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I’ve just done a quick count of the clothes that I’m carrying with me. I don’t know why I hadn’t done it before, but hadn’t. I suppose I packed in a hurry, concentrating more on getting stuff into storage than what I was taking with me.
So in my suitcase (plus what i’m wearing right now) I have:
11 pairs of underpants
14 pairs of socks and one odd one
7 shirts (2 of which are short-sleeved)
2 pairs of jeans
a pair of shorts
an anorak-type jacket
1 pair beach shoes
1 pair ordinary shoes
I generally only wear one shirt or t-shirt in a day, I can’t think of a time when I’ve had to change, apart from when I’ve been doing a lot of physical work during the day. I change underpants and socks every day. This means that I need to do a wash at least every 10 days and therefore at any time I have 10 shirts & t-shirts more than I need and 3 “spare” pairs of socks.
As it’s getting cold, I’m going to have to get my winter coat, cap and scarf out of storage. I shall probably put a few shirts and t-shirts away and leave the jacket and beach shoes behind too.
I’m writing lots of notes, but I’m not doing much with them because they’re not well-formed enough to be blog posts or brief enough to be status updates. I’m not happy with how much I’m “producing”. I don’t desperately need to fix that by producing more but I do feel the need to get a few more things done and at the same time, I’d like to be more able to collaborate with people online and face to face. I have lots of ideas, little nuggets that get squirrelled away, that I get excited with with one person, but then I don’t have time to follow up or write up. I’m also aware that my strength is in starting new things, doing them once and then moving on, but I’ve known for some time that that makes it difficult for people to buy what I’m doing, which in turn makes it difficult for me to keep doing things.
I was inspired the other day by seeing that Vinay has a public to-do list so that people can chip in. I want to go a bit further – there won’t be much that I keep hidden away because I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t benefit from another pair of eyes.
So I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to start wikifying my notes and start leaving outlines, stubby bits, half-baked ideas, lazyweb requests for help etc lying around for others to muck around with if they feel like it. I may well tweet little bits or point to things on the blog from time to time if I’m thinking I really, really want to work on this but don’t have anyone to play with.
The details of how it works will emerge – obviously if things turn into projects or products that get sold, then the people involved will have to negotiate how the work gets done and how any proceeds are shared. I’m thinking that everything will be under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. I reserve the right to change my mind and stop doing anything at all at any time, but I hope that some of it may prove useful to someone, somehow, someday.
Not sure where I’ll put it, I’d rather host something myself than put it in the trust of pbworks or similar, but I’m open to suggestions on that.
I’m playing Angry Birds a lot. Well it’s a lot by my 21st Century standards – nothing like the 1990 Tetris life-takeover, I’m certainly not dreaming about flinging birds from a catapult… yet.
However, this lovely little (read highly addictive) game is reminding me a lot about how play helps us think about life. Here are a few things (insights and prejudices confirmed) that have zipped through my head while playing.
- you work out your strategy by just firing stuff off. You can think and think and think but until you try something, you really don’t know what’s going to happen.
- sometimes you have to keep doing steps 1, 2 and 3 in order to get to 4, because you keep screwing 4 up royally.
- things are rarely exactly repeatable, some things can be just close enough, other patterns are highly dependent on a previous state.
- lessons learned in one stage might or might not be applicable in another - the corollary of this (I think) is that use of tools can be context dependent.
- there are elegant and beautiful solutions to most situations, but sometimes it’s most fun just to use brute force.
- sometimes you have to let go and stop thinking, let your body do the work without head or heart. This is a gaming lesson I learned in about 1978, playing Star Wars on a Commodore Pet and hearing Obi Wan Kenobi’s voice saying “Use the force, Lloyd”.
- patience is a virtue. you can sometimes just wait for a structure to crumble from a little undermining tap in the right place.
- if you do hit a structure at just the right/wrong spot, the results can be catastrophic (for the structure.
- there’s nothing so ugly as a smiling pig.
On my walk today I crossed two bridges both of which seemed like reasonable shelter for a #llobo tonight. Trouble is I can’t decide which one – the big wooden one has my vote at the moment, there’s a lot more space and branches with plenty of foliage to help create my bed. The concrete one won’t let the rain through though… Hmmmmm…. help me decide, folks.
Of course I jest! My kids are always ribbing me that being a digital hobo means that i live under bridges and sell buttons and ribbons in order to get food. Well I shall be tucked up tonight in my comfy bed with a big fat duvet as usual, never you mind.
It was a lovely walk though, about a 5 mile round-trip to the Chimney water meadows and the Thames (that’s the big wooden bridge over it). I walked a little up the Thames Path too, but decided I’d had enough and it was time to turn back. On the way back I saw a signpost to a Bird Hide, so I found it and went in and sat for about 15 minutes in which time I saw some Great Tits and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker… you can’t make this stuff up…
I arrived at the counter at Robert Dyas a few moments before an elderly woman. Clearly, as far as she was concerned she arrived there a few moments before me, as she put her four light bulbs on the counter and started talking to the cashier while rooting in her purse for money. That reads like there might have been some conflict between us, there wasn’t, I didn’t seem to exist to her. The light bulbs came to £3.98. ”Oh” she said, clearly surprised at how much it was “Oh well i suppose there are four of them” She took out her change. She had two pound coins, two 50p pieces and some smaller stuff. So she had to go into her other bag where she keeps notes and after some more slow rooting she pulled out £20 and gave it to the cashier. The woman behind the counter was, I think, trying to engage with me to apologise or make light of the situation. I wasn’t perturbed deeply, I had plenty of time and I was ready to say so (I rehearsed it in my mind a few times in fact). The twinge was more when she seemed to ignore me when we approached the check-out at the same time. I just waited, and paid for my polyfilla.
I am aware that several people near to me have health problems at the moment. I continue to be interested in what that means for me, what I make of it, how I react, the extent to which simply being present and listening to them talk about what’s happening for them seems to help.
OH: “You can’t have a toy *every* time we come into town” I remember this. I remember having to learn that there were limits to the family budget and that a trip to the shops didn’t always mean something fun for me.
In WH Smiths I wanted a bottle of Diet Coke. The fridge is awkwardly in a corner so only one person can stand in front of it and take something at a time. A young man, at most 18, I’d say got there first and was indecisive about what he would take. There was an offer of any two bottles for £1.90 instead of a usual price of £1.54. It’s not clear to me always in that situation whether that means you can take one bottle of regular Coke and one of Diet. Anyway he plumped for two regulars and got out of my way. Having picked up two Diets myself, I went to the cash-desk. The young man was in the queue with his friend. What I hadn’t seen was that the queue extended behind him into one of the aisles another two or three people. So I crossed in front of him to go around. He was awkward in getting out of the way and so I accidentally kicked his foot, “Sorry”, “sorry”, “Sorry”. I felt awkward at that age, like I was in the way, but not knowing how to move appropriately, over-aware of other people’s space and terrified of messing up and of course thinking that everyone was watching, taking note and forming a judgement about me. I don’t know whether he was having that experience too, but it reminded me of me. I could feel something crawling on my arm, I thought it was a money spider that I’d seen on me earlier, but it turned out to be a ladybird. I grinned and laughed inside, refusing to brush it off and enjoying instead the tantalising tickling of its tiny feet through the hairs on my skin. I was in the queue now and it was clear that there weren’t enough staff on the tills. One of the two assistants came looking for something in the aisle I was in and she was surprised to see how long the queue was, so she rang the bell to call one of her colleagues to help. ”Where is she?”, “She’s unpacking books on the shelves”. An old lady in front of me admired a woman’s baby girl. ”What’s her name?”, “Cynthia”, “Oh that’s a nice name”, “My daughter’s just called her girl Amelie, which is quite unusual” piped up her companion, who had a copy of every celebrity gossip magazine off the shelf. “Ah, and the vicar’s girl is called Ava. not Eva, but Ava”. I finally had to brush the ladybird off as it was climbing my neck towards my ear. A red-headed boy came to help on the tills and I was soon out of there.
There was a group of young boys gathered near the market square. It was odd because it was about 2pm and they weren’t in school uniform or looking anything like they were going to school. Two of them were sharing a phone call. When I got closer it was clear that they were travellers, they were talking in that patois that sounds like you might be able to understand if you concentrated really hard.
Outside London, smiling at people in the street and saying hello to people you don’t know is a real option. I enjoy it when I remember to do it. It’s a good thing. Nonetheless, it’s something that I’m still having to practice consciously. When I’m at my best, I’m a grinning fool all over town.
I’m mildly disturbed by the levels of obesity I see everywhere. These are not happy fat people, they seem weighed down by the world and desperate for a lighter experience.
Markets *are* conversations, but sometimes traders appear to be talking to themselves. They’re not, they’re just treading water until another customer comes along.
I had two fear-based dreams last night.
In the first I had been the witness to some nefarious activity during which I had become involved with some police officers and now the criminals would be after me so I needed to stay hidden, keep off the street and have a police guard when I really needed to go out. I felt like my life was over, that I’d made a small mistake, looking in the wrong direction when someone was up to no good, and now I was facing ridiculously harsh consequences.
A little later, I had another dream. This time I was in a car with Ian Ricketts and some other person. Ian taught me at Guildford School of Acting and is one of the singularly nicest men I’ve ever known. Really, just impeccably lovely. He was driving along with me in the passenger seat (although now I think about it, for some reason it was a left-hand drive). Suddenly he went very fast and bumped another car. We slowed down and stopped and then an automated voice said “Warning! Pedestrian attack imminent!” and sure enough a guy from the car we’d hit was coming round to the passenger-side wing, shouting and gesticulating. He then took a dive onto the windscreen, covering it completely. At this point Ian drove off, again, very quickly and then stopped suddenly so that the guy flew off the bonnet. Again, I was a helpless witness to someone getting hurt. I woke up.
I realised today that I really like this sort of thing. Taking wallpaper off, removing layers of paint. I’m not that wild about the filling of cracks, sanding down and painting bits of decorating, but I love stripping away the old stuff.
Sadly, the job I’ve got to do here this week only involves removing one layer of wallpaper but I’d really relish another go at something caked in years of DIY – I had the experience once, but the problem there was that I lived with other people who wanted it finished, nicely painted again. They didn’t see the joy of removing old paint very, very slowly – seeing the different shades, the fashions in decoration emerge and then getting back down to the bare wood.
So yeah, in search of somewhere with lots of layers of paint that want removing… slowly, no rush (in fact the slower the better)
… there you are.
I couldn’t have done this hobo nomadic thing before now. I guess I could, but it would have been very different. Before it would have been about getting away from something or trying to find something I didn’t have. I don’t feel like there’s anything I want to get away from or anywhere that I’m trying to get to today. There are some things that I feel like I should do – some things that are just in my head and on scraps of notebook and stuff at the moment and it would be disappointing for them to stay there forever, but I feel like (at least for today) I’ve let go of the fantasy that “When I have X…” or “When I’m Y enough…” or “When I’ve done Z…” then I’ll be able to be happy etc.
One of the things that I’ve come to know better through wandering is the recognition that any turmoil, drama or crisis is happening within me, it’s not the outside circumstances, it’s not the people I’m hanging out with, it’s the story that I have playing in my head. That’s what causes me any pain or disturbance. Other people may be sharing in it, but they’re having a different experience, for different reasons and doubtless playing out a different drama. And I’m 100% responsible for my own feelings about it. And that empowers me greatly, because then there’s something I can do about how I feel, I’m not dependent on anyone else for it. I can look back at my early decisions about the world and see where I’m fighting to be right about something in the face of the present reality. Because those feelings most often stem from wanting to be right about the world, wanting things to be as I’ve decided them. Wanting them to be as I decided probably 40 years ago or more.
What sort of decisions am I talking about? All sorts of things, but you can recognise them primarily by the toddler tone “I don’t need anyone’s help; Nobody loves me; Girls always steal your stuff and break it”. They’re just a selection of my favourites.
The ones that give me most pain now are things like “I don’t fit in, I’m not like everyone else, I’m not welcome here.” I remember clearly when I thought that for the first time. You see the big white van in the picture above? In 1969, people didn’t park their cars up in front of their houses like that, all the houses had walls and front gardens. But on that spot in front of the house that now has a white van, when I was four years old and newly arrived in the Croft, I went over to play with the kids from the street for the first time. I was wearing a grey duffle coat. I don’t know what happened really, some pushing, shoving, shouting? demands for money? a big push, a punch perhaps, tears? - but I came away quite convinced that I didn’t fit in that I was not welcome. And I strongly associated it with that spot. Whenever I wanted to replay the episode to bolster my belief that I’m an outsider (probably with embellishment to suit the context) I saw the toggle on my duffle coat, the lichen on the garden wall, the cold greyness of the pavement. These are the ways that we keep these things alive. A strong association with a place. And in time I’ve come to imagine that it’s still there, some remnant of the scuffle, the emotional upheaval, marking the spot in the road.
I went back there a week or so ago and knew that it wasn’t there at all. It’s never been anywhere but in my head. It’s just not there, it’s forgotten by all but me. What if I was wrong in the initial formation of that decision, what if I was wrong in all of the evidence I’ve gathered over the years to support my belief in it? What then? How might I live differently then?
So here’s something about how wrong I can be. When I was walking there, taking the picture above, I thought “Oh, they’ve moved that telegraph pole, it used to be on the other side of the road” I was quite sure of it. I thought it was very odd, I mean why would you move a telegraph pole just a few yards to the other side of the road? You’d have to connect all the lines up again and everything, it doesn’t make sense, but my memory was very clear – after all, it was not just a telegraph pole in those days, it was the acky post and as such the centre of our communal lives through those long hot summers of childhood (us, you know the kids in the street, the ones that I didn’t get on with… or well at some point i must have…). Anyway – so when I got back from my walk I got ready to write a post about the moving of the acky post and to provide proof of my discovery I went to look at this picture of my sister in about 1971 riding along that bit of pavement. And of course I found that I was wrong. The telegraph pole had always been in the same place. The lamp-post has been modified and the paving slabs have been replaced with tarmac, but the telegraph pole is in just the same position as it was 40 years ago. It was only ever somewhere else in my head.