Monthly Archives: December 2013

Trapped in a narrative: losing one’s sense of self

Change the narrative would be one answer to this. Certainly, one can change the present tense and then the future, but the past… If that narrative is missing how would a person ever stop trying to make sense themselves on some level, even as they got on with the business of living the new story?

The past is the context for the now. I suppose the trick is not to let it dictate the future, to start from a helpful point in the past and not one that will keep entangling you and dragging you down. Start from the cocktail hour that time when you had that perfect Margarita, with just the right amount of salt round the glass. You know, the one when it was raining but it didn’t matter because the view was just perfect. Start from there.

Music as occasion

I was listening to Desert Island Discs this morning and the castaway Barbara Hulanicki, of Biba fame, spoke of a memory of playing a record of Chopin with her father, selecting the needle for the record, taking the record out of its cover, placing it on the turntable…

It struck me then, that with the immediacy of music now available at the push of a button, or an iPod shuffle, often experienced alone through the world of earphones, we have sacrificed something else… shared ritual and memory.

I am old enough to remember vinyl. The consensus about the record to be played. Sitting down to listen, maybe sing along. I spent hours that way. Now everyone is plugged into their own device, listening to their own thing. I never thought I would miss vinyl, not in the beginning, in the brave new world of the Walkman and then the CD. But I do. I miss the needle lowering onto the record, the shared experience, the crackle and the bump bump bump at the end when it hits the final groove.

I do miss all that.



There’s a storm surge as I write, but there are also surges of love, for example.

At the weekend I saw a very, very small child walking down the road with what I took to be a grandparent. They stuck out because they were walking so slowly, because the child was so very small. The grandparent paced her steps to suit. It made me stop and look because it’s not what you see often, on the street. Children just starting to walk are strapped down, front-facing pushed along at buggy speed – adult pace.

Then the grandparent stopped and dropped down on to her haunches. She then produced a handkerchief and dabbed the child’s nose. I never saw such attention to detail, so much care and concern given, so much love in wiping a nose. And then they carried on walking very, very slowly down the street.

It’s those moments that make life seem real. I was thinking this week that the trees have hung onto their leaves for a long time this year. The pavement the child and grandparent and myself were walking down was thick with them. I suppose today’s surging wind and rain will account for the yellowing remainder of them, still hanging on.


Reflect, reflect, reflect

I took this earlier this year in Chicago. I can’t think why I didn’t post it before now.

What with the huge Picasso sculpture a few blocks away, the Windy City really knows how to rock its public art.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Stoic Week round-up

I’ve tried doing Stoic week and I can conclude there is way to go before I am a real Stoic. I can do some of it, but my big stumbling block is non-attachment to outcomes, particularly in regard to those outcomes we can’t control… As the Alcoholics Anon Serenity prayer says:

I really get attached to outcomes – in fact my whole working life is about them – and it’s not always knowing the difference between those that I can control, and those that I can’t that regularly struggle with.

You see, what if, I, on my own can’t control an outcome… but if I find enough like-minded individuals and get together with them – perhaps we can. I realise I now sound like Barack Obama’s first presidential election campaign, and maybe that’s my trouble. I can’t quite see my limitations… well not at least until I’ve run into them. Head first usually. And when that happens and I am rubbing my head, then I usually repeat my other maxims for life (to myself).

First this:

Then this:

And then, finally…

This one

And then, I lie down, light a cigar and have a glass of wine. So maybe, just maybe, I too am a little Stoic round the edges. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a plain stubborn, hardhead. Who knows.

(I’ve been so busy trying to be Stoic this week, that I am quite behind on things I need to write about. First there is the Isa Muazu case and immigration to the UK in general. In true Stoic style I am waiting until my emotions settle before I embark on that post, and I am hoping the Home Secretary will be called to answer questions about his failed and inhumane deportation tomorrow in the House of Commons which may enlighten my own writing process – although I doubt it. Then there are the two films I saw this week which mixed profundity and pain with kitsch moments and conversation that don’t say the half of it – and ain’t that just about the size of real life? And finally, there was a beautiful moment of connection I witnessed this afternoon that I am determined shall not be lost to the busyness of existence and would like to reflect on here.)

Oh, and there is a new blog to be revealed as this one is now bulging at the seams.

Keep up at the back.