Diary

30 December, 2012 3 comments

I started reading my grandmother’s diary, written in Kenya in 1958. It’s providing a fascinating insight into the life my father lived working on a farm, and has certainly shed light on aspects of his behaviour and our relationship. I’m enjoying it very much.

It’s written in quite a terse style, but still manages to convey a rich narrative of the difficulties of life running a farm in Kenya. {A brief digression: WordPress is recommending I tag this post with both “Barack Obama” and “Vampire Diaries.” I think they need their suggestion algorithm checked} Presumably my writing verbosity is inherited from my mother’s genetic stock.

Feeling inspired, I’ve decided to do some diary writing of my own — on the Internets!

Dismayed with the instantaneous gratification of all things digital these days, intrigued by looking back into the past of my grandmother’s diary-world, and just to be generally difficult, I’m introducing a twist. Time-delayed publication! It will be just like I’m not doing anything at all for 5 years.

Categories: my projects

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Categories: life

Enough with the Analogies

7 May, 2012 1 comment
Where the country road led

Perranporth Beach

I’ve found that there isn’t really time (or more accurately — energy) to write these Internet logs when one is fully employed.  Thus the the numerous internet fields I sowed sowed in the past have been left untended and barren.  I bit like the communist remnants of Statue Park in Budapest.

If you’ve been following Waffle Group closely, I left you on a bit of a cliff-hanger with the last post. What a long time to dangle out there? Your arm must be aching terribly! So sorry.

I did, in the end, make it to the top.  There is a lovely view from up here.  Beautiful country roads that tunnel through overhanging tree branches, leading past rolling farmlands to the coast. It’s windy down there on the beaches, but I’m told the air calms down in the summer months making the beach perfect for an influx of tourists.

Seaside walks along craggy cliffs are an option. ‘Rambling’ is what they call it around here.  Bean Dog has certainly been impressed with the potential of the place.  We took her to Perranporth beach and she couldn’t decide whether to dig a hole, manically run in a circle, or chase a tennis ball — so she opted to cycle between the three, switching from one activity to the next every 30 seconds.

A fair summary is that I think Cornwall is a kickass place to live.  It has less temperamental weather than Scotland has, and it generally warmer.  There are similarities too.  The Scots rather enjoy waving about their blue and white flag, and beating the drum of Scottish pride and nationalism. The Cornish have a black and white flag to wave about and appear to be similarly keen on their unique identity.

The best thing about Cornwall is that I have a professional job here.  The rest of the UK misses that key ingredient to self-sufficiency, and so Cornwall could be an environmental wasteland devastated by years of unrehabilitated mining activities and tailings dams, and I’d still think it was the most magical place on Earth.

My new employer has offices in the with a breath-taking view of a mine tailings facility used to store precipitated acid rock drainage from historic underground mine workings.  A fitting location for a mining engineering and environmental consultancy.  I don’t intend to say too much about work here, except that I am extremely happy and really enjoying the company, the people I work with, and the job itself.  If you do want to know more about my work-related things (environmental management, environmental science, mining practice and stuff along those lines), such writing may appear at Pragmatic Hippie.  There is not much there now, so no surging ahead in your effort for dull soothing reading.  (As an aside — if you cannot contain your need for tedium, the Dull Men’s Club might be just what you need).

Cornwall would be less lovely if I only had a job here, but my family were elsewhere.  This was kind of the case when I first arrived here.  I rushed off to Cornwall to get stuck into the job, while Angie packed up our old place in Scotland, arranged for the move, looked after Jethro, looked after Bean, performed circus tricks and generally displayed superhuman characteristics.

I eventually managed to find a place for us to live. Angie travelled down by train with Jethro and Bean. A ten hour journey. Miraculous no-one was thrown from the train in frustration during the trip.  No sure how Angie managed it. Then our stuff arrived at the house.  It would never have made it on to the truck had our magnificent friends Jude and Andy not been there to coordinate things in Scotland.  You guys rock!

The dust of the move has mostly settled, but we are still left with no cupboards in the house (or at least very few), although we did buy a lawnmower. It’s about keeping up appearances. As long as we keep people out of the house, they can’t really see how the clothes are all piled in stacks.  Long grass at the front of the house is less easy to hide without blinding all of the neighbours. And although a recently blinded neighbour is unlikely to complain about an unkempt garden, they will probably call the police which will just attract more attention and more people requiring blinding. In the end it just seemed like less work to cut the damn grass.

We have the essentials, but we still lack friends, and this is something that is hitting Angie particularly hard.  I have people to interact with at work, but she would really like a little more conversation with other adults.  We’re working on it and know we’ll get there eventually — it just takes time.

Jethro starts school this year in September.  Due to the awkward timing, it’s a little pointless signing him up at a nursery, so Angie has been trying to find interesting extra-mural activities to keep him busy and herself sane.  Swimming and French lessons have commenced.  I can say that I’ve learned more French from Jethro’s age 3-4 French than I ever did during my disastrous attempt to study French at university.

And here ends the lengthy general update thing. The next one might be a long time coming, so if you want Internet update-type things from me it might be best to find me on Google+. The Book with the Faces is not to my liking.  I don’t really get the Short Shrill Bird Noise, although I do occasionally make sub-140 character droppings.  Frankly, there are so many of these damned social network things that it makes my brain rattle inside my skull, and my eyeballs pulsate.  I decided I have to choose one of these things, and I’m choosing the one that almost no-one I know uses.  How very anti-social-network of me. I’m certain some of my readers understand.

An Analogy: Part 2

14 February, 2012 3 comments

Link to Part 1 of this analogy.

11 - October - 2008 -- Crib Goch

There is less rope in this supporting image than I hoped for.

The grappling hook finds firm purchase around a sturdy tree-trunk. I tug at the rope a couple of times to make certain it won’t come loose. Then I start to climb.

At first my footing is secure and I make steady progress up the embankment. About halfway up my footholds start to crumble. A stream of soil dribbles downward. I scurry but the dribble grows into a rushing torrent of matter. The ground disappears beneath my feet but I don’t let go of that rope. My fingers ache. My feet find no purchase. There is strain in my arms, my shoulders, my back. My body rages against my will.

For a time I think of just letting go. The fight is too hard. The potential reward too remote.

“Climb!” she shouts at me, “We need you up here!”

And so I climb.

I’m almost at the top. An arm reaches down over the edge towards me. I grasp the extended hand. Soon I’ll be able to see what it looks like from up there.

Christmas with the Fletchcocks

30 December, 2011 2 comments

Last year we spent Christmas with the Fletchcocks, with them travelling up to Edinburgh. This year we made the trek south to London.

A lot of the fun this year was that Jethro was fully into Santa Claus. Last year his understanding of the event was a little sketchy. He knew something unusual was happening, but didn’t really comprehend why it might be exciting.

This year, Xmas trickery installation is complete.

The random photos of tofu have gone missing. I don’t think much of value has been lost though.

I also recorded some audio of the excitement. From a quick review of the 17 minute clip, it seems to be mostly the adults rambling on like idiots with the occasional exclamation of excitement from small child Jethro. Editing is required.

Hope your Christmas was a cheerful one too.

An Analogy

15 December, 2011 3 comments

Floating rag pickerImagine a deep gulley with muddy slippery sides. Along the bottom of the gulley runs a stream of water.

The water was once clear, but since it ran its course into the gulley it has turned murky. The polluted water churns up rancorous odours.

A raft of strapped-together flotsam and driftwood wobbles on the surface, rushing along the gulley. I stand upon the raft, balancing precariously and feeling slightly nauseous — a result of the combined influence of the fumes from the water and the rocking motion of the stream. I take a wide steady stance, and ready the rope and grappling hook I hold in my hands.

I look up to the top of the walls of the gulley. I see branches of trees up there, rushing past. Perhaps the stream will eventually lead to a tranquil pond, but right now the only way out seems to be to cast my rope at the branches of the trees. I’m not very good at casting rope at tree branches.

The grappling hook actually caught firmly a couple of times, but every time I lost my grip on the rope and fell in the muck.

I managed to scramble back on to the raft those times, but the ordeal left me exhausted and I just lay still for a while and let the water take me where it wanted to. The gulley seems to go on forever, as does my supply of rope and grappling hooks.

Another branch approaches. I cast the rope. The hook scratches at the muddy soil at the top. Puffs of dust rise up from the impact. Grains of clotted sand run down the embankment and splash into the grey-brown water. The hook slips past the branch and plunges downward. I draw the wet and smelly rope back on to the raft.

The above is essentially the news of my life at the moment. At any particular point in time I am either on the raft, in the crappy water, throwing hooks at tree branches, or stuffing about with a rope. It isn’t worthwhile to write about it much because, frankly, the story is quite dull. The raft never changes. The water never changes. The steep incline out of the gulley never changes. The branches I attempt to catch a hold of all look roughly similar, although the trees to which the branches are attached are probably all quite different.

Once I finally get a firm hold of a branch and drag myself out of the gulley, I’ll let you all know what the new view is like.

Jobcentre leads me to Milk

26 August, 2011 Leave a comment
what have you been doing to look for work Mr Monkey?

Water is no longer allowed

I was disconsolately meandering back from the Jobcentre Plus where I had discovered that I was not eligible for jobseeker’s allowance. Apparently I should never have gone there in the first place, but the consultant who set up the appointment on the phone didn’t ask me the right screening questions.

About to leave the Jobcentre, I was thirsty. I asked if I could get some water. The security guard told me the government cut the budget for the water-coolers and the plastic cups, so no I couldn’t. Is there no water piped into the building? Do the staff just not drink anything all day?

Regardless, the government still had budget for several security guards from G4S.

Milk Bottle

If the place looked like this, I would not have gone in

Still thirsty, I looked for a place to get something to drink. Milk is a drink, so an establishment with that name caught my eye. I didn’t actually order any milk to drink though.

It looked a bit of a hipster place, and the Milk website confirms my suspicions (look at all those retro film filters on the photographs). Who cares? The food was outstanding. I ordered the Cashew and Mango salad. It is not something I would have enjoyed as a child. The flavours were too nuanced and complex. In short, it kicked ass.

I also really enjoyed the mismatched antique cutlery that sits on the tables, and the old weathered wooden benches.

If you happen to be in Edinburgh (I hear there is a festival on the go there at the moment, so you just might be), you should absolutely go to this place.

I’m probably not enough of a hipster to hangout there too much, but damn the food was good. The coffee too.

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