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Losing the spark

I meant to post these (some of my mudlark findings) a while ago. Life got in the way, as it is wont to do. I seem to have a problem accepting what it is physically possible to achieve given the constraints, if not set by every click of the clock, then at least those presented by the fact that the world does turn from night into day and round again.

My health seems not to have been so good this year, which sometimes puts the skids under me. It’s frustrating, but maybe I am paying the price of not stopping. Genetically, it must be said that my inheritance is to not know how. I’m not moaning, just musing. It would be churlish to wish that there were more hours in the day, and I probably can’t go any faster. Perhaps the best thing to do is just accept that it is what it is and there’s nothing I, or anybody else, can do about it.

spark plug




They don’t look the same do they?

Anyway, today marks the occasion wherein my eldest daughter gets to celebrate the fact that in her first year I managed not to drop her on her head and in the second, I noticed she’d shoved a bead up her nose before too much harm was done; in the third I found her a playgroup from which her only memory is playing with a toy called a ‘Troll’… By her fourth year, I was getting the hang of it and enrolled her in school; in the fifth I enrolled her in another. In her sixth year we had mastered the art of doing her hair in a pineapple do and in her seventh I had managed to uncover her hidden talent for the waltz. In her eighth year I was still remembering to feed her, but by her ninth she could feed herself by making pancakes; her tenth year marked the occasion of her common sense often overtaking my own, and today, well, today she is celebrating by taking her SATS.

Funny how things go.


One she made earlier

One she made earlier

A bit of local weather

A bit of a pulling-loose-ends-together post today. It is St Patrick’s Day and nothing will prevent me from raising a glass of Guinness later, at the umpteenth Irish dancing performance of the week. The girls have taken to jigging and reeling like I would never have believed: they have the soft shoes, the hard shoes, the poodle socks – in fact everything but the curly wig and the rhinestone encrusted dress…

It’s been a busy and intense few days, but thoroughly enlivened by the visit of the Wray Barton Wrecking Crew, or perhaps their new incarnation of the Wary Barton Wrecking Crew. The fabulous steak pie was devoured in largely reverential silence by my starving family, who are sadly inured to the Mother Hubbard approach to meal-making. Work has been busy and demanding and there is still yet more to do. Where the time will come from I am not certain. When I am in a fix, I ask it to elasticate itself for me… generally it obliges but then it pings back suddenly and subsequently rushes by, which I suppose is necessary otherwise it would snap. Imagine if my request for the occasional elastication of time to my convenience snapped it for the rest of you!

Of course that could not happen. The passage of time is entirely down to our own perception, and we can all do whatever we wish with it. Isn’t it marvellous?

Anyway, here’s the weather. As Dorothy Parker said, ‘They tire of quiet, that have known the storm.’


FAO David Cameron

There is always, always an alternative. Just because you are too ideologically narrow-minded and ego-driven to see it does NOT mean that it does not exist.

There is more I might add but, having spent a day at the sharp end of your state sponsored bullying of the sick, weak and vulnerable in society, I am too worn out to continue.

Yesterday, someone told me I should write a blog…

Oh, I do replied, otherwise, as you see, my head would explode.

My daughter returned from her school trip today. We had a few positives and then the long list of negatives – usually crimes against the personages of children by The Teachers.

Top of the heinous crimes list was hogging the salad cream.

Yesterday I passed an elderly couple in TK Maxx. For once, I was just passing through that emporium of things you never knew you’d really need when you finally found out they even existed. Honest, I really was just passing through – down their escalators is a short cut to the car park. Down amongst the garden furniture and the house furniture and the statuary and the crockery the old lady planted her feet like a racehorse refusing to enter the stalls.

‘I’m not taking one more step until you tell me where you’re going’ she said. She was about eighty at a guess. Her husband looked at least the same. His reply was lost on the wind as I passed through on my short cut to the car park. This was against my better judgement. If I hadn’t have had the non-school trip child in tow I would have definitely hidden behind a giant Moroccan lantern to watch the denouement. For all I know he refused to tell her and they are still there now…

…locked in an elderly married couple’s infinite shopping stand-off.

The other thing my daughter did on her return from the school trip was comment on a clock I have been lent by a student to help my own children finally nail this learning to tell the time on the clock face, instead of reading it off a digital display.

I don’t want you lying in bed staring at your clock on the wall wondering ‘what it all means’ anymore, I said.

Oh I don’t need that thing you’ve got, she said. I can tell some of the times.

She’s ten. ‘Some of the times,’ indeed.

I blame the salad cream hogging teachers…

A thing I never knew I must have

A thing I never knew I must have

Time Stands Still

I would not say it hangs, nor hovers; the former is too unpurposeful, the latter too predatory. Even when time seems completely still, as it appears out of the window this morning (is it morning?) it manages to pass anyway. How does it do that? Perhaps in the same unseen way I can stand quite still, silent, but my heart keeps beating; measuring out my unknown reckoning. I am still, but there is the counting down inside. One day, it will stop, the heart. For now, time is still, the heart beats some and I hear a new drop of rain fall. Or is it an old one?

On Christmas Night I opened the window of the back bedroom, fully. I looked at the Moon with the children and showed them Jupiter which was beyond bright, close to, at the Moon’s right hand. The clouds swirled around and over the pair, coming and going, creating that oil on water rainbow effect like a puddle at a petrol station. I thought about that book, The Moon’s a Balloon. *Robert Morley or *Derek Nimmo, some raconteur or wit at any rate. I’d never really understood the title before but it made sense looking out of the window with the children, watching Jupiter, and the Moon drift upwards in the clouds.

The window would not shut properly. In time, all the windows here will have to be replaced. Earlier on Christmas Day I had travelled past some fine windows that were once replaced: over twenty years ago, now. I knew the person that made the replacement frames. Those frames, the windows, have outlived their carpenter, by more than twenty years. Maybe that’s why some people have a Christian faith – to avoid that fate – the one of being outlived by inanimate objects. I can’t see it for myself, even if it is all wrapped up in a story about a carpenter called Jesus. One day I might change my mind about that, the greatest of all hedged bets. I hope not. In the meantime, perhaps I will outlive a balloon, at least.


*Turns out it was David Niven.

As I edited this I saw the odd phrase that would stand as evidence of the passage of time. One day modern people will laugh at the once prehistoric habits of filling our internal combustion conveyances with fossil fuels and Derek Nimmo will be, sadly, long forgotten…

Another First Day Back @ School

I wrote a post about this on September 7th 2 years ago which, for some reason, has been viewed *1393 times in the intervening period.

Given yesterday’s theme about Time, and it being a man-made measure of the universe’s physical processes, I feel more inclined to note the changes that have occurred between the last post about Going Back to School and this one; change after all being that which the time man makes the measure of. I’m not sure if that sentence makes sense, but if it doesn’t neither does a clock that ticks off 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. Not really…

Two years ago the kids had heads full of missing teeth and I was on Tooth Fairy duty. Now the eldest doesn’t believe in the Tooth Fairy or Father Christmas and no-one’s teeth fell out this morning. Result.

This year I asked the youngest if she was taking her standard issue book bag with her. The eldest replied for her

Book Bags are so out of fashion in Year 3

Oh. That explains why she hasn’t carried one for the last two years then; she’s now in Year 5 and wants to play the violin. I don’t much care for the violin having tried it myself but I am rather keen on her getting to grips with mathematical concepts this year, never mind what bag she’s carrying.

I don’t share these views with them. I don’t share that whilst they are probably a little bit nervous, but mainly happy to be going back to school, I am keeping how I feel (tearful) to myself. It’s a balance as a parent isn’t it? Modelling appropriate feelings so kids learn not to be scared of emotions, how to handle their own and other peoples, but not burdening them with adult feelings when they have their own shit like which bag to take to school to deal with.

So I gave the youngest a hug, checking this was permissible; the oldest had already dropped my hand as soon as we crossed the main road near school because it was ’embarrassing’. I thought the oldest had vanished into the playground crowd, but she did look back and wave.

I have left them to their world of school and new teachers where time is strictly meted out and measured, and I have returned to my own world where time seems to fit neither the Greeks’ kronos or kairos concepts and instead wildly telescopes this way and that, and at other times, completely stands still.

Changing the subject because I’m not quite comfortable with it – we’ve not had a horse for a while on here. Here’s a rather nice one, with the youngest. She’s following a rather complex country sartorial code to do with trousers being tucked in/not tucked in to one’s wellies.

I have certain feelings about that last sentence, but I won’t burden you with them now.

Is she feeling what I'm feeling?

*I only discovered that I could actually look this figure up when I wondered how many views the post had had. This post’s first draft read ‘hundreds of times’, the second draft a more modest ‘few hundred times’, third draft said **783 but I’ve since worked out that was for this year only. I feel a bit better now.

**Maybe it’s because it was tagged ‘Dentist’. Maybe I should tag everything Dentist…

Time is now

The rest is merely conceptual.

The way humans have chosen to measure time explains why it appears to pass quicker the older we get – a year between you turning one and two is your whole lifetime again (which is just as well considering the development that needs to happen); whereas turning 70 represents only one seventieth of your whole life.

And, apparently, a recent multidisciplinary conference organised by the Foundational Questions Institute has also decided that the past and the future are equally real and implicit in the now.

I love the mind-bending concept there. We have come to rely on recalling the past to inform the future – even though we know memory is a woefully inaccurate record and varies from person to person; far more liberating then to ‘remember’ the future to inform the now.

You might think it sounds impossible, but it’s not. Ask George Orwell.

Here’s the set of slides by Sean Carroll, a physicist and theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology that opened the conference.

The conference discussions inspired this blog, also by Sean Carroll, where he lists Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time, two of which I have loosely referred to above.

I needed to read it Ten Times to get my head round it all.

Playing with time

Have we have been given an extra hour this morning, or we have had an unwanted hour imposed on the chronology of this day. How do you see the clocks going back? I feel it is an imposition, but then I feel the measurement of time by clocks and a Pope’s calendar as a deep constriction on my soul. I cannot deny the passing of “time”, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall, the seasons change, night follows day and so on but surely the word time is too limited to encapsulate all these concepts?

On a side note, it is strange to me that English has so many, many words and so many of them useless to most of us. Words that name words if you are linguist or grammarian (I’m not) or words that set others apart from the run of the mill of us: academic words, scientific words, specialist words that we have no cause to employ. All useful in their own way I am sure for a very few people. What about a wider range of words for the human condition: a choice of words for time, and birth and love. We have such a tragically limited choice to describe the huge range of concepts and feelings we experience.

Back to time. There is the time most of us are bound to live our lives by but we are all aware there are other types of time that we experience: when time does something else. The middle of the night, the way time passes when your child is ill or someone is dying, the way time hangs when we travel. The Greeks divided time into two concepts: kronos and kairos. Kronos is the sequential, linear time we measure with our clocks and calendars; that time we live, work and die by.

Kairos cannot be defined exactly by one word in English – it is a concept – those moments of opportunity that place us only in the now without measurement. Kronos is defined as quantative, kairos as qualitative. Kairos is something to not merely note, but to participate in. I experience this when I look at certain paintings, listen to music, stand under a tree in the wind. This is personal to me, everyone will have their own kairos moments. Sometimes the opportunity offered to humans through participating in this kind of time, not just marking it off, changes the course of history. Even if that is not for you today, kairos still offers each of us the opportunity to now and then transcend the limitations of the clockface.

Time Management

Oh dear, not my strongest point, whereas procrastination and I… … – well I expect you can guess. Today I was forced to confront my demons and produce from nowt a well-crafted session to be “piloted” under the Foundation Learning Tier (don’t ask). Essentially, although the resources had legs, we had no wings and we never left the ground; trudging instead through strange constructs like audits and SMART targets (actually we didn’t do the SMART things, they turned out to be all at once the opposite of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (excuse me whilst I hurl)).

Sorry about labouring the metaphor but I think some of the poor students wished they had ejector buttons on their chairs. It seems that being asked to think about how you spend you time, wisely or nay, is a rather challenging business. I noted that, in a class consisting entirely of men, we did spend rather longer discusssing how much time they spent on sleeping and eating in a week than I had planned on doing. Of course, time is an abstract concept so despite our human regulatory efforts to constrain and measure it with clocks and calendars, this morning it just did what it so often will; it defied our management, slowed up, speeded down and eventually ran away with us.

I have tried to embed this link where you can waste some more time (after reading this post) playing a baking bread game with Wallace and Gromit, but in the interests of time management I have elected to simply post a link. Not so aesthetically pleasing, but it buys me at least another half an hour today to waste on something else…


So bad is my TM that I burnt the second loaf

So bad is my TM that I burnt the second loaf