An ordinary bloke writes about ‘Lessons you learn’
I was standing in the queue at Iceland, the frozen food store, yesterday. I was clutching a modestly-sized bag (700g) of McCain’s skin-on fries. We were having a dirty burger night and it was the last item on the shopping list. I’d already bought the Linda McCartney chunky vegan ‘meaty’ quarter pounders (from the big Tesco), 4 crusty white rolls from Brutons the bakers, a small tray of mushrooms from the Co-op, a bag of ‘washed and ready to use’, salad leaves from the small local Tesco, and a block of Violife vegan mozzarella ‘cheese’ from Beanfreaks, the health food shop.
At home already were the seasonings and additives, like a litre of rapeseed oil (from the Co-op), a large squeezy bottle of Tesco mid-range own-brand tomato ketchup, a bottle of Biona cider vinegar (with the mother – Beanfreaks), a tub of Saxa finely-ground sea-salt (small Tesco) and a jar of gorgeous home-made mayo, whizzed up from a block of silken tofu, a cup and a half of own-brand rapeseed oil, half a teaspoon of said salt, the freshly-squeezed juice of a lemon, and a couple of tablespoons of co-op brand Dijon mustard.
Anyway the point is that there was a woman behind me in the queue. She was quite young, probably late twenties, though it is difficult to be precise because she wasn’t in good shape, I mean, for example, she was quite short, just over five feet I’d say, and she was very obese, huge in fact, by any method of measuring. The trunk of her body was a large ball, like one of those orange bouncy things from the seventies that had evolved to an adult size.
She was wheezing and moaning out loud about how long she’d been waiting in the queue. I thought, at first that she was trying to garner my sympathy so that I would let her go first, but she had a large trolley full of the sort of cheap frozen stuff they sell in Iceland, like hot and spicy chicken in breadcrumbs or bags of 22 skinless pork sausages, and I had just one moderately-sized packet of skin-on fries and I had the correct money ready (£1.50), so I decided not to be chivalrous and duly ignored her.
She turned her attention to the person behind her in the queue and said: “They are a real bargain and only 50p each. I turned involuntarily to look at the conveyor belt to see what it was that was such a bargain. There were six 250 gram packets of full-fat butter making their way along the belt, at the beginning of their journey to her already engorged tummy.
I shook my head inwardly, judging her to be a sloppy, lazy, dullard, who if only she stopped eating dirty rubbish like butter, would lose weight, become much fitter and happier, and would not be metaphorically bouncing with joy just because she’d managed to contribute to her undoubtedly early death for such a bargain price.
It took a while, in fact it was tonight, more than 24 hours later, for me to realise how utterly crass and judgemental I’d been, if only in my own head, especially since I am going on for 4 stone overweight myself, and at least half the food I eat is not at all essential to my survival or good health.
So now I’m thinking :-
Nothing is worthless
Everything has a value
No one deserves disrespect
Everyone deserves respect
Everyone is unique and beautiful
Everyone hurts – it’s far better to behave in a way that ameliorates that hurt than in a way that exacerbates it
So, today’s lesson is that what you learn from teachers who don’t even know they’re teaching can sometimes be the best lessons of all.
When the fallen leaves remind you that Summer’s gone
And the days are getting short and the nights are getting long
That’s the time to think about where you’re going to
That’s the time to think about what you want to do
The winter is coming, and with it a pause
There’ll be time to consider, to smooth out your flaws
You’ll be ready in no time, to get on with your life
For now, take it easy, enjoy the long nights
NOTES: This is off-the-cuff on a slightly drunken Saturday night, so will more than likely be deleted in the morning
I can’t do anything better than anecdotal and observational so I might be wrong and I can’t be bothered to do any real research because if I’m right it would be a waste of time since no one would read this anyway.
I mean even if I don’t bother to do any research and this does get read I’m still quids in aren’t I?
I am aware that the chance that anyone who is actually another person and not some automatic bot-type thing that visits random websites in the hope of finding something of value – like a list of email addresses that they can sell to their fellow bots who send emails offering riches galore, is minscule.
So, the point is: no matter how obvious I make it, no matter how honest I am, it won’t matter because no one is going to read it anyway,
Why do I bother to continue writing then?
Because part of me wants to read what another part of me wants to write. Maybe it’s just one part behaving in two different ways? I don’t know, but here it is, my voice in the void.
Is anybody out there?
(Doesn’t really matter so don’t bother responding, even if you are one of the anybodies out there)
(p.s. This is not as self-indulgent as it seems)
Blog: From Web Log, From ‘Logging your thoughts and activities on the World Wide Web’
Once upon a time there was a thing called blogging. It still exists in name of course, for example this website is built on WordPress which is known as a blogging platform.
I first started blogging around the turn of the millennium when it wasn’t much more than a few nerdy types writing the odd banal paragraph about their lives and opinions. I didn’t do much at that time but I set up a website to use as an online journal. The website was built and edited using raw HTML.
Around eleven years ago I started a new blog using the Blogger platform. Then moved it to my own site using WordPress. The blog was anonymous at first under the pseudonym Skintwriter. It wasn’t long before I was just one in a worldwide community of bloggers. We each kept a blogroll, i.e. a list of links to other bloggers, who we hoped would reciprocate with a link back to us.
Anyway, because I used my own domain name there were no adverts on my site, nor on most of the others. We paid our dues to the purveyors of internet access and started building a community. No one else had control of the content of my site, no one could tell me what to post, no one made any money when others read what I wrote. Continue reading
Some Work in Progress – Early stages (Scroll Down for finished art-icles)
Acrylic on canvas – each 60cm x 50cm
see previous posts for explanation
‘Add New Post’
This blog / website / whatever it is called now, wants me to add a new post every time I come here. If I do make the effort to add a new post it normally means I’ve got something specific to write about. Whether it’s one of my feeble attempts to market my books and/or art or whether it’s one of those rare occasions when I get wound up enough about some topic, usually political, or vegan-related, to feel a need to make some comment about it.
There is a third reason I add new posts, and that is the most important reason – it’s when I share some of my creative work, like a short story, or a poem, or some rant about parallel universes and/or the nature of reality.
But sometimes there are gaps when I have nothing specific to say, and I don’t feel particularly inclined to share some creative work, yet I still feel the urge to add a new post.
This post is a result of one of those gaps, there is no reason for this post other than to fill it (the gap).
Yet . . .
I do have something to say, I’m sure I do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Something I wrote on my birthday
Happy Birthday To Me
It’s a scratch on the wall
a step on the path
It’s my birthday again
another year’s passed
If years were seconds
there wouldn’t be many
not much more than a minute
Some unedited ‘live’ writing
Written on 15:01 Sunday November 1st 2015
I was reading about yet another writer half my age who has won some prestigious award and is appearing at several upcoming literary festivals and events as a featured, if not the star, guest.
So I started thinking why. Why has that writer achieved more than I have despite the fact that I was writing before they were born – before their dad’s sperm had reached their mum’s egg even. Before their father and mother even knew each other existed – probably.
Then I realised that the only thing between me and success as a writer is myself – or rather, some of my inner, more abstract thoughts and ideas. Thing is when I say, as I do often, that those who have achieved success, especially material success, though I suppose all kinds of success are eligible, owe it to chance, not to some god-given talent, or to some angelic-genius quality they possess, yes, the thing is, I am also referring to myself as successful – so I am already successful and I deserve it no more than anyone else does. Therefore I think I do not deserve success so when I see it standing passively alongside my path I tend to ignore it when what I should be doing is grabbing it.
Even while I’m writing this I’m thinking ‘what an arrogant prick you are Jones, what makes you think you can write in this self-indulgent way’, you don’t deserve it, and no one wants to know anyway’ that sort of thing. And I realise that (besides all the bits in between) these are the two dominant manifestations of my character. Manifestation 1 is the arrogant prick, who thinks that every word he writes is a raindrop of pure gold and Manifestation 2 is the pathetic whimpering grotbag who thinks that every word he writes is a dollop of pure diarrhoea.
So, what happens then is that every time I get near to what looks like some sort of success, I close my eyes and wait for it to go away. Now, I’m probably deluded but I tend to attach a spiritual tag onto this perverse behaviour, combining the Eastern religious concept of Karma with the more recent Western scientific ideas about parallel universes. What I mean is that I think that there is another version of me enjoying success as a writer, and of course, there is another version of that young prize-winning writer who is broke and despondent, smothered by the feeling that they are unloved and unappreciated.
So since it all evens out, if not over a lifetime then over several lifetimes, or several versions of the same person’s lifetime, then I just have to accept that in this universe / lifetime, I am very lucky, despite the lack of writerly success – while also realising that I actually am a success.
Maybe I’ll focus more on getting a new business venture off the ground than on this splurge of words.
This is an extract from one of my books.
And now it’s the morning of March 15th 2016. One of the things that’s prompted this bit of live writing is my desire to reach 100,000 words. As I type I can see the word-count at the bottom of the screen and it says, hang on, I’ve got to catch it unaware because of course it will increase as soon as I type in the number: The number of words that are in this book so far is 98,951 (including the number 98,951), but of course it’s more already – it’s relentless, nothing really stops, everything changes.
It’s a bit like that with life – as soon as you think you’ve got a handle on it, the second you think you’ve got it sussed – it changes, it becomes something else, that’s one of the consequences of getting older, you lose the certainty of youth, and when I say youth I don’t mean childhood, I mean adulthood, from your early twenties or whenever it is you feel as if you’ve grown up at last, all the way through to old age in your sixties or whenever it is you feel as if you’re old.
Next Thursday December 15th
T O N I T E
more details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/
On December 15th 2016 from 5:45pm until 7:00pm I will be at Cardiff Central Library reading from and discussing two of my novels – Boys from the Backfields and Cheats and Liars. I might also discuss some of my other books and possibly talk a little bit about the publishing process.
The two novels
Boys from the Backfields is a murder mystery set over half a century. The story begins in the 1960’s when Mick a young teenage boy and his little gang witness the murder of Betty Fish while out blackberry picking around the Backfields council estate in South Wales. Mick is haunted by this tragic event for the next 50 years until finally the truth is revealed and the mystery is solved.
Cheats and Liars is set in an affluent inner suburb of Cardiff and follows Brian Llewelyn, ‘The Greatest Living Artist in Wales’ as he comes to realise that his success depends on the sycophants, cheats and liars that share in it. The novel follows Brian as the foundations his life is based on crumble from under him and he has to redefine what is important.
There will also be plenty of time for any questions from the audience.
This is part of the Library’s Open Space Events series and it’s free but space is limited so it might be best to book through Eventbrite where if you search ‘Open Space Cardiff’ you should be able to find them, though, as I write this it may be too early for the December event’s listing.
Here’s a painting from nearly 15 years ago – one of the first I did. It was painted on the back of a placard/protest sign that I had previously used in a satirical community play I wrote called ‘The History of Llangennech – Part 2’
Blodyn has become a bit of an icon for me since I painted her. She was used on the cover of my poetry collection “The Words in Me” and will be used again on the cover of my new collection “More Words in Me” due to be published in a couple of months.
Here she is:
And here’s the back of Blodyn
To Me is the title of my next book. It’s been written specifically for myself and it is dedicated To Me, but I don’t mind if others read it.
I think everyone should have their own ‘To Me’ book. Luckily I have the experience and skills to publish my own.
Using Print on Demand it doesn’t really cost anything but time plus the cost of any printed copies, and you can buy just one copy if you like.
I’m working on the final edit, it looks like it will end up being about 103,000 words and 310 pages long in an 8.5″ x 5.5″ format.
Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:
The Artistic Imperative
* Warning – this is a self-indulgent ramble *
When I was young I was told I was very clever. ‘You are so intelligent,’ they used to say. I was also a very nice kid – generous, gentle, helpful and uncomplaining. I was full of life – ‘Fond of play’ as my form teacher wrote on my final report from the primary school. I was top of the class, number one of thirty-four, and that was in the A stream in the final year at that school – so at that time I was the top pupil of the whole school.
To be fair my teacher recognised this and wanted me to apply for a scholarship to go to Llandovery College – a private school around thirty miles from my home – it would have meant boarding I believe.
But, my parents didn’t have the wherewithal, either in monetary terms or in imagination to pursue the idea and the teacher realising it was an impossibility, let it go. As it happens, I’m glad about this, I don’t think I’d like the person I would have become if I’d spent those important years of my childhood in such a place.
Now, I’m approaching my 65th birthday – my mother is disappointed in me. I can see it in her eyes – and anyway, she says it often enough. ‘You used to be so clever,’ she’ll say. ‘You could have done so much.’ Continue reading
A personal message to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme