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Photo by Patrick Hadfield
I’ve got a last-minute slot to do my show about this year’s American trip at #C4CC again tomorrow night. I’m working on some other dates too but if you’re around in London it would be great to see you, do bring a friend! And remember #C4CC can’t serve booze, so bring a beverage or two to keep you warm
Too late to be messing around with paid ticketing so just let me know you’re coming here: http://plateshow02.eventbrite.com I’ll be passing the hat for pecuniary contributions.
Having raised the idea and let it percolate through me for a week or so, I know now that I really do want to settle for a while but I’m not sure how to do it. I need to switch gear somehow and start doing things differently. I trust that I’ll get direction by putting it through the same process that I’ve been using all along, which is to say here what I want and the options I can see, ask you all for help and go with what comes back. On Friday night I was singing the praises of this process, which did get me all the way from San Francisco to New York City in a month with lots of fun and adventure along the way, but somehow I’d forgotten that it can be applied to whatever I’m doing.
So, what do I want?
I want somewhere to live in London for the next two or three months, starting as soon as possible (yes I could move in tomorrow) and on to mid-February at least. After all, for the last two years, in March I’ve been setting out to conquer the USA, so that feels like a good window. I also want a reliable income that covers my basic needs.
I’ve learned that there are certain minimum things that I need above and beyond a roof over my head:
- I’m not highly fussed about location as long as it’s safe, clean and warm. I can live right in the middle of the city but have found that living any further out than Zone 3 means too much of a commute for me. I use public transport a lot and I like the freedom of being able to purchase a weekly travelcard. I do prefer being in the South and West of London because that’s where my beloved and a lot of my support network is, but I’m glad to say that in the last year I have shed much prejudice and strong attachment to the area in which I live. Before, I felt very identified with having a postcode that started with W or SW…
- I need at least the privacy of a space with a door that I can close. I live best when I can sleep when I need to and not feel obliged either to stay up later or to get up earlier than I feel like in the day. I also live best when I can comfortably practice prayer and meditation in a private space.
- If there have to be animals around, then count me as a cat person. I am not a dog hater, but I don’t really get them. Dog-sitting would feel like very hard work to me. To the best of my knowledge I have no allergies to any type of pet.
- Much of my work and social activity is internet-enabled. Access to a stable, fast and relatively high-capacity internet connection, beyond that provided by my phone contract is important.
- I need regular exercise above and beyond walking. I like to swim. I’d love to be able to swim most days.
- I need to be able to make music and make a noise from time to time. I get very cranky if I spend more than a few days without getting my ukulele out and singing without worrying about what the neighbours will think or whether I’m disturbing anyone.
- I have found in the last four months that I need an absolute minimum £2,100 (before tax) a month to live comfortably. That includes travel and storage of my stuff, which would reduce if I were able to find a place to pause and unpack for a while, but it doesn’t include any rent or utility bills.
- I have no regular income or savings at the moment, but I’m in that chicken and egg position of finding it difficult to commit to regular work without a regular home and vice versa. So the opportunity to gain either one would help.
To me, the ideal solution sounds like a 2-3 month house-sit for someone who’s going somewhere for the winter and some work that provides me with a basic income but also time to write and create (I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to download from my brain from the last few months!) However, I know that my imagination in these circumstances can be severely limited, I’m up for all sorts of suggestions.
I’m going to stop worrying about this now and let you do your thing.
The other kids in our road, they all knew each other already. I didn’t know how to introduce myself, how to find my way into their group. How do you get people to play with you when they don’t know you and you’re completely convinced that they don’t want to play with you and anyway you don’t actually want to play with them, you were just pushed out of the front door by your mother and told to get out from under her feet and go and play with the other children? You’re stuck. Stuck between not being wanted in the house and not really having a place in the street. How do you do it, how do you deal with being new and feeling different?
Well if you’re me in 1970, and five years old, you choose “being brave”. On the outside, being brave looks like quietly sitting there, on the edge, doing your own thing, watching, listening, making silent contact and then doing something outrageous and audacious to get other people’s attention, to make them laugh, most probably. But on the inside, being brave means not showing how you’re really feeling, pushing the fear and the worry and the desperate, clawing need to cry down, away, finding somewhere in your body to hide it, to hold onto it so that it doesn’t come shooting out. Because if it comes out, it’s so awful that it will probably hurt someone or frighten them really badly. It’s a really bad thing to let that stuff out.
Above all being brave means that you must never, never, NEVER, cry in front of the other kids. It’s pretty poor form to go and cry to mummy too, but they probably won’t find out about that. It’s never a good idea to tell anyone about any of this – if you tell other boys, they’ll call you a sissy, if you tell girls, they’ll be sympathetic to your face but then they’ll go and tell the other girls that you’re a sissy, if you tell a grown-up, they’ll tell you to get out from under their feet and go and play now, please, don’t be a baby.
Being quiet and contained gets you respect and a kind of awe because they can’t quite work you out. Boys must always be brave. If girls are upset by anything, they will probably shout and scream and sit and whisper loudly to each other about it and then tell the teacher that it was that nasty boy’s fault. But it’s a good thing to be a brave boy, that’s how to get love, acceptance and admiration and if you keep being a brave boy, eventually you’ll be a brave man, like Captain Scarlet or Robin Hood or Neil Armstrong.
So yeah, sit on the edge, perform audacious acts that nobody else would think of doing and never, ever show any signs of weakness. And don’t even think about going home, your home’s out there now, sonny Jim, on the street.
I sat in the Bathtub That Must NOT Be Overfilled this morning and watched while the water ran away. A tiny whirlpool formed above the plughole, but that wasn’t the first I noticed of it. A single, bright, naked bulb shines above and slightly to the bather’s left (assuming that the bather assumes the traditional facing-the-taps seating position). The tiny whirlpool casts a shadow on the grey enamel of the bath. It looks like a black sun, or rather, the sun in total eclipse with a corona of slightly bent and focused light around it. It throbs. It flickers. It circles around an area to the upper right hand side of the plughole.
It really does look like a sun. What if the sun, our sun, any sun, any star were just a shadow of a whirlpool somewhere else, at some distance? A shadow cast by some much bigger, brighter, even more powerful light source somewhere over our left shoulder. And then I remembered that the whirlpool itself is an effect caused by the rotation of the earth. Even though it seems to float there on the surface of the water of my bath, occasionally sucking in bits of fluff and soap bubbles and thrusting them down the drain, it’s just a shadow of a much bigger event. This is derived from that. That is derived from this.