July 29: steerpike

When you are sitting up to your neck in the cool water in a pool in the Gorges du Tarn in the Cevennes and your rest is disturbed by a teenager leaping from a height into the pool with a whoop, you curse the state of malehood. Why does the male always want to change the repose of things? I had spotted this mid-teenager a few minutes before. He had found or fashioned a long stick and was trying to skewer a fish with it. What if he had spiked a foot-long trout and came up with it all bloodied and wriggling? His father caught up with him, looked irritably and uttered that time-worn word Arrete. Men will always want to splash, noisify, alter. Women are happier with just being. Men will shift things along without worrying whether they are shifting to a better thing or not. They just want flux. But often you just kill the moment and the new state, unexamined beforehand, is not better, and there can be no going back. It’s everything that’s wrong with the world. We’re right to blame the men. I suppose there are some benefits from restlessness, but enough already. I called the boy Steerpike.


July 29: access to people’s intimacies

When you are travelling around, on a bit of a budget, you find you have access to other people’s intimacies in a way you don’t when you are locked into your own routines. On a train as you sit behind someone you see what they are up to on their smartphone. One very correct-looking middle-aged Frenchwoman was conducting a very controlled conversation with her equally distinguished and impenetrable-looking husband, and then you see her looking at herself in the mirror of the smartphone interminably inspecting her eye wrinklage. Then suddenly she took out of her fashionably labelled handbag a ragged paper agenda branded Hello Kitty. In the youth hostel in Grindelwald when you share a dorm with four others you see the lot: there are of course snorers; there are thoughtless people who come in at three in the mrning and wear lights on their foreheads which they inadvertently shine in your eyes; the deranged fixated hikers intent on a glacier pursuing some absolute agenda (many of these characters in the mountains in Switzerland, like characters from a DH Lawrence novel). When you travel you are exposed to others. Instructive, but let me back into my closet now please.


July 27: offer an empty vessel

When you find yourself meeting a lot of people in quick succesion, like when you are on holiday when you might have brief and superficial contact with a range of people, you inevitably find yourself makng ad hoc decisions about whether you like the people or not. I find myself liking the people who are not doing any selling of themselves. When you are younger you are more inclined to sell yourself, you are more competitive, feel the need to impress. Hopefully you grow out of this. It is nice to speak to someone who remains inscrutable and, in general, these are the people I like. And yet, just being inscrutable is not enough. It is nice for people to be quirky, surprising, for them to take risks and try and make a contact. My advice, though, (if you are desperate to impress me) is to avoid talking about jobs. Recommended is to be able to be entertaining and warm but give nothing away. In other words, offer a vessel, but make sure it is an empty one.


July 27: a local emergency

No posts for recent weeks as I was away with no computer, no smartphone no internet access for five weeks. Can you imagine? In all the places we went, France, Germany, Switzerland, people and commerces generally preferred payment in cash, much different to what I had been led to believe was the norm from living in London. Nowhere insisted on payment by card. Cash was always the most welcome. Most people were not forever on their screens or computers in cafes. I have seen that this media dependancy is most rife in London. I came back yesterday and looking through the tube everyone has earplugs in and screens out. This is a local emergency.