Walking to the shops you have to cross a bridge at the station. This is what I saw parked up there on the Westbound platform. Now, I’m interested in many things, but trainspotting hasn’t been one of them, as yet. To be honest trainspotting (unless it’s of the Danny Boyle variety) will probably never interest me. But a train that is made up of strange looking bits, bobs, and pieces is interesting.
I was, for my sins, going to go and see what it did, but it moved off before I could get there. Fast. Perhaps it knew I was interested and gave me the proverbial finger – I don’t know if trains can be sentient, but it left just after I decided to have a gander.
It looks expensive, too. It has design, it has purpose, and it’s nothing like the cattle trucks we get to stand up in when we save up and buy a ticket. That train has a mission and I would dearly like to know what that mission is. Obviously, it’s not going to the stars, and it’s not on its way to the bottom of the Laurentian Abysmal, or up Everest. But whatever it is it does it might be momentarily interesting. Mightn’t it?
When you Live in town your personal space and allowed privacy is very, very different from when you live in the country. We’ve been living here, now, for nearly six months, and lack of privacy is axiomatic. Not that I gave it a second thought before we moved. Moving seemed sensible: rent was cheaper and, for me, the main draw was doing without the expense of a car – stupid me. Have you ever tried shopping in a supermarket and then walking home? No? I didn’t think so. It seems to me that cars have become a requisite wherever you live. Feeble, I know. But fact.
This post, from the 13th describes the surveillance camera that ‘appeared’ in the street to the front. The picture above is the view from the back garden door. Windows. Lots of windows, and more curtain twitching surveillance.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind – and if I did there’s bugger all I could do about it – but inside each and every window is a person. A stranger. A complete and utter total stranger who might be my next best friend … or might be an axe murderer. How do I know? And the truth is I can’t know, unless I traipse around and introduce myself and then I become the local loony. Or, my luck runs out and I vanish in a newly turned flower bed in said axe murderer’s garden.
I suppose this mild, bubbling, ever present sense of being perpetually observed, is paranoia. So I’m paranoid. Paranoid and proud! I wonder if there is some sort of multi coloured plastic wrist band I should be wearing that proclaims me?
So, the upshot is – and yes, this might possibly be paranoia speaking (or writing, as you do in blogs) – we are being watched from the street at the front by some bloke in a council office with a vast bank of monitors, and by those in the houses opposite. And then we’re being watched from the back by pretty much the same demographic, except the poor bloke from the council is missing out.
Moving back to the country seems eminently sensible, now. Far far out in the country where you need a serious 4 x 4 and the nearest possible ‘surveillance’ is a couple of miles away.
Living in Bohemia, as I do, I try to live an ever faithful ‘Bohemian‘ lifestyle. Sadly, silk dressing gowns, opium in hookahs, exploring interesting sexualities and oodles of laudanum – and so deliciously forth – are out, primarily because of the cold (outrageous, the cost of heating one’s pile, damned outrageous) and the illegality. I’d move to casablanca where it’s all possible, but Kamakura – the band I howl for – might complain, the cats certainly would, and anyway, gosh I ain’t got the dosh. Casablanca is not what it once was – and certainly not what Evelyn Waugh‘s Brideshead Revisited painted it as.
Erm … where was I? Oh yes.
Sissinghurst in the Weald is known as one of the fave retreats for the Bloomsbury set: Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, E.M.Forster et all. And so from one we meander to another, to the Sissinghurst Tea. Yes, by far the best thing to take your mind off being without your little luxuries, and being straighter than a die when trying to write opiated poetry and fiction, is a Sissinghurst Tea – the scrumptious and most mouth wateringly drooling part of which is pictured above (oh gawd how delish! Infact the jam was almost teetering on ruinous).
Without doubt a Sissinghurst Tea makes for a truly magical, sensual, and creative afternoon – though for an ‘official’ tea you do need a dispossessed aristocrat to bake the cake (luckily, I had one to hand). For the sipping either Lady Gray or Lapsang Souchong will do, the latter being my preference.
So … take the day off. Relax in a hot bath during the morn (pre or post bath sweaty sexual and sensual massage nice, but not essential). A languid lubuncular lunch should follow and then, after a splendid siesta, prepare for and have your Sissinghurst. You won’t regret it. 🙂
This country I live in, this England I call home has changed beyond all belief. We use to pride ourselves on standing up for the weak; for being in the right. The saying suborned by comics ‘Truth, honour and the American way’ use to refer to us, but sadly no longer. We use to be the home of the free and now we’re the home of the surveilled. The U.K. now has more surveillance cameras per head of population than anywhere else on the planet. And, stupid git that I am, it didn’t bother me until very recently … when this camera appeared on the lampost opposite my house.
Supposedly it’s only there to put traffic wardens out of a job. Supposedly. Maybe you loath traffic wardens and maybe you don’t, but putting them out of work by increasing CCTV coverage is out of order. It is an excuse: this is not a big road I live on: it’s a little side street.
Worse: the camera is exactly opposite my living room windows. Underneath, a facetious little yellow on black sign – complete with smiley face – says: “Smile you’re on CCTV.”
No wonder we’re all slowly going downhill and becoming paranoid – in my case not quite so slowly.
I walked by this and had to take a photograph. It brought to mind ideas for all kinds of stories. Admittedly, most are dark. 😉
The nouveau-riche neighbours who feel the garden is bringing down their property value and will do anything to get it sorted out. Anything, up to and including murder.
The house has been owned for generations by a warlock. He’s frightfully polite, never seems to get any older than his apparent thirty five years, but has recently — some twenty years ago — given up on gardening.
The old couple suffer from dementia. She, who used to take the car out mini-cabbing, and he, who was in the SAS and has taken to wearing his jungle uniform complete with weapons, pack and machette. The postmen keep disappearing.
Sometimes the house is there, sometimes it isn’t. Two boys, who are looking for their football, stumble into the garden just as the house decides to transmigrate.
There are layers, and there are layers. Underneath the garden are tunnels that lead to other worlds, but passage is strictly one-way only, and anyone stumbling into the tunnels had better have a map.
In the lean-to on the side of the house, an old man sits, whittling. A young boy, playing truant, befriends him. Their relationship flowers as the young boy grows up; the old man tells his story, and one of the figures he has carved finds a soul.
If I’d stumbled upon the garden walking miles from anywhere out in the woods I’d probably think it was even more strange, dark, magical and odd. As it is there are quite a few dilapidated spaces around, if you only look for them. The gardens that butt onto the back of my garden, for instance, are equally unkempt. Three doors away a swing is almost completely covered by brambles, and I wonder what happened to the kids who used to play on it.
Mankind thinks it’s tamed the planet, but beware! Plants, given half a chance, will have their day.
I wasn’t in London. I was watching ‘Stephen Fry’s 100 Best Gadgets’ and being a thoroughly miserable git. I wasn’t drunk, or stoned, or having raunchy debauched sex. In fact, for such a memorable evening — the beginning of the year when it all ends (the Mayan apocalypse approaches woe, woe and thrice woe!) — I wasn’t being memorable at all. I was blandly boring.
Now, of course, I wish I’d taken all my clothes off and run around the fountains in Trafalgar Square stoned out of my gourd. Now, I wish I’d been fucked silly and come just on the first strike of Big Ben, it’s bell syncing with my scream of joy. Meh. Shoulda-coulda-woulda. No one’s fault but my own.
2011 wasn’t a complete write off. I achieved a few bits and bobs:
I wrote a bit, though not enough — when is it ever enough?
The band is now a complete five piece, which is great, and we sound really good… but is it what I want? The jury is still out on that.
I put together a book, though I can’t face reading it in case the typos are plentiful enough to paper my room. With an eBook you can make changes, with print you’re fucked. A truism to note well, my beloved readers. [snort]
B and I moved from the country back to the town, and the jury is out on that, too.
What I didn’t do was finish any fiction of length. Maybe it’s time to face up to the fact I’m not a novelist. Hmm. Why is that so damn hard? I know I’m English and I’ll never be French, or German, or Flemish. So why is it so difficult to admit I write short fiction but not long? Dunno. Weird, eh?
This year, this 2012, I have a lot I want to do. However, I’m not going to make a list of resolutions as I’ve learnt they are pointless. Pointless, do you hear!
We’re upping sticks and moving from countryside to town: from Pett Level to Bohemia, St. Leonards.
The reasons are numerous, but probably the most salient is the saving of £250 a month in rent, plus, it’s a house and a place we can be ourselves. For the last two years we’ve been living in this … umm, well, to be frank, a tarted up shack. The owner bought it at the very top of the market for £250,000 and consequently has to charge a ludicrously high rent for it. We viewed on a beautiful may day and, obviously, had on rose tinted shades. In summer it’s sweltering; in winter it’s bloody freezing. Worse, this year we’ve been bitten to death by mosquitos, to boot.
We’ve never put pictures up, B wants to paint murals and can’t, and I’ve felt trapped. The house we’re moving to is a different kettle of frogs entirely. We can do what we want there. Paint it how we like; do what we want, and provided we pay the rent, and don’t raise it to the ground, all is peachy.
Another BIG motivation in moving into town is travel. Whichever way you look at it, if you live in the country you have to travel to get anywhere. The nearest shop to us is six miles there and back: a supermarket fourteen, and petrol ain’t cheap!
Jobs. Unless you want to start a small smuggling operation there aren’t any out in Pett. Besides, ‘they’ have radar and sniffer seals and you can’t ‘bring in’ much in a radio controlled boat – even if you have one, which I don’t. I’ve a gas guzzling car, but it doesn’t count.
So that’s what I’m up to. Meanwhile, in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi has legged it and the Arab Spring is trundling on and gaining ground with every day. Odd it is how there are so many different ways to live the brief time we’re allotted on our lone planet circling a sun in the spiral arm of one of billions of galaxies.