Category Archives: Adventure

In what must’ve been the second worst journey in the world: patting the journeyman & 12 hours on a coach…

Coaches are the devil

Satan himself must travel this way.

Horse-drawn_coach,_Tolaga_Bay,_Gisborne_Region,_c._1880sI’ve often wondered if I’d look back one day and consider the following twelve hours of my life with amusement or horror; and whether or not the experience had been a terrific one. And this is that day— it was as I feared, a long time in the coming— I do however, still have nothing but the most hostile opinion of it. I detest coaches, hate them, they’re the very ass of public transportation— I hate them almost as much as travelling on them and this particular 588 was no exception: Unless of course the horror of this journey could be classified as exceptional, which it was, but only in the loosest possible sense.

Not only was I stuck for prolonged periods— actually stuck— wedged between safety glass and a guy determined to fill all the space available to him and a large proportion of the space purportedly mine. But, I also found myself sitting atop a heating element hell-bent on melting me; no doubt ensuring that if he’d wanted to— my immediate neighbour could’ve taken over the entire bench, with barely the minimum of fuss.

The heat was also clearly upsetting a few of the other passengers; and it wasn’t just owing to the smells of searing flesh. I may not have been able to see them through the sweaty mist that had been steadily accumulating since our departure at Victoria— but the groaning was unmistakable, no doubt related to the unusual climate we were amidst. There were grunts of dismay and the occasional thud I attributed to the simoom whirling about us causing passengers to either faint; or lose their way and walk into something— something I had no intention of doing myself— even if I’d wanted to.

I valued my pride you see, and with it firmly intact, albeit lacking a few hundred pounds where my sweat had been, for lack of a better word: leaking through the very minimum of clothing I felt comfortably decent in; I maintained ‘decorum’— in its most ‘primitive’ state you understand, until Keele— and this was some six and some odd hours into the ride. It was round about this time I decided, decorum be damned, and negotiated the corpse to my right and headed for the higher ground of the central aisle only to find myself surrounded by a litter of unluckily-plucky fellows who had clearly got lost en route to the chemical toilet at the rear and fallen over. It was here I stayed until we disembarked for the grand duration of thirty minutes into the chilly northern evening…

Feeling the need to take matters into my own hands, I approached the driver with my concerns regarding the ludicrous state of affairs taking place behind him, to which he merely asked whether or not it was because it was too hot or too cold. Obviously, I found the resolve to smutter loosely at his hutzpah; informed him that I quite fancied most of us had reported seeing camels since our departure and if he wouldn’t mind and could muster it— could he please turn down the heat…

Whether or not he complied is beyond me, but the sand laden winds deceased and there were fewer individuals cluttering up the walk way. I occupied the inside seat this time, which I soon discovered, came with its own set of problems. Unlike my companion, who was at times using my shoulder as a dribbling mat, I couldn’t really bring myself to lean excessively— I could tilt backwards or forwards, something I did-so thoroughly and decided: while it may be fine for the upper body, comfort was of no avail for the lower extremities; something I couldn’t forget with my legs now letting the rest of me know all about it whenever they possibly could. And though it was frighteningly annoying, this— I could have coped with. Constant jostling is something that can be ignored with a practicable ignorance; a leaky roof however, is completely different…

So there it was, one of life’s little ironies. Since I had already been cooked for all intents and purposes, crushed and changed seats— and despite my best efforts completely unable to discover any reasonable means of establishing comfort— it was decided that my insult was to be to rubbed further by a steady stream a water from which I was powerless to escape.

My sighs, as you can imagine, became more pronounced and the onset of snow at the journey’s end seemed to be a fitting accompaniment to the heat, dampness, discomfort and sleeplessness…

They may go round but they drive me up the wall—

Such is the way of the wheel…

Getting lost and making plans: memory, crafts, surprise & the warmth of a friend…

It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.

Barbara Kingsolver

393329_10151214974261041_349311287_nIt is surprising how much we recollect our most cherished and vivid memories around the things we took for granted at the time, but shouldn’t have. These days I’m surprised by how much I seem to go unnoticed by my memory, as it decides to take off and do its merry thing without the slightest hint of decorum, not worried that what I may be doing may be worth a second thought, or were that to seem a little too much like hard word: a glance as one does at the end of the day to ensure we were the same fellow we were when we’d awoken in the morning. This: most ungracious of exclusion, is perhaps the only thing one does notice with time and by then it is too late, or almost too late. You see, I have of late come into the habit of taking a person or persons out and about, with mine, in case I need a prompt with regards to the outing— or as is sometimes the case— the abouting after the the fact in order to fully satisfy my recollecting.

It is and can be, a most frustratingly futile pursuit; paradoxical not quite quixotical; for the ‘time’ in short, makes what time has ‘built … unnoticed’, therefore forgotten, ‘surprising’ only, owing to ‘how much’ can be lost in so short a time— hence the need for ‘persons’ to illustrate what had at the time— riddlewise— been memorable, thus bringing too my day’s end illuminate. So in a rounds-about way, I can be gloomed, or as was the case: brightened and cheered, for the yester-day was, as it turned out, not-one to go ‘unnoticed’, so-by definition— if not unsaid— then by Jove-abouts not unwritten…

It had started as much the same as any other day— ordinary or otherwise, in the morning: I awoke, performed some duties: tea making, online mail and a few alsos of the like I like before taking ablutions etcetera and therefores.

My day had been wiped clean since the appointment I had been due to keep this particular day had in fact been due the day prior, but because oversight generally requires the helping hand of hindsight in order to acquiesce even to its own name, I had inadvertently overlooked my appointments entirely. I was supposed to meet my dear friend PG, or Pidgin as she’s affectionately known, in part owing to her impossibly correct locution. The fact that we had arrangements, had not even been trembled in lieu of the text informing me that, she was ‘on [her] way to Canterbury’ on a not inexpensive ticket when taking the comparative proximity and price with mine; a fact she hesitated little in informing me when on arrival at our agreed destination shortly after politely drawing to my attention that perhaps I required companions, even when talking on the telephone. This was not a fact that has gone unevidenced in the past, but seemed to’ve become an almost daily occurrence.

I had already declared my day to be one of arts and craft and wallpaper paste. I had a twelve inch model of HMS Victory to adjust, as well as a thirty inch model of a Spitfire. D had agreed to don surgical gloves with me and make it a family affair, so much glue flinging and frivolity were inevitable. I had already been amused by Pidgin, as I’d called her, as is customary on a weekday morning to enquire into her well-being, health and other sorts, before the narrative became an unnavigable exercise to circumvent her own attempts at preventing getting any more lost than she already was. She’d only just left her house as she took my call, for the polling station to vote— quite sensibly as would have it— located just two streets away; a distance that should really have only occupied the first of the many intrusions I made of her. However, as our conversation lengthened, as did the pauses and strangely detached nature of her responses, until finally she confessed that she had inadvertently found herself very, very lost.

Were she to’ve been a new resident, the situation she now found herself in may have been quite distressing, but since this was not the case, the peculiar position she now found herself in was as comedic as it was hitherto unknown. I advised her to retrace her steps in order to find her way back to her house, which she did, but found that her house was nowhere to be seen— in fact, she remarked, she had never ‘seen’ whatever it was that should ‘ve been her house anywhere or at any time before. She then decided to return to the point she’d been originally and quite by chance, found her house, if not where she’d left it twenty minutes earlier, but for convenience’s sake, in a place that’d ‘have to do’. She nipped inside, found a map and a minute later— no more and little less— had found her way, her place, checked in, hung up and voted.

So we’d both done our best to create catastrophe from reasonable beginnings. Quite how much the balance had swung away from complacency towards imbecilic and back again before teetering on a verdict which satisfied the acknowledgement of both comedic value and annoyance, is neither mine, nor her indictment to judge upon; for we as acting, if not willing participles in both sets of troubles, were really too close to allow our experiences interfere in such proceedings. Anywise, the now immediate needs were those of swift transport to Canterbury— and thankfully for me, D was on hand to chauffeur. What little mess we’d planned but not created, was cleared up two-fold by he and his shiny blue steed. We mounted his Jag and disembarked.

Canterbury was glorious. It’s one of those little cities that feels, when the sun is high— that the sun is coming at you from all directions— a point of fact that I allow that queer breed, that of the physicist, to mull over and scowl as they do, to doff at one another and attempt to calculate the numerical value of such romantic observations and spoil them. For I care not of such things, preferring to act in inglorious ignorance of the calculaic musings of such people, concentrating as I did do, on more pressing things— scouting for Pidgin. And before too long I’d found her— unlike her and her with her house— exactly where I expected her to be.

“Hello,” I said with a quite unnecessary warmth— it must’ve been 25 degrees C.

“I’ve volunteered you for something!” was the response. Quite what? I could not‘ve said. But I had pretty good idea…

Never, never, never give up

Winston Churchill

It’s certainly not any travel I know, just a hobby which shares characteristics with the way I think. We may sometimes dress alike…

I’m not yet forty; still a way off that particular milestone, but like everyone else who is—

I find it approaching a little faster than I’d like…

26396_430151901040_6641225_nThe social stuff between now and then, or whatever time-frame I tend to use as reference for what I have or haven’t done doesn’t get any smaller. Just because I can’t get it ticked off the list shouldn’t matter, but it go figures. It just becomes more compact, which is a whole other type of frustration. It’s just not as easy as other stuff: cups of tea, peace and quiet, stuff which I need more of these days— language definitely counts as stuff…

For twenty years, sabbaticals beside— which you need if you don’t want to go a little blind or, hurt people I guess— has been my primary: academically and vocationally. To describe it as a journey just doesn’t work for me. I get it, it’s all kinda kinds of fitting, but it’s used to describe football seasons, relationships, books, school, work, pregnancy; I can see it insofar as life and everything in it is neater when it’s compartmentalised and separated into a series of cultural markers, but only at a stretch. I still don’t like it; it’s not for me— my associations don’t work that way. I struggle to compartmentalise neatly because I have a need for everything to be intermentalised and far reaching, somehow— somewhere, it’s got to have a relative context and I couldn’t care less how superficially— which is why I became ever increasingly drawn to it, language that is, not superficiality, though that’s OK too. For a start it lacks the same degree of constraint which burdens journeys. In fact it’s always given me the impression that it doesn’t like to be constrained by anything— which has been the source of many a headache and a-ha alike.

If you can make a rule, there’ll be an exception; an observation, an aberration. A framework which might explains a phenomena, there’ll be an approach to make you question whether you were on the right track at all. So in that sense, it couldn’t really have more appeal to me than if I designed it myself. No, I’m pretty comfortable running with the assumption that it most certainly is not a journey. But, it could be thousands of them, all different, all seemingly heading the same way but overlapping, double-backing, reversing, contributing, refuting and turning one piece of work into many, many more.

It’s never just an aspect, or one thing— that’s too neat when you’ve got all these trains whooshing left and right and what-have-you. One aspect requires others and each of those require the same, even when it isn’t always plain to see how or why; which is why it all takes time and the social stuff keeps getting fat. There’s a lot of going back and forth— to the beginning, back and forth to the end sometimes; starting again, screaming and so forth.

It’s rich, diverse and can be frustrating; though never less than rewarding, even when you’re getting nowhere. It is something which requires constantly chipping away at— and a good rail-pass. There’s always something new, a connection; a correlation, something utterly unexpected just around the corner— something you daren’t miss.

If I had one complaint, despite having been researcher, analyst, consultant and educator, it would be my failure to become proficient in no more than 5% of it.

By the time I am forty, that number will have shrunk…

In which case I’ll get stuff ticked off…

Superheroes, disguises & fairy landscapes…

What a difference a day makes—

I hate these differences…

375601_10150752315281041_1742842866_nThough it does indeed. No two are alike and as with the riddle binding the elegance and mystery of the moment together— such things reveal themselves to me whilst I find myself going through an unscheduled, artistic change— a small period of paper-blindness is quite normal…

One step was to alter my identity to avoid being recognised in unlikely places. The obvious dwelling places, such as dells and fairy-landscapes hold no odds for me of encountering misfortunates— and unlike previous do-gooders before me, blessed with the immortality that required little more than a good set of hair straighteners and a chunky pair of spectacles; I value my anonymity— CCTV and all. The last thing I want is to be chased by the owner of a car I saved from being run over by a delinquent whilst on a reconnaissance mission during a winter month.

As the days get colder, the nights are hotting up for action and I’m afraid, since I made an addition to my special suit— I have a distaste for describing it as a costume or uniform since I am neither a star of panto or a soldier. The scarf was not my usual spandex but holds within its fabric, a welcome love. Unfortunately the aerodynamics and drag it creates whilst cruising between 3 and 5 miles up, led to my making the decision to remove the spikes that had acted as a rudder; especially during times of high winds— I have decided to revert to a sharks’ fin in order to manoeuvre at high speeds and dub it the finbar.

With baldness comes sleeplessness and with no sleep comes an appetite for produce where ‘microscopic bacteria’ actually features prominently in the list of ingredients. The laughter comes in dribs and drabs, lasting up to a full minute if I am lucky; And I am so lucky— this I know. Those I save these chilly evenings barely know how to smile.

I wish I had one wish, the realisation of a what if— the chance to make a cautionary element of living, a treasure for the masses for a day.

It wouldn’t be the same without italics…

Would it?

I look after hearts when they least expect to need healing; pets and friends too. Even idiots who think they can climb tall buildings without a safety net. You’re all safe…

I ventured and gained: nothing mind you, but still. Trial by coffee…

A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.

Bertrand Russell 

483515_10150749357376041_1807198034_n

Every now and then I get this craving for really good coffee— which wouldn’t be quite so torrid if the fridge wasn’t sporting some. Some days it practically spits it at me whilst endorsing the stuff at the same time; teasing me with breath so chilled it’s clearly a word of lost participles. It was being particularly unpleasant only the other evening, as I attempted to locate the cheese for a good strumming:

‘Hey treacle’ It said, ‘you look tired. Go on— make some— you know you want to…’

But since my cafeteria fell foul of complications due to wear and tear— the fridge gets torn into with the more industrial side of my language. It’s hardly civilised, but since I managed to get it to talk to the toaster— I’m afraid it’s become a little lippy!

Being without a vessel for your beans is monstrous you see, and the fridge knows this— it’s like trying to drive a car with no steering wheel. Today though, I just couldn’t be restrained.

So I buckled up and found a saucepan which was too small and filled it up with a too large a sprinkling of coffee; administered too great a volume of water; used a grind catcher designed for fewer granules whilst pouring into my inadequate mug, which was too close to the edge of the work surface— which allowed me the oppotunity to determine exactly how not absorbent enough the kitchen towel was to pick up the dribbles; the mug not large enough to entertain my drink; the catcher had butter-fingers, over-flew and trickled over everything; leaving me with a hard fought out pint of gritty coffee— and all the makings of a good clear up. All however— was not to be lost with, melancholy lost.

I found another mug of similar design and filtered the contents of the first mug into it and simply rinsed away the offending particles in the sink…

Unfortunately, my efforts were tepid and I sunk the lot in a superhero sized gulp—

Now I’m thirsty again;

Though I may apply Russian scientific principals to my labours and improve the definition of my practises…