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

The Gramm’azis’s a rude bunch. Even the term [just spoils my tea]…

When was their 1919 moment?

Besides the mobile-phone…

536031_10150755819601041_591256550_nGramm’azis sometime jump all over paragraphs, because in their rage they sometimes fail to recognise them as paragraphs; instead focus on a particular phrase. Even the term— perhaps even the use of Nazi in the plural tense— perhaps even the use of italics instead of the inverted comma. They’d complain that ia sentence wasn’t a sentence and didn’t make sense and blah to the la-de-dah, calling people stupid and whatever. And in one version of the universe— where cohesion, elision, endophora, hell, even the minor sentence didn’t exist— they’d be quite right, which is why I find the very term Grammar Nazi so apt. There really couldn’t be a more fitting soubriquet; it’s accurate with just the right hint of irony. Lucky for me however, I live in a galaxy far, far away from the one party state where a little sterilisation is OK. Because although language is a constituency of one, grammar is just one of the bits. Granted it’s one of the big bits, but without a complement of bits, shit gets sterile; and that would be— as long as you accept gramm’azis turd is safe to eat— an ineffective form of rule. And a contradiction: shit should not be fit for human consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Standard English and think it ought to be protected. As a teaching tool it’s invaluable and as a means with which to measure English variance, there’s really no substitute, but holy-moly. I wouldn’t want to imagine a world where these guys go unopposed, which shouldn’t be too Earth-altering because they inhabit a really small place; it’s not even part of the planet. It’s a place with zero separation of spelling and grammar— which is a big no no Brown-Shirts, and if the metonymy offends you, you’re gonna love this one: grammar is based on sound, not words. The your, you’re, their, they’re, there place— I don’t know what to call this ego-enhancing pleasure-palace— is not a grammar problem, it’s a representation issue, it’s orthography; and yes, it’s annoying and best avoided, but in comment-boxes? Really? Is there really no higher place to call? Did pragmatics and deixis suddenly disappear?

That was me thinking out-loud. And that was me being flippant. And that was me wondering why anyone— and let’s be clear here— anyone with but a rudimentary grasp of language think it’s perfectly acceptable to respond to something with— wah, wah, grammar police wah fucking wah wah?

Clever people don’t do that. Linguists and language folk don’t do that. In fact the guys who are in a position to comment upon specific language uses, tend not to make the mistake of using too many logically fallacious statements, especially not ad hominem, tu quoque crap like your momma’s do— come on. I mean, god— is there some kind of high-register discourse convention for comment-boxes that I don’t know about? The one where anything short of five-part essay-standard formality is open-season for the sanctimonious? Aren’t comment-boxes supposed to be a convenient way to get a point across when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to instead of working? Are gramm’azis so blind-sided by blues-and-twos that they cannot see that good points sometimes come in shitty packages?

The ability to spot these mistakes then point them out does not require any particular skill or training, it really doesn’t. It doesn’t make you smart— it makes you an asshole. It means, at the very least you have a rudimentary grasp of language and are conscious of it. Our cueing systems are remarkable things, brilliant; they’re not toys to throw at each other. Now, most non-drivers can tell the difference between a good and shitty driver, and on this I’d steak a gamm’azis’ momma. Driving is not an inherent attribute. Language acquisition and development is pretty uniform the world over which means we are all, to some degree grammatical creatures, we are also contextual creatures— with few exceptions, I should know, I’ve worked with a few. But I’m also careful not to generalise too sweepingly and incur wrath from the fallacy police, even though those guys know how to party.

I can go on for weeks, literally. It was my job— Actually, I rarely left a dry eye, but I’d rather not. These people are ruining just about every article I read these days.

Bollockations—

I just don’t like the rude, it’s not contructive…

Damn you gramm’azis! All I wanted to do was read about cricket, drink tea and find my day!

Don’t shower alone— take them as you would suprise; with expectation & guides…

A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.

Robert Baden-Powell

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For many, many reasons, I am frequently found to be resonating— more than likely because I once found Baden-Powell’s whim regarding the unexpected resonating. However, with the odd tweak to allow for inflation and language change, maintenances for such unforeseen occurrences, in a literal sense would no doubt fall these days under the protection of predictable things— if not in their entirety, then at least in their E-ssence. However, no matter how clearly I feel I’m comfortable with acknowledging his inkling valid: that we, the some-oddth generation of hunter-gather should be nurtured with fire and other outdoorsy stuff to ensure the survival of the our most basic survival instincts— I’m sure anyone reading this might maintain their own inkling that perhaps I made a typo— and what I actually meant was ‘cleanly’.

It can be no mistake that the shower has been central to some of my more memorable moments and encounters, because for reasons unbeknownst to me, they just keep on coming. Only this morning my scouting gene was called upon to subdue a salvo when the hot water became overrun, leaving me sudded suddenly, with nothing but the prospect of cold water to torture and not to cleanse. It was a vulnerable predicament to find myself in, and were it not for the intuition to cut off the supply, make a flanking dash to reinstate the boiler enabling my return once debriefed, I might never have completed my shower, and for all I know, have remained sticky for the rest of the day— something no-one should side with as a consequence of a continuous succession of moments melding into one collective experience. On the other hand, it might be OK if the experience involved being sticky for an altogether different reason.

Never-the-less, I handled it with the expertise and confidence I was trained to do around camp-fires— what I wasn’t expecting was the double-play; the muddy water where the very least of expectations take the guise of unknown forces to extend upon you, the surprise that even predictability cannot begin to fathom, let alone quantify.

I was lulled into applying a second coating of soap before realising the trap that had predicated my near demise had once again been sprung: the hot water ceased firing. This time however, there was little for it but to counter the sortie with a furious counter offensive before freezing to death— I outwitted my foe by staying put and though I escaped a touch bitten, it was no more than to be expected— and I emerged triumphant … just a little shorter.

Demoralise the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.

Hitler was onto something there—

I don’t think he had bathroom appliances in mind though…

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…

On golf & why clubs are most certainly not trumps; wind and the 2 percenters…

There are times when retreat is the only option but no matter how hard you look for it, it cannot be found—

Quite how only-options cease to become any option at all, fits into the realm of being one’s own master, I really couldn’t say. But times will be times…

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On occasions such as these then, when options aren’t really options and the only decision to be made is, to like it or lump it, the only recourse is resignation; to accept the notion that things are not, nor are they likely to be on-the-up for the foreseeable future. Whether that future be a couple of hours, three weeks or ten minutes; thirty seconds yesterday, was quite considerable enough for my liking for things not to be on-the-up. For when all that was up was clearly feeling injured at being so ill thought of by those pukers and durrynackers at the Met Office, their recourse was to do nothing but get down. And so it was, they did. And low they must have felt, because down they came, and down and down and down. Those thirty seconds became ten minutes, then a couple of hours, until they made damn-sure it felt like three weeks.

Yesterday was a miserable day– I myself was rather splendid, toffed-up with all the other howling cheeses, knowing full well the weather would not be– quite how removed from dandy though was at the time, a mere speculation. Far from being picture perfect, the sky had a little hoarseness about it, but no clue as to the airs and graces it later let loose. At least once during warm-ups I saw enough blue to make a pair of sailors trousers, so it was more in hope than anything I’d preferred science and those learned chaps in Devon, to dock-whalloping.

It was a golf day, as was the day before, but whereas previously it’d been about practise, learning lines and the lay of the land– yesterday was competition day. I don’t play in those, I’m the caddy. I’m the guy with the numbers; the guy who plays the day before to put some of the course management scenarios to the test. I’m the guy who checks the weather statistics to determine baselines: average wind-speed and potential gusts relative to the passage of play; and whilst there’s no substitute for experience, it’s important to have certain things tucked away in the back-pocket to fall upon when the only guidance is a small red flag fluttering a hundred yards away or the tops of the trees, twenty above and five to the right. In situations like these, the nod to the gods just ain’t pie. To put it in perspective, the percentage between the distance of a short approach to a pin and the desired distance from it once settled, is at most, about 2%. Wind affects the ball considerably which is why we have our baselines and the ability to shape our balls: left to right or right to left. You might very well say that a golfer will dress according to conditions and then rummage from start to finish.

Dealing with strong winds can be a lot like eating claws for breakfast. A ball launched high into the wind will stall but invariably land softly, however this has many woes to consider. In order to get to where you’re going, you need a stronger club; the stronger the club, the harder the shot so greater therefore, is the margin for error. A ball launched lower is more penetrative so it negates the effects of the more majestic, moon-bound ball. However, it is more likely to kick after its initial contact with the ground, bringing landing areas into play and depending on your chips, to which the ball now becomes– the luck of the bounce. But you still want the ball to stop within that 2%. In some respects, the curve related to the impact of wind in relation to the difficulty of controlling distance, when plotted as a distribution of probability, mirrors the trajectory of the shot itself. Golf, played like this can be bollocks. And there was the rain.

Showers and a North-Easterly at 11mph, gusts up to 24. That was what we expected. What we got was a delightful one club wind and clear skies for about twenty minutes. But that was before the botherations. So impertinent we must have been to take the word of the finest meteorologists in the world, that when the rain’d decided to stop fannying about, it also decided to forego the drizzling, preferring something akin to dust-whapping. Indeed, with the right amount of squint, it was perfectly obvious to those of us not already blinded by them, that the droplets bore an uncanny resemblance to skillets. And then there was the wind.

By this time, even the most myopic golfer would’ve been able to hazard a guess as to where the North-East was, as the rain’s hypotenuse was something of a mathematical marvel– so remarkable was it, that Galvin Green ought to consider whether 100% waterproof is merely connotative and the 2% degree of desirability should applied to all facets of golf. The only downside there however, would be a label signifying something’s impenetrable by water, some of the time, to me anyway– lacks pizzazz.

To labour the point here would be to do injustice to the gruesomeness of the next five hours. Any sensible person would agree that to spend any longer than necessary in such conditions would be idiotic, but therein lies one of the quirks of the game. The more foul it is, the longer it generally takes to play. There are the necessary costume changes, the umbrellas, the pointless huddling under the branches of lone saplings; the misguided attempts to lull between holes in the hope that the weather will do the same– by which point, all carefully composed plans are replaced with fuck-yous to the heavens and more of a grip-it and rip-it approach. Finesse becomes futile, and what’s more, so does the caddy.

We start out as invaluable foot-lickers only to find ourselves all a-cock, reduced to sodden dull-swifts, duffered out and sole-spectators to a precision game reduced to clumps and the business of bludgeoning.

Like I said, golf played like this—

Is bollocks…

But I myself was rather splendid…

The semantic identity crisis surrounding all-in-one pyjamas…

Look back, and smile at perils past—

Or simply find the nearest grown-up in toddlers’ habiliment…

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An adult in a baby-grow is wrong— in fact it’s practically retarded. Practically, that is, but not quite. Pleonastic perhaps, but entirely necessary. Regressive would probably be the better term, although reaction formation might do also, were it only a word and far too early in the peace to get defensive. I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to narrow my semantics any further to accomodate an r-word, particularly when there’s already a narrowing between metaphor and metonymy— that’s if, I were to believe in such a thing. The occupation of infant by adult is scant enough to satisfy my minimalism and certainly disturbing enough once summerised: contiguity via wardrobe. Three words. I could quite easily has decided upon, onesies are stupid or, jump-suits? Seriously? But I didn’t.

There. I said it: onsies are stupid;  the word ‘onesie’ is stupid; jump-suit is no better either. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to prefix novelty nightwear with the word jump or anything remotely like it, the clobber in question had better be fucking lacy; frilly even and not, even remotely opaque. Sleep-suit is at least sensibly self-referential, but to accept its self-evidence, one must also accept far too much sibilance for my liking. An abundance of s’s should ideally be held back for more ironic or moronic purposes. It’s also mean to would be readers who lisp.

If I had to pick a pillow to chew however, I’d opt, much like any other self-respecting inner-linguist-ninja would, for romper-suit; particularly for it’s ambi-sexual gender relevance— something which should resonate with everyone; kind of bringing us back to the word ‘onesie’: the adjective this time, not the noun.

That and I think I’d feel less of a wanker wearing something to sleep in which came with ears:

Romper-suit it would seem—

Ticks all the appropriate boxes.

Which still don’t make it so…

You’ll find lots of things at my desk to assist me when the need is greatest…

Acorns were good until bread was found.

Francis Bacon

555751_10150808762961041_1512462874_nContinuing with the most unlikeliest of themes— an absolutism which despite appearances isn’t the statement of a complete cretin, considering ours is a time of constant hyperbole and overexposure to superfluous superlatives where all is garbage or great; it therefore makes its self a meta-sentiment which holds semantic weight considering the vastness of the post-modifying element of the phrase, and also quite appropriate owing to its observance to a law other than stylistics— something I happen to know a little about; but not too much.

What we expect and what are the unknowingest parts of the mundane exist only from our desire to rise above such trivialities in order to offer ourselves respite from whatever trappings we use to define our servility. Mine are deliberately superficial, affordable for the most part— in the least part not exactly cheap or morally legitimate, but congruent to my own sets of values. This tryphé may be subject to further discussion were it not of an impending consequence that I amend Mr Bacon’s alluring aphorism with something I hope is not unedifying. Acorns were indeed good, as was bread, but that was until breadsticks. Of course, once it’s possible to be in a position where you can purchase a packet of acorns at your local supermarket for recreational purposes, we may see this priority change hands once again.

I must confess, with some amusement I might add, that I had never have seen any benefits in eating breadsticks or anything else with them for that matter, because they’re a kind of non-food stuff. They’re not a snack and barely count as an accoutrement to a meal. I would never have ‘let alone’ imagined there could be any value in them outside their nutritional content, which is very little; and certainly wouldn’t have credited them with the sustenance required to cause astonishment— at least not in the quantity required for me to  link them to something as ‘surprising’. But with any such awe comes inevitability and with that we are led to the writing of the predicament I now find myself in— which is not so much the refuting of a man’s maxim, albeit not one of his best, than the fashioning of a new one.

Were I to say that I like the idea of inventors messing around in their garages, taking apart toys and microwaves to find something new that’ll change the world as we know it, would you say it was rather like being revolutionary born in Switzerland? Probably not, that’s why there are two different kinds of people, equal nonetheless, but that’s where my similarity to any form of revolutionary rests; being Swiss don’t got nothing to do with it.

I also like the idea of writers messing around in their studies, taking apart ideas and words hoping to find new ways to describe the world— they just need  something to help them do it. Things like breadsticks.

The other types of people are readers.

From the naturalistic point of view, all men are equal. There are only two exceptions to this rule of naturalistic equality: geniuses and idiots.

Mikhail Bakunin

And food, with the odd exception is food…

When ‘about’ is the definite article, it can only ever be a partial introduction. And why a simple ‘hello’ should suffice…

I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the use of the word ‘about’, when it’s used to denote precisely what it is about to—

Or at the very least, ought to

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With very few exceptions, I’ll be neither the object of a particular thought or action, nor and woe beide, any feeling which might get the better of me and wind up clipped and airing itself for all to see. It’s use in this context is something I’ve always considered somewhat cold and improper. Nor do I, or at least wiln’t— to a point, consider myself to be the subject of anything published here. For a start, I’m far too dull and again, it feels like a prepostion too far and just, for the lack of a better word: unsatisfactory.

However, since there’s more to showing than telling and since my sensibilities on this matter should reveal more ‘about’ me than my favourite colour or shoe-size— I can’t help but feel a certain imbalance has been addressed. Besides, I’m all about the fun; not the confessional; especially since I’m declaring my reluctance to do something in order to state it and by doing so, it becomes almost impossible to avoid. That and many, many ‘nors’. Like I said, I’m all about the fun.

My character in that case can be found in my quirks, which are pretty evident; my D.N.A. in my tendancy to structure those quirks around em dashes and everything else, word-wrapped around them— quite possibly italised. Now, provided I’ve constructed that last phrase correctly, I think you’ll find Me:

Less about and more:

Metabout.

And that’s about as certain as I can be…

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