Christmas in the land of cuts

St Leonards on Sea
The Christmas tree. Somewhat depressing

I shouldn’t complain, I really don’t have the right. I’m lucky in that I live in a country where I’m not in fear for my life because I’m of the wrong tribe, religion or ethnicity. I’m lucky in that I’m not starving or having to walk ten miles to get a drink of polluted diseased water. And I’m lucky in that I have a roof over my head, some food in the cupboard, and an occasionally loving cat to stroke.

So why on earth am I moaning?

Human nature, perhaps. No matter how well off we are we always think we should be doing better. Perhaps Santa, rather than doling out another what-have-you, should swap us around for a day or two: you go to bed, fall asleep and wake up in a village in the middle of Somalia. Would I cope? Frankly, no. I’d like – in a very Hollywood action movie sort of way – to think I’d cope, but realistically I’d be screaming in terror.

Anyway, enough about my weird fantasies and onto the picture. Admittedly it’s at night and raining, but it’s not much better in daylight. A few years ago there were loads of decorations and lights strung across the street as well as a splendidly lit tree. Now, most of the shops have closed and the powers-that-be either can’t afford more lights for the tree or they’re worried about the electricity bill.

It’s 2013 and the must have gift is a tablet (not the pharmaceutical variety) whilst there are more homeless than ever.

It’s 2013 and the cost of living has gone through the roof, the population is growing at an alarming rate, there aren’t any jobs and yet (oddly) the unemployment figures are shrinking.

What will 2014 bring?


Possibly the best 19 minutes you’ll ever spend.

Like a lot of people I was brought up believing that in order to be successful you had to be a charismatic extrovert. Until puberty I was—at least I think I was. An extrovert, certainly. Charisma… probably not. Though I made up for it by rushing around being very loud.

Now, I’d definitely say I’m an introvert. I like my own company and that of a few friends (and books, and writing). I can’t tell a joke—or pontificate to an audience—to save my life.

Like a light being turned on, Susan Cain’s ‘The Power of Introverts,’ a TED lecture, explains.

Luckier Than You Think

Luckier than you think.


It would be fatuous to say anymore.

Bad Weather

Foul, foul, bleedin' foul, the weather was, today.

I had to go out and about this morning, as you do. Wrapped up to the nines I was, with fleece under Berghaus (note how I’m a groovy brand concious dude).  Anyway, sadly, said Berghaus only reached just past my groin and, though it’s entirely waterproof, the lashing rain had to go somewhere, that somewhere being my jeans. So, half sodden I was as I walked to get milk (can’t say cigarettes as I’m giving up).

Halfway down the hill – just by the cutting at the bottom of which is the railway station – the wind picked up. I had to cling to the railings for a couple of minutes as other pedestrians were whisked by me, up the hill, by their inside-out umbrellas. During this fence clinging episode I heard various crashing sounds, but thought nothing of them – you don’t do you? Gunshots I might have noticed, but even then, what with the wind and all, probably not.

So. The wind dies down and I continue walking. A little further down the hill, on the pavement, is a load of cement lumps and shards freshly blown off a building. Further on still and the entire signage for a grocery store lies across my path. I began to wonder, had I not clung to the railing for that short while, would I would have been mashed under it. Would I have become a lasting reminder of the decline of small grocery shops and foul British winter weather?

Two people were killed in weather today.


Solstice shadows

A shadow on the solstice

I’m generally a glass half full kind of chap, but when the summer solstice comes around I can’t help reverting to the ‘woe, woe and thrice woe, the year is over’ kind of mentality. After all, the sun has reached its zenith and is now creeping inexorably towards darkeness and the winter solstice –  its nadir. Sigh. 😦

I went on a splendid walk that took in the beach, the canal, the pill box and the valley inhabited by rabbits and sheep. Each has its charms and each is evocative in its own special way. The photo says it all, really.

Tomorrow I’ll be fine. It’s over and done with for this year and I can look forward to leaping around at the winter solstice as I persuade myself it’s instantly starting to get light again. Or, I could migrate between here and Australia and never have to worry again. 🙂



Bunker at Pett

I went for a walk yesterday and visited a bunker I’ve seen almost everyday for the two years I’ve lived here, but never actually visited. Admittedly, the main reason I’ve not been there is that the route takes you down a singular path, and the last time I walked it was to collect the body of my beloved cat, Cody.

The weather was lovely, the valley full of bleating sheep and their inquisitive lambs, and then you arrive at the hill. The hill is steep; goat steep. Luckily my sneakers had sole enough to get me to the top where I sat for five minutes to get my breath back and admire the view. It’s stunning – though you can’t really see it from the photograph.

Then I explored, and discovered another series of well hidden bunkers, too.

I sat musing, for half an hour or so, and what popped into my head was an idea for a short (1/2 hour) drama set in the bunkers after a global apocalyse. A small crew with digi gear and a small cast – maybe even a two hander. £5,000 – 10,000 and bob’s your uncle.


On the way home the sheep were especially bleaty as I disturbed them at rest on their sandy shelves, wind carved in the side of the hill. Getting home a while later I had a huge grin on my face and felt very positive: today, not so much as I face the fact that one doesn’t achieve without trials and toil. Ideas I can throw out ten a pound (inflation), but reality is different. Very.

Gaddafi’s world stage

Gaddafi's brief 'Top Gear' moment

Muammar al-Gaddafi, made a brief appearance (pictured) and later made a long rambling speech that was almost as odd as his son’s. There is no doubt that he is a true eccentric and presently as dangerous as a well prodded rattle snake.

From what I can see – and honestly, from my couch in East sussex, I’m hardly in a postition to comment – Gaddafi is not going to do a ‘Mubarak’. No, he’s going to go down will all guns (probably gold plated) blazing.



Ripples in time and space

I took this photo specifically for this blog: fired up the camera phone, threw the stone, and snapped the ripple.

But, and here I’m going to sound as if my head’s up my arse, it’s more than just a photo. It represents life. See? I told you: head up arse.

You’re born you live you die: drop stone – big splash – ripple starts … then fades away.

We’re all born with the ability to DO something with our lives, and yet most don’t. Some people, at a later stage, think about their ripples; a lot. Which is pretty much where I’m at.


Taken from the ISS

So what is it?

It could be a manipulated picture taken in a forest, perhaps. Or part of a fractal, or a coloured ice crystal. Like Esher’s art it facinates me – even though I know what it is. It seems like it might have been taken under a high powered microscope … blood vessels, maybe? It looks surreal, yet is all too real.

But no. It’s none of the above. It was taken by ‘Magisstra‘ (Paolo Nespoli) on the International Space Station and it is the Somalian Desert.

How insignificant we truly are.

Taken from the International Space Station

This photograph, taken by Paolo Nespoli from the International Space Station, shows the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket on top of which is the 20 tonne Johannes Kepler, an ATV (automated transfer vehicle) which will be the only supply means for the ISS once NASA stops flying the shuttle.

We may dream, we may conceive and write and make fantastic, mind-boggling science fiction; but we’re still stuck, here on earth. And we can’t afford to stuff up our only planet – after all, we have nowhere else to live. Do we?

Launch of the Johannes Kepler

Paolo Nespoli’s Flickr stream