Saturday 28 June 2014

#75 The journey continues

Collapsing into a kneeling position on the cobbled concrete, I pulled my hands up to meet each other and said a few words of thanks, aloud, for the experience that I'd just had. I felt invigorated and filled with gratitude. Certainly not for the fact that I'd failed to do this ten seconds earlier, when the passing groups of people had been a few yards closer. 

I always felt self conscious praying in public. I wondered if I'd ever really be be comfortable with it. The busiest place I could think of was Oxford Street. On a Saturday. If I could get there and move myself to the side, so as not to obstruct the shoppers, I could kneel and pray. They'd see me doing it, this personal thing, in public but harmless and perfectly legal.

I already knew that this sort of behaviour would make me a better person, so what was stopping me? Fear, obviously. A fear of... being judged? Perhaps it was reasonable. People did judge those who practiced religion. What would the outcome be? Maybe I'd feel slightly more courageous for a second or two. Some passers by might see a person praying and reflect upon it briefly. Maybe they'd wonder to themselves whether this person was underprivileged or part of a cult. They might, for an instant, upon observing that the person's approach to religion was different from their own, if they had one. Then, almost inevitably, they'd reason that their approach worked best for them, or they'd decide that they didn't really care about it that much anyway and then they'd think about something else. 

Of course, I was just guessing about the outcome. What would happen to a person if they prayed aloud, on Oxford Street, for ten minutes? An hour? A day? Would they get interrupted? How many people would see it? How many people's thoughts would be impacted? Would a very small percentage of those people give some consideration to whether they had the courage to do it themselves?

Saturday 21 June 2014

#74 Goodge Street

"Craft beer ho!" I leapt onto the train. It was six o'clock and I was heading uptown for a rendezvous with the notorious crew. "No girls allowed" according to the Facebook chat. That was just how we liked it. Deep in some musty corner of a north London public house, Ditch, Burrows, Shiel and I gathered to sup Portobello brewed suds and discuss the finer points of girls, football and social politics.

Rumour had it that the fabled Chunderland FC, our shelved six-a-side team, might be resurrected by its former captain to grace the leagues of Southwark this summer. Into the night we plotted until merrily we stumbled across the road and fell into the appreciative lap of London's cheapest pizza parlour. 

Shiel and I mooted the return of Keira, the house cat, from the prospective marital home of my old house mate. He agreed to return her the next day. Tomato and pepperoni churned vigorously about the lad's pieholes. As it turned out, she hadn't caught any mice but had been an effective deterrent nevertheless. This was the sort of job to which Keira was perfectly suited. A role where she could sit on her fat ass all day looking pretty. We paid her in cat food and cuddles. 

After eating, we headed back to the pub for a couple more and then parted ways. There would be more meetings like this. Ditch's craving for obscure brands of alcohol knew no bounds and before too long, it would be time again for it to spread it's wings and fly out into the night, searching for the perfect prey on which to feed.

Sunday 8 June 2014

#73 Life finds a way

It started with a few small bugs appearing in the downstairs bathtub, each one about 2mm long. I wasn't quite sure what they were or where they came from. They appeared to be some variety of beetle. Fascinating. I washed them down the drain, brushed my teeth and went to bed. That was the first day.

"Rich" I called, "they're back". My housemate wandered in to have a look. There were about two dozen of the little black things crawling around the tub. I realised that they had wings but they never actually seemed to fly, unless they saved this special talent for when nobody was looking. We started to wonder where they hatched and whether they could survive in water. Rich boiled the kettle and gave the latest arrivals a temperature shock, which cleared the second wave.

It wasn't long before the weekend arrived. I usually cleaned one of the rooms of the house each week and decided to check out the downstairs bathroom. This time they weren't just in the bath but crawling over the floor and up the walls. There must have been about fifty in total, scattered around the room. "Not bad" I thought, admiring the species' resilience and explorational tendencies. Grabbing the vacuum cleaner, I whizzed around the room, clearing every critter in sight. Two hours later, they were back.

During the week, I was up in my room and heard a couple of guys muttering to each other downstairs. Pulling a four iron out of my golf bag, I crept up to my bedroom door and listened to their conversation. It turned out that they'd been sent by the estate agent to check out some damp patches in the house, as well as the bugs. Shoving back the club, I headed down to talk to them. They had a couple of ideas about resolving the bug situation but would have to speak to the estate agent. Meanwhile, Naomi had ordered some bug traps but they hadn't arrived yet.

By the time the weekend came, the kitchen was covered with ants. Maybe they'd been feeding on the beetle larvae. The tiny insects had spread themselves out fearlessly across the floor, while the larger flying ants swooped, dived and crash-landed about the scene. I'd often seen ants form a trail towards food but these guys were just scattering themselves from one side of the room to the other. They didn't seem to be after anything in particular.

After vacuuming up most of the insects from the kitchen and emptying the contents the furthest down the road that I had yet emptied them, I kettled the bathtub one more time. Then, I sprinkled a solid line of baby powder right the way around the outside of the kitchen, creating a perimeter inside which the bugs hopefully wouldn't crawl. Even Keira realised what was going on and gingerly stepped her paws over the powder rather than messing it up. Later that evening, I checked the kitchen. The baby powder method appeared to have created a bug free zone, at least for the time being. With satisfaction, I put away the kettle, vacuum cleaner and baby powder and headed to bed, hoping that the traps would arrive the next morning.

Monday 2 June 2014

#72 Unplanned leave

"I promise I can change"... "No! You can't!" she cried. "You're not capable of changing and I can't do this anymore". "Wow" I thought, drawing a deep breath and lying back on the sofa. "I'm going for a shower" my friend called. "Do you want me to change the channel?" "No I'm ok actually", I hollered back. "I kind of want to find out what happens to these stupid Chelsea people next". "See, you love it!" She told me, grinning. I had to admit, it was kind of amusing.

There was something about watching those spoiled, good looking kids talk to each other about their relationship issues that I found comforting. Their unrealistically well-timed dialogues reassured me that there was something fake about what they were going through, or at least the way that it was being portrayed. "I mean how can he say he loves me and then cheat on me four times, one of which was an orgy?" "Five times" said her friend "Oh yeah, five times" she replied, remembering.

The four day week had been my last at work before a fortnight of annual leave. Typically, I hadn't arranged much for my time off, having hardly thought past finishing off some work and tidying my room. I'd spent part of the week wondering what my South American friend thought of the idea that I go visit her. It was a pretty last-minute idea that I'd brought up about a week before and I hadn't heard much back on the subject, so it looked like I'd be remaining in Blighty for a couple of weeks. 

Friends and colleagues had asked what my plans were. I replied honestly that I hadn't really made any. "I shall simply do whatsoever I feel like" I answered. I then realised that this in itself might be some kind of plan but was able to reason that if I wasn't completely sure a) what I felt like doing and b) whether I'd in fact do whatever it was that I felt like doing after I'd identified it, then I could probably sleep safe in the knowledge that I hadn't planned my time off. I liked this thought. It made me feel like anything was possible. In actual fact, a lot of things would have required planning in order to be possible. As a determinist, it occurred to me that whatever I'd end up doing was effectively planned anyway but as a human, I knew that in order to be stimulated by it, I'd have to have uncertainty as regards to the unfolding of events and this was, I suspect, the main reason for my lack of planning.