Sights Old

Travelling by train has always been a serene pleasure for me, as the wheels trundle gracefully along the gilded track and my body slowly rocks to gentle sway of the ride, I feel somehow at ease with both myself and the world.

A few days ago I took the carriage heading south, to the city wreathed in historic remains.  It is a city where I have spent many hours volunteering and meeting up with friends, playing the guitar in the minster grounds and doing the rounds of the pubs and bars.

I wonder if I can put it into a poem, the quick scene that we passed by quickly as the train headed south:

.(.).

Speeding through, the land grew still,

ambulance responder, crew running to the terraced house,

next minute or two, the rubbish is collected and compacted,

like the refuse of life, recycled and born anew.

.(.).

I’m not sure that works, but we’ll keep it in for now.

It was a beautiful scene eclipsing the beauty and frailty of life and of our material culmination as a species.  It made me think of our bodies as empty vessels once we have died, and how we are buried like so much of our rubbish, out of the way and out of sight.  The division of death by the division of material waste itself is an odd one.  Of course we sometimes used to be buried with material goods in the deep and ancient past, sometimes inside or near the house or dwelling, but not so much anymore.  There is a distinct modern liminality zone between the living and the dead, of how some would argue that we have forgotten how to look death in the face, to accept it as we accept life.

We want our world pristine, simultaneously emulating and reviling nature and her course.

Forgetting Is Harder Than Remembering

To all the things I haven’t done, will never do, have done or are yet to come…

Holding a loved one close as they fall asleep in a shared bed, waking up and kissing excitedly in the rush of a brand new day, walking up the highest hill in the lake district, eating a roast chicken in a car park with a friend whilst the gulls scream overhead, dance in the rain, swim in a lake as the thunder roars in the distance and the clouds gather and turn to the darkest deepest gray, walk down the aisle without metal inside my body, excavate a human body knowing that the last humans to see them were the people that buried the person, watch a person die, eat all of the salad, enjoy the sizzling sun kiss the horizon and bid the waking world goodbye, walk into the sea and swim amongst the fish, enjoy the full thrust and passion of sex, cuddle afterwards in the warm glow of two worn out bodies, taste the freshest made bread and watch as the butter melts, laugh with my nana and her best friend in the shed that they converted to a boudoir so they could smoke in peace, welcome my grandad and grandma to my hospital bed and watch with delight as they unload a heap of food out onto the waiting hospital table spilling chocolate whip warm mince potato carrots and coke, to watch the attractive form of older female nurses and wish they could kiss me good night, watch as the next muse takes off her clothes and I start to paint, to make love to a person who is older than yourself, curse the night away in a howl of desperation and pain, to ask your own mother and father to end your life as misery results from broken bones and misaligned broken stones, sitting in a graveyard reading my books and thinking thoughts,  wanting to break out of a family mentality and escape the country I was born into, flying out into the eastern bloc,  anticipation mixing with nervousness, being so happy to be away from every person you have ever known as to be stumbling over your own words, to be thankful that your friends have never changed, to be annoyed that your friends have never changed, to awake in a foreign land, feeling the rush of anesthetic as it rolls up into your arm as your blood takes it to the major organs and you start to drift off, to take a train and relive a passion, to just be happy with a finished painting, to cover and destroy and remake art, taking that perfect photograph, to being unplugged from social media and the internet, to take pictures of naked body parts in public, to bring your partner to orgasm in lush green grass and startling blue skies of the natural world, to be kissed again and again for the pure of joy of it, to reading a classic book and to get bored by it, to read a book and for it to move your world, to drive and to be driven, sleeping in and feeling the warmth of a person you love next to you, kissing the golden sands of land and drinking the lush liquid of the sea, to being selfish, to smoking the first joint of the night, taking the first pill, to not remembering when you last had sex, to want to visit all the corners of the globe, kiss every women in the world, to love yourself, and  to be thankful to be alive in this brash rude beautiful world…

RidiculArt on Etsy

As any subscriber or occasional viewer of this blog will know I sometimes dabble in art, so I have decided to see if I can sell some on Etsy.  Etsy is an e-commerce website that focuses on selling handmade art work, crafts, vintage pieces  and art supplies.  It is particularly popular among its users as a way of making money part time or as a sideline to a main income from a full time job.  The premise is fairly simple in the fact that the seller can set up a shop and quickly start selling items, or you can simply buy items from shops on Etsy for friends and family.  The pieces for sale are often individual and one of a kind, and the site offers a very wide spectrum of gifts and styles.

So I thought I’d give it a go!  I’m currently jobless so I’d welcome some cash in my pocket, especially since I spend most of the time filling out application forms to no avail.  Perhaps ridiculously I’ve called my ‘shop’ (1) after having many a mischievous moment with friends about how ridiculous we all are (in general- it’s the only way to approach life!).

So my shop will largely sell abstract acrylic paintings which are painted on canvas, and should sell at a reasonable price.  I have had a few ideas for future paintings, including some drawings with water colour pencils, so expect to see some more styles added within a few weeks or so.

I’ll be honest, I’m still half decided on this whole venture.  I am by no means a good artist, and I do worry about the quality of my work, and whether any one would want to own some of my art work.  However my faith in myself has been restored slightly by knowing that a clutch of my paintings hang in my friends homes, on walls which are looked at each and every day, and yet still the paintings have not been taken down!  So we shall see what this new venture brings.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

(1) Shop has been taken offline as I haven’t made any art for quite some time.

'Three Colours', available to buy via the 'RidiculArt' Etsy shop online.

‘Three Colours’ (50 x 40 x 1.5 cm), available to buy via the ‘RidiculArt’ Etsy shop online.

Memories of Magdeburg

The time spent in the city of Mageburg, in the Saschen-Anhalt region of Germany, passed as if I was in a dream.  The days floated by in an easy going, laissezfaire sort of way, and I loved it.  It is a period that I shall always remember with a great fondness, as I got to know the city and the people that I worked for.  The time spent swimming in the lake alongside families and older people was time well spent relaxing in the great blue murky bliss, watching thunderstorms roll harmlessly by whilst half submerged in the inky depths.  The joy of being woken at half twelve at night to watch the numerous lightening strikes over the city, as the fury of the heavens was unleashed in one foul tirade late at night.

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The pure joy of relaxing with an ice cream and a coffee whilst writing letters home, filled with the love of a good country and fine people.  Attempting half broken German whilst asking for briefmarken to help send postcards home to the family.  The old man on the tram, gesturing and pointing to his leg, and to my leg, crossing the language divide to highlight our shared disability.  The empty museum in which I could lose myself amongst the fossils, the books and the stuffed animals.  The imposing two towered Dom weathering time itself, surviving through fire, war and pestilence throughout the ages.

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The exhilaration of taking part in my first cemetery excavation, and the pure awe of helping to excavate a skeleton.  The deep feeling of honour in being able to excavate this person with care, a person that had once lived and loved.  The friendships that were formed over a toast of Jagermeister, Germany’s finest herb drink.  The bond that crossed language, and the letters that ensured, half written in our native language and half written in halting English or Deutsche.

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The feeling of why couldn’t life be this free all the time?  The thrust of the jet engines as they screamed towards the blue yonder, and took me away from my country once more.  The deep glittering greens and browns of a leafy cemetery, where family plots lay within a few feet of the war memorials.  The pop art poster in the local museum, of a half naked woman appearing from a chocolate wrapper, radiant joy spreading across her beautiful face.  The wooden tower dwarfing the people walking nearby.

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The shared flat and the friendly guide, and the hours spent watching families walking by.  The rush of the capital city, swarming with tourists and glittering with the jewels of Europe.  The skeletons of the long dead, of the LBK and the Neandertals on display for all to learn from.  The communal feeling of a close community in the soviet flats, and the love of the drunkard wishing us well on our final journey home.  The silly photographs.  Ah, Germany was bliss.

Friday Night

I promised myself that I wouldn’t waste this Friday night, that I would spend it wisely, but here I am again, sat on the couch in a lonely house.  The normal television shows are on and I’ve fed my body the usual crap.  The only solace I can draw from this situation is that I drove fairly well earlier, bar a few speeding issues, and that I managed to get a good hour in the swimming pool earlier.  I am, to be fair, a morose fool.

Although things on the job market front don’t look promising (I feel Murray’s pain!), I now have time to read, volunteer, play some music and to see friends.  It is time I am grateful for.  Sometime in the next two weeks I hope to get back to a local music rehearsal room to have an informal jam with friends.  Although I won’t waffle on here, I will say that there is something fundamentally connective in playing music with other people, especially when you get into the ‘groove’ of a song or a particular movement.  Other than perhaps sexual intercourse, there is rarely anything that makes you feel more connected to the great family of humanity. I understand this sounds perhaps a tad dubious, but I’d highly recommend you pick up an instrument, get in touch with a few musicians, and have yourself a jam!

My current guitar, and a beautiful Marshall stack (which, unfortunately, I do not own).

My current guitar, and a beautiful Marshall stack, which, unfortunately, I do not own (one day!).

Always the Amateur

The definition of amateur reads as ‘a person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession‘, and it is a rather delightful term.  It strikes a strong chord with me, as I quite enjoy a spot of amateur painting or photography, not that often I have to admit, and I play an instrument, although that is mostly for personal fun with friends.  To be an amateur reminds me of how lucky I am in life, that, at the moment, I am free to do things as I want (relatively speaking, and in between job applications).  Although I would be the first person to admit I do not spend enough of my time being creative, I feel a great kinship to those who can so freely express themselves so readily.  Below is a photograph I took on a Sunday walk,  and although it is not a great photograph, it has helped me to capture a lovely moment in time.  Each time I see it I think I’d love to turn it into an impressionist style painting.  Of course I can only see it in my minds eye as I do not have the technical skill to paint such a picture, nor the genuine talent.

I took this photograph on a beautiful autumnal morning. I was out for a wander in the outstanding Yorkshire countryside when, on falling behind my two friends as I cleaned my hands, I looked up and saw this lovely corridor of nature shot. My friends were walking their dog whilst a young family were having fun in the distance, perhaps a portent of the future life of my friends.

However it is in ignoring that voice, and just in trying, that you have overcome the main hurdle in expressing yourself.  And it is a joy, even if you are not happy with the end results.  When I was young I had always admired the people who had tried to express themselves in various different media, be it in prose, painting, drama, music or photography.  Leonardo, after all, was not just an artist but a scientist and a visionary.  Of course he was a genius, but we should take heart in our own efforts of self expression, and try a diverse range in which to communicate to our fellow man.  This can of course leak over into other aspects of your life.  Throughout my academic work I had always tried to maintain a multi-disciplinary approach to my work, to incorporate not just archaeology but also geography, osteology, pathology, history, ethnography and earth sciences, when needed, to help and develop a fuller picture of our integration.

Expressing yourself can include other people, either helping to contribute to a single project or idea, or as an individual as part of a group or society.  It can be the smallest thing, in which no one will ever see, or it can be a massive effort that many will see and experience.  It doesn’t matter, what matters is that if you feel a urge to be creative, to do something about that feeling, then to go ahead and see what happens.  As with most things in life, the more you practice the better you will become.  Speaking of which, I think I will pick up that paintbrush and have a dabble in art again…

To finish, have a lovely song by Green jelly, a lovely comedic rock band.

My favourite Animals Are Reptiles And Their Kin

Sitting in the desert, rock next to body, sun pounding down.  The lizard peeps out only to see me pissing in its home space, pissing on its infant young, pissing on its habitat.  It scuttles across the dune to escape my arc of golden liquid, trying to find a new drier home.

Me? I’m stuck here in this mess, thanks to the bloody fault of the plane wing falling off.  Bloody desert, stretching in each direction, undulating sandscape, pile of shit.

I’ve got enough food to last for a few days but after?  I carry on pissing, pissing into the wind.  No-one knows I’m here, that I came searching for gold bars that don’t exist.

The day beats on, the cloudless azure sky has now become my open prison. The lizard has ventured back, wondering if I’m still pissing on its newly hatched young, only to find that I’ve become the main father figure to the young lizards.

They are curled around my neck and shoulders, tender licks of reptilian tongues lapping at my cheeks.

I feed them bits of dead flaking skin as the sun helps me shed my former self.  I have become the lizard king, and she my lizard queen.