to lie convincingly. Especially when I know I’ll have to admit it. When it comes to lying over petty things with no chance of discovery, or lying in the face of plainly obvious facts then I’m your man.

So instead you’ll get a ‘day in the life’ thing, but not quite like the Beatle’s song, if only cause I didn’t ‘roll out of bed and drag a comb across my head’ – there not being enough hair, and me not owning a comb.

Got up at 8am. Standard morning time at the weekends. I tend to get up at 6am on the weekdays, but I go to bed at like 10.30pm here so it’s no sacrifice.

Made it to church for the first time in two months. And before I’m cast down as a heathen I was in the south island for the first month and have worked 3 out of the past 4 weekends.

It was cool to be back. In no way have I made relationships in the place that I could in any way compare to home. Maybe I expected more but perhaps I was unreasonable. In some ways it’s weird, cause there’s only about two other people my age who go there. It’s mostly older couples and their kids. But they’re a good bunch.

I was playing bass, which got me out of having to actually talk to people. I still find stuff like that a bit tough. I think I find church easier when I have a role, something to do. Now of course chatting to folk and enjoying their presence and sharing their burdens is, I imagine, immeasurably more useful than playing bass but hey…

Coffee and hot dogs after church, in church in fact. We (I?) could definitely learn a few things. The homeless guys who come to the church regularly always get served. Perhaps another lesson we could learn.

From church I made it home to sit on the sofa and write a few emails and check if there was any one on Skype. Though it was 1 am back home by that stage and the only one I saw on was Bart and I’d spoke to him the day before and I thought he might be a bit tired!

I had to be in Havelock North for a footy match for 2.30 pm, which I made it to for 3pm! I started at centre-back and was instantly knackered. This, despite running three times a week for a few weeks. The fact that I’m only 25 for a while longer is hitting me. Somehow that one extra year seems to make all the difference when I think about it.

I’m part of the Division 1 team for Havelock North Wanderers and we were playing the Premiership team for the same club. Makes it all sound very professional. But when you realize that I’ve been brought in as an outfield player as some kind of ‘star player’ then you’ll know the type of level we’re at.

We got thoroughly trounced, mostly due to fitness but also due to a lack of basic understanding in how to move the ball about the park. Every ball was a panicked long, over the top ball, straight to their feet. I managed to get a couple of triangles going at one point of the game, which was a wonderful idea but poorly executed due to my complete lack of ability. They were not so much triangles as straight lines. Barely straight, at that.

I always wonder how much of stamina and endurance is actual physiology or is it all just psychology. If I’m optimistic I favor the former, but if I’m honest I’ll concede it’s probably more the latter, and all this running about seems like a lot of hard work to me.

So, spurning the offer of an after match beer in the club house (apparently free – what a bizarre concept, would certainly have the punters piling in at home), I headed home to quietly expire on the floor.

However it was a sunny day, and everyone knows I’m a sucker for a sunbeam. So instead of heading north I went west, over the hills to the beaches, with John Piper on the stereo. The drive remains one of the loveliest round here. Through vineyards, orchards, over the Tuki-Tuki (following the Maori tradition of naming things twice, eg Onga-onga and Auckland-Auckland…) river and with views of Te Mata (pronounced ‘tomato’ in Belfast accent) peak and over the brown hills of hawke’s bay.

Ended up at my favorite beach (Ocean Beach) that I’ve waxed lyrical about before. Unfortunately it was a nice day, which meant it was full of humpy, flippin people enjoying themselves. Always ruins my self-obsessed melancholy…

Dandered up the beach and lay down (or rather collapsed) in the sand dunes with the setting sun over the hills keeping me warm. Simply glorious. In fact I’ll withdraw the self-obsessed melancholy comment, it was more of a sense of perspective and gratitude that I get to live here, that I’ve been given the life I have, that I’m in possession of a righteousness and heir to promises that I neither earned nor deserve.

Stopped on the way home for fish and chips – the joy of exercise is that it justifies fried food and sat in the flat loving it and watching the BBC news podcast.

All this left me with this moment. The time to write this. The time to get another few cups of coffee down my throat. And I’m at peace. Which is a tricky bird to catch. And I’m not sure it’s the point anyhow, though it does seem very attractive as an end in itself. And I’m not even sure that I could reproduce the same peace given the same set of circumstances.

For example. I could say that the following has given me this contentment: a full belly, some coffee, my usual Sunday evening run through of the Duke Special catalogue (mercy me and mercy you, you’re still in love in spite of me… I’ve forgotten how to feel, it’s easier to fake it… I could go on…), my emails before me, the flat freshly vacuumed (yes I’m that anal…) and a new book in my hands (another bloody love letter, by Anthony Lloyd, the reporter recently kidnapped in Palestine, a great story of catharsis, addiction, self-loathing and life at the extremes. No surprise I like it really…)

Though the above list sounds a little bit of a ‘happiest when’ section from Bebo or Myspace or something. I could make a lot of lists like that but I don’t think I could follow them. I mean I don’t think they’re reproducible as a quick fix, five step plan to contentment for ‘my so called life’. And I’m pretty sure it’s not the point. So I’ll take it with a pinch of salt (whatever that means), enjoying the moment for what it is but being careful not to get too comfy.


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