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.
Outside in October
The stems of the bamboos
in my neighbour’s garden
are tall and waxy cream.
Their leaves like the bad hair
of an animated villain.
They sway like an armoury
of thin spears;
rattle, sometimes, in the wind.
It’s a small innocent valley,
where the crabplant
and the blonde-haired pampas
jostle with potatoes;
buried like eggs of ants
in well-tilled mounds,
like mist, evaporating,
under the sun.
Betrayed, their fragility stalls,
and I expect to see
a black-and-white giant
sleeping on the lawn.
From ‘Blodyn‘, my latest poetry collection
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)
A few short poems
from my last poetry collection
Pecking up the scraps of summer
He comes hopping –
and perching –
in cute poses;
Makes you wish you had a camera, ready.
Pictures of Robins
do well at Christmas.
Where I live
There are families
of Black Birds
They live on our roofs
and ramble on our lawns
They never stop nodding
and they make you feel
These are birds too,
until they bleed for us,
A varied people
or sharp white darts
tipped with black.
They argue a lot,
eat anything you throw at them,
and try to tell us
about the weather.
They are mostly seen
on man-made ponds,
and amuse us,
with their courting.
feel obliged to them
and wish you’d brought
Uber, the new-fangled taxi people, are in the news after being banned from London. Apparently more than half a million people have signed a petition to have the ban lifted. I don’t believe that. Many of these people are supposedly concerned about the loss of driving jobs the ban will cause, but, everyone knows that Uber’s aim is to become world-dominant in driverless cars, don’t they? There won’t be any driving jobs then, except for the odd human playing with a virtual-reality steering wheel, making sure that the robots are behaving. In time even that will be automated.
Uber is an Uber-Capitalist company and will use the profits generated by today’s drivers to create their empire of driverless cars in the future. OK, maybe I’m being too cynical and Uber’s aim is simply to make a better society and relieve us precious humans of the burden of work as they and their cohort of altruistic billionaires conspire to gift us an army of robot-slaves and pay us all a generous citizen’s income irrespective of whether we work or not.
What do you reckon?
A: Uber wants World Domination B: Uber wants World Happiness
Answers by Ubermail to the usual address.
All respondents will be entered into a draw for a free Uberrail season ticket.
* DISCLAIMER: I’m an ordinary bloke, inasmuch as any of us human beings are ordinary, however extraordinary they seem to be.
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
Most/All of these paintings are documented in other posts but here’s a little gallery as a quick reference:
New research has indicated that people should eat 10 portions of fruit and/or vegetables every day if they want to achieve a longer and healthier life.
I wondered what 10 portions would look like so I raided the fridge and fruit bowl and added fruit and veg until it weighed 800 grams, which, according the the NHS, is what 10 portions weigh at 80 grams each.
The day before yesterday was half-eaten fruit day
It’s bananas – it really is
It wasn’t me guv – honest
The world we thought we understood is in meltdown after the victories of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers, and there is a general air of despondency lingering like cheap perfume around most of the people I know. I think this is because they belong to the demographic now being referred to by the victors as ‘Libtards’, i.e. Liberal Retards.
I suspect that many people who don’t normally vote actually made an effort and took part in those elections in order to stick it to what they were told is the privileged elite. If that’s true then I can understand why, since they probably share my under-privileged working-class background and have no connection to the smug comfortably-off professionals who, over the decades, came to dominate government and political organisations like the Labour Party in the UK and no doubt the Democratic Party in the USA. Continue reading
15/3/89 – 16/3/89 Midnight
Late and alone again. The cigarette end crushed in the ashtray, the insect trapped in the lampshade and the television in the background. It’s all really in the background even my hand scribbling on the paper, my own thoughts. Earlier my own weak flesh succumbed to the curse of overeating, my own lungs demanded too much cigarette smoke. Now I am ensconced again in my satiated accursed body.
Safe in the warm bosom of the living room, sitting on the edge of the dilapidated sofa, my obesity squashed against my thighs, feeling the awful fullness again.
The spiritual human trapped in the world. The world continues to turn and my own thoughts continue to whirl. Sleep is the blessing, if I can. Timing is crucial, if I go to bed too early, my acid stomach will wake me at two in the morning; too late, and I will be overtired, hyped up and full of dreams. Distraction is crucial, something for my whirling mind to latch onto. From the background the late night broadcast from the Open University; ‘Three psychologists comment on the play of some 1 to 4 year olds.’ How wonderful to be so wrapped up in a vocation and believe that in some way you are making a contribution to the flash of light that is man’s brief sojourn on this planet.
Something has to be written about these times; sorry that my skills are not as good as they should be. There is nothing I can do about that – my skills are the only skills that are available. I am the only one left and time is running out, so there is no time to get any better at this. Perhaps in a hundred years, someone will find this account interesting enough to rewrite it as a work of fiction – it’s dramatic enough. It would make a good film. I wonder if they’ll still have films in the twenty-second century? It’ll probably all be holograms by then – total immersion in a fake reality. But then what is reality anyway? And if what has happened here happens more widely there won’t be much left to fret about by then.
I’m sitting in an empty oil barrel inside a deserted factory – it used to be a machine shop. I used to work here. Now all the lathes and grinders have been sold for scrap and all that’s left is this oil drum and the run down building that surrounds it.
All around me lying in various awkward positions on the cold greasy floor are the bodies of the others. These were my fellow travellers, my crew, my gang, formed from an alliance of survivors. It has been six months since the coach crashed and it took us six outlaws every one of those 180 days to get here. I can’t look at them any longer, and there is nothing I can do but wait until the dangers have passed and all I have is this notebook and this pen. I hope it doesn’t run out . . .
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.