Sunday 29 September 2013

#40 Lordship Lane

Staying in, waiting for Naino's new phone to arrive didn't really sound more fun than Salsa dancing with Barbra, even factoring in the risk of being stuck dancing with some weirdo, which in Brixton, I'd imagine to be something of a coin toss. Still, we decided to do the whole friend thing and hang out with Nains for the night.

In unconventional fashion, I started the evening with a kebab. Do not judge me. Eventually the phone came and we headed out for some cocktails at House of Tiplar, which like some but definitely not all of Dulwich's Dulwichy places, just about gets away with being Dulwichy because the cocktails are actually quite good. I reserve the right to change my mind about this. 

To liven up the evening, Naino told us some stories, carrying the tone below appropriate dining room discussion level and probably below bar level, unless you like to hang out in... wait no, any bar. It kinda worked but instead of blowing our week's wages on more cocktails, we decided to move on to Adventure Bar for some beers. 

Now I don't necessarily approve of Adventure Bar in general, mainly because I'm not a nineteen year old girl. I'm pretty sure that even the one I dated back in January would think it was lame but it's local and to be fair it has a really nice vibe. Also, it currently has a table tennis table.

So Barbs and I started hitting the ball around, which was fun because she's competitive enough to try and win every shot, even in a warm-up and as a result the ball kept flying off and rolling under countless tables of other drinkers, who never seemed to mind us groping around for it.

It wasn't long before an off-the-wall guy with a south London accent joined in, accompanied by his large, dark mate, whose arms were large enough for him to have started going to the gym before it was cool to go to the gym. In fact Naino reckoned he was even too stacked for her. I made a bet with him that Barbs would beat his dodgy mate, which she just about did.

The evening wore on and we kept the table. After some time, two chaps with a hint of private school about them, who had been drinking since 11am, gallantly took on the challenges of playing table tennis and chatting up my two house mates, neither of which they properly nailed but I'll take my hat off to the fact that they jolly well had a good go at both. This didn't go unnoticed.

On his way out, muscles grabbed the chin of chap number two and made a comment about him needing to smile more. The chap followed him out of the bar. "That guy must be out of his mind" I said to Barbra, who explained that he was a cage-fighter and showed me a clip of him wrestling on Youtube. Earlier in the evening, Naino had noticed a large tattoo, which ran all the way around his neck and was just about visible above the line of his jumper. When asking him what it was, he told her solemnly that it was a reminder not to do bad things. "What kind of bad things?" She asked. He just shook his head. 

After standing around outside for a bit, cagey comes back in and we decide to call it a night. I found muscles elsewhere in the bar on our way out and said goodnight.

Sunday 22 September 2013

#39 Branching out

My new friend had been trying to make sense of the fact that I don't use my phone all that often. We met up for a drink and smoothed things over a bit, after which I crashed on her sofa. She'd been teaching me a few things about life and relationships. After saying goodbye, I switched my phone on and took it off silent. Perhaps I should do this more often.

I must admit that the curious sense of well-being with which I woke up this morning might have something to do with the amount of time I'd been spending with friends this weekend. On Saturday morning, I trudged home, napped for four hours and took the train down to Kent for drinks, followed by a night on yet another friend's sofa. 

Perhaps hanging out with people wasn't always quite as draining as I'd imagined it to be. It was still difficult to work out whether all the socialising had really made me that much happier but perhaps it's a longer term game.

Lela and I agreed a couple of weeks ago to do one new thing each week. As with the above stuff, I'm signing up to it in the hope that it'll improve me a bit as a person. Maybe these things don't need to be motivated by raw desire. Perhaps curiosity is all that is needed. When a person has a lack of direction, they might as well follow someone else. Something's bound to click sooner or later.

Sunday 15 September 2013

#38 Monotony

Chopping boards, checkered shirts
Caps and beards and some desserts
Have you both tried the cider here? It's from Biddenden
From Biddenden to Totteridge
Woodside Park to Putney Bridge
The salsa and the triple chips
McDonald's 2.0

Oh Monotony. Oh Monotony
Bacon in, or without
If you need anything just shout
The bar stools have a vintage look
Although they are new.

Thursday 12 September 2013

#37 Oh look

I was out for a walk today and the Lord came down and said to me, "you know what? You've been doing some good work recently. I tell you what...". He said, "you can do whatever you want tomorrow. I'll let you choose". I said "really?". "Sure" he replied. "Why not?". "In fact", said he, "I'll let you choose everything". "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well..." he replied. "You can wear what you want, eat what you want and do what you want. I will give you free roam of the city and beyond so that you may go wherever you want. You may drink what you want, you can choose any available mode of transport to get around and you can either rush or take your time."

"You see all those cars moving about on the road?" He said. "They all contain people. There are many of my people in the city, millions. Many many more than you could count in a day if all you did was count all day as fast as you could". "Wow", I thought "and I can talk to any one of them?" "Of course" he said. "You're still not getting this are you? Before you lies tonnes and tonnes of food, every single sport that you can think of, every single movie. You can dance, sing, pick up an instrument, any book, any puzzle or gadget, any toy. Dan there are many fine museums and galleries here containing artifacts and some of the finest works of art from all over the world. I'll let you play any tune, loudly or quietly, many times if you like. If you're tired, you can take a nap, if you're happy, you can skip or whistle, if you're joyous, you can laugh, loud. I will let you do things that you haven't even though of yet".

The Lord continued, "Dan as you go through life, you may do whatever you wish. Meet whoever you like, you can choose your occupation, the dreams you pursue, you can pick any toothpaste, they come in several different flavours. You can have favourite drinks, you can define yourself by what you wear, or not at all, I'll let you earn money so that you can buy things and I'll let you run and give you different types of weather so that you have something to talk about even when you can't think of anything inspirational to say! You can even choose lots of the thoughts that enter your head, you can do things to influence your mood, you can set yourself standards and rules and goals and values, you can write. 

You can draw. You can make lists and spreadsheets and... you can make a mess if you like, you can just throw everything around and dance in the mess, if you really want to. You can pour syrup on your head and set fire to something, make up words, video yourself walking down supermarket isles backwards, make snow angels in the winter, swim in the sea in the summer, punch the wall, water the plants, pet animals, watch TV, read about geology or genealogy or geography. You can see peacocks, or dive from cliffs or save sick children or visit the rainforest, fly a plane, tie a letter to a balloon and see if anyone picks it up, spin around until you're dizzy, eat chocolate until you're sick, you can choose where you live, who you meet, how you treat them and what it all means to you".

"Cheers" I said, walking off down the road. I had no idea what I wanted to do.

#36 Many meetings

I met someone new at one of London's central stations on Monday. As usual, I'd remembered parts of the directions but forgotten others. Careless. I hadn't even met her yet and she was already angry with me. That's what carelessness does. We had a chat, some back story, some context and then headed to her flat. 

The place was a bit of a mess. I started by assembling one of the cleaning devices and got to work on the windows. It seemed to take an hour or so. I felt a bit like Daniel Larusso. I can't remember the order of the other tasks. Fitting lampshades, changing light bulbs, hanging curtains, setting up the radio, the DVD player, the fitness watch, the vacuum cleaner, the blender, replacing batteries, cleaning and tidying in general, rearranging the wardrobe and fetching meals. It was kinda good to do something useful for a change. A good way of earning some respect too. 

She warmed to me, once she saw beyond the quiet, unenthusiastic person that she first met. Indeed one of work's greatest powers is to engage a person, so that they can then remain engaged outside of work too. She taught me some philosophy, gave me some perspective and pointed me towards more. I had only really been looking for company at the time. When you look hard for something, you often find more things along the way. I stayed until Wednesday and came home much happier in myself.

This blog is still at least weekly but I'm off work at the moment so I'm writing more.

Monday 9 September 2013

#35 A couple of minor changes

Sometimes at weekends I'll head over to NY Financial Press TV and listen to the market updates. This is largely because I love the flow and fluctuations in the way that Remy Blaire and James Sweeney read the reports. They seem to have started taking clips from the financial news network featuring someone called Donna Sawyer recently but her tone of voice is much more boring.

TGI Friday's is currently undergoing a major rebrand. After successfully removing the apostrophe from its logo in the US, we can only hope that the UK follows suit. Or can we? My personal view on this is that the restaurant should be called 'TGI Friday', or even just 'TGI' because all we're doing then is naming a restaurant after a well known phrase. To pleuralise the phrase doesn't make any sense so far as I can see and to switch it to possessive would highlight the fact that the restaurants or menu items belong to a company named after a phrase, which seems unnecessarily complicated.

Espero que possamos falar novamente no tempo.

Monday 2 September 2013

#34 Healing up

"How much is it?" I asked. "You want to go now?". "Sure". Ahmed asked me some questions. I told him I was twenty nine, traveling alone and what I did for work. He asked if I was scared. "No", I replied, calmly. He sized me up, puzzled. "You're scared of something" he said. "You're uncertain". "We all have a duty, a reason to be here and you need to figure out what yours is". I knew one thing and that was that I wasn't about to start becoming a Muslim. Ahmed was right though, in fact I was scared of practically everything. Losing my job, being in the wrong job, heart palpitations, getting sick, never finding someone, finding someone but it being the wrong person, not being good enough and that even if I stopped thinking about all these things and really enjoyed life, it might go so fast that at the end, I'd just look back and wonder where the time went. 

I started to feel better after the conversation though and noted with satisfaction that I'd actually met someone on holiday, which was cool. The fear and the guilt vanished for a bit. In fact, it had turned into a puppy. It's strange because I'm really more of a cat person. This takes some explaining. I'd been carrying this guilt around with me for a few days now, thinking it might be useful. All emotions do serve a purpose. I took it on holiday, expecting to feel bad for like a week or two. It seemed like reasonable behavior. I hadn't exactly been the most caring person in the world lately. By the end of the first night, I'd given it a name and an imaginary persona. It was this big grey rock, about eight feet tall that I dragged around on a chain. It wasn't aloud to talk, but it growled and roared. It did this a lot. When I went to the supermarket, it followed, lumbering along and snarling, dragging its feet. It was a bit of a pain in the ass.

I found Ahmed back at the paragliding shack, talking to a family with young kids, who were eating at a next door restaurant. He played with the kids, asked the family questions about them and just made general chit chat. As we waited for the minibus to arrive, I told him what had been bothering me lately. He told me that I should stop thinking about it. I  told him "look, I'm always thinking about something". He said "you should be thinking about yourself, here, now, not about someone else and not about the past, because you can only help someone else if you help yourself". "You're losing yourself and your liver isn't working". "Excuse me?". "That's why you feel so numb. You need to eat three times at the same time every day, eat lots. Eat lots of protein, go to sleep at the same time every day and sleep well." 

This guy had good advice. Ahmed wasn't right about everything. I had no intention of seeking out the bearded guru from the pictures on his camera phone, nor were the couple sitting opposite us father and daughter as he had guessed. Still I took a few pieces of wisdom from him and thanked him. As I ran off the cliff at 2000m with a scruffy, student instructor strapped to my back, I did manage to feel something approaching nervousness. Good, I thought. Focussing on something more fundamental for a change, like how far away the ground was. "You need to move" he said. I shuffled around a bit. "Move" he yelled. I squirmed a bit more. "Is this ok?". "No" he replied. I wondered what the hell he meant by that and if he had any idea where we were. I tried leaning backwards, then forwards and pushing myself up a bit in the harness and finally found a position he was happy with. Phew. We'd be in the air for another 25 minutes. The instructor managed to startle me by doing some G-turns and eventually we landed. I walked back to the shack and thanked Ahmed. Maybe she'll speak to me again one day, maybe she won't. "What's meant to happen will happen" he said. 

I walked back to the hotel, paused and looked around. I think I'm in Turkey.