It isn’t enough

I wonder what drives me and others to want more. Why is it that we are never quite satisfied with what we have. With alcohol its easy to see why. Even though I can barely tolerate the stuff with my medication, there are some beers that just are too nice to only have one of. Peroni in its natural environment of Italy with sunshine and beautiful people is my current beer of choice, and of many other people too, it would seem, as it is available all over the place.

Have a look at the Peroni site that shows a life style I would like. The colour, the style, the beauty. Yes, it is an advert and you need to confirm your age because its an alcohol related site but there is art and fineness that is so much more than a product sell.

peroni-logoI have also found a mixed fruit Copperberg to go rather well with a meal. I always want another though. That could be though, because the alcohol makes me lose some control.

Loss of control is, I fear, to be greatly feared. Without control and discipline the world does not sink into anarchy but depravity and selfishness. Anarchy appeals to me in the sense of freedom and non imposed restrictions, but accompanying that is personal accountability and responsibility for ones own actions. That seems to go out of the window for those that indulge the demon drink.

So when I want a new car I go through the process of I like it – I want it – I must have it – but I am constrained by practicality and budgets. When I want another beer I am restricted to what is going to be what I can get away with whilst taking my medication. Pets on the other hand ….. I like dogs. I used to have one many years ago but I think I could do better by one these days. Now there will be those who know that I already have a wife. My wife and a Dog would not be compatible apparently. I also have a cat and a hamster and 2 quail and 3 fish (2 fewer than when I started writing this) and 5 chickens and they are not very compatible with a dog either. Really I would like a zoo or a farm. I am constrained though by budgets and the fact that I am a marginally better programmer than farmer. I have a wife who was talking about a pet lamb this week so maybe if I win the lottery that is what we could do. (update – maybe next week as it did not happen this week – will update when it happens
( I did win a prize in the raffle for the third time in a row this last week at weight-watchers (think many jealous ladies)-see below)).

So when is it that I will have enough pets. I find them fascinating and really enjoy watching their behaviour with each other. I envy them their simple (though somewhat confined in most cases) existence. They are fed and watered and most will feed from my hand ( a bit awkward to teach fish that trick ( – maybe that accounts for the dwindling number)). They laze around in the sun or shade. Those that can, go outside to explore and sit in the sun and avoid those who are outside that constantly try to come in the house and those who are not allowed outside constantly try to escape. They get on in a tolerant way, Cat looks at hamster and quail and is not that bothered by them (she knows there are free range mice in the shed). Quail looks at cat and is bothered but does not move in case. Hamster is not bothered about anything because it’s always bed time. The chickens are all happy because there are newly planted plants to dig up and veg patches and houses to get into.

Cat always wants more ‘cat treats’. Chickens want more sunflower seed treats, but generally all their needs are met. Even the children seem fairly satisfied with their lot, as long as one doesn’t get more than the other, and there is something to eat in the fridge, which there always is , but sometimes I just want something nice……

I have joined Weight Watchers ( I still call it Fat Club which I think gives it more ‘street cred’ for those that like that kind of film) . It has been a mental hurdle to get over but I do have to admit that I need to have had enough of being overweight (I am fat, obese,enormous, etc…) I have lost a good 8 pounds in 3 weeks. Excellent but I need to keep at it. I have no idea what I really need to lose but its a huge amount. Bordering on the weight of a small child(orang utan), or big dog (not a reference to Rolf Harris – shame on him). It is hard though because I am a naturally greedy person.

Being overweight makes exercise and pain control difficult. But I need to lose the weight to reduce the pain and to be able to get out and about which is one of the few things I can say that I do actually enjoy. I was told that I could have a dog if I went for a long walk every day but that I don’t think could happen. So I have to say to my self that I am trying accept I have enough pets. I have to accept I have enough food on my plate. At some point I must have accepted I had enough Vinyl LP’s, but could I throw them out? – no. I have enough children, cars, bedrooms, sheds, holidays, I have had enough of work by 5pm. I have to desire to lose weight because I will still be heavy enough whatever I weigh.

My depression is such that I think I need things, or more of them (old or new) to cheer me up, but I am wondering today whether less would be enough and actually what I should be aiming for. I have always thought and believed that I did not need the big house, second home, high paid job and fast car. I would like them but I know I don’t need them. I know that I don’t need those ‘things’ for happiness. What I am thinking of is in terms of do I need 4 sausages or should 3 not only be enough but better. Do I need electric recliners on all seats on the new suite? – no. I don’t need, it’s enough to have a new suite, (with reclining chairs) but the settee where I will sit doesn’t need that. I want to be happy (or even just not miserable) and having an electric reclining sofa will not make me happy. Having a new suite to replace the old broken second hand one we have had for 10 years that collapsed under my weight will, I hope, because at least I will be comfortable and not sitting on unfixable broken springs. So having less does not mean not having new. That’s a new thought for me. I have had a lot of old or second hand stuff over the years, and I think that’s important to re use and re purpose. But I don’t need to keep the old broken thing when I replace it too. And that’s a new venture and thought for me. I need to get rid of the broken things, the duplicates, the just plain unused stuff and have less, I am never going to use them or repair them and having the old stuff is not helping my restart, because I see things and feel down because I’m not using them or repairing them, then I feel guilty, and need to buy more stuff to cheer myself up.

To cheer myself up I don’t need more but I actually need less, as a reward I should maybe treat myself to getting rid of something, and start to take back control of what I can.

Had a bad day? – throw something out. Gained weight? throw out old clothes that don’t fit. Stubbed a toe on an old computer? – skip it, its never going to be useful to have, its never going to come back in fashion, it will never be a valuable antique, it wont even look good in the garden as a sculpture, No one else would want it, getting depressed about the passing of things is not a way to my happiness. I need to let them go into the void that is the wheely bin, no matter how good or expensive they were at the time.


What’s Going On Just Does Not Make Sense

Many years ago when I first moved to Teesside there was an incinerator for household rubbish. A place to visit and dump off the garden waste and unwanted bulky items. It stank and apparently was not good for the environment, so they replaced it with a new one. This is not better because now I have to lift my rubbish up into a skip rather than let it ceremoniously drop into a pit of foul-smelling detritus.

Where it used to be is now an ‘environment’ i.e. it is so contaminated they can’t do anything with it except let it be a wild place. It is next to a marsh and is very pleasant, wild and overrun with small wildlife. Natural native wild plants (weeds to most people) are in abundance. I like it.

I have tried to make my garden more sustainable , green, organic, a place to be. Last winter it flooded and was under water for weeks which seems to have killed off much of the green stuff around the edge of my weed patch. So I have planted, and been digging and making drain ditches and raised beds and placing sculptures, a chicken coop and fruit trees and Spring bulbs. I have been busy, I like it.

Chickens in the Garden
Chickens on the crazy path

I invested in the unused for some time trampoline. I have learnt to call it up-cycling, is it cheaper to just buy a new greenhouse, or does the Heath Robinson approach or Stig of the dump make the artefact a more valued item, I think it does. My green house is a sort of polytunnel, or a bothy or a den or a place to be. Imagine a trampoline inverted with polythene wrapped around. I will grow tomato and other plants in the spring.

standing stones
standing stones

I made a rock and stone sculpture out of 4 bits of stone, two are straight vertical straight sided columns and two are round boulders all stood on end. I made it out of rock I had. I created art. The moss on it is growing and it is good.

My coin log is gaining in value slowly. It takes a surprising amount of effort to bang coins into a log but the effect is very pleasing and what else to do with 1p and 2p coins?

coin log
coin log

Our cat died after 17 years of inactivity and sleep. She will be missed so I bought a sculpted stone of a sleeping cat and placed it in her place in the sun in the Buddleia hedge. Its nice but sad. Our new cat brings us home-grown mice as a present from our garden. Life and death is natural, unregulated.

I think next door saw me doing things and realised that their garden had also died. The previous owners used to have vegetables and a great growing garden which I envied – but did not have the enthusiasm or will to try to emulate. When they left the garden went downhill and has now been skipped. Almost everything has been replaced and it is now a manicured, raised and contoured uniform green surface with a curvy path that is smooth and even and fit for a visiting queen should she wish to meander down. I hate it. It’s not natural, it might as well be artificial turf so far as i can see. It took an army of smoking garden gnomes over two weeks to construct it. Yes, its finished, whilst mine will be years before I am done. I cannot begin to think how much it would have cost. And no queen is ever going to be allowed to walk mine anyway. I like my crazy paving I rescued from where someone had dumped it on wasteland and not next doors immaculate seed catalogue quality garden path, I am proud of the fact there is chicken poop on mine, but there is a lot of it. My path has different textures and wild natural plants (yes weeds) mosses, lichens, tiny little plants with little blue flowers. I cut my lawn two times this year, as mostly the chickens seem to keep it roughly in order. Nice dandelions and daisies. Next door man seems to spend roughly 2 hours every other week trying to shave his green into an undulating weed free cricket square. I like to sit and watch. When he’s done I give the chickens a handful of bird seed.

the rough end for veg
the rough end for veg

I used to think gardening was such an old person thing, but it occupies the mind and body, something to value, something to like, its partaking of nature and the world. I like doing things on my own scale in my own time without the need to rush or complete or get it right, I can experiment, then move on and learn, re-use re-purpose stuff. I do it not to get something for nothing or even to invest but to just be somewhere where i can influence something, even though i know i cannot govern entirely a plant’s growth nor can I determine every outcome, like whether the chickens will just eat what I planted whilst I put away the tools I used. Flowers and plants and chickens do their own thing, I need to not be defeated, and I am not, because it doesn’t matter. I dug a hole and got out some clay, one day I will make something with it, when I need to, like a neolithic man. It’s building sand castles and watching them be washed away, it’s ultimately pointless but I like it.

Gandhi said “Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it”.

I think doing things in the garden helps me, in a world environmental context it is pretty small stuff, even the land of the former incinerator is, but it is important to me.

I was putting my pills into separate day compartments, I suddenly felt the liberation from having to put the right day’s pill in the right hole and from having to stick with the printed days in order on the box, I prefer Monday to Sunday So I wrote the days in that order, but if i put 7 pills in 7 compartments I no longer have to put the right pill in the right compartment and match them up. That freedom comes from what I think my garden teaches me.

A different neighbours new dog got into the garden and chewed off the tail of one of the chickens the other day. It was distressing but natural, it’s what a dog should do in its own world. The chicken is not very happy about it, the others no longer let it sit on their perch because it is different. It preens the remaining half feather and avoids the others who peck at its very sore bald patch. It looks depressed and I know how it feels. It is alive though and it lays eggs and carries on because thats what chickens do.

I think there is a need to try creative expression and to have the freedom to do….whatever, without constraint or requirements or what other people think for maintaining or achieving good mental well-being. 

I’m not doing it for money or recognition or compliance or to copy/ imitate or make a point, or statement, but just to feel good and in control or to cope with not being in control. It’s not a bad reason to do it and my little garden world helps me cope with the bigger world a bit.

Society is though, under law and there are standards and rules and the need to conform.  These standards are confusing to me because they are not right or uniform and don’t match with what I am used to. Something big is wrong with the world out there, and I think that is what impacts unhelpfully upon how I feel.

I came across this story at man-sets-himself-on-fire-at-national-mall/

One day after Washington, D.C. was locked down….Park Police say a man set himself on fire in the middle of the National Mall.

Witnesses told NBC’s Washington affiliate that they saw a man “pouring gasoline on himself, then setting himself on fire.” Nearby joggers stripped off their shirts and attempted to douse the flames, while others called the police.

The man was airlifted to a hospital, though there is no word yet on his condition.

So why set yourself on fire? why do that? I don’t understand. Why take pictures of it,? You would not want to remember it. But if it’s happening maybe you should not be criticised. To set out to film it is wrong to me, I would not go and film a friend doing it. If I happened to be there though what would I do, there were those that filmed WTC jumpers in New York (9-11) and Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashing in Paris in 2000 and Phan Thi Kim Phuc with Napalm burns in 1972 Vietnam, the buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc 1963 in Saigon, children starving in Biafra, asian and Japanese earthquake Tsunami, the list goes on. These images stay in the public conscience and in mine. They tell the story better than the words of the journalist.

There are degrees of freedom in society, there are the restrictions and some are compulsory, and some are compulsive. We have a nature in us that is voluntary and habitual. There are states or quantum levels between voluntary and what is mandated by law. It’s too hard to understand though why it is ok to show an image of a man burning himself, but in that harsh image see a need to pixelate the image or words on his shirt. It seems unlikely it was a subversive message. Even if it was, so what? Is the story that someone took a photo or video the story and not why it might be that someone set themselves on fire. Maybe it was a logo and the manufacturer might be tainted? What is really offensive? What is really what should not be shown. Were the people who put out the fire doing the right thing? Why the Police? Should he be arrested? Surely Fire or medical service is a better option? These things become the story not what the man did it for.

What should really not happen and what should be controlled and what should be free. Some levels of restricted behaviour are self-imposed and voluntary, some of us are unnecessarily harsh on ourselves.

I object to a society that condemns a man for doing such a thing. I also condemn a society that makes someone feel that is a way to go. I really do not understand the need to censor. I cannot comprehend the passion or strong feeling that could drive someone to such an action.

I can not cope with that world, it is too awful and harsh and makes no sense to me. The man’s gesture is pointless to the world and is obscured by the trivia surrounding the story but perhaps his actions were important to him.

I like the natural and free range world in my garden.

That’s all I can cope with and it is important to me.

My weight is within my ideal range. (for an Orag Utan)

Ok I have to

admit (yet again) I am fat, not obese or overweight or some other fancy phrase. I am not comfortable and this is mainly due to the large belly in the way. I did quite well before Christmas. But then the allure of the mince-pies and the Stolen and the c and biscuits was too much. I have put much of it back on. I reached an impressive  124 Kg. top weight and got down to 118 Kg. I am now 120 Kg. and determined to go down again.

Fat Orang Utan
weight loss – it ain’t easy for some.

I think there is something in the air about winter, the cold and dark and general feeling of being fed up with Christmas coming around yet again that makes me eat. But I have a while before the next one. I am not active but did see the benefit of the loss. Putting it back on has made me not give up but realise that it is the little inconveniences that have returned. Like trying to tie shoe laces and straining my shoulder getting up out of bed.  Like having the cat jump up and sit on top of my belly-blubber. Like my shirt not being long enough to tuck in because it has to take a detour, and there being no room to tuck it in either.

I eat very healthily, but I also eat unhealthily aswell and for me I think that is the problem. There is very little I really don’t like. Tuna, Salmon, cheap mince, undercooked rice, dead cabbage and sprouts that have been boiled to mush.

I like my food laid out properly on the plate, not an amorphous mass of gunge, leg of lamb with mint, veg and a little potato separate is the way it should be for me with roasts and Yorkshire pudding on top and a little gravy but not all over.

I went out for lunch the other day and the only thing wrong I could fault it on was that the gravy had been lashed all over the crisp topping of the corned beef pie. Apparently I should have looked for the things I liked about it , but that is not where I was on that day. Looking back the pots were hot , the pie crust had been crusty, and there was a good helping. As Gerard Hoffnung would say, I was well fed up.

It is just so annoying that liking food and having a healthy appetite seems now to be inconsistent with my needs to stay mobile and not die soon.

I know there are lots in the world who can not afford to or do not get enough. I can and do, but must not. It is one of those first world problems. Like having horse in your burgers. So what if its horse or cat or dog, as long as it is cooked and comes with a nice salad, spiral spicy chips and cool drink of Pepsi-Max, followed by pancakes and maple syrup with ice-cream and a cup of tea to follow with a few custard creams.

I see other fat people either on the way to work or around town, (and boy have those people in Bishop Auckland, like me got to realise soon) and I see them waddling or with legs splayed and knees locked to try to support the massive weight. I look down on them and wonder why they let themselves and their children get like that, but the fact is that I too am not far off that. I disgust myself each time I dare to look in the mirror, and being depressed that makes me go further down and think of eating again. I must not and it is hard.

I am ‘fortunate ‘ in having my own live in ‘weight watcher’ leader. To inspire me and help me. The current thinking of that organisation is all about food being too available.( We see an advert as we whizz through the recorded  TV, it gets to the programme , we pause it and then go hunter gathering in the fridge). I also have a daughter who is gazelle like and sons who are a healthy athletic shape. So I am the odd one out by a wide way.


When on an all-inclusive holiday I lose weight though, because it is warm and sunny and don’t feel like eating too much even though I eat and drink plenty.

So I would like to order a side salad of sunny spring followed by a long hot summer and mild autumn so that I feel like wearing shorts and T-shirts and get over the winter SAD and blues.

I would like work to become not so much of a stress but a great place to go and be creative and appreciated. For my relationships with others to be warm and sociable, and money to come rolling in faster than I can spend it – ( maybe I could afford lipo-suction then).

I need to make sure that I don’t continue the cycle, so I can do more and lose weight and feel better. My ideal weight is in the 80 Kg region, I have not been that weight since 1981. I aim to get under the target though of 100 Kg which is what I was in 1998 and was trying to lose weight.

Cup of Tea now I think and some of those buns with a cherry on top of the icing  would be nice.

Life, Don’t Talk To Me about Life….

There was a time many years ago in a land far, far away when I was a child, some argue I still am, but only on occasions. For me that was 45 years ago. But it doesn’t seem a long time. Then I had priorities, like learning to swim , or swim a length so I could get a ‘Dinky’ toy as my reward, or swim faster than Peter C. or as far as I could to get the next badge. It was not a conscious thing just a clear goal to aim for.

Mini Marcus for 100yds
Mini Marcus for 100yds

A little while later I noticed that some girls, who up until that point had been an upside-down, purple-knicker-displaying, hand-standing, mystery, were becoming even more so and were getting funny bumps on their chest. They continue to remain a mystery on the whole, even now, when most my age no longer do hand stands against the wall, but I understand the science well enough.

I still notice the bumps, I noticed some the other day, I was driving along and they were on display in some girls bedroom with the curtains back and the light on in the dark and everything was on display. I couldn’t help but notice them and neither could my 15 yr old son. In unison we said to each other ‘did you see that’. I never have before and nor am I likely to again, unless passing that way again….

All that is natural, and when growing up it seems like getting one of the mysterious creatures, and being able to call it ‘my’ girlfriend occupied a disproportionate amount of energy and time. I never really did, because I was too shy and awkward. I think I was a ‘good catch’ in many ways (but i am delusional at times), I was and am a mixed up cookie, so not to the taste of the mainstream perhaps, at least I am loyal and faithful and I have ‘my’ wife, who is perhaps the only one who could have put up with me for these last 30+ years.

As a couple we had each other and spent a lot of time with each other , going out together, decorating and ‘nesting’ , it wasn’t a conscious thing, we just did it. We then discovered the rabbit instinct and produced 3 offspring. Each time they were the focus, they were the drive , they were what it was all about. We had a nice home, 30 years later we are still here, we have had another 2 have come to join our family. We adopted them and they were the focus for some time helping them overcome their abuse.

I have clinical depression. I look at the events of life and try to come to terms with my aging, work, stress, loss, health, changing moral landscape, injustice, world peace and my inevitable death etc like others with the same state of being. I hope it is just a phase that like others in my life passes and leaves an impression.

confused and lost

Someone I knew through church and have known for over 20 years died recently. I liked her. Being depressed though, I am numbed by the medication and, she was oldish, so I struggle to feel the loss. But I think she will be missed. Janet was a lively, happy, devout, magistrate, Samaritan, mother, wife, general synod member. I admired her. Going to her funeral is one of those many things that in my current depressed state I am finding a burden, a barrier and a hurdle. I don’t want to go, I probably wouldn’t be missed, it is not going to be a happy thing. I find religion and all its trappings now to be one of those phases I went through, it feels now like it occupied a disproportionate amount of energy and time, but not so at the time. So I have no thoughts of going for religious reasons.

I stumbled upon an article “Always Go to the Funeral” It made me think I will. It is ‘right’ a ‘good’ thing to do and yes it is inconvenient for me, but so is everything at the moment. I agree with the author, she is right. To only do things because they make us look good or make us happy or because they gratify ‘ourselves’ is not the only reason to do something, putting ourselves out a bit is inconvenient, but so what, so is having to put stuff in the loft when I want to just sit.

So as a child I had things like toys to aim for, as a teenager it was a girl, then moving on it was a wife then kids, then houses and cars and jobs and promotion. All much as others do. The Christmas letters of our friends always seem to be about the same sort of things we were doing at the time too, others seemed to be doing it so much better that we were, but I doubt it was really so. Aiming for and achieving these things is what drives and rewards and makes life. I need something now to aim for, not self-seeking and self-satisfying like hobbies I have considered.

Perhaps it should be something that is not convenient and certainly something better than being dead.

Nope I don’t think so, thanks

The Cleansweep Assesssment point I am looking at now is

“I have fully forgiven those people who have hurt/damaged me, intentional or not.”

Well actually I haven’t. I don’t think I will either. I don’t want to.

There is this great thought in religion that says you need to seek forgiveness for sin. You need some other higher power to give it to you, or you need to ask for it, either because you do or don’t deserve it. Because it was freely given or earned or purchased.

So what do I need forgiveness for? Well I can think of a few things, but that is between me and the other party, on the whole I have ‘done the time for the crime’. It’s not between me and some Higher power. Other people yes, but not a supreme being, if such a thing were to exist.

I fail totally to see how such a fallible, useless and non active supreme being or higher power could ever give or sell to me forgiveness. What have I ever done against a Higher power. Nothing. I don’t want forgiveness. It is Null. A non concept. There is no thing or thought or act or possession or purchase or word or gift or theft that I can call to mind that I have done, or not done that could offend such a being or need their/his/its forgiveness. How could such a being possibly be capable of forgiving me for what I have or have not done to people.

What has that higher power done to me. Well I could say they gave or allowed or let me get testicular cancer at the age of 19. Why, I don’t know why such a power would. I can’t believe he/she/they/it would. So it just happened. Maybe I could blame my grandmother for giving me a highly radioactive watch. But other people get it and they didn’t get a radioactive watch. Even if it was 100% the cause, I couldn’t blame her. She found it, I was given it, no way would she have given it to me to cause harm, how could I blame her personally for it. The watch maker, no I am sure that they didn’t fully understand the consequences, anyway it glowed in the dark and sent the Geiger counter whizzing in physics lessons which was cool, it was way stronger than the radioactive sources we were supposed to be measuring.

I could blame a higher power for allowing my son to die. Or get shot. But it was the person with the gun that did it. Did a higher power allow it to happen or cause it or let it be. I can’t think so because that would simply be evil or malevolent. And what would be the point of being a higher power and being like that. We want a good one, not an evil one. It happened because of a chain of events that let up to it, and there was a gun and children involved, there was a specific act that was stupid and reckless, and it had deadly consequences. Rather than a Higher power forgiving that person it would have been better to keep Matthew alive. Surely if there was such a Higher Power they would have been able to intervene. So I don’t forgive a Higher power because I can’t blame them/it/he/she, because there was no higher power intervening or involved in any way.

So should I forgive the kid that shot Matthew. No, why should I. I understand how it happened . I know it could just have easily have been Matthew shooting him. I wish it had been then at least I would have still had Matthew. Should the kid seek my forgiveness. No I don’t want that, I want him to feel guilty every minute of every day till he dies. But I don’t think I am evil because of that. I want him to have children that he loves. I dont want retribution on his children. I just want him to know in the future the pain and agony and devastation he caused, and to realise how I felt as a father loosing a child.

Who should I blame for being made redundant. Myself for not pursuing qualifications that would have put me in a more marketable position. Do I forgive myself? No I don’t need to, there were reasons why I didn’t and I stand by them. It was right at the time, not to do that, because I had a young family, and I just have to live with it. No blame on anyone or thing.

The abuse of my adopted kids. Their birth parents did it. Their fault or just the way it happened? For my children to forgive not me. I benefit. I have them and see their successes I get to see them grow up. I don’t need to forgive anyone over that. What about my other kids, yes , I was not a perfect dad to them, but I did as well as I was able, as well as I had been shown, as well as the books I read told me to be. If it wasnt good enough, it wasn’t for effort.

Feeling depressed. Yes that has to be somebody’s fault surely. It can’t just happen. There has to be a cause and trigger that is someones fault. Well if there is, I haven’t yet found it. It is there, a decline in general well being, increase in weight, feelings of isolation, feelings of not being able to cope with daily things. What made me like this? I don’t know. Can I attach fault or blame? No. It’s just one of those things and trying to rationalise it or understand it is also ‘Null’ , void, without purpose, not real, valueless.

To seek out how to not need forgiveness from others is a worthy pursuit. If I could understand others and work for their benefit without selfish aims. If I could look for the best in others and rejoice in their success, (and not despise them for it or wish they too would suffer) then maybe I can start to heal.

At primary school a bully attacked me (and others) several times, until I dumped him over a small garden wall into a rose-bush. I hated him for years for the misery he caused me. He contacted me through ‘Friends re-united’ and asked for forgiveness. I suppose I have now. He was brave to do it. But I still hope he spent years beforehand in regret.

My police sergeant was a bully too. He was uncouth and ignorant. He set me up and let me fail. I can not forgive that. Why should I. Unless the act of forgiveness releases me to be more positive and make sure I don’t do that to others myself. I can not see that it does though. There are very few people I bear such a grudge against. Perhaps only 4 or 5 people in all of time that I could forgive and have not.

Perhaps they will seek forgiveness from their higher power. But that doesn’t benefit me. I still have the pain and anger. That doesn’t bring me down though. It makes me feel better to think that they are seeking forgiveness and not getting it – long may they suffer.

Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful

The title comes from the song by Kellie Pickler

On holiday recently in the Algarve, Portugal, it was warm in the sun. My wife and I ‘sans enfants’ sat by the pool of our hotel. There was a cool breeze and it was very pleasant to sit there for a while, drinking ‘Vodka Sunset’/coke. The breeze became a little chilly and so we moved and went a little way away from the main pool and found a sheltered little spot by the kiddies paddling pool. Being term time there were almost no children around the complex so we sat for some time just the two of us watching the ripples across the empty pool.

A mum and her little girl aged about 4 arrived at the main pool. The girl went paddling. We noticed her because she was naked. I think it would be difficult not to. To our British sensitivities, priggishness, and it being pretty much the anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance we commented on it between us.

The mum finding the main pool to be too cold brought the girl to the paddling pool, right in front of us.

So we faced a dilemma. Should we move away. It was embarrassing to have this little girl with no clothes on in front of us. But we were there first, we were out of the wind, in the sun. The mum brought the child whilst we were sat there and she didn’t seem at all bothered. The little girl was not bothered in the slightest. At this point I might have put a picture in here to break up the text and make the page seem a little more interesting, if I was talking about something else. But to have taken a picture of Bella would have been illegal and totally wrong, wrong in every respect because it would have been impossible to truly capture the magical moment without contaminating it, so this marvelous picture will have to do instead.

Beauty lasts for ever………Beauty lasts for ever

I still feel uneasy as to whether it was right for me to sit there whilst Bella played.

Maybe we should have moved on, or said something, maybe the mum should not have put us in that position, I do not know. No harm was done. We stayed. Had I been by my self I would have moved, maybe the mum would not have brought her. I was uncomfortable because I am a man, no, more than that, I think I am a gentleman. The rules and acceptabilities of England are questioned when in foreign parts, such is the joy of going abroad on holiday.

She was a delight. She was beautiful, perfect, she was herself and free, unencumbered by expectations, or shame, or shyness, or what people might think. She stood in the pool like a nymph. She lifted the water up in her cupped hands and threw it into the air where it fell upon her like golden rain in the sunshine. She stood lifting up her arms to the sun and sky standing there in a perfect pose just delighting in the warmth of the sun. Never has a child been so aptly named.

Occasionally she would dive under her mum’s T-shirt and get dry and warm by the side of the pool, cuddling and taking comfort and warmth. She would then re-emerge like a newborn and go back into her pool, smiling and laughing out loud as she re-experienced the chill of the water. It was not a sexual experience for me in any way, it was natural, delightful, free, and a mind picture that no camera or film could ever capture. A memory I hope to treasure for some time.

Eventually Bella and her mum went. We returned to our room and balcony and read a while in the early evening sun.

In the next room and balcony was a couple. They were loud. They were clearly aged in their sixties. They were from Glasgow, or near by. They had been drinking. A lot. They argued, laughed with that heavy smokers crusty wheezy cough. There was some guttural language exchanged between them, which seemed unintelligible to me apart from a few words with four letters. At this point you wonder, will they kill each other? Doors were slammed.

The next thing seemed to be the sound of some moaning and groaning, and swearing. Now, should you look around the balcony wall or over the wall, just to check whether the person was alright? We didn’t. The moaning became louder and more four letter words were said and it became apparent to us that there was some kind of activity, perhaps normally reserved for the bedroom, happening on the next balcony. Do you say, “can you keep the noise down, we are trying to read”. or cough politely so they know we are there, ignore it, think about it? laugh at it, pour a bucket of water over them?

It felt to me as though we were intruding, It was certainly uncomfortable for us. Not least because they were so clearly enjoying themselves with reckless abandon. But they were being natural, free, unencumbered by expectations, or shame, or shyness, or what people might think.

We went out on our balcony first, surely they must have known we were there? We were doing nothing wrong. If they wanted to do that whist we were there why should we be embarrassed. But we were.

We went in off the balcony and headed for the bar, leaving them to it.

It was something I do not want a photo of. It is a mind image I would love to erase, but thanks to Bella I have a much nicer mind image to try to remember.

What is beautiful and what is ugly, what is treasure and what is repulsive and why? I can’t control what happens, and situations do present themselves where I have no idea as to the ‘right’ thing to do. In the light of day and with hindsight it can still be hard to think what else I might or should have done.

There are some things I have seen and heard in my life that are so hard to forget, good and bad.

Like the images in my mind of what I saw when in the police force 30 years ago that still haunt my sleep, or watching my son die after being shot in the head and turning off the life support, or the man who got run over by a lorry, or the look on my parents face when the doctor told me I had testicular cancer. They are still fresh and horrific, some still make me feel sick to my very core, these bring me down, I wish I could forget them.

The few moments of extreme joy, like the birth of my kids and the look on their faces when they are presented with some token gift or award, or seeing Bella play, lift my spirits, and I need so many more of them to heal my mind.

The next day Bella had a costume on. Innocence was lost. We talked loudly to each other on the balcony. The Scots went inside…….

Art for Arts Sake

The next question on list of 50 questions that will free your mind I want to think about is

20.How do you feel about your home furnishings?

Most of the furniture is second-hand in my house. Yes, I am a skinflint that is not prepared to see my new leather settee shredded by the wretched moggy of the house. It will just have to be satisfied with the scratching of my old one.

The Cat as she sees her-self

The cat as she sees her-self

My bed is old now but still the most comfortable I sleep in. Whether on holiday or staying with friends, hotel or B&B it doesn’t matter, don’t take offence, but home bed beats all. It was given to us by my parents. Thanks.

My lounge settee is from brother-in-laws ex-buy-to-let. the table in the kitchen from eBay. Computers and laptops I use are mostly other people’s cast offs. I am saving up for a new one though.

The mantel clock is an old wind up 1950’s tick-tock bing-bong clock that never seems to show the right time. The one in the back room is right twice a day.

To other people, (am I bothered though) it probably looks old and dated, but its comfortable. Its tried and tested and when I spill my cup of tea it is no big disaster. I can clean it up and not worry if it did leave a bit of a mark (I ain’t bothered).

We have bought some pictures for the walls, but many of them are pre-owned. We like Judy Boyes

We have also a small flock of sheep in the garden to make us feel we look out onto fields, rather than suburbia.

Art and furnishings and carpets and knickknacks and the style of your own home space is totally subjective. There is no right or wrong (but it does need to be clean and maintained).

I like it, I don’t want to change, its comfortable and the way I think it should be, which is homely.

A good example I have come across and wholly relate to is the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Gammell vs. Helquist” some one thought it would be a good idea to change the art work, Why? they didn’t change the words. David Suchet is Hercule Poirot. Hugh Laurie is Greg House, and Arthur Lowe is Capt. George Mainwaring. Some things just should not change – ever.

I’m not sure I could cope with it if someone were to re-model and re-style my house. There used to be that program on TV. I think it was called ‘Changing Rooms’ they never seemed to make it better.

But if there is a kind benefactor out there that wants to have a go, I would appreciate a bit of advance warning, so that I could get used to the idea. We need a new suite, bed, decoration, computers, curtains, dining table, new cars and a holiday to go on whilst the work is being done. The kitchen is fine though.

Failing that I guess we will make do, and there are no complaints from me (I ain’t bothered).

Q. How many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb

A. Change?!!!