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Those words stare out at me like a challenge, needling my sides as I sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard, ready to type but nothing ever seems to happen.  They just hover for a short while before I retract them and think about putting the kettle on for another black coffee to help stimulate the mind.

It’s morning, perhaps it is too early, maybe I should go back to bed and have a nap?  Dreams are a great place for ideas to collide after all.  The afternoon is a much better time to write, perhaps even the early evening?

These thoughts twirl around my head as I set up the rest of my day with the routine tasks of living.  Soon I find I have no time to sit and write, life is falling into place and I do have to work for a living and help with the upkeep of my young family.  The joys of feeding toddlers and playing imaginary games, the book can wait can’t it, if I just take this quick break to think I’m a fish ready to nibble her little feet?  To see that laugh and that smile lights me up like nothing else could or can, even the thought of being a published author is pushed to the back of my mind.

Here then is my kingdom of heaven.  Let me turn off the television and turn down the radio, the news cannot intrude into paradise today.  We are alone in our tight family unit and we are happy here.

The book niggles at me during the night, when I am lying down trying to both sleep and to escape.  Instead the demon rises up in the form of a thousand empty pages, all flickering to the bitter empty end.

My bank account could do with the advance that I’d surely get, my name too could do with the prestige.  I could do with the look of pride and honour that would radiate from the faces of those that I love most.

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Those words haunt me so.

Televisual Schedule Part 1

20.00 – 21.00 – World’s Deadliest Farts (S4 E5)

This episode focuses on the tragedy of little Timmy from Tuskegee, whose ramen-fueled fart of ’92 killed a class of twelve-year old’s. (r).

Wanted To Know You

I wanted to love you
but you made it hard,
Turned away my cheek
and instead raised the card

That declared your hostilities
and declared a war,
It was then I knew
that I deserved so much more

I wanted to love you
so you made it hard,
I wanted to know you
but you made it hard

I wonder where you are
wonder who you became,
I wanted to love you,
but you made it hard. . .

Anger as a Fuel

On life in a Soviet Gulag labour camp in the Russian Far East:

We were all sick of the barracks food. . . Any human feelings – love, friendship, envy, charity, mercy, ambition, decency – had vanished long along with the flesh we had lost during our prolonged starvation. The minuscule layer of muscle that was still left on our bones, and which allowed us to eat, move, breathe, even saw beams, fill barrows with spadefuls of stone and sand, even push a barrow up an endless wooden ramp in the gold mine, had only enough room for resentful anger, the most lasting of human feelings.

– From the short story entitled Field Rations in the new collected edition of Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov, translated by Donald Rayfield. New York Review of Books, 2018.

This Industrial Heartland

The ties that bind the population to the nearby land can seem inhuman: mechanical structures that stretch across the landscape, not embracing the natural features in any meaningful way but instead perching delicately on top. The foundations, tunnels, tubes and pipes are violently forced and rendered into and through the land, yet here is where the beating economic heart sits.

Only, we have learnt from the lessons of the past few centuries and slowly our gaze is turning into how we can instead ally industry with nature, working with it instead of against it. Is it too late? Only time will provide us with that answer. . .

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Lethargy

It is a Sunday afternoon and Father John Misty states that he is in ‘the business of living’ to mournful tones. I can’t help but agree with him, but then again here I am, sat staring at the screen and trying to ignore the world outside.

I sit and I am barely speaking to anyone, just thinking about the current state of my country, the continent it is a part of and the fool that sits in the house across the water. How did it get to this?

Christmas cheer has never seemed so far away. When I think about the trees that are burning, the refugees that are drowning, the continents dividing and the politicians scheming, when did it all come down to this? Hasn’t it always been the way?

We fall into disrepair by inaction and we are actively doing that now.

Character Study in Bb

She has an Anglo-Saxon sternness.  She could be 20 or 40 years of age, her religious conviction writ large in her plain facial features.  She loves warmly but disciplines firmly, an island of austerity in a world of plenty.

Shadows in the Graveyard

Another beautiful accident with film:

Shot using a Pentax ME Super on Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomapan). Developed using Rodinal and scanned. If used elsewhere please credit as appropriate and contact author.

Sorrow

And I thought of myself too, of my foot, and of Oddball’s thin, wiry body; it seemed shot through with appalling sorrow, quite unbearable. As I gazed at the black-and-white landscape of the plateau I realized that sorrow is an important word for defining the world. It lies at the foundations of everything, it is the fifth element, the quintessence.

– From Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018.

Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City by Luiz Eduardo Soares

I started reading this excellent book recently and I very glad I picked it up in the bookstore. His writing is vivid, impassioned, and influential.  I came across this quote today and it resonated immediately:

There’s nothing so terrifying as an unpredictable power, because unpredictability makes it impossible to adopt a survival strategy and turns the dial of insecurity up to the maximum.

Soares, 2016.

Of course I cannot comprehend the conditions of which he writes, the cliche that hides the truth and the history of this city. Recent homicide rates for Brazil in 2017 do not make great reading, but there is more this country, and more to this city, then the cliches.  I recommend this book if you are interesting in South American history, social history, and travel.

Reflections in the Glass

I look out of the window in the morning, to look upon the world anew after a heavy sleep, and I wonder just what is happening to my country as I take in the news.  Antics that belong to the actions of the Freikorps in the 1920’s have taken place in the capital, and every day a new banner headline rolls across the TV sprouting more nationalist or jingoistic nonsense.  Where is the spirit of the liberal democratic freedom I grew up with?  Where are the dreams of a generation to be found?

I close the curtains, push back the duvet and climb again into my warm bed.  My voice is silent once again, but the day will come where I will raise it.  Will it be too late?