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09/01 Direct Link
‘Pick me, pick me.’
One sound erupted from the crowd, one voice separated out and was thrown up. The quiet that followed filled with laughter. Not knowing who had spoken, each knew it could have been their voice; it was their one thought uttered; their words shouted and heard above the howling around them.
To be alone in a crowd, yet indistinct, is where loneliness dwells: where everyone wants the same thing, is try and grasp the ring that will haul you up from the ground, above the crowd, above the mewling masses, this sweating and melding block of humanity.
09/02 Direct Link

This month I am starting an entirely new adventure. From this point, I will seek and find new paths to take me to a future, a life transformed, a life of my choosing that isn’t full of narrow choices. I want a life without guilt or regret, to have those manacles gone. Till now, there has been the weight of history bearing down behind me as I see myself standing fast, battling a headwind. From today history will not direct me, I won’t be wishing to be elsewhere or regretting how I got here; It will be a new world.

09/03 Direct Link
I’m reading fiction novels as if there’s no tomorrow: popular fiction, pulp novels, multiple genres. I read them one after another, ripping through and casting them aside in a rush to start the next. It is a mania, it seems unstoppable. The momentum builds as the narrative actions explode. When I finish one, and the crime is solved or the planet is saved, I feel an absence. My hands feel empty as my mind drains; I forget what I read and then haul out another and start reading. In this mindset I can read three books before sleeping, forgetting all.
09/04 Direct Link
Letters #5:

I would like to draw your attention to how history has us tied down and pinioned; we are shackled, splayed out and hog-tied by the logic of history, unable to use our full strength to rise-up and discard the weight of the past. We spend all our time looking backwards, re-fighting old battles. Through the lens of history, the consensus path of history our society has, we are given statistical views on effectiveness and morality or what happened before. These curated histories with the summations of the woes and failures of the past, do not include the future.

09/05 Direct Link
‘Do you come here often?’ she asked. ‘I know that lines a cliché, but I really want to know. It’s my first time here; I didn’t know about this place until you told me, and I like it. A friend said it was nice. I would come back. If this date fails and we don’t get on, is this where you hang out?’
Dave said she was easy to talk to: just give her a few drinks and she’d talk your ear off. She certainly talked a lot, but it sounded like she was already working on her exit strategy.
09/06 Direct Link
‘No.’ She was leaning towards him as he spoke and he knew this was a good sign. He should keep talking, but anxiety was tightening his jaw. Maybe he’d read too much into what she said before. ‘I don’t go to wine bars a lot; just sometimes on dates. My friend Dave told me about this place.’
‘Don’t get me wrong,’ she said. ‘These places are fine. Sometimes they can be bear-pits, mostly later though, when crowds of people start turning up.’
As she spoke, a dozen people trouped in and milled around their table looking for somewhere to roost.
09/07 Direct Link
‘It looked like a nice crowd when we came in: locals, regulars. At least they were quiet.’ She looked up as the crowd jostled her; someone knocked her shoulder, an arm holding a drink nearly spilling. ‘I don’t get out much, really.’
She shuffled her chair closer and leaned towards him. He could see the pulse on her neck, the way her skin moved as she breathed. Up close she looked soft and smelled like soap.
‘Maybe we should move,’ he said, standing. ‘This crowd has us outnumbered.’
He’d been disappointed when she came in; he recognised her straight away.
09/08 Direct Link
He’d come early to have a couple of beers, hoping it would settle him, get him relaxed. He didn’t want to be too sloppy, just to have a light buzz. He’s planned to be early, to be there when she came in.
He was sitting at a table watching her when she came rushing in, looking distracted. He remembered thinking she looked crumpled, disorganised. Maybe she’d hurried or had left work late and come straight here. When she came up to him and smiled, he forgot this: he felt as if he’d just woken up.
‘You’re probably Jake, Dave’s friend?’
09/09 Direct Link
‘Hi, I’m Sally.’ She came up to his table, smiled and held out her hand. She saw a look of surprise or terror cross his face as he rose up and stepped back, and she lowered her arm, rubbing her palm on her skirt.
‘I don’t usually talk to strangers in pubs. Sorry to disturb you,’ she said. ‘I’m supposed to be meeting someone; a blind date.’
She had seen him from the door, had noticed his beer, and thought he looked a little mellow. Dave said Jake drank some. He was the right age and fitted the overall description.
09/10 Direct Link
‘Hi, yes, I’m Dave’s friend,’ he said. ‘Thanks for coming.’ He thrust his hand out.
‘Well, that’s good. I’m not sure I could have approached another person. I’ve used up all my brave moves for the day. Blind dates are the worst, aren’t they? I should have asked you to wear a red carnation or carry a sign.’
She ignored his hand and sat; she didn’t want to shake hands now. She would give him ten minutes, time for one drink, just to be polite. That embarrassing encounter was all she could handle; it had been a rough day already.
09/11 Direct Link
Still standing, Jake drained his glass. ‘I’ll get you a drink. What’ll it be?’
As we know, they moved past this point. The date felt wrong straight away; there were unexplained prickles and nudges each took to be warnings, reminders of a malevolent universe and their frail instance struggling within it. They questioned why they had come, asked why they felt uncomfortable; wondered if it would be kinder to just leave now before it got worse.
Social expectations and the habit of manners formed a temporary bridge between them: sitting and finishing the first drink gave them time to reflect.
09/12 Direct Link
We forget when we listen to an imaginary tale, a fairy story, a fable, the passing of time. Here in the story, when events are retold they run, faster or slower, and jump, forwards and backward, to what you know must happen, what you dread. Even recalling the story, we wait with time suspended for the journey to unfold and the action to begin, lifting like billowing clouds the story pulls us to places we didn’t know exist, that exist only in the imagination; places inhabited by people who are good and kind, who can call out our true selves.
09/13 Direct Link
Jake and Sally’s story is not a fable; this is after all the real world. Unlike a story, there is no-one here to make sure they got this right: to pick them up and dust them off when they failed, to set them back on the right path when they got lost. They felt they were acting a part; they saw themselves through glimpses caught and reflected in the burnished brass in the pub fittings, in the antiqued bar mirrors; the crackled and speckled mirror edges turning them grey and shadowed, ageing them too where the background mercury was lifting.
09/14 Direct Link
They had read themselves into their parts, knowing about blind dates. Watch for signals, small responses, smile, take turns to lead and to follow in this dance: as if keeping time, going through the motions, not missing a beat, was how these stories flowed. The plotted scene ran like an old movie, replaying over and over; from stories told by family and friends, of how they met and what they did.
Knowing the start, they believed this time the story would lead them away from their travails. There wasn’t room for failure and yet it felt like they were failing.
09/15 Direct Link
The irony of blind dates is that you are instantly distracted from the main purpose: what should be an interview quickly becomes a personal concern about looks and concern about the impression you are making.
Sally’s story, the one that played out in her mind, was that of every romance she had ever read: all she needed was a hero and, the most important and often forgotten part, her dreams. Jake’s story was a hero’s journey: he was on a quest. For Jake, there was a challenge: he had to find and save a fair maiden from her terrible fate.
09/16 Direct Link
Why should the first impression be that this is date has already failed? Are expectations too high; is there a breach of trust; do they feel exposed and vulnerable; is this altogether too risky, a bad idea, a waste of time? Would they rather be somewhere else?
They can turn back, resile, retreat out of harm’s way. We do this from a flawed understanding, an erroneous life lesson, that tells us retreating will take us back to safety. Retreating only takes us back to where we were: we retreat and nothing changes. How can this strategy be our best decision?
09/17 Direct Link
There were issues on both sides, no doubt, when two people don’t know each other it is unfair to cast blame on one of the other. Jake’s best friend and Sally’s best friend were partners: they thought, and Jake and Sally thought, but here I fall into a quandary: four people with one thought? It seemed unlikely.
On the surface this had every chance of success: applying the law that your friend is my friends. If this worked they could double date, see more of each other where the men and women could have separate interests and everyone could relax
09/18 Direct Link
In Jake’s mind this date was challenging: already he was behaving in ways that weren’t natural, that he didn’t feel comfortable with. His initial disappointment for example: it wasn’t like him to be critical of someone out of hand. He wanted to like her, even before she arrived. She had turned up, and that pleased him, but she wasn’t anything like what he imagined.
Strangely enough, before tonight Jake and Sally hadn’t met. This omission was a curious accident: they had several friends in common and more than one opportunity where their paths might have crossed, it just hadn’t happened.
09/19 Direct Link
With work, it had been an effort for Sally to get here tonight, but she knew that if it wasn’t tonight she would find some other excuse. What finally made her do it was that she hated to disappoint people.
At the end of every story, time returns and hooks us into its linear curved path. With Insistence we are marched along, time takes us from our dreams of the future; it runs us into the rocks and cliffs of the here and now where we are beached. And here we stay, and struggle, not knowing what our futures hold.
09/20 Direct Link
The imperative for Jake and Sally, is to overcome the obstacles and assumptions retarding their progress. They need to write a new narrative, the story of the journey from their separate histories into a shared world. As I watch, they seemed to struggle, they are failing, ignorant of the work and the time it will take, unaware of how this will impact all who know them. It takes strength to move into a new future.
In the noisy, jostling crowd, without consultation they both stood, gathered their belongings, and turning to the door to leave, each smiled at the other.
09/21 Direct Link
We push ourselves out into the world, feel frail and thinly stretched, then retreat quickly. Who decided that worms and caterpillars have the best life survival strategies: do we share common frailties and flaws with these limp and wretched creatures; are we so spineless, so limited that this is all we think of doing?
We should act like crustaceans, believing we are impervious to the assaults from the external world, the high road is where we should march. If we are crushed, then let that happen: we can be destroyed by stronger forces, and that demise can hold no shame.
09/22 Direct Link
There was a visceral sense of dislocation, an undeniable feeling that the universe had slipped sideways a moment ago when I was not paying attention.
‘Where are the slaves?’ she asked.
Does she want me to go and get some help or, if I stand still and breathe lightly, maybe she won’t seem me in the semi-shade? I am static in front of the exhibit, watching her reflection in the glass as this virtual image walks between me and the gold coins displayed like booty, randomly spread around and between relics of ancient Rome. She may be looking for me.
09/23 Direct Link
There is no blind reason for my mind to be blank and unresponsive: I have been working all day, shifting words back and forth, scheduling reading, engaging with ideas, planning writing; yet now, when I want the words to flow, they stall, stick fast, jamming other words coming forward, tripping them up and floundering. It is as if I have a quota, a daily fixed supply of words that become depleted. The words that on command do appear, stand around me waiting for instructions, flat and flavourless, leached of emotions and enthusiasm, they are a veritable host of unworthy candidates.
09/24 Direct Link
Structure, the last crutch for the weak-minded, is now my friend, who bears my full weight as I try to complete this month’s work. When everything else fails, the framework survives, with life hanging on it like a graven crow silhouetted against the roaring furnace of the descending sun, a halo of light collapsing around its small dark form reducing life to a spot, a mirage, that is forever escaping towards the horizon. As cold of night and stars race up from behind, ready to overtake me, the eternal repetition, the promise of a new day, is my only hope.
09/25 Direct Link
Where will it get you, concerning yourself with issues embedded in the paradigms of belonging: can you see yourself in a mirror or are you looking through a window. What if you are always outside looking in, not there enjoying the sunshine, resting on the grass in the sun, asleep and snoring in the library, but always nose down studying unable to stop watching. Looking at a life that excludes, you feel invisible and isolated, unlike those times when you see yourself reflected as if in a mirror, with life behind you waiting to sweep you up into the maelstrom.
09/26 Direct Link
Within me, I sense pent-up rage, a welling up of anger and frustration, a volcanic explosive force I’m unable and unwilling to harness or tame. When the common denominator is me, and the problems keep multiplying, there are two possible explanations: either I am the person who sees the problem and stops, trying to fix things, or something I do causes things to break around me. And my frustration, driving by an ongoing perception that I am always found where there are problems, is because the perception that I am the problem is fallacious, ignorant, and an error of assumption.
09/27 Direct Link
I am unwilling to be framed and captured through the lens of an inattentive world’s eye. It is up to me to decide if I see is a noun or a verb; there are no barriers or restrictions to interpreting reality: change, it says. It’s my choice, there are options going forward: I can take a break and reflect on this suggestion, on how I can take advantage of this moment; or I can feed folding money into the machine and collect the fist-full of shrapnel spat out for the parking meter and continue with the day as planned, undisturbed.
09/28 Direct Link
Do you mind if I talk to you; if I break the third wall and speak directly to you? I realise I can’t make you listen, I can’t even monitor if you’re still there: you may have turned away, moved on to another talking wall, to one aimed directly at you that you can’t resist with its bright and shiny advertisements. You may think I’m just another message from someone who wants something. You don’t know what you’re going to hear, you won’t have heard this before: you should listen. This story is about how I became a talking wall.
09/29 Direct Link
I have been thinking how music and narrative are related. My first impression is that there seems to be no correlation: music is in the moment, transient and aside from random phrases, requires effort to memorise and retain as a sequential whole. Music seems to be an emotional upwelling, all colour, and shape without embodiment. When it does resolve into a recognised form, marching or some elevated pomp and ritual, I as a listener feels cheated. I don’t want the banal in music, I want the ecstatic experience, the sense of transportation to somewhere non-corporeal, an out of mind experience.
09/30 Direct Link
Letters #6:
I would like to draw your attention to the word benefit as used in corporate spheres. Benefit hides within it a bounty of behaviours linked to greed and deception; the cupidity of selfish desire hides within there, disguising the fact that what is being talked about, is money. What should a benefit be? For a person the benefit from their actions should be their good name, their reputation; recognition for not only upholding but uplifting social morals and values in their work. The word is deflowered; a benefit now is taken only into the self, it flow one-way.