Independence & Cycling

 

I would apologise for the lateness of this latest post but I won’t because anything posted between the last one and now would have been quite boredom-inducing…

So summer’s come and gone (not about to break into song), and for the first time I’m going to teeter on the brink of Political Discussion. It was inevitable: if you live where (or near where) I live, there will be no avoiding the Scottish Independence debate. Feelings are running very strong all over the place and the campaign is getting ever more intense, with only a couple of weeks to go in order to decide which box to tick on the big day.

The best indicator of the ante being upped significantly is the amount of physical leaflet-y material coming through the door almost daily. Thankfully I live in an area where the predominant feeling is one I generally agree with, otherwise I’d be getting very uppity almost every day. However much of the campaign – particularly on the “yes” side – has been propelled by online activity.

For a recent writing project for a new website, I chose to air my own view on the whole thing, with the hope of helping to convince people that they do still have a chance to sway the vote, no matter how much propaganda to the contrary is being flung in everyone’s collective face:

http://writertown.com/how-social-media-can-sway-the-vote-for-scottish-independence-2/

What else… apart from reading, “gathering inspiration” for my writing, and quite a lot more Netflix than is healthy, I’ve been trying to resume cycling. Without a motivating influence to keep pushing myself on, it’s been quite a bit more difficult to ride for very long, or even find a good reason to do so in the first place. However I am trying not to slide into apathy, and will make a point to find somewhere interesting to ride; to enhance the novelty value, preferably somewhere I haven’t been before.

Here are a few pics of the latest solo ride:

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A bridge en-route which I took a photo of instead of crossing…

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Bird wire-sculpture

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Apple tree at the train station, which I was unable to pick at the time

 

Later that day I tried to make a pie; sadly, these were not made from apples from the apple tree above…

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Writing Update

In order to celebrate the summer solstice (since I can’t make it to Stonehenge and I would probably never find the place anyway) I’d like to draw attention to some more stuff I’ve been working on.

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View from my abode – love that midnight sun

#1 – My latest fling with some verse*

*Now has its own page on this site: “Meta-lite”

#2 – An extract from my new work-in-progress short story “Spin”, inspired by the legend of Arachne:

Before I really understand what I’ve taken on, I am unceremoniously set to work at the loom, with a different, much lower, stool to sit upon for the purpose.

I really have to reign in my recurring impulse to embellish the tapestry in my own way. I am given strict instructions not to “deviate” from the pattern. She has it all planned out for the big day.  I look at the picture, already becoming clear to see, of a young devout man, and a young devout woman – separately – imploring the gods to grant them a wish I cannot decipher from the clues provided here. This is followed by a cluster of young men and women enjoying each other’s company in an entirely wholesome way, then a flock of birds soaring over a field of wheat and grain.  The tapestry ends, rather abruptly, over the face of a young maiden (I don’t know if it’s the same one as the first one but she has a different expression on her face), and this is where I have to take over and finish the tapestry. It is around this point that I realise that I have not actually been provided with a “pattern”, per se, but the instructions were explicit nonetheless, to finish the tapestry in a way that is fitting. They have obviously credited me with barely enough common sense to finish the pattern more or less by repeating what has come before.

Each time I return to the tapestry, I re-evaluate what I have to do next, and it changes only a little each time. Mostly, I try to recreate what has come before – groups of young men and women enjoying a chaste gathering, flocks of birds, trees and bushes, houses, basically anything inoffensive.

I begin by finishing the girl’s face and body. She is perhaps too symmetrical to be realistic but better that than imperfect – or ugly.

I soon find that this is too easy, but at the same time it’s too hard, too boring to do this all day every day. The temptation to alter the pattern, to add my own flourish, is getting stronger each time I sit down to face the loom once again. I fantasise about making the silliest and boldest changes to the tapestry; having the young man yawning whilst praying, the young woman’s strand of hair coming a little loose, the lambs bouncing around the field, the birds “depositing” on the house below, one of the young men giving a sneaky pinch to one of the  young women… but each impulse I only barely manage to suppress, falling in line with the prescribed pattern.

This task has taken a few days, as I’ve been called away from the project several times to attend to some other chore in the house. I am going to give myself the gift of something of my own.

 I set to work, barely thinking about each motion I go through in my sequence which I’ve taken many years to learn to perfection.

Eventually the tiny threads converge to make a rainbow-like string, strong enough to catch the light, yet delicate enough that I barely felt it when I placed it along my wrist, allowing myself to imagine what it would be like to be allowed to wear such a thing, such a thing that wouldn’t snap and flutter away if caught on something.

It just barely covers the mark made upon my wrist many years ago, which although faded with time. It is now covered with something of my own making. Almost. Not quite.

 

Happy pagan dancing!

I Will Take Up Running One Day

Posted on October 4, 2013

Recently I’ve been trying – trying – to get into running. Properly, not just jogging a little bit here and there, which I usually end up doing…

It strikes me as one of the physical activities that comes most naturally from a human perspective, and I’ve read enough blogs about people taking up running, and positively gushing about how addictive it is and how it’s changed their life, etc.

I’d genuinely like to get in on that, if possible. I want to find a form of exercise that I enjoy and that is relatively affordable and provides an outlet for stresses of the more mental variety, which I could really use. Plus, I actually do voluntary stuff for a fitness website, so I’m coming into ever-increasing virtual contact with people who have found that spark, either recently or a long time ago, and appear to have found their calling.

I even joined a running group in the hope that I would catch on too. I imagined myself as a writer who runs, or a runner who writes, something akin to Haruki Murakami, or Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal website, or an ordinary vegan fitness junkie, like the people on the aforementioned fitness website. I could be one of those!

But it’s just not happening.

I don’t know why it’s turning out this way, but every time I step out the door ready for a run, (if I even get that far in the first place), a wave of what I can only describe as cringe engulfs me. The cringe results in thoughts popping into my mind which discourage me from running right from the get-go; I’ll not even be able to run that far without having to *shame* slow down to walking, right in front of everyone; I look like an utter moron (even though lots of other people are doing it I am the only one whom the spotlight of moron shines down upon, goes my thinking); I have no business being out here; TURN BACK AND GO HOME…

In the safe realms of my imagine I am running, sprinting, skipping, free. But in reality I am a shrivelling ball of cringe who cannot think its way out of this state and just get the hell on with running.

Everyone else is doing it so why can’t I?

The only solution I can think of to get out of this cycle is to locate a “way in”. I will keep a close eye on the “world of running”, and one day I will spot a space in a group, which I will sneak into as stealthily as I can, and at least I’ll simply be blending in.

Then I can focus on the more serious business of running for fun.

:(

Posted on February 23, 2013

Boy did I jinx the hell out of my last posting.

The Amsterdam deal was a scam, we ended up cancelling and are now back to square one (#firstworldproblems is what you’d be quite justified in calling this issue but hey this is my venting space).

Still itching to go away somewhere (or indeed anywhere but here) as soon as possible; whether it’s a genuine lust for adventure that’s brewing within me, or simply an increasing despondence with where I live, or something else entirely, I’m really not sure. Maybe it’s all of the above.

I wonder if a “moral of the tale” can be drawn here – or if it’s simply a case of shutting up and moving on. I’ll probably just do that anyway. With a sulky face.

On Yer Bike

Posted on February 17, 2013

Dear reader (whose existence I am still somewhat doubting), some things have indeed been happening of late.

I continue to write daily, although usually in micro-doses which over the course of the year so far has probably barely amounted to a page – I. Need. Direction. Because. I. Suck. At. Creating. My. Own. Direction.

I’ve landed a paid gig creating quizzes for learners of English as a second language. The work has been a bit on the sporadic side, but it’s still something. Significant other has also landed a new job at an old workplace but in a new position. Things have progressed for both of us in that respect recently, just a matter of seeing if things continue to go swimmingly.

Having been generously bought a shiny new road bike, of course it would have been rude not to take it for a ride, so that we did today. It took some getting used to, to say the least, and there were a few definitely hairy moments, in which I came uncomfortably close to veering into the path of an oncoming car or lorry due to not being able to pull down on the brakes properly because my hands are just too tiny and I was skittish on my new bike… but that aside, it was good to be back out on the bike, and it was a rather nice day – but I’m not sure whether my beloved one would say the same thing, having not been able to take a more challenging uphill route and really get the old gears going. Sorry.

There’s the chance that we’ll be going to Amsterdam for a day in the near future. Yes, a day, and no, not for the reasons one might imagine  It should be an interesting excursion, if only to see just how much we can possibly fit in, and well worth writing about I’m sure.

But for now, a full recovery from the exertion of the day is on the agenda, along with a gamely attempt to keep up the momentum on what’s been going on.

Happy New Year. Yes I Know It’s Late.

Posted on January 15, 2013

I didn’t even bother to make any proper resolutions this time.

Either they fall apart quite spectacularly (leading me to regret ever announcing them,  like I had a chance of following through with any of them, in the first place) or indeed following them so ardently, and to the letter, that I end up turning myself into some kind of automaton gone into overdrive – which doesn’t really benefit anyone, least of all me…

Alternatively, I’ve just made an understated pledge (quietly) to just “get on”; that is, with whatever that comes my way, what simply won’t go away in the first place, and new things which latch themselves helpfully onto the back of the line.

Still being an unemployed graduate with far more free time than I deserve, I’ll at least try to return to this space every now and again and post something that differs a bit more from this one.