Rainy Day



Yesterday was a rainy day. And unexpectedly so. Bad start, worse end. Trying to put it in context today (with Bach loud in my ears to block out someone else’s toddler), I googled ‘into every life a little rain must fall’ to find the source…

And the wise words of the final verse Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘Rainy Day’ seemed very wise indeed:

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Chin up, buck up and step up is the answer. The ‘middle years’, viewed from one perspective are one long list of unreasonable and irreconcilable demands. But that’s the price of being at the centre, and fulcrum, of so many people’s lives. 

Watching an older man limping awkwardly in front of me this morning (as I rushed from one kid’s activity to the next) was a reminder there’ll be plenty of years when I’d kill for this life. And those years will one day run out. 

I feel better for a hot chocolate, some Bach and some writing. There is no point ‘repining’; behind the clouds the sun is still shining.

Relevant Complexity

Relevant Complexity Link

Here’s to a brand new year.

And to celebrate I’ve bashed out a new blog, based on what I’ve learned about life, the world and everything since I started Achilles and Aristotle in 2010.

Time flies – or rather it doesn’t; a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. But ‘Relevant Complexity’ was a fairly early discovery, I first wrote about it in January 2012 here.

Like all good things in the writing life, the more you write about it, the more you think about it, the more it changes you and what you do – Aristotle said as much.

I’ll plan to keep both blogs going: this one as a reminder of what I was up to in years to come; the new one to remind me to live for the day and enjoy a life full of ‘Relevant Complexity’.

Mile High Spirits

Open in Emergency

Glug, glug
Pssst
Clink
Plink
Fizzzz
Ice
Slice
Mingle
Slurp
Tingle
BANG
Brain wobble
Cheery
Leery
Life
Gets
Easy

In the film ‘Flight’, soon to be disgraced alcoholic airline pilot Denzel Washington turn his back on a hotel minibar miniature. And then bang he’s done. Watch it.

He necks the lot, owns up to being a drunk at an accident investigation and goes direct to jail. Helluva moment in a powerful film. Ironic then that I tapped out the poem above on a flight home from Belfast whilst necking my own spirit miniature – a stiff airline G&T.

There is something in the tinkle, the ice cool fizz and the spirit hit which is more intoxicating combined than just the intoxication alone.

Dangerous things white spirits. I reckon they need to be carefully measured and properly rationed or they’ll getcha… just like Denzel Washington’s pilot.

Walking

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Freedom
Strides
Sky
Buds
Architecture
Birds
Small sounds
Joggers
No dog
Park
Get a dog
Steps
Slowing
Then
Home

For the first time in about a decade I found myself at a relative loose end – at home with the missus and kids having no immediate need of me. Bizarre.

So I went for a walk. Spring sunshine, birds chirruping and the luxury of solitude. Wonderful to have the time to notice blossom, roof lines, trees and flowers.

I walked up roads and cut-throughs I’ve never trodden before. And then it started to feel a bit weird, all on my own. And I yearned for our big old bristly stripy greyhound, who is no more.

Absent children, a man surely needs a dog on his walks. One day…

The Comforts of Family

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They know us too well,
But in some ways, not at all.
We share most everything with them
But fear to share the worst.
They see us change
But always want us the same.
They effortlessly hurt,
But love us blindly.
And when you fear you have let them down,
You haven’t,
Because they are you
And they are yours.

I helped someone this week, and in the process we reflected on the comforts of family. Our families sometimes constrain and limit us – but mostly in our own heads.

We sometimes fear they expect more from us. But generally they just want us to be there and with them. Careers and success can be gaudy wrappings; families care most and know us best.

Say it with pictures

Is there anything more naff than emojis? I’d always thought they were about the lowest form of communication known to man. But…

I was wrong. Perhaps it’s my recent trip to Japan – but saying it in pictures sometimes says it better than words.

This was my week:

📥📝📯📨📤🚜💩🐓💣👴👵💤👃🏃⌚️🏠🌵🌛🔙🔜⁉️

Probably only one other person in the world truly knows what this means. But the laughter we shared on opposite ends of mobile phones puts emojis on a par with poetry.

As Aristotle almost said, perhaps sometimes the job of the poet is to say something transcendent and universal about the human condition – in no more or less emojis than are needed…

🔚

Pulling Teeth

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Needle jabs
And again
And again
A chill spreads
Then
Pins and needles
Before wheeeeee
And
Grrrrrzzzz
And pop
And CRACK
And heave
And ho!
And stitch
And pull
And tie
And knot
And swill
And cottonwool
And pills
And bill
Then tingle
And dribble
And blood
In a trickle
Then chemist
Then bus
Then home
To a nice fuss

It is done. After 25 years of dodging the dentist – and with a mighty and reverberating crack – my wisdom tooth is no more.

A cropped top and two roots lay on the slab in a forlorn trio. Pain is due in less than an hour, but I’m nearly home for tea – and hopefully some sympathy.

More Sun than Shivers

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Rainy day
Heading away
Patch of blue
Half way through
Arrive at the coast
Prosecco toast
Beautiful view
Before Barbecue
A day on the beach
Tasty Cornish pasty
Bucket and spade
Castles made
Splashing in the surf
Sun kissed
And wind tousled
Uphill hike
Chilli spike
Before a greyer day
To harbour throng
Ferry wait
Great escape
Walk in the dunes
Steep hill conquered
Happy son
New sword won
And the day is done
Bright again
Beach beckons
Serious boy splashing
Brave girl surfing
She manages standing
Despite hard landings
My job’s to potter
From one to the other
Wiling away
Another sunny day
The next is duller
Overcast overhead
Family fun and games
On steam trains
Boating and putting
A fair few laughs
Despite it being naff
Final day
Clifftop ramble
Among pretty brambles
Perilous steps
Precipitous edge
Stunning view
Sea more black than blue
Then
Footling around
Stomach grumbling
Waiting for orders
Before
Late lunch outdoors
Sword fight
With small knight
Fish on the beach
End is in reach
Sun sinks
A sky of all pinks
No more drinks
Pack up the car
Final hurrah
More sun than shivers
Cornwall delivers.

Deux Mille Treize

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Early start
Car packed out
Road hit squarely
Awake barely
Channel tunnel
Bridges and viaducts
Coffee machines and petrol stops
A1 French roads
Reduce down to
Salt pans and mussels
Over water
Paradise lost
Paradise found
Dream campsite
Canvas, clams and camp loos
Washing up and hammocks
Sun, sea and cycling
Then en route encore
To sunflowers and cooling towers,
Overnight stop in
Rural splendour, with mozzies and Aussie
Toulouse trek
Arizona valley
The long and winding road
To
Swimming pool, shutters and searing sun
Pain, cheese and ham
Bendy roads and supermarkets
Barbecues and rosé
Hot and bitten, but not bothered
Splashing and laughing
Pink, then pinker then browned
Before lassitude and food fatigue set in
Le depárt
Massif drive and sick bags full to
Paris, pool and parking
Kir, Cupole and walking
Metro, dodo
Tour Eiffel and boat trip
Montmartre then long marche
Auchan, duck and Chunnel
“I spy something beginning with…”
Cars.
Blighty, black clouds, driving rain
Before Home, sweet same old Home
Triumph, acclaim, then bedtime
A fine vintage
Deux Mille Treize

Avoid Big Egos in Small Numbers

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A recent if obvious discovery (all the best ones are), is the very worst things in working life happen behind closed doors, in small numbers. Here’s some verse, to keep reminding me of that.

Avoid closed doors
Between rocks and hard places.
Unreasonable wants
And impossible asks
Come together in confined spaces

The acceptable is found
Not by arm-wrestling,
Shutting down or going to ground.
But by careful crowd-sourcing
And sharing the love around.

When being pressed to do something you don’t think is right, won’t work or will go wrong, it often feels like it would be worse in the company of others. But I’m finding if you can get others in, get it out and let the task hang in the air a moment – very often, the reasonable middle ground prevails.

The art is to fight the instinct to defend, avoid or close down. When bad things look likely to happen, it pays to ensure there are others in the room. Sometimes it seems, the more egos the better.

So my new motto is: ‘avoid big egos in small numbers’, one-to-one being the very worst format of all. Share the love around.