December 31: so are they rubbish?

This is my 50th post on and as a kind of coda to the blog, I can view, as from a great height, the preoccupations which have littered the space. They provide, I suppose, a jigsaw profile.

I am interested/irritated by my routine (my cafe, my seats, my eating habits): by words and their imperfections; by contemporary culture; by the gap between the imagination and reality; by being unable to conclude; by class; by looking back at the past again (often childhood); by familiarity; by mistakes; by randomness.

So are they rubbish? The investigation continues.




December 31: where I sit

There are seven places where I like to sit in my flat.

My preferred seat of the moment is at the end of my sofa from  where I can peer down my corridor to see if anyone is coming (who could be coming?). The sofa has a wide arm on which I can set my drink. I can adjust the Venetian blinds behind me for optimum reading light. To my left and within reach is music on top of a bookshop of recently acquired books. The only disadvantage is the proximity of the kitchen and its noisy fridge and washing machine. Also, I can’t watch the telly from this seat.

To watch the telly I make use of my second faviourite seat, which is an armchair. The problem with this armchair is the problem of much modern furniture. It is too deep and my bottom cannot reach the back of the chair which for best back care is where my bottom should be sited. As this is also a leather armchair, when I try and push towards the back of the seat my pants are unable to retain grip and I slide forward. Havoc! For both back and digestive system. Still, I can see the telly from this armchair.

Sometimes, to vary my posture options, I sit cross-legged on the rug. This is a noble effort to help the back but I rarely spend long down there. This is my third seat.

My fourth seat is on the side of the bed. Sometimes, late at night, early morning, or even mid-night, i sit there and have metaphysical ruminations. I bow my head and contemplate my legs, which are perhaps one (or two) of my best features.

My fifth seat is in the office where I type this text or check my emails. I have to do this in the office bacause, despite the claims of Infinity, I seem to be unable to get WiFi, so I have to plug the computer up to the box with the blue lights telling me I can get WiFi. The office seat is meant to be where I perform writerly duties but It is not. I use the office mostly for drying clothes.

My sixth seat is the kitchen table for eating. For eating I face away from the cooker which has helped in the preparation of the fare. It is as if I do not want to be aware of the labour that preceded it but rather prefer to put cooking and eating into seperate bubbles. Why would I want to do that?

My seventh and final seat is on the opposite side of the kitchen table. That is where I accomplish my non-internet writerly tasks. Here the wall is behind me. Nobody could creep up behind (who would be creeping up behind?). I plug the laptop in over my shoulder. I have as much current in it as I could need. I can look obliquely out of the kitchen window for inspiration or dstraction. I am in the kitchen, at the heart of the operation that is my life. What better seat could I require? Sometimes, when I feel well, I like it here best of all.

These are my seven seats.

December 30: happiness, choice, families, community.

Happiness is problematic. Macdonalds claims to be interested in spreading happiness. As an adjunct it is also interested in spreading bad eating habits, and what it is mainly interested in is making money. The problem with happiness as an aspiration is that other stuff is smuggled through along with the happiness. Happiness must be the most popular vehicke for this kind of smuggling.

Choice. To have choices you need to belong to a certain culture, live in a certain place and probably have some money too.

Families. They are always hard-working and have certain values. Families are not a value in themselves.Do we ever talk of Fred West’s family values?

Community. Are communities ever negative? Do we talk of the Nazi community?.Probably a word best avoided, as its connotations have overpowered its basic meaning.

I suppose choice and family are right-wing preoccupations, but community is probably left-wing.

And I can’t escape using the word happy.

I suppose words are just stained.

December 29: happy christmas or happy new year? hic et nunc.

On December 29 you find yourself caught between wishing people a happy xmas or a happy new year? Do you look back or do you look forward?  Happy undefined middle bit!

If there is a truism in New Year resolutions in the contemporary west it is the desire to live more in the present. This despite the trend for technology to always pull us away from where we are, from the person or people we are actually physically with: by smartphone, skype or social network; by the costant consumption of culture in its musical and cinematic forms especially. On the tube everyone is headphoned out of their environment. In a 1970s film this would be a dystopia.  The modern self is dispersed, shattered, fragmented. It is now acceptable to be tweeting while in a meeting; MPs are tweeting instead of debating in Parliament. We are rarely fully present despite our avowed aim to be in the here and now.

Modern man is a non hic et nunc animal. He is mainly absent .He is dispersed in the stratosphere, the blogosphere, the fantasyosphere. Little parcels of him drift around, mostly ineffectually, fractions of the whole animal.   

December 18: what is Truth? a winter conversation.

Here’s how a coversation goes in winter.

– There’s another Antarctic expedition in the news, I see.

– Or is it the Arctic?

– What are the differences between the North and South Pole anyway?

– Good point. There’s features article for you.

– Or a board game fro Christmas. Forget your Kendall Mint Cake, go back three squares.

– And Prince Harry’s been out there.

– That was big news.

– Snow’s big.

– Do you remember a few years ago when you had to have the word snow in the title of any book for it to sell?

– I tried reading one.

– Good?

– Snow can’t shift the story forward. Just comments on it. It’s a pathetic fallacy.

– Yeah, Pathetic. Unless you have an avalanche. That could shift the story.

– Could shift the snow. Do you know that the Innuits…

– Eskimoes.

– The Innuits have over one hundred words for snow.

– That’s not strictly true. It’s just that in the Eskimo language…

– Innuit.

– In the Eskimo language adjectives are integrated into the noun. So you have ‘fluffy-snow’, ‘slushy-snow’, ‘thick-snow’, ‘icy-snow’ and so on.


– Did you just make that up?


– Maybe. I may have read it somewhere.


– Do you just make stuff up in conversations?


-Yes. But after all, as Pilate says in St John’s Gospel ‘What is Truth?’

(This, by the way, is a good way to end all conversations on top. The best line in any gospel where Pilate not only out-herods Herod, he also out-Jesuses Jesus in fancy oblique comeback.)

December 15: smiley pirates and tea shop Britain

Errors of understanding can be fruitful.

I remember watching the News on the telly and hearing abou the problem of “smiley pirates”, and I though that yes, of course, the suite of “Pirates of the Caribbean” films have made pirates cute and romantic and the truth is that they were law-breaking and violent. Though I was confused why such a liberal arts discussion should be getting top billing on the Ten o’clock News.It was only when I saw it written down in a newspaper that I understood they were “Somali pirates”.

I remember my mum taking me aside one day and saying “it’s not mizzled, it’s mis-led.”. Although she, of course, knew the word misled, she’s been reading it for years as mizzled, and it had only just struck her.

My other felicitous misunderstanding came a few years ago, again via the News, where an Irish Republican was referring, wittily I thought, to “tea shop Britain”. I thought that yes, of course, that sums up the home counties Cotswold Britain that it so despised by the Celtic and northern fringes. Again, only when I saw it written down at some later date was I introduced to the new word taiosha.