Current times

It has taken me a while to write this post, with one thing and another.

I want to cry for the world, but I feel I lack the energy.

I look at the situation in the UK, and the Government’s actions, and I fear for those around me. I don’t want my friends to die. I don’t want my family to die. I don’t want my colleagues to die. And yet, around 50k people have died to Covid-19 in the UK.

I look at the situation in the US, and what is going on after the George Floyd’s death murder. I grieve for those who are taking this opportunity to loot and riot, and yet I am reminded that the situation in the US is different to the UK, especially in regards to Police action and accountability. How easily it feels to see police brutality over the US, and how scrutinised the Police is in the UK. We have had our fair amount of racist incidents, and I am certain those happen on a daily basis in the UK.

I remember the Tottenham Riots in 2011 and I remember speaking to a neighbour in Ealing the day after one neighbour had been murdered by the rioters. Nothing to do with police protests, but indiscriminate rioting, looting, and, what appears to me, an attempt to “balance the tables” between all sides of society.

Seeing videos on the internet of people stealing Nike trainers, and being reminded that some trainers cost over £700Or £950. A pair. Nobody needs those trainers. But they exist. They are wanted. They will be looted.

The queues after McDonald’s have recently reopened, calls made to Police to help manage the queues. The increase amount of littering we have noticed at home because of those fast food places reopening to the world.

The queues in Parliament after remote voting has been stopped. MPs trying to get to vote, and having to face either being exposed to Covid-19, or not being able to vote. Democracy eroded, and at a stake.

I used to understand the world, but I feel I just don’t “get it” anymore. I am certainly not qualified to give an opinion on US politics, and probably shouldn’t be qualified to give an opinion on anything for that matter. The world (and especially the internet) appears to be a minefield of opinions that cannot be had, either knowingly or unknowingly.

And yet, we appear to be taken for a fool by Governments.

We lose track of what matters – each other. 

I feel lost, confused, and scared.

“Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”

I do hope things will be OK in the end.

Six or seven stones

I was speaking to my nephew on his birthday.

Suffice to say, that he is very young and very keen on exploring the world around him. He is lucky to have lived in both sides of the planet during his upbringing. He is lucky to have been born in the right side of a border and he qualifies to passports and to bring a citizen of the world, and not an immigrant. He is too young for politics, but he knows what he likes.

He has a keen eye for verticality, and has recently acquired a keen interest in stones.

He was showing me his stone collection, and told me excitedly that he had six or so. Six! It may have been seven, but that’s beyond the point.

I told him that I only have one stone with me (I have others at home, obviously!), and I showed him. It is a flat stone, slightly oblong, about the surface of a thumb. It is dark cream in colour but it seems to have lacquer that I like to scratch off occasionally, revealing the clearer colouring within.

He was surprised to hear that I was carrying a stone, and understandably asked me why was I carrying it.

I told him that my beloved had given it to me.

I told him that every time I felt my left pocket I also felt the stone.

Every time I felt the stone I felt my beloved, and it reminded me of him.

When I was in need of courage, I would squeeze the stone as if to get some good luck to ooze out. When I’m bored I can play with the stone and make it spin on a flat surface, like a compass. Regardless of which way it points when it stops, my beloved is there.

It is not a burden, but one must consider it all the time. When driving with certain trousers, it may come off the pocket. When changing trousers the stone must come with me. Sometimes it inconveniently falls off when hanging the trousers and I end up on my knees trying to find it.

I do not mind.

I am reminded of my beloved. I could throw it into a pond, and that would become our pond.

I nearly threw it into the ocean a couple of years ago, but I resisted the urge. The excuse was to then go with my beloved and find a new stone together. From the earth, and not purchased from a store.

The stone has a biblical quote – Jebediah – and I have read it several times, and talks about God’s plans for you. It is not my favourite bible passage, but it is on my favourite stone.

I also got my beloved a stone. I think it lies in our pond, thrown away in a moment of despair and darkness, trying to make a last effort and failing to do so. Splashing away, the ripples disappearing into memories within seconds. But it is our pond now, and nothing can change that. The stone was slightly rounder than mine, black in colour on the outside but with a core of a brighter hue of grey. Most importantly, it was chipped in a particular way, revealing the inner core and what was lacking. Another part of the same stone, having been filed away from the circumstances at some point in the stone’s life. Now aware of the exposure of the core.

It is now living underwater, forever, or until the pond is drained and the stone becomes one between many others.

I love my stone. It has made me a stone collector. I like to collect stones when I’m out and about, especially beaches. I walk at speed, looking at the ground and scanning for a piece of earth that has an element that I find attractive, or that draws me in somehow.

I do not blame my beloved for throwing his stone away – it was not a good time back then – but I am happy that whilst he may have lost the several replacements I have given him since, at least he has me.

I was introduced to this “thing” by a very dear friend who has done this same thing with his partner for a significant amount of years. He taught me that a life lived in lie and deception is not worth living. He taught me that it was better to muster the courage to be honest than to cower in fear, burdened by the constant keeping track of the lies that have been spun and the consequences of the inevitable discovery. To him I owe much. As like myself, he still has the original, whilst his partner may have had a few renewed stones.

This is why I carry a stone with me, every waking moment. It is not a burden. It is the drive.

It reminds me of my beloved, I said.

OK, my nephew replied. He then went away to play with the adopted cat.

Nest

We always have a nest. A place where we are at “home”.
But when we leave a nest to fly to another nest, we leave things behind.

Memories of what we did and who we met.
Of those who we remember, who also left the nest to their next nest. Who when they left they were on their own and now they are more.

Returning to your own nest is on occasion claustrophobic. You have to reinsert yourself into lives that you abandoned a while ago. Frictions will arise when you treat what it was as what it is but then you realise that it is not anymore. You get relationships wrong, you get people wrong.

Your excuse is that life goes on.

You go on. Everyone else goes on. Politics change, roads get resurfaced, and new intersections are built. Some walls are repainted, and others remain with the same marks you saw a decade ago. You remember that shape you used to visualise when you were a child. The dog. The leaping frog. That gonk. The silhouette of your aunt Mary that made you laugh.

The relationships once broken and irreparable are suddenly fixed and thriving. All without your knowledge – how dare they! – but I find relief somehow. That what felt irreparably broken is now mended in one way or another. That despite the differences, they are now talking to each other because of something else that happened to their common link.

Meanwhile I fear that this will be the last of many. The maybe last time we see each other. Beyond my control, but either of us could have a heart attack tomorrow and leave this earth without having said goodbye as if we meant it.
But how are we to know? How can I say see you soon, meaning it, and yet making sure that I’m at peace?

What are we to do?

I think that the answer may lie on simplification.
Do not leave with an argument unsettled.
Say that you care or love the other person.
Speak the truth kindly and with compassion.
Be ready to get it wrong, and when you do, because you will get it wrong!, make sure you are ready to recognise it and be humble about it.

I am home. I am coming home.

Robin and Fox

I look after a little Robin.

He comes and goes as he pleases, of course. His freedom is paramount to my happiness.

He is not caged, yet he knows where to find me.
He comes to me and goes away, the same as I go away and come back. We do our business with each other and without each other, at different times and in different places.

We play and flutter near each other, and we share our food and our warmth with each other.

We make memories and we remember them.

We move together through time and space.

I am now going away briefly, but I will be back soon enough, my little Robin.

Oxford

I am on the train back from Oxford.

A partially successful visit for some business that will have an impact on, essentially, where I spend a chunk of my future.

At the same time the university was buzzing with students and students to be on their matriculation ceremonies. The first afternoon of the rest of their lives. Many of them already grabbing life by the bottle neck, taking control of their future by the neck, one gulp of freedom, student loan, maintenance grants, and cheap prosecco at the time.

Meanwhile, I stated into the windows of an empty flat, having travelled all the way from home, only to find that the proverbial key safe a) did not exist, b) did not contain a key to access the flat, and c) meant that I will have to return to Oxford at some stage.

A small treat for myself, apart from a decent burger and a beer, was the tote bag I bought from Blackwell’s. This will replace my old one that bring such bitter memories of the place that once was home. I am replacing the old with the new.

Like Oxford, my life seems to churn out the old and being in the new. The new blood to revitalise an old town, where dreams are built on dreams and bottle necks, and where new friendships are forged and lives are settled down.

I am paraphrasing here, but “he makes up for what he lacks by the dignity with which he carries what he has”. (clearly not my writing here!)

A pit of despair

I tend to avoid writing about politics, but in the current climate it feels unavoidable.

I am utterly crushed by the current situation in both the UK and the rest of the world. Wars starting on someone’s whim, people being imprisoned by countries on what are (what appears to me at least!) dictatorial laws taken from North Korea, and of course the populist Brexit discourse at home where we will discover new meanings of old things, like how far can we push civil rights, how much we can bend laws before they break, and how international treaties are simply seen as guidance.

I am not having a good time right now. I feel like going to live in a cave away from everywhere.

What else to say!

I am once again struggling with myself – to say or not to say, to make public what I endured or to simply keep it quiet?

I spoke to a friend recently whose father died not too long ago. She used that opportunity to express his nastiness and the abuse that she had endured. How he had ended, basically, a lonely, sad old man.

I have had a rough year. More so with someone else’s actions that directly affected me, physically, emotionally, and, in a way, financially.

I met someone today who has supported me in the past. We work in the same organisation but different departments/buildings. There is the daily pilgrimage to the local superstore to buy the standard lunch, so it was a chance meeting but not totally unexpected.

On the brief moments we spoke, she asked me how I was. I did tell her that I was happy.

 

She did say, new chapter, new life!

I can’t argue with that!

A bit of solitude…

Another long break on writing for which I apologise once again.

I am on the way back from a short weekend at Walsingham with the parish. The bus was significantly delayed on picking us up back from there, and I dread tomorrow morning.

Whilst I was not leading the group I feel like I need time on my own. Not to hear at every moment someone’s opinion on this or that. I am not complaining – I like hearing what people think about experienced I enjoy – but I am drained.

I look forward to a bit of solitude on the mundane. Solitude that doesn’t have to be on my own, mind you, but with my beloved. The silent understanding of each others needs. The nods and acknowledgements. The offers for tea and gin

The solitude of the spirit, accompanied by the beloved.

What more can I ask for?

Mayonnaise

I am watching some sort of programme about mayonnaise. How it’s made, and all that.

I have little interest for it, as I don’t care much for mayo. Apparently lots of people care a lot.

I am on the other side in another hotel tonight. Waiting for the 19:30 table reservation and on my final night (and the full day tomorrow) before getting finally home.

The view out of the window leads to an uninteresting flat roof and emergency exit. Does not beat the Tesco and green view from last night as I barely get to see the sky from the bed.

All in all, I wish I was home.

A way

Tonight is the first night I am spending away from home since a few weeks. It is however the first night I am spending on my own, without my beloved, but with my insecurities and my fears.

It doesn’t take long to recognise what we have quickly learned to get used to. And yet we forget, in an instant, when we are reunited.

We forget what we mean to each other. To what depths we grow accustomed to our presence and how quickly we realise that we could have spent another five minutes there. Another “I love you” muttered to the closing door. A further one to the white varnish of the door, as if it cared. The bouncing back of the echo, the words repeated back to me in the dark. The lash text message before the final goodnight.

Just one more.

And another.

Yet another?

No. You’re gone.

I will not feel you tonight. I will know you’re there, distant, and yet absent. Your warmth will be a memory as you are far away and it will be bleakly replaced by the genetic aircon at the local premier Inn.

The intimate joy of you, replaced by the comfortable predictability of the hotel chain. The homely comfort exchanged by the uncomfortable standard, known yet unwanted. Sufficient yet realising your absence.

Tonight I am on my own. For the first time since February. Four, five months, not alone.

Now, alone.

Goodnight my love.

I will see you soon.