Friday 29 April 2016

#150 Noah's Ark

On Thursday night I made my way to Kemsing to celebrate my father's stag night. There were a lot of men there and none of my age. Dad was, as usual, in good spirits, being close to draught bitter and people to talk to.

I was introduced to a fellow who announced that he would soon go to a Rolling Stones exhibition in London. He had booked the tickets six months in advance. In this I was uninterested, perhaps because I had never been drawn to their music.

Next I met a man who supervised a large warehouse. Dad beamed as he gave his name, remarking that I had once expressed an interest in a similar career. I listened as my new acquaintance recited the sizes and capabilities of the forklift trucks that he was licensed to operate. His friend, who stood beside him, was a cheerful bloke and they moved the discussion on to exchanging tales of finding unconventional routes along local roads in order to avoid traffic jams.

I was pleased to be in The Bell and more so when John the quintessential Irish pub Landlord appeared. He had a most gentle smile and was pleasant to be around. At one point I had rare occasion to talk for more than five seconds about the services of the department that I worked in, as there was an accountant there, with whom I chatted until it was time to move on to dinner. As we had begun to gather our things, a very old friend of Dad's from school appeared unexpectedly. He was elated to see him and we stayed for another drink before leaving.

The Taramind in Kemsing is a good restaurant with attentive staff. It was satisfying to see Chicken Naga on the menu as I had recently become fond of it, providing it was a shade less spicy than average, which it was. Several of us agreed that we would return, among them a close and more senior friend who had housed my Dad before he moved into his current home.

There are no queues at the bar in The Bell. There's no annoying dress code and as far as I can see, you're very unlikely to get into any trouble. Perhaps you might consider the village of Kemsing if you are in need of a location for your stag night.

Saturday 23 April 2016

#149 The Grand Inquisitor

The Brothers Karamazov is a philosophical and moral drama written in 1880 by, I think, a Russian named Fyordor Dostoyovski. I may have spelled that incorrectly.

I am not in the habit of reading fiction, let alone a book penned so long ago. The sequence of events that led me to finding it however seems anything but unlikely.

The story of my friendship with the Brazilian girl, my conversations with the Turkish paragliding instructor and the days I spent in south west London with a woman, who also happened to be Turkish, are well recorded in this blog. An outcome from that chain of interactions was that I discovered the Indian mystic Rajneesh, a man whose discourses I enjoy from time to time.

It would probably irritate me if my interest in a particular philosopher were misinterpreted as an indication that I believed in their views. Indeed, I have enjoyed stories from The Bible as much as the lectures of Shelly Kagan or the celebrity Dan Dennett, though they might seem at odds with each other.

An element of what fascinates me about Rajneesh is that he was relatively well read and would often compare a religious viewpoint with that of an alternative religion or an atheist perspective without leaning toward any one belief system. It seemed likely therefore that were he to find any one book remarkable then it would be something of an apex in literature. Indeed this is true of The Brothers Karamazov, which I recently heard him mention and decided to read.

For all I know, it's on the reading list of every GCSE philosophy candidate and sits on many a UK bookshelf. I'm not sure and am perhaps glad that I found my own way to it. I'm enjoying it so far.

Sunday 17 April 2016

#148 Brighton

Waterproofs advisable. 
Don't forget to bring smart shoes. 
You're gonna be sharing a room tonight. 
We haven't decided whose.
Cause our Tommy's getting married. 
Two weeks Sunday so we hear. 
It'll give him a week to sweat out the vodka 
and another to work off the beer.
Now I don't know if you've been to Brighton
but I've heard that you'd best watch your back
There are blokes that might fancy a lad like yourself 
so stick close to Tom, John and Rob Mac
but of course if the worst is to happen 
and somebody gets set upon,
we'll break the sod's legs off like matches 
and post them back after we've gone.
Young Thomas is getting married.
In no more than a week or two.
His only delight is that none of tonight 
will ever get back to Sue.

Shackles of iron can change a man, 
which in Tom's case would be a shame 
but he's seems alright at thirty one 
and we hope he stays the same.
What's in store for our brave younger brother? 
Will he get rich, have kids or go mad? 
All we ask is he doesn't forget us. 
No chance after the night we'll have had.

Sunday 3 April 2016

#147 If the mice took over

If the mice in our office fed and bred until they outnumbered the people. If they freely pranced about during daylight hours. If it got to the stage that the office should close and I found myself in the unlikely position of having been replaced by a great many rodents, what would I do?

I imagine that the first order of the day would be to revert to holiday mode. My holiday mode isn't like this: Excitedly stick a pin in a map based partly on where a lot of other people go and then six months later tell everyone how nice it's going to be there so that they nod their heads and agree that it's going to be nice there, moan about getting everything finished before going, plan a host of activities, exchange currency and actually care or remember which airline they're flying with. 

I typically get a takeaway and then lie on the sofa binge-watching something on and off for several days until the time comes when I pretty much have to think about somewhere to go, except I already know that there's nowhere I want to go, so I try to manufacture reasons to go somewhere (people are absolutely stellar, in general, at manufacturing reasons, when they want to, for just about anything. It doesn't always mean they get it right but considering they're essentially manipulating their reality, it's still pretty impressive) and sort of half-succeed and eventually pack and get insurance and tell a couple of people where I'm going, all in a hazy state of mind that has resulted from staying up 'til 3am watching Jack Bauer murder people. 

I spend the first half of the holiday walking to places that I could get to in a fraction of the time if I used public transport. I visit sites for little more than the purpose of convincing myself and others that I'd had a productive holiday, even though what I really need is an unproductive one. By the last two or three days, if I'm lucky I've readjusted to a more typical sleep pattern. The absence of Netflix and walking around looking at shit, even if I didn't completely want to do it, has meant that I have ever so slightly more energy and greater sense of wellbeing than before I left, Then it's time to come home. The journey tires me out, I arrive back slightly fed up but still slightly more rested than I was before I left. I go back to work and pretty soon it's like I never left.

Except I don't go back to work. Cause the mice are still there. I'd have to try to find a new office to work in. There are a lot of offices in the country. I wonder if they all have mice in them too.