The driver was called Gary and ... we're having new kitchen and bathroom put in so he asked about that, and talked about the work he's having to do on his flat. But then he said 'still doesn't feel like home though' and it turns out that he's recently divorced after 20 years and in a flat because he's moved out of his home.
What followed was the most emotionally honest conversation I've had with any man when neither of us were on MDMA. Now, I'm much better about being open about my emotions than I used to be, but I'm still not great about opening up, but he was willing to be so honest, I could only reciprocate.
"He talked about conscience, and he talked about pain, and I looked out of the window and it started to rain"
I don't want to go into everything he said, but so much of what he said resonated - he had emotional intelligence but oh so much fear - but he knew that his reactions were fear ones even if he couldn't get over that fear. And he was so scared of being lonely post his divorce that he couldn't separate whether his feelings for his new partner were honest, or just him not wanting to be alone.
I'm really lucky -due to past experiences I know that I have a whole heap of people that I could ring and say 'I need emotional support here' and I'd get it. (The fact that I don't when I should is on me ...). But when he'd reached out to his brother and tried to say exactly that, his brother had frozen, and then laughed it off and called him an idiot - I don't think unkindly, but just as an embarrassed reaction.
Was it easier us being strangers? Easier because I have had those conversations before? (usually spangled in a club or afterparty, but still, I've had them. And they're a lot easier the second and third and forth times.
We didn't exchange numbers. We shook hands and I wished him good luck.
But I'm writing this to help me remember, and to push some energy out towards him when I remember to.
Good luck, Gary.
So tonight - and it isn't the first night, Will falls asleep downstairs. Sometimes it's in his bouncy chair. Sometimes it's in his bascinet. Sometimes on his playmat. The important thing to remember is he's in the wrong place and the sleep consultants tell you that baby must go to sleep in the right place. So you're screwed.
So - tonight. Will has struggled with the hot weather. He has literally never encountered weather this warm in his 3 month life before. This is all new to him and he only has one way to indicate his discomfort. So he cries then screams then sleeps, and at this point there is much (very quiet) rejoicing.
But he is asleep.
So tonight, I have to transfer Will from the place he has chosen to sleep to the place we want him to sleep. Up 2.5 flights of stairs and 7 corners.
There is a certain amount of trepidation when you go to lift a 3 month old sleeping baby. Get it wrong and he may never sleep again ever. Get it really wrong and he will turn into a hungry ghost that will keep your family awake for the next 5 generations. So with my heart in my mouth I bend down to lift and carry.
And here is where the miracle happens. Here is where it becomes all worthwhile.
Because I pick up Will and pull him to my shoulder so he won't feel unsupported. And he swings his arms wide and as he makes contact with my chest his arms wrap around my neck.
And at this point, my heart explodes.
I know, rationally, it's just a reflex. It's a perceived fall with the arms out to grab hold.
In my head, it's rational and explained.
But in my heart ...
Oh Captain, my Captain.
My son grabs hold of my neck, trusting that I won't let him fall.
And I swear my life and my honour that, while it is in my power, he will not fall.
The tennis club was much bigger, and had better facilities. There was a cupboard by the practice space so the mats were easy to pack and unpack, and it had proper changing rooms, and it had showers.
So it very quickly became my ritual, especially the nights I was teaching, to take a shower. Not after the session (well, I did, but that's not the point of this story) but before.
Because taking a shower before meant certain things. It meant getting there early, to make sure I had time. It meant having a clean gi to practice in, because who wants to shower and then get into dirty clothes? It meant spending time in the changing room thinking about getting ready, about being in the right frame of mind to step onto the mat and to teach. That shower - with echoes of the ritual cleansing that many religions have before prayer - that shower was my transition ritual. Here, I stop being part of the world outside. I wash it's dirt from my skin. I prepare myself for what is to come.
And cleansed and refreshed, I would step onto the mat and bow.
So it's not really surprising that when I started training people in classrooms, I developed my own transition rituals. Mostly it was about laying out the space; putting learning materials by each computer (and to do that, you have to be there a little early ...), but the physical ritual for myself was emptying my pockets. Keys, coins, wallet. They all went into my bag, or the box that I'd just emptied my learning materials out of. Again, the practical part was to not have anything in my pockets to distract me, but the ... spiritual ... for want of a better word ... the spiritual part was to say 'here is the world, that you are putting away. Here, now, in this room; this is where your focus should be."
Why the memory?
The Church (both Catholic and CofE) recognise transitions; times when your life is literally changed from one moment to the next. There's a ritual for each.
The Catholic Church recognises seven sacraments - seven rituals that mark significant changes. I've been through four - Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession and Confirmation. I'm unlikely ever to go through Holy Orders. At some point, unless my agnosticism sticks, I may have the Sacrament of the Sick.
But tomorrow - some twelve hours from now, I get married. The church I'm getting married in has its own rituals - a familiar structure of prayers, promises, vows and hymns that have hooks deep inside me.
But I have my own rituals too. A dram of Irish whiskey - a present from @westernind and @forbinproject for being their best man 12 years ago. An ironed shirt. A dry-cleaned suit. Polished shoes.
And words to remember this moment by.
Catch you on the flip side.
It's rubbish, really. They make a best guess as to the date of conception then assume 40 weeks from there. We're dead certain that the date is wrong. And anyhow, I'm told that only 5% of babies are born on thier due date.
Now, we are in waiting mode. Now, the delivery is ticking over into overdue. A's maternity leave has started and that 12 month clock is ticking even if Baby Scott-Roe (as close as we are to a name) is late to the ball.
Everything is ready. Well. Everything which can be. Rooms are decorated, plans are made, bags are packed. Routes and backup routes have been drawn on maps and committed to memory (and google maps). Like any event, you plan for all the things that you can so that you have brain space and energy for all the things you can't plan for.
I'd like to claim I'm scared, or apprehensive, or something. Something I can answer honestly to all the people who ask "How are you feeling?". Or so I can agree with the people who say "you must be frightened" with such confidence.
But I'm not. This is an event, like all the events I've run over the past 30 years. What can be anticipated has been. What can't will be dealt with when it arrives.
If the adrenaline kicks in now I'll burn out before I'm useful. So I'm kicking my heels in a Soho bar, an open fire, a Guinness and a comfortable chair while A is at a hen do she'd said she couldn't attend but is now able to. We will head home soon.
I'm not ready.
But I'm ready to be ready.
I have come down with a cold; my first in a good year. I made it through the day of an offsite meeting on pseudopsuedopsuedoephadrine and chocolate eclairs (the cream filled rather than the Cadburys). Interesting conversations, though I think I may have banged on a little too much about building a brand internally and marketing for Security. That may have been the drugs talking.
I've been listening a lot to David Bowie recently, unsurprisingly. After I heard the news of his death I was surprised to find I didn't own any of his songs (bar Heroes on the London Olympics soundtrack album) but a quick trip to iTunes and 3 best of albums ranging from 1969 to 1987 appeared quickly. As always with a best of, there's the tracks you know, the tracks you like and the tracks that really stretch the definition of 'best of' to breaking point. Sometimes, the same track fits all three categories.
The week passed and I just spent 3 hours looking at 'travel systems' in Mothercare. A travel system, for those not in the know, is a transformer pram, that can be a carry cot, a buggy, a pram, a dalek, a climbing frame, a dessert and a floor topping!
I didn't find it too bad (though they cannily have a Costa in store, with lots of seating for when you need that mid-shop caffeine and sugar fix). We didn't buy anything - too many choices to process - but we have a list of our favourites. This afternoon will be at home, on my computer, shopping as an introverted God intended, over the internet.
Speaking of too many choices - Why Finnish babies sleep in boxes is a good read and a great idea. The number of choices I'm seeing as a new dad are frankly overwhelming and making me tharn. Being sent a box with the inherent reassurance that someone else has gone through and thought of everything you might need to get started is a great idea.
And if you're not going to get sent one by the Finnish Government, you can just order one over the internet. The €400 is pretty good - the contents bought separately from Amazon come close to €300 - I'm not so sure about the Moomin themed box though - €200 extra for some Moomin themed diapers and some other bits ...
I'm not so worried about matching their name to their personality. At the point we're legally obliged to put something to paper, I'm fully expecting young babba's personality to manifest as either cute, vomiting, burping or pooing. Or all 4. Babba will grow into a name (or names - I'm a big fan of middle names for that reason.)
But names are important. So we're pouring through baby names books, one alphabetical chapter at a time. And each name has to be tried against our surnames to make sure it sounds okay when said aloud. It has to have the 'what do the initials make?' test, and pass the 'what's the worst nickname we can think of?' barrier - which, it has to be said, has lead to some hilarious and somewhat disgusting conversations in the car on the way to visit family. I'm so proud ...
One of the problems I've got at the moment is LRP - specifically, how does one tell a non-geek partner that calling the child 'Elspeth' would just be too weird? William, Benedict, Arthur - all have associations. (I've not suggested Jarane - it wouldn't be appreciated). Can't go for Alexander / Alexandra (my all time favourites), because, well, we're not having a Junior in the family. (Is it still Junior if the daughter is named after the mum?) Alix's male family name is 'John' and we've been roundly forbidden from that (her dad, her uncle, her cousin, her grandad, me. That's a whole lot of Johns for someone who only has 4 living male relatives ...).
So - at the point that a lot of the pregnant couples we know are saying 'We've narrowed it down to our top 5 for each sex' we're able to say 'We have a huge list of names we don't want the child to have, and a whole list of disagreements - she likes Reginald, I'd rather not have a Reggie. I like Mary (for family reasons) - Alix can only think of 'Of Scots' and given her love for Queen Elizabeth (both varieties) I'm not going to win that battle.
So what did you do?
- There are no ugly people in California; they all got moved to New Jersey.
- Cool _is_ more important than clever, thank you for asking.
- If there's a choice between saving the world and going to the mall, you are allowed to phone a friend.
- Beach Bum is a legitimate career choice.
- "Like" is not a word, it's a punctuation mark.
- Smoking, drinking and drug taking are almost certainly grody to the max.
- No taking the piss ...
7a (Unless it's funny)
- Intellectual isn't a dirty word, but nerd is.
I really should run some more games ...
So I was on my way home from London Bridge, after an excellent night in the pub with friends tonight, and I got on the Ilford train at Stratford. And just as I sat down, two people bumped into each other, and he decided that she had been less than careful and she decided that he had over-reacted and suddenly two people were having a loud and energetic argument in the carriage and the rest of us just wanted to be somewhere else and that somewhere else was cool and at home. Short of an ice gun and a teleporter, that wasn't going to happen.
They sat. Not opposite each other. She facing away from him; he defiantly placed facing the back of her head because he was correct and she was wrong. The set of his neck and shoulders exuded righteousness. She sat as if he didn't exist; defensive, perhaps, but no outward signs of nervousness.
I can't answer for either of them and what they were feeling but my reading of the situation was that violence was not going to happen. This wasn't a fight that was going to kick off. This was two people rubbing against each other like burrs under a blanket, and neither able or willing to turn around and say 'Sorry. It's a hot night. I've got a short temper tonight but I shouldn't have taken it out on a stranger'.
So - so far; about what you'd expect from public transport on a hot Friday evening.
But what drew my attention out of my headphones and book was the effect on the rest of the carriage.
If you'd asked me in advance, I'd have assumed that people would have got defensive themselves, in case a fight was going to kick off. Or they'd have got judgemental of one or both of the two, taking sides almost.
Instead I saw smiles. And not the 'Would you look at those pair?!' smiles. I saw people moving over, and making room. I saw newspapers being passed, and when I got off the train there was a concerted effort to make sure that the people with heavy luggage or prams were being helped up the stairs.
It's almost like there was a concerted unconscious effort to overcome the bad vibes that she and he were giving each other by trying to make the world a (very) slightly better place.
Someone tried to play the peacemaker between the two people that were arguing, and it went down like the proverbial lead balloon.
But the rest of the carriage, consciously or not, tried to make sure that even if those two people were upset, that didn't have to apply to anyone else.
I think all readers have their comfort blankets; books that have to be nearby, even if they're not frequently read. Some of mine will come as no surprise to most of you - Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, LeGuin's Earthsea, Pratchett's Diskworld. Books from my childhood and teens; comfortable like an old jumper with holes in the elbows and history woven through.
Others are newer; I've been reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos stories since my first visit to London as an adult. I was giving a paper at a conference, and the Library Association had an arrangement with, of all places, the Union Jack club in Waterloo. The Union Jack is a private members club for serving and ex members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and I rented a room there for the three days of the conference. As a geeky, skinny, spekkie 22 year old, I really didn't fit in with either the squaddies or the officers who were in the bar and in the TV room. So I wandered around Waterloo until I found a remaindered book shop (which is still there) and bought and devoured the first three novels. They're not my favourites though. The real comfort blanket for me is Issola, which is a tale of love, friendship and manners. Without spoilers, the ending is probably the saddest of all of Brust's novels, and yet that feeling of loving melancholy is one I return to again and again.
Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise stories keep pulling me back. They're short - the 1970s and 80's Pan paperbacks I have (with the most ridiculous covers) are 70,000 words or so. Small enough to put in the back pocket of a pair of jeans or inside a coat, short enough to devour in a couple of hours, familiarity allowing me to concertina through the stories - flipping ahead quickly to get to the parts that I savour. O'Donnell's writing is slick, and his characters are way better than Bond for emphasising with, even if his situations are as far fetched.
And then, my most escapist, most comfortable blanket of all - Kipling's Kim. There's a lovely moment in Stalkey and Co, where the headmaster of the school, having just beaten Stalkey, M'Turk and Beetle for breaking rule 7 into little bits (breaking school boundaries, smoking, getting their teachers into trouble), tells them '"And that reminds me. There are a pile of paper-backs on that shelf. You can borrow them if you put them back. I don't think they'll take any harm from being read in the open. They smell of tobacco rather. You will go to prep. this evening as usual. Good-night." My copy of Kim is like that. (Well, without the tobacco smoke.) It's a hardback from 1957 that will fit into any coat I own, and I've read it many times. The paper is thin, but of much higher quality than you see now in books, and durable; I've no doubt it will out last me.
And it begins: "He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher - the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum. Who hold Zam-Zammah, that 'fire breathing dragon' hold the Punjab, for that great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot."
Why the introspection?I was chatting to friends in the pub on Friday night about tech, and Kindles, and possible changes, and we all acknowledged that we're reading more and more ebooks, and buying fewer paper books. (And the same with movies and music.) But if you walk into my flat at present, you'll see books in every room; my personality and choices on display. We're moving away with that; if I read a Kindle in public you have no idea what I'm looking at; no longer will publishers have to create 'adult' covers for Harry Potter so businessmen can read them on the train without embarrassment. The ebook reader brings privacy, but at the cost of shuttering a quick glimpse into the soul.
But first, the dreaded "Give me my PAC number" conversation. Browsing the GiffGaff forums showed me a link to an instant message service where I could get my code; save me the phone call and (I hoped) more difficult for them to try to browbeat me into staying.
Now - bearing in mind that the reason I'm moving is that I'm going to be paying £12 / month for unlimited data, 300 minutes talk time and unlimited texts, and I currently pay approx £20 / month for 1GB data, 100 minutes and 500 texts - there's no deal I can see them offering to tempt me, especially as it's the unlimited data which is really appealing.
This is the conversation I just had.
( Read more... )
Now - doesn't that just read like a bot? It's not quite, unless they've programmed the bot to make spelling mistakes. And the whole 'I've prepared a deal for you' - those are standard SIM only contracts on their website, so I'm not getting any special treatment here.
But I was itching to type 'Are you Eliza?' all through the conversation.
Public Service Announcement: Phone transferring Wednesday - expect interruption of service if you were planning to call me :-)
The Love of a Good Woman
A play in 3 scenes and one act
Written by a gentleman most noble
Directed by Donna Serafiya van Bourselin di Medici
MACHO REMORA “King of Kisses”
as Captain James Tabor, Devil of the Southern Seas
A Cast of Hundreds
Produced in association with the Syracusan Society for the Fine Arts
And sponsored by Fiorissimo and Di Cassia
Makers of the Blockbuster Fragrance:Sea Hud
( Read more... )
Ignoring the dodgy thermodynamics, why was it so dull? Why was Neos job so boring that he tried to find out more about the matrix? Why was he in a dull cubicle 8 hours a day? If they'd programmed the Matrix to be like a computer game (loads of fun, infinite respawns), or like an MDMA and acid tinged paradise (houris and genies to see to your every desire) very few people would even care about the real world!
See. I reckon if the computers ever take over, I should be allowed to rule their computer generated reality.
Posted via m.livejournal.com.
I don't want an iPod. I don't need to carry 10,000 songs around with me. 10 Gigabytes of music is probably far more music than I own, let alone listen to on a regular basis, and that's the entry level for iPods, so I'm safe.
I currently have a 64Gb drive on my phone and there's 50Gb of music on there, which is about 2/3 of my collection.
I'm really not cut out for a job as a futurist.