Sainsbury ‘Basic’ Tortilla Chips because they are the closest thing to the tortilla chips I used to eat in El Paso Texas and they only cost £0.50 for a big bag.
Reading glasses from the 99p Shop seem to work OK and are great for people who lose their glasses or sit on them. Thank you!
Bicycles. Kirkpatrick MacMillan (1812-78), a Scottish blacksmith is credited with inventing the pedal-driven bicycle so we could get about for free.
Tooting Bec Lido is the largest fresh water swimming pool in the UK if not Europe. Unheated and open year round, it has become a focal point in the development and popularisation of cold water swimming in the UK.
South London Swimming Club swims at Tooting Bec Lido and ensures the Lido stays open and that the legacy of past generations is preserved for future ones.
H2Zoom digital recorder is the most incredibly generous piece of recording equipment that for just over £100 enables you to record your sounds and then process with free sound editing software from Audacity.
Garlic and Tomato Bread at Buona Sera restaurant in Clapham is the lightest, crispiest pizza base topped with a soft tomato and garlic sauce. A sensual delight, bigger than a plate and only £4.00.
The Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park always has interesting contemporary art exhibitions which are free and afterwards you can stroll to the lake for a swim with the swans and a nice cup of coffee in the Lido Cafe.
Open Mic at the White Lion on Monday nights. Everyone is very generous and the performances cover all genres and range from the sublime to the atrocious, compered by Al ‘The Bass’.
Soundcloud lets you post and share music. It provides amateurs with a place to showcase their work and network with other musicians.
Moleskine 18 month soft cover diary has that lovely quality feel and if you buy it in January (i.e. 6 months after it is released) you get it cheaper and you have 6 months of pages to use for notes.
Streatham Hillhas that nice mix of being near the center but by a park, full of interesting people but not too posh. It’s just a very very nice place to hang out.
Guitars. Infinite pleasure and enjoyment and if you have one on the road, someone is bound to come up and ask to play it. They are just wonderful things. And as they say, if you learn three chords you can play any song.
Wetherspoons pubs have a fantastic selection of beers that are well looked after and cost around half the price of beer in any other pub. What a great gift to the British man with a light wallet.
Writing a diary can relieve anxiety but the demons on the page may create new problems
I woke up at half past five feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. I felt like I had violated and trampled over the feelings of an innocent. But of course she is not always innocent and loving and I guess that is the problem. I remember her that way and I know that essentially she is a lovely person but …
Yes I can say that here in the early morning when anxieties crowd in on me. I did love and I still do. I think time operates on two different planes, just like consciousness. There is only the moment, ‘now’, there I just scratched myself mindfully before continuing to write, and there is ‘no time’. And in ‘no time’ my feelings have not changed.
Exorcising your demons
Writing is a great relief because it lets me give expression to the feelings and thoughts that would otherwise continue to run around inside the head; getting more confused and nauseous, the faster they fly. In this way they are decanted on to the page where they can be contained and shaped. But this has its own drawbacks as I have learnt.
First off, these pages may be found and read. And the demons troubling me then appear to be the essential me, frightening and confusing the reader. The second worry is that the demons, instead of being dealt with, are simply popped into a coffin in the cellar of the mind during the daylight hours, only to emerge as vampires in the darkness of the night.
When I first embarked on this path, I wrote that I felt ‘like a dead man walking’. And sometimes I still feel this way. I do feel – and maybe this is fact or illusion based on my Christian upbringing – that I have sinned. No amount of justification really seems to make any difference to the way that I feel at present.
When I was a young boy at boarding school, the headmaster Mr McNeill would have naughty boys come to his study. We would attempt to evade responsibility and chastisement by saying things like ‘I only just …’. He would have none of it. There was the fact of the transgression and yes, the story behind it; but the story was not really important. He used to say, ‘If Paris was the size of a pea, you could fit into a jam jar!’
Even now as I write and frame my current feelings with past experience, I get a sense of acceptance and peace. The fact is that this piece of paper and pencil can comfort me. And that is a great relief for a man in torment.
Cut off all useless thoughts
Torment? Well yes. So many things that were merely myth and legend have now become reality. I relate to Prometheus whose guts each day are eaten by an eagle or a vulture (as if it matters) and then repaired during the night in preparation for the next day’s torment. I have felt that terrible gnawing in the stomach. And the vampires! In the night they do come out and suck on one’s very life essence, leaving one pale and listless the following day.
At these moments I wish I could turn back, that I was a bigger man and that I could have ‘stepped up to the plate’. Really engaged with my problems and if not quite put things right, at least not made them worse. But I didn’t and perhaps on another level there was something wrong which could only be changed this way.
Perhaps I can throw of the blame. What is happening is karma; as action follow thought, so thought follows action. ‘Cut off all useless thoughts and the way stand clear and undisguised’ is a line from a Zen text by Hsin Hsin Ming called Affirming Faith in Mind. I’m hoping he’s right.
I wrote this for two reasons; the first because the act of writing brings my mind under control. It is like getting the dog on a leash. The dog still pulls and strains but it doesn’t run off and get lost or attack other dogs. The second reason is habit. For a year I followed ‘The Artists Way’, wherein you rise every morning and write without fail three sheets of A4. It doesn’t have to be anything in particularly and often what I wrote was gibberish. But it was practice and I think very strongly that it taught me to write.
And perhaps it also changed me, gave voice to parts of my being that were concealed or as yet unrealised. And when my partner came to read my mind on the those A4 sheets, she didn’t like what she saw.