Blog Archives

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.

‘Buy the ticket, take the ride’

So said the hard living and writing Hunter S Thompson. And I did. Yesterday I took the Blue Line to late night opening down at the Institute of Art. I can only take a couple of hours in art museums before I am overwhelmed, and I took it right to the edge yesterday… If I was here longer, I might go back. It’s never occurred to me before that you can actually take pictures of the pictures in those places – maybe in most you can’t. Here in Chicago, they let you, so I did.

And so I passed an evening, before travelling back on the Blue Line to the neighbourhood I am staying in. I thought if I was going to have a drink (which I was), it would be wiser to be in a stone’s throw of my bed. As it turns out, I can’t drink too much when I am on my own – I always want my wits about me, but I did need something to take the jagged edge off sleeping in a bunk in a dorm (right outside the common room area = noisy). I have discovered that what I saved in accommodation costs I probably spent in Margarita, Red Wine and Johnnie Walker Black. Still, I did get some sleep, so it was all good.

What was less good was when I couldn’t get the keypad to let me back in my dorm around 3 a.m. this morning. I had been in bed asleep but being the age I am, I needed to use the bathroom (as they say here). I punched in three wrong numbers and then the keypad refused to work – a bit like the ATM eating your cash card. I was thinking that I would have to spend the rest of the night on a sofa by the table football, but then I noticed that in my bleary-eyed state I had been entering a #5, instead of a #6. After a suitable period of decompression, the keypad came back to life and I was in! I have never been so glad to see a bottom bunk in a hot and airless room full of female strangers (some snoring, gently).

The next sleep I have should be in my own bed, with my own dog, who has apparently missed me with great severity; something he has communicated by protest and anxiety peeing round the house… It’s a groovy world I live in.

I couldn’t seem to fully appreciate the big Picasso exhibition at the Institute yesterday. Maybe I just don’t get him… maybe I am too young, or too old to understand, or maybe it’s like the time I went wine tasting in Beaunes in Burgundy: if you leave the Nuits St George until you’ve drunk a bucket of cheaper appellations, the good stuff is going to taste like vinegar… It’s possible that this is what happened yesterday but I prefer my other theory: this may be heresy, but when I look at him I seem to get a big ego looking back at me. I like the sculpture and the printing more than the painting, but there you go, each to his or her own. What I do like is a lot of the American artists so the blog might feature those rather heavily for a while. Here’s a detail I took from a Jackson Pollock called ‘Greyed Rainbow’. It’s exquisite.

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Buy the ticket, take the ride…

As I have found out, it looks a little like this.

From the album ‘Playing With Fire’ by Dervish

When this album came out in the mid-1990s I lived with my sister, Finky Wink, in Clapton. One November we had a mad party and in the small hours we switched from playing dance music from the charts to some tracks on this album ~ everyone dancing to the Irish folk music was one of the best times I can remember in my life, it was just joyful.

This is a sad song, a warning to women. We didn’t dance to this one.

The following day I had the worst hangover of my life (tequila).

And the moral of this post is? Well, aside from the song’s sad but true sentiment: don’t eat the damn worm.

‘Man of the World’ & Seagulls

I walked along the seafront this afternoon. To the west of the Thames estuary, the skies were blue and to the east, clouds were a heavy grey. The wind blew hard out to the North Sea. I stopped for a while in a bar and drank a salty, sharp, sweet-sour margarita whilst they played this tune.

On the walk back the seagulls were in the same formation, all bobbing on the incoming tide.
The wind had dropped, as it does, in the end.