Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Northern Line

Maybe it's because I'm a Northerner, but for some reason I've grown quite attached to the Northern Line (Charing Cross branch) recently. The Northbound platform at Embankment is particularly intriguing, but I can't think what it is. It's almost eerily silent with just occasional drifting voices when the train isn't thundering in to the station.

Weird.

It's also started to inspire me, mostly I think because of the juxtaposition of noise and silence.

Whatevs. It's making me write.
Silence
Waiting
Voices sound
Drifting
Wondering
As steel wheels pound
Hair
A flutter
In rushing air
Seeing
Blanks
In eyes that stare

Monday, 5 November 2012

28 Days Later

4 weeks ago I made a decision. A big one. In a small way. I even started to write about it, but as yet haven't published. Maybe I'll finish the writing and make it the long version of this post.

So yes, a decision. And the world changed. Almost immediately. Mostly this is for the better, though there is one annoying fly in my particular brand of ointment that might become an issue. To be fair I expected it, so not the end of the world.

This morning though, another big moment. My words returned. They tried to last week, as I began to write about new beginnings, but they broke as the gossamer thread of a spider is torn by a cement mixer in a hurry. Or something.

It would appear I'm still, rather annoyingly, rhyming naturally. But it was nice to experience the rush of me having a thought about unnatural and stifling silence on the North bound Embankment Northern Line station this morning...
Northern Line

A stifling silence
A thunderous roar
A rushing train
Please mind the doors
A foetid mist
On phones they play
Awaiting that
Another day

It won't win any prizes, but I don't care, I missed my words.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Musing

It's a peculiar sensation. I've been struggling most of the night to understand it, but only now I've realised what the best analogy is. Quite literally like the light inside has been switched off. No emotion. Nothing.

That's different.

Previously when I've put myself back in a box I've been filled with an emotional terror. But not this time. Interesting.

I do have a new frustration though. I'm having issues with data, it keeps vanishing from my phone, I'm presuming it is an issue with the network, at least the local cell. What I do know is that it's been causing huge issues as I've been closing various accounts, drawing a veil.

Just about there though.

Now all I have to do is find a way to switch the light back on, find a new interest, or re-kindle an old one. I really don't know. I do know I need to find something to talk about, something that's nothing about me. I think it's time to create a new facade.

But first I need to do the weekly shop.

The street

Poverty
Mist
A death
On the street
A child skipping gaily
Running
Hopping.
So sweet


The gutters cleansed
Just a man
With his cart
As the milk
Gently warming
At the afternoon start


The doorsteps gleaming
They are every day
From moments dreaming
That poverty
Won't stay


Inspiration: "London Street, 1951" by Robert Frank

Eyes wide shut

I realised earlier tonight, by earlier I mean around 00:35am, that I'm an idiot. An idiot that should just accept that things have died, and that it should be time to move on. If only that were possible. I also realised just how much of an idiot I was for saying some things in the last few days I really shouldn't have said, I should have listened to my my inner voice that said I should keep my mouth shut. Needless to say I won't write here what the things were, or the context.

Which begs the question of why I'm writing this.

It's simple. I want to mark the moment. I want to remember when I decided to just stop. You see I've realised that hope is corrosive when taken in the blinding light of reality. And given what I see with my eyes wide open, it was also false hope. The glowing deceptive heart of a morphing collection of little white lies that give each other away.

I even understand why the lies are made. But would prefer honesty. Honesty might sting, but it doesn't hurt. It doesn't corrode. It saves a lot of trouble. It saves disappointment.

I would like to talk about this. But I won't. It would be one final, pointless, humiliation.

The irony is that we ultimately wanted the same thing, with the same rules and boundaries. Unfortunately, there needs to be mutual interest too.

So what happens now? Well, nothing. No drama, no anything. I simply withdraw and every time I'm tempted otherwise I need to look at these words and remind myself that further humiliation really isn't sensible. A friendship is worth far, far more.

I shall simply accept, exist, place my thoughts in a box.

And keep my eyes wide shut.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Glad to be grey

In 1976 Tom Robinson wrote a song for the London Gay Pride march, it was released in 1978 but I didn't hear it until I was 19, in my sophomore year of University and seeing a girl called Jenny. Complex. Actually I'll not go in to how complex my life was then.

The song was witty, catchy, painful, heart rending and told of the struggle of a section of society that were being suppressed on the basis that they were born that way.

26 years later I have the tune in my head again. This time the words have been twisted, distorted and turned to a new purpose. This time it's about being grey.

I'm trying to find work. Me. I've been working pretty much non-stop since I was 14. All through University I worked, and I don't mean in the bar. That was for social stuff. So not working for, what, six weeks now is as alien as alien can be.

I've had interviews. Four actually. Plus done numerous tests. I want to talk about them. I need to talk about them because the frustration is at boiling point, I've already broken down in tears and I actually found myself calling the nearly-ex because I had to talk to some one.

So the first. With megacorp. Initially I had a telephone interview, for an hour, it was very intense. Twenty minutes later I got the call to ask whether I could go and do a face-to-face. Now I was on the last day with my old client, so not a problem, I said I could and 90 minutes after my initial telephone interview I was in castle-megacorp for a two and a half hour interview. Remember this is unprepared. I've not even been able to change, I am tired, emotional, fired up and on the ball. They had interviewed more than 20 people. When I checked it was down to two. I was one of them...

I didn't get the role. The reason given, which I agreed with, was that they felt my HTML5 wasn't as sharp as it could be, and the other persons was better. But their Javascript was worse. It was a Javascript role. Okay, I will partially accept this. Pity.

Next interview. For a permanent role. Interview time, three hours. I did four tests, I talked a lot, it was seriously intense. I met the CEO and COO. They had seen many people. I was the only one left standing. They decided not to appoint. The reasoning was that as I'd spent the last two years doing freelance and contract work I might not stick around, which I had explained whilst we met. It took a few days to get to this point. I was distraught, but could see their point and, actually, recognised that such an appointment was critical and they had to be sure.

I really am fucking stupid.

Next. Now this splits around number four, so bear with me. First I had the telephone interview (one hour) then was called in for a long interview. Nearly four hours. With three different people. Again, an important position. They have been hunting for the right person for some time. I will admit I was seriously tired, one of the side effects of all this is I am beyond stressed and not sleeping. This on top of the usual nonsense swilling round my head like some foetid cesspit of confusion. One thing I was really aware of was, well, the age of the people interviewing me. The lead in the relevant area had been out of university as long as I've been freelancing in London. Hmm. Not an issue for me, I want to create stuff. The third interviewer made me realise that I was in deep trouble, he asked the innocent question...
"Why would anyone with this much experience want to do a job like this?..."
Oh. Marvellous.

I didn't get the role, they felt I "didn't have the right skills for this role". Hold on to that thought, I'll be coming back to it...

Then we have number three (see what I did there?). Now I liked this, it was a consultancy, it was interesting, I would get to talk with people and write clever stuff. They had seen a lot of people and they said I would hear on Monday. I didn't. I hassled. I didn't. I hassled again and the agent said...

It's down to two people.

And I'm one of them. But there is some inexplicable delay in deciding. Oh. Fucking. Great.

I made platitudes. I hung up. And then I contemplated what I've been doing today. I've been doing formal tests. My average score over the three was 94%. On one I reckon the single answer I got wrong was because they didn't take in to account that a CSS3 supporting version of firefox *only* supports a certain feature in specific versions, I had similar issues with the others, and pointed them out. Stroppy cow? Moi? I should be pleased. The average worldwide is 70%. Not 94% then.

Which goes to prove that I don't have the right skills for a frontend javascript/html5/css3 role.

Oh.

Which I've been doing for multiple clients for the last few years. Plus much more.

At this point, dear reader, I burst in to tears.

Yep, such a girl. Even if I've closed Pandora's box for now I can't just turn my mind in to some automaton. Neither can I remove a large part of 31 years of experience.

So. Here's the problem...
Iz it because I iz northern
Or
Iz it because I iz experienced
Or
Iz it because I iz old

All together now...
Sing if you're glad to be grey
Sing if you're happy that way

Monday, 27 August 2012

Silence

Sometimes the words boil within me and seek their escape, the release in itself bringing release from the blight. The following is a such a release and relief followed...
A rancid void
The very rift
Of twisting reality
As darkened embers
Of searing emptiness
Boil in a cataclysmic
Tumult of tortured
Silence

The distance marked
By the bodies
Of fallen hopes
Whilst withered husks
Of broken dreams
Mark the tortured path
To the foothills of
Silence

As the dark of
False light leaks
And spreads with
Malignant temerity
Absorbing and feeding
On the final notes
Of benign hope, leaving:
Silence

Yet slumber falters
For a single sprout
Of green joy
As it struggles
Awake, raising
Its voice in a deafening
Roar of defiant
Silence

Lights out

I believe, all things considered, it might be time to be silent.

*signs out*

Friday, 24 August 2012

A reprise

As I wrote the last post I suddenly remembered a poem I posted over several months with the help of a friend. I felt it would be nice to air it again...

And yes, the spellings are intentional!
Remind me of
a smile so sweet
joie de vivre
crazy eats

Tell me of
peace to come
a quiet time
beyond the mourn
the darkest hour
before the dawn

Remind me of
A simple glance
Fearless words
A taken chance

Tell me of
the road ahead
Wide before me
Horizon spread
Lighter heart
And quicker step

Remind me of
A place once seen
With unrequited
Forgotten dreams

Tell me of
What I now miss
A look, a smile
A gentle kiss
Let me feel
That it was real

Remind me of
the hand I held
The simplest touch
The way it felt

Tell me that
it won't be long
To love another
Heart and soul
It isn't gone.

Remind me of
Smiles so light
Of the eyes
Pure delight

Tell me that
A friendship true
Can hold me close
Banish blue
Being near
To dry
a tear

Remind me of
the dreams I made
That fuelled me in
the darkest days

Tell me that
these hopes are real
Wishes granted
Don't let me lose
the love I feel.

Remind me of
Smiles so light
Of the eyes
Pure delight

Tell me that
A friendship true
Can hold me close
Banish blue
Being near
To dry
a tear

Remind me of
those endless days
Where laughs were loud
And plans were made

Tell me that
they're around the bend
Biding time, keeping watch
All I have to do
is mend

Remind me where
I long to be
Life's golden sands
By azure sea

Tell me if
I will be there
Baked from the glow
Of love's great glare

Whiskers on kittens...

Okay, so not so much favourite things. But then maybe they are.

I've lots to be thankful for and good things are on the horizon. Firstly, I have two lovely children. Who mostly don't kill each other. Or haven't yet. Which is good. Right?

I'm thankful for my flatmate, who happens to be my best friend. I know I exasperate her. But then she does me. But I also can't imagine living with anyone else as, well, it's really a very good arrangement. I'm also thankful for her clear advice, almost constant joie de vivre and ability to be very silly.

I'm thankful that even given the tightness of things now I seem to have stuff in my diary for several evenings, some via my flatmate, some via my bezzie. Some via, err, me. I did say as we sat on the balcony the other night that not going out wasn't really an issue for me, I am still so happy in Contrary Towers, just sitting quietly on an evening reading or watching the ducks, whatever it is, feels peaceful and calm.

I'm thankful for my friends, who I know I don't get to see enough, especially as I've been hiding away, so I'm really glad I'm getting to see my bezzie next week.

I'm thankful the phone has kept ringing all week. So I still have a zero income issue, but at least I now have an ever filling diary of interviews next week. Which is definitely good. Honestly, that was the worst possible time of year to finish a contract. So I'm hopeful. As I wrote last time I do need the opiate of work to deal with some other things. If nothing else it reduces the number of issues to deal with.

And finally, I'm thankful that I'm managing to keep bouncing out of the sad moments. I'd rather not go there in the first place, but good that I get out quickly.

I still need a snog though.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Please leave a message

There's a scene in Bridget Jones' Diary where she checks her answering machine for the umpteenth time.

You have absolutely no new messages. Not a single one. Not even from your mother.

I'm living that scene. And it's my own fault, the direct result of creating isolation. The real danger is I'm becoming so used to my inner thoughts that I struggle to find conversation. I don't want to poison any I do find.

The paradox is the more I crave contact and conversation, the less possible out seems. Or is that an irony? One to ponder. I've little to offer and mostly if people do get in touch it's because they want something. On their terms. And this makes me feel resentful. So the further back I withdraw.

There is also the compounding realisation of. Hmm. Actually, I won't go there, suffice to say I'm resigned to being alone, I just want it to stop hurting and being on my mind.

I've never looked forward more to work than I do now. I need the opiate it brings, something to fill the void, a reason to go somewhere, a source of anecdotes, a chance to build vacuous relationships to try and fool my mind.

I just hope it's soon.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Writing

I was pondering last night why I write, I've touched on it before when talking with people, not never really considered it in detail. The reason is, of course, down to context. So with the Contrary Towers blog it's very much about sillyness and cataloguing some of the unintended events that seem to populate the lives of my flatmate and I.

For the purely whimsical, creative, view of the world I write (quite bad) poetry. Some of it light hearted, some of it darker than a very dark thing. Moments and feelings I need to express, but don't want to write tedious prose.

And then there's this. Where I do write the tedious prose. It does share something in common with the poetry in that it is an outlet, a release valve. Often, after writing, I do feel better and dwell less on the internal torments and can gain some clarity of thought in what is still an emotional maelstrom for me.

They all though act as a record, different facets of my life vaguely frozen in time, a chance to reflect on what went before.

I've been in conversation recently and the subject of writing came up and, in it, I realised that I've reached the point where maybe I can actually start writing something longer. I still have no idea of form or structure, but it would at least free my mind to journey to places that are no longer possible in my ever closing situation. It's likely that anything I write will be semi-fictional and, probably, semi-autobiographical, drawing on past experiences that I've not talked about and mixing in the hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

For want of a...

Kiss.

Sometimes, like now, the urge, need even, to kiss, and touch, be held, is excruciating. The lack of it almost physically painful.

And yet I push everyone away.

Go figure.

But that also makes sense, because it can't just be empty. Maybe one day.

And if that can't happen can somebody please tell me how to suppress the empty desire.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Non, je ne regrette rien

Without regret. Without remorse.

This is what I should be thinking as I sit watching the sun paint Canary Wharf with a whimsical glow that I'm sure the architects never planned. You see, I know that I ought to be grateful to this, my plan B.

Plan A, of course, was to hold things together, to not watch a (now) 21 year marriage disintegrate in a cloud of indifference and, somehow, at least, get some affection back. Anything. I'm not talking something wild and passionate, this is a marriage that wasn't consummated until six months after the event. But, you know, something where I could at least pretend it was worthwhile. And not just for the children.

But the reality is that it is not to be and, actually, I'm flogging the proverbial dead horse. Or is that metaphorical. Who cares? Ironically though, I can't see any reason to simply walk away, ask for a divorce, and find a new future. Because what I have found in the last couple of years is that the world is full of idiots as well.

I know my poor flatmate gets ever so exasperated as I wail of the lack of intimacy, contact and desperation for a kiss, by which I don't mean a friendly peck on the cheek, but that's part of the same irony, you want it, but only with the right person. And that moment has very much passed.

And I find so many places to find such stark, painful, reminders, of how empty life actually is, the look of lovers, the touching of knees, the hand on a thigh as you talk. Little things. Things you see a lot on train journeys, or in theatres, the cinema. Or indeed anywhere that people gather.

But I know, at least in my case, it can never be, so instead I draw close in to my safety shell and avoid unintended pain.

The thing is, I'm getting used to being alone, and I mean that in a romantic or intimate sense. I'm more likely to actively seek out my solitude as it at least avoids visual reminders of the sensations I can no longer have. And I actively avoid situations that will bring me in to contact with fuckwits. And that has to be a good thing.

But, somehow, that yearning is still there.

Over to you Edith, you say it so well...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Prom 43

A child's view of the world
The scene blocked
The sound unfurled
A tripping note
The Rise and fall
As violins scream
In twists and squalls

People read music
Or eyes so tight
Enthralled, intense
Lost in no sight
The sound rolls on
The magic hall
The view's the sound
Behind people tall

An alternative view

So, I wrote last night, whilst in a state of mounting fury. Probably not the best time to write, but I did need to get it off my chest and, unlike with much of what I write, I also wanted to make it visible, though I didn't publicise that I'd blogged.

Work that one out if you can.

My flatmate asked me this morning whether writing it had made me feel any better. To be quite frank, it hadn't, the anger has been left with a nagging void which I will fill by walking in a while, once I've made some phone calls.

But it's not all bad. There are some shining lights. The lights that send a simple text message that make you smile and cry at the same time. The lights you can never thank enough for just being there. The lights that make the world a nicer place.

Thank you x

Monday, 13 August 2012

It's fine, really

Actually... It's not. I am somewhere west of apocalyptic. I really am very angry. And this is not a good thing because I'm internalising it and pushing people away.

Last night we had a party, which should have been perfect. And in many ways it was. But for three teensy little details. All of which reminded me why men are utter fuckwits and, in a peculiar way, reminded me why it's better to be alone, stand offish and, actually, rude, rather than deal with the things that really aren't worth dealing with.

First off we had the should mention the non-event. Which has really pissed me off. A salient reminder that, actually, I mean little more than occasional entertainment. I'll not go in to details, there is not a great deal to say. But when somebody claims they are desperate to see you in one breath and the only contact is a text saying they are drunk after a barbecue, well, you can see where I'm going with this.

So I got very drunk. Irresponsibly drunk. I even broke a glass. But that doesn't excuse the fact that I had somebody come on very strong and I did bugger all to discourage it right up to the point where he went from dry humping to getting his tackle out. As I stood by his other half with him behind. In this case I am really angry with myself. I was craving attention and ended getting precisely the sort of fuckwittery that I'm sure most would disapprove of. Now, 24 hours later, I can barely forgive myself. But, another salient reminder, of why I should avoid people whilst I'm alone. Which I realise will lead to perpetuating said state.

What makes it worse is that I really like the other half, she was lovely and, frankly, he doesn't deserve her.

Who's next? Oh yes. The king of the fuckwits.

Class act. I really enjoyed this one. I really enjoyed the faux pronoun mixing. The faux proper noun mixing. I enjoyed the incessant, narrow minded, bigoted probing wrapped up in a delicate purse of feigned interest. This was full on transphobic. And what's worse was it was in my home, on our balcony, at our party. I can't even begin to say how wonderful nearly all of my flatmate's friends were, but this one was declaring his true character as clearly as if it had been tattooed on his ignorant, opinionated, arrogant forehead.

The only saving grace was that, firstly, there were others present, including my flatmate and secondly, as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman:
I mean, in my own clothes, when someone like that guy Stuckey comes up to me,

I can handle it; I'm prepared.
But it doesn't make it right. I'm also pissed off that he took things out on my flatmate, not just about me, punched a hole in the corridor wall and, for added entertainment, has spent the day proclaiming that he was so drunk as a means to pre-emptively explain why he was such a fuckwit. So yet again it's likely I will scurry under my rock because of some deluded idiot that thinks he knows best about everything and is prepared to tell you why it's all your fault. Or, indeed, your flatmate's.

I won't have it. Of course I shall, as ever, maintain a veil of civility, but that's still more than he managed to convey with his caring, interested, constant and, actually, unwelcome probing. Things I will talk about with my closest friends but not with somebody I've just met for the first time. I also won't say who he is, or anyone else for that matter, I shall plead Chatham House rules. But you can rest assured that those who need to know are well aware of how I feel and about whom.

So here I am, scuttling for cover. I'm sure I'll emerge again, once the wounds have healed, but yet more venom has been sown and I now am pretty sure I would rather be utterly isolated than deal with the likes of this.

Life is too short.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A week's a long time

They say a week's a long time in politics. Nothing though when compared to Contrary Towers, where an hour is an eternity filled with juxtaposing contrasts and twisting ideas. A week ago I wrote about our escape from London to escape the hype. The result of the exhaustion brought on by constant reports of doom. And Boris on the Tannoy.

But here is the advantage of being contrary. It's okay to change the mind.

On Friday we spent a lot of the morning watching the Olympics, the odd thing at first, we were both working at home, but by the end of the athletics session we were glued. There, said it. On the way to Norfolk to see my children and the nearly-ex I found myself checking the news to see how things were going. Me. Checking sport. Me. Weird.

And here I am on Saturday night. I've shed buckets over Jess Ennis, clutched my hands over Greg Rutherford and squeaking with excitement as Mo Farah did an Ennis and didn't just win, but won with style. During the day I was updating my flatmate by text with the latest news as I bumbled around the house, again, unheard of. I even had my laptop connected to the BBC as I cooked.

I've just had a text from my Irish gentleman friend, he's back from the Olympic Stadium. And, I admit it, I am actually quite jealous, I would have loved to have been there. But then as, until yesterday, I had no interest whatsoever, it was unlikely.

It's not the sport thing. It was the sheer humanity of the competitors, athletes, rowers, cyclists, every one of them. And that they could draw together not just this fucked up country but also this even more fucked up individual is, in itself, nothing short of a miracle.

I salute you all. And, when I return, might just have a Limehouse Half Cut in your honour.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A contrary outlook?

A long time ago I came across a snippet of a piece of poetry by the inimitable T.S. Eliot hidden within the Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B by J.P. Donleavy. I first came across this book by chance in the darker corners of the cloakroom at my University's summer ball.

Don't ask why I was in the cloakroom.

Anyway, years later, when I was rather stupidly getting married, I wanted to use these words, but couldn't find them. In retrospect I realise it might have been my subconscious trying to tell me something.

Ten years later I tried to find them again, nada. Very frustrating. And then, about a year ago, I did stumble across them. But, being the ditzy thing I am, I promptly forgot where. But was overjoyed that I did find them. Where I was when I found them, with my perverse hindsight, makes sense.

Last night the words came up again, owing to a quotation of T.S.Eliot on the score of A Child of Our Time.
'...the darkness declares the glory of light'
I had to hunt the words down as, I felt, they almost matched the joint outlooks of the residents of Contrary Towers.

I hope you like them.

From Little Gidding, the fourth quartet of, err, the Four Quartets by T.S.Eliot
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

No point

The title says it all.

I was struck, very hard, with the realisation that there is no point. And if there is no point, what's the point in trying?

I hate being alone. Craving touch. Craving contact.

I hate not knowing who, or what, I am. It's debilitating. But I'm not wanted in either world so it's impossible to decide which would be the best of the worst. The irony that the one thing I know I do desire is as the pot at the end of the rainbow.

An impossible dream.

And I hate that I've lost hope, and even that the muse of my creativity has gone.

I need to stop chasing rainbows and just accept mere existence.

I need to get a grip.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Most Human Human

I'm really rubbish at this blogging lark. I have a list of over a dozen things that are either in thought stage or are partially written. I'm happy to hold these in stasis though, my thoughts are clear, memories solid, I can come back to them and make sure I get the thoughts in place.

With a lecture though I have to be a little quicker, an hour of ideas being thrown about and I want to get them down.

This evening saw me tripping from Notting Hell to the Royal Institution to hear Brian Christian talk about his experiences of the Turing Test, which in turn was the basis for his book The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive.

Much has been written about the Turing Test, originally known as the Imitation Game, so I won't go dwell on it here. Besides it's late and this ditzy brunette wants to go to sleep. In a nutshell though it's how do you prove you are human.

Which is also a bit like trying to prove you didn't do something.

If you didn't do something there is no evidence, because you didn't do it, so how can you prove something just by a lack of evidence? Now prove you're human. Obviously if you insist on playing music loudly through crap white ear pieces you've already gone a long way to proving you're not.

It's difficult. What is it about us that makes us us? And then, how do we make a machine do the self same thing.

Turing predicted that eventually machines would be able to convince us they were human. But it's not happened yet. To give a bit of an incentive, a chap called Hugh Loebner underwrote a prize, cunningly called the Loebner Prize, that would be awarded to whoever writes a program that convinces people it's human.

It's not been awarded yet.

But each year there is a prize for the most human like machine and, amusingly, the most human human. The one that managed to persuade people they were human. I've been on the Central Line today. Twice. I'm sure there were an awful lot of people there that wouldn't have had a chance.

The funny thing is, there was a time when computers were people. Computers weren't a machine, they were a job description. As you might imagine this was pretty much before 1940ish. The funny example given was the father of Information Theory, Claude Shannon who met Betty, his computer (or numerical analyst), at Bell Labs. They married in 1949. I wonder if he gave her Perls... Sorry.

Computers were so stylish in the 1940's.

Back to Turing. When he was trying to explain what the machine was he essentially said "well, it's kind of like a computer". Now when we think of somebody particularly good at sums or with an astounding memory we say they are like a computer. The literal and the figurative have switched places.

The talk meandered on and touched on the philosophers. Which has a certain glorious aptness as last week I had a delightful talk with a philosopher of science. Aristotle's view of what made us different to other lifeforms was discussed. So, all living things have a nutritive soul, animals also have a sensitive soul but we have the rational soul. Aren't we the clever ones. I do doubt this at times. Anyway, we have the ability to think abstractly and in a pure form so that's what must make us human. Right? Hmm. maybe not. But it was rather convenient that a professional philosopher should say thinking was okay.

Moving on we covered René Descartes. Now René, before he ran a small café in Nouvion, was a philosopher who decided that maybe nothing existed. So he pondered that nothing existed. And if nothing existed did it follow that he didn't exist. His view was that, yes, he did exist because cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am.

Now at this point I will stop. Two reasons.

The first is that I'm going to poke the eyes out of the little hot housed shit sitting behind me that kept kicking my chair, sniffing, talking to his elderly mother and, yes, clever lad, knew what cogito ergo sum meant. Little boy, you are sitting in the Royal Institution, a lot of the members can understand Latin, we don't need your help!

The second was at the end of the talk during the questions. A chap (who I recall also asked a good question during Claudia Hammond's talk in June) pointed out that how could Descartes be sure? He said "I", how did he know he existed and that, actually nothing was there but pure thoughts. I would have pondered this, but I really needed to spend a penny.

Anyway. The concept amused me. Moving on.

Next we covered Moravec's Paradox. This is something that effects all computing, not just artificial intelligence, and it comes down to this, what we think is hard, we find it easy to make computers do. What we find easy to do is really, really, really hard for computers to do.

So a computer can predict a check mate solution solution from a given chess board in 25 moves, but a human can work out that a picture contains a dog. And some grass.

As a further example he used the analogy of a black cab driver. At 2 years old the cabbie could walk, avoid obstacles, mostly, and talk about how they met Elton John at nursery last week. By 17 the cabbie may have moved on to pushing levers, turning the wheel and gesticulating at someone in a bid to avoid Bank when the roadworks are in place. By 21, the earliest you can become a cabbie I believe, they could find the quickest route from Soho to Contrary Towers having done 4 years of The Knowledge.

Interestingly, they can't find Contrary Towers. We've given up now and have to help with the last bit.

Computers though find route mapping really easy. And can find Contrary Towers. Unfortunately they are barely past the point where they can twiddle with levers and turn wheels. And as for avoiding obstacles, well, getting there, but some distance off.

Computers also can't gesticulate. But will give you details of anything to do with Elton John.

Things that are easy for us are hard for computers. Or at least hard for humans to program computers with. Trust me, this is what I do for a living. It's difficult.

Part of the problem is understanding. Both the problem and the context. A computer can be filled with all the knowledge known to humanity. But if it can't understand the question it will come up with some tiddly brained answer.

Like 42.

I'll give my own example. Many years ago I was looking at building a virtual friend system for a large mobile phone manufacturer. I was trying to explain the problem of interpreting the text messages coming in the give reasonable responses, hampered by the use of text speak. Whilst working this out I sat on Quayside in Cambridge and received a text message saying...
RUSTILTHR
Errr. It didn't help that I didn't recognise the number. After an hour I gave up, I couldn't see what russ-til-thu meant (sorry for my feeble attempt to explain how I read it). I sent a text reply.
Who is this and do you speak english? I don't understand!
The sender came back...
It's X, new number, are you still there?
Oh.
R U STIL THR
FFS. Computers, and ditzy brunettes as it transpires, can't cope with this.

Which brought us nicely to another point with regard to electronic communication. And a neat statement:
All communication is suspect
All communication is a Turing test
Connected with these are two concepts
The nature of authentication
The nature of intimacy
An example was given of how a young man managed to "hack" (I despise that word) Sarah Palin's Yahoo account. He went to the password recovery it asked various questions. All of which could be discovered by using Google. A fundamentally flawed approach when dealing with public figures. Regardless of how mad they are.

So how can you be sure, how can you authenticate somebody you can't see? Well we can, and do. When my flatmate pops up online I always know it is her at the other end of the connection, not because of some innate connection formed after many morning cups of tea and shared soup, but because I recognise her style, our way of interacting, it's as distinct as a signature. And as with a signature it's something that is very difficult to replicate, the information can be limited but the nature of the information is dripping with identifying characteristics.

Whether it be the gait, a laugh, their hand-writing, diction or syntax, we know who they are. I know this only too well, a few months back I asked somebody how they found me and she said through my writing style.

Computers can't do this.

And I guess therein lays the simplicity of the concept of humanity. My view is that maybe it does just come down to context and connections. Things that only two people can know and use as a cunning, impossibly complex, cryptographic exchange to say they are who they are.

Taking this further it shows why shared experiences are so important, because through them you don't just enrich your life but also provide, beyond reasonable doubt, that you are not a machine, or an imposter, you actually are...

The most human human.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A lady wot winez

Sometimes you get a day that is, quite simply, almost perfect.

I'd arranged to meet up with a philosopher friend over at Russell Square for coffee and a chat.  Which meant that I really needed to work from home because, well, it's easier to rearrange my day when I do that. I was a little concerned by the weather as it seemed to be controlled by Contrary Towers. Which is never good.

Scrubs up okay.
I had an inkling of the ensuing near perfect day after I put a face on. I actually looked presentable! Hurrah. You can't even begin to imagine what this does for my confidence. The plan was I was going to finish off a load of stuff for my main client and then, hopefully wander over to Russell Square via Holborn, if I got the timing right there was a good chance I would get to have coffee with my lovely flatmate, which is always a bonus.

I actually worked like a little mad thing. Astonishingly it all went quite well, the stuff was done, emailed and I could happily scoot off to an afternoon of sipping and chatting.

And that's just what I did. I even managed to find a 323 to ride on to save the joy of arriving at Mile End hot and bothered. Which would never do. It was a bit warm down there. But the breeze in the tunnels was nice.

Even if it did leave me looking like Medusa on a bad hair day.

I hopped off at Chancery Lane, sauntered out and sighed. I do love the bustle of High Holborn. A quick text to my flatmate to find out what she fancied to drink and in to the coffee shop I went. Trouble is I'm a bit of a ditz and partially misunderstood the message, did she really want iced camomile tea? You would have thought that after living together we wouldn't want to spend any more time in the same room, but it's still a joy and leads to a conversation full of giggles and belly laughs. I had my first diet sin of the day with non-skinny iced latte. I was working on the premise that I'd not had breakfast (bad) so this was my lunch (not much better), so full fat was okay?

Yes?

Oh. Before we knew it time was up, my flatmate wandered off to her lair as I sauntered up Southampton Row towards Russell Square. What a beautiful day. Even the flowers in the square were looking devilishly attractive.

Of course. There was one teensy fly in the ointment. I was wearing new, flat, shoes. And they were starting to rub. I'd even taken the precaution of wearing tights, but to no avail. It wasn't as bad as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre I had back in April, but still, I was concerned.

I sat quietly, enjoying the rare chance to sit in the sunshine and read. Currently I'm on After London by Richard Jefferies, and it seemed quite apt to enjoy his descriptive writing as I sat listening the gentle rustle of the leaves. Of course instead I was distracted by first the squirrels and then a little bit of people watching. I never did get the coffee in Russell Square.

But I'm not complaining.

You know when you meet somebody and you are overawed by a stream of brilliance. It was fabulous, it was a joy to listen to my philosophers ideas, theories and the frustrations of dealing with academia. I was developing just a teensy sapiocrush, it was very exciting. I mean, how can you not get excited about discussing an alternative quantum theory and why we should look more closely at deterministic versus probabilistic views.

Of course the feeling might have just been the sun on my bare shoulders. That does that too.

Talking of which... I really am a silly cow. Why didn't I have the factor 30 on my shoulders? Hmm? I now have two lovely pink areas with white strap marks. Genius. I think not.

We covered so much, science, books, a little of the arts, elements of history, more science and the difficulty of being an academic. The interesting thing though was the time. He arrived at around 3pm, and I was answering voice mails at about 4:30pm, yet, it seemed that time had gone on forever, hours and hours had slowly drifted by. It was proof, if I needed it, of my perception of time being altered by the creation of these new and fabulous memories. I can't wait to meet and talk with him again. Though I know it won't be until much later in July.

During our conversation I had a text from the inimitable @obotheclown asking whether I was still in Bloomsbury and, if so, did I fancy a coffee at around 5:30. Duh. So I meandered off to the British Museum to kill a little time. I didn't actually make it in, it was such a delightful afternoon I instead sat on the wall on Great Russell Street watching the tourists pop in and out of phone boxes. They are quite mad.

All would have been simple if, in the meantime I didn't see a call from the lovely @PrincessofVP in search of somebody to have a sip of medicinal wine with. Perfect! A quick phone call later and a venue was set. Which meant coffee was off, I would have to force  the clown in to a pub.

Astonishingly though, he wasn't drinking owing to heading towards a private viewing, so after our quick walk in to Covent Garden it was orange juice and lemonade, or some such witchcraft, for him and a bottle of Malbec for the cackle crew. This will end well. It almost always does when I have just the one drink with my bezzie...

And cackle we did, plus very grateful to the nice clown for providing us with winez. Oh, and also thanks to my flatmate for texting what became the title of this post. I must admit if I'd known he wasn't stopping I wouldn't have let him get a bottle, so, I guess the next round is mine! We chatted for a good while, caught up with each others news since I last saw her on, err, Tuesday, and turned our cognitive powers to the other thing that's usually on our mind. Food.

The plan was to go the the excellent cheese board at the Globe on Bow Street. I really like this pub and the last time we ate there, a few months back, had left a good memory. So off we trotted, we left the pub, I turned left and she went right.

Uh oh.

Err, sweetie? That minor faux pas over, and a little giggling, we headed off to the next pub. But didn't get there, instead, we found ourselves sucked in to the pavement seats of Wildwood on Bow street. Eh? What. I didn't realise there was a restaurant here! I was really quite confused. But, it turns out, they only opened at the end of May. That's alright then.

This was beginning to turn in to a Contrary Towers style evening. Distractions, deviation from any plan, unexpected delights. How good is this.

Or we good were we? It was brilliant sitting on the pavement seats watching the world go by. I felt like a bit of a tourist, but heh, it was a lovely evening and my pink shoulders weren't quite pink enough yet.

We drank more winez.

And ate. Quite a lot actually. But it was the laughing that was best. And being quite shockingly bitchy. But that was mostly me. I will say the service was a bit slow. And the menu had no cheese board. So we finally made it to the pub. Next door.

Where we ordered more winez. And the cheeseboard.

It was lovely sitting in the window, again watching the world go by, chatting more, giggling more. And sending silly tweets. The evening seemed to go on forever, but in a glorious way. The sort of perfect evening you don't want to stop. But we had to. We couldn't order more winez, though we were tempted, it was getting late! Right?

Wrong.

Who knew, it was only 9:50 when we rolled in to Mile End, eh? Oh yes, those new memories. It's magical stuff this perception of time thing. It was time to, sadly, separate, and head to our respective lairs. In a wobbly fashion.

My flatmate was awake when I got in having walked winsomely down Bow Common Lane, so we chatted, I told her lots of things that I would then repeat the next morning because I was too sozzled to remember I'd said them. And I painted her nails (we currently match!).

It was odd to have a contrary evening without her, but she did look better for the chilling, even through my red wine soaked eyes. I've said it before, I'll say it again, everybody should have a contrary day, once in a while.

They are very special.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hello again

I actually presented last night, appeared from the darkened corners of my mind and put a face on.

There's quite a preamble to this, which I'll not go in to, but for the first time in a long time I actually needed to see me for my sake. Not because I was going out, or meeting somebody, or in search of adventure. I just needed reassurance I was still there. An emotional crutch.

Stupid, huh?

When you spend much of your life seeing a stranger, a façade, if you glance a reflection, to suddenly see yourself after nearly two months, is distinctly weird. I know the physical doesn't matter and that who we are never changes, and is all that really matters, but it is a peculiar feeling to have the two in, relative harmony. And, actually, to feel relatively comfortable.

Anyway. This is a good thing, if I am to step in to the light I've got to be at least slightly sure I won't scare small dogs. And traffic wardens.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Stuff happens

© TsukiMizu
It's been a funny time recently. And time has flown, which isn't exactly a surprise now that I realise time flies when you're doing the mundane and not adding new memories. I went in to something of a semi-hiatus, sometimes visible, sometimes very much under a rock. The visibility would come and go according to the sheer volume of issues that were being flung at me.

And goodness there was been some stuff.

Last Thursday I went to see my flatmate performing with her choir, one of the highlights of the year and, the moment when all her hard work and practice comes to fruition. Whilst I don't sing, except to scare cats, the choir is also a big part of my life as Wednesday evenings are worked around the sacrosanct practice. It's important. I was looking forward to it. And... I was in a state. It had been something of a crunch day, a number of things happened, I won't list them, but the big practical one was that it was confirmed that my contract would not be renewed post the 22nd of July. This wasn't a surprise. The project was part of the large-sporting-event-in-East-London-that-shall-not-be-named and as I had completed everything some six weeks earlier than planned (including the extras), it was time to go.

Which is good, as I really don't like Notting Hill.

So there it was, another, more pressing issue. I lost myself in the music in the first half. The EC4 rendition of Zadok was quite epic, the sensations created by the opening words were as close as you can get to orgasm without the sweatiness. Not that I can really remember you understand. Anyway. Epic. But as the music drifted away and the interval started my heart rate went through the roof. I'd been sitting for 45 minutes and yet had a rate of 128. Ouch. I needed to focus. So I listed all the major issues. It came to twelve.

Hmm.

I went straight home after the concert. Which I felt very bad about, but was also for the best on a number of levels. Which I won't list. I was being stupid, emotional and deeply stressy. I really needed to sort myself out, not just for me, but because I didn't want anything to upset our relatively happy home. Contrary Towers really is my oasis of calm, one of the few places I feel incredibly, genuinely happy, nothing can be allowed to upset that. I didn't sleep much that night as I the issues circled in ever tighter spirals

In the morning, I got a hug. And we talked. My lovely flatmate confirmed in seconds what it had taken me all night to work out, I needed to focus on the things I could actually do something about. And then, even simpler, I needed to focus on what mattered the most. And this was work. Yes I know many of the other things mattered, but, actually, everything else can be dealt with once the income thing is solved.

I am incredibly lucky to have such a sensible, straight talking, friend.

With that in my head I could then think of the next problem. I've become a little, or lottle, reclusive. Introspection is a nasty thing, it can be all consuming and not at all productive. I'd already loosely agreed to doing things this week and decided that unless I was seriously stressing I'd do them. I needed to break the cycle of hiding.

Friday evening we went to see Evelyn Glennie performing at Wigmore Hall. Which was amazing. And to think I had decided the evening before that I would give up my ticket and head to Norfolk. I'd, needless to say, changed my mind after I thought about it and realised that this was about the most pointless and destructive thing I could do. I'm so glad I went.

It did mean that the trip to Norfolk was even shorter than usual, which, given the circumstances, was not a bad thing. During the weekend I got thinking about the words of Shakespeare in Henry V...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

How apt. And, in a weird way, how I felt. I wanted to face things head on. Not necessarily with rage, duh, but it was time to reclaim me from the mire.

Monday. I'd arranged to join my bezzie for the pub quiz. We used to go regularly, but this had fallen off as I was finding it increasingly difficult to socialise without fear of bringing my feelings meh to the fore. And I have missed her terribly, also there were two other dear friends. Which was a fabulous bonus! There were maudlin moments and, at times, a flashback to when a year earlier three of us had sat together in the same place on a far darker evening. I did slightly break the diet, but what the hell. It was a truly lovely evening and if I could hug all three of my friends again now to thank them, I would. Fact.

Tuesday. I was out again. This time to visit a dear friend in Surrey. I was a little more concerned about this as it was time to come clean and tell her about me. I'd held off telling her before for various reasons and, actually, I wanted to talk face-to-face. I needn't have worried. She was as lovely as she always is and I felt I could kick myself for my stupidity at being so nervous about explaining all. Plus she cooked a lovely meal! We talked for hours and it was all too soon before I had to head to the station and back to Contrary Towers. The next morning I received an email from my friend. I cried a little. On the underground. But it was for the right reasons because what she said was just lovely.

It was a fabulous way to start the day.

Wednesday. I was supposed to be going to the Royal Institute for a talk, but as we'd arranged to see Dr Dee at the ENO on Thursday (my flatmate had seen it on Monday), I felt I needed one night at home. Plus it meant I could cook as I had a feeling that after practicing Verdi's Requiem my flatmate would be somewhere past exhausted. It's a piece I know well, and just thinking about it exhausts me. I listened to the Sir Colin Davis/LSO/LSC version of Requiem I have as I cooked. I know that recorded music is no match for live, but still a good version. When she came in she looked utterly exhausted. So it was food, the briefest of chats and then I chased her off to bed.

Notting Hill. Pfft.
Thursday. By now I'm starting to get a little twitchy in the client's dungeon. I know they are paying me to be there just in case, but jeez it's dull. It has though given me time to think about what I want to do next. And I'm working on that. Fortunately I wasn't in total isolation as, in common with most days, I could be silly on messenger with my flatmate. So I spent much of the day sorting out an account creation system for a different client. At dead on 6pm I skipped out of the office in to... Blazing sunshine. WTAF? It reminded me of Fuerteventura, windy but really warm. Meanwhile in the rest of the country there was floods, hailstones and general meh. Britain really does have mental weather.

As we sat in the Dress Circle waiting area of the the ENO, drinking fizz, we talked. I said I'd decided I'd had enough of being in hiding, or words to that effect. I had not meant to take the hiatus, it was simply a result of too many things happening that were too difficult to resolve in my own head. It was time to begin living again. As Shakespeare wrote, once more unto the breach. My lovely flatmate was far more succinct, she simply said...

Good.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Losing the Plot: a review


Life is full of happy little examples of the butterfly effect. Not all involve Fuji-san and hurricanes. Some bring true, undiluted joy. It's happened before in a singularly life changing way, both recently and many, many years ago. Actually, now there's a subject for a blog post, thought it is rather part of my old life. Hmm, I'll think about that.

Anyway, as I was saying. Little happenings, big results. Now this is where I have to admit to one of my spoof accounts, I operate the @LimehouseCut account, the idea being to talk about life around Limehouse Cut from the canal's point of view. So the other week the canal was a little grubby, human detritus, something dead floating in the water, generally a bit meh. I wondered who was responsible for the Cut, more to the point, were they on Twitter?

They were! So a quick plaintive plea was put out to British Waterways, please send the little cleaning boat... Whether or not they ever did I have no idea, I did ask the Cut, but being the strong, silent and discreet type it refused to answer. But what I did find was that the Cut had a new follower, @mikrontheatre.

Oh. What's this?

It transpired it's a touring theatre company that uses the canal network as its modus operandi, how fabulous, a small band of wandering Thespians. In a boat. What could be better?! I read their blurb:
“Mikron is the little touring theatre company with the reputation for tackling large scale subjects and turning history into vivid and dramatic entertainment. 
We tour on our narrowboat, Tyseley, in the summer and by road in the autumn, to every conceivable type of venue, reaching audiences that other companies cannot.”
Oh! And they were coming to the LondonCanal Museum a few days later. Rather annoyingly they were putting on two different shows on two different nights, one of which I couldn't attend as I would be attending a concert featuring my flatmate. And she would never forgive me. I booked a pair of tickets for the Wednesday to see Losing the Plot. How could I not, the title at least matched my current state of mind.

Originally I'd hoped to be able to take my lovely bezzie along for the evening, but she was unsure whether she would still be working at that point. Hmm. So I put out a who wants to come message on Twitter...

Tumbleweed

Honestly. Free ticket. I know it would mean having to speak with me at some point, but I'm not that scary. Am I? Oh well. Later in the day though, my theatre buddy @These_Boots popped up, oooh. I could have kicked myself, why hadn't I thought of her before? Well, I had, briefly, but thought it might be impossible as she was no longer working in London. Duh. I'm not very bright at times. Funnily enough, my flatmate asked me exactly the same thing when I said there was a chance she would be able to attend.

Yes, I really am thick at times. And she knows it.

Anyway, I couldn't have asked for a better companion and, being the sort of lovely person she is, she insisted on paying for her ticket, though it wasn't required. So, fast forwarding a bit. The big night. The show, fortunately, had a latish start, handy as my friend was attending an event where she felt it was bad form to leave the High Sheriff in the lurch and pop off to see a band of wandering Thespians.

Tssk. Priorities darling.

The good news was that the Canal Museum is a seven minute full tilt walk from Kings Cross. And the train was on time. And we didn't get stuck in crowds of aimless tourists. Quite a win really.

The Canal Museum is a fabulous little place, I keep meaning to visit properly, one for a future weekend I think. I was very aware of it as it's sort of opposite Kings Place, a regular haunt of my flatmate and I. And canals are something I've become increasingly interested in, I imagine as a direct result of living by a canal. That and being a bit of a history junkie.

The audience was a reasonable size, though I didn't do a headcount, or even a chair count for that matter. There wasn't a stage as such, more a centrepiece prop that gave the impression of an aged shed door on an allotment. Oh yes, which reminds me, the synopsis...

Set in Thistledale, the allotmenteers were a happy bunch about to celebrate the diamond jubilee of their formation, along with their annual “Heaviest and Longest” competition, when their world was rocked by the mysterious Harvey from the council...

I won't go in to the detail of what happens in the play. Why? Well, I believe if you love theatre, or just want a really good laugh you should go and see it. It was one of the most entertaining pieces of theatre I've seen in a long time. It mixed elements of music hall, with comedy, a little sexual innuendo, kazoos and a serious, beautifully presented, point.

The final solution to their world being rocked was found, and the deliciousness of the idea presented was a loophole with sparkly diamonds wrapped in a twist of anti-bureaucratic irony. It was beautifully done, and perfectly presented.

There was a taste of humour, history, political indifference, David and the Goliath, jealousy, love. And marrows. Obvs.

The songs were superb, particularly the “Ballad of the Allotmenteers” a ripping ride of social history from the Saxons to present day. For emotions and an impression of the sadness of a lonely heart you couldn't better “Cabbages and Peas” sung by Maud. Oh, and Harvey Granelli's “The Italian Connection”. Oh gawd, I'm going to list them all at this rate.

The highlight though? The audience being encouraged to sing-a-long with the Marrow Song!

Now here's the thing, when I think of performances I rate them by whether or not I could suspend my disbelief. I did so recently during part of a recent performance of Salome, similarly seeing La Traviata at St Marks Church in Florence (must write about that). That moment when you find your mind is telling you you're not sitting in a museum near Kings Cross, but are actually in a small allotment. In t'north.

And I got this in spades (sorry). The transformation of Ruth to Brenda, or Maud to April the bee keeper were sublime, but Colin (ex drummer, maybe a bit too wild in his youth) to Harvey (swarthy, shiny suit and, mama mia, strutting) was astounding. The fact that as they changed characters they left the old character as a broomstick was ignored. They were all, totally, utterly, real.

It was fantastic.

I have to apologise to the rest of the audience that night, my friend and I laughed, a lot, I have not been so entertained in such a complete way in such a long time. I can't even begin to tell you how much you should see this play if you can, it has something for everyone and it's put in with such simple perfection that you will come away...

Spoiled.

Yes. It was one of those. In the same way that seeing La Traviata in Florence ruined opera for me as I had seen it in its purest, distilled, essence and big productions now feel false by comparison, this play had achieved the same. And then some. It might be a while before I can see a normal production without feeling slightly ripped off by the bloated extravagance.

I did have a similar experience last year when I saw Into Thy Hands at Wilton's Music Hall, but where that moved me with the sheer intensity of the emotions, Losing the Plot left me feeling nothing but elated.

You can't ask for more than that.

So, if you want to see theatre at its purest and best, get thee to the Mikron website and see if they are performing near you. You won't regret it.

Trust me, a canal told me.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

It could be worse.

As I sat this morning on the Hammersmith & City line, feeling slightly disgruntled with the world, I had a wake up call. The man sitting next to me was blind.

I didn't realise at first, why would I? Just another miserable passenger hiding in the dark of their mind. As we approached Kings Cross he pulled out his Crackberry and listened to a message using text-to-speech. The penny didn't drop. It wasn't until he got out his foldaway white stick that I made the connection.

Oh.

It's a salient reminder. However awful things are, it really could be worse.

Try being grateful for what you have.

Monday, 18 June 2012

D-d-d-d-diet

I can't even bring myself to say the word.

We started last night. The formal. Official. Serious... Diet.

Meh. And we will be blogging about it. Or I will, I don't think my flatmate will live that long. She will pass out from malnutrition and exhaustion.

You will find the dedicated blog at the shiny new Contrary Towers blog :-)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Unrequited

So. I watched a film last night, The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Taking time to sit and watch anything is a rare luxury, which I then paid for by working until nearly 2am, but it was spontaneous, impromptu and a nice diversion.

Or would have been.

The trouble is, that whilst the film is very funny, it is, nevertheless, a romantic comedy. Bugger. That was smart. All was well until the point when they kissed and the whole game changed. Been there, done that and... Missing it insanely. I can't even begin to say how much I miss kissing. Or being curled up with someone talking, watching something, reading or just enjoying the feel of warmth and the gentle rhythm of another's heartbeat and breath.

Making it worse was that I was watching with the nearly-ex. We'd stumbled in to some kind of silent truce and it was holding, which is good. But I was in a dangerous place because if they'd made even the slightest hint that perhaps some affection was in the offing then I would have swallowed all my pride and accepted. But it wasn't. Which hurts all the more.

But it was inevitable, I suppose, I get the same sense of loss when I catch sight of someone in the throes of a joyful embrace. As Lily Allen sang in Littlest Things

Sometimes I find myself sittin' back and reminiscing
Especially when I have to watch other people kissin'

Yep. That.

Thinking about it though, it would have been beyond wrong. Seeking something for the sake of something is never going to turn out well, I learnt that only too well last year. It has to be real.

So I'm trying to fill my mind with other things, the feelings are flowing around in torrents now, which is tricky as there is nowhere for them to go, and incredibly frustrating feeling on so many levels. I think this is how I sat there until 2am writing some insanely complex code because, well, it was better than the alternative of thought and memories.

And nothingness of being lonely.

Yearning

Anticipation...
Wanting
Needing
Yearning

For the touch of breath
The scent of skin
The ripple of warmth
The drawing in

Hearing
The joy of a sigh
The mingling of lips
The rise of a moment
The rush
Of infinite din

Touching
Feeling soft warmth
A touch
A tension
That fluid pause

Yearning
Needing
Wanting
Anticipation...

Friday, 15 June 2012

How?

How do you do it?
How to move on?
With no one to sing to
No need for a song

How do you search
For the one that is true?
When the one that you want
Is still haunting you.

How can you find
A simple peace
A calm retreat
With sweet release

How to keep trying
In the face of a wall
As each ringing silence
Makes hope tightly furled

How do you know
When there is no more
To accept this reality
To close the last door

How do you know?

Distractions and the alchemy of time

If you know anything about the residents of Contrary Towers you'll know we like distractions. Show us a shiny thing and we'll be off like a shot. Actually, don't show us a shiny thing and we'll go looking for shiny things.

We do have quotas you know.

And alchemy. We like that too. I know my flatmate is by far the expert on the subject, but we have alchemy here every day in food, ideas and conversations so why not have an alchemy of time? It turns out we do, but more on that in a bit.

And then there are connections. We utterly love connections, those seemly serendipitous events that make you go hmm, they are all over and bring exciting new threads of discovery as we stumble on them, as my flatmate recently reflected on in her blog.

This week I've been working on compiling an anthology of my rather awful poetry. The reason why was simple, I wanted to be able to read them on my Kindle and I wanted to revisit some dark places. I write from the heart and much of what I write is probably unintelligible without the context, and I'm hardly going to share that.

What struck me profoundly was my perception of the time. The advantage of using a pooter to record my poems was I had a record of exactly when I wrote the poetry down, not necessarily when I created it as I often wrote it longhand or on my phone first, but, close and I tended to set the posting times to match.

The actual time-scale was tiny. Yet the effect that events then were having on my life was both devastating and profound. It's an effect we've all seen, an apparent distortion of the passage of time. As I compiled I came across one poem that summed distortion of time perfectly, there were others, but this one is the almost definitive...

Eyes lock.
Breath felt.
The quickened heart.
A flush
so hard to miss.
Time stands still
as the bubble grows
to shelter
love’s first kiss.

Which brings us back to the connections. As I was pondering this, an email turned up from the Royal Institution promoting, amongst other things, a talk by Claudia Hammond on the subject of time perception. Oooh! Sadly my flatmate couldn't be there as she's busy debauching Belfast so it's up to me to talk about it. Not good as she is obviously the brains of the bunch.

There is one final connection, of course, it being the RI, it meant that once more I would be in the self same lecture theatre were we heard James Burke talking about connections last November. That's apt. With candles. And little sparkly bits that light up the word apt.

As an opener, Claudia talked about Alan Johnson, a BBC reporter that was kidnapped in 2007 for 4 months. The initial task was to see if we could remember when this was. Trouble is at the time (I checked when I got back to Contrary Towers) of the kidnap in March 2007 I was coming out of having my hormone system switched off and having daily injections to reboot me, for want of a better phrase, I can remember almost nothing of the period. Which I know is a dreadful thing to say, but I am glad it turned out okay for Alan.

Before we got to the date, Claudia talked about the times when time slows down. Many of us have had those moments when something dreadful happens and time literally seems to slow down, I've had it on a motorcycle as I headed straight towards a car that decided to swing back on a road, my friend obotheclown had something similar when, I believe, he was out in the clown mobile. My first true experience of time slowing down was when I was 11 and trapped in an upturned yacht in an air pocket. I was there perhaps ten minutes, it felt like an eternity.

And this was her first point. At times of extreme stress we observe the effect. The idea, as she explained, was that at these times we build memories. Lots of memories. And this makes perfect sense. When the mundane is taken away and replaced with the extraordinary you will absorb every detail. But, as she explained, it's not just about the real level of danger or stress. The danger could, simply, be perceived.

The example, again, was Mr Johnston.

During his captivity he was allowed a wireless and on this he could listen to the BBC World Service. Unfortunately he heard news of his execution. Oh. And you get annoyed when somebody tells you who won Britain's got X come dancing?! Time slowed down again. With no information as to whether this was the PR blooper of millennium by the kidnappers or simply a mistake by the press all he could presume was that we was about to die.

I imagine that focuses the mind.

The thing that struck me at this point, and thinking of my own experiences of time distortion, was that it's all about context. Claudia went on to give an alternative context, that of being ill, specifically of having a high temperature. I'm rarely ill, but I do recall a couple of incidents when I must have been as (a) I didn't eat and (b) I was disconnected from my pooter. In both of these I recall time dragging and, thinking about it, I was rather running a temperature. It has to be said, Claudia is a very amusing speaker, the description she gave of the discovery of a connection between a high temperature and a slowing down of time perception raised many a laugh.

The person that made the initial connection was a psychologist. His wife was ill and every time he left the room briefly she complained, on his return, how long he'd been away. So, like any good psychologist, he decided to experiment on his wife ;-) He got her to estimate the passage of time, against his watch, when she was at different temperatures. In total he did this 30 times and recorded the results. These were clear, the perception of time did slow down and, subsequently, this has been confirmed by others.

So fear and temperature. I can get that. But...

Something still didn't add up. What about the kiss? Neither stressful not temperature raising (well, maybe a bit). Claudia moved on to that. A group of people were brought together. They were given time to network (ooh, another connection, must answer an email when I've finished) and then asked to choose who they would like to work with for the next task.

Except it was a fix.

Half of the people were taken, one by one, and it was explained that nobody liked them so they would have to do the task by themselves.

The other half were taken, one by one, and it was explained that they were so astonishingly popular that everyone wanted to work with them, so, would they mind awfully working alone.

So we now have half in the lonely-zone whilst the others were popular-but-working-alone. Sounds about right. You might not be surprised to learn that time slowed down for time lonely. Who would have thought it, emotion pays a part.

And this, suddenly, gives an explanation for my own experience of time standing still during the first kiss. As I think back, and goodness I do often, I can remember every single detail. And then some. The details built, grew. Formed alliances and grew a bit more. It was a profound, deeply emotional, very intense experience and built more memories in seconds than I'd done in several weeks. It's not at all surprising it felt that time stood still with hours passing in what may have been seconds.

I have no idea.

We moved from this on to the hows. How could it be that we can measure time if, as a result of much work there was no single, identifiable clock that allowed us to have a comprehension of time. Bud Craig put forward one suggestion that we count up emotional moments and, almost by definition, we get more with fear. And kissing. Obvs. On one level I like this concept. But still prefer the idea that it slows because we are stuffing the memories in.

We moved on another question. If you were expecting a meeting on Wednesday and the meeting is moved two days forwards, which day is the meeting on? There are two possible answers. I have to say I wasn't wholly convinced with the argument here, it came down to being do you move through time or does time move through you. I have a horrible feeling this was almost a red herring as it was more of a linguistic issue. The issue of precision I've ranted about in the past. Though I will refrain from saying what Claudia said until I've had a chance to ask a few people about which day the meeting should be.

Next.

Telescoping. Now being middle aged, though I will point out I am still on the lower age bracket a the RI! I knew there was a reason why I maintained my membership there, the only place on the planet where at 45 I'm not in the fifty-something bracket. I iz thirty something. Perception.

Obviously borked.

Where was I? Oh yes. Telescoping. And this was where Mr Johnston came back in to the room. As it were. Apparently we can remember, what I'll call, world events up to about three years ago. Anything beyond that and we start getting the dates wrong. Because of the emotion of the events we think they were more recent. Why? Memories, more to the point, more memories made.

Brilliant! Err, hold on, but what about my extremely distorted view of events last year?

It turns out that whilst three years is the magic time for world events, on a personal level it's... two months. Oh. So less time than we've been in Contrary Towers. Suddenly my confusion over dates was making sense. My perception was, quite rightly, wrong and, in a perverse way, was normal. I'm normal!

No giggling at the back please.

Next we have another glorious phrase, the holiday paradox. This is essentially stuff happens, we get to the end and it seems like it was much longer than we expected. Huh? The answer, if all the above is right, is simple.

Memories.

We make them. Normally, in a week, we might remember 6-9 things (I will resist the urge to remove the dash) but on holiday we might remember 6-9 things in a day (still resisting, but much more tricky). In short, holidays last longer because we have more new memories. And the new bit is the key.

New memories. Shiny. Sound familiar?

On the subject of sounding familiar... Predicting time. I live in a world where a millisecond is an eternity but three months is never enough. I am shockingly bad at predicting my time. But, it transpires, I'm normal! Again! Who knew?! I can predict others, but mine? Honestly, I was supposed to be cleaning Contrary Towers, which will be why at 0040 I'm still writing. Just don't tell my flatmate. Our little secret. And in that lays the reason, our perception of how long it will take to do something might be a teensy bit idealised with no allowance for issues or distractions, yet when you look at how long somebody else would take to do something we suddenly become extremely realistic and an awful lot more accurate.

I was singularly pleased by this. The best advice given to the question of how to deal with time the issue of time management was... Do less. Or at least agree to less.

Anyway.

In summary, time might be (effectively) constant, but our perception of time is very much based on the context. I'm only too aware of this on a Contrary Towers day of distractions when we seem to squeeze in an impossible amount of stuff. But, as it turns out, all we do is have new stuff, which makes new memories and, hence, makes it feel we fitted more in.

I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, but it is still quite profound to have it said so explicitly. I have to say I enjoyed the talk very much, I also expect I will enjoy the book Time Warped, though I will point out it's cheaper to get off Amazon, just without the signature, obvs. More importantly I went away with a number of concepts that make sense to me, the distortion of my perception of time has become more understandable.

So the secret to achieve the alchemy of time is: Do interesting new stuff and build new memories. I'm sure Clare, my flatmate, will like that one.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

People watching

I like people watching.

Really, really, really like it.

Trying to work out people's stories, or the relationships. Wondering what a phone call is really about. I truly am a nosy bag. Some months back I was meeting someone in the Hampshire Hotel for champagne and conversation, but was constantly distracted by wondering what was going on elsewhere in the bar.

Quite bad.

I'm just very curious about people. And will happily place myself somewhere so that I can do just that. It's harmless. It's interesting. And it reminds me that people do have conversations. I am saddened though that increasingly it's more about watching people sat in a group of 2 or more, all hunched over their telephones sending messages.

Even then you can get a fairly good idea of what the interaction is, or, at least, one side of it. The way a face lights up when a message is from a lover, a barely contained laugh, sadness, or anger, frustration, relief and even... Indifference. They are all there, written all over the reader's face.

And there's the funny thing. It occurred to me that, actually, maybe we are seeing more of the emotions when seeing somebody so utterly engrossed in their latest message. Perhaps, with training, social intercourse becomes to precise, controlled, and people are able to attenuate the hidden messages they are giving off.

One to ponder.

In the meantime, a stream of words that came as I wandered through Portobello Road market earlier in search of peppers for dinner. And watching people. Obvs.

Walking
Watching
People abound
Their tiny touches
Their holding of hands
A look in their eye
As a promise is made
A cooling, a sadness
As love goes in shade
Hidden conversations
Serious or mad
A touch on the arm
A look made them glad
The tactics and efforts
The hopeful have tried
All are seen clearly
By the one that’s outside

Creativity

Only one survived until lunchtime.
Sometimes the muse strikes.

In my case my muse was too busy scoffing her face with pie, so not really striking. But there was something in the air, something that actually made the words gel and form in my mind instead of flailing around seeking a home. I've written quite a lot recently, much of which has given a glimpse of the pains I'm going through in the world real world, but proper, creative, words have been trapped in the darkness.

But I am, through disconnecting and recreating myself, finding calm and an acceptance that, well, this is the way it is. And I think this is what woke the inner muse up. Surprisingly, the words appeared on the Central Line.

Less surprisingly, they started with a smile...

A smile
A glance
Those ebony eyes
Warmth exchanged
Through human ties
Making a moment
Joy professed
So little needed
So much with less

That felt better. One of those brief visual exchanges that suddenly makes the underground a nicer place, yes, even the Central Line. A little further on I sat, next to the smiler as it happens, but as I am (a) a wuss and (b) see (a), there was no further exchange. But I did write again.

This time about the swifts that were out in force last night. They were quite stunning to see as they swooped and dove for flies, the impression I got was of the air being almost solid, they barely flapped a wing, rather they looked as if they were riding rails. But in this aerobatic dance I realised something, it was literally about life and death, these astonishing flying machines were doing little more than hunting and killing for food.


Flitting
Swooping
Invisible ground
The Swift
Fly shooting
Darts around
Taking each moment
Feeling each breath
As Gaia expresses
Both life and death

And finally, well, not finally, but finally for now, I reflected on standing looking down on the Limehouse Cut this morning, enjoying the surprising sight of the sun blinding me. I did see, for the first time, a couple of the boats being used for the 2012 games canal service. It'll be nice to see the canal being used regularly as they shuttle from Limehouse, via the Olympic Park, to Tottenham and back again.

Sun glint
Atoning
With blinding light
Detritus
Bemoaning
A wasteful sight
Watching
In silence
And glowing glee
That body of water
Divorced
From the sea

Monday, 11 June 2012

Ravelment


A ravelment of feelings
Divulsed from the heart
Levigated now
Hope, torn apart 
A fine gentle powder
All that is left
A dusting of memory
In an empty chest 
Seeking a new shell
So impossibly hard
Raising the barriers
Of the latest facade 
Just a realisation
That came to me
In the simplest situation
Of an early cup of tea

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The cold light

In the cold light of day
I read through sore eyes
Remembering moments
Of bitter-sweet lies
Remembering torments
That pushed to the edge
Of that towering precipice
With a crumbling ledge
With each passing hour
Each thing that I learn
A passing of want
The death of a yearn

Moving on

It's funny what you remember.

A little less than a year ago I wrote a poem, a lament. A reflection of the signposts that pointed to childhood memories and a place I felt safe. I wrote it at 6:29am on a Sunday morning. I imagine I would have written it in a single sweep of thought, I often do, but revisiting it I see the signs, a simple message, clear, concise. A note and reminder to an older me of where I was. And it wasn't a nice place. Little did I realise the day was about to get an awful lot worse.
Two glorious piers,
guard my sweet Tyne.
Stretch far from sand’s shore,
embrace memories of mine.
Forever shows home,
my haven
no more.
I didn't write again until the next day. I published at 8:09am, but I know that was only because that's when I next received a signal. I was on the 7:59 and merrily heading back to London with tears streaming down my cheeks in the quiet confines of First Class. One word in that sentence was a lie, I'll let you work it out. My words...
Husk filled with vacuum,
devoid of a dream,
void for a future,
maelstrom of now,
blue sky as poison,
fears for friends. 
The moment love ends
You see the night before we had a discussion. The one where you're told, in no uncertain terms, that your nearly twenty year marriage has reached the end of the road. Now this wasn't entirely a surprise. Far from it. But, you know what, I still had this vague hope of finding a resolution, a way forward, something that would be better for the children than wham-bang-divorce-ma'am. In reality, love had ended a long time before, it takes a long time to admit it though.

So I entered a very bad time. A bad time that has continued. I spoke with three people that week, about what was going on in detail (I did have to explain to my then main clients what was going on to explain the fits of tears). One of these people was then seeing, what turned out to be, a total fuckwit. Yep, I confided my total life collapse in somebody that was a shit and a fraud. One was my best and closest friend and, by a twist of irony, my having a meal with her in the week and refusing to answer messages lead to an extension of the torture for another year ("I thought something had happened to you and realised maybe I still cared", FFS). The third was further away. Somebody I'd only actually met briefly but talked with regularly.

It was during this conversation, on the banks of the Thames, that I talked of my plan B, my little place, with a view over the roof tops, and space to write, a few plants (are you listening Percy, Basil and Charlie) and, well, space to be me. To be free.

To heal.

We also talked about my potentially visiting in the July, for their birthday, but, with another offer dangling in the wind, an offer of closeness. But with an understanding. A very clear understanding. I thought it was a joke.

During the week a time was set to talk about things. Ironically, as it turned out the time was set on the Thursday, the self same day I met with my best friend and ended eating pasta in Carluccio's in Smithfield, at the time I felt it was like a date with the hangman's noose. Little surprise that I wasn't too fussed about answering a text message from my about-to-be-ex.
A time is set,
the circle complete.
 
To decide our fate,
a simple meet.
 
So terrified,
of this it’s true
.
No idea,
not a clue.
It wasn't until the time that I realised how stupid I'd been for not answering that text message.

So here we are.

Nearly a year later.

I did go to visit the third person. And... I shouldn't have done. I went for the right reasons. I went because I'd promised a friend I would be there for their birthday if I could. I went there to escape for a while. I went to do something frivolous.

I didn't go to break a heart.

I did have a naysayer, somebody who said it was ill advised, I ignored her. You'll be pleased to know I do listen to her advice now. But I did go. And things happened. And... I foolishly believed it was meant to be simple, friendly, comforting. What utter nonsense.

You would have thought that by now I would know that when it comes to feelings there is nothing simple, friendly or comforting. Things I've never, nor may ever, talk about here, but certainly more than enough to tell me that feelings are a dangerous place.

You see, the real problem with feelings is that, invariably, there is an imbalance. I know this only too well. You might fall deeply and inescapably in love with somebody, but if it's not reciprocated then there will be trouble ahead, or, you have to deal with it and hope that one day the feelings will evaporate. But definitely an imbalance.

And this imbalance can take on a darker form. Not intentionally. I would never say that. Over time I realised there was a problem, it didn't take long, a simple admission was enough for me to realise that this was difficult. Over an extended period of time things became more tricky. It was slow at first, a gently growing awareness that you are being contacted more often than you feel comfortable with. I can't remember the date exactly, but I do remember a period when I needed silence. So I switched my phone off whilst I thought. I realise now that I did that because of the regularity of tweets, texts and calls.

The trouble was, I was also working in the evenings, being a freelancer it comes with the territory. I'd switch my phone on so I could connect to the internet to send email and I'd receive a text. No harm there.

Except there was.

You see some networks have proper delivery notification. So the text would terminate on my handset (to use the correct parlance) and a notification would be sent. And then. Within seconds. I would get a phone call.

Every. Single. Time.

I was, for all intents and purposes, being stalked.

Now this is a big and quite unpleasant thing to say. I wasn't really, but I certainly wasn't being given the space I asked for and it did feel very stalky. This went on for a very long time. It wasn't just phones. If I dared to appear in Twitter I would have my musings answered in seconds. Every one. I was, literally, becoming twitchy about this and, quite rapidly, reduced my output, what I said, what I talked about and so on.

I tried to go on breaks, times when I specifically asked not to be contacted. But it never lasted. I could either switch off my communication channels completely or I could receive message after message. Don't get me wrong, the majority were friendly enough with no pressure. But that's the thing, it starts becoming about how you can't say anything without someone always making a response. It is quite disturbing.

When we eventually sorted out Contrary Towers I was worried about saying anything, but, I was excited about finally having a proper place to live in London and things would slip out and, being watched, it would be picked up on. This was followed by the inevitable requests for the address. Sorry, but it wasn't going to happen. The one thing that my flatmate and I were quite clear about was that there was some stuff that had to be left behind and as much as the request was innocent enough, it was on the back of the twitch I felt whenever I posted something and had a reply within seconds.

There are so many things I could say at this point. Things I won't because, frankly, it would be wrong to say them.

Anyway. In the end the messages became to much and I effectively abandoned my old Twitter account and moved. I left a lot behind but, actually, it made sense because I am dealing with some bigger issues. This went well for a while, where I moved my outlet to was a locked account and I carefully decided who to open up to. As I'm still unsure of my future I wanted to keep it relatively contained. Sometimes though, I make mistakes, often if you've been making notes, and I managed to leave my account unlocked after having replied to some things and had forgotten about it.

Not surprisingly the third person eventually picked up on this and started following. And sent a text. I lost sleep over this, literally. My AlmostSenseless account has a very special purpose, it's the raw version of me, not the publicly acceptable facet that I mostly show. But, I reasoned, this was somebody that was a friend and maybe they wouldn't leap on my every tweet with such voracity given the obvious change in circumstances. The advice I was given implied I was wrong.

The advice was right.

Within 48 hours we were back to pretty much every single message getting a response. I was again being told what was wrong with some local situation when, actually, I already knew what was wrong because I check this stuff. I was, in my eyes, being stalked again.

A fuse blew.

It was all so unnecessary. Did I have to spell out that thou shalt not reply to every single fucking tweet? As I fumed through the tunnels I made a decision, I was going to relock and I was removing the constant contact. Enough was enough.

The thing is this. I am going through a torrent of problems and pressure that I can barely hint at. The biggest part being that, on the previous Sunday, the carefully rebuilt faux sham of a marriage had collapsed once more, but this time it was nasty. And, you know what, I really didn't give a monkeys hoot that somebody couldn't accept that something wasn't going to happen. I was more concerned about holding it together long enough to not think that Oxford Circus looked like a good place to enter the underground for the last time.

So I am very angry.

I am about to lose my one outlet because I won't be left alone.

And I blocked. Then, when I got to a proper computer, I locked. As I said earlier, enough was enough. I needed to keep a lid on my sanity. Was this unfair? Yes, at the time I thought it was. At the time I had no idea that they would try calling anyone that would listen and was close to me to put their view...

...Later that day I received a direct message. I had behaved abominably. In the midst of the world falling apart I was presented with the reality that one of my closest friends thought I was abominable. Excellent. Well, the solution there is simple and this is the path I'm taking.

I am excluding myself.

I am no longer capable of being a decent human being as I am incapable of accepting emotional blackmail with good grace. I've really not covered a fraction of this, but that's what it is. My last tweet was as a result of the first laugh I had that day. For the briefest second the darkness that had been enveloping me dispersed and I said something funny which I then passed on. I had no idea that within a minute or two that I would find I was, quite simply, scum.

I don't care any more. I want to give so much, but that doesn't mean I should have to take the negatives all the time. I don't care that in a single moment I have probably lost most of my social circle and am staring at extreme loneliness beyond my flatmate and one other. And when she finds the one, as I desperately hope she does, I know I will be alone.

In my life I've learnt that it is nearly always me that makes concessions, adjusts, adapts and makes the effort to make people more comfortable. I've been doing it explicitly for forty odd years, but no more. I know I regularly screw up, but you know what, if you had to live inside a head this confused you would too. What I don't want to do is allow external factors to put me in a place which causes problems at home, I don't want to disturb the calm that we've managed to find in Contrary Towers, some things are just too important and I know that allowances have been made for my emotional state. Which is unfair on my flatmate, she shouldn't have had to feel like she had to. I've told her next time she should just give me a mental slap.

At least by excluding myself I can avoid damaging anyone else.

Please don't think I'm being all passive aggressive. I'm not interested in that and my only subtlety here is in not naming names, no point and, let's face it, in the unlikely event this is read then they will know who they are. Nor do I want or expect a response. But I won't sit quietly on my hands and accept all the blame for this, I've been on the receiving end of, at times, incessant passive aggressive, the self same stuff that has pushed me in to a quiet corner.

Fine.

Now fine, if you've seen the homage to the original Italian Job, stands for freaked out, insecure, neurotic, emotional. I use fine a lot. I usually prefer fucked up for my f, but then I'm not g rated. I'm definitely emotional. My emotions have directly lead to the breakup of probably the single most important connection I had in my adult life, I know because I asked. So I might as well let them drive me to break everything else. Maybe when left with nothing I'll finally be able to work out what's right and wrong. Maybe I'll finally be able to move on.

I'll keep writing. I need some outlet, some means to express what is going on inside. It will just be one way. I can't currently see a reason to lift this self imposed exile. Ironically it also means that it's unlikely these words will be read as I won't be saying I've blogged to promote my writing, not that this matters.

In the meantime I will continue to deal with the accelerating breakup of my life. A difficult time, but fear not, I won't keep it festering inside, it will be expressed in the form of poetry.

Expect it to be dark.